The Reason I Fight
Harry Potter couldn't sleep. Tossing and turning in his bed in Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, he just couldn't relax. For as hard as he tried, he just couldn't get the image of the look on Sirius Black's face out of his mind, the look he had worn when he had seen the boggart posing as a dead Harry.
Never, in his entire life, had Harry seen anyone look so devastated, so haunted. And it was because of him. He knew that if his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, or Dudley saw him dead, they would celebrate and throw a party. If any of the neighbors saw it, they would breathe sighs of relief and thank whatever deity was out there that the "delinquint" in their neighborhood had finally met his end, and he wouldn't cause any trouble anymore. But Sirius ... Harry never thought he would see anyone care as much as Sirius had.
Something Hermione had said to him not that long ago also kept running through Harry's mind. She had made the comment that Sirius, in a way, wanted Harry to be expelled from Hogwarts so they could spend time together. She had said this because once his trial had passed, and it was known that he had not been expelled, Sirius's emotions had gone on a downhill spiral. He had been more sullen, not wanting to talk much to anybody, even Harry.
And then, tonight ... A cold shiver racked up Harry's spine as he remembered his own body lying there, green eyes wide open and glazed over with death. In that moment, he had looked like Cedric Diggory in the graveyard: shocked and full of fear.
And right now, Harry felt those same emotions. He knew he was alive, knew his heart was pumping fiercely ... but what if Voldemort killed him in the end? It was hard to admit it, even to himself, but he was terrified of dying. The look that had been frozen onto Cedric's face at the end ... Harry thought of death with that same fear. How was he supposed to fight Voldemort? And why wouldn't the bloody Ministry believe he was back? The more they didn't believe it, the less likely people would be prepared when he finally came out in the open, and then the world would lose more special people because of this monster.
Giving up on sleep, Harry got out of bed and put his clothes back on. He knew, instinctively, that after what Sirius had seen tonight, he would still be awake too. And right now, he knew that godfather and godson needed each other, they needed to brave the storm together.
Walking quietly out of his room as not to disturb Ron, who was snoring softly, Harry tiptoed to the room he knew was Sirius's and quietly knocked on the door. He heard movement from inside, and within seconds, the door opened. Sirius Black stepped out, also fully dressed, to see his godson standing there, the same look on his face that he knew was on his own. "Harry?" he said softly. "Harry, do come in."
So Harry did. He walked into the room, and looked around. He couldn't help but grin a little when he saw the pictures on Sirius's wall. There were images of Muggle girls wearing bikkinis, large Gryffindor banners, a picture of the four Marauders, and pictures of huge Muggle motorcycles. "Nice," he commented softly.
Sirius let out a small laugh. "They're stuck with permanent sticking charms," he said. "I did it to annoy my parents. They hated it as much as I knew they would."
Harry chuckled and moved to sit on the edge of Sirius's bed. Within seconds, the man joined him.
They sat in contemplative silence for several long minutes. Finally, Harry broke it. "Are you all right, Sirius?" he asked softly. "I know you were ... scared, with the boggart and all."
Sirius slowly turned to face Harry, and the boy saw that same haunted look he had seen him wear in the drawing room. "No," Sirius answered truthfully. "I'm not okay, Harry. What I saw there ..." He went silent again, the look in his gray eyes one of deep heartbreak and helplessness.
Despite his own fear, Harry laid a gentle hand on Sirius's shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I never meant ..."
"Harry, kiddo, don't you ever apologize," Sirius said, his voice becoming louder. "You have nothing to be sorry for, do you hear me? Remus tells me I'm torturing myself, and I know he's right. What I saw there was just a stupid boggart, and I shouldn't be obsessing over it. ..."
"But you're scared," Harry whispered. Plucking up all the courage he had, he went on, "Sirius, I'm scared too. I don't want to die."
Sirius took on a look of determination as he clasped Harry's shoulder roughly. "You're not going to," he said, almost angrily, but Harry knew the anger was not directed towards him. "I won't let you. I won't let that monster take anyone else from me. If it's the last thing I bloody ever do, I will protect you. I love you, kiddo."
Harry's expression grew shocked as he stared at Sirius. "I ... I've never had anyone say that to me before," he said quietly.
"I know, Harry." Sirius grew somber again. "I want to kill Albus for sending you to those brute Dursleys. I knew they wouldn't love you like you deserve. But kiddo, it's true. I do love you. And I know I've been a horrible godfather. Going after Peter, letting him outsmart me, landing myself in Azkaban ... I shudder to think what James would say if he could see me now, imprisoned here in this Godforsaken house."
"Sirius, you haven't been a bad godfather," Harry said, making direct eye contact with the lonely, broken man. "You couldn't help what happened. And I'm sorry that boggart scared you so much today. If it helps at all, I'll do all I can to stay safe. I love you too."
"Oh, Harry," Sirius said, his arms opening, inviting Harry in for a hug. "That means so much to me. You are the reason I still fight, Harry, the reason I am holding onto my sanity. You are the one beacon of hope I have in such a dark world. I know I've been distant and sullen lately, and I'm sorry. I ..." He suddenly looked down to the floor in shame. "Part of me was hoping you'd be expelled at your hearing, so you could stay with me. What kind of person does that make me, to hope you'd be cut off from all your friends and holed up in this damn place? Harry, how could you love someone as selfish as me?"
To his surprise, Harry chuckled and put his arms around Sirius. "It makes you a person who truly cares about me," Harry said softly. "I've been called a freak and a burden almost my entire life, and to actually have someone tell me they want me to stay with them ..." He trailed off, lost in Sirius's embrace.
"You are no freak, and you are no burden," Sirius said forcefully, a thousand emotions in his tone. "You are the light of my life. You know, when I escaped Azkaban and made my way to Hogwarts, you were all that kept me going. Knowing that I could find you, that I could tell you the truth ... you were all I lived for."
"Thank you," Harry whispered. "You're the best, Sirius. I've never known a braver person."
And for several minutes after that, they held onto each other, both with soft smiles on their faces. For now, all the nightmares, all the fear, all the uncertainty, was released from their minds, both content in the fact that they had each other, and that they would face their demons together. As Hagrid had said at the end of last school year, what would come would come, and they would face it when it did.