M.P.O.: This is technically a repost, with a few new things thrown in. I'll leave the excuses for later, so here you go. Enjoy!

Chapter 6: His Butler; Reacting

Sirius stared into the fire, a small crystal glass in hand, the amber liquid within being swirled slowly, almost without thought. His father's study, clean for the first time in nearly 15 years, had become the convict's haven, providing a familiar comfort that he desperately needed. No human could spend 12 years with the demons of their past without some side-effects and, despite his advantages, Sirius was no different.

"Forty-two."

Sirius jumped, turning in his chair to stare at the one who had spoken. Remus Lupin smiled at him from the doorway, the lycanthrope's shoulder wedged against the frame as if it was the only thing holding him up. Sirius blinked at him, idly reflecting that the full moon had come and gone a few days prior.

"What?"

"Forty-two." Remus replied simply, pushing off of the frame and making his way to one of the leather chairs placed in front of the hearth.

"What's that got to do with anything?" Sirius stared back, just as clueless as before.

"It's the Answer." Remus was smiling, which was as close to a smirk as the biblophile ever got, as far as Sirius was aware. The dark haired man narrowed his eyes, staring at his best friend.

"The answer to what?"

"Life. The Universe. Everything." Of course, he was mad. Cracked. Absolutely bonkers.

"Moony old pal, I think you've gone off your rocker. Need I worry about your wardrobe reflecting similar taste to our dear Headmaster anytime soon?" Remus snorted, and both men paused for a moment to picture him dressed in one of Albus' gaudy robes. Hot pink owls with an eye-watering shade of orange in the background. Sirius shook his head, determined to never put his poor mind through that again.

"I'm not mad, Padfoot." Sirius snorted. "OK, not totally mad anyway. I was merely attempting to give you the answer that the fire could not. You were seeking the answer to the Ultimate Question, weren't you?"

"If this is some book reference Moony, you know very well that I won't get it." A sigh.

"True. You and James never were much for reading..." Both men fell silent for a moment, all thoughts carefully avoiding mention of the fourth in their old group, the traitorous rat. The fire crackled merrily in the background and Sirius found himself entranced by the flames once more, ice-blue eyes fixed on the cherry-red tongues that licked around a block of wood he had set on top of the pile minutes before.

"Do you think something happened?" Remus spoke again, swirling his own glass of Scotch, though when he had managed to get it, Sirius had no idea.

"Huh?"

"To Harry. He's... different now."

"Last year was not the kindest to him... or anyone."

"I suppose you're right... But-"

"What is it Moony?"

"He just feels different. Something's changed about him, but I can't tell what it is. I-" He paused, frowning. "Moony is restless. Something is making him nervous, and it only ever happens when Harry is nearby."

"Could it be a reaction to the familiar? You never have liked snakes, particularly the venomous breeds. Remember that incident with the Runespoor?" Sirius all but smirked at the twitch and glare that little memory brought about. Remus rolled his eyes, relaxing back in the chair and wrinkling his nose at the other man.

"That was entirely your fault and you know it, Sirius Black."

"What's your point?"

"That you- What am I saying, we're getting off topic."

"So Harry's a little different. Isn't it a good thing?"

"Well... He does seem a little more inclined to studying than galavanting around looking for trouble."

"Of course you'd think that's a good thing. Bloody bookworms, the lot of you."

"Oh hush. I suppose that I'm just reacting to how much he's changed over the summer. The last time I really saw him, he was just a boy."

"That he was. Now, seeing as you'd managed to sneak yourself some Scotch, I think a little drinking is in order. After all, Harry is safe and sound, and the House of Black is cleaner than it's been in years!"


Albus frowned thoughtfully, his gaze unfocused and seemingly fixed on a spot of dark stone above the door to his office. Tapping his fingers against each other, he huffed quietly, then lowered his eyes, the clear blue orbs sharpening as he regained his focus on the now.

