July 15, 1992, 3:00 PM, Training Area, Grimmauld Place, London
“Good!” Remus clapped his hands as he praised his charge. “Very good, Harry.”
Sirius smiled a little as his Godson gave the older man a nod and a small smile before sending a quick look behind him, to where Adam was seated.
He had stopped reading from his journal to give the boy a thumbs up. “Nice.”
“Well done, Harry.” Sirius also added in, getting a wide smile from the green eyed boy. “You’ve gotten a good grasp of this spell.”
So much like his parents… Sirius thought with both sadness and joy. The best of both of them.
Before he could take another trip down memory lane, Harry spoke, bringing him back to reality. “What’s next?”
Sirius laughed at that. “Now, now. You may have gotten a basic understanding of it, but that doesn’t mean you’re done with it— not by a long shot.”
Harry’s smile was swept away in a look of mild confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Allow me, Sirius.” Remus said with a nod, taking over from there. “Just because you’ve gotten the hang of a spell doesn’t mean that you’ve achieved mastery over it.”
“I’ll explain, don’t worry.” Remus continued, raising his hand to forestall the eager young man’s questions, but Harry was adamant to speak, and so the man gestured for him to do so.
“I remember— I think Hermione said something like that a few months ago.” Harry said, looking thoughtful as he spoke. “She tore up a few bits of parchment in a few different ways and told me to fix them.”
Harry nodded and continued. “The spell’s power, the way the rips were made, um… and how I had to… adjust.”
“I think I understand now.” Remus said. “Application in different situations, is it?”
“Yes, that’s right; even though I’ve learned the spell, I still have a lot of work to do before I can say I’m at least good at it, right?”
Remus nodded with a smile.
“Yes. Well put, Harry. I should like to meet this friend of yours, sometime.” Remus said.
Besides Sirius, Adam snorted, prompting the man to send the boy an inquisitive look.
Adam’s amused eyes met his own. “Who does he think taught her that…?”
“Heh.” Sirius’ shoulders moved with his somewhat silent laughter, even as Remus praised Harry’s friend. “That was good advice though, kid.”
“One of my better moments, to be sure.” Was all Adam said before he turned his eyes back to his journal.
He really is a strange one… Sirius thought, moving a little to the right to peek at what Adam was doing.
His eyes widened as he saw a veritable sea of notes surrounding a depiction of what was undoubtedly a chain, but not one he’d ever seen the boy use before. Its links were rings instead of the usual rounded rectangles he’d come to expect.
Sirius spied words like ‘free form’, ‘efficiency’, ‘faster shifting’, ‘structural integrity’ and ‘liquid counter’ before the boy turned the page to look at a drawing depicting a veritable storm of said chains.
Liquid counter, is it? He thought with some amusement. He wishes to learn how to counter my spell.
Still… Sirius thought as he took a breath. Had the boy drawn all of these chains, himself?
No wonder he can visualize them so well. Sirius thought to himself. The hours upon hours of reflection it must have taken to burn these images into his mind and then the time needed to actually cast the spell with any measure of success— let alone use it in a fight…
Not for the first time, Sirius felt humbled at the boy’s dedication and the sheer strength of will it took to do something like this.
Sirius had been raised in the House of Black, and for all their unwarranted pride reaching far past the point of hubris, he knew that they at least taught their children the ways of magic. In fact, that was something they taught above all else.
Though he did not agree with his family’s other teachings, Sirius did slowly grow to agree that magic itself was something to be respected and revered— in everyone, and not just the Purebloods.
The proof was right in front of him: a child with no magical parentage, raised among the Muggles, with no family to call his own, who, through dedication and determination, managed to reach a level that many wizards three times his age would barely be scratching the surface of.
Sirius turned his gaze towards Remus, who was looking right at him.
Did he just ask me a question? Sirius thought, feeling a little confused. “Did you say something?”
Remus only shook his head in mild exasperation. “I’ve agreed to teach Harry a new spell— and it just so happens that we’ve recently found something which we can use this spell on in the Drawing Room. You know of what I speak.”
Ah… Sirius said, thinking about it for a moment. “Oh, you mean that.”
“What’re you two talking about?” Harry said, sending the two a singularly unimpressed look at their deliberate omission.
“We could tell you.” Sirius said, grinning at Harry’s following look of frustration. “You’re too easy to rile up sometimes, kid. Fine; it’s a Boggart.”
“A Boggart?” Harry said, frowning. “What’s that? I think I’ve seen the word a few times— can’t recall from which book, though.”
Sirius opened his mouth to speak, but Adam beat him to it. “Probably from my notes. It’s a creature whose true form is unknown. It hides in chests, cabinets, anywhere dark really. When confronted with a person, it transforms itself into his or her greatest fear.”
