Chapter 18: Ringing the Hell’s Bells

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“…Augusta Longbottom” he continued after a short pause.

Everyone could clearly see that Sirius was relieved and Salazar was inclined to agree. While Sirius with the right guiding and time could become a great Minister he was much too unstable at the moment. Dumbledore on the other hand seemed to be completely unhappy with the result. Fortunately, or unfortunately that depends on who you ask, he couldn’t do anything against it.

“Are there any objections?” Dumbledore waited a few seconds. “Good. Then Ms. Longbottom please come to the centre and swear the oath.”

She went into the middle and after that it took a few minutes in which Augusta gave her oath and was properly introduced as the Minister of Magic. Salazar mused over the “in all conscience” part of the oath. How could someone send an innocent man in good conscious to Azkaban without the oath backfiring spectacularly? But then again with the right wording and the right circumstances you could bypass every oath and since it had been Dumbledore who initiated this entire thing he didn’t doubt that this was what happened.

When the entire ceremony was over Augusta sat down on the chair meant for the Minister.

Salazar leaned back and faced Bones. “I think we should also give a small report on the Potter case as long as everyone is present thus showing that we work on it as hard as we can.”

Augusta who heard that because she sat right next to them nodded in approval.

“With that done are there any more things to discuss today? Or information to share?” Dumbledore continued with the protocol.

Augusta rose. “I’d like to ask the DMLE to give a report about the progress in the Potter case. This should be of interest for all of us.”

A murmuring rose within the ranks which showed everything from pleasant surprise to approval. It seemed that only a very few anticipated that such a delicate topic would be brought before them even less from the new Minister herself. To those who voted for her it showed that their choice was the right one. Even to those who didn’t vote for her it was a sign of strength. Quite a few hoped that with Ms. Longbottom as Minister a few things would change.

Bones nodded before she rose. “Our department is working at full speed to solve this case. In the course of it we got to know that Harry Potter apparently resides in New York – America at the moment. We are in contact with the American Ministry in order to find out where exactly and hopefully to get a better grasp on John Smith the person who adopted Mr. Potter according to the papers. We’re waiting for what information they are ready to share with us but I think it will be everything we asked for since Ms. Coulson, Head of the American Ministry, didn’t indicate anything contrary to that assumption. We will receive those information this afternoon the latest.”

Salazar had a hard time not to laugh because of the sight Dumbledore gave right at that moment. Sure, the man hid his emotions very well and anyone who didn’t know where to look wouldn’t be able to see it but for Salazar he was like an open book. Henrietta informed him this morning that Dumbledore tried to get information this night but ran against a wall of diplomacy and bureaucracy. He seemed to be pretty angry about how he was treated and to add insult to injury getting to know now that the DMLE just asked politely and got every information they wanted didn’t make it any better.

“On top of that we are investigating how Mr. Smith was actually able to adopt Mr. Potter without rising any suspicions or alarms. But I would ask you not to come to our office and ask for detailed information about this case or to start a search on your own. This would only encumber us in our effort to find Mr. Potter as quickly as possible. Should any important information reach us we surely will inform you through the newspapers. Thank you” she sat down again.

“Very well. Thank you for your report” Augusta said.

Dumbledore nodded sourly. “Are there any other important reports or things that need the attention of everyone?” he took a look around but everyone stayed silent. “Then I hereby close this meeting of the Wizengamot. Have a nice day.”

He slammed down his gavel and instantly a rumouring arose. People started to talk to each other while some others stood up and went over to Augusta in order to congratulate her for winning the election. Bones was the first though.

“Congratulations to this marvellous victory. I never would have expected it being so close” she said while shaking the other woman’s hand.

“I look forward to working with you and as I can see you were able to acquire a competent co-worker for you Department” She replied with a smile towards Salazar.

“Jack Hardinger, ma’am. It’s a pleasure to work for your Ministry but please apologize me for a moment. It seems that my client is in dire need of assistance” he said with a gaze on Sirius who got berated by Dumbledore just at that moment and looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but not there.

“Sure, I don’t want to keep you from your work” Augusta nodded.

Salazar took Augusta’s hand and placed a light kiss on her knuckles like a real gentleman before nodding and leaving them behind. He went over to Sirius and Dumbledore.

“Good day gentlemen. May I help you?” he asked politely.

Dumbledore who was just in the middle of telling Sirius what he could have done better, turned around and gave Salazar one of his sweetest grandfatherly smiles.

“I fear that this is none of your business. There are quite a few things I have to discuss with Mr. Black in private. So would you please leave us alone for a moment?”

“As you seem to have forgotten I am Mr. Black’s solicitor and as such it is my duty to aid him whenever the need arises. So as long as he doesn’t send me away I have every right to be here” now it was upon Salazar to smile sweetly. “As it seems you are making my client feeling uncomfortable and I would ask you to stop that. Otherwise I would find myself in the situation to take action against you.”

“Sirius, you can’t really consider what this man is saying? I only wanted the best for you.”

Sirius grabbed Dumbledore at the arm and turned him around a bit. He threw a last glance over his shoulder before he leaned forwards.

“Did you forget why I’m doing all of this?” he whispered so that only Dumbledore could hear him.

“I hope you know what you’re doing. This entire game is far more complex than I anticipated” Sirius had to supress the urge to look at Dumbledore in disbelieve. Did the man actually admit that he made a mistake? “I tried to get information from the American Ministry but they hide behind their bureaucracy and now I got to know that the DMLE got every needed information within hours…the very same Department he suddenly works for. To be honest I don’t know what to think about it.”

“Dumbledore, I might have despised my family ever since but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an idea about how this political dance works” he growled. “Give me some credit.”

“Just promise me to be careful.”

He gave him a glare that clearly stated that this was out of question but he answered never the less. “Sure…I know what I’m doing but are you? Perhaps you should be less hostile to him. He could be of use to our mission. As far as I know he is well connected within the American Ministry and very good friends with their Head Ms. Coulson.”

Dumbledore thought about it for a few seconds before he nodded and turned back around to Salazar who leaned the entire time against the railing that went along in front of the first row.

