Author's Notes: It's been so long, but I'm finally back with a new chapter! Thank you so much for continuously commenting and for all your encouragements. I honestly can't describe how much that helped! Thanks again and enjoy!
Harry felt his floating mattress dip slightly at the stranger's question and he cast a quick glance at Tom, whose surprise could only be detected by the slight clenching of his fists. Gazing back at his friend's guest, the younger wizard took in the other man's wild brown locks and striking blue-grey eyes. He was slightly taller than Tom and bulkier. His chiseled jawline was unshaven and his clothes rumpled, but clean.
Tom had informed Harry that a co-worker of his, despite being Head Auror under the Ministry, was also the leading researcher in Britain on the animagus transformation. 'Sirius Black,' Harry remembered his name to be.
Bringing his attention once again back to this Sirius figure, Harry took in the confusion, shock and gleam of hope shining through the stranger's eyes. It made him curious.
"Yes, my name is Harry," he provided with a welcoming smile.
Sirius seemed to relax a little at that. He then took a tentative step forward, his eyebrows frowning as he analysed Harry's features.
"I…this can't possibly be true, but if it is," Sirius took a deep breath and shook his head to clear his doubts. "I must know," he said with determination in his eyes. "If your last name is Potter."
Green eyes widened at the guess. "…yes," he answered and before he could react, Sirius had jumped towards him and wrapped his arms around him. Harry hissed a little at the abrupt move and Tom jerked, but halted his hand in time, before he whipped out his wand.
Sirius, seemingly oblivious of the baleful glare directed at him from his superior, hugged Harry with all his might. Harry could feel the older wizard slightly shake from the enormity of the revelation, whatever it was his name could mean to the man. Slowly, he lifted his arms and wrapped them around the other's shoulders. He might not know this Sirius figure, but he could tell that the man was genuinely delighted to have found him.
A sharp cough rattled Sirius out of his short trance and he lift his head up to stare at his superior, who certainly didn't look very pleased at his grandiose show of affection. In fact, Riddle looked downright murderous. With slight regret, Sirius retracted his arms from the young Potter's shoulders and stepped back to the center of the room. A grin stretched his lips when he looked back up.
"Now Sirius," Tom's voice was grave and held a tone of warning. "Please explain your…actions."
The brunet smiled down at his superior, unable to contain his joy. "It's Potter's son!" he exclaimed, as if it explained everything. Tom frowned and Sirius could see that the Slytherin was not satisfied by the short answer. Sirius chuckled a little and took another breath to calm down his excitement. He then looked over at Harry again. The young man was waiting for him to continue, a look of great interest on his face.
"I was childhood friends with James and Lily Potter, Harry's parents," Sirius said, catching the widening of Harry's green eyes at his statement. "In fact, I'm your godfather," he looked directly at Harry.
Harry couldn't hold back the gasp. "My…godfather?" He couldn't believe his ears. He had a godfather? But then, where was the man during all these years?
Tom seemed to be having the same questions running through his mind. However, his inquiries were tainted by slight anger and a hint of viciousness. Harry could see his fists clenching harder, draining the blood from his hands. Tom's face, however, was the perfect impassive image it always was.
Before Tom could fire away a hurtful accusation, Harry spoke up and caught his newfound godfather's attention.
"Why have I never heard of you?" he asked, his expression innocent enough. He genuinely wanted to know the man's story first before judging.
Tom froze at Harry's words and glanced over at his friend, taking in the pure curiosity untainted by anger in the man's eyes. He had almost forgotten to consider how Harry must have felt about these new findings; seen how furious he was at the fact that Sirius had not helped Harry during the past seventeen years.
Looking back at his co-worker, he felt himself calm down a little. He knew Sirius. The man was a pure Gryffindor through and through, and the most noble and honorable of his Aurors. He would not have left his godson in a poorly kept muggle orphanage without good reason.
'If he did,' a part of Tom's brain supplied, 'it will be the last of him the world will see.'
"I thought you were lost for good," Sirius finally replied, his voice laced with great sorrow. "I…" he took a deep breath and looked away, "I was on a long-term mission in Germany when James was murdered," he said and the words seemed to pain him. "When I came back and found out, I tried my hardest to search for you, but I couldn't find you."
His grey eyes found Harry's and his expression turned pleading. "I've tried looking for you at every chance I had, Harry, I swear! But no matter how hard or where I searched, it was like you never existed. No traces in the systems, no one had seen you, no one even knew you." He had his hand to his face, as if preventing himself from breaking down. His body shook as he kept going. "I was desperate to find you, but you'd long disappeared from the world. In the end, I had to conclude that you'd…that you'd died." Sirius choked out the last words.
