Black Vengeance

Scuppered Plans

'Well, a good morning to you, sleepyhead,' Sirius said as Harry stumbled into the kitchen and plopped down on the first chair he could find.

Sirius chuckled as the boy answered with a grunt. Rolling his eyes good-naturedly, he started cooking breakfast, occasionally looking back at the boy and trying not to laugh.

Mouth twitching, Sirius put a glass of warm milk in front of the boy. Harry did not give the glass much of a glance as he drained the contents in a few gulps. Sirius suspected that he was pretty hungry, not having come down for dinner last night as he was too tired from their day out. Sirius found the teen passed out on top of the bed of his new room (incidentally Regulus's old room – Sirius' room wasn't fit for Harry, and the other rooms were too small, not to mention filthy).

Smiling softly, Sirius tucked the thirteen year old in. Once his godson was snug under the sheets, Sirius thoughtfully removed the clothes the boy was wearing with a flick of his wand. From personal experience, Sirius knew that waking up in yesterday's clothes wasn't the best way to start the day. He was also used to changing Harry like this when he was babysitting the tot, so he had not given it much thought when he cast that incantation.

Only now, in the morning, when Sirius saw the teen stumble in, clad only in his underpants and glasses, did he realise the unintentional prank he had played on his godson. He hadn't been able to find pyjamas, and had honestly expected his godson to put something on before coming downstairs!

'Had a good night's sleep?' he asked courteously. There were creases visible on the pale skin of Harry's stomach, no doubt caused by his body being pressed against the sheets. His glasses were slightly askew as he rested his face against a hand. His hair was sticking up everywhere, which coupled with his thin body, reminded Sirius of a dandelion.

Harry gave another grunt as he slowly blinked and tried to wake up. To be fair to the boy, it was pretty early in the morning. It was quite surprising that Harry had woken up so early.

Turning around to check on the food, Sirius' ears picked out the exact moment when his godson had woken up enough to notice his current state of undress.

The teenager only gave a small 'Eep,' before the chair crashed to the ground as he made his escape. Turning around, Sirius caught a flash of an underwear covered backside disappearing as Harry ran for his room. It was a good thing that he had insisted that the boy change into some new clothes as soon as he bought them. Those Muggles really were barbarians, making their nephew wear hand-me-downs.

Unable to hold it in any longer, Sirius broke down laughing. He hadn't had the chance to laugh at a prank in so long. Why the last time he had done this, it was on James...

Thoughts about his deceased friend immediately darkened his mood.

The rustle of clothes caused him to look up, interrupting his brooding. Harry was standing just inside the doorway, decently dressed and looking rather sheepish.

'Um, sorry about ... that ...' the boy muttered with a deep flush, not meeting Sirius' eyes. 'Guess I must have undressed before going to sleep and not noticed ... I didn't mean to...'

Sirius looked at the boy in confusion. He hadn't figured it out? The faded smile returned. Sirius considered telling the teenager about it, but desisted. He doubted his godson would take being treated like an infant well. Besides, it was much more fun this way.

Harry stared at the table top, unable to speak anymore. Mortified, he was unable to meet his godfather's eye. He did not know how Sirius would react to this. The Dursleys were always quite proper about such things. Harry was nervous about what Sirius would say.

His godfather cleared his throat, making Harry warily look up. He was surprised to see a small smile on the older man's face and a twinkle in his eye that made him look years younger.

'Hey, it's alright,' Sirius said with a straight face. 'It's just the two of us men here. Currently we have no female company, and that hag hanging out in the hallway doesn't count. Besides, you don't have anything I haven't seen.' His voice trembled in suppressed mirth as he fought to control his laughter at Harry's mortified expression. 'I have no objections to you roaming around in your underwear, if it makes you feel comfortable. I mean, you were quite the exhibitionist ever since you learnt how to crawl. Just don't go fully starkers. I don't think my eyes will be able to take seeing your skinny little arse.'

Harry's face turned a deeper red at this. 'Okay,' he finally squeaked. Clearing his throat, he wildly thought of something to change the subject.

