In her previous career many years before, Olivia Davis of the New York State Magical Police Department had been quite the up-and-comer, proving herself to be a damned fine cop in the opinion of both this witch’s bosses and co-workers. Then, a nasty hostage crisis had ended with her being awarded in tandem the most distinguished commendation the force could bestow for actions above and beyond the call of duty, and also Detective Davis’ retirement papers due to a serious medical disability which now prevented this woman from continuing to serve in her chosen profession.
Making the best of things, Ms. Davis then went back to school and trained to be a medi-witch, specializing in pediatrics. Graduating with the highest honors, she was accepted with open arms by the Gotham Wizarding Children’s Protective Services, for whom Supervisor Davis was soon the first one called in on the most difficult youthful abuse and trauma cases. Many more official accolades came along in the ensuing decades, but for a grandmotherly lady in official brown robes, her proudest mementos were the numerous letters and other lined sheets of school paper attached to her mundane refrigerator which expressed many times in childish scrawls and drawings the simple words: THANK YOU.
It all meant that Sirius Black’s supreme fury about being unable to leave with Harry Potter was in turn met with a calm, businesslike demeanor and a witch’s wand held ready for any split-second decision to blast that enraged guy through the nearest wall, if needful.
Just when an Englishman maddened beyond reason was about to do something really stupid, he then heard in a most formal tone from the mature woman somehow holding herself in the same primed-for-action posture as a veteran Auror, “Sir, this child was possessed by a Class Five litch. I’ve managed to remove and destroy that foul thing, but he needs to stay here under observation at the proper facilities for at least several days in order to make sure it’s completely gone. Most important of all, I’m going to see he gets the best possible care during all this.”
Still mainly keeping her focused gaze upon Sirius, along with a wand pointed not quite between his own glaring eyes, Supervisor Davis nodded to one side to indicate at where little Harry wearing only his briefs was peacefully asleep on the examining table.
Within a single moment, Sirius went through various inner reactions, from his original ire to utter shock and delight which then shifted into total, deadly stillness. With all her experience in dealing with some of the most brutal and cruel wizards and witches possible who’d inflicted untold agonies upon helpless innocents, Davis didn’t miss this last alteration into such a dangerous stance. She herself went smoothly into the combat zone with equal speed, prepared for any spell, hex, or curse which might come her way.
Still, the child protection supervisor wasn’t expecting the intent questions from the other side of the room, “You cured
Harry? Is he all right?”
Despite the evident concern she was hearing in the man’s voice, Davis didn’t let down her guard a fraction even while coolly replying, “He seems to be fine for now, resting comfortably. But as I just said, a further and much more thorough medical examination will be necessary for him. We’ll also need any information you may have about the whole thing, such as how it happened.”
The long pause then made by Lord Black didn’t ease in any way the medi-witch’s sudden suspicions that something here was decidedly irregular. At the same time, Sirius himself was thinking too furiously (in both senses of that used adverb of energetic and wrathful considerations) to properly reply to the increasingly-wary woman across the room. Regardless of how it’d occurred, the remnant of a certain dark wizard’s tainted spirit was apparently…gone from Padfoot’s pup.
Harry Potter was no longer possessed by Lord Voldemort.
True, Sirius had conferred with his family weeks earlier on how to do exactly that once the proper opportunity came to pass. He’d shared with the other Blacks everything the visitor from another time knew about Harry’s survival of an Avadra Kedrava killing curse inflicted upon this toddler by a murderous villain in the wreckage of the Potter home at Godric’s Hollow. Right after this, that same deadly spell had rebounded from a little boy back to its caster, to then incredibly destroy the Dark Lord.
That result of such an astonishing magical effect didn’t end with the complete demise of this leader of the Death Eaters, though. Even with his body blasted into nothingness, Voldemort’s essence still survived and would eventually reclaim a new form. Sirius once again recounted in greater detail to fascinated listeners consisting of his grandfathers, aunts, and cousins of his godson’s encounter and triumph over Professor Quirrel, that unfortunate turban-wearing Hogwarts teacher possessed by a wandering shade in far-off Albania who was then driven by Voldemort’s irresistible commands to return to England.
