After Kirby and Chevalier left, things seemed to have quieted down.
News on Sirius Black became sparse, and the insufferable screeching of the Fat Lady became the gung-ho challenges of Sir Cadogan, the new portrait guarding the Gryffindor hole. With that also came one of the best parts of the year:
To Harry's frustration, another Hogsmeade trip. Of course. So Ron and Hermione could merrily explore the quaint little village while Harry had to stay alone in the big cold castle. Whoopdee doo.
So maybe it wasn't the best part of the year for this year, at least. But Harry had an ingenious idea; he wondered how he hadn't thought of it before. Of course. The invisibility cloak.
Getting caught by the Weasley twins was unplanned, and so was getting the Marauder's Map, but Harry wouldn't complain. The map helped him find a path to The Three Broomsticks, one of the places Hermione and Ron had told him about.
There were voices coming from above; he must be in the cellar. He kept his eyes peeled and ears piqued for anybody that might see him, even if he was under the cloak.
Then, his ears caught the words 'Sirius Black' and caution was thrown to the wind.
Apparently Sirius Black had been his father's best friend. Apparently Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin, and James Potter had been thick as thieves. Apparently Sirius Black had killed two of them and been arrested.
Apparently Sirius Black was supposed to be his godfather.
In that moment, Harry knew nothing but anger.
How dare he. How dare he. They trusted him, they trusted him with their lives and his and Sirius Black, the friend, the murderer, the traitor, killed them.
They trusted him.
He stormed out the tavern, into the biting cold, knowing that Ron and Hermione were on his trail, knowing that he was making loud footsteps and bumping into people, knowing that it was a wonder he hadn't been caught yet, but he couldn't bring himself to care.
Then, with a chilling blood-curdling scream, the world faded to black.
When he awoke, he was in the Hospital Wing.
Hermione gasped as his eyes flitted open. "Ron! Ron, come here! Harry's up!"
Shaking, Harry struggled to prop himself up on the bed, arms feeling like jelly. He couldn't feel any strength in them, just immense exhaustion.
"What happened?" he asked.
Hermione and Ron's expressions clearly betrayed concern as Hermione explained. "The dementors came and surrounded you," she said. "Dementors are like that. They're drawn to negative emotions, and I don't think your mind was in a right state then."
Oh. So it had been the dementors again.
Off-hand, Harry was impressed that he'd lasted half the year without running into them. Though, he supposed it was reasonable that they'd been drawn to him considering what he'd just overheard.
Just thinking about it made his blood boil. He took a deep breath. It wouldn't do to draw the dementors to himself again, especially if they had such a strong effect on him. He composed himself. What he needed to do was to tell Ron and Hermione.
He ended up asking Professor Lupin if there was anything he could do about the dementors. Professor Lupin told him of a charm called the Patronus, a manifestation of one's deepest joy, that could drive away the dementors. Harry wanted it. He really wanted to learn it. He practically begged Professor Lupin to teach him.
He didn't need to beg though, since Professor Lupin had the same idea in mind. Harry was grateful, but he wondered if it was only because Professor Lupin knew his dad. Then again, he wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Thus began two months of training on Saturdays with Professor Lupin and the Boggart.
It was only in February that Kirby finally returned, this time alone again, with no Chevalier in sight. They saw him at dinner, and waved excitedly. With everything that had happened over the past two months, they definitely had stories to tell.
Kirby waved back too, and they found that they missed the child's bright demeanor and the innocent cheer that it brought into the walls of Hogwarts and the cold Potions dungeon.
Was it just them though, or was Kirby's smile just the slightest bit duller?
The shadowy form silhouetted by moonlight held up the knife. All he needed to do was swing down. All he needed to do was kill the rat.
The redhead's eyes opened.
A scream, an alert; he turned and ran straight out of the portrait hole before the lights could even turn on.
He didn't notice the pink-haired child silently trailing behind him.
Kirby didn't mean to take up patrols. He really shouldn't have; as Meta had told him countless times already, this wasn't his world. It wasn't his planet to protect, wasn't his place to step in. Kirby couldn't very well just leave things though, so he stalked the halls at midnight, on one hand admiring the Earth's beautiful moon and the galaxies he could see from there and on the other keeping an eye out for danger.
To his surprise, just a few days in, it struck. In the darkness of the night, a man with frizzy long hair brandishing a knife ran out of the Gryffindor common room after a scream that Kirby knew was from Ron.
Kirby gave chase immediately.
Let it be known that while he was a fledgeling Star Warrior, he had been trained in no small amount by one of the elites of the elites even among the ranks of the Star Warriors: Meta Knight. Subtlety was never much Kirby's strong suit, but it had been the knight's, and Meta would never let Kirby not learn the art.
Kirby could be quiet, and he was, as he tip-toe-ran behind the man. The corner turn, a slide down the still-moving staircase, and a short moment Kirby could barely see where he slipped behind a suit of armor.
Kirby ducked and slid into the passage just before the suit of armor repositioned itself to block him, and continued to pursue the man.
Through the winding duct, becoming narrower and narrower, Kirby ran. And then, at a bend, the man was ahead enough that Kirby couldn't see him, and in that second, he disappeared.
Kirby abruptly halted. Where? He couldn't have just gone through the walls, right? His head swiveled around as he took in the dirt walls of the tunnel. No, there were no marks for secret passages of any sort.
Then, a whimper. A sound Kirby knew all too well to be Mr. Dog. Kirby looked down and there he was, the big black dog that Kirby sat with on the hill so often, giving his musings and airing his troubles to.
What was Mr. Dog doing here?
The black dog nuzzled Kirby's leg affectionately and Kirby shook his head. Sirius Black was gone for now, and Kirby needed to get back to the school. Patting Mr. Dog on the head, he smiled. "I'm back," he greeted softly. "Did you miss me?"
And he had no idea how much the dog actually did, because Kirby was a friend, Kirby was happiness, and Kirby was one of the only good things that came out of the man's cursed mission.
Kirby turned. It was time to get back to Hogwarts. But Mr. Dog was biting the hem of his shirt, tugging, and Kirby had to turn and frown at him. "Stop that!" he pouted. "I'm supposed to get back soon!"
Was it Kirby's imagination or was Mr. Dog trying to say something? The canine barked again, and started walking in the other direction.
Oh well, it was nighttime anyways, so he wouldn't really be missed. Not like he had a curfew or anything. He could be led into some abyss he'd neve be able to get out of, but the chances of that were slim, so he might as well follow Mr. Dog.
On the other end of the tunnel, Kirby finally saw some light. His eyes had gotten used to the dark tunnel already, so stepping into the moonlit shack felt almost like stepping into a bright sunny day.
