“Sirius Black, the bench of Peers has called doubt upon your ability to raise a peer of the realm to the standard our fine isle deserves. Having reviewed your social and family alignment, your state of employment and your education, in every respect. The Wizangamot will now vote on whether you shall be allowed to continue as the guardian of Heir Potter.
Is there anything you wish to say before the vote is cast?” Dumbledore looked down at Sirius through his silver spectacles, fighting the tiredness that haunted him Sirius nodded firmly before replying.
“Yes, regardless of the outcome of your vote I refuse to acknowledge the decision of this gathering until such a time as the will of James and Lily Potter is read. This gathering does not have the power to overturn the guardianship decisions of the deceased head of a family. The law clearly states that the Wizengamot may only interfere when guardianship is conferred by the will of a lower member of the family, by right of godparent, or by indirect relation. “ Sirius watched Dumbledore’s face closely as the old man stared at him the twinkle gone from his eyes and replaced with a hard, cold look. In a tone entirely contrary to his look he said,
“The executor of the will has suspended the reading until such a point that there is no risk of funding the war efforts of dark families.” Murmurs started among the gathered witches and wizards.
“The war is over! You have admitted that yourself, why else would you have disbanded the Order of the Phoenix?” Sirius snapped taking three strides forwards until he was nearly pressed against the plinth Dumbledore stood on. The hours of watching his life and his every decision being dissected finally becoming too much. As he opened his mouth to begin to curse the meddling old man out an ancient wizard with a shock of red hair stood from the Peers bench. The wizard thumped his walking stick against the bench, causing the wizards on either side to flinch,
“Albus,” he started in the tone one might use to tell off a wayward puppy “You will stop your ridiculous manipulations and release the Potter will for reading even if I have to march you down to Gringotts and repeatedly hit you with a stinging curse to make it happen! Now let us get this nonsense over and done with, some of us do not have the bladders of a 100 year old!” with that he dropped back on to the bench with a firm nod. Raising his eyebrows Sirius backed away from the plinth carefully fully aware that the Weasley patriarch had a rather short temper and was well-known for his vicious and swift hexing.
“Very well.” Dumbledore said in a subdued tone “Let us vote! Red for a change of guardians, green for Sirius Black.” A mixture of red and green witch lights flew to the roof and began to sort themselves in to rows of 12, the sides matched for a moment as the room waited for the last three to cast their votes. One red, one green, Sirius looked at the peers bench and realised his mother had yet to vote. With a smirk she raised her wand a flicked a red light into the air. The chamber willed with red light. She looked down at her son and smile at him sweetly before beginning to laugh.
“Very well” Dumbledore said with an edge of glee to his voice over the laughter. “Shall we go to the will reading?” Sirius nodded numbly without looking away from the now hysterical Black matriarch as she began to cough and splutter.
“Well, you did do rather well on the madness front for a while there mother.” He said as he turned to leave the court shaking his head. Behind him Lucius could be heard shushing the mad woman in a practiced manner.
Outside Sirius stood with his head resting against the wall tiredly, he let his eyes shut for a moment as a yawn shuddered through him. He thought back over it all and found himself infinitely glad that he had begged Caradoc into staying at the flat with Harry. “Not good, this is so not good.” He muttered to himself. Pushing off the wall and brushing his robes flat Sirius made his way to the lifts and prepared himself to push through the pack of journalists bound to be waiting to hound him. When he arrived at the top he was amazed to find the foyer empty except for two Aurors from Special Projects on the doors and another leaning next to the lift lazily bobbing her foot as she waited,
“Figured you could do without the bother today!” she said with a smile as they quickly made their way to the apparition point. “So where you off to?”
“Gringotts” he sighed dread building in his stomach as he tried to figure out why Dumbledore had given in so easily. What did the old bugger know?
“Hmm…” the Auror poked through her pockets until she eventually handed him a scruffy, dirty money bag. Sirius took it off her with two fingers and a grimace as she said. “Permanent portkey, drops you right in the waiting room for the private booths, code word is Spinkyaxe.”
“I’ll make sure you get it back.” He assured her, wrapping one hand around her upper arm in thanks before squeezing and letting go.
“Not a problem. Just drop it on the floor and it’ll pop right back to me. First charm I put on it when they gave it to me, I’m forever losing things like that.” Shaking her head she wondered off to escort the members of the Wizengamot who were arriving. Casting a grin at the Aurors on the doors he twisted the bag and said the word.
