THREE: THE RISING
first few days hadn’t been exactly difficult, but they had been trying. If someone had asked Harry how he would
expect to spend his time with an escaped convict, cleaning wouldn’t have been
high on his list of answers. Yet there
they were, cleaning and cleaning and cleaning…and coming to know one another in
odd, Harry would later reflect, how quickly he had come to trust Sirius. But in
his father’s best friend he often saw a reflection of himself—a lonely and
burdened man who was desperately trying to overcome the injustices that life
had done him. Sirius, too, lacked any
connection to the real world, and in many ways, that seemed to bring him and
Harry closer. They were each the only
family that the other had.
by little, Sirius told Harry of the past.
As he shared the funnier stories with the boy, the laughter would begin
to creep back into his eyes until it was quashed by the vivid nightmares Harry
knew he had each night. The moments of
melancholy, however, came fewer and further between, and there were times when
the two of them could laugh easily, almost as if they were real family, and not
caught in the dark tides of time. The
unorthodox pair of convict and boy tackled the bedrooms first, and then moved
onto the drawing room; by unspoken agreement, they decided to put off dealing
with things like Mrs. Black’s ghastly portrait and the boggart
that was still stuck in the writing desk.
now and then, if pressed, Sirius would tell Harry about the war. He spoke very quietly about the time leading
up to James and Lily Potter’s deaths, about how no one could be sure who to
trust—and about the fatal mistake he’d made.
More than once, he’d told Harry about Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew,
friends who had either betrayed or been betrayed. His emotional scars were most evident, then,
and usually he’d trail off into silence mid-way through a story. Harry learned not to push too hard; in the
end, he figured that there was plenty of time.
In that, he was both completely right and very wrong.
how does this work when I need to go back to Hogwarts?” Harry asked on the
fourth day, which left him only a week and a half before he had to meet the
Hogwarts Express. “I mean, does the Fidelius Charm just go away, or do I just end up invisible
to everyone but you?”
snorted. “Not quite. Technically speaking, the secret that the Fidelius Charm is hiding is your location, not your
existence. Once you leave Grimmauld Place,
anyone can see you, and you’ll be able to go back to Hogwarts normally.”
will you do, then?” Harry suddenly wondered.
over you,” his godfather replied. Then
his voice tightened menacingly. “Find a
way to stop Peter.”
which he meant that he really wanted kill Peter but wouldn’t, Harry was
well aware, but he couldn’t really argue.
Not after he’d learned what Pettigrew had done to his parents, or what
Pettigrew had done to his friends.
Learning that Scabbers was really Pettigrew
had also been the last straw; Sirius had a hard time stopping Harry from owling Ron right away to let his friend know that his “pet”
rat was really a murderer. In the end,
though, Sirius’ view had prevailed—and perhaps Harry had a bit of a steadying
influence on his godfather, as well.
After all, without Sirius, he only had the Dursleys,
and Harry had finally convinced his godfather to try justice first.
you just tell Dumbledore?” Harry asked after a moment’s reflection.
“Sure. If he’ll believe me,” Sirius replied
Harry dropped the coat rack he’d been
wrestling with and stared at Sirius. “What d’you
mean? He’s got to see the truth!”
necessarily.” Sirius sighed and turned
to face Harry. “The way Dumbledore sees
it, they already know the truth.
I was such the obvious choice, and everyone knew that I’d be James’
Secret Keeper if he needed one.” His
voice grew very quiet. “Dumbledore had
tried to point that out to us, and we just acted like we didn’t agree…then
changed anyway. But so far as they know,
Peter’s dead, and no one knew he was an Animagus to
begin with. Except Remus, and he’d
probably as soon kill me as talk to me.”
if you bring them Peter, and…?” And what? a nasty little voice asked
inside his head. What if they don’t
if they don’t find me before I can find Peter, we’ve got a chance.” His godfather shrugged. “Dumbledore’s a fair man, Harry, no matter
what. He’ll hear me out. And I suppose that’s all I can ask for, all
not your fault,” Harry said quietly.
just snorted again. “Damn close enough.”
Hogwarts, the door to Albus Dumbledore’s office flew open without warning.
the aged headmaster looked up, immediately wary of the serious look on his
Potions Master’s face. Dumbledore had
rarely seen Snape so pale, or with eyes that were so wide—and there was fear
carefully hidden in the shadows of those black pupils, too. Immediately, the headmaster was on his feet,
instinctively searching for unseen threats, but there was nothing.
swipe of Snape’s wand made the door slam shut forcefully. “He’s back,” the pale wizard said without
then, he only knew one man whom Severus could be talking about.
Dark Lord,” the other replied. “Malfoy
and the others preformed a blood ritual…” Snape took a deep breath. “Avery is dead and so is Amelia Bones.”
