A/N: I'm currently re-working this story. This means that the next few chapters will have some new material, some edited material, and some scenes you've seen before in this story (if you read the first draft). Thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing, it really makes my day!
Monday, 23 September
Hedwig was almost certain that Harry was trying to drive her insane.
You did WHAT?
Um. It was for the Form Revealing Potion. You did say I could work on it! Harry looked away, playing with his sneaker laces rather nervously.
Do not be flippant with me, young man! Hedwig abandoned her perch and flew over to land beside Harry on the bed. You know I would not have approved of you going into the Forbidden Forest for any reason! And on a full moon! Good heavens, are you a Ravenclaw or aren't you? You know about werewolves! But you went there anyways, and without telling me!
You don't tell me everything, Harry grumbled, crossing his arms petulantly.
I'm an adult, Hedwig snapped back. And you are a child. I do not have to tell you everything, nor should I! I am trying to keep you safe, but you are constantly putting yourself in danger!
Harry flushed, and looked up at her guiltily.
I do not want to lose you, Hedwig told him passionately. I love you, owlet.
His heart leapt in his chest at those words. Nobody had ever told him that before Hedwig. Now he felt horrible for causing her worry.
I'm sorry, Harry said regretfully. I won't go in the Forest again, I swear.
Thank you, Hedwig sighed. She climbed up onto his leg, and Harry wrapped his arms about her in a hug. She cooed soothingly in his ear, rubbing her face against his.
The potion's off to a good start, Harry said hopefully. Thank you for telling me about the Room of Requirement. Everyone was really impressed that I found it.
You're welcome, Hedwig said fondly. I'm glad you had a place to begin brewing.
Harry pulled back from the hug and began to gently stroke her feathers. Hedwig, I was wondering, he began casually. Did you know about the three headed dog in the school?
Hedwig snapped her head around to stare at him. Harry, tell me you did not go into there!
I didn't! Harry rushed to explain. On our way back from the forest, Filch almost caught us. We accidentally split up, and Blaise, Terry, Susan and Hannah ended up in the room with the dog. They weren't hurt, since it was asleep. When they met us afterwards they told us about it.
Hedwig breathed a sigh of relief. I'm glad it wasn't you. But really! No more wandering around after dark.
Why is it in the school? Harry asked her. It's protecting something, right?
Yes. Dumbledore put it there as a precaution against anyone who wants…
You can tell me, Harry pleaded.
Harry, you've barely begun your occlumency. Until you can defend your mind, I'm not telling you anymore.
He flushed - he'd totally forgotten about continuing to practice his mental shielding, since he'd become busy with school, and with his friends. I want to be able to help, Harry told her.
I know, and that's admirable, but I don't want to involve you if I don't have to, Hedwig said firmly. I needed your help with getting Pettigrew, but taking down Voldemort is a job for someone else. I need you to trust me, Harry.
I do, Harry promised. Are Remus and Sirius going to be able to take him down?
They'll have some help, Hedwig added. And yes, I'm certain they'll be able to contain him. Before Halloween, actually.
She had told Harry about Quirrell's possession, wanting to put him on his guard around the man. But she was not going to let Harry face him in combat. Hedwig remembered the aftermath of Harry's first year. He'd been protected from Quirrell's physical touch because of his mother's protection, but he'd also been forced to kill Quirrell in order to save himself. Hedwig had been the only one with him that summer, when Harry cried himself silently to sleep, remembering that terrible moment. She never wanted him to go through that again.
They lapsed into a comfortable silence before Harry spoke again.
I found an enchanted mirror tonight, he began to tell her.
Panic suddenly flooded her system. She remembered what Harry was like in the weeks after he found the Mirror of Erised. He would sneak out under his Cloak every night, staying out until near dawn, staring, lost, at his parents. Hedwig had been helpless to stop him.
Harry, promise me you won't return to the Mirror!
You know about it? Harry was surprised. You know about everything, Hedwig!
Promise me, Harry?
I promise, Harry sighed. Hedwig's feathers settled back down as she calmed slightly.
Do you want to talk about what you saw?
You were there, Hedwig. So was Sirius, and Remus… And my mom and dad. There was a sense of sheer wonder in his voice. My mom was so beautiful. And my dad looked just like me!
Have you ever seen a photo of them? Hedwig asked.
