“What?” Padfoot said, dropping Nature’s Nobility which landed with a thud. “That’s not possible! Reg died first!”
“Not that. Something about an attack on their home,” Harry said.
“On Potter Manor?”
Harry nodded. “A few days after Alexander McKinnon’s body was found, according to this.”
“That’s right,” Padfoot whispered. “Merlin, we were so lucky.”
“Reg came over. We fought about something, I don’t remember what - it probably wasn’t important.” Padfoot smiled guiltily. “I was in such a foul mood I spent the rest of the day throwing furniture around my flat. Prongs and Moony were worried because I hadn’t been answering their firecalls.
“I shouted at both of them when they showed up, so Moony set about making tea and James left and came back a moment later with you - you were only a few weeks old - and Lily.” He smiled. “You could always cheer me up... all of us, actually. You and the Longbottom boy were always brought to Order meetings, partially because no one trusted babysitters and partially because you were both so happy all the time... you reminded us what we were fighting for.
“Anyway, your mum and dad were just about to leave – Peter was supposed to be visiting - when Dumbledore showed up on the verge of tears and said there’d been an attack on the Manor and they were missing. Lily comforted him - poor bloke just about died when he saw them sitting in my living room - and James alternated between making jokes about the whole thing and discussing which hexes to use on the bastards when he next saw them.”
“So what happened?”
“You stayed at my flat with Remus while James, Lils, Dumbledore and I went back to the Manor and packed up your things. Dumbledore moved you into one of the spare teacher’s rooms at Hogwarts and you lived there until you moved to Godric’s Hollow.”
Harry nodded. And we lived there until Halloween, he finished in his head. “It’s strange.”
“To hear about all of this. Even though I was there, I was too little to remember anything-”
Padfoot picked up the copy of Nature’s Nobility and waved it at him. “Of course you were; you were only this big.” Harry stared at the scrap of paper which had just fallen out of the book. “Are there any other articles?”
“Not about them,” Harry answered. “What does that paper say?”
Padfoot frowned and retrieved it. “Another newspaper clipping. ‘Double Arrest: Father and Son attack Ministry Official’,” he read, his face scrunching up and then frowned and lobbed the book into the rubbish bag, but he kept the clipping and stared at it for a few more moments. “My mother probably used it as a bookmark.”
Padfoot offered it to him. Staring back at him was a rather scary looking man with a thin face, thick, matted hair and dark eyes that looked in opposite directions. He bared his teeth - or the ones that were left - at Harry and lunged for whoever was holding the camera. Two wizards stepped forward to restrain him. In the background, clinging to a dilapidated house, shouting and making rude hand gestures, was an older man who looked a bit like a monkey. Harry had to hide a smile when he saw Regulus had circled the hand gesture.
Padfoot had retrieved Nature’s Nobility and was flicking through it carelessly. He read a page in silence and then snorted. He flicked to a page closer to the end of the book and passed it to Harry. “Here. You might find that interesting.”
The Potter Line, proclaimed golden letters at the top of the page. Harry sank onto the bed, entranced and traced the red, silver and black coat of arms with shaking fingers. Around the edges of that were golden words that formed a triangle.
Padfoot was frowning at the clipping about the arrest. “Hmm?”
“What does ‘Aut viam inveniam aut faciam’ mean?”
“It’s about the only Latin I know,” Padfoot said with a wry smile. “‘I’ll either find a way or make one’ is the rough translation. It suited James perfectly, I assure you.” Harry smiled and re-read the words several times to commit them to memory and had a quick read of the Potter family’s history.
“Are we keeping it?” he asked when he was bored.
“The book? Nah, we’ve got about five in the house.” Harry lobbed it into the rubbish bag and went to join Padfoot by the desk. “Could you sort through these?” Padfoot asked.
“What do I do with them?”
“If they sound interesting, keep them. If not...” Padfoot jerked his thumb in the direction of the rubbish bag. Padfoot, still holding that paper clipping, wandered over to sit on the bed and look at the articles there.
Harry sat down amidst a pile of books. Past Ministers: the Infamous and the Inspiring went into the rubbish bag, but the rest of the books were fairly interesting. Moste Potente Potions looked complicated and rather dark - the pictures in particular made Harry cringe - but there were some useful sounding potions in it.
