A/N: Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Sirius Black was sure of few things in life, although there were certain things that were a guarantee. Things he knew to be absolutely true. He knew that he would have never reconciled with his immediate family, although he liked to think that his brother might have come around eventually, if he had of lived. He knew that if his name was ever cleared, his life might improve, but it would never be what he had hoped for when he was younger. He knew that Remus J. Lupin, Moony the cranky sod, was the best man that he had ever known and that included James Potter and Albus Dumbledore. And he knew that he would always be there for Harry, no matter what and that if he had to he would lay down his life for him.
There were some days, stuck in Grimmauld Place, that Sirius would contemplate these truths, among other things, and find himself lamenting. This always led to nostalgic thoughts, which he would otherwise have liked to avoid as they drove him to drink and fits of melancholy. But when one is stuck, locked in the prison of their childhood torment, with only a Hippogriff and the occasional visitor for company, there is little else to do.
Which is how he found himself, once again, lying on the settee in the library, staring at the ceiling and trying to ignore the bottle of Fire Whiskey placed on the table opposite him. He had been imbibing since he was a teenager, but of late, he knew, it had started to become a real problem. He was sometimes tempted to ask that all the alcohol be taken from the house, but in the end he couldn't do it. It had become a crutch to ease the fatigue of his melancholy and he was damned if he could give it up.
Sighing he pulled himself up and grabbing the bottle, realizing it was mostly empty, although he had not drank from it that day, proceeded out of the library and down the stairs to the kitchen. Upon arriving he was surprised to find Remus poring over some pieces of parchment.
"Didn't know you were here."
His friend glanced up at him and he couldn't help noticing the fatigue in his features. Time hasn't been kind to either one of us, he mused as he plopped down at the table.
"When I came in, Kreacher was lurking about. I thought it better that I stay down here and keep an eye out. I know how he likes to secret away things and how much that irritates you. There's some tea on, if you want a cupa. I've just been going over these reports that Kingsley sent over." His eyes shifted to the bottle still in Sirius hand and he raised a brow.
Sirius, noticing, rolled his eyes, but laughed. "Don't fret Moony, I haven't given in to temptation today. I'll have some of that tea though; it might liven me up. What was Kreacher about?" He rose from the table and went to the stove, where he poured himself a cup of tea, Irish Cream from the smell of it. He took a scalding sip and sighed. "Moony, if you were a bird I would marry you, I swear." He waited to see what his friend would say and in his usual dry fashion, Remus did not let him down.
"Sirius, If I was a women, your probably the only one that would." Remus didn't look up from his papers, but Sirius could see that he was trying hard not to laugh.
"Yeah, well at least I would be good for something. I better see what Kreacher has been up to. I don't trust the little bastard when he's been so quite. You seeing him down here is the first I've heard of him in days. Probably up in the attic, or having a go at Buck Beak." He sat his cup down and made his way back out of the kitchen and back upstairs to search for the Elf. He hadn't gotten too far in his search when there was a thudding on the stairs and Remus appeared at the second landing; one look at his friends face told him something was amiss.
"Harry's in the fire. He says he needs to talk to you." For a brief moment a panic seized him, a fear that something was dreadfully wrong, but he pushed it aside as he followed Remus back to the kitchen.
"What is it?" he asked his godson urgently, as he knelt on the floor in front of the fire. " Are you alright? Do you need help?" He didn't care what Dumbledore said, if Harry was in trouble he would be out the door and to the School faster than you could say Merlin's saggy Y fronts.
Harry looked mildly sheepish, "No. It's nothing like that…I just wanted to talk…about my Dad."
He found himself exchanging a surprised look with Remus, who had also knelt down to Harry's level. And the surprise increased as Harry relayed why exactly he wanted to talk about his Dad; apparently he had seen some things, specifically a memory of Snape's, that had alarmed him. Sirius had not thought of that day at all since it had happened. It was, for him, just another day at school, although he did recall that Remus had been rather ticked off at him and James for the rest of the day. From Harry's tone and the fact that he felt it necessary to floo call, instead of using the Mirror he had given him, he knew that his Godson must be quite upset about what he had seen and yet he wasn't sure what to say to him about it. To an outsider it must have looked quite malicious and he supposed, now that he was older and some perspective, that perhaps it was. Thankfully, Remus seemed to be in possession of his wits.
"I wouldn't like you to judge your father on what you saw there, Harry," he said quietly, "He was only Fifteen-"
"I'm fifteen!" Yes, harry was definitely upset.
"Look, Harry," he started in a placating tone, silently cursing his younger self and James too. How did he explain this? Could he? "James and Snape hated each other from the moment they set eyes on each other, it was just one of those things, you can understand that can't you? I think James was everything Snape wanted to be- he was popular, good at Quidditch- good at pretty much everything. Snape was just a little odd ball who was up to his eyes in the Dark Arts, and James-whatever else he may have appeared to you Harry- always hated the Dark Arts."
