Disclaimer: Not mine, all Rowling's, can't do anything 'bout it *sniff*

Spoilers: PoA, OotP

Anything the author has to say: Yes, that's very much! First I want to apologise for staying away so long (had to cope with the traumatic experiences after reading OotP!!!) and of course starting a new story when 'First Try' still isn't finished or even continued. Sorry 'bout that, but I couldn't get that out of my mind, and so I hope you will at least enjoy it until I came up with the next chapter of FT.


Sirius Black leant back in his seat and sighted heavily. The compartment was otherwise empty and he was alone. He hated being lonely. He had been lonely for nearly two monthes now. His stomach clenched as thought of the reason for his solitute.

'You're sorry? Sorry?! Is that all you have to say; you didn't think?! Have you seen Remus, have you seen him, Sirius? Do you have any idea how he's feeling right now? How we all are feeling about you? You betrayed us, Sirius!!'

James' words echoed through his head and a sharp twinge pierched his chest. When he'd come out of the hospital wing after confessing what had happened that night to Remus his best friend had catched him up. The (very one- sided) discussion that followed had not been nice and the young Animagus had soon given up to defend himself.

'You swore you wouldn't tell anybody about Remus' secret! And what did you do? You went to Snape, TO SNAPE OF ALL PEOPLE, to tell him. Just because you couldn't swallow your god-forsaken pride for one moment! It's your fault Remus nearly killed someone! KILLED, Sirius, do you know what that means?! They would've put him down for murdering and that's entirely your fault!'

Sirius knew that there was nothing to say; nothing excused his actions. He knew that he was at fault and taking responsibility for it was the least thing he could do. Nothing would make Snape forget what he'd seen and nothing would take off the guilt that now weighted on Remus' shoulders, the thought, that he nearly killed, or worse: cursed somebody.

If it hadn't been for James the worst thing possible would have happened. Sirius granted his friend the right to kick him out of his life; he deserved it. His mind swept to the afternoon he'd spend in Dumbledore's office, explaining himself. Except that there hadn't been much to explain.

'You may leave now, Mr Black.' He looked up at the hard face of the Headmaster. 'But . . . won't I be punished?' Blue eyes turned on him, every trace of that twinkle gone. 'Punish? What do you want me to do? Give you detentions? Exclude you from the Quidditch team? Forbid you to go to Hogsmeade?', he asked, and Sirius winced at the slight note of . . . anger?

But he understood what Dumbledore meant. Giving him detention for what he'd done would be an insult to Remus - and Snape. He probably should have been suspended from school, but would they explain the reason? Because he'd betrayed his werewolf-friend to another student?

He'd gone out of Dumbledore's office, but not without receiving punishment, oh no. Going to Remus and explain what had happened and why had been the first. Trying to defend himself to James had been the second. And being closed out from everybody the third and hardest.

He brushed his dark hair out of his eyes and rubbed his face. He was going home for Christmas. Not that he enjoyed his family's company that much, quite the opposite, but he didn't think it was fair to spoil the holidays of his friends by staying. So he was now heading home, to spend the worst Christmas he'd had in years.


The Hogwarts Express came to a halt at Plattform 9 ¾, Sirius heaved his trunk out alone and set for the underground. His parent's house was nearly at the other end of London, and most of the way he'd have to go by tube. It felt like heading for hell.

After nearly three hours he stood outside number twelve, Grimmauld Place, hidden between numbers eleven and thirteen. He let the place flash past his closed eyes and suddenly a door emerged out of nowhere. He ringed the doorbell with twist of his stomach.

An elderly woman, her black hair drawn back in a tight bun, opened the door and sneered down at him. Sirius was used to the disgusted look she always granted him, ever since he'd been sorted into Gryffindor.

"Good evening, Mother.", he greeted politely, knowing at the same time that it wouldn't do any good. Dumbledore had informed his family by owl about the incident at the Whoping Willow. But of course his great-great- grandfather had been listening keenly as soon as he'd entered the Headmaster's office.

