Chapter 6

They were strolling slowly and silently towards the gates. It was a companionable silence. Harry had gone with the Snapes to the St. Mungo's lab, Lily having agreed to make preliminary notes on the Wolfsbane Potion and Ivy tagging along with them. Moody wanted to discuss something tête-à-tête with Dumbledore. Somewhat to Sirius's surprise James had suggested a walk to Hogsmead instead of flooing directly to their respective homes.

"I haven't seen Fleur for quite awhile now," Sirius said eventually. "Have you decided to hide her from the rest of wizardom?"

"I have, actually. Though she'll probably get cabin fever at this rate, poor girl," James smiled. "She is pretty big with child now, you know, and apparently Veela cannot quite control their charms at that stage. Something to do with pheromones… Last time she went shopping alone she was nearly mobbed… Rescued by your cousin of all people, by the way…"

"What? Which cousin?"

"Cissy. She stopped by at Twilfitt and Tattings for a bit of retail therapy. Right in the nick of time. Never thought I would be indebted to a Malfoy, if only by marriage!"

"Well, will wonders never cease!"

"Yeah. Actually, I was going to ask… You've, um, never seemed to be affected… You won't mind playing a bodyguard occasionally? Brodrig's got a project for me, so I might be a bit busy for a few days…"

"Sure, I'd be happy to. Though it might well land us on the Prophet's Gossip pages," Sirius warned.

"As if I cared for such nonsense," James scoffed. They returned to contemplative silences again.

"Do you know if Harry is using the vault?" James asked after a while.

"Doubt it. I suspect he left the key at Grimmauld Place."

"He's bought himself some cloths though. There is no way he's been transfiguring things all along. Have you er, been subsidizing him?"

"No. Well, apart from housing him, I haven't. I guess he'd got a few galleons on him when he ended up here."

James huffed impatiently.

"That's ridiculous. What is he going to do once the supply runs out?"

"I dunno, get a job? Dumbledore will come through with the papers sooner or later."

"Right, tracing him to some squib ancestor…. No one will buy that."

"That's not the point… Have you told Fleur about him?" Sirius had been wondering for some time now.

"No. I can't tell her about him without the rest of it."

"Are you saying she doesn't know about the Order?!" Sirius exclaimed incredulously.

"She knows that I am part of some sort of a Resistance group, and that that's dangerous. I couldn't marry her without saying that much. I mean I am placing her in considerable danger merely by association. But… I don't discuss the Order business with her."

Sirius shook his head at him in disbelief.

"A good chunk of your life belongs to the Order, James. It's not healthy to have so many secrets from your wife."

"I know," James sighed unhappily. "But she'd want to be involved and that would place her in a greater danger, and now with the baby I… I just won't have a moment of peace… I don't know how Snape can bear it…"

Sirius almost bit on his tongue to keep himself from retorting. Suddenly James stopped and turned to him.

"Oh, for fuck's sake! Must you walk on eggshells with me?! What is it?"

"It was Lily who brought Snape to the fold, as it were, not vice versa. She received her invitation same as we did. Hell, she probably got it before we did. But to do the slimeball justice, even if he had been invited first, Snape would have never decided for her. He may be a complete rotter to everyone else, but they have never been anything less than full partners!"

James flinched as if Sirius slapped him physically.

"Look, I—" Sirius started.

"You are right," James said in an anguished whisper. "I am about to screw up royally again, aren't I? If I haven't already…"

"Just tell her, Prongs."

"I… I will. I'll just wait till the baby is born."

Sirius shook his head.

"Tell her now. You are already on thin ice, if you went behind her back with that vault. To shield a pregnant wife from realities of war is one thing; to exclude her from financial and family decisions is something else entirely. Wait a bit longer, and you'll sleep on a couch for the rest of your natural life."

James grimaced.

"I may have to, anyhow. Fleur inherited the Veela temper along with everything else."

"So stock on dittany," Sirius said callously.

"And perhaps on a few baubles while I am at it," James said thoughtfully.

"Honestly, James. It would only make you look guilty. Guiltier. Tell her now, and buy those baubles later."

