Harry sat down on the hard mattress in his bedroom; his mind was whirling at an alarming pace. What were Dementors doing in a Muggle suburb? He was certain that he was the only person with magic in five miles of Little Whinging. Remus had told him that all Dementors in Britain were highly monitored and controlled by the Ministry of Magic, so what were they doing in Little Whinging?
He was also shocked that Aunt Petunia also knew what a Dementor was, but more shocking was the fact that she had mentioned them. For all of his life, she had denied the existence of the Wizarding world. It shocked him that she would know such a piece of information.
He tried to order his thoughts, but the Ministry owl was causing him to panic slightly. The Ministry wanted him to attend a hearing about his use of magic in front of a Muggle. He was terrified of being expelled from Hogwarts and he knew that it was common practice to have the wand snapped also. But did that mean he was forbidden from using magic? Could he be home schooled or perhaps attend another school?
He got up and walked over to his desk and sat down. Taking out a sheet of parchment, quill and ink he began to write a letter to Sirius.
What is going on? I have been attacked by Dementors and now I am facing expulsion from Hogwarts for saving myself and my cousin! When can I leave this house? I am going mad and need decent company!
He looked at his open window and saw that Hedwig was out hunting, she would sit on the metal mechanism and watch the neighbourhood. He supposed it must remind her of the owlery at Hogwarts so he indulged her.
He couldn't help but feel slightly betrayed by Dumbledore, he had stationed Mrs Figg in the neighbourhood at the same time he had placed him here. Harry had spent many days with her when she had been watching him for his relatives while they were off enjoying themselves and he had been forced to look at pictures of her favourite cats. Although, now that he thought about it, he realised that they were actually part kneazle, a magical breed of cats.
But Dumbledore had now set a guard to watch him day and night; he assumed that they were the presence he had felt a few times over the last four weeks. He had passed if off as his imagination because of his lack of sleep due to nightmares about the graveyard.
He shook his head, Dumbledore had explained to him at the end of last year that a set of magical protections were around the house. He had invoked a powerful charm that meant that Harry would be safe where his mother's blood still flowed. Voldemort and his followers would not be able to come within forty miles of the house. He had briefly wondered if Voldemort would be able to cross this protection now that Harry's blood ran in his veins, but Dumbledore said that, while he didn't know what the full effect would be if he tried, he knew enough to state that Voldemort would be unable to come into the vicinity of the house.
Bored of pacing around his room, he began the task of packing all of his belongings into his trunk. He was not certain when he would be leaving, but being prepared couldn't hurt and it would mean that he could leave quicker. His room was a mess. He had been skulking, depressed in it for the four weeks he had been here and he had not bothered to keep it tidy. A small act of rebellion against the Dursley's, he admitted, but it made him feel better.
He had just put away his brewing bag when a flutter of wings came from behind him, accompanied by a low hoot. He turned and saw Hedwig standing on her makeshift perch, a dead frog for number twelve's pond in her beak.
"Right you," he said, picking up his parchment and folding it. "I have a job that only you can do."
Hedwig gave him a dirty look and quickly swallowed the remainder of her frog, not taking her stern amber eyes off him.
"Get this to Sirius as quickly as you can, once you arrive I want you to make sure that he comes and gets me. Cause as much trouble as you can," Harry said tying the parchment to her outstretched leg. "And if you see Hermione or Ron, bite their fingers until they give me a decent letter, make sure it's a long one." He paused for a moment; he knew owls were intelligent, but he had no idea if she fully understood him.
Hedwig gave him a low hoot and, with a quick nip of his finger, she took flight immediately. He watched her fly off into the night sky and before long, she was out of sight. He sighed heavily. As much as he wanted answers, he wanted company more and Hedwig was company in her own way.
After twenty minutes he had his trunk mostly packed, all that was left were a few books, writing paraphernalia, his flute which Hagrid had whittled for him his pictures of his parents and a picture of him, the Twins, Ginny, Hermione and Ron from Christmas last year. The latter was face down on his bedside table.
Frustrated with the lack of things to do and wanting to keep his mind busy, he pulled out his potions books and began to read through them. He made a few notes for himself here and there on parchment, but otherwise managed to keep focused, something that was easier now without Snape lurking about.
He was just in the middle of reading about corrective potioning, a method to rectify a misbrewed potion into something salvageable, when he heard a rather loud screech from out of the window. He quickly crossed to his window and looked out, but he couldn't tell what had caused the noise. He went to turn away when he noticed a large white bird flying low to the right.
"She can't have delivered the letter already." He said to himself, but sure enough it was Hedwig, with his letter still attached. "Why are you back so soon?" He asked.
Hedwig flew to the top of her cage and held out her leg expectantly.
Frowning, he took the letter, "Why have you brought it back, couldn't you find him?" He asked her.
