Who: Sirius Black, Harry Potter
Where: 12 Grimmauld Place, various streets, London, England
Summary: Harry and Sirius begin the process of starting over.
To say that it was a mess, had to be some sort of ludicrous understatement, of that he was certain, but really, the important thing was that it was all now inside, and that he was moved back in. Never mind that every box, bag, and useless item that he’d brought from Hogsmeade was now tossed around his old room, stacked on the floor and the bed, much as it had been in the room at the Three Broomsticks when he had moved out.
Sirius had to admit, he wasn’t much for this packing unpacking business. It was probably easier to just buy new things all together, instead of actually moving the stuff from space to space. He’d really have to take that into consideration, if indeed he ever moved again.
Wiping his hands on his jeans, he shrugged noncommittally, and merely pulled the door shut, content with the thought that he would finish things up later, and for now he’d much rather visit with Harry. Yawning a little, the animagus trudged through the house, looking around curiously as he went, a little relieved to find that things were still, for the most part, the same, albeit a little cleaner. It was a different feeling, being home, one that he was still coping with. Back in Grimmauld Place, where everything had began, years ago.
But, this was a new beginning, was it not? A chance to start over, and do things right?
The thought did make him smile a little, as he swept down the stairs, peering into some of the rooms along the corridor, wondering where his Godson had gotten to. Maybe they could go for a pint, or out for a walk, or partake in some other male bonding activity that would be fun and lift their spirits.
Spirits could most certainly always use lifting, especially these days.
Harry turned out to be in the kitchen, tidying up. Although he'd known that Sirius would be moving in today, he'd nonetheless spent the morning on tenterhooks waiting, accompanied only by doubts and uncertainties. What if Sirius had changed his mind? What if Sirius had decided that Harry didn't need him, or that he didn't need Harry? What if Sirius didn't want to be back at Grimmauld Place after all?
By the time his godfather had arrived, Harry had almost convinced himself that he'd expected Sirius not to show up anyway, so his greeting was cooler than it should have been. Nonetheless, it had been difficult to stay downstairs and wait while his godfather reacclimatized to his room. He just hoped Sirius was fast about it. He'd wanted this for too long.
Sirius shuffled into the kitchen, offering his godson a warm smile upon sight. “Ah, here you are. I was beginning to think you’d run out on me. I’d forgotten how many rooms this place had,” he said, his voice as chipper as he could make it. Things still felt a little tense, between Harry and himself, but he had no doubts that it would all start to clear up, the more they got to know each other.
Because really, when it came down to it, they barely knew one another at all.
“So, I am now once again an official resident of number 12 Grimmauld Place. How would you like to celebrate,” he asked, taking a seat at the long table, leaning his chin on his hand. “Dinner? Movie? A pint?”
Harry smiled back, the expression feeling odd on him. He hadn't had much to smile about in the past year or so. This would be a good start, if only he could shake the feeling that he had to impress Sirius in case Sirius went away again. "Never too early for a pint," he replied as he replaced the dishtowel he'd been using to dry his hands. "I have some lager in the cellar. Any preference?"
“If you have it, I’ll drink it,” Sirius said indifferently. When it came to liquor, in his opinion, there was no such thing as preference. You’d take it, you’d drink it, and as long as it got you got and toasted, it didn’t really honestly matter what it was. “Whatever you’ve got, is fine with me.” As he stared at his godson, his grin grew from bemused, to fond, and he really couldn’t help it. Perhaps it was age catching up with him, but he suddenly felt uncharacteristically nostalgic. “You know, s’funny. I can remember the days when you were just becoming accustomed to butterbeer. In fact, I can remember the days when you were still slurping milk out of a bottle.”
Harry, who'd been just about to head downstairs, paused at the doorway and turned back around to look at his godfather. He tried to imagine himself as Sirius might have seen him, using what images he had of his parents holding him as a baby, but didn't get more than a hazy sense of what might have been. He simply didn't know enough about that time to really envision it. But Sirius did. "Tell me," he said softly.
