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“Is that seat taken?” Sirius Black asked.
Escape From Privet Drive
“Ow! Dudley, stop!” cried the smaller of the boys who were tussling on the grass under a large tree. The blond woman with them glanced up at the sound, shifted on the park bench and slowly lowered her pale eyes back to the magazine she was reading.
Gringotts Wizarding Bank
Padfoot and Harry stood before a door covered in peeling black paint. At least Harry assumed it was a door; there was a silver snake knocker and a doorbell alongside but no doorhandle. Padfoot tapped it with his wand and it swung open. “This is home,” Padfoot said grimly.
The Boy Who Disappeared
For all that Aunt Petunia had seemed to hate Padfoot’s wand the day before, Harry thought she might have made good use of one herself; the quarter-of-an-inch thick dust that covered everything vanished with a flick of Padfoot’s wrist, and a murmured spell was all that was needed to scrub the faded wallpaper clean and replaster it, or have the sponges polish the grimy windows all by themselves.
A Safe Place
Sirius knocked gently on his old bedroom door. “Harry?” There was no response. “Can I come in, kiddo?” He waited out on the landing for a few seconds and then got impatient. If he didn’t want me to come in, he would have said something. Let's just hope he's a brooder like Prongs and not a shouter like Lils... or me for that matter.
Return To Diagon Alley
“I trust everyone here remembers Remus Lupin?” Dumbledore said, beaming around at his staff. It was the Easter holidays - not that that affected Remus terribly much, but the Hogwarts staff members had been quite busy until then.
Victims Of War
It was always cold and windy in Azkaban, Draco thought grumpily, as he tried in vain to smooth his hair down. He, Mother and Hydrus stepped away from the rusted key that was their Portkey and headed up the narrow stone path that wound up the side of the cliff face.
The Floo Fiasco
“What?” Padfoot said, dropping Nature’s Nobility which landed with a thud. “That’s not possible! Reg died first!”
Of Mice And Men
“Oi, Draco! Look!” Hydrus shouted as his broomstick went whooshing past.
An Unlikely Allegiance
Ostendere me omnia, Harry thought. His vision flickered and there was a flash of colour and then Harry’s vision flickered again and went back to normal.
Harry jumped and looked at the doorway but Padfoot wasn’t there. Frowning, he turned his attention back to the locket and dropped it in surprise. There was an eye in each window, dark and intelligent, watching him.
Charlie leaned forward so that he could see around Alison Pemberly’s head; she’d played chess and then Exploding Snap with them until about an hour ago and then she’d gone unnaturally quiet and turned toward the window.
Harry’s insides relaxed and he let go of his godfather’s hand. Finite, he thought quickly; there was magic everywhere, in every colour, shape, style and concentration he could imagine and it was almost overpowering.
“Padfoot,” was the first thing Harry said. He opened his eyes and was dazzled by bright, fiery lights. He snapped his eyes shut again. He’d seen enough fire.
Questions And Answers
Icy hands tightened around his throat. Sirius had no choice but to transform back so that he’d be able to use his own hands and try to get the wretched thing off. He couldn’t. It was too strong and that foul brew of Voldemort’s was hardly a Pepper-Up Potion. His vision was already flickering. It was only a matter of time before he was unconscious.
Moony And Padfoot
Remus was very, very still. “You would trust me?” he asked, finally. He looked like he might cry.
She’d known he’d escaped from Azkaban; Mad-Eye and then Dumbledore had both visited in February and told her to keep an eye out in case he tried to visit the house he so despised. Until then, she hadn’t known the significance of the house next door and had simply assumed the owners didn’t get out much. Sort of like her.
Mirrors At The Ministry
“Keith?” Tonks said, a little surprised as she pulled open the front door.
Puddifoot's And Post-Boxes
Tonks waited nervously; it was the end of her second day as an Auror trainee and they’d be finding out who’d made it past the preliminary testing.
“So the old codger’s broken into my house, scared me awake at five-thirty in the morning on the day of a full moon and demanded- Stop laughing, Sirius, it’s not funny! - breakfast!” Padfoot wasn’t the only one laughing at poor Moony; Harry was doubled over his plate in stitches, his glasses perilously close to slipping off and landing in his mashed potato.
Into The Wolf's Den
“Harry!” Padfoot, who had been pacing in front of the kitchen table, looked up, stepped forward and intercepted Harry as he came out of the fire. “Cupboard!” he said, waving a hand at a rather green Kreacher, who bowed unsteadily and vanished with far more noise than usual.
