Beta'd by the brilliant Insane Scriptist.
I am not JK Rowling and do not own the Harry Potter franchise, much as I would like to be that rich.
Of secrets revealed
Sirius had been looking for Peter when he felt his adopted brother die; that his old school friend wasn't in the pre-arranged hiding-place then abruptly made an awful kind of sense and the disgraced Black dashed out to his motorbike and took to the air. He could have apparated to Godric's Hollow but that would have meant leaving the bike and its numerous enhancements behind, which would be dumb considering the number of wards Lily had helped him add to it since Dorry-Rose was born. If James was dead then Sirius was already too late and all he could do was hope that Lily's Blood Ward on the crib would hold up.
He was still a good way away when a flash on the horizon filled him with dread; the sluggish roar that followed it a minute later had him leaning forward and pushing the Speed Charms to their limits until the cottage came into view.
It was trashed: half the ceiling had been blown off along with a good chunk off wall. Sirius almost fell off the bike in his hurry to get inside the building when he realised that the hole corresponded with the nursery. Charging through the destroyed front door Sirius spared a moment to take in his brother's body slumped in the hall, slain by the killing curse, before hurrying upstairs. The nursery door was half off its hinges and mostly missing, there was splintered wood all over the floor and Lily's body was slumped in front of the cot. My fault, Sirius mourned, cursing himself for ever having trusted Pettigrew.
The miraculously semi-intact cot looked like parts of it had spontaneously combusted and had rune-shaped burns gouged deeply into its remaining fabric. Sirius took in the location of the cot compared to the explosive damage done to the building and realised that it was firmly at the epicentre. Had the runes worked?
There was a soft whimper as the blankets shifted. "Mama?"
Sirius almost apparated to the cot, leaning over the edge to scoop up his precious, miraculously alive baby girl and clutch her close as he tried not to cry in relief. "Dorry-Rose, Papa's here," he crooned, wrapping the cot blanket around her more snugly to protect her from the bitter autumn air. The cot was completely burned out but had done what it had been supposed to, which was protect Dorry-Rose. The puffy focus rune now burned into her forehead suggested that the Blood Ward had done something unexpected –which Lily had warned them might happen as Blood Wards were too strong to be stable when anchored in wood– but as this had been a strictly protective ward Siruis wasn't too worried about it. He could investigate it later, once his baby girl was safe. The cot collapsed completely into ash and splinters as soon as Dorry-Rose was out of it, confirming Sirius' suspicions that the Ward had been the only thing holding it together.
"Papa, Mama?" Dorry-Rose mumbled, snuggling closer as Sirius tucked her inside his coat.
"Mama's gone baby girl," Sirius said, voice hitching. "Dada's gone too, so be good for your Papa please?"
"No! No, Papa is staying with his Dorry," Sirius said firmly, "but Papa needs to find your blankets and Mama's travel bag." Lily had an emergency grab bag with all the required baby things that she kept by the Floo and she was unlikely to have unpacked it just yet. All the previous shuffling around Potter properties at odd times had taught them all that a baby bag was a good thing to keep at hand because even with magic settling in took time and you never knew when you might be attacked and have to leave in a hurry. Being without nappies had only happened once but it had been one time too many! Quickly casting a monitoring ward around the ruined property he set off to find what few important things were actually in the house: Lily's latest research notebooks, James' keys, both their wands, the photo albums and all of Dorry-Rose's toys and clothing. It took less than ten minutes to pack it all up in the motorbike saddlebags and change his daughter into clothes more suited to late night air travel. Yes, he desperately wanted to hunt down Peter and blast him into a hundred screaming pieces but that was partly his recklessness talking. The potion instilling caution in his was however letting his good sense make itself heard too and that was the advice he was following. His daughter came first.
"Sirius?" Sirius straightened up from tying down the saddlebags and turned quickly, pointing his wand at the looming shadow just outside the reach of his temporary ward then relaxed slightly. It was Hagrid.
"Hagrid? What are you doing here?" he asked, casually unravelling the ward and sitting down on the bike saddle.
"Dumbledore sent me," the massive man said, taking in the destroyed cottage, "'e said somethin' was wrong. Lily and James-"
"Dead; Voldemort got them," Sirius said grimly, glad that Dorry-Rose was asleep in her carrier under his coat and invisible to the casual observer due to expansion charms on the coat lining. Sirius was fond of the gamekeeper, but the man couldn't keep a secret to save his life –or anyone else's– and his daughter had to stay a secret. Her young and fragile life depended on it. Peter's betrayal had seriously shaken his trust in the Order so no matter how nice the half-giant was, he didn't get to know.
"Both of em? No!" The half-giant looked shattered. "An' little Rose?"
Sirius twitched. "Rose?"
