When: 24 October. Dinnertime.
Where: Shrieking Shack.
Rating: Erm...PG-13 for a few fucks.
Summary: Snape is a jerkface. Harry and Sirius are awkward.
An important fact about Harry Potter was that he did not enjoy Potions. Also, he did not enjoy essays. Nor did he enjoy combining the two, and he especially did not enjoy having to rewrite them with Ron's eyes boring persistently into the back of his skull like one of Uncle Vernon's drills, except less forgiving and more freckly. Needless to say, Harry was not a happy camper. Annoyance had robbed him of his appetite, so, while the rest of the school cheerfully enjoyed their shepherd's pie, he opted instead to visit the only person whose company brought a sense of comfort. Sirius, obviously.
He charged angrily through the underground passageway - well, as effectively as one could whilst hunching over as to avoid hitting one's head on the ceiling - until he reached the door. Harry didn't bother to knock; he figured Sirius wouldn't mind terribly if he barged in uninvited. "Sirius?"
Sirius was growingly increasingly frustrated now that Remus and Harry believed he was indeed alive and yet he couldn't leave to go and see them. Much as he hated to admit it, he grudgingly had to agree that Snape was probably right, and that he was safer remaining 'dead', and more useful besides. The latter being what Snape was probably more interested in.
He'd spent most of the day reading various issues of the Prophet and the Quibbler that he'd managed to acquire, and occasionally straying out into Hogsmeade for brief interludes, being careful to make sure nobody saw him sneaking in or out of the hut as Padfoot. Having owled Remus and asked to meet him later in the Hog's Head, he decided to take a shower beforehand. He'd spent much of the afternoon frolicking in puddles.
Just as he was climbing out of the shower he heard a voice calling him and, quickly wrapping a ragged towel around his waist, he wandered out into the other room.
"Harry," he said, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
Harry did not reply, but stood there gaping at his godfather, who was dripping wet and forming a pool of water on the grubby floor. Erm. This was certainly rather unexpected, wasn't it? Harry felt slightly unsure of how to respond; he'd seen plenty of naked boys in his day, what with sharing a dormitory and locker room, but a naked man - moreover, a naked Sirius - was something he'd never seen before. Harry blinked. Sirius had been taken entirely out of context. It was weird.
He cleared his throat, finding his voice after a pause too long for comfort. "I, erm. I thought I'd pop by to see you. Is this a bad time?" Evidently it was. But it wouldn't hurt to ask.
Sirius shook his head and unconsciously pulled the towel tighter around him, feeling suddenly very exposed. "No," he said, remembering the furious look Harry had been wearing when he entered the room and smiling perhaps a little too much. "No of course not." He took a step forwards as if to put his arms around the boy, then realising he was almost completely naked changed his mind. "I'll um, I'll just put some clothes on," he said quickly, glancing around for something to wear.
He grabbed some clothes and ducked into the bathroom away from Harry, who was staring at him with something akin to shock on his face. 'Bugger,' thought Sirius viciously. 'First I screw him up by not being dead after all, and then I traumatise him further by parading around in front of him with nothing on.' He pulled his jeans on and yanked a jumper over his head and fixing a smile on his face, stalked back out into the other room.
"Well," he said to Harry, who was still looking somewhat dazed. "What's up then?"
Harry smiled weakly, hoping to shake off the weird. Really, Sirius in a towel was nothing to make a fuss about. Everyone takes showers, he told himself, even ex-con animagi in hiding. When they feel like it, anyway. Or when they have access to running water. And soap. Did Sirius even have soap? Harry's internal monologue was not helping the situation. Best move along before the subject turned to something really uncomfortable.
"Oh, nothing," Harry said bitterly. "Snape is just an insufferable fucking git and Ron is refusing to speak to me. Again. Just another wonderful day in the exciting life of Harry Potter." Sarcastic, misunderstood teenager? Oh, yes.
Sirius laughed and ruffled Harry's hair. "Yes, Snape is an insufferable fucking git. If it helps at all, he always has been. I'd kill him for you but I haven't been out of Azkaban that long," he said, and winked. "I want a chance to enjoy my freedom first."
He wandered over to the camping stove shoved in the corner and pulled a couple of mugs out of a bag. "Would you like a drink?" he asked, waving a mug at Harry. "I have tea or hot chocolate."
"Hot chocolate," Harry said, meandering casually around the room. "Please," he added quickly. Now that Sirius was fully-clothed (well, mostly; he was still barefoot, but that obviously didn't count. obviously.), Harry's nerves calmed themselves a bit. That is, until he remembered how pissed off he'd been when he'd arrived, at which point said nerves resumed their Evil Dance of Doom. Harry suspected a bit of a rant may be coming on.
He scowled. "Unsuitable for NEWT level my arse. His...bloody...sodding...nose is unsuitable for NEWT level."
