Sign of the Lion
Chapter 16 - Food Needed
The arm carrying the ball of light wavered. Harry felt a lump form in his throat as his mind screamed impossibilities at him. Anger swept up into his mouth like bile, enabling him to speak.
"A nice trick,” the heir of Gryffindor hissed venomously. “Tell your master, if I do decide to let you live, that his petty attempts at hitting my weaknesses are laughable.”
Harry wasn’t even worried that this possible Death Eater had seen him perform wandless magic. It didn’t matter. Let the old man fret, Harry decided with feeling. He surveyed the man in front of him indifferently. It was a very good disguise, he reflected with growing unease. Heir though he was, he would have trouble conjuring something of that calibre.
Sirius – if indeed this man was he – appeared as tired and worn as Harry had first met him, minus the skeletal face. The look alike lowered his wand, concern etched onto his features, commenting softly, “Much as I’m relieved you’re cautious, proving myself to you – again – does hurt.”
The man shifted into a looming canine, black as midnight and so remarkably like Professor Trelawney’s beloved Grim. The change was brief before a human once again resumed to stand in the pool of light supplied by Harry’s outstretched hand.
“Even Malfoy knows my godfather can do that,” Harry rebutted, though he couldn’t stop his heart racing in hope.
Had he mistaken the death of Sirius Black? Had he been living a nightmare? Harry wondered if he’d been asleep all this time. The man with dark features half-smiled, “But what that git doesn’t know is that you called me Snuffles. He doesn’t want monsters you have to pass the summer holidays with. I hope you didn’t lose Quidditch to him,” he added worriedly.
Harry fought the urge to smile back. He looked the man straight in the eye. “Tell me, was James Potter a git at some stage?”
“Naturally,” came the answer. “Of course, you heard me tell you through a fireplace, didn’t you?”
This was enough for Harry, though he quickly cast a truth spell to evaluate the man’s words. Harry doused the light and moved forward to hug Sirius fiercely. His eyes burnt with tears as he muttered, “How did you do it, Sirius?”
“Do what?” Sirius Black asked, confused.
The ill at ease feeling swamped Harry again. He stepped back, frowning. “I saw you die. I wasn’t the only one. Bellatrix shot you with a curse and you disappeared into the veil.”
“Back up a minute!” exclaimed Sirius, startled. “Firstly, I would never let that conniving woman hit me and secondly, I think I would remember something like – dying!”
Harry wondered if the world itself was stark raving mad. Through the darkness, he watched the shadow that could only be his godfather. Slowly, Harry requested, “What do you last remember then?”
Sirius shifted uneasily. “Before I came here, it becomes difficult to sort through. I kicked Kreacher.” A small, wicked snarl appeared on his face for a moment. “Then hit the sack for the night. I didn’t wake up in the dear old family mansion, however. I was trapped in a cave.”
This all sounded ridiculous to Harry, who decided to patiently wait the explanation out. Sirius continued, his voice containing the frown that would have covered his features, “I searched the cave for a way out, but all I found was my old wand from school and some food. I don’t know how many days passed while I was there. I was listless until your letter appeared beside me.”
“Hedwig returned that letter,” Harry objected.
Sirius shrugged his shoulders. “I still got it. You did well with your OWLs. And, no, I haven’t forgotten your birthday. I was misplaced for a while.”
Harry snorted. “How about dead?”
“I no more understand this than you do, Harry,” Sirius reminded him. “You could at least take me up to Dumbledore. If I am a Death Eater, I’m sure he’ll let you blast me in the chest.”
Uncomfortably, Harry remembered just that happening to his godfather at the hand of Bellatrix. He tried to push this out of his mind as he walked beside a very much alive Sirius Black up to the castle. There was an awkward silence between them. At last, Sirius commented, “Well you weren’t just being crazy in your letter. You can actually do wandless magic. I’m sure Dumbledore is pleased.”
Harry shook his head. “I didn’t tell him. Only Flitwick knows.”
