It was the dream again. A world of flames and darkness. Where time could be turned back again and again, where the past could be changed or rewritten entirely.
Harry yawned. While he didn't mind the strange nightmare like dreams, he did prefer them to the corridor that went on forever until it reached an ordinary looking door.
That door scared him greatly. Every time he saw it, he felt a deep sorrow as if he had lost something important. Something very precious to him.
He went downstairs and made some toast. He didn't feel like listening to Mrs. Weasly coddle him. Sirius was still sound asleep on the couch which had been cleaned thoroughly. Instead of dealing with the others, he headed to the Black family library.
It took them three hours to figure out he was still in the house. Harry immediately ran when he realized that Hermione and Mrs. Weasly were going to rant at him for avoiding them.
Sirius had grinned, and nodded to the stairs. He took the book he had been reading with him and found Buckbeak's room. Harry bowed politely to the creature, who did the same. Harry sat against the noble beast, and went back to reading.
It was an interesting book about a prison known only as the Abyss.
Sirius popped his head in with a grin. He bowed to Buckbeak, who nodded at the man.
"Enjoying your break pup?"
"I wish they would give me some peace and quiet every once in a while. Instead I have to hide every time I want to be alone."
"I won't tell them you're up here. And I doubt Buckbeak would mind if you stay."
Harry looked at Buckbeak. He really didn't seem to care that Harry was lying against him, since the boy was fairly quiet and didn't annoy him.
Sirius handed him a plate of food, and Harry snacked on it while Buckbeak ate his own meal.
Once he was full, he fell fast asleep against the creature. Sirius took the food out, but not before covering up his godson. The boy rarely slept properly anymore.
"Honestly! Doesn't that boy know how worried we were?" said Molly in a huff.
"Don't you people realize that you were smothering him?" Sirius answered back.
"What does that mean?" Molly nearly shrieked.
"You have been watching his every move, never giving him a moment's peace. Of course he wanted some privacy! He's a fifteen year old boy Molly, not a child," said Sirius rationally.
Remus stared at him in disbelief.
"That was quite possibly the most mature thing you have ever said Padfoot."
"What's that mean?"
Sirius looked at them all in annoyance.
"Anyway, just give him a break. Teenagers don't like having adults hovering over them every minute of the day. If you keep it up, he's liable to do something really drastic to escape the house."
Remus stared at him in shock.
"Who are you and what have you done to Sirius?"
Only Hermione seemed to understand what he was saying. Harry was still angry because they left him out of the loop for so long, and Dumbledore's orders definitely weren't helping his sanity. She resolved to help him ditch Ron at the school.
Harry stayed in Buckbeak's room for two days. During that time only Sirius would talk to him, and his presence managed to soothe the boy's anger.
It appeared that Sirius managed to get through to everyone in the house. At least now he could go into the library in peace without everyone being in an uproar.
Harry was not looking forward to going back. He was tired of the bullshit, to be honest.
So he went into Buckbeak's room again with another book.
"Sirius, how many other schools are there for magic?"
"Several. The largest ones in Europe are Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. But I know there are others."
"Do you think I could sign up for one?"
Sirius suddenly grinned.
"There is a specialized school in England, but you have to have certain requirements to get in. It would take a week or so to get a letter back."
"Let me grab Hedwig. As far as everyone is concerned, I'm owling Neville."
Sirius grinned wider.
"I'll give you the name. I really hope you make it pup, because then you could go to the school from here."
Harry smiled. He would definitely look forward to that. While Hogwarts was fun, he was tired of all the rumors and nonsense he had to put up with every year.
Sirius gave him the name of the school and Hedwig left the house through the window in Buckbeak's room. No one noticed a thing.
Harry looked up when four days later an extra owl appeared along with the Hogwarts owls. This one had an official looking scroll. Harry grabbed it before Molly had the presence of mind to do so herself. He managed to get to Sirius' room, and lock the door. Sirius had given him special permission to hide in there.
Which is the only reason he didn't end up with a rather amusing prank going off in his face. Molly tried to retrieve Harry, only for it to go off on her.
Harry winced at the shriek she let off for evading her so effectively.
He sat on the floor and read the scroll first. He had already heard Ron exclaim about becoming a prefect along with Hermione.
"Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you meet the standard requirements for our school. Enclosed is a list of items that you would need to attend class. Please note that wands are not strictly necessary for our courses.
We hope to see you very soon at our mansion. All students who have attended at least three years of Hogwarts are required to spend at least a week of special courses in order to make the transition as painless as possible.
Xerxes Break, Headmaster of Pandora Academy for Summoners."