Sirius looked up, eyes a little distant now, that smile still on his face as he stared at the boy. He motioned for Harry to come back, to take a seat. “Tell you about when you were a baby? Wow, I’m not sure of where to even begin. What do you want to know,” he asked, more then willing to share his memories of James, and Lily, and of Harry himself. After all, wasn’t that part of his job, as godfather? To let him know everything he wanted
to know about his parents, to be there for him, to help him form his own memories.
"Everything." The word came out in a rush, and Harry swiftly closed the distance between them to take a seat near Sirius. He leaned forward, green eyes blazingly intent. "I know that they...that they were happy with me, and that they loved each other. I know that you were - you are - my godfather. I don't know anything else. Did I have friends? Did I tire out my parents? Did my father play with me? What did we do? I don't know anything about my childhood except how troublesome I was to the Dursley's."
“You weren’t troublesome! The Dursley’s were just great, dundering, idiots who were more concerned with themselves then with the welfare of others,” Sirius snapped, the mere thought of the people setting his blood to boiling. But he quickly pushed the feelings down, trying to focus on Harry’s questions, especially the one about his father. “You were so small, and your parents were both so busy with the Order, that you didn’t have any friends your own age, per say, but there was always someone around to play with you. I used to make a fool of myself quite often, crawling around on the floor, letting you pull my hair, blowing raspberries on your stomach to hear you squeal.” He leaned back, relaxing into the chair, just letting things come back to him. “But James…he would drop everything and anything to give you a piggy back ride, or push you in the swing. I remember that for your first birthday, he bought you a ‘my first broomstick,” he paused to laugh, a real and genuine laugh, before continuing. “Your mother pitched the biggest fit. She was thoroughly convinced that the entire idea had bad news written all over it. ‘James Potter! You are not putting our child on a broomstick!’ It was a controversy for weeks. He finally gave the damned thing to me, and I kept it at my flat, so when he brought you over to visit, we could teach you how to fly. We never did get around to it though.”
Harry had to smile. Young Sirius crawling about on the floor to play with a baby was something he could imagine. "What was the house like?"
“It was small, but nice. Your mother fell in love with it. The perfect house to raise a child in. Far away from the city, and the noise…” Sirius trailed off, his minds eye forming a picturing of the home in question. He could remember it so clearly, standing there in a cluster of trees, and then he could imagine it fallen, nothing but a smoldering pile of rubble. “…far from everything,” he finished, licking his teeth, trying to push the thought out of his mind.
Sensitive to Sirius's change in mood, Harry looked away. "Obviously not far enough," Harry said bitterly, thinking of that long-ago Halloween night that had taken his parents and his godfather away from him.
Sirius shook his head, reaching out to rest his hand on Harry’s arm, squeezing gently. “Harry…it wouldn’t have mattered how far away they had gone. He would have found them. Nothing could have changed what happened.”
The inflexibility implied in that statement didn't help matters. Harry could think of plenty of ways that could have changed the outcome of that night, but however probable or improbable they might be, none of them had come to pass. "He's gone now," Harry said as he looked back at Sirius. There was no remorse in his gaze, nothing of the boy who'd asked for Pettigrew to be spared because enough blood had been shed on his account.
“I know,” the older wizard said softly, blinking slowly to hold back the tears he felt pricking at the back of his dark eyes. “And it’s time to move on, to live life. You know, and I never told anyone this Harry, not even Remus, but I blamed myself. For Lily and James death. I guess a part of me still does. I could have changed everything. Not you, not them, but me. I made one mistake, made one wrong choice, and left you to grow up in misery.” Sirius released his grip on Harry’s arm and looked away, taking a deep breath. “It should have been me.”
Harry was quiet for a moment. "That's what you told me, that time in the Shrieking Shack. But it wasn't you who sold them out, was it? Yet it's still us who lived in misery."
Sirius just nodded slowly, rubbing his eyes wearily. “I know that I’ve said it before, but it’s deeper then just the mistake that I made. It’s the guilt of it. I’m the reason that you’re miserable.”
