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The Boy Who Killed God

Chapter 2

AUGUST 6, 1971

Orion Black and Kreacher were waiting outside the Leaky Cauldron when Walburga Apparated across the street, Sirius plastered closely to her side. As soon as the woozy feeling settled in his stomach, Sirius took a good step away from his mother, extracting himself from her and going to stand opposite his father.

“Sirius,” Orion greeted him, before planting an obligatory kiss on Walburga’s cheek.

“Father. Kreacher,” Sirius said in return, as Orion ushered them all through the doors to the Leaky Cauldron.

Sirius had been here before, most recently with his cousin, Andromeda, the year before to celebrate her graduation from Hogwarts. She’d escorted him and Regulus to Florean Fortescue’s Ice-cream Parlour and the Black brothers finally met Andromeda’s secret boyfriend, but only after they’d been sworn to secrecy. Ted Tonks was a Muggle-born wizard, the first one Sirius had ever properly met. Pain had shot up his arm when Ted shook his hand, culminating in an all-consuming burning caused by the tattoo on Sirius’s chest. He’d managed, however, to keep a straight face and hide his sigh of relief, when finally Ted released his hand and the burning stopped. Andromeda had shot him a grateful look and Sirius had felt rather brave, for having endured the pain of touching a Muggle-born. Regulus, on the other hand, had let out a whimper of pain and yanked his hand away from Ted, only after a second, before fumbling an excuse about too much roughhousing.

Sirius wasn’t entirely certain as to how Andromeda had been able to so casually touch Ted throughout their excursion. He knew for certain, despite the many rows she’d had with her parents, that Andromeda had the same tattoo that he and Regulus did. Every member of the Black family shared the brand: Toujours Pur, in black ink, right above the heart, given to each new branch of the family tree on their eighth birthday, as a sign of eternal fidelity to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.

The tattoo, of course, was enchanted. It burned, when in skin-to-skin contact with anyone of a lesser bloodline. Even with pure-blooded blood traitors, the tattoo sent spasms of pain throughout his body. Touching a Muggle-born—even just to shake his hand—was something akin to the Cruciatus curse.

Sirius should know. After meeting Ted Tonks, he was familiar with both.

The Leaky Cauldron was relatively empty, compared to the last time Sirius had been there. Now, it was early August, and as most families tended to wait until closer to the start of the school year, most of the patrons were well beyond their Hogwarts years. Walburga and Orion ushered him and Kreacher through the Cauldron without much dallying.

Once in Diagon Alley, proper, Walburga pulled her family to a stop. She looked from Orion to Sirius, then finally to Kreacher. “Kreacher, go fetch Sirius’s cauldrons, books, and quills,” she said. “The three of us are going to Madam Malkin’s. Orion, you need new robes as well.”

“Yes, Mistress,” Kreacher said, bowing his head, before slinking off.

Sirius tried to hide his cringe. The last time he’d been fitted for robes was right before his grandmother’s funeral, nearly two years ago. It had been a rather dreadful experience, considering Madam Malkin was a half-blood and he’d tried to jerk away nearly every time she touched him. He ended up with more pins in his arm than one of his poor dead grandmother’s pin cushions.

“Don’t you whine,” Walburga snapped, catching the look on his face. “I owled her both of your measurements last week. Try them on—ensure that the likes of her didn’t muck up something so plainly simple—then we’ll be gone. I have other business to tend to today. I do not have time to dawdle in a half-blood’s shop.”

“Indeed,” huffed Orion.

When Sirius was finally done changing into his own robes—after more than a few minor adjustments to his new robes and decidedly more than a few mutterings of, “Incompetent, half-blood. Really, Orion, when is someone respectable going to open up a tailoring shop in Diagon Alley?”—he strolled to the front of the shop to see his parents standing over a small table filled with memorabilia from each of the four Hogwarts houses. They hadn’t noticed him just yet, so Sirius stopped short of getting their attention, listening instead to their hushed voices.

“We should get him a few Slytherin ties and scarves,” Orion said, testing the material of one of the ties. “That way we won’t need to send it to him once he’s already at school.”

“He hasn’t been properly sorted yet,” Walburga replied, her nose turned up a little.

“He’ll be Slytherin,” Orion said, incredulous. “Of course, he’ll be Slytherin. Every Black that’s gone to Hogwarts has been Slytherin.”

Walburga’s lips formed a thin line.

Orion inched closer to his wife and lowered his voice. “You think he won’t be?” he hissed, the threat evident in his tone.

Walburga grabbed up a scarf. “Of course. Sirius will be Slytherin,” she snapped.

She grabbed a few more Slytherin scarves, then turned to see Sirius standing there, trying his best to not look as though he’d been eavesdropping. She snatched the tie out of Orion’s hand and, with the scarves she’d picked, she shoved them into Sirius’s arms. “Here,” she said forcibly. “Slytherin ties and scarves, so you’re prepared. I grabbed an extra scarf for Regulus. You did say you’d get him something, didn’t you?”

