Sirius Black leaned back in his seat, smiling down at the baby he held in his arms. He could hardly believe the events of the previous 24 hours, and yet, as he rocked baby Harry to sleep, he could not deny the truth any more. James Potter - his best friend for ten years, was dead, along with his wife Lily. Only their infant son Harry Potter had survived - the infant that Sirius now cradled in his arms.
He knew the rest of the wizarding world was celebrating, but he could not find it in his heart to join them. The Wizarding Wireless Network was broadcasting the news far and wide : Lord Voldemort - the most evil Dark Lord in recent history - was dead. His reign of terror that had lasted eleven years was ended by the most unlikely person - Harry Potter, the infant son of his friend. No one knew how or why it had happened, but after Voldemort had killed both James and Lily with barely a second thought, his final curse rebounded from Harry, struck him and... all that was left was his wand and robes, lying on the floor of Harry's room. The magical world, after living so long under the threat of death and torture, was celebrating their freedom.
But as Sirius thought about his friends, tears rolled down his cheeks. In one night he had not only lost his best friend and a woman he considered a sister, but he knew that another of his best friends - a man named Peter Pettigrew - had betrayed him. Betrayed him, James, Lily and the whole of the magical world. James and Lily had gone in to hiding the week before, using a powerful charm to protect them and their child. It would keep their location a secret from everyone, as long as the person who held the secret didn't tell anyone.
At the time picking Peter had seemed like a great idea - no one would suspect little Peter of being the protector of one of the most hunted family in the wizarding world. While Sirius would go around the country, pretending to be hiding from Voldemort, Peter would retire to some out of the way place, and hold the secret until the end of the war.
But when he had heard the news of the fall of Godric's Hollow - when he had found out James and Lily had been murdered - he knew there was only one way it could have happened.
"Damn you Peter" He said to himself "And damn me too"
Albus Dumbledore was also mourning the loss of two of his favourite students. The news of James and Lily's death had hit him hard, but he knew that he had to look after Harry now - the "boy who lived" had an important role to play in the future, and it was important he was raised somewhere safe and out of the limelight.
He turned and saw a small gray cat sat on a garden wall. A moment later the cat transformed in to an elderly witch - Minerva McGonagall - deputy headmistress of Hogwarts School and his friend and confident for nearly thirty years.
"Is it true?"
"Yes Minerva, I am afraid it is"
"James and Lily?"
"What of Harry?"
"He survived, though no one knows how. I have sent Hagrid to bring him here" He indicated the house they were stood opposite - Number 4, Privet Drive.
"But Albus - they are the most appalling muggles. Are you sure he has to come here?"
"His name will be known throughout the magical world - he needs to be raised away from that world, so he can grow up a normal boy"
"I suppose so" She paused for a moment "Are you sure Hagrid...."
"He has my complete confidence Minerva" Dumbledore said "He will protect the boy with his life"
They stood together, in silence, for a moment, then turned as they heard the sound of a motorbike. They watched as it descended, and came to a halt next to them. Riding it was the massive form of Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, but he was alone.
"Hagrid, where is Harry?" Dumbledore asked gently.
Sirius put Harry to bed - he had a cot in his room for the odd time he had looked after Harry while Lily and James had gone out on the town - and realised how much his life was going to change. In a few short hours he had gone from a key player in the war against Voldemort to the most hated person in the world - a traitor who betrayed his best friends to their worst enemy.
And from being a young, single guy with no responsibilities, he was now the surrogate father to the hero of the wizarding world.
And he knew just how close he had been to losing Harry forever.
(flashback - six hours before)
He was out at a pub in Diagon Alley, doing reconnaissance work for The Order. He had been keeping watch over a few of the people they suspected were Voldemort sympathisers, but who had not yet graduated to being Death Eaters. But the night had been uneventful - he had seen one or two people he recognised, but they were just going about their business.
He decided to call it quits, and then went to visit Lily and James. They had been in hiding for a week, and Sirius guessed they could do with seeing a friendly face. He flooed to the The Three Broomsticks, then almost at once to an out of the way pub in Ireland, then he tried to floo to the Potter's house, but the fire had refused to light. He tried again, and got the same results.
Starting to panic, he returned to The Three Broomsticks, and tried a third time, still with the same result. So he flooed back to the first pub he had been in, and then left to pick up his motor-cycle. He knew he should have checked in with The Order, but something told him that time was of the essence.
An hour later he flew over The Potter's house, and his heart dropped in to his boots. The house was a wreck - a fire was burning at the back, and there were massive holes in the roof from spell damage. As he turned the bike back, he had seen Hagrid exiting the ruined house, carrying a small bundle. Suddenly his heart jumped in to his mouth - could Harry be alive?
He landed, and run over to Hagrid.
"He's... he's alive?" He asked.
"Aye, but Merlin only knows 'ow" Hagrid had replied. He twitched the blanket aside and Sirius saw a small scar above Harry's eyebrow.
"Where are you taking him?" Sirius asked.
"Dumbledore gave me instructions. Said I was to take 'im to 'is aunt's"
"His aunt... Lily's sister?" Sirius fumbled around for the name for a moment, then added "Petunia"
"But... Lily hated her sister. And her sister hated her. Why would Dumbledore want to send him there?" Sirius thought for a moment "No - he can't be"
"I should be going - Dumbledore's waitin' for me" Hagrid said.
