Pairing(s): Sirius/Remus in later chapters
Summary: Stealing Harry grabs canon by the throat and disembowls it. If Lucius Malfoy got to Peter Pettigrew before Sirius could, Sirius would be a bookshop owner, Remus would have a steady job, and one day, when Harry Potter was eight-and-a-half years old, they might kidnap him from the Dursleys
Sequels: Laccoon’s Children 1, Laccoon’s Children 2 (WIP, more to come).
Warnings: slash, violence later chapters, AU
Rec Expl.: This is a very detailed and believable AU. Not only are we given a background on who/what/how everything develops, it also has an excellent plot. The characters are true to those in J.K. Rowling’s universe, yet they seem to grow in this AU as people/characters. You never once think that this couldn’t have been the way that things might have happened, if it hadn’t been for those seemingly random events. I love the way Sam managed to create such intricate backgrounds and yet keep the story flowing. Whenever I reread the arc, I always manage to discover something new or reinterpret it. These stories are magnificent, if you haven’t read them yet, you’ve been missing out!
Andromeda was noisily cleaning the kitchen when Sirius and the rest of the Tonks family returned; Moody was sipping tea in a corner of the kitchen, and indicated with a mutter and a wave of a hand that Snape was already in the library. Sirius barely paused to set down two hastily-packed satchels of clothing in their bedroom, snatch Frog, and grab the pile of books Remus had requested, before he pushed his way into the library.
The table Remus had charmed to follow him was now resting firmly on the ground, in the central atrium of the library; he was hunched over it, sunlight turning the book-pages, and his hair, bright gold. Snape was standing to one side, leafing through another volume, and Harry was sitting crosslegged on the table itself, still reading comics. He looked up when Sirius entered, and grinned. Snape looked up also, and scowled.
Sirius set the books at Remus' elbow, deliberately brushing his arm with his hand, and passed Frog over to Harry.
"Thanks, Sirius," Harry said, tucking Frog next to his hip. "Gonna read with us?"
Sirius reached into his pocket and took out the rest of his cargo for Harry -- the blue snake that Snape had given him as a birthday present. He saw Snape's eyes follow his hand as the small reptile curled close to Sirius' fingers, before sliding across them and around Harry's wrist. Harry, delighted, held up his hand to Snape, who gave him a brief nod before returning to his reading.
"Ted and Nymphadora are going to help Andromeda -- they thought they'd get in the way here. Where've we got to, then?" Sirius asked, seating himself next to Remus and picking up a book off the pile. Remus rested his cheek on his hand, a gesture left over from their Hogwarts days.
"I'm on blood rituals, and Severus is looking at hexes aimed primarily at children. Though I do think if he'd wanted Harry dead he could have been more direct about it than he was. Wouldn't have taken all that much effort to roll you off him," Remus said quietly. Snape flicked the fingers of his left hand dismissively before turning another page. "Most blood rituals require willingly-given sacrifices on the part of the wizard performing the spell -- like the nomos spell I cast on the flat. Things that require innocent sacrifice..." he glanced at Harry, who had hung the docile snake around his neck; he leaned closer to Sirius, lowering his voice further. "This is deep, dark magic, Sirius. We're talking necromancy, demon-raising, torment curses...the sort of thing Bellatrix would practice, I suppose -- I always pegged Peter as more of a yes-man who found the wrong person to say yes to." He took the book out of Sirius' hands, replacing it with another. "Have a look at some of the necromancy stuff. Possibly Peter's trying to resurrect...someone. I don't know that he's bright enough, but..."
"Lupin." Snape's voice was quiet but crisp, as he held out the book he'd been reading, so that Remus could examine the text. "Quite possibly it's not actually for a spell at all. There's a compendium of potions by base ingredient, I believe; I'll retrieve it from Hogwarts tonight. Have you a copy of Libris Sanguinorum?" he asked Sirius, who looked surprised at the directness of the question.
"The one with the bloody hand on the cover?" Sirius asked.
"Yes, the third edition."
"I think so. Fascinated me as a kid," Sirius said, not quite able to believe he was being civil to his archnemesis. "Try the third aisle down, with the house-elf head on the end."
Snape swooped off, and Remus made a notation on his parchment. Harry appeared to be watching them over the edge of his comic.
"Can people talk to frogs?" he asked, when he saw Sirius watching back.
Even Remus tore his attention away from his book, for that one.
