23 July: You Know How Sirius Feels About His Mother Who: Sirius Black, Gideon Prewett, Fabian Prewett, and guest appearance by Nelly What: Sirius at least temporarily diverts a discussion about one horcrux into a discussion about another. When: Lunch time, 23 July Where: Fabian's flat, near his office on Diagon Alley Warnings:
Nelly had laid out lunch for three teenagers, or perhaps seven adults. It wasn't a full formal dinner, but she did like the ceremony of it. She didn't care particularly if Fabian or Gideon carved the roast, she just insisted that the roast be carved.
"I didn't realize I'd be wielding a short sword," said Gideon, giving in to his future house's elf's prodding. He carved the roast beef into thick slices. "Gents?"
Fabian took a couple of relatively small slices and filled the rest of his plate with the copious roast veg and potatoes Nelly had brought along with her. He was going to be eating the leftovers from this meal for a week, if not longer. "Delicious, thanks, Nelly."
In deference to Sirius' sensibilities, they were serving themselves. Nelly, meanwhile, was busying herself by seeing to Fabian's upstairs. His bedroom was going to be cleaner that it had been in months and every item in his wardrobe was going to be immaculately clean and pressed. How he was supposed to masquerade as a louche gentleman of the demimonde was beyond him.
Eating food cooked by a house elf in service to one of the Sacred Twenty-eight rubbed something inside of Sirius the wrong way, but there was no doubt that it would be delicious. He looked at the serving platter in uncertainty only for a moment before he began loading his own plate; it was less a matter of conscience and more one of pride, and Sirius Black was still at an age where stomach would win out over ego nearly every time.
"You mean you don't always wield a dagger in the dining room?" he asked Gideon, rather determinedly expansive, the usual loose charm wound tighter than it had habitually been before...everything. Whether the twins knew him well enough to notice the difference was another matter. "For shame. What sort of scion are you?"
"The worst kind," replied Gideon. He glanced over at his brother. "Possibly the second worst, if only to forestall the competitive argument. There's s strict formality on when the knives come out and I have totally forgotten Madame Balarnski's etiquette lessons. That was probably the worst summer class of my life." Gideon served himself, also thanking Nelly for her efforts.
Gideon considered getting straight to the point of the meeting, but he didn't want to spoil the meal, or make their guest feel rushed. He'd ask when he was ready. "Fabian, Uncle J said to be sure to tell you that your novel argument in the brief you submitted last week has Madam Bones' staff in knots. They agree with every detail but hate the conclusion."
Fabian paused in demolishing his own luncheon to look up and beam at Gideon and Sirius. "I like it almost as well when she compliments my theory work by cursing at me as I do when she compliments my enchantments by cursing at me." Turning his attention to Sirius for a moment, he added, "And that, my friend, is why I won't apprentice with you at the Three Broomsticks. I can be more of a pain in the arse to the establishment where I am."
"You'd be surprised," Sirius replied with a smirk. "It comes naturally to some. But I suppose it's not my ability to piss people off that you want me for this time around, yeah? Not that lunch isn't its own excuse."
He deeply doubted that it was for his roast-demolishing appetite that the twins had called this meeting, though, and while it was nice enough, he didn't fancy hanging around much longer than necessary. He liked the Prewett brothers well enough, but the boxes they ticked- 'pureblood heir who'd managed Gryffindor without losing the family' and 'Rabastan's Slytherin bestie'- set him on edge at the best of times, which this was not. And that was without a House Elf lurking around somewhere. Perhaps he ought to have brought Remus or James along to even things out, but the old maxim about hindsight held true.
Still. No reason to drag this, whatever it was, out.
"No, not really," Fabian said, "though I'll take the excuse to have Nelly feed me any day. But let's wait until after we're done, since it's better for the digestion." He raised a finger to his lips to remind Sirius that they did have the house-elf present and shouldn't divulge Order secrets, since Nelly was bound to their parents, not, technically, to Gideon. "It's mostly good news, though. And a question that you might be able to assist with, or answer."
No, really, he knew better than to tell Sirius that he was going to need to break into Grimmauld and steal a horcrux in front of his parents' own house-elf. Nelly was loyal to the twins but there was a limit to how much Fabian was willing to put that to the test.
Fabian was a wise man; Sirius's reaction to that request was bound to be dramatic. Still living in blissful ignorance, however, he shot a quick glance upward before shrugging. "Suit yourself. I'll take seconds, either way."
Gideon carved two more generous slices, and then more for himself and Fabian.
Sirius tucked into the food with a will, then, half out of hunger and half the desire to get to the point. And while Sirius couldn't quite rival Remus for the ability to put back a meal in record time, he was no slouch himself. It wasn't long until, despite the seconds, he was pushing away his plate.
