Sunward They Climb

A/N

Here is the next instalment for you guys here :)

Please do enjoy, and for those that wish to read ahead (I have just posted chapter 25 on my website) see earlier chapters for instructions on how to do that.

Anyway, do follow, favourite, and review.

TBR

With Abraxus not having returned to the dungeons the previous day, Arcturus had assumed that the injuries he had sustained had warranted him spending the night in the hospital wing, but seeing the pale boy emerge from his room as he usually did, though certainly not so smugly, put pause to those thoughts.

He did not look happy. If anything, his pale skin and rather subdued demeanour only raised questions.

Arcturus knew that Lord Malfoy had been in the castle yesterday, but what had happened for Abraxus to not return to gloat to his housemates at having Evans punished? Why hadn't he come to sing the praises of his father's superiority.

"Abraxus!" Parkinson greeted him, wincing as he stood from his seat next to the fire.

Arcturus fought the urge to smirk at the boys' discomfort and pretended to read his potions textbook.

"So, what happened? Has he been expelled?" Stebbins asked.

Abraxus shook his head and those that had stupidly been following his lead groaned like the spoiled children they were.

"Then we get him back ourselves!" Bulstrode declared loudly.

"No," Abraxus said sharply, cutting off the cheers of his housemates. "Evans is off limits."

Arcturus was listening intently now.

"Why is he off limits?" Parkinson demanded.

"Because Evans uncle is Nicholas Flamel," Abraxus huffed.

Arcturus frowned as the rest of Malfoy's lackeys stared dumbly at the blonde.

"Flamel?" Parkinson questioned. "Are you sure about that?"

Abraxus nodded.

"He and his wife arrived in Dippet's office when I was there with my father. He made it clear that Evans is his nephew and that he will not tolerate any more attempts against him."

"And you're going to listen to that old sod?" Bulstrode snorted.

Abraxus snarled as he seized the larger boy by the front of the robes and pulled him close enough that their noses were almost touching.

"If Flamel can cow my father with the knowledge he has, what do you think he would do to yours?" he spat. "Evans is off limits. I will not risk my family legacy for him. Gold is powerful, Bulstrode, but knowledge is the true power. Even the wealthiest cannot hide their secrets from someone like Flamel. He created a bloody stone that will keep him alive forever, and he knows things that no other living person does. Do you want to risk going up against that?"

Parkinson laughed as Malfoy shoved Bulstrode away.

"If your family did not keep so many secrets, you wouldn't be in this position," he pointed out. "I'm not going to let Evans get away with what he did to me."

"Me either," Bulstrode grumbled, and Arcturus could only shake his head at the amount of stupidity his housemates were riddled with.

It would be unwise to oppose Flamel. The man was a living legend with over six centuries of knowledge.

Only a fool would make an enemy of him.

"I'm not saying we have to stop what we are doing," Abraxus spoke once more, "just that Evans must be left out of it. For now, at least."

And there was the politician in the boy.

Arcturus said nothing to quell the ridiculous looks of realisation the other Slytherins now wore.

Evans was safe, but the rest of the Gryffindors weren't.

Arcturus had suspected that the newest addition to the house of the lions was only a scapegoat for Malfoy wanting to renew the feud between the oldest adversaries Hogwarts had, and now he had his proof.

Once more, he would need to speak to Potter to inform him of the latest development, the scowl he aimed at his peers speaking volumes of the irritation he felt towards them as they exited the dungeons.

"Evans is a Flamel?" Dorea whispered from next to him.

"Apparently so," Arcturus replied thoughtfully. "That makes him just about the most influential person in this castle."

"Even more than you?" Dorea questioned amusedly.

Arcturus nodded.

"Our family name is synonymous with many things in Britain, our reputation forged through politics and the magic we are known to practice," he explained. "The Flamel's reputation is renowned across the magical world, across six centuries for their brilliance in many fields. Essentially, Harry Evans has all of that brilliance, and all of that knowledge at his disposal. Just think of magical knowledge alone the family has accumulated."

"Seems like a bad person to be on the wrong side of," Dorea pointed out.

"He is," Arcturus agreed, "and the right person to be on good terms with."

"Even if he is a half-blood?"

Arcturus snorted.

"Evans could be a mudblood-squib relative of the Flamels and worth being on good terms with. It just so happens that he is not and is already proving himself to be quite the wizard."

Dorea nodded.

"What happened yesterday?" she whispered. "I tried to listen in on them yesterday, but they didn't say much. They just sulked until they went to bed."

