I am here, all alive too!
Don't mind too much the last part of the chapter, it kinda... derails, but I had fun writing it.
Grimmauld Place, Number Twelve
Hermione Granger was intrigued. She has not seen hide or hair of Harry since breakfast, and she had looked almost everywhere. Where did that boy go this time? She was fairly sure he said the previous day that he would stay at home, but she didn't find him anywhere yet.
"Sirius," she asked when she found the older wizard at the living room, "have you seen Harry?"
The dog Animagus raised his eyes from the book he was currently reading. "He's at the library, but leave him be." he said, explaining once he saw the unasked question on Hermione's face. "He's reading his family's Grimoire. Sit, this might take a while to explain."
The bushy-haired witch was not even completely seating before her curiosity got the better of her. "Family Grimoire?"
Sirius nodded. "It's a piece of tradition of the older wizarding families. A dying tradition, too, but the Potters always followed it. Well, James didn't, but when his father died he was already under the Fidelius, so he was unable to get it. Anyway, a family Grimoire was originally meant to provide the means to make sure the family spells were kept somewhere in a physical form, in case the head of family died with no-one else knowing those same spells. As time went by, it turned into a mix of spell register, a diary of the family's exploits and a means to remember the past. Part of the ritual of becoming a new head of family included sparing some time to read the grimoire, a way to understand what the family was done and what role was expected of the new head." he then sighed, remembering what happened to his family's own book. "The Blacks lost their Grimoire a few hundred years ago in a fit of idiocy, but enough information remained in private diaries to figure what used to be there. Nothing useful was lost, but if the same happened to the Potter one... it would be a great loss. I recall Lord Potter saying something about old magics tied to the family's magic. Again, I can't confirm that, as James never had the chance to read the Grimoire, but if those stories are as true as I think they are, then Harry would probably find them useful."
"You said it was a dying tradition. Does that mean all pureblood families used to have one of those in the past?"
"Not quite. Truly old families, like the Nine that were on the basis of the Wizengamot's original incarnation and that could trace their lineage to times before William the Conqueror, had their grimoire for sure, but due to conflicts or carelessness of the family heads, some of them got lost. Other pureblood families that came later had their own grimoires as well, but it was an object that was there for the ritual of a new head of house taking his own place, so they're lesser books, many times only containing a list of the heads of house and their date and their ruling years, along with a date and cause of death if they didn't step down from the spot before that."
"The Nine?" Hermione asked, "I don't remember Professor Binns saying anything about those."
"That's because Binns only cares about Goblin Rebellions." Sirius replied, shrugging. "Most of the wizarding world's history in only known by those of old families or that actually spend some time trying to fit the pieces together to see the bigger picture. History of Magic as taught by Binns is a joke. Sadly, no-one steps in and actually volunteers to become the new History teacher, as they're either blood purists who don't want to teach muggleborns or people who don't think they'd make good teachers. Did you really think Dumbledore kept Binns there because he likes him? Magical Britain as a whole is so blind to the past that finding a replacement for Binns is almost impossible."
"I..." the witch was visibly struggling between her instinct of defending a teacher or the reasoning in her mind that told her that Sirius was right. "... I guess I can see the problem."
"Yeah. If Moony didn't have his furry problem, he could actually be good replacement for History of Magic, if we gave him some time to prepare himself, but as things are, flowers and sunshine will rain in Azkaban before people from both sides get over their werewolf prejudice."
"Why don't you try to apply for the position-"
Her question was interrupted when Sirius started laughing, realizing what she was implying. Said laughter lasted... a good while, during which Sirius fell from the sofa to the ground, rolling around and attracting the attention of a curious Remus Lupin, who had just arrived.
Pointing to the laughing Animagus on the ground, Remus squinted towards Hermione on a non-verbal "What's up with him?"
"I might have suggested that he should apply to teach History of Magic." Hermione admitted with a faint blush.
