2018 HP: Black Distortion

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2018: HP – Black Distortion

Title: Black Distortion
Author: penumbria
Fandom: Harry Potter
Author’s Note: This was 2016 and 2017 April’s Rough Trade attempts which I never finished. This is un-beta’ed and I don’t need or desire unsolicited beta on it.
Summary:  The Veil of Death spits Sirius out in the Department Of Mysteries just before Dudley’s 11th birthday. He has a second chance to make things right.

Part One: Through the Veil

Only one pair was still battling, apparently unaware of the new arrival. Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix’s jet of red light: he was laughing at her.

“Come on, you can do better than that!” he yelled, his voice echoing around the cavernous room.

The second jet of light hit him squarely on the chest.

The laughter had not quite died from his face, but his eyes widened in shock.

Harry released Neville though he was unaware of doing so. He was jumping down the steps again, pulling out his wand, as Dumbledore, too, turned towards the dais.

It seemed to take Sirius an age to fall: his body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backwards through the ragged veil hanging from the arch.

Harry saw the look of mingled fear and surprise on his godfather’s wasted, once-handsome face as he fell through the ancient doorway and disappeared behind the veil, which fluttered for a moment as though in a high wind, then fell back into place. (Taken from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35)

Sirius fell hard on his back and gazed up at the back of the fluttering veil he had fallen through. After a moment of stunned silence, he verbalized the pain he was in, both from the stunner, which hadn’t knocked him out and the hard landing, feet from the dais. “Ow!”

The man shook off his daze and remembered what had sent him onto his ass in the first place. He recalled racing to the aid of his godson and rescuing him and his friends from the Death eaters. He thought on his duel with his insane cousin, Bellatrix, and how he was a git and didn’t take it seriously, letting her get a stunner through his guard.

Sirius scrambled to his feet and turned around only to stare blankly at the empty room. Maybe the stunner did knock me out, after all. Where is everyone? Harry?

Sirius wanted to yell for Harry, for Remus, for his cousin Tonks, but knew that if he had been left unconscious in this mad room, the battle could not have been going well. Even if the stunner hadn’t been able to be reversed, Moony wouldn’t have left him to be caught by the ministry if he had any choice. Nor would most of the others. He was a wanted criminal but they all knew the true story of his innocence.

Sirius hurried towards one of the doors to the room and disillusioned himself before easing it open. It led to a room filled with an odd, partly transparent at times, model of the solar system. Sirius shook his head and returned to the veil room, before choosing another door. This one led to a room with a group of desks, all covered in paperwork but empty of their occupants. Sirius assumed that this room was likely closer to the exit than the others, as the Unspeakables and other researchers wouldn’t want to have to wander through a maze everyday to get to their desks.

Sirius stayed on the periphery of the room as he headed towards the only other door that he saw in the room. He was disillusioned but that didn’t mean invisible, just hard to see. And he thanked his own paranoia as the door in front of him opened when he was only a meter away. He knelt down in the shadow of the nearest desk and slid into his animagus form, still disillusioned.

As he huddled, perfectly still, two men in the distinctive deep blue robes of the Unspeakables entered and took seats at desks on the other side of the room. Sirius listened as they spoke of minutiae of daily life, perplexed. There was no mention among them of a battle in the Department of Mysteries, of Death Eaters, of the Order, of Harry and his friends. It couldn’t be a secret, Sirius had followed the trail of destruction the kids’ battles had wrought through the offices to find them in the veil room.

As he waited for his chance at escape, Sirius almost fainted from shock as he heard one of the wizards open the Daily Prophet and remark to the other, “Well, old Arcturus Black’s funeral was well attended. Fudge was there and gave a eulogy.”

The other man snorted, “I guess Malfoy got him the moment. Fudge is still so new in office the shine hasn’t even worn off the plaque on his office door. And poor taste on his part to give a speech when he never even met the old man. Black stayed in seclusion on his estate for the past fifteen years, even before You-Know-Who fell. I suppose Fudge might have met him in passing at some point but he was nowhere near a friend or even an acquaintance but he was sucking up to Narcissa Malfoy and by extension, Lucius, I suppose. Don’t know if I’d rather he get in with that stuck up git or stick to Dumbledore like he had been. Dumbledore doesn’t need to run for Minister, not when Fudge practically begs him to tell him what to do. I thought Fudge had a backbone. He did before he was elected. Now he’s just being an idiot, listening to everything Dumbledore tells him and reaching out to Malfoy. Idiot.”

The man with the paper sighed. “If he doesn’t get his act together, Malfoy’s going to turn his head. Not that the old man is much better but at least he wouldn’t stoop to bribe the idiot. Give it a year, maybe two, and an examination of Fudge’s finances’ll reveal he probably gets more in bribes than in salary.”

The two men continued talking but Sirius mostly tuned them out as he processed what they had said. Either they knew he was there, knew his animagus form, and were putting on some elaborate, insane play for him, or it was no longer 1996. Grandfather Arcturus had died in 1991, Sirius knew that much from his perusal of the family tapestry at Grimmauld Place. He wasn’t sure when exactly in the year, the tapestry wasn’t that specific and he hadn’t really cared to find out, but he knew it was sometime in 1991. So either an elaborate plot was being acted out by the two men or falling through that veil thing had time travelled him five years or so into the past.