Regulus, for whatever reason, had marked the page of one called ‘Dementor’s Draught’ which forced the drinker to relive their worst memories and also acted as a slow poison - the drinker would live for up to a year with general lethargy, recurring nausea and frequent mood changes unless treated. Some even died from it. The book offered no remedies, however. Harry wrinkled his nose and set that one aside; they’d keep it, he decided, but he’d be happy if he never needed to read it again.
There was also An Advanced Guide to Protective Wards which had no specific pages marked but had obviously been read a number of times; the spine was creased and the edges of the pages were soft and rounded with wear. There was a box-set of Applications of Defensive Magic, but only the volume on dark creatures had been read; the others were all in pristine condition.
“Harry?” Harry glanced up. “Is there a book there on wizarding artefacts over there with you?” Harry shifted Traces and Auras: See The Magic Around You and grabbed a book thinner than the others in the pile, titled History’s Most Magical Wizarding Artefacts.
“Yeah, I thought I saw that. Flick through. See if you can find me an ugly ring with a black stone.”
Harry opened the book and scanned the contents. “Er... there’s Morgana’s ring. It has healing properties, or something.”
“Nah, that’s not it.”
“That’s the only ring,” Harry said. “As far as stones go... there’s the Philosopher’s Stone and the Resurrection Stone.”
Padfoot shook his head. “The article says Marvolo Gaunt thought his name and his ring would protect him. Are you sure there’s no Peverell ring in there?”
“Pretty sure,” Harry said apologetically. “You can check-”
Padfoot shook his head again. “How about Slytherin’s ring?”
“Slytherin only had a locket,” Harry said, opening to the locket’s page.
Padfoot made a face and held up the clipping of the old Gaunt making hand gestures. “I thought Reg had circled the ring,” he said. Only then did Harry notice the man was in fact wearing a ring, just as Padfoot had described; ugly with a black stone. “It seemed like something he would do. More so than him circling the hand gesture anyway. Maybe we were more similar than I ever thought-”
“Dinner!” Padfoot and Harry exclaimed happily as Kreacher appeared, holding two bowls of soup.
“French onion?” Harry asked hopefully, setting the book aside.
Kreacher bobbed his head. “Kreacher knows the brat is partial to it.”
“Thanks,” Harry said, accepting a bowl and a spoon from the elf.
“I’ve told you not to call him brat,” Padfoot growled. Kreacher froze. “Call him Harry or Master.”
“I don’t mind,” Harry said, trying to avert another round of pointless bickering. Padfoot rolled his eyes. Harry glanced at Kreacher, but the elf didn’t look back; he was staring at the book next to Harry, the one with the picture of the locket, and wearing a horrified expression. “Kreacher?”
Kreacher made on odd shrieking sound, shoved the second bowl at Padfoot and Disapparated. Padfoot waved his wand at the spilt soup. “Mad elf,” he grumbled. Harry was inclined to agree.
Kreacher was elusive after that. Weeks passed and April became May and even then he rarely spoke, even to insult them, and he spent the majority of his time skulking around in the drawing room on the first floor, polishing the cabinets and mumbling to himself.
“He’s cracked,” Padfoot was prone to saying, every time either of them poked their head in to check on him.
Kreacher would mutter, “The family mustn’t know, oh no,” and became increasingly hysteric if either of them asked too many questions.
Padfoot’s room– which hadn’t been cleaned for almost thirteen years – was taking much longer; they’d uncovered a nest of doxies there – Harry had been bitten and spent two days in bed while Padfoot fussed over him – and a set of robes in the wardrobe – which had been a prank present from James - were supposed to hug the wearer but had tried to strangle Padfoot instead. He’d set them on fire in retribution.
Aside from that, however, things were going well. They’d finished cleaning Regulus’ room and replaced the old curtains, quilts and pillows with new ones - red mostly - and Padfoot had repainted the walls - the same white as they had been - so no traces of the Black family crest remained. Padfoot had even duplicated a Gryffindor banner from his old room - which they were in the process of cleaning - and hung it above Harry’s desk with the promise they’d change it if he wasn’t made a Gryffindor.
Harry’s lessons were also going well. Padfoot had covered some history, going over Dumbledore’s fight with Grindelwald and also the war against Voldemort. Harry had also had some success with potions; he’d made a cure for boils properly after three attempts, he’d made a potion that induced babbling for an hour, a basic sleeping drought and a simple colour-change potion that acted similarly to muggle hair-dye; Padfoot had sported bright blue hair for days after Harry slipped it into his afternoon cup of tea.
