Author's note: It's been a while since I wrote these too, so have some fluff with maybe a hint of plot. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns the canon, world, and characters portrayed below and you can tell I'm not J.K. Rowling because #transrights
Hogwarts: Ravenclaw, Assignment #7, Arts and Crafts Task #5 Write about someone being helpful/useful to someone else
Content Warnings: Alcohol/Inebriation; trauma and nightmares (post-Azkaban Sirius); insomnia
Call It Dreaming
Say it's here where our pieces fall in place
Any rain softly kisses us on the face
Anywhere means we're running
We can sleep and see 'em coming
Where we drift and call it dreaming
We can weep and call it singing
-Call It Dreaming, Iron & Wine
Mad-Eye and Dumbledore were waiting in the front hall when Tonks and Kingsley returned to Number 12 Grimmauld Place—Kingsley catching Tonks when she tripped over that damn troll-leg umbrella as she always did.
"Keep it together, Nymphadora," Mad-Eye snarled.
"Why the sass before you've even heard all the nice and shiny intelligence I've gathered for you?" Tonks said, straightening up as if nothing had happened. If she was going to be as clumsy as she was, she needed to be swift on the recovery too.
"Spit it out, then," Mad-Eye said.
"They don't know about the house," Kingsley said.
"You're certain?" Dumbledore asked, his blue eyes grave as they scanned Kingsley's face. He nodded.
"Positive, sir. They might know that the house is here, but they have no idea how to find it," Kingsley said. "They're just wandering the streets longingly at this point."
"And you and Tonks didn't lead them right back to it?" Mad-Eye asked with a huff.
"We're very good at disillusionment charms," Kingsley reminded him. "And Tonks managed to get quite close and eavesdrop. They still have no idea where the house is or how to access it or if it's even our headquarters at all."
"They were complaining about being sent out to Muggle London without Narcissa Malfoy even being sure who the house belonged to—Sirius or Bellatrix Lestrange, since he was blasted from the tree," Tonks said.
"And once the rain started pouring, they lost all interest and vanished. I don't even think they were working off anything more than a hunch," Kingsley said. "And not one they seemed very passionate about."
"That's quite a relief," Dumbledore said.
"We should still shelter in place for the night," Mad-Eye said. "To be vigilant."
"I agree," Tonks said. "They've got no leads and we don't want to give them any—thunderstorm or not. Better to keep everyone safe inside until morning, when the weather clears. We'll be able to make sure the coast is clear another time before having everyone Apparate away in small groups."
"I do suspect we could all use some sleep and a moment to breathe after that scare," Dumbledore said. "I'll go give them the good news and warn Sirius that we'll be abusing his hospitality. And I should warn Molly, who will undoubtedly fret about how to feed us in the morning."
"She does like a good challenge," Tonks noted.
"Indeed she does, Nymphadora," Dumbledore nodded. "Thank you for investigating."
He bowed his head towards Kingsley too before turning back into the house to reassure the others that headquarters weren't compromised as they'd feared. Kingsley exhaled. What a mess that would have been, what with all the kids in the house…
"Well, there's no reason for this not to be fun," Tonks shrugged. "Let me see what there is to pillage in the Black family liquor cabinet. Yeah; that'll piss my ancestors off.."
Despite Dumbledore's suggestion, the threat of the safehouse being discovered had jolted all of them wide-awake after a very boring meeting—and the good news that it wasn't was some of the only good news they'd had all summer. The living room in which they'd gathered was packed—Sirius was pulling chairs from other parlours, Bill Weasley was telling a story about a misadventure he'd had when learning Gobbledegook at which Elphias Doge laughed loudly, Dedalus Diggle was tuning a small instrument Kingsley couldn't name… It was so lively, Kingsley cast a silencing charm on the entryway to make sure they didn't wake up Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley children.
Molly had whipped up a plate of sausage rolls and popped some corn over the roaring fireplace, while Remus contributed an admirable quantity of chocolate from a cache he'd hidden somewhere in the house. Minerva McGonagall produced a tin of shortbread that went fast.
