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Author Notes:

Warning: The beginning of this chapter includes a slash sex scene.

By lunch-time, Remus had sent a note back by owl with very few words: S. warned, will notify A. Plans imminent. R. It was a tacit agreement to the plan, but Harry could read his disapproval between the lines.

Remus waited for Sirius to finish his Friday-evening tutoring session and then they came home together, bringing an abundance of hot food from the Hogwarts kitchens with them to celebrate the end of the school term and the commencement of the winter holiday. They ate well and happily, all things considered; Remus had gone into Hogsmeade and had a haircut while waiting for Sirius, and Tonks teased him about his short, tidy new hair while Sirius regaled them with stories of students who'd come to see him during the week. Sirius and Harry played knut-ante Exploding Snap after dinner and Remus read on the sofa. Tonks, it became apparent, did her best to seduce him away from his book.

When Remus finally gave in and made his excuses for the night, Harry and Sirius finished playing out their hand, tidied away the cards, and glanced at each other before going up the stairs.

Harry walked to his dresser, shedding his shirt as he went; Sirius flopped onto the bed, tilting his head back to watch him upside-down, a slight grin curving his lips.

"Tonks couldn't have done me more of a favour if I'd asked and paid her," he said.

"You wanted Remus out of your hair?" Harry asked, unbuckling his belt.

"I wanted them both otherwise engaged," Sirius said, rolling over. He stretched out one arm and hooked it in the back of Harry's trousers, pulling him away from the dresser. "So that we could be otherwise engaged as well."

Harry curled the fingers of his right hand in Sirius' hair, affectionately.

"I thought I might take you up on that offer you made on my birthday," Sirius said. Harry turned the caress into a headlock and tumbled onto the bed, laughing and wrestling with him until they ended up breathless and the movements of their legs and hips began to resemble wrestling less and less. Finally Sirius came out on top, holding Harry's wrists to the bed.

"I win," he said with a grin. Harry gazed up at him, solemnly.

"You know what that means," he replied.

Sirius felt a sudden rush of -- not just lust, he'd been perfectly familiar with lust for several minutes now. Deeper want. He felt possessive, pleased that it was Harry. Warmed by the idea that out of everyone Harry could have chosen -- the famous Harry Potter who had everyone from Colin Creevey to Ginny Weasley for the asking -- he had chosen Sirius. Was lying beneath him now, offering...

Sirius paused.

"You know," he said thoughtfully, bending low to whisper in Harry's ear, "I'm not sure I do know what it means when I win. You could tell me. Or better yet..."

He rolled off of Harry and slid to his side of the bed, opening the pack he'd set there. Along with a change of clothes and his toothbrush, he'd packed the little leather bauble that Harry had given him for his birthday.

" can explain this," he said, holding it up. Harry's eyes gleamed. "Imagine the story this would make -- Harry Potter, kinky boy wizard..."

"You haven't tried it on yet, have you?" Harry asked. Sirius shook his head. "Let me put it on you, then."

Sirius offered it to him, enjoying the way the thin strap looked in Harry's hands; soft, flexible black leather with heavy brass fittings, just small enough to be discreetly hidden by his shirt-collar. Harry held the dog-collar in one hand and unbuttoned Sirius' shirt in the other, then slipped the leather around his neck. It was oddly warm.

Harry slid the end through the brass buckle and tightened it, just shy of snug, against Sirius' throat.

"So that when you are Padfoot," Harry said, "People will know you belong to someone."

"What about the rest of the time?"

Harry tucked the end into its loop. "Then too."

The other boy dropped his hand back down to Sirius' shirt-buttons, undoing them slowly. Sirius closed his eyes and tilted his head back until Harry kissed the hollow of his collarbone and slid his hands under the shirt, pulling it out from its neat tucks.

Sirius was as impatient as any seventeen-year-old, a good deal more impatient than many, but soon -- perhaps even tomorrow -- he was going to voluntarily walk into the jaws of death and hope that Harry could save him. Trust that Harry could save him. It didn't weigh on his mind, it was not real enough for that, but it made him conscious of every touch, every casual brush of fingertips as they undressed each other. It was as real as the collar around his throat, and in a way they meant the same thing.