Regrettably, the immediate suggestion by Pollux Black that they track down Quirrel and deal right away with his invasive spirit produced an apologetic explanation from Sirius that first of all, this same Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher wouldn’t be overcome by Voldemort until at least several years later on in the future. Secondly, their clan leader wasn’t quite sure either of just where it’d happened or more correctly, would happen. However it might be put, Sirius had no first-hand experience of those events since he’d still been imprisoned in Azkaban around then.
Neither had Harry ever been totally forthcoming about his first encounter with a disguised Voldemort at Hogwarts whenever he and Sirius managed a rare chance to talk together in between their hectic lives. The Black godfather hadn’t pressed the issue then, sensing that his Harry-pup was still affected by the long-ago ordeal which had forced an eleven-year-old boy to end the life of an innocent man helplessly caught up in a monster’s evil plans. It also didn’t help that Harry eventually found out about his own direct connection with the murderer of his parents via a famous lightning-bolt shaped curse scar inflicted upon the only known survivor of the celebrated incident at Godric’s Hollow.
Ignoring the distrustful stare being sent his way by Ms. Davis, Sirius’s own grim expression darkened further at the unacceptable thoughts passing through his mind. In all the chaos of the last few years of his existence in the other world, as he’d come to regard his former life there, Sirius had then simply never taken the time to think about how idiotic it’d seemed now that nobody around had apparently bothered to give Harry a straightforward physical examination by any wizarding healer. Despite, as had been mentioned several times to an outraged Black heir, how scruffy his godson looked then during Harry’s first few months at Hogwarts: undersized, much too thin for his own good, and needing to wear cheap, ill-fitting muggle glasses.
The latter alone should’ve been taken care of at once with a single flick of her wand by Poppy Pomfrey, the matron-in-charge of the Hogwarts hospital wing, to cure Harry’s vision either permanently or in the short term for then. Even if it needed to be done again whenever necessary over the next several years until the patient’s eyes finally stabilized when this nearsighted wizard or witch attained their full adult growth (usually during their seventh year at Hogwarts), it wasn’t all that hard to accomplish in the first place, so why hadn’t Poppy done this?
Sirius had come to the reluctant conclusion that there’d been yet even more deceitful meddling in Harry’s early life by those his godson should’ve been able to trust. Making it worse was Sirius’ fond memories of Poppy during his own Hogwarts stay. These matched what Harry had told his godfather about one of the few grown-ups at the castle who’d always been kind to the Boy-Who-Lived, notwithstanding the occasional sardonic comment about how much work a constantly-injured Potter lad was causing for the school nurse.
All the same, there were just too many doubtful issues regarding Madame Pomfrey for Sirius to remain confident that she wasn’t somehow implicated in Dumbledore’s schemes at whatever level of involvement accorded for the woman. Right from the beginning, this nurse should’ve brought to the attention of the proper authorities (besides
a certain long-whiskered old goat) the clear signs of physical abuse evident on the body of a child from the muggle world. That was actually part of her sworn duties as Hogwarts’ main health expert! In spite of this little bit of news which ought to have quickly led to changes in Harry’s current existence into something much better for him, it never happened. Over the years after every Hogwarts end of term, James and Lily’s son always got sent back to the same place where he’d already suffered beatings and malnutrition, only to have those transgressions start all over again. This, in turn, should’ve been totally obvious to Pomfrey during the next time Harry landed in her infirmary to recover from the usual damages due to another life-threatening adventure during the following school year.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there were the same regular visits as mentioned above when Harry needed to be patched up so often by Pomfrey that she kept one hospital bed set aside solely for him, in expectation that it wouldn’t be long before Mr. Potter would be dropping by at her Hogwarts location. Therefore, how was it possible that during all this wand-waving and potion-treatment, the nurse never noticed something so extraordinary as an actual chunk of You-Know-Who’s soul attached to the recovering young man fast asleep in her infirmary?
Supervisor Davis was right at the point of asking some very hard questions of the distracted man before her, until this was interrupted by that same person carefully asking of the witch, “Ma’am, could just about any other healer have done what you did, curing Harry?”
“What?” Davis frowned at this unexpected question. She then looked more keenly at where someone was evidently feeling this to be of definite importance, before answering him in an emphatic tone, “No, absolutely not! It takes years of training and experience to perform it without risking further injury to the patient. For any unqualified healer, the best thing for them to do is to turn over the problem right away to the closest experts. The more quickly the procedure’s done by those familiar with this kind of dark magic, the better.”
