A crack of lightning rolled through Auror Sirius Black’s head as the world in front of him tilted and shuddered. He swallowed back nausea as the road twisted up vertically in front of him. Pain shot through his body, his knees hit the ground, his lungs burned and tears prickled in his eyes as he fought to take a breath. A tearing pain emanated from his magical core, encompassing his very soul. All other thought was beyond him, the pain was shredding his mind. His eyes dropped shut and his forehead hit the ground with a solid thud. From beside him a worried voice rang out with a series of profanities.
” … The fuck, Black? Sirius, talk to me. ” A few long moments after his collapse a hand grabbed Sirius’ shoulder and shook him harshly. The person’s other hand pressed against his pulse point.
“Expecto Patronum” a glow filled the night “Go to Kingsley. Medical emergency. Auror down. Cause unknown. No physical trauma but showing signs of core injury. Immediate assistance. Repeat. Immediate assistance. GO!”
Sirius was rolled on to his back, his nose was pinched shut and warm lips pressed against his before a breath was forced into his lungs. Sirius coughed and the person with him helped him to roll to one side as he continued to cough and gasp in deep shuddering breaths.
After a few moments Sirius opened his eyes and looked up at his partner.
” Car, it’s gone.” He sobbed reaching up to grab the other man’s shoulders. “It’s been destroyed.” Auror Caradoc Dearborn looked confused for a moment, then paling he dropped back on to his haunches and whispered,
“All of it. Wardings, our bond, I can’t feel him, I can’t feel anything. Merlin…James… I have to…” Sirius tightened his grip on Caradoc’s shoulders and heaved himself to his feet dragging his partner to his feet after him. Pulling his wand with a shaking hand he prepared to cast a side-along apparition.
“Sirius, this is mad. You can’t be casting in this condition. Tell me where we’re going and I’ll take us there.” He said trying to grab Sirius’ wand out of his hand.
As the two aurors squabbled over the wand, slowly getting more violent, the distinctive pop of a house elf appearing echoed down the lane they were standing in.
The neatly dressed house elf wearing a Potter crest on his jacket watched the pair for a moment before shaking his head, catching hold of the bottom of both men’s robes and as they both swung to look at it wands raised to defensive positions it ‘popped’ them away. The leather bands all Aurors wore around their wrists activated and heated as magic ensured they both arrived in the same place.
– – –
The devastation was unimaginable, the house elf had ‘popped’ them in to the front garden of what had clearly been a beautiful little cottage sitting at the furthest edge of a great estate. Around the edge of the property the ground was torn up, great trench marking where the wards had been literally blasted apart. The crested gate hung from it post, the latch melted and warped. The bloodied and broken bodies of house elves lay along the box hedge edged path. A dozen of them fallen as the last line of defence before their master’s home. Another great trench ran around the cottage, undermining the foundations, both magical and physical. The door was gone, a great cleft running up the house from where it had once stood all the way to the ridge of the roof.
The front wall of the cottage had holes blasted through it, the stone that had once made up the wall littering the rose beds. The stench of dark magic so thick in the air it could be tasted leaving a viscous layer on the tongue.
Caradoc turned from the destruction and placed a hand on his frozen partner’s shoulder as the man stared at the place he had once called home in shock.
“We should…” he began, trailing off as he realised Sirius hadn’t responded to his touch. He followed the line Sirius’ gaze until he was looking at the same part of the destruction. After a few seconds what he was looking at became clear.
“Sirius,” he began softly ” I’m going to call for back up. Don’t go in there, the whole place is waiting to come down.” Even as he finished speaking, Sirius pulled away from him and staggered through the rubble. One futile, thin thread of hope dragging him across the wreckage.
Sirius staggered over the last few pieces of rubble before dropping to his knees pulling James Potter’s limp and bloody body out of the trench around the house and in to his lap. A broken “James” ripping from him as he lifted the young Lord’s body until it was cradled against his chest, face lolling against his neck. Reaching up he gently stroked a hand over his eyes drawing them closed.
Caradoc turned away and stepped over the old boundary line. It took him a few attempts to form a wispy Patronus and choke out a location and a report, telling them not to rush.
After a few moments Sirius cleared his throat and trying not to disturb James’ position he pulled his cloak off his shoulders and tucked it around the young, dead Lord fastening it around his shoulders. “Well, for once love, I wish you had worn something to bed. Mind you, fighting a Dark lord in the nude? You always were ballsy.” He sniffled, a sad smile on his face.
