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...
3rd November 1981
Sirius awoke the next day in the armchair with sunlight streaming in through the windows. He rubbed his eyes and yawned, careful not to disturb Harry, who was still sleeping in his lap. Gently he lifted Harry up, rose, and put him back down in the armchair. Sirius had a lot of things to do today.
Padfoot's Den was stocked with enough supplies for three months, but after they ran out, he would need his gold from Gringotts. He still had some money left from Uncle Alphard. Combined with his savings, it should last them a few years if they were careful. They wouldn't need much, after all. Mostly food and occasionally new clothing - he glanced at the now empty box of baby food on the table - and more of that stuff. The problem was that he couldn't go to Gringotts as Sirius Black if he wanted to stay out of Azkaban.
He conjured up a life-sized mirror and regarded himself. A shame to hide such a handsome chap, he thought, grinning.
First he transfigured his hair colour into light brown, like Remus', and shortened it from its usual shoulder length. Next he changed his eye colour from grey into a deep chocolate brown. He worked on his facial features some more with an assortment of charms and spells, and when he was done even his critical eye had to admit he was completely unrecognisable. Gone was Sirius Black, feared mass-murderer, and replaced with a rather plain and ordinary looking fellow.
Sirius nodded in satisfaction. With a gesture of his wand, the faded and torn jeans he wore became a lot more respectable, and his leather jacket turned into a dark grey coat. He glanced at Harry and was surprised to see him sitting in the armchair, staring at Sirius in delight.
"You like magic, don't you?" Sirius smiled. Harry merely giggled.
Sirius transfigured an old jumper he had found in a closet into a sling carrier and slipped it over his head and one shoulder, creating a pocket to hold Harry in. He lifted Harry up and gently put him into the sling carrier. Then he put his coat on and slung an empty bag over his shoulder. A simple illusion prevented anyone from seeing the funny bulge.
"Alright, down there?" Sirius asked.
"Great. Let's go then."
On impulse he first charmed the empty box of baby food into a keyword-activated Portkey and stuck it in his pocket. One 'crack' later, Sirius and Harry had vanished from Padfoot's Den, and reappeared in the small alley behind the Leaky Cauldron. Stepping over an overturned trashcan, Sirius brought out his wand and frowned at the brick wall.
"Let's see; three up, two across... that's the one."
He tapped the right brick thrice with his wand and stepped through the archway that formed. Diagon Alley was overflowing with wizards and witches of all ages, and half of the snippets of conversations he overheard had to do with Harry and the fall of Voldemort. During the war, few had ventured outside their homes for any length of time; it seemed as if the entire wizarding population of Britain were making up for it now.
Sirius absently put a hand over the invisible bulge on his coat. It hadn't really sunk in, yet. Harry had survived the unblockable Killing Curse. Harry had managed what the greatest wizards and witches of the age had failed in; defeating the invincible Voldemort. How? How was that possible?
He shook off those thoughts. There would be time enough for thinking about that once they returned to Padfoot's Den. Now he had to focus on his objective. They passed a newspaper stand and Sirius took the time to pay the boy behind the desk five Knuts for a copy of the /Daily Prophet/. All space on the front page had been devoted to two magnificent headlines:
/Confirmed: The Dark Lord Defeated by Harry Potter/
And further down, but with just as large types:
/Death Eater Sirius Black kidnaps the Boy-Who-Lived/
So I'm a Death Eater, now, Sirius thought resignedly. That means the Ministry knows I was supposed to be James and Lily's Secret-Keeper.
Sirius folded the newspaper and stuck it in his pocket; he'd read it later. He swiftly manoeuvred through the milling crowd, heading for Gringotts. The goblin guarding the front doors of burnished bronze gave him no more but a fleeting glance. In the entrance chamber, there were two more goblins whom opened the silver doors to the main hall for him. He swiftly walked over to the nearest free goblin accountant and handed him the key.
"I wish to have all of my gold in vault 713 exchanged for British pounds and make a complete withdrawal."
The goblin crocked a brow. "A rather unusual request, sir. Is there anything about our services you are not satisfied with?"
"Not at all. I merely have some unfinished business in the Muggle-world to take care off."
"I see." The goblin examined the key for a moment. "Well, all the charms are intact, so everything seems to be in order."
He tapped the key twice against a magical device that looked like a golden dish someone had put upside down, before handing the key back to Sirius. The device spat out a thin strip of paper from a crack, which the goblin tore off and read:
"16,874 gallons, 14 sickles and 6 knuts," the goblin stated and looked at Sirius. "Correct?"
