Hello! Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything! And I have to say I am very proud of this one(:
NOTE: If any of you are/were faithful followers of my stories Their Secret and Freedom, I am very sorry about the lack of updates. I have been EXTREMELY busy and to be honest, I haven't had much inspiration for either of those in a long LONG time. I apologize for keeping any of you waiting. I would very much like to finish both of those some day, though I have no idea when that would be. So as of right now, both of those stories are officially on HIATUS. I'm sorry!
Now, on to a more cheerful note, I've produced this little story! As I said before, I am very proud of this one; I feel I've really put my heart and soul into this, and I hope you all like it(: It gave me the feels once or twice.
Also, I have a question. Would any of you like to see more short-ish stories like this from me? Like, any ideas? If you could think of some other event or moment from Harry Potter that could constitute a story around this length, then let me hear your ideas, and I'll consider them! Anything that we never saw specifically happen in the books like this one; I'd certainly try my best! :D
Anyway, I'm glad to be back, and I hope to be writing and posting more in the future! Enjoy- and review!(:
~Bailey xx :D
Summary- Suppose Sirius had been the first one to find James and Lily on that fateful Halloween night- how would he have reacted?
Rating- T for dark-ish themes and events.
The cold autumn air whipped Sirius's shoulder-length black hair out of his face as he flew. He could feel the faint wetness of the mist that came from low-lying clouds as he accelerated, the loud roar of his motorbike increasing in volume, the only thing penetrating his senses through the veil of the night. His face and hands were numb to the icy cold of the water that the wind was quick to whisk away as he leaned forward, knuckles whitening as his grip on the handle bars tightened in terrified anticipation. He tried to focus on anything other than the feeling of dread that was pooling low in his stomach, slowly working its way to his very heart, because he knew if he acknowledged it, if he allowed it to engulf him, it would mean surrendering to this horrible fear, admitting that this nightmare was real. And that was something he refused to accept, at least until he knew for sure.
He hadn't heard from Peter since the week before last. Sirius had felt it was his responsibility to make sure Peter stayed safe. After all, it had been he who suggested to James and Lily that they make Peter their Secret Keeper rather than him.
The perfect ruse, he'd said. But any outcome of this plan, good or bad, would be on his shoulders.
Peter's silence over the last few days had worried him- he was usually rather routine when it came to checking in with the others. Tonight, though, something hadn't felt right- maybe it was the weather, or the solitude finally catching up to him, or just one day of silence on Peter's part too many, but Sirius needed to check, or he wouldn't sleep.
So he'd forgotten everything about what the Order had told him to be the safe way of going about things- waiting- and given in to reckless abandon, dashing out to his motorbike and kicking off into the rapidly-darkening sky.
Sirius had managed to convince himself on the way that this intuition was nothing more than a few weeks' isolation getting to his brain, and was actually looking forward to visiting with Peter- another human being for a change.
Until he'd reached Peter's hideout, a little wooden house a few miles outside of London, and found the front door hanging ajar.
Immediately, panic-stricken, his blood running cold in his veins, Sirius had run into the house, searching the few rooms and shouting Peter's name frantically. He'd checked closets and cupboards on the subconscious possibility that he didn't want to think about, that Peter might be dead and his body stuffed out of sight. But he'd found nothing. Heart hammering, he'd run outside and searched the trees surrounding the house for any sign of his friend, but there were none.
It wasn't until he'd returned to his motorbike and the moon had risen that Sirius realized- the Dark Mark hadn't been left. The dreaded skull symbol was nowhere to be found in the sky. This meant that Peter was most likely alive. He felt the warm sweep of relief until he'd considered the only other possibilities: either Peter had been captured, or he had left of his own accord.
Sirius couldn't bear to think of the first, but what if it was true? If so, something needed to be done quickly. The Order would need to be notified- Peter was in trouble. James and Lily would need to be warned that their Secret Keeper might be in the hands of the Death Eaters. Peter could be killed at any moment- they needed to do something before it was too late.
But then Sirius had thought about the latter: what if Peter really had left on his own?
Where would he have gone? Had he gone to visit Remus? Had he been foolish enough to ignore their instructions to stay away from Godric's Hollow and gone to visit the Potters? Or had he had a reason to contact someone else in the Order? If so, what had it been?