"Evans wiped the floor with Stebbins, Parkinson, and Malfoy one after the other," Arcturus explained with a grin. "He's no slouch, Dorea. That will just make him more desirable to everyone."

"What about Grindelwald?"

Arcturus frowned at the question.

"I suppose it could," he muttered uncertainly.

"Then if father…"

Arcturus held up a hand to silence the girl.

"I will not side with Grindelwald," he assured her. "Magical Britain will not side with him, even if father does."

"How can you be sure?"

"Because I will do whatever is necessary to prevent it. I made a promise to mother the day we buried her that I would keep you safe. If Grindelwald makes it here, I may not be able to keep it."

Dorea offered him a sad smile.

"I'm sorry," she offered.

"For what?"

"For making your life difficult."

Arcturus shook his head firmly as he took his sister's hand.

"You have never made my life difficult. It is father doing that now, but I will not go back on my promise. No matter what, I will keep you safe."

"I know," Dorea replied gratefully, "but if you're going to do that, shouldn't you be eating breakfast?"

Arcturus smirked at his sister.

"Yes, mother," he sighed, receiving an unimpressed glare and slap on the arm from the girl before she led them from the common room.

(Break)

Having the Flamels come to his aide had been an unexpected turn of events. Harry had been willing to deal with whatever repercussions Lord Malfoy may have tried to exact upon him, but it had proven unnecessary. It had even been him that had received an apology, albeit one given grudgingly and without meaning.

The thought made him chuckle to himself.

"So, are you going to tell us what happened yesterday?" Charlus questioned.

The amusement Harry had felt all but vanished at the question.

How could he explain it? Would his friends be angry that he hadn't mentioned his relationship with the Flamels?

"I'm interested to hear it myself," Tiberius broke in, no worse for wear from his duel with Frank the previous day. "Malfoy Senior would have done everything he could to have you kicked out."

"He did," Harry confirmed, "but as Dippet explained, he hasn't got any say on what happens here."

"And he just accepted that?" Charlus pressed.

"Not exactly," Harry replied awkwardly. "My uncle and aunt arrived."

Charlus frowned questioningly, gesturing for him to continue and Harry released a deep sigh knowing the subject could no longer be avoided.

Malfoy would certainly have told his housemates about what happened, if only to somewhat save face for the influence of his father to being lacking when it came to dealing with Nicholas and Perenelle.

"My uncle told him to piss off," he continued.

"Bloody hell," Tiberius laughed. "Your uncle either has a pair of brass ones on him, or he's Merlin."

"Maybe he's insane?" Augusta interjected.

"He's definitely that," Harry snorted amusedly.

"So, who is he?" Augusta pressed. "You wouldn't be sat here eating breakfast with us now if he hadn't have gotten away with it."

It was at this moment that the older Slytherin students chose to enter the Great Hall, each of them looking at him in a mix of loathing and apprehension.

Malfoy had definitely revealed the truth of the matter.

"My Uncle is Nicholas Flamel," Harry explained, not wanting his friends to hear the information from any other.

Silence followed his statement whilst his housemates gaped at him for several moments.

"Flamel?" Tiberius choked. "As in the old geezer who made the philosopher's stone? Pull the other one, Harry."

"Your uncle Nicholas," Charlus whispered. "You went to visit him on Boxing Day."

Harry nodded.

"Bloody hell," Charlus muttered. "I can see why you'd keep that to yourself. Everyone will be queuing up to kiss your arse."

"You mean, he's telling the truth?"

"It would be a big lie to tell," Augusta huffed. "I suppose you kept it to yourself to avoid all this," she added, gesturing to the other dumbfounded Gryffindors. "I don't blame you, but you're still a prat."

"Thanks," Harry replied dryly.

"It doesn't change anything for me," Poppy piped up. "Augusta's right, you're still the same prat."

"Anyone else want to call me a prat?"

"Definitely a prat," Ogden replied with a wink.

"We all have our secrets," Charlus said simply, and Harry released a relieved sigh as he turned his attention to Minerva who offered him a smile.

"Come on," Tiberius urged. "We've got potions first, and the Quidditch match to look forward to on Saturday."

Charlus and Harry both groaned.

Slughorn was a great Professor, but he could not instil any passion within either of them for the subject.

Twice a week for two hours, they would muddle their way through their concoctions, sometimes producing something passable, and others something that resembled a pool of sludge in the bottom of their cauldrons.

Still, Harry was spending time with a member of his family who was evidently as dismal as him in the subject, so he wasn't going to complain too much.

"Why does the Quidditch season start so late in the year here?" he asked Minerva.

