Chapter Six: The Fourth Reverse

Chapter Six: The Fourth Reverse

Sirius plotted and planned to a drastic degree, wanting this to be the final trip to the past.  The Lady was getting grey in the face and her energy was beginning to wane, so he really didn’t want to tax Her too much.  He made a mental list of things he needed to accomplish, and it was a long one.  He’d need to be in place for a long time this go around.

At Sirius’ request, the Lady sent him back to his eleven-year-old self on the morning of September first.  He found himself, after the now-familiar black light flash, standing with his father on the Platform 9 ¾ at eight-thirty in the morning—long before any serious students began arriving to board the train.

“I’m sorry I can’t stay, Sirius,” said Orion Black regretfully, “But your mother….”

“My mother would rather spend family time with her preferred son,” finished Sirius gravely.  “It’s fine, Father. I have my schoolbooks in my trunk that I can read, and I can always talk to Agamemnon if I get too lonely before anyone else shows up.”

The black eagle owl in question hooted from within his cage.  Sirius stared briefly at the owl that he purchased along with his school supplies.  He had formed quite the friendship with that owl, much like Harry Potter had formed with Hedwig twenty years in the future in his original timeline.  When he was forced to run from home at the age of sixteen, his mother, Walburga, had tortured the owl—ripping feathers from its wings and body—before cursing it to death in her anger at losing her son.  He had mourned the bird and never again owned a personal owl.

This time around, he would protect Agamemnon as much as he protected everyone else from his family and the Darkness that threatened all of them.

Before his father could depart, Sirius had one request.  “Could you do me a favour, Father, and send Keti to me with copies of Hogwarts, A History.  I meant to bring them, but I forgot to pack them.”  Keti was Sirius’ favorite house-elf, so it was not unusual for him to ask for her to be sent.

Orion smiled in relief at being asked for a favour.  “Of course, Sirius.  Which copies would you like to have?”

Sirius pretended to consider for a moment before saying, “The 1642 Edition, the 1812, and the 1943.  I want to do some research on the train about changing school policies and rules so I don’t break any of them while I’m there.  I’m sure a few of my new classmates will have a copy or two of the most recent edition.”

Orion promised to send the books right away, and stepped into the open Floo connection.

While he waited for the incoming house-elf, and his requested books, Sirius took parchment and quill from his trunk and set about writing a letter to the one person he knew of in this timeline that could possibly keep him and his friends out of the influence of Albus Dumbledore when they were away from school.

Dear Sir he wrote neatly,

I don’t know if you remember me, as I was very young when you left for France, but I am your grandson Sirius Orion Black.

I am now eleven years old, and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to write to you without my horrible mother finding the letter.  My mother would have me believe that we are all out of favour with you, but I hope that is not so.  In fact, I hope you would see fit to use your Title and position as Head of the House of Black to rescue me from my house and family before my first term at Hogwarts is over.

My mother wants me to swear my life to the Dark Lord that has been terrorizing Britain the past decade.  She has already managed to brainwash my younger brother, Regulus, and I fear that he will be happy to swear loyalty to him once he is old enough—which may be at age fifteen if my mother has any say.  I want no part of this.  I have never seen the point of following a Dark Wizard, and I hope to never be forced into that position.

I am about to board the Hogwarts Express for the very first time, and this is also the first time I have been out of my mother’s influence.  If you would like, you can write to me there.  If, like the rest of my family, you find my reluctance to give my time and Magic to a Dark Lord disappointing, then you do not have to contact me at all and I will figure something else out.  If that is the case, I won’t be bothering you anymore.

Sincerely,

Sirius Orion Black

Sirius sealed the letter with a ball of plain wax and opened the owl cage, offering it to Agamemnon almost reluctantly.  He did not want the owl out of his sight after knowing what end would come to it if he wasn’t careful.

“Here you go, Aggie.  It’s a long trip, I know, but I need you to carry this to Arcturus Black at Maison le Noir in Amiens, France.  You don’t have to wait for a reply, just come to find me at Hogwarts after you deliver it.”

The eagle owl took the letter gently from Sirius’ hand and flew off through the train tunnel.  Just as the owl left, a house-elf popped into place in front of him, huddled in fear and clutching a large, heavy bundle.