Feuds And Fairy Eggs
“Where have you been?” Prewett whispered as Tonks sidled into the room, late. Scrimgeour glanced at her, and then his yellow eyes flicked over to where Mad-Eye was standing, looking like he’d been there the whole time. Tonks waited until Scrimgeour was distracted by a question from the Brown boy.
Harry woke up in a bad mood. He’d spent the night tossing and turning, dreaming that that Padfoot really was a werewolf and that he’d tried to eat Snape while Moony, and to his even greater horror, James – who’d looked a lot like he usually did in the mirror – laughed cruelly. All the while, Snape’s voice had whispered, Black is a monster. He was capable of murder at the age of sixteen and your precious father was no better.
Hide And Seek
Harry didn’t waste any time. He called Kreacher, explained everything in three short, rather terse sentences and then dragged him upstairs. Even as they ran up, the portraits came zooming down out of Kreacher’s cupboard. Mrs Black screeched at Harry as she passed him on the stairs, and almost knocked him over.
“Remus!” Matt exclaimed, looking worried and relieved all at once. “What’s going on? Where-”
An Ingenious Plan
“I don’t know,” Moony muttered; he and Padfoot were holding a whispered conversation a few feet behind Harry.
Want And Need
“Draco,” Lucius said, “would you check on Dobby’s progress, please?”
Revisiting The Past
“But, but sir-” Severus spluttered.
“Theodora? Er... Tock?”
Life After Death
“Matt made it home, then?” Sirius asked, as Remus Flooed into the kitchen midway through dinner. Kreacher handed him a loaded plate, which Remus took gratefully and sat down in the seat opposite Harry, who was listening intently.
A Forgotten Favour
November’s full moon fell on the tenth, which was Padfoot’s birthday. Padfoot hadn’t mentioned his birthday at all – Moony later wondered aloud to Harry that he didn’t want to turn thirty – but Moony had remembered it and so had Kreacher, who’d been the one to tell Harry.
An Overdue Explanation
Secrets Of The Darkest Art was a source of Padfoot’s amusement for almost a month. Harry didn’t know how he could find it even remotely humourous after the first day, but he did. Harry thought he’d have stopped sooner if Harry wasn’t so embarrassed by the whole ordeal.
“I’m a terrible person for doing this,” Tonks muttered as she squeezed through Remus’ kitchen window. The owl on the perch above the sink – Strix, presumably – ruffled its feathers and shuffled over as she toppled through. It hooted as she knocked a plate off of the dish-rack. Remus really had left in a hurry if he’d left it full. “Damn it,” she muttered; she’d stepped on one of the shards in the dark and it had stabbed her through her sock.
A Delicate Balance
“... gobstone, pawn, Merlin Chocolate Frog Card and...” Draco hesitated. “A rock?”
“Nymphadora! Keith was just about to go and pick you up!” Roberta exclaimed.
A Perspective On Problems
Since their fight at the Ministry in early January, things had been good between Tonks and Keith. She’d rushed Malfoy through his report and made it to the last half of Keith’s game to surprise him, and they’d gone out to dinner to celebrate his team’s win. He’d apologised for the way he behaved and she’d apologised – she wasn’t entirely sure what for, but felt that he’d deserved an apology – and, with Mad-Eye’s advice still lingering in her head, she’d done what she could to make things better between them.
“Ready?” Remus asked Matt, who snorted.
A Moment Of Clarity
“Here,” Padfoot said, passing him a cup. Harry gulped it down, grimacing at the bitter taste. It was March, and his Form Revealer was finally ready. They’d watered it down – Padfoot had said something about the mind of a child, and Harry had remembered the conversation Dumbledore had had with Fudge and Umbridge at St Mungo’s when they talked about Veritaserum – which would hopefully stop it from doing any damage to Harry.
Nowhere To Run
Harry was lying on his stomach in the drawing room, watching the little golden snake wriggle around on the carpet. He’d finally got around to finishing Regulus’ snake puzzle – it was a nice distraction from all the reading about spell creation that Padfoot was making him do before the next step of his Animagus process.
“He’s still not answering,” Dora said, dropping her Sidekick into her lap. “Do you think it’s bad, whatever’s going on down there?”
Friends Lost And Found
The door burst open behind Marlene, just as Sirius hit the floor. She twisted, wand up and ready. It was Gawain and she hesitated. He didn’t.
In Capable Hands
Tonks had had an eventful morning. First, obviously, had been the entire episode with Greyback. Then she’d learned about Sirius’ capture from McKinnon and been praised and debriefed by Scrimgeour, while Remus – who’d been so calm while there’d been a werewolf after them – stammered excuses to Scrimgeour about speaking to Robards and ran off without actually explaining anything.
