The Burrow was just like Harry remembered it. The oddly made house flashed all different colors, reaching out in welcome as each one of them made to enter the house. The house glowed even brighter as another person walked through the door and Harry couldn't help but watch in wonder. It would never be boring, watching magic at work, Harry thought happily as he joined the others inside the house.
To say that he was rather surprised to see Sirius Black sitting at the table waiting for him was an understatement. The last time he had seen the man, Sirius had looked gaunt, a beard and wild hair hiding his facial features, and his eyes glowed with a crazed gleam. Even though the man had sounded much saner in their letters, Harry hadn't been able to separate the man he'd met with the one he was exchanging letters with.
This Sirius Black was clean shaven and his eyes held laughter and warmth with an accompanying darkness, the crazed gleam nowhere in sight. He had filled out quite a bit as well, his face no longer gaunt though still not as round as he knew it should have been. In all, Harry was looking at an entirely different man than he had met in the Shrieking Shack. 'That is an impressive improvement,' Gabriel commented absently, likely studying the man just as much as Harry was.
"Harry!" Sirius greeted with a wide grin, his eyes shining with excitement and hope. Harry couldn't help the answering grin that spread across his own face.
"It's nice to see you again, Sirius," Harry greeted the man, only to find himself wrapped in a hug only moments later. He could see Mrs. Weasely watching them from the doorway with a bright smile as Harry hugged the man back. The approval in her eyes warmed his chest and for once, Harry felt that everything was going perfectly in his life.
Sirius released him and studied his face with curious eyes. "I have to say, you look more and more like your parents every time I see you."
Harry started, looking at the man with questioning eyes. "I was always told that I took after my dad more than my mum," he told the man, tilting his head slightly in confusion.
Sirius laughed. "They likely didn't know your parents as well as me," Sirius said with a shake of his head. "I admit that you resemble James when he was a child but the older you get, the more of Lily I see in you. Not just her eyes, either. You've got her cheek bones and her coloring as well."
Harry didn't know what to say to that. Ever since he'd first returned to the Wizarding World when he was eleven, he'd been told that he looked just like his father with his mother's eyes. If what Sirius said was true, Harry looked more like his mother than he'd been told. He'd always thought that he could see a bit of this mother in him, comparing his face to his father's and hers in the pictures he had of them. This was the first time someone had agreed with his assessment though and Harry felt a large smile spread across his face.
And that was how the summer of his fourth year started.
They spent hours talking before Harry was forced to give in to his bodies demands and get some sleep.
Harry woke up early the next day, excited to spend the day with his godfather looking for houses. Mrs. Weasley was already making breakfast as Harry made his way to the downstairs bathroom. In the time he'd spent at the Burrow, Harry had been quick to learn that the upstairs bathroom tended to be the more likely target of the twins verses the downstairs bathroom. He was still waiting for Ron to come to the same conclusion until then, Harry had no problem watching his redheaded best friend fall for yet another prank the Twins had set up in the upstairs bathroom for the poor fool who was brave enough to use it next.
"Good morning, dear!" Mrs. Weasley called from the kitchen.
"Good morning, Mrs. Weasley!" Harry called back before closing the bathroom door. It took him less than ten minutes to get dressed and brush his teeth. He wanted to be ready for when Sirius would come to pick him up.
Elated didn't even describe how currently he felt. Even with memories of countless lives where he had a family that loved him, those were only memories and they weren't nearly as powerful as the memory of growing up with the Dursley's was. Harry couldn't distance himself as easily from his current life's childhood memories like he could the memories of his other lives.
With the Weasley's, Harry had found a family for himself. Ever since that first Christmas, he had kept in contact with the two oldest Weasley children and had received a few letters from Mrs. Weasley and after he had saved Ginny…well, he wasn't all that surprised that they had wanted him to live with them full time. They were his family in every way that mattered, just like Hope and her foals were, not to mention Hagrid. He couldn't forget Buckbeak, Ruth, Havoc or Tinker, either. He'd gone from a lonely orphan to having a large extended family and now he had the chance to add a part of his original family (well, from this lifetime, at least) onto that list as well. Harry was beyond elated.
