So I was reading this thread on Azkaban!Harry fics and I was struck with a sudden idea. Most of these sort of stories have Harry being chucked in Azkaban without a trial and a few days/months/years later, he is let out after he is found to be innocent.
Now Azkaban!Harry does share quite a few things with Sirius Black of canon... Both of them were thrown into Azkaban without a trial, both of them were betrayed/framed by someone they thought was a friend and both of them were innocent while the world thought that both of them were evil and dark and whatnot. Also, Dumbledore and the Ministry are in different ways responsible for their predicament.
The difference here is that Sirius isn't unforgiving, hateful, bitter and vengeful like Azkaban!Harry. That is mainly because he wasn't exonerated. But what if he was?
This fic explores that. It's a small experiment into a Azkaban!Harry like Sirius. I don't know if I am fully successful here, but hey, it's better to try than not to.
And so I give you the first chapter of Black Vengeance. Enjoy.
Oh, one other thing ... the disclaimer ... do we really need to do this? I mean, we all know who owns Harry Potter, so why bother pointing out the obvious...
Act I Scene I
Laughter ... that strange yet familiar sound. It was quite some time since he had heard that sound coming out of his own mouth ... it had been eleven years, eight months, nineteen days, one hour and thirty five minutes, if the newspaper sitting there and his still functioning pocket watch could be believed ... eleven years, eight months, nineteen days, one hour and thirty five minutes ... four thousand two hundred and seventy nine days, one hour, thirty five minutes and zero seconds ... not that he was counting of course. After all, who would do that?
Oh wait, he would.
Then again, he didn't have much of a choice. There isn't much one can do when one is trapped in such a drab place. He looked around at his ... room (for the lack of a better word) critiquing its appearance, acting as if it was the first time he had laid eyes on it as opposed to eleven years, eight months, nineteen days, one hour and thirty five minutes ago when he had been chucked in here. Sunken grey eyes surveyed the only two items of furniture in the otherwise bare and dingy room which in reality was a cell; the pallet that served as a bed with a thin threadbare blanket on top and the dingy commode that mercifully stayed clean all day long.
Mother would not have approved was the fleeting thought that first went through his mind. This caused him to snicker (another sound that had not been heard coming out of his mouth!). Of course his mother would not have approved! He remembered that she used to be rather obsessive about cleanliness and how she considered a lack of at least one piece of expensive antique furniture in a room an offence that should be punishable by death. The look on old man Malfoy's face when they had gone to visit dear cousin Narcissa... Then again, the room here was something even he would not approve of!
The thought that he may actually have something to agree with his mother immediately shut him up.
Shaking his head, he cleared his mind. Where was he, oh yes, laughter. It definitely had been quite some time since he had last laughed (and he was not going to think about the exact time again, thank you very much!). But then, he supposed that there wasn't much to laugh about in Azkaban. What with the dementors floating around ... And if that wasn't enough, the Aurors and guards stationed there were of the opinion that their jeering and taunts made up for the few minutes those fiends were absent.
Frankly he did not know which was worse, the guards or the dementors. At least the dementors couldn't speak. The rattling did get old rather fast though as did the tortured screams that assaulted his highly sensitive dog ears. At the same time, it was quite entertaining to hear cousin Bella banter with the guards. How that woman stayed sane without an Animagus form to protect her was beyond his comprehension. Of course, her sanity before she was tossed in here used to be questionable at best.
He supposed that it was a good thing that they were in the high security wing of the prison. That meant that the guards were too cowardly to open the door and step inside the cell to get physical with the inmates. Once, they had nearly lost one of their own to Bellatrix when the guard had tried to get ... intimate with her. Nobody who saw what happened next (prisoner and guard alike) thought that it was possible to use your own hair to strangle another person. And the guards weren't even going to try to get close to him, Sirius Black, "the most notorious Death Eater". A man, so powerful and depraved, that he was capable of killing twelve Muggles and one wizard with a single curse. Voldemort's secret right hand man ... his supposed heir. The fact that he did not seem as affected by the dementors only added to the fear. He heard that there was a rumour going about saying that he was actually part dementor. Come to think of it, his mother was disturbingly like a dementor...
Ever since the hair strangling incident, the guards had elected to stay outside and shout insults from behind the bars. Acting like those yobs he had seen at one of those Muggle zoos when he had gone out with his infant godson...
Thoughts of his godson got him thinking about the past and more specifically, the events that had led to his incarceration.
'PETER!' Sirius Black screamed as he spotted the rat like man among the throng, scurrying around looking for an empty place to Disapparate. It had taken him a day to find the rat-bastard. A full twenty four hours of no sleep and near – constant Apparating and Disapparating. But he finally had the traitorous snivelling twat cornered in a busy part of Manchester. He was going to haul the pudgy tosser to the D.M.L.E. and have the pleasure of sending him to Azkaban for the rest of the fat man's natural life. Who knows, Peter would probably lose some much needed weight there! He might even look handsome enough for somebody to take notice of him.
Sirius did not even think of needing to fight. After all, he was a full-fledged Auror, one of the youngest and best trained by Moody himself who was of the opinion that he would be one of the greatest Aurors ever. Peter Pettigrew on the other hand was nothing but a fat, traitorous, lazy rat-like thing whose only claim to fame was becoming an Animagus at the age of fifteen. He was a mediocre student at best and a failure at worst. Never had Sirius felt so much regret at helping the sod out in school.
So it was a big surprise when instead of snivelling about and asking for clemency, the worm looked around and shouted at the top of his voice while drawing his wand, 'Lily and James, Sirius! How could you?' and started heaving out great wracking sobs in that high grating squeaky tone he used to use around the teachers after being caught breaking a rule. That never failed to annoy James and Sirius. It was quite pathetic, really, to see a fifteen-year-old bawling like a five-year-old when being yelled at by McGonagall (even if she looked extra-scary in the middle of the night).
'If that is the best you got, Peter, then I suggest you give up now,' said Sirius, quickly regaining his wits. The nerve of him to accuse Sirius of being the traitor! What was almost comical was the fact that in his nervousness Peter was holding his wand in his off hand.
It was when Peter looked up from the ground and into his eyes that Sirius first knew that something was wrong, a feeling that only increased when he noticed that the wand that Peter was pointing at him was somebody else's. His eyes widening, and acting on instinct, he threw up his strongest shield as the wand arm that he noticed just now hidden behind the other man's back let loose a black light from a second wand that it held between its fingers.
As soon as the light hit the ground a loud rumbling sound was heard and the few curious Muggles that were standing there around the wizards in a circle only had time for their eyes to widen before a flash and a large bang vaporised those standing between the Wizards and behind Pettigrew.
Sirius, on the other hand, suffered only a few minor cuts and bruises caused by the flying shrapnel. His shield had taken the brunt of the blast, saving him and a few Muggles fortunate enough to be behind him.
Disoriented, he made to straighten up. The flash of light had blinded him momentarily, and so he did not see the red light of the disarming spell headed his way until it had divested him of his wand and thrown him back.
His vision clearing, he looked at the scene around him. It was a perfect circle of destruction; the concrete was cracked and littered with body parts and pools of blood while water was spewing from the epicentre from a burst pipeline making the area look like a parody of a fountain. Still dazed, Sirius could only watch as Pettigrew approached him, holding his Hawthorn wand and Sirius's own African Blackwood wand in one hand as he pocketed the wand that he had fooled Sirius with.
The Death Eater raised his wand and bound Sirius before he could do anything. He then sent what Sirius recognised as a memory charm to the two Muggles behind him.
His mission accomplished, Peter then turned on Sirius, a sinister grin that the pure-blood scion of the Black family had never seen on the half-blood's face. 'So long ... old friend ...' with that he sent an overpowered cheering charm at Sirius.
Sirius barely registered the bonds tying him down vanishing as he was laughing hysterically. He did notice Peter tossing his wand at his feet before cutting off his finger and then shedding his bloodstained robes. Scattering both the items to the ground, he transformed and disappeared in the sewers.
Things rapidly went downhill from there. The contingent of hit-wizards that arrived on the scene had gazed at the scene for barely a minute before stunning Sirius. When he next woke up, he found himself in a holding cell. Many long minutes later, the door opened to allow Barty Crouch and Minister of Magic Millicent Bagnold.
'Barty!' said Sirius. 'I have something I need to tell you –'
'Save it Black. We have seen all we need to see. There is nothing more that I want to hear from Death Eater scum like you!' Crouch snapped with hatred in his eyes.
'You truly have outdone yourself here Black,' said the Minister. 'I have to admit that it was quite a stunt you pulled here. To think that you had deceived all of us ...' she paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. 'Well, looks like the game, as they say, is up. The evidence has been examined and witnesses questioned. You will spend the rest of your miserable life in Azkaban for what you did!' she said with a vindictive smile.
'I'm not getting a trial?' said Sirius in shock. 'But I am innocent! Surely I have the right for a trial! I demand to speak to Dumbledore!'
'Ah yes, Dumbledore. Well, he was the star witness against you, you know... Gave us the information that you were the one that betrayed the Potters! And your friend, the Werewolf, told us all about your shenanigans at school ... how you nearly got another student killed. It was decided unanimously that there is no need for a trial. After all, the evidence is rather conclusive ... why should we waste Veritaserum or the time to give you one? Take him away, boys.' With that parting shot, they left Sirius to the Aurors.
And so Sirius was left in the company of the dementors of Azkaban. At first, he held out hope that Dumbledore would see reason, and convince Crouch and Bagnold to hold a trial for him or that the Potters' will would be unsealed and prove that he wasn't the secret keeper as James had been sure to make that clear. But that hope soon faded as the days passed by. The feeling of betrayal deepened even more when he found out that Bellatrix, his psychotic cousin and a proven Death Eater, got a trial for her part in torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity.
Was his service, his dedication to Dumbledore and his Order of the Phoenix, the light, and the Ministry all for nothing that they did not even give him the courtesy of a trial? How was it that proven Death Eaters got a trial while he got tossed into Azkaban without one? Was his mother right in saying that they could not be trusted? That in the end, the Light was just as bigoted and as blind and narrow minded as the Dark? Was there any point in switching over to the Light?
