Title: Stronger At the Broken Places
Series: The Many Lives of Sirius Black
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Action Adventure, Drama, Established Relationship, Family, Romance, Time Travel
Relationship(s): Sirius Black/Remus Lupin
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Brief mention of consensual sexual contact between minors, but nothing graphic.
Author Notes: I will admit that I’m playing a bit fast and loose with the timeline, as well as using fanon that doesn’t exist in the books. Just roll with it, okay? Especially since JKR never took the time to explain how the government worked. If you haven’t read My Sun Sets to Rise, I hope the prologue gets you caught up.
Word Count: 175,920
Summary: It’s 1994, and Sirius has Remus and Harry. Sirius has cleared his name, and taken back his place in the wizarding world. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t all a little bit broken, and it doesn’t mean the world won’t try to break them anew.
Part the Tenth: In Which Sirius Is Outflanked
Sirius knows he’s hovering as Diana Deschamps runs a diagnostic spell over Remus’ shoulder. They had made it to Paris without incident, and Sirius got a hotel room in the magical district near the hospital where Diana worked.
She’d greeted them congenially when Sirius contacted her, and expresses no opinion about the fact that they hadn’t sought the medical services of St. Mungo’s.
“Stop hovering,” Remus says in a low voice.
“He’s fine,” Diana insists with a smile. “Certainly, he’s no worse than my Denis would be if I were hurt.”
“What’s the verdict, doctor?” Sirius asks.
“He has a cracked collarbone and a torn ligament in his shoulder,” Diana replies. “You did well to use a sling. A course of Skele-gro and a quick repair spell, and you’ll be good as new.”
Sirius heaves a sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
“Yes, thank you,” Remus adds. “I really appreciate you looking at my shoulder. I don’t feel comfortable going to St. Mungo’s.”
Diana smiles gently. “I can certainly understand why, although I find the attitude reprehensible. What you have is a medical condition, one that can be managed with the appropriate medication.”
Remus blinks and swallows hard, and Sirius knows that hearing a healer say that means a lot. “Thank you,” he says hoarsely.
Diana pats his shoulder sympathetically. “Don’t you worry. We’ll get you fixed up. I’ll do the repair here, and then I can send you back to the hotel with the Skele-gro. I’m sure you don’t want to stay in hospital overnight.”
“I really don’t,” Remus replies. “I appreciate it.”
“Not a problem,” Diana says. “You say hello to Harry for us.”
“I will,” Sirius promises.
Diana does the repair on Remus’ shoulder with a simple spell, and sends them off with the potion. They retreat to the hotel, and Sirius says, “I can send for food.”
Remus shakes his head. “No, I won’t want to eat after the Skele-gro.”
“What about before that?” Sirius asks anxiously.
“I’m not hungry, Pads,” Remus assures him. “I really just want to take it and get it over with.”
Sirius has had Skele-gro before, so he can’t blame Remus for his feelings. “Do you mind if I order something to eat?”
“No, of course not,” Remus says. “I’m just going to knock it back.”
“I’ll be here,” Sirius assures him.
He orders a sandwich from room service and keeps an eye on Remus as he eats it. Remus tends to be fairly stoic, and he doesn’t show any pain. “You still doing okay?”
Remus grits out, “I’m fine.”
Sirius doesn’t argue, and he hears the mirror chime. “Hey, pup, what’s going on?” he asks when he answers.
Harry frowns at him. “Where are you?”
“What do you mean?” Sirius asks.
“I mean, I don’t recognize the background, and I think I probably should, so where are you?” Harry asks.
Sirius internally curses Harry’s observational skills. “We’re in a hotel in Paris.”
Harry smirks at him. “Weekend getaway?”
“Get your mind out of the gutter,” Sirius replies. “You shouldn’t be thinking about things like that.”
“I’ll have you know that I’m mature enough to consider the fact that my de facto parents might be doing things that I absolutely am not thinking about,” Harry replies with a cheeky grin. “Turns out that I can think about it without, you know, actually thinking about it.”
Sirius rolls his eyes, which just makes Harry grin harder.
“But you’re not in Paris for a weekend getaway,” Harry comments after a moment. “So, what happened?”
“Moony was attacked,” Sirius admits. “He has a cracked collarbone and a torn ligament, but he didn’t want to go to St. Mungo’s because they’re not known for treating werewolves well.”
Harry blinks. “When did that happen?”
“Yesterday,” Sirius replies. “And I will give you the details the next time I see you in person, but it’s not something I can talk about right now.”
Harry grimaces. “But he’s going to be okay?”
“He’ll be fine,” Sirius assures him. “He probably wouldn’t have even agreed to seek treatment, but Director Bones thought it important that we make an appearance at the next Wizengamot session.”
“I thought you were going to skip it, since the Director didn’t think your testimony was necessary, and was concerned about how it would look,” Harry objects.
Sirius shrugs. “Plans change, pup. It’s more important that we’re there and look like we’re in one piece.”
Harry doesn’t appear too happy about that. “I expect for you to catch me up at the soonest opportunity.”
“I will,” Sirius promises. “There’s a lot to tell you about, but it can wait. We’ll come to the next Hogsmeade weekend and arrange for some privacy.”
Harry sighs. “Okay, well, tell Uncle Moony to get well soon.”
“Lionel’s mom sends her regards, by the way,” Sirius adds.
Harry smiles. “Thanks. I guess I should have figured that you would have gone to her. She did a good job with me.”
“She treated Remus with a lot more respect than the healers at St. Mungo’s would have,” Sirius confirms. “Now, how’s school?”
Harry shrugs. “Fine. We’re all waiting to see what the next task will be.”
“Are you still hanging out with Therese?” Sirius asks.
Harry laughs. “Yeah, we are. She’s nice. We study together sometimes. I think the headmaster and Madame Maxime are holding us up as shining examples for inter-school cooperation and friendship.”
“Hermione and Krum?” Sirius asks.
“Same thing,” Harry replies. “We all study together sometimes. It drives Ron crazy.”
“How so?” Sirius asks, amused, sitting back in his chair.
“Well, Krum and Hermione are still kinda-sorta dating,” Harry explains. “And Ron still has a hero worship thing for Krum, so I don’t know that he’s figured out who he’s more jealous of: Hermione or Krum.”
Sirius chuckles. “I’m sure he’ll figure it out eventually. What about Draco?”
Harry laughs. “He’s back to mostly ignoring me, although he did issue a public apology at dinner in front of the rest of the Gryffindors. Pretty sure Cousin Narcissa made him.”
Sirius raises his eyebrows. “And how, precisely, would ‘Cousin Narcissa’ have known?”
Harry wears a perfectly innocent expression. “We’ve been exchanging letters. She said I could ask her questions about pureblood etiquette and politics. I might have dropped some info in a letter.”
“How very Slytherin of you, Harry,” Sirius says approvingly. “How did that go over?”
“I don’t think he’s going to punch me again any time soon,” Harry replies with a smile. “But everything is good here. You don’t have to worry.”
“How about I’ll worry if I feel like it?” Sirius asks.
“Fine,” Harry grumbles. “Look after Uncle Moony and yourself.”
“Always, love,” Sirius replies. “I want to be around for a good long while to come.”
Harry nods. “Good. Love you.”
“Love you, too,” Sirius replies, and they end the conversation.
Remus is pale and sweaty with the pain of the Skele-gro, but he asks, “How’s Harry?”
“He seems good, if a bit too observant for my liking,” Sirius replies, and then takes a seat next to Remus on the bed. “How are you feeling?”
“Terrible,” Remus admits. “I really hate Skele-gro.”
“So do I,” Sirius says sympathetically. “Is there anything I can do?”
Remus shakes his head. “No, I just have to ride it out.”
“Let me know if that changes,” Sirius replies. “Anything I can do, you know that.”
“I do know,” Remus assures him. “Thanks for doing this.”
“I’ll do anything within my power,” Sirius tells him.
Remus smiles wanly. “I know. Thanks.”
Sirius pulls out a book he brought with him and props his feet up on the bed. “This okay?”
Remus rests a hand on Sirius’ shin. “Definitely.”
“You want me to read to you?” Sirius asks.
“I don’t know,” Remus jokes. “What are you reading?”
“A book on the Deathly Hallows,” Sirius admits. “I figure it might be a good idea to at least know what we’re getting ourselves into.”
Remus leans back on the bed. “Then sure, read it to me. Is it any good so far?”
“To be honest, I’m not sure,” Sirius confesses. “It’s hard to know how much of it is accurate.”
“Considering that we’re dealing with a lot of myths, that makes sense.” Remus winces, and Sirius figures that another wave of pain has hit him.
He picks up the book and starts to read, “The legend of the Deathly Hallows is unsubstantiated, but there is some support for the existence of the objects in question.”
Remus settles back on the bed, trying to get comfortable, and Sirius is pleased when he drifts off to sleep while he reads.
He’s just grateful to be able to provide some measure of comfort.
The Wizengamot session is on a clear, cold day at the beginning of February, just ahead of the first Hogsmeade weekend that month. Sirius dresses carefully, both to give the correct impression, and to hide his armor.
Remus, he can tell, has dressed just as carefully, for much the same reasons: to show that they’re both okay and in one piece, to look put together, and to hide the armor he’s wearing.
Sirius has no idea whether their presence will really make much difference, but he trusts Amelia’s instincts, and he does think it will drive Umbridge crazy, which is reason enough to go.
They enter the Ministry, and Remus surreptitiously squeezes Sirius’ hand before he heads up to the gallery. Sirius thought about affecting a limp, but he’s concerned that might backfire.
He does make an attempt to move slowly, as though he might be injured, but he doesn’t play it up as much as he could. Sirius sinks into his seat and nods to Augusta and Mayweather. He’d done Augusta the courtesy of sending an owl to let her know he’d be present on Director Bones’ request.
Dumbledore calls the session to order, and he says, “The first order of business is the trials of various people accused of attacking a seated member of the Wizengamot.”
Sirius maintains an impassive expression as the accused are brought in one-by-one. Sirius doesn’t know whether they’ve been given a chance to clean up, but no one looks as disheveled as he might have expected for someone who spent the entire time in detention.
Sirius can’t help but feel a certain amount of resentment, given that he’d gone from being accused to being in Azkaban in just a couple of days.
“You stand accused of being marked Death Eaters, and attacking a sitting member of the Wizengamot,” Dumbledore intones. “Director Bones, please present the evidence against the accused.”
The evidence is fairly overwhelming. Amelia had confiscated all their wands immediately and done spell reversals. The wands—including Lucius’—show curses and hexes consistent with those that Sirius had taken.
“Since Lord Black feels well enough to be present, I call on him as a witness,” Amelia says, with an apologetic look in his direction.
Sirius makes his way down to the witness box slowly, moving carefully. “Do you, Lord Black, swear to tell the truth as you know it?”
“I do,” Sirius replies.
“Please tell us, as best as you can remember, what happened on the day in question,” Amelia says.
Sirius describes going into the Ministry and then leaving only to take a curse to the chest, and then fighting off multiple Death Eaters.
“Do you recognize anyone here?” she asks.
“I do, but not necessarily from the attack,” Sirius admits. “To be honest, everything happened very quickly.”
“But you broke Mr. Malfoy’s arm,” Amelia says.
“I had other reasons to believe that Mr. Malfoy was a marked Death Eater and he might want me dead,” Sirius replies.
“What other reasons?” Amelia asks with a distasteful moue.
Sirius shrugs. “I had been informed that a Death Eater had a contract out to kill me. I knew that Mr. Malfoy had more reasons than most to want me dead, although those reasons are private, family business. He was present during the attack, and I did what I thought I needed to do to protect myself and my friend.”
“The Black family chamberlain, yes,” Sirius confirms. “Harry considers him an uncle, and he was a close friend of mine, and James Potter while we were growing up.”
“And what did you do, Lord Black?” Amelia asks. “For the record.”
“I sniffed out Petter Pettigrew, the Potters’ betrayer and began following the scent in my animagus form, and when I saw Mr. Malfoy, I deliberately broke his wand arm so he couldn’t apparate.”
“Then it’s possible that he wasn’t part of the attack,” Amelia says.
Sirius knows she’s going somewhere with this. “I will concede that it’s possible.”
“Would you be willing to provide a pensieve memory to the chamber so that we can evaluate which spells were cast?” Amelia asks.
And now Sirius knows where she’s going with it. “Of course,” he says, knowing that he doesn’t have another choice in the matter.
An Auror is the one to pull the memory from his mind, and Sirius knows that it will be more accurate than what he could recall on his own. He also knows that everyone will see him in his animagus form. He doesn’t love the idea, but he’ll do what he has to do.
The Auror transfers the memory to a projection pensieve set up in the center of the Wizengamot floor, and Sirius sits back in his seat, prepared to watch.