Luckily that was soon taken care of.

'What's that smell?'

Turning around, Sirius cursed as he saw the burning food. Waving his wand, he killed the flame. But it was too late. Coughing, he cleared the smoke and cursed some more when he saw the carbonised remains of their breakfast.

'Oh well,' he said with a rueful smile. 'Looks like we're going out for breakfast.'

Walking back to the house after a full breakfast, Sirius started talking.

'Now, there are a few things we need to talk about. First and foremost is our current residence.'

'Yeah, about that,' Harry spoke up wanting to ask a question that had been on the forefront of his mind. 'Why is the house so...?' he trailed off.

'... cheerful?' Sirius interjected with a smile. Sobering up, he continued. 'It used to be much better before, quite elegant. Now, however, thanks to twelve years of neglect, the house looks frankly creepy.'

He heaved a big sigh as he opened the door. Beckoning Harry towards the kitchen, he sat down at the dining table and waited for his godson to do the same.

'We do have other properties, but those are worse off. There are five elves, not counting Kreacher, in our family. Currently I have them rebuilding the holiday home we have, along with the villa in France. So in the meantime we will have to manage on our own without much help.' The room lapsed into silence as Sirius stared off into the distance.

Harry wondered for a moment why Sirius was renovating the villa in France first. Surely it would be better to take care of this place first? But he stayed silent. He wasn't sure if it was his right to ask such a question.

The remark about properties got Harry thinking about another thing.

'Did my family have properties?'

Sirius focussed on Harry. 'Yes, and I checked those out for you ...' he took a deep breath before continuing. 'The Potters do have a large manor out in the countryside along with the small cottage in Godric's Hollow and a few cottages here and there. Unfortunately kid, your house-elves have all perished. So your manor is in a much worse state. In fact, I had to hire the goblins to put up preservation charms to ensure that the house doesn't fall into ruin. As for the cottage in Godric's Hollow, well, that's where you and your parents were living before...'

Sirius did not complete his sentence, but Harry knew what he was trying to say. It was where he and his parents were living before Voldemort attacked. 'What happened to it?' he asked in a dry voice.

'It's still intact, if heavily damaged,' Sirius said slowly. 'But you cannot live in it even if you wanted to. See, the thing is that it has been turned over to the Ministry as a monument.'

'But ... but ... they can't do that! ... How...'

'It was the person who appointed themselves your magical guardian.' Sirius softly said.

Harry looked at the man, processing the information. 'Who?' he finally asked in a whisper.


'P – Professor Dumbledore?' Harry was stunned. 'Why would he do that?'

In response to that, Sirius sneered. 'I haven't had the chance to ask him personally, but from what I know, it was to "honour your parents".' Breathing deeply, he got himself under control. 'Still, it isn't too bad. The property is still owned by the Potter family. The proceeds from the tours-' he spat the word out with a look of disgust evident in his voice. '-conducted there go directly to your family vault. It's a good thing that Dumbledore can't use your money to contribute to charity without your consent. Otherwise your family fortune would have been worse off.'

'What do you –?'

Sirius exhaled explosively. He knew that it wasn't the boy's fault, but really, you'd think he would comprehend things a bit faster.

'The old man hasn't done anything to manage your businesses and investments. As it is, your family fortune is half of what it used to be. It would have been much worse if it wasn't for the income you get from the few solid investments and the steady income from the destroyed house turned monument. Had this been left unchecked, you would probably have been out on the streets by the time you reached your majority.' Sirius knew he was exaggerating a tad, okay, a lot, but he needed to make the lad understand.

Harry just sat there looking at his godfather blankly, trying to process the information. Apparently the headmaster, the one person who Harry looked up to was his magical guardian. And according to Sirius, he had been careless with Harry's money. But that couldn't be true ... could it?

'I can see you need time to think about it,' Sirius' voice broke through his thoughts. 'But consider this; he was also the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot fifteen years back. Yet he had me sent to Azkaban without a trial. He also put you in with those ... people.'