Sirius laughed loudly, the sound filling the small room and drowning out the noise the stove was making as it began to heat up. He was still uneasy about what Snape had said to him regarding crossing boundaries with Harry and hearing Harry put the bastard down made him feel marginally better. Who was Snape anyway, to interfere between him and his fucking godson? Still, maybe Snape had a point? Sirius poured hot water into two mugs and stirred them both with a teaspoon. He stood up and handed a mug to Harry and then sat down facing him.
"Uh, Harry?" he asked uncertainly. "Are you ok about, you know, the way I ... behave around you? Only, if you're not then you know, you should say. I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable."
Harry, who had been very engrossed in fantasies involving Snape being hit in the face repeatedly with various heavy objects (bowling ball, encyclopaedia, a tire...), nearly dropped his cocoa. Definitely an odd segue. "What??" he said, quite taken aback. "What do you mean?"
"Oh nothing, nothing," said Sirius quickly. He took a sip of his hot chocolate and promptly burnt his mouth. He winced. "Well, it's just. A lot's changed. For you, I mean. Last week I was dead and now I'm not dead. That's quite a momentous experience to go through, you know?" he said, running his fingers through his hair absently. "God, this is awkward. I guess what I mean is, you've never really had a proper father figure. I don't imagine those bloody Muggles you lived with were any use, and God knows I haven't been. Just, you know you can come to me about anything, right?"
He smiled hopefully at the boy seated opposite him and took another, more cautious, sip of his drink.
"Oh," Harry said lamely. That wasn't what he'd been expecting. But, then again, he didn't really know what he'd been expecting in the first place, so he didn't think on it further. "I...I know. I mean. Wait, hang on, you're not not of any use!" He inwardly kicked himself. He was failing at this, and rather badly. "Okay, let me start that again," he went on, grinning sheepishly. He tended to be rather crap at conversations that didn't involve Quidditch, chess, or the phrase 'Snape is such a bastard.'
"About the whole...you being dead then not dead thing." Long pause. Deep breath. "It...it really didn't feel terribly momentous. Not that you being alive isn't exciting and wonderful and...and yay. Because it is. But after the initial shock, seeing you on the Pribblers...I wanted so badly for it to really be you. It was easy to accept." Truly, Harry had never come to terms with Sirius' "death" anyway; he'd repressed the grieving process, skipped half the stages and gone straight to a false acceptance. Now he just felt like they were picking up where they'd left off.
Sirius finished his hot chocolate as Harry was speaking and set the mug down on the floor beside him. Snape's words were still ringing in his head, but looking at Harry's earnest expression he almost felt he couldn't care less. He did care though and wasn't that just the problem? He loved Harry more than anything, which was why he was hiding out here in this dirty tumbledown shack instead of being off on some Order mission, just so he could be close to him.
"Harry," Sirius began awkwardly. "You don't, I mean, what do you want from me?" He fiddled with the sleeve of his jumper as he spoke, worrying at a loose thread. "What I mean," he added, seeing Harry's bewildered expression, "is that, I don't know the first thing about being a parent, and well everyone said I treated you more like I had James back than as if you were your own person, but truthfully I don't know how to treat you otherwise, and, well, what do you want exactly?" He looked up at Harry as he finished speaking, letting go of his sleeve and resting his hands on his knees.
Harry sputtered ineffectually for a moment or two. He hadn't considered the matter for a very long time, not since the row between Sirius and Mrs. Weasley over a year ago in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. He hadn't been very thorough about it then, either.
"Sirius..." Harry began uncertainly, setting his cup aside. Suddenly he didn't feel very thirsty. "I don't expect you to be a parent. I don't want you to be one, I'm not a child. I don't need another person ordering me around, or protecting me from...from..." He gestured vaguely before repeating, "I'm not a child."
Sirius shook his head. "I know you're not, Harry. I'm sorry, that wasn't what I meant." He sighed, frustrated, and ran his fingers through his hair again. "I, oh God, I'm getting this all wrong."
He sat up and shifted forwards slightly so he was kneeling in front of Harry. "I don't want to control you, and I don't want to treat you like a child, because you are anything but.
But I promised James and Lily, and … No actually, I'm not even doing this for them, I'm doing it for you, Harry, because you're all I have left." He tentatively laid a hand on Harry's shoulder and smiled slightly at him.
Harry brought his own hand up, resting it atop Sirius' and squeezing gently. He honestly didn't see Sirius in a category; father, godfather, brother, friend, whatever. Sirius was just Sirius - everything blurred together, undefinable. Harry preferred it that way. He didn't like to rationalise and overanalyse every emotion, every circumstance; oftentimes, like now, it was just too impossible a task. That was why he didn't quite know how to answer Sirius' question, Harry didn't know what he wanted from him. He just wanted Sirius. The end.
"Can't we..." Harry bit his lip. "I dunno. Be friends?" Somehow he felt 'friends' was not exactly the right term for it, but it was the best he could do at the moment.
Sirius frowned slightly. Friends wasn't the right word for he and Harry. It wasn't that they couldn't be friends, it was that they were somehow something more than friends, though Sirius wasn't quite sure what. They were just all each other had. He pulled Harry towards him, wrapping both arms around him and smiling against his neck. "Yes. We can be friends."