Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Beyond the Darkness: The Early Years

The Start of Learning

by OrionScorpio 0 Reviews

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...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Harry, Sirius - Published: 2006/12/20 - Updated: 2006/12/21 - 2645 words

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Chapter 8: The Start of Learning

31st July 1988

"/...happy birthday, dear Harry! Happy birthday to y- /stop that!"

Giving one last mock-whimper, Harry removed his hands from his ears as his godfather's singing came to a merciful end. He heaved a theatrical sigh and pulled on an earlobe as if wondering if his ears were still attached.

"Oh, come on! I don't sing that poorly," Sirius protested from where he sat with a ridiculous, pointed paper-hat on his head. The room was lit up brilliantly with dozens of floating candles and paper lanterns, and a large banner floated in mid-air, reading: "Happy 8th Birthday, Harry!"

"Well, I had expected all the practising while you shower would have improved it," Harry grinned cheekily. "Which reminds me; could you please put a silencing charm on the bathroom?"

"Monster," Sirius mock-growled. He reached under the table and pulled out a long, thin package in bright wrapping paper, which he handed over to Harry with theatrical reluctance. "I'm half-tempted to return it to the store."

Harry's stomach fluttered with excitement as he received the present. He had a sneaking suspicion of what was inside, and the expectation was almost unbearable. Carefully, he began tearing off the wrapping paper, pausing only to adjust his new spectacles which he wasn't yet used to. Although he had inherited his mother's eye colour, he had also unfortunately inherited his father's poor eyesight.

His heart started hammering when he exposed the shaft of rich mahogany, and when the last of the wrapping paper was gone, he felt like soaring all by himself. In his lap lay a brand new Cleansweep 7.

"Oh, thank you, Sirius!" Harry exclaimed and jumped out of the armchair to hug him. "Can I try it right away? Can I?"

Sirius chuckled. "Don't you want to eat your birthday cake, first?" he asked, gesturing to the cake on the table.

"Well, I suppose the broom isn't going anywhere..." Harry hesitated.

"Exactly."

"But neither does the cake!" he declared and sprinted out of the room and out of the cottage.

I must stop asking stupid questions, Sirius thought with a grin and followed him out into the glaring sun.

He wasn't afraid that they'd be seen; the Fidelius Charm extended for several hundred yards in all directions, which was why Padfoot's Den looked markedly better from the outside these days. Harry had already mounted the broom, and Sirius discovered somewhat to his surprise that the boy's grip was correct.

"Just slide a little further back. That's it. To lift off, pull the end toward you carefully while kicking off. Don't go too high the first time, just a few-"

Harry yanked at the broom and took off with a /whoosh/, reaching fifteen-twenty meters in a few seconds.

"...never mind," Sirius finished and brought up a hand to shield his eyes from the sun.

Harry seemed to hover in hesitation for a few seconds, and Sirius expected him to come back down to ask him how to manoeuver. Suddenly, however, the boy lay himself flat against the broom handle and shot though the air like an arrow, before making a sharp U-turn and coming back to his starting point.

He's a natural! Sirius thought in amazement. Just like James!

Harry proceeded to perform a few more manoeuvres, starting with a huge loop before going into a steep dive. The bottom of Sirius' stomach fell out as he saw the rate Harry was picking up speed, without showing any sign of wanting to pull up. At the last moment Harry straightened out, rushing past the ground in knee-height before soaring back into the sky.

"Monster," Sirius growled again with a wide smile, once he allowed himself to breathe again.

The eight-year old did an inside-out U-turn that left Sirius wondering how he was able to stay on his broom, before coming back toward him. Harry made a half-barrel roll, so that he was hanging from his new broom upside-down.

"WOOOHOOO!" he shouted in glee as he shot past Sirius.

Sirius shook his head in wonder. And he had been expecting to have to teach Harry how to fly a broom?

After about twenty minutes (in which Sirius had a heart-attack at least twice), Sirius called his godson down using the Sonorus Charm.

"Sirius, that was amazing!" Harry exclaimed excitedly. His bright green eyes glittered with a light Sirius had rarely seen. "I never knew flying could be like that!"

"Amazing for you it may have been, but some of those manoeuvres weren't easy on my nerves," Sirius said as they walked back toward the cottage.

Harry snorted. "Padfoot's getting old," he teased.

"Mr Padfoot takes great offence at Mr Emeralds' insinuations and warn that of the dire consequences that may follow," Sirius said grinning, using the nickname he was fully aware the boy detested.