Or I’ve gone completely round the twist. I could be back in Azkaban, I suppose, but I’m pretty sure they would have just given me the Kiss if I had been caught. I suppose I could be either in St Mungo’s crazy ward after the Kiss, no one can really know what happens after the dementors do their thing. They may not even actually remove the soul, just sever the soul’s connection to the body so that it can’t control it. Or I could have been captured by the Death Eaters and this is a hallucination brought on by potions or torture or both. But if any of those are the case, I can’t do anything about it so I might as well assume they aren’t being ridiculous and putting on a play for my benefit. Especially since I think they would have done better to set it during the first war before James and Lily died and snakeface was banished. So, I’m some time in 1991 and I need to go from here.

Sirius realized that the first thing he needed to do after he got out of the ministry was find a place to stay. He frowned internally. If Arcturus had just died, then Black Manor was empty but was likely watched. But, he sighed silently to himself, Grimmauld Place had been empty since his mother’s death in 1985. Except for Kreacher.

The door the two men had entered through opened again and another Unspeakable entered the room. He didn’t go to a desk but simply told the others that they were needed. “Ares, Zeus needs your assistance in the Death Chamber, some sort of ward went off a bit ago when no one was here. Titan, I need your assistance upstairs, we’ve been summoned by the DMLE for some reason.”

The two men stood up and one headed for the door that Sirius had entered through, the other headed to the door that was being held open by the third man. Sirius took the opportunity presented and quickly but stealthily slipped through the open door, staying low to the ground. He found himself in a circular room filled with doors and waited off to the side. His patience was quickly rewarded as the two Unspeakables entered the room. The instant the door closed behind them the wall began to spin in a circle and Sirius couldn’t track the door he had just exited.

When the room stopped spinning, the man in charge strode to the center and said clearly, “Exit.” One of the doors swung open and the two men, followed by the disillusioned Padfoot exited into the basement hallway of the ministry.

Sirius separated from the men, as they entered a lift. He didn’t want to risk his charm in the small, enclosed space. He took the stairs until he reached the Atrium. He went to the circle that led to the visitor’s entrance and mentally called for the phone booth. After a few moments, the booth slid down from the ceiling and Sirius entered and nosed the door shut. The phone booth rose smoothly to the London street and Sirius exited and began the trek towards his hated childhood home.

After a thirty minute walk in his animagus form, Sirius arrived at 12 Grimmauld Place, the house he grew up in, was tormented and tortured in, ran away from at sixteen and kept prisoner in by Dumbledore after his escape from Azkaban. He was not looking forward to staying there once more but it was unplottable and belonged to him. His mother may have blasted his name from the family tree but that was just cosmetic. Even his father couldn’t truly disown him. Not that he had tried.

Orion Black had been a paranoid arse and harsh in speech but had always been more interested in his esoteric experiments than his son’s antics. Walburga had been the termagant, the disciplinarian, the ruler of the sons of the House of Black. She had no actual control outside of what she was granted within Grimmauld Place by Orion’s distance and apathy but she used that power to its fullest extent.

Arcturus had been the lord of the family. And he had no issue with Sirius’ defection from Grimmauld Place. Indeed, Sirius had discovered after returning to Grimmauld Place after his escape from Azkaban that after he had been forced to run away by his mother’s increasingly insane level of abuse, Arcturus had used the family magic to confine the mad witch to within the house. She couldn’t even go into the garden after that, let alone to Diagon Alley or Black Manor. And as an added level of karma, any magic used against members of the House of Black or their servants (house elves bonded to the family magic) was returned to her threefold.

It all meant that with Arcturus having just died, and Sirius being the last male in the direct line bearing the name of Black, he was lord of the family. He wasn’t sure how exactly it would work now with him coming back in time. There were two of him, one locked away in Azkaban, and himself with knowledge of the next five or so years. So, technically, that made him older than his other self, so he should still be the lord, if magic saw him as an older sibling. Unless magic didn’t recognize him at all, but he was still able to do spells, the disillusionment and Padfoot proved it. So, likely he was lord.

Either way, he could access Grimmauld Place and put it under Fidelius with himself as Secret Keeper. He had researched the spell in the Black Library earlier this year, or thirteen months ago four years from now, and found that the master of the house could hold the secret, but only if they owned the property outright. James and Lily had been staying in one of Dumbledore’s properties in Godric’s Hollow rather than a Potter property. It had seemed logical at the time but the more he dwelled on it, the less so it seemed.

Sirius shook his head and walked up the front steps. He resolved to think about it later. As he gained the top step, he glanced around to be sure no one was watching and then retook human form, still disillusioned. He raised his wand and drew it down the center of the front door and then laid his hand on the crest.

“Sirius Orion Black, heir and son of the House of Black, claims ownership of 12 Grimmauld Place. Wards to my control alone.”

The whole house before him seemed to shudder and as the door swung open, Sirius could feel the weight of the wards to the house settle on him. This was something he hadn’t done before. He hadn’t wanted a connection to the house and so he had been able to be kept there by Dumbledore once Sirius allowed him entry and power. But now, though Sirius still didn’t want the connection to the house filled with horrific memories of his childhood, he knew that he needed to take them. He couldn’t ignore his responsibility, not this time. Harry needed him to be the godfather he always should have been. Harry didn’t need the fun-loving, playful, irreverent, impetuous, foolhardy Gryffindor. He needed Sirius to be what he had been raised and bred to be, the sly, cunning, resourceful, at times underhanded, powerful Slytherin Lord of the House of Black. Without the blood purity crap. Toujours Pur. Always pure.