Sirius stepped forward to take the bundle, and the house elf cringed away slightly, never lifting its eyes to see who was approaching.  Sirius sighed and knelt down in front of the elf.

“Relax, Keti, it’s me.”  Sirius said softly, and the house elf finally looked up and offered a small smile in recognition.

“Master Sirius!  Keti is so happy to be giving you this!”  She offered the bundle of books and Sirius silently cast a charm-revealing spell to make sure they weren’t cursed in any way.  He really would not put something like that past his mother.

They were clean, so Sirius took them from the elf and placed him in his trunk.  He turned back to the elf and knelt again so they were eye-to-eye.  He only ever behaved this way with Keti, who had watched over him when he was small. Because of this, Keti was often the target of hexes from his brother, who sought the favour of their mother.

“Keti,” he said after a moment, “I want you to promise me something.”

“Keti be promising anything for Master Sirius!”  She was almost quivering in anticipation of granting this favour.

“If things get bad at Grimauld Place—if Regulus gets too handsy with his wand, or if my mother takes out her stupidity on you—go to Arcturus Black in France, okay?  He’s the head of the Black Family, so he’ll be able to protect you.  Mother can’t touch you there, and if she can’t get to me, I’m afraid she’ll get to you.”

Keti looked miserable at the thought of disobeying her mistress, but Sirius reminded her that she was a Black elf, not Walburga’s personal elf.  Keti finally agreed to the request and popped away, leaving Sirius to discover that he was no longer alone on the platform.

A nicely dressed woman was saying good-bye to a small, tired-looking boy near the barrier to Muggle London.

Sirius’ heart sang at the sight of him.  Remus!

This was a chance at making friends with Remus for the first time—again.

When the woman left through the barrier, Sirius approached the boy.

“Hi!” he said hesitantly.  “Looks like we’re both very early to be here.”

The boy blushed.  “My mother had to go into work just now, so she brought be early.”

Sirius grinned.  “My family just doesn’t give a rat’s ass about me.  We can keep each other company, if you want.  I’m Sirius Black, of the Very Dark Blacks.”  He held out his hand in greeting and the boy returned the handshake.

“I’m Remus Lupin, of the Rather Boring Lupins.”

The two boys sat chatting while seated on their trunks until other students and their parents began to arrive, around nine-thirty.  Then they decided to board the train to find an empty compartment.  They chose a large compartment at the end of the fourth car, and Remus stowed his trunk in the overhead rails.

Sirius once again removed parchment and quill from his trunk and penned a message in an obscure, rare alphabet and stuck it in the window of their compartment with a small charm.

  Lost  and  confused  first  years

Remus eyed the notice quizzically, and Sirius answered the unspoken question.  “We don’t want any stupid or un-interesting people in here, do we?”

Remus ducked his head shyly.  “I’m not all that interesting, you know.”

Sirius chuckled as he stowed his trunk away after removing his three copies of Hogwarts, A History.  “When I introduced myself the way I did, you followed right along.  I find that very interesting, since most people in this country are very aware of exactly how Dark the Black Family really is.”

Remus laughed and they resumed their conversation while watching the gathering crowd on the platform outside their window.  Several people noticed the sign, but passed it by as they boarded at other train cars.  One dark-haired young man stopped and read it, though, and a smile grew on Sirius’ face when he saw who it was.

James! he thought with glee, and Sirius lowered the window to wave the boy toward his compartment.  That James was being followed by a silent and nervous Peter Pettigrew did not bother Sirius at all at the moment.

Oh, well, he thought.  I have to keep an eye on him anyway.

Once the two new-comers arrived, they introduced themselves all around, shaking hands and making themselves comfortable.  Sirius kept a surreptitious eye on the window, though, and he made note of when Lily and Severus arrived—almost together, but not quite.  It was clear, though, that they were happy to find each other on this side of the King’s Cross barrier.  As one, the duo found and read the notice in the window and recognized the message.  With a smile, Sirius again lowered the window and waved them inside.  They were followed closely by Alice Greenway (of the Sporty Greenways) and Heather Rooke (of the Vastly Intelligent Rookes).  They were happy to meet James Potter (of the Bookish Potters), Peter Pettigrew (of the Ever Loyal Pettigrews), Severus Snape (of the Mostly-Sober Snapes), and Lily Evans (of the Entirely Non-magical Evanses).

