BACK TO ME
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Kuroshitsuji or its characters, but this story is mine /evil grin/.
Summary: He was tortured by the Dark side. The Light side betrayed him. Now he's back, but not alone. Watch out, Wizarding World, because two butlers from Hell are pissed.
Shout Out: Right-oh. My beta is still out of commission, so I am publishing UNBETA-ED version, which will be replaced with beta-ed one when the next chapter will be out, as to avoid the confusion caused by the replacement, as I found out that when I replace the chapter with it's beta-ed one, the false notices about next chapter are sent around. Inconvenient, but true, and I really left you lot without next chapter long enough. As it is, I managed to successfully do the National Exam (phew), and I am now gearing to get the thesis in order. Also, the plotdragons are very alive, meaning the next chapter of Among The Hawks And Doves, will be out somewhere around the Spring Break, if my beta catches a break from the college work from hell, and if not, well, then it will be another chapter punted out in the wilderness of fanfiction jungle without it's claws having been sharpened properly. /shrugs/. As it is, I also put out some of my other works in a preview mode on a Blogger under the name of PlotdragonsAnonymous - so for any die-hard follower out there who isn't really sure that I am alive, here you go. There you will find the previews of the chapters, some of my works, who aren't up on the FF_net yet, and so on. A hint: Fate/Stay Night (Zero) trial crossover is also holed up here and I am really curious would you think about Gilgamesh in his feathery glory. Yipes, rambled too much. Let's move on.
Warnings: Showdown between Antares and the old fool. Whoops?
Things aren't the way they were before
You wouldn't even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me in the end
("In The End", by Linkin Park)
Really, it was only a matter of time. They had been preparing for that moment almost half a year, but that didn't mean he wasn't any sicker with anticipation than before. All this... ruse, elaborate as it had been, was exclusively for getting his revenge.
He should have forgiven them and left them in their misery, while he would have moved up and about in the Muggle world, but it simply wasn't in his nature to do so. Call him masochistic, call him heartless, but he knew, if he had been offered the deal again, he wouldn't have chosen his way any differently.
"They will be here soon, Young Master," Faustus murmured to him, as he delicately poured the fragrant, rich tea in the porcelain cup.
Indeed. Antares grunted quietly, as he looked out of the window, being comfortably perched in his wing-backed chair with the blanket tucked around his hips. This was one of his worse days, regarding the injuries - he still had occasional spells, something they were better, and sometimes they were worse, but they were unpredictable in their coming.
He pondered the little… altercation in the Diagon Alley, wondering once again, if he was really going along with the plan they had concocted before. It was daring, risky and one single misstep on his part could crash everything around their very ears, and his little sacrifice would have been for naught –
Swallowing harshly, he scowled at the window fiercely. The morning was bleak, just like his mood, the gardens empty of their usual bountiful flowers and greenery, as it was already winter time upon the lands again. The bleakness was being enforced even more by the absence of the snow and the presence of the fog milling around the nooks and corners outside.
If anyone would have seen him, they would have seen a thin teenager sitting in the chair that was almost too big for him, with the downy soft gray blanket tucked across his lap, while he was dressed in crisp white shirt along with dark blue pullover and a thin black necktie. The boy's hair was dark and bound back in a ponytail, with some bangs framing his face, making a stark contrast with eye patch and the single dull green eye. His face was thin, and those pale lips were stern looking, not the ones that would laugh much. His forehead was free of the damning scar - it seemed that at least one good thing that came from contracting the two demons was that the taint was removed from him, and thus prompted vanishing the scar. Although that didn't mean much, what with all the other wounds and scars he had accumulated in his…. lucrative career of being a Wizarding World scapegoat. His neck was still bandaged and the skin here had to be treated with ointments at least twice a day. Nothing like that green-eyed, confused and too-easily trusting waif he had been through his years of schooling at Hogwarts.
He closed his eyes as he carefully lifted the small porcelain cup to his lips.