"Stop that!" Harry said and shuddered. "'Emeralds' sounds like a name for a girl, with or without 'Mr' in front."

"Alright, alright," Sirius said, running a hand through the boy's black hair. "How about 'Raven', then? Is 'Raven' fine?"

Harry thought for a moment. "I think I like that."

III

A few minutes later they were both sitting in the sofa with each their slice of cake. Harry ate quickly; he could not wait getting back on the broom again. He had already decided to practise every day, hoping that he'd become good enough to be accepted on the Quidditch team once he entered Hogwarts.

"Harry," Sirius suddenly said and put down his plate. "I have something more for you."

Harry looked up in surprise. Sirius sounded so... solemn.

His godfather walked up the stairs to the second floor, and came back a few moments later with an oblong wooden box that was only a few inches thick. He sat down beside Harry and handed him the box. The dark wood was polished so it gleamed.

"I kept them as a memory of your parents," Sirius explained. "But they are actually yours by right."

Harry opened the box carefully. The insides were covered in purple velvet, and two depressions in the wood contained each a wand.

"Are these...?"

"Your parents' wands," Sirius confirmed. "Their cottage burned down, but the magic in the wands preserved them."

Harry carefully picked up one of the wands, as carefully as if it was made of porcelain of the most fragile sort.

"That's your father's," Sirius said. "Mahogany, eleven inches. Your mother's wand is made from willow and is ten and a quarter inches."

Harry studied the wand while strange sensations ran through him, with a sense of loss at the forefront. Sirius didn't like to talk about the deaths of Harry's parents. He glanced up at his godfather and saw that he was frowning at something only he could see. Sirius was brooding again, just like he always did when the subject of Harry's parents came up. In an effort to change the subject, Harry asked a question he had been meaning to ask for some time:

"Sirius, could you please teach me magic?"

Sirius blinked. "Magic? But you'll learn plenty of magic at Hogwarts. There's no need to rush."

"No, but learning just a little would be very useful," Harry said, thinking on all the almost-disasters they had suffered. "Like shield charms and such."

Sirius rubbed his chin. "I don't know, Harry. There are rules against that sort of thing."

Harry snorted. "And rules have stopped you since when?"

Sirius grinned. "Alright, just let me think about it a while before I make up my mind."

Harry happily returned his father's wand to the box and closed it. He knew that tone of voice; old Padfoot had already decided, and just wouldn't admit it yet.

His own broomstick and learning magic - this had turned out to be the best birthday ever!

III

At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the paintings of former Headmasters and Headmistresses in the Headmaster's office were silent. Only the soft ticking from the silver devices standing on an elegant table of polished wood could be heard. That, and the occasional rustling of feathers as Fawkes shifted on his perch, keeping an eye on his person who sat behind his desk and stared at nothing.

Albus Dumbledore was brooding again, something he had done a lot of in recent years.

He had called off the search for Sirius and Harry, finally acknowledging, as the Ministry had, that they would never be found. Most of the wizarding world believed that Harry had been twisted to the Dark Arts by now. It had become one of the great tragedies; the orphan who defeated Voldemort only to be kidnapped and abused until he fell to the Dark.

There was one thing that gave Albus hope, however.

The ancient wizard opened a drawer in his massive desk and took out a worn-looking parchment. It was a letter that had originally been addressed to Remus Lupin, but he had allowed Albus to copy it.

Dear Remus,

I'm writing this letter to explain what happened 31st October 1981. It is my hope that you'll read this letter through and consider my words as carefully as you can, rather than just toss it into the fireplace as I might have done myself...

Albus put the letter down and rose from his armchair to pace around in the office. He already knew the contents by heart, having spent three years investigating the story from every possible angle. It made sense to switch Secret-Keeper; Sirius was a very obvious - and thus poor - choice. Theoretically, Peter Pettigrew could also have framed Sirius as described in the letter, and Remus had shamefacedly confirmed that Peter's Animagus form was indeed a rat. Albus smiled briefly at the thought.

I wonder how three students managed to become Animagi without me knowing?

In any case, Sirius' later actions would then be that of a concerned godfather, rather than an insane Death Eater. It certainly explained how he got past the wards protecting Privet Drive! After that, it seemed as if events had conspired to maintain status quo.

Albus stopped by the window to stare out at the Hogwarts grounds as his thoughts came full circle yet again. The problem - the big problem - was that Sirius had exactly zero evidence to back up his story. Still, both he and Remus felt inclined to believe it.