“Why Flitwick?” Sirius demanded. “That man has a brain the size of a pea. Although he always managed to diffuse my pranks in his class...”
They reached the front doors of Hogwarts. Harry stopped suddenly. He turned to Sirius. “If you really are here, then you won’t disappear when we step inside, right?”
“Nothing could drag me away,” assured his godfather.
Harry watched him slide through the doors. He said quietly, “A veil could.”
He followed quickly. He could barely concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. Sirius alive! Who could believe it? Was it just a trick of Voldemort’s? If so, the dark wizard would have no trouble figuring out who the heir of Gryffindor was. Harry cleared his throat. He felt he had to say something, to keep this illusion real.
“Why did you come here first and not headquarters?” he asked tentatively.
Sirius frowned for a moment and turned back. “I don’t know. I just had to make sure you were safe.”
They reached the gargoyle protecting the headmaster’s office. Harry didn’t waste any breath. He merely waved his hand and the statue shifted sideways. Sirius raised his eyebrows. “And you still haven’t told Dumbledore?”
“He’s never helped me before,” Harry said resolutely. “He’s not about to start now.”
Sirius was surprised by the venom in his godson’s voice. Together, they stepped on the moving stairs. When they came to the top, Sirius squeezed Harry’s shoulder.
“I’m still here,” Sirius assured.
Harry twisted the doorknob and kicked the door open. He was startled to find Flitwick talking with the headmaster in grave tones. Both Professors looked up. Dumbledore stood up immediately, his astonishment evident. Harry took some pleasure in this. He commented, “It looks like I won’t be needing that flying motorcycle, huh? And don’t worry, I don’t think he’s a Death Eater. I cast a truth spell.”
“You don’t have your wand on you,” Dumbledore noted quietly, an odd look in his eyes.
Harry glared at Flitwick. “You didn’t tell him, did you? Oh for crying out loud, let’s tell everyone – Harry Potter is the heir of Gryffindor! Guess that’s something else we’ll have to explain to Sirius.”
He’d much prefer to have told the headmaster himself, but Harry knew he might never have got round to it. He looked sideways at his godfather, expecting a stunned reaction. Sirius looked thoughtful, but quickly became puzzled.
“I think we have a lot to discuss,” Dumbledore said.
Sirius took the news of his death rather well, actually. Dumbledore was at a loss of any explanation of this resurrection. The headmaster resolved to get to the bottom of the matter, coming close to admitting that he may have been wrong about the veil’s properties. It wouldn’t be too hard to obtain information, now that Amelia Bones was now in charge of the Ministry of Magic.
“I will speak to the Minister about conducting tests on the veil,” Dumbledore declared. “Now to other business. Harry, you should have come to me sooner about your wandless magic.”
Harry scowled. “I was handling it well enough of my own. Professor Flitwick just had to notice. Besides, I know he never told you about Cedric being the Hufflepuff heir.”
Dumbledore shot a severe look at the Charms professor who squeaked awkwardly. The Headmaster said calmly, “Consider me informed. I would have made sure of Cedric Diggory’s security.”
“You can’t stop a prophecy from happening,” Sirius pointed out. “So what are you planning to do with Harry’s powers?”
Harry looked at his godfather. Sirius gave him a small wink, showing that he was definitely on Harry’s side in the matter. Flitwick answered this in his high voice, “Harry needs to defeat You-Know-Who. He must be trained.”
“Excuse me,” Harry interjected, “but I don’t think either of you know how wandless magic works. You said it yourself, Professor Flitwick, you’re just the Hufflepuff guardian. You can’t train me.”
Flitwick looked a little offended. “I never knew anything about empathy before I was drawn to Mr Diggory. For many weeks, I was blindly trying to ascertain what was happening to both Mr Diggory and myself.”
Dumbledore waited for the indignant Charms professor to wind down before saying, “Until we can find your guardian, Harry, I think it best for Professor Flitwick to assist you.”
