Remus stunned the Death Eater in his arms and rushed upon the dais just in time to see Sirius get hit with the red light of Bellatrix's curse and fall into the Veil. Then Harry unthinkingly leapt through the tattered curtain to follow his godfather. Remus stared in horror and too late moved to intercept the boy. He impulsively shifted inside the tattered wisps in hopes of grasping Harry before he was too far gone, but suddenly found himself within a dark and wavy dimension. Then everything went black.
Meanwhile Sirius Black had discovered that slipping through the veil was not the most pleasant feeling he had ever experienced. In fact, if he had to rate it on a one to ten scale, it would be a negative twenty. Bellatrix had cast the worst of the three unforgivable curses at him after appearing out of nowhere, in defense of her fellow Death Eaters. Sirius had woken up to blurred vision and the feel of a comfortable couch cushion beneath him. The sensation was so inane that he was convinced he was merely feeling the effects of the Veil.
At least that's what he thought before he opened his eyes to find the contents of his old flat from when he'd lived in London staring back at him. His old belongings were strewn about the bedroom in manner typical to his former lifestyle. Upon further inspection he determined that not only was he physically in this place at this time, according to the old alarm clock he'd bought from a muggle shop down town, he body showed none of the effects of his time in Azkaban. Sirius quickly got over the shock only to finally see himself in the bathroom mirror and find a younger version of himself staring back.
This isn't logical, it can't be logical! I died for god sakes! Sirius thought as he rummaged through his things in search of his wand. Once it was located he searched out a calendar. The date October 31, 1981 shone like a beacon as all the other days had already been marked with X's.
"My god! I'm back to the day this all started-" Sirius shouted before he stopped and realized that talking to himself, was a sure sign of insanity, possibly the direct result of spending too much time behind bars.
Sirius quickly grabbed his wand and the keys to his motorcycle. The time on the clock told him that Lily and James had already been attacked. He remembered full well what time he had left to check on Peter the night Voldemort had killed the Potters. Blearily grim details like what time the attack had occurred were seared into his memory. The dementors had left Sirius' bleak memories of that night intact and he was thankful they would be of use to him now. It meant all of the important information he would need to locate Harry before anyone got word of what had happened was all still there.
As he put the bike in gear, Sirius could feel his heart wrench at the thought that despite everything, he still couldn't save his friends from Voldemort. The roar of the bike's motor jolted him from his reverie. There would be time for him to mourn Lily and James for a second time later, right now he had to reach Harry and locate the Potters Will before the situation got out of hand once again. Sirius knew he couldn't leave Harry to the Dursley's again, not when he knew the blood seal wouldn't be enough to keep his godson from harm. The abuse Harry had received while in his aunt's care had had a great effect on the boy's life. Never mind the danger the boy had been in years later when dementors had shown up in Little Whinging just before Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. It would never happen now, not if he could reach Harry before Dumbledore found out what had happened and thought to send someone for him.
Sirius knew that Dumbledore had only the best of intentions. He would want to keep Harry safe and away from the magical world during his formative years. Something Sirius was in full agreement with after seeing the results of Harry's fame on his school career alone. No, the problem was Dumbledore knew very little about muggles, at least as far as Lily's sister was concerned. In fact, Sirius hadn't remembered much about Lily's sister until he had personally glimpsed Harry attempting to run away from home while he was Padfoot. It was then he recalled what James had mentioned about his sister-in-law and her husband and subsequently realized what Lily had been reluctant to say about her sister. Petunia Dursley was in denial about the existence of magic and the realities surrounding the nephew who'd been left in her care.
Harry had been quiet about his relative’s treatment of him aside from a few stories and a distinct reluctance to go back to his relatives at the beginning of every summer. This had made his godfather wonder whether or not Harry had truly realized what it was like to have friends and people who cared about him until he'd attended school. The separation of the Wizarding World and the Muggle World would have kept anyone from interfering with the Dursley's family affairs. It wasn't as if leaving an orphaned child in the care of their closest relative, even a muggle relative, wasn't common practice. In fact, if Lily and James hadn't left a Will, one he'd forgotten about the last time, behind stating that Sirius was to be Harry's guardian if the worst should happen, he would have been forced to either kidnap Harry or allow him to be left in the hands of his muggle relatives during his formative years. Fighting the decision in court would have been another option open to him, if Sirius could convince the Wizengamot that leaving Harry in the hands of his muggle relatives would be detrimental to his wellbeing. With any luck he could get Remus on board with that idea, if he could locate his friend before he got it into his head that Sirius was responsible for the Potter's deaths.
