A/N: OI would just like to thank my fabulous editor, Night Auditor for the great work that he does for me.
As Cepheus slowly drifted out of a fog of drowsiness, he opened his eyes to darkness. His heartbeat shot up as he realised, he was blind. Then a second realisation as he felt a mask or cloth covering his eyes. The boy sat still, mentally checking over his body for any injuries. Apart from a headache, he felt remarkably well but had no idea where he was. Ceph felt cold steel around his wrists, knowing he was chained up. The floor was warm but hard. The whole room or wherever he appeared to be dry, but it was neither warm nor cold beyond that. He stilled himself as he heard voices.
“You got the wrong child,” a voice hissed angrily.
“He was the better choice, Master,” a second voice sneered.
“Do not call me Master,”
“What would you like me to call you? I am a slave to you,” the second voice answered, “The boy will have the Potter boy running faster than if I had taken the Granger girl,”
“You are positive of this?”
“He has always wanted family, my sources tell me, so he will come running when his brother is discovered to be missing,” the second voice responded.
“You are ready to lure him here?” the first voice asked.
“Yes,” came the short answer, then the voices disappeared, leaving Cepheus on his own.
Sirius Black looked around the room as everyone prepared for the next spring session of the Wizengamot. The last of the lords had taken their seats as he observed Perseus Parkinson from his seat. Now the fifth House named Ancient and Noble, as the others are all ruled extant. The blond-haired man watched the proceedings with a slight sneer on his face. Sirius had already taken notice of the cream chair that had magically appeared with the family crest. Crossed wands over a cockatrice were the symbol of the family. Parkinson was known as a Fixer. It seemed he could get anything for you at a price. It was also well known he was a Death Eater like Malfoy that had pleaded innocence during the first wizarding war.
“Settle down, settle down,” the Wizengamot Seneschal banged his rod, opening the session. Sirius grinned at the traditional entrance that had happened for hundreds of years. Tiberius Ogden, Cornelius Fudge and Amelia Bones entered as the three most senior figures of the British Magical government. They took their seats on the central platform.
“Good morning, one and all, welcome to today’s session on the tenth of April Nineteen Ninety-six. I hope everyone had a wonderful vernal equinox,” Tiberius stood and greeted them all with a smile. Sirius liked the old man; he was much faired than Dumbledore had ever been. His father had told tales of the previous Chief Warlock, Edgar Sayre, a man with the blackest of hearts. It was discovered he was a follower of Grindelwald, and so Albus Dumbledore had taken his place.
“Now, do we have any more announcement’s before we move on to our first business?” Ogden asked, bringing Sirius back to the session.
“Yes, as you can see, we have some new Houses joining the Wizengamot today,” Amelia spoke up. “I’d like to introduce you to Augustus Gibbon, the head of the Wizengamot Legacy committee.”
“Good morning, esteemed ladies and gentlemen,” a short, black man entered the central area where a podium had been set up. He pulled out several sheaves of parchment and settled them on the podium. “Our job at the Legacy Committee is to look into the history and background of candidates and standing members of the Wizengamot.
Over the last several years, many Houses have died out and become extinct. However, today for the first time in 56 years, several Houses from the Greater Order have been elevated to a higher status. Firstly, the Parkinson Family, which can trace its magical legacy back to the time of Merlin, has joined the esteemed Houses in the Ancient and Noble Order. We welcome Lord Parkinson, 1st Viscount of Mandeville.” A brief smattering of applause was given.
“Welcome to the club,” Theodore Selwyn spoke to the man quietly, who acknowledged the greeting with a head nod.