"Hahahahahah! Did-oh Remus, you just missed the best joke ever! Me, a Teacher?" Sirius said, before succumbing to another round of laughter.
Said laughter was about to be interrupted, however. "Why not?" Remus said, grinning. "You are from an old family, could use the mental exercise, and would actually look good to have the reinstated lord Black doing something for the next generation of magical Britain."
"Nice joke Remus, but I'm the one that... serious?" the Black said, realizing they were setting him up with a valid strategy. "Damn it Moony, you're supposed to be on my side!" he whined.
"Well, you aren't a blood purist but are from an old family..." Hermione said, her own gears grinding on her brain, thinking of the possibilities of having a decent education on History, for a change. "Besides, you would be able to try to influence people towards our side of the cause. Even if the term starts in one week, you could spend some time preparing and come replace Binns later."
"You," the Animagus pointed to the witch, "are a scary, scary woman. How Harry doesn't run from you is a mystery."
"That's simple," Hermione replied smugly, "he's more of a Gryffindor than you are."
The werewolf laughed at her comeback. "Ooooooohhhhhhhhhhh. Sirius, she got you good."
"Oh shut up Moony." was the reply from a pouting Black, much to the amusement of the other two.
Black Family Library
Harry slowly turned another page on the grimoire. He had been at it for a few hours now, but the sheer volume of information inside, and the fact that he treated the book like it was made of thin glass meant he hadn't progressed too far on the family's history. Fortunately, there were a lot of drawings from time to time.
His treatment of the book wasn't really necessary. Thanks to preservation charms made by the family, the grimoire still looked brand new to the outside observer. In fact, the sturdy leather cover and the designs on the spine would lead many people to think it was merely a particularly thick volume of a deluxe encyclopedia.
Currently, Harry was reading a record of the times before Hogwarts was born, a time where wizards took apprentices as there was no school to send them to. Apparently, magic was an art initially transmitted in a master and apprentice system, usually within their own families or with magical children from non-magical parents. As such, each family had their own spells, which they mostly kept to themselves, in addition to the spells that came with the Roman occupation.
Harry had already read some of the spells they had. They sounded interesting, dealing mostly with stasis fields and the resistance of materials, but he had to check several Runes books to make heads or tails of the arrays drawn in the grimoire. However, the thing that impressed him the most so far weren't the spells he read so far, but a particular spell cast on the grimoire itself. He could read clearly what was written there, even when they were not written in modern English at all. Somehow, his ancestors had cast a spell on the book that allowed the reader to understand what was written there. Even if the written word made no sense at all, the meaning was clear as water in his mind.
"Interesting," he muttered, taking notes of yet another array, adding them to a growing collection of notes organised by subject, from old trivia to family spells. "but will they work along other runic sets?" rubbing the back of his head, he set that piece of parchment aside, adding it to the growing pile of stuff he should check later. "Speaking of which," he muttered, turning another page, "I need to speak to McGonagall once I get back to Hogwarts. With some many Runes, I need to drop Divination and learn something useful for a chance. I wonder if Trelawney foresaw this?"
His studies went on for some more time, until he decided that he should take a break from studying the past and get back to the present. Marking his current page with a spell, he closed the book and opened it again on the last pages, looking for the last record, and sadly realizing that it wouldn't be something written by his father, as he never took the Potter head title. "Here it is," he said sadly, lightly brushing his fingers over his grandfather's last record. Out of curiosity, he started reading it. "...it has been a month since James, Lily and little Harry went into hiding. From what they told me, there's a prophecy involving Voldemort and my grandson might get caught in the middle. I tried to convince them to stay at Potter Manor while Lady Potter and I went to Godric's Hollow, we don't want our grandson to catch our dragon pox. Besides, I noticed that Elder seems sadder since they left. He tries to look normal, but I can see how he looks at James's room.
I will be honest, I have a bad feeling regarding Godric's Hollow. It might be the advanced stage of my disease talking, but I feel in my bones that something bad will happen there. I just pray I am wrong and that it will be a long time until I see them on the other side.
