Descent into Darkness

BY : Athey1024
Category: Harry Potter AU/AR > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 69308
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor any of the characters from the books or movies. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.


 



Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter. JKRowling does.



First Beta Pass by Clemex



– –



Severus came to stand before the gargoyle entrance to the headmaster's office and took a deep calming breath as he quickly locked away all of his conflicting emotions tightly behind his occlumency shields.



The last month had been both enlightening and trying on his patience. Going back to the Dark had brought an amalgam of emotions to the surface that he had spent a decade suppressing. But if he was being totally honest with himself, the most prominent emotion of them all had been... relief.



Potter had been right about one thing. Serving the Light had most certainly not been fulfilling. Everything about aiding the Light had felt wrong. It made his skin itch with disgust and frustration. He was a Dark Wizard and the Dark was where he belonged. If it hadn't been for his guilt and his strong emotional ties to Lily, he never, never would have gone to Dumbledore.



Allowing himself to become the servant to the Light Lord had been the one thing he had regretted most about his life, but he couldn't leave the man. He was trapped. Dumbledore's protection was the only thing that kept him out of Azkaban. He argued with himself that he had a decent enough life. He had a job that he could... tolerate, a regular income, a roof over his head, and freedom. Well, relative freedom.



But now with the Dark Lord back, he had an alternative. Before it was stay with Dumbledore or face the dementors. Now he had somewhere else to turn. Somewhere he felt far more at home turning to. He belonged with the Dark, and he held the Dark Lord with reverence and respect. True, he also feared the man. You would have to be insane not to. But he had always felt the draw to the Dark, and when the Dark Lord came into power during Severus's youth, he had been drawn to the Dark Lord like a moth to flame. His desire to remain by the man's side had never waned, but his love and loyalty to Lily Evans had been his one weak point.



A weakness that Albus Dumbledore had exploited to gain himself a spy and a servant.



Being the master of deception that he was, Severus had not had any problems concealing his conflicting emotions over the last month. But Albus had been utterly oblivious during that time. He had had no reason to give any of Severus's behavior any deeper analyzing. Now the Headmaster would know he had been to see the Dark Lord. Now he would be watching to make sure that Severus was remaining loyal. Now would truly test Severus's skill as a double agent.



Steeling himself he stood tall and spoke the password to the gargoyle. Peanut Butter Cups. He sneered in distaste at the old man's idiotic obsession with sweets as he stepped onto the spiral staircase and climbed up to the double-doors that entered the headmaster's office.



"Come in Severus," the old man's voice sounded from behind the door before his hand had even reached out to grasp the handle. He had expected this of course. He knew damn well that the headmaster had proximity wards that alerted him to when someone, and whom, approached his office.



Severus pulled open the door and stepped inside, quickly making his way to sit down in the chair opposite the headmaster's desk.



Dumbledore looked tired and his face was lined with worry, but Severus could see that there was something hidden behind his eyes. Something kept masterfully hidden.



"Severus, you were gone for a very long time. I was beginning to grow worried," Dumbledore said.



I'm sure you were... worried you would lose your spy.



"I am as well as could be expected."



"What happened? Has he... has he truly returned?"



"He has. Apparently he has had a body for quite some time, in fact. He has been preparing and warding his new stronghold while secretly making contact with a select few of his old followers. Tonight was the first time he called a group of us back to his side."



Dumbledore's eyes widened. "For some time? How long, exactly?"



"I am not sure. He was not specific."



"How strong did he appear to be?"



"Full strength. I haven't felt a magical presence so strong... since during the height of his last reign."



Dumbledore frowned deeply and looked troubled as he clasped his hands in front of him on his desk. "This is most troubling... Did you see who all was in attendance?"



"Only a very small number of his followers returned to him. In total there were only six of us there. They were all dressed in black with full masks, but I know that Lucius Malfoy and Royce Avery were both there."



"Only six?" Dumbledore asked with a hopeful air to his voice.



"He was most displeased by the low turn-out."



"Hmm..." Dumbledore hummed thoughtfully as he nodded. "You were gone more more than four hours – what all was discussed during the meeting?"



"He described to those of us who were there what happened to him during his time... away. He also expressed his intense displeasure that none of us ever sought him out to assist him in his return."



"Were you cursed, Severus?" Dumbledore asked suddenly as he sat up straighter and took on an air of worried concern.



"I was not. But several of the others were."