Sirius had a ready answer to the last question at the least. It was worth switching sides. At least because of that, he had found great friends ... well friend at the very least. Peter was a Death Eater and Remus was just as good as a traitor for testifying against him like that. How could he bring up that incident all those years back when he had sworn that it was in the past? He did not have the luxury of denying knowledge of the switch. Not when Sirius himself had seen the letter detailing the switch included with the package they normally sent him every month which he had delivered personally to Lupin's house.
At first, Sirius was ready to give up and die. Let the dementors work their evil magic on him and release him from the hell he was now in. Then he heard about his godson. His little Harry, who he found out from Fudge (how did that fool become Minister anyway?) had been placed with Lily's sister, Petunia.
Sirius had met the spiteful magic-phobic Muggle and knew deep in his bones that she would not treat the boy well. She was basically like Snape, only female and ... well ... a Muggle: Mean, petty, and capable of holding a grudge till the end of time. He knew that Lily would have never wanted her boy to grow up with those animals, and he knew that she had told Dumbledore that. So in his mind, that was another thing the man had done to betray him and his brother in everything but blood and his wife.
This fact gave Sirius new hope. He knew that he should hold onto his sanity and his magic: If not for himself, then for his godson. That rat would slip up one day ... and then Sirius will be free. Free to take Harry in. And free to exact his vengeance.
And so, filled with determination, Sirius started to shift into his Animagus form every time one of those ghouls was around. He knew that they were blind and so would not be able to tell the difference between a man and a dog. His dark pelt also made it easy to blend into the shadows where he could easily shift back should a human come by.
Taking the form of a dog also had the added benefit of dampening the effect the dementors had. The dog did not feel anguish, guilt, sorrow or any of the complex emotions that come from having a larger, more intelligent brain. The only emotion that a dog had in abundance was happiness. The amount of doggy joy he had derived from simply chasing his tail was enough to counteract all the depressing thoughts of the betrayal that he felt on a good day.
Sirius shook his head as he felt the familiar coldness of the dementors approaching. Quickly shifting, he settled down for the night as the beautiful symphony of his cousin's dementor – induced screams of anguish started anew.
The rat had finally slipped up was the gleeful thought that ran through Padfoot's mind as he grinned a feral wolfish grin, his tongue lolling out remembering the elation he felt upon spotting the rat's picture on the newspaper Fudge had given him. He will be at Hogwarts in a few weeks ... Oh Peter, I'm coming for you!
After he exposed Peter, he was going to take his godson and get the hell away from Britain, perhaps head to France. There he and Harry could start a new life. And Albus Dumbledore won't be able to do a thing. Not after Sirius was through with him.
Thinking sweet thoughts of revenge, the man in dog form closed his eyes.
Act I Scene II
Sirius spent the next five days lying in wait. He knew for a fact that by the end of the month, the human guards were scarce as they waited for the next month's shift to come. Officially speaking, they were supposed to patrol the cellblocks regularly till midnight until the next shift came along. However, the reality was that nobody really wanted to be any closer to the dementors than was necessary. And so the time when there was a heavy human presence was at the beginning of the month when the guards weren't altogether too sick of the place. By the end of the month, especially after the Minister of Magic made his annual visits, the guards would normally retire early as soon as the sun set, leaving the dementors to do their work of bringing food to the prisoners as well as patrolling the cellblocks.
As soon as the barred door leading to his cell opened revealing a dementor in all its sinister glory holding a tin plate of food, resembling very much the grim reaper at a party looking for the buffet table, Sirius acted. Coiled muscles released energy as the black dog darted out around the dementor and raced down the corridor, taking advantage of the darkness created by the presence of the dementors.
Still on adrenaline, Sirius bounded up the staircase, recalling with perfect clarity the way out even after so many years.
Suddenly he skidded to a halt a few meters away from the front door, his sensitive ears picking up the sound of footsteps. Moments later, two of the human guards came out of another passageway and exited, closing the doors behind them no doubt heading to their quarters that was located a mile away from the fortress.
Cursing silently, he nevertheless walked in a circle, searching for the scent of sweet fresh air. Finding a trail, he dashed off in that direction.
Halfway through, he halted as he heard the sound of snoring. Creeping forward quietly, he found the warden sleeping at the desk of his office with the door ajar. Sirius shifted back to his human form and stepped forward to close the door. There was a high probability that a dementor would get in and possibly kiss the man in his sleep. Sirius personally did not have anything against the kindly old man as he was generally a civil fellow unlike most of the guards.
However, that did not stop him from filching the wand sticking out of the old man's pocket nor did it prevent him from snagging the large sandwich at his desk.
Stunning the man for good measure, Sirius wolfed down the sandwich and stepping outside, closed the door, locking it with a Colloportus for good measure. He was lucky that the borrowed wand was responding to him, albeit slightly reluctantly. Pocketing the wand and transforming back, he set off on his original quest.
His nose led him to the far wall where a semi-circular opening was built into the area where the wall met the floor. The opening was too low for a human to crawl through and barred. But for a dog as thin as he ... the bars were just wide enough for him to squeeze through.
After a lot of wiggling, Sirius soon found himself outside the fortress on a cliff. There was an empty stretch of land that was barely big enough to fit him. Creeping closer to the edge, he looked down. From what he could see through his limited vision, it was a sheer drop down into the North Sea.
Taking a deep breath, both physically and mentally, the Animagus hurled himself off the cliff down to the black waters below, hoping that this won't kill him.
The cold water was a shock to his system, winding him. But he rallied and through sheer determination fought his way to the surface. Once his head broke the surface, he wasted no time and started powering his way through the waves, using his canine instincts to guide him towards the mainland.
Sirius soldiered on with a grim determination, fighting the cold and exhaustion. Just as he felt as he could go no further, his paws hit seabed. Working on another burst of adrenaline, he surged through the surf and onto the narrow beach, shivering. He only made it a few steps before he collapsed on the sand in exhaustion, as his muscles finally gave up, sleep wasn't far behind as his world turned black.
He awoke late next morning to completely different surroundings. Confused and startled he allowed his canine instincts to take over as he turned around and growled threateningly at the human he sensed approaching, his hackles raised.
'Easy there, boy, easy,' said the old man a good cautious distance away from the dog. Sirius then noticed he was holding a dish containing chunks of meat. The sight of the food bought Sirius back to his senses as he calmed down.
'There's a good fella,' said the man as he slowly approached the dog in front of him. Hoping that he was doing what a normally friendly dog would do, Sirius wagged his tail a bit and let out a quiet woof before attacking the food in front of him. Chuckling, the old man scratched Sirius's head.
In the two days he spent there, Sirius found out from John, the old man who had found him passed out on the beach that he was now in Whitby, a Muggle town not too far off from the drop off point to Azkaban. He also found out that his disappearance had been almost immediately noticed when he saw his own face staring back at him in that contraption those Muggles loved to watch.
Deciding that it would be best to make himself scarce, he quietly Apparated away in the dead of the night to London to his childhood home. As much as he loathed going there, he knew that number 12 Grimmauld Place was perfect because each brick of the old townhouse was saturated with protective enchantments.
Not bothering to enter the old house, he quickly shifted forms and silently streaked away into the night.
It took him a few days and a bit of searching, but he finally managed to get to Petunia's house in Surrey. He wanted to check on his godson first before heading back up north towards Hogwarts.
As he was skulking close to the street where Petunia lived, he stopped suddenly when he heard footsteps approaching along with the sounds of something heavy being dragged. Hiding in the bushes, he was surprised to find what only could be his godson angrily dragging his heavy school trunk behind him. Sirius drank in Harry's features as he slunk closer to the boy who was now slumped against a low wall. The dog in him could smell the anger along with a hint of fear that was slowly building. Although he was a bit on the painfully thin side, there was no doubt that the boy was James's son. The resemblance was uncanny. It was almost as if he were looking back in time. Even the mannerisms displayed by the son, when he was rummaging in his trunk, were similar to the jerky movements that James displayed when he was angry.
Blinded by the sudden light coming out from the boy's wand, Sirius instinctively stepped back at the same time the thirteen year old wizard stepped back in shock a finding a hulking beast of a dog staring back at him. Only the boy tripped over his open trunk accidentally summoning the Knight Bus.
Sirius watched, with his heart in his mouth, as the bus came within inches of running over his godson. Breathing a sigh of relief as the boy managed to scramble away in the nick of time, Sirius immediately slunk back into the shadows quietly padding away from the boy and the bus.
He could not afford to Apparate directly to Hogsmeade right now as he did not know what security measures the Ministry had placed around the village. And so he travelled as Padfoot, sticking as close as possible to the train tracks leading towards Hogsmeade from Kings Cross, his only point of reference as he had no idea what villages or towns came before the magical village. Occasionally, he would sneak into the nearest town for food and some news. Initially he would snoop around in human form at the dead of the night so he could reach places the dog couldn't. It nearly got him caught again when a Muggle spotted him once just outside a town very close to Hogsmeade. Running as quickly as he could, he got out of sight and changed forms just as the first contingent of dementors descended on the village. It was there that he found out about Fudge's Kiss-on-sight orders as well as the fact that the dementors were very angry at him having escaped.
Once the dementors had left, along with the wizards and witches, he continued his journey. After nearly a month of travelling, he finally made it to Hogsmeade where he settled down at the Forbidden Forest, observing the goings on at the school.
His first attempt on capturing Pettigrew was on Halloween. He felt it fitting as it was the same day that his life had gone to hell, courtesy of Peter Pettigrew. Additionally, if things hadn't changed at the school, and he knew they hadn't, then everybody would be down in the Great Hall, stuffing themselves silly. The thought of all that food made his stomach churn and his head swim. The smell that assaulted his nose as he made his way to the Gryffindor Tower did not help matters. Perhaps, he could pretend to be a lovable stray and get some normal food? Anything would be better than the rats and other small mammals he had been hunting down and eating raw. It was a good thing that a dog's taste buds were markedly different than a human's otherwise he'd have died from starvation in Azkaban. The dog had no problems snapping up the odd rat or mouse that invariably found its way into the cell. Nor did it mind the food given to the prisoners by the guards.