Harry grinned widely. He fully intended to switch schools. And the best part was that he could still take his OWLs without having to listen to Hermione shriek at him to study.
It wasn't until five in the afternoon when Harry was finally able to leave the room. Remus was waiting for him in the hall.
"I wouldn't recommend going downstairs right now," he said amused.
"They still mad about the second letter?"
"They are rather angry about the fact that you didn't tell them you were planning to transfer schools. Dumbledore is especially upset."
"It was a last minute decision, and I don't really care what Dumbledore has to say at the moment when he won't even look at me in the eyes. Can I ask you a favor?"
Remus looked at him shrewdly.
"It depends on the favor."
"Can you take me to Diagon tomorrow? Before anyone is awake to stop us? I need to get some supplies for the new school."
"I suppose I could do that. Provided you at least keep me up to date on how you are doing."
"That won't be a problem. According to Sirius, the school is close enough to this house that I can take a cab to and from the school."
Remus shrugged, and let the boy hide inside the room again. Hedwig was with Harry the entire night. He couldn't risk anyone trying to place a spell on her.
Harry checked every corner before Remus hurried him outside. In less than five minutes, Remus had apparated them straight outside Gringotts. It wasn't even six yet.
Harry walked right into the bank. And ran right into a problem he hadn't expected.
While the goblins didn't have a problem with him changing schools, they did have a problem with his key. He had no idea that it was a fake.
Ten minutes later he had written a will, and retrieved all the keys that he didn't know he had. Once he refilled his bag full of coins, Remus helped him find the stores with the items he needed. They managed to sneak back into the house before Molly had awoken in time to make breakfast.
Sirius was still snoring, but he awoke when Harry opened the door.
He gave his godson a doggy grin.
Once he shifted back, he said "So was it a success?"
"Aside from a minor bump at Gringotts, yeah, it was. But I am missing something on the list."
Harry showed him the list, with the items he already had crossed off.
"A pendant made of your choice of metal with any colored gemstone. I see why you had a problem finding this. It would have to be custom made for you," said Sirius.
"The special classes start in two days. Want to come with me?"
"You better believe it. If I have to stay in this house for any longer, I will go stark raving mad."
"Don't you mean barking mad?"
Sirius laughed, and tossed a pillow at his godson. Harry grabbed it and started an impromptu pillow fight with Sirius. The two had a bit of fun before going downstairs for breakfast.
At least until Hermione spotted Harry and almost started to shriek at him. Sirius did the only thing he could think of to preserve their hearing. He hit her with a silencer.
Just another day at Grimmauld place.
Harry and Sirius looked in all directions. They didn't want to be caught sneaking out.
That didn't mean they were successful though. Fred and George grabbed them by the shoulders with a grin.
"Sneaking out again gents?"
"Now where are you blokes planning on going so early in the morning?" asked George with a smirk.
Harry pressed a finger to his lips.
"Keep this quiet. I'll be gone for a few days attending classes. The last thing I need is your mother or worse Hermione following me!"
"Your secret is safe with us gents. But you better bring us back something good!" said Fred.
"I have something better. You two idolize the Marauders right?"
"We worship them," said George, acknowledging that it was true.
"Remus is Moony and Sirius is Padfoot. Why don't you pull a fast one on the old wolf and put a potion in his drink? Then you could blackmail him for prank ideas!" said Harry.
Sirius had an evil doggy grin. While he pitied his friend, especially since the twins would be bothering him, he applauded Harry's trick. It would be the perfect distraction.
George and Fred looked at each other, then shook Harry's hand. They had an agreement.
"Oh...and when I get back I'll deposit five hundred galleons into your account. You can use it to buy supplies for the shop," smirked Harry.
Harry and Sirius managed to sneak out of the house with no more distractions. Sirius had an evil grin on his face the entire trip.
There was a man with pale hair standing at the doorway. He had a single red eye.
"Oho...seems our newest transfer student likes getting to class very early."
Harry grinned. He liked this guy, because he reminded him of Sirius when he was pranking Remus.
"I'm Harry. What's your name sir?"
"I...am Headmaster Break. I certainly didn't expect any of the students to arrive this soon. If you want, I could show you the grounds, since the special classes won't start for another two hours."
Harry was more than happy to explore the grounds. Break seemed not to notice Sirius, either that or he didn't care.
"So do you sort the students out into houses or what?" asked Harry calmly. He was quite enjoying the tour.
"We sort our applicants based on types. For those who specialize in spying, they go into the Rainsworth dorm. For those who are good at seals and opening pathways, there is the Nightray dorm. Then there is the Bezarius dorm, which has a set of abilities, but can master more than three. For those who are obsessed with information and have the ability to create illusions, there is the Barma dorm."
