Harry managed to make it several streets from the Dursleys before he collapsed on a low wall in Magnolia Crescent, letting his increasingly weighted trunk fall to the ground as he panted.
Now that the original anger was fading away, he couldn't stop a faint panic from settling in as he knew he was in real trouble now. He had blown up his aunt; accidentally of course, but he had still blown her up and was surely to be expelled now.
And not only that; he would have no place to go even if he could somehow manage to talk Professor Dumbledore into allowing him to stay at school.
He had no idea exactly where Ron or Hermione lived; and even if he had, neither of the two would be home right now as Ron was in Egypt and Hermione in France.
He wasn't quite sure how long he sat there at the low wall; trying to tame his turmoil thoughts and rising panic when he heard a sound behind him; swirling around with his wand drawn.
But the street was too dark to properly see and, aware he had pretty much already gotten himself into trouble he raised his wand higher. "Lumos."
A huge black dog stood between the pebble-dashed walls of number two and the garage, glistering eyes narrowing as Harry's light shone over him and Harry could see the dog's fur was matted; the creature thinner than could be considered healthy from all the way there.
As he watched the startled animal; it occurred to him that he should be afraid as it was clearly either abandoned and half starved or just wild; yet a sense of familiarity kept the fear at bay as he stared at him.
It was absurd and there was no way he knew the animal; the Dursleys hated animals and Harry had never really been allowed out on his own outside of going to school and back.
But despite the impossibility of it; he couldn't shake the feeling that he knew this dog, could trust it.
"Here boy," holding out a hand, he tried to beckon the poor animal closer and as it slowly, cautiously approached, a powerful feeling of wrongness washed over Harry.
But he immediately knew it was not caused by the dog itself; though the mere sight of it caused his heart to clench as he instinctively knew this animal should look magnificent and strong.
It was the shape that brought forth that sense of wrongness; like someone else should be there instead.
Remembering McGonagall's lecture about Animagi, he just knew that was the case now and the animal was not what he appeared to be.
The slowly approaching animal blurred as Harry's mind provided him with the vague features of a man and although he couldn't make out the face properly; he knew he had loved that man as affection rushed through him at the faint memory of him.
His heart hammering; Harry was torn between running from whatever magic was at play here and curiosity at finding out who the animal really was when the dog looked up; grey eyes met Harry's green ones and it suddenly clicked.
The wanted criminal on the television a week earlier had seemed familiar to Harry; although he had brushed the feeling off at the time.
Now though, he could immediately place him as memories he hadn't known he possessed rushed through him; leaving him disorientated and fighting to breathe properly.
"Siri..." he became aware of cold hands carefully guiding him down onto his trunk.
"Breathe..." a faintly familiar, yet strangely cracked voice instructed him softly as those same cold hands softly rubbed his back, counting and while it was an odd thing to do Harry found that if he focused on it he could breathe a little easier. "That's it, in and out."
"Siri," Harry fisted his fingers into the fabric of the robe the man wore, not caring that the material was filthy and damp as his mind told him to not let go, to never let go again.
"Shhh, I'm here, please don't cry," it was only then that Harry realised he was indeed crying, sobbing helplessly into the man's shoulder as thin arms had wrapped around him in an embrace that should feel awkward but instead felt utterly comforting.
Harry was not sure how long they sat there like that, but eventually Sirius pulled back; giving Harry a peek at wet and haunted grey eyes as the man glanced the way Harry had come from some time ago.
"...need to go."
"No!" Harry launched himself at the man, his godfather as his mind provided him with, as Sirius made to rise, the previously overwhelming urge to hold onto him now screaming in terrified protest.
"The Ministry is at your house; I cannot be caught."
"Take me with you," Harry pleaded as he tightened his hold on the man's filthy robes, uncaring as they ripped a little. "Please, don't leave me again."
"Pup, we need to go," it was only then that Harry realised that the man was holding onto him just as tightly and hadn't had any intention of leaving without him. "I will not leave you, never again."
A faint and shaky smile crossed the tight expression as Harry's grip loosened a little to let him know he'd heard him properly this time and helped him to his feet. "Tiffy."
Immediately a small and very old looking house-elf appeared, dressed in a black dress embodied with the letter P and looking oddly solemn.
"Siri! Little Harry!" The small elf squeaked at seeing them, her ears shooting up in clear happiness as she clearly recognised them.
"Take us to the Manor, please. We're not safe here," Sirius' arm came around Harry again, pulling him closer against him and Harry tightened his own hold as his stomach lurched at something the small elf did.
But as soon as the horrible feeling had come, it had gone again and he blinked surprised to see they were standing before a beautiful brown building.
"We are at Potter Manor. The house of your ancestors and where your father grew up," Sirius softly answered. "We will be safe here, hello Tiffy."
"Siri," to Harry's uttermost surprise, big tears dripped down from the little elf's large blue eyes as she shuffled forward to fall into his arms as Sirius knelt down, holding her with the same gentleness as he'd held Harry as she sobbed for a long moment before pulling back.
"Why did Siri not let Tiffy come get him sooner?"
"I had not expected to come here," Sirius admitted as he rose to his feet again as Harry held out a hand, eyes hungrily taking Harry in properly now that they were standing in the light coming from the house.
"Why not? If it's safe here, then why wouldn't you have hidden here before?" Harry asked as he took in the man's grubby features and frighteningly thin shape at the same time.
"I didn't escape for me, but I will tell you inside as it's a fairly long and complicated story."
"All right," for all intents and purposes, Harry knew he shouldn't trust the man, even if he had known him once. But trusting Sirius was as natural and automatic as breathing to him and he instinctively knew the man would never let any harm come to him, so he followed him as Tiffy began to lead them to the house.
"After a shower, though. Tiffy not liking how not so little Harry looks and Siri's much, much worse."
"Don't sugar-coat it to spare our feelings," Harry muttered before he could stop himself but before he could apologise both the little elf and Sirius gave a quiet huff of a laugh, making him blush.
"As you will soon learn, Tiffy is a bit of a mother hen and refreshingly honest. She has been taking care of your father and me since I met her in my first year at Hogwarts," Sirius explained as they followed her inside. "And she is quite right, you are sweaty and I don't even want to try and discover what I smell like."
Blinking up to his godfather as he finally noticed just how sweaty he himself was, Harry grimaced. "Yeah, she's got a point."
"Tiffy always has a point," the little elf gleefully told them as she led them inside, Harry noticed he was still holding onto his godfather's hand but since the man didn't seem to mind he didn't pull back and looked around in amazement as the Manor was even more impressive from the inside.
Dark brown floors and walls as blue as the sky on a sunny day gave of the feeling of warmth, despite the eerie silence that felt somehow wrong; this house was meant to be filled with laughter.
"You used to come here often as a small child, visiting your grandparents and playing with the house-elves," Sirius' quiet words made him realise he'd spoken out loud and he nodded as ghostly echoes of laughter filled his ears but as Sirius didn't respond Harry knew it was in his mind.
He was surprised as Sirius passed by the living room, having expected him to stop there, but the man jerked away from it like it was toxic and suddenly the joyful laughter gave way for cruel and sinister laughter as Harry focused on his godfather's reaction.
Faint screaming twisted Harry's stomach with unease and he automatically drew neared to Sirius as that feeling of holding on intensified once more and a desire to make sure the man was all right flared to life.
Flashes of a pale and sickly looking Sirius alerted him to a memory that Sirius had been hurt here and once more wasn't aware he had spoken out loud until he almost walked into the man as he abruptly stopped to give him a tight but confused look.
"I thought you had been too young to remember that. Perhaps coming here was a bad idea," Sirius' voice broke hallway through his sentence as he clearly wasn't used to speaking much but it was the intensive haunting in his eyes that made Harry swallow thickly.
"No, I...the memories are foggy at best. I mostly remember sounds. I was here when you were hurt?"
"I had hidden you in a secret room down the hallway upon arrival as I couldn't be sure everything was safe. A good thing I did, too, as it turned out Death Eaters had infiltrated the house and ambushed me when I entered the living room."
"What are Death Eaters?"
"Supporters of Riddle; his inner circle called themselves Death Eaters."
"Right, why did we come here in the first place?" Harry looked up to Sirius as the man took a deep breath.
"Part of that much longer story I promised you, but it comes down to it that they attacked my house while I was babysitting you and we came here to escape," the man looked tense as they continued walking and Harry was only too happy to leave the living room behind.
"Do the memories bother you?"
"I've been living in their constant presence for the last twelve years," Sirius softly answered.
"Doesn't mean they don't bother you now," Harry flushed as Sirius surprisingly gave him a half smile.
"Your father used to say the same thing."
"All the time. I don't know how much you remember about your parents as you clearly didn't grow up where I wanted you to ..."
"You didn't want me at the Dursleys?" Harry interrupted hopefully, if the man hadn't wanted him there in the first place, then perhaps he could stay with him?
"I'd not even bestow them on Riddle himself," Harry blinked surprised even as Sirius seemed to reconsider his words as his eyes swept over Harry. "Although...on second thought..."
"Riddle?" Harry's heart hammered in his throat as he realised Sirius knew Voldemort's real name and had actually mentioned it before.
"Tom Riddle; better known by his self proclaimed name, but I cannot use that one."
"Why not? Dumbledore says fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself."
"Yes, convenient that he just always forgets to mention that the name is jinxed and leaves those who use it as easy targets for his followers," Sirius huffed.
"How is it jinxed?" curiously Harry looked at Sirius as they followed Tiffy through another long hallway.
"The Death Eaters cursed the name in the war so that anyone who dared to use it could immediately be tracked, cancelling most common protections in their place of residence. It is what brought so much fear to the name in the first place and soon no one dared to even think it any more, lest they would bring the Death Eaters to their doorsteps by some dark and unknown magic. Instead they began giving him ridiculous nicknames."
"Dumbledore indeed never mentioned that," Harry swallowed thickly. "But you call him Riddle."
"That is his name; he just claimed lordship while he isn't actually a Pure-Blood. Most Death Eaters don't actually know his real name so it was never jinxed."
"I've been calling him by his title for two years now..." Harry suddenly realised worriedly.
"His remaining followers wouldn't dare try anything now, but before he is truly dead, I would rather not risk it."
"How do you know he is not?" Thinking back on how Hagrid had believed the same thing and what Harry had seen the previous two years; he wondered why Sirius thought so.
"I have my suspicions," Sirius' eyes found the scar on Harry's forehead but where it normally bothered him to have people staring at it, he found that he didn't mind so much when Sirius did as he instinctively knew the man didn't just see the fame.
"Suspicions have to wait until after shower," Tiffy cut them off, lightly tugging on Sirius' other hand as she pointed to a door not too far away.
"Well, you heard the lady," the little half smile once more thrown his way was a far cry from the broad ones Harry half remembered, but nonetheless was the sight of it more than he could've hoped for.
He didn't know much about Azkaban, but as that was the only Wizarding prison he knew of, he figured Sirius had to have been held there, probably even all twelve years he had mentioned before.
He remembered how shaken Hagrid had been after mere weeks there, unable to smile during the last few weeks of term and utterly terrified of every shadow in case it turned out to be a Dementor.
If that was the result of a few weeks, Harry wasn't sure how Sirius managed to even function as well as he was doing now, but he shook that thought off as Sirius moved forward, stopping before a brown door and turning to him hesitantly.
"This one was your father's, would you like to freshen up in there or take a guest room?"
"I..." on one hand, Harry would love to see more of his father and what he had liked and how he had lived; but on the other hand it almost felt too personal right now.
"Or, if you would prefer; I could show it to you later, tell you some stories behind his stuff after we've discussed things," Sirius seemed to sense his internal debate and Harry found himself nodding relieved.
"What was your room?" Harry asked as he saw more doors further down the hallway and the familiarity with the house told him his godfather had stayed here quite frequently.
"The blue door at the left," Sirius said. "Same offer, although I wasn't quite the hoarder your father was."
"I'd like to see it later," Harry smiled and without discussing it further, Sirius led them to two opposite doors further down the hall and Tiffy disappeared through the left one.
"If you'd prefer, you could make your way to the kitchen once you are done. I am fairly sure Tiffy won't let me leave until I've been scrubbed utterly clean and she is satisfied with how I look."
Sudden panic at the mere mentioning of separating so far from his godfather gripped at him and Harry's hand tightened on Sirius' without him meaning to.
"Or you could get cleaned up and then come into the bedroom and wait there?" Sirius seemed to read his distress perfectly and squeezed his hand in reassurance.
"Y-you wouldn't mind?" Harry shifted uncomfortable.
"Not if it makes you feel better and although I will close the bathroom door, I have to admit that the thought of you being close puts me at ease," the man didn't seem to share his discomfort as he smiled and Harry nodded.
"I'll see you soon then," even so, it still took Harry a moment before he was able to let go of Sirius' hand and made an effort to disappear into the opposite bedroom before Sirius turned to not seem utterly like a small child.
The distance immediately pulled at him, but he took comfort in the knowledge that his godfather was right next door, and wasn't that something, mere hours ago he would not have imagined there was anyone in the world who cared about him the way a parent would.
Yet since the moment he had recognised Sirius, the man had been trying to comfort him and was clearly intent to look after him and although he was mortified by how clingy he had suddenly become, he was also simply grateful that Sirius didn't seem irritated by his behaviour at all.
The man was behaving like Harry had always imagined his parents would if he had still had them and while it made sense as he clearly remembered a warm male voice telling him Sirius was his godfather, it still warmed his heart to experience for himself.
While also slightly terrifying him as they hardly knew each other, yet Harry couldn't help but feel comfortable and safe in the man's presence and although he had no doubt the man could be utterly dangerous, he just knew it would never be directed at him.
Pushing himself away from the closed door, he looked around the simple but beautifully designed room and thought it was quite worthy of kings.
Noticing a few personalised knick-knacks around the room, he wondered who it had belonged to and picked up a photo lying on the night-stand, immediately recognising his father and the Sirius from his memories, though he was not quite sure who the other two boys were.
Returning it to the night-stand, he made his way to the bathroom to take as long as he could to get cleaned up before returning to the bedroom in a bathrobe to find his trunk had been placed at the end of the bed, a clean set of Muggle clothing he didn't recognise laid out for him.
Quickly dressing into the amazingly well fitting clothes, he hesitated for only a moment before picking up the photo and sliding it into his pocket before making his way to the other bedroom.
Sirius had left the door open as a clear invitation to enter so he did and where he could no longer hear the shower, he could hear the unmistakable sound of scissors.
He briefly wondered if Sirius would cut the tangled mess it had been as short as he had it in the photo Harry had in his pocket but before he could truly consider it, the man himself appeared to confirm it.
He was dressed similar to Harry, only long sleeved and the clothes were even bigger than Harry's hand me downs had ever been on the man's too thin frame; highlighting just how thin he truly was but otherwise the man Harry remembered.
"Were you approved of?"
"Barely; I'm quite positive Tiffy will have several potions awaiting us in the kitchen."
"Us? What do I need potions for?" Harry protested.
"Aside from the fact that you are underweight and much too small for your linage and age?" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "Want me to sum the exact reasons up?"
And darn if Harry didn't feel a flush rise as the man's unyielding gaze travelled over him much like Madam Pomfrey's always did and he wondered if Sirius had been a doctor of some kind when Harry had been young.
"I was training to be a Healer; though I never got my licence," Sirius' answer told him he once more had been thinking out loud.
"Why didn't you get your licence?" Harry asked as they made their way to the kitchen.
"The war was at its height and that put a stop to any of my extra studies as I wanted to fight."
"That is how my parents were killed, isn't it? Because they fought in the war?" Harry asked.
"Sort of. It is part of the same complicated story I am about to tell you."
"Oh," allowing Sirius to gesture him to a chair at the table, a different elf than Tiffy, but one even older and wearing a purple dress with the same P on it that Tiffy had worn, placed two cups of hot chocolate and a plate with biscuits, coated with a thin layer of jam before them.
"Thank you, Misty," Sirius accepted the potions she handed to him, taking them without complaint so when Misty handed Harry two as well, he took them, too.
"Siri and Master Harry eat up well," the old house-elf patted both of their cheeks with clear affection, lingering for a long moment on Sirius' before disappearing again.
"How many house-elves are here?" Harry laughed as Sirius pulled a face after he took a particularly nasty looking potion.
"There used to be about a dozen, but Tiffy told me only she, Misty and Pippy are left. They are all quite aged by now, though you still wouldn't want to get on their bad sides."
"I've met a house-elf before, but he was nothing like this; he was all nervous and twitchy. Miserable seemed to be his default setting," Harry thought of Dobby and suddenly found himself wondering how the weird little elf was doing.
"Well, it depends on their families, but you will find that quite a few of them are like that, usually those who belong to unhappy families," Sirius took a sip from his hot chocolate and some of the intensive pain in his eyes loosened as the hot liquid disappeared, surprising Harry even as the man himself didn't seem to notice any difference. "Many treat them like dirt, abusing them or neglecting their own personal needs just because a house-elf enjoys serving."
"I noticed. Dobby's free now though; I kind of tricked his master into freeing him at the end of term," Harry admitted.
"How did you meet him?" Sirius asked interested. "Because if he was miserable then it usually means his masters wouldn't want him to be visible."
"Ah, it's kind of a long story but Dobby tried to save my life when he learned of danger at school last year. He just had a really rubbish way of going at it, but he has his heart in the right place."
"Did he find another family?"
"I'm actually not sure," Harry admitted, suddenly feeling horrible. "I just hope that he's happy."
"If you want, we could ask one of the elves to seek him out to see if he is and if not, we could always ask him to come work for us."
"You'd just take on a strange house-elf, just because I am worried for him?" Surprised Harry peered at his godfather, but the man didn't seem to find that strange at all.
"You obviously care about him and you did say that he tried to save your life so that is good enough in my book. What do you say? Want to check on him?"
Looking into his godfather's eyes, Harry found himself nodding before he'd even thought about it.
The house-elf Harry hadn't met yet appeared at their side immediately; one clearly much younger than Tiffy and Misty were and wearing a sort of light blue toga embroidered with the same emblem Tiffy and Misty wore; large blue eyes shining in happiness as she launched herself at him in a hug before beaming up to him. "Siri called?"
"It is nice to see you, too, Pippy. Would you mind checking in on another house-elf?" Sirius laughed at the enthusiastic greeting and the little elf immediately beamed even more.
"Which elf, Siri?"
"His name is Dobby and Harry is worried about his well-being."
"He used to belong to the Malfoys but was freed a few weeks ago," Harry explained, hesitating on how to describe the weird elf without coming across as offensive. "He's about three feet tall and has big tennis ball-like green eyes...erm...why are you laughing at me?"
"No reason, think you can find him with that description, Pip?" A spark of mischievousness appeared in Sirius' eyes, lifting some of the heaviness in the grey orbs and giving him a glimpse at the man he had once been.
"Siri teasing Master Harry," Pippy shook her head fondly and turned to Harry. "No worries Master Harry, all the house-elves know each other. Pippy will have found Dobby in no time at all!"
"Oh, eh...thank you, but why do you call me Master?"
"Pippy belongs to the House of Potter; Master Harry is future Lord Potter when he comes of age."
"I had no idea," Harry admitted. "Is that why you don't call Sirius master?"
"Oh no. Siri is a Potter as well, but Siri made it very clear we are never to calls him master on pain of tickle attacks," bright blue eyes widened in conspiracy as she leaned closer to him to semi-whisper at him in a voice that Sirius would still have no trouble hearing. "Siri very mean and evil tickler."
"I bet," Harry laughed at the little elf's obvious delight at that supposed punishment and Sirius tried to hide a grin by taking another sip from his drink. "But please just call me by my name as well; the master thing makes me uncomfortable."
"Pippy shall tell Misty and Tiffy," the little elf promised.
"Once you've found Dobby and found he is not happy or you feel for whatever reason that you should take him back with you, please do so. Just make sure he knows Harry's asking about him so he won't be scared," Sirius said.
"Pippy will," without another word the small elf disappeared with a small pop and Sirius turned to him.
"Now that that is handled, want me to tell you the full story I've promised you?"
Taking a deep breath, Harry nodded.
The full story was beyond anything Harry could have ever imagined and spoke of beautiful friendships that were horribly torn apart from the inside.
It spoke of the war and he had to fight to keep his anger at the Ministry and Pettigrew for their respective roles in all that had happened to both his parents and godfather respectively under control.
Sirius had quite forcefully told him that none of it was his fault, the expression on his face enough to make Harry want to believe him even if he still felt responsible.
Voldemort had come after them because of a Prophecy; forcing his parents to go into hiding and in turn had caused their deaths because one of their closest friends had betrayed their trust.
He stared down at the photo he'd taken from what turned out to have been Remus' appointed bedroom whenever he'd stayed over; anger once more rising as he looked down at Pettigrew's laughing face.
That traitor was responsible for his parents' deaths and for ultimately taking Sirius away from him and all Harry wanted was for the rat to pay for what he had done and vowed to help his godfather where he could to make that happen.
The man across of him obviously felt responsible himself for what had happened since he said he had been the one to suggest using Pettigrew as the Secret-Keeper; but Harry knew it wasn't his fault as he couldn't possibly have known.
He also tried to tell him it wasn't his fault they'd been separated; even if Sirius claimed he'd let Hagrid take Harry away without much of a fight and Sirius had gone after Pettigrew instead. His own memories reminding him how his godfather had attempted to take Harry from Hagrid; but had given in when the half-giant had become forceful and in danger of hurting him in the process.
The longer he spoke with his godfather; the more memories Harry had never known he had in the first place made themselves known and he welcomed them gratefully.
Although many of them were a little foggy or fractured, even vaguely remembering his parents was more than he had ever had before and although it should probably alarm him a little with how much clearer his memories of Sirius were compared to all the others; he knew it was most likely because the man was sitting right across of him.
He tried to tell Sirius that he couldn't have known how things had played out; but it was clear the man still felt guilty and responsible for what had happened.
"Why did you escape now? This all happened twelve years ago..." Harry trailed off as Sirius pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket; the folded paper crumpled and damaged in places from repeatedly being unfolded, and he immediately recognised it as the Weasley photo from the Prophet Ron had sent him several days ago.
"What...the rat...that's Pettigrew?" Harry's heart clenched as Sirius's finger pointed at Scabbers. "Are you sure?"