No, Harry shook his head. I wish I had one.
I will ask Remus, I'm sure he has one – or a few, Hedwig promised.
Harry grinned at that. He pulled back the covers and climbed underneath.
What did the others see?
Harry explained Hermione, Neville and Ron's visions to her. He yawned a few times during the telling of the tale.
Sleep now, nestling, Hedwig told him softly. Harry smiled, and let his eyes close. Hedwig hummed in her mind, soothing him into sleep.
When his hand fell from her feathers to lay palm-up on the bed, Hedwig smiled and left him. It was their nightly ritual, putting Harry to bed. She'd only missed it a few times while out on errands in the past few weeks.
The owl pushed through the bed's curtains, grabbed a treat from the desk, then flew out the open window. As she soared around the castle, Hedwig marveled to herself at the changes in Harry.
Her bond with him had grown so strong in such a short time! The first time around, they hadn't been able to share thoughts until Harry was seventeen, and then it wasn't nearly as easy. That Harry, though she loved him dearly, wasn't very trusting, and had trouble opening his mind to her. It had been Hermione who discovered the Saharan mushrooms that allowed them to communicate telepathically with ease, even over great distances. The magical North African fungus allowed short-term speech with others as well. Hedwig had been utilizing that to converse with Remus and Sirius about their plans to protect Harry.
Hedwig had been feeling rather restless as of late. She had finished racking her mind of all the important future events and sharing them with Remus, who had made many thorough lists of the things she told him… The lists of the horcruxes, a longer list of all the Death Eaters she could recall – and various other thoughts about possible dangers to Harry. But now that she'd entrusted her information to her wizard friends, Hedwig wasn't sure what she could do to further their plans.
The owl knew that she needed to find a purpose, something to occupy herself. After traveling back in time to change the world, returning to her past life as an ordinary post owl seemed frightfully dull.
Tuesday, 24 September 1991
Remus woke slowly, in a pool of sunlight. He pushed himself up, wincing at the familiar ache all over his body. First he examined his hands, then the rest of his body… He was shocked when he realized he couldn't find a single new cut or bitemark.
He turned at the sound of Sirius' voice. Sirius was walking into the clearing, carrying a pile of clothes. He tossed Remus his wand, which he caught without a thought.
"What happened, Padfoot?" Remus demanded, his eyes frantically checking over the other man's body for signs of injury. Remembering suddenly that Sirius had stayed with him as he transformed – not in a warded shed, but loose in a forest, Remus feared that he might have hurt him…
"We ran around all night," Sirius said cheerfully as he approached and tossed Remus' folded stack of clothes to him.
Remus caught them, startled as he remembered his own nakedness. Blushing, he hurried to pull on pants, and was relieved to note that Sirius was pointedly staring out into the trees.
"Did I hurt anyone?"
"Just a rabbit or two," Sirius grinned. "Not me, yourself, or anyone else."
Remus' heart thudded in amazement. "Thank you," he whispered. "I haven't… I haven't woken up uninjured in years."
"That's because you punish yourself by locking yourself away," came the soft answer. "You don't have to do that anymore. We can run free again, just like we used to."
Remus couldn't help but smile. He was exhausted and his body hurt from the physical change, but the wolf hadn't torn him apart in the night.
"You kept it at bay," he said softly. "And kept me safe. Thank you, Padfoot."
"I won't miss another one," Sirius said strongly. "That I promise."
Wednesday, 25 September
"Have I told you yet how much I hate this plan?"
"You know we'd have to go in eventually, Sirius."
"But now?" He scowled, crossing his arms over his chest like a petulant teenager.
"I'm fairly sure your family home would have some of the things we need," Remus said logically. "If you are serious about adopting Harry?"
"I'm always serious," his friend joked. "But especially about that," he added in a softer tone.
They climbed the steps, and Sirius stopped at the door to turn and look Remus in the eye.
"Stay behind me," Sirius commanded.
"I'm more than capable of taking care of myself -"
"I don't know what curses and traps are about this place," Sirius shook his head. "Or if there's some that might be lethal to werewolves. Funny, really – mother was as dark as they come, but she did hate 'dark creatures'."
"I'll be careful." Remus swore.
"You're still weak from the full moon -"
"And you're still weak from Azkaban," Remus countered.
