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...
2nd November 1981
A lone figure slowly shuffled down the street as the first golden rays reached the horizon, hands in his pockets, shoulders slumped. From his bloodshot eyes, one would have thought that he had been walking through the entire night. A Muggle car rounded the corner before him, and without conscious thought, Sirius turned left into an alley.
Fatigue seemed to finally catch up with him a few steps past a rusty dumpster. He sat down heavily, hugged his knees to his chest and rested his back against the wall without caring how dirty it was.
It was like a surreal nightmare. He simply couldn't associate old Prongs with the horribly charred body he had found in Godric's Hollow. How could James, whom he had joked and laughed with, be dead?
Lily. Beautiful Lily.
Sirius was glad he hadn't seen her dead body; he wanted to remember her as the beautiful woman she had been, not as a mass of burned flesh. He had known that more people would most likely have died before the war was over, people he cared about. But he hadn't expected it to be James and Lily, not as well protected as they had been.
Sirius snorted bitterly. Convincing them to use Pettigrew as Secret-Keeper was the greatest mistake of his life.
At the thought of that filthy rat, anger and hate rose in him like twin monsters and made him bare his teeth in a soundless snarl. The rage and sense of betrayal cut through the fog of sorrow, clearing his mind.
Sirius took a deep breath to calm himself. James and Lily were dead and he couldn't help them. He could, however, take care of their son as he had promised them. Unfortunately, thanks to the little stunt Pettigrew had pulled, he was now most likely wanted for murder. And on top of all that, the Order thought that he had been James and Lily's Secret-Keeper. Once word of that reached the Ministry, they would send Aurors after him.
Damn, what a mess! he thought, rubbing his eyes. The only ones who knew the truth were James, Lily, Pettigrew and himself. James and Lily were dead, and no one would believe him. Which meant that he had to track down and capture Pettigrew in order to prove his innocence.
Sirius stood and straightened his aching back, wondering if he should attempt to contact Albus Dumbledore first. But did he stand any chance at convincing Albus? There was no way of proving his innocence without Pettigrew; Aurors - even Apprentices like Sirius - were trained in Occlumency, and the effect of truth serums like Veritaserum could be fought off in much the same manner as the Imperius Curse. No, he had to find Pettigrew.
But first, he'd check on Harry.
Far from London, near a small town named Ottery St. Catchpole, a rat missing a toe was hiding under a bush. The object of Peter's attention was a wizard house, four stories tall, built so crazily he was convinced magic was the only thing that kept it standing. He'd heard rumours it had been designed by an architect just a few months before he ended up permanently in St. Mungo's Psychiatric Ward, and built by a contractor just before he went on a drug-induced rampage in Diagon Alley.
Yet, the Weasleys were a prominent pureblood family and staunch supporters of Dumbledore and his ilk. In other words, the last place anyone would look for a Death Eater. It fit perfectly into Peter Pettigrew's plan.
Hopefully, it would work better than the previous one.
So intently was Peter studying the Burrow, that he didn't hear the rustling of leaves behind him. The crazy giggling caught his attention, however. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw what resembled a potato with legs flashing him a toothy grin. Blinking in surprise, it took a moment for Peter to realize that it was a garden-gnome he was looking at.
Stupid pests. Born insane, and they don't get any saner as they grow older.
The gnome, however, was acting in a most peculiar manner. It licked its lips and began stepping closer, making cooing sounds that were apparently meant to soothe what it thought was a rat. Peter wasn't sure what to make of it. The gnome was very close now... it was slowly reaching out a hand toward him, staring at Peter with an expression that looked both eager and... hungry.
Peter broke into a run; narrowly avoiding the gnome's grasping hand. The damn thing wanted to eat him! He ran as fast as he could, around a tree with a sling dangling from a branch, all the time hearing the sounds of running footsteps behind him. Suddenly another gnome seemed to grow right out of the ground in front of him, and with a terrified squeak Peter darted to the left.
Not for the first time Peter cursed his Animagus form. As a rat, his face was so close to the ground he couldn't see the bloody gnome-holes before it was too late! He felt something pulling at his tail fleetingly, but thankfully it was quickly gone. Suddenly a shadow fell on him, and without thinking he veered to the right. Seconds later a gnome landed on its chest where he had just been.