"I am most relieved that you were spared."



Severus chose to simply respond with a nod at that remark.



"What else, Severus?"



Severus went on to explain all of the various things that the Dark Lord had instructed him to relay to the headmaster. Next to none of it was actually true, but it was convincing, and sufficiently misleading, so it would serve it's purpose.



"Did he speak of any of his plans for Harry?" Dumbledore asked after Severus had reached a break in his information relay.



"He said that he had very specific plans already in motion and that we were not to interfere in them. It would seem that Potter's entrance into the tournament was the Dark Lord's doing, after all. However it was part of a failed plot that was apparently discarded several months ago. Bartemius Crouch Sr. disappearance is somehow related to it but I am unfamiliar with the details. Once the plan was abandoned, Potter's continued participation in the tournament was no longer important, but had become inconsequential. The fact that he survived it was apparently disappointing, but not unexpected. The Dark Lord said that he would have been annoyed had he been denied the opportunity to deal with the boy himself."



Dumbledore looked troubled and nodded his head thoughtfully. "Thank you for what you've discovered. Please do you best to discover what his plans regarding Harry might be."



"I will see what I can do, however he seems to be holding his secrets most dear to him at the moment. He was never one for trusting his followers with the details of his plans, and he seems even more secretive at the moment. Much of the time tonight was spent getting intelligence from the few of us who returned to him."



Again, Dumbledore nodded.



"There is one more thing," Severus said slowly.



"Yes, my boy?"



Severus let out a mild sneer at the endearment, but this was normal behavior for Severus, so he knew Dumbledore would not take it badly.



"There was one unknown person who is apparently staying at his headquarters with him. "



"Oh?"



"He was a younger man that the Dark Lord called 'Evan Harris'. He looked to be a little more than twenty and was wearing a half-mask instead of the normal full mask. The Dark Lord called the young man his 'apprentice' and instructed us that if he were ever absent from the manor that we could give any reports to the young man instead."



Dumbledore sat up straighter in his chair and looked legitimately alarmed for the first time that night. "Apprentice?"



"Yes."



"Evan Harris... There haven't been any students at Hogwarts by that name as I can recall. I will have to go looking through the records to make sure... Did he look or sound familiar to you?"



"I did not recognize him. Though his unique mask left more of his face visible than is normal, I was still unable to see much. From what I could tell he had blondish colored hair. It was long since it was coming out from under his hood."



"And you say he's living there?"



"That is what the Dark Lord said."



Dumbledore sat with his hand folded under his chin, and silently contemplating for a long, silent moment before he looked up again. "Thank you Severus, again, for all that you are doing. It will be a tremendous help to me. I cannot express enough how important your contribution to the cause is."



Severus's lip curled in distaste, but he kept it to a minimum.



"It would seem that I will need to call the old crowd back together. With Voldemort's return confirmed it is imperative that we act as soon as possible."



– –



It was nearly 5am before Harry crawled back into his bed in Gryffindor Tower. He had been sorely tempted to just sleep at the manor, but knew that would be reckless and not really worth the risk of people noticing him not having actually slept in his bed. The only consolation was that the next day was a Saturday, so he could sleep in without anyone having anything to complain about.



Exams were now done, for just about everyone. All that remained were some NEWT exams that would be held on Monday and Tuesday. Everyone else had the week to relax around the castle until the end of year feast on Thursday, and then the train ride back to London on Friday. That gave Harry only a few days leeway in speaking with Sirius again.



Harry slept in again on Sunday, and found himself annoyingly occupied all day. He even had trouble slipping away to pay Tom a visit, and hadn't been able to free up enough time to slip away to Sirius's cave so he decided to schedule a nice solid block of time to do it on Monday.



As of dinner on Sunday evening, Harry was positive that Draco had had recent correspondence with his father because the Slytherin was looking at him with whole new eyes. Despite their encounters, conversations, and the fact that Harry had clearly been using Dark magic, Draco had still been skeptical about the validity of his claims... until now. Now it had been confirmed by the Dark Lord himself, and it looked as if Draco were going to have a brain aneurysm from the mere concept.



Harry Potter really had switched to the Dark.



Harry shot him a secret smirk and winked at him, causing the Malfoy heir to go wide eyed and quickly look away. Harry snorted into his food, catching the attention of Ron and Ginny, but he brushed their curiosity off.