He can see why Amelia asked for the memory, because it’s easier to see what curses and spells had come his way. And then, Sirius sees what he had not registered at the time—a malevolent look on Lucius Malfoy’s face as he directed a curse at Sirius, and then another at Remus. Sirius had been dodging so many spells that he hadn’t registered the one from Lucius.
What he responded to out of instinct comes out clearly in the pensieve memory, and it’s obvious to the entire Wizengamot that Lucius hadn’t been an innocent bystander.
And then the perspective changes, and because it’s from his own point of view as a dog, it’s not really clear what’s happening, although the sound of Lucius’ wand arm breaking is pretty clear.
He can hear the gasps around the room, but he doubts anyone would blame him. The curse Sirius dodged looks like it might have been a killing curse.
The memory ends, and the lights come up around the chamber, and there’s a long, pregnant pause.
“I don’t think I have anything more to add,” Amelia says with pardonably satisfaction.
Someone holds up a wand, asking to be recognized. “What about the other witness?”
“Mr. Mayweather,” Dumbledore says. “What do you mean?”
“Lord Black wasn’t the only one attacked,” Mayweather says. “I think we should get the other witness’ perspective.”
“I can’t be sure that he’s here today,” Dumbledore prevaricates.
Amelia turns to Sirius. “Is he here today?”
Sirius nods a little reluctantly, uncertain as to what Remus’ memory will show. “He is. He’s in the gallery.”
“Mr. Lupin, if you could make your way down,” Amelia calls. “You are being asked to stand as a witness to the assault on a sitting member of the Wizengamot.”
Sirius knows that’s the charge they’re going with because it’s a mandatory five years in Azkaban, and it would be difficult to to prove something like attempted murder, although maybe easier with that memory.
Remus makes his way slowly down to the witness box, and he allows the memory to be taken from him.
Sirius catches his eye and makes an apologetic face, and Remus shrugs philosophically. Clearly, he knew this was a possibility when Amelia asked them to attend the session, although she couldn’t have known what she’d find in their memories.
An Auror pulls that memory out of Remus’ head, and then it’s the same thing again—projecting the memory for all to see.
It’s much the same, although it’s clear that Sirius had taken a couple of curses to the body, although it’s not clear what they are. Sirius is a little disappointed, since people will probably figure out that he’s wearing armor, but there’s nothing to help that.
Remus had seen even more than he had, and not all the Death Eaters had worn masks. Whether Remus remembered it or not, he’d seen a lot of their faces clearly, and the rest had been unmasked after the Aurors scooped them up.
Sirius is rather proud of his stunner. It netted quite a few Death Eaters.
No one can really argue with the evidence after that. The Wizengamot overwhelmingly votes for guilt, and the sentence is imposed—five years in Azkaban for each of them.
Maybe it’s not enough, knowing what the rest of them have probably done, what marked Death Eaters generally do—but it’s enough to get them out of the way. There are a dozen going to Azkaban, a dozen who will be unable to force their children to get the Dark Mark even if Voldemort rises again.
That’s at least a dozen children saved, maybe. Maybe more if Sirius can prevent Voldemort from returning.
Maybe that’s enough.
The following weekend is the Hogsmeade weekend, which is the first weekend in February. They apparate to Hogsmeade and get a private room at the Three Broomsticks, with a request to Rosmerta to show Harry back when he arrives.
They order butter beers and a ploughman’s lunch apiece, and settle in to wait for Harry to join them.
“You haven’t talked much about the Wizengamot session,” Remus says quietly.
“Neither have you,” Sirius replies. “You also had to give your memory in evidence.”
“And there’s more information about your animagus form out there now,” Remus counters. “Most people probably know about my condition at this point.”
Sirius frowns. “Not that it matters, but I agree with Diana. It’s a medical condition, and you have the right to privacy.”
Remus leans in to kiss him. “Thank you.”
“You know I love you,” Sirius replies. “I’m always going to have your back.”
“I know,” Remus replies. “And I love that about you.”
Harry makes a fake gagging noise as he enters the room. “Rosemerta showed me back.”
“If you can joke about it, you can deal with us exchanging pecks on the lips,” Sirius tells him with no small degree of amusement.
Harry laughs. “Okay, I deserved that.” He throws himself down in a seat. “Should I order food now, or wait until after the talk?”
“We already ordered,” Sirius says. “We have a lot to talk about, and we shouldn’t be interrupted.”
Harry nods. “Got it.”
They make small talk while they wait for their food. Harry is full of gossip about his classmates, and their petty dramas, and the study group he has and what they’re doing to drive Snape crazy.
“The funny part is that grades have improved across the board, and every other professor is thrilled,” Harry says. “No one else, other than Snape, is mad about it.”
“Snape is a vindictive bastard,” Sirius agrees.
“And he doesn’t like to be shown up,” Remus adds. “You’re showing him up, Harry. Until now, he could assure himself that his students were terrible because they were stupid. Now, he has to face the fact that he’s a terrible teacher.”
Harry shakes his head. “Why would he even be teaching then? If he hates it so much, he could go do something else. He’s really good at making potions. He could do a lot of other things!”
“I don’t know, but it’s something I’ve talked to Dumbledore about,” Sirius says. “I told him that if I thought your education was suffering, I’d send you to a different school.”
“Like Beauxbatons?” Harry asks, and he actually perks up. “You’d send me to a different school?”
“If that’s what you wanted,” Sirius is quick to assure him. “And only if that’s what you wanted.”
Harry hesitates, and then he shakes his head. “No, I want to stick it out at Hogwarts. I have friends there, and I’m building something good. Whether Snape is gone or not, we’re creating something that’s going to last.”
Sirius puts a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I’m proud of you, Harry. It might be easier to go somewhere else, but you’ve chosen the harder path, and I think you’ll be rewarded.”
Harry shrugs. “I hope so.”
“I know so,” Sirius says, and that’s when their meals arrive.
Once they’re alone again, Sirius casts a privacy charm. “All right, you deserve to know what happened, but also we need some information from you.”
Harry nods. “Tell me what happened, and then I’ll answer any questions.”
Sirius launches into the tale, including the full details of what had happened when they were attacked, as well as the Wizengamot session.
Harry frowns. “But everything is okay now?”
“There are a lot of Death Eaters in Azkaban,” Sirius replies. “Which may or may not be the end of things. I don’t know.”
Harry nods. “I get it. It’s better but maybe not perfect. What about the rest of it?”
“We think we’ve found all but one horcrux,” Sirius replies. “We’ve destroyed six, and we think there’s a seventh. We’re hoping your memory will help us identify the last.”
Harry takes a deep breath. “Right, okay. Which vision?”
“The one that didn’t seem to be from a human perspective,” Sirius says. “Anything you can tell us, pup.”
Harry closes his eyes. “Right. Okay. The last vision I had, it was different. I was seeing things from a different point of view. It wasn’t—I don’t think it was from a human point of view. I think—it might have been a snake. It felt snake-like.”
Sirius knows what that mean. Voldemort has a pet snake, and that’s likely the horcrux. “That helps,” Sirius says.
“So, what we do?” Harry asks.
“We don’t do anything,” Sirius replies. “I’m going to take care of this.”
Harry appears betrayed. “What? I can help!”
“I know you can,” Sirius says easily. “But we’re going to take care of the snake, and we’re going to take care of Voldemort.”
“I believe you,” Harry says. “But what about the prophecy?”
“Prophecies can change.” Sirius gives him a look. “And it’s my duty to take care of you.”
Harry nods unhappily. “I get that, but I worry.”
“You’re allowed to worry, but you don’t have to,” Sirius says. “It’s going to be fine, Harry. My job is to take care of you. That’s what you have to remember.”
“I do,” Harry says. “I will.”
“Okay,” Sirius replies. “Then we’re okay.”
Harry visibly hesitates. “We’re definitely okay, but—there’s something going on with Draco.”
Sirius raises his eyebrows, a little surprised at the concern in Harry’s voice. “What have you noticed?”
“No one sits with him at meals now,” Harry replies. “I think the other Slytherins are picking on him.”
Sirius isn’t entirely sure what to tell him. “What do you want to do about it?”
Harry frowns. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, what do you want to do about it?” Sirius repeats patiently. “Do you want to try to befriend him? Do you want to ignore the situation? Technically, the ball is in your court, Harry. You don’t have to do anything.”
Harry winces. “But I know what it feels like.”
Harry’s empathy makes Sirius proud. He knows he has some deficiencies in that area, and Harry has a huge heart. “What would you have wanted someone to do for you?” Sirius asks.
Harry frowns. “I would have wanted someone to be friends with me, but I think it might do more harm than good for me to show any interest.”
Sirius has to think fast. “Okay. Who’s doing the Potions tutoring for your study group, and are you still using the Room of Requirement?”
Harry nods. “We are, and Blaise Zabini has been helping out some.”
“Get Narcissa to help you recruit Draco,” Sirius advises. “It gives Draco a safe space, and an opportunity to make friends outside of his house. You’ve seen how beneficial it is to reach out to people outside your house, or even outside Hogwarts. Draco probably hasn’t realized that yet.”
Harry nods, a determined expression on his face, and Sirius almost feels sorry for Draco. He doesn’t know what’s coming, and a determined Harry is a persistent Harry. “I’ll do that. And I’ll ask Cousin Narcissa for help. Will you let me know how things go?”
“I will,” Sirius promises.
Remus rests a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “It goes without saying that we’re very proud of you, Harry. I know you’ve had a contentious relationship with Draco, and the fact that you can feel compassion for him says a lot about you.”
Harry smiles shyly. “If I don’t have compassion, then I’m no better than Voldemort, right?”
“There are probably some nuances between those two sides of the continuum,” Remus jokes. “But it’s important to have compassion, even for those we don’t like very much.”
Harry shrugs. “There might be some hope for Malfoy. I mean, his mum is pretty awesome.”
Sirius resolves to send an owl to Narcissa as soon as possible to congratulate her on her masterful handling of Harry. She probably realized that Draco would need a friend outside of Slytherin, and she’s set out to ensure he has one.
“Narcissa’s only flaw is her taste in men,” Sirius says dryly.
“Well, at least she has some flaw,” Harry jokes. “Perfection would be boring.”
Sirius barks a laugh. “Too true. How is everything else going?”
Harry launches into a complaint about how Hermione is already setting up a study schedule for their examinations. “And it’s barely February!” Harry protests.
Sirius is glad to see that Harry’s still the same kid he’s always been. He might be a little more motivated to study and do well in school, but he’s still a bit of a procrastinator, and complaining about Hermione’s over-achiever nature.
“How is Ron?” Sirius asks, almost dreading the answer.
Harry shrugs. “I don’t know. He comes to the study group sometimes, but he’s—I think he’s still kind of mad about the Yule Ball.”
“Why would he be mad?” Remus asks.
“Because I brought a date and he ended up with Olive?” Harry asks. “I have no idea. I mean, you told me how to treat a date, and I didn’t want Therese to tell Lionel that I treated her poorly. He kept trying to get me to hang out with him, and I just was—you know—focused on Therese, like you said. Since Hermione was hanging out with Krum, Ron didn’t really have anybody else to hang out with.”
“Except his date,” Sirius comments.
Harry shrugs. “Yeah, but tell Ron that, and he just looks betrayed that I was paying attention to Therese because ‘we weren’t even dating.’” Harry makes air quotes.
Sirius can’t help but roll his eyes. “You know, if I were a terrible person, I’d pass word along to Molly.”
Remus shakes his head. “That would be too cruel.”
“It might teach him a lesson,” Sirius protests.
Harry laughs. “Let’s see what happens when he has his first real girlfriend. If he still doesn’t know how to treat a date, me and Neville will intervene. Or we’ll sic Mrs. Weasley on him.”
“That sounds like an excellent plan, pup,” Sirius replies. “Anything else I need to know?”
Harry shakes his head. “No, things have been good. I think the champions are a little freaked out about the next task, though. I’ve heard there’s some kind of egg? I don’t really know.”
Sirius is glad that he doesn’t know, that Harry’s life isn’t in jeopardy by being a champion, and he can concentrate on things like his rival, his study group, his epic prank on Snape, and just being a normal student for a change.
Harry talks about Neville and Hermione, and the friends he’s made in other houses, plus the kids he’s mentoring in the study group.
Sirius just basks in Harry’s excited chatter, happy that Harry is happy. He’s a little more concerned that Harry doesn’t seem to be in any kind of hurry to leave, but he’s not going to say anything if Harry just wants to hang out.
After a few hours, Harry finally sighs and says, “I should probably get going.”
“It’s been good to see you, Harry,” Sirius says.
Harry hesitates. “I don’t know if it’s weird or anything, but I just—really wanted to hang out.”
“It’s probably at least partially the adoption,” Remus replies. “Sometimes, a magical adoption takes a stronger hold than at other times, and yours has taken really well.”
Harry seems a little apprehensive. “What does that mean?”
