Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Chapter 1 – Finding a father & plans for the new life
Harry Potter was lying on his small cot, in the cupboard down the stairs of Privet Drive number 4. He was trembling in between sobs, and could feel the pain on his back where his uncle had beaten him repeatedly with his belt. He was only ten years old and was already asking himself how much more he could endure.
He was used to receive beatings frequently, whenever his uncle felt the need to relieve his stress, but what almost had happened today had left him very afraid of what was to come. Never before had Uncle Vernon touched him that way before.
When his Aunt Petunia and Dudley had been away shopping, his uncle had beaten him when he was too slow to bring him the bottle of beer the man had requested. After that, he had started to touch Harry saying that he should be a good boy and please his uncle. Thankfully, it had only started when they heard that his aunt and cousin were about to enter the house. Uncle Vernon roughly shoved Harry inside the cupboard and told him that they would finish what they had started later.
Harry wasn't a stupid boy. Far from it. At school he would hide in the library from his cousin and friends, knowing that the library was the last place his cousin would willingly enter. He would spend all the time he could reading. He could escape reality in his books, and found his curiosity satisfied in science textbooks, where so many amazing things were explained. He always wondered how things worked; why the sun came up every day, how electricity gave him light and powered appliances, how his body functioned, and such. Every day he was curious about a new thing, and he found his answers in books.
He had learned, long ago, that he couldn't ask anything to his relatives. He had become friends with the librarian and she would always allow him to take some books home, where he quickly hid them under his cot. He was very smart but always took care of being mediocre in class, because if he ever got a higher score than Dudley, his beatings were worse. He used every night to read his books and found himself in a world that seemed magical to him.
'Magic', that was a word that couldn't be uttered in the Dursley's household. He never understood why his uncle would turn purple with rage when that word was uttered, and why his aunt's jaw clenched and her eyes became cold. He also learned to never mention the things he could do.
Since an early age, he found out that under stress and emotional upheaval, he could do inexplicable things. He could vanish from one place and appear in another, when running away from Dudley and his chums; he could create a ball of light that hovered in the air, while he read at night; and he could make himself float towards his cot, when he was too drained from lack of food and loss of blood. At first, he tried finding answers in his textbooks as to why he could do these things, but he never found a word about it.
He only found these kind of things mentioned in fantasy novels that spoke of magical worlds and fantastic creatures. But he had long ago stopped reading them, because they would only make him yearn to belong to one of those worlds, to be one of those characters. So had he limited his reading to useful things.
The small boy also took time to exercise his unexplainable abilities, and now, he could at least control them a little bit better. He could conscientiously make them work when he wanted to. Still, he could only do minor things, but he believed that with practice he would get better.
But what were his special abilities? It couldn't be magic. His uncle always bellowed that magic didn't exist and he had learned not to contradict him.
His beatings meant nothing. Harry had become used to them and he always did his best to behave as his uncle and aunt wanted him to behave, in order to avoid punishment. He made breakfast, lunch, and dinner; he took care of the garden; and he cleaned the floors and bathrooms... And he didn't mind. It had always been like that and he knew of no other life. But today, his uncle had done something different. Something he could perceive that it wasn't right.
Today he knew he had to make a life-altering decision. He could choose to stay or leave.
Harry shook his head as he pondered about it.
He couldn't remain here. If he stayed, his uncle would try to touch him again and this time no one would interrupt. He knew that it wasn't normal for an uncle to try to touch his nephew that way. He had never seen Uncle Vernon touching Dudley like that, and the obvious threat of pain, if he told anyone about what had happened, clearly indicated that there was something wrong about it. Thankfully, nothing had happened except his uncle weirdly stroking his hair and caressing his back, but it was clear that he wanted more.
He sat up straighter, wincing when he felt a lash of pain shooting along his back.
No, he couldn't stay here. He was treated like a servant; beaten, starved, and clothed with Dudley's discarded, old, and overlarge shirts and pants. And now had the promise of a new kind of threat. He had to leave.
Making up his mind, his green eyes glinted with determination behind his old, broken eyeglasses. Harry winced again when he stood up from his cot. With careful moves, he took out his old rucksack from under the cot, and stuffed in it some of his clothes, as well as some of his most interesting books.
He managed to silently open the cupboard door and he quietly crept to the hallway. Harry stood still, listening to the loud sounds coming from the living room. He knew that his relatives were there watching the television, as they did during their evenings. He heard no other voices except the ones coming from the television set.
Since he heard no shuffling of feet, he knew that the Dursleys were unaware of what he was trying to do. Carefully, Harry gripped his rucksack tighter in his hand, and he tip toed towards the front door.
He waited in front of it; still not opening the front door until he could hear loud noises from the television set. His chance came when he heard machineguns roaring from the set, and after a jerk of the door nob, Harry quickly scampered out of the house.
As he ran as fast as his short legs allowed him to, the sun was already setting. He felt tired and drained but knew that he had to keep going on. Harry flung his rucksack over a shoulder, bitting his lower lip to swallow a whimper of pain, and he grabbed his oversized pant's waistband with a hand, which precariously hanged over his hips, threathening to slip down, almost making him stumble as he rushed along the deserted street.
At last, he reached the end of Privet Drive, where there was a park, and, beyond, the highway. Harry stopped to catch his breath and sat down on the side of the road. He knew his absence wouldn't be noticed until tomorrow, since he had already finished all his chores, so he had time to ponder about what he would do.
Now that he was out there, he wondered if he had done the right thing. He was alone, didn't know where to go, and had no money. But he couldn't turn back now. If his uncle ever got his hands on him after running away, he knew he would be beaten within an inch of his life. No, there was no turning back.
But how could a ten-year-old boy survive on the streets? Where would he find food and shelter?
Harry felt such despair and uncertainty that he couldn't stifle his quiet sobs. He wrapped his thin arms around himself as the cold of the evening began to settle, and for the umpteenth time in his life, he wished he had someone who cared for him.
He was startled when he felt a wet snout touching his hand. He adjusted the broken glasses on his nose to look at the large black dog besides him, who was pushing his muzzle into his hand. He had never seen the dog in the neighborhood and the animal was very thin, his black fur covered with grime.
"And who might you be? I've never seen you around."
The dog licked Harry's hand and wagged his tail. It made Harry giggle, while he brushed his tears away with his frayed sleeve.
He cocked his head to a side, still looking at the dog with curiosity.
"I guess that you're alone, like me, with no one to take care of you. No one who loves you. Have you been beaten like I have?"
At that, the dog stopped licking his hand, and looked at Harry with a weird expression for an animal.
Harry sighed. He knew that talking to a dog wasn't normal, but he felt so alone... He felt the need to share his concerns, even knowing that he wouldn't have any response from an animal who didn't understand a word of what he was saying.
"I guess you could come with me, but the problem is that I have nowhere to go," said Harry miserably. "I have just run away from home. And do you want to know why? Because I've been putting up with my uncle's beatings and nasty comments for far too long. I even prefer the life on the streets than keep living with them."
He shook his head and looked away from the dog, as he muttered, "I wonder if I have anything to live for."
Harry remained silent in his morose depression. He hugged his knees and glanced up at the dog. He found himself looking into gray eyes which were silently contemplating him.
Suddenly, the dog barked and moved towards him. Harry scuffled backwards as the large dog came towards him. There was something very strange in the intensity of the dog's gray eyes.
Harry's eyes widened and his jaw dropped when the dog started to change before his eyes. It happened so fast that he barely had time to blink. One moment, there was a large black dog, the next, a thin ragged man looking at him.
Harry yelped and jumped to his feet to run away from the stranger.
As he tried to scamper away, he felt arms clutching his shoulders, and when he was about to scream, a hand was pressed on his mouth, and he was quickly hugged from behind.
Harry struggled with all his might, flailing his arms and legs, but the man's grasp was relentless and his screams were muffled by the dirty, large hand tightly pressed against his mouth.
He heard an urgently whispered "Trust me", and suddenly felt as though his body was being squished through a tube. The sensation quickly stopped and he opened his eyes.