And so was Gabriel. It seemed that no matter what life he was living, Harry had always had an extensive family. His memories from his time as an angel were still vastly incomplete (he hadn't even reached the creation of anything besides Heaven yet) but from what he knew about angels, there were a lot of them. An army of them, to be exact. Harry was often intimidated by the amount of siblings he would eventually remember, siblings that he would likely be meeting again in the near future once he was complete again. Gabriel was oddly silent on the matter of their angel siblings, however.
His thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice coming from the kitchen, chatting with Mrs. Weasley.
"Hello Sirius!" Harry called as he exited the bathroom.
"You're up early," Sirius said in surprise, greeting him with a large grin. Gray eyes flickered to his hair. "I see that your hair is just as unruly as your father's was."
Harry grimaced. His hair had never been tamable and it tended to look like he had crawled out of bed no matter how many times he brushed it. He'd given up on it entirely and only bothered brushing the black locks to keep them from knotting together. Other than that, he left it as it was. Even Mrs. Weasley didn't comment on the state of his hair anymore after a few attempts to tame it that somehow ended up with a broken brush and even more knots in his hair than what he'd started with.
Sirius laughed at the look on both Harry's and Mrs. Weasley's faces, likely guessing exactly what had happened. "That bad, huh?"
Harry nodded, his hands unconsciously moving to pat down his unruly hair. "I've never been able to tame it and it never seems to grow more than this," he told his godfather with a sigh. "Aunt Petunia tried cutting it herself once and it grew back to the way it was the next morning."
"Not surprising," Sirius told him, grinning. "James and Charlus had the exact same problem. It drove Dorea and Lily bonkers trying to tame it and even house-elf magic had no effect on their hair. I would be shocked if you managed to do more than run a brush through it."
Harry nodded gloomily. His hair was always been a sore point for him, especially after all of those horrible trips to the barber and his aunt's attempts to tame it herself. It was one of the few things that were unique to this life and only this life. While he had been an orphan in more than one life, this was the only life where his parents had been brutally murder by a megalomaniac that wanted to rule the world and commit mass genocide. A fact that he was very much grateful for; dealing with Voldemort in this life was bad enough.
'Not to mention that we've never had to fight a basilisk with a sword before, nor have we been attacked by a swarm of soul-eating monsters trying to kill us. And we definitely have never discovered that an escaped convict was our godfather and that he was really innocent and the real murderer was living as our best friend's pet rat,' Gabriel added helpfully. 'Not to mention the whole piece of Voldemort's soul attacking our school fiasco that lead up to the basilisk incident.'
'Thank you for pointing out everything that has gone wrong for us during our school years thus far.' Harry grumbled, annoyed. He didn't need reminding of everything that he'd been dealing with for the past two years. And that was without discovering that he was a humanized Archangel of the Lord and that his memories of that time had been given consciousness. Gabriel didn't comment anymore, seemingly pleased with himself for some reason. Harry wasn't sure what that reason was and decided he was likely better off not knowing.
He was usually better off not knowing.
"Ready to go then?" Sirius asked. Harry didn't have to think about it, nodding enthusiastically.
"Not without breakfast you don't!" Mrs. Weasley interrupted, giving both Harry and Sirius a glance over. "You're both thin as twigs! Now sit down and eat!"
Two plates filled with sausages and eggs appeared in front of them. Sirius gave the plate a bewildered glance before turning to look at the redheaded matron. Seeing her stern expression, his godfather promptly decided that arguing wasn't worth it.
Harry fought back his laughter as he too dug into the plate of food in front of him.
This was already looking to be a wonderful day.
