Another Chapter (Yay!) I have begun the process of editing earlier chapters. Most of the changes are not major (Fixing the spelling of Titania Lestrange, making sure that I have Tracey's last name constant.) But there are two slightly more important changes. I noticed in an earlier chapter (first or second) that the Dark Lord had ordered mothers with babies and small children to a safe-house. This would have included Bellatrix Lestrange. Yet I had her in jail when she would not have left the safe-house because her twins were still too young to leave by themselves. So I fixed that. I also fixed Lily's interactions with her mother and Susannah's (Lily's birth mother) interactions after Lily's death.
And before you argue, Bellatrix might have been fanatical, but she followed orders. Having children and staying at the safe-house were two direct orders by the Dark Lord. So she would have followed them.
As always, Read, Review, Enjoy.
Ginerva Weasley smiled darkly as she looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was by no means finished with the treatments to purge herself of Weasley traits, but with the Dark Lord's help she was moving along much faster than before.
Without the glamour, her hair was growing to be a nice ice-blonde. Not white blonde like Malfoy, but very light with a gilded hue. Her eyes were a deep purple color and her face was delicate yet refined. She had the Black cheekbones, but the rest of her delicate features came from her previously recessed family genes. Overall she was very pleased that she would be a welcomed member of society once her Lord rose and she could drop the ruse of being Ginny Weasley.
She even had come up with the perfect name. Nothing untoward for a first name, elegant and classic just like she was, but her middle name was perfection. It was absolutely prefect to go with her Lord.
When she finished her assignment, and it was safe for Ginny Weasley to die, Victoria Azraiel Yaxley would be born, and she would destroy anyone who dared defy the one who had liberated her from the mundane existence as the seventh child of poor blood traitors. She smiled wider, revealing perfect pearly white teeth peeking from slightly pouty lips.
A rustling sound indicated that her 'roommates' were getting ready to enter the bath. Victoria re-applied her glamour and quickly finished her morning routine.
Severus Snape stepped out of the floo at Malfoy Manor dressed impeccably. His customary black teaching robes had been discarded for cotton dark grey ones of the finest quality. He sighed as he brushed stray soot from his robes and went to announce his arrival. He was permanently keyed into the wards of the manor, and even had a room in the guest wing dedicated as his. When staying at Hogwarts became too much, or he needed closer proximity to proper civilization than Spinner's End provided, he often stayed and enjoyed the gift of his own Potions lab the family had given him when he agreed to be Draco's godfather.
However this was not a social call. McGonagall had come up to him again with her concerns over young Ginny Weasley, indicating to him that the young girl had not spoken out loud since her ordeal in the Chamber below Hogwarts. She was clearly torn between helping her through whatever her problems were as a Gryffindor and conceding that maybe her sorting had been a mistake and she belonged in Slytherin. Snape knew why Minerva mentioned Slytherin and not Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. Ginerva was not loyal enough or friendly enough for the house of Helga, nor was she intensely inquisitive enough for Rowena's house. Her quiet, brooding nature would fit in with his snakes. Minerva also reported that the girl had made no attempt even after her attack to make friends within her house, and continued to ignore her brothers. The girl barely spoke to her mother when she came to the hospital wing, instead pretending to sleep whenever Molly Weasley came near her.
That, plus the fact that whenever Weasley was near him his Dark Mark tingled put urgency to his steps. Croaker had instructed him to watch Ginny carefully for signs of possession and the like. So Snape made an appointment with Lucius, who was in the best position to petition for Ginny's re-sorting.
Lucius was in his office, working on paperwork when Snape approached.
"Enter. Ah Severus, how good to see you again." Lucius replied from behind his desk.
"And you, Lucius." Snape drawled. It was a bad habit he acquired from spending time around the elder Malfoy, one that he had broken himself of except when he was in the company of said elder Malfoy.
"You tell me this is not a social call." Lucius indicated the chair across the desk and Snape folded himself into it elegantly.
"The matter concerns a young pureblood girl, a first year, who found this year exceedingly difficult. She was sorted into Gryffindor and wishes to change to a different house. The Headmaster has repeatedly refused her pleas and she refuses to wear the house uniform. Minerva is very concerned about her health and mental wellbeing."
Lucius nodded. "As well you told me in your letter. What is her name, if I may ask?"
Severus nodded. "Ginny Weasley."
