My Dark Protector

Chapter 32

"Black, what is wrong with you?" Severus snapped in utter exasperation, for two days the wizard had been acting oddly. Or should he say odder than normal? He was too quiet, and normally that would be a godsend to him since nearly every word out of Black's mouth made him either want to roll his eyes or sigh in exasperation. Normally Severus wouldn't notice, not until he began spending more time with the wizard due to their shared interest in Harry. Remus occasionally made an appearance, mostly just at night for an hour or so when he could, due to his workload, being the Defence teacher was hard work. Between grading homework, making his rounds, meetings, spending time with Sirius regaining their lost relationship he didn't have much time, added in the full moon he certainly had a full life to contend with.

Sirius jumped, looking almost bewilderedly at Severus before a perplexed frown appeared on his face. "I…er…well…I got a letter…a few days ago, I…just forget about it," he doubted Severus wanted to hear about his stupid troubles.

Severus frowned outwardly, but inwardly he remembered Lucius' words a few days ago about the potential for Narcissa to write to Black. To try and get them on his side, to find out what he planned to do with the Black seats or see if he would allow them to use them by proxy if he had no desire to use his political clout to aid their cause. "Are you being threatened?" Severus narrowed his eyes; he couldn't very well say he knew the Dark Lord had made it more than clear that Black couldn't know about any of it, not that Severus had protested, like at all.

"No, no, bloody hell, no," Sirius protested quietly, "Nothing like that!" Harry had just returned from PT, and as always it tired him out so much so that he fell asleep on the couch.

Now Severus rolled his eyes, why did Black have to make everything in his life a drama? "Then what is it? Talk to Lupin if you must, just stop being so…un-Black-like, it's disconcerting, to say the least." and wasn't that the truth.

"Narcissa wrote to me," Sirius blurted out, a pained grimace on his face, whether it was due to the fact he'd told Severus of that he was mentioning a family member not even Sirius truly knew the answer that one.

Severus' left eyebrow rose in surprise, he definitely hadn't expected it to be this easy or for him to say anything at all. He and Black hadn't gotten on at all for the majority of their lives. Black had done everything he possibly could to make his life a misery, and even when it was best for Harry, Black had made it his mission to seem as though Severus had done something seriously wrong instead of taking care of his godson in a way Harry needed caring for. Black wasn't equipped to deal with all that.

Sirius had, of course, come to that particular epiphany and accepted his place in Harry's life a few days ago now.

"And?" Severus prompted, wondering if he was pushing his luck.

"I…I haven't spoken to her since I was…what fifteen?" Sirius said, sighing softly, as he rubbed his face tiredly. "Hell, I haven't spoken to any of my cousins since I ran away and they haven't made any effort to contact me either."

Severus blinked, was that hurt shining through Black's eyes? That was unexpected. "You made the decision to cut yourself off from your family and as the Patriarch of the family, your father would have expected them to fall in line and cut you off as well. You know they had no choice if they were found to be doing something against Orion Black's wishes they would have been disowned. By the time the Lord of the Black estate died…you were in Azkaban…for the so-called murder of thirteen people and presumed betrayal of Lily and James…they wouldn't have wanted to contact you."

"Patriarch? You mean matriarch, right?" Sirius snorted bitterly, his father was definitely the better of his parents, but his father had been furious with his decision to abandon the family and all the values it held most dear. His father hadn't struck him off from being a Black altogether leaving him nameless, and that had ensured he could still become Lord Black…good thing too otherwise all that money would have been forever lost.

"We can't pick and choose our families, Black, and all of us have grievances we can discuss, the best you can do is get on with your life and let the past lie," Severus stated sharply, shifting himself just slightly, getting more comfortable in his chair, his gaze never wavering from Sirius who sat across from him on the couch, just inches from where Harry's sleeping face rested on a pillow.

Sirius chuffed bitterly, "And you've done that have you?" his tone sardonic.

Severus' black eyes flickered towards Harry, "I had to, life wasn't just about me anymore," he admitted, surprising himself by being truthful with someone who he would have always assumed would be his enemy to the bitter end. "He managed to instill a sense of…wonder in my life, I don't know how he can be so trusting…with anyone, but he is. That more than anything else made me realize I had to let it go or it would continue to drag me down." he was still very angry over many things, but the things he couldn't change…well, he made an effort not to think about it, and surprisingly Harry's presence helped with that. Helped him to see a future, one he with all his heart hoped that Harry would be there in, as an adult, a fully functioning adult. If not then he would be there for him to the day he died.

