July 1st 1994
Remus was annoyed. He was annoyed about the fact that he was walking up the path to Hogwarts. He was annoyed that he was going to have to talk to Albus. And he was doubly annoyed that he owed Sirius five galleons.
"When it gets out about my guardianship of Harry, Dumbledore will come after you for where I am." Sirius said sagely.
"I don't think he will." Remus countered. "He won't have any reason to think we're in that close contact or that we've reconnected enough for you to inform you."
"Bollocks, Moony." Sirius pointed at him. "You're my closest friend! I bet you five galleons that he'll write you a wonderful letter asking you to meet with him as a favour to your old Headmaster, and when you go along to his office, he'll use the fact that he allowed you to attend Hogwarts and gave you a job for year to try and weasel the information out of you." He paused. "It's lucky he can't read your mind."
"So I'll tell him I don't know." Remus replied.
"No," Sirius said grinning, "we should prank him."
Remus sighed. This wasn't going to end well.
And bugger it all, Sirius had been right!
Remus muttered angrily to himself as he entered the castle and began the long walk to Dumbledore's office. He stood in front of the gargoyle and looked at it menacingly.
"I'm here at the Headmaster's request."
The gargoyle moved aside. Remus continued up the stairs and Dumbledore called for him to enter. Remus had seen the inside of the Headmaster's office twice during his time as a student – once to go over the terms of his stay because of his lycanthropy (he'd been eleven and scared to death) and once when Dumbledore had quizzed him about how much he knew about Sirius taunting Snape into the tunnel on the night of the full moon (nothing and it took him months to forgive Sirius for almost letting Remus eat someone, even Snape).
Remus took the offered chair, but declined the candy and tea with the excuse of another meeting to follow. He went straight on the offensive. "What can I do for you, Albus? Brilliant news about Sirius and Harry, isn't it?"
"Yes, indeed." Albus smiled at him, eyes twinkling although the smile was faintly forced. "Actually, it was on that very subject that I wanted to make a plea for assistance."
"Oh?" Remus crossed his legs and tried to look helpful.
"I wanted to talk with Sirius before he returns from abroad about Harry." Albus explained. "There are things of which Sirius may be unaware that he needs to know." He continued seriously. "I fear Voldemort will soon rise again with Mister Pettigrew's help and his attention will undoubtedly turn to Harry – the boy who banished him for so many years."
"I agree." Remus said carefully. This was definitely more than either he or Sirius had thought Albus would share with them. "Harry would be a target if Voldemort came back to power."
"You always were a good student, Remus," Albus said, dropping the 'remember who allowed you to be one' hint that Remus had been waiting for, "and an even better teacher if I may say so. You understand that Harry will need every advantage in the coming dark days." And there was the 'remember who gave you a job' hint. "So you will agree Sirius and I need to talk?"
"I understand why you wish to talk with him, Albus, but I'm not sure why it can't wait until Sirius gets back and takes custody of Harry." Remus said. "According to the newspaper, he is currently undergoing treatment."
"Yes, I'm so glad he didn't decide to fight the Ministry on that," Albus said, "but I do feel it would be best for Harry that we talk before Sirius comes back to Britain, and I believe you know where Sirius is."
"If I did know, Albus, it would be a confidence given to me by a friend." Remus pointed out. "And I'm still not convinced it can't wait." He could hear Sirius's voice reminding him not to make it easy on the old wizard.
"I understand and while I wouldn't normally press you to betray the confidence of a friend, I think you know me well enough to know that I would never make such a request if it was not a matter of the utmost importance, dear boy." Albus said. "I wish I could explain more but I feel it only fair to inform Sirius first as it must be his decision if anyone else should be told."
Remus considered Albus for a long moment before sighing – not so dramatically that it would be obvious but enough to signal a surrender. He withdrew a parchment from the inside pocket of his robes, Sirius had prepared it before he went away, and handed it to Albus.
Albus happily took the parchment and read it.
Hope you've heard the excellent news – I have Harry! Well, not yet but soon. Off to get myself sorted out! I've found a wonderful little clinic in Thailand. Will be in touch when I get back.