– – –
Sirius settled in front of the large leather topped desk tapping his fingers on his thigh as he waited for the account manager to come back. On the other side of the room Dumbledore sat regally in a deep, plush armchair. They sat in silence for a long time until eventually Albus began to speak in his most charming, wise old man voice,
“My dear boy, I do hope that you know that this wasn’t about you at all. You see…” Sirius cut him off, carefully channeling all of the slimy rich boy attitude he could muster into his voice and body language as he drawled.
“So when where you planning to step in and clear my name? After you had positioned Harry right where you wanted him? Or was I just not that important of a player in your game? Were you just going to keep me out of your way forever? After all you had already torn my heart to pieces, why not finish by destroying my sanity?” he locked a cold stare on the man and reinforced his occulmency wards.
“Sirius, you meddle with magic you do not understand. Lily created a powerful blood ward, as she had not locked it to anyone it will settle itself on her closest blood relative. Harry will be safest with Lily’s sister, you must see that.” The old man said with true conviction.
“Safest with Petunia?” Sirius exploded out of his chair all pretence gone. “Petunia hates everything to do with magic. She despised her sister, refused to go to her wedding and didn’t even tell Lily that she was getting married. Petunia Evan was, is, a bully and worse than that she encouraged the bullied of others. Oh don’t look at me like that old man! Do you want an example? I may never have liked him but Severus never, ever, could have deserved having Petunia telling his father every little thing that he did. She knew he was beating him and she made sure that each and every one of those beatings was far worse than it would have been if she had said nothing. She is one of the cruelest, most vindictive and malicious women I have ever meant and I cannot imagine that she married a man so different from herself “ by time he finished Sirius stood inches from Dumbledore, his wand in his hand and a hex on the tip of his tongue.
A strong and impenetrable shield wrapped around him and he was neatly deposited in his seat the shield collapsed sweeping over him, neatening his robes and smoothing his hair. The account manager sat on the other side of his desk with one pointy, snarky little eyebrow raised. Sirius pulled a face at him
“You are fortunate that I have known you since you were an irritating and ugly little brattling, Heir Black” the battle-scarred goblin remarked lightly. Sirius cheered silently at the subtle confirmation of his rank within his house. “Now to begin the reading of the will you each need to place one drop of blood on to the scroll. If one of you is not welcome at the reading the drop will flair and you must leave before the scroll will open.” The goblin pricks his finger and pressed a drop of blood to the scroll before proffering it to first Dumbledore and then Sirius. The scroll unraveled revealing its self to be a short document. The account manager began to read.
“This will was last updated on the 10 June 1979 in the presence of Lily Potter nee Evans and Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and account manager lower 1st class Grindstone of the Heftingaxe line. The will is being read in the presence of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Sirius Orion Black reus Potter and account manager upper 1st class Grindstone of the Heftingaxe line.
In the words of Lord James Charlus Potter:
To my lovely Lily, I leave all my worldly possessions with the exception of my title and the ancestral manor.
To my oldest of friends, Sirius Black, I leave my greatest admiration, my greatest respects and finally my title and Potter manor.
In the event that both my wife and I die I leave all my worldly possessions to Sirius Black.
This is the final will and testament of James Charlus Potter, so mote it be.” Sirius quickly leapt in before Dumbledore could speak “does worldly possessions include children?”
“Under current wizarding law people may not be considered possessions belonging to an individual, only to a house. A law I believe was put into place in order to stop wives being passed on down the family line.” The goblin replied with a disgusted look.
“Would Gringotts be willing to oversee and document the moving of one Harry James Potter from the care of his, unfit, guardian Sirius Orion Black to the current head of the Wizengamot so that a more suitable guardian can be appointed?” Dumbledore asked leaning forwards in his seat.
“I am afraid I will have to decline, Mr. Dumbledore. The Goblin nation believes that in circumstances where no guardian is named the godparents are the elected guardian. What sort of parent would change their mind about a Godparent and then not mention it in their will?” the goblin smiled in a rather nasty way before waving them both out of the room and looking down at the paperwork on his desk, ignoring them.
“Never mind” Dumbledore remarked “Bring Harry to the school tomorrow. I’ll find a witness.” Sirius stood from his chair and quickly snarled.