“Mr. Hardinger, as it seems we will be seeing each other more often in the future. Therefore please accept my sincere apology” Dumbledore said with a bright smile while holding out his hand. “I hope that we can let the past rest and look into a bright future.”

Salazar eyed him critically because of the sudden turn in his demeanour before he reluctantly shook the old man’s hand.

“It shan’t be said that I’m unreasonable. But I have to ask you to never again scare my son like you did yesterday.”

Dumbledore sighed as sadness flickered over his face. “I neither meant to disturb you yesterday nor to scare your son. As a father you should know that there is no greater fear than to lose a child might it be your own or the one you swore to protect. I appeal to you as a father, please help me bringing Harry back to his family that loves and the friends who miss him.”

Salazar didn’t know what was worse at the moment. That Dumbledore obviously thought him an idiot or the hypocritical and blatant lies he just told. Protecting Harry? Loving family? If Dumbledore’s methods were the new standards in that matter…

He tapped his lips with his fingers while apparently thinking about something before slowly shaking his head. “I know what you mean. Should I ever loose Hadrian I would go through every hell to get him back. But I’m sorry, there is no way I can help you without breaking the professional discretion towards Mr. Smith or running against the Fidelius charm he cast around the truth.”

Dumbledore nodded with a grave expression on his face. He had feared that he would get this reply. “Could you perhaps at least talk to Ms. Coulson? It would help me a great deal when the American Ministry stops blocking my attempts on gaining information.”

“Sure, I can talk to her when I’m back home this evening but I can’t promise you anything. She is a very proud woman and your behaviour yesterday…” he sighed.

“For Harry’s sake I hope that you are successful. I have to go now. Much work to do…”

Salazar smiled while he shook Dumbledore’s hand again. “And good luck with your search.”

“I will find him, rest assured about that.”

With that Dumbledore turned around and went over to Augusta. He formally congratulated her and wished her all the best for her job before he left the hall. Sirius followed that with much interest.

“What was that? Trying to become drinking buddies with Dumbledore?”

It is right that he said to Dumbledore he should be less hostile but he hadn’t in mind that they should get along that well, or at least in the public’s eyes. The truth was a completely other story.

Salazar laughed. “If it aids my purpose. You know there is an old saying: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

“Close enough to stab them without them noticing?”

He let out a laugher. “Stabbing is far too flamboyant. I prefer a good slow poison that is untraceable but deadly and without a cure. That way they get to know that they are doomed to die only short before they are dead and it is hard to pinpoint the culprit since it could have been anyone you met.”

“Here shows the real snake.”

Luckily Dumbledore was already gone or otherwise he would be set on edge by the devious smile on Salazar’s face. They were far from alone though and everyone who saw him shivered. No one wanted to question who got on the bad side of that man or how but said person would regret it that they were sure of. The two walked over to where Bones and Augusta were still standing. Bones was answering several questions about the Potter case and Augusta received more congratulations for her election.

“Ah Mr. Hardinger, Lord Black” Lucius Malfoy who just finished trying to get on Augusta’s good side, greeted them with a bowing of his head. “So you now work for the DMLE? I don’t doubt that your knowledge and expertise will be an enrichment for the Department.”

With the affability Malfoy showed Salazar had to wonder whether the man knew that Jack Hardinger was an acknowledged half-blood. Or perhaps blood purity didn’t matter anymore when one could get the other into jail through laws no one knew about anymore.

“Mr. Malfoy, what a pleasure to meet you again. As it seems you weren’t the only one left astonished about my knowledge. Though I hope you stay clean so that I don’t have to use my knowledge against you” he replied with a smile.

“Oh I have no intention to break the law and only a fool would go against you. How you ripped the case apart and even managed to show Dumbledore his limits was truly inspiring” he said before turning to Sirius. “Lord Black, I have to say that you look much better since the last time we met. Next week on Thursday I’m holding a dinner at my manor outside of London and it would be my pleasure to greet you both as my guests.”

“Lord Malfoy, I’m truly sorry but I have to decline. From Monday on I will be on a vacation for a fortnight and therefore not in the country. Yet I’d gladly attend to a meeting with you once I returned” Sirius replied very well knowing that he couldn’t outright decline because Malfoy was one of the most influential wizards in Britain.

“I also have to decline, Mr. Malfoy. There is a lot of work to do and I also won’t be in the country at that time either.”

“What a shame but there is nothing we can do, is there? Well I have to leave now. I hope we stay in touch. A good day, gentlemen” Malfoy said with a small bow towards them before he left.

By now everyone else left to and only Augusta, Bones and the two men were in the hall. James already left after congratulating Augusta. Salazar casted a quick tempus and saw that it was now well past two p.m.

“It got quite late. What do you think about a nice afternoon tea at my townhouse? I assume that you have several questions and I’d like to be done with that sooner rather than later. Ms. Longbottom perhaps you could also inform your son and his wife so that they can come to. Your grandson is of course invited to” Salazar proposed.

“I would only have to inform my secretary but then I’m free” Bones responded while Sirius only nodded his approval.

“You’re right there are a few questions left open and I’d gladly come over to your house. On the other hand we also could meet at the Longbottom manor. Thus we wouldn’t have to bother Alice and Frank with a floo travel. Considering that they were release just today it might be the better choice” Augusta mused.

“I have no objections if this is okay with you. I would have to inform Ms. Pye though so that she can attend to.”

“Good that is settled then. You can use the floo at our manor to inform her. Ms. Bones you can follow once you arranged everything with your office.”

Bones nodded and they all left the meeting hall. Augusta, Salazar and Sirius took the floo from the Ministers office while Bones went to her own office.

It was three in the afternoon now and they all sat at the Longbottom manor with tea and some snacks. Sylvia came over together with Alice and Frank an hour earlier. Originally she was there to set up some sleeping wards for them but when Augusta, Salazar, Sirius and later Bones came from the Wizengamot meeting she was invited to stay. Shortly before they sat down she informed Salazar about her decision regarding the vacation.

Now they sat in the conservatory drinking tea the house-elves supplied while Hadrian and Neville played at another table in the corner.

“I know that you all have a different amount of knowledge about me and why I do all this” Salazar started after a few minutes of silence. “The best thing I think will be that I tell you everything from the beginning and in its entirety. Afterwards you can ask questions but I have to warn you I might not answer them all.”