Sirius glowered at him. While it was true that Sirius wasn't in the same shape he was before prison, he'd started to fill out in the last few weeks, thanks to his daily regimen of nutrition potions and Remus' plain but filling cooking. The nightmares still woke him every night, but he hadn't questioned this reality in a while. He was coming to terms with where he was, and doing his best to heal from what had happened to him.
"Together, then," Remus told him, and Sirius' face softened as he nodded.
Sirius raised his wand and tapped it to the door of Number 12, Grimmauld Place. They both heard the sound of many locks unclicking in response to his magic, and finally the grating of a chain lifting. With a final metallic click, the door swung open in front of them.
Taking a quick breath, Sirius stepped into the darkness, lighting his wand to illuminate the house. They were standing in a long, gloomy hallway. The wallpaper was peeling, the chandelier overhead covered in cobwebs, and Remus sniffed in displeasure as the carpets smelled strongly of mildew.
"What is that?" Came a confused voice from a portrait down the hall.
"Who's there?" Another shouted.
Sirius' expression was grim as he strode forward to look at the portraits. Oh, he remembered them from his childhood. Every one of them had hated him, telling him what a disappointment he was to his parents and to the entire House of Black.
"Hello, Aunt Elladora," Sirius said, showing his teeth as he smiled.
The woman gasped, jerking back in her portrait. "You're supposed to be in Azkaban!"
"I got out," Sirius said ominously.
"Leave this house at once!" The portrait of a man with a ridiculous goatee bellowed at him, swelling up pompously.
"That's no way to talk to the new Lord Black," Sirius said, his grin increasingly sharklike. "Since I can choose who stays and who goes… And which portraits go in the fire."
That stunned them into silence for a moment.
"You're the new Lord," Elladora Black's portrait realized, horrified.
"Bingo!" Sirius strolled past the portraits, who were now gasping and beginning to complain rather loudly. He peered into the drawing room, which was dark and filthy as well. "Maybe I should just burn this whole place down," he mused.
There was a snapping sound behind them, and Remus and Sirius whirled around to see that an ordinary set of moth-eaten velvet curtains had flown open – to reveal a portrait of an old woman in a black cap.
Remus drew back in revulsion – her skin was yellowed, her eyes wide and mad, and
"You!" She shrieked, staring at Sirius.
"Me," Sirius said grimly, looking at the full-sized portrait with utter hatred in his eyes. "Remus, meet my mother. Mother, Remus."
"What are you doing here?" Walburga Black demanded.
"This is mine now," Sirius told her with a smirk. "All of it - the house, the fortune… Everything you never wanted me to have."
"You filthy, muggle-loving wretch!" Walburga screamed, her cheeks purpling with rage. "I should have drowned you at birth!"
"Missed opportunities," Sirius said sarcastically, his face hardening. "I won't miss mine."
He seized his wand and cast the strongest cutting curse he could at the portrait. But the red light simply melted against it, with no effect. Walburga laughed at him mockingly. Growling, Sirius tried a fire charm next, but the flames licked at the oil and vanished in moments.
"You'll never get rid of me, boy!" Walburga howled madly. "I'll drive you out of this house! You're not fit to be Lord, not fit to be a Black!"
Abandoning the idea of destroying it, Sirius tried stunning, then silencing her – but both spells proved useless.
"Begone, blood traitor!" His mother shrieked. "Shame of my flesh!"
"Shut up you old hag!" Sirius bellowed, turning to Remus. "Do something!"
Realizing that the canvas itself was strongly protected, Remus tried banishing it from the wall.
"Why won't it work?" Sirius demanded as he tried the same thing.
"Permanent sticking charm," Remus realized with a diagnostic charm. "It's locked on the wall."
"Then I'll take down the damn wall!" Sirius roared, a blasting curse on his lips -
"No, Padfoot!" Remus caught his wrist and yanked his arm down. "You know you can't destroy the structures inside a magically enchanted home! The whole house could come down around us. The curtains – here."
Together, they began to close the curtains around the portrait, trying to at least muffle the screaming.
"Kreacher!" Walburga wailed, and there was a popping sound behind them that distracted them from their task.
Sirius had drawn his wand, which was now in the face of a small, elderly house elf. Kreacher stared up at him in shock.