'Now, moving on,' Sirius continued in a tone of forced lightness after a few moments of strained silence. 'The long and short of it is that the Black properties are being renovated. The Black fortune is also quite depleted as well, but it isn't too bad. It should start picking up since I have started managing the businesses as well. Since I am now your magical guardian as well as your legal guardian, I have taken over the Potter fortune as well. But we'll discuss that later.

'Since the elves are occupied, and Kreacher is ... not very cooperative, I am afraid that the two of us will have to take care of the cleaning here.'

'Erm, why can't we just rent a room in a hotel for the summer at least?'

Sirius gave Harry a long look that made the thirteen year old fidget. 'What?' Harry finally asked nervously.

'You mean you don't know?' Sirius raised his eyebrows.

'Know what?'

Sirius simply raised his wand. 'Peter Pettigrew escaped two days back.' Grabbing the paper that came shooting towards him, he handed it to Harry who saw Pettigrew's face on the front page. Stunned, Harry read the article underneath. Ron's former "pet" had gone missing from his cell just as he was about to be transferred to Azkaban.

'Since Peter's at large,' Sirius said. 'I don't feel comfortable without some wards between us and the outside world.'

'I thought you'd want to track him down.' Harry replied, setting the paper down. He froze when he saw the ugly look on Sirius' face.

'Initially, yes I wanted very much to do something like that.' Sirius said slowly his voice flat. Taking a deep breath, he looked at Harry in the eye. 'But then I realised one thing. My primary responsibility is to see to your care and happiness. Everything else can go to hell for all I care.' Suddenly feeling emotional, Sirius looked away. 'I made a mistake once ... I am not going to repeat it again. You are, you always were, my first priority. I won't forget that again.'

Harry wasn't sure how to respond to this. He was touched that Sirius cared about him so much as to consider him his number one priority. Nobody had done that before. But at the same time he did not know what to say.

'Thanks ...' he finally said shyly. 'For ... you know ...' shrugging he looked at the patterns on the table, absently picking at his new designer jeans. He was also quite uncomfortable at the heavy tone Sirius' voice had taken.

Sirius only cleared his throat before continuing. 'Well, anyway, we're stuck here and we have to clean the house.'

Looking up (and silently grateful that Sirius sounded normal) Harry nodded. 'So where do we start?' he asked.

'Unfortunately, it's not that simple.' Sirius replied with a chuckle. 'The years of abandonment haven't left the house safe. Unlike Muggle homes where nothing happens except for an accumulation of dust, we have to deal with curses, enchantments and charms that have gone bad, and most importantly, common magical creatures and pests that will have taken up residence.'

He leaned forward, his tone extremely serious. 'As I mentioned before, Harry, the Blacks weren't a nice family. Because of their ... alignment ... the house can become especially dangerous, even more so to a child. So rule number one: you are not to go wandering off anywhere within the house. And rule number two: No handling anything strange or unfamiliar without me present, am I clear?'

Even though Harry nodded in agreement, internally he bristled at Sirius' words. He was not a child! Besides, how bad was an old house compared to the traps of the Philosopher's Stone or the Chamber of Secrets?

'Good,' Sirius nodded. 'Except for your room, the kitchen and the corridor between the aforementioned rooms and the way to the front door, you aren't to go anywhere alone. And if you see anything strange, do not even touch it without my say-so.'

Seeing Harry nod one more time, Sirius narrowed his eyes. 'Good. For your sake I hope you don't break any of these rules. I am not kidding around, mate. You won't like the consequences if you disobey.'

Harry gulped at the stern tone before nodding, tacking on a 'Yes Sir,' as well for good measure. Even though he wondered what "consequences" Sirius was talking about, he didn't want to know.

Hearing the verbal answer, Sirius sat back, satisfied. He honestly did not know what he would do if he found Harry endangering himself, and he hoped that he wouldn't have to think about it. But he had a funny feeling that he would eventually end up crossing that bridge.

'Good, now, on to other matters.' Sirius said in a calmer tone. He stared at Harry silently for a few moments before saying. 'How did you do in your third-year exams?'

