I'm sorry, this chapter was mostly written already. I honestly don't have any words, it's been 4 years. Enjoy, it's coming to an end thankfully, and thanks to whoever is still here. This story is about Family, redemption, forgiveness, and love.
Severus sighed as he moved to take a seat in the chair, only to stop and turn to look at the old man in disbelief. "You couldn't have mentioned this before I flooed over? I believe Harry is in the process of flooing Ron," he said honestly.
Albus frowned, even as his eyes continued to twinkle. "He still can see his friend, I just wanted to pass on a message that his cousin was expecting to see him today," he said honestly, knowing that Severus would get the silent message to go and get Harry.
Severus grimaced but moved to head back over to the floo, "I'll be right back," he muttered before he tossed the powder down and was swept back to his own manor. He was surprised as he stepped out of the fireplace to see Harry sitting on the couch alone.
"What are you doing back?" Harry asked in confusion, he had expected Severus to be gone for more than five minutes.
"Albus has just informed me that your cousin was expecting you to come to the school today. Where is Ronald?" Severus asked curiously.
"He didn't finish his holiday work and his mom found out, so he can't come today," Harry said with a sigh. He had finished his because Severus had insisted and he was honestly happy that he had.
"How about that, it all worked out, come on," Severus said as he reached his arm out for the teen to grab so they could floo together.
"Do I need my cloak or anything?" Harry asked curiously.
"No, I don't want you going outside, it's cold," Severus said simply.
Harry grinned but didn't say anything as he made his way over to his guardian, and tucked himself under the man's arm. He hid his face in the man's robes, that way he wouldn't inhale any soot.
Severus held onto Harry tightly as they flooed to Hogwarts, and landed smoothly in the headmaster's office. "Where is is cousin?" Severus asked once they were in the man's office.
"Waiting by the statue that leads to my office, hello Harry," Albus said with a wide smile.
"Hi Headmaster," Harry said with a smile of his own before he turned to head out the door. He wasn't interested to hear what they were talking about, especially since he was fairly sure that he was the current topic. Harry headed down the stairs, smiling when he saw his cousin standing right where the headmaster said he would be.
"Hi Harry, how are you?" Dudley asked cheerfully.
"I'm good and you?" Harry asked, still unable to believe the new relationship they had. It made him feel a bit bittersweet because it should have always been like this.
"I'm better now that you're here, the Headmaster said that there are loads of secret entrances in the school and that you know most of them. Do you think you can share some with me?" Dudley asked eagerly.
"Of course," Harry said excitedly, this he could do and he didn't even need the map for it. He started walking down the hallway, figuring he would tell his cousin about some so he could try to spot some on his own. He was so into his excitement that he didn't realize that they were being followed. By the time he felt that something might not be right it was already too late. He was pushed into an empty classroom that was devoid of portraits, but where was Dudley?
Harry pulled out his wand he could worry about his cousin later, as he heard the door lock as it closed. Before he could panic, he saw the spell fade away from the familiar form of his godfather, who looked a lot better than the last time he had seen him. Despite the fact that he knew who this person was, it did nothing to squash his fear.
Sirius looked at the frightened form of his godson, and sadly shook his head. He didn't say anything right away, making sure the door was locked and spelled. He didn't want their talk to be interrupted. This needed to be said, and then it would be done with. He put his wand away and held his hands up in a universal gesture that he wasn't going to harm him.
"I'm not going to hurt you again kiddo, I just need to talk to you," Sirius informed him.
"Yeah right, that's what you said last time," Harry said bitterly.
"I know and I'm so very sorry for it," Sirius told him sincerely.
Harry sighed softly as he slumped in the chair. "So why have you brought me here Sirius? Snape is going to realize I'm gone and he's gonna flip out," he muttered.
"I know, but after today he won't have to worry about me anymore," he promised.
Harry froze as he stared at his godfather warily. "What do you mean after today? What's going to happen?"
"I'm going away for a little while," Sirius told him softly.
"What?! Where are you going? When will you be back?" Harry asked worriedly his heart jumping into his throat.