The bait had been snapped up desperately, just like they expected it would be. Even if he, as Harry, didn't know Sirius much, he knew he was desperate for a family, and with the state the Light side was in, along with the recent skirmish in Diagon Alley, Antares had presented himself as an ideal candidate to be allied to Order of the Phoenix, even if his methods came across as a little too… unforgiving for some people. And with him being a Carruthers, the Dark and Grey side were thrown in a tumult of confusion, flailing for anything concrete to hold on in a proverbial sense.
Carruthers' name may have been disgraced, but their power and prestige, even diminished as they were, were nothing to sneeze at.
He sighed with a faint disgust.
"Master? Is the tea not to your liking?" Faustus asked immediately, making the single eye turn to him. Antares shook his head. "Tea is fine. Just my thoughts bothering me. " He murmured back quietly as he leaned forward to place the cup back on the tea table. He was intercepted by white-clad hand that gently plucked the cup from his fingers.
"Everything will be alright. You did prepare for this, Young Master." Claude murmured back, his golden eyes glinting behind the square-rimmed spectacles he insisted on wearing.
"Tch." Antares scoffed. "Since when you were so very optimistic?" He asked the spider butler archly, making a small smirk appear on the man's face.
"You forgot, Young Master. Revenge is a… how shall I put it… a demon's specialty. And as much as I hate to admit it, Michaelis is quite useful in that regard." He murmured back politely as he put the cup on the tray.
"So very demure," Antares snarked back. "Maybe I should have contracted only Michaelis, then." He suppressed a smirk at the almost imperceptible tensing of the butler's shoulders. "That impulse-driven crow? I am beginning to suspect your mental health had deteriorated again if you are speaking such nonsense, Master." Claude replied back stiffly, his pride stung at the implication he was worth less than the kuroshitsuji who was currently waiting on the…. guests… to appear.
Dark eyebrow arched, but as he opened his mouth to reply, he was interrupted by Michaelis entering the room.
"Master, some people wish to have an audience with you." The crow butler almost purred out, mocha-colored eyes glinting with mischief.
Since that day when one Nymphadora Tonks practically crashed the meeting with the information that yes, one Antares Carruthers does exist and was apparently seen in Diagon Alley with two of his... bodyguards, and not only that, he had driven the Death Eaters back, the Order was in a tizzy.
Especially one Sirius Orion Black. The man was practically whining to go see his son, despite of the danger he would have found himself. The photos depicted a teen, wuth an eye patch and a cold green eye, flanked with the two men and for some reason, Sirius felt an unexplainable longing to get to know the cold child on the photo - so cold and lonely and distant from the world... just what in Merlin's name did Benny do to the lad?
He should have been a kid, like Ron and Hermione, playing and learning and attending Hoghwarts - another question, why he hadn't? - and have fun. But this child on the photo seemed more like a young lord with too soon aged eye instead of the careless teenager Sirius had been in his old days.
And it made Sirius' heart hurt.
However, that still didn't stop Dumbledore from deciding that no, Sirius won't be in the entourage, chosen to convince Antares to come to Grimmauld Place, and yes, Remus was allowed to go - which made Sirius whine and groan twice as bad, becasue c'mon, he was the lad's father and didn't that mean at least a mite bit something?
Remus tried to get out of that onerous duty, because danger or not, Sirius being banned from his son was just too cruel for the old dog. However, Dumbledore steamrolled his protests, pointing out he could at least reprensent Sirius, and really, he was the only one that knew where the Carruthers Manor resided, courtesy of Remus only to brief acquaitance with one Berenice Sistina Carruthers when he was searching for a job. Berenice had employed him for a month, before Remus felt he had been imposing on her too much, gathered his meagre belongings and one sunny autumn day vanished to who knows here.
The next in the small group was, of course, Dumbledore himself and one Alastor Moody for the safety reasons and because he had the magic eye - the Prophet was notorious for it's over-exaggerated stories, however Tonks and Kingsley both reported that the boy's... guards were not the ones to fool with, and if the worse came to worst... well, they shuddered to think about that.
