Hello my dear readers. I am back with another story. Unfortunately, trying to write my own novel did not work out quite as I hoped as I got drawn back to fanfiction, the only thing I truly had inspiration for. The first chapter of this story was written some years ago and sat unused on my PC until I finally figured out how I wanted it to continue.
I would like to thank my two lovely bèta's, who improve this story with their ideas and commentary.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor anything else from the HP Universe. This is a work purely written for enjoyment, not for profit.
Prologue: The Catch
The owl flapped her wings silently, amber eyes scanning the ground in search for the prey she'd hunted for nights now, waiting until the strangely smelling creature was alone. She heard a rustling sound and dived, grabbing it in her claws before flying away with the still struggling rat.
Harry Potter lay on his bed and rubbed his scar. He'd had a strange dream last night, one that he couldn't quite recall… It had had something to do with Voldemort, of that much he was sure. Nagini had been there as well, and then Voldemort's cold voice, muttering softly… He jumped when something scratched at his window, sighing in relief when it was just Hedwig.
"Shh, be silent girl," he whispered after he'd opened the window. "Uncle Vernon would kill you if you woke him up… Ew, Hedwig, did you really have to bring your food here?" The owl hooted and ruffled her feathers, scooting closer and sticking out the leg with a brown, still squeaking rat. "Hedwig, get that away or eat it. Don't push it in my face," Harry said with a disgusted expression, but the owl was persistent and pushed the animal against his hand. Knowing she wouldn't be ignored, he pried the rat from her claw, holding it tightly. It clawed at his fingers, and Harry got the strange feeling that he had seen it before. Suddenly it felt as if his head had been pushed in ice-cold water. It missed a toe, and Harry remembered in a flash how he and Ron had chased it. "Wormtail?" he said, holding it up until he could look it in the eyes, where both fear and intelligence that couldn't be from an animal were to be seen. –though it came close, Pettigrew had never been the brightest tool in the shed.-
The rat struggled and Harry hurried to his trunk until he'd found a small cage, -really, he had too much junk in there…- and put Wormtail in it, grinning smugly. Hedwig landed on his shoulder and he petted her. "Great catch girl… would you like some bread?"
The owl affectionately nipped his ear with her beak before taking the offered crumbs.
Chapter one: Discoveries
"BOY!" Harry heard and cringed.
"Yes uncle Vernon?"
"What is… this? I tolerated that, that bird, but I will not have vermin in my house!"
"Oops," Harry muttered. He really should find a way to bring Wormtail to the Ministry. He wondered whether or not he should tell his uncle what it really was. Maybe he should try. He was not planning to release the rat. "I can't set it free," he sighed, facing his uncle who had the cage with Pettigrew in his hands.
"And why not?" his uncle sneered.
"You might want to close the window in case the neighbours hear," Harry grumbled, and uncle Vernon narrowed his eyes but did as Harry said. He walked to the window and shut them so that the glass trembled under the force before he turned around, his little pig-eyes narrowed. "Well? Is this more of your freakishness?"
"Not mine… but that's no rat, that's a wiz… one of my kind. And he serves someone very evil. He escaped me last year before we could send him to prison," Harry explained, taking a step back when Vernon approached him.
"That's a… human? A criminal human?" Vernon spluttered with disbelief, eyeing the cage he held in his meaty hand.
"Yes. Hedwig caught him. No idea how she knew it was him… but she was very persistent to push him in my face," Harry grinned, before remembering who he was talking to and trying to look guilty.
"And what will you do with this… criminal?" Vernon asked, a vein beginning to throb in his reddening neck.
"I wanted to send him to the Ministry to get him a trial. However, I can't revert him to his human form as I'm not allowed to use… that… out of school."
"I don't want to have some criminal of your kind in my house. What's he done anyway?"
Harry was silent for a while, making sure the loathing was to be seen in his eyes as he looked at Wormtail. "He got my parents killed. He betrayed them. And to top it off, he killed thirteen Muggles. Non-magical people," he added in explanation, kind of wondering why his uncle hadn't blown up yet. Maybe because Petunia and Dudley weren't at home?
"Where is this Ministry of yours?"