He smoothly changed to human form, stumbling only slightly as he adjusted to the change in his gait. Rounding the deserted corridor, he took a moment to survey his surroundings. As he remembered it, the Fat Lady's Portrait was hanging at the end of the corridor which was otherwise devoid of any other portraits.
Seeing that the Fat Lady's back was turned as she was occupied with a mirror, he darted forward. Bringing up his wand, he unleashed a cutting curse, slashing the portrait before she had a chance to scream. Unfortunately, he was not quick enough for the Fat Lady had caught a glimpse of the curse headed towards her. Displaying reflexes not expected in a woman of her dimensions, she jumped out of the way at the very last moment, leaving her frame. Sirius could hear her screaming through the walls. Knowing he had little time, he tried to open the ruined portrait. Only to find out that the portrait, which normally swung open easily was practically stuck to the wall. Cursing, Sirius tried a couple of spells on the portrait, none of which worked. Obviously the person who had designed the entrances to the common rooms had foreseen forced entry and had specifically created the appropriate countermeasures. Cursing, Sirius ran out of there as fast as he could. The feast would end soon and then getting out would be hard.
His first failed attempt had sapped a lot of energy. He was not used to running fast seeing as he had been spending twelve years in a small cell. His journey from London to Hogwarts really did not count as it had been accomplished when he was Padfoot. The dog had built up stamina and muscles from all that travelling, but that did not carry over into his human body which was still unused to the exertion. What was worse was that now the dog was tired. He now remembered that this was covered in the books they had perused when studying about Animagi. The full grasp of the theory escaped him, but the gist of it was that the state of the human body reflected the state of his animal form. This was one sided, so any injuries he suffered as a dog disappeared when he transformed while any injuries he suffered as a human were seen in the dog. The same held true for any benefits as well.
This was why none of the teachers suspected anything as they never did have any bite or scratch marks after their romps every full moon. This also meant that now, after his first transformation in weeks, since he was last spotted in that village, the dog which used to be thin was now skeletal. And while the stamina and speed of the dog was still greater than that of a human's, it was still pretty low for a dog.
Cursing himself for this oversight, Sirius took to building up his strength using his human body. He would use magic to hunt down live game, recalling his skills from all the hunting trips his Uncle Arcturus and Mr Potter had taken him on when he was younger. Before his first attempt at catching Pettigrew, he was wary of using the wand that he had stolen. After all, its theft was definitely going to be noticed. He had no idea if the Ministry had developed a method to track the wand's usage yet. Now, however, since every wizard and their kneazle knew that Sirius Black was near Hogwarts by now, and not somewhere else, he had no problems using the wand. And even if they could pin his location down, there was no way anybody was going to brave the legendary Forbidden Forest to catch him! Not when he was deep within the forest.
At the same time, he limited the usage of magic to just hunting, going so far as to light fires the Muggle way. There was no reason to tempt fate. As soon as he had some amount of stamina built up, he started hunting as a dog while eating as a human, forgoing the use of his wand altogether.
The only time he had even ventured near civilization was to get updates on the goings on at Hogwarts thanks to his new friend, who he decided to name Ginger. It was pretty sad that the only thing willing to listen to him and help him was a half kneazle-half cat. And that too one that looked like it had tried to bring a wall down with its face. Evidently, Persians and Kneazles were not meant to interbreed. The result wasn't too appealing.
Not that he was going to be saying that to his little friend.
Of course, communicating with his feline friend was pretty tedious. Sirius's Animagus abilities did not gift him the ability to communicate with animals. So he was reduced to playing twenty questions with the cat. At least the kneazle genes gave the animal enough intelligence to understand Sirius. After all, no normal moggy would be able to understand the words 'Bring me this rat!' properly when shown a newspaper clipping.
Not being able to resist the temptation, he ventured forth into the Quidditch Pitch to watch his godson play. The boy flew as well as his father. In fact, Sirius was sure that Harry would give James a run for his money. James would never be able to fly in such conditions. He would know.
He nearly got another heart attack when the dementors came swarming in and Harry fell off his broom. He heaved another sigh of relief when the teachers managed to slow the fall down. Otherwise, he was halfway towards shifting back.
He ran back into the forest as fast as he could. Idly he wondered if the Dementors had come to the pitch because they could sense him.
Sirius learnt later on that the broom Harry was using had been blown by the heavy winds into the Whomping Willow. It was then that he had the bright idea of getting his godson a gift. Initially, he was tempted to write to the boy, but he knew that it would not be a prudent thing to do. Harry had definitely been fed all those lies about Sirius's supposed betrayal, and Sirius would not put it past him to alert the teachers who might spring a trap for him.
So he decided to get his godson a new racing broom anonymously. It was the least he could do.
Choosing a broom was easy enough. On the back of the newspaper clipping showing Peter's picture was an article of the latest broom in production, the Firebolt. The broom was as fancy as its name, what with the features described in the article. What was more, the "price on request" tag next to the thing meant that it would be another five years or so till the broom's price depreciated enough for the average witch or wizard to be able to afford one. That would mean that Harry would be the only individual who wasn't in a professional Quidditch team to own one. It was definitely the perfect gift for a highly talented and gifted flier and Quidditch player.
After some thinking, Sirius wrote out a letter on some stationary he had Ginger steal from the school.
Dear Quality Quidditch Supplies,
Recently I was involved in a Quidditch accident, because of which, my broom was destroyed. And so I write this letter to you with the intent of purchasing a new broom for myself.
Initially, I wanted to buy another broom of the same make as I dearly liked the quality of the broom. Then I remembered that the Firebolt has come out. After some additional research, I feel that this broom would be the best for me.
And so, I would like to purchase a Firebolt from your fine store. That is, if you have it in stock. Money, obviously, is no object. Would you be kind enough to charge the cost of the broom to vault 711?
Folding the note, Sirius gave the letter to Ginger and told him to send it off to the Owl Office. He figured that nobody would really know, or care, that Harry Potter did not own vault 711, nor would they care that the letter was rather verbose for a thirteen year old. The fact that the teenage celebrity had ordered the most expensive item in Quality Quidditch Supplies would be enough to give the owner an orgasm and make him see Galleon figures dancing in front of him all the way till Christmas. Hell, the manager of the store might even throw in a discount for selling a broom to such a high-profile individual.
The price wasn't much of a problem for Sirius as his Uncle Alphard had left quite a decent sum of money for him to use.
The next morning, he got quite a shock when he found an owl in front of him. Opening the letter, a momentary chill went down his spine when he saw who it was from.
Dear Mr Black,
This letter is to confirm your approval of a bank transfer to the vault owned by the establishment "Quality Quidditch Supplies". Please sign on the dotted line to approve this transfer if you find the amount listed in the attached slip to be correct. A notification shall be sent immediately to Mr Oldham, the proprietor, upon doing so.
Sirius gulped and continued reading the letter.
Your attempt at using a different name, while brilliant (Sirius could almost feel the sarcasm coming out from that word) was ultimately foiled as I recognise your ... distinctive handwriting when the letter was forwarded to my desk, seeing as I am the manager of your accounts. You should be thankful that the Ministry does not deem it necessary to watch your vaults (as if they could ever come close to the bank to do so) and that the Goblins do not view you as a convict as you haven't got a warrant against your name.
Also please do inform me when you plan on coming over and claiming the headship of the Black Family.
Well there was a bit of good news Sirius thought, laughing in relief. He nearly thought his location had been discovered when he first saw the letter. So great was his relief, that he barely flinched upon reading the exorbitant amount of money that he was going to be sending Mr Oldham's way. The cheap bastard hadn't even bothered with the discount! In fact, Sirius was sure that he had jacked up the price. No broom should cost that much!
Just to be sure, Sirius Apparated himself and the owl to a secluded spot he remembered in Edinburgh. After signing the letter, he attached it to the now disgruntled owl that flew off after cuffing him on the head with its wings as it left. Not wasting time, Sirius quickly Apparated back to his spot in the Forest before shifting forms and loping away.
Act I Scene III
In the next few days leading up to January, Sirius managed to find out why he was still the head of the Black Family. Though there was nothing he could do with the money or the information he knew was there in the Family Vaults. Not until he got Pettigrew.
Near the end of January, he had a breakthrough in the Pettigrew front. As he was skulking around in his Animagus form just at the border near Hogwarts's grounds, he overheard a conversation between two boys.
'That portrait of Cadogan is a menace I tell you!' the first boy said to his friend, as he kicked a rock aimlessly. Sirius could detect a hint of an Irish accent in his voice.
The other boy, a dark skinned lad, snorted, 'Yeah, he keeps changing the bloody password twice every day! I'm having a hard enough time remembering what the password is half the bloody time. At least Black won't be getting in now!'
'Screw Black, we'll be lucky to be able to get in.' the first boy said humourlessly. Suddenly he spoke up, 'Did you hear that Neville managed to get all the passwords of the week from Cadogan?'
'Really?' his friend asked. 'Wow ... that is pretty smart of him.' He sounded surprised. 'Though, I doubt he'd remember them! It's a miracle he can remember where his clothes are to begin with!'
'Well, apparently he wrote them down to ensure that he didn't forget them. At least that's what I heard.'
Any further conversation was lost to the wind as the boys meandered back to the castle. But Sirius had all the information he needed. It seemed that Frank and Alice's boy was in Gryffindor with his godson. He wondered if the two were friends. It also seemed that Neville had inherited his mother's absentmindedness. Sirius could recount quite a few stories off the top of his head about Alice's memory problems. She had outgrown that by fifth year though.
Later that day, he sat against a tree in his human body with Ginger curled up on his lap. As he fed some scraps of his meal to the feline (who knew that kneazle-Persian hybrids liked deer?) he asked him some questions.
'Do you know who Neville Longbottom is?'
The moggy purred at the question. From his previous conversations with the cat, Sirius knew that the answer was a 'yes'.
