Harry was amused. There was no other way to describe it. Alice seemed to be annoyed by Break, and Break was just plain amused that she had reappeared.
Break turned to Sirius.
"So which one did you get?"
"An overgrown feather duster with an attitude problem," he said sourly.
"Raven then. You two may as well go into town for the day. It will take a bit of time for Alice to get used to the way the world has changed since she returned to the Abyss."
Sirius finally noticed the girl who seemed to be clinging to his godson. He actually looked rather amused.
Alice refused to leave Harry's side as long as they were outside the Academy. She seemed very surprised to see how much the place had changed since she left the normal world.
Everything was so different now.
Before there were no cars around, the air was smoky, but clean, and there were street vendors on most corners.
But things were very different now. Instead of carriages, there were cars that spewed noxious gases. The air felt cloying and dirty. There were so few vendors, and none of them sold anything that resembled the food she remembered.
So naturally, she clung to her contractor rather firmly. Sirius thought the thing pretty amusing himself. Mostly because from his point of view, Harry had found a rather interesting girlfriend.
Whereas he found a bird with a major attitude problem.
"So are you hungry, Alice?" asked Harry.
Sirius heard the way he said that name. Like it was an important word for him.
Alice's stomach growled loudly. Harry laughed. Instead of heading to a vendor, he headed to the meat market. Alice reluctantly stayed with Sirius as Harry got the ingredients he needed. It was a good thing he knew how to cook large amounts of food.
They returned to their dorm, where Elliot and Leo were waiting. They raised an eye at the amount of meat Harry had bought.
"You planning on feeding the first level Harry?" asked Leo, amused.
"Not exactly. Alice, could you wait with them while I make dinner? It will only be a little bit."
She pouted, and Harry tried not to laugh. She looked so silly!
"I'm sure Break could give you something to do..." Harry hinted. She scowled at him.
"I don't want anything to do with that damn clown."
Alice was happy. Her contractor remembered how much she loved meat. Even if the taste was slightly odd, she still ate to her hearts content. Luckily, Harry had bought enough for everyone in the dorm.
Leo and Elliot wanted to know more about Alice. Unfortunately, Harry didn't know much about her. Only a few bits and pieces from his own memories. He didn't know where they came from, since this was his first time meeting Alice.
Finally, Sirius asked a question that would eventually reveal how Harry and Alice knew each other.
"So Alice, what is his name?"
"Your contractor, as you keep calling him," said Sirius.
"Oz. Oz Bezarius."
"Eh? But my name is Harry!"
Alice looked startled.
"Gomen. It's been a long day," said Alice.
Harry yawned. Between that place and cooking, he was tired.
Sirius was no better, since he had fought a rather large bird. So they all decided to go to sleep early.
Break watched as Alice curled up to Harry. He knew why the boy had become partners with her. And Alice definitely recognized him without being told. It didn't hurt that so few of his features had changed over the passage of time.
He idly wondered how Sirius would react to the truth. While he had managed to get his ancestor's power, the question was how he would use it.
He closed the door silently. Things were going to get very hectic soon. And he couldn't wait for the old man in the crumbling castle to make his move.
He cheerfully walked to through the halls with the candle-holder on his head.
He was in that place again. The world that was full of fire and darkness. He heard the sound of water, dripping into a pool of liquid. Suddenly the scenery changed.
It was a garden. There were two statues crossing swords, and the walkway behind him felt so familiar.
"This is the place where it all began, and will begin again..." whispered the wind.
Harry turned. No one was there. But he knew he wasn't alone.
So he began to walk. The scenery didn't change that much, until he stopped for a rest. That was when she appeared. A vision of Alice, much more innocent than he remembered, appeared before him. She began to run away from him.
Without hesitating, he followed.
The lullaby that haunted his waking dreams filled the air. Slowly, he turned. And found two people sitting on the wall behind him.
They could have passed for brothers. Both of them had golden hair, though the older one had a long braid. One appeared to be his age, while the older looked about ten years his senior. They lifted their faces, and his breath stopped.
Both of them had emerald eyes. Eyes that had so often stared back at him from a mirror.
"Who...who are you?" asked Harry.
They both smiled.
"I...am Jack. Jack Bezarius."
"I am Oz Bezarius," said the younger boy.
Harry knew that name. Alice had called him that by mistake twice earlier.
"How do you two know Alice?"
They smiled even wider at him.
Harry stared at Oz with suspicion.
"You are the same Oz Bezarius that Alice mistook me for are you?"
Oz had an evil grin on his face. Harry felt like swearing.
"While I can understand the fact that we have the same eyes, frankly I don't see the resemblance.