"Was it different where you came from?" she asked quietly.

Harry nodded.

"It started in October."

Minerva merely shrugged.

"Maybe because the weather is a little better after Christmas," she replied thoughtfully. "There have been some appeals over the years to change it to reflect the national league so any student who is thinking about playing professionally can get used to the conditions."

"That makes sense," Harry mused aloud. "Are you nervous?"

Minerva shook her head.

"Of course, she isn't," Tiberius broke in, wrapping an arm around Harry's shoulder. "I think Minnie is looking forward to seeing how well she can handle your broom, Evans."

Minerva growled and drew her wand, but Tiberius was already running away, laughing uproariously as he was pursued by the irritated Scot.

Harry could only shake his head.

No matter how many times Ogden was cursed or jinxed, he would never learn to keep his mouth shut.

Perhaps he was an idiot?

Harry shook his head.

No, Tiberius Ogden was simply a glutton for punishment.

(Break)

"Lord Black!" the man greeted him enthusiastically.

Orion frowned as he peered at this odd, almost ethereal being as he approached.

Grindelwald was the palest person he had ever seen, his white hair only slightly duller than his skin, and his eyes such a bright blue that they were nearly white themselves.

He looked like a ghost, and Orion was tempted to reach out and touch him just to be certain he wasn't.

"You requested my presence?" he asked. "I do not like leaving my country, and certainly not to come to a shithole like Germany."

Grindelwald was unfazed by his grumbling, the toothy grin he wore unwavering.

"Believe me, it is not my favourite place to be either," he replied as he took a seat on the opposite side of the large glass table and poured himself a generous helping of tea. "Germany merely offers me a place I can operate without being bothered. My heart very much belongs to England," he added, placing a hand on his chest.

Orion grunted, unimpressed by the man thus far.

"Where is my son?" he demanded.

The smile of his associate remained as bright as ever.

"Perseus will join us shortly. He is running an important errand."

Orion snorted derisively.

"From the heir to the greatest house in the land to an errand boy. My he has made something of himself."

"No, no, no," Grindelwald returned with a disappointed shake of his head. "Perseus is much more than an errand boy, Lord Black. He is amongst my most trusted, and valuable supporters. Perhaps I should have chosen my words more carefully. He is completing a very important task on my behalf."

"And my daughter?"

"Ah, now Cassiopeia is currently conducting business in Romania, a most vital undertaking that I would trust only her with," Grindelwald explained. "Your son and daughter are a credit to you, Lord Black, and they are held in the highest esteem and treated with the utmost respect amongst my followers, that I can assure."

Orion nodded appreciatively.

"I would expect nothing less," he replied.

The smile given to him was warm and welcoming.

Orion did not like it, but the man appeared to be genuine with his words.

"And how is it that I can serve you?" he questioned. "That is what you want, isn't it? For me to become one of those that will fall to their knees before you."

Grindelwald laughed heartily before shaking his head.

"Lord Black, I think that you are mistaking my intentions. Have you been listening to the rather unflattering rumours about me? Or maybe you have been reading the lies printed in the world's media?"

Orion frowned petulantly at the man.

He did not like being spoken to in such a condescending way, but this oddly pale man continued before he could offer a rebuttal.

"The are those that would have you believe that I wish to subjugate a gathering of people so that I may seize power, that I can claim power that does not belong to me. They are wrong, Lord Black. I wish to subjugate no one. I want to set them free."

"Set them free?" Orion asked sceptically.

"Of course," Grindelwald answered. "I envision a world that belongs to our kind, Lord Black, one where we have no need to hide from those that do not share our ability, one where they look to us for guidance as their betters."

"You mean to subjugate the muggles?"

"I like to think of it as those with magic shepherding those without, for the greater good."

"The greater good?"

Grindelwald nodded.

"Do you not see the damage they do to our world? The wars, the fighting? Irreversible damage has already been done, and the next war they start will be the worst yet. They do not have magic, but their own weaponry is devastating. The longer they are left to their ways, the worse the damage will become. Perhaps a demonstration would suffice?"

Orion gestured for the man to continue, admittedly intrigued by what he was saying.

He watched as a slew of images played out in front of him, projected from the tip of a wand as pale as its' wielders skin.

Odd, enormous vehicles fired what he would compare to powerful blasting curses, muggle planes like the ones that had begun to appear over Grimmauld place in recent years dropping constructs that caused equal damage as they hit the ground, destroying everything in the immediate area.

When the images faded, Orion found that he was leaning forward in his chair, his head shaking.

"Is this real?"

