The Dragon: No young man, no matter how great, can know his destiny. He cannot glimpse his part in the great story that is about to unfold. Like everyone, he must live and learn.
"The Dragon's Call," Merlin, 2009
The mood at the Dursley household was rather sombre, given the recent scare that Edgar had over Harry's near-death, and Ginny Weasley's actual passing. The Dursleys had actually picked the two brothers up at King's Cross, even engaged in a rather bland conversation with the Grangers, and then drove back to Surrey without any complaint.
At first, Harry didn't question their behaviour until much later that evening, once the moon's light filtered in through the open window in the smallest bedroom at number four, with Edgar's soft snores the only noise.
Dumbledore had written to them.
It was the only explanation that Harry could come up with. Although the Dursleys never abused Edgar or Harry, they had wilfully neglected the two brothers and never hid their contempt and disgust at the Potters. Knowing about magic made everything much clearer for Harry; he now understood why Petunia hated looking at him—at his mother's eyes—and why Edgar was such an eyesore when he looked identical to James Potter. They were reminders.
And on the subject of reminders, Harry mused that Dumbledore must have sent Petunia and Vernon a reminder as to why they took the two Potters in, with an explanation of what occurred at the end of the school year. None of the Dursleys would be stupid enough to antagonise the Potters when they had witnessed death and came so close to it. While they were not a close family, family was still family and the Dursleys did, in a roundabout way, look after the Potter brothers.
It was clever, actually, when Harry looked at all angles. By promising to take in Harry and Edgar, Petunia ensured her family's safety from wizards and witches in return for Dumbledore to leave them alone—the Dursley's greatest wish was to stamp out the magic in the Potters but when they did not happen, they turned their attention to their most basic needs.
However, being Catholic, Petunia could not find it in her to just abandon the boys or let them fall into neglect; they always had clothes, they were always fed. Maybe not the latest fashions and in Dudley's oversized cast-offs, and maybe they were meagre meals, but it was still food and clothing. A roof over their heads.
Clever, thought Harry, and it could so easily have gone sour on Dumbledore. He realised now the thin edge that Dumbledore was riding; on one hand, the treatment at the Dursleys bred a stronger Harry, capable of enduring hits with a moral compass that skewed itself whenever necessary to get the job done—but, had Dumbledore completely misjudged the Dursleys…
Harry shivered and drew the duvet tighter around him. Even now, he knew that he could easily fall into darkness.
As Harry ambled into the kitchen at number four, Privet Drive, he fought back another shudder.
Annnnnnd… he might still fall into that darkness, he thought sourly, as Vernon casually mentioned Marge Dursley visiting for a week.
"When's she coming?" he asked, as he moved over to the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk.
Vernon eyed him, hesitating and probably wondering if it would help him by either stalling or withholding the information. Knowing Harry's character, though, he decided to answer. "In a few days. I'll be picking her up at the station on Saturday."
Harry hummed his agreement, eyeing Dudley as he shoved forkfuls of his second helping into his mouth. His eyes were fixated on the portable television in the corner of the dining room, just over Vernon's shoulder.
The boy was larger than he had been when Harry last saw him in December, and, after a glance between Vernon and Dudley, Harry wondered how much larger Dudley was going to get before he exceeded his father's weight and size.
"She'll be staying in the guest room," continued Vernon, ignoring the look of distaste that flashed briefly across Harry's face; Vernon was very good at ignoring things he didn't want to see, and Harry had exploited that in the past. "She'll be bringing her latest… erm… pet with her, boy, and you'll be expected to treat her and the dog well during their stay here."
Harry frowned, but said, "Deal—as long as she doesn't do anything more than her normal, that is." Then, a thought came to him and he drew up his inner Slytherin to the forefront of his personality.
It was, thought Harry, almost ironic that the power games that the Slytherins played in the common room would come in handy in dealing with Vernon Dursley.
"By the way," continued Harry, almost nonchalantly, as he moved to set his and Edgar's places at the table, "My school allows for day trips into the nearby town on certain days but I need permission from my guardians."
Vernon sputtered. "I beg your pardon!"
Harry cut a glance at Vernon and set his plate deliberately down on the table with a conscious thought. "I believe you heard me. Hogsmeade, permission form, guardian signature."
Vernon's own eyes narrowed. "If there's no funny business the entire time Marge is here."
"I'll play nice if she does," replied Harry, only mildly injecting some venom into the statement.
He and Vernon eyed each other the dining table—Petunia had a fork with some egg on it hovering between the plate and her mouth as she held her breath, warily watching the two strongest men in the room war. She was under no illusions that her nephew could easily overcome her or her family with his magic stick—she just didn't want to see that happen.
Vernon scowled but didn't say anything else; Edgar ambled into the kitchen, yawning and rubbing at his forehead absently, his brown eyes taking in the familiar scene, pausing on Vernon and Harry's stare-off.
"Alright, Harry?" the littlest Potter asked, frowning.
Immediately, Harry and Vernon broke their stare. Harry turned to his brother and smiled widely, cheerfully saying, "Morning, Eddy. Did you sleep well?" and moving towards the gas stove, preparing their eggs and breakfast sausages.
Edgar looked suspiciously at Vernon, Petunia who didn't meet his gaze, and then at his cousin who remained oblivious to whatever occurred between Harry and Vernon. "Fine," he finally replied to his brother as a plate of scrambled eggs, two sausages and a slice of toast with jam slid in front of him at the table.
The five sat at the table, studiously ignoring one another, with the Potters at one end, and the Dursleys at the other. Dudley was watching a programme with lots of explosions and gunfire, while Vernon hummed and hawed and did his best to ignore his two, messy-haired, skinny nephews.
"What's the name of the new dog of Marge's, Pet?" asked Vernon loudly.
Petunia, bewildered, replied, "R-Ripper, Vernon." Boldly, she continued, "Marge last said he won a prestigious award of some sort for his breeding."
Harry rolled his eyes at Edgar, who covered a snicker by taking a larger-than-normal bite of his eggs.
The two made conversation, ignoring the Potters. While they were talking about Marge, her dogs, Wiltshire, her train arrival, and then the weather, the Labour Party, and then hoodlums, Edgar turned to Harry and fished a folded piece of parchment from his pocket.
"Hermione just sent it with Iris," he said, handing it over to Harry. "It's addressed to both of us, but I thought you might want to see it."
Harry frowned around his eggs, and washed them down with his orange juice before taking the parchment and unfolding it—and then stared.
Boy-Who-Lived and friends uncover famed Chamber of Secrets—youngest Weasley girl dies in encounter, screamed the bold headline.