Jack nearly fell over laughing.
"So what's the name of that tune? I've been trying to find it with no success at all."
"Lacie," said Jack, grinning.
"Catchy. That reminds me. My godfather had this weird symbol on the back of his pendant...any idea what it is?"
"Nightray. Has he gotten the Raven yet?"
"Is Raven the bird with the attitude problem?" asked Harry.
Oz and Jack cracked up.
Harry grinned. Somehow, he knew they would get along just fine.
Alice woke up first. She decided to have fun with her new partner by pulling the same trick he had on Sirius their first day. She dumped a bucket of water on him.
Harry woke up with a squawk of indignation.
"Alice~!" he whined.
Alice and Elliot laughed at him.
Harry wasn't surprised to find that his schedule changed around. Now he would have classes only until midnight. He had been given another hundred points for finding his partner.
Sirius was less than happy with his partner. Raven, while it would do as he commanded, simply didn't like him that much. It kept trying to trip him up whenever it could. Sirius was frustrated with the bird.
When he complained about it to Break, all he got was a rather infuriating laugh out of the man.
"Raven isn't your partner. He's your Chain. Your partner is still waiting for you," said Break.
Sirius only growled in response...then looked up what Break had meant by Chain.
Break was amused. Not only had Sirius found the family Chain and bound it to himself, but he had learned the difficulties of managing one. He really hoped the man found his partner before the holidays, otherwise he would have to move his classes for those who couldn't summon.
Unknown to the applicants, there were actually two classes of Summoners in Pandora.
One class was the actual Summoners, who could bring forth anything that matched with their own powers.
Then there were the Contractors, those who could only summon Chains from the Abyss.
Those that managed to become Contractors were taught an entire different set of skills than the summoners. Either way, the Ministry still didn't have any control over them.
Sirius decided to take a long break, since he wouldn't have class in the morning. He never thought he would enjoy school this much. The classes were entertaining, the subjects interesting, and the teachers knew how to make what they taught stick.
And every time he got stuck or frustrated with the fact that he didn't understand something, someone would help him.
He would often wonder how Moony would react to the school. Unfortunately, Dumbledore had expected them to think along those lines, which was why Remus was off in Bulgaria and out of communication for the past five months. Sirius felt rather put out that he couldn't talk to his friend.
Something didn't feel right. He felt like he was only half as strong as before. Like there was something missing from himself. Or from his magic.
As he walked down the garden, enjoying the breeze, he heard the tune which lay inside Harry's pocket watch.
Harry had taken to checking the time, just to hear that tune.
Seeing no point not to follow the song (thinking Harry was on the other end of it) he walked along the path. He didn't pay attention to where his feet walked...until the path suddenly collapsed on him.
Sirius felt for the bump he knew would be there. It wasn't.
Before him was the base of the massive tree in the garden. One which students had a tendency to climb.
Close to the base was a large tombstone. The cross looked vaguely familiar...but the writing was so faded that it was impossible to read.
Well, almost impossible. Sirius took his wand and waved it close to the stone. Then took out a spare piece of parchment and waved it over it.
Break appeared behind him, amused.
"No one has ever been able to read the inscription on the stone," he said.
"Because it's so worn down?"
"Pretty much. So it's a grave to a woman named Lacie?"
"Well that puts that mystery to rest. Now you have to fix the stones. I had thought that the path had been fixed properly so no one would fall again."
Sirius nodded sheepishly.
He yawned. So far his magical powers had been spiking and falling with no real pattern. It was rather annoying really.
Sirius rolled over in the hammock that had been set up for the student's use (it was rarely unoccupied except at night). Under the fake sun under the trees (it was actually raining which was why no one else had tried to take it) he fell asleep.
And had the strangest dream since leaving Azkaban.
He was walking on four legs. He shook his head.
'I must be Padfoot again...' thought Sirius.
As Padfoot he stalked the halls, noting that for some reason they were suspiciously empty. It was usually bustling at this time of night...it was the mornings when it was completely empty.
He paused by a mirror and realized that yes, he had turned into Padfoot without realizing it. But after a moment he looked again.
Something was strange about his animal form. The form was too fluid to be natural, even for him. And the edges seemed to move in ways he wasn't familiar with.
Then he got a good look at his eyes. No longer were they a startling sapphire blue.
Now they were glowing red embers that seemed to burn like flames.
Sirius shivered...he wasn't Padfoot at all right now. He remembered what his godson had said about him when he first saw Sirius in the park that night.
He said that he had seen glowing eyes and canine form...before he was nearly hit by the Knight Bus.
