Chapter I : Do Not Go Gently

[colloquial title : when Harry met Sirius ]

When the hospital had telephoned the Dursley's of number four Privet Drive, and told them that their nephew Harry Potter had been brought in by emergency medical units less than an hour before, the nurse who made the call was a little more than surprised by their outward lack of concern when she told them of his injuries.

Harry could remember hearing the phone call from where he lay; could remember the nurse's girlish voice as she explained to his aunt and uncle, in the most delicate of medical terminology, how he'd been essentially beaten and raped by an "undetermined number of attackers." He could remember thinking to himself that she needn't have bothered calling them, that they wouldn't care anyway, which turned out in the end to be true. He could remember lying beneath the fluorescent lights and shaking from head to toe, with needles in his arms and monitors beeping away somewhere behind his head, wishing that someone would just kill him, or at least hold his hand for a little while. He'd only been ten years old then; alone and in pain, and the memories of all that had happened to him that day had haunted him in nightmares nearly every time he closed his eyes since.

That was, until Harry met Sirius.

The first time he'd awoken crying, Sirius had held him in his arms for what seemed like hours - something no one had ever done before - kissing him and soothing him and stroking his hair until he could breath again, could close his eyes without the fear welling up in his stomach. Harry had told him everything that night; not just the terror of that one single day five years before, but the entire, pain riddled tale of his life with the Dursley's. The days of darkness beneath the stairs; of starving, crying, waiting to die... the years without kindness or affection or sometimes even acknowledgment of his existence, the daily torture of Dudley and his friends and the hopeless desperation of being alone - somewhere inside him a dam gave way, and all of it had come pouring out into the daylight for the first time in his life. And Sirius had listened to him. Sirius had let him sob out everything against his shoulder, never once interrupting him, and Sirius understood. Sirius loved him.

When at last Harry fell back to sleep, cradled safely against his godfather's chest, the nightmares had not come.

And they'd stayed away for over a year now; never daring to show their faces under the roof he shared with Sirius, within the walls of their warm little house. Though it gave him a start at times to wake up in his bed at Hogwarts - to roll over expecting the familiar warmth and weight beside him, snapping awake when it wasn't there - the Fear didn't come upon him anymore, not with the comforting consciousness of his dormitory around him and his Home not far away. Sometimes, if he couldn't fall asleep, he would crawl into bed with Ron, who'd let him drift off beside him and hold his hand. In little more than twelve months, a lifetimes worth of suffering had been pushed to the side in Harry, to make way for the love that had eluded him for so long. Halfway through his fifth year at Hogwarts, his godfather's name had finally been cleared, and the happiness Harry had found in the magical world had become complete their newfound home together.

Now it seemed, however, that all of it was about to change.

Harry had never thought twice about the difference of age between Sirius and himself. Love had never come to him in any form before; and now it had been given to him in its completion in one, single person. Never once had he questioned it; Sirius was beautiful in his eyes, was everything he could ever ask for - caretaker, companion, confidant, lover... Not even in the recesses of his subconscious had he ever thought of any of it as wrong; for how *could* it be wrong?

That very question echoed in Harry's head as he climbed the steps of the great Ministry building. 'How can this be wrong? And how can this be happening?'

It seemed that over half the magical community of Britain was gathered here today, outside the building where the Trial of the Century (as advertised by Daily Prophet headlines four weeks in a row) was scheduled to take place. Harry had been dreading this day for three months now - ever since the Ministry of Magic had taken up suit against his godfather.

...'unlawful and immoral relations with a minor'... 'failure to provide proper living environment'... 'statutory rape and sodomy in the first'... the list of accusations against Sirius had gone on and on. Harry would never forget the look on his godfathers face as he read over the scroll a surly looking screech owl had delivered through the window of their cozy little kitchen; the way the color drained away from his cheekbones, the wide-eyed disbelief, the tremor in his hand as he put his arm around Harry and let him read for himself.

