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Sword and Shield

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  It was late. By the time he was leaving his office the moon was just a sliver in the sky, not that it was easy to see in such a built-up area. And by the Gods, he was exhausted. Three of his Aurors would be out on medical leave for the next two months after an undercover operation had gone very, very wrong.  He didn’t know what made that bilge-swipe of a civilian believe that he should be able to take his personal grievances directly to the Director of Magical Security, regardless of the fact that he was in the middle of the aforementioned mission. Nor how the man had managed to track him down at all! All in all, it had been a very trying day in an exceedingly long week. All he wanted was to bathe, change the dressing that covered the wound on his side, fall into his bed and not move for the next twenty-four hours.

 

    Later he would realise that the civilian who interrupted the day’s operations hadn’t been one at all. It had in fact been the most wanted criminal of the time and he had used the contact during the operation to choose a victim and place a tracking charm or similar on him.  He had just turned the corner into the hallway outside his apartment, when he was struck over the side of the head with a heavy object and felt the skin tear above one eye. It was only by the grace of the Gods that he hadn’t been killed instantly. For a brief moment he had thought he was being mugged by a No-Maj and had thrown a punch, hitting a solid jaw that he hadn’t been able to see through the blood dripping down his face and the black spots dancing in his vision.

 

    “You really shouldn’t have done that, Mr. Graves,” a cold, oddly accented voice said. Percival registered the press of a wand tip at his neck, not a No-Maj then, a second before the voice spat its spell, “Crucio,”.  Percival collapsed stifling his scream, not wanting to give the bastard the satisfaction. “You know, this wasn’t meant to be personal, Mr. Graves,” the man said casually as if they were conversing on the street. “All I wanted was the access that being you would grant me. Not that I would have had a use for you after I had taken your place of course, and there couldn’t be two of us wondering around wearing your face.” The man slid his wand across to the other side of his throat. “However, I do not appreciate violence against my person, I’m sure you can understand that I must now correct your manners.” The man tutted sadly.

 

    The last thing he saw before waking up on the floor of a small stone windowless room was a pair of mismatched eyes. They were the also first thing he saw when he regained consciousness. 

 

  Grindelwald tilted his head and said, “You’re awake; that’s good. This would be no fun if you weren’t conscious. I think you need further lessons in the appropriate way to treat a house guest. Shall we begin?” He flourished his wand and all Percival could feel was…..

 

Pain!

 

    Percival awoke with a start and suppressed the scream that was fighting its way out of his throat as he was catapulted out of his memory.  He reminded himself that, it was just a nightmare. A carry over from a long distant past in another life! It took a conscious effort for him to unclench the grip his fingers had on the sides of the narrow bed he was lying on. For all that it was small, it was still comfortable, and it was most definitely not a cold stony floor. Parallel to him, was another similarly sized bed, in which a dark-haired boy lay deeply asleep. He watched the boy next to him sleep and frowned at how large the bed looked around the diminutive teen. He also deduced from the way his Harry was twitching that the other boy was also suffering in the throes of a nightmare.

 

    The surprising amount of light that the gibbous moon streamed through the narrow window was disrupted by a swooping shadow. In the state of heightened awareness that had followed his nightmare it caused Percival several moments of alarm before he realised that it was just Hedwig.  He scrubbed his hands across his face wearily and rose from the bed to open the window and allow her into the room. She landed on his shoulder.

 

    “Hey, girl,” he said tiredly, extending a finger to gentle stroke the feathers on her chest. “Harry was wondering what was taking you so long. Apparently you usually arrive wherever he is going before he does, even if he forgets to let you know where it is. He seems rather proud of the fact, you know.”

 

    Hedwig bobbed her head in agreement before bending to nibble at his fingers a bit. She then extended a leg, showing the letter attached. “Oh? So, you had work to do? Well that explains it then. And let me guess… it’s from…” he turned it over to look at the familiar writing, “yes, it’s from Picquery. So… after we left the Dursleys, you tracked down Picquery and decided to let her borrow your services before making your way here?”

 

    Hedwig bobbed her head up and down for a moment, before flying the short distance to perch on the backrest of Harry’s bed where she tucked her head underneath her wing, having obviously decided to have a quick nap near her wizard. Percival shook his head, smart girl he thought, smiling wryly. He flicked open the seal to read the note.

 

     Percival,

 

      I am not sure where you came across her, but I must ask if the bird is part Seer? She is a beauty is she not? I had just finished placing the appropriate protections around my apartment when the thought that I would have to advise you of the address crossed my mind. The moment that I had made up my mind to write to you, the owl appeared outside my window. She hooted at me imperiously. Have you ever seen a bird act like it’s a queen and you’re one of her subjects? I can now say that I have. Considering over the course of my career I have dealt with actual royalty on a number of occasions, it’s behaviour I am acutely familiar with. Now, please ensure that she receives the treat she deserves for pre-empting my need.

 

      To confirm the information, you received in my Patronus. I expect to see you and Harry the day after tomorrow, at my apartment, preferably before 8 am. For a short breakfast before I take you both shopping.  In your last correspondence you mentioned that Mr Potter was raised by muggles, this concerned me, so I have arranged for a Healer. As I also figured you would appreciate ridding him of the potential hazard of his glasses, this particular Healer also specialises in optometry. He is quite renowned on the continent and though usually only works out of his offices in Switzerland, I have persuaded him to come to us. For an additional fee, he has agreed to be sworn to Absolute Secrecy. He will Floo in at 8:30 am.

 

      After much consideration, I believe mundane cosmetics will be the best option for covering Mr. Potter’s curse scar, and I have purchased a variety of these in preparation for our excursion. With the removal of his scar and glasses, I am hoping we can prevent anyone from recognising the child. Though I will reserve the right to apply a glamour as well if his features are still too unmistakably Potter-ish. I am concerned that members of Dumbledore’s group, did you call it ‘the Order’? What a ridiculous name! Regardless they might be able to identify you as well, so I am afraid you will also have to submit to having a glamour applied before we venture into Diagon Alley.

 

      We will have to sort something out with regards to finances for you both, which will work in nicely with your desire to visit Gringotts first. I have made appointments with both the Graves’ family accountant (who was most surprised and suspicious at hearing from me) and the Potter family accountant (who only by the grace of the Old Ones didn’t cut the Floo on me when I asked for a meeting with him), at 10am. The interaction I had with his accountant leads me to believe that there might be interesting transactions to uncover in young Mr. Potter’s financial dealings, so I have ordered them to audit both accounts in preparation for our visit. Hopefully Mr Potter won’t feel that I have overstepped any boundaries, if you could please advise him in advance I would be appreciative.

 

      I have already had our papers processed at the Ministry including your application to attend Hogwarts and your request for a permit for a summer wand license (which was approved). In addition, I have arranged for both your Animagus registration papers and OWL results to be quietly entered into the ICW archives. While on the subject of documents, a rather strange bundle of information, papers, and various forms appeared earlier, all properly back dated, and indeed properly aged, informing me of my long history of dealings with Mr Thomas Amery Graves and his lovely wife, Andrea Callista Graves nee Walsh. It was a most enjoyable read, apparently, we were very close. Oddly enough I seem to have received a number of visions of these events, I assume these were gifted to me by your benefactors. In the end I was most disheartened by the time I read through it all to the pages containing the details of their deaths. Not long after, your family Tapestry appeared in my sitting room and it seems that my dear schoolmate, Percival Graves died on January 1st, 1927. The only surviving Graves being my godson, Percival Ezra Graves. I have had the tapestry placed vault for safekeeping.