Hedwig gave him the second reproachful look of the night and clicked her beak at him.
Opening the letter he saw that on the back there was a new message and it was in Sirius's handwriting.
I met a friend of yours that you sent away with me at the end of your third year. I think it is time to return him to you, I will see you in ten minutes. You should warn your family that I am coming round for tea.
Harry's gaze tore up from the note; he quickly crossed to the window and looked up at the sky. It was getting dark, but there was still enough light to search the sky. There was only one friend that Sirius could mean, but he hadn't expected him to arrive so soon or in person.
He quickly packed the rest of his belongings into his trunk and forced the lid to close. His broom and Hedwig's cage were piled next to it. He quickly put on a jacket and shoes and went downstairs.
Dudley was sitting in an armchair while Aunt Petunia caressed his blonde hair and was speaking to him like he was three years old. She was trying to force him to eat a small piece of cake.
"Come on Dudders, you have had a shock. You need something sugary," She said to him tenderly. "You will feel better after, pumpkin."
"Tosh, Petunia," Uncle Vernon said. "That boy and the demenabobs have addled him; he needs something stronger than cake!" He then turned and grabbed something from the sideboard, "Our boy had been unresponsive for over thirty minutes, he needs something to kick him back in to life."
Uncle Vernon had poured a tumbler of amber liquid and was now trying to get it past Dudley's sealed lips.
"He will be fine," Harry said. His aunt and uncle turned around like they had been stung. He knew how Dementors could affect a person, a Muggle couldn't see them, but he knew they could still feel the effects. He wondered briefly what Dudley would have seen, what his worst memory was, but he pushed the thought away, it was private after all.
"You're an expert now are you?" Uncle Vernon hissed.
Harry ignored him and looked at Aunt Petunia, "He needs chocolate, get him a cup of hot chocolate or any bar of chocolate. It will combat the effects. He has seen his worst memories and he may not want to talk about it yet."
A mixture of emotion crossed his aunt's face, but it set into a hard exterior.
"Vernon, do as he said, a mug of hot chocolate and a chocolate bar from the tin," She said quickly. "We sent you to bed, what are you doing down here?" She asked as she gripped Dudley's hands with her own and rubbed them softly.
"I thought I should tell you that my godfather will be here in a few minutes."
Aunt Petunia's face lost colour and she looked startled, "Why is he coming here?" She whispered, her eyes glancing around the room as though expecting Sirius to pop out from behind the sofa.
"I do not know why he is coming, he didn't say." Harry replied plainly, "But I am hoping that he will take me away for the remainder of the summer."
Before Aunt Petunia could respond, Uncle Vernon walked back into the room with a mug that would match one of Hagrid's sized cups, full of hot chocolate. In his other hand Harry saw a number of chocolate bars. It was at this moment that there was a knock on the conservatory door.
"Who the blazes is in our garden?" UncleVernon exclaimed and began to walk towards the door, "Petunia call the police, they are trespassing."
"Vernon," Aunt Petunia hissed. "It's his godfather."
Uncle Vernon, who had the moment before been advancing towards the door, now backtracked and nearly fell over the pouffe. He turned around looking stricken, his eyes dancing nervously between his wife and son, the conservatory door and the exit. "What do we do? Why is he here? What did you tell him?" He asked, the last part aimed at Harry.
"I do not know," Harry said.
"Vernon, help me with Dudders," Aunt Petunia said quickly. "We will take him up to his room, but I want you both out of here as soon as possible!"
Harry crossed to the conservatory door and looked through the glass. He could see Sirius standing there; behind him he could see what looked to be a heat wave. With a frown, he unlocked the door.
"Sirius," Harry said with a sigh of relief, "What are you doing here?"
"Well I would have thought that was obvious," Sirius said with a roguish smile. "I am recklessly rescuing you!" He then pulled him into a small hug.
Harry had never been so relieved to see Sirius, he felt calmer than he had before the note arrived. He just felt so reassured that Sirius was here to help him.
Harry gestured for him to come in, "Where is Buckbeak?" He asked looking over the garden when his eye caught the disturbance again, in the dark it was quite difficult to notice.
"That's him you are looking at," Sirius said. "I have him under a disillusionment charm; have to be careful in Muggle areas."
"What is going on Sirius?" He asked.
"I left the moment I heard what happened; I only had enough time to send you an owl." Sirius said sitting down on the sofa, "I thought it was better to come and get you immediately, if you are left too long you will do something reckless."
"But you have left me here for a month!" Harry exclaimed.
Sirius raised a hand in surrender, "I know, believe me I know. I wanted you to come straight to me the moment you left the station at the end of the year, but there were things happening that meant that you couldn't."
Harry frowned, but didn't comment. He would wait to hear the reason before he started shouting.