Sirius had needed to do something, tell someone- this wasn't a normal occurrence, and any number of things could have taken place.
He'd been astride his bike and prepared to go find somebody- he'd decide who once he was in the air- when another possibility had come to his mind.
Immediately, Sirius had hated himself for even thinking about it. He hadn't even really thought about it- the idea of it had just flitted in front of his mind's eye as quickly as though it had felt the need to be recognized as a possibility, but not quickly enough that Sirius could ignore it.
What if- what if... Sirius couldn't bring the words to mind.
This doubt wasn't foreign to him, and that fact scared him even more; he'd already accused Remus of treachery, and hadn't spoken to him in over a month. He hadn't even seen fit to tell him that Peter had replaced him as Lily and James's Secret Keeper. And now he suspected Peter. What was the point of trying to fight anymore if he suspected everyone he cared about?
And were his suspicions warranted? He remembered Dumbledore's words a few weeks ago:
The Dark Lord has been well-prepared... too prepared to warrant the circumstances.
Quickly, Sirius had changed his mind. If there was any possibility at all that James and Lily were in danger, he needed to make sure.
He'd taken off once more, and instead of making for London again, he flew in the opposite direction, towards Godric's Hollow.
Now his heart was pounding, blood pumping loudly through his ears, the roar of the bike echoing into the night sky, as Sirius gave some small heart to the one remaining possibility, the unthinkable one- that it had happened, that he was too late. That either the Dark Lord did have Peter in his hands and had somehow tortured the answers he sought out of his friend, or that Peter really had- he mentally slapped himself- and that his best friends might be-
He stopped himself short. It did no good to dwell on such thoughts, and there was no proof that they were even true. Once he arrived, James and Lily would help him to find Peter, to save him, their friend.
Sirius regained his breathing, and focused on reaching Godric's Hollow. Everything would be okay. It had to be.
Finally, Sirius spotted some familiar buildings; he'd flown this way more times than he could count, and he knew he was nearly there.
He circled around the small cluster of cottages, the golden squares of windows glinting in the dark, lights of orange and purple and green bedecking some houses for the current holiday, a couple of families with children still out on the streets, running from door to door, making their way home. His bike would be shielded from the Muggles, courtesy of a few charms on Dumbledore's part.
Sirius flew lower, just below the rooftops, and made his way down the familiar street. It was quiet except for the noise of the bike, devoid of anything living, and Sirius felt a chill run up his spine that had nothing to do with the cold. He'd left the busier streets behind him, and the emptiness of the place unsettled him, bringing once more that awful feeling of dread and guilt back to his chest, a lump in his throat that made it hard to breath again, because if he rounded the corner and saw what he was praying with his entire being that he would not see, he thought he might be crushed, by the grief and the knowledge that it was his fault, his-
Stop, he thought to himself, Just stop. Don't think about it, not now.
The anguish and anxiety he felt were overwhelming- maybe it was because he had spent so much time as an animal, able to decipher the thoughts of his best friend without speaking, but he knew something about this place tonight was wrong. Something about James at this moment right now was wrong. He could feel it in his bones.
The tires of his bike touched the ground, and he paused for a moment, taking a breath and giving everything he had to convincing himself that James and Lily and Harry were alive and well just around the corner, that everything would be fine.
He advanced forward slowly, the roar of the motor reduced to a slow, deep rumble. Sirius swallowed and tilted the handle bars in his grip slightly to the left, making the turn, curving around the bend...
His eyes flitted up to the familiar house at the end- and what he saw pulled the air from his lungs. Because the house at the end was anything but familiar.
Sirius felt that the world was simply dropping away, leaving him suspended in the middle of this darkness. A strangled sound tore it's way free from his throat, half of it lost on the way out, but he heard nothing. He felt nothing but this overwhelming, consuming sense of horror. Horror at the sheer sight of what lay thirty feet ahead of him, horror at himself for allowing this to happen.
Sirius revved the bike and he could suddenly feel again; he felt adrenaline in his veins pushing him forward, felt the icy air in his face as he made a mad dash for the mangled, smoking, blackened structure that had once been a happy, warm, cozy, safe place, the very last place you would expect such horrible things to happen.
