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Invoking the Secret Keeper by timeturner
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: Protecting Lily
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Invoking the Secret Keeper
Grasping into the darkened night, Sirius felt for Lily’s hand. Where could she be? The darkness that had overcome the area had now fallen on Godric’s Hollow and it was impossible to see beyond arms length. Sirius quickly transformed into a dog, hoping his eyesight would be much better and he would be able to find Lily.
A few paces away, he saw her, struggling against a dark clothed figure. Sirius wasted little time in attacking and soon the lone Death Eater had passed.
“It’s me, Lily.” Sirius turned back into his human form and steadied Lily as she got to her feet. “We’ve got to get you back to James. What were you thinking coming out here all alone? You know what’s at stake.”
“If anyone can hold their own, it’s Remus.” Sirius laughed. “Come, the weather alone should have kept you inside when you’re with child. If you’re too stubborn for that, then the Death Eaters should have convinced you.”
Wrapping his arm around her ever growing waist, Sirius guided her through the darkness back to the Potter’s home. Back to where her husband and Sirius’ best friend James Potter was waiting expectantly for their arrival. Dumbledore had warned them trouble would be coming within the next year and the time to invoke a secret keeper had come. Lily, in her customary stubborn concern for others, had gone out looking for Remus as soon as the darkness had fallen. Sirius quickened his pace, concerned not for his own safety, but that of Lily.
“James will kill me if anything happens to you.” Sirius mumbled.
“James loves you; he’d never do anything to you. Besides, he’s just being overprotective. Remember when all of us used to sneak into Hogsmeade? We’d stay out until dawn.” Lily smiled as she squeezed Sirius’ arm.
“That was a long time ago, Lily. A different world.” Sirius’ memory flashed momentarily to a night they had spent together in Hogsmeade. Lily and Sirius had been an item then, or so he thought. James and Lily fed him fire-whiskey all night and then broke the news to him of their relationship.
Luckily, they had all recovered from the childhood episode and now they could all look back on it and laugh. If only things had turned out differently. If only he was the one in trouble instead of James. Why did Lily have to face that? Not only losing James but the danger to her unborn child was un-imaginable. Dumbledore hadn’t explained everything, but his demeanor had been dark enough to let them know this was something they had never expected. It was something that even the strongest magic couldn’t prevent from happening.
“Sorry, Lily. Let my mind drift a little.” Sirius smiled, even though he knew she couldn’t see him in the darkness.
“How long will we be in hiding, do you think?”
“At least until after the child is born, I should think.” As they reached the house, Sirius took hold of Lily’s arm. “Lily, I’m going to ask something of you tonight. For once, I need you to remember who I am. Where I come from.” Sirius coughed as disgust rose in his throat. “I know the intention is to name me secret keeper, but please remember I am a Black.”
“Sirius, we know who you are. That doesn’t matter.” Lily’s green eyes sparkled under the porch light. “Black or not, you’ve been beside me and James longer than anyone. We trust you with everything. We are trusting you with everything.”
“And should I betray you?”
Lily laughed and kissed him on the cheek, “That’s as likely as me vanquishing Voldemort.”
Chapter 2: Safety for the Potters
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Invoking the Secret Keeper
“Where have you been?” James asked, throwing open the door and pulling them both inside. “There’s word a Death Eater prowling the area looking for us. If he finds us before “ James trailed off as he noticed Sirius’ unusual behavior. “Nothing rattles you, my friend. Has something happened?”
Sinking down into a chair, Sirius waved him off. “That stubborn wife of yours was out fighting your Death Eater.”
“What?” James rushed to Lily’s side but, like Sirius, she waved him off.
“It was nothing, James. You worry too much. If Dumbledore is right, the worst is still yet to come and I, for one, don’t plan on giving up without a fight.” Lily patted her stomach and sent the men a soft smile. “But we appreciate the chivalry. I’ll go make some hot tea and I want to read over the spell again.”
“You’ve read it a hundred times, Lily.” Sirius protested. “Can’t you just sit down with us?”
“And let you try and change my mind? Not going to happen, Sirius.” Lily kissed the top of his head as she walked passed. “Besides, somehow I don’t think any of us can afford for me to screw this spell up.”