"How did you do it?" He muttered to himself, leaning back in his seat and contemplating a large stone basin filled with silvery liquid. A pensive to be exact, currently occupied by a memory of the carnage found in the Alley between Privet Drive and Wisteria Walk in Surry, England. Well… not carnage, per say, but disgusting all the same...

Albus paused in the entrance to the alley, his eyes widening faintly at the truly horrible odor that wafted towards his nose. Swiftly employing a little-known variety of the bubble-head charm (which kept fresh air in his nose, without that obnoxious bubble), he made his way forward, only to stop again when confronted with a pink haired Auror.

"Professor! What're you doing here, sir?" The young woman, Nymphadora Tonks, asked, turning from her inspection of the wall to greet him while her partner, a dark-skinned male named Kingsley, continued his investigation.

"Ah, Auror Tonks. Good evening. I just stopped by to see what had happened, as it concerns one of my little fledglings, of course. Not to mention that the others in the Wizengamot will be interested to learn why two of Azkaban's Guards were so far from home. What can you tell me?"

"Not much, unfortunately." Kingsley stood, towering over Tonks and appearing as though made of granite in comparison to Tonks' own bright cheer. "There is no Trace to analyze, not even a weapon that could have done what the evidence suggests."

"No trace? You can't mean that this…" He paused, gesturing to the gruesome display. "That this wasn't done with the use of a spell?"

"That's exactly what I mean, sir."

"And you're sure that Mr. Potter was here at least minutes before this all happened?"

"Positive, sir. Ms. Figg reported watching him enter the Alley with his cousin, though she was unable to witness them returning home. Said something about a missing cat and snakes in her bushes..."

"Well if there wasn't magic used, then what /was/ it?"

"We're not entirely sure... Found a butter knife in that one's rib-cage though. Doesn't give us much to work with though, since muggles can't see them, and no wizard I've ever seen would be so low as to use one, let alone carry one on his person. It is highly confusing."

"So an unknown. Who may or may not know where Mr. Potter lives... This is troubling."

Albus idly rubbed his forehead while he reflected on the scene, toying with a lemon drop while he thought. On his perch, Fawks trilled softly, lifting his head from beneath his wing to peer curiously at his wizard. Albus smiled wearily at his familiar, leaning back in his chair.

"I'm not quite sure what to do, my friend." The old wizard muttered softly, watching one of the many silver instruments littering his desk. "There's something... off. A new player is on the board, but I cannot see what piece it is, how it moves, or to whom it belongs. I have a feeling it has to do with Harry, but I can't be sure of that either. There is something he's not telling anyone..."

{You think too much, Albus. What makes you think your Harry-chick is hiding anything?} The phoenix replied, nibbling at an itch beneath his wing. Albus tilted his head a little, frowning slightly.

"He just seems... darker. More withdrawn. Not to mention that familiar of his. I fear he's going to do something that we won't be able to stop."

{Maybe he has simply grown up, and realized that such talent as the Serpent Tongue should not be wasted because of propaganda? Do not push him, Albus. He has had a rough time of it. You must allow him time to gather himself, to figure out what he wants. He is not a chess piece, just as you are not a Game Master.}

"Perhaps you're right. I'll distance myself this year and just watch. Hopefully, Tom won't try anything for a while yet. He'll want to lay low, after the way Harry outted him in June."

{Psychological Warfare, you think?}

"I am all but sure of it, my friend. Let us hope that the pressure does not become too much for Harry to handle..."


Molly Weasley bustled about the kitchen of Number 12 Grimauld Place with single-minded intensity, spatula in one hand and wand in the other. With the house being miraculously clean- and no Kreacher in sight, oddly enough- she was doing what she did best: fixing a feast fit for Kings.

"...ve you seen that thing? It's utterly deadly! How can Dumbledore let him carry it around, on his neck, no less?" Emmeline Vance- who had been consistently startled by Harry's new familiar throughout the meeting last night- declared, sinking down at the table and putting her chin in one hand, summoning a bottle of butterbeer from the icebox with her other. Frowning, Molly deposited a stack of warm rolls on the table, smacking the young woman's hand away when she reached for one.