He was standing in front of the man, in a street he had never seen before. Harry quickly glanced to the sides and saw that there were a row of houses in front of them, and that they were all alone in the street. His mind swirled as he thought what his next action should be. He was both fearful and apprenhensive of the man in front of him, without understanding what had happened.
Harry took a step back from the man and finally decided that it was time to flee.
Abruptly, a hand grabbed his arm before he could make the attempt.
"Harry, Harry, please listen to me. I mean you no harm," quickly said the ragged man.
Harry backed away from him, as much as the man's grap allowed him to. "How do you know my name? And what- what-? You were a dog!"
He shook his head. Had he imagined that? What was going on? Who was this man and how did he know his name? Harry was about to make a run for it, but the man's grasp halted him, and he stiffened when the man addressed him again.
"Harry, my name is Sirius Black. I'm – I'm your godfather," the black-haired man said softly.
Harry's body tensed, and he shouted angrily, "You're lying! I don't have a godfather. I have no one! If I had a godfather, he would have taken me, and wouldn't have left me with the Dursleys! He would have cared for me!"
A pained expression appeared on the man's gaunt face. He pierced Harry with his gray eyes, and said entreatingly, "I would have loved to raise you…but I couldn't. I was locked away. I escaped to see you. I had to know if you were alright. I couldn't take it anymore..."
Harry didn't know what to think. Locked away? Was this man some sort of crazed criminal who had just escaped from some jail? He certainly looked like it. He was wearing gray, tattered clothes; had black long hair filled with grime; and he looked as if he hadn't eaten in years.
Sirius Black was beseechingly looking at his godson and saw that Harry didn't believe him. He had escaped from Azkaban just a week ago and had spent all his time looking for Harry. He never thought of looking for him at Lily's sister's house. Not until he had heard some wizards outside the Leaky Cauldron saying that they wondered where the Boy-Who-Lived was, since he wasn't with any wizarding family. When hearing that, he quickly understood that Dumbledore had taken Harry to the Dursleys, and he had wanted to rip the old man to pieces.
Anyone who had known Lily knew that her sister hated her, despised magic, and that she would make Harry's life miserable. Thankfully, he knew where Lily's sister lived, since he had once accompanied Lily to visit Petunia, when Lily had wanted to mend her relationship with her sister in order to invite her to the wedding. James was busy with Auror duty and Sirius took the day off to go with her. It ended up with Petunia screaming at Lily about her unnaturalness and Lily crying in his arms. They were soon thrown out from the house by the obese muggle who Petunia had married. He would have loved to hex them into oblivion.
When he had found Harry sitting on the street, he was more shocked than he had expected. Harry was a small, frail boy with bruises on his face and arms. He would have never imagined that the son of James Potter would be reduced to that. He felt cold fury when he heard Harry talking about being beaten. And his heart clenched when Harry said he had no one and that he didn't know if his life was worth living.
He decided, right there, that he would take Harry to live with him. At first, he had only wanted to see if the boy was alright, without revealing who he was, since he couldn't offer the boy much. He was an Azkaban escapee, and first had to settle and plan what to do, before taking care of his godson. But after listening to Harry and knowing that the small boy was planning on living on the streets, he knew that he had to take Harry with him. Even if he had to live the erratic life of a man being hunted down.
Sirius' resolve strengthened, and he said pleadingly, "Harry, I can explain everything better once we settle. We can't remain on the streets. Please, come into my house and I will explain everything. Please, trust me."
Harry looked into the man's eyes – Sirius, was it? – and saw the depth of emotion in them, the hope shinning in the gray eyes. He bit his lower lip and warily glanced around. They were all alone. If he screamed for help, would someone help him? And if he did, would the insane man hurt him to make him quiet? The man was still tightly grasping his shoulder, and everytime he had tried to run away, the man had stopped him. He didn't know what to do. And again, he had nowhere to go.
"O-okay," said Harry uncertainly. He stiffened his back, and said with determination, "But if I don't believe you, I will go on my own."
He knew what the best option was. Listen to the crazed man and wait for the opportunity to escape from him. He would obey, as he had always obeyed his aunt and uncle, in order to avoid punishment, while he bid his time. And this man could be a criminal, perhaps he was an escaped murderer... The man looked weak but he was still much stronger, not to mention older and taller, than he was. Therefore, he couldn't fight him, but he could wait for the perfect chance to run away.
Sirius smiled at the boy. That was more like the Harry he had expected. He had to admire the boy for not trusting so easily and for his brief display of independence.
"Very well. Now, stand by my side and look up to those houses. My house is going to appear in front of us, and it's quite fun to see it happening."
Harry glanced at him with apprehension. What was the man talking about? His suspicions seemed to be confirmed. The man was crazy. He began thinking that he had agreed too hastily to listen to the man when, all of a sudden, the houses in front of them started noisily shifting and moving to the sides, and a house began growing between them.
Harry's jaw dropped as he watched the spectacular sight.
Sirius chuckled at his godson's expression. It was quite fascinating to see it happening for the first time. Even if he hated the house, it was convenient due to all the protection wards and the unplottable spells on it. His parents had really been a couple of paranoid bastards.
He took Harry's hand and moved to open the door. He turned the rusty golden nob, and jerked the door open, dragging Harry behind him as he stepped into the house.
It was very dark. Sirius took out the wand he had stolen from a drunk wizard, and casted 'Lux' to lighten all the chandeliers in the house. It was quite depressing and unbearably dirty; much work had to be done to make it a livable place. He had gently pushed Harry further inside when the yells started.
"YOU!! HOW DARE YOU RETURN?! SHAME OF MY FLESH! TRAITOR TO THE NOBLE BLACK-" shrieked the portrait in the hall.
"Oh Merlin," Sirius groaned. "I had forgotten about her."
He winked at Harry, who stood rooted to the floor with a befuddled look on his face.
Turning towards the portrait, Sirius yelled scornfully, "SHUT UP, YOU OLD HAG!"
Sirius quickly closed the curtains over the portrait and the screaming stopped.
He shook his head as he muttered under his breath, "I'll have to think of a way of taking it down. She'll drive us crazy."
He led his godson, who was strangely quiet, to the kitchen and he casted a strong 'Scourgify' to clean the table and two chairs.
Harry sat down, while his mind spun with thoughts about what he had seen. A house had appeared and grown out of nowhere; a portrait had talked; and Sirius used a stick and said weird words, making things happen... Just like when he willed things to occur...
He didn't know what to think, and all plans of escaping away from the man left his mind as he considered things further. The man could do things like the ones he did, but he had never met anyone before who was like him. And his uncle had always told him that he was a freak, and that no one else was like him; that he was the only abnormal one. Moreover, ever since entering the house, he had sensed something in the air which felt familiar; he felt a strange but not unpleasant tingling on his skin.
Sirius sat in front of Harry and saw the look of contemplation on his godson's face. The small boy was smart. He looked exactly like James. An emaciated, small, and frail James, but the resemblance was clear. But Harry's manners were like Lily's. She always thought before acting; she never rushed to do stupid gryffindorish things. A sad smile spread over his face in remembrance.
He looked at the small boy, and said quietly, "Harry, you must believe me. I am your godfather but I have been incapable of taking care of you. After your parents were murdered -"
"What do you mean, murdered?" interrupted Harry, looking at the man with a frown on his face. "My parents died in a car accident because my father was drunk. And he crashed their car into another, killing my mum and also the family inside the other car."
"WHAT! Who told you those lies?" said Sirius, abruptly standing up. He began pacing in front of Harry, as he said angrily, "James was never a drunk! And he would have never been responsible for the death of a family of muggles! James and Lily were murdered by Lord Voldemort and they were one of the most powerful wizarding couples of our times. Who dared to-?"
Harry felt his heart stop, and he looked up at the pacing man with large, wide eyes. "Wizarding? What do you mean?"
Sirius stared at him with a strange look on his face. He knelt in front of Harry and wrapped his hands over the small, thin ones. "Harry, you are a wizard. Your parents were wizards."
At the look of incomprehension on Harry's face, he came upon a startling realization.
"Merlin's beard, they never told you! Those disgusting muggles. You can do magic like what I did with my wand."
Sirius took out the wand he had stolen and gave it to Harry, who took it in his small hands, gazing at it with wonder.