Harry, who knew his godfather had a good sense of humour and had done much worse during his school days, had expected a laugh and a half-hearted reprimand. Instead, Padfoot had beamed and taken him out for ice cream as soon as the potion wore off.
Harry had also been getting better with the jinxes and minor hexes Padfoot had taught him. His Body-Bind was quite strong and he had managed to perform a half-decent Tickling Hex; Padfoot had immediately tried to teach him the more complex Tickling Charm, which Harry was absolutely hopeless at.
Padfoot had also taught him a very simple Soap Spell - a more manageable spell than the Scourgify Padfoot was always threatening to use if Harry swore - that was useful for cleaning - since Kreacher wasn’t cleaning at all - and a Polishing Charm so that he could help around the house. The house itself was coming along, though slowly.
“So how do I do it again?” Harry asked.
“Hold on.” Padfoot kicked his sleeping bag, though he hadn’t been using it - since they’d cleaned Regulus’ room up, Padfoot had been sleeping as a dog at the end of Harry’s bed - away from the hearth. “All right, so, you take a handful of Floo Powder, throw it in the fire and then say where it is you want to go. Keep your eyes closed and try not to fidget too much.”
“Okay,” Harry said. He was a little nervous about travelling through fire, but he was also eager to try it.
“It’s easy,” Padfoot said. “I learned when I was about four. Just be very clear about what you’re saying. I‘ll see you in the library.”
Harry nodded again. Padfoot grinned and held the little pot out to him. Harry took a handful and tossed it in the fire. The flames flared green. Padfoot nodded. Harry stepped into the grate and immediately breathed in a mouthful of hot ash. “Lib-ra-ar-ry,” he coughed. Padfoot made a grab for him but Harry was already being pulled.
He was spinning and the fire was roaring around him, blinding green and hot, but it wasn’t burning him. He squirmed and knocked his knee against something hard, and then his elbow. How long is this going to take? Harry wondered. Surely getting upstairs should only take a few seconds.
Suddenly the green was gone and he was falling; he threw his arms out in front of him to stop his fall and felt his left wrist crack. His glasses flew off his nose. Tears sprung into his eyes, blurring his vision more than usual and he sat up, cradling his hand. He was still very dizzy and his knee and elbow hurt but they were nothing compared to his throbbing wrist. His ears were still ringing.
“Hey, kid! Are you all right?!”
“I hate the Floo network,” Harry muttered, wiping his eyes. Then he froze. That wasn’t Padfoot’s voice. And the library was carpeted, not hard wood. He wiped the last of the tears away and looked around. He was in a dark, smoky room filled with people. The roaring sound was still there, but now Harry realised that was people talking. Some part of him recognised the Leaky Cauldron. “This- this isn’t the library,” he heard himself say. And then what had happened sunk in. He hurriedly smoothed his fringe down to hide his scar and, upon finding them, stuffed his glasses into his pocket.
“Do you think he’s concussed?” Two pairs of hands pulled him to his feet.
“How am I supposed to know?” a girl asked. “Ron, go get Mum.”
“You get Mum!” another boy’s voice answered.
“Don’t worry about it,” Harry said quickly, unable to see them without his glasses on, but unless he was going mad, he thought he could see a lot of red. “I’m fine.”
“Then why are you holding your wrist?” the girl challenged.
“I’m fine,” Harry said again. “I’m going to be late.”
“Where are you going?” one of the boys asked.
“To meet my...er... dad.”
“Where is he?”
“Florish and Blotts,” Harry said. “He’s... er... picking up my... er... school books. Mum sent me to help him.”
“Are you going to Hogwarts?” the girl asked wistfully.
“Er... yeah, start this year,” Harry said.
“Us too!” two of the boys said in unison. Harry winced. “What House?”
“Dunno,” Harry said. “I really have to go though. Thanks again.”
“Bye,” the girl and one of her brothers said.
“See you at school,” the other two said.
Harry, still cradling his wrist, managed to find his way to the door and out into the little courtyard that led to Diagon Alley. As soon as he established there was no one there he jammed his glasses back on, pulled his wand out, checked his pockets for money - he had a sickle and a few knuts - and evaluated his options.
