AU. What if Sirius Black had Disapparated right after Pettigrew framed him, and proceeded to kidnap Harry from the Durselys? Harry grows up with Sirius while hiding from former Death Eaters, the Mi...
With a small pop of displaced air, Severus Snape materialized in the Dark Lord's audience chamber, his mind cloaked in cold darkness like the Occlumency Master he was. He adjusted his mask as his eyes swept across the room. The Dark Lord's entire Inner Circle seemed to be present, but the Dark Lord himself weren't there. Most unusual; he wasn't in the habit of summoning people and then disappearing. Severus catalogued the thought away for later and turned to other tasks. With the Inner Circle here, there was a good possibility he'd manage to extract some valuable information with Legilimency that he could take back to Dumbledore and the Order.
Merely a year earlier, the thought of betraying the Dark Lord in such a manner would have been ridiculous in the extreme, but events had conspired against him. Last year, he had been enjoying a glass of firewhisky at a shady pub called Hog's Head when he had overheard a genuine prophecy being made.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...
Naturally, that had made him stop in his tracks. Out of the corner of his eye he had seen Dumbledore staring at a woman in shock, and Severus had tried to get closer, strolling unsteadily like a man who'd had too much to drink.
Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...
But trice-damned barkeeper hadn't been fooled, and had - quite literally - thrown him out of the pub. Like the obedient servant of the Dark Lord he had been, Severus had hurried to the Dark Lord's headquarters and told him everything. July came and went, and a little research revealed that there were two sets of parents that fit the description in the prophecy; the Longbottoms and - to Severus' utter horror - the Potters.
Potter had once saved the life of Severus, and - never mind the circumstances surrounding the deed - created a bond between them. Loathsome as the thought was, Severus now owed Potter and, by extension, Potter's son a life debt. A life debt was old and powerful magic, and it had to be paid back. It was as unavoidable as an Unbreakable Vow.
Thus, Severus had betrayed his Lord and Master, and returned to the Light. To the loosing side. For a year now he had supplied Dumbledore and his Order of the Phoenix with information from the Dark Lord's Inner Circle, hoping it would keep his archenemy and his son safe.
Suddenly, he caught sight of someone who wasn't supposed to be there; had he not been a master of Occlumency, his eyes would have narrowed. As it was, he merely gave the masked figure a casual glance, although his mind was working intensely. He had been a member of the Dark Lord's Inner Circle long enough to recognize the members by their demeanour, but this one was unknown to him. The man (Severus was sure it was a man) stood half hidden in shadows with his shoulders hunched and face downcast, completely lacking the aura of confidence and ruthlessness of most long-time Death Eaters, or the mindless indifference of an Imperius-victim. Severus was just about to use his skills as a Legilimens to take a look at the man's surface thoughts when he was interrupted.
"Ah, Severus," Bellatrix Lestrange said lazily and sauntered over to him. "It's been a while. What brings you here?"
"Bella," Severus nodded in greeting. Even back when he had been a Death Eater for real, he had never liked the torture-happy Lestranges. Yet, there were rumours that she was a Legilimens herself, so she gave the woman his complete attention.
"Our Master summoned me for a task that require my skills as a Potion Master," Severus explained. He glanced the empty throne-like chair. "But I see he isn't present?"
"There was an unexpected development. One of our agents," she gestured toward the unknown man who stiffened at being the subject of a conversation, "brought back some rather interesting information."
"Indeed?" Severus said, sounding politely curious. Just a Death Eater who had been summoned, only to find his master gone when he arrived.
Lestrange's eyes, which usually burned with rabid dedication whenever someone mentioned the Dark Lord, took on an almost feverish gleam. "Yes, our little rat revealed where the Potters' hideout was."
Severus gave no outward indication of being surprised. On the inside, however, his mind was spinning. Revealed? That was impossible!
"Really?" Severus said casually. "I've heard rumours that the Potters were hiding under the Fidelius Charm."
He could tell Lestrange were grinning beneath her mask. "Too bad they picked our agent to be the Secret-Keeper. The Dark Lord left ten minutes ago along with three of us to deal with them personally."
Again Severus didn't react in any other way than politely crocking a brow, but his thoughts raced. Potter couldn't be dead, because if he were, Severus would be oath-sworn to protect his brat for the rest of his life!
Come on, Potter; you've escaped the Dark Lord's grasp trice, do it a fourth time!"
Severus checked his mental defences and willed himself to be calm and analytical; he couldn't make a slip here of all places. Potter and Black had been virtually inseparable at Hogwarts. Every time one of them had tormented him, he could be sure the other would be close by, gloating at Severus' misfortune. The thought of one of them betraying the other was laughable. And yet...