"They can't be serious...?" Harry had asked, drawing up close to Sirius and pulling the scroll from his hands. He shoved his glasses up hard on the bridge of his nose... reread every word over again, as if they would change the second time 'round.

"I've never known the Ministry to be the joking sort, I'm afraid..", Sirius muttered quietly, and his expression said that there was more he wanted to voice, but his words trailed off into silence, and more words would not seem to come in their place. Perhaps there were no words for either of them, in that moment - only a sinking sensation in the pits of two stomachs... a distinct lack of oxygen to two sets of lungs, and two bodies pressed close, bound tightly in one another's arms in the soft lit little kitchen, by the dying light of day... two souls made one in love, unable to comprehend the curse on this single piece of parchment. And the last light died beyond the windows and the Scottish hillside beyond that... and finally, Harry whispered, " what does this mean?"

"It means that they want to take you away from me and haul me back to prison, that's what it means," Sirius said; his voice quiet, but the anger seeped into his words. He released Harry, striding across the kitchen with the summons in hand and tossing it in the waste bin. "It means the Ministry wants to make a mockery of me yet again." Dark eyes blazing, he lit a cigarette with the sharp *snap* of an old-fashioned cigarette lighter. Bluish-grey smoke curled before his face, pooled above his head in the half-light. "It means they're going to fuck us over, that what it means Harry."

"You're my legal guardian! My *parents* put me in your care, if anything ever happened to them. It was practically the last thing they did!." Harry could hear his own voice rising outside his head, but inside he was numb, detached as of then.

"That precisely the point in the end, Harry." Sirius's voice was flat, toneless, bitter. "They don't think it's 'proper' that your legal guardian has you sleeping in his bed with him." He flicked his cigarette in the general direction of the ashtray on the kitchen table, crossed his arms over his chest.

Harry found himself rising out of the chair in which he'd been sitting; without thinking, he snatched Sirius's pack of Rothman's off the table and lit one himself. The smoke was bitter, nearly stale - Sirius didn't smoke cigarettes all that copiously nowadays, with him in the house. Mostly when he was out in the garage, working on his motorbike, or polishing his giant, imported Monte Carlo with its beast like engine and louder-than-the-devil stereo... that was when he smoked. Harry shook his head sharply, exhaled slowly to clear his mind. "Its not like you *force* me or anything," he said finally, "'s my choice. I don't see how its any of their business."

"You know that, and I know that... but as far as the Ministry is concerned, you're not old enough to make that choice for yourself yet," Sirius told him, his tone of voice making it quite clear that he found this bit of information as absurd as Harry did. He reached over and plucked the half smoked cigarette from Harry's fingers, snubbing it out in the Wimbourne Wasps ashtray. "You shouldn't be smoking," and there was the parent in his voice. It made Harry want to cry.

"So what are they going to do with me? What are they going to do to *you*?" he whispered, letting Sirius take the cigarette from him without argument. The room was growing blurry before him, and he tried to blink back the tears in his eyes before they spilled over, but it was no good, and so Harry simply shut them tight behind his glasses. And a moment later, Sirius's arms were around him; Sirius's fingers were stroking his hair.

"I don't know, baby....", he whispered into his godson's hair. "I don't know yet. But I'm not letting you go without a devil of a fight, I can promise you that."

"They can't do this to us," Harry whispered, squeezing his eyes shut tighter and leaning into his godfather's chest as the full weight of their predicament came crashing down upon him at last. Sirius ran a few slender fingers over his face, lifted Harry's chin with them, cupped his jaw gently with his palm.

"It'll be alright, Harry..." he whispered, removing the glasses from the boy's green-on-green eyes, wiping the tears from his face gently with his thumb. Harry had a tendency to shy from hands around his eyes; but this was Sirius, this was his Everything.. this was the one person in whom he knew he could trust without question. These were the hands he knew best, the hands that knew *him* best, knew every inch of him by memory from endlessly tracing his bones in the dark... and as Sirius drew him up to kiss him, Harry could believe him when he told him that it would be alright. Everything's alright. Just kiss me.

