They Came Bearing Freedom
"Where are we going, Sirius?" asked Clara, quite confused at the blindfold she had found covering her eyes.
She didn't see any cause for secrecy, they'd been living in this house for weeks, and it wasn't like she hadn't seen all the screaming armoires and complimentary mirrors yet.
"You'll see in a moment, lass." chuckled Sirius, as though he knew something she didn't, which he clearly did, given the excited tugging on her hand asking for her to move faster.
"Well, have it over with then, I've just about had it with these stairs." she said, just as she managed to stub her toe rather spectacularly on the second step from the top.
Chuckling again, Sirius said "Okay dear, settle yourself just- yes, there. Perfect."
Sirius sat her down on the couch in the middle of the room and said "Alright, I'm going to remove the blindfold, don't have a fit."
"Alright, alright, but this had better not be like last week's biting tea cozy, and we all know how that ended."
Removing the blindfold, Sirius shouted "Ta-da!"
Standing just before her were two identical, ginger twin boys, with ever identical mischievous grins.
"Wotcher, honey. What's doin'?" They said in stereo, the first bending down to kiss Clara's hand.
Laughing a bit, "Enchanté." said Clara. "And just who, exactly, are you?"
"Why, we're Gred and Forge!" they pronounced.
"Masters of disguise-" Gred started, "And comics extraordinaire!" finished Forge.
And then, in unison "We're the Weasley twins, at your service, milady." And they bent down, both of them this time, to kiss her hands.
Turning back to Sirius now, "Oh yes, I most definitely do like them, Sirius. So very polite." said Clara.
Taking a step closer to her, Sirius gestured toward the grinning Weasley twins, and said, "Clara, may I introduce to you Fred and George Weasley. They happen to know their way in and out of the Hogwarts castle, and have agreed to supply us with information, so long as we get Kreacher to venture down Knockturn alley to fetch a certain few things for their- ah- experimentations." He finished, with a skeptical look in their direction.
"Experimentations?" asked Clara mildly, looking back at the twins.
"Ah yes, milady," said George, "We happen to be the most prolific pranksters at Hogwarts school in many generations."
"If we do say so ourselves." said Fred.
"Right, Hogwarts. You did say we needed to get information from inside, didn't you, Sirius?" asked Clara.
"I did, indeed." he replied.
"Well, as cozy as this old, and quite rickety sofa is, might I suggest that we travel across the hall to the sitting room? I've a feeling that there's some explaining to do."
"Marvelous idea, Clara, I did have you pegged for a smart one." said Fred, smiling.
"Come milady, your chamber awaits." said George, and they both looped their arms through Clara's to goose march her across the hall.
Rolling his eyes, Sirius followed them into a comfortable sort of velveteen room.
There was a plush sofa made of green velvet, a loveseat decorated in much the same manner, and a high backed chair, also green, but upholstered in corduroy, sitting in the middle of the room. All three were facing each other, and they sat upon an ornate, oriental carpet.
There were great, heavy drapes hung over one large window on the wall opposite the door, and just past the assorted furniture. Tied with heavy tassels, they parted when the foursome walked into the room, (eliciting a "woah" from the twins), to reveal what was undoubtedly an enchanted window. It displayed a scene in an evergreen forest bathed in the low light of a summer evening.
The room was warm and welcoming, and one Sirius had lit the fireplace on the western wall, a heated glow was added to the atmosphere.
Sirius knew it was beautiful, but it still felt like prison.
"I gotta hand it to you, Clara, you sure know how to pick'em."
"Yes, well, I tend to drag books from the library in here to read- it's quite gloomy among those dusty stacks of yours, Sirius."
And slightly full of hex traps.
"Don't look at me, I didn't do the décor." he said, with his hands held up in mock surrender.
They all took their seats- the twins on the couch, Clara on the loveseat, and Sirius in the chair- and Clara asked for their supposed information.
"Well," said the twins, "You're not gonna like it."
"Out with it, you two." said Sirius.
"Sirius, they've brought dementors." admitted Fred.
"No." said Clara, "They couldn't possibly."
I wonder if I'll ever be free of them.