Hearing something moving in the house he looked up, lowering James’ to the ground. Through the hole in the wall he could see a house elf picking its way down the stairs, it walked across the wreckage of the living room and finally out of the hole before hopping over the trench and stopping in front of him. They looked at each other for a long moment before the elf held out the bundle in its arms. Sirius took the bundle and tucked it against his chest. Gently he folded the cloths back to reveal a sleeping infant. Sighing with relief he stroked on finger down the child’s face, feeling how chilled the child was he quickly unfastened the buttons on his robes and tucked him against his chest. “I’ve got you Harry,” he muttered.
“Sirius!” Caradoc shouted from behind him sounding shocked. As Sirius turned he saw Caradoc fire off a stunner. Following its line he spotted a thin man in dark robes rushing away.
” PETER! COME BACK HERE YOU COWARD!” Sirius shouted. The child in his arms jumped in shock and began to wail. Passing him back to the house elf, Sirius took of after Peter. As he ran magic bean to pull at him trying to drag him back. Just as the pain became unbearable Sirius managed to grab Peter.
” YOU. You are under arrest, any attempt to resist your arrest will be met with force. Anything you say or do will be revealed to court by pensive. So I wouldn’t bother, Peter.” He snarled as the man he had once called friend raised his wand. In a flap of red robes Caradoc arrive next to him and began to cast a magic binding spell. Peter transformed in to a rat and both Aurors tried to grab him. A few meters away Peter transformed back and throwing a blasting curse over his shoulder he destroyed the village green and war memorial killing the half-dozen locals who had come out of the pub to watch the arrest. Even as Sirius managed to throw an anti-apparition ward up Peter changed in to a rat once more and scurried away.
“Sirius you okay?” Caradoc and Sirius pressed a hand to his chest and screwed his eyes up in pain.
“Yeah, Car, I’m great!” he snarled at him turning and hurrying back to the house, the pain easing with every step until he finally cuddled the child to his chest. As the pain faded entirely Sirius remembered Lily ‘s last conversation with him.
“You know how you and James always say… said. Say, that thing?” Lily had whispered as they both watched James sleeping on the sofa with Harry tucked on his chest.
“Hmmm?” Sirius said tearing his eyes off father and son to look at Lily.
” 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.
” 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.
“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. I might be angry, hurt, 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.
Behind him Sirius heard cracks of apparition and then a wizard shouted. ” It was Black, I was always telling Potter not to trust him. You can never trust a dark wizard to stay on your side, Black was always going to turn on him and now look.” He heard the Aurors telling the man not to worry, and footsteps behind him. He turned quickly and Caradoc lifted his hands to show open palms.
“Sirius, We’re gonna have to take you in. People are having enough problems trusting Aurors it can’t look like we are covering. A couple of hours while we do paper work and then you walk.” Sirius looked over Caradoc’s shoulder and seeing Kingsley walking towards him with cuffs he apparated away.
Sirius felt the thin leather band on his wrist burn hot as Caradoc was dragged along with him. In front of him the gates to Hogwarts hung open the long drive stretching out.
“Siri, come on. This is ridiculous.” Caradoc said even as he followed Sirius up the drive.
” Ridiculous! No, what’s ridiculous is that you think this will be a ‘couple of hours of paper work’! Crouch has been after me for months, everyone knows Reg was a Death Eater and I went to his funeral.
Apparently that was enough for Crouch to think I have some kind of sympathy to my families politics.” Sirius gestured with one hand, practically running up the drive. ” Years of separating myself from that, from my family, giving up everything, wasn’t enough. I. Can’t. Be. Trusted. It won’t be a few hours! Hell I’d be surprised if there is even an investigation, never mind a trial, before he sticks me in prison. Stop being so naïve, Car.” Behind them cracks of apparition rang out. Sirius stopped and started to hand Harry to Caradoc until a blast of magic forced Caradoc away from the child. Raising his eyebrows Sirius placed Harry on the ground and quickly shook himself, transforming in to a large wolf like black dog. He picked Harry up gently and raced up the drive faster than a human could ever hope to match.
Arriving at the doors Sirius wasn’t shocked to find the head and deputy head waiting for him. Placing Harry at McGonagall’s feet Sirius transformed back to human lifted the child from the floor and begged.
” Promise me something, Promise you will always take care of him. You won’t let him leave your sight, you won’t give him to anyone else but me. I’m the closest thing to family he has left so promise me, Minerva.” He pushed the child into her arms even as she nodded in agreement.
“I promise, I’ll take care of him, only you and I will take care of him. Where’s James… Lily. Do you mean…?” Even as she asked she paled and tears began to form.
Sirius opened his mouth to answer as Caradoc’s hands wrapped around his shoulders and he was pulled away. Sirius tensed waiting for the pain to hit as he let his partner draw him away. But after a few paces he sighed with relief when all that happen was a mild ache took up residence in his chest. Caradoc let go of his shoulders and let him walk toward the group of Aurors unaided. His hands shaking he turned and offered his wand arm to Caradoc so his partner could take his wand holster.
