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Overall Summary: Sirius Black. How many memories two such simple words could trigger. How much pain, and joy. How much disappointment. How much conflict and fear. How many decisions and actions. Why him?
"Why her?" he asked. The name had felt familiar at first, though he hadn't been able to place it then. He could now.
Only a smirk from the man answered Sirius's question, and with another snap of his fingers, the wizard disappeared. Sirius, now left alone in the dark alleyway, glanced at the parchment for a third time, the name bringing forth memories long-since forgotten for the dark-haired Animagus.
Authors' Note: We would like to thank our amazing guide for the Gauntlet, CA (Cinderella Angelina) of MNFF, whose prompts were awesome, and Rachel (lily-evans34), also of MNFF, for beta-ing this for us! (Also, a quick note on who wrote what: All of the parts starring Tonks were written by Sunray (guiding ray of sunlight), while I (ForeverSirius77), wrote the scenes that star Sirius Black.) Now, we present for your enjoyment, Part I of A Bloody Deal, entitled, Killer Offers.
A Bloody Deal
By ForeverSirius77 & guiding ray of sunlight (of MNFF)
Part I: Killer Offers
You sit with your back to the wall, your eyes shielded by your black bangs. You are here on duty. You could not afford for someone to recognize you.
And you had to admit that your normal hair colour did stand out quite a bit.
You look at the bar – the barkeep is still standing there, wiping glasses, over and over. And over. You wonder briefly if he does it purposely in order to hypnotize people, or whether he truly thinks that will make people want to drink from those glasses. Perhaps he truly enjoyed the practice.
The waiting is what would kill you. Not whatever creep you were going to meet. Pure boredom is worse than a killing curse.
You shake your head, and continue staring blankly ahead.
You review the briefing you had received earlier, making sure not to forget anything.
He will not show his face. He will not speak loudly, so listen up. He will not socialize, so don't try. He will offer generously, and demand a high toll.
And for heaven's sake, do not look at the backup. He will notice. Do not show your face.
Be safe, careful and effective. Don't screw up.
You can still hear Kingsley Shacklebolt's booming voice resonate through your head.
Don't screw up.
Your mouth twitches. You have no problem – unless the mysterious 'He' was to ask you to waltz.
The door creaks open and closes. You make sure you do not look at your backup – he is pretending to be passed out at the table in the back. Or, you hope he is pretending. You return your attention to the entering figure. Draped entirely in black, he looks like a shadow. Like a wraith.
He sits down noiselessly across from you. His face is looking toward the corner of the room where no one is sitting – undoubtedly due to the cobwebs that covered the table. Or perhaps that was a result of prolonged disuse.
"You are N?" He speaks out of the corner of his mouth, and the words are low and drawling.
"Evidently so." You make sure your bangs are covering your face, and you talk as low as he.
"Then here is the deal. One hundred thousand galleons will be transferred to your account, in exchange for a small favor." He pulls a note out of one of his pockets, on which there are two words scrawled. "One week, same time, same place. Oh – and handle this quietly. I would not want this all over the Prophet." He gets up without another word. He leaves as silently as he entered.
You look down at the scrap of parchment.
The two words on the note surprise you, and hurt you at the same time.
Why him? Why would they want him dead? It doesn't make sense.
You reread the words to be sure your eyes did not deceive you. You pray that they had.
The green ink does not lie, and you sit back in your chair, the bangs covering your face again, and you find that you are lost in thought.
How many memories two such simple words could trigger. How much pain, and joy. How much disappointment.
How much conflict and fear.
How many decisions and actions.
And just two words.
He hadn't been aware of when, exactly, the sun had set, plunging the Wizarding town of Hogsmeade into the deep and heavy darkness of a moonless night. Stars twinkled in the black sky; it was the only light that nature provided him as he climbed down from the large cave that had been his dwelling place for several months. Buckbeak was still there, and as soon as he returned, the two of them would leave to stay the rest of the summer at Remus's.
When he was still just out of sight of the village, Sirius transformed back into his human self, pulling the dark cloak tighter around himself and making sure the hood covered his face. It was extremely risky, he knew, to leave the protection that Padfoot provided, but it was necessary. He couldn't very well talk with anyone as a dog, that's for sure.
