The sombre mood that had descended during the afternoon was broken when the pair arrived back at Grimmauld place. It was nearly impossible for Harry to contain his excitement in the face of the reception he received when they spun out of the floo into the kitchen. Apparently, Arthur had been busy at work and hadn’t had time to send word earlier, so everyone who had been staying at the town house was gathered in the kitchen anxiously waiting for Harry’s return.
“I knew it!” yelled Ron, punching the air exuberantly. “You always get away with stuff!”
“They were bound to clear you,” said Hermione who had looked positively faint with anxiety when Harry had entered the kitchen and was now holding a shaking hand over her eyes. “There was no case against against you, none at all.”
It was quite the turnaround from the last few days of glares. Harry wondered for a moment if it would last, then he saw the sly sideways glance she was giving him, and he suppressed a groan behind his grin.
“Everyone seems quite relieved, though considering you all knew I’d get off,” he said rather cheekily.
Mrs Weasley was wiping her face on her apron, while Fred, George and Ginny were doing a kind of war dance to a chant that went: ‘He got off, he got off, he got off!’
“That’s enough! Settle down!” shouted Mr Weasley who had arrived in the midst of the pandemonium.
“Listen, Sirius, Lucius Malfoy was at the Ministry, waiting for Fudge when we got out of the lifts after Harry’s trial.”
“What?” said Sirius sharply.
“He got off, he got off, he got off…”
“Be quiet you three! Yes, I saw him talking to Fudge on level nine. Then they went into Fudge’s office together. Dumbledore ought to know. If the Minister is meeting known Death Eaters alone, there is the possibility he is under the imperius!”
“Absolutely,” said Sirius, “we’ll tell him if you’re not here, don’t worry.”
“Well I’d better go wash up, I’ve spent all day dealing with a vomiting toilet at Bethnal Green! And I have to head back later so I can cover for Tonks, but Kingsley might be dropping in for dinner –” he disappeared up the stairs.
“He got off, he got off, he got off…”
“That’s enough – Fred – George – Ginny!” said Mrs Weasley, “Harry, dear, come and sit down, have some tea, you hardly ate breakfast.”
Ron and Hermione sat themselves down opposite him. Ron looking happier than he had done since Harry had first arrived at Grimmauld place, and Harry’s giddy feeling of relief, which had subsided somewhat at Mr Weasleys mention of Lucius Malfoy and the Minister, swelled again.
“So, Mr Whatsit? Your lawyer, was a big help then?” Ron asked as he chewed a mouth full of bread.
Harry nodded and swallowed before answering, “He was good! Even went and saw my Aunt to get permission for me to take veritaserum. Me lying seemed to be their biggest concern. He’s also going to be talking to the Prophet and the Minister about the things they’ve been saying about me. He called Fudge….”
“That’s the Minister Harry!” Hermione interrupted leaning across the table to slap his arm.
Green eyes flicked her way for a moment, taking in her supercilious demeanour, before they returned to the red-head, “out on calling me crazy, right in the court room!”
“That’s so rude! Harry you need….”
“Well, I suppose it was a good thing that he was there, but I do think you should have left it to Dumbledore,” Mrs Weasley commented. “You could have saved that money, Harry.”
“Yeah well, as my family has been paying his firm for years, you could say I was just getting some use out of the money that’s already been spent. Besides Dumbledore didn’t even show up until the trial was over and they were giving out the verdict!” Harry snorted.
“It’s Professor Dumbledore, Harry!” scolded Hermione, slapping him again. Seriously if she had been a guy he would have considered hitting her back.
“Thanks Hermione, I didn’t realise we were at Hogwarts!” Harry looked around as if examining the room. “Oh, hang on that’s because we’re not!” he ended sarcastically.
Percival and Sirius snorted while the twins snickered. Hermione crossed her arms in front of her chest with a huff.
“Really Harry, you should show some respect for the Headmaster,” Mrs Weasley huffed.
“But I do, Mrs Weasley,” Harry looked at her with wide green eyes, the very epitome of innocence. “I am sure that he is an excellent Headmaster. Just as I am sure that he treats all students the same. For example, he calls me Harry, and yet he calls you what exactly Ron?”
“‘E calls me Mr Weasley,” Ron supplied helpfully around another mouthful of food.
“Exactly…. Mr Weasley. He calls me into his office for meetings that are unrelated to my schoolwork, which I am sure he does with all of your children as well?” Harry looked around the group, Mr Weasley was now frowning. Surely the twins had been called into the Headmasters office for their antics!
“See,” Harry waved a hand towards Hermione, the only one who hadn’t shaken their head. “Hermione also has meetings alone with the Headmaster without any other teachers present.”
“I am sure,” Mrs Weasley said primly. “That the Headmaster ensures that Hermione’s Head of House is present for any meetings.” Hermione looked at the table, redness staining her cheeks.
“Yes, I will admit that sometimes he has the Head of Slytherin present for our meetings. Though I’m not sure why? Even though with me he discusses things like where I will be spending the summer, I am sure he only discusses your schoolwork right Hermione?” Harry wheedled, genuinely curious now. Harry was certain from the look on his face that Ron had never been called into the Headmaster’s office at all. Perhaps the meetings were how they had covered up her access to the Potter library? Hermione’s cheeks turned darker.
“Of course, he does!” Mrs Weasley sniffed dismissively. “There’s no other reason for the Headmaster to be calling a young girl into his office.”
“Or a young boy! I don’t think gender matters who he has invited for a private meeting the rules are the same?” Sirius asked dubiously, looking at Hermione. “Regardless of what it is about, there should be another adult present!”
“Harry,” Percival said quietly, while the others were distracted. “If the Headmaster Dumbledore ever calls you for a meeting, you can ask your Head of House to go with you and he can’t turn you down. It’s in the school rules.”
“Are you kidding she’s never listened to me before!” Harry snorted.
“One of the others could go to,” Percival suggested, Harry shrugged. He doubted Sprout would stand by him after the way she treated him when his name came out of the Goblet of Fire. Maybe Flitwick would?
“You can also request your guardian be present,” Sirius said from Harry’s other side. “And don’t think that I haven’t noticed that you’ve been ignoring me since you got back,” he added quietly as he elbowed his Godson in the ribs.
Harry couldn’t help the grin that slid across his face, he bent closer and whispered, “Something else happened, but I want to tell you where no-one else can hear.”
Sirius eyed him curiously, “In the library when we’ve finished here then.” Harry nodded and avoided further conversation by filling his mouth with food.
An hour later Harry was lying flat on his back on the rug in the middle of the floor in front of the fireplace that had appeared in the library. His hands were resting on his abdomen, as he took slow deep breaths. Finally, he had reached a point where he was able to focus on one thought to the exclusion of all others and could locate his core, as he had done at Gringotts, in moments. Initially Percival had tried to get him to not think of anything, to empty his mind. That had failed spectacularly. Percival had not been surprised, apparently it was quite common, especially in teenagers, who had all sorts of thoughts, uncontrolled emotions and hormones floating around. Now though, he concentrated on that feeling of freedom he got when he was flying. Now that, he could focus on for hours!