Peter saw several more gnomes popping up of the ground, shouting something that sounded like: "Yum, yum!" Adrenalin pumped through his veins until he thought they would surly burst, as he ran in a zigzag pattern through the garden. If he could just reach the kitchen entrance he'd be safe.
Great Merlin, this is it," he thought panicky as he avoided a gnome with a particularly nasty grin. I can already see the headlines: 'Death Eater Peter Pettigrew eaten by garden-gnomes!' The Daily Prophet will love it!
The kitchen was just a few yards away, and Peter tried to quicken the already breakneck pace. He risked a glance over his shoulder and squealed in terror when he saw a gnome ("Yum, yum!") so close he could actually see the salvia dripping from its chin. The eager look in its eyes sent chills down Peter's spine.
Then suddenly he was running along the rough wooden floor of the kitchen.
The first thing he realized as he slid to a halt was that the kitchen was occupied by a short, plump woman who had to be Mrs Weasley, and a wide eyed kid who was obviously her son. The mother gave the gnomes a single look of disgust, and with a flick of her wand, they went flying back into the garden.
"I've told Arthur the garden needs to be de-gnomed," the woman muttered as she went back to making breakfast. "Merlin knows why he finds those pests so funny..."
Peter wasn't listening to her, however; he was keeping an eye on her son, who was staring intensely at him. Glancing at his mother, the boy slid down from the chair and kneeled in front of Peter.
Slowly, a smile spread across his face. "Can I keep you?" he whispered.
Peter barely hesitated before nodding his head vigorously. Originally his plan had been to just hide in the house, but those gnomes... He was more than ready to swallow the humiliation of being a pet if it kept him from being eaten.
Giggling, young Percy Weasley gathered the rat up with both hands.
Next morning, Petunia Dursley would most likely scream in horror, something which had a lot to do with the huge, black dog that were currently sitting in her (no longer) perfectly well-kept flower bed. However, the dog hadn't picked that exact spot in order to wreak maximum havoc on her roses, but rather because it allowed him to look through a window into the kitchen while being shielded from view by a conveniently placed bush.
After arriving in Privet Drive, the first thing Sirius had done had been to cast a subtle Exposing Charm, revealing the cobweb of blood-red light that surrounded number four. Obviously magical wards - the strongest he had ever seen - and rooted in some sort of blood magic. He had spent a while studying it, but soon realized that the wards had been tailored toward intent/. No one who wished harm upon the inhabitants would be able to /see the house, far less enter it. Sirius didn't want ot harm anyone, of course, and could as such just walk in. However, if he knew Albus Dumbledore right, the old man had probably arranged for someone to keep an eye on number four too. Hence his present form as Padfoot.
His original plan had just been to sneak up to a window in the gathering dusk, and peek in to see if Harry was all right. The problem was that Harry most certainly wasn't all right.
In the kitchen, Petunia was doting on a cubby baby with blonde curls that was obviously her son, feeding him spoonful after spoonful of baby food. To Sirius, it appeared that the fat boy didn't have a stomach, but a gaping maw.
"There, Duddykins!" Petunia cooed, as her son swallowed another mouthful. "Want another one? Do you? Of course you do!"
She completely ignored the other baby who was sitting on the other side of the table, whimpering pitifully and staring with green eyes at the food that disappeared in his cousin's greedy mouth.
Well? Are you finished feeding that blimp, yet? Sirius thought angrily. There's another kid in the room, you know!
Harry whimpered a little louder, and his Aunt's lips thinned as she gave him a sharp glance over her shoulder, before returning her attention to the blimp. Sirius let out a growl.
After a few more minutes, it appeared that Harry's cousin had finally had enough, giving a tremendous burp. His Aunt doted some more, before picking him up (not without difficulty) and carried him to the living room, presumably to a playpen.
About bloody time! Going to feed Harry, now?
Seconds later, Petunia came marching back into the kitchen. To Sirius' amazement, however, she grabbed a box of chicken soup, opened it and poured the contents in a bowl. Sirius looked confused at her. She wasn't possibly going to-
His suspicion was confirmed when Petunia put down the bowl with the stone-cold soup on the table with a bang.
Sirius was almost too shocked and angry to form a coherent thought. She- she is going to feed him that?
"Well?" Petunia snapped, standing there with a spoonful of the stuff beside Harry. "Are you going to eat or not?"
Harry eyed the spoon dubiously a moment before accepting. Sirius watched his face go from tentative to disgusted in an eyeblink, and then he spat the cold soup out, protesting loudly.