"Uhh… Somewhere in London… but I've never been there and I'm not sure how to get there either."
"I want that thing out of my house, boy. I don't care how, but you'll get him out of here Right. Now." His uncle said, taking a deep breath, which make him look even more like a giant whale.
"Done… sure." Harry said on a light tone. "No problem… really. I'll just uh, take the knight's bus or something…" He said, thinking about last year. He couldn't believe he wasn't getting punished already…
"Well? What are you waiting for? GO!" his uncle shouted. "And don't come back until you've gotten rid of it! Be glad your aunt is out tonight!"
Harry grabbed Wormtail's cage and hurried out of the room, grabbed his shoes and put them on before remembering that he would need his wand to call the Knight bus. No chance that he would get that if he asked. Harry peeked through the door opening again and to his relief Vernon had sagged down on the couch and put the TV on. Silently, he took a hairpin from out of the pockets of his jeans and picked the lock of the cupboard. He'd done it many times before to get his study books, so in a few seconds it was open already. He searched around in the darkness until he'd found his wand and some money. His uncle hadn't moved, and when Harry was done, he closed the cupboard again and ran out of the house, his heart pounding with joy that he had an opportunity to contact the Wizarding World before the end of the holidays… In fact, it was only the end of the first week… He had half in mind renting a room in Diagon alley and not returning, but without magic he didn't think he'd get far. Besides, with Voldemort still roaming about somewhere…
He waved his wand when standing on the sidewalk and a few seconds later, the three-deck bus appeared out of thin air with a loud bang.
"My my, it's you again." The lanky conductor, Stan Shunpike said, smirking "Harry Potter! Or would you rather be called Neville again?" he grinned.
"Hey Stan. Harry is fine… I'm not fleeing right now."
"Good. Come in. Twelve sickles. Three more-"
"-if I want to have a cup of hot cocoa, yes, I know. I'll just pay for the ride, and no, I don't need a toothbrush. Can you take me to the Ministry of Magic?"
"The Ministry? What do you need to go there for?"
"Uhh… I need to get to the Auror department… or anything that deals with criminals. I didn't know how to get there, so I called the Knight's bus."
"Wonderful idea! Take a seat, take a seat! Hey, Ernie!" Stan shouted over his shoulder. "Guess who we have on the bus again? It's Potter!"
Harry groaned, handed over a handful of sickles and warily sat down on a seat after checking if there was really none that was actually attached to the bus. –which indeed, wasn't the case.-
"How do I get into the Ministry actually?"
"The visitor's entrance? You need to get in a telephone booth, dial 62442 and follow the instructions which the operator's voice gives you."
"Thanks." Harry said, gripping the side of the bus as they made a sharp turn. He heard a few chairs tumble over behind him and hoped he wouldn't get sick.
"Bye Harry! See ya again soon!"
"Sure…" Harry replied, much less enthusiastic while stumbling out of the bus. "I'll see you in a few hours I guess. I still need to get home. 62442 right?" he asked, eyeing the red telephone booth in the alley he now faced.
"Thank you. Bye!"
He waved once but the bus had already disappeared around the corner while a few lampposts jumped out of the way to not get hit by it. Slowly, he walked into the alley and entered the telephone cell together with the quivering rat. He threw a coin in and dialled the number, jumping when a cool, female voice sounded.
"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic, visitor. State your name and reason for your arrival."
"Harry Potter. I need to speak to the Aurors."
A clanking sound came from the change tray and a square button fell out with the words 'Harry Potter, Auror department visitor'. Suddenly, the telephone booth began to move and went down like an elevator until it hit ground. Stepping out of the booth, he gawked at the room. In the middle of a large square a fountain stood with golden statues, and constellations moved over the ceiling. On both sides of the corridor he was in were fireplaces, and even at this time, Ministry workers constantly floo'd in and out. Not quite knowing where to go to, he spoke to the first wizard he could find.
"Sir? Sir, may I ask something?"
"Don't bother me boy, I'm late for work." The man said in a grumpy voice, but his eye widened when he saw Harry's face, and for once, Harry was glad that he was famous. "M… Mr Potter?"
"Just Harry, Sir. Could you please tell me where the Auror department is? I have information about a criminal."