They had moved on to trying to develop some sort of protection, because while the flying was a great deflection technique, it had managed to prevent Percival from finding any memories, it did rely on Harry knowing that someone was trying to perform legilimency on him. Which a skilled legilimens was not going to do. Building a wall, or a building had failed, and Harry was in the process of trying to figure out why. First, he had to calm his mind, to settle all the errant thoughts of the day. On days like today there were a lot!
With a slow exhalation he focused deeper. Why did the walls he build fall down? What did it take to build a strong wall? Surely just brick or stone. He had tried fancier materials too, like titanium and steel, nothing seemed to work. Percival just knocked them over or dug under them. Hmmm, maybe what he was missing was a foundation? They just sort of sat on the ground that made up his mental construct, so perhaps he should dig into it, then start building, then cover up the base, then maybe some sort of support or strut?
Green eyes popped open as Harry was pulled abruptly back into the present.
“You know you’re not supposed to be sleeping, hey?” Percival poked the other boy in the ribs, encouraging him to sit up.
“I was meditating!”
“You’ve got some drool,” Percival pointed at the corner of Harry’s mouth. “Right there. Did you know?”
Harry hurriedly swiped a hand across his mouth only to find it dry. Sitting up quickly he grabbed hold of Percival arm, and tried to force the taller boy onto the floor. The wrestling match finished, with both boys out of breath and Harry lying across Percival’s chest, trying to use his body weight to pin the other boy down.
Sirius cleared his throat, lips twitching, “Uh-hum. I can see you boys are busy but Harry you did promise to tell me what happened today.”
“And I realised something the other day, about your Occlumency that I need to tell you, plus you promised Ron a game of chess,” Percival added. “Remind me to tell you so I don’t forget.”
A blushing Harry pushed himself off his friend and made his way over to sit next to Sirius on the lounge.
“You already know that Amelia Bones was there right?” Sirius nodded. “Well McMillan managed to get them to give me veritaserum. This woman sitting near the Minister said,” and here Harry put on a nasal whine. “Surely you can’t mean to say that two Ministry Dementors were so far from Azkaban, Mr Potter? All dementors are under the Ministry’s control. Surely you aren’t implying that someone at the Ministry ordered such a thing? I mean why would anyone do such a thing?”
“That’s a terrible impression of Madame Umbridge!” Percival chided, poking his leg with a toe from where he was now lying on the rug.
Harry rolled his eyes and continued, “So even though it was really a rhetorical question I was able to answer it. I said that someone wanted to keep me quiet. Which made Madame Bones ask why. So I answered, mentioning third year and the end of the tournament. Madame Bones commented that you’d already had a trial and even though it wasn’t a question I was able to say that you hadn’t, as I was under veritaserum they had to believe me. After that they pretty much went straight to voting but Madame Bones wanted to know more, so she came back to Madame Picquery’s.” Harry grinned.
“She told you to call her Aunt Sera,” Percival threw a cushion at Harry, who caught it and threw it back.
“Sorry Aunt Sera’s. While we were there Madame Bones asked me to tell her everything. To cut a long story short, she’s going to get a team together to investigate your lack of trial and whether you’re guilty or not. Though she agrees that because you’re my Godfather that Magic would have taken action if you were actually guilty.” His grin grew wider as Sirius shook his head in disbelief.
“Harry,” the man whispered almost reverentially. “Thank you.”
“She thinks she’ll have some sort of result in about a month. Because it’s already been raised under veritaserum, if the evidence supports you, they will have to give you a trial. I’ve sent an owl to McMillan and he’s agreed he’ll represent you, as long as you’re happy with that.”
Sirius nodded and wrapped an arm around Harry’s shoulders, bringing him into a close hug. Harry didn’t comment on the tear that made its way down the man’s cheek.
“Now you had better go and let Ron defeat you at chess!” Percival walked passed the couch and ruffled Harry’s hair.
“Oi!” Harry tried to swat his hands away but was too slow.
“Oh, Harry,” Harry turned back, at the hesitant sound of Sirius’ voice. “Remus’ relationship with you came up, during the Order meeting the other night. I expect he’ll want to talk to you about it at some point.”
Harry frowned, “He had all of third year to talk, then he could have written!”
Sirius stood and placed his hands-on Harry’s shoulders, looking the boy in the eye, “I know. I also know that Remus has the lowest self-esteem of anyone anywhere, and he holds the Headmaster in very high regard, because he allowed him to go to Hogwarts. Make no mistake,” he continued as Harry opened his mouth to protest. “That doesn’t mean he did the right thing. I think a lot of people have taken Albus’ word about you, without bothering to look any further and that has hurt you deeply. I will not follow him blindly any longer. I …I just wanted you to know that it had come up. You have missed out on so many of the things that your parents wanted for you,” Sirius shook his head. “The way things have turned out is not your fault and I am more than a little miffed that he didn’t make the effort to get to know you. But if nothing else he will be able to tell you more about your Mum and I don’t want you to miss out on that.”
Harry nodded with a small smile and left.
“I’m glad you’ve woken up and started thinking,” Percival said as he walked passed Sirius to the door.
Sirius watched the dark-haired boy leave, before falling onto the couch with a groan.
Harry was again lying on the couch in the ex-President’s apartment. Unfortunately between the new leads on Tom Riddle and investigating Sirius’ case, work at the DMLE had kept Madame Bones from being present. Healer Addison had finished examining Sirius and had been mildly pleased with his mental state and the fact that Sirius was now able to acknowledge how bad he had been. His physical condition was on par with Harry’s though, so he was also placed on a potions regime. They had also both been warned that once their bodies had recovered enough they would be put on an exercise program as well.
Sirius rubbed a hand across his face with a sigh, “It looks like I am going to have to apologise to Severus.”
“I don’t know, I think you’ve both been as bad as each other,” Harry stated wryly.
“Mmm,” Sirius agreed. “If I’m honest, he has every right to be angry at me. We did not like each other at school. Don’t get me wrong, he and his little band of Death Eaters were just as bad as we were.”
“But,” Harry looked shocked. “That means you were as bad as they were!”
“Mmmhmm,” Sirius nodded, slightly relieved he hadn’t needed to spell it out for Harry. “And more than a few times we took it all a bit too far. We were arses, jumped up on our own self-importance. Your mother was best friends with Severus up until our fifth year and we, your Dad, Rems and myself, were involved in the incident that led to them falling out. They’d been arguing for a while, over his involvement with the Death Eaters, not that we knew they were called that then. But there was event at the end of our exams that was the final straw.”
“But, if Dad was such a horrid person why would Mum go out with him?” Harry asked with a frown.
“It was two years later and he grew up,” Sirius replied simply. “That event and another early the next year made him really think.”
“What was the other event?”
“Ah,” Sirius coughed. “I had kind of hoped you wouldn’t ask. I tricked Severus into going down to the shrieking shack on a full moon.” He said it really fast.