Dumbledore’s mind was racing, and he felt a
chill race down his spine—suddenly, he felt very old. He had to sit down, soon, or he wouldn’t be
able to stand… So, slowly, he lowered himself back into the antique chair that
had felt so comfortable and secure only moments before. “Slow down, Severus,” he finally was able to
say. “Tell me from the beginning.”
summoned by Lucius Malfoy to aid in the ritual,” Snape began uneasily. “Avery was to be the willing servant, and
Bones the enemy—the Dark Lord wanted Potter, but he escaped. It’s ancient magic, of which I’m sure you’re
escaped them? How?” And how did they defeat the wards upon
Privet Drive? His heart was pounding
like a roaring storm in his ears, and Dumbledore found it difficult to
concentrate. Snape, however, sneered.
would you believe?” he snarled. “Somehow
Malfoy and Avery found the boy outside of his relatives’ house, but Black
intervened. Somehow. Lucius was too furious to make much sense,
but he Stunned both Lucius and Avery and made off with the boy.”
shrugged. “He’s insane, clearly
enough. The fool either doesn’t remember
what is going on or wants to finish Potter off himself—”
you know where Harry is now?” Albus cut him off.
“No. But the Dark Lord still wants him, that’s
certain enough—and he was not especially pleased that Avery was used in the boy’s
place.” Snape shuddered slightly. “Lucius was, however, smooth enough to
extract himself from the situation, earning the Dark Lord’s gratitude for
resurrecting him. Unsurprisingly
mind was working ridiculously slow. He
let out a cleansing breath, trying to calm his racing heart, but it did no
good. For years, he’d known that
Voldemort would return, but he’d never expected it to happen so quickly, and
without warning at all—but he knew that Severus was not lying to him. Albus knew him better than that.
mark is still burning,” the Potions Master continued quietly, lifting the
sleeve of his robe unbidden. There,
black and angry, gleamed Voldemort’s Dark Mark.
It was growing red around the edges, now, fading very slowly, but the
strength and power behind the mark told Albus that the impossible had
happened…Voldemort was back. If he
hadn’t believed Severus, this would be proof enough.
well, then,” he said softly. “I shall
assemble the Order.”
AMELIA BONES FOUND DEAD
Early this morning, Amelia Bones, the longtime head
Law Enforcement, was found dead near Little Hangleton. At the
present, the cause of Madam Bones’ death is
Little Hangleton is located
over two hundred miles away from
where the Bones family resides, and it is unclear
what the head
of the DMLE was doing in
that area so late at night. Ministry of
Magic officials are currently conducting a thorough
investigation into her untimely demise, and homicide
has not yet
been ruled out as a cause of death.
Although the Ministry has not yet released the
Bones’ death, an eyewitness (who declines to be
notes that the cause of death is hard to mistake, as
Bones’ head has yet to be found.
had been the first to read their copy of the Daily Prophet, but due to
his muffled exclamation, Sirius was looking over his shoulder by the time he’d
finished with the front page. Expecting
his godfather to comment, Harry glanced upwards, but encountered only stonily
pale features and grim eyes. Sirius
wasn’t wearing the haunted expression that Harry had grown accustomed to
seeing, though; instead his face was a study in blankness, in empty
concentration. It wasn’t something Harry
had ever from him before, and the lack of reaction was startling for a moment,
until Sirius swore.
colorfully, and creatively.
a long moment, his godfather seemed to regain his composure, but his eyes were
still very angry.
is it?” Harry asked, certain that Sirius understood something that he did
not. However, he received no answer.
Sirius strode over to a nearby bookshelf, scanning the titles one by one. His eyes flickered rapidly over each volume,
until he found the one he wanted, which was clearly the oldest book on the
shelf. A completely irrelevant thought
crossed Harry’s mind as Sirius pulled the dilapidated book off the shelf—Hermione
would kill to get a hold of this library.
Dust clouded the air as Sirius set the book down on a nearby table,
wrenching it open without regard to its fragility or age. His fingers flew down the pages, searching
and scanning…but for what?
opened his mouth to ask, then thought the better of it, watching in silence
instead. Finally, Sirius let out another
exclamation; this one was slightly milder and much quieter, but somehow seemed
all the more angry from the way he hissed out the words between clenched teeth.
“Damn. Damn, damn!”
is it?” the boy wizard repeated, moving over to Sirius’ side to look at the
magic,” his godfather answered tightly, “very dark, and very old.”
even as Harry tried to peer at the torn, wrinkled, and faded pages of the old
book, Sirius, in a fit of temper, seized the book and chucked it against the
far wall. The book hit hard and fell to
the floor quickly, trailing pieces of pages as it went. For a long time, Harry stood in surprised
silence as the pages fluttered lazily to the ground, peering alternately at the
partially-destroyed book and his godfather’s angry face. After a moment, though, Sirius’ angry faded
abruptly, and the older wizard sighed, slumping against the table.
nothing,” he whispered. “All that, and
suddenly seemed ancient and sad, and Harry could see the lines etched by every
loss in his face and heart. He closed
his eyes briefly and let out a long breath; for the space of only a second,
Harry swore that he saw Sirius’ hands shake.
he whispered, feeling a fool but having to ask.
eyes opened. “Don’t you see it, Harry?”
he asked sadly. “Voldemort is back.”
