Sirius and his parents came through the Floo into Grimmauld Place. Walburga was pale and almost beside herself with shame, convinced that she'd never be able to hold her head up again and people would always remember her son was a thief.
"Walla, why don't you rest and have Kreacher bring you some tea?" Orion suggested.
"I think I will," Walburga replied. "I have a terrible headache and maybe some tea will help."
After his wife had left the room, Orion pointed to his study and said, "In there, Sirius, and not a word out of you!"
Sirius went into his father's study, his head down. He was feeling a number of conflicting emotions. Anger at James for turning on him, but sorrow at the loss of his friendship. Resentment at his parents for just accepting his suspension and not fighting it, but guilt that he had caused them so much shame and embarrassment. He stood in front of his father's desk.
Orion came around and sat down. "Sirius, I can't even begin to express how disappointed and disgusted your mother and I are with you. You've defied us time and time again and you've allowed James Potter to lead you around and into trouble as if you were on his personal leash."
Sirius' head shot up. "Are you going to send me to Durmstrang?"
"No, even though I threatened it the last time we spoke about your behavior when you hexed the Minister; your mother and I have decided that wouldn't solve the initial problems which are your impulsive behavior and rebellious attitude. Sirius, those together are a very bad combination. The fact that you never stop and think what the long-range effects of your behavior might be on others or on yourself for that matter; and the fact that you don't care what you do as long as it causes an uproar are very disturbing." Orion crossed his arms and fixed his eldest son with a piercing stare. "You say you hate Slytherins and I'd like to know why you feel that way."
"Because they all follow this Lord Voldemort. They all want to kill anybody who doesn't think like he does."
"You mean what he says regarding Muggles, Muggleborns, and Half-bloods?"
"Yeah, and he came out of Slytherin and so did all the people that became his followers and all of the people who believe what he says is true. The whole house is rotten to the core!"
"Your mother and I came out of Slytherin and so did your favorite cousin, Andromeda. Do you think we're evil? If Andromeda had started Hogwarts the same time as you and been sorted into Slytherin, would you have ignored her and allowed James to hex her and curse her simply because of where she'd been sorted?"
"Of course not, Dad, but Andie's different from them."
"It doesn't matter, Sirius, because by yours and James' reckoning she's in Slytherin so she must be evil. You say you hate what Voldemort is saying about Muggles, Muggleborns, and Half-Bloods, but yet you and James have been taunting, hexing, and bullying a Muggleborn girl since her first night at Hogwarts. Isn't that what Voldemort believes- that Muggleborns should be treated like vermin?"
Sirius looked dumbfounded for a second as the comparisons Orion had been making suddenly sank in.
"It's like a syllogism. Voldemort is bad, Voldemort was a Slytherin, therefore Slytherin is bad," Orion said.
"You think James and I were acting like Voldemort?" Sirius asked, looking horrified.
"Your actions certainly suggest so," Orion replied. "You bully a Muggleborn girl because you think Muggleborns are magically deficient. You bully a Half-blood boy because he suffers from a chronic illness and can't do as much or as well as you can. What else I'm I to think, Sirius?"
"We didn't prank Snivellus because he was a Half-blood; we pranked him because he's a git," Sirius objected.
"And that name you call him; how would you feel if somebody kept calling you Stupius instead of Sirius and yelling it loudly across the Great Hall or in the hallways and the classroom every time they saw you?"
"I wouldn't like it and I'd set their bum on fire!" Sirius replied.
"Yet you don't think Mr. Snape or Mr. Pettigrew have a right to feel the same way when you call them Snivellus and Pee-Pee?"
Sirius looked ashamed as he thought about being called a mocking variation of his name especially when they started calling Peter that name after they cast a spell on him that caused him to wet himself. "I guess they're probably really embarrassed every time we call them that."
"And what do you suppose the rest of those children feel when they have to keep their guards up constantly for fear of you and James hexing them if they let it down in the slightest?"