Since the compartment was now full (and with a future Ravenclaw, much to Sirius’ delight), Sirius removed the parchment notice from the window and closed it against the noise of the platform.  The eight first-years began a discussion of what the school must be like and what they probably expected to see.  Alice and Heather focused on Lily and her ‘non-magical’ family distinction, and soon she was talking about being a muggle-born witch—and the first in her family.  They all listened with rapt attention when she told of her accidental magic and the rift with her sister, and how her friendship with Severus was her saving grace.

Severus concurred.  “My mother is a witch,” he said gravely, “and she was on her way to becoming a Potions Mistress when she met my father, who is a muggle.  He was a simple factory-worker, but my mother insisted that he loved her no matter of her Magic, and she told me that he treated her very well—at first.  After I was born, however, there was an accident at the factory where he worked.  Several men were killed and my father was severely injured.  He would never work again, and my mother was left to support the family.”

Severus paused in his tale, and Lily reached out to hold his hand in support.  Sirius found himself oddly interested in the story of Snape’s past—something they never touched upon in his past reverse-visits.

“My father began to drink, ostensibly to relieve his pain from the accident, and he would berate my mother for not using Magic to make him wealthy.  He never understood that conjured money would solve nothing.  But my mother kept her job at the apothecary shop, and occasionally she would bring brewing work home for extra money.  During that time he left her alone, because he knew that extra money would provide his whiskey.  When I was old enough, I would help my mother with the brewing, and my father left me alone as well.

“When I wasn’t assisting with the brewing, however,” said Severus, “my father was a brute!  He would hit at me with his cane every chance he got, only avoiding me when my mother was present because he feared her magic.  I could magically protect myself, of course, but as an underage wizard I could be sanctioned and my Magic could be blocked if I injured anyone on purpose.  So I began to spend a lot of time at the neighborhood play park, where Lily and her sister would also be.  Her kindness and friendship means everything to me, because it was an escape from my dismal family life.”

Sirius was stunned.  Snape’s childhood was so much like Harry’s in the original timeline.  He wondered if he and James had pranked Snape badly enough during school that it would turn Snape against Lily’s son despite his obvious affection for Lily.

Well, he thought, that time is long gone.  I have much to fix, so I’ll start there.

The discussion meandered from personal history to favorite books (the muggle-borns mentioned books that the Wizard-born had never heard of, but now desperately wanted to read), and from books to sports (Snape was most interested in Quidditch), and then to Hogwarts itself and what to expect there.

Alice began the discussion about the differences in the Houses and the characteristics inherent within.  While Snape looked intrigued at belong to a house that admired intelligence, he was most interested in Slytherin because it valued ambition—until he heard that Slytherin most hated muggles.

At his look of disappointment, Sirius said, “That’s actually not at all true, you know.  Salazar Slytherin was married to a muggle.  And not just a muggle-born witch—a true, non-magical muggle.”

James looked confused.  “How do you know that?  It’s not anywhere in the history books.  It’s not even in Hogwarts, A History.  I know, because I’ve read that book cover to cover since I could read.”

Sirius smirked.  “It’s not in any edition published since 1956.  But I have here three editions, from 1642, 1812, and 1943.  You can look through them if you like, to see the differences.  The oldest one has the best information about the four founders and what attributes they looked for.”

He shrugged when Lily and Severus grabbed the 1642 and happily handed the 1812 to Alice and Heather.  “Frankly, I’d just as soon be sorted based on my personality over blood status.  In the 1642 edition, the manner of sorting is detailed—and blood status is not a requirement for any of the Houses.  If Slytherin is the House for the ambitious, then I see no reason why you would be denied admittance.  If your ambition would see you raised above an abusive home-life, then you’re a shoe-in for sure!”

Severus looked pleased at the assessment.

¤¤¤¤

It was in Second year, instead of Fourth or Fifth, that Remus’ little ‘problem’ was discovered—and by Severus Snape, no less.  It was kept a secret by Sirius, James, and Peter for the next two years, however, while the five of them researched a way to become animagi so they could keep Remus company during his monthly change.

