For the Want of a Groundskeeper – Chapter Three – Pretzel

Content Rating:
  • PG-13
  • Character Bashing
  • Discussion-Child Abuse
  • Racism
  • Violence-Canon-Level
  • Alternate Universe
  • Challenge Response
  • Canon Divergent
Pre-Harry/Hermione (friendship right now)

Word Count:
6,385 / 16,792 / 50,000

Author's Note:
An alternate title for this chapter: Reflections on Three Wizards. Also, the face cast for Arcturus Black is Patrick Stewart, which delights me to no end.

Hagrid was unable to make the first visit to Harry Potter to tell him of his birthright in the Wizarding World. Filius Flitwick took up the challenge in his stead, and everything changed.


Sirius Black was many things: wizard, Gryffindor, Animagus, heir, and father. The last part was something he’d not really gotten to explore. He’d adopted Harry at James and Lily’s request but had gladly stayed in the role of godfather while his friends had been alive. The guilt that he felt over abandoning his son gnawed at him. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. He’d thought he could find Peter, capture or kill the rat, and then fetch Harry from Hagrid once the deed was done.

That… hadn’t gone as planned.

It was rash, he knew, but his rage at what had happened had filled him up so thoroughly because of what Peter had done. Peter had been like a brother to them, and yet he’d betrayed them all so much after they’d done for him. It gnawed at Sirius’s gut every time he thought about it. It wasn’t a happy thought, so the dementors couldn’t take it from him. In the decade that he’d been locked up in the bleak cell he’d been forced to call home, Sirius had plotted and planned various ways to escape and wreak his vengeance on the traitorous rat. It was a cold comfort, but again, the dementors couldn’t take it away from him.

Shifting into his Animagus form helped as well. The dementors didn’t seem to affect him as much when he was Padfoot, as he processed emotions far differently as a Grim than he did a human. He would shift at least once a day, spending an hour or so as a Grim just to keep his sanity. He usually did it at night since there was less chance of a guard randomly passing by and seeing him not in human form and then panicking.

He was laying sprawled out on the floor of his cell, tongue lolling out in an effort to beat the heat, when he felt the presence of the dementors start to fade. Sirius’s head shot up immediately at that. It was past sundown and well past the time for the meager dinner that was provided. He shifted back to human form, pushing himself up into a seated position so he could see what was going on.

His long hair hung like a ragged curtain in front of his face, ill-kept and tangled. The only reason he didn’t have a matching scraggly beard was because of some simple wandless grooming spells he could still perform. It was the same reason why he didn’t have some of the same unfortunate flea and lice infestations as the other prisoners, though that could also be because they couldn’t be bothered to cast them without a wand.

Three guards stopped outside of his cell, their Patronuses casting an eerie silver-white light on the bleak black bricks that made up the whole of the prison. With the guards was a face Sirius thought he’d never see again. Amelia Bones stood there, looking quite official in her Ministry uniform. She watched him for a long moment before speaking.

“Get up, Heir Black. Your case has been reviewed and the Wizengamot is demanding you have a trial for your crimes.”

Sirius got to his feet, pushing his hair out of his face.

“About fucking time!”

Two days later, Sirius found himself sitting in the parlor of his grandfather’s manor, freshly washed, dried, and being fed. It still felt like a fever dream. Sirius would’ve sworn that he’d finally gone fully insane and slipped into some sort of delusion, but he would’ve expected it to be less comfortable and more dreary. He certainly didn’t think it would involve him having tea and sandwiches.

His grandfather was watching him with his usual piercing gaze, his fingers curled around his own cup of tea. Arcturus was as impeccably dressed as ever, and his expression gave away nothing. Sirius polished off the last of the sandwich he’d been eating, absently wiping his fingers on one of the napkins that had been provided with the food.

“So,” he began, feeling all of ten years old again, “why did you decide to push for a trial for me after all this time?”

Arcturus set his teacup aside on its matching saucer, the gentle clink of porcelain against porcelain feeling achingly loud to Sirius. He suspected that it would take some time for him to get used to actually being around other people again after so long in near-isolation.