“With the whole of the Potter estate behind me? I could bankrupt the whole of the ministry before I had to stop fighting to keep him. As the muggles would say ‘I’ll see you in court’” Sirius stepped up to the goblin at the desk and quietly asked for a private meeting. Seconds later Dumbledore found himself being whisked out of the door by magic and Sirius grinned as the room began to rearrange itself into a more cozy layout. The goblin he had know for his entire life bared teeth at him in a friendly smirk and offered the young wizard a drink.
– – –
Sirius crept through the door of the flat shutting it almost silently behind him. Dressed in his ’muggle badass’ clothes Caradoc was leant in the doorway of the kitchen. Through the doorway Sirius could hear Harry squealing and chattering away, every now and again a young woman’s voice would say something back. Caradoc pull the door shut and motioned for Sirius to follow him. Caradoc tugged Sirius into his bedroom,
“My oldest sister, she’s a paediatric nurse. I figured it might do Harry some good to be around women and for someone who knows something about children to have a look at him.“ Caradoc explained as Sirius glared at him.
“No problem with the…” Sirius etches a strange shape into the air. “And does she know about magic?”
“Nope and no, doesn’t seem to see muggles as a threat.” Caradoc replied with a shrug. Sirius shrugged and said,
I’ll just… go and get changed then.” He stood there for a moment before saying “I only have robes?” in a slightly distressed tone. Caradoc laughed at him, leant in to the wardrobe and then threw an outfit at him before shooing Sirius from the room.
By time Sirius made his way in to the kitchen Caradoc had Harry and his sister seated at the table and was busy cursing something called a ‘fridge’ for letting the milk go off. Looking at the collection of tea things scattered around the kitchen Sirius turns to the pretty muggle and asks “Lemon?”
“Well I‘ve never tried it before but anything sounds better than cottage cheese in me tea. “ she replied with a smile. “Bonny lad you’ve got here, missing his milk a little I’d say but that’s pretty normal given… cow’s milk just isn’t the same really. “ Sirius nodded along with her blankly as Caradoc slammed the tea service down on the table muttering,
“No! Don’t bother yourself mister ponce. I have this amazing ability to fetch milk and make sandwiches at the same time.” Sirius looked at him with wide eyes and in a confused voice said, “Lemon? No… I’ll go to that shop on the corner shall I?” Caradoc looked between the lemon Sirius was holding up and his sister with surprise and shrugging started to gently mock her for ‘ having thoughts above her position, taking lemon and all’ while he collect a glass of water from the tap for himself. Cutting the lemon Sirius offered the other man a slice. Caradoc took it from him with a laugh and dropping it into his glass. “Are all you rich people worried about scurvy or something?” His sister leant over and punched him in the arm sharply.
– – –
“ There are easier routes, Siri, ones that will end this quickly.” Andromeda said looking up from the pile of papers in front of her. Sirius shrugged easily,
“I don’t care about quick, I want the world to know exactly how he manipulated us all around him like pieces on a chess board. Besides if he is doing it in this war he must have done it in the last one.” Sirius finished reading the page he was on and made a note on the pad next to him. He dropped the quill onto the table and stood, stretching. He made his way around the table to the magical playpen and crouched to chat with Harry for a moment. Sighing he turned to look at his cousin and quietly said,
“The lengths he has gone to, to get hold of Harry. You have to wonder what he would have done to stop his, once, best friend from committing genocide. What are three children compared to a whole population? What sort of monster the man had become I could never get how Grindelwald could have suddenly decided that the only way out was to kill his own flesh. Even my mother could see that.” Andromeda looked at him sadly for a moment before saying.
“Merlin. And who would believe the lunatic if he said Dumbledore did it! Sirius. I think you need better wards.”
“No. What I need is more than 48 hours to prepare for this court case. And for the fucking nightmares to stop.” He ran a hand through his hair stopping at the nape of his neck to gather it into a loose ponytail. He sighed heavily and dropped down to sit on the floor leaning against the playpen. He let his head fall back and closed his eyes for a moment.
“Sirius? Up and at ‘em big guy.”
“Who you calling big guy? You’re are built to epic proportions. I suppose you could call Hagrid big guy…” Sirius trailed off tiredly and he force his head back up from where it had slumped on his chest. Plucking the blanket from around his shoulders he held a hand out to Caradoc so he could get pulled off the floor. Looking around his parter’s shoulder he saw Andromeda slumped on top of the paperwork fast asleep.