 

      Now it is time that I should mention the British Ministry. Once British politics were the pinnacle of honesty and integrity, but it seems over the last seventy odd years they have lost their way. Everything is very weighted towards the Purebloods from the Wizengamot down. To be honest the justice system is a joke, that is, when it isn’t entirely non-existent.  I’ll be there for the hearing, at the proper time too. It seems as though there is more than one person who doesn’t want Headmaster Dumbledore’s interference, and so they have arranged to change the time in hopes of avoiding his presence (it is now two hours earlier). Fortunately, my dear friend Amelia, who holds the British equivalent of your old position, appreciates my sense of dramatics and has promised to keep me posted as to the hearing.

 

      I’ll save the rest until we meet.

 

     Sincerely,

     Seraphina Picquery

 

    There was a small strip of parchment on which Seraphina’s new address was written. Percival gazed at the writing for a moment longer before he folded it up with the letter, tapping the bundle gently against the palm of his other hand. 

 

    “First things first,” he said aloud, turning to Hedwig, who pulled her head out from under her wing to blink at him slowly. “Picquery, was most impressed with you and asked me to ensure that you received the treats that you deserve. You’ll have to show me where Harry keeps your treats?”

 

    Hedwig flew to her perch and tapped a small drawer underneath it. Percival opened it, pulled out a couple of treats, dropping them into the dish and then filled up the water bowl from the jug that had been placed on the desk that stood under the window. Hedwig gave a pleased chirrup, in gratitude. 

 

   “You have such nice manners,” he complimented her. The look he got back was clearly an indignant, ‘My Mother didn’t raise an ill-mannered fool’. Percival raised his hands in surrender; he was man enough to allow the owl to have the last word.

 

    Percival cast a wandless ‘Tempus’ which showed that it was 6:45am. Not bad for a night full of nightmares; he must have managed almost 6 hours of sleep. His attention was drawn back to the occupied bed as Harry muttered something in his sleep and shifted restlessly. Back at the Dursleys he had warned Percival that he had been having nightmares every night since the end of the Tournament. Though he had noticed that they had stopped once Percival arrived and they had started sleeping in the same bed. Similarly, Percival hadn’t had anything remotely like a full night’s sleep in years, until he met Harry. Interestingly he had noticed that no matter what position they went to sleep in when they woke up, one of Harry’s hands would invariably be touching the Tattoo. 

 

      Over the last few days Harry had started touching the Mark a lot. In fact, even since the Order members had shown up in the Dursleys’ kitchen he’d been much more....tactile. It wasn’t restricted to just touching the Tattoo either; it included laying against him, brushing his hand, even resting his head on his shoulder. Of course, Percival had been touching Harry more as well, he wasn’t sure if it was a way to stake a claim or if it was just a means of reassuring Harry. It could be that being around the others made them both more territorial and as a 39-year-old Percival didn’t want to think about that too deeply. Of course, he was inhabiting a fifteen-year-old body, and it certainly felt like he had the hormones to prove it. Think of it as being a fifteen-year-old with the skills of a thirty-nine-year-old. You will need those skills to be his Shield- the dusty voice whispered into his mind.

 

    Despite what the voice said, Harry was still only fifteen.  A naive and oblivious teen, who had been given no time to contemplate the more intimate facts of life and, Percival was not at all sure where their relationship was heading. Harry… was so vibrant and would only become more so. He was like fire and shadow. He flashed, and hid in unpredictable shifts, like the flickering of firelight. He’d been hidden by the shadows that the others had lain over him, but Percival could see he was shedding the darkness with every day that passed. And it was beautiful! Percival felt as if he could almost glimpse the man Harry would grow to be and it left him aching in a way he never had before.

 

    He was drawn out of his thoughts by a noise from Harry who had begun twisting in his sheets, hands clenching and perspiration beading on his brow. His dream seemed to have progressed from ‘restless’ agitation to ‘violent’ nightmare. Percival took the two steps required to reach Harry’s bedside and knelt down. He reached out a hand to touch the other boy to wake him but paused as Harry vocalised again. It took him a moment to identify the noises that Harry was making in his sleep. They weren't the typical muttering of sleep-talkers instead it sounded almost like...hissing. "Well, that's interesting," he murmured to himself. "Harry," he called softly, "wake up.” The boy moaned and hissed again.

 

    Percival laid his hand on Harry's shoulder, about to shake him awake when he thought better of it. Instead he cupped one cheek and picked up Harry's hand, raising it to his own neck. As he thought, Harry immediately calmed, relaxing into the mattress. 

 

    "Harry," he called again, caressing Harry's cheek with his thumb. 

 

    Harry's eyelashes fluttered briefly before his hand pressed more firmly against Percival's neck, there was a moan and his eyes opened for a moment. Those green eyes were still clouded with sleep when he whispered, voice sleep-rough, "My own," and tugged Percival down on the bed with him. Percival went but held himself stiffly, uncertainly, ensuring minimal body contact, wanting Harry's full consent for whatever might happen. But when Harry simply rubbed noses with him and twinned their free hands together, he relaxed and closed his eyes.

 

    That was exactly how Ginny, who was coming to wake them, found them roughly ten minutes later. She had knocked softly on the door and peeked inside, just managing to suppress her surprised gasp at seeing the two lying together on the bed, though the hand resting on the door handle twitched as her face became emotionless a second before she called out softly, "Breakfast is ready. Come down to the kitchen once the two of you have dressed." Without waiting to see if the boys stirred, she turned and left.

 

    Percival sighed and looked down at where Harry had sort of burrowed into his chest. "Harry, wake up, breakfast is ready.” Harry snuggled in further. “If you don't wake up, I'll invite the twins to make sure you get out of bed.”

 

    Harry lifted his head away from Percival’s chest, hand still resting on the Mark. "Now that's jus' evil; why ‘ould you do that to me?" He whinged, sleepily. "Thought you were supposed to be my Shield and protect me, not throw me to those….. those demons." His jaw cracked open with a yawn as he finally opened his eyes fully. Harry looked up at Percival with a confused frown. “Weren't we supposed to be sleeping in different beds?” he asked, cheeks pinking in a way that they hadn’t since about the fourth morning at the Dursley’s.

 

    Percival sat up, dislodging Harry's hand and replied, "We were, however, it looked like you were having a nightmare, so I came over to wake you up. You dragged me into your bed. That was only about fifteen minutes ago, I wasn’t sure if you were fully awake.”

 

   Harry nodded slowly, flushing more strongly. Eyes failing to meet Percival’s. "I had thought I was. Having a nightmare that is. I vaguely remember something about a long corridor though the details are all blurry. More importantly what was that about breakfast?” 

 

   "Hm?" Percival hummed, “Ah, the youngest Weasley, Ginny, knocked, peeked in, and said breakfast was ready and to go down to the kitchen after we've gotten up.”