When he reached the front yard, Sirius leapt off the bike, leaving it to collapse on its side in the grass, and in that second, everything seemed to stop. He stood for a moment, reveling for a while in this shock and numbness. He took a great, shuddering breath and held it as he gathered himself, and slowly, shakily, he let it out.
Sirius took the image in, unwillingly committing it to memory, for he knew that it would haunt him every time he closed his eyes until the day he died. The Potters' home had exploded, and the explosion it seemed had taken place on the second floor, for the top right corner of the house was blown apart, as though something had burst forth and escaped from it.
This wasn't real. James and Lily were fine. They were with Remus, or Dumbledore. They'd been attacked and gotten away safely. They were not inside that house.
But these thoughts couldn't seem to penetrate the barrier that was this horrible, excruciating grief and pain rising slowly inside him. No matter how much he argued, a little voice in his head responded every time- you're wrong.
He shut his eyes tight against the sight in front of him. A steady hum of please, no, God, no was playing in his mind, and he bit back the tears that came with the inevitable knowledge of what was most likely lying in the wreckage in front of him.
Shakily, unsteadily, Sirius lifted a foot from the grass and moved it forward. Each step seemed heavier as he made his way to the front door, which was hanging on its hinges.
Finally, he reached the front step. Gingerly, he reached out his hand to push away the broken-down door, which squeaked, breaking the grim silence. He stepped inside the dark sitting room, which strangely looked no different on the inside than the last time he'd been here, allowing him to imagine that the top half of the house was perfectly fine.
He made his way through the room silently. When he reached the square of moonlight in the center of the floor from the front window, he cleared his throat and let the unasked question escape-
The sound of his own voice, rough and gravelly, startled him, and disturbed the quiet veil that had been draped heavily over this place. There was no answer. Sirius waited a moment, and continued on, dreading what he might find in the shadows.
As he neared the back hallway, he began to see signs of a scuffle. A chair lay overturned. A vase lay in pieces. Each visual sign that something in this house had gone horribly wrong felt like a knife to Sirius's heart.
He was almost to the hallway when he stepped on something and nearly tripped. Looking down, Sirius felt another pang of anguish in his chest. It was James's wand.
He reached down to pick it up, but stopped. He had to keep going. He had to know.
He rounded the corner into the hallway.
At that moment, Sirius knew what it was to break inside. Permanently.
He wanted to run forward, to collapse and fall apart and let the feeble dam he'd been constructing in his head over the past few hours burst, but he couldn't find the ability to do anything but stand. And stare.
Five feet away, James lay as still and quiet as everything within a fifty-foot radius of this house. He was on his back, his arms and legs bent at awkward angles, and his chest was unmoving. But the hardest part to take in was his eyes. His brown eyes, open and staring without seeing up at the ceiling from beneath his glasses. And his whole face, contorted into an expression of terror.
Sirius felt his breath coming in short, heavy gasps, and suddenly he snapped. He stumbled to James's side, crumpling in a heap as he felt the weight of everything crashing down on him. This could not be happening. This was not reality. He had to wake up from this hell, because James could not be gone, and he felt his own fists pounding against the sides of his skull, over and over again as the tears finally came- hot, wet tears that kept coming and didn't stop.
He focused his sight, shaking with suppressed, awful pain, and slowly lifted his hand to touch James's face. His skin was cold. He was dead.
A vicious stabbing sensation took place in his chest at the thought of the word.
James Potter, his best friend, his brother, was dead. The man he'd known since he was eleven, the first real friend he'd ever made, the man who'd taken him in when he'd shown up on his doorstep after he'd left the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black for good.
Sirius couldn't move; he felt frozen, stuck to the floor. For a long time he sat there at the foot of the stairs, his back against the wall, his best friend in front of him, feeling nothing except this overwhelming grief that tore at him relentlessly. The silence was reverberating in his head, and he kept looking into James's eyes, willing them to move, physically willing the messy-haired, Quidditch-obsessed, thin and gangly git in front of him to sit up and yell got you! and tell him it was all another prank and that they'd better get back under the cloak and back up to Gryffindor Tower before McGonagall caught them out of bed, and that Moony was probably worrying, and that they had an essay for Slughorn to finish, and that maybe Evans would give them a hand if Remus asked her to, and maybe then she'd agree to go to Hogsmead with him when she saw how brilliantly intelligent he was-
Sirius was jerked back to the present. Lily.
