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...
Sirius blinked confused as consciousness returned to him - and froze as he looked into the pale, pointed face of Lucius Malfoy.
"No sudden movements, please," Malfoy said, almost politely. He wore the superior smirk of a man who knew he had total control of the situation. Beside him, a man with broad shoulders and small, deep-set eyes shifted position slightly to better cover Sirius with his wand.
Sirius sat up slowly from the bunk he had been lying on. The Ministry had suspected Malfoy was a Death Eater, and the Order had known he was - thanks to Snape's intelligence reports - but they had also been unable to prove it. According to the /Daily Prophet/, he had somehow managed to twist away from Azkaban by claiming to have been under the effect of the Imperius Curse and by selling out several of his former colleagues. He had also apparently rescued a few of his henchmen from the same fate. The broad-shouldered man - Goyle, Sirius thought his name was - was one of them.
"Where's Harry?" Sirius demanded. And why did you keep me alive instead of just killing me?
"The boy is in my custody," Malfoy said smoothly. "What I wish to know from /you/, however, is why you bothered kidnapping the boy instead of fleeing the country."
Sirius' thoughts raced. He couldn't come up with a reason why Malfoy would want him or - more importantly - Harry alive. But whatever that reason was, Sirius was certain it was the key to their survival.
"Why do you want to know?" he said, trying to stall for time.
Ice crept into Malfoy's eyes and voice. "We can do this one out of two ways, Black; either you can answer my questions voluntarily, or I can torture them out of you," he said flatly, and his wand appeared in his hand.
Sirius braced himself. "Why should I answer questions if you're just going to kill us afterwards?" he asked stubbornly.
Sirus had been hit by the Cruciatus Curse twice before while fighting for the Order, so he had known what was coming. That, however, didn't make the pain more bearable. Sirius screamed himself hoarse the first five seconds as he writhed on the bunk in agony. A fleeting thought wondered if he was going to end up like poor Frank and Alice Longbottom, then it was lost in the ocean of pain that rolled over him. After another fifteen seconds (Hours? Days? Years?), Malfoy finally lifted the curse.
Panting, Sirius shook his head to clear it and pushed himself up into a sitting position. He met Malfoy's eyes unflinchingly, refusing to speak first.
"I may let you go," Malfoy said coldly after a few moments. "May. Now I'll ask you one more time; why did you kidnap the boy after the Dark Lord's downfall?"
Sirius had to struggle to keep his surprise from showing. Let him go? Why would a Death Eater let a member of the Order go, unless-
Unless he thinks I am a Death Eater.
That made sense. Everyone from the Minister of Magic and down had declared Sirius to be one of Voldemort's minions, and no single Death Eater knew the identities of everyone else, so Malfoy couldn't be sure of anything.
"I kidnapped the boy because I needed a hostage," Sirius lied hoarsely. "I figured the Ministry and Dumbledore's Order would be more careful when they came after me."
"I see," Malfoy said, and Sirius tried very hard not to be unnerved by the cold and flatness in the Death Eater's eyes. "Why did you remain in the country, rather than flee?"
Sirius shrugged. "Most of what remains of my contacts are here in Britain," he said. "Besides, I know of a place that has ample protection from discovery by the Ministry."
Malfoy crocked a brow. "What kind of protection would that be?"
"The Fidelius Charm," he said and forced himself to smirk at the man. That was harder than he had thought.
"Ah." The corners of Malfoy's mouth quirked slightly. "And where is this hiding place of yours?"
Sirius shook a finger at him. "Don't ask. As some of your colleagues can testify, you're not very good at keeping secrets."
Luckily, Malfoy decided to be amused rather than angered by Sirius' refusal to answer the question. "Very well, I shall leave it at that... for now," he said and opened the door to leave.
Sirius let slowly out a breath he hadn't been aware he'd been holding. "So, what do you want with the boy?" he asked as casually he could.
"He's going to be a gift," Malfoy said, half turning in the doorway. "In case the Dark Lord returns."
Sirius' blood ran cold. The thought of little Harry in the hands of that power-hungry sociopath was just about the worst nightmare he could possibly conceive of.
What on Earth do I do now? he thought, as Malfoy and Goyle left the room, locking the door safely behind them.
"D'you think he's telling the truth?" Goyle asked gruffly after putting a Locking Charm on the door.
"No," Lucius said simply, his mind busy elsewhere.
Goyle blinked. "No?" he said surprised. "But- his story sort of made sense, didn't it?"