“You what?” Harry jumped to his feet.
“I know,” Sirius raised a hand in supplication. “In my defence I believed, and still do, that he already knew that Remus was a werewolf and was down there. He had bragged to me that he was the one responsible for taking my brother Regulus to meet V…. Tom Riddle. I was so angry,” Sirius dropped his head into his hands. “My baby brother, I had protected him his whole life, I took every punishment for him that I could, until I ran away from home, well I was kicked out really.” Sirius shook his head, bringing himself back to the present. “I honestly thought that Snape wouldn’t be stupid enough to go. He had been spouting off for months how he knew what Remus was up to on the full moon. I didn’t stop to think how it would affect Remus. I believe that’s the reason why he never stood up for me when I was sent to Azkaban. On some level he believed I was capable of selling out a friend.”
Harry slumped back onto the couch, “What happened?”
“Well, your father got wind of it. We were already down in the shack when I mentioned it to him, saying that Snape would have to be stupid to come down the tunnel. Remus was beginning to turn, when we noticed that the whomping willow wasn’t moving. James ordered me to stop Remus leaving the room while he ran back up the tunnel to stop Severus. They didn’t speak to me for months after that. I was pulled off the Quidditch team and suspended for a month, when Dumbledore found out. Of course I told him the whole story and he promised to help Regulus.” Sirius shook his head again with a snort, “Something that he never did, another empty promise of his, I suppose I shouldn’t be too harsh, he did prevent Remus’ secret from getting out. That was about the time that I became friends with your Mum. When the others were giving me the silent treatment she started talking to me. I think she felt sorry for me. She confirmed that Severus had thought Remus was a werewolf back in fourth year. Your Dad changed a lot after that, he became much more responsible for one thing and stopped with the arrogance. Once he knew that Severus had already known about Remus, he started speaking to me again.”
“With all that history, why are you going to try and talk to him?” Harry asked softly.
“Well that is actually simple Harry. I am going to apologise to him, for you. You need these potions, Severus can make sure that you get them while you’re at school. He already offered to check them once he heard that you had been living with Petunia.”
“Oh,” Harry was somewhat humbled that someone would do something like that just for him.
“I’m hoping to ask him to make them for you. He might be a cranky bastard but he can certainly brew.”
“I’m sure the ones from the shop are just fine. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, he probably won’t anyway. He hates me.”
“You are my Godson, and I love you Harry. Facing my demons may be difficult, but it’s worth it to help you.”
“Good,” Healer Addison said, moving over to the pair. “He is going to need someone on his side. Now Harry, we were talking last time about your scar.” His solemn tone was the first sign Sirius had that something was wrong.
Harry nodded and chewed his lip anxiously, which was the second sign.
“I did some investigating and taking into consideration your memories of that night and the incident with the diary in your second year, I can confirm we were correct. Tom Riddle has made horcruxes,” Sirius hissed, that was the third sign. “And given that he has managed to create a new body, it is clear that these weren’t the only ones.”
“Wait, wait, wait!” Sirius said frantically, trying to catch up with the conversation. “Weren’t the only ones? But you only mentioned the diary, right?”
Addison shook his head solemnly, “Sirius, there is a part of Tom Riddle’s soul imbedded in the scar on your Godson’s forehead.”
“No!” Sirius gasped out.
“Perhaps a calming draught?” Seraphina suggested.
Healer Addison summoned one from his bag and removed the cork before handing the phial to Sirius, who downed the liquid in one gulp. It took several seconds before it took effect.
“Now if I can continue. I don’t believe that he meant to create the one in your scar. I am unsure whether his soul was so unstable by that point, that the spell rebounding from your Mother’s protection caused it to break off, or if he had prepared for the ritual to create a new one before going to your parents’ house so that the piece was already partially separated, and the magic of your Mother’s protections bound it to you or perhaps as your soul was the only complete one in the room it acted as a lodestone and drew the fractured piece to you. In the end it doesn’t matter which it was, what we need to discover is what can be done to be rid of it and the others.”
“There are others?” Percival asked.
“Indubitably. The piece in Harry is infinitesimally small. The piece that has remained to create the new body must have been equally small at the time of the ritual. It is why he has lost most of his human appearance.”
Harry paled and swallowed.
“Harry?” Percival asked quietly.
“I think he created another one.”
“Those dreams that I have. Do you remember Sirius I wrote you, last year? He was in that house and he killed that old man.” Harry turned horrified eyes to the Healer.
“Did he have a proper body at that time?” Harry shook his head. “That’s good then. He wouldn’t have been able to create a new horcrux without one. The homunculus would have been ripped apart due to the stress of the ritual. So, no Harry, he couldn’t have created one then. Though you raise an important point, he has a new body now, so potentially he could create more. Though I would think that the number would be restricted, at some point the soul must get too small to tear anymore pieces away and leave a still functioning being.”
Harry wasn’t sure if he should be relieved or horrified by the healer’s response.
“So how do we get rid of it then?” Seraphina asked.
“You must understand that most of the documents related to such things have been destroyed over time, making the research difficult and time consuming. I will need assistance and someone else will need to research what objects he might have used to store this soul pieces and how many there could be. So far, I have discovered that usually the piece of soul is placed into a non-living container. Meaning that destroying the receptacle beyond repair will destroy the soul piece contained within.” Four pairs of horrified eyes stared at the healer, who clucked his tongue at them indignantly. “Not that I am suggesting that we do that. I am in the business of saving lives not taking them, but you need to know this to be able to destroy the others. If they still exist so will Tom. I need to do some more research into removing one from a living vessel. If we can, we might be able to place it in a container of our choosing and thus be able to create a way of using it to locate the others.”
Sirius tried to speak around the lump in his throat, eventually he managed it, “What have you found so far?”
“Not a great deal, unfortunately. There is however a number of references to a ritual that will evict a soul piece, usually in the case of possession but I haven’t found the ritual itself yet.”
“I’ll look in the Black library, though that could take time,” he mused. “Hermione likes the library, maybe I could get her to look?” he stroked his beard thoughtfully.
“Don’t you dare tell…” Harry started before looking at Sirius’ face and realising he was only joking to try and break up the tension. “Sod off Padfoot!” He reached out and tried to push Sirius over.
“How did you discover it?” Sirius asked the Healer, there was a slight edge of suspicion in his voice as if he had just thought of something distasteful.
“I simply did an in-depth diagnostic scan. It is commonly used on anyone who is unconscious because it reveals their name, age and any injury that has occurred to them in their lifetime.”
“What is it Sirius?” Harry asked at the Animagus’ scowl.
“How is it that the world knew the next morning that you had survived the killing curse? When I saw you that night, your forehead was all swollen and bloody. There was no way to see what shape the cut would take. I thought you had been hit when the roof caved in. You were only fifteen months old. So, while you were speaking a little there is no way you could have told anyone what happened.”
“What about Legilimency?”