Hagrid looked puzzled. "Dumbledore tol' me to take 'er. Said 'e's got somewhere safe set up for 'er. Where is she?"
Sirius made a snap decision. Peter had just betrayed them and Dumbledore already had a contingency plan for his daughter? Just his daughter? Nothing about James or Lily, whose bodies were still cooling behind him? That was fishy. Too fishy. James had told him about the prophecy and they'd agreed it was hogwash, but it sounded like Dumbledore believed it. So Sirius had to protect his daughter from the meddling old man as well as possibly from Voldemort, because if his Dark upbringing had taught him anything it was that nothing good ever came of pandering to prophecies.
"There is no Rose Potter," Sirius said harshly, kicking the motorbike into life and taking off before Hagrid could stop him. His own flat was a wreck, his planned hidey-hole was out of the question as he'd told Peter about it in case the rat needed somewhere to go, so all that was left was his relatives. Hopefully his grandfather Arcturus hadn't actually disowned him when his damned mother blasted him off the tapestry in the town house…
As it happened Sirius had not been disowned, since he was able to land his motorbike on the cobbled courtyard at the back of Black Manor by the stable block without incident. Wheeling the bike into an empty stall he unhooked the saddlebags, slung them over his shoulder and trudged across the yard to the kitchen doors. The house-elves would be up at least, even at this hour of the night. He raised a hand to knock but the door was opened before he could actually touch the wood. Blinking, Sirius looked down into the huge-eyed, bat-eared and wrinkled face of Tansy, who was wearing a neat tea towel with the Black crest on it and giving him The Look that James' mother had always worn when he missed something obvious.
"Ah, hello Tansy?" He said sheepishly. He hadn't seen the elf since he was thirteen but she ran his grandfather's kitchens with efficiency and style.
"Tansy has been expecting master Sirius for several years now," the house-elf said sternly, "but Tansy supposes that late is better than not at all."
"Sorry Tansy; I didn't know if I was welcome or not," Sirius apologised.
Tansy sniffed. "Master Sirius is last heir of Master Black! Of course master Sirius is welcome!"
Sirius felt Dory-Rose stir in her carrier under his coat and realised she probably needed changing. "Tansy?"
"Yes Master Sirius?"
"Can I come in? My daughter probably needs changing."
Sirius was not entirely sure what happened after he said that, but a few minutes later he was sitting at the kitchen table eating omelette while Tansy cooed over 'little mistress Dorry' and another much younger female elf –Mimsy– carted off Sirius' bags while promising to 'sort out rooms for the young master and the little mistress!' Sirius just let it happen: his grandfather's elves had always been kind to him, unlike his mother's disgusting little sycophant Kreacher.
"Yes master Sirius?"
"Is Grandfather here?"
"Master Black is asleep upstairs, but Tansy can wake him if it is urgent," the house-elf said thoughtfully.
"It isn't urgent Tansy, not really, but do you think Dorry and I can stay here for a while? Dorry's mother was murdered earlier tonight and this was the safest place I could think of."
Tansy's eyes widened. "Master Sirius' lady-love is dead? Tansy is sorry!"
Sirius tried to smile but couldn't quite manage it, even at the idea of James' wife Lily being his, Sirius', lady-love. She'd been more like his sister. "It wasn't your fault Tansy. I know whose fault it is though and as soon as I've talked to Grandfather and made sure everything is set up for Dorry I'm going to hunt him down and make him pay." He took a deep, steadying breath. "James Potter is dead too."
"Tansy is sad to hear that master Sirius' friend is dead," the house-elf said tactfully. "Was master Sirius' friend missy Dorea's son?" Tansy was old enough to have been around before James' parents had married, Sirius realised, and Dorea Black had been Grandfather Arcturus' cousin.
"Yes, he was," Sirius managed. "That's why we named my daughter after her. Dorea Rosamund Black." Because the 'Potter' bit was a secret he'd not be sharing until he was sure he could trust his grandfather.
Then Mimsy came back into the kitchen to tell them that the rooms were ready, his grandfather's primary house-elf Lurcher in tow. The male elf then hustled Sirius and Dorry off upstairs, where the room he'd always stayed in as a child had been cleaned and aired and a crib placed by the dresser. Sirius cautiously examined the crib, determined it was safe so long as the child inside really was a Black then lowered his sleeping daughter into it. Nothing happened, so he carefully activated the crib's security and monitoring runes then stripped off, quickly washed in the connected bathroom and fell into bed. Hopefully Dorry would sleep in a little after the night she'd had.
Dorry did not, unfortunately, sleep in. Instead she followed her usual routine of waking at 6:15 precisely to demand food. Sirius staggered out of bed for just long enough to get his daughter out of the cradle and hand her over to Mimsy, then fell back into bed and slept until nine, when Lurcher woke him.
