Thick, bear-like paws pounded into the ground as the beast hurried to reach the familiar spot on the outskirts of the forbidden forest. The dog spotted the bank of the lake and then searched for his usual hiding place. He burrowed deep into a pile of brush and dense vegetation, careful to not be seen, and then curled up and waited. He knew that Harry would be there soon.
Every night for nearly a month, Sirius had perched near the castle's grounds and observed his godson. Harry was nothing like he had imagined him to be. He expected to see a miniature James, with all the charm and boldness that his late friend had sported. The boy certainly had his father's hair, but that was where all the similarities between father and son had ended. Instead of the confident, and sometimes downright obnoxious, man that he had known, he found a quiet, timid child, that reminded him more of the miserable prisoners he'd seen during his captivity in Azkaban.
When he'd first seen Harry, he hadn't even realized who he was looking at. The tiny boy looked closer to age 11 than 13, and his features had not been distinct enough to distinguish his identity in the dark. He'd been intrigued by the young student who ventured out to sit on the edge of the water each night, but he had not wanted to risk blowing his cover, so he'd left the young wizard alone.
As time went on, and Sirius worked to familiarize himself with the castle and its inhabitants, he'd grown curious about what had become of his godson. He'd spotted him making his way to the greenhouse for herbology. The boy had been dragging his feet into the dirt with his head hung down toward the ground. He was trailing after a group of students, when another boy, a Slytherin based on the green stripes of his tie, shoved him harshly into the dirt. He'd heard a chorus of malicious chuckles and then the cruel shout of: "Watch where you're going, Potter!"
His canine ears had perked up at the name, and even from a distance he'd finally noticed the familiar features: the dark, wild hair and the dazzling, emerald eyes. It was his godson. He'd been watching Harry Potter for the last several weeks without even knowing it. But why was his godson so miserable? Why didn't he have any friends? Why did he look so lost? Sirius had no idea, but he was determined to find out. He'd fix all the problems in Harry's life as soon as Pettigrew was dead.
He didn't understand how the little rat had done it, how he'd been able to just sacrifice his friend's life at the drop of a hat. Peter had never been like him and James, or even Remus. He'd been a shy, awkward boy, but they'd still included him; he'd still been their friend. So, what had gone so wrong? He had transitioned from a quiet Gryffindor to a violent death eater. It didn't make any sense.
He supposed that the reason didn't matter. Peter had done it. He'd killed James and Lily. He'd taken twelve years of Sirius's life. That was unforgivable. He was going to kill the rat or die trying.
Then he could take Harry. He'd discovered that the boy was living with Lily's sister. Muggles were not an appropriate place for a wizard of Harry's caliber. As soon as the ordeal with Pettigrew was over, he could offer Harry a new life, a better life.
He had planned not to interact directly with his godson until the rat was dead, but his plan had changed on Halloween. From the castle, the boy had run. He had appeared more unnerved than usual, and instead of heading to the lake, he'd ventured all the way to the forbidden forest and plopped down underneath a tree. Sirius had inched closer, careful not to make a sound. He needed to know that Harry was alright. There were dangerous creatures in the forest, especially at night, and it was his obligation as godfather to protect him.
Harry had opened up a book, and for a few minutes, he just stared at the front cover. As soon as he turned the first page open, his eyes had filled with tears and they spilled over. Sirius was overcome with emotion at the sight of the little boy he had once known in such distress. The boy's body shook with silent sobs until he finally slammed the book shut and flung it aside. The book fell open to a picture of James and Llly on their wedding day.
At that moment, he realized that the night was Halloween, the anniversary of James and Lily's deaths. Harry missed his parents. He wanted to gather Harry in his arms and hold him close. The poor boy had never gotten to know the two amazing people in the photographs.
Sirius couldn't take it anymore. He had to comfort his godson. Without thinking about how the child would react to a monstrous dog jumping out of the bushes, he crept out of his hiding spot and toward Harry.