The first house they visited was, well, a dump. It was a townhouse in the middle of London and dirt and grime covered the walls. It also seemed to be furnished however Harry wasn't sure that he wanted to know what that umbrella stand was made of.
That was when the screaming started. Loud, horrible screeches came from the wall just inside the doorway and Harry found himself having to dismiss the blade he had instinctively called on during the tirade of what appeared to be a Wizard's Portrait. Sirius was screaming back at the thing and Harry had a horrible feeling that this wasn't one of the houses they were looking at to buy. Judging from the appearance of a rather unpleasant looking house-elf, Harry's theory was likely correct.
"Just shut up for one second you old hag!" Sirius finally roared, stunning the portrait into silence. The rather ugly looking woman looked stunned. "That's better." Sirius said with a relieved sigh. "Harry, welcome to Number 12 Grimmauld Place, one of the ancestral homes of the House of Black. The place where I've been staying for the time being."
'More like ancestral dump,' Gabriel commented. 'I'm pretty sure that wallpaper shouldn't move like that. Yeesh, he's been living here?'
Harry jerked away from the wall on his left, where small little bumps moved under the paper there. He turned a skeptical eye towards his godfather, motioning to the obviously bug infected paper. Sirius grimaced.
"Don't worry, we won't be living here," the man reassured him. "I'm just here to pick up a few things and I'll be checking on the property periodically after we move. It's part of my duties now that I'm the new Lord Black."
Oh, yeah. Harry had forgotten about that. Sirius had never really mentioned it before so the newspaper article announcing him as the new Black Lord had pretty much disappeared from his mind. Harry had to admit that he didn't envy his godfather for having to deal with this place on a regular basis. He wasn't sure why the elf, who was rather obviously alive as he was glaring holes into his godfather, had let the place get as bad as it was.
Sirius seemed to be thinking along the same lines. "Kreacher!" Sirius snapped at the house-elf who glared right back.
'I'm sensing a not to pleasant history there,' Gabriel mused as they watched the mutual hatred radiate from the two. 'Best to not get involved.'
'No kidding,' Harry thought back, grimacing as the glaring contest waged on far longer than what was likely appropriate. He coughed politely.
Sirius jerked at the sound before flushing in embarrassment. "Why is it that you've yet to clean this place up?"
"Is only Kreacher now, Master," the house-elf sneered. And really, that did explain a lot. There was no way that one house-elf would be able to do everything, no matter the expectations most wizards put on them.
Sirius sighed as well, looking around in disgust. "Go see what can be salvaged besides what I've already packed. Pack up all the artifacts you can and I'll go store them in the Black Vault. No doubt some of them are the cause for the lack of other house-elves."
'Yikes,' Gabriel whistled. 'Those have got to be some really dark and powerful artifacts then. I wouldn't want those just lying around either.'
'Why not just destroy them?' Harry asked, frowning. His past lives in the Wizarding World hadn't given him all that much information on dark artifacts. Spells, yes. Rituals, unfortunately. Artifacts? For some reason, he'd had no experience with even one.
'Dark Artifacts, and sometimes even Neutral Artifacts, that are powerful enough to kill tend to be near impossible to destroy for ordinary magic users, human or not. It would take a lot of experience in curse breaking, knowledge of enchantments that likely are mostly lost in time, and a good amount of power to destroy one without risking permanent harm to oneself.' Gabriel explained easily. 'I doubt that the rules for this world are that much different. Storing them in a vault and hiding them away from the world is much safer for everyone all around.'
That made quite a bit of sense, Harry conceded.
"I suppose I should look into filling the gaps left by those elves' deaths." Sirius said with a sigh. "That's going to take some time."
Yes it was, if the house-elf trade was anything like it had been during Harry's fourth life (in proper order, not in the order he'd remembered them) in this world. House-elves were highly sought after creatures and it was rare that a free elf stuck around long enough to be bought instead of just heading straight to Hogwarts. Most elves bound to a family were descendants of the original house-elves that had bound to the family.