"Master Black is calling you to breakfast, master Sirius," the aging elf said firmly, flipping back Sirius' bedcovers with a snap of the fingers and yanking the curtains wide to let in the pale morning sun. Sirius groaned, but dutifully staggered through the shower and into the formal clothes Lurcher had laid out. Grandfather Arcturus was a crotchety old man but he was no pureblood supremacist fanatic and while strict, he could be kind. After dressing Sirius headed for the door, then turned around and dug through the saddlebag leaning against the dressing table for a vial of Caution Concoction. He knew that if he hadn't been drinking it regularly he'd have been hunting Peter even now, baby in tow no matter how bad that would have been for her. He noticed that he didn't have many left; he and James had intended to brew more tomorrow.
That memory was abruptly too much for Sirius and he collapsed to the carpet, sobbing bitterly. My brother and his wife are dead and it's all my fault. If only I hadn't tried to be clever! I should have been secret keeper; it wasn't going to be for long. Now my daughter is motherless and I have to raise her alone. My best friend is dead, Peter betrayed us and Remus is who-knows where.
"Master Sirius?" Lurcher was back, looking apologetic but resolute. The house-elf offered him a hanky, which Sirius accepted to blow his nose with as he tried to compose himself. He needed to be able to explain things concisely and coherently to his grandfather, the Lord Black, for little Dorry's sake. The Caution Concoction made him better at thinking things through, so he quickly downed the potion and set the empty vial aside.
Taking a moment to splash his face with cold water, Sirius then followed Lurcher downstairs to the Breakfast Room, where Arcturus Black was sitting in a leather armchair sipping a cup of tea and reading the Daily Prophet. At the small table facing him was a place set for Sirius with toast, porridge, bacon and scrambled egg, all under stasis charms to keep them fresh and hot. Dorry was sat on the floor a little to one side, dressed in an old-fashioned romper suit and pinafore and playing with a battered toy hippogriff that seemed familiar. She looked up as soon as Sirius entered the room and waved the stuffed animal at him.
"Papa! Hifi!" She looked so utterly delighted that Sirius wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. He did manage to smile though.
"That's a very fine hippogriff you have there, baby girl. Who gave it to you?"
The one-year-old beamed. "Gapa." She then squealed, waving the toy around for a few moments before hugging it. Sirius smiled helplessly at his daughter's antics and sat down to eat breakfast. He wasn't hungry, but he wasn't about to offend Tansy by refusing to eat her cooking.
He'd managed to eat half the scrambled egg, two rashers of bacon and one slice of toast and marmalade when Dorry-Rose's giggling and his grandfather's sharp intake of breath made him look up. The hippogriff toy was floating in the air, bouncing in time with Dorry-Rose's delighted wriggling. Sirius glanced at his grandfather and smothered a snort of amusement at the old man's expression of gobsmacked pride. Little Dorry-Rose took after her mother in being extremely bright and had been showing accidental magic for six months now. Well, it probably wasn't really accidental as she had definitely turned James' hair green on purpose and this levitation seemed pretty deliberate.
Grandfather then noticed Sirius' laughter and glared at him, but it was a fond, tolerant glare. Grandfather Arcturus had always been accepting, as had his son Orion, Sirius' father, but unfortunately when Sirius had been growing up that quiet tolerance had been completely subsumed by Sirius' mother Walburga's loud, intolerant fanaticism. If his father had been even slightly supportive Sirius wouldn't have run away from home aged sixteen.
"She's been doing this since she was seven months old now," Sirius said, deciding against dragging up the past; "making things float, summoning things, turning toys and people's hair different colours and conjuring little lights."
The elderly Lord Black smiled. "A very talented young lady then."
Sirius did not say that Dorry took after her mother; the words caught in his throat as he was painfully reminded that Lily Potter was dead.
"Anyway, I was hoping you could explain this," Grandfather said, straightening the newspaper and turning it around so Sirius could see the front page.
Sirius nearly dropped his teacup as he took in the headline.
Rose Potter survives Killing Curse!
"Well," he managed to say after a pause to mentally curse the Daily Prophet and its distinctly loose reporting style, "I have no idea about the first one but the second is definitely untrue."
Arcturus Black raised an eyebrow at his grandson. "According to the Prophet dozens of Imperius victims have been turning themselves into the Ministry to testify, captured Death Eaters are sporting faded Dark Marks and Dumbledore himself has asserted that the Dark Lord is no more. The Unspeakables who examined the scene at Potter Cottage agree that the Dark Lord was killed by his own Killing Curse that was somehow reflected back at him after he had killed both Potters. According to Dumbledore, as Rose Potter was the only other person in the house and the event took place in the nursery, the Dark Lord appears to have died after the curse he fired on her was somehow reflected back at him. Later on in the article they refer to Rose Potter as 'The Girl Who Lived'; ridiculous." He sniffed.