As he held his hand out a stunner hit him from behind and he collapsed to the ground. In a rare move for the Aurors his fall was softened by a cushioning spell and Kingsley could be heard shouting at the person who had stunned Sirius from halfway down the drive. Caradoc crouched next to him and with gentle hands he unfastened Sirius’ wand holster and then, after a moment of hesitation, the leather band designed to keep them together.
Sirius rolled further in to James’ arms and slowly slid a hand down gently tugging the patch of hair above his cock before sliding down and around the hardening dick. Pushing up on to one arm he pressed a kiss to against his still half asleep partner before kissing down his chest to lick over his nipple, tugging a little with his teeth. When his lover groaned and arched in to the bite and the hand around his dick Sirius slid down the bed. He pressed a kiss to a hipbone then licked up the hard cock in front of him before sucking the head into his mouth. When the man below him began to thrust up Sirius pulled back and whispered a few words before sliding his mouth back down. He ran one hand up his lover’s thigh and brushing a thumb over his balls he began to tease the spell-slicked hole.
He slid one finger in and without waiting began thrusting it in and out,
“You’re all nice and ready from last night aren’t you, love,” he said lifting his mouth off the cock in front of him. He added another finger and carried on thrusting while sliding up to steal a kiss. James moaned and pushed back on to Sirius’ fingers when he added a third.
“Just bloody well fuck me. ” He gasped wrapping one hand in to Sirius’ hair and pulling him down for another kiss.
Sirius pulled his fingers out and chuckled as James gasped at the loss and used his spare hand to help guide Sirius’ cock to the right place.
Sirius pushed the head in and paused relishing the feeling of James squeezing around him.
James lifted one of his legs, wrapped it around Sirius’ bum and pulled him in.
“”Yeah, well if you would get on with it…” Sirius suddenly thrust in making James gasp and then moan as he began to fuck him with long deep thrusts. James wrapped his other hand in to Sirius’ hair and used them both to pull him in for a kiss. James began to kiss him hard, lips bruising with the force of it. Pulling away Sirius began to suck a love bite in to James’ shoulder.
“If you don’t touch my dick soon I’m going to…” he cut off with a whimper as Sirius shifted his hips and began to pound his prostrate. “Kill you?” Sirius huffed and shifted again so he could stroke James in time with his thrusts. After a few moments James clenched and came, Sirius fucked and stroked him through it before thrusting in hard and coming. He let himself drape over James for a moment until the man shoved his shoulder. Tugging gently he rolled them so that they were lying on their sides still entwined. Arms wrapped around James he drifted to sleep.
Hearing a bang he sat up in bed and looks around for James, he slid out of bed as the bang happened again. He grabbed his wand and slipped a housecoat on before sneaking down the stairs. He paused at the bottom in shock and looked around the wreaked room. Through a hole in the wall he saw James panting and bleeding heavy. He raced across the room and leapt out of the hole desperately casting spells to stop the bleeding even as he gathered James up.
“I’ve got you. It’ll be okay.” He pressed a hand to the largest wound and began to press down. James huffed a wet sounding laugh
“Too late for that. Guess you’ll have to carry me.” He coughed and winced “Siri, Don’t give up. Don’t let them take the good you’ve done from you.
You’re a good man. Fight to be free.” Sirius watched as his lover slipped away from him and he desperately tried to revive him. Seeing something move in front of him he looked up to see James stood in front of him.
“Goodbye, Siri. You have to fight them. For Harry”
Sirius shot bolt upright with shock, he swung his legs over the edge of the narrow bunk and looked at his shaking hands, the warmth from the drew, fading quickly in the damp chill of the cell. From the corridor he could hear banging and moans of distress from the other prisoners. Looking up he saw the dark hooded face of a Dementor staring back at him. Drawing his legs back into himself he huddled as far away from the creature as he could. From down the corridor he heard the bang of a corridor gate being slammed open and the sound of shouting.
Bang, another gate.
Shouting, closer this time, clearer.
As the shouting drew closer Sirius began to pick out words. After a few more gates slammed and the shouting became clear, his own name mentioned more than once by a familiar voice. Sirius stood up and practically threw himself at the cell door as it opened, two weeks of isolation and anguish feeding his desperation
” Calm down lad” the grizzled man who had opened the door said softly even as he wrapped his arms around Sirius. “Take a deep breath and eat this.” He mutters shoving a lump of chocolate into Sirius’ mouth as he opened it to speak.
“Moody… I… Thank you.” Sirius choked out around the chocolate.