Sirius shifted uncomfortably. "I guess school wouldn't be very much fun."
"No, it wouldn't be. You've always said you hate Bella because she follows Voldemort, but when you've needed cruel spells to cast on those other children who did you contact?"
"Bella because I figured she'd know all the bad spells. James always encouraged me to contact her when we needed something really mean."
"Do you see what I've been telling you, Sirius? James has been a very bad influence on you. He's led you merrily down a path you don't want to be on. He's not your friend and you saw how quickly he turned on you when Mr. Crouch caught him in a lie."
"He was only interested in saving his own bum," Sirius muttered. "He didn't give a Knut what happened to me." Sirius looked up at his father. "How come you didn't try to break us up before this if you knew James was a creep?"
Orion let out a long breath in frustration. "Even though your mother and I hated to wait until it got to the point where James openly betrayed you; there was nothing we could do before this because you wouldn't believe what we had to say about James."
"I guess I haven't been very smart when it comes to making friends," Sirius admitted.
Orion patted Sirius on his back. "It's called experience and learning, Sirius, and most times it's not an easy process."
"Are you going to spank me?"
"Yes. You know you deserve it."
"I know," Sirius replied glumly. He got up and bent himself over his father's knees without being told. Orion took his ruler and laid a sharp smack across Sirius' bum. Sirius yelped loudly and began crying. Orion continued administering smacks until he reached twelve and then stopped. Sirius face was red and tears were running down his face. His bum stung as badly as if he'd stumbled into a hornet's hive.
"It's over now, Sirius, and you're forgiven. We won't speak of it again. Go to your room and rest. I'll have one of the elves bring you a pain relieving salve," Orion said.
Sirius nodded, sniffled and wiped the tears from his face and left the study, rubbing his sore bum.
Orion sighed and slumped back into his chair. He really hated spanking his sons, but sometimes it was unavoidable. After a few minutes he got up and went in search of Walla. She was in the sitting room looking over the list of tutors given her by Minerva. He sat down beside her and poured himself a cup of hot tea.
"Did you discipline Sirius?" Walla asked.
"I talked to him first and then spanked him. I think he's beginning to see how bad his actions were especially when I pointed it out to him that they resembled what Voldemort preached."
"Mrs. Crouch is the head of the Witches' Aid Society. I don't know how I will manage if she knows about Sirius."
"She won't find out, Walla. I know Barty and he never talks about what goes on in the office at home."
"But what about the Prophet, Orion?"
"There won't be anything about Sirius," Orion assured her. "All Barty will release to the paper is that the case has satisfactorily been resolved. Have you decided anything about a tutor for Sirius?"
"I was looking over this list of tutors and I've sent an owl to this Aquinas Finchly for his references. He looks to be older than the others on the list and we'll need somebody who Sirius cannot trick or walk all over."
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"I couldn't believe it, Horace. My eyes about popped out of my head when I saw Albus turn Potter over his knees and whale on his bum a good one!"
Horace chuckled. "I have to confess I'd have liked to have seen it, Minerva."
"The Potters of course were furious that anyone would dare discipline their beloved son."
"And from what you said, Minerva, it sounds as if Potter and Black are finished as friends."
"Potter turning on Black and accusing him of masterminding the whole thing put a serious crack in their friendship. The Blacks also told the Potters to keep their son away from Sirius because he was a bad influence."
"Oho!" Horace exclaimed. "I'll bet that didn't sit well with them."
"No, they went into their usual 'all Slytherins are evil' speech."
Horace sighed. "I've long come to the conclusion, Minerva, that some people are just close-minded and stupid."
"I agree, Horace."
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There was a lot of speculative whispering in the Great Hall that evening at dinner. The second year Slytherins and Gryffindors had all seen Professor McGonagall summon Potter and Black out of Charms class that morning and neither of them had been seen since.