Harry leaned back on the bed and Sirius settled his hips against the other boy's, falling into an easy rhythm as they moved against each other, but after a few minutes Harry crooked his fingers in the collar and moaned "Stop, please..."

Sirius froze. "What -- what did I -- "

"No," Harry said, breathing hard. "I mean..."

He tilted his head back on the pillow, exposing his thin, pale throat, and Sirius sucked in a sudden breath.

"I want you," Harry murmured, drawing his legs up until his knees clenched on either side of Sirius' ribcage. "Like in the book..."

Sirius laughed, low and deep and more confident than he felt. He slid one palm down Harry's thigh and whispered a spell that made Harry squirm and gasp. He hesitated then, but Harry begged please and it's all right and please, Sirius....

They were both young and flexible, but Sirius couldn't quite reach Harry's lips to kiss him, not like this; instead he pulled Harry's hand up, the one with the scar that read I must not tell lies, and kissed each line.


Afterward, sweat-damp and breathing heavy, Harry rubbed his thumb over the brass fittings, then up over Sirius' chin and mouth. Sirius smiled against the pressure on his lips.

"My clever Sirius," he said quietly. "Is it egotistical to think you and I are going to save the world together?"

"That's healthy ego," Sirius said.

"I'm asking the wrong man," Harry moaned, burying his face in Sirius' neck.

"Egotistical it is not," Sirius said, stroking his hair. "Overly romantic, maybe."

"Well, maybe that's allowed," Harry said. He took a breath and let it out slowly; his body was limp against Sirius', happily warm and reassuring. "You know...when I was really little, I used to dream about the day I'd get to leave the Dursleys -- I thought I'd do all right in school, I always have done, and I'd go to some trade school or a local college. Or be a fireman or a policeman. I really did plan it at night, after they went to bed, the day I'd leave them behind."

"Well, you have now."

Harry nodded. "When I was...when I was a first-year all I wanted was to be a seventh-year and know everything and everyone, and have everyone know me, not some version of me they'd read in a history book." He laughed a little. "And two years ago I had an actual job picked out and everything. Well, sort of. I was going to be an Auror. I'd only drifted into it, really, but it was something anyway. And at the same time..."

He paused.

"At the same time, from that first time I saw Voldemort's face, I didn't think I'd live to see eighteen."

Sirius tightened his hand on the back of Harry's head. "Don't say that."

"It's all right, Sirius. I do now. For the first time, like I told you. I see a future that isn't just a headstone." He kissed Sirius' throat. "What about you? You must have had plans, before. You have them now, don't you?"

Sirius shook his head. "From what I'm told of who I became -- before Azkaban -- it's pretty obvious I never had a plan. I knew I'd have Uncle Alphard's money when he died, and I got by all right on the odd ten Galleons he'd send me on the sly. I wasn't planning to be anything in particular. Now..."

He took a deep breath. "Harry, I've arranged to take my NEWTs in the spring. I'm going to apply to St. Mungo's for a Healer's apprenticeship -- Augustus Pye is helping me."

"A Healer?" Harry asked, and Sirius braced himself for the scorn and amusement he knew would follow. When he opened his eyes, however, Harry was studying his face, not a trace of humour in his expression.

"That's grand, Sirius," he said. "Because of Remus, yeah?"

"Yeah. And I'm good at it, too. I don't want to spend my life destroying things, Harry. I want to spend my life fixing things, and -- " Sirius actually stammered. " -- and I didn't learn that until I came here, and I might never have learned it -- I know I didn't learn it in my other lifetime."

Harry closed his eyes, slowly, then opened them again.

"I wonder how you went into that map," he whispered. "It was the best day's work you and I and Remus ever did."

Sirius smiled and curled close to Harry, breathing slow and deep until he fell asleep with the smell of him, of them, filling his whole world.