“A severe travesty of justice has prevailed for over 100 years,” people sat up at Gibbon’s words,” the House of MacDougal, a family of the purest magical blood has languished in the Greater Order for many years, now they have joined the Ancient houses where they belong.” First, Clarence MacDougal was welcomed to the Ancient Order. Neville had spoken about the MacDougal twins, but Clarence looked every bit a lord. Sirius knew he and Amelia would be approaching the House soon. Next, Gibbons introduced Robert Brown, who was joining the Noble houses. Sirius had heard Harry and Hermione speak of the man’s daughter, Lavender. From his own research, Robert Brown collected and sold ingredients for potions. Brown Apothecary was exceptionally well known for getting some of the rarest ingredients from around the world.
Next, the House of Higgs was introduced, not the lesser branch of Higg’s Harry had once played against in Quidditch but the prime bloodline. Jeremiah, a prominent Slytherin, was neutral but worked with both sides of the Wizengamot. He was a well-known trader of magi-zoological animals and owned a small menagerie himself. Then Traver’s were introduced; Sirius knew a Travers was part of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. But Bernard Traver’s was head of the family; the forty-eight-year-old was a member of the Department for Magical Co-operation. Amelia had told him he was the British Ambassador to France. Watching the man talking to Falco Tremblay, another new Noble House member, he saw the man gesturing wildly as he spoke to the Canadian Ambassador.
When Falco Tremblay was bought up, there were some grumbles from the crowd and the spectators. The Chief Warlock had to bang his gavel a few times as Augustus Gibbon actually detailed the family tree of Falco Tremblay to prove the family had British blood. Urquart, Wilkes and Zahn were the final three Houses to join the Noble Order, all neutrals ready to be courted by the Black Alliance or the Dark Alliance to their causes. Sirius had already had dealings with Magenta Wilkes, the Matriarch of the Wilkes House; she was a Herbologist and had provided the Longbottom and Black families with different plants.
For three hours, they listened to the Legacy committee extol the virtues of the newcomers.
“Merlin, this is boring,” Theodore Selwyn spoke quietly from his left.
“I agree, but necessary, we need fresh blood in the Wizengamot,” Sirius commented in return.
“True, Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis,” Selwyn quoted the Latin maxim ‘The times are changing, and we are changing with them.’ Sirius once again found his gaze returning to Perseus Parkinson, though only five years older than him, the man was a stuffy pureblood that believed in tradition.
“Is change for the better?” Parkinson commented, speaking his first words.
“Please elaborate,” Selwyn gestured at the man.
“Change can be good or bad, it could bring us closer to exposing our world to Muggles,” the way he spoke Muggles like a disgusting word made Sirius frown, the gesture unnoticed by Parkinson, “which makes our lives even more dangerous, which is why we need to have tighter regulations on Muggle-borns and half-bloods.”
“I can see your point, but we need fresh blood to grow the population. Even Muggle scientists have done lots of research on inbreeding,” Selwyn returned, getting a subtle dig in. The Animagus liked the old man’s wit and humour since they had begun to have almost weekly meetings, usually over dinner at his favourite restaurant in Diagon Alley. Before Parkinson could form a rebuttal, they were pulled back to the Wizengamot meeting as the Legacy Committee Head finished his piece.
“Well, we would all like to welcome the newcomers to our midst; it is exciting to many new faces on the Wizengamot after seeing the same old faces,” a smattering of laughter was heard around the chambers at the Chief Warlock’s joke. The man shuffled around his parchments and frowned. “Now to our first order of business, Master Yaxley has tabled a vote of no confidence in the current Minister of Magic.”
As Sirius looked around the chambers at everyone, he noticed that most did not seem shocked though Cornelius Fudge looked absolutely stunned. Then, finally, Corbin Yaxley, the representative of the House of Lestrange, stood up.
“As a representative to the House of Lestrange, they have instructed me to put forward a motion of no confidence in Cornelius Fudge. For many years he has put his own greed over the wizarding world; we have evidence that he colluded with the former Sir Malfoy, taking bribes from the rogue noble,” Yaxley began, astonishing the Light quarter, the man was throwing Malfoy under the bus. “He also placed Dementors at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a place where emotions are wild and excessive, which could have easily lured the Dementors. In fact, one such incident did occur at a Quidditch match; it was only the quick thinking of Albus Dumbledore that saved the children.
