Chapter 12 : Chapter Fourteen: The Beetle Is Back
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Sirius found himself hurrying down the stairs again, he had felt his mirror in his pocket heat up as he was talking to Harry, and knew Remus would only try to call him on it if it was an emergency. He almost ran into Kreacher on his way to the kitchen, and he sent him to his cupboard after hearing him mutter how Sirius 'dishonored the Noble House of Black.' Walking into the kitchen, Sirius could immediately tell something was off. Remus, Kingsley, Arthur, and Tonks were huddled in a group by the table, looking and muttering over a piece of parchment Kingsley was holding.
"What it is? Where’re Dumbledore and the teachers?" Sirius asked, slowly walking over to them.
"They had to leave, staff meeting at Hogwarts. And take a look for yourself." Tonks answered, gesturing for him to come over.
"Rita Skeeter." He snapped angrily.
Taking the paper from Kingsley, Sirius sat down on an empty chair, set the paper on the table before him and began to read. Sirius had to bite his tongue hard and keep his teeth clenched so he wouldn't start yelling in anger.
Rita Skeeter literally made it sound as though Dumbledore had done nothing to help get Harry back, and that Harry's friends, along with Ministry Aurors, had found and saved Harry. She also implied that it was the work of angry Death Eaters, but asked why they would capture Harry in the first place. Sirius didn't know how Rita could have known about this story anyway, he seriously doubted Fudge would be going out and telling Daily Prophet reporters anything about the kidnapping, he was too afraid of how it would affect his power.
Sirius was positive that she could in no way spy on them at Grimmauld Place, the house had almost as many protective spells as Hogwarts, it wasn't possible. Still, he couldn't stop the shiver running down his spine or the feeling of unease settling in his stomach. If she, by any means, knew he was here he could be sent back to Azkaban in an instant. Shaking his head, he heard Remus, Tonks, Kingsley and Arthur sit down next to him, they looked right at him.
"It's rubbish, Sirius." Remus said, taking the paper away and folding it.
"I know, but it worries me how she knows Harry was taken in the first place. I mean, we didn't go out telling people. Only Fudge and a couple of Aurors who are in the Order know about it." Sirius told them.
Kingsley was about to say something when the door opened, and Molly, along with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the twins walked in, Kingsley shut his mouth.
"Is everything alright?" Arthur asked the kids as they sat down at the table with them.
"Yeah, Harry's in a deep sleep upstairs. Little bugger didn't even wake up when Ron fell down the stairs." Fred replied, smiling over at his younger brother, who was scowling back at him as he rubbed his right arm.
"Good, I was worried he'd find enough strength to march down here and strangle Dumbledore or something." Sirius said with a slight smile on his face.
"What happened?" Kingsley asked curiously, looking from Sirius to the kids on the other side of the table, ignoring the banging from the other side of the room where Molly was making dinner.
"Oh, Harry wasn't on board with the whole Unbreakable Vow thing. Said the information was about him, and he had the right to decide if he wanted us to make the Vow or not. Being a noble prat as always." Ron replied, Hermione lightly smacked his arm.
"Just like James." Remus said with a sigh, smiling over at Sirius, who nodded back at him with a wink.
"What is that?" Hermione suddenly asked, gesturing to the folded Evening Prophet in front of Remus.
Ron and George leaned in closer to her so they could read the paper, while Ginny and Fred stood up from their seats and read it over Hermione's shoulder. The adults watched as Hermione's eyes blazed with anger, while the boys and Ginny started exclaiming that she had no business writing about Harry.
"That bitch!" Hermione cursed under her breath, but everyone at the table heard it.
Remus choked on his Butterbeer and spilled some of it on his shirt, looking as shocked as Kingsley and Arthur did. Sirius bit his lip to suppress his laughter. He turned his face away from everyone and started to laugh silently. Ginny and Tonks shook their heads with smiles on their faces while the boys around her stared at her with open mouths. Hermione was never one to swear.
"She broke the deal we made!" She continued, throwing the paper away from herself.
"What do you mean?" Tonks asked, her eyebrows creased together.
"I found out a very interesting secret of her’s last year, and promised not to tell anyone if she didn't write another story on Harry ever again. And now I get the satisfaction of telling everyone what she is!" Despite the anger in her eyes, Hermione had an evil smirk on her face, one that sent chills down Ron, Fred, and George’s backs.
Sirius could smell blackmail. He smiled at Remus with a trace of mischief in his eyes and leaned closer to Hermione. Kingsley and Arthur shared a look, but shrugged and looked back at Hermione.