'He's got all the passwords for the week written down in a scrap of parchment. Do you think you can get that?'
Ginger seemed to consider the question before purring again.
'Great, will you be able to get it by tomorrow?'
'No? Okay then, how about the day after?'
Sirius smiled as Ginger purred. 'Now that's a good boy,' he said as he stroked the spot behind Ginger's ear he knew the feline loved scratching. 'Here, have some more deer.'
The first few hours of the first Sunday of February saw the hump of a statue of a humpbacked witch slide open as the black form of a dog silently jumped out. Sirius Black silently stalked through the darkened corridors of Hogwarts, quickly approaching Gryffindor Tower. He estimated that the party that the Gryffindors had to celebrate their victory against Ravenclaw would have wound up by now. Old McGonagall at least would have ensured that if the students didn't.
Stopping outside the portrait he observed the portrait of a short squat knight dozing against the belly of a snoring fat pony as his ears pricked forward, hoping to discern any noise from the common room within.
Taking a deep breath, he shifted back and, hoping for the best, extricated the scrap of parchment with the written passwords.
The portrait's eyes opened as Sirius cleared his throat. Clanking loudly, the knight got up and declared, 'I say, who goes there?' Suddenly drawing a sword that was longer than he was tall, the man continued in a voice that Sirius felt was unnecessarily loud, 'Declare yourself or face my wrath!'
Sirius was amused. He vaguely remembered this portrait. If he wasn't mistaken, it was hung at the North Tower. They never did have the time to examine it though. A pity, really ... James would have found him amusing.
'Sir Knight, I request entrance to yon chambers that you have been charged with guarding.' Sirius said grandly. The prospect of catching Pettigrew was so exhilarating that he found himself in good spirits.
'Indeed, sir? Well, I only let those with the proper password enter the hallowed chambers within. Unless you have the password, I suggest you move along. Or you shall meet the end of my blade!' at this the knight swung his sword violently, causing him to overbalance and fall over.
Sirius watched as the knight reached for his sword, no doubt to use it to stand up. Suddenly with his hand near the hilt, the knight stopped and muttering, 'Oh no, not this time,' pushed himself from the ground.
Shaking his head, Sirius started from the top, 'Right, Scurvy cur.' He looked at the portrait enquiringly.
'No that is not the password, though that is what you are.' The portrait replied.
Rolling his eyes, Sirius read the next one, 'Oddsbodikins.'
'Tuesday's password. Tuesday morning to be precise.'
Grumbling, Sirius went down a few more words. 'Seriously, you actually used these for passwords?' he said incredulously as he looked at the list. 'How has McGonagall not noticed?' some of the words there were rather rude. If McGonagall had caught him saying any of the words in school, he was sure he would have had his mouth washed out. He doubted that the students were complaining though. The little buggers probably thought it was brilliant as they broke into fits of giggling when saying the passwords.
Complaining indistinctly to himself, he came upon what he thought would be the password, 'Piss-artist' he said, rolling his eyes. As the portrait swung open, he shook his head and entered.
The common room was empty and clean. Sirius heaved a sigh of relief at that. He did not want to be seen by the house-elves.
Sneaking up, he went up the staircase to the boys' dormitory. Opening the door marked third years he drew his wand and started peeking through the curtains. The first one had a sandy haired boy. His godson was in the second one, sprawled out and looking a lot like James did. Shaking himself out of the onslaught of memories, he moved onto the third bed. There, snoring loudly through an open mouth was Pettigrew's "owner"
Grinning, Sirius ripped open the curtains, looking at the bedside table and searching intently for the rat. Not seeing it there, he looked at the bedclothes... Still no rat. Cursing he looked again, using the moonlight to see properly. His eyes slowly travelled up the bed, taking in every detail and hoping to spot the rat.
Here peteypeteypeteypetey he thought to himself a hungry look on his face. Looking at the pillow intently, he suddenly saw a pair of blue eyes sleepily staring back at him...
Sirius was halfway to the door by the time he heard the first high pitched warbling screams coming from a voice that had not fully cracked. By the time the others had woken up, he was running full pelt down the corridor and to the statue, transforming midway.
Another failed attempt.
If security wasn't bad before, it was definitely worse now. Sirius heard that the teachers had now doubled the patrol shifts, involving prefects and ghosts as well.
He also hadn't found the rat. But he wasn't disheartened. Peter was too cowardly to run off somewhere else. There were quite a few predators out there that would happily snack on a rat. Hogwarts and the ginger boy were his best hopes of staying alive and hidden as a rat. It would only be a matter of time...
He decided to wait till the end of the school year at the school. If that failed, he could follow the boy to his house and then try his luck there. Perhaps Pettigrew will have become complacent enough by then.
He didn't have to wait that long. Fate finally seemed to favour him when he saw the same lanky boy struggling with something small. As the thing escaped and started running away followed by the owner, Sirius knew that it was Pettigrew. Ginger seemed to agree as he too started chasing Pettigrew. He didn't even think. Transforming, he rushed at the boy just as he caught hold of the rat.
Many minutes later, after months of planning, and two failed attempts, he was now staring down at the man who had betrayed his friends and framed him clutched in the hands of one of Arthur Weasley's many children as Lupin (he refused to think of him as Remus anymore) told the kids the whole story.
When the door had opened of its own accord, Sirius knew that somebody invisible had entered the room. He had seen James do it often enough. The fresh set of footprints on the otherwise dusty floor was further proof. Whoever it was, was an adult, judging by the size of the feet, and a complete novice in using Invisibility Cloaks. After all, tiptoeing through the dusty section of the floor like that where your footsteps can easily be seen was a very amateurish mistake.
Making sure to keep his hand on the wand he had pilfered from the warden, he shifted his gaze to the rat as he kept a watch on the floor using his peripheral vision. He wanted to be able to see the person hiding under the cloak before cursing him. He had a hunch as to who it was. Years of being in that twit's company had sensitised him to the git's presence. He could practically smell the greasiness emanating from the man's hair. He wanted the pleasure of seeing the other man's face before his hex hit him.
'Snape?' he said harshly, taking his eyes off the rat and looking up at Lupin while still keeping an eye on the spot where the invisible man was. 'What's Snape got to do with it?' he asked derisively.
'He's here, Sirius,' said Lupin heavily. 'He's teaching here as well.'
Sirius seethed silently at this bit of news as Lupin explained their history with Snape to the kids. So the slimy git not only got out from being chucked into Azkaban, but also got a nice comfy job offered by the old man himself no doubt. This was another strike against Dumbledore as far as he was concerned. The fact that Lupin here was also teaching wasn't lost on Sirius. His mind started conjuring up images of Snivellus and Lupin being all palsy with each other. From watching the inhabitants of the castle for the past few months, and looking at the way his godson interacted with Lupin, he gathered that Harry did not know Lupin at all. So he wondered what the werewolf had been doing all this time instead of looking out for the son of his best friend like he should have. He had noted the hungry look in his godson's green eyes (looking just like Lily's) upon being told something about his father he should have been told a long time back.
'It served him right,' he sneered after Lupin bought up the events of their sixth year at Hogwarts. 'Sneaking around, trying to find out what we were up to … hoping he could get us ex pelled. …' Initially Sirius had been horrified at what he had done. But now ... his only regret was that James had bothered saving Snape. And quite frankly, now that he thought about it, he really hadn't done anything wrong, per se. All he had done was tell the idiot how to freeze the Whomping Willow. Snape had figured out by himself that there was a passage at the base of the tree, and what was most probably on the other end. He certainly couldn't help it if Snape was stupid enough to blithely waltz down that pathway without even thinking of being cautious.
When Snivellus finally revealed himself, Sirius inwardly rolled his eyes. The git was as greasy as ever. And he was just as childish and melodramatic as before too. Not to mention quite malicious and petty seeing as he was preparing to have Sirius kissed on principle. Some things never change.
When the "good professor" (Sirius still could not believe that this malicious mendacious moron was teaching children) was distracted with shouting at Harry, predictably turning his back to Sirius and forgetting his immediate surroundings, the prison escapee made to remove his wand and curse the git in the back but was cut to the quick when his godson showed a surprising quickness and agility and cursed the git in his face! Sirius was never more proud of his godson than at that moment ... why the last time he felt this was when his godson had looked at him with those big green eyes and said "daddy" ... much to James's shocked disbelief (of course, he never knew that Sirius had been spending two whole weeks teaching the sprog to say that the next time the kid saw him). Now he got to see the lad cast his first spell at Snivellus! It was a moment that needed to be cherished. The look on Snivellus' face before the disarming charm hit him only served to double the sweetness of the moment. And the fact that the git got cursed not only by one, but three thirteen year olds when he himself was a professor made this moment so sweet that Sirius was sure that he would end up with that Muggle disease Lily said her parents had. Dia-something ... it was related to sweets.
Shaking out of his revere, he let go of the wand hidden in a sheath in his sleeve as he bent down to untie Remus. He had a feeling that he being seemingly disarmed was an edge that was going to be crucial here. It did prevent Snape from trying to bind him, after all.
'You should have let me handle him,' he protested weakly to Harry, trying to keep the pride from showing in his voice.
Letting Lupin stand up, he hid the anger and bitterness he was feeling at his former friend when the other man had the gall to act as if nothing had happened. As if he had never sent that hate-filled letter to Sirius condemning him and breaking off their friendship. Lupin, like everybody else, would get what was coming to him. For now, he had to prove his innocence.
'You know, Sirius, that's a fair question,' said Lupin, turning to him and frowning slightly. 'How did you find out where he was?'
Hearing that, Sirius nearly lost his patience. For fuck's sake, get on with it already! He screamed in his mind. Reining his emotions in with a supreme effort, he extricated the newspaper Fudge had given him so long back and told them the story of his discovery. This soon led to a discussion of the intelligent and helpful half kneazle Sirius had met and befriended in the forest and that again led to rehashing the events of the past year which finally culminated in reliving the events of that tragic night that had led to this entire mess. If Sirius wasn't so wracked with the sorrow for what he had inadvertently caused and the results of his decisions, he would be pulling his hair out in frustration. While he did not hold himself directly responsible, he still felt guilty for failing his best friend and his family. What was more, he also held himself responsible for running off half-cocked to hunt Peter down instead of staying and caring for Harry like he should have done instead of sending him to that manipulative and undoubtedly traitorous old man.
