A/N: Here it is. The one you've all been waiting for. Plesae review! I'm starting to miss them. Thanks to those of you who have reviewed!
It Is Time
After months, months, of thinking he wouldn't live to see this day, it finally happened. Severus Snape had used his, Peter Pettigrew's, knowledge of Hogwarts castle and animagus form to their advantage, and the four Death Eaters had finally achieved their goal. There, before them, in a tiny, out-of-the-way classroom, was the Book written in by the Magic Quill. The Quill lay dormant on a single desk next to the open Book. When the Quill sprang to life and wrote in the Book on its own, Peter sighed in relief. They had done it. After five months of disappointing their Master, Peter finally knew the Dark Lord would not abruptly end their mission and hand it to someone else. He could finally give the Dark Lord the exact information he wanted.
"Don't get ahead of yourselves," Snape warned, when Bellatrix Lestrange giggled at the Quill setting itself back down. "We need to get out to be of any use to the Dark Lord."
Slowly, painfully slowly, Snape flipped the book to year 1980.
Peter gasped at the one name that stood out. The one name that was wrong. Harry Potter. 31st July 1980. That was the day Sirius' son was born. But there was no Harry Black in the roster. Not even another name listed as being born 31st July.
"My worthless cousin's brat is missing," Bellatrix observed.
"No," Peter said. "I think he's Harry Potter."
Sirius raced through the halls of Hogwarts with Lily and James at his side, horrible scenarios running through his mind, each worse than the last. Harry's grades had taken a tragic turn for the worst and he was being expelled. Harry had gotten into trouble one too many times and was being expelled. Harry had been terribly injured in his Flying Lessons. Harry had been blown up in Potions. Death Eaters had entered the castle and Harry was in their way. Death Eaters had entered the castle and Bellatrix was with them. Bellatrix was, perhaps at this moment, wrapping her eerily long fingers around Harry's neck.
No. Dumbledore would never have allowed Death Eaters to enter the school, no matter how badly they wanted in. Harry's just been falling asleep in too many classes, that's all. Sirius quickened his pace.
Dumbledore stood over his desk, looking into a deep Penseive. He didn't even look up when Sirius practically shouted, demanding to know what happened to his son. Finally, after using his wand to pull a silver strand from his temple to the basin, he raised his head, giving all three of his former students a sad smile. The blue eyes behind half-moon spectacles were void of any twinkle.
"Please sit," he said. "There is much I need to tell you."
"Harry! What about Harry!" Sirius insisted.
"All you told us was that this concerned him. Is my godson all right?" James gripped the back of a chair until his knuckles turned white.
"Please, Albus, just tell us if Harry's safe," Lily almost begged.
"Harry is safe, but before I continue, I must ask that you all be seated."
Sirius' sigh of relief combined with James' and Lily's, and they all sat.
"To ensure Harry's continued safety, I must undo the measures taken to protect him as a baby," Dumbledore said, monotonously.
"What measures?" Sirius asked. The only measures he knew of were protective wards around his house. Taking those down in the middle of a war certainly wouldn't increase Harry's chance of survival much. Wait. Dumbledore didn't mean... Had putting Harry with with his father, with Sirius, been a protective measure? Dumbledore certainly didn't intend to try taking Harry away. Besides being highly illegal to forcibly remove a child from a competent (which Sirius was) parent's care, Sirius would never allow someone to come take his son away. He knew James wouldn't either. And definitely not Lily.
Dumbledore sighed heavily. "If you need the assistance of my memories in the Penseive, please do not hesitate to ask. This will be difficult enouh for you to accept."
Sirius wished the old Headmaster would stop looking at him that way. And was that pity in the old wizard's eyes?
"When Harry was born, I performed complex memory charms on three of the five people who were aware of the circumstances surrounding Harry's birth. Four of us are in this office, and the fifth is Harry himself. As he would have been too young to consciously remember anything that happened, I left his memories unaltered. Your altered memories have kept Harry safe from Lord Voldemort for the past eleven years, but now Voldemort knows the truth. To keep Harry safe, you must also know. It is time I remove the memory charms."
'Circumstances surrounding Harry's birth'? What could that mean? Sirius didn't want to know. He wanted to keep his memory charms in place and forget he ever learned they were there.
With complex motions of his wand and spells muttered too fast for Sirius catch, Dumbledore removed the memory charms from Lily.
Her hands flew to her mouth as she gasped. She looked at Sirius with the saddest look he had ever seen. Her eyes were wide, pitying, and afraid. The fingers in front of her mouth could not hide the small smile beginning to bloom, a smile that obviously was not connected to the feelings Sirius saw in her eyes.
No... Dumbledore might have implied something, but Sirius would not let Lily's reaction confirm what he inferred. Harry, his son, was... Harry. His son. Harry Black. His son. Harry...
The way James grasped the arms of his chair when his memories were made known to him, the way James' mouth hung open in shock and disbelief, only painfully tightened the knot in Sirius' stomach.