Lucius hid a contemptuous smile; it wouldn't do to antagonize one of his few remaining allies. Goyle and Crabbe, another associate, might be lacking severely in the mental department, but they were very useful as muscle in certain situations.
"No," Lucius repeated firmly. "That story of his had two gaping logical holes. First, if Black wanted a hostage, why kidnap the one child that would guarantee the Ministry and the Order would come after him like the wrath of God? Second, any Death Eater who knew he couldn't arrange an alibi would flee the country, Fidelius Charm or no Fidelius Charm. Besides, any so-called 'contacts' he has will be far too busy keeping themselves out of Azkaban to help him, assuming they haven't already been caught. What we have here is a godfather who has been framed by Pettigrew."
Realization dawned in the normally dim eyes of Goyle, and Lucius changed the subject. "I want you to stand guard here. If Black tries to escape, you are free to use any force necessary except the Killing Curse. He may yet be useful to me."
Goyle nodded and Lucius turned and left, his black robes billowing around him.
Sirius stood with eyes squeezed shut and the palm of his hand pressed against the wall. Frowning in concentration he extended his magical senses beyond the wall, trying to find a weakness in the anti-Disapparation wards he could feel encompassing the entire building. Sighing, he stood back and gave the wall a disgusted look. Even if he did find a weakness in the wards, there was very little he could do about it without a wand. Besides, if they were in the Malfoy Manor as he suspected, escaping wouldn't be an easy task even if he did have a wand; that place was almost as well protected as Hogwarts. He looked around in the tiny room, despite knowing he hadn't overlooked anything. A single bunk. Bare, white walls. Nothing more.
Frustrated, Sirius ran a hand through his hair. He was scared to death over what Malfoy might be doing to Harry right now, and he wasn't at all certain that he'd managed to deceive the Death Eater. Damn it! He had already failed James and Lily once; he was not going to do it again.
Determinately, he walked over to the door and hammered a first on it. "Hey, Goyle! Open up, I want a word with you!" he shouted, only half aware of what he was doing. He had always been better at thinking on his feet and improvising rather than planning, which had served him and James well the many times they were a hair from being given detention.
"What d'you want?" came Goyle's voice from the other side.
"Open up," Sirius repeated. "I'm not talking to a door!"
Somewhat to his surprise the door actually opened. Goyle gave him a suspicious look, carefully aiming his wand at Sirius' chest. "What?" he desmanded.
"I was just wondering; was it you who searched me and took my wand?"
Goyle grunted an affirmative and patted a pocket with his one free hand.
"Thanks," Sirius said cheerfully. "That's all I wanted to know." And with that, he headbutted Goyle right in the face.
Goyle stumbled back, clutching his broken nose with one hand and staring at Sirius as if he couldn't believe what had just happened. He opened his mouth to deliver a curse, but it died in an agonized whoop as a perfectly placed snap-kick exploded into his belly. He flew backward, crashing into the opposite wall before sliding down in a heap, his legs unable to carry him anymore. Drops of blood from his broken nose splattered on the floor. Goyle was still desperately fighting for breath when Sirius' lightning-fast spin-kick broke his right cheekbone.
Quickly, Sirius snatched Goyle's wand from the Death Eater's limp grasp. "Stupefy!" he hissed, and Goyle, who had been opening his mouth to deliver a desperate scream for help, slumped bonelessly.
For several tense moments, Sirius stood motionless, hoping that no one had heard the sound of fighting or that a ward hadn't detected the magical discharges from Goyle's wand. After a while he breathed out and grinned at the fallen Death Eater.
"Didn't expect that, did you?" he muttered. Swiftly, he grabbed Goyle by the collar and dragged him back into the room.
Death Eaters and other dark wizards and witches were usually so full of scorn over anything Muggle that they tended to spurn their physical conditioning, and almost none had any idea how to fight Muggle-style. That was one of the major reasons the Auror Academy trained their students in basic hand-to-hand. Sirius had taken that several steps further, however, and very few people knew of the private lessons he had received from the Academy's unarmed combat instructor.
Sirus searched Goyle's pockets and found his wand. He then broke Goyle's wand - not without a certain amount of satisfaction - and kicked the pieces under the bunk.
"Sleep tight," he said sweetly, before closing the door after him and putting a dozen locking charms on it.
Now to find Harry.