Monday morning Harry managed to slip away from everyone, with the excuse that he needed some fresh air, some alone time, and the opportunity to take a nice long walk around the castle before he had to leave it behind for the summer holidays. His friends all knew how sentimental he was about the school, so they accepted this easily.



He shrunk his broom and slipped it into his bag so he wouldn't have to make the long trek to the cave on foot, and slipped out across the grounds under his invisibility cloak. Once he had escaped the wards, he enlarged his broom, hopped on while keeping the cloak draped over him, and flew low across the hilly terrain towards the cave that Sirius had lived in for the last few months.



Harry was relieved to find Sirius there when he arrived. He was sleeping on a rough pallet bed with only a few rather dirty blankets for cover. The sight made Harry frown deeply, and only increased his desire to help his godfather. While deep down he really did wish that his godfather could accept the Dark Lord, somehow deep inside, he really doubted it would really work out. Sirius Black really was a Gryffindor, and he had an ingrained hatred of the Dark Lord.



He felt so conflicted in regards to his godfather.



Harry stepped deeper into the cave, bowed to Buckbeak and waited for the hippogriff to return the gesture, and then knelt down beside Sirius on the cold stone floor.



"Sirius?" Harry said, as he gently shook his godfather's shoulder.



It took a minute of prodding but Sirius finally startled awake.



"Huh-h... H-harry?"



Harry chuckled and sat back on his haunches. "For someone whose on the run, you're a surprisingly deep sleeper.



"Er... had a late night..." the older wizard grumbled rubbing his hand across his jaw and standing groggily to his feet. Harry stood up with him and pulled out his cypress wand. He spelled them a pair of comfortable chairs and sat down in one while Sirius left the cave to relieve himself. By the time he had come back in, Harry had pulled out a bag of food and supplies and enlarged it. Sirius eagerly began the eat and the two sat in relative silence for several minutes.



Finally Harry broke the quiet. "Have you been giving it some thought?"



"Of course I have," Sirius said with a heavy sigh. "You know I got an owl yesterday from Dumbledore. He's calling the old crowd back together. Apparently he knows Voldie's back."



"Yup. There was a really large meeting two nights ago. The Dark Lord had Snape go to Dumbledore before hand, letting him know that he'd been summoned. As was expected, Dumbledore asked Snape to resume his role as spy and return to the Dark Lord. After the meeting, Snape was instructed to go back to Dumbledore and make a report on it."



"And you all honestly expect Snape to be loyal? The guy is a dirty two-faced snake. He'll always play both sides. How do you know he isn't really spying for Dumbledore and telling him all about where your loyalties really lie?"



"Severus is loyal to the Dark. It's where he's always wanted to be. He went to Dumbledore because he loved my mum and was afraid that the Dark Lord would kill her."



"And he did."



"Yes, but now Severus knows that Dumbledore was the one really pulling the strings. Dumbledore not only used Severus to deliver the fake prophecy that ended up painting a huge 'kill me' on our backs, but then he used Severus and tricked him into indenturing himself to Dumbledore by playing on his guilt. Besides, Snape has made an unbreakable vow to protect me, and has sworn his loyalties to the Dark Lord under oath. We're relatively sure of his allegiances. We're also going to be careful of just what he knows in regards to me."



Sirius opened his mouth to say something, but paused and got a funny look on his face. "Wait, he's sworn an unbreakable vow to protect you?"



"Apparently he did it years ago when he first went to Dumbledore and offered his services as a double agent. It was how he proved his loyalties. He wasn't willing to swear a vow to Dumbledore, but he was willing to swear one to Lily's son."



Sirius looked utterly gobsmacked and sat there stunned for a moment before he shook his head as if trying to clear it. "Alright..." he said slowly.



"So what are you going to do? About Dumbledore's letter, that is."



Sirius sighed and ran his hand through his dirty tangled hair. "I don't know, pup... I guess it depends on me going and joining up with your Dark Lord. If I do go and join Voldemort, then I guess it will be expected of me to go back to the Order. Thing is I'm not the actor that Snivelus is. I'm not cut out for spying. I also only have rudimentary occlumency training. I have to admit I'm hesitant to spend too much time around Dumbledore knowing what I know."



Harry nodded thoughtfully. "That's reasonable."



"But..." Sirius started hesitantly, "Dumbledore suggested in his letter that the Order is going to need a new headquarters to hold it's meetings in. He asked if I still had control over my families old home in London."



"Home in London?"