He didn't want to know. Harry. His son. Harry. His son. Harry. His turn.
Before he could tell Dumbledore to stop, his memories of holding Harry for the first time came flooding back. Rushing to Godric's Hollow where James presented him with a baby... Hearing about the Prophecy that put James' son in danger... Agreeing to help protect the baby in the way his parents thought best... Seeing the baby's emerald eyes turn a lighter green and his little bit of hair grow a little bit thicker... Promising the baby's name would be Harry James... Consenting to the memory charms...
This could not be real. This could not be real. This could NOT be real!
"NO!" Sirius fell out of his chair. His best friends seemed unsure if they should approach him or leave him be. He was going to be sick.
Harry. His son. Harry. His son. HIS SON!
Sirius half-crawled to the door leading to Dumbledore's private bathroom. Tears and vomit were emptied into the magnificent toilet.
This wasn't happening. Nonono... Anything but this.
Harry was the best thing he had ever done. Harry was the one he loved the most. Harry was the reason he finally started growing up. Harry was the one thing his life revolved around. Harry was Harry James Black, his son.
Harry James Potter was wrong. All wrong. Sirius' cheek rested against the cool rim of the toilet bowl. He had exhausted himself, but he still found the energy to cry. At that moment, it didn't matter that deep down he know James was his best friend and he wouldn't prevent Sirius from being included in every aspect of Harry's life. All that mattered was that Harry wasn't his.
But Harry was his. Harry had to be his! What else could he be to Harry besides 'Dad'? There was nothing else. 'Padfoot'? 'Godfather'? 'Uncle Sirius'? No. All of those were wrong. Just like Harry Potter was wrong. Harry Black. Dad.
He hated James. James was 'Dad'. He hated Lily. Lily was 'Mum'. What was he? He was the man without a son. Without his son. Oh, Harry... And now he hated his best friends. No, he couldn't hate them. They were his best friends. He had to think of Harry...
Oh Merlin, what would Harry think?
He prayed Harry wouldn't hate him. Knowing the truth hadn't made Sirius love his son any less. He prayed Harry would understand that.
When his tears started dying down, Sirius felt a small, comforting hand rub his back and a cool, damp cloth pressed against his forehead. Lily.
"I promise you won't lose him," she whispered. "We'll never take him from you."
Sirius cried harder than before. He'd already lost Harry.
"Mate..." James. But Sirius didn't want to hear what James had to say. He didn't want to hear Lily anymore either. He wanted to wake up in bed and find this was all a dream.
"Let me be," Sirius finally said.
The Potters left but kept the door open. Sirius found that he would rather look at the contents of the unflushed toilet than his friends.
"How does Voldemort know?" Lily asked.
"One of his Death Eaters informed me. He told me how he led three of his fellows into Hogwarts and saw Harry's name in the Book of Accepted Students. When they reported their find to Lord Voldemort, he declared he would kill both of you and Harry to prove no one can fool him. This man felt guilty for causing Voldemort to target his old schoolmates, and agreed to become a spy for the Order at great personal risk."
"Was he the spy?" James asked.
"No. He was unable to reveal the identity of the spy."
Sirius snorted from the bathroom. This 'Death Eater turned Order spy' sounded like a sure way to get killed to him.
"My suggestion," Dumbledore continued, "remains the same as twelve years ago. Go into hiding with Harry under the Fedilas Charm."
"What about Sirius?" Lily asked, quietly. Sirius still heard. She was fulfilling her promise already. Sirius was glad James was never stupid enough to let her go.
"That will be up to both of you, Harry, and, of course, Sirius."
"I'll do it," Sirius said. He pushed himself to his knees, away from the toilet. "Be your Secret Keeper." Even if he couldn't be Harry's father, he would still preform his fatherly duty and protect Harry with his life. But he wouldn't sit in hiding watching his son learn to call another man 'Dad'. Die for Harry? In a heartbeat. Accept that James was Harry's father? Never. Harry was his son. His pup.
Before anyone could answer, a frantic Harry rushed into the office.
"What happened?" Harry was panting; he must have taken the stairs at a run. "Where's Dad?"
Sirius' heart panged at hearing Harry refer to him as 'Dad'. How long would that last?
"Right here." Sirius wiped his mouth with the damp cloth Lily left. He walked past his friends and pulled Harry close to him before anyone else reached the boy. His pup. "I love you, Harry." Sirius desparately fought against his tears. Weren't they dried up yet? "No matter what, I love you. You're my pup, and that will never change. Okay?"
"Yeah... What's going on?"
Harry took an angry, shaky step back. They lied. All of them. About everything. Since before he could remember. "You... All of you!" His voice was rising, but Harry didn't care. "My life... my whole life... You LIED!"
"Harry--" His au-her looked desparate to hold him as she held her hand out.
"Sweetie, we only wanted you to be safe--"
"So you gave me away! Made my whole life a lie! And YOU!" he rounded on Sirius, the man he believed was-loved as-his father. "You let them! YOU LIED TOO!"