Although Potter and Black had been brothers in everything but blood at Hogwarts, Black had shown he was capable of killing many years ago when he tricked Severus into going to the Shrieking Shack... where the werewolf Lupin had been waiting for him. And then there was Black's family to consider, which was... rather pro-Dark. True, Black had made it clear on many occasions how much he loathed his family, but throughout the years Severus had seen stronger men than him bow to pressure from family and friends.
It was a testament to his Occlumency skills that he didn't show any of the panic swelling in him. If the Dark Lord had left over ten minutes ago to kill the Potters himself, then they were most probably already dead, including their son. And if that were the case, what would Severus do then? How could he possibly repay his debt? Would he have to wander the Earth as a restless ghost after he died?
Severus was torn out of his thoughts by a series of sharp cracks as three figures Apparated into the chamber. Instantly he knew that something was wrong. Rockwood had somehow lost his mask and had numb horror written across his entire face. Rodolphus Lestrange and young Crouch both had their masks on, but they looked dishevelled and their eyes shone with silent desperation.
"What's wrong?" Bellatrix demanded sharply. "Where's the Dark Lord?"
"The Dark Lord is... gone," her husband said heavily, as if he didn't want to believe it. "Destroyed by the Killing Curse."
There was a moment of utter and complete silence. Severus' mind spun. Dead? he thought disbelievingly. Did the prophecy come true? But Potter's son is barely one year old!
"Destroyed? But- How-? What-?" Bellatrix babbled in horror. Suddenly she leapt forward, seized Crouch's robes and shook him. "/What happened?/"
"It was their son!" Crouch gasped in fear.
Again, an almost surreal silence descended upon the room. If not for the shock Severus felt, he would have found the incredulous looks that came Crouch's way funny.
"Their /son?/" Bellatrix spluttered. "Are you insane? How can a baby fire a Killing Curse?"
"He didn't fire it," Rockwood said tiredly, who finally seemed to have gathered his wits again. "It was the Dark Lord's own curse that rebounded from the child."
Bellatrix let go of Crouch and shock his head in denial. "Impossible. The Killing Curse... it can't be done."
"We saw it," Rockwood continued distractedly. "I saw the Dark Lord duel and kill the father, and then he went upstairs. Through the broken window I could hear the mother begging for mercy, so he killed her, too, of course. Then he tried to kill the child." Rockwood rubbed his face wearily with a hand. "I heard him say the incarnation, Bella. Next thing there was a blast and we heard the Dark Lord screaming for help. We ran inside just in time to se his body... disintegrate. There was nothing left."
Severus finally gave up maintaining his mental shields and shook his head warily. The Dark Lord was dead. Potter was dead, but his son was still alive.
A series of pops and cracks were heard as Death Eaters realized that it was best to leave. Without the Dark Lord's protection, they would almost certainly be captured by the Ministry. The smart ones would try to arrange an alibi, while the stupid ones would just run as far as they could. Sirius Black (Severus was sure it was Black) was the first to leave, quickly followed by Lucius Malfoy, Igor Karkaroff, Walden Macnair...
"No! Come back!" Bellatrix shrieked. "The Dark Lord isn't dead! He's an immortal! Come back, you cowards!"
Severus watched in a kind of detached amusement as Bellatrix raged, while Rockwood took the opportunity to Disapparate, too.
"Barty!" she said, seizing his robes yet again. "You are with me, right?" Barty nodded jerkily, and she turned pleading eyes to him. "Severus?"
"I'm sorry, Bella," Severus snarled and didn't sound at all sorry. "But if the Dark Lord truly is gone, then I'm afraid this is the place where our paths part." And with that he Disapparated to report to Dumbledore. They had to rescue Potter's son, and quickly!
"Oh, no! No, no, no!"
If anyone had seen the handsome, black-haired young man sprinting toward the smoking wreckage of what had once been Number Six Grafton Road, they would surly have thought him insane - and it had nothing at all to do with the fact that he had just stepped off a flying motorbike.
"James!" Sirius called in mounting dread as he sprinted toward the remnants of the cottage. "Lily!"
He dashed through what had once been the entrance, almost stumbling in a stump of charred wood. Coughing from the smoke, his eyes darted desperately around, searching for signs of life. The Dark Mark, which the Death Eaters always sent up after having murdered someone, was not hovering above him. That had to mean that James and Lily had fought them off, Sirius thought desperately, grasping at any hope he could find. It had to. He had already lost too many friends in this cursed war; he could not loose another two. And Harry!