Sirius ran a hand through his hair as she walked away. “She’s become quite the little motherly person, hasn’t she?”
“She thinks love will save the world, you know.”
“Well, we’ve always known that women aren’t entirely rational when it comes to things like this.” James winked and sank down beside Sirius. “Now what’s this about changing her mind? You’ve not gone and done something dim-witted, have you?”
“Me? Have you ever known me to be reckless?” Sirius’ attempt at humor was not lost on James.
“You can’t hide from me, Sirius. Making snide little comments to try and change the subject only worries me more. What have you done?”
Sirius stretched his legs out in front of him and draped his arms along the back of the chair in an attempt to calm his quivering stomach. He knew if he as wrong about this, he was wasting precious time. Yet, if he was right, he knew refusing to be the Potters secret keeper would eventually save their lives.
“The Blacks are some of the most loathsome, despicable and vile families around. They are purebloods and those who aren’t purebloods have been stricken from the family history. Disowned, as it was, each and every one of them.”
“I’ve known all this for years, Sirius. You don’t share your family’s belief – “
“James, you know what’s coming. Voldemort will seek out all muggle borns and all half-bloods. My family will be at his right hand. They will gladly assist him in ridding the world of anyone who isn’t pureblood witch or wizard. Lily and your child will be in danger.”
Sirius trailed off for a moment, unsure if he was getting through to James. They had been through so much together. Their lives, since the first day they met at Hogwarts, had been intertwined as if a higher force had pulled them together. How could he explain that the only way to save James now was to step away?
“Do you remember how angry my parents were when I was sorted into Gryffindor?”
“That sent letters demanding you be re-sorted. Of course, I remember.”
“Twice I sat under the sorting hat and twice it placed me in Gryffindor.” Sirius smiled. “If I had been placed in Slytherin, would we be here today?”
“I’d like to think so, but no, probably not.” James leaned forward, his head resting on his hands. “It’s not like you to be so talkative, Sirius. You’re the dark, quiet one, remember?”
“I’m scaring you, then?”
“Good.” Sirius stood up quickly, making James fall back in his chair. “You should be scared! You should be scared half to death that your wife and child won’t make it through this unless you take every precaution necessary.”
“I am – “ James shook his head in confusion.
“Then why is a Black, the soon to be right hand family of Voldemort, standing in your living room? Why are you allowing yourself to be exposed to someone that can destroy your whole world?”
James moved to Sirius’ side, placing a comforting arm on his shoulder. When he finally spoke, his voice was soft. “Your last name is of no consequence, Sirius. I know who you are. I know the child you once were and the man you have become. I want you to be my child’s godfather. I want you to take care of Lily should anything ever happen to me. Of anyone I’ve ever met, I want my safety and that of my family, to be in your hands.”
Chapter 3: Betrayal
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“Take it, Sirius.” Lily tried to push the cup of tea his direction for the third time.
“I refuse to sit around drinking hot tea feigning polite conversation while the world comes to an end!”
“Stop scolding!” Sirius returned.
“Enough.” James’ authoritative voice broke through their bickering. “Sirius take the blasted tea and pretend to be polite and Lily, stop aggravating him. We’ve more important things to worry about than which of you loves me most.” Sirius and Lily looked to James in confusion, but his dark eyes glittered with amusement. “See? I knew that would quiet you two down.”
“James…” Lily had folded her arms in defiance but with one step James had pulled her into his arms.
“This is going to be exhausting, Lily. You need to go up and rest. Arguing with Sirius is just postponing the inevitable.”
“I know,” she murmured softly. “Things will never be the same.”
Sirius grabbed the cup of tea as James began whispering soft comforting words into Lily’s ear. With the slightest noise, Sirius moved back outside to the porch so the two could have a few minutes alone.
The darkness had lifted, if only a little, and Sirius sank down onto the steps to keep watch. The spicy scent of cardamom rose from his tea cup and Sirius took a long drink. Not as effective as whiskey to calm his nerves, but Sirius was grateful nonetheless. He checked his watch again. “Where’s Remus?” he muttered impatiently.
As soon as the words were spoken, Sirius’ eyes darkened. Remus was the organized one. The one who always made sure they got where they needed to be. So why, on the most important night of James’ life was Remus late?