"Do you remember what Dumbledore had me do the night I left Hogwarts?" Sirius asked.
Harry thought back to that day in the hospital wing, Sirius had revealed himself to both Molly Weasley and Severus Snape. Then Dumbledore had sent Sirius off, "Dumbledore sent you to Remus so that you could gather some old friends?" He asked.
"Exactly that," Sirius said. "I will not go into the details, but the old friends were all members of the Order of the Phoenix. It's a secret society that was created to combat Voldemort and his followers. But you will hear more about that later." Sirius said with a look at the time. "The reason you have been stuck here for a month is because the protective magic around this house may now be tested for the first time. Lily's protection not only protects you, but your Muggle relatives as well. You have to spend a minimum of two to three weeks every year here to recharge the protections. Dumbledore wanted you to stay longer to make sure that they were at their maximum strength; this is unfortunately one of the safest places for you. Even so, I have been fighting to get you out of here as soon as it was possible."
Harry nodded, it made sense. "So does Dumbledore know you have come?" He asked.
"No," Sirius said with a smile. "Remus knows, but that's it. They were going to send a team to collect you in two days, but I wanted you out of here now especially given recent events. We will be going to a safe location that I have arranged."
"How will we be getting there?" Harry asked.
"Well you can either fly behind me on Buckbeak, or you can use the broom that I bought you." Sirius said, "I just need to have a quick word with my cousin who is outside on guard duty, why don't you go and get your stuff?"
Harry nodded and they walked out into the hallway. The Dursley's were huddled on the stairs and Dudley was sitting staring into the mug in his hand, he looked slightly better, but still looked like he had been stupefied.
Sirius glanced at them and his eyes fell on Dudley for a moment. Then he looked at Petunia, his look had been stern but had softened slightly, "Hello again Petunia, I have not seen you since the day James and I attempted to invite you to your sister's wedding. I will not be spending much longer in this house, Harry is just getting his things and then we will both be leaving." He then crossed to the front door, opened it slightly and said softly "Nymphadora," Harry heard a hiss in response, but chose to ignore it and quickly went upstairs to get his trunk. He was surprised to see that Uncle Vernon had followed him up to help him, but he realised that it was so Sirius didn't see the locks and cat flap.
They met back in the living room a few minutes later, Sirius pulled out a set of leather straps from his pocket, "I will tie these straps around your trunk. They have a feather light charm on them so it will not weigh anything. Once we are out of the area I will be able to use magic, if I used magic now then the Ministry would know immediately."
They got into position in the garden; the trunk was attached securely beneath the firebolt. Sirius had mounted Buckbeak and, from what Harry could tell, he had placed some form of riding tack on the hippogriff. Hedwig's cage was on his lap and was being held in place by his arms on the reins.
"You all set?" Sirius asked looking over at him.
"Sure, how long will the flight be?" He asked.
"About twenty five minutes," Sirius said. "After five minutes, I will cast a spell to send your trunk and Hedwig's cage on to the location. Right, I think that's it, let's go Buckbeak," he finished, with a slight kick of his heel and soon the hippogriff took flight, pushing off with its powerful legs and a large sweep of its wings.
Harry kicked off from the ground hard, his trunk began to sway under him and, even with the charm in place, and he could still feel the slight drag on the broom. They shot up high into the sky, darkness had now set in and they blended into it.
"Harry, follow me," Sirius shouted as they took off. Harry couldn't help but relish in the freedom of being up in the air on his broom. After being confined to Little Whinging for a month, this was paradise. Sirius seemed to be enjoying his flight too. Harry noticed that he seemed very good at riding; he wondered if that came from practice last year. He had ridden bare back once and it had been an unsettling experience, but Sirius looked at ease.
Harry looked down at the ground below. They were quite high up, but he could see the lights of houses, cars and street lamps glowing. The sights below changed while they flew from residential areas to the countryside and after a few minutes they were out of Surrey. Sirius, as promised, flicked his wand at the trunk hanging below Harry, it disappeared and the cage on Sirius lap went with it.
"Sirius, where are we going?" Harry called as he soared across the night sky and drifted closer to his godfather.
"I cannot tell you," Sirius called. "It's magically protected so I cannot say the address. But I will say that it is in London and that it's one of my family's houses."
"Is that where Ron and Hermione are?" He asked, "They wouldn't say where they were in their pointless letters."
"Yes they are there and they cannot speak of the place either, they have been told to keep things quiet for security reasons." Sirius explained, "Owls can be intercepted and letters are not very safe."
"But surely you have ways of communicating without owls?" Harry asked.
"Of course we do, but they all require magic, magic that could be traced to your house," Sirius explained. "I know you are angry about the lack of news, but I will explain more when we arrive. While you are underage, any magic you perform or that is performed around you will register at the Ministry of Magic. Now we are out of the area where you live, I can use magic near you. The Ministry will not know who performed it; once we are at my house, you will be safe from their monitoring."
