Sirius and Irena made their way back to Nottingham and their house by way of apparition. It was beginning to be light outside, with the eastern horizon turning a rosy pink.
"We'll floo to Dumbledore's office, then? I am far to tired to apparate any more, let alone all that distance to Scotland. And I actually slept. You've been up all night Padfoot, are you sure you haven't been splinched?" fretted Irene, giving Sirius a quick once-over to make sure of his health.
"I'm fine. Let's go." replied Padfoot grumpily, causing Irene to shake her head.
She stepped into the house, crossing the atrium on silent feet before going up the large, velvet-carpeted staircase two at a time, coming to a halt in front of the second floor landing and going down the hallway to the master suite.
Once dressed in finely woven black robes over a black-satin-beneath-white-lace gown, Irena walked out of her closet to wait for Sirius, who was presumably splashing water onto his face in the bathroom trying to regain a decent complexion.
"Padfoot?" she asked softly, approaching the door to the master bathroom which had been left cracked open. "Sirius, love?" she called a bit louder, pushing open the door.
Sirius was standing stock-still, his elbows resting on the countertop on either side of the sink, and his forehead against the large mirror above.
"They're gone, Markside. Gone…" he whispered, his voice hoarse.
"Oh Sirius," Irena's face softened, walking up to her husband and laying a comforting hand on his shoulder, "Harry is still here. He needs us, Siri. Let's go."
Shoving away from the countertop, Sirius nodded. "You're right." he said simply.
They walked downstairs, coming to a halt in front of the main fireplace in the foyer, on the other side of the spiral staircase from the front doors.
"Here, let me brush your hair right quick, you'll be a little more presentable." murmured Irena, conjuring a brush and a leather cord, tying back her husband's shoulder-length hair in a low ponytail.
"You want to go first?" she asked, and Sirius nodded, taking hold of a handful of floo powder and stepping into the large marble fireplace. "Hogwarts headmaster's office!" he said clearly, letting go of the grey powder and disappearing into the green flames.
Irena followed his example, enunciating the words as she dropped the powder into the fireplace, "Hogwarts headmaster's office!"
Once she arrived in the familiar office, Irena stepped carefully out of the fireplace.
"Here she is," she heard Sirius announce, and Irena looked carefully around the room. The minister of Magic, Millicent Bagnold was there, as well as Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid. Also occupying the space was Rufus Scrimgeour, head of the Auror office.
"Mrs. Black, I presume? It's an honor to meet you. I believe yourself and your husband are here to claim young Mr. Potter?" asked the Minister, and Irena nodded. "Yes ma'am, Miss Bagnold. My husband and I were named godparents to Harry, and it is our responsibility as such to claim him in the event of his parents' demise." she responded, only to be approached by Dumbledore.
"I was under the impression that you, Sirius were the secret-keeper of the Potters' whereabouts through the fidelus charm." he said flatly, with a grim look between her and Sirius.
"Headmaster, we know the extent of your knowledge on the subject and are prepared to explain te situation fully." Sirius stood tall, looking into the headmaster's -for once- mirthless blue eyes.
"Do continue, Mr. Black." said the Minister, squaring her shoulders and standing up a bit straighter in preparation to hear Sirius's story.
"The original plan between Lily and James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin, my wife, and myself was to have me be the secret keeper. This is the plan that was stated to everyone on the, for lack of a better term, outside of our circle of friends. However, before this plan was put into place, my wife and I met with the Potters again, to discuss an idea that had recently occurred to me. This idea was that Peter Pettigrew, being physically weaker and less connected to the Potters would make a better candidate for secret-keeper. My reasoning on this matter was that more people would expect me, as I would be the obvious choice beside Irena as the secret-keeper. I was James's best friend, after all." Sirius choked up a bit, before controlling his emotions and continuing with his account of the events. "We made Peter the secret-keeper. He and I met regularly to discuss how things were going with the Potters' security, although he seemed increasingly edgy in my presence, as well as in the presence of Remus, James, Lily and Irena. Last week, he visited the Potters, and seemed very ashamed and sad for some mysterious reason, as Lily wrote to me this past weekend." Sirius held up the letter, giving it to Minister Bagnold, who unfolded it, her eyes skimming through the letter until she nodded, pointing out the corresponding line to Dumbledore and Scrimgeour, respectively.