Sirius took a moment to get his bearings. “Yes, I did.” He hadn’t exactly had a scarf in mind when he’d been thinking of what to get Regulus, but he didn’t dare contradict his mother. He’d rather been thinking about getting Regulus something from the joke shop Andromeda had mentioned in her last letter—Gambol and Japes, or something—though he didn’t dare bring this up with his parents. The Blacks had no time for such trivial things.

Sirius figured that, sooner or later, both his parents would be engaged in other things, affording him the perfect opportunity to sneak away to find the joke shop. It’d happened before. Orion and Walburga, though overwhelmingly strict, were not exactly the most attentive parents.

Looks like he wouldn’t have to wait long. Walburga looked him up and down and said, “Good. A scarf will do fine. Orion, pay the half-blood—though I hardly think she deserves it, with all those adjustments she made to Sirius’s robes. Honestly, I might not even have bothered sending measurements ahead, for as long as it took!” She shooed her husband towards the counter and a red-faced Madam Malkin. “I have a meeting at Gringotts and you best make your way to Knockturn Alley.”

Ducking his head and stumbling slightly under the mass of the box that held his new robes and scarves, Sirius tumbled out the door, only to run smack into someone. Naturally, the box went flying, and Sirius himself landed on his arse.

Rolling his eyes, Sirius flicked his wrist and the box of robes and scarves righted itself, shaking off dust as the robes folded neatly back into their box. He carefully tucked the box under his arm, so as not to drop it again.

“Merlin, sorry! You alright, mate? Wait—woah. You can do wandless magic?”

A hand grabbed his arm and yanked him up. Sirius winced. The touch burned—enough to make him want to yank away just to avoid the pain—but it was nothing like touching Ted Tonks or Madam Malkin. Pure-blood, blood traitor, then, if he’d have to guess. Sirius hastily shook off the helping hand and finally got a good look at the other boy. He was tall—nearly a head taller than Sirius, much to his chagrin—with brown skin and black eyes. His hair stood up in every direction and, unlike Auclair, Sirius didn’t think it was the result of a curse. His hair just seemed to naturally… do that. A pair of glasses sat slightly askew on his nose.

“Yeah, uh,” Sirius began. “Wandless magic isn’t so tough once you’ve got the hang of it.”

Sirius flicked his wrist again and the boy’s glasses straightened on his face.

The boy grinned, all toothy and white. “That’s so cool!” he exclaimed. “I’ve only been able to do some accidental stuff so far. Made dinner burn once, when I sneezed too hard, but nothing like what you just did. You’ll have to teach me!”

Sirius smiled. Blood traitor or no, Sirius decided he liked this boy. “You’re on, mate.”

A man came stumbling towards them, the near-spitting image of the boy in front of him, just about fifty-some years his senior. The man wore a relatively nice set of robes—nothing like the finery that graced the Blacks’ wardrobes, mind you—and had the same outlandishly untameable hair as the boy, just streaked with significantly more grey.

“James?” the man said, looking around. “Where’d you get off to, then? Oh, Merlin, there you—”

The man pulled up short, once he caught sight of Sirius.

The boy—James—looked from the man to Sirius, before thrusting out his hand under Sirius’ nose. “James Potter,” he said.


Sirius eyed the hand for a second, wary, before he drew a breath and shook it once, twice, then released, managing to hide the glimmer of pain that shot through his arm. (Mostly. James kind of gave him a weird look.) “Sirius Black,” he said, matter-of-factly.

James’s face fell, as Sirius knew it would. He’d heard of the Potters—from his mother’s furious ramblings about, “All the sodding blood traitors allowed to walk free these days.” Sirius was rather certain that James Potter had heard just as many stories about the Blacks. Gossip was like currency amongst pure-blood families, even blood traitor pure-blood families.

“SIRIUS!” came his mother’s voice.

Oh, ruddy brilliant, Sirius thought. She’ll think he’s consorting with blood traitors, then. He’d be dead for sure if he let on that he actually liked the Potter boy.

Orion came out of the shop behind his wife, then pulled up short when he caught sight of the Potters. “Fleamont,” Orion said, not bothering to keep the disdain out of his voice. “I see that hair potion of yours is as useless as ever.”

Sirius would have blushed if he had any sense of shame left in him, after years and years of his parents being unspeakably rude to anyone they deemed as less than themselves.

James Potter, on the other hand, flushed red in anger. He looked between Orion and Sirius, clearly ready to explode and defend his family’s honour.

As subtly as he could manage, Sirius shook his head, warning James off. He didn’t particularly care to see James fall victim to one of his father’s more subtle and, well, legal curses. Sirius had no doubt that Orion would curse James, despite being in the middle of Diagon Alley, especially if James questioned Orion’s authority.