Lucius smiled one of those devious smiles that indicated he was plotting. "Of course. She was probably sorted based on her family traits, which the hat is known to do in cases of legacy. Andromeda was most certainly more of a Ravenclaw, but she was sorted Slytherin. I will bring it up to the Board of Governors, and will personally push for her immediate re-sorting once the fall term begins again. The headmaster probably has his reasons for wanting her to be a Gryffindor. He is not known for making the best decisions as of late…" Lucius trailed off.
Severus nodded. "There is something strange about the girl. Perhaps the Headmaster is afraid she might be the 'black sheep' of the family and will go dark."
Lucius shook his head. "From what I can gather, she has already gone dark."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
Lucius nodded. "I received a letter from the young Rosier girl. She asked for assistance in gaining additional funds beyond her trust vault, and asked for several rare books of questionable content. When I asked her who they were for, she indicated that a 'snake in lion's clothing' needed assistance shedding her mane. Also, because I am the trustee of the Yaxley accounts I received a letter from Gringotts indicating that a 'new' heir had been discovered and that 'accommodations' should be made from her. The only other possible descendants are from the Weasley family, even though they were cut out from the family tree when Lysandra's daughter married that Weasley."
Severus paled. "Do you think that Ginny Weasley found a way to re-activate her Yaxley blood and wishes to become a Yaxley instead?"
Lucius nodded. "Yes. She would have direct claim. She might wait until she has passed her O. to reveal herself, but by all indications she has probably already done the ritual through Gringotts to claim her heritage."
"What of Hadrian?" Severus queried.
Lucius shook his head. "He will be of no consequence. He may even agree to be her 'guardian' of sorts."
Severus nodded. Yaxley had been injured by Aurors and rendered unable to have children. His fugitive status meant that Lucius was in charge of the accounts in the eyes of the law, being the closest living relative listed in the Ministry records.
"Have you informed him yet?" Severus queried.
"No. He is still in Albania. He will be informed when it is appropriate to do so."
"Ah. Very well then. I must get back. I fear that my prolonged absence from Hogwarts may be noticed by Dumbledore, and he would be most displeased to know the purpose of my visit here, although I do not doubt that he will soon know, since Minerva and I will both have to sign a statement if Miss Weasley's appeal is successful."
Lucius nodded. "Of course. Do stop by again once the term is over. Narcissa's family is planning a rather large party for Cassi's twins. They are to go to Beauxbatons since Cassi is set against them attending Hogwarts as Drusilla does. They start the new term in the summer, so the fete is scheduled for early July. I suspect it will be on the Island."
Severus understood. It was customary for pureblood families in Britain to send the oldest child to Hogwarts, to gain associates and refresh the family name within the school, but younger children often went elsewhere. Young Orion Black might yet attend Hogwarts, being the first legitimate Black male heir of the generation. Tristan and Draco represented the Lestranges and Malfoys although they were also of Black blood. In this he was surprised that Bellatrix permitted her twins, Titania and Miranda to attend Hogwarts, but he supposed it was their close association with Draco that won her over.
"I will strive to be in attendance. Good day, Lucius."
Lucius nodded. "Good day, Severus. We should chat again soon, and I will let you know how the petition goes."
With that Severus Snape rose and exited the office, making his way back to the Floo, and then back to his office, where a stack of final papers awaited his special touch.
A man woke up at 12 Grimmuald Place quite confused. He looked around him, and saw a well-used bedroom filled with Gryffindor materials. Next to his nightstand stood two empty vials and a milky blue one with the simple note 'Drink Me'.
The man, with no idea who he was and no better inclination than to do as instructed, did so.
A blinding pain shot through his head, like his skull was on fire. The pain was so great that he passed out, only to awake hours later with an elderly blonde witch standing over his bed. He opened his stormy grey eyes and looked at the mystery woman with interest.
"Who are you?" he managed to whisper through the lingering pain.
"Who I am matters not. It is likely that this is the last time you will see me, at any rate. What is more important to me, however, is if you know who you are?"
The man blinked, having no clue as to his identity. Then suddenly flashes of images assaulted his mind, threatening to give him another searing headache and he remembered.
"Sirius." The man frowned for a second. "Sirius Orion Black." The man jumped up suddenly looking around panicked. "Where is he? Where is that filthy rat?" He looked up accusingly at the witch. "What have you done with him?"
The witch shook her head. "You have already taken care of him. News should come soon. You need to rest and let your mind catch up. A nurse and a mind-healer will be by to check your progress. My colleague will come by later this week to brief you on what has happened in the years since your arrest."