"Not normally," Sirius answered cautiously. "I guess there are spells...don't see why you'd want to, really. Frogs can't have much to say."
"Snakes do," Harry answered. "Snake says he likes me better than your fuzzy old pocket."
Remus looked amused.
"He says you had coins in your pocket and they were lumpy," Harry added. Sirius reached into his pocket and brought out a handful of sickles. "Also they were cold," Harry added, as Snape returned, carrying a ghastly green book with a lurid bloody hand on the front cover.
"It was that or he starved," Sirius answered. "I don't know when we'll be able to go home again, Harry."
All three men stared as Harry hissed.
"Harry -- " Sirius began, but Harry continued to hiss and make small, strange noises in his throat, as the snake curled up over one of his ears and down near his mouth, looking for all the world as if it were trying to hear him better.
"What on earth..." Remus said, now totally distracted from research.
"He says it was still cold." Harry shrugged and returned to his comic.
"Harry, did you just talk to that snake?" Sirius demanded. Harry grinned and nodded. Remus' jaw had dropped. "Not for play, Harry. For real."
"I'm not playing," Harry replied. "Or telling tales. Ask Professor Snape, he believes me."
Sirius turned, ever so slowly, to regard Snape, wearing one of the most smug expressions Sirius had ever seen.
"Is he a Parselmouth?" he asked, feeling like the biggest fool in the world.
"I was," Snape said, silkily, "forbidden from telling you. Dumbledore's orders. I understand you take great delight in defying such things, but I, unfortunately, had a career to consider. I cannot, after all, be responsible for your lack of obser -- "
"YOU KNEW?" Sirius roared, and a flock of books immediately flew out of the nearby shelves in attack formation. Harry squeaked and ducked, Remus tried to fend them off, and Snape stood very still, like a Zen master witnessing an avalanche of a very literary nature. When Sirius emerged from the melee, Snape raised his index finger to his lips and made a very soft shushing noise.
The shush may have been his death knell, except that Remus instinctively blocked Sirius from getting his fingers around Snape's throat, and after a second, Sirius realised that Harry was watching with great interest.
"Outside," Remus ordered. "Now. Go. Shout at Dumbledore if you have to, but if you're going to be uselessly loud, you may as well let the rest of us work in peace. And you," he added, turning to Snape, "Are going to tell us everything you know, just as soon as I get through this section on poisoned daggers."
"How can you -- " Sirius sputtered, but Remus pressed his thumb over Sirius' lips, silencing him quite effectively.
"I have a limited capacity for dealing with crises," he said, emphasising each syllable. "I cannot at once process an attempt on Harry's life, Peter living as a rat for eight years in your bookshop, two grown men who can't be arsed to be civil to one another, and Harry's Doctor Doolittle act simultaneously without a great deal more alcohol than I currently have. Either go shout somewhere else, the both of you, or stay here and actually make yourselves useful."
Both men were silent for a minute; finally, Sirius picked up a book and plonked it down on top of the first one, flipping angrily to the index. Severus, hesitating, took a careful seat well on the other side of the table. Harry leaned forward over his comic, and whispered to Remus, "You're not going to turn them into turtles, are you?"
"I'm seriously considering it, Harry," Remus replied. "How long, incidentally, have you been able to talk to snakes?"
Harry shrugged. "Since I can remember. Nobody ever believed me. Am I in trouble?"
"No. But I wouldn't start hissing in public, all right?"
"It's not like anyone ever notices," Harry sulked.
"As a favour to me, Harry?"
Harry lifted a hand to delicately stroke the snake's head. "All right, Remus." He bent forward. "I'll keep your secret, too."
Remus bent forward. "What secret is that?"
Harry turned his comic around, and showed Remus one of the picture pages. In it, a caged werewolf was savagely attacking the bars of its prison.
"Oh bloody hell," Remus said, with feeling, right before five or six books attacked him.
"Those were some very bad words," Harry said over his crisps, as he and Remus recounted the library attack for the Tonkses and Moody, minus a few key details.
"Indeed they were," Remus agreed. "I'm sure a couple of grimoires upside the head were only what I deserved."
Down the stairs floated the muted sounds of Sirius and Severus having a really mighty row. Harry seemed unconcerned by it; Remus was going to leave them to it. Moody seemed to be positively enjoying it. The general drift seemed to be that Severus ought to have told Sirius his own godson was a parseltongue, and Sirius ought to have noticed it himself if he was so bloody great at being a godfather in the first place. Remus had quietly confiscated both their wands just before announcing they ought to stop for dinner.