Dust filled the air. Kirby had to resist the urge to cough as he looked around, bewildered. All the wood seemed worn and rotten, like a single hit would send the whole shack crashing down. Where was he?
Out the door was another tunnel, this time much much shorter and lined with tree roots. Kirby poked his head out to find the knobby brambles of the Whomping Willow swaying lazily in the breeze, undisturbed. Oh. So this was the shack underneath the Whomping Willow, the Shrieking Shack. That's good! That was really close to the school!
Off-minded, he turned back to look at Mr. Dog, who was just sitting there. That must have meant that Mr. Dog lived here. Kirby felt bad, but it wasn't like he was allowed to take Mr. Dog into the school. That, and…
Kirby still had his suspicions. Sirius Black disappeared and Mr. dog suddenly appeared in his place. What were the chances?
Smile betraying none of his suspicions, Kirby waved. "Thanks Mr. Dog. Bye! I'll come by some time with some food."
He'd just have to keep watching for a little bit.
Regular patrols continued after that, much to Minerva's dismay.
"Not that I don't appreciate your protection, Kirby, but really, aren't you not supposed to interfere with this world's matters?" She sighed. "Especially since you're now a Knight. Shouldn't you have some mind for diplomacy?"
Kirby nodded, a light smile playing on his face as he leaned over the railing of the bridge to look at the river snaking through the forest. "Yep. Don't worry, Meta's told me this tons of times. I want to though." Kirby turned back to grin at Minerva. "Besides! The Knights can't do anything to me. I'm their strongest."
One might call this arrogant. Kirby knew it as fact, and so did everyone around him. Minerva certainly knew perfectly well about the child's — if he could even be called that— escapades.
"Do be careful, Kirby," she warned, though she still fondly tousled his hair, something she knew Kirby enjoyed no matter who it was from.
"Your cat's a hellspawn!" Ron yelled at Hermione.
"Well, excuse me but your rat was on its deathbed anyways! Crookshanks did nothing wrong!" Hermione retorted, furious.
Kirby looked up at Harry. Harry looked back at him. They shared a meek glance.
"Oh?" Kirby's eyes trailed after a little brown rat scurrying on the edge of the hallway. "What's this?"
It took him no trouble to snag the rat up by its tail. It waved its little paws around frantically, writhing futilely in Kirby's grasp. Kirby noted that it was missing a bit off one of its front paws; poor thing. Maybe Crookshanks had gotten to it?
Offhandedly, Kirby recalled that Ron was searching for his rat. Maybe this was Ron's. He should probably return it. Meanwhile though, it still floundered around, hanging by its tail.
"Calm down, calm down," Kirby soothed. "You're fine." He did something he probably shouldn't have; he coaxed the rat to peace with just a tiny bit of Jamba magic, but nobody was watching. The rat's movements gradually slowed and slackened, until finally it just hang limp, almost sheepishly, from Kirby's hold on its tail. "Shh, you're fine," he assured a final time, transferring the rat to sit more comfortably upon his hand.
He let the rat sit on his shoulder as he continued perusing the halls.
Jamba magic was an interesting thing. He'd gotten it from one of his most recent journeys, a piece of a jeweled heart split into shards that spread across the galaxy. The Jamba Hearts had caused far more trouble than they were worth, and actually housed another god-like being that Kirby had to destroy.
By some stroke of luck, Kirby received the one piece of the heart, the only one of its kind, that was pure. The antithesis of everything else it was, a tiny little core of the Heart that was meant to counterbalance and stabilize the overwhelming corruption around it. Sometimes, Kirby marvelled at his luck.
The power allowed him to purify, or to endear others to him. He used it more often for the former, especially after Meta Knight had explained that while everybody in Dreamland was beyond willing to help Kirby out, using the Heart on them had essentially been coercion into a dangerous cause without their consent..
That thought had shaken Kirby to his core, and he resolved not to use Jamba magic if he could help it. He initially wanted to get rid of it, but consulting Hyness and the mage sisters revealed that the pure Jamba Heart was harder to remove than the corrupted, and had already latched onto Kirby.
Kirby bit his lip. It felt wrong to use it on the rat, but it was a rat. An Earth rat, not one of his animal friends like Rick, Kine, and Coo. It had far less sentience and needed to calm down anyways, or else it would hurt itself.
The next day, Kirby almost entirely forgot about the rat that he'd hidden in his pocket. It was quietly snoozing the day away. Perhaps it was nocturnal?
It was a nice afternoon; the clouds looked big and loomed overhead like cotton monsters, but soft and fluffy and nice. Kirby smiled.
Soft steps on the grass made their way to him, and Kirby didn't even need to look to tell that it was Mr. Dog, who would usually join him on these afternoons for some nice cloud-watching. "Hello, Mr. Dog," Kirby greeted. "Nice day today! The clouds are big and soft and fluffy!"
Kirby stopped, sat up, and turned to the dog. "What is it?" Mr. Dog never growled at him.
The dog's eyes were aimed at Kirby's pocket, and Kirby finally remembered that Scabbers was there.
Kirby eyed the dog. "It's Ron's pet. Don't like rats?"
Mr. Dog's eyes narrowed, almost like a glare, and Kirby almost felt chills. In the tension between them, nothing moved but the slight breeze. Kirby recalled his suspicions, and tried to rack his brain for what Harry had told him. Sirius Black, murdered eleven people including Peter Pettigrew, his former best friend. Betrayed the Potters, worked for Voldemort.
Worked for Voldemort, and was now searching for Harry Potter to finish the job. The rat wasn't Harry Potter though. It was related, but barely. The pet of the best friend of the target. Too far, if you asked Kirby, considering Kirby himself was a close friend. Something didn't fit here.
Maybe he was overthinking it. Maybe the dog was just Mr. Dog, and he was overthinking it.
"What do you have against this rat?" Kirby finally asked.
The canine opened its jaw, almost as if to bark, but no words came out. Of course they wouldn't, Kirby realized. "Let's go to the Shrieking Shack; I know who you are," he immediately said.
The dog looked surprised for a moment, but immediately stalked off in the direction of the dangerous tree.
Well, that confirmed Kirby's suspicion, he supposed. The star warrior followed, slipping into the tiny hole between the roots with ease, finding himself once again in the dusty shack, where the dog was no longer a dog.
Sirius Black was tall, gaunt, and sickly pale, almost like a ghost. Dark bags beneath his eyes betrayed his poor health, and his long hair curled and frizzed like a tangled mess of shrubbery. He was basically the stock image of a madman, and how Kirby imagined Hyness looked beneath his hood most of the time: eyes wide but unseeing, a constant expression of anxiety plastered on.
