So, I could give you a list of excuses for not updating, but this is what it boils down to: I got burned out on Harry Potter and had to take a lengthy break. Combine that with applying to graduate programs, senior year, and now entering graduate schools and there you go! I've been pouring through my old fics lately however, so hopefully you'll see more regular updates from now on!

Harry Potter and the Unraveling of Time

By Koinaka

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost

Chapter Nine

Aeon need not have worried about the Dark Lord's reaction as he was not in residence when he returned to Malfoy Manor. Nor was Lucius, for that matter. The only people still remaining in the manor was Narcissa, who was decidedly subdued, and Severus, who did nothing but flit about making disparaging remarks about a multitude of things, most of which Aeon could not change or help as well as plying him with potion after potion in case the witch in charge of the Infirmary was not up to par.

"And do not, for the love of Merlin, drink a single potion made by Horace Slughorn. I must admit that he was, once upon a time, one of the better Potion Masters in Britain, but time has dulled his senses. Now, he is nothing but an insipid sycophant," Severus had ranted at length. "In fact, steer clear of him altogether lest he be tempted—and I daresay he will—to attempt to collect you. He is quite fond of gathering the crème de la crème of the Wizarding world around him. The appearance of a mysterious Black with a talent in Divination, I fear, may send him over the edge."

Aeon listened and vowed, repeatedly, to avoid Horace Slughorn at all costs. He wanted to draw as little attention to himself as possible—something that was beginning to look more and more unlikely as he found himself on the front of the Daily Prophet the day after his appointment as the Divination Professor.

The headline read as follows:


Beneath the large letters was a photograph of him looking wide-eyed and frightened. It was not until he noticed where the photograph was taken that he realized exactly who was responsible for the article. His eyes narrowed before flitting through the article at lightning speed. It was, for the most part, completely ridiculous though there were several facts that were actually true—such as the fact that he was the son Alphard Black and an unknown witch as well as the fact that he had been appointed to the position of Professor of Divination. The other things, however, held no truth whatsoever especially the headline proclaiming him to be the Black Heir. If he was, no one had seen fit to inform him.

That didn't seem to matter at all as he learned the moment he stepped foot into Diagon Alley later that same day. He found himself swarmed with people when he entered The Leaky Caldron. It was not until Tom, the barkeep, sent out sparks from his wand that Aeon was able to safely make his way through the small pub and into the alley proper.

Eyes followed him as he made his way down the alley to the large, imposing building that was the Wizarding bank, Gringotts. His first order of business was to open a vault of his own. He had, in his pocket, the moneybag that never seemed to empty which he discovered when he attempted to empty it this morning only to find the bag miraculously full again. He didn't feel safe carrying around such an obscene amount of money, but he would be damned if he would allow Lucius or the Dark Lord to spend another Knut on him.

"That will not be necessary," the goblin at the counter told him curtly.

Aeon blinked owlishly. "Not necessary?" he parroted back. "Whyever not?"

The goblin's lips thinned. "You've already a vault, Mr. Black. Vault Number 397."

Aeon's eyes narrowed as he eyed the goblin, who was in the process of pushing an ancient looking key across the countertop towards him, shrewdly. "And just who, might I ask, set up this vault?"

"I'm afraid we are unable to divulge the name of your benefactor. Gringott's considers the privacy of the clients to be of utmost importance," the goblin said before addressing the witch in line behind Aeon.

Aeon, for his part, slipped the key into his pocket and stalked from the bank practically radiating with rage. He was so lost in rage that he did not even notice when another wizard nearly ran him down.

"Sorry mate," the wizard said before stopping.

Aeon would have paid him no attention and continued on his way to Twilfit & Tattings had the wizard not grabbed a hold of his arm.

"I beg your pardon," Aeon said, finally, coming to himself and wrenching his arm away only to stop short at the sight of the man in question. Staring at him, with a look somewhere between hope and horror, was a man that looked eerily like himself. That was not what caused Aeon to stop short. It was the torrential wave of emotions that crashed into him—love, anger, sadness, regret all whipped through him in the moment that their eyes met.

"Merlin," the other man breathed. "Regulus?"

Stunned, Aeon shook his head. "N-no," he managed to say after a moment. Then, clearing his head with a shake, he continued. "Aeon Black, and you are?"

The other man's eyes widened almost comically. "I know who you are now! You're that bloke in the Daily Prophet, aren't you? Uncle Alfie's kid or something like that, aren't you?"

"Yes. Quite," Aeon replied tersely. It was all he could do to not reach out and touch the wizard in front of him, if only to ensure that what he was seeing was truly right in front of him. Never, since the moment he awoke at Malfoy Manor, had he felt such strong emotion.

The wizard grinned, obviously pleased. "Name's Sirius. We're cousins. Once removed or some such rot," he quipped, extending his hand for Aeon to shake.

Aeon stared at it blankly before finally grasping it softly.