A moment passed.
“Very well put.” Remus said with a nod of approval. “I see you’ve already begun preparing for your third year, Adam.”
“A little.” He said, though he looked to have a question on his mind. “Why… Erm…”
“It’s nothing.” Adam said, shaking his head. “Just a stupid question.”
“There are no such things as stupid questions, Adam.”
“Oh no; there most certainly are.” Adam disagreed with a shake of the head, but looked like he was about to ask anyway. “How did Boggarts ever come to be?”
Silence met his question, and so the boy pressed on. “Obviously they didn’t just randomly pop into existence, right? They’re creatures that seem to cause people fear— actually, do they also do the same thing to Goblins? House Elves? Merpeople? Centaurs? And why?”
Remus smiled at that.
“These are actually very good questions, Adam.” He said as he took a few steps forward. “We don’t yet have any definitive answers, but I’ve done some research into the matter. I have a certain, shall we say… affinity for Defense Against the Dark Arts when it concerns dealing with the many magical creatures this world has to offer.”
“I have asked myself such a question, as well.” Remus continued, raising his arms a little. “Now, I cannot say whether or not this can be taken as fact, as these are only my personal thoughts on the matter, derived from years upon years of travel and experience… in the field, as it were.”
Sirius frowned, wondering just what kind of life Remus had led in the time of his incarceration. True, Remus didn’t have the oh so pleasant Dementors to keep him company, but the man seemed to have gone through a hell of his own, just the same.
All of your friends dead or traitors and being unable to move on from such grief… Sirius thought with a grimace at the thought of even possibly being a traitor. All the while dealing with living in squalor and being forced to hide that you’re a werewolf— can’t have been easy.
Still, the man had persevered against all odds. Sirius was proud of him for that.
“They seem to appear in places rich in magic, of course. They’re amortal non-beings— that means that they were never alive in the first place.” Remus explained. “Much like Peeves, you see. No one knows for certain what spawns Boggarts, but one of the most popular hypotheses is that they spawn from the excess of fear in these magical locations.”
Sirius nodded; it made sense.
“Born from fear.” Adam repeated the word, blinking in confusion as he tried to grapple with the information. “Do they have feelings, sentience? They can figure out your worst fear, right? To feed on it, maybe?”
Remus shook his head. “The answers to all of these questions are still unknown to us, Adam. I would assume that they feed on people’s fear— there have never been any recorded instances of Boggarts ingesting any kind of food, or needing to go to the loo.”
Harry chuckled at that, and Sirius felt himself smirk.
“Heh. True…” Adam said with a half-amused, half-exasperated look. “I suppose few would even bother trying to learn that sort of thing; all people really care about is how to deal with the problem, right?”
At that, Remus chuckled and gestured for Adam to get up. “Can you blame them?”
“I suppose not.” Adam said before closing his journal and joining Harry’s side.
“Now, while a Boggart might seem particularly fearsome from our discussion.” Remus said, making sure to keep his voice light. “There is, in fact, a way to drive one away.”
“What is it?” Harry said, eager to know more.
“There is a Charm for such occasions.” Remus said, though he pinned the two boys with a penetrating gaze. “I would not call it difficult, per se; it is a simple spell, all things considered, but it requires a certain force of mind.”
He paused for a moment. “A Boggart’s downfall is laughter, you see. The Charm you are about to learn will force it to assume a shape which you find amusing. Are you ready?”
Both Harry and Adam nodded at that, and so Remus continued. “Then, repeat after me: Riddikulus.”
“Riddikulus.” Harry and Adam said.
“A little louder: Riddikulus!” Remus raised his voice.
“Riddikulus!” The two boys said again.
“No, no, no. Again: Riddikulus!”
Sirius had to stifle a gleeful grin when Remus made them do it five times more, even though they got it right the second time.
Ah, good old Mooney. The old boy hasn’t lost a bit of his humor!
“Very good, very good.” Remus said with a perfectly straight face. “That’s the easy part. The hard part will be facing whatever you fear the most and then casting the spell. But I have faith in you two.”
Adam and Harry shared a look as Remus produced his wand and started moving out of the training area. “Come; to the Boggart’s hiding spot.”
A minute later, the group found themselves standing in front of the cabinet in the Drawing Room.
“Don’t get too close, now.” Remus said as the piece of furniture rumbled ominously. “Boggarts can grow agitated if too many people approach, you see. Now, which one of you wishes to go first?”
The two boys shared a look, but Adam stepped back to stand next to Sirius. “All yours, Harry.”
“Scared?” Harry found himself saying, but as usual, Adam didn’t rise to the bait.