"He is missing his index toe, which is all that was supposedly found of the traitor after I blew him up. But even so, I would recognise him anywhere as I've seen him transform hundreds of times."
Harry was quite sure that wasn't the only reason he was so sure as the man all but glared at the mere image of the traitor and had to have cursed every memory he had of him, but didn't call his godfather on it as he nodded. "So you escaped because you saw him?"
"Because I knew he would be near you as the article mentioned those kids go to Hogwarts, where you would be."
And that explained why Sirius had escaped as Harry had quickly learned that to Sirius, he was the most important thing and the man would probably happily skip through fire if he thought it would keep Harry safe.
"I still need to figure out how to get my hands on him, though."
"I can help you with that," Harry stared down at the picture of Pettigrew before switching his gaze to the rat in the other picture. "The boy who's shoulder he is sitting on is my best friend. He asked me to meet him in Diagon Alley on the thirty-first of August so we can take the train together the next day."
Sirius stared at him speechless for so long that Harry wasn't quite sure if he should laugh or feel sad as the man clearly hadn't taken into account that Harry might know the boys in the picture from school.
"If I can grab Scabbers, I could expose him in public."
"Depends on where it is and the situation. If the wrong person recognises him the moment he is exposed; it could all be for nothing," Sirius' words made sense and Harry frowned.
"So he would need to be exposed somewhere safe but still public enough that no one can deny his existence."
"Gringotts would be a good place; it is always crowded there and the Goblins would immediately take action."
"Will they be willing to help? Because I've never really gotten the greatest impression of them from Binn's lessons," Harry admitted.
"You should ignore anything Binn teaches you; he is very wrong about them. Goblins are proud and very distrustful of wizard-kind; but they have reason to be and they would never stand for injustice to happen at their doorstep. And if you are lucky, there might be some present whom recognise him as they are very good at remembering faces."
"And once Pettigrew is exposed, you will be free," Harry looked down at the hand Sirius had placed over his own in comfort and squeezed it.
"That would be the plan," Sirius looked down at the photo on the table and Harry wondered what was going through the man's mind as he looked at the four laughing boys.
"What happened to Remus after the war?" Harry asked.
"I don't know. I assume he will have been forced to return to the Muggle world for the most part as it's quite difficult to find a job here as a werewolf."
"But didn't you see him when he tried to get you free?" Looking up when Sirius didn't answer, Harry felt his heart stop at the pain and sadness in his godfather's eyes, immediately knowing the man hadn't and a spark of anger flashed through him. "He should have."
"I don't think it would've been much use to try and that is assuming he believed in my innocence in the first place."
"Why wouldn't he? He knew you better than almost anyone, why would he not believe in your innocence?"
"It were dark times and you didn't really know who you could trust," Sirius admitted.
"But you trusted him," Harry didn't doubt that and Sirius gave a wry little laugh.
"I also trusted Peter," which was a fair point, Harry had to admit.
"Do you think Remus might have been a Death Eater as well? Or a supporter of Vo-Riddle?"
"No," the absolute certainty in Sirius' tone stabbed Harry in the gut as he knew that same certainty might not have been shared by the other man if he never tried to get Sirius free. The little spark of anger ten-folded at the knowledge, but he pushed it down as now was not the time to deal with that.
"Dad would have," Harry said hopeful, needing to believe his father wouldn't have left his best friend to rot in Azkaban.
"He would have come bursting into Azkaban itself," Sirius confirmed with a private little smile. "I don't know how well you remember him or your mother?"
"Not much. Before today I would have said I didn't remember anything at all; but when I saw the dog...Padfoot, I knew I knew him."
"Yeah, I really hadn't expected that," Sirius smiled faintly.
"What were you doing there if you hadn't come for me?" A pang of sadness washed over Harry at learning his godfather hadn't come specifically for him.
"I hadn't meant for you to see me and I certainly didn't expect you would recognise me, though I am really glad you did. I just...I wanted to see you, even if it was just for a moment before I began on my journey north," Sirius' soft admittance changed the sadness in Harry's heart into something he wasn't quite sure how to define, but he suddenly felt a lot warmer than before as the feeling spread through him.
"I'm glad you let me see you," Harry whispered, the hold on his hand tightening as Sirius squeezed it in response.
"Me too," Sirius swallowed thickly, reaching forward to brush a hand over Harry's cheek with suspiciously bright eyes. "And thank you."
"Believing me. I know how absurd a story it is that I've been telling you and you haven't had a single obligation to believe me or even come with me in the first place."
"Yeah well, you've got rather expressive eyes that convinced me."
"So you say, not quite sure how on earth you recognised me so easily, though. There must be hundreds of black dogs around."
"I don't know, I just did. Well, I knew I knew him," Harry repeated, forcing himself to continue before he would chicken out. "But it wasn't until I looked into your eyes that I truly recognised him, recognised you and remembered you as my godfather. That I remembered how much I loved you and that I never wanted to let you leave again."
"I love you too, pup. Though I am still amazed as you were only fifteen months old when everything went to hell and really shouldn't have been old enough to recognise me that easily after so long."
"Clearly you made a very deep impression on me," Harry suddenly realised that was exactly what the warmth he could feel blossoming through his chest was; love, and he couldn't help but grin happily at seeing that same emotion displayed openly in Sirius, the man not remotely ashamed of it.
"I hope it's a good one," Sirius teased, making Harry laugh before he sobered.
"Growing up, all I sometimes remembered were a flying motorbike and a high-pitched laugh that scared me. After I got my letter and Hagrid told me the truth about my parents, I remembered a green flash of light. But I've never actually remembered my parents."
"I'm sorry," Sirius sounded pained and Harry immediately regretted his choice of words.
"Don't be, I kind of remember them now. They are rather vague and it is not much, but I can remember what they sounded like and what they looked like from memory. And what happened was not your fault; you were just trying to protect us. I remember that is how you got hurt here; or at least, Dad told me you were hurt so I had to be careful."
"I'd have rather died than hurt any of you."
"I know," Harry squeezed his hand, a flash of that same motorbike he'd dreamed about for years coming to him, but now accompanied by a younger Sirius. "The motorbike was yours, wasn't it?"
"Yes, I gave it to Hagrid that night as a safe transport for you after he refused to hand you over. You remember it?"
"A little, something about ice cream?" Harry tried to recall the memory more clearly, but couldn't make more of it.
"I'd take you out for ice cream whenever you couldn't sleep; we'd share one," Sirius laughed; it brightened his thin face immensely.
"We will have to get it back after you are free," Harry swallowed nervously. "I mean..."
"We sounds great. You are never returning to that house if I can help it," Sirius said.
"You mentioned that before. Where did you intent for me to go if something happened?"
"To Remus and Minerva McGonagall."
"Because she'd raise you properly and make sure you'd grow up knowing your place but free to make your own choices. And she'd be able to tell you all about your parents as you grew up."
"Right. And Remus, I don't remember him at all," Harry admitted as he looked down to the photo again; focusing on the boy with brown hair and green eyes to try and recall a memory, but none came.
"You didn't see him very often as he was often on missions for Dumbledore."
"Dumbledore said there was a reason I was placed with the Dursleys, but that I was too young to know yet," Harry bitterly said.
"Never got that whole keeping people in the dark thing, especially when it comes to teenagers as they usually balk at being told what to do without an explanation. It usually means they go do exactly that which you are trying to keep them from doing."
"Most adults don't think that way," Harry chuckled.
"I'm not most adults, pup."
The automatic endearment Harry remembered from when he was young filled him with warmth all over again and he smiled broadly.
"Lucky for me. But can you just remove me from the Dursleys? Dumbledore..."
"Dumbledore has absolutely no say in where you live; he is the headmaster of a school, not your legal guardian, I am. I was never convicted or put on trial for anything so I was never stripped of my guardianship. I would never have trusted him with your safety."
It was both strange and refreshing to hear someone disagree with Dumbledore's word, but he couldn't help but detect the resentment in Sirius' voice.
"Why don't you trust him?"
"I can't really explain," Sirius admitted. "Things that happened in the war that made no sense. Missions he sent us on that were entirely useless while we could have been doing so much more important things. Dumbledore has the annoying habit of keeping all the cards close to him and only tell you what he thinks you need to know and it's caused more than a few people to end up in danger or got them killed. I..."
"What?" Sensing Sirius' hesitation, Harry tried to urge him on as he could see the truth in his words as he'd noticed the same thing happening at times.
"He didn't enforce a trial."
"Could he have?" Harry asked surprised.
"Yes, he is the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot; the wizarding's version of the justice system," Sirius said.
"So he would have had the power to provide you with a trial, but didn't? Could it have been a misunderstanding and he just wasn't aware?"
"No, the Chief Warlock presides over each trial that takes place; no exceptions. He couldn't have missed that I didn't receive a trial as even the most clean-cut cases received one."
"Yet you didn't," and Harry would be lying if that didn't sting, knowing that if his godfather had received a trial, he never would have been thrown into Azkaban and Dumbledore had been aware.
"Exactly, why did Dumbledore not ensure I got a trial even if he thought I was guilty? So many things just don't add up."
It really didn't and Harry found himself wondering about Dumbledore's reasoning when Sirius straightened again. "But never mind that for now, the most important thing is that he hasn't got any say in your whereabouts or your activities outside of the school year."
"I'd like to live with you," Harry admitted.
"I would like that very much as well," Sirius smiled before his eyes travelled to the scar and his thoughts darkened. "But let's take care of that thing first. Tiffy, can you sense what that is?"
Harry startled as the old house-elf came forward, having quietly appeared in the kitchen without him noticing.
"Tiffy can," large blue eyes focused on Harry's forehead and he shifted uncomfortable under the intensive stare.
"Is it a Horcrux?"
"Would you be able to remove it safely?"
Confused Harry looked between the two; not sure what they were talking about but sensing he shouldn't ask yet.
"Tiffy believes so."
"Believing is not good enough when it comes to his safety."
"Tiffy knows, Siri," she rolled her large eyes affectionately but full of certainty and Sirius nodded. "Where does Siri wants it?"
"Do you have an empty jar?"
Without another word the little elf moved away and Sirius turned to Harry. "All right, do you want an explanation that might make you freak out now; or after I'm done?"
"Uh...how sure are you that I will freak out?" Harry asked nervously as he eyed his godfather's serious expression.
"About ninety-seven percent sure," Sirius shot him an apologetic smile as Tiffy returned and placed a jar on the table. "Normally I'd say a hundred percent, but you're tougher than most."
"Would you panic?"
"Utterly and completely, I'd not want to know until afterwards."
"Tell me afterwards," Harry swallowed, wondering what could be so horrible, though also quite happy his godfather was giving him a choice to have the knowledge regardless.
Nodding, Sirius turned to Tiffy. "Go ahead."
Harry waited uncomfortable as blue eyes turned to him once more before the small pressure he'd always come accustomed to disappeared from his forehead.
"How are you feeling?" Sirius was immediately before him, eyes roaming over his face worriedly.
"Fine, better than fine actually," Harry blinked surprised. "How did you know the scar bothered me?"
"I didn't," Sirius admitted, turning to Tiffy. "Thank you, Tiffy."
"Siri...Tiffy can sense there's more of them," she sounded urgent.
"What? How many more?"
"Four," the little elf looked nervous for the first time as she stared up to Sirius and Harry was surprised as the man blanched, his pale complexion looking even worse.
"Can you locate them?"
The house-elf gave him an amused look and Sirius wet his lips as some colour returned to his face as a small smile broke through at the gaze.
"Of course you can, sorry. If you can safely get your hands on them, then please do so. Do not put yourself in danger, that's an order."
"Yes, Siri," she disappeared with a small pop and Harry turned to Sirius.
"What was that all about?"
"Dark magic," Sirius indicated to the previously empty jar; which now held a swirling black cloud that seemed to float. "A very long time ago, a very dark wizard invented a way to remove a piece of his soul and store it in an object."
"To try and secure immortality as while the piece was kept safe, the wizard could not actually be killed," Sirius looked at him. "His body could be destroyed; but his soul would be bound to earth and live on, capable of finding a new host elsewhere and with the right magic, even return to a body once more."
"Like a ghost," Harry whispered, suddenly remembering what he had seen of Voldemort in his first year; something that look like a ghost yet wasn't. "Vo-Riddle made one of those, didn't he?"
"What makes you think that?"
Harry told him about his encounter with Quirrell and Voldemort, having to backtrack to the beginning as his godfather asked why he'd gone after the stone in the first place.
He told him about the accidental discovery of Fluffy and Hermione's realisation of the hatch; of their suspicion about Snape and wasn't that a surprise, not only had Sirius known the git, he could also tell Harry exactly why the slimy Potions teacher hated his guts so much.
"So Pettigrew, disguised as you, told the git where to find Remus during his transformations and let you take the fall? Letting absolutely everyone believe you were to blame?" Harry asked with clenched teeth.
"I don't think he meant to harm any of us back then; but we had to keep the truth a secret, even from Remus."
"But why? You said he remembers his actions while he is the wolf; wouldn't he know he transformed without a moon and almost tore you apart?"
"No, either the shock from the sudden violent transformation or Padfoot bashing his head against the wall blacked the entire event from his mind. We told him and everyone else the same story; someone tried to assassinate me and the bridge we were standing on collapsed, leaving me hurt and Remus with a severe head injury and no memory of what had happened."
"While in reality Moony went berserk and Dad and the rat tried to create a diversion by Polyjuicing into the two of you. Why didn't Dad stop him?"
"Because he tried to Polyjuice into Remus and apparently you cannot do so with a werewolf," Sirius gave him a faint smile. "I can show you the memory of what your dad looked like as he actually showed me so we could study the results."
"I'd like that, I bet it was quite the furry sight," Harry tried to stop a snort from coming out as the mental image of a cat-like Hermione came to mind, which led him to having to explain it to his godfather as the man gave him a curious look.
It wasn't until Harry told him about the Chamber of Secrets that Sirius' expression darkened. "Why would you want to go there? That chamber is best to remain lost."
"You know of it?" Harry asked surprised as he had believed no one had entered it aside from him and his friends since Riddle's time.
"We discovered it in our sixth year, among some other things," the tightening of Sirius' expression gave Harry the feeling that he had met the Basilisk.
"How did you discover the entrance? I thought only a Parselmouth could open it?"
"And how would you know how to open it?" Sirius asked sharply, so mustering up all of his courage, Harry confessed the rest of the story; how he had heard talking in the walls, how students had been petrified and how eventually Ginny had been taken so Harry and Ron had gone after her as he had realised that Myrtle might know where the entrance was.
Throughout the story, Sirius remained remarkably calm about the entire thing, just as he had while Harry had told him about the stone; and slightly confused Harry looked up to him once he was done with his story.
"Why aren't you getting mad?"
"It happened and there is no use getting mad at you for trying to save lives when I would have done the exact same thing. I am not that much of a hypocrite even if I hope you'll be much more careful from now on," Sirius rubbed his forehead. "But I do want every single one of those memories of yours. From Fluffy and Hagrid's dragon, the Acromantula, your first encounter with Riddle and your experience in the chamber."
"Sure, but why?"
"So I can make sure Dumbledore will never, ever set foot into that castle ever again. Hogwarts is a school; alas one a bit more dangerous than most, but still a school and not a hiding place for dangerous items or to keep dangerous animals."
Sirius took a deep breath. "You and your friends proved that any first year could have stumbled upon that dog and have been killed without any proper warning; and that cryptic message does not count. Telling a teenager something like that will especially spark their curiosity and lead them into danger. A groundkeeper should know better what is and is not proper at a school."
"He doesn't necessarily see some animals to be as dangerous as they are," Harry tried to defend Hagrid; though logically he knew Sirius was right and Hagrid had a tendency to keep them too close to a school.
"No, he doesn't. And if he kept them far away from a school full of inexperienced students, I'd not care in the slightest; but despite having been warned repeatedly, Hagrid keeps on bringing dangerous animals in. Did you know students were almost killed in my fourth year when they ran into a flock of illegally breed animals Hagrid had hidden in the dungeons without warning anyone? Seventeen students had to be brought to St Mungo's for an extended period of time but by all means should've been killed, your mother being one of them."
"I didn't," Harry admitted, horrified.
"I realise that you get along with him well, but his actions have endangered your life several times. Sending you to the Acromantulas," Sirius spat out. "Although that one is on Dumbledore as well. The board ordered him to relocate those back when I was a student already, as they were always expanding their nest and students had detentions in the Forbidden Forest."
As Harry listened to Sirius rant; he couldn't help but admit the man was right and as much as he liked Hagrid, the man didn't take their safety into account at all.
"And the Basilisk; the moment Nearly Headless Nick was petrified, he should have known what he was dealing with. Especially as we told him what dwelled in the chamber."
"He knew?!" Harry sat down shocked.
"We told him about it after discovering the chamber," Sirius nodded.
"How did you discover the entrance again?" Harry swallowed.
"The same way you did, though it never occurred to me to ask Myrtle," Sirius admitted. "That girl gave me the creeps so we usually tried to avoid her at all costs."
"She is rather creepy," Harry admitted. "But I opened the entrance with Parseltongue...you...you're a Parselmouth, too?"
"Who did you think you inherited it from?" Sirius frowned at him.
"Dumbledore said I was a Parselmouth because Vo-Riddle was one."
"So he knew," suddenly Sirius' eyes flashed in anger. "He knew there was a Horcrux in your scar but did nothing about it!"
"A...you're saying I'm a Horcrux?!" Suddenly Harry's eyes found the jar again and horrified he stared at it. "You...that's what you removed...a...a..."
"Keep breathing," all of a sudden Sirius was before him, a bucket placed before Harry as he rubbed his back but it still took Harry several minutes before he managed to compose himself enough to push the unused bucket away and take even breaths.
"I guess you were right about me freaking out," he weakly attempted to sound cheerful, but Sirius just squeezed his shoulder in comfort, clearly not buying it.
"I suspect there are very few people who wouldn't," grateful his godfather kept a strong grip on his shoulder; Harry leaned forward to rest his forehead against Sirius' chest and took a deep breath.
"I'm glad I decided to have you tell me after you removed it," he shakily brought out. "But why would he turn me into one?"
"To be honest, I don't think he meant to. It is very dangerous and unwise to use a living being as one as they have a mind of their own."
"You can make one accidentally?" Not entirely sure if he really wanted to know, he still found himself looking up to his godfather.
"Normally not, but it can go wrong. From what I learned, you need both a ritual and a spell to make a Horcrux before you murder someone in cold blood. But a hesitation or the right counter-spell can mess the process up."
"Like Mum's sacrifice?" Harry swallowed.
"Could be," Sirius admitted. "But if it makes you feel better, you were a Parselmouth long before that Horcrux settled in your scar."
"About ninety percent sure, could have certainty in a moment if you'd like," a small smile formed on Sirius' lips and Harry found himself blinking up to him.
"How will you do that?"
"I just did," Sirius chuckled. "If you listen carefully, you will be able to hear the hissing behind my words."
And indeed Harry could now that he was truly listening. "But I'm talking normally, aren't I?"
"Because you are not picturing me as a snake," Sirius explained and that made sort of sense as Harry had needed to imagine the snake at the Chamber entrance had been real before he managed to open it as well.
"Did anyone else know you are a Parselmouth? Because Ron said they are extremely rare and everyone shunned me when they found out."
"Aside from our small group of friends, I always kept it a secret."
"Because others would shun you?"
"Oh no, it would have been further proof to them that I was indeed a dark wizard like my ancestors," seeing Harry's confusion, he elaborated. "I was born to the House of Black; one of the darkest and most cruel families still in existence."
"Kind of like the Malfoys?" Harry asked, accepting the glass of water Sirius handed him and taking a sip.
"Much worse. The Malfoys actually married into the Black family due to their power and wealth. I think only the Gaunts, the line Riddle descends from, is darker."
"And you grew up there?"
"Hated the lot of them as they were all filled with bigotry and believed to be better than others just because of their blood. I ran away when I was almost sixteen and never returned."
"You ran here, didn't you?" It fit perfectly with how at home Sirius was in this house, how he had his own room and the house-elves listened to him.
"Yes, your grandparents took me in and adopted me into their family, accepting me as a Potter. I stayed here until I found an apartment of my own upon graduation," Sirius smiled. "Which is also when Tiffy tricked me into taking her on as my house-elf, worried I'd not take good enough care of myself."
"Tricked...you said you met Tiffy in your first year, was she not a Potter house-elf then?"
"No, Tiffy worked at Hogwarts. We befriended her there and we grew extremely fond of one another, so much so that when I graduated she asked Hogwarts to release her into my ownership."
"Hogwarts? Wouldn't Dumbledore have been her master if she worked at Hogwarts?" Harry looked at his godfather curiously.
"Headmasters and teachers change. The house-elves at Hogwarts, and there are plenty of them, all belong to the castle itself and she looks out for their well-being and goes over their contracts. It is why the elves are able to handle dirty clothing without risking being freed, though they find it offensive when students sometimes attempt to free them by leaving clothes lying around hidden even if it does not free them."
"Makes sense. I didn't even know Hogwarts had house-elves, but I suppose someone is doing all the work. So Hogwarts just let Tiffy leave?"
"Yes, though she tricked me into taking her in; giving me these huge blue tearful eyes and saying she had nowhere to go as she'd been given clothes. I couldn't bear to see her miserable so I offered to take her in, wasn't until we sealed the deal that she confessed having asked to be let go," Sirius smiled fondly. "She originally stayed with me, but after the ambush at my apartment while she was out for chores, I convinced her to stay here with the other house-elves so she neither would be alone and I'd know she'd be safe."
"Where she remained even now," Harry smiled. "She certainly seems fond of you, so do the other two."
"They are precious," Sirius agreed and they shared a quiet moment just sitting there before Harry remembered the subject they had been on before he got distracted.
"So the Blacks never knew you were a Parselmouth?"
"No, they would have been livid to learn I inherited a trait from their precious ancestor while their precious son did not."
"You have a brother?" Trying to ignoring the jar still on the table completely, Harry turned in his seat as Sirius sat down beside him.
"Had. He became a Death Eater like most of the Black descendants, but from what I learned in Azkaban he apparently got cold feet and was killed on Riddle's orders."
"I'm sorry," Harry couldn't imagine how Sirius must be feeling, though the man's shrug surprised him.
"Don't be. We were never close as children and I might have spoken civilly to him perhaps four times in our entire time at Hogwarts as he hated my guts for being a Gryffindor. It was your father who I always saw as my brother and have always loved as such; even before the adoption."
