“JAMES POTTER, THE LIGHT LORD WITH A TASTE FOR THE DARK?” the headline screamed.
“Today Albus Dumbledore, the esteemed headmaster of Hogwarts, announced that he would do all in his power to prevent the Potter fortune being poured in continuing He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s war. Our intrepid journalist asked him exactly what made him think this was a risk. His reply? “As the executor of dear James’ will I have had the chance to look over the distribution of his estate. Some of the people and business named caused me some worry.” Although we pushed for more information Dumbledore would not let anymore slip.
With Sirius Black’s name so recently cleared one has to wonder if the decision was a little hasty.
When asked about the whereabouts of little Harry Potter Dumbledore merely shook his head with a look of great sadness.
Have you seen our Saviour? Let us know (10 galleons awarded for featured items).”
Sirius chucked the day old newspaper on to the rickety table, next to the secondhand armchair, angrily. He pulled himself up out of the burnt orange monstrosity and biting back a huge yawn shuffled from the room. After popping his head into the living room to check on the sleeping Harry he watched for a few moments until the urge to check the wards became too much. Quickly circling around the flat he pausing every now and again to strengthen a ward or deepen the carving of a rune. He stopped at the front door and frowning he looped a slightly stronger ward around the door. The magic flared as it mingled with the existing wards. Sirius lifted his head and cocking it slightly to the side he turned and as though some silent alarm had gone off he dashed into the living room. He dropped to his knees and reached out for Harry just as he started screaming in response to the magic.
“It’s Ok, just Uncle Siri being forgetful. Nothing bad. Just me and you…” Sirius carried on muttering comforting nothings until Harry’s heartbroken sobs turned in to shaky broken breaths, the toddler trembling. Sirius knelt there twisted into an award position, leaning on the edge of the crib, holding Harry comforting and patting until eventually the child fisted a hand into Sirius’ robe and fell asleep. He felt his head jerk upwards out of sleep and feeling the ache in his body that told him he had been kneeling there for far longer than he intended. Stretching he stood, knees creaking and popping. Looking at the large clock in the corner he sighed and carried Harry into the kitchen to start making some lunch.
– – –
Sirius sat at the kitchen table his ear resting on fisted hands as he slept. The late afternoon sun slowly creeping across the floor towards him eyes racing behind eyelids and skin twitching. The soft ping of the window wards made him twitch slightly but didn’t wake him, the thin walls and open door let Harry’s happy burble at the ping travel through the flat. A large barn owl circled the room slowly, dropping its letter directly in front of Sirius. It landed on the table and after twisting its head to look at Sirius with the far to intelligent regard of a ministry bird. It strutted forwards up his arm and on to his shoulder and bit his ear. Cursing loudly Sirius jerked upright with a flail and automatically offered the owl his forearm to stand on. The bird, which seemed utterly unperturbed by the flailing, regally stepped on to his arm and held out it’s leg so it was pointing at the letter. Sirius flipped the cream coloured letter over and sighed when he saw the purple ink. Casting a simple summoning charm Sirius held out his hand and waited for a small tin to land in it. He popped the lid off and offered the owl on of the treats from inside. The bird clacked its beak at him, accepted the treat and with a little hop took off.
Sirius transfigured the box lid into a letter opener and with a practiced twist of the wrist he sliced the letter open and tugged it from its envelope.
“I write to you, Sirius Orion Black, on behalf of the ministry of magic, the bench of peers and the Chief warlock of the Wizengamot have expressed concerns as to the safety and wellbeing of Harry Potter (Heir to the house of Potter and it’s inherent titles).
You are required to present yourself and Harry before the Wizangamot at the next open session. “
“Fuck!” Sirius tossed the letter onto the table before letting his head drop back down on top of it. Without lifting his head he summoned a patronus and without lifting his head to look at the stag he ordered it to go to Andromeda with the message,
“Had a letter, need help. See you for high tea tomorrow?”
Eventually he stood and walking to the food preservation cupboard he started to pull out ingredients for dinner, angrily flinging them on to the chipped and scratched counter top. As he stood chopping vegetables into a fine Julienne the front door clicked shut. Dropping the knife Sirius lifted his wand and began to creep towards the hall drawing sigils in the air until the wards flared green and he relaxed, heading back to the veg. After a few moments Caradoc Dearborn walked in holding both of Harry’s hands as the young boy toddled into the room. Looking up with a charming smile Caradoc said,
“You manage to sleep last night? I didn’t hear anything so I figured…” Sirius kept his gaze down, staring at the veg intensely as he muttered,
“Wards… I didn’t want to disturb everyone again. Don’t want to wear out our welcome.” Sirius dropped the knife he was using on to the unit and turned to start cooking.