And kiss him he did; one arm winding protectively around Harry's back and the other cradling his jaw as gently as one might touch a glass figurine. Harry could feel the soft, sure play of fingers up his spine beneath the thin cotton of his tee shirt; he could taste the taste of endless summer on his lover's tongue, feel the pulse of adrenaline that came from moments like these. Right now, he didn't give a good goddamn about the Ministry or anything they had to say. All he cared about was This; this moment, this person, this feeling of finally being complete. Sirius loves me. Maybe no one else does, but he always will.

Harry couldn't completely remember just how they came to rest on the couch in the living room; he only remembered the kisses and the touches, then the warmth of the fire blazing away behind the hearth and the feel of the soft, worn cushions against his back. He never worried about what happened to his shirt. He only knew that Sirius's hands were on him; Sirius's tongue was grazing his neck, his lips tracing an electric path around his collarbones. Harry let his head drop back against the pillows of the sofa, his breath quickening in his chest, catching in his throat now and then when those sacred fingers brushed just the right spot. With a complacent little whimper, he wound his fingers in Sirius's hair, let them trail down the back of his neck; but he found his wrists entrapped by warm, gentle fingers... bound softly in one strong hand and coaxed above his head with butterfly kisses. He did not mind when Sirius restrained him like this - there was never any cruelty or force to it, only loving patience and tenderness - and finding himself helpless to his lover's hands, he could not repress an involuntary shiver, an arch of his spine beneath the reassuring weight above him, as Sirius bound his wrists with god-only-knew-what. Something soft and unobtrusive and attached only with the aid of a few safety pins to the arm of the sofa; symbolic more than functional, for Harry felt no need to struggle.

"Sirius..." Harry found his godfather's name on his lips, somewhere between a plea and a prayer and no more than a whisper. And Sirius was smiling down at him; the gentle, brilliant smile that Harry had fallen in love with, full of wisdom and adoration. Harry lifted his head to catch those lips with his own, to nudge them open with his tongue and taste the love on them, to fall into that mouth and drown in these kisses. His efforts were received with passion, and he found himself pushed back down against the pillows; his head swimming, body alive with electric currents. He could hear his own soft moans as Sirius nipped at his skin, grazed his nails over the tender flesh of his abdomen. And then those fingers were at his belt; taking their time, seeming to savor each step of the intimate process, until they had loosened constrictions enough to creep downward past the waistband of his boxers. At the same time, the other five fingers smoothed Harry's damp hair back from his forehead; and Sirius kissed him gently, whispered "I love you," in his ear.

Harry was in Heaven.

And Heaven had the softest touch... the warmest brown eyes and the sweetest kisses. Heaven's hands were easing the last of his clothing down around his hips; Heaven's lips were trailing downward over his chest. Harry bit down on his lower lip with a gasp, let his head drop to the side against the pillows as Sirius's tongue traced the contours of the muscles in his stomach, as Sirius's teeth nipped softly at his bellybutton. For a brief moment he pulled his hands downward - but the safety pins did not give way, and Harry nearly cried out, his eyes snapping open for a moment. They'd held him down, hadn't they? When he was little, and They'd hurt him... he'd had bruises on his wrists then, when he'd gone to the hospital... bruises all over him, because They'd held him down. A spasm of the old fear shot down his spine, quick as lightening.

But there was no time for the Nightmare to further haunt him now; for no one save Sirius had ever touched him like this. No one else had ever slipped such gentle fingers between his legs, coaxed his thighs apart with such delicate kisses, so thoroughly explored the most intimate parts of him and made him shiver in his own skin like this... throw back his head and cry their name with his very heart in his voice, as their mouths pushed him ever further towards the brink of ecstasy. No one could touch his soul like this, could make him feel like this, except Sirius.