Harry and Sirius were breakfasting 'in state' again. Sirius knew that he was showing-off shamelessly, but Harry seemed to enjoy it, so why not? Soon the weather would worsen and peaceful mornings on the terrace would become impractical, but for now he fully intended to enjoy the dog days. Especially since the breakfast was the only time when he was guaranteed to see Harry. They had to postpone the Horcrux-hunting expedition again because of some Hogwarts-related crisis (something to do with hiring a new Potions teacher), but Harry kept finding his own amusements these days. "Hunting" was his usual answer to Sirius's polite queries, and he did seem to prefer travel in his animagus form. Sirius wondered idly if the boy actually ate his kill. He still remembered how James had got him a bag of doggie treats as a joke soon after they'd finally managed their transformations. That was the only time he'd eaten as Padfoot and he had no desire to repeat the experience.

"So how did the Wolfsbane session come along?" Sirius asked.

Harry flicked a page of the Prophet absently.

"Hmm. I am hardly an expert. Lily seemed interested in the project though, so I guess it's not totally hopeless. And Ivy must have inherited their potion-related genes. She is scarily good."

She was scarily good at other things as well, Sirius thought sourly.

"She must be, to have spotted what Snape was up to with those capsules," he said aloud.

"Oh that. I am sure she was bluffing, Sirius. She could have activated it half-through Moody's little speech, if she had really had it. And she is way too smart to show the only trick up her sleeve."

Sirius frowned at the note of sincere admiration in Harry's voice.

"She's not really your sister, Harry," he reminded.

"I know she isn't. But she is still something; it's no use to pretend otherwise. I mean I know your aren't my godfather, but I still feel a kind of affinity to you. And I think you feel it too. You've added me to your blood-wards after knowing me for less than a couple of weeks, for Merlin's sake!"

Trying not to think too much what 'affinity' might mean exactly Sirius struggled to concentrate on the conversation.

"Sure," he said, "but, you know, for me you aren't a 'duplicate of someone I loved'. I've never had a godson named Harry."

"So you just like me for myself?" Harry challenged.

"That too," Sirius said truthfully. "But of course I see you as James's. It's just… I met you as an adult so I don't see you in a godfatherly light."

"My Sirius definitely saw me as my father's son too," Harry smiled crookedly. "And it's not like we had an ordinary godfather-godson relationship with him."

"Meaning?"

"We knew each other for a measly couple of years. The only times he took 'I-am-the-responsible-adult-here' tone was in his letters, I think. He never really treated me as a child. And… I believe he wanted to see my father in me. Perfectly understandable of course," Harry added hastily.

"Huh," Sirius didn't like the sound of it. "Hardly fair."

"I'd like to see how fair you'd be after Azkaban," Harry bristled.

"Good point. It's a miracle he was still sane."

"He said he'd turn into Padfoot whenever the Dementors were about." Harry sighed. "He was sane and great and basically the only family I had and I loved him. But he wasn't exactly whole. I guess I always knew that, but seeing you now drives it home." He smiled that crooked smile again, and Sirius's heart twisted. "You don't even look that much alike," he added.

There was an awkward pause as Sirius made a conscious effort to return their conversation to safer topics. Harry beat him to it.

"Does Remus have a job apart from whatever it is he's doing for the Order?"

"No. It is almost impossible for a werewolf to be legally employed under the new laws." Sirius said bitterly. And it is my fault.

"Can't he find a job in the muggle world?"

"He does sometimes. But it's illegal. Werewolves are classified as magical creatures, and as such are forbidden to have any contacts with muggles. He could well be executed, if his employment history became public knowledge."

"Huh," Harry frowned. "Does it concern all magical creatures?"

"Yeah. Shouldn't you know stuff like that, as an Auror?"

"It's a bit different in my world, obviously. Besides, the law is a bit fuzzy on elves. Mostly the power of the punishment lies with the owner, right? And if anything is amiss with that, it's usually in the competence of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. The Auror Office doesn't normally get involved."

Elves again. Clearly it was an issue with Harry.

"Well, it is all a bit hypothetical," Sirius said cautiously. "I can't imagine a situation where an elf would compromise the Statue of Secrecy."

Harry smiled reminiscently, but didn't elaborate.

"Suppose they did?" he asked instead. "If the Obliviators were to be involved someone would have to be held responsible, right?"

Sirius shrugged.

"Depends on the circumstance. If it's only a misdemeanour, the owner would have to be fined, I imagine. If it's something really heavy, they'd probably just give the elf in question cloths and hand them to the DRCMC."

"Or just kill that elf and save everyone the bother," Harry said harshly.

"Yeah, that too. Why?"

"Hmm. No reason. Can an elf survive the DRCMC hearing?"