"Thank you, Remus." Albus said warmly and passed the parchment back.
"If Sirius asks…" Remus began.
Albus nodded at him. "I'll be sure to be mysterious about my sources."
Remus got to his feet as he tucked the parchment back into his robes and decided some additional teasing wouldn't go amiss. "I assume you've seen Harry. How did he take the news? I'm sure he must be delighted."
"Ah," Albus's twinkle faltered for a moment, "Harry and the Dursleys remain away. I'm sure they'll return soon and I will inform him then."
Right. And by then Albus no doubt hoped to talk Sirius out of taking custody. Remus felt any lingering regret at Sirius's prank disappear.
Remus swallowed the retort that sprang to his lips and managed a smile instead. "Well, I must be off."
Albus gave a benign answering smile of his own. "Thank you again, Remus."
"Yes, remember I was never here, Albus."
Remus departed before Albus could say another word and hurried down the stairs and back into the main part of the castle. He headed for Gryffindor tower where his next appointment was waiting. When he had received Albus's thinly veiled summons he had decided to combine it with meeting up with Minerva. She had sent some suggestions for the scholarship to Brian and Brian had forwarded them to Remus as the steward of the House of Potter. He was also concerned after her reaction at the will reading and he hoped his news would alleviate some of the pain and guilt she'd felt. He tapped lightly on her office door and opened it at her summons.
"Remus," Minerva smiled at him briefly, "I take it your business with Albus is complete?" She moved over to a hat stand and pulled on a warm cloak of deep blue. She placed her hat on her head and adjusted it.
"All done." Remus confirmed, looking enviously at an expensive box of chocolates that sat on her desk. He took a piece of parchment from his pocket and handed it to her.
"My steward Remus Lupin invites you to 12 Grimmauld Place."
Minerva looked up from the paper and considered him intently. "Fidelius?"
"One of two." Remus confirmed. "The floo address is Black Manor. Shall we?"
She nodded sharply and headed to the floo. She tapped it with her wand and the fire erupted. Remus went first, taking a pinch of floo powder and stating the address firmly. Minerva stepped through a moment after he arrived.
She glanced around the room and breathed in sharply at the crest on the wall. "The House of Black?" She snapped her gaze to Remus inquisitively.
"Sirius assumed the Head of House to secure his freedom." Remus explained. "I'll explain more when we reach out next destination." He handed her a second piece of parchment.
"Remus Lupin invites you to Griffin House, Potter Lane"
A smile flittered over Minerva's stern features.
"We thought the name was apt as the house is owned by three Gryffindors and we named the lane ourselves in memory of James and Lily." Remus explained. "The floo address is Prongs. It will only be accessible through this floo."
Minerva nodded again. They repeated their trip through the floo and Remus shut it down as soon as Minerva was through.
He watched as she took a long around the sunny hallway with its wide wooden door leading to the outside and large window showing the open space in front of the house leading to a path that led out to a forest. The hallway itself was painted a warm cream, with natural dark wood flooring, a set of hooks on the wall by the door, an umbrella stand and a sturdy wooden table that would act as a dumping ground for keys and assorted minutiae. A wide wooden staircase led up to the upper floors.
There was a faint pop and the house elf arrived. "May Dobby be taking the cloak and hat of Harry Potter's Professor McGoggles?" He beamed up at her.
She raised an eyebrow but gave up her robe and hat. "Thank you."
"And you Harry Potter's Mooey?" Remus sighed and let the house elf divest him of his outer robe too, the house elf hanging it on a hook. "Tea in the sun room, please, Dobby."
The excited house elf nodded and popped away.
"An unusual elf." Minerva commented.
"Harry freed him from the Malfoys apparently. He turned up out of the blue just as Sirius and I agreed we needed to find an elf for here to help look after Harry. He's a free elf – we're paying him a galleon a month. It tickles Sirius no end." Remus shook his head. "Dobby's incredibly loyal to Harry and protective of him which is the main thing." He smiled happily at her. "Welcome to Harry's new home. Shall I give you a tour? I'd appreciate a female point of view."
"I'd be delighted." Minerva said, smiling.
