This story is in no way associated with, or makes any claim to, Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or any other fandom/celebrity/anything else you may recognize. It all belongs to their respective owners. No money is being made from this story which is purely written for entertainment.
Part 4 in Roads Travelled. Prisoner of Azkaban to Goblet of Fire (1993-1995) AU. Eventual spoilers for HP book 1-7, BTVS season 1-7 and ATS season 1-4 AU.
BTVS/HP crossover. Over a decade has gone by since the war, but Buffy and Remus might be on the edge of another - against the same enemy. Harry is in danger - not only from Voldemort but also from Sirius Black. But unknown to everyone else, Sirius is not really after Harry - but in his hunt for Peter Pettigrew, will his Godson end up in the crossfire? Connections are forged, questions are answered and friendship and family can be found were you least expect it.
Buffy/Remus, possible hints of others
It's such a funny thing, that. What's it worth, really? To me, it was everything...and yet, it also destroyed my life. It destroyed my friendship with Remus, for a time. It destroyed the life of my best friend, my brother, my Godson... James trusted me and I trusted Peter...and Peter's loyalty turned out to be to our worst enemy. Loyalty, to me, is worth nothing now. I only have myself and loyalty is only a reminder of a time I can't go back to. And without loyalty, without friends and family to depend on, what's left, if not revenge? I will avenge what I lost. Peter, I'm coming for you. I will find you. I will catch you. And I will kill you. Even if it's the last thing I ever do. It's not like I have anything else worth living for.
- Sirius Black.
24 July, 1993
Harry Potter was lying on his back in bed, absently petting his snowy-owl, Hedwig. The beautiful owl had been a gift from Hagrid who had introduced him to the wizarding world two years ago. Before his visit, Harry had been completely unaware that there was such a thing as magic, and even more ignorant of the fact that he was a wizard – and a famous wizard to boot. When he was a baby, he had survived a curse from the greatest Dark wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort, when so many others – people including his parents – had not. Harry had escaped with only a lightning bolt scar and somehow, Voldemort's powers had been destroyed when he tried to kill Harry.
But he wasn't gone, and at the end of his first year at Hogwarts, the wizarding school Harry attended, Voldemort had tried to kill him again, determined to regain the power he had lost, with the Philosopher's Stone, which had been hidden at the school. After traipsing through various obstacles, Harry had found himself face to face with not professor Snape, the Potions professor Harry had suspected, but with professor Quirrell, the stuttering Defence professor. Quirrell, it turned out, had only pretended to be useless and scared of his own shadow - in actuality, he had had Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head, hidden beneath his turban.
Harry had barely survived, and at the end of last term, he had once again come face to face with Voldemort, albeit a younger version. All throughout his second year, Harry had been dealing with three mysteries: the first mystery involved students being attacked from behind, with none of the victims able to describe their assailant. To add to the mystery and potential danger, there had been writing on the wall above the first victim, first-year Gryffindor Colin Creevey: Enemies of the Heir, beware.(1) Almost everyone in the school had agreed the message had been referring to the Heir of Slytherin, and before long, the rumours of the attacker being someone invisible had spread through the school.
Unfortunately enough for Harry, the fact that he owned an invisibility cloak wasn't the big secret he'd thought it was – almost all of Gryffindor had known. That information had soon been spread to the rest of the student-body, and Harry found himself the prime suspect and ostracised. Luckily enough for him, his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, stood by him, Hermione even suggesting the attacker might be using invisibility or camouflage spells to remain unseen.
Their support was even more appreciated when rumours increased after Harry accidentally revealed he was a Parselmouth and could talk to snakes, which was considered to be a sign of a Dark Wizard - during professor Lockhart's duelling club.
The second mystery involved Dobby, a house-elf who had tried to keep him from returning to Hogwarts, and when that failed, tried to get him to leave, injuring him in the process.
The third mystery involved a diary that wrote back: Harry had first found it in the ghost Moaning Myrtle's bathroom,(2) where someone had tried to flush it down the toilet. By writing in the diary, Harry had learned it used to belong to a student called Tom Riddle, and at first, he had found himself intrigued by the things Tom wrote.
Upon learning Harry was a second year, Tom began to advise him regarding the electives the students could choose to take during third year, something Harry was grateful for since until then, he'd had no clue, and during Easter holidays, Harry happily signed up for Care of Magical Creatures and Arithmancy.(3)
Harry and Tom had kept communicating, Tom going on to tell him a lot of things about how the wizarding world worked, things Harry had been unaware of, but then took it a step further and told him how he thought it should work. That's when alarms had begun to ring in Harry's head: the world Tom described sounded a lot like a world Voldemort might have wanted to rule over, with a clear negative stance towards Muggles, and he had put the diary away. Soon after, the diary had been stolen after someone broke into Harry's trunk, and though worried, Harry didn't exactly mourn the loss.(4)
At the end of his second year, upon entering the Gryffindor common room a few days before exams were about to start, he had found Ron's younger sister, Ginny, lying with her head on the lap of an older male student Harry hadn't recognised. She had been extremely pale, while her companion seemed to have a sort of odd glow around him. As Harry approached to check on Ginny, remembering she'd been progressively getting more and more sickly looking over the course of the school year, the boy had said she was sleeping, and introduced himself as Tom.
Harry had held out his hand for Tom to shake when he had noticed the diary on the table...and finally, Harry had put all the clues together, realising all three mysteries were connected. Tom had stood up, his eyes gleaming red, and explained with the help of an anagram that he was Lord Voldemort before he became Voldemort. He explained how Ginny had been writing in his diary for months, pouring out her soul, confessing all her fears and secrets, to him. This had strengthened Tom in turn, and soon enough, he had been able to possess Ginny, and through her, attack the students - all Muggle-borns.
That's when Tom had stopped talking and began to attack Harry and the students gathered in the common room, who had been listening with horror and fascination, with Ginny's wand. Harry had thrown the diary into the fireplace in an attempt to destroy it, but nothing had happened, and Tom simply laughed. To his horror, as the attack went on, Harry realised Ginny was looking increasingly blurred around the edges, as though she was seizing to exist, while Tom became stronger.