Harry didn't seem appeased at this, "He just attacked Snape for no good reason, just because, well just because you said you were bored."
Yes, if Sirius could go back and congratulate his younger self on being a prize ass he would. "I'm not proud of it." Out of the corner of his eye he could see Remus giving him a sidelong look, as if doubting the validity of this statement or just surprised that he would admit it, before he too tried to ease Harry's upset.
"Look, Harry, what you've got to understand is the your father and Sirius were the best in the school at whatever they did-everyone thought they were the height of cool- if they sometimes got a bit carried away-"
Sirius snorted; Remus was always to kind in his remembrances, "If we were sometimes arrogant little berks you mean!"
This lead to some reminiscing, but Harry still seemed convinced that his father was an idiot.
"Of course he was a bit of an idiot!" Sirius informed him bracingly, "We all were! Well, not Moony so much." Remus may have liked a good prank, but he was never cruel.
Remus declaimed, but Sirius wasn't stupid despite the popular belief of many. He knew his friend well and he knew it was only fear of losing him and James that had stopped Remus from really acting all those times that they had gone after Snape. It hadn't, however, stopped him from making them feel ashamed quite a few times.
They continued to discuss the incident, talking about how Lily could have ended up with James, when the memory Harry had seen clearly showed her having nothing but disdain for him. Harry still seemed so disappointed in his father though; he was definitely a lot more like his mother in feelings, that was for sure. Still it wouldn't do for Harry to think ill of James, solely based on the memory of a man who was all too happy to have seen anything tragic befall the later.
"Your father was the best friend I ever had,"he said, " And he was a good person. Alot of people are idiots at the age of Fifteen; he grew out of it."
Harry seemed to be finally willing to let it go, so Remus took the opportunity to ask about how Snape reacted when he found out he had seen the memory.
"He told me he would never teach me Occlumency again," Harry replied indifferently.
"He WHAT?!" Sirius couldn't believe it. That slimy rat bastard, he thought, ready to jump into the fire and give Snape what for. How dare he? Did he not care about what was at stake?
"Are you serious Harry?" Remus, ever the reasonable one, asked.
When Harry reassured him that he was, Sirius decided he had heard enough. "I'm coming up there to have a word with Snape!' he declared, starting to stand. He couldn't wait to have a go at the slimy git; although most likely it would be best to talk to Dumbledore about it. He was, however, impeded in his righteous journey, by Remus grabbing him and wrenching him back down to the floor.
"If anyone is going to tell Snape, it will be me!" Remus said firmly, his grip on Sirius tight; he apparently wasn't going to chance the other man making a run for it. "But Harry, first of all, you're going to go back to Snape and tell him that on no account is he to stop giving you lessons- when Dumbledore hears-"
"I can't tell him that! He'd kill me!" Harry declared, outraged. Remus was firm though. He would have made a good father, Sirius mused, as his friend sternly continued, "Harry there is nothing so important as you learning Occlumency! Do you understand me? Nothing!"
Harry seemed annoyed at the telling off, but he agreed to talk to Snape and then he had to go as there was someone coming up on him. A soon as his head disappeared, Sirius and Remus were both on their feet.
"That bloody wanker!" Sirius swore, beginning to pace. "I knew it was a mistake to have him tutoring Harry! He knows how important this is; I bet he was waiting for the first excuse to back out." His eyes landed on the bottle of Fire Whiskey and feeling that he needed some outlet for his rage, he picked it up and threw it against the wall.
"Are you quite done?" Remus asked mildly, unaffected by his friends temper "Because, one of us should let Dumbledore know about this. I can go tell him in person, of course, but as Harry's Godfather, perhaps you should…"
"Bah! Fat lot of good I am as a Godfather! Here I am, stuck in this hell hole, unable to do anything of worth to help protect my Godson. I can't even bloody hash it out with Snape like a normal guardian would be able to. You go talk to Dumbledore Moony," he felt tired all of a sudden and he was wishing he hadn't thrown that bottle. "Even if I could, I would probably just end up causing a bigger issue."
"I don't believe that," Remus said vehemently. "I know that you can be the bigger man for Harry's sake. I've seen it. Look, I'll go talk to Dumbledore; you read through these reports King gave me. See what's of use to us. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Sirius nodded, sitting down at the table reluctantly. He could feel Remus staring at him, probably trying to make sure he was calming down, before he finally sighed and left the room. A few moments later he heard the front door close and he was once again alone, with his anger and melancholy. As he looked at the reports, he found himself thinking, I wonder if there's any Fire Whiskey left in the house…