Hermione had sent a clipping from the Daily Prophet about the Chamber of Secrets. The Auror Department publicly revealed their version of the story only a few days ago with quotes from the Head Auror Rufus Scrimgeour, another high-ranking Auror by the name of Kingsley Shacklebolt, and two Healers from St. Mungo.
Harry swallowed thickly, the lingering taste of eggs suddenly tasting of ash. However, he forced himself to continue reading.
Rufus Scrimgeour, Departmental Head of the Auror Division, revealed in a statement made yesterday that the monster that was plaguing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been appropriated and destroyed. The monster was that of a thousand-year-old basilisk, probably spawned by Salazar Slytherin himself back when he was still at Hogwarts as one of the four founders.
"Our Department has dealt with the threat and now the threat is passed, with only one unforeseen, and unfortunate, casualty," stated Scrimgeour.
However, there were rumours about several students having been present at the time when the Aurors recovered the youngest Weasley from the Chamber of Secrets, from which she had been a prisoner—rumours which indicate that it was the Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter, himself.
"Those rumours are baseless and lack any concrete fact behind them," reputed Chief Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt. "Mr. Potter was, at the time when the Aurors recovered Ms. Weasley, surrounded by his friends—unless you wish to assume that they too were with him in the Chamber of Secrets?"
Official story is that Gilderoy Lockhart decided to take on the monster in the Chamber of Secrets personally, having already slain many other monsters (all of which he detailed extensively in his extremely popular novels). Unfortunately, upon finding the entrance to the Chamber (which the Auror Department failed to reveal), Lockhart suffered some injuries and a spell backfire, which has landed him in St. Mungo's Janus Thickey Ward, for long-term patients.
"It's unlikely he'll ever recover his memory fully," stated Magdalene Webber, "Actually, it's unlikely he'll ever recover anything other than anything new he's learnt from when the Aurors found him."
Two Hufflepuff students reported Lockhart's odd behaviour and reported it to several Aurors stationed at Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, who then tracked the Defence professor to the entrance of the Chamber, where they found Ms. Ginevra Weasley, 12, dead.
"No parent should ever have to bury their child," said a shocked, and clearly grieving Scrimgeour. "The Weasleys are good people, and they didn't deserve to plan their only daughter's funeral—nor did Ms. Weasley deserve to die."
The Weasley family, pictured right, from 1992 during their family vacation to Egypt, has declined any statements.
Harry let out a breath he was holding, and, without a word, snatched up his plate and glass from the table, left them in the kitchen sink, and was out of the back garden door and over the back fence—and gone from number 4 Privet Drive.
When Harry returned, much later that evening, he was sporting a blossoming bruise alongside his right eye and chin, and his knuckles were scraped raw.
"Where've you been?" demanded Edgar, turning in the desk chair to face his older brother. "Of course Petunia and Vernon didn't care but I did! You just took off without a word!"
"Sorry," mumbled Harry, ignoring Edgar's scathing glare. He reached and yanked his shirt over his head and negligently tossed it at their wardrobe, wincing as he stretched and pulled at the scabs of his healing wounds from the Chamber of Secrets.
Edgar silently watched his brother, taking in the skinny profile, but now unable to count the ribs and see his spine as clearly as he used to—instead, Edgar focused on the fresh, pink scar from the basilisk fang that slashed across his brothers' back, and the odd purple/green bruises that were fading from the Chamber.
"You'll tear your cuts open if you overdo things," he finally said, softly, watching Harry as he reached for a button-up flannel top.
Harry paused, mid-button, and glanced at his brother over his shoulder. He then resumed buttoning.
"Aren't you going to say something?" demanded Edgar.
"What do you want me to say, Eddy?" burst out Harry suddenly, turning around and away from the wardrobe to face his brother. His eyes were blazing, almost lit from within as he began to snarl his frustrations out at his younger brother. "Do you want me to tell you that every night I go to bed dreading my dreams where I see not just the Weasley girl, but you, Theo, Nate, Cedric, Hermione—everyone I care about being mauled by the basilisk? Frothing at the mouth from its poison? Dying? Do you want me to tell you how I feel guilty for not getting to the Chamber earlier? That I happily let Cedric and his mates go on and on about what our next move should be? Do you want me to tell you that I'm glad that the Weasley girl is dead because it means that you and my friends are alive? What do you want me to say, Edgar? Really—tell me, because I'm all ears."
Edgar hadn't seen Harry lose his temper like that in ages—since before Hogwarts, at any rate—and snapped his mouth shut, feeling contrite and at the same time, belligerent.
"You think I don't feel that, too?" snapped Edgar, jumping from the chair to his feet, clenching his fists. "She was my age, Henry! I wanted to go to her directly and help her but you and the others decided it would be best to think things over." Edgar laced the final three words with as much scorn as he could manage.
Harry's lips thinned, and he took a step forward, threateningly, but then realised that this was his baby brother, and visibly reigned his temper in as much as he could. "Clearly you don't understand about cause and effect, or the consequences of any actions that are taken, Edgar," said Harry, coolly. "As for where I was, I went to talk with Vicar Hornsby, and then vented my frustrations out of Dudley's friends Piers and Malcolm, who were bothering the kid for number 12, Mark Evans. Does that satisfy your curiosity?"
Edgar swallowed, thickly, and gave a short, sharp, nod.
"Good," replied Harry flatly, grabbing his flannel bottoms from the wardrobe and stalking out of the room. Edgar heard the water run in the upstairs bathroom, and then after a few minutes Harry returned in his pyjamas. Without looking at his little brother, Harry climbed into the bottom bunk, rolled over so his back was to Edgar, and pulled the covers up.
Neither Potter said goodnight to the other.
A few days later, Hermione sent another Daily Prophet clipping—although this time, she directed it to Harry specifically.
Harry didn't get a chance until later that evening to read it, as dinner was postponed until after Vernon called the local constabulary for more information on the recent escape of a high-security prisoner, Black.
Hermione's letter consisted of a single piece of regular lined-paper—something of a rarity, given that he lived mostly in the magical world—with a quick note about Sirius Black being a wizard who escaped from Azkaban prison. A clipping of the Prophet suggested that people stay indoors because Black was 'armed and dangerous,' and the rest of the article was fanciful gibberish about his supposed crimes, including blowing a street of twelve Muggles up and Peter Pettigrew, and being Voldemort's (or rather, "You-Know-Who.") right-hand man.
Harry frowned. He studied quite a bit and never heard of a single spell that could blow a street apart and kill thirteen people in one go—unless it was a bombardia or reducto that was aimed at the pavement… and that never guaranteed anything, either.
Curious, Harry ran a finger along the news clipping and then around the letter Hermione sent, absently staring through the bedroom window at the looming twilight. What was the point of Hermione sending the clipping? Was it a warning? A hint to research?
