“Didn't know your godfather was one for potions, I suppose,” Sirius commented as he led his godson into his bedroom, where there was a veritable chemistry set of potion-brewing going on all over the large, hardwood desk that stretched across one side of the room.
“No,” Harry admitted freely. “No one really tells me anything about Mum, or Dad, except for the bile that comes out of Snape's mouth, and I didn't know you or Professor Lupin existed until last year.”
Sirius winced at that. “Well,” he ploughed on, determined to rectify that at least a little bit right that very instant. “Your mum, dad, Remus and I, we all had the top spots in pretty much everything, which is something that frequently bent Snape's over-size nose out of shape,” he elaborated, happy to share the knowledge with his godson, who should have known such things. “Potions, charms, defence, transfiguration, arithmancy, runes, care of magical creatures, the Marauders all even took muggle studies. Your dad took it so he'd be able to understand more of what Lily talked about, and the rest of us took it... well, I took it to thumb my nose at my folks, as well as to support James. Remus took it because he knew even then how unlikely it was he'd be able to find solid work in the magical world. Peter took it so that he'd have an elective filled that the rest of us were in.”
Harry nodded, taking in that information.
“Mind you, and I don't want this getting out, but I even took divination and got a good OWL and NEWT score for it. I know it's a girly subject, but I was having some weird dreams back then,” Sirius said, and sighed as he shook his head. “Dreams which make a helluva lot more sense now.”
“What do you mean Sirius?” Harry asked, confused.
“I mean like the dream where I was a twenty-year-old man holding a green-eyed baby in my arms,” Sirius answered with a smile. “A dream I had when I was thirteen and sleeping in the next bed over from your dad – who had still not figured out how to get Lily Evans to so much as smile at him.”
Harry's mouth fell open a little bit at that.
Sirius chuckled at the boy's expression, and (further) messed up his hair to snap him out of his stupor.
“Now, the reason I snuck into your aunt's backyard and got you to hail the Knight Bus to bring us to this wretched place,” Sirius said, finally getting around to answering his godson's question about what was going on and what Sirius was up to. “I've made a de-ageing potion,” Sirius revealed.
“A what?” Harry asked, though he'd heard perfectly clearly and there were only so many options that could go with a title like that.
“Side-effects include but are not limited to,” Sirius continued, giving Harry a look that said he knew that Harry had heard him perfectly well and he wasn't going to repeat himself. “Physical regression and memory loss. It will be as though the one who has taken the potion had never lived through the weeks, months, or even years that the dose would remove. I take that potion, I won't remember having lived through Azkaban in either body or mind. I can be just like I was the day your parents died. That memory will be fresh and painful, but I'll be healthy and more sane.”
“Sirius, you're not -” Harry started.
“I am mentally unstable, Harry,” Sirius cut in. “Not as bad as some of the people who are in Azkaban right now, but I'm not totally all-there any more,” he said gently. Stating unpleasant fact to someone who shouldn't have to deal with such knowledge. “Due to my home life, I had already been teetering on the edge for a long time. But this potion can make it so that I was never there. I won't suffer the shivers that I still sometimes get from the cold that leached all the way into my bones from over a decade of Dementor exposure. I won't even be recognisable as the 'madman' that they're still hunting.”
A light brightened Harry's eyes at that. “You mean -”
“I'd effectively be free,” Sirius confirmed. “Maybe confused as hell as to why it was suddenly ninety-four rather than eighty-one, but that's why, before I take the potion, I'm going to put some of my memories into the penseive over there, so that I can explain everything to myself.”
“Penseive?” Harry repeated inquisitively as he walked over to the stone dish that Sirius had indicated.
“It's a place where memories can be stored for later review, or re-absorbtion, if they're your own memories. More importantly, other people can watch your memories too,” Sirius explained.
“So... I could see my parents?” Harry asked hopefully.
Sirius smiled sadly at his godson and placed his wand to his temple. Slowly, he moved the wand away, withdrawing a silvery streamer from his head. This was then deposited in the penseive with a gentle flick. “You just have to touch it,” Sirius said. “For all that some wizards are stupid enough that they think they have to stick their whole heads in.”
Harry was both eager and hesitant as he stretched out his hand and touched the silvery substance, and his green eyes glassed over as he watched the memory play out.
A few minutes later, Harry emerged from the memory, the focus coming back to his bright green eyes. Bright green eyes that were brighter than usual for the glassy sheen of held-back tears that coated them.
