Disclaimer: This story is based on the Prisoner of Azkaban which is not mine. I get nothing from this other than Carpal Tunnel Syndrome...Just kidding :-)
Ghosts of the Past
There were times when Orion Black loved living in Black Manor at 12 Grimmauld Place. Tonight, however, was not one of those times. For hours, rain poured, winds howled, lightning flashed and thunder clapped proving just how old the Manor was. Shutters flapped loudly against the windows forcing Orion to pull his bedcovers tightly over his head. For some reason, he hated storms. They always made him feel…uneasy.
To say that Orion was embarrassed of his jumpiness was an understatement. He had, after all, just turned thirteen-years-old and had faced more than any teenage wizard he knew. Last year alone he had encountered a Basilisk, a teenage version of the Dark Lord Voldemort and nearly lost his father, Sirius Black, while doing so.
That action had sparked a change in the Black family. While Orion tried to hold onto his father and the relationship they had, Sirius seemed ready to let go. The overprotective nature was still there but Sirius wasn't as vocal about it as he used to be. For the first time in years, they had spent a few weeks away from Britain on a family vacation traveling to various magical settlements. It had been fun to visit France, Bulgaria, Romania and Egypt but Orion had quickly realized that there had been a secondary reason for those destinations.
It had been an ideal way to teach Orion spells without anyone from the Ministry of Magic interrupting for Sirius' assistance. At least it was until Kingsley Shacklebolt tracked them down in Egypt insisting that they needed to return to London immediately. At first, Orion wanted to protest but all thoughts ended with one glace at Sirius and Remus' faces. Whatever the emergency was, it was bad—really, really bad.
It wasn't until they arrived back at Black Manor that Orion was finally told what was happening. For the first time since the Dementors had taken over guarding the wizarding prison, Azkaban, there had been a breach of this magnitude. For the first time, there had been a breakout from the inside. Details were still sketchy but what was known was that spells and enchantments placed on two distinct prison cells had failed, one shortly after the other. The Ministry of Magic concluded that it had been an inside job but were clueless to how the first prisoner had managed to break free since his was one of the more secure cells in Azkaban.
The wizarding world was on high alert in more ways than one. Not only were two criminals on the loose but Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, decided that the Dementors of Azkaban should play an active role in recapturing the fugitives. Orion couldn't understand Fudge's reasoning behind the decision. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about Dementors knew releasing them amongst the population was a bad thing. Dementors sense and feed on positive emotions like locusts. They are never satisfied and would never stop. Anyone around them would quickly find themselves trapped in their own worst memories.
That was why Black Manor now housed the largest stash it items containing the easiest counter-agent for Dementors—chocolate. Black Manor had become a well used break station for those on Sirius' team to recover as quickly as possible before going back out and resuming the search. It was common for people to show up at odd hours. Orion had helped Remus play host to Kingsley, Frank Longbottom, Evelyn Smith (Sirius' ex-girlfriend), Alastor Moody and even James Potter.
Evelyn and Mr. Potter had been certainly the most awkward. Sirius had ended his relationship with Evelyn shortly after the journey into the Chamber of Secrets. Orion didn't know all the details but he had a feeling it was linked to the fact that Evelyn had questioned Sirius in the middle of the mission. For Sirius, that was the biggest mistake one could make. Evelyn had tried to apologize but Sirius insisted that it was for the best leaving Orion and Remus in the difficult position of not knowing how to act around her.
Mr. Potter's presence was even worse. He didn't stop by often since he had his own family to check on but the few times he did were difficult for Orion and Remus. Mr. Potter tried to be friendly, he really did, and Remus tried to return the gesture. Orion, however, had a tendency to remember tasks Remus had assigned him for the fifth year texts he was reading. Truthfully, Orion felt bad for leaving Remus to deal with Mr. Potter but Orion just couldn't bring himself to be around the man. Years of distrust and anger couldn't be washed away like it was nothing.