His parents always knew what was going on in the school when he was sent to Dumbledore. Phineas Nigellus made sure the all subversions of his great- great-grandnephew were reported. And Sirius hated him for that. More than one time had his father suggested that corporal punishment should be re- initiated.

His mother didn't answer; she went back in leaving him on the doorstep to follow her. With a sigh he did so, dragging his trunk in behind him. Kreacher came spurting down the hall, past the stuffed heads of his anchestors. He grabbed hold of the trunk and began pulling it up the stairs. From his eagerness to help him Sirius figured that his father had sent him.

Which meant, that he was waiting for his son in the study. The young Animagus took a deep breath and walked down the hall to his father's study, but didn't enter the room. He knocked at the door quietly and waited for an answer. For a few seconds nothing could be heard.


The harsh voice made him jump. He opened the door and stepped in, closing it behind him. Eyes cast down on the floor he marched up to his father's desk. Then he looked up. A tall black-haired man, temples greying, an expression of cold fury on his face, stared back up at him.

"I got an owl from Hogwarts." The words hung in the air, looming over Sirius like a bad omen. He knew that they were.

"Yes, Dumbledore told me." His voice was quiet he tried to sound polite.

"He told me you are responsible for an incident in which another student nearly got - killed." He rose from his chair and slowly walked around the table. Sirius knew better than to back away. He stood rooted to the spot, trying not to show anger or fear on his face.

"That is true." His heart started to beat faster.

"He told me that under the Willow there is a passage way that leads to a transforming place for a werewolf. A friend of Dumbledore."

"That is correct." Cold fear was creeping up his spine.

"And he told me that this student was Severus Snape. He believes you told him how to get past the Willow and to the werewolf. You didn't tell him about the werewolf; he nearly died."

Sirius took a deep breath, then stated with a steady-forced voice: "Yes, I did -"

The last word hadn't quite left his mouth when the first blow struck him. He gasped and tried to stand steady when a second one hit him, full in the face. The pain let him black out for a few seconds, but he forced himself to stay in exactly the same position like he was before.

Supressing a whimper he looked back up at his father. Long ago he'd learnt this lesson the hard way after the first time he disobeyed his parents. 'Stand still and take it like a man or it'll get even worse.' He willed back tears as his cheek started to burn like it was on fire.

"You knowingly led the son of Serpentian Snape to a werewolf?", his father barked, taking a step towards him.


He quickly closed his eyes as he saw his father take a swing and seconds later he was knocked over the head so hard he could see stars. A wave of dizziness swept over him, but he managed to remain standing. His temple was pulsing with pain.

"Dumbledore told me Severus was rescued by Potter's son.", Mr Black spat, as if the imagine revolted him.

Sirius felt his hand clamp down painfully on his shoulder. His father gave him a rough shake.


Sirius gulped and tried to ignore the pain pounding through his head.

"Yes, James went after him and -"

He was cut off by sharp kicks against his sheens. Searing pain shot through his legs and Sirius clenched his teeth to keep from crying out. However his father prevented him from falling by holding both of his shoulders in a death grip. He was backhanded before his father went on:


Through the fogging haze of pain and fear, anger welt up at the insults towards his friend.

"James is not -"

Before the words were out he realized that he'd done something very stupid, but he felt that he had to defend James. He paid dearly for it. After a few hard punches into his stomach he doubled over, but his father didn't let go.


He was struck across the head again, half-unconscious by now. Finally his bruised shoulders were released and he sank to the ground, panting. Mr Black calmed down again, his voice now low and threating.

"Did I understand right, that there is a werewolf running around at this school?"

Panic was breaking free in his chest. Why hadn't he thought about it earlier? The whole incident would have to be explained at least to his parents. And he knew what they thought about werewolves. But was it fair to Remus to deny his friendship again?

If he had learnt one thing of James' outburst, than that the friendship that he'd been granted was valuable and he had no right to denyit, even if he wasn't given the honour of friendship anymore. And that justified.

He'd made up his mind when his father's foot caught him in the chest.

"I asked you something, and I expect an answer from you!"

Sirius drew a shaky breath.

"Yes, that's right."

"And as I understand it you knew very well about him, didn't you?"