"Say, are you busy? I wouldn't ask only I'm terribly late to meet my best mate for a drink. I don't think he'd mind if you came with."

Aeon had a plethora of things to do, including purchasing an entire wardrobe, choosing a textbook, not to mention furnishings for his chambers. He really ought to part ways with this Sirius Black, despite his apparent relation and the emotions the other wizard caused him to feel. When he opened his mouth to decline the invitation, however, he found himself saying just the opposite.

"Not busy at all."

If the appearance of Sirius Black caused a wave of emotion to crash into him, it was nothing compared to the emotions he experienced at the appearance of Sirius's friend, James Potter. His breath caught in his throat, and he felt as if his heart was breaking.

Sirius and James exchanged worried looks at Aeon's odd behavior. He had nearly stumbled over nothing in an effort to get away from James Potter when the man shook his hand.

"You alright there, mate?" Sirius asked.

Aeon blinked rapidly against the tears welling up in his eyes. "Yes," he said, his voice unsteady. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Yes."

He sat down awkwardly across from the two friends. An uncomfortable silence lapsed over them interrupted only by the buxom waitress bringing over three goblets of warm butter beer.

All of sudden, a million questions flitted through his head. With Lucius and the others at Malfoy Manor, he had had to watch his every single word. In the beginning, he'd asked questions, yes, but for the most part they had gone unanswered. Now, though, now he was quite certain should he ask these two virtual strangers one of his many questions not only would they answer, but they would tell them the truth. He could trust them. He knew that without a shadow of a doubt—knew it deep within him.

"You've both read the article in the Prophet, then?" he asked the two wizards.

They both nodded eagerly. "Yeah, threw me for a right loop," Sirius said.

James agreed straight away. "Never even knew Cousin Alfie had a kid."

At Aeon's confused look he continued. "My mum's a Black, you know. They're cousins. Quite close, too, until he died that is."

Aeon chewed on his lower lip for a moment. "I don't think he knew," he said finally though he had no idea whether the man knew or not.

Sirus's eyes widened once more, and he leaned over the table. "It's true what they're saying then? That you were the victim of some dark spell that affected your memory?" he asked, curiosity radiating through his voice and every line in his body.

Aeon looked from James to Sirius before finally shaking his head. "No, they're quite wrong. I was never attacked. At least that I know of," he added thoughtfully. He chewed on his already abused lower lip. "Well, that's not true. Severus says I must have been attacked at some point because of the residual dark magic he found. That's not why I've lost my memories, though."

He paused taking in their reactions. James looked thoughtful whereas Sirius's curiosity had intensified two-fold. That was until he made a nasty face, his nose scrunched up as if he smelled something particularly foul.

"Severus? Oh, please tell me you don't mean ol' Snivellus Snape?"

Aeon's eyes narrowed. "And if I do? I'll have you know that Severus has saved my life no less than twice, so I suggest you think carefully about how you answer that question."

James tugged urgently on Sirius's shirt sleeve. "Come off it, Padfoot," he said, quietly, his eyes still set on Aeon.

"Come off what, Prongs? Sure, if it's the Dark Arts that were bothering you, I bet he was able to help you. Ol' Snivelly knew more about the Dark Arts before he even stepped foot on Hogwarts ground than most wizards ever know. I expect by now he's a Death Eater licking ol' Voldemort's boots, don't you?"

"That is quite enough," Aeon said, more than a bit breathlessly, as he rose to his feet, his wand clutched tightly in his hand. He and Severus may have butted heads on several occasions, but Severus was near the only person he could count on.

And look what you did to him, his mind said nastily.

He ignored that thought and concentrated on the scene in front of him. "Thank you for the drink, Black," he said stiffly before turning to leave.

He was halfway through the throng of fellow customers when he heard James shout, "Wait!"

He halted only briefly when he saw James making his way through the crowd towards him.

"Yes?" Aeon asked, his voice quite cool now.

"You've got to ignore Sirius. Half of what he says is utter rubbish. He and Snape never got on in school. Not that that excuses it, but…" he trailed off helplessly. "Look, my mum's been going spare since she saw the article this morning. Cousin Alfie was the only member of the Black family she could stand 'cept Sirius, you know. She was planning on sending you an owl only she wasn't quite sure where you were staying."

"With the Malfoys," Aeon told him at once. "Until Saturday, that is."

James nodded but his expression darkened ever so slightly. "Come to tea tomorrow," he said. "Mum'd love to meet you." He paused. "She knows loads about Alfie since they were thick as thieves growing up. She could tell you about if, if you wanted."

"I—yes," Aeon said.

A bright smile broke over James's face. "Great!" he exclaimed, pressing a piece of parchment into Aeon's hand. "See you then."

"See you," Aeon echoed weakly as James disappeared into the crowd.

He stood there for a moment, his mind reeling, before finally tucking the parchment into his pocket and leaving the pub. Unbidden he felt a smile come to his face and, for the first time in a long while, felt something akin to hope.