Orion felt his mouth fall open as he stared at Sirius in horror. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening. There was no way! Harry Potter was dead. He died years ago…when he was five-years-old…five-years-old… No. No! It couldn't be. The Potters said Harry died. They wouldn't lie to Hayden and Rose like that—not when they could see how much pain it caused Hayden every single day. They wouldn't let Hayden blame himself for something that never actually happened!
"You know, that's not very funny Dad," Orion said through narrowed eyes.
"It's not a joke, cub," Remus said patiently. "Your birth parents are James and Lily Potter."
"But that doesn't make any sense!" Orion cried out.
Sirius held up his hand to silence Orion. "Just hear me out, kiddo," he said shakily. "Everything we told you about Harry was true...to a point. Yes, Harry never really recovered from what happened with Voldemort. He—well—you tired out easily and you were sick on a regular basis. You were left with either Remus and me or Frank and Alice whenever there was a public function because you just couldn't handle them. James and Lily tried to avoid them at first but they were quickly swept up in all the attention. Hayden was in high demand James used that. He enjoyed the attention...for a while."
Orion could only stare at Sirius. A part of him was still hoping that Sirius was joking. He had grown up believing that his birth parents couldn't take care of him—not that they wouldn't. "B—but..."
"Just listen," Sirius insisted. "I know this can be hard to hear but it's the only way you'll understand why things are the way they are now. There were quite a few people who didn't agree with you being pushed off on different people. Alice and I actually cornered Lily a few times. She had agreed that it wasn't ideal for you but insisted the arrangement was only temporary. The madness would eventually calm down and they would be able to concentrate more on you."
"The last discussion was when you were five," Remus jumped in. "There was another function and you were given to us for the day and night."
"I was called into work an hour later so Remus took you to Hogwarts to explore," Sirius took over. "You always loved all the portraits and ghosts so it was an easy way to keep you entertained."
"You wandered off for a while, scaring me out of my mind," Remus said with a smile. "When I finally found you, you were so exhausted that I didn't have the heart to even scold you. I just took you back to Black Manor and put you to bed...I never suspected...it never crossed my mind that something was wrong."
"You slept through the night—which should've been the first sign something wasn't right," Sirius said in a hollow voice, his face shifting in what could only be described as a look of pain. "You always had terrible nightmares that you'd wake up screaming from. Normally, it would take us so long to calm you down. I—I just thought you were finally growing out of it then James came early the next morning to take you home and found you...looking exactly like me."
Orion's jaw dropped. He never thought...Sirius had always said adopting Orion had been the best thing he ever did but it sounded like Sirius never actually had a choice...which meant the Potters never had a choice either. That couldn't be right, could it?
"Do you remember the memory you had when the Dementors attacked the Quidditch game?" Sirius asked.
Orion nodded slowly.
"That was from when James found you," Sirius said as he ran a hand through his hair. "He obviously wasn't happy and said some really hurtful things—especially when you woke up and couldn't remember anything. We took you to St. Mungo's and ran every test possible. No one could figure out why you had no memories but the tests did reveal that the adoption had cured whatever had been slowly killing Harry."
Orion's eyes widened. "Killing?" he gasped. "But I didn't die. Didn't—"
"—didn't James and Lily say that to cover what really happened?" Sirius interrupted. "In a way but it was also true. Something happened to you that night that was slowly killing you. Lily just never wanted to admit it. James knew something was happening to you and secretly had specialists working on a way to find a cure. They just never thought—which is understandable—that a blood adoption was what you actually needed."
Orion frowned. It still didn't make any sense with everything Sirius had told him for years. Had it all been a lie? "So you were forced to take me?" he asked nervously.
"No!" Sirius shouted. "No, it wasn't like that. I had already offered to take you so many times—Frank and Alice too. When we had those talks with Lily, it was normally us begging her to let us take you so you could get the attention you deserved."