"Wizards do magic with a wand. We use incantations to make our magic work through the wand. You saw me using it."
Harry nodded, his mind still somewhat befuddled as he stared at the wand in his hands.
He looked up at the man, and said uncertainly, "I can do magic?"
Sirius tightened the grasp on his godson's hands, and said with a small smile, "Yes."
Harry blinked at him. After a few minutes, he said hesitantly, "O-Okay. I guess- I guess that it could explain some things…"
He needed to think things further. The man -Sirius, he reminded himself- said he could do magic. His uncle was wrong. Magic did exist. Perhaps the house had appeared before him because it was 'magical', and perhaps the portrait spoke because it was 'magical' as well. It was too good to be true, but hadn't he always known that he was special? That his abilities were a gift and not something to be ashamed of, regardless of what his relatives said? Yes, he had known that his 'abilities' were special, and now he knew why. He was a wizard. It was surprising, but yet, he easily believed it. It explained everything.
He felt happy, even more when he remembered that Sirius had said that he was his godfather. Would the man lie about that? He preferred to believe him. The man seemed sincere. Then he remembered something and slightly frowned.
"What are muggles?"
Sirius sighed. His godson was a complete neophyte of the wizarding world. He had so much explaining to do. Then he clenched his jaw in anger. This was Dumbledore's fault! How could the old man do such a thing? He calmed down and prepared himself to tell Harry as much as possible.
"Muggles are those who don't have magic in their blood. They don't have our 'abilities', like the people you lived with. The majority don't know of our existence. It's better that way, since they would fear us and hunt us down."
He glanced at his godson, who seemed to understand so far, so he continued, "A long time ago we lived with them, but they started to fear our powers, and the so called witch hunt began. Muggles started killing us. In the wizarding world, it was agreed to distance ourselves from them. Powerful spells were used, and now all our towns are spelled against muggles. They can't find us and our houses remain hidden from them as well. There are wizarding communities in all countries and we have schools to train young wizards such as yourself. Our Ministry of Magic takes care of maintaining our existence unknown to the muggles, though I think that the muggle Prime Minister is aware we exist, but he can't talk about it to anyone."
Sirius looked at Harry to see if the boy had understood things so far. Harry, though he saw that the man expected him to say something, was too surprised and thus unable to utter a word as his mind took in everything Sirius had disclosed.
Could it be true? A whole secret world existed? Of people like him, who could do magic? Harry's heart started beating quickly at the wonderful perspective. He wasn't a freak! If it was true, there were others like him. Others who could understand him, and maybe… maybe care for him.
"There's so much to tell you," said Sirius. "But the most important thing is that you are the son of James Potter, who was a great wizard and an Auror."
Harry looked up at the man with puzzled expression on his face, and Sirius shot him a small smile of understanding.
"An Auror is a wizard that catches other wizards who have committed crimes."
"Like a policeman?" inquired Harry, eager to know more about his father and the wizarding world.
Sirius grinned. "Yes, but Aurors are even more important than that in our communities. They have to be very powerful and strong wizards. It's one of the most prestigious jobs in the wizarding world, though the price is high." He smiled in remembrance, and added, " And the training is brutal."
Harry shot him a glance, and said quietly, "You were an Auror."
"Yes, I was," said Sirius, looking at him with surprise.
"And what about my mother?" asked Harry quietly.
A sorrowful expression spread over Sirius' face as he replied, "Your mother was Lily Evans. She was a healer, like a doctor - I think that's what muggles call them -. She was a muggleborn. Her parents were muggles but she was born with magic."
"Okay," said Harry slowly, trying to understand everything correctly.
Sirius smiled at him. "I will try to explain as clearly as possible. Don't be afraid to ask." Harry nodded, and Sirius continued, "As I was saying, your mother was a muggleborn, so when she was eleven years old she received her Hogwarts' letter. Hogwarts is Britain's Wizarding School. Muggleborns are still a minority but they are accepted in our society. Before you were born, times were dangerous. Many purebloods, that is, wizards who have no muggle blood in their bloodlines, think that muggleborns shouldn't be allowed to enter our society because of the danger of discovery of our magical communities. There was a dark wizard named Lord Voldemort who wanted muggleborns killed because of this, and he had a group of followers called the Death Eaters. They were dark wizards who followed his commands. But there were other purebloods and halfbloods -those with muggle and wizard blood - who stood against them. Your father was a pureblood, of the Potter line. He, your mother, and I, along with several others, were part of a group called the Order of the Phoenix."
Harry's quickly grasped all the information and, while briefly understanding it, he filed it away for later perusal. Sirius was looking at him, as if asking for permission to continue, and he gave him a grateful smile and a nod.
"The Order was established by Albus Dumbledore - the headmaster of Hogwarts - first to fight against a previous Dark Lord, and later to fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. They were violent times and we were greatly outnumbered, since many wizards and witches were too afraid to oppose Voldemort. James and Lily were particularly targeted, because they were both very powerful and formed a pureblood-muggleborn couple, which went against Voldemort's beliefs. A while after you were born, Dumbledore convinced James to take you and Lily into hiding. I don't particularly know why Dumbledore was so certain that the Death Eaters would come for them, but he was right. James, Lily, and you lived in a cottage in Godric's Hollow. And they took a Secret Keeper. A Secret Keeper is used in a spell so that only that person can tell others where a particular house is located. At first, James asked me to be the Secret Keeper but I thought-"
Sirius clenched his fists and his face darkened. "I thought it would be best if Peter Pettigrew was chosen. He was our friend and would be the least obvious choice, since I was James' best friend and an Auror as well, so I had more chances of being captured. I- I will regret it as long as I live. We knew there was a spy amongst us, and I thought it was Remus. Remus was also our friend, but he was a werewolf."
Harry felt as if his mind was overloading and working at full capacity. He rubbed his forehead as he tried to assimilate everything. He perceived what Sirius was hinting at: this Pettigrew did something, something bad. But he wanted to know; he wanted to know the truth about his parents and how they had died. And another thing caught his attention. Had Sirius just said something about a 'werewolf'? There were movies about them. Some people liked to watch them.
'Not people,' Harry said to himself, 'They're muggles.' And he was surprised at himself for already making the distinction. But he had always known that he was different from the rest… special, somehow.
Misinterpreting Harry's surprised face, Sirius smiled. "Oh, yes, they exist. They are catalogued as dark creatures and they transform at every full moon and become mindless beasts that attack anyone. But Remus was always gentle and kind, but I stupidly thought it could be him since Dumbledore had been sending him to the werewolf packs to negotiate for an alliance. I thought that maybe he had been convinced to join them against us." He sighed, and continued, "Well, only Lily and James knew that we had switched Secret Keepers, so no one knew that Peter was the one who betrayed your parents."
Sirius stopped, and then said with an angry growl, "Peter was a Death Eater and told Voldemort about your parents' hiding place. I guess the filthy rat was really proud of giving his Master such important information."
"Wait!" said Harry when Sirius was about to continue. "What's a Death – did you say Death Eater? Well, what's that, and what's a Voldemort?"
Sirius face darkened, and he said with a voice laced with hatred, "Voldemort, or You-Know-Who, as fearful wizards and witches call him, was a very powerful dark wizard. A dark wizard is… Well, I'll tell you more about it later. But Voldemort was the Dark Lord, meaning that he had a group of followers, who were dark wizards as well, the majority of them, anyway. His followers were called Death Eaters and were marked by him. You can recognize one by the Dark Mark on their left arm. It's a kind of… What do muggles call it? Ah, yes. A kind of tattoo, a magical tattoo."
"OK," said Harry slowly, taking it all in. "But why are people afraid of him?"
"Were afraid of him," said Sirius with a grimace. "Thankfully he died. But I guess that some still shake in fear if they hear his name. Voldemort was vicious and heartless. He and his merry band of followers killed thousands of wizards and witches. There was a war and it was terrible."
"Voldemort died?" said Harry with interest. "How?"
Sirius' face was overcome with grief. "On Halloween, when you were a one-year-old baby, Voldemort arrived at Godric's Hollow and killed your parents. No one knows exactly what happened, but you survived. He tried to kill you with the killing curse -that's a magical spell which kills instantly- and it rebounded and killed him instead. And it left you with that lightningbolt-shaped scar on your forehead."