Harry had a feeling he was going to have fun here.
"Of course we do offer classes for students who have already graduated from any of the major schools like Hogwarts. We really have no age limit on applicants...but we do have a series of requirements on who can attend."
"Do you report to the ministry or what?"
"We only report to our guild. Say someone like, oh I don't know, Sirius Black, wished to attend...if he met our requirements for summoning, we would welcome him eagerly. Any attempts to remove him without his consent would be met badly."
Harry had winced when Break mentioned Sirius. So the man had noticed his godfather beside him.
"What exactly are the requirements?" asked Harry calmly.
"Well we would have to enter his magical signature into our special book, which would tell us whether he met them. It would only take a few moments to do so," said Break calmly.
Sirius looked at his godson and gently grabbed his sleeve. Harry knew what he wanted.
"Seems your dog wishes to join you..." Break noticed, amused.
Sirius barked at the man.
"Well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to let you see how we accept new students..." grinned Break.
Sirius stared at the innocent seeming book. All he had to do was place his paw on it, and a small amount of blood was taken. He didn't even feel the prick of the needle. The book had glowed for a moment, before a symbol appeared on the page. Break had grinned very widely.
"It seems we are going to have two new students this year. And both of them from the same school!"
"You may as well change back, Mr. Black," said Break calmly.
Sirius returned to his human form in amusement. Break didn't even seem that surprised.
"My eyes are rather unique in that I can tell an animagus from a normal animal," said Break in explanation.
The bell tolled when it reached seven. Classes would start in an hour.
"So what happens now?" asked Sirius.
"You two will stay here for the next week so you can catch up with your fellow applicants. Meanwhile I will retrieve the supplies you two will need for later. If you wish, you may spend the rest of the half hour in the library," said Break with a smile.
The odd puppet that had sat on Break's shoulder the entire time started laughing. It was rather creepy, to be honest.
"Now now Emily, there's no reason to laugh," said Break amused.
Harry and Sirius decided to remain quiet about the bizarre puppet.
People filed in without a word. Some were students from the other schools, and there were a few Hogwarts students. None of them recognized Harry, since those were mostly upperclassmen from other houses.
Sirius decided to kill time by studying up on the materials. Break had dropped off the books he would need, and had given the two of them rooms in the same hall. They were right across from each other.
Soon enough the four classrooms were entirely full. Break entered the room where Harry was with a smile. His right eye was barely visible.
"Welcome everyone, to the mansion where we hold our tests to determine who will be accepted in the academy! Don't fret if you can't make the cut this year, because the fact that you made it this far means you are always welcome to try again later!"
There was some grumbling about that news, but it was mostly from the first time applicants.
"Now I would like you to observe the instructors carefully, as they will be showing you how to create your amulet for summoning. Please note that you will have only one chance per year to find your proper mark. While the metals and the stones can be reused, the marks are only good for one time only for each person, so choose wisely! If you manage to find your mark, you will be allowed to continue onto the school. Those that fail will have to try again next year!"
That lead to some disappointment with the younger applicants. They had hoped to join the school immediately.
"Now everyone, line up in a row. The instructors will pass out the book with the accepted marks, so take you time! We will begin our test in four hours," said Break.
Harry took the book. Sirius decided to share his, since he doubted that they would choose the same mark. This was probably their only chance to join, because it as highly unlikely that Dumbledore would allow them to try again.
Harry found an interesting mark that he just couldn't take his eyes off of. Even when he turned the page, he kept coming back to it. So he took the paper they provided and placed it on top of the mark.
Sirius had already found one he liked, and had done the same. Around them were flares of magic as the marks were copied. Finally the flaring of magic stopped completely. Break returned with a smile.
"Now everyone, you may pick your stones and metals so we may forge the amulets. For those who have already picked their ingredients before, please move on to the marked area."
Most of the applicants moved onto the next area without a word. They already knew what they had to do without being told. Harry and the other first timers went to get their materials.
Harry found a bright star silver metal that he liked. It reminded him of the night sky. For his stones he picked out a few emeralds, rubies, sapphires and four pure black gems he didn't recognize. The chain was made of solid silver.
Sirius had found a gold metal that he liked, and took out rubies, amethysts, sapphires and a few amber gems. They waited for the others and went to the next room.
Break looked in amusement at their choice of marks.
Unknown to the students, picking certain marks guaranteed a place in the academy. They would only reveal themselves to special people.
Harry and Sirius had discovered those special marks.