"You were wanted, Orion," Remus added. "I know it may not seem that way but you were always the center of Lily's world when she was at home. You were her son. She always joked that out of all her children, you were the only one that had a piece of her in their looks. They just got distracted with Hayden's celebrity status and Rose going through the terrible two's and three's. We saw it happening. That was the main reason we fought so hard for you and never spared a thought of taking you in. I know it may not seem that way but I have a feeling James and Lily regretted their actions the moment they made them. They were just too proud to try to fix things and we were too hurt to let them."
But that didn't change the fact that they ignored the fact that Harry Potter technically still existed for all these years. "They lied," Orion said weakly.
"Not exactly," Remus countered. "Harry's gone. You don't remember being him and—except for your eyes and that scar on your forehead, you don't look anything like him. They took the easy way out and regret that decision now that they've gotten to know you. Harry's still there. You still have his compassion and his instinct to protect Hayden—even when Hayden needed a good scolding."
Orion shook his head stubbornly as he felt his eyes sting. "I don't care!" he shouted in a shaky voice. "They threw me away! They…they…" Orion could feel the tears fall and looked away. "You lied to me…about everything."
Sirius was quickly on his knees at Orion's side. "I never wanted to," he said as reached out for Orion only to have Orion shy away from him, "but there are some things no child should ever hear. There's still so much that we don't know and probably never will but that doesn't matter. You're my son now and nothing can change that. If I had my way, you would never have to know but we can't risk our enemies using the information against us—against you."
Orion shook his head again. It was all too much. He didn't know what to feel. It seemed like everything was hitting him at once. He was angry at the Potters for abandoning him only to now want him in their lives again. Remus had said it was because they saw Harry in him. Would they be so interested if he hadn't been anything like Harry? He was furious at Sirius and Remus. Not only had they kept all this from him but they let the Potters try to forge some sort of relationship with him—something he would never want. He had been fine without the Potters so far. Why would he want anything to do with them now?
But did that include all of the Potters? What about Hayden and Rose? To think…he actually had an older brother and a younger sister. He could have had years with them but it didn't happen because of their parents. What did that mean now? Was he supposed to suddenly be Harry for Hayden? Orion didn't think he could do that. He couldn't be the brother Hayden wanted. He couldn't be Harry Potter.
"Orion," Sirius begged. "Please, talk to me."
Orion just shook his head before sliding out of the chair, away from Sirius' reach. He couldn't deal with this now. He was just too angry. He knew that he would probably do something he would regret later…much later perhaps but he wasn't about to make that mistake. He wasn't going to be like the Potters. "I—I need to think," Orion said at last as he backed away towards the door. "I—I can't do this now."
Without waiting for Sirius or Remus to stop him, Orion ran out of Remus' quarters. He didn't know where he was going but he just couldn't stay where he'd been any longer. This was a nightmare, it had to be! There was no other possible conclusion. If only he could wake up. Why couldn't he wake up?
Orion's run slowed to a walk through the empty halls. He wanted to yell, to scream for as long as his lungs would allow him and maybe longer after that but his voice was caught in his throat. It just wasn't right. That's all there was to it. He would have accepted nearly any family as his birth family—except for the Potters. For them to abandon their friends because…
Orion stumbled as the realization hit him. The Potters had abandoned Sirius and Remus because of him—because of something he did. The tension between the families was his fault. He had ruined everything. How had Sirius found the strength to keep him after costing him so much?
Leaning against the nearest wall, Orion felt himself slide down and pulled his knees to his chest. That one revelation pushed away any thought of anger. He—as Harry—had done this to the Potters, Sirius and Remus. He had broken up the Marauders and nearly destroyed the Potter family. Why had Harry done that? Why would he want to?
"Orion? Orion, are you all right?"
Looking up through tear-filled eyes, Orion could only glance at Neville and Hermione for a moment before having to look away. There was no way he could face his friends now. He couldn't face anyone. What was he supposed to say? He couldn't tell them. He couldn't tell anyone. What would they think? What would Hayden think?