“What time is it?”
“Nearly dawn.” Caradoc said softly. “I figured you could wake her up. I’m only brave enough to poke one Black.” Sirius frowned at him mockingly. “Hey, I like my fingers.”
“‘Dromi. Time to go, McGonagall will be here in half an hour.” With out lifting her head Andromeda summoned the tea-pot from the kitchen and topped up her cold tea from the night before. As Sirius watched on horrified she sat up and knocked it back like a shot.
“I’m good.” She said standing and beginning to collect the paperwork into some kind of order as Sirius bustled about trying to collect Harry’s things together until Caradoc eventually snapped and sent him to get the little boy dressed instead of,
“Pissing about like a be-fuzzled blathered bee!”
– – –
With a pop Sirius, Caradoc and Andromeda arrived in the foyer of the Ministry of magic, the Christmas holidays having finally arrived meant Harry had been left with McGonagall, safe in her cottage in the Highlands. Carefully, and with a practiced stride, Caradoc and Sirius pressed their shoulders together and cut a path through the ever-present hoard of journalists so Andromeda could walk regally behind them. Stepping into the lift they kept their backs to the crowd as Andromeda stepped between them and pressed the floor they wanted.
In the lift Caradoc turned to the other two and firmly said, “Losing is not an option and remember if it looks like it’s going badly send me a memo and I’ll put plan B into action.” The lift shuddered to a halt in the corridor leading to courtroom 5. Sirius stood his foot against the door to stop it opening.
“I’ve changed my mind! I’m going back to work instead. Moody won’t notice that I’m three months early, will he?” Sirius said turning to face Caradoc who had turned around completely and was leaning against the back of the lift in his Auror uniform with a bemused look on his face. Beside Sirius Andromeda rolled her eyes reached up and grabbed a chunk of Sirius’ hair and dragged him out of the lift with a firm grip saying,
“Come on, dear, pull your big girl pants up and let us go kick some arse!” Caradoc crumpled with laughter as the lift closed and whisked away, Sirius turned to Andromeda with a look of horror,
“Marrying a Muggle definitely did something terrible to your vocabulary.” He muttered following her down the corridor and through the doors of the court smoothing a hand over his hair to settle it back in place.
– – –
The courtroom was packed, the bench reserved for the Wizengamot had been doubled in size and members of the Wizengamot had transfigured things into chairs in order to have enough seating. The public bench was overflowing and in the centre of the court the judge sat behind his podium with Andromeda and Sirius sat directly in front of him. Sirius was casually sprawled in his chair, long legs stuck out in front of him crossed at the ankles, his robes still impeccably placed and unwrinkled despite the hours of back and forth-ing in the court. Andromeda was perched on the edge of her chair and as Dumbledore, who had been speaking, sat she leapt to her feet and began to lay out her final argument in the confident cultured tone of a woman who just knows she is going to win.
“Regardless of whether you care for any of the other evidence that has been produced, there are some irrefutable facts which cannot be denied. Lily and James Potter were married in the view of the law only, they were never bound by magic.
To claim that their marriage was anything more than an arrangement by which to produce heirs is a joke. Lily Potter may have been James’ wife but she was nothing more than that. She was never entitled to be called Lady, or use the title Duchess, such titles are passed on through magical binding as I am sure you all know. Their, half, marriage means that the child was born and remains the legal property of Lily Potter, James’ magic didn’t support or sustain her through the pregnancy or birth and there are no records of a magical adoption.
The child cannot be considered James’ heir as Lily never gave Harry to James. With Lily deceased the child then becomes a part of the estate and must be dealt with via those bylaws not an heir-law.” Andromeda stated simply, with a small confident smile. As she finished speaking Sirius, for the first time in the entire trial, stood and quietly, hesitantly, with his nervous tick making him spin the ring on his finger said.
“James left the Potter estate and its inherent titles to me. But the truth of the matter is they were always mine. Inheritance law has always placed magic above legal standing… “
“Your failed romance with James Potter hardly entitles you to his estate, and while he may have named you in his will, you were not named guardian.” Dumbledore exploded rising to his feet, Sirius refused to look away from the point on the wall he had been staring at as he calmly replied,
“My ‘failed romance’ may not but our magical binding most certainly does.” The Wizengamot exploded in to conversations and arguments around Andromeda and Sirius. Dumbledore stood stock still, his glare locked on Sirius until eventually he yelled, “Silence!” Shaking with anger he spat, “You. You stand there, scion of one of the darkest houses in Britain, and expect this venerable gathering to accept your slander. First you accuse me of using my position as executor of the will to weaken your position, then when that fails, you accuse me of abusing my position to manipulate the line of inheritance and finally when all else fails you, you use a long broken bond and an ancient, long unused piece of law to try to cling to the Potter boy.” The old man slammed his hand down onto he wooden rail infant of him causing a flare of magic to run along it.