Sirius blinked again. "Arrest? Years?" Then his mind caught up, remembering chasing Peter Pettigrew down a dark alleyway, then out into a crowded muggle street, where Peter set of an explosion before vanishing, leaving only a finger behind. He remembered the Aurors coming after him in the aftermath and arresting him. He remembered thinking that he needed to contact the family solicitor, or at least his distant cousin Ursula. He remembered…
"Harry! Oh Merlin Harry!"
The witch shook her head. "He is safe, and once everything has fallen into place a meeting will be arranged between his guardians and yourself."
More memories caught up to Sirius and he sighed. "Cassiopeia and her husband Orion. Right. Ok." Then, as more fog cleared from Sirius' brain he looked at the witch again.
"You're an Unspeakabe, aren't you?"
The woman nodded once. "I am. Great care was taken to prevent you going to Azkaban. Now that Peter has been captured we can break the charm preventing people from remembering your existence."
Sirius sighed. "That's all well and good, but I was just in lock-up. I would have gotten a trial and everything would have been cleared up. Dumbledore was the bonder of the Fidelius. He knew I was not the secret-keeper." Another memory flittered to the surface. Dumbledore refused to answer his floo call the night he got arrested.
The witch shook her head sadly. "We got wind that they were planning on transferring you to Azkaban after the next guard change, with the first shipment of confirmed Death Eaters arrested that night. You were not on the docket for a trial, and all further floo call requests you made were to be denied."
Sirius thought about the implications. "So I would have been sent to Azkaban without a trial. Moreover, I could not even have contacted my family members or a solicitor to petition for one on my behalf?"
The witch nodded. "It was highly unusual. That entire period was unusual, but every other witch or wizard arrested from early September to mid March had been given the right to a trial with witnesses on their behalf. We interceded, only planning on keeping you for a few hours. But then a Seer we have on staff had a vision involving you, and it became imperative that we protect you from Azkaban. Your sanity and ability to move about freely in public needed to be preserved."
Sirius sighed. "What would have happened, if I had gone to Azkaban?"
The witch looked sad. "You would have spent the past eleven or twelve years in jail, labeled as the Dark Lord's right hand man, betrayer of the Potters and murderer of twelve muggles and Peter Pettigrew. You would use your dog form to eventually escape, motivated to hunt Pettigrew down after seeing him in his rat form in the Daily Prophet. Unfortunately for you, you would only be heard mentioning that 'he's at Hogwarts', and the general populace would believe that you were after Harry to finish the job you started in 1981."
"You would eventually get close to Hogwarts, but your damaged mind and blood thirst for revenge would simply put the school in a wider panic. You would catch Peter, but circumstances would lead to his escape, and without Peter nobody would believe the tale of an escaped convict and a werewolf. You would escape being kissed by Dementors, but forced to remain a prisoner in your own home until your death two years later. Your death would be caused primarily by your continued confinement from society in combination with the damage done by years in Azkaban. Peter would continue to escape justice until a life-debt he earned caused his death."
Sirius nodded. "But surely I could have gotten help from elsewhere? Right?"
The witch shook her head. "As in your time in 1981, the Ministry of that time was blind and refused to admit that they could have sent a man to jail without a trial, or even without questioning him under the law. The Minister at that time would eventually order you Kissed Upon Capture, preventing you from trying to obtain any justice for yourself."
Sirius looked down, lost in thought. He then looked back up. "So, what now? Why was I spared, not that I am ungrateful."
"The Seer saw a future, dark and bleak, our world destroyed by the least likely source. You are the key to making sure that this does not happen. You remaining sane will keep the balance through to the New Age."
Sirius blinked. "Me? Why me?"
The witch shook her head again. "I cannot tell you any more. There are dark times ahead, Sirius Black. Rest. Recover your memories. You have already done so much for us. Think about what I have told you about the past and about the future you could have had. Then think about your loyalties. That is all I can say. What are you most loyal to? Who are you most loyal to, and what are you willing to do for them?"
Sirius looked down again. He caught a glimpse of the Gryffindor crest on his bed linens. "James. There's no telling what kind of person I would have become if it wasn't for James. Andi was gone, Bellatrix was married to a Death Eater, Narcissa was married to a Death Eater, and my brother was a Death Eater. Without my friendship with James… I could have easily fallen to the pressure to join up. I joined the Order because of James. Dumbledore protected me while I was in school, but it was James' friendship that kept me on the path. He's gone now…"
Sirius felt the grief of losing his best friend anew.
The witch spoke once more. "You have options. A word of advice, if I may, Mr. Black: you are not a fresh-faced Auror just out of Hogwarts. Your Gryffindorish tendencies might have served you well before, but those same tendencies almost got you a lifetime sentence in Azkaban for a crime you did not commit."