Sirius had done his research when he had been young, before Hogwarts. The family history had only turned to pureblood supremacy in the last two centuries. Before that, the motto had nothing to do with blood and everything to do with family purity, family first. But the meaning had been warped when the lord of the family at the time had been driven partly insane by black magic rituals. He had twisted and poisoned the family magic well and thus the Black family insanity had been born. It was possible to cleanse the well but most of the patriarchs had been so twisted by the magic that they had no interest in doing so.

Grandfather Arcturus had tried in 1976 and again in 1983 according to his personal journals but the Dark Marks branded into the magic of so many in the family had prevented the cleansing from working correctly. And the old man had been unwilling or unable to disown and cast out the marked family members.

Sirius could understand. There had been so many of them in 1976 and by 1983 Arcturus’ health was failing due to the poisoned magic. He didn’t have the strength to sever those connections. But Sirius did. And this time around, he would do so. There were actually very few left by now, most had died, either during the war or since Voldemort’s disembodiment.

And Sirius hoped that the cleansing of the family magic pool would help Harry as well. After all, his grandmother had been a Black. Dorea Potter nee Black had been a very good woman. She had taken him in when he had run from Walburga’s curses. But even she had been unstable at times, losing her train of thought and seeming to see things from the corner of her eye that weren’t there. Harry was a Potter but the Black blood was strong, as was its magic. The Potters were an old family and their family magic was even older but it wasn’t as – robust – no, not robust, thought Sirius, it wasn’t as covetous or as prolific and diffuse as the Black family magic. Sirius didn’t know if it was because of the twisted nature of the magic or some other reason but a person with the Black family magic in their background was able to call upon it to some extent if they were within eight steps of the main line. That was more than any other family magic. Most were three steps, possibly four. The Potter magic was only two steps, which essentially meant Harry was it.

Those so far out from the center of the Black family paid a price for calling upon it, though. It overrode the hold their own family magic had upon them and they were no longer able to utilize it. That is what happened to the Lestrange brothers. After Bellatrix married into their family, they called upon the Black magic in a ritual on her wedding night and cursed all three of them. It drove her out of her mind. If they hadn’t already been marked, it might have gone differently but as it was, the two brothers lost a portion of their magic and Bellatrix was rendered insane and barren.

Sirius crossed the threshold of the house and the door swung closed behind him, locking once more. He gazed around the gloomy foyer. It wasn’t as bad as he recalled but he was here four years sooner. And Arcturus or other older family members recently dead may have visited from time to time after Walburga’s death. Sirius suspected it was Arcturus’ death that drove Kreacher over the edge. He had never been exactly sane and Sirius had always hated him for the actions he had carried out on Sirius, the curses and pain he had given him at Walburga’s orders, even at Hogwarts. In his head, Sirius understood that the elf had no choice but it was difficult to get past. But he would have to this time around. He would need Kreacher to help him and hopefully he wasn’t too late to keep the elderly elf from completely losing his mind.

Sirius walked three steps into the house and Kreacher popped into being in front of him. The elf glared out of his protuberant eyes and spoke, “Blood traitor son returns. Broke the mistress’ heart, he did.” The elf raised his hands and Sirius interrupted him, not wanting to be pushed out of the house like the first time.

“Kreacher! I am the heir to the House of Black and your master! You will not use magic against me!”

The old elf lowered his hands and muttered, “Not a proper heir, runaway, blood traitor, muggle lover. Should be in prison, he should.”

“Kreacher, I am here now and with Grandfather Arcturus’ death, I will be taking the Lord’s ring and I will be Lord Black. I will fix the family magic and raise this House back to where it once was, powerful and respected. I have never liked you, my mother made you do much of her dirty work in regards to me, but I will try not to hold it against you. In return, you must either be a proper house elf and do your jobs or I will – retire – you, if you prefer. This House was once about more than blood purity and black magic. My mother was a Black all of her life but she was from the secondary line. My father was the direct line. And I am heir and soon lord. I give you this choice, but know that if you choose to serve and then betray me, you will wish that I would let you die. I may have run away from my insane mother as a teenager, but I am her son. I am The Black. You would do well to remember that. Now, give me your choice, Kreacher!”

The elf shuffled his feet and rocked back and forth. He glanced at the silent portrait on the wall, Sirius’ control of the wards keeping the witch silent and still. “Heir Black wants to help the Black family? He wants to make the family great?”

Sirius nodded. “Yes, Kreacher. I plan to cleanse the insanity from the family magic pool and raise our family back to the respected position it once held.”

Kreacher nodded. “Very well, master. Kreacher accepts master’s mastership. Kreacher will re-bond to Heir Black when he is Lord Black. Kreacher will swear on the Black family magics on the Lord’s ring to serve.”

Sirius nodded. “I accept your provisions, Kreacher. I will be headed to Gringotts later today to claim my inheritance and the lordship. For now, clean yourself up. You are filthy and a filthy elf cannot clean the house or cook. You will keep yourself cleaned and healthy. I have no use for a sick elf. I understand it has been – difficult – for you since my mother died, and even more so these past few days since Grandfather Arcturus died, but I am here now and I allow you limited access to my tie to the family magic. Limited until the bond is re-bonded and settled.”