He didn’t know how to open Diagon Alley - both times they’d come, Padfoot had done it - or he probably would have gone to ask Mr Ollivander for help, but asking someone else to open it would draw attention to him. He could Floo back but he wasn’t feeling overly confident with that, and, as Secret Keeper, it probably wouldn’t do for him to be shouting their home address to the crowded bar. That left muggle London. He would have to walk; a sickle wasn’t going to get him very far at all amongst muggles.
Harry reluctantly put his wand away, pulled the hood of his jacket up so it covered his face and ducked back into the bar. Three red-haired children were telling their plump mother about a strange boy and the Floo. The girl looked up as he walked in but he carefully avoided eye contact and she looked away again. Unfortunately, in his attempts to appear inconspicuous, Harry collided with another redhead who was coming out of the bathroom.
“Oh, it’s you,” the boy said. He was short and chubby - maybe a few inches smaller than Harry - with a long, freckly nose, blue eyes and bright red hair. He looked to be about Harry’s age. “Weren’t you meeting your dad? And where’d you get glasses?”
“Er...” Harry cast a fearful glance over his shoulder.
The boy’s eyes widened. “I know who you are!”
“Shh!” Harry hissed. He stuffed his wand in his pocket and dragged the boy into a corner.
“I thought you were dead!” the boy exclaimed.
“Shh!” Harry said again.
“Sorry,” the boy whispered. He looked at Harry. “This is so weird!”
“I was never here,” Harry said, desperate. “Please!”
“All right,” the boy said. “Don’t get your wand in a twist.”
“Thanks,” Harry said, relieved.
“No problem.” The boy hesitated and then held out his hand. “I’m Ron. Ron Weasley.”
“Harry Potter,” Harry said softly and let go of his wrist to shake it.
“Are you hurt?” Ron asked, glancing at his wrist.
“I’m fine,” Harry said.
“I could ask- Mum’s just over there if you want-”
“It’s fine,” Harry said again. “Really.”
Ron glanced at his wrist again but didn’t say anything more on the topic. “Why are you here?” he asked instead. “Did you escape?”
“No,” Harry said a little coolly. “I got lost in the Floo.”
“My brother George did that once,” Ron said with an easy grin. “Fred was doing his nut. I thought he might marry the little old witch that brought him back, he was so happy.”
“Who’re-?” Harry asked, momentarily distracted from his own troubles.
“My brothers. They’re over there.” Harry had a surreptitious look over his shoulder at the twin boys sitting at the table with their mother and sister. The sister kept glancing in their direction, nervously, but every time Harry met her eyes, she turned around again. He was just grateful she had the sense to stay quiet. Ron frowned suddenly. “Are you really going to Hogwarts this year?” he asked. “Or did you just say it so we’d leave you alone?”
“I-” But Harry never got to answer. A woman at the bar turned around curiously and spied the pair of them. She looked at him for a moment and then her eyes widened and she let out a shriek and slopped her drink all over herself.
“It’s Harry Potter!” she screamed.
Harry threw Ron an apologetic look and bolted. He made it out onto the street but what seemed like half the pub had followed. “Wait, Potter!” one witch was shouting.
“He’s mine!” screamed a wizard.
Harry had never been so scared in his life. He ran past a muggle couple and was almost hit by a woman on a bicycle as he bolted across Charing Cross Road. He couldn’t even get to his wand because he was supporting his wrist.
“Did someone- Harry?” a man in torn jeans asked as he ran past. Harry ignored him, but he heard the man start to run too.
He ducked down a side street between a shabby inn and a Chinese restaurant and then around another one, which took him to a high walled courtyard behind a bar. He glanced down two alleys trying to guess which one would get him out of there and in the end headed left; his followers had their wands out and were trying to stop him.
Harry felt fear twist his insides as he turned another corner, but there was something else there too, besides fear. Something warm, something alien yet familiar all at the same time. Magic, Harry realised. But how am I supposed to use it? Accidental magic had always been just that; accidental.
“Potter, come here!” bellowed a woman.
Harry gathered the magic he could feel building and prepared to use it. “Stupefy!” one wizard shouted.
He was forced to turn another corner and ran straight into a rubbish bin. It fell over with a loud bang and Harry landed on his wrist again with a shout of pain. His magic vanished. He heard footsteps and fumbled for his wand but couldn’t get it before a pair of torn jeans walked into his line of sight and a sandy-haired man knelt down beside him. “Are you hurt?”