"Yes, I did." He was fighting hard to hold his voice above a whisper.

"You befriended him? You befriended a werewolf?!"


He was kicked in the stomach, but this time his father didn't stop. He went on kicking Sirius, until the youth was fighting the urge to wretch violently. He tried to cover his face with his arms, but didn't really succeed. After what seemed like an eternity Mr Black eventually quitted.

Sirius was close to unconsciousness as his father gripped his shoulders again and lifted him up towards his face. The boy struggled weakly against the brutal hold but only succeeded in hurting himself more. Mr Black ignored him.

"Who is that werewolf? I'll make sure this beast doesn't grace the earth by nightfall; tell me who it is!"

The young Animagus was shaking with fear, pain and exhausion. But at his father's words a rage flared up in his chest that didn'leave space for anything else.

"No.", he whispered determindetly, his voice breaking. "I won't tell you, not in a thousand years. I'll never let him down again. Go to hell!"

His father backhanded him so hard he was knocked out cold. Mr Black pointed his wand at him and muttered "Enervate!" under his breath. His son came to slowly, but he was sure Sirius still knew exactly where he was and what was going on.

"You made your choice and I don't see why I didn't do this years ago." He gave the boy a hard shove and stood up, looking down at his son lying to his feet.

"You're a failure, you're pathetic and a shame of my flesh, I should have seen that the moment you were born. Get out! NOW!"

He emphrased his words by giving his son a last kick in the face, ignoring the pained yelp. Sirius pulled himself up with huge effort and it seemed to take him forever to get up onto his feet. He leaned on the wall for support and slowly made his way to the door. Without a look back he went out and slammed the door as hard as he possibly could.

At the staircase he broke down, the pain aching in his whole body robbing him of his breath. He tried to think clearly. Fury was still glomming through the haze and without pondering his decision further he pulled out his wand and spelled his trunk down the stairs towards him.

Sirius could barely stand but he would be damned if he stayed in this house any longer. He knew very well that he wasn't allowed to do magic in the holidays but he didn't care. He put a Lightening Charm on his trunk and pulled it out of the house.

The door vanished behind him, but he didn't bother looking back. His body was screaming at him to rest, to lie down and have a break, but his rage made him go on, he couldn't stay here. He had to get away.


Snow crunched beneath his knees as his legs gave out. He sank down to the frozen earth and leant heavily against his trunk. Only now did he feee something cold at the side of his face and realized, that he'd been bleeding, the blood now freezing on his skin. 'Lovely,' he thought, 'I must look gorgeous.'

His stomach was aching and he closed his eyes to stop his head spinning. It only made it worse, he sank further down in the snow and whimpered in pain. He was hurting all over and the rage that had been boiling inside when he'd left his parent's house was now gone, leaving him cold and shaking.

He couldn't go on, he was freezing, the cold sinking through his snow-wet robes quickly. His breath was coming in short gasps; each feeling like his lung was pierched with needles. The pain grew worse and darkness threating to overcome him again.

Fear broke up in him. When he fell unconscious now he would surely die in the snow, freezing to death. He simply had to get going again.

But where?

He shortly considered going to his cousin, Andromeda. But that was stupid. He had no idea how he should get there as she and her husband were living in Edinburhg and by going there he would draw his father's rage towards her. He gulped at the thought of what would happen.

He had now chance of informing Dumbledore about what had happened, and apart from that the old wizard had done enough for him already. What would he ask of him anyway? To give him a new home and family he could live with, because he'd messed up with the last? That sounded so stupid and ignorant, that he'd laugh if he wouldn't be in such a mess.

Maybe he could go to James - but that seemed just as stupid. Gordric's Hollow wasn't that far away, but still unreachable for him in his current state. And James had made it very clear what he thought of Sirius now.

The aching in his stomach grew worse and he wrapped his arms around his middle to stop it, but the meassure went unsuccessful. His head was pounding madly. He was getting cold quickly and the fear made his heart jump into his throat. What was he supposed to do now?

How we all are feeling about you? You betrayed us, Sirius!!