Frowning, Harry shook his head lightly, and glanced at the road as he saw Vernon's sleek, grey Mercedes-Benz purred down the street and into the Dursley's driveway.
Oh, joy; thought Harry, here comes Marge.
She entered Number 4, Privet Drive loudly, the suitcase thumping loudly as it smacked the wood floor in the foyer; she was calling for her 'Diddikins,' and asking Petunia for a brandy already.
"Where's that Potter boy? The eldest, Petunia!" Harry heard her snarl. Harry left the bedroom and peaked down the stairs to the foyer, watching the large group stand around.
Edgar, who had been off sulking in the kitchen, drew Marge's attention as he tried to sneak upstairs to his room. "Never mind, have the younger one take my suitcase to my room."
Harry watched as Edgar shot a nasty look at Marge but complied; he remembered vividly Harry disobeying Marge once as a child, years before Hogwarts, and her siccing Ripper on Harry until he climbed up a tree to escape the violent pit-bull.
As Edgar trudged past Harry, the two shared a glance. Message received: once again, they would put aside their own problems and grievances in order to unite against the common enemy: Marge Dursley.
For the most part, Marge did behave; Vernon and Petunia went out of their way to ensure that the Potter brothers spent the majority of their free time outside of the house and Petunia took over any chores that needed to be completed, as well as most meals. Dudley, too, spent his time away from Privet Drive, although he was mostly with his gang of friends and terrorising the neighbourhood and vandalising store properties.
Without anyone to focus her anger and scathing remarks on, her weeklong stay was almost… pleasurable. Almost, of course, being the key word, as Petunia required the entire family to be present on her final Saturday evening in Little Whinging.
Edgar and Harry worked with Petunia in the kitchen creating a feast: a large pot roast, side potatoes and mixed vegetables; pudding for dessert as well as freshly, homemade tarts with whipping cream. Moreover, Vernon broke out the fine sherry that he was saving for "special occasions."
Harry shared a worried glance with Eddy, who returned it from the opposite end of the kitchen counter. The last time Marge had too much alcohol, her mouth began sprouting off all kinds of insults; some of which even began to slide in Petunia's direction that left a very bitter taste in the Dursley household's mouths.
Harry, Edgar and Petunia shared this worry, as the two Potter boys spotted her pinched lips and the tightening of the crow's feet around her eyes as they gathered up the roast and dishes and brought them to the dining table.
Dudley, already seated, somehow looking sharp in his father's old fitted jacket and pressed trousers; Vernon, too, had dressed up for the occasion and was wearing a new bowtie. Petunia had on the Evans family pearls, and had hissed at Harry and Edgar to 'smarten up,' so both were in their school trousers, jumpers and Oxfords—but Harry had given Edgar his old green Slytherin jumper that he recently outgrew, so he was just in shirtsleeves.
Marge immediately went in the sherry, and even poured some from the decanter into a teacup saucer for Ripper to lap up. The dinner remained tense and strained, but Vernon and Petunia did a very good job in keeping Marge's attention on blasé topics and away from the teenagers.
"Ah, just a bit more, Petunia, there's a ducky," said a very boisterous Marge much later, once the food was consumed.
Petunia complied, glancing at Vernon who gave a very tiny nod. The sherry decanter was nearly empty, and Marge consumed most, as Vernon was driving her back to the station later that evening.
Certain they had spent enough time in Marge's presence, Harry looked at Vernon and as per an earlier deal they had made, politely asked, "May Edgar and I be excused?"
Vernon, grateful, readily agreed and the two Potters rose to their feet and began gathering their dishes.
"What?" barked Marge, her glassy eyes settling on them. "No thanks to your aunt for slaving over this meal? A meal you ate?"
Harry looked at Petunia from under his fringe, his spectacles sliding down his nose as he did so. Petunia's pinched look deepened.
"Really, Marge," she said, her hands fluttering around her neck in nervously, "the boys did help… there's no need to keep them here at the table any longer…"
"Tosh!" snapped Marge. "They should learn manners and reply to their betters when someone asks them a question!"
Edgar stilled at Harry's side, and Harry's eyebrows shot upward as he looked from Petunia to Vernon, in what was a very clear message: Do you seriously expect me to reply to that or will you handle her before I lose my temper?
Vernon, already nervous and sure of the outcome, blustered into the conversation. "Marge, really—the boys did their work and we don't need them here at the table any longer."
Marge's extra jowls around her neck wobbled a bit as she made a noise in her throat. "Vernon! How could you expect those two layabouts to run amuck? Take advantage of your hospitality?" She turned her eyes on the Potters again, and it suddenly struck Harry at how much she didn't look like her brother, Vernon, except for their massive size in general.
Marge's thinning hair was a dull ash colour, and her face already lined from her work with her dogs, set into a permanent frown. Marge was nasty for the sake of being nasty—and took delight in taking it out on Harry and Edgar. He certainly recognised that look: she was gearing up for a big one.
"If it were up to me, boy, I would've chucked you and your brat of a brother into an orphanage the first chance I got!"
Harry let a cool mask settle over his features. "You are, of course, entitled to your own opinions."
She humphed at him, and watched as Edgar and Harry moved into the nearby kitchen, where one counter separated the eating and kitchen area; they could still easily see and hear her. "Where did you say they go to school, Vernon?"
Harry glanced at his uncle. This ought to be good, he thought. Edgar stumbled a bit when he scraped his plate clean of food sticking to it, his grip slipping from the plate only an inch or so in surprise.
Harry kept his eyes on his uncle, who was flushing under the attention.
"Erm, well, that is…" stuttered Vernon.
"Well?" asked Marge, losing patience.
"They attend the same school as their parents," he finally blurted; Petunia beside him paled.
"Oh?" asked Marge, gaining some interest. "And what's the name of the school?"
"It's a small institute that I doubt you've heard about," interrupted Harry, eager to draw the attention away from Hogwarts.
Marge narrowed her eyes at him. "And where do you and your brother get the money to attend such as school, boy? Certainly not from my brother!"
"It's charity," replied Harry coolly. "The Headmaster was friends with my parents and has taken us on at the school as an act of charity."
Marge clearly had nothing to say about the matter, and the conversation became slightly stilted as Harry and Edgar finished washing up—and then Marge had another sherry and the evening went to hell.
"What did Potter do for a living, Vernon? You never said."
Vernon and Petunia both stopped talking, immediately. Petunia was incredibly pale, and Vernon was flushed in the cheeks. Even Dudley, who normally avoided all conversations revolving his two cousins, looked up from the television and stared at his parents in fascination.
"I—I, didn't say," responded Vernon, carefully.
