AN Disclaimer Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling I own nothing. This is fanfiction, I make no money out of this whatsoever. Now that's out of the way...

Chapter 18

Harry had only just stepped inside the house when he found himself flying backwards straight into Sirius as something tackled his legs. His Pa caught him and steadied him, and it was only once he had regained his breath that Harry looked down to see what had collided with him and he was immediately face to face with a sobbing house elf. "Young Master has come back," the creature sobbed as it clung to his legs.

Harry looked up at Sirius with an expression that could only mean help. He may have grown up around Kitzy but the young elf had never tackled him in the same way this one had, not to mention he didn't know what to do when people started to cry let alone a house elf. Chuckling kindly at his son's expression Sirius leant down, "Hello Mopsa."

The change in the elf was startling. Instantly she looked up, her expression bordering between fear and wariness as she looked at Sirius. "Master Sirius has come back," she said suspiciously, "Master Sirius has come back with the Young Master but they say Master Sirius betrayed Master James and Mistress Lily."

Harry drew breath to defend his Pa. He hated it that people blamed his Pa for his parent's deaths, his Pa was the nicest person in the world and he would never be the murderer everyone thought he was. He had been the best Pa he could have asked for and even though he had never told Pa this, knowing that he didn't want to take the place of Harry's first Dad, he thought of his Pa as his father and there was no one else he would have accepted in that role. But before he could draw breath to tell the elf this Sirius spoke.

"I know that's what they say about me Mopsa but I never betrayed James or Lily, you know James was my brother in all but blood and I would have died before I betrayed them." The elf regarded him for a moment, her eyes drifting down to the empty air where they both knew the bond could be seen before she nodded.

"I believes you Master Sirius," she said eventually, "You couldn't have betrayed them and you've brought the Young Master back heres." Sirius smiled at the elf, who now she had decided that Sirius was not a threat, was almost bouncing with her excitement of finally having Harry and people back in the manor. "Would you please prepare bedrooms for us, I think James's and mine would be suitable." He instructed her. The two bedrooms were next to one another along a corridor with a connecting door and he knew Harry would prefer it if he was nearby.

"Kitzy, one of the Black Family elves has been caring for us when we had no access to the manor and will bring our baggage here shortly. I know the manor is large and in the absence of a retainer it is more work than a single elf can manage to look after the house and the farm."

"You is giving me another elf to work with?" There was definite hope in the elf's voice and Sirius nodded.

"Kitzy has been a loyal elf for the past four years and I believe that together you will be able to care for us and manage the farm." The little elf's eyes grew as wide as saucers as she nodded. "We's can be doing that Master Sirius." Sirius smiled and thanked her before turning back to Harry,

"We need to go the wardstone pup – the main blood wards will be up but there are other things you can activate now the manor is out of lockdown." Harry nodded immediately, he was going to do everything to make sure that he kept both him and his Pa safe. He was never going to let anyone take Pa away from him, he was not to lose the only person who loved him.

Sirius led him down a small tunnel that led into the depths of the manor and they were approaching the ward stone when Harry remembered something Sirius had taught him about ward stones, especially the family ones. "Why do you know about this one Pa?" he asked, "I thought they were hidden from anyone not in the family?"

The tunnel was too narrow for him to see his Pa's expression but he felt the flood of sadness which swept down the bond. Instantly Harry felt awful and he wrapped his arms as well as he could around his Pa, trying to comfort him the same way that Sirius had done for him so often. Somewhat awkwardly Sirius twisted round in the narrow space and sat down. Harry immediately climbed into his lap, snuggling up against him as he tried to convey how sorry he was, and tried to make him feel better. He felt his Pa's arms wrap around him even as he murmured, "I'm sorry Pa."

"It's alright puppy," Sirius murmured in reply, "You weren't to know." The silence stretched for several moments and Harry felt some of his Pa's sadness recede before Sirius spoke again. "When I was sixteen I ran away from home," he said quietly and Harry stared up at him, emerald eyes wide with shock.

His Pa had never spoken much about his childhood, he had told him stories about his time at Hogwarts and the things he had got up to in the summers with James and stories from after they had left Hogwarts and Harry had never really asked. At first it hadn't occurred to him and when he got a little older he had realised that Sirius got upset if he asked or only gave short answers so he had stopped asking. He had been curious but there were so many other stories and so many other interesting things to learn that he had put it from his mind and thought about other things.

"I came to the Potters," Sirius continued softly, "They took me in as a second son and pretty much became my parents. Most of my family didn't want me so your granddad decided to make me part of the Potter family too. It meant I am recognised as part of the Potter family too, and that I know about the family only areas but I could never be the Head of House." Harry nodded but didn't make any attempt to move from his position in his Pa's arms; he knew that at the moment his Pa needed him and he was not going to let his Pa down when he had been there for him so many times before.