 

    "Ginny? Not one of the boys or Mrs. Weasley? That’s weird, I would have thought Ron would have been in here trying to escape the twins the minute he woke up. I suppose we shouldn't keep Mrs Weasley waiting; she really will come up after us," Harry commented, subconsciously brushing a small kiss over Percival's cheek as he got up. He staggered slightly on his way to his trunk to retrieve some clothes before departing for the bathroom. Percival blinked and shook his head, dismissing the absent-minded action as the reaction of a sleep addled Harry.

 

   Surprisingly breakfast wasn’t as uncomfortable as might have been expected after the events of the previous evening. Sirius, who was doing everything he could to make up for his perceived failings, dragged Harry in to look at the tapestry on the wall of the parlour as soon as they had finished eating. He explained how it displayed the entire Black family and who they were related to, all the way back to their origins. He pointed out the branch that showed where Dorea Black had married Charlus Potter.  Apparently, they were Harry’s great-great-Grandparents. Dorea hadn’t been disowned for marrying a Potter, because not only was Charlus a pureblood but also a keen businessman and exemplary dueller. Rumour had it that the only person who could best him was Dorea herself. Then they followed the connections down to where there was a tiny picture of Harry. Further up the wall there were other intersections between the two families but that was the limit of Sirius’ knowledge.

 

   Harry reached out a hand to gently touch the blackened place that had once held a picture of his Godfather’s face.

 

  “It must have hurt you so much!” he said sadly. “Having them turn their backs on you.”

 

   Sirius let out a bitter laugh, “honestly by that point I didn’t even want to be on here anymore. I didn’t even feel it when they ripped the family magics from me, I felt like I was more Potter than Black by then.”

 

  “The Family Magics?” Harry asked curiously.

 

  “Hmm. History or perhaps legend says that back when magic was new to the world, some families performed a task of great value to magic and so each were given a boon or gift. Well I say gift, but some would say they were curses. The Blacks were represented by a set of twins. One was gifted with the mind arts, and the other with the ability to change form, the Metamorphmagi. But each gift had a cost.  Blacks are just as likely to go mad or as you have seen with Tonks, Metamorphmagi are particularly clumsy. It’s always like that, magic is about balance.”

 

   “So, if the Tonks’ mum was disowned, how is it that Tonks got the gift?”

 

  “Well, that’s one of the unknown mysteries of life I’m afraid,” Sirius shrugged.

 

  “Or she was never disowned at all,” Percival commented, from his position behind them. “Or possibly only from that branch of the family and not the family as a whole.”

 

   “Is that possible?” Harry asked curiously, glancing between the pair.

 

   Sirius ran a hand over his scruffy beard, “I suppose, if magic didn’t agree with the decision, or if the Head of House didn’t do it. I was disowned by dear ‘ole mum, who wasn’t the head of the House, I just assumed that my Grandfather did it later.”

 

  “Is there a way to check?”

 

  “Well, I suppose,” Sirius mumbled as he thought out loud. “I can enter this house because of the Black blood in my veins, but if I wasn’t disowned by magic, then with everyone else being dead as the oldest male I would be the Head. And if I were Lord of the House I would be able to repair the tapestry with a simple….Reparo!”

 

  Just like that several holes on the tapestry filled themselves in.

 

  “Huh! Would you look at that! Uncle Alphard made it back on as well!” Sirius seemed pleased.

 

  “What was the Potter’s gift,” Harry asked eagerly.

 

  Sirius frowned, “I can’t say with certainty as I’m not a Potter, regardless of the fact that they welcomed me into their home. But if I had to guess I would say inventiveness or perhaps creativity. James was always coming up with new pranks and his father invented SleekEazy’s Hair potion.”

 

  “And the curse?”

 

  “I think that you’ve felt that one already Harry,” Sirius smiled. “You guys have the most damnable luck I have ever borne witness to, it can change from good to bad and back again in half a minute, you need creativity to cope with it.  Maybe that was the gift. Luck the good and the bad.”

 

  There was a crash out in the Hall.

 

  “Tonks! Little Nymphie! Come in here,” Sirius yelled, ignoring his Mother as her portrait started its wailing.

 

   The currently red-haired Auror walked in, fully dressed in her battle robes, “How many times do I have to tell you- Don’t. Call. Me. Nymphod….”

 

   “I didn’t, I called you Nymphie,” Sirius denied with a smirk, to elated to be overly concerned about her hexing. “More importantly look.” He gestured at the wall in front of them.

 

  Tonks’ eyes followed his pointed finger right to the spot on the tapestry where her name was now written in an elegant scroll joined by a line that extended down from her Mother and Father’s names.

 

   “Holy Shite!”

 

  Harry snorted as her hair went white.

 

   “You’ll have to tell Andy, magic never disowned her, it was only my bitch of a Mother!” Sirius crowed.

 

 

  When Harry quietly approached Bill and Mr Weasley before they left for work to apologise for his behaviour, they both smiled at him understandingly and told him to ‘think no more about it’, before they headed out the door. Though Harry had found it awkward and embarrassing to talk to them, the warm proud smile that Percival rewarded him with made it worthwhile. 

 

    After breakfast, Hermione and Ginny immediately retreated to the girl’s bedroom to work on their homework, taking a henpecked Ron with them. Hermione made sure that Harry saw her glare as she looked down at him from the stairwell. Harry didn’t know what the twins were doing but supposed that as long as they kept it in their room all was well. With everyone else busy and the house now clean, Percival and Harry were left without much to do for the day, so they grabbed a few things from their room and headed back to the Library.

 

   While Harry finished the last bits of his homework, Percival wandered through shelves, marvelling at some of the titles, being sure to keep his hands in his pockets. Sirius hadn’t been wrong when he said that his family was into the blackest of Magics, at least for the last two centuries. The books were covered in all sorts of curses! However, stepping between the next set of shelves was a revelation.

 

  “Harry!” he called.

 

  “Hmm, where are you?” Harry called back.

 

  As if they were playing ‘Marco-Polo’ Harry followed Percival’s voice until he located the right set of shelves.

 

  “It just keeps going, doesn't it?” Harry questioned, glancing back at the innumerable rows behind them.

 

  “Yeah it appears to be some sort of stacked never-ending extension charm, so that each time a new set of shelves is added to the front a new extension charm is as well.”

 

  “It looks as if you followed it in far enough, it would join up with all the libraries in the world, doesn’t it? There’s so many rows!” Harry said a little wistfully. Once upon a time the library had been a safe place for him to hide from Dudley, that was until the old Librarian left and the new one was in the book club with Aunt Petunia.

 

  Percival suppressed the urge to reach out and squeeze Harry’s arm to disrupt whatever thoughts had put such an expression on his face. “It looks to be roughly a row per every twenty years. At least for the first ten rows Sirius is right, there’s some really nasty dark stuff in there and I don’t want you going near it.”

 

  If Percival hadn’t sounded so deadly serious Harry would have protested just on the principle of not being told what he could and couldn’t do, but this was obviously the Shield speaking so he nodded his acceptance instead.

 

   “The interesting thing is,” Percival continued, “that from here back it looks much more even in representation.” He carefully removed a book from the shelf to show Harry the cover- A Treatise in the Exploration of Healing Charms - by Morgan Asclepius. “They don’t come any lighter than that!”

 

  “Right,” Harry set his jaw and turned on his heal.

 

  “Where are you going?” Percival called after him.

 

  “To get Sirius!” Harry called back.