All during that time, even as they were sorted into different Houses, the core group that sat together on the Hogwarts Express that first day remained the tightest of friends.  They studied together between classes and after dinner, they wrote to each other over the summers.  There were some changes, of course, but that was to be expected.

The biggest changes were in the summer-time living arrangements for Sirius Black and Severus Snape.

Sirius’ grandfather, Arcturus did, in fact, write to Sirius one week after he arrived at Hogwarts for his first year.  In the letter, plans were made for the two to meet, and Arcturus initiated used his position as Head of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black to take custody of Sirius under the motive of raising his Heir properly.  Walburga could not object as Sirius was the eldest son, even if she wanted Regulus to inherit the position rather than Sirius.  When Sirius left Hogwarts at the end of the Spring Term, Sirius was sent a portkey to France from King’s Cross instead of returning to London.

In the middle of the summer, Severus Snape’s father drunkenly beat his mother badly enough to send her to a muggle hospital.  This forced Child Services to intervene in the home arrangements, and Severus was removed from the house until Mrs. Snape was recovered enough to resume care of her son.  Mr. Snape was, of course, arrested.  Severus sent an emergency owl message to his new friends from school, and Arcturus Black and Sirius arrived to meet Severus at the hospital.  Arcturus offered to take Severus as a ward, giving him the opportunity to have advanced training in Potions with some of the leading Potions Masters in Europe—as well as giving him a home with a close friend.

Mrs. Snape agreed, and Severus and Sirius had the entire summer to get to know one another on a more personal level.  They studied, of course, and invited their other friends to visit the castle-keep they lived in, and owl-mail rushed frequently across the English Channel until September first, when they all met again at King’s Cross Station and sat together on the Hogwarts Express.

At some point during their third year, the core group of friends asked for the use of an abandoned classroom for a study club, and Professor McGonagall was happy to oblige with a classroom near the Teacher’s Lounge that was large enough to allow for a cauldron and fire so they could practice brewing in a safe environment.  Since Remus was not a great potioner, the extra tuition was a relief for him.

The study group met every evening after dinner, and often other students would join the core group, so the classroom was very busy.  But Sirius was careful to make sure that Peter was never left alone with any of the female students.  It was far easier than he would have thought, because Peter seemed to crave any kind of positive attention, so he preened when Sirius or James included him in their plans after classes.

Still, Sirius was watchful, and he did notice that many girls—Mostly Alice, but some others—seemed very uncomfortable when Peter was near them in a room.  This time around, Sirius had never caught Peter practicing any Dark spells, but that did not make him drop his guard.  He was naturally suspicious when no young ladies wanted to even pass close by him in the halls.

It was during the summer after their third year that Severus perfected the potion that would allow someone to find his or her Perfect Animagus Form—a precursor to the Animagus Transformation spell.  While Remus was reluctant to allow his friends enter into the danger of accompanying him during his monthly change, Sirius, James, and Peter persisted with learning the Animagus Spell while Severus insisted on giving them alibis if anyone questioned their absences during the full moons.

They all gathered in the Ballroom of Arcturus Black’s country home and practiced the meditation required for the spell.  Peter always had the most trouble with that part, but did found it easier after taking the potion.  Severus was there only to make note of the Animagus forms for a personal journal—and to note any particular markings on each animal.  They fully planned to register as legal animagi after they left Hogwarts, so they would need a full accounting of their appearances.

Severus merely raised an eyebrow at Sirius’ transformation into a large Grim-like dog, but he appeared to be most concerned about Peter’s transformation into a rat.  When James, Remus, and Peter left the Ballroom after practicing the transformation successfully several times, Severus stayed behind to speak to Sirius.

“I’ve been doing some other research on the Animagus Transformation,” said Severus as they packed away their notes, “and the transformed form is supposed to be very telling.”

Sirius paused on his way to the dining room and looked at his friend.  “How so, Severus?”

Severus frowned, thinking for a short moment before answering.  “The Animagus Transformation is not an easy bit of spell work, as you know.  Only those with a True Form can make the transformation, you see, and that True Form is supposed to be a direct reflection on a person’s true character.”

Sirius huffed a laugh.  “So, what?  I’m really a harbinger of death?”