"Yes, yes… it's at the second floor, together with the Law Enforcement. The elevator is there." the man said, pointing at the other side of the Atrium with a bright, disbelieving smile on his face.
"Thank you Sir." Harry said in a polite voice and walked away, grinning as the man mumbled: "Merlin's beard, I met Harry Potter! I've got to tell my wife!"
Harry made his way over to the elevator, squeezing in just before the doors closed, pressing the button beneath the sign: 'second floor.' The lift shot up with a dazzling speed that rivalled the Knight bus' until it came to a halt with a shock. He got out, glancing at an information board that told him that he was on the right floor, and proceeded to walk down the corridor. He tightened his grip on the handle of the cage with Wormtail, who was running around and squeaking in terror right now. "You get what you deserve for betraying my parents, rat." He growled from under his breath, but it did nothing to shut the creature up. Taking a deep breath, he knocked on the door of the Auror office.
"Come in!" a woman's voice said, and he stepped in, eyeing the stacks of paper with curiosity. They were so high that he was sure it was magic that held them upright. Then, he turned his attention to the woman, who had short, lilac hair and clothes that wouldn't have been out of place on a rock concert.
"Hey. Uhm, I have information… it's about Sirius Black's case." Harry said, watching in amusement as the woman stumbled over her own feet and rammed into the desk in an attempt to avoid the stacks of paper while approaching him.
"Black? Really? My name is Tonks, by the way. Nymphadora Tonks, but I prefer my surname… I bet my mother was high when she made up my first name," she cheerily said, and Harry laughed, instantly liking her.
"I'm Harry, Harry Potter. I prefer my first name though. Last one is a bit too well-known."
"Harry Potter?" she gawked. "Wow, really? Oh, sorry… I'm a bit of a fan." She grinned, offering her hand and in the process swooped a few pencils off the desk. "Woops. So, information about Black? Wait, I'll call Shacklebolt. He leads the hunt. HEY, KINGSLEY!" she shouted, and a tall, dark man entered the office, looking a bit annoyed.
"Yes?" he said in a deep, bass voice.
"Harry here has information about Black."
"Harry who?" Shacklebolt asked.
"Harry Potter," Harry answered, taking the seat Tonks offered him.
Kingsley's eyebrows shot up and he gained an interested look, conjured a chair and sat down. "Really? What kind of information, Mr Potter?"
"Harry, please," Harry corrected. "I came to tell you that I have the proof that Sirius Black is innocent."
A deafening silence fell, and Shacklebolt frowned. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"He's innocent. He was accused falsely."
"He killed thirteen Muggles, and betrayed your parents to You-Know-Who boy," the man said in a slow tone, giving him an odd look.
"It wasn't him. Do you know who Peter Pettigrew is?"
"Sure I do. Was a victim of Black as well."
"No sir. Sirius was a victim of Peter. I… well, I'm not sure how familiar you are with the story about the night my parents died?"
"I knew them well." The Auror said, which surprised Harry.
"You knew them? Really? How? How were they?" he said with excitement.
"They were great people Harry, and I'm sure they'll be proud of you… I was a member of a… group, which your parents were members of as well, led by Dumbledore. We stood against You-Know-Who during the first war. I know that one day, Dumbledore told them to go into hiding. Their house was protected by a Fidelius Charm, and Black, their trusted friend and Secret keeper, ratted them out to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Pettigrew followed him and accused him, after which Black blew up the street. Everything that was left of Pettigrew was a-"
"A finger, yes, I know. Do you know the spell to force an Animagus back into his true form?"
Harry put the cage on the table and stared at the rat, which was running around in circles. "Because this is Peter Pettigrew. Sirius convinced my parents to take another Secret keeper, because he himself was targeted by Voldemort, and Peter was not. However, Pettigrew was a spy of Voldemort, and, quite literally, 'ratted' them out. In a clever attempt to escape, he cut off his finger, blew up the street while Sirius was chasing him because he was the only one alive who knew of the change in plans, turned into a rat and escaped through the sewers. He's an unregistered Animagus, like my dad was…"
It was silent for a long while, but finally, Shacklebolt moved and opened the cage, holding Wormtail in a firm grasp to prevent his escape. "Tonks?" he asked, and Tonks pointed her wand at the rat. A flash of light later, Peter Pettigrew lay on the floor, looking around with wide eyes, finding himself at the receiving end of two wands. "I recognise him indeed." The Auror said, trembling with hate. "I had not ever thought him capable of such betrayal. This is… I must admit that your story didn't sound very believable, but this…what do you want to do with him, Harry?"