Meanwhile, Tonks had successfully located several bottles of Firewhiskey, which they sat in the living room to down as they played a drinking game Fleur Delacour had learned at Beauxbatons—a strange combination of rock, paper, scissors and three truths and a lie that involved many shots and drinks. It got funnier the longer they played.
Kingsley, who rarely drank since he worked so often, let himself indulge since he was off for the rest of the week—and Remus and Tonks happily conspired to keep his glass full as he did. They were some of the last few Order members to still be in the living room—others having ducked away to claim a guest room when their eyelids started fluttering, or when they'd had enough of the excitement. Mundungus Fletcher had fallen asleep stretched out across the sofa, and Hestia Jones had curled up on the loveseat.
"Bugger, I work in the morning," Tonks said when the clock over the fireplace chimed 2:00 AM. "I should at least try to sleep so that Scrimgeour doesn't hand me my own ass in the morning if I do something unacceptable like yawn."
"He was already on your case last week," Remus said.
"Well that wasn't my fault, I was patrolling the Department of Mysteries all week wasn't I?" she asked before yawning again. "Alright, that is my fault. I did join an insurgent organization."
"That doesn't mean you don't deserve your rest, come along," Remus said, pulling Tonks to her feet. He made sure to extinguish the remnants of the fire in the hearth before tucking his wand in the belt loop of his pants. "Kingsley, what are you going to do?"
"I'll find a place to sleep," he promised. "You two go ahead."
If he wasn't so preoccupied with how tingly the Firewhisky had made him feel, he'd have made a bigger deal of the two of them going off together. At the moment, however, it was challenging enough to gather the necessary wits to stand up and remind himself which way the bedrooms were. They were up a set of stairs. Oh, that didn't sound good. But what was he to do? The living room was taken and he didn't want to sleep on the floor.
He could do this. He could totally do this, it was easy. Stairs were easy, stairs were fine.
Well, they weren't, but he made it up without crashing back down. The portraits on the walls whispered unhelpful comments about how improper he was being and how a Firewhiskey aged so finely should have been sipped and savoured, not downed so primitively. Kingsley ignored them—because he wasn't too drunk to be diplomatic. Of course not. He was fine; everything was fine. And he was upstairs now. Could a drunk person have climbed all those stairs? Probably not, it had been very difficult.
He was feeling very in control as he looked around. It was easy to remember which bedroom the twins were in, which one Hermione and Ginny were sharing, and where Ron and Harry slept—so he avoided those. Unfortunately, it meant he had to go up another set of staircases. Not as big this time though, and he was already an expert at stairs so this worked out nicely.
Remus was living in Grimmauld Square just about permanently now, so his door had been decorated with some sort of a cartoon about a Grindylow that Ginny had drawn for him. He didn't have to work hard to avoid the room Fleur and Bill had claimed, since he could hear them through the walls. Oof. Thank goodness Molly and Arthur were on the floor below. He accidentally opened the door of the room Severus had claimed hours ago, having left the festivities early. Then he accidentally opened the door to Mad-Eye's room for the night, and the old Auror slept much more lightly and probably would have given Kingsley much more of an earful for bothering him had Dumbledore himself not been asleep on the room's other bed.
He opened the next door much more carefully, but didn't see anybody in the room. In fact, the room looked rather unloved and disheveled—but there were sheets on the bed and a massive pile of pillows.
"Perfect," Kingsley said quietly, stepping inside and hastily closing the door behind him. He was nearly overwhelmed by a sudden urge to not be vertical and his head started spinning, so he unbuttoned the black button-down he'd worn to the Muggle Prime Minister's, pulled off the undershirt he'd worn underneath, and pulled his belt out of its loops. He kicked off his shoes and that took so much energy, he subsequently decided that his jeans needed to stay on and he stumbled into the bed. The pillows were plentiful and fluffy—including some soft black ones that… oh, those weren't pillows, they were moving under his touch. Oh.
The dog that had been sleeping, curled up against the headboard, looked up—totally unamused. Then it looked even less amused when it transformed into Sirius Black—tall, lanky, stubble covering his handsome face.
"Oh shit," Kingsley said.