It was Remus, Frank, and Peter who found out some of what had happened from the house elves who cleaned Gryffindor Tower. The elves had heard it from Dumbledore's personal elf, Twinky, whose cousin, Winky worked for Mr. Crouch and Winky had said 'her master was coming to Hogwarts to punish some bad boys.'
"If Mr. Crouch was coming himself then you know it's a serious matter," Remus said.
"Neither Potter's nor Black's trunks were in our room and all their Quidditch posters were gone when we came back after classes," Pete said.
"So they either got suspended or expelled?" Lily asked.
"Maybe they got arrested," Alice said. "If Barty Crouch was there, it had to be bad."
"I don't think they can arrest kids," Frank said. "More likely they were suspended and are at home."
Lily sighed. "So they'll probably be back in two weeks and won't have learned any lesson from this."
Before the end of the meal, Dumbledore tapped his goblet with his knife and stood up. "May I have your attention, please?"
Everyone quieted down and looked up at the head table. "First thing, I believe I owe Professor McGonagall an apology for implying she wasn't doing her duties as headmistress. This completely untrue. She performed her duties admirably and did not deserve my criticism. Secondly, the students who were partially responsible for the disappearance of the Slytherin emeralds have been suspended for the remainder of the school year."
"They should have been expelled," Dorian muttered to Tav, Severus, and Reg.
"Thirdly, I owe several students an apology for not believing what they told me and told the other professors. I hope you will accept my apology."
"What's to stop him from favoring those two gits when they return next year?" Severus said suspiciously. He refused to take anything Dumbledore said at face value.
The friends met briefly in the Room of Requirement after dinner to talk about what had occurred at dinner.
"I don't know, Sev," Lily said. "He sounded sincere and he did apologize to us."
"I don't think we still can trust him," Severus said. "He probably only worried about his position and that the board will fire him."
"I agree with Sev," Frank said. "I don't think we can trust Dumbledore any further than we could toss a Hippogriff."
"I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt," Emily stated firmly.
"Yeah, but when Pothead and Black come back next fall do we know that Dumbledore won't go back to how he was previously?" Tav asked.
"Well, he did suspend those two gits," Jane pointed out. "And for the rest of the school year too."
"I'll bet Uncle Charles and Aunt Mavis are consoling poor little Jamie and telling him nothing was his fault," Irene said scornfully. "He won't learn anything from this except he wasn't responsible for any of it!"
"Yeah, well I'll bet my dad whacked Siri's bum off with his ruler," Reg said. "If it doesn't dawn on him now that Potter's a bad influence it never will."
"Well, your brother might learn something, but I doubt old Pothead will," Caddaric s replied.
"I agree with Caddaric; I don't think Potter will learn anything out of this," Dorian said. "He's probably strutting around at home whining that he's the victim in all this."
"But if your brother does learn anything from this, Potter and him will be on the outs," Pete said.
"I think we'll just have to wait until next September and see," Remus concluded then continued, "I was thinking about the riddle over Christmas and I thought since Godric is the only portrait we haven't talked to yet; maybe we should talk with him and see if he has any ideas about this riddle."
"That's a great idea, Remus," Lily said. "According to Helga, Rowena and Godric were once very close so he might know something."
"Well, I think you, Remus, Frank, Alice and Pete should talk to him. He might not be willing to talk to any Slytherins since it sounds as if he and Salazar had a falling out over Rowena," Severus said.
"You're probably right, Sev," Frank replied. "We can try and do it tomorrow morning."
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Orion went upstairs after dinner to check on Sirius. He knocked on his door and when he didn't get an answer he opened the door a crack and asked, "Sirius? Are you awake? May I come in?"
"Yes," Sirius rolled over. His face was blotchy and tear-stained. "My bum still hurts," he complained.
"I'm sorry it hurts, but punishment is never supposed to be pleasant," Orion replied. He sat down on the bed beside Sirius and cleared his throat. "Sirius, do you think your mother and I are evil because we were in Slytherin?"
