I own nothing.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
"So, what do we have?" Harry asked as he poured himself a goblet of pumpkin juice.
"I think I have something that could start the fire," Hermione stated.
". . .but?" Ron pressed.
"We'd still have to be close enough," Hermione admitted.
"Back to that again," Harry grumbled. "There has to be a way."
"How did you approach them the first time?" Hermione pressed.
"I get the feeling Aragog wanted us to reach him, so we couldn't escape," Harry stated. He caught Ron shuddering out of the corner of his eye and patted the boy's shoulder as comfortingly as he could.
"That does make sense," Hermione admitted. "Acromantulas prize human meat. There's no way we could get close enough without them knowing and at least sending a few out to find us."
"Not if we weren't human!" Luna cheered. Harry stared at her blankly.
"No," Ron stated suddenly. "She's right. What if we weren't human? The woods are full of animals. If there were animals walking by their territory, they probably wouldn't be suspicious, right?"
"Acromantulas are nocturnal," Hermione said while nodding. "If animals just happened to walk by during the day, they probably wouldn't investigate. I think you're right, but how would we. . ." she trailed off. "Oh, right. Magic. Does anyone know how to become an animagus?"
"Something to look into," Harry stated. "How about we meet in the Room of Requirement tonight after detention? We can discuss it there without anyone listen in."
"Sounds like a plan," Ron replied. Hermione nodded. Luna continued sculpt an acromantula out of whatever breakfast foods she could reach.
"What do you think they're talking about?" Minerva growled as she stared at her most troublesome students.
"It's been too long," Alastor snorted. "Don't you recognize a war council anymore?"
"I was afraid you'd say that," Minerva grumbled. A thought struck her and she turned to the largest man at the table. "Hagrid?"
"Huh?" the man grunted around the whole blood pudding he had just shoved into his mouth.
"Mister Weasley said he was working on an extra credit project for you," Minerva stated, trying to not sound too accusatory.
"Yeah. He was asking me about the wildlife in the Forbidden Forest," Hagrid stated. "I gave him a few books. He's going to give a presentation later in the year."
"That didn't strike you as odd?" Minerva demanded.
"The brother of Charlie Weasley being interested in wildlife?" Hagrid asked, one eyebrow rising. "Couldn't keep that boy out of the Forbidden Forest." Minerva's shoulder slumped. That did make sense.
"But don't you think it's a little late for him to show such interest?" She was almost pleading
"Never seemed to mind the animals before," Hagrid stated, "I just figured he's coming into his own."
"They're up to something. They have to be."
"Now you're talking sense," Alastor rasped. Minerva buried her head in her hands as she realized just how paranoid she was sounding.
"So, how was your day Mister Potter?" Poppy asked. Harry frowned, somewhat startled by the sudden question.
"Uh, it was good Madame Pompfrey." The school healer stared at him shrewdly. "How was yours?"
"Quiet," she stated. "I would like to keep it that way Mister Potter."
"That sounds great," Harry said honestly before going back to counting bezoars. Poppy continued to study him. She had overhead Minerva at breakfast and decided to see what she could find out herself.
"I saw you and your friends speaking at breakfast. You seemed rather intense."
"Oh, we were just talking about our first class with Snape."
"Professor Snape," Poppy corrected absently.
"If you have any aspirations towards being a healer, at least make sure you listen to the man," Poppy stated. "He may be. . .difficult, but he is a master brewer."
"Yes Madame Pompfrey." They dropped back into silence and Harry went back to counting.
"How was your first potions class?" Poppy pressed.
"Neville melted another cauldron and got a detention," Harry stated. "That would have been the first of the year, except for this."
"I see." Poppy frowned as she considered the answers. "You aren't planning anything, are you Mister Potter?" Harry dropped a bezoar.
"Like what Madame Pompfrey?" he asked as he chased the rolling item.
"Like something dangerous," Poppy stated. She already had her answer.
"Why would I be planning anything dangerous?" Harry snatched up the bezoar and returned it to its place without making eye contact.
"Going off of our previous discussion, you might be planning something dangerous because you think you have to," Poppy stated shrewdly. "However, this planning you seem to be doing is rather unusual. I would like to point out that if you have time to plan, you have time to seek help."
"What do you mean planning?"
"I saw you Mister Weasley, Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood at breakfast," Poppy stated. "That wasn't a discussion about potions class. What are you planning?"
"Nothing Madame Pompfrey."
"When I can prove what you are up to, we are going to talk, Mister Potter."
"You're late Harry."
"We can't speak at breakfast," Harry stated. "Madame Pompfrey saw us and now she's poking around."
"Is that why you're late?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, I didn't know if she was following me, so I had to go to the dorm and sneak out." Harry took a breath and fought the urge to glance behind himself. "Anybody have any thoughts?"
