Chapter 6 : Chapter Six
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November 10, 1981
Ministry of Magic, London
The Wizengamot was silenced by Snape's "display", but wether that silence was the result of shock or disgust at what the ex-Death Eater was branded with was uncertain. Dumbledore looked to be the only one who wasn't stunned by the evidence, but he had also known Severus was going to show the Dark Mark.
"Yes, well. . ." The Minister cleared his throat. "The left arm, did he say?"
"That would be correct, Minister," Dumbledore answered.
Remus guessed what was coming, and picked Harry up off of Sirius's lap. The child snuggled close to him after he noticed the amount of people gathered in the room. He had never been around many people at once (what with Voldemort trying to kill him and all), and it was apparent that Harry didn't inherit his father's love of being the center of attention - or anywhere near it.
Scrimgeour, being the Head of the Aurors, went to loosen the chains around Sirius's left arm on Crouch's orders. Sirius resisted the urge to spit in the man's eye. Scrimgeour slowly held up Sirius's bare forearm for the courtroom to see, then chained it back to the chair.
Runcorn looked to Crouch for instruction, but the Minister seemed to angry to speak. The strongest bit of evidence the court had been presented with yet had helped prove the innocence of the man he was trying to convict. After looking to see the scribe of the trial had written everything down, Runcorn addressed the Wizengamot.
"With the last of the evidence presented, will all those who believe the accused, Sirius Orion Black, innocent of Death Eater charges raise your hands?"
Sirius held his breath as the hands went up. A few instantly, and more slowly followed. Not long after, nearly three-fourths of the Wizengamot had their hands in the air.
Crouch and Scrimgeour shared a sour look as Runcorn continued, looking none too pleased himself.
"All those in favor of conviction?"
Not even a dozen people believed Sirius to be guilty.
"It seems," Dumbledore said, rising as the voters put down their hands, "that the Wizengamot has come to a decision: Sirius Black, is innocent."
Sirius let out the breath he had been holding as the chains on the chair undid themselves. Shakily, Sirius stood as the Wizengamot began to disassemble. He made his way to Remus and Harry, and took his godson from his friend. He held Harry close, not entirely believing they would be going home soon instead of him going back to Azkaban and Harry going Merlin only knew where.
Sirius turned to see Dumbledore standing behind him. "Yes, sir?"
"I believe that the issue of the Potters' will is now at hand, including the custody arrangement for Harry."
"I can keep him, right?" Sirius asked, holding on to Harry even tighter, feeling the fear of losing his godson creep up on him.
Dumbledore sighed. "Lily and James stated in their will that, were anything to happen to them, you would be granted full guardianship over their son. However, there is another option I'd like to discuss with you."
Before waiting for the Headmaster to continue, as Sirius could see he obviously was going to, Sirius cut in. "I like the first option just fine, thanks."
"Sirius, these are matters regarding Harry's safety--"
"I can keep him safe without-- I'm not letting anyone take him from me, Albus!" Sirius hadn't shouted, but his tone very well suggested his desire to.
"Very well, Sirius, as I'm sure you know, the decision is yours."
Sirius nodded, looking at the child in his arms. His godson had always meant the world from him, since the day Harry was born, Sirius couldn't have loved him more. He'd never leave Harry, especially not by willingly giving him up. Harry was all he had left of Lily and James now, too.
All that was left was for the custody papers to be signed. Sirius had said he wanted Remus to act as witness, but Crouch said that wasn't a possibility because of the new werewolf restriction laws. (The list of things on those restrictions was growing by the day.) Remus had to discreetly stomp on Sirius's foot to keep him from doing anything that would cause more trouble than it was worth.
Dumbledore (who would be signing as witness instead), being the Chief of the Wizengamot, apologized to Remus for the new anti-werewolf laws, and warned that there may be more in the near future. Unfortunately though, he was powerless to stop it from happening.
Remus didn't voice any response to that, he simply nodded as Sirius (carrying Harry) and Dumbledore entered the room, leaving Remus alone with his thoughts. He had guessed that with the new rises to greater power within the Ministry, laws like the most recent ones passed would begin to become more common, but it was slightly frightening how fast they were being approved. He had been asked to give evidence in Sirius's trial that morning, but by the time the trial came around, for him to present evidence was no longer legal. Although he would never admit it, Remus was growing rather apprehensive about what new restrictions created from prejudice would show up next. He couldn't help but wonder if he would one day be as high up on the Ministry's most wanted list as some Death Eaters for just being a werewolf. Remus shook his head to rid it of those thoughts. Sirius had just exited the room, looking happier than Remus had ever seen him since the day of Harry's birth. There were happier things to think of at the moment, and, with everything that had so recently been happening, Remus wanted to relax and enjoy life a little before he started dwelling on everything negative that couldn't be avoided.