Harry was not exactly sure what Sirius was talking about, under age magical detection sounded rather complex. "Was that how the Ministry knew that I blew my aunt up in my third year?"
Sirius frowned at him for a moment, "I take it that was the night that you got the Knight Bus?"
"Yes, all magical children who live in a Muggle house and area are actively monitored. As you grow, magic naturally occurs. It can be anything from a summoning charm on a toy, to vanishing all the water from a bath at bath time. But, when children have done the unexplainable in front of non-familial members, that is when the Ministry intervenes and applies memory charms," Sirius explained. "Children of magical parents are not as closely monitored as their own use of magic is detected by the trace, so it is basically turned off in magical homes. Purebloods exploit this rule during the holidays, teaching their children spells and such while they are home"
"So the Weasley's can use magic at home?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Of course," Sirius said with a laugh. "How else do you think the Twins have been making their joke products?"
Harry smiled to himself at the thought; it should have been obvious in hindsight, "I thought they were just using potions."
"Oh they use those too," Sirius said smirking. "But many of their products need a bit of wand work; they just keep it between themselves. Molly wouldn't approve of their use of magic."
Harry could only imagine her reaction at the Twins using magic. They were bad enough when they were not using magic. He looked back down at the scene beneath him, Harry assumed it was London.
"Right Harry, we are nearly there," Sirius called. "Fly over me so that I can reach your leg, I need to apply the disillusionment charm to you."
Harry did as directed and Sirius cast the spell. An odd sensation spread up his body, it was as though a cold vine was climbing up him. He looked at his hands, which were holding his broom, and saw that they now blended into the wooden handle. He actually struggled to see where his hands were the charm was so good, he made a mental note to learn the charm, it could be useful. Sirius flew down towards a residential area that surrounded an overgrown, green square surrounded by trees.
He touched down lightly on the grass, narrowly missing a pile of what looked like dog muck and quickly shouldered his broom.
Sirius jumped off of Buckbeak's back and patted him, "Off you go then Buckbeak, fly on round to the garden."
Buckbeak gave a slight shrill and took flight again, buffeting Harry with the beats of his wings. Sirius then removed the charms from them both.
"Right then, we have arrived," He said with a look of distaste at the surrounding area.
Harry followed his gaze and looked up at the buildings that surrounded him. They were old. He was not an expert in English architecture, but he was sure that these houses were Georgian, although he was sure that they had seen much better days.
While the square was dark, he could still see that the houses were falling into disrepair. There was rubbish piled up on the curbs and, from the light of the windows, he could see that much of the masonry was dirty and crumbling, he saw that even the windows were mostly cracked and missing.
In the distance he could hear the sound of drunken men walking down the road. This area may at one point in its history have been home to the elite of London society, but now he was sure that the lowest parts of society were living behind the doors.
Sirius pulled out his wand and, with a wave above his head, he muttered, "Artolevi," the light from the street lamps dimmed. "Well that should make sure no one sees us, come on Harry just up here." Sirius said, pointing up the square a little.
Harry looked up at the buildings they had stopped in front of. To one side was a house in complete darkness, the only sound of life was the boom of music rattling the windows. On the other side, a house with heavy net curtains hanging in the windows, the light from the house showed that the material was grey with dirt.
The houses appearance was not the oddest thing; it seemed to Harry that the builders of this street had made a mistake in its numbering as number eleven was sitting next to number thirteen. Harry frowned, he was obviously was missing something. Turning back to Sirius he saw that he was smirking.
"Ah yes, it's quite a mystery. The residents of this road have long pondered the mistake, but have decided to accept it," he said in an amused voice. He then took something out of his pocket. "Now, I think that this will help you."
Harry took the offered object and saw that it was a folded piece of parchment. He opened it and saw that it contained a small sentence, written in a narrow slanted writing that looked familiar to him. Squinting at the writing in the dim light, he managed to read it.
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve Grimmauld Place, London.
He couldn't help but find the street name ironic and he wondered why it mentioned a number twelve when it clearly wasn't there.
"I don't –"he said, but before he could finish his sentence, a rundown house seemed to inflate itself from between the join of number eleven and thirteen. He couldn't believe that the Muggle's in the houses around it did not notice this house appearing. After four years in the magical world, it still left him gasping like a child in Honeydukes for the first time.
"But that's –" Harry started, gaping at the house.
"Magic," Sirius said simply, he quickly pulled the parchment from his hand and burnt it with a touch of his wand. "Come on, we shouldn't stay out here, the area has become a criminal haven since I was a younger."
