don’t own Harry Potter; anything you recognize belongs to JK
Rowling, who is kind enough to let people play in her sandbox from time to
TWO: THE FIDELIUS CHARM
sat quietly, hardly able to believe what he’d just heard. The entire last hour had proved absolutely
surreal; first, he’d been led into a dilapidated old house, where he now sat at
an old and dusty kitchen table; then, he had listened to the most incredible
and unbelievable story. His mind was
whirling under the pressure of trying to comprehend so much information, trying
to sort truth from fiction—
if there was one thing that he had to believe, it was the barefaced
emotion evident on Black’s face. The
older man was standing on the other side of the dirty kitchen now; he’d stopped
pacing, and though he was trying to hide it, Harry knew that he had only done
so to get control of his emotions. Come
to think of it, though, that was something that Harry desperately needed to do
himself. Hearing what he had made him
feel cold inside.
parents were betrayed by one of their best friends. Harry swallowed, staring at Black’s skeletal
form, watching the wizard’s head bow briefly and seeing the glint of something
shining on his face before Black swiped it away. And another one of their friends got
blamed for it.
your godfather, you know,” Black suddenly said, turning back to face Harry.
are?” I have a godfather?
swallowed. “Your parents appointed me
your guardian, if anything ever…happened.”
didn’t seem able to finish any more than Harry was able to answer. The silence stretched into long minutes then,
and Harry began to trace circles into the dusty table. Against the far wall, a fire crackled; Black
had started it with a quick spell shortly after they had arrived. The basement kitchen was a gloomy place with
rough stone walls and dust covered furniture, and the iron pots hanging from
the ceiling did not exactly make the atmosphere more cheerful. Just like the front hall (which was the only
other part of the house that Harry had seen), the kitchen looked as if no one
had used it in years. Overall, it was an awful place to spend the night…but it
wasn’t Privet Drive,
and Sirius Black was his godfather. His godfather.
Harry began, and then had to swallow briefly before continuing. “Why did you escape? Why now?”
not before? A wild hope was rising
inside of him—what if he didn’t have to go back to the Dursleys? Harry had spent his entire childhood
miserable and alone, and at the moment, it didn’t matter to him that Black was
an outlaw. So was Harry. They’d both broken Wizarding law, which meant
that the Ministry was after them. When
Harry had stepped out the door at Number Four, Privet Drive, he’d been facing a
cold and lonely path—but now, all of a sudden, it seemed that might not be the
case. Now, he might not have to be
so slowly, Black reached inside his robe and removed a crinkled piece of paper,
extending it towards Harry, who took it curiously. Immediately, he recognized it as the picture
of the Weasleys that had been in the Daily Prophet.
rat,” Black said hoarsely. “On the boy’s shoulder. It’s Peter.”
looked at him blankly.
an Animagus,” the scrawny wizard explained. “Just like I can become a dog, Peter can
become a rat…” Anger tightened his features.
“I saw him, and it lit a fire in my head…it gave me purpose again. So I escaped…”
shrugged. “I could turn into a dog when
things got too bad…so, one day I was able to slip through the bars…Dementors
can’t see, so they didn’t know. I swam to shore, and found you. I meant to only see you,
and to follow…but then Malfoy and Avery showed up, and I had to act.”
had to swallow, remembering how close he had come to…to what? “Why do they want me?” he asked
suddenly. “Do you know?”
everything,” Black replied. “Not
enough…but from what they said, I gather that they’ve come up with a way to
bring Voldemort back…”
they want me for that.”
sat in silence for another long moment, but now it was a less tense one. Harry found his eyes resting on Black, still,
watching how the man’s pale features were illuminated in the firelight. At first glance, Black looked almost like a
vampire, with his sunken eyes and skeletal build—but it was those eyes, now,
that seemed to change. Somehow, they
were coming alive, little by little, and Harry found now that Black would meet
his gaze openly. There was still much
hidden in the depths of his eyes, but there was strength, too…and something
that inspired the boy wizard to trust this stranger, escaped convict or no.
Dumbledore told you why Voldemort wants you, Harry?” Black asked abruptly.
shook his head mutely, staring. Harry
remembered asking, once, back in his first year at Hogwarts—but what had
Dumbledore said? When you’re older,
Harry. He could almost hear the
headmaster saying those words. It was
always when he was older.
a prophecy,” the other began quietly, moving forward and sitting across from
Harry at the dirty table. “I never heard
it, but your father told me a little bit about it. The prophecy says that a boy will be the one
to defeat Voldemort…a boy who was born in July of 1980.” He swallowed hard. “That’s why he went after your parents. He wanted you.”