"I must leave now. My associate will be by later. Until then I suggest you rest."
The woman then vanished on the spot, leaving Sirius to contemplate everything she had told him.
Peter Pettigrew Discovered!
What had started off as a normal day for Amelia Bones turned into a frenzy when the previously assumed dead Peter Pettigrew showed up in Amelia Bones' office, bound in anti-animagus chains and stunned.
"I was having a meeting with my lead Auror, Kingsley, when he just appeared!" Madam Bones reported.
Pettigrew is being held in a secure, undisclosed location to be questioned by the Ministry. Already the hunt for Sirius Black has begun.
"We have paperwork that says that Sirius Black was arrested and ready to be transferred to Azkaban, but no record of any questioning or trial being held. Either he was released or escaped custody. We cannot be certain. The paperwork filed in his case is inadequate and would have been thrown out of open court, anyway. Why he was on a list to be transferred to Azkaban with such circumstantial evidence and no record of questioning or a signed confession is beyond my understanding. I was in St. Mungos during the incident, and the Head of the DMLE was still investigating the Potter residence. Pettigrew's appearance calls any paperwork we have on Sirius Black's involvement in the death of those twelve muggles into question, and clearly he cannot be charged for the death of a man who is very clearly still alive." Madam Bones spoke. "I cannot speak further on the matter until we have questioned Pettigrew and gotten to the bottom of where he has been these past twelve years."
In a signed statement, Minister Fudge acknowledged that in the interest of justice they would investigate the incident to their fullest extent.
"I stand completely behind Madam Bones in her investigation of this troubling new development."
Former Auror Alastor Moody commented, "Black tried to get me to talk to him. I wish I had listened." Moody further went on to comment on Sirius Black's short career as an Auror. "He showed great promise, him and James both. It does my old heart good to know that he didn't kill that Pettigrew boy."
Headmaster at Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore was unavailable for comment.
Charity K., Staff Reporter
The full Wizengamot sat, robes finely pressed and every seat filled. Peter Pettigrew had been duly questioned and deemed culpable in the deaths of twelve muggles, and also instrumental in the deaths of James and Lily Potter. He would not be questioned in the matter of other Death Eaters, but he would be tried by the full Wizengamot and sentenced accordingly.
Chief Solicitor Meadows rose from her seat after the court had been called to order. The Aurors prepared Pettigrew for questioning, and after the potion took hold Meadows began her interrogation.
"Please state your name for the Court."
"Peter Alan Pettigrew."
"Please state your vitals."
"August 29st 1960, entered Hogwarts and was sorted Gryffindor. Six OWLS, four NEWTS."
"Thank You. Were you involved in the attack on the Potters on October 31, 1981."
"How were you involved?"
"I told of their location to the Dark Lord, and accompanied him to the house. I lent support to the team of Ward Breakers and then activated the port-key that allowed us to escape once the wards fell."
"How did you learn of their location?"
"James asked me to be his secret-keeper, since Sirius would be too obvious, and was already at risk since he was related to suspected Death Eaters and an Auror. He was also a member of the Order of the Phoenix, as was I."
"Can you elaborate what a secret-keeper is?"
"It depends on the strength of the charm. James and Lily were hiding their house from detection on Dumbledore's suggestion. Only people who knew the secret would know how to locate their house. It was a gradual process, since James had business he wanted to take care of. Neither James nor Lily left the house much that summer, but Sirius, Remus and I visited often, bringing news and presents for Harry. Once the charm reached full strength the location was wiped from everybody's mind except for Dumbledore, who cast the charm, and myself, as secret-keeper. If anything was to happen to me, Dumbledore could reveal the house to anybody he deemed appropriate as secret-keeper."
"Are there stronger charms, that you know of?"
"OBJECTION! Heresay!" Public Defender Timmons jumped up.
"Mr. Pettigrew indicated that the strength of the charm was key. I am simply trying to find out more information about the protections given Mr. Pettigrews' involvement in the case."
"Proceed." The lead judge granted permission.
"Please answer, Mr. Pettigrew."
"There may have been, but I was keyed into any additional wards and so they would have been irrelevant anyway."
"Thank you. When did you join He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"
"June of 1979."
There was a gasp from the gallows, but the courtroom remained silent otherwise.
"The Ward Breakers, were they fellow Death Eaters?"
"No. They were simply strong witches or wizards under Imperius. They were Obliviated and set free as soon as we returned to base."