"But Dad wasn't a Parselmouth, was he?" Harry could kind of understand Sirius' reaction, as he held no love for his cousin Dudley either and he briefly wondered how he would feel if the older boy was killed one day but for all his effort, he couldn't muster up any feeling over it and shrugged it off.
"No, but I blood adopted you when you were born; giving you the protection of my bloodline and making you my heir. It means you inherited some traits from me, though I am sorry you ended up with that one."
"I think I can live with it if I inherited it from you, and it kind of saved my life last year," Harry admitted, half turning as Tiffy returned carrying three items almost at the same time Pippy appeared with Dobby in tow.
A/N: I have finally…FINALLY, found myself a new job and will manage to leave the disastrous place that is my current job. But thanks to this utterly happy occasion, my work schedule will change drastically and I will no longer be able to post on Mondays. So the story will be updated every Friday from now, as that will be my standard day off. And to not disappoint you all with having to wait a full week for the new chapter, you're getting an extra one this week instead.
Hope you'll enjoy it!
"Tiffy will place these in the study," the oldest of the three elves announced, giving Dobby a gentle smile as she picked up the jar on the table and carried everything she was holding out of the kitchen as Sirius and Harry both turned to Pippy and Dobby.
"Harry Potter, sir!" Dobby looked utterly happy to see Harry; and though Harry knew it was rude, he couldn't help but stare at the house-elf, taking in the odd assortment of clothing the elf wore.
He wore Harry's black sock along with a mismatched green one; a large red jumper and hideous bright green shorts, looking utterly ridiculous and for a moment he wasn't quite sure what to say.
"Hello Dobby, it is nice to meet you," Sirius rescued him, smiling down at Dobby and nothing giving away if he thought the elf looked odd or not.
"Master Sirius?" Dobby's eyes widened in shock as he blinked up at Sirius.
"Please don't call me Master, it is just Sirius," Harry tensed as Dobby immediately tensed at Sirius' sigh. But before Harry could react as the elf rushed forward, Sirius had already hauled him back and stopped him from running head-first into the table. "Every single time...you are forbidden from harming yourself under any circumstances unless I specifically state otherwise."
Dobby deflated in Sirius' hold and Harry took a relieved breath as the little elf made no move to try and hurt himself again.
"I didn't know the two of you knew each other?" He asked as Dobby straightened again and Sirius leaned back.
"I...," Sirius blinked and looked down to Dobby. "Do we know each other?"
"K-kind off, M-Sirius," Dobby hesitated. "Ma-Sirius was the heir of the House of Black. All house-elves of those who married into the family know of your standing and your role as our master."
"Ah, of course. Because the Malfoys married into the Black family, their house-elves would immediately fall under the Black's ownership as well. But Harry told me he set you free, didn't he?" Sirius asked confused.
"Harry Potter did," Dobby confirmed with a brilliant smile directed at Harry. "But as Lord Black, you can claim ownership over me since the House of Black overrides any decision the family of the house-elf makes."
"But I am not Lord Black. Grandfather Arcturus is, isn't he?"
"Lord Black passed away two years ago," Dobby squeaked softly. "You are the current Lord Black since he never disinherited you."
"I see," Sirius' expression closed off for a moment and Harry wondered if he had cared for his grandfather since he didn't seem to hold much love for his relatives. "Did Walburga Black not try to fight that?"
"That banshee is dead," Harry startled at the venom in Tiffy's voice as the old elf re-entered the kitchen. "So Tiffy had no trouble getting Siri vile object she set out to retrieve from Grimmauld Place."
"From Grimmauld Place? He entrusted the Blacks with one of them?" Sirius asked, looking surprisingly happy to hear the woman was dead.
"Tiffy does not know. Kreacher yelled at Tiffy for her entering, but as Tiffy was on orders from Siri, he could not stop Tiffy as Siri is Lord Black now."
"Of course that vile creature is still alive," Sirius sighed.
"Kreacher is a servant of the Blacks?" Harry asked.
"He is...well, was the house-elf of my parents. I am almost as fond of him as I am of them."
"That bad, huh? What is Grimmauld Place?"
"The house where the Heir of the Black family lives until the current Lord passes away," Sirius nodded. "I hated that house and those who lived in it more than anything and am relieved Walburga died. How did she die?"
"She fell from the stairs," Tiffy told them and Harry blinked at her, slightly horrified by the happy tone in her voice.
"I hope she died slowly and painfully from that fall," Sirius actually grinned at the news and Harry wasn't quite sure what to think of how happy the two were about the death of a living being as even Dobby cheered up by Sirius' reaction.
"She did. Choked on her own blood as she couldn't call for Kreacher or turn as she broke her spine in the fall," Tiffy cheerfully informed him and Harry wondered just how horrible a woman she had to have been for everyone to be so happy about it.
"Walburga Black is Siri's birth mother," Pippy seemed to notice his confusion and leaned close to him so she could whisper in his ear; much lower than before so no one would overhear. "She was horrible woman who abused and mistreated Siri horribly all his childhood for not following bigoted beliefs of Black family. She and his birth father tried to kill him the night he ran away to come home to Master James, Master and Mistress. Tiffy would have liked to be the one to toss her off the stairs for all she did to Siri, Pippy wanted to help."
"Oh," suddenly he could understand completely why his godfather was so relieved by her death and found himself smiling as Tiffy told Sirius all the gruesome details of how the woman had died. "I'm glad she's dead, then."
"So are the Potter house-elves," Pippy nodded solemnly and Harry turned to see Sirius had sobered again as he turned back to Dobby.
"I can promise you I will not override your freedom if you don't want me to. Harry asked Pippy to find you because he wanted to know if you were happy."
"Dobby is free," Dobby turned to Harry. "Dobby very happy, but Dobby not finding it easy to find new work."
"Why not?"Sirius frowned. "Lots of family would have loved to have a house-elf, I doubt that changed very much in a decade?"
"Well, Dobby would like to be paid now for work," the elf's bat-like ears dropped as he spoke, clearly expecting disgust at his words as both Tiffy and Pippy blinked.
"That's a bit unusual," Sirius admitted, turning thoughtful as he turned to Harry and somehow Harry knew exactly what his godfather tried to ask silently.
He wasn't quite sure if he wanted the odd house-elf around all the time as their interactions so far had been somewhat strained and coloured, but he couldn't stand to see the little elf struggling either so he gave his consent in the form of a small nod.
Sirius looked at him calculatingly before turning to Dobby. "Do you have set your eyes on any place to work?"
"No, sir, most families refuse to pay for the services of a house-elf," Dobby looked up to Sirius confused, clearly not quite sure why the man wasn't either laughing at him or condemning him for his desire to be paid.
"Siri silly goody two shoes," Tiffy sighed, shaking her head fondly as she had clearly figured out Sirius' intention as well. "How much does Dobby ask for his services?"
"Dobby not certain?" The confused green eyes turned to Tiffy as he looked between them, the same realisation dawning in his eyes and he turned back to Sirius hopefully. "A Knut a week?"
"You're going to have to bargain better than that if you'd be interested to work for the House of Potter," Sirius snorted and Dobby's ears dropped again. "Five Galleons a week."
"A...no...that is much too much!" Dobby squeaked horrified. "Dobby would not want to be paid to work for Harry Potter and Ma-Sirius!"
"Tough luck. You said you'd like to be paid for your services and I am interested in hiring you under a few strict rules."
"Which rules does Ma-Sirius have for Dobby?" Dobby asked warily.
"No saving Harry or my lives unless it is truly needed; and even then I still want you to get Tiffy or Pippy before doing anything yourself as your form of saving lives scares me witless and might as well kill us in the first place."
Dobby grinned bashfully at that but nodded his consent.
"If you want out or we no longer require your service, it will be done in conversation and not with the threat of clothes. All the house-elves in the service of the House of Potter wear what clothes they like and handle them freely."
Dobby nodded a little too enthusiastically at that in Harry's opinion and he looked at his godfather to see the man smiling. "Any desire for clothes will be met within reasonable boundaries, though they will all have to be embroidered with the Potter crest so people know you fall under our protection."
To Harry it sounded like the man was summing something established up and as both Tiffy and Pippy tried to hide giggles, he realised he'd given at least Tiffy the same rules upon hiring her as he only now noticed both were wearing child-sized dresses they were clearly happy with, Tiffy having changed into a light blue one instead of the black she'd been wearing before.
"None of the house-elves in our care are required or expected to punish themselves for mistakes or the likes and any time you feel like you deserved to be punished for anything at all, you come to either me or Tiffy before ever attempting to punish yourself. Also, punishments not of dire cause will be handled by my preferred method so you will never do so again," a small hint of a smile crossed over Sirius' serious expression and Dobby shifted nervously even as Pippy beamed.
"What method would that be, sir?"
"He tickles you with a tickling charm," Pippy squeaked, whispering the same words she'd whispered to Harry before into Dobby's ear and Harry tried to suppress a chuckle at how utterly thrown off Dobby appeared by that punishment.
"And last, neither Harry nor I feel comfortable with being called Master or any of the formal stuff. We are Sirius and Harry and would like to be referred to as that by those in our family, if you can agree to those rules then we will only need to settle on a payment."
Harry could only watch in morbid fascination as the two bargained between them for a few long minutes for a reasonable price; Dobby looking utterly delighted as he could talk back to Sirius without getting reprimanded and they finally settled on two Galleons a month and every weekend off, sealing the deal with a handshake that made a green beam of light form around their hands.
"Welcome to the family," Sirius smiled and nodded at Pippy. "I would let you catch up with Harry but we were actually in the middle of something important so it will have to wait until tomorrow, sorry. If you would be willing to follow Pippy, then she can take you to where you will be living and where you'll be staying and perhaps you could hunt down Misty to introduce them?"
"Of course, Siri. Pippy will take Dobby along now so you, Tiffy and Mast- Harry can finish their business before bed," the little elf shot Harry an apologetic look at the slip, but Harry couldn't help but laugh as Dobby's eyes had widened immensely at how she referred to Sirius instead.
"Thanks, Pip," Sirius didn't seem to notice his horror as he squeezed her shoulder affectionately before rising to his feet. "Shall we make our way to the study to finish our business?"
"Right," Harry waved at Dobby and Pippy before following his godfather, eyeing the four items on the table Tiffy had spread out in the study. "So these are his Horcruxes?"
"Yes," Tiffy answered, "Tiffy sensed a sixth piece, slightly stronger than the others but Tiffy dared not go to it."
"The main soul?" Sirius guessed as she shivered and pulled her close for a moment. "Thank you, you have been more than helpful. Did you have any trouble collecting the others?"
"No, he set traps against humans, not house-elves. Tiffy had no trouble at all."
"Figures. He always did underestimate those he deemed less than him, even if they are in fact much stronger," Sirius snorted. "Lucky for us. Any insight on how to destroy them?"
"Tiffy could, if Siri would let her," Tiffy immediately said as she looked at the items. "Elf magic would be more than strong enough to destroy these items beyond repair; which is required to destroy Horcruxes."
"Would there be any danger to you?"
"No, Siri," Tiffy's expression was so warm and full of affection that Harry couldn't help but smile as the little elf rolled her eyes in clear exasperation.
"I don't have a wand to help you should trouble arise," Sirius warned her and Harry realised that was true, Sirius wouldn't have one since he had just escaped prison.
"You could use mine?" Harry offered as Tiffy looked at Sirius calculatingly.
"As kind as that offer is, it is likely I would have trouble handling your wand as it has not chosen me or been won. It would mean that any magic I perform would likely be affected in strength and capability."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked and Sirius turned to him curiously.
"Didn't they teach you at Hogwarts or didn't Ollivander say anything about it when you got your wand?"
"He said that the wand chooses the wizard; not entirely sure what he meant if I'm honest."
"He was right, you might've noticed when you went to buy your wand that it took some tries to find one that matched you?"
"It took ages before I felt a rush of warmth," Harry remembered. "I think I tried perhaps thirty wands before I found mine."
"I was the same, it took Ollivander the better part of an hour before I found my match in my Acacia with a phoenix feather core from somewhere in the back," Sirius smiled. "Really annoyed my parents that I didn't get a dragon heartstring core like most of the Blacks did."
"I've got a Holly one with a phoenix feather. But how could the wand choose a wizard? It is just a piece of wood, isn't it?"
"Wands are quasi-sentient, or so I believe. They have to be to be able to pick a match to their own materials' qualities and no two wands are the same even if they share the exact same materials. It is why you get the best results when you use a wand that was matched to you officially instead of a hand-me-down. When you beat someone in a real duel, you might win the allegiance of the other's wand and use it somewhat properly, but you get the best magical results with your own personal wand."
"They didn't teach us that at Hogwarts," Harry grunted. "You'd think that is something they'd want to teach their students."
"I've said the same about Muggle studies for years," Sirius hummed. "Never got why they didn't make that class mandatory for at least first year students from magical backgrounds while having a similar class about magic for students with a Muggle background. Would take a lot of misunderstandings formed due to cultural differences away from the start."
"That's for sure," Harry agreed. "I've been reintroduced to the magical world two years ago, and I still barely know anything about traditions or the overall history."
"Maybe you could get things to change. I never had much faith in Dumbledore, but once he is gone, perhaps you could bring it up to McGonagall while I write to the board to see if we can make some changes," Sirius suggested.
"Do you think it'll make a difference? The prejudices seem to run very deep," Harry was doubtful people like Malfoy or even Ron would ever truly change their view of Muggles and Sirius seemed to read his doubt perfectly.
"Most prejudices come from what we've been taught by our families and overall ignorance to learn the truth. It won't change everyone's mind, but there are plenty of people who might begin to understand each other better and where they come from."
"I guess you are right, even a small difference would be better than what we've got now," Harry acknowledged.
"Indeed. But we got off track and I'd really like to get this over with...Tiffy...what?" Sirius looked down distracted as the old house-elf placed a wand in his hands, though Harry hadn't even realised she had left in the first place.
"You went to the Ministry and retrieved my wand?" Sirius shook his head fondly while Harry stared at her dumbfounded. "You are insane, but thank you."
"Siri needs his wand if he is to defend himself. Tiffy left spare training wand in its place of the same makings so it will not be missed."
"I'm not sure whether to be impressed or terrified by this," Harry admitted softly as Sirius barked out a rusty laugh as he squeezed Tiffy's hand in gratitude.
"Be terrified. Always be terrified of house-elves' loyalty when you can as it truly is magnificent."
Sirius sounded utterly serious as he spoke and Harry had no doubt it was true, though it did make him wonder aloud why the loyal little creatures had never tried to bust Sirius out of prison.
"There are wards in place specifically to prevent house-elves from busting their masters out," Sirius answered. "Back when Azkaban was first founded, Pure-Blood families kept escaping that way until the Ministry managed to create such a ward to prevent any house-elf or magical creature other than Dementors to enter the grounds. No one's ever escaped since then."
"You managed to escape," Harry pointed out.
"Yes, there are wards to prevent Animagi from escaping as well, but they have to be cast directly on the cell and are only used if one is aware the prisoner is one as they are rather complicated to cast and maintain," Sirius smiled. "They never realised I was one."
"Tiffy, Pippy and Misty tried to free Siri, but wes could not break past wards no matter what wes tried," the little elf's ears dropped at her own failure and as Sirius pulled her into a hug Harry felt a warm rush of affection for the three little ones at learning they had tried regardless of that.
"I'm sure you did the best you could," Harry tried to comfort her and smiled as he was rewarded by his godfather's smile. "But I thought we were going to destroy Horcruxes?"
"Yes, we'll do so outside just in case, though. Wouldn't want to endanger the house by accident."
Harry hesitated for a brief moment as Tiffy nodded and led the way outside, but as Sirius gave him a questioning look he quickly followed.
He wasn't used to adults including him, but already berated himself for falling back into assuming Sirius would be the same when the man so far hadn't kept anything from him.
He hadn't lied about the Horcrux or the Prophecy; tried to explain everything he knew about what had happened honestly and as completely as he could while people like Mrs. Weasley and Dumbledore would've balked at the mere idea and deemed him much too young to know.
And although he was fairly positive most other adults didn't share his godfather's stance on being open with information; he couldn't help thinking how refreshing it was to be both trusted and included in things that concerned him.
So he didn't complain when Sirius kept him at a distance from where Tiffy was setting up the Horcruxes, knowing it was done only for his protection.
"When his Horcruxes are destroyed, does that mean he'll be gone for good since he's not attached to a body?" Harry asked as Sirius did something with his wand while Tiffy used her own unique brand of magic that made all the items burst into flames and any answer he might have been given was lost under an almighty explosion that knocked Harry off his feet.
A wall of black smoke rose and horrible screaming rattled Harry's bones; reminding him eerily of the scream Voldemort's spirit had given when he'd left Quirrell's body and it suddenly occurred to him that he should have warned Sirius about that.
But even as he scrambled back, a green barrier appeared; containing the smoke and preventing it from coming any closer.
Flames burst out of the smoke, shattering the shield and he distantly heard Tiffy squeak before a second, bluish white shield pulled up and the flames crashed against that one even as Sirius appeared out of nowhere to pull Harry further back.
"What happened?" Harry tried to get his ears to stop ringing as a few sweeps of Sirius' wand contained the fire completely before putting it out completely.
"I wasn't expecting that and reacted too slowly," Sirius admitted, looking rather pale and shaken as he grimaced. "Guess my reaction time leaves something to be desired. Are you all right?"
"Yeah, it didn't come close to me. I assume you're the one who kept me safe?" Harry turned to Tiffy after ensuring himself that his godfather was unharmed.
"Yes. Tiffy making hot chocolate now. Siri and Harry need hot chocolate," the little elf muttered determinedly as she disappeared back into the house and Harry glanced at Sirius worriedly.
"She'll be fine, just accept that she will try to smother us in food and drinks so she can calm herself and she'll be right as rain," Sirius pulled him into his side and Harry wrapped his arms around him in a hug. "You sure you are all right?"
"I am, are you?" Harry could detect a faint smell of burned plastic lingering on his godfather but couldn't detect any wound.
"I'm fine, just happy I prefer Muggle clothes. The garden hose didn't survive, though."
"Ah," swallowing thickly, Harry tightened his own hold on his godfather momentarily, relieved the man was indeed fine.
"So, what was it you were asking before my ears began ringing?" Sirius lightly asked, making Harry laugh.
"I asked if Riddle would be truly gone once his Horcruxes were destroyed since he's not attached to a body."
"That is fairly easy to discover," Sirius pulled back. "Let's take a trip to the library."
It was such a Hermione thing to say that Harry couldn't help but stare at the man dubiously; half expecting him to sprout a large bag of books and wild hair.
"What?" Sirius must have seen something on his face as he turned towards him with a raised eyebrow.
"Nothing, you just reminded me eerily of my friend Hermione for a moment. That's her default answer every time something is up."
"Are you comparing me to a teenage girl?" Sirius' eyebrow rose some more before he shook his head fondly. "The library is a very good place to do research in. But we are hunting down a specific book for this that you'd not find in the Hogwarts library."
"There is really a book that can tell you if Riddle is dead?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Not precisely. It's a book called Nature's Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy. It is an encyclopaedia of all Pure-Blood families in existence and is self-updating."
"But Riddle isn't a Pure-Blood, so he wouldn't be in that book, would he be?" Harry followed his godfather through the study and into the adjacent room where he was amazed by the sheer amount of books on display all around the room. "Wow."
"No, he is not. But his mother was a Pure-Blood and the nice thing about this book is that it lists the reasons a Pure-Blood line has ended, which means Riddle will be noted in there with a date of birth and I assume a date of passing, too, if he's truly gone," Sirius didn't seem to notice his preoccupation with the size of the room as he strode into the room before turning to him. "Have you learned Summoning Charms yet?"
"I'm only going to be a third year after the summer, Summoning Charms is taught in fourth year," Harry said.
"Well, you're about to learn it now," Sirius calmly decided.
Harry wondered how much magic his godfather would teach him by the time he had to return to Hogwarts and why it was that Sirius' method seemed so much easier than what they taught at school as he calmly managed to Summon the book on the third try already.
Sirius seemed to once more be able to read him perfectly as he laughed. "You've probably been taught to think logically at Muggle school?"
"Magic goes against all logic. At Hogwarts, they teach on the basis of Muggleborn and raised and the whole wand movements and following set rules has been put into place with them in mind so it helps them focus their magic properly until they have a good feel for it. It has forever been a point of discussion for Pure-Bloods because they find the lessons should be tailored to them, but the board has never agreed to their demands as far as I know."
"But my friend Ron is from a Pure-Blood family and he has as much difficulties as I do," Harry protested.
"I don't know what his problem is without seeing him cast, but yours is very simple."
"You think like a Muggle-born while you are not. You might unfortunately have been raised by them, but your basis has been laid by magical people," Sirius explained as he took a seat at the large table in the middle of the room.
"I'm not sure how to explain it properly, but as a baby you have been constantly around magic and as such, the normality is ingrated into your very being even if you don't remember it consciously. It is probably your magical core that allowed you to remember me as well as you do, too. You need to stop thinking over rules and wand movements and just do it."
"Easier said than done," Harry grumbled. "The Professors always keep harping on the rules whenever I fail in a spell."
"Trust me, forget the rules and you will get a much easier grip on your spells and much faster, too," Sirius assured him.
"I take it that you've never followed the rules?"
"No, it drove your mother crazy that even Remus caught onto spells more quickly than she did until she took over our method and grew enormously in her abilities."
"How is that possible? Mum was Muggleborn, shouldn't she benefit from the rules in that case?"
"Normally, yes. But your mother had such a strong and good grasp of her abilities even before coming to Hogwarts that her magical core was at the level of a Half-Blood," Sirius pulled a face. "Might have been because she grew up learning about Hogwarts from that greasy git Snape and already knew some spells and how they worked by the time she was eleven."
"Wait...wait...are you trying to tell me Mum knew Snape when they were kids?"
"Yes, they were friends until our fifth year when they had a fallout and never spoke again," Sirius tried and failed to suppress a smile at Harry's obviously horrified expression and squeezed his shoulder in support. "Yeah, I know, we all shared that feeling."
"I can't...urg...really? What possessed her to befriend that git?"