Harry whispered. Was it his fault
that his parents were dead? Harry
blinked, feeling torn and cold inside…had his parents died because Voldemort
wanted him dead? If so, it was all his fault, and—Black grabbed his wrist.
to me, Harry,” he said urgently, seemingly reading the boy’s mind. His touch was surprisingly gentle for one who
had spent twelve years in prison, charged with murdering thirteen people. “Your parents knew what they were doing. They made a choice to bring you into this
world, and to protect you… They’d be proud of what you’ve become. And they would never, ever, blame you
for their deaths.”
“But what?” Black cut him off gently. “I knew your parents for years. I knew your father better than I know
myself—and I know they wouldn’t blame you.
It’s not your fault. None of this
anyone’s to blame, it’s me. If I hadn’t
convinced them to switch at the last minute—” Black’s voice broke, and he
abruptly let go of Harry’s’ wrist, looking away. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am for that,
Harry,” he whispered shakily. “I would
have died before I betrayed James and Lily…but I as good as killed them.”
swallowed once more as the silence lengthened.
Somehow, he knew that he couldn’t say anything to make it better—not
now, not yet, and maybe not ever. But he
did recognize, from somewhere deep down inside, that chance was staring him in
now?” he finally asked. “I mean, we
can’t stay here, can we? The Ministry is
looking for us both…”
“Both of us?” Black’s eyes zoomed in on him, still haunted
and hurt, but highly intelligent, too.
“Why are they looking for you?”
blew up my aunt,” he answered, shamefaced.
smile finally creased Black’s face, and for a moment he looked vaguely
human. “You blew up your aunt?” he
didn’t mean to,” Harry objected, failing to see what was so funny about the
situation. “She insulted my parents.”
Black chuckled dryly; the sound seemed alien coming from behind his gaunt
face. “They’re not going to expel you or
throw you into prison for something like that, Harry. Magical children do that sometimes. It’s just part of growing up.”
“Oh.” Harry took a long moment to mull that one
over, remembering several other incidents in his childhood when he’d made
things happen when he was angry or confused.
It made sense, of course…but that didn’t really add up with his other
dealings with the Ministry of Magic.
Unfortunately, that didn’t solve their other problem. He frowned.
“But we still can’t stay here, can we?
Because they’re looking for you, I mean.
Won’t they know you’d come here?”
snorted. “Not likely. I certainly thought I’d come back to
this awful place…” he grimaced. “But you
are right. They might
figure out I’ve come here…especially Malfoy.”
where do we go?” Harry didn’t relish the idea of running away, and forgoing the
only life he’d come to love. But if
Black was right, and Voldemort’s followers were searching for him, there wasn’t
anyplace safe for him to stay—except for Hogwarts, and school didn’t start for
another two weeks.
decided to trust me, then,” Black said softly.
could have said that he didn’t really have a choice, but that would have been
lying. And it would have been
wrong. “Yeah,” he replied. “I have.”
it’s up to you,” his godfather replied.
“We can run, and try to stay ahead of the Death Eaters…or I can cast the
Fidelius Charm and keep you safe.”
“The what?” Harry asked.
Fidelius Charm,” Black answered grimly. “The charm that was
supposed to keep your parents safe.”
Lupin sat quietly, staring blankly at the newspaper over a cup of tea. He didn’t really care about the tea, of
course; it was cooling rapidly and he wasn’t paying attention. Then again, he hadn’t made the tea because he
was thirsty, either. Remus had cooked up
a pot in the hopes that it might soothe his frayed and frazzled nerves.
“BLACK SPOTTED BY MUGGLES IN
LITTLE WHINGING,” the headlines read. The very thought of that made his stomach
churn. It had been bad enough knowing
that Sirius—Black!—had escaped, but now… Now it was so much worse. Remus wasn’t dumb enough to have forgotten
where Lily’s sister and her husband lived.
And he certainly wasn’t dense enough not to understand why Sirius had
Sirius? he thought for the millionth time…but now
the question was different. Before, he’d
always wanted to know why his friend had betrayed James and Lily, and had
killed Peter—poor little Peter. Now he
just burned to know why Sirius had to slay their son, too. Hadn’t James and Lily been enough? Cold bile rose in his throat. Haven’t you done enough?
far away, on the kitchen table of his small cottage, sat a letter from Albus
Dumbledore. It was dated the day that
Sirius escaped Azkaban, the day when Remus’ world had turned upside down. For a dozen years he had been fighting to
overcome his past, bouncing from job to job and trying to pretend that he
didn’t yearn for the friends that he’d lost.
Remus had moved beyond those blissful—dark—years; he had left
them behind. He had refused Dumbledore’s
offer of a job more than once—the last count had been six times, for six
consecutive years. He hadn’t wanted
pity, and he hadn’t wanted charity, and no matter how much Hogwarts’ headmaster
claimed that he was offering neither, Remus hadn’t been convinced.