"As real as the magic that we ourselves have been gifted," Grindelwald replied severely, his prevalent smile now absent.

"What are they?" Orion asked, "those big metal things."

"The muggles call them tanks. They are large vehicles that several of them can hide inside at once and fire the projectiles you saw. They are quite concerning. For decades, the muggles have been developing them."

Orion chuckled.

"Even so, they are no match for us."

"For the most part, you are correct," Grindelwald agreed, "but they are to the world we share with them. Their ways of war must be stopped."

"So, you wish to what? Enslave them?"

Grindelwald shook his head.

"Nothing of the sort. I merely wish for them to know of us, so that we can find a way for us to live harmoniously amongst one another with no cause for us to hide from them."

"That's it?"

"In its simplest of explanation."

Orion frowned, another question on the tip of his tongue, though it never came forth.

He was distracted by the door opening and his eldest son entering the room, his posture full of pride as his father looked upon him.

"Perseus!" Orion greeted him, standing, and pulling the man into his arms. "I thought…"

"I'm fine, father," Perseus assured him. "I am well and supporting a worthy cause. Do you understand what it is we are facing?"

Orion nodded.

"Mr Grindelwald has made it quite clear," Orion replied, his doubts assuaged by the arrival of his boy.

"Then you understand why I am here. Violence amongst the muggles is coming, father, and we must be prepared to prevent."

"How will you do that?"

"I fear that we cannot," Grindelwald broke in sadly. "The muggles are already on the cusp of war amongst themselves, a war of the likes the world has ever seen. For the most part, my efforts have failed, but there is still hope."

"Still hope?" Orion asked.

Grindelwald nodded.

"That we can sway the war in favour of one side to ensure that the conflict is ended quickly, with minimal impact."

Orion shook his head.

"You cannot interfere in the affairs of muggles," he pointed out. "The International Statute of Secrecy…"

"Will mean nothing if we do not," Perseus broke in. "This war will happen no matter what we do. The best we can hope for is that it is not drawn out longer than necessary."

Orion shook his head once more.

"No, the ICW, the Ministry of all the countries involved will not allow it," he muttered. "It will cause an international incident."

"That I will be well-equipped to deal with," Grindelwald assured him. "War is coming, Lord Black, and though I wish it was not so, it is now unavoidable. I am willing to fight and die for my cause, as are those that understand just how important our movement is. The question I put to you is, having seen what you have, are you to allow the muggles to destroy our world? Do you not think that it is our duty to protect it from them?"

The man's gaze was burning into his own, and Orion could only see those eerily blue eyes full of passion, and his words determination, truth even.

He had seen what was coming. It did not sit right with him, and if the muggles or the Ministry's would not act to prevent it, then someone had to.

It appeared that this man had taken it upon himself to do so.

He may not trust this Grindelwald, but he trusted his son.

Perseus was of his blood.

Why would he lie to him?

(Break)

It was a dreary Saturday morning that Harry found himself stood in the Gryffindor stands along with Tiberius, Poppy, and Augusta for the first match of the Quidditch season.

Hufflepuff were their opponents today, another change to the schedule that Harry had become accustomed to since his first year at Hogwarts. Usually, Slytherin and Gryffindor would play, though it would be back in October.

It made little difference, particularly where the weather was concerned. It was as dull and windy as it had been in earlier in the school year.

"Minnie is really excited to try her broom in a real match," Poppy announced.

"And Charlus is worried he won't be able to keep up with her," Tiberius chuckled.

"His broom isn't much slower than hers," Harry pointed out. "He'll be fine as long as he stays on the outside of her, it's the Hufflepuff chasers that should be worried. She will fly rings around them."

"Oh, and when did you become a Quidditch expert?" Tiberius asked pointedly.

"About the same time you became one in talking to girls."

Augusta and Poppy laughed whilst Ogden narrowed his eyes at Harry.

"Fair point," he conceded with a grumble.

"Shh, they're coming," Poppy announced, nodding towards the tunnel the teams were emerging from.

Minerva streaked ahead of the rest of the players, which Harry found odd to observe since the brooms he was used to were considerably faster. Even the dog-eared school ones had been.

Still, he was looking forward to watching a Quidditch match. The first and only had been the World Cup final before fourth year, though this one proved to be frustratingly slow in comparison.

From the start, the Gryffindor chasers; Minerva, Charlus, and a seventh year that hung around with McLaggen dominated their portion of the game.

With the Hufflepuff chasers unable to keep up with the former of the trio, they pulled ahead by fifty points to zero before the Gryffindor seeker caught sight of the Snitch.