The last in the ragtag group was one William Bill Weasley - a Cursebreaker, in the off-chance they would have needed his expertise. Both Ron and Hermione wanted to come along too, however the game was being played with too great of stakes for the order to allow two blundering teens to mess that particular opportunity up - Ron because of his foot-in-mouth syndrome, and Hermione - well, she was a Muggleborn and that was it. It was all to easy for her to do some sort of a faux pas what with her manners and pushy attitude, and the last thing they needed in the talks with Antares Carruthers was her nagginng. Her... acquaintance with the Potter may have pushed her past of that little habit, but since that unfortunate... accident, the said habit came back with a vengeance.
Surprisingly, they didn't have any trouble with reaching the Manor, and when Lupin pressed the bell, they were answered by a mocha-eyed butler with a polite, foxy smile on his lips.
"Carruthers' residence, how may I help you?" The man asked politely, but Remus couldn't help but feel that the man already knew them and what they were there for.
"Good morning, sir. We would like to visit Mr. Antares Carruthers, please. We have some information about his parentage he would find interesting." Dumbledore interjected smoothly, smiling his patented grandfatherly smile, including with the twinkle in his eye.
The butler's eyebrows arched minutely, and Remus got an impressing the man was silently mocking them.
'Really. Is that the best you've got?'
He restrained himself from snarling at the man - the butler was like an annoying crow, mocking and cawing and out of reach when the wolf tried to quiet it.
"And who you may be, gentlemen?" The butler asked softly, his face still implacable mast of pleasantness.
"I am Albus Dumbledore, and my companions are Remus Lupin and Mad-Eye Moody, along with one William Weasley. " Dumbledore replied politely, but Remus didn't overlook the subtle straightening of the old man's spine, as if he were trying to intimidate the stubborn butler to let them pass him and into the house. His wolf would have been flinching by the man's subtle aura, but the butler just stared at them for a moment, before nodded.
"Of course. Let me accompany you into the foyer and inform my Master of your arrival." The butler muttered, stepping back and opening the doors for them to pass through.
The four men stepped in cautiously, expecting a trap to spring at any given moment. However, the anteroom was… ordinary, or as ordinary the majestic anteroom could ever be. The building was surprisingly well preserved for being in an ownership of a Muggle - as far as they knew, Carruthers' manor didn't have any traditional defenses that would be associated with witchcraft, which made them even more uneasy that they already were. For the would be heir of Black family, to be so very unprotected…. It was preposterous!
However, if the rumors about the boy's butlers were true… then Antares didn't really need the complicated wards and whatnot to be protected.
"Any wards?" Dumbledore asked, blue eyes twinkling behind the glasses merrily. Quickly, the Curse-Breaker muttered some incantations, frowning when he got the readings back. "Some…but they had been dismantled for some time. Standard fare, as far as I can tell, but only the most basic. The Intruder Alert, and Anti-Theft one are still in use, and there are remains of Muggle-Repelling one, along with one other, but otherwise…" Bill shook his head, puzzled.
"Strange." Remus muttered, frowning. " For someone with Berenice's knowledge, I would have expected the place would have been warded till the last stone… Something isn't right here, Headmaster." He turned to the Dumbledore, eyeing him with troubled gaze. "Remus, she didn't finish her schooling," Dumbledore replied back, his gaze for once serious. "And if I remember correctly Miss Carruthers was always one responsible young lady. "
Remus snorted, " With all due respect, she was also one not to foregone cautionary procedures, and if you remember, there was also V- the Dark Lord's reign of terror lasting that time. And I seriously doubt that Berenice wouldn't have protected herself as much as she was able. "
"Hmmm…. Interesting, indeed." Dumbledore mumbled thoughtfully, as he stroked his beard. "And also troubling."