'Enough of this,' he heard Lupin say with a steely note in his voice 'There's one certain way to prove what really happened. Ron, give me that rat.'
'What are you going to do with him if I give him to you?' The Weasley boy, Ron asked Lupin tensely.
'Force him to show himself,' said Lupin. 'If he really is a rat, it won't hurt him.'
Ron hesitated. Then at last ... at long last, he finally held out the rat to Lupin who took him. Sirius watched hungrily as Peter began to squeak without stopping, twisting and turning, his tiny black eyes bulging in his head.
'Ready, Sirius?' said Lupin.
'Sure' Sirius replied through gritted teeth. He had decided to take Snape's wand for this operation. That way, if he were to, hypothetically, say, send a Killing Curse at the rat, the whole thing would be pinned on Snivellus. Also if the wand were to hypothetically snap into two, he would have a backup.
Everything was hypothetical at this moment.
Finally, seeing Peter being forced into his human form after all these years had Sirius feeling a sense of immense jubilation. The end of his N.E.W.T.s did not even begin to compare to this feeling.
'Well, hello, Peter,' said Lupin pleasantly, as though rats fre quently erupted into old school friends around him. 'Long time, no see.'
'S — Sirius … R — Remus …' said Pettigrew in that squeaky voice of his that so annoyed Sirius as his eyes darted toward the door. 'My friends … my old friends …'
At this Sirius saw red. The nerve of that man! He raised his wand arm intending to teach the bastard some manners when he was halted by Lupin who gave him a warning look.
Seething, Sirius lowered the wand while sending the werewolf a filthy look that the other man did not notice. Sure, stick up for him. You were his friend first after all, he thought resentfully. He recalled that he and James weren't too keen on befriending the pudgy boy in school. It was only due to Remus' insistence that they had done so.
It took a bit of time, but eventually despite Peter's vehement protests and efforts to keep the frame up, the truth finally came out, and Harry finally believed Sirius's version of events. This caused a smile to break out on his face as the one person who he had done this for, the one person who he had hung onto his sanity for finally believed him and not the lies everybody else was feeding him.
Sirius watched dispassionately as Pettigrew started grovelling and begging for his life. He wasn't about to kill the rat. After all, he wanted his name to be cleared first. But it was pretty funny watching the man beg for his life.
He kicked out as Pettigrew made to touch his robes.
'There's enough filth on my robes without you touching them,' he sneered. His right hand curled into a fist as the rat then tried one last time to convince Lupin that Sirius was the spy.
'Shall we kill him, Sirius?' said Lupin nonchalantly as he rolled up his sleeves.
'No,' said Sirius coldly. Hearing that word, Lupin looked at him in surprise while Peter who was in the middle of grovelling for his life stopped mid-crawl halfway towards Ron, a surprised look on his face.
'Th-thank you, Sirius,' Pettigrew blubbered. Before he could say more, however, Sirius flicked his wand, lifting the rat up and flinging him against the far wall with a pained squeal. Sirius ignored the scream Harry's female friend (Herwhiny, or something) let out at the sudden violence as he stepped up to the blubbering man.
'I did not do this for you,' he snarled as he sent a stinging hex at the pathetic man in front of him eliciting another painful squeal from his former friend. 'I did it because I do not wish to lower myself to your level, Death Eater!' he spat the last two words out making Pettigrew cringe.
Breathing hard, he looked at the man in front of him for a moment; the urge to kill the traitor was still there regardless of what he had said. 'You sold Lily and James to Voldemort,' Sirius finally said, his voice soft but deadly. 'Do you deny it?'
Pettigrew burst into tears. It was horrible to watch, like an over sized, balding baby, cowering on the floor.
'Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done? The Dark Lord … you have no idea … he has weapons you can't imagine. … I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James. I never meant it to happen. … He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named forced me —'
'DON'T LIE!' Sirius bellowed, his temper finally getting the best of him. 'YOU'D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!'
'He — he was taking over everywhere!' gasped Pettigrew. 'Wh — what was there to be gained by refusing him?'
'What was there to be gained by fighting the most evil wizard who has ever existed?' Sirius replied, with a terrible fury in his face. 'Only innocent lives, Peter!'
'You don't understand!' whined Pettigrew. 'He would have killed me, Sirius!'
'THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!' Sirius bellowed in response as he let a cutting curse loose on the coward in front of him. 'DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!'
Pettigrew cried out in pain, clutching his leg as the curse opened up a gash from his shin to his knee.
Breathing deeply, Sirius continued in a calmer tone. 'I would love to end your pathetic, miserable life right here on the spot, Peter.' He spat his former friend's name out in malice. 'But frankly, you are currently more useful to me alive than dead.' Saying this, he bound Peter's hands together.
Reaching down, he frisked the rat, not bothering to hide the disgust he felt as he went through Pettigrew's pockets. The shirt and trousers he was wearing were the same the rat had worn when he had framed Sirius. They hadn't been washed since then and were filthy!
Finally, Sirius found two wands and what definitely was a Portkey. 'Harry, come here, please,' he said over his shoulder.
Wrapping the Portkey in a piece of cloth taken from Pettigrew's trousers (Sirius may or may not have cut Pettigrew's leg in the process of cutting the cloth out) he turned to his godson who approached him, Sirius noted with approval how he kept one eye trained on the snivelling coward behind him.
'Um, Sirius,' Harry said hesitatingly. 'Why are you wrapping up a rubber ducky?'
'Because I have good reason to believe that this is a Portkey, I don't know if it is reusable or active, so I'm wrapping it up to be safe.' Sirius replied evenly. Seeing Harry's confused look, he said hastily, 'I'll explain later, for now, just hold these for me will you?' saying that, he handed the two wands along with the Portkey.
When Harry took the wands, an odd look came on his face as he held the longer wand.
'What is it?' Sirius said noticing the look.
'It's nothing,' Harry said as he looked at the longer wand. 'It's just that the wand feels ... familiar ... as if it is a friend that I have never met, yet not ... you know what I mean?' Sirius looked at the wand in question. It was the strange wand he remembered Peter had with him. Now that he had the time to look at it, Sirius wondered how Peter managed to get his hands on such a fine specimen. The owner had covered the wand in intricate pictures made of gold leaf and had covered the hilt in leather made from the hide of a Welsh Green. Sirius had seen something similar on his parents' wands, so had a feeling that Peter had probably stolen this from some wealthy pureblood. For all he knew, the rat had killed the wizard before taking the wand.
For a moment, Sirius thought that this was James's wand. Then reason took over. He knew his friend well; firstly, James would not have done this to his wand as he wouldn't have had the time and traditionally wizards added such decorations on their sixty-first birthday as it meant that the wand had been in their possession for half a century. Secondly, the colouring and length of the wood was all wrong. Sirius knew that James had a wand made of Mahogany. This wand was lighter in colour and was nearly two inches longer than the length of his friend's wand.
Shrugging, Sirius said, 'If the wand works, then I suggest that you keep it with you as a backup, just in case.' Noticing the peculiar look Pettigrew was giving the wand in question, Sirius added, 'And keep its existence a secret. Nobody is to know that you have two wands. And I mean nobody, am I clear?' A quick glance told him that the other conscious occupants in the room were busy with Harry's ginger friend's leg.
Harry looked into Sirius's eyes for a long moment before agreeing.
'Good boy,' Sirius whispered approvingly before standing up. The way the boy's face lit up at the praise did not go unnoticed by him.
'Right,' Lupin said standing up. 'We should probably start moving to Hogwarts.' He helped Ron up who now had his leg bandaged. Sirius felt a slight pang of guilt at the part he had played in breaking the leg in the first place, but that feeling was dismissed. The situation called for it, and it was only a broken leg. It could easily be fixed with a bit of magic.
'What about Professor Snape?' said the girl (he really should work on figuring out her name) in a small voice, looking down at Snape's prone figure. Sirius snorted at this, he never thought he would see the day that the words "Severus Snape" and "professor" would be used together.
'There's nothing seriously wrong with him,' said Lupin, bend ing over Snape and checking his pulse. 'You were just a little — overenthusiastic. Still out cold. Er — perhaps it will be best if we don't revive him until we're safely back in the castle. We can take him like this. …'
He muttered, 'Mobilicorpus.' As though invisible strings were tied to Snape's wrists, neck, and knees, he was pulled into a standing position, head still lolling unpleasantly, like a grotesque puppet. He hung a few inches above the ground, his limp feet dangling. Lupin picked up the Invisibility Cloak and made to put it in his pocket when Sirius interrupted. 'I think Harry should have that, it is his after all, isn't it?' A glance at the boy proved his assumption to be right.
'Erm, alright,' said Lupin slightly startled as he handed the cloak to the boy who took it with a muttered 'thanks.'
'I think two of us should be chained to this ... thing,' Sirius said, kicking his prisoner as he said the last word. 'Just in case,' he looked down at Pettigrew with contempt and bestowed a second kick on principle.
'I'll do it,' said Lupin. Ron immediately echoed Lupin.
'Yeah' Sirius drawled, drawing the word out. 'No.'
'No offence kid,' he said to Ron who bristled with all the righteousness of someone who had entered puberty. 'But you can barely walk on your own. You are not in any condition to escort a fully grown and able Death Eater.' He put heavy emphasis on the last two words, punctuating them with another kick at the aforementioned Death Eater.
'I guess you're right,' Ron said sulkily.
'And do you really think that I can be trusted with floating the unconscious body of Severus Snape?' he said to Lupin after a moment of thinking. For some reason he did not want Lupin to be shackled to the traitor. Not only did he no longer trust the werewolf, but his gut told him that it would be a terribly bad idea.
'That's a good point,' said Lupin, after he thought about it.
So in the end, Sirius and Harry ended up chained to Pettigrew while Hermione decided to help Ron who, miraculously, seemed to have suddenly lost his sulky expression.