“It doesn’t really work on children under the age of five,” Healer Addison responded. “Babies and toddlers don’t really think the same way as adults do. Their memories are more made up of the emotions that are present, rather than an internal dialogue. I imagine if someone had tried it on you at the time, all they would only have felt something along the lines of fear, pain and tiredness.”
“The only way anyone could have known, is if someone had performed that spell. Is it a spell just anyone can do?”
Addison shook his head, “It is only taught as part of the training to become a healer. There are strict vows that must be taken with regards to its use due to the issues around patient confidentiality.”
“So, who would I have been taken to that night?”
“Hagrid had you,” Sirius rasped out. “He had pulled you out of the house before I got there. He let me hug you briefly before saying he was under orders. I gave him my bike so that he could take you to Dumbledore while I hunted the rat.”
“Madame Pomphrey would know the spell, he must have taken me to Hogwarts. So, Dumbledore must have known this whole time!”
“That raises an interesting issue,” Addison mused. “Of why Madame Pomfrey has not been looking for a solution. The oaths the healers take would compel her to.”
“Knowing how she is with her patients, I assume that she has been obliviated. Which is a problem for another time. As much as I want to hex Dumbledore even more now, it won’t help us find a solution. Are there any books I should be looking for?” Sirius asked.
Addison shook his head, “Not specifically. But anything on soul magic, possibly blood magic, or healing. Possessions are a good place to start, though you are looking for rituals that will remove the extra soul and store it, not just banish it. We don’t want there to be even a hint that the bond is gone until we are ready. With him now sharing Harry’s blood there is a chance he could use it to forge another possession. Speaking of blood, you’ll be glad to note that your blood was free from potions, but there were a couple of unusual results that I want to speak to you about next time. Nothing that seems to be harming you for the moment. Well, I will leave you with that for now. I want to review you one last time before you head to school Harry. I’ll make arrangements with Sera, shall I?”
Harry nodded, “Thanks for your help.”
With a nod Addison disappeared through the floo.
“Shite!” the Animagus swore. “How am I supposed to find anything in here?” Sirius had barely left the library and parlour in the two days since they had returned form Picquery’s. He desperately wanted to find a solution to the Horcrux problem. He knew he’d need to leave soon, his bladder was beginning to become a problem. Perhaps if he talked to Kreacher they could set up a water closet or an ensuite in here. Then he wouldn’t even have to leave to shower. Perhaps a stretcher, then he wouldn’t have to leave at all. The library did have a penchant for adding various bits and pieces every once in a while, like the fire place and the wing backed chairs, maybe it would add something. He scratched his head, in irritability, every moment outside was a moment he wasn’t looking for a solution, with that he turned the page on the tome in his lap.
“Sirius!” Remus stuck his head into the parlour.
“Hmm,” Sirius called, not looking up from the book he had open on his knee.
“There’s an order meeting starting in ten minutes. You’d best come. What on earth has gotten into you?! You never even read this much when we were studying for our NEWTS. In fact, the only other time I have seen you like this was just after Lily told us she was pregnant.” He turned wide eyes on his friend. “Sirius?”
“What,” Sirius looked up now. “No, I haven’t gotten anyone pregnant!” he scoffed indignantly. “I haven’t even left the house. To be honest I’m not even sure that all that works anymore, I’ll have to ask a healer as soon as one of the Order ones is willing to look at me. If you must know I wanted to know a bit more about the potions that Harry is taking.” Sirius lied. “Is Snape in tonight?”
“Yeah, he should be through any minute.”
Sirius marked his place in the book and banished it back into the library.
“Is that really necessary?”
“Just trying to be a bit more responsible. It would only disappear itself if I left it out. Besides I don’t think the kids should have access to medical books do you. They might not be dark, but some of the pictures!” He shuddered.
“Yeah, descriptive for ailments or conditions like the werewolf transformation. Even having seen it in real life I didn’t need to see those pictures!”
“Have you spoken to Harry yet?” Sirius asked knowing that the other man hadn’t. The longer it went on the less likely Harry was to want anything to do with the man.
“No. Dumbledore said not to worry. That Harry would come round.” Sirius’ face blanked. “What? You don’t think he will?”
“I don’t think Dumbledore would know or care,” Sirius replied flatly. He really wanted to slap some sense into Remus at time. Sure Dumbledore had let Remus go to Hogwarts, but had he followed it up? No! To his knowledge Remus was still the only werewolf to ever have gone. Did no-one else find it odd?
“But of course, he does. He has always had Harry’s best interest at heart.”
“You think sending him to be abused, was in his best interest,” Sirius hissed.
“Dumbledore said, he was exaggerating.” Remus defended.
“Do you remember sixth year?” Sirius said almost conversationally, and Remus was surprised by the sudden change in topic.
“Well then, you will remember that because you, James and the rat, were giving me the cold shoulder, and rightly so, I took up a new friendship.” Remus nodded. “You might also remember the night that you found Lily and I at the top of the astronomy tower. How you accused be of hitting on my best mate’s girl. Despite the fact that neither of you had talked to me for six months and Lily was a mess from crying. What you never knew was that she was crying because that was the first night back after the holidays and her sister had made her life miserable for the week she was home. Including trying to run her over in a car. Lily had to apparate to safety and got a warning from the ministry for it. Dumbledore sent Harry to live with that woman. I have had a healer see Harry, and the list of injuries inflicted on him, and I don’t mean things like he stubbed his toe, is longer than Moody’s!”
Sirius glared at the werewolf, who stuttered, “But he said!”
“He wouldn’t know, he never checked! He doesn’t care about Harry! He cares about his pawn in the game he is playing with Tom Riddle!” Sirius growled.
Remus backed away from Sirius as his magic flared.
“What harm would it do to talk to Harry? You say he is your cub, part of your pack, but how exactly have you shown him? And don’t even think about starting the answer with Dumbledore said!” Sirius challenged the werewolf.
Remus’ mouth which had begun to open snapped shut.
“Just think about it Remus. Harry needs adults who see him for the fifteen-year-old he is not the weapon that Dumbledore wants him to be.” He opened the door and stepped into the hall, “If there is one thing that I wholeheartedly agree with Molly on it’s that the kids should have nothing to do with this damn war.”
Mrs Weasley opened the door to the kitchen in time to hear that last comment, though she said nothing she nodded at Sirius with a small smile.
The meeting was just as boring as Sirius had anticipated. He ignored the various snide comments about how little he was doing. Vindictively thinking that if they weren’t careful, they could find somewhere else to host their stupid bird club. Though if he was honest with himself, he wouldn’t do that quite yet. Not until he had been cleared by Amelia and was Harry’s undisputed guardian or alternately they had set up an escape plan to get Harry out of the country, something he had discussed in depth with Seraphina Picquery, while Harry had been talking to Healer Addison about his childhood.
Two hours! Two whole hours and what had they covered? The surprising fact that Snape had not been called to attend Tom Riddle yet and setting the weeks roster for monitoring the Department of Mysteries. He waited until the group was breaking up before he spoke.
“Snape!” the spy glared at him. “Could I speak to you a minute. In the parlour.” Away from listening ears was implied.