"He was nice to her and could tell her about her strange abilities. They grew closer as her relationship with her sister deteriorated. But she began to see him for who he really was as they got older and she was very unimpressed by his activities," Sirius considered himself for a moment. "Of course she thought your dad was an arrogant and immature git as well, but began to feel differently about him not too much later."
"Mum thought Dad was an arrogant git, so they didn't get along?"
"Not at all. Until our sixth year, she wouldn't even give him the time of day while your dad was utterly smitten with her since second year. And she wasn't entirely wrong, we were all a little immature and James could come across as fairly arrogant if he wanted to."
"What made her change her mind?" Harry couldn't help but smile at the extra warmth that had crept into his godfather's entire face as he spoke about Harry's parents, the haunted eyes softening in memory and the heaviness that kind of lifted from his shoulders as he told Harry about his parents and Harry laughed as Sirius described several events that had happened where his mother had hexed his father, the man letting it happen at times, despite being a very accomplished dueller because he couldn't bear to retaliate when he was the one provoking her.
"If you want, I could show you several of the hexes and spells she liked," Sirius offered eventually; Harry grinning enthusiastically.
It was hard to believe that he had only been reunited with Sirius a few hours ago as he comfortably sat next to the man while nursing a cup of hot chocolate Tiffy had brought over while they spoke, the man slowly skimming through the book as he shared various memories but now fell silent.
"Ah, here he is. Looks like we've done it," Sirius showed him the page and Harry's heart skipped a beat to see the family tree Sirius was indicating, indeed seeing Riddle's name there.
It was completely detailed with the man's date of birth, blood status, date of passing and the reason for it along with the reason for the end of the bloodline.
"That's fairly detailed," Harry muttered, fingering the page as he noted Sirius was listed as Riddle's cause of death. "You should send this to the authorities."
"That might cause a fun uproar," Sirius chuckled. "But I wouldn't know who..."
"Clearly you do know someone," Harry noted as Sirius trailed off mid-sentence.
"Well, there was one Auror who was unquestionably trustworthy no matter what."
"What is an Auror?"
"The magical equivalent of the police; they are mostly responsible for catching Dark Wizards," Sirius explained.
"Then what is keeping you from contacting him?" Harry watched as Sirius finished off his hot chocolate and placed the empty cup back onto the table, tapping the table lightly with his fingers.
"I'm not sure, the man was barking mad and kind of reckless. But he was the best there was and one of the best men I've ever known," Sirius fingered the book as he fell silent again.
"Are you worried he might not believe you?" Harry asked softly as Sirius seemed to hesitate for some reason.
"Even if he wouldn't believe me, he would still feel obligated to look into things thoroughly to make sense of them," Sirius cleared his throat. "I don't know if he is still alive after all these years. Many people died and I'm not quite sure I have the courage to learn if he's gone as well."
Which, given what Harry knew about the war was a legit fear as many people had been killed and as he'd fought on the front lines, his godfather would have known plenty of good people who had died in their attempts to stand up for what was right.
"A lot of people I used to know died in the war or just afterwards or even worse," Sirius didn't seem to have read Harry's mind this time, even if he followed the same line of thought. He stared down at his empty cup, looking to be a little lost in thoughts.
"Worse how?" Harry wasn't quite sure he really wanted to know, but couldn't help but ask anyway.
"Two Aurors, a good pair of friends of mine, were tortured into insanity mere days after his defeat when his followers were searching for information. I was already in Azkaban by then, but heard the story from the guards when those responsible were thrown into cells near me."
"I'm sorry to hear that," it had to be horrible to think you were finally safe; only to still be endangered like that.
"You might know their son as he's only a day older than you," Sirius noted.
"Who?" Harry asked surprised.
"Neville Longbottom. He was a really sweet kid and if his display of magic as a toddler was anything to go by, he'll have grown to be a fantastically talented student."
"Are you quite sure we're talking about the same Neville? Because the one I know is a horrid wizard; forgetful and a walking disaster even without a wand. He does live with his grandmother, though," Harry swallowed thickly because Neville was indeed a day older than him and he suddenly remembered the boy had never mentioned his parents.
"Longbottom isn't really a common name so I assume so, does his grandmother wear a ridiculous hat with a vulture on it?"
"Yes," Harry snorted. "She's always worn that?"
"For as long as I can remember. I wonder what happened to shunt Neville's magic so severely," Sirius frowned.
"That can happen?"
"With strong emotional trauma it is possible. Your magic suffered as well so maybe his did, too."
"My magic...how is it s...because of what happened to Mum and Dad?" Harry swallowed thickly as Sirius nodded.
"Maybe. You were exceptionally eager to display your magic as a toddler, but I can't see any of that ease in you now. There are no blocks or anything on your magic, so it's got to be either a lack of magical core or a shunted one and I'm leaning towards the latter based on how easily you pick up the things I'm showing you."
"Can it be undone?"
"That depends on the trauma," Sirius shifted. "I'm not an expert and my own magic got a severe blow after...but I think it can be undone with practice and a proper living environment."
"You think the Dursleys had a play in why my magic is shunted?" Harry's eyes narrowed at Sirius' words.
"Most definitely. A child living in an unhappy home will not easily grow up into their full potential," he paused. "Might be Neville's problem as well as Madam Longbottom isn't the easiest guardian. Frank was forever complaining about her strictness and how he never seemed to do good enough in her eyes."
"That sounds like Neville's grandmother, all right," Harry remembered how nervous Neville got every time his grandmother was even mentioned and believed Sirius might have a point. "I never knew Neville's parents were..."
"I doubt it's something you talk about easily," Sirius said. "It's a fate worse than death and letting people believe they are dead instead of what truly became of them might be easier than having to deal with everyone's pity."
"Yeah," thinking of how people treated him whenever the subject of parents came up, Harry could see why Neville wouldn't talk about it at all.
"Are you still friends? Because you haven't mentioned him in any of your adventures so far."
"We get along. But we don't hang out or anything, not sure why to be honest," and he really didn't. It wasn't like he didn't like Neville or anything and the boy could be quite funny when he wasn't all nervous and afraid of his own shadow.
"Well, I'm not going to tell you who you should befriend. Just because your parents were friendly, doesn't mean you have to be best friends," Sirius shrugged.
"I think I'd like to get to know him a bit better. I don't really have any friends besides Ron and Hermione."
"That's not a bad thing; but you should try to be friendly with more people than just them. They don't have to be among your closest friends, but it goes a long way if you can count others among your acquaintances without relations being tense."
"It does," Harry admitted. "The only other people I sometimes talk to outside of my class are Ron's twin brothers, but I know them from spending last summer at their house."
"Fred and George Weasley?"
"You know them?"
"I might have helped babysit them when they were with their uncles a few times," Sirius' expression turned sober and Harry was fairly sure what had become of those uncles by that mere expression. "Gideon and Fabian Prewett were close friends of your dad and me and formidable duellists. Utterly useless when handed a child, though, so they usually called us for help."
"I can't believe you know the twins!" Harry laughed. "Talking about a small world!"
"Most families in the Wizarding World know one another in some way," Sirius smiled. "Ron's their brother? Then he must be the kid with the appetite of a horse, right?"
"That's Ron all right," Harry confirmed. "You babysat him, too?"
"No, but I remember the twins and Charlie talking about how they had to keep their food away from their baby brother or he'd eat it all. How many children did the Weasleys end up with?"
"Seven. After Ron they had a daughter, but that's it," Harry grinned as Sirius pulled a face. "Not a big fan of children?"
"Oh no, I love children. But seven of them are a bit much, especially if they inherited any of their mother's character."
"You don't like Mrs. Weasley?" Harry thought of the plump woman who had been nice to him.
"Not particularly. I never liked how she bossed everyone in her vicinity around and you'd not believe the howlers she'd sent to her brothers while they were still in Hogwarts; as if she was their mother or something. Always did pity the poor sod that fell into her trap."
"She's not a bad woman," Harry protested even though he had to admit that she was indeed bossy towards her husband and children and Sirius shot him a knowing grin.
"But we were talking about this Auror who we could send this page to," Harry reminded Sirius, pulling the book towards him. "What's his name?"
"Alastor Moody. Your dad and I always called him Mad-Eye, though."
"Why?" Laughing Harry looked through the register in the back to find the surname before going to the right page.
"Because he'd always get this mad glint in his eyes whenever he was driven by something," Sirius smiled. "Tried to hex us repeatedly when he heard us call him that, though eventually he simply accepted the nickname."
"You really think he might be able to help?" Harry asked as he found the right page.
"He's the most likely to investigate things if he were to see that page," Sirius scratched the back of his neck. "I don't know if he'll be of any help, though."
"If he were to investigate things like you say, he might even be able to discover you've not had a trial and make that happen," Harry noted as he skimmed the page as Sirius hadn't mentioned if the man was the last in his line or not. "He's still alive."
"That's good..." Sirius breathed relieved. "But why would he investigate my lack of a trial in the first place?"
"Well, he might question it if you included a note where it's mentioned?" Harry suggested.
"He'd recognise my handwriting immediately and might just blow it up out of spite. Always did know how to hold a grudge," Sirius sighed.
"Then I'll write the note. Could ask him why Riddle's supposed right hand would be the one to kill him and mention you've not received a trial."
"I'd love to see his reaction if he saw the note came from you," Sirius gave a wry smile as Harry frowned at him confused. "He, like everyone else, likely believes I am the one who betrayed your parents, how do you think he will react if he were to see a note coming from you where you try to plead my innocence?"
"Might actually get the opposite reaction of what we want," Harry winced.
"If it comes out to the wrong people, it might even cause Peter to go into hiding and ruin anything we might plan to expose him," Sirius sighed. "And we can't send an unsigned note, that'll only make him suspicious."
"How did Moody become such a good Auror if he was so distrustful?" Harry grumbled as Sirius laughed.
"That's exactly why. He was so distrustful of people that he immediately noticed strange behaviour and inconsistencies, long before anyone else noticed anything off. Corrupt Aurors didn't have a chance to alert Death Eaters that Moody was on to them because the man always did his own research and only called in help if he was truly certain he could trust them," Sirius smiled fondly. "But if you gained his trust, you had an amazing ally in him."
"It sounds like you were truly fond of him," Harry noted.
"I was. I like to think we were somewhat friends after fighting alongside each other so often. I met him in my third year after your father and I got into trouble with Death Eaters. He always stayed in contact us after that, giving us tips on how to get better in duelling."
"Sounds like he's a good man," Harry didn't ask what kind of trouble his father and Sirius had gotten into, knowing it could wait until another time. "But that doesn't help us now, does it?"
They sat in silence for a long moment as Sirius tapped at the table again. "What if you signed it with the nickname we gave you? He might place the link between that and your father; but if anything, it might actually keep him from alerting anyone."
"Because he'd realise that by signing it with that, you don't want his prying into my case to become common knowledge'. He'd recognise the need for silence and tread carefully."
"He'll recognise that from signing it with pup?" Harry gave his godfather an incredulous look, surprised as the man barked out a laugh.
"No, that's just how I always called you. Before you were born, we referred to you as Prongslet and after it was occasionally used if we wanted to talk about you privately during meetings."
"Because Dad was Prongs, huh?" Harry chuckled. "I have to admit that I rather like it. I'll use that to sign the note. Can we copy that page or do we need to send the whole book?"
"I can copy the page without a problem, just give me a moment," Sirius rose to his feet to retrieve a blank piece of parchment and moments later Harry was handed a perfect copy of the page they needed.
"Even if he won't question my lack of a trial, it might cause some confusion at the Ministry and at any rate, we've got our trap to set up."
Nodding, Harry accepted the quill his godfather handed him and quickly scribbled a note. "I don't have Hedwig with me, though."
"She is probably in the Owlery, owls are overall very smart and if she followed you here as I expect, then she'll be there," following his godfather, they made their way through the hallways until they reached the attic and he was relieved to indeed see Hedwig present.
"Hello Hedwig," she immediately flew over to perch on his shoulder and hooted at him while looking at Sirius interested.
"You are quite beautiful," Sirius smiled as he reached out and softly stroked her belly, getting an affectionate nip in his finger in return. "Messenger owls are magically connected to their owners and can find them anywhere. And since you are keyed to the wards here, she is automatically allowed entrance."
"I guess that makes sense, I always wondered though, do they use magic to find those we write letters to?"
"I assume so as we don't always know the whereabouts of them and yet they always find them no matter where they are. Unless there are wards in play or the like."
"I never really thought about it, I always thought they were trained like Pigeons. But they only return to their nest from other places, they don't fly from one house to another."
"You can train other birds as messengers, but it is both difficult and less reliable. I once sent a peacock to deliver a present to Remus for his birthday, but I only managed that because the bird liked me and wanted to help. Absolutely refused to deliver a message for your dad to the same address, though."
"I bet you have tons of stories I'd love to hear," Harry laughed as Hedwig flew onto Sirius' shoulder and he bound the note to the leg Hedwig held out, her claws not harming his godfather despite him wearing a thin long sleeved shirt.
"And I'll tell you all I know in the time we have left, but first I think that it is about time for bed," Sirius ruffled his hair and waved his wand over Hedwig.
"What did you do?"
"Some protection, like I said, Moody is a very suspicious wizard and I don't want any harm to come to her," Sirius brushed a finger over her head before she took off from his shoulder and disappeared through the glassless window.
As they made their way down again, Harry smiled, having noticed that the more Sirius talked, the less his voice cracked and he started to sound more like he did in Harry's memory.
"How long ago did you escape?" Harry eyed the man properly as he yawned, finally seeing just how exhausted he was.
"About two weeks ago, why?"
"Have you slept at all during that time?"
"Here and there. Why, do I look that awful?"
Harry flushed, even though he could clearly see Sirius was teasing him if the man's smile was anything to go by. "Downright terrifying. You came straight here, to me, I mean, didn't you?"
"As soon as I had caught onto your scent, yes."
"My...no, I'll save that question for tomorrow. Sleep is more important right now," Harry could feel how tired he himself was, so he didn't even want to know how exhausted Sirius had to be.
"I'll also show you your father's room tomorrow and see if I can find Dad's Pensieve so I can show you all those memories rather than just tell you about them," Sirius turned thoughtful. "Though if you were to be interested, I could leave some of the funnier prank ones as a reward for your Occlumency lessons."
"A method to protect your mind from intruders. I'll explain it more properly tomorrow, but it basically means no one can easily use any knowledge you have in your mind against you."
"All right, seems handy. So if I succeed in blocking you, I'll get one of those funny memories?"
"Only if you'd be interested, like a sort of motivation," Sirius' expression turned worried. "I'd show them to you anyway, just..."
"It would just make me try my hardest," Harry smiled, already aware the man wouldn't keep them from him if he said no, but he admitted he liked the challenge and said so.
"Then we'll do that," Sirius tried to suppress a yawn. "Before bed, though, there is only one thing that needs to be discussed."
"And that is?"
"Your clothes. I am not letting you walk around in those rags much longer so we're going to have to go shopping somehow for new ones. For now my old ones will do fine as you're about the same size I was at your age, but you deserve your own clothes. It is your decision if you want to pick them out yourself with me or have Tiffy find you some."
"We can't go out, can we? I mean, people would recognise you."
"They wouldn't if I transfigured myself enough so that no one would recognise me. Or I could simply have Tiffy pick up some Polyjuice, that won't be a problem. People often don't see what is right under their nose and it's the best hiding place."
"Then I'd like to go with you, you need new clothes as well," Harry pointed out.
"Fair enough. We'll schedule a trip to Diagon Alley later this week then. Might want to pick up some owl treats for Hedwig as well as I doubt any of the ones left here are still good," Sirius said. "Is there anything for school you need?"
"I don't know, I received my list last week but I've not gotten anything yet."
"Then we'll do that at the same time," Sirius decided. "We'll have a look at your book list and anything else you might need while we're out anyway. Did you leave anything at the Dursleys' house that you might need? Because then we can ask Ti...what is it?"
Harry froze as Sirius mentioned the Dursleys, having completely forgotten about Aunt Marge and what he'd done to her before meeting Sirius.
"I won't need anything for Hogwarts. I'm expelled and probably a fugitive, too," he said miserably.
"You...what?" Sirius blinked confused. "How so?"
"I blew up my Aunt," Harry admitted. "It's not funny!"
"It kind of is," Sirius laughed. "But they won't expel you for that. Accidental magic is all part of growing up and I'm sure you had good reason for losing your temper?"
"I...Aunt Marge was insulting Mum and Dad. Calling Dad a worthless drunk and compared Mum to a badly bred dog," Harry swallowed thickly as Sirius' expression darkened. "I kind of lost it and she began to swell up like a balloon."
"Your father didn't drink alcohol at all and if anything your mother was the best bred dog there ever was."
"I..." suddenly Harry burst out in laughter, realising that to Sirius, the dog reference wouldn't mean anything as he was a dog himself. And although he hadn't believed the Dursleys whenever they badmouthed his parents, he was still relieved to hear Sirius say his father didn't drink. "Dad never drank alcohol, ever?"
"Not after the first time and he got utterly drunk on spiked punch. Said he didn't like the taste and he didn't like how he couldn't remember his own actions clearly afterwards. So he vowed to never drink again and always held himself to that vow," there was something in Sirius' voice that told Harry there was a great story behind that one, but refrained from asking.
"You're not mad that I blew her up?"
"Accidental magic is part of growing up," Sirius repeated. "And quite frankly I would have loved to see it. Woman got what she deserved; talking about things she has no knowledge about."
"But last year Dobby came to my house and I got an official warning," Harry reminded Sirius of what he'd told him earlier.
"Then I will write to McGonagall about both incidents tomorrow to clear them up and have Dobby deliver the note so that he can confirm it."
"You'd do that for me?"
"I'd do anything for you, pup. And at any rate, it is not fair that you are being punished for being provoked so we're going to set that straight," Sirius paused. "And although you are never returning there, it might make you feel better to know that the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad had arrived at their house by the time we were leaving. So she will have been deflated and her memory modified by now."
"You could hear them all the way from where we were?" Harry took a deep relieved breath at the news, happy to hear he'd done no permanent damage.
"Thanks to Padfoot, my hearing is better than most," Sirius explained as he led them back to the bedrooms they'd been at before. "But we really should get some sleep now."
"Right," looking through the open door of the bedroom behind him, Harry noticed that the sheets had been changed and a pair of pyjamas he did not recognise were placed on the pillow. "Looks like Tiffy readied everything already."
"Most likely Misty or Pippy. Tiffy hates changing sheets with a vengeance as that was always her job at Gryffindor Tower in Hogwarts."
"Can imagine why she'd hate that, plenty of beds there," Harry chuckled.
"Yeah," Sirius ruffled his hair before pulling him into a hug. "If you need anything, anything at all, don't be afraid to knock on my door or call one of the house-elves, all right?"
"I will," Harry expected the same overwhelming feeling from before to come over him once more, but to his surprise he had no trouble separating from his godfather this time. "What time do you want to be up?"
"If you're not up by noon, I'll come get you," Sirius teased, making Harry laugh.
"I never sleep that long, always had to be up at six or seven at the latest," Harry admitted.
"Well, you can sleep as long as you want now, within reasonable bounds, of course," Sirius grinned.
"Noon is reasonable?" Harry snorted in disbelief as Sirius simply smiled at him. "Where do I go when I wake up?"
"Wherever you want, if you like flying then there is a decently sized Quidditch pitch in the backyard and there's also a swimming pool two floors down. I'm sure the house-elves will have made sure both are up to use."
"There's...we have our own Quidditch pitch?" Harry's eyes widened, following Sirius as he let him into his bedroom to glance out of the window so he could see it. "That's huge! How did you know I play?"
"Potters and Quidditch," Sirius shook his head fondly as he gently steered him back to his own room. "Tomorrow you can check it out, guess I know where I'll find you. For now, you need to get some sleep."
"Right...see you tomorrow?" Sheepishly, Harry leaned into the embrace his godfather pulled him into, not bothering to apologise as the man was still smiling.
"I'll probably be in the study and else I'll find you at the pitch so we can have breakfast together," one more ruffling his hair, Harry was surprised yet oddly pleased as Sirius pressed a kiss into his hair. "Good night, pup."
"Night, Siri," ducking into his bedroom, Harry closed it to the sound of his godfather's low laugh, smiling widely himself.
Quickly changing into the well fitting pyjamas, Harry crawled into bed; looking forward to the next day with eager anticipation.
Both to begin making plans to get Sirius free and just spend time with his godfather to get to know him and learn more about his parents.
Taking off his glasses and placing them on the night-stand, Harry couldn't help but feel that life would change drastically with Sirius there.
A screech had Moody shoot off a Stunning spell even before he'd registered what was making the sound behind him late at night.
But as it was, it bounced harmlessly of off the beautiful white snowy owl perched on his window sill.
"Huh," clearly the owl had been sent by someone who knew him and swirling his magical eye over both the animal and the letter, he untied it from the surprisingly calm bird's claw and allowed it to immediately take off again as there was clearly no reply expected.
Unfolding the piece of parchment, the page of a book fell out and he automatically bent to grab it even as his magical eye read the note.
"Maybe you can help ensure justice will be given to one wronged gravely by the Ministry and explain why no one has ever investigated his lack of a trial. Prongslet."
Confused and his curiosity spiked, Moody turned both of his eyes to the book page to see it was the family tree of the Riddles.
Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Born to: Muggle Tom Riddle and Pure-Blood Merope Gaunt on the 31st of December 1926.
Date of passing: the 6th of August 1993.
Reason of passing: Killed by Sirius Orion Potter-Black.
Bloodline extinct in the male line with the death of Morfin Gaunt.
Bloodline extinct in the female line with the death of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
"What?!" Moody stumbled back a step, staring at the page in shock before dashing to his study, Summoning his copy of Nature's Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy and tearing through it until he was staring at an exact replica of the page in his hand.
"Impossible," his eyes lingered on the name of Black and he began to page through the book again almost instinctively, finding the Black family tree only two pages further.
Sirius Orion Black-Potter.
Born to: Pure-Blood Orion Black and Pure-Blood Walburga Black nee Black on the 4th of April 1960.¹
Siblings: Pure-Blood Regulus Arcturus Black, Pure-Blood James Potter.
Adopted by Pure-Blood Dorea Potter nee Black and Pure-Blood Charlus Potter on the 25th of December 1975.
Godfather and legal guardian of Harry James Potter as of the 31st of October 1981.
Bloodline extinct in the male line with the blood adoption of Harry James Potter on the 31st of July 1980.