Caradoc lifted Harry in to the highchair so he could watch Sirius work and announced to the room,
“Right, well I’m going to get changed and then I figure we can come up with a better way of getting you to sleep. ‘Cos your way is shit my friend.” Sirius shrugged and carried on cooking with half an eye on the rest of the room. He shook his head as Caradoc cast a minor charm and purposefully twisted his hips with a swing that the stubborn muggle-born wizard had insisted on teaching to everyone at Hogwarts, staff included. His robes swirled dramatically around him and then strode from the room robes billowing out behind him dramatically. With each tiny flap or swirl glitter sparkles of witch light flickered of the bottom of his robes, Harry fell silent as he watched the lights and Sirius turned his head a little more, a small smile gracing his lips. As he swished out of the door the witch lights swirled together to make a fountain before rushing across the room and disappearing above Harry’s head. Sirius turned in shock as Harry squealed with delight and then took up chuckling as he clapped his hands and tried to grab the sparkling dots of magic. Smelling something Sirius turned and cutting off a swear he snatched the pan off the heat and began to hex it.
“Well. Damn.” He muttered staring at the melted lump of metal on the floor.
– – –
“So,” Caradoc said as they sat eating at the battered kitchen table. “This is a pile of cr…I’m mean what could they possibly do. You’re from an Ancient and Noble family, you have a job and you are his Godfather.” Sirius barked a laugh as he stole Harry’s spoon and popped another spoonful of food in to the boy’s mouth before giving him the spoon back.
“I was disowned, in those kind of circles that’s a pretty big issue, I have a very dangerous job and I might be his Godfather but until Dumbledore stops messing about and lets the will be read I don’t actually have a legal standing. It’s assumed that I’ll be named his guardian but at the moment the only reason the let me have him is because of whatever spell Lily cast.“
“You getting anywhere on that? And you really should eat something.” Caradoc prodded.
“I ate at lunch” at Caradoc’s look he shoved a spoonful of the rather indescribable red mush into his mouth, he bit back a gag and swallowed quickly with a grimace. “No, Absolutely nowhere. What I did find though was traces of a Diligo to be specific a bound love spell. Not cast on Harry but he must have been in contact with someone who was under it fairly often.” Sirius shoved another forkful of the gloop into his mouth as Caradoc stared at him in shock. Sirius shut his eyes and tucked his chin into his chest as he forced himself to swallow again. He dropped his fork on the plate and shoved it to one side.
“One, they are on the class 1 banned spell list aren’t they? And two, could you tell who’s magic it was? You should have at least been able to get male or female from it.” He replied easily falling into the pattern they used to bounce ideas off each other during cases.
“Yup, I checked, it is definitely on the class 1 list and the caster was male. But not James. I would have known if it was. I’m sure of it” He said a little defensively “Besides 9 times out of 10 men use a potion to invoke or bind love,” he shrugs “It’s easier to hide and they are almost all undetectable.”
“Your knowledge on this subject is kind of scary…. And just because it’s statistically more likely doesn’t mean it’s true.” As Caradoc finished speaking Sirius lifted his left hand and pointed to the signet ring he always wore.
“ This is a Potter engagement ring. Like all of the Potter engagement rings it repels most mind-altering spells and most mind-altering potions. When they married James gave Lily his mother’s ring. Before you ask the rings bind to you once they recognise that the wearer has true love for the giver. They don’t come off and they can’t be taken back,” Sirius looked down at the ring sadly. “So that’s why I still… And I know all that shi…uff because like all Blacks I was meant to dabble in law for a few years before becoming a politician. My tutor forced all that information in to my head and it just refuses to leave.” He finished miserably.
“So, that means…”Caradoc trailed off, he started to reach for Sirius’ hand but pulled back at the last moment
“Most likely, there weren’t many people around in the last few weeks. Even I didn’t know where they were.” Sirius grabbed Harry’s bowl as is was shoved violently into the air and across the room by accidental magic. Picking the spoon up from where it had landed on the floor he offered another spoonful to him. Across the table Caradoc grabbed the pepper and generously dosed his food with it
– – –
“When my sister had nightmares this was the only thing that could get her back to sleep.” Caradoc said in the tired tone of a man who is sick of going around in circles with someone who is just being petulant
“I’m not a child! Besides I don’t think a Muggle cure is going to work on a wizard.” Sirius replied with a childish pout, his arms crossed,
“You’re such a racist little princess some days” Caradoc cheerily laughed as he continued to set up the radio, “The whole idea is that the noise, music, talking, whatever keeps your brain from having the time to settle into thinking about bad stuff. I mean it won’t be great, super restful sleep but at least it’ll give you some.” Sirius huffed and began setting up monitoring wards. “You do realise that you’re turning to Moody right? The flat was already warded before you moved in and while I appreciate the lack of junk mail that your new wards have blessed me with, the door ward tried to eat the guy from next door this morning. I’m fairly certain that the mugs next door are not death eaters.“
“Better to be Moody than dead.”