"Er- Yes, that sounds about right."
A metal drawer opened magically, and the goblin took out several wads of bills and put them on the desk. Sirius unzipped the bag he had taken with him and stuffed the Muggle money inside, idly wondering why Muggles insisted on using paper instead of coins. Closing the bag, he slung it over his shoulder.
"No sudden movements, Black."
Sirius froze as his heart skipped a beat. He knew that voice.
"Keep your hands in the air, where I can see them," the voice growled. "Now!"
Sirius raised his hands, swallowing against his suddenly dry throat. Damn, why did it have to be him?
"Turn around, slowly."
He complied, slowly turning, to come face to face with one of the last persons in the world he wanted to see right now, right after Voldemort and Dumbledore; a hideously scarred man in his late forties who was the Ministry of Magic's top Auror... Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody.
Trying to calm his pounding heart, Sirius absently noted another Auror standing beside Moody; a young witch with curly, blonde hair who looked fresh out of the Auror Academy. She had her wand in guard position, and her ice-blue eyes were constantly darting from place to place, seeking danger. Probably on her first assignment. Behind them, other Gringotts customers were nervously paying attention.
"Er- Hello, Alastor," Sirius said. Moody had both his normal and his magical eye trained on him, and that was unnerving to say the least. Especially since there was a look in his normal one which Sirius had never seen there before; a mix of loathing, sadness and a sense of betrayal.
Moody didn't return the greeting. "Forgot that you mentioned the number of your vault to Dumbledore a couple years ago, did you?" he said slowly. "You make a poor Death Eater, Black."
"Look, Alastor-" Sirius began.
"Open your coat," Moody growled.
Moody's normal eye seemed to harden even more. "I said: Open your bloody coat!"
Sirius gulped. It had probably been Moody's magical eye that had alerted him to Harry's presence, otherwise they would probably just have stunned or disarmed Sirius from behind. Thank Merlin for small favours; even something as harmless as 'expelliarmus' could very well magically cripple someone as young as Harry. Nervously, Sirius did as he had been asked. Little Harry looked curiously out of the opening with bright green eyes.
Moody nodded in grim satisfaction. "Lesson number one, Palmer," he said, obviously addressing the other Auror. "Death Eaters are not above taking hostages."
Palmer's eyes stopped at Sirius. Her expression didn't change, but she gave a small nod.
"Harry is not my hostage, Alastor!" Sirius said through clenshed teeth. "And I am not a Death Eater. I was never James and Lily's Secret-Keeper, Pettigrew was."
"Ah, and since Pettigrew is now dead, there's no one to dispute that, is there? How convenient." The sound of utter disgust in Moody's voice made Sirius cringe. "And I'm sure you have a wonderful story for explaining why you kidnapped the boy, too."
"Save it," Moody snapped. "Hand over the boy. Carefully."
"Listen to me!" Sirius pleaded, making one last desperate attempt to convince the Auror. "Why in Merlin's name would I betray James? You know I've always loathed the Dark Arts; why would I choose to become a Death Eater?"
Moody stared at him expressionlessly and for a moment Sirius allowed himself to hope. Then suddenly the hope was brutally extinguished when the Auror's face set grimly.
"I'll ask one more time," Moody said deceptively softly. "Hand over the boy."
Sirius' shoulders sagged in defeat. Closing his eyes, he whispered: "I'm sorry, James."
At the mention of the phrase, the Portkey in Sirius' pocket activated. He felt the familiar tug behind his navel, and then Harry squealed in delight as they vanished in a swirl of colour. Sirius nearly lost his footing when they landed in a deserted area thirty miles further north. Quickly he reached in his pocket for the Portkey and threw it away, then he immediately Disapparated before Moody could trace the Portkey-signature.
"By the time I managed to figure out the Portkey's destination, the bastard had already Disapparated," Alastor said, finishing his report.
"I see," Albus said warily. He looked at the dozen or so witches and wizards sitting around the table; Alastor Moody, of course, Severus Snape with his trademark scowl, a sad-looking Hagrid, a very, very, very depressed Remus Lupin... there were so few of them left. The war had cut their numbers down to less than half. A few years more and the Order of the Phoenix would have been exterminated.
And by Merlin, do I feel old!
Albus sighed. "At least we know Harry is alive. And from Sirius Black's actions I think we can surmise that he wish to keep him that way for the time being."