He didn't catch it.

The Opposing Hufflepuff managed to intervene before Giles Blackburn could close the distance between himself and the small, golden ball, eliciting a groan from those clad in red and gold.

"Blackburn needs to fly higher," Harry sighed. "The Hufflepuff seeker is stronger than him. He needs to outfly him."

Ogden raised an eyebrow at him but did not comment and Harry turned his attention back to the frustratingly pedestrian game where the Gryffindor chasers continued with their form.

After another hour of play, they were 120 points ahead, though there was no sign of the game coming to an end any time soon.

Blackburn had spotted the snitch twice more but had been bullied off the path by the Hufflepuff seeker as Harry had expected.

If he couldn't catch it, and the other boy did, the work of the chasers would have been for nothing.

"Bloody hell, is he always this useless?"

"And you can do better?" Tiberius asked.

"Definitely," Harry muttered quietly enough that his comment went unheard.

"He's not that bad," Ogden defended. "He usually catches it in the end."

"He should have caught it almost an hour ago," Harry replied. "He won't win the way he is going."

Ogden laughed.

"I didn't know you were such a big Quidditch fan."

Harry shrugged.

"I don't mind it."

He didn't, but he was finding himself less of a fan simply because of the pace of the game. To him, Quidditch had always been a frantic and urgent sport where if you even blinked at the wrong time, the game could be lost.

At this speed, there was no danger of that, and he found that watching, let alone playing appealed little to him.

"Doesn't she look fantastic on her broom?" Poppy broke into his thoughts. "She looks really happy."

Harry turned his attention to Minerva, the smile she wore proving to be contagious as his own lips curled into one.

"She does," he agreed, not noticing the look that Augusta and Poppy shared. "Oh, he's seen it again. If he misses this, then I'm going to pitch a tent here because he won't ever catch it."

Tiberius shook his head amusedly, and much to Harry's relief, Blackburn did catch the snitch, the roar of the crowd drowning out his sigh of relief.

It had been a painful, and frustrating experience, the highlight of the match being how well the three Gryffindor chasers had played, but he felt better seeing Minerva rushing towards them with her broom in hand, smiling brightly.

Much to his surprise, she wrapped her arms around him and placed a kiss on his cheek.

"Thank you," she said excitedly. "This broom is brilliant."

Harry could only look on in bemusement as she all but skipped away towards the changing rooms.

"Looks like Minnie has a new favourite person," Ogden snorted. "I think you made her year with that gift."

She deserved it.

She was keeping a burdening secret, and though she hadn't said as much, Harry knew that it often weighed heavily on the girl who likely wanted to ask him questions that he promised he would not answer.

Not that he didn't want to.

As far as he knew, Minerva McGonagall had gone on to live a fulfilling life, one where she had helped countless children over several decades, and he did not want anything he said to change that.

She was born to be a professor, and he would see her do so again.

"Come on, Evans. Stop staring at her and move your arse. She'll be in the common room soon enough to celebrate."

Harry frowned at Tiberius as he followed him.

It seemed as though the boy was getting the wrong idea, though it was not like Harry could correct him as to why he was staring.

With a shake of his head, he ignored the comment.

Ogden would never be able to understand what he and the Scot had bonded over, well, not the primary reason at least.

They had bonded over many things over the months he had known her.

(Break)

Dear Arcturus,

This is a dangerous letter to write.

It is only because I hold you in such high esteem that I would risk doing so.

Although there is little I can tell you for certain, the rumours that trickle in here do not bode well for what is to come.

People are disappearing Arcturus. Whether they are going to ground to avoid being targeted or they already have, I cannot be sure, but there are several students here that did not return after Christmas, and their families have not been heard from in some time.

These are important people too, not just anybody.

My own family are even considering bringing me home.

That alone should tell you all you need to know.

Bulgaria, if these rumours are to be believed, has fallen to him. Not officially, of course. I am worried, my friend, and you should be too. It is only a small stretch of water that separates you from what is happening here, but when he is ready, I have no doubt that he will move on Britain also.

I wish there was more that I could tell you, but there isn't.

Things on the continent are tense, and people are starting to choose sides. War is coming, Arcturus, I have no doubt about that.

Take care of yours and know that my thoughts are with you.

For now, I would avoid places like Germany, and Romania. They seem to be having it worse than others right now. This is the latest I have heard, this news coming from a very reliable source.

Your friend,

M

Arcturus released a deep, the missive from his old childhood friend Mario Zabini only making the sting of the one received from his father worse. The boy was at Durmstrang, though the Black heir had no doubt he was currently regretting his decision to not join him at Hogwarts.