“Better to be most things than dead but down that path madness lies. I mean if you truly embrace the Alastor Moody school of thinking your face just won’t stay that pretty. I think you have enough image issues at the moment without literally looking like a mad, bad and dangerous off the wall Auror.” Sirius and Caradoc looked at each other for a moment before bursting out laughing. Caradoc twiddled the dial on the radio a couple more times before settling on an innocuous music and talk show.
He started to leave before turning round in the doorway to say, “Do not cook tomorrow. I’m sorry but I really can’t cope with that again. I …Just… please, no?“ Sirius laughed and let himself drop on to the bed waving Caradoc out of the room.
Hours later Sirius woke to a soft wailing and heaving himself out of bed he staggered down the hall to the small living room. Pausing in the door way he watched Caradoc, dressed in battle robes, rocking Harry as the little boy cried his sobs broken by the occasional “Mum?” as the sobs trailed off Caradoc laid Harry back in to the makeshift bed and tucked him in stroking his cheek softly until he fell back into fitful sleep. Caradoc stood gracefully, robes almost soundlessly shifting round him, and turned to walk out of the room. He started when he saw a bemused Sirius watching him, crossing the room he prodded the other man out of the doorway and wordlessly walked into the kitchen and started to make some tea.
“And I’m the paranoid one?” Sirius remarked softly, at Caradoc’s frown he added, ”Interesting sleepwear.” A teapot and cup where dumped in front of him and Caradoc pouted at him.
“Wards,” he said eventually in a somewhat embarrassed tone “if you are going to be a ponce and have lemon you’ll have to summon it for yourself. And I’m not being mother.” Caradoc muttered sloshing tea into his mug and topping it up with milk before dropping into the chair next to his partner.
Sirius tipped a tiny amount of tea in to the china cup and swilled it round for a moment before looking around then, shrugging, tipping the splash of tea into Caradoc’s cup. Filling the warmed cup with tea Sirius summoned a lemon slice from the counter and squeezed the juice in.
” You are so weird.” Caradoc remarked as he watched Sirius’ almost unconscious little ritual. The two men sat in silence for a moment their actions quietly falling into patterns worn deep by hundreds of late nights and the difficult cases that caused them.
” Not weird, you’re just a pleb.” Sirius muttered in the tone of someone who has had the same discussion a thousand times. He tiredly rested his head on Car’s shoulder, the other man shifted carefully so he could still reach his tea before gently flicking Sirius’ overly long hair out of his face.
“So the radio worked then?”
“Sort of, I had the weirdest dream about Celestina Warbeck being chased by Dementors. I almost think I preferred the nightmares.” Sirius said with a soft laugh.
The two men sat in silence drinking tea until eventually the clock chimed. Caradoc dumped his mug on the table and shrugging Sirius’ head off his shoulder stood saying
“Make me some toast will you, I need to go put on some slightly less intimidating robes and go to work.”
“Not a bloody house elf!” Sirius replied as he stood and headed to the kitchen.
– – –
“Your wards are both terrifying and amazing! I didn’t even know there were this many different types of Light magic wards.” Andromeda said pushing past her cousin and in to the flat.
“Hmm… Mostly light. Nothing outright Dark or particularly illegal.” Sirius muttered, readjusting Harry on his hip as he glanced down the corridor and checked the wards carefully. Leaning out a little further he glared at the next-door neighbour’s door.
“Particularly illegal? Should I worry about that?” Andromeda asked as she was shepherded past the living room and into the kitchen.
“Aurors kind of get a free pass on wards. Our job has a tendency to follow us home, as long as there are no sacrifices or blood magic, well except our own of course, the ministry just registers it as a necessary precaution. Tea?”
“Not if you’re making it, where do you keep the things.” Sirius frowned and pouted at her before walking into the kitchen and pulling all the gubbins for tea out.
“Oh, don’t pout. That look was pathetic when you were 6. Besides for someone so good at potions you have an uncanny ability to make anything edible taste vile. So, I got the impression you wanted me to look at a letter?”
Sirius grabbed the letter off the table and waved it at her before putting it down to try and pry Harry off him.
“Come on, Harry, in the chair with you”
“NO!” Sirius winced at the maximum volume reply and continued to try to detach the child until finally there was a flair of magic and Harry was literally stuck to Sirius’ side. Sitting in a chair carefully, Sirius let his head drop back and took several deep breaths.