"You ungrateful brat!" Petunia shrieked. "Look what you did! Soup and spittle all over my kitchen table!"
Enraged, she tried to force another spoonful down Harry's throat, who of course just protested louder.
"Fine, then!" Petunia spat, dropping the spoon back into the bowl. "Go without food, for all I care!"
Then, to Sirius' utter disbelief, she grabbed the wailing Harry and hauled him out into the hall - he could still see them through the open kitchen door - opened the door to a cupboard and literally tossed the child inside. Slamming the door shut, she stalked back into the kitchen.
Sirius had seen enough. More than enough. What on Earth had Albus been thinking, sending Harry to stay with these people? With a growl, he shifted back to human form, no longer caring if anyone saw him. Furiously, he tore open the backdoor leading to the kitchen and strode inside.
"Who are you? What are you doing in my kitchen?" Petunia exclaimed in shock at seeing the stranger. Then suddenly she blanched when she caught sight of the wand Sirius now held, and the expression on his face.
"The name is Sirius Black," he snarled at her. "And I have come for Harry Potter."
"He's in the cupboard under the stairs," Petunia said nervously and backed away until she bumped into the kitchen bench.
"I already know that, thank you very much," Sirius snarled, brushing past her out to the hall, disgusted that she would surrender a baby to a stranger without a fight. Petunia's husband was apparently not home, and even if he had been he could not have stopped Sirius. He nearly ripped the door to the cupboard of the hinges.
"Pa'foot!" Harry shrieked in delight at seeing his godfather.
"There, there. All will be fine, Harry," Sirius said and gently gathered Harry up in his arms. He wiped away tears from Harry's face, while Harry himself tried to put his tiny arms around Sirius' neck.
He walked back into the kitchen and scowled at Petunia. "Is this a way to treat a child?" he demanded angrily. "What's the matter with you?"
"He isn't my child," Petunia shot back. "Now leave before I call the police."
Sirius was sorely tempted to hex the woman into oblivion, but the rational side of him assumed that the wards wouldn't let him. He made to leave, but on impulse he first opened the refrigerator and took out one of the boxes of baby food. Staring at Petunia and silently daring her to say anything, he put the box in his pocket. And then he was out the door.
Feeling the chilly air and lacking a blanket, Sirius took off his jacket and gently wrapped Harry in it. When he attempted to Disapparate, however, he cringed from the feeling of ice-cold water flowing down his neck.
Anti-Disapparating wards, Sirius thought. He looked down at Harry, who stared curiously back with brilliant green eyes.
"Hang on there, Emeralds," Sirius said to him. "We have to move fast now."
And with that he broke into a run, easily jumping over the fence and continuing down the street. In his arms, Harry giggled at the new game. Sirius didn't think it any funny. The wards had probably triggered an alarm, which meant that Albus had already been warned that someone had attempted to Disapparate inside number four.
Panting slightly, he stopped after a couple hundred yards and tried again. With a crack they were gone.
At Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore was working late. Even in times at war (although this particular war had abruptly ended) he was still Headmaster, and he still had paperwork to do. He had been in session with the Wizengamot throughout most of the day, planning mop-up operations against Voldemort's Death Eaters. After that the Minister of Magic had wanted a meeting, asking for all kinds of advice. All this had the consequence of creating a huge backlog where boring paperwork was concerned.
Albus sighed as he put away one parchment and began writing on another. He hadn't even had time to grieve properly over James and Lily. Well, at least their son were safe and-
The deep, vibrating sound from a huge gong tore Albus out of his musings and startled the napping paintings of former Headmasters and -mistresses awake. Fear gripped his heart, as he dropped the quill and stood up abruptly. Someone had just attempted to Disapparate inside the wards protecting the Dursley's house.
Quickly he brought out his wand. James and Lily were dead; he couldn't allow anything to happen to Harry, too.
"Fawkes, please take me to Privet Drive," Albus said to his phoenix familiar.
The gold and crimson bird took off from his perch and landed on the desk, half turning and offering his tail to the ancient wizard. Albus grasped it, and they both disappeared in a flash of fire. For an immeasurably small moment it seemed like they were flying through an enormous firestorm, but the fire didn't burn either of them. Then Albus suddenly felt his feet smack down on hard asphalt.