He turned his attention back to the second letter and shook his head as he read it once more.

To my son,

Your brother is well.

His position is most excellent, and I think you would be proud of him.

I met with the man who sought an audience with me, and I must say, I am glad that I did.

He and Perseus showed me things that I cannot ignore, that if left unchecked could threaten our very way of life.

As the Lord Black, I cannot allow that. We must do all we can to help him!

This man who has asked me not to use his name is quite something, loved by those that know the truth, and one that inspires loyalty.

I would like you to show the same loyalty that your brother has. When you have finished school, you will have the opportunity to meet him as my heir.

He will show you what is coming, and you too will understand why we must not be idle.

Sit tight and allow me to handle things for the time being.

You will be given your chance to shine and assist me in paving the way to greatness, not only for the Blacks, but the entirety of Great Britain.

Orion Black

Lord of House Black

Arcturus had known his fathers mind had been fading, but he had now taken to rambling in his written words as well as when he spoke.

Grindelwald would have had an easy job convincing his father of whatever he wished to, his addled brain no longer the sharp and intuitive one it had been.

What bothered him most was that Perseus would have seen the changes within their father and did nothing to prevent him being taken advantage of.

His elder brother had been indoctrinated into Grindelwald's way of thinking, had loyalty only for the man he had chosen to follow, and Arcturus was disappointed in him.

He snorted as he threw the letters in the fire.

Grindelwald would not gain his support.

With what little he had learned from Mario, it would be the manipulative man that would instigate a war amongst the magical population, and Arcturus would not follow in his father's and brother's footsteps.

His priority was keeping Dorea safe.

He frowned at the thought of his sister, not having seen her since breakfast where she had joined the very few Slytherins that had filed out of the Great Hall to watch the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.

"Greengrass, have you seen my sister?" he asked his housemate, the boy being one of those that attended the game.

"She said she was going to the library," Greengrass replied. "Something about Charms homework that needed finishing."

Arcturus nodded gratefully.

That was nothing unusual. Dorea often spent a lot of her free time in the library, or the Hospital Wing. She had ambitions of becoming a healer, though Arcturus doubted their father would be thrilled by the idea.

Not that he would notice.

Orion Black had paid very little attention to his daughter since his wife had passed away, the girl very much like her mother. So much so, that he could barely stand to look at her.

He had never said as much, but he did nothing to hide it.

The only time he would acknowledge her was when he remembered that in only a couple of years, she would be of marrying age and that he could find her what he deemed to be a suitable husband.

To Arcturus, no one Orion would choose for her would be worthy.

He shook his head of those thoughts.

There were much more imminent things that he needed to focus on.

He didn't know what he could do about his father, nor was there anything short of killing him that would solve the problems the man presented, but Arcturus knew that he could not bring himself to do that.

There was nothing worse than being a kin slayer, and as much as Orion Black had changed, the memories of him being a doting father to all his children were not easily forgotten.

For only the second time in his life, Arcturus felt lost and helpless.

He had only felt such a way when his mother had passed. Even when Perseus and Cassiopeia had left, he had managed, and though it would be daunting to do so with what was on the horizon, he would do so again.

Dorea needed him, and the family legacy would too one day.

He could only hope that his father, and older brother and sister did not damage it beyond repair with what they were doing.

(Break)

The festivities were well underway in the Gryffindor common room, the victory of the Quidditch team leaving the entire house in high spirits, though it was not like Harry remembered.

Something was missing, and it wasn't until he felt his stomach rumbled that he realised what it was.

He'd caught sight of Prewett across the other side of the common room, and his thoughts had drifted to the redheads that would one day become his relatives.

The twins.

After every victory, the twins would venture to the kitchen to bring food and butterbeer to the common room for the celebrations.

There was a lack of them here.

"Where's McLaggen and his lot?" Ogden asked.

"They'll try to sneak into Hogsmeade, as always," Charlus snorted. "They'll be in detention within the next hour."

"I don't know," Poppy interjected. "Twycross reckons he's got a tip on a shortcut through that humpbacked witch statue on the third floor. I heard him say that he needed to work out the password."

Harry, unbeknownst to the others grinned to himself.

He knew the statue well, and the password. He had used it during his third year when he did not have permission to visit the village.

"Come on, Charlus, you can give me a hand," he decided, standing from his place by the fire.

"With what?"

"A trip to the kitchens," Harry replied. "We haven't had lunch and I think we could all do with something."

"The kitchens? You know where the kitchens are?"