“It came to my attention recently that I had been cursed over a decade ago to ignore the fact that you had never had a trial and to not seek one out for you. I was also being poisoned, but that was more of a recent problem. The goblins were the ones who finally made me aware of what was going on. There are those who have and would continue to benefit from the House of Black being in ruins. The primary line of ascension is nearly extinct and would have become extinct had I been killed and you kept in Azkaban. I have little doubt that you would have conveniently died within the next few years and our House would’ve died out for good, or so those attempting to wipe it out would have thought.”

Arcturus folded his hands together before continuing on. “Of course, they didn’t know that you had adopted the Potter heir by blood and magic. I suspect that was quite the surprise to them when it came out during the will hearings of the late Lord and Lady Potter. Those wills were why we were finally able to get you a trial. We have yet to find Pettigrew, but the goblins are hunting him down. Apparently he’s still alive, as his accounts have yet to go dormant due to his death. They haven’t been touched in a decade, but the point still stands.”

Sirius felt a lurch of hope in his chest. If Peter was still alive, then that meant justice could be served against him. And if the goblins were the ones hunting him, then that meant Peter had three choices: run, fight, or submit to their justice. Sirius doubted Peter was going to fight or submit to the unique brand of justice the Horde tended to mete out, so running was likely going to be the only option he would take. That wasn’t going to win him any friends amongst the Horde, and the goblins were tenacious when it came to hunting down their enemies.

While it wasn’t one of the many various scenarios he’d envisioned over the years, Sirius wasn’t about to stand in the way of the goblins. He’d happily sit back and let them take care of the rat. He had more pressing matters at hand anyways, ones he should have taken care of a decade ago.

“You mentioned Harry. Where is he? It’s almost his birthday, right? Is he safe?”

“He’s safe,” Arcturus confirmed. “He’s with your cousin Narcissa at Malfoy Manor. He’s been in the Magical world for barely five days. Before that, he was with his maternal relatives from what I understand. They… did not treat him kindly. However, the goblins have healed the major issues and there is a plan in place for him to continue getting the care and potions he needs as he grows over the next few months. Speaking of care… You have been invited to his birthday celebration tomorrow evening, but before that happens, you’ll be spending some time in the goblins’ time dilation chamber. The rate will be one year per hour of outside time that passes, though you won’t age due to the enchantments on the chamber. They have graciously allowed the use of the chamber for five hours. The Ministry agreed to pay for it in lieu of monetary compensation for your wrongful imprisonment. While you’re in there, you’ll be undergoing mind healing and physical healing so that no one can say that you’re unfit to take custody of your son. When you see him tomorrow, you’ll be on your way to, at least physically and hopefully mentally, being the man you once were.”

Sirius laughed bitterly. “The man I once was was an idiot of the highest order,” he said, “and that won’t do Harry any good. I need to be better than what I was once was. I can’t be that same idiot, not any more.”

Arcturus gave him an approving look, pride clear in his expression. “That’s a good start. I’m sure the mind healers will be glad to hear it.” He picked up his teacup and took a sip of the drink within before lowering it once more. “Now, on to some more… somber news. Due to how long I was under that curse, I had the goblins do a full audit of all of the Family vaults, main and dowry, as well as all of the properties. Your mother passed away six years ago. I know the two of you held little love, if any, for one another-”

Sirius snorted sharply at that. “She hated my everything. Regulus was always her favorite since he Sorted properly and joined the Dark Lord.”

“Ah, about that… While Regulus did Sort Slytherin and joined the Dark Lord, he did not die aiding Voldemort’s agenda. Instead, he was actively working against the Dark Lord when he died. During the audit of Grimmauld Place, we discovered that Kreacher was still there. He was reluctant at first to speak to me, but once he did, we found out that Regulus had died trying to destroy an Infernal artifact the Dark Lord had created.”

Sirius went still, his surprise getting the better of him. “Reg- Regulus was trying to do good when he died?”

“Yes, he was,” Arcturus said. “The Infernal artifact was confiscated by the goblins as per our agreement. Another was found in Bellatrix’s dowry vault, and a third was given to Lucius Malfoy for safekeeping. Lucius has since given it to the goblins. There was a fourth, and I must ask you to put your tea down before I tell you about it.”

Sirius did so, his stomach tightening. “What were these artifacts? And where was the fourth one?”