Bloodline active through the female line.
"How..." eyes narrowing, Moody glanced back at the note he was still holding.
Not sure what to think of what he was seeing, he grabbed his travelling coat and pocketing both the book and the two pieces of paper, made his way to the Ministry despite the late hour so he could find some more confirmation.
He had expected several Aurors to still be present, with Black's escape from Azkaban and all, but he had not expected Albus to be there and he made his way over to where his old friend was talking to Minister Fudge near the Floo entrance.
"Alastor? What are you doing here?" Albus looked worried for some reason.
"Could ask you the same thing," he grumbled.
"Ah, young Harry appears to have run away from his residence earlier this evening after a disagreement with his family," Albus sighed. "Cornelius here was just updating me on any information he might have, since Harry's in danger."
"Why would he be in danger?" Moody was all too aware of the note he'd stuffed into his pocket, but the mere fact that the note had been sent to him directly, told him to keep quiet so he just curled his fingers around it.
"We all know Black's after him," Fudge waved his arms around exaggeratingly. "It is important that we find Potter as soon as we can, with Black being on the loose we need to get Potter to safety before anyone realises we managed to lose him in the first place."
"I quite agree, but what's Albus got to do with that? He's the Head of his school, not the lad's keeper."
"Actually I am Harry's legal guardian in the magical world," Albus pushed his small glasses up a little, the normal twinkle in his eyes making Moody frown as he didn't think it was an amusing matter. "His Muggle guardians would not be recognised as such in the magical world, so I was appointed to guide young Harry here."
"Is that so?" Thinking back to the Black family tree in the book, Moody was quite sure it had noted Black as the boy's legal guardian, not Albus and he couldn't help but say something.
"I thought Black was his godfather?"
"His claim on the boy was annulled with his conviction twelve years ago and I became his guardian," Albus raised an eyebrow. "Why do you ask?"
Something in Moody's gut raised an alarm at the strange flash that crossed Albus' eyes and he found himself shrugging, mind wandering to the signed name on the note. "Just wondering. But I have a meeting with Amelia so I will leave you to it."
He wasn't quite sure why he didn't just tell Albus and Fudge what he'd discovered, but he had learned early on that his gut was rarely wrong and it was always wise to just go with it. And his gut was telling him that the name meant discretion was in order.
Having a meeting with Amelia was a little white lie, but he knew the woman was trustworthy, whereas his gut wasn't so sure about Albus' motives all of a sudden.
"Of course, I'll see you soon, Alastor," Albus clearly deemed him paranoid, dismissing him as he peered over a stack of papers Cornelius was holding up to him and Moody turned on his heels to venture his way deeper into the Ministry; to the Auror department.
The floor was deserted, but as he had already suspected, there was light burning in her office and he knocked on the door.
"Alastor? What brings you here this late?" Amelia rose from her seat to greet him.
"I received an interesting piece of mail," Moody handed over the book page and watched Amelia's eyes widen as she took in the information on it.
"Have you tried to verify this?"
"Through the book," Moody pulled out his book and paged to the correct page. "But I figured it would not hurt to get confirmation through the register."
"Then we will get that immediately," Amelia looked at the book before indicating that he should follow her. "As you know, the register is kept in the courtroom."
"So how is the hunt for Black going?" Moody asked conversationally as they made their way through deserted hallways.
"He remains elusive. No one's caught sight of him or heard anything. It's like he's gone up in smoke," Amelia sighed. "And now Potter ran away from home after using magic so we had to send an Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to his house when we really couldn't afford to lose a man on this hunt. No to mention that Cornelius is insisting we keep his disappearance hidden from the public to not cause mass panic. It's a mess and every day that we have no idea where Black went only makes it worse."
"Have you pulled up the record of his arrest and trial for clues of where he might go?" Moody's mind wandered to the note and its implication, finding he could inquire about it without sounding suspicious.
"I had Aurors pull up his arrest record, but we couldn't find his trial transcript anywhere," there was something in Amelia's voice that made Moody stop walking.
"You mean to say it is missing?"
"I mean to say that there isn't one," Amelia hesitated as she turned to him. "At first I thought it was simply misfiled or something, but..."
"What do you remember of the man's trial, Alastor?"
"I wasn't active at the time, having been hospitalised when bringing in three Death Eaters. I didn't come out of the hospital until after he was already shipped off to Azkaban. As it was I was barely in time for James and Lily's funerals. What do you remember?"
"Truthfully? Nothing. It's been bothering me since his escape, actually. Everyone and their sister had something to say about his arrest and revealed betrayal; claiming they'd always known he was as black as the rest of his ancestors; but there's nothing on his trial at all. I've looked and put two of my best Aurors on it as well, but they came up empty-handed."
"Are you implying Black didn't receive a trial?" Moody could almost feel the note burning in his pocket, his stomach plummeting at the implication basically being confirmed.
"He had to have, even with Crouch's more harsh approach," Amelia' eyes tightened. "Everyone received a trial, no matter how clear-cut the evidence against them was. Dumbledore insisted on it."
"Then why is there not a trial transcript?" Moody asked, Amelia's expression closing off even more.
"I don't know, Alastor," the words were said soft and full of denial, though Moody felt the same way. It just wasn't possible that Black hadn't received a trial, despite his clear guilt.
"Where lays your loyalty, Amelia?" He found himself asking, clutching the second note in his pocket as they made their way into Level eight and he scanned the courtrooms with his magical eye to ensure they were truly empty before following Amelia into the first, where he knew the records and transcripts were kept.
"With the truth," she immediately replied and while any sensible person would've said the Ministry, Moody knew hers was the right one. He had trained her well. "Why?"
"Because someone else is implying the same thing," he pulled the second note out of his pocket, giving her a wry smile as she hesitated before accepting it.
"Prongslet?" Her eyes didn't betray any surprise at the words themselves, as they already had toyed with the possibilities, though she looked confused at the name.
"I have my suspicions as to who it is," a flash of dark hair and warm grey eyes laughing at a green-eyed baby and calling him a ridiculous nickname crossed Moody's mind, bringing back painful memories he had tried to bury deeply over the years.
"But you won't share those until you are absolutely certain," Amelia swallowed thickly. "Do you truly think it is possible?"
"We won't know for sure until we check the courtroom," unbidden, memories of those two youngsters flashed through his mind.
He remembered how he had almost destroyed the hospital wing with his anger and sheer disbelief at the revelation. The helplessness as two of the finest people he had ever known had been lost.
All set to leave and demand answers because what they were saying could not be true; it had been Albus who had cornered and informed him that the lad had been convicted at his trial, admitting to being a Death Eater and both betraying and killing his self-proclaimed family.
He had cursed Sirius Black to the ends of the world for giving in to the expectations, to have fallen onto the same path as his ancestors before him. He had wept silently for the boy he had known, had cared for deeply like a son, and had wondered what had driven such a fiercely loyal boy to betray the subject of his loyalty like that, though it had cemented to him, through the cracks of his devastated heart, that truly no bond was ever sacred after all.
For twelve years, he had refused to think of that lost boy, seeing only the traitor he had been revealed to be. But at this revelation, Moody could not help but remember that before that day, before Black had been convicted for his crimes, he would have laughed at the mere implication of him betraying James Potter.
But that was before his conviction, a conviction that suddenly didn't seem to exist and Moody's doubt was once more rearing; a tiny, truly tiny, beam of hope blossoming in his chest at the implications of the lad's innocence.
Was there a chance Moody had not been wrong to place his trust in the young Black Heir, had he been wrong to let his oldest friend stray him from doing the right thing and investigate matters for himself?
Could it be that there had been a misunderstanding or ulterior motives behind his arrest? Was there truly a chance Black was not as guilty of treason as he had seemed? A chance that such a bond truly was as sacred as it had seemed and they had all gotten it wrong?
"Do you remember how you felt when Black's treason was revealed?" He hadn't meant to ask the question out loud, but Amelia' expression tightened.
She took a long moment, sorting her thoughts, before answering. "I was just another Auror and hadn't worked with him actively, but I remember he was there when my f-family was targeted. He was part of the response team and saved my little brother's life, shielding Susan from several curses with his own body. He was my hero and it was devastating to learn he was a traitor."
She let out a wry laugh. "I remember how it was somehow worse to learn he had betrayed the Potters than to learn he had killed an old friend and twelve Muggles."
"It was," Moody agreed, thinking back to Albus' words. "Turn the book to Black's bloodline."
"Godfather and legal...he is Potter's legal guardian?" Amelia did as he asked, looking surprised.
"Yes, James named him as such even before the little lad was born," Moody said.
"But I thought Dumbledore was his guardian?"
"Apparently many do, himself included. Why would he think that if it is clearly Black who is Potter's guardian?" Moody wondered for a long moment if he was overly paranoid, but he couldn't forget the flash that had crossed his old friend's face and his meddling tendencies.
"Maybe, because there was no other guardian set up after Black's arrest, guardianship fell onto Dumble- no, if there was no guardian then the magical child protection services would have come into play," Amelia looked thoughtful. "And regardless of his status in the world, Potter would still have been a baby and rightfully fall into their care. But maybe the Ministry believed that it would be best for the child to be placed in Dumbledore's custody?"
"Despite the fact that Albus has no experience with caring for children below school age? Despite the fact that there is not a single blood relation between them?" Moody questioned. "Albus is my friend, but something's fishy there."
"It is odd," Amelia agreed, turning her attention back to the page. "But nonetheless this is proof."
"Proof of what?"
"That Black didn't get a trial. If he had been convicted, he would have been stripped of his guardianship. The fact that he was not, means he was not convicted," Amelia breathed out shakily. "He truly didn't receive a trial."
"Does it truly matter if he was convicted, if he was guilty?" Moody couldn't help but ask, wanting to gauge her reaction even as his heart shattered at the confirmation.
"Everyone deserves a trial," Amelia immediately shot back, looking scandalised, reminding Moody why he had decided to trust her.
But even so, her words stabbed at his conscious and guilt wormed its way into his entire being as he thought back on the person he had known for so long, the bright and fierce boy who fought with his heart and had always stood firm to defend others when needed. The boy he himself had clearly failed when he had been the one to need help, who he had abandoned to a life in hell.
"This is not your fault, you know?" Amelia seemed to read something in his expression and placed a hand on his arm. "You couldn't have known."
"No? I always investigate cases thoroughly," he cleared his throat, annoyed by the sudden thickness that seemed to be there. "I've always read every trial transcript, even when I have not been involved in the arrest. But I didn't for his."
"Because it was too close to home?" A knowing look was on Amelia's face, it had not been a secret how fond he had been of both boys.
"I didn't want to read about what he was revealing, what he had done and I had missed seeing lurking in the shadows," Moody sighed. "If I had, I would have known there had been no trial."
Amelia looked between the book and Moody, something clearly on her mind that she wasn't sure she should bring up.
"What is it?"
"Why are you bringing this up now? Why ask questions if he's guilty anyway?"
"Because I am not all that sure that he actually is," Moody admitted, finally speaking what was on his mind. "If there was one person who I believed to be trustworthy, it was Sirius Black. I've seen the kid in action repeatedly during the years. I've seen the strong bond between him and James Potter first-hand and always believed there was nothing that could break those two apart."
"I remember they were so close, almost like brothers," Amelia glanced down at the book again. "Well, I suppose they were quite literally brothers since the Potters adopted him. I never knew about that."
"It wasn't exactly common knowledge," Moody said. "Those two were tighter than tight and more than once they got hurt trying to protect each other. Hell, Black almost got killed trying to protect Potter's son. Yet not even three months later, he is revealed to have betrayed him and his family to You-Know-Who."
"That doesn't make sense," Amelia acknowledged, her expression darkening. "Do you think he might have been under a spell? A compulsion or the Imperius?"
"No, Black was too strong for one of those to take hold. Even the Imperius Curse rolled off of him like it was nothing."
"You think he was framed," it wasn't a question, though Moody still found himself confirming it without hesitation.
"Everything in me screams that he was," Moody tapped the book she was still holding. "If he was a Death Eater, then why did he kill You-Know-Who now? If he was a traitor, then why did he repeatedly put himself at risk to protect James Potter and his family? Why would he, one who had renounced his ancestry and openly befriended Half-Bloods and Muggleborn, turn his back on that all of a sudden?"
"Maybe the pressure of the public got to him, made him give up as he was being shunned and distrusted simply for his ancestry. And maybe Azkaban derailed him, made him lose his mind. He might have killed You-Know-Who for abandoning him? You are forgetting that aside from betraying the Potters, he also killed twelve Muggles and Pettigrew," but to Moody's surprise, Amelia didn't sound so sure of her own words.
"They say that he blew the whole street up, I am aware," something was nagging at Moody and he took a moment to try and figure out what it was as he thought back on what he'd learned about the event, this time making sure his own rage and despair at the lad's betrayal weren't clouding his every thought. "I knew Pettigrew. Guy was a coward even though he was part of the Order. Had to get his behind saved constantly by Black and Potter and was always hiding behind them."
"Does that mean he deserved to be killed?" Amelia asked as she skimmed through the thick books in the large bookcase before pulling one out and placing it on the table.
"No, it does not. But that is why it doesn't make sense, him tracking Black down or being killed like that."
"How did he find Black so easily in the first place? I remember the guy was brilliant at blending in on missions," Amelia mused.
"Better question, how did he know about it in the first place? The news didn't come out until early in the morning, yet Pettigrew confronted Black within two hours."
"He did?" Amelia seemed surprised by that. "I wasn't aware the arrest occurred within such a short time frame."
"Not many do. I overheard Aurors talking about it after I was released from St Mungo's. The reason there were so many victims and witnesses is because it was early morning rush hour when they confronted each other."
"He couldn't have tracked him that quickly, could he?" Amelia frowned.
"Not likely, considering Pettigrew was a lousy tracker at the best of times," Moody growled. "And Black was too good to have to resort to a Blasting Curse. If he was hiding and on the run, he wouldn't have gone into the public, he was too smart to be be cornered like that."
"So why did he blow up the whole street or get himself cornered? It doesn't add up."
"It never has."
"Then why have you never investigated?"
"Because I believed he had been questioned under Veritaserum at his trial and was convicted," Moody ran a hand through his hair. "It never occurred to me that he might not have had one."
"Crouch and Minister Bagnold were in charge back then, weren't they?"
"Yes, but Albus was Chief Warlock back then already," Moody swallowed, unable to believe his friend would have knowingly allowed someone to be sent to Azkaban without a trial. But even worse was the suspicion that was now leaking into his very being at his friend's actions. "Albus was the one who informed me Black already had been given a trial when I wanted to investigate the case and the one who told me that Potter had been placed in the care of his remaining family."
"Dumbledore did? But why...you think he was involved in it?" No one could ever claim Amelia wasn't sharp, Moody noted with distant pride.
"He might have been. Why would he keep me from investigating the matter if there was nothing fishy going on? Why would he take charge over the lad like that when I am fairly sure Black would have made arrangements in the event of his incapacitation?"
"Did he?" Amelia looked up from paging through the thick book and Moody sank down into a seat beside her, suddenly feeling bone-tired.
"Sirius Black never left anything to chance, never. When entrusted with the care of Potter's son, he would have taken every angle into account and made arrangements to ensure he would be provided with the care the child needed if he couldn't give it. I find it extremely difficult to believe there were none."
Something else nagged at him and he hesitated to bring it up.
"How did Albus know what happened so quickly? The news didn't come out until the morning, but then the lad had already been retrieved by him and Pettigrew confronted Black. How did he act so quickly and in such a short time period?"
"What do you mean; the lad had already been retrieved? The response team found the boy, didn't they?" Amelia looked utterly confused.
"No, Albus sent Hagrid to retrieve the child from the rubble that same evening already," Moody revealed, remembering the conversation he had had with the half-giant mere days after. "He was the one who saw Black at the scene as well, said he comforted him after learning the Potters were killed and argued with him over the lad's destination before taking him away to where Albus had told him to go. Even getting Black's motorbike to do so."
"Hagrid was there before Black was? Why would Black come there if he'd betrayed them?" Amelia frowned.
"Better question, how did Hagrid know to find the house? Because you might not be aware, but the protective charm did not lift until early morning, around the same time Pettigrew and Black confronted one another. It was destroyed when the ones it was meant to protect died, but the power behind the charm was so strong that it took hours before it actually vanished."
"Maybe Black told him the Secret...but that would defeat the purpose of them being in hiding so thoroughly. Point was that almost no one knew where they were hiding until it was already too late," Amelia sighed. "We will need to investigate this properly."
She looked down at the book. "And it is true; You-Know-Who is truly gone for good."
"So Black did kill him," Moody looked down at the note Amelia had placed on the table. "And I have a very good idea as to why."
"Yeah? Do share it with me, because I fail to see it."
"Potter," Moody held the piece of parchment up.
"Potter? Potter ran away from home and as far as I know, is currently missing."
"What if he is not missing, but with Black?"
"He would have killed him already," Amelia immediately blinked at her own words, realisation seeming to dawn on her. "Unless he is truly innocent and has taken the boy to safety, killing You-Know-Who to protect him?"
"I believe that is the most likely scenario, because I believe this note has been written by Harry Potter," Moody said.
"You see, when Potter and Black were young; they used these ridiculously odd nicknames for one another at times. I never understood what they meant, though."
"Your point being?"
"Black called Potter Prongs and after the child was born, he took to occasionally call the wee little lad Prongslet," Moody revealed.
"The one who wrote the note," Amelia stared down at it again. "It doesn't look like a child's handwriting."
"Black's handwriting never looked childish either. He could have helped him set it up, but I am fairly sure it is Potter who wrote it."
"Implying he probably is with Black right now, working with him to get him a trial," Amelia looked at him.
"You do not believe Potter was put under compulsions by Black?" Moody couldn't help but ask.
"Perhaps, but if so, it is a fairly useless way to get us to look into Black's trial and question things. Why would he make Potter write something like this and then send it to you? He couldn't have known you would bring this to my attention and not simply throw it away, could he? So what would be the point of Black doing this?"
"Because he believed me to be completely trustworthy," Moody swallowed thickly as he realised just why Black had chosen to have Potter send that note to him. And that stung even more than realising he might actually be innocent, because by sending him that note Black was clearly sending him the message that he trusted him. Despite everything, Black still trusted him to do the right thing and to help him. It was a heartbreaking honour to be trusted like that, regardless of his failure to have the lad's back.
"Potter doesn't know me, couldn't have since he was kept far from the Wizarding World. So Black had to have told him about me and where I stand or he never would have sent it to me."
"That would explain how he got his hands on this book. It is fairly old and rare, only Pure-Blood families own one."
"If he is with Black, which I believe to be true, than he is as safe as he could be. Going by the notion that we believe Black is truly innocent, of course. No one can penetrate the protections on Grimmauld Place but a Black heir."
"If he is indeed innocent, then why would he go there? From the stories I heard, he hated that place," Amelia pointed out.
"He did," Moody acknowledged. "But where else would he go that he knows is safe and could access without having to fear others finding him?"
"Good point," Amelia ran a hand through her short hair and made a copy of the register. "We will need to investigate this thoroughly and properly before letting any of it get out."
"I intent to. The whole way the note is set up tells me discretion is needed," Moody was aware that his voice was cold and hard, but to Amelia's credit, she only gave a nod.
"We will get to the bottom of this, I guarantee it. And I will not rest until justice has been given, no matter if it sets Black free, or finally gives him the trial he deserves."
Moody could only nod in agreement to her words; he wouldn't rest either until the truth had come out and he had made things right. He would not fail Sirius Black again.
¹ I am aware that Rowling has revealed that Sirius' birthday is on the 3rd of November 1959, but I've always seem him as the youngest of the Marauders, not the oldest. And because it would mess up my personal headcanon that the Potters adopted Sirius after he ran away from home, making him truly part of the family, I have decided to keep his birthday on the one I had set for him when I first began writing HP fanfiction; April 4th 1960. My apologies if this ruffles anyone's feathers, but it is done.
Also, despite it being revealed that James' parents were named Fleamont and Euphemia; I refuse to use those ridiculous names and they don't make sense to me. If Harry didn't have any family left in the Potters, then what happened to Dorea and Charlus' single son? Because you cannot tell me even he died much younger than is natural for wizards and there is no mentioning of him fighting in the war, at all. So despite it no longer being canon, I decided to keep using Dorea and Charlus instead. Once more, my apologies if this upsets you, but no...just...no.
¹ I am aware that Rowling has revealed that Sirius' birthday is on the 3rd of November 1959, but I've always seem him as the youngest of the Marauders, not the oldest. And because it would mess up my personal headcanon that the Potters adopted Sirius after he ran away from home, making him truly part of the family, I have decided to keep his birthday on the one I had set for him when I first began writing HP fanfiction; April 4th 1960. My apologies if this ruffles anyone's feathers, but it is done.
Also, despite it being revealed that James' parents were named Fleamont and Euphemia; I refuse to use those ridiculous names and they don't make sense to me. If Harry didn't have any family left in the Potters, then what happened to Dorea and Charlus' single son? Because you cannot tell me even he died much younger than is natural for wizards and there is no mentioning of him fighting in the war, at all. So despite it no longer being canon, I decided to keep using Dorea and Charlus instead. Once more, my apologies if this upsets you, but no...just...no.
Taking a deep breath, Harry readied himself to make his way up to Gringotts to meet up with his friends, Tiffy at his side.
"Harry nervous?" Tiffy smiled.
"A little, what if I mess up?"
"You won't, but Tiffy's here, too," she smiled reassuringly, reaching up to squeeze his wrist reassuringly and a wave of affection for the aged little elf flashed through him.
She reminded him so much of his godfather in her behaviour that he couldn't help but smile at her, grateful for her calm presence.
"Just for the record, you do remember that I warned you about my friends, right? And I don't know if Ron has the rat with him."
"Tiffy can handle herself. Tiffy used to work at Hogwarts when Siri was young, remember?"
"I do," and hadn't it been hilarious to learn the little elf had originally been a Hogwarts elf but had pretty much tricked his godfather into taking her into his service upon graduation because she wanted to take care of him.
He hadn't been aware house-elves were able to do something like that, but with almost three weeks worth of interactions between the two in his memories, he had quickly learned the old house-elf was both sly and very capable of getting what she wanted from both him and Sirius.
And often without even having to try too hard as Sirius clearly had a soft spot for her and usually complied with her wishes because it made her happy.
