An AU of a Sixth Year AU Story: What would have happened if two liberal American druids had taken Harry to America, before returning with him to Hogwarts? In this chapter, Sirius Black invades Gryf...
"I wonder what I would have seen in the mirror?" Ron commented to Harry at breakfast. Harry had gotten up late, and had just made it to breakfast before service ended. Ron had happily joined his friend for a second breakfast while Harry described his adventure.
"What's your heart's desire?" Harry asked.
Ron frowned. "I'm not sure. No matter what I do, some brother will have already done it, and probably done it pretty well. Bill was Head Boy, Charlie was Quidditch captain." He shrugged.
"Maybe you'll end up as both," Harry suggested.
"I doubt it, but it would have to be something like that to outdo my brothers."
"What should we do today?"
Ron looked up and gauged the weather from the ceiling. He grimaced. "Sleet, yech. Something indoors, that's for sure."
"Why don't we spend the morning in the library," Harry suggested. Seeing Ron's frown, Harry reminded him, "You still have those assignments on ghouls and banshees to do for Quirrell, and we both have that one on poison safety for Snape. We can do those now in case we get nicer weather later, and check out ways to get into the restricted section at the same time."
Put in those terms, even Ron was willing to consider homework. "All right," Ron agreed, glad that Harry didn't nag like Hermione did.
The two boys easily finished off their homework before lunch, and considered ways of getting into the restricted sections of the library.
After lunch, Ron suggested that they could simply explore the castle It was so large that they had been to only a few parts of it. Harry agreed, and they spent the entire afternoon and then again that evening after dinner, exploring and chatting with some of the paintings.
The boys returned to the common room a little before their 9:00 curfew, quietly debating the merits of making a foray to the library under Harry's invisibility cloak.
"I wonder where everyone is?" Harry remarked, looking around. The common room was empty. Usually the two Seventh year girls were on one of the sofas near the fire and Percy would be reading in his usual armchair near the window.
"They don't have curfew until Ten," Ron pointed out. "They could be anywhere." He paused, sniffing. "I don't smell anything burning or worse, so the twins might not be around, either."
"Seems strange not to have anyone this time of night," Harry said. The pair looked at each other and shrugged. Any evening without older students was a bonus "Do we have any of those marshmallows left?" Harry asked.
"I think so, why?"
"Mom gave me a package of graham crackers and some American chocolate. Wait til you've have some s'mores."
"You'll like them, they've got melted toasted marshmallows and chocolate," Harry assured his friend. "You'll want some more. Get it?"
Ron rolled his eyes, and the two went up to their dorm to get the supplies.
Ron went through the door first. "Oh, no!" he wailed, stopping at the entrance. "The twins are going to be in so much trouble!"
Harry came in and stared, shocked. The two Seventh year girls and Percy were all petrified, tied, gagged and leaning against the foot of Harry's bed. A very large black dog was laying on Ron's bed, panting. "Why'd they have to drop them here?" Harry demanded. "No one will think we did it."
The dog wagged his tail and cautiously approached Harry. Harry held his fist down so that the dog could sniff him.
"Harry. . . ."
The dog licked Harry's hand, and Harry petted his head. "Good boy."
Detecting a strange note in Ron's voice, Harry turned and looked over his shoulder. The petrified twins, also tied and gagged, were leaning against the wall behind the door.
"If the twins didn't do this, who did?" Harry wondered.
"I did," a hoarse voice said behind him.
Swirling back around, Harry saw a tall, gaunt man with sallow skin, dressed in rags where the dog had been. The man quickly grabbed Harry and Ron's wands. "Over by the bed, boys," the man croaked, retreating a few steps back.
"You're Sirius Black, aren't you?" Harry demanded, not moving.
"I am, Harry. Now, move over by your bed, slowly. I haven't hurt anyone yet, and I would really prefer not to hurt any student."
Harry eyed the scarecrow of a wizard, and he slowly backed up, along with Ron.
"So, what do you know about me, boy?"
"I know you were supposed to be my father's best friend, and my parents' secret keeper," Harry answered.
"I was your father's best friend, his brother in everything but blood," Sirius agreed. "I'm also your godfather. I should have raised you, but I made a series of mistakes that certainly made my life a mess, and maybe yours, too. First of all, I and three friends shared this very room when we were students. We were friends. By the end of our First year, we discovered one of our friends had a dark secret. He was a werewolf."
The two boys were shocked.