"Cast him out!" Walburga shrieked to the elf. "Get rid of this filth!"
"You'll do no such thing," Sirius said powerfully, not taking his wand out of the elf's face. "Hello, Kreacher. You know who I am, don't you?"
The elf's features seemed to vibrate with barely hidden rage. "M – Master Black."
"You have to do what I say, don't you?"
Kreacher nodded, still glaring hatefully at him.
"Get this painting off the wall."
"Kreacher cannot," the house elf muttered. "Enchantments are too strong for elf magic to break."
Sirius scoffed, not believing him. He seized the curtains again, and with Remus' yelp, yanked them closed, then cast a sticking spell to keep them there. His mother's voice was muffled now, and Sirius walked away, into the drawing room.
"Home sweet home," he said bitterly.
"Hello Kreacher," Remus said, in an effort to be polite. The house elf just glared at him.
"Probably a filthy mudblood," Kreacher muttered loudly. Sirius whirled on him furiously, wand pointing at the elf.
"Shut your mouth," he ordered angrily. "Then you're going to bring me something. A locket that Regulus left here…"
Kreacher shook as he tried to resist the order. "Kreacher does not know what Master means…"
"A gold locket!" Sirius snapped. "Bring it to me."
The elf looked scared, Remus realized. The magic of his bond to the house and the Black family made him need to obey Sirius, but he clearly didn't want to.
"Kreacher," Remus told him calmly. "We know that Regulus was killed trying to stop He-who-must-not-be-Named. He wanted the locket destroyed, didn't he?"
Kreacher nodded miserably.
"We will get rid of it," Remus swore to the elf. "We want the same thing that Regulus did."
Tears welled up in Kreacher's eyes. He popped out of sight. Sirius nodded, surprised that Remus' actions had worked.
"A little kindness can go a lot further than aggression," Remus chided him gently.
"Yeah, yeah," Sirius said grumpily, but he couldn't help but smile a bit.
Kreacher popped back into sight. He was holding a dirty cloth in his hand, inside there was a gleam of gold…
"Thank you, Kreacher," Remus said kindly, taking the bundled item from him. He unwrapped the locket and stared at it for a moment.
Sirius looked, fighting back a shiver at the sight of it. This was a shard of Voldemort's soul.
"Was Master Regulus' final instruction," Kreacher said, sounding miserable. "Destroy the locket. Kreacher tried, yes he did, but the magic within is so strong…"
"We'll destroy it," Sirius told him, surprising himself at the tone of reassurance. "We'll find a way."
"The sword's out of reach," Remus reminded him quietly. "And I'm not expert with Fiendfyre."
"I know the curse," Sirius said quietly. "My father taught it to me… But I never cast it before. I don't know that I could control it."
"The furnace," Kreacher squeaked. "Can contain Fiendfyre."
Sirius was startled by the elf's helpfulness. Kreacher led them down to the basement, and led them to the Black's old potions laboratory. Everything was covered in dust and cobwebs, just like the living room had been.
"You haven't cleaned a bit," Sirius noted with a frown.
Kreacher grumbled quietly.
"This is the furnace?" Remus interrupted, pointing at the black stove in the corner. Kreacher nodded.
"Leave us," Sirius barked. "Go… clean the kitchen."
Kreacher grimaced and vanished.
"Damn it, Padfoot," Remus said tiredly. "You two were almost getting along."
Sirius' face twisted in rage, reminding Remus uncomfortably of his mother's screaming portrait. "That elf helped make my life miserable for sixteen years. He always hated me, so I hated him as well. But he loved Regulus – everyone did."
He stomped over to the furnace and opened it. Remus began casting diagnostic spells. It had very strong enchantments and wards over it, to contain what was within.
"These wards are very strong," Remus said thoughtfully. "And Kreacher loves this house, he has no reason to want it destroyed by Fiendfyre. I don't think he was lying."
"Right then. Stand back." Sirius grabbed the locket from the floor and threw it inside.
Remus got to his feet and backed away, wand at the ready. Sirius held his wand steady and began the incantation. Flames roared into being inside the furnace – Remus flicked his wand and the door slammed shut.
The horcrux wailed in fury, but it was no match for the Fiendfyre. Soon its screams died down, and Remus and Sirius watched the furnace. It seemed to contain the magical fire, though the black metal was glowing faintly red.