Mothers And Aunts
Remus yawned and rolled over, blinking himself awake. He was immediately aware that he wasn’t in his own bed and started to panic, at least until he placed the scent of the room. Dora. She wasn’t in the room with him, but she was the one who’d brought him here, he remembered. She’d brought him back to her – well, her parents’ – house last night, and Andromeda had fed both of them and sent them straight to bed.
Harry's New Home
“Anything?” Rufus barked, and Amelia shook her head. Beside her, Thomas looked ill.
A Long Night In Hell
“It’s cold down here,” Ben said, trying to make conversation. He missed Melvin like mad but he’d never been one that was able to stay sad for long. He just got on with things. Tonks was the same, as far as he could tell, and so was Shacklebolt. Florence still cried lots and was unnervingly quiet when she wasn’t crying. None of them had seen much of McKinnon for a few days, so he didn’t even know how she was.
The Scar And The Schemer
Sirius’ next three days in captivity passed quickly, and by the end of the third, he was beginning to notice that a sort of routine had been established; there were always two Aurors on guard inside the cell – sometimes both were trainees – because Sirius was trusted not to attack Harry. Umbridge came in with breakfast – the quality of which had improved with Harry’s arrival – and took Harry away for a few minutes each day to question him.
Trying Times And Trials
“Eurgh,” Tonks said, wrinkling her nose. “You’d have to be thick to think you hadn’t been poisoned when it tastes like that!” She set the empty phial down and Gutnich – the Auror supervising her this morning – chuckled.
The Snake Pit
Harry and the Malfoys had come to the Manor by Portkey – Harry suspected they hadn’t Flooed because Mr Malfoy wanted to show off the admittedly impressive exterior of the house – and Harry’d been promptly handed a pile of clothes and shown into a bathroom.
Tears And Trust
It was hard to decide whether this visit to the camp was better or worse than the last one.
The Night Before
“I think the muggleborns are to blame,” Draco said abruptly. Severus looked up from the corner, where he was stirring a small cauldron.
The usually calm and dignified Malfoy household was anything but on the morning of Black’s trial. Lucius was shaken awake by his frantic son a little after five to be given the news that Bosworth the rat had disappeared overnight.
“I’m sorry,” Remus said quietly, as whispers broke out. He wasn’t sure who he was talking to.
Remus thought he was lucky to have made it through his questioning with his voice still intact; Sirius was practically croaking out his answers to Fudge’s questions, and Remus could see him shooting longing glances at the glass of water in front of Amelia.
VIOLENT BREAK-IN SHOCKS NEIGHBOURS!
Picking Up The Pieces
“Come in, Dawlish,” Scrimgeour called. John straightened his robes, smoothed his expression, and entered. “Can I help you with something?” Scrimgeour asked, in a rather frosty voice. John didn’t meet the Head Auror’s eyes. Malfoy’s plan to tie Scrimgeour’s fate to Black had succeeded, it just hadn’t gone the way they’d hoped; with Black proven innocent, Scrimgeour now looked like an excellent judge of character, and held his position more securely than ever.
Weasleys And Werewolves
He was cold. Cold and damp . And tired, because Wormtail’d been thinking about a lot lately, and rats were clever creatures, but they didn’t have an incredibly high emotional capacity, which made things hard to sort through. He shivered, trying not to think about the explosion and all the people he’d killed, or the pain from cutting off his finger. He tried not to think about Sirius, who was rotting in Azkaban, or Remus, who was probably miserable. He tried not to think about himself, who was going to have to live with the Weasleys for the foreseeable future.
Florence appeared about midway through training - Savage had just started on the blood ward focused part of his lecture – looking tired, and rather unwell. She was paler than usual, had a cut on her cheek and her arm was in a sling. She was immediately descended upon by Finch, and Ben hurried over to join them. Florence hugged him, and spotted Tonks. She waved, and Tonks waved back, and that was all they had time for before Finch ushered her back up the stairs; presumably she had questions that needed answers.
The Loss Of Padfoot's Pride
Sirius strode out of the fireplace as soon as Grimmauld’s kitchen materialised and only paused long enough to take in the abandoned frying pan on the stove – Kreacher’d obviously left in a hurry – before he sprinted up the stairs, skidded on the floorboards, and launched himself up the main staircase as Padfoot.
“Maybe something about a pack,” Harry said, staring up at the ceiling of the library.
An Offer Of Assistance
“So what exactly are you hoping to accomplish here?” Florence asked, lifting her chin. She’d been sitting down for almost an hour - her legs were beginning to cramp – and she had nothing to show for her time; she hadn’t been arrested, and she hadn’t been freed. All that had happened was that she’d had her morality questioned, been told off, and the three of them had grown steadily more frustrated. Tonks looked at Moody like she too wanted answers.