“Well, I can hardly have one of the best wizards on my team rotting his brain in a cell. And imagine my shock when I discovered the Heir of House Black and the guardian of Lord Potter wasn’t even read his rights upon his arrest.” Moody forced the Dementor floating ominously behind him back down the corridor with one hard stare, his magical eye whizzing dervish like in the socket. “Can’t do it right with one of our own! What does that say about us?” Moody barked as he half dragged, half carried Sirius down the corridor.
Emerging blinking into the dull light Sirius staggered over a rock and as his knee hit the ground he closed his eyes and waited for the pain to jerk him awake as it had done several times in the past two weeks. A tug on his shoulder made him open his eyes and start his stumble down the path again.
– – –
Huddled under Moody’s cloak Sirius tucked his head between his knees desperately trying to stop himself throwing up from the violent rocking of the boat. Next to him Moody was sat bolt upright as vigilant and impassive as ever watching the sea around them as though it was personally responsible for every injury he had ever received. While Sirius was woozily contemplating how the sea might, just, be responsible for all of the ills of wizarding Britain, the little boat bumped against the shore. Sirius felt the tug of magic that pulled the boat up to the top of the beach wash over him. Huffing he tucked his head further in to his knees and whined.
“Why I never suspected you were a hound Animagus I will never know.” Moody chuckled, ruffling a hand through Sirius’ dirty hair.
Finally the boat came to a rest and Sirius heard the ministry issue boots of the Auror core crunch across the pebble beach and surround the boat. At a prod from Moody Sirius lifted his head and looked at the magical restraints being proffered to him.
“Sorry lad.” Sirius lifted a shaking hand and, nodding, wearily pulled the heavy iron onto his knee. In a practiced move he popped the latches open and pushed first one and then the other cuff to the closed position. He shuddered as a chill settled over him and deep into his bones, the wards in the cuffs suppressing his magic completely. Sirius waited for the shivers to stop. They never did.
Moody and the Aurors around the boat waited for a few minutes watching the pale, gaunt man shudder and spasm painfully. Eventually Moody wrapped one hand gently around Sirius’ upper arm and helped the man to his feet only for Sirius to crash to the ground when he tried to step, a whimper forced from his lips.
“What’s wrong with him?” the youngest of the Aurors asked even as one of the taller men pushed her out of the way and crouched to help Moody get Sirius to his feet. Leaning heavily on the Auror holding him up Sirius humourlessly chuckled even as the spasms continued to wrack him. Moody turned to the girl and snapped.
“What do they do?” Pointing at the cuffs.
“The restrict the prisoner’s magical core. The more powerful and well-trained the witch or wizard is the more harshly the ward restricts their ability to connect to their magical core” The girl recited, practically word for word from the textbook.
“Aye, now would you say a Specialist is well-trained?” the girl and several of the other Aurors blanched “And the Blacks have never been known for their lack of strength.” Turning, Moody firmly wrapped his arm around Sirius’ waist. Nodded at Sirius and the other Auror and then pulled out a portkey and declared, “Ecgþrace, unswice, ingeþanc!” As the portkey tugged them away Sirius huffed a half laugh, half sob at Moody’s choice of the Potter motto as the activator.
The portkey dropped the three men onto a familiar, worn carpet and around them the sound of paper shuffling and people chatting drew to a halt. Without his magic to buffer him Sirius’ knees buckled and the air was forced from his lungs as his body tired to figure out if it really had been turned inside out. Hearing chairs draw back and the sound of people rising to their feet Sirius shakily lifted his head to see every single on duty Auror, in the special projects unit, on their feet wands raised to a formal salute.
A long moment passed where no one moved and Sirius could hardly breathe.
“Get back to work you bunch of wazzocks, names hardly clear themselves.” Moody affectionately snapped at the workroom. Everyone in the room turned back to what they had originally been doing, Sirius let his head drop wishing his hair was long enough to hide his face as he felt tears prickle at the edge of his eyes.
“Sir, would you like me help you get him down to the interview room?” the Auror who Sirius was still practically being held up by asked.
“No, I think my office would be more appropriate.” Moody growled taking Sirius’ weight off the man “Now get off this floor until you have the training to be here.” Tugging Sirius to a slightly better position he slowly walked to the heavily warded door. Across the workroom, in on of the glass walled offices Auror Dearborn sank back down behind his desk at Moody’s hard look.
– – –
Stumbling through the door Moody quickly dropped Sirius into a wingback chair near the fireplace. Reaching down he gently brushed the tears of the young Aurors face, Moody turned, quickly set a fire blazing and activated half a dozen wards. With an apologetic look at the hunched figure he cast an imprisonment spell that left Sirius retching as the cuffs fought the layer of magic. The gnarled man swiftly pulled a footstool in front of Sirius’ curled body, the spasms and retching faded in to painful twitches and bone deep shudders that wracked his thin frame. Grief, pain and the loss of his magic marked the normally intimidatingly powerful young man seem shockingly young and venerable.