"Yeah, on Grimmauld Place. It's probably a downright rancid old place by now. Been sitting empty about a decade, at least. It's the house I grew up in."



"And do you still have control over it?"



"Of course. Could go there anytime. It's already unplottable and had enumerable protections and enchantments on the place, which is what would make it so ideal for the Order's headquarters."



"Wait, it sounds like if you went there, even the Ministry couldn't find you."



"That's right."



"So why haven't you gone back there?"



Sirius grimaced. "I'd rather live in a cave than go back to that house. I suppose it..." he sighed heavily. "No... I hated that house. I hated my family and I hated the time I spent in that house. I just didn't want to go back there unless I had to."



"Alright. So Dumbledore is asking if he can use the house for his Order?"



"Right. But he'd also want to put a Fidelius charm on the house for added protection."



"And who would be the Secret Keeper?"



"Him."



Harry grimaced.



"He 'graciously offered it' so that it would be an added layer of security to keep the Ministry from finding me. He also suggested that if we can get Grimmauld Place cleaned up enough by August, we could possibly bring you to stay with me."



"Sounds like he's trying to sweeten the deal to get the house. I wonder if he really meant it..."



"Yeah..." Sirius sighed again.



"Well..." Harry said slowly, "mind you this is if you accept our offer, but one option would be that you agree and offer up your miserable childhood home to Dumbledore for his Order, but you don't stick around to help clean the place up. Leave that to him to deal with. You tell him that you're heading out to try and track down Pettigrew and you run off and disappear for a month. You spend that month hanging with me at the manor. During that time, we can keep Pettigrew unconscious down in the holding cells while the Dark Lord makes sure that the obliviate holds firm on him. At the end of the month, you take Pettigrew to the Ministry and get your named cleared."



"You make it sound so easy," Sirius said with an eyeroll. "I doubt I'll be able to just walk into the Ministry with Wormtail and get my named cleared. If you recall, Fudge has a standing order that I be kissed on sight."



"We can work with that, don't worry."



Sirius gave Harry an incredulous look. "We?"



"To–The Dark Lord. He's got several Death Eaters in the Ministry that even Dumbledore doesn't know about. Plus I've placed the seeds inside Minister Fudge's little mind that I'm a fan of his. I even offered to just happen to show up in some public venue over the summer and give him an endorsement for his re-election this fall."



"WHAT? Give that idiot Fudge a public endorsement?"



"Of course. He's an incompetent idiot. He would rather look like he's doing something than actually doing it. It will be far easier to dismantle the Ministry from the inside out if it's being run by a do-nothing moron who listens to Lucius Malfoy's every word."



"Oh Merlin, Harry," Sirius moaned as he let his forehead fall into his hands. "I don't know if I can do this... siding with Lucius Malfoy... trying to 'dismantle the ministry'? At the very least, you're helping the Dark Lord plan a coup d'etat, and at the worst, a war!"



"The Magical government of Britain is a corrupt, ineffective, and bigoted bunch of sycophantic morons. They're worthless at governing and they need to go."



"And you think that Voldemort will do a better job?"



Harry sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair running his hand through his shaggy black hair. "Look, I doubt we'll ever make any progress on this front. We each have an exceedingly different impression of the man."



"You may say that he doesn't care about muggles and muggleborns this time around, but do you honestly think he's going to treat muggleborns fairly in this new government he makes?"



"Muggleborns are just the offspring of several generations removed squibs. No human is just spontaneously born with magic. There has to be some creature blood in their lineage. Granted, muggleborns have a lot more muggle contamination, but we all have non-magic, human contamination, that's just a fundamental fact."



Sirius made to say something, but then came up short. "Wait, what?"



"Here... I'm going to tell you some things and you have to promise not to repeat any of it to anyone, alright?"



"Okay..."



"The Dark Lord is a 'half blood'. His father was a muggle. Not even a muggleborn – a muggle."



Sirius gaped at him in stunned silence.



"His father abandoned he and his mum while she was pregnant and she died right after he was born so he was raised in a muggle orphanage. He didn't even know he was a wizard until he got his Hogwarts letter, and his witch mum gave him his muggle dad's name, so he went to Hogwarts and was sorted into Slytherin with absolutely no knowledge of his ancestry. Everyone assumed him to be a muggleborn. I'm sure you can imagine how a muggleborn was treated in Slytherin."



"It would have been a massacre," Sirius murmured under his breath.