The judge finally saw fit to interfere and banging the gavel on the bench several times he stared at Dumbledore until the man retook his seat. “Albus, I would carefully consider how you conduct yourself in my court if I were you. You may be Chief Warlock but this is my courtroom. The evidence provided by Specialist Auror Black is quite sufficient for me to consider having you detained by the court until a trial can be heard. Merlin, to even consider using a Class 1 binding spell on a Peer!” He continued to stare at Dumbledore until the man was pressed back in his chair. Turning to Sirius he said, “he is correct the law you stated is old, ancient even, however it does still stand as law. But the onus is on you to prove that you are the magically bound partner of James Potter, there by showing the Lily Potter was not. How do you intend to demonstrate that to this court?” The judge asked raising his eyebrows. Sirius Smirked at him and cheekily said,
“ I believe that a full Myrddyn test will suffice?”
“Indeed” the Judge nodded and quickly produced a license for the spell to be cast and motioned for the Aurors around the room to re-enforce the wards simply saying,
“I imagine this will be rather impressive. I do remember the incident with the cells, Auror Black.” Sirius’ smirk just got bigger and as he glanced down to check if the Aurors were ready he caught sight of his mother pinching the top of her nose with an exasperated sigh.
Taking a deep breath and with a preemptive wince Sirius fired a powerful spell at the ward surrounding the court with a blinding blaze of light. He tended and waited for it to bounce back to hit him.
With a gasp of pain Sirius doubled over and magic filled the courtroom, a beautiful diagram outlining his bloodline, his inheritances, current rank and his bond status filled the court with glowing lines of different colours. Sirius’ bond status hovered directly in front of the Wizengamot’s bench a delicate outline of the Black and Potter crests intertwined together, the family mottos blended together underneath ‘ecgþrace,unswice,ingeþanc á beorht!’ The words were written in pure gold and in a handwriting that was as familiar to Sirius as his own and which made his heart ache.
The entire court room sat in silence as the spell hung in the air for an impressively long time like a silent show of strength. Eventually it dimmed and instead of fading it broke apart and fell to the floor in multicoloured witch lights. The judge cleared his throat and after giving Dumbledore a hard look he nodded to Sirius saying.
“The evidence has been provided and judged. Harry Potter is not the concern of the Wizengamot, he stands outside of your purview and the matter of his guardianship is the responsibility of the head of his family as named in James Potter’s will.” The judge dismissed the court and with a twitch of magic summoned Sirius to his chambers.
Sharing a look with Andromeda, who shrugged rather unhelpfully, Sirius followed the judge through the back corridors of the courtrooms to a brightly lit office. The judge sat and motioned for Sirius to do the same, “Auror Black-Potter you will deliver all of the evidence you have collected to my chambers so that an investigation into Albus Dumbledore may begin.” He said formally handing Sirius a scroll. Rolling his neck the judge lifted his wig off and shrugged his thick outer robe off his shoulders before dropping into his chair and in a more relaxed friendly tone asking, “Sirius, be fully honest with me, how far back do you suspect this corruption runs.” Sirius looked the other man sadly and with a shake of his head told him,
“Dumbledore has been meddling with inheritances and family lines as far back as I could look. His position at Hogwarts and on the Wizengamot has given him the ability to influence friendships in childhood and marriages when those children become adults. We all trusted him to know best. I mean who wouldn’t trust the man who brought down a dark lord single handedly, he could have asked for the moon and we would have handed it to him trusting that he would put it to good use. And as we have seen, if he doesn’t get his way he uses less than legal methods.”
“What did he want with the boy, it seems a lot of meddling to gain just one child. A rich child. A powerful one I’m sure considering his lineage.” The judge asked leaning forwards, Sirius rested his elbows on the desk and twirled the ring on his finger thoughtfully.