"We should look into getting rid of that particular charm," Ted said, around a mouthful of sandwich. Nymphadora had made the sandwiches, and none of them wanted to see what the kitchen looked like after half an hour of crashing and clattering, but he had to admit they weren't bad-tasting.
"You say you wanted to put in a shop on the ground floor, Andromeda?" Remus asked.
Andromeda smiled and nodded. "We thought we could get one of those new portkey-storefronts, have you seen them? The storefront opens onto Diagon Alley but the actual shop can be nearly anywhere in London. Certainly wouldn't get much business around here. Neighbourhood's definitely gone downmarket in the last ten years."
"Give you a hand, if you like, once everything blows over," Remus offered. Upstairs there was a crash.
"Reckon we ought to go make sure nobody's going to die?" Ted asked.
"Let 'em to it," Moody grunted. "Do 'em no harm."
"I could certainly show you how to set up accounting, I've been keeping Sirius' books for a few years," Remus continued. Andromeda seemed to choke on a piece of chicken, and Ted thumped her back.
"We'd appreciate that," Ted said, scraping the tomatoes off his sandwich. There was a muttered "Sorry, dad" from Nymphadora.
"How did your research go?" Andromeda asked, when she'd cleared her throat. Remus frowned.
"I'm not sure. It...worries me," he said slowly. "I don't think it's meant to harm Harry at all, or Peter wouldn't have -- " he broke off, glancing at Harry, who was stealthily stealing one of Ted's discarded tomatoes. Andromeda nodded. "Severus thinks perhaps it's a potion, he's going to do more research tonight."
They all listened philosophically to another thud from upstairs.
"It's a good thing he likes Harry," Remus said with a smile. "I can't imagine either of them would take the sort of abuse the other dishes out, otherwise."
"Hard to imagine him liking anyone," Nymphadora muttered.
"At any rate, we're narrowing the field on why they wanted that blood. Slowly. We won't know what to do until we know what Peter's planning, but by the time we find out he may have already done it."
"S'why there's a time limit," Moody put in. "Can't afford to wait any longer, not with that crazy b -- " he looked at Harry, who was interestedly examining his false eye. "With that Bellatrix on the loose."
"Why's it move on its own?" Harry asked. Moody reached up and, to a chorus of disgusted groans from the rest of the company, took the eye out, dropping it in his water glass and holding it out for Harry to look at. The eye rolled around in the water until the electric blue pupil was fixed on Harry.
"Must you give anatomy lessons at the dinner table?" Andromeda asked delicately.
"He asked," Moody grunted. He took the eye out of the water and popped it back into place, where it swiveled upwards. "Looks like Black and Snape're pretty well finished," he added, as Sirius came clattering down the stairs. He gave them all a sullen, angry look, and threw himself into a chair next to Remus. Snape followed. Andromeda offered sandwiches.
"Nymphadora made them," she said, just as Sirius bit into one. Sirius paused for a moment, apparently decided to go through with it, and bit the rest of the way. Snape eyed them with the suspicion of a man who's seen exactly how many ways the sandwich-maker in question could screw up a potion.
"I'm going to Hogwarts," Snape growled. "For further research. I'll return tomorrow."
"Don't hurry back," Sirius said under his breath. Remus kicked the back of his leg. Harry got up from his chair, took a sandwich off the platter, and offered it to Snape. He hesitated a moment before accepting.
"I'm sorry Sirius yelled at you," Harry whispered.
"I'm not," Sirius added. Snape gave them all a sweeping, slightly disgusted look, tried to look as though he wasn't actually bending to hug a nine-year-old boy goodbye, and then vanished into the kitchen fire with a toss of floo powder and a snarled "Hogwarts!"
"Good talk, was it?" Remus asked mildly.
"He should have told us."
"Does it occur to you he was trying to, without breaking a promise?" Remus asked.
"No, that doesn't occur to me, why didn't he just tell us?"
Remus sighed. "He gave Harry a snake, Sirius."
Sirius frowned for a moment, until comprehension dawned in his eyes. Remus saw his suddenly understanding look, and nodded.
"Why didn't you point that out before?" Sirius demanded. Remus shrugged.
"Does you both good to shout a bit," he said calmly, and Andromeda began to laugh.