He sighed as he turned his back to the window and walked back to his desk. If only he could have met Sirius and talked with him, Albus was sure he could have figured out the truth - there simply hadn't been time during that disastrous confrontation outside Gringotts. A brief vision of Harry being hit by his stunner and flying backwards flashed through his mind. He banished the thought instantly. Harry was strong; he would be all right. He would be.

Their problem was that there was very difficult to contact Sirius without the Ministry finding out. They'd even tried to put a small, innocent-sounding ad in the Daily Prophet:

Padfoot:/Moony and the old fool believe you. Please contact us as soon as you can./

However, that was of no use if Sirius didn't read the Daily Prophet regularly, wherever he was. Thus, the only thing Albus Dumbledore could do was to wait...

III

9th September

Harry kept an eye on the various people who wandered past in ones, twos and threes, as he drank up the last of his soda. He and Sirius often went out to cafés such as this one in Penzance. Sirius said that he needed to get out more and be around other people. Harry didn't mind. It sometimes got rather boring in Padfoot's Den, even now that Sirius was teaching him magic.

He had never thought it would be so difficult to cast such simple spells. It had taken him over a week before he managed to levitate a stupid pebble! Other deceptively easy tasks, such as lighting up a darkened room or using 'Finite Incantatum' was even worse.

"You're expecting too much of yourself," Sirius had said severely. "Remember that on Hogwarts they spend a week practicing wand-movements and studying the theory, first. "You on the other hand, have only received a few days of quick tutoring."

But Harry still thought he was incredibly slow in learning the spells. He sometimes wondered what the teachers would say when he arrived at Hogwarts, knowing so little and learning so slowly.

"Ready to go?" Sirius had put down the Muggle newspaper he'd been reading and was looking at Harry questioningly. His (for the time being) long blonde hair had been tied back into a ponytail.

Harry nodded and rose. "Can we stop by the library, first? There's something I want to check out."

"Sure."

With the nice weather outside there were few visitors to the public library. Harry saw only two people standing by the checkout counter and apparently waiting impatiently for someone; a tall man with sparkling blue eyes hidden behind a pair of spectacles, and a smaller woman with long, bushy hair.

"I can't believe she wanted to go to the library on a beautiful day like this," the man said and tapped his foot irritably.

"Honesty, you should know your own daughter by now," the woman said with amusement. "Besides, she inherited her love for books from you, so stop complaining."

The man sighed. "I suppose I can't deny that."

"I'll be right back," Harry said to Sirius and disappeared amid the shelves, heading straight for the sports section. He skimmed the titles for a while, occasionally picking up a book and paging through the contents, before replacing it. Ten minutes later, he had searched through the entire section and stood frowning at the single book he had found. Just one. Oh, well.

He turned to head for the checkout counter, still reading the back cover, and unexpectedly bumped into an unseen obstacle. Harry stumbled back from the collision. However, the 'obstacle' wasn't so lucky, and landed on her backside. The books the girl had been carrying spilled out over the floor.

"I'm sorry," Harry apologized, and bent down to help gather up her books. "Are you all right?"

Somewhat dazed from the collision, the girl got back on her feet and brushed a lock of long, bushy hair out of her face. "It's okay. I didn't watch where I was going."

Harry handed her the books; six thick volumes about Penzance in all. "Do you need help carrying that?" he offered.

"No, I'll be fine," she said and flashed him a smile. "Thanks."

Harry shook his head and followed her to the checkout counter.

"Hermione, where have you been?" the man Harry had noticed earlier said. "We've been waiting."

"I'm sorry, Dad," the girl - Hermione - said. "I found some really interesting books about the history of Penzance."

Harry found Sirius a few minutes later, standing in a corner and looking through a Muggle astronomy-book, occasionally chortling to himself.

"I'm ready to go now," Harry said.

Sirius replaced the book on the shelf. "What kind of book did you borrow?"

Harry held it up: "An Introduction to Tae Kwon Do."

Sirius' eyebrows rose and he took the book to page through it. "Why have you suddenly become interested in this?"

"Um, I've seen you practise in the evenings," Harry admitted. "It looked like fun."

"Well, self-defence is one of those things you can't learn from books alone," Sirius explained. "You'll need an instructor."

Harry looked disappointed for a second, then brightened. "Can you teach me?"

Sirius hesitated. "Well, I did learn Muggle combat at the Auror Academy - not Tae Kwon Do, but a martial art called 'Twister' that was created especially for Aurors - so I suppose I could."

"Pleeease?" Harry said with his best puppy dog look.

"All right, all right," Sirius chuckled and ruffled Harry's hair. "It can't hurt."

III
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