As for me and my wife... I'm afraid we won't live much longer. Writing this lines is taking its toll on me, even if I just moved from the bed to the desk. Still, I have no regrets. I lived a good life, with a loving wife and a son that makes me proud by standing for what's right. I just hope that he'll read those lines, or if the worse happens, that at least little Harry knew that he was loved by everyone here. Either way, remember: our ancestors may have done great things, but don't feel pressured to live up to their name. Follow what you believe in, and carve your name on the legacy of the Potters in the same way everyone before you did, by following the things they believed in."
Underneath that record, there was just a single line: 'Maximillian Potter – died on August 17th, 1981'. Harry mused that it was yet another of the enchantments of the book, as similar lines appeared every time the Potter changed. Sighing, the wizard rested his ring in the space below his grandfather's death notice, and a new line appeared: 'Harry James Potter – title reclaimed on August 12th, 1995. First record on August 25th, 1995'
"All right, time to get to work." Dipping his pen on the inkwell, he wondered for a moment if he couldn't make something that was less... awkward to hold while writing. Oh well, another of those little things he could work on at Hogwarts. For now, he had a presentation to make.
"I am Harry James Potter, son of James Potter, son of Maximillian Potter, the last recognized Lord Potter and the author of the last record before I took the mantle of the Head of the Potters. To the ones that will follow me, I will leave records such as this as a testimony of my times as Lord Potter, as my ancestors did and hopefully, like my descendants will do until our House is no more.
I will not bother you with the sordid details that preceded my reclamation of the Potter Lordship. Suffice to say, it was an unhappy childhood until Hogwarts appeared. The path forwards will not be all roses either. We are at war with the very same Voldemort that grandfather mentioned. Thought dead since October 31's, 1981, when my parents were betrayed by Petter Pettigrew and killed, he returned this year, and Wizarding Britain gears once again for a time of terror.
But this time, I intend to make sure that he will be destroyed once and for all. The first war took an heavy toll on the magical community. If the second war drags on for long enough, I don't know what might happen to our society. Maybe the prophecy that grandfather referred to really applies to me now. Either way, I'm not fighting this battle alone. Voldemort has his Death Eaters, who mostly bought their way out of jail, but there are also a few people on our side. Not many, maybe, but against an enemy like Voldemort, we don't intend to give him anything resembling a fair fight..."
By lunchtime, Harry was still writing, completely oblivious of the time that had already gone since he sat down to study the grimoire.
Eventually, he was shaken from his writing when someone knocked on the library's door. "Harry, you still awake?" Sirius's voice was heard from the outside, "It's lunch time, or you'd rather keep spend the whole day there?"
Harry checked his watch noticing that yes, it was lunch time and he had spent the whole morning on this. How time flies sometimes. "I'll be out in a minute Sirius, just let me finish this..." he replied, finishing the sentence he was writing, as he was planning to stop for a while. Placing his notes inside a secure box, Harry raised his eyebrows once he noticed how much he had written with what was basically his observations for what would happen in the near future and the tale of his Hogwarts misadventures. "Wow," he breathed, "I never wrote anything as long as this before. I have no idea how I managed to do this, too." he admitted with a chuckle, as he closed the grimoire and gathered his things to leave.
Outside, a very amused Sirius was waiting for the green-eyed wizard. "Well, looks like you were really into reading today, eh?" he said once Harry left the library and walked towards the rooms to leave the things he was carrying.
"I don't know how to explain," said Harry, "I didn't feel the time passing, I just kept reading and taking notes. I mean, there's so much to read, I've barely scratched the surface of that book, but I've already found out so many things."
"Uh-huh." Sirius nodded, "I guess it's a good thing the Black grimoire was lost, with the family I had, I doubt I'd have the same pleasure reading it as you did."