Arcturus sighed heavily. “Horcruxes. The Dark Lord made Horcruxes, and the fourth one was sealed away in Harry Potter’s scar. It was kept at bay by his mother’s sacrifice. They found it when they did a cleansing and cursebreaking before he claimed his Heir rings and safely removed and contained it. With four of them now in hand, the goblins have been able to create a way to track the remaining Horcruxes. There are two left. One is near a Mundane town, and one appears to be at Hogwarts. Professor Flitwick has the school’s house elves searching all over the castle for anything Infernal. Once they find it, they’ll report it to him and then he’ll bring it to the bank. They’re hoping to have all of them collected before the start of the school year. There’s a catch, though.”

Sirius groaned. “Of course there is. What is it now?”

“Harry will have to be the one to destroy them.”


“Calm yourself, Sirius,” Arcturus said with a frown. “There’s a prophecy regarding the boy. It says that the Dark Lord has to die at Harry’s hand or Harry at his. Prophecies are notoriously tricky things. They’re not planning on having him duel the Dark Lord or anything rash like that. The goblins have a Fiendfyre furnace they use to destroy particularly cursed objects. Nothing can survive that, not even Horcruxes. Once all the Horcruxes have been collected, they’ll be put in a sealed container and all Harry will have to do is put the box within and, for good measure, activate the furnace. That way Voldemort will have been destroyed by his hand twice-over. If any remnant of Voldemort’s spirit is lingering on this plane after that, it’ll be gone by Samhain without those anchors. Harry won’t be in any danger whatsoever, I promise.”

Sirius didn’t feel particularly comforted by his grandfather’s words, but he couldn’t exactly protest against them either. A prophecy.. That explained so much. Why Lily and James had left the war wards of Potter Manor for Godric’s Hollow, why they’d been so secretive the last few months of their lives… He sighed before his mind caught on something his grandfather had said.

“Wait, what does Flitwick have to do with all of this?” he asked, brow furrowed.

“Besides his connections with the goblins? He was the one to introduce Harry back to the magical world,” Arcturus said, “and he was the one to get the ball rolling on finding him an appropriate place to live as well as encouraging his brethren to get me into the bank. We owe Filius Flitwick quite a bit for what he’s done, though I’m sure he’d deny it.”

“What the hell do you get someone who’s essentially kicked off saving the world from a dark lord and saved our House from extinction?” Sirius asked, leaning back in his chair.

“Harry’s already invited him to his birthday party, so that’s a start,” Arcturus said. “We’ll owe Filius a boon at the very least, if not a life debt. We’ll have to see how the magic manifests itself when I bring it up to him.”

Arcturus finished off his tea, his cup disappearing the moment he put it back on its saucer. “I’ve also done a little housekeeping when it comes to those who were disowned during the last decade. Those who willingly stood with the Dark Lord have remained excised from the Family magics, but the cases of those who were disowned by their parents simply because they married against their parents’ wishes have been reviewed. I’ve brought back your cousin and her daughter into the Family magics, and I must say, I commend Andromeda for bringing back a gift that was thought to be lost to the family. The Blacks were once well known for our Metamorphmagus abilities. That and our propensity for magical Animagus forms.”

Sirius let out a rough laugh. “Andy was always good at subverting expectations,” he said. “Good. They belong back in the family.” He ran a hand over his face, his exhaustion getting the better of him. “Thanks for the tea and food, but I’m going to go enjoy sleeping in a real bed after a decade of not having one. When is the appointment tomorrow?”

“Eleven in the morning, so there’ll be plenty of time for you to change clothes and maybe even get a bit of a hair trim before the party,” Arcturus replied as Sirius got to his feet. Sirius nodded, too tired to really complain. He said his goodbyes and then headed up to the Heir’s suite, changing out of his clothes and then flopping onto his bed. It wasn’t long before he was fast asleep on top of the covers, snoring gently away.


Arcturus Black prided himself on his patience. It was one of the things he was well known for in the Wizengamot and elsewhere. He’d done his best to cultivate that trait from an early age because he honestly couldn’t stand most of his peers. That, and it took a great deal of patience to play the long game, be that in politics, business, or revenge. His patience was being tested at the moment, however, by his worry for his grandson. He’d never been pleased with Walburga and Orion being married off to one another, second cousins or not, but the bonding had taken place when he’d been out of the country and unable to protest it.