Severus gave a small nod and followed him from the room. They entered the parlour and Sirius waved a hand activating the magic that would prevent anyone else from entering the room or listening in. He paced while he decided the best way to handle the situation. Discarding several options before deciding that while Severus was a Slytherin, but he was a Gryffindor so…..
“Whatever it is you’ve got to say, just say it!” snapped Snape, after two minutes of watching the other man pace, as impatient as ever. “I don’t have all night.”
“Of course,” Sirius wiped sweaty palms on his robes. “I’m sorry!” Severus raised a single brow though the rest of his face remained blank. “James and I, we were, right little gits.” Sirius huffed out a laugh, “Lily was quite right, we were arrogant, bullying toe rags. Harry… he’s made me see it. Unsurprisingly he doesn’t like bullies.”
“If this is some belated attempt at assuaging your conscious, please put it aside. I don’t believe you.”
Sirius nodded not taking offence, “Yeah, I’m not surprised. But I must say I thought you already knew Remus was a werewolf, so I never thought you’d go. I was so angry at you for taking Regulus to see……. him that I….” Sirius stalled.
Severus remained silent for a long minute, “Yes. That is something I regret,” he acknowledged with a nod.
Well, that was a better response than Sirius had expected so he forged ahead. “I also have a favour to ask of you.”
Severus pursed his lips, before spitting out derisively, “I should have known better. Don’t waste my time with false platitudes in order to manipulate me into giving you what you want! Clearly there was a reason you were in Gryffindor.”
“No!” Sirius raised a hand. “That was a sincere apology that was long overdue. I intend to pay you for what I am about to ask you to do.”
Severus sneered, “What is it that you want?”
“The potions for Harry. We are both aware that for some reason Dumbledore doesn’t want Harry to have them,” Sirius glanced at Snape who now looked like he had swallowed a pebble. “You know why! Will you tell me?”
“Regulus was taught Occlumency, I assume this was a family tradition.”
Sirius nodded, “Yes, but my barriers were ripped to shreds by Azkaban,” he said honestly. “They are improving again, but they are not what they were. They would not stand up to Dumbledore.”
Severus raised his brow again at that, “Then it would not be prudent for me to tell you at this time. Though I might be inclined to divulge the information if that situation changes.”
“That’s fine,” Sirius accepted the rejection with far more grace than he would have even a week prior, it was certainly better than an outright refusal. “I was hoping that you would agree to either making Harry’s potions, or supervising him making them as detention or something so that he can continue taking them at Hogwarts.”
“He has seen a healer?” Snape confirmed.
“Yes, Addison Hedgerow.”
“You were given a similar list of potions?” Sirius nodded. “What payment?”
“Oh, you’re going to think about! That’s good, hang on, just wait there!” Sirius babbled before running into the library. He returned a moment later carrying a thick tome. “I remember, when I moved in with the Potters, Fleamont telling me about this book. He had read a copy of it in his youth and apparently it completely changed the way he made his potions and lead him to be able to develop several new potions.”
He passed the book to Severus. The Formidable World of the Potioneer by Corvus Black.
“You would give this to me?” Severus’ eyes devoured the book.
Sirius shook his head, “I can’t. This is the original, so the spells won’t allow it to leave the library or parlour. Though I might have lied to Dumbledore, just a little bit, about how the spells work. You can read it as long as you are in this room.” He grinned nervously, “But if you tried to take it with you it would return to its shelf as soon as you left the room. I know that I have seen a copying spell that works on the Black library and there is no restriction on the copies. So, I was going to offer you a copy, of this and A Treatise in the Exploration of Healing Charms. You can read them in here until I can locate the book the spell is in.”
“This acceptable,” Severus held out his hand for the list of potions. “If you happen to find other potions related works of this calibre, I might be willing to make yours as well. You will of course be covering the costs of the ingredients and my time.”
“Of course,” Sirius had expected no less. Severus left and didn’t even slam the door! Sirius sighed in relief, it had gone so much better than he had expected. It took him half a minute to write a quick note to Seraphina, so she could cancel Harry’s potions order at the apothecary, and send it through the floo.
For once Percival and Harry were not in the library, they had decided to take the afternoon off, and were in the master bedroom grooming Buckbeak. Ron was seated on the floor, with A History of Magic open, leaned up against a cushion, and a roll of parchment on his knee.
“Hermione hasn’t badgered you into finishing yet?” Harry asked with a smile.
Ron huffed, “She has, and I even gave her a copy to edit. This,” he waved the sheet of parchment in Harry’s direction. “Is the one I’m going to hand in. It’s all my own work.” He looked a bit sheepish as he continued, “You’re my best mate, and it seems like Riddle isn’t going to stop coming after you. I can’t do anything about that, but I can learn as much as I can so that I’m not holding you back.”
An awkward silence followed Harry’s quiet, ‘thanks’.
“We probably should find somewhere else for Buckbeak to go, it can’t be good for him to be stuck in here,” Percival said as he watched the Hippogriff eat another ferret.
“Not to mention it might improve things with the House Elf if we cleaned up the room,” Ron added without looking up from his work.
“Do you think Aunt Sera might know someone who can help?” Harry asked Percival.
“Maybe,” he shrugged. Hedwig arrived the minute after they finished writing the letter on a piece of parchment that they borrowed of Ron. She landed on Harry’s shoulder and patiently groomed her wizard’s hair. Seriously every time she had just got it sorted to her satisfaction he came along and ran a hand through it. She had a good mind to nip him the next time. As soon as they had finished she flew off out the window with the missive.
After lunch the boys retreated to the Main bedroom once more. Hedwig was already perched on the back of chair, with her head under her wing.
“Hey Hedwig,” Harry cooed. She cooed back staying still as he ran a gentle finger over her feathers and cooed at her again.
And didn’t Percival think that was just adorable. Ron grinned wickedly when he caught him staring.
“Did Aunt Sera send a reply already?” Hedwig extracted her head and blinked at him, with a chirrup. Then with another coo she lifted her leg displaying the message she carried.
“Thank you,” Harry stroked the crest of her head. “Have a rest now, I’ll make sure there are some treats out in our room later. Thanks for coming back so fast.” Hedwig hooted and her head disappeared again. He was a good wizard, she had trained him well.
Dearest Percival and Harry,
You always have the strangest requests for me. Housing for a Hippogriff? I swear I have never known someone to get into as much trouble as you! Well that is not strictly true. Percival you may remember Porpetina Goldstein? She would have been a junior Auror in the 1920’s. She was always getting into trouble. She ended up married to a British fellow by the name of Newton Scamander. He wrote some magizoology text book that all the schools are using these days. I have been in contact with them since my arrival in England and am in fact meeting them for dinner tomorrow evening. I vaguely remember that Newton’s Mother used to breed fancy hippogriffs, so I will ask if he knows anyone who may be able to care for the beast.
“Well Buckbeak, what do you think? Would you like going to see all the fancy hippogriffs at the Scamander’s? He’s famous you know, he wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Harry continued to smooth Buckbeak’s feathers while talking.