"Well, we already know two people that studied how to become an animagus," Hermione stated. "Unfortunately, Professor Lupin would probably tell the Head Master and Sirius is out of the country." The mere mention of that name sent a spike of anxiety running through Harry's body. He had forgotten all about his worries about his god father.
"Bullshit," Ron stated flatly. "What's wrong?"
"I've been writing Sirius over the summer," Harry stated. "He said he was coming back."
"Why would he do that?" Hermione demanded.
"I've been having nightmares and my scar had been hurting over the summer," Harry confessed.
"Alright then. Why don't you set up the room?"
"Right." Harry performed the age-old ritual, though his thoughts were dominated by his godfather. He opened the door and stared at the darkness beyond. "Well, that's new."
"What is that?" Ron asked looking over Harry's shoulder. "Hermione?"
"I have no clue."
"Banzai!" Luna cheered. With a massive push all four tumbled into the darkness beyond. Or they would have had Harry not immediately run into something hard.
"My nose." Suddenly the hard object flung open and they tumbled to the floor. Harry looked up and found himself staring down a wand at his god father. "Hey Sirius." The man stared at him blankly with his toothbrush firmly wedged in the corner of his mouth. He lowered his wand and walked out of the room. He reappeared a moment later having replaced the towel around his hips with a fluffy pink bathrobe and spit out his toothbrush.
"Harry!" Harry grinned as he was pulled to his feet and given a rib squeezing hug. "And Ron and Hermione and. . ." he trailed off. "You're Xeno's kid, aren't you?"
"Who are any of us really?" Luna asked the wall ninety-degrees to the left of the man.
"Yup. You're Xeno's kid." Sirius took a deep breath. "Now Harry, you know you're welcome wherever I am. . ."
". . .but?" Harry asked.
". . .but what the hell are you four doing in my linen closet?" Harry looked back and stared at the linen closet they had fallen out of. "More specifically, what the hell are you doing in my linen closet in my room in the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo?"
"Monte Carlo?" Hermione squeaked. "Monte Carlo in the French Riviera?"
"Oh, we are going to have detention till we graduate," Ron grumbled.
"Gotta admit, all the stuff we got up to in school, we never managed to make it further than Hogsmeade." The door to the room burst open and a tall woman in a long coat swung in.
"Sirius!" The man made a diving lunge and managed to keep the woman's coat together as she tried to rip it open. The woman stared down at him and looked up at the four students. She grinned brightly. "Bon jour!"
"Uh, hi," Hermione managed. The woman looked back at Sirius and let out a long string of rapid fire French.
"Did anyone catch that?" Ron asked.
"She says she was joking and we all look a little young, but as long as we're legal, she's game," Hermione stated blankly.
"Game for what?" Harry asked despite himself.
"I refuse to speculate," Hermione said firmly. Just to add to the chaotic scene a harried-looking snow-white owl crashed into the window sill.
"Oh, hey Hedwig," Harry said as cheerfully as he could. The owl stared at him with an open beak. "Okay, before you get mad, I had no idea I was going to be here when I sent you to find Sirius." The attempt at placation went nowhere and Harry was subjected to a battery of wings and nipping beak.
"Thanks Sophie," Sirius stated as took the bottle of cognac and poured himself a glass.
"Pas de quoi," the woman chirped before dumping herself into the space next to him on the love seat.
"Sophie this is my godson Harry and his friends Ron, Hermione and Luna. Harry and company, this is my friend Sophie. She understands English fine, but doesn't speak a lick of it."
"You say I lick English good," Sophie commented teasingly. Sirius sipped his drink for lack of anything intelligent to say. He pushed the bottle towards the students.
"You know we're underage," Hermione stated.
"Why yes, yes you are," Sirius stated. "You're even underage in the country you illegally magically traveled to."
"Can't argue with that logic," Ron stated as he took the bottle and poured four glasses.
"So, how did you end up in my linen closet?" Sirius asked.
"We came through the Room of Requirement," Harry stated. He frowned even as he said it and glanced at Hermione. "Is that even possible?"
"Evidently," the girl replied, "even though it violates several of the fundamental principles that our understanding of magic is based on."
"Awe, you violated your first rule of magic," Sirius sniffed. "Lily would be so proud."
"My mother?" Harry asked.
"Your mother who spent way too much time developing new spells and redeveloping old legendary magic that had been lost to time," Sirius confirmed. "Sometimes lost for good reason. She could be kind of scary some times."
"Anyway, we were trying to use the Room of Requirement and Harry was apparently rather distracted," Ron said.
"I was worried about Sirius," Harry stated defensively.