They all nodded and Salazar took a deep breath. It was a long time since so many people got to know so much about him. In fact it hadn’t occurred since he founded Hogwarts together with the others. But he knew that he would have to tell them especially if he wanted them to be a part of Hadrian’s life. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust them, far from it because otherwise he wouldn’t even contemplate telling them, but he hadn’t remained hidden for so long by blurting out his secrets left and right so it was understandably hard for him.

After taking a last deep breath he started to tell them everything from the point when and why he started to observe Dumbledore over the prophecy to what happened to Hadrian while he was with the Dursleys and the results of his examinations. He left nothing out because he didn’t want anything to stand between Hadrian and the family Dumbledore denied him for so long.

“So you want to tell me that Dumbledore left Har-Hadrian in that hellhole on purpose and that if it hadn’t hit him it would have most likely been Neville?” Frank asked when Salazar finished about forty minutes later.

To say that the Longbottoms looked sick to their stomach would be an understatement. Frank was slightly green around the nose and Alice looked at her son paler than a sheet. Sylvia observed that with worry for their health.

“Unfortunately…yes. Dumbledore is a master manipulator and I don’t doubt that he would have found a way to manipulate Neville should have the necessity arisen. I have to admit that I’m glad that he gets along with Hadrian so well and hopefully that helps preventing Dumbledore from trying to do anything to him.”

Neville who saw the worry and fear in the eyes of his mother came over.

“Mum, is everything alright?” he asked.

“Sure my darling. It is only something Mr. Slytherin just told us” Alice replied with a smile.

Salazar groaned. “Please just call me Salazar at least while we are in private.”

Alice grinned obviously having recovered from what she just learned. “I have a question though, Sirius. Why in Merlin’s name did you go after Pettigrew instead of taking care of Hadrian? You could have taken him, go to the Ministry and clear up any wrong assumptions before taking your duty as godfather” she spit out the name with so much venom in her voice that Frank looked at her in shock.

The boy in question who also came over and now sat in his father’s lap perked up upon that question. It was something he wondered about to. Sirius on the other hand looked like he had been beaten.

“I know and with what I know now it was a bloody stupid thing to do” he growled. “Truth is that at first I didn’t even think about that rat. I was the first who arrived at the cottage and was just about to leave it with Harry…Hadrian when suddenly Dumbledore appeared. He told me that I should get after that traitor as quickly as possible before he has the opportunity to hide and avoid punishment for what he had done. Despite that he noted that as an Auror it was my duty to capture him. What I didn’t put into account was that everyone thought I was the secret-keeper. I don’t know whether Dumbledore knew what would happen or if he just hoped that I would duel that traitor so that it would look like I wanted to kill him, or actually kill him…Dumbledore promised me to take care of Hadrian until I’d return. I trusted him…”

He ran a hand through his hair looking much older. It was obvious that he blamed himself for believing Dumbledore.

“Sirius, there is nothing you should blame yourself for. As I said Dumbledore is a master in manipulating people. He might have found another way to keep you from your godson even if you hadn’t gone after Pettigrew. I think that he would have found a more…irrevocable solution in the worst case” Salazar put forth.

Sirius paled while looking up when he heard that. “You don’t think…” his voice failing in the end.

“That he would have seen you dead? When it would have benefited him more than you being alive…I fear that Dumbledore is as much a hypocrite as that idiot Voldemort.”

“Well, better over four years in Azkaban than dead I assume” he winced.

“Apropos prison…what do you intend to do about the Dursleys?” Sylvia inquired.

“I’m sorry but I won’t tell you that” Bones rose an eyebrow. “Plausible deniability. But rest assured that I will do something about them.”

“Don’t tell me you…” her eyes went wide and even his son looked at him in apprehension.

Salazar laughed about that. “I may be many things but a cold blooded murder I’m not. No I won’t even harm them physically” he said with a vicious grin that send shivers down her spine.

“Why doesn’t that reassure me even the slightest little bit” Bones muttered. “Okay, okay, I don’t want to know. As you said plausible deniability.”

They talked for another hour about various things and it was half past five when Bones left. She had to care for her niece after all and she also wanted to step by her office again to check whether the American Ministry sent the information over. Not that she needed them but better be prepared for Dumbledore nosing around.

“There is one other thing I would like to discuss with you. I didn’t bring this up earlier out of respect and tact towards Ms. Bones” Salazar said after a while.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to include her with this but more that he wanted to spare her the embarrassment of the proposal and having to decline because of the extra work he had bestowed on her.

“I would like to invite you all to a two weeks long vacation to my mansion in China beginning on Monday. It seems that we are all in dire need of one and I think it also would be a good opportunity for you to fully recover as well as spending some time with your godson” the last part was directed at Sirius and Neville’s parents.

The elder Longbottoms looked at him lost for words before they looked at each other not knowing what to think about it. Neville on the other hand gleamed with excitement.

“Oh mum, dad, can we go? Yes?” he squealed bouncing like a rubber ball. His granny rarely took him on vacation.

Alice and Frank looked at each other again before breaking out in laugher.

“It seems that we are overruled” Alice deadpanned before she smiled. “We also thought about going on a vacation and this seems to be the perfect opportunity to not only spend time with our son but also get to know Hadrian better. So we gladly accept your offer.”

Salazar slightly bowed his head in gratitude.

“I’d have to go shopping tomorrow but despite that there is nothing against a nice holiday and having some fun” Sirius grinned.

“New wardrobe and wand I’d guess?” Alice asked curiously. Sirius didn’t look very happy about it but nodded. “Want to come with us? We need a new wardrobe to.”

Sirius seemed to be relieved so he nodded. He hated buying new clothes because of how boring this entire thing was but having someone to talk to made it more bearable.

Hadrian looked at them. “Are you going to Diagon Alley?”

“Yes, why do you ask?” Sirius cocked his head.

“Dad, can we go with them?” anticipation clearly showing on his face.

Salazar looked at him in surprise. The last two weeks changed him quite a lot. He was much more extrovert now especially since he met Neville. But it seemed that he still didn’t want to be too far from his father as long as it wasn’t absolutely necessary and in case he wasn’t able to be around him he was always with James. The only exception was when he had to stay with Neville throughout the two Wizengamot meetings and Salazar got to know that he was very tense during that time looking onto the clock every five minutes.