"What? What is it?" Sirius asked eagerly.
"Rita Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus." Hermione announced dramatically.
Sirius, Fred, and George all looked over at Kingsley and Tonks with evil smirks on their faces. The Aurors themselves looked shocked. Remus looked thoughtful, trying to think of any evidence to support what Hermione told him. Ginny and Ron smiled, both knowing that Hermione had probably just gotten the old hag into a lot of trouble with the Ministry.
"What is she?" Arthur asked her.
"A beetle." Hermione replied, leaning back in her chair.
"So, Kingsley," Sirius started, turning in his chair to face the Auror and trying to keep a straight face, "What are the charges of being an unregistered Animagus?"
"A fine of one thousand gallons and two months in Azkaban." Kingsley answered him, rolling his eyes at Sirius.
"She gets to go to Azkaban?" Ginny asked, with a hint of joy in her voice.
"Yes, but since her crime isn't as bad as others, her cell won't have as many Dementors." Kingsley replied, seeing the look of shock on Hermione's face.
"Don't worry about it, Hermione. She deserves it, harassing children and selling fake stories to the public." Arthur told her in a reassuring voice as Sirius nodded along.
"And what may I ask will you do when you are proved innocent, Sirius? Do I have to remind you that you're also an unregistered Animagus?" Remus asked in an amused tone.
"Hey, I'll register as soon as I'm innocent. It won't cost me a thing." Sirius answered, unconcerned.
"But you've been one for over twenty years." Remus said with a laugh.
"Small detail." Sirius replied with a wave of his hand.
Everyone at the table laughed, and Molly came over to start setting plates out. Arthur and Ginny got up to help her set the table. Then they sat down, and all of them explained what they had learned to Molly. She looked shocked at first, but then patted Hermione on the hand and thanked her, much to the amusement of the twins and Sirius. As soon as everyone was finished, Molly sent the plates to the sink with a flick of her wand, and Kingsley left for his own house, promising to report Rita to the Ministry first thing tomorrow. The kids started making their way to their rooms, while the adults went into the living room.
"Don't forget that we'll be cleaning up the house more tomorrow!" Molly shouted after them, ignoring the moans of annoyance she got back.
Hearing a snore puncture the silence, Harry turned his head and looked over at the bed next to his, there, he found Sirius lying on his stomach with his head turned in Harry’s direction. His mouth was open and his hands were folded under the pillow beneath his head. It took Harry everything he had not to laugh out loud and, carefully untangling himself from the sheets on his bed, he stood up. Harry stretched his arms out slowly, making sure he didn't aggravate any of his injuries, and slowly made his way out of the room, shutting the door quietly behind him. Harry walked across the hall and into the bathroom, making sure no one was there before walking in.
Going over to the sink he turned the faucet on and looked into the mirror. The cream Madam Pomfrey had sent over worked, the bruises on his face were fading, they were now a hardly there faded blue. His green eyes had gained back some of the light they always had in them, standing out against his pale skin. Other than that his lips and the healed cuts on his face were the only things that had colour. The shock of night last still lingered, but now Harry had a better hold of his emotions, and he understood better. He knew that he shouldn't be mad at Dumbledore for forcing them all to make an Unbreakable Vow to keep the information secret. Deep down he knew it was for the best.
Harry splashed water on his face, wiping it off with a towel, and reached for the drawer under the counter. He grabbed the pile of clothes he’d left there in case he ever forgot to bring them with him when he took a shower and changed quickly. Harry walked out of the bathroom and climbed down the stairs carefully. He walked into the living room and found Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Hermione, Ginny, and Remus sitting there.
"Morning." He announced himself, and went over to sit by Ginny and Hermione on the couch.
"It's good to see you moving around dear, but don't you think it's a bit too soon?" Mrs. Weasley said, looking at him with concern.
"Don't worry, I'm fine." Harry assured her, knowing his appearance said otherwise.
Harry leaned back against the couch, and tried to ignore the fact that most eyes in the room were on him. He looked down at his hands crossed on his stomach.
"What time is it?" He asked, breaking the sudden silence in the room.
"A little after nine." Ginny answered him, a smile on her face.
"Ah, that explains why Sirius and your bothers aren't up." Harry said with a laugh.
Everyone gave a small laugh, and Mrs. Weasley went into the kitchen to grab a pot of tea and probably some of the potions Harry needed to take. Sure enough, as soon as she walked in Harry could see steam coming from a few vials in her hand. He reluctantly took the potions, draining the cup of tea she gave him to try to get the horrible taste out of his mouth.
"Do you want any breakfast Harry? We just finished eating." Remus asked, starting to stand up.