From beneath the invisibility cloak that every Auror was issued with, Jennifer Palmer kept a careful eye on the Malfoy Manor. Her ice-blue eyes never rested, never allowing themselves to stop searching for something, anything that might be out of the ordinary. They had no hard evidence to back it up with, but the Auror Corps were fairly certain Malfoy had been a willing minion of the late Dark Lord. So they had put him and his mansion under covert twenty-four hour surveillance, although the chance that they'd find something worth sending him to Azkaban for was slim. It had taken a week of effort to find out how far the wards that protected the Malfoy Mansion extended, but now Jennifer was certain she was nearly immune to discovery from her hiding place in the dark woods to the southeast.
The tickling sensation the warning-spell suddenly sent up her spine made her stiffen in alarm, but she relaxed almost instantly and glanced at her watch. Her relief were scheduled to arrive just about now.
She heard a tiny pop somewhere to her left, and a disembodied male voice said: "Jen?"
"Over here, Kingsley," she whispered back, without taking her eyes of the mansion.
Jennifer more felt than heard the young Auror kneel by her side. "Anything new?"
"Not since that Portkey-signature a while ago."
"Still no luck in tracing it, then?"
"Not from this distance." She rose and stretched stiff muscles. "Well, I'll be off. Good watch."
One 'pop' later Kingsley Shacklebolt was alone.
Hidden by a Disillusionment Charm, Sirius made his way down the corridor as silent as a wraith. There was a T-intersection straight ahead, and Sirius paused to wonder which way to turn. Malfoy Mansion was enormous and Harry could be almost anywhere.
Soft footsteps were the only warning he had. Sirius pressed himself flat against the wall, ready to stun whoever those feet belonged to. Malfoy appeared briefly in the intersection, strolling past the corridor Sirius was in with the characteristic cold arrogance the more aristocratic wizarding families tended to display. The Death Eater frowned, obviously deep in thought, and didn't seem to notice Sirius.
Sirius carefully let out the breath he had been holding as Malfoy disappeared from sight, and tried to force his beating heart to calm down. Quietly he moved closer to the corner and strained his hearing. The footsteps continued for a few seconds, stopped, and then he heard the sound of a door opening and closing.
He peeked around the corner and found the corridor deserted. Swiftly, he darted to the first door and pressed an ear to the dark wood.
"Is this the child?" came Malfoy's voice.
"Yes, Mr Malfoy," said an oily voice Sirius didn't recognize. "Allow me to introduce you to Harry Potter."
"Pa'foot!" Harry demanded, and Sirius had to grin despite the situation.
Padfoot's coming, kid.
There was silence for a few seconds, then: "Who or what is 'Pafoot'?" Malfoy asked.
"Dunno," said a gruff voice. "Pet maybe?"
"Well, at any rate, you shouldn't have used a Portkey to travel here, Borgin," Malfoy said. "I suspect the Ministry have me under surveillance, and if that's the case they are bound to pick up a Portkey-signature."
"I apologize, Mr Malfoy," said the oily voice, "but I had to act quickly if I were to set up the Portkey-redirector and secure this prize for you. I had to run quite a substantial risk myself."
"Yes, yes, yes. You'll be rewarded for your services," Malfoy said somewhat annoyed. "Come with me."
Sirius barely had time to dodge around the nearest corner before the door went up.
"This way," he heard Malfoy say. "It's the quickest route to my office."
Sirius listened until he could no longer hear their footsteps, and then waited another thirty seconds to be sure they were gone. He looked around the corner and found the coast clear. Quickly he walked past the window to his right, glancing out of it momentarily. It was already dark outside, so he must have been unconscious for several hours.
The question was, what did he do now? There was at least one man still inside the room and he had to be silenced quickly, before Malfoy returned. However, the risk that a stray curse might hit Harry during the duel was too great for Sirius to accept. He needed a distraction, something that would give him a second or two of surprise...
Ah. Of course.
Grinning, he removed the Disillusionment Charm and got to work.
"Damn," Kingsley swore mildly from his hiding place.
He had used a vision enchantment spell on his eyes - the effect was similar to Muggle binoculars - and now he was glad he had. The man he'd briefly seen through a window in the mansion had stared back at him from countless 'wanted'-posters over the last six months.
Kingsley quickly did a 'Finite Incantatem' on his eyes and reached into his pocket to take out a communications-mirror, fumbling slightly with it in his eagerness.
"Moody," he called, remembering at the last moment to keep his voice down.
The distorted reflection altered, changing into the scared face of Alastor Moody, who was the Auror currently on watch. "Yes?"