“It means that you and Sirius were probably uniquely compatible,” Remus replies cheerfully. “You both wanted it, and so it took rather well. It has nothing to do with how you feel about your parents, just about how you feel about Sirius.”
Harry smiles. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense.”
Sirius stands up. “Give me a hug, pup. I need one.”
Harry comes willingly, and Sirius hugs him tightly. “I’m proud of you.”
He hears Harry sniff. “I’m not doing anything special.”
“You’re special,” Sirius counters. “Don’t forget that.”
“You might need to remind me,” Harry murmurs.
“As often as necessary,” Sirius promises.
Harry hugs Remus, too, and he seems a little reluctant to say goodbye, but he eventually leaves with a few backward glances.
“You’re sure it’s just the adoption?” Sirius asks once Harry’s gone.
Remus gives him a look. “You two didn’t have that much time together after the adoption. You probably needed it, to be honest.”
“I always need more time,” Sirius admits. “I wish I had more time with him.”
“I know, Padfoot,” Remus replies sympathetically. “He’s a great kid.”
“I wish I could take credit,” Sirius replies. “What do you think about his interest in Draco Malfoy?”
“I think that your cousin has some sort of witchcraft beyond the usual kind,” Remus replies, shaking his head. “Harry and Draco were much more than rivals. I’ve seen blood feuds grow out of far less animosity.”
Sirius snorts. “You didn’t know Narcissa at Hogwarts, did you?”
“We didn’t run in the same circles,” Remus replies.
“Narcissa could have been the Minister for Magic, and she would have made everyone think it was their idea, not hers,” Sirius replies. “And then she fell in love with Lucius, Merlin knows why, and Grandfather approved of the match because he fit the pureblood criteria. I don’t think she would have defected, or even expressed disagreement if I hadn’t taken on the role of Black patriarch.”
Remus hums thoughtfully. “She probably didn’t think she had anyone to protect her or Draco before. We’ve seen what happens when the Death Eaters decide to go after someone.”
Sirius can’t help but agree. “I know. I’m just glad I can provide that assistance now.”
He’s sorry he hadn’t before, and not just for Harry’s sake. With his name cleared, he can take care of Remus and Harry, but also the extended members of his family. He can prevent Voldemort from swallowing another generation of children.
It’s not just about Harry; it’s also about preventing another kid like his brother from being killed or swallowed by the darkness.
“If you can save Draco from being marked, that will be a victory, you know that,” Remus says quietly, as though he’s reading Sirius’ mind. “Every child who doesn’t take the mark is a victory.”
“I do know that,” Sirius replies.
Remus gives him a knowing look. “You’re thinking about Regulus.”
“I am,” Sirius admits. “I think about him a lot, actually.”
“I can understand that,” Remus says softly. “And Harry reminds you of him.”
“In some ways,” Sirius replies. “But he reminds me of James and Lily, too.”
“He has a kind heart,” Remus comments.
Sirius shakes his head. “That’s not just Narcissa’s manipulation. If Draco were still ruling the roost, I don’t think he would have changed his stance, but he sees someone hurting, and he just wants to help.”
Remus hesitates and says, “I think that has a lot to do with having the room to think about it, Padfoot. Until this year, he’s been fighting for survival, just about every year. You’ve given him a solid base that he didn’t have before.”
“Since he’s given me something to fight for beyond revenge, I think we’ve probably done each other just as much good,” Sirius comments. He rises and puts a couple of galleons on the table. “You ready to get home, Moony?”
“More than,” Remus says.
And Sirius is glad they had this time.
They spend the next few days at Black Manor, mostly for the safety. Sirius does some basic brewing, including brewing Wolfsbane for the next full moon, and Remus pursues his own line of research. Sirius gets a letter from Percy Weasley with the results of his research assignment that should help in the next Wizengamot session—or the next one that would allow Sirius to actually pursue his legislative aims.
Sirius wants to get rid of Umbridge so badly, and in such a way that would prevent her from rising to power again.
He wouldn’t be upset if she spent some time in Azkaban.
“What are you working on?” Sirius asks idly.
Remus hums. “I’m taking a page out of Miriam’s book, and I’m looking into the laws of other countries regarding werewolves and how they handle things. It’s information we’ll need for the longterm strategy, but I doubt we’ll see real change in the next five to ten years.”
“I don’t have names or identifying information, but there have been at least seventy-five people who have sought out Wolfsbane,” Sirius replies. “And in five to ten years, we might have statistics on the numbers of people who weren’t infected based on historical data.”
“How are you going to access that kind of information?” Remus asks curiously.
Sirius smirks. “I’m going to create an official research position within the foundation, and they’re going to request historical information for research purposes.”
Remus chuckles. “That’s one way to go about it. You’ll go through the Department of Magical Creatures, then.”
Sirius grimaces. “That’s the plan, although I am going to get werewolves reclassified. It should be handled by the Ministry of Health.”
“You’ll get no argument from me, but I think it’s a losing battle,” Remus says. “It’s just semantics, Padfoot.”
“It’s not semantics,” Sirius argues hotly. “It affects how people respond to werewolves. People think of werewolves as creatures, and that allows the Ministry to propose new restrictions. And then people think those restrictions are good and necessary, because we regulate creatures. If people think of werewolves as wizards and witches first, people will raise a fuss when someone introduces additional restrictions.”
Remus gives him a long look. “You’ve really thought about this.”
“If it has to do with you, I’ve thought about it,” Sirius replies. “But yes. Perception is half the battle here, and it’s where I actually plan to start. I can get it through pretty quietly with a piece of omnibus legislation.”
“You really are thinking strategically,” Remus comments.
“I can’t afford not to,” Sirius replies. “There’s too much at stake.”
“I really appreciate your efforts,” Remus says quietly. “I hope you know that.”
Sirius smiles. “You saved my life, you realize that.”
Remus frowns. “I hardly think—“
“If I hadn’t become an animagus at Hogwarts, I never would have emerged from Azkaban relatively sane,” Sirius replies. “And I never would have become an animagus if not for you.”
“Maybe we should agree that we saved each other,” Remus replies with a nostalgic smile.
“You’re a sap,” Sirius teases.
“And what are you?” Remus asks.
The incipient argument—although it’s certainly not a serious argument—is interrupted by the arrival of the now-familiar sight of Amelia’s big eagle owl at the study window. Sirius opens the window with a flick of his wand, and the owl swoops in to land on the arm of his chair.
“I wonder what Amelia has for us,” Sirius murmurs. He takes the message tied to the owl’s leg, and opens it up. In Amelia’s neat handwriting, she says, “Umbridge cast another Imperius, which my alert detected. She’s been arrested, and will be detained indefinitely. We also found evidence of a potential blackmail plot against the Minister for Magic.”
Sirius barks a laugh. “Oh, that’s too delicious.” He hands the note to Remus.
Remus’ eyes widen as he reads the note. “Wait, Director Bones found what we planted in Umbridge’s office, and she’s assuming it’s evidence that Umbridge was going to blackmail Fudge?”
“That seems to be the case,” Sirius says, amused.
“This worked out even better than we planned,” Remus points out. “The charge of using an unforgivable will get her sent to Azkaban, and the blackmail plot will discourage Fudge from trying to protect her. Who do you think she Imperius’d this time?”
“Amelia doesn’t say, but she’s inviting us to the Ministry in the next few days to discuss things,” Sirius replies, reading the second page of the note. “She says she’s already informed Mayweather, as he was one of the victims.”
“Maybe he’ll sleep a little better at night,” Remus says. “But that means we’ll need to start putting our strategy together. We have a shot at it now.”
Sirius grins. “Plus, you know what this means.”
“What’s that?” Remus asks.
“There’s no reason for me to recuse myself from the trial,” Sirius replies. “I can vote to throw the book at her.”
“Let’s just hope that no one ever reveals our role in things,” Remus says with a wince. “That wouldn’t look very good for you.”
“I can always claim that I suspected she was using unforgivable curses, and I was baiting her,” Sirius points out. “My seat is hereditary, and if nothing else, it will bolster my reputation as being a ruthless bastard.”
Sirius isn’t too worried about someone finding out about what he’d done. They’ll have a hard time proving it, and it won’t hurt his reputation. It might actually make people that much less likely to cross him or Harry or Remus.
“When do you want to go in?” Remus asks.
“Frankly, my curiosity is piqued,” Sirius admits. “How about tomorrow?”
Remus shrugs. “Sounds good to me. It’s not like we have a lot on our calendars.”
“Then it’s a date,” Sirius says. “Maybe we can go out to dinner after, maybe in Muggle London. We’d be safer there.”
Remus smiles. “That sounds great.”
They head into London the following day, spending a leisurely late morning in bed, and then apparating to one of the designated points near the Ministry building. They check in, and Sirius’ name tag reads, “Lord Black, Smug Bastard.”
Remus chokes on his laughter. “Well, that’s descriptive.”
“What does yours say?” Sirius asks.
“Remus Lupin, Emotional Support,” Remus says.
“How do you manage that every time?” Sirius asks.
Remus smirks. “I just focus on why I’m here, and it’s to support you.”
“I’m going to have to try that next time,” Sirius replies. “There are times when I’d prefer to have the element of surprise.”
“You may be too much of a Gryffindor for that,” Remus mutters.
Sirius’ reply is interrupted by Mayweather calling out, “Lord Black, Mr. Lupin. I assume that you also received the letter.”
“We did,” Sirius says. “How are you doing?”
Mayweather smiles broadly. “Much better now. I’m beginning to understand why you put so much faith in the DMLE. I really hadn’t thought to see results, or to see results so quickly.”
Sirius nods, but he says, “Let’s not discuss this out in the open. Is Director Bones expecting you?”
“I did send her an owl last night,” Mayweather replies.
“Better than I did,” Sirius admits freely.
They head for the DMLE offices, and Sirius isn’t too surprised when Amelia greets them personally and ushers them to her office. “Your timing couldn’t have been better. I just got out of a meeting with the Minister, and I was glad to have the excuse to cut it short.”
“I’m sorry we didn’t send word,” Sirius apologizes.
Amelia shakes her head. “No, this works out perfectly. It’s easier to do this all at once anyway. Come into my office. Can I get you anything? Tea?”
“I would take tea,” Mayweather says diffidently.
“That would be nice,” Remus echoes.
Sirius isn’t sure he wants tea, but he agrees to be sociable. Once the tea has arrived and is poured, Amelia casts a privacy spell. “What is said in this office will remain in this office. Whatever is said, will remain between us.”
Sirius glances at Remus, who shrugs. “I understand,” Sirius says.
Mayweather and Remus also murmur their understanding.
“I set one of my Aurors up,” Amelia admits baldly. “I set the notification charm on her office, and then sent an Auror in as though they were setting a watch. Rather predictably, she cast the Imperius, which tells me that she’s probably done it multiple times before.”
Sirius realizes what that means. “You were that worried about it.”
“She cast an unforgivable on a sitting member of the Wizengamot,” Amelia says. “I take that very, very seriously indeed. I’m sorry I couldn’t take immediate action on your report, but I also have to make a case.”
Mayweather shakes his head. “You did take immediate action. You set up an investigation, and you caught her in the act. I’m grateful, Director Bones. I was worried about coming back into the Ministry, to be honest with you.”
“And that’s exactly what we can’t have,” Amelia replies. “There’s no question she cast the Imperius. We were very careful about the investigation. The penalty for an unforgivable is life in Azkaban. The only thing I would ask from you, Mr. Mayweather, is that you refrain from contributing to the debate in the Wizengamot trial.”
He nods. “Of course. There’s nothing for me to add.”
She smiles. “Thank you. I just don’t think it’s wise. Now, about the blackmail evidence that was in Umbridge’s office. It makes no difference to her sentence, but it will discourage Fudge from interfering at all.”
Sirius puts on his best innocent expression. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. What would she have to blackmail Fudge over?”
Amelia gives him a hard look. “You don’t know?”
Sirius smiles. “How would I?”
“You didn’t put it in there?” Amelia asks.
Sirius shakes his head. “No, of course not. Why would I do something like that?”
“Mr. Mayweather, did you have anything to do with placing it in her office?” Amelia asks.
Mayweather looks terribly offended. “Director Bones, I assure you, I had nothing to do with anything ending up in the Undersecretary’s office. I was there to meet with her about some pending legislation.”
Sirius can tell that she’s still suspicious, but there’s no evidence they had anything to do with it, and without something concrete, she can’t do anything drastic—like request they be questioned under veritaserum or an honesty hex. Certainly, Sirius had expressed his disdain for Umbridge, even his desire to get her out of the Ministry, but it’s not like he’d forced her to use the Imperius curse on multiple people.
Finally, Amelia shakes her head. “Well, I’m sure Minister Fudge will be relieved that Umbridge hasn’t tried to drag his name into the mud with various members of the Wizengamot.”
“I doubt she’d start with us,” Sirius says. “She’s not my biggest fan, and Minister Fudge wasn’t the one in charge when I was sent to Azkaban.”