James' words swam into his pain-fogged mind and they hurt more than the physical wounds he suffered right now. It felt like his chest was torn apart and tears burnt in his eyes. They slipped down his cheeks and left hot wet paths on the bruised and blood-caked skin.

His friends had abandoned him for good reasons and he had no right to ask help of them now. He never imagined that all this would lead him to were he was now, huddled beside his trunk in some lone street, beaten up and with no place to go to. He'd never meant this to happen. Never.

But James was right, it was his entire fault, he didn't stop to think about the consequences for one second. He deserved to suffer them now. Tears were running down his cheeks freely, he curled up next to his trunk and buried his face in his arms.

He couldn't go to James. He had prevented things from going even worse; Sirius couldn't expect him to take care of him, too. He'd messed up and now he had to think off a way out of this disaster.

He dimly remembered that he'd done magic unallowed. 'How long will it take them to find me?' He pondered the thought for a moment. 'Probably until I've frozen to death.' Maybe they wouldn't even care if they found him now, hurt and half-frozen. He was going to be expelled from Hogwarts this time he'd done magic in the holidays before.

But the thoughts faded as his head started to hurt like it was going to explode. His stomach was raging and his legs were so numb with cold he couldn't move them an inch. Despair swept over him like a giant wave and he broke down completely.

He didn't know if he had already passed by, bright light was penetrating his eyes. Something warm wrapped itself around him and he felt like floating over the ground. Shushed whispers echoed in his ears, and then everything went dark.


"James, didn't you say Sirius was coming home for Christmas, too? Where is he?" James looked up at his mother, not sure what to tell her. She didn't know about the Willow-incident, and she'd always like his best friend a great deal.

Interpreting his silence correct she frowned. "You weren't with him the whole trainride? Darling, don't you think that your row is getting silly?"

James felt something hot boil up in him. Sure, he'd really missed Sirius over the past two months, but what his friend had done couldn't be forgiven so easily, could it? He didn't answer his mother, but started to drag his trunk in the direction of the exite.

Mrs Potter didn't mention the topic again, but she certainly wasn't happy about how things were between James and his friend. They'd beem inseperatable and it was odd to see James without the other, wearing a dark expression at the mention of his black-haired soulbrother.

The ride home was very quiet, but Mrs Potter knew that it was best to let her son come to terms with his friend by himself. Even if she was concerned about Sirius. She'd grown very fond of the boy over the years.

They spend the afternoon in silence, but full of anticipation of the next morning. Mrs Potter had decorated the house with fairies, the small creatures glowing and glittering between girlands of evergreen and red glas balls. She knew that her son adored them.

"Mum, when's Dad coming home?" Mrs Potter looked up from the book she'd been reading.

"I don't know James, he said he would probably be busy until tonight. But I think they'll have mercy with him today, I can't imagine that there's anybody who'd want to work all night at Christmas Eve."

She smiled up at her son. He grown quite a few inches the past year and was already overtowering her. His messy black hair stood out on all directions, something that ran in the family, his father had the same hair.

A 'Crack!' sounded from the kitchen and a moment later a tall black-haired man in red robes strode into the room. He dropped a stack of offical looking parchmants on the table and went to fling his arms around his son.

"So my trouble-maker decided to come home for Christmas at last? Remembered your older people, didn't you?" He laughed as James shot him a mischievous and wriggled out of his hug as if he feared to be crushed by so much affaction.

"Well, I thought I should at least pretend to.", he grinned. His father laughted again and flopped down on the couch groggily. He reached out to greet his wife with a kiss as he accidently knocked the pile down and parchments went flying across the room. Mr Potter sighed.

"They were the last I had to do at the office and I thought I could do it at home as well."

He heaved himself out of the cushions on the couch and started to pick up the sheets strewn around the living room. James went to help him. He reached out for a parchment lying under the brightly sparkling Christmastree, but his father pushed him away playfully.

"You'll get your hands under that soon enough, won't you?", he chuckled as he picked up the sheet and placed it on top of the pile. James was about to retort when he noticed his father's expression darken. Mr Potter sat down on the couch again and read the sheet with his brow furrowed.

"Dad? What is it?"

As his father