Chapter 4 : Harry's Home
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Harry yawned as the train pulled into Platform 9 3/4. It was only 7, but he was tired. The ride back had seemed to take a lot longer than the trips back to King's Cross in previous years. He thought it was because he had something to look forward to, going to live with Sirius.
He grabbed his trunk from the overhead compartment, accidentally bashing Ron with it on the way down, and rolled it into the aisle, to the end of the car, and off the train.
He started looking around for Sirius and spotted him near the wall, talking to a Ministry official who would no doubt be overseeing Harry's leaving the Dursleys for good.
Sirius looked a hundred times better than he had in the Shrieking Shack. His hair was now carefully groomed and hung in dark brown curls around his face, whereas before it had looked like a bad imitation of Snape's greasy hair. His moustache was trimmed, and he was wearing a brown velvet blazer with a pair of black pants and a white dress shirt.
As Harry pulled his trunk up, Sirius said, "Hello, Harry! This is Vindictus Cragg, who'll be making sure that your uncle agrees to me adopting you."
"I'm pretty sure Uncle Vernon won't need persuading," Harry told him. He pushed his trunk onto a nearby trolley and ran through the barrier, onto the Muggle side of the station.
"So, Harry," Sirius asked, when he had come over, "where is your uncle?"
"Over there," Harry said. He pointed to where Uncle Vernon's black company car sat in the parking lot. Uncle Vernon himself was sitting behind the wheel, his arms crossed in front of him as he watched the three wizards approach.
"One thing, sir," Harry said to Cragg as they came within metres of the car, "he hates wizards."
Cragg nodded as Uncle Vernon got out of the car.
"Who are you?" he contemptiously asked Cragg. He turned to Sirius and said, "You look like that no-good scoundrel that was friends with James Potter."
Sirius raised his eyebrows and Cragg stepped forward.
"Mr. Dursley, I work for the Ministry of Magic, and I need you to sign this piece of paper here." He handed Uncle Vernon a scroll and a quill.
Uncle Vernon looked suspiciously at it. "Adoption request? What's this? You," he said, pointing at Sirius, "want to adopt my nephew?"
Sirius looked Uncle Vernon in the eye, meeting his cold glare. "Yes," he answered. "And I'll make sure to do a better job than you have, Dursley. Harry tells me that he can't wait to be rid of you. So sign the damn paper so we can leave."
Uncle Vernon huffed as he took the quill from Cragg and signed his name quickly. "I don't like being pushed around by good-for-nothing mischiefmakers like you," he told Sirius. "All the same, I can't wait to be rid of him. He causes enough trouble even while he's at this stupid school of yours."
Harry swallowed a sharp retort as Cragg took the parchment back from Uncle Vernon. The Ministry official glanced at it briefly, then signed his own name underneath Uncle Vernon's and looked at Sirius.
"It's official," he said. "You can go home now, Mr. Black." He turned and walked back through the barrier, presumably to Disapparate back to the Ministry.
Harry and Sirius shared a smile, and then turned away. Uncle Vernon shot one more challenging glare at Sirius before he, too, got back in his car and drove home.
"So where do you live?" Harry asked Sirius. "You've never told me."
"It's a surprise," Sirius said. "All I'm going to tell you is that it's rather big. It used to be my parent's house, and my family was huge. Slytherins, all of them, so I've spent two weeks getting rid of green decorations and replacing them with red." He pulled Harry into a deserted alley and said, "Grab my arm."
Harry grabbed his arm and opened his mouth to ask why, but before he could his feet were wrenched out from under him. He felt like he was being shoved through a tube. His lungs were constricted and he couldn't breathe. Just as he thought he was about to pass out, they slammed into the front hall of Sirius's house.
Harry fell to his knees, breathing deeply, and let his vision clear. Then he stood back up and looked around him. "Wow," he said in amazement.
Sirius's family had obviously been wealthy at some point. The front hall itself was huge. There was dark brown wood floors, and the walls were covered in wood paneling. There were red carpets on the floor and chairs with red upholstery sat invitingly near the walls.
"Sirius," Harry breathed, "this is amazing."
"Better than Privet Drive?" Sirius asked with a grin.
"Definitely," Harry replied. "As long as I don't have to sleep under the stairs."
Sirius's expression darkened. "They made you sleep under the stairs?"
"Yeah," Harry said. "Nice and cozy." He changed the subject. "Where's my room?"
"Up the stairs," Sirius said. "There are 30 different bedrooms, all gigantic, so take your pick."
Harry nodded and started dragging his trunk up the stairs, wondering if that was a joke. He turned into the first bedroom he found. It was a long, thin room. There was a large four-poster bed with draped orange curtains. The walls were dark green, like Slytherin's house colours, and there was plenty of floor space. A large window at the end of the room made it feel even bigger than its already enormous size.
He dropped his trunk in front of what he assumed was a dresser and continued down the room. On one wall there was what he thought was a piano - he had seen one at one of Dudley's school functions, not that he had ever played it.
There was a knock at the door, and Harry turned to see Sirius standing there.
"Sorry about the walls," he said. "I tried to change them, but they're charmed Slytherin green, so they're stuck like that." He smiled. "You can tell I'm the only one in my family to have been sorted into Gryffindor, can't you?"
"Your entire family was in Slytherin?" Harry asked.
Sirius nodded. "Every last one. So of course, when it was my turn, I asked to be put in Gryffindor - I was a rebel even at the age of 11 - and my family, well, did not appreciate that." He paused, and then said, "Dinner's ready, if you want some."
Harry nodded and rushed down the stairs. He stopped in the front hall and realized he didn't know where the kitchen was. Sirius followed him down the stairs. "This way," he said, pointing down a hall to the right of the front door.
"This place is huge," Harry said as he walked into the kitchen, to be greeted by the delectable smell of chicken wings and mashed potatoes. He took a plate from a stack by the sink, took it and the plate of chicken wings to the table past the counter, and started eating. The wings were delicious.
"Where did you learn to cook like this?" Harry asked. "This is amazing."
"When I was 15 I ran away from home and went to live with your father," Sirius said. "James's father taught me how to cook while I lived with them. Then all my family died, the rest were imprisoned in Azkaban, or married, and I got this place again." He looked around. "I didn't think I'd be back here, after all this time. Getting exonerated was a lot easier than I expected - in the war against Voldemort Dumbledore formed his own organization because the Ministry was basically useless."
"Speaking of the Ministry," Sirius continued. "Peter Pettigrew's hearing is next week. There's no doubt that he's going to be guilty. The only question is what his sentence will be. Unusually, the decision has been made to give you a say, since he betrayed your parents without a second's thought." His voice hardened as he said the last sentence.
Harry thought for a moment, but only a moment. He already knew what he wanted.
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