Sirius tensed as he saw the shadow moving toward the house. He stood abruptly, but with no urgency. “You’re late.” His voice was low and accusatory.
“I had to fight off…”
A cold look from Sirius silenced him. “The area was cleared hours ago.”
Even Remus could not miss the growl in Sirius’ voice or the dangerous glint in his eyes. “Once again, you’re being over dramatic, Sirius.” Remus tried to pass by but Sirius blocked his path.
“Where exactly did you say you were on this night of all nights?”
“I was just late.”
“You are never late.” Sirius’ eyes roamed over Remus. “No injuries, I see.”
“I was on an errand for the Order, Sirius.”
“Where?” Sirius caught Remus’ arm as he tried to brush past.
“Why are you so interested in every move the Order makes, Sirius?” Now Remus’ eyes were flashing. “Reporting back to the family, are you?”
Sirius was stung and he dropped Remus’ arm as if it were on fire.
“Hit a little to close to home, did it?” Remus asked angrily. “I may be a werewolf, Sirius,” his voice was low. “But my loyalty is unquestionable. How about yours?”
“Unquestionable?” Sirius whirled on Remus. “This from the man who has deserted us to spend his free time with Snape?” Sirius spit as he said the name. “You thought we didn’t know? Silly naïve Remus. I expect that from Peter but not you. You’ve been meeting with Snape for weeks. I’ve seen you. Lily’s seen you.” He dropped his voice. “James has seen you.”
“It’s Order business.” Remus’ voice was not nearly as strong as before.
“The Order meeting with a Death Eater? I suppose next you’ll want us all to believe Snape is on our side?”
“It’s true.” Remus was quiet. “We’ve been friends to long to do this, Sirius.”
Sirius turned away and walked to the end of the porch. Sirius wanted to believe Remus. He wanted to believe that the meetings with Snape were done with good intentions. Yet, Sirius could not let go. He couldn’t forget the loathsome and evil person he Snape to be. The person both he and James knew Snape to be. To believe Snape was good meant Sirius was wrong about everything. His judgment was flaws. Sirius refused to believe that.
His family. Sirius could feel the vomit rise in his throat at being compared to them. The Blacks, he thought silently. Sirius Black. Sirius’ body shuddered at the connection the world could make with his name. The Blacks were no better than Snape.
Sirius stole a glance at Remus, his trusted friend. Yes. Remus would have to live with his betrayal as would Sirius have to live with his. But, unlike Remus, Sirius refused to hide.
“I betrayed my family.” He finally whispered.
“The Blacks are not your true family, Sirius.” Sensing Sirius’ rage was over; Remus placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “We are.”
“And I will betray you, too.”
Remus jerked involuntarily at Sirius’ admission. “What do you mean?”
“He’s asked us to choose another secret keeper.” James answered.
The two turned to see him leaning against the doorway, his arms folded against his chest. “But we have, of course, refused.”
“I don’t understand…”
“Remus, could you give us a moment? See to Lily if you would and find Peter. He’s so scattered he’s probably forgotten what tonight is.”
“Of course, James.” With a second confused glance to Sirius, he went inside.
“You asked him about Snape, then?” James was now pacing the porch beside Sirius.
“He says Snape has joined the Order.”
“Do you believe him?”
Sirius gave a hollow laugh. “Remus is too trusting. He believes what Snape tells him.”
James nodded. “I don’t trust Snape either.”
Although he said it matter-of-factly, the impact was lost on neither. Not trusting Snape meant not trusting Remus. They’d been friends since childhood and the thought of not longer sharing everything was overwhelming.
The two men sank against the porch railing, each in their own world of hurt and despair. They stared silently into the inky black darkness, searching for words that would define the moment.
The end of an era had arrived, though, and no appropriate anecdote would come.
Chapter 4: Looking for Peter
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Invoking the Secret Keeper
Sirius and Remus walked cautiously through the streets of Hogsmeade. Once their safe haven, a place to escape the monotony of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade was now full of Voldemort’s supporters. The drunken chaos spilled onto the streets in the wee hours of the morn and the two Marauders fought to control their urge to pick a fight with each one.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this now.” Sirius mumbled. “Where the hell could Peter have gotten off to anyway?”
“I summoned him several times.” Remus shrugged. “James thought it was best if we come find him before someone else does.”