“ I have no idea, but I am sure he will try to convince us that it is for the good of the people. Someone with better contacts or with the power to push might be able to get something more but the most interesting thing I found out is that there is a prophecy about a child born in July but that is all the department of mysteries would tell me. Might not even be Harry, the Longbottom boy was born the day before.” The two men sat in silence for a moment until eventually the judge offered Sirius his hand.
“Lord Potter, Heir of house Black Iw wish you the best of futures with your new son.” Sirius smiled sadly and shook the older man’s hand firmly before taking his leave to collect his son. As he waited for the elevator he snatched one of the inter-office memos from the stationary desk and scrawled a quick note to Caradoc telling him to meet them at the Manor when he left work.
– – –
With Harry perched on his hip Sirius walked down the long gently curved path lined with Beech trees, past the carved tree. As he passed he purposefully refused to let his gaze fall on the gothic arch leading to the family graveyard. In the distance the house began to appear over the top of bare trees and the winter-dead garden. The path twisted round once more letting them see the full grandeur of the manor. Stood in front of the entrance hall was an old, powerful house elf wearing the deep red uniform of the Potter head elf, beside her was a younger elf wearing a paler shade of red cut to allow for the chasing and catching of small children.
“Master Black-Potter I have long awaited your return to your true home. It is the honour of Galiee and Pebbs to welcome you home.” The older elf said offering him a hot toddy even as the younger elf held her arms out for the squirming Harry. Sirius bit back the urge to grimace at the hot toddy not wanting to offend the elf only to be surprised when he took a sip to find it laced heavily with cinnamon to hide the taste of hot whiskey. The elf met his eye with a raised eyebrow and a knowing look. Sirius huffed and rolled his eyes in return.
“Pebbs!” Harry squealed waving his arms at her and leaning towards her. Passing the child down Sirius watched with amusement as the two clung to each other, Harry babbling away snuggled against his much missed nanny elf. Galiee lead Sirius in to the house bemusedly saying “Pebbs, wanted to come to the little master many times but the family magic was binding us here until the next lord came.” With a graceful gesture, Galiee ushered Sirius through a door in to the Lord’s study. On the desk sat a small unassuming box with the Potter crest carved in to the top even from the door Sirius could feel the raw power thrumming from it. Sitting in the large desk chair Sirius pulled the box towards him, the ancient magics imbued in it prickling through his entire body as it inspected him. The lid lifted off easily with a press of his thumbs and Sirius sighed in relief as the magic accepted him instead of leaving him drooling on the floor. The family ring sat in the centre of the box, a large deep red ruby carved with the family crest was set in a mithril band. A plainer gold version was tucked against it and the family seal lay along the back of the box it’s chain neatly looped around it. Reaching out a trembling hand Sirius ran a finger over the gold ring that had rested on James finger for years. A ring that Sirius had the honour of placing on James’ hand before it all went to hell. Lifting it from the box he carefully inspected it finding no evidence of the fight that had ended the last Lord’s reign. His breath caught in his chest and a tear fell hitting the ring with a spark of magic. Behind him he heard Galiee gasp in surprise as magic flooded through the house from the magical gift of a freely shed tear. Shaking his head to clear the tears Sirius dropped the ring back into the box, snatched the ruby out and shoved it on his finger before he could change his mind.
A burning filled his body as he was judged, knowledge poured into his mind as the family magic accepted him. He rocked forward and let his head rest on the desk as dizziness flooded him. Family history, spells and charms known only to the Potters and the weight of every ward and shield held by the family magic settled on his shoulders like a sledgehammer to the neck. The memories of every man or woman to have worn the ring floated at the edge of his mind, Sirius closed his eyes and with a firm grasp, grabbed James’ memories and shoved them into a lock box as even the feeling of them filled him with pain. He sat with his head resting on the desk for what felt like hours as he tried to untangle his own memories from the family history. He stopped and watched one of James’ father’s memories, he watched himself , young, drenched and defeated looking trudge up the path of the manor. His eyeliner streaking and an impressive bruise forming across the left side of his face from his mother’s firm right hook. For the first time he realised that he had become a Potter the moment Charlus had wrapped him into a hug and told him that he would always have a home. That as the Lord had healed his bruises and broken bones he had taken the opportunity to wave a little family magic through him so the wards would always welcome him.