Moody wrapped his large, strong hands around the cuffs and began the long incantation to release them. After a few minutes he stopped speaking and watched as Sirius relaxed by increments as the ward slowly uncurled from his core and the heavy cuffs popped undone falling to the floor. A sob passed his lips and as he crumpled forwards Moody wrapped his arms around him. The stress and grief of the past two weeks hit Sirius like a ton of bricks, wrapping his arms around Moody he let himself break, the older man rocked him gently letting Sirius cling to him as he wept.
After a while Sirius cleared his throat, dropped back in to the wingback chair and used his filthy sleeve to wipe his face. Swallowing several times he sighed “Sorry, and, well. Thank you. Wasn’t quite sure how I’d get out of that one.” Moody looked at him for a moment and shaking his head he said,
“It’s a tough job and these are tough times. Besides, you lot, each and every one of you is like a child to me” Moody nodded at the window to the workroom before continuing ” I hand-picked every one of you, bullied you into practising more, working harder. I fought the higher-ups when they called you unstable or unsuitable. I put together your training, figured out what would break you and then put you through hell so that when it happened in the field you wouldn’t crumble. I know most of you better than your own mothers.
Sometimes, most of the time, you all need a smack and someone to shout at you but some days you need me to give you a hug, pat you on the back, tell you that you did the right thing or that right now it hurts but you will survive and let you cry. Never underestimate, Sirius, how important each and every one of you is to me. You are the little family that I built and I will go to the wall for any of you because if you survived the training to get here you’ll never risk crossing me.” Sirius laughed softly “We’ve lost enough people Black, I won’t lose a good man to prejudice.” He paused while Sirius cleared his throat and settled himself. “Now, Dearborn already told me the most of it so lets just go through this like any other report.” Sirius looked up at Moody, took a deep breath and began to talk.
“You can not simply take as mass murderer out of Azkaban and then let him sit in your office, in the middle of the ministry of magic, DRINKING TEA!” Crouch shouted as he stood in the corridor outside the special projects unit of the Auror division. Moody leaned back through the open doorway and grumbled,
“Dearborn, Get Black a coffee will you. Apparently we can’t be having him drinking tea. ” Beside him Crouch turned a very interesting shade of puce “Now I don’t see a mass murder in there anywhere and even if Black were one I can’t think of a more secure place in the ministry to put him than my office. That incident 2 years ago let us all know that the cells can’t hold Black and as far as I know you haven’t upped the wards like I told you to.” Moody said leaning against the wall in a deceptively calm way.
“That’s why he was in Azkaban! Merlin, man, if the warded, iron bars of the cells can’t hold him then I don’t know how you expect your glass and wood office to hold him.” Crouch exploded, spittle flying from his mouth as he raged.
Moody stalwartly bit back the urge to curse the man senseless, pin a note to his chest reading ‘My people are mine and the lot of you can fuck off’ and then kick him a few times to be sure Crouch really got the hint. Instead he took a deep breath and ordered his magical eye to stare straight through the annoying little twit in front of him.
“My office is more heavily warded than ‘Lizzie the first’s cunt. We are on the 150th subfloor and even Merlin himself couldn’t blast through that much dirt to freedom. And, finally, sat outside my office are some of the finest, most battle hardened Aurors we have and they all know how much one man invasions of the ministry annoy me.” Moody spat his patience for Crouch’s persistence and ministry politics long since worn thin. “Besides I would have thought that you, if anyone, would appreciate that the law is innocent until proven guilty. Until you provide me with sound evidence that Sirius Black could in any way be responsible for the actions of Peter Pettigrew on morning of 1st November or the deaths of James and Lily Potter I am only required to provide you with a transcript of my formal debriefing with him. And that? Is all you are getting.” Leaving the spluttering Bartimus Crouch behind him, Moody turned on his heel and strode in to the workroom and with a flick of his hand he spelled the door closed and locked behind him.
Grunting he stomped across the room, poured a cup of tar like tea and settled in to an armchair to watch his teamwork. Looking through the half glass wall into his office he could see Sirius twitching as he slept on the overstuffed sofa.
– – –
“Auror Black…” Crouch began from his position in the magistrates’ chair,
“Specialist Auror Black” Moody interrupted from the side. Crouch took a deep breath and without looking at Moody said,
“Specialist Auror Black, you stand accused of the murder of Peter Pettigrew, as witnessed by the residents of the Old Lion’s Rest, Godric’s Hollow, and an act of treason in your betrayal of Lord Potter and his wife. Statements and evidence gathered by my office lay reasonable suspicion upon you.