As a result of Dumbledore's suggestion, Sirius would be meeting an old … well, he wasn't really a friend, per se, but more of an acquaintance. The other wizard had spoken with the headmaster earlier after hearing rumours of Voldemort's return. He'd told Dumbledore that he wanted to help the Order again, like he had before. But there was, as always with him, a condition: He would only meet with Sirius. No one else. The other wizard knew of Sirius's identity, knew the truth behind his innocence. He could be trusted, Dumbledore felt.
And even if not, Sirius thought as he walked down the street, at least I finally have a wand. He gripped the ebony wood that was hidden in his robe's pocket, ready to be withdrawn at the slightest notion that something was wrong. The headmaster had handed over the magical instrument before Sirius had left the castle, and so it was that, feeling reassured, Sirius entered the dingy pub known as the Hog's Head.
The establishment was just as Sirius remembered it being the last time he'd come, over a decade in the past. In fact, he felt pretty sure that the broken bottles at a corner table were the same ones that he, James, and Remus had left there one night. The same sort of people – hidden, cloaked, and quiet – sat at the same sort of tables – dusty and broken – drinking the same sort of beverages – strong and bordering on illegal.
Sirius took a quick glance at the barman cleaning the glasses, and he was glad to see that the older wizard's attention was suitably devoted elsewhere. He sat at one of the tables that was halfway hidden in shadows, pulling his hood lower to ensure that his face was completely hidden, and waited. A brief glance at a hanging clock told him his contact should be there soon.
Sirius turned his head at the sound just in time to see a tall, thin man motioning to him from the window. The outside visitor raised his hand, gave a quick motion towards the door, and nodded his head. Sirius glanced around the room, trying to catch sight of who had hissed at him in the first place – for surely he hadn't heard the man outside? But no one else made any acknowledgement of him, and so he stood up and began to make his way to the door. A quick glance at the clock told him the contact – who, as far as Sirius recalled, was 'tall' and 'thin' – should have arrived.
And it was probably the man outside.
He left the pub, the old, wooden door creaking shut behind him, and after seeing the other wizard duck out of sight, Sirius followed him.
The alleyway was dark, the lights from the main street in the village not reaching into these shadows. Rubbish was piled against the walls on either side of him as he headed further and further down the alley, keeping a precautionary hold on his wand. The other wizard stood at the opposite end from Sirius, his form still cloaked by the darkness. Sirius just approached him, not speaking until he stood nearly right in front of him.
However, when he opened his mouth to greet the man, the other lowered his hood and revealed his face.
It was not the individual Sirius had been sent to meet.
In a blur of movements, Sirius withdrew his wand, shoving it up against the man's throat as he pushed him against the stern wall of the Hog's Head. The man had made no move to defend himself as he impacted the wall.
"Who are you?" hissed Sirius.
The man just grinned. "Calm down, Black," he said. "I ain't some plant by the Ministry; the Aurors don' know you're 'ere." His grin grew as Sirius kept the wand's tip at the other wizard's throat. "No need for that. I just got somethin' I wanna say to yeh."
With a snap of his fingers, the man held a small piece of parchment in his hands. He handed it over to Sirius, who took it and read the words scrawled in a blood-red ink. Shocked, he glanced at the man again.
"There's 100,000 galleons in it for you if yeh do it," the man said. He smirked. "And keep it quiet, now, Black. I don' want no 'gas explosions' this time."
Sirius barely kept a hold on his anger, anger that was bursting to want nothing more than to kill the man in front of him. "I didn't do that," he growled.
"Yeah, don' care," the man interrupted. "Jus' take care of this."
Sirius backed away from the other wizard, taking another look at the sentence on the parchment in his head. Instantly, he glared back at his companion.
"Why her?" he asked. The name had felt familiar at first, though he hadn't been able to place it then. He could now.
Only a smirk from the man answered Sirius's question, and with another snap of his fingers, the wizard disappeared.
Sirius, now left alone in the dark alleyway, glanced at the parchment for a third time, the name bringing forth memories long-since forgotten for the dark-haired Animagus.
Darkness takes over your sight as you go deeper and deeper into the alleyway. Finally, assured that you are far enough away from the street not to be noticed you crouch down, and wait. Your hair – still black – blends in with the filthy bricks that are the back wall of the pub. You had been on your way out of the pub – in fact, the door had just closed behind you - when you spotted a dark figure slipping in. He wore melancholy like a cloak.