” If you don’t have lemon I may end you.” Andromeda cheerily said gracefully dropping into a chair and magically guiding the tea set onto the table. “Hello little monkey,” she cooed waving at Harry who buried his head into Sirius’ shoulder and refused to look at her. “Well, at least I didn’t get thrown in to any walls this time. I was so glad when ‘Dora out grew the clinging“ she said as she began to read the letter.
“It is the little things.” Sirius said carefully manoeuvring the hot tea around the small child. “So the letter?” he asked after a few moments
“Totally legal, it’s completely horrible but it is legal. Harry is a peer of the realm the bench does have the right to question your ability to raise him fittingly. It’s a rule that is nearly never used but it’s never been revoked. I would say the bench was talked in to it.”
“Why? It’s hardly like Harry has any distant relatives who could be hoping to get him. The law restricts to 4 steps of familial association right? So we should be fine? Lily’s family are all muggles and James didn’t have any close blood relatives.“
“It does… but if you are said to be unfit and then the will names you as guardian that rule would apply to your family as well. Draco is about that age, ‘Cissi could claim that she could be a better parent and Lucius is on the bench so they couldn’t call him unfit. We could petition and get the minuets of the last bench meeting, that might help us see who was interested in interfering. I don’t see it being ‘Cissi. She can barely stand Draco never mind someone else’s child. ” Andromeda summoned some paper and began to write a letter.
“If we’re lucky it’ll just be mother trying to make my life difficult.”
“And if we are unlucky?”
“I don’t know. I would have though Malfoy would be trying to keep a low profile taking in Harry would draw the media in and that must be the last thing he wants. Albus was always interested in Harry but I always figured that was because of James. James always did focus better recently if he knew Harry would be safe. That’s why Albus suggested the Fidelis, he has no reason to still be interested.” Sirius picked a rich tea biscuit off the plate and offered it to Harry. “What if I’m not named in the will? What if they didn’t name anyone?”
“You’re his Godfather, you are magically obliged to care for him. Legally unless someone else is named the godparents get custody. But you could be challenged in court if someone thinks they would be more appropriate. I don’t really see what they think they would gain from it though, What ever Lily did is going to make it hard to argue that she didn’t want you to care for her child. To be honest you are in a strong position,” Andromeda lifted Sirius’ hand from the table and stroked a finger over the signet ring the flair of Potter magic bringing tears to Sirius’ eyes forcing him to take a deep breath as he quickly lifted his cup to cover his emotions. “Regardless of what happened James did love you, at one time, and your loyalty and devotion to him has never wavered. If you had been married and then divorced they wouldn’t even dare to challenge your claim. But an engagement is still strong position especially with the ring.“ She said softly. Sirius pulled his hand away and wrapped his arms around Harry he bit his tongue to stop himself from telling her the truth.
“They will use mother against me won’t they?”
“I don’t really think that will be an issue any more. An Ancient and Noble family can’t pass the title sideways. With Reg… Well I suspect the book of heirs would name you again. Unless your father was brave enough to have a bastard.” Andromeda chuckled at the thought “ She can throw you out of the family homes and kick you to the back of the line but she can’t actually change your bloodline.”
“Mother would have killed him a little more slowly if that was the case.” Sirius said with a humourless laugh, a look of relief on his face. ” I guess that’s one less thing to worry about.”
“Oh, she can still tell them how unfit you are and how you would teach Harry terrible habits for a peer to have.” Andromeda shrugged folding and sealing the letter she had been writing. ” I asked for all documents, transcripts and public memories that relate to Harry. I hope you remember how to research.” She smiled meanly finishing her tea. She stood and with a wave to Harry she rushed out of the flat.
– – –
“So I have to go ou…” Caradoc trailed off as he stepped into the chaos that was usually his kitchen to hear Sirius beg,
“Kill me? Please? I’ll leave a nice note making you Harry’s guardian, you’ll be a wonderful parent!” In the middle of the kitchen Harry lay face down on the floor screaming and howling, his face red and blotchy with rage. The table and counters were over flowing with papers and memory orbs. Sirius had a painful looking bruise rising on one eye and long thin scratches running down one cheek. Sirius watched carefully as the tall man clenched his jaw and took a deep breath before saying,
“Wow, I was only gone for 8 hours. What happened?” in a deceptively calm voice. Caradoc picked up the top piece of paper and then dropping it back on the pile he looked around the kitchen again. “Is all this about Harry?” Sirius nodded sadly from his position sat on the floor leaning against the counter. Taking a deep breath Caradoc lent down and scooped Harry from the floor and carried him down the hall to the bathroom. Sirius stood up and tagged along like a lost lamb. Ringing out a cold damp cloth Caradoc gently wiped Harry’s face. The cold startled the toddler out of his screaming as Sirius watched on with a lost gaze.