I would like to inform the court that permission has been granted by the chief warlock for my office to seize all documents relating to Auror Black and his partner, Specialist Auror Dearborn.
I demand that the Special Projects Division of the Auror Office hand over Auror Black to the custody of my department.”
From beside Moody a tall witch wearing stark black robes with an almost invisible Black family crest on them stood and firmly said,
“Might I draw your attention to article 4, subsection 66z and remind you that as Sirius Black is an Auror holding the rank of Specialist, the division for whom he works is permitted to take care of any necessary detention or supervision if he is at anytime accused of a crime which would have occurred while he was on duty.
Here I would like to note that all Aurors in the special projects division are classed as being on continuous active duty at anytime a state of emergency is declared. ” The woman paused of a moment as Crouch’s assistant passed him the relevant section of legislation.
“In accordance with the same regulations you, and all others from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, are limited to only questioning Specialist Auror Black with regards to his actions at the time of the crime. Such questioning must take place in front of his immediate superior and is limited strictly to the events surrounding the supposed law breaking.
Any files requested must first be cleared by the Auror in charge of the division in question to ensure that no current investigations will be harmed by the exchange of information, the files will then be passed to the department of mysteries to ensure that they will not affect any potential futures.
Finally I would draw your attention to article 4, subsection 11s. You will note that at anytime it is felt necessary to suspend a Specialist from duty there is a three-month window for prosecution to begin before the Auror is automatically returned to duty and cleared of all charges. You will the note that amendment 11s 12 states that if it is deemed necessary for the Specialist in question to be detained or formally arrested the window reduces to three-weeks to ensure that prosecution and investigation happen in a timely manner.
At this point I would like the court to note that a formal arrest is any arrest which magical or physical force is used to subdue the Specialist. I believe you will find that in the report of Auror Kingsley he clearly notes that Specialist Auror Black was stunned during his arrest and shortly after he was then detained in Azkaban.
I therefor move that a court date be set within the next week so that the public can feel safe in the knowledge that even a high ranking, well trusted Auror who is a future peer of the realm will face full investigation in these dark times.” Carefully nodding her head the witch sat down and out of sight of the rest of the court she gave Sirius a thumbs up.
Crouch looked over to where the Chief Warlock sat hidden from the court only to find that at some point Dumbledore had left.
“Very well,” he spat ” a court date will be set by the end of day today and announced in a public location at the start of banking hours tomorrow. Court dismissed.” In a flurry of robes Crouch practically ran from the court snapping orders at his aides.
– – –
“Cousin, always a delight.” Sirius said affectionately wrapping an arm around the tall witch from the court.
“Hmm, well I would usually say the same but you really do smell. ” she said wrinkling her nose with a smile. “Now, pretty soon Crouch is going to realise he has no time for political manoeuvrings and that means he is going to push back at us in return. The best chance we have of clearing Sirius’ name is if we find Pettigrew. Failing that we need to push for veritaserum in court.”
“Well there is only so much a cleansing charm cast by someone else can do.” He said lightly before more seriously saying. “‘Dromeda, I’m not allowed to take veritaserum.” Sirius sighed.
” Actually you can but you or Moody have to request its use and the court has to be cleared of the public. But it can be used, although I will admit it won’t be fun.” Andromeda Black said with a small chuckle.
– – –
After nearly a week of Crouch throwing around accusations he could never hope to up hold, days of Auror Dearborn steadfastly defending Sirius’ loyalty and honour and a week of Sirius asking the court to allow him to take Veritaserum permission was finally granted, the public gallery, Minerva McGonagall and Harry Potter were dismissed from the court. Sirius worked his way through the events leading up to the Fidelis being cast on Godric’s Hollow, somehow managing to avoid mentioning the feeling of anger and betrayal he had felt at the time. Emotion finally breaking though the serum Sirius’ voice cracked as he admitted that he had never been allowed to know who was the secret keeper. The judge moved on to ask about the night James died and after listening to the broken sobs that emerged after every other word of the description the judge gave in to Sirius’ lawyer’s demands for a break and a calming draft.
When they returned to court the Judge asked one question, “What happened to the man you identified as Peter Pettigrew on the morning of the1st”
“He was an animagus, a rat. Peter, James and I all became animagus at school. He changed on us and raced ahead. I couldn’t catch him. He changed back. Blew the street up and ran away. I didn’t even have time to lift my wand.” Sirius intoned in a blank voice, his eyes nearly shut from the strength of the draft he had been given. The Judge stared at him for a moment before dismissing the court.
– – –
“Sirius, here, he’s been asking for you for weeks…Sirius?” Tipping his head back felt like an act of war on his whole body but eventually Sirius managed to look McGonagall in the eye and twitch a finger to indicate she could put the squirming one year old in his lap.