Sirius didn't hesitate to pull his godson into a hug, and encouraged the boy to cry it out, promising that it was alright for him to do so.
“Now,” Sirius said once Harry had gotten control of himself again and was wiping the tears away with a handkerchief Sirius had conjured. “The only question I have for you, Harry, is if you want to take this de-ageing potion as well.”
“Me?” Harry asked, eyes wide behind his glasses.
Sirius nodded. “You won't have to grow up with the Dursleys. You can have a proper childhood. You won't even have to put up with the damn fame I can tell you don't like, because no one will connect you with, well, you,” he offered, then quickly held up a hand to prevent the boy from giving his answer straight away. “I want you to think about it,” he said firmly. “I am going to take the potion, today, but I want you to think about it for a week or so. I'm going to need your help, after all, adjusting to getting about in ninety-four, but I'm a fast learner, I promise.”
Harry nodded. “Alright,” he agreed. “But... I don't have to go back to the Dursleys? Not even for that week?” he asked.
Sirius shook his head. “I'll go visit them,” he said. “Gotta get your things, since I didn't really give you time to today. But no, you don't ever have to see them again. Even if you decide not to take the de-ageing potion.”
Harry's grateful smile was radiant, and the godfather and godson fell into an embrace naturally at that moment.
Sirius sniffed slightly, forcing back tears of his own, and held his godson at arms length. “Yes, well,” he said. “I'd best put the memories I'm going to need in that penseive, and then I'll take that potion. I'm warning you, I'll be sick as the proverbial dog for about ten to twelve hours while the potion does its thing. Probably a fever, definitely some writhing in pain, but I won't really be conscious.”
Harry nodded solemnly. “I'm not going anywhere,” he promised.
Sirius smiled a little, and sorted out the memories in his penseive. “Put my finger in that as soon as I come to, okay?
Sirius then poured a measure of the potion into a cup and toasted it to his godson. “Bottoms up,” he said, and proceeded to drain the cup. He had time to set the cup down before his eyes rolled back and his knees gave out.
Harry just managed to catch him, and dragged the grown man as best he could over to the bed against the opposite wall.
Harry sat by Sirius for the full twelve hours, keeping an eye on that fever that did hit, doing his best to keep Sirius from injuring himself as he thrashed about in pain, and watching in completely stupefied wonder as the years just fell away from the man. Years that had been etched more deeply and harshly into him because of Azkaban.
The skinny body filled out, like the starvation had never happened. The teeth became whiter, the gums became pinker. The pallor warmed to a healthy ivory-pink. Even Sirius' hair regained a healthy shine.
Harry couldn't help but wonder, as he watched, what it would be like for him if he decided to take the potion. If he'd even take enough of the potion to set him back far enough that he wouldn't remember that flash of green and that horrible laughter that had haunted his dreams even as a child, and that he now knew were memories of his mother's death at Voldemort's wand.
But did he want to remember his parents that way?
Sirius had given him the chance to see his parents as they had been shortly after his own birth. Lily, exhausted but exultant. James, frazzled but proud. Both of them smiling enough to split their faces in two as Sirius had hesitantly accepted baby Harry into his arms and marvelled at how small and perfect he was.
Harry could grow up with those memories, shared by Sirius, untarnished by his own memories of those last minutes, or Aunt Petunia's poisonous words about freaks .
And, he was sure, Sirius would be right there by his side as Harry suffered through the de-ageing process, just as Harry was there for his godfather right now.
“Shit,” Sirius groaned when he pulled himself out of the memories he'd stored in the penseive twelve hours previous. “Harry?” he asked tentatively.
“Sorry for calling you James,” Sirius offered weakly as he sank back into the sweat-soaked pillow of his bed with a grimace.
Harry chuckled. “About the only thing people tell me about my parents is that I look like my dad, with my mum's eyes. I don't blame you,” he said easily.
“Apart from the penseive memories, the last time I saw you, that I remember, Hagrid was taking you away on Dumbledore's orders,” Sirius agreed. “It's a little hard to connect an adorable little baby like you were with the teenager in front of me.”
Harry laughed. “So, what next?” he asked with a smile.
“Next,” Sirius said with a heavy breath. “Next we go to Gringotts, wade through a few mountains of paperwork to make sure everything is going to work out the way I apparently planned it would, and then you get to sleep for a while and I'll fetch your things from those Dursleys.”