As the Auror's frame shook with his efforts to keep his tears in, a gentle hand found his shoulder and Sirius jerked at the warm touch. His eyes quickly found the shorter man standing in front of him. Harry had a soft smile on his face and his deep emerald eyes were wet with unshed tears.
Without another word, Harry wrapped his arms around his godfather and rested his face on the older man's chest. Sirius stood speechless for a second before the tears finally slipped down his cheeks and he hugged his godson back, sobs wracking his bigger frame.
Tom, quiet and seemingly stoic, stood silently near the still-floating mattress where his friend had previously been sitting. Harry really didn't need the floating cushion, he realized. He'd been so worried by his friend's second collapse that he'd been blinded from seeing the younger wizard's strength. Even with his magical core as horribly unbalanced as it was, Harry would always be the young boy Tom had known that was tough enough to brave through anything.
Perhaps he hadn't needed to worry at all.
"Whoa, that's brilliant!" Harry exclaimed as he watched the swiftly moving images of a young redheaded woman catching a shifting golden snitch from mid-air.
Sirius grinned at his godson's excitement. It was like the boy had never heard of Quidditch before.
"That's Ginny Weasley, the most famous seeker in Britain," Sirius told the younger man. "She holds the current world score for most snitches caught during international games."
"She's really fast," Harry couldn't help but stare at the moving image of the young woman as she swiveled through the sky, as easily as running. He'd personally not had many chances to use a broom. He knew he was good at it, as seen by the impressed looks on his flying instructor's face. However, his Granpère had eventually thought flying useless, especially with the floo networks and apparition. He had thus cancelled Harry's lessons.
Tom took that moment to walk back into the living room and dropped down a pile of heavy tomes onto the room's greatly ornate table.
"You'll need to master the animagus transformation before you try flying, Harry," Tom smirked at his friend's scowl. "Your magic's still unstable."
Harry refrained from rolling his eyes, the reaction having been rigorously trained out of him back in France. He instead gave his friend a silent glare, the latter's smirk growing wider, for he knew that Harry wasn't actually mad.
Harry had spent the last few days training with Sirius and reading through Tom's extensive library about the animagus transformation and other various subjects that interested him. Sirius and Tom both had work to attend to, being important figures within the Ministry, and so Harry was mostly seen reading, performing Sirius' prescribed exercises, bugging Nagini from time to time and resting when he pushed himself too hard.
His magic was slowly weaving itself back together thanks to his deeper understanding of the disruption caused by his abrupt use of the animagus ability. It was a painfully slow process, for he'd rushed the transformation much too early. However, he was close to accomplishing it and seeing the looks of astonishment on Sirius' face at his fast recovery was worth the effort and pain.
Harry knew that Tom was aware of the following, but he had also been researching the inner-workings of Britain's magical politics and laws. He was currently hiding at Tom's residence, but the day would come, once he'd regained control of his magic, that he would face his family. He would make things right and get back Granpère's proprieties. He might not have liked Granpère near the end of the wizard's life, with his deep paranoia and schizophrenic visions, but the man was still his grandfather. His relatives, on the other hand, held no place in his heart.
He also suspected, despite only scrapping for evidence, that the remaining Sorbons had a hand at the previous Lord's early death. Granpère's dead glassy eyes were an image imprinted into his memory. He'd discovered his grandfather's pale body lying peacefully on the man's large satin-draped bed; eyes wide open, staring into the deep abyss that was death.
He'd never forget how unnatural it felt.
With the help of the elves, Harry had collected bits of information on his relatives' movements and their usage of the Sorbon fortune. He wasn't yet sure if it was enough to incriminate them and hopefully land them life in Azkaban, but he'd work it through. Once he would recover his magic, he would be able to go reclaim the Sorbon vaults. It really was troublesome that his core was still unstable. Without it, he could not perform the procedures to prove, with his magic, that he was heir to the Sorbon fortune. He thus did not have access to the Sorbon transactions yet; the information it may contain being possible evidence once he initiated the legal process against his relatives.
Meanwhile, as he studied and practiced, he also spent as much time as he could with his godfather. The burly man was a constant ball of joy, reflected perfectly by the wizard's tail-wagging animagus form: a large black German Sheppard. Sirius was everything Harry would have loved in a godfather, or even a father. He was supportive, eager to teach and listen, and was always by his side. Never was there a dull moment and strangely enough, Sirius seemed to bring out the long-forgotten child in him. As large wolf-like animagi, they wreaked havoc everywhere they went; which was usually inside Tom's manor.