If it hadn't been for Hermione, who had managed to slip away and get Dumbledore, Harry wasn't sure how things would have ended. Dumbledore had shot a long, huge flame from the tip of his wand onto the diary in the fireplace, and unlike the fire in the fireplace, this flame worked, and the diary began to burn, alongside Tom, who had exploded into dust at the same time as the diary was destroyed. Dumbledore had later told Harry the spell he had cast was Fiendfyre,(5) a cursed fire that was extremely difficult to control and would burn anything in its path, and warned him never to attempt it.
With the diary destroyed, and Voldemort defeated, Ginny had woken up, horrified by what she had done. No one had blamed her, however, or if they did, no one said it to her face, and second year had ended happily. Dobby had been freed from the Malfoys - Lucius Malfoy, it turned out, was the one who had given the diary to Ginny in the first place, which was how and why he had tried to warn Harry.
Looking back on his first two years at Hogwarts, the summer holidays were dull in comparison - and of course, Harry could have done without the Dursleys, his hateful relatives who despised everything about magic, Harry included. All in all, Harry was quite looking forward to his third year and what it would bring... Oh, it wasn't that Harry longed for a situation where he was in danger, far from it - he realised how lucky he was to still be alive - but surely, something exciting but not life-threatening, wasn't too much to ask for?
"...And here is our high-security wing. It is the most heavily guarded, with Dementors around both day and night, though they alternate with us human guards every now and then: since they cannot see, we need to make sure the prisoners aren't up to anything with regular intervals. Of course, most of them are insane and incapable of doing much except muttering, from the long exposure they've had to the Dementors' influence."
Sirius' ears perked up and he quickly turned back to human form: whenever the Dementors left, human guards were never far behind, and he had been prepared for a guard patrol and ready to transform from the moment the Dementors vacated the corridor. But he had not expected a visitor, and he wondered who had decided to grace him and his followers with their presence.
Since Sirius had ended up in Azkaban, the prison had gone through several rotations of guards, none of them lasting much longer than a year. The longest to date had lasted three years, and it had been a guard who had gotten him both a blanket and a new newspaper every week so he could do the crossword, honouring their bet of who would last in the prison longer - Sirius, or the guard. But it had been a long time since then, and Sirius had gotten no new newspaper after he quit, no way for him to keep track of the time or what went on in the real world.
The newest guard was green - all the Azkaban guards were either Aurors with certificates with ink that had barely gotten the chance to dry, or those who had somehow messed up and were given an Azkaban rotation as punishment. Or they were old veterans on the brink of retirement, shuffled away to Azkaban to get them out of the way of the actual force. But there were a few who did come here by choice, who had heard of the horrors of Azkaban and wanted to prove their worth, wanted to prove some Dementors and insane inmates did not scare them. Most regretted that choice sooner after.
"Are you certain you want to visit these prisoners, sir?" The guard sounded nervous. "Surely, the less notorious inmates - "
"Nonsense!" a voice, unfamiliar to Sirius, said. "I'm sure there is no danger. You're here, the Dementors are right outside if we need them, and you said the prisoners are both nutters and powerless to do anything but talk gibberish."
Sirius snorted. Whoever the visitor was, he was clearly an idiot, if he thought Bellatrix and their ilk were powerless. Even trapped inside their cells and less than lucid, they were dangerous - their insanity might even make them more so.
"Very well, Minister."
Sirius' eyebrows rose. So the visitor was the Minister of Magic himself. He knew the Minister of Magic was required to perform regular inspections of Azkaban, but they usually kept to the areas of the prison were the small-time crooks and lesser criminals were kept. Minister Bagnold had, for example, never visited this part of the prison during her tenure as Minister.
Sirius did not know why this new Minister, who must have been appointed sometime during the last few years, had decided he would. Perhaps he wanted to act like he was braver than his predecessors - a visit to the infamous high-level prisoners of Azkaban would surely impress the people he counted on to keep his coffers filled with Galleons.
Footsteps slowly approached. "This cell is empty," he heard the new Minister ask after awhile, coming to a stop in front of what must be the first few cells in the corridor.
"Ah, yes," the guard said. "As you know, this part of the prison is reserved for You-Know-Who's most trusted followers. We have not found anyone new to fill this cell - it used to belong to Bartemius Crouch Jr. But as I'm sure you know, he passed away less than a year after his imprisonment - it happens, sometimes, that the Dementors' presence gets to become too much."(6)
"Terrible story that," the Minister tutted. "And Bartemius' career was so promising...of course, if what happened with his son hadn't happened, I'm not so certain I would be Minister today!"(7) He chuckled. After a second or two, the guard joined in, his laughter sounding rather forced.
Sirius rolled his eyes. When he had heard of Crouch's fall from grace through whispered gossip between the guards, after his son was imprisoned for being a Death Eater, he had to admit he had felt gleeful. After all, he had been the one to decide to just throw him in here without a trial. The higher they rise, the harder they fall - Sirius hoped Crouch's fall had hurt.
The Minister and the prison guard continued. Sirius heard them stop outside Bellatrix' cell, and the cell of her husband and brother in law. Luckily, all three were asleep: Sirius was glad he did not have to listen to his cousin's screeching. The footsteps came closer, and Sirius found himself eye to eye with the new Minister, a portly little man with a ridiculous-looking bowler hat in lime-green on top of his head. Under his arm, he carried a newspaper. From the way the Minister's eyes nearly bulged out of his head, Sirius concluded the man had not expected him to be awake.
The Minister took an unconscious step back as Sirius gave him a rather feral-looking smile. "Good evening, Minister," he drawled with a bored tone and slowly got to his feet, yawning. His back cracked as he stretched out his arms above his head. "Or is it morning? I wouldn't know - it's quite difficult to tell."
"You said the prisoners were mad!" the Minister yelped to the guard who looked terrified.