"That poor boy has been through enough in the last four years, and I rather think it fitting that he at least have someone he can talk to without anyone overhearing. The Prophet is bad enough, I can only imagine what nonsense will spark when they get wind of his familiar. You don't have to like it, Emme, but at least have the sense to hold your tongue where he may hear. And stay out of the food, it'll be ready soon enough!" The red-headed woman replied, not unkindly, as she turned back for the stove, using her wand to stir a pot of sauce while her spatula began flipping strips of bacon by itself.

"It was glaring at me, Molly! I don't think those beady little red eyes left me once through the whole meeting. It's even worse since those vile things don't blink. Whichever god decided to make a creature without eyelids was a batty as Abe, in my opinion."

"Emmeline, as... unsettling... as it is, you'll just have to deal with it. At the least, you don't have to see him if you don't wish to. Now kindly close your mouth, and either help me get the table set or clear out."

"Fine, fine. What do you need?"


Hermione sat curled into a chair in the corner of the library, a thick book with ragged edges hugged to her chest. She wasn't reading, hadn't even opened the book actually, and instead stared over the top of it, brown eyes watching a candle flicker.

She had been a horrible friend, and she well knew it. She had known Ron would react that way the very second she had spotted the scaled coils looped about her friend's neck, and she had done nothing. She had let the temperamental red-head accuse Harry- a boy who was already being declared insane by the Prophet and Minister alike, to great enjoyment of the rest of Magical Britain- of going Dark. The youngest Weasley male may as well have just tossed his best friend to the Dementors for the murder of Lily and James Potter, if the look on Harry's face was anything to go by. Unsurprisingly, it had hurt to be so frozen, so unable to respond. She had thought herself stronger than that, fully able to reprimand Ron for saying such a thing and welcoming Harry and his familiar with open arms.

But she had just stood there. And now... Now Harry didn't trust her. It was like being in Primary school all over again.

Being a bookworm in a Muggle school had been fine. The teachers had adored her, and the librarians knew her by name- both even gave her nicknames on occasion. She had been friendless, but confident, assured in her knowledge and enjoying the simple pleasures of a good book over rough housing or playing dolls. Then she had gotten her letter, and everything changed. A whole new world had opened up right in front of her, and this time, she was the ignorant one. Muggleborn, Mudblood, Filth. All words that she would have never thought herself to ever be called, and all plastered like a giant target over her head from her first day in Diagon Alley. Determined to overcome, to rise above and show that she was capable of being given the same respect, she had studied. As many books as she could get, all crammed into her trunk, and even then she had still gone back, every weekend, to browse Flourish and Blotts for anything below 4th year, steadily increasing a Christmas and Holiday wish-list that soon filled an entire notebook.

Finally, the train. First, a compartment full of chattery first and second year girls who seemed to speak of nothing more than how icky boys were, or how rich their daddies happened to be. The next compartment had been filled to the brim with green and black clad upper-years, every single one of whom had fallen silent the second she slid open the door. She'd left that one alone after the largest one leveled his wand at her and sneered. Third time was the charm- pardon the pun- and she settled herself in with a round-faced boy- Neville- and a slightly dense girl with pig-tails whose name she never could recall. From there, it was sort of history, as they say; she'd helped Neville search for his toad, gotten off on the wrong foot with Harry Potter and his dirt-smudged friend Ron Weasley, been sorted into Gryffindor, and spent the next month and a half basically alone, studying for all she was worth. Halloween was arguably the best and worst night of her First-Year, in several ways. A- She'd been insulted after trying to help another student in class. Effect, hiding in the bathroom for the rest of the day, MISSING the rest of her classes while she cried her eyes out. Subsequent events led her to be trapped by a Mountain Troll, saved by none other they the boy who'd insulted her and his 'famous' friend, LIED to a teacher, and lost ten points for the first time ever. Nevermind that Harry and Ron got it back less than three minutes later...