Amelia smiles slightly. “Still. He did give the order to have you Kissed.”
“Water under the bridge,” Sirius replies airily, with a nonchalance he doesn’t completely feel. If he thought he could oust Fudge, he probably would, but it’s not a high priority. Right now, Fudge owes him a favor, and he can’t say the same for next Minister for Magic.
Amelia just shakes her head. “Thank you all for coming in today. I’m sure the Minister will be relieved to know that the story hasn’t traveled too far yet.”
“Well, even if I did know what it was, I wouldn’t spread it around,” Sirius replies easily. “I find that rather unseemly.”
Mayweather nods. “The same goes for me.”
“Thank you for your discretion,” Amelia replies.
As they walk out of the Ministry, Sirius wonders if he ought to invite Mayweather to join them for lunch, even though they’d planned on making a date of it. Mayweather solves the issue for them by saying, “It’s been a pleasure, gentlemen, but I promised my wife I’d take her out for lunch to celebrate.”
Sirius smirks. “Enjoy.”
Mayweather gives Sirius a similar look. “You, too. I guess we’ll be able to make progress on our legislative agenda now.”
“It’s unseemly to take pleasure in another’s misfortune,” Sirius says sternly, although he knows the twinkle in his eye gives him away.
“There’s nothing wrong with a little schadenfreude, Lord Black,” Mayweather replies. “The Germans even made up a word for it.”
“So they did,” Sirius agrees. “Anyway, I’ll set up a time for you and Augusta to meet soon to discuss the next session.”
“Have a good day, gentlemen,” Mayweather replies, tipping his hat.
“You as well,” Sirius replies.
They stand outside the Ministry, and Sirius asks, “Shall we?”
Remus banishes his wizard robes, leaving him in a button-down shirt and trousers, the armor hidden underneath. Sirius does the same, wearing much the same thing. “We shall,” Remus replies. “I’m looking forward to it.”
They head out to Muggle London, a safe enough place when most Death Eaters are blood purists and have no idea how to handle the Muggle world.
He and Remus don’t have that problem. They find a cafe a few miles away from the Ministry that serves lunch, and is doing a brisk business. Sirius assumes that it’s decent, but even if it’s not, it’s lunch out with Remus, in an area where they don’t really have to worry about being attacked by Death Eaters.
“We should go out more often,” Remus comments. They’re both sipping glasses of wine, sitting near a large window. Sirius would have enjoyed sitting outside, but there are no outdoor tables this time of year, and unlike the magical world, there are no localized heating spells or comfort charms.
“We should probably take Harry out, too,” Sirius comments. “It wouldn’t do for him to forget how to navigate the Muggle world.”
“I doubt we need to worry about that,” Remus says with a laugh. “But I wouldn’t mind going to the movies again.”
Sirius smiles. “Do you want to go today?”
Remus looks surprised. “I have no idea what’s playing.”
“Neither do I,” Sirius replies. “But who cares? It’s not like we go that often.”
“True.” Remus grins at him. “So, we’re playing hooky today?”
“Why not?” Sirius replies.
They end up watching a science-fiction film about aliens and other worlds and ancient Egypt, which Sirius doesn’t really get, but it’s entertaining enough. It’s nice to see other people fighting for a change, at least, and the story about the soldier losing his son resonates.
Not that he plans on losing Harry, but he’s suffered enough loss to empathize.
After the movie, they wander around Muggle London, visiting various shops and marveling at the Muggle goods, trying not to let on to why they were enjoying themselves so much.
They stay long enough that it makes sense to get dinner out, too, and they find a restaurant with an opening. Sirius has never had Thai food, although Remus has on a couple of occasions, and Sirius enjoys it quite a bit.
“We really need to get out more,” Sirius comments.
Remus laughs. “We do. This was fun.”
And that night they toast to Umbridge being gone, and Sirius looks to the future.
Harry calls after the second task. Sirius has a strategy session scheduled for the next morning with Augusta and Mayweather, but he wants to hear about the task from Harry’s perspective when he’s not a champion.
“How did it go, pup?” Sirius asks.
“I think Cedric and Krum are about tied at this point,” Harry says. “There were hostages, and Hermione was Krum’s.”
“Who was holding hostages?” Remus asks, hanging over Sirius’ shoulder.
“The merpeople in the lake?” Harry says hesitantly. “I didn’t even know there were merpeople! Anyway, they had Hermione for Krum, Fleur’s little sister, Gabrielle, for her, and then Cho Chang for Cedric. They had them at the bottom of the lake, and the champions had to rescue them before the time ran out. I’m not sure what method Fleur chose, but it failed, and she and Therese were super worried, but it turns out the merpeople were supposed to bring the hostages back even if time ran out.”
“I trust that Hermione is safe,” Sirius says.
Harry shrugs. “Super safe, and currently having dinner with Krum. Gabrielle and her parents are here, and Cho and Cedric are all over each other, so I think they’re happy.”
“And how are you, pup?” Sirius asks.
Harry shrugs. “I don’t know, I felt bad for Fleur. She really thought that if she didn’t get there in time, her sister would die. I don’t know why Krum and Cedric didn’t rescue her, too. I mean, they were right there, and she’s just a little girl!”
“What would you have done?” Sirius asks.
“If I’d reached the hostages, and I thought one still needed rescue, I would have freed them, too,” Harry says hotly. “I know it would be against the rules and all, but seriously, Dad, she’s just a little kid! And her parents were worried sick!”
“You have a good, heart, Harry,” Sirius replies. “I know you’ll do the right thing, no matter what it costs you.”
Harry appears uncomfortable. “I want to cheer Cedric on, but…”
“We can all think about what we might do when faced with a particular situation, but we never know until we’re actually in it,” Remus reminds him. “Don’t judge Cedric for something when you haven’t been through the same thing. He’s under a lot of pressure to be the Hogwarts’ champion, and more pressure still because he’s a ‘puff. A lot of Hufflepuffs feel as though they don’t get much glory.”
Harry frowns. “If he was a true Hufflepuff, he would have rescued Gabrielle, too.”
“Are you saying that because you’re close with Therese and Fleur?” Sirius asks.
Harry’s chin is set at a stubborn angle. “No, I’m saying it because it was the right thing to do. You should have seen the Delacours! No one told them that the hostages would be returned safely if the champions didn’t succeed.”
“Is it possible that’s on those running the Tournament?” Sirius asks, wanting to redirect Harry’s ire. He won’t gain many friends bad-mouthing Hogwarts’ champion.
Harry hesitates, and then he says, “Yeah, it’s absolutely on them. They should have warned the champions, too. Making people think they got their loved ones killed just because they weren’t fast or smart enough…” He trails off. “What arsehole thought of these stupid tests anyway? I mean, dragons and hostages, and who knows what else?”
“Absolute wankers every one,” Sirius agrees readily. “How is everything else?”
“I took your advice, and let it be known that we needed a Potions tutor,” Harry admits. “Blaise Zabini was already involved, so Draco approached him, and then just started showing up. I told everyone to leave him alone unless he was being an arse, but so far, he’s been really good. He’s more patient with the younger kids than I thought, although he’s definitely better with the Slytherins.”
“And you?” Sirius asks.
“We say hello, it’s fine,” Harry says dismissively, and in such a way that says there’s more to it than that. “We’re civil.”
“How about Hermione?” Remus asks.
That’s an entirely different story, and Harry launches into a tale of how Ron is being weird about both of them, but especially Hermione, and Hermione is fed up with Ron and his jealousy, and Harry just wants to move on.
“Why can’t things be easy?” Harry asks plaintively.
“Welcome to adolescence,” Sirius says dryly. “Is Krum treating Hermione well?”
“I think he worships the ground she walks on,” Harry admits.
“Then he’s just stabilisers,” Sirius replies. “Unless he isn’t. Look, it’s her first love interest, and he thinks she’s the best. That’s good for a witch’s ego, and good for her self-esteem. You support her in that, because she deserves it, and she’s your friend. Ron will figure it out or he won’t, but Hermione is your best and truest friend, is she not?”
Harry hesitates, but he says, “Yeah. Not my first friend, but my best at this point.”
“So bring Ron along with gentle prods,” Remus adds. “We did as much for James, once we pulled our own heads out of our arses.”
Harry laughs. “Got it. I’ll do what I can.”
“Hang in there, pup,” Sirius tells him. “This will pass, and you’ll all look back on it and laugh someday.”
“That day can’t come soon enough,” Harry comments. “I should go.”
Sirius nods. “I have a strategy meeting tomorrow morning, and I need to get some sleep as well. Sleep well, Harry.”
“You, too, Dad,” Harry says. “‘night, Uncle Moony.”
“Good night, Harry,” Remus replies warmly.
Sirius chuckles after the call ends. “Brings back memories of our Hogwarts days, doesn’t it?”
“I remember all the girls you dated,” Remus comments. “And James being an absolute idiot around Lily.”
“I don’t remember you dating much,” Sirius replies.
Remus sprawls on the couch. “Does that surprise you?”
“No, I suppose not,” Sirius replies soberly.
Remus shakes his head. “Don’t go feeling sorry for me now, Pads. I had you and James, and I’ve never been that interested in dating casually.”
“I don’t feel sorry for you,” Sirius lies. “Not how you mean.”
Remus smiles. “I don’t even really resent being a werewolf anymore, to be honest. I have no idea who I’d be if Greyback had never bitten me.”
“I’m sure you’d probably be teaching at Hogwarts,” Sirius replies. “And I’m sure you probably wouldn’t give me the time of day.”
Remus snorts. “Or we both would have wound up dead at the hands of Death Eaters. If I hadn’t been going to the packs, I’d have been right there with you, watching your back.”
Sirius can imagine it, and he wonders if it would have changed anything—or everything.
“Well, I suppose we’ll never know now, but I’m not upset about how things turned out,” Sirius admits. “We’re doing all right.”
Remus smiles at him sweetly. “I think we’re doing a little more than ‘all right.’ But we really should get to bed. It’s going to be an interesting day tomorrow.”
Sirius rises and holds out a hand to Remus, pulling him up and into a loose embrace. “It’s a whole new world we’re looking at, Moony. I think we’re really going to be able to get something done now.”
All of their strategy sessions are held at Grimmauld Place, since it’s essentially the public location for them. Sirius finally connected the floo between the Manor and Grimmauld Place, deciding that it was worth the risk. He would prefer Black Manor not be on the floo network at all, but it’s too easy to ambush them in front of Grimmauld Place.
They step through the floo and Sirius banishes the remaining soot and straightens his robes, while Remus does the same. “Master Black is having guests?” Kreacher asks, popping in front of them.
“We are,” Sirius replies. “Madame Longbottom and Mr. Mayweather will be joining us shortly. Tea and refreshments would be appreciated.”
Kreacher nods. “Yes, Master Black. Kreacher will take care of it.”
“Thank you,” Sirius replies. “Where’s Winky today?”
“She is at your farmhouse, Master Black. It be cleaning day there,” Kreacher says. “I can handle things myself.”
“I’m certain that you can,” Sirius replies.
They settle in the parlor, and Sirius pulls out the documents that he wants to share. He had asked Percy to do some investigating into the financial reports for the Ministry that he’d been given when he took his seat. With those reports, Sirius has drafted an omnibus bill. Hidden in that bill is a small clause that reclassifies werewolves and transfers responsibility from the Department of Magical Creatures to the Department of Health.
Sirius doesn’t plan on advertising that fact. He’s hoping the clause slides in under the radar, and if anyone notices, they won’t think too much about it.
Semantics, Sirius knows, are absolutely everything.
Augusta is the first to arrive, and she takes the seat Sirius offers with aplomb. “Did you two have anything to do with that horrid woman’s removal?”
Sirius gives her a look. “Plausible deniability, Augusta,” he reminds her.
“Please, I have no intention of divulging your secrets,” Augusta replies. “But you should know, there are already rumors flying that you had something to do with it.”
Sirius scoffs at that. “Just because we butted heads in the Wizengamot?”
“And because she was going to block many of your initiatives,” Augusta comments. “Everyone was watching to see how you’d get around her, certainly after she tried to add Wolfsbane to the list of banned potions.”
Sirius hesitates. “Let’s say that I had a plan to take her down, but I didn’t have to use it. She brought a lot of this on herself by using an unforgivable on someone, which caused Amelia to set up surveillance on her office, and then she did it again.”
Augusta shakes her head in disbelief. “I take it you’ve spoken to Director Bones about this.”
“I did,” Sirius replies. “Mayweather was imperius’d to kill Remus, so I have some interest in the case, but not enough to have to recuse myself during her trial.”
Augusta smiles. “You’re going to enjoy seeing her go to Azkaban.”
“Just a bit,” Sirius admits.
“Maybe more than a bit,” Remus murmurs in agreement. “She really hates werewolves.”
“That’s not working out too well for her, is it?” Sirius asks smugly.