He didn't know how long it had been; how long he'd spent writhing and gasping beneath these sacred ministrations, how long the tears had been streaming down his face, or how long those lips and hands and tongue had taken him over body and soul. He only knew that, when it was finally over, he lay spent and shaking against the couch; his skin damp with both his sweat and his lover's, his breathing ragged. Harry tried to open his eyes, but even this was an effort. He heard Sirius rise for a moment but could not see him, and a shudder ran through him, involuntary and unwanted... yes, They'd definitely held him down six years ago; lots of different hands, all holding him down, clawing at him, hurting him... but before he'd pulled himself free of his restraints on his own, Sirius was kissing the tears from his face, releasing his wrists and drawing him into his arms... and Harry was safe again.

He snuggled close into Sirius's embrace, enfolded in warm arms and a soft flannel blanket to keep the chill off, and let Sirius stroke his hair, smooth his fingers over Harry's face. He was too tired to think of the Nightmares or the cursed mail that had come today; of the Fear, or the Sickness that had come with the summons... too tired now to think past the moment, now; and in this moment he was happy, complete... safe with him whom he loved, and who loved him back.

* *

He woke up in Sirius's arms.

They were still in the living room, curled up and entangled in an intricate puzzle of limbs and hair and blankets on the couch; last night's fire reduced to glowing embers in the fireplace and the soft light of morning creeping through the windowpanes, across the hardwood floors and woven throw rugs. Harry had no memory of having dreamed at all. He woke up from a heavy, tranquil sleep; woke up slowly, sliding into consciousness long before he opened his eyes and lifted his head an inch or so from the pillows. Instinctively, he felt around on the side table for his glasses - found them, miraculously enough, and shoved them blearily onto his face, half wondering how they'd made their way into the living room. As the familiar surroundings came into focus, so did the vivid details of the evening before, and the unbelievable news that had led up to this little escapade on the couch... left them sleeping here so peacefully, trying to forget.

Harry lay back again, snuggled deeper into Sirius's arms at the mere thought of it. His godfather was still asleep; his back propped against the back of the sofa, his body wrapped around Harry's in a protective embrace, his dark hair straggling across the pillows and his sharp, handsome features relaxed. As softly as he could Harry kissed his slightly parted lips - the gentlest brush of contact at first, then a bit more; and before he knew it, he was nudging Sirius's lips apart with his tongue ever-so-softly, trailing his fingers over his jawbone. With a soft, sleepy murmur, Sirius came awake beside him, or at least halfway so... enough to kiss him back and pull him closer, stretching as he did so.

Things continued in this manner for a few, quiet moments, until Sirius pushed himself up on one elbow, smoothed Harry's unruly hair back off his forehead as he looked down upon him with a sleepy smile. "Go take a shower. I'll start breakfast."

"Come shower with me," Harry told him, pulling him back down for another kiss. Sirius didn't protest, but when their lips parted he chuckled softly.

"The purpose of a shower is to get *clean* Harry."

"We can do that after!"

But Sirius had already risen from the couch; stretching his long, lithe form like a large canine and padding barefoot into the kitchen, running his fingers through his long, somewhat tangled black hair. With a sigh, Harry hauled himself onto his feet as well, wrapping a blanket from the couch around his waist and letting it drag behind him across the floor. He could already hear Sirius putting the coffee on; smell the cigarette smoke wafting through to the living room, which meant that his godfather still wasn't done thinking about what had happened yesterday. Neither was Harry, really.

Indeed - he found himself thinking about the summons all through his shower - replaying the previous evening like a video tape in his head as he washed his face, pondering their fates as he scrubbed the shampoo out of his hair, churning each circumstance, each possibility over and over and over again in his mind. He didn't bother getting dressed once he'd dried and brushed his teeth, shook the water out of his hair; rather he padded down to breakfast wrapped in a towel, agonizing over the idea of going back to Privet Drive.