The last time, Sirius had kept his magic locked away from the elf and it had driven him more mad then the isolation had. A house elf needed access to structured magic like family magic or the wards at Hogwarts in order to remain sane. If they were totally cut off from these sources of magic, the wild magic inherent in them drove them mad and began to eat them from the inside. It was part of the curse laid upon their race for their actions during the war between Arthur and Mordred. The Lady and Merlin cursed them to be servants and slaves to wizards and witches for their desire to be better than the king she appointed to lead Avalon and using their trickery to ensure his death. It was a house elf, then known as a bauchan, that cast the curse that caused Arthur to stumble, opening him up to Mordred’s killing blow.

The bauchan had joined Mordred because Arthur had placed boundaries and laws upon them, and they wished to be have anarchy. They joined with the bwca and the brownies and assisted Mordred in his quest to kill the rightful King of Magic. They were all cursed and became essentially one race. It was a harsh punishment but the Lady was the only one who could lift it and she never had over the many centuries since Camelot’s fall. It was said that only when Arthur returned and the house elves redeemed themselves in his service, would the curse lift. And so, Arthur was known, even amongst muggles, as The Once and Future King.

This history, known mostly to only the old houses, was why many purebloods treated their house elves so poorly. They wished to please the Lady and prove their loyalty to Her by making the punishment as harsh as could be.

Kreacher bowed low and popped away to carry out his orders. Sirius turned to the portrait of Walburga on the wall and tilted his head and sneered. “I know I said I would never return here but I did say it would only be over your dead body. And you’ve been dead for years, Mother. You were insane for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if you were ever stable in your entire life. I cannot hold you blameless for the torture you put me through from the time I could walk. Granted, the family magic helped drive you insane but for you to be so far gone so young, you had to be dabbling in some seriously black, evil magic. That is one of the things that hurries the cuse in the family magic pool along, you know, the black arts. Typically, the insanity is slow to set in, it takes years, for some decades, and it only manifests as badly as it did in you, if you used ritual black arts. So, your insanity was your own fault and therefore you cannot be excused for what you did to a defenceless child. Crucio was the least of the curses you used on me, before I even got a legal wand. My childhood was hell. So, as your punishment, I won’t destroy your portrait. Does that seem lenient? No, Mother, you will bear witness to the changes I make to this family, to this house, to the world, and you will be unable to have any say, in approval or disapproval, for the rest of the portrait’s life. Once I claim the lord’s ring and my title, I will use the family magic to bind you forever to silence and locked within your frame. For now, the wards will keep you there and only able to speak when no one is present to hear. Enjoy your centuries as a bystander.”

Sirius chuckled evilly and spun on his heel, headed to the kitchens. Upon his arrival, he saw that it was in much better shape than it had been in the future. Kreacher had obviously kept the house up, at least partially, until recently. Sirius supposed Arcturus’ death was the final straw for the elf and he had let his jobs go, only doing what Walburga’s portrait told him to which hadn’t been much. The structured magic within the wards around the house would have kept the old elf from being eaten alive by his wild magic but it wouldn’t have been enough to save his sanity.

Sirius took a seat at the table and summoned parchment, quill and ink and began to make a list of things that he needed to get done, before and after he contacted Harry, and another list of things he knew were coming if he didn’t change them. The first list was distressingly long and the second list was worryingly short. He knew that Harry had faced Voldemort multiple times at Hogwarts but he didn’t know a lot of the details. He would have to wing it to an extent. For an old prankster who used to take bold chances, it was surprisingly not a comfortable thought.

Part Two: Goblins and Young Wizards

In the end, Sirius sat at the table for over an hour mumbling aloud to himself, as he tried to recall everything anyone had said to him or that he had learned about Harry’s life. “Okay, Quidditch, I know he was the youngest player in a century and McGonagall got him his broom and it had something to do with baby Malfoy being a prat and Harry became seeker. And he was sorted into Gryffindor, met Ron on the train, Wormtail was Ron’s pet and had been Percy’s before that. Voldemort came to the school near the end of the year and Harry faced him down and chased him off. Why was he at the school? Someone said something about a chess game? And a troll? Maybe. Hermione said Neville got points for standing up for himself. And Hagrid had a pet that was in the castle that year. That isn’t good. Hagrid’s pets are – no, hopefully the pet was named Killer or Blood Drinker and not Sneezy or Fluffy or Joe. When Hagrid has a badass pet, it has an innocuous name. When it is harmless, the name is usually boring. Of course, with Harry’s luck it will be a chimera or a cerberus or a dragon! Not a kneazle or a crup.

Okay, and Snape hated him and he and Harry got off to a very bad start because Harry looks so much like James and Harry didn’t understand the history. Not until this year. Right, note to self, explain what prats we were in school up front. I would really like to avoid a lecture about bullying and humiliation from my godson. We really were horrible to him. I mean, we didn’t start out that way. We would prank everybody and turn robes purple or hair pink or maybe everyone speak in rhyme for two hours. But at some point, I don’t – I – it all changed and we focused so heavily on Slytherin in general and Snape in particular, I just, I mean, I don’t get it. I can’t – Merlin, my head hurts.