"And that had something to do with this?" Sirius asked, holding up the letter from Hedwig's leg. Harry gawked at the object and checked his pockets. "You're a few decades away from being able to sneak something like this by me." He tore the letter open and perused it. "You've been having nightmares."
"It's stupid," Harry stated.
"Not necessarily," Sirius stated. "Your scar has been hurting at the same time. This could be more." He leapt to his feet. "I'm going back to England with you." A surprisingly strong hand grabbed him by the back of his robe and sat him down.
"You mean back to England where you're a wanted man?" Harry demanded.
"Oui," Sophie stated simply.
"Harry could be in danger!" Sirius stated. The French woman released her hold and cracked her knuckles. "Which I might be able to deal with from here?"
"Oui." Sophie let out a long string of French.
"What?" Harry asked. Sophie frowned and pulled out her wand.
"Is this better?" she asked.
"Much," Ron stated as he refilled his glass.
"Anyway," Sophie began, "the fact that your scar is painful at the same time that you have these nightmares points towards a correlation. The killing curse could have somehow bound you and Voldemort together."
"Is that possible?" Harry asked.
"No, but surviving the killing curse is supposed to be impossible too," Sophie said with a shrug. "We are getting into some rather esoteric realms of magic here." Sophie sipped her drink. "Lots of things are impossible until you do them." Harry sipped his own drink as he pondered that.
"So, what I'm seeing could be real," he said flatly. "Voldemort is out there somewhere killing people."
"You know what they say about old habits," Sirius replied. Harry took another sip and idly watched as Luna put a straw in her drink and began blowing bubbles.
"How do I stop it?"
"No clue," Sophie admitted cheerfully. "We don't know the specifics of this link if it even actually exists. We could try Occlumency and see if that helps."
"What's Occlumency?" Harry asked.
"It's the art of protecting your mind," Sophie explained. "It usually counters Legilimency, but we could give it a shot. I taught the basics at the academy."
"If Occlumency is protecting the mind, Legilimency is reading the mind?" Harry ventured. "People can read my mind?"
"Nothing so advanced," Sophie replied, patting his hand comfortingly. "The mind is difficult to. . .well, wrap your mind around. Basic impressions and strong feelings are usually the best you can get, but they can be enough." Harry sipped his drink as he pondered that. "Unfortunately, the process of learning can be rather unpleasant and can take time. A good stopgap might be something similar to Sirius's tattoos that he used to protect himself from the Dementors. It wouldn't help much with a direct attempt, but general passive probes would be clouded." Harry spun on his godfather.
"Your tattoos protected you from dementors?" he demanded as he stared at some of the marks visible on the man's chest through his robe. "Why didn't you tell me that?"
"Slow down Harry," Sirius ordered. "Before you rush off and get sleeves, think about the repercussions. As far as magical society is concerned, only thugs like low-level criminals and Ministry hit wizards have tattoos. You could really screw up your chances at a decent job."
"You're assuming that I'll survive long enough to have to worry about getting a job." Sirius sighed and finished his drink.
"Hermione, if you'd please."
"Way ahead of you," the bushy-haired woman stated before smacking Harry across the back of the head.
"You're going to survive mate," Ron stated flatly. Harry shuffled a little awkwardly and sipped his drink as everyone stared at him.
"Good!" Sirius announced. "So how has school been going?"
"Uh, good," Harry stated. "We killed another basilisk."
"Another basilisk?" Sophie demanded. "You've had to deal with any basilisks at your school?"
"And a troll and dementors and a werewolf and. . ."
"I think you've had enough," Hermione said, interrupting Ron's rambling and pushing his glass away from him. Sophie turned and stared at Sirius.
"They're joking, right?"
"I wish," Sirius grumbled. "Can't you three. . .four just stay out of trouble?"
"We're working on it," Harry stated. "By the way, we need to know how to become animagus."
"Why?" Sirius asked suspiciously. Harry shared a look with Ron and Hermione. Luna was staring at the overhead ceiling fan in delight.
"Because it would be cool?" Hermione ventured.
"Are you asking or telling?" Sirius replied.
"Please, Sirius. You're the only one who would teach us," Harry stated.
"Damn my desire to be a cool godfather."
Harry carefully slid the painting in front of him forward slightly and peaked out into the hallway beyond. "We're good." Harry slid the painting the rest of the way open and stepped out of the hidden passageway. The rest trooped after him and he slid the painting back into place.
"We just went from Scotland to the French Riviera and back in one night," Hermione stated. "I must be getting used to magic, because that only seems a little odd."
"Yeah," Harry admitted as he dug out Sirius's last gift and distributed them.
"Are you sure there are no side effects from these?" Hermione asked.
"Only the ones Madame Pomfrey said," Harry replied as he downed the pepper-up potion. "Although, you really shouldn't use these on consecutive days without taking time to rest. That can be bad."