Locating Peter Pettigrew was a top priority for Sirius, second only to reaching Harry and securing him before Hagrid showed up.
Sirius was not prepared for what he found at the cottage in the village of Godric's Hollow. The sight of the Potter's house and the damage wrought by the backlash of the killing curse. The devastation that greeted him upon arrival left him with a feeling like ice flowing through his veins. There was a enormous hole in the roof of the cottage giving it a warped appearance.
After landing his motorcycle in the front yard, he quickly cast a notice-me-not charm on the cottage itself and carefully stepped inside.
"Padfoot. Late as always." said a familiar voice behind him. Sirius heart caught in his chest.
Then he slowly turned around.
"Moony! What the devil are you doing here?"
"I'd direct you to the fact that you are here as well, long before you should be" Remus commented. His demeanor was deceivingly calm, despite the expression of chagrin Sirius could see forming on his face. No doubt the true impact of the sight of his friend's corpses had finally sunk in. Then Sirius noticed a small movement in the area of Remus's arm and saw Harry perched there. "Am I to assume that you are the same person Harry and I followed through the Veil?"
"Bloody hell! So that actually happened?" Sirius asked in amazement. "Good to know I'm not in fact delusional. Did you just say you and Harry followed me through the Veil?"
Remus favored him with a ghost of a smirk.
"You always have been delusional, Pads. You've simply never noticed before."
"Ouch. Is that the type of greeting I get, when I come all the way here to rescue my godson from muggles?"
"I had the exact same thing in mind" said Remus. "I did mean it when I said we followed you when you fell through the Veil. Bellatrix nailed you with a curse and you fell through, presumably to your death. Obviously that was not the case. Harry leapt through it after you and I was dragged through when I attempted to pull him back to the world of the living. I'll be happy to help you figure this out along with the issue of Harry's possible awareness, after we do what we came here to do. We're going to need to decide on a plan of action, Pads. Whatever you do, don't go into the bedroom or the living room. Lily and James are there, along with Voldemort, and I don't need you losing control when Harry needs us most."
"Wasn't planning to. As much as I'd want to see James and Lily just to convince myself of what's happened, I can't afford to lose Harry again" asked Sirius. "If I remember correctly, their Will is in one of the kitchen drawers. If the bloody cabinet is still standing."
"Language Sirius, not in front of Harry" scolded Remus lightly.
Sirius glared at him.
"Prongslet picking up unfavorable language is the least of our worries tonight, Moony. I'll be doing a lot more of it if Snivellus shows up while we're still here."
"Last time Dumbledore sent Hagrid to retrieve Harry, since giants are more resistant to curses, in case there were any Death Eaters lurking around" said Remus. "We won't have much to worry about if we're able to find the Will and prove you are Harry's legal guardian. Hagrid is unable to perform magic of any kind so apparating away from here shouldn't be too much trouble."
Sirius nodded and walked off into the kitchen, which was thankfully still intact. He looked through a few layers of parchment before locating the copy of the Will that Lily had insisted on storing in a place that was easily accessible. The document itself, with the signatures of at least five witnesses including Remus and Sirius himself, would hold up as far as the Ministry was concerned.
Sirius returned to the front hall to find Remus rocking Harry to sleep.
"I've found it, but we'll need to move fast" said Sirius. "We need to take this to the Ministry as soon as possible. If we take my bike do you think you can keep a good hold on Harry?"
"It's a wonder you weren't seen riding that thing all the way over here" said Remus.
"It's Halloween my dear Moony. The muggles are either too distracted by what's happening right in front of them or they're more likely to associate the sight of a flying motorcycle with too much alcohol consumption" Sirius pointed out, flashing him an irrepressible grin.
Remus chuckled slightly.