He never did.
“Without a doubt.” He said, gesturing for Harry to start. “Confronting my worst fear has me ready to soil my pants, honestly.”
Sirius suppressed the urge to laugh, though he couldn’t stop the smile spreading over his face from the small rush of good cheer that now permeated the air around him.
Harry relaxed and gave a short laugh at that before turning his attention to Remus, who was sending him an expectant look.
“I’m ready.” Harry said as the man moved to stand beside him.
“Remember.” Remus said as he raised his wand. “You must force it to assume a shape you find amusing, Harry. On three.”
Harry nodded, and Remus began to count.
“One. Two. Three.” He said and waved his wand, unlocking the cabinet door. The rumbling of the cabinet stilled at once, banishing the cheer away and filling the Drawing Room with an eerie quiet which made Sirius’ skin crawl.
He wondered just what it was that Harry would see when the door opened.
A family of three emerged: a black-haired obese man and his equally obese, blonde son, as well as a blonde woman with a long face and neck. The Dursleys? Why them?
The big man— Vernon’s beady eyes zeroed in on Harry before he grinned.
“Come back with your tail between your legs, boy?” Vernon said in a tone so gleeful that it set Sirius’ teeth on edge. “After everything we’ve done for you, you think you can spit on our faces and then expect to be taken back with open arms? Oh, no, sir. There’s going to be changes coming. Some new, much fairer rules for you, b—”
“Riddikulus!” Harry incanted, but nothing happened. The boy beside Vernon stepped forward, cracking his knuckles threateningly.
Sirius did not like the implication of that. Just what has Harry gone through with these people?
“Focus, Harry.” Remus said gently from behind him. “Think of something funny and force the change onto them.”
Harry’s eyes flicked between Remus and the False Dursleys before they widened with inspiration.
“Riddikulus!” Harry called out again, and the Dursleys’ noses morphed into pig snouts.
The family began to freak out, pressing their hands against their faces in horror so comical that Sirius had to roar with laughter, prompting everyone to follow suit. A moment later, he noticed the tiny little pigtails emerging from their backside and had to laugh again, forcing the Boggart to flee back into the cabinet in defeat.
“Well done, Harry!” Remus said, giving the boy a few appreciative pats on the shoulder. “Superbly done, indeed.”
Harry didn’t say anything, instead giving the two men a strained smile and heading off to join Sirius and Adam.
“Not what you were expecting?” Adam asked Sirius’ unspoken question to the boy. “I imagined you would have seen Voldemort or something.”
“Me too.” Harry said, though he shook his head. “But I guess I don’t really think about him all that much.”
“I suppose so.” Adam said noncommittally, though he was smiling. “Still, very good work. Making them like pigs was comedy gold.”
Not much to do, really. Vernon was practically all the way there, himself. To say nothing of his son. Sirius thought, remembering the unpleasant visit he had made to Privet Drive when he was petitioning to adopt Harry. Maybe I should pay them another visit sometime— ask a few more… pertinent questions.
That Harry’s supposed previous caretakers were his worst fear was very telling to Sirius, and not in a good way.
“What about you, Adam?” Remus’ voice broke through Sirius’ thoughts. “Are you ready?”
Adam looked between the cabinet and Remus for a few moments before shrugging and moving to Harry’s previous location.
“No.” Adam said, shaking his head as he took a few more steps forward, causing the cabinet to rumble again. “But no one’s ever ready for something like this.”
“Truer words.” Remus said and nodded, wand ready. “On the count of three. One. Two. Three.”
Once again, the cabinet stilled as the door was unlocked, swinging open to reveal… nothing?
No, there’s something inside, I spy the silhouette of a man, I think. Sirius thought to himself as a tall, adult figure began to slowly emerge from the cabinet. Strangely enough, Sirius still couldn’t see its features. Could it be Voldemort?
A moment later, the figure fully emerged into the light, revealing an adult man wearing navy and black robes, billowing with unseen power. His long, black hair, reaching to the middle of his back, was also being carried by the same non-existent wind.
He recognized it as a human being, but then Sirius had scarcely seen any people move with such perturbing grace. Perhaps his great grandfather, long ago…
Sirius frowned as he continued to stare.
He did not recognize this person.
Sirius moved to stand behind Adam to get a better look. It was clearly a wizard, but not one he’d ever seen before. He did look somewhat familiar— wait, his eyes!
The man’s eyes were a milky white, the same as Adam’s right eye. He even had the same scar going through that eye, as well. Could it be? I’d recognize those eyes anywhere.
Adam did not say anything in reaction, though Sirius thought he saw the boy’s shoulders stiffen. “…”
“Nothing to say?” The tall man said as his face went into a wide, manic grin. “Not glad to see yourself?”