Kirby wasn't afraid though. He was worried. He couldn't quite reconcile this person with Mr. Dog, but that didn't mean he didn't associate the two. Now that he thought about it, Mr. Dog's ribs were too visible, too defined underneath the dog's matted fur and too-saggy skin. Kirby mentally kicked himself for not bringing more food for his animal companion.
"The rat," Sirius began, "is Peter Pettigrew. He's not dead, hasn't been for the past 13 years, and now he's living the comfortable life of a house pet while I am getting my soul sucked out by dementors every. Single. DAY!"
Kirby was unfazed by the shouting. He gave several moments for the man to compose himself.
Sirius Black took a few deep breaths. "Let me explain," he sighed. His voice was gentler, quiet, and mildly soothing in its baritone. He just sounded…. Tired, Kirby realized. Beyond exhausted. "Do you know what a fidelius is?"
Kirby shook his head. He wasn't intimately familiar with magic. The Wizarding equivalent of it, anyways.
"It's an advanced ward, based around a secret location. It assigns one Secret Keeper and no one but the Secret Keeper can show anyone the place." He smiled, a bit of nostalgia on his face. "James wanted me to be the Secret Keeper. I thought I'd just screw it up, but I was happy he trusted me so much."
Kirby nodded. Trust was really a sacred thing. But somehow, that'd been broken. He needed to listen intently.
"I thought I was smart. 'Give the role to Peter,' I said. 'They know I'm your best friend.' I thought that this way, they wouldn't be able to torture it out of me… after all, who would suspect tiny, sweet, scaredy-cat Peter Pettigrew?"
It was getting clearer now. Kirby saw where this was going.
"I guess it went both ways," Sirius chuckled darkly. "If only I'd just taken it in the first place, James and Lily would still be alive," his voice trailed off into a sort of whimper, and then soft, choking sobs.
Kirby had spent his entire life around emotions. He understood emotions. He understood how real Sirius Black's guilt and sorrow was. He knew that something about the story everyone was told didn't match up. He needed to go back and consider some things, talk to people, figure out this mess.
But first, he felt the overwhelming need to comfort Sirius Black.
"I'm sorry," he spoke quietly, almost inaudibly. He wished he could hug the man. But there was still something he needed to do. "I'll be back."
Harry had been caught sneaking to Hogsmeade with the invisibility cloak and map by Malfoy of all people.
Malfoy! He couldn't believe himself. Were his sneaking skills really that bad?
And of course Malfoy reported him to Snape, who took one look at the map and viciously snatched it out of his hand.
"Hey!" He shouted. "That's mine!"
And he probably shouldn't have defended himself, as Snape's glare met his own, and Snape's low voice drawled, "Evidently, Potter. Using this to sneak around, are we?"
Harry's glare faltered. Did Snape know what the map was? "It's just a piece of parchment," he said.
Snape sneered. With snappy movements, his wand came out of his sleeve and he pointed it at the map.
Before he could utter any spell though, a distinct childish voice piped up from behind him. "Severus!"
Snape took a long sigh, as if confronting something insufferable, and turned. "What? I am in the middle of something here," he snapped.
Kirby gave one of his usual unfazed smiles, saccharine but not quite fake, wide but not quite happy. "Lupin needs to see him. It's urgent." He eyed the map Snape had in his hand with interest, and Harry wondered whether or not he'd told Kirby about the map. He hadn't had time to since the child's return. Did he know about the map already?
Kirby looked Snape straight in the face and made a requesting gesture. "I'll need that too, Severus," he said.
Snape glared, but slowly handed Kirby the folded piece of parchment. Kirby just stepped in front of the man and took Harry by the hand, leading him into the school and out of Snape's scrutiny. Harry was beyond grateful.
At least he was until Lupin confiscated the map while Kirby watched, chastising Harry for not handing in an object that could've helped them capture Sirius Black.
They were in his office. Remus wondered why he was humoring the child's idea, but maybe he wished for it to be true. Sirius Black, his best friend, innocent, like Remus knew all along. But now that he had the map, he could be sure. The map never lied.
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," the incantation came out of his mouth like habit, rolling off his tongue so familiarly like it was just waiting to be spoken. Ink crawled along the parchment, branching out into the lines and intricate layout he knew so well.
The tags appeared naturally; Remus easily located 'Remus Lupin' and 'Astra 'Kirby' Knight.' He glanced at the child. That full name was new knowledge. Before he could say anything though…
It was there. Right under Kirby's name.
Peter was alive.
Kirby knew it. If the rat was Peter Pettigrew for real, then Sirius had good reason to target the rat. After asking Lupin, he'd confirmed that they were the closest of friends and Sirius's scenario had been reasonable.
Kirby didn't want to jump to conclusions, but this disproved everything everyone had been told. Peter Pettigrew was in fact not dead, and that meant Sirius couldn't have killed him. Then, had he killed the Potters and 12 other people? Chances were unlikely. Kirby fished a hand into his pocket for the little rat.
He pulled it out, and it looked dazed, surprised to be handled roughly, but Remus gasped at the sight of it, and immediately a wand was out, pointed at the rat, and suddenly, it was a man, a small fat man with buck teeth and mousy gray hair that flew in every direction.
He squeaked, transformed into a rat again, and ran.
"Scabbers! Where were you?!" Ron shouted, relieved, as the rat climbed up Ron's pant leg and scurried into his pocket.
Kirby ran into the room not long after, looking slightly winded, head swinging around as if searching for something. His eyes landed on Ron, and he immediately rushed over. "Ron! Have you seen Scabbers?"
Kirby wasn't smiling.
Even though the child was two heads shorter than him, the blue eyes almost seemed to glow with ferocity. It was all Ron could do to muster up a meek "yeah, he just climbed into my pocket. Why?"
Kirby tsked, but quickly a smile was back on his face, as if nothing had happened just then.
Kirby dropped back into the Shrieking Shack, where Sirius awaited.
"So? Was I right?" Sirius asked.
Kirby bit his lip and nodded. "I can't believe I let him get away! He ran straight back to Ron!"He ran his fingers through his messy hair and mussed it up in frustration.
Sirius growled, something Kirby was starting to get somewhat used to. "The dirty little rat," he spat. "We need to get to him somehow…"
And this time, Kirby was in full agreeance, there was just a little tidbit concerning him.
"Sirius, you sound so evil," Kirby frowned. "What did you plan to do when you got your hands on Peter?"
Sirius swung around. "Kill him! Of course! Like he did to my best friend!"
And Kirby was, as usual, unfazed, having seen far more than his fair share of murderous villains, but Sirius wasn't supposed to be one. "And that makes you better than him how?"