"No, I'm fine, Remus." Harry replied, not thinking he could stomach anything but the potions at the moment.
"Harry, you need to eat." Remus said sternly.
"I know, but what's the point if I just end up throwing it back up?" Harry replied, rolling his eyes.
"Just a piece of toast, that's all I'm asking." Remus compromised.
"Fine." Harry replied with a sigh. With a smile Remus left the room to fetch Harry some food.
Ron walked into the room a moment later, yawning as he stretched his arms over his head, his belt unbuckled on his trousers. As Harry, Ginny, and Hermione laughed at him Mr. Weasley informed Ron of his little problem and, blushing, Ron buckled his belt.
"It's too early in the morning to think properly, mate." He said as he sat down next to Harry.
"But we get up earlier than this at Hogwarts." Harry told him, a grin on his face.
"Yeah, but it’s the summer holidays right now." Ron explained.
"Then go back to bed." Harry said, rolling his eyes.
Just then Remus walked back in the room with Sirius, who was nursing a mug of coffee in his hand. Remus walked over to Harry and handed him two pieces of buttered toast, and went to sit back down in his seat. Harry handed Ron one of his pieces of toast, and started to nibble at the other.
"Thanks mate, and I would, but mum wants us to finish cleaning this room today." Ron told him, taking a bite out of his toast.
"Fun." Harry muttered.
He felt his stomach churn uncomfortably from the toast, but continued to eat regardless. Finally the twins came down, yawning and stretching their arms out. Fred had his shirt on inside out, but George thought it would be best for him to figure that out on his own. They sat down on opposite arms of the sofa, Fred flinging his arm around Hermione's shoulders while George did the same to Ron, grinning as they all started chatting. Mrs. Weasley pulled the waste basket onto the living room table, along with cleaning supplies and the pot of tea with mugs around it.
"All right you lot," She started, catching their attention, " Now I know we've already worked in this room, but we need to get finished. If you find anything that has the Black family crest, Sirius wants you to throw it away. If it doesn't, you come to one of us and ask. Is that clear?"
Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione nodded and started standing up, crossing the room and going through dusty bookshelves and the cushions on the empty chairs. Mrs. Weasley had her wand pointed to the ground, vanishing any dust bunnies or dirt she could see. Sirius and Remus had picked up 'Mrs. Skower's All Purpose Magical Mess Remover' and were spraying it on some of the stains on the curtains. Mr. Weasley was cleaning the window with his wand.
Harry sat on the couch hesitantly for a moment, not knowing what he should do. Finally he shrugged and heaved himself up, holding onto the arm of the couch to steady himself as he walked over to the side table. Just as Harry went to open the drawer in it Mrs. Weasley looked over at him, and her eyes widened in alarm on seeing him up off the couch.
"Harry dear, you shouldn't be moving around a lot, go and sit back on the couch, we can manage without you." She said, and started to move towards him to help him sit back down.
"Mrs. Weasley, I'm fine. I don't want to sit around and watch all day, I want to help. Plus, I really want to stretch out my legs." He said, smiling at her.
Mrs. Weasley stood there for a moment, a slight frown on her face as she studied him, having an internal debate.
"Fine, I guess we could use your help," She said after a moment, "But I want you close to something to hold on to, in case you loose your balance."
Harry nodded, and opened the drawer his hand was in front of. Everything inside it was covered in dust, and Harry coughed as he inhaled a puff of it. Inside he found some old magazines, which were crinkled and the colour faded, a couple of broken quills, and oddly enough a few pieces of jewellery. After throwing away the magazines and quills, Harry grabbed the pieces of jewellery and sorted them out. He studied each one closely. Dangling from his fingers were four necklaces, two bearing the Black family crest, and one that had a skull. The last one was a heavy locket, gold with an ornate letter S, which was inlaid with many small, green stones.
Keeping the gold locket dangling from his fingers, Harry threw the two Black family ones away first then, as an after thought, threw away the one with the skull. It, in some way, oddly reminded him of Voldemort. Harry sat on the arm of the couch and brought the locket close to his face, studying it.
"What have you got there, Harry?" Hermione asked, catching a few peoples attention.
"I don't know, some locket. It doesn't have the Black family crest on it, though, just a large S." Harry replied, not taking his eyes off the locket.
Sirius moved a bit closer to take a look at it, curiosity written all over his face, while everyone continued to look over. Harry pondered over whether or not he should touch it, he knew that some objects they found before were cursed, but the locket looked somehow innocent. His curiosity won over, and Harry placed the locket in his hand.
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