They went upstairs first. The attic room with its sloping roof and adjoining en-suite bathroom was Remus's – the sign on the door said Moony. A large room on the floor below with a shower room was Sirius's and he too had a sign with his Marauder name.
Minerva's fingers trailed over the sign on the door opposite Sirius's that proclaimed 'Pronglet' and walked inside. She nodded in approval at the warm chocolate colour that predominated on the furnishings, linen and curtains with cream and gold accents. The room wasn't overly large but had the basics of a wardrobe, chest of drawers, bedside table, reading chair and bed. A bookcase filled with Harry's school books, a desk and chair for study were set under the large window to the right that looked out onto the back garden and the countryside beyond. Hedwig snoozed happily on her owl perch beside the desk. There was a small shower-room to the left complete with toilet and sink.
"We've set it up as similar to the room he has at Black Manor but he can charm the colours here to something he prefers once he arrives." Remus explained. "Sirius wants him to have some say in making the room his."
"An excellent idea," Minerva agreed. She waved her wand turning the chocolate to Gryffindor red. "I believe Harry will find the familiarity comforting for his first night."
Remus grinned and ushered her out and down the stairs, briefly showed her the two guest bedrooms before they ended up back in the hallway. There was a large comfortable living room to the front of the house that Minerva exclaimed over. With Remus's permission she conjured a tartan throw for the sofa and some cushions for the chairs. She picked up the photos of the Marauders, Lily and Harry on the mantelpiece, smiling wistfully at all of them before following Remus through into a study filled with bookcases and two desks on opposite walls. The study overlooked the back garden and had doors out to a small patio area.
Remus picked up a file and a book from his desk, and they walked back to the hallway, through another formal reception room where Minerva did the same finishing touches, and into the dining room. It led to the large kitchen where Remus took Minerva down the steps into the basement which had been set up for magical practice. He finally stopped the tour at the large sun room at the back of the house where a table was already laid out with afternoon tea waiting for them.
Remus pulled out Minerva's chair and got her settled before taking his own seat. "So what do you think?"
"It's lovely." Minerva said sincerely. "I believe Harry will be very happy here with you both, Remus." She accepted his silent offer of tea – picking up the teapot – and waited until he had poured her a cup before continuing. "You'll forgive me for noting that I don't believe that this amount of work was possible in just the few days since Sirius was awarded custody."
"No, indeed." Remus filled her in on Sirius assuming his position as the Head of the House of Black; their plan to get Sirius's name cleared; the Ministry's discovery of Harry Potter's muggle life; the immediate awarding of custody to Sirius, and the agreement for the news to leak slowly to the public.
"Quite honestly, we thought we would have another week of wrangling with Fudge about the custody," Remus passed her the plate of warm scones, "but apparently Amelia Bones was horrified by the muggles and pushed for Harry's immediate removal from them."
Minerva sliced her scone open. "I should have listened to my first instinct about those muggles. I don't know why I let Albus talk me into leaving Harry with them. I'd only just found out about Lily and James but that is no excuse for walking away as I did."
"We all walked away, Minerva." Remus pointed out. "Sirius walked away when he handed Harry to Hagrid – something I know haunts him. Hagrid walked away believing as you did that Albus knew best. I held on as long as I could but even I walked away in the end because I had to live my own life. You're not alone in making that mistake. We all trusted Albus to take care of Harry."
Minerva nodded, accepting the comfort as she bit into her scone.
Remus buttered his own scone before he continued. "If the will had emerged sooner, things would have been different, I'm sure."
"Perhaps," Minerva wiped her fingers on a napkin, "although I find myself wondering if I wouldn't have allowed Albus to convince me that Harry was safer with the muggles." She shook her head. "I certainly allowed him to convince me that talking with Harry about his family was inappropriate, but then I do try not to show favouritism at the school."
"So no favouritism except in matters of Quidditch?" Remus teased. "You did make Harry the youngest seeker for a hundred years."
"That was not favouritism," Minerva retorted primly, "it was desperation not to continue losing to Slytherin!"
"I have come to realise with Harry that I have erred badly." Minerva confessed. "I could have arranged to meet him during the Christmas or Easter break and offered him some knowledge of his family. Hagrid said that the muggles had told him next to nothing and while I contributed photos for the album he made…I should have done more."