Sirius faltered. "He…"
Kirby continued. "I get how much you want to, but also remember that he's your key to freedom," Kirby reminded.
Sirius glared. "And what would you know?" He'd listened to the kid's troubles, and he knew definitely that he was more than a child, that he'd faced more dangers than the average person could even imagine, but how would he know the devastation of a best friend, dying at his hands?
Kirby's smile took on a solemn quality, never falling off his face, but a slight down tilt of his head and a too-dark shadow flickered over the child's face. Sirius regretted what he said for a moment. "Sorry—" he began.
"I'd know," Kirby said. His voice was low, and sent shivers up Sirius's back. "..." He opened his mouth as if to say something, but closed it again.
Sirius didn't need to know how many times Kirby had screwed up, releasing Nightmare, or being asleep while Meta and Dedede fought off Haltmann, or putting Dedede in danger because of Kirby's own reputation.
So he did what he did best and brushed it off, plastering a wide, childish, joyful smile on his face. He raised his chin to the light, hoping he pulled off his usual twinkling blue eyes. "It's nothing! Back to the issue, you really shouldn't be killing someone if you want to prove your innocence."
Sirius blinked. That was weird. "Okay," he dumbly replied. But then he remembered his train of thought before Kirby upended it. "Wait, no! The goal here is revenge on Peter for killing James and Lily!"
Kirby's childish pout returned. "Don't you want to be free though? You did escape and come all this way after all."
Sirius was sure. "It doesn't matter what happens to me as long as James and Lily are avenged," he declared.
Kirby sat, contemplative, even though Sirius had just basically announced murderous intentions. Sirius somewhat wondered if Kirby just had a few screws loose to regard such things so casually. Kirby hummed. And then he spoke.
"And having your soul sucked out isn't enough vengeance?" Kirby said. It was expressionless, with oddly all-seeing blue eyes piercing straight into Sirius's soul, forcing Sirius to consider it.
And now that Kirby mentioned it, what better punishment was there than what he'd suffered for the past twelve years? What had he been thinking? Sirius grinned manically.
Kirby really wasn't sure what was more inhumane, at this point. Kill Peter Pettigrew, or allow dementors to chew up his soul and essential being beyond recognition? All he was sure was that Peter Pettigrew had to pay somehow. Kirby was usually as laid back as a puffball could be, but he understood Sirius. Peter committed the grave sin of harming a friend, and for that, he had to pay.
The hatred and rage in Sirius's soul made Kirby want to shudder though. It was nowhere close to the scale of say, Sectonia, or Dark Meta Knight, but seeing it made him want to do something about it, and he only knew one thing he could do about it.
And that was to use his Jamba magic.
He'd been far too liberal with it already. But… if he was only going to use it for the sake of purification, it couldn't be bad could it? Kirby bit his lip.
"Hey, Sirius," Kirby called. "You know how you're really angry right now? You sorta just hate Peter and everything?"
Sirius gave a humorless huff of something akin to laughter. "You could say so. Twelve years with dementors, remember?"
"So… you know your mind's not really… right? Right now?"
Reluctance was clear in the slow nod that Sirius gave. Kirby had to give him kudos for the strength and courage to acknowledge it. Now came the hard part.
"So, if I, say… had something that could fix up your mind, what would you say?" Kirby apprehensively questioned.
To Kirby's surprise, Sirius merely shrugged. "Sure," he said with a dark chuckle. "Not much you could do to screw me up even worse than now, anyways."
And Kirby resented that, but continued. "Even if it makes you my friend?"
Sirius's eyebrow was raised now. "Um, yeah. What sort of wholesome power is this?"
Kirby's fingers itched for something to grab and scratch and fidget with. Sirius didn't understand. "No, I mean, like, forcing you to be my friend. It's sort of a side effect, and I don't want you to if you don't want to." Kirby really wanted Sirius to be sure what this was before he agreed.
Sirius stared at him and blinked, and opened his mouth, and Kirby could feel the oncoming rejection hitting him for sure—
"Sure. Fine." Sirius chuckled. "Was that it? I thought we were already friends?"
Kirby opened his eyes. Really? Really, it was okay?
As if Sirius could tell what Kirby was thinking, which really wasn't a hard feat considering Kirby usually wore his feelings on his sleeves if it wasn't written plainly on his forehead, Sirius placed a large, firm hand on Kirby's head in some form of an affectionate pat. It was stiffer than Meta Knight's hand, colder, quavering slightly with Sirius's malnourished form.
Kirby looked up at the smiling man with dark bags under his eyes. "It's fine, Kirby," Sirius assured. "Whatever you can do to help, I'll appreciate it."
Kirby's mouth slowly tilted into an upwards smile, and then stretched into a wide grin. Confidently, he nodded. "Alright!" he shouted. He stood.
His eyes closed, he reached into himself for the power. The spring welled forth, pulsing with pink magic, pulling, twisting, winding, as Kirby molded it into his hands. He opened his eyes to a bright pink heart of magic, a completely pure Jamba heart, and with a prayer that it worked, knowing it would, just as it had for Hyness and the mage sisters and Galacta and Morpho and everyone else, flicked it through the air towards Sirius's chest.
The target hit, releasing a sprinkle of light, catching on the dust in the air, a pure white light of purification. And when it faded Sirius Black stood there, still ragged, still exhausted, but with a sort of peace in his eyes, a joy that Kirby hadn't seen before, and Kirby knew it had worked.
As it happened, a purified Sirius was a much less murderous Sirius, but no less enraged at the traitor. He was much more agreeable to the idea of Peter being sent to Azkaban for the dementors to chew out, even with a sort of insidious gleam in his eyes.
It certainly made Kirby question whether his Jamba heart was working, but he supposed if the new light in Sirius's eyes was anything to go by, he was fine.
Truth be told, Kirby regretted not going to Remus in that moment and pulling him into the loop. So much could've been avoided if only he or Sirius had. Kirby's plans were never the best, considering his usual strategy for any enemy was to brute force it again and again until it fell— and Sirius's original plan had been to just kill Peter as soon as possible.
Yeah. Plans were neither of their strong suits. But the proposed plan? Kirby thought it would work.
It was April when they finally decided to put their simplistic plan into motion. Peter Pettigrew, Scabbers, was in Ron's hands, and Kirby was closest to the trio, so he was tasked with getting Pettigrew.
It had been ridiculously easy to nab Scabbers out of Ron's pocket with just a tiny bit of finesse, hopefully (very very hopefully) without Ron noticing. After that, all Kirby had to do was get it to the Shrieking Shack, where he and Sirius had made a tiny cage to contain the rat.