Sirius still tenaciously persisted, “But would somebody who might’ve never come across it before, would they even recognize the danger? Could they just ignore it, or I don’t know, think it’s not so bad?”
The medi-witch promptly sent towards Sirius an appalled expression holding severe doubts regarding his sanity. “This is basic treatment taught to every first-year health student here! Any preliminary scan by a medical professional with their wands would find the litch with no trouble at all! Additional scans would next identify how dangerous it is, and then if they had the slightest bit of sense, the case would be instantly transferred to the nearest hospital where specialists would remove that horrible thing!”
Managing to disregard how thunderous the older woman’s face now appeared, Sirius seized upon a certain word he’d just heard. “You said, here, in this place, right? What if it happened in England?”
For the first time in their conversation, Davis now seemed to be a trifle unsure. She nevertheless replied, “I’ve no idea, not without knowing the specifics of the case. The doctors and nurses from there that I’ve met and talked to during their visits and lectures, the exact subject hasn’t ever come up that I remember. In any case, even if those other medi-witches and wizards completely dropped the ball, this child still needs to be thoroughly examined while in a safe environment until he’s cleared to be in good health.”
That was Sirius’ cue. Waving an impatient hand at where Harry was still lying fast asleep on the table, this English lord argued, “That’s exactly what I’m going to do! Trust me, the very best medical care possible is waiting for my godson back home!” Seeing how that didn’t alter Ms. Davis’ set expression, Sirius continued while removing from his suit pocket the legal documents recently signed by Petunia Dursley and brandishing them at the unimpressed social worker, “Look at these! I’ve just regained full custody of Harry, and all I want to do is to leave with him! If you think that a single bureaucrat is going to stop me now, you’ve got another think coming--”
Supervisor Davis calmly overrode Sirius’ beginning rant, “It doesn’t matter, sir. In New York when necessary, the attending physician can declare a medical emergency affecting the magical community which supersedes any
legal authority claimed by the parent or guardian. Your…godson was possessed by one of the most malignant spirits I’ve ever encountered, and he carried it here into this country where it could’ve escaped into the general mundane and magical population. If I want to or think it needs to be done, I can quarantine the entire building we’re in and as well as every person this child encountered during his trip. That includes you too, Lord Black.”
The only reason why Sirius didn’t promptly explode again with incredible rage at Ms. Davis was because in the privacy of his mind he was also methodically cursing himself out for retaining the services of such a skilled and caring woman. She’d overwhelmingly shown both exceptional virtues by how effortlessly Harry had been cured of Voldemort’s spirit and then this medi-witch going on to unwaveringly insist on the best possible care for her new patient. Sirius had to admire her to the depths of his soul while also wishing Supervisor Davis wasn’t so bloody devoted--Wait
a second! That was her weakness! She was obsessed with nothing less than taking the greatest of pains when properly caring for children…
The abrupt glint showing itself in the handsome scoundrel’s eyes fixed at her made Davis feel suddenly wary. Apparently, the guy had just either come to some sort of decision or he was going to try a new strategy. Sure enough, this was delivered in a steady tone from an English nobleman.
“Let’s ask Harry what he wants.”
“Huh?” was immediately blurted out by the blindsided social worker. Supervisor Davis then managed to recover a bit of her self-assurance by retorting, “He’s too young for that! A two-year-old boy doesn’t know what’s best for him--!”
“And waking up in a hospital full of strangers is?” Sirius lifted an unbelieving eyebrow after saying this, before adding to a discomfited woman, “If you really want to help Harry, let his family take care of him! I told you, money’s no object for us! If that doesn’t work, we -- the Blacks -- have influence or can call in favors from anyone, anywhere, any time! Hell, if you’re so concerned, then come along with me, back to England! I’ll pay you ten times what you’re making now, a hundred, whatever you want! If your superiors complain, don’t worry, they’ll be quieted down into accepting this. All that matters is Harry here, and you can oversee his care by whoever you call in or do it yourself. Just, please, ask him!”
That last heartfelt plea almost convinced Davis. She yet wavered, to inquire doubtfully, “How is this child going off with you any different from staying here with people he doesn’t know?”