"Y-yes, but Black here is a bit of an...exception." He noticeably winced.
"Oh, I wouldn't know about that," Sirius said and pressed himself against the bars. The Minister took another unconscious step back. "I think I'm a little mad, at least."
It looked as though the Minister was ready to bolt. "There's no danger, I assure you," the guard exclaimed. "He can't get out of his cell."
"Unfortunately." Sirius' grey eyes gleamed. "Tell me, what brings you about to my little corner of the world, Minister..." he trailed off, giving the Minister an expectant look.
"M-Minister Fudge," the Minister stammered.
"Minister Fudge..." Sirius licked himself around the lips, revelling in the way the portly man began to tremble. Perhaps the Marauder in him wasn't quite dead yet, after all... He hadn't had this much fun in years...he hadn't had this much fun since before he was imprisoned, in fact. "Fudge...it's among my favourite candy, you know? That sweet, rich taste combined with the smooth, creamy consistency against your tongue..."
Fudge let out a little whimper.
"Perhaps we should leave, Minister," the guard quickly interjected.
"Oh, please, don't leave yet. Have you finished with your newspaper?" Sirius stuck an arm out through the bars and Fudge jumped back as if he'd been struck, pressing himself against the opposite wall in near terror, his newspaper falling to the floor in the process. Sirius smiled innocently at him and he kneeled down and grabbed the newspaper through the bars of his cell and easily manoeuvred it inside. "I hope you don't mind if I take this - I miss doing the crossword."
Fudge gulped. "B-but you don't have a pen," he stammered.
"I don't need a pen." Sirius grinned and tapped the side of his head. "It's all about what's up here."
"W-well," Fudge gave the guard an uncertain sort of look. "I-if it's allowed - "
"He can keep it," the guard said, looking as though he wanted nothing better than to leave. "He's been given newspapers in the past, there's no danger. The worst he can do with it is give himself a paper cut. I believe it is time for us to leave, Minister - we've lingered here long enough."
The Minister blinked uncertainly, as though he'd forgotten the guard's presence for a moment. "Oh, yes, of course," he said and straightened his robes. "I do need to get back to the Ministry..."
Sirius threw the Minister a two-fingered salute. "Kudos to you, Minister Fudge. Do come visit again - it's been a real pleasure."
The Minister and the guard left and Sirius smiled in satisfaction as he curled up in a corner of his cell, wrapping his now rather ratty blanket around himself as he opened the Daily Prophet. The light was rather dim, but it was good enough to read in, though a Healer would probably not have recommended it. Sirius did not care; days in Azkaban went by in slow-motion and Sirius was willing to risk anything - including his eyesight - to break up the monotony. And news of the outside world was welcome - even though Sirius couldn't do anything about it, it helped him feel less disconnected from everything. In addition, the crossword would keep his brain entertained for at least a little while.
After he checked the date and realised he had spent nearly twelve years in Azkaban, Sirius slowly began to flicker through the pages, chuckling at some of the wittier Headlines and articles. That's when a moving picture caught his eye: even while in black and white, the Weasley family was unmistakable. He smiled as he realised they stood in front of a large pyramid, clearly on holiday - the Weasleys deserved all luck and happiness, he thought, remembering the deaths of Fabian and Gideon Prewett, Molly Weasley's brothers. His smile abruptly slipped from his face as he caught sight of a very familiar-looking rat resting on one of the Weasleys' shoulder. One of its front paws was missing a toe.
Sirius heart thundered in his chest as he pressed his face closer to the picture. He couldn't believe it. And yet, it was impossible to mistake the rat for anyone other than Peter Pettigrew...Wormtail. Suddenly, Sirius found himself filled with anger and a fervour that he thought he'd lost long ago, and the newspaper became a crumbled mess in his suddenly clenched fists. Peter had to pay for what he'd done...and Sirius would be the one who made it happen. Who would have thought Peter was hiding in plain sight? Ingenious, really... but then again, hadn't Peter already proved to be a lot smarter than the Marauders gave him credit for?
Sirius clenched his jaw. Wordlessly, he smoothed out the newspaper to read the article that accompanied the picture. His eyes widened and then narrowed into thin grey slits, the colour that of hard steel, as he realised Pettigrew would be at Hogwarts since he obviously belonged to the youngest son... That meant he would be close to Harry, capable of harming him...harming Lily and James' son...his Godson.
With his lips pursed, Sirius ripped the picture out of the newspaper and put it inside his prison robes. He wouldn't give Wormtail the chance. Throwing the rest of the Daily Prophet into the opposite corner, Sirius wrapped his blanket closer around himself and tried to get some sleep. If he was to escape Azkaban, he needed to be well-rested, especially as he would have to deliberately starve himself if he was to have any chance of slipping out...
When the guard came back to do a last check on the prisoners before the Dementors took over once more for the night-watch, he frowned as he heard muttered words coming from Sirius' cell. Slowly, he walked closer, putting his head against the bars. His blood froze as he heard the words leaving Sirius' lips, the convict's eyes flickering in restless sleep beneath his closed lids: "He's at Hogwarts... he's at Hogwarts."
The guard shuddered and stepped away from his cell, thoroughly unnerved, and he quickly left the corridor. Less than ten seconds later, the Dementors re-entered the corridor, and soon enough, Sirius was no longer the only prisoner moaning in his sleep as the Dementors' effect took hold, trapping them in disturbing dreams and memories.
"Good morning," Buffy placed a kiss on her husband's cheek as she sat down for breakfast, happily accepting the cup of coffee Remus passed to her without needing to ask. "Sarah isn't up yet?"
"Of course not," Remus said after swallowing a piece of toast. "Since when have you known our daughter to be a morning person?"
"Good point," Buffy said. "Do you have any job-interviews today?"
Remus' eyes darkened slightly at the reminder of his unemployed state. Lena Page had employed him at the library for longer than he had expected, sticking out her own neck for him when the Ministry made their displeasure known...but when a woman at the Ministry called Dolores Umbridge passed yet another anti-werewolf legislation a few weeks ago, it finally became too much. Lena was forced to let him go, or risk her own job. Remus couldn't blame her for firing him.