“Now I bet you have completely forgotten why you where screaming in the first place haven’t you? Now you’re all too hot and tired and I bet you have a headache.” Passing Harry to Sirius he ignored the long sting of NO!’s coming from Harry and Sirius’ terrified look and firmly said ” you are both going to go and walk down the road and not come back until you feel much better and I’ve had a chance to find my kitchen.” Sirius opened his mouth to argue and Caradoc talked right over him ” I don’t care.” He said firmly, “I do not care, Sirius. You’re a wizard disillusion yourselves and piss off for a bit. I’m going stare-crazy never mind you two!” he pushed his way out of the room and walked back to the kitchen muttering under his breath. Sirius quietly summoned their coats and disillusioned first Harry and then himself. Carefully and quietly he crept down the hall and out of the front door. Making his way out of the block of flats Sirius shivered, carefully cast a dozen spells to reveal transfigured or disillusioned wizards or those in an animagus form before trying to walk down the road. After jumping, pulling his wand out and carefully inspecting the area around him 6 times in as many minutes he admitted defeat and sat down in a bricked up door way. He cast a temporary stake out ward and settled in cuddling the still angry and upset Harry to his chest.
When the cold had sunk to his bones, and he had cast 4 warming charms on the much calmer Harry, Sirius crept back into the flat. The smell of mulled wine and roasting beef greeted him, peeling off their coats he hung them up and cautiously entered the kitchen.
Caradoc had his back to them, dressed in a tight tee-shirt, which looked as though it had been painted over his shoulders and arms, and a pair of jeans he was leaning over a pan. Without turning he said, ” I was just about to come and get you.”
“I… Sorry about earlier, sometimes I forget to not be an arse.” Caradoc turned and lent on the edge of the stove.
” I was kind of waiting for something like that to happen but you always have known how to pick your moments. You’ve been trying to hard to act normal. And Harry is 16 months old and probably utterly traumatised I come home every day half expecting you to have gone and the other half expecting to find Harry screaming and you… ” He cut himself off and brushing the hair back out of his eyes he eventually said “you’re stronger than that but this” he waved a hand ” is enough to test anyone. Never ask me to kill you again, even if it is a joke. It just… Hit a little close to home. Okay?” he begged a little brokenly. “Just, never, okay” Sirius nodded swallowing hard Harry clenched to his chest a little too tightly.
“So, how are you so good with kids… huh people in general I guess?” Sirius asked, desperately trying to lighten the mood, as Caradoc had passed him a glass of mulled wine and tugged Harry out of his arms for a cuddle.
“You do remember that I’m the oldest of 9 siblings right? Besides most people not raised by house elves are better with people than you.”
“I wasn’t raised by house elves!” Sirius replied a little defensively
“Fine, a long string of emotionally detached nannies and au pairs then. But still that is hardly the best way to raise a child. Although I think most people would argue that my off the books scores at empathy magic have far more to do with it than the way I was raised.” He passed Harry back and started to dish up the dinner.
” You’re dressed… nicely?” Sirius said in an uncertain voice as he tilted his head as though it would help him understand the clothing better. Caradoc laughed and accepting the change of topic replied,
“My sister informs me this is Muggle sexy bad boy these days.” Sirius raises his eyebrows at him. ” I’m going to meet my sister and her newest boyfriend at the pub, I figured I’d play the good big brother role and put a little fear into him,” he said flexing his shoulder muscles and narrowing his eyes. His voice dropping to a low rumble.
“If you do that all you’re going to do is turn him on.” Sirius laughed lifting one hand to fan himself mockingly, Caradoc frowned slightly and after a moment said,
“Remind me to never take you out to a Muggle pub. You’ll get us beaten up. Or possibly start a sexual revolution in Luton. Either or with you, you can never tell.”
“Could be both!” Sirius said in a teasing tone. He frowned thinking for a moment then asked “Beaten up?” Caradoc Dropped two plates in front of Sirius carefully before dropping into the seat opposite him and resting his chin in his hands.
“Muggles don’t… Lets just say I’m glad that I turned out to be a wizard, it made my life a lot easier… and a lot safer,” he finished almost under his breath. Sirius looked at him like he had more questions before deciding not to ask and started eating his dinner instead. “I’ll be gone for about two hours and then I’ve got the whole week off. Don’t start looking at that paperwork until I get back.” Caradoc said pushing away from the table and heading for the door.
