Are you alright, mate? I haven't heard from you in weeks. I'm starting to get a little worried. I guess your mum didn't take it will when you asked to stay with me for the summer. Mum and dad said they would come and get you if they needed to...try to get back to me, eh?
Is everything alright? James is sort of freaking out that you haven't answered him. I think he might actually show up on your doorstep of you don't write to him soon. To tell the truth, I may even beat him to it. I hope you're alright. I hope these letters don't get you in trouble or anything...
Hope to hear from you.
Think your parents can bring you to Diagon Ally next Saturday?
Yeah mate. Definitely.
I've got a response from him. He asked me to meet him at Diagon Ally on Saturday but that's all he said. But hey, at least we know he's alive, right? I'll keep in touch. Don't stress yourself out so close to the moon. You've got enough on your plate without worrying about Sirius.
Sirius always hated going into Borgin and Burkes with his father.
The shop gave him the creeps and Mr Borgin's beady black eyes made his skin crawl. He felt like the man could see straight into his mind or something. He and Regulus always stood unusually close to each other and tried not to move around much when their parents dragged them into the store for whatever unknown reason they had to be there.
"Fuck," Regulus breathed as he looked into one of the glass cases towards the front of the floor. "Sirius, look at this."
Sirius grimaced. "I'd rather not. Stay away from there, you never know what's cursed in this place, Reg."
The younger brother rolled his eyes. "It's behind glass, Sirius. Honestly, I thought Gryffindors were meant to be brave."
"Yeah. Brave, not gullible." Sirius muttered, letting his eyes wander. He hadn't been there since he was a little kid, but the place was just as spine tingling as it had been back then. He was about to excuse himself to wait outside, regardless of the lecture his parents would undoubtedly give him later about being rude, when a sign suddenly caught his eye that read 'Apothecary'. He glanced over at the backs of his parents who were talking in hushed tones to Mr. Borgin and casually strolled over to the small section of the store that held rare and potentially dangerous potions ingredients. His eyes went wide.
A tight hand on his shoulder broke him from his excitement.
"Come along, Sirius." Said his mother. She was giving him a suspicious look, as if she knew he was plotting to assist a half blood werewolf with the products he had suddenly become so interested in, and lead him out of the store.
Once they were out in the narrow street of Knockturn Ally, Sirius cleared his throat.
"Er, Mother? I actually need some things from Diagon Ally for my homework...since we're here." He held his breath, silently begging whatever deity may be that his excuse was believable enough.
Regulus frowned and eyed him questioningly as his parents took a moment of consideration.
"Alright, Sirius." Orion conceded, though slightly skeptical and Sirius had focused all of his energy on holding back the sigh of relief that desperately wanted to escape him.
As they crossed to Diagon Ally and the streets opened up, Sirius walked a little faster and scanned the crowd.
Where are you, Potter...
What is it you need, Sirius?" Asked Walburga impatiently as her son seemed to jet past every shop in the ally.
"Er...the lens on my telescope's cracked. I just need to-"
This time he couldn't control it and he felt his entire body slump for a second, the stress alleviating from him, as his best friend came bounding toward him, enveloping him in a bear hug so tight he heard his joints crack.
"Alright, mate?" James muttered quietly before letting him go, eyes scanning him briefly to check for any signs of something being terribly wrong.
"Yeah, fine." He could see James' parents heading towards them and he knew his own were watching the whole scene with absolute disapproval and disdain.
"Hello Sirius, dear." Mrs. Potter smiled warmly at him. Her brightly colored robes were such a contrast to the dreary practical ones his own family wore. He had met James' parents a few times at Kings Cross and when they had come to a few of their son's Quidditch games. They were always very kind and welcoming to him, never once giving him the initially weary once over that most other wizards gave him when they heard the name Black. "Orion, Walburga," she said, meeting the stare of the other woman. "How nice to see you. We were so disappointed when we didn't get a response from Sirius about spending the holiday with us." There was something in her tone that Sirius couldn't quite place, but it was fiercely challenging. He risked a look over his shoulder at his parents, both of whom seemed offended at the mere sight of the Potters, even though they were one of the most highly respected pureblood families in Great Britain. Sirius felt an abrupt rush of embarrassment.
"Euphemia. Fleamont." Said Walburga curtly. "Funny, I don't recall receiving the invitation."
Sirius wished he was old enough to apparate so he could disappear from the very spot. He averted his eyes from James'.
"Oh," James' mother kept a bubbly air of polite conversation, though Sirius could tell she was doing it to purposely irritate Walburga. "Well, it must have been lost then. You know how flighty Owl Post can be."
"Yes." Said Walburga, barely moving her lips. "Flighty."
Sirius was frozen in absolute terror, but his eyes locked on Regulus' for just a second before the younger boy intentionally dropped his gaze.
"So then," Mr. Potter said briskly, placing a hand on both James and Sirius' shoulder. "Since we happened to bump into you, what do you say? Think we could steal Sirius away for a few weeks?"
Bravely, Sirius risked a glance at his parents, both of whom stood rigid as statues with near expressionless face. At long last, Orion gave a short nod. "Yes. Of course." He said at last, though when his piercing grey eyes landed on his son, Sirius felt as though his insides had turned to ice.
"Excellent." Euphemia chirped with a flash of an overly cheerful smile. "We'll just send for his things then."
