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Local Preteens Entrap Murderous Wraith (You Won’t Believe What Happens Next)

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After, Harry returns to the classroom Dumbledore warded—the one where Peter Pettigrew’s trapped form is suspended in midair, held in place by a web of magic the Headmaster conjured before he went to gather the Aurors. The man’s face is twisted in fear—only his chest and eyes move as he breathes, as his gaze darts around the room, looking for an escape he won’t find.

He's lost track of how long he’s been standing there, just watching, when he hears the door creak open, hears quiet footsteps over stone.

“Do you know what this means?” Sirius Black—his godfather— asks. He leaves the doorway, steps up to Harry’s side. “Turning him in?”

Harry peers up at him.

Black still looks a lot like the man in the wanted posters; two days of rest aren’t nearly enough to fix years of damage. Still, he looks happier, and certainly cleaner. “It means you’re free,” he says.

“Well, yes.” Black looks down, sticks his hands in the pockets of his borrowed trousers. “But I’m also—I don’t know if anyone ever told you.” He stops, takes a breath, and says in a rush, “I’m your godfather.”

Harry grins. “I know.”

“You—oh. Well…” Black clears his throat, meets his gaze briefly before looking away again. “Your parents wanted me to be your guardian,” he says, “if anything ever happened to them.”

Is he…?

Harry waits, holding his breath.

“I’ll understand, of course, if you want to stay with your aunt and uncle. But, well… Just think on it. Once my name’s cleared…if you wanted a—a different home…”

Some sort of explosion takes place in the pit of Harry’s stomach. “You mean—live with you?” he asks, surprised even though he half expected it. Even though he’d hoped. Because no one’s ever wanted him before—they’ve all just gotten stuck with him, one way or another. Then his face falls as he thinks of what Voldemort would say. “I can’t.”

“Right. Of course,” Black says quickly, shoulders hunching forward, “I understand. I suspected you wouldn’t want—I just thought I’d—“

Harry is already shaking his head. “No, that’s not—I do want to, only—”

“Family is family, and I’d hate to…to take you away from your aunt and uncle—“

“I’m not living with my aunt and uncle!” Harry says, all but shouting.

Black stops, finally. He frowns. “You…what? Then who’re you living with?”

Harry crosses his arms, glaring at the floor. Dumbledore said not to tell anyone, but. Well. It’s his life, isn’t it? He’s the one who gets to decide. He takes a deep, fortifying breath and says, “Voldemort.”

For a long moment, Black doesn’t say anything at all.

Harry peeks up at him, meets his blank stare. “Sorry,” Black says eventually, shaking his head. “I could’ve sworn you said—"

“I did.”

“…Oh.”

“Dumbledore knows.”

“Oh,” Black says again. His expression darkens, and suddenly he looks very much like his wanted posters again. “I…see.” When Black’s hand lands on his shoulder, squeezing, he jumps at the touch. “I’m sorry to say this, Harry," he says with a wild look in his eyes, "but I think I have to kill him.”

“Which one?” Harry asks, eyes wide.

After a beat—“Both, I think.”

“…Right.” He grabs his godfather by the sleeve, tugs him away from Pettigrew’s cage, out of the old classroom and back toward the Hospital Wing. “Well, you can certainly try.”