"Only if a witch or a wizard would step forward and took them in their household. Almost never happens though."

"Wouldn't poorer families jump at the opportunity?" Harry looked genuinely surprised.

"Well, for one thing the DRCMC hearings aren't public. They would have to know someone in the Department to even be aware of the opportunity. And even if they did… They probably

wouldn't go for it."

"Why not? They'd get to save a life and get someone to do all the ironing for free."

Sirius had to smile at Harry's logic.

"We, wizards, are very touchy when it comes to relationships with other magical beings. A disgraced elf wouldn't be welcomed in most households…."

"Hmm." Harry relapsed into silence, and sat frowning into his coffee. Sirius cast around for another topic. He really didn't want to discuss elves' rights.

"So you believe Ivy then?" he said.

"Well, I think she told the truth about how she'd stumbled onto me. Whether it is the whole truth though… I wouldn't bet on it."

"That doesn't concern you?"

"Sure does. But to be perfectly frank I am more concerned about her. I don't believe she's an enemy, much less that she's actively working for Voldemort. But… Someone could conceivably use her gift without her realising it. She says herself she met loads of strangers while drifting. Who knows who might have been among them… And the one time Voldemort lured me into a trap he did it by sending me dreams and visions…"

"All the more reason to Legilimence her."

"Have you ever been Legilimenced against your will, Sirius?"

"No."

"Well, I have been. And I don't think anyone should be subjected to it unless there is a very good reason. And, no, I don't count vague suspicions as a good reason!" Harry put his cup down with a clink. "Ok, I think I'm off. You are meeting with goblins today, right?"

"Yeah, I don't think anything will come of it, though. They pride themselves on their policy of confidentiality. Which is something I mostly glad of, as a matter of fact. Mind you, possibly having a chunk of someone's soul laying about a convicted Death Eater's vault might be counted as a special circumstance even by Goblins. Pity we can't very well give them that reason."

"So you think it's a fool's errand then?"

"We'll see."

Later that afternoon Sirius was trying to distract himself from an entirely expected failure at Gringotts by translating some runic texts mentioning Rurick the Wako or whatever was the ancient self-proclaimed dimension traveller's nickname, when suddenly James's owl flew in, two envelops in her beak.

"Bice! Hello, girl!" Sirius sent hastily for owl treats. "What have we here?"

Both envelops were inscribed in Fleur's elegant handwriting. One was addressed to 'Harry Potter'.

Somewhat apprehensively Sirius opened his. Inside was an official invitation to a family dinner on Friday. Sirius flipped the card. There was only one word on the reverse, 'Merci' and Fleur's signature.

He was still staring at the card when Dotty appeared in the study.

"Is you busy, Master?" she said uncertainly.

"Yes?" Sirius looked up surprised. He wasn't a harsh master he hoped, but it was unusual even for the head house-elf to come in without being called.

"There is a strange elf at the gate, Master. He wants to see you. Says you is wanting to know what he knows."

Sirius nearly jumped out of his chair.

"Do you know his name?"

"Dobby, Master."

"Let him in!"

The elf proved to be a bedraggled creature in a frayed pillow-case, his ears tragically drooped and his hands bandaged. He was clutching a dirty canvas sack and appeared agitated.

"You wanted to talk to me Dobby?"

"Yes, Mr. Black, Sir," the creature nodded emphatically. "Dobby is bringing you this." As he opened his sack, Sirius gasped in horror at the sight of the familiar red-tailed hawk inside. For a moment he thought that Harry was dead, but as he touched him with a shaking hand he could feel his warmth and realised that he was still alive, if only just. The bird was badly maimed and burned and was unresponsive to his touch.

"What happened?" Sirius asked hoarsely.

"Dobby cannot tell," the elf asserted tragically.

As he cradled the bird to his chest, Sirius went mentally trough his options. If it was something Malfoy-related Dobby wouldn't be able to tell anything at all. He himself, mindful of Harry's warnings about Kreacher had increased the security, placing a few more safeguards on his elves, just to be on the safe side. Clearly Malfoy wasn't quite that prudent, or Dobby wouldn't be here at all, but the creature would be still constrained by its bondage.

"Do you know what can help him?" Sirius pleaded.

"No, Mr. Black, Sir."

"Can you tell, if it was wizard or witch who did that?"

"Neither, Mr. Black, Sir." He was staring at Sirius intently, trying to convey something.