"You're all ready for the day, now, aren't you?" Sirius teased, as Harry collapsed into a chair at the kitchen table, naked from the waist up and looking decidedly worried. Sirius, despite his age, had the air of a perpetual college student about him; it was in the music on the kitchen radio - some raucous hardcore band from the United States... it was in the haze of cigarette smoke around his head, in the way he wore his jeans enticingly low on his hips (even if they *were* about 18 sizes too big for him) and tee shirts with the logos of skateboarding companies printed across the chests. It was in the laid back way he moved, in the freedom of his laughter, in his obsession with motorized things that went very fast... all of it. It was even in the way he cooked eggs - flipping them over in the pan with a mere flick of his wrist and catching them neatly with a suave reach across the stove. He shoveled two of them onto Harry's plate, kissing his hair as he passed by. "You forgot clothes, baby."

"I didn't *forget* them," said Harry, a bit more sullenly than he had planned. "I chose to forego them." He grabbed Sirius's pack of cigarettes and lit one for the second time in twenty-four hours, noting that he was developing quite a habit for a nonsmoker.

Sirius, who was now preparing a batch of bacon, didn't scold him this time for it... rather, he himself lit one as well - further testament to the fact, though he acted as if nothing were wrong, that he was as tightly wound as Harry. He only said "Eat your eggs," and started the toast. Harry sipped at his orange juice and leveled his eyes on his godfather's back.

"What are we going to do, Sirius....?" he asked quietly.

"Don't know," Sirius replied in a matter-of-fact tone, spearing the bacon with a fork and piling it onto a plate. "We're going to show up in London on the day they've told us, and we're going to go to court."

"Aren't you going to get a lawyer?"

"S'pose I'll have to, won't I?" Sirius's voice was light, convivial, as if he were speaking about getting milk from the grocer's. He set the plate of bacon and toast down on the table, but didn't seat himself - instead, he started another pot of coffee. Harry guessed he must have gone through the first one while he was in the shower.

"Well... shouldn't we have witnesses or something? I mean, this is court, Sirius.. we have to be ready!." Harry raised his voice a little to be heard over the coffee maker and the radio, trying to sound stern in an attempt to get Sirius to take the situation a bit more seriously, but ending up sounding more panicked than anything else.

Sirius chuckled wryly under his breath. "We didn't kill anyone, Harry. And anyway - witnesses of what?"

"You know what I'm trying to say," Harry said darkly. "I don't know anything about court, I guess. But you know how trials go. You--"

"--Do I?" Sirius asked, and the chuckle was darker still this time.

"Well, you've been to trial over Pettigrew and all..."

"You actually think they gave me a trial?" Sirius stopped what he was doing; set the coffee cups down on the counter and turned to face Harry. "They didn't even *question* me. They brought me straight to Azkaban, and there they left me to rot in hell for twelve long years of my life. Twelve years. I was twenty-two years old, Harry. It may sound old to you now, but twenty-two years old is nothing at all. You're still a kid at twenty-two."

Harry only watched his godfather in silence for a few moments, lost for words.. and after a moment Sirius poured the coffee, with a sharp drag to his cigarette, and sat down at the table opposite him. For a minute or two, neither of them said anything... but then Sirius said quietly, "You're right. I'll get a lawyer by tomorrow."

"Thank you," whispered Harry, and started in on his eggs.

Breakfast was short and quiet; both Harry and Sirius were lost in their own wandering thoughts, and only the tinny sound of the radio kept the kitchen out of silence. Harry found that he didn't have much of an appetite, what with his mind swirling at eighty kilometers per hour, but he managed to force down most of what was on his plate nonetheless. How many more mornings will I be able to eat breakfast with him, now....?, he thought to himself, gazing across the table at his godfather.

Sirius caught the boy looking at him; shot him an easy grin across the table. "Is there something in my teeth?" he asked him; and Harry, feeling as though he would cry, had to laugh anyway... laugh because he loved this man, laughed because Sirius could always make him laugh...

Without thinking about it, Harry found himself rising from his seat, going to Sirius and dropping to his knees beside his chair. "I love you so much," he whispered, burying his face against his godfather's chest and wrapping his arms around his waist, sighing as Sirius pulled him close and kissed his hair. Harry loved the way he smelled - like cologne and aftershave and the faint essence of cigarette smoke; like incense and summer nights, like love itself, if love had a scent. "Why are they doing this to us, Sirius...? I mean, why do they *care*?"