"It's really not important for you to know kiddo. Just know that I need to do this, and it's better this way," he said gently.
"Better how? How is leaving me here better? Do you really not love anymore?" Harry asked quietly.
Sirius shook his head as his eyes stung. How could Harry ask that? Oh yeah, he had basically showed the boy he didn't love him right? He was a horrible godfather and he nodded knowing that his idea was a good one. It had to be done.
"Braden says that if I really love you as much as I say that I do, then...I should you let go. And when the time is right you'll find your way back to me. Love beats all, or something he said. So, I'm going to let you go, you can have Snape. I'm not going to pretend I understand what you see in him, but all hatred aside. I do know he's a good man, rough around the edges, but he knows how to protect you. I'm sorry Harry, I hope that one day you find it in yourself to forgive me. And I know I shouldn't expect this but I do hope one day you'll find me again," Sirius told him gravely.
Harry stared at his godfather in horror. "No," he breathed out, at the implications of the man's word. He moved away from where he had backed into the furthest wall, and slowly walked to his godfather. He was leaving him?
Sirius blinked back the tears, swallowing thickly as pulled the boy to his chest as soon as he got close enough. "Just remember that I love you so much, nothing will change that. Not the distance, or what anyone else says, you're the reason I'm fighting," he told him firmly.
"Why do you have to leave then? It's not fair," Harry cried out.
"Life is rarely fair kiddo, I need to do this," Sirius told him solemnly.
"Just don't get caught," Harry whimpered out, not wanting anything to happen to the man.
"I'm planning on it," Sirius said lightly as he pulled back to look at the child.
"What?" Harry asked horrified now as he gazed into his godfather's face hoping he was joking.
"Britain didn't give me a trial, but there are other branches of Ministry of Magic's all over the world. I'm going to get my freedom," Sirius told him earnestly.
"Does Remus know?" Harry asked softly
"No, and he won't know. He doesn't believe in me anymore, Moony doesn't care for Padfoot anymore. I don't blame him but I'm on my own now kiddo," Sirius told him sadly.
"I believe in you," Harry whispered out.
"I know you do; you have a good heart. And that's why I don't deserve you," Sirius said softly.
"Yes you do, everyone deserves love and you deserve this second chance. Just promise to come back for me. I won't know where to look for you, if you don't," Harry told the man, as his eyes overflowed with his tears.
Sirius nodded as he sniffled in the boy's hair. "I will. I love you so much Harry, that will never change," he promised.
"Stay safe," Harry said as he hugged the man tightly one last time before pulling away from him, his arms going to hug himself in self comfort as he tried hard to get control of his emotions.
"I will come back for you, that is a promise that I have no intention of breaking," Sirius said ruffling the boy's hair as he canceled the wards on the door before he left the classroom. He turned to look at the overweight boy who had been standing silently by the door the entire conversation.
"You take care of him," he muttered before he turned and headed towards the exit of Hogwarts.
Dudley gave a small nod to the man, watching him walk out of the door before he turned and made his way to his emotional cousin.
Sirius sighed, turning to look back to find the two boys hugging, his throat closing up at the thought that he had caused that. He swallowed thickly wanting nothing more but to run back into the room but he had a schedule to keep. He stumbled suddenly as he pulled away from the door, as his legs threatened to buckle underneath him. He would have fallen to the floor if the arm appearing around his waist hadn't caught him, enabling the spell again.
"Easy Sirius," Braden whispered out softly to the man as he helped to steady him, helping him gain his balance. He knew how stressful that had been for everyone involved, but it was over for now.
"I'm never gonna see him again," Sirius choked out tearfully as he leaned heavily on his healer. He was walking away from Harry and never coming back.
"Yes you will, you will see your godson again I promise you that. This trip is going to make all of this worth it, I know it doesn't seem like much now but I promise you it will get better," Braden said soothingly. The healer pulled out his wand and quickly canceled the spell that had rendered him invisible. It gave everyone involved or just Sirius a since of comfort to know that he wasn't alone, and it had helped in the room. He hadn't needed to step in at all, Sirius was well on his way to recovery.