"Oh," Sirius murmured, glancing at Harry, he got the wonder, he really did, and Sirius had thought he'd never see his precious godson again. Then news reached him that he was alive…only to see his condition. Merlin help him, but it had broken something in him to see Harry so skeletal and hurt beyond measure. He'd assumed in the beginning that this was all Harry would ever be, only to see each day that he was getting better. Day by day he was awed at his progress.

"Does Narcissa say what she wants?" Severus asked, refusing to say any more on the subject of family or anything of the sort.

"To talk," Sirius said wryly, figuring that Snape didn't want to talk about his feelings anymore, not news; he didn't either especially not with him. Although surprisingly, everything he had said had made Sirius pause and think, perhaps it was time for him to let go of old hates too. Life was too short to spend it wasting those precious moments he could cultivate. "I don't get it, I've been out of Azkaban for a long time, why does she want to see me now?" the very same thoughts had been plaguing him for two days now. Wondering if it was a bloody trap, if so for what? It wasn't very Slytherin writing a letter to meet if they planned something.

"How about you meet up and find out instead of driving yourself insane?" Severus replied sarcastically. Gryffindors, honestly, they were supposed to be fearless, go where angels fear to tread but faced with an invite - probably to afternoon tea - from his own cousin he was acting like a terrified pup.

Sirius just scowled and looked away from Snape, when he put it that way it made sense, not that he had any intentions of telling Snape that.

Severus' lips twitched, eyes gleaming brightly as if he knew what Black was thinking.

"Harry will sleep for at least another hour and a half, now do me a favor and go," Severus retorted, he wanted to get a few potions done, Poppy was a little low on a few different kinds. She didn't trust Slughorn to brew them, which left it to him, he didn't mind though, he had plenty of time on his hands when Harry was asleep that allowed him to do what he needed.

Sirius nodded reluctantly, the 'go' was actually get out of here, Severus wanted him gone, not telling him to visit Narcissa. Although now that Severus had told him to get it over with…he was actually contemplating that. It was just going on eleven o'clock, perhaps he should write back to let her know he'd appear at Malfoy Manor at 1 pm.

Damn his curiosity otherwise, he wouldn't be doing this.

"I'll see you both later," Sirius murmured, slowly standing up so he didn't jolt the couch and wake Harry up, even though after PT he slept like a log - he didn't like the word dead even in jest associated with Harry at all - so slept like a log became his new mantra whenever he noticed Harry sleeping so soundly.

Severus sighed and inwardly grumbled, was it too much to ask for privacy in his own quarters anymore? Apparently, it was Black had begun spending way too much time down here. He could have told him never to darken his doorstep again, yet he did not.

He stood when the door clicked closed, making his way to his potions lab, using his time while brewing to wonder if the Malfoy's would have any luck with Black - he was too stubborn after all - if anyone could get through to Sirius it would be Narcissa, but if Lucius was there…he would bet old prejudices would rear its ugly head.

Sirius quickly regained his bearings after Apparating to Malfoy Manor, just one look at it made his stomach swoop unpleasantly. What the fuck was he doing coming here? He must be off his rocker. He wasn't someone anyone would be glad to call a relative! He wasn't smart or sophisticated, he was a bloody idiot who forgot all pureblood necessities that had been indoctrinated into him as soon as he left home at sixteen gladly! Swallowing thickly, he couldn't do this. He'd been so stupid in his decision to even contemplate coming.

"You must be Mr. Black," a voice called out, strong and confident, just like the wizard to whom it belonged. His lips twitching just ever so slightly at the way 'Mr. Black' flailed around in fright. He didn't want the wizard leaving before they had a chance to discuss something so he'd been forced to act. "Your cousin speaks of you often," he added, it wasn't painful to keep it up, he'd, after all, had to speak to many people in order to manipulate them to give him what he wanted.

"She…does?" Sirius asked dubiously, and it showed both in his voice and on his face.