They remained there for several more moment before his Pa pressed a kiss to his forehead before standing, "We'd better get the wards up puppy, I can tell you what to do but I can't manipulate them myself." Harry nodded but made sure to stay close to his Pa as they headed deeper down the narrow tunnel. Eventually they reached what appeared to be a dead end and Harry looked up at Sirius in confusion.

A hint of a grimace flashed across his Pa's features. "This door is blood locked," he said softly, "It needs a little of your blood on it before it will open and the ward stone will require the same." Harry made a face but he stuck his hand out, he would do anything to make sure that they would stay safe and he knew that his Pa would be as gentle as possible as the last thing he wanted was to hurt Harry, the protections however made that impossible.

He saw the apology in his Pa's eyes and felt his pain across the bond as he gently prodded the end of Harry's finger with the point of a dagger, drawing a small well of blood. Harry couldn't stop the grimace but he quickly wiped his finger across the stone, leaving a smear of blood behind. As soon as his finger was away his Pa caught his hand and healed it with a murmured incantation and Harry smiled up at him. His godfather brushed a light kiss onto his head as the stone slowly started to pull open.

Harry didn't know what he had expected but the small, rough hewn chamber decorated with a myriad of runes was not it. The room, if you could call it that, was dark with the only light coming from a single gem set in the centre of the room, and a handful of other gems that seemed to be set into the walls. They were all glowing softly and casting long shadows of the chamber walls, drawing the runes half in shadow.

But it was the crystals themselves which drew his gaze. They were large, the smallest being the size of his fist whilst the largest nearly the size of a football. He thought they were gems but he couldn't quite be sure, they were so large and they lacked the shine of a real gem but what else could it be? No stone could glow like they did and no stone would have the myriad of faces, each as smooth as a mirror and the edges razor sharp.

Facets of the crystals glowed with magic and he could fell the magic pulsing in this room, growing until it was almost oppressive within the stone walls. He knew without a doubt that this place was powerful and he didn't know how but he knew that the power was coming from somewhere, and it was that well of power that had kept his family safe through time and it was that power that was going to keep him and his Pa safe once again.

"You need to smear a little of your blood on the central crystal," His Pa instructed softly, "Then place your hand on the crystal, the magic in it will guide you to what you need to do." His voice was quiet, an instinctual response to the power and magic that vibrated from the stones, suffusing the chamber's very walls. Harry bit his lip as he held out his hand once more and he felt his Pa rub his shoulder comfortingly before carefully and as gently as he could, he nicked Harry's finger just deep enough to cause beads of blood to seep out.

Quickly Harry placed his bloody fingertip on a cool facet of the central stone and a scarlet stain spread through the stone. He cast a frantic glance back at his Pa although he didn't remove his hand. "It's what it's supposed to do puppy," his Pa told him quietly and he might have started to say something else but at that moment the crystal suddenly flared, the magic bursting outwards and immediately Harry's attention was pulled down to the crystal.

He didn't know how, but suddenly all the knowledge of how to manipulate the wards was there, all it needed was his command. Between one breath and the next he ordered the wards up on maximum strength possible when the house was on lockdown. Only humans which were personally keyed by blood into the wards by Harry or had Potter blood in their veins and meant no harm to him could get through and anyone who was foolish enough to try would find themselves in trouble.

The wards wouldn't kill outright, not even on the maximum setting but there were several potentially lethal defences and they were almost the perfect defence. Firstly the house was almost completely hidden, it was unplottable and there was a modified version of a fidelius covering the entire property. Only those who had been keyed into the wards could even be told the secret and the secret keeper was the Head of the Potter family or the Heir when no Head existed. And then there were the defences themselves.

It started with anti apparition and anti portkey – with the exception of the rings given to family members – wards, and strong muggle repelling and compulsion charms aimed at anyone who came wandering, be they wizard or muggle. If someone tried to beat the compulsion or managed to, and only a strong witch or wizard or a team of working together could do so, things became a little messy.

It started out innocently enough, repeated waves of minor spells and hexes, irritants for the most part, bat bogey hexes, avis charms, tickling charms, dancing charms, basic transfigurations on items of clothing, augementi charms, jelly legs jinks, colour changing charms and sticking charms. None of them were dangerous but their purpose was to wear an attacker down as they would be forced to keep up a shield and reverse the charms and hexes which would take up a lot of magical power and to ensure that they didn't take down the shield there were a few nastier spells in there such as stunners and body binds. Not only was it designed to waste magical power it would also make it more difficult to concentrate on taking down the wards themselves, and it would buy the manor's inhabitants time. It was never intended to stop someone but to make them easier to stop.