"I suppose they've made it their business simply because neither of us are exactly what you'd call low profile figures," Sirius said quietly. " I doubt they would bother if no one knew you as The Boy Who Lived, and me as a symbol of Voldemort reign."

"But you're innocent, for crying out loud!" Harry moaned in exasperation, sitting back on his haunches, but entwining his fingers with his godfather's. "You didn't kill anyone!"

"There are still those out there who refuse to believe that," said Sirius. His dark eyes were sad.

"Its not fair." Harry didn't care how childish it sounded; it was the truth. He knew he was pouting, and he didn't care about that, either. With a soft, resigned sigh, Sirius tugged him closer again by his hand, pulling him up into his lap.

"I know it's not fair. Nothing is fair. But we'll get by this, Harry, I promise you. I'm not giving you up, and I don't care what I have to do..." Sirius tilted Harry's chin to face him. "You have to trust me. I don't know what they've got in store for us, anymore than you do. But I'm going to keep us together somehow, in the end, you hear me?"

Harry took his lover's face with both hands; kissed him as deeply and powerfully as he ever had during the height of passion, swinging one leg over Sirius's lap to straddle him and running his hands covetously over that long, silky black hair. "I believe you," Harry breathed, their lips a mere hairs width apart, "I'll believe anything you tell me and I always will and I love you. I love you, and if you say it, then its true. You wouldn't lie to me."

"Never..." Sirius whispered, and then their lips met again, and their tongues danced and hands touched, clasped... roamed each other's bodies, laid claim with their caressed. And they were One; one heart, one soul, one strength against the world. In this moment, it seemed nothing could touch them save for each other, that nothing could come between them...

"Well..... I do believe we've come at a bad time, gentlemen."

Lucius Malfoy.

He was standing in the kitchen doorway - a cold, gleaming figure dressed all in black, with sharp, feral features and a cruel smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Harry didn't recognize any of the others with him; they were all men from the Ministry, he supposed - maybe half a dozen of them, following Lucius through the door, their footsteps heavy and muted in the little kitchen. They didn't bother to shut the door behind them. Lucius was holding a sheaf of parchment in one hand, but he was unarmed - it was the others who had their wands out, and Harry didn't want to think about why. He knew why they were here, however, and he drew back wide-eyed against Sirius.

"Jesus Christ," breathed Sirius.

Lucius's eyebrows drew together in disdain. "Please don't use that name around me. It's not as if Jesus is going to come and save you, now is it Black?" He had begun to advance on them slowly, as if timing each step he took. His smile made Harry shiver and look away - he couldn't describe what he saw in the mans eyes, he only knew it made something inside him wither and curl up like a flower beneath a match flame. He wrapped his arms tighter around Sirius's neck; but with a few reassuring, whispered words and a kiss to his forehead, Sirius rose and set Harry to his own feet, getting himself between Lucius and his godson.

"I should have guessed you'd have a hand in all of this," he hissed through gritted teeth at the pale man. Those slender hands Harry so loved were knotted into fists; knuckles white with rage. It was seldom that he had seen Sirius angry, since that first day in the Shrieking Shack when Harry was still convinced that his godfather had killed his parents. Now he knew better - but he had seen that day how potentially dangerous Sirius's rage could be. He hoped Malfoy got a huge dose of it.

"Come now, Mister Black - it was *hardly* in my plans to have to retrieve your... ehm...." Lucius gave Harry a lewd, crucial once-over with his eyes, "...godson." Funny, how much this man could make the word 'godson' sound like 'dirty little bitch'. Harry settled for sinking into a kitchen chair, as sinking through the floor was not an option. The lead weight that had rested in the pit of his stomach since the previous evening seemed to have been joined by ten of its brothers in recent moments. A low growl rose in the back of Sirius's throat.

"You're not taking him anywhere," he hissed.