The sound of Orion's bedroom door creaking open forced Orion to cautiously peak out from underneath his covers. The silhouette of a tall, thin man wearing wizarding robes blocked the majority of the light from the hallway. His stance was firm but the way his shoulders hunched forward slightly hinted of the pain he was undoubtedly feeling.
"Ori, I know you're not sleeping," the man said gently as he entered the room. "You've never been able to sleep when there's a storm."
Orion let out a sigh and pushed off his bedcovers. "I wish I knew why," he muttered while sitting up. "It's so annoying."
Light finally rested on the tired face of Remus Lupin, revealing a compassionate smile as he sat down on the edge of Orion's bed. "Orion, there was a storm the night you were adopted—well, the night you took the potion. When you woke up completely disoriented—well, the storm only made you more frightened. We tried everything to calm you down but nothing seemed to work so we had to force down a calming draught. You were so exhausted that you fell asleep on us."
Orion stared at Remus in confusion. "I don't remember—"
"—I'm not surprised," Remus said with a smile. "It was a traumatic experience for you. It's understandable you would block it out. It wasn't until you woke the following morning that we realized why your reaction was so severe."
"You realized I couldn't remember anything," Orion said softly. He had been told that part before. That was something his father and uncle had never hidden from him. The memory loss never should have happened. It had been an anomaly that the specialists at St. Mungo's and even Professor Snape couldn't explain. The potion had been made perfectly. Orion should have woken up as Sirius' son biologically and magically but remember the past five years but for some reason, something went wrong.
Remus reached out and ran his fingers through Orion's hair before pulling his wand out from his robes. "Listen cub, I know this is hard for you," he said compassionately. "We had promised a fun summer and once again you're on your own most of the time."
Orion shrugged his shoulders. "It's not your fault," he insisted. "I know Dad's needed at work. He has the most knowledge and with his record for catching Death Eaters…well, Scrimgeour would be mad if he didn't ask for Dad's help. I also know how much work you need to do preparing lesson plans and having them approved by Grandad. You're busy now but at least you'll be at Hogwarts with me, right?"
Remus grinned. "I must say you're the only teenager I know who would be excited about their uncle teaching at their school," he said in an amused voice. "You do realize I'll expect a lot more from you than the rest of you classmates, right?"
Orion rolled his eyes. "Moony, please, you've been teaching me Defense Against the Dark Arts as well as most of the other subjects at Hogwarts for years," he said. "If anything, you'll be able to keep me on track so I can finish the fifth year material faster than if I were to do it on my own."
Remus stared at Orion with a raised eyebrow. "Ori, don't be in too much of a rush to tackle the coursework," he warned. "What are you going to do when you've finished N.E.W.T. level material? You'll be bored out of your mind. Take your time now. Really learn the material. Also, don't forget you have two more courses this year—courses that you have just started reading about."
Orion could understand what Remus was saying and the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Remus had a very good point. He had heard the rumors about the dreaded O.W.L. year at Hogwarts. The overabundance of homework and the stress of the O.W.L. exams could push even the most studious of students over the edge.
The sudden absence of noise from the roaring storm quickly pulled Orion out of his thoughts so see Remus rising to his feet and pocketing his wand. "There," he said with a wink. "That should be better. Try and get some sleep. You know Neville, Hayden and Rose will be here bright and early."
Orion let out a groan as he collapsed on his bed. It was becoming a habit for Hayden and Rose Potter to come through the floo network earlier and earlier. Neville Longbottom normally arrived just before eight when his mum was leaving for work. Neville was in a similar situation as Orion. Both his parents worked in the Auror department, just in different areas. Alice Longbottom worked in the records office while Frank Longbottom handled the communication between those out in the field and the head of the Auror office, Rufus Scrimgeour.
A loud siren-like sound caused both Orion and Remus to jump and rush out of the room, Orion grabbing his wand off the bedside table on the way. That alarm meant only one thing: the floo network had been breached. Sirius had intensified the wards on the Manor, especially on the floo network right after returning home. If someone were to attempt to come through before the wards had been lowered, the alarm would ring through the entire place.
