Anyway, onto the fifth installment!
November 13th, 1981
November 13th, 1981, approximately 5:00 PM, Sirius Black (finally) receives a letter</p>
The owl flew off as soon as Sirius took the letter from it, but he wasn’t paying attention to that. He opened the letter with more enthusiasm then Remus had seen from him in days.
I’ll stay with you from whenever you move until New Years. That’s all I’m promising. I don’t change diapers.
He smiled at the last sentence and showed the note to Remus.
“Now all we need to do is find a place,” Sirius said.
“With four bedrooms.”
“He’ll only be staying a month, he can sleep on the bleeding sofa.”
“I’ll take the sofa,” Remus said. “And he can have the bedroom, it’d be unkind to drag him out with us and force him to sleep on the sofa.”
Sirius shrugged. “Up to you.”
“Oh, but I did get a letter last night about a cottage in Plymouth, I told the lady who owled that we’d come take a look tomorrow. You have to go,” he added when Sirius looked skeptical. “It’s mostly a Muggle area, but there are small pockets of wizards. I think the coast is a great place to raise Harry. It’s just south of where the Weasleys live, as well,” he continued.
“That sounds fine. How much?”
“I think she’s willing to negotiate.”
Sirius shrugged. “I have money, it’s nothing to fret about.”
“I’m going to start looking for a job soon, you should do the same.”
The idea of getting a job, however unpleasant that seemed, was something that weighed heavily on Sirius’s mind. He would have to, yes, but what could he get a job doing? He was probably going to get a job first, being that Remus’s condition often made potential employers give the instant ‘no’.
“We’d have to arrange for permanent daily care for Harry when we get to that point. But jobs can wait until things have died down,” Remus continued rationally.
Sirius nodded. “That’s definitely true.”
Harry stood up (still a little wobbly, but he was getting better) from the floor and walked over to the couch where Remus was sitting. He was walking a lot better than he had when Sirius had first gotten him, and Dumbledore had suggested in a letter than the stress and trauma of his parents’ deaths may have affected his walking, but the more he became adjusted to Remus and Sirius, the more he walked. The only problem posed by his walking now was that he was fast, and taking eyes off of him for a second could end up with Harry having a lampshade on his head or something fragile clutched in his tiny fist.
Harry pulled himself up on the couch to sit beside Remus and Sirius sat down on Harry’s other side. With big eyes, Harry stared at Sirius, and then turned and stared at Remus, who smiled.
Sirius wasn’t really the sentimental type, but it felt like family.
November 13th, 1981, approximately 8:00 PM, Regulus Black begins packing
“So when do you leave?”
“Whenever Sirius sends for me, I’m assuming.”
Barty was pacing the length of Regulus’ room as Regulus packed a large bag full of clothes and personal effects. He was irritable and paranoid. The idea of Regulus leaving for close to two months was weighing on his mind. It would be utterly lonely. But he could deal with loneliness better than he could deal with responsibility.
“Have you cleaned your room?” Regulus asked Barty. He was referring to the bloody shirt. Again.
“Can’t be arsed to, more important shit to do. You sound like my mum, stop it.”
Regulus shrugged. “Just wondering.”
“You’re more attractive than the old bag at least,” he added under his breath.
Raising an eyebrow, Regulus looked at Barty. “What?”
“…Just a thought.”
Barty stopped pacing. “Why are you staring at me?” he asked, tilting his head a little to the side as Regulus sat on the bed.
“I dunno. I’ve never been called prettier than someone’s mum before. It’s weird.”
“I’d hope I’m prettier than your mum,” Barty noted.
“Definitely. I think you could even give Cissy a run for her money if we shoved you in a dress,” Regulus joked.
He wondered why they were talking about this. It was…uncomfortable. True as it was, Regulus was an attractive person (by default, he found, all Blacks were attractive in some way and crazy in another) but Barty had made a point not to mention this.
Maybe it was because he was leaving.
“Lost you there for a second,” Regulus explained.
He shook his head. “Sorry.”
“I’m used to it,” he replied distantly, finding a point on the wall rather interesting. “But I think I might call it a night.”
“It’s only eight.”
“We were up late last night.” This was true, they had stayed up until almost dawn for absolutely no reason at all.
“True. Then I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Regulus nodded and Barty shut the door behind him, sighing in relief.
What was that all about?
November 13th, 1981, approximately 8:30 PM, Professor Dumbledore and Severus Snape have a conversation
“About Pettigrew. Do you have any idea?”
“He was a fool to make himself so many enemies,” Severus said disdainfully. Severus Snape normally was sallow and unhealthy in appearence, but for the past two weeks it had become steadily worse. “It could’ve been anyone.”
“You suspect Bellatrix?”
“In Death Eater related murders of such brutality, one must always suspect Bellatrix,” he asserted calmly. “Though I can think of others.”
“Crouch. Junior, of course. But Crouch.”
“He’s a danger?”
“The potential is there.”
“He’s killed before?”
“Not that I’m aware, no. He used to gut animals for fun in his days at Hogwarts, but I think Bellatrix is our real worry. She’s a fanatic. You know this, we need to protect hi- them, from the likes of her. Like we couldn’t protect-”
Dumbledore looked somber. “Yes. I know.” He didn’t want Severus to finish the statement. “You know, above all others, the price of victory is a high one. We have made a world safe for the future. But we’ve lost too much. Moving on is detrimental. This boy will never be completely safe. There will be those who betray, who hide, escape the clutches of the Ministry. Bartemius is capable, yes, and unmerciful. But people will escape. Being careful is the key.”