"Don't we all know it." Bill snorted, as he looked all over the anteroom. There was a plush dark red carpet on the shiny wooden floor, with well-cared for pieces of furniture from some kind of a dark wood, with the seats' upholstered backs and tight seats in the velvet of the color of ivory with golden thread being seen here and there. The walls were gentle peach color with some pale beige thrown in with stucco motifs of roses and pieces of fruit woven in, looking so realistic that Bill would have sworn some naughty poltergeist just dipped them in the beige paint and stuck them on the walls and against the ceiling. All in all, the anteroom was giving off the air of elegance and antiquity feeling that could humble even the most aristocratic of wizarding families into shame. Bill just knew that Fleur would have squealed his ears off if she had seen the room. Veelas were… ah… connoisseurs of beauty, because beauty was already ingrained in their genes. They searched for beauty – be that rare bloom, exotic perfume or an unique dress that flattered their bodies, or unusually cut pieces or jewelry - they loved it all. And Bill was still wondering just how did he end with the French beauty as his girlfriend, despite of him being a Weasley, not having any massive fortune and not being a model material himself. Well, there was his resistance against her allure, but still….
Before he could get any deeper in his dopey musings, the butler came back.
"Master is willing to accept you." The butler said, bowing shallowly, this mysterious smile still on his lips. "If you would follow me…."
"Of course," Dumbledore said amiably, making Bill blink slowly. "Although, if I may ask, where's the young Antares' mother?"
The two remaining wizards cringed at the Dumbledore's tactlessness. Even they were not that dumb to potentially offend one of Carruthers' staff, and a butler at that.
However, the butler's smile was implacable, as if Dumbledore asked him about weather. "I am not privy to answer that question, Mr. Dumbledore." He replied back, his voice kind and mellow, the epitome of cultured butler. " If you, however, are still curious, you may ask the Young Master."
The reply was said so politely it completely rebuffed any further question from the wizards' side. Of course, Dumbledore wanted to ask another one, but Remus' glare made his mouth shut.
The butler led the small group upstairs and then through right corridor. They had taken some twists and turns, before they finally stopped at the big white-painted door. The watched the butler gently knock on the door, before he entered.
"Young Master, Albus Dumbledore wishes to have audience with you." He announced, and then beckoned the four wizards forward.
The four men were confused, as they didn't hear anything that would indicate admission from the so-called Master, but…that wasn't really important at time moment, was it?
The room they entered into was not big, but still exuded the feel of…presence that made it seem much bigger than it was in reality. If they hadn't known better, the four wizards would have thought there was some kind of strange magic at work, but as it was, it was just a room.
The room was painted in ochre paint, with bronze accents here and there, with mahogany floor gleaming softly as it had been polished to perfection. The curtains were made out of deep green velvet with a glint of bronze glinting in the small shards of light.
The fireplace at the right was made from strange stone - dark gray with discreet golden shimmer whenever the light from the merrily crackling flames hit it.
Aside from the shelves, two paintings depicting nature and ornate desk with a small lamp light, there was no other furniture in the room. It gave off an austere feeling, and the four men felt as if they found themselves in front of the judge for some reason - the only thing that were missing were a gavel and jury.
However, their eyes didn't look long around the room – the two previous occupants were much more important, and dare they say, interesting for their visual perusal.
And here he was… the one person who had single - handedly caused the furor in the Wizarding world, and hopefully, at the end of their talks, their ally.
"Thank you for accepting us, my bo – " Dumbledore began, with a grandfatherly expression on his old, wizened face.
"Be silent." The youth interrupted Dumbledore, his raspy voice cold. Making both Bill and Remus wince at the rebuke in that scratchy sound. "If you don't care to be polite, in my home, no less, then you best hold your tongue until you begin to speak with some manners. "
"You - !" Bill wanted to strangle the impudent youth, but the single look from that ice cold eye rooted him on his place, much to Moody's amused chuckle, making him silently growl at the old fart. They were not even five minutes in their mission, and it was already bound to be failure, all by Dumbledore's disregard of common courtesies.