Sirius rolled over and looked at his dad. "I've listened to Mum go on about how much better Purebloods were than Muggleborns and Half-Bloods as far back as I can remember. That's the same thing Voldemort's says so what I'm I supposed to think?"
Orion sighed. "What you've heard are the beliefs your mother was raised with. When we were your age, Sirius, things we were taught by our parents and grandparents we never questioned and by Pureblood daughters especially. Yes, your mum does believe Purebloods are superior to Half-Bloods and Muggleborns, but have you ever heard her say that they should be imprisoned, tortured, or killed? Have you ever heard her say that Muggleborns stole their magic from Purebloods and they should be forced to return it? Those are the beliefs Voldemort is preaching."
"I get so tired of hearing her always quoting the family motto," Sirius complained. "She makes us sound like we're snobby and better than everybody else."
"Do you know who your mother's best friend was all through Hogwarts?"
Sirius shook his head. "Who?"
"It was Eileen Prince, who was Severus Snape's mother. She married a Muggle a few years after she graduated, but your mother never stopped being friends with her or scorned her in any way for marrying a Muggle. She was absolutely devastated when Eileen was killed by a Death Eater defending a family of Muggles in Diagon Alley in 1965."
"I never knew," Sirius said, shocked. "She never said anything."
"Well, your mother is a very private person, but she never scorned Eileen for her marriage or for the fact that her son was a Half-Blood." Orion patted Sirus' arm and got up. "Think about what I've said, Sirius."
"Dad," Sirius said as his father opened his bedroom door.
"I really don't hate you or mum or think you're evil."
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James sulked all through dinner that night, pushing the food around on his plate. His bum hurt and his pride hurt almost as bad because of his godfather's spanking. Some godfather he turned out to be! Taking those bunch of loser's sides.
"Jamie, please eat your dinner," Mavis pleaded. "We know you were hurt by Albus' horrid behavior, but he will never be allowed in Potter Manor again I can promise you that!"
"What good will that do?" James whined. "I still can't play Quidditch and what if they won't let me back on the team again next year even if I qualify?"
"Professor McGonagall will allow you back on the team or she'll answer to me," Charles assured James.
"We'll tell your Quidditch coach to work with you so when September comes you'll outshine everybody," Mavis soothed him.
"When you do return to school, James, I want you to stay completely away from Sirius Black. That boy is dark, his family is dark, and I'll never understand why the Hat put him in Gryffindor. He should have been put in Slytherin where he belongs," Charles proclaimed. "That entire house is dark, including their head and I'm sure they all support You-Know-Who and will all rush to declare their allegiance to him once he gets more powerful."
"Yeah, Sirius and his family will probably trample over everybody else so they can be the first ones to kiss the hem of his robe," James smirked.
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Mary stormed into room, letting the door slam behind her while Lily and Alice were studying. "This is all your fault Jamie got suspended!" she snapped at them.
"And how do you figure that, MacDonald?" Lily asked, rolling her eyes. "We didn't do the bonehead thing of stealing the emeralds out of Slytherin's hourglass."
"And we didn't hide a thief inside the school either," Alice added.
"Snivellus cast an evil curse on Jamie and caused him to do it!"
"In the first place Sev doesn't know any 'evil curses' and he wouldn't do it anyway even if he did; he doesn't think Pothead's worth the trouble."
"And why in Merlin's beard would Sev want to steal emeralds out of his own House hourglass?" Alice snorted. "Wait! I know! He's a secret Gryffindor supporter and wants us to get ahead since we're in last place all because of Pothead and Black so he concocts this completely moronic scheme to get Pothead and Black to steal emeralds out of Slytherin hourglass so we can get ahead."
"One problem with your theory, Alice," Lily advised. "Sev doesn't know Mundungus Fletcher."
"Oh that's right, Lily. Sirius knew him," Alice sneered.
"You two had better watch out!" Mary warned. "Because I'll be watching you and if you slip up even a little I'm telling McGonagall!" Mary slammed back out of the room.