"Mister Potter!" Harry cursed as he fumbled the empty bottle.
"Hello Professor McGonagall," he managed with a smile he hoped wasn't as nervous as he felt.
"What are you four doing out here?"
"We were just heading to the library before breakfast," Hermione said quickly.
"Why would you want to go to the library?" Minerva demanded.
"To study," Harry ventured. The older woman's eyes narrowed as she contemplated that.
"And what were you planning on studying?" Minerva demanded.
"Defense against the Dark Arts," Harry stated. "We have our first class today." The professor glared at them all suspiciously.
"You're up to something."
"I. . .don't know what you mean," Harry stated. Minerva let out something rather similar to an irritated growl.
"I see. You can be on your way."
-Author's ramble. So. Sirius. It kind of feels a little early to be bringing him in, but I really did need him as one of the only adults the Quartet could go to for tricks and intel, even if they don't give away too much to him. Plus, with how worried Harry is about him in this book, it felt like something I needed to resolve or he would, logically, be very distracted with worrying about his godfather.
So, I have to admit, I missed a few of the movies and didn't know that Sirius had tattoos in them until I started researching for this book. To me, it kind of seemed natural for an ex-con to have a few, especially if they explained how he stayed relatively sane in Azkabam.
Now, this might be a spoiler and it is subject to change, but I feel bad for Minerva. I kind of plan on her chasing her tail in paranoid circles before the year is out. Poppy will probably have a little better of a time at it, but not by much.
Alrighty then, I've gotten a few requests to tell the story I teased last update. As I said, the weather's getting nice and me and my usual drinking buddies have been venturing back out to the bars. Now, I am a born and bred Delawarean, which is usually kind of cool. This state is small and you've always got a chance of running into folks you know. I've bounced around most this state and I have a lot of friends, only most of which are veterans, bartenders and bouncers or some combination of the three. The guy I ran into that night was. . .not a buddy of mine. As a matter of fact, if I'd cared more, you could say he tried to bully me in high school. You know, if I wasn't bigger than him and running on zero fucks to give that is.
Anyway, so my buddy had just gotten up to break the seal and I feel someone poke me in the shoulder. I turned around and see this guy. Need I say I was plastered?
Jack: Hey. . .you. Long time no see.
Guy: It's Matt.
Jack: Right. Like I said, long time no see.
Guy 2: Hey Matt, who's this guy?
Matt: This is Jack. I used to pick on him in high school.
Jack: Well, you tried.
Matt: What the fuck does that mean?
Jack: Well, you tried to pick on me, but I never really cared.
Matt: I beat the shit out of you!
Jack: You punched me three times in the back of the head while I was sitting and ran away like a bitch when I stood up. You probably hurt your hand a lot worse than my head.
Matt: You fuck!
Now, I'm not a fighter. I don't like fighting. It gets in the way of other things, like drinking and having fun. I'm not a fighter, but I can throw a punch. Matt takes a swing at me and I kind of drunkenly swayed out of his way and threw the sloppiest, most telegraphed punch ever. It connected clear with the angle of his jaw and he dropped like a rock.
Guy 2: Motherfucker!
Jack: Durrrr *staring at his fist like an idiot*
And that is when the bouncer (both a veteran and a friend) snags him in a chokehold from behind.
Bouncer: That was sloppy as shit Jack.
Jack: I'm drunk!
And guy 2 decides the best course of action was to pull a knife. My friend couldn't really see it and I was running on booze and adrenaline. I grabbed his wrist and fired off another shot that somehow didn't manage to clock my buddy. He releases guy 2 and lets him drop the floor.
Bouncer: Oh, hey. Thanks Jack. Still sloppy.
He's the kind of guy that doesn't blink when you pull a knife on him.
Jack: Fuck you.
And then my buddy who was taking a piss comes back.
Jack: I didn't do it!
My buddy stares at me and I stare at my fist, which is still up, and the two guys on the ground.
Jack: Oh, yeah. I mean, I didn't start it.
So, yeah. Two one hit knockouts in about two minutes. I'm probably living some peoples' dreams of beating up a bully.
I honestly never believed that people were stupid enough to try to bully someone as an adult. I mean, that is called assault or harassment in the real world and those are both kind of illegal. Plus, it's been over a decade since I graduated. I had about half a foot of reach and fifty pounds on his crack-skinny ass, so I really have no idea what he was thinking. I mean, did I insult him? Yeah, but that's kind of what happens why you try something like that.
Anyway, next update I'll tell you about the other kid who tried to pick a fight with me. I honestly have no idea what's going on. I've been bar hopping for about a decade and I've never had as much trouble as I've had this spring.