“And Hagrid said he saw him here?”
“Not more than an hour ago.” Remus nodded and led Sirius to one of the taverns they had frequented while in school. “Let’s get a drink and sit down before people start taking notice of us.”
Sirius glanced to Remus uncertainly. The only thing Sirius had on his mind was finding Peter and getting back to James and Lily. “Taking time out for a drink is not what I had in mind, Remus.”
“And getting ourselves killed because everyone thinks we’re on a search and rescue mission wasn’t in my plans. Sit down and have a drink. If Peter’s in Hogsmeade, he’ll eventually show up here.”
Sirius nodded reluctantly and, after grabbing their drinks, they sank down at a table in the back of the room. Both men surveyed the tavern in silence, each taking note of the minor changes that had occurred to the place since their last school aged visit. Aside from clientele, little had changed over the years.
“Somehow I thought it would have changed more.” Sirius finally broke the silence.
“That’s because we changed so much.”
“Can you ever have a conversation without getting philosophical? Tonight’s bad enough as it is without all your gloom and doom talk.”
“Why have you chosen not to be the Secret Keeper?”
“Pardon?” Sirius, caught off guard, turned to face Remus.
“You never do anything with some deep seated reason, Sirius. You struggle with things deep inside yourself more than anyone I know. Problem is, you tend to come to the wrong conclusions the majority of the time. Take this decision of yours. No one is better suited to be James and Lily’s Secret Keeper than you.”
“What a non-committal answer.” Remus took another drink as he watched Sirius. “Come, consider this my last request should I die in the coming war. Why are you deserting James?”
“Deserting?” Sirius laughed. “You are the one who failed to appear tonight. Just like Peter. If anything I’m protecting him more by stepping away.”
“Typical Sirius… you believe you have all the answers.”
“No.” Sirius shook his head. “I don’t have any of the answers, Remus. That’s why I’m not the right person to do this. Don’t you think I’ve thought long and hard about this? Do you think I haven’t stayed up nights considering the outcomes either way?”
“So this is not a rash decision you’ve made, then? It’s just one you’ve chose to keep hidden from us all this time. Until the night the secret keeper is invoked. Convenient.”
“Not convenient, Remus. Necessary.”
“But it seems it will not matter. James refuses to see your offer as noble.” Remus coughed. “He’s not going to let you chicken out.”
“That’s what you think I was doing?”
“Perhaps.” Remus gave him a crooked grin. “Although, it certainly wouldn’t fit with what I know of you. Rash, perhaps, but a coward you have never been.”
“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment coming from you.”
“You probably wouldn’t.” Remus nodded to the doorway. “There’s Peter.”
Sirius let out a soft whistle which Peter recognized immediately. He headed their direction and sank down into a chair.
“What are you two doing here?”
“Looking for you, of course.” Sirius frowned. “Did you forget what night it is, Peter?” He asked quietly.
“Dumbledore’s here.” Peter nodded toward the door where Albus Dumbledore has just appeared.
“You were with him?” Remus glanced to Peter then to Dumbledore but Peter didn’t respond.
“Ah, gentlemen.” Dumbledore approached their table with ease. “Rather strange night to find yourselves in a Hogsmeade tavern, wouldn’t you think?”
“We were just leaving.” Peter said, his voice shaking ever so slightly, making the other marauders glance his way.
“I assume everything is still set for tonight, then?” Dumbledore’s voice was quiet and Remus nodded.
“Just a few more things to tend to and everything will be fine.”
“Good. Very glad to hear it.” Dumbledore straightened up. “Then, I shall see you tomorrow?”
“Of course.” Sirius nodded. “We won’t forget.”
“The thought never crossed my mind.” Dumbledore smile faded as quickly as it appeared. “You need to go now. Out the back way. Trouble is coming.”
“Trouble is here.” Remus’ voice held a note of finality that made even Sirius quiver.
Chapter 5: The Choice is Made
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The Choice is Made
“Peter, go with Sirius,” Dumbledore’s voice was commanding. “Remus and I will hold them off.”
“But,” Peter’s meek voice could barely be heard over the chaos.
“Peter,” Remus’ touched his arm lightly. “You have to stay with Sirius. He has to be protected.”