Sirius nodded quietly obviously upset with himself, it truly felt like he was giving up on that young boy in there. But this did need to be done. "I'm okay," he said hoarsely.
"You are far from it, but I will be with you every step of the way to make sure you will be," Braden said quietly. He had decided when he had spoken to the Headmaster asking for permission to allow them to visit the castle. Sirius didn't need to be alone and he didn't think the man could survive if he felt like he was such. It wasn't difficult to find some leave when the Great Albus Dumbledore requested his services so his job wasn't questioning his disappearance.
Sirius gasped softly as he turned to look at his healer, a man he was starting to think of more as a friend. He didn't have a lot of those and a new one was definitely welcomed in his miserable life. "You're going to come with me?" He asked softly unable to keep the hope out of his tone.
"Yes I am, you cannot do this alone, nor should you. I will be here with you until you tell me otherwise," Braden said told him fiercely.
Sirius was touched at the man's words and he swallowed thickly in response to it, unable to form the words he really wanted to say. "I will never say otherwise," he promised him contritely.
"Then I will never leave you, even if you stop paying me," Braden promised him before he frowned that was one other thing he needed to do. "Matter of fact I had my assistant stop the payments coming from you," he added slyly.
"But…but I still need your help," Sirius said in confusion.
"You will still get my help, but you will also get my friendship in return. And I cannot in good conscious continue taking your money. It'll feel like you're buying my friendship and it won't be true. Besides I have more than enough," Braden said as they exited out of the castle with a sigh of relief. It had seemed like the longest walk ever and he knew the sooner they were away the sooner Sirius would feel less like returning to Harry.
Sirius was silent for a moment at the man's words, feeling a moment of relief that he wasn't alone in his journey for forgiveness. He stumbled ever so slightly yet again when they appeared sooner than he had expected at the boundary line of Hogwarts.
"Thank you," Sirius told the man quietly.
"Don't mention it," Braden said calmly as he hugged the man tightly as he prepared to apparate them to the airport. Sirius didn't know where it was, which is why they were going together.
Sirius hugged the man tightly in response his eyes taking one last look at the magnificent castle he had once called home before he felt them turn and quietly disappear with an inaudible pop.
Inside the castle a young boy mourned the pain as he felt that his godfather had truly left him all alone.
Dudley watched the man leave, not saying much except he knew he would protect his younger cousin. Even though Harry was the same age as him, he was still smaller and at this moment needed protection. He would grant the man that request, only because he had planning to do it all alone. He felt kind of awkward but nonetheless made his way over to the younger male and hugged him tightly again him chest.
"Harry? Are you alright?" He asked quietly as he saw the other teen rubbing his eyes.
"Yeah, I'm good," Harry lied quickly, his face pressed into the other boy's shoulder as he gained control of his emotions. He mused inwardly that he didn't think he and Dudley had ever hugged before, it wasn't as strange of a feeling as he thought. "How long did we take in there?"
"Not that long, probably only ten minutes' tops," he replied easily.
"Oh okay, good. Snape tends to freak out if I'm late or something. He always expects the worse," Harry replied with one last sniffle before he pulled away from his cousin with a grateful smile on his face. His eyes weren't red, though they were just a bit shinier than usual.
"Parents do that, it's in their nature to worry. Don't sweat it," Dudley told him good-naturedly. "Besides he won't have noticed anything with his meeting with the Headmaster,"
Harry nodded happily as he wouldn't know but Dudley would, and he smiled as he made his way out of the room. He turned to his cousin curiously, since he found out at Christmas about why his cousin could see Hogwarts without a charm he had been wondering just how Dudley had been handling it. He just didn't want to see overly rude and ask but he figured it would be okay, especially since they seemed to be getting along better these days.
"How's your Occulmency lessons coming alone with Snape?" Harry forced himself to ask, unable to keep his silence any longer.
Dudley smiled, he wasn't perturbed in the slightest. It was a definitely inquisitive situation and the Professor seemed in disbelief at times as well. "It's coming along really well, the Professor is constantly surprised at how easily untangling my core is coming to me," he admitted.