"Don't worry, Harry. Yous do fine," Tiffy patted his wrist one last time before respectfully falling back a step, trailing after him like a good house-elf should.
Despite his godfather's warnings, the sound and sight of her acting like a servant still bothered him, but he managed to hold his tongue as a familiar blur of brown crashed into him all of a sudden.
"Hey Hermione, Ron," nodding to Ron, who looked very freckly and as tanned as Hermione, he stepped back to Tiffy's side, unable to see the rat anywhere and noting with displeasure that his name had drawn several interested looks.
"Who's that?" Ron stared at Tiffy, snorting at her colourful outfit with disbelief, allowing Harry to ignore the people around them as he looked down at Tiffy fondly.
"This is the house-elf who works for my relative. She is accompanying me for my own protection today," Sirius had told him not to introduce Tiffy by name, just in case Pettigrew might remember it.
Harry had worried the rat would recognise her features, but Sirius had assured him very few people even registered the presence of a house-elf, let alone recognise the difference between them and Tiffy was much older than she'd been when they had met. As long as her name remained unknown, Pettigrew shouldn't be able to recognise her at all.
"Your relatives are Muggles."
"Turns out I've still got a living magical one; a distant cousin of my Dad's. Been staying there since leaving the Dursleys," it was technically not a lie as Sirius and his father had been cousins of some sort, though not quite as distant as he was now implying.
"I heard you blew up your aunt from Dad," Ron grinned. "Mum would've skinned me alive for that."
"How did he find you and why hasn't he come forward before?" Hermione raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms.
"This little one showed up when I was in trouble and brought me to him. He had no idea where I was, or he would've come for me much sooner," Harry raised an eyebrow at her in return, not really appreciating that she was demanding answers of him. "But how has your vacation been?"
"It was bloody amazing. Fred and George tried to leave Percy in one of the pyramids, but Mum caught on to them," Ron grinned. "She's hoping to see you tonight; we're staying at the Leaky Cauldron. Will you stay there as well so you can come to King's Cross with us tomorrow? Hermione's there as well!"
Hermione nodded. "Mum and Dad dropped me off this morning with all my Hogwarts things."
"I'm not sure," Harry looked down at Tiffy for help.
"Master left the choice with yous, young Master," she squeaked dutifully, blinking up to him, the picture of obedient innocence'; the expression reminding him eerily of Sirius whenever he was up to something. "But I's know he hoped he would see yous before you leave."
"I think I'll decide at the end of the day, see how it goes today," taking Tiffy's words into account as a reason to withhold an answer, Harry smiled. It was odd to hear the little elf suddenly speak so weirdly when all the Potter elves usually used proper sentences, but he knew it was all part of her act. "He's been really good to me these last three weeks and I would hate to be rude."
"You'll stay," Ron decided for him, pulling a long thin box out of one of the bags he was holding. "Look at this, brand new wand. Fourteen inches, willow and containing one unicorn tail-hair."
"Very nice," Harry nodded. "Have you got all your books already?"
"Yeah, the assistant at the bookshop nearly cried when we told him we wanted two copies of those Monster Books."
"He should caress their spines. My relative showed me how to calm it down enough so you can open it," he shrugged as two near identical gaping faces stared at him. "What?"
"You...how did he know that? I had to bind my belt around it just to keep it from eating me alive!" Ron said.
"I'm actually not entirely sure how he knew. He had a look at the electives I picked and at the realisation that Hagrid had sent it to me, he just poked the book and it fell silent," he nodded to Hermione. "How many books did you buy?"
"I'm taking a few more subjects than you, aren't I?" Hermione glanced at the three bulging bags she had dropped when she hugged Harry and now hurriedly collected them again. "Those are my books for Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, the Study of Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Muggle Studies..."
Harry noted Ron rolling his eyes at her and figured it had already been an argument between them so he didn't comment on it. "Good luck managing all those subjects. I've written to McGonagall to drop Divination and take on Arithmancy."
"Because apparently Divination is a load of crap, according to my relative. He showed me some Pensieve memories of the lessons and they truly did not look appealing so I switched electives," Harry couldn't stop a smile from spreading as he remembered the look of pure horror on his godfather's face at learning Harry had signed up for Divination the morning after they'd met.
The resulting rant of just why Divination was a horrible choice would be one Harry would always remember fondly, though he couldn't blame Sirius for his dramatic reaction; especially considering it had been a prophecy which had resulted in his parents' deaths.
"But I'm following Divination," Ron spluttered, looking sourly.
"If you write to McGonagall this evening, you might be able to change your elective as well. She accepted mine without any trouble after my relative wrote to her."
Ron grumbled something below his breath, but Harry ignored him as Hermione checked her purse. "Mum and Dad gave me some money to get myself a birthday present; I think I'd like an owl."
"There is a very nice magical creature shop at the end of Diagon Alley. I visited it when we were getting my books and my relative got himself this beyond ugly cat there," Harry advised her.
"While we are there, I need to get him checked over," Ron suddenly pulled Scabbers out of his pocket, previously unseen by his jacket and held him up. "I don't think...Harry!"
Not wasting any time to get into Gringotts now that he knew Pettigrew was present and in plain sight, Harry flicked his wand, from the wrist holster Sirius had given him, into his hand, deciding to use the curious crowd as witnesses.
"Homorphus," focusing on what Sirius had taught him, a blinding flash of light surrounded them and the rat immediately began to change as Ron dropped him with a startled cry.
Limbs grew out of the rodent, a man falling to the ground in place of where the rat had just been and Hermione shrieked even as Tiffy immediately rushed forward and disabled Pettigrew's ability to transform again.
He stared down at Pettigrew; who looked to be dazzled and confused by current, much fatter than he had even been in the memories Sirius had showed him and anger coursed through Harry.
This was the man responsible for leading his parents to their deaths; for framing Sirius to twelve years of hell for a crime he had committed instead.
"Don't bother trying to escape, Pettigrew," at his snarl, the man froze. Beady eyes locked onto him even as the people around them startled loudly at the name. "We won't let you."
He nodded at Tiffy; who bound Pettigrew before he could so much as twitch, the look of anger and disgust on her face unmistakable.
"Wh..." Ron gaped at Pettigrew while Hermione's eyes couldn't possibly get any wider, but Harry ignored them both as he held his wand trained at Pettigrew.
"Lift his left sleeve, Tiffy," he ordered and the little elf immediately did as asked, gasps echoing all around them as the Dark Mark was revealed for all to see despite Pettigrew's useless struggling. "Peter Pettigrew, as Heir of the Houses of Potter and Black, I demand you to stand trial for your deeds."
A spark of red magic surrounded Pettigrew and his eyes widened.
"I...I...y-you need to help me...h-he tried to kill me," Pettigrew stuttered as he seemed to realise Harry had bound his magic with his declaration for justice.
"Quite frankly, I'm pretty much at Sirius' side," Harry bit out. "After all, you were the traitor who sold out my parents to Voldemort and are the reason they are dead."
The man flinched, trembling fiercely as he shook his head. "N-no...S-Sirius w-was the Secret-Keeper, h- he was the traitor...he killed Lily and James and t-tried to kill me, too..."
"So I've been told. Point is, his memories don't quite agree with you there," Harry was surprised at how calm he managed to remain at the sight of the stuttering mess before him, a fierce hatred coursing through him at the traitor's words and attempt to blame Sirius for what he'd done once more. "Because you see, Sirius showed me the memory where he and my Dad decided to switch at the last moment, switching Secret-Keepers to ensure your safety. Switched to you so that you could keep my parents and me safe while Sirius acted as a decoy."
"It's an l-lie; he altered h-his memory."
"You cannot alter a Pensieve memory," a woman who had come closer spoke up, a frown on her face as she stared at Pettigrew. "If your elf can stop holding us back, we could take him into custody."
"Not just yet," Harry shook his head, glancing at Tiffy to see she was calmly holding all bystanders at a distance, even Hermione and Ron had been magically forced back and were gaping at the scene in shock. "Because you see, I'd like to get some things cleared up before I can allow you to take him away."
"Such as?" The woman raised an eyebrow.
"I will need some Veritaserum. Because I doubt he will tell me the truth to any of the questions I will ask otherwise and I've been made aware that the Ministry is pretty much useless when it comes to justice."
"Not always," a gruff voice Harry recognised from Sirius' memories spoke up and he looked up to see Moody make his way forward, stopping right at the invisible barrier Tiffy had set up. "The Ministry has failed horribly in the past, but we have been working really hard to set things right."
Moody nodded to the woman standing beside him, the one who had spoken before. "This is Amelia Bones; Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and from your lack of reaction, I'm pretty sure you know who I am."
"Alastor 'Mad-eye' Moody," Harry nodded, eyeing the man's various scars and the scary looking magical eye fixed on him. "Sirius told me about you, though he failed to mention the eye and didn't show me any memories with that in them. He said you got your nickname due to a glint you would get in your eyes, not that you had a magical one."
"He couldn't have, I didn't have it yet at the time he was arrested," Moody sounded remarkably calm about what was transpiring and Harry wondered just how aware the man had been of Sirius' innocence, if their little letter had made any change to the man's opinion of Sirius' guilt. "He and your father gave me that nickname for the reason he said, it just became a little more accurate after I lost my eye."
"Ah, he'll be delighted to see it's entirely appropriate now," Harry turned back to Pettigrew, who was now trembling in earnest, the sight of Moody apparently enough to make him terrified.
"I'm sure he will be," Moody reached into his pocket to pull out a bottle of clear liquid. "I always have Veritaserum with me, you may use it if you'd like."
"How do I know it is not poison and you're truly who you say you are?" Harry challenged, not entirely surprised to see utter delight in the man's eyes at his words as Sirius had told him the man always praised those who were vigilant.
"It is Veritaserum, Tiffy can identify if it is good. And the man is truly Alastor Moody," Tiffy piped up from her place beside Pettigrew. "But Tiffy is not leaving rat until truth is known."
"May I come closer?" It spoke for Moody's character that he asked the question to Tiffy; clearly realising she was the one holding everyone back. "I promise I will not jeopardise your operation."
"Siri trusts you," Tiffy's large eyes bored into Moody's. "Tiffy trusts Siri."
A single nod allowed Moody to step forward, into the protective circle. "Endanger Harry, Tiffy will maim you both. Endanger Siri's freedom and Tiffy will kill you slowly and as painfully as Tiffy can."
The dark promise below the squeaky voice was unmistakable and the battered man hesitated for just a second before nodding in acceptance, handing over the Veritaserum to Tiffy, who inspected it thoroughly.
"Veritaserum is good," Tiffy determined, holding it up to Harry. "Remember what Siri told you?"
"Three drops on his tongue, I remember," Harry nodded, stepping forward to do just that and managed without difficulty, Tiffy´s bonds holding Pettigrew in place.
"All right, state your name."
"Peter Pettigrew," a collective gasp once more travelled through the crowd rapidly forming around them, but Harry ignored them, turning to Moody. "Sirius told me to ask one of the Goblins to help me with the questions, but he also told me you were the best when it came to interrogating suspects and he trusts you. So since you are here, perhaps you could help make sure the right questions are asked?"
"I would be delighted to help. Are you a follower of Voldemort?" Moody turned to Pettigrew and only now could Harry see that the calm the man was displaying was just a front; his hands were balled in clear anger as he looked at Pettigrew.
"Yes," Pettigrew's formerly stuttering voice was suddenly flat and dull, his eyes glassy as he spoke and if Sirius hadn't prepared Harry for the effect, he'd probably have believed something was wrong.
"Are you a Marked Death Eater?" It was quite unnecessary to question that when his Mark was still visible, but Harry understood the thought behind it. By making him confirm it, they could eliminate any thought of it having been placed there and get that knowledge out in the open.
"Yes," murmuring broke out among those around them.
"Were you the Secret-Keeper to James and Lily Potter?"
"Yes," shocked muttering rose up in the crowd, but Harry ignored them.
"Explain exactly why you were the Secret-Keeper," Harry had to hand it to Moody, the man was thorough.
"Because Dumbledore claimed Sirius was too obvious a Secret-Keeper and Sirius agreed. He and James formed the plan to tell everyone he was the Secret-Keeper while in reality it was me."
"Why would he do that?" Moody raised an eyebrow.
"To ensure the Dark Lord would focus his attention on Sirius and I would remain hidden; James and Lily kept safe by the ruse."
"So you were the Secret-Keeper for the Potters?" Moody asked to clarify it once more.
"You were the one who betrayed them to the Dark Lord?"
"It would please my Lord; he had been targeting them specifically."
"You didn't care that they were your friends?" Moody growled.
"No," Pettigrew's glassy eyes were cold but calm as he revealed his utter indifference to the fate of his former friends and Harry had to hold his tongue to not lash out at the traitor.
"Tell us what happened after my parents were murdered," Harry ordered as Moody glanced at him.
"I realised Sirius would know I had betrayed James and ran away."
"Where did you run to?" Moody asked.
"I was going to run to a safe house and think over my options there."
"Was? Why didn't you?"
"Sirius managed to hunt me down and corner me before I could get there."
"He hunted you down?" Something akin to understanding flashed over Moody's eyes, as if something suddenly made sense to him and he glanced at Amelia for a moment, making Harry wonder what it was as the same look had fallen over her face before he realised they'd probably been wondering why Pettigrew had ever tried to corner Sirius as the general public believed had happened.
"What happened when he cornered you?" Harry felt cold sweat shoot down his spine at the sudden sharpness of Moody's voice.
"I knew I would not get away from him so I decided to frame him."
"Frame him how?" Harry was aware that the entire crowd had fallen silent enough that you could hear a needle drop, everyone staring down at Pettigrew in utter disbelief as the man admitted to his crimes, revealing Sirius was innocent.
"I knew he underestimated me, underestimated the abilities the Dark Lord's power had granted me so to get away I yelled out for everyone to hear that he had betrayed Lily and James before blowing up the street. In the resulting blast I cut off my finger to make it appear like I had been killed and transformed, escaping through the sewer."
"Transformed into your unregistered Animagus form," Harry chose his words carefully to not give Sirius' secret away.
"What is your form?"
"A rat," Harry was fairly sure he heard Ron whimper even as Hermione gasped, but he kept his back turned to his friends, his friends' distress not his priority right now.
"So let me get this right, you blew up the street; killing a dozen people and cutting off your own finger, just to escape Sirius Black?" Moody asked to clarify.
"Why not try to kill him?"
"I would not be a match for him, regardless if he was not trying to kill me."
"He wasn't trying to kill you? Why not?" Moody looked surprised at that.
"He wanted me to pay for my crimes. I knew him well enough to know he would not allow me the certainty of death, he would make sure I would suffer in Azkaban and not get off the easy way."
"So you framed him for your murders?"
"Yes, I knew that when the Aurors responded; they would only see his ancestry and Dumbledore would ensure he was punished for what happened."
"Dumbledore would ensure that? Why?"
"Because I was Dumbledore's secret weapon and he would not allow me to be captured to spill his actions," Harry's stomach clenched painfully at Pettigrew's admission.
When Sirius had said he didn't trust Dumbledore, Harry had taken the time to think his headmaster's actions through and that, combined with the stories his godfather told him had led him to believe Sirius was right. Too many things involving that man did not add up, but it was still difficult to hear their suspicions being confirmed.
"Dumbledore knew you were a traitor?" Moody didn't seem as shocked as he should at the revelation, a sort of resignation crossing his weathered features as he looked down at Pettigrew.
"Yes," any muttering going on died down again at that revelation as the crowd listened with bated breath.
"Since near the start."
"Alastor, is this the right place to question him about that?" Amelia spoke up, pale as a sheet as her eyes were transfixed on the crowd around them all.
"Perhaps not," Moody fixed Pettigrew with a glare as his magical eye travelled over the crowd, taking in just how big it had become. "Are you still all right there, little fellow?"
Tiffy's large blue eyes were filled with angry tears. "Siri's innocence known, Tiffy more than fine."
"Right, let me ask just one more thing, did Dumbledore know Sirius wasn't the Secret-Keeper?"
"Yes, James told him of the switch for Sirius' safety; in case something would go wrong so that someone would be able to confirm Sirius' innocence and keep him safe."
"W-was Dumbledore involved in condemning Sirius to Azkaban, despite knowing he was innocent?" Moody asked shakily as he clearly hadn't expected that answer.
"Yes, he promised me Sirius would be taken out of play, regardless of his guilt."
"Why?" Harry bit out; unable to keep the anger out of his voice at learning his Headmaster had knowingly condemned Sirius to Azkaban. Of all the things he'd suspected the man of, this was by far the worst.
"To get his hands on you," Pettigrew's glassy eyes turned to him. "Dumbledore wanted the power of the House of Potter and Black; Harry was the perfect way to get it."
"Why? With James' death, Harry would become Lord Potter at his coming of age, that's true. But how would it give him power over the House of Black?" Something in Moody's expression told Harry he already knew the answer to that and just wanted it confirmed which became clear when his expression tightened at the confirmation.
"Harry is Sirius' heir; has been since Sirius blood-adopted him the day he was born," the murmurs around them came up again after the silence that had followed the revelation of Dumbledore's involvement and Harry swallowed thickly before he realised something.
"Dumbledore knew you were alive?"
"We met in the safe house he had set up for me in case my cover was blown."
"What did you arrange there?" Moody swallowed.
"A safe place for me to stay; he arranged for a Wizarding child to find me in my Animagus form and I stayed with the family for all these years, passed down as a family pet."
So Scabbers finding his way into the Weasley families' household had not been pure coincidence, Harry noted dully.
"So that I could keep an eye out for a sign of the Dark Lord's return and inform him when that happened."
"Did it happen?" The question was an odd one and Harry frowned as he looked up to Moody, but the man's expression gave nothing away.
"Yes, almost three weeks ago, the Dark Mark began to burn before all the power the Dark Lord had given me disappeared."
"It was just gone, like the Dark Lord was truly gone."
"That would be around the same time that Sirius Black killed what was left of You-Know-Who, then," Amelia noted, seemingly unaware of the ripple of shock that washed over the crowd at the revelation that Voldemort hadn't been truly gone before.
"Indeed," Moody however, was not unaware as he waited for the shocked murmuring to quiet down again before he turned to Harry. "Do you have any questions left you want answered right now? Or can we take him into custody?"
"What will happen with him?" Harry asked.
"He will be taken to court and questioned more thoroughly at a trial; one you will be very welcome to oversee if you want to. But rest assured, he will pay for his actions and I will make sure Dumbledore will be going through the same process," Moody's voice was hard, the promise in it a guarantee so Harry nodded.
"And Sirius? What will happen with him?"
"He is cleared of all suspicion," Amelia spoke up as Moody turned to her. "I will see to it that his status is cleared. I am aware his reputation and good name have been dragged through the dirt, but I will personally see to it that the world will know the truth. I ensure you the Minister will publicly apologise for the horrific errors and incompetence done to him and he will receive compensation for his wrongful imprisonment. Also, any treatment or care he might need will be given at the expenses of the Ministry."
"That's the least the Ministry can do," a goblin muttered just loud enough for them all to hear, making Harry realise there were half a dozen of them present just outside of Gringotts, following the events. "We shall seize Albus Dumbledore's and the Pettigrew vaults for the time being; and after their convictions for their crimes, Lord Black will have control over them to handle them as he sees fit."
"Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to make this right," Amelia promised and Moody nodded.
"Since being made aware of the fact that Sirius Black did not receive a trial three weeks ago; and that he had killed You-Know-Who, we have been working non-stop to find every shred of evidence we could to back up your claim. We had already confirmed Sirius had not received a trail twelve years ago and were working on setting that right," he paused as the crowd almost gasped in unison at the confirmation that Sirius had indeed not received a trial and frowned at them disapprovingly for a moment before turning back to Harry.
"I had my suspicions that things did not make sense and am very sorry I did not investigate things properly years ago. For that I can only give my deepest regrets that I hope you will pass on to him."
"Uh, all right?" Harry wasn't sure how to respond to that. "You're not going to demand he turns himself in?"
"No," Amelia shook her head. "Even aside from the fact that I'm pretty sure your friend here will sooner snap our necks than allow us near Lord Black, he is not a wanted man anymore and we have no reason to demand him to turn himself in."
"Why do you call him Lord Black?" Harry asked despite already knowing the truth. He figured that while he was at it, he should make sure Sirius' status in the Wizarding world was very known. "Arcturus Black is the current Lord Black, isn't he?"
"No, Arcturus Black passed away two years ago and since Sirius was his Heir, he became the current one," Moody explained. "I don't know if you know, but since he was never convicted of anything, he also never lost guardianship over you."
"I'm aware of that," Harry nodded, knowing Sirius was already aware of that but would still be happy to get it confirmed that the Ministry recognised his status as Harry's legal guardian without any trouble. It was something Harry was very happy about as well as he had grown to love his godfather very much. "He took me in three weeks ago after I ran away from the Dursleys."
"So you've been with Black all this time," it wasn't a question but Harry still found himself confirming it.
"Yes, we ran into each other as he'd been trying to find me and has been taking care of me ever since, saying it was his job to do so."
"And this whole event?" Moody waved a hand towards Pettigrew, Tiffy and the crowd around them.
"Set up by Sirius and me. We knew where Pettigrew was hiding so it was just a matter of setting the trap and closing it at the right time. I was technically supposed to reveal him in Gringotts so I could ask for the sanctuary of the Goblins to help me, but I couldn't take the chance he might realise something was up and acted sooner than planned."
"I think that under the circumstances you did very well. How did you know where Pettigrew was hiding?" Moody looked at him curiously.
"Sirius recognised Pettigrew on a photo in the Daily Prophet that he received in Azkaban. The Minister gave it to him after he asked for it; claiming he was bored and missed the crossword puzzles," Harry slipped the article from his pocket and handed it over.
A sudden bark of laughter broke free from Moody at his words and a wry little smile formed on Harry's lips without his consent at the man's reaction as it was suddenly very clear to Harry just how well Moody had known his godfather to find that funny.
"Utterly insane," Amelia shook her head in disbelief even as Moody kept chuckling.
"He is, but it is such a Sirius reaction that it is just priceless. He always did like those crossword puzzles," Moody sobered as he looked down at the photo. "He must have recognised Pettigrew immediately and knowing he'd be near you and ready to strike would spur him into action."
"It did," Harry confirmed. "He escaped prison because he knew I was in danger and he was the only one who knew the truth."