"I don't know how you've gotten me to laugh at a time like this, Pads, but you've managed."
"It's a gift." said Sirius with a flirtatious wink.
Remus turned to look down at Harry in order to hide the resulting blush that colored his cheeks. He quickly clamped down on the warm and fuzzy feelings that came over him and tried to focus on the task at hand. He'd forgotten how much his younger self still had trouble containing his personal feelings for one Sirius Black. The advantages to being his younger self again far outweighed the drawbacks, particularly his knowledge that Sirius' own physical health had yet to be effected by his years in Azkaban.
Sirius located his motorcycle, while Remus used a sticking charm to ensure the Potter's Will stayed firmly within his jacket pocket during their ride to the Ministry. Remus eyed his surroundings warily as he waited, before grasping his wand and placing a silencing charm on the motorbike. Sirius nodded in approval and motioned for him to get on. Remus secured Harry against his chest, holding him in his right arm, wrapping his left around Sirius' waist as his friend put the bike in gear.
The two marauders flew off just as Hagrid reached the village gate. The Hogwarts gamekeeper failed to notice the flying motorbike as he focused on the grim task Dumbledore had set him to. His message of alarm didn't reach Albus Dumbledore until half an hour later.
The Ministry was abuzz with the news that Voldemort had struck again that night. The Minister of Magic, Millicent Bagnold, had been required to give the Daily Prophet a statement the moment the news had reached them. Death Eater attacks were common these days, despite the tireless work of the Ministry's Aurors to ensure the safety of witches and wizards everywhere. Particularly those against which Voldemort had a personal vendetta.
The arrival of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin to the Ministry of Magic late that Halloween Night had caused quite a stir. Minister Bagnold's personal secretary had greeted the pair after they'd been redirected several times by two different departments heads and instructed to direct their business to the Minster herself. Halloween was one of the few nights the administrative offices at Ministry had a skeleton crew working around the clock as it was a time for mischief and more often than not, a time for young wizards to terrorize the muggle population. The DMLE and the Aurors were on standby to ensure that none of it got out of hand and to ensure the safety of muggle Britain. Wizards still needed to keep their anonymity, whatever the younger generation may think.
"Ah, I'm afraid you've caught us at a bad time, Mr. Black" the Minister's secretary, Felisha Slughorn. Then she saw Harry. "May I ask who you are, sir? Oh, and who’s this little guy?"
"Remus Lupin, Ms. Slughorn." said Remus as he glimpsed the nameplate sitting on the corner of her desk.
"This is James and Lily Potter's son" Sirius said gravely. "His parents were killed tonight."
The expression of the Minister's secretary changed to one of shock. She recognized them as two of Alastor Moody's protégé's.
"You understand this is a matter of grave concern, Mr. Black. Are you aware that you should have waited for the Auror's to inspect the premises collect the child before coming here to claim him?" asked Ms. Slughorn.
"We couldn't just leave him with his parents' bodies and...there'll be other people coming after him tonight, Ms. Slughorn" said Sirius. "I'm afraid the situation is a tad more serious than usual."
Remus nodded and released the sticking charm on the parchment in his coat pocket. Then he reached in with his left hand to get it before handing it to her.
"This is the Potter's Will" explained Remus. "We went to see the Potters only to find the two of the dead and Voldemort with them."
The secretary flinched slightly at the mention of the Dark Lord's name. She felt the tension in her shoulders increase seven-fold. In an attempt to calm herself, she took a deep breath before gesturing for the two men to follow her. The Will was still clasped in her right hand as she led them into Minister Bagnold's office.
"Felisha, can't you see I'm busy right now. I'm up to my eyeballs in requests for the-" said Minister Bagnold before she caught sight of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, accompanied by a small child, standing in her doorway. She recognized them as members of the Order of the Phoenix and quickly gestured for them to enter. "Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin, well this is a surprise. Here to share some news I'm sure."
"It's a bad business I'm afraid, Minister" replied Remus as he looked down at Harry who was staring back at him in a tired, but cheerful way. The boy was still thankfully oblivious to what had happened to his parents and what he himself had undoubtedly witnessed a couple of hours before. "Lily and James Potter are dead. It was Voldemort."