Until that letter.
need you, Remus, it had read without preamble. Now, more than ever.
I’m certain you know, Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban. You and I both know what—and who—he will be
after. And I believe you, more than
anyone, can recognize the danger he presents.
Especially to Harry.
didn’t even need to read the letter again.
Remus remembered it word for bloody word.
I will not lie to you. I need a Defense Against
the Dark Arts teacher whom I can trust.
I know you have turned me down many times, but I again ask you to
reconsider, especially in light of recent events. Out of anyone living, you know Sirius Black
the best of all. If anyone can predict
him, it is you.
of course, he had accepted. What else
could he do? Harry was the only living
reminder of a beautiful friendship, aside from Remus himself. Harry was the only thing that was left of
James and Lily, two of the best friends he had ever had. He was the little boy who Remus had babysat,
who Peter had almost dropped and Sirius had jokingly threatened to steal—Stop
this! he commanded himself, feeling old emotions
begin to rise. Don’t think of
him. He’s your enemy, now, and has been
ever since he betrayed us all.
swallowed hard, forcing the memories away.
He had to focus on the future, not the past. He was going to Hogwarts. Against all odds, he was going to fulfill one
of his wildest childhood fantasies—Remus J. Lupin, werewolf, was going to
become a teacher.
the situation hadn’t been so desperate, he might have celebrated. But now, werewolf and danger to the children
or not, the gains outweighed the risks.
He wasn’t going there just to teach Defense Against
the Dark Arts. His purpose ran much,
much deeper than that; he was there to stop, and possibly—hopefully—recapture
one of his best and oldest friends and send Sirius back to Azkaban where he
belonged. If he had to be, Remus would
become the human shield between Harry Potter and Sirius Black.
was the least he could do.
a convulsive motion, Remus stood and tore his mind off of Harry Potter, Sirius
Black, and Albus Dumbledore. He had two
weeks before the school year started, and he had a lot of research to do during
that time. Although he had always loved
books, his recent bedside reading hadn’t exactly consisted of proper Defense Against the Dark Arts materials. After all, it wasn’t as if Remus ever
expected to use those skills again. His
kind wasn’t precisely welcomed into teaching, or into the Aurors—no matter how
open-minded wizards like Albus Dumbledore were, most of the magical community
despised werewolves. Wandering over to a
bookshelf, the future professor removed a volume from the top.
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection had been his own text back in his Hogwarts days, and
Remus saw no reason to change it. It was
a good book that covered all the basics, including Dark Creatures (though the
werewolf section was a tad inaccurate, in truth) to the Unforgivables
to Defensive Spells. He’d already
selected a more advanced book for the fifth, sixth, and seventh years, of
course, but for the first four, Trimble’s book would do just fine. Flipping through the pages once more, though,
threatened to bring tears to Remus’ eyes.
This is crap, Peter’s handwriting
declared on the werewolf page. Even I know better!
turned the page, trying to blink the sudden mist out of his vision and
concentrate. He’d been searching for
good topics to open the third year with…hadn’t he? His searching fingers suddenly landed on the Unforgivables section.
They ought to make
the Dark Mark an Unforgivable, James had written in fourth year. For once, he’d been quite serious—but then
again, James had always done well in class, and Remus couldn’t help but
agree. As soon as he had thought that,
though, the sudden image of the Dark Mark floating over Godric’s Hollow invaded
He tried to slam the book
shut, but not before Sirius Black’s untidy scrawl leapt off the page at
him. What’s the use?
Sirius had wondered darkly. The
Death Eaters won’t care.
Then the tears spilled over,
and Remus Lupin wept for the man he would hunt and for the boy that had once
been his friend.
came all too soon at Grimmauld Place; having been up for most of the night,
Harry had begun nodding off as Black started to explain the Fidelius
Charm, and the older wizard had abruptly sent him to bed, promising that he
would explain further in the morning. A
few Cleaning Charms had both left Black scowling and made one of the rooms
habitable enough for the night, and Harry had fallen asleep almost before he
could take his shoes off. He had so much
to think about, and had wanted to stay awake at least long enough sort out some
of the mysteries that were whirling around in his head, but he’d failed
dismally, and only woke up to the smell of bacon.
sat up, rubbing his eyes. Sometime, when
he hadn’t noticed, his trunk had found its way into the room he was in. Daylight made the room look larger than it had
the night before, but it also was disgustingly dirty—Black’s quick work had
conjured up a set of clean sheets and a pillow, and had made the bed livable,
but not much else. Taking a deep breath
made Harry sneeze, and he quickly decided to dress and go downstairs before any
more dust could invade his sinuses.
kitchen had been improved somewhat; the dust was gone and the hanging pots and
pans seemed less ominous than the night before.