"Orion, what happened?" Hermione demanded as she dropped to her knees. "Did something happen to Professor Lupin? We just heard that he resigned. This isn't because of—you know what, is it?"
"Hermione don't," Neville warned as he knelt down, his eyes never leaving Orion. "We'll meet you back in the Common Room, all right?"
"Hermione, please," Neville begged quietly. "Just trust me." Hermione clearly didn't like the lack of information but listened regardless. Neville watched her go until she was out of sight then waited until her footsteps couldn't be heard anymore before speaking up again. "Orion, come on mate, talk to me. What happened? Does it have anything to do with last night? Hayden and Rose didn't tell us much."
Orion shook his head and tightened the hold he had on his legs. Saying anything would feel like confirming it was true and that was the last thing Orion wanted. It was so much easier to pretend nothing was different but the fact was that nothing could ever be the same—at least not for Orion. How was he supposed to act around Hayden and Rose now?
Neville shrugged his shoulders helplessly before joining Orion in sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. Orion felt himself relax slightly until Neville broke the silence. "They told you, didn't they?" he asked quietly.
Orion stared at Neville in horror. "You knew?" he gasped.
Neville smiled knowingly. "Give me some credit," he said before dropping the smile. "I don't know who they are but I know Mum and Dad don't like them too much. I've heard them talking over the years—well, Mum more than Dad. I know my parents. It takes a lot for them to not like someone and your birth parents must have done something horrible for my Mum to dislike them so much."
Orion shook his head. "That's the thing," he whispered. "It wasn't them…it was me. Dad told me that I took the adoption potion without telling anyone. I messed everything up!"
Neville frowned. "I don't believe that," he said bluntly. "Do you want to know what my parents told me about your adoption years ago?" Orion slowly glanced over at Neville. "Granted I was five so they had to simplify it for me but they told me that your dad loved you so much that he chose you to be his son. I asked what happened to your real mum and dad and Mum told me they chose to leave you with your new dad. Do you understand what I'm saying, Ori? They left you. Sirius was willing to keep them in your life but they left."
"But only because I ruined everything," Orion insisted.
"You were a kid and kids do stupid things," Neville corrected. "Do you want me to tell you everything I've done? I think Mum's actually kept a list." A smile threatened to break on Orion's face as Neville continued. "How did you get the potion?"
Orion stared at the floor and shrugged his shoulders.
"Well you obviously didn't make it yourself," Neville concluded, "so you must've gotten it from someone. Whatever happened, it's not only your fault. You need to remember that. You were five! If anything, someone could have given you the potion and told you it was pumpkin juice and you would have believed them until you tasted it."
Orion had to admit Neville had a point. He remembered how gullible he had been after the adoption. Sirius and Remus had gotten into quite a few arguments because Sirius had tried to joke with answering Orion's endless questions. Sirius had actually led Orion to believe that broccoli was actually a shrunken version of the large trees outside. Orion had refused to even consider eating broccoli for weeks out of fear that it would grow in his stomach even with Sirius and Remus forcing themselves to eat the vegetable countless times to show how harmless it was.
"So what should I do?" Orion asked nervously.
Neville shrugged his shoulders. "Do whatever's right for you," he said seriously. "If it were me, I'd stick with Sirius and forget about them."
Orion cringed. If only it was that easy. "The problem really isn't my birth parents," he said evasively. "It's their children."
Neville's eyes widened. "Oh," he said in realization. "They have other kids that don't know about you?"
Orion snorted. "Something like that," he admitted.
Neville stared at Orion for a moment before turning his head and staring off at nothing in particular. "I can see why you're so upset," he said finally. "I'm really sorry, Ori. I know you've always wanted actual siblings. So what do you want to do?"
Orion sighed as his shoulders sagged. "I really don't know," he admitted. "I'm afraid they'd hate me."