“No,” Harry lied. His good hand wrapped around his wand. The man made a noise that might have been amusement and tapped Harry’s left arm with his own wand. Bandages wound around his wrist and tied themselves neatly. “Thanks,” he muttered.
“He’s got him!”
Harry let go of his wand and let the man help him to his feet. As soon as he was standing, the man stepped between him and the crowd. Harry reached for his wand again.
“Who threw that Stunner?!” the man who’d helped him demanded.
“That’s Harry Potter!”
“I know bloody well who it is!” the man shouted back at them, sounding annoyed. “And he’s been the victim of this whole Sirius Black mess, not the perpetrator, so I’ll thank you not to throw spells at an eight year-old!” Harry didn’t wait to hear the rest. The man seemed sufficiently distracted, and so did the others so he slipped down another side street and took off running again. His wrist didn’t hurt nearly as much as it had but he was still worried about getting home.
He followed the alley to a busy street that Harry thought was Shaftesbury Avenue. He pulled his hood up again and slipped into the crowd. Aunt Petunia had always told him to stay where he was if he got lost but he was fairly sure that advice was only useful if the person looking for him had a vague idea of where he was. Besides, if Padfoot couldn’t find him, neither could the other witches or wizards.
He walked a short distance from a young, dark-haired woman - close enough that anyone else would mistake them for family, but far enough away that it wouldn’t unnerve her - the way he’d used to do when he was younger; he’d liked to pretend he wasn’t related to the Dursleys, if only for a few minutes.
He wasn’t quite sure where he was going and he wasn’t thick enough to start asking for directions to Grimmauld Place, so he just walked, trying to put as much distance between him and the Leaky Cauldron as possible.
* * *
He’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive, Remus sang to himself, even as he shouted at the people who’d attacked Harry. He knew that Harry was alive of course, because the Department of Magical Records had not reported his death, but that had done little to allay Remus’ fears. He’s alive, he’s al-
“He’s gone!” one witch screeched. “You let him get away!”
Remus turned and swore. “Harry!” he called, ducking down a sidestreet. Harry was nowhere in sight. Remus ran a hand through his hair, agitated and sniffed the air. There was a faint smell of fear, determination and something that was almost James, almost Lily and almost Sirius but was none of them, lingering down a street to his right. He followed without hesitation and came out on a busy muggle road.
The scent was harder to track here, with more people, but Remus reasoned he couldn’t have gone far yet and had to be around somewhere... Children... Remus thought, glancing around.
There was a blond boy standing with an old man that appeared to be his grandfather, a dark haired boy trailing a little girl with pigtails - for a moment Remus thought it might be him but the boy’s hair was too flat - another boy was waiting by a bus-stop, but he was too chubby... Remus thought with a pang, of Peter. Another boy bumped into him and stopped to say something - an apology, he thought - before hurrying after a woman who Remus presumed was his mot- Hold on.
The boy had his hood up - which drew attention to start with - and was holding his wrist at an odd angle, as if it was sore. Remus was fairly sure the clothes were the ones Harry had been wearing, and the woman he was walking near was not walking as if she had a child.
She wasn’t glancing in his direction every few moments, or holding his hand, or even making any indication that he was there at all. She didn’t look angry, either, as if they’d had a fight and so was ignoring him. The boy took a wary glance around and Remus saw glasses flashing beneath the hood.
Found him. Remus hurried after, unwilling to scare Harry into running, but he wasn’t prepared to lose him either, and Sirius could show up at any moment. Until Sirius did show up, though, Harry wasn’t in any immediate danger and he was likely to lead Remus all the way to where they’d been living.
* * *
Harry’s ‘mother’ vanished into a bakery so Harry picked another parent figure - a short, balding man, this time - and followed him instead. This man walked almost all the way down the street and then wandered into a telephone box. Harry pressed on. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been walking but he found himself on Charing Cross Road again, and he was fairly sure he knew his way from there to Kings Cross Station.
He joined the end of a line of school kids who’d just got off a bus. The teacher was talking to one interested boy at the front but everyone else was talking amongst themselves and no one seemed to notice Harry. He threw his hood off - their jumpers were a bright blue and his jacket was green but it was close enough.