"I apologize for the Headmaster's slight, Mister Carruthers." Remus inclined his head in a small bow and inwardly thanked Sirius for drilling him on the procedures to interact with nobility. While the old dog was one to disregard them as frequently as he could get away with it, he still had enough of a foresight to at least tutor his friend in them, if only for Remus to get by, as him being a Werewolf was a tantamount for Remus to be an extra polite, without failings, if he wanted to get by in the wizarding world.
"I don't believe it's your place to apologize for his mistakes, Lupin - if anything, that is only painting him in even worse light that he had started off from. " The youth remarked coldly as he inclined his head. "You said you had some information pertaining my parentage?"
Blunt and to the point. Remus inwardly winced at the rebuke - they certainly weren't gaining any points with young Carruthers, and he sincerely doubted their little talk would get any better.
The youth in front of him was pale, and dressed in a smart ensemble of white shirt with dark blue pullover, the whiteness of his shirt only enhanced with the blackness of his thin tie. It made Remus feel positively under clothed and ashamed of attire of his companions - Bill was in jeans and T-shirt with dragon hide jacket, Moody was in his usual crazy ensemble, and his peg leg, along with the glowing blue eye didn't help him any, and Dumbledore's … eyesore of a robe wasn't even worth a mention. He thanked Merlin that Sirius practically forced him into the dark gray ensemble of a suit, even if it was a little too big on him, making it painfully obvious that it was tailored for someone with higher and stronger built than him.
He sighed. 'So much for a good first impression.' He thought to himself resignedly.
"We recently found out that your father is still alive." He murmured lowly as he carefully watched the young lord's face for any changes.
Much to his chagrin, Antares' face exuded as much interest as a wall of bricks. "Indeed?" The youth muttered silkily. "Why, pray tell, do you think that this… information of yours would be of any value to me?"
Involuntarily, Remus felt his jaw drop. "But, but - " He floundered, searching for words, until he finally blurted out. "Sirius is your family!"
And the bomb was dropped.
However, if they expected the youth to demand for answers, they were to be sorely disappointed.
"I knew that already. And why on Earth would I wish to consort with a known murderer, Mister Lupin?"
Antares watched the four men as he delivered his blow impassively. He had to admit, it was fun to play with their heads, and seeing Re - no, Lupin, being flustered made him secretly gleeful at the man's misery. He remembered, only too well, the wolf's wrongdoings toward him, and why should he make anything for him easier than it should have been?
"But he's innocent!" The redhead - Bill, was it? - blurted out, making him narrow his eye in annoyance. "And he's your family!"
"A family I have lived without until now. " Antares mercilessly slew down the redhead's argument. "I've grown up without him just fine, and I believe there won't be any loss for me not knowing him more besides his name. Gryffindor Horn Dog, I believe he was called. Why should I sully my reputation with his name?"
"Because he's the last of Black family, and you are his heir." Dumbledore interjected smoothly, his blue eyes twinkling behind his glasses. Antares glared. Being named an Heir by a Head of a Noble family was an honor, and for Carruthers' it would definitely repair some of the reputation one particular horn dog managed to sully with his thoughtless deeds. Even if the said horn-dog was a criminal in the eyes of the Wizarding World.
"I can still contest it." He murmured, interlinking his hands in front of his face.
"I am afraid not, "Dumbledore informed him happily. "Inheritance Charter, year 1943, clause 46, section 8 - if there is a situation when a Noble line is in a danger of dying out, the Head can appoint as the Heir and eventually the next Head of the Noble line the nearest relative by blood – and you, even if you are an illegitimate, still fall under the requirements." He concluded smugly, making Antares' teeth grit together with the feeling of helplessness.