Sirius looked at his godson. Harry's eyes were moist and he was trailing his scar with a finger, but the boy remained silent.
A dark wizard had killed his parents? And tried to kill him and he survived? Harry shook his head. He didn't understand. Why had his parents died but he survived?
"You were declared the Boy-Who-Lived and the Saviour of the Wizarding World because you killed one of the darkest Lords in existence," said Sirius quietly. "But I'm getting ahead of myself. That Halloween night, I returned from Auror duty and arrived to Godric's Hollow to see James. When I got there, part of the house was destroyed and I saw your father de-dead in the entrance."
A sob escaped from Sirius' throat, but he forced himself to continue. "I- I looked for Lily and you. You were in your room, she was lying dead in front of your crib. I think she protected you against Voldemort and he killed her first before trying to kill you. I don't know why Voldemort wanted you dead. I always thought he only wanted James and Lily because they were well-known opposers of him. Nothing remained of Voldemort, the room was totally destroyed and the walls blackened and crumbling. And you were lying there looking at your mum..."
Sirius broke off and his body slightly shook as he choked down quiet sobs. Harry could see thick tears trailing a white path along Sirius' hallowed and dirty cheeks.
Harry felt numb. He could barely grasp everything he was being told. He was so shocked by everything; it was too much to take in. But he was glad that Sirius was telling him everything, without keeping any secrets. He was being treated like a grown up and he was thankful for it. Silent tears had long been falling down his cheeks but he wanted to know more.
Sirius was knelt in front of him and was now openly crying. He seemed so devastated, so full of guilt. Harry felt a strong attachment towards him. He knelt in front of the man and hugged him around the waist. Sirius responded by clutching him while weak sobs shook his emaciated body. But Harry needed to know more.
"What happened next?" he whispered against Sirius' chest.
He felt such rage against Peter, his parents' friend who had betrayed them, but he needed to control his emotions and learn the rest.
"I went mad with grief and rage," said Sirius. "I took you out of the house and Hagrid came. He was a member of the Order and had been sent by Dumbledore. Dumbledore had put a spell on the house to alert him if it was being breached, so he knew when it happened. I gave you to Hagrid."
He looked at Harry with eyes glazed by sorrow and guilt, and added, "Merlin, I shouldn't have. I should have taken you to live with me! I was such a fool. It was all my fault! I left you with Hagrid because I wanted to find that traitor and kill him. I spent the whole night looking for Peter and I finally found him the next day in muggle London. The filthy coward was going into hiding. I confronted him and, before I had time to react, the traitorous bastard blew up the whole block killing about twenty muggles, cut off his finger, transformed into a rat, and escaped."
Harry forced himself to think clearly. "What do you mean transformed into a rat?"
"Like what I did when I transformed from the dog into myself. We three, James, Peter and I, were animagi; we can transform into an animal. But no one knew. You see, it's illegal to be one without registering, and we never registered. So everyone believed that I had killed Peter, since he only left a finger, and that I had killed the muggles as well. The Aurors quickly came and I was apprehended and sent to Azkaban without a trial," rushed out Sirius, as if telling it faster would mellow the sorrow he felt.
"I was so mad in my anger that I couldn't convince anyone of my innocence and I felt such guilt that I believed I deserved it. Azkaban is a wizarding prison. Since then, I have been there. But I couldn't take it anymore. I had survived that long thanks to my animagus form. The prison is guarded by dark creatures called Dementors, they take every happy feeling from you, and many prisoners turn mad after a few months there. But I had no happy feelings; my best friend and a woman I loved had been killed and it had been my fault. I used my animagus form to prevent Dementors from feeding too long from me. A few weeks ago I finally started looking for ways to escape. I kept thinking about you and that you thought that I was your parent's betrayer. I thought you were raised as a wizard and, as such, you would believe, like the rest of them, that I was the traitor. I finally came to my senses, transformed, slid through the bars and went in search for you. I wanted to kill Peter first, but when I realized that you were with the Dursleys, I had to see that you were okay."
Sirius paused, and then growled, "I never thought that Dumbledore would leave you with them. I would have come after you before now if it had crossed my mind. Everyone knew that Petunia hated your mother and magic!"
Harry took in everything more calmly know, which allowed him to quickly ponder about what Sirius had told him. Finally, he thought about the last part. The headmaster Dumbledore was the one to place him with the Dursleys, even knowing that they hated wizards.
But why? If he had become so important to the wizarding world by causing the demise of Voldemort, why would he had been left to live in oblivion in a muggle family? Why didn't the headmaster check up on him? It left him with a very bad feeling. He would have to ponder about it once he was alone. He had so many things to think about. Why had the killing curse not affected him? How was it possible for a baby to kill a powerful wizard such as Voldemort. He knew so little about the world which Sirius was describing. He was resolved to learn as much as possible as soon as he could. But he felt exhausted after hearing everything. And his wounded back was still caused him pain. So much to analyze, so much to learn...
Sirius looked down at Harry and saw that pensive expression again. He had been surprised by Harry's composure during everything he had been told. The boy had cried and had hugged him, but he was acting like an adult. What kind of life had the boy led to act so calmly under these circunstances? Any normal boy would have been sobbing and wailing for his parents, and wouldn't have been able to hear so much about such dark and violent things. Instead, Harry had wanted to know more and had given him comfort, when it should have been the other way around.
'He has suffered so much and is still so strong. He is remarkable.' Sirius felt a surge of pride for the boy. But he thought again about how he had found Harry. His godson had run away from the Dursleys and was covered in bruises. When he had hugged the boy, he had felt Harry flinch but the boy had quickly covered it. Harry had said he had been beaten but he was determined to know more.
"Harry," said Sirius quietly, "can you tell me why you ran away from the Dursleys?"
Instantly, he felt the small boy tense in his arms.
Harry drew back from the hug at looked up at Sirius. This man had opened himself so much to him. He had suffered much for so long. He was his godfather and apparently was willing to take him in. He owed him to tell the truth.
He took a deep breath. "You heard what I told you when you were a dog. Aunt Petunia never really liked me and made me do all the chores in the house. I was treated like a servant, lived in the cupboard, and was rarely fed. Dudley used me as his punching bag, but the worst was Uncle Vernon. He always called me a freak and you already know that he lied about my parents. He beat me regularly under any excuse. But even to that I became accustomed. But recently..."
Harry hesitated for a moment, made up his mind, and decided to be completely honest. "Tonight was the first time it happened but I feared it would happen again. After the beating he started tou- touching me." He stumbled with the words. So he took a deep breath and continued. He didn't dare look up at Sirius, he had his sight fixed on the wall behind. "He started stroking my ba-back and saying weird things. It really frightened me."
Sirius quickly hugged Harry again, then remembered that the boy had injuries on his back when Harry let out a small whimper. He felt such rage, impotence, and hatred.
"Oh Harry. Harry, I'm- What... What happened?"
He was barely restraining himself from hunting down the muggle to torture him slowly, but he had to know if something more had happened. By Merlin, he would eviscerate the muggle if he had sexually abused his godson.
Harry could feel Sirius' anger and a kind of warmth spread over his chest. No one had ever cared before. And this man came out of nowhere and took him in. He had a real family now. So many times before he had dreamt of a long lost relative who would come and rescue him from the Dursleys, but he had given up that dream long ago.
"My aunt and cousin arrived and Uncle Vernon quickly shoved me inside the cupboard. But he promised he would continue what he had started. His touch frightened me... I knew it wasn't normal... that it was wrong, since I never saw him act in that way with Dudley, my cousin... And I knew I wouldn't be able to stop him if he tried again. So I decided to run away." Harry shrugged his shoulders, and added, "I wasn't leaving much behind anyway. I'm sure they will be thrilled that I vanished."
Sirius thanked Merlin that nothing else had happened. He felt a deep sense of relief. But Harry had suffered much anyway. By the gods, he would make it right. He would take care of him. He owed James and Lily at least this much. Sirius took Harry's chin so that he could see his godson's eyes. Those eyes, Lily's eyes. It made his heart clench.