Harry was caught off guard. 'Sorry, what?'

'Your third-year exams,' Sirius said slowly. 'You know..., that thing where the teachers decide to find out how much you know of their subject matter? How did you fare?'

'Um, I guess I did alright. In Astronomy –'

'Why don't you just get your mark sheet?' Sirius interrupted gently. 'We can look through the marks and then talk about it. In fact, get your previous years' marks cards too while you are at it.'

Harry looked at Sirius for a short moment before getting up and heading towards his room.

As he went upstairs, Harry wondered if the nervousness he was feeling was normal. He barely glanced at the newly painted walls of his bedroom (which was much larger than his old room in Privet Drive). Locating his trunk at the foot of his large bed (an elaborate affair with an intricately carved headboard) he dug around the mess. Finally locating his third year marks card, he plucked it out. His first year marks card required some more digging before he could find that. Obtaining it, he closed the door of the room and headed back down, the documents in hand.

Harry walked into the kitchen with a slight amount of trepidation. While he felt that he had done well in his exams, he did not know what his godfather thought of his marks. Harry suddenly remembered that his father and Sirius had both managed to become Animagi by their fifth year through self-study. According to Professor McGonagall, becoming an Animagus was very difficult and required intensive training and competent instructors. So it meant that his dad and Sirius must have been really smart indeed. Even smarter than Hermione (he doubted that his friend would be capable of the same feat). Harry wondered if he would measure up to both of them.

Harry handed the documents over to Sirius. He suddenly wished that he had studied more for his exams. It did not escape his notice that this was the first time he was asked for his report card by a parental figure.

Other than a raised eyebrow at the creased and worn report cards, Sirius' expression was neutral as he silently looked at Harry's marks.

'You have done quite well in Defence,' he finally said approvingly after what seemed like a long while. 'However,' he frowned, looking up at the boy standing across him. 'I think you could do better in Transfiguration and Charms.'

Harry fidgeted under his gaze. This uncomfortable feeling was quite new to him. 'I guess,' he finally muttered.

'Well, McGonagall and Flitwick both seem to think so too.'

Harry just mumbled something in response.

'Where's your second year marks card?'

Harry promptly launched into the story of his second year, highlighting the important events.

'And so the exams were cancelled.'

Sirius sat there and looked at Harry in stunned silence. 'I think you are leaving out a few points, but we'll get to that later. For now, this is what we are going to do. Starting tomorrow, after breakfast we shall do some cleaning till one. Then we will have lunch. After that, you are going to sit with me and we shall go over our finances. And by that I mean both Potter and Black investments. You will soon be taking these over once you are of age. Well, you will have the Potter investments when you turn seventeen, and the Black investments will be turned over to you once I either kick the cauldron, not that's going to happen soon,' he added hastily. 'Or when I get bored of all this and decide to retire and spend my days lying on my back and lazing in the sun.'

'After that,' here he paused to give Harry a piercing look. 'We will sit together and work on your schoolwork. Since I am good at Transfiguration, and moderately decent in Charms, I can help you with those. I honestly don't know how good you are in Potions, seeing as old Sniv is teaching you, and he is an unpleasant sort. I, myself am not great at it. I only got enough to pass the requirement to become an Auror. Your mother, though, was really gifted, but I digress. I'll talk to some people about getting you a Potions tutor to assess your grasp of the subject. You seem to be quite an intelligent boy, Harry, and your professors agree with me on this. I want to see this reflected in your marks.'

Unused to the novelty of having someone actually care for his academics, Harry ducked his head as he felt a sudden heaviness in his eyes. Thankfully his eyes remained dry. He would have been beyond mortified if he started blubbing like a baby in front of his godfather for no good reason.

'Finally,' Sirius said looking at the third year marks card in confusion. 'Why have you taken Divination? Care of Magical Creatures, I can understand. It's a fun class, and gets really interesting later on, but Divination?' he gave his godson a weird look. 'In my time, it was considered a girly subject. I think there were a total of two boys who went for it. One was Peter and the other one was in a relationship with a guy named Paul, the last I checked.'