Harry shook his head. "I'm not miserable," he automatically denied. "I..." He was drifting. He was carrying a burden of guilt. He was disconnected from his friends. He was tired. And yes, maybe he was miserable. "At any rate, I don't blame you for it."
“You’re miserable. I can see it in your eyes. You’re worn out, but that’s ok,” he said reassuringly, running a hand through his tangled hair. “Everyone gets tired, and you’ve earned the right to a little misery. Just don’t let it consume you.”
It occurred to Harry, uncharitably, that Sirius would know something about that. He didn't voice it, however. "Yeah," he settled on saying. He stood up once more. "I'll get that lager."
Sirius stood as well, shaking his head. “Why don’t we go out, for a change? It might do you some good, hm, to be back amongst the living?” He cracked the faintest of smiles, offering his godson a wink. “I’ll tell you all about the time your dad ate an entire pound of Honeydukes chocolate and drank about four pints on a dare from me, and then ended up ruining your mothers new Oriental rug.”
"Four pints?" Harry repeated in amazement. It wasn't that the quantity of beer was amazing; he'd had that in one sitting before. Nor was it the pound of chocolates; he and Ron had gone through entire boxes of fudge from Honeydukes on Hogsmeade weekends. No, it was the combination thereof that had his stomach roiling in sympathy. "How angry was my mother?"
“Fit to be tied,” Sirius said with a slight giggle, shaking his head. “I don’t think she ever did get that stain out either. I myself was rather drunk, trying to hold your father up while Lily proceeded to ream him out as he retched all over the thing. She hated boys night out, because it almost always resulted in someone throwing up, most often your father who had a weak stomach, and then passing out on the sofa.”
Harry found himself grinning with Sirius. This was a side of his father that no one talked much about. He'd been told of his father as a hero and his father as a childhood tormentor, but this humanized his father, made him approachable, as if perhaps he and Harry could have been very good friends if things had turned out very, very differently. "What were Mum's friends like?"
Sirius laughed again, the kind of laugh that made you squint your eyes and had your shoulders shaking. “Lils mates? Typical girls. They liked to get together, and giggle over you, and talk about all of those sorts of things that Prongs and I had absolutely no interest in what so ever. But they were all a lot like her. Smart, quick witted, pretty,” he said with a wink. “We used to give them hell.”
Belatedly, Harry remembered that they were supposed to be going for a walk or something. He headed for the foyer to pick up a jacket, taking care to lower his voice when he neared the portrait of Mrs. Black. "Are they...I mean, do you know if they're still alive?"
“I’m not sure,” Sirius whispered, bypassing his own jacket. It was a rather balmy evening, and by the time they came home again in the cool night air, the liquor would suffice enough to keep him warm. “I know that several of them didn’t survive the war. I used to go ‘round with one of them, Dorcas Meadowes. She was a great girl, she and Lils were pretty close.”
Harry tugged on his jacket and pulled the hood up over his head, trying to keep anonymous even in a predominantly Muggle neighborhood. "You think you might look any of them up now that you're back?"
Sirius considered it, licking his teeth in thought as they headed out the door, and into the crisp summer air. “I’ve never thought about it before, to be honest. Probably not, I guess, if I’m being truthful. It just wouldn’t feel right.”
"I guess a lot of things wouldn't seem right when you've come back from the dead," Harry murmured, shoving his hands into his pockets. His stance was casual enough, but he kept an ear out for odd footsteps or noises that didn't fit in. Voldemort was dead, but it didn't mean that he was safe.
“Enough about me though, what about you? The wars over now, have you given any though to your future? What do you want, Harry? A wife? A family,” Sirius asked, hands buried deep in the pockets of his jeans, one hand gripping the handle of his wand.
Harry tried to picture himself as his father had been, a loving husband and father, but didn't manage. Despite his wish to be part of a family, he never imagined himself as the father. It was a jarring concept, and not one he could see becoming reality. "I don't know," he said finally, his voice low. "It's funny. Before, when Voldemort was alive - if he could be said to be alive - all I could think of was what I'd do when he was finally dead. I thought about traveling, of playing quidditch, of maybe...I don't know, taking a holiday with Ginny...but now that he's gone I really don't know what to do now."