“Before that though,” Sirius continued as he pulled himself upright at last. “Before that, I think we both need a shower, and something in our stomachs.”
Harry couldn't help but smile at that. “Agreed,” he said.
Both of their stomachs gurgled then, joining in that they were quite looking forward to the prospect of food as well.
Both godfather and godson looked to their stomachs, then at each other, and then they laughed.
“Food, then showers,” Sirius corrected with a grin.
In the kitchen, Sirius proved his ability with magic as he made the room alter from “condemned” to “five stars from the health and safety inspector” with a few spells. He then proceeded to quickly return it to a state of “condemned” when he tried to cook.
Harry laughed softly, and told Sirius to let him handle the cooking.
Sirius returned the kitchen to it's “five stars” state with a repeat of his earlier spell-casting, and watched attentively as Harry set about making them both a good-sized meal from what Sirius had available in his ever-fresh pantry.
“Huh,” Sirius grunted as he watched Harry cook. “It's... a bit like making a potion,” he observed, then blinked as he registered that the thirteen-year-old boy was a better cook than he was at twenty, and he'd been living in a bachelor pad on his own for a couple of years. “Harry,” he said. “Where did you learn to cook?”
“My Aunt,” Harry answered as neutrally as he could. “I've been cooking since I could reach the stove. Even if I had to stand on a chair to do it. Roasts, fry-ups, stews, curries, soups, desserts, pasta, pastry, pies, you name it.”
Sirius swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. “I think,” he said, “that you and I have a lot to talk about.”
Harry tensed up by the stove, and Sirius noticed.
“But,” he continued, as though he was going to all along. “It might be easier for you, and more comprehensive for me, if you just put your memories into the penseive and let me look through them. That way, we'll also have a record if you decide to take the de-ageing potion yourself in a week's time.”
Harry relaxed, which Sirius was glad for, and smiled over at him, which Sirius couldn't help but return.
“Thanks,” he said.
Sirius nodded. “What ever is more comfortable for you Harry,” he assured his godson solemnly.
“Thank you Sirius,” Harry repeated sincerely.
Food was consumed – and Harry's cooking was complimented with many delighted groans from Sirius as he enjoyed said food – and then they were up to the bathroom that Sirius had already showered in once, before he'd gone to fetch Harry from Privet Drive. They took turns, and then it was off to Gingotts.
And the mountain of paperwork that was far too literal in its representation.
“My grandfather was Lord Potter?” Harry asked as he stared at one particular sheet of parchment.
“Technically he was Lord Eyre, but that's just the first recorded name of your ancestors, so everybody called him Lord Potter,” Sirius confirmed. “James would have been too, except that he didn't think it was a good idea to come out of hiding just to claim the Lordship. For that matter, I'm claiming my Lordship while we're here,” Sirius added. “There's a parchment for me to sign about that somewhere in this monstrous stack of files and forms,” he grumbled. “We're going to have to look at the people who've been voting in our proxy sometime soon as well.”
“Great,” Harry mumbled with soft sarcasm.
The hours ticked by as the pair worked through the papers, Harry occasionally asking a stunned, confused question, and Sirius giving answers that were, generally, short and straightforward. He'd never cared about certain aspects of being part of an Ancient and Noble House, even if he had learned everything that he'd been taught. He didn't go on in long-winded raptures about the information the way his parents and grandparents had done when they were teaching him.
“Why is Professor Dumbledore taking money out of... the Potter Family Vault?” Harry asked when they were finally down to reviewing the ledgers of the two Houses. Sirius' ledger was bigger, since he was also in charge of the Lestrange vaults, since he was Bellatrix Lestrange's Family Head, and she and the other Lestranges were in prison.
At Harry's most recent question, Sirius' head snapped up from the study of the ledger before him.
“I have no idea,” he honestly replied. “Order his access blocked and have an audit performed. In fact, order access blocked on all Potter vaults to anybody who is not one of the two of us,” he recommended. “And have an audit performed on all of them.”
Harry nodded, and got up to talk to the goblin who had been their point of contact for sending files out after they'd been filled. Harry relayed the request, and signed the cheque the goblin had produced for the cost of the service of a thorough audit on the Potter vaults.
Sirius similarly requested that any items in the Black and Lestrange vaults that registered to spells that detected Dark Magic be gathered up, thoroughly examined, and cleansed if it was possible – destroyed if not.