The Minister nodded her head gravely.
"That is sad news indeed. Two of my best Aurors taken down in the prime of their lives" Minister Bagnold said shaking her head. The wrinkles on her face deepened slightly. "This is their son, I presume."
"He's my godson" Sirius confirmed. "Voldemort tried to kill him too. Only somehow he ended up dead instead."
"You-Know-Who is dead?" asked the Minister as sat bolt upright. "You neglected to mention that before. This is truly serious, yes truly serious. I must inform my people at once. Have you informed Albus Dumbledore of what happened?"
"We have reason to believe he has already been informed" said Remus evasively. "After tonight, young Harry is left with nowhere to go except with us or to his muggle relatives."
"It's all in here, Minister" said Felisha Bagnold stepping forward and handing the strip of parchment to her. She'd read the parchment to verify its content while they'd been speaking. "Mr. Black is Harry Potter's legal guardian."
The Minister held up a hand as she read through the contents of the parchment. Then she sighed gravely.
"You do realize what this means, Mr. Black? That boy is a hero!"
"With all due respect Minister, I believe Harry should be raised quietly away from the Wizarding World. The kid won't understand the reason behind his fame until he's much older. It'll go to his head." stated Sirius. "I love my godson and I want to raise Harry because it's what was asked of me by the Potters. I'll do anything you require to ensure his safety and well being. However, I draw the line at letting the wizarding population know where he is. There are Death Eaters still out there who will be after the boy."
"Doubtlessly" said Minister Bagnold as she nodded once more. "I agree. That is not the proper environment for a hero of the wizarding world to grow up in. Everything seems to be in order here with the Potter's Will, though its legitimacy will need to be finalized by the Council of Magical Law, a minor committee containing five members of the current Wizengamot as a precautionary measure. I would suggest that you take that child to St. Mungo's as soon as tonight's celebrations die down. My secretary will call ahead and send you notice about an appointment with Healer Sophron for a physical examination of the boy and his curse scar. You will be able to count on her discretion in this matter. I will be expecting regular updates as to Harry's status. These will be kept confidential, however, I will need to know that the boy is secure wherever he is. Felisha!"
"You are to keep this information strictly amongst my staff" warned the Minster. "That child is a hero now. We can't have anything happening to him. I would also like to request that a statement on the matter be sent to the Daily Prophet. Tell them 'I assert our unalienable right to party!' That should give the younger generation something else to think about and keep them from paying too much attention to the details."
Sirius and Remus shared a look, but kept silent. Minister Bagnold was well known for her quirkish mannerisms, which were somewhat blustery at times, but she was solid and dependable. They knew no matter what they were going to have to deal with certain legal details before Harry was placed solely in Sirius' custody, provided they could prove he wasn't in fact the Potter's secret keeper. Dumbledore might object to it, but they knew he couldn't put forward any of those objections once the contents of the Will were reviewed. Sirius was confident they could convince him of the necessity of keeping Harry away from the Dursley's later on.
"Just a moment, Mr. Black" the Minster said as she was handed a message by her secretary. "This message has just come in by Floo. Apparently Mad Eye Moody would like a word with you."
Felisha Slughorn performed a quick charm and replicated the Will, before handing the original parchment back to Remus.
"We'll keep a copy of this document in our records and send another to the Council" she said "in keeping with Ministry regulations."
"Order business" said Sirius gravely. "Tell him we'll see him in a moment. Can we use your fireplace?"
"Certainly" said the Minister with a nod. "Just take good care of that lad now. He's more precious to the Wizarding World now that ever."
"We'll be careful" said Sirius as he picked up Floo dust from a nearby container. "The Auror Office!"
Remus held Harry tighter and followed suit.
"Old Mad-Eye hasn't changed one bloody bit" Sirius muttered two hours later, as they trudged back to alley where he'd hidden his motorbike. "Damn veritaserum. He's knows I can't defend against the bloody stuff."
"At least he kept his questions strictly about tonight's events" said Remus as he redid the heating charms keeping Harry warm. "Now the Order knows you weren't Lily and James' secret keeper. They'll all be on the lookout for Peter now."