For a wild moment, hope burned brightly and blindly in his chest. Maybe she'd managed to take Harry and get out, maybe she was okay...
But as he looked into James's cold, pale, very- very dead face, and up the stairs to the top hallway where the walls were becoming increasingly blackened, he knew this wasn't true. He could feel it, like ice water snuffing out a flame.
Sirius looked at James. He didn't want to go upstairs. He didn't want to stand and pull himself into that wreckage and face more- more of this. But even as he thought this, as he looked into James's lifeless eyes, he saw a hundred memories of Hogwarts, of late nights by the common room fire, of pranks and jokes and detentions, of full moons, of celebrations and triumphs and defeats, of Order meetings, news brought of disappearances and murders, of grief, of good and bad times, of friendships... As memory after memory of the greatest friendship he'd ever know flashed in the glint of his best friend's dead eyes, Sirius knew he owed it to James, who had given him so much to live for.
A sort of determined finality shuddered its way through his veins, strengthening him.
"James," he whispered, shaking slightly with the thought of acknowledging what had happened out loud.
"Prongs... I- I'm so sorry."
Sirius reached out a hand and gently removed James's glasses. One last time, he looked into the familiar deep brown irises. Then, hesitantly, he pulled them closed.
Sirius placed James's glasses back on his nose. He pushed himself back to his feet and stood looking down at James for another long moment. Mechanically, he turned and lifted one foot, placing it on the stairs. Then the other. Each step hurt as horribly as though he were tearing his very soul into pieces, for he knew a piece of it would always be there next to James, at the bottom of these stairs. No matter how healed he looked or sounded or felt, he'd never be fully whole again. He stared straight ahead. He did not look back.
But gradually, the blackened walls of the second floor came closer, and Sirius felt that awful anxiety smothering him once more, stripping away what little strength his memories had given him. He wanted to turn and run back the way he came, down the stairs and out through the front door again. He wanted to fly away from here. He couldn't do this. Not again.
For James, he thought before he could turn around.
Finally, he reached the hallway. The walls, ceiling, and floor were crumbling and burned, and Sirius wondered vaguely through his grief and fear what had taken place- surely, the- the Avada Kedavra didn't cause this much damage? The thought of that awful curse made him stumble a bit; the thought of it, the thought that James had probably been backed into that corner, the image of him standing there, wandless and staring into the face of the most feared Dark wizard for a hundred years, closing his eyes against the blinding green light, the last thing he would ever see as the life was wiped from his body-
His feet stumbled, his steps became uneven, and he bent down, placing his hands shakily on his knees as he felt the agony sweep over him like a gust of stormy wind, immobilizing him, stealing the air once more from his lungs and slamming into him so forcefully that he thought he might die with the pain of it. He wanted to scream and yell until this thing reversed itself. He couldn't do this. He wondered vaguely if this was what the beginnings of a panic attack felt like; he couldn't breath, he couldn't stand, and he thought that it must be similar to this, because this was too much to bear- he couldn't physically and mentally and emotionally feel anymore than he did right now, and yet he was still being hit on all sides by this, over and over again like the waves of an angry ocean who's sole purpose was to rob him of everyone and everything he loved, one after the other until he had nothing left. His best friend's dead body was lying ten feet below him, and his best friend's wife was probably in the next room with his godson-
Oh, God. Harry.
No. Not Harry. Sirius jerked himself upright and ran, stumbling through the hallway and tripping over rubble until he reached the doorway at the end. He burst through and stopped.
Some of the ceiling was open to the night. The room was cold and drafty.
But the first thing he saw in his mad dash through the doorway was a splash of red on the blackened carpet.
He thought his heart had stopped in fear. But it was with some small measure of relief that he realized it wasn't blood that was staining the floor. It was hair.
The relief was gone in a split second as he registered what was in front of him.