"Unemployed layabout?" replied Marge, sympathetically. "Completely understandable when you look at those two whelps. And their mother?"
"Lily… she didn't work," whispered Petunia.
Marge nodded in understanding. "Now, no offence to you, Petunia, because you're a good sort, but I've always said it, and I'll say it again: if there's something wrong with the bitch, then there's something wrong with the pups…"
The sherry in Marge's hand shattered and drenched her hand and wrist in the liquid, and coated the top of the linen on the table. Petunia shrieked and Vernon blubbered, looking up at the Potters in the kitchen. Dudley was staring open-mouthed at his aunt.
Harry's head whipped around to look at Edgar, who was pasty-white except for twin splashes of red along his cheeks that stretched upwards to his ears. His brown eyes were narrowed into thin lines, and his mouth was stretched into a scowl.
"Edgar," hissed Harry, in warning.
"Take that back," the younger Potter muttered—but it was loud enough that everyone heard it.
"He's delusional! Been awake too long!" Vernon shouted jovially. "To bed, Potter! Go, go!"
"No Vernon, let the boy speak. Proud of your mother, were you, boy?" Marge glared at Edgar, and Harry felt his own ire rise at the way she was looking at him. "Are you proud to be the son of a whore and her drunken layabout of a husband?"
"He was not, and my mother was no whore," snarled Edgar, his soapy hands fisting at his sides. Harry tensed, and looked around the room warily—he was sure something else would explode soon if Edgar didn't gain control over his emotions.
"But proud of your parents who died in a car crash and left you on your good aunt's doorstep, are you?" prompted Marge, nastily.
"They didn't die in a car crash!"
Harry swore as a crystal vase in the centre of the table imploded, covering the table and Marge in tiny shards of crystal and glass, but Marge didn't notice; she focused on Edgar.
Vernon shouted something; Dudley was under the table, whimpering in fear; and Petunia was shrieking at Harry to do something, but Marge continued speaking. "Let me tell you something, boy—"
She was going to say more when her voice suddenly disappeared, leaving her completely silenced. Startled, Marge's eyes bulged and her hands flew up to her throat, where she ineffectively touched at her enormous neck and jowls.
Harry held his breath and glanced at Edgar, who was panting heavily.
"Let's see you talk now, bitch," he muttered under his breath, "when I've just silencio'd you."
The youngest Potter then stormed past Harry, through the front foyer and out of the house, slamming the front door behind him, and leaving the dining room in a stunned silence.
Harry stifled a sigh and caught his aunt's furious eye. "I'll go after him," he volunteered, vaguely aware of Petunia's nod. He glanced back at Marge, who was clutching her throat in confusion and fear. "And I'm sure her voice will return soon, too—she's probably just lost it from talking so much."
Harry then took off after Edgar, whom he was sure was heading to the park that Dudley favoured to terrorise. It was very dark already, and only some streetlamps were working, flickering on and off in the balmy summer weather, but there was enough light for Harry to walk the familiar path to the park.
Just as he thought, Edgar was swinging gently back and forth on a park swing, kicking up sand occasionally as he did so. Harry settled into the vacant swing next to him, wrapping his hands around the chains. Unsure of how to start and still swirling with his own emotions over Marge's insults and Edgar's own magical attack, Harry drew himself together as tightly as he could and settled on a single thought.
After a moment, he spoke.
"Well done, Edgar, you'll have the Improper Use of Magic office down on us in a matter of hours," said Harry scathingly, trying to ignore the fluttering of panic in his chest at the thought of being expelled from Hogwarts. "You just couldn't hold your temper, could you?"
"Did you hear what she said about mum and dad!" demanded Edgar, angrily. His face still flushed in his anger.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Of course I did; I was right there, wasn't I?"
"Then how can you be so calm about it!"
"I live with a bunch of junior psychopathic bullies, Edgar, I have to remain calm whenever I'm around them," replied Harry evenly. "Otherwise I would've already been ripped apart in the Den."
"Doesn't make it right," the youngest Potter muttered.
"'Course not," agreed Harry, "but you still shouldn't have lost your temper."
"The things she was saying!" fumed Edgar. "Who does she think she is, to know our parents? Mum was not a whore, and dad was certainly not a drunken layabout! They fought Voldemort! They died fighting him, not in a bloody car crash!"
"And yet do we know what they really did for a living?" questioned Harry, lightly. "No one has told us anything about our parents, Eddy. We can't assume that just because we fail to ask questions that the answers are going to be something we want to hear."
"I know," the soon to be twelve-year-old grumbled.
"Good," replied Harry. They let the conversation fall into silence for a bit longer, swinging back and forth and listening to the creak of the chains. A whisper of a breeze rustled the leaves of the nearby trees and bushes.
"D'you think they're proud of us?" asked Edgar, finally, very softly.
"Yeah," said Harry, just as softly but very confidently. "I think they are very proud of us."
The two shared a grin—an eerily similar grin that was slightly lop-sided and dimpled in one cheek—and basked in the familiar glow of brotherly love for the moment. The moment was lost, however, when a twig snapped and broke through the night like a gunshot. Harry was up and off the swing in one easy movement, standing in front of Edgar and looking around the park and towards the bushes and trees to one side.
"Harry?" asked Edgar, quietly, as he too rose to his feet.
Harry's eyes continued to scan the dark playground, trying to ignore the odd shadows that the teeter-totter and jungle gym made in the flickering streetlamps. He strained his ears and listened as a gentle breeze rustled the bushes and the leaves from the trees, masking any other sounds.
Unbidden, a memory popped into his head, one of Dumbledore's speaking: "Alas! It was not your father, but his friend, Sirius Black, who wanted you to have a more 'common' name, I believe he said. He and his brother, Regulus, had such strong, regal names amongst the Pureblood circle and I am sure that he did not want you exposed to that. Hence, Harry and Eddy instead of Henry and Edgar."
Harry stiffened. Sirius Black had escaped Azkaban, was a wizard, Death Eater, and was at one point in his life, James Potter's best friend… he had more than enough reasons to go after the Boy-Who-Lived and his little brother. Suddenly the bushes and shadows around Little Whinging's park seemed so much more ominous and threatening than they were just a few minutes ago.
"Edgar, start walking back to Privet Drive," instructed Harry, not taking his eyes off the greenery off to one side. Had something moved back there? "Don't turn your back until after you're around the corner on Hawthorne Court. Then run. Run back to the house."
"Henry?" queried Edgar, sounding small. "Is everything alright?"
Harry almost felt Edgar's hesitance, but as Harry watched one of the shadows around the bush to their left begin to elongate, move and stretch, he was sure that he and Edgar were being watched by something—and he wasn't willing to risk his brothers' life on it if he was wrong.