They quickly walked up the worn steps towards the recently materialised front door. Its black paint was shabby and scratched and there was a silver doorknocker in the form of a twisted serpent which had two dark green stones for eyes. Its mouth was open, ready to strike and its teeth, while stained with rust, still looked sharp.
Sirius touched the doorknocker with his hand, its eyes glowed for a moment and then he heard the sound of many chains and locks disengaging from the door. It then swung inwards with an ominous creak. Harry held his breath, waiting to see what the inside looked like, but it was pitch black and he could not see much further than an arm spans distance.
"Come on, it won't bite, well nothing in the hallway anyway." Sirius said frowning. Harry stepped over the threshold and into the house; the first overwhelming thing he noticed was the smell. There was an overwhelming stench of dampness and rot. This house screamed of neglect.
He suddenly felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up, the house turned incredibly foreboding and darkness surrounded it like a fog.
Sirius quickly followed him into the house and, the moment he crossed the threshold, Harry heard a soft hissing noise throughout the room. Suddenly there was a whoosh and some extremely old fashioned gas lamps flickered into life.
He quickly gazed around the hallway and he realised his assumption that this house was neglected was not wrong. The wallpaper was peeling and stained, the carpet was threadbare and a chandelier glimmered overhead, shrouded in cobwebs. Many age-blackened portraits hung crooked on the walls, their occupants indistinguishable from their background.
The chandelier and the wall sconces were shaped like serpents, just like the doorknocker. He assumed that this must be a Slytherin's house and, while the furniture hinted at wealth, he was certain that this house had not had a knut spent on in it in many years.
"Right, follow me quietly," Sirius whispered. "Do not speak loudly in this hallway, the portraits wake up and start to scream if you do."
Harry nodded and he quickly followed Sirius across the hallway. At the end there was a large staircase which was ornately carved, but it was dirty and in need of repair. Opposite was a door that was open and led down, Harry presumed, to the kitchen as he could smell cooking and could hear voices coming from the door.
Sirius went to walk towards the stairs, when he suddenly stopped. Harry walked straight into the back of him as he had not been paying attention. Sirius stooped low and grabbed a flesh coloured string that was running into the basement.
He gave the string a strong tug which was accompanied by a loud crack from upstairs. He quickly reeled the string up and put it into his pocket, "The Twins' newest product," he said by the way of an explanation. "Now, follow me up to your room, I do not want anyone to know you are here yet."
Sirius led him towards the great wooden staircase. They passed a pair of long, moth-eaten black velvet curtains and Harry could see the bottom of a portrait frame poking out from them. He wondered why it was covered, but remembered what Sirius had said about them waking up easily. At the bottom of the staircase was a very large umbrella stand that he was certain had once been the foot of a troll.
The further he went in this house, the more confused he became. This house reminded him of the horrors he had seen when he had accidently found himself in Knockturn Alley. The walls around the stairs had small alcoves where there were stuffed heads of House Elves, all of which had the same snout-like nose; Harry assumed that they were from the same family.
The house was disturbing him. Sirius had never mentioned his family to him; he knew that the Black family was notorious in the Wizarding world, even on the continent. They were an old family with a very dark past.
Sirius continued to climb the old staircase to the top floor. Harry was about to ask where they were going, when they came to a door with a nameplate: Sirius Orion Black, Heir to the House of Black.
"This was my room when I lived here as a boy," Sirius explained and he opened the door. "As you can see, I haven't decorated since I moved in."
The room was spacious and was quite handsome. There was a large wooden bed which was heavily carved and there was a matching wardrobe and bedside table. There was also a large desk with many papers on it. There were two tall windows from which hung heavy silver curtains, in front of which stood a regal looking chaise lounge.
With a flick of his wand, Sirius lit the chandelier that hung in the room. The walls, Harry now saw, had silver and green wallpaper over which was hung an assortment of pictures and posters from Muggle motorbikes to a large Gryffindor banner. He saw pictures of the Marauders at Hogwarts; they were smiling up at him. He noticed that Wormtail was missing from them all and, to his shock, there were Muggle pictures of bikini-clad women.
Sirius sat down on the chaise and gestured at Harry to join him; he performed some very complicated wand movements and aimed them around the room. "Privacy charms," he explained. "I think it is time that I came clean to you, Harry."
Harry sat down in the offered chair, he didn't say anything but looked expectantly at Sirius.
"I know that you are eager to hear about Voldemort, but he hasn't done anything yet," Sirius said. "He is waiting and gathering his forces again before he makes his reappearance known."
Harry understood immediately, "That's why I haven't heard anything in the Prophet or in the Muggle news then, but why hasn't the Prophet reported that he is back?" He asked.
