When: 22 October. Evening.
Where: Shrieking Shack.
Rating: Terribly PG, I'm afraid.
Summary: See?! He isn't dead!! :3
It was nearly dusk when Harry set out across the grounds, his father's Invisibility Cloak wrapped snugly around him against the chilly autumn air. There was a distinctly buoyant bounce in his step - though you couldn't see it, obviously, as he was invisible - and it was all he could do to stop himself from charging towards the Whomping Willow at top speed. But, as this occasion was Very Important, he showed a little restraint. After all, he didn't want to appear too rumpled; impressions were important. At least, that's what Mrs. Weasley kept telling him whenever she fussed with his hair.
He jabbed at the knot on the Willow's trunk and descended through the opening, trotting eagerly down the tunnel. It didn't take long to reach the Shrieking Shack's entrance. He removed the Cloak, folding it haphazardly and setting it aside next to the door. He'd come back for it later. "Er...Hello?"
Sirius lit a lamp as night began to draw in around the shack and returned to sitting in the battered armchair he'd just left. After a moment he stood up and began pacing the room, back and forth, glancing at the door every few seconds. He'd been anxiously waiting for Harry all evening whilst trying not to think about what he was going to say when Harry actually arrived.
He stood still for a moment and shifted into dog form, to try and escape his anxiety for a while. Padfoot lay down and placed his head on his paws, occasionally getting up and wandering around the shack before laying back down and staring at the door. Suddenly he heard footsteps on the stairs and quickly changed back into Sirius. He heard Harry's voice outside the door and bounded forward to open it.
Harry's stomach flip-flopped in delight when the door opened and revealed his godfather, who admittedly looked somewhat jittery, but nevertheless was very much alive, which was the important part anyway. He found himself rather taken aback. Sirius looked so...well, normal. To be honest, he had almost been expecting some sort of catch; a childhood racked with tragedy tended to have that effect, and finding his godfather with a face full of scars or a few missing limbs was not entirely out of the sphere of probability. But no, he really was all right. Of course, he might turn out to have an odd stutter, but Harry chose not to consider that.
Harry didn't move for several seconds, taking it all in, before vaulting himself at Sirius and enveloping him in a hug that may have been a little too tight.
Stumbling backwards slightly when Harry launched himself at him, Sirius laughed and wrapped his arms tightly around his godson, closing his eyes and smiling as he ran his fingers through Harry's messy hair. He frowned slightly as he realised Harry was now nearly as tall as him. The two of them barely moved for a minute or two, standing pressed together with their heartbeats racing against one another's.
"Harry," he said after they'd broken apart, reminding himself of the way the name sounded in his mouth. "I'm so glad you came." He took a step back and looked around awkwardly. "I'm afraid I haven't much to offer you here," he indicated to the lumpy armchair, "only one intact chair, but you take that," he said, moving to sit on the bed. "So, how've you been?"
Harry lowered himself into the chair, the springs poking into him uncomfortably. "I've been..." he began, his memory flashing with his gloomy summer, the tension that had developed between himself and everyone he knew, the perpetual restlessness, the excruciating nights spent reliving the Ministry battle over and over. His brow furrowed. Perhaps it was best not to elaborate.
He sighed. "I've been better, I suppose." He glanced up at Sirius, feeling an odd pang in his chest. Oh, fuck it, who was he kidding? Sirius was his godfather - he ought to be honest. "Okay, to tell you the truth, things have been shit without you. Everyone keeps coddling me like I'm a child, and they won't tell me anything." He made to scowl, but thought better of it and softened. "But you're back now. You're alive. Nothing else matters."
Sirius frowned when he saw the pained expression that flashed momentarily across Harry's face and felt a sickening rush of guilt that he was the reason Harry had been so unhappy, that it was his fault Harry had been arguing with his friends.
"Harry, I," he began awkwardly, then realising he didn't have a clue what to say. "Look, I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you, and I can't imagine, God, what you must have been through." He sighed and leaned forward. "I promise, I'll never lie to you, and if you need me, I'll be there for you."
"No, no, it's all right!" Harry said quickly, earnestly. He didn't blame Sirius for anything, not anymore. Earlier on, when Sirius' "death" had been new and raw, Harry's mind had abounded with resentment and anger. He spent almost three weeks passionately hating Sirius for abandoning him, for failing him like everyone else had done; his parents, the Dursleys, Dumbledore (he'd let Sirius die; not acceptable). Over time, his wrath had subsided, leaving an empty, hollow feeling in its stead. But that was all over now. Harry didn't care about the wasted months anymore; he only wanted to be with Sirius, to pick up where they'd left off.
"It's all right," Harry repeated, rising from his chair. "It's not your fault. I know I can always count on you."
Sirius smiled genuinely and patted the bed next to him, shifting over to give Harry space to sit down. "I'm glad you're alright, Harry." He waited for a moment after Harry sat down and then tentatively put his arm around Harry's shoulders. "I missed you, you know. I kept trying to scrounge papers, to try and find out things about you."
He grinned and ruffled Harry's hair. "So, tell me about all the trouble you've been causing Snape," he said. "I hope you made those detentions worthwhile?"
Harry returned the grin, savouring the contact and warmth; the shack really was horribly drafty, he didn't see how Sirius could possibly be comfortable here. "Believe it or not, I've actually been following orders," he said, scoffing.
"Keeping a low profile, avoiding conflict like a good little boy. Sorry to disappoint." He paused, his smile widening. "But, if it's any consolation, I came very close to charming spiders into Snape's knickers."