"I didn't tell Harry about knowing James when I met him either." Remus sympathised. "It's difficult as a professor to communicate that kind of personal information to a student. I didn't realise until I was a teacher just how difficult."
Minerva picked up her cup. "Well, I have decided to request a meeting with Harry once Sirius returns and takes custody of him."
"I'm sure he'll agree but actually Sirius already has custody of Harry." Remus smiled at her shock.
"Thinks Harry is away with his relatives." Remus nodded briskly. "Just as Sirius intended. He took Harry with him to a clinic for treatment. Harry was badly affected by the Dementors during the school year and beyond that…Sirius was unhappy that Harry was, well, small for his age, shall we say? He wanted Harry to get fully checked out."
"A wise and responsible decision." Minerva agreed, blinking back her surprise.
"I'm hoping it's given them some time to bond." Remus said.
"I should have realised when I saw Harry's owl in his room." Minerva fixed him with a stare. "Albus will not be happy when he finds out you kept this from him."
"He'll be even unhappier when he realises that Sirius isn't in Thailand." Remus admitted cheerfully.
"Do I want to know, Mister Lupin?" Minerva questioned with mock sternness.
Remus felt like a student under her gaze again and squirmed. "Sirius guessed Albus would want to speak with him once the guardianship came out and that he would prevail upon me to provide an answer."
Minerva pursed her lips. "You've sent Albus to Thailand?"
"Sirius and Harry will return tomorrow. I expect an adoption ceremony will soon follow," Remus said, "and any opportunity to interfere with the guardianship will be gone."
"That your trust in Albus has eroded so much that you've taken these measures…" Minerva sighed unhappily.
She was still torn, Remus mused; torn between her respect for and loyalty to Albus and her own awakening realisation that Albus's decisions in regards to Harry were not always for the best – and the part she had played in allowing those decisions to stand despite her own reservations.
"You also have to remember that Sirius holds Albus somewhat responsible for his wrongful imprisonment." Remus said softly. "Sirius hasn't spoken to me much about it but I think he was very hurt that he didn't merit even a visit from the leader of the Order to confirm his guilt, not to mention Albus's abrogation of his responsibility as Chief Warlock to ensure that Sirius had a trial."
Minerva sighed heavily. "I cannot blame you or Sirius." She said quietly. "Just as I cannot deny that Albus would interfere if he could." She frowned. "I will not tell Albus you have sent him on a wild nargle chase, Remus, but only because I believe Harry will be much happier here than with those awful muggles."
"Thank you, Minerva." Remus said. "There was something else Sirius wanted me to talk to you about if the will was read ahead of him returning. You know you were on the list of potential guardians? Sirius was hoping you would accept being named as Harry's guardian in the event something happens to him."
"But you…" Minerva's cup clattered back into its saucer.
"Cannot for obvious reasons unless the law regarding werewolves changes." Remus said somewhat pained by the admission. "I believe Sirius has included a clause that specifies you have to allow me access to Harry and keep me on as steward to the House of Potter." He picked up his own cup and took a fortifying sip. "Sirius wanted to honour James and Lily's wishes in following the order of guardianship they laid out. But if you refuse he has others in mind."
Minerva shook herself slightly. "I would be honoured." She smiled at him. "And I have no objection to the clause regarding yourself, Remus. Indeed, such a tragedy occur, I would be grateful for your help."
"I'll confirm the details with Brian then." Remus smiled at her gratefully. "Speaking of Brian, I guess we should cover the changes to the scholarship that you wanted to make?"
"Of course, you're the steward." Minerva realised out loud. She shook herself and smiled at Remus fondly. "You deserve the position, Remus, although what society is going to think of Sirius holding both the House of Black and the regency of the House of Potter…"
"It will certainly be interesting." Remus flipped open the folder and took out a piece of parchment. "Firstly, the change you wish to make to name an unpaid deputy for the scholarship to assist in the selection of the student and oversee anything should you be unavailable…neither Brian nor I have any problems with that. Do you have someone in mind?"