Rather annoying really since Sirius had a tendency to forget to tell people about it.
Orion followed Remus down the stairs and into the living room only to come to an abrupt halt at the scene in front of them. A soot covered Lily Potter was standing in front of the fireplace helping both her soot covered children dressed in their sleep clothes to their feet. All three of them looked extremely shaken. Hayden and Rose looked like they had physically been pulled out of bed and pushed into the fireplace.
With a few intricate waves of the wand, Remus had silenced the alarm. "Lily?" he asked cautiously. "What are you doing here?"
Mrs. Potter let out a shaky breath as a flash of lightning lit up the room. "The wards were breached—they just kept falling—I didn't know what to do," she said, her voice pleading. "The kids wanted to come here…"
Remus was already moving towards the fireplace, his wand at the ready. Without a word, he pressed the tip of his wand against one of the bricks causing the entire fireplace to glow for a moment before returning to normal. "There, the fireplace is sealed," he said as he turned and looked at Orion. "Ori, please take Hayden and Rose up to your room. I think the three of you could use some rest."
Going to sleep was the last thing Orion wanted to do at the moment but he had a feeling that it was more for Hayden and Rose's benefit than his own. A loud boom of thunder quickly provided the extra incentive. Nodding in agreement, Orion pulled Hayden and Rose out of the room, ignoring the soft protests that both the Potter children. The fact that Orion was able to pull Hayden and Rose out of the room proved just how tired they were.
As soon as they entered Orion's room and Orion closed the door, however, all tiredness seemed to vanish from Hayden and Rose's bodies.
"I can't believe this," Hayden moaned as he flopped on Orion's bed. "Last year Dobby broke through the wards and now some insane Death Eater."
"Stop it, Hayden," Rose snapped nervously. "Please, I don't want to think of him being there."
Orion stepped forward and wrapped an arm around Rose's shoulders. "Let's not think about it," he said while sending a pointed look at Hayden. "If I know Remus, he's already contacted Dad. Dad'll fix this. He always does."
Hayden sat up and stared at Orion. "Is there anything you're dad can't do?" he asked curiously.
Orion grinned. "You'd be surprised," he admitted. "Dad's not perfect but he's the best Auror I know. He'll do his job, whatever it takes."
A knock on the door put a quick end to the conversation. Orion, Hayden and Rose shared a cautious glance before Orion walked over to the door and slowly opened it to see a man that looked significantly similar to Hayden and Rose. Withholding a sigh, Orion opened the door and moved out of the way so Hayden and Rose could get a clear view.
"Dad!" Rose shouted as she rushed forward and jumped into Mr. Potter's arms. "Dad, we were so scared!"
Mr. Potter dropped to his knees and wrapped his arms around his daughter. "I know you were, Rosie," he said softly. "I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you but I promise we'll do everything we can to fix this so it never happens again." Mr. Potter pulled back slightly so he could meet Rose's eyes. "Now, I know you're scared but I need you to be brave for your mum. She's going to stay here with you for now. There will also be a member of the team here at all times, just in case, all right?"
Rose nodded reluctantly as Hayden slid off the bed and moved forward. "Dad, they broke through most of the wards like there weren't any at all," Hayden said. "How is that possible?"
Mr. Potter let out a sigh as he rose to his feet and focused on Hayden. "I don't know, son," he said honestly. "It shouldn't be possible. That's why your mother and I think its best that you stay here for now. No one can find this place without help from the secret keeper and I don't think that'll happen any time soon."
Rose tilted her head in confusion. "Why?"
"Toby's the secret keeper, Rose," Orion answered. "He also refuses to leave whenever I'm home."
Hayden stared at Orion with a raised eyebrow. "You guys have a house elf as your secret keeper?" he asked in surprise.
Orion shrugged his shoulders. "Can you think of anyone better?" he countered. "Mindy and Toby are happy here. They'd never do anything that would put Dad or me in danger. Would your house elves?"