“And knowing this, knowing what Lupin is, knowing how utterly incompetent Black is-”
“I know all of this, and I don’t believe Sirius’s reckless streak to be incompetence. He’s protective. He would give his life to protect the last piece of his best friend.”
“That’s all the boy is to Black.”
“And what is he to you?” Dumbledore asked quietly, his glasses flashing. “You’re not so different from Sirius. There will be help. I believe they’ve contacted the Weasley and Tonks families about babysitting on the full moon, and arranged home schooling for Harry at the Weasleys when he’s older. I will make sure there are protective charms on each dwelling when Harry stays there for the next year or so. After the Death Eater threat has died down, as it will by no means be eliminated, that can cease, and when he’s older, he’ll be told.”
“I don’t think Black should be the one to explain it to him.” Black would, in Severus’s opinion, mangle the story, glorify James Potter, exaggerate and pollute the boy's mind, feed an ego that was already predisposed to be large, before he was old enough to wave a wand. Turn him into a living, breathing clone of James Potter.
“I think Remus will be the one to take that duty.”
Severus never admitted that he thought Lupin was the only one with any sense at all. “Any other purpose to this meeting?”
“I think you should tell them,” Dumbledore said simply. There was no need to elaborate.
“I believe you should. With a bit of influence, it’s my belief they will be taking a house being offered on the outskirts of Plymouth, it’s conveniently located near the Weasley home, and not a bad place to raise a child. When they get settled in there, I think you should explain yourself to them.”
“The past two weeks have set in motion the rest of Harry Potter’s life. Sirius and Remus loved James as fiercely as you loved Lily, I am of the thinking that putting this bitter teenage hatred to rest would be the best. I’m not asking you to pursue friendships with them, or be any part of Harry’s raising, but make amends. Let old flames of hatred be snuffed out. Let the spark of understanding light the way.”
“I’ll think on it.”
He would do it, Dumbledore hoped, in some strange way, Dumbledore already knew he would. Out of respect for Lily, and not because he requested it of him.
“Anything else, Dumbledore?” he asked wearily.
“Slughorn is retiring,” he said. “I want you to take the job.”
Snape nodded, there was no room to refuse. Realistically, he needed the job, he needed the security of the castle. “And?” He knew that could not be the last thing Dumbledore had to say.
“Go talk to Barty Crouch Jr., before you speak with Remus and Sirius, if you choose to do that.”
It was not a request.
“He’ll know I’m a double-agent by this point. He’s not stupid. He’ll tell me nothing relevant. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to kill me.”
“I don’t want details about Peter. And I think that if he is the responsible party, it was not done because of treachery.”
“Revenge, Severus, often fuels the most irrational of activities. Whether it’s murder or a sudden switch of sides.” His twinkling blue eyes pierced Severus at that statement. “I think that in the case of Barty, who is not a suspect by any means, vengeance provides the excuse. Bellatrix, however, is a matter of betrayal. Stay clear of her, and talk to Barty.”
“Regulus will be leaving when Sirius and Remus move, to stay with his brother until the threat has died down.”
“How to you obtain your information?”
Dumbledore smiled. “Sirius alerted me this morning of his request to the boy. I believe taking Regulus out of the picture will garner more truth from Barty.”
“What do you want to know?” he asked dully. The idea of a Death Eater staying with Sirius, and so close to the boy, for such an extended period of time, was ridiculous, it made his blood boil. But Regulus Black was harmless.
“Where his loyalties are. They are not with us, I know this easily. But if he’s a danger to anyone we need to know.”
“Veritaserum won’t work.”
“Dolores Umbridge illustrated this. Though I’m sure your way of doing it would be far more subtle.”
“I wouldn’t treat the boy as if he’s a moron, in other words,” Severus quipped with a tired smirk.
“Yes. But I don’t believe he’d be foolish enough to take a drink not prepared himself in times like these.”
“He’ll also not be foolish enough to talk to me about his loyalties,” the young man said.
“You can find a way to talk to him. He’s young. You shared a House with him for five years. You must know his weaknesses. Appeal to it.”
“Manipulate him? I am not you Dumbledore.”
The old man chuckled amiably. “I should hope not.” He folded up the most recent edition of the Prophet. “Do as you see fit. I’m just asking you the favor of doing it. I don’t think any other Order member would do it willingly, and if they did, they may just die in the attempt.”
Severus stood from his seat. “If that’s all, Dumbledore, I shall return home.”
“Think on all that I’ve said, Severus, if you’d please. All that I’ve said.”
He nodded mutely, turning and leaving the office with no further statements to make. Dumbledore had asked many risky, ridiculous things of him in the past year, and a half he’d been under the employ of the Order of the Phoenix, but he thought speaking with a sociopath about his loyalties was top five, and revealing his reasons for switching sides, revealing what he had told Dumbledore, what he had told Voldemort, and not just telling anyone, telling Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, was the most dangerous thing that had ever been asked of him.
But the grief in his chest had not eased, he had played out so many scenarios in his head, he had tried to validate this grief. If it had been him instead of Potter, this would’ve never happened. If he had married Lily-
The idle fantasies of a desperate man ended there, he knew that the Lily that would haunt such fantasies would be a miserable, cold one, not the warm, happy Lily he had loved. Did love.
He didn’t think that telling Black or Lupin about these things would free him of his guilt. But he owed it to Lily’s memory to do her some kind of favor. If that was the favor she wanted, he would do it.