He wasn’t going to complain about getting Sirius out of the pairing, however. Sirius was everything he could ask for in an Heir, and had been ever since he was young. It was why Arcturus had passed over Orion in favor of Sirius when the boy had turned eleven. Orion had not been pleased with that, but Arcturus had refused to listen to his son’s whining. Besides, Orion would’ve seen the power of the Black Family turned to benefit Voldemort, and Arcturus had not been pleased about that prospect at all.

Arcturus sighed and then turned another page of his newspaper, a grumble escaping him at seeing yet another excitable article speculating on the return of the Boy-Who-Lived and what he would be like. Plans had been set into motion that would see use of that morbid epithet be banned from any sort of news medium, be that print or by the Wireless, as well as efforts to reveal the truth behind the series of ‘adventure’ books touted as true accounts of Harry’s young life.

The law firm that the Black Family had held on retainer for the past two centuries had been fired and a new one hired when they’d refused to listen to Arcturus when he’d gone to them to be Sirius’s legal defense. He was much more content with the new firm he’d hired, especially as they’d been able to badger the Ministry into paying for Sirius’s health care, both mental and physical. The Ministry had been rather reluctant not to just throw money at Sirius in recompense, but in the end the lawyers had convinced those in charge that looking like they actually cared about Sirius’s well-being was better than just appearing to pay him off.

Arcturus checked his watch, straightening his posture some when he realized what time it was. He folded his newspaper up neatly and then got to his feet, his attention focused on the heavy steel door that looked like it would be more fit guarding one of the vaults deep in the tunnels below rather than the time dilation chamber. Right at four in the afternoon, the heavy door unlocked and then slowly slid to one side, revealing the deceptively spacious interior beyond.

Sirius stood waiting on the other side, dressed in simple gray robes. He looked leagues better than he had when he’d entered the chamber some four hours prior. His eyes weren’t as shadowed by his time in Azkaban, and he had lost the near-skeletal look the prison had given him. Even with all the mental and physical healing available, it was likely that Sirius would carry remnants of his time in Azkaban throughout the rest of his life, but the certification from the various Ministry- and Horde-approved healers who had worked with him in the chamber would see that he could take custody of Harry without complaint- or at least, any complaints that would actually be deemed valid.

Sirius exited the chamber and then went straight for a hug, Arcturus gladly embracing him. As they hugged, Arcturus could feel the Family magic surge between them, rejoicing in Sirius’s renewed health just as much as they were. They parted after a much needed pause, Sirius smiling happily at his grandfather.

“Have a fun time waiting for me?”

“Not particularly, but I certainly can’t complain about the courtesy of our hosts. I was well-supplied with refreshments as needed, though I could have done without the drivel of the Prophet,” Arcturus grumbled. Sirius let out a laugh at that.

“There’s not much I can do about that except maybe suggest you buy the paper outright and then enforce actual journalistic standards and a code of ethics,” he said with a shrug. “Certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to the paper.”

Arcturus made a thoughtful noise. “You have a point. That, however, can wait. For now, we need to get you presentable enough to go to a young heir’s birthday party.”

The two of them returned to Ravenswood Keep, the wards of the ancestral seat of the Black Family and the Earl of Ravenswood all but singing in welcome as the two wizards stepped out of the Floo. One of the house elves assisted Sirius in getting ready, making sure his hair was trimmed neatly- though still long enough to pull back if he wanted to do so, which he had – and his semi-formal robes ready for wearing. Arcturus had the sneaking suspicion that the elf- a younger member of the staff by the name of Jasper -would be soon requesting to bond solely to Sirius as his personal elf rather than just as a Family elf.

Arcturus had asked Kreacher if he’d wanted to become Sirius’s personal elf but Kreacher had declined, preferring instead to remain as a Family-bound elf and stay at Grimmauld Place to help the other elves restore it to its former glory. The discovery of the damaged Family tapestry had irked Arcturus to no end, but thankfully there was a master weaver in India who had been able to mostly restore it to its former glory, even if not all the colors matched perfectly. The tapestry now had a place of pride at Ravenswood Keep in one of the portrait halls, as Arcturus wasn’t about to let such a vital piece of his family’s history molder away unnecessarily.