You had sneaked a better look – it was hard to do with the hood draped so low over his face – but you had identified him.
His black hair – so like yours is now – had shaded his features, and the stubble surrounding his face had made him look older than you had remembered.
You can see him now – as he had been, before … before it had all fallen apart. His grey eyes twinkling with mischief, his black hair flying in the wind. You can barely remember what he was like – you had been too young, but your mother still had a picture of him at home.
Once a year, she would pull it out, and cry over it. Once, you had asked her why. She had jumped – she hadn't wanted her daughter to see her cry! But she had explained. She had described Sirius as she remembered him – the young Sirius, who had laughed without evil, and had smiled without sarcasm. The one special cousin. The only one untouched by the evils of Dark Magic. And yet the one who had been the most hurt by it.
The one cousin she could share anything with. The cousin who had given her his blessing when she had run off to marry a Muggleborn, where her sisters would have gladly murdered her on the spot.
The cousin who was the Black Gryffindor.
Her idol – he had given her the courage to stand up to her family, to show her true colors.
So you had asked why she was crying – was it because he never visited anymore? You could remember how he used to give you piggy-back rides around the garden. He used to bring you cute little gifts. You still had some of them sitting around in your room.
So your mother explained. As a tear ran down her face, she explained how Sirius had turned to the dark side. He had betrayed his closest friends to Voldemort. He had killed many people. And then he had been locked away in Azkaban.
When you heard that, you had stormed up to your room, and had broken every item you had there that you had gotten from him. Except for one item – a small statuette of a black dog. You could not bear to part with it.
You can clearly remember your mother cleaning up the shards from the floor with a quick flick of her wand. But not before she had had to stitch your foot up, where you had stepped on one of the larger pieces.
You still have a scar there.
You play with your wand, twirling it between your fingers, and you think back to your meeting.
The Ministry was looking for Sirius as a Death Eater. As a mass murderer. Then why did the Death Eaters want him dead? Why would they be hunting him as well? Wasn't he You-Know-Who's most loyal?
Why would You-Know-Who want his best player out of the game?
You know that You-Know-Who killed people who didn't fill out orders. It was how Sirius's brother, Regulus had died. It was what would happen to you if they found out … you wonder to yourself how ironic it is that you of all people got landed with this particular intelligence operation. And how Kingsley had known that the Death eaters would once again be active, despite the common disbelief. Fudge would have him sacked on the spot if he were to find out what your assignment is. Personally, you had found it hard to believe that Dumbledore would be trying so hard to take over the Ministry that he would risk colossal panic for nothing. It was common knowledge he could have had the job in a second if he wanted it. And besides, it did not explain why Harry Potter would lie.
And besides, Fudge is scum. And cowardly at that. No, Dumbledore is unquestionably the better choice. And here is proof of the return of You-Know-Who. And you can't even tell anyone.
Not to mention the fact that you do not know who might be a spy. Who might turn you in for the Auror that you are. It is a double-edged knife, and you have to be careful not to grab the blade.
You shudder, then shake your head to get the notion out of your head. You had not become an Auror in order to get a dull and safe desk job. You were in your current position for a reason. Fear had no place here.
You take a couple of deep breaths, steadying yourself, then think more clearly. If they were hunting him, maybe he had betrayed You-Know-Who. So did that make him on your side?
Did that make up for his past mistakes? Those terrible, terrible acts?
What would Kingsley say if you report this to him?
You are shaken out of your reverie by a solid thunk. After years of practice, you may have actually gotten the hang of silent tracking, and you walk to the corner. Peering out, you see two men standing in the entrance. The shorter of the two is holding the other by the throat. You strain you ears, trying to hear what they are saying.
"… quiet, now, Black," the tall one says. Your heart jumps to your throat. "Don't want no 'gas explosions' this time."
"I didn't do that," Sirius growls.
"Yeah, don't care," the tall man drawls. Something about his voice strikes you as familiar. "Just take care of this."
Sirius Black draws away from the tall man. He glances down, then up. "Why her?" he asks, shocked.