"I don't know about that Sirius, it seems like the Blacks used to be good people... at least the ones around the 4th century or so."
The Black snorted. "Figures, the only ones that are really decent are in the rear end of history. Must have spent the whole decency reserves, if the family in the last four hundred years is any hint."
"I'm not going to touch that subject with a ten foot pole. Now, the books are on the trunk, so I guess that now we can go to lunch."
"About time, too," Sirius complained, "I'm starving."
"And I was the one inside the library," Harry replied, "you could have gone into the kitchen at any time. Or were you bothering Mrs. Weasley again with your chicken fixation?" he said, chuckling as he saw the older wizard's sheepish face.
"It was just a little leg... and a little breast, too." the Animagus replied innocently, although the suspiciously specific pieces of the chicken hinted Harry towards one of the Maraduer's risqué jokes.
"Sirius, you're my godfather, but if you pull the breast or leg joke on me I'll make sure you'll never be able to see a chicken the same way you used to for the rest of your life." he warned, his lips curling nonetheless at the whole situation.
"Is that a challenge?" Sirius asked eagerly, eyes shining at the perspective of a pranking Prongslet.
Harry smirked mysteriously, "I don't make challenges, I warn. Besides, the girls in the house would probably kill you if you were successful. Do you really want to see an angry Hermione? I don't think Malfoy's face has been the same ever since she punched him."
"Yeah, about that... you want to hear the last one from Hermione? She suggested that I should replace Binns on History of Magic."
Harry actually stopped at that, shook his head, and looked quizzically towards Sirius. "Come again? Did you mention you and teaching in the same sentence?"
"I'm not that bad!" the Marauder defended himself by pure reflex before noticing Harry's smirk. "Damn it, you people keep getting me on today."
"Maybe you're getting too old." the teenager quipped, before turning serious again. "Anyway, why did she make that suggestion?"
"Well, I did say that the only people truly interested in history are either purebloods or people who try to puzzle history together as a life work. Then Moony jumped on the bandwagon and said it would be good to my reputation as Lord Black if I showed that I cared for the new generation's education by becoming a Professor." he sighed theatrically. "Alas, surrounded from all sides. Only you, Harry, have not-"
"It's a good idea." the teen cut him off, enjoying the expression of disbelief on the Black's face.
"Et tu, Harry?"
Harry's laugh echoed through the whole house.
It turned out Harry and Sirius weren't the last ones to arrive to lunch. Right now, everybody was waiting on Tonks, who was finishing her shift and would stop by Number 12 to have lunch.
"So Harry," Ginny started, in a break during the conversation Harry was having with Sirius, "what were you doing at the library that took so long?"
To his credit, Harry did not reveal his displeasure with Ginny's rudeness. "Family business Ginny." he replied easily. After all, a Grimoire was family business.
"Family business?" she repeated, confused. "What do you mean with family business?"
"Ginny, Harry probably has unsolved issues that needed the family's head." Hermione chipped in, trying to prevent Ginny from unintentionally dig a hole in the ground.
The redhead tilted her head, before realizing where she was getting herself into. "Oh. Sorry, I didn't mean to..."
The green eyed wizard waved a hand. "I get it, don't worry. Yeah, there's a lot of stuff I have to catch up with and I really didn't have the time or the mind to check them until today. Also, Sirius decided to drop that bomb..."
Said wizard groaned. Hermione chuckled, while Ginny, not knowing of the latests Black shenanigans, was even more confused. "Could someone explain to me what is happening?"
As if two people dogging Sirius wasn't enough, Remus had to overhear the latest question and put in his two knuts. "Oh, we were just discussing the possibility of having Sirius teach History of Magic."
"Sirius what." Ginny blurted, not quite believing what she was hearing. "Sorry, you said Sirius being a teacher?"
"Yes." Hermione replied, grinning as she took the chance to rib the dog animagus a bit more. "Come one Sirius, don't be shy. After all, Professor Black sounds respectful."