"Harry, you have me now. I will never leave you. I will take care of you. No child should have to go through what you have been through. I don't have much to offer. I'm in the run and can't go out in the open, but I want you to live with me. I can tell you about your parents and about the wizarding world. And I will never allow anyone to take you from me again."
Harry felt his eyes moistening. He had someone now. "Thank you."
He cleared his throat, and added with excitement, "I would love to live with you and I want to learn everything you can teach me."
Sirius grinned. "Very well, let's get some rooms and let me check your injuries. I don't have any potions in the house but I'll send an owl tomorrow requesting some".
He saw the curiosity in Harry's eyes and the boy's eagerness to know more. He had so much to teach to his godson. He chuckled. "I'll explain all about owls and potions tomorrow. Now we have to rest."
They stood up and quietly made their way to the second floor. Sirius took Harry to Regulus' room, using his wand to clean the bedroom and the sheets and covers of the bed. He made Harry take off his shirt and was horrified by the belt marks he saw. But he restrained himself enough and didn't start yelling. He simply took a wet towel from the bathroom and proceeded to clean the wounds with soap.
There wasn't anything much in the house. Tomorrow he would have to request money by owl from Gringotts, to buy food and other things by owl as well. Thank Merlin that the goblins had no problems in dealing with convicts, it was all business with them, and after all, he was the Head of the Black House now. Plus the owls couldn't be traced back to Grimmauld Place due to the powerful blood wards.
He tucked in Harry and kissed his godson's forehead. Tomorrow would be a long day.
Harry woke up feeling he had never slept so well in his life. He remembered yesterday's events and smiled. It seemed a life time since he had lived with the Dursleys. So much had changed. He knew who he was. He had a goal in his life. He would learn all about magic and he would be a powerful wizard like his parents. He will make his own decisions and never allow anyone to have such power over him, like Dumbledore had had. His life will never be dictated by others.
He had spent the night thinking about everything Sirius had told him, and he wanted to know more about Voldemort and his followers, and more about the pureblood-muggleborn issue. Sirius had said Voldemort and his followers were dark wizards. What did that mean? Magic was categorized into different types? It didn't matter much anyway, knowledge was knowledge, and not bad itself. And knowledge would help him in the wizarding world. The more he knew about all types of magic, the better prepared he will be to protect himself from others. Never again will he let anyone injure him or belittle him.
He had also thought about Dumbledore. At first, he had been confused, but at last, anger had prevailed over over thing else. The man had left him with muggles. Sirius had said that anyone who knew his mother, knew that her sister hated magic. So why had Dumbledore left him there? Why had no one checked on him? Especially if he was famous, as Sirius had indicated.
It made him angry, since he had reached the conclusion that the wizard called Dumbledore had obviously manipulated things so that he grew up ignorant of the wizarding world. If he was so important, he should have learned about magic as soon as possible, and be brought up in his own world; not left to feel like a freak with magic-hating muggles. And he knew Sirius was angry at Dumbledore for that as well. He also wondered how the leader of the Order could allow one of its members to be imprisoned without a trial…
Sirius woke up and groaned when he realized he was at his parents' house. He had vowed, long ago, to never return. But alas, when times are dire, exceptions have to be made.
He smiled when he remembered he had his godson with him. It gave him a new mission in life. When James and Lily had died, he had felt as if he had no more reasons to live. He gladly faded into nothingness in his cell in Azkaban. He realized, now, that he had been very selfish. Harry had needed him and he had abandoned the boy to Dumbledore's clutches.
Sirius frowned. He had never suspected Dumbledore of being this manipulative. He had always had great confidence in the old man. Well, until he learned that he was not going to be given a trial and no one spoke up to demand one. He had briefly wondered in his cell, why Dumbledore hadn't demanded a trial for him. But now the question mattered more because Dumbledore had also intervened in his godson's life, making it worse.
He might have been a Gryffindor but he knew a Slytherin tactic when he saw one. After all, he had been raised as a Black; you couldn't get much better training than that to prepare you for the realities of life and to help you face the true nature of others.
What Dumbledore had done was a clear attempt to make Harry humble and grateful towards him; an ignorant child easy to manipulate and shape at his will. He was sure most of the wizarding world would be appalled to learn that Harry had been raised as a muggle, without knowledge of his wizarding roots. Their Savior reduced to a muggle! They would cry in outrage.
Dumbledore had clearly wanted the boy to be grateful towards him and learn only what Dumbledore wanted him to. It was evident that Dumbledore had feared that Harry would become a self-assured, cocky, and confident boy like James had been. And what better way of destroying that possibility than making Harry live with wizard-hating muggles?
He vowed that he would teach Harry everything the boy would need to be able to stand up for himself. When his godson grew up, he will carry a heavy burden. Dumbledore will try to make him the symbol of the Light and have him under his control. And the dark wizards will try to sway him to their cause. Everyone believed Harry will become a powerful wizard. And he knew, deep inside, that Voldemort could possibly return.
During his Auror days he had often heard, from captured wizards, that Voldemort had made plans to attain immortality. No one really wanted to believe that, but he had enough knowledge of the Darks Arts to know that someone as powerful as Voldemort would have been able to secure his immortality in some way. There were many obscure spells and horrific rituals to at least make oneself difficult to destroy. And the way Voldemort's corpse had been reduced to ashes was evidence enough that the man had done something to himself. The killing curse left the body intact, after all. Harry will have to contend with Voldemort in the future, or at least with the remaining Death Eaters.
Now that he knew of Dumbledore's manipulations, and the way the muggles had treated Harry, he knew that he couldn't remain being the narrow-minded Gryffindor he had been. For Harry's sake, he would have to accept his darker side and teach his godson everything he could. Even including some dark spells, since no light spells could ever help a wizard to fight against Death Eaters.
Moreover, he wasn't so sure about Dumbledore's ideals anymore. The old man was prejudiced against the dark families and the Darks Arts. He had always abhorred the Darks Arts, because his family had forced him into them, but they would be useful for Harry, for his protection. And he always secretly agreed with many purebloods that muggles were very dangerous and that muggleborns did represent a breach to security. Of course, that didn't mean that he thought they should be killed, or that they were inferior, but a solution had to be found.
He hadn't known many muggles before, but what Harry's uncle did to him was unheard of in the wizarding world. Wizards cherished their children and would never beat them or sexually abuse them. There were so few wizards in comparison to muggles that children's wellbeing was given high importance. Even more in the pureblood families, which usually had one or two children to make them more powerful; since it was believed that more children diluted the power of the magic in the bloodline. And even higher importance was given to the heir of the family.
His parents had never laid a hand on him. They had tyrannically demanded that he adhered to their ideals and beliefs but he had never been hurt in any way. He had never realized that. Dark families really did treasure their children more than light families; since they gave more importance to the bloodlines and the magical strength of their heirs, and because for them, an heir was irreplaceable. And he completely agreed with that.
Harry was sitting at the library he had found during his inspection of the house.
He was an early riser and had seen that Sirius hadn't woken up yet. His curiosity had driven him to wander around the dim-lit house. What he had seen had fascinated him. He had encountered very weird and slightly frightening things: a wall covered by heads of some type of weird creature, with huge eyes and pointy large green ears; a crawling hand inside of a drawer; an umbrella holder made with the leg of some immense creature, and such.
He had thought that he had seen a shadow moving around, but after waiting a while to see if someone appeared, and after hearing nothing, he continued his inspection. He had also seen many portraits of snoring wizards and sleeping witches, all of which resembled Sirius in some way. He conjectured that they must be his ancestors. He found it fascinating that portraits were alive and could interact with the living. Magic was simply wonderful.
Finally, he had encountered the library and he had felt right at home, if he had ever had one before. It was huge and held many books which he could only describe as 'dark'; already having some understanding as to what Sirius was referring to when he had mentioned dark wizards. It didn't seem so bad to him.
The books were very interesting and they all contained moving pictures describing spells and rituals. Others were more violent and screamed or wailed when he opened them. He decided to read those when he knew more about magic. Many of the spells were meant to cause injury to others or how to duel against another wizard.