When the meal was done and the table cleared, and Gideon had asked Nelly to pack away the leftovers for Fabian's pantry, he sent the Elf back home. "Anyone want to check for eavesdroppers in the eaves? If not, we should get to business."
Gideon turned to Sirius. "We found a way to find some of the Horcruxes and we found one here in London. At Twelve Grimmauld Place."
Sirius had been leaning back in his chair so that the front legs of it came up and he was balancing rather precariously on the back two, a smug near-teenager pleased to hear in what way he was indispensable this time, when Gideon spoke; at the news, he nearly overbalanced and came crashing down, just managing to catch himself and the chair and getting rather jarred for his trouble.
Any number of emotions crossed his face as he processed it. A Horcrux in Grimmauld could mean only that his little brother had brought it there, and that could in turn mean only that Regulus, wherever he was, was Marked. Sirius had known for years that that had to be the case. He wasn't stupid, or blind, or naive. The Heir to the House of Black could hardly avoid a Dark Mark, not in times like these. But maybe he'd hoped. Regulus had, after all, disappeared, and Sirius hadn't been entirely joking all of those times he'd said he thought his brother had fucked off to America or somewhere equally far from the war. Maybe, in his heart of hearts, he'd really believed that Regulus had run rather than taken the Mark and made it out.
"And what do you want me for?" He asked defensively, trying to cover for himself. He had a feeling that he already knew, of course. And he didn't like it.
Fabian would have handled that a little more gently, but he was used to being younger and more dispensable, ergo more in need of the dulcet tones of persuasion. Still, he stepped in at the expression on Sirius' face and the lad's literal loss of balance to do what he could to smooth it over. "You're our best resource for getting the thing out. We might be able to do it if we can wrangle an invitation, but even if we do, we'll need you to tell us where to look. Where it might be hidden. And if there's a blood line--" not at all unexpected in the House of Black, after all, "--it'll have to be you. I know it's shite, but there it is. Sorry, Sirius."
Gideon carefully didn't notice Sirius' near-fall. Gryffindors with Slytherin brothers weren't that rare, but there had been a time when he worried about Fabian's circle of friends and what they might've dragged him into. Loyalty and worry were probably constants in his relationship with his missing brother. And there was nothing he could say. "I'm sorry as well, I couldn't think of an easy way to tell you. Not only do we need your help, but telling you what, and how little, we know was the right thing to do." Gideon thought about reaching out to the man, but wasn't sure it would be welcome. "Mad-Eye would say 'it's your op' if he were here, but we're not him. How do you want to get the Horcrux?"
Sirius shook his head but it was automatic, instinctive, and already his mischief-loving mind was working. He didn't want to get the Horcrux, didn't want to spend another moment of his life inside or even thinking about Grimmauld fucking Place. But in the end, this wasn't about him, even he could see that, and furthermore there was something darkling attractive about the idea of stealing something important out from under Walburga's nose whether she knew it or not. And he'd done it before, though of course the thing he'd stolen had been himself, an unwanted in any regard. So perhaps this would be more satisfying in the end.
"Give me a minute," he murmured, looking away, trying to think it through. "If there is a line, I may not be able to cross it. Depends on if she's got it hooked into the Tree, or the blood itself. D'you have any idea what the Horcrux actually is, by the way? The item, I mean."
"Salazar Slytherin's locket, if we've done it right," Fabian told him. "We could be wrong. You know all of this is chancy, experimental magic. But it's led us right so far and we know that You Know Who is obsessed with Hogwarts. And it fits for all the other reasons. I really am sorry, Sirius."
"I won't say the timing isn't really fucking poor," Sirius replied, wry. Though that gave rise to another thought, one that had his hand clenching as it reached reflexively for his wand. "Unless- you didn't have any of this from Pe- Pettigrew, did you?" Fabian had said it was their own magic that had led them this far, yes, but Sirius certainly didn't trust the Slytherin, or even his twin, not to leave out a detail if it didn't demand telling. Better to ask the blunt question; better to know if Peter's lies to him had gone quite this deep, leaving out a fact about Grimmauld and thus his brother.
"We didn't even know about Peter until after McGonagall's message. We were stunned and we're really sorry to hear it. We know you all were close. The reason we weren't anywhere to be found was that we were off in Wales, and not really camping." Gideon looked over at his brother, to make sure he was alright with him telling this story. "You remember our mate Caradoc? How he was convinced that the great lost University at Cor Tewdws could be found? Fabian and I came up with a way to find it. Caradoc would've been beside himself, especially since we used a trick he taught us. Anyway, we used the same method to find the location of the other Founder's artefacts. The Headmistress was observing, and she said 'Twelve Grimmauld Place, you'll want to speak to young Mister Black.' 'Too right, Headmistress,' I said to myself, because I didn't want to lose any house points, and that is why we're having lunch and conspiring to burgle your ancestral townhouse."