"It definitely wasn't pleasant. But he was a parseltongue, and when that got out, some of his house mates started to realize that there was clearly more to him than met the eye. He was also an exceptionally talented wizard and more magically powerful than anyone else in the school at the time. He got top marks in all his subjects. He's a genius. So he got respect, but it was a grudging respect and he had to work his ass off for it. He learned to work with and manipulate his house mates to serve his needs, and that meant using their prejudices against them.



"He knows the truth about muggleborns, but it's not an idea that is easily introduced. The old pureblood families would have trouble accepting something like that, especially since so many squibs came from long pureblood lines, and then got disowned and thrown out into the muggle world to fend for themselves. Most so-called muggleborn children are actually descendants of really ancient pureblood lines. If the old families recognized this, they could be faced with having inheritances threatened.



"He wanted to wipe out the muggles, and it was easy to get people to follow him on that goal because of the prejudices many old wizarding families hold against them, but those same followers are just as prejudiced against the muggleborn and would target them as well. It was easier for the Dark Lord to let them do as they pleased because as long as they were happy they were helping him further his cause."



"But isn't that the same thing you've been complaining about Dumbledore? Willing to sacrifice innocents if it's for his 'greater good'?" Sirius argued.



"I never said Tom was perfect!" Harry snapped. "I never claimed that he wasn't a ruthless murderer. He is. I know that. He did some seriously fucked up shit in the past, and he's going to continue to do more in the future. I'm not excusing what he did or what he allowed to happen, but he isplanning a different tactic this time around, and hopes to keep the bloodshed to a minimum. He also intends to slowly reintroduce the old knowledge about the creature lineage descent and eventually let that bleed into the realization of where exactly 'muggleborns' actually come from."



"So you're claiming that Voldemort is going to set up a magical government where muggleborns are treated as equals?" Sirius asked incredulously.



Harry sighed. "Look, it's not going to happen overnight, and unfortunately there's a huge anti-muggleborn stigma attached to his cause right now, which will make things difficult in the beginning, but in the end his goal is to create a government that properly serves witches and wizards and even muggleborns are are still witches and wizards."



"You make it sound like he's the good guy. He's not the good guy, Harry!"



"There's isn't really any such thing as heroes and villains, Sirius. Good and evil don't exist. Very few people get into this stuff because they're legitimately evil. People have goals and motives and when someone is willing to fight for their ideals it's because they believe in what they're fighting for. They believe that they are the good guys. Everyone believes that they're the ones in the right and the people fighting against them are the ones who are wrong. It's all about perspective in the end. History is written by the victors, which is why the history books are always able to peg one side as evil while the other side – the winning side – were the heroes and saviors.



"Everyone has goals and objectives that they believe in and are willing to fight for, and no one fights with the goal of destroying the world unless they're an insane sociopath or something, and despite what you've been led to believe, Voldemort is not an insane sociopath.



"Dumbledore's side is fighting to maintain the status quo. That's what he's fighting for. To maintain the easy, already-established, and vaguely-functional government that we currently have in place. My side is fighting to tear it down and rebuild something that isn't a pathetic, ineffective, worthless pile of hippogriff dung run by incompetent imbeciles!"



"You make it sound nice, Harry, but in the end, your trying to rebuild it into a dictatorship with Voldemort sitting in a throne on top a pile of bloody corpses!"



"A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past."



"Oh, you want to throw quotes at me? Here's one. 'Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.'"



Harry sighed heavily and fell back in his chair, pinching his nose. "Look... we're getting nowhere. You clearly can't do this. Forget it. You vow still holds true. You can't tell Dumbledore –"



"Harry! Wait a damn minute!"



"No, Sirius. I realize I was just deluding myself, hoping I could help you, but in the end, you could never be happy over here with me. You will never be able to follow Voldemort. It's just not going to happen. You cannot be loyal to a man who you fundamentally despise, and nothing I say is going to change your mind on the issue."



"Harry! Come on now! Look, I said that I was going to stick by you and I meant it, I'm –"



"No. Just no. Look Sirius, if you come with me – if you take up the offer and exchange yourself for Peter, then you're committing yourself to our side. You will be expected to work towards our goals, and I just don't think you could be able to force yourself to do that in good conscience. You'd be miserable and you'd start to hate yourself, and I'm not going to put you into that position."



Sirius groaned loudly and collapsed back into his chair grumbling under his breath.