Neville stared at Orion with a raised eyebrow. "Probably not as much as you hate yourself right now," he muttered only to grin when Orion stared at him with wide eyes. "I know you probably better than anyone else, Orion. We've been best friends since the day we met. You've always had to have an answer for everything. The problem here is there's no answer because you don't know the most important part of the story. Whoever gave you that potion is to blame, remember that."
Orion stared at Neville for a long moment with a dumbfounded look on his face. "Who are you and what have you done with Neville?"
Neville grinned. "I've been around you and Remus long enough, haven't I?" he said. "Now, what happened last night that Hayden and Rose refused to tell us?"
Orion cringed and finally told his best friend his longest kept secret. As he thought, Neville hadn't been surprised but he did have a lot of questions of what it had been like. Orion had answered as many questions that he could and was in a much better mood when they finally went to find Hermione. She had been waiting eagerly in the Gryffindor Common Room with Ron and had quickly realized whatever had happened wasn't something Orion wanted everyone to know. Orion was grateful she didn't mention his breakdown but he knew she would corner him eventually.
That was one conversation he really didn't want to have. It was one thing to talk to Neville using vague references. Neville wouldn't push the topic. He understood when to just let things go. Hermione wasn't the same. She pushed until she knew everything before coming to a conclusion which included knowing who Orion's birth parents were. That wasn't fair for Hayden and Rose. They would be the first to know and it would be their parents' responsibility to tell them.
Nothing had been solved per se but Orion was able to think with a clearer head to realize the knowledge didn't change anything. He didn't want anything to do with Mr. and Mrs. Potter and there was no way he could be the 'perfect Harry Potter' Hayden and Rose had mentally created. Orion couldn't compete with that and he didn't want to. He would be their friend—looking out for them from afar. It was better that way for everyone involved.
By the time dinner arrived, the entire school was talking about Remus' resignation. Hayden and Rose had finally returned from their day with the Potters looking overwhelmed and wouldn't tell anyone why. All Hayden would say was that they had learned a lot about their parents' time at Hogwarts. Orion let it go at that. At least the Potters were finally telling their children something.
It wasn't until everyone had gone to bed that Hayden finally cornered Orion by poking his head through Orion's hangings. Holding back a grimace, Orion grabbed his wand and cast a Silencing Charm around his bed so no one else—especially Seamus and Dean would hear the conversation. He could do this. After all, nothing had changed, right?
"So…" Hayden whispered as he sat cross-legged at the foot of Orion's bed. "Dad told me about becoming an Animagus to help Remus. Is that why you did it?"
Orion shook his head. "No, it was more to protect me from him," he whispered back. "As you saw last night, Moony isn't exactly the most friendly when he forgets his potion. We were lucky that his need to protect me overrode the desire to kill."
Hayden nodded as he stared at Orion's bed covers. "Dad told me how bad it could get," he said. "He told me what happened with Snape when they were kids. I can't believe Sirius would do something like that."
"Dad was young and stupid," Orion said bluntly. "He's worked really hard to put that behind him and to make it up to Professor Snape. Remember that they were like Fred and George. Everything was a joke to them but not everyone saw it that way. It wasn't all bad. They did create the Marauder's Map."
Hayden shrugged his shoulders. "I know but it's still hard to think of Dad that way. He's already told me that he won't help me become an Animagus. He said I have enough to worry about."
Orion stared at Hayden curiously. "Do you really want to?" he asked. "If last night hadn't happened, would you have even thought about it?"
Hayden shrugged again. "Probably not," he admitted. "I don't think I could handle more studying. Mum and Dad promised to help me with my Patronus this summer and they're even going to start teaching Rose. Dad doesn't want what happened last night to happen again. I think he and Mum know that we were lucky you showed up when you did."
Orion shifted uncomfortably. He didn't want the Potters to feel like they owed him anything. That sort of obligation would make separating himself from them all the more difficult. "Er—don't worry about it," Orion said at last. "I'm sure you would have done the same for me."