We have word that Fudge not only approved but wholeheartedly agreed to Dolores Umbridge’s use of dark objects at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, he has failed the Magical world time and again, putting our very children in danger.”
The Black Patriarch was shocked, to say the least. Yaxley was painting Fudge as a Death Eater Sympathiser. Sirius knew that Fudge was corrupt, but he was innocent of colluding with the Darker side.
“I object! I never knew what Dolores was doing. But, as soon as I did, she was removed and taken to Azkaban,” Fudge shouted out the Wizengamot, pleading, “I can give you names; I have evidence of people who have performed unspeakable things.”
“Quiet Minister,” Ogden suggested leaning down to speak to Amelia. Instead, the Minister fell quiet as Amelia talked to some of her Aurors. Rufus sidled up alongside Fudge, had a quiet word with him, then escorted him out of the chamber with a second Auror. “Now a vote of no confidence has been put forth, would anybody like to second the motion?”
“I would; he is corrupt, and so are his policies for the past six years. He bumbled through the job asking former headmaster Dumbledore for advice.” But Agatha MacMillan stood tall as she spoke. “the last twenty-eight years have seen a slew of bad Ministers; we are in need of a strong Minister that will bring the magical world and all its brethren into the Twenty-first century.”
Sirius shared a surprised look with Augusta, first Yaxley tabled the vote of no confidence. He had expected it to come from one of Dumbledore’s followers like Agatha MacMillan. Then for McMillan to actually agree with Yaxley, while not overly shocking, came as a small wonder.
“A vote of No-confidence has been confirmed, as in previous polls we shall vote whether Cornelius Fudge should be removed from office, then we shall discuss the candidates for the role should Fudge lose the vote,” Tiberius Ogden explained, “Then I shall set a date for the public to vote in the next Minister of Magic.”
“This should be interesting,” Augusta muttered.
“The standard rule applies for votes; blue tips will signify a vote for no confidence, and red tips shall represent confidence in Cornelius doing his job correctly,” the Chief Warlock explained the usual rules, “ok, then, let us begin! Cast your votes.”
Immediately the members of the Wizengamot began to vote in droves. The Chief Warlock and Head of DMLE were exempt as the highest members, but the rest voted. Sirius could already see the blue tips outweighed the red tips by a significant margin. Soon the votes had been counted.
“The blues have it. Cornelius Fudge will be removed from office,” Ogden announced gravelly. “We shall have a one-hour recess. However, the doors shall remain sealed. Afterwards, you can put your chosen candidates’ forwards.”
“What are your opinions on the latest situation?” Selwyn looked around Sirius to ask the newest noble to join their tier.
“Clearly, Minister Fudge was corrupt,” Perseus drawled, “I welcome the fact we may get a new Minister that may hold to the traditions,”
Sirius toned the man out as his thoughts turned to the problem of a new Minister. Who would he trust in the government to handle the threat of Voldemort and revolutionise the Ministry? Who could the Black’s throw their considerable weight behind? Possibly, Amelia had the experience of running a department of the Ministry, the largest department, to be fair.
But he knew she would probably not want the job. Arthur Weasley would be his next choice, but the man was too nice and would be eaten alive. He looked up and caught Augusta’s eye; she beckoned him over. Selwyn grinned and took Sirius’ seat leaning into the Parkinson Heads, space. Sirius joined Cyrus and Augusta, whispering a few quiet words that set up a Ward so no one could overhear them.
“So, who are we considering?” Augusta asked, looking at Sirius.
“Amelia Bones,” Cyrus commented as Sirius spoke.
“Rufus Scrimgeour,” the Animagus looked at his friend and shook his head, “Amelia will not want to do it, though she is eminently qualified.”
“I agree with Sirius. Miss Bones is right where she is meant to be,” the Longbottom matriarch concurred.
“So why Scrimgeour?” Greengrass now asked.