Tom wasn't too pleased when his favourite vase found itself on the marble floor, nor when an Arthurian painting of his complained his ears off about an infestation of black monsters. Before long, Harry and Sirius had found themselves locked out into the Department Head's spacious backyard, though blissfully ignorant of the fact, seen how busy they were; jumping around like children on a sugar high.
Inside his office, facing the large crystal windows opening up to his manor's yard where two black specks tackled each other into the scenery, Tom took another sip of his afternoon tea. His fingers tapped on the side of his porcelain tea cup and his eyes roamed the lush green planes outside, as well as his friend and co-worker enjoying their evening under the sun.
It had slightly irritated him, at first, when Harry had begun spending much more time with Sirius than with him, though the latter would be hard-pressed to admit that it bothered him. After all, it should be known that Tom Marvollo Riddle was a reasonable man and like all exceptional beings, he understood, or at least in part, that Harry needed his godfather's company as much as Sirius needed his godson. It was not up to him to separate the two for his own selfish reasons, however tempted he may be.
Taking another sip of his cooling tea, Tom turned back to his book, flipping through his notes as he scanned its paragraphs. With each passing day, Harry improved his control over his animagus form and slowly, yet steadily, his transformation became more fluid and stable. Before long, his wolf-dog hybrid figure began morphing. His jaw grew larger, more pronounced, and his shoulders widened as his canines elongated. His size was now that of a small horse, much to the astonishment of both Sirius and himself. Whereas they could not easily differentiate between Padfoot and Harry at the start of the week, there was now a significant difference in both size and body shape. Harry was broader and his jaw much heavier and wolf-like, whereas Padfoot was more agile and lighter on his paws. It was a striking contrast, especially when Tom compared their human forms.
Nonetheless, Harry's morphing was good news, for it signified that the young wizard had entered the final stage of the animagus transformation; where he finally found his stabilized animal form.
Flipping through pages of notes and text, Tom wrote down a few elegant sentences onto his parchment before closing his book. He had, other than working on his Ministry-dictated tasks, been researching Harry's final form's animal name. He was no longer a wolf-dog hybrid, nor was he a common wolf. In fact, Tom had suspected that Harry's form was most likely an extinct canine, seen his large size and bigger than usual jawline.
'Canis Dirus,' he read off his notes and glanced back at the two black figures tumbling through the meadow. 'Definitely a dire wolf,' he concluded and stood up from his desk, rolling back his shoulders.
As he stepped around his desk to go join his childhood friend and colleague in the backyard, a sudden green mass of flames popped into his office's imposing fireplace. Turning his heads towards whoever had fire-called him, Tom strode quickly to the hearth.
"Hermione," he greeted as he took in the young woman's delicate features, as well as her signature bushy curls that tumbled down her shoulders. She had long given up taming her mane, though Tom had to admit that he preferred her that way. She stood out and commandeered attention, as was required of her, seen her position as Head of the Department of Mysteries.
"Tom," Hermoine smiled before taking on a more serious expression. "We need you at the Ministry. There have been some findings on the Soul Stealer case."
Tom gave her a quick nod and they end the fire call. Soon after, the enchanted coin in his pocket warmed up, showing the meeting time and date.
Picking up his wizard robe from his coat rack, Tom apparated out of his office and into his back yard. There, he found Harry starring up at the clouds by himself. The younger wizard lay on his back on the lush greenery below with a smile on his lips. The image stopped Tom in his tracks as he watched his friend for a moment longer, taking in the peaceful look on Harry's face.
"Want to join me?" Harry asked and Tom jerked out of his thoughts.
Looking down at the grinning wizard lying on the grass, he found himself smiling back at the mischievousness gleaming in the other's deep emerald eyes.
"It's alright," he shook his head before he glanced around for his missing co-worker. "Did Sirius already take his leave?"
Harry gazed back up at the clouds. "Yeah. A coin in his pocket began to warm up and he left right away."
"Ah yes, the fake galleon," Tom noted and took out his own to show Harry. The latter sat up from his lying position and observed the artifact. "Hermoine, the current Head of the Department of Mysteries, created it back in the days. It heats up when a meeting time and date is announced through a charm placed upon it. Ingenious, really."
Harry nodded before standing up, dusting off pieces of grass and dirt off his clothes.
"So, are you leaving for the Ministry too?"
Tom quirked an eyebrow at his friend's perceptiveness and nodded. "I've been called as well, yes."
Bright green eyes stared up at him with determination.
"Bring me along."
A/N: Harry's gaining his strengths back and has finally reached his final animagus form! We also see the addition of Hermoine and a small bit of Ginny. What do you think of them? :)
See you next chapter! Please don't forget that comments make this author very happy!