It took some extra prodding for Sirius to finally get to the bottom of the answer. 'Oh Harry,' he said, pinching his nose. He really should have expected this. From what he had gleaned from those worthless Muggles, they had deliberately kept Harry as downtrodden and unmotivated as possible. He still seethed in rage when he found out Petunia's initial plans for the boy when she had first clapped eyes on him. She planned on keeping him from his heritage, sending him to some local comprehensive school and with her fat husband's help, making sure that Harry did no more than get enough marks to just pass. Eventually she envisioned him being in some low-paying job as she kicked him out the minute he came of age. In her twisted mind, it was the perfect revenge on Lily for daring to be different.

Thankfully intervention from the magical world put paid to those plans.

The Dursleys would get theirs, but right now, Sirius had a job to do.

'Harry,' he said slowly. 'Taking a subject just because your friend is doing it isn't an excuse. Even if it was, why didn't you take Ancient Runes or Arithmancy like your other friend, Hermione?'

Not getting any response (not that he expected any) Sirius continued. 'At any rate, you need to know Arithmancy, if you want to be able to properly manage your holdings. After all, all that money was accumulated over the years by your ancestors through hard work. So you will be learning some of the basics from me. This year onwards, you will be taking Arithmancy. I would prefer you take Ancient Runes as well, but if you don't want to, that's your decision. But, you are going to drop Divination. The subject is useless and meant only for either those with Seer blood running in their families, or for ninnies. And you, son, are neither.'

Harry nodded jerkily, fully overcome with emotion. While he felt about ten inches tall with the tongue lashing he had been given, he also felt elated that somebody finally cared enough about his life to do something to make it better. For so long, he had been on his own...

Stern expression fading, Sirius got up. 'Hey, now,' he said gently as he engulfed Harry in a brief hug. 'I know I sounded harsh, Harry, but I really want what's best for you.' Pulling out of the hug, he caressed the back of the boy's neck. 'Besides, it could be much worse ... at least I haven't threatened to pull you out of the Quidditch Team if your marks aren't satisfactory.'

Harry's head shot up at this. 'Y – You aren't –'

Chuckling, Sirius ruffled the boy's hair. 'Well, I haven't ... yet ... but that is an option I won't hesitate using.' Fixing the boy a stern look he said, 'See that you don't give me reason to consider threatening you that way.'

Sirius' lips twitched at the speed at which the boy nodded.

'Good,' he clapped the boy's shoulder. 'Now, why don't you go up and unpack? You have a big wardrobe that needs filling and we have some clothes that need burning. Hop to it.'

Playfully smacking the teenager's bum, Sirius sent the boy out of the kitchen.

Once Harry had left, Sirius heavily sat back down. He was quite surprised at how parental he sounded.

He silently exhaled. At least things had gone smoothly. He was definitely not looking forward to the first time he had to punish the boy. He fervently hoped that time never came.

Harry unpacked his things with a small smile on his face. Things had started off well. Admittedly he did have his reservations. The day after he had happily said yes, the doubts had started. What if Sirius wasn't as brilliant as Harry thought? What if Azkaban was too hard on him and he decided that he didn't want a kid like Harry around? It was thoughts like this that had plagued his mind till Sirius had come to pick him up.

Of course, the doubts hadn't been fully laid to rest, but they had been muted. Harry would never admit it out loud, but he had enjoyed the hug (however brief) and a small part of him was elated at being called "son" by Sirius, even if that was a casual use of the term.

Harry decided that Sirius was right to expect all that he said. After all, he only wanted Harry to do well. But he couldn't help but bristle a little at the demands that he drop Divination. Sure the subject was stupid, and Trelawney couldn't go one class without predicting Harry's death, but at the same time, Harry did enjoy making stuff up for his homework and getting away with it. Professor McGonagall, for one, could spot a shoddy piece of homework in a trice.