"Wards, then?"

"Not the usual ones, Sir. Dobby cannot tell more. Not about that."

"What can you say?"

"Harry Potter is Dobby's friend, Mr Black, Sir," Dobby bobbed his head up and down for emphasis.

"Yes?..."

"Harry Potter offered friendship!" again that odd emphasis. Sirius was at sea.

"But that's not what injured him, is it?"

"It is, Mr. Black, Sir," the elf affirmed tragically. "Please, Sir, help Dobby's friend. Dobby must go now."

"I will do my best, Dobby. Wait! Does you master know about it? Anything at all?"

"No, Mr. Black, Sir."

"Well, that's something. Thank you, Dobby."

James was pacing to and fro, wearing off the carpet in Sirius's bedroom while Lily and Moody conversed quietly in the corner. The redhead had brought up an impressive array of healing and nutritional potions and was consulting with the old Auror about them.

Dumbledore finally finished the test readings.

"Well I think it is quite safe to change him back now," he said. "He is lucky that you were able to patch him up like this. I didn't realise your Touch can work such miracles, my boy."

"I didn't either. I am not sure it would have worked quite as well, if he'd been in his human form."

"Can't we try to wake him, while he's a bird," James asked anxiously.

"I've tried all I could think of," Dumbledore said soberly.

"Then we need to get him to St. Mungo's, and to Hell with his papers!"

"There is a residue of some very Dark Magic on him, James. We couldn't explain it in St. Mungo's even if we wanted to, since most unfortunately Harry didn't inform us of his plans. And if it were something to do with Horcruxes, than we couldn't tell anything anyhow. You know what that would mean. The Department of Law Enforcement would get involved before Harry even had a chance to wake up!"

"Better be investigated than in coma!"

"He is not in any immediate danger, James. Let's change him back first, and then we can review our options. At worst he has to wait until a new batch of Mandrakes mature…"

"His condition can worsen any second! You think we can just calmly wait for months?!"

"If it worsens we'll have no other recourse but to get him to St. Mungo's. For now I suggest we wait." With that Dumbledore changed Harry back to human with a wave of his wand.

To Sirius's relief it turned out that results of his healing held. Harry's cloths were scorched and bloody, but he himself appeared unhurt. If 'unhurt' could be applied to someone in coma…

Suddenly Sirius felt almost choked with fury. So that's what Harry meant by 'hunting"! Hunting Horcruxes. How dared he go off like that on his own! It wasn't even his fight! And if he decided to fight, he shouldn't have done it alone! They were all this together, that's was the point of the Order! Except Harry wasn't really in it, was he? In either world from what he'd said. He never gave the impression to quite identify himself with the Order of the Phoenix, despite having a phoenix feather wand and being friends with Fawkes. Odd that. Wordlessly Sirius got the holly wand out of the holster on the boy's wrist put it on the bedside table, then vanished what left of Harry's clothes and got him into his own pyjamas. Why did I have to be so damn considerate? Sirius raged inwardly. I should have pressed him more. I should have insisted on tagging along. A head of an ancient and dark house would have been of more use to him than an elf, however loyal! I might never even talk to him now…. Suddenly he stilled. Of course! Why didn't they think of it before!

"Harry and Dobby are the only ones who know what this is about," he said aloud. "Dobby can't talk, but Harry might be able to….if Ivy could reach him."

"I don't think it's possible," Lily retorted immediately. "She tried to reach Severus repeatedly, but without success."

"His version of Living Death might not affect rigor mortis, but in any other respect I bet it's what it sounds like. Ivy couldn't reach his dreams because he doesn't dream," Sirius dismissed. "But Harry might!"

"No! I won't allow it!" Lily's lips were trembling and her eyes welling, but she looked determined. "And don't glare at me like that, Sirius! Ivy is only fifteen. Last time she entered Harry's dream they dimension-travelled! And now he is likely affected with some of the darkest magic in existence! Can you guarantee that she won't get contaminated by whatever has cursed him? Or trapped in his dream and never wake? Or pulled to another Universe? She is neither an Order member, nor an adult! You can't expect me to let her fight dark arts!"

Sirius looked at her incredulously.

"Ivy sees Harry as her brother," he said quietly. "She would want to help, surely?"

"It's not her decision. And don't think you can circumvent me! I will feed her the Dreamless Sleep potion every night, if I have to! I would rather risk addiction than her life!"