"You know I'm right. You just aren't cut out for this. Not for the Dark. Even knowing how badly Dumbledore has fucked you over, and how bad he's fucked me over... you still can't bring yourself to side with us. But I can understand that."



"I just don't understand how you can honestly think that Voldemort is going to make the world a better place!"



"And you think that Dumbledore will?"



"Well, alright, probably not him either, but –"



"Well I'm not seeing any other options right now. I'm picking Tom. I actually trust him."



"And there you go again! How can you possibly –"



"Just don't, Sirius. I'm not starting this again. Let's just agree to disagree and call it done."



Sirius looked like he wanted to argue, but then his face shifted to an expression of exhausted defeat and he let out a slow breath. The two sat in silence for a long minute.



"So what are you going to do now?" Harry asked, finally.



"I don't know..." Sirius said with another heavy sigh. "I'm not joining up with Dumbledore, that's for sure. I don't honestly think I could even stand to be in the room with the man, knowing what I know now."



Harry nodded his head solemnly. "I know how you feel. It was a real struggle not to curse the man the first few days after I learned about what he pulled with the prophecies. And I have to look at the bloody wanker every day at meals."



"See, I just don't know if I could do that. People would start to notice that there was something going on. I'm not that good an actor when I'm angry, Harry. I don't think I could convince the man that I still look up to and respect him. I don't think I even could do the spy thing for you."



Harry sighed. "Yeah... I know. I knew I was just being an idiot, trying to set this whole convoluted thing up. Tom told me that this probably wouldn't work out, but I had to try."



"You really spend a lot of time with the guy?"



Harry leaned his head forward and grinned at his godfather. "I know that to you, it sounds unfathomable, but I really do consider him a friend. More than that really. He... he gets me. He and I have so much in common it's bizarre. Our childhoods, the way our magic works, the way we approach problems... He knows just how to explain something to make it make perfect sense. Whenever I'm stuck on some magical concept or spell and I just can't get it, he has a way of making it clear as day with the simplest explanations. I mean, we didn't even talk politics for the first month or so that I was spending time with him. We just talked about everything else.



"And a bit over a month ago we sort of... I guess we broke down a barrier, and since then it's like there isn't anything we can't talk about. Sometimes I'll ask a question he doesn't want to deal with and he'll change the subject, but 9 out of 10 times, if I ask a question, he'll give me a straight answer. And as I've gotten more comfortable with him, I've started asking pretty much whatever the hell comes to mind. We've talked about each other's childhoods, we've talked about each of our experiences at Hogwarts, we've talked about how we each first started dabbling in the dark arts... I mean, he's been willing to share really intimate, personal stuff with me and I just... it's... he's really..." Harry huffed in frustration and ran his hand through his hair.



"It doesn't matter," Harry finally said, leaning forward in his chair and resting his elbows on his knees. "Just because can connect with him, doesn't mean that you ever will. I doubt he would ever willingly show you the side of himself that he's willing to show me. You'd never get to know him the way I've gotten to know him. And in the end, your politics and ours are just too different. This isn't going to work."



Sirius sighed and slowly nodded his head. "So what do you want me to do, Harry?"



"Do what you want. Just don't join the order unless you're willing to stand with Dumbledore, against me. Because in the end, the Order is my enemy. Dumbledore is my enemy. And someday, I'm going to be going to war with them, and it's probably going to be bloody."



Sirius looked defeated and shook his head slowly. "I promised I'd look after you. Promised I'd protect you..."



"I don't need protecting, Sirius. Hell, I've got the most powerful wizard in the world already looking out for me. I'm good."



"Yeah, but who will protect you from him?"



Harry huffed out an exasperated sigh. "Don't bother, Sirius."



Sirius sighed again the the two lapsed into another thick moment of silence.



"You do realize that I can't give you Pettigrew now, right?" Harry asked.



Sirius grimaced but nodded his head. "You'd really stand beside the man who betrayed your parents?"



Harry shrugged. "One of these days, I'm going to kill him. When he's worn out his usefulness. He's still worth something right now though. Plus Tom's hesitant to just outright kill the man when he played a fairly significant role in helping the Dark Lord get a body back after thirteen years as a spirit. Even though he knows that Wormtail only returned to him is because he's a coward, and only because he wanted Voldemort to protect him, not because he wanted to help the Dark Lord or because he believed in the cause... but still... Wormtail helped him, and he refuses to 'reward' such behavior by betraying the man outright."



