THE BLACKS ARE BACK!
Rated for mild language, suggestive jokes, and battle scenes.
Let the fic commence!
Prologue: Beware The Patient Man
The man swilled his brandy as he stared into the room from the doorway.
The room itself was not a large one. In fact, there was nothing in it. There were no windows or fireplaces, but the polished ebony floor and ceiling still gleamed. Despite the fact the floor was bare, the walls were not. Three of the four walls were covered, floor to twenty-foot ceiling, in portraits of various sizes and shapes. All the occupants of the frames had the same black hair and gray eyes. Bedecking the fourth wall, at the back of the room, was the family tree, that stretched from floor to ceiling as well, the top proudly holding a faded family crest.
Not just any family - the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black.
Oh, the glory of the Blacks.
The man let out a bitter laugh as he shook his head. The aged man looked like he could've been one of the portraits - he had the same features as the occupants, though his black hair was graying and eyes dark, he was just as immaculately groomed and lonely.
Twisting one of the many rings on his fingers, Arcturus sighed. He nearly slumped against the doorframe, but that would be ill-befitting for a man of his stature. Whatever stature there was left in the Black family. It didn't matter, anyway - he had stood in this doorway once a day, every day, for the past twenty-five years. He would manage. Ninety-five wasn't that old.
Arcturus swallowed. He may not be that old, but he felt old. He had spent the last quarter-decade in near solitude; there was no greater pain than watching people he cared for die around him. He was the Head of House and it was his job to make sure that every member of the House was happy, well-cared for, and in harmony with the others and all needs attended to. Against his will, his heart gave a pang.
That was one task he had failed, and Arcturus would gladly own up to it.
Arcturus closed his eyes and looked away, but did not move from the doorway.
This was his ritual, as it had been for so many years. He couldn't remember exactly when he picked it up…maybe it had started when his sister, brother, and wife died. At least somewhere in between Dorea, Andromeda, Narcissa, and Bellatrix's engagements and consecutive or eventual estrangements. Or maybe when Alphard, who had finally had enough, blasted himself off the family tree. Or, perhaps, when Sirius ran away and Regulus joined the Dark Lord. Maybe when Lucretia's, his daughter's, twin sons were killed by Death Eaters and their sister married a Weasley. Possibly when Dorea's son and his wife were killed - betrayed by Sirius - and their child sent to live with Muggles. Or when Callidora's grandson and his wife were tortured into insanity by Bellatrix and she was sent to Azkaban. Perhaps the true breaking point was when he was denied access to his grandson and great-nephews - or maybe when his children, nephews, and nieces finally died…the date mattered naught.
His House was in ruins.
"That's all you care about!" Arcturus recalled Sirius roaring at him nearly twenty years ago. "Your precious House, its dynasty - its so-called purity! Well, my lord, I'll tell you this…there is no dynasty unless there is a family - and the day there is a family somewhere in this bunch of inbred monsters is the day hell freezes over!"
Arcturus didn't know how he missed it, or why he didn't do anything, but every member had ended up dead, estranged, insane, or incarcerated.
Some were all of the above.
All he knew was that, suddenly, he found himself staring at the tree every morning when he woke up, wondering what happened to cause his glorious house - family, Arcturus suddenly thought - to fall so far from grace.
In the objective scheme of things, this was - in all honesty - rather pathetic. Arcturus wasn't an old man, but he felt like one. To anyone who cared (and, sadly, no one really did anymore) he was as good as dead. In fact, the Daily Prophet had released his obituary three years ago, after he spent six months in solitude after his daughter's death.
Arcturus didn't bother to correct them. This was much to Cassiopeia's - his cousin, one of the three remaining true Blacks - annoyance ("We are Blacks; they should know and glorify us!"). But he was far past the glory of the House of Black.
Arcturus had seen far too much of what "blood purity" and "glory" had done to his family. (When did he start thinking of relatives as a family, as opposed to his house? He didn't know, and he honestly didn't care. Because, as much as they could get on his nerves, he loved his family.) Where had the true glory of the Blacks gone? It lay shattered on the floor, and originally he had blamed anyone and everything for that. Now, he wasn't so blind. Arcturus may not have dropped it, but he let it shatter. If given a chance, Arcturus knew he would give anything to redo the past and reunite his family.
Arcturus sighed, gave into his old bones, and slumped against the doorframe. As much as he hated it, he wasn't going to get another chance.
Rubbing a tired hand over his face, suddenly something in the corner of his eye caught his attention.
Blinking, he moved into the room, completely forgetting the imaginary boundary over the door. Arcturus was intent on something on the tree under Sirius's name.
Despite the fact that Walburga had blasted Sirius off the tree in Grimmauld Place, Sirius was still a member of the House of Black. Sirius had been Heir to the House of Black since his birth, and only if Sirius had violated the Three Values of the House could he be blasted off the tree. Regardless of Sirius' rule-breaking nature, or his criminal record, he hadn't done so - Sirius remained the heir to this day.
Arcturus knew that Sirius was quite aware of that fact. That was why Sirius' blood-adopted godson, Harry Potter, had been made Sirius's heir at birth. While blood-adopted heirs weren't usually accepted, Harry was also a member of the House of Black as Dorea's grandson and James's (Antares's) son. Every member of the House of Black, whether they were of the main lineage or not, had a Black family name used in addition to their given one to make sure there could be no connections by simply looking at the family tree, which was easily accessible knowledge.
A clever trick, thought out by Apodis Black, to go along with the magic on the family tree.
Besides name and birth/death dates, the tree had been imbued with blood magic to show each family member's current location, health status, and any important achievements or bits of information the head, lord, or heir of the house needed to know about that Member.
Arcturus skimmed past the things he already knew, including Sirius's weak state of health and heavily warded location, all the way down to his 'achievements', for lack of a better word.
Ordered by Bartemius Crouch to be imprisoned for a life-long sentence without a trial in the Prison Fortress of Azkaban on November 1st, 1981, in the High Security Block in solitary confinement for the alleged murder of twelve Muggles and Peter Pettigrew; the crime of which was framed by Peter Pettigrew. Sirius was able to escape after twelve years of solitary confinement and has not been apprehended. (See "Heir Sirius Orion Black III of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black: Murderer or Martyr? A Full Biography" for details.)
That was all Arcturus needed to know. Standing up, he strode angrily out of the room, determination flashing in his stormy eyes.
Yes, he had made many mistakes in the past twenty-five years. No, this wouldn't even begin to cover the multitude of debts he owed his grandson. No, this really wouldn't make a dent in the whole scheme of things he had done. He couldn't ever fix his family completely, or bring them back.
But he could sure as hell avenge them.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or JKR's works.