Unfortunately, the new legislation had not only forced him out of his old job - it also made it near impossible to find a new one. Remus had been job-hunting every day so far, with no luck. He had to find something soon - Remus hated that he couldn't do anything to help support their family. It made him feel useless, like a burden, a feeling Remus had thought he'd finally gotten rid of years ago when he and his 'inner-wolf' finally came to an agreement which made the transformations a lot more bearable.
"Not today," Remus said. "Oh, here's the Daily Prophet. If I'm lucky, there's a special wanted ad for werewolves on the front page," he added with a smirk as an owl flew in through the open window and dropped the newspaper on their table, trying to sound optimistic.
Buffy paid the owl and picked up the newspaper, abruptly paling as she caught sight of the front page, the heading practically screaming at her.
SIRIUS BLACK ESCAPES AZKABAN!
Below the thick, black lettering was a picture, designed to look like a wanted poster, of Sirius, looking almost nothing like Buffy remembered him. Waxy skin was stretched out over a gaunt and thin face, which was surrounded by black hair in a matted tangle, and his eyes looked crazed.
"...Buffy? Buffy!" Buffy's head jerked up and she met Remus' worried eyes. "What's wrong?" her husband asked. "You just spaced out."
Buffy swallowed and shakily handed over the newspaper, unable to get out a word in response. When Remus caught sight of the picture, he notably stiffened, but otherwise showed no reaction. "Oh," was all he said.
"I can't believe he's out," Buffy finally said, her voice barely a weak whisper. "Why did he break out now? What's he after?"
Remus only shook his head, not answering, as he skimmed through the accompanying articles on Sirius' escape, trying to stay objective and pushing his personal feelings aside. "It says here he slipped out of his cell when he was being given food...they think he must have swum to the mainland - I have no idea how he had the strength to do that - because none of the boats were missing and the floo was undisturbed... But there's nothing about his motives. Not even the slightest bit of speculation, which is weird..."
Buffy gawked at him. "That's all you have to say?" Buffy could suddenly feel her eyes tear up. "A cold statement of what the Daily Prophet reports? Remus, he is our friend - "
Remus scrunched the newspaper together in his fist and slowly lowered it. "Was our friend," he said slowly. "He was our friend, Buffy."
"I know," Buffy swallowed, looking down at the table. "I know he's not our friend anymore. I just...can't you have some sort of reaction?"
"What do you want me to say?" Remus asked, sounding tired. "Sometimes words just aren't enough. Can't you already tell what I'm feeling?"
Buffy looked up, then, straight into her husband's eyes, and opened up the bond between them, wincing as all of Remus' feelings invaded her mind at once, stronger than they usually were: anger, regret, hate, sadness, horror, fear, relief - Buffy drew in a sharp breath as the connection was abruptly slammed closed.
"Relief?" she wondered out loud.
Remus looked away. "I hate him," he admitted. "I despise him and what he did, but...yes, I feel some relief. I don't know why, really - he doesn't deserve any such feeling from me - but maybe it's because we were friends for so long..." He shook his head. "Azkaban is an awful place. And even though what Sirius did was horrible, I suppose a part of me still don't want him to suffer." He laughed humourlessly. "What does that say about me, huh? He betrayed James and Lily to their deaths, he killed Peter and all those muggles, and I still feel some sort of misplaced loyalty to him. It's sick, and for all these years, I've been trying to push it away, but I can't."
"Why did you never tell me?" Buffy whispered, tears streaming down her face.
"What good would that have done?" Remus asked, bitterly.
"I would have known I wasn't alone!" Buffy exclaimed, and Remus stared at her in shock. "That's right," Buffy said, correctly interpreting his look. "I feel the same way you do. I always have, and even now, a small part of me still don't want to think him guilty, even after Sirius confessed to me that he was! We could have dealt with it together..."
"For people who share an empathic bond, it seems we can be really oblivious to each other's feelings," Remus said quietly, his voice wry.
Buffy laughed weakly. "Yeah." She dried her tears. "So what happens now?"
"I don't know," Remus sighed. "We can't be certain Sirius won't come here - that he won't come after us. But...I think it's more likely he'll be after - "
" - Harry," Buffy said quietly.
"Yes," Remus said grimly. "Or a way to bring Voldemort back."
Just then, they heard the sound of a door slamming and they jumped. "Good morning!" they heard Sarah shout, and then, their daughter skipped into the kitchen, abruptly freezing as she caught sight of the looks on her parents' faces. "Jeez," she said. "Who died?"
Sirius knew he shouldn't be here. He knew he should focus all his attention on Wormtail, which meant he should head towards Ottery St. Catchpole and the Weasley family home, not Surrey and definitely not Little Whinging. But instinctual need had overtaken his common sense, and so, here he was, hoping to catch a glimpse of James' son...his Godson.
Right now, he was hiding underneath a bush as Padfoot, observing number 4, Privet Drive, from a distance. Some sort of commotion seemed to be going on inside... In his Animagus form, Sirius' hearing was a lot better, and he could hear yelling and the sound of another dog barking... Then, a few seconds later, the front door was wrenched open, and the boy Sirius had come to see stepped outside, his wand pointed at a huge obese man Sirius vaguely recalled as Vernon Dursley.
"...I've had enough." And then, the door was slammed closed and Harry was out on the street, heaving what looked to be a heavy trunk behind him, an empty owl's cage under his arm.(8) Merlin...he looked so much like James... Sirius looked at Harry as a starving man would, not taking his eyes off of him even as he retreated a bit further into the bushes. From inside the house, he could still hear a great deal of screaming...
His Godson was now headed away from his relatives' house, walking with quick, angry strides, and Sirius hurriedly followed, his paws making no sound as it hit the asphalt. When Harry reached Magnolia Crescent, he suddenly collapsed onto a low wall, panting heavily, his entire body trembling with rage.