Hayden suddenly looked away. "That's not the point," he said quietly. "I don't think I can do this, Ori. I don't think I can be the-boy-who-lived. I can't even protect my own family. How am I supposed to protect the wizarding world?"
Orion frowned. He really didn't like where this conversation was going. "Er—I don't think anyone expects you to fight anyone alone, Hayden," Orion said carefully. "Besides, you're just a kid—"
"—so are you!" Hayden protested. "Look at us! We're the same age! I should've had the training you've had!"
Orion ran a hand down his tired face. "I really didn't have a choice, Hayden. My magic was out of control. I had to be taught or I would have probably ended up destroying everything in the manor. I couldn't have a normal childhood so don't compare yourself to me. The real question is what you're doing now and it sounds like you're doing what you need to. You're not sitting around doing nothing during the summer like normal kids our age. You're trying to learn what you can."
"I guess," Hayden admitted reluctantly before sliding off the bed. "I should let you get some sleep. You're probably exhausted from last night." He shot Orion a grateful smile. "Thanks Ori, for everything."
Orion watched as his bed hangings closed, blocking Hayden from view. Only then did he bury his face in his hands. This was going to be harder than he thought. Could he really do this? Could he be around Hayden and act like nothing had changed when everything had? There wasn't a choice. The Potter family was a packaged deal. Orion wouldn't be able to choose what members he wanted in his life. For his sanity, distance was the only option.
Remus' quarters were cleaned out by the following morning with only a note left behind for Orion. Reading the letter had nearly torn Orion's heart in two. It had been from Sirius and Remus stating that they knew Orion needed time to process everything so they would give him that. They would be waiting for him at King's Cross Station unless they heard otherwise. Suddenly, Orion felt so alone even if it was less than a week away.
Once the shock had worn off over Remus' departure, speculation began. The closest rumor was that Remus resigned to try to recover from the illness that plagued him all year. Orion tried not to listen to any of it but found it difficult when he heard some of the more unkind rumors. It had been bound to happen with how quickly Remus left but it was still aggravating. Didn't they know Remus at all?
Telling Ron and Hermione the full story about the night of the full moon had been rather comical. Hermione had immediately started asking questions about the process of becoming an Animagus and what it was like after the transformation. Ron, on the other hand, acted somewhat normally for a pureblood child. He panicked when hearing that Remus was a werewolf but quickly regained control when Hermione scolded him for being narrow-minded. It had been a reaction Remus would have expected but Orion couldn't help feeling disappointed. Why did everyone always focus on the creature that only showed up during the full moon instead of the person they were for the remainder of the time?
Orion spent his remaining days at Hogwarts in somewhat of a daze. He tried to distance himself from Hayden and Rose but Rose made that a challenge. She had been more persistent than Hayden in regards to Remus' condition and Shadow's existence. Neville had stepped in a few times to distract her but she was as determined as Hermione which wasn't always a good thing. Eventually, Orion had to tell Rose it wasn't something they should discuss at Hogwarts and that she should talk to her father about it.
The exam results came out on the last day of term, to nearly everyone's relief. Orion had received top marks on all his classes—except for Herbology where the honor went to Neville. Hayden and Ron had passed every subject and Hermione had been relieved to see her fears of failing everything hadn't come true. Her joy only lasted for about a few minutes before she disappeared for almost an hour only to come back looking more relaxed than what Orion had seen in a long time.
Orion had found out why later when Hermione cornered him and revealed that she had dropped Muggle Studies and turned in the Time Turner—insisting that Professor McGonagall promised there wouldn't be a problem with scheduling next year. To say that Orion shared her relief was an understatement. Adding hours to one's day was more of a hassle than what it was worth.
For the third year in a row, Gryffindor had won the House championship although it was mostly due to winning the Quidditch Cup. Oliver was ecstatic, claiming it was the best way to end his final year at Hogwarts. Orion didn't want to think of what that meant for next year. Oliver was a little too obsessed with Quidditch but he had been a great captain. Gryffindor was going to have their work cut out for them next year.