After that, they went back to Sirius' house to eat and shower again before they both crawled into bed. They were both long overdue some proper sleep, and Harry had been awake for longer than Sirius had been. Kid had almost fallen asleep on the Knight Bus, and even though that bus had beds, actually sleeping on that ride was a damn hard thing to do.
When they woke up again, Harry made breakfast while Sirius showered, they ate together, and then Harry showered while Sirius cast some more cleaning spells around the place.
“So, what today?” Harry asked.
“Today... I think today you'd better put all those memories in the penseive for me to look at,” Sirius decided. “And while you sort that out, I'm going to go and fetch your things from the Dursleys.”
“You won't do anything that will get you in trouble while you're there, will you?” Harry pressed, concerned, and green eyes intent on his godfather.
“Maybe something subtle?” Sirius suggested innocently. “If you're asking at all, then they deserve it. Maybe they can all alternate between diarrhoea and constipation for the rest of the summer?”
Harry chuckled, but shook his head. “With their diets, I'm surprised they don't have those issues already anyway,” he countered with a smile.
Sirius gave a bark of laughter, then checked that Harry knew how to put memories into the penseive before he left to Privet Drive.
Sirius returned from the Dursleys to find Harry upstairs in his room, that is to say, in the room where Sirius slept, and where all his potion-brewing kit was laid out, and where there penseive was, but Harry wasn't hovering over the penseive putting memories in, or viewing them. Harry was standing in front of the potion-making equipment was laid out, and was turning a blood-red stone over and over in his hands.
“That's a Philosopher's Stone,” Sirius said from the door.
Harry turned abruptly.
“Made it in sixth year,” Sirius continued.
“But... I thought only Nicolas Flamel...” Harry hesitated.
Sirius nodded. “He was the first to,” he agreed easily as he stepped into the room and plucked the small rock from Harry's hands. “And certainly the only one to have officially done so. But Flamel... alchemy is still a sort of science, alright?”
Harry nodded, accepting and understanding that much.
“And scientists write down their procedures, their findings, their results. The lot,” Sirius continued to explain as he carelessly tossed the stone from hand to hand. “The trick is finding where he stashed his notes, and then figuring out which ones are relevant. I went on a raid with James when we were visiting the Flamels with his dad back when we were fourteen. You didn't think a de-ageing potion was something that just anybody could make, did you Harry?” Sirius asked, amused. “Ageing potion, yes, the ingredients are all very common, not that many wizards care to age faster. But de-ageing? No.”
Harry shrugged. “I didn't really think about it much at all,” he admitted. “Well, not about what went into it anyway.”
Sirius nodded in acceptance. “Well, the de-ageing potion is a bit of a myth for the rest of the wizarding world. It's a variant of the Elixir of Life, you see. After all, being able to become young again... if every wizard and witch could become young, even at the expense of the memories of their later life, don't you think a number of them would?” Sirius suggested. “And say that someone got hit by a very nasty curse, but the Healers at Saint Mungo's didn't have a way to reverse it. A little de-ageing potion, and it's like they were never hit by that curse in the first place.”
“Saint Mungo's?” Harry repeated, understanding the rest of that statement.
“Hospital in London for magic folk,” Sirius explained shortly.
Harry nodded in understanding.
“So, Elixir of Life, the form that, to my knowledge, Mr Flamel and his wife used, just has them ageing in perpetuity. It doesn't make them young, it doesn't stop them from getting older, it just means they don't die. Not my idea of fun, really. Being that old, getting older, creaking with every movement? No, not my idea of fun. Don't know why they use that one, and they've got to take more of it each day like a tonic now with how old they've gotten.”
Harry winced to himself at that. He'd destroyed their Philosopher's Stone back in his first year, and they'd probably not had time to make another one before they ran out of Elixer.
“The second potion that the Philosopher's Stone gets used for is one that halts ageing,” Sirius continued. “Completely. You're stuck at that age for the next ten years before it wears off, and you've got to take it again exactly on the dot or you'll have suddenly accelerated ageing, bringing you forward to the physical age that you should be by then, a process that I understand is painful and likely to send the body into life-threatening shock. Which makes it potentially fatal if you're not paying attention, quite apart from the fact that people would notice. It would get awkward as your friends grew older around you and you stayed young, but wizards and witches age more slowly anyway, so it's not too big a deal, until they start to demand just why you haven't been sharing your magic potion with them too.”