“Nuksiri! Hairy! Poo, stinky!” Sirius huffed a laugh as Harry tugged on the short beard that had grown during is imprisonment and while he quite literally lived in his boss’s office. After pulling his beard for a moment Harry tucked his head in to Sirius’ chest and quietly burbled himself to sleep.
“Thanks Prof” Sirius eventually said tucking a tingling arm around the child and holding him tight. Eventually his cousin walked in from the chambers she had been summoned to nearly half an hour before.
” How you feeling? I don’t think you mixed well with that calming draft”. She muttered crouching down to his level. Reaching out a hand she went to run a hand through Harry’s hair even as both McGonagall and Sirius shouted “Don’t…Damn” Andromeda was blasted backwards and Caradoc Dearborn shot through the door, wand out and looking for trouble. Raising an eyebrow he shook his head and back out of the room muttering “Really, Black, at least wait until the judge says you’re a free man before you start battering the family members.” Clearing her throat McGonagall offers her hand to Andromeda and pulling her to her feet she remarks. “Lily always did excel at complex and ancient charms. However you may want to think carefully about how you phrase requests when you ask people to care for Harry in the future. I couldn’t even give him to house elves. Albus was most displeased at the time I took off to care for him.”
“Right, well… if you’re feeling a little more like yourself the judge wants us back in court.” Andromeda eventually muttered casting a worried look at Sirius’ slightly glazed eyes.
– – –
Sirius walked to the centre of the courtroom slowly and gingerly sat in the chair, he waited for the straps and cords to wrap around him as they had all week long. When, after a moment, they hadn’t he looked up at the judge, who smiled slightly.
“Specialist Auror Black, having reviewed the evidence provided to this court there was only one conclusion to draw. The evidence provided by the prosecution was unsubstantiated, hearsay and a few drunken identifications. On the other hand the defence provided clear, well-evidenced proof that along with your accounting of the events provided a clear image of the events. I find you not guilty of treason and not guilty of murder or attempted murder.
However,” the judge paused and waited Sirius to meet her eyes “the court file seems to be missing your animagus license. As you are a law abiding citizen I assume that is an error on the Auror Office’s behalf and I expect a copy of your license to be sent on for my records as soon as you arrive back in your office.”
Sirius slumped in the chair in shock and relief as the judge stood, raised her wand and declared.
“Sirius Orion Black I hereby clear you of all accusations and proclaim you a wizard of good deed and intention. You are a freeman.”
Sirius left the court as soon as the Judge dismissed him and raced down to the Special Projects workroom. He grabbed a blank DOAT44- (Auror class) form and hurriedly filled it in dating it to over four years ago, hurrying in to Moody’s office he rooted though a small side board and pulled out a slim metal stamp. Grabbing the form he stamped it with the Special Projects release stamp from four years ago. The form glowed slightly as it accepted the stamp and became a legal document dating from 1982. With shaking hands he folded the animagus license in to a paper airplane and muttering a quick wandless charm he launched it in to the air.
Crossing the workspace to one of three tiny offices that lined the opposite wall he quickly opened the door to the glass box office he shared with Caradoc. Sirius dropped into his desk chair and popped the magical lock box out from its recess on the underside. Pushing a tendril of magic forwards he let it slide over the box until it clicked and the wood slid apart. Lifting the lid off he sighed in relief at the site of his wand and wand holster tucked into the velvet lining.
“Thanks, Car.” He sighed gently lifting it out and strapping it to his forearm. Finally looking up he notices the Aurors in the workroom looking at him, their expressions half wary and half impressed. Hands on wands they seemed to be waiting for him to announce his intentions. Standing he sauntered out of the office and propping a hip on the doorframe he smiled.
“Don’t worry ladies and gentlemen this isn’t me staging a dramatic one man hostile take over of the ministry. This is me collecting my stuff and finally going home for a bath. Ah, ah, no one cheer too loudly, I know I smell and look a little scruffy but lets not damage the old ego too much. Okay?”
– – –
Finally managing to escape from the office Sirius dashed though the ministry to the foyer and with a great deal of luck he managed to avoid the reporters and slip into the apparition zone as the pack turned to photograph a red-faced Crouch shouting at his long-suffering aides. Letting his wand drop from its holster he twirled it gently before apparating away from the ministry with a hint of smile.
Sirius arrived with his wand raised to a defensive position and his knees bent, ready to run or fight. The ground under his feet crackled with the frost of a late November evening. Sirius stepped forward two measured paces and felt ancient ward wash over him, caressing his core. Two rows of beech trees lined a narrow path in front of him and in the distance he saw a small group sat under a magical dome, house elves surrounding them.