Two days later a new message came with the reply. Apparently, Newt Scamander would be absolutely delighted to re-home Buckbeak and he had included a portkey to take the hippogriff directly to the farm.
“Here we go Bucky!” Harry gave the hippogriff a last pat. “I guess this is Goodbye. Don’t be causing too much trouble with the other Hippogriffs! Did you want to hold the portkey for yourself or do you want it tied on?” Buckbeak reached out and took the portkey in his beak. “Alright then. Freedom!” With a whirl the beast disappeared.
Harry looked around the room and crinkled his nose at the smell, “So Ron, want to learn the banishing charm?”
Forty-five minutes later, Harry stretched his back and looked around. “You would think that sometime in the last month and a half, Sirius would have thought about cleaning up Buckbeak’s mess! Aunt Petunia would have thrown a fit at the state of this room.”
“To be fair, he was pretty crazy when we got here. I honestly don’t think it would have crossed his mind,” Ron said. “He’s been heaps better since you arrived, he barely calls you the wrong name anymore.”
Percival walked behind Harry and ran his hand up the shorter boy’s onto his shoulder to give it a squeeze.
“What is halfblood Master doing to Mistresses bower? She would be horrified she would,” the oily voice of the resident House Elf asked.
Harry whipped around at the sound, almost running into Percival who had drawn his wand. “Oh, we were cleaning up,” he replied seeing it was only the Elf. “It wasn’t right for Buckbeak to be kept in here, so we arranged to send him to another home. But he made such a dreadful mess.”
“You is cleaning?” Kreacher asked doubtfully.
“Yeah. See so far we have gotten rid of Buckbeak’s…….um, well you know and all the bones left over from his …dinner. Now we have to cleanse it.”
“After that, I think this room is going to need a full purification ritual,” Percival stated.
“You is teaching halfblood Master, rituals?” Kreacher’s ears lifted at the sides of his head. He had heard of rituals when he was a wee Ellfling, his Mother had talked about them and how they made wizards and witches strong, keeping the magic fresh and alive. She had lamented that over her two hundred and fifty years of life they had fallen out of practice.
“Yes, Kreacher,” Percival said solemnly.
“You is fixing Mistresses disappointment?” he turned his baleful eyes on Harry.
“He’s much better already but well he will always be Sirius….”
“No!” Kreacher interrupted harshly. He moved close and raised a finger which he waggled at Harry. “You is fixing.”
“He’s getting better,” Harry protested.
“No. Young Master be going away to Hoggywarts and be coming back all different and disappoints. Something be’s happening to him there. Pushes little Master away. Fighting with Father.”
“Not fighting with his Mother?” Harry asked curiously.
“Young Master and Mistress always fighting.” Kreacher shrugged. “Mistress tries to make young Master into thing he’s not. Young Master and Father, no fighting. Letters came home from school after the sorting. Only Mistress was disappointed. Old Master, not happy but knows young Master finds own way, always different, always questions, always rushing about.”
“Is that why you call him Mistresses disappointment then? Shouldn’t you be calling him Master now that he is Lord Black.”
Kreacher sniffed then said slyly, “Young Master put frog spawn in the stew, likes pranks. Prank him!”
“Wait so it didn’t change till the end of his first year? Do you think someone did something to him?” Harry asked.
Kreacher just shrugged, “Kreacher not there. Kreacher only knowing brother helping brother, then goes to school, then ignores. Listens to Father, then not listens.”
“I guess it is possible, but first years are young and impressionable, and they get segregated off into little groups, where everyone else in that group tells them how their lot is the best.” Percival rationalised. “Look at Hermione. I wonder what she was like before and after first year. Her family are No-Maj so she wouldn’t have been influenced by them into which house was best and look at her now. She didn’t argue when Ron said that the entirety of one house was evil. She claims to be intelligent yet didn’t acknowledge that where people are concerned there are no absolutes. Even Ron who was raised as a Gryffindor could acknowledge that wasn’t right, once it was pointed out to him and all he heard growing up was Gryffindors are good, Slytherins are evil’d.”
“So, what he was brain washed?” Harry asked.
“Argh, Harry! That’s gross,” Ron blanched.
Percival raised a brow at Ron, “He means that due to the recurrent exposure to a particular philosophy, perhaps with reinforcement of some kind, that he has taken on the particular belief, or world view. Such as all Slytherin’s are evil.”
Meanwhile Harry was frowning, “But……”
“What is it Harry?”
“On the train, Hermione asked us which house we thought we’d be in. She told us that she thought she would be in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor, but that she thought that Gryffindor sounded like the best house, because it was the one that Dumbledore had been in. I think she said that she read it in ‘Hogwarts a History’. But in there it also mentions that Merlin was in Slytherin, Newt Scamander was in Hufflepuff and Ignatia Wildsmith (the inventor of Floo powder) was in Ravenclaw.”
“So back in first year, she already thought that Dumbledore was the greatest wizard in the world.”
Ron put his parchment to one side and jiggled his legs a bit to try and get some feeling back after sitting cross-legged for so long, “Don’t think I didn’t notice that you just confessed to reading that book Harry. We had a deal! But I’ll ignore that for a moment,” he said with a grin. “You’re right though I was too excited to notice at the time, it was strange how much knowledge she had for a Muggleborn.”
“How long before the start of the year are first year letters sent out?” Harry asked Ron curiously.
“Generally, unless they’re late, like this year, they come out the last week in July,” Ron said.
“Remember she told us on the train that she’d memorised all the course books. Did she really memorise eight books in just five weeks?”
“There are people who can memorise something at little more than a glance Harry,” Percival commented.
“Yeah, but I know that Hermione can’t. She reads every chapter before class, writes out her notes, reviews the chapter with her notes afterwards, then writes out new notes. Which she copies out again before exams. Last year I asked her why she went to all that effort and she told me it was so she could remember it better. And she still needs to find the passage in the text when she is writing out her essays. She spends ages reviewing things. Remember she makes up a study timetable at least ten weeks before exams start. So she definitely doesn’t have an eidetic memory. And on top of the eight texts she had also memorised ‘Hogwarts a History’.”
“So, she either did nothing but study, for those five weeks, or she had access to the books a lot longer.”
“Does it matter?” Percival asked.
“No, I supposed not. It’s just that I wonder what else she got told beforehand. It would have been nice if someone had bothered to tell me anything about the magically world and my family before Hogwarts started, so I wasn’t blindsided. I mean Hermione already knew who I was……..” he shook his head, quashing the rising anger. “You’re right we can’t change it now, so it doesn’t matter. Back to Sirius. How do we find out if something happened to him? He mentioned protecting his brother when they were growing up, so I guess that rules out him being obliviated.”