"Not that she'd admit it," the wizard chuckled, "It seems to be a reoccurring theme amongst this generation,"

"You're hardly old to be considered older generation," Sirius replied, calming down but still dubious but now about this wizard's age, he spoke like he was his father's age or something. If only he knew.

"Why thank you for the compliment," the wizard said tilting his head just so. "Shall we?" a grandiose hand gesture was thrown in. He had before now gathered every scrap of information about Sirius Black that he could. Most of it he knew he couldn't trust completely since it wasn't from people close to Black, such as Narcissa and Lucius. Pettigrew would have been someone he would have been able to use, regretfully he was in Azkaban now, and he had no intentions of letting him out, he had outlived his usefulness the moment his duty had become known - he couldn't spy if everyone knew now could he? Even as he spoke, he kept a keen eye on the wizard, watching his every reaction as he had done since he had Apparated here.

"Sirius, I was beginning to think you had changed your mind," Narcissa said calmly, watching the approaching wizards from the front doors, hands delicately interlocked together at the front. "I am glad you came, it's been too long." she found herself surprised by meaning it, until she saw him…she hadn't realized how much she'd missed her hyperactively stupid cousin, to think her son could have grown up thinking him an uncle…instead, well instead it was as though he had no family but Lucius and herself.

"C-cissa," Sirius whispered, a warble in his voice, incessantly clearing his throat to get rid of it, refusing to show any more weakness.

"Have you eaten?" Narcissa asked him, completely ignoring the other wizard for the moment.

Sirius shook his head, no, he hadn't, and he wasn't risking speaking again so soon until he knew he wasn't going to get overly emotional.

"Let us sit outside, on the veranda, winter will soon be upon us so we should cherish the good weather while it lasts," Narcissa suggested, not that they would be completely outside, it wasn't warm enough for that, but a nice breeze would do them wonders. Narcissa led both wizards through the manor, which was as always very well kept, not a speck of dust to be seen anywhere.

Sirius looked everywhere, bypassing the still portraits, proudly displayed family heirlooms, through the sitting room, dining room and towards the veranda. A large pot of coffee - lemon, sugar, and milk as well - with three cups was already situated on the table along with an assortment of tea foods. Including finger sandwiches, egg salad tea sandwiches, cucumber tea sandwiches, smoked salmon finger sandwiches, roast beef finger sandwiches, ham finger sandwiches and chicken salad finger sandwiches the House-elves had gone all out. There were also basic buttermilk scones to savory cheddar mustard scones too sweet cinnamon scones which were his favorite, Narcissa had remembered, as well as Narcissa's favorite raspberry scones. Added with jams, Devonshire cream, clotted cream and lemon curd.

"Is your…husband going to be here?" Sirius at least made an attempt not to scorn Malfoy…much.

"Lucius is working at the moment," Narcissa said, a genuinely amused smile on her face, having predicted Sirius correctly - some things just didn't change - and Sirius was one of them. "It seems that some of Dumbledore's ideas have got Lucius quite excited."

"Excited?" Sirius asked dubiously. Not just because it was Malfoy, but because of politics! Who cared about politics! His eyes narrowed suspiciously, wondering if that was why he was here. But his cousin knew he loathed politics and wouldn't get involved, so surely she didn't think for a second he'd be bought into all that crap.

"Mmm," Narcissa replied, taking a seat, "Please, take seat, make yourselves comfortable,"

Sirius glanced at the stranger once before taking his own seat, out of polite habit.

"Sirius, may I introduce you to Lord Aloysius Ambrose, Lord of the Ambrose estate, Aloysius this is my cousin, Lord Sirius Black, Lord of the Black estate," Narcissa introduced them, barely refraining from smiling at the chosen name, it wasn't very subtle if you asked her, but it's perhaps because she knew. Aloysius meant famous warrior and Ambrose meant immortal, he had chosen with care, of that Narcissa was certain.

"Ambrose? I'm not familiar with that name," Sirius admitted with a frown, as he automatically shook hands - unbeknown to him shaking hands with the Dark Lord the wizard who had killed his best friends - he knew all pureblood names, his parents had forced him to learn each and every name of importance so he didn't 'embarrass them' as it were. Taking a better look at him, cerulean blue eyes, long black hair tied back at the nape of his neck, extremely tall, confident and self-assured in his own power, and he was powerful even he could sense that.