“No, it isn’t,” Remus replies with a grin.
Augusta laughs. “Your reputation is only going to grow after this, you know. People aren’t going to want to cross you.”
“I’m okay with that,” Sirius replies. “If people are afraid to cross me, they might decide it’s better to leave Harry alone.”
Augusta nods. “Having a reputation as a ruthless bastard may very well help you protect Harry, I would agree. I have a certain reputation myself when it comes to my Neville.”
Kreacher leads Mayweather into the parlor. “Master Black, your other guest has arrived.”
“Mr. Mayweather, it’s a pleasure to see you again,” Sirius says, standing to shake his hand.
He chuckles. “I think we’ve moved past formalities, don’t you think? Mike, please.”
“Mike, then,” Sirius replies. “Have a seat, do you want any tea?”
“That would be lovely, thanks,” Mayweather replies.
Sirius pours the tea, and then they all settle in. “How have you been, Mike?” Augusta asks.
“Better, now that I know Umbridge will be in Azkaban,” he admits. “I was feeling quite nervous about going to the Ministry before.”
“Sirius filled me in,” she replies. “It sounds like an absolute nightmare. I’ve never been subjected to the Imperius.”
Mayweather shakes his head. “It’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy, to feel someone else taking over your body. It was—“ He shudders. “I can understand why it’s considered an unforgivable curse.”
Augusta hums. “To be honest, from what I’ve seen, the killing curse is kinder. At least it’s quick and clean.”
“I can’t disagree,” Sirius says quietly. “I haven’t been subjected to the Imperius, but I have felt the Cruciatus before.” He shoots Augusta an apologetic look for the reminder.
She smiles faintly. “You were lucky.”
“I was,” Sirius agrees.
“When was that?” Remus asks, concerned.
“During the first war,” Sirius replies, not really wanting to talk about it. “In that moment, I wished that they would have just ended it cleanly.”
“I’m glad they didn’t,” Remus says softly.
Sirius shrugs. “So am I, but that’s not why we’re here. I have an omnibus bill based on the Ministry spending reports. I want to bring it as an omnibus, because I think we can slip a few things through without anyone raising a fuss.”
Mayweather leans forward. “Like what?”
“Like transferring the care of werewolves out of the Department of Magical Creatures and into the Department of Health,” Sirius says.
“Which completely reclassifies them,” Mayweather says. “They wouldn’t be able to introduce additional restrictive laws in the future.”
“They could perhaps trace infections, but they wouldn’t be able to use the classification as an excuse to restrict employment or education,” Remus agrees.
Mayweather shakes his head. “So, when you start introducing legislation on the protection of creatures…”
“I’ll be introducing separate legislation on werewolves, once people get used to the idea that werewolves are wizards and witches,” Sirius confirms.
Augusta is skimming his bill. “Who did you have helping you with this?”
“Percy Weasley provided a lot of the background research,” Sirius replies. “I think he did an excellent job. The Ministry is hiding a lot of their spending.”
“Some of your proposals are absolutely outrageous,” she comments in a mild voice. “You’re recommending tripling our education budget.”
Sirius smiles beatifically. “Children are our future.”
“Including support for those homeschooling their children,” Augusta continues, a smile tilting the corners of her mouth.
Sirius nods. “Many pureblood families choose to homeschool, as do those whose children may have health problems.”
“And a significant amount for the care of orphans,” Augusta adds.
“Can you blame me?” Sirius asks. “More resources should be set aside for those children.”
Augusta begins to chuckle. “In fact, the only provisions in this bill that don’t cost anything are those that will have a tremendous effect but that no one will remark upon because they have no effect on the budget.”
Sirius shrugs. “We’ll argue about the rest for months, most likely, and pass parts of the bill piecemeal. I designed it that way on purpose.”
“How long have you been working on this?” Mayweather asks.
“Since taking my seat,” Sirius admits. “I knew it would take work in order to make the world a better place for Harry.”
“For all our children,” Mayweather says. “Thank you, Sirius. I knew you were dedicated, but this—this lays out the groundwork for decades worth of work.”
“And a blueprint for our future strategy, including those who might be willing to support us in some things, if not all,” Augusta murmurs. “I had no idea.”
Sirius squares his jaw. “I have two goals. I am going to end Voldemort, so that Harry never has to deal with him again, and I’m going to remake this world into a place that will be a place where he can thrive.”
Mayweather smiles. “Then we have the same goals in mind. Remus?”
“I’ve been helping,” he admits. “I think it’s a solid plan.”
Augusta nods. “I have some people I would like to approach about a few of these provisions. Do you have any objection?”
Sirius shakes his head. “No. I plan on introducing it during the next session, and then we’ll have to really start talking about it. But I will need a second to pass the motion to consider it.”
“You have it,” Augusta says. “If nothing else, this will make debates much more interesting in the months and years to come.”
They talk about the bill until lunch time, when Kreacher brings a platter of tea sandwiches and crudités. It’s attractive, and Sirius says, “Kreacher, this looks excellent. Thank you very much.”
Kreacher tugs on his ears. “Kreacher happy to hear that, Master Black.”
“I think he might actually like you now,” Remus comments, clearly amused, once Kreacher pops away.
Sirius shrugs. “I think he likes being needed again.”
“An industrious house elf is a happy house elf,” Augusta says. “It’s important to treat them with kindness, of course, but one of the kindest things you can do for them is to keep them occupied.”
“So I’ve learned,” Sirius agrees. “I imagine being here alone, with nothing to do for so long, contributed to Kreacher’s problems. We’re keeping all of them busy now, though.”
Augusta and Mayweather take their leave after that, and Sirius is beginning to feel hopeful about the whole business. The kinds and extent of reforms that he wants to make will take years to come to fruition, if not decades,
But Sirius needs something to do while Harry is at school.
Remus blows out a breath, and a smile breaks out on his face. “We’re going to do this, Sirius.”
Sirius smiles back. “Yes, we are.”
The next Wizengamot session starts with Umbridge’s trial, and while Sirius isn’t upset that Umbridge will be brought to justice, he’ll be happy when the sessions don’t start out with trials of bigoted wankers.
It’s a distraction from the work that he really wants to do.
Sirius takes his seat and watches as the other members file in. As near as he can tell, just about everyone has shown up. Narcissa is sitting in Malfoy’s seat, filling in for her husband. Sirius wonders what her position is going to be, and whether she’ll show any support for him.
There might be a few points that the blood purists would support him on, but he hasn’t tried sussing that out yet.
That will become clear in the months and years to come. Besides, the bill might be introduced today, but the real debate won’t begin until the next session, after the members have a chance to review the bill.
Dumbledore calls the session to order, his tone grim. Sirius supposes they’ve been dealing with rather more trials in the last few months than probably in the last few years.
And they’ve been high profile trials, as well, exposing the seedy underbelly of the Ministry and some of the oldest families to the entire magical world.
Umbridge is just the Ministry’s latest failure.
“We start with the trial of Delores Umbridge,” Dumbledore announces.
There are murmurs around the chamber, and Sirius can’t tell whether they’re excited or aghast, or something in between.
Umbridge is brought into the chamber in chains and secured to the witness chair in the center of the floor.
Dumbledore sounds uncharacteristically stern when he says, “You are accused of using the Imperius Curse within the Ministry on an Auror acting in accordance with their duty. Casting an unforgivable curse carries a mandatory life sentence in Azkaban. How do you respond to the charges?”
Umbridge tilts her chin defiantly and clears her throat. “Not guilty.”
“Director Bones, please present the evidence against the accused,” Dumbledore says.
Sirius glances at Fudge, who appears pale and depressed. He can see that Umbridge is looking at him, too, probably waiting for him to save her. Sirius isn’t surprised that Dumbledore didn’t mention any charges of attempted blackmail. In order to charge her, Amelia would have to actually present the evidence, which would be an embarrassment to Fudge in and of itself. Plus, it’s superfluous, considering that if she’s found guilty, she’ll spend the rest of her life in Azkaban.
Director Bones rises. “We received an anonymous complaint that Undersecretary Umbridge had used the Imperius Curse on them, and they presented sufficient evidence to provide for a special warrant. I have the report here.”
Duplicates of the report appear in front of every member of the Wizengamot, and Sirius quickly skims over it.
“We placed the alert in accordance with the special warrant,” Amelia continues. “The alert was to automatically report any use of an unforgivable. I was concerned enough that Undersecretary Fudge might target another Ministry employee or sitting member of the Wizengamot, that I sent an Auror to her office to inform her that we would be putting an alert on her office. At that time, she cast the Imperius on the Auror and ordered him not to place the alert. A report was automatically generated, and I was informed of the Undersecretary’s actions. I immediately dispelled the curse, and placed Undersecretary Umbridge under arrest.”
A copy of the automatically generated report appears in front of the members of the Wizengamot, and even just skimming the report, it’s damning evidence.
The way that Amelia had set up the alert, there’s no chance that it was tampered with, or created a false report.
There are murmurs around the room as the rest of the Wizengamot members reach the same conclusion that Sirius has.
“Do you wish to change your plea now that the evidence against you has been presented?” Dumbledore asks solemnly.
Umbridge is looking around frantically, probably looking for support, but there’s none to be found. Fudge won’t even glance in her direction, and Sirius is grimly pleased. Although the blackmail material hadn’t been used precisely as he anticipated, it’s still working.
Umbridge’s expression twists into something ugly, “It was for their own good! I’m doing good work! Minister, surely you see that! Our interests are aligned.”
“I never authorized the use of an unforgivable curse!” Fudge snaps, anger blooming over his face.
Of course, that begs the question of what he did authorize, and Sirius knows he’s not the only one in the room wondering just that.
Umbridge screeches, “What happened to any means necessary?”
“That doesn’t include an unforgivable!” Fudge shouts. “You should have known that!”
And Fudge’s career is going down in flames around him, as evidenced by the growing murmurs going around the room. There will be a vote of no confidence soon, Sirius predicts, and a new minister appointed. Sirius doesn’t love the idea, since that Minister won’t owe Sirius any favors.
Sirius sighs. He’ll just have to figure out how to get one over on the new Minister.
“We’ll take a vote,” Dumbledore says, casting a silencing charm on Umbridge, and calling the Wizengamot to order. “A show of lit wands for a guilty verdict.”
The vote is overwhelmingly in favor of guilt, and the sentence is pre-determined. Umbridge’s mouth is open, probably to continue screeching, but the silencing charm hasn’t been removed yet. She’s dragged off by a couple of Aurors, and the attitude in the chamber is grim indeed.
After a few moments, Dumbledore says, “There is only one other order of business for the session today. Lord Black has an omnibus bill that he would like to introduce today for the Wizengamot’s consideration. Is there a second?”
Augusta stands. “I second.”
“Then the bill has been presented for consideration and debate for the next session,” Dumbledore says. “You’ve all received copies of the bill and the supporting documentation.”
The bill and supporting documentation is a tome, and Dumbledore adds, “It appears that Lord Black and Madame Longbottom have given this body a great deal of homework to do.”
There are chuckles, releasing some of the tension.
“Session is dismissed,” Dumbledore says.
Sirius stands, straightening his robes, making his way out of the chamber. Or, at least, he tries to leave, but he’s stopped by Greengrass. “Do you think that Fudge was behind her casting the Imperius?”
“I don’t think he discouraged her from using whatever means necessary,” Sirius says honestly. “Whether he knew how far she was willing to go or not, only the Minister knows.”
“There will be a vote of no confidence,” Greengrass says. “A new minister will need to be selected.”
Sirius doesn’t disagree, although he’s not sure why Greengrass is telling him this. “If they call for a vote, I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it.”
“And will you throw your hat in the ring as Minister?” Greengrass asks.
Sirius can’t help it, and he barks a laugh, not thinking that he’s serious. “What?”
“You’re from a pureblood family, and your politics have been interesting so far,” Greengrass says. “What do you say?”
Sirius bites back his first response, that he thinks Greengrass is insane, and he has no idea what he’s talking about. “I had no plans to throw my hat in the ring.”
Greengrass nods. “You lack ambition.”
“My only ambition is to ensure that my son is safe,” Sirius replies.
“Then the rumors are true,” Greengrass says. “You performed the magical adoption.”
“I believed it was the best way to keep him safe,” Sirius replies. “I didn’t want there to be any confusion about who was my heir.”
“No confusion now,” Greengrass comments. “I’m assuming that this bill has something to do with that.”
“A little bit,” Sirius says. “But I want to protect everyone, Greengrass. I respect the pureblood traditions. I believe in them. But there are others, too. There are the house elves who serve us, the werewolves who are of us, others who could be our allies if given the right incentive. I want to live and let live.”
Greengrass frowns. “You really mean that?”
“Why shouldn’t purebloods be able to continue practicing our rituals and our holidays?” Sirius asks. “I grew up with them. I plan on introducing Harry to the rituals and practices, too. There’s a lot of value that we shouldn’t abandon.”