The next few days passed in a whirlwind. While Harry never did take up Sirius' (in Sirius' own opinion) generous offer about the dress code, he did adjust to the new timetable Sirius had set for him. The very next day, Harry found out about one major advantage that living with Sirius afforded him. He could use magic!

According to his godfather, Number Twelve Grimmauld Place (the name still cracked Harry up – his godfather was called Sirius, and he stayed in a grim old place.) was protected by a large number of wards. This high concentration of magic, plus the fact that Harry was living with an adult wizard meant that the Ministry could not properly tell if Harry was using magic. In fact, they couldn't even tell if anyone was using magic in the house.

And so, for the first time in his life, Harry experienced the joys of being able to use the arcane force outside school and to his heart's content.

Cleaning Grimmauld Place wasn't a monotonous affair. The old house was riddled with common magical pests and other minor creatures that Harry had learnt about in his third year. They had so far encountered Doxies, a Boggart, a Bundimun (which Sirius very reluctantly dispatched) and a particularly murderous ghoul.

As Sirius had mentioned, there were quite a few objects which had mutated as the enchantments placed on them warped with the prolonged exposure to the wild magic. For example, the library (the first room they had started cleaning) had a bunch of books that had gone feral and had developed the habit of bashing people on the head every time someone came close to them.

It was less like cleaning and more like waging war with a house. And the house had help, in the form of Kreacher, the Black family's house-elf.

Sirius sorely wished that he could get rid of the elf. However, he suspected that the elf knew a few secrets and would be more than happy to run off to Narcissa. He did not fancy killing it either since he found that distasteful. But, as the days went by, he began to find the prospect of killing the wretched creature more and more appealing.

The elf particularly hated Harry and his hatred of Sirius had grown exponentially. Sirius even knew when that had happened and why. Kreacher really did not like it when he had given Regulus' old room to Harry and had all of his younger brother's possessions shelved and stored.

While Sirius knew that the elf could not harm him or Harry directly, he knew it would be a matter of time before the elf found a way to go around Sirius' orders. Harry's story about the Malfoy house-elf had only made him worry more.

As they cleaned the house and boxed many heirlooms (for perusal and, if necessary, disposal) the elf's resentment visibly grew till Sirius was forced to order Kreacher to stay in his mother's old room. Sirius dearly hoped the elf found some satisfaction with being close to Walburga's and Regulus' possessions.

The upshot of the cleaning escapade was Harry's education. Sirius used the opportunity to teach the boy some new curses, charms and hexes, some of which were a Black family secret. He also used every situation they came across as a lesson to teach Harry.

The boy really was quite bright. He had picked up the basics of Arithmancy quickly and was capable of making instinctive leaps of logic. If Sirius wasn't mistaken, Harry would soon be able to join the Arithmancy class with the rest of his peers.

They had also revisited the last three years of Harry's magical education at Hogwarts. Compared to teaching a dim-witted chubby talentless twit the process of becoming an Animagus, revising the basics of transfiguration with his fairly intelligent godson was easy and far more rewarding. Mentioning the possibility of Animagus lessons lit a fire in the teenager's eyes, making him put more effort into his studies.

Sirius was not as good in Charms, but he had managed to scrape a decent E in his N.E.W.T.s. Thankfully, he only had to deal with the first three years of the syllabus. That was easy.

Potions was a major weak spot for Sirius. He had only done the bare minimum to get his N.E.W.T.s, just enough to get into the Auror program. He never did like that subject, despite Slughorn's capability to teach well. Out of the four of them, Peter (and he still couldn't say that name without a surge of hot anger coursing through him) was the best in the subject.

Judging by Harry's report card, he was passable at Potions. But Sirius didn't hold much value towards to those marks seeing as they were given by Snape.

And hence, the need to get a tutor for Harry: Sirius had sent out enquiries for his old teacher. He wondered if Slughorn was still around and willing to make a quick Galleon or two as a private tutor. The allure of instructing the Boy Who Lived would be enough to get the walrus coming! Unfortunately, Slughorn had yet to reply to the letter sent to him. Finding another free Potions Master in Britain was proving to be quite a difficult task. Sirius was beginning to consider lowering his standards to settling for a recent school leaver who had good marks in Potions, or just getting someone who obtained a good O.W.L. result in the subject. Teenagers always loved to make extra pocket money.