Also, the pantry was open and fully stocked with food. Harry blinked groggily.
that come from?” he wondered.
jumped, twisting around with an expression of surprise on his face. For a long moment, something deep and haunted
flashed in his eyes, but it disappeared before Harry could think of what to say.
he offered quietly. “I didn’t mean to
all right.” Black offered a forced smile.
His voice, however, sounded like he was still trying to remember how to
use it. “I was just going to get you up. It’s almost eleven.”
“Oh.” Harry had never slept that late in his entire
life; the Dursleys would never have thought
about letting him sleep in. It was odd,
too, watching someone else cook. Aside
from the short time Harry had spent at the Burrow the preceding summer, he’d always
been the one slaving over the stove and cooking in the Muggle way. Black, however, seemed fairly proficient, and
several frying pans were flipping eggs by themselves and a flick of his wand
levitated bacon out of another pan and floated it over to a plate.
can sit down,” Black said, glancing over his shoulder at him. “Breakfast will be ready in a minute.”
“Okay.” Feeling weird, he glanced around for
something to drink before sitting down.
Once he spotted a carton of orange juice, though, he sat down at the
table, wondering what he ought to do and finding himself watching Black
the first time, he noticed that Black’s dingy hair had been cut shorter; it no
longer hung down to his elbows and seemed cleaner than before. He had shaved, too, leaving behind a neatly
trimmed goatee instead of the full beard that he’d had when Harry had first
seen him. He’d also apparently found some wearable robes in the house, because
Black almost looked like a normal person instead of the escaped convict that
he’d been the night before. If he hadn’t
been so skinny and his eyes hadn’t been so haunted, Harry might even have been
thoughts were interrupted by food landing on the table, and Harry’s stomach
rumbled, reminding him of how hungry he was. He hadn’t eaten since dinner the
night before, and suddenly that seemed ages ago. However, he waited cautiously, not quite sure
how to react, and earned a strange look from Black in response.
ahead,” his godfather said, seemingly surprised that Harry hadn’t served
himself already. “It’s safe.”
didn’t—” Harry tried to say that it wasn’t that he mistrusted Black’s cooking,
but he found his objection waved away.
haven’t cooked in years, obviously, but the spells are simple enough, and I
sent Kreacher to get the food early this
morning.” Black’s sentences were
becoming longer now, as if he was rapidly adjusting to human conversation once
more. As if to prove his point, the scrawny
wizard heaped a good amount of food onto his plate and gestured once more for
Harry to do the same.
Kreacher?” he finally asked through a mouthful of
bacon, too hungry to think about manners.
Black didn’t seem to mind.
“House elf.” He
scowled. “Complete nutter,
and I didn’t expect him to still be here—thought my Mum would have decapitated
him by now—but dead useful, as I can’t exactly go shopping without being
have a house elf?” Harry asked, thinking of the horrid mess that the house was.
“Yeah. Not a very
efficient one, or a very polite one, but Kreacher is
definitely a house elf.” Black’s nose
wrinkled up in an expression of extreme distaste. “If we’re going to stay here, though, we’ll
have to do a lot of cleaning ourselves.”
about that look told Harry that Black really didn’t like that place, though
Harry had gathered that it was his home.
“Do you want to stay here?” he asked quietly. “I can go anywhere…”
it’s the safest place available,” Black grunted. “It’s Unplottable
and heavily defended, so anyone who tries to come in is in for a nasty
surprise. And with the Fidelius Charm in place, no one will have a chance of
exactly is the Fidelius Charm?” He distinctly
remembered asking the same question the night—or had it been morning?—before,
but Harry knew that he’d fallen asleep before he could get an answer.
magical concealment of a secret inside one person,” his godfather replied. “In your case, the secret would be your
location. No one would be able to find
you unless your Secret Keeper told them were you
swallowed, thinking of all the possibilities.
“You’d do that for me?” he asked very quietly. “I mean, what if…?” He couldn’t bring himself
what I should have done for your parents,” Black replied hoarsely, a shadow
passing over his eyes. “I’ve spent the
last twelve years in prison, Harry, when I should have been protecting
you. If I’d have been a little bit
smarter, or a little bit faster, none of this would have happened… At the very
least, I owe this to your parents. I owe
it to you.”
opened his mouth to respond, but no words would come. Slowly, Black reached out and put a hand on
know you’ve never had a real family, and trust doesn’t come easily to you,” he
said softly. “But I’d die before I
betrayed you. I don’t say that to scare
you, but you need to know. I’ve messed
up a lot in my life, but I won’t fail you.”
never thought you would,” Harry whispered, meeting his eyes. Black was right in many ways, and he barely
knew the man—but in those haunted blue eyes he saw truth, and he saw hope. Most importantly of all, though, he saw
do I need to do?”