"By the same Charter, illegitimate relatives are also exempt in an effort to keep the line 'pure'", Sebastian's smooth voice purred out, making the wizards jump slightly at his unexpected appearance, and Antares' tense shoulders relaxed minutely. "So by that logic, the next… Heir… should be one Draconis Aurelius Malfoy, I believe his name was. "
"So you have no reason to intrude upon Master Antares' privacy with your…. old news." Mocha-colored eyes shone with sincere light as the pale lips curved up in a mocking smile.
"You are right…" Remus conceded, sighing. "However, Draco Malfoy is already an Heir of the Malfoy line, therefore he's ineligible for the Black title. And before you protest, Nymphadora Tonks doesn't count as she was expelled from the family via her mother's marriage to a Muggle. So like it or not, Mr. Carruthers," he addressed the frowning youth, "You are the Heir of Noble and Ancient House of Black."
A tense silence reigned in the space between them.
"I see." Antares spoke softly. "However that still doesn't change the fact I don't wish to see, much less have contact with convicted felon."
"Sirius is innocent - " Remus began, only to be dismissed with a wave of his hand. "If that were true, he would have already been pardoned, so excuse me if I don't believe your feeble beliefs. Now, if you finished with being a messenger of… bad news," Antares said the two last words delicately, as if they were something contaminating disease he had to carefully handled lest they spill and cause a disaster, " - then your work here is done. Michaelis, show them out, please."
"But he is!" Remus snapped back in an uncharacteristic show of emotion. "You have a Pensieve - I can show you – "
Antares lifted his hand, stopping Michaelis in his tracks. "Show me? " He asked slowly, as if testing words on his tongue. Remus nodded frantically.
Green eye stared into werewolf's orbs, making him fidget uncomfortably.
"Faustus, bring out Veritaserum."
The order rippled a shocked gasp through the wizards.
"That's forbidden!" Bill gasped out, his eyes wide. "Only Winzegamot can allow the use of this potion!"
Mad-Eye only harrumphed. "Clever lad. Don't trust their words." He nodded decisively, as he thumped his peg leg on the wooden floor harshly. "Constant vigilance, I say." The old Auror knew when to cut his losses, and witnessing the young Carruthers verbally dressing down his colleagues was the best fun he had lately. He always thought Dumbledore was getting too big for his robes, but there weren't many people who could show him the error of his ways… and if they by some miracle manage to convince the lad to join the Order, he was looking forward to the next round of head-butting, courtesy of the old fool and that young Antares fellow.
"You think I care about Winzegamot?" Antares asked idly, but his eye was sharp. "And which family, do you think, has the patent rights for this particular potion?"
Bill blinked. "Uh… I don't know?" He admitted sheepishly, as he scratched the back of his head, like some kind of a scolded delinquent.
Mad-Eye snorted. "You are standing in their Manor, dumbass."
Bill stared at the old man blankly, as he tried to tie the facts together. "Manor…" Then it dawned on him. "You mean Carruthers?!" He yelped out incredulously.
"Of course Carruthers, who else?" Mad-Eye bit out harshly. "Were you sitting on your ears when you were taught Potions, boy? Everyone knows that the family who patents a particular potion, can use it as they wish, within reason. Case in point, Prewetts, Carruthers and Snapes, along with Peverels are only ones of the more known ones. "
"Wait, Prewetts?" Bill interjected. "Mum didn't tell me anything about that!"
"She wouldn't." Mad-Eye grunted out. "Annelise Prewett invented Amortentia. Now, shall we get on with it? We don't have whole day to waste!"
"Of course." Faustus spoke, making the wizards jump again - seriously, what was with the Carruthers' butlers - did they derive some sadistic amusement from scaring their guests out of their wits?
"My dear - Carruthers," Dumbledore quickly caught himself. "I really don't think this is necessary."
"You're not helping your case, old man." Antares snapped back, making the small entourage tense again. "For that matter, I find it suspicious you came along with Lupin. Don't you have any better things to do than trying to convince me to give the would-be convict a chance, Supreme Mugwump?"