“And the de-ageing potion essentially send a person mentally and physically back in time, so they wake up having to be told what year it is,” Harry finished.
“Every version has its drawbacks,” Sirius affirmed.
Harry furrowed his eyebrows. “Why did you make it then?” he asked.
Sirius grinned. “To prove that I could!” he exclaimed happily, and then the smile slipped away. “I also thought that I might be able to convince Moony to take a swig, take him back to before he was bitten by Greyback. Then he wouldn't have that furry little problem he's been using for the past few decades as an excuse for not doing more with his life, and... And for myself. My childhood was pretty rotten, Harry. More than once, I had more than half a mind to de-age myself completely, just as soon as I could talk James and Lily into raising me.”
“But you didn't,” Harry pointed out, and implied in that statement was the question of why.
“No, I didn't. The war was going on you see, and we needed every fighter we could get. A little bit of de-ageing potion after a battle, you're back to just how you were before it, good as new. I did that a lot. Just a few drops of a less concentrated version to take me back a few hours, then I'd stick the memories of the battle back into my head from the penseive, and it was all normal again. I forced some of the potion down your dad's throat a couple of times too. Had to bring him home to Lily and you, when he was still fighting, before you all went into hiding.”
Harry smiled a little, grateful for Sirius' intervention on behalf of his dad.
“The potions don't work on dead people though. It can't bring them back to life,” he said mournfully. “These are potions to continue life, to perpetuate it. Not restore it after it's been lost.”
Harry wrapped his arms around his godfather and gave the man a comforting squeeze.
Sirius hadn't really given himself time to mourn Harry's parents yet. It had been his memories, then food and a shower, then off to Gringotts, then sleep, and then Dursleys and now...
“Maybe we could find where they're buried?” Harry suggested softly. “I've never...”
Sirius nodded. “Yeah,” he agreed, his voice thick as tears made his eyes shine as they threatened to fall. “Yeah, let's do that.”
“I want to take the de-ageing potion,” Harry decided, his voice low, as he stared down at the headstone of his parents, freshly transfigured by Sirius, who had taken offence to what had been written there.
“The Last Enemy That Shall Be Defeated Is Death” had been written on two separate markers, and was not what they'd have wanted if they knew it was there. During the war, none of them had really given death too much thought, well, beyond writing out a will, but that was something that they'd all done privately, quietly. Death wasn't something that they talked about, what with how present it was every day. Some things, not even the Marauders could joke about.
Still, even though they'd never talked about it, Sirius wasn't going to leave Dumbledore's version of propaganda – and he was well exposed and disillusioned to it now. He'd never been raised to admire Dumbledore, and with the memories he'd taken from the penseive after taking the de-ageing potion... no, he'd never trust Dumbledore the way he had in the war ever again.
Unswerving loyalty was something Sirius only gave to the Potters now, and there was only one of them left. Not even Moony would get the same from him, much as he still cared for the werewolf, but in the memories Sirius had left for himself, he'd noted that Remus hadn't visited him in Azkaban to so much as demand answers from him. No more. Harry and himself, that was the entire list of people who Sirius would look out for, and in that order.
The two stones were now merged into one, and it read: James Potter, 27 March 1960 – 31 October 1981, Lily Potter, 30 January 1960 – 31 October 1981. Uncommonly Kind, In Vastly Different Ways.
“Alright,” Sirius agreed softly, deciding to let lie that he'd told Harry he wanted the boy to think about it for a week. He'd still just... not be giving Harry the potion until the week was up. “How far back?”
“Before Voldemort ever killed my parents,” Harry answered resolutely.
Sirius nodded. “You'd better write to your friends,” he said. “That girl will especially want to know, if I'm any judge.”
Harry nodded, a half-smile forcing its way onto his face as he thought about Hermione. “She might want in on it as well,” he said. “She's been using a time turner all year to get to her classes, because she was taking every elective.”
Sirius frowned. “I took every elective,” he said. “I didn't need a time turner. Sounds like someone was conspiring against the girl. Time turners are bad for the constitution, and if she was using one... Hmm... I think maybe someone was either conspiring against the girl, hoping she'd burn out, or else trying to force some distance between you and the muggle-born girl.”
Harry frowned at that. “Why would -? Who would -?” he tried to ask.
Sirius shook his head, dismissing the subject for now. “We'll think about it later,” he promised, though he had suspicions.