Although he was hesitant to leave him, Sirius put Harry to bed in his crib at his house (the defense spells that had been protecting it replaced and strengthen by Dumbledore during Sirius's stay at Azkaban), and went to talk to Remus.
"Thanks, Moony," he said sincerely to the only other Marauder left.
"For what?" Remus asked.
"For everything, you know, with Harry. If you hadn't have watched him, I don't know if I'd have ever gotten him back." That was truly Sirius's greatest fear: losing Harry like he had Lily and James. And it showed in his voice.
"You would have. You're innocent, and James. . ." Remus let his sentence trail off. It was still hard thinking about his murdered best mate, let alone talking about him.
Sirius nodded, staring intently at the floor, allowing his curtain of hair to veil his face to Remus wouldn't see the tear that entered his eye at hearing Prongs's name. Without realizing what he was doing, Sirius leaned against the wall, but quickly straightened himself, letting out a hiss of pain.
Remus looked at him oddly.
"What?" Sirius asked, irritated that he could have forgotten why leaning against a wall would have been a bad idea.
"Maybe that's a question you should answer."
"And maybe it isn't."
Sirius sighed. He never liked keeping things from Moony; the Marauder always had a way of making him feel guilty about it without even bringing the subject up. Then of course, the guilt about keeping something important hidden would get to the point where it was near impossible not to tell Remus what he wanted to know in the first place, even though by that time he had (more often than not) found it out from somebody else. That fact didn't stop Sirius from having to tell Remus what he inquired about to make the guilty feeling go away though.
In this case, Sirius just decided it would be easier for everyone involved if he skipped over that entire process and just told Remus what he wanted to know.
"You know all the new laws they've been passing? Well, you'll be glad to know they don't all concern werewolves," Sirius said darkly, a shadow of something that Remus didn't recognize passing behind his eyes.
Realization dawned on the werewolf's face. "You've got to be joking."
Sirius snorted in response to Remus's disbelieving remark.
"Aren't you going to do something about this?" Remus all but shouted, almost wondering why at least one of the persons responsible wasn't lying half-dead in St. Mungo's at the least. It was too close to the full moon to be thinking about things like this; he could feel the wolf instincts inside of him rise to the point where he wanted to rip out the throat of the person who hurt his friend that way. Of course, the fact that Remus had no doubt the man behind it all was Crouch didn't help.
Sirius glanced at his godson's partially open bedroom door. "Not if it could mean losing him. Remus, I. . . If they. . . I just can't lose him. I won't do anything that might. . . I can't lose him."
Remus understood what Sirius was trying to say. Sirius loved Harry enough to be the boy's father, he always had, and Sirius wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of his guardianship over Harry.
"So, um," Sirius said, trying to change the subject. "Are you going to stay for the full moon, or is that tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow," Remus answered. "Either way, I'll be heading back to my place. I don't want to be around Harry during my transformation."
Sirius nodded, not really wanting a full-fledged werewolf around his godson either; but since his best mate was that full-fledged werewolf, he wasn't going to voice that preference. "All right then. See ya later, Moony."
Peter Pettigrew, in the form of Wormtail the rat, was truly terrified at this moment. For the past few days, he had been thinking over his options, but that wasn't turning out too well for him. Not only did he not have many options, but he had never been good at planning a course of action, that had always been Sirius and James. Remus would point out any potential flaws and come up with ways to fix them. Peter had only tagged along, being the reason the prank they had planned messed up more than a few times.
Peter came (after many tedious hours of thinking) to the conclusion that he could beg Dumbledore for forgiveness and hope for a second chance, try to get a fellow Death Eater to hide him, seek out his fallen master (whom he heard rumor was still alive somewhere), or live out the rest of his life as a sewer rat.
In his first plan, Peter was fairly certain that Sirius, possibly with Remus's help, would see that he wasn't breathing long enough to speak with Dumbledore, and wasn't entirely sure that Dumbledore even would be willing to help him out. In his second option, Peter thought that if any Death Eaters blamed him for You-Know-Who's downfall, well, it wouldn't end up being too good for him. And his last option really wasn't an option, since Peter hated it down in the sewers; there was no way he'd be able to spend the rest of his life there in the dark, damp, and disgusting place. The only choice left for him to take was to search for the fallen Lord Voldemort. With any luck, he would be grateful to Peter for finding him, and Peter wouldn't be punished for Voldemort meeting his downfall with the information Peter had provided.
But either way, setting out to find Voldemort was the only real option that Peter Pettigrew was left with, at least in his mind.
A/N: Short chapter, I know. I'll try to make the next one longer.
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