“I thought you’d give those up,” Greengrass says.
“No, I just don’t think blood status should control our destinies, that’s all,” Sirius replies. “I believe in a more just society than that.”
Greengrass draws back. “You know, I believe you. Tell me, would you throw a marked Death Eater into Azkaban without proof of current misdeeds?”
Sirius hesitates. “I don’t know. If I had proof that they’d committed murder, there is no statue of limitation on that, but the mark doesn’t have to determine a person’s fate. They could choose a new path, and I would respect that.”
Greengrass nods. “Thank you, Lord Black.”
Sirius has a bad feeling about their conversation. Not that he thinks there will be renewed efforts on his life, although there may be, but the import of tit.
He catches up with Augusta in the lobby. “I just had a very interesting conversation with Mr. Greengrass.”
“Did you now?” she asks airily. “I apologize, but I really must get going. I’m late for my lunch.”
And Sirius is left with the firm conviction that there’s something brewing and he doesn’t know what it is.
“Are you okay?” Remus asks.
Sirius shakes his head. “I’m fine, but—there’s something going on, Moony, and I’ll be damned if I knew what it was.”
“We’ll keep an eye out for whatever it is,” Remus promises. “It will be fine. I thought the session went well.”
“Umbridge is in Azkaban where she belongs is the main thing,” Sirius agrees. “I don’t know what the reception for my bill will be like.”
Remus chuckles. “I imagine you’ll probably get contacted by various members over the next month or so, and I’m sure they’ll let you know.”
Sirius snorts. “Oh, I’m sure.”
“Come on, Pads, let’s go home,” Remus says. “We deserve a rest.”
“Absolutely,” Sirius replies.
There are a few weeks until the next session, and the hard work of drafting the bill is done. Maybe he and Remus can just coast for a while.
He and Remus have two weeks, it turns out. Two blissful weeks where all they have to do is be with each other, with frequent calls from Harry. Apparently, Ron has decided to show how much he doesn’t care about Hermione and Krum dating by chasing his own share of girls—badly.
“I think I would be better at getting a date,” Harry says.
“Of course you would be,” Sirius assures him. “You have me to advise you.”
Harry snorts. “Dad.”
“Did you, or did you not have a date to the Yule Ball?” Sirius asks.
“I think that was at least partially due my friendship with Lionel,” Harry counters.
“Who gave you advice on how to approach her?” Sirius demands. “Oh, wait. That was me.”
Remus is cracking up beside him.
Harry also starts laughing. “Maybe I should give the mirror to Ron and let you give him some advice.”
“I reserve my best advice for you,” Sirius counters. “Ron isn’t going to listen to me.”
“Probably not,” Harry agrees. “Although he should.”
Sirius smirks. “So, you admit that my advice was good.”
“I had a date for the Yule Ball, didn’t I?” Harry asks with a grin.
Sirius shakes his head. “What else is going on?”
“Nothing, really,” Harry says. “Classes are going well, and I finally feel like I’m getting completely caught up on Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. The study group is good.”
“Malfoy?” Sirius asks.
Harry shrugs. “Still helping with tutoring during Potions, and Snape just seems to be in a worse and worse mood now that everybody is doing pretty well with it. I swear, every time the entire class gets it right, he nearly blows his top. Even Draco seems to be getting into it.”
Sirius perks up at that. “Draco?”
Harry blinks, and then he flushes. “You know, Malfoy.”
“I do know that his last name is Malfoy,” Sirius replies, amused. “I didn’t realize that you were on a first name basis with him.”
“I’m not!” Harry protests hotly.
Sirius sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Harry, I love you, but let’s not get into the habit of lying to each other, okay? I don’t care if you’re getting closer to Draco.”
Harry flushes. “Sorry. I don’t—I’ve been hiding it from Ron and everybody else. I didn’t mean to lie.”
“I know you didn’t, pup,” Sirius says gently. “I just want you to know that you can be honest with me about anything and everything.”
Harry sighs. “I’m still getting used to that.”
“I know,” Sirius says. “So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, what do you want to tell me?”
Harry shifts. “I mentioned talking to his mom, and he said his mom had talked about me, after one of our study sessions and we just—got to talking.”
“Which led to you being on a first name basis,” Sirius comments.
“Probably because I said it was stupid not to be when we’re related,” Harry replies. “He kept calling me Potter, and I finally told him to call me Harry since I called his mum Cousin Cissy.”
Sirius feels his eyebrows go up. “She told you to call her that?”
“She said I could,” Harry replies defensively. “Is that not okay?”
“She’s fond of you,” Sirius says. “And she’s not fond of many people. That’s great, Harry.”
Harry’s smile turns pleased and proud. “Yeah?”
“She can teach you a lot,” Sirius says. “No one knows more about pure blood politics and traditions than she does.”
Harry hesitates. “It’s important that I know this stuff, right? Hermione thinks it’s stupid.”
“I would love to tell you that it’s stupid, Harry, but it’s not,” Sirius admits. “There are traditions among the pure blood families that are special, and there will always be those in our world who adhere to those traditions, and who hold those values. Being able to meet them where they are will mean as much to them as to meet a Muggle-born where they are.”
Harry is quiet for a long moment. “I guess I realized that I was kind of a dick to Draco when we first met.”
“Well, he did just insult your newest friend, so he was just as much of a dick,” Sirius points out. “Worry about what you do going forward.”
Harry smiles. “Good advice. You don’t think I’m crazy right? For being friendly with Malfoy?”
“If you throw a Quidditch game against Slytherin, I’ll worry,” Sirius replies. “But not before that.”
“No chance of that,” Harry replies. “I probably wouldn’t have even tried if we had Quidditch this year.”
“Well, small favors then,” Sirius replies. “I’m glad you’re making nice with Draco, Harry. He is family.”
Harry grimaces, and Sirius realizes that there might be something else there. “Not that you’re related to him, except very distantly,” he adds.
Harry rolls his eyes. “There’s nothing like that going on.”
“Good,” Sirius replies teasingly. “You’re not allowed to date until you’re 30.”
“You were the one advising me on how to get a date!” Harry protests, but there’s a smile on his face.
“For the Yule Ball, with someone you weren’t interested in anyway,” Sirius replies.
Harry gives him a look. “And you would have advised me differently if I had actually been interested in Therese?”
“Not at all,” Sirius replies. “That was solid advice all the way around.”
Harry laughs. “I have to go. I love you.”
“Love you too,” Sirius replies, and revels in the fact that it’s so easy to say. He’s never going take that for granted.
“Draco Malfoy,” Remus comments. “I never saw that coming.”
“There’s a thin line between love and hate, Moony, as we both well know,” Sirius replies.
But other than the calls from Harry, they have two quiet weeks, and then the invitations start rolling in. The problem is that they specify only Sirius, and he doesn’t want to leave his back undefended.
“I still think you should go,” Remus says.
“Without you?” Sirius asks. “I think not.”
Remus rolls his eyes. “Siri, you knew this was going to happen. There are going to be plenty of invitations that don’t include me.”
“But who’s going to watch my back?” Sirius argues. “We’re talking about going out among snakes.”
Remus gives him a look. “There will be plenty of invitations that don’t include me.”
“Maybe I don’t want to accept them,” Sirius replies.
“Maybe you don’t have a choice!” Remus argues heatedly. “Do I hate letting you enter the lion’s den alone? Yes, I do. But this is the job, Padfoot. We knew this was the job, and we took it on, because it was the best thing we could do for Harry, in James and Lily’s memory.”
Sirius hates that he can’t argue with that. “And if they curse me in the back?”
“Wear your armor, and activate your beacon,” Remus advises. “What’s a few more pureblood trials in the Wizengamot?”
Sirius shakes his head, and then he starts going to lunches. There’s the lunch at Augusta’s with people he generally considers allies, plus a dozen others. He makes nice and shakes hands and talks about his vision of a better world for his son.
Then there’s the lunch with Greengrass, and then the Notts, where he does much the same. The guest lists overlap somewhat, but not entirely, and Sirius finds himself explaining over and over again how he just wants to allow people to live their lives, as long as no one is harmed. He’s teaching Harry about the pureblood traditions, and he’s ensuring there’s room enough for both pureblood and Muggle-born, werewolves and house elves and centaurs and goblins.
Sirius has no idea if what he’s saying is making any difference at all until the fourth lunch, this one sponsored by someone who isn’t in the Wizengamot but is some relative of some sitting member, when Tiberius Ogden approaches him. “I admire what you’re doing, but I doubt it will make a difference,” he says.
Sirius frowns. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean.”
“Changing the world is a generational business,” Ogden says. “You might start the ball rolling, but it will be your son who finishes it, if it ever is.”
“I know that,” Sirius replies, feeling rather stung. “That’s all I ever wanted. I just want to get things started so that Harry isn’t working with a blank slate or worse when the time comes.”
Ogden nods. “Word has it that you’re shacked up with a werewolf.”
“Remus and I have been friends since we were sorted into Gryffindor together,” Sirius replies. “Anything beyond that is none of anyone’s business.”
Ogden nods. “Good. I’m glad you’re protective of him. I’ve heard your animagus form is that of a Grim.”
“I couldn’t tell you,” Sirius responds. “Considering that a Grim looks like a big, black dog, I’m pretty sure only death itself could tell.”
Ogden gives him a look. “Death, or the master thereof.”
Sirius gets the same chill he had when he realized what he had in the Resurrection Stone. “That’s not me.”
“No, but I have questions about the guardian of a boy who survived the death curse,” Ogden says. “You’re one to watch, as is your Harry.”
Sirius doesn’t like that idea. “What do you know about the Master of Death?”
“Some of us believe the old legends,” Ogden replies cagily. “Some of us keep track of bloodlines, and we know where a person comes from.”
Sirius swallows. “What do you know?”
“The Peverells are the ones who were rumored to be the subjects of those stories. Ignotus was the youngest, and James Potter was a direct descendent. There are people who believe that the person who reunites the Deathly Hallows will then become the Master of Death.”
Sirius knows the locations of two of the three, and he asks, “And what do they say about where those might be located?”
Ogden gives him a sharp look. “The rumors are that the invisibility cloak has been passed down through the Potter line. No one knows where the Resurrection Stone is. But the Elder Wand? Those rumors are that Grindelwald held it at one point. And the person who took it from him was the one who defeated him.”
Sirius nods, knowing what that means. Dumbledore would be the master of the Elder Wand, assuming no one has taken it off him.
He knows about the legends behind the Elder Wand, that if Harry was to ever master it, he would have to take it from its current master. In this case, it seems that would be Dumbledore.
And Sirius can’t think of a situation where Harry would so much as disarm Dumbledore, let alone defeat him.
“Well, there’s plenty of time yet,” Sirius says vaguely.
He has no idea what—if anything—he’ll tell Harry about this.
“I look forward to seeing what kind of man your son becomes,” Ogden says. “And there are some who believe that the Master of Death will become the leader who brings us into the future.”
Sirius definitely has no idea what to do with that, and he nods and moves on to another guest.
When he gets home that night, he tells Remus about the conversation. “Do you think he’s right?” Remus asks.
“I think he knows things,” Sirius replies. “And his guess is probably better than yours or mine. He’s been around for a good long while.”
Remus nods. “What are you going to tell Harry?”
“I’ll tell him everything,” Sirius replies. “But not until this summer. He’ll need to know it, but he’s doing well right now, and I don’t want to distract him.”
Remus voices his agreement. “What do you think is going on with all of this?”
“I have no bloody idea,” Sirius replies exasperated. “People keep asking me a lot of questions, but no one is actually telling me anything.”
Remus takes a deep breath. “You’re the head of one of the Sacred 28 houses, you know.”
Sirius rolls his eyes. “I’m well aware, thank you.”
“And you’ve been building coalitions in the Wizengamot.”
Sirius makes a “go on” motion with his hand. “Yes, also well aware.”
“And you just adopted the savior of the wizarding world,” Remus continues.
Sirius snorts. “I adopted my godson.”
“Yes, granted,” Remus replies. “But it means you have a lot of power.”
Sirius nods. “Okay, granted. I agree.”
“They might be vetting you to be the new Minister for Magic,” Remus comments.
Sirius starts laughing. “You can’t be serious.”
“Why not?” Remus asks. “Since you are always Sirius.”
He groans. “I walked right into that.”
“Nice to have you do it for a change,” Remus teases. “But that’s my take on the situation.”
Sirius blows out a breath. “It doesn’t really matter for the moment, does it? I’m still going to do my thing, and Harry is still going to be Harry.”
“As he should be, because he is very nearly perfect,” Remus says, a teasing note in his voice.
“Isn’t he, though?” Sirius says, and he’s not even kidding. He can’t help his adoration of Harry; Harry is the best thing in Sirius’ life.
He loves Remus, of course. But Harry is his life.
Remus chuckles. “Yeah, he is. I love him, too, you know.”