“How?” Suddenly, he felt very cold. Sirius had to be wrong. He had to be.
magic, outlawed long before you were born.”
Wearily, Sirius walked over and picked up several chunks of the book
he’d thrown, flipping again to the proper page.
He read in silence for a moment.
“I see now why Malfoy wanted you.
Your blood, your death, in the ritual would have strengthened Voldemort
swallowed. It was hard to believe… “He’s
really back? You’re sure?”
“No. Not sure…but I can’t think of what else it
might be. No wizard kills by
decapitation, Harry. Not when the
Killing Curse is so much more efficient.”
He shook his head. “I could be
wrong, of course, and I pray that I am…but nothing else fits. Nothing else makes sense.”
glad you found me, then,” Harry found himself saying in a tiny voice.
too, kid.” Sirius put the book down and
placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I’ll
try to get a hold of Dumbledore…he’ll know what to do.”
Harry looked up sharply. “I thought you said that he wouldn’t believe
may not,” Sirius admitted. “But this is
much more important. Even the Fidelius Charm may not be enough to protect you now—not
with Voldemort on the loose. We need to
get you back to Hogwarts.”
“I—okay.” Harry opened his mouth to object, to say that
he didn’t want to not live with Sirius, but he knew that his godfather was
right. And the last thing he wanted to
do was put his godfather in danger because Voldemort wanted him. Sirius had had a hard enough life already
without risking everything to protect Harry, no matter what he said he wanted
worry,” his godfather reassured him, misinterpreting Harry’s hesitation. “I’m just being paranoid. The Fidelius Charm
has never been broken before…and I’m not about to tell Voldemort where you
are. No matter what.”
matter what. The seriousness in
Sirius’ voice told Harry exactly what he meant, although many adults would
probably have assumed that Harry was too young to understand. Inside though, he shuddered, thinking of what
Voldemort would do to Sirius if he found him, of what lengths the Dark Lord would
be willing to go just to get Harry. To
tear his mind away from such dark thoughts, Harry changed the subject.
are you the only adult other than Dumbledore that I’ve heard call him
Voldemort?” he asked. “Everyone else—Mr.
and Mrs. Weasley, Professor McGonagall—seems afraid to.”
shrugged. “I’ve never thought that
saying a name lends power to someone, I guess,” he replied. “And it seems slightly foolish to hide from
Harry couldn’t get Sirius’ words out of his head, couldn’t escape the
conclusion that Sirius was right. Voldemort
is back. It seemed impossible. Ever since Harry had been introduced to the
Wizarding world, he had been worshiped as the Boy-Who-Lived, the defeater of
Lord Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard to ever live. Everywhere he went, people stared at the scar
Voldemort had given him, and thanked Harry for saving their world from
such terror. What would they think of
him now, the Boy-Who-Couldn’t-Keep-Voldemort-Down? From what little he understood of the
previous war, Harry knew that the light side might not have won at all if it
hadn’t been for his own blind luck…so could they even realistically hope to win
now? To defeat a reborn and powerful
much wanted to believe that Sirius was wrong, and could tell from the look on
his godfather’s face that Sirius was wishing the same thing. But Harry knew, in his heart and soul, that
Sirius was right. Voldemort was back—and
now the faceless nightmares that had been plaguing him for the last month made
all too perfect sense. Somehow, he’d
known that it was going to happen. He
had known that peace wouldn’t last.
Harry felt cheated, now, knowing that this one chance at happiness that he’d
ever had was about to fade away. “What
now?” he whispered, sounding despondent even to his own ears.
fight.” Sirius’ hand was still on his
shoulder, and it squeezed slightly, comfortingly. “Just as we always have. It won’t be easy, but things worth doing
going to come after me, isn’t he?” Harry asked quietly. “He has to.”
“Yes.” At least Sirius wouldn’t lie to him. He never had.
don’t know, Harry,” his godfather replied quietly. “But I can promise you this…you won’t be
alone. Not again. Not ever.”
glanced up Sirius, hearing the promise in his voice. It was odd how, despite having known his
godfather for only a few days, he trusted him so much. And Harry cared for Sirius, as well, like
he’d never cared for anyone except for Ron and Hermione. That same care, he saw, was reflected upon
his godfather’s face.
know,” he said.
impulse, he hugged Sirius. The motion
clearly took his godfather by surprise, because Harry felt him hesitate, but
after a moment, Sirius’ arms wrapped around him as well. Harry had never initiated a hug with anyone
before, but he’d wanted to let Sirius know that neither of them was
alone, and he hadn’t been able to find the words to say so. And words were not needed; they stood in silence
and simply understood. In that moment,
Harry knew that he did have a true family, and a lack of blood ties did not
make it any weaker at all. He wasn’t
alone any more, and he knew that Sirius would never abandon him.