"Yes, we were shocked, too. But Re . . . I'd best not use names, in case he's somehow managed to blend in over the years. Moony was . . . nice, smart, polite, even sweet without being a nancy-boy, and a very good friend. But he was a werewolf. We decided, or at least James and I decided, he was our friend first, and a werewolf second. We tried to figure out if there was any way we could help him. Finally, we decided there was. It took us years of research and experimentation, but we managed to become animagi."
"You weren't just transfigured into that dog, you were the dog," Harry said, eyeing the wand Sirius had clutched in his hand and the others on one of the dressers.
"Exactly. And please don't make a move towards those wands, Harry. Like I said, I don't want to hurt a student."
"Who do you want to hurt?"
"In time, Harry, in time. No where was I? Oh, yes, we became animagi. Your father was a stag."
"And Pettigrew?" Harry asked.
"Very good, Harry," Sirius acknowledged. "Peter was, appropriately as it turned out, a rat. In fact, unless I'm very much mistaken, the rat I have petrified over there in that cage."
"What? You mean Scabbers?" Ron demanded, incredulous. "You must be joshing!"
"No, I am not," Sirius said in a sad voice. "Was it a mature rat when you got it? And when was that?"
"Percy found him in my dad's office, right before Christmas . . . when was that? He must have been . . . five or so. . . ." he trailed off.
"Christmas, 1981," Sirius agreed with a smile. "And your father works at the Ministry, correct? Now, how could a rat get into the Ministry? They have charms against that sort of thing, you know."
Sirius turned back to Harry. "Your parents needed a secret keeper. I was the logical choice, but I was also a very obvious choice. I swear to you, Harry, I wish now I had taken the job. Instead, your father and I were talking in over, and I suggested Wormtail, Peter, would be a great bluff. Just a few weeks later, your parents were dead."
Sirius' face turned waxy. "An American wizard and witch -- your foster mother, in fact -- gave me an alarm, just in case anything went wrong at Godric's Hollow. It went off, and when I arrived, Hagrid had just rescued you from the rubble. Then I made my second mistake. I went after Peter myself. I should have stayed and told Dumbledore what had happened."
"I chased Peter down the next day, and he did something so shocking, I just stood there like an idiot. He knew he couldn't take me in a duel, so he set me up! The lunatic chopped off a finger on his left hand, yelled at me, and then threw a curse right into this open trench in the street, where it hit a gas main. When I woke up, I was under arrest, and the only thing left of Peter was supposed to be that finger and his wand."
"And you think you recognized Pettigrew from the photo of Ron's rat in The Daily Prophet?" Harry asked, doubtful.
"Simply, yes," Sirius answered. "It was missing the toe on the left front paw, and it looked exactly like Pettigrew. To you, most rats look alike, but I assure you, I know Pettigrew's form."
"Then prove it," Harry snapped.
"Forgive me, Weasley," Sirius said, and then he wrapped Ron with ropes. He then moved the others around so they could see, and unpetrified them. He left them all bound and gagged, however. "Stop struggling," Sirius ordered. "You all heard what I told Harry here. Now, let me show you that that part of my story at least was true."
Sirius pulled Scabbers' stiff body out from the cage, set it on the floor between Ron and Harry's beds, and muttered an incantation. The body changed from that of a rat to that of a small, balding man with whiskers, who looked like he was lost a fair amount of weight recently. The change had also freed the man from being petrified, but Sirius petrified him again.
Sirius looked at Harry. "Well?"
"That looks a bit like Pettigrew," Harry admitted. "I mean, I've only seen a few photos of him, but I guess it could be him. I mean, how many rat animagi are there who might be hiding out at the Weasleys?" Harry looked at Sirius. "How did you get here? Out of Azkaban? In this room? I mean, just . . . how?"
Sirius nodded. "Most people are driven mad in Azkaban. Do you know what a dementor is? What it does?"
"It sucks the good feelings out of people, or magnifies the bad," Harry said.
"A bit of both, I think," Sirius said. "Well, the fact that I was innocent wasn't a happy thought, so they couldn't steal that. Dementors can hear, but they can't really see. I quickly found that they affected me less when I was in my dog form. The first two years were horrible, but after that, I worked things out. Then I got that newspaper."
"They heard you dreaming, talking in your sleep," Harry said. "You kept saying, 'he's at Hogwarts'."
"Did I? And they thought I meant you, of course. No, I meant dear Peter here."
"That's why you tried to break in at Halloween? To get Peter?"