Once Sirius was ready, he and Arcturus departed for Malfoy Manor, Sirius holding Harry’s neatly wrapped gift close to him as they Flooed over. The gift wasn’t particularly extravagant- a set of beginner’s guides for each First Year core subject -but it was useful nonetheless. Sirius had wanted to get him a broom, but Arcturus had put his foot down on that, saying it better to not look like he was trying to buy Harry’s affection. That had gotten Sirius to back down rather quickly, and while Arcturus hadn’t been happy about having to even insinuate the matter, it was still a valid point regardless.

The guides were a good compromise, as they weren’t on the standard book list- though really they should have been -but also weren’t unavailable to others either. The books had been wrapped in dark red paper with a tasteful gold ribbon as it was traditional to wrap an heir’s birthday presents in their paternal House’s colors for their eleventh birthdays. The smaller dining room of Malfoy Manor had been decorated in the traditional blue, green, red, and gold braided streamers representing the four Hogwarts Houses.

The house elves had gone all out to make sure the decorations were up to par with the standards Narcissa had set while still not being overwhelming for Harry, who was decidedly not used to such a fuss being made over him in general, and especially not for his birthday. Arcturus stayed in the background as he and Sirius entered the dining room, watching how his grandson and great-grandson would get on. Sirius set Harry’s gift down on the table with the others before cautiously approaching the birthday boy under the watchful eye of the others.

“Hi,” he said softly, smiling hopefully at Harry. “I’m Sirius, your godfather.”

“And dad,” Harry added with a shy expression. Sirius’s face flashed through several different emotions all at once.

“You… you’d want to call me that?”

“If you want. You adopted me when I was a baby, right?”

Sirius nodded. “Y-yeah. Your mom and dad wanted me to be able to make sure you were taken care of if something happened to them.” He rubbed at the back of his neck. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you for all this time.”

Harry shook his head. “It’s not your fault. You couldn’t take care of me from prison. And I’m a lot better now, so you don’t need to worry about that either.”

“I think I’ll be worrying about a lot of things for quite some time,” Sirius told him.

“That’s called being a parent, Sirius,” Narcissa teased lightly. “It’s a natural reaction.”

“If you say so.” Sirius went to one knee before Harry. “May I have a hug? If you’re alright with that, that is.”

Harry smiled before stepping in and wrapping his arms around Sirius’s torso, tucking himself in against his dad. Sirius returned the hug, resting a hand lightly against Harry’s back. Arcturus smiled to himself, pleased that everything seemed to be going well. The party stretched on for several more hours, only stopping when it was Harry and Draco’s bedtime. The adults said their goodnights to the two boys, Arcturus watching as Draco led Harry upstairs while the elves popped Harry’s presents away to his room.

As soon as the adults were truly alone, Arcturus turned to Filius, who had been watching the party from the sidelines. He’d kept his distance as he hadn’t wanted to show favoritism, even if Harry wasn’t technically one of his students yet. He’d made sure to wish Harry a happy birthday, however, and Harry had quite happily thanked him. Arcturus stepped forward and then, to the shock of the others in the room save for Sirius, went to one knee before the Charms professor, Sirius following suit not long after.

“Filius Flitwick, the House of Black owes you a great debt,” Arcturus said, his head bowed. “You helped to free its Heir from imprisonment, a secondary Heir from his abusers, and its Head from a sure death. We call upon Lady Magic to be the final arbiter and decide what form the payment for this debt shall take.”

As Arcturus spoke, the air grew heavy and thick with the weight of magic until it was almost unbearable. The others watched with wide eyes as Filius hesitated and then reached out to place one hand on the top of Arcturus’s head and the other on Sirius’s. He took a deep breath in, releasing it slowly before speaking. His voice was distant and echoing, as if something- or someone -was speaking through him.

“Head and Heir of the House of Black, the debt due is threefold: First, rid the world of the one who dares to call himself the Lord of the Dark. Second, end the rule of the one who calls himself the leader of the Light. Neither are My chosen. Third, protect the Lord of Lions and Lady of Autumn, for their survival and happiness are paramount to My survival. Count the children of stone as your allies and enforce My will. This is the price to be paid.”

Filius’ eyes fluttered rapidly before he swayed on the spot. He would’ve collapsed if not for Sirius’s quick thinking, which saw him guiding his former professor to sit on a nearby chair. One of the elves brought a cup of hot chocolate for Filius to sip on. He drank it slowly, the trembling in his hands eventually fading as time passed.