Yeah, it was really simplistic. Kirby thought that was all it had to be; this wasn't another Void Termina or Jambastion, where he'd had to divide up teams and coordinate invasions to the Jambandra base in groups of four with Meta Knight's help. It was a simple extraction and delivery, to be carried out by Kirby as soon as he had Peter. Bring him to the ministry, turn him in, get Sirius freed.
That was it. The Golden Trio shouldn't have followed him; Remus shouldn't have followed him, even Snape shouldn't have followed him.
But they did.
With practiced ease, Kirby slid into the little hole between roots in the Whomping Willow before any of its vines could so much as displace a hair on his head.
Ron gulped. "He went into the Shrieking Shack."
Kirby had been just a bit distant recently, and act as he might, Ron wasn't stupid. All things had a logical cause, and there had to be some reason why Kirby stopped hanging out with them often.
It wasn't like Kirby was gone all the time, but Ron was sure Kirby was hiding something from them. Especially after that Scabbers incident.
Two months had passed already, but it still weighed in Ron's mind, the way Kirby's eyes were cold as ice and his smile disappeared. Ron still thought he'd imagined it; every time he looked at the child's face, there was that warm and bright smile of his again.
Ron kept an extra eye out for Scabbers. And when he felt the warm weight of his pet rat disappear from his pocket. He knew something was up.
He glanced at Kirby. Nonchalantly, the child smiled and waved like it was a normal day, going to the Head Table to nab a few (more than a few) slices of toast and stuff a few fruits in his pockets— how big were his pockets anyways? Ron was sure he'd already seen the kid stuff at least 10 in already.
Then, with a light skip, Kirby left the hall. Sure that Kirby wasn't watching, Ron leaned into their trio. "It's happening!" He whispered.
The three of them hastily scarfed down what little food they had and ran out the hall, hot on Kirby's heels— but not too hot, or Kirby would notice.
It was just a bit surprising when paper airplanes flew out of nowhere and straight into their faces.
Harry unfolded his quickly, hoping to get back to following Kirby quickly. He saw Ron and Hermione do the same out of the corner of his eye.
A note? In his own handwriting, no less.
He scratched his head in confusion. He didn't recall writing this.
He quickly skimmed it, and…
Harry, you may not trust me now, but Sirius Black is innocent. You saw on the map yourself, didn't you? Peter Pettigrew. He's alive, Sirius didn't kill him. Sirius didn't sell your parents to Voldemort, he never had their location in the first place because he told Peter Pettigrew. Peter Pettigrew was the traitor all along.
There was no signature. But did there really need to be one?
Ron bit his lip. If they stopped now, they'd lose Kirby. But…
He looked at Harry's and Hermione's faces, just as perplexed as his own. Either whoever wrote this was ridiculously good at forging handwriting — could polyjuice potion copy these kinds of behaviors maybe? — or he wrote the letter himself which was impossible because he didn't remember writing a letter and it was beyond messy. It was scribbled, written quickly, with big lettering that he knew all too well from rushed transfiguration essays done the night before their due dates.
SCABBERS IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK! How odd is it that Scabbers has lived for so many years, a common house rat? His hand has been missing. Peter Pettigrew was missing an arm and was an unregistered rat animagus. Connect the dots.
P.s. yes, that means you've been in bed with a middle-aged man countless times now.
Ron scrunched up his face— and his letter simultaneously. Whoever wrote it didn't need to spell it out, he could already see the connection.
It had to be bogus. It couldn't be real, couldn't be Scabbers. Scabbers had been around for as long as he could remember, since Ron was a baby.
Ron crumpled it up more and threw it. They needed to get back to Kirby.
Hermione's letter sent chills down her back.
Your time turner will come in handy very very soon. The dots are all there, from the names on the map and Lupin's "condition", to everything Harry's said about Sirius Black.
That explained a lot, but also told Hermione very little.
Shoot, Ron was already running ahead. But she hadn't figured out what the letter meant yet!
She ran after him, stuffing the crisp piece of parchment onto her pocket.
And then Kirby went into the hole between the Whomping Willow's roots, and all of them had to wonder if Kirby had a screw loose or something because it was the Whomping Willow, the tree that had almost killed Harry and Ron last year.
Seeing the child's skills up front really put into perspective just how much they didn't know. But really, hadn't things like this been happening all the time? Everything from jumping over the table during his introduction in First year to saving Malfoy just months ago.
Hermione entertained the idea that Kirby was using magic to make himself lighter or more mobile, but then again, not a single time had she ever seen Kirby pull out a wand, and unusual or not, Kirby couldn't know wandless magic when even the best trained witches and wizards didn't.
There was no time to think though. Ron harrumphed. "Fine then! We'll get in there ourselves somehow! Hermione, do you remember anything about the Whomping Willow from herbology?"
Hermione furrowed her eyebrows, digging into her library of knowledge. She knew next to nothing about the treacherous tree; a disappointing oversight on her part. "Sorry, nothing. I don't think we ever learned about it."
"Right then!" Ron shouted with false cheer. "I don't think any of us fancy being killed by the tree, so here's the plan!"
Hermione had a bad feeling about this.
"I run and try to distract it for a bit, and you two get into the shack. I'll follow. Sounds good?"
No, Hermione thought before she could yell it, not good! Why are you going so far for your pet rat? You don't need to get hurt! We can find another way!
But before she could yell it, Ron was already into the fray and Harry had grabbed her arm, pulling her towards the shack. Hastily, she balanced herself and started running with Harry, getting her wand out of her sleeve while hoping she didn't drop it.
"Woah!" Ron shouted, and Hermione heard a thud, swung her head over, thank goodness he was fine, before her mind was pulled back into the hole at the base of the tree. And oh no, oh no oh no oh no, there were more branches that kept swinging around, and she really should've tied up her hair before she got into this—
Things kept running through her mind and she knew exactly why they were going to such lengths to follow their friend; the notes they received were just to ominous and they all knew everything was connected, they'd seen the dots and dotted in the lines between them but hadn't quite filled them in—
And then there was quiet.
A thud sounded outside, but all Hermione could hear was the deafening silence in her ear, accompanied by Harry's coughing on the dust and an oddly serene little shack that was also hauntingly old and eerie.
And there was Kirby, staring at them with wide, alarmed blue eyes.
And there was Sirius Black.
Ron was really running out of energy by now, and yeah, this was a dumb idea, but he was a Gryffindor, they got those pretty often if you asked him.
Another twist out of the path of a branch, another miss that nearly hit him, slamming into the ground, impact kicking up dirt and uprooting nearby grass.