"Now, Edgar," snapped Harry, taking his eyes off the bush in anger to turning to face his baby brother. As he did so, something growled and out of the bushes leapt a massive black thing. Edgar wordlessly cried out, but obeyed his brother and took off down the park, over the sand and then onto the empty street as he raced around the corner and disappeared from Harry's sight.
Harry, on the other hand, stumbled back as the massive beast leapt out, and was cursing himself as he sat in the sand at the park with a looming thing nearing him. As it passed under one of the flickering lights, Harry saw it was instead a massive dog—some sort of boarhound or wolf mix—and it was staring at him in a very odd light… an intelligent light.
"Oh, bollocks," muttered Harry. "You're an animagus."
The dog paused; surprised, and then bared its teeth in warning, confirming Harry's mutter that the dog was more human than beast. Harry, however, was having none of that. The dog was an animagus, a human shape shifter, and Harry knew immediately who it was: Sirius Black. But he wasn't going to sit around and make things easy for the man.
As the dog neared, Harry dug his hand into the sand of the park, and then fisted it. He was waiting, in baited breath, for the opportune moment—and when the dog was almost upon him, Harry swung his arm out and the sand that he had gathered in his hand flew directly into the wizards' eyes.
The dog howled and Harry scrambled to his feet, slipping a few times as he gathered his energy and began running as fast as he could down the street and around the corner—in the opposite direction of Edgar.
He heard the dog panting as Black followed him in his animal form, its soft paws padding against the concrete and allowing him to catch up despite the lead Harry had. Instead, Harry willed his brain to stop panicking and remember that he knew the area better than anyone else did; this was his turf.
Harry skidded around a corner of shops, passing the main street boutiques and restaurants, never pausing to look at his shadowy reflection in the shiny glass windows. As he neared the end of the street, he caught and swung himself around a lamppost and then pounded down a side alley between the grocer's and a hair salon.
Black was still behind him.
Harry took another turn between a training gym and local convenience store, and then another almost immediately by the town community centre and jumped over a fallen rubbish bin—but the dog didn't stop pursuing him. Finally, Harry chanced a glance backwards and saw that the dog was following and matching him step for step.
Unfortunately, having glanced back, Harry's feet took a wrong turn and he ended up in the dead-end alley behind the pub, where only two dumpsters and litter gathered. The smell was horrible, and Harry gagged just breathing it in.
He was tired and horribly out of breath, but decided he would face Sirius Black standing. He wouldn't go down without a physical fight, though, and readied himself to launch at the dog.
However, the black mass around it shifted and changed shape—too fast for Harry to really tell—and then standing in the same place as the dog was a haunted, raggedly-looking man with sunken eyes.
"Hello Harry Potter," he rasped, and Harry swallowed the lump in his throat.
"Hello Sirius Black," replied Harry, tightly, mentally calculating what to do next.
Black was watching him, carefully, assessing. It seemed that he, too, was unsure what to do. Finally, he said, "I suppose you want to kill me."
Harry frowned. That was an unusual opening line, shouldn't Harry be saying that instead, as the Boy-Who-Lived, the one who opposed his master?
"I beg your pardon?"
"You must want to kill me," repeated Black. "Surely you've been told about how I betrayed your parents?"
"Eh?" asked Harry, rather inelegantly.
Black blinked, in surprise, and then blurted, sounding completely horrified and astonished, "Has no one told you anything?"
"Apparently not," said a flabbergasted and sour Harry, although he did his best to hide it. "Why don't we start with you betraying my parents, shall we?" Harry let his wand slide down from the cuff of his Oxford, now dirty from his fall in the sand, to his hand, where it rested comfortably.
Black warily stepped back, eyeing the wand. "Will you let me explain first? I promise I won't hurt you, Harry. I could never hurt you or Eddy."
Harry narrowed his eyes, contemplating the man in front of him. He was standing warily, non-threateningly, and had both his hands in front of him where Harry could see. He also shifted so his back was up against the pub's wall, so that Harry would have clear access past him if he decided to take off running.
"I'm listening," answered Harry, and the surprising thing was, he really was listening to Sirius Black—and it was enlightening.
Number Four, Privet Drive was completely dark when Harry finally arrived. The entire street was silent and sleeping, as it was nearing one in the morning, and Harry and a few night scavengers were the only ones awake.
Harry fished the spare key out from underneath the welcome mat and quietly entered the house, eager to not wake anyone up. He knew the house like the back of his hand and knew all the creaking steps, so he was able to avoid bumping into anything in the inky darkness as he slowly walked up the stairs to his room.
As soon he reached to turn the knob, it flew open from the other side and Edgar greeted his brother, backlit by the single lamp on the desk in the far corner.
"Where've you been?" hissed Edgar, similar to a week previous when they had their argument.
Harry, weary and emotionally drained, mumbled something and gently pushed his way past his brother, tugging at the buttons at his shirt's cuff as he did so.
"Is everything alright, Henry?" asked Caesar, from Harry's bunk.
"Yeah, it's fine," he replied in Parseltongue, sighing as he finished the sentence.
Edgar dodged his every step, staring at his brother. Finally, after Harry shrugged off the dirty clothes and chucked them into their laundry bin in the wardrobe, the littlest Potter whispered, "Was it him? Was it Black?"
Harry bit his lip and closed his eyes, tilting his head upwards and wondered what he was going to tell Edgar. He thought back to his meeting with Sirius Black—his godfather!—and everything he leant in the two hours they spent talking.
The first thing Black did was sigh.
"I was your parents' secret keeper," he began, cautiously aware of Harry's wand. "But only up until the twentieth of October. I suggested they switch—and no one knew. I thought Remus was the traitor, but it was really Peter. I thought, oh, who would suspect little Peter? He's not talented in magic, he's small, easily overlooked… and well, I suppose it was ironic, really. I overlooked him, and never realised he'd been swayed to the Death Eaters."
Harry gave an affirmative snort, recognising the self-depreciating humour Black was injecting into the conversation.
The Azkaban escapee continued, staring at the wall opposite in the alley as he recounted the events. "When I arrived at Peter's that night, and he wasn't at his flat, I thought they figured out we switched keepers and took him to be tortured. But nothing was out of place; everything was left the way Peter liked his things. That's when I knew something had happened.
"I raced immediately over to Godric's Hallow, to your home, and when I saw it," here, Black swallowed thickly and his voice wobbled, "Merlin! There was smoke coming out of the upper windows and the front door blown off its hinges. I raced right in, not sure if Voldemort would be there or not, and saw James first. He was lying on the floor in the kitchen, dead. That's when I went to the nursery—and there Lily was, dead and Eddy crying at the top of his lungs."