"Bloody traitor! Almost got me sent to prison for a second time!" shouted Sirius as he undid the concealment charm on his motorcycle, bringing it into full view.
"It could be worse, Padfoot" reminded Remus "He could have found out about our time- travelling and attempts to change things."
"Small wonder that. Moody's usually more thorough in his questioning."
"The shock of Voldemort's death seems to have effected everyone, I should think" said Remus. "It may have worked to our advantage. After all, they didn't question why I was the one holding Harry and the Minister is at least aware of what I am."
Sirius eyed Remus thoughtfully before shaking his head.
"Doesn't matter. You're a member of the Order. The only organization able to stand up to Voldemort during the war. Moody doesn't seem to care and I doubt the Minister even remembers."
"That's probably a good thing" said Remus.
The two Marauders climbed onto Sirius's motorbike and flew off into the night sky. It wasn't over, not by a long shot, but at least this time they had one another. This time they could make sure Harry didn't get sent off to his muggle relatives.
"This isn't over" said Remus. "Peter is still out there. I'm surprised you didn't go looking for him once we found Harry."
"Last time we were blindsided by everything that happened" said Sirius as he navigated the bike toward his flat. "Peter used me in order to disappear. I bloody well want to hex him into oblivion, but trying wouldn't have helped anything. This was more important. Harry might still've been sent off to those muggles."
"That's incredibly mature for you-"
"However, I agree. I'm just glad you were there Sirius" said Remus hiding a smile. "I thought we'd lost you when you fell through the Veil."
"I thought I'd got lost myself" answered Sirius. "Just goes to show things don't always work out the way you expect them to."
"Dumbledore isn't going to like this" remarked Remus. "There's going to be quite a row when he finds out that you claimed Harry without consulting the Order first."
Sirius shook his head as he lowered the bike into an alleyway between building in which his flat was located and the one directly beside it.
"We'll have to talk to him. Make him understand that we only did what was best for Harry." said Sirius. "If he insists Harry go to his aunt's, we'll simply say no."
"We, as in both of us?" asked Remus with some amusement. "I was under the impression that you alone were Harry's legal guardian."
"Well yeah, but I figured you'd stick around to help out with our dear prongslet. That is, if you want to, Moony?" murmured Sirius. "I was thinking I could buy a little shop in Diagon Alley or London even. Just keep everything quiet and simple and I'd hire you to help me run the place."
"Sirius, are you sure about this?" asked Remus. "Of course I'll help you with Harry in any way I can. But-I don't need your charity. I've survived this long."
"Ah. Moony. Moony. Moony" said Sirius with a decided smirk as he landed his motorbike and cast a concealment charm once Remus had dismounted with Harry in hand. "Working for me will hardly be charity. I'm very much afraid your association with a noted lady's man will cause quite a bit of gossip. That and annoying Dumbledore tends to thin one's social prospects slightly. You forget, I saw how gaunt you looked during Harry's third year at Hogwarts. There is absolutely no way I'm allowing you to starve yourself once again."
"Your time in Azkaban did nothing to help how insufferable you are" commented Remus, smiling nonetheless he followed Sirius through the doors of the building and up the stairs to his flat. "And what sort of shop would you own?"
"I've considered the possibility that we might sell one thing to wizards and another to muggles" said Sirius gravely as he unlocked the door to his flat. "We could deal in books and sweets. Sell the non-magical stock to the muggles and have a separate set for witches and wizards."
"You could purchase a Diagon Alley portkey" reasoned Remus "and keep up a storefront in London."
"With living quarters upstairs" agreed Sirius. "I could rent you a room as well, Moony. You could be around Harry every day."
"Your offer is tempting, but I couldn't impose on you anymore than I already have" said Remus looking around at contents of Sirius' flat.
"I'd like nothing better than for you to impose on me, my dear Moony. You forget, I was alone for far too long during my time in Azkaban" said Sirius putting on an irrepressible grin.
"I can see you aren't going to let this go. Fine, I'll take your offer." agreed Remus with a put-upon sigh.
"There's a good little werewolf" teased Sirius.
"We'll need some way of concealing Harry's identity" insisted Remus. "Wizarding Britain can't know he's here with us."