 

  He found Sirius ensconced at the kitchen table, receiving an ear bashing from Mrs Weasley. Fortunately, Harry, alerted by the voices that he could hear through the closed door, didn’t go barging straight in.

 

   “You need to do something with that boy! He’s being so disrespectful. It’s clear to see that he gets it from you, you need to set him a better example. Staying up late! Dri……”

 

  Harry pushed the door open and interrupted calmly, “Please explain to me Mrs Weasley, how exactly Sirius has been a bad example for me when I have literally seen him less than 5 times that I can remember.”

 

  Mrs Weasley paused in her diatribe, stunned that Harry had spoken to her in such a dreadful way once again. She turned to face him straight on, with her hands on her hips.

 

  “That is exactly what I mean Harry, you can’t speak to me that way. It’s completely disrespectful and how you spoke to the Headmaster last night is just not on! I won’t have it in my house.”

 

  “Well it’s lucky that this isn’t your house then isn’t it!” Harry said snarkily before she could get up anymore steam.

 

  “Well I never! You do not speak to you Mother that way young man!” she raised her hand….

 

   Harry flinched violently before gathering himself turning his momentary fear into anger and roaring at her, “YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER!”

 

    Mrs Weasley yelled back without pause, clenching and unclenching her hand threateningly, “I’M AS GOOD AS YOUR MOTHER, NO ONE ELSE WAS THERE FOR YOU. I TOOK YOU INTO MY HOME, I FED YOU, I RAISED YOU….” 

 

   “YOU TOOK ME IN FOR LESS THAN TWO WEEKS EACH OF THE LAST THREE SUMMERS, AND FOR YOUR INFORMATION I WAS RAISED IN A FUCKING CUPBOARD!”

 

   Smack! 

 

   Mrs Weasley bought her open palm down hard across Harry’s face, his head jerked roughly to the side.

 

   The world stopped. Then pandemonium broke out as Harry slowly folded in on himself and crumpled to the floor. Sirius stood up not caring that his chair slammed backwards onto the floor as he charged to place himself between the pair, arms akimbo. Percival came sprinting into the room and skidded to a stop on his knees with his arms around Harry, his back to Mrs Weasley. There was the thunder of footsteps as all of the children burst from the upstairs rooms and ran down the stairs.

 

   “You will not lie to me again Harry James Potter,” Mrs Weasley spat at the child who was cowering in front of her.

 

    Harry turned his red-marked faced away from her. 

 

    It was Ron who ground out through clenched teeth, “In my first letter home from Hogwarts I told you! I told he was too thin; he knew nothing about magic, and he wouldn’t get changed in front of anyone.”

 

   The twins took over, “Before his second year we rescued him from the Dursley’s and we told you that they kept him locked up, there were bars on the windows, deadbolts and a cat flap on the door….”

 

  “See he was in a room,” Mrs Weasley began vindicated!

 

  The twins spoke over her, “WE TOLD you that we had to recover his trunk from where it was locked up in the cupboard under the stairs, where it sat on a thin cot mattress, with a small broken top and a picture labelled Harry’s Cupboard stuck to the wall.”

 

   Ginny added barely louder than a whisper, “I told you in his third year, that I snuck into the quidditch change rooms to wish the twins good luck before a game and saw the scars on his back.” She glanced over at the boy who was huddled on the floor, “Sorry Harry.”

 

   Ron summarised, “We told you mum. They starved him, they beat him and yes, they raised him in a cupboard! A couple of weeks every year does not make up for that no matter how much we wish it could. Maybe if you had stood up to the Headmaster and actually taken him in like we all asked you too, even Percy. Maybe then, you could claim to be as good as his Mother. But Mum think about this, his Mum died for him, literally died for him and I know, without a shadow of a doubt that you would do that for any of us, even when we’re being prays, like Percy is at the moment. Would you do it for Harry?”

 

  The answer was written her eyes for them all to see.

 

  “Well then don’t try and act like his Mother,” Ron reached out a hand and placed it on her shoulder. “To be honest Mum, he doesn’t need that from you. He needs people who are there for him, who can give him advice and guidance when he asks for it, not people who berate him for having his own thoughts and feelings. I didn’t stand by him last year like I should have, and I’ll always regret that. So, I’ll stand by him now.”

 

  With a sob Mrs Weasley turned and fled from the kitchen. None of them knew where to look, as a strained silence fell over the group. It was the twins who broke first.

 

  “Uh…right,” said Fred.

 

  “Yes well,” added George.

 

  “On that note I think we…”

 

  “Have an experiment that is….”

 

   “About to blow at any……”

 

   KABOOM

  

   “There it goes,” they finished together and bolted out of the room.

 

    Hermione, Ron and Ginny looked around a little awkwardly before making their excuses and following the twins. When the room was empty Sirius turned to join the two boys on the floor. With teary eyes, he reached out to touch Harry, but Percival intercepted his hand and said “Don’t!”

 

    It was then that Sirius truly looked at his Godson. Harry was curled up in a small ball, muttering to himself, a barely audible litany of ‘I didn’t do it,’ ‘please believe me,’ and ‘stop it, it hurts’.

 

     “Oh Merlin! Harry,” Sirius ignored the waterfall of tears streaming down his face and reached for his Godson once more.

 

  “He’s having a flashback,” came a quietly spoken voice, making Sirius freeze again. “I could see that things hadn’t been good in that house, just from the few days that I was there. After the incident with the Dementors his Aunt started to come round, but his Uncle……”

 

   “Aunt and Uncle?” Sirius asked.

 

   “That he’s been living with,” Percival supplied. “His Mum’s sister.”

 

   “He’s been living with Petunia and Vernon!” Sirius squawked. Percival nodded. “Oh Harry, I’m so sorry!”

 

   Percival ignored him in favour of gently prising one of Harry’s hands away from his chest and rubbing circles on it so that it relaxed enough that he could press it to his Tattoo. “Come back to me Harry,” he muttered.

 

   “Why are you doing that?” Sirius asked indicating the hand when Percival glanced up.

 

  Percival just shrugged, “I don’t actually know. It just helps, at least it does for his nightmares.” 

 

   True to his word, Harry’s breathing was slowing, and his body was relaxing, a minute later and they were able to sit him up leaning against Percival’s chest, arm still bent up against his neck, while Sirius conjured a glass and charmed some water into it.

    

   “Here Harry, have a drink,” Sirius coaxed. Harry absently reached out his free hand to take the cup and sipped the water. Several more minutes passed before he had fully returned to himself and Sirius felt he should break the tension.

 

  “Now Harry not that I am not grateful for you defending my honour like the damsel in distress that I am, but what was it that you actually wanted?”

 

  Harry stared at him blankly for a minute before he remembered, “Oh, Percival discovered the most amazing thing in the library Sirius, and it proves that you are a world class prat!”

 

  Sirius raised an eyebrow, “Well I’m sure that Moony could have told you that if you’d just asked but come on, you had better show me.” He helped haul both boys to their feet and followed them to the library.

 

  Sirius had never been more stunned in his life. He was one hundred percent sure that this area had not been there the last time he had entered the library, just the afternoon before the boys had arrived. He wasn’t sure whether it had been the magic that had cleaned the house or his act of renewing the tapestry as Lord of the House that had done it. Either way he was impressed.