Involuntarily, both Remus and Bill cringed under the onslaught of the young man's sharp words. And the sad thing, when they thought about it, it was true.
"Alas, I do," Dumbledore agreed solemnly. "However, I do owe Sirius a favor, and if bringing you back would help the dear boy to recover sooner, I am all for it. "
"Now you are just delegating me to a place of a chill pill," Antares grumbled sourly, much to the amusement of his two butlers. "Never mind. Lupin, you have one chance to convince me you speak the truth. Will you, or will you not take the Veritaserum?"
The werewolf blinked. "Of - of course!" he hurried to assure the young man that was Sirius' sole chance for redemption.
"Right." The youth muttered back. "Faustus, administer the potion."
The silent, bespectacled butler stepped forward, and for some reason, Remus' wolf cringed away. Or tried to, at any rate - a strong hand gripped his jaw and yanked it down and before Remus even knew what was happening, he felt tasteless liquid touch is tongue. And then, everything blurred.
"Wha - Hey! You didn't even - !" Bill snapped as the bespectacled butler supported the drugged man. "He gave consent, , and that was enough for me." The bespectacled butler replied back smoothly. "Besides, my Master doesn't have all day to solely entertain you and your ilk. "
The redhead bristled at the veiled insult from butler's pale lips - really, the entire episode here was just a nerve-wracking test, one after another, and even if they were still here, Bill couldn't help but think they had utterly failed somewhere - but the most damning thing was, he didn't know exactly where that should have been.
Even if he was all for Sirius having at least one member of his family back, Bill was now seriously rethinking his opinions on the matter - Antares Carruthers was cold, uncaring and ruthless and despite of Dumbledore's convictions, clearly unwilling to get to know his father. If they hadn't needed him - desperately needed him, Bill would have said fuck it and left the miserable sod to enjoy being an utter bastard all by his lonesome, but as always, Sirius just had to jump the gun and they were now left with the onerous duty to convince the said miserable sod to … deepen the familial ties with his father.
And all of this happened just because one R.J. Lupin just had to point out the flea-bitten idiot somehow managed to sire a son.
"State your name." The bespectacled butler continued as if he didn't just insult the redhead.
The man's dull eyes blinked sluggishly.
"Remus John Lupin." He answered dully, his voice slow.
"Who did you come with to Antares Carruthers?" The butler asked next, the question both relieving and baffling the guests.
"Mad-Eye Moody. Dumbledore. Bill Weasley."
Right, that part was true.
"What are your intentions about Antares Carruthers?"
The question jerked Bill's attention back to the butler. "Hey! He didn't agree to that!" He interjected, but a sharp glare from those unusual golden eyes silenced him.
"It's a completely legitimate question, idiot," Mad-Eye mumbled, clearly enjoying the confusion. "Constant Vigilance, I say." Bill scowled mutinously, liking the whole affair less and less as the time went by.
He should have known something was wrong when he didn't found his favorite amulet in the morning.
"Inform him about his heritage. Take him back to Sirius." Lupin's answer was concise… but so much could have gone wrong it made Bill's teeth hurt from clenching his jaw.
If that butler asked anything else…. They would have been boned.
Order of the Phoenix was, after all, a secret organization, and if Antares somehow found out that information... He shuddered to even think about that.
"Was Sirius Potter's Secret Keeper?"
"No. Switched with Peter Pettigrew."
"Enough." Antares' voice was even grittier that it had been at the beginning. Giving a sharp nod, Faustus administered the antidote, making the man cough at the sharp taste of the liquid, but a moment later, brown and amber eyes cleared out.
"Is that enough of a proof for you?" Dumbledore asked politely as he stroked his beard gently.
"It only proves the incompetence of Winzegamot." Antares replied back shortly. To his credit, Dumbledore just smiled at the youth's caustic answer. " If I may, why didn't you want to use Pensieve to view the concrete proof of Sirius' innocence?" He asked kindly, blue eyes twinkling questioningly.