"Ah, well," Sirius stood and began to look through the papers on his desk. "When you reported to Fudge that Voldemort had returned, he was presented with Crouch Junior as proof and he had a Dementor kiss him on sight when he arrived. Fudge does not want to believe that Voldemort has returned, to accept it would mean the end of his term as Minister for Magic."
Harry was confused, "But as Minister, surely he has a duty to protect the community?"
Sirius let out a bark of laughter, "Ah of course, but he is a politician. Not a very good one, I admit, but he knows enough to know that this would spell the end of his term. Fudge is a peace time Minister, he does not have the backbone or the skill to combat the Death Eaters and Voldemort, so he has been hiding the truth and Crouch was his first step. The second step was having the Prophet slander both you and Dumbledore."
"But I have a subscription to the Daily Prophet," Harry said. "I didn't see anything."
"Did you read it from page to page?" Sirius asked.
"Well no, I was only looking for suspected Death Eater activity," he admitted. He now realised that he had been rather short sighted.
"Well, you would have to read every page to see it all. They are dropping your name in a lot of articles, all of which are painting you as attention seeking and mentally unstable. Fudge's aim is to make sure people do not believe your claims, he has already had Dumbledore's position as Chief Warlock and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards revoked. The general consensus at the moment is that Dumbledore is old and senile and it is time he stepped down."
"But that's mad," Harry said immediately. "Dumbledore's not – senile," He added lamely, he was about to say old but he realised how ridiculous that would have sounded.
Sirius noticed his slip of the tongue and smiled, "No he is not senile. A tad eccentric perhaps, but otherwise as sane as you or I. You may wonder why Fudge would have him removed? Well, just holding those positions meant that Dumbledore could voice his concerns to those with the power to do something and, if he did, Fudge would lose his own power."
Harry sat digesting what Sirius had said. He had never truly liked Fudge; he seemed like a bumbling fool. He remembered the day he met him at the end of the last year, the way he turned his nose up at him when he saw him with his winnings.
"So what is this Order of the Phoenix doing?" Harry asked.
Sirius didn't answer immediately and contemplated his response. "I will answer your questions Harry, I will disclose to you all that I can freely tell you, but at the moment I am more concerned about getting you through the farce Fudge has called a hearing. Please put aside all of your questions about Voldemort and the Order. Now is not the time."
"Alright," Harry agreed. He trusted Sirius' word and if he said he would tell him, then he would. "So why are we hiding up here?"
"Because I have a few things that I want to talk to you about," Sirius said. "And I do not want any intervention from Dumbledore or Molly, I am your guardian and that is my right."
He paused and, with a flick of his wand, a large jug of pumpkin juice and two glasses appeared, he poured them both a glass and gave one to Harry.
"Harry what do you know about your family history?" Sirius asked after taking a sip of his pumpkin juice.
Harry was shocked by the question as it was not what he had been expecting. "Not much," he answered honestly. He had been told a few things over the years, but it was nowhere near as much as he wanted to know. "I know that the Potters were an old Pureblood family and that my grandparents on both sides died before Voldemort killed my parents, but other than that I know nothing."
Sirius nodded. "That is what I expected. I would have been surprised if anyone approached you about it, they have no right to tell you anything as it is family business." He paused for a moment and took another sip of his drink, "What do you know of the Ancient and Noble Houses?"
Harry paused for a moment; he wasn't entirely sure what they were. He had heard of them, but he didn't know anything about them, "They were the families that founded the Ministry of Magic weren't they?" He asked.
"That is one of the many things they've done," Sirius acknowledged. "Binns has a lot to answer for; this should be taught in History of Magic. Do you know the story of Camelot?"
"Of course" Harry said, he had read the history of Camelot after he had got a Merlin chocolate frog card, "but I don't know a great deal."
Sirius nodded and told Harry the story of Camelot. "Just over one thousand years ago, the city of Camelot was built. It was a testament to the foundation of magical law and order and it was envisioned to be a place where magical people could live in harmony with their Muggle counterparts, a place where magic was not feared. A great council was formed of twenty four powerful magical families from across the British Isles. They were brought to Camelot and they became the Knighted Houses of Camelot."
"For fifty years there was peace, but magic was starting to be feared and witches and wizards were hunted. Darkness was befouling the country, a great battle was fought and, in the end, both sides lost. King Arthur Pendragon was killed with magic by his half-sister, Morgana Pendragon, known to many as Morgana Le Fey, the darkest witch in history. The communities began to separate from each other; Muggles feared magic and witch hunts became common place after Arthur's death."
"Merlin left after Arthur was killed. His friend Guinevere, the former Queen of Camelot, went with him and they travelled the country for many years. The queen had been with child, but she did not carry it to term. It was during this time that Merlin and Guinevere met Gaius Hufflepuff, a Welsh land owner and a Master Healer. Gaius was unable to heal the queen and she too died."