"What are you thinking of when you do it?" Harry asked nosily but he didn't think the boy actually minded.
"Funny you should ask that, I'm actually thinking of you. How much you need protectors and how if I had magic and could be trained to use it, you have one more fighter on your side. You matter Harry not just to world, but to us as family. I know our pasts have been pretty bad but the future I think will be great and I want us both to survive whatever this thing is together," Dudley said firmly.
Harry stopped in the hallway to stare at the boy in awe and a little bit of shock. He couldn't stop the tears that welled in his eyes at the boy's words, and gave a watery smile to the boy in return.
"Wow," was all Harry was able to get out.
"Not wow, it's what I should have always done," Dudley said slowly.
"Maybe but it's good that you're doing it now," Harry pointed out before he frowned. "Does your mom know?"
"Nope, it's a delicate state of affairs regarding all of this. The Headmaster says she might need to see a healer to see where her mental state is. He doesn't think that she's truly the bad guy in this situation, not to mistake that she won't be held accountable for her actions, because she will. She knew what she was doing, but he also said he was responsible as well," Dudley said with a frown.
"Apparently there is a lot of blame going around," the raven haired boy said with a sigh.
"Which you may not take claim of any of it," the overweight teen answered quickly.
"I wasn't," Harry said weakly knowing he had been just about to state such. He so didn't want to bring out protective Dudley, that was right on par with protective Ron. Not to mention when they teamed up, it was like when did he gain two older brothers? He smiled at the thought knowing that he secretly liked how they looked out for him.
"You were but I'll let it go for now," Dudley said with a smirk, showing that he had been around the Professor for way too long.
"Are you going to be allowed to attend Hogwarts?" Harry asked curiously.
"Yes, the Professor seems to think that I can easily get integrated into the schedule if I keep coming along like I am. That way when the summer comes I won't be as tired when I really start using my magic as I would be. Not to mention if I study hard, I can easily catch up to my year mates which means I'll be in your classes," Dudley said proudly. He was looking forward to that, he knew if he truly applied himself he could do this, and Harry was worth all of this and so he would do it.
"Do you have a set day?" Harry wanted to know.
"He seems to think March I will be ready, and I believe him," Dudley replied happily.
"I wonder what house you'll be in?" Harry said curiously.
"Your Professor seems to think it might be Gryffindor, especially after what I did with Vernon. But I don't believe that, I'm not brave, far from it. All my life I've been a bully, always putting others down as I tried to fit into the mold my parents wanted me to be. Now that I can be who I want to be, I have no clue where to start. Though I'm inclined to believe Winky over anyone else's guesses. She thinks I'll make Hufflepuff easy," Dudley admitted happily.
"You'd be happy to be in that house?" Harry asked in disbelief, knowing that many kids were often horrified at just thought of being a Hufflepuff.
"Yes why wouldn't I be? It values loyalty over everything else, I value my relationship with you over everything and anyone else in this world. Wherever you go, I will no doubt follow you, cousin," Dudley said with a shrug like that small declaration was nothing special.
Harry swallowed thickly as he looked at his shoes trying to gain control of his emotions at the boy's words. It was clear that Dudley meant it and Harry was so very touched about it. It meant something great that his cousin thought so much of him.
"Where will you stay this summer?" Harry asked with a frown as he realized something. He also tried to fill the silence after Dudley's declaration, he had a feeling the other boy might be slightly embarrassed but who knows.
"At the Manor with you and the Professor. I'm a minor and it was recommended by my healer that I not go back into mum's care. Without Vernon there it might be better, but it might not be. What happens when she finds out about my magic, she might turn on me in her jealously," Dudley said with a sigh.
"Dad said you could come?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Yes, I asked him after it became apparent that the only alternative would've been with Marge and she is just like her brother. And I can't deal with that bigotry any more, and I won't ever stand for it again," Dudley said softly.
"Good you don't have too," Harry said quietly. "I'm so glad you're a part of my world now,"
"So am I," Dudley said kindly as they headed back to the Dungeon quarters.