It couldn't be possible...but it clearly was.
He...was the Grim. A Black Dog often found in Ireland. A lone howl pierced the night as Sirius ran to the garden. The hole had been taped off since Break wanted to make sure the stones didn't collapse again. He ran into the hole, hoping to keep from hurting those he had grown close to over the past few months.
He curled up next to the grave and fell back asleep.
Sirius jolted awake. That dream had been way too real for his liking! He swung off the hammock, and nearly fell. Some of the ropes had gotten twisted around his foot. Finally he got up.
He should have known better than to sleep there. Rumor had it that odd dreams would often come to those that did. (There was another rumor that accompanied it, but Sirius couldn't recall what it was.)
Instead of heading to his bed, he decided to check the grave. He didn't know why, but he felt like he had to. The missing piece of his magic was waiting there.
He carefully ducked under the rope, and went down. The rain began to pour harder than before. He couldn't leave without getting completely drenched. He sighed, and walked down further.
And paused. There, curled around the stone, was an enormous black dog. Two long fangs peaked out from under it's muzzle, and they looked like they could rip him to pieces.
The dog woke up and glared at him. It didn't like humans, he knew. So he turned into Padfoot instead.
It yawned widely, before walking to him.
At least my partner isn't a complete idiot, it said in his mind.
Power flowed into his body. He could feel Padfoot grow and his teeth lengthen. When it settled, he could feel his senses were stronger.
He howled into the night, and ran into the corridors. The rain barely touched his fur as he raced through the school. When he skidded into his room, he walked into his bathroom and changed back.
Where a rather skinny, malnourished man had stood before, there was now a well toned and muscular man with longer than normal canines and bright blue eyes. He couldn't count any ribs, and he felt better than he had in years.
Harry cautiously opened the door into the bedroom.
"Sirius? Everything okay? You tore through the halls like a mad hound."
"Everything's fine Pup. Better than fine!"
Sirius walked out and enjoyed his godson's gape.
"I think I found my partner."
Sirius was very happy to join his godson in his partner class. He also had an extra for those who had a Chain.
Harry was glad that his godfather no longer looked like the man who had just escaped after twelve years of captivity. It meant that there was little chance people would recognize him unless he told them that he was Sirius Black.
Because of his new look, Sirius could walk into the Ministry of Magic and no one would realize it.
Which he did.
"I am looking for Amelia Bones."
The man didn't look up, and gave him the floor he would need before waving him on.
Sirius walked up to the floor full of Aurors, past Kingsley Shaklebolt and Andromeda Tonks, and right into her office. She looked up in question. The man before her seemed familiar, but she couldn't place where.
"Can I help you?"
"I'm here to report a miscarriage of justice. A Summoner has been falsely accused of a crime and never given a proper trial."
Her eyebrows shot up in shock. If this was true, then the Summoner Guild would have their heads!
"Where can I find this Summoner?"
"He said he would wait in Gringotts bank, so as to insure that he would not be falsely imprisoned twice, or worse Kissed."
"When?" she asked faintly.
"Two days from now. Ironfang will show you where. He needs his name cleared, so bring whatever you need to confirm truth."
She nodded faintly, and he left.
But before he left the floor, he realized with surprise and amusement that he was alone on an elevator with Tonks and Kingsley. His grin widened to infectious levels.
"Hello cousin," said Sirius.
Tonks whipped around with her wand trained on him, only to nearly drop it in shock.
"Woof woof," he grinned.
Kingsley was in shock. He had been missing for months, and he shows up on the same floor as the Aurors? Was he insane?
"Hope I see you in two days time at Gringotts. Should be an entertaining show," smirked Sirius.
"Are you mad?" asked Kingsley, when he could see straight.
"Possibly, but at least I'm never boring."
The two Aurors watched in shock as Sirius walked right past Fudge and the man didn't blink. He didn't even see him.
"I'll be damned if I know how he did that," said Tonks.
"You and me both."
Harry and the others laughed when they saw the confrontation.
"So you're going to Gringotts in two days to clear your name?" asked Leo.
"Absolutely. I should never have chased after that rat fourteen years ago. It's about time my name was cleared."
"What would be your first action as a free man?" asked Elliot.
Sirius looked at Harry.
"It's about time I fulfilled my promise to James. I'm not letting Dumbledore have his way again."
"You mean finally I wouldn't have to live with those...people?"
"Never again Pup," said Sirius, messing up Harry's hair. Not that it could get any messier.
Things quickly deteriorated into a massive pillow fight when Harry accidentally hit Leo with his. Leo retaliated and hit Elliot, who hit Sirius.