Sirius tried to take it in. On the one hand, Voldemort's death was a tremendous relief. On the other, so many people were dead like James and Lily, and most of the Death Eaters were still at large, his crazy cousin Bellatrix included.
"Is this really your daughter, Sirius?" his grandfather inquired, glancing pointedly down at the curly-haired, green-eyed toddler now crawling across the floor towards a small pile of other toys.
"Yes," Sirius said firmly. "Her name is Dorea Rosamund Black-Potter and she is my firstborn and heir, as well as the heir to the Potter family by adoption." Taking a deep breath, Sirius plunged on, "James couldn't have children –there was a potions accident at school– so I promised to help him find an alternative. I brewed the potion for Lily to drink and once she was pregnant James performed the Line Adoption ritual. We did all the paperwork and filed everything correctly; Lily helped. It's legal, it's ironclad and Dorry's my daughter to raise as I see fit. If James and Lily had lived she would have been Rose Potter but with them both dead she's Dorea Black. As James' adopted brother the Potter estates fall under my stewardship until little Dorry either reaches her majority or marries, whichever comes first. Then she'll be Lady Potter until her second son reaches his majority. I've written it down specifically that only I have the authority to arrange a marriage for my daughter and that I will not do so before she is fourteen years of age." He took another breath. "I want her to be safe, Grandfather, and James and Lily were betrayed by someone we all believed to be a friend. Can you take care of her for me?"
"You want to leave her here?" Arcturus looked deeply disapproving.
"No! Well, yes, but not for more than a few days!" Sirius pleaded. "I have to hunt down Pettigrew and make him pay for betraying James and Lily to Voldemort! It was all my fault! I suggested he be trusted with the Secret and he sold them out! Please?"
"Very well," the aging Lord Black said with a sigh, "but I will be introducing her to those of the family whom I feel can be trusted. I'm not young, my boy, and I don't have the energy to chase after a toddler all day. Lurcher, Tansy and Mimsy don't either; I will have to acquire a new elf or three."
"Who then?" Sirius demanded nervously.
"Lucretia, Cassiopea and Callidora certainly; young Dorea needs female influences in her life. Probably Pollux; possibly Cedrella as well if she deigns to respond to an owl. I may even invite Andromeda; I hear her daughter is a Metamorphagus and I wish to meet her husband."
Sirius had always been fond of his cousin Andromeda, who had been disowned by his uncle Cygnus Black after running away right after graduating to marry her muggleborn Hufflepuff boyfriend, Ted Tonks. If Dorea being introduced to his frankly intimidating Black great-aunts was the price he had to pay for Andromeda to get welcomed back into the family he would go along with it. "I can agree with that, though I would prefer her not to meet Cygnus at all." He paused, letting the caveat be acknowledged since Cygnus was inordinately proud of his daughter Bellatrix and early as fanatical about blood-purity as his sister Walburga, Sirius's mother. "I don't mind her meeting Narcissa, so long as she isn't left with her, providing nobody finds out who Dorry's mother was. I refuse to cause a scandal and drag my best friends' names into the mud."
"That is perfectly acceptable; I will simply state that her mother was not a pure blood and died during the War," Arcturus said calmly. "Do return as swiftly as you can."
"I will; my daughter needs me," Sirius said resolutely. He then got up and hugged Dorry, who blinked up at him curiously.
"I'll be back soon, baby girl," he promised with a smile. "Papa always comes back, remember?"
Finding Pettigrew that very evening and getting framed for his murder and that of twelve innocent bystanders by the cowardly rat was all a bit too much for Sirius. When he finally recovered from his breakdown it was too late: he was locked in Azkaban with no hope of escape or trial. Dumbledore had attested to his being the Potters' Secret Keeper and Sirius' own suppressed guilt and grief combined with his erratic emotional state had reduced the time between Pettigrew's spell and waking up in the cell to a blurred fever-dream. Two things kept him sane: his innocence of the crimes he was accused of and his promise to his daughter.
Sirius didn't remember Dumbledore asking him about Rose Potter, or that his repeated answer of "there is no Rose Potter" had led to Dumbledore changing his approach and asking about the child of Lily and James Potter. Sirius reply to that had been "My brother and his wife have no children," after which Dumbledore had departed in confusion. These blatantly untrue yet utterly sincere statements led the Headmaster to double-check all his own memories and do considerable research into what on earth Sirius could have meant when not chasing after rumours of Voldemort and musing over the prophecy, all of which distracted the aging man from learning of the existence of Sirius' daughter until her arrival at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry nearly ten years later.