“Are you not eating?” Sirius asked surprised, Caradoc laughed and slapped Sirius on the shoulder.
“I cooked that for you, you look like you could blow away in the next stiff breeze and if you try to live off your cooking you could waste away entirely. I’m eating at the pub!” Sirius listened to Caradoc laugh all the way to the front door before muttering
“There is nothing wrong with my cooking. I’m just out of practice.” On his lap Harry burbled and grabbed a carrot from Sirius’ plate.
– – –
“Here!” Sirius leaps to his feet holding a piece of paper “Right here. The Chief Warlock asks for opinions on ‘the Potter’ situation, amazingly my mother doesn’t take it as an opportunity to slander my good name. In fact I think she may have accidentally helped my situation. Lucius makes some grumbly noises about me and how ‘Cissi would adore to take care of the ‘dear little thing’. Thing! No one seems particularly bothered and then suddenly the Chief Warlock is talking about how dangerous my job is, the fact I was accused of… He talks about me being disowned. He… He said James left me because he thought I was….” Sirius looked at Caradoc in shock and quietly muttered, “I’m not succumbing to the madness and James never thought that. Why would Dumbledore lie?“ Sirius passed the paper to Caradoc and started rooting through the collection of memory orbs. Finding the correct one he tapped it with his wand and threw the silver substance at the wall where it stuck stretched and began to play. When it ended the two men sat and look at each other for a while.
“Well, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t like that when I joined the order.” Caradoc muttered. Sirius shook his head a dead look settling over his face.
“He was always obsessive but I thought I could trust him to protect at least the people in the order. People he knows are light. He gave Snape of all people a second chance but someone who has proven over and over that they are working on the same side doesn’t deserve anything? What? He knows I’m on the side of the light so he can fuck me over and know that I’m going to come back and let him do it again! He can make it sound like I’m insane! Like James never trusted me!” Sirius flung the orb across the room smashing it into the wall “ I don’t know what the hell he wants with Harry but he isn’t getting it. I won’t let him make Harry a pawn in his game.” Caradoc stood and crossed to his friend. Wrapping one arm around him he drew him backwards into his chest and hugged him tight muttering,
“I don’t think you’re going insane, you are nothing like Bellatrix and I know James never even began to think that. Harry isn’t going anywhere. Even if that means we have to leave the country and go on the run for the rest of our lives.” Sirius lifted his hands so he could wrap his hands around the arms crossed over his chest.
“We? Our? Like hell am I letting you fuck your life up over this? Harry’s my responsibility you don’t need to do anymore than you have.”
“ Like hell Siri, I let you wander off on your own and the pair of you will starve. You’ve been my best friend for years, quite literally saved my life a few times. You have to leave. I’m going with you.” Caradoc let Sirius go after pressing a kiss to the side of his head. Reaching down he grabbed the document he had been reading before Sirius interrupted. ”I found this. It’s a license renewal for casting class 1 banned binding spells. At first it didn’t make any sense but when I read the letter Andromeda sent I noticed she had just put Lord/Heir Potter and the date she wanted from rather than a name.” Sirius snatched the paper from his hand and inspected it carefully.
“Damn it, why do license renewals not have the name of the licensee on them?” Sirius growled “At least we know what to request now.”
“Look at who permitted the license.” Caradoc muttered pointing to the scrawling signature of Albus Dumbledore. Around them the lights flickered and blew, the wards shimmered, rippling and from the living room a terrified scream started up as Sirius blasted a hole straight through the kitchen wall to outside with a wandless perfringo.
Sirius stood in the backs of the block of flats slowly summoning and then floating the bricks of the kitchen wall back into place. Through the hole he could see Caradoc casting sticking charms on them as they arrived. Eventually he lost his temper with the careful and slow process. He cast a powerful weather shielding charm, then neatly cut his hand and cast a permanent sticking hex at the wall before blasting each remaining brick to pieces with a great deal of glee. Caradoc leant on the new charmed piece of wall and frowned at him. A loud pop made Sirius look up and a second later his ward pinged letting him know that a friendly magical signature had crossed it. Letting his wand drop he stepped forward to greet Moody. His boss just shook his head with a grin on his face as he growled,
“Out of prison for less than two weeks and already casting blood magic. I’m not sure whether I should be impressed with your stupidity or if I should just wallop your arse.” Reaching Sirius he slapped him on the back of the head “fortunately for you I was on my way over here.” Moody cast a magically very loud spell, completely erasing Sirius’ signature. “Upstairs. Now.”
Sirius and Moody sat on opposite sides of the kitchen table a bottle of Whiskey between them, after looking between the two of them when they reached the kitchen Caradoc had dropped the bottle between them and slunk off to his room with a book.