“How are you feeling?” Sirius asked, brow furrowed in worry. “Sorry about that. We weren’t expecting it to be that intense.”

Filius shook his head. “No need to apologize. I’m doing alright now. A little warning would’ve been nice, but I certainly won’t complain that the Lady saw me as a fit vessel for Her to speak through. It’s not every day you can say something like that has happened to you.”

“Decidedly not,” Lucius agreed. “Word of what has happened here won’t leave this room. I can guess who the first two parts of the debt are referring to, as well as part of the third, but who is this Lady of Autumn that was mentioned?”

“Whoever she is, we’ll have to keep a close eye out for her,” Arcturus replied as he got to his feet, grimacing slightly when his knees creaked in protest. “Let’s just hope it’s obvious who it is.”

“Likely someone who’ll have a close connection with Harry,” Narcissa suggested. “We can only speculate what her role in his life will be, but more than likely something very important.”

“Dumbledore can never know about this.”

Narcissa turned to look at Sirius, surprise on her face. “I thought you were a supporter of Dumbledore?”

Sirius shook his head. “Not since he knowingly left me to rot in Azkaban. He was the one who acted as binder for the Fidelius. He knew I was innocent and didn’t say anything for a decade. Do you know the reason he gave me when I asked why he hadn’t come forward to demand my trial after everything happened?”

Narcissa shook her head. The trial Sirius had gotten had been a closed one, with only the sitting Lords and Ladies on the Wizengamot being allowed to attend.

“He told me that it was for the Greater Good, and that Harry would have been in danger if he hadn’t grown up away from magic.” Sirius scoffed at that. “I think Dumbledore just wanted absolute control over everything.” He glanced at Filius. “No, uh, no offense meant, Professor.”

Filius shook his head. “Believe me, there was a time when I would have taken offense, but not today, not now. I once trusted Albus to have the best intentions, but his actions have betrayed that trust thoroughly.”

He finished off his hot chocolate and then set the cup aside. “I agree with you. Albus clearly did not have your or Harry’s best intentions in mind back then, and he certainly doesn’t have it now. I won’t breathe a word of what happened tonight to him. My ancestry offers me natural mental protections, and I suspect the Lady Herself will help in guarding the information in all of our minds.”

He got up and dusted himself off. “I’m sure my brethren at the bank will be in touch once the last of the artifacts outside the one at Hogwarts has been found. The house elves are still searching for that one, but I have every faith that they’ll locate it soon enough.”

“Good. That will help with the first debt being fulfilled,” Arcturus said. “Thank you for coming tonight, Filius. It means a lot to us.”

Filius smiled. “Clearly it was meant to be, especially given what happened. I’ll bid you goodnight and well wishes. Hopefully we’ll see one another before the school year start, but if we don’t, just know that you’re always welcome to Floo call me or owl me.”

“Thank you. We’ll certainly keep that in mind,” Sirius replied. “Safe travels, Professor, and may the Lady be with you.”

“Have a good night, and thank you.”

Filius left after that, one of the house elves guiding him to the Floo room. Sirius and Arcturus followed soon after, returning to Ravenswood Keep for the night.

Over the next three weeks, the last two Horcruxes were located and brought to the goblins for safe keeping. As soon as everything was ready, Harry went with Sirius and Narcissa to the bank. The Horcruxes were sealed in a heavily warded chest that the goblins had Harry carry to the room where the Fiendfyre furnace sat. He carefully put the chest in the small chamber in the furnace and then retreated to the control room. Just to make doubly sure that the prophecy was fulfilled properly, Harry was the one who pressed the button to activate the furnace, thereby killing Voldemort by his hand twice over.

A runner met them outside the furnace room a few minutes after the screaming of the Horcruxes had stopped echoing off the walls, a scroll in hand. Goldfang took it from the runner and then opened it, a toothy grin appearing as they reached the end of the scroll.

“Well, it’s official. Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as the Dark Lord Voldemort, is dead according to our records. Any assets he may have had in the bank have been frozen. The Horde will reinvest his monetary assets and liquidate any remaining physical assets,” Goldfang announced. “As his vanquisher, ten percent of those assets will be awarded to the House of Potter, and five percent to the House of Black and the Clans of Flitwick and Steelsword for their participation in this endeavor.”