Severus frowned at him.  “No, don’t be daft.  A Grim may be supposed to be a harbinger of Death, that is only a local myth—central to the British Isles.  World-wide, the dog is known to be symbolic of protection and loyalty.  The Stag is a symbol of pride and confidence, two attributes that James Potter has in abundance.  Fortunately, he carries them with grace and is not likely to run over anyone with his personality.”

Sirius tried not to grimace at the mention of James’ pride and confidence, because he could well remember how the Severus Snape of his past would use the terms as an insult.

“So,” Snape continued, “it is very telling that Peter’s form is a rat.”

“Oh?” asked Sirius.  “How so, exactly?”

“The rat,” said Severus, “is a notorious hoarder and collector—and a survivor.  They fear, according to the mythology, being unprotected and not provided for.  Peter Pettigrew is very much like that.  He clings to you and James as if you are his protectors, but I can see that he covets what the two of you have in regards to friendships and property.  The two of you are very popular, and Peter hangs on your coat-tails every moment.”

Sirius began once again to make his way to the dining room with Severus walking by his side.  “So, you’re saying that Peter is jealous of me and James?”

Severus nodded.  “He is, yes.  He hides it well, of course, but it is obvious to anyone who observes.”

Sirius frowned.  “But you and Remus are not jealous of what James and I have?”

Severus snorted.  “Of course not.  The two of you do not flaunt your wealth and you are generous with your popularity.  Remus Lupin and I are very happy and lucky to be included in your close circle of friends.  Peter Pettigrew hoards that friendship and worries about the day it will be taken away.”

¤¤¤¤

It was in Fifth year that James became more romantically interested in Lily Evans.  Sirius and Remus, of course, saw her as a close friend, and Severus’ affection was brotherly, so James was given their blessings to ask her out for a Hogsmeade date.

Once that romance got off to a great start, other students in their year began pairing off.  Sirius watched bemused as several young ladies in Fifth year—and Fourth—began subtly hinting interest toward Remus, only to be gently let down.  Severus also declined several offers for dates or picnics, informing his potential partners that his only interest while at Hogwarts was his school-work, and he was not interested in becoming romantically involved until he was well into his Mastery studies.

The only one of them, in fact, that was not approached by a member of the opposite sex—or the same sex, as several boys also approached Severus and Sirius on the off chance that they might swing in that direction—was Peter Pettigrew.  Sirius noticed that Peter still made several girls uncomfortable when he would approach them in emptying classrooms or in the halls, although they tried hard not to show it.  Peter still seemed to focus his attention on Alice Greenway, even in this timeline, and Sirius stepped up his efforts to keep an eye on Peter.

¤¤¤¤

For the next two years, Sirius maintained his even temper when dealing with the rat known as Peter Pettigrew, and the smaller boy was never alone with a female while in the school.  For some unknown reason, Severus and Remus seemed to help Sirius in his watchfulness, but they never asked why.  The only time Sirius could not keep watch over Peter’s actions was during the summer breaks when they were away from Hogwarts.  Certainly the friends all met during the summer, often at Sirius’ home in France, but for the most part they only sent letters back and forth.  The only constant visitor was Remus Lupin, who was clandestinely meeting with the leader of a well-established pack of werewolves in France.  He was offered a good job with the pack for after graduation, and Sirius was happy for his friend.

Werewolves in Britain were treated like garbage, and there was no hope for legal employment.  Without Dumbledore’s insistence that he could control Remus, there would have been no hope for a formal education.

Sirius and James were happy for their friend.  They were off to Auror training and they did not want their friend to be left hopeless while they could obtain good jobs.

Not that Sirius needed to work, of course.  But his grandfather was happy that Sirius wanted badly to serve the Light.

Severus had begun a Mastery Study with a premier Potions Master in Spain, but he kept in contact often.  Nobody had any idea what Peter was up to after graduation.  He was in constant contact as well, but he never divulged his occupation.

During their Auror training, Sirius and James met and befriended Frank Longbottom, who was a few years older.  That the other man was completely smitten with Lily’s best friend, Alice Greenway, was a bonus, and the two couples would spend many weekends trying to set Sirius up on dates with various young Ministry employees.  Sirius was amused, but he had a mission and he was bound and determined to complete it.