“He is a good Auror, does not take any crap from anyone and can deal with politicians.”
“Hmm, yes, perhaps Mister Scrimgeour is the right man for the job,” Augusta nodded her head. The Black patriarch got a nod from Cyrus, so he sent a Patronus message to Amelia Bones. Several minutes later, Amelia and Rufus Scrimgeour joined them in the Ward.
“What do you think about the current situation?” Black asked without preamble. The two Law enforcement officers shared a look.
“It was the right decision. I had just tasked Auror Robards with investigating Minister Fudge under the radar,” Amelia explained, “as we had had a tip explaining his corruption and his involvement with the terrorist regime.”
“Hmm, someone was trying to oust Fudge and were hedging their bets if the Wizengamot did not vote for his removal,” Black mused, then looked at the pair. “We would like to back Mister Scrimgeour to be the next Minister of Magic.”
“Excuse me!” the lionise man looked shocked.
“Actually, it makes perfect sense, I know you considered me, but I have no wish to take the Minister’s job. I am happy where I am,” Amelia mused, then turned to look at her Head Auror. “You have integrity, an impeccably clean record and have a habit of picking the underdog. You are not easily corrupt and can bite back against these stuffy Lords.”
“Yes, but if I am to be your candidate, I expect you to call me Rufus, Your Grace,” the Auror replied after a few minutes considering things.
“Then I expect you to call me Sirius, none of this stuffy lordship stuff,” the Animagus replied, glaring at Amelia, who merely laughed at him.
“That I can do,” Rufus replied. The five of them continued to discuss their next steps until the session was called back to order. Black dropped the Ward as Amelia and Rufus departed. Sirius took up his own chair once again as Selwyn returned to his own chair, giving the man a wink.
“Welcome back to the Wizengamot Session for the Tenth of April Nineteen Ninety-Six,” Tiberius Ogden banged the gavel silencing the last few murmurs, “Before we broke for the recess, the current Minister stepped down due to a vote of no confidence. Today we shall begin the process of replacing him. Then, on the tenth of October Nineteen Ninety-Six, we shall call a general election for the public to vote for their chosen candidate.”
“Six Months, that’s quick,” Selwyn muttered from next to Sirius. Black had to agree, but they would give the Wizarding population of Britain, a great candidate in Rufus.
“In the meantime, after discussing it with Senior members, Madam Marchbanks, the Head of the Department of Education and Family Services shall be the interim Minister until a new one is elected,” Ogden announced instantly, causing a storm of conversation up and down the aisles.
“A good choice,” Sirius suggested to Selwyn.
“Yes, with her being in neither Alliance’s pocket, she should do really well,” Theodore agreed. Tiberius Ogden continued to discuss the upcoming election until he took a moment to pause, taking a sip from the flagon on his podium
“Now, those parties that wish to put forward a nomination for a candidate to be Minister, please do so now,” the Chief Warlock looked around the chambers expectantly. Silence reigned for a few moments when Geoffrey Nott stood up.
“I would like to nominate Pius Thicknesse,” the slick man suggested. Sirius was both surprised yet not overly. He looked over at Thicknesse, who had stood up amongst the Heads of the Department. Pius had long black hair with a beard streaked in silver. He had a great overhanging forehead that shadowed glinting eyes. Truth be told, Sirius thought the man looked like a crab looking out from beneath a rock. He tried not to giggle to himself. Pius was the Head of the Department of International Magical Co-operation, taking over from Barty Crouch Snr. He had briefly read the file on Thicknesse, but he would have to read it in-depth.
“Thank you, Lord Nott. I would be honoured to be considered a candidate for Minister of Magic. I would truly love to lead our great country and shape the future,” the man spoke imperiously with a slickness that reminded Sirius of Mundane snake-oil salesman.
“You may take a seat now, Mister Thicknesse,” Ogden smiled patiently at the other man.