Hayden looked slightly abashed as his gaze fell. "Sorry, I didn't mean anything by it," he admitted. "I'm just surprised."
"I think that's the entire point of it all, Hayden," Mr. Potter offered. "Since everyone in our society looks down on house elves, who would suspect one of them as the secret keeper? Now, I suggest you two clean up then get some sleep."
"—no buts, Hayden," Mr. Potter insisted sternly. "We'll have more answers in the morning."
Mr. Potter stepped forward, pulled Rose into an embrace then repeated the action with Hayden. As he walked towards the door, he passed Orion, paused then grasped Orion's shoulder briefly before leaving. Orion stood there stiffly, unable to move. Why had Mr. Potter done that? More importantly, why would Mr. Potter think something like that would be a welcomed action? Orion had never shown anything other than dislike for the man.
If Hayden and Rose noticed Orion's discomfort, they didn't mention it. They took turns cleaning up in the bathroom before they crawled into Orion's bed with Orion in the middle. Staring at the ceiling, Orion couldn't stop thinking about Mr. Potter. It had been the first time he had seen Mr. Potter act like an actual, caring father. It was strange. Hayden had always described Mr. Potter as someone who was distant and distracted most of the time.
When had Mr. Potter changed? Why does it matter? Mr. Potter still hurt Dad.
Letting out a frustrated sigh, Orion rolled over and buried his face in his pillow. He hated this. He hated that he couldn't let go of this grudge yet he was forced to associate with the man. He knew that Sirius wasn't happy about the arrangement but had been overruled by Scrimgeour. With Mr. Potter's knowledge of the escapees, his involvement was encouraged by those high up in the Ministry. It was, after all, good publicity for the father of the-boy-who-lived to re-join the Aurors to help catch such dangerous criminals.
That was probably what bothered Orion the most. Assigning Mr. Potter to Sirius' team had been a political move. The 'Black Team' was well known for its dangerous missions, something a rookie should be no part of which was what Mr. Potter was. Having a rookie on such an advanced team put the entire team at risk but people accepted it just because Hayden was the-boy-who-lived.
"Ori?" Hayden asked groggily as he rolled over and partially opened his eyes. "Wha's wrong? Is it Dad?"
Orion turned his head and stared at Hayden. What was he supposed to say? Sorry Hayden. I know you're one of my closest friends but I just can't stand your dad. "You didn't mention him in your letters," Orion said at last.
Hayden shrugged his shoulders slightly, his eyes slowly closing. "There wasn't much to say," he admitted. "After the breakout, Dad hasn't really been home much. Before this whole thing happened, he did spend more time with us, teaching us some basics about dueling. Mum's actually been the one helping me with my homework. She's really good at explaining things without me feeling like I'm thick. Mum and Dad are trying, Ori. I think they—well Dad more than Mum—got tired of me getting into trouble and not being able to defend myself."
Orion stared at Hayden with a raised eyebrow. "You could solve that by not getting in trouble," he offered dryly.
A lazy grin appeared on Hayden's face. "Mum said the same thing. Then she said that I could start listening to you." Hayden's eyes opened. "Mum and Dad really like you, Ori. They've been asking when you'd be coming over. They must think you're a good influence on me or something like that."
Orion held back a flinch. Visiting Potter Manor was never going to happen anytime soon. If he couldn't stand being in the same room as the Potter parents how was he supposed to handle being at their residence with no way out? "Hayden—you know—"
"—that you don't like them because they hurt your dad?" Hayden interrupted. "Yeah, I know. Ori, but that was years ago. Mum and Dad are trying to make it up to him. Can't you just try and give them a chance?"
How could a simple question be so hard to answer? A part of Orion knew that he couldn't hold onto grudges forever but another part—the childish part—insisted that they started it. They had turned their backs on Sirius when he needed them the most so why should he make it easy for them? Because Hayden and Rose are my friends, that's why.
A soft snore pulled Orion out of his thoughts to see that Hayden had fallen back asleep. Now if only Orion could do the same.