"Sirius, respectful?" Harry joked, "Sure, pull the other one Hermione, it has bells on it."
Remus seemed to think for a few moments. "Hmmm... I guess Harry is right. Sirius is too laid back to be a good teacher."
The Black had enough. All these people nagging him, joking that he should teach and then saying he was unable to be a serious teacher. "You want to bet on that Moony?" he growled, eyeing the werewolf with a gimlet eye and his devil-may-care smirk on his face, "Let's see if good old Sirius can't be an even better teacher than Remus Lupin."
"You're on." Remus replied, satisfied that his friend bit it hook, line and sinker. "The loser will... spend the whole Christmas in one of those robes Dumbledore likes. And a Santa beard."
Sirius nodded. "Deal. You better start practising your hohoho-ing, Moony." he advised, "Sirius is going to get... Serious."
The reply he got? Heads hitting the table in frustration. "Seriously, Sirius?" asked Harry, just before he paused for a moment and slammed his head again on the table, "Confound it all, I'm starting to talk like you!"
"At least you aren't suplexing a train." Sirius replied without really thinking on it. He couldn't help but feel his words had some kind of hidden meaning, but as it was, nobody paid much attention to it.
Apart from the part where, you know, he mentioned suplexing a train?
"I'm pretty sure that suplexing a train isn't possible, Sirius." Hermione supplied helpfully, "Unless you're a dragon or something. Or Sabin."
Harry tilted his head. "Hermione, I think we're losing track of the conversation here. And who's Sabin?"
"Oh," she said very fast, looking away from Harry, "he's a character from... a story, yeah, a story." No way in hell she'd tell them she was a SNES fan.
And all that blocked the conversation quite nicely. Ginny looked around trying to find something to say. "Uh... anyone knows when Tonks is coming?"
"I'm right here!" a cheerful voice was heard entering the kitchen, followed by a yelp and a certain pink-haired Auror tripping over her feet.
"I'd advise for CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" said Mad-Eye, getting a few dirty looks for his yell, "but tripping like that can only mean you're the real Tonks."
"Mad-Eye, you are out of character." the girl replied, getting to her feet.
"Blame the author, he's getting stupid." was the reply.
Mrs. Weasley had decided by then that enough was enough. "AHEM! Tonks, can you sit? I'd like to serve lunch now. Warming charms only go so far." Since everyone was hungry, no exceptions, Tonks quickly took the place next to Sirius and everyone watched as Mrs. Weasley levitated the food to the table.
It was chicken. Sirius had a gleeful look in his eyes. Harry... well, Harry was starting to dread this lunch. Meanwhile, a certain bushy-haired witch was wondering what was up with Harry and his 'I'm doomed, Number Five' look.
Fortunately, things seemed to go well for most of the lunch. Sirius just ate instead of making jokes, Harry was getting more relaxed as it seemed that he wouldn't have to hear that awful joke, and even Ron was eating in a civilized way, although it was obvious that he was in deep concentration.
By the end of the meal, when the food was almost gone, both Harry and Tonks were up for seconds.
"So Harry," the Auror questioned, "breast or leg?"
It was a perfectly innocent question, she meant what she said, or at least it seemed so. Too bad the joke had been set. Sirius, who was sipping some water, did a spit-take that sprayed Harry pretty nicely, before turning towards Tonks with a shocked expression.
"What," she asked, "I just asked Harry if he wanted to take the breast or the leg." Once again, she looked perfectly innocent, but Sirius knew it all. She was trying to tease Harry.
The green-eyed wizard, however, had a good excuse not to fall for the bait. "Excuse me, I'll get cleaned up. Be right back."
And with her mouth now covered by her napkin, Tonks finally smiled. Oh, sweet fifteen, so easy to pick on the poor boys with a bit of innocent innuendo.
I told you it would derail a lot. Don't think too hard about it, it's a bit of senseless humour in what would be a very serious chapter.
See you next time!