"My father's family hailed from France," 'Aloysius' explained, "My mother returned to Britain before I was born, she died giving birth to me, I wasn't aware of my birthright for a long time." he knew it was better to mix in half-truths instead of outright lying.

Sirius winced, "I'm sorry," he said emphatically.

"It was a long time ago," Aloysius answered, nothing in his tone giving away his anger at having to even speak of 'parents' while having to think of his own who were sorely lacking and not something he'd ever be proud to claim as his own. An almost squib mother and a Muggle father, nobody in their right mind would lay claim to them with anything other than scorn and derision.

Narcissa cleared her throat, understanding it was dangerous territory they were straying into, "Sirius, how have you been? Have you been seeing a mind healer?" getting off to a start.

"Not you too," Sirius groaned, shaking his head, "No, I am not going to see one either, the last thing I want is to talk to a complete stranger about my life or memories."

Aloysius gave him a sympathetic but understanding look agreeing with him completely even if the sympathy was utterly feigned. He didn't do sympathy unless it was for show. He knew this was going to be an extremely long and tedious afternoon, but if they could get Black on side, they had every chance of winning, of gaining momentum and seeing those legislations passed into laws so to better protect the people of the magical world.

Narcissa pursed her lips, "How have you been?" she repeated, the urge to ask him how Harry was, was very strong, but she did not. Instead, she finished pouring three cups of tea for the three of them.

"I…I'm good, better than good really, I feel better than I have in years," Sirius replied, accepting the cup she passed him, absently going for the milk and pouring some in.

He was so intent on his task he missed the knowing look Narcissa and 'Aloysius' shared. They could guess what had made Black so nauseatingly 'better' as he said. He was exuding excitement and happiness; he certainly wasn't very good at hiding his emotions.

"Has Lucius heard the news?" Aloysius asked Narcissa, noticing he had Black's attention from the corner of his eyes.

"How do you mean?" Narcissa asked, nabbing three of the roast beef finger sandwiches and of course her favorite raspberry scones on another plate. Stirring her spoon around her tea in a bid to cool it down quicker and stir the contents in properly.

"There are rumors of yet another legislation being proposed by Chief Warlock Dumbledore," Aloysius explained before turning to Sirius, "Sorry for turning this into a political matter, but I do intend to get into politics."

"Another one? That's over fifteen in the past month, when is he getting the time to sleep along with his additional duties?" Narcissa shook her head bemused, "I don't think Lucius has heard, do you have a copy of the legislation?" sipping her tea with the grace all pureblood women tended to have. Of course, Lucius had heard, he was the one that had told the Dark Lord to begin with, but they had to get talking politics somehow.

"No, but I do know it's regarding a mandatory healer evaluation upon your acceptance into Hogwarts," Aloysius told her. "That includes a history check-up, back to childhood to ensure there is no abuse going on."

Sirius snorted bitterly, "Not all abuse is physical," swallowing thickly vividly reminded of Harry when he first saw him.

"Most instances its both," Aloysius replied sombrely, "It's a very good idea, one that I wholeheartedly approve of, in fact, I may propose that such a thing be mandatory in all magical schools." it just irked him something rotten that it was Dumbledore doing it, he had tried to go down that path decades ago only to be judged by the old fool and his lackeys.

Sirius gazed at Aloysius, judging by his tone he had been abused as a child, it seemed to him that nothing was black and white anymore and he hated it. Merlin, he almost wanted to be back in his teenage body, with his stupid teenage beliefs things had been so simple back then. Hate everything Slytherin, be a good friend, a good boyfriend, now here he was reuniting with family, still comprehending everything his godson had been through and spending all his time with Slytherins.

Without realization throughout that afternoon, Sirius found himself drawn into heated debates regarding nearly every single piece of legislation that had been passed, tossed aside or being contemplated.

It took me ages to come up with the Dark Lord's name :D I hope you find amusement in it that's for sure! Everything discussed will probably be summarised in the next chapter still debating on whether Sirius would let anyone vote by proxy for him...or whether he could be convinced to go himself and vote for things to be done the way he wants them...I'm just not sure whether his character would do it...and I honestly don't like making the characters too OOC you know? would what happened to Harry be enough to change Sirius for the better? Would it take Harry actually innocently enough saying something to kick a fire under his ass? R&R please