"Peter and I were supposed to meet again tonight. When he did not show up, I grew worried, as did Irena. We dropped off our daughter Aloria at Irena's parents' home, and took my flying motorbike to Godric's Hollow. We discovered the Potter's home in ruins, James and Lily dead from use of the killing curse," he paused, tears welling up in his eyes before he blinked them back determinedly. "Irena discovered Harry in the nursery, which is when Hagrid arrived." here he nodded towards the half-giant, who nodded back in confirmation. "Irena passed Harry into the temporary care of Hagrid, and she and I apparated to Peter's hideout in London. We discovered his home completely empty of both Peter and his most favored belongings, with no sign of a struggle. From there we concluded that he was to blame for the Potter's discovery and demise at the hands of Voldemort, and decided that we should return to you, Headmaster, as well as Minister Bagnold, to discuss with you what actually happened, so as to avoid any confusion as to the circumstances of Lily and James Potter's demise. We have also come to claim responsibility for Harry as his godparents, as named by his parents." Sirius finished, looking between the minister and Dumbledore.
"Would you be willing to provide your memories of the relevant events as proof?" asked Scrimgeour, and Irena and Sirius nodded. Dumbledore brought out his pensieve, the coveted memory-viewer, as Sirius and Irena put their wand tips to their temples, drawing out filmy silver strands of memory, although being careful to leave out anything that had to do with the fact that they and their friends were uncertified animagi.
Irena put her memories into a small glass vial, corking it as Sirius placed his directly into the pensieve.
The Minister entered his memories, as did Dumbledore and Scrimgeour, and the rest of them waited for them to surface, with Irena looking softly at the basket on Dumbledore's desk containing Harry. Once the people exited the memories of Sirius, Irena stood and emptied her own memories into the basin, the Headmaster, minister, and head Auror diving into her own memories as well.
Once they all exited the basin, they looked at the Blacks with sad eyes.
"I have come to my conclusion, Mr. and Mrs. Black." The minister said, her brown eyes traveling between them. "Young Mr. Potter will be placed under your care. And you are both aurors, are you not?" she asked, receiving a nod from the pair. "Good. It will now be your responsibility to track down Peter Pettigrew so that he may stand trial for his crimes. Irena, you may take up this job once you are finished with your maternity leave, which you may extend due to your now increased responsibility of dealing with young Mr. Potter as well. Is that understood?" Irena and Sirius nodded, and the minister turned to Scrimgeour. "And you, Mr. Scrimgeour?"
"I understand perfectly, Minister." the lion-like man nodded, earning a return nod from his superior.
"Here is young Mr. Potter, Irena. Take good care of him," said McGonagall, handing off the basket to Irena.
"Thank you Minerva. And we thank all of you for hearing us out on this case, as soon as we get Harry situated into our home, you could expect me back at work, if that is agreeable to you, Mr. Scrimgeour." Sirius declared, and upon receiving a nod from the head auror, the Minister spoke up.
"Well now that this matter has been settled, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor to find Mr. Pettigrew, Mr. and Mrs. Black. Would either of you be against your memories being stored in a file for Mr. Pettigrew's impending trial upon his capture?"
"No, minister. Neither my wife nor myself have any qualms on the matter." Sirius answered.
"Well in that case, I bid you all farewell, come along Mr. Scrimgeour." the minister and head auror exited through the fireplace, and as the green flames subsided, Irena stepped in next. "Farewell Headmaster, Minerva. Farewell Hagrid, and thank you for looking after Harry temporarily." Irena smiled softly at the room before carrying dropping her handful of powder and disappearing into the green flames with a declaration of "The Light House of Black!"
Irena appeared back in the foyer of her and Sirius's house, stepping out of the fireplace just in time for Sirius to appear in one of the four others on the other side of the main staircase.
"Do you want to go get Lori?" asked Irena, standing at the foot of the staircase with Harry's basket in her arms.
"Sure. You can go ahead and put Harry in the spare nursery we had for him for whenever Lily and James visited." Sirius replied, passing a hand over his forehead, looking increasingly tired and worn.
Irena gave him a small smile, climbing the staircase as her husband disappeared once more into the emerald flames.