Oh boy, she was rambling again. Sighing, the weary bookworm closed her eyes, resting her forehead against her knees and staring wistfully at the wall.

"I've got a lot of work to do..."


And, since I couldn't think up how to put Ron's internal ramblings, and Snape was being unusually quiet- have an Omake instead:

Omake 2: The Animagus Test-

Harry stared doubtfully at the bubbling concoction sitting before his nose, which was being waved from side to side by an entirely too cheerful crisp white glove.

"Come, my master, it isn't that bad. Just a quick swallow and a little dizziness, and you'll know your Animagus form. You /did/ tell me to make this so that you could find out."

"I know that. I just… didn't think it would smell quite this bad. Or look like that."

"Three raven's feathers, plucked under a half-moon. Two teaspoons syrup of doberman. Five hairs from a wild lion. Seven Newt Tails, three cobra scales, and a cutting of fresh nightshade, mixed in boiling water and stirred counterclockwise with a sharks' fin. No, I don't believe it was meant to be anything less than absolutely disgusting. It is likely the reason so few go through with the transformation. Still, you bade me make it, and so I did. Drink now, my lord."

Harry frowned, deciding that he really hadn't wanted to hear what the stuff was made of, and gave his Butler a suspicious look. Of course, he was smiling. Like always. And he was still holding out the cup too. Great. Groaning, he took the thing from Sebastian and downed it in a single swallow- tossing it back like someone experienced with tequila shots, or perhaps just someone who has been taking foul tasting potions for years. Shuddering at the taste- an odd combination of cat-litter, bird poo, dog slobber, and textured like scales and slime- he closed his eyes and leaned back on the bed to wait.

It started slowly- at first just a mild disorientation, and then progressing to the odd feeling of being twisted and turned, pressed in from all sides. Finally, that was over, and he had a split second to open his eyes before the world went black again.

"Oh of all the creatures, my lord! How blessed, how beautiful! Such dainty little pads, the fur like a coat of purest night. Truly gorgeous, I must say. And those eyes, like the finest emeralds. Why, I-"

"Sebastian… why are you hugging me?"

"My apologies, my lord. It won't happen again."

"Mmm. What was it?"

"A… A kitten, my lord."

"…"

M.P.O.: SURPRISE! Isn't it nice to finally have an update? I know it isn't very progressive, plot wise, and that it took me entirely too long to get out, and for that I'm sorry. I'm also not sure when I'll get the next chapter out, unfortunately. I have recently acquired a job, and I also work at home making crafty little hair accessories or pixeled bead art, AND I'm also a Moderator over on one of my favorite roleplay sites, so I'm on that daily too. Just busy all around, with work, study, and chores. That and an annoyingly flaky muse who likes to pop run off once I've actually gotten an idea. Urgh. For those curious, NO I have NOT abandoned this fic. It's simply taking a bit to get back into the swing of things, in my head anyway. I haven't written anything substantial in a /long/ while, but I'm made a promise to myself to FINISH this one, even if it takes me ten years. Review replies (for Chapter 6, chapter 7 replies will be in the next update) below, have a great summer!

Review thanks to: DGtnsl, S. Rune, 9foxgrl, Paxloria, RedEYES-Fallen, freezing1203, angel61991, Ciekawa Osoba, Blackmass, AiSard, rollicking skater, kits-hold-their-tears, Amelia Valencia, NotSoInnocentSpecialKit, namikaze natsumi-hime, Shadow Wolf 15846, icestar-comet-moon, myheartstillbleedsforyou, Mangal2012, harrylover101, PenguinBandit523, mabidiso, Silvermane1,TristaDin, Celebwen Telcontar, Wraith, Adele365, Ciel Black018, exaigon, Firemockingjay, the dark euphie, AnimeIceFox, Atrita, XxAlysxX, Pinksakura200, Carrie2sky, Niwaki, DarkMoonKilling, enchanted nightingale, mist shadow, flamenin, melclem, Touch of the Wind, Janelly Slytherin, xXxOtAkU-444xXx, Kimera225, belle hawk, Riku Lupo, ChocolateBunnyChan, Shadow Eclipse, Xiaoqing, Wragziez,

How does a snake moan?: Erm, that was more metaphorical than literal, though I wouldn't put it past Sebastian to be able to make a snake moan. He's just that awesome.

