Blood Traitors and Spies
"FORGIVE ME, MASTER! AHHHHHH!"
From the circle of robed and masked figures, he watched, grateful it wasn't him on in the center with the Dark Lord, being tortured. But he knew his turn would come. He had given Bellatrix the information instead of going straight to the Dark Lord. His master's wrath would turn to him next, he just knew it. He shivered, silently, watching Bellatrix's torture, wishing that if he closed his eyes her screams would be blocked out too.
"Tell me, Bellatrix, if you are my faithful servant, who told you how to get close to Black?"
"It was-" Her voice was raw and scratchy, hard to hear. "It was him
." She pointed.
He trembled even harder now, although he knew this was coming.
"Oh?" The Dark Lord's red, cat-like eyes fixed on him. "And why did you not come to me with this? Since when do you report to Bellatrix? Why should you not share in her fate?"
"Master, forgive me!" He fell to his knees, and kissed the hem of the Dark Lord's robes while speaking. "I told her, yes, my Lord, and I wanted to tell you. She said not to bother you. Said you were not concerned with capturing only one blood traitor. Master, please!"
The Dark Lord's laugh was like a hiss. He turned back to Bellatrix.
His knees and arms gave out. He was lying flat on the floor, crying as he listened to his master.
"Is this true, Bellatrix? You knew I wanted Sirius Black alive, or you would have killed him. And you also know time spent on the capture of one blood traitor is time wasted, when I will have them all once I defeat that Muggle-loving fool. You not only wasted your time with this pathetic attempt to capture Black, you wasted mine! And you failed! Crucio!"
"Never again, Bellatrix. Never again will you organize an attack without my permission. Stand."
"Yes, Master, thank you, Master." Bellatrix stood on shaky legs.
"Who made you the potion you used to paralyze Black?"
"I did, my Lord," another Death Eater said, falling to his knees. "You instructed me to test my creation. When I learned of Bellatrix's plan, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. I did not know you did not authorize her actions."
"Rise, Severus, my faithful servant."
"You have served me well over the years. Even now, when Bellatrix failed, your potion was a success. You will be rewarded for this, for Lord Voldemort rewards those who serve him well."
"Thank you, my Lord," Snape said, bowing his head.
"I am entrusting you with my most important mission, Severus. Choose three others to accompany you. The rest will leave."
"Yes, my Lord."
Without any thought, as though he had been expecting this, Snape chose Lucius, Bellatrix, and him, although he was still lying on the floor. He stood, though, when Snape picked him.
"The rest of you, get out!" the Dark Lord commanded. "You will tell no one what I am about to say," he said, when the room had cleared. "The Prophecy could not have referred to the Longbottom boy. I killed the boy. Had the Prophecy been fulfilled then, I would be unstoppable, yet Dumbledore continues to stand against me. There must another. You will find him. You will break into Hogwarts, find the book the Magical Quill writes in, and bring the names of all magical children born in 1980 to me."
"We are honored, my Lord, that you have trusted us with this," Snape said.
"I trust you, Severus. Do not disappoint me, and do not make me regret giving you the choice of whom to bring."
Sirius waited in a guest room at Hogwarts for Harry to be finished with his Friday morning classes. Thinking back, he wondered how he had gotten through to October without seeing Harry once. Sure, he had gone for a while being apart from his son before, but he had always been on Order missions then and it was hard to concentrate on missing Harry when he was preoccupied with staying alive long enough to get home.
When the door opened, Sirius smiled.
"Hey, Harry." Sirius kissed the top of Harry's head while hugging him tightly. He sat on and pulled Harry next to him, keeping an arm around his shoulders.
"What happened? Dumbledore didn't tell me much."
"No, he usually doesn't." Sirius paused. He had to tell Harry about how he had done the very thing he'd been warning Harry against for years: Believing something was true because he wanted it to be and not looking any farther. "I thought you'd want to meet your mother. Remus suggested I look around the pubs I used to frequent. She looked like you, your eyes, some of your facial structure. It didn't take her long to have me believing she was your mum. She told me everything that I wanted to hear: That she remembered me, that she wanted to know about you, that giving you up wasn't her choice." Sirius sighed. "I messed up. I should have made sure it wasn't all just a trap, but I didn't. If Dumbledore hadn't known she was an imposter, and if James hadn't have showed up when he did, I don't know what would have happened." Well, that last bit had been a lie. Sirius knew exactly what would have happened. Bellatrix would have taken him to Voldemort to torture and kill. But he didn't need to be that graphic with his kid. Harry's face told him his son was scared enough of what might have happened. He pulled Harry to him. "I'm all right now, so don't worry. I won't be falling for that again anytime soon."