Anxiousness overrode everything when the Hogwarts Express finally pulled away from Hogsmeade Station. Orion couldn't wait to finally see Sirius and Remus. The days of silence from them had been almost painful. He wanted to run to them and apologize more than anything at the moment. Neville had been right. Until he knew the full story, it wasn't right to force blame on anyone—especially Sirius and Remus. The Potters, on the other hand, he wasn't so forgiving. He would be perfectly fine if he never spoke to them again.
Ron was the first to pull Orion out of his thoughts. "So, it's the Quidditch World Cup this summer!" he said excitedly. "We should all go! Dad can usually get tickets from work."
Hayden frowned. "I don't know if my parents would let me," he said grudgingly. "They may think it's too risky."
"Then have your dad come along," Ron insisted. "It's the World Cup, Hayden! It doesn't happen around here often!" Ron shifted his gaze to Orion and Neville. "What about you two?"
"Dad will probably be working security for it," Orion answered with a shrug. "Maybe I can convince him to let us go. It's been a while since I've seen an international Quidditch game."
Ron beamed. "Excellent," he said before turning back to Hayden. "Talk to your parents, okay?"
Hayden nodded although he didn't look too optimistic. Only time would tell. They were all distracted when the witch with the tea cart arrived for lunch followed by several games of Exploding Snap. It felt oddly normal—a group of friends playing a silly game with no complications. The simple act gave Orion hope. He could do this. He just needed to stop thinking about the complications.
When they pulled into the King's Cross Station, Orion eagerly stared out the window for any sight of Sirius and Remus. The problem was there were just too many people to really pick anyone out. Disappointment filled Orion as he followed his friends out of the compartment and off the train. Hermione spotted her parents first, quickly hugging each of them before running off with Crookshanks in her arms. Ron was next although he had help from Fred and George nearly pulling him away. He only had time to wave and promise he'd write before he was out of sight.
Orion was about to venture into the crowd with he heard it—a loud, deep bark that could only come from one particular animal. There was no hesitation. Orion bid a quick goodbye to Hayden and Rose before rushing into the crowd. He frantically pushed his way past people and through families who had already reunited, not stopping until he caught sight of Padfoot's shaggy fur. Padfoot let out another bark and—with a pop—was replaced by Sirius. Orion suddenly felt nervous and could see that Sirius felt the same. They were just too alike for their own good.
"Dad," Orion said shakily. "I'm sorry."
Sirius' nervousness was quickly replaced by regret. "No, kiddo, I'm sorry," he said as he rested his hands on Orion's shoulders. "I never meant to hurt you. I just wanted to protect you but I promise—no more secrets."
Orion smiled in relief. "Good because I have so many questions."
Sirius nodded in understanding. "I'll answer what I can," he said then looked around. "Where are Neville and Cedric?"
"Right here!" Neville shouted as he pushed his way through. "Merlin, Orion. I'm not part bloodhound!"
"You're telling me," Cedric said with a grin. "He had us going in circles."
"Well we can't all have an excellent sense of direction," Orion added with a smile.
"Now, now boys," Remus interjected patiently. "Neville's not to blame." Neville nodded proudly. "His parents have horrible internal compasses too."
"Oye! That's below the belt!" Neville protested earning laughs from Orion and Cedric.
Sirius kept his hands on Orion's shoulders as they left the platform and continued walking out of the train station. The grip was reassuring in a way, as if it was confirming that no matter what it took; Sirius would be there throughout the journey. Glancing up at Sirius, Orion had to admit that no matter what happened in the past to bring him here, he wouldn't trade it for anything. He was glad he had this family and friends that stood by him through everything.
He was glad he was Orion Black.
A/N: And that is the end of Dementors of Azkaban. Goblet of Fire has already been started so reviews will determine how fast it's put up. :-)