"Right then," Fleamont Potter's hand on Sirius' shoulder squeezed gently. "Sirius, say goodbye to your parents and we'll be going."
Sirius bit back a groan of absolute dread and stepped forward. He kissed his mother's cheek, gave his father a brief nod and muttered a thank you to both of them. He turned to Regulus.
"See you at school." Regulus muttered, eyes firmly planted on the ground, and he and their parents left.
Sirius felt his heart lurch in his chest as the weight of Regulus' words sank in. Then James' arm was over his shoulder.
"Hey," He urged. "You okay?"
Sirius nodded and looked back to The Potters.
"I'm sorry." He said quietly. His voice sounded small and foreign to him. "I did write them and ask. They knew about it, they just-"
Mrs. Potter shook her head. "No need to explain, love. Now, why don't you boys run and get some ice cream. You can meet us by The Leaky Cauldron in an hour, alright?"
James took Sirius by the arm and lead him away. Neither of them said anything as the walked through the crowd, but once they were far enough away from James' parents, Sirius stopped and pulled his friend aside.
"I'm sorry I didn't write. They've been watching my every bloody move." He ran a hand through his shoulder length hair and pulled slightly. "I don't know what the hell they thought I'd be up to but the idea of me spending the hols with your family just drove them to think I was going to start a revolt against them or something. I don't-"
James grabbed him by the shoulders. "Mate, it's fine. I figured it was something like that, you just had me worried. You are alright, aren't you? They didn't-"
"No!" Sirius insisted, almost too quickly. He sighed. "No. Just some mild house arrest type of treatment. May as well have shipped me off to Azkaban, though honestly I think I'd have had a better chance of escaping there on my own."
James smirked, looking relieved that Sirius had found his sense of humor again.
"Anyway when they started talking about needing to go to Knockturn, I figured that was my best chance to meet up with you." Sirius explained.
James' smirk faded and he quirked an eyebrow. "What would they need in Knockturn?"
Sirius shrugged dismissively. "Bugger if I know. They're always in and out of Borgin-" His eyes went wide as he suddenly remembered. "Borgin and Burkes! James! I've found the ingredients we need!"
James looked confused and his head fell slightly to the side. "Wha-"
"What we need for the potion part of becoming Animagi, you prat!" Sirius' excitement had completely replaced the awful feelings of anxiety that had been plaguing him since he first returned home for the summer. "Remember, it was a bunch of that stupid rare stuff we couldn't find in Slughorn's stores? I bloody found it at Borgin and Burke's!"
"Great," James forced out, giving him a strained look.
Sirius slumped. "Look, I don't want to go back in there either. But I don't know when or where we'll find-"
"Whoa," James put his hands up defensively. "I never disagreed. Obviously we have no choice, we need those ingredients. But fuck if I'm going to go skipping down Knockturn ally in a fit of girlish joy over it."
Sirius threw on a pout. "You won't skip with me, Jamie? I'm wounded, really."
James snickered and smacked him lightly in the head. "Git. Let's get this over with. Remus better appreciate what we're going through for him."
"Once he's done lecturing us on how irresponsible and insane we all are, I'm sure he'll be positively smitten. Let's go."
"Blimey this place is spooky," James all but whispered as they entered the shop.
"I know," Sirius said, once again suppressing the involuntary shudder that seemed to come over him every time he came in. They walked like they were glued together at the arm, carefully avoiding the ghastly objects that seemed to radiate pure darkness. It reminded Sirius of when he and Regulus were kids and both afraid, instead of this new Regulus that seemed more intrigued. He lead James to the Apothecary.
"What was it we needed?" He asked quietly, gazing at the different jars and vials.
"Er," James thought for a moment, also looking over everything in front of them. He pointed. "There. Fermented Acromantula Eyes."
Sirius grabbed an empty vial and measured the correct amount. Both boys made a disgusted face at the long stream of slime that didn't seem to want to break off.
"That's gross." James shuddered. "Bleh."
"We need to ingest this shite, mate." Sirius grimaced.
"...Ugh, Remus is doing my Ancient Runes homework for a bloody year after this."
"Same." Sirius agreed solemnly. "What's next?"
"Powdered dragon scales."
A dark shadow loomed over them and an oily voice interrupted.
"Can I help you, gentlemen?"
They both slowly turned to face Mr. Borgin, who's face went from a suspicious scowl to a dark grin as his beady eyes landed on Sirius.
"Ah, young Master Black." The old man drawled. "How very unexpected to see you back..."
It took a second for Sirius to compose himself, but he swallowed and straightened his posture to that more suitable of someone being called 'young master'.
"Yes," He cleared his throat. "I...I needed some ingredients." He explained lamely.
The man's grin widened. "I see. And what is it you're brewing, Master Black?"
Sirius' face fell, but he kept his stance. "I hardly think that's anyone's business but my own, Mr. Borgin."
Borgin actually seemed impressed for a moment as he considered the young men in front of him. "Of course, Sir." His eyes went to James, who did his best not to shrink down under the haunting gaze. "Right then, gentlemen. If you have any questions, just ask." The old man left them and they both let out a long breath, sharing a relived look between them before gathering the rest of what they needed. They paid for their stash with as little conversation with Borgin as possible and hightailed it out of the shop.