Immediately he had his wand in guard-position. His sharp, blue eyes surveyed the surrounding area, while Fawkes landed on a branch in a nearby tree. Everything seemed to be quiet, except... There was a lone figure standing further down the street. Just as Albus saw him, however, he Disapparated.
Albus hurried down the street to the spot where he had seen the stranger. With a whispered incarnation he cast a Tracking Charm. A faint purple mist appeared for a fleeting moment before it vanished, and his shoulders sagged with disappointment. Whoever the stranger was, he had apparently charmed his clothes with a Diffusion Spell, dispelling the magical residue left from Disapparating and making it impossible to track him.
Dreading the worst, Albus made his way back to number four. He knocked twice and entered before anyone had time to answer, surprising Petunia Dursley in the hall.
"Pro- Professor Dumbledore!" she gasped and blanched at the thought of having a fully-grown and trained wizard in her home.
"Where's Harry?" Albus asked without preamble. He didn't have time for her bigotry now.
"He's gone," Petunia said, sniffing. "Some stranger walked in here and took him. It's not my fault! He was one of your kind, and I will not have it, I tell you-!"
Albus' heart fell. "Can you describe him?" he said, interrupting what was promising to be an impressive tirade.
Petunia grimaced. "Tall, black-haired- said his name was Sirius Black."
Albus closed his eyes and put thumb and forefinger at the bridge of his nose. Oh, Sirius. Wasn't it enough that you betrayed us all? Wasn't it enough that you killed three of your friends? Did you have to kidnap Harry, too? He shuddered at the thought of what a Death Eater might do to a child.
"If that's all, would you kindly leave my home?" Petunia said rudely.
Albus gave her a tired look. "I shall. Good bye, Petunia."
Back out on the street, the ancient wizard gave number four one last look. He had to search through his books on blood magic again, to see if there was anything he had overlooked. Sirius must obviously somehow have exploited a hole or weakness in the wards.
But first he had to inform the Ministry and ask them to organize a manhunt.
At Land's End, a few miles west of Penzance, stands a ruinous old shack. Its windows are all boarded up and every entrance sealed. When the wind blows one can hear eerie creaking sounds, as if the building is ready to collapse any moment. Even if Muggle Repelling Charms hadn't covered every inch of it, no Muggle in his right mind would be foolish enough to enter.
Sirius Black smiled for the first time in days as he took in the sight of the shack. One of the many things one learned during Auror training was how to set up safe houses. Sirius, having become a bit paranoid as the war escalated and recalling fond memories of the Shrieking Shack, had taken the liberty of setting up a safe house no one else but he knew about.
The smile suddenly fell from his face. This was where he had been planning to hide as James and Lily's Secret-Keeper. Why couldn't he have gone through with the original plan? But Sirius had never been able to leave 'good enough' alone...
Harry made a gurgling sound. Sirius smiled bitterly at him. "Don't worry, kid. I may have failed your parents, but I'm not going to fail you."
Determined, he strode up to the shack, and once the Locking Charms were certain Sirius was really Sirius, the door swung up by itself. He snapped his fingers and instantly a number of gas lamps lit up. Inside, the shack was a far cry from its less than perfect exterior.
The light from the lamps revealed a small but cosy living room. A sofa and one armchair were arranged around a coffee table, and a second armchair stood in front of a fireplace where a crackling fire already burned. Shelves with Sirius' favourite books lined one wall to the right, while the door to the kitchen could be seen to the left. Stairs lead up to the second floor with two bedrooms and a bathroom.
"Welcome to Padfoot's Den," Sirius said to Harry with forced cheerfulness. He sat Harry down in the armchair beside the table, removing his jacket. "Bet you want something to eat, and I'm not talking about cold chicken soup."
"Ma?" Harry suddenly said, and Sirius froze in place. Gulping against the sudden constriction in his chest, he looked at his godson whom looked back with innocent green eyes.
"Ma?" Harry repeated.
Sirius knelt beside him. "Mom... isn't here right now," he said carefully, trying to keep his voice level.
Harry frowned in confusion. "Da?" he said, hopefully. Sirius almost broke down at seeing the expression in his face.
"Dad isn't here either, Harry," he choked out.
Harry looked disappointed for a moment, but then brightened. "Pa'foot!"
"That's right. I'm here, and I'm going to stay with you," Sirius whispered. Who cared if he was a wanted man? He had his godson and that was all that mattered. One way or the other, he was going to take care of Harry, just like he had promised James and Lily.