“Albus has disbanded the Order, he works at the school and leads the Wizangamot. He has made no comment on the Fidelis or who was the secret keeper. He has made no attempt to help us find Pettigrew, in fact he has refused to either confirm or deny that he was the secret keeper. He’s hiding something and that is not enough for me to get you permission to look in to him. The head of the Wizengamot is untouchable.” Moody grumbled knocking back his whiskey.
“I don’t need permission to look, I just need you to keep people from looking at me.” Sirius said pouring himself another glass and offering the bottle to Moody.
“You know, I think that even the sanest of men would lose it a little with all that has happened. I hardly have a reputation for picking the sanest of Specialists for my little team and the Blacks have never been known as vaguely close to sane. Looking to closely at your more obvious unhinged-ness could be discouraged.”
“Gee, thanks!” Sirius knocked back his drink and shoved the two pieces of paper across the table to Moody. “Can you think of a way to find out who the license was given to?”
“No. Renewals are public domain the original license is a controlled document. You could ask Albus but he was up to something. I always assumed that he just didn’t approve of you but obviously not.” The two men sat in silence pouring and drinking several more times
“The chief warlock has to sign Class 1 licenses but what happens if the chief warlock is the one who wanted the license? Who would check and sign that?” Sirius asked suddenly his tone more thoughtful than questioning, he pushed away from the table and crossed to the bookshelf scanning the titles. Picking out two books he dropped one in front of Moody and began to scan the other. “Damn! Did no one even consider that? There are sub clauses covering magical creatures requesting a license and clauses listing when it would be appropriate for aurors to claim exceptional circumstances but nothing regulating the Chief Warlock himself. Just give someone the right to do whatever he or she wants with no monitoring! Fabulous.” Nodding in agreement Moody closed his book and asked,
“But why? What would Albus gain from manipulating James’ love life? To be honest I always figured that you and James was something to be encouraged because James could control you, manipulate you. Ah, don’t look at me like that you know what I mean, you’re hardly the most politically minded soul and James was. James was raised in a light family and you in a dark, sometimes your behaviour is… telling. James tended to temper that, he corrected the way you acted and you didn’t even seem to notice.” Sirius frowned at Moody for a moment. “To someone like Albus the light, oldest, son of a dark family would be a powerful pawn.”
“So what did he gain from separating us?”
“Harry.” Caradoc said suddenly from behind Sirius, at the same time as Moody said.
“James out of the Aurors” Sirius shook his head at Moody’s suggestion quickly saying,
“I don’t think that was planned, Lily told James that she wouldn’t marry him unless he left. Said she couldn’t cope with watching him leave everyday knowing that he might not come home. She’d never mentioned it before but I don’t think she was being influenced. Lily always was kind of like that.” Moody started to ask why but Sirius just held up his hand and pointed to the signet ring.
“So not magically influenced but there are other ways” he said instead, Caradoc laughed taking a seat at the table,
“I have never known Albus Dumbledore to do something the muggle way if there is a magical alternative, I doubt it would even occur to him. It had to be about Harry, or a child anyway, if it was all about James why would he still be interfering?” the three men sat deep in though for sometime, occasionally one of them would suggest a theory and the others would reject it.
“Albus hired a seer to teach divination at the school nearly three years ago. Divination hasn’t been offered in years.” Moody eventually said
“I can’t think of a European school that offers divination as an actual subject. Unless you have the talent for it or a family history of sensitivity to the art it’s entirely useless.” Sirius said frowning.
“Didn’t you take divination at the Auror academy?” Caradoc asked looking at Sirius a little oddly.
“He had to,” Moody said.
“There is a reason my family have always been a little… odd, even for pure-bloods. When untrained those with a talent for divination can quickly pollute their family magic, insanity isn’t all that uncommon. A whole family of untrained low-level diviners is certainly going to be a little unhinged. So they made it a condition of letting me into the Aurors.” Sirius said with a shrug. “So why hire one now? He needed a divination teacher when he had a gaggle of Blacks at the school and didn’t have one. It just seems a little odd to hire one now.”
“I have a contact in the department of mysteries… I could ask some questions.” Caradoc offered.
– – –
Long after Moody had left Sirius and Caradoc remained sat at the table drinking.
“Okay, so I have some probably really stupid questions.” Caradoc eventually said.
“I have one first. Are you as worried as I am that Harry hasn’t cried yet tonight?”
“A little, I checked on him when I showed Moody out.” Caradoc answered with a shrug “So stupid question one,” he held up one unsteady finger “If that ring you’ve got is a Potter ring, and it stops you from being influenced. Why did James not wear one?”