 

  After half an hour’s quiet exploration he turned to Harry, “I believe I owe you an apology.  To think that I almost caused you to miss out on all of this! This might just be a history we can both be proud of!” He wrapped an arm around his Godson’s shoulders as they stood looking at the shelves. Then Sirius grinned, “Moony is going to flip!”

 

   “Yeah Hermione…” Harry stopped and swallowed.

 

   “Yeah. About that, what’s up between you and Hermione? I thought you guys were close,” Sirius asked gently. Percival backed away slowly, if Sirius was going to step up and start acting like an adult that Harry could rely on, he certainly wasn’t going to stop him, but Merlin help him if he let Harry down again.

 

    “I’m just…..she…argh,” Harry stopped and took a deep breath. “First of all, she practically called me a liar when I told her how much of my summer homework, I had managed to get done at the Dursleys. I get, that me having done so much is unusual, but this summer they locked me in my room with my trunk instead of locking it in the cupboard, which I explained. And I kind of had time to think, it sounds like Mum and Dad were brilliant, you know? And part of me wants to live up to that, but until I went to Hogwarts no one cared how well I did, or rather they just believed that if I did better than Dudley that I must have been cheating or lying. So, it really hurt for her to imply that. Then on top of that she told me, didn’t ask me mind you, told me, that she should check over my summer homework to make sure that it was done right. As if I didn’t know how. I know I haven’t put in my best effort before now, but I was worried what the Dursley’s would say and Ron never wanted to study, and he was my first friend. Then with everything that has gone on with Voldemort, it’s hard to keep track of everything.”

 

   Harry took several breaths, “She doesn’t listen to me, when I try and tell her something. I know I shouldn’t have snapped at her the way that I did but…..”

 

   Harry startled as arms wrapped him up in a hug. Sirius’ voice spoke from above his head, “You’re frustrated and angry. It’s ok to feel that way.” He raised his hands to Harry’s shoulders as he pulled away to look into the green eyes, “It’s ok to want your friends to support you and to tell them that too. What you have to decide is what you want to do next. Are you just going to wait and see if she gets over this? Are you going to apologise but still be firm about what you said? Or are you prepared to let this friendship go? Your Mum had a fight with her best friend in our fifth year and even though he apologised she refused to forgive him, by the time she realised that she had forgiven him and didn’t actually want to let him go it was all too late. I know she came to regret it. I’m not saying one option is right and another wrong, just think about what you want.”

 

  Harry considered everything that Sirius had said, “She’s one of my only friends, I…I don’t want to lose her, but I don’t want her acting like my mother either,” he grimaced. “I’m not sure how to tell her that though.”

 

  “Sometimes straight up is the easiest way.” Sirius shrugged. “Now let’s explore, who knows what we’ll find in here!”

 

 

  It was several hours later that they noticed something odd, no-one had come to find them. In that time Harry had found several interesting books that had assisted with revising his homework. Percival was curled up in a comfortable chair, that had suddenly appeared, reading an ancient Tome on defence charms and Sirius had found a journal belonging to Hardwin Black a spell crafter from the 16th century which was as deep as they had managed to progress into the shelves. Harry’s stomach rumbled and there was an echoing growl from Percival.

 

  Sirius looked up, “Surely we haven’t been here that long?” 

 

  Percival quickly checked the time, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon!

 

  “Well goodness! No wonder you boys are hungry! Kreacher.”

 

  “Ungrateful Master, Mistress’ disappointment, breaks her heart he does,” the house elf muttered.

 

  “Stop that!” Sirius snapped.

 

  “Sirius!” Harry cried out aghast. “Don’t speak to him that way.”

 

  “Harry he’s a …” 

 

  Harry could see that Sirius was about spew forth insults, “He’s a product of his training, just like Dobby.”

 

  “Master Harry Potter called for Dobby!” a voice squeaked.

 

  “Dobby! I don’t think you’re supposed to be here,” Harry exclaimed in surprise.

 

  “Harry, a house elf can always find his master regardless of the wards that separate them,” Percival stated. “Only a house elf can ward a dwelling against other elves.”

 

  “But I’m not Dobby’s master. Dobby is a free elf,” Harry stated emphatically. Percival raised an eyebrow at the small elf.

 

   “Wait a second, I know you,” Sirius said. “You’re the Malfoy’s elf, why are you here?” his voice was gruff, and Dobby cringed away.

 

  “Stop it Sirius! I tricked Malfoy into freeing him in my second year,” 

 

  Meanwhile Percival was still staring at the elf, Dobby was trying not to look abashed. “Dobby is there something that you would like to tell Harry?”

 

  Dobby let out a high-pitched giggle and twisted his hands in his tea towel, “Mr Harry Potter Sir. Dobby hasn’t told the truths exactly. Dobby did wants to be free from the old Masters but House Elves be no goods as free elves. They gets depressed like Winky.”

 

  Harry was horrified, “But you’ve been free for two years! Are you alright?”

 

  Dobby just smiled in his beatific way, “I’s been waiting for my Wizard to wants to have a House Elf.”

 

  “Well who is it then? We have to tell them!” Harry asked anxiously. Sirius burst out laughing, while Percival rested his forehead in his hands. How was Harry so oblivious?

 

  Dobby reached out a hand palm forward, “Will yous be my Wizard Master Harry Potter Sir?”

 

  Harry was gobsmacked, “You want me?” Dobby nodded. “You’ll have a wear a clean uniform and have a wage,” Harry stated firmly, Dobby grimaced, “And days off,” Dobby pulled his ears, “There’ll be no punishments,” Harry warned, Dobby gave a squeak and dropped his arms to his sides, “and if you’re ill you’ll tell me, and you’ll rest until you are better!” Harry finished. 

 

   Dobby nodded and raised his hand again.

 

   Harry looked to Sirius, “What do I do?”

 

   “Just raise your hand and press your palm to his and ask Magic to bind this elf to you.”

 

  “Can Magic say no?”

 

  Sirius shrugged, “I suppose so, though I can’t see why she would.”

 

  It only took a moment to perform the little ritual and the change that washed over Dobby was instantaneous, his skin took on a healthy glow and he grew a whole inch.

 

  “What dids Master Harry want from his Dobby?” 

 

 “Oh, um, we were just wanting some lunch?” Harry asked unsurely. Dobby popped out of the room.

 

  “Well Kreacher,” Sirius said uncomfortably. “I guess unless you can tell us why no-one has found us since we’ve been in here, I’m sorry to have interrupted your morning.”

 

  Kreacher looked at Sirius and stopped his mutterings to answer, “Master and Half-blood bast….”

 

  “Stop! Kreacher you will not call my Godson that horrible word,” Sirius ordered. “Just answer the ruddy question!”

 

  “Black library is only for Black Lord and Heir.”

 

  “So how come Percival could come in?” Harry asked curiously.

 

  Kreacher looked the visitor up and down, “Touched by the Gods he is!” was all he muttered before popping out.  

 

  Sirius was stopped from questioning Percival by the appearance of Dobby with a tray of sandwiches, fruit and butter beer.

 

  “Thanks Dobby, this is great,” Harry praised the elf, who squeaked and disappeared with a pop much to Sirius’ amusement.