It seemed like Harry and Hermione were in now, so all he needed was to get in there with them, but his legs ached, his forehead was pouring sweat, his body felt like it was burning up but chilled all the same, and there were just so many branches—
And then they stopped.
Ron had to take a few seconds to stop running, finally regaining his balance, making sure he didn't fall over and accidentally roll down the hill or something. His heartbeat pounded in his ears; why did the tree stop? The branches shook, almost like they were shivering, but stayed lax and groundward.
Crouched there in a slightly ragged suit, looking exhausted and as if hell had frozen over, was Professor Lupin. How had Ron not noticed him approaching the tree? Though, Ron was pretty distracted to be fair. He was next to a knot in the tree's roots.
Ron wondered why or how he knew that that would stop the tree, but hey, he wasn't complaining. It was an absolute miracle he hadn't gotten more than just a few bruises and scrapes.
Right, Harry and Hermione. "Harry and Hermione are in there, Professor!" he quickly tossed behind him as he slid into the shack through the roots.
Since seeing Peter again, Lupin knew exactly what he had to do. His last remaining best friend was alive, imprisoned, forgotten, and that all changed now. Kirby had gone into the Shrieking Shack, which was locked from both Hogsmeade and any other door. The only other person that knew how to get in by the roots without just dodging all the branches was Sirius.
If they were doing what he thought they were doing, then Peter was in there. And Lupin would make sure that he didn't escape this time.
"Harry? Hermione?!" Kirby yelled, surprised, when they dropped into the shack. He had finally pushed Pettigrew— Scabbers, right now— into the little cage he and Sirius had made for him.
Both their mouths were wide open, flabbergasted, and Kirby felt overwhelming guilt for not telling them anything.
Their faces were distraught, eyes filled with a look of betrayal, the thing Kirby hated to see most in his friends. Kirby was loyal, Kirby was friends with anyone who'd let him be their friend.
Evidently they didn't think of him like that anymore.
"I can explain," the words hurriedly tumbled off Kirby's tongue.
"You! " Hermione shouted, loathing laced into her razor-sharp voice. "You've been working with him?" Her wand was out, pointed straight at Kirby's neck.
Any words Kirby had died in his throat.
The look of hatred. The icy cold eyes. Something Kirby hadn't seen on the faces of those he considered friends since… too long ago.
His eyes burned with unshed tears, his mind shut down, and he held his breath; he couldn't cry here, no he couldn't, no he couldn't—
A snap; the soft clattering of a wand on the ground, Harry's, Kirby absently noted, the wand tip that was trained at Sirius now gone.
"Professor!" shouted Ron. "Why—"
"It's a trap!" Harry shouted immediately. "It's Sirius Black!"
"Where is he, Sirius—"
"You too, Professor?! How could you?! I trusted you!"
"We've got him, Remus, we finally have him!"
"Sirius, you should've said something—"
"He's a werewolf!"
"It's all fine now, the dementors will have him—"
"I thought you were going to kill me?! What—"
"Harry, quiet! Listen to us—"
"Expelliarmus!" another clattering wand, the door creaking open again,
"Revenge is so sweet—" Snape was here.
"Don't you dare, Snivellus—"
There was too much, too much going on, a storm around him, a hurricane in his mind, and all he could think was—
Kirby's skin glowed pink for the briefest of moments, power springing forth almost unbidden, barely suppressed magic blasting through the room.
The high-pitched voice shocked them all into silence, the raw ferocity in it echoing through the Shrieking Shack's chambers, the pure power stifling their stress and tension and washing over them like a warm blast of air.
They looked at the source, the center, Kirby, and heard the faintest of sniffles from the pink-haired child, and finally remembered, all of them…
Kirby was a child. Kirby was still there. And Kirby was stressed, breaking down, holding back the tears and sniffles. A hiccup, and then his soft, soothing voice spoke.
"Nobody is understanding," he said. "You're all speaking over each other, trying to step over each other, and you need to stop, explain, make it so that everyone understands."
Everyone in the room looked down, somber, varying degrees of shame on their faces.
Kirby roughly and quickly wiped his tears and snot off with his puffy sleeve, before turning to Sirius. "You go first; it began with you."
Before anyone could say anything, Kirby's piercing blue glance swept through the room, almost daring people to interrupt.
"I never sold out the Potters," Sirius began. "It was Peter Pettigrew."
Harry opened his mouth to retort, but Kirby's look — a straight blue stare right at him, through him — stopped him.
"We were friends in school— at least we thought we were. Everyone thought Peter was dead," Sirius continued, "But he was really just an unregistered Animagus. A rat"
A collective sharp gasp sounded through the room.
Kirby sighed in relief. The truth was out now, for sure.
Sirius continued. "There's even more proof. The map. Harry, you got it, didn't you? You saw the name Peter Pettigrew. The map never lies."
Remus stepped in. "I can confirm that. I'm one of the people who charmed it."
Sirius beamed at his old friend. "Peter was disguised as the Weasley family pet, Scabbers. I saw him in the newspapers, missing a finger, after all they found of him that night was a finger. I came to Hogwarts to kill Pettigrew," he finally said. "It was never to kill you, Harry. I could never kill the last remnant we have of James and Lily." He shook his head. "Plans changed though. It'll be better to let the dementors have him."
"Are you sure, Sirius?" Remus asked. "You must've wanted this for so long."
Sirius smiled, a tired, but happy smile. "I did. But now I've met Harry, and seen you again, and all I want is for this to end. I want to be free again. Ultimately though," Sirius pointed a too-thin finger at his godson, "Harry gets to decide. Do you want us to kill Peter? Or do you want him to go to the dementors?"
In the quiet explanation, they all had the chance to contemplate.
Ron remembered his letter. Scabbers.
His pet rat killed his best friend's parents.
Or rather, Peter Pettigrew killed his best friend's parents and then disguised as his pet. He had both a home and a position that would be advantageous if he ever decided to finish the job.
Ron felt sick.
Harry was put on the spot, but he didn't dislike it. He'd almost never been given the decision, and now…
He wanted so badly to let them kill Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew killed his parents, he deserved that and far worse.
But— Sirius. Sirius Black was his godfather, his only living family, now. And where would killing Peter Pettigrew land him? Back in Azkaban, for sure.
"Azkaban," Harry declared. "We'll bring him to Hogwarts and turn him over to the dementors."
Kirby could finally smile. Harry made a good choice, Severus wasn't doing anything yet, and Sirius had reunited with Remus. All that was left now was to bring Pettigrew to Hogwarts. And now that he had Pettigrew in the cage—
"The door's open," Kirby realized aloud. He must've forgotten to close it when everyone was shouting over each other and oh no, it was his fault now that Pettigrew had escaped, because he couldn't keep his emotions in check, couldn't stop himself from stepping in, lost sight of his goal and now…
"What?" Sirius asked.