“Umm, because a Peer usually has a huge well of family magic to protect them even if their own core isn’t all that powerful. The amount of power needed to manipulate someone like James would be immense. And that is usually fairly obvious. Flashy even.” Sirius replied slowly.
“So that just sounds like a ridiculous assumption to base your own and your family’s safety on but let’s go with that. Stupid question two, Why are you not crazy then?” Sirius stares at him for a moment before huffily replying,
“ I think that is rude not stupid. One, I’m trained and I’m not particularly talented in that respect just…sensitive to when events could affect the future in a big way. And secondly mixing your magic with that of another family tends to water down the crazy. That’s why ‘Cissi isn’t crazy… It’s also why Bella is a total crackpot.”
“So you and James…”
“Went to sleep one night during the summer before 6th year and work up the next morning bonded.” Sirius smiled softly. “That’s when he gave me the ring. My mother would never give permission for us to marry and as the head of my family she… after she disowned me it was never the right time, Auror training, the war… then James left. I thought the bond would break, they usually do. I should have known something was wrong. When he married Lily and the bond didn’t even flicker…a bond isn’t the same as a marriage.” Sirius tried to explain, struggling to find a way to lay out a concept that he had been raised with,”A bond is instinct. Magic grabbing love and holding it as tight as possible, it’s more powerful than a marriage in some ways. But it is not…legally. But then it is for some thing… I. I’m too drunk for this. It needs diagrams.” Sirius dropped his head to the table and just sat there staring at the dints and chips in the bare wood.
“If you have Potter magic wouldn’t that automatically make you the best person to raise Harry?” Caradoc asked after a few minutes, he let his long legs stretch until his feet knocked against Sirius’.
“No,” Sirius said to the table “I’m not using that, despite everything Lily was my friend. She doesn’t deserve to have the image of her marriage pulled apart.”
“Sirius, She’s dead, what difference will it make?”
“When Harry goes to school every pure-blood there would know that he was the product of an un-bonded marriage, in some ways that’s worse than being a bastard! And Lily’s work, her charms, her book. They were only ever taken seriously because she was married to James. If I ruin that image I would be responsible for her work being ignored.” After a few long moments Sirius feels Caradoc squeeze his shoulder as he walked away. The door to the living room opened and then shut.
Eventually Sirius followed him and found him sat on the worn leather sofa watching Harry sleep.
“You know I used to watch my sisters sleep. I’d come home for the summer and mum would be working. Dad was overseas more than he was home. So it would just be me babysitting, I’d sit and watch them. Part of me would be hoping that they had magic because then they would have some chance to see how amazing the world is, they’d have a chance to do a mastery or go to university. We couldn’t afford that in the muggle world. But higher education is practically a right in the wizarding world. It’s included in most jobs. Do you realise how… Amazing that is.
The rest of me dreaded that day one of them would get a letter. It’s so hard being a muggle-born wizard, I can’t even imagine what it’s like for witches. You can have any job a wizard has, the pay will be the same, you get the same employment rights but in other ways the wizarding world is entirely backwards. You will always have your work doubted, if you get married your husband literally owns you, if you marry another woman then the more powerful of you is given the legal position of a man. Husbands are regularly killed by their wives because it is the only way for a witch to truly be free is to be a widow!” Caradoc stops his jaw clenched tight and his fists balled, “But you know what? If Lily was one of my sisters I would give you permission to ruin her good name, the image of her marriage because Harry is more important than all that. You will have years to change how people see Harry but you’ll only get one chance to keep custody.” He turned to face Sirius, drawing one leg up on to the sofa “ You have to decide if avoiding a prejudice is more important than keeping your child. Because you can’t tell me that you think Harry is anything less than that. For all your acting like a pretentious snob you stopped being one years ago, you don’t judge people on their blood status or their parents. You are a good man and whatever you decide I’ll stand with you whether we fight or let go.” Sirius stared at him for a moment running a hand over his mouth and down his chin. Eventually Caradoc looked away and chewing his bottom lip went back to watching Harry.
Sirius stared at the side of his head until eventually he whispered, voice cracking. “How long?” Caradoc glanced at him and laughed sadly, not even pretending to not know what the question was.
“Since the day you hexed Rookwood for cornering me in the bogs and trying to make me…Live down to my blood status on my knees” he shook his head, “you were a year above me, on the quidditch team, champion of the duelling club and completely head over heels for someone else. It started off as hero worship but I was fifteen so…” he took a deep breath, glanced at Sirius’ face, his eyes wide and his mouth a little open. Caradoc bolted from the room.
Sirius looked at Harry and letting himself slump back into the corner of the sofa he breathed, “Damn” shutting his eyes.