"Shit indeed," Sirius said. "Well, shit-faced in your case."
"It's not that bad," Kingsley said. "I'm just a lightweight because I never drink."
"I see," Sirius said.
"You're an Animagus," Kingsley said.
"That's how you escaped from Azkaban."
"I'm flattered to be occupying the Auror Department's greatest minds, even when those minds are drowning in Firewhiskey," Sirius said.
"Sorry," Kingsley said. "I'm just impressed."
"Well, thank you," Sirius said. "I suppose I am impressive."
"So impressive," Kingsley said. "Also this is your room, isn't it?"
"It is," Sirius said.
"I shouldn't be here. I should go," Kingsley said, sitting up. "I needed to find an empty room. Maybe upstairs…"
"You won't even make it back to the door," Sirius said. "Stay where you are. I'll go back to my dog form—you just lie back down before you hurt yourself."
"You sleep as a dog?" Kingsley asked. A shadow passed Sirius' narrow face and his very brown eyes looked away.
"Goodnight, Shacklebolt," Sirius said.
"Goodnight," Kingsley said—because that did sound like a lovely idea. His eyes fluttered shut before he even watched the other man turn back into his incredibly soft, incredibly strong Animagus form.
When he woke up the next morning he immediately wished he could go back to sleep, but he persevered on and sat up. He was alone, but a glass of water and a small green vial of potion had been left for him on Sirius Black's bedside table.
It was another stormy night when Sirius intercepted Kingsley in their regular meeting room. He was ridiculously early, because he'd come straight from Downing Street, and he'd meant to go over the report he was meant to present. But Sirius came in and drummed his fingers nervously against the table.
"Everything alright?" Kingsley asked, looking up.
"Do you carry any sort of talisman or magical charm on you?" Sirius asked.
Kingsley had no idea what to do with that question.
"No," he said. "Why?"
"Because I'd heard of magical items that could do it, back when I was still a curse-breaker, but that was my only lead," Sirius muttered, more to himself than to Kingsley.
"Your only lead on what?" Kingsley asked.
Sirius hesitated before speaking up.
"I didn't have nightmares, the night you slept with me," Sirius said. Kingsley felt himself blushing at the memory. Not his best moment. He'd told Tonks and she'd laughed so hard, he hadn't told anybody else—and of course, she was perfectly shameless so there was no teasing her back.
"Again, I am very sorry about that," Kingsley said. He'd apologized about a hundred times after sobering up and had sworn to himself never to underestimate the potency of Firewhiskey again.
"Don't be," Sirius said. "It was the first time."
"The first time that you… that you didn't have nightmares?" Kingsley asked, trying to keep up with the fragments that were slipping out of Sirius's mouth.
That same shadow passed over Sirius's face, the shadow Kingsley remembered even if he'd been beyond inebriated the last time he'd seen it—when he'd mentioned…
"Since Azkaban?" Kingsley added, dread pooling in the pit of his stomach as he realized that he was right. Sirius looked annoyed—either at Kingsley for figuring it out or at himself for mentioning it in the first place.
"It's a bad place," Sirius said. "I don't want to get into it since it's your job to send people there, but it's infernal. And it latches onto you like a second skin you can never rub off or rub clean, no matter how raw you scratch yourself."
Kingsley chewed on his lip.
"Is that why you sleep as a dog?" he asked.
"It helps," Sirius said. "At first, since dogs see the world differently. They dream differently, and it helps me remember that it's not real, that it's just a dream. But I always inevitably transform back into a man at some point of the night—Animagus transformations require concentration and intent, or else your training kicks in and tugs you back to your human shape so that you don't get lost in the animal. I only know of one Animagus who can sleep in his form, and he's the scum of the earth so I try not to think about him. And then, when you wake up, that's when… that's when it's like being back in Azkaban."
"I'm sorry," Kingsley said.
"Don't," Sirius said. "Don't."
"Alright," Kingsley said. "But can I help?"
"What do you mean?" Sirius frowned.
"Well, if sleeping with someone else helps alleviate the nightmares I… I can do that," Kingsley said. "I mean, I know that sleeping next to someone always makes me feel safer and more well-rested, when I have a partner. I don't right now. Actually."