"Why did He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named target the Potters himself?"
"James Potter refused to join his ranks, and there was a Prophecy. I don't know the contents. It simply became my duty to help hunt down the Potters and turn them over to the Dark Lord. It had to do with Harry."
"When were you given this assignment?"
"October of 1980."
"Why did you delay?"
"James and Lily did not key me back into the wards until March of 1981. I was able to visit, but not remember the location of the house afterward. It was a very dangerous time. They still traveled, and James still worked for the Order, so we often met at the safe-house rather than his home. At the time they were still considering moving out of Britain entirely."
"How did you convince them to key you into the wards?"
"I convinced James that I was not the spy giving away Order secrets."
"Discuss the events that occurred just after that night."
"Once the wards fell I knew that an alarm had gone off informing Albus Dumbledore and Sirius that they fell. I knew that perhaps Albus would not hunt me down immediately, but that Sirius also knew that I was the secret-keeper. He would hunt me down, and he knew my animagus form. I tried to blend in with the crowds celebrating the Dark Lord's demise, but he tracked me down. I did not want to go to jail, so I lured him out into the open and cast an overpowered Reducto on the street, dropping a muggle explosive right beforehand. I then cut off my right finger and turned into a rat while there was still smoke for cover. I made it seem like he was the one who fired first. He did, but it was simply a stunner. I waited for the most muggles to be near me, shouting at him, so that I could get as many in one shot as possible. I was aiming for twenty but then he caught up to me and fired his first shot, which I dodged and it hit a window nearby."
The defense mounted a small case devoid of witnesses and simply pointing to the circumstantial testimony as evidence.
After a short conference the judge came back.
"Peter Pettigrew, your testimony has been taken, and we have reached a verdict. Your conduct and cowardice is shameful and disgusting. You were too cowardly to pick a side and stick to it, and you caused your friends to place faith in you when they should have cast you from their midst.
Therefore, in accordance to law, we find the following:
In Conspiracy to Murder in the person of James Potter, Guilty
In the matter of assisting in the murder of James Potter, Guilty
In Conspiracy to Murder in the person of Lily Potter, Guilty
In the matter of assisting in the murder of Lily Potter, Guilty
In Conspiracy to Attempted Murder in the person of Harry Potter, Guilty
In the matter of assisting in the attempted murder of Harry Potter, Guilty
With regards to twelve counts of murder of non-magical humans, Guilty
In conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child, Guilty
On the count of defrauding a member of a Most Ancient an Noble House, Guilty
On the count of conspiring to falsely imprison a member of a Most Ancient and Noble House, Guilty
On the count of causing documents to be forged by dishonesty or withholding vital information, Guilty
On the count of being an illegal animagus, Guilty
On the count of knowledge of or participation in the casting of an Unforgivable: Guilty.
On the count of first-degree property damage and vandalism: Guilty.
And finally, on the count of being a marked Death Eater without leave: Guilty.
You have enough charges here to sentence you to the Kiss, but because death by removal of your soul would be too merciful, you are henceforth sentenced to Life in Azkaban. You will spend the remainder of your days in a cell guarded by dementors on the highest security block. Your cell will be in one of the uppermost turrets, and your cell shall be fitted with anti-animagus charms. You will not be eligible for parole, you will not be eligible for visitations, and any property you own shall be divided among the estates of Harry Potter and Sirius Black as compensation for your actions in assisting the murderer of James and Lily Potter, then attempting to frame Sirius Black for your crimes. If at any point this body wishes to question you further about the activities leading up to October 31, 1981, this body shall reserve the right to do so as long as you remain alive."
Peter tried to protest, but was stunned and carted away from the courtroom for immediate transfer to Azkaban. A team had spent the better part of the past two days outfitting the cell to specifications, increasing the wards around the cell so that not even a gnat could get in or out without setting off alarms around the whole island.
Sirius walked around his house, noticing the vast improvements that had occurred since he was here last. Wormtail's trial had been wonderful poetic justice, as somebody had sent along a memory of the whole thing, in addition to a three-page spread in the Daily Prophet. His hearing was set for the following week, and then he would be a free man.
Croaker had informed him that, to avoid any confusion, he had lived here as an agent for the Unspeakables. He was slightly nervous, since his mother was returning today after living with Aunt Dorea for the past twelve years.
"Sirius?" He heard his name called, informing him that his mother had indeed arrived.
"Mother?" Sirius went to the foyer where his mother stood next to bags, which Kreacher then took to her room, which he had spent the better part of the previous day getting ready for his mother's arrival.