Right, so, uh, make a note about not denigrating any of the houses, I know the hat talked about him being a fit for several. He doesn’t have to be just like James. He can’t be, not really. Alright, I have to stop trying to recapture the past. I think, for Harry’s sake and my own, we should look into a makeover. If he looks different, like himself but not a copy of his dad, people might not expect him to be James reincarnated. Even his glasses were almost exactly like the ones Prongs used to wear.

And I know he got the cloak this year. Somehow. And the map – he said the twins had the map until third year. Right. Okay, what else? Percy was a prefect. Um, parselmouth! Right, Harry can talk to snakes – which is not a black art! Warn him about how people see it but don’t make him ashamed. It is just a talent, it can be used for good or evil like most everything else. He should know he can speak to snakes, he said he set one on his cousin accidentally.

Um, something happened second year and Ginny was involved and Lucius and there was that house elf friend of Harry’s, um Dooby – Dubby – Dingby – Duppy? And the school almost closed because something was happening to students and it was Voldemort’s doing and Harry stopped him again. And the DADA teacher was a fraud who wiped his own memory before the end of the year. I remember the kids talking about running into him at St Mungo’s at Christmas. What a moron!

And third year, that was my fault, and Wormtail and the Dementors. But it won’t be an issue now. I’ll get Wormtail up front. Make a note, research how to trap someone in their form for a while.

Fourth year was the tournament but hopefully I can stop that from happening. I can out Crouch. Senior and Junior. Then Harry won’t be in the bloody thing even if it happens again which I will try to prevent.

And if Harry isn’t in the tournament, he won’t be used in the ritual and Voldemort won’t have a body and the Ministry won’t be demonizing the kid all year.

Okay. Um, that is really pathetic. I never really questioned him about anything. I was so focused on the past, on his father, on Wormtail, on this house, I was so – insane. I wasn’t as far gone as Mother or Bella but I was on the slope. But – not anymore. I feel so much clearer. My head – my thinking – I’m not obsessing, I’m not rushing in and I don’t know why I was so focused. I just – yeah – something about that veil really helped me.

But, I still don’t know enough. I know I need to try to stop Voldemort from getting his body back and Merlin, I just don’t know how. I’ll have to deal with it later. For now, I need to protect this place. After all, Narcissa knows it and others who I don’t trust, as well.

I know where the book with the Fidelius spell is and I’m my own Secret Keeper, since I own this pile. Get this as my safe, unknowable safehouse and then off to claim the lordship as Gringotts.”

Sirius walked down Charing Cross Road towards the Leaky Cauldron. He was dressed in slightly out of date upscale muggle clothing and had used muggle hair dye to become a blond. He had used a hair growing potion and his face was covered in a bushy blond beard and his hair tied back in a long plait down his back. His skin was tinted to a bronzed tone by a muggle product called a “tanner” and he had picked up a pair of nondescript clear glasses, square cut with dark brown frames to hide his eyes.

He didn’t want to take the chance that anyone recognized him but he couldn’t really use magical disguises when going to see the goblins. So, Sirius used the muggle methods which couldn’t be finited or seen through by those that had mage sight.

Sirius strolled into the Leaky Cauldron and no one even gave him more than a passing glance. He went straight to the entrance to Diagon and made his way to the bank, nodding slightly to the guards on the door who nodded briefly back. Goblins weren’t exactly friendly creatures but if you treated them with the respect their positions were due, you would receive the same in return. It had always boggled Sirius’ mind, how many in his family and other snobbish purebloods treated the goblins like dirt beneath their feet.

Goblins, by treaty, controlled the wizarding banks; in Europe they had been granted a monopoly, in other parts of the world they had to compete with gnomes (not the garden variety but actual gnomes) and dwarves, plus a few human-run wizard banks. But in Europe they were often treated as if they had lost the last “rebellion”. Lily had been fond of poking holes in that logic. Why would the European wizards sign a treaty turning over control of their wealth to a race they had beaten? The goblins had actually fought the wizards to a stand still, both sides had been badly hurt, but neither could prevail. The peace treaty had given the goblins control of the banking systems and forced them to live in their own enclaves. Frankly, most goblins preferred to remain with their own kind.

Most wizards were under the impression, in large part thanks to the ghostly Professor Binns at Hogwarts (who hated goblins with a passion, his father and three brothers having been killed during that last rebellion over two hundred years before), that the goblins had been forced to live underground. It was believed that they lived in caves under the banks.

Sirius knew that wasn’t true. There were actually five islands off the coast of various parts of Europe where the European goblins lived. There were small areas (large enough for a few hundred goblins each) under each bank but they were more barracks for the goblin guards and employees. The islands were unplottable and surrounded by goblin war wards that kept humans – whether they were muggles, wizards, half-breeds (like Hagrid), or magical humanoid creatures (like Veela) – ten miles away from the coastlines.

Before beginning Hogwarts, one of Sirius’ greatest enjoyments was reading old history books from the family library. Other than blaming Binns’ idiocy and monotonous tone of voice, Sirius couldn’t pinpoint why that changed. Before he boarded the Express when he was eleven, he had been sure he would end up in Ravenclaw. But somehow, something had changed between the time that he said goodbye to his parents and brother on the platform and the time he had taken a seat on the stool in the Great Hall.

