Disclaimer: Not my characters - I'm borrowing this whole world from JKR.
Sirius Black collapsed into a chair in the kitchen of number 12 Grimmauld Place and leaned forward with his head in his hands, his dark hair falling forward to cover his weary blue eyes, his elbows on the surface of the large table. His best friend, Remus Lupin, brown hair streaked prematurely gray, light brown eyes permanently saddened by recent events, was already sitting there and looked as if he hadn't moved in a while. Sirius groaned softly and peeked wearily through his fingers at Remus.
"I never thought they would finish questioning me," he said raspily. He had almost lost his voice during the last 24 hours, as he had repeatedly answered questions from a team of aurors who were interrogating him, under the influence of Veritaserum, concerning the double homicides of another of his best friends, James Potter, and James' wife, Lily. Sirius leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes as he remembered the events of the previous evening, Halloween night.
His mind was overwhelmed as he recalled a growing feeling of horror as he stood in front of the demolished shell of the house that had once belonged to James and Lily Potter. He realized the Fidelius charm that kept the Potter's safe from the Dark Lord Voldemort had been removed, and he was the only one who knew who the Secret Keeper had been - their other best friend, Peter Pettigrew! He still couldn't believe it. Peter was a traitor! His first thought had been to drop everything and pursue his 'friend' so that he could kill him too. But as he turned to apparate away from the death and destruction that surrounded him, he heard a baby cry. Harry! He had forgotten about James and Lily's son. He was here...and alive!
Sirius searched the rubble in the area where he could see Lily lying, her beautiful auburn hair framing her too still face and shoulders, trying not to see the dullness of her once bright, green eyes. He found Harry at last, trapped beneath the overturned crib, reaching out through the bars for his mother as if through the bars of a prison. Sirius carefully lifted the crib and scooped his godson up in his arms, holding him tightly and rocking him from side to side with tears sliding down his cheeks and his breath coming in heavy gasps.
From then on, Sirius couldn't remember much except handing Harry over to Rubeus Hagrid, the groundskeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This had been done at the request of the school's Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, a personal friend of the Potters and the head of the Order of the Phoenix, (an underground organization dedicated to fighting evil and specifically Voldemort), who had been trying to help keep them alive. Dumbledore was under the mistaken belief that Sirius was the Potter's Secret Keeper. Being detained by the aurors and explaining to them why Peter was the Potter's Secret Keeper instead of Sirius or Remus flew by in a blur of dissipating anger and growing grief until the threatening tears finally fell and he couldn't talk any more. They had let him go then, finally convinced that he had no part in the betrayal.
Sirius finally looked over at Remus, who was still sitting in the same position he was in when Sirius came into the kitchen. His hands were folded in his lap and his tear-reddened eyes were staring at the fire in the fireplace without truly seeing it. He wasn't even sure Remus had heard him speak. He decided to try again. "It's a good thing Dumbledore showed up and insisted they use the Veritaserum, or I would be sitting in a cell in Azkaban right now. They were going to put me away without asking any questions at first."
Remus lifted his eyes and sadly smiled at Sirius. "I'm glad they let you go. Your house elf was getting a little edgy." Sirius snorted a half-laugh, glad for the small moment of levity after the stress that they had both been under. The Black's house elf, Kreacher, was notorious for his hatred of anyone who wasn't a pure-blood witch or wizard; especially Sirius' friend Remus, who was also a werewolf.
"I'm going up to bed," said Sirius. "I think you should too. Dumbledore asked us to come to Hogwarts in the morning to discuss what happened yesterday and what will happen to Harry now."
Remus pushed himself slowly to his feet and reached a hand over to Sirius to help him up. Before he let go of Sirius' hand though, he pulled his friend in for a brief hug, then stepped back to hold him by the shoulders for a moment. He let go and quietly whispered, half to himself, "I don't know what I what I would have done if I had lost you too." He walked out of the kitchen to take the stairs up to his room, and Sirius slowly followed, seeking his own rest. He shuddered at the thought of any of the four best friends, known in school as the Marauders, being left alone and friendless. "Make that three best friends," he thought savagely, as he remembered the one that had betrayed them all.
After pretending to eat breakfast, (and ignoring the accounts in the paper of the celebrations that were still going on over the disappearance of Voldemort), Sirius and Remus flooed to Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts for their scheduled meeting with the Headmaster.
Dumbledore looked over the top of his half-moon glasses at the two young men sitting in front of him. They already looked so disheartened that he knew what he had to say would not sit well with them. There would be a struggle to get them to agree to it. He took a deep breath and began.
"I have begun making arrangements with Lily's family for the interment of James and Lily. I thought you would want to be a part of the preparations also, since James hasn't any other family left to confer with. I am also concerned for several different reasons and I would like your in-put on the situation."