“Let me guess you want to go to F&B and get more potions books?” he started to chuckle when his son turned a bright red. “Why not. There is no reason we couldn’t go but I will have to ask James to come as well.”

Hadrian smiled broadly while hugging his father. “Thank you.”

“James?” Frank asked curiously.

“Yes my butler. With Dumbledore running around searching for Hadrian I take no chances. James is an excellent dueller and also the only one next to me who could get my son to a place safe enough should something happen” Salazar explained.

Would it be only him and his son he wouldn’t need James to convoy them because should someone try something he would instantly apparate away with Hadrian. But with the others there as well he couldn’t and wouldn’t leave them behind and on their own especially since they just left hospital. They simply weren’t in the shape to defend themselves properly yet. So with James accompanying them one of them could get Hadrian to safety while the other stayed to defend the others. As he said he would take no chances. Despite that it was a good thing to have an additional pair of eyes looking out for possible dangers.

“Though Sirius I’d advise you to not get your wand from Ollivander’s. It’s not that he is a bad wandmaker but thanks to the laws here he can only use three different cores. He also only has prefab wands. I suggest you go to Gregorovitch in Germany. His are custom made and therefore much more suitable” he continued.

“International floo travel…what a fun” Sirius snorted. He absolutely despised the international floo travel centre. They were full, loud and it took you ages to get where you wanted.

“You can leave from my house. It is connected to the international floo network so you can go straight to his shop from there.”

Interesting fact is that only the sending chimney had to be connected to the international network. The receiving chimney only needed a connection to the local one. As long as that has somehow a connection to the international one you could receive floo transfers or calls even from other countries. You only couldn’t access the international network directly from there.

Salazar had no concrete explanation for why it worked that way but he assumed that it did because the chimneys at the international network stations were connected to both networks and that way could instantly redirected the travel.

Why not everyone had access to the international network is easily explained though. For once you could get lost much too easily with how many chimneys there would be. Second it would most likely collapse the entire thing with how high the magical expenditure would be because the further away the target chimney the more magic it required and drained out of the system. So outside the international floo travel centres only a few selected chimneys were connected to both networks like one in the Ministry. Every other had a block on them for outgoing travel.

“And how am I supposed to get back? Walking?” he retorted. Neville chuckled hearing that.

“Portkey…I have a permanent one at home for such occasions. It will bring you straight back to my townhouse” that was how James had gotten back from his travels to Germany.

“Okay, okay, I’ll go tomorrow right after we’re finished in Diagon Alley” Sirius huffed. He wasn’t very fond of portkeys, especially international ones, but for getting a custom made wand he would put up with it.

“Why not right after breakfast?” Salazar inquired but Sirius just shrugged. He would have to see whether he had the time or not. “Well, it seems that we got quite distracted from the original topic. Sylvia already told me that she would attend.”

Upon seeing the questioning looks Sylvia started to explain. “What Salazar refused to say is that I want to check on your health regularly just in case. Originally I planned to go on holiday alone but when I told him that I would have to cancel it because of it he came up with the idea of inviting everyone and I have to admit that I’m glad he did.”

“I’m sorry, it wasn’t our intention to ruin your holidays” Frank said taken aback.

“Don’t worry. Perhaps it is even better that way. At least it won’t be as boring being with someone you know than going alone.”

Augusta had to decline though. Not only would her duty as Minister prevent her attending but she also was glad to have some time for herself. She would never say it aloud but caring for her grandson had been quite exhausting especially when you had to take care that one of your relatives didn’t kill the boy in an attempt to elicit some magic out of him. Up to now she hadn’t the time or chance but her brother Algie would get to hear an earful for what he put Neville through.

They talked a bit further and tried to get to know more about where the vacation exactly would go to but Salazar didn’t say anything about it. He only stated that they would have to see.

It was nearly nine o’clock when Hadrian first stifled a yawn. He not only was exhausted from playing with Neville the whole day but also got used to going to bed earlier. Waking up at seven in the morning didn’t change though.

So they bid their farewell and went up to the floo arranging the trip to Diagon Alley for ten in the morning. That was when Sirius remembered his little housing dilemma. He sighed, stood up and went up to Salazar with a quick pace to intercept him before he left.

“Does your offer still stand?” he asked in a low voice.

Salazar looked at him in confusion until it dawned him what the man in front of him referred to.

“Of course it still stands. I assume you want to take it?” he replied.

“I don’t want to cause you inconveniences…” Sirius muttered. “You did so much for me already.”

“Why would it be a problem? I have the room and I wouldn’t have suggested it would it cause trouble” Salazar smiled. “Just follow me through the floo. It’s Phoenix Street No. 6 and the password to the floo is `Black Mamba´.”

Sirius nodded. “’kay and…thank you…for everything.”

“You’re welcome.”

With that Salazar stepped into the floo with his sons hand firmly gripped. A few seconds later Sirius followed through.

“Hadrian, why don’t you go and make yourself ready for bed?”

“’kay” he mumbled before walking up to the door.

“Hadrian” his father scolded. “Full words and clear speech. I don’t want you to mumble.”

The boy froze in his track in an instant when he heard that. He very slowly turned around and looked like a deer caught in the headlight. Salazar made a step towards in an attempt to calm him down but Hadrian drew back until he bumped into the wall next to the door. Fear and panic clearly written in his face. Sirius looked like he wanted to run over to his godson and assure him that everything was alright but Salazar gave him a look that told the man that this would be a spectacularly bad idea. When he knew that Sirius wouldn’t try anything he knelt down where he stood and looked at his son.

“Hadrian, come here please,” he said with a soft and soothing voice to calm him down.

Slowly Hadrian walked up to his father fearing that he would get hit any second. He finally stood in front of Salazar and looked at him in anticipation. Salazar slowly rose a hand and carefully put a strand of his son’s hair behind his ear. Hadrian flinched and closed his eyes but he didn’t move one inch away from his father. Salazar knew that what he just did was very risky and could make everything infinitely worse but he needed his son to know that he would never hurt him. Luckily his gesture had the desired effect. Hadrian opened his eyes and looked at him in confusion and relieve seeing that his father smiled at him.