"It might be best to nix my original plan of selling to the wizarding population" said Sirius thoughtfully. "We could always move. Dumbledore won't like it, but he can't really stop us once the Council approves the Will."
"Which brings me to another pressing matter. Do we tell Dumbledore about what happened in the Veil or keep it to ourselves?" asked Remus.
Sirius looked down at Harry, asleep in Remus' arms, then he said "It would be difficult to convince him that we weren't crazy. Even then he'll insist that Harry be placed in the care of his muggle relatives and behind blood based protection wards. There's too much risk he'll want proof that we don't have."
"Then we'll have to play it by ear for the next couple of days and keep that information ourselves" said Remus seriously. "We'll need to warn other members of the Order, including the Longbottoms about the Death Eaters and any possible retribution before we go, if we decide to vanish for a few years...after Dumbledore and McGonagall lecture us."
"I'd rather avoid that possibility at all costs" said Sirius. "Harry isn't their godson after all and old Minnie can't possibly understand what Harry's life might have been like under those bloody muggles."
"They'll just tell us off. Same as they always do, when we do something reckless" assured Remus. "The Minister put her seal of approval on your taking custody of Harry after seeing the Will. As soon as the Council approves it, we should consider whether or not to keep Harry in London."
"We could always go to France" suggested Sirius. "My Uncle Alphard used to own a house there and he left me quite the little place off the coast. In another few years I'll be left with Grimmauld Place too, much as I loathe the idea of taking anything that used to belong to my family."
"You could sell it off" said Remus. "At the very least you won't have to set foot in it again after that."
"That idea has possibilities" said Sirius as he considered his options. "So, wards first or notice-me-not charms?"
"Wards" Remus agreed glancing around the flat. "We should be able to hide away here for at least one night. Once everyone figures out about Harry we'll have to move immediately. Preferably before someone like Bellatrix discovers what we've done."
"I wouldn't mind avoiding Dumbledore for a bit" said Sirius.
"He's a politician" said Remus wisely. "We don't want him to feel as though he's in a position where he needs to judge Harry's safety for himself."
"We were king at losing points at school" replied Sirius with a chuckle. "He'd probably be more worried about what we'd teach Harry."
Remus smiled wryly and began setting the protection wards. Sirius followed suit by layering concealment charms just beyond them. Meanwhile Harry was still held tight in Remus arms, something that definitely weighed on him. They finally decided, after laying down proper protections, to transmute Sirius' bedside table into a miniature crib and decided on sleeping arrangements. Sirius wound up sleeping on the left of the bed as Padfoot, while Remus used the right. Neither of them was too keen on leaving the room as there was safety in numbers and it meant being separated from each other and Harry.
Remus would never admit it, but he’d always safer being in the same room as Sirius, even during their school years. While in his animagus form, Sirius was invulnerable to werewolf bites and, despite the paranoia that had given way to mutual suspicion and distrust the first time Peter had betrayed them, Remus had a great deal of faith in his friend.
Much to their imminent surprise, both marauders awoke firmly wrapped in each other's embrace.
They spent the next several years raising Harry under the protection of a crisscrossed Fidelius charm. Something Harry appreciated when he was old enough to incorporate his old memories into his old memories into his new ones. Although his current existence was firmly in this timeline, leaving him with only remnants of the boy who’d stepped through the Veil that night.
Over time both Remus and Sirius decided against having any contact between Harry and Dumbledore until it was time for Harry to attend Hogwarts. There was too much of a chance that the well-meaning Headmaster would recommend the same protections Harry had had last time, which would lead to an argument they weren’t keen on having this time around.
Remus even found Sirius looking through pamphlets for other schools like Beauxbatons and found himself coming slowly around to the idea that Harry might want to choose for himself, particularly if he wanted his own fresh start in this timeline. A decision that in the end, lead to Harry doing just that and opting to attend an institution for magical education in France instead of Scotland, leaving his past and all current thoughts of Voldemort behind him.
It seemed the Order would have an easier time finding Voldemort than any trace of the Boy-Who-Lived. Even after the eventual discovery of Peter Pettigrew by the Weasley twins in 1995.