"That is the Sirius I used to know all right. Even when the whole world is working against him, he still finds a way when cornered," Moody's expression tightened as he stared through the crowd.
"Moody?" Following the man's pained gaze, Harry turned to see a familiar face stand amidst the crowd, devastated light green eyes staring at Pettigrew in utter horror.
"Moony," Harry swallowed thickly.
Harry could see the years had not been too kind to Remus Lupin; his hair already greying despite his still young age and his face lined with very noticeable scars.
"Remus, why don't you come with me?" Harry's attention was drawn by Moody as the man stepped out of the protective circle to retrieve the clearly shocked man, getting no protest as he pulled him into the protective barrier without trouble.
"He...Moody...he...S-Sirius..." Remus looked up at Moody as the man kept a firm grip on his shoulder to guide him, eyes widening as he seemed to register him properly.
"I know, Remus, I know," Moody squeezed his shoulder as he guided him past Pettigrew.
"Remsie?" Tiffy clearly recognised him as easily as Harry had, stepping closer to Harry's side as the two approached again, though he wasn't entirely sure if it was a protective gesture or just automatic as she had allowed him entrance into the barrier.
The man turned to her and Harry realised Sirius had truly been right; even Remus didn't recognise the house-elf as he almost immediately dismissed her to stare at Pettigrew again.
"Remsie not recognise Tiffy?" The elf's ears dropped a little but at the name Remus' attention snapped back to her; and the devastation in his eyes intensified as he finally recognised her.
"Tiffy...I... is Sirius all right?"
"Siri fine," Tiffy assured him. "Why did Remsie not come forward before?"
"I didn't...I arrived during the ...the..."
"Interrogation?" Moody offered and Remus nodded.
"Why...why did you betray us all?" The pain and anger in his voice were unmistakable as he turned to Pettigrew, seemingly not even noticing Harry.
"I was jealous of the power Sirius and James had but neglected. They could have become so much, but choose to do nothing with their power," Harry had forgotten Pettigrew hadn't received the antidote yet, but made no move to stop the traitor from answering the question asked.
"What do you mean by do nothing?" Moody asked.
"They preferred to stay at home or get lowly jobs; answering to others when they could have taken over the Wizarding World with their abilities. They could rule without a problem, rise wizards up to where they belong, but didn't."
"You betrayed our brothers for power?" Remus' voice was shaky and full of disbelief. "You gave up the best thing we've ever had, out of jealously? We loved you like a brother; James and Sirius always took care of you. How could you..."
He abruptly cut himself off as he choked on a sob and he turned away. "I believed Dumbledore...I didn't...oh Merlin, I never even questioned him."
"We all believed Dumbledore when he told us Black was guilty," Amelia sighed.
"But I abandoned him to that hell...I should have known."
"We all should have known things didn't add up," Moody squeezed his shoulder. "I am fairly sure Sirius will forgive you."
"He does," Harry spoke up. "I learned about you through his stories and he told me that if Dumbledore told you something, you would never question it because you had such great faith in him."
"Harry..." it seemed like Harry's presence was only now truly registering as well as Remus stared at him. "You're...you truly think he will forgive me?"
"Yes, I'm sure he will," a tiny seed of anger formed into Harry's chest as he spoke, sure Sirius would have moved heaven and hell if their roles had been reversed and Remus had been the one chucked into Azkaban. "But my Dad wouldn't have and neither do I. He was left in that hell for twelve years because not even his closest friends could look past his surname and question one man's word or actions. Dad would have burst into Azkaban itself if he had still been around to learn of what had befallen his brother, he'd not have taken anyone's word for granted."
Both men flinched at his harsh words, clearly knowing they deserved them and Remus' eyes shone alarmingly as Harry spoke about what his father would have done, telling him Sirius had been telling the truth about what his father's would be actions and hadn't just tried to comfort him.
"But that's us. Sirius hasn't spoken with malice about either of you so I am pretty sure he will be all noble and forgive you both for just abandoning him," Harry looked at Remus. "What he won't forgive you for is leaving me with the Dursleys when you knew they hated everything to do with magic."
"Dumbledore said it was the best place for you..." Remus' teeth clenched at his own words. "I believed him."
"What a surprise," Harry raised an eyebrow. "Funny thing is that the Headmaster of a school should have had no say in any of what happened as he's just that, a Headmaster. As my appointed guardian, you and McGonagall should've challenged him and demand I was handed over into your care."
"Appointed...I wasn't your guardian, Sirius was," Remus looked confused.
"He was, but he had it arranged that if anything were to happen to him that would leave him unable to care for me, custody was to be given to you and McGonagall."
Remus looked utterly shocked at that revelation, though Moody shot a triumphant look at Amelia.
"Told you he would have taken precautions."
"Yes, you did," Amelia rolled her eyes fondly. "I promise you, Mister Potter, we will investigate this properly."
"You will go against Dumbledore?" Harry asked surprised.
"He is currently in the custody of the Ministry for questioning regarding his involvement of Sirius Black's illegal imprisonment, since as the Chief Warlock, he should have enforced a trial and by not doing so he broke the laws he swore to uphold. We will ensure to go much further in depth with our questions to ensure the full truth will be revealed."
Harry had almost forgotten about the crowd around them, only noticing them as Hermione startled violently somewhere to his right and she wasn't the only one. It occurred to him that Tiffy had ensured their reactions wouldn't disturb them, as he could see several people talking, but couldn't hear any of it. A quick glance at Tiffy confirmed his suspicion as she calmly stood beside Pettigrew, guarding him while watching events unfold.
"Back up for a moment," Remus' shock had shifted into bafflement, not paying their surroundings the least bit of attention as he focused on Harry completely. "You mean to say that Sirius wanted me to take care of you; as in made me your guardian should something happen to him?"
"You and McGonagall, yes. Joined custody because he assumed the Ministry would balk at you having full custody on your own."
"But he thought I was the traitor, didn't he?" Remus gaped at him when Harry shook his head. "But...he didn't tell me of the switch."
"To protect you. It would likely prevent you from being tortured for information before they killed you if captured."
If anything, the devastation on his face intensified tenfold and Harry knew it had been the wrong thing to say to a man who already felt guilty, but couldn't find it in himself to regret his words.
The man deserved to feel like this after leaving one of his dearest friends to suffer for twelve years.
The rational part of his brain told him he would probably have believed Dumbledore's word as well, but his heart told him that if it had been Ron or Hermione; he would have demanded to face them and learn the truth directly from them.
So he let him wallow in his guilt for a bit, simply because he didn't think Sirius would and suddenly thought of something else he would like to have cleared up now that the chance was there.
"Can we go inside now? There is something more private I still want to clear up that is not intended for everyone to hear," at least part of it wasn't, because as mad as he was at Remus now; he knew Moony was a secret no one wanted to get out to the general public.
"Of course," Moody eyed the crowd as the Goblin from before indicated they should follow him so Moody manhandled Pettigrew into a standing position and led him inside, Remus and Harry following while other Goblins came forward to keep the crowd from trying to follow them when Tiffy's shield shifted.
"Harry?" Tiffy's voice had Harry turn enough to realise Hermione and Ron were among those trying to follow and he knew he owed them an explanation.
"They can join if they want, as long as they keep quiet and out of the way while we're still busy," the last part was directed at his friends and although both looked annoyed, neither protested and the Goblins let the two through.
"You can interrogate him further inside here," the Goblin offered.
"Thank you, I didn't catch your name," Harry apologised as everyone entered and Tiffy dropped the shield.
"Gornuk. It is my pleasure to help and rest assured, anything discussed in here will remain between us."
"Why are you helping him?" Amelia raised an eyebrow warily as Moody pushed Pettigrew in a chair and Hermione and Ron shuffled to the far end of the room to remain out of the way. "No offence, but there's not really a profit to be made in helping him, is there?"
"Sirius Black is a treasured friend of the Goblins; of mine. He and James Potter have always done right by the Goblin community, treating us with respect. It is a matter of pride to return some of their kindness and help their Heir in his attempt to restore an innocent man's honour," Gornuk turned to Harry. "Tell your guardian that if he ever needs help, he should remember that he is always welcome at Gringotts and among the Goblin community."
"I will, thank you, Gornuk," giving the Goblin a small nod, he turned to Pettigrew. "Who told Snape where to find Remus on a full moon back in your fifth year?"**
"I did," everyone in the room startled at those words and Harry didn't miss how Ron flinched back from Remus as the man abruptly turned from where he'd been keeping to the side near him.
"Because I wanted to be tough like Sirius and James."
"Tell us the full story, from the events that led up to the Prank," Harry commanded, using the opportunity to clear Sirius' name of one more thing now that he had the chance.
"Two weeks before the full moon, we were in the library when Sirius suddenly pulled Remus away without an explanation. Turned out he was transforming without the presence of a full moon. Sirius locked them both up in an unused classroom while James and I were to create a diversion."
"Why did he transform without a full moon?" Amelia eyed Remus, though there was more curiosity than animosity in her eyes.
"James believed it was a combination of the partial solar eclipse that happened that day and an unknown liquid Snape spilled over Remus that morning at breakfast."
They all looked at each other confused so Harry decided to clarify things with what Sirius had told him. "They looked into it after it happened but there was no record of any other werewolf transforming during the eclipse and no records of attacks in the Muggle world either."
"I see. How did you create a diversion," Moody asked as Remus seemed unable to speak, staring between Harry and Pettigrew uncertainly as he clearly didn't see where this was going.
"We were supposed to Polyjuice as them; make people see them while Sirius kept Remus in that room."
"Were supposed to?" Moody noted.
"I did, James' change went wrong as it turns out you cannot Polyjuice a werewolf."
"I could've told you that," Remus muttered but Moody ignored him.
"James ordered me to be seen while he tried to undo his change. I was to walk around and be seen, but not to speak to anyone. But I ran into Snape and couldn't resist attempting to talk back when he sneered at me."
"Sneered at Sirius, you mean."
"Yes, he told me he would find out where the half-breed hid every month and would expose him for all to see."
"What did you do?" Remus whispered and although Harry was fairly sure it hadn't been meant as a question as realisation entered his horrified eyes, Pettigrew still answered.
"I told him that if he wished to see a fully grown werewolf so badly, he should just knock on the base of the Whomping Willow with a stick and enter the hidden tunnel and he would."
"And you said this while Polyjuiced as Sirius?" Remus swallowed thickly.
"Did you tell your friends of what you had done?" Moody asked.
"Not until the actual full moon two weeks later and James ran to stop Snape."
"Stop him from what?" Amelia bit out.
"Being killed by Moony or worse; Sirius getting harmed trying to prevent him from doing so."
"Because Sirius is an Animagus as well; and spent the full moon with him, didn't he?" Harry's heart stopped, his desire to find justice for his godfather having now also endangered him by exposing his secret.
Cursing himself he wondered how he could have been so stupid to get reckless, but Moody placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile even as Pettigrew confirmed it.
"And you never told anyone the truth?"
"No, Sirius took the blame for what I'd done, so Remus would never find out what had occurred two weeks before that."
"The assassination attempt on the bridge, and my memory loss due to the fall were all a lie?" Remus ran a hand through his hair, clearly distressed and angry.
"Yes, they made that up to explain both of your injuries away without anyone finding out what had truly happened."
"To prevent anyone from knowing I had been the one hurting Sirius," Remus spat out.
"Yes, until he managed to knock you out."
"Which he had to do with force and resulted in the loss of any recollection of that event," Harry added.
"Why did you not reveal the truth?" Remus snapped at Pettigrew.
"I was scared and didn't dare to. And after the full moon, James forbade me from speaking about it to anyone altogether."
"He let Sirius take the blame for what you did? Why?"
"Because the truth would endangered your safety and hurt you."
"Sirius took the blame to protect me. You let him take the fall for your actions and I didn't question it. Despite knowing how protective and loyal he was I simply believed what I was told," Remus choked. "I failed him; even back then."
"You did," Harry admitted. "But to be fair, I'm fairly convinced both my father and Sirius were very good liars when they needed to be."
"How do you even know about all of this?" Moody turned to Harry.
"Sirius told me in an attempt to deflate my anger at Remus for abandoning him. Told me he had reason to believe he had actually betrayed them because he was under the impression he had done so before."
"Self-sacrificing idiot," Moody growled even as Remus turned away, tears shining in his eyes.
"Any other shocking revelations to be made, or can I take this worthless piece of scum into custody?" Amelia looked as affected by what had been told as the rest of them.
"Not that I know of," Harry turned to Tiffy, but she shrugged and shook her head. "What happens now?"
"I will push through an extra late evening edition of the Daily Prophet to declare Black's innocence; though it will have to wait until after we've finished questioning Pettigrew completely and questioned Dumbledore more properly."
"Just be sure we are the ones questioning him; or is there a way to rig his memory so that Sirius' secret remains just that and won't be discovered by the wrong people?" Moody asked Tiffy.
"Tiffy can do that," the little elf nodded, snapping her little fingers. "Ask him."
"Is Sirius Black an Animagus?" Moody immediately did as asked.
"No," there was no change in Pettigrew's slack expression as he answered, though Harry wasn't sure if that was due to the potion or because he wasn't surprised by his own answer as he didn't know any better.
"Then how did he keep Mister Lupin company on the full moon?" Amelia asked curiously.
"Behind his specialised barrier. He used it repeatedly to keep Moony focused on him and not hurt himself in boredom."
"That is actually true, it's how Sirius always kept me company before fifth year," Remus confirmed softly.
"Huh, that's a neat trick," Moody raised an eyebrow, turning to Amelia. "Do you have a problem with withholding this piece of information?"
"I have no idea what piece of information you are talking about, do you?"
"Goblins do not reveal their clients' secrets," Gornuk calmly said as Amelia turned to him. "Lord Black is a respected client of Gringotts and any secret revealed in these walls will remain with us."
"That's good," Harry breathed out, relieved his stupidity had not endangered his godfather's safety.
"I would like to meet with him soon, if that is possible. Perhaps I could come visit in four days time to discuss things?" Moody asked.
"You can't enter the wards without our permission," Harry warily said, not sure if bringing Moody to their home would be a good idea even if the man was on their side.
"I am aware, but if he glances out of the window at around, say noon, he'll see me standing there and can allow me entrance."
"Us," Amelia interjected, "A Ministry official needs to be present as a representative, to arrange all the paperwork and sadly, you are officially retired."
"Neither of you is coming anywhere near Sirius," Harry cut them off, uncomfortable with the idea of letting anyone near his godfather, regardless of their cooperation. "Not unless I've seen solid proof that he's actually a free man."
"Of course," Amelia smiled. "But after that, we will need to meet up with him to sign papers and work on reinstating him."
"I will think about it and discuss it with him, no promises, though."
"Understandable," Moody sighed. "Though I'm fairly sure he is perfectly capable of forcing us out of Grimmauld Place if he wishes, should we cross a line."
"We're not staying there," Harry frowned. "Sirius hates that place, what makes you think he would ever willingly go there?"
"Where else would he go?" Harry felt a flash of annoyance at the man's presumption that Sirius wouldn't have a home to go to aside from the place that had brought him so much pain and misery.
"Potter Manor. But he could've gone to any of the other Potter houses. He is a Potter after all and has full access to them all. He went home to where he belongs," Harry bit out, satisfied as Moody flinched.
"That's true," Remus cleared his throat. "But he hasn't been to the Manor since your grandparents were murdered."
"I am aware of that," Harry wasn't willing to say more with others present and Moody seemed to sense it in his voice as he nodded to Amelia.
"We should get a move on if we want to manage a late night edition. If you could ask Sirius to allow an owl coming from me entrance through the wards, I can contact him that way to discuss things further."
"I'll see to it," Harry promised, though he wasn't quite sure how Sirius would be able to know which owl was Moody's. But he knew better than to comment on that as Sirius had taught him it was always wiser to let people think you knew more than you did so they'd reveal things much more easily.
He wasn't sure it applied among friendly people as well, but he wasn't going to take a chance and let anyone use his ignorance against him if he could prevent it.
"Thank you. Could we use your fireplace to transport him to the Ministry? I don't want to risk travelling outside again to Apparate him with us," Moody turned to Gornuk.
"Certainly. I will bring you to the warded Floo in the Director's office for this occasion, it is secure."
"Thank you, we will be in touch," Moody nodded to Harry while manhandling Pettigrew to his feet, the man not resisting at all.
But while Amelia quickly left her owl address with Tiffy before taking Pettigrew's other arm and led him outside, Remus hesitated.
"Gornuk, may we make use of your hospitality for a little while longer?" Harry asked and the Goblin nodded.
"I will return after I've seen them off to see how far you are. I am quite sure you have some explaining to do after what happened."
"I do, thank you. Sirius told me about what happened to my grandparents because I remembered pieces and asked him for the full story," Harry admitted once the others had left.
"You remember pieces?" Harry was fairly sure devastation was becoming a permanent fixture on the man's face; his light green eyes clouded in pain, self-hatred and sadness and he finally took pity on the man.
"I don't remember them, but when we arrived at the house I remembered Sirius screaming and that he was hurt so Dad told me I had to be extra careful with him."
"You remember James?" Remus' voice dropped to a whisper, emotions once again getting the better of him.
"Yes. Mum and Dad both have been getting more and more clear since meeting Sirius and him telling me stories about them; though I remember Sirius the clearest. Sirius says it's probably because his presence keeps triggering new old memories while I only have the old ones of my parents. But I remembered Sirius immediately when we ran into each other."
"You were always crazy about him, so I'm not surprised that he would be the one you remembered," Remus gave a wry laugh. "Potters have always been smitten with him so it's nice to see that has not changed since you clearly care a lot about him."
"He is a very lovable person," Harry shrugged. "Would you like me to pass some kind of message on to him?"
Harry wasn't willing or trusting enough to bring the man home with him, not after all what had happened, regardless of what Sirius might say. But he was willing to give him the chance to start making amends since he was clearly shaken by all that had been revealed.
"I...would you be willing to pass a note? There's too much I want to say that...I ..." it seemed like Remus understood his wariness as something flashed through his eyes and he patted his pockets. "I just need to...thank you, Tiffy."
Accepting the Muggle pen and paper the little house-elf provided, he immediately hurried to the table.
"Take your time, I will need some time to explain things to my friends anyway," forcing himself to finally face his friends, Harry left his family's old friend to his note. "I assume you will have questions?"
Both Ron and Hermione stared at him for a long moment before they seemingly realised they were allowed to speak now.
"What just happened? Scabbers..."
"Was in reality an Animagus in hiding; a Death Eater and murderer by the name of Peter Pettigrew."
"Who was thought to have been killed by Sirius Black, but wasn't," Ron nodded. "I got that much...but this...what did you do?"
"I exposed him for the traitor he is," Harry shrugged.
"Did the Ministry really lock a man in jail without giving him a trial? And was...was..."
"Dumbledore was aware of that, yes," Harry still found it difficult to believe it despite having had his doubts about the man before, so he was not surprised Hermione seemed to be devastated by the revelations that had happened; not with how she had worshipped the man.
"And Black is your legal guardian?" Ron checked after he had explained everything that had happened to them properly and as fully as he could, only leaving things out that were clearly personal.
"Yes, my parents named him my godfather."
"You said you were staying with a distant relative," Hermione huffed annoyed.
"I am. Technically he is my father's cousin several times removed, so a distant relative to me. But since my grandparents adopted him as their son, he is also my Uncle," Harry winced. "Don't let him hear I referred to him as my Uncle, though. He is thoroughly unimpressed with the Dursleys as it is and won't take kindly to being called anything that reminds him of them, even if it were to be said in a whole different meaning."
"If he hates your relatives, I think I might actually like him," Ron grumbled. "But if he's been in Azkaban for the last twelve years, is he ...well...safe?"
"What do you mean?" Harry had a pretty good idea as to what his friend meant, but he tried to squash his rising anger with the knowledge that he didn't know Sirius and it was a legit question.
"Well, I mean...I don't know what you know about Dementors, but they... eh," Ron looked towards a hurriedly scribbling Remus uncomfortably.
"I know what their effect is," Merlin knew he'd seen the results of the nightmares Sirius had during the night, even if he never heard a sound, he still saw several tell-tales signs of a man having gone through hell, but that was none of their business. "But I can assure you that Sirius is both fine and sane."
A strangled choked snort from Remus' side made Harry's mouth twitch as he considered his words and rephrased himself. "As sane as a man who became an Animagus to keep his werewolf friend company and offered his own safety to protect his family can be at least."
Ron shifted uncomfortably, glancing at Remus nervously as the man made a humming sound of acknowledgement at that.
"He sounds like he's a troublemaker," Hermione glanced at him confused and her eyes travelled to Remus as well before dismissing him, clearly not understanding Ron's behaviour.
Harry was sad to see Ron act so clearly prejudiced towards something Remus couldn't help, but it did not surprise him as Sirius had told him most people were like that. At least Hermione didn't seem to care in the slightest.
"From what I've heard so far, you can compare him to Fred and George. He played pranks and has a great sense of humour when the situation is right for it," Harry smiled at Hermione's horrified face, clearly picturing a rule breaking deviant.
"He was also the brightest student of his time and one of the most talented wizards I've ever met," Remus spoke up as he tapped his pencil on the table. "Both of your parents were quite brilliant as well, especially your dad."
"So Sirius told me," Harry smiled. "Though he also admitted they could be complete idiots when they set their minds to something stupid."
"Oh yes, they got into trouble more times than I can even remember," speaking about their time at Hogwarts seemed to cheer Remus up a little.
"Sirius told me a lot about the adventures of the Marauders and about my parents," Harry offered.
"He knew them best," Remus' expression tightened again as he swallowed. "I'm sorry..."
He didn't specify exactly what he was sorry for, but Harry had the feeling it was meant for everything he had not done when he should have and nodded.
"I'm not the one you should apologise to."
"I know," Remus folded the long piece of parchment, sealing it before coming over. "I've included my address, if...should...would he be willing to reply, he can find me there."
The man sounded utterly insecure as Harry accepted the letter and pocketed it, though it didn't stop his eyes from taking Harry in completely as if he was sizing him up.
Ignoring the man's curiosity as best as he could as he was fairly used to people staring at him, Harry turned back to his friends. "I'm sorry I dragged you into this like I did without warning."
"That's all right, you had a good reason," Hermione admitted. "I would have liked to know what was going on, but I realise a warning might have ruined everything. Ï assume you won't be staying at the Leaky Cauldron tonight?"
