Chapter 1: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
CHAPTER ONE: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
*~* Back in Black *~*
Albus Dumbledore and Lindsey McDonald got back to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix as fast as they could without harming themselves. Lindsey was shaking. Sirius was alive. Yes, he'd never met the man, but he was alive. So many people had been torn up by his death, and he was out there somewhere. Well, out there heading here. Some ironic twist of fate had placed him with a group of people Dumbledore had appealed to for help in their fight against the big V. The slayer. She'd stopped an apocalypse more than once. Some old dark wizard should be easy pickins for her.
They entered number 12 Grimmauld Place in a hurry and went set upon almost immediately by Lindsey's cousin Tonks. Nymphadora Tonks, but she much preferred only her surname. When Lindsey was feeling particularly vindictive, he called her Nymhpie, and Tonks hated it. Which Lindsey loved because she so reminded him of his sisters. Likely because she was one of his second cousins.
But he wouldn't twit her tonight. Not when there was such news to share.
"We got it." Lindsey said. "All the information."
Tonks smiled her first real smile since Lindsey had been introduced to her.
"Nice." He said tugging on her bright orange hair that had been snow cone blue when he left.
"Inside the room. Inside." Dumbledore said. He ushered Tonks and Lindsey into the back drawing room where they always had the meetings for the Order.
Lindsey peered inside. God, it looked like everyone was waiting for them. Arthur and Molly Weasley sat holding hands. Remus Lupin was on Molly's other side looking a bit more drawn than usual. Grizzled old Mad-Eye Moody stood silhouetted by the fire. Kingsley Shaklebolt stood next to him with his arms folded across his chest. Minerva McGonagall and Filius Flitwick were seated on a small sofa. Bill Weasley was straddling a chair next to them. Severus Snape was off in the corner looking most sour. Not everyone was here, but there were enough of them.
"Minerva?" Dumbledore said. "Who's at the school?"
"Poppy can be counted on. The students do not arrive for another two weeks."
Snape snorted. Dumbledore pulled the door closed behind him.
"Albus...." Molly started with a waver in her voice.
"Mr. Angel's people were most cooperative and helpful. We have everything from Wolfram and Hart."
The entire room seemed to sigh in relief.
"But there is an unforeseen complication of sorts."
Everyone stared and waited for him to continue.
"Sirius is not dead."
Tonks's legs failed her. She had a seat right where she'd been standing. Lindsey moved almost instantly to help her up.
Molly started to shake and cry. "What?"
Dumbledore sighed. "He's alive, but he's not exactly our Sirius anymore."
"Explain." Remus said in a very quiet voice that was laced with such raw emotion.
"And so I shall." Dumbledore said.
*~* Searching Out the Drippy Pot *~*
Dawn howled with laughter. Buffy was going to kill them. The four of them were in their room in the inn. She, Kit, Connor, and Sirius. They'd been in London for going on two weeks and had not heard from the wizard-types that Giles had been contacted by for help. The teens were getting antsy... as their current actions were proving. Thank the gods there was a stereo in the little room. Kit had a few CDs, as did Sirius, so they were playing 'obnoxious' music, singing along, and jumping around like idiots. Well, Sirius, Kit, and Dawn were. Connor was switching the light on and off rapidly because he 'did not dance'.
All because Kit said she'd give almost anything to be at a club right now.
Dawn was bored too, and being cooped up with Connor was making her crazy. He was SO CUTE. And nice and funny and sweet. And had nightmares. Man, that guy had some good ones. He'd wake up screaming almost incoherent things. They'd asked him repeatedly to recall them, but much to Connor's frustration, he could never remember what his dreams were about. If only he'd say a real word. Then Dawn could get after it with the research. She listened for him every night, but he never gave her anything she could use. Not yet.
Buffy burst through the door, making it bang against the wall.
"Dammit! What in the hell is wrong with you four?!"
Kit cut off the CD player rather quickly. Connor switched the light to on and left it there.
"Buffy, we're BORED." Sirius said. "At least let us go out somewhere... ANYWHERE."
"Have YOU been staying in?" Dawn asked folding her arms over her chest in typical Dawn fashion. "No. You, Giles, and Xander have been going out every night looking for the Drippy Pot."
"It's the Leaky Cauldron."
"I can't stand being holed up in here like some escaped convict, Buffy!" Sirius hissed.
Dawn looked at her brother oddly when he said that. It made something prickle along her spine. She didn't know why.
"Well, lucky for you lot, we found where we're supposed to be. We're checking out tonight." Giles said as he stepped in behind Buffy.
"Woo hoo!" Sirius jumped a good foot off the floor.
Buffy looked at Giles. "You finally found that Bumblebore guy?"
"It's Dumbledore, Buffy."
A shiver traveled along Sirius's spine when Giles had said Dumbledore. Why?