"Will the flames die down?"
"Not on their own," Sirius said grimly.
The counter spell to vanish the flames was longer, and took a lot out of him. The fire crackled one last time and died. Sirius took a shaky breath, his body slumping with relief – and magical exhaustion.
"One down," Remus said quietly, resting a hand on Sirius' shoulder.
"Let's get out of here," Sirius said plaintively. "I hate this place."
Thursday, 26 September
"I miss you guys," Padma sighed as she slipped into the space between Hermione and Blaise. "I never get to eat with you anymore."
"Brand is crazy like that," Blaise said, shrugging.
Indeed, Captain Jarena Brand had been making Padma, Cho, and Roger sit together for two meals a day since they'd made the team.
"I expect the three of you to learn how to silently communicate," Jarena had told them sternly. "You're not my Chasers… You're my Chaser. One entity! A cohesive unit! Do not talk to each other. Use motions, eye contact and facial expressions if you need to pass dishes to and from one another. When I feel you've gotten the hang of this, then I'll knock you down to one meal a day. Dismissed!"
Their Quidditch captain always sat near them, seemingly psychically able to sense when they were about to break her rules and try to whisper to one another.
"No talking!" Jarena roared at Cho that very breakfast.
The Ravenclaws around them looked highly amused, and also sympathetic for the three new Chasers.
"You're getting better though," Hermione said encouragingly.
"Thanks," Padma smiled. "I think I'm actually getting to know Cho and Roger now, you know? Even without saying much. Jarena's going to test us tomorrow on our 'silent communication skills' - and you know, I think we're ready."
"Good!" Terry chuckled. "We miss you too, Padma."
Hermione slipped an arm around her friend and hugged her.
"I'm going to check out the mirror before class," Terry said. "Anyone want to come?"
Blaise nodded in answer, and they both looked to Padma, who was the only one left to look.
"I'm not going," Padma declared.
"Desires change over time," Padma said thoughtfully. "I don't want to get trapped trying to achieve one thing that a mirror directs me to, because I might actually want something else in the future. I'd like to figure myself out without the help of a mirror."
"That's very reasonable," Hermione sounded impressed.
Neville dropped them off at the room, but declined to go inside with them. Terry and Blaise went in, and Terry took the first look.
In the mirror, he looked older. He was wearing a simple outfit without robes, and was on a balcony with a great view behind him. Terry was working on a painting. Then he turned the canvas so Terry could see it. It was a picture of waves, crashing against a rocky shoreline. Terry leaned closer, entranced by the image. A hand touched his shoulder, and Terry started. In the mirror, his reflection turned with a warm smile to look at the intruder…
Blaise carefully pulled Terry back from the mirror. He looked over the blond boy curiously, wondering what he had seen.
"I'm not surprised," Terry said softly. "I already knew I want to be an artist. Your turn, then."
He stepped aside for Blaise, who took a deep breath before looking into the mirror. Terry was stunned as a look of absolute devastation crossed the other boy's face. Blaise reached out to touch the mirror, stroking the reflective glass longingly.
Blaise shuddered, then his head lifted as he looked at something in the top of the mirror. A terrible smile grew on his face, showing hate and rage and triumph all at once.
When Terry reached out to touch his shoulder, Blaise whirled around fiercely.
"Blaise?" Terry asked cautiously.
The young Slytherin took a quick breath.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Terry asked softly.
Blaise didn't reply. He shrugged off Terry's hand, then marched out of the room, that same angry, victorious expression on his face.
"What are you reading about?"
Susan looked up from her book at Hannah, every line of her face tight. "Cerberi.
"Oh," Hannah shuddered as she sat down beside her, her voice lowering to a murmur so nobody else in the Common Room could hear her. "I wish we hadn't gone in there. That was the scariest creature I've ever seen."
"I don't understand how it's allowed to be here," Susan said worriedly.
"Are we sure it is?" Hannah wondered.
Susan stared at her friend, then began to nod fervently. "Obviously, Dumbledore put it there since he warned us all away from it, but what if the Ministry doesn't know?"
"You could ask your Aunt Susan."
"Oh, I will. If anyone can figure this out, it'll be her. I bet Auntie can get that creature out of the school before it hurts anyone."