“I would like to nominate Amos Diggory,” another member of Wizengamot suggested. However, the man that stood looked worn and tired. Black remembered him from Harry’s description and the Death of his son, Cedric.
“Thank you, Alan, but at this time, I would like to decline. We are still grieving for Cedric, and I would not make a good asset for the Ministry, let alone leading it,” Amos replied hollowly.
“Thank you, Amos, we still grieve with you for your lost son,” Tiberius told the man. The man took a seat as someone else stood up.
“I nominate Jonathan Knight,” the Wizengamot member spoke. A tall thin man stood up from the Heads of Department’s section. Black wracked his brains trying to remember the profiles he read. Then, finally, Sirius remembered that Knight was Head of the Department of Magical Transportation.
“I would be honoured to stand for Minister of Magic. The next century will see great change within our world, and we must be prepared for it,” the man replied smoothly. But unfortunately, Sirius knew almost nothing about the man, so he would have to do some research to find out everything about him.
“Well, thank you, Mister Knight, you may take a seat,” Ogden had a genuine smile for the man, but Sirius was trying to decipher what type of man Knight was; he had come as a surprise, so where would this mans’ allegiances lie? “Any more nominations before we bring the session to an end?”
“I would like to nominate Rufus Scrimgeour,” Cyrus Greengrass stood looking around regally. There seemed to be a lot of interest from the galleries at this nomination. The lion-like man stood over his boss’s shoulder looking around with keen yellow eyes that almost seemed to glow like molten gold.
“Thank you, Your Grace. I happily accept your nomination, and should I become Minister of Magic, I will help weed out corruption and bring the Ministry back as the People’s government,” Rufus nodded and got applause from the Galleries. Some of the Wizengamot looked unsettled about this pronouncement. However, Ogden’s smile was wide as he spoke.
“Thank you, Auror Scrimgeour. Again, we thank you for your service and for accepting the nomination. You may return to your duties.” The old Chief Warlock spoke for several minutes more after the Head Auror became the last nomination. The Warlock outlined the timeline for the Ministerial vote, including several debates the three nominees would participate in. Sirius found his mind wandering as he knew Cyrus or Augusta would give him the information needed. He did hear that each candidate would have to step down from their current job but would return should they fail to become Minister of Magic. He found that interesting and wondered who would take over as Head Auror in Rufus’ stead.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, Ogden drew the session to a close. Sirius could almost hear the sigh of relief from the Wizengamot members as they got up to leave. The Black Patriarch waited for the crowd to thin out, leaving behind Augusta Longbottom and Cyrus Greengrass. Selwyn and Parkinson had already left together talking about the day’s events. He bid his two allies a fond farewell as they stepped into their private offices just as Remus and Narcissa joined him.
“Well, that was certainly interesting,” the werewolf grinned at his best friend. “I was not expecting some of those nominations.”
“Pius Thicknesse is on the payroll of Corbin Yaxley. Unfortunately, he is also a low-level Death Eater,” Narcissa confirmed quietly, laying a hand on her partner’s arm. Remus gave her a sweet smile as she held her belly. The former Malfoy was really showing her pregnancy now, with only a month before she was due as told by her Pais-Healer.
“We need to do some research on Jonathan Knight and Pius Thick- “Sirius broke off his sentence as a screech from an owl distracted him. A regal-looking Great Horned Owl was settled above the door of the Black Private offices. He could see the owl had a letter attached to its talons. Sirius held out his arm, allowing the owl to glide down, silently settling lightly on the man’s upper arm. The Animagus took the parchment, noticing it had the seal of Hogwarts on it. Remus gave the creature some owl treats before the bird flew off back down the hallway to find its way back outside. Narcissa and Remus exchanged glances, worried for their friend, who had gone quiet.
“What does it say?” Remus asked, curious. Sirius unsealed the letter and began to read. Remus observed him, his best friend’s face turning paler and paler. Remus became alarmed as the dark-haired man quickly stumbled over to the door. “What?”