Sirius who found a new hiding place in the shadows between the garage and the fence behind Harry, wanted to walk up to him, comfort him...but he held back. Just watching Harry had to be enough, he told himself. He could not allow himself to become even more distracted than he already was. He knew that if he walked up to Harry now, it was unlikely he would be able to tear himself away...
Harry suddenly seemed to stiffen and he looked up and down the street several times, shivering, with a worried expression on his face. The boy bit his lip, and then looked down at his wand. Sirius took a couple of steps forward as Harry suddenly opened his trunk and began to examine its contents. What was he doing? But then, he abruptly stiffened, and Sirius wondered if he'd somehow been discovered... But no, Harry bent over his trunk again, and Sirius allowed himself to relax. But then, Harry abruptly straightened once again, his wand tightly clenching his wand. His eyes narrowed and Sirius retreated backwards. But it was too late:
"Lumos." Harry raised his wand over his head and Sirius found himself suddenly blinded by the light that shone out of its tip. Sirius wondered what his Godson was thinking, doing magic outside of school while still in a muggle neighbourhood - but then, Harry stepped backwards and tripped over his trunk. Sirius felt guilty - had he frightened Harry? The wand accidentally flew out of Harry's hand and he flung out an arm to break his fall, and he landed in the gutter...
The dog's eyes widened and he quickly retreated backwards, further into the shadows when The Knight Bus suddenly appeared with a deafening BANG, right where Harry had been lying less than second ago.(9) Sirius inwardly shuddered. Harry could have been hit, and it would have been his fault... He knew he shouldn't have come here.
Harry seemed to be having a conversation of sorts with the conductor, and then, he pointed towards the gap where Sirius was hiding. "There was a big black thing," Sirius heard his Godson say and he retreated even further back. "Like a dog...but massive..."
The conversation seemed to go on for awhile, and then, Harry and his things were taken on the bus. Sirius dared to inch forwards again - and then, there was another loud BANG and the bus - and Harry disappeared. The street was empty.
A slight whine escaped Sirius' throat before he could stop it. He hadn't wanted Harry to go...and yet, it was for the best, wasn't it? He could be no part of Harry's life until the traitor had paid for what he did. New determination filled the convict's heart and he took off down the dark street.
While he had planned to try to intercept Peter at Ottery St. Catchpole and the Burrow before the rat could get to Hogwarts, Sirius now realised he might have a better chance of catching him at the school. Peter would doubtlessly have heard of his escape, and if he headed towards the Burrow now, Peter would surely be more than ready to run, while at Hogwarts, Peter might let his guard down some.
The castle was after all meant to be the safest place in Britain, and there would be a lot of people around, making it difficult for Sirius to sneak inside. But Sirius didn't mind if it took a little bit longer to get to Peter and could put his hands around his neck and wring it, nor did he mind the challenge it would be to get inside Hogwarts unseen.
Sirius broke out in a run, wishing he had a wand so he could apparate and get to Hogwarts quicker: there was a very long trek between here and Scotland... But, Sirius thought humourlessly, since he had spent the last twelve years in a small cell, he figured he could use the exercise.
There was a knock on the door, and before Remus or Buffy had gotten the chance to so much as stand up from where they sat on the living room sofa, watching a Star Wars movie, nostalgia gripping them both, Sarah had already flown out of her chair and was halfway to the outer door.
"I'll get it!"
Remus and Buffy exchanged worried looks, both unconsciously hoping and not hoping it was Sirius - their thoughts of him and his escape were still conflicted. But if it was Sirius, surely he wouldn't have knocked? Neither Buffy or Remus wanted to believe Sirius would ever harm their daughter, but since everything they had thought they knew about him had turned out to be wrong, it didn't hurt to be careful, just in case he had come knocking...
And Sarah was completely ignorant of the danger, since Remus and Buffy had agreed not to tell her anything. Oh, she knew of Sirius' escape, but she didn't know he used to be a friend of theirs... Whenever they told her stories of the Marauders, they always left him out or replaced him with someone else.
"Don't open that door, Sarah!" Remus warned, shouting, as he hurried after her.
Sarah gave him a confused look. "Why not?"
"Sarah, come here," Buffy said and moved Sarah to stand behind her, while Remus pulled out his wand and slowly opened the door, only to almost immediately lower it when he saw the identity of their visitor.
"Professor Dumbledore," Remus greeted tiredly.
"Remus. Buffy." The old Headmaster smiled. "May I come in?"
Wordlessly, Remus gestured for him to come inside, unsure of what he wanted, but guessing it probably had to do with Sirius or Voldemort. If it had been about Sarah's schooling, it was more likely Dumbledore would have sent McGonagall.
"Sarah, why don't you go up to your room?" Buffy suggested, but instead of obeying, Sarah walked straight up to Dumbledore and held out her hand.
"Hello. I'm Sarah. You must be Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster at Hogwarts. I've got your Chocolate Frog card. And I must say, I'm really looking forward to my first year."
Dumbledore chuckled and shook her hand, while Remus threw his daughter a look of exasperation. "Well, aren't you a delight?" Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I'm very much looking forward to having you at my school... And I know I'm not supposed to be biased, but since the school year hasn't actually begun yet, I think it is safe for me to admit we could always use another Gryffindor." He winked.
"Thanks!" Sarah beamed. "Anyway, I'll leave you to your secrets. I'll figure them out sooner or later in any case." And with that, she left at a skipping pace, entering her room with a spring in her step.
"Your daughter certainly seems spirited," Dumbledore said as they moved towards the living room where Remus turned off the VHS player. "She's a credit to you both."
"Yes, well, Buffy has been more of an influence in her life than I have," Remus said, somewhat bitterly. The years he had missed out on in his daughter's life due to Buffy's involuntary absence while she was stuck in her old world still stung.
"Don't say that, Re," Buffy said. "Sarah adores you. Now, what can we do for you, Dumbledore?"