He followed them until they stopped at Bedford Square and then continued past. “Hey, kid!” he heard. Harry ignored it and kept walking. “Potter!” His head twitched in the direction of the voice before he winced, realising he should have just ignored it. A large man appeared next to him and grabbed his upper arm with a hairy hand. Harry tried to prise the fingers off. “None of that, now,” he said. “You’re gonna buy me a new house.”
“I’ve only got a sickle,” Harry protested, struggling.
The man snorted. “Malfoy’s got a bit more’n a sickle for anyone that brings ‘im you.”
“Let me go,” Harry said.
“Let go!” he yelled.
“Is everything all right?” a woman with a large handbag asked, giving them a strange look.
“I warned you we’d go home if you weas naughty so don’t pretend to be surprised.” Harry tried to twist free but couldn’t. “If y’don’t stop fighting, I’ll tell your mother! I” the man shouted. “And she’s already gonna be plenty mad at you for gettin’ hurt!” Harry blinked. The woman seemed appeased and walked away. “Now, stop making such a scene,” the man said in a low voice. He pulled Harry down a dim sidestreet and started to reach for his wand. Harry twisted free, and this time it worked. He didn’t stop to ponder his good luck though, and took off at a run. “You little berk!” the man bellowed. “Pedis Offensio!” Harry stumbled and fell. His wrist twinged.
He was hauled roughly to his feet by his bad arm. His other arm, however, was free. He grabbed his wand out of his back pocket and cast the first spell that came to mind, not caring that is was a cleaning spell. “Saponum!” Large, glossy bubbles formed in the man’s mouth and stung his eyes. He cursed, using a word Harry’d never even heard Padfoot use and Harry managed to get free again. He ran down another narrow alleyway, around a corner, and skidded to a stop in front of a dead end wall.
* * *
Harry was reasonably good at not drawing attention to himself. Remus had almost lost him a while back, at least until he spotted the green jacket in the midst of all the blue ones. The school Harry had been walking with vanished into a large park and then a man appeared and grabbed Harry’s arm.
Remus tore his wand out of his pocket - Harry was struggling and looked frightened which was a good enough incentive for him to blast this very large, very hairy man back to wherever he’d come from- and then a woman was in the way. Remus lowered his wand. She exchanged words with the pair and moved away, giving him an odd look as she passed.
The man dragged Harry into an alleyway. Remus’ heart was in his throat. He broke into a run but something - approaching from the other direction - beat him there.
It was a dog. An enormous bear-like dog with shaggy black fur. He froze, but it didn’t seem to have noticed him. Remus forced himself to move faster. He ran around the corner, almost losing his footing - in... bubbles? - and continued down and around another corner-
There was a loud BANG, like a car backfiring and the alley exploded; Remus was thrown off his feet, his wand landing several yards away. The man holding Harry was thrown into a wall. The walls themselves were trembling and dust and chunks of grey brick rained down. Harry himself was unharmed, but he was looking around warily, wand out.
And then Remus saw him striding calmly toward James and Lily’s son. Sirius. The man who had ruined everything. The man who had destroyed his entire world in a matter of hours. The man who had destroyed it again only a few weeks ago. He was thinner than Remus remembered, but not as thin as he’d expected, or as dirty. He was cleanly shaven, his hair was washed and he was dressed not dissimilarly to Remus in jeans and a shirt. His expression, however, was murderous. Remus reached for his wand.
“Oh, thank Merlin,” he heard Sirius say as he reached Harry. Harry was pulled into a tight hug - one that he appeared to be returning - and then Sirius let him go.
“How-?” Harry asked, weakly.
Sirius said something in a low voice and the only word Remus caught was ‘creature’. Sirius knelt to check on the man he’d attacked. Remus almost had his wand - his fingers were brushing the smooth wood of its handle - and neither Sirius or Harry knew he was there. Sirius checked the hairy man’s pulse, Summoned an old pizza box from a rubbish bin by the wall, tapped it once and after a flare of blue light, the man vanished. A- a Portkey? Remus wondered and then shook his head.
Sirius turned back to Harry and frowned. “What happened to your wrist?” Remus heard Harry say something about the Floo and held his arm out for Sirius to look at. Remus lifted his wand, and then Sirius said, “Moony.”
His head snapped up just as Remus Disarmed him. Harry jumped and gave Remus a betrayed look. “Moony,” Sirius said again, urgently, moving in front of Harry as if Remus was the threat. “Moony, please.” The name sent daggers through him, a thousand times more painful than any full moon. “You don’t understand,” Sirius said.