Kingsley found himself wondering why he was saying all these words. Sirius chewed on his lip and gave Kingsley one more look before turning away and slipping out of the room as quietly as he'd slipped in.
He looked significantly worse the next time Kingsley saw him—eyes sunken and underlined by deep, sickly blue pockets. He wasn't holding his head up straight either and his hair was uncombed. He looked about as rotten as the rest of London did, after the week of miserable, cold rain they'd had.
"Alright," he said when Kingsley joined him in the kitchen, carrying over some teacups that needed to be washed after the Order meeting.
"Alright?" Kingsley asked.
"Alright, I want to take you up on your offer. Can you stay the night?" Sirius asked.
Kingsley had meant to review case notes for a hearing he was appearing in as a witness tomorrow, and those notes were in a pile on his bedside table. But he didn't hesitate before saying yes. Sirius nodded once, and then they did dishes quietly.
He felt like an intruder, sticking around Grimmauld Place after the meeting. The kids seemed happy to see a new face that night and didn't ask too many questions about why he was still around. He supposed that Tonks had paved the way for Order members who didn't leave the musty old house as soon as possible. Still, Kingsley didn't quite know how to fit himself into the strangely cozy and familiar rhythm the kids had developed in the world's least cozy house. There was Quidditch on the radio to scream about, Exploding Snaps to play, games involving Crookshanks the cat, Chocolate Frogs to unwrap and cards to barter… Hermione was ecstatic to have someone interested in the books she was already reading to prepare for her OWLS, so Kingsley decided to make himself useful by lending him an ear.
Everyone retired one by one, pair by pair, until it was just Kingsley and Sirius in the living room. Sirius had smiled some and laughed at some of his godson's jokes that night, but he seemed so exhausted that he looked nauseous.
"Shall we?" Kingsley asked nervously, not sure what the protocol was around this kind of arrangement.
Sirius nodded and up they went, the staircases not nearly as challenging this time and the house much more empty as they ghosted through it. Sirius opened the door to his bedroom and pulled off the too-big cardigan he'd been wandering around in and collapsed into bed. He rubbed at his eyes.
"Do you want sleeping clothes?" he asked.
"I'm fine," Kingsley promised. In a strange bout of déjà vue, he unbuttoned his shirt, keeping his undershirt firmly in place, slid his belt out of his pants' belt loops. He pulled the elastic from his hair so that his hair tumbled down—he hated sleeping on a ponytail. He wished he had his scarf with him so he could wrap up his braids, but oh well. His hairdresser would kill him, but Kingsley had slept in worst conditions while out in the field. His hair would hopefully survive one night of negligence.
Sirius nodded and then wormed his way under the sheets, so tired that he didn't bother looking at Kingsley much. Kingsley's stomach clenched at how awful this was, at how awful it was and how unnecessary it was since Sirius was an innocent man but, well, even if he hadn't been, did anyone deserve this? Kingsley pushed the thoughts away to focus on the moment. He lay down next to Sirius, staying above the sheets.
"You're going to freeze," Sirius muttered. "This goddamn house is drafty as hell's arsehole."
"I'll be fine," Kingsley promised. "Do you want the light on or off while you fall asleep?"
But Sirius was knocked out before he'd even finished the question. And he slept right through the night.
Once the children were gone back to Hogwarts and Grimmauld Place was considerably more empty, it became much more routine. Kingsley would swing by five, six, sometimes seven times a week to sleep next to Sirius. Sirius needed his time alone—after so long in solitary confinement, he ran out of social energy quite quickly and could get overwhelmed by touch and attention alike. But he liked having Kingsley around. And so Kingsley started packing properly when he swung by Grimmauld Place—bringing pajamas, a toothbrush, a silk pillowcase for his hair, a change of clothes, his cologne, a book to read… Eventually, Sirius told him to keep his things in a drawer so he didn't go to and from work looking like a pack mule.
"Are you sure?" Kingsley asked.
"It's not a big deal," Sirius said casually.
But eventually, Kingsley made his way under the sheets, too.