"... the door's open, I didn't lock it," Kirby hesitantly reiterated. "I was stressed, everyone was shouting, I thought Harry and Hermione hated me and I thought he was already in the cage, I didn't remember that I didn't actually lock it yet, oh no, oh no, oh no oh no oh no," Kirby paced faster and faster circles into the ground. "This is my fault, he's escaped because of me, I need to find him!"
Sirius rushed outside, scouring the surroundings. No, no, no, Peter had to be long gone by now, running like the coward he was for his entire life.
Behind him, he barely heard the shout of "Stupefy!" before all he knew was black and he tumbled to the ground.
"Severus, what are you doing? You heard Sirius!" Remus was outraged. "You—"
"Be that as it may," Severus drawled, "he hasn't been pardoned yet, and without the proof that Peter" he spat the name like a curse, "is alive, he is still a wanted criminal that I am supposed to bring in."
"But Severus, the dementors will have him—"
"And they'll have you too if you continue to be an accomplice. Come quietly."
Remus opened his mouth to shoot back another retort, but suddenly closed it. "Right. Right."
"You can't be serious, Professor!" Hermione shouted. "Isn't he your friend?!"
While Remus offered empty placations to the students, Severus turned to Kirby, too young, too naive, too bright for any of this. Kirby looked so betrayed, something he was too used to seeing. But Kirby was needed for this plan too.
Truth be told, he didn't care what happened to Sirius. Sirius was his childhood tormentor, someone he'd had dreams of hexing several times over. He probably could avoid a lot of trouble with the brats if he just let Sirius find Peter with them. But for the sake of appearances, he couldn't be seen as an accomplice with Sirius. The man had all but sealed his fate by walking out of the Shrieking shack, the only place that had actual privacy.
Peter on the other hand...
Peter killed Lily.
But he couldn't do anything about it right now. All he could do was leave it in the hands of the students, with Granger, who had the time turner, and he hatedthat it was all he could do, but they had the best chance here, and Sirius had to. Nobody could be nearby when the kids used it, or there might be unintended effects.
"Kirby," he started.
But he was stopped by the child's face. No smile, no twinkling curious wide eyes, nothing but a cold glare, with wide open eyes that could see too much. The child— he had to remind himself this, Kirby was a child, about to cry when he was so much as glared at by Hermione and Harry, ready to have a meltdown while everyone was shouting— looked intimidating.
"Don't mess with the Star Warriors," the child spoke, and Snape knew there was so much more gravity behind those words than there appeared to be.
Severus faltered for a moment, but quickly composed himself. "Protect the children," he said as smoothly as he could, denying in his mind that the way Kirby's face had smoothed back into something neutral brought him any relief. (It did. The absence of a smile on the child's face was always unsettling.)
Kirby nodded, resolute and confident.
"When the time comes," Severus added, "Astra Knight may be able to help Black."
Kirby's eyes widened. He knew what that meant.
Severus didn't care what happened to Sirius… but Kirby did, and if giving him a hint would help him, Severus didn't mind doing so.
When had Kirby grown on him so much?
Too much was happening at once, Ron found. First, it had been the Shrieking Shack, then it'd turned into Sirius Black, then Pettigrew's escape, and now…
"We have to save Sirius!" Harry shouted. Ron knew exactly what saving Sirius meant to him. If what Harry had told them was true, Sirius was Harry's only living family, Harry's only chance of getting away from the Dursleys, and Ron was reserving judgement on the man for now, but for Harry's sake…
Kirby walked over then, seemingly deep in thought. It was again, unsettling to see the lack of a smile on Kirby's face. It just really added to the gravity of the situation.
As soon as he was close enough though, Kirby looked at them with deeply apologetic eyes, and Harry and Hermione remembered. Kirby said he thought they hated him. And from the way he kept twiddling his thumbs and biting his lip and fidgeting, he probably still did.
They all felt a pang of guilt.
"Um, about earlier, Kirby… we're sorry for jumping to conclusions," Hermione apologized, ever the peacemaker.
Kirby's eyes brightened, and they weren't sure how fake or genuine it was. Kirby, with his usual cheer, spoke. "It's fine. For now, we need to focus on getting Pettigrew."
And he was right.
Hermione recalled her letter.
The time turner. It would be breaking rules to use it here… but what better choice did they have? It was this or let Sirius receive the Dementor's kiss.
"Guys… I may have a way."
Of course Hermione had a time turner. Ron thought those were urban legends! Even Percy hadn't gotten one. Hermione really was amazing.
Hermione held up the locket watch. "It's a time turner," she explained. "We can go back a few hours, change things to happen our way."
Harry grinned. "That's brilliant! We can go back and catch Pettigrew before he runs then!"
Hermione nodded, confident. "We'll need to be positioned just-right though. We can't be spotted by our past selves; it's taboo. Supposedly messes up the continuity."
Ron hummed. "We can't be spotted. Can we write letters then? Because if we all knew this before, none of this would've happened, I think."
They all stared at each other.
"Letters!" they shouted in unison.
"So that's what they were!" Ron said. "But then that means anything we change will have already happened. We'll have to be careful, otherwise things will change again!"
"Right, so all the letters we write need to be identical to the ones we received already," Harry deduced.
Hermione sensed an odd loop. "But if we already got the letters and we're writing them again now, then originally, what got us to wrote letters? Has everything already happened before? Has this happened multiple times already?" She put her head in her hands. "What if I've broken the rules already? I can't tell where on the continuum our plans are starting! What if—"
Ron clapped a hand on her shoulder. "Hermione, now's not the time! It doesn't matter. We write the letters and then we see how it goes, okay?"
Hermione still looked frazzled. But she nodded nonetheless.
They tried their best to recall what had been written on their papers, and when their (coincidentally identical) letters were finally finished, Hermione stood them all behind some stones close to the Whomping Willow. Nobody was supposed to see them, so they had to be discreet about this. After their past selves got into the shack, they'd quickly take position outside the tree to catch Pettigrew.
Kirby stayed mostly silent during the entire planning process while Ron, Hermione, and Harry bounced ideas off of each other. Time was a fickle thing, he knew.
Hermione noticed Kirby's uneasiness as she pulled out the time turner again, extending the chain to wrap around all four of them— it was a bit of a squeeze, but would barely work. "You alright, Kirby?"
Kirby nodded as much as he could, squished between all of them. He was the shortest, so it was easiest for him to be in the center. It was times like this that he disliked his stature. But Hermione was probably asking about the way Kirby kept eyeing the tiny clock.