“I do know that,” Sirius replies. “If you didn’t, we wouldn’t work as well as we do.”
Remus kisses him. “Never mind about the rest of it. I might be wrong.”
“You might be,” Sirius says. “But somehow, I don’t think you are. At least, I think they’re evaluating me for the role. I’ll keep being honest with them about my intentions, and then they can do whatever they like.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Remus says. “For now, let’s go to bed.”
Sirius wants nothing more.
Sirius doesn’t call Harry before the session, knowing that he’s in class. He walks in, not quite knowing what to expect. He’s accepted a lot of invitations over the last month, but he’s mostly been talking about his vision for the future, and what he wants to accomplish, not about his bill or anything of substance.
He takes his seat and glances around the chamber uneasily. He can’t predict what happens next, and so far he’s been able to roll with the punches, but he’s concerned that he won’t be able to continue to do that.
Dumbledore opens the session with a hard look in Sirius’ direction, and he has no idea what that’s about. “The first order of business is an urgent motion from Augusta Longbottom.”
“I propose a vote of no confidence for Minister Fudge,” she says, rising.
Sirius takes a deep breath.
Tiberius Ogden rises. “Seconded.”
There’s a cacophony of voices after that, all of them calling for a vote of no confidence, but Sirius doesn’t add his voice. Not because he doesn’t think that Fudge shouldn’t be replaced, but because he’s worried about what’s happens after that.
The vote to oust Fudge carries with a majority of votes, and no question why. There had been a number of trials the last few months, and it makes Fudge appear ineffectual.
“Is there a vote for a new Minister?” Dumbledore asks.
And then Greengrass says, “I vote for Lord Black.”
That vote is quickly seconded, and the vote is nearly overwhelming. There are a few people who oppose or abstain, but Sirius carries the majority.
“Lord Black, do you accept the nomination?” Dumbledore asks, with a slightly sour expression on his face.
“I can’t see as how I have any choice but to accept,” Sirius replies. “My peers have determined that I am up to the task. I’ve spent the last month telling them that I will be an absolute bastard in ensuring a just world for my son. Apparently, they have decided that they agree with that vision. If they don’t, they at least know that I’ll fight them every step of the way.”
There are actually chuckles from those in attendance.
“I have vowed to protect Harry, but also all others that fall within our magical realm,” Sirius continues. “I will also tell you that if Harry calls me during a session, it’s an emergency, and I will always take his call. I believe in basic protections for magical creatures, and I will continue to push that agenda. I think that Voldemort isn’t as dead as we’d like, and I will do what I can to ensure he’s defeated entirely, finishing the work of James and Lily Potter. And no matter what else, I will ensure that everyone has the freedom to participate or not in whatever rituals and traditions they deem appropriate. For those of us from pureblood families, I know that we remember and honor those traditions and rituals, and I only wish there was a wider understanding.”
There’s a murmur of approval around the room, and Dumbledore says, “Those in favor of Lord Black taking the seat of the Minister for Magic, raise your lit wands.”
Sirius is fairly certain he’s gained even more votes with his little speech, and he has no idea what to do with that. Fudge slinks off, and Sirius thinks he should probably tell Fudge he knows exactly what the blackmail material really was before too much time has passed.
For himself, though, Sirius makes his way down from the Black seat to that for the Minister of Magic and he thinks there’s no way he hasn’t painted an even bigger target on his back.
He’s a little concerned that he won’t be as effective as Minister, and won’t be able to push his agenda through, but he figures that unlike Fudge, he doesn’t particularly want the position. If he gets ousted, he’ll retake his seat in the Wizengamot without a fuss.
But in the meantime, it’s going to mean a hell of a lot of work that he wasn’t really prepared to do.
“We are scheduled to debate the merits of Minister Black’s bill,” Dumbledore says slowly.
Sirius clears his throat. “I would really rather not. We should probably set up a schedule to debate the sections of the bill. It is long. But maybe we could start with section 33.”
Section 33 is the one that reclassifies werewolves from a problem for the Department of Magical Creatures to a problem for the Department of Health. There are a few other provisions, as well, all of them innocuous—he hopes.
“It doesn’t have any impact on the budget,” Sirius adds hopefully.
Augusta rises. “I’m willing to ratify that part of the bill without debate.”
“As am I,” Narcissa says in Lucius’ stead, thus derailing any argument.
Section 33 passes without comment, and Sirius breathes an internal sigh of relief. It’s not just who’s overseeing werewolves, it’s about who has access to their health information. And with that simple change, access to a werewolf’s status is changed from “anyone who has access to Ministry records” to “their personal healer.”
That will help Remus, of course, but also makes Britain a more attractive country for werewolves, and far less attractive for Greyback to continue his predation.
Sirius has managed to pass the most ambitious part of his agenda—reclassifying werewolves—with zero complaints.
He wonders if anyone realizes what he’s done. Augusta and Mayweather probably do, and Narcissa is brilliant, so Sirius doubts that she’s missed any of the nuances.
He’s mobbed by other members as soon as Dumbledore closes out the session, offering their congratulations—which Sirius doesn’t really want, considering that he hadn’t asked for the job in the first place—and requests.
Well, demands, really, at least until it comes to Amos Diggory.
Diggory shakes Sirius’ hand, and Sirius says, “I hear from Harry that your son is doing really well in the Triwizard Tournament. Congratulations, you must be very proud. We’re both cheering for him.”
Diggory beams. “Thank you, Minister Black. I hope you’ll consider attending the third task.”
Sirius smiles. “I wouldn’t miss it. In fact, I’ll even make sure I’m wearing black and gold, no matter how much it pains me.”
Diggory laughs. “Not as much as it would pain me to wear red and gold, I assure you.”
After that, Sirius decides that he needs a buffer, and he makes a beeline for Narcissa. “Cousin,” he says.
She smiles, a sparkle in her eyes like he hasn’t seen for a very long time. “Cousin. You’ve come a long way.”
“From convicted murderer to Minister of Magic?” Sirius asks. “I would say so. Please tell me that you didn’t have anything to do with this.”
Her smile widens. “Me? Now, why would I have had anything to do with this.”
“I certainly didn’t campaign for it,” Sirius replies, knowing that he sounds a little sour.
“Didn’t you?” Narcissa asks. “You introduced an ambitious omnibus bill that covers a number of reforms, on both sides of the aisle. You were instrumental in the capture of Barty Crouch, Jr., and a number of other marked Death Eaters. You adopted the Boy-Who-Lived, thus putting you in control of someone others view as the savior of our world.”
Sirius frowns. “I don’t control Harry.”
“Nonetheless, you are his parent, and you’ve announced that you’ll happily go to war over him.”
“I will go to war for Harry, which is what I’ve been telling everyone for months now,” Sirius says, exasperated. “That includes going to war with them.”
Narcissa laughs. “I think you underestimate the attractiveness of a person with a single-minded focus. Besides, after Fudge, you’re refreshingly direct.”
Sirius rolls his eyes. “There were better choices.”
“There really weren’t,” Narcissa says with asperity. “The other name that kept being mentioned was Rufus Scrimgeour, and he’s never been a friend to pureblood families.”
Sirius grimaces. “Has he been a friend to anyone but a narrow crowd?”
“No,” Narcissa replies with a smile. “Which is why he wasn’t nominated. He doesn’t have any friends.”
Sirius spots Amelia heading towards him. “Director Bones have anything to do with this?”
Narcissa pats him on the shoulder. “Relax, Siri. You have a platform to make changes from now.”
“I was going to spend the summer with Harry in France,” Sirius says sourly.
Narcissa laughs. “You still can. If you think Fudge lifted a finger in the summers, you’re still insane.”
She leaves him then, and Amelia approaches, looking like the cat who swallowed the canary. “Minister Black.”
“You campaigned for this,” he says.
She shrugs unrepentantly. “You were the best candidate out of the bunch.”
Sirius closes his eyes. “I doubt that.”
“Then why did you take the position?” Amelia asks.
Sirius realizes that he’s caught. “Because I couldn’t think of anyone I’d trust, unless it was you. Or Augusta.”
“Too bad for you that we both realized that and decided to throw your hat in the ring instead,” Amelia says. “Besides, if I was Minister, you’d have a new director of the DMLE, and I can assure you there is no one I would trust in the position at the moment, not with the threat of Voldemort looming.”
Sirius finds that he can’t argue with that. “Fine. I’m still going to be a complete bastard.”
“Good,” Amelia replies. “That way, I know you’re not under the Imperius.”
Mayweather approaches him next, his hand outstretched. “Thank you,” he says with tears in his eyes.
Sirius shakes his head. “Don’t thank me for doing something that should have been done a long time ago, Mike.”
Mayweather shakes his head. “Maybe so, but no one has had the will or the desire to do so—or the means of doing so.”
Sirius knows that there haven’t been many people with the political capital to do what he’s doing. “I’m just happy that we could get it done.”
He sees Kingsley Shacklebolt approaching him. “What can I do for you, Auror Shacklebolt?”
“I’m your personal security, Minister Black,” he replies.
“I don’t need personal security,” Sirius objects.
Shacklebolt raises his eyebrows. “And how many times have you been attacked?”
“That’s not—“ Sirius realizes that he needs to change tactics. “I don’t need personal security while I’m at Black Manor. I appreciate your assistance at all other times.”
Shacklebolt smiles. “I thought you’d be more difficult about it.”
“Oh, I probably will be at some point, but let’s not start off on the wrong foot,” Sirius says. “I have absolutely no desire to use Fudge’s office until it’s been thoroughly cleaned. Is there another place where I can have a private conversation?”
Shacklebolt nods. “Of course, Minister Black. Follow me.”
Sirius is relieved when Remus falls into step beside him as he leaves the chamber. “I hate this, for the record,” Sirius whispers.
“You wanted to change the world, Padfoot,” Remus whispers back. “Just focus on that, and what you can do for Harry.”
Sirius glances at him. “You didn’t sign up for this.”
“Bite your tongue,” Remus says mildly. “I am with you until the end, Sirius. No matter what happens.”
Sirius smiles. “And if it comes out?”
“You could deny it.”
“Nope,” Sirius says immediately. “Try again.”
“Then I guess you shock the magical world,” Remus replies. “Are you going to call Harry?”
“That would be the next step,” Sirius replies. “I asked Shacklebolt to help us find a private place for the call.”
“And here we are,” Shacklebolt says, opening a door for them. “It’s an empty office, so you should have complete privacy.”
Sirius smiles, remembering his grandfather’s lessons in civility. “Thank you for your assistance, Kingsley. I very much appreciate it.”
He chuckles. “You’re being far less difficult than I thought you’d be.”
“Give me time,” Sirius replies wryly.
They finally have a closed door between themselves and the rest of the world, and Sirius grabs Remus and pulls him in close. “This was not in the fucking plan, Moony.”
“That’s okay,” Remus soothes. “It doesn’t matter. We are going to get through this. Better than that, we’re going to do so many good things, okay? Do you know what you did today, Sirius? You did more for werewolves today than has been done in decades, just by getting one little thing changed in the sneakiest way possible.”
Sirius grins. “That was the best prank, wasn’t it?”
“It was completely brilliant,” Remus agrees. “You did great.”
Sirius sighs. “You know what this means, right?”
Remus raises his eyebrows. “What?”
“Percy Weasley is going to end up assisting the Minister of Magic, and he’s going to be insufferable about it.”
Remus laughs. “Call Harry. He deserves to hear this from you.”
Sirius takes a deep breath. “Right.” He opens the communication mirror, and waits for Harry to answer.
Harry answers after a few long seconds. “Sorry, I was in Transfiguration. I told Professor McGonagall that it was an emergency.”
“I’m sorry, pup. You can tell her that it was my fault. I had some news that I didn’t want you to hear from anyone other than me,” Sirius says.
Harry frowns. “I’m in an empty classroom now. What’s going on? Is Uncle Moony okay?”
“I’m fine,” Remus says, leaning over his shoulder. “We’re both fine, love.”
Harry breaks out into a relieved smile. “Did you get the bill passed?”
“We got section 33 passed,” Sirius replies.
Harry has been really interested in the legislation, more interested than Sirius anticipated, as had Hermione, and so Harry knows immediately what Sirius is referring to. “Without debate?”
“Narcissa seconded the motion to pass it,” Sirius says. “With both her and Augusta’s support, it passed without issue. It helped that it didn’t change the budget.”
Harry laughs delightedly. “That’s brilliant!” He pauses. “But you would have waited until classes were over to call me for that.”
“They called for a vote of no confidence for Minister Fudge,” Sirius continues. “It passed.”
Harry nods slowly. “Okay. You didn’t really like Fudge anyway, right? That’s not a big deal.”
“They voted in a new Minister for Magic,” Sirius replies.
“Okay, unless they voted in Voldemort, I have no idea what’s going on right now,” Harry replies. “You’re scaring me, Dad.”