A thoughtful expression passed across Sirius’s face before it morphed into one of mischievous glee. “Goldfang, I have an idea that will more than likely tweak Dumbledore’s over-long nose,” he said. “Think you can help?”

“Heir Black, it would be my honor.”


Albus Dumbledore liked to consider himself a calm man. He liked his routines, certainly, but he also prided himself on being adaptable. So to say that what he saw in the newspaper that late August morning threw him off his stride would be underselling it. It was a small thing, to be certainly, and most would’ve just glanced over it, but Albus couldn’t help but stare at the short announcement on the obituaries page that was buried two-thirds of the way into the morning edition of the Daily Prophet.

Tom Marvolo Riddle, age 65, was declared dead as of four-thirty PM on 26 August, 1991. He leaves no survivors and is preceded in death by his mother, Merope Riddle. As per his wishes, no services have been held.

Albus read the announcement at least four times before swiftly folding up the newspaper, setting it aside, and then getting to his feet. He’d been taking his breakfast in his private quarters that morning, as was his habit during the summer, so there was no one to see him hurriedly perform a Switching Spell and exchange his nightclothes for a set of robes in vibrant sunflower yellow and his slippers for boots. He left the castle via Floo, not bothering to stop and tell anyone that he was leaving. He trusted his staff, after all, and they could deal without him for a little while.

He emerged from the Floo at the Leaky Cauldron, making his way through the crowded pub and out onto the Alley with barely his customary nod or other greetings to its patrons. The Alley was equally as crowded, as many of the shoppers there were school-aged witches and wizards and their parents or guardians. Albus paid them little mind, his long legs taking him through the crowd with ease. People parted before him as he made his way to the offices of the Daily Prophet.

Albus entered the building where the Prophet was housed, breezing past the desks of the journalists and heading straight for the office where the editor-in-chief, Barnabas Cuffe, usually resided while the offices were open. Barnabas looked up from where he was looking over some of the articles for the next day’s edition of the paper at Albus’s entrance, surprise flashing across his face.

“Headmaster Dumbledore. What can I do to help you?”

“There was an obituary printed in this morning’s paper,” Albus began. “I need to know who submitted it.”

Barnabas frowned. “We don’t usually give away the names of the particular people in question when it comes to obituaries. Usually it’s the executor of the estate or the next of kin.” He set his quill down in its holder. “However… Since it’s you… Which, uh, which obituary was in question?”

“The one regarding Tom Marvolo Riddle.” Albus flicked his wand to close the door behind him and then took a seat in the chair across from Barnabas. “It’s very important that I know who submitted it.”

Barnabas shuffled through some of the parchment on his desk before coming up with one piece in particular. “Ah, here we are. Looks like it was Gringotts. They do that on occasion when there’s not any surviving members of a family to put in the announcement.”

Albus took the parchment from Barnabas and looked it over, eyes narrowing behind his half-moon glasses as he read. It seemed legitimate, but there was only one way to find out. Albus returned the parchment to Barnabas and then left the office, not bothering to say goodbye. He went back to the Leaky Cauldron and used the Floo there to head to the Ministry, barely pausing as he exited the Floo and swept the ash off himself in a show of wandless magic. He didn’t even stop to get his wand checked, but then again, that hadn’t happened ever since he’d won the Elder Wand from Gellert.

The elevator swiftly took Albus down to the Department of Mysteries due to his overriding the controls with a flick of the Elder Wand. He left the elevator once it reached the ninth floor and made his way to the Department of Mysteries. Barely five minutes after he’d arrived, he was standing in front of a particular orb in row 97. Albus ran his hands over his beard as he contemplated the dark orb.

So… Voldemort was well and truly dead, and since the prophecy orb was dark, that meant it was complete. The only question was, how long had the orb been dark? He hadn’t checked on it since that fateful day over a decade ago, which admittedly was his own fault. He should have been keeping a closer eye on the damn thing, not to mention the Potter boy.