Lily lay face-down on the floor, the long, fiery red hair that James had always loved spread out around her head. Her hands were resting on either side of her face which was turned towards Sirius, and her eyes- why was it the curse always caught them open?- her vivid, bright green eyes gazed as unseeingly as her husband's at the door, at the very spot where Sirius stood rooted in place, staring almost defiantly right back at her.
He moved slowly across the room, more composed than he had downstairs. When he reached the spot where Lily lay, he lowered himself to the ground, just looking at her.
Gently, Sirius reached out and gathered Lily's bright red hair as he turned her over onto her back, cradling her head in his lap and sweeping the long locks over her shoulder.
Slow, silent tears streamed down his face as he grieved for her, the woman he loved like a little sister, whom he'd protected almost as fiercely as James had. It was worse than the Cruciatus Curse, seeing her so broken. For some strange reason he thought of the way she'd hated him, years ago, back when he and James had been egotistical idiots, and he almost laughed through his tears.
He'd felt the beginnings of anger downstairs, when he'd seen James, but the feeling had been suppressed by his shock and grief and by the terrible sadness. But now Sirius could feel it peeking through, making itself known. It was a poison, like the slow, grasping flames at the start of a fire, a fire that would rage out of control if he wasn't careful. But Sirius didn't want to control it, because it was one thing to see so many lives lost, to murder families and fathers and mothers and children, but to destroy something as beautiful and innocent and lovely and good as Lily Evans, to take the life out of her, that was something that demanded punishment. Revenge.
Sirius could feel the need for it rising within him, anger and hatred beyond anything he had ever known beginning to take over his mind. But as he stared into the dead eyes of Lily Evans, he could feel himself breaking again. He let the pain wash over him, gritting his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut against the tears that leaked from the corners. He lowered his head until his forehead was resting against Lily's, and, clutching her to him, he began to sob.
Sirius froze where he was, holding Lily to him, but his eyes snapped open. He was quiet. Had he imagined it?
Sirius whipped his head around. Behind him, in the baby crib against the wall, Harry was standing, grasping the bars with his small hands, and watching Sirius with a mildly curious expression.
Weakly resting Lily on the floor once more, Sirius rose without thinking, grasping the bars of the crib to pull himself up haphazardly, and quickly, wildly, fiercely, he reached down to scoop his godson into his arms, clutching him against his chest, a hand on the back of his head as he felt the warm, wonderful, amazing relief flood his senses, because by some mad incredible miracle, Harry was alive. He heard his own voice muttering "Thank you, thank you, thank you," over and over again as more tears found their way onto his cheeks, tears still of grief, but now also of happiness and of the sheer exhaustion that he could suddenly feel again.
After a few moments, Sirius brought Harry back to look at him more closely. His breath caught in his throat when he saw the bloody gash on the baby's forehead. Harry didn't seem to be in any pain; he cooed and waved his hands, smacking Sirius gently. Sirius couldn't hold in a small laugh, but he still moved his hand to lightly touch the cut. Harry didn't react except to suddenly drop his smile.
The cut was shaped like a lightning bolt. As the tip of Sirius's finger brushed gently over the mark, Harry held his gaze, and as they looked directly at each other, Sirius thought for a moment that he could see something else in Harry's eyes. They were exactly the same eyes as the ones of the woman who lay dead on the floor next to them.
"Oh, Harry," Sirius whispered, broken, lost, feeling every ounce of the loneliness that he knew the boy in his arms would now live with the rest of his life. "I'm so, so sorry."
Once again, he held his godson to him, and as he did so, he gazed around the room, at the demolished ceiling that opened to the dark sky above. What in the name of Merlin had happened? How was it that Harry was- miraculously- alive?
"Siri!" The childish, broken syllable brought Sirius back into the room, and it was suddenly as though he were remembering everything again for the first time. The air in his lungs came rushing out. He bit down hard on his bottom lip as the pain threatened to burst out again.
No, his head commanded. You have to hold it together now, it said. For Harry.
At the thought of his godson, Sirius opened his eyes once more to look at Harry's curious gaze. He looked so much, so much like James- Sirius knew that once Harry reached his teenage years, the two would be practically twins.
Would have been twins, another voice cut in. James is gone.
Sirius shook his head to distract himself, and began bouncing the child on his hip.