Following the horrible stench of burned flesh, and hoping to God it was a Death Eater, Sirius began frantically heaving away rubble. In a matter of seconds, he had uncovered a charred body, completely unrecognisable from the fire. Trembling and gagging, Sirius reached for the man's right hand, hoping that he wouldn't find what he thought he'd find.
James' wand was there.
"Oh, James!" Sirius cried and sat down in the rubble, clutching the wand to his chest. Tears flowed from his eyes and he didn't even try to stop them. He would have recognized that wand anywhere. Old Prongs, Sirius' unofficial brother, was gone. Dead. Memories of their time at Hogwarts flashed past his inner eye; pranks, detentions, adventures with Lupin in his werewolf-form, more pranks, James dating Lily - Lily!
Suddenly he was on his feet again. "Lily!" he called out. Perhaps James had managed to buy his wife and their son enough time to get away. Perhaps that was why there was no sign of the Dark Mark.
"Lily, where are you? It's Sirius!"
"Over here!" came a voice, but it wasn't Lily's. This one was much deeper.
"Hagrid!" Sirius exclaimed as the giant of a man appeared through the smoke. "Quick, help me find Lily and Harry. She-"
"Lily's gone," Hagrid said sorrowfully, dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief the size of a towel. For the second time that evening, Sirius felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of him. Lily too. Slowly, the half-giant opened a massive first, revealing Lily's wand.
"Oh, God," Sirius croaked. Trembling he took the wand. "Oh God, this can't be true."
Still sniffing, Hagrid patted Sirius awkwardly on the shoulder and nearly knocked him over.
"Harry," Sirius whispered harshly, still reeling from the shock. "What about Harry?"
Some of the sorrow seemed to lift from Hagrid's eyes. "Oh, he's alright. Got him right here," he said and opened his coat. In one of the half-giant's enormous pockets rested a tiny bundle wrapped in a blanket. Little Harry's face was just peeking out, his eyes closed and sound asleep. But it was to the baby's forehead that Sirius' attention was drawn; a gash in the shape of a lightning bolt marred his features, surrounded by coagulated blood.
Sirius carefully touched the gash with feather light fingers. Harry whimpered in his sleep. "How did he get that?" he asked quietly.
"That's where the Killing Curse struck him."
Sirius blinked and looked up at the half-giant. "/What/ did you say?"
"Professor Snape just reported to Dumbledore," Hagrid explained. "Said he heard You-Know-Who had killed James and Lily, but when he tried to murder Harry, the Killing Curse rebounded. You-Know-Who is dead, Sirius."
Sirius was well aware he was gaping like an idiot, but couldn't help it. "Rebounded," he repeated dumbly. "Voldemort dead."
Hagrid cringed at the mention of Voldemort's name. "Anyways, Professor Dumbledore is expecting me with Harry so I have to get going."
"Going?" Sirius said surprised. "Where?"
"To one of the Order's safe houses," Hagrid said and buttoned up his coat. "I am to await further orders there, but I heard Professor Dumbledore mention something about Lily's sister."
"Petunia Dursley?" Sirius exclaimed, angry now. Who did the old man think he was? "Are you crazy? Lily would barely acknowledge that woman as family! And besides I am Harry's godfather!"
"I have my orders," Hagrid said flatly. "Professor Dumbledore knows what he's doing."
"Hagrid, please! I'll take care of him-"
"I can't do that, Sirius."
Sirius opened his mouth to argue further, but closed it again. Hagrid was far too loyal to Dumbledore to be swayed. He would have to speak with Dumbledore himself to figure out what was going on.
"Alright," he said dully. "Look, take my motorbike. You'll get there faster with it. Besides I don't need it anymore."
Hagrid regarded him for a moment, and then nodded. "Don't worry about Harry; he'll be fine. And take care."
Sirius watched as his motorbike carried Hagrid into the darkness, leaving him alone with the dead bodies of James and Lily Potter. Surveying the remnants of the cottage one last time, a grim determination began to set in. Only one person could have caused all this. Only one filthy traitor could have lead Voldemort to this place.
Clutching the two wands in his left hand, Sirius grinned ferally. Time to go rat-hunting!
1st November 1981
Peter Pettigrew pressed his back against the dirty ally wall and tried to calm his furiously beating heart. His breath came in swallow gasps, and it wasn't as much from running as from the fear that ran though his veins like poison. So far everything was going according to plan, he reminded himself. He had simply waited in Diagon Alley in rat-form until Sirus showed up, then transformed and 'accidentally' let himself be seen. Predictably, Sirius had followed him out into Muggle London, obviously with murder on his mind. So far, so good. However, the worst remained.