"Harry, please, pup-"
"NO! NONONONONO! I HATE YOU! I HATE ALL OF YOU!" Harry fled from the office.
He tried to block out the three adults calling after him, like his tears blocked out his vision.
He wasn't watching where he was going. He didn't care. He just wanted to get away. He needed to. His father told him he loved him, then that his entire life was a lie. His name wasn't Harry Black, he didn't even look the way he thought he did! Stupid charms to change his appearance. Stupid charms that altered memories. Stupid... everyone! What was that word his fa-Sirius had let slip? The one he made Harry promise never to repeat? He wished he could remember. He'd say it now. He'd use to describe Sirius and Lily and James. And Dumbledore. All of them.
"Oof!" Harry was pushed to the floor when he bumped into a short, balding, overweight man. His Uncle Peter. His anger peaked at seeing another member of his 'family'.
"What's wrong, Harry?" Uncle Peter asked, extending a hand to help Harry up.
Harry wasn't so angry then, at least not at his uncle. Peter didn't know what everyone who ever claimed to be his parent did. He took his uncle's hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.
"Everything," Harry admitted.
"Do you want to talk? I'll take you to Hogsmeade. We can sit in the Three Broomsticks, have a butterbeer. Would that be all right? To talk there?"
Harry would have rather talked about this with Uncle Remus, as he had never been particularly close to Peter, but he had no idea where Remus was. And he'd rather be talking to Uncle Peter than anyone he left in Dumbledore's office. He nodded.
"Harry! Are you okay?" Hemione rushed up to them out of nowhere. "It wasn't your dad, was it?"
Harry's light green eyes flashed at the mention of his 'father'. "I'm fine, Hermione, just going to Hogsmeade with my uncle Peter."
"Oh! Hello." Apparently she hadn't noticed Peter standing next to Harry.
"Yes, well, want to get him back before dinner," Uncle Peter said, patting Harry's shoulder.
"Okay... Are you sure you're all right, Harry?"
He nodded and forced a smile. He would talk to her eventually, Ron too, but for now Harry needed to get out of the castle and talk to a member of his family he could still trust.
Although Dumbledore's advice to let Harry come to terms with everything on his own before trying to talk to him had stayed Lily and James, who didn't want to push their... Harry farther away, Sirius couldn't stand in that office and wait. He didn't like the truth any more than Harry did, and he would never be able to accept it if that meant Harry hated him. Harry didn't really hate him, did he? He was just speaking out of anger, right?
Sirius raced through the halls, trying to figure out where Harry might have gone. He didn't have that much of a head start, Sirius left only a few minutes after Harry. Sirius skidded to a halt when he saw Gryffindor with bushy, brown hair.
"Hey, girl! Harry's friend!" He knew her name but didn't care to remember.
"Mr. Black? Is Harry all right?"
"Do you know where he is?" Sirius practically pleaded.
"I just saw him. He was with someone, his Uncle Peter, he said. They wered going to Hogsmeade."
What was Peter doing at Hogwarts? He wasn't on any assignment from Dumbledore, and it wasn't like he had a clue as to what was happening in the Headmaster's office.
It couldn't be? Could it? Could Peter have known what was going on? Could Peter have planned to run into Harry? Could Peter be the spy?
And it all fell into place. Peter's long absences when he wasn't on a mission. Peter always wanting to know every detail about Order plans but doing everything in his power not to be involved with them. Peter being more afraid when talking about the spy than Voldemort. That time he found Peter at the site of a Muggle slaughtering, the first to arrive, with his wand out. Remus denied setting Sirius up to meet Clarissa, but Peter had been there for the plans too.
Forgive me, Remus. I'm coming, Harry.
Using every secret passage and shortcut he knew, Sirius ran to Hogsmeade.
The small town was bustling with students enjoying the last Hogsmeade weekend of the school year. They glared at Sirius and made rude comments as he shoved them aside, searching for Harry.
There! Close to the enterance of the Three Broomsticks. Peter put an arm around Harry's shoulders, steering him away from the pub.
"PETTIGREW! LET GO OF MY SON!" Sirius roared, whipping out his wand.
They spun around. Harry looked ready to shout something back, but Peter only grinned. He grabbed Harry's elbow.
Sirius dropped his wand and launched himself forward as Peter began to turn on the spot. His hand closed around a fistfull of Peter's robes as Peter apparated Harry away.
A/N: First of all, yes, I'm horrible for leaving off there. Second, this story is coming to an end. There are two, maybe three, chapters left. Unless a sudden bout of inspiration takes me beyond what I've been planning since I started writing this story. Always possible. Anyways, I've been thinking of doing a sequel. What do you think? I know none of you know how the story ends yet, but knowing that it will be over in two or three chapters, would you like to see more?
Also, if you have any questions about the chapter or story, please ask. If I left something out that needs an explanation, I probably won't notice until someone points it out.