"You were just sitting there, in your crib next to Eddy, silent and staring at me when I came in," revealed Black. "You were bleeding from the forehead, from a cut and the whole place reeked of Dark Magic. I picked up you, cuddled you, and tried to comfort Eddy but he wasn't having any of it. So I sent a patronus to Remus to come and help me."
"You can send messages through a patronus?" asked Harry, struck on that one thought, oddly.
Black grinned, showing off yellowed teeth. "Of course. Safest way of communication! A patronus will know if the recipient is under the Imperious or polyjuiced or not."
Harry nodded to show his understanding, and then Black continued.
"I knew I wasn't thinking straight, Harry, and I'm sorry," he apologised, turning his head away in remorse. "I gathered you and Eddy in my arms and was heading back to my motorcycle when Hagrid appeared and told me that he was taking the two of you to Petunia's, on Dumbledore's orders. I only half-heartedly fought against him—I wanted revenge. Peter had killed my best friend, my brother, orphaned his two young sons… an attack against a Marauder is an attack on us all."
The escapee shook his head. "I handed you and Eddy over. Then I told Hagrid to take my bike, use it to get you to safety, and then I apparated out. I had to track Peter down—and when I did, three days later, he cornered me by shouting to the street I'd betrayed Lily and James… and then blasted the street in front of him and transformed into a rat and sped down the sewer in his animagus form."
"And you stood there laughing," finished Harry, recalling the article Hermione sent.
"If I wasn't laughing, I would've been crying," admitted Black, morosely. "The pain was… excruciating. A part of me had been ripped away in James's death; and to have justice also ripped away… and then what was left of my family be sent away to someone else when I was supposed to take care of you and Eddy…"
"What do you mean, take care of me and Eddy?" demanded Harry, drawing Black back out of his funk.
Black looked up in surprise. "Didn't anyone tell you?" at Harry's furious look, he sighed. "I suppose they didn't… I'm your godfather."
Harry staggered back against the dumpster in shock. His heart was beating furiously in his chest and dots appeared over his eyes. Family! He and Eddy had family.
The voice was closer than before and Harry looked up in shock as Sirius Black edged closer to the young Slytherin, warily, as if he was a frightened animal that was ready to dart away at a sudden movement.
Harry let a shutter come over his face, struggling to hide his emotions over the revelations Black had dropped on him. The man watched wordlessly as Harry managed to recover—not enough to hide everything he was feeling, but enough—and then tilted his head to the side, in a very dog-like manner.
"You look very much like James," he finally whispered. "But you have Lily's eyes. And you have her personality," he barked out a laugh. "She was always able to hide herself away when it suited her. The Slytherins called her the Ice Queen behind her back, and a few to her face. They learned to never do that again quickly."
Harry gave a tiny smirk, inwardly very eager to hear more about his parents. Instead, he sighed and shrewdly asked, "How I can trust that everything you've said here is the truth, Black?"
Black sighed as well, sagging against the wall near the back door of the pub. His voice was heavy in self-hate as he murmured, "You can't."
Harry silently regarded the Azkaban prisoner in front of him. So far, despite Harry having a wand, the man had not made any threatening moves against him, despite that single growl and leap back at the park. Would Harry take a risk…?
"Magical oath," said Harry, confidently.
Black looked up. "Excuse me?"
"Magical oath," repeated Harry.
Black stared. "Yeah, that's what I thought I heard. I'd need a wand for that, Harry, and mine was snapped in Azkaban ages ago."
Harry didn't pause as he flipped his wand so that he was holding the tip and offering the grip to Sirius. He shook his hand a bit to entice the man. \Black stared at the offered wand, with a gobsmacked looked on his face. "Take it. Use it and make the oath. Swear that everything you've just told me is the truth. That you're not a Death Eater, never will be a Death Eater. That you've never supported Voldemort."
Black swallowed heavily, and slowly reached out to take the wand, his grey-coloured eyes locked on Harry's the entire time. He gripped the handle, cautiously, and then, keeping the wand pointed at the ground and away from Harry deliberately, Black said, "I swear on my life that I have never been a Death Eater, never will be a Death Eater, have never supported Voldemort in my life and that everything I've told Henry James Potter this evening is the entire truth."
A blinding flash of light lit up the grimy alleyway, overpowering the nearby streetlamp and setting a nearby car's alarm off.
Harry and Sirius exchanged grins.
Cautiously, Sirius stepped forward and handed Harry back his wand; he skipped away but Harry ignored the man and reached forward and gave him a tight hug.
Baffled, but overcome with emotion, Sirius returned the hug and held on tight to one of two last remaining links to James Potter.
"I'm glad that we've family," muttered Harry into Sirius's chest. "Real family."
Sirius pulled back and held Harry at arm's length. "Me too. Now, let's look at you! I have so much to learn about you and Eddy… what house you're in, if you plan pranks, who your friends are…" He sighed.
"Then ask," offered Harry.
"Well, you're probably a Gryffindor, especially the way you stood up to me earlier," grinned Sirius.
"No," replied Harry, shaking his head. He eyed him. "I don't think you'll be too happy with my house association."
Sirius sighed, and a small smile appeared on his lips. "Slytherin, is it?"
Sirius looked away for a moment, as if considering something, and then came to a resolution as he turned back to Harry. "What do you know of my family?"
Here, Harry paused before deliberately answering, "Enough. The other Slytherins talk about their relations and the Blacks have been mentioned a time or two."
Sirius gave Harry a bitter smile. "Are you happy there, at least?"
Harry grinned widely. "Yeah. I've many good friends, some not even in Slytherin, and Eddy's in Ravenclaw. At first it was a bit crazy, getting used to the games they play… but you realise it's really not that different than what I've done before here."
"Oh?" asked Sirius casually, but Harry detected the sharp interest in his inflection.
It was Harry's turn to look away. "Dumbledore and I spoke about this before… when Eddy first started at Hogwarts. I've done things here to protect him that he wouldn't appreciate it, and I've done things I don't want him to know about. Ever. So when it comes to the games that the Slytherins play—who has power, who wants power, how to get power—it's really nothing different than what I've done in Little Whinging to make sure that Eddy was safe."
Sirius's eyes searched Harry's when the young teen turned to look at his godfather, and whatever Sirius was looking for, he found. His gaze softened and he nodded. "I know," he said, and Harry felt a warm bubble of emotion heat him from his stomach. "I know," the innocent man repeated, emotion filling the two words.
Moreover, Harry knew, instinctively, that Sirius did know.
"Henry!" hissed Edgar. "Was. It. Black?"