He didn't particularly like the ones used for torture, but according to Sirius, other wizards out there knew this stuff, so he would have to learn it as well to be prepared. He already felt he was very far behind any other child who had been brought up as a wizard, so he had to catch up quickly. Thankfully, he was a fast reader and learned quickly; thanks to the reading habits he had fromed while living with 'the muggles', as he had started to call his relatives.
Harry was currently reading a book called the 'The True Dark Arts' History' and he couldn't put it down.
It told the tale of Morgana and her child Mordred, and how they had been the ones who delved deeper, than anyone before, in the Dark Arts; as a means to defend themselves against muggles who had started to turn against them. It explained how Morgana had argued with Merlin about the dangers of revealing all their abilities to the muggles, since they usually destroyed anything which they felt was more powerful than themselves. The muggles were also starting to create their own prejudiced religions which considered unexplainable things the work of evil, and this made them hunt down wizards, claiming that they were worshipers of the Devil. Seeing that Merlin refused to disassociate from muggles, she had taken Mordred with her to an island off the coast of what was now England. And Morgana had founded her own group of wizards and witches, who believed in the power of nature and the magical forces to be found there.
It was fascinating to Harry and he totally agreed with what she had done. After all, she had been right, many wizards had been hunted down and tortured by muggles who accused them of doing the work of the Devil when they were caught doing magic. He even thought that what she had gone through could be applied nowadays, since the Dursleys were a clear example of the muggles' attitude of her days.
Morgana had discovered that magic came from nature and that wizards were more connected to earth than muggles, since wizards hadn't repressed the flow of magic that flowed from the earth. Mordred had delved deeper and found a type of pure and strong magic, that he named Dark, which was hard to control but gave wizards power over nature and its creatures. So that's how the Dark Arts had been born and their group of wizards became known as dark wizards. They used magic to perfect their bodies and minds, and to control other beings. They hadn't used it for nefarious purposes until the muggles started persecuting wizards. Then, Morgana focused their study on magic to create offensive spells to help them against muggle attack, and they invented many dark spells, to have a chance against the sheer power in numbers that muggles had.
Harry was deep into his reading when he noticed that there was a portrait hung up high above the fireplace, which was awake and scrutinizing him. He looked up at it and saw a regal-looking wizard with long, black hair, piercing dark gray eyes, and commanding presence. He was dressed in rich green and black robes which looked to be the latest fashion centuries ago. The portrait sat still in his throne-like chair but didn't say anything.
Harry wondered if he should address him. But he decided to keep on reading. If he was bothering, the portrait would surely let him know.
Sirius had been looking for his godson for some time now and didn't know where the kid could have gone.
He had checked all the principal living quarters of the house and found them empty. He had even seen Kreacher skulking around but hadn't paid the nasty house-elf a second glance. That elf was too foul for his liking. The creature's reverence for his mother was nauseating, and he was an utterly useless elf; he had long ago stopped cleaning and did his best to disregard Sirius' orders.
Sirius was puzzled. The only places he hadn't checked were the rooms where only someone with Black blood could go in; for everyone else, the doors wouldn't appear. And they were usually the rooms which contained the Blacks portraits, heirlooms, and books. He knew Harry couldn't see the door of any of those rooms, but after two hours of looking and of calling for Harry, he decided to check them anyway.
When he finally opened the door of the library, he was utterly flummoxed.
There was Harry, completely immersed in a Dark Arts tome, and with the portrait of Arcturus Black inspecting him.
How did the boy manage to get in? And why wasn't Arcturus commanding him to get out?
Arcturus Black was one of the Black's most revered ancestors. He was a strict totalitarian who had no patience with children and regarded anyone not pure, clever, or powerful enough, to be a waste of space.
Sirius had despised that portrait when he was younger and had to admit that it had always intimidated him. The old wizard had been extremely powerful in his days and had been the Head of the Black family for over two centuries. Arcturus had also been the leader of the pureblood families when they formed a political coalition against the banning of the Dark Arts. And the wizard had succeeded, since it was after his time that most of the Dark Arts were prohibited in Britain.
He shook his head, and approached his godson. "Harry, I have been looking for you. How did you get in here?"
Harry was startled out of his reading; it was so interesting that he hadn't heard Sirius come in.
"What do you mean? I simply found this library while I was inspecting the house. I hope you aren't mad at me for looking around," he said with uncertainty. "I found the house very interesting and wanted to see more. Then I found this library and I have been inspecting some books. I like to read a lot and I know so little, that I thought you wouldn't mind if I read some of these books."
Harry saw that Sirius seemed to be startled, and he hastily added, "You know, so that I wouldn't have to ask you so many annoying questions. After what you told me yesterday I had many questions and these books are simply fascinating!" He was unable to contain his excitement as he rushed out, "They explain so many things: the history of our kind, and how the Dark Arts developed, and all the incredible spells that have been invented. I can't stop reading."
He finished with a smile, but became concerned when Sirius just stood there, looking at him.
"Is anything wrong?" Harry asked with a frown. "I'm sorry if I shouldn't have come in. I will ask for your permission next time."
Harry made to move to stand from the couch, but Sirius advanced towards him and rested a hand on his shoulder, to halt his movement.
"I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't mean it that way. It's alright by me if you want to read the books, though I think that I should tell you which sections who should avoid, since some are quite dangerous. But Harry, do you mean to tell me that you simply walked in here?"
"Yes. Why? Shouldn't I have?" said Harry, looking up at his godfather with confusion.
Sirius looked away, and starting mumbling, "It's not possible… how did he get in… it couldn't be, could it…"
He turned to Harry, and said quietly, "Only someone with Black blood could have found this room."
"How did I get in, then?" he said, trying to make sense of what he had been told. "I'm not a Black. I'm a Potter! Maybe the Potter line has Black blood?"
Suddenly, the portrait snorted and Sirius rounded on it.
"What do you know?" growled Sirius.
"Watch your tone, young man. You were always an impudent and ignorant child," said Arcturus Black snidely.
"Don't waste my time, Arcturus. Why did you snort?" sharply demanded Sirius. "How did he get in?"
"As if I have to answer to you," sneered Arcturus. "But given that the boy is also curious, I will tell you that the idea of a Black intermingling with a muggle-loving Potter just seemed too ridicule not to comment on."
"Spare me your prejudice, old man. Just tell me, how did he get in? I know that there has been no Blacks in the Potter line."
"I might be an old man, but I'm not blind to blood like you seem to be," nastily retorted Arcturus. "It seems to me that Black blood runs weak in you if you can't sense it."
Harry had attentively listened to them during their verbal spat and had reached some conclusions which were quite confusing. He decided to intervene.
"Uhm, excuse me, Mr. Black," said Harry politely, trying not to squirm under the portrait's stern gaze, "I can only reach to the conclusion that you think that I have Black blood in me... But that's not possible!"
He didn't know how to continue for Sirius' sake, but decided to go on. "That would mean, either that my mother was from a branch of the Black bloodline, which she is not since Sirius told me she was a muggleborn... Or that my father had Black blood... Or... Or that my father wasn't James Potter, but someone from your line. And that can only leave Sirius, and that's…" He faltered here, and turned to Sirius. "Or maybe you have brothers or cousins?"
"At least the boy has more sense than you," jeered Arcturus, looking at Sirius.
Sirius paid him no mind and turned to look at his godson. "No, Harry, I only had one brother, and he died being too young to have a son. And Lily can't be of a branch of the Black bloodline, since I am from the main line and I would have known if she had been a distant Black, because the tapestry..."
Suddenly, Sirius turned pale, and whispered, before running out of the room, "I'll be back."
Harry was utterly confused by Sirius' actions. He looked up at the protrait, and said uncertainly, "I guess he has a way of seeing who's from the Black bloodline?"
"You seem like a clever child," said Arcturus curtly, "and I can sense the power in you, little one. You will make an acceptable heir."
"You sensed that I'm a Black," whispered Harry to himself, as his eyes widened.
He was interrupted from his confused musings when, suddenly, Sirius pulled him into a tight hug.
"Oh Merlin, it's true! I never allowed myself to hope... I so much wished for it… but I never thought it possible," said Sirius frantically, against Harry's hair. "I envied James so much for it... I can't believe it..."