 

  “So, I guess at least one of us should make an appearance this afternoon,” Sirius commented as they finished their lunch. Percival and Harry glanced at each other. 

 

  Harry obviously lost the non-verbal argument as he sighed, “Fine I’ll go and speak to Hermione.”

 

  “Buckbeak is in my parent’s bedroom if you need somewhere to talk!” Sirius called out as Harry walked away. 

 

   Sirius turned around to face the dark-haired boy, “So do you want to explain what ‘Touched by the Gods’ means?”

 

  Percival sighed, “How good are your Occlumency shields?”

 

  Sirius pulled a face, “They got ripped to shreds in Azkaban. I’ve been working on improving them since Harry set me straight last night. I didn’t realise how bad they were.”

 

  “Well to put it bluntly, it will have to wait until you are sure that not even Dumbledore can get through them,” Percival said firmly.

 

  “Well I suppose that’s fair…..Wait Dumbledore? Surely you mean Volde…. ah, what was his name again, Riddle?”

 

  At least Sirius was thinking about the things that he’d been told. Percival shrugged, “I don’t know about Riddle, but the Headmaster made it obvious last night that he has no qualms about using Legilimency, and I doubt I would have been able to hold him out too long if I hadn’t called him on it.”

 

  “Hmmm, what about Harry, does he know?”

 

  Percival nodded, “Yes he does, as does my guardian. However, we need to teach Harry Occlumency as soon as possible. I’ve started teaching him to meditate but anything more will have to wait till after the trial.”

 

  “Perhaps it’s something he and I could work on together,” Sirius said consideringly.

 

   “Another thing, have you had a health check since you escaped Azkaban?”

 

  Sirius shook his head, and gave a bitter bark, “Ha! There is actually a dearth of healers in the Order. Not that I could convince them to look me over anyhow, none of them trust me. Despite being happy enough to come into my family home and use my funds to cover their expenses.”

 

  Seeing that the older man’s anger was building again, Percival cut in, “And have you talked to anyone about it?”

 

  “Only Moony, but the trust we once had is gone. He believed I was the spy and I believed he was. We are repairing things slowly, but it will be a while before I feel like I can tell him everything.”

 

  Percival studied Sirius. “I’m sneaking Harry out tomorrow,” he said quietly, throwing a hand up to stop Sirius from interrupting. “We’re going to see my guardian; she’s arranged for a healer to come and look over Harry. I don’t like that he’s so thin, and there’s something very wrong with that scar. I doubt everything for Harry will be addressed in one appointment, so I can ask if they would mind seeing you as well, if you would like?” he offered.

 

  “I…I…don’t know what to say,” Sirius was genuinely touched by the gesture.

 

  “You are important to Harry. You’re his family. Returning you to health will help stop him from worrying, and if you are more stable then you can help him as well. I think we both know that he needs all the help he can get.”

 

  Sirius nodded, “Then yes please, I would appreciate it if you could have a word to the healer.” He glanced to the side, as another thought occurred to him. “Actually, while you’re out could you also get Harry in touch with a lawyer. I think the Potters had one on retainer, it might help him with the trial. It was McMillans I think.”

 

  Percival nodded. He would have to send Hedwig back to Picquery with the name. Percival wondered if they would also take on the case of a Lord who had been imprisoned erroneously, there was no harm in asking.

 

 

 

   After leaving the other two bickering behind him, Harry headed back towards the kitchen. Discovering that it was empty, he retraced his steps to the stairwell. He stopped for a moment on the first-floor landing to listen to the noises coming from the twin’s bedroom, at least it sounded like they were making the most of the Triwizard money. Ignoring the dread that was pooling in his stomach he gathered himself to climb the set of stairs to the landing outside of the room the girls were sleeping in. Once there he politely tapped on the door, pushing it open when there was a response but not entering the room. The three in the room looked up at him from their positions on the beds, Ron was sat next to Hermione on one and Ginny had her legs stretched out on her own bed. When she saw who was at the door, she tucked her knees up and patted the bedspread with a coy smile.

 

   “Come in Harry,” she invited.

 

  “Ah, thanks Gin, but I’d like to have a word with Hermione if I could,” he was proud of how he kept the tremor out of his voice. He was still trying to convince himself that there was no need for him to be nervous, she was one of his best friends after all. 

 

  Hermione, nodded face blank.

 

  “Um,” Harry started, “Instead of disturbing Ginny and Ron’s work,” he gestured to the papers spread out in-front of them, Ron grimaced, “Sirius mentioned Buckbeak was here as well, perhaps we could go and visit,” he suggested.

 

  Hermione nodded sharply again and rose without saying anything. Harry stepped back to let her through the doorway and followed her, to another room on the same floor. Buckbeak stirred as they opened the door, Harry bowed low and waited for the Hippogriff to reciprocate before they entered.

 

  Scratching the animal’s head, he murmured, “I wondered how you were doing, Buckbeak. I bet Hagrid is missing you.” Buckbeak chirruped and nuzzled into Harry’s hand. Harry continued patting until he noticed a tapping noise, it took him a moment to realise that an otherwise silent Hermione was standing with her arms crossed leaning against the door, tapping her foot impatiently, frowning at him.

 

  “Ah sorry,” Harry blushed. He swallowed, “Right well, first things first. I have a bit to say to you and I don’t want you to cut me off. Do you think you can be patient and hear me out? Because if you can’t there’s no point me even starting,” he asked in the gentlest voice he could manage. 

 

    Hermione scowled but nodded.

 

  “Right, good, thanks for that,” Harry babbled a bit nervously before stopping, he noticed Hermione’s lips twist slightly upwards before she stopped them. “Ok, Hermione, you are…..one of my very best friends and that friendship means the world to me. I know that I didn’t speak to you well yesterday. I was extremely stressed over a few things but that is no excuse for how I spoke to you and for that I apologise.” 

 

   She gave him a half smile that stalled a bit as he continued to speak, “What I don’t apologise for is the points that I made.” Harry continued speaking quickly as he saw Hermione take a breath in and her lips start to move. “Let me explain, growing up any time I actually did well at school I got accused of lying and cheating so I stopped trying at all. So, to have just come from that house and for you to imply that I was lying about the work I had done was very hurtful. I understand that I don’t normally get to do any homework before I get on the train, but I thought you were aware that it has always been because the Dursley’s lock up my trunk at the start of the Holidays, especially as I had specifically made the point that they had locked my trunk in my room this year.”

 

  Hermione’s look of shame spoke volumes, but Harry continued on, “Hermione, being in that Graveyard and seeing Cedric die, had a huge impact on me. It changed everything. Riddle isn’t going to stop, no matter what I do. If I’m to have any chance of surviving this war or whatever it is, then I need to up my game. I can’t afford to not put in the work now, or I’ll die the next time I face him. The luck that I’ve had so far isn’t going to be enough, sooner or later it will run out. So, I have been working through all of my textbooks. I have re-done everything starting at first year, including reviewing every assignment I’ve done for the teachers notes. I know you’re intelligent, there’s no doubt about that, but I am not dumb! Which was another thing that the Dursleys always called me. I need to have the teachers provide me with feedback and make mistakes on my own so that I can learn from them. I would have thought that, that was something that you could respect.”

 

  He raised shy green eyes to meet her brown ones.