Harry is still somewhat weak willed...: Yes and no. If you notice, he refrained from forgiving Hermione. He said he'd think about it, but he never came out and said 'I forgive you.' He was resisting the urge to do so, not because he is weak willed, but because Harry, who had no friends before Hogwarts, doesn't like being at odds with his friends and wants everything to be alright. He also knows that if /he/ is the one to apologize, then the same thing will just happen later on and cause more problems. So, in order to help his friends grow as he did, he is resisting the urge to 'fix' everything and leaving them to try and fix it themselves.

Where's Grell's chainsaw?: I figure he hasn't been allowed to have it back yet. With such long 'lives' as the Death Gods have, it stands to reason that Grell would still be under probation for his actions with Madam Red. At least he's not running around with safety scissors anymore...

Does Sebastian know Grell is running about?: *wink* That would be telling, my dears.

Is Harry going to turn evil?: No. Absolutely not. Harry has no plans for World Domination, or even the Dominion of Wizarding Britain. He only wishes to rid the world of Voldemort and be at peace with himself, for once in his life. Remember, Dark does not mean evil, just as Light does not mean good. Just because the Ritual used to summon Sebastian was one of the blackest of black magics, doesn't mean that Harry's going to become a gung-ho killer. Also, what good would it do to achieve world dominance, only to give it up as soon as Volders was dealt with?

How come only Petunia saw Grell?: Simply put, he was masking himself, like dampening his presence enough that a regular person wouldn't be able to see him. Since Lily Evans had magic, and Petunia has been exposed to the Magical world, I figure that she has a kind of 'sight' about her that allows her to see what a regular muggle wouldn't. Vernon has never been to Diagon or the Leaky Cauldron, nor has he ever set foot on Platform 9 3/4, so he's still 'magically oblivious', one could say. Grell would be perfectly visible to a full wizard, or anyone with magic in their bloodline. Dudley, if he had been home when Grell dropped by (which he wasn't) would have been able to see him as well, in following the belief that Muggleborns are merely descendants of Squib outcasts. This is also why Sebastian remains hidden because, as shown with Remus, magical creatures can sense what he is to an extent, though only those with knowledge of his kind would be able to pin-point exactly what he is. The only difference between them is that Grell can choose be invisible to Muggles without 'the Sight' (as I shall call it), and Sebastian is not.

Will Harry hire Dobby, or Kreacher, in addition to Sebastian?: Kreacher is a Black Family elf. Unless he is given clothes by the current Head (Sirius), he is still owned and thus cannot be obtained by Harry. Dobby... Not sure what I'm doing with Dobby yet. He is a rather... Light... creature, and I'm not sure he's going to take Harry's changes very well, even if he is devoted to the young Lord.

Sirius' new attitude?: Hm, one or two curiosities about this actually. I've always had a soft spot for Siri, and frankly, I think he should have been a little more Harry centered in the book anyway. It's my belief that the injuries Harry received in /my/ version of the Third Task have altered Sirius' priorities a little. After all, damaged legs can be fixed, scratches and bruises healed with no problem, but supposed nerve damage to an eye, half-blinding someone forever (or so they believe), that's a lot to swallow. So his reactions to Harry's familiar (after about two months to figure out exactly what he want to be in Harry's life, are pretty believable, at least to my brain.

Alright, horribly long AN over, be free my readers, and leave me a juicy review telling me how much you love (or hate) me! XD