"I was thinking of Filius. He adored Lily when she was a student and he's always had a soft spot for muggleborn children." Minerva said. "He actually made the other suggestion."
"Filius should be fine. The only person I would have seriously objected to is Severus." Remus explained. "Although he was friends with Lily…his treatment of Harry prohibits it."
"I agree with you," Minerva said, "Albus has spoken with Severus but we shall see. The proof is in the casting after all."
"The other suggestion – Filius's was it? – it's an admirable sentiment wanting to either offer the scholarship in retrospect to a deserving muggleborn student from each year since 'eighty-two when the scholarship should have gone into effect, or two students going forward for the next twelve years." Remus said. "Unfortunately, legally, Brian says we can't do it under the terms of the current scholarship. That said, as steward of the House of Potter, I can agree to the equivalent amount of funds for something we'll call the Lily Potter Muggleborn Award. You can award it annually going forward for the next twelve years or in retrospect for twelve deserving recipients, one from each year since 'eighty-two."
"I think the latter would be most appropriate and ensure there is no conflict going forward." Minerva said. "I suggest in fairness we award it to the highest NEWT scoring muggleborn student from the 'eighty-two to 'eighty-three academic year until this past academic year."
"I can agree to that." Remus said. "If you can provide me with the list of recipients, I'll have Brian draw up the legal papers to cover the award and its rules." He considered that Penelope would probably be a recipient; the young assistant was busily tackling the library at Black Manor and loving every minute of it.
"Thank you." Minerva said. "I'd also like Harry to get involved with the scholarship. I would like his input into the selection criteria and he should at least review the possible recipients on parchment and give his opinion before the candidate is chosen. After he's graduated perhaps he could even come along to the interviews if he wished."
"An excellent idea," Remus agreed, "Sirius wants to give some small duties to Harry to start him learning how to be a Head of House. This would work well."
"I confess that Sirius is displaying a maturity about his guardianship that takes me aback, Remus." Minerva set down her cup and looked around the pleasant sun room. "This is going to be a wonderful home for Harry."
"We're going to try our best." Remus said. He closed the folder on the scholarship and tapped the book he had grabbed. "Minerva, there is something else I need your help on. This book contains a spell that Lily performed on Harry just before she died – in fact the sacrifice of her death to save him triggered the spell. We think it was partially responsible for helping Harry survive the Killing Curse. There's a second ritual to…maintain the protection that I've marked. I'd like a second opinion."
It was a simple enough in theory, on the assumption of a blood adoption it involved female witches in the adoptive family blessing the renewal of the protection with a simple ritual – it didn't seem to call for them to die thankfully – but he'd feel better if someone else cast their eye over it in case they found something he'd missed.
Minerva's eyebrows were almost at her hairline. "I'd be happy to take a look, Remus." She examined his face intently. "You intend to do it if it's possible?"
"Sirius will do everything and anything needed to protect Harry, Minerva." Remus said simply. "Anything." He paused as he held her gaze. "And so will I. I won't walk away again."
Her expression shifted to determination and she nodded slowly. "Neither will I, Remus, neither will I."
Time Bubble: August 31st 1994
Harry shrieked as Huritt dragged him back under the water and Kimi squirted a water gun at her cousin. The sight of his godson playing with such carefree abandon made Sirius smile so much that his face ached.
"It is a happy sight." Noshi said beside him.
They were ostensibly keeping an eye on the kids playing in the pool from the safety of the cabin's deck. It was a leaving party for Harry and Sirius – mostly for Harry – as they were heading home the next day.
Sirius tilted his pumpkin juice in the direction of the pool. "It is. I should thank you for introducing them. Harry's made two great friends."
"After the events of Monday I am surprised you are thanking me." Noshi said with a rueful smile.
Monday when Harry had gone to Huritt's for dinner and somehow all three kids had ended up soused on muggle beer. A drunk Harry didn't have control of his magic and it was a wonder that the damage to Huritt's house had been localised to the teen's bedroom. Luckily, Huritt and Kimi had also emerged unscathed. Huritt's parents had been warned by the house wards and managed to get Harry sobered up, back to the clinic and into isolation overnight before anything else had happened.