Lifting his head and twisting the chair he turned to look at the portrait of Charlus Potter, the painting looked back at him and sighing it sadly said, “Well off to the family gallery with me then, I had rather hoped to hang here at least as long as my father did.” Sirius frowned for a long moment before eventually saying,
“Would you mind staying a while? I … the though of James is…I’m not ready. I’d much rather have you sat behind me, you always were rather more like a dad than my own father.” Charlus preened at the compliment before looking as Sirius seriously,
“Eventually you will have to face him.”
“I know.” He said softly as he pushed out of the chair and left the office.
Sirius wondered the familiar halls for a while before finding the ground floor nursery and checking on Harry, who was playing happily with his nanny elf, seeing that Harry was settled he slowly walked up the stairs to the family gallery. Nodding to the portraits as he passed he made his way to the most recent additions, Siting in front of the portrait of a slim, redheaded woman he cast a shielding and privacy spell. Taking several deep breaths he woke her up as he watched her yawn he could almost see how James had fallen so easily in love with her.
“Oh! Well I guess our cunning plan didn’t work then.” She said sadly.
“I don’t think you ever thought it would, did you.” Sirius said pointedly letting his anger come out.
“ Well as my father always used to say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. But I’m sure you didn’t wake me up to bitch about my forward planning.” Sirius gritted his teeth before spitting out,
“Really! You really think I not hear to talk about that!” Lily looked shocked at the level of fury being directed at her and as she opened her mouth to speak Sirius cut straight across her. “What was the spell you used? As best as I can work out it was some kind of, bloody well stupid, blood ward but they aren’t design to be used long term. Not on humans anyway. Carrying that much grey magic around with you just attracts trouble.” Lily’s eyes widened even more and Sirius silently cursed the artist for being a little too good.
“Dumbledore never told me that. The book he gave me never even mentioned … Everything I have read made it seem like it would be fine.”
“Thats because all of those books were written with the assumption that you have a little prior knowledge of blood magic. You shouldn’t have been playing around with that on your own. For crying out loud you had two pureblood just lounging around that you could have asked.” Lily lowered her gaze in a look that Sirius knew was meant to disguise her anger.
“The incantation was In tutela of electus prosapia, I sealed it to you with a promise within a pentagram. I chose that spell because it can stay half completed forever, the casting only completes when the chosen sacrifice is killed. I thought that a willing sacrifice would keep it from creeping into dark territory,” Looking at Sirius’ horrified expression she muttered, “and I was so very, very wrong wasn’t I.”
“Lily, Peter didn’t even need to betray you. That sort of spell. Naming yourself as a sacrifice! Magic likes completion, leaving it unfinished for nearly a year would make Lady magic think that you couldn’t bring yourself to do it. She would have sought out and drawn in those who wanted to kill you. Merlin! You drew a fucking target over your head and then tied your husband to your waist and put the baby in your lap! You might as well have stuck a briefcase full of bombs under your chair like one of those Irish chaps.” Sirius threw himself out of the chair and began to pace the edge of the ward in frustration and Lily sat still with shock.
“ Can you break the spell?” she eventually asked.
“Seeing as you bound it to me, yes. At least you managed to not fuck that up. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if you hadn’t bound me in.” Sirius snarled.
“Dumbledore told me to leave it open, he said that way anyone who was family, in magic or blood, would be able to protect Harry.
But I knew that if I didn’t tie you in. If I didn’t make the spell compel you to keep Harry close you would go racing off to do something stupid and almost heroic. I never figured out what happened between you and James but anyone could see that you still loved him more than life itself. I never meant to steal him from you but you know James he always did use all his heart for whatever he loved the most.” Sirius bit his lip deciding to let her keep her delusion, he didn’t see any reason for Dumbledore’s scheming to destroy someone else. Even if they were already dead. “I knew that if I died then James would already have fallen and you would go mad, possibly quite literally.” She dropped her head and laughed humourlessly “You always were a hot headed idjit, Siri. So I planned around it.” Sirius froze as she spoke and the two looked at each other in silence for a long moment. Sirius thought back to the day Lily had made him make that promise.
“You know how you and James always say that thing?” Lily whispered low almost like she doubted herself. James slept on the sofa in front of them with Harry tucked on his chest.
“hmmm?” Sirius said tearing his eyes off father and son to look at Lily. For a moment he considered telling her that James had broken that promise when he abandoned him in the middle of an Order meeting to romance her instead of following the ‘hey, Lily, wanna move into the manor and have my babies while I marry Sirius here’ plan.