"Sirius." Walburga walked up to him and looked him in the eye. "It's good to have you back." She said simply, and walked off to the room where the family tapestry was held.
Curious, Sirius followed her, and watched as his mother stared at the area where she had blasted off several names from the tapestry. She sighed, and he watched a lone tear make progress down her face.
"Return." She said simply, and pointed at Sirius' former spot on the tapestry. A gold thread exited her wand and Sirius watched as his picture returned to the tapestry. He felt a warm sensation flow through his body, and his mother turned her wand onto another blank spot on the tapestry below Andi's name.
"Invite, Return, Restore." She whispered, and a new portrait and name appeared.
Sirius vaguely remembered a bouncing toddler, Andi's daughter. He looked at his mother, the question in his eyes.
"While you were gone Nymphadora came to the family renouncing her parents and asking to be welcomed into the family. Her request was granted. She dropped her father's name and became a Black. She's living in France now, getting a Mastery in Charms, Transfiguration and Potions, I believe."
Sirius walked over and examined the tapestry. He saw the addition of many new names. Violetta Fitzgerald to Andrew Fitzgerald filled in under Aunt Cassiopeia's name, and underneath Cassiopeia Fitzgerald Black to Orion Aries Black. Underneath those he saw Drusilla Black, Ophelia and Cordelia Black next, and Orion Aries Black II. Underneath Narcissa's name was the name Draco Malfoy, and underneath Bellatrix's name were Tristian Lestrange, and then Titania and Miranda Lestrange.
"Family's been busy since you've been gone." His mother commented.
Sirius looked back and saw his mother standing there, looking better than she had the last time he had seen her. Granted, they had just had a fantastic row and Sirius was in the middle of packing up to leave and live with James, but still.
"I'm glad I got to see you with my own eyes again Sirius. I'm glad you are back here in the house." She then moved and did something she hadn't done since before Sirius went off to Hogwarts and got sorted into Gryffindor.
She gave Sirius a hug. Surprised at first, Sirius hugged her back.
"You must forgive an old lady her indulgence. I know we did not see eye to eye when you were younger, and I certainly made my share of mistakes regarding you, but I have come to learn in my old age that family is the most important thing. I've been told by a reliable source that you finished up your rites when you turned 17."
Sirius nodded. He had not done the darker rites of his family, but James' parents still maintained the older traditions, and insisted that both of them take final rites. He had not celebrated any of the holidays since, but that was to be expected, since there had been such a division that last year at Hogwarts, and then all hell had broken loose soon after graduation.
Walburga continued. "You disappointed me, Sirius. Not because you did not join the Dark Lord, but because you threw everything we ever taught you in our faces the night you left. We didn't get mad when you were sorted Gryffindor, but to act like you were too good for this family…"
Sirius looked at his mother. "Death Eaters, Mother. I could not stand around while they tortured innocents! All that dark magic… It was wrong then and it still is!"
Walburga shook her head. "You don't understand. You never did. It's not about the 'dark magic' as you call it. It's about family loyalty… People have married into this family from supposed 'light' families, and you have at least three great aunts who married into 'light' families. But they stayed loyal to the family. They stayed firm with tradition."
Walburga paused. "I don't know when you became so afraid of magic. Or so disbelieving of our customs. At any rate, I hope that for your sake and Harry's you actually do the research we set you when you were a child, finding out WHY we insist on keeping customs and ignoring the laws of MAN when it comes to magic. After all, the laws of man will come and go, but Magic has always been and always will be. It would do you good when you cease to be blinded by the ramblings of an old half-blood. "
Sirius looked at his mother as if she had two heads. "Half-blood?"
Walburga sneered at her eldest son. "You mean you didn't know that Dumbledore is a half-blood? An old one, but a half-blood none the less. You forget that Madam Bagshot is an old family friend, and went to school three years under Albus, in the same year as his brother Aberforth."
Sirius shook his head. "That doesn't matter! He's still a very powerful wizard! It just proves you lot wrong with your theories of blood bigotry!"
Walburga continued to sneer. "Albus Dumbledore is over a hundred years old, and was an apprentice to Nicholas Flamel. He simply has more practice with magic than most wizards alive. But enough of that and back to you, Sirius. Cassiopeia and Orion have proven that they intend on raising Harry properly, in true Black family tradition. I doubt that you would be allowed anywhere near him, godfather or not, unless you prove yourself worthy in the eyes of the family."