The next set of wards became much more dangerous, a whole barrage of offensive spells would assault the attackers, from stunners and body binds to fire and explosive spells. Nothing was intended the actually kill, only incapacitate but that didn't mean that if someone was unlucky enough or wasn't able to keep their shield up that they couldn't be killed although any intruders that were stunned or bound while in this level or higher would instantly be portkeyed to a small cell nearly a mile underground and at the far edge of the estate. Inside the cell food and water were provided, as well as a small bed and one wall was enchanted to be a single way mirror, to allow the Potters to see who they had captured. There were anti-apparation and anti-portkey spells in the cell itself and only the Head of the Potter family or the Heir could command the magics within the cell, either to release someone or bring them into questioning.

But it was the last stage which was the most dangerous. Not only did the same barrage of spells from the previous rounds continue to bombard the besiegers but it was only now did some of Potter Manors most feared defences come into play, the ground upon which the last wards were raised was a trap. Once you entered that area, the ground gave way, dropping any attacker 50 feet into a labyrinth before closing above them once more. Not even the strongest blasting curses could cleave through 50 feet of solid rock.

The fall itself would not kill an attacker, they wanted them to survive long enough so that they could be taken into custody and questioned but even so the labyrinth was deadly. Not only was it pitch dark but it was filled with a bewildering number of plants and golems all designed to restrain or incapacitate and unlike its name suggested, there was no way out, the only way possible was for the attacker to painstakingly carve out a passage to the surface and climb out. Not to mention that they had no food and the only way they could get water was through a spell which required even more magical power so it was very likely that before long they would collapse with exhaustion or hunger, and the moment they let their guard down they would be found and restrained.

Nobody had ever passed Potter Manor's defences, and few had made it as far as the trap but the stories spread by those who had, or those who had seen companions vanish before them before they turned tail and ran had spread throughout the wizarding world, not even Voldemort at the height of his powers had dared to attack Potter Manor, but there had been the definite feeling that he would come eventually, when all else was destroyed and then not even the Manor would have protected them, not to mention, it had been being used as a sanctuary for muggleborns during the war and James and Lily had preferred to raise Harry in a home where they could be certain it was not infiltrated.

But Harry didn't know this, all he knew was that the wards were up and he knew that he would have the knowledge of how to operate them if the house came under attack and he would be able to defend his home. He lifted his hand off the stone and instantly his legs gave way as a wave of fatigue swept through him, but before he could hit the floor he felt his Pa's arms catch him and he was pulled gently against a warm chest.

"The wards are up," he murmured tiredly and he felt his Pa's fingers start to stroke softly through his hair,

"I know puppy," came the whispered reply, "You did very well, now sleep while I sort the house out." Harry was only too glad to comply. He vaguely registered that Sirius had stood and was carefully carrying him up the narrow tunnel but before they reached the manor once more he fell asleep.

Harry blinked tiredly, raising a hand to try and wipe the sleep from his eyes. His other hand scrabbled around for his glasses, knowing that his Pa would not have put him to bed without putting his glasses somewhere within easy reach. Finding them he grabbed them and shoved them onto his face before looking around curiously. He could see immediately that he was in what would now be his room as all his things were spread throughout the room, placed on shelves and put away tidily. He'd rearrange everything of course but the fact it had been unpacked here told him strongly that this was definitely his room.

A quick glance at his alarm clock told him that it was around seven in the morning, it seemed that after he had powered up the wards he'd gone to sleep and he'd slept through the remainder of the afternoon as well as the night. A growling in his stomach spoke loudly, reminding him that he hadn't eaten since yesterday lunchtime and he was now definitely hungry, and another glance round the room revealed that his Pa wasn't here either, and he knew that he didn't have a clue where anything was in the house so he'd have to find his Pa before he could do anything.

He saw that the room he was in had three doors and he wondered which he should try first. Quickly he decided that the best thing would be to look in all of them and then he could decide which one to try, because although he wouldn't admit it, he was feeling a little nervous alone in a house he didn't know his way around and he wanted to find his Pa so he wasn't alone anymore and he knew that he would be protected. The first door he tried revealed a hallway, and the second revealed a bathroom, but it was with the third that he struck gold.

The door cracked open to reveal another bedroom and his roving eyes caught sight of some of his Pa's favourite pictures adorning the walls. It was obvious that this was Sirius's bedroom and without any hesitation he headed into the room, a smile lighting up his face as he noticed the person asleep in the other bed. He crept forward, vaguely registering that he was in his pyjama's and that his Pa must have changed his clothes before he put him to bed. Stealthily he slipped round the bed until he was standing behind his godfather, grinning to himself he pounced on the sleeping form of his Pa only to find that the man rolled away and an arm reached out and captured him, pulling him close.

Instinctively he snuggled closer, even as Sirius's arms tightened around him and he found himself being tucked into a tender embrace. "Good morning puppy," The amused voice of his Pa came from above him, "Haven't you yet learnt that you can't surprise me in the mornings?" Pouting a little Harry burrowed a little deeper into the safe hold his Pa had him in. It was true though, even though he invariably tried to wake his Pa up this sort of way, he had never managed to get the better of him.