Sirius snorted. "The Dark Lord has a code of ethics?"



"He does, believe it or not. A lot of it would probably seem harsh or even cruel to you, but I think they're pretty valid."



"Give an example."



Harry growled lightly and ran his hand through his shaggy black hair. "Alright. He refuses to ever leave a magical child orphaned."



"Huh?"



"If the parents are both killed, the child is killed too. If possible, he prefers at least one parent is left alive, so that the child doesn't have to die. Generally the mother. But if both parents have to die, the child has to die too."



"And that's a good thing? That's disgusting! Killing an innocent child?"



"Better than having it raised by fucking muggles in some orphanage or group home, or by muggle relatives who will be afraid of it!" Harry snapped. "There are no magical orphanages, Sirius. None."



"Not all orphans would be treated the way you were, Harry," Sirius said hesitantly.



"Muggles are afraid of things they don't understand. Parents of so-called muggleborns are more-often-than-not still good to their children because they are their biological children and they love them no matter how frightening their crazy supernatural powers seem to be, but there's no bond like that with an orphan. No mandate that says 'love me no matter how big a freak I am'. Magical orphans are way more likely to end up abused and mistreated by muggles than anyone else."



"Just because you –"



"Tom too! Did you know the muggle woman who ran the orphanage he was raised in was so terrified by the things he could do, she brought in a priest to exercise him when he was five? And then again when he was seven, and eight? Have you ever seen a muggle exorcism? It's terrifying! Imagine doing that to a five year old? Imagine being that young and confused and being told you have a demon inside you! How do you think that would feel? How fucked up do you think that would make you?"



"Alright! Alright..." Sirius said, holding his hands up as if in surrender.



"We're just running in circles again. Look..." Harry paused and began to dig into his pocket. He pulled out bottlecap with a hole punched through the center, on a long length of twine. "It's a two-way portkey. It will take you to the manor house if you ever change your mind, or if you're ever in any serious trouble. The activation word is Riddle Manor. It's keyed to only take one person, so you can't bring anyone with you. Even if you're holding onto someone at the time of activation, they'll still get left behind."



"How'd you manage that?"



"These aren't standard issue, Ministry port-keys. These are custom made by Voldemort himself. If you know what you're doing, you can put all sorts of specific little things into a port-key."



"I guess so..."



"Anyway, you take this," Harry handed over the portkey. "put it around your neck or something. You can keep it close. If the Ministry or the dementors get close you can always use it as an emergency get-away. Unfortunately, since it'll only take you, you obviously can't bring Buckbeak with you if you do come, but it's a two-way port-key so perhaps you could go back for him."



Harry sighed and stood to his feet. "I need to get going. People are going to start missing me if I'm gone all day. Getting mail to me this summer is going to be a bit slower. You can address owls to 'Harry Potter' and it'll get automatically redirected to a post box I've got set up, and then my mail will get collected every few days by a house elf."



"Huh? Why are you doing all that?"



"The manor has anti-owl wards on it. T–Voldemort doesn't like to take risks with tracking charms and other such things that can easily be placed on an owl delivering post. Or risk someone just following an owl on a broom. Honestly I'm shocked that the Ministry hasn't tried something like that to track you down. Just address a letter to Sirius Black and track the owl..."



"Ah, but that would be logical and intelligent," Sirius remarked with a weak grin. Harry smiled back, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. He wasn't really feeling in much of a smiling mood. Who knew if he'd be seeing his godfather again anytime soon.



"Well... goodbye Sirius."



Sirius got up and stood awkwardly in front of Harry for a moment before he leaned forward and pulled Harry into a slightly stiff embrace. Harry hesitated but returned the gesture after a moment. His chest felt heavy. Sirius was the first person from 'before' that he had been honest with, and now he was basically all but cutting ties. Sirius had been just as royally fucked over as Harry, and yet the man still couldn't follow him down his chosen path. But if he was being honest with himself, he'd known that it never really could work.



Sirius was just too much of a Gryffindor at heart.



"Goodbye pup," Sirius said into Harry's shoulder and neck. "I sure hope you know what you're doing. If you ever need an escape... I'm here for you."



Harry chuckled and shook his head. "Alright Sirius. I won't need it, but thanks for the offer."



– –



AN: Don't want to break any hearts here. Anyway, this isn't the last of the Sirius interactions. So no worries there. There will be more Sirius in the sequel.




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