"Probably so he can teach the boy the Dark Arts," Alastor growled. "The treacherous /bastard!/"
"I still can't believe it!" Hagrid said angrily and hammered a massive first into the table, which groaned dangerously. "That Sirius of all people would turn to the Dark!"
"Me neither," Albus said wearily. "I don't think anyone of us saw this coming."
"I did," Remus said softly. It was the first sound anyone had heard from the werewolf since the meeting began, and every head turned toward him.
"What do you mean?" Minerva demanded
Remus' face twisted into a grimace as if he was in pain. "I suspected he was the spy that was feeding Voldemort information," he said without meeting anyone's eyes.
"Then why in Merlin's name didn't you inform the rest of us?" Severus snarled.
"Because I usually look for evidence before accusing childhood friends of being Death Eaters!" Remus snarled right back and glared at the ex-Death Eater with so much barely contained fury Severus recoiled from the sight. In the blink of an eye the young man's usually mild manners had been abruptly swept away and the savage ferocity he usually buried deep within himself shone through.
"Remus, please!" Albus said, trying to save his Potions teacher from being mauled. "We gain nothing from infighting."
Remus relaxed gradually, but kept glaring at Severus. "I presume we'll keep searching?" he asked.
"Of course. The wizarding world may think that Voldemort is gone, but I know beyond a doubt that he will return," Albus said with absolute conviction. His blue eyes peered at them over his spectacles. "He has risen to power before, and he will rise to power again. There's only a question of /when/. And when he does, we are going to need Harry Potter... or the world will fall."
"...and there's no doubt that Sirius Black was indeed James and Lily Potter's Secret-Keeper," Albus Dumbledore says. "I cast the charm on them personally."
This pronouncement by the most revered and respected wizards in the world has generated even more support for the manhunt currently being undertaken by the Ministry. However, even with the considerable amount of recourses dedicated to the task, there is a lot of concern that it will be too late for Harry Potter.
"We remain optimistic, of course," Bartemius Crouch (Sr) says. "After Black's recent appearance in Gringotts, the British Isles is being scoured by Ministry personnel. Not only is it our duty to the wizarding world to track down and dispose of every last Death Eater, but we also owe it to Mr Potter after he rid us of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
Although the Ministry all agree on the importance of capturing Sirius Black as quickly as possible, there is considerable disagreement of what to do with him once the goal has been accomplished. Mr Crouch stands by his controversial decision to send Sirius Black to Azkaban immediately upon capture, without a trial.
"A Death Eater takes /pleasure from murdering and torturing," he says empathically. "Being a Death Eater is being a traitor to the entire wizarding world. They do not deserve a trial! Sirius Black least of all; he betrayed his childhood friends and their one year old son to his master, for Merlin's sake!"/
Headmaster Dumbledore disagrees, however:
"The ability to defend one's case in a trial is a right, not a privilege to be taken away by the Ministry as it chooses," Professor Dumbledore says. "Department Head Crouch has been very successful in combating Lord (Censored)'s dark minions, but only at the expense of turning almost as dark himself."
Annoyed, Mr Crouch rejects this as 'nonsense'...
Sirius angrily threw away the /Daily Prophet/, and sank further down into the comfortable armchair. So he was to be shipped off to Azkaban without a trial, was he? Well, one couldn't expect anything less from old Crouch. He looked at his godson who were sitting in the sofa, carefully examining Sirius' jacket as curious as only a small child can be.
"Looks like we're alone, you and I," he said and smiled bitterly.
Harry looked up. "Oot?"
Sirus sighed and put thumb and forefinger at the ridge of his nose. It pained him greatly to know that Dumbledore thought him guilty of such a hideous crime, but he couldn't make himself blame the man. After all, all he had done was to look at the available evidence and drawn the obvious conclusion.
Even though he had never in his life been in a worse mess, Sirius had allowed himself to hope he'd find a way to clear things up quickly. Harry shouldn't have to be raised by a man on the run from the Ministry. However, Sirius couldn't go hunting for Pettigrew and look after Harry simultaneously. And he couldn't, simply couldn't give Harry back to Dumbledore. The boy was his last link to James in a world where everyone thought him a murderer, his last link to sanity.
Sirius shook himself out of his gloomy thoughts. Harry was staring at him in anticipation. "What was that, Harry?"
"Doggy?" Harry repeated, hopefully.
Sirius had to grin, despite the events of the day. "Sure," he said, and shifted form. Harry squealed in delight at seeing his godfather transform into the large black dog.
Oh, to hell with Crouch, Dumbledore and Mad-eye, /Sirius thought. They can wait for a while./