"Let's get you out of here, shall we?" He said as happily and carefree as he could to his godson. His voice shook with the effort of speech; it was the longest sentence he'd managed in hours, probably in days. Or maybe it was from the strain of emotion on his shoulders- emotion he refused to let himself feel anymore. He'd grieved; it was done. Over.
Except it's not, the second voice whispered, taunting, provoking. You know who's responsible.
He shook his head again- No. He wouldn't think of it now. He refused to defile the memories of his best friends by giving a single thought to that scum while still in their home, while holding the son they'd trusted him with in his arms.
There's time later.
Sirius took another look around the room, and was about to walk out when he remembered Lily.
He glanced at Harry in his arms. The boy's head was resting on his shoulder; he couldn't see.
Sirius turned to the woman on the ground and felt another stab of heartbreak in his chest, more distant and dull than before, but still present.
Gently, Sirius caressed her soft, beautiful face. He took one last long look into her vivid green eyes, eyes that had looked at him first with scorn, then tolerance, and then, eventually, trust. And love. He pulled them closed.
Sirius rose and walked out of the room. If it hadn't been for Harry, he didn't think he would have made it; the boy in his arms reminded him of what needed to be done, kept him going- he was all that was left.
He paused at the top of the stairs. He'd almost forgotten about James.
Sirius took a shuddering breath and steeled himself to continue. He felt Harry's short, small breaths against his chest, and somehow, the feeling strengthened him.
He started down the steps, one by one. He pressed himself as far into the left wall as he could to avoid stepping over James's body, holding Harry tightly against himself.
Sirius stopped where he was, feeling as though his heart might break.
Though every part of Sirius was screaming at him to keep walking, to get out of this house as fast as possible, he couldn't help but turn to look at James once more. Harry was leaning away from him, reaching with his arms as though waiting for James to stand and give him a goofy smile and sweep him into his arms and out of Sirius's. How could he do this, just stand here and wait for Harry to realize that his father wasn't going to wake up?
When James continued to lay motionless, Harry started reaching more urgently, sounding less excited and more aggravated, and Sirius was frightened that his godson would start to cry, because he didn't think he could hold it together any longer if that happened.
So he tried the first thing that came to his mind; he began bouncing Harry on his hip once more, making soft noises of comfort as he waited with bated breath for him to calm down.
Harry stopped making noises and looked at Sirius, who could tell the boy wasn't satisfied. So he spoke.
"It's- it's alright, Harry," he said, quietly, but with meaning. It was almost as if he were trying to comfort himself just as much. "Daddy knows you're upset, and- and he wants you to know he'll watch out for you."
The words sounded dull, even to Sirius, and apparently to Harry as well, because he hadn't lost that puzzled expression. But at the same time, Sirius felt that they were true.
"He- he was a good person, your Dad," he said. It hurt, it hurt so much to speak about James in the past tense, to finalize the fact that James was now a was and no longer an is. But he went on. "Your Mum, too." He looked at James, and against his will, tried to imagine what life would be like without him, without Lily. Was there even a point to it anymore? Would he and Remus remain friends? Of course they would. If Sirius could get the werewolf to forgive him for ever suspecting that he could somehow be capable of this. But things would not be the same. No. They would never be the same now that Prongs was no longer there, egging them on with that excitement that made him a Marauder. Now that Lily was no longer there to smack him upside the head and call him an idiot with that look in her eyes that clearly said don't stop being an idiot, or I'll hit you again. They were gone, and they weren't coming back, and he didn't, couldn't fathom what that would be like. He wasn't ready.
But, the voice spoke again, you are ready to make this right. To get revenge. That's where you go from here- after him.
The anger was back, hot and poisonous inside him and fueled by that thought: After him.
Sirius nodded to himself. He would leave Harry with Remus, and then he would go. Alone. He had to kill Peter. Just him. No one else. Him.
He was startled back to the hallway by this thought. Peter had been their friend. Wormtail. A Marauder. He'd been there with them for Remus, had put his arm around the werewolf in comfort like they all had. Lily had called him Wormy. He had held Harry the day he was born. He had always been there. Peter. And he had killed James and Lily. He had sold them to Voldemort. And Sirius could feel nothing for him but hatred. Pure, sharp, unwavering hatred at the thought of him, out there and alive when James and Lily were not.