"Sir, I just saw Sirius Black inside the Malfoy Mansion," Kingsley reported.
Moody's one normal eye narrowed. "Inside? You sure?"
"Positive. On the second floor."
Moody nodded. "Stay where you are. We are sending reinforcements."
It was a good thing he'd had so much practice disguising himself. After using an assortment of charms and spells, Sirius had now become passable imitation of Goyle. At least, that's what he hoped. He didn't have a mirror, and only a few minutes to alter his features. Hopefully that would be enough; he only needed a few seconds of hesitation from the man guarding Harry.
"Pa'foot!" Harry insisted from the other side of the door.
"Oh shut up, you brat. Silenco!"
Sirius squared his shoulders, knocked once on the door, then opened and walked inside. The man - Sirius recognized him as Crabbe - turned in surprise from the sofa where Harry sat shouting something soundlessly through the silencing charm.
"What are you doing here?" Crabbe demanded gruffly. He had only half-raised his wand when Sirius entered; now he let his hand fall. "Aren't you supposed to be guarding Black?"
Crabbe was quick, but not quick enough. The spell caught him by surprise, and thick ropes appeared out of thin air to wrap themselves around the Death Eater.
"Silenco!" Sirius snapped, silencing him even as he fell struggling to the floor. Sirius summoned Crabbe's wand and broke it, before he removed his disguise with a flick of his own.
Harry jumped up from the sofa and ran over to him, shrieking in delight. He tried to shriek, at least; the Silencing Charm was still on him, and Sirius decided to leave it for now as not to alert Malfoy. He gathered Harry up in his arms, shut the door and put a Locking Charm on it. The ploy had worked and now they had to get out of here - and fast. He walked swiftly across the room to a large window overlooking the grounds outside the mansion, and carefully moved the curtain a fraction of an inch to peek outside. It was too dark to see much, although he could make out the gates and an occasional tree. With all the wards that protected his mansion, Sirius rather doubted Malfoy would be paranoid enough to put guards outside, too. Still, that didn't mean that someone might see them through a window and take a shot on them as they ran for it.
Suddenly, the gates slammed open, and three figures stormed across the grounds. Almost immediately a bone-rattling wail penetrated the air, and multi-coloured flashes of light outside spoke of wards being torn down by the intruders. Harry looked around alarmed from his vantage point in the crook of Sirius' left arm, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. Sirius followed the three running figures with his eyes until they reached the large double-doors of the Malfoy Mansion. One of them raised his or her wand, and there was a blood-red flash followed by a dull explosion as the doors were blasted into toothpicks. Almost immediately the trio stormed past the rubble and into the mansion.
Talk about heaven-sent distraction, Sirius thought. He tapped his forehead with his wand and shuddered slightly from the feeling of cold running down his body, as the Disillusionment Charm took effect. Then he did the same to Harry, who smiled at the new game and curiously examined his disillusioned hands.
The window exploded outwards, sending glittering pieces of glass sailing out into the darkness. Sirius gestured quickly with his wand, casting a Cushioning Charm at the ground bellow. "Hold on, Harry," he muttered, and then he jumped. The cool night air breezed past them for a few seconds, before they hit the charm and bounced once.
Sirius got to his feet and broke into a dead run, Harry a light burden in his arms. The intruders - whoever they were - hadn't wasted time destroying the exceedingly powerful anti-Disapparating wards, something which would have taken even Dumbledore as much as twenty minutes. He and Harry had to reach the edge of the wards before they could safely Disapparate away.
"Stop!" came a whip-crack command from behind them.
Sirius cursed viciously. The adrenaline flooding through his system gave him an extra burst of speed as he dodged around a large bush, putting it between them and the mansion. His heart jumped when a bright red pulse of light shot past them so close he felt the residual magic trying to make his hair stand up. Swiftly he cast a spell that created an invisible barrier behind them. It wasn't much, but better than nothing.
Ignoring the burning sensation in his lungs, he ran past a statue of a long-dead Malfoy, just as a silver jet of light blew the statue's head off. A stone splinter dug into his right calf, but he ignored it and ran on. Suddenly remembering a favourite trick of James', Sirius gestured with his wand over his shoulder and gasped: "Dissimulo!" His wand belched out huge amounts of black smoke, creating a large cloud behind them. Smiling triumphantly, he pocketed his wand. The gates were right ahead and he doubted the wards would extend for much longer.