"Sirius, what do you mean? Please explain it to me," pleaded Harry. He thought he knew the answer, but he didn't dare to hope either.
Sirius placed his hands on Harry's shoulders, and his gray eyes longingly roamed over Harry's features.
"But you look so much like James..." Sirius whispered. He paused and then seemed to be making a decision. "Harry, come with me. I have to show you something."
They entered a room and Harry instantly saw a huge tapestry covering an entire wall. It had the design of a tree with innumerable branches and little white blossoms. Upon closer inspection, he saw names and dates on each blossom. He realized that it was a family tree. And then, he noticed the elegant silver writing on the top: 'The Most Noble House of Black'.
Sirius was tracing one of the branches with his fingertip and rested it on a blossom which seemed to have been burned.
"See here, Harry, it used to be my name. My mother blasted it away when I ran away from home. I never returned before now, and I haven't seen this tapestry since before you were born… I didn't know, she never told me..."
Harry looked where Sirius was indicating and saw a blossom next to it that said: 'Regulus Arcturus Black'. Then he saw a delicate branch coming from where Sirius' name had been and there was a small white blossom on it, with the words: 'Orion Sirius Black', and bellow, it had the date of his birthday.
Harry gasped and his mind swirled with possibilities. Now he knew what Sirius suspected. But it couldn't be, could it? It could just be a coincidence. He didn't want to believe it without proof. He didn't want to face the disappointment and pain if it wasn't true.
"But Sirius, it could be a coincidence. You said it yourself, I look like James Potter and Lily was married to him, unless you… and her..."
Sirius looked down at him and Harry saw that his eyes were brimming with unshed tears. He felt so much for the man right now. How he longed for it to be true.
Sirius took Harry's small hands in his, and said quietly, "Harry, I loved your mother very much. She was the only woman I have ever loved. We dated in secret for a long time. James was besotted with Lily from the start, but she couldn't stand him until our seventh year at Hogwarts. I didn't want to hurt him, he was my best friend. So when I dated your mother, we never told anyone. We were three years together until she broke up with me. They were dark and dangerous times, she was a muggleborn and I was a Black. I had already renounced my family's prejudiced ways, but it was dangerous for her and me if the purebloods discovered she was dating a Black. So she decided to end it. I understood, but it deeply hurt me anyway."
He heaved a breath, and continued, "She went on to date James. Even though it was very hard for me, James was extremely happy and I learned to accept it. But sometimes, I kept seeing her, I couldn't keep away." He grinned, and then added with a pang in his heart, "We kept meeting sporadically after Hogwarts. Until one day, she told me that we were truly done and that she was marrying James. Soon afterwards, they celebrated that Lily was pregnant. I never questioned that you were James'…"
His face was consumed by sadness as he said, "I understand now why she did it. If she had bore the child of a Black, Voldemort and his Death Eaters would have become a threat to her and you. And when you grew up, you would have the pressure of becoming the Black Heir and the Death Eaters would have wanted you to join them. Lily didn't know how long the war was going to last and she didn't want that future for you. So I think that when she found out she was pregnant, she broke up with me and accepted James' proposal. I know he had been insisting on marrying for quite some time, but she always put it off, for my sake. She still hadn't decided. When you came along, she only thought of protecting you."
Sirius stroked Harry's hair. "It's true, you look just like James. Too much alike for it to be natural. She was a very intelligent and powerful witch. I think she did a blood ritual for you to look like him. But it can be reversed now that I know of it."
He looked uncertainly at Harry, as if waiting for his acceptance. Harry just nodded his head, too lost for words, as his chest constricted with hope.
Sirius quietly continued, "I envied James so much when he ended up with everything I had dreamed of. I can't even be angry at her. She did it for you and thanks to her I have you. She acknowledged you as my son. You see, she had to have done a naming ritual and named you Orion Sirius for the tapestry to have this information. Those rituals are only done by dark pureblood families, James wouldn't have asked for one. She was the only one who knew how I wanted to name my son."
Abruptly, Sirius tighly hugged Harry, lifting him off the floor. With unshed tears of happiness and longing, he whispered fiercely, "You are my son… I have a son!"
Harry embraced his father back and shed silent tears of joy against his chest. He had a father... He had a father. Nothing could ever top this moment.
It had been a busy couple of weeks. Sirius had been cheerfull and full of energy. He wanted to spend every waking hour with his son. The more he knew the boy, the more he loved him, and the more intense that strange new feeling became.
He had already grown accustomed to calling and thinking of him as Orion; he had always thought that it was a beautiful name. And he was proud of Orion. The boy had a sharp mind, was caring and patient, and loved to read. Orion reminded him so much of Lily that it made his heart clench every time he looked at his son. And Orion seemed so much happier than ever before.
He knew that the kid had wanted a family badly and Orion didn't hesitate to show his affection. He had spent all his time telling him about the wizarding world, the Marauders, Hogwarts, and Lily; though of her, he spoke briefly, since sometimes the sorrow made him break off. And he had already started teaching him about pureblood customs and the Black family history.
He would have never thought that he would teach his son these things, considering that he had rebelled against it in his youth. But now that he was a father, he wanted his son, who was the Heir of the Noble House of Black, to be prepared to assume his title. He felt it his obligation to prepare well his heir. Never before had he cared about heirs, but now he understood a little bit better his parents, and what a disappointment he must have been for them.
That didn't mean he regretted it. He had had a blast of a time living with James and being in Gryffindor house. He wouldn't change it for the world. But now that he was more mature – though not by much, he was happy and proud to concede -, and now that he was responsible for another's wellbeing, he wanted his son to be the best and to be prepared to deal with purebloods.
The day after the 'discovery' - as they referred to it through grins - he had found the dark spell that would neutralize Lily's blood ritual and make Orion's true appearance show.
After researching enough to see that it wouldn't hurt the boy, he had cast the spell and was marveled at what he saw. Orion was a true Black. He held all the Black characteristic features: the smooth, slightly wavy, black hair; the high cheek bones; the patrician nose; the pearly white skin; and the slender body. And, thankfully, Orion still had Lily's green eyes.
That was one feature which Sirius had hoped that his son would keep. The good thing was that Orion's vision had also been restored. Thankfully, the Blacks, unlike the Potters, always had perfect vision. Orion was still small for his age, and he ascribed this to Orion's days with the Dursleys. But he made sure that his son was eating more and the boy had started to fill out.
Sirius had purchased all types of potions and had used them to heal Orion's wounds and scars. He had even noticed that Orion carried himself differently. It made him smile when he recognized that Orion had imitated his way of walking and moving. The small boy was more confident and was already showing his independence by deciding which books he wanted to read.
After a talk with Orion about the Dark Arts, Sirius finally relented to his son's stubbornness and pleads, and allowed Orion to read the books in the Black library. But Orion had to call for Sirius when he wanted to read one of the more dangerous ones. So that Sirius could be in the room with him, just to make sure that his son could manage them. So far they hadn't had any problems.
At first, he had been concerned that Orion was studying the Dark Arts, even if he knew that Orion needed to know what his enemies already knew. But soon, he learned that Orion was quite capable of discerning useful spells from the truly evil ones. He had lent his wand to Orion for spell practice, knowing that the Ministry had no way of sensing the use of underage magic through the Black wards. And he was already planning on having an outing to get Orion a wand of his own.
They had also extensively talked about their future. They shared a similar opinion on Dumbledore, which greatly amused Sirius, again proving that the boy was clever and perceptive. And it was decided that it would be risky if Orion went to Hogwarts.
Sirius told Orion his suspicions about Voldemort's possible reappearance, and therefore, it was decided that Orion should go to Durmstrang; where he would learn more about dueling and the Dark Arts than anywhere else, and where he could be in contact with the type of purebloods who supported Voldemort, in that way making himself more inconspicuous.
Voldemort would hardly suspect that the Heir of the House of Black was really Harry Potter. What better way for his son to remain hidden than in front of the purebloods' nose? And that had been Orion's idea. Sirius had come to believe that if his son had gone to Hogwarts, he would have been in Slytherin. And, surprisingly, it hadn't bothered him. Instead, it made him relax, knowing that the boy could be cunning enough, for he would need it in the future.