“I can protect myself,” Sirius growled, making Remus and Dumbledore both turn his direction.
“Save the heroics for after the spell has been cast, Sirius. I imagine you’ll need it.”
Sirius took an angry step toward Remus, but Dumbledore blocked his path. “Go to James, Sirius. It’s where you need to be right now.”
Sirius stood facing the men in defiance, unwilling to be bullied into something he didn’t feel was right. Leaving both of them to suffer at the hands of Death Eaters just so he could run away and hide went against every fiber of his being.
“Sirius, please,” Peter’s small voice came from somewhere behind Sirius. “He and Lily are all alone. We have to go.”
Sirius’ anger immediately subsided as visions of Voldemort entering the Potter house filled his mind: Lily sitting quietly, sipping her tea as James ruffled his hair in nervous agitation waiting for their return; and the shock of seeing Voldemort standing in their doorway. Sirius clenched his eyes shut as their imaginary screams from Voldemort’s torture echoed in his mind.
Grabbing Peter’s arm roughly, Sirius pulled him out of the tavern without a second glance to the others. They apparated quickly to the Potter home, Sirius’ mind now filled with dread over what might happen to James and Lily.
“We were beginning to worry,” Lily hugged them warmly as they entered the house.
“Death Eaters in Hogsmeade,” Peter answered quietly.
Sirius took Lily’s arm and glanced meaningfully to James. “They knew where to find us. We need to talk.”
James nodded and led Sirius and Lily into the other room as Peter sank onto the couch to try and calm himself.
“Sirius, we’ve been through this – "
“James, will you just listen to what he has to say?”
“Not you, too?”
Lily touched James’ arm gently. “James, Sirius would never do anything to hurt us. You know he has our best interests at heart. If he truly believes we are in danger by naming him the secret keeper, we owe him the chance to explain.”
“I shouldn’t need to explain,” Sirius mumbled. “You should take my word for it.”
“How did they know where to find you?”
“That’s the big question, isn’t it? Look, we’re running out of time. It’s only a matter of hours before they find your location. We have to do this and we have to do it now.” Sirius looked from one to the other, sadness filling his eyes. “I didn’t want it to be this way.”
“What way?” James eyed him warily.
“The secret keeper has to accept the responsibility willingly…”
“Sirius, you wouldn’t!”
Sirius shook his head slowly, wishing James would have listened to him rather than fight him. “I refuse.”
Sirius’ words hung in heavy in the air. James seemed too angry to speak and tears filled Lily’s green eyes.
After what seemed like an eternity, James turned a pained look Sirius’ direction. “You’ve tied our hands, Sirius.”
“As you did mine.” Sirius whispered.
“Remus – "
“He believes you will never let me back out.”
“Nonetheless, Remus will believe I am the secret keeper.”
Lily hugged Sirius tightly, “Secret keeper or no, Sirius, we owe you our lives.”
Sirius nodded silently and watched as she disappeared to leave the two alone. James sank down at the table and dropped his head into his hands.
“I just want my family safe. I never thought my goal in life would be something as simplistic as that. I just want them safe.”
Sirius dropped down beside him, placing a comforting hand on James’ arm. “You are my family, James, and I want the exact same thing. You have to understand that.”
“Understanding it isn’t the problem,” James said quietly then grinned. “It’s believing you might actually be right about something that I’m having issues with.”
“James – "
“No, stop. I can’t handle any more emotional riptides tonight, Sirius. You are right, we just have to get it over and done with.”
Sirius nodded. “So, I guess that leaves Peter.”
James glanced up at Sirius, a look of miserable acceptance on his face. “Peter it is.”
“He won’t let you down, James.” Sirius clasped James shoulder gruffly as they began walking out of the room. “I’ll rot in Azkaban before that happens.”
“He is a Marauder,” Lily whispered from somewhere behind them. “And Marauders can’t be all bad can they?”
“If you only knew.” James kissed her lovingly and wrapped his arm around her waist as they turned to face Peter. “Peter, my wife and I would like to ask you a favor.”
A/N: I know it seems like a rather abrupt end, but I always intended this to be about the change of the secret keeper and go no further. I want to thank everyone who came along for the story. It’s been wonderful fun and I’ve learned so much! Thanks to each and every one of you!