The wand-core lay in a long wooden box on Remus' writing desk at Fourteen Back, and the box shielded it enough that Remus wasn't constantly aware of its presence. Simply being in the same room with silver didn't really bother him; it was just that the closer it got, the louder the hum in his ears and the pressure in the back of his head became. It wasn't unbearable, generally speaking, until it was only a foot or two away. Any closer and the air became thick and viscous, making it difficult to breathe; if he touched it, his skin blistered and burned.

Remus himself sat on the edge of the bed, that Saturday morning, and turned a handful of coins over and over in his palms. It was his change from yesterday, from the lunch with Snape to discuss the setting of the trap. Snape had taken some handling, but in the end he'd agreed to notify Arcadia and set up a few safeguards of his own. So long as Lupin brought reinforcements, they would be fine; if Lupin never showed, he was bloody well going to abandon the whelp to his fate. Remus had reluctantly agreed.

"There's something else," he'd said, as Snape picked at the food he'd been eating. "In the memory you gave me, the Dark Lord looked...different."

"More human."


Snape had leaned back, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Even in Polyjuice disguise (shorter, pale-haired, younger) he looked tired.

"He believes the body which was given to him two years ago has begun to acclimate itself to the human world; I think perhaps he believes part of it is a natural glamour. I've encouraged this belief. Lately, however, he has been making...remarks about going in search of things he has lost, and I do not think we would have kept up the charade of the horcruxes much longer. How will you find the meeting-place? It's often different."

"Leave that to us," Remus had said.

"Yes -- Potter's not likely to let him out of his sight for long, is he?"

Remus had ignored the jab and they'd spoken of one or two other things before leaving; now he sat on the edge of the bed and contemplated the means by which he would ensure that Sirius could be found.

Like most phoenixes, Glastonbury was fairly vain; at the moment he was preening himself in the sunlight streaming through the window from Bowman's garden, perched on Remus' desk chair. The orange crest on his head was perfectly groomed, bobbing slightly as he used his beak to smooth his pinfeathers. Remus set down the coins and picked up the other object on his desk -- the Black family signet ring he'd asked Sirius to loan him the day before.

Sirius wore it often when he wasn't at school; Remus didn't know why and didn't bother asking, because he doubted Sirius himself knew why. He'd hated his family and gladly would have sent them all to hell, but in this strange new place and time, perhaps it was...well, at least a reminder of the past, a steadying symbol. Something he could still hate.

Or maybe he wore it because he was the oldest male heir to the family, and even Sirius couldn't escape the pull of blood.

"Glastonbury," Remus said quietly, not wanting to wake Tonks, who was asleep on the other side of the bed. Glastonbury looked up at him, curiously. Remus held up the ring. "See it?"

Glastonbury's eyes tracked it as he moved it back and forth, up and down. Finally, the bird stretched out his neck and clicked his beak around the band, stopping its movement. Remus pulled it out of his grasp, gently.

"I need you to help me," Remus continued softly. "Wherever this ring goes, I want you to know it. Can you find the ring?"

The phoenix looked vaguely insulted.

"Like carrying the post. If I ask you to find this ring, can you find it?" Remus asked. Glastonbury peeped softly. "I'm going to go away. You come find me with the ring, okay? Can you do that?"

He walked into the kitchen, Glastonbury following him, and held up the ring so the bird could see it. After making sure his bedroom door was closed, he Apparated away, ending up in a field outside of town. After a few seconds, there was a pop as Glastonbury appeared.

"Good bird!" Remus said, grinning. He disappeared again, promptly, aiming for the Apparation alcove of the Leaky Cauldron; Glastonbury followed regardless.

The third time he disappeared, he returned to Bowman's garden and dropped the ring, quickly Apparating away. When Glastonbury didn't appear in five minutes' time, he Apparated back.

Glastonbury sat in the grass, one clawed foot hooked over the ring, looking annoyed.

"You will do nicely," Remus said softly. "There's a splendid bird. Now, let's see if you can do something a little more complicated..."


Sirius didn't always return to Hogwarts on Sunday morning, but he'd done it often enough that it would go more or less unnoticed by anyone paying close attention to his schedule. He had wanted to return on Saturday night, once Glastonbury had proved himself fully trained, but that might have tipped their hand.