Sirius had never thought of himself as brave. Granted, he had taken punishments for Regulus but that was out of love and logic. He, as a five year old, could handle a dark curse better than Regulus, as a three year old. Sirius had actually been quite sneaky as a child. He had always assumed he would be a good fit for Slytherin, even though he hated his parent’s politics, and the snobs that tended to go to that house during his generation. But then, when the Sorting Hat had been placed on his head, he had blinked a few times and began to internally beg to be put in Gryffindor. The Hat told him that he wasn’t a good fit but he recalled being nearly hysterical in his mind and the Hat had relented and granted his wish. The wish that had come out of nowhere. And the change in his actions, his personality, even his thoughts sometimes, once he became a Lion.

There were times, when he was at home for the summer or break, when he tried to understand what was going on, but those thoughts drifted away within a few minutes, and they never happened at all while at school. But he had been pondering them again, for longer stretches, since he arrived in the past. And his theories were disturbing to him and pointed either to him having a higher-than-Moody level of paranoia or a rot in the world that was different than he had understood just days ago. Or both. But as the muggles say: just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

Sirius resolved to think more on it all later, when he wasn’t busy, as he arrived at the front of the queue and asked the goblin lobby manager to see Kargit, the Black account manager. He was taken to the office section of the bank by a young goblin “runner” and left in a sitting area to wait. He knew it would be a short wait but not an insignificant one since he had no appointment. But the goblin wards in this area would know who he was and so Kargit, too, would know. And thus, he would keep Sirius waiting a bit to show that the wizard’s time was not more important than the goblin’s time. It was a power play that Sirius had been prepared for and understood.

After a wait of exactly seven minutes, the door to Kargit’s office opened and Sirius rose to his feet and entered, accepting the implied invitation. The room was paneled in a dark cherry wood with a lighter pine wood floor. There was a large desk dominating the room with two leather covered chairs before it. Sirius strode to one of the chairs and before taking a seat, turned to Kargit, bowed at a twenty degree angle and spoke, “Kargit, may your accounts grow enough to bury your enemies under the weight of its gold.”

Kargit nodded to him. “And may your enemies be crushed beneath the weight of your magic, Heir Black.” The goblin tilted his head and leaned forward as Sirius sat down. “I would be interested in knowing how this came to be. Your presence in the bank and not in the wizard’s hell that is Azkaban.”

Sirius grinned. “That is a long story and I am not sure about how it happened myself, for some of it.”

The goblin sat back in his chair. “Long stories are the best kind.”

Sirius shrugged. “I’m under a bit of a time constraint on my current business. I’ll share the story with you later, after my business is concluded.”

Kargit nodded. “You are here to take on your grandfather’s title?”

Sirius nodded.

Kargit reached into one of his desk drawers and withdrew a box. It was made of mithril and to those with mage sight, it would glow like a miniature sun. Sirius knew that when his grandfather died, the Lord’s ring had disappeared from his hand and returned to the holding box, to await the Heir.

Kargit slid the box across the table. “You know that if you are not the proper Heir, the magic of the ring will severely punish you, up to the loss of your magic or your life?”

“I know the inheritance magics, Kargit.” Sirius opened the box and gazed at the ring within. It was also made of mithril and set with a green stone that was so dark of a shade that it appeared black in some lights. On the stone’s surface was engraved a circle of runes which read, “Magic, to us be given”. On either side of the stone, etched into the mithril were two domestic cats, one shown as dormant, the other as saliant. They represented the idea of the sleeping power of the family, ready to spring to action in the turn of a moment.

Sirius slid the ring onto his right index finger, expecting nothing more than a brief sensation of testing, maybe a feeling of cold, or heat or a sting or an ache. Various lords had described the moment in this way. Sirius had a vastly different experience, one that answered some of his questions but raised many more, and both the answers and the questions, terrified him.

As the lordship ring slid onto his finger and his core opened to receive the control of the family magic well, the room and those in it faded before Sirius’ eyes. He found himself standing on a vast flat plain, storm clouds roiling overhead, odd colorful lightning arcing throughout them but never heading towards the ground.

As Sirius glanced around he felt an increasing pressure around him and also within him. It felt like someone was sitting on his body and compressing it while at the same time someone inside was pressing hard to get out. His head swam and he gritted his teeth against the dueling sensations. They weren’t painful, which he found strange, but they were uncomfortable and unnerving.

Then the pressures eased and the feeling changed to one of heavy static electricity. Sirius was sure that if glanced in a mirror at that moment, his hair would be standing straight out from his head. He opened the eyes that had closed to endure the previous sensations and found himself staring at a strangely beautiful woman.

It seemed to Sirius that she had incredibly pale skin, though not white, more of a washed out lilac. Her ears were long and came to sharp points and were pierced with many rings. Her hair was long and in many shades of purple and it swirled around her as if in a gale wind though Sirius felt not even a light breeze. Her eyes were slitted like a cat’s or a snake’s and the iris was dark purple. And in the center of her forehead was a jewel or a medallion. It was glowing purple and carved into it was an ouroboros. The jewel was not natural. In her forehead around its placement were deep cracks and scars in her skin, branching out from the center point of contact. One seemed to grow even as he looked at her and was creeping down her face, past her nose and slowing as it began to journey across her left cheek towards her jaw.