Sirius scowled. "James and Lily would NEVER have agreed to it! They would be rolling over in their graves if they knew Harry was growing up a dark wizard!"
Walburga frowned at that. "Indeed, or so you think. You know James as your friend, and Lily as his wife. Did you even see the paperwork they sent to Cassi before they died with the instructions they gave on how to raise him?" At Sirius' blank look she nodded.
"They left instructions that Harry be taught all 'age appropriate material' the family deemed acceptable, and grow up able to form his own conclusions about right and wrong. Not a single mention of 'dark magic' in the whole document! Harry was to be raised just as they raised their own children. James Potter knew what he was getting into by allowing the House of Black custody of Harry. He knew that they were traditionalists. James even left Harry his Family Lineage book, and used blood magic to seal Harry's inheritance trunks."
His mother moved in for the kill. "I advise you to find out what, and who it is you really stand for, Sirius. Because wasn't Dumbledore just as ready to fight for your freedom the night you got arrested? He visited you at the Ministry and assured you that the 'misunderstanding' as to your role in the Pettigrew's death would be cleared up, and that he would make sure you got all the rights accorded to you, didn't he? After all, he did as much for that Snape boy you used to always complain about."
Sirius looked down. He couldn't look his mother in the eye.
"Ursula was in the Ministry the night you got arrested, Sirius, trying to find out what happened to Harry. She heard the order go down restricting your floo access and the order that would have had you immediately transferred to Azkaban. Then you vanished, and a taboo was put on your name, making everybody forget you existed. She heard the other Aurors laughing when Albus Dumbledore refused to answer your floo calls. THAT is the man you followed so blindly into battle, forsaking the family that would have supported you with the best legal representation money could by to fight those charges, Sirius. That is who you turned to in your hour of need, only to be denied."
Sirius sighed. He wanted to fight, to protest, but if Ursula knew that Dumbledore had refused his floo calls, then the whole family knew, and he could not pretend it was an 'honest mistake' and that Dumbledore was just too busy for him.
Walburga smirked. "Did you know that Albus was IN the Ministry that night? He was there when you were brought into custody. He had to have been aware that you were being held. He could have stopped by your cell to talk to you in person. But he didn't. And now the trial of Peter Pettigrew is over. He has yet to try and reach out to you, to find out how you're doing, how Pettigrew's courtroom confessions are affecting you and all that stuff that a mentor does for his charge."
That caused Sirius to be even more miserable. Albus had abandoned him, and stood up for Snivelus Snape in open court.
"But how will studying the dark Rites and such help me now, Mother? I was never interested in them like Bellatrix or Narcissa."
"You are fighting what you are Sirius. Fighting your very blood and the magic within your body in this vain attempt to defy me. Do yourself a favor, Sirius. Remember that you are no longer a rebellious teenager fighting against his parents. Learn what your magic really is all about."
Sirius was speechless. He spent most of his life fighting becoming anything like his family. But what did he really know about Dumbledore, either? His mother seemed to think that he wasn't cut out to be a 'light' wizard. And the words of that mysterious woman still echoed in his head. At the very least, he didn't have anything else to do, since it was advised that he stay indoors until after the trial.
Walburga saw the continued battle in her son's demeanor. "Open your mind, Sirius. Not everything is as black and white as you might have learned in Gryffindor. It can't be. Magic would not allow such an abomination to exist. Even now she protests the perversion of her gift. Can you no longer hear her song? Can you no longer feel the ambient magic flowing around you? Has your time with Dumbledore blinded you to the magic around you?"
Sirius paused. "Faintly."
Walburga smiled a slightly crazed smile. "She sings for her lost soul, Sirius. She sings for the New Era, the restoration of balance to her purpose! She sings for you."
Sirius closed his eyes and attempted to 'feel' the magic around him as he had been taught as a young child. He opened his eyes when he couldn't. The house was full of magic, that much he knew, and he remembered the comforting whisper of magic from his youth, but silence was his reward now. Sirius looked down.
"I can't hear her anymore, Mother."
"You will. You will remember the face of your fathers. I would like to rest now. Have Kreacher summon me for dinner, I will take luncheon and tea in my rooms."
"Yes, Mother." Sirius spared another look at his mother and went off to the Black Library, leaving his mother in the drawing room.
After the door closed behind Sirius Walburga looked into an empty corner of the room. "My performance was adequate, I assume?"
The corner shimmered, revealing Crow.
Crow nodded. "You planted the seed. Our department has placed top priority on the proper training of Harry Potter, and your son could undo all of our years of work with a few careless words. It is imperative that events proceed as intended. My associate indicates that the mists tell her that we have much more work to do to avoid the Doomsday scenario. I trust you can keep your involvement to yourself, Madam Black?"