Suspicions that cast doubt over the same man who was Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot when he'd been denied a trial – twice. Suspicions that questioned the motives of the man who had helped Gellert Grindlewald for years before abandoning that war altogether for three years before he'd become famous for defeating the creator of Numengard. Suspicions that his family, may they all rot for the rest of time, wouldn't have doubted for a second if they'd cared enough to even hear them in the first place.
After all, what did they care about a muggle-born witch and an ignorant little half-blood?
“Maybe we'd better talk to Hermione in person, rather than me just writing her a letter, since she's bound to have questions,” Harry said.
Sirius nodded in agreement. “Might be best,” he allowed with a smile.
“And if you want,” Harry said softly. “If you want, when I'm old enough, I'll raise you.”
Sirius smiled, and those tears finally overflowed. Bitter-sweet tears of love, loss, and gratitude as Sirius wrapped his arms around his godson. “Thank you Harry.”
Thanks for being a great friend, but I've had it with my bloody stupid fame, and the bloody stupid people at Hogwarts – like Snape, and all those gits who thought I was the Heir of Slytherin, and bloody stupid Fudge.
So, I'm going to disappear. I'm actually going to use a potion, so... if we ever do meet again, I'm afraid I won't remember you mate. You probably won't recognise me anyway if we ever do meet again though, so I guess it's not so bad.
Thanks for being my friend.
Gred and Forge
Thanks for looking out for me guys. I'd say I'll always remember you, but that's a lie. I'm taking a potion in a few days so that I can start a whole new life. I won't remember you guys, Hogwarts, the Dursleys, none of it.
I'm going to store those memories in a pensieve though, so if the day comes when I want to learn about the life I gave up... well, I might swing around and say hi, if you guys don't mind.
Along with this letter, I'm sending you my Firebolt, as I'm sure you noticed. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. One is that, well, I'm not going to need it. The second is that, while I don't know how much exactly, I reckon you should be able to sell it for a fair amount of gold, and then you, and possibly even the rest of the team, will all be able to have good brooms. Firebolts aren't really what Beaters need, and if you tell people it was my Firebolt, then the value will probably go up, since I'm the bloody Boy-Who-Lived and all.
Of course, you don't have to spend the money on brooms if you don't want to. I know you have higher ambitions than just being the best Beaters seen in the UK, and certainly better ambitions than just being some poor sod working at the Ministry (though no offence to your dad, since he loves his job, and loving what you do is the best many of us can hope for).
I wish you guys both the best and... I'm not going to need the Map either, so, I return to you the secret of your pranking success at Hogwarts. Incidentally, I have it on good authority that the House Elves can be bribed. You just have to figure out what they want.
All the best,
There's some things we need to talk about, but I don't think a letter is really the way to do it. I know Hedwig will find you even if I have the address wrong, but I hope the address you gave me at the end of first year is the right one. You and your parents haven't moved, right? If it's okay with you and of course them, I'd like to come over on Saturday so we can all talk.
Hope to see you soon,
Sirius and Harry arrived at the door of the Granger family home at ten o'clock on Saturday morning, so as not to be too early in the day as to wake anybody, but not be too late that they wouldn't get through everything that needed to be talked about. Sirius had a small list of things he needed to discuss with the Grangers, quite aside from Harry telling Hermione that he was going to be taking a de-ageing potion.
Among the things Sirius felt that he needed to discuss with the Grangers were the things their daughter and his godson had been getting up to for the past three years at Hogwarts. Harry wasn't good enough to censor his memories when he extracted them for the penseive, so Sirius had been able to see, in the entirety, everything that was wrong with the Hogwarts education the kids were getting these days. Not that it had been exactly ideal when he was attending either, but it had definitely gone down hill since then.
To say nothing of the safety of the students in the school. When he was attending Hogwarts, the only things the students had to worry about was being hexed, and he could admit that, yes, a good portion of the students were being hexed at the end of the Marauder's wands. He wasn't proud of that, but it had still been safer than Harry's time at the school.
After Sirius had emerged from the penseive, he'd grabbed Harry, strapped his arm down, and taken as much blood as he safely could. Harry had, of course, asked why at the time, and Sirius had answered shortly “You were bitten by a bloody basilisk Harry! The effects that might still be having on you! Merlin, the reaction that might have with the de-ageing potion! I mean, it should be alright, but I'm not letting anything bad happen to you Harry.”
Harry had just smiled through the blood-letting after that, apart from when he was eating the food that Sirius shoved under his nose, stunned and delighted in equal parts to have an adult who cared that much about him.