He could do it. Because Peter was not one of them anymore.
A sudden weight on his shoulder brought him out of his dark thoughts. He looked down and saw Harry's head, tucked in the space between his shoulder and his jaw. His eyes were closed, and he was breathing deeply.
Sirius sighed and pressed his lips to the top of Harry's head and adjusted him slightly in his arms.
He looked at James once more.
"Bye, Prongs," he said. "Thanks."
Sirius turned and walked down the hallway. Tears were streaming slowly down his face.
He walked back through the house, through the sitting room, through the square of moonlight from the front window, and through the front door hanging on its hinges. He didn't look back once.
Sirius stepped through the grass towards his motorbike, where he'd thrown it on the ground. It seemed like hours ago.
He was just looking down at his godson as he walked, trying to decide the best way to hold him as he flew, when he glimpsed movement out of the corner of his eye.
Immediately, Sirius reached for his wand, positive that Voldemort had realized Harry was still alive and had come back to finish the job. But when he whirled around, pointing his wand and covering Harry as best as he could, he was surprised and enormously relieved to see not Voldemort or a Death Eater, but Hagrid.
"Sirius! Hey, it's on'y me!"
Sirius lowered his wand. He looked blankly at Hagrid, as though he wasn't quite seeing anything in front of him.
Hagrid was looking past him though, at the Potters' destroyed home.
"Blimey, look at the place… Sirius, is- is it true? W-what D-Dumbledore tol' me? J-James an'- an' Lily, are they-?"
Dumbledore knew? How had he found out so quickly? And he couldn't even be bothered to show up? Sirius said nothing, just continued standing there, staring, tears still trickling down his face, and Hagrid seemed to take his silence as an answer. He threw back his head and howled a heartbroken cry, and Sirius, though he was feeling the same, was shaken out of his stupor enough to remember that if the Muggles happened to hear Hagrid's cries, it wouldn't look good for them to be found standing out front of a demolished house holding a baby stolen from the wreckage.
"Hagrid! You'll wake the Muggles! Be quiet!"
Hagrid seemed taken aback by Sirius's lack of emotion, but stopped howling. Sirius couldn't let any of the grief and pain he felt escape, not in front of anyone; that was something for him alone, and if he couldn't show his true feelings, he couldn't show any feeling at all.
Hagrid seemed to understand, though. He continued to sniffle and gasp in obvious disbelief and sadness. Sirius still said nothing.
"S-sorry," Hagrid managed, "B-but how? How could this 'ave 'appened?" He seemed lost for words.
"Oh, trust me, I know exactly how it happened," Sirius spat in a sudden rage. Hagrid didn't inquire yet, sensing that Sirius wasn't in a fit state to speak, and the two of them stood there for a few moments, moments that felt like hours, staring at the house and reveling in each other's grief.
Eventually, Hagrid shifted beside him. "Well… well I suppose I'll take Harry now."
Sirius froze. "What?"
"Dumbledore's orders," Hagrid explained gravely. "I'm ter take Harry off ter his Muggle relatives."
Sirius couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. "What?" Harry was his responsibility, his. Lily and James had made him Harry's godfather. If something happened to them, which it had, then he was to be trusted with Harry, no one else. Dumbledore could kiss his arse if he thought Sirius was going to allow this.
And then something else dawned on him. "Wait- did you say Muggle relatives? As in… Petunia?" he asked in rising horror. He'd had the displeasure of meeting Lily's sister and her husband only once before, and he wasn't eager to repeat the experience. And Dumbledore wanted her son to be raised by that creature?
Sirius shook his head. "No. I'm sorry Hagrid. I'm Harry's godfather, I'll look after him. Dumbledore can trust me. I can explain."
Hagrid didn't seem to have caught that last part, for which Sirius was relieved; apart from himself, James, and Lily, nobody had known that Peter had been their Secret Keeper. Not even Dumbledore. And that meant- that meant Dumbledore must think him a murderer.
"Sirius… Dumbledore's got a plan," Hagrid tried to explain. "I don' know what it is, no one does- but he's never steered us wrong before. Yah gotta let me take him."
Sirius was still shaking his head. Harry needed him. How could he break his promise to James and Lily and send their son off to spend a life with a family who wouldn't even want him?