“I know that you fear I would hurt you. Unfortunately this fear won’t disappear overnight I’m aware of that but that won’t stop me to scold you when you do something wrong” Hadrian nodded looking at the floor. “Do you remember what I said to you the night I got you?”

His son thought about it shortly before he answered. “You said that when you hurt me you lose your magic.”

“That is right” Salazar replied not noticing the dumbstruck expression on Sirius face. “Keep that always in mind, okay?”

A smile crept on Hadrian’s face and he nodded before hugging his father.

“Good boy, and now go ready yourself.”

Hadrian was so over the moon because of the praise that he knocked over his father when he bumped into him for another hug. After that he jumped up and ran out of the room and up the stairs.

Salazar shook his head while he got up and straightened his robe.

“You swore an oath on your magic to never hurt him?” Sirius asked in awe.

“Not only my magic” Salazar answered dryly.

Sirius eyes went comically wide upon that.

“Don’t you fear that this might backfire one day?”

“I swore to never hurt him physically on purpose. You should know that magic can differentiate between intended and unintended harm.”

“But what would be if you hurt him in a trainings duel for example?”

“As long as my intention wasn’t to deliberately hurting him I would be okay. It is as I said magic can distinguish that. Now come on, I show you your room.”

Salazar went out of the room and up the stairs. He gave Sirius the room on the left side of the stairs.

“Hadrian’s room is over there on the right opposite of it is mine. The kitchen is in the back left on the ground floor. Should you need anything call for Trixy or Blinky, they will help you” he explained.

“Thank you. I think I will go to bed to. The meeting and everything else exhausted me. See you tomorrow. ‘Night”

“Good night” Salazar replied before going over to his son’s bedroom to get him to bed.

Sirius went into his room and got changed before lying on the bed. It seemed that Salazar had ordered the elves to get him some nightwear.

Despite being exhausted sleep didn’t claim him. So he laid there looking at the ceiling and thinking about everything that happened lately. While he had been in Azkaban he often thought about how it would be seeing and living with his godson. He imagined him to be like his father James but now he had to admit that they couldn’t be more different. Sure, he only saw him two times now but he clearly could see the difference. Harry, or Hadrian was it now…he should really get used to it, was so mature for his age. What worried Sirius though was the reaction Hadrian showed when he got scolded by Salazar. But considering what the boy went through before he got here…Sirius sighed running a hand over his face. This was far from how he expected it to be when he finally met him.

He could only pray that he didn’t do anything stupid and ruin his only chance. Azkaban truly had changed him so much was clear, let him become more mature. Hopefully it was enough to be a good godfather to Hadrian. He didn’t want to lose him again because he was sure that he wouldn’t get a third chance. With that thought he finally fell asleep.

Salazar in the meantime sat in his study and floo-called Henrietta. He asked her to throw Dumbledore at least a bone or two so that he would be satisfied, perhaps even point him to the flat he owned in NY without him getting to know who really owns it. While it would be amusing to see what he would do should he not get the information he wants he didn’t want the man to make a song and dance about it. The man was annoying enough as he was, thank you very much.

It was the next morning when Salazar entered the kitchen. Hadrian sat at the table but he only shoved the food from one side to the other.

“Good morning. Is something wrong, Hadrian?” Salazar asked while pouring himself a cup of coffee but his son didn’t react. He just sat there lost in thoughts.

“Hadrian?” Salazar tried again and this time even touched him at the shoulder.

That finally ripped him from his thoughts.

“Oh, good morning dad” he said with a low voice.

“What is wrong? I thought that the nightmares stopped.”

Since the day where they visited Sirius in hospital and Hadrian talked about what happened his nightmares fortunately hadn’t come back. It seemed that talking about it really helped.

“You’re right. I hadn’t any nightmare. But I dreamt of my uncle anyway. It is how he looked at me in the dream…I don’t know it frightens me…” he replied while shoving his plate away.

“How did he look at you?”

“I don’t know how to describe it but it’s scary. It is so different than normally when he was angry.”

Salazar hummed lowly. “Might you want to show me?” Hadrian looked at him confused so Salazar knelt before him and explained. “When you look straight into my eyes and think about what frightens you I will be able to see it to. It won’t hurt I promise.”

Hadrian reluctantly nodded before he did as his father asked him to do. Salazar used a light Legilimens and instantly saw what his son meant. But that was not all. Other than his son he saw and recognised quite a few more details. Little movements, the stance and above all the gaze the obese man threw the boy.

Salazar knew for a fact that this was no dream but a memory that seemingly came to the surface this night. He knew it because other than memories dreams were like a foggy scene, blurry and not quite there. Memories on the other hand were clear as day even if the person didn’t remember them. It also seemed to be quite a recent one from how old Hadrian looked in the memory, perhaps a few days before he got him.

That knowledge was what put the final nail into the coffins of the Dursleys. The entire scene screamed one thing: Child rape. Luckily it looked like his son wasn’t old enough yet for that man to try anything but he didn’t doubt for one second that it would have taken long should Hadrian have stayed there.

Salazar had a hard time to reign in his anger in order to not scare his son even more. He thought that he had seen the worst of those individuals but that beats everything. This night he would make them pay for everything they did to his son.

“Dad? Is everything alright?” Hadrian was worried because his father hadn’t reacted for a few minutes now.

Just at that time Sirius entered the kitchen. He looked a bit confused at the sight.

“Is everything alright?” he asked which startled Salazar.

“What? Oh yes I was only lost in thoughts. I’m sorry should I have worried you,” he said to his son giving him a kiss on the forehead. “To your dream…don’t worry about it. Even if it means more always remember that he can’t get you. You are safe here, okay? I won’t let anyone harm you.”

Hadrian’s face lit up and he smiled before hugging his father.

“Good boy. Why don’t you go and get ready for our trip to Diagon Alley?”

The boy nodded and bolted through the door and ran to his room. Salazar on the other hand quickly erected a silencing charm and a few wards that would prevent his magic to be felt outside this room before he let his anger take over. With a flick of his hand the plate his son had pushed aside flew through the room and shattered at the wall. The two house-elves who were buzzing around looked at him in shock before vanishing with a small pop. They knew better than to stay around when their master was in such a mood. It very rarely happened that he lost his composure in such a manner but when it happened they quickly got out of his way.

