Chapter 3: The Face in the Mirror
The First to Walk the Blades is well acquainted with them.
Their sharp edges have been a constant companion for most of his life.
The one he must prepare feels himself invincible, untouchable in the fortress of solitude and self-pity he has built.
Before the test is over he will realize just how wrong he is.
Standing inside the foyer of Number 12 Grimauld Place, Remus felt the perpetual gloom and sadness of the house envelope him. It really was an awful place even if the enchantments upon the house made it the perfect headquarters for the current incarnation of the Order of the Phoenix. No wonder Sirius had left as quickly as he could. The place was terrible enough nearly empty with cobwebs and more than little mad house elf, Remus didn’t want to imagine what it must have been like to grow up here with absolutely fanatical pureblood parents. As quietly as he could he stole down to the kitchen without bothering to look anywhere else first. Sure enough, Sirius set at the scrubbed wooden table drinking, the shadowy outlines of at least three empty bottles on the floor at his feet.Suddenly angry, Remus strode into the room, picked up the Firewhiskey bottle and dumped its contents unceremoniously into the sink. He was pleased to find the bottle more than half full.
Always able to hold his liquor rather well Sirius did not sound like he had finished three bottles of whiskey in as many hours, “What did you do that for?”Remus sat down on the bench next to his friend before answering, “you’re no use to the Order drunk.” The laugh Sirius gave was a harsh self-deprecating bark. “Apart from giving Dumbledore the loan of this place I’m apparently no use to the Order sober either.” Dumbledore himself chose that moment to appear in the kitchen holding in one hand an ordinary looking dog collar with a brass nameplate. Both men startled and Sirius lookes abashed at having Dumbledore see him well on his way to a good hangover. “Sober you must be from now on if you are going to perform the task I need you to take up. There is a disabled Muggle born student starting this term at Hogwarts. As you know the Ministry has forced me to appoint Dolores Umbridge the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher this year .This is quite possibly the worst time to admit a Muggle born student with her difficulties but the Book has spoken and I will not be the first Headmaster in the history of Hogwarts to gainsay it.” Remus saw Sirius’s lip curl at the mention of Umbridge and felt a rush of gratitude knowing that his reaction was largely due to the anti-werewolf legislation she had recently pushed through at the Ministry which among other things had made it nearly impossible for him to get a job before Dumbledore had approached him about returning to Hogwarts to teach a second time.
Sirius picked up the collar as Dumbledore continued speaking. “The girl is in a wheelchair and will need help navigating the castle,” he smiled as he watched Sirius examine the collar dubiously out of the corner of his eye. “Muggles train dogs to help people with disabilities all the time, I ask you to return to the school as her four-legged companion. I predict Delores will be particularly harsh with her because of her difficulties. She will need staunch allies and defenders. I hope she will find some on her own but I think if we provide her with one from the outset she may find others more easily.” Sirius had just noticed the inscription on the nameplate, “Midas? Why Midas?”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkle merrily for the first time since he had appeared in the kitchen. “Shift form so Remus can put the collar on you and find out.” Dumbledore conjured up a full-length mirror when Padfoot appeared and Remus buckled the collar around his neck, hiding a smile. Sirius actually jumped back in surprise. Staring back at him from the mirror was not the bearlike black dog whose form he usually took. A burly Golden Retriever looked back at him instead. Even if the Death Eaters were aware of his other form no one would suspect him to look like this. For the first time in a long time the kitchen was filled with happy laughter.
Author’s Note: The picture above is my Golden Gideon in his wheelchair pulling harness which is more or less what Sirius will wear as Midas while helping Pheya with an added Hogwarts flourish to be revealed soon.