"Bad experiences with clockwork," Kirby muttered. "Story for another time." Because really, it was a bit irrational of Kirby to be like this, considering NOVA was as big as a planet and so was Star Dream. But you never could be too safe with the Ancients, considering all the things they made.
The trio looked at him oddly, but soon, with two flicks, they were absorbed by their surroundings. The clouds flew by, morphing and forming and fading, while the sun flickered in and out of view behind them. People nearby zoomed past, animals appearing sometimes and disappearing with the blink of an eye. Everything went backwards, backwards, backwards…
The sun was high in the sky, twilight on the horizon but not quite there yet.
They waited. They needed to deliver the letters; that's where things started for them.
It was a mostly quiet affair.
They shushed him immediately, but nobody was watching anyways, so they sat down and talked.
"What were you doing when you were away for those two months anyways, Kirby?"
Kirby put a contemplative expression on his face, a finger raised to his chin. "You'll figure out soon enough," he answered finally. If what Severus said was true and Kirby could actually use the Star Warriors' diplomatic influence here…
When the time came, they threw the letters out as paper airplanes. And when the trio headed in, the trio plus one pink-haired child stepped out from behind the rocky outcrop, right to the entrance of the shack.
Hermione had the wonderful idea that a human transfigured into a rat was still a human, and thus Petrificus Totalus should theoretically work.
None of them had any illusions about their aim though. They'd gotten a good amount of practical lessons in Professor Lupin's class this year… but was it enough to hit a small rodent at high speeds?
The brown fur came into view of Ron's lumos spell, and it began.
Peter Pettigrew ran like… well, a rat. He scurried in zig-zagged lines, every which way, dodging the beams of light that targeted him; ran up, down, left, right, and apparently up again.
Straight into Kirby's pocket.
See, Jamba magic worked in mysterious ways. Once it touched him once, it imprinted. To a true friend, it wouldn't matter. The artificial bond would be nothing compared to the strength and solidity of a true one. It would fade with time, eventually smothered.
But once an artificial bond was made, if nothing else happened, it stayed. It may fade, it may shift, it may tangle. But if the user wished it, it would rekindle, rising from its remnants once again.
Jamba magic was something Kirby hated for how easily it controlled people, made people unthinkingly follow him when all he wanted to be was friends with them.
But right now, as Kirby pulled the shaking rat out of his pocket, three wands trained on it and incantations on the tips of their tongues, he was beyond grateful for it.
The aurors had already arrived by the time they got back to the school. They had to find where the aurors were keeping Sirius Black and talking with Dumbledore, now. Harry cursed. He should've asked Lupin for the map back; he could've easily just looked for the name.
But of course it wasn't that easy, so they decided to split up. And loathe as they were to leave Pettigrew with Kirby, they had to admit that it was probably their best chance. It was unlikely that Pettigrew would run from Kirby after willingly running to Kirby after all.
After scouring the hallways, Harry finally heard the unfamiliar voices, adults, conversing with McGonagall, Lupin, Snape, and Dumbledore in one of the unused classrooms. Was that Fudge in the center, speaking?
Sirius was being held in one of the rooms, charmed and warded against escape and destruction. He was safe for now.
Heart pounding in his chest, Harry ran back to where Kirby waited. There was no time to see if Ron or Harry had returned yet, but they needed to show everyone that Pettigrew was alive as soon as possible.
Kirby was unfazed when Harry roughly grabbed his arm and pulled him along the path through hallways, corridors, on a flight of stairs.
And when they finally reached the room, Harry, arms shaking with exhaustion, reached to slam the doors open.
Kirby stopped him. Kirby's bright blue eyes almost seemed to glow in the night, as he trained them intently on the door.
Harry watched as Kirby took a deep breath, replacing the bright and childish smile on his face with something more serene. It was like watching Kirby adopt another persona, so unnatural to see that Harry stopped in his tracks entirely.
Kirby, one hand still holding onto Pettigrew, pushed the door open.
Fudge had to stop speaking when the door opened. Was another professor stepping in? No, it was just a bright-pink-haired child with bright blue eyes and a triumphant smile on his face. He couldn't have been more than 10— maybe even 8 or 9, judging by his height and the baby-fat on his cheeks. Despite this, there was an unsettling maturity about his gaze.
He wondered what such a young child was doing in the school, but business was business, and couldn't be stopped for a random wandering kid.
"Excuse me,"Fudge said. "We're in the middle of an important conversation. Why don't you go play somewhere else, son?"
To his surprise, none of the professors said anything about the child's presence. Some looked like they had something to say, namely the tired-looking one, Lupin, wasn't it? But held their tongue.
"I am sorry to interrupt, Mr. Cornelius Fudge. Minister of Magic, right?"
The formal language threw him for a loop, despite the child's high-pitched and youthful voice. "Why, er, yes—"
"My name is Astra Knight," the child introduced, and for a moment, Fudge's breathing hitched. It had to be a coincidence, yes, the naming pattern didn't necessarily mean that he was a Star Warrior or Knight—
"Star Warrior of the First Order, Protector of Worlds. I have absolute proof that Sirius Black is innocent."
The Star Warriors were a peculiar existence.
They came and went as they pleased. They followed chivalrous codes and all considered themselves Knights.
And in their wake, two things could arise. Great destruction, or great protection. Their only claim to their title came from the power of their blade, and their Ancients-bestowed Warp Stars. Eventually, they organized into what became known over the universe as the Star Warrior Association, the elite division of a great intergalactic army, the Galactic Soldier Army.
Their influence spread far and wide, to any planet accessible to them, thanks to millions of years of networking, diplomatic interactions, the likes.
Earth was no stranger. The Star Warriors were a well-kept secret in both Muggle and Magical governments, but they were there.
The last time one came was over a century ago.
Why did one have to come during Fudge's term as Minister of Magic?
What was a Star Warrior, Harry wondered? Why did he introduce himself as Astra Knight?
Just who was Kirby?
The mystery arose again.
:D Derailing canon!
Here we go! This is where things get started
I can't believe I wrote 10k for this? Holy cow, I didn't expect to write that much
Anyways, this chapter was meant to close up the Prisoner of Azkaban part, and introduce Kirby as a Star Warrior. Remember the Knighting he mentions to Sirius in the last chapter? He left over the few months for that, and came back with the full support of an actual military behind him. The next years are going to play with the consequences of Kirby interfering with other worlds' problems. I'm really excited for this!
I also tried my best to flesh out Kirby's Jamba heart ability in Star Allies here. I hope you enjoyed it!