"First, there are still Death Eaters at large who would like nothing more than to use the death of James and Lily for their own ends. Necromancy, as you know, has always been something that witches and wizards have had to take into account when they die. That is why many of us prefer to be cremated and our ashes scattered, instead of being buried somewhere and worrying about someone using our remains for nefarious purposes. To that end, I have arranged for a small ceremony that will be attended only by those closest to James and Lily, including Lily's sister if she so chooses. Since you..were..their closest friends, I was waiting to see when you felt able to attend such a gathering."
The slight hesitation over the past tense had been noticed. He looked closely at Sirius and Remus as they sat gripping the arms of their chairs and trying to look like they weren't on the verge of tears again. Sirius swiped the back of his hand across his eyes and cleared his throat before saying that sooner would be better than later in order to keep things as confidential as possible. Dumbledore agreed, and they set down the names of the friends that would be invited to participate. A small group that included only members of the Order of the Phoenix. Friends who could be counted on to keep their own counsel.
"Secondly," Dumbledore continued, "is the matter concerning young Harry."
Here Sirius interrupted him. "Yes," he said eagerly. "I understand why you had Hagrid take Harry away with him..that..night.." he stumbled over the words, then tried again, "but now that I've been cleared and we are making plans for the future, I'm willing to take on the responsibility of being his guardian, as James and Lily asked me to do if anything ever happened to them."
Remus looked up also and nodded his head with determination before adding, "I'll be there for Harry too. I'm staying with Sirius right now anyway. You know we both had the highest marks in our Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, and we both love Harry more than anything. We will be able to protect him, and make up - at least somewhat - for not having his parents."
Dumbledore nodded his head approvingly at their show of loyalty and readiness to follow through. When he spoke though, they could hear the misgivings in his voice. "Under any other circumstances I would agree with you. However, these are perilous times and we must consider the future carefully."
"Most of the wizarding world is celebrating what they think of as the death of Voldemort. Unfortunately some of us know this is not a complete victory." He raised his hand to deter them from speaking as he saw the questions in their eyes, "In all likelihood, Voldemort is not truly dead. He has gone so far along the road of the Dark Arts that I believe he has found a way to stay connected to this plane of existence even though his body has been destroyed. There are those who followed him who may someday be able to help him regain his corporeal form, and return Voldemort and his disciples to the power that he has previously held."
"Young Harry is caught up in this simply because he is a symbol of Voldemort's physical defeat. He would be in great danger if it were known where he is living and being raised. It will not be easy to hide him from those who would wish him harm."
"Then how..." Sirius paused to lick his suddenly dry lips. He could feel his heart beating in his chest. "How can we possibly keep Harry safe?"
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and stroked his beard with one hand as he answered, " Blood Magic".
Startled, Remus searched the Headmaster's face, "I haven't come across any references to this type of magic in anything I have studied on Light Magic." He narrowed his eyes. "This is Light Magic, isn't it?"
Dumbledore smiled as he answered Remus. "I know how you love to learn, my dear boy, but you must concur that I am a few years older than you, and have had the time and resources to study much more than you know at this time." He became sober once more, "Blood Magic is neither Dark or Light Magic. Indeed, most magic cannot be so categorized. It is what we do with our magic that makes us what we are, not the magic itself."
"So it is with Blood Magic. For our part, we can use it to keep Harry safe. That definitely falls under 'Light Magic' in my estimation."
Sirius and Remus looked at each other before nodding at Dumbledore to continue.
The Headmaster braced himself for the coming storm and said, "The best solution I have been able to come up with for keeping your Godson safe, Sirius, is to request sanctuary for him at the home of his only living blood relative, Petunia Dursley."
As one, the two friends jumped to their feet and shouted, "NO!"
Banging his fist on Dumbledore's desk, Sirius continued to rant, "You can't seriously be considering letting Harry anywhere near those petty-minded bigots! Let alone allowing him to be raised by them! How will he know anything of the world his parents belonged to? I can't picture Petunia, or that Neanderthal husband of hers, allowing him to be brought up to know about magic; just as I know they will not give him the love he will need! James and Lily made me Harry's Godfather for a reason, you know. They knew how prejudiced Lily's sister was against magic! Petunia hates anything to do with such an 'abnormality'. Her jealousy of Lily was well known to all of Lily's close friends. How do you really think she'll treat her sister's child?"
Remus allowed Sirius to speak for both of them while he continued to stand, glaring at the Headmaster, with his hands clenched in fists at his sides. When Sirius wound down enough for someone else to be heard, Dumbledore raised both hands up in a placating gesture and requested both of the young men to sit and listen again.
They did as the Headmaster requested, but they were both on the edges of their seats. He knew that he must be persuasive in order to make them understand his reasoning for this, seemingly, unreasonable plan.
I'm looking forward to some reviews. This is my first story and I have a great beta. Hope you enjoy the storyline.