"Wish I had some itching powder; I'd sprinkle it all over her bed!" Alice said.
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A few days later Sirius was studying with his new tutor, Aquinas Finchly, when he heard the Floo sound. Sirius turned and saw Rufus Scrimgeour's head sitting in the flames.
"Continue your studies, Sirius," Walburga directed coming into the room. "Rufus, how nice to see you. Do come through."
Scrimgeour stepped out of the fireplace after carefully brushing any ash from his clothing before he stepped onto the carpet. He was tall and thin with a mane of reddish hair streaked with grey and wore wire-rimmed glasses on his prematurely lined face. "I apologize, Walburga, but this isn't a social call. I'm afraid I have some bad news."
Walburga's hand went to her throat and she grew pale. "Orion …"
"Come and sit down," Scrimgeour said leading her over to a chair in a courtly gesture. "Orion was seriously injured and is at St. Mungo's. His Healer says he's going to be fine, but he is facing a long recovery."
"Thank Merlin," Walburga exclaimed. "How did it happen?"
Sirius got up from the table where he'd been working and came closer.
Rufus sat down in the chair across from her. "Death Eaters attacked a schoolyard full of Muggle children. A witch who lived across the street from the school saw what was happening and summoned the Aurors. Orion was the first to Apparate. Most of the children ran and were able to get away, but they had two young girls cornered and were going to deliver the killing curse when Orion stunned them. Unfortunately he didn't see the third Death Eater and he hit Orion with a severe bone breaking curse. He would have most likely killed him if Alastor hadn't seen what was happening and stunned him. Your husband risked his life to save the lives of two Muggle children and I'm going to recommend to Minister Bagnold that he be awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class."
"I … I need to go to St. Mungo's, but I have to break the news to my youngest son at Hogwarts also. I don't want him to read it in the Prophet tomorrow," Walburga said, distractedly running her hand over her robe.
"Mum, why don't you let Mr. Scrimgeour Floo you to St. Mungo's to see dad and I'll fire-call Professor Dumbledore and tell him what happened and ask him to have Professor Slughorn tell Reg and Floo him here."
"Yes …yes, I think I do need to see your father first before I do anything else." She rose. "Thank you, Sirius. I appreciate your help."
Once Walburga and Rufus had left for St. Mungo's, Sirius grabbed some Floo powder and threw it into the fireplace and shouted, "Professor Dumbledore's office, Hogwarts."
Dumbledore's face appeared in the flames. "Mr. Black, what can I do for you?"
Sirius quickly explained what had happened. "Would you please ask Professor Slughorn to break the news to Reg and then Floo him to Grimmauld Place?"
"I will certainly do that, Mr. Black, and do give your father my best wishes for his recovery."
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Severus, Dorian, Tav, and Reg were studying together at a table in the common room when Horace entered the room. "Mr. Black, would you kindly accompany me to my office, please?"
Reg looked worried. "Am I in trouble, Professor?"
"Oh no, no, no. Nothing of the sort, Mr. Black," Horace replied.
Reg got up and with a confused look at his friends, followed Horace out of the room. The three boys looked at one another. "I wonder what that was about," Dorian said.
"Seems rather mysterious and all," Tav muttered.
"You don't suppose Mr. Crouch changed his mind and decided to arrest Potter and Black?" Severus asked.
They didn't see Reg for the rest of the evening and another first year reported that he had packed some clothing and left with Professor Slughorn.
"I wonder if something did happen at home," Dorian said.
"I don't suppose Professor Slughorn would tell us if there is something wrong," Tav wondered.
"Probably not," Severus said. "Maybe Reg will owl us and let us know what's going on."
They didn't have to wait for Reg to owl them because the answer was on the front page of the Daily Prophet the next morning. 'Senior Auror Orion Black Seriously Injured in Death Eater Attack! Minister Proclaims Him a Hero!'