But the other man is gone. You slink back into the alleyway. Why who? And he hadn't done it? Was he to be believed? After all, why wouldn't a guilty man claim he is innocent? Lost in thought, you lean back against the wall, musing, and do not notice the approaching footsteps.
Sirius glared at the spot where the other wizard had stood, as if the simple action would bring about the man's return and further explanation. He crumpled the note as his hand tightened into a fist, his desire to lash out in anger barely being restrained. What had he done in a past life to make this one so messed up?
Thoughts swirled in his mind at a racing speed, memories of a little girl that, if his quick calculation was correct, would be in her early twenties now if he saw her. He had no idea what Andromeda's daughter was doing, no idea how her life had been … Hell, he didn't even know if Andy and her family were alive. No one he'd spoken or written to since last year had told him, and the topic hadn't really entered his mind, to be honest. They never told, and he never asked.
And now someone's paying to have the girl killed, he thought, the blood-red ink of the parchment catching his eye again before he stuffed it into his pocket. Sighing, Sirius lifted his hood to cover his face back up, the fabric having fallen when he shoved the mysterious wizard against the pub's wall. He pushed his long hair back and tightened his cloak and replaced his wand in his pocket before he turned to leave the alleyway.
He had only taken a few steps when the sound of sighing made him stop in his tracks. Turning, he glanced behind him, but the alley to his back was empty – dark and filthy, yes, but no one was hiding in the shadows. Sirius shuffled forwards slowly, pressing his body against the wall of the Hog's Head and cloaking himself as he looked back in front of him.
Having spent as long as he had in darkness, Sirius's grey gaze was able to make out, at the other end of the alley, the silhouette leaning against the brick wall of the pub's neighbouring establishment. Shadows covered the majority of her form, and many would probably have easily overlooked her, bypassing her hidden self as if she were invisible. But Sirius Black wasn't just anyone.
The brief thought crossed his mind about how long she had been there – what she might have overheard between himself and the wizard – but for a reason he was unsure of, the concern didn't latch on in his mind. Rather, his head was assaulted even more strongly with memories. For, with her black hair, she could have passed as her mother at one point.
He wondered if Nymphadora knew just how much she resembled Andromeda.
Sirius watched as the young witch remained against the wall, her face looking towards the sky every once in a while, as if lost in thought. He himself stayed hidden in the shadows, careful not to make even the slightest of movements; he didn't want her to know he was there, after all. At least, he didn't want her to know yet. He just watched her, neither of them making a movement to signal any sort of departure.
Subconsciously, his hand had traveled into his robe pocket, his fingers wrapping around the ebony wood of his wand. Ever so slowly, his gaze still locked on the woman not far away from him, Sirius withdrew the wand and held it at his side. His stare briefly tore away from Andromeda's daughter and glanced at the object in his hand.
The man from before – for whatever reason – wanted his cousin dead. Somehow, the man had found him and given him the offer. Sirius knew, as he looked back up to see that Dora's form hadn't moved, that – coldly and harshly speaking – he could probably get away with doing what the man wanted. The witch at the end of the alley seemed so lost in her thoughts that she probably wouldn't notice if he stepped out, fired off a quick Killing Curse, and disappeared again.
But there would be no way in hell that Sirius was going to kill someone – especially the daughter of the only good member of his family – just because some random wizard popped in and offered him some galleons. Oh, he knew people who would do anything for 100,000 galleons, and he himself had no problem with killing certain individuals … But there had to be a damn good reason for that curse to leave his mouth.
However, he thought, his grey eyes watching as Dora continued leaning against the wall. There's no reason why I can't just talk to her.
There was no one else around them – either in the same alley or around the surrounding buildings. Night had provided ample shadows and darkness in the hidden parts of the village; neither of them would have any worries of being seen from the street. Hogsmeade had fallen asleep, as it were, and nothing short of a massive confrontational duel would be noticed.
And so Sirius quietly left his own hiding spot in the shadows, his wand still at his side if needed.
Authors' Note: Well, there's the end of the first part, and I, ForeverSirius77, will be posting Part II very soon. We hope you enjoyed this bit here, and thank you for reading! Let us know what you think!
--ForeverSirius77 of FFN (megan-lupin of MNFF) and guiding ray of sunlight of MNFF