“Salazar, what’s wrong?” Sirius who got himself a coffee and now sat at the table asked warily.

“What is wrong? I tell you what is wrong or better I show you” Salazar looked straight into Sirius eyes and sent him the image he received from his son just minutes ago.

Sirius winced slightly because he wasn’t very sensitive with it but when he saw the scene his eyes darkened. He wasn’t stupid and he knew in an instant what enraged Salazar. The lust that was written all over the fat man’s face and his entire behaviour…one would have to blind to not see it.

“They will die…slowly…painfully,” Sirius growled.

A cold laugh escaped Salazar. “Oh Sirius, for what I have in mind for them is far worse than death. When I’m through with them they will beg me to kill them but I won’t. Death is the one thing they will never receive.”

“Let me take part in it. I want to be there when they pay,” Sirius said with a cold hard gaze.

Salazar looked at him surprised thinking about what to do. “Are you sure? Once you walk down that path there is no turning back. It will change you forever. You won’t be light anymore.”

Sirius snorted in amusement. “I was never light. Gray at best and I don’t care. They hurt my godson and they will feel my wrath. With or without you.”

“Good. I’d say you go to bed early then. I’ll get you once I got them out of their home and a place we would be undisturbed” Salazar replied with a wicked smile.

A nod was all he got as an answer because right at that moment Hadrian re-entered the kitchen obviously ready to go. Salazar cast a quick tempus only to see that they would have to be over with the Longbottoms in ten minutes. He and Sirius hurried to be ready and just in time they together with James left the house.

They spent the entire morning together in Diagon Alley. Their first stop was Twilfitt and Tatting’s a clothing shop that sells high quality clothes. Madame Malkin’s wasn’t a bad shop but she doesn’t offer the high end drapery like T&T did. Sirius and the Longbottoms got complete new wardrobes while Hadrian got a dragon hide coat and some dragon hide boots. James only got him some normal mundane shoes but for their trip to China those would be better. Even Neville who also accompanied them got some new clothes for their holiday.

Since they had to wait for two hours for the clothes to be crafted they decided to eat an ice. After they finished it Hadrian, Neville and James went to F&B to get some books while Sirius and the Longbottoms went to Gringotts. Salazar didn’t need to go with them because he knew that they would be save there. The goblins would defend them should it be needed. He told the goblins that they were in the know and asked for a preferential treatment for them. They wouldn’t get the same treatment as he himself but things would at last get done quicker for them and a few things wouldn’t cost anymore.

Knowing that no one would be in danger Salazar went hurriedly over to the Apothecary. He needed a few more potion ingredients because some went low after he brewed the potions for Sylvia.

A few minutes later Sirius, Salazar and the Longbottoms met again in front of Gringotts. They just waited for James and the children when they saw a familiar face approaching them. Dumbledore. It seemed that they wouldn’t get rid of that fool no matter what. Luckily Salazar decided to go out under the glamour as Jack Hardinger. At first it confused the Longbottoms but after a quick explanation they approved of it and now it seems that it was a good decision.

“Good day Sirius, Mr. Hardinger, you have my gratitude for talking to Ms. Coulson. I finally got some information regarding the whereabouts of Mr. Potter,” he said with his usual twinkle in the eyes and the grandfatherly smile before continuing without letting them say anything. “Oh Alice and Frank Longbottom, nice to see you out and about. I heard that you woke up. How are you and how is your son?”

“Dumbledore. What a surprise meeting you here. Yes we were released just yesterday and we’re on a shopping trip at the moment. Our son should be around here somewhere,” Alice replied with a friendly smile.

“Sure, sure, perhaps we can meet for a cup of tea next week? There are quite a few things I’d like to talk about with you.”

“I’m sorry but we’re out of country then,” Frank simply stated.

Right at that moment Hadrian, Neville and James exited the bookshop and came over. James upon seeing Dumbledore cast a quick glamour on Hadrian not putting his wand back after that holding it in a way that it wasn’t seen but so that he could act quickly if needed.

Hadrian looked at Dumbledore warily while walking up to his father and grabbing his hand tightly. Neville also looked not very happy. Hadrian told him what the man did to him resulting in a deep dislike of Dumbledore.

“Dad, what is Dumby doing here? I don’t like him…he is scary” he asked innocently.

Dumbledore made a chocking sound when he heard how the boy called him.

“My boy, it isn’t very nice to mangle someone’s name without his approval” Dumbledore scolded him.

Hadrian gave him a look that said he didn’t care before he squinted and suddenly Dumbledore’s hair and beard were a bright neon pink. Sirius snorted when he saw it and even Salazar smiled while Hadrian and Neville giggled.

“And here I thought that the flying lesson he gave you was indication enough to not scare him again. I also asked you to not do it again but it seems I fall on deaf ears with it,” Salazar growled.

Dumbledore who needed to dissolve the tension and that quickly crouched down and gave him the best smile he could muster.

“Hadrian, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you. Can you forgive me, my boy?” he said.

Hadrian didn’t know what to do. On the one hand he didn’t want to antagonize the man any further but on the other he knew very well that Dumbledore was the reason for him being left with the Dursleys. Despite that, he hated how he talked to him. He was not his boy.

Salazar who felt the struggle in his son smiled at him in a reassuring way. Whatever Hadrian would do he would support him.

That was when an idea occurred to him. He poked Dumbledore on the chest just hard enough to destabilize him. Considering that the man was balancing on his toes, it wasn’t that hard. With a thud, the old man fell flat on his butt. Quite a few people who walked by and saw that looked at him in shock and disbelieve while others smirked. It wasn’t every day that a man like Dumbledore was brought down by a small boy.

“What did you do that for?” Dumbledore asked affected while getting up and straightening his robe.

“For calling me `my boy´, I don’t like that Dumby” Hadrian pouted.

Knowing that when he continued the way he did the embarrassment would be even greater he retreated for now.

“Very well. I take a leave. Alice, Frank, Sirius, Mr. Hardinger…Hadrian” the twinkling dimmed when he nodded towards Hadrian. “Have a nice day.”