Harry frowned.

"Don't you?"

Charlus shook his head.

"I don't think anyone does. How did you find them?"

"From exploring."

Charlus shot a look to Ogden who shrugged.

"Well, if you know where they are?" he questioned sceptically

"I'll show you," Harry offered. "Don't worry, I'll take the rest of you next time."

Tiberius nodded.

"Bring me a sandwich," he yawned, sinking back into his seat. "Bugger the walk anyway, it's warm in here."

Charlus chuckled as he followed Harry through the portrait hole.

"You really do know where they are, don't you?"

"I do," Harry confirmed once more. "And you will too soon enough."

Charlus nodded appreciatively and frowned as they neared the library only two flights of stairs below them.

"What is that?" he asked, drawing his wand as they rounded the corner.

"You stupid bint. It was your lot that started all this again, and now you've spilled ink all over my shoes."

"You knocked into me!" the girl clad in silver and green trimmed robes fired back.

Harry recognised her immediately, and the seventh year Gryffindors that were absent from the common room.

McLaggen seized a fistful of the girl's hair, sending the pile of books she had been carrying tumbling to the floor.

"Apologise!" he demanded.

The girl whimpered, and McLaggen screamed as Charlus's spell collided with his leg, the snapping sound leaving no doubt what had been done to it.

Harry followed suit, gently pushing Dorea Black aside with a banishing charm before cursing Blackburn as he and two of the group turned on Charlus.

The Gryffindor seeker howled as he dropped his wand and grabbed at the laceration on his shoulder courtesy of the spell.

"What the fuck are you doing, Evans?" one of the boys Harry did not recognise demanded. "They attacked you first!"

"She didn't," Charlus snapped. "Now you lot had better piss off before I really lose my temper with you."

The Potter heir was furious, and for a moment, Harry thought the remaining seventh year boys would try their luck with him, but they didn't.

Helping up a groaning McLaggen and Blackburn, they took their leave, shooting the two of them a final glare as they did so.

"Are you okay, Miss Black?" Charlus asked gently as he approached the girl.

Dorea was pale, her chest heaving as tears spilled down her cheeks, but she nodded, and Charlus took one her trembling hands in his own.

The girl fell into him, clinging to the front of his robes as she sobbed uncontrollably, and the boy could only look at Harry in disbelief.

Harry said nothing as he gathered up her books.

"We should get her back to her brother," Charlus decided. "Where's Arcturus?" he asked.

Dorea shrugged.

"Probably in the common room," she whispered, showing no signs that she was going to relinquish her hold on him.

"You wouldn't happen to know where that is, would you Harry?"

"I would," Harry said with a smirk, eliciting a shake of the head from Charlus.

"Then lead the way, you nosy git."

Harry chuckled as he did so, the halls of the castle empty with it being a late Saturday afternoon.

The trio entered the dungeons and Harry led the way to a blank stretch of wall beyond the classrooms.

"This is it?" Charlus asked disappointedly.

"What were you expecting, an enormous statue of a snake with glowing lights?" Harry returned.

"I don't know really," Charlus replied sheepishly. "Let me guess, you know the password?"

Harry laughed as he shook his head.

"Miss Black?" Charlus urged.

Dorea looked uncertain and bit her bottom lip.

"When we are done, we will go straight to Slughorn and have him change it," Charlus promised.

With a sigh, Dorea nodded.

"Felix Felicis," she murmured, and the stretch of wall gave way to a short tunnel that opened out into the full common room.

"No wonder the Slytherins are miserable bastards," Charlus muttered. "I would be too if I lived in this hole."

The room was exactly as Harry remembered from his venture here during second year. The walls were a thick, pale stone, the furniture a dark wood furnished in green and silver upholstery, with the Slytherin coat of arms prominently displayed above the fireplace.

He, however, did not have time to respond to Charlus's observation.

The moment they entered the room, it fell silent, and Arcturus Black stalked towards them, a look of confusion and anger marring his features.

"What the hell is this?" he demanded, drawing his wand.

Charlus held up a hand to placate the boy whilst Harry mirrored the Slytherin, his wand finding its way into his hand.

"Black," Charlus greeted the other boy with a simple nod. "We were walking towards the library when we came across your sister being attacked by four seventh years from my house. She is okay, we got there in time," he added quickly seeing that Arcturus was about to explode in fury. "She really is fine, just a little shaken and we dealt with the idiots ourselves and couldn't leave her like this, so we brought her back after she told us you'd be here."