With a trembling hand, he aimed his wand at his left index finger.
"Discerpo," he whispered, and gasped in pain as the Severing Curse cut the finger off. Whimpering, he muttered a quick healing charm to stop the bleeding. After wiping his hand on his robes, he gingerly picked up the severed finger.
Quick, now. Sirius couldn't be far away, and they had to be surrounded by people for his plan to work. With one last deep breath, he strode out into the street.
Muggles hurried past him, most without giving him a second glance, even though he was dressed oddly by their standards. Peter craned his neck in an effort to locate his one-time friend, and whished not for the first time that he had been a bit taller. He tried to swallow his mounting panic and remain calm. Sirius would surly see him before he found Sirius! What if Sirius simply stunned him, or-
Peter whirled around at the enraged shout. Sirius Black was making his way toward him with his face consorted in rage, roughly shoving Muggles out of the way as he went. Their eyes met, and Peter froze at what he saw there. This was the man who had suffered the ultimate betrayal, a man who would stop at nothing to extract revenge, one who was hell-bent on murder.
He's going to kill me!
Peter's mouth opened but not a sound escaped.
Oh, God! He's going to kill me! The plan! The plan!
Sirius was merely a few steps away, aiming his wand at Peter when he finally managed to cut through the numbness.
"James and Lily, Sirius!" Peter screamed at the top of his lungs. "How could you?"
Sirius blinked in surprise and confusion, and so did many Muggles.
But Peter didn't waste time; fear focused his mind like it never had before. Quickly he dropped the severed finger, grasped the wand hidden behind his back tighter and whispered: "Validus Ara! Reducto!" And then he triggered his Animagus-transformation.
The first spell brought up an invisible barrier of magic around him; the strongest shield charm Peter knew how to make.
The second, fuelled by Peter's panic, blew an enormous crater in the street and killed twelve Muggles in the process.
Sirius stared stunned at the gaping crater right in front of him. He had sensed Pettigrew casting a shield charm and reflexively cast one himself. Several Muggles hadn't been that lucky; at least a dozen of them were lying unmoving around the crater, their limbs twisted in unnatural angles. The explosion had been powerful enough to rupture the sewer pipes; he could see rats scurrying around in panic.
An unstoppable laugh forced itself out of Sirius' throat. Peter Pettigrew, a mediocre wizard at best, had outsmarted Sirius Black, the most promising Auror Apprentice in many years. Twice, even! First by transferring suspicion from himself to Remus Lupin, and now this. Muggles all around him were screaming in panic, and he stood there laughing until his stomach hurt.
He was still laughing when multiple cracks and pops announced the arrival of personnel from the Department of Magical Catastrophes. Wiping away tears of laughter, he looked at an Obliviator who stared open-mouthed at the crater. His colleague was frantically shouting orders into a communications-mirror.
"We need more Obliviators to contain this situation! I haven't seen anything like this since You-Know-Who bombed the Ministry!" He stopped briefly to listen to the reply. "Look, just send everything you have, okay? And alert the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee; we're going to need some pretty good explanations-"
Sirius felt a hand on his shoulder. "Mr Black?"
He turned to find a youngish man with messy brown hair nervously aiming a wand at him. Not an Auror - Aurors were in short supply, thanks to Voldemort - but rather someone from the Magical Law Enforcement Squad.
"Mr Black, I'll have to ask you to come with me," the man said.
For a moment Sirius just stared dully at him, the earlier attack of insane mirth having worn out. He wondered perhaps if he should do as the man said... with both Lily and old Prongs dead, what did any of it matter anymore? His thoughts were interrupted by a sharp crack behind him and a barked order:
Definitely an Auror. Without thinking Sirius Disapparated.
Right bellow where Sirius had been standing just a second earlier, inside a sewer pipe, a rat named Peter Pettigrew ran in blind terror. Had he been in human form he would have cried. As it was, he had to settle for squeaking fitfully. Even though his ears were still ringing from the explosion, he had heard Sirius' laughter.
Sirius was still alive.
Picking an intersection on random he ran in a panic. This was not supposed to happen! Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew were supposed to kill each other in a duel. After all, no one looks for a dead man. But instead Sirius had managed to raise a shield in time and survived.
What now? What now?
Sirius would surly come after him, and so would Peter's former colleagues among the Death Eaters. If Sirius told the Ministry about his Animagus-form, they'd surly put two and two together and send Aurors after him, too. And that didn't even take into the consideration Dumbledore's Order of the Phoenix.
Poor, poor Peter Pettigrew!