“ Would you say that for Harry too?”
“ Of course.” Lily stared at him for a moment, and then grabbing his wrist she dragged him off. She tugged him through the kitchen and in to the workshop she had strong-armed James and him into warding for her. The workshop he had spent hours carefully measuring and cleansing to turn into the perfect ritual space. The one he had painted a pentagram in, the pentagram which he had carefully warded to be nearly invisible.
“ I need to hear you say it. Promise me.” She insisted as she grabbed two stools from under the workbench and pushing one at him sat on the other. He sat where the stool slid to, the centre of the ritual space. The centre of the most powerful runes, centre of the pentagram. Encircled and trapped by his own magic, his signature so familiar and comfortable to him that he didn’t even feel it.
“Lily, I will always carry him. Whatever else happens I will always be there.”
“I know this has been hard. Anyone would understand if you…” Lily said softly looking at him with sympathy. Sirius looked away and ran one hand over his face before answering.
“I might not agree with what James did, I’m not gonna say it didn’t….” he stopped and looked at her “Harry is a child, he is James’ child. With what we were. Are. I don’t think I could help myself. Fell in love with that little boy the second you put him in my arms and called my godfather.” He said with a happy grin “I might be angry, hurt even, but it’s not Harry’s fault. So I swear, Lily, when it comes to it I will always carry him. When he has no-one else I will be there.” Sirius didn’t notice the soft flair of magic just like he had never noticed the draw to visit the Potters. And just like after the Fidelis was cast he had assumed the ache in his chest was just the bond reminding him that James wasn’t his anymore. Assumed it was the bond breaking, that he was finally losing the last link to his James.
He stayed wrapped in his memories until eventually Lily’s voice broke through softly asking, “Put me back to sleep until you wake James. His family always did act like I had done something wrong when I married him. That’s why we didn’t live in the manor.” Sirius nodded and cast the freezing spell at the portrait.
Expanding the ward he walks over to James portrait and gently ran his fingers over the silky paint, patting the edge of the frame as he turned. He dismissed the ward and with a sigh of relief that the solution would be as simple as a targeted cleansing ritual he went to set up the ritual space in the ballroom.
– – –
Firmly ignoring Harry’s wailing at the magic that washed over him Sirius released the spell and just as it had done when he had cast it on himself it circled Harry’s heart and began to draw Lily’s protection spell out of him. As it worked the whirlwind of magic was stained progressively darker and darker shades of grey until it was nearly black. Behind him he sensed Caradoc’s magic and just as he had done when he felt it pass through the wards he reached out and prodded the other man.
“Oi!” Caradoc muttered without any bite as he walked up to stand next to Sirius. Sirius lent sideways slightly to bump shoulders with the other man as they both watched Harry cry forlornly.
“It won’t be much longer.” Sirius murmured as much to reassure himself as inform Caradoc. “Then we have to break the circle. And then Harry gets all the cuddles.” Caradoc huffed.
“If that hurts as much as it looks like it does then Harry will have to share some of the cuddles with you.” The spell ended with a flair of light and both men began to break the circle, moving almost as one until eventually Sirius was stood in the middle of the circle cuddling Harry as Caradoc cuddled them both.
“How could he do it? How could he watch me grow up knowing how hard I fought to be the man James deserved. Knowing what they did to me because of that. How could he just take that away?” For the first time since Moody’s office Sirius broke and pressing Harry between them he let himself cry as Caradoc rocked them and pressed a kiss to the top of his head.
“Because he didn’t realise you were enough of a bad ass to survive it. Because Albus Dumbledore doesn’t care about anyone or anything that isn’t The Plan.” Sirius let Caradoc hold him for just long enough for it to reach the limits of best friends comforting each other before pulling away and clearing his throat.
“So your flat is shit. And I don’t think I can remember how to live on my own. Plus Harry’s used to you and it’s not like I’m short on roo…” Caradoc held a hand up as Sirius began to ramble.
“I get the message. I live in squalor and you would very much like it if Harry had some stability. I agree. But I am paying rent. Do not argue with me Black, I’ll not be having charity now!” Caradoc grumbled letting his accent thicken. Sirius grinned and with a laugh began to show Caradoc around the manor.
Note- ecgþrace,unswice,ingeþanc á beorht! (Strength, Faith, Heart always pure!). Á beorht is Toujours Pur in Old English.