"The Cup is in Gringotts and the Diadem is somewhere in Hogwarts, but it's being tricksy and hiding in a place that we can't find," Fabian added. "It's almost like the thing is moving somehow."
"Moving how?" Sirius asked with arched brows, eager to take the escape from a problem that couldn't be solved without some personal collateral damage to a puzzle much more his speed. "D'you know anything beyond that it's in the school? Because," he added quickly, lest the Prewetts think he was stalling for no reason, "I might be able to help with that, too. More easily, even."
"Our method is related to dowsing, and we'd get a location on the map, and then before the pendulum settled, we'd get another location on the map, and it wasn't like any of the people we knew were there moved it." Gideon shrugged. "I know there's lots of weird leftover magic there, but I have not a clue how this was happening."
He'd been right insofar as this was a distraction he could pursue to good effect; sighting it, Sirius smiled. "Unplottable," he said, smug. "The castle itself isn't, but there are a few bits of it that are within the larger structure. And based on past testing if you've worked your...finding spells...well enough, they'll know that the thing your after is in the building but won't be able to find them and get a bit confused. The Diadem is in one of those."
At least, that was how the Map had behaved when they'd discovered they couldn't include certain rooms no matter what they did and had tried going inside of one of them to see what it would make of their presence. It had been disconcerting to see the little pair of feet- James's- zoom about through different parts of the castle while the boy himself was standing still on the other side of a door frame in front of them, to say the least.
Fabian's eyebrows rose as Sirius delivered this speech. "Sounds like you've found at least one Unplottable patch. How do we get there?" After his experience finding the innards of Cor Tewdws, Fabian was clearer than ever on the difference between finding something and getting into it.
Gideon glanced from Sirius to his brother. "Good thing we brought you in on this, if you've got a handle on some of Hogwarts secrets. The bad news from the research we've done and others have confirmed, is we have to get all of them to assure he won't pop back up.
"It's hard to say, of course, because the books are all about making the thing, and warning you about the thing getting made, and how to restore a person. Nobody spent a lot of time experimenting with "what if we dip it in chocolate and feed it to a girl guide?" or other similar destructive impulses."
"Of course we've found some," Sirius replied, tossing off that 'we' like it was obvious. Maybe it stuck in his throat a bit thanks to recent events, but it didn't sound like it. "And you get to them very carefully. Easier to show than tell."
He laughed, soft and surprised. "Please, Prewett, tell me about all the candy you're luring little girls to their inevitable doom with."
"Well, Sirius, I'm glad you asked," replies Gideon. "You have to remember that little girls have small mouths, so you want to use little pieces of chocolate…"
Somebody had to play straight man in this comedy routine, and it was clearly Fabian, so he gave Gideon a look that said shut it and overrode his twin with an actually important question. "Does Pettigrew have access to this method, whatever it is? Or to the places that are unplottable inside the school?"
Gideon almost successfully pretended to be offended by his brother's look.
Somehow, Sirius managed not to flinch, all mirth at Gideon's antics chased away effectively by his twin's questions.
"What do you think?" he replied sharply, a prickly question for a prickly question. "Anyone who can get into Hogwarts has access to the Unplottable place I'm thinking of. They just have to know where it is and the trick." And obviously, the Marauders had some idea what the trick was, though Sirius wouldn't have sworn to understanding the exact method to the madness or the spellwork behind it. It was enough that they knew where to find the place and generally what to do to get in.
"That said, I'd lay odds he's not there. Moody chased him out of the country, far as I know. And I don't think he'd have thought to tell his friends, it's not something we had occasion to take advantage of much." They'd had plenty of secret hiding places back at Hogwarts, and once the Map took over their lives an Unplottable area had just felt offensive to their sensibilities.
Gideon nodded. It wasn't as if they weren't going to be on guard going in. And he'd rather find Peter than Bellatrix, if it came to fugitives. "You said it would be easier to show us than to tell us. When can we make a trip up north?"
Sirius shrugged. "You've got more obligations than I do. Name a date and I'll tell you if it works." As long as they avoided the Moon, it would. And if Sirius had managed to turn the conversation entirely from Grimmauld place, well, he was sure the twins were aware of it and would get him there sooner rather than later, but stalling on it made him feel like he had the barest hint of a real choice in the matter.