"And yes. We're to meet him and his people in one hour. Someone will be along to fetch us shortly, so best we get to packing."
*~* No Twelve *~*
Meeting Albus Dumbledore was something that Dawn was going to remember forever. She liked him instantly. He was so... comfortable. She could tell Connor, Kit, and Sirius felt the same way. Sirius more so than anyone. He'd shaken the old wizard's hand as if they were old friends. Dawn swore Dumbledore had sniffed back a tear upon looking at her brother.
He had a man with him by the name of Alastor Moody that gave Dawn the uber wiggins. He was one scary individual. His nose looked like someone had tried to take a bite out of it... and succeeded, and he had this thing on his eye that made it look all wonky. Like a big electric blue eye. It was bizarre... and really unnaturally round for an eye. Kinda cartoon-y.
Fairly quickly they had found themselves on Grimmauld Place, standing where number twelve should have been. Dawn blinked. That was odd. Number eleven and number thirteen were there. Where was twelve?
"Where's twelve?" Dawn asked.
Moody looked at Dumbledore. "That one's sharp."
"It's right there." Sirius said, pointing to the minuscule gap between thirteen and eleven. "Can't you see it?"
Moody exchanged another look with Dumbledore.
Buffy glared at her brother. "Have you been drinking?"
"Really, Sear..." Xander said. "I know I'm all one-eyed Willie and all, but there's no twelve."
"Cut it out."
"Seriously, Sirius." Kit said in a whisper. "There's no twelve."
"I believe I can remedy that." Dumbledore said, handing Giles a slip of parchment. "Do not read it aloud. Just memorize and pass along."
The headquarters to the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
Dawn blinked as she repeated those words over and over in her head. A door appeared between thirteen and eleven and started pushing those aside to reveal a whole house. She gasped and jumped back, knocking into Connor. He grabbed onto her to steady her. His mouth was hanging open. How had a house just inserted itself in there out of nowhere? It was impossible.
Then again so were vampires, but he'd seen definite evidence of that.
Everyone moved slowly up the steps as Dumbledore fumbled in his robes for something.
"Albus?" Moody asked.
"I was certain I had it."
"What?" Buffy asked sticking her little blonde head in between Moody and Dumbledore. "Can't find your key?"
"Are you sure it's locked?" Dawn asked, sticking her arm through on the crowded porch to turn the knob.
The door opened.
But Moody was ushering them all inside very quickly. He slammed the door shut behind them and checked the peephole in a paranoid manner.
Dawn exchanged a look with Connor and Kit. She turned to her brother only to notice him looking at the house with a very odd look on his face.
"When did we put a keyhole in that door anyhow?" Moody asked. Then he spun around on Dawn. "What are you, girl?"
Everyone bristled instantly.
"You just back down off my sister!" Sirius snarled. He pulled Dawn to his side protectively. He didn't like the man's tone or his phrasing of the question.
Moody whipped out his wand.
"Alastor!" Dumbledore said.
Several people had filed out into the hall to see what all the fuss was about.
"You don't look human to my eye, girl. You're all greenish and swirl-y. What are you?"
Sirius tightened his arms around her protectively. "Point your stick elsewhere!"
"Yes." Buffy said in the deadly tone she had when she was boiling just below the surface. "You don't want me to get cranky up in here. It'd be all rawhead and bloody bones."
"You?" Someone scoffed from the crowd behind them.
"We can take you all." Her tone booked for no doubt.
Someone else snorted.
"Look, me and mine just defeated the first evil. We've fought a God and won. Yeah ok, I died, but my friends brought me back. That's why you asked us here. We're quite good at the mass destruction of big roofy evil. A handful of witches and wizards isn't a threat to me." She leveled her gaze at Moody. "Now lower that twig away from my brother and sister before I show you what a slayer is."
"You're a vampire slayer?" Someone asked. He moved forward slowly.
Sirius stared at the guy. There was something very familiar about his worn robes, his graying hair, and his sad eyes. The guy twitched when his eyes landed on Sirius. Moody lowered his wand as he watched the older man and the boy.
"Perhaps we should adjourn to the meeting room and all will be revealed?" Dumbledore said quietly.
Sirius nodded, as did Buffy. He kept one arm around Dawn as Connor took his sister's other side. Kit moved in next to him, and Sirius took her hand.
They were quickly introduced to the room. Dawn was uncomfortable with the way everyone kept staring at her and Sirius. He tightened his hold on her. Little did she know, it was Sirius causing their unease, not her.
"What's that?" A long haired redhead they'd just learned went by the name of Bill Weasley asked, pointing at Sirius's arm.
"My tattoo." He lifted his sleeve, revealing a blue star that covered most of his biceps. It stretched over his arm in bright blue with a furry black dog curled inside of it with blue eyes and sharp teeth that seemed to be arranged in some sort of mischievous grin.