“Harry!” Hermione greeted happily when she opened the door to him. Then she saw the man standing beside Harry, and her expression closed up in puzzlement. “You look... familiar.”
Sirius chuckled. “Well, if the smartest witch of her age can't recognise me, then I should be safe from the misguided Ministry and their damnable Dementors, shouldn't I?” he suggested.
Hermione's eyes went wide. “S- Mr Black!” she quickly corrected herself. Black being a name no one would really look twice at, so it was much safer than exclaiming his given name, which was much less common. Hermione then narrowed her hazel brown eyes at Harry. “Start talking,” she ordered.
Sirius laughed, as did Mr and Mrs Granger from behind Hermione.
“Perhaps inside Hermione dear,” Mrs Granger suggested with a smile. “I don't think this is really a conversation to be had on the front step.”
Hermione blushed, ducked her head in embarrassment, and stepped back so that Harry and Sirius could both come in. She closed the door behind them, and did her best to perform introductions.
“Mum, Dad, this is my best friend, Harry Potter, and his godfather,” Hermione hesitated, then went with the title she'd used before. “Mr Black.”
“Please to meet you, Mum, Dad,” Sirius said with a jocular smirk.
“Dan,” Mr Granger answered with a chuckle in his voice. “And the vision of loveliness at my side generally lets me get away with calling her Emma.”
“Sirius,” Black supplied as he and Dan shook hands.
“Must have been a bit of a troublesome time for you when there were broadcasts everywhere about that criminal Sirius Black having escaped from prison,” Emma offered sympathetically.
“It certainly wasn't fun,” Sirius agreed honestly. “Now, not wanting to seem at all patronising Harry, but I need to discuss a few things with Mr and Mrs Granger, so how about you let Hermione drag you off somewhere else and drag her answers from you,” he suggested to his godson.
Harry gave Sirius a searching look even as he slowly nodded. “Full disclosure?” he asked hesitantly.
Sirius answered with a solemn, silent nod of his head.
“My room's up this way Harry,” Hermione said, and grabbed his hand to drag him off up the stairs at the end of the hall. The eager expression on her face meant that she would be asking a lot of questions soon – and she was going to get answers!
“And the sitting room is this way,” Emma offered with a polite gesture before leading the way through the first door on the right.
Minerva McGonagall stared at the two letters she had received, within days of each other and from the same owl, her eyes shining with tears behind her spectacles. Tears that slowly rolled over her cheekbones and down to her chin. The first letter, held in her left hand, was quite short.
I've decided to run away with my godfather, rather than risk my life (a troll and Voldemort in first year, a basilisk and Voldemort in second, and then dementors in third) and sanity (the Boy-Who-Lived nonsense is just plain sickening) at Hogwarts for another year.
I've decided to give Hedwig to Hermione, so no one will be able to use her to find me.
The second letter, held in Minerva's right hand, wasn't much longer.
Having finally been able to drag the full truth from our daughter after she broke down in tears about a letter delivered to her by this beautiful white owl, we have decided that Hogwarts is not the ideal learning environment for our most precious treasure. We will be seeking private tuition for her from this point on, rather than permitting Hermione to return to your establishment come September.
All the same, we do thank you for your visit and the explanation that our daughter was a witch, and that we no longer needed to pull our hair out with worry over what was happening, and you personally shall be remembered fondly by our family.
Daniel and Emma Granger.
Minerva McGonagall sniffed and set the two letters back down on her desk. She'd read both of them several times since they had been delivered to her, and every time she couldn't help but grieve the loss of those two children. Two of her precious lion cubs. Two of her favourites even, though she would deny having any favourites at all if asked.
Young Harry, who tugged at her heartstrings for how much he resembled his parents, and then made her heart swell with pride and her hands clammy with fear every time she saw him out there on the quidditch pitch. Precocious Hermione, who's deep and driving desire to learn and to excel always brought a proud and content smile to her face when she was marking the girl's essays.
And they wouldn't be returning to Hogwarts.
Minerva wondered how she would tell Albus and the others when she couldn't even bring herself to mutter those words aloud to herself in the total privacy of office days after having received the news.
“Sirius,” Harry called softly from beside his godfather as he passed on lessons in how to prepare food that was fit for human consumption, he kept his green eyes focused on the sausage he was carefully slicing to add to the stir-fry.