Dora And The Dictionary
The rest of July passed quickly after Sirius’ meeting with Gawain. The majority of his time was still spent with Harry – whether they were working on Harry’s slow-going Anmagus incantation, or flying at Remus’, or playing games of chess and Exploding Snap. Then, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, he’d leave for the Ministry just after lunch, and return in time for dinner.
“I think you’re enjoying your freedom far too much,” Tonks observed. She, Charlie and Tom were sitting on the balcony of the boys’ little house in the Romanian Highlands, on the outskirts of the reserve. Mad-Eye had give her the last week of August off, and she’d Portkeyed to Romania to surprise them.
Monsters In The Manor
“Dora?” Tonks jumped several inches and tore her eyes off Florence, who’d just got into the elevator with Tonks’ friend Alfred. She’d been called back from Romania a day early by Mad-Eye, to learn that a man named Mundungus Fletcher had publicly confessed to killing Greyback.
Plates And Plans
Lucius heard footsteps outside his office door and looked up from the letter he was reading; it was from that infernal Umbridge woman, who’d been increasingly independent lately. Lucius was trying to find out who her new source was – she’d all but severed ties with Dawlish, who now had his wand in a knot over the whole thing – but things were progressing slowly, unfortunately.
John Fisher had stopped most of his patrols thanks to a combination of age and corporate superiority. The majority of his time was spent behind a desk, filling out paperwork, and making sure that the younger, more impetuous members of London’s police force were kept in line.
Sirius was feeling rather demoralised by the time he returned to Number Twelve - courtesy of Kreacher - on the Thursday night. It wasn't late, but he felt exhausted, and had hoped to be able to slink past Harry and go to bed, but luck truly was against him; Harry and Dora were seated at the kitchen table, eating what appeared to be chocolate mousse.
Things To Say
The bedroom door creaked, and even that was loud enough to make Remus want to throw up. He didn’t roll over to look at Kreacher – who’d been kind enough to keep an eye on him while Sirius was at work – because then he really would be sick. He closed his eyes and then felt dizzy and decided that had been a bad idea.
Needing A Friend
“Mummy, have you seen my other gumboot?”
The Serpent Sworn
“Oh, here comes trouble,” Rattler said with a grin; he was waiting for the lift on Level Two, as Harry and Padfoot stepped out of it. “How’ve you been Harry?”
The Quest For Answers
School resumed for Harry two days after Sirius overheard Scrimgeour and Amelia discussing the Serpent Sworn, and Sirius was glad; not because he wanted him gone, but Harry had, not entirely surprisingly, got as caught up in it as Sirius himself had. He needed something to take his mind off it, because, as determined as he was to help, there was nothing he could do at this stage.
Part Of The Family
Sirius fiddled with his scarf – a bright, Gryffindor red one, that he’d bought one day with Harry during the school holidays – and then gave up on that and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He had to pull them out again a moment later to open the classroom door, however, and that made him feel even more restless than he had before.
Suspicion And The Scar
Sirius was on his feet before he even realised it.
It was easy, once he knew what to look for, to find the signs that Harry's departure had not been without thought. Not only was his rucksack missing, and some of his clothing, but also a photograph from his desk, and, once Sirius looked inside the drawers, his stash of pocket money, and also his vault key. His mirror, though, troublingly enough, was still there. Which Sirius thought was indication that Harry, wherever he was, didn't want to be found.
Trapped In The Training Room
Sirius pulled his wand out at once, and Dora was quick to do the same; she shut the Sneakoscope in its box again, before it could give away where they were with its ringing, and tucked it into her robes.
Comrades In Arms
Remus wasn’t entirely surprised when Sirius’ Patronus bounded out into his garden and started chasing them on the ground. In fact, he checked his watch and was surprised the message hadn’t come sooner. Harry was another fifty feet higher than Remus, in close pursuit of his Snitch and hadn’t even noticed it.
“Sir, we’ve got everyone but two,” a woman said, approaching the man. He turned away from the holding cells, which held the Aurors and trainees. Most were nursing injuries of some sort, and were sitting in their mentor-trainee groups, talking in low voices, but some were crying; two female trainees were sobbing all over each other, and their grim looking mentor. The man smirked and looked down at the woman.
If someone had told Sirius two days ago, that he’d be sitting in Marlene’s house with a cup of tea, he’d have been skeptical. If they’d told him that Marlene would be furious, he’d have believed them much more easily.
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