"Give him a trial. I want my godfather cleared and that piece of shit in Azkaban for twelve years before getting the Kiss if that's possible… the same he condemned Sirius to."
"We'll do what we can."
"Can I… Can I speak to him first? I have some… private questions for him." Harry said, his mouth a grim line. Shacklebolt hesitated, giving Pettigrew a wary look. For a moment, Harry thought his request would be declined, which would have been understandable since it most likely was not everyday practice to let a child speak alone to a criminal. ''Please,'' he pressed. ''It would mean a lot to me.'' Both Aurors exchanged glanced, Tonks giving a slight shrug.
''He did bring Pettigrew here,'' she spoke. ''The rat doesn't have a wand and the only way out is through this office, so if he escapes we'll be waiting for him here. I'd say that if anyone can handle stuff like this it would be Pot- sorry, Harry."
Shacklebolt hummed, still looking unsure. ''Is it true that you killed a Basilisk with a sword, Potter?'' he finally asked. Tonks' eyebrows shot up, it looked like this was a story she hadn't heard before. In truth, Harry was also quite shocked that anyone out of Hogwarts knew. Dumbledore had done his best to hush everything to not have even more panic break out.
''Yes. A friend of mine had been dragged down to... its nest, and would have ended up as its meal, so I couldn't do nothing.''
The man slowly nodded, giving Harry a smile. "Then I'm sure you'll manage one unarmed man. You can use my office. ''
"Thank you." Harry murmured, glad for once about his lucky achievements, and he glared at Peter. "Get in there, now." The man got to his feet, trembling, and walked through the open door, followed by Harry who threw it shut. "Sit down." he remained standing as Peter shrunk in on himself, sitting down on one of the chairs in the office, which was much tidier than the mess outside.
"SHUT UP! I ask you questions, you answer them truthfully! I won't have your pathetic excuses!" He didn't know where this sudden rage was coming from. It bubbled in his veins, pent-up emotions that he'd wasted on the wrong person last year and that had returned with double the force now he had the person responsible for his parents' deaths in front of him, at his mercy at last.
"Quiet." Harry hissed, and the rat shut up. "Now, I only have one question for you, really… I know that you returned to Voldemort… oh, stop the whimpering!" Harry snapped. "The one thing I want to know is this: Where is he? Where does your Master hide?"
Peter grew pale and trembled, silently shaking his head back and forth. "I can't… I can't… he'll kill me…"
"Where. Is. He," Harry hissed in between clenched teeth, planting his hands at the desk and staring at Wormtail.
"I can't…" the rat whispered, violently shaking now.
"Oh, can't you? Pathetic… so you could betray your friends to their enemy, but you can't betray that enemy to their son?" Harry said, raising his voice.
"TELL ME!" Harry shouted in fury. "If only to honour my parents, your… former friends or whatever you see them as now." He tried to calm his breathing as he stared at Wormtail over the dark wooden desk, suddenly remembering a part of a conversation he'd had. "I call upon your life debt to me," he said, suddenly emotionless. "Answer me truthfully, and your life debt to me is considered fulfilled. And besides, I think your Master's wrath is the last thing you need to worry about when you are in Azkaban."
Pettigrew was silent for a long while, still quivering, but at last, he answered in a whisper: "Riddle manor… Riddle manor, Little Hangleton. He had us move to there a few days ago."
"If this information is false, Wormtail, I'll personally make sure you'll receive that Kiss immediately."
"It isn't," the rat whispered.
Updates should be regular at the start since I have written a decent chunk of this story already, but they are still being checked by my bèta's and if necessary adapted.
Reviews are of course highly appreciated, whether you have comments, questions or just want me to know your opinion on the story and characters. I try to reply to any questions/theories and, like with my previous stories, try to include fan wishes in my story if I also like them.