Sirius had run the gamut of emotions that night – concerned at the news Harry was in isolation, angry that Harry had been irresponsible in getting drunk, relieved beyond anything he was fine, a little amused in truth that Harry was being a typical teenager, and more than a little anxious at the realisation he was going to have to man up, be a parent and punish him.
"How did Huritt get hold of the beer anyway?" Sirius asked. Quiet, sensible Huritt would have been the last person he'd have picked to break the rules. But then Remus had been the same way – in hindsight, he should have known.
"His older brother gave it to him on learning that Huritt's relationship with his girlfriend had ended." Noshi sighed. "He advised Huritt to drown his sorrows. Their mother is not best pleased with either of them. I had to intercede to allow Huritt to come to this farewell meal."
"Thank you." Sirius murmured. "I can appreciate her point of view. Harry and I had a long talk about his punishment…but I couldn't take today away from him for a first offence."
"First offence?" Noshi said, eyes twinkling with amusement.
"Charlus Potter's punishment system. I figure James would have used it on Harry and Harry would respect it knowing it was his grandfather's system." Sirius explained. "For minor stuff, there were three stages of punishment. First offence: you did something you know or suspected was wrong but probably didn't anticipate the consequences. Second offence: you repeated something you know was wrong and were aware of the consequences. Third offence: you're a repeat offender and clearly don't care about the consequences. Then, there was the major stuff which was considered a capital offence if you did it – things that were not allowed under any circumstances, rules that couldn't be broken such as hurting someone unless in self-defence, deliberately destroying property in anger…that kind of thing."
"And punishment increases on the severity of the offence?" Noshi nodded. "It's a good system."
"I also followed Healer Fay's advice and asked Harry what he thought his punishments should be for each offence." Sirius took a sip of his juice. "She was right that he responded well to that. He knows exactly what he'll get now and has agreed to it. For Monday, he lost his flying privileges and was grounded for a week, and his friends ban, because he didn't do it alone, has only been revoked today for extraordinary circumstances."
"A fair punishment." Noshi commented. "I am glad Healer Fay advised you well."
"She also told me it was a good sign that he's comfortable enough to test our relationship with bad behaviour." Sirius commented wryly. "It's not exactly the way I wanted proof that he'd settled."
Noshi gave a short laugh. "But she is right; that he feels secure enough to test your boundaries is encouraging."
"I hate having to punish him," Sirius admitted, "I feel like a complete fraud after everything I did as a teenager. I can't wait until he's an adult and I don't have to do it anymore."
"I was also pleased when my children became fully adult but then I realised I had also lost the ability to punish them when they were being stupid." Noshi commented. "You cannot win as a parent."
"I guess not." Sirius said laughing. He sobered a little, gaze drifting back to Harry who had gotten hold of the water pistol and had started shooting a shrieking Kimi. "I am also very thankful we found out that he had this problem with alcohol here and not at home."
"You will need to be certain that he understands the dangers." Noshi agreed. "Until he is older and the control of his magic is as second nature to him…and even then I am not sure I would not recommend he partake of any alcohol with the power he has."
"He's a good kid on the whole so I don't think there'll be an issue." Sirius said. "But I will talk to him again."
"And what of you, Sirius?" Noshi asked. "Are you ready to go home?"
"In some ways, no." Sirius admitted with a long sigh. "Here feels safe and secure – we're hidden from the world. Whereas there's a lot of work to do to get Harry protected properly when I go back; a lot of political fencing that I'll need to do. I'm not looking forward to that part."
"And the other part?"
"Our new home should be ready which I can't wait to see," Sirius said, "and I want to get Harry settled and for us to enjoy living as a family before he heads back to Hogwarts."
"You would prefer it if he didn't go." Noshi surmised, observing Sirius's grimace.
"He's been in danger every year he's attended. Last year was partially my fault so I share some of the blame for that but…" Sirius sighed. "I'd prefer to home school him and know that he's safe but as Moony would point out to me, what I'd really prefer is to wrap Harry totally in cotton wool and hide him away from the whole world for the rest of his life which is unrealistic. So…he has friends at Hogwarts; he loves it there. I won't stop him from attending."