Harry turned back to face his brother, and plastered a fake, soothing expression on his face. "No, Eddy," he lied, the words like ash in his mouth. "It was a stray dog that smelled dinner on us. He was hungry and that's what made him a bit threatening. I threw some rocks and pebbles at it until it got the message and left."
Harry then deliberately got into his bunk and rolled over. "Night, Eddy."
There was a significant pause, but then Harry heard Edgar turn off the desk lamp, climb into his bunk, and murmur, "Night, Harry."
It took Harry some time to fall asleep that evening.
Harry continued to meet with Sirius during the summer in Little Whinging, learning a bit more here and there about his parents' and his godfather and their mutual friend Remus Lupin without telling Edgar.
Unsure of how to keep Sirius a secret, especially as he was wanted for murder and foolishly staying in Little Whinging (which was notorious for its snoopy neighbours); Harry took a risk and invited Sirius to Vicar Hornsby's parish. Since speaking to the vicar the previous Christmas, Harry found that he enjoyed the man's quiet demeanour and the confidence that he exuded, one that came of knowing his place in the world.
The vicar had listened, and did not rush to call the police as Harry had feared, but did demand that he meet Sirius and pass judgment on his own, which Sirius did pass. The vicar's only requirement of his silence and help (at first of which Harry was unsure of, given his fears that it would go against the man's faith), was that the wizard confess and then repent for seeking revenge over caring for the Potters.
Harry was entirely sure that Sirius got off very lightly.
The downsides in having Hornsby help him and Sirius was that they were required to break that Statute of Secrecy and take the man into their confidences. At first, Harry was incredibly worried about how the man would take the knowledge of Harry and Edgar being wizards and magic uses… but that soon fell to the wayside.
"I always thought there was something off about you," the ruddy-faced man laughed.
"You're not upset?" asked Harry, astonished. He glanced at Sirius, who sat with his hands wrapped around a mug of the vicar's famous hot chocolate, who looked uncomfortable and a little out-of-place.
"No, no," assured the religious man. "Just because my faith says that witchcraft is evil does not mean that you are. And I certainly won't be requiring you to partake in an exorcism or confess if you're worried about it. Magic is…" Hornsby trailed off, and gave a small, almost Mona-Lisa smile. "What is the difference between magic and miracle? Where do you draw the line between God and the unexplained or the knowledge of science we have yet to discover? What is magic but another way of expressing our faith?"
"Very philosophical," said Sirius diplomatically. "A lot of Muggles wouldn't see magic as innocent as you."
Hornsby nodded. "Oh, I know. Let me tell you, does it ever make sense about Petunia Dursley now! Goodness, was that woman ever particular about making sure her family was at church services every Sunday."
The vicar, who was just a few years older than Sirius, reclined in his seat in the kitchen and cocked his head to the side as he regarded the fully-grown wizard. Sirius had freshened up come, although he was still sickly looking and his hair was still a mess—but there was a lightness to him that he didn't have when Harry first met him.
"What are your plans, Mr. Black?"
Sirius visibly cringed. "Please, call me Sirius. As for my plans—well, they were to head to Hogwarts in time for Harry and Eddy's school year to start so I could get Peter, but now…"
"Revenge?" questioned Hornsby, sounding horribly vague and injecting almost no emotion into his question.
Sirius shrugged. "That was the plan. Before. Previously. Whatever."
Shrewdly, Hornsby eyed the wizard, completely ignoring Harry (who sat silent regardless), and then lectured softly, "Do not commit the crime for which you were imprisoned."
"I know," sighed Sirius, bringing a hand up from the warm mug to run it through his grimy hair, "but I can't clear my name without Peter. He's also an unregistered animagus, and I guarantee you that he's with the Weasleys."
Harry did his best to control that twitch of distaste, but caught both men's attention. "I know the twins. They're alright, but their youngest…" here, he was about to say 'son,' but then realised that with Ginny's death, Ron was the youngest Weasley. He amended, clearing his throat hastily and drawing Sirius's concern, "youngest kid, Ron; well, he's a right prat."
Hornsby didn't say anything, having already heard the whole, uncensored version of the previously watered-down story Harry gave the man about Ginny's death and his role in it. Instead, the vicar cast a concerned eye over Harry, who nodded slightly.
Satisfied that the young Potter was fine, the vicar spoke. "And you say that Pettigrew is living with the Weasleys as their pet?"
"Yes," answered Sirius, reaching into his tattered Azkaban-issued clothes and removing a very familiar looking cut out. He unfolded it and Harry swallowed as he reread the headline: Boy-Who-Lived and friends uncover famed Chamber of Secrets—youngest Weasley girl dies in encounter.
The picture of the Weasley family was from their trip to Egypt the previous summer, and the last time they were all together. On Ron's shoulder was a rat, missing a single finger on its left claw.
"How do you know that's him and not just another rat?" questioned Harry, logically.
"Peter cut off his finger before he transformed and blew the street up. It was the perfect set-up, ensuring that they wouldn't look any further for him except for the single piece that remained," noted a bitter Sirius, his grey eyes dull as he recounted the day. "No matter what, it's going to be nearly impossible to clear my name. Or get Peter."
"Will your Headmaster not help?" asked Hornsby, turning to Harry. "You seem to be on excellent speaking terms, from our previous discussions."
Harry shrugged. "Maybe. I wouldn't put too much into it, though. He's the Chief Warlock on the Wizengamot, and that means he can push for a trial but only with new evidence. Otherwise he believes that Sirius is as guilty as sin."
Hornsby sighed. "That does pose quite the problem… and with Pettigrew able to become a rat, he can secret himself in small hideaways and escape the notice of most. You'd be best to set a trap."
"No guarantees though," argued Harry with a resigned sigh. "I could probably raise an alarm with some friends, but others wouldn't be told. I can trust Cedric and Theo completely, but Hermione's too trusting still in authority, and Nate, Gorman, and the other Hufflepuff's would probably go running to a professor, like they did last year."
"Had they not, Henry, you and your friends would've remained in that chamber indefinitely," chided Hornsby.
Harry flushed in chastisement, acknowledging the rebuke. He ignored Sirius's curious glance at his godson, as he hadn't heard the full story yet. Harry was almost afraid to tell his godfather about the Chamber of Secrets.
"Cedric…? Theo?" the man in question asked instead.
"Cedric Diggory," explained Harry, "one of my good friends, and Theodore Nott, a fellow Slytherin."
Sirius's expression shuttered briefly, but then opened again. "Diggory, eh? I remember Amos. Good man—and Nott, did you say?" He paused here, politely looking for something to say about Theo's family.
Harry took pity on him and gave a tiny, but not forced, laughed. "Yeah, I already know. His father's a likely Voldemort supporter but Theo's damn prickly about it. Can't stand his old man."