So it is Adam, or a version of him in the future? He fears… himself? Sirius thought. He was starting to get confused.
“…” Adam’s head drifted a little down, and Sirius followed his gaze to see the man’s red fingers, stained with blood. But whose?
“Focus, Adam…” Remus said. “Turn it into—”
Adam raised his hand to forestall whatever he was going to say. “No. Not yet.”
His adult doppelganger laughed. “‘Not yet’, he says. Ha!”
It laughed a few more times before turning its wide, mocking milky eyes on the boy again.
“Of course. Of course!” The Boggart said, still with the same wide smile. “Always the same, aren’t you? Always looking to understand things you have no business trying to. I can see you for what you are. A fool playing with powers too complex for him to ever truly fathom.”
It took a step forward and lifted one of its bloody hands in a welcoming invitation, its white eyes beginning to glow an ominous silver. “A killer who only thirsts for more power and bloodshed; no matter how many pathetic lambs you’ve slaughtered, you can’t ever seem to get enough, can you? Playing them like strings on a harp… But you would know all about those threads, wouldn’t you?”
The bloodied hand erupted in silvery-red flamelike energy which coalesced into a mocking simile of Adam’s chains. Sirius’ eyes widened in alarm, and yet Adam still said nothing.
“Adam!” Harry cried out, which finally woke the boy up from his stupor. “Finish it!”
That seemed to break the boy out of his trance.
Adam snarled as he swept his wand at the Boggart. “Riddikulus!”
The previously ominous figure stumbled as his clothes shifted into a clown’s costume. His swaying black hair turned curly and red. His face turned white with makeup, making his eyes dark in comparison, and his nose turned red and bulbous.
The chains which were floating in front of his hand exploded into multicolor confetti as the air filled with the sound of honks.
Harry laughed at the sight of the flustered clown, causing it to go into hysterics. At that, Adam seemed to finally relax, letting himself be amused by the creature’s antics, which only sent it into further hysterics.
“Nice try, clown.” Adam said, though Sirius could tell that the boy’s voice was almost brittle in a way. “Go be a joke somewhere else.”
The clown-Clarke could only wail in horrified frustration as it rushed back into the cabinet, chastised.
“Very well done!” Remus said, his tone of voice gaining more cheer than Sirius thought was normal. A quick look at the man’s body language showed that he was likely as perturbed as Sirius had been. “Good job, Adam.”
“Thank you.” Adam said, smiling a little as Harry gave him a pat on the shoulder. “I figured turning it into a clown was the best way to go.”
“I’ll say.” Harry said, smiling as well to keep the boy’s spirits up.
“Why don’t you two go downstairs and get something to eat?” Sirius said after a few moments. “Facing a Boggart is no easy thing, after all. Keep up your strength.”
The two boys nodded before looking towards Remus for permission.
“There is some chocolate down there, I believe. It’ll be very good for you, I promise.” Remus said kindly, nodding for them to go. “Go on, now.”
The two left the Drawing Room, leaving Sirius alone with Remus.
“That was…” Remus said after a moment’s silence. “Enlightening.”
“Harry, or Adam?”
Sirius barked out a laugh to try to banish his unease away. “You’re right about that.”
“I daresay you’ve a lot of work to do.” Remus said, smiling for some time before his expression turned serious. “Especially Adam. He thinks…”
Remus trailed off, not knowing what to say to that. Sirius couldn’t blame him; they’d expected the boy’s fears to be like their own when growing up, not… this.
“It won’t come to pass.” Sirius shook his head, gathering his resolve. “As long as he’s got good people in his life— someone like Harry—people who are keeping him on the right path.”
“Harry is one very headstrong young man, yes.” Remus said, and then murmured almost to himself. “But do you think it’ll be enough?”
Sirius nodded. “It will be; I’m sure of it. Harry’s the best of both James and Lily. We’ve both seen it.”
That got a nod and a nostalgic look from his best friend. “That much is true… so very true.”
“Come on.” Sirius said as he locked the cabinet door with a quick wave of his wand before turning and heading towards the kitchens. “I could use some chocolate, too. After that.”
He smiled a little at Remus’ grunt of acknowledgment from behind him before losing it.
Just what have you gotten yourself into this time, Sirius Black? He thought to himself, repeating something Lily always used to tell him whenever he got in over his head.
Could he even help these two boys? He didn’t know.
Merlin, I barely know how to cook, let alone… He thought and stopped as he saw the two boys mercilessly decimating the poor, unsuspecting chocolate supply.
He felt a small smile come over his face again. No. Whatever it takes, I will help them. I owe them that much at least.
“Save some for us! Greedy lot…”