"No, I am going home tonight, but we'll see each other at the tra...what?" both Ron and Hermione had startled at his words.
"Nothing..." Ron mumbled but Hermione's eyes were wide.
"You've never referred to a place as home. This Sirius Black...he makes you happy, doesn't he?"
"Happier than I have ever been. He is a good man."
"I would like to meet him some day," Hermione smiled. "You look happier than I have ever seen you, healthier as well."
"And you are dressed in much finer clothes than ever," Ron noted, eyeing his clothes properly now.
"Sirius took me shopping while we've picked up my school supplies, it's how he got himself a cat," Harry smiled, remembering how the ugly ginger ball of fur had jumped Sirius as soon as they'd entered the Magical Menagerie. The animal had apparently looked right through his disguise and decided he liked what he sensed and refused to be moved no matter how much the owner had tried to pull him off.
"Sirius has always loved cats," Remus noted. "And cats love him."
"I got the feeling most animals are rather fond of him," Harry smiled as Remus' eyes widened; though this time in mirth as he was clearly aware of what Harry was referring to and from Sirius' stories he knew the man was aware of how animals seemed to be drawn to Sirius regardless if domesticated or not. "But the cat definitely won as Sirius took him home."
"I'm not surprised," Remus smiled. "Your father always enjoyed parading him in front of animals while at the zoo to see how they'd react to him, it usually left caretakers gob-smacked and us in stitches."
"So I've been told," Harry said and Remus eyed him once more before a small smile broke through on his still sad face.
"You know, you remind me a lot of him."
"Of Dad?" Harry asked.
"No. Well, you look like your dad and have your mother's eyes, but the way you hold yourself and how you act...I can see Sirius in you there."
Used as he was to people telling how much he looked like his father, Harry had never heard anyone say he had traits from his godfather as well and pleased he allowed a smile to cross his own lips. "Thanks."
"Thank you for allowing me to be here, for..." Remus swallowed thickly and Tiffy took pity on him as she spoke up.
"We should go before Siri breaks his promise due to worry."
"He promised to stay put if I took you along with me," Harry protested; even though he knew it had been difficult for the man with all that was at stake and the possible danger Harry put himself in.
"I'm surprised he's not secretly followed you," Remus remarked.
"He wanted to, but we knew Gringotts cancels any spell or Disillusion Charm in place and that would leave him both exposed and in danger so we managed to talk him out of that. Though he insisted to draw runes on me that will activate automatically should any trouble arise. It'll transport me directly to his side while protecting me from most attacks," Harry admitted; eyeing Hermione warily as she immediately stared at his body interested, clearly wanting to see them, but Remus only smiled.
"Sounds like something he would do, always was quite good with Runes."
"So I noticed. I will give him the letter and I have no doubt he will contact you soon," Harry promised as he patted his pocket, nodding to Gornuk as the Goblin re-entered the room. "We are done, thank you for extending the room the use of the room for us a little while longer."
"No problem, Mister Potter. Give my regards to Sirius, would you?"
"I will," turning to his friends, Harry shook hands with Ron and managed to avoid being squeezed by Hermione by quickly giving her a short hug. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah, what in the bloody hell am I going to tell my parents, though. Mum'll be livid," Ron sighed.
"Tell them to wait for the Prophet," Remus advised. "She might hear things beforehand through gossip as there were a lot of people in that crowd, but technically all you have heard in here is confidential information until the paper comes out. Your father works for the Ministry, doesn't he?"
"He'll understand that neither of you can talk about it before that and will keep your mother off your back. It might please her if you mention that you've met and conversed with your possible future teacher for a while, making a good impression."
"Future...you're going to teach Defence this year?" Ron eyed him, still warily but noticeably less so than before.
"I was supposed to, though Dumbledore appointed me and since he has been arrested and is no longer in charge, I will have to contact Professor McGonagall to see if that's still on the table. Knowing her, she will want to get into contact with Sirius as well, though. She always was very fond of him and your father."
"He is already corresponding with her," Harry allowed. "He wrote to her the morning after I arrived to clear up some misunderstandings and change my electives and apparently she recognised the paper he was writing on as belonging to the house of Potter."
"How would she recognise that so easily?" Remus frowned.
"She used to correspond with my grandparents during my Dad's time at Hogwarts. She wrote back; apparently having realised Sirius was there with me since I was at a Potter house and she is aware of his innocence and was actually our backup plan should today fail. Since Ron would take Scabbers to Hogwarts if I didn't get a chance to reveal it all here, she would stage a confrontation there for all the students to see to get Sirius cleared."
"And she told us you would be teaching Defence this year and I know Sirius hoped to be able to contact you there after everything was cleared up. I hope giving him a letter from you now already will be a pleasant surprise since we weren't expecting you to be here today."
"I wasn't going to be here, but McGonagall sent me a request to pick something up at Gringotts around noon since she couldn't make it; though I am now fairly sure it was a set-up to get me here to witness this," Remus actually chuckled. "I will have to thank her for that."
"Yeah," Harry smiled. "Well, I will see all three of you tomorrow and we'll discuss things properly then."
All three nodded as Harry took Tiffy's hand, ready to be Apparated back home to tell Sirius the good news and share the memory of what had happened with the man.
** This is a personal Headcanon of mine. I find it very hard to believe that a person like Sirius; who grew up in a household where he would have had to learn to mind both his words and temper from an early age and is extremely loyal to those he loves; would actually tell a slimy git like Snape what he did. It's got nothing to do with thinking Sirius is a saint, which he isn't, but everything to do with the simple fact that it doesn't fit the character I know and love at all. So this became my headcanon and is worked into pretty much everything I write.
I am getting tired of people nagging at me in PM that those events are not canon and that I make Sirius out to be a saint without fault when he is anything but. People just seem to forget that most of what I write is through the eyes of Harry and to him Sirius can't do much wrong. That doesn't mean he doesn't have any flaws, it just means Harry doesn't see most of them.
This is a story I wrote and it is what I wholeheartedly believe and will always continue believing. If you don't like what I write, then simply don't read it. So I would be grateful if people would stop complaining that I don't write canon, newsflash...it's fanfiction, the whole point of it is to change the things we don't agree with and make it our own version our of it.
Policy of 'don't like, don't read' is easy to follow and I will no longer try to explain my view of the HP world to those who only seem to read stories so they can complain and make people feel bad without formulating a proper discussion of why they are complaining.
Sorry if you feel offended by this; but most can hopefully understand that I'm tired of getting the same constant nag thrown at me and know by now that I am always happy to enter a good and properly formulated discussion where both parties respect each others views without becoming an ass.
"All those in favour of conviction raise your hand."
Every single hand in the courtroom rose unanimously, making those watching breath out relieved.
"That's settled then. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, you are hereby found guilty on all charges. You are sentenced to the Kiss for the crimes you have committed," Amelia was grim-faced as Dumbledore screamed in rage at the verdict.
But Harry tuned him out in favour of turning to Sirius and McGonagall, who were seated beside him.
If it weren't for the occasional blink and the hand she was clenching around his godfather's discreetly at their sides; he would have thought she was a statue with how stiff she was sitting as she stared blankly ahead.
Not that Harry could blame her; hearing just how deeply Dumbledore's manipulations had gone had been difficult and he had no real bond with the man while his Head of House had been that manipulators friend for years.
"Come on," Sirius got to his feet, even as McGonagall weakly protested; her complexion ashen as Amelia silenced Dumbledore's angry shouting.
"I have to watch...I owe..."
"You owe him nothing," Sirius cut her off and used the death grip she still had on his hand to pull her to her feet as well. "Harry."
Rising to his feet as well, Harry wordlessly followed them down the steps, not slowing even as several others started to follow their example.
He had wanted to be present for the Kiss; to be sure the man got what he deserved for what his manipulations had done to his parents and Sirius; but for once Sirius had left no room for argument and had told him no.
The finality in his voice had kept Harry from arguing, aware the man would only deny him his request for a good reason and seeing how green those who fled around them were and how grim even Moody and Amelia looked; Harry knew Sirius was right to deny him.
As they made their way down the stairs Harry briefly wondered why Amelia was waiting so long before retrieving the Dementor when he realised she was watching them make their way across the room, waiting specifically for Sirius to reach the door before indicating to a dark-skinned Auror.
Harry was struck with a wave of gratitude at the kind gesture to prevent Sirius from having to be present in the same room as a Dementor, aware that never coming across them ever again would still be too soon for his godfather and he quickly slipped by him as Sirius held the door open for him.
"How did it go?" Remus was waiting for them in the anteroom and Harry stopped at his side, even as everyone else continued out of the room as quickly as they could.
"Found guilty on all charges."
"Good. How is she?" Remus glanced towards Sirius and McGonagall as they had stopped a little to the side and his godfather had pulled the stern professor into an embrace the moment the last stranger had left through the door.
"Shaken. From what I understood they had been very close," Harry quietly answered him as they moved further away to give her some semi-privacy.
"He is her closest friend," Remus nodded. "Gosh, she must be devastated."
Nodding, Harry tried not to glance at them as he could hear her quietly sob in Sirius' arms even from the current distance and fully turned to Remus. "He'll be administered the Kiss right away."
"I'd figured as much when so many came out so quickly," Remus sighed as he sat down on one of the benches. "It is still hard to believe."
"It's done," Moody's gruff voice turned Harry's attention back to the door a little while later and he noticed McGonagall had managed to compose herself again, squeezing Sirius' biceps as they made their way towards them, Moody following and eyed Harry confused.
"Shouldn't you be at school?"
"Lessons were cancelled today because of the trial and Amelia did say I could come," Harry reminded the man and he rubbed a tired hand over his weary face.
"Right, sorry. It's been a long trying few weeks."
"How many Death Eaters have you arrested after Harry's stunt?" Remus asked.
"Twenty-one who were originally cleared and seven who were never even suspected," Moody sighed as he turned to McGonagall. "You are going to need a new Potions teacher as Snape was convicted to life-long imprisonment this morning."
McGonagall nodded. "I've already found someone who is both qualified and capable."
"Oh? I didn't think it was that easy to find a Potions Master, where did you find him?" Moody asked interested.
"He actually found me," A tiny smile broke through McGonagall's stricken face. "Kind of threw the whole Wizarding world in chaos as he did, though. So it took me a while to finish the paperwork."
"You're hiring Sirius?" Moody asked surprised.
"Only part-time, though," Sirius clarified. "I'll help out full-time until she's found a new teacher, but after that I only want to teach part-time at most."
"Why only part-time?" Remus asked and it occurred to Harry that despite the fact that the two had been corresponding back and forth for a few weeks now and met up once, Sirius had clearly not told him about his plans.
"I've only been free for a little over a month and I'd like to enjoy my freedom before I'm tied down to one place. During Harry's holidays I hope we can go travelling so we can see the world," Sirius glanced at Harry. "I would also like to pick up my training to get my Mastery in Healing while also focusing on research at the same time."
Harry knew all about his godfather's and father's research into finding a cure for Lycanthropy and his godfather had also spoken to him about other things he'd like to work on so he only smiled as Moody raised an eyebrow.
"Old or new research?"
"A little of both. After I get my papers, I would like to study the mind."
"Figures," Moody barked out a laugh. "Perhaps find a way to undo certain damage done to one?"
"They deserve better," Sirius shrugged. "And they're not the only ones who deserve better."
"If there is anything I can do to help, I will," Moody promised and McGonagall nodded as well.
"Hmm, oh, I've been in contact with Andromeda and Ted as promised, you should try them for Potions and History of Magic. Andromeda said that they had both applied for a position after their graduation, but were turned down."
"I had no idea," McGonagall admitted. "I will be sure to contact them and I've already written to the board about the classes we discussed earlier."
"Good, I hope the board will be able to see the benefit of having Muggle and Wizarding Studies made mandatory for first years," Sirius turned to Harry. "How about we get an ice cream before I return you to Hogwarts. Maybe you could help me pick up your Christmas present while we're at it."
"Isn't it a bit early for a Christmas present?" Harry chuckled.
"Belated birthday present, then."
"You've already gotten me several birthday presents," Harry protested.
"Then I guess I will have to keep that broom to myself if you don't want it," Sirius sighed. "Guess I could let Tiffy sweep the..."
"No! I'll take it!" Harry cut him off sharply, heart leaping up in his throat at the implication of what Sirius had gotten him.
"But you just said..." Sirius frowned down at him confused but Harry waved him off.
"Forget what I said!"
"Are you sure? You already have your Nimbus anyway, I could just..."
"Siri!" Harry was well aware he was whining as he pulled on his godfather's arm, but didn't care in the slightest at the aspect of getting the Firebolt he'd been drooling over since their Diagon Alley visit.
Sirius laughed, his still too thin face splitting into an enormous grin. "Guess you do want another present, then."
"You're spoiling him," Remus shook his head fondly.
"It is my good right to do so," Sirius calmly waved him off. "No kid of mine is going to have to make do with a school-issued broom."
Warmth rushed through Harry as it always did whenever Sirius called him his and he was fairly sure he was grinning stupidly.
"Besides, we've got a reason to celebrate."
"You do?" Moody asked curiously, though Remus and Harry both grinned now as Sirius nodded.
"Vernon Dursley was sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment for aiding in child abduction and neglect of a minor yesterday afternoon."
It was no news to Harry as Sirius had kept him involved in what was going on and although he had made sure Harry hadn't needed to testify, they had been present for the trial.
It had been a trying day and Harry would never forget the reactions of the people of Privet Drive who had showed up to the courtroom; curious to the events.
They had been grim and horrified to learn the oh so neat and proper Dursleys had actually aided in the abduction of a child; and Harry had no doubt gossip would be flying around in the entire neighbourhood by now after that trial and Sirius' short statement to the Muggle press.
He was relieved Sirius had absolutely refused to submit Harry to the press and Remus had Apparated the two of them back to Potter Manor from the restroom while Sirius faced the cameras.
It was however news to McGonagall and Moody as they both brightened considerably.
"That is indeed a reason for celebration. And Petunia?"
"Sentenced to twelve years while Marjorie Dursley was convicted to seven years; though she will get time added to that sentence as she will also have to serve time for illegally breeding dogs."
"How on earth did you manage all that?" McGonagall gasped.
"We went high up," Sirius and Remus shared a glance.
"Very high up. Sirius wrote to the Prime Minister," Remus revealed gleefully. "It took him no trouble at all to find out there were no guardianship transfer papers over Harry's custody signed at all."
"All I had to do was provide both my papers and the Potter will and he personally saw to it that the ball got rolling," Sirius continued.
"But how? You were a wanted man as far as he was concerned, wasn't he? Why did he even listen to you?" McGonagall frowned.
"That's where Amelia came in. As Fudge was arrested for corruption and Crouch for breaking the law, she went to the Prime Minister as a Ministry Representative and informed him of the truth about me among other more important things. Because Lily didn't want to disappear from the Muggle world entirely, James created Muggle identities for both himself and Sirius after his marriage and later made sure Harry was officially made a citizen of Muggle England as well. The paper trail left by this ensured we could prove both my existence and Harry's and that was enough for the Prime Minister to do everything in his power to help us."
"And since Amelia ensured a press release was issued in the Muggle world about you being framed for another's deeds as well, you are also no longer wanted in the Muggle world," Moody nodded in understanding but McGonagall raised a hand to quiet him down.
"What do you mean Crouch has been arrested? I knew Cornelius and his administration have all been taken in for questioning and all fired while some were imprisoned, but what did Crouch do to break the law?"
"You haven't heard yet?" Moody raised an eyebrow. "Due to the high level of corruption discovered in Cornelius' administration, Amelia made sure every Ministry worker had to undergo a thorough questioning before they were allowed to leave. During Crouch' questioning under Veritaserum it came to the light that he was harbouring his son in his house."
"Barty Crouch? But he was convicted twelve years ago for the torture...how..." McGonagall looked horrified.
"It's a long story, but the short version is that he managed to have his dying wife take his son's place and smuggled his son out of Azkaban as her dying wish and has kept him under the Imperius Curse ever since," Moody revealed. "It was revealed in the Daily Prophet this morning."
"I've been avoiding the paper today," McGonagall admitted. "I can't believe...what happens to Crouch now?"
"Junior has been returned to Azkaban immediately and Crouch's trial will be held tomorrow," Moody nodded at Sirius. "Thanks to this one here, the Ministry finally has a chance to clear ship and Amelia is making good use of that."
"So who is in charge now? Rufus Scrimgeour?" Remus rubbed a hand over his face and Harry couldn't blame him for looking a little overwhelmed as, if Sirius hadn't taught him about the workings of the Ministry and the various people in charge, he'd probably feel the same.
"He'll probably try to be elected, but most of the Ministry is calling for Amelia to step up as the next Minister due to her actions these last few weeks," Moody sighed. "Like I said, it's been a rough couple of weeks."
"I bet," Sirius shot him an apologetic smile. "But as lovely it is to chat with you lot, I really would like to get that ice cream now and leave any bit of politics for another day."
"I wish I could say the same," Moody laughed.
"What happened to the Dursley's son, though?" McGonagall asked.
"Oh, child services contacted his boarding school and taking into account that he has no other relatives, child services relocated him to St Brutus's Secure Centre for Incurable Criminal Boys until at least his eighteenth birthday."
"What a horrible name for a school," McGonagall commented, though she didn't look surprised Dudley had been sent there.
"Yes, it's where the Dursleys wanted to sent Harry so I thought it would be more accurate to sent an actual criminal boy there," Sirius ruffled Harry's hair. "The boy didn't seem very happy about it, but as the neighbourhood's children came forward with horrible stories of his behaviour towards both them and in general, social services believed it was the best choice for his future. The reputation of that school is actually quite good and if anyone can change his behaviour, it would be them."
Sirius clasped his hands together. "Well, when would you like me to start teaching as we've not actually discussed that yet?"
"As soon as you can would be good," McGonagall blinked at the sudden subject change but didn't comment on it.
"If you don't mind that Harry will be back after dinner, I can be there tonight," Sirius suggested.
"That would be great," McGonagall nodded. "In the meantime I will inform the staff and students of the results of the trial, Remus, will you travel back with me or on your own?"
"You're coming with us, aren't you?" Harry spoke up before Remus could.
"I am?" Remus asked at the same time Sirius blinked with equal surprise. "He is?"
"Yeah, I mean...if you'd like to," Harry shrugged and pretended that he didn't notice his godfather's confusion.
Harry knew he had not exactly treated Remus overly warmly during the few times they had interacted.
But even though he'd been angry with the man for his lack of taking action when he should have and for abandoning his godfather; he knew he had made the man suffer enough and it was time to forgive the man, especially since Sirius truly didn't hold any grudge about what had happened and Harry could see he missed his old friend dearly. And Remus was doing everything in his power to help and support Sirius now.
"I...are you sure?" Remus gazed at him as if trying to determine if it was a joke or not before looking up to Sirius, who only shrugged in response to the questioning look.
"It'll be fun," Harry nodded.
"All right, I'd like that," seemingly deciding he was indeed serious, Remus nodded his consent and Harry flushed as Sirius smiled happily.
The man hadn't said anything about Harry's behaviour as he'd clearly understood perfectly why he acted the way he did, but Harry felt shame wash over him as he realised just how much his behaviour had hurt his godfather with his dismissal of the only friend he had left.
"Maybe you can tell me some stories about him and my parents and some more about yourself while you're at it," Harry swallowed. "Because although I know all about you from Sirius' stories, I haven't actually met you properly yet. And since Sirius took the time to get to know my friends, I think it's time I made an effort to get to know his as well."
Harry smiled at Sirius' grimace at being reminded of meeting Ron and Hermione; the man's previous impression of the former not having improved at all after actually meeting him and even Harry had to admit Hermione's bossiness had been both rude and Sirius hadn't let it slide at all, cutting her off sharply before she could even get truly started and poked holes in every single of her claims without breaking a sweat.
His meeting with Fred and George in Diagon Alley however had the three hit it off immediately, bonding scarily easily and at first Harry had thought it was their shared love for pranks until the same happened when they ran into Neville and later a petite blond second year Sirius had immediately recognised on sight and actually gone to.
Harry wasn't sure what to think of Luna Lovegood and her father, though he had been surprised to learn his godfather and the girl's deceased mother had been close friends for years and had made a vow to get to know the odd girl as Sirius was obviously very fond of her.
Four weeks into the new school year had Harry reaching out to befriend other students of his year at least and he had been surprised to even get along with several Slytherins not belonging to Malfoy's little gang, finding surprisingly good company in Blaise and Daphne.
And although Ron was utterly horrified by his new behaviour, Harry found he didn't really care and Sirius had been delighted when he told him about expanding his social circle.
He had also made sure to reach out to Neville, trying to get to know the other a bit better and was pleasantly surprised to find a surprisingly humoristic and kind companion and once he had introduced him to Luna, the three often hung out together with the two Slytherins and Hermione.
All in all, Harry's life had changed for the better drastically and although his friendship with Ron was deteriorating rapidly due to his association with Slytherins; something Sirius had said to Hermione had clearly caused the girl to try and change her behaviour so that she became a lot more relaxed and less difficult to be around.
For the first time Harry realised he was truly happy and he wanted that same happiness for his godfather and knew Remus would be a big part of that.
"Sirius might have mentioned something along the lines of meeting them," Remus smiled at Sirius' grimace.
"Shall we go before the stores close?" Harry eagerly suggested, wanting them to get a move on as he knew there was a Firebolt with his name on it waiting for him.
"Sounds good, shall we first go eat that ice cream or first pick up the broom?" Sirius yelped as Harry swatted at him.
"Don't be mean!"
"You have got your hands full on that one," Moody laughed and patted Sirius' shoulder in sympathy, making him laugh.
"Nah, I wouldn't trade him for the world," Sirius beamed and Harry let his godfather pull him close for a hug, happily answering it before eagerly beginning to pull his godfather along with him, Remus following behind him as they waved their goodbyes to an amused McGonagall and Moody.
Harry laughed as Remus took the opportunity to tell him a story about his father retrieving the newest racing broom for his seventeenth birthday and promptly catching a cold after flying in the snow for hours.
He knew that as he watched Sirius laugh while he corrected Remus on some parts of the story and Remus scowled at him playfully that he'd made the right decision to lift his wand that evening two months ago, never having dared to believe where it would've lead him in such a short time.
But he wouldn't trade it for the world.