Sirius couldn't detect the scent of any recent inhabitation in the house. The owner, he knew, was currently in St Mungo's and the rest of the man's family was now dead.
Sirius padded up the path towards the front door and pawed at it. It was locked. The house was in a reasonably busy neighbourhood and Sirius didn't want to be seen. Deciding to make his entrance through the back door, he moved stealthily around towards the rear of the house. Upon reaching the back garden he transformed and in a single quick movement he unlocked the back door and slipped inside the house.
The house was large and elaborately furnished, but there was a coating of dust over nearly every surface in the place. The kitchen, living room and one bedroom looked as if they had been unused for many months. The rest of the house looked like it had been unused for far longer.
Sirius' search of the house revealed nothing. However, just to make sure, he transformed back into Padfoot. As a dog he was able to pick up things, such as scent, that he could easily miss as a human. He sniffed around the house and, in the living room, he found something, a trace of a scent that shouldn't be there. It vanished in the centre of the room, as if it simply disappeared into the floor.
Sirius quickly transformed back, cut a neat slice in the carpet at the point the scent vanished and peeled it back to reveal a trap door.
Sirius began to tremble in excitement. This could be it! Please let this be it! He then, with trembling hands, opened the trap door and carefully descended.
Once he reached the bottom, he slumped in disappointment. This wasn't it. Adam wasn't here. He was standing in a small brick room, it was moderately furnished, but it was unmistakably a prison of sorts. Sirius wondered why Barty Crouch had such a room in his house. However, that wasn't important because Adam wasn't here.
Sirius left the house, repairing the damage he had caused to the carpet on his way out, so as to leave no sign that he had been there.
He made his way slowly back to Grimmauld Place, once again feeling wracked with guilt over what had happened to Adam. It was all his fault. True, the boy had encouraged him and had been the driving force behind the plan, but Sirius had gone along with it. He was supposed to be the adult, for Merlin's sake! What had he been thinking, following the orders of a fifteen-year-old boy? Albus had given him hell for it and rightly so. It was because Sirius had gone along with Adam's plan that everything had gone to hell.
For all he knew Adam could be dead. No! Sirius wouldn't think that. He was alive and they would find him. Soon…
Ginny June 22nd 1996
Ginny pulled her trunk behind her as she walked up a very familiar street. She knew this street from somewhere. As they turned the corner Ginny saw a street sign.
Someone she knew lived here! She and Adam had been here to visit him! Sirius! But she didn't know where Sirius lived.
Ginny groaned and tried not to keep thinking about it. It made her head hurt.
"Does anyone know why we're here?" Ron asked sullenly. He hadn't been impressed when Mum told him they weren't going back to The Burrow for a while.
"Quiet, Ron," her mother snapped. "I'll explain everything once we're inside."
"I don't see why we have to stay here," George replied grumpily. "We're of age."
"George! Do you have your own house?" Mum asked. When George didn't answer she continued, "I didn't think so, and you're certainly not living in The Burrow without me there!"
After a short walk they stopped and Ginny watched her mother rummaging in her pockets. Eventually she withdrew a sheet of paper and passed it around the other Weasleys.
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at Number 12 Grimmauld Place.
She was at Sirius' house! Why had she forgotten that? She glanced over at her mother and saw her quickly burning the slip of paper. The paper! The piece of paper she had been shown when she came here with Adam sometime last year, had been different. Maybe that had something to do with it?
Before Ginny had time to consider the question, she was hustled into the house by her mum.
"Don't go too far inside! And don't touch anything!" her mum shouted, as they entered through the front door.
Once everyone was inside the house, Mum ushered them down into the kitchen. All was quiet and, by the sound of it, there didn't appear to be anyone else in the house.
"What's going on, Mum?" Ron asked, once they were all sat down around the kitchen table.
"Professor Dumbledore has asked me and your father to join an organisation he is running and this is its new headquarters. I'm staying here for a while to help look after the place."
"What does this organisation do, Mum?" George asked, suddenly seeming eager to know what was going on.
Ginny had a pretty good idea what the organisation was doing. Looking for Adam.
"Well," Mum hesitated, "you know how the war ended? The war with You-Know-Who?"