Dumbledore gave her a small, rueful little smile. "There is no beating around the bush with you, is there, Miss Summers? Forgive me, Mrs Lupin. I am certain you have heard of Sirius' escape?"
Remus pursed his lips together. "Of course we have. Why do you think we were so wary when we opened the door?"
"Touché," Dumbledore inclined his head. "It has come to my attention that Sirius escaped for a reason. Harry."
"Of course he did," Buffy sighed tiredly and buried her head in her hands. "It was our first guess, you know. What we don't understand is why he chose to break out now. Why not years ago?"
"I don't claim to understand how Sirius Black's mind works," Dumbledore said. "But perhaps the Dementors befuddled his sense of time, and he did not realise how many years it had already been. Or perhaps something the guards or the other prisoners said made him decide now was the time to strike. We may never know. Either way, something must have set him off. What matters is that he is out and on his way to Hogwarts - because that is where Mr Potter will be. And there is also where I need you to be, Remus," Dumbledore finished with a grave tone of voice, observing Remus over his half-moon spectacles.
Remus only stared at him. "I'm afraid I don't understand," he finally said, looking bewildered. "You need me to be at Hogwarts?"
"Yes. I do believe you will stand a much larger chance of capturing Sirius than any of the staff. If there is anyone who can predict his moves and what he's thinking, it is you. And I don't trust the Dementors."
"Wait, Dementors?" Buffy interrupted incredulously.
"Yes." Dumbledore pursed his lips together. "Cornelius Fudge has decided to station a large amount of Azkaban guards around Hogwarts in the hopes of recapturing Sirius. As Minister, he can, unfortunately do that, and nothing I said would deter him."
"Never mind the fact that Sirius obviously slipped past them once," Remus said. "And what about the students? The Dementors will wreak havoc on their emotions."
"I am not happy about it," Dumbledore said shortly. "This is another reason why I need you at Hogwarts, Remus. It is about time the school gets a decent Defence Against the Dark Arts professor - "
" - Wait, wait," Remus interrupted with a nervous little laugh. "I'm certain I just misunderstood - surely you don't mean to hire me on as a professor? I thought you just meant for me to visit sometimes, to check on all the passageways and maybe patrol the grounds and corridors at night."
"That would not be enough, I'm afraid," Dumbledore said. "Sirius is determined, clever, and what's more, probably a little mad after all his years in Azkaban. I need you stationed at Hogwarts permanently until he is caught. Temporary visits would not suffice. I must admit I am surprised, Remus. I thought you would jump at this chance, especially since the new anti-werewolf legislation must make it difficult for you to find work."
Remus clenched his jaw, not wanting to admit that he didn't know what he would do if he came face to face with Sirius again - he did not want to admit that depending on a lot of things, he might let him run. Or he might just kill him before the Animagus got a chance to utter so much as a single word. Either way, Remus was pretty certain recapture was at the bottom of the list of things he wanted to do to Sirius.
"I must admit I am somewhat confused by your offer, Dumbledore," Buffy spoke up again. "You've made it clear you want us nowhere near Harry. But if you hire Remus as a professor, he will be in close contact with him."
"Circumstances change," Dumbledore said simply. "And as Harry has now been introduced to the wizarding world, I see no need to ban you from further contact. Of course, I must still insist you do not visit him at Privet Drive without my express permission. If there is too much of a magical presence there, what remains of Voldemort's followers may find him."
"We couldn't visit him there even if we wanted to, remember?" Remus said bitterly. "The ward the Ministry put up - "
"Ah..." Dumbledore looked rather ashamed for a moment. "That was a little white lie of mine, I'm afraid. There is no Ministry ward on the Dursley's property, just the blood-protection created by Lily's sacrifice, and some monitoring spells I put up myself. I knew if I didn't, nothing would have kept you away from Harry, no matter what I thought and said. I do apologise for deliberately deceiving you."
Remus stared at Dumbledore in disbelief, for a moment incapable of speech. "I - you - what - "
"You had no right to do that," Buffy said angrily. "Do you have any idea how worried we've been for Harry? How miserable we've been because we had no way to contact him?"
"I'm not proud of what I did, but I believe it was necessary. Harry needed - "
" - A normal childhood, free from magic, we know," Buffy spat. "But that was your opinion. It wasn't your decision to make."
"It doesn't matter anymore," Remus said tiredly, interrupting before an argument could break out between his wife and the Headmaster. "What's done is done."
"Does that mean you will accept my offer, Remus?" Dumbledore asked.
"Of course I will," Remus said, his shoulders slumped.
"Excellent!" Dumbledore's eyes began to twinkle anew. "I imagine your daughter will be quite happy to have you at Hogwarts with her - "
Buffy and Remus snorted in unison. "Hardly," Buffy said. "She's been saying how nice it will be to get away from us and 'practice her independence' all summer. She's going to throw a tantrum."
"I see." Dumbledore chuckled. "Well, that was really all I wanted, though there is, of course, the small matter of the full moon to resolve, Remus, to make sure there is no danger to the students. Have you heard of the Wolfsbane potion? I will ask Severus to brew it - "
" - That will not be necessary," Buffy interrupted firmly. "We heard about the Wolfsbane potion when it first came out but my sources at St. Mungo's told me that if you start taking it, and then stop, the consequences for the lycanthrope are not pretty. Besides, Remus has no need of it - he and his inner wolf have come to an agreement. He poses no danger, unless he is deliberately provoked."
Remus nodded in agreement.
Dumbledore frowned. "I see. Well, I'm afraid the staff, and myself, will need a little more assurance than that. I can't simply take your word for it, I'm sure you understand."
"Oh, we do," Buffy said, her voice deliberately sweet. "Just as we just learned not to take your word for anything," she added, reminding Dumbledore that she was still not happy about him keeping her and Remus away from Harry all these years by lying to them.
"I will floo home during the full moon," Remus decided. "That way, I won't be anywhere near the students when it occurs."
