Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

A/N: This story has probably driven me insane; it was so hard to write. I'm not that pleased with the end result, but I hope you'll like it!

Written for:

The Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition, round 1 - write about a godparent/godchild relationship, using the prompts glitter, "laughter is the best medicine" and "beyond the darkness"

The Book Thief Challenge - quote: If they killed him tonight, at least he would die alive.

The Delirium Competition - quote: "It's like a razor blade edging its way through my organs, shredding me, all I can think is: It will kill me, it will kill me, it will kill me. And I don't care.", prompts: cannot use the word 'blood', present tense, no dialogue

The Acrostic-y Challenge of Chapter Titles Competition, letter R, using the prompt "roaming"

The word count without the author's note is 1242.


Recklessness has always been a part of his personality. Everyone says so. When he was in school, Remus would laugh and tell him that he was just too daring; in Azkaban, Bellatrix used to taunt him with his thoughtlessness through the bars on her cell; these days, Molly Weasley mutters it likes it's a disease and subtly pulls her children away from him.

No, that isn't fair. Sirius likes Molly. Mostly.

But perhaps he doesn't, to an extent, because she can step outside the walls of the house (prison) and he can't, and he's jealous of everyone who can do that.

Except Harry, of course. He can't ever be jealous of Harry, can't ever resent him, because Harry is James and Sirius loved James.

Remus says he's dwelling on the past. Harry isn't James, in fact he's much more like Lily, and Sirius should see that. Sirius is tempted to tell him that when you've spent ten years in prison while creatures feed on your memories you are going to live in the past a bit, and would Remus like to try it? But then he stops himself, because Remus and Harry are all he has left.

But Harry isn't here and he isn't here and he isn't here, and the knowledge seems to follow Sirius through the house of his ancestors and taunt him with their voices. How can he be sure that Harry is safe? Harry probably isn't safe – that Umbridge woman is hurting him, Sirius knows that, and what is he doing here instead of rushing to the school to rescue him?

He tries to convince himself that Harry is perfectly capable of taking care of himself, but then he sees James's face as he places his newborn son in Sirius's arms and he feels sick. He's letting James down, he knows it. James trusted him with Harry's safety, and what Sirius did instead was abandon him for years on end and then be trapped, helpless, while Harry gets to play hero.

Some days the bitterness rises inside him hard and sharp, like a razor with poison on its blade, and he knows that it can kill him and he doesn't care. Because why does everyone get to live out their lives with fresh air and fighting, while Sirius swaps prison for prison and wastes away inside?

He's heard that your childhood home is supposed to bring back fond memories. Roaming restlessly through the house, his heart feeling wrung out like a dishcloth, he thinks that nothing could be further from the truth. His mother's screams echo through its corners, and his father's cold indifference is mirrored in the blank walls, and Regulus –

But he can't bring himself to go near Regulus's room, and so he focuses his hatred and fury on his mother and father. Parents, he thinks, are overrated.

But that's not true, either; some parents are wonderful. He has seen the love and attention Molly and Arthur Weasley give to their children, and he remembers the way James and Lily looked the day their son was born, as if he was the only person in the world. They were radiant, beautified by happiness and love, and somehow he can't imagine that his own parents ever looked like that on the day he was born.

There seems to be something asymmetrically unfair about Harry's parents – who loved him so deeply – dying so young, while Sirius's parents lived for far, far too long.

But Sirius is alive, even though James and Lily are dead, and he has to take care of Harry. Harry has to be safe, whatever else happens. Somewhere beyond the darkness and fog that cloaks his pre-Azkaban years, he remembers. James and Lily would want him to keep Harry safe.

Whatever you do, keep Harry safe.

But he can't look after Harry, can't even go up to Hogsmeade for a visit, because he's a wanted criminal and Harry is too concerned for his safety. Sirius knows he shouldn't blame his godson, but still he imagines what would have happened if Harry could just be a little bit more like James: he'd grin and his eyes would glitter with mischief, and he'd disappear up the stairs to his dormitory to fetch the Cloak of Invisibility and begin planning their next adventure.

But despite the fact that Harry wears his father's face, in his bright green eyes Sirius can see Lily's caution and responsibility, and also a kind of tiredness that comes from holding the weight of the world on his shoulders. Some days Sirius just wants to reach out and hold him tight and make him all the promises his parents couldn't: I will protect you. I will give you a home. I will love you.

Merlin, he's seen so much, and he's only fifteen.

When Sirius was fifteen years old he was arrogant and thoughtless, and his only concern in life was having fun. It was in that year that he managed the Animagus transformation, and everything seemed shiny and new. Remus's transformations used to add a touch of sobriety to his careless life, and his family's cruelty served to darken it as well, but he was still happy. At fifteen years old, he had not yet sent Snivellus Snape to the Whomping Willow and smashed his happy little world to pieces – the Blackness which these days he fears so had not yet set in. At fifteen, he was poised on the edge of an abyss, but he hadn't fallen in yet.

Harry's already far, far down.

It occurs to Sirius that he has only very rarely seen his godson laugh, and this strikes him as something of an omission. Laughter is the best medicine, Remus used to say (back when they were still young and naïve enough to believe it) and surely it is Sirius's duty to make Harry happy. Is he failing?

He doesn't know. He doesn't know anything anymore.

He feels so claustrophobic, all the guilt and anger and frustration rising up inside him to stick in his throat and choke him. As the months slip by, he becomes more and more withdrawn, snapping at anyone who looks at him the wrong way and locking himself in his room to brood.

One day, when Sirius's tongue is too sharp and Remus's eyes are suddenly wounded, he realises that he may have gone too far. After that he makes an effort to reign in his frustration and control his temper (Remus and Harry are all he has left), but sometimes the feeling of helplessness becomes too much and he lashes out.

It's on one of these days, when Remus has actually walked out of the house in an attempt to get away from him and Tonks won't even come into the house for anger, that Snape of all people Floo-calls to tell him that Harry is in danger.

His mind is blank with terror and he knows that all his fears are going to come true, but underneath Sirius feels almost calm. At last, at last he will be doing something. If they kill him tonight, he will die alive. And when he opens the door and steps out into the square with the other Order members behind him, he manages a smile for the first time in months.

The guilt and the worry and the anger are falling away, and if he closes his eyes he can pretend to be fifteen again.

A/N: I'm really not too sure about the ending... Please review and tell me what you thought!