Until then, they had to make do with the library. It had taken three days, but it was the first room to be "cleaned" and declared safe for Harry to enter without supervision. Sirius hoped that Slughorn came soon, his plans to send the boy to Beauxbatons would be helped greatly then.

But all that could happen later. Right now, he had a more pressing issue to take care of.

It was a week after Harry had come to live in Grimmauld Place, and Sirius felt that it was high time to broach an important subject.

'Before we commence with cleaning, I have something I want to talk to you about.' Sirius said gravely.

'What about?'

Looking at Harry carefully, Sirius began to speak. 'I have been doing some thinking, and I am of the opinion that you would be better off going to a different magical school.'

'You're pulling me out of school?' Harry asked numbly.

'Well, not exactly. I plan on transferring you from Hogwarts to a different school. So it isn't exactly "pulling you out"'

'But – but where?'

'Beauxbatons,' Sirius replied succinctly. 'It's in France.'

Hearing this, the pieces fell in place for Harry. Now he understood why Sirius had the elves renovating the villa in France.

As he listened to Sirius talking about how he felt it was safer there instead of Hogwarts, Harry began to get angry.

'NO! I won't let you! Just because Dum –'

Quick as a whip, Sirius drew out his wand and cast a silencing charm on the boy before he could finish. It took Harry a moment to realise that he could not speak.

'Calm down,' Sirius said in a low voice. The unsaid comment about Dumbledore had struck a nerve. Seeing a still mutinous expression on the boy's face, Sirius sighed. 'Let me put it this way,' he said calmly. 'You have a choice. The first route you can take is the one you currently have chosen. Here, you will yell, and I will tell you to watch your tone and give my reasons for sending you to Beauxbatons. At this point, I will be reasonable enough to hear any counter argument you have. But then you will yell more, throwing in some colourful words in the middle. Then I will tell you to watch your tone and your language. By this time, I won't be in any mood to listen to any point you want to make, no matter how valid it might be. So, I will proceed to put my foot down and say that you are going to Beauxbatons, and that is final. On hearing that, you will initially be shocked, but then will recover and say something hurtful, mean and/or defiant. Then you will get up and go to your room, probably stomping around like a deranged elephant. When you reach your room, you will proceed to slam the door as hard as you possibly could. Then you will sulk, give me dirty looks every time we meet, have a few tantrums now and then, and basically make this a miserable experience for both you and me.

'The end result of this path will be you going to Beauxbatons at the start of their term, which according to this,' he waved a brochure, 'Is, quite conveniently, on the first of September.'

'Now that is what's going to happen if you, in short, act like a small child. However, there is another path. Here, instead of yelling as loudly as possible, you calmly listen to what I have to say and then, once I am done, you evenly and respectfully give me your counter-argument. In short, we will have an adult discussion. Should you decide to go down this route ... well there is a chance that I might listen to what you have to say and not have you transferred to Beauxbatons.'

Sirius paused for a moment to let his words sink into the boy's skull. Seeing Harry reasonably calm, he said. 'Well? Have you made your choice? I will take this opportunity to tell you that if you plan on going the first route, then please feel free to get up right now and go to your room where you can throw as violent a tantrum as you want, because you will soon be finding out how good you look in light blue robes. You see, I really don't cherish having to argue. It gives me acidity.'

He had seen James' father do the very same thing to James once (not that James knew about it) and had been quite impressed with the tactic. He hoped that it worked here.

Seeing that Harry had not moved, Sirius smiled and lifted the silencing charm.