"Exactly. I knew no one would be here."
Harry frowned. "Then why let the troll in?"
Sirius frowned. "Troll? I didn't let in any troll." Seeing the look on Harry face, Sirius swore, "I didn't, Harry! I came in through a secret passage."
"Through the dungeons?"
Sirius shook his head, "No. I don't know any secret route in through the dungeons."
Harry grimaced. He wanted to believe Black, but, "It's a pretty big coincidence that there were two break-ins at the same time."
"It is," Sirius agreed.
Harry took another tack. "How did you get in tonight?"
"Oh, well, Harry, I overheard you give the password last night."
Harry stared at Black. Sirius explained. "I was in my animagus form. Very good hearing and all that. I snuck in again tonight during dinner, and found Peter trying to pick the lock of his cage. If you look at it, you can see he's been doing it some damage."
"Ron said Scabbers has been gnawing away at the cage a lot since Halloween," Harry admitted. "He got out once, tore through a set of sheets, and was burrowing into the bed when we caught him."
Sirius grinned nastily at that news. Seeing Harry look at him expectantly, he went on. "Well, I stunned Peter. I could have just gotten revenge and killed him, but that wouldn't do me much good, would it? I decided to wait for you and show you I wasn't directly responsible for James and Lily's deaths."
Sirius sighed. "I did suggest making the change," he admitted.
"The red-haired prefect. . . ."
"Percy Weasley," Harry supplied.
"Percy did a room check for some reason before I expected anyone back. So, I disarmed him and used his wand to stun Peter." He looked at the very angry Percy. "Sorry about that."
Percy nearly growled.
Sirius grinned in a more friendly way and jabbed his thumb at the twins. "Those two came in a bit later, jabbering away about jinxing Ron's bed and debating the possibilities of breaking into the girls' area." He grinned at the twins directly. "Sorry, boys, that can't be done. Wiser and wilier wizards than you have tried."
For some reason, the twins seemed to be looking at Black with admiration.
He faced Harry again. "I gathered from what they said, from what I observed last night, and from what I had smelled in the common room, that there were only two girls here for the break. I stunned the twins and managed to grab the two girls here, too. I didn't want anyone getting suspicious, you know."
"Well," Harry demanded, "now what?"
"Well, now, that's a reasonable question," Sirius conceded. "I shall repetrify your friends, make extra certain Peter is immobilized, and then we shall leave. I'll leave all the wands but one down in the common room. We'll head off towards Dumbledore's office. Unless he's changed his password in the last few days, it's 'strawberry delight.' He always uses a Muggle or magical sweet of some kind."
"We're going to see the Headmaster?" Harry asked, surprised.
"Well," Sirius prevaricated, "you are, at any rate. At some point along the way, I'll slip away. I'll be in animagus form, of course. While I don't think Dumbledore would hex first and ask questions later, I think it's better to be safe than sorry."
Sirius suddenly collapsed on the floor.
Harry dove, grabbed his wand, and rolled to a kneeling position, his wand at the ready. "Well done," Henry Dorff said, "although I'm not certain what hex you thought would be useful."
Harry was surprised at who all were in the room. Dumbledore, his parents, Cadfael, Tom Lawrence, and a tired and slightly shabby stranger were all holding wands on Sirius Black. Professor McGonagall was already releasing the students, whispering to them to stay quiet.
"I think you can lower your wand, Harry," Tabitha said gently.
"How much did you hear?" Harry asked.
"All of it," Henry said.
"Several alarms go off should a boy tries to sneak into a girls' area," Dumbledore explained. "A few also notify us when a girl goes into a boys' area, although they do not sound in the dorm. When these two were brought here and did not leave in a few minutes, I decided to investigate. I do not need an invisibility cloak to hide, and there are even ways to avoid the sharp nose of a hound. I then summoned the rest of this group. They got here just a few minutes before you and Ronald Weasley came in." A few of them nodded.
"Had Sirius made any moves to actively harm anyone, I would have intervened," Dumbledore went on. "Since he did not, I thought we should hear him out."
Harry finally lowered his wand. "So that really is Sirius Black?" Every one of the adults nodded. "And that really is Peter Pettigrew?"
Most of the adults looked a bit more uncertain about that, except for the stranger, who said, "That's Peter, all right."
"Remus Lupin, I presume?" Harry asked.
"Yes, I am. Hello, Harry, it's been quite some time since I last saw you."
Harry nodded, and then frowned. "You visited us once, it must have been five years ago?"