The woman smiled at him and her teeth were pointed and sharp, not like a goblin’s but more fanged, though nothing like a vampire. And as Sirius looked at her more, her features started to blur and the colors shift until what he sworn were shades of purple were now obviously greens. And after he blinked, the colors were shades of red, the scars horrifying and gaping, blood oozing from them. As he opened his mouth to ask a question, the red faded and blurred and she once again smiled at him from behind purple lips.

Greetings to thee, Sirius Orion of the House of Black. We have little time in this place and I have come to the realization that my attempt was ill considered. Thou art My Champion but thee lackest the requisite amount of knowledge and power to succeed in the task which I have laid before thee. When thou entered the domain of Avalon, I found a worthy soul for the first time in millennia. For so long, the only ones to use the ancient portal to my Home were twisted and warped from exposure to the Nothingness. I ripped my Gift from them and sent them through a portal to another Realm. I had begun to despair. I cannot use the portal myself. My power would destabilize it and the Realm to which it was connected, destroying all. But I can see, I have watched through the vast millennia as those who call themselves wizards and witches have twisted and abused the Gift which I bestowed upon their ancestors and taught them to utilize. I watched as the ones my Gifted call muggles spread upon the land, uncaring of the destruction their science caused the land that sustained them. My Gift has been fading for hundreds of thy years, returning through the portal to Avalon. Within two generations, the final use of the Gift shall occur. And even I may cease to be. The retuning Gift has been affecting even I. You can see the physical effects. But when thou traversed the portal, I seized my chance. I cast thee on the winds of time to stop the coming end, for even by the time between now and whence thou entered my Realm, the future had become unstoppable. Thou have four of thy years to stave off the death of my Gift and my own death. Changes thou make may push the boundaries further but true change must occur within a decade or the slide will continue, unstoppable.”

Sirius fell to his knees. “My Lady,” he gasped.

“Unfortunately, I did not hesitate when I read thy soul and found thee worthy. I did not explain nor realize that thou didst not know enough to change events in any truly meaningful way. But I chose well. Thou are intelligent and bold. When thou opened thyself to the family magic well, as thee call it, you opened thyself up to Me. I am taking this opportunity to grant thee information which thou shalt need. Use it well, avert the end, bring forth a new age among my Gifted.”

Sirius gaped in astonishment. “I shall do my best, My Lady. How may I serve thee?”

The woman, her face currently shaded blue smiled broadly. “There are five key players in this situation of this moment in time, My Champion. There were but four until I placed thee upon the board. The others are thy godson, his soul bonded, and the two steeped in the twisted, rotted thing that they call my Gift but which is poison to me. They need to be exposed and stopped. Exposed! Then stopped, My Champion. Thy godson and his bonded have the opportunity to usher in the New Age. Thy godson is reborn of one of my true favored. Assist them to find their way to the trueness of my Gift and not the structured, flawed thing it has been turned into.”

Sirius nodded. “If I may, who -”

The green shaded woman shook her head. “I cannot lead thee so closely, My Champion. If thou thinks it through, thou shall determine thine answers. But thy godson was too unforthcoming with thee in the previous timeline. If he remains at the dwelling of the unGifted once he begins to freely use my Gift, he will never be able to realize his full potential and the end will be inevitable. Free him from his prison and make sure he can never return. Claim thy godson as thy blood son, My Champion. His mother was not the only one to power the protection which encpmpasses him. And thy connection to the family pool of thy godson, through thy own bond as godfather and thy acceptance as a young man by the head of that family as a brother to his own son, will allow the protection to be powered by thee.”

“Thou knowest that thy godson will confront his parent’s murderer this year. But thou dost not know how often. The shade of the twisted one shall be bound to another, willingly. Thy godson will spend the year with the shade within arm’s reach. He shall be endangered many times by the pair. And in the end, his soul would be mortally wounded by the death he dealt to the willing helper. Prevent this.”

“If thou dost not change the course of the stream enough, then during thy godson’s second year at the school for Gifted, he shall again encounter the murderer. This time an unwilling possession of one who will be so twisted by the experience that they shall obsessively befriend thy godson and eventually twist his will through poisons to keep him from his bonded. Thee must avert this. If the obsessed is too deep, they must be stopped at any cost.”

“Also, thy must beware the work of the other twisted. He seeks to mold not only thy godson but most of the world to his own imaginings. He will subvert thy godson’s connection to my Gift in many ways, from the wand he is given to the home within the school he is forced into. Poisons, spells, enchantments, all so twisted and rotted, beware!”

“Beware to whom thou giveth thy trust, My Champion. Those truly touched by myself are worthy but thou shalt find few of those amongst the race of Man. I grant thee this boon, to See my Mark upon the righteous, those bound to me. Fulfill thy quest, My Champion, smite those who have poisoned me by attempting to chain and control me. Remove the taint from my Gifted and let Avalon once more be a paradise and the Sanctuary that it was meant to be.”

The Lady stepped forward and grasped Sirius’ shoulders lightly in her hands and leaned her head down until their foreheads touched. She then straightened and took a step back, her hands falling away and her body began to fade.

“Our time draws short, Sirius Orion of the House of Black. Remember, you are My Champion! My hopes and Gifts go with you and mark you as my Own.”

Slowly the vast plain resolved itself into the office once more and the goblins within gaped at Sirius in astonishment.