Sirius let out a loud half-laugh, half-snort of suppressed mirth. He wryly informed Ms. Davis, “I was the third person at Lily’s bed in St. Mungo’s to hold Harry after his delivery! I’ve got blackmail material against the little sod for when he grows up about what I held my nose over while changing his nappies! The proudest moment of my whole life was the day James cast the spell to make me the godfather of Harry Potter. Believe me, he’ll be perfectly fine with me and my family: Grandpas Pollux and Arcturus, the pair of old dragon aunties who’ll burn to ashes anyone that tries to harm Cassiopeia and Lucretia Black’s great-nephew, how Miss Tonks will look like when Harry calls her Nymphadora for the first time, and all the rest of them.”
“Well…” After a few more moments of contemplation while Sirius anxiously waited, Supervisor Davis let out a somewhat accepting sigh. She then sent a cool stare at where the man standing there across the room was almost trembling in his eagerness, before cautioning him, “This isn’t my final decision, but we’ll see how it goes. Stay where you are for now, all right?”
Nodding so hard he almost had his head fall off his neck, Sirius next saw how the older woman waved her wand while muttering under her breath to magically put Harry’s clothes back on his bare body and to bring him from his current state of peaceful slumber. Supervisor Davis then reached out with her other hand to gently stroke the little boy’s forehead which was now smooth and unmarked instead of having an angry red lightning-bolt scar. This was accompanied by a kind voice coming from this lady, “Harry, wake up. Someone’s here to visit you.”
Actually holding his breath, Sirius witnessed how Harry’s eyes flickered open into awareness. The Black scion instantly recognized the famous green color in these orbs, which weren’t yet directed at him. Instead, Harry looked upwards at the silvery-haired witch smiling down at him, who then helped this child to sit up, tiny legs dangling over the edge of the table. Harry peered a bit nervously at the tiled floor much too far below in his opinion, and then for the first time since coming awake, the boy glanced over at the other person in the room.
For the next few instants, Sirius Black and Harry Potter held each other’s gazes…and nothing else happened. This frozen study between the pair was eventually ended by Ms. Davis’s quiet tone asking, “Harry, do you know this man?”
Beginning to open his mouth, a puzzled Sirius clamped his lips tightly shut at the social worker’s firm headshake seen out of the corner of his eye. Most of the rest of Sirius’ attention was still concentrated at where Harry was blankly staring at him with no sign of recognition appearing on the child’s face. A second later, Harry performed an action of his own, which caused even more growing alarm to Sirius. The little boy brought up his right hand to his mouth, and while still staring with evident incomprehension, Harry began to suck on his thumb.
Now almost frantic with inner worry that things weren’t going the way he’d expected, Sirius unconsciously leaned forward, about to step closer to Harry. In response, that toddler flinched a fraction away from Sirius, who halted dead in his tracks at how Harry had just reacted to what that boy obviously thought was a complete stranger coming nearer.
His entire world crashing down among his ears, Sirius jerkily turned his head at where Ms. Davis was eyeing him once more in justified suspicion. Soundlessly gaping at this woman, Sirius madly tried to think of something, anything to assure her that he’d been telling the absolute truth--
As if his voice was under the control of entirely another individual, a very humble question came drifting from past Sirius’ teeth. “Madame Davis, can you keep a secret?”
A most mistrustful statement was delivered in turn by the acknowledging social worker in her best clipped tone, “I’m not your personal physician, mister, so doctor-patient confidentiality doesn’t work here. Plus, you better really believe there’s no way in my capacity as a member of Child Protection Services that I’ll overlook anything which should be passed on to the proper authorities--”
“No, no!” Sirius hastily broke in. Pausing a moment to put his thoughts in proper order, he tried, “I just don’t want word of this to spread around too much, that’s all.” A now-doleful Sirius regarded how the medi-witch’s wand was again pointing directly at him before giving a truly defeated moan under his breath. “Look, could you wait just one
second to see it for yourself before hexing me?”
Without another word to Ms. Davis, but still putting a pre-emptive pained wince on his face, Sirius Black then changed from a human wizarding male wearing an expensive Savile Row bespoke suit into an enormous, black-furred dog standing on all four legs in the room.
It was close. It was very, very close, but a witch still possessing superb reflexes managed to not fire off her best disabling bone-breaker curse at that transforming Animagus. The shriek of pure joy coming from where Harry had just hurtled himself off the table also sufficiently distracted Ms. Davis.