Walburga nodded. "Regulus is safe, I assume?"
Crow nodded. "He is. He will continue to remain hidden, but circumstances might allow a visit with him once his current assignment is complete. You cannot tell anyone that he is alive."
Walburga waved a hand to the family tapestry, revealing that it reflected Regulus' death date. "I have complied so far, I have no reason to go back on my word now. "
Crow nodded again. "When he came to us he was near death, but his continued survival is imperative to our current purpose. Besides, he provided a wealth of information gathered prior to his 'disappearance'."
Walburga sighed. "He was working for you, even back then?"
Crow raised an eyebrow. "Is that surprising, Madam Black? He was marked rather young. Our department needed a reliable source of information, and he provided it to us. Just as Obsidian provided information about Dumbledore's group once he was permitted entry. We may primarily work in research, but we are much more than that." Crow suddenly looked quite serious. "When you permitted our use of your house, you were told certain things, correct?"
Walburga nodded. "The balance of Magic was off, and your Seer predicted that certain events led to the eventual destruction of our kind. She can see into different worlds, and knew that we would not survive if the path remained unaltered. She indicated that certain sacrifices must be made, but that our descendants would have a future, and that our way of life would be preserved. That was enough for me." Walburga looked off to where Sirius had gone.
Crow waited, but when it looked like Madam Black was finished speaking, he spoke.
"We are not Dark, nor are we Light. We are the guardians of Magic, and as such we must protect it at all cost. I have my role, Regulus has his role, and Sirius has his role. We all have roles to play, but Harry Potter is the key. Through the mist our Seer has told us that in other worlds, we did not do enough to utilize Harry Potter until it was too late. We have intervened early enough, but vigilance is needed to ensure that he does not fall."
"Neutral. He must remain neutral?"
Crow shook his head. "I am not saying that. In fact, it is likely that the opposite is true. But he must remain balanced. He must remain in touch with Magic. In other worlds he was cut off from Magic's true purpose for him, becoming a shadow of who he could have been. He survived in some worlds, died in others, but it is not his survival, nor the survival of any children that he may have that is at issue. In other worlds he represented either the epitome of Light magic, or the ultimate Dark Lord. He can be neither."
Walburga sighed. "He is being raised by my family, immersed in Dark rituals, despising muggles and mudbloods."
Crow nodded. "But he knows family, a true family, and not a perversion. He knows love, he knows priority, he knows duty. Some may be sacrificed. But as Sirius' sanity was important to our mission, so is Harry's upbringing in a stable home with adults he can trust. In order to save him from either fate, he must be a complete wizard. Only then will he be able to lead us into the New Age."
Walburga thought about the dark haired boy with emerald eyes. "Is he really that powerful? That important?"
Crow simply replied. "Yes. Darkness and Light battled over him. They will do so again. He is a true Child of Magic. They are rare, but they have come before. But now the stars have aligned. The time is at hand."
Walburga looked at Crow.
"Tell your fellows good luck, and may Merlin guide them."
"Until next time, Madam Black."
Walburga watched as Crow left, vanishing on the spot. Her own time was short, but that elderly blonde woman who had appeared on her doorstep when she was pregnant with Sirius had made her purpose clear.
"You will bear a son, who will betray everything you stand for. But he will gain knowledge that will become invaluable. When the time comes, welcome him with open arms. He will leave, and return. He will straddle the line between your world and that of the Light. Certain things must happen, and they will break your heart. But the stars are aligning, Walburga Black, and your son shines bright among them."
Time is like a pond. The smallest drop can cause the biggest wave. Keeping Helena Potter alive long enough for Arcturus Black to include Lily and James Potter in the Black Family dealings was such a drop. It changed not only the life of Harry Potter, but also the lives of everybody he was destined to interact with. Planting a suggestion in the mind of Lucius Malfoy was another drop, ensuring the stability of many families that would have otherwise died out.
Shining Star reflected on all that had been done in the name of Magic. She looked up at the heavens, reading them much like the Bane and the other Centaurs did. A downpour was coming, and after Magic cleansed herself, the New Age would dawn.
A/N. Hope you enjoyed. Our friends will return in the next chapter, I promise. Plus, with Peter's confessions, what will happen to Dumbledore?
A/N (2) - If there are major mistakes, PM me about them and I will fix them. I wanted to get this posted, and so I might have missed a few things. Later Days!