Almost before he knew it, Sirius was standing in front of a crowd, giving a Best Man’s speech at James and Lily’s wedding reception.  He looked over the people at the intimate gathering and was happy that he had once again made it this far.  He and James were becoming confident and successful Aurors, Remus was happy as a shop-keeper in a pack-run apothecary, and Severus was well into his studies to become a Potions Master.  Only Peter remained a mystery, though he was tidy and well-dressed at the reception.

He was also giving Alice Greenway the eye most heavily.

It was difficult to watch, knowing that Frank planned to ask Alice to be his wife very soon.  James placing the Family ring on Lily’s hand was all the impetus that he needed.

During the reception, while all the guests mingled and Lily was laughing with Alice, Sirius took James and Severus aside for a quiet chat.

“Have you noticed,” started Sirius once he got them away from the party, “how nervous Alice seems when she’s around Peter?”

Sirius was quiet while he watched realization cross the faces of his friends.  He could tell that they were remembering all the times during school that Alice would cross a room before exiting, just to avoid walking next to Peter, or how she was always clinging to her friends when Peter was near—as if he was stalking her and she wanted to avoid the scene.

“You know,” said James after a moment, “I have noticed that.  I have also noticed that he always fixates on women that would never give him the time of day.”

Sirius nodded.  “I’d never accuse him of anything, you know that.  But sometimes people know when danger is around.”

James’ face turned grim.  “Maybe he needs watching.  Closely.”

Sirius was ready when June of 1979 rolled around.  James had been acting very distracted lately and Lily was tired every time Sirius went to their home for a visit.  They never mentioned anything, but Sirius knew that it was all the miscarriages that was weighing them down.

Sirius began watching weather patterns, both through the muggle media and the Astrology networks, and when a massive storm system seemed to hover over Wales, he acted—inviting James and Frank to help him ‘investigate Dark workings in the area’.  Sure, he had to fudge a reason to get his fellow Aurors there, but Sirius knew that they had to witness that Prophesy come into being.

They apparated to Cardiff Castle on the pretense of investigating the local history, and Sirius led the way to the interior of the Keep near the Southwest corner.  They were looking around the base of the castle walls, ostensibly searching for clues about Dark activity, when the storm broke and they ran for cover within view of that corner.  The sudden lightning strike startled them all-even Sirius, who was expecting it.  Frank gasped in astonishment when the lightning seemed to dance along the stone at the base of the wall, and once the storm had passed the three Aurors ran to the wall to view the Damage.

Instead of damage, they saw writing, clear as day, that was not there when they arrived.

THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH DARKNESS APPROACHES…BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE MANY TIMES DEFIED DEATH, BORN AS THE SEVENTH DIES…AND A DARK LORD WILL ATTEMPT TO CONTROL HIM, BUT HE WILL HAVE POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT…AND AS ONE DIES THE OTHER SHALL BRING FORTH LIFE, FOR NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES…THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARKNESS WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES.

Frank solemnly announced, “Gentlemen, I think we’ve witnessed a genuine prophesy.  What should we do?”

“I think,” said James, “That we should keep very quiet about this.  We don’t know what it means yet, and Prophesy is a blurry topic.  It will become clear in time.”

¤¤¤¤

Sometime later, on August first of 1980, Sirius was present for the announcement of a very happy occasion.

And a very tense one.

Lily and James were happily introducing Baby Harry to their closest friends—Sirius and Alice being named godparents—and the baby was being passed around the room.  He was a quiet baby, and very pleasant, and Sirius was happy to know he would watch the child grow up.  Lily’s pregnancy was carefully monitored by muggle doctors because she refused to allow magic to be performed in her presence while she was carrying the baby.  Her intolerance for Magic was a source of great amusement in the Auror Bureau.  Sirius teased him mercilessly about learning to do things the muggle way while at home.

Of course, the occasion was marred by Albus Dumbledore.

Sirius was almost able to put that man behind him.  He did, of course, join the Order of the Phoenix with James and Lily after they pled the need for strong Aurors to fight against Voldemort.  Sirius was happy to take down Death-Eaters in the name of justice, even while avoiding being in the same room as Dumbledore.