“What he’s refusing to say is that they voted for him. Overwhelmingly,” Remus says, since Sirius can’t get the words past his lips.
Harry breaks out in a grin. “Really? Did you accept?”
“It seemed like the right thing to do at the time,” Sirius replies. “I’m having second thoughts now.”
Harry shakes his head. “No, don’t do that. You’re brilliant, and the world should experience that. Just think, Dad! You can prank the whole country.”
Sirius is relieved by Harry’s wholehearted acceptance, and he laughs, loving the idea. “I’m accepting any and all ideas.”
“Ask the Weasley twins,” Harry counters. “I have my hands full here. But hey! You could make Mrs. Weasley ecstatic and offer them Ministry positions. Dual Pranksters in Chief.”
Sirius laughs. “Magical Britain would be a happier place.”
“Dad, I’m really proud of you,” Harry says seriously. “You made a huge change in how Britain views werewolves, even if no one realizes it yet. And you’re Minister for Magic!”
“Against my will!” Sirius protests.
“You wouldn’t have accepted the position if it was against your will,” Harry replies. “I know you.”
Sirius smiles. “So, you’re not mad?”
“Mad that you’re in charge?” Harry asks. “Honestly, I feel a lot safer knowing that you are.”
Sirius is incredibly relieved to hear that from Harry. “Good. That’s what this is all about, Harry—making sure you’re safe.”
“Anything else happen that I need to know about?” Harry asks cheerfully.
“I promised Amos Diggory that we’d attend the third task at Hogwarts after I asked about his son, and told him we were cheering him on,” Sirius replies.
Harry brightens up at that. “It will be good to see you guys again before the end of the school year.” Then his face falls. “Wait, does this mean we won’t be able to go to France this summer?”
“Pup, I’m rich, remember?” Sirius asks, amused. “I can take an international portkey whenever I need to come back to London. We should spend some time at Black Manor, too, and you’ll want to keep up with your training and studies.”
Harry hesitates. “But won’t you have duties as Minister of Magic?”
“I already made it clear that you’re my priority, Harry,” Sirius assures him. “I’m doing this for you, but it won’t matter one bit if I’m not spending time with you. It’s one thing while you’re at school, but I want to spend as much time with you as possible. It won’t be that long until you’re all grown up, and I missed enough time with you already.”
Harry flushes. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Nothing to thank me for,” Sirius replies. “It’s entirely selfish on my part, I assure you.”
“How did the rest of the session go?” Harry asks.
Sirius shrugs, and it’s Remus who answers. “That was about the only order of business today. Sirius insisted on not debating the rest of the bill, other than section 33.”
Harry smiles. “I’m really happy for you, Uncle Moony.”
Remus smiles gently. “Thank you, Harry. That means a lot to hear.”
“I knew that Padfoot would take care of you just as well as he’s taken care of me,” Harry says. “Are you guys going to come to another Hogwarts weekend before the last task?”
“Do you want us to come?” Sirius asks.
Harry hesitates. “Yeah, I do. There’s something I wanted to talk to you guys about, but I’d rather do it in person.”
Sirius frowns. “Is it something serious?”
“It’s nothing bad or dangerous or anything like that,” Harry is quick to assure them. “I just—want your advice on something.”
Sirius nods. “Of course, pup. You know we’d do anything for you.”
“Including taking a job that you’ll probably end up hating?” Harry teases.
Sirius laughs at that. “Yeah, even that, although I don’t think anybody will be surprised when I’m an absolute bastard.”
Harry hesitates. “Are you going to visit your grandfather’s portrait to tell him? Because I think you should.”
Sirius shakes his head. “I don’t know, Harry. It’s not really my grandfather.”
“No, but it’s an echo, right?” Harry asks. “We’ve been talking about magical portraits in Arithmancy, and what it means, and how they’re made. I wish—I mean, I know it wouldn’t actually be them, but the professor said that most people believe that the conversations you have with a magical portrait are like those you’d have with the actual person.”
Sirius takes a deep breath. “And why do you think I should tell him, Harry?”
“Because I think he’d probably tell you that he’s proud of you, and I think you might need to hear it.”
“When did you get so smart?” Sirius asks.
Harry gives him a crooked grin. “About the same time that you told me I should really start paying attention to academics.”
“You were already smart,” Sirius replies. “But I can tell that you’re getting wiser.”
Harry shrugs, and Sirius has noticed that he sometimes has trouble taking a compliment. “I should probably go.”
Sirius nods. “Of course, Harry. Sorry to keep you.”
“Don’t apologize,” Harry replies quickly. “I’m glad you called, and I’m glad I heard it from you and not The Daily Prophet or somewhere else.”
“Of course,” Sirius replies. “Love you.”
“Love you, Dad, love you, Uncle Moony,” Harry says, and then ends the call.
“I fucking love that kid,” Sirius says fervently. “How did we get this lucky, Moony?”
Remus says, “He’s James and Lily combined, and with a dash of something else that’s all his own. But I think he’s right. You should talk to your grandfather.”
“My grandfather is dead,” Sirius counters.
“Sure, but that doesn’t change how you will feel if you talk to him and he tells you he’s proud of you,” Remus counters.
“And if he doesn’t?” Sirius asks.
“Then you never have to visit the old codger again,” Remus says easily. “Put him in the attic. You know Harry and I will help.”
Sirius laughs. “Right, well, tonight once we’re back, I suppose. In the meantime, we have to get out of the Ministry first.”
“That’s what Shacklebolt is for,” Remus reminds him. “You do realize that we’ll probably have to put the farmhouse in France under a Fidelius in order to provide the kind of security we need in order to refuse Auror protection.”
Sirius sighs. “I do know.”
They emerge from the empty office, and Sirius says, “Thank you, Auror Shacklebolt. I wanted to be sure that Harry heard the news from me and not some other source.”
Shacklebolt nods. “Of course, Lord Black. Where are you headed to now?”
“To our London house, and then we’ll floo to Black Manor, which is unplottable,” Sirius replies. “What works best for you? Should we let you know when we’ll be back in London?”
“If you could provide me with a copy of your schedule, that would be appreciated,” Shacklebolt replies. “And if I’m not available, I’ll ensure that an Auror I trust is watching your back.”
Sirius nods. “Thank you. I’ll have my secretary send you a copy of my schedule.”
And that means he’s going to have to talk to Percy, which means calling him to Grimmauld Place, since he doesn’t want to bring Percy to Black Manor, and he doesn’t want to show up at the Burrow unannounced.
“Is that Percy Weasley?” Shacklebolt asks. “I heard he was doing some research for you.”
Sirius sighs. “Yes, probably. I can’t very well not use him. He’s very efficient, even if I want to kill him frequently.”
Shacklebolt actually cracks a smile at that. “I remember him. I think it’s remarkable he’s lasted as long as he has.”
“We mostly communicate by owl,” Sirius replies.
Shacklebolt’s smile widens. “You’re not going to be able to do that anymore.”
“Well, he’s an officious little swot,” Remus comments. “Which means he’ll likely be an excellent buffer from other people.”
Sirius grins at that. “Oh, good point, Moony! I can stick him in an office and let him chase people off. That’s brilliant.”
“I can’t wait to see this,” Shacklebolt mutters, not quite under his breath.
“As my son said, now I can prank the entire country,” Sirius says with a laugh. “And it’s not like the Wizengamot didn’t know exactly what they were getting themselves into. I was honest about that.”
“You were,” Shacklebolt replies. “You’re probably the most honest politician I’ve ever met.”
“Oh, that’s where you’re wrong, my friend,” Sirius replies. “I’m not a politician.”
Shacklebolt gives him a look. “And yet, here you are.”
“Only because Augusta Longbottom and Amelia Bones didn’t want the job. Either of them would have been better at it, but they threw my name into the ring.”
“You were the best choice for the job,” Shacklebolt says, maybe a little reluctantly. “And you never heard me say that.”
Sirius nods. “I’ll have Percy owl you with a schedule as soon as possible.”
“I can’t wait,” Shacklebolt mutters.
Sirius laughs, and they floo from the Ministry to Grimmauld Place, and then to Black Manor.
And then he decides to rip the bandaid off and just visit his grandfather’s portrait.
If nothing else, he knows that Harry and Remus are right. He’ll keep wondering until he knows how his grandfather will respond, and if his grandfather doesn’t respond well, then he can pack the portrait off to the attic.
Arcturus gives him a look as Sirius enters the portrait gallery. “Congratulations.”
Sirius blinks. “Excuse me?”
“You don’t think we talk to each other?” Arcturus asks, amused. “Phineas has a copy of his portrait here, and one at Hogwarts, and the rumor is that Dumbledore isn’t terribly pleased.”
Sirius shrugs. “Who cares what that old man thinks?”
Arcturus smiles approvingly. “You have finally broken free of his influence, I see.”
“I’m doing this for Harry,” Sirius replies fiercely. “I told them that I would be a ruthless bastard in making the world a better place for my son, and they voted for me anyway.”
Arcturus’ smile widens. “Then you gained the position honestly. They chose you to lead them because they believe in the direction you’re going. I’m proud of you.”
Harry had been right. Those words coming from Arcturus mean a lot, and Sirius feels something inside him loosen and unknot. “Harry said I could prank the whole world.”
“Your son is a smart lad,” Arcturus replies.
“He’s wise beyond his years,” Sirius says. “He was the one who said I should tell you.”
“I’m glad that you did,” Arcturus says. “Tell me how you managed it.”
Sirius laughs. “Pretty much by accident I assure you. I was apparently campaigning without knowing it because Augusta didn’t want the role as Minister for Magic.”
Arcturus snorts. “That sounds like her. I will never know why she wasn’t sorted into Slytherin. She has the mind for it.”
“But she has the fierceness of a lion,” Sirius replies. “As you know.”
Arcturus nods. “I do know. I suspect that you could have very easily sorted into Slytherin if you wanted, as could Harry.”
“I’m sure he could have, but he would have had a miserable time in Slytherin,” Sirius replies.
“Snakes protect their own, lad,” Arcturus reminds him.
“Unless they’re turning on each other in the common room,” Sirius replies, knowing exactly how that works. “Come on, Grandfather. I have to believe that the lions encouraged Harry’s better qualities.”
Arcturus hums. “Perhaps. And perhaps young Draco would have been better served as well, although I’m not sure there was ever a Malfoy sorted into any other house.”
Sirius realizes that he should have been mining the Black portraits for information. “What do you know about Harry’s situation in Hogwarts?”
“Other than the fact he’s doing quite well?” Arcturus asks, amused. “Nothing that he can’t tell you himself when you speak with him next.”
Sirius realizes that his grandfather is definitely not going to spy on Harry for him. “Okay, I can ask Harry when I see him on the next Hogsmeade weekend.”
Arcturus raises his eyebrows. “You’ve been going to Hogsmeades weekends.”
“I missed almost thirteen years,” Sirius says. “I want to see my kid more than a couple of times per year.”
Arcturus’ face softens. “I wish I’d made more of an effort on your behalf, my boy. Your parents blocked me from seeing you, but I could have tried harder.”
He could have, Sirius knows, but it does neither of them any good to say that. Arcturus is dead, and there’s no changing the past. Sirius loves his grandfather, and he wants his approval, and he knows Harry had been right about him visiting. “Water under the bridge.”
“Don’t fool yourself, my boy,” Arcturus says. “You have an ambitious plan for the future, and being the Minister of Magic will give you a better chance to achieve those goals.”
Sirius is a little surprised at how supportive his grandfather is being, but Arcturus had always been ambitious, and while he’d never sought the position of Minister for himself, Sirius knows he’d been a close advisor to several, with or without a title to go along with it.
“Thank you,” he finally says. “I appreciate that.”
“I don’t know the players as I once did, but if you need or want any advice, I’d be happy to do so—in complete confidence,” Arcturus offers.
Sirius smiles. “And I appreciate that, too.”
“Tell Harry hello when you see him next,” Arcturus says.
Sirius bids his farewell and sends an owl to Percy, requesting his presence at Grimmauld Place the following day at 11 am sharp. That should give Percy enough time to make arrangements to be there.
“Did you tell him why you wanted a meeting?” Remus asks after the owl has flown off.
Sirius smirks. “No, I didn’t.”
“You know he’ll have heard the news and work himself into a tizzy.” Remus sounds more amused than disapproving.
Sirius shrugs, unrepentant. “It will be good for him—motivational, you know? Being the secretary to the Minister of Magic fits with his ambitions. If he wants it badly enough, he’ll come in and request the job, rather than assuming he already has it.”
“Fair enough,” Remus replies. “I’d hate for his ego to get too large.”
“So would I.” Sirius takes a deep breath. “But for now, I think I’d really like to get something to eat, and then go to bed.”
“We can do that,” Remus replies, pulling Sirius into a hug. “You’re going to do great.”
Sirius isn’t entirely sure about that, but he’s going to do his best. That might end up being good enough.