Percival thought for a moment, “He could have been confounded or been given potions some of those would change how you act but you would still remember it as if your did it. To be honest after being in Azkaban for twelve years, any enchantments or compulsions would have broken by now. If he had been obliviated it could have also been broken when the dementors broke through his occlumency shields, but he still retained the anger at his family, so that is also an indication that it was not that. Potions are relatively short lasting, unless they have an alchemical base, so would have worn off years ago. He’s also been checked by the healer. Addison would have picked up anything else then. So, he is probably clean now, which is why he is not only listening to our arguments but thinking about them too. I guess we just need to keep an eye on things to ensure it stays that way.”
Kreacher who has been listening quietly nodded in satisfaction, “Good. Littlest Master will take care of Mistresses Disappointment.” Then he popped out of the room leaving the boys to their cleaning.
Several hours later, both Harry and Ron had well and truly mastered, the syphoning, cleaning and sterilising charms and the room was now spotless. Kreacher had popped back at one point with a tray of freshly baked cookies and three glasses of juice. He also retrieved the white sage and selenite crystals for the purification ritual. They now stood looking at their handiwork.
“So, what do we do with it now?” Ron asked. “Would Sirius really want to stay here, when he has so many bad memories of his Mother?”
“Mmmm,” Harry tipped his head to the side thoughtfully. “What if we re-decorated. I’m sure he wouldn’t like all the green or the snake decorations but….? Maybe we should ask Kreacher?”
“Littlest Master called.” Kreacher popped into the room.
“Would it be alright, if we re-decorated this room so Sirius could move in?”
Kreacher eyed them warily, “Mistresses Disappointment wants the Lord suite?”
“Well, we haven’t asked yet, but we just thought if we got it looking more…. masculine, he might.”
“Spare furniture in attic,” the wizened Elf nodded before popping out.
“Well I guess we’ll take that as a yes then,” Ron chuckled amusedly. Harry giggled. Which was so endearing that it made Percival grin earning him another look of amusement from Ron.
“Perhaps we should practice shrinking and enlarging charms next then, because there is no way I am carrying that up the stairs,” Ron pointed at the large heavy wooden four poster bed, with the yards of heavy drapes.
Pockets full of furniture they traipsed up the stairs to the attic. Pushing open the door they entered the dusty room. Harry pulled the sheet off the top of one of the piles spilling dust into the air and making them all sneeze. They rifled through the stacks and found a less ornate bed with a solid oak headboard, it had matching side tables and even a desk and chair. Everything seemed to be stored at half its original size. A quick cleaning and polishing spell and it was ready to go.
Percival had them practice the colour changing spell on the linen, with Ron insisting on turning everything a vivid red until Harry over-ruled the decision and they settled on a much more calming midnight blue. A few spells later the curtains were repaired and matched the rest of the linen, the floorboards had been polished, and a fresh rug laid over the floors. Even the ensuite had received a make over. It barely resembled the room they had started in.
As they were standing surveying their work there was a knock on the door.
“Act cool,” Ron said nervously.
Percival snorted, “We haven’t done anything wrong Ron.”
Sirius stuck his head through the door, “I just came……” he paused as he took in the room. “What in Merlin’s name have you been doing!”
Harry took a shy step forward, “We um, we got in contact with someone who was willing to take Buckbeak. He went this afternoon. Then we didn’t want to leave the room in the mess that it was in so we….cleaned up a bit. We thought you…..you might like to use it now.” He looked up at Sirius through his fringe.
Again, Percival was struck by how shy and meek Harry could be at times and he could have throttled the Dursley’s. Well not so much Petunia now that she seemed to turn over a new leaf, but definitely Vernon.
Sirius stepped fully into room and turned around. “This is amazing, you boys have done so well. Thank you! Kreacher.”
“Mistresses Disappointment wants Kreacher?”
“Kreacher could you move my things up here….” Harry cleared his throat, causing Sirius to start, “Wha….Oh yes. Please.”
“Master wishes to move into the Lord suite?” Kreacher asked, seemingly stunned.
“Yes,” Sirius nodded. He glanced around the room again, with a sigh. “This was Father’s furniture. Regulus and I used to play on it in the attic on rainy afternoons before it got too crowded up there and everything need to be shrunk. He would have laughed to see it in use again.” Sirius moved over to sit on the bed, slowly running a hand over the freshly polished wood.
“What happened to him? To Regulus?” Harry asked.
Sirius starred at something in the distance and seemed lost for a moment before he replied, “I don’t know. He disappeared towards the end of the war. There were a number of rumours that he was doing something for Riddle and either got cold feet or betrayed the man and so was killed.” Sirius looked down at his clasp hands. Harry moved to sit next to him on the bed as Ron quietly ducked out of the room, not wanting to intrude on such a private moment.
“And nobody ever found out?” Percival asked quietly.
Sirius glanced up, before returning his attention to his hands, “No. Those on the light side didn’t care, after all he was the enemy. Those in Azkaban, never said.”
“Surely if his death was a punishment, Riddle would have wanted witnesses,” Percival said.
There was knock, and they all looked up to see Kreacher standing up away from the chest of drawers. He bent forward at the waist suddenly and rammed his head against the wood.
“Kreacher stop!” Harry cried jumping up and moving towards the Elf. “What are you doing?”
“You know something!” Sirius’ voice grew in volume.
“No Sirius! Stop please!” Harry placed a hand in the middle of his Godfathers chest, preventing him from rising.
“He knows what happened, Harry!” Sirius protested.
“He might, but he can’t tell us if he was ordered not to,” Harry grabbed the Elf by the shoulders. “Don’t punish yourself Kreacher!” he pleaded.
Sirius settled himself and looked sternly at the Elf, “Kreacher were you there when my Brother died?”
“Kreacher cannot say, Master!” Kreacher pulled at his ears.
“Why you little…….”
“Sirius!” Percival interjected, “he said he cannot say. He’s probably been ordered not to.”
“Who ordered you?”
“Regulus,” the Elf croaked out.
“Is it just Sirius you can’t tell? Can you tell me?” Harry asked, trying to think of a way around the problem.
Kreacher was silent.
“Kreacher I want you to answer any question that Percival asks you,” Sirius ordered.
“Kreacher,” Percival moved to kneel in front of the Elf. “Who did Regulus order you not to tell.”
“Kreacher cannot tell the family.”
“Ok, were you there when Regulus died?” There was really no gentle way of asking the question, but you didn’t become the Director of Magical Security by avoiding asking the difficult questions.
“Yes,” Kreacher wept. Harry joined Percival on the floor and gave Elf a quick hug.
“And how did it happen?”
The story emerged, slowly at first then all in a rush, interrupted by hiccups, coughs and tears. The youngest son of Black was asked a favour by the Dark Lord and Kreacher was taken into a dank cave, made to drink an abominable potion and left to be consumed by the grabbing hands that burst from the freezing cold water. Only the love of a favoured son and orders to return had saved Kreacher. The son of Black grew despondent as he nursed the Elf back to health as if something in that task had opened his eyes to the nature of the one he was serving. Regulus began to question everything he had thought to be truth. Late one winters night the young Master called his Elf and demanded a return to the cave. Kreacher wailed and sobbed and tried to deny the boy but he had been given orders, so he went taking his Master with him.