But he was there, now, and Sirius was not able to gracefully avoid the elderly menace.  Sirius did, however, stay close to Frank and Alice Longbottom and their baby, Neville, who was born just a day before Harry. (Another source of amusement at work—how close Alice and Lily were that they had to give birth so closely together.)

Once the assorted well-wishers were gone, Albus managed to stay behind with a grim message for the new parents.

“I’m afraid,” said the old man, “That the four of you may have become targets of Voldemort.  Personal targets.”

The uproar over that announcement was instantaneous.  Once they all quieted down—which happened quickly because they were upsetting the babies—James demanded an explaination.

Albus looked rather grave as he said, “There was, it seems, a prophesy about the downfall of the Dark Lord, and both Harry and Neville could be the possible targets of that prophesy.”

“What prophesy?” demanded Frank as Alice began to softly weep over her baby.  “What does it say?”

Albus shook his head.  “What is says does not matter.  The only important thing is that you should go into hiding as soon as possible.  I recommend using the Fidelus Charm, of course, as it will provide the most security.”

There was much discussion, mostly about where the two families would be safest and who would be the Secret-Keepers for each of them, before Albus bloody Dumbledore left the house.  It was decided that he would perform the Fidelus for each couple within the next two days; Frank and Alice would go to a cottage owned by a family friend in York, and James and Lily would go to Godric’s Hollow and the house provided by Dumbledore himself.  Daedalus Diggle was chosen to be Secret Keeper for the Longbottoms because he was a devout member of the Order of the Phoenix, and Peter Pettigrew would be Secret Keeper for James as he was such a good friend.  After Dumbledore left, Sirius begged that Frank and Alice stay behind.

“I have something to say, and it might be very important.”

The babies were set to a nap in the master bedroom, and the five adults adjourned to the den.  The couples sat in a close cluster, but Sirius stood beside the fireplace after disarming the Floo.  He quickly cast a strong privacy charm around the room so that any listening charms possibly left behind could be cancelled-out.

“What I need to tell you is going to sound incredibly crazy, but I need to mention it in light of what Albus has suggested tonight.”

“Is this about the prophesy?” asked James.  “What do you know, Sirius?”

Sirius gave his friend a long look.  “Yes, it’s about the prophesy.  But it’s not about the prophesy that Albus has heard.”  Sirius looked at Frank. “Do you both remember a trip to Wales last year and that incredible lightning strike?”

Frank’s eyes grew incredibly large.  “Merlin!  I remember now! Do you think that prophesy was about Neville or Harry?”

Sirius nodded solemnly.  “I think that prophesy, written by lightning into the Ley Stone of Cardiff Castle—I did some research after we witnessed it—is totally about Harry Potter.”

“How can you say that, Sirius?” shouted Lily!  “And what prophesy are you talking about?”

Sirius leveled his gaze at Lily this time as he said, “The prophesy about the savior of Magic being born to the ones that defied death seven times.”  When Lily sank deeply into her seat, Sirius asked, “How many times did you try to have a baby, Lily, before you gave birth to a very happy, healthy Harry?”

“Seven,” whispered Lily.  “I was pregnant seven times in the last three years, but I lost every one.”  She sobbed quietly.  “I wanted so badly to have a baby.  I prayed so much; to a god I’m not sure I believe in, to angels I remember my mother telling me about.  I even prayed to Magic itself—and swore not to use magic or cast spells or even to brew potions if only my baby could be born healthy.”  She looked up at James to find a tender look in his eyes.  “And he was, James.  It was worth not using magic at all, and going to muggle doctors and giving birth in a muggle hospital.  It was worth everything, because Harry was healthy!”

By this time, Alice was also weeping softly also.  “I’m a horrible friend, Lily! I didn’t know. I just….didn’t know.”

James spoke gravely.  “Nobody knew.  We were devastated every time she lost a baby.  Lily didn’t even tell me the last three times she was pregnant.  I only found out about Harry when Lily declared that magic was forbidden within the house.”  James finally looked at Sirius, who was also heart-broken by the official news of Lily’s misfortune while trying to provide a family for Sirius.

“What do you suggest we do, Sirius, because I recognize that gleam that was in your eye earlier.  You have some sort of plan in mind.”