“Cepheus has gone missing!” Sirius cried out. The pair quickly followed Sirius into the Black Office as he turned and shoved the letter at Remus, “I need you to go find Amelia and get her to send some Aurors to Hogwarts.”
“Where are you going?” Remus asked, trying to remain calm for his friend, who was frantically searching for the Floo powder.
“Hogwarts, where do you think?” Sirius snapped back.
“You go, Remi, and I’ll go with my cousin,” Narcissa told the man as Sirius disappeared through the Floo with a cry of ‘Hogwarts Headmaster’s office.’ Remus kissed the woman then left through the door as Narcissa took a handful of Floo powder and called out the Headmaster’s office. She stepped through elegantly, emerging from the other end to a furious Sirius. Filius Flitwick was sat behind his desk nonplussed by the other man’s anger.
“Calm down, Siri, or I will calm you down,” Narcissa snapped. He looked angry for a few more moments as his cousin gave him a level gaze. Then he turned and slumped down in one of the seats. Filius offered the other seat Narcissa who took it gracefully and looked at the diminutive Headmaster.
“Now, can you explain what has happened? As I understand it, my nephew has gone missing,” Narcissa stated.
“Yes, Lord Rendlesham came to Professor McGonagall and myself yesterday evening. Apparently, Lord Black had been seen at lunchtime, and that was the last time he had been seen,” Filius explained.
“You do not need to be formal with us. It is quite alright,” Narcissa assured the Headmaster, placing a hand on her cousin’s thigh when he went to speak, “Why were we not informed last night or his Guardian at school, Andromeda?”
“Hogwarts policy is to inform the Parents after twenty-four hours, we contacted the Aurors early this morning when we realised it was not merely a prank,” Filius explained, “Harry and his friends have searched the castle looking for Cepheus, but we do not know where he has gone. As for Andromeda, she is away at a conference.”
“I had forgotten, I apologise,” the woman returned. Filius nodded, accepting her apology as a knock came at the door before Harry pushed through the door past Minerva McGonagall.
“Dad!” he cried out, falling into Sirius’ arms, acting more like a younger child than a fifteen-year-old. The Head of Gryffindor followed him in with Draco, Hermione, and Neville hot on her heels. Narcissa realised Flitwick must have sent a Patronus Message where Sirius arrived.
All three youths began to talk at once, trying to explain everything, but Narcissa could barely hear them over each other. Finally, Flitwick let off a bang that silenced them all. Harry still trembled in Sirius’ arms. The Headmaster’s fireplace flared again, admitting Amelia Bones followed quickly by Remus and a newcomer. He wore the red overcoat of an Auror with a gold star on each side of the high collar. A silver M for ‘Ministry’ could be seen on the sleeve. The dark-haired man looked a little uncomfortable. Narcissa pegged him for being in his mid-thirties.
“I would like to introduce you to Gawain Robards. He has just taken over as Head Auror but was the lead Auror on Cepheus Black’s disappearance,” Amelia introduced the blue-eyed man. His beard was very square, jet black like his hair.
“Can you tell us what happened?” Narcissa asked as they were getting nowhere with the teens. Robards took out a flipbook and went over it before looking up.
“I interviewed Riley Monahan and Mark Evans this morning; they were the last to see him. They had Charms, a flying lesson and Herbology before lunch, which they ate together where he apparently spoke with his brother,” Robards spoke with a soft lilting Welsh accent, as he nodded at Harry, “then after lunch, he told his friends he had to get something from the dorms. So, the pair proceeded to Defence Against the Dark Art’s, but their friend never showed up. They spoke to Lord Rendlesham at dinner, who immediately notified his head of House and Headmaster.”
“I assume you have searched the school,” Sirius stated from over Harry’s head.
“Yes, I have had Aurors combing the school since this morning. We are about halfway through,” Robards confirmed, “I had returned to brief Miss Bones.”
“We searched everywhere last night, Dad, even the Special rooms and Chamber of Secrets,” Harry told him.