Of course Harry still wasn't aware that Sirius made a point of placing wards around his doors, specifically designed to wake him if Harry came into his room in the night. They were mainly to deal with the nightmares but Sirius had to admit that there were certain benefits, namely that he never got woken up by his godson in one scheme or another because while Harry hadn't inherited James's passion for pranks he couldn't deny that his child could create some very interesting schemes and plans if he felt safe enough to do so. Needless to say, it was usually Sirius that any such plans were aimed at, as Harry hadn't felt safe enough to target anyone else, and in their practice fights and dodging lessons he encouraged Harry to be a devious as possible. It was only natural that Harry would start trying to be devious at other times, although he had to admit that this side of his godson hadn't really come out until Harry had been living with him for over a year and a half.

Sirius pulled himself up into a sitting position, keeping Harry tucked securely against his side, he was just about to start speaking when he heard his child's stomach rumble and he slanted an amused glance down at his child, "Am I to presume by that awful growling that I just heard that a certain puppy might be a little hungry?" He asked teasingly. In response he felt Harry snuggle a little closer to him as a slightly sheepish, "Maybe," was heard. Chuckling lightly Sirius pressed a kiss onto his son's head before gently shooing the boy back to his own room, "Get dressed and then I'll show you where the kitchen is and I'm sure Mopsa and Kitzy will have something ready."

Harry didn't need telling twice and he shot off in the direction he thought would take him to his room only to chose the wrong door and end up in Sirius's bathroom. Sirius couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up and he smiled as Harry sent a rather betrayed look in his direction even as he pointed him in the direction of the correct door. "I'll show you round after breakfast," he promised him, "And it won't be long before you are running around here like you've lived here all your life."

A few minutes later Harry hurried back into the room to find Sirius waiting for him and his Pa smiled down at him before reaching down and taking his hand. He led Harry through the house, pointing out the different rooms and passageways. Harry tried valiantly to remember everything but soon gave up, settling for instead memorising the main rooms, he'd be able to explore the house later and if he managed to get lost in the passageways he knew he could call either Kitzy or Mopsa or his Pa would feel his fear across the bond and come and find him.

Soon they reached the kitchen and within minutes breakfast was ready and Harry quickly dug in. They had nearly finished breakfast when a sudden pop made them both jump, Sirius spun round, his wand already in his hand to see the figure of Tarbu. After a quick scanning spell to check that there were no tracking or control spells on the elf, he lowered his wand, "What is the matter Tarbu?" He asked sharply, knowing only an emergency would have dragged the elf away from the chateaux.

"The bad men came back Master Sirius," the elf said hurriedly, "They came and cast spells on Master's house and then they asked us if you or the Young Master had been there."

Sirius froze for a split second before he recovered, "When did they come?" He demanded, reaching out to place a comforting hand on his child's shoulder as he felt the boy's nervousness leak across the bond.

"Yesterday Master Sirius," the elf answered quickly, "We told them that you and the Young Master had never been there and they left soon afterwards." Sirius nodded to himself, he hoped they would take the elves' word for it but he knew that this still meant that he could not use the Black properties again while he was still a wanted man.

"What did these men look like and how many were there?" He fired off the next question rapidly and the elf paused before he answered.

"There were 15 men all in hit-wizard uniforms Master Sirius, and they were joined by one with a long silver beard and bright coloured robes. One of the men had a wooden leg and a magical eye."

Sirius frowned as he processed the information, so Dumbledore was searching too, and the team was likely being led by Moody. That indicated it was Dumbledore that was leading the effort to capture him and that meant that he had to be more careful with his plans for Hogwarts, and it also indicated that there were few who knew that Harry was also missing. At least that was a boon, it meant Harry would not be ostracised by his fellow classmates and that he would not be hounded by the Ministry seeking to put him in 'protective custody', not that they could do a thing seeing as he hadn't been given a trial and thanks to the intricies of Wizarding Law a suspect could not be tried in absenteena.

But there was still the problem of what to do with Chateaux Noire because if they suspected even for a moment that he might be using it as a base it was not a safe place to hide or for the elves to be. Coming to a decision he addressed Tarbu, "Put the Chateaux into lockdown and bring all the elves here to work on the farm. You may travel to the Chateaux once a week to perform general cleaning and maintenance but you are not to put yourselves in danger."

Tarbu nodded quickly "We will Master Sirius."

And there is the update - just to mention updates have moved pretty permanently to Saturdays every two weeks and for those who read Island of Hope, updates for that will occur on Mondays.

I hope you all enjoyed this chapter, and a huge thanks to everyone who reviewed! Please continue to review and support, each review is treasured.