The younger woman with the orange hair called Tonks gasped and covered her mouth. Molly Weasley started weeping for some odd reason. Remus Lupin shut his eyes as if he were in terrible pain. Everyone was looking solemn, like someone had just kicked their puppies. Except the guy named Snape. He was looking like he'd like to beat the crap out of Sirius. There was even a muscle in his jaw ticking.
"What made you decide on that?" Remus Lupin asked quietly.
"Dog star, get it? You know... like my name. Mom was going through her astronomy phase when she named me... her inspirational phase when she named Dawnie. We still haven't figured out what phase she was going through when she named Buff."
"Hey!" Buffy said, slapping his arm.
"Ouch!" Sirius said rubbing the red welt that was already cropping up. "Geez, super strength, watch that shit. I bruise."
"Watch your mouth." Buffy hissed.
"Buffy, look what you did." Dawn said looking at Sirius's arm.
Buffy paled a bit looking at the nasty red mark that was just getting redder by the minute. "Ah, Sear, I'm sorry. I... I don't know my own strength. You know I don't know my own strength." She leaned forward and placed a soft mother-like kiss on his 'boo boo'.
Sirius grinned and took the opportunity to ruffle her blonde hair.
"Hey!" Buffy said moving her hands to her head. "Not the hair, buster! Never the hair."
Sirius laughed outright and grabbed for Buffy's head again. She gracefully avoided his reach with a laugh of her own. Dawn gave Sirius a mighty shove in the butt with her boot. He stumbled over his own feet and smacked into Buffy. She caught him and tried to stay upright. The two of them toppled onto a thankfully empty chair. Buffy got them to their feet quickly. They both turned and gave Dawn a look that said she was so about to get it. Dawn squealed and made to run, but Sirius grabbed her about the waist, pinning her arms to her sides and lifted her. Dawn yelled out.
"I think this warrants tickling. How about you, Buff?"
Buffy wiggled her fingers at Dawn. "Definitely tickling."
"Noooo!" Dawn started wiggling like mad and kicking her legs.
"Do you three mind horribly?" Giles asked in a very dry tone. "We are here for a purpose other than making Dawn screech 'you'll make me pee my pants' - as entertaining as that can be at times."
It was then that they noticed that everyone was staring at the three of them. Giles, Kit, and Connor were all grinning. They were used to this by now. The Summers siblings acted like goof balls sometimes. It was a Summers thing.
Sirius placed Dawn back on her feet. "Sorry."
"We're really sorry." Dawn said as she smoothed her shirt back in place.
Buffy sighed. "We just get... caught up in being normal kids sometimes."
"Speak for yourself, Slutty the vampire layer."
The backhanded slap caught Sirius unawares. He stumbled a bit with it. Connor managed to catch him before he fell. Someone yelped in surprise.
Buffy's eyes were already filled with tears. "You don't talk about that."
"Buffy, damn, I was just joking. It was just something Spike used to... I didn't..." It suddenly occurred to him that he'd inadvertently brought up Spike. He had so not meant to. "Oh shit, Buff, I'm sorry. Really. I forgot for a second. I didn't mean to hurt you... or insult his memory. I swear. I spoke without thinking. Shit."
"Watch your mouth."
"You just said shit. Twice." She sniffed dabbing at the little trickle of blood on the corner of his mouth with her sleeve in a very mothering fashion. "I'm sorry."
"Me too, sis."
Dawn was watching everyone watch them. "We're Summers. We tend to hit first and ask questions later. We smack each other around and then cry and hug about it."
"Sorry." Buffy said wiping her eyes. "A bit of family drama. No real harm done."
Sirius nodded and adjusted his jaw. "No real harm done."
"So... what's deal with this Voltron guy? He the big bad in these parts? Let me at him."
Most of the Order of the Phoenix was just staring in shock.
It was quite throwing them that THIS was Sirius. He looked just like he had at eighteen. He looked... happy. It was so startling because this was not the shell of a human that had been holed up in this house some months ago. He didn't look like he was suffering at all, didn't looked cursed a bit.
And none of them knew how to proceed.
Dumbledore had told them he was unaware of what his life had been. Maybe he didn't need to be aware of it.
"Could I..." Tonks said shakily.
Sirius was quite surprised when she threw herself into his arms and hugged him just as tight as Dawn or Buffy might have.
"Welcome ho... er, here."
Then the petite Auror had to cover by hugging everyone else... much to Xander's delight.
Giles was watching them all with suspicion. Dumbledore knew he suspected something was out of sorts by their behavior. They had all assured Dumbledore they could handle it, but seeing Sirius like this, like he had been restored to his former self... before James and Lily... before Azkaban... before everything that had befallen him, so happy, so... loved and cared for, they were starting to crumble. Dumbledore himself wasn't sure if he wouldn't break at some point.
And just how would Harry react?
end part one