Tonks went with him, hidden under Harry's invisibility cloak; after all, they'd have to know when he was taken if they were going to find him once he had been. Only the most trustworthy Order members were allowed to take shifts on watch -- Tonks first, of course; Harry had volunteered, but everyone knew that was a bad idea. Tonks was to be followed by Bill Weasley instead, solid and dependable and not Harry's first pick at all, and then Moody. In the meantime Remus had to find someone to follow Moody. If times got desperate, they could always use Hermione or Ron, but someone had to be with Sirius at all times.

Sirius didn't want to break habit, so he didn't dawdle down to Hogsmeade until it was time to meet Remus there for lunch. A very strained lunch, silent and conscious of the invisible presence of Tonks next to them. Harry was not allowed to come, for reasons which were obvious but still irritating. Harry, instead, stayed at Fourteen Back and fretted.

Remus had not, it appeared, even slept since Friday night; he had sent messages to every Order member to be ready to assemble at a moment's notice at Grimmauld Place, and to come prepared to fight. The twins had leaked word down to Ginny and Colin, who had sent word that Dumbledore's Army was ready to do their part. Remus could not bring himself to agree to call upon them, but he knew the twins would anyway. He suspected the old coins Hermione had used to summon the DA had been turned into portkeys while his back was turned.

"They're only children, Tonks," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets as they walked along the ridge of hill overlooking Hogsmeade. They'd successfully transferred the invisibility cloak to Bill Weasley and sent him off to follow Sirius around Hogsmeade until dinner, which was now fast approaching. They hadn't spoken much since, but he felt he had to say something or his nerves would fail him completely.

"So were you," she reminded him. "You weren't nineteen yet when you signed on."

"Some of them aren't sixteen yet."

"My dad always says revolutions are won by the young."

He sighed. "This isn't a revolution. If anything, it's the reverse. We're not fighting for a new world, extended lease on the old one."

"Oh?" she asked, smiling sideways at him. "Is that why that Arcadia girl is learning to read? And this attempt to defeat people who are against Muggle-born witches and wizards, that's not at all revolutionary."

"That's not how things change," he replied. "You don't make ordinary people believe differently than they have by killing the people who voice the opinions they're afraid to. Even if I was in favour of killing people in general, which I'm not."

"I know," she said, linking her arm in his. "You'd be a vegetarian if you liked vegetables more."

"I think," he said, "that what we're really struggling for is a world where it's possible to change. Without all the old fear, and without the hysteria it induces. No more kangaroo courts this time. No more imprisonment without trial. Not if I had my way, at any rate. The problem is..." he sighed, bowing his head and scuffing his shoes on the frosty ground as they walked. "The problem last time was that we had no hero. There was no-one to stand up and say I won and I won't stand for you ruining my victory with your stupid little infighting. Harry was a baby, and nobody else survived."

"But Harry's a man now."

"Yes. If he survives this time round," Remus said reservedly. "But that's not the point, really."

"Then what is?"

"That killing Voldemort takes away only the immediate threat, if it even does that," he replied. "I have no illusions that we have to kill him; he's much too powerful to be allowed to live. But killing him doesn't make your average person any less bigoted or ignorant. If he dies, our problems aren't -- well, magically solved. The world that made Tom Riddle into what he is hasn't changed all that much."

Tonks kissed his cheek. "Remus, you're beginning to sound like a politician. And also a terrible pessimist."

"I've always sounded like a terrible pessimist. You're just beginning to realise your utterly bad taste in men."

"Well, if you didn't have any flaws, I wouldn't have anything to complain to my girl friends about."

He smiled a little. "I'll try to cultivate a few annoying habits."

"Do. Pessimism isn't going to last nearly as long as I'd like."

"Oh yes? How long do you intend to complain about my failings, pray?"

"I thought the next hundred years, give or take."

He was silent for so long that she glanced at his face, almost worried about what she would find there. He was still smiling.

"I really shouldn't be quite so happy," he murmured.

"That's just your pessimism talking," she replied. She tugged on his arm and turned him around so that they both gazed down on the glowing streetlamps of Hogsmeade and, beyond it, Hogwarts rising like a crag out of the valley.