"Oh?" asked Hornsby, engaging the conversation back into a three-way discussion.
Harry nodded. "Same kind of home life, I reckon. Hates his father something fierce, though—and he's wicked fast on his feet with excellent reflexes."
The two men shared a similar expression as it flashed across their faces—but they both remained stubbornly silent on the matter of Theodore Nott, Junior. Instead, the conversation drifted back towards a makeshift plan to capture Peter Pettigrew, which revolved around Harry keeping his eyes open for a four-fingered rat.
It was a poorly conceived plan and had as many holes as Swiss cheese, and at the end of the long discussion, none of the three were entirely satisfied—but it was something to work on.
Hornsby generously offered a spare bedroom, sequestered off in a tiny area of the church, for Sirius to use while he recovered from his incarceration in Azkaban. The vicar did suggest that for the next week months he and Sirius speak about the prison and his experiences as a form of therapy. Sirius grudgingly accepted, and Hornsby left Harry in the kitchen to show Sirius the room.
When the vicar returned, he eyed Harry and then asked, "Does Edgar know about your meetings with Sirius, Henry?"
"I thought not." The vicar sighed and settled back in his chair, steadily regarding the eldest Potter. "Why haven't you told him? Doesn't he deserve to know that his father's best friend is an innocent man? Or that he's your godfather?"
Harry's lips quirked up at the corner. "I don't think you'd believe me if I told you why I was keeping Sirius a secret."
"Try me," implored the vicar.
Harry swirled the dregs of his hot chocolate, and while looking into the brownish liquid, confessed. "When I lured Sirius away from me the first night we met, I was ready to do anything in my power to stop him from hurting Eddy. Anything. I was planning to commit murder and figure out a way to dispose of the body when Sirius asked the right question and got me thinking."
Harry looked up at the vicar, who passed no judgment and let the young teen speak. "What kind of person does that make me? That I'm capable of succumbing to this… dark desire, a need, to do whatever is necessary to stop someone from hurting my baby brother.
"And it's not just about protecting him," continued Harry, the words rushing out faster and faster from his mouth, almost tripping over them in his haste to speak his mind, "Although that's what I do. Everything I do is to protect Eddy and take care of him and make sure he's happy. It was the fact that I recognised the same thing in Sirius that I have. He was going to kill Pettigrew without a second thought if it meant stopping him from hurting Eddy and I again."
Harry took a deep breath, his hands trembling against his mug. "Does that make me a bad person, to want to keep this part of me hidden from Eddy? That I don't want him touched by the same impulses I have?"
Hornsby was silent for some time after Harry spoke, quite clearly thinking and weighing his words carefully before he spoke. "I don't think you are a bad person, Henry. I think it's admirable that you will do so much for Edgar. However, I do believe that he is his own person and is more than capable of handling some of the situations that you encounter. There is a quiet strength to be found in Edgar that I think you overlook because you are so used to protecting him that you fail to realise he is your brother. He is a Potter; he can take care of himself. Eventually, he will grow up and learn to stand on his own. You can only protect him for so long before he will resent you for your protection and interference."
Harry was pale-faced as Hornsby spoke, but respected the man enough to tell him the truth straight-out.
"That being said," the man continued, "I do believe you also spend so much time in focusing on Edgar that you fail to see to your own needs. Take some time to do what Henry wants, what Henry cares about. Everything else will fall into place."
"But this destiny that the Sorting Hat spoke about?" queried Harry, whispering. "That I have a role to play in things to come?"
Hornsby's blue eyes shifted into something harder. "Then you'd best start worrying about yourself, Henry. If destiny comes to those who have no choice in the matter, wouldn't you rather be prepared?"
Yes, thought Harry, yes he would.
Harry considered Vicar Hornsby's words and began revising after he completed his summer homework. Cedric sent him some of his older third and fourth-year books for classes that Harry didn't take (which was Arthimancy and Divination), but then soon gave up on the vague art of fortune telling.
He and Edgar patched things up as best as they could and Harry did his best to let his brother see a few more of the cracks in his personality than he previously had—which meant that there were more fights between the two as Harry began voicing his own desires and decisions and Edgar slowly tried to figure out his own position in his brother's life when he wasn't the centre of attention.
As the summer began to wind down and the boys met their friends in Diagon Alley, time was running out for Harry to make a decision on Sirius and whether or not to tell Edgar about the man's innocence. On one hand, if he kept it a secret and Edgar found out months down the road, the younger Potter would blow his stack at Harry. On the other hand, if Harry and Vicar Hornsby couldn't prove Sirius's innocence, then nothing would change… but Edgar would still be upset at not being told in the first place.
Did he or didn't he? Harry hummed and hawed over the decision, but then soon put it out of his mind whenever he visited his godfather at the parish—and then suddenly in was September and he and Edgar were being picked up by the Grangers and brought to King's Cross.
Edgar went off to find Colin Creevey and Luna Lovegood (having lost his friendship with that Gareth character), and Harry settled into his compartment with Theo, and Nate, and then Hermione brought Neville Longbottom. Cedric later dropped by with Gorman, Mike and Horatio, and the opportunity was lost: Harry failed to tell his brother about Sirius's innocence.
The habit was too ingrained. Protect Edgar. Ensure his happiness. Make sure he has the food to eat, the water to drink, the books needed to study and get good grades. Make sure he doesn't know of the things I do to protect him from Dudley's gang. Make sure he doesn't know about the threats, the blackmail. Protect him.
Was he making a mistake? Harry wasn't sure; it would reveal itself in the future if he were doing the right thing or not. And if not… well… he would deal with it when it happened. Maybe he was selectively taking Vicar Hornsby's suggestions, ignoring the one he always ignored and adapting the others. Maybe he shouldn't be doing that—but when it came down to it, at the end of the day, they were Harry's mistakes to be made. He would have to deal with their consequences when they came—and they would come, he knew that elementally—and do some damage control.
Until then, though…
It was another school year at Hogwarts, and another year of carving his place out. Destiny waits for no one—and certainly not for Henry "Harry" James Potter. Not if he had anything to say about it.
Note: I'm unsure if I'll manage to have another chapter up and running before September, as that is when I'm moving to the UK (if you've seen my note in chapter 24 of Road Not Taken when my exact date was a bit... wonky). I'm pretty sure I will, but not one-hundred percent; otherwise I do have my notes right up until year four, when I'm at a block at how to proceed past it into years five, six, and beyond.
Please excuse any liberties that I've taken with Catholicism. I'm not overly religious and I'm not Catholic, so whatever I uncover is thanks to Google and Wikipedia when it comes to the CoE stuff.