"I'm afraid they have, honey, and they don't show signs of leaving. The minister's got a serious issue with you escaping, I'd wager."
"They're there because we escaped?" asked Sirius, his voice tinged with fear.
"Right in one." said the twins. "Fudge says he can't have the deadly Sirius Black breaking in to kill the poor, innocent Harry Potter."
"Fudge?" asked Clara.
"Cornelius Fudge, Clara," said Sirius, "He's our minister for magic."
Brilliant. There's always a political sycophant to deal with, and it always is my very least favorite part.
Clara nodded in assent, and gestured for the twins to keep on.
"He's a useless old bat, isn't he? Trying to cover his own arse over the prison break, and how's he do it? By bringing the foulest, most insidious creatures into a school for children, for Merlin's sake." said Fred, clearly disgusted.
"And another thing, Harry's got a bit of a nasty reaction to being near them." said George.
"Oh?" said Sirius.
"Yeah, he passes out every time one comes near him."
"One got near him?" Sirius asked with a quiet fear, again.
"Yeah, on the train." said Fred.
"Security collapsed a bit, and one got inside, was almost on him, when Lupin cast Expecto." said George.
"Lupin?" asked Sirius. He hadn't heard that name in what felt like a thousand years.
Grinning again, Fred said "Yeah, Dumbledore's got him on to teach Defense this year. Everyone loves him, he's brilliant, Padfoot. Wait 'till you see."
"Defense against the dark arts?" asked Clara. Seeing Sirius' nod, she continued, "I read about that quite a lot in your library, dear. Your parents certainly had a taste for the squishy and slimy. There was some right nasty stuff in this one volume- it was shut with a burning hex; I had to ask Kreacher to undo it for me.
Anyhow, I still don't see how Dumbledore could let Dementors on the castle grounds. Aren't there child safety laws or something?"
"Nay, lassie, the wizarding world is different to the one you grew up in. We don't have any laws like that, and our discrimination laws are way past due for reformation." said Sirius, thinking of Remus. "We're quite stuck in the fourteenth century, m'dear. Right down to the arranged marriages and blood sacrifices." explained Sirius.
"Ah yes, I gathered from the severed elf heads on the wall downstairs. I suppose magic changes things."
"That it does." said Sirius.
"Hey, how did you two escape, anyway? We've got "Hogwarts: a History" here, and it says you can't apparate out of the school grounds."
"We didn't apparate out of Hogwarts, we took the one eyed witch passage down into Hogsmeade. We apparated from inside Honeydukes, the sweet shop there." replied Fred.
"Ah," said Clara, "Very clever."
Clever, but easy.
"Yeah, but Dumbledore's got eyes all over the place, and the bloke's a hundred and what- fifty?" said Fred. "It was too easy. Way too easy."
"We should have run into Snape, at least." said George. "Dumbledore wouldn't have let us away that easy if he didn't approve of our final destination. He must know, or have one of those inklings of his."
Yes, that sounds more like it.
"Ah-Sirius" George said, turning to him now, "We left him a message. Dumbledore."
"Before we left, in front of the one-eyed witch's passage." interjected George.
"Just exactly what kind of message do you mean?" asked Sirius, this time with a suspicious glint to his eye.
"A paw print."
"A paw print?"
"A paw print."
"And did you happen to mention just who this paw print was meant to belong to?" Asked Sirius, who was starting to breathe shallowly.
"Well, you see, we sort of left a message along with it-" started George.
"Ahem." In unison now, "the loyalty of a dog to his best friend is never to be questioned, and the loyalty of a rat can never be given completely."
How lovely, and poetic. I knew I liked them.
Sirius was quiet now, seemingly mulling over what the twins had just said, and considering the fact that no one had yet knocked down the door to 12 Grimmauld place.
"That's what we enchanted it to say, at the wave of Dumbledore's wand."
"Do you think he always knew?" asked Clara.
"Yeah." said Fred.
Sirius was still quiet, so Fred said "We think Hogwarts may be safe for you."
Sirius sat back in his chair now, and contemplated the fact that he might now have an ally on the light side for the first time in twelve years. Suddenly the velveteen room didn't seem so cloistering as it had only minutes before. There was freedom in the air, and Sirius could taste it.