Without any further comment Dumbledore stalked towards the Leaky Cauldron still having his hair pink.

“Hadrian, that was simply hilarious” Sirius beamed proud of what his godson did. No matter how mature he had become his Marauder streak would never vanish completely.

“I have to admit that this was the most interesting way to deal with this situation. Well done, son. Perhaps now he respects your wishes.”

Hadrian’s face was split into two with how he smiled. He never got compliments when he was with the Dursleys but with his dad it was different. Now he was always complimented when he did something good even when it were only small things. He loved it and he swore to himself to never disappoint his father.

About a minute later, the entire group set into motion. They picked up their clothes and after lunch at the Leaky Cauldron they all went back home. The Longbottoms said they would stay in contact regarding the holiday. Sirius travelled onwards to Germany to get his wand and so Salazar and Hadrian were alone.

“What do you think? Do you want to try brewing a potion?”

Hadrian who anticipated this for a while now nodded eagerly.

Salazar smiled upon the eagerness of his son. “Okay then get your book and come to my study.”

Not two minutes later Hadrian was back and they both went into the potions lab that was right next to the study.

In the middle of the room were two tables that faced each other. One was lower than the other so that Hadrian could stand at it comfortably. On each table was a circle of rune-stones with a Bunsen burner in the middle as well as a book stand at the side. Along the walls were several other tables with devices you would find more likely in a chemistry lab. There was also a large shelf with books in it. Next to it were cupboards with jars, bottles, and several other containers in it. Each container has a label on it which stated what was in it. They were sorted in alphabetical order. In one corner stood two chairs at a small table.

“So first things first” Salazar started while going over to the sink to fetch his son’s cauldron.

He placed it over the burner on the lower table.

“Do you see those stones?” Hadrian nodded. “Potions can become quite dangerous when you do something wrong. Those stones will prevent that you get hurt. So don’t worry if something goes wrong.”

It was something Salazar came up with when one of his potions went wrong and blew up. The rune stones prevent anything from getting out of them. Even the fumes couldn’t get out which was a nice side effect because otherwise your hair would become quite greasy and you would have to bath after finishing the potion. They were also firmly attached to the table so that they couldn’t be moved accidentally and the circle be broken.

Salazar went over to one of the cupboards. “This cupboard is yours. All your ingredients and equipment is in here. I’d like to ask you to not touch the other ingredient cupboards because there are dangerous and poisonous things in there.”

Hadrian again nodded.

“There is one rule though you are not to break under any given circumstance. Never ever use magic with potion ingredients around you except you know for sure that it doesn’t react to them. Only a very few spells don’t react violently when coming into touch with ingredients or potions, do you understand that?”

His son looked a bit scared but that was a point Salazar had to make clear.

“No magic next to ingredients” he replied.

“Good. Then I would say you try to brew the cure for boils. It is the first potion in the book and the easiest to brew. Do you want me to help you or want to try alone?”

After thinking about it for a few second he replied. “I would like to try doing it alone.”

“Okay. I will be at my own table. Should you have any question don’t hesitate to ask. There is nothing wrong in asking for help” Salazar smiled at him while ruffling his hair which earned him an indignant look.

Hadrian rumoured in his bag and pulled out his potions book and placed it on the book stand opened on the appropriate page. He looked up which ingredients he would need as well as which paraphernalia. Picking up everything he needed he put it on the table.

Salazar observed that with interest before getting a cauldron himself and preparing for brewing himself. He would brew one of the easier potions Sylvia requested so that he could watch his son comfortably without running the risk of ruining his own potion.

Just when he wanted to start preparing one of the ingredients he saw that his son looked a bit lost. Hadrian looked back and forth between his cauldron and the sink obviously contemplating how to fill it with water.

“Dad? Could you please help me filling my cauldron with water?” he finally asked.

“Oh yes, sure. I totally forgot about it” Salazar replied.

With a quick Aguamenti Charm he filled his son’s cauldron with water. Hadrian looked at it in confusion and awe.

Salazar smiled before he started to explain. “This was the Aguamenti Charm. It conjures up water and is one of those spells you can use here.”

“Nice, thank you” he filed this knowledge for later use.

Salazar went back to his own work while Hadrian checked the book for what he had to do. He mused about how to continue. Should he prepare the ingredients beforehand or better when they are due to be added? Still thinking about what to do he observed his father who now chopped up his second ingredient. Deciding that if his father prepared everything beforehand he should do it to. So he went to work and prepare everything according to the book storing it in small bowls for the later use. His father who saw that smiled.

When he finished the preparations he turned on the burner. It took quite a few minutes until the water reached the right temperature. Hadrian scowled. He should have turned on the burner right at the beginning then he wouldn’t have to wait.

Once the water was at the right temperature he started to add the ingredients. He was just at the stage to heat up the potion for ten seconds when he reached a problem.

“Uhm dad, it says here that I should wave my wand. I have none…”he asked a bit confused.

“Ah this is to imbue the potion with your magic. You have to do it to activate the magical properties of the ingredients” Salazar explained.

He just wanted to pick up his wand to help his son with that stage of the potion when he saw his son raising his hand pointing it at the potion. Wanting to see what this was about he waited when suddenly the potion changed colour as described in the book. Hadrian nodded pleased with the result. Now the potion would have to simmer for about 35 minutes.

“That was very well done” he smiled while stirring his own potion.

Hadrian who had to wait before he could continue sat down at the table and started to read one of the books he got that day. About twenty minutes later the door to the lab opened and Sirius came in obviously successful in getting his wand.

“Hey. James told me I would find you here. What are you doing?” he said while looking into Hadrian’s cauldron.

“Dad lets me brew my first potion. I have to wait at the moment” Hadrian looked up from his book.

“Cure for Boils as I see. I’m absolutely crap at potions” Sirius chuckled. “I blew up my cauldron more often than not. Only became Auror because of my duelling skills.”

“Perhaps then you should stay away from the cauldron and sit down before something happens” Salazar deadpanned.