"Did you ever meet Lily's sister?"
"Don't know that I did"
"She hated Lily because she was a witch. She hates everything to do with magic. And her husband is no better - he hated magic even more than she does" Sirius looked up at the grounds keeper "Let me take him"
"But Dumbledore said"
"Dumbledore doesn't know Petunia Dursley like I do, Hagrid. And besides, James asked me to be Harry's godfather - to look after him if James..." His voice cracked as he thought about James being dead.
"But..." Hagrid started, but Sirius interrupted him.
"If Harry goes to live with Lily's sister, he will be hated there. Do you really want that for him?" Sirius asked. Hagrid paused for a moment, then seemed to reach a decision. He handed Harry over to Sirius, then turned to go back the house.
"I should get James'n'Lily..." He said, but Sirius shook his head.
"Go to Dumbledore like you arranged" He looked around and saw his bike "Take my motorcycle and go" He turned and started to walk away, but Hagrid's voice stopped him.
"Won't you be needing your bike?"
"Better if I don't" Sirius said, glancing around "Too easy to find me. I think I am going to have to disappear for a while - just until things die down" With that, he walked out to the edge of the anti-apparition wards, and, taking a last look at his friends' house, he vanished.
(end of flashback)
He shook his head - if Harry had gone to Petunia and Vernon Dursley, Sirius knew that he would have grown up in misery. He had met Petunia once - at Lily's wedding. The woman had spent the entire time looking at everyone with contempt, and had left as soon as she could. If she had got her claws in to Harry then who knows how he would have turned out.
"Hagrid, where is Harry?" Dumbledore asked gently.
"I gave 'im to Sirius, Professor" Hagrid replied, sounding uncertain.
"Sirius Black?" McGonagall and Dumbledore replied in surprise.
"Turned up just as I was leaving, an' said 'e would look after 'im" His gaze flicked between the two of them "Said it's what James woulda wanted"
Dumbledore looked over at McGonagall, the shock evident in his eyes.
"Did he say where he was going?" McGonagall asked.
"Said 'e was goin' to disappear for a while" Hagrid replied, starting to worry about the questions "I did right, didn't I?"
Dumbledore glanced across at McGonagall again, then nodded.
"You did right Hagrid, it's what James would have wanted" He heard McGonagall sniff "Now - why don't you return to Hogwarts. Professor McGonagall and I will be there shortly"
"Right you are" Hagrid said, then he got on to the motorcycle, and rode off. Dumbledore watched him go, then turned to his long time friend.
"We have to alert the rest of The Order, Minerva. We have to find Harry before Black can do anything to him"
Molly Weasley smiled at her husband Arthur as he held Ginny, their youngest child. He had come home from work early - most of The Ministry was celebrating the downfall of Voldemort - and had spent the afternoon playing with their children. Molly had not known the Potters all that well, and although she felt sorry that they had died, the fact her children could now grow up and to go school in a much safer world.
She was thinking about making tea, when their fireplace flared in to life. A moment later she jumped to her feet as Professor Dumbledore stepped out of the flames and walked over to them.
"Arthur. Molly. I am sorry to intrude at this time, but I need your help" Dumbledore said quickly.
"Why?" Arthur asked.
"You know about The Potters?" He asked.
"A very bad business" Molly said "But how can we help them now?"
"I asked Hagrid to get Harry from the ruins - I thought he should stay with his mother's sister" Dumbledore said softly "But as he was doing it, Sirius Black arrived. And Hagrid gave Harry to him, because Sirius told him it was what James would have wanted"
"But James loved Sirius like a brother" Arthur said "Surely Harry would be better off with his godfather than strangers..." He trailed off as he saw the look in Dumbledore's eyes "Albus"
"It was Sirius that betrayed them Arthur. Sirius was their secret keeper, and he told Voldemort where to find them"
"No!" Arthur gasped in shock.
"And now he has Harry, and Merlin only knows what he will do with him"
"What can we do?" Arthur asked, handing Ginny to a still shocked Molly.
"I am calling The Order together, and we have to try to find Harry as soon as possible" Dumbledore turned to Molly "I am sorry to take your husband away from you on this glorious day, but it is imperative that we find Harry and Sirius, and we will need all the help we can get"
"I will return when I can, Molly" Arthur said, kissing his wife on the cheek, then following Dumbledore to the floo. Molly watched them leave, then looked down at her daughter, still asleep. Suddenly the world did not seem as happy as it had five minutes before.
Sirius leaned back in his chair and watched Harry sleep. He thought about the future - they would have to live in hiding, at least for a while. Harry would not understand why he had to keep their secrets - how do you explain to a three year old child the need to lie about his godfather raising him? And even then he would have to go out to get food, and to keep up with events in the wizarding world. Maybe a disguise?
For a moment he thought about leaving Harry at Hogwarts - he knew he could get in and out without being found - and letting Dumbledore decide Harry's future. But James and Lily had named him Harry's godfather, and he owed it to them to raise Harry the way they would have wanted.
The celebrations that had started early that morning continued throughout the night. All over the country wizards and witches were having their first taste in a very long time of a life free from fear. And all over the country they toasted Harry Potter - The Boy Who Lived, not knowing that in a few short days their celebrations would be muted, and The Boy Who Lived would become known as The Boy Who Vanished.
But Harry, unaware of his role in history, slept peacefully on.