"And if he dies, Lily? Do you think she'll forgive you?"

Lily was crying in earnest now.

"I'll risk even that. I won't risk her life."

Sirius was staring resentfully at the fireplace where everyone but James and the unconscious Harry had finally disappeared. Without turning he knew that James was sitting on the bed beside Harry, his balled hands pressed to his forehead.

"Why didn't you say something?" Sirius demanded harshly.

"What could I possibly say, that hadn't been said already? Besides, Lily has never listened to me."

"You could have tried. How can she just… In Harry's world both of you had given your lives for him! Doesn't it count for something?!"

"What do you think?"

Sirius rounded on him.

"I don't fucking know what to think, James! You…You are sitting here, counting his heartbeats! And what is Lily doing? Preparing dinner for that snakeling?"

James looked up at him, and Sirius's heart twisted at the pain he saw in his eyes.

"Ah, but it is different for me, Padfoot. He is a living and breathing manifestation of everything I wanted once upon a time. And the best part of it is that I can still claim him as mine, well, I could, if he'd let me, and I can love him, and it won't affect what Fleur and I have, won't make me love our child any less…My loyalties aren't divided… But for Lily… Harry is an embodiment of her husband worst fears. And now her husband lies in coma, her daughter might be in danger and under suspicion… There are sides for her in this. And just as she died for Harry in his word, she'd die for her kids here."

"All the same," Sirius said mulishly, "how can she just… abandon him like that?! I—"

"No parent can be forced to choose between their kids, and stay sane," James interjected quietly. "It is just as well that she doesn't see Harry in that light."

Abruptly Sirius strolled to the window and waived it open wandlessly, the manor as always being attuned to his wishes. He gulped the humid evening air hungrily.

"I may not have kids," he said softly without turning, "but I too know something about choices."

"Oh, Siri, you know more than most anyone about choices…" the bed squeaked, as James rose, he came up to Sirius and enveloped him in a hug. That was so unprecedented that for a moment Sirius tensed in his embrace. For all that they had been closer than brothers for decades, they have never been this demonstrative… But it was James, and Sirius relaxed.

"You weren't yet twelve, when you chose … essentially me over your family. And I was too young and too stupid to realise the ramifications of that choice. Hell, I was too stupid to realise there was a choice. But you knew what it meant, and you stuck with me through thick and thin, no matter the cost. And in that other world it cost you everything."

"You would have done the same for me."

"I would have, but somehow I was never called to. In either world, it seems. I have always kept that mirror on me so that I could come if you needed me. And it has always helped to know that if I did something stupid, got cursed or something, as long as I had enough breath to say your name you'd come to me. I never used it when I was away because I was afraid I'd succumb to the temptation and return and… become a nuisance…"

"You could still use it."

"So could you. But you always knew when I needed space, or a shoulder to cry on, or a whack on the head, as the case may be…"

Finally Sirius turned and looked at him.

"You have never cried on my shoulder, Jamie."

James's face worked.

"I might yet," he whispered.

Suddenly Dotty appeared in the doorway.

"Master, Mr. Mark Snape is wanting to see you."

Sirius exchanged a puzzled look with James.

"Get him over here," he ordered.

A tall jeans-and-tee-clad auburn-haired teen entered the bedroom. His posture was tense and his emerald eyes (Harry's eyes!) were guarded as they swept the room and zeroed on Harry. As always when Sirius saw Lily's son he marvelled at his unbelievable luck at the genetic sweepstakes. All he'd got from Snivelly look-wise was Snape's narrow, long-fingered aristocratic hands, the only good feature the git possessed; everything else was pure Lily. The boy stared at his quasi sibling a fraction too long, before finally recalling his surroundings and addressing Sirius with rigid formality.

"Thank you for receiving me, Mr. Black."

Sirius nodded impatiently.

"I figured it has something to do with Harry here."

"Yes," Mark tapped his fingers nervously on a thick leather-bound volume he held. "I think, well, I hope, I could help with eh, getting into his dreams."

"You a Dreamdrifter too?" James asked sceptically.

"Uh, no. Even in the Prince family they were born once in blue moon. And I can't help with getting Ivy to do it, because for one, Mom only told me what'd got her into the state on the condition that I wouldn't tell Ivy. So I had to give my word. And besides, I think she's right, Ivy is underage, and stuff. But I am an adult!" he looked at the older men defiantly, as if expecting them to object.