Harry had never been part of a stranger group. Crookshanks led the way down the stairs; he, Pettigrew, and Sirius went next, looking like entrants in a six-legged race. Ron, who was supported by Hermione followed them, both of them had their wands pointed to Pettigrew's back. Professor Snape, drifting creepily along, his toes hitting each stair as they descended, brought up the rear along with Professor Lupin who was guiding him along.
Getting back into the tunnel was difficult. He, Pettigrew and Sirius had to turn sideways to manage it. Sirius manhandled Pettigrew through the tunnel with quite an amount of violence that Harry suspected was rather deliberate. They finally managed to get through in an awkward single file, followed shortly by the rest of their party.
'You know what this means?' Sirius said abruptly to Harry as they made their slow progress along the tunnel. 'Turning Pettigrew in?'
'You're free,' said Harry.
'Yes …' said Sirius. 'But I'm also — I don't know if anyone ever told you — I'm your godfather.' His mouth was suddenly dry.
'Yeah, I knew that,' said Harry in a tone that was unreadable to his godfather. Sirius, who was looking forwards, stopped and turned around to look at his godson.
'Well … your parents appointed me your guardian,' said Sirius stiffly. 'If anything happened to them …' Goddamit he thought, why was this so hard?
He looked at Harry. The boy seemed cautiously expectant. Well, in for a Knut...
'I'll understand, of course, if you want to stay with your aunt and uncle,' he continued. 'But … well … think about it. Once my name's cleared … if you wanted a … a different home …'
Some sort of explosion took place in the pit of Harry's stomach.
'What — live with you?' he said, accidentally cracking his head on a bit of rock protruding from the ceiling. 'Leave the Dursleys?'
'Of course, I thought you wouldn't want to,' Sirius said quickly. It was possible that Petunia had changed her ways. 'I understand, I just thought I'd —'
'Are you insane?' said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Sirius's. 'Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?'
Sirius stopped again as he turned right around to look at his godson.
'You want to?' he said in slight incredulity. 'You mean it?'
'Yeah, I mean it!' said Harry.
Sirius's gaunt face broke into the first true smile Harry had seen upon it. The difference it made was startling, as though a person ten years younger were shining through the starved mask; for a moment, he was recognizable as the man who had laughed at Harry's parents' wedding.
Sirius on the other hand was disturbed at this. It was obvious that Petunia had not changed and had in fact carried her hatred and jealousy she harboured towards her sister onto her nephew. How else could it explain the fact that Harry was so ready to go live with Sirius, a relative stranger without asking any questions? His observations of the boy were definitely spot on.
They did not speak again until they had reached the end of the tunnel. Crookshanks darted up first; he had evidently pressed his paw to the knot on the trunk, because Harry did not hear the sound of savaging branches as Sirius poked his head up.
Sirius roughly dragged his half of Pettigrew up through the hole, and then helped Harry up. The three of them made their way outside the Whomping Willow as fast as they could, they waited outside the reach of the tree for the rest of their party.
As the other two kids joined them, Sirius looked around him. This was the night that he would be officially free. He breathed in the cool Scottish summer wind, bringing with it all the smells that he associated with summer. The Castle stood in the distance, lit up, shining like a beacon in the darkness. The moon's borrowed sunlight would soon light up the grounds...
Sirius's thoughts abruptly ground to a halt as a chill went down his spine. His eyes widening frantically, he looked up. He suddenly remembered how and why Snape had come down here. Tonight was a full moon night ... and a werewolf was going to be joining them...
Snapping his head to the base of the tree, he spied the greasy head of Severus Snape floating up. At first he thought to summon Snape towards him. His body, following the commands given by his brain, bought up his wand arm. Then he had another thought. Leaving Snape there would kill two birds with one stone so to speak. He would have his vengeance on both Lupin and Snape at the same time. Also the rampaging beast that Lupin would become would be distracted by a warm human body in front of him long enough for the five of them to make it to the castle in safety. Really, opportunities rarely come up like this!
With a smile hidden by the night, Sirius sent off three spells in quick succession. The first spell, the enervating charm, hit Snape, waking the Potions master up long enough to see the second spell, a banisher, hit him square in the chest, sending him rocketing back into the passageway and right into Lupin. The third spell, a light stinging hex, hit the knot on the base of the Whomping Willow with precision, un-freezing the tree and making it impossible for the werewolf to escape.
Harry was puzzled with his godfather's actions. 'What was that about?' he asked in confusion and a hint of awe. The way Sirius had sent off two spells in one sweeping motion of his hand was pretty cool.
'Enervating and banishing charm,' said Sirius succinctly, successfully keeping emotion from showing in his voice. 'The first one woke Snape up and the second one sent him crashing into Lupin.' He did not mention the stinging hex he sent to the tree. He knew that it would not have been noticed as it was very faint and had been easily swallowed up by the night.
'But why would you...' Ron began in confusion. He was cut off by a gasp from Her-ninny (he still wasn't sure what her name was) when the cloud obscuring the full moon passed, revealing the heavenly body in all its glory and bathing the grounds with its silvery light.
'Ron, the moon! But that means ... You put Professor Snape in danger!' she rounded on Sirius, an indignant and accusing look on her face.
'It had to be done,' Sirius said harshly and a hot flush of irritation he wasn't successful in hiding. 'I don't like it either, but I had a choice; do I endanger all of us or just one person? If they had managed to make it out, all six of us would be in danger! Would you rather face a full grown rampaging werewolf by yourself, girl?'
The girl paled at the implication of having to face a full-grown werewolf. 'But there must be something we can do?' she said slightly desperately.
'Unfortunately, no,' Sirius rebuffed her curtly. 'If we had, then your professor Lupin would have followed us out where he would have transformed. Werewolves are extremely agile. And when they see and smell human flesh, they become determined. He would have been on us in a trice. Trust me, I know.'
All three of the teenagers gulped at this bit of information. Sirius sighed as he saw the six pairs of glistening eyes and three trembling lower lips. They were just kids, and they weren't exposed to the reality of this cold cruel world. But they would eventually understand that sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils. 'Look,' he said in a softer tone. 'I made sure to wake Snape up before I sent him inside. So he isn't unconscious. As much as I loathe saying this, he is a capable wizard. He will be able to handle himself. Also, don't forget, the moonlight is what causes the transformation. I reckon that if Lupin stays out of the moon, he won't transform. After all, he hadn't changed despite the moon being up for all this time.'
He knew that he had offered them false hope, but it was the best he could do for the moment. Fortunately the three of them, even the smart whiny one, seemed to accept the explanation.
They started walking as fast as possible towards the castle. 'Really, I cannot believe that he would be so irresponsible,' Sirius said suddenly breaking the silence. 'He has known for all his life how dangerous it is on full moon nights ... yet he came here anyway! Not to mention that he actually wanted to be with you, Pettigrew.' He yanked the manacle binding him to the rat's hand. 'It's almost as if he did the whole thing on purpose!'
'He isn't that bad,' Harry said defensively. Professor Lupin was the best teacher they had so far in Defence. He had also taught Harry how to defend himself against Dementors.
'Maybe,' said Sirius noncommittally. 'I'll just say that he always has been conscientious about when it is going to be a full moon night. I remember once he actually told me that the wolf in him could sense the full moon. You have to admit, it is kind of suspicious, isn't it?' he trailed off.
'Merlin's ... Peter, stop dragging your feet! Alright that's it, we're stopping here.' Sirius said in frustration, bringing the party to a halt near the lake. 'I know you are stalling on purpose. Why, hoping that the werewolf will come and save you? Well, I have a remedy for that!' saying that, he swiftly waved his wand, causing the chains to vanish. Peter had only a scant second to register the disappearance of the manacles securing him to Sirius and Harry before he fell to the floor screaming in agony through his gag as Sirius viciously broke both his legs.
'There,' Sirius grinned malevolently, ignoring Her-whatever's screams at the sudden brutality (Merlin, she did quite a lot of screaming!). 'Now you won't be able to run if you transform! I should have done this earlier, you know. It would have made things simpler!' Turning to the shocked teens, he said, 'What? It is the only way to ensure he doesn't transform and scurry away. It was standard Auror tactics in dealing with dangerous wizards, especially Death Eaters: incapacitate them to prevent them from escaping or trying to kill you. Besides, bones can be mended easily. Now,' he rubbed his hands together, 'I'm going to teach you a fun new spell, you wave your wand like this, and say Levicorpus!' he demonstrated on the newly crippled man at his feet. Pettigrew immediately was yanked up by his mangled legs causing him to fairly howl with agony through his gag as he was hung upside-down.
Harry knew he should be feeling shocked, but he couldn't help but feel impressed by the spell Sirius showed him. It really would be useful when certain annoying blonde gits got in the way...
'Right, now that I have a handle on this one, we'll be able to make it to the castle quicker.'
No sooner had Sirius said this that Harry noticed a black mass moving from the far side of the lake. Dementors! And they were halfway here! Harry did not think twice. He immediately pointed his wand at Ron and repeated the incantation he heard Remus using on Snape. His desperation caused the magic to work properly, yanking Ron up into the air. Not bothering to appreciate his handiwork, Harry started running for the safety of the castle, his ginger friend trailing behind him, screaming at the top of his lungs in one long note. Hermione and Sirius followed with Pettigrew trailing upside-down behind Sirius.
It was a mad rush toward the castle. The dementors were gaining on them, swarming along the edges of the lake. Harry knew that they wouldn't be able to make it in time. He could already feel the cold creeping on him. It would only be a matter of time before the screaming in his head would start. Making a split-second decision, he shouted over his shoulder, 'Hermione, take over!' Without giving his friend time to reply, he skidded to a stop. Ron who had been floating behind him flew by, his movement not stopping in the slightest. Harry jerked his wand, stopping Ron's forward momentum and bringing him back with a snap right into Hermione.
Not bothering to see if she had caught him on time, Harry concentrated with all his might. He knew he should make this work. Failure here wasn't an option. Thinking this, he summoned up a happy thought. Sirius is going to be free, and I'll finally be free of the Dursleys. Thinking of the things he would be able to do away from those odious Muggles and the happiness he would be feeling, he brandished his wand and bellowed, 'EXPECTO PATRONUM!'