Harry didn’t argue the matter any further. He glanced at his watch, wondering if Gryffindor had gone to bed yet. He might be able to sneak a message to Ron or Hermione. Or perhaps Dumbledore would let him stay with Sirius for a bit. Surely Sirius wouldn’t be sent back to 12 Grimmauld Place immediately! The Headmaster confirmed his fears by turning to Sirius. “You should return to headquarters. It is still safer for you there.”
“Like hell I’ll return!” exclaimed Sirius. “I’m not going to waste my life rotting in some prison.”
Dumbledore’s frown lines deepened. “You are no longer in Azkaban.”
Sirius stood up, commenting resentfully, “Could have fooled me. At least let me have some time with my godson! Merlin, I just came back from the grave.”
The Headmaster looked at his own watch, which was golden and had planets circling the face instead of numbers. It was clearly against his better judgement but one look at the almost pleading face of Harry seemed to shake him.
“You have fifteen minutes,” Dumbledore told them and left the office with Flitwick.
As soon as both professors were gone, Sirius sighed in exasperation. “I can’t go back to hiding out while the big stuff is happening. James would want me to stay with you, I know it.”
“I’m sure Dumbledore will let me visit you for Christmas like last year,” Harry consoled.
Sirius gave a shot barking laugh. “Christmas! I forgot about Christmas. I don’t think I have much time for Christmas shopping this year. And I’ve still got to get you a birthday present.”
“I’d rather be stuck with you at headquarters,” Harry said morosely. “Now that Dumbledore knows about my wandless magic, I’ll have heaps of extra-curricular activities. I was handling it fine by myself.”
Sirius smiled. “I doubt Ron and Hermione thought that. You did tell them, didn’t you?”
“Oh yeah. Ron kept asking me to jinx the Slytherin team’s brooms.”
“Did you?” Sirius asked excitedly.
Harry paused for a moment. He had missed Sirius’ love of pranks on the opposing house. Harry returned the smile. “Only Malfoy’s in today’s game. We won. Again.”
“Good.” Sirius beamed, then grew solemn. “How are you coping with the powers?”
Harry shrugged. “I get headaches sometimes. I could probably take on Voldemort and then some. But I don’t think Dumbledore would let me leave the castle, let alone go anywhere near Voldemort. How’s this for overlap – there are two prophecies about me fighting him.”
Harry paused and looked at his godfather. Sirius was the only one he’d ever talk to honestly about this. And Dumbledore was probably going to shut him up again, forbidding letters. Sirius stood up and paced for a moment, running a hand through his already mussed hair.
“It’s not your fault,” Sirius said firmly.
Harry looked away, distracting himself briefly on Fawkes’ perch. He snorted. “My genes aren’t my fault, I know that.”
“Good.” Sirius glanced around the office. “I think our time is just about up. I’m not going to tell you to be careful, Harry. You don’t need to be told.”
“Thanks,” Harry said quietly.
"Are you sure?” Ron asked again, incredulous.
Harry couldn’t keep the grin off his face. He nodded mutely. Ron stared at him for a moment, still waiting for the joke to fall. Finally, he rubbed his hands together. “Excellent. He did promise to teach me some pranks.”
Harry turned to Hermione, expecting her to just be exiting the throes of scepticism as well. Instead, she looked thoughtful. Ron rounded on her, demanding, “Aren’t you at all happy, huh?”
“I am happy,” Hermione corrected in a steely voice, “but it is a very strange miracle.”
“So what?” Ron snapped.
Sensing the argument about to reach a heightened level, Harry beat a hasty retreat. He had much more pressing things to deal with than Ron and Hermione’s rifts. He was late for an after schooltraining sessionwith Flitwick anyway.
As Christmas drew nearer, the usual colourful decorations adorned the castle. The usual holiday cheer, however, had plummeted with the temperature. No amount of colours nor heat could lift the attitudes of any of the students.
Harry was almost relieved to be called into the Headmaster’s office during dinner one evening. Siobhan and Alex had taken it upon themselves to produce some mayhem with ill made firecrackers. Harry considered it a lucky escape from both the repressing silence of the Great Hall and the troublesome duo’s attempt at relieving it.