Slowly he walked towards them, his eyes closed. The cold wind washed over him pushing his lank hair off his face. He stopped, taking several deep breaths to fill his lungs with the biting cold. As he stood there he felt a familiar magic nudge him softly. Sirius crouched by the edge of the path and gently pushed an evergreen bush that grew around the base of a beech tree apart. Reaching out a shaking hand he traced a finger over the initials carved into the base of the tree the rune circle carved around them glowed as tiny amounts of magic were transferred. Pushing himself to his feet Sirius closed his eyes again and using memory alone he walked up the path to the dome. Voices and visions of happy teens and angry young men from days long past filling his senses as he walked.
“Sirius!” Minerva McGonagall exclaimed as he stepped through the wall of the dome, his eyes flickering open and settling on the sight of his godson playing with a house elf.
“Thank you for caring for him, I, I’ll take it from here.” He walked over to a low stone bench overlooking a gated arch carved with angels and weeping faces and sat down drawing one knee up to his chest. Beyond the gate flowers bloomed in an everlasting spring maintained by magic nearly as old as England herself.
“What are you going to do?” she asked softly taking a seat next to him, draping a thick, deep red cloak around his shoulders. The young man shrugged tugging the cloak closer.
“Well, we need to find somewhere to live until the will is read. I’m pretty sure James left the estate to me but…” he trails off and shrugs. “I suppose in the long term I’ll go back to work so I’ll need to find someone to take care of Harry, I don’t want him to be alone or feel unloved. He should never have to know what it feels like to know that the people meant to care for you barely know you’re alive.” Sirius half flinched away as Minerva wrapped an arm around him and drew him into a hug. He let himself be drawn into the familiar warmth with a sigh. “But first. First I have to say goodbye.
Alone. Well with Harry but alone.” He nodded at one of the elves. He pulled away from her and in one swift movement he tugged the cloak from his shoulders and tucked it tightly around her, fastening is neatly. Much like a son would do for a beloved mother. The house elf reached up and took McGonagall’s hand to lead her off the property.
– – –
Sirius sank in to the short sun warmed grass between the two graves and crossed his legs. In line with wizarding tradition the graves had been flattened, the headstones aged and it seemed as though the bodies could have lain in the ground for years not weeks. Sirius felt a wave of sadness wash over him as he realised that part of his grieving had been stolen from him, that he would never get to sit by the fresh grave and weave his magic over it to create the aged look that would forever mark the resting place of his love.
Laying a hand on the ground above where James’ chest would lay Sirius twisted his head to look over his shoulder at where Harry was still playing with the house elves. “Hey James, I would say sorry for taking so long but I kind of feel like it’s your fault. ” Sirius closed his eyes and let a memory of James, young, wild and dressed in quidditch leathers drift to the front of his mind’s eye. ” I was so angry with you. Merlin, I still am. It feels like you forgot everything we were over night. Do you remember what we promised each other? We said we would always be there for each other. That when we couldn’t run, couldn’t walk, when we couldn’t even draw the energy to crawl we would be there to carry each other. When you begged me to take the Specialist training and apply to Moody’s department I agreed. When you decided that you needed a child I agreed, I even helped you convince Lily it was a good idea while you acted like we had never been in love. Because I would have done anything to keep you happy even if it was killing me.
When you needed your partner, your lover, your husband to be with you, I was. Well I’m carrying you now but where the hell are you! I can’t carry myself any more do you not get that! When did you stop seeing my heart, when did you stop loving me enough to carry me.” Sirius stopped realising that he had been shouting and he couldn’t hear Harry playing. After a moment Harry squealed with delight behind him and Sirius brokenly whispered, “What did I do to deserve this?” He sucked in several short, harsh breaths. “Will anything I ever do be good enough to earn me forgiveness for being born a Black or is Lady magic going to punish me for that forever?”
“I’ve always been the one letting you go. I let you go when you were blinded by the awesome of Lily’s baby making pussy. I let you go when you decided to play Little Lord Fauntleroy instead of finishing Specialist training, I let you go when you didn’t want me as your secret keeper. I did everything I could to keep you close but it was like you didn’t even remember we were lovers and not just friends. I know I’m not someone who people love. I know I’m not light enough for true love. But to just forget me? I was always letting you run down your own path and I never told you how much that hurt.
But I can’t let you go now.
I won’t let you go now.
I should never….”Sirius sat holding his breath until eventually he let it all out in one long sobbing breath. He panted in several breaths and stood slowly wiping the back of his hand over his eyes. Leaning forwards he ran his finger over James’s name and after a moment of hesitation he lent forwards and patted the picture of Lily.
“Come on, Harry, we’ve got a portkey to catch.” He says loudly as the cold air stung his eyes and cheeks. Lifting the child into his arms drew him to his neck and whispered into his hair “I will always carry you.”