 

  With a smug nod she said, “I accept your apology Harry. And I must say that I am pleased at your new focus. I trust that you’ll be joining us to finish off your homework?”

 

  Harry coughed, slightly embarrassed, “Um actually I finished the last of it earlier today. I’m going to leave it now until after the trial, because I’ll be too nervous to pick up any errors. But I’m intending to proofread it again before we go back to school, assuming that I’m not expelled.”

 

  “Well, ok then,” Hermione huffed. “Where were you today? You didn’t come to lunch! You can’t afford to miss meals you know….”

 

  Harry interrupted her in a quiet but firm voice, “I’d like to remind you that you’re my friend and not my mother Hermione. Percival and I ate with Sirius, we just got distracted and were late.”

 

  “But what were you doing?” 

 

  By this point they had returned to the landing outside the girl’s room, they continued speaking as they descended to the ground floor.

 

  “Hermione, you know it isn’t actually any of your business and I already told you, I was finishing my homework,” Harry said flatly.

 

  “But you didn’t say where you were, and I know it wasn’t in your room, because we checked.”

 

  Harry’s face went blank, “Are you telling me that you entered our room without permission?” He only had one safe place at the Dursley’s, his cupboard because Vernon couldn’t fit, and no private place at Hogwarts. The room here had felt like it was both, despite sharing it with Percival. He couldn’t his finger on why he didn’t want Hermione in there, but it felt like that space had now been violated.

 

  “Harry,” she snorted dismissively, “why should you care if we go in there? Besides, Ron’s stuff is in there too.”

 

   “So, you’re telling me Ron went into the room and invited you in?” Harry confirmed, he could see that happening. That wasn’t so bad, Ron’s stuff was in there after all.

 

  “No, of course not, as if Ron would miss a meal, he went down to lunch, but I’m sure he would have if we’d asked.”

 

  Harry huffed, but still tried to explain, “That’s not the point Hermione. It’s just plain rude to go into someone’s room without asking, especially when they aren’t there. How do you know I wasn’t in the bathroom?”

 

  “Because I checked of course,” she stated as if that was to be expected. “Ginny doesn’t like the shampoo you’re using at the moment, did you know? You’ll have to change it.”

 

  Harry blinked at her, he couldn’t even comprehend all the things that were wrong with that statement, but it started with how they knew what his shampoo smelt like and ended with: why should Ginny get a say in his bath products. “Hermione, I have no words for what I am feeling right now. In future please respect our privacy and don’t come into our room again unless you have been invited.”

 

  “Of course, you have no words Harry, you’re a teenage boy. You’re probably a little confused most of the time,” there was that patronising tone again.

 

  Harry blinked at her again, “I mean it Hermione. Think about it, we are teenage boys! Who knows what we could be getting up to in there?” Harry tried to make his voice heavy with innuendo, like he had heard the twins do.  Maybe it was because he wasn’t a hundred percent sure what boys could get up to himself that he was not clear enough, but Hermione still wasn’t getting it.

 

  Suddenly Fred, stuck his head over the balcony, “Yeah Harry could be blowing things up.”

 

  “Or he could just be blow…” Ron appeared suddenly and wrapped a hand around Fred’s mouth, pulling him back into their room.

 

   Harry blushed, “Right. Oh, and just so that you know. Ron’s in with the twins, we’re only letting him keep his stuff in our room, so they don’t prank it. So, it actually isn’t his room at all!” 

 

  With that last comment Harry stepped off the last stair and pushed passed her so he could enter the parlour. He shut the door behind himself quickly and listened to her walking away as he leaned against the door with his eyes closed.

 

  “It went that well then?” Sirius asked looking up from his book, as Harry entered the library through the door on the other side of the parlour.

 

  Harry gave a wry smile, “I’m not sure how it went, actually. I think I’ll call it a work in progress. On one hand she was pleased with my new attitude to study, on the other hand I don’t think she understands personal boundaries.”

 

  “Personal boundaries?” Sirius quirked a brow.

 

  Harry nodded, “Uh-huh, like how she shouldn’t just wander into a teenage boy’s bedroom, because you never know what could be going on in there.”

 

  Sirius chortled. “And have there been things going on in your bedroom Harry?” He laughed again at Harry’s blush, and caught the cushion that was thrown at him. “Would you like there to be things going on in there Harry?” he waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

 

  “Sirius stop it!” Harry complained blushing a furious red.

 

  “Is that it then?” Sirius asked as he settled down.

 

  “She also can’t seem to understand that I don’t need to tell her every little thing about my life, like what I had for lunch and where I’ve been all day. And that she doesn’t get to dictate those things for me either.” 

 

  “Did you lose your temper?” Percival asked coming into the room.

 

  Harry shook his head a little proudly, “Nope.”

 

  “Well done.” Sirius looked thoughtful for a moment, “Kreacher!” he called.

 

  “Yes, Mistress’ disappointment,” the elf grumbled.

 

  Sirius frowned but ignored the comment, “Does Regulus’ room still have a lock?” Kreacher nodded. “I had been trying to avoid using Reggie’s old room, but it might just solve one problem. Kreacher I am allowing Harry and his friend to use Regulus’ old room, please move their things into it.”

 

  Kreacher began to mutter, “Poor Master Regulus! His room desecrated.”

 

  “Kreacher!” Harry called stopping him, “We promise that we will respect Regulus’ room, we will take care not to break anything and we will disrupt it as little as possible. Please remove anything that is valuable or otherwise precious and store it away carefully.”

 

  Kreacher eyed the pair sternly, then gave a nod and popped away. 

 

  Sirius was stunned, “That was the most polite I’ve ever seen him act towards anyone who wasn’t my Mother or Brother, and I’m Sirius.”

 

  Harry turned to look at him, “I cannot believe you just said that!”

 

  Sirius grinned, “So what are you two going to do with the rest of the afternoon?

 

- cut -

This is the argument that Sirius and Molly are having when Harry goes to find Sirius.

 

  Sirius was sitting at the table, it was early and to be honest he did not want to be up just yet. He had not been able to sleep last night, his mind consumed by James’ no Harry’s words at dinner.  James would have found his words humorous in the extreme, there was very little of his Father in Harry at all.

 

  Was he too reckless? Surely not, Jamie had never said so…..

 

  A memory intruded of Mother Potter. She stood hands on hips, face as fierce as a lion’s.  Oh, the lecture she had given him and James that day! There had been a Death Eater raid. They had been told about it by Dumbledore, and had rushed off to help. It was their first battle. They had done well, even if he did say so himself, and captured a dozen Death Eaters.  Frustratingly they had, of course, all released a few days as upstanding members of society who were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Mother Potter, well to say she had not been happy with them was an extreme understatement, she had given them such a blistering tongue lashing that he remembered it vividly, despite the twelve years in Azkaban. There were few memories he had that were untainted by the malaise inducing dementors. 

 

  Since then he had formed several new memories, particularly the moment in third year where he had asked a thirteen year old Harry, if he would come and live with him. The boy had said yes immediately. It had struck a cord with something deep inside Sirius.  Now though, now he wondered. Sure at thirteen he would have been excited if he had a hither-to unknown Godfather appear and offer him a home, but James, Remus and Peter who had been raised in loving families, would not. What did that say about the way in which Harry had been raised. The first night he had seen Harry, as as he left Privet drive, the boy had been thin, oh so very thin and there had been a bruise above his eye, another just visible under the hanging sleeve of his shirt. And those clothes! 