Ginny nodded, along with her siblings.
"Well, Professor Dumbledore kept a pretty big secret. Apparently, Harry Potter survived."
"What!" Ron exclaimed.
"I know!" Mum continued. "And now some of the old followers of You-Know-Who have reformed and kidnapped him."
"Whoa," Fred said quietly.
Ginny carefully schooled her features into an equally shocked look. She didn't want to give anything away. None of her brothers seemed to know quite what to say to the news. To them, Harry Potter was someone they had never met. If only they knew!
Once the explaining was done, Mum cooked them all a meal, and then helped them sort out their bedrooms. Ginny was directed to a room on the first floor, while Ron had a room on the second and the twins a room on the third.
Her room was reasonably clean, but it wasn't as nice as her room at home, or her room at Hogwarts. At least, Ginny thought, while she was here she would be in the centre of anything that happened. She needed to find some way to help Adam, and if being here was the best she could do, then she would do that gladly.
Once she had sorted out her room, Ginny began to feel tired from her long day of travelling and, as she didn't feel much like socialising with her brothers, she settled down to go to sleep.
She lay there in the dark listening to the soft creaking of the unusual house. Soon, the darkness seemed to close in around her and she felt herself drifting off.
She was looking over the shoulder of a very short man who was standing in a bare stone room. Suddenly, with a start she saw him. Adam was lying on the floor in one corner of the room. His glasses were smashed. Ginny watched, as Adam recognised the short man and pulled back from him.
The short man raised his wand and muttered something. Adam screamed. His legs spasmed as his body writhed in pain. His head thrashed back and forwards as he continued to scream. After what seemed like an eternity, the spell was lifted and Adam stilled.
Ginny awoke with a strangled cry. She was covered in sweat and was trembling wildly. They were torturing Adam! She got out of bed, attempting to calm herself down in the process. In her sleep she had apparently been kicking, tossing and turning, so her sheets had been completely scattered off the side of the bed.
Collecting herself, she decided to go down the kitchen to get a drink of water. As she descended the stairs she chanted silently to herself, It wasn't real. It was just a dream.It was just a bad dream. That's not really happening to Adam. She had bad dreams from time to time and always ignored them.
She eventually reached the kitchen and pushed open the door.
"…filthy half breeds… blood traitors… children of filth… sleeping in Mistress' house," she heard mumbling coming from inside the room.
As she stepped inside the room, a house-elf walked around the corner of the table and into her eye-line. Its skin seemed several times too big for it and it had a filthy loincloth tied around its middle.
"Oh… filthy blood traitor miss is here…" it said.
Ginny stood still, watching the elf as it sloped off across the kitchen, and started doing something inside one of the cupboards.
"Ginny?" she jumped as she heard a voice from behind her.
Ginny spun around to see Sirius standing in the doorway.
"Oh, Sirius," she said softly, not quite knowing that to say to the man
"Come on, let's have a drink." He nodded towards the elf. "He's not been bothering you, has he?"
Ginny shook her head.
"His name's Kreacher," he informed her as he grabbed some cups and began filling them with pumpkin juice.
"Why haven't I seen him before?" she questioned.
"I'm not sure he's entirely loyal to me. So I was always careful to keep him away from, erm, Harry. Just in case he overheard something he shouldn't."
"Oh," Ginny replied.
"Are you okay, Ginny?" Sirius asked.
"I'm fine. I just had a bad dream," she hesitated. "Has there been any news?" she asked in a small voice.
"I'm afraid not," Sirius replied. "I've been out searching, as have others. But nothing so far."
"He's going to be okay," Ginny said uncertainly.
"Yes, he is," Sirius said, sounding slightly more confidently than she had.
"Sirius," Ginny continued softly, "why didn't you contact me after…" she paused. "You know…?"
"I…" Ginny began, feeling her temper beginning to take hold. "I felt like I'd been abandoned! No one's been telling me anything! I'm not just some little kid!" she said in a raised voice. "Surely I have a right to know what's going on!"
"Oh, Ginny. I'm sorry, it's just that…" Sirius began, but, before he could finish, a noise from the other side of the kitchen attracted their