"We need a Dreamdrifter, not an adult," Sirius said bluntly.

"When I tuned seventeen Father gave me a key to the Prince Vault," Mark continued disregarding Sirius's rejoinder. "He keeps all the … dodgy stuff there, you know."

"I didn't, but I can't say I am surprised," Sirius couldn't help commenting.

"Shut up, Sirius. This tome you are clutching is from there, then?" James prompted.

"Yes. Like I said, not every Prince was born with the family gift, but most of them had been fascinated with the dream-related stuff. There is a few generations worth of research on the subject in that vault… It seems some of my ancestors were able to devise a ritual that allows even a non-drifter enter a person's dreams, provided that at least two close relatives of the said person form a three-way blood bond with the Dreamer. Then that person – they call them an Envoy – enters on of the Anchors' mind through Legillimency, and slips from there to a Dreamer's mind. I have the family codex with all the necessary instructions… " Mark seemed somewhat uneasy about the whole thing. "I am sure Father would have given it to Ivy, but as she's kept her gift secret…"

"You mean, you can send me to Harry's dreams with the help of the ritual?" James asked eagerly.

"No, I'll have to form a blood bond with you—and Harry— so that someone else could be sent. Mr. Black, won't mind being the Envoy, I suppose? And you could trust him to enter your mind?"

"It's James and Sirius since we are all adults here," James smiled. "And Sirius and I are actually related, so I think—"

"Uh, no. We are already taking certain risks because of the whole different universes factor. I believe the two Anchors have to be as closely related to Harry as possible. And before you say anything about Mom's involvement," the boy frowned at Sirius, "she doesn't know about the ritual and doesn't know I am here. And in any case, it would be more than a little awkward if she were to form a blood bond with Mr. Pot—, with James."

"Hmm… I'd like to know a bit more about possible risks for the Envoy. And about those bonds as well, for that matter…."

"You can skip the Envoy-related risks," Sirius interjected. "I am doing it."

"I don't know what the risks are for the Envoy. It's basically the same deal as with Ivy: because Harry is from a different world and is cursed with something really nasty, we simply cannot calculate how all that might affect you if you were to go. As for the bond, it's just your basic blood alliance thing, except we would be using it for a specific purpose. I am good at Runes so I am fairly confident I'll get it right. And it won't affect me in quite the same way it would Mom…"

James looked at the boy incredulously.

"You think you can enter into a blood alliance with me without it affecting you any?!"

"Of course not! But surely you can see that it would be most improper for Mom—"

"Yes, yes! But, Mark, a blood-alliance is… You must know it would have some serious consequences for you! I could start a war and demand your allegiance."

"So could I," the teen pointed out. "It goes both ways."

"Yes, but… Look, don't take it the wrong way… I don't think I am any better than you for being a pureblood. But it's no use denying that I've more leverage socially. I could start a war or, at any rate, a political campaign tomorrow. And you won't be able to, for at least a few years yet…"

The boy regarded James steadily.

"But aren't we already at war Mr. … uh, James?" he nodded at Harry's motionless body. "And aren't we already allied?"

"I suppose, we are," James smiled. "Well, if you are sure, there's no time like present. Although… I don't understand why Harry rather then Sirius would need Anchors? I mean, Sirius will be taking most risks…"

Mark shrugged.

"I can't claim to understand all the theory involved. But the ritual was originally devised to enter the dreams of someone who is already in a fragile state, like you know, coma... not necessarily curse-induced. And mind invasions would normally mean some additional strain on the system, so a Dreamer would need some steadying from their close kin, I guess. Besides without the different universe factor, risks for an Envoy are minimal. Well, without the Dark Lord's involvement too."

"Ya-da-da-da-di-da," Sirius huffed impatiently. "We are not writing a bloody essay on magical theory, James. Let's do it already."

As they started to set up the groundwork for the ritual, Sirius saw that Mark's claim to being good at Runes was by no means an empty boast. He fully expected that he himself together with James would have to do the bulk of the preparations, but the teen performed his part with easy confidence. Using his Touch to heal the two Anchor's cuts Sirius watched bemused as they mingled their blood. Amazing. It would be well worth it, to wake up Snape just see his face when he'd learn that his firstborn was now blood-allied to James Potter.

Finally all the runes were drawn and everything was set.

"Well," James smiled a very Harry-like crooked smile. "Ready, Pads?"

"Yes, I am. Legilimens!"