Dumbledore nodded. "Very well." He stood up. "I will see you - and young Sarah, of course - in September, then, Remus. If you could ride in the Hogwarts Express with the students, I would be very grateful. We can't be certain that Sirius won't decide to try to attack the train."
"Wait," Buffy said, even as Remus nodded in agreement. "Tell us about Harry. How did he deal with being introduced to the wizarding world? What has his past two years of Hogwarts been like?"
Dumbledore's smile faltered. "That's a bit of a long story, I'm afraid..."
"We've got time," Buffy challenged.
Dumbledore sighed, and sat back down. "Let's just say Harry's life has been...interesting, to say the least..." Dumbledore proceeded to tell Remus and Buffy about Harry's first and second year. Remus and Buffy listened in both horror and fascination as the Headmaster explained about Quirinus Quirrell who took Voldemort's spirit with him to Hogwarts, riding on the back of his head. He explained how Voldemort had planned to create himself a new body by using the Philosopher's Stone which had been hidden at Hogwarts.
They listened as Dumbledore told them how Harry came to hear about the stone, and, at the end of the school year, tried to stop the stone from being stolen and came face to face with Voldemort.
"I can't believe he thought that was a good idea," Remus shook his head.
"It's what James would have done," Buffy muttered, "and probably Lily too, now that I think about it."
"And you as well," Remus teased, adding some much needed levity to the conversation.
Dumbledore smiled, and continued to describe how Harry had managed to stop Voldemort with his bare hands, killing Quirrell in the process, and forced his spirit to flee once again.
Buffy and Remus shuddered. "He shouldn't have had to go through that," Remus said grimly. "He was just a child...he's still just a child. Where were you? How could you not realise Quirrell was possessed?"
Dumbledore did not answer, and simply went on to tell them about Harry's second year and Tom Riddle's diary, the attacks on the students and how Harry found out he was a Parseltongue, in addition to the rumours running rampant about the Heir of Slytherin and Harry being a victim of the students' slander.
Finally, he told them how Harry at the end of the year put it all together: that Ginny Weasley had been possessed by Tom Riddle - Voldemort - and was behind the attacks, just because she did what most girls did and wrote in a diary. All she was guilty of was foolishness for not turning it in when it began to write back. He explained how Ginny's life-force had almost given the essence of Voldemort embedded in the diary nearly enough strength to come to life, when Harry had interceded and saved her life by thwarting him long enough for Dumbledore to arrive and destroy the diary.
Remus sighed, massaging his temples. "You're telling us that Harry has been a part of the wizarding world for less than two years, and already he has been put into two life and death situations..."
"It's like you said - Harry has a lot of his parents in him," Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eyes.
"But he clearly lacks Lily's common sense!" Buffy blurted out. "How did you punish him?"
Dumbledore's smile faltered. "Punish him?"
"Yes," Remus said firmly. "Surely you did not reward Harry for deliberately risking his own life? The situations you just described to us are things that an adult should deal with, not a child."
Dumbledore said nothing.
"Oh, my God," Buffy groaned. "You did reward him. How likely do you think it is that Harry will think twice before he does something equally stupid next time, since being suicidal now equals praise in his mind! And praise is something I imagine he's had very little of while living at the Dursley's.
"If you rewarded Harry for risking his life, even if it was for noble reasons, that would have told Harry that his life is a small price to pay when weighed against the lives of other people," Remus said, shaking his head. "How could you not have realised this?"
Dumbledore still said nothing and Buffy's eyes narrowed. "Unless...you did realise it," she said slowly, understanding and horror dawning. "Come to think of it, you could have hidden the Philosopher's Stone anywhere. Hogwarts might be considered the safest place in Britain, but it is still a school – you endangered not only Harry, but the entire castle."
"You must have known that the possibility of getting his hands on the Philosopher's Stone would be too tempting for Voldemort to ignore," Remus added, catching onto Buffy's thoughts. "Voldemort showing up was a near certainty. You wanted him to show up."
"And you practically advertised where the stone was hidden," Buffy continued, becoming more worked up for every second. "I know you're getting on in age, Dumbledore, but even you must have realised that telling children a certain area is off-limits is like waving a red flag in front of bull. It's like you were encouraging their curiosity, like you wanted them to investigate."
"And the protections were easy enough for three first-years to get through," Remus said, looking at Dumbledore with disgust. "You meant for Harry to succeed. You wanted him to meet Voldemort at the end."
"You were testing him," Buffy finished with an angry whisper. "Because of the prophecy."
Dumbledore sighed heavily. "Yes. But Harry getting hurt was never my intention." Remus and Buffy snorted in disbelief. "I never meant to be away from Hogwarts the night Voldemort broke through the protections. I planned to be right behind Harry when it happened, before he could be put in any danger. And what happened last year, with Ginny Weasley and the diary, I had no part in."
"That you had a part in what happened during Harry's first year is bad enough," Remus said. "What were you hoping to prove? That Harry has what it takes to defeat Voldemort for good when the time comes? That he is willing to give up his life for the Greater Good if it becomes necessary?"
"What happened during his first year proved to me Harry's inner strength and the purity of his heart," Dumbledore said quietly.
"In other words, both," Buffy said, shaking her head in disgust.
"It made him stronger."
"And only at the cost of what must have been the last of his innocence," Remus said.
"No," Dumbledore shook his head. "Harry is still innocent. He believes in the common goodness of people, still."
"When did you stop?" Buffy asked.
"Oh, I haven't," Dumbledore smiled and stood up. "I've simply become old enough to know that the amount of people who do good things for selfish reasons far outweigh those who do them simply because it's the right thing to do. Harry is one of those few. As, I believe, are you, Mrs Lupin, Mr Lupin. Good afternoon to you."
Once Dumbledore was gone, Remus let out a deep sigh. "You can come out now, Sarah. We know you were listening."
There was a shuffling of footsteps and then Sarah appeared in the doorway, looking sheepish. "I'm sorry for eavesdropping," she said. "But how else was I supposed to learn anything?"
"How much did you hear?" Buffy asked.