"In Merlin's later years, Camelot was abandoned by all. Merlin summoned the Knighted Houses to the ruined citadel where he spoke at length of his vision for the magical community. Camelot had failed because of a dark witch and dark magic, but it also failed because the Muggle community feared magic. He was the first to recognise that perhaps witches and wizards should hide their craft from Muggles. He gave the Knighted Family's a charge, to protect and help govern the country."
Sirius paused taking a large gulp of his drink to wet his throat, "Merlin gave the Family's his greatest creation, a gift that would give the Family's control over magic that could be unpredictable and dangerous."
"I thought the story was older than Hogwarts," Harry said. "How does that relate to us?"
Sirius laughed, "Well I would estimate that Camelot was built eighty years before Hogwarts and it was five years after it fell that Hogwarts was built. Merlin went to Hogwarts; he studied under all of the Founders and was actually a member of Slytherin house. Merlin died at the age of one hundred and ninety four and he only attended Hogwarts for a year, it is said that he wished to be sorted into a house for his own curiosity. Now, the Knighted Family's have continued through the generations although three have now died out in the direct line, but I am sure that they could be found again through the indirect lines. They eventually became known as the Ancient and Most Noble Houses and they all hold seats on the Wizengamot."
Harry sat thinking on that. In twenty minutes he had learnt a critical point in British magical history and he now, more than ever, realised how useless Binns was. "I never knew how much Merlin did for our community."
"He was one of the most influential people in our history. Across the world, people have heard of him and his teachings. The Order of Merlin was created by the Knighted Family's to award those who showed the qualities that Merlin encouraged," Sirius said. ". You will know some members of the Ancient and Noble Family's, I am sure many of them are at Hogwarts. Your friend Neville, for example, is the heir to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Longbottom, the Black Family is also an Ancient and Most Noble House."
Harry was shocked. He knew that the Black's and Longbottom's were old, but he had not known just how old and influential they were. "So does that mean that you have a seat on the Wizengamot?" He asked, remembering what Sirius said about their role.
"I technically have two," Sirius said. "But obviously I cannot sit on my seat, I am a wanted man. What you may be interested to know is another part of the history of the Ancient and Most Noble Houses; the Potter Family is a member."
Harry's jaw dropped. "Why is it that I have never been told?" He couldn't believe that his family was one of these Ancient houses. He knew that the Potter family was old, but not that old.
"Well you should have been taught about the Family's in History of Magic but, as we have already agreed, the class is useless and taught by a ghost who only talks about goblins. I would also guess that many assumed you would know. Your father sat on the family seat of the Wizengamot only once, after that he appointed a proxy," Sirius explained. "I know some of your family history through what is taught to all children of the Family's. Your grandfather, Charlus, also taught me some of it when he gave me sanctuary when I ran away from home."
Harry was about to interrupt, but Sirius stopped him. "That is a story for another day, but, for now, it's not important." Sirius explained. "James also taught me a bit when he named me your godfather, just in case he didn't make it."
"So has my family's name always been Potter?" Harry asked. It had always struck him to be a younger family name.
"That depends on what side of the family you choose," Sirius said thinking on the question. "The Ancient and Noble House of Potter was created around six hundred and thirty years ago when Dorian Edmond Potter married Edwina Peverell. The Peverell family were the Ancient and Most Noble House, the Potters at that time were a nomadic family who traveled constantly, they never settled in one location for long. However, Edwina's brother died of what is now assumed to be dragon pox and her father was heirless. After his death, the title of Ancient and Most Noble House passed to the Potter family as they already had a child. And so the name was changed to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter." Sirius explained. "Now, the reason I am telling you all of this is because of the ancient laws written into our society, laws that the Knighted Family's wrote over the last millennia. Once the sole remaining member of an Ancient and Most Noble House turned fifteen, and were the direct heir to the said House, they can claim headship of their House and claim their heritage."
Harry sat there for a moment. "So, what does this actually mean?"
"The day after tomorrow, we will go to Gringotts so that you can claim the headship of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter. At aged sixteen, you will be exempt from underage magic and, at seventeen, you can claim Lordship over the House and take your family seat as your own," he explained. "There is a loophole in the laws which Remus found, I am appointed Regent of House Potter until you turn seventeen. Technically I have the power to vote for both House Black and House Potter but, given the circumstances, I cannot. However, while you cannot claim your seat until you are seventeen, it is not stated how old you have to be in order to sit as proxy to a House."
Harry smiled slightly as he worked out what Sirius was saying, "I may not be able to claim the seat as my own, but I can be named proxy by the Lord Regent of House Potter to be his proxy is his absence?" He asked, hoping that he had got it correct.