"Without the Dark Lord, we can work on the rest," she said. "You aren't wrong; his end won't solve all our problems. Still, it'll give people hope."

"All things are changing and all things will change And death, if meaningless, will yet still bring Fresh fodder for the yearly-dying grain," Remus murmured.

"Graveworthy?" Tonks asked with a smile.

"He's on my mind a lot, recently," Remus answered. "I suppose it shows."

"A little."

"Fine girls and boys, he called us. He knew what was going to happen, I think. Indeed, he must have, or Shop Gods would have been a very different book. He knew about war." Remus shook his head. "And he loved Sirius quite fiercely. I think he would have laughed himself stupid over what's happened since August."

Tonks opened her mouth to answer, but suddenly Remus flinched; he reached into his breast pocket and took out a coin that buzzed furiously between his fingers. They both stared at it.

"Bill will be looking for us -- they've taken Sirius," Remus said. "Go rouse the Order -- "

" -- Grimmauld Place -- "

" -- I'll find Bill and fetch Glastonbury."

Tonks disappeared with a loud crack; Remus closed his eyes and Apparated directly into the middle of Hogsmeade's High Street. Bill came pelting up it, Harry's cloak bundled under one arm.

"I don't think she hurt him," he gasped. "He went quietly. Bloody hell, Lupin, she's mad as a hatter."

"Not news," Remus said. "Go straight to Grimmauld Place and start briefing everyone there. I'll be along soon."

"Right," Bill said, looking pale. Remus Disapparated, heading for Bowman's garden, with a silent prayer to Merlin or the spirit of Ellis Graveworthy to watch over the boy until they arrived.


There had been a moment of bright clarity and then the fall of darkness like a curtain, blotting out the pre-dusk sky and the shops and people. What Sirius had noticed more than the darkness, actually, was the sudden cessation of noise, as if the world had been cut off.

Then there was Bellatrix, standing before him, smiling a little.

"Hello, nephew," she'd said, while Sirius wondered frantically if he was still visible to Bill -- or to anyone else, for that matter. He'd never encountered this spell; it seemed to turn the world into shadows. "Cousin, more properly. What a pretty little toy you are."

"Who are you?" he'd asked, which he thought showed remarkable presence of mind on his part while the rest of his instincts screamed that he ought to be attacking this monstrous perversion of humanity.

"Why, I'm Auntie Bella," she said, coming forward to stand toe-to-toe with him. To his surprise, she was shorter than he was. Bellatrix had always loomed in his mind like a gorgon; she'd still been taller than him when she left school and he left the family, and he hadn't seen her since -- not from closer than a few hundred feet, at any rate. She was quite small, in fact, compared to him. "I thought we might have a little chat. What do you say?"

She'd grabbed him, then, one hand on his wrist and the other, gloved, holding up a small jade snake -- a portkey that she pressed to the skin of his bare arm. His stomach lurched, breath was snatched, world began to spin and tilt unpleasantly and then he was tumbling through the air.

When he landed on his feet, hard, the sound was almost metallic -- his boots rang deep on hard stone and he felt the jolt up through his legs. With his thumb, he checked his finger for the Black signet ring; still there. It was an oddly warm comfort, given what it had been to him in the past; he had sworn, once, that he would never wear it. It was a symbol of things that he hated, but in this time and place it was also a comfort. It was a promise -- that Harry would come for him, that Moony would come for him. His tie to the world outside the dim and dismal chamber he found himself in.

He could see enough, and recalled enough from their hunt for the Hufflepuff goblet, to know that this was a Muggle church, long-abandoned. Most of the windows were broken and had been patched over with opaque charms that shimmered like pearl, rippling a little in the wind from outside. There was only one source of light, and that was a gently rotating globe of green light high above the stage at the front, a few steps above the long aisle he stood in.

No, not true; there was a fire as well, burning off to one side, and the snake Nagini was curled close to it, her thick coils moving only slightly in the flickering light.