The story became so disrupted by Kreacher’s tears that Harry insisted that tea be made, and a rest taken, causing a fresh bout of wailing at how like the young Master, Master Harry was. Eventually the sobs subsided enough for the tale to be continued. Before the pair left Kreacher was ordered that should anything go wrong he was to take the trinket that the Dark Lord had hidden, leave, and destroy it. He was not to tell anyone in the family.
Having already been taken inside Kreacher was able to pop Regulus through the defences and straight to the island at the heart of the cave, where the basin stood that held the potion of despair. He fully expected to be made to drink it once again, so that his Master could retrieve the locket that rested in the bottom. To his shame Kreacher was wrong. Master Regulus drank the potion himself then begged and pleaded as visions of nightmares appeared in his head. But Kreacher, poor Kreacher had to follow the orders he had been given. He left his Master gasping on the shores of the lake.
The Elf sat wrinkled and forlorn, on a footstool that someone had conjured during the tale. Tear tracks marring his face.
“Reggie, by the Gods Reggie!” Sirius sobbed. “Why didn’t he come to me.”
“And what would you have done?” Percival asked. The astute question sounding harsh in its bluntness.
“I….” Sirius stopped.
“You would have told Dumbledore, thinking that he would have helped. And he would probably have done nothing,” Harry said drily.
The Dog Star bowed his head. How things had changed in such a short period of time. Harry had been in the house only a matter of weeks and had opened his eyes to a great many things. He desperately wanted to close his eyes and go back to the way things were when he and James had nothing more to worry about than how James was going to ask Lily Evans out this week. Honestly, he hadn’t even felt this way during the height of the last war because he always had James and Remus by his side, and as long as they were together everything would be alright. Now though, now he had a responsibility to his heart brother’s boy and so many things were wrong with the world.
“You are…right,” he lifted his head and straightened his shoulders. “I had asked him to help Regulus years before and what did he do? Nothing. He would have done nothing again.”
Percival turned intent eyes back to Kreacher, “And what happened to the locket? Did you manage to destroy it?”
“Kreacher dids not!” he pulled at his ears, and Harry had to take his hands to make him stop. “I trieds everthing!”
“Is it still here Kreacher? What did you do with it?” Percival asked slightly horrified, who knew what the effects of living for ten years with only a Horcrux for company would be. No wonder the Elf was a little strange,
“Fat Blood traitor takes it and puts in bag of rubbish. But I finds it and takes it.”
“Where is it?” Sirius demanded.
“Sirius calm down,”
“Kreacher,” Percival spoke authoritatively over the other two. “Go and get it and bring it here, please.”
With a pop he disappeared. It was only seconds before he returned a black and silver locket dangling from his grip. The three wizards drew back as the miasma it exuded reached them.
A physically shaking Sirius swallowed the bile that was trying to push its way out of his throat, as a green faced Harry clutched at his forehead. “Percival, you help Harry,” Sirius said as he determinedly pulled himself together. “Kreacher, Father had a lead coated iron box that was lined with velvet. Leave the locket here and go and find it. If you are seen, do not tell anyone what you are doing or what it is for.”
With a nod Kreacher disappeared once more, as the locket fell onto the carpet.
“What’s the matter with him?” Sirius asked Percival quietly, watching his Godson with concerned silver eyes.
“At a guess, I would say that the locket is another horcrux and the one in Harry is reacting to it. But we’ll have to check with Addison first,” Percival replied. “We really need to find that ritual and soon.”
“I’ve looked through the first ten shelves, because that seems to be where the books are darkest, but apart from a mention of Herpo the Foul, there has been nothing on Horcruxes,” Sirius sighed.
“What about muggle methods?” Harry asked from where he was lying on the floor, his head in the Americans lap, eyes squeezed tightly shut.
“What do you mean?” Percival, ran his hand through Harrys hair as the younger boy winced again.
“I’m sure I heard Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon talking once. One of Vernon’s clients had a heart attack and a neighbour looked after him until the ambulance got there. They reckoned he had been dead for about three minutes which was lucky, because anymore and he could have had some brain damage. There are drugs, they're a bit like potions, that will stop the heart or start it,” Harry swallowed.
“What are you saying Harry?” Sirius asked in a low voice.
“What if they gave me a drug that stopped my heart. They could leave me essentially dead for three minutes and then restart it again, once we know that the horcrux is gone.”
“No!” Sirius shot to his feet and began pacing. “No, no, no, no, no. That is a bad idea Harry. Bad!”
“But Sirius just think,” Harry sat up with a struggle, pressing a hand hard against his scar.
“No Harry. What if it went wrong? What if they couldn’t get you back?” He had stopped beside the boys and dropped to his knees, hands on Harry’s shoulders. “I can not lose you too!”
“But Sirius, what about Riddle? Wouldn’t it be worse if we can’t kill him because there is a horcrux in me? What is the other option that I let him kill me?”
Silver eyes shot wide in horror, “Merlin! By the Gods that’s what he meant!”
“What who meant Sirius?” Harry leaned back against Percival’s chest.
“Snape. When I asked him about your potions I made an offhand comment about not knowing what reason Albus could possibly have for not wanting your injuries from the Dursleys treated. I could tell by his face that Snape knew. He all but promised to tell me once my occlumency was back to normal. I’d bet my wand that Albus’ knows about the horcrux and he is planning to get rid of it by allowing you to die.”
Percival was fuming. That Albus Dumbledore dared, that anyone dared, to threaten his….his…….(Your Harry, the voice in his mind sounded smug this time) Harry. He shook the feeling off and tried to examine the situation objectively. When looked at individually every event in the last fifteen years could be passed over as the decisions of someone who was looking at the bigger picture, but when added together they equalled something greater and far more concerning. Perhaps Dumbledore was not the beacon for light that he claimed he was. It was certainly worth keeping in mind.
“Kreacher found it in the Master’s study,” the wizened Elf said as he reappeared.
“Excellent, I’ll hold it open Kreacher and you place the locket in please. I don’t want you boys touching it,” Sirius justified as he saw Harry about to offer. There was instant relief the moment the locket was shut inside the box.
“Thank the Gods for that!” Harry sighed in relief, finally able to sit up on his own again.
“If he was close by, I would get Healer Addison to look at that scar again,” Percival murmured as he turned Harry’s head towards him, so he could have a closer look. Ever so gently he brushed Harry’s fringe away from his forehead. The scar was puffy again, and angrily red. “I wonder if we could use the Horcrux in the locket to leech the one out of the scar.” He ran his fingers across the line of the scar and down Harry’s cheek. Harry was barely breathing, it seemed as if the whole world had just…..stopped as he glanced up into those dark eyes.
“I…um, I’ll….I’ll just….head back to the library then. Don’t mind me,” Sirius said quietly, tucking the nondescript box into a pocket. There was protected drawer in the desk in the Parlour that even Moody couldn’t see through. He’d leave the locket there for the time being. Sirius turned and looked at the boys a last time before shutting the door gently with a smile on his face.
Harry and Percival never even noticed Sirius’ departure.