Harry paused, an idea forming in his head. "Hey Sirius? Where's the bathroom?"
After getting a rather detailed reply- 'Past the shrunken elf heads?!' – Harry quickly headed for the secluded room as quickly as he could, making sure that Sirius didn't follow him. Passing the Shrunken Head wall, which disturbed them beyond belief, Harry ducked into the bathroom. "Dobby," he whispered, hoping the elf would answer.
The elf quickly appeared in front of him, eyes wide with surprised tears. His hands were bandaged and Harry could make out dried blood on his tunic-sack that looked fresher than he was comfortable with. "Harry Potter sir call for Dobby?" the elf asked in awe.
"I did," Harry said with a nod, keeping his voice gentle. "My godfather's looking for new house-elves and I was hoping your master might be willing to make a deal."
Hope was a powerful emotion and seeing it bloom within oversized eyes made Harry want to kill whoever it was that owned the elf. This was even worse than he remembered it being and it made angry that he'd not been able to do anything before now. "Harry Potter sir means it? He wants Dobby to works for hims godfather?"
"I wouldn't want any other elf," Harry told him seriously. Dobby had been instrumental in helping him deal with the Chamber of Secrets in their second year, going so far as to warn him even though it might likely mean death for the elf if he was found out. "Now, this is what we're going to do…"
Sirius frowned, watching his godson's retreating back as Harry made his way to the bathroom. Something told him that Harry hadn't really needed to use it.
His godson was different from what he remembered and though he could see both Lily and James in him, there was also something…otherworldly about him. In the way his eyes shined with power and age, so much older than even Sirius' own eyes looked. He'd thought that it was just the after affects of Azkaban, when he'd first met Harry in the Shrieking Shack but it was still there. Harry moved with a grace that most adults couldn't pull off and energy seemed to swirl around him, leaving a taste of lightning in the air.
Ever since he was a child, Sirius had been able to sense things that others couldn't. It was a rare ability passed down in the Black family, the only thing that had ever put pride into the eyes of his parents, and it had only gotten stronger during his years in Azkaban. He wasn't sure if it was the power of the Dementors that strengthened it or if it was his long weeks in the form of a grim that had done it. All he knew was that looking at his godson he could tell that there was more to the boy than Harry was letting on.
Sometimes, if stared hard enough, he could even seen the outline of wings behind Harry's back. It was unnerving to say the least.
The Potter family had very few creatures in their line and none closer than ten generations back. Lily was a muggleborn, so there was no way that he could have gotten it from her, either. He'd looked into it when he'd been in Saint Mungos recovering, tearing through every book that he'd had Remus bring him.
The werewolf had been bewildered when he'd told him his suspicions the night before, finally willing to admit that this wasn't just a hallucination or his imagination.
To say that he'd been shocked when Remus had admitted to sensing similar things was perhaps inaccurate. In fact, he'd been counting on the werewolf's senses to confirm his own when he'd fire-called him the man.
So now he was stuck trying to figure out exactly how to broach the subject with his godson. Unlike when they had first confronted Remus on his status as a werewolf, Sirius was unsure of how to proceed with this. They had known what Remus was for a good year before they'd confronted him but he didn't even have any clue to what Harry was.
He didn't know but he'd figure it out.
"Hey Sirius?" Harry's voice broke the silence he'd let fall between him and Kreacher.
"Yeah?" He asked easily, looking to his godson's rather nervous form. It was the first time he'd ever seen the boy even slightly nervous. 'A suspected mass murderer has him and his friends cornered in a room alone and he doesn't break a sweat,' Sirius thought in bewilderment. 'But asking me a question has him toeing the floor like a naughty child?'
"About that house-elf situation…"
As Harry explained his idea, Sirius felt his smile growing wider and wider. This was definitely something he could get behind! Focusing on what his godson was saying, Sirius let all thoughts of confronting the boy slip out of his mind.
He could always figure it out later.