'Right, now why I want you to go to Beauxbatons,' Sirius began. 'The main reason is that you seem to be in a lot of danger in Hogwarts. I have listened to your stories about your exploits over the past three years in school, and there are a few things that concern me. First we have the Philosopher's Stone in your first year which culminated in you facing off Voldemort at eleven. Additionally, in my opinion, the traps guarding the Stone are quite suspect. Three First-Years, no matter how smart, should not be able to get to such a powerful artefact. That you managed to do so either means that Dumbledore is inept, or he has some agenda planned for you. In your second year you had to face an ancient basilisk of all things. While you were never in any direct danger from me in your third year, and I accept that Pettigrew's disguise was too good for people to notice, two out of three is not a good score, no matter how you put it. And that isn't even considering the dementors that managed to infiltrate the Quidditch pitch.

'Personally, I think you are safer in another school, far away from Britain and Dumbledore. I love Hogwarts, Merlin knows I do, but I prefer that you manage to complete a year without having to risk your life. Your biggest worries should be Quidditch, girls, homework and your end of year exams. Not attempts on your life.'

The room descended into silence as Sirius watched Harry. The boy had his head bowed as he listened to Sirius speak, considering the words. On one hand, he could see Sirius' point of view, but at the same time, he did not want to leave Hogwarts! He had made friends there ... for the very first time! And the school had really grown on him. Twice he looked up at Sirius' calm face and opened his mouth, but both times he had closed it without making a sound.

Seeing his godson getting frustrated, Sirius decided to throw him a bone. 'How about this; we shelve this discussion for now, you think about it, see if you can come up with a reason why you should remain in Hogwarts. At this point there isn't much of a rush, but I would prefer it that we resolve this today evening, tomorrow at the most.'

'OK,' Harry said softly as he stood.

The two of them continued their day as normal. However, Harry was especially quiet as he thought about Sirius' decision.

By the end of the day, Harry was ready to make his case. While he acknowledged the points Sirius had raised, and knew he had no rebuttal, he nevertheless earnestly defended Hogwarts. He spoke about how he had made his first ever friends there and how the castle had always felt like home to him. He then mentioned that Hogwarts was still the best in the world as far as magical education was concerned and that he shouldn't settle for less. Finally in a burst of desperate inspiration, he concluded that the two major incidents in his first and second years were isolated.

'I agree that those traps were really very easy in my first year, Sirius, but the incidents of my second year were because Lucius Malfoy had put that diary with Ginny's book to discredit Mr Weasley and get Dumbledore booted out. There was no involvement on Dumbledore's side. Also, also, well ... most of that stuff wouldn't have happened if we hadn't decided to go after the Stone or the basilisk.'

Sirius considered what Harry said for a long moment.

'So,' he began slowly. 'What you are saying is that you purposefully rushed into danger? This is disturbing ... I think I should look up a mind Healer...'

'No,' Harry said vehemently. 'We did not go looking for danger! It just ... happened.'

'Ah, so trouble just happened to find you ... is that what you are saying?'

Harry shrugged. 'Yeah, I guess.'

'You do realise that this isn't helping your case.' Sirius said matter-of-factly. 'Won't sending you to Beauxbatons make sure that trouble does not find you?'

'How do you know that it won't?' Harry challenged.

Despite himself, Sirius couldn't help but let out a snort of amusement.

'Look, Sirius,' Harry said after a pause. 'Why can't you give this one year a chance? Just one year. I promise that I won't get in any trouble. Besides, this time it's different. There was no real danger the last year, so this one may just be normal! Please?'

Sirius sighed at the pleading look on Harry's face. He knew he shouldn't, he knew that Harry needed to be far away from Dumbledore. But those eyes! He really couldn't say no those large green eyes.

'I'm probably going to regret this,' he finally said as he closed his eyes. 'But, fine. However,' he cut across the boy's cheering. 'Just one year. If I feel that it isn't safe enough, and you are better off in Beauxbatons, then you are going. No arguments.'

'Yes sir,' Harry said enthusiastically. He was going to make sure that Sirius never had any reason to transfer him.

'And I want good marks. Also, you are learning French. There is no harm in learning a foreign language. It builds character.'

Harry's enthusiastic agreement had Sirius wondering if he should make more demands, but he desisted. He hoped he wasn't making a mistake.

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