Lupin smiled, nodded, and turned to Dumbledore. "That's Peter. God help us all, Sirius must have been innocent."
"Well, that is not certain, but it is certainly possible." Dumbledore flicked his wand, and Sirius was bound.
Dumbledore went on while Tabitha went to help McGonagall check the students out. "I must ask all of you to stay in your rooms or the common room until someone comes and talks to you in the morning. We will be doing a preliminary investigation tonight, and conferring with the Ministry in the morning."
All the students agreed to that, although Percy didn't look very happy about it. "Is there a problem, Mister Weasley?" Dumbledore asked him.
"Could the Ministry really have been that . . . mistaken, sir?"
"The Ministry is merely composed of people, Mister Weasley. In those desperate times, it is perfectly possible that the innocent suffered and the guilty escaped. That may have happened here. However, we shall know for certain soon."
"Thank you, sir," Percy said.
"I suggest you all try and get some rest," Dumbledore concluded as the other men moved the two stunned wizards out of the room.
Friday, December 27, 1991
The Weasleys and Harry were sitting in the common room late the next morning. The two Seventh year girls had collected their breakfasts from the platters supplied in the common room and then fled back to their dorms. They hadn't come down since. Harry really couldn't fault them.
"Fred and I have a problem," George told Ron.
"We're not sure if we should be insulted or complimented that you thought we had caught and tied up Percy and those two girls last night," Fred explained.
"Percy we can understand, but two Seventh year girls?" George exclaimed.
"I guess we should be complimented," Fred decided.
Harry was ignoring the byplay, and was looking at Percy. Finally, Percy couldn't take any more. "What is it, Harry?" he snapped.
"Calm down, Percy," George said.
"Are you upset because the rat was originally yours?" Harry asked.
Percy frowned. "We knew it had to be some sort of magical rat," he finally said. "Black was right about that. Normal rats couldn't get into the Ministry. Someone brought him into Father's office while I was waiting for Mother."
Percy glared at the twins. "You two had dragon pox and had deliberately exposed Ron and Ginny. Mother had to take all of you to St. Mungo's."
The twins looked a little embarrassed.
"Bill was a First year. Charlie was already interested in animals of all sorts. He examined the rat after Father had tested it for diseases. He said it seemed smart, and needed a few good meals. It was already missing the toe, of course. It had an old scab on it."
"Hence the name," George pointed out.
"Exactly," Percy agreed. He sighed. "I asked Father if we could keep it. I already knew we didn't have much, so I said that could be my Christmas present. Father said he'd have to put up a notice to see if anyone claimed him, but naturally no one did."
"If it hadn't been you, it would have likely been some other family," Harry said. "Maybe no one would ever have learned the truth if you hadn't taken him in."
"That's true, I guess," Percy agreed. "Still, it means we took care of your parents', well, betrayer I guess would be the proper term."
Harry gave Percy a grim smile. "Just think, he's been a rat for ten years. Sounds like a harsh prison sentence to me."
"That's true," Fred pointed out. "I know you want to join the Ministry. Maybe this means you should consider the prison service."
"Not an ignoble profession, although I believe Percy will have a greater number of options than that." Professor Dumbledore was standing by the entrance. The five boys all stood up.
"I have just returned from the Ministry. Mister Pettigrew has confessed. There will be a great deal of paperwork to go through, but with luck, the complete story will be out in a day or two, or perhaps a week."
"How bad will it be?" Percy asked, squaring his shoulders.
"We should be able to keep your family's connection out of the papers," Dumbledore said. Percy sagged slightly in relief. "The wizard who had been head of the MLES back in 1981 tried to make a fuss, mostly to avoid his own embarrassment, but Sirius has agreed to settle the matter out of court."
"Will I see him, or Mister Lupin?" Harry asked.
"Do you wish to?" Dumbledore asked, slightly surprised.
"Yes, I would," Harry said. His real parents were unknown to him. Those two could be the only close links.
"I am certain that can be arranged. I am certain Sirius would wish to visit you, and Remus has only stayed away because, well you heard why last night."
"You can't be too friendly with a werewolf," Percy pointed out. "I mean, that . . . that was obviously the werewolf Black was talking about."
"My father thought enough of him to be his friend," Harry retorted. "I would at least like to know a little about them through him."
"That's reasonable," Percy admitted.
"Professor McGonagall will be here to talk with Miss Johnson and Miss Kirkland," Dumbledore said. "You four may go to lunch if you wish."