"I'm surprised you didn't join in," a voice muttered from the corner. "You lions are all the same, thinking you can do what you want when you want."

Charlus's eyes flared in fury as his gaze shifted towards the offending boy.

"You would do well to remember, Stebbins, that I have never attacked anyone in this castle let alone in this room. In fact, it was your lot that tried to attack Harry. So, you will kindly shut up with your stupid opinions when they do not include me," he finished, still glaring at the boy, who gulped loudly and remained silent after hearing murmurs of agreement from some of his fellow housemates.

Charlus turned to look at Dorea who had stopped crying by now and he smiled reassuringly at her before guiding her to her brother.

"It's okay," he assured her, "Your brother will look after you now," he added handing, a seemingly reluctant Dorea to Arcturus who took her in his arms.

She looked towards Charlus with a soft, delicate smile.

"Thank you, Potter," she said quietly.

"It's Charlus to you, my lady," he said with a slight bow and a similar smile before turning his attention to Arcturus.

"We will take our leave," he said. "You of course all have my word as a Potter that none will hear the password to your room from me".

"Nor me," Harry added. "We'll get Slughorn to change it."

With that, Harry and Charlus turned to leave, though they were halted in their steps by the voice of Arcturus Black.

"Potter, Evans," he called. "Thank you."

Both Harry and Charlus offered the boy a nod before leaving, catching sight of Slughorn as he was entering his office just a short way down the corridor.

"What were you doing in there?" he asked suspiciously.

"We were helping Miss Black back to the common room," Charlus explained. "There was an incident with some students in our house."

"And Miss Black is fine?" Slughorn questioned.

"A little shaken up, but no worse for wear."

Slughorn nodded.

"I will check on her," he sighed. "Take ten points each for Gryffindor."

"Thank you, Professor," Charlus replied. "You will want to change the password also."

"I will do so immediately," Slughorn assured him. "You may not be the best potioneers I have, but you're good boys. Now, be on your way."

Neither needed telling twice to leave the dank dungeons, and with what had transpired, their thoughts were far away from paying a visit to the kitchens, any merriment they had felt having evaporated.

"Mr Evans, Mr Potter," the voice of the headmaster called to them as they entered the Entrance Hall.

Dumbledore was with him, both men looking upon them severely.

"I would like you to join us," Dippet instructed, gesturing towards the open door of one of the antechambers just off the Great Hall.

They did so, and Dumbledore closed the door behind them after they had entered.

"I have just had a rather concerning conversation with Mr McLaggen and the other seventh year boys in your house. I would like your version of events as to what happened outside the library," the headmaster requested.

Charlus took it upon himself to explain, and Dippet listened, nodding, and releasing a deep sigh when he was done.

"They claim that the attack was unprovoked," Dippet replied. "Now, I know you both well enough to know that is unlikely, and I'm sure that Miss Black will be able to confirm what you have told me. However, you overreacted."

"Overreacted?" Charlus snorted. "They attacked her!"

"They did," Dippet agreed, "but your response was one of considerable and unwarranted violence. Instead of disarming, or even stunning them, you opted for what I can only deem to be an extreme reaction. Mr McLaggen's leg is severely broken, and the cutting curse that Mr Blackburn fell victim to cut into the bone of his shoulder."

"Maybe they'll learn to not be complete prats then," Charlus retorted, eliciting a sigh from Dumbledore.

"I had hoped that with the heat of the moment having passed, you would show some remorse for what you had done," he said disappointedly. "I can see that is not so. Mr Potter, for the remainder of the year, you have forfeited your Prefect position and will serve two months of detention with Mr Pringle, as will you Mr Evans. I do hope there will be no further incidents from either of you."

Charlus simply shook his head and handed over his badge.

"I suppose McLaggen and the others will get off scot-free?"

"Do you not think they have been punished enough?" Dumbledore asked, surprised by the question.

"They will be punished also," Dippet interjected firmly. "They may have ended up worse off than yourselves, but what they did is inexcusable. Now, I do hope that you will be less rash in the future."

Harry and Charlus nodded and left the room.

"Sorry," the latter muttered.

"For what?"

"Getting you two months of detention."

Harry chuckled.

"It's fine," he assured Charlus. "It was bloody worth it. I don't care what Dumbledore said, we did the right thing in the moment."

Charlus smiled as he nodded his agreement, though Harry was still quietly seething.

As far as he was concerned, McLaggen and the others had gotten less than they deserved.

Perhaps it was because it was his grandmother they were assaulting, or it was that he was more vengeful now?

It mattered not.

He felt no guilt for what he had done.

"Definitely worth it."