James gave Sirius a look, opened his mouth all the same, but only stopped when Fleamont Potter rested a hand on his son’s shoulder. “James here will be starting his first year at Hogwarts in September,” Mr. Potter said, not bothering to hide the glint of pride in his eye as he spoke. “Your Sirius is too, if I remember correctly.”

Walburga grabbed Sirius by the back of his neck and manoeuvred him in front of her. She placed her hands on both his shoulders and kept him there with an iron grip. “Yes,” she said. “He is. Sure to be top of his class, too.”

Mr. Potter smiled, and if Sirius didn’t know better, he’d almost say there was pity in his eyes. “I’m sure,” he replied. Then, to Sirius, he said, “That was an impressive bit of magic you did there, son. And without a wand, at that.”

James beamed at him. Sirius managed a small smile and a muttered, “Thanks.” He tried not to notice how his mother’s grip tightened.

“And Regulus?” Mr. Potter asked, politely.

At this, Sirius smirked. Sirius loved bragging about his younger brother. “He’ll start next year. He’s quite good at flying, too. He wants to try out for Quidditch as soon as he can.”

“Sirius,” Orion hissed.

James’s smile widened and he ignored Orion Black. Sirius liked James more, just for that. Not many people have the gal and the daring to so blatantly disregard Sirius’s father. “Really?” said James. “I love Quidditch! Dad got me a Nimbus for my birthday last spring, but I can’t bring it just yet. First years aren’t allowed to try out. Reckon I’ll make a decent Chaser, though, next year.”

Sirius grinned. Regulus was the one who loved Quidditch most amongst them, but after years of listening to his little brother go on about it, Sirius had become quite the fan himself. “What’s your team, then?” Sirius asked.

“Holyhead Harpies,” James said. “Mostly ’cos of my mum. She has a friend on the team. Who’s your favourite?”

Sirius opened his mouth to reply, but Orion cleared his throat, rather obnoxiously. Sirius bowed his head to hide his annoyance, and did not answer James. “We really must be going, Fleamont,” Orion said. “Nice seeing you, then. Come along, Walburga.”

“Yes, goodbye, then,” Mr. Potter said, with a small, polite wave.

Pleasantries fulfilled, Orion stalked off towards Knockturn Alley. With her hand still latched onto Sirius’s shoulder, Walburga followed her husband. Sirius managed a small smile in James’s direction before he was dragged after his mother.

“You are not to associate with that boy, Sirius Black,” Walburga hissed, though they were not quite out of earshot. Glancing back, Sirius could tell that James had heard. His dark features—so obviously almost always graced with a smile—fell into a scowl at Walburga’s words. “Always associating with Muggles and Mudbloods, those Potters. Blood traitors, the lot of them.”

Sirius didn’t say anything. He merely tailed after his parents, box tucked under his arm, and tried to figure out how he was going to get to Gambol and Japes without Orion or Walburga noticing.

His parents parted ways, as Orion ducked into Knockturn Alley. Walburga and Sirius soon found Kreacher, laden with so many boxes already that Sirius didn’t even feel guilty about handing the house-elf one more from Madam Malkin’s. His mother sent the house-elf off again, this time to go wait for Orion at the Leaky Cauldron, before finally dragging Sirius into Gringotts.

A well-dressed, but otherwise grubby goblin greeted with a slight bow, and a reverently muttered, “Mrs. Black. Mr. Black. So good of you to come.”

Walburga smoothed out her green, silk dress and turned to face her son. “Sirius, stay here. I shall return shortly.”

Sirius, of course, highly doubted this was the case. His mother’s visits with the Gringotts’s money keepers hardly ever qualified as short. A plan already taking flight in his mind, Sirius said, “Of course, Mother.”

She pointed a manicured finger at a bench in the corner, by the entrance. “Stay right there, Sirius, and do not leave this place,” she warned. She gave him a hard look, before following the grubby goblin into the vaults.

Sirius strolled over to the bench and sat. He waited all of four minutes—just long enough to ensure that his mother’s meeting was not going to be an unpredictably short one—before he strolled up to the goblin waiting behind the counter.

Reaching into his pocket, Sirius pulled out the bag of money he’d been saving for Regulus’s gift. The goblin at the counter glanced up at him, eyes narrowed. Sirius flashed him a smile. “Ten Galleons, to not tell her I’m gone,” he told the goblin, sliding the coins across the counter.

The goblin eyed the money, but did not take it.

“Ten more,” said Sirius, “if I return and she still doesn’t know I was ever gone.”

The goblin smirked, and took the coins, pocketing it in his tiny suit. “Pleasure doing business, Mr. Black.”

“Ta,” Sirius said, before hurrying back out to Diagon Alley.

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