Even as he saw all this he heard a whispered charm, and two thick rings grew out of the flagstones beneath his boots, chains following behind him. They circled him like snakes before they clamped around his wrists, anchoring him just behind the first row of benches, facing the stage. In the shadows along the walls he saw people in white robes and hoods, wearing smooth white masks -- Death Eaters. Twisting his head, he could see that others sat on the benches behind him. Bellatrix had vanished, taking up her position somewhere within the mass of uniform blank faces.

A sigh rippled through the crowd and Sirius turned back in time to see two men enter from some side door and walk across the stage, neither wearing masks. One was the pale, clever-faced boy, Draco Malfoy; he looked frailer in person than he had in Snape's memory. His eyes were strange. His mask hung from his belt, carelessly.

The second was --

Well, he was balding and dressed in greasy robes that had seen better days; one of his hands shimmered oddly in the light. Still, the thin fair hair and round, not terribly intelligent face were all too familiar under that terrible obsequious grin.

Sirius reflected that Remus, even grey-haired and careworn as he was, had aged much more gracefully than Peter. It was still half-alien to him to think of little Pettigrew, little Wormtail, as a villain; he wasn't cut out for the role at all. Peter was the one you protected, because he was a mate of sorts and only you and James were allowed to pick on him.

He set his jaw. Peter had set Voldemort on James. Peter would cheerfully have killed Harry, given half the chance.

Peter was bowing. Not to him; in the direction of the side-door he'd come through.

Sirius watched as a third man walked onto the stage and halted between the other two, hands clasped in front of him, a slight smile on his lips. He recognised him all too well from Snape's memory. The slightly blurred features, the odd nose, the reddish glint in his eyes; from this distance his hair didn't look brown so much as the unhealthy yellow of a diseased man's.

"Mr. Black. Very kind of you to join us," Voldemort said. Peter giggled nervously. Sirius glared hatefully at him. "I apologise for any rough treatment you may have encountered, but in this day and age one can't be too careful, can one?"

Sirius frowned. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Arcadia's face glowing in the shadows; she wasn't masked, and neither were those clustered around her.

"I doubt very much that you wonder why you're here, but I assure have quite the wrong idea about my motives," Voldemort continued. "No doubt you know who I am -- "

"Tom Riddle that was," Sirius said loudly. The other man didn't miss a beat; with a flick of his wand he filled Sirius' world with pain.

Sirius had known what Crucio was, of course, but he hadn't known -- so much pain --

When he'd managed to stop his scream, Voldemort continued.

"I prefer Lord Voldemort," he replied. "I would advise you, for your own sake, not to interrupt me, Black."

Sirius discovered that he was on his knees. He slowly climbed to his feet again. The stone chains that held his wrists rattled squeakingly against each other.

"I am told that you claim to be a descendant of the Black clan, Sirius Black by name, and since we know -- don't we -- that he is dead, one must assume you are some, shall we say, error in judgement on his part." Voldemort stepped down into the aisle. "He resembles his father, does he not, Wormtail?"

"Yes, my lord," Peter answered.

"Surely you must be proud of your father; intelligent, talented...foolish. You would not wear that if you weren't," Voldemort added, pointing to his hand. For the first time, Draco looked interested in the proceedings; he gazed covetously at the Black ring.

"Does this have a point?" Sirius asked. Voldemort smiled.

"I will forgive that, because it does," he said. "You're a powerful wizard, young man. Many members of your family are already proud servants of our cause."

Sirius stared at him . The retort that true Blacks served no man died halfway to his lips because he wasn't sure it was possible that Voldemort meant --

"Aren't you tired of being on the losing end of a losing war?" Voldemort asked, bending to whisper in his ear. "Join me and be with your true family. Join me and live forever. I will raise up your house to its former glory and you will have power beyond your wildest adolescent dreams."

He leaned back and smiled at Sirius, who was far too stunned to react.

"Redeem the mistakes of your father and uncle. Join me, Sirius Black."


Author's Note:   While canonically no colour is stated for Death Eater robes, I have chosen to use white as opposed to the fanon black, in order to make astronger link between the Death Eaters and organisations such as the KKK. This is an intentional act inasmuch as I always envisioned them in white while reading the books.

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