Instead of a shapeless mist, a blinding, dazzling, silver animal the size of a horse shot out of his wand. Harry tried to make out what it was as the creature galloped soundlessly towards the dementors. Lowering its head, the Patronus charged, dispersing the swarming dementors. It then started galloping back and forth, forming a barrier. The dementors eventually gave up and retreated, finally disappearing into the night.
The Patronus turned around and cantered back soundlessly towards him. Seeing the antlers on its head, Harry realised that it was a giant stag, as bright as the moonlight. Its hooves made no mark on the ground. As it neared Harry it looked at him with large eyes as it bowed its head.
'Prongs?' said Sirius in a trembling voice as Harry reached out a hand. The stag, however, disappeared before his hand came in contact with it.
'Blimey,' said Ron as Hermione gushed, 'That was really advanced magic, Harry!'
Suddenly, they realised that they were on top of each other. With a yelp, Ron hurriedly rolled off Hermione, grunting as he jarred his leg. Hermione got to her feet quickly and helped Ron up.
The trip to the castle was tame after that. The first person they encountered was Professor McGonagall who was rushing towards the entrance. She had spotted the dementors approaching and after sending the Headmaster, and Professors Flitwick, Sprout and Snape a messenger Patronus, had readied her wand to meet the creatures.
'Professor,' said Sirius casually to the shocked woman. 'Let me reintroduce you to somebody. This upside-down fellow here is Peter Pettigrew! Do you remember him? Short, pudgy, a bit of a baby ... dead? Yeah, as you can see, he is very much alive. Could you please call the current head of the De Em El Ee for me? I believe that the current head happens to be Amelia Bones, if I am not mistaken. We do have some issues to resolve. Perhaps it would be prudent to call the head of Aurors too along with one of his men and a phial of Veritaserum.' He shifted his gaze to Peter, a disgusted expression on his face. 'Better make it a flagon of Veritaserum. The lies spouting out of his traitorous mouth...'
Harry nearly burst out laughing at the look on McGonagall's face. She certainly wasn't expecting the most wanted man in all of wizarding Britain to calmly walk up into the castle with the boy he was suspected of targeting and a dead man he was supposed to have killed.
Just then Professors Sprout and Flitwick arrived. 'Black!' Sprout hissed while Flitwick gave a squeak and before anybody could even blink, the Charms Professor had his wand trained on Sirius, the tip glowing red.
'Wait!' said Harry as he stepped between his Professors and his godfather. 'Professor, Sirius is innocent. He was framed by Pettigrew who faked his death.'
'What?' said Flitwick in confusion as he tried to piece together what the excited boy in front of him was babbling as Sprout said, 'Pettigrew is alive?'
'Yes,' croaked Sirius as he indicated to his captive with his wand. With a jerk of his wand, the wizard in question fell down in a heap, moaning.
'Sweet Merlin, it is Pettigrew!' said Flitwick, nearly dropping his wand.
'Minerva, what is the matter?' said Dumbledore as he appeared in the Entrance Hall. He stopped when he spotted Sirius. His eyes narrowing slightly, he took in all the occupants in the room, shortly spotting Pettigrew.
'I think we should continue this discussion in Minerva's office. Minerva, please alert Cornelius. You will find him in –'
'No,' Sirius's hoarse voice cut Dumbledore off before he could complete his sentence.
'I'm sorry?' Dumbledore said politely.
'The Minister of Magic has no reason to be in this situation. I believe that matters such as this are to be covered by the De Em El Ee and since there is a dangerous dark wizard involved, the Auror office. Ergo, I believe that the heads of both these departments are to be alerted first.' Sirius said, looking coldly at Dumbledore. 'The Minister, for all his lofty and awesome executive powers, is not equipped to deal with purely judicial matters such as this.'
If Dumbledore was taken aback at the tone Sirius used with him, he did not show it. Instead he just inclined his head and said, 'Very well, Minerva, please alert Amelia and Rufus while I show Mr Black and his … hostage to your office. Filius, could you please get Madame Pomfrey? Tell her she has a few broken legs to mend. Pomona, could you call Severus? Have him bring the strongest batch of Truth Serum with him.'
'There is no need for that, Dumbledore,' said Sirius harshly. 'I am sure Amelia or this Rufus person would be willing to get a Ministry trained Potions Master to supply them with a phial of Veritaserum. Why use a school teacher when the Ministry has specifically trained people for the job? No offence,' he added to the teachers standing there with their eyebrows raised. 'I know how brilliant some of you are, but it would not be fair on the school to use its resources on a non-school related issue. After all, it is an expensive potion to be using.' He glanced at Dumbledore as he made that last jibe. Unfortunately for him, the headmaster showed no reaction to it. No doubt he had forgotten.
Mollified, the teachers agreed with Sirius's statement, prompting Dumbledore to ask Minerva to ask Amelia to bring in their resident Potions expert.
Dumbledore then asked Professor Flitwick to call Madame Pomfrey and directed Professor Sprout to look for Professor Snape. He then led the group up to Professor McGonagall's office where he conjured additional chairs for all the occupants. Sirius took one of the two wooden seats in front of the desk, unceremoniously dropping Peter on the other one and tying him up with enough manacles and ropes to risk redundancy. Harry took one of the conjured armchairs next to Sirius while Ron and Hermione sat on the other two armchairs next to him. Ron stretched his broken leg out on the soft ottoman that Dumbledore conjured for him. Sirius then placed Snape's wand on the table. He then, under Dumbledore's watchful eyes, slowly reached into his left sleeve and placed another wand that Harry did not know he had on the table. Turning to Harry, Sirius said with a neutral face and voice, 'Harry could you please put Pettigrew's wand and the suspected Portkey on the table?'
Harry caught the meaning of his words, and extricated Pettigrew's wand and the wrapped up ducky from his pockets, leaving the other wand in his pocket. He had no idea why Sirius insisted he keep it, but wasn't about to complain. He did like the wand well enough. It did not feel as good as the wand that he owned, though.
No sooner had they settled down did Madame Pomfrey enter. 'Albus,' she said, 'Filius told me that some people needed tending to...' catching sight of Sirius, she fairly shrieked, 'Sirius Black!'
'In the flesh ... what little of it remains,' Sirius said waving a thin arm.
'Calm down Poppy, there is no need to panic,' said Dumbledore. 'Messrs Pettigrew and Weasley do require your services, however.'
'Pettigrew, as in Peter Pettigrew?' the matron said in disbelief. Looking at the bound man, she gasped as she recognised him. It had been years later since she last saw a picture of him in the newspaper, but there was no mistaking the snivelling balding man trussed up in a bevy of chains and ropes in front of her.
Quickly slipping on her professional face, she bent down over Ron's leg. 'A clean break,' she muttered to herself. 'It can be easily fixed.' With that she waved her wand and muttered an incantation as she tapped her wand directly on the break. Ron winced in momentary pain as the bones rearranged and repaired themselves.
As Pomfrey was turning towards Pettigrew, Sirius stopped her saying, 'No, not yet. I want an anti-transforming spell placed on him. He is an Animagus and can turn into a rat. I will not have him escaping now.'
'And why would he want to do that, Black?' asked McGonagall as she entered, a severe expression on her face. Just behind her was another woman with short grey hair, a monocle and an expression mirroring McGonagall's, a tall man who looked like an old lion, a dark skinned bald man and finally, most intimidating of all, an old grizzled man who seemed to be made up of spare parts and scars.
'Black!' grunted the grizzled old man, looking at Sirius with a dangerous glint in his original beady black eye. The electric blue eye which had Harry transfixed swivelled around the office before it came to rest on Pettigrew. 'Pettigrew?' the man said in shock, after looking at the man closer. Both his eyes widened in shock upon recognising a supposedly dead man.
'Alastor,' Sirius said neutrally. 'I see you have ... changed. Frankly I am surprised that you are still working as an Auror. Isn't it past your retirement, old man?'
Alastor grunted humourlessly, 'I retired a year back. The only reason I'm here is because I was with Rufus here asking to be let in on the hunt for you when Minerva here came calling with quite a wild story. Naturally I elected to come along. And I'm not so old that I cannot wipe the floor with you yet, Black, so watch that gob of yours!' he speared Sirius with a menacing glare with his normal eye while the fake one glared at Pettigrew. Just then Harry noticed the wand the grizzled old man had trained on Sirius the whole time.
'Gentlemen, how about we get down to business?' said the monocle wearing witch in a booming voice, effectively cutting off any further conversation. 'You said that this is Pettigrew, Minerva?' getting a nod from Professor McGonagall, she continued, 'What about you, Professors Dumbledore, Sprout and Flitwick?' getting an affirmative nod from the people in question she said dryly 'Obviously Alastor concurs,' she ignored the rude snort coming from Alastor as she spoke to the room at large. 'Well, I have to wonder then what a dead man is doing very much alive.'
'That is the same thing we were wondering too, Amelia,' said Dumbledore. 'And for that, I think we would need to get some Veritaserum to get to the whole truth. If my suspicions are correct, then we may have committed a serious error.' The twinkle in his eye died at that point. Harry had never seen the headmaster look so old and careworn before.
The witch, Amelia, then seemed to notice Harry, Ron and Hermione sitting there. 'And what are these children doing here?'
'We saw the whole thing,' Ron piped up immediately. Amelia then gave him a piercing look, shutting him up, his ears turning red.
'Indeed?' boomed Amelia. 'So we have totally eight witnesses; five adults and three minors, all identifying this man as Pettigrew. I think it would be prudent to listen to the full story first before taking any further action, wouldn't you agree, Rufus?'
The leonine man nodded. Looking at the bald man he said, 'Auror Shacklebolt, if you please.'
In response, the tall black man brought out an electric blue quill and some parchment. Setting the parchment down, he placed the quill, tip down, on it and let go. The quill stood on its own, quivering in anticipation.