“You wanted to see me, Professors?” Harry asked, entering the office.
Since Dumbledore had discovered Harry’s powers, the headmaster and Flitwick had been convening regularly. Harry sat down without invitation. Dumbledore informed him, “I have heard from certain sources that Voldemort is taking great pains in finding the identity of the Ravenclaw heir.”
“Really,” Harry deadpanned.
Since he’d had several visions where Salazar or Voldemort seemed to need to the Ravenclaw heir, Harry was not really surprised. He began to suspect that he himself needed to find the other heir. Mindful of this, he had taken to carrying to prophecy book around with him. He figured he already knew what Dumbledore had to say.
Flitwick added in his squeak, “Are you aware of the heir prophecy?”
Harry mutely opened the book on his lap and flipped to the page. Dumbledore studied him for a moment, then recited, “The eagle will fly in great peril. It is my belief that Voldemort wishes to do away with the Ravenclaw heir because he sees it as another threat next to the heir of Godric Gryffindor.”
“I don’t think he wants the heir dead,” Harry interjected in disagreement.
Flitwick asked, frowning, “What makes you say that, Mr Potter?”
“It’s obvious isn’t it?” Harry closed the old book with a snap, turning to Dumbledore. “Sir, Professor Trelawney predicted that I would have to kill or be killed. From my…dreams, I’ve seen that Gryffindor and Slytherin couldn’t kill each other.”
“Then the only way to kill the other was through the Ravenclaw heir,” Dumbledore finished, the twinkle is his eye dimmed with concern.
Harry sighed loudly. “Not only do I have to find this heir, I have to convert them. Great.”
“You leave the finding to me, Harry,” Dumbledore told him sternly. “In the meantime, I want you to continue your studies with Professor Flitwick.”
Harry was fed up with Flitwick trying to teach him. He wrote daily to Sirius (it was a great comfort to know for sure that the letters were being read) about how he didn’t think the short professor was anywhere near qualified to teach wandless magic.
I probably know more than him, Harry wrote once.
There was some convincing to be done before Harry could leave the castle for the holidays. He went about this very carefully by persuading Ron to take only Hermione to the Burrow for Christmas. By the redness of Ron’s ears, Harry could tell that was probably the easiest part. Ron was still adamantly proclaiming, “Purely platonic!”
Harry didn’t believe him. With his two friends going away for the holidays, Harry asked that he at least be stuck in the same place as his godfather. He argued, “A week ago, I thought he was dead.”
“I was going to suggest you spend your holidays at Grimmauld Place anyway,” Dumbledore assured.
Harry managed to retain some dignity as he hurtled out of the fireplace. A quick wandless spell rid his face and hair of soot just in time. Moments later, Sirius and Remus entered. Harry grinned at them. “Which room am I in? If it’s up the stairs, I’m not carrying my trunk.”
“You heard him.” Sirius nudged Remus.
The former Hogwarts professor nudged him back. “I’m sure Harry can move it upstairs by himself with his powers.”
“Merlin, did Dumbledore tell everyone?” Harry demanded.
The two men exchanged glances. Remus coughed awkwardly. “Just the Order.”
Harry sighed and waved a hand at his trunk. It disappeared with a faint pop. He commented dryly, “I hope that landed in the right place. Is there anything in the kitchen?”
He turned on his heel and walked away. Sirius sighed. “He’s a lot like James, Moony.”
“Hm,” Remus agreed. “When he’s angry, he goes straight to the food.”
After a short silence, Sirius suggested, “We should see if he’s alright.”
Remus Lupin snorted. He guided his school friend away from the door to the kitchen. “He’ll calm down once he sees that huge chocolate block on the table.”
“I wonder if there’ll be leftovers for Snuffles.”
“I highly doubt it, Snuffles.”
“Here’s a thought. Why didn’t you look shocked when you saw me alive?”
“You’re a Grim. You naturally cheated death through school.”
“If you count death as being punished unfairly for pranks, then I’m never going to die.”