According to Albus’s sources in the Ministry, Sirius had not yet petitioned to take custody of Harry from his aunt and uncle, but Albus knew it was only a matter of time. He’d quietly pushed for the Ministry to pay Sirius the debt they owed him rather than paying for the mind healing, but no one had listened to him. Now the foolish man was healthier than Albus would have preferred, both mentally and physically, not to mention he seemed to be willingly spending time with his grandfather. Given Sirius’s tumultuous past with his family, it had been quite surprising, to say the least, but Albus didn’t dwell on that.

No, he had more important things to deal with, starting with checking on the state of Quirinus Quirrell. Merlin damn it, he’d probably have to scramble to replace the man, and so soon before the school year began as well. He’d likely either be dead, insane, or entirely absent by the time Albus got back to Hogwarts. He hadn’t seen Quirinus since a few days ago but that didn’t exactly mean much since it was still summer.

Albus sighed and then left the Hall of Prophecies, his mind churning. He would have to revamp his plans, and quickly. Otherwise, who knew what the Magical World might become?

Post Archive

(L-R Top) Filius Flitwick (Warwick Davis) | Sirius Black (Christian Kane)

(L-R Bottom) Hermione Granger (Storm Reid) | Harry Potter (Tahj Mowry)

About Pretzel

Aka Scarlet_Gryphon on AO3. I enjoy writing and reading about pretty boys, good plots, and awesome worlds. Writing is my stress relief.


  1. Yay!

    I’m really enjoying this!

  2. Oh poor Dumbles all his plans falling down around his ears!!

  3. Oooh, this is a great twist. Dumbledore being set up for the bad guy is a delicious one. Can’t wait for more!

  4. Adult adulting. That took care of one of the dark lords.

  5. Heh. Indeed, what state might it get into, with Tom not available to harrow the undesirables! Tsk.

  6. Awesome chapter.

  7. Very good update

  8. Wonderful, adults adulting is so satisfying to read. Thank you.

  9. A perfectly nondescript death announcement in the paper is a genius idea! A message aimed only at one person, given that people generally haven’t the least idea who Riddle is, but at the same time that person doesn’t realise he’s the target. Brilliant!
    Loving this story very much. Thanks!

  10. Oh ho, and we see Dumbledore in his true colours. One Dark Lord dead and he’s stepping up to take his place. Very interesting that you’ve killed Voldemort off so soon. I’m very intrigued with where you are going and I’m looking forward to finding out :D

  11. Thanks for your great update!

  12. Love the latest chapter! The obit announcement is inspired and enjoyed the hints of further Dumbledore plotting.

  13. Wonderful part! Harry’s meeting with Sirius at his birthday party was so sweet – I loved it. All the horcruxes! Sirius out and healed! Arcturus made whole again! Too bad that Dumbles is a complete megalomaniac. Ugh.
    Thanks so much!

  14. The obituary was a genius move!

  15. Well done! Always fun to see Albus run around like crazy.

  16. Just read everything posted so far and I am LOVING this!
    So nice to see Flitwick take charge of the situation and Narcissa immediately open her home and work to help get her husband out of the tight spot he’s in with the diary and dark mark.
    Glad to see Sirius getting the help he needs and coming out determined to be an even better man & parent than before.
    Harry needs all the help he can get.

    Oh, and Dumbledore plotting at the end of this chapter = super creepy and well done!

    Thank you so much for writing and posting this.

  17. I love it. Sirius having a good relationship with Arcturus is one of my favourite Harry Potter tropes. And just all the adults (obviously with the exception of Dumbledore) acting like adults instead of hiding behind a child.

    The obituary aimed at Dumbledore is an amazing idea.

    It’s great that Flitwick and the goblins are staying involved.

  18. Dumbledore really is convinced of his own divinity…

  19. I loved Sirius’ idea. Dumbledore can’t leave well enough alone, can he? This is great.

  20. Another wonderful chapter. Definitely enjoying your take on the adults in the HP world.

  21. Thank you for the wonderful update
    So glad Sirius is free and can take Harry soon.
    Until next time

  22. Adults being useful and pragmatic and…adulting! It blows my mind. :)

    It’s pretty horrific that Dumbledore feels not the slightest bit positive about avoiding war and death.

  23. I just devoured your story! Love Flitwick as the awesome point of change! It’s interesting to see Arcturus and Sirius interact, see Riddle disposed of so efficiently. I imagine Dumbledore will be a bit harder to get rid of. I’m very much looking forward to the arrival of the winter witch!

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