'Testing... this is Kingsley Shacklebolt, Auror, present for the interrogation of Sirius Black.' The man said in a deep and calm voice. Harry noticed that the quill started skating across the parchment, writing the same words spoken. Satisfied, Shacklebolt ripped the page out before stepping back to stand guard with Alastor at the entrance.
The severe woman with the monocle then waved her wand, expanding Professor McGonagall's desk. She then sat down on the chair behind it with Dumbledore and the tawny haired man sitting on either side of her in conjured chairs.
Taking this as her cue, Madame Pomfrey left the office along with Professor Flitwick. Professor McGonagall then stood behind her current students as Amelia started speaking.
'Preliminary interrogation on the sixth of June Nineteen Ninety – Four into offences committed by escaped convict –'
'– Actually, that isn't right. I was never given a trial, thus I have never been convicted to be called a convict, let alone an escaped one.' Sirius interrupted, his voice taking up a very distinctive tone of bitterness.
Amelia raised an eyebrow at this. Turning towards her right, she silently asked Dumbledore if this was correct. When the mage did not endeavour to correct Black, she snapped 'Pause!' at the quill which stopped moving.
Looking at Dumbledore, she said incredulously, 'Are you telling me that this man,' she pointed at Sirius. 'Did not get a trial?' Dumbledore took a moment before nodding slowly, looking grave. This caused a collective intake of breath from the other occupants in the room.
Amelia looked fit to be tied, the expression on her face matching McGonagall in severity. Harry privately thought that the monocle the witch was wearing greatly enhanced the glare had on her face. With a supreme effort the witch got her emotions in control. After spending a moment looking at the desk in contemplation she took a deep breath and then, seeming to come to a decision, looked up.
'This is highly irregular,' she boomed, 'A person, that too the head of an ancient and noble house, being denied a trial.' Taking a deep breath, she continued. 'Due to the amount of time you, Sirius Black, have spent in Azkaban without a formal sentence, I do believe that the government has no choice but to drop the charges initially placed against you and set you free. That is if an arrest warrant was issued in the first place. However, this situation does require resolving. Therefore an emergency meeting of the Wizengamot shall take place where the truth of the matter shall be determined. In the meantime, Black, I would advise you to stay in the country until notification of the trial date is given. Consider yourself, as of this moment, a key witness. I further recommend that you stay with Alastor Moody until the meeting. The kiss – on – sight orders against you shall be rescinded effective immediately. Finally,' she turned to Peter Pettigrew. 'You, and for the moment we shall call you Peter Pettigrew, are hereby under arrest for impersonating a dead man or misleading the Ministry into declaring you deceased. Furthermore, you are also under suspicion of conspiring with a Dark Lord and treason. Auror Shacklebolt, please do the honours.'
Shacklebolt flicked his wand at Pettigrew causing the many chains and ropes to disappear, leaving the still snivelling man in a set of heavy manacles.
'You might want to ensure that he does not transform,' Sirius said helpfully. 'The tricky blighter is a rat Animagus, and has been hiding as this boy's pet,' he nodded to Ron. 'For the past twelve years. Here's his wand, along with what I think may be an escape Portkey.' He indicated to the items on the desk. 'Oh, and I think Warden Lightfoot would like his wand back,' he tapped the wand in question.
A blue light shot off Dumbledore's wand obligingly, hitting Peter, making him glow for a moment before receding as Shacklebolt retrieved the items in question.
Sirius nodded to the three kids, saying, 'I'll see you lot later,' and looking at Harry specifically, he said 'Especially you.' Then, without so much of a glance at the rest of the room, he exited the room, followed by Moody.
Act I Scene IV
Moody took Sirius to his house by side – along apparition. 'Stay right here,' Moody grunted as he stepped forward and waved his wand in complex patterns. Sirius watched as Moody took down a multitude of defensive spells placed around his modest one storey house.
'Seems you have become a bit paranoid over the years, Alastor,' Sirius said dryly. 'Or at least, more paranoid than before,' he amended as he walked up to the grizzled ex-Auror.
'It isn't paranoia if you know they are about to get you,' Moody said in response.
'True,' replied Sirius. When they stepped over the threshold, he smartly commented, 'What no booby traps placed on and around your door? I'm surprised.'
Halfway to the drawing room, Moody paused. Slowly turning around, he grinned at Sirius. 'Now, there's a good idea, laddie! It never did cross my mind ... I will look in on that right away! I knew there was a reason why I considered you to be my protégé!' he sobered suddenly. 'I would like to hear what happened with Pettigrew, if you don't mind.'
Sirius stiffly recounted the whole story right from the decision to change Secret Keepers up to the time Pettigrew had blown up half the street.
Moody sighed as the story ended. 'I had no idea that a trial was never granted to you, Sirius. I was led to believe that you had been formally charged. Had I known, believe me, I would have petitioned for one ... and I would have spoken on your behalf. I knew you Sirius; you never would have betrayed James.'
Seeing the remorse and sincerity in the other man's eye, Sirius gruffly accepted the apology. At least his mentor, unlike his traitorous werewolf friend, hadn't known.
The moment having passed, Moody sat up suddenly and leant forward, an intent look in his eyes, 'So what do you plan to do now?'
Taking a deep breath, Sirius said, 'It depends. Can we get a good lawyer? I would prefer Cousin Andromeda.'
'Ah, young Nymphadora's mother,' Moody said contemplatively. 'She is on the way to becoming a good Auror, that Nymphadora. A bit clumsy, but she is good at disguising herself.'
'Little 'Dora?' said Sirius incredulously. 'She's becoming an Auror? Well, isn't that something ...'
'Yes, anyway, I think we can get Andromeda on board here,' Moody said. 'She never did believe that you were capable of what you were thrown in jail for.'
The very next day, Moody, with Sirius in his Animagus form ('Interesting talent you have there, Black.') paid a visit to Andromeda Tonks at her house.
It took a bit of convincing, but Andromeda was finally persuaded into believing in Sirius's innocence.
'Well, this is quite a shock,' said Andromeda. 'I cannot believe that Sirius spent twelve years there without a trial! And it's quite unbelievable that Pettigrew managed to fake his own death.' She sat in quiet contemplation for a moment.
'Yes, I saw him with my own eyes,' said Moody. 'Amelia was pretty unhappy on finding out that Sirius never was given a trial. She decided on the spot to hold another trial. Dumbledore had no choice but to agree, I expect Fudge will be browbeaten into agreeing soon enough.'
'So he will need representation, I gather,' Andromeda mused. 'When can he meet me then?'
'How about now?' asked Moody.
At those words, the dog in front of Andromeda changed into Sirius Black.
Andromeda looked at Sirius for a few moments before shaking her head and saying, 'I should've known ... hello again, Sirius. It's nice to know that I was right in not believing you capable of betraying James and Lily ... though the whole killing the Muggles along with Pettigrew business was a different matter. You always did have a penchant for exploding things.'
Moody snorted at her last statement. 'I agree. No offence, Sirius, But you weren't the most level headed Aurors back then. You always were a bit hot-headed, brash and impulsive.'
Sirius winced at this statement, 'You're right,' he said soberly. 'I will admit that I did not think with my head and acted on instinct. What I should have done is informed you at the least and confronted Pettigrew with backup. But times were tough then. And I trusted the wrong people. Both Pettigrew and Lupin betrayed us, betrayed me!'
'What do you mean, Sirius,' Andromeda asked.
'James and Lily were quite adamant in letting Remus know who the real Secret Keeper was. So on Lily's insistence, I had included a letter with the normal monthly package of food James had procured. Remus used to go out on Order business quite often, so I had placed that parcel in the living room of his house when he was away. I had even charmed the bloody thing myself so only Remus could read it!' Sirius replied. He took a few breaths to calm down. 'So he knew, and yet he testified against me and with Dumbledore, Crouch and Bagnold pushed to send me to Azkaban without a trial.' He finished bitterly.
After a few moments Andromeda said slowly, 'So ... what do you want to do now?'
Sirius smiled coldly at this. 'First I am going to get my name cleared. Once that is done, we go after Bagnold, Crouch and Dumbledore. At the same time I want undisputed custody of my godson. After that ... we'll see...'
'Dumbledore is going to be tough to take down,' Moody said. Andromeda agreed adding, 'He has a tonne of influence and power which has been gained from a near century of politicking. And a lot of goodwill to boot, people still look up to him even though it has been nearly fifty years since.'
Moody nodded in agreement. 'I look up to the man too,' the old Auror said gruffly. 'Personally, I am not comfortable with what you are saying regarding Albus, but your business is your business, Sirius. Albus is old enough to handle his own mess.'
'We shall see,' Sirius mused. 'I will have to check the family vaults for any information my dear old father had dug up on the old man. A man as old and prolific as Dumbledore would have some skeletons in his closet. And if he had even the sliver of a bone, Orion Black would have found it.'
'The family vaults? But, Sirius … weren't you disowned?' Andromeda asked in confusion.
'Not really,' said Sirius. 'Apparently, when my dear old mum had tried to do that when I ran away, Orion Black decided not to go through with it. I guess he wanted to see which Black ended up in the winning side. He, unlike Abraxas Malfoy, took care to stay the hell away from committing to either side. I only found this out last winter actually, when Gringotts got in touch with me. Turns out that the goblins really did not care whether or not I was innocent. As far as they knew, the Ministry had no documentation that I was a convict, so they happily kept my accounts active! Thanks to that and the fact that no withdrawals had been made, we happen to have a lot of gold lying around.'
'So that would make you the-'
'- Head of the family? Yeah. Once my name is cleared, I'll see to reinstating you and recognising Nymphadora. Then I'll have dear Bella disowned. I might do the same to Narcissa ... then again it would be a useful bargaining chip if we needed to get Lucius' support in bringing Dumbledore down.'
Andromeda's face lit up at being reinstated back into the family. While she loved her husband and would have married him again in a heartbeat given a choice, she still did feel a slight amount of loss at being disowned.
'Let's get cracking then, shall we?' she said, rubbing her hands together. 'Start at the beginning, I want all the pertinent facts.'
Some minor edits done on the thirtieth of January 2013 ...