“What's on your mind?” Sirius answered, dividing his attention between the carrots he was chopping and his godson – a safe enough thing to do, as he was quite capable of chopping up other sorts of roots and holding a conversation at the same time.
“Thinking about the new life I'm going to have,” Harry admitted.
Sirius nodded. “Glad to hear it,” he approved. “What's bothering you though?”
“I really want to leave the Boy-Who-Lived nonsense behind,” Harry said. “Is there... is there a spell or potion that would turn me into a girl?”
Sirius stopped chopping at that question for a moment, frozen with surprise. “Yes,” he answered, and resumed chopping. “You'd have to take the gender-swap potions after you'd taken the de-ageing potion though, since it would just reverse all the effects, and make you you again. Where'd this idea come from though, if you don't mind me asking?”
“Hermione,” Harry admitted with an easy, crooked smile. “Since the Grangers have agreed to 'adopt' us and up sticks for America... Hermione said she didn't really want two surrogate brothers, and if I was going to do the whole 'completely different life' thing, then it might be an idea to go the whole hog.”
Sirius nodded in understanding. “Sure,” he agreed. “We can do that. You got a name picked out?”
Harry shrugged. “I know which sorts of names I don't want,” he allowed. “I don't want to be called Lily, that was Mum, and after Aunt Petunia... I don't want to be named for any flower. I don't particularly want to be named for any stars either, no offence Sirius,” he added.
Sirius chuckled. “None taken,” he allowed easily. “Apart from being able to make a few puns about my name, I've never been overly thrilled with my name either. Maybe when I take the full-regression I'll have a different name too.”
Harry smiled. “Keeping your manhood though?” he guessed.
Sirius barked out a laugh. “Of course!” he agreed. “I'm too much of a lady's man to want to give that up. Besides, I overheard enough girls complaining about monthly cramps when I was stealing their knickers on dares from your dad to want that.”
Harry pulled a face. He hadn't considered the disadvantages of the change, only that he'd no longer be recognisable as the Boy-Who-Lived. Well, he'd try it for one life-time, and then he'd take the de-ageing potion again at the end of that and live his life as a he again. Just to get the full experience.
He shared this idea with Sirius.
Sirius laughed and abandoned his chopping to get his godson in a headlock and mess up his hair with fond pride, calling him a genius all the while.
The Ancient and Noble House of Potter had once been the Noble House of Peverelle, and before that it had been the House of Eyre. There had been a few other names in between as well, and these changes had generally come about because of the family line being preserved only through the female line for that generation. Now, the Ancient and Noble House of Potter became the Ancient and Noble House of Lewis. Harry had picked out a new name for himself,or rather, herself, as Harry had decided that, womanly troubles and all, he would take the sex-changing potion along with the de-ageing one.
Sirius had gotten a good laugh out of the way Harry had decided to navigate that set of paperwork, and had even declared it such a brilliant idea that he'd do the same. It was all going through the non-magical channels, and then through the goblins before finally being filed with the Ministry of Magic. It was going to be quite a sight, a goblin walking into the Wizengamot with a long scroll and declaring himself to be the new proxy for the seats of Lord Eyre (Harry) and Lord Black (the Black family had always, always, made sure that there was a male heir to carry on the traditional family name, even if they had to invent the gender-changing potions to do it).
Sirius was really thumbing his nose at his whole family, back many generations, by changing his name. The first ever Lord Black to not actually carry the name of Black. He'd decided to change it to Coulson for his new life.
He really owed the Grangers for agreeing to raise him right alongside his godson, but they counted it even if he'd set all his memories in order for the use of teaching as he (and Harry, and Hermione, who was also taking the de-ageing potion so that she could grow up with her new 'brothers) grew again. Sirius was careful to sanitise the lessons that had been given to him by his family before he included them – but include them he did. There was a lot of useful information given in those lessons, loath as he was to actually admit such, particularly the training he'd received as Heir to an Ancient and Noble House. Even Hermione, who wasn't going to inherit like that, would find those lessons beneficial. Once they were sanitised.
No one needed to see the 'punishments' Sirius had received when he got something wrong, or didn't get it fast enough. As the heir presumptive, it had none of it been too bad, but it was still quite bad enough.
Essentially, Sirius' memories were going to be the 'tutors' that the Grangers would employ for their daughter and two new wards when they'd moved across to America.
Honestly, they could all hardly wait to see what would become of their lives once they settled in across the pond.