Antares sighed. "Because I am still recovering, and besides, this was more efficient and reliable. " He released his hands from their position in front of his mouth, wearily lifting his right hand up to massage his temple, as he closed his eye in an effort not to see the four annoyances in front of him.
And truly, when they looked at the youth more closely, he was unnaturally pale, and his lips were fairly bloodless, which had, along with his gaunt face, given the credibility to his reason.
Dumbledore frowned. "I am sorry to hear that. But perhaps Poppy – "
"Do you seriously want to suggest I am incompetent in taking care of myself?" The young man asked stiffly, green eye flashing dangerously, and for a moment, Remus was reminded of Berenice when some dumb douchebag tried to woo her. Namely, one dumb douchebag called Sirius Orion Black. Berenice's spats with Sirius were legendary, just like Sirius' playboy tendencies.
"Of course not, "Dumbledore smoothly backpedalled. "However, your recovery could be speed up if you allow us to take you to your father."
Antares snorted. That was a load of bullshit and all of the present knew it.
"Also, your mother would rest easier if you had proper medicinal attention."
"Both Faustus and Michaelis are proficient enough. " Antares snapped back. "And for your information, my mother is dead. Now get out of my sight and don't come back!"
Remus flinched at the fury in the youth's voice. Truly, Dumbledore seemed to step on every mine available on that particular minefield.
"What happened?" He asked, only to be subjected to that terrible green eye.
"Six months ago, some Death Eaters managed to abduct me and my mother. Because they thought we were Muggles, they …'played' with us." Antares's voice switched to a deadened one, making Bill and Remus wince with sympathy. Everyone knew what Death Eaters 'plays with their victims entailed, and it wasn't pleasant.
"Faustus and Michaelis managed to find and rescue us. They nursed us back to health but my mother, may she rests in peace, succumbed to her wounds a week ago." Antares narrated dully. "Myself, I am still under the orders of strict rest and using no magic."
"So that's why you used your gun in Diagon Alley." Bill concluded quietly, now feeling pretty wretched about his antipathy toward the young man. Antares gave a sharp nod. "Exactly."
"I am sorry. I didn't know." Remus mumbled, hanging his head contritely.
"You didn't need to." The answer was sharp and to the point.
"But if you escaped… you are now in danger from the Death Eaters." Mad-Eye pointed out logically. "I understand your distaste of the flea-bitten mongrel, but the fact is, his house is the best bet for you to recover. Your butlers, good as they may be, can't be attentive 24/7 – "
'You have no idea,' Antares mused sourly. 'If anything, they are too attentive!'
" - and sooner than later, they will find out where you live, and with the shit you call protection you have on your Manor now, you will be in their clutches, squealing like little piggy in no time."
Electrically blue eye rotated wildly as Mad-Eye stomped to the sitting youth.
"Lad, it takes balls of steel to survive through those games. And if nothing else, I like you for how you used Veritaserum on Lupin. Sneaky, crafty and cunning. And we need that."
The old Auror overheard Dumbledore's warning cough. "I've heard about yer lil' escapade in Diagon. No quarter, just what those bastards deserved. And it would have been a shame to lose you just because you were too stubborn to protect yourself. If nothing else, think of your servants."
Antares had to breathe down a hysterical chuckle as he listened to the Moody's sales pitch. 'Thinking of his servants', indeed. Those fools didn't have a damned clue.
He looked at his two butlers. Michaelis was smiling his enigmatic smile, and Faustus was a block of ice, as always.
Then, he looked back to the grizzled Auror.
"As long as the mutt won't annoy me. And my butlers will go with me."
His answer brightened the wizards' faces with relief, and in some cases, smugness.
"Of course, my boy." Dumbledore assured him, blue eyes twinkling madly.
Both of the butlers and their master hid their smirks behind their masks.
'Hook, Line and Sinker.'
/To Be Continued/