Sirius nodded.  “I have a feeling that Albus Dumbledore would risk both families here in order for his ‘Greater Good’.  Oh, he gives a good show, but if he could use either of your sons as a weapon of sorts, do any of you doubt that he would do it?”  Nobody deigned to answer, knowing Sirius was right, so he continued.  “His idea of going into hiding has great merit, so I suggest allowing him to perform the Fidelus Charm for all of you, in the locations you have chosen and with the Secret Keepers you have chosen.  And then, once the charms have been set and Dumbledore has gone, I would like you to all meet me at Heathrow Airport in Muggle London, so that we may travel to another, more secret location, where my grandfather shall perform the Fidelus once again—using someone he and I trust as Secret Keeper.  Leave Dumbledore out of our plans; leave the entire Order out of our plans.  Let’s keep you out of danger so that Neville and Harry can grow up normally—and happily.”

After much discussion, the four new parents agreed to the new idea.

The next day, James and Lily moved into the cottage in Godric’s Hollow and Peter was sworn to secrecy as a loyal Secret Keeper for the Potters.  Shortly afterward, the Longbottoms went through the same process, then Albus Dumbledore left England for Scotland, and Hogwarts, once again.

Three days later found Alice and Frank Longbottom, with baby Neville, taking a muggle airplane ride for the very first time—seated in the row behind the Potters.  The plane landed at Brussels Airport in Belgium, and the group was driven by taxi-van to a villa outside Antwerp, where Arcturus Black waited to perform the Fidelus Charm for the entire family—with Keti the loyal house-elf acting as Secret Keeper.

¤¤¤¤

The Potters and Longbottoms lived happily for an entire year in that villa in Belgium, learning news of the War with Voldemort from Sirius, who was back at work as an Auror immediately after delivering the two families to his grandfather.  Sirius was faithful in delivering messages, but he never once let on that the Potters were not where they were left.

Peter Pettigrew also did not let out that information either, so neither Dumbledore nor Voldemort knew that the baby he sought was not to be found.

It was with a heavy heart that Sirius reported the destruction of the Potter house in Godric’s Hollow—the total destruction that could only have come when the secret was given by the Secret Keeper.  James cursed a blue streak when he found out that Peter Pettigrew had betrayed them to Voldemort.  Frank was not quite as loud in his cursing, but he was also quite vocal when he learned that the home he and Alice was supposed to be hiding in was also attacked and destroyed by Death-Eaters.

Sirius also reported that Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix were devastated at the thought of the deaths of his valued members.  Sirius was given permission to send a message, via several red-herrings and a few house-elves, to the aged ‘Leader of Light’, telling him that the Potter and Longbottom families were alive and well, and that they would remain in hiding until such a time as their children were ready to begin attendance at Hogwarts.

Arcturus Black left his self-imposed exile and re-entered Wizarding Britain to take over his seats in the Wizengamot and to start an investigation of corruption in the Ministry of Magic.  He brought with him many votes from Neutral Families, as well as the Goblin-ratified proxies of the Potter and Longbottom houses.  Because of the impact of the Black Family voting bloc, many members of the Wizengamot were brought under strong scrutiny and removed under charges of bribery and illegal threats.

Those members were forced to undergo questioning under veritaserum, and they revealed connections to the Dark Lord Voldemort for many of them.  The Dark Mark was revealed on the arms of close to one third of the members of the Wizengamot, which led to the dismissal of those members—and prison for most of them.  Azkaban Prison was rapidly filled.  The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, was given a vote of No Confidence, and was forced out of office.  He was replaced by Amelia Bones, who immediately set about sending the Auror Corp to seek out cells of Death-Eaters, which they did with a vengeance.

Sirius smirked.  “This should give us enough time to either take out Voldemort or rid Wizarding Britain of many of his followers.”

¤¤¤¤

In another plane of existence, near the realm of Death where the River Styx meets the River Lethe, a darkly-attired Lady sat on air, watching a silver screen that floated in space.  The images showed a dark-haired little boy laughing in a garden as he was chased by his father and a large, black Grim-like dog.

The Lady watched closely and sighed in delight—and then she smiled.

˜fin˜

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