Remus opened his mouth to say the spell that would kill Sirius but what came out was, “How did you know it was me?”
“You always do a funny little bow on your bandages,” Sirius said, never breaking eye contact. “Moony-”
“Don’t call me that!” Still, Remus made no move to actually attack. His hand seemed frozen, his wand trained on Sirius’s heart.
“Remus, then. Please. I know what you think and you’re wrong. It wasn’t me. It never was. It was Peter-”
“Don’t talk about him!” Remus shouted. “You’re a traitor-”
“Peter was the traitor!” Harry yelled. “He killed my parents!”
“Sirius killed your parents, Harry, not Peter. Peter’s dead. Sirius killed him and he’s going to try to kill yo-”
Harry stepped out from behind Sirius and put himself between the two adults. “I’ve been living with Padfoot for months,” he said, holding Remus’ eyes with his own eyes, eyes that were so much like Lily’s, “and I’m fine. He isn’t trying to hurt me, he’s-”
“Get out of the way, please, Harry,” he said, trying to get a clear shot at Sirius.
“No,” Harry said.
“No,” Harry said again.
That’s what did it; Harry, Harry who looked so much like James standing in front of Sirius, to protect him, as if Sirius wasn’t responsible for everything that had gone wrong in both Harry and Remus’ lives, as if he wasn’t responsible for the deaths of Lily, James and Peter. “Dormio,” he murmured, and flicked his wand in Harry’s direction. It was regrettable, but he couldn’t risk Harry getting in the way of something more sinister.
He saw that Sirius recognised the Sleeping Spell – of course he would recognise it; he and James had used it to get Remus to sleep after full moons - and didn’t act to move Harry out of the way. It was for the best, and he seemed to realise that. I think he cares for him on some level at least, Remus thought, and wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that.
Harry’s eyes widened - he looked utterly terrified, in fact - but he didn’t move. He winced as the spell was about to hit him- but the pale blue light fizzled out inches from his chest. Remus’ eyes widened. What’s Sirius been teaching him?! Sirius, however, looked just as shocked. Accidental magic, perhaps, Remus thought, glancing at Harry who now looked determined. But why’s he protectin- Sirius made a dive for his wand.
Remus shot a Stunner at him but it missed, deflected by some unseen force. Harry, Remus thought tiredly. Sirius’s hand closed around his wand. Remus shot another spell at him, a Disarmer this time, but Sirius rolled out of the way. Remus slashed at the air, sending spell after spell at his old friend but none made contact.
“Moony, please just listen,” Sirius panted.
“Don’t call me that!” Remus said, throwing another hex. Sirius sought cover behind an overturned rubbish bin. “Coward,” Remus spat. He was forced to block a spell from Harry - a Body Bind - and then a more pressing Disarmer from Sirius. He sent Sirius into hiding behind another rubbish bin with Binding spell, sent sparks in Harry direction as a distraction, and then stepped around effectively backing Sirius into a corner. Finally.
“Moony,” Sirius said, eyes wide as Remus sent his wand flying. “Please.”
“Petrificus Totalus!” he heard from behind him. He blocked the spell easily but the distraction was enough. A blur of black fur streaked between his legs, knocking him over. Harry had retrieved Sirius’ wand and held it out to him. Sirius transformed, his fingers closing around his wand and Harry threw his arms around his waist. CRACK!
Remus sent a Stunner at the place where they vanished but he was too late. The red sparks exploded on the alley wall. Remus spun, growling in frustration and came face to face with two men. Aurors, if the round, golden badges they wore chained to their robes were any indication.
“Where’s Harry Potter?” one of them demanded. “The Trace said he was here.”
“You’ve just missed him,” Remus told them curtly. “Sirius Black took him. Again.”
The pair exchanged glances. “We’re going to have to ask you to come with us,” said the one with yellow eyes.
“What for?” Remus asked, tucking his wand into his pocket.
“We’ve spent the last hour following his Trace all over this side of London and yet somehow, you’re here, before us...” The one with blue eyes prodded Remus in the chest with his wand. “How’s that possible? Are you working with Black?”
“Excuse me?” Remus asked, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
“What my colleague is try-” the yellow-eyed man began but he never finished; Remus crossed the distance between them and punched him square in the face.