Sirius huffed but did as he was told. “Your father, James, also couldn’t brew worth a damn. Lily, your mother always teased him that he would even manage to burn water” he told Hadrian. “She was pretty good at it though but considering whose descendant she was…”

He still had problems wrapping his head around the fact that Lily Potter was the direct descendant of the man in front of him. So much happened the last few days, his entire world had been brought upside down. Friends he trusted were suddenly the bad guys and people he thought he wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole helped him…saved him. It was still a mystery to him how Dumbledore could have deceived him like he did. He sighed, there was no point in musing about the past.

Sirius told his godson a bit more about his birthparents until the potion was due for the next brewing stage. While Sirius opened the newspaper he brought with him Hadrian went over to his potion. He continued the brewing and about five minutes later he finished.

The potion emitted a pink smoke and even the colour was correct but it looked like Hadrian wasn’t quite satisfied with the result.

“For your first potion this is an extremely good result” his father praised him after looking at it. “Not many get it that good in their first attempt.”

“I don’t know…I have the feeling it could be better” Hadrian mused while placing a sample in a small vial. It wasn’t that he wanted to use it but a sample for reference.

“Hadrian, potions always could be better, stronger or be brewed faster. There is no `perfect´ result with brewing. You have to decide on what you want to focus otherwise you will be disappointed” his father lectured him.

“That wasn’t what I meant” he shook his head. “It is more that I have the feeling that the recipe in itself is…” he threw up his hands in frustration. How does one explain that he could feel the reaction of the potion to the certain ingredients and that it was mediocre at best? “Can I try again?” he finally asked.

“Sure, I need another hour at least so that should be no problem” with a flick of his wand he banished the rest of his son’s potion and cleaned the cauldron before filling it with new water.

“Thanks” Hadrian said while walking over to the cupboard and fetching new ingredients. He also took out a few additional ones that weren’t in the original recipe.

“You’re welcome.”

He put on the burner before starting to prepare the ingredients. His father observed his son curious what he was doing. Next to the ingredients he used the first time Hadrian also took out dried nettles, ginger root and…chamomile? The first two Salazar knew could be used for that potion but what would his son want with the chamomile? He decided to let him do what he wants. It wasn’t that he was in any danger so he let him experiment.

About forty minutes later he finished his second attempt on the Boil Cure. This time he was more satisfied with the result.

“I have to admit that this one is better than your first one. Why did you add chamomile?” he asked in curiosity.

“The herb book said it is good against inflammation and considering what the potion is for…”he shrugged. “I also felt that it would be a good addition.”

Salazar was absolutely baffled. Not that his son was really good at brewing potions putting into account that he wasn’t even six years old, he also was able to put the knowledge he gained from the books he read to use and improve the potion. He had the potential to become one of the greatest Potions Masters in all times. Even better than he himself.

“I only have to find a better method for extracting the oil” he muttered again taking a sample of the potion and labelling it.

Upon hearing that Salazar went over to the bookshelf and picked up a chemistry book that mainly dealt with distillation and how to extract substances from different plants. It wasn’t that easy to read but Hadrian could always ask him for an explanation.

“Perhaps you should read that then. Should you have problems understanding it don’t hesitate asking me.”

Hadrian gleamed at his father. “Thank you.”

“No problem. Come on now clean your tools and put them where they belong” he said while starting to clean up the cauldron before putting it on the drying rack.

His son did as he was asked before taking out a notebook and pen to write down about the potions he brewed. He wanted to keep track upon how he prepared the ingredients and what he changed. It might prove useful later on.

In the meantime Salazar finished his own potion and now left it to cool down. Later that evening he would bottle it up and send over to St. Mungo’s.

It was late in the night, two in the morning to be precisely. Everyone else was long since sleeping but Salazar was wide awake. He stood in his bedroom wearing a simple plain black robe and black gloves. Concentrating for a bit a white bone mask like the one the Death Eaters wore fell into his right hand. A ferocious grin appeared on his face. Oh yes with one thing those idiots were right. Being recognised while doing something highly criminal is a bad idea. He put on the mask and the black hood of the robe before he vanished. It was time to give the Dursleys the treatment they deserved.

He reappeared inside of Privet Drive No. 4 right behind the front door. Cloaking his magic beforehand ensured that the wards didn’t trigger, not yet anyway. After giving the cupboard under the stairs a glare he turned right and went up the stairs silently. Reaching the first floor he found himself in a small corridor with four doors. One would lead into a bathroom while one should be the main bedroom and another the bedroom of their child.

Salazar silently crept up to the first door and leaned against it to listen. He heard a snoring from the other side. So he carefully and silently opened the door to find out that this indeed was the master bedroom. With soft steps he walked up to the foot of the bed. Grabbing both adults at an ankle black flames engulfed the three and they vanished into thin air before the Dursleys could even wake up properly.

It took only a few seconds before Salazar reappeared in the corridor. The next door he tried lead into an empty bedroom and the third into the bathroom. So with a determined pace he approached the last door, opened it and walked in. With a swift move he hold upon the obese child and again he vanished together with him in black flames.

Would have anyone been awake at that unholy time in the night he could have seen a black hooded figure appearing in front of Priv. Drive No. 4 but luckily everyone was sleeping. Salazar’s green eyes seemed to glow in the dark of the street. Now that the Dursleys were successfully brought to where they deserved to be the first fun part of this could begin, better to be described as giving Dumbledore a massive headache.

Salazar took down the cloaking of his magic while taking out his wand. It was a spare wand he got so many years ago that no one would be able to tell who the owner was. With a few flicks he tore the wards on the house apart before blasting the front door into smithereens.

That alone should set of every possible alarm. Not only Dumbledore’s but also the ones in the Ministry since this was a mundane neighbourhood. Knowing that he wouldn’t have much time before either the Aurors or Dumbledore would show up Salazar quickly went into the house. He placed a few curses over the place to make it look like there had been a fight and chasing through the house. When he was finished he placed the mask he wore on the floor before breaking it deliberately. After that he also broke his wand and dropped it. There was no point in keeping it.

Outside the house several cracks were heard and with a quick glance out of the window he saw that the Aurors arrived. All in all eight persons showed up from which four went through the front entrance while the other four surrounded the house. Every one of them had the wand drawn. They just entered the house when Salazar disappeared in black flames for the last time from this place.

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