Sirius nodded, listening intently, mulling over Harry’s words slowly. He knew that it was a heavy burden, that his godson carried, but he was here now, to help him, in any way that he could. “If you still want to do any of those things Harry, I’m here for you. We could travel together, perhaps, and we can go anywhere you want. I used to travel a lot, when I was a kid, with my family and your grandparents. We went all over, but I would love very much to do it all again, with you.”
Harry glanced over with the same uncertainty as he always carried around Sirius of late. "Really?" he asked, the hope in his eyes suddenly making him look very young. But too soon the heaviness of his experiences returned. "I did travel...after the war. I went on my own." Though, if he had to admit it, it wasn't quite traveling as it was trying to escape or trying to run away from who he was.
“We should go to France,” Sirius said, a hint of reminiscing in his voice. “I spent a lot of time there, when I was younger. It was my mother’s favorite place, well; at least it was before she went bleeding insane.” He shuffled his feet a little, staring at the toes of his trainers for a moment before speaking again. “I’m glad to be back here with you, Harry. I really missed you.”
Harry closed his eyes against the sudden sting in them. "I missed you too," he replied, his voice cracking.
Sirius put his arm around his Godson’s shoulders, squeezing the boy comfortingly. “But hey, we’re together now, right? And we’re certainly going to make the most if it.” He wasn’t sure himself whether he wanted to smile or cry, so he settled for neither, and just gave Harry another squeeze.
That was the problem. Harry wasn't sure they could. Sirius had been gone so long, and Harry had been shouldering his guilt and responsibilities alone for so long that he wasn't sure he could take his godfather into his confidence now. He hadn't been able to manage it with Ginny, and he still hadn't told Ron or Hermione what had happened that day against Voldemort. If he told anyone, they'd hate him for sure. And if he didn't, he'd end up pushing them away. He was already doing a very good job with Ron and Hermione. He didn't want it to happen with Sirius, but he had no idea how he'd prevent it. "If we can't," he finally said, slowly, "please don't be mad."
“Why would I be mad at you,” the older man asked, quirking a brow at Harry. He too stopped in his tracks, dropping his arm from around the boy’s shoulders. Sirius wasn’t familiar, for obvious reasons, with Harry’s situation, but he wasn’t numb or blind to it either. There were things going on behind his Godson’s eyes, uneasy things, things that made him disconnected. He knew this, because he had those same sort of things that ran rampant in his own head. You wished you could change things, that you could take back the seemingly horrible things you had done, but you can’t, and so you hid them away, or at least tried. And then they ate away at you. It had happened to him, and he was fairly sure it was happening to Harry.
Harry shoved his hands in his pockets and looked away uncomfortably. "Everyone gets mad at me when I don't tell them anything."
Sirius shrugged, running a hand through his hair. “I won’t get mad at you, because I don’t expect you to get mad at me for holding things from you either. We all have things we need to keep for us. I don’t expect to know everything, only what you want me to know.”
Harry nodded, a little relieved but not wholly reassured. They all said that, until they asked a question he didn't want to answer. But Sirius might understand him. Sirius knew what it was like to come back to a world that had gone on without him. Slowing as they neared the pub, he cast another anxious look at his godfather. "Is this all right? We can go to another place if you don't like it."
“It has beer, and it looks quite seedy. It’s right up my alley,” Sirius said with a wink, nudging Harry playfully with an elbow. “Ok, now, there are a few rules, when drinking with me. One, wipe that melancholy look off your face, so I at least think you’re having a good time. Two, all drinks on me. Got it?”
Harry thought about it for a moment. "On one condition."
Sirius nodded, a lopsided smile on his face. “And that one condition would be?”
A returning smile crept up on Harry's face, a ghost of the one his father had been so quick to give. "Neither of us leaves until we're pissed."
“That sounds like a deal to me! Your father would be proud,” Sirius said with a wink, opening the door to the pub. “Now, let’s get started. It’s getting late, and we have a lot of drinking to do.”