Noshi patted his shoulder. "It is a wise man that does not try to stop the stampeding buffalo."
Sirius smiled at the saying and nodded.
"You have a clean bill of health, Sirius. Your mind is mended once more; your body strong." Noshi said firmly. "If you and Harry continue as you are, I believe you will both find much happiness and love in your lives."
"I hope so." Sirius said fervently. Especially as there was something he needed to discuss with Harry…
The party broke up after dinner and Sirius watched Harry say goodbye to his friends with nostalgic sympathy and some amusement when Kimi kissed Harry on the cheek and Harry blushed in response.
"You'll write." Sirius commented after the door was closed and Harry collapsed into a chair in front of the fire.
"I know but it's not the same."
Harry had a small whine in his voice. It was a sign of how much he loved the kid that he thought it adorable rather than annoying, Sirius mused fondly.
"We can visit next year," Sirius said, poking the fire, "or they could visit us."
"Yeah?" Harry perked up at the idea. "That would be cool."
Sirius raised his eyebrows; Harry's accent and words had taken on an American twang but he figured it would fade once they got back to Britain. "We'll see how your letter writing goes. If you're still in contact with them by Easter, I'll write to Noshi and see what can be arranged."
A visit by Kimi and Huritt to Britain would be possible but Sirius wanted to make sure it was safe for them before inviting them. If Peter had found Voldemort…
"So." Sirius put the poker down and stood up. He cleared his throat as nerves curdled in his belly. "There's something important that I need to ask you before we leave."
Harry's gaze met his and he could see a hint of uncertainty flicker in the teen's eyes.
"I love you, Harry, and I would very much like to adopt you." Sirius said quickly. "If you would like me to."
Harry stared at him for a long moment. Suddenly, he launched himself across the space between them and tackled Sirius into a hug.
Sirius rocked back a little before righting them both, holding Harry tightly. He could feel Harry shaking and rubbed his back soothingly. "I take it that's a yes?"
Harry nodded but didn't speak and Sirius let him get his emotions under control. Harry finally pulled away and swiped a hand under his glasses swiftly. "Yes," his voice broke on the word and Sirius stifled the urge to shush him and hug the hell out of him again seeing Harry's determination to speak, "I would like that, to be adopted."
Sirius hugged him, he couldn't stop himself, his own set of tears catching against the back of his throat and stinging the back of his eyes. Eventually they both stepped back and wiped their faces sheepishly.
"Well, we're a pair, aren't we?" Sirius said and he could see the flush of delight in Harry's eyes at the statement. He nudged him over to the sofa and sat down. "So, I'm assuming you don't know about the adoption ritual?"
Harry frowned and shook his head. "What is it?"
"It falls under family magic. It's quite simple really. I prick my finger, put some blood in a ritual bowl and swear an oath that I take you to be my son. You do the same only you swear an oath that you take me to be your father." Sirius continued. "Legally, it has no meaning and we still have to file papers with the WOO for the legal side of things, but from a magical perspective you'd be my son."
"So I become a Black instead of a Potter?" Harry asked confusion in his green eyes. "Does that mean I stop being the Potter heir or…"
"No, no." Sirius said firmly. "You will always be your Dad's heir in all respects – your Mum's too. They made you so you're theirs – always. This just magically adds me to the list of parents. As for your name…" he gestured at Harry, "you could be Harry James Potter, Lord Potter-Black or Lord Harry James Potter-Black or Harry James Black, Lord Potter-Black. It's entirely up to you. Having said that…Potter, well, it's…it's your Dad's name and I respect that. I don't need you to take mine. Truthfully, I think you're always going to be known as Harry Potter to our world whether you do a name change or not."
"I don't know," Harry said, "I mean I think you're right that even if I change my name people will still call me Harry Potter but I like the idea of not being that Harry Potter."
"Well, there's plenty of time to think about it." Sirius patted Harry's arm. "Any other questions?"
Harry scratched his forehead, along the line of his faint scar, and bit his lip. "What happens if you have other kids?"