But he thought about Hagrid's reassurance; Dumbledore never had let them down before. If- if Dumbledore of all people thought this was the best way, then- then was he in any position to argue?
And he had yet to go after Peter. That was a given in this whole thing. Whether Harry went to the Dursleys or not, Sirius would have to leave him behind anyway to fix this first. And if Dumbledore thought it better to leave Harry with the Muggles than with Remus, surely he had a reason, right?
Are you listening to yourself? That other voice argued again. You're actually considering this. How could you? How could you betray James that way?
I didn't betray James, he argued back. He did. Not me. And I've got to fix this. He had to show that to Dumbledore. Then he would return for Harry, once Dumbledore had seen the truth. Once everyone had seen the truth.
Hagrid was still waiting expectantly. Sirius let out a long breath and closed his eyes.
Gently, he hugged Harry to his chest tightly, but didn't wake him. Quietly, so Hagrid wouldn't hear, he whispered to his godson, "This isn't goodbye, I promise. Everything will work out." Again, he felt as though he were reassuring himself as much as he was reassuring the boy in his arms. "You're not getting rid of me forever."
He pressed his lips once more to the top of Harry's head, and hesitantly handed him to Hagrid, who cradled his godson gingerly inside his gigantic overcoat. The baby looked even tinier than he really was in Hagrid's vast embrace.
"Right then, I'll be off," Hagrid said. Sirius got the impression that Hagrid was avoiding looking at the house. He didn't blame him; he was too. "Sirius- you'll be alright?"
Sirius kept his eyes locked on the bundle that was Harry in Hagrid's huge hand. He tried not to think about the house behind him, about what lay inside. He knew someone, Dumbledore or Remus maybe, would arrange for the bodies to be taken care of properly. But Sirius couldn't. He couldn't imagine going to a funeral, making it that final and official. He couldn't think about the past hour, how everything he knew had simultaneously come crashing down around him. He couldn't think about the days that were sure to come either, searching for Peter; he didn't know what he would find, what else he might discover, what else might change. All he knew for certain, all he could rely on, was this moment, knowing and yet not being quite sure if Harry would be okay, if he was making the right choice. But he knew one thing for certain: James's and Lily's deaths, the deaths of his best friends, would not go un-avenged.
"Yeah," he said. "I'll be fine."
Hagrid looked like he understood the meaning beneath the words, that Sirius was nowhere near fine- but he would be. Eventually.
Sirius looked around. "Here," he said, reaching down and grasping the handlebars of his motorbike and wheeling it towards Hagrid. "Take it. I won't need it anymore."
Hagrid looked shocked. "Are- are yeh sure?"
"Yes," Sirius said firmly. "Take Harry to the Dursleys. And Hagrid- keep an eye on him for me, will you?"
Hagrid took one handle of the bike from Sirius's grasp, still holding Harry with the other hand. He seemed unsure at the almost final tone to Sirius's voice. Sirius stepped back. He just knew that after today, after this, things would change. Permanently. He already had.
Hagrid swung one leg over the bike, and started it up. The loud roar filled the otherwise very empty night. "Right," he said, "I suppose I'll be seeing yeh soon, then."
Sirius nodded stiffly. Hagrid revved the bike, and Sirius watched as he steered it one-handed down the street and up into the night sky. He was still and silent until he could no longer hear the rumble in the distance.
Very alone, he turned one last time to look at the little house in Godric's Hollow, a place once full of happiness and laughter, the very last place you would expect such horrible things to happen. He thought of James lying at the foot of the stairs inside, and felt his heart give a painful jolt, but he wouldn't allow the tears now. He had a job to do.
"I'm sorry, James," he whispered brokenly. "I'll make this right."
And, taking one last long look, Sirius turned on the spot and Disapparated, not quite sure where he was going, just knowing he was going with a purpose, that the order of things from here on out depended on whether or not he succeeded. That Dumbledore and Remus must know the truth. That Harry was counting on him to keep a promise.
I promise, Harry, he thought. And I keep my promises.
And there you have it! Please let me know what you thought in a review! And don't forget to leave a story request as well? ;D ;D ;D ;D Thanks so much for reading!
~Bailey xx :D