Once you finish reading this letter, you will be brought to Number 12 Grimmauld Place, London, where we will be able to do the ritual. See you any second, Harry!
Hedwig clamped her beak around the parchment just in time. Harry's eyes widened as the portkey activated. He held on tight to the letter, and felt like he was being squished in a vacuum. When he could breathe again, he gasped, wincing as his stomach turned, and looked around.
He was sitting on the carpet of a dimly lit living room. Near him was a crackling fire, and above it, a mantel full of… Harry hoped they were just animal skulls.
Hedwig, what is this place? Harry asked nervously.
This is the Black family home, where Sirius grew up, Hedwig informed him.
He turned to see Sirius hurrying through the doorway from the kitchen. When his godfather caught him in a hug, Harry carefully hugged back. Sirius pulled back at last, grinning at him.
"Is this where we're going to live?" Harry asked nervously.
"Oh no!" Sirius said immediately, surprised at the question. "No, I hate this place. I have another house that you'll like much better. We're just using it for now since it has the things we need."
That was a relief, Harry thought. Sirius grabbed his hand and led him through a doorway into a large but shabby kitchen, then into a pantry and down a set of stairs.
"Hello, Harry," Remus said warmly as they arrived.
"Hi, Remus." Harry waved, then stared, distracted by something nearby. "Um, why is there a dungeon here?"
"My family used it to keep and torture muggles," Sirius said frankly.
"They were the worst sort of wizards," Sirius said darkly. "Which is why I ran away to live with your dad and grandparents when I was sixteen. I never thought I'd be back… But I inherited it, and it has some of the things we need."
"What exactly are we doing?" Harry asked.
"I'll let Remus explain," Sirius said ruefully.
Harry and Hedwig listened as Remus explained the blood adoption ritual to them. It did involve actual blood-letting, but he was assured that it wouldn't take much.
Are you sure you're ready? Hedwig checked in with him.
"Okay," Harry said quietly, but certain. "I'm ready."
Hedwig fluttered off to a chair to watch, while Sirius took Harry's hand and stepped into the runic circle Remus had set up. There was a stone pedestal between them, topped by a grey stone bowl.
Harry was quiet as they began the ritual, Sirius slowly chanting as he sprinkled prepared ingredients into the stone bowl – some dried herbs, followed by a smooth black stone, and an odd. Then at last Sirius drew out the gleaming ritual dagger, and Harry gulped nervously.
Just a small cut, Hedwig reassured him. It'll be done soon, nestling.
Sirius smiled at him as he dropped Harry's hand, then took the knife and cut into his own palm. Harry took the knife nervously, then cut into his left palm. He managed to bite his lip to keep from crying out loud – that hurt.
Harry imitated Sirius by moving his cut hand over the bowl and letting blood drip out. The blood sizzled as it splashed over the black stone, and Harry's eyes widened as the stone began to melt.
Sirius took his hand, his bleeding cut pressed to Harry's. He hated the wince of pain in his boy's eyes, but he knew this had to be done. This was to protect Harry.
"Bonded in blood, so mote it be," Sirius intoned.
"So mote it be," Harry echoed. Then he gasped, as his cut stung like it was burned. His hand tried to jerk away instinctively, but Sirius held it tight.
Then he reached down and picked up a silver ladle, mixing the concoction before scooping some up and putting it to Harry's lips. The boy grimaced, but sipped from it. It tasted of blood and spice, and left his mouth feeling it was on fire. Sirius similarly took a sip.
"Bonded in body," Sirius continued fiercely. "So mote it be."
Again Harry repeated him, though there was obvious pain in his voice. Sirius dipped a fingertip in the mixture, and drew a rune on his forehead, right over Harry's scar. Then he bent down so Harry could draw the same thing on him.
"Bonded in spirit," he concluded. "So mote it be."
"So mote it be," Harry gasped.
A powerful wave of magic burst through them where their hands were joined, where the blood rune had been drawn – then a terrible pain sprang up in Harry's scar, and he began to scream. Harry fell to the floor, hands clutching his forehead, overwhelmed with blinding agony.
"Harry!" Sirius bellowed, terrified.
Remus leapt forward, crying, "This shouldn't be happening…"
And Hedwig let out a terrified hoot. Harry!
He could hear them shouting, but the pain was too much. Harry's body shuddered, and then his world went blissfully dark.