"Dumbledore knew she wasn't my mum?"
Sirius nodded. "He was having Bellatrix followed ever since she showed up on the train. He knew she was posing as a Muggle woman, but didn't know why until he got my letter."
"How long are you staying?" Harry finally asked.
"Until Sunday. Why don't you tell me about what you've been up to this past week?"
Harry's embarrassed grin told Sirius everything.
"Getting into trouble already?"
"No, we got away…"
"Malfoy challenged me to a Midnight Duel and Ron said he'd be my second. So at midnight, we went to find Malfoy. Hermione came, trying to talk us out of it, saying we'd only end up in detention or expelled. But when we got to the Trophy Room, only Filch was there with his stupid cat and he knew we were coming. We got away until we ran into Peeves and he started screaming where we were. We got to the end of the corridor and the only door was locked. Hermione opened it, and we hid there until Ron noticed a giant, three-headed dog getting ready to eat us. We got out and locked the door again, and Filch was gone. When we got back to the tower, Hermione told us that the dog was on a trapdoor, guarding something. And—"
"And nothing. There are hundreds of trapdoors in this castle, most of them leading to nothing." Sirius didn't like how excited Harry sounded about the cerberus guarding something. "I don't know why Dumbledore's housing a giant monster in the school, but you're going to stay away from it. Most likely Hagrid just got a new pet and has nowhere else to keep it. So you forget about that dog, you forget about that door, and you stay away from both. Understand?"
"You haven't opened that package James and I gave you before you got on the train."
Harry looked up, surprised. "How'd you know?"
"Just a feeling."
"I forgot about it," Harry admitted. "With everything that happened on the train. It must have ended up at the bottom of my trunk."
"You haven't unpacked everything?"
"Ron hasn't either…"
"Yeah, it always took me a couple of months to everything put away after getting to school."
"When will it be over? When I got called to Dumbledore's office, I was hoping I was in trouble. You only get called to Dumbledore's office if you're in trouble or if…"
"Come here." Sirius held Harry close, rubbing his back. As much as Sirius had wished it was possible, Harry had not grown up protected from the war. Harry knew people were dying every day, he knew his family was involved with the war, he knew there were people who would try to kill him for being a blood traitor's son. He knew to be afraid; Sirius just made sure he also knew how to think while he was afraid. "No one knows when this is going to end, Harry, but I promise I won't leave you. No matter what happens, you'll always have me."
"But what if—"
"No matter what. Okay?" Sirius was holding Harry's face now, looking at his light green eyes. "Doesn't matter what you need me for, if you need me, I'll be there."
The day after Sirius left, Harry returned to his dormitory and dug through his trunk. The parcel was
at the bottom. He didn't want to forget it again. Hiding it in his robes, he went to the Common Room to find his friends.
Hermione was studying while Ron doodled over his notes.
"Hey, guys, c 'mon." He showed them what he had.
"We have an important essay due Friday—"
"Who cares? Let's go, Harry."
Hermione bit her lip. "Oh, all right, but that better not have anything to do with that dog—"
Harry led his friends to a corridor that looked deserted and slipped inside an empty classroom.
"My dad and godfather gave me this before term started. He didn't tell me what it was, but he didn't want me to open it in front of my godmother. That means it's something great." He untied the wrapping. And exposed a folded, silvery cloth. "No way."
"What is it?"
"It's Uncle James' invisibility cloak." Harry threw it over his shoulders and disappeared.
"Neat! Can I try? I've always wanted one of those."
Harry took off the cloak and Ron covered himself with it.
Hermione, though, was looking at the floor. "Harry, what's that?" she asked, pointing to a small package that had apparently fallen out of the cloak.
Harry opened a mirror and read the note, smiling.
I'm sure you know what cloak that is, now that you've gotten to this letter. This is my Two-Way Mirror, you know how it works. James and I are sharing the other one, so try him if I don't answer.
Best of luck at Hogwarts!