Sirius had also told Orion that he thought they should leave Britain and go to Black Manor in Moscow. The Blacks had several estates in different countries, but Sirius knew that in Moscow less questions would be asked, and no one would bother to tell the English that they had an Azkaban escapee there.
The magical community in Moscow was the center of the wizarding community of Eastern Europe, and was far larger and varied than the one in England. They were also uncommonly loyal to the pureblood families which had long-standing roots in the country. And the Blacks were one of the oldest lines to hold an interest there. Indeed, almost every pureblood family worth their salt had manors in Moscow, since it had been the old capital of the wizarding world before the War with Lord Grindewald. And the Black Manor had even better protection wards than the ones of Grimmauld Place, since the sheer amount of magic in the air reinforced them.
Orion had readily agreed because he had read about Moscow and was quite excited to see it, since it was the largest magical community that openly accepted both dark and light wizards. And it represented an opportunity to learn spells that few in Britain would know about.
He had also explained to his father that he wanted to have the liberty of deciding his own side in the war. He agreed with both sides on some aspects, and he needed to interact more with purebloods and dark wizards in order to form his own opinion.
He didn't know if he was considering the dark side as a way of rebelling against Dumbledore -who he hadn't met but was certain that the wizard was to blame for what he had endured with the Dursleys-, or if he was truly considering it as a possibility. Perhaps it was out of curiosity and due to the need to learn more, before taking a side.
He honestly told Sirius that even if Voldemort had killed his mum and James, he had done it as an act of war and that was understandable. But, on the other hand, he didn't like Voldemort's terror tactics or belief in the extermination of muggleborns. But he didn't like Dumbledore's manipulations and his prejudice against the Dark Arts and naiveté about the muggles, either, so he was still unconvinced about whom to support.
And he knew that he would have to choose eventually, because even though he would be Orion Black in the eyes of the world, he knew that sooner or later he would be dragged into the war. Be it either because he was a Black or because someone would discover that he was the Boy-Who-Lived.
Sirius, at first, was startled and worried by his son's unemotional take on things. But as Orion explained his opinions throroughly and convincingly, Sirius understood that his son always tried to analyze everything rationally. And he couldn't really expect Orion to get all emotional over Lily's death. Orion had never known her, and therefore, he couldn't feel her demise deeply. But still, it made Sirius nervous that his son was considering Voldemort's side as a possible one to take. Nevertheless, he quickly assured Orion that he would stand by him in whichever side he chose. But Sirius also pointed out that Voldemort had wanted to kill Orion specifically, and that they still didn't know why, and that information was vital for them.
So Sirius had proposed that he should make contact with some pureblood families and old Death Eaters, and enter their circle so that he could find out what they knew; because they would be the ones who would have heard any rumors about Voldemort's reasons for the attack. Sirius didn't think he would have any problems in entering that sphere, since he was the Head of the Black House, and because everyone, except the Inner Circle Death Eaters, thought that he was the one who had betrayed the Potters to Lord Voldemort. And he could deal with the Death Eaters saying that his stay at Azkaban had made him realize the errors of his ways.
Orion wasn't too happy about his newly found and already beloved father taking such risks, but acknowledged that they needed inside information, so he finally relented and agreed to Sirius' plans.
A subject that had been brought up by Orion, was that he couldn't say that Lily Evans had been his mother or even that his mother wasn't a pureblood, since he would also be moving in pureblood circles. So he didn't know what to answer if questioned about his mother.
Sirius took some time to consider this. If blood was taken from Orion to make a potion to reveal his ancestry, only the Black name would appear. Since those potions only recognized established wizarding bloodlines, and marked 'unknown' if it couldn't find any match. But Sirius didn't know about all the potions that existed nowadays, there could be new ones which were better and which could say how much muggle blood Orion had, and maybe there was an obscure spell that could do the same. He really had no solution for that. He only told Orion that he would need to be careful.
But about the name of his mother… Sirius remembered that he had briefly dated a French witch who had been visiting with her family. He had met her at the Potters' and they had an affair that lasted a few weeks. She was from a minor pureblood French family. He had later learned, that soon after their affair, she and her parents - who were the last of the line - had died in a Death Eater raid in wizarding Nice. Her name was Veronique Valcroix.
Orion could say that she had been his mother and that she had died shortly after having him. And that some nursemaid had abandoned him in an orphanage - "That's not far from the truth, given my former living conditions," Orion had bitterly commented –. It would be congruent with the potion's results, since the Valcroix were a minor family that would show up as unknown. And if any potion or spell detected muggle blood, Orion could say that it came from the Valcroix line. As long as it didn't show what percentage of his blood was muggle, it would be a credible explanation.
The problem which still remained was Orion's scar. It was far too recognizable as Harry Potter's scar and they wanted to completely distance themselves from any ties to Harry Potter. Orion would be much safer, from both Voldemort and Dumbledore, if they never found out who Orion was and if they believed that Harry Potter was still living in the streets of London.
They had spoken to Phineas Nigellus' portrait, who had been very interested in meeting the Black Heir, and they had been told that Dumbledore was already aware of Harry's escape and had several wizards looking for him in London, but had found nothing so far.
Orion pondered about the scar issue and asked Sirius if there wasn't any dark spell or blood ritual that could conceal the scar, even if it didn't permanently remove it. Sirius didn't know, so Orion spent the last week researching in the library, to find something that could help, while Sirius made the plans for their departure.
Sirius wrote letters to Igor Karkaroff, Headmaster of Durmstrang, letting him know that he expected an acceptance letter for his son, a year from now. And he sent a letter to Gringotts, requesting a transfer of all his money to their office in Moscow; letting them know that he was taking command of all Black vaults and properties as the Head of the Black House. And clearly stating that no one should be given information about his account movements or he would take his business elsewhere. It was an unnecessary threat, but he made it just in case.
Whenever Sirius thought about Orion, he would smile to himself. Shockingly enough, both his mother's portrait and Kreacher had taken a liking to the boy, after they had seen his true appearance and discovered that the boy spent a vast amount of time studying the Dark Arts. And Arcturus Black's acceptance of Orion sealed the deal.
His mother's portrait was more chipper than he had ever seen her - if she could even be considered able of being chirpy - and loudly declared that finally the Black family would have a worthy heir and that Orion was the only good thing that her unworthy son, Sirius, had ever done. She still barely tolerated Sirius and he knew she only did so for Orion's sake. It still amazed him to see his son easily discussing spells with her, and even more, to see her smile sweetly at the boy.
Orion also spent much of his time quietly talking with Arcturus. The old, stern wizard had taken a real liking to Orion, and it made Sirius wonder if Arcturus knew that the boy was a halfblood. Sirius could never hear what they discussed, but they seemed to thoroughly enjoy talking to each other. He had already assured Orion that Arcturus also had a portrait at Black Manor.
That boy could really charm anyone. Sirius liked to think that it was his own flashing personality which Orion had inherited. But he knew that Orion was quite different from himself. It puzzled him some times.
His son could be cute and charming when he wanted, but was usually quiet and introspective. Orion could be witty and funny, but always spoke calmly and gently. His son was gaining confidence and self-esteem, and was very handsome, but he never boasted or was arrogant. He was highly intelligent, and was acquiring a lot of knowledge through his extensive reading, but never bragged or showed off. Orion enjoyed the Dark Arts, and could be cold when required, but there was always a softness and innocence about him. The boy was quite complex.
Sirius hadn't thought of training him in dueling yet, since Orion was still too young. But after being followed around the house, listening to Orion's soft spoken persuasions, he finally relented and promised him he would get him a tutor when they had settled in Moscow. Orion left him with a satisfied smile.
But Sirius always smiled at himself, even knowing that his own son had him wrapped around his little finger.
Two weeks later, everything was ready, and Orion had a heartfelt farewell with his grandma - as she insisted he called her - because she didn't have a portrait in Moscow's Black Manor.
'Blessed Merlin that the Manor is from my father's side of the Black family, and that I won't have to put up with the old hag,' Sirius had thought, with a deep sigh of relief, and a goofy grin on his face as he thought about the possibility to teach his son how to play Quidditch.