 

  No something was not right. If Harry had been raised as Jamie had then he would have been a cocky little shit, who would have thought nothing of a fight against a couple of dementors. He closed his eyes and tipped his head up to the ceiling.

 

  “Sirius Black!” A voice interrupted his thoughts on how to broach the matter with his Godson. He had hated it when his friends, as well meaning as they were had tried to talk to him about his home life.

 

 “Are you even listening to me?” the voice became even more shrill.

 

  “Can I help you Mrs Weasley?” he asked blandly, thoughts still on the mystery of his Godson. 

 

  “What do you think you are doing?”

 

  “I beg your pardon?” he looked at her for the first time.

 

  “That boy looks up to you.”

 

  Sirius just stared.

 

  “And look at you! Clearly you spent last night drinking, and here you are still hung over.’

 

  “I did n…”

 

  She did not allow him to finish before she continued her rant, “He will walk in here and see you like this. That is not how a responsible adult acts.”

 

  “First of all I was no…..” he tried.

 

  “And then you encourage him to misbehave. What were you thinking? If you even knew half of the things that boy had led my Ronnie into over the last four years. You would see that he does not need any prompting. He has Minerva in knots with worry every year. To encourage that behaviour, is…”

 

  “Will you just shut up a moment!” Sirius all but yelled, feed up with the woman.

 

  “Well I never!” she fell silent for just a moment.

 

  “I was not drinking last night!”

 

  “Oh Please!” she said disbelievingly. “Look at you! I have six sons I know what a man looks like after a night of too much drink. What you need to understand is that Harry is not James!”

 

  “I know that J….Harry is not James!”

 

 “Well you could have fooled me. You mix up their names constantly.”

 

  “You spend twelve years in Azkaban and come out with your mind in the same state it was in when you started. I do NOT confuse them. In my head I am thinking about my Godson, but in there I was thinking about my brother. So when I go to say J…Harry’s name, Jamie’s comes out.”

 

  “Pft,” she scoffed. “There is no excuse for calling the boy by his father’s name.”

 

  “Ha, as if you can talk, you can’t even call your son’s the right name!”

 

  “I have never confused one of my son’s with another.”

 

  “Are you telling me you have never confused Fred and George!”

 

  “That’s different! They are twins!”

 

  “They are your sons. And they are very different from one another,”

 

  Molly took a huge breath in through her nose and hissed it out, “We are not here to talk about me. We are here to talk about you, and your behaviour, and how that has affected Harry. He is acting out, and I blame you. There is no way he would have spoken to  everyone the way did last night, before he had contact with you.”

 

(leads into “You need to do something with that boy!”)

 

- cut -

 

  Argument had between Sirius and Molly later that day after the children had gone to bed.

 

  Sirius was standing in the kitchen. Leaning on his hands facing the bench with his head hanging down.  It had been an incredibly long and emotional day. So many of the concerns that he had that morning had, to his utter devastation, had been proven correct. On top of that, that woman had struck him!

 

  That thought percolated through his mind, growing stronger the longer it sat.  

 

  How dare she. Then she had spent the rest of the day in her room sulking. Leaving the children unsupervised. After the fuss she had kicked up, that once Harry had arrived at Grimmauld place he would need close supervision. It was the only reason he allowed the woman and her brood into his house. Well that and that fact that until Harry and Percival had arrived, and performed whatever magic they had to clean and brighten the place, he had hated the place and not wanted to be in it alone.  Still she was a guest and the way she treated his godson, who had more right than any of them to be here, was deplorable. He could not let it stand. As Lord Black, and wasn’t that a turn up for the books, he would not let it go. Perhaps he should wait? Now might not be the best time, his mind being as damaged as it was. No, if he left it too long it might slip through the cracks and be forgotten. Harry deserved and adult to be on his side. Sirius would be damned if it would be anyone other than him.

 

  “Drinking again, Sirius?” Molly asked snidely.

 

  “I did not drink last night and I will not drink tonight,” he said calmly, not lifting his head.

 

  “Do you see what I mean about his behaviour?”

 

  He turned around so fast that she stepped back in fright, “How dare you!” he hissed.

 

  “How dare I? You are…”

 

  But he did not let her finished, “You talk about him as if he is a dog to be controlled. He is a boy, who has been abused.”

 

  “He is lying, Sirius. Surely you can see that,” she protested.

 

  “No! I know what abuse is, and I know that he is speaking the truth, regardless of what your narrow little mind sees. Your own sons, have vouched for his story. They saw him in his distress, and rescued him and what did you do? Hmm, what did you do? When he turned up on your doorstep, thin as a rail and pale as parchment. Did you report it to the appropriate authorities? Did you ask him? Did you take steps to ensure that he was safe in that house? No! You told Albus Dumbledore, who as the Headmaster of Hogwarts had absolutely no right, to any information on Harry and absolutely no say in his living conditions.”

 

  “He is the boys guardian! He…”

 

  “He wasn’t and even if he was that is even more reason for it to be reported to the department of child safety. So that they could start and unbiased investigation. You facilitated his continued abuse,” Sirius was livid. There is no way Euphemia or Fleamont would have ever let a child continue to live in an environment like that. 

 

  “I did no…”

 

  “You did. You stood by and did nothing!”

 

  “We were going to go and get him the next week. Albus said to wait…”

 

  “Albus said,” Sirius’s voice lowered. “The world would be a better place if people just thought about the words that Albus said rather than just acted on them.”

 

  “Albus Dumbledore is a great man. And we all owe him a lot. He knows what he is doing, which is more than can be said of you. Slinking around here in this dark house. Drinking all day….”

 

  “Why do you keep accusing me of drinking?” 

 

  “You’re a single man locked up in a house he hates all day, what else would you be doing?”

 

  “In case you had not noticed, I no longer hate this house. Whatever those boys did when they walked in, has cured it of the darkness that it had.  And if you must know I was sorting through the mess that had been made of my own bedroom, and sorting out the care of the Buckbeak. Talking with Remus and arguing with Kreacher. All of which was and is more than enough to keep me occupied. If you had bothered to look, only one bottle of fire whisky has been opened and that was by your eldest son, last Thursday.”

 

  “Bill would never.”

 

  “Bill would and did, and you can ask him yourself. Still, we have gotten away from the point. You did something that I can not forgive today. You struck my Godson.”

 

  “Someone has to discipline the boy, and if you are not going to act like a responsible adult, then I will be the mother he needs and do it.”

 

  “He was abused, you daft twit. You struck a child whose life has been filled with violence.” His voice became low and menacing, “If you so much as harm a single hair on his head ever again, I will toss you and your family out of this house. And then you will learn why nobody ever crosses a Black!” His eyes glowed with madness, and the shadows made him appear to be towering over her. “You are a guest in this house, and you have come in and without so much as a ‘by your leave’ taken over the kitchen and everything else. I have allowed it because frankly I did not care about this place, but Harry has made me see that there is more than I ever thought to my family. So watch your step or you will outstay your welcome and your eviction will not be pleasant. As it is, I give you fair warning you only have until the children return to school and then you will leave.”

 

  Not bothering to wait for a response, he stalked out of the room.

 

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