“Thank you, Captain Robards, we’ll let you get back to the investigation,” Amelia released the Auror, who nodded at everyone then left through the open door. Hermione closed it softly behind her. Narcissa quickly used the old Black spell freezing the portraits and making sure the room was impenetrable.
“What are you doing?” Flitwick asked, surprised.
“We need to discuss some things that should not leave this room. Can I get your promise that what is said will not be repeated?” Narcissa asked, looking at McGonagall and Flitwick. She knew that she would have to take charge as Sirius comforted Harry and was in no fit state.
“I promise not to repeat what is said. I will take a vow if required,” McGonagall was the first to say, and Flitwick added his own promise too. Narcissa immediately turned to Draco.
“Have you heard anything from the Junior Death Eaters?” McGonagall gasped but remained quiet.
“There have been a few boasts that Ceph has been taken, but nothing concrete pointing to any of them,” Draco replied. “None of the elder Death Eaters have been in contact either.”
“Remus, can you reach out to your werewolf contacts and see if they know anything?” Narcissa asked, turning to her partner.
“I’ll go right away,” Remus kissed her and immediately disappeared through the fireplace.
“Amelia, do you think you can ask any of your informants in the underworld to see if they have heard anything?” The Black woman asked.
“I’ll see what I can do,” she too left.
“Sirius, I need you to pull it together for both your children. We need to speak to the less than savoury contacts we have to see if they have heard anything,” she finished.
“What do you want us to do?” Harry asked, eager to help as he wiped away tears. She knew before this year Harry had had no competent adults in his life, but that had changed now.
“Can you stay here? In case Cepheus contacts the school, we will need someone to let us know,” She told him softly.
“But!” he tried to protest.
“I know you have always got involved in the past, but we will do everything in our power to get Cepheus back.” He stared angrily at her before turning his back, noticing the shelf that usually held the Sorting Hat was empty. Maybe it was being cleaned, he idly thought.
“Be Careful,” he heard McGonagall say but ignored them as he heard the whoosh of the fireplace activating.
Harry sat in the Gryffindor suite brooding, staring at the map of Hogwarts. Hermione had left him to speak to friends in Gryffindor because he would not get out of his funk. Now a little over forty-eight hours since Cepheus had gone missing, Harry was getting antsy. None of the adults would get back to him; he was not used to sitting around while other people were out doing something.
He jumped up, pacing up and down, knowing he needed to do something, anything! He suddenly had a bright idea; running to his bedroom, he gathered up the Marauder’s Map. Harry did not know why but he laid it out on the coffee table, speaking the magic words aloud. Instantly lines began to form, crisscrossing, eventually creating a complete map of Hogwarts. The dark-haired youth scoured the map, searching for any type of clues until he suddenly found a name that should not be there.
Harry grabbed his wand, a bag and stuffed the Invisibility cloak inside. Then, the youth slipped out of the Gryffindor suite into an empty corridor sticking to the shadows; he took all available shortcuts to reach the main courtyard. Then, he was running headlong across the grass of Hogwarts lawns until he got to the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
“I know you are out there,” Harry called out to the person that should not be on the grounds.
“Brave of you to come alone, boy,” a voice whispered back, and a figure emerged from the forest.
“I’m not scared of you. How do you know I do not have friends all around me?” Harry asked the loner.
“I know you are lying,” the person answered.
“What do you want?” Harry asked.
“I bring you a message and a peace offering,” the person replied, hood and shadows covering their face.
“What could you offer me?” Harry laughed derisively.
“I know where your brother is.” Harry stiffened up, his fingers itching to take his wand out.
“You’re lying!” Harry responded after several moments.
“I am not. This letter will explain everything,” the robed figure held out a piece of parchment. Harry looked at the parchment wearily before his desperation to find his brother won out. He reached out for the parchment.
“Harry!” a familiar voice called as something rammed into him, then he slipped into darkness after seeing bright swirling colours.