A split-second later, a Stunner smashed into the barrier protecting their backs. Sirius stumbled from the impact and fell, twisting to his left so that he wouldn't land on top of Harry. His shoulder took most of the impact, sending a spike of pain through his nervous system. They skidded for a few feet before coming to a halt. Sirius shook his head and looked up at Harry, who was saddling his chest and giggling. He staggered back to his feet and resumed running, trying not to move his right arm too much.
That's going to leave a mighty big bruise, he thought distantly. Too bad I won't be able to show the ladies that. And how in the nine hells did they see through all that smoke?
Then, as sudden as the stunner that had nearly knocked him out, he felt the liberating sensation as he ran through the edge of the anti-Disapparating wards. With a gasp of relief he and Harry vanished with a sharp crack.
"What happened after you refused to grant Sirius Black sanctuary in your home?"
"He threatened to murder both me and my two good friends, Mr Crabbe and Mr Goyle," Malfoy said to the assembled Elders of the Wizengamot. Most of them looked sympathetic over the thought of having a Death Eater breaking into their homes. Except for a few. One of them was Elder Albus Dumbledore. His face wore no expression whatsoever as his blue eyes bored into Malfoy's, putting his considerable skills in Legimency into use.
Lie, he concluded.
"I, of course, feared for my life at this point," Malfoy continued smoothly from where he sat in the centre of the room. "He looked rather desperate and he had after all already assaulted Mr Goyle - who is still at St Mungo's - and captured Mr Crabbe."
"I was especially afraid that he'd use the Imperius Curse and force my cooperation." Malfoy shook his head sadly. "After all, I know from bitter experience that I'm unable to resist it."
Elder Sanders, the bald-headed questioner on the rostrum, nodded in sympathy. "And what happened next, Mr Malfoy?"
"I had a stroke of luck. The Aurors who were holding my mansion under surveillance -" he smiled wryly and some of the Elders chuckled "- must obviously have seen Black through a window, because they came storming in just a few seconds later. Unfortunately, Black heard their rather dramatic entrance and fled."
"Just one final question," Sanders said. "You said earlier that Black had Mr Harry Potter with him. Could you please tell us what condition he was in?"
"Yes, Mr Potter was there," Malfoy said with a pained expression, the very picture of a man who would have given anything to alter the truth. "And I am sorry to say that his condition was... miserable. The child looked both mal- and undernourished, and he was covered in bruises. Judging by how he favoured his right side, I think that he also had a broken rib. What frightened me the most, however, were his eyes. He didn't look sad or anything of the sort, he just stared emptily ahead of himself." He sighed dramatically. "I wish I could have stopped Black from escaping with Mr Potter, but he hit me with a Blasting Cruse when the Aurors broke in. By the time I came to my senses, he had swept the child up into his arms and jumped out the window."
Both truth and lie, Albus thought and frowned in annoyance. Malfoy was simply too good at Occlumency to find the truth with passive Legilimency. He was definitely hiding something, though
Sanders nodded grimly. "Thank you for testifying in this hearing, Mr Malfoy. We shall not take up any more of you valuable time."
Malfoy bowed graciously. "My simple duty as a wizard, sir."
Most of the Elders gathered up their notes and got up to leave, while a few remained sitting to talk to a colleague. Elder Sanders smiled jovially and stepped down to have a few words with Malfoy.
"Well, what do you think, Dumbledore?"
Albus released his mental control and turned to his left, to the scarred man sitting beside him. "Very much the same as you, I expect. An excellent mixture of truth and lie. I do wonder, however, why Sirius went to Lucius Malfoy."
Mad-eye was looking at Albus, but his magical eye was locked on Malfoy. "I suppose he thought an old colleague would be more forthcoming with help. So much for Death Eater solidarity," he snorted contemptuously. His magical eye swirled around to stare at Albus. "What about that last part? Do you think it is true that Black is abusing the boy?"
Albus grimaced at the pain that lanced through his heart. "I don't know, Alastor," he admitted in a whisper. "I hope not."
Unfortunately, he suspected it was true. Abuse was exactly the weapon a Death Eater would reach for if he wanted to break someone to his will. Albus had to strangle an impulse to march over to Malfoy and use a more... intrusive version of Legimency in full view of dozens of witnesses. Or perhaps just force-feed him Veritaserum. But no, that would be as foolish as disastrous. He didn't know why a Sirius had fallen from the Light, but Albus Dumbledore would have to be patient if he were to find Harry Potter.