Sirius thought that was highly unlikely although it was something his own mind healer had tried to get him to consider. His upbringing just hadn't allowed for him to consider relationships and marriage as anything other than political manoeuvrings, but then later, James and Lily had spoiled him into wanting the same thing they'd had – a real love and partnership. But he knew he struggled with emotional intimacy and that didn't bode well for the latter kind of relationship, and he didn't see a political need to marry to have to put up with the former.
"If I do get married and have children, I would still consider you my firstborn." Sirius replied to Harry. "I do consider you my firstborn."
"But…isn't it unfair if I inherit your things if you have kids of your own? Shouldn't they get everything?" Harry pressed.
Sirius smiled. "It isn't unfair because you are one of my children. If I have other children, then yes, there'll be bequests to them too from a monetary and property perspective, but I would still want you to inherit as my Heir." He made a dismissive gesture. "Look, if after my death, you wanted to name a child of mine Heir to the House of Black so they would inherit on your death, you could do. Or you could name your eldest son as Heir to both the Houses, or name one child Heir to the House of Potter and another Heir to the House of Black. Really, all this is very hypothetical given all these other children, yours and mine, are imaginary at this point."
"I guess," Harry agreed vaguely.
"The other reason why I would prefer you as the next Head of the House of Black is political." Sirius admitted. "If the House is going to build a different reputation then it has to be led by wizards who are loyal to the Light. So if a Potter, you, led the House that would help to turn our reputation around. And I doubt you're going to have issues with the heir ritual; you're a powerful wizard and the family magic loves power."
Harry nodded in understanding. "You wanted to do the inheritance ritual for my Potter magic once we got back anyway didn't you?" They'd talked about it in the last politics lesson.
Sirius grinned at him. "Yes, and we'll definitely do your Potter inheritance ritual first. The Black magic is Dark in origin and I want you protected by the Light magic of the Potters. We'll have to organise some witnesses for the adoption ritual which will take a few days."
Harry nodded and half-way through yawned widely.
"Bed." Sirius declared. "We have an early start again tomorrow." He enjoyed the brief hug Harry gave him and watched him head off to his room with a giddy joy; Harry had said yes to the adoption. He did a happy little dance around the fireplace before banking the fire and heading to his own bed.
The morning dawned bright and early, Harry complained good-naturedly at taking the de-aging potion again and as soon as five year old Harry made an appearance, he was just as adorably cute as ever – and wanted his stuffed bear back.
Sirius watched with amusement as he turned Healer Fay and Doctor Jordan to mush. He shook his head as Harry hugged Noshi goodbye holding onto the bear all the while. If only he had a camera, thought Sirius, the blackmail opportunities were immense.
Harry clambered into the waiting car where a grinning Mick waited to drive them to the airport. Sirius turned to the healers to say his own goodbyes.
"Don't forget to keep up with your exercise." Doctor Jordan nagged as she accepted his hug.
Healer Fay, a young brunette, surreptitiously wiped her eyes. "I'm going to miss Harry. Make sure he does his Occlumency exercises and if you need advice…"
"Thank you." Sirius said truly grateful.
"I believe my colleagues have covered everything." Noshi held out his hand and Sirius shook it warmly.
Noshi froze and his eyes took on a distant look before refocusing on Sirius with a gravity in them that turned Sirius's stomach.
"What?" demanded Sirius as the old wizard released his hand.
"You will bring Harry to me again." Noshi said with a deep sigh. "He will face a great evil and you will bring him here to heal."
Sirius shivered, a cold dread stealing over him. "When?"
Noshi shrugged apologetically. "Perhaps a year, maybe more." He grimaced. "I cannot be certain."
Sirius nodded sharply, remembering how they had talked of Sight and prophecy. "Thank you for everything."
"Goodbye, my friend." Noshi said.
He made his way to the car and coaxed Harry into his seatbelt. But as the car pulled away from the clinic and made its way down the driveway, Sirius couldn't help but want to turn back to the safety of the place.
He glanced over at Harry who grinned at him.
Bugger the vision Noshi had Seen. Sirius smiled back at his godson and brushed a hand over Harry's head.
Sirius would keep Harry safe; he'd keep him safe no matter what.