Malfoy's eyebrows rose in a smooth, clean arch. "Oh, but I'm afraid I am. Very specific orders, you see, its all right here..." He handed the sheaf of parchment to Sirius, who nearly devoured them with his eyes. And as he did, the color drained away from those chiseled cheekbones, his dark eyes widened hectically, and Harry knew it was true. This was it.

"I'm not going anywhere with you," he said stubbornly, forcing his voice to remain steady and defiant. "Dumbledore gave Arthur and Molly Weasley charge over me if anything ever happened to Sirius. If anyone's taking me anywhere, it's going to be them." He could go with the Weasleys. They loved Sirius as much as he did - none of *them* thought it was wrong, what they were to one another. They'd let Harry and Sirius share a bed when they'd gone to stay with them over the summer. They understood. But the idea of Lucius Malfoy and six strange, scary looking men taking him god-knows-where made him shudder, made the panic rise in his stomach.

"I don't believe you've been given a choice in the matter, have you Potter?" sneered Lucius, and Harry swallowed heavily. Sirius sidestepped to place himself between the two of them once again. The entourage was beginning to throw both Harry and Sirius very menacing looks, and Harry could feel his godfathers panic rising as surely as his own. "You'd do best to step aside, Black. I wouldn't want to see this get ugly." Lucius's smile implied that he would like very much for exactly that to happen. Harry scooted his chair backwards across the floor with his heels.

He knew very well that his godfather was unarmed, and the men accompanying Lucius had trained their wands on him now. Malfoy himself stepped around Sirius, reaching for Harry. "Don't make this harder on yourself than you have to, Potter," he said, as cold fingers seized Harry's wrist. Harry jerked his hand back with all his might, but Lucius was much stronger than he was, and he couldn't contain a little yelp of pain as his wrist was wrenched violently in the man's grasp.

A split second later there was a loud *crack*, and Lucius Malfoy careened forwards into his lap like a rag doll, releasing his hand. Harry leapt to his feet; before he knew it he had his back pressed into the corner some ten feet away, and Sirius was standing over Malfoy - the other man's blood on his knuckles from where they'd struck his mouth. For one slow-motion moment, no one moved, no one spoke. The only sound was of Sirius's ragged breathing, and Lucius's hands scraping over the floor as he hauled himself to his feet. And then, all at once, there was a blast of white light, a scream, and then they had Sirius - five of the men struggling to restrain him as he railed against their efforts. "GET---YOUR---FUCKING---HANDS---OFF---ME!!" he roared, as Lucius and his one remaining cohort seized Harry by either arm, wrenching him out of the corner. Harry could hear spells being uttered, hear the snapping of wands and Sirius choking on his own breath, but he'd pressed his eyes closed when the hands had touched him. He couldn't see them drag Sirius, half unconscious, from the back door, or the look on Malfoy's face. He could only feel the hands on him, dragging him forwards blindly - hear his own screams echoing in his ears and the sun on his face as they pulled him outside. Harry was very small, but that did not mean he was weak - it was taking the two men quite a bit of effort to restrain him, he could feel that, and with everything he had he threw his weight backwards, digging his heels into the ground. And then something cold and stinging struck him hard across the mouth, and Harry tasted his own blood.

"Please... at least let me get my clothes," he cried, stalling for time. He opened his eyes again, but he couldn't see Sirius or where they had taken him. If they would just let go of him for one split second, maybe he could find him. Maybe he could do *something*. Harry spit a fair amount of blood on to the back path, wrenched hopelessly against his captors once again - but he was getting tired, and his efforts had only half their strength behind them.

"Shut up, Potter," snapped Lucius.

The panic in Harry's stomach had bubbled over. In desperation, he whipped his head sideways, sank his teeth into the closest available flesh that wasn't his and tore as hard as he could. The wizard that did Harry did not know screamed and let go of him, and Lucius struck him hard across the face again. A flash of white light exploded at his temples, and Harry found himself falling, falling... and then he remembered no more.