Sirius nodded. "That's right. As I have said, the laws are old and, for the ancient laws to be rewritten, all of the Ancient Houses must vote for the change and, since four of them are no longer on the Wizengamot, not including us, they cannot be rewritten. Your trial will be in front of the Wizengamot, Fudge will not be able to resist the opportunity to try and humiliate you. But, as Head of House Potter, you have quite the advantage and the best part is that he will not be expecting it at all."
Harry couldn't believe that he had never been told this information; he had never really heard anything more than hints of that side of the community. He was well aware that there was a high level of the community, but he had always assumed the upper class were just the Purebloods. He stifled a yawn, all this thinking had worn him out.
"Right, I think that I have given you enough for tonight," Sirius said noticing his yawn. "I will show you to your room. I know that you may want to see Hermione and Ron, as they are only two floors below, but please wait at least until tomorrow. I am trying to keep you out of sight from everyone for now, okay?"
Harry nodded; he found it kind of amusing to think that he was now keeping things from them after a month of them doing it to him. "It's fine, Sirius."
Sirius smiled at him, "Now I think it's time you were in bed." He led him to the door opposite to his, which had a name plate:
Do not enter
Without the express permission of
Regulus Arcturus Black
The room was slightly smaller than Sirius', but the décor was the same. This room was decorated in silver wallpaper and had a thick cream carpet; the bed was made with a reddish brown spread and looked inviting. On the head board was a crest he didn't recognise and, at the foot of the bed, was the same.
"What do you think?" Sirius asked with interest.
"It's great!" Harry said looking around. "Why isn't the rest of the house like this?"
"Because this is the only room in the house that Kreacher, the family elf, has kept clean. This was my younger brother's room," Sirius was lost in thought for a moment. "Regi would never place any charms or anything in the room because it made is easier for him locate any that I had placed. We were so close when we growing up and I was extremely protective of him, but unfortunately my mother got to him eventually."
"I will come and wake you at six am; we have a busy day ahead. There is a bathroom next door on the left and, if you need anything, just call for Kreacher. I have warned him of your arrival and he will obey your orders. Just be careful with him, he is a horror of an elf and is twisted, but he cannot harm you or refuse a direct order," he said. "I have to go now, Harry. A useless meeting of the Order is about to start, probably to discuss you. I will see you in the morning." And with that, he quickly left the room and pulled the door shut behind him.
He was about to get ready for bed when he realised that he didn't have his pyjamas. He was about to get them when he had a better idea. "Kreacher," he called and, with there was a small pop, something appeared in front of him.
It was a House Elf. It looked very old and its skin seemed to be several times too big for it. Though it was bald like all House Elves, it had dirty hair growing from its large, bat like ears. It looked at Harry with large, watery, blood shot eyes. With a look of contempt, it bowed, its snout like nose touching the floor. Harry noted that it was rather dirty, which was odd for an elf as they were usually rather clean beings. The dish cloth that it had used to form a loincloth was also filthy.
"Young Master calls Kreacher," he croaked and added in an undertone. "Master's brat is in Master Regulus' room moving Master Regulus' things."
Harry frowned at that, "Kreacher I mean no disrespect to Master Regulus. I mean to honour him and the House into which he was born. Would you to tell me more about him?"
Kreacher looked at him with an odd frown, "Young Master is wishing to honour Master Regulus? And learn of his greatness?" He gazed intently at him then said, "Kreacher could be telling Young Master Harrison of Master Regulus, but Young Master calling Kreacher to do something?"
Harry smiled at the elf, he could tell that the elf was devoted to Sirius' brother, he also wondered why he seemed to dislike Sirius, "I would like to learn about him, I was not aware that Sirius had a brother and to think of him seemed to upset him. But you are right, I did have a question," Harry said. He did not like ordering elves, but asking for the help seemed a good compromise. "Would you be able to get my trunk and owl cage from wherever Sirius sent it before we arrived?"
"Kreacher is able to Young master, is that all Young Master wants?" He asked, with a bow.
"Would you be able to do it without anyone seeing or hearing you? I do not want anyone to know of my presence in this house," Harry asked.
"Kreacher is able to do as Young Master asks, Kreacher will be back in a moment," he said, then added a slight bow and, with a crack, he was gone. A minute later, he was back with everything Harry had asked for. "Will Young Master want anything else?"
"No that will be all, thank you very much for getting that Kreacher," Harry said, opening his trunk to get some bedclothes. "Please do not let me keep you from going to bed if you have finished your duties for the night."
The elf bowed low and muttered, "Young Master asks if Kreacher has finished his duties and if he should sleep. Kreacher has not done this! Kreacher is bad elf, but Mistress would not like Kreacher to do so." He then left with a crack.
Harry got into bed; he made another mental note to speak to Sirius about his family and to discuss Kreacher. And with that he fell to sleep.
**********Authors Note*************BETA'D BY NOOKA*****************