When Harry looked up at him, he was struck by the sheer sorrow that shown in his eyes. He looked broken. Sirius stopped in his tracks, and he was surprised when a whimper slipped from his mouth. Harry made no move to run. He didn't seem fearful at all. Sirius took another step, and then another.
"It's okay. I won't hurt you," he heard Harry say.
He was astounded by the boy's compassion. Instead of being worried about the huge mongrel, he was concerned. Sirius relaxed some. He bowed his head down to the boy and was relieved when he felt the child run his hands through his fur. Maybe he could be there for Harry after all.
That night, as he curled up next to his godson, he found a new sense of purpose. Every night since then he waited for Harry, and each time he saw him walking near, he was even more determined to finish Pettigrew so that he could restart his life.
He suddenly saw Harry creeping across the lawn. In his hand was a large bag, and Sirius's mouth salivated at the smell of the food bundled inside of it. His godson was a generous child, and he had been bringing food to the scrawny animal every night since their first encounter. Harry called out for him in hushed tones.
"I'm back. I brought you some food." He told the dog.
Sirius dashed toward him, his tail swinging wildly. It hadn't been easy for him to find food, and he was grateful that his godson was providing him with meals. Harry threw a bundle of food down, and Sirius eagerly gobbled it up.
Though Harry had warmed up to him, Sirius was disappointed that the addition of a new "pet" hadn't done much to raise his spirits. While the boy seemed to enjoy the canine's company, he still seemed gloomy and listless. Sirius just wished he could do more for him.
Sirius knew that if he were in his human form, it would be easier for him to help. Then he could communicate with Harry. He could ask him what was bothering him, and maybe he could find a way to fix it. But he couldn't do that.
Harry would be disgusted if he knew who hid beneath the Animagus form. The boy would take one look at the disgusting, flea ridden man, equipped with gnarled yellow teeth and wild bloodshot eyes, and he would run for his life. Harry would reject him, and Sirius wouldn't even blame the kid.
Sirius was pulled from his musings when Harry spoke up again.
"Why is everything so screwed up?" he whispered.
Sirius turned his face to look up at the boy, and Harry laughed mirthlessly.
"I know you can't understand me," he said. "But I guess that means I can tell you anything. I mean, it's not like you're gonna tell anyone."
Sirius was hanging on every word. Maybe he would finally learn something to help him understand what was going on with his godson.
"It's just they watch me ALL the time, and I'm so sick of it. First it was Ron and Hermione. Then McGonagill. And now Madame Pomfrey and even Snape are interrogating me!"
Snape? Sirius wondered. Surely, he doesn't mean Snivellus.
"Always making me eat. Why should I have to eat if I don't want to. How is that anyone's business but mine?"
He does look very thin… Actually, he looks worse than I do.
"I had to go to Madame Pomfrey's checkup today. I've even been making myself eat, but I still have to take the disgusting potions. I think she believes that I'm getting better though. The sooner I can get her off of my back, the better."
Sirius continued to stare in concern at the boy. He was worried that Harry's problems were even more serious than he feared.
Harry just continued on, rubbing the dog's ears as he spoke. "And if all of that wasn't bad enough, Malfoy is back at it again. I don't even fight back anymore. What's the point? I'd only get in trouble if I fought, and I don't care if I lose anyway."
Malfoy? Probably Lucius's son. I bet that's the little shit that pushed him.
"I'd still take Draco over Lucius any day," Harry muttered, and then buried his head in his hands.
Now, Sirius didn't know what to think. What would Lucius have to do with Harry?
"Maybe it will all work out for the best," Harry mused wistfully. "Maybe Lucius will just end it all. Then I won't even have to worry about it. Then I could stop seeing their faces and stop reliving everything. I just wish it would all go away."
The look on Harry's face made the fur on his back stand up. He needed to catch Pettigrew, and fast.
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