"Oh, everything," Sarah said airily. "Why didn't you tell me you used to be friends with Sirius Black? I can't believe you used to hang out with a criminal - that is so cool!"
"It's not cool at all, Sarah," Remus said. "It's not exactly something we like to advertise."
"And we didn't know then that Sirius was a bad person," Buffy continued. "And he wasn't always. None of us know exactly when he changed, but your dad is right. What happened to Sirius...what happened to our friendship...is not cool at all."
Sarah bit her lip. "Sorry."
"Well, Harry sounds like fun," Sarah said with a grin.
Remus groaned. "I can already tell you will be like two pees in a pod. Please try not to feed off of each other's recklessness when you meet."
"I have no idea what you mean," Sarah said with blinking eyes. "I've always been an absolute angel." She pressed her palms together and affected an innocent look.
"Hah!" Buffy laughed and ruffled up Sarah's hair. "Angel or devil, it's time for bed."
"But we never finished Star Wars!" Sarah protested. "And we were just getting to the good parts! I love the scene where they almost die in the garbage compactor!"(10)
"We'll finish it tomorrow," Remus said.
Sarah sighed. "Fine. But we better watch Empire as well. I love you," she then exclaimed theatrically, her eyes filled with fake desperation.
"I know," Remus answered in a tone of voice slightly deeper than his normal one, his face expressionless, before he broke into a grin when Sarah let out a squeal of joy at her father for playing along with her.(11) "Don't forget to brush your teeth."
Sarah sighed. "Han Solo would never be such a bore," she exclaimed in mock-annoyance before she stalked off towards the bathroom.
"Well, Han Solo isn't your dad!" Remus shouted after her. "And you're not a princess of Alderaan either!"(12)
"Well, duh!" Sarah retorted, exiting the bathroom, toothbrush in hand. "That planet was blown to smithereens a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Obviously, I'm your princess," she finished cheekily.(13)
"And your mother is my queen," Remus said, very well aware of the cheesiness and not caring at all as he waggled his eyebrows at Buffy. Buffy, who had been alternating between chuckling and rolling her eyes at her husband and daughter's theatrics, let out a snort and then grinned.
"And that's my exit," Sarah yelped, retreating back into the bathroom. "Do you have to be so sappy when I'm around to see it?" Remus and Buffy heard her complain.
"Parents' prerogative, princess,"(14) Buffy said with a smirk.
Published: 01/03 -13
A Note From the Author
Welcome to the first part of the second part of Roads Travelled; Road of Loyalty, which will cover Prisoner of Azkaban to Goblet of Fire. But don't worry! It won't be an obvious retelling. There's so many different perspectives to play with to make things new and interesting, not to mention many other moments I can/will add of and between my characters. Harry will obviously be a main character, but Remus, Buffy and Sirius are still very much in focus as well. The original three are older now while Harry is a teenager, and Sarah, Buffy and Remus' daughter, in that awkward growing up phase as a preteen. That keeps things fresh for me since it gives me new perspectives and experiences to build their personalities and interactions on!
The road goes ever on,
(1). In canon, the Basilisk was behind the attacks which petrified the students. Here, with the Basilisk dead and another assailant, they are left badly injured. Also note the lack of an injured Mrs Norris - I imagine that a human assailant would focus on the Muggle-borns, especially as I imagine Mrs Norris and Nearly Headless Nick were petrified by mistake for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in canon.
(2). If you remember, back in Road of Sacrifice, the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets was sealed off for the students' safety after Buffy killed the Basilisk. But we all know what security is like at Hogwarts - Dumbledore thought simply telling the students to stay away from the third floor corridor would keep them away when the Philosopher's Stone was hidden there. In the case of Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, I imagine a simple 'Out of Order' sign would suffice (and the sign is actually canon) in the staff's eyes, especially as no one has figured out how to get into the Chamber. And, Minister Bagnold simply said it was located in a room on the second floor, not that it was Myrtle's bathroom...
(3). In canon, Harry signed up for Care of Magical Creatures and Divination because it was the subjects Ron chose.
(4). With the Basilisk dead, the Chamber of Secrets was not opened this time around. As such, there was no need to tell Harry about it since there is no way to blame Hagrid's then friendship with Aragog for the attacks on the students, which were obviously made by a person, not a creature. Tom Riddle would have to come up with something other than the Chamber to tell Harry about.
(5). One of the few substances capable of destroying a Horcrux. Crabbe cast this in attempt to kill Harry and his friends in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and killed himself instead as he was incapable of controlling the ensuing magical inferno.
(6). We all know from Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire that Barty did not really die, but was instead smuggled out by his father, his mother replacing him in his cell with the help of Polyjuice. At this point in time, he is living hidden under his father's Imperius curse. Sirius shows no knowledge of this in canon so it can be assumed he did not know and that Barty's cell was not in Sirius' line of sight., In fact, I consider it unlikely Sirius' cell was in line of sight of anyone, since if it had been, his fellow prisoners would have reported him as an Animagus.
(7). Bartemius Croush Sr. was next in line to be Minister before he sentenced his own son to Azkaban for being a Death Eater.
(8). This is obviously straight from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry leaves Privet Drive after blowing up his aunt Marge with accidental magic.
(9). Also from Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry performs a Lumos spell when he thinks he sees something moving in the shadows, and then a pair of gleaming eyes... We know it's Sirius...Harry doesn't. And in his surprise, he accidentally summons the Knight Bus.
(10). In Star Wars: A New Hope, this occurs when the walls of the garbage compacter Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca have taken refuge in to escape the Stormtroopers start to close in.
(11). Empire refers to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back. The lines "I love you," "I know" that Sarah and Remus say are from when Leia Organa expresses her love for Han Solo right before he is about to be frozen in carbonite.
(12). Leia is the princess of Alderaan.
(13). Of course, Alderaan was blown to pieces by the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope. 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...' is the opening text to every Star Wars movie.
(14). Coincidentally (or maybe not), the name Sarah means princess.