Darting forward without a second thought, Sirius crumpled to the floor under a plunging Harry’s weight landing right on his shoulders. This ended with the dog giving himself a nasty crack on his lower muzzle when this whiskered part of the collapsing Grim hit the hard tiles next to the table. Not that Sirius sprawled out on the floor cared about this at all, what with an unhurt Harry squirming onto and climbing along and tugging and patting and rolling over and caressing his “Pawf! Pawf! Pawf! Pawf! Pawf!”
It was now time for Supervisor Davis to stare in astonishment at how a boy chanting away at the top of his healthy lungs was then forced into stifled giggles by how a magical beast with jaws bigger than Harry’s entire head enthusiastically licked with vast sweeps of a drooling tongue the child’s whole face. This soon ended with a happy Padfoot lying on one side while Harry gummed at a dangling ear, occasionally spitting out a stray doggy hair.
Unable to take her gaze away, Ms. Davis then watched how Harry next let go of the Grim’s ear and scrambled up onto his small feet. Staggering around to the front of the dog who’d himself returned to an alerted, prone position on the floor, Harry then put his hands against the sides of Padfoot’s upper muzzle. Staring directly into the Grim’s eyes from where they were nose to nose, Harry said with real hope in his childish voice, “Mumma? Dadda?”
Sirius felt his heart break all over again. This was something he really should’ve thought of before, but hadn’t. Probably because it was too painful to think about, but he still had to deal with it right this minute. Harry obviously assumed that since Pawf was here, his parents were also about to show up and the whole nightmare of what this little boy barely remembered taking place at Godric’s Hollow had been nothing but a bad dream.
So, how was Sirius possibly going to explain otherwise to Harry? The answer was…he couldn’t. Instead, Padfoot let his instincts take over. Lowering his head out of the boy’s touch, the Grim slumped down on the floor, letting out anguished whimpers all the way. This left a baffled Harry standing there and watching Pawf act like this. The noise of Pawf’s sorrow continued, even when Harry stepped closer to grab with both hands the dog’s ears and yank them with thoughtless cruelty, all while demanding again, “Mumma! Dadda!”
Sirius let this continue, despite how Harry was becoming more and more desperate. Along with now shouting the names of his mother and father, Harry was almost ripping Padfoot’s ears off at every tug, causing enough pain to make the dog start weeping. The Black heir bore this suffering, knowing he deserved every bit of it due to all his deeply-regretted mistakes of years before.
After one more time of this, Padfoot’s instincts told him enough was enough. In one swift rush, the dog clambered up on his forelimbs, breaking Harry’s grip on him and leaving the sobbing child standing before the Grim. Sitting on his haunches, Sirius lifted his head and bayed all the grief he’d ever felt about a past existence in another life to the ceiling. The sound of the ultimate mourning of a man transformed into an animal filled the small room.
In due course, Padfoot fell silent. He brought his head back down, which resulted in Harry flinging both arms around the thick neck of this child’s last link to his parents and pressing a teary face to where the dog now curled protectively around where Harry had slumped against Padfoot. It took a while, but Harry finally cried himself into an exhausted sleep.
Once he was sure Harry wouldn’t wake up soon, Sirius made the internal shift with his magic which restored him to his human form. Standing there with Harry cradled in his arms and leaning into the man‘s chest under his chin, Sirius buried his nose against his godson’s damp cheek, breathing in the smell of his regained pup. A flicker of motion then caught Sirius’ eye.
Olivia Davis finished wiping away her own tears with a handkerchief she’d taken from a robe pocket. Putting away this refolded square of cloth, this woman fearlessly returned the deadly gaze of a wizard holding with supreme tenderness the slumbering child in his arms, of which he’d far rather die than ever give up.
Clearing her throat, Supervisor Davis said almost to herself, “Over the last couple years, I’ve accumulated several weeks of vacation time, and there won’t be any problems if I want to take it all at once, right now. Lord Black, do you think that’ll be long enough to explain just what’s going on while I’m in England with you and Harry?”
A ghost of a smile managed to show itself on a weary man’s haggard features. Straightening up, Sirius nodded in thanks to Ms. Davis before replying, “Oh, just about, I’d say. It is a rather complicated story. But when we get to Black Manor, things will become much more clearer, I assure you.”
Looking down into Harry’s undisturbed face as the Boy-Who-Lived continued in his trusting doze, Sirius whispered to him, “First, let’s give your aunt here a chance to say goodbye for now, pup. When you wake up, though, the rest of your family will be around to greet you, and we’ll be…home.