Part Three: Re-Meetings and Introductions of Many Kinds

Just over twenty-four hours later, Sirius, still in his muggle bought disguise, rode the train from London to the cookie cutter suburb of Little Whining in Surrey. He remembered where Harry lived but he also knew that the wards around his house would alert if a wizard crossed them. The only reason Sirius had not been caught before Harry’s third year was for two reasons: 1. The presence of the Magical Reversal Squad to deal with Harry’s accidental inflating of Marge Dursley and 2. The fact that Harry ran away and Sirius found him away from the house before he boarded the Knight Bus, so Sirius never triggered the wards and if he had brushed them it would have been assumed to be the Ministry workers.

So, Sirius had a plan. He remembered from his wandering in the neighborhood two years ago, five years from now, or three years from now that wouldn’t happen, the location of the local primary school. The plan, which Sirius admitted to himself was fairly anemic, was to follow Harry home from school and figure out a way to approach him on the way.

As he strolled from the train station towards the school, Sirius reflected on his first meeting with Harry before, in the future. In the space of an hour or so, Harry went from thinking Sirius was the reason for the Fidelius failing to agreeing to live with him. Even then, Sirius had felt it was odd. He had offered because James had wanted him to have custody if something happened to he and Lily. But he had assumed Harry wouldn’t go for it, at least not right away. But he had leapt at the idea. While riding Buckbeak to freedom, Sirius recalled thinking about that past summer when he had first seen Harry, dragging his trunk down the street, yelling coming from the house he walked out of. Sirius had come to the realization that Harry’s home life wasn’t good but there had been nothing he could really do once Peter escaped.

But Lady Magic, her words resonated within the Black Lord. There was something about this place, these muggles, if Harry stayed here after starting Hogwarts, it would cripple him, somehow and Magic would die. Sirius still couldn’t quite grasp the implications of all he had been told during his communion but he knew the stories. He knew what the Lady had meant, who Harry and his bonded were. He was going to be caring for and hopefully, adopting, the reborn soul of either the most powerful magic user ever known or the Once and Future King come again. Sirius still couldn’t decide which one he preferred.

On the one hand – Merlin! On the other, preparing his child to be king of all magicals. As if his task wasn’t daunting enough without the added pressure. He still didn’t know enough. The Lady’s cryptic words and clearer instructions were helpful but he didn’t know enough about what Harry had gone through. Sirius had been too caught up in his own head and his own madness that he couldn’t be the godfather his boy needed.

But his trip back in time had healed those fractures. He felt whole as he hadn’t since he was a young child. It was amazing. And it made Sirius question everything he knew. Upon pondering the Lady’s words, one of the Twisted Ones was obviously Voldemort. The Lady’s words about future events for Sirius to prevent had made that clear, but the other – that is where Sirius was struggling. Her hints were blossoming in his mind and he knew who he thought the second Twisted One was but he was having a very difficult time understanding it. But twisting the world to his own vision of it, forcing Harry to somehow get a specific wand, and the clincher – forcing where Harry would live. The only one who had done the last in the future or the now – Albus Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Head Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, all wonderful titles to help him mold the hearts and minds of the magical world with his own vision of things. Hell, between his decades as Headmaster and his decades before that as Deputy and professor, there were only a handful of witches and wizards left in Britain that hadn’t been molded by him in some way.

Sirius wasn’t sure he was able to go up against Dumbledore. Certainly not in any direct manner. If he was the second Twisted One, Sirius would need to use all of the Slytherin traits bred into him and cursed into him as a child along with his pre-Hogwarts Ravenclaw tendencies to win the day. No Gryffindor rashness and rushing in without a plan. Gryffindor bravery, certainly, alongside Ravenclaw intelligence, Hufflepuff tenacity, hard work and diligence, and Slytherin cunning. Sirius really wished he wasn’t so alone in his task. But as of yet, he didn’t know who he could trust. Other than Harry.

And speaking of the bespectacled little fellow, Sirius could see him leaving the schoolyard now. He was wearing a baggy shirt and pants that were rolled up several times at the foot. His shoes were ragged and Sirius thought that he saw tape through holes in them. The boy’s head was down but Harry held his body stiffly, muscles tensed as he walked closer to where Sirius stood. The wizard recognized the stance, his godson was scanning his surroundings and ready to run at a moment’s notice. It was a look he had seen when Harry was at Hogwarts during his third year and when they met up during fourth year in Hogsmeade. He had thought it was a product of worrying about an escaped murderer, dementors, and the tournament. But it obviously was much older learned behavior. More signs pointing to the bad life his godson had led after being left to the muggles.

Sirius waited until Harry passed him and strolled after him, not hurrying or increasing his pace, just staying the same distance as he started. After a few minutes Harry entered a pedestrian tunnel after pausing to peer down it first. The young boy squared his shoulders and began through the empty tunnel. It was the right opportunity, no one could see, or overhear.

Sirius entered the tunnel and called out to the boy fifteen feet ahead of him. “Excuse me.”

Harry faltered in his steps and slowly turned around, his body even tenser than before. Sirius held his hands to his sides and didn’t move closer, acting like he was approaching a wild animal, something that he thought might not actually be too far from the truth, in some ways.

Harry watched him warily, his head cocked slightly to the side, his eyes narrowed behind the black glasses. “Can I help you, sir?”