Sirius laughed loudly. "Well, it's probably a good thing you didn't, but we shall have to save that one for another day, eh?" He shifted a little and sat further back on the bed, rather than continuing to perch on the edge. He noticed Harry shiver slightly and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Are you cold?" he asked. "I could get you a jumper or something if you want."
Without waiting for a reply he sprang off the bed and pulled an old suitcase out from underneath and began rooting around inside it.
"Aha!" he said triumphantly. "Uh, it might be a bit big." He knelt in front of Harry and carefully removed his glasses, laying them on the bed, then pulled the thick woollen jumper over his head. "There, much better," he said, smiling.
Harry grunted softly as the collar thunked over his face. He squinted at Sirius, whose face had become temporarily blurred, but grinned at him anyway. He'd been grinning a lot lately, actually, since The Imposter had proven to be not an imposter at all. He'd even hugged half his Charms class. Including Professor Flitwick, who had squeaked uncontrollably for a good ten minutes afterwards.
Harry returned his specs to their proper spot on his nose. "A bit big?" he chuckled, brandishing his sleeves, which hung down rather low and obstructed the better part of his hands. A bit big was quite an understatement. But he was warm, and the jumper smelled like Sirius.
Laughing softly, Sirius carefully rolled the ends of the sleeves up so that Harry's hands were visible again and looked up at him, feeling suddenly just how much he'd lost, how much of Harry he'd missed out on when he'd been sent to Azkaban, and he resolved to make the most of the time he still had with his godson. He smiled. "Better?"
Harry nodded. "So what happens now?" he asked softly. "Now that you're not dead, I mean. Have you spoken to Dumbledore? Will you go back to Headquarters?" He secretly hoped he wouldn't. In truth, the last thing Harry wanted was for Sirius to return to Grimmauld Place; he remembered how morose and lonely that place made him, the disappointment hidden behind a smile when Harry had to leave him. He didn't want Sirius to feel lonely again. He deserved more than that.
And besides, the Shrieking Shack was much more convenient for visitation purposes. Closer, and more private; it was a relief to be with Sirius on his own, without Ron or Hermione or Order members hovering around like so many wasps.
"Well, I think I'm going to have to stay here for a while," said Sirius, looking around the shack somewhat dispiritedly. "Like I said, the Death Eaters are probably still thirsting for my blood, and the world at large thinks I'm dead, apart from you, Remus and Snape."
He sighed wearily and clambered back onto the bed beside Harry. "I don't have anywhere else to go after all, so I suppose I'm stuck here." He grinned suddenly. "Of course, that means that we'll get to see more of each other than if I was hidden away in Grimmauld Place again."
"My thoughts exactly," Harry replied, mirroring Sirius with a broad smile of his own. "This is better than sneaking around, having fire chats in the common room at one in the morning." The wheels in his brain turned enthusiastically, already inventing various excuses to steal away to the shack. If only he were this productive with his schoolwork...He'd rather not have Professor McGonagall's thin-lipped frowns after he'd botched the incantation for the fourth time. Hermione's lectures were the worst, though, especially since their only effect was to make Harry feel suitably guilty for his lack of concentration.
"This place isn't so bad, actually," he continued, scanning their rather delapidated surroundings. Okay, so maybe it was pretty bad, but some dusting and a few heating charms ought to do the trick.
Sirius laughed. "No, it's horrible. But you get used to it." He closed his eyes for a moment and turned away from Harry, thinking of the many places; most far worse than the shack, in which he'd had to spend the night. "You understand, Harry, you can't tell anyone about me. Well, Ron and Hermione if you like."
He smiled as he studied the boy sitting in front of him, swamped in the enormous knitted jumper (too big in fact for Sirius and ridiculously so on Harry). His eyes were very dark in the faint glow from the lamp and he looked so much like James, sitting there in the half-light, if it weren't of course for his thin wrists poking out of the sleeves and his pinched face, dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep.
"You should probably get back to the castle," said Sirius reluctantly, half hoping Harry would protest and beg to be allowed to stay. "Ron and Hermione will probably have missed you by now."
Harry's heart dropped with a sudden jolt. Reality seemed to flood the room, seeping in through the cracks of the boarded-up windows along with the faint moonlight. Clearly he'd been here longer than he'd thought, though it felt like they'd only been talking a few minutes. Even if his friends weren't worried about him, Tonks more than definitely was. It was a miracle she hadn't stopped him from coming tonight in the first place; judging by the way she had glared at him during dinner, she probably would have if she hadn't been distracted by a scuffle between a couple of younger years.
Harry's mind churned; Tonks had probably noticed he was missing by now and would surely notify Dumbledore and half the Order. He glanced nervously at the door, half-expecting a dozen Aurors to barge in, wands out, throwing curses left and right. The notion almost made him sick; he couldn't bear the thought of losing Sirius again, not when they'd been given a second chance.
"You're right," Harry sighed unhappily. "I should...I should probably go." He'd rather snog that pair of Uncle Vernon's old socks than leave Sirius alone in this place, but if leaving now was the only way he could come back later, he didn't have much of a choice.
Sirius nodded. "Yeah, but I'll see you again soon," he said hopefully. He stood up and then reached for Harry's hand and pulled him to his feet, wrapping him in his arms again, his hands tangling in the huge folds of the jumper Harry was still wearing.
"Send Hedwig to me if you need me," he said, smiling as they drew apart. "I'm not going anywhere just yet."
"I'll come again as soon as I can get away," Harry said, with a stern nod, as if that made it official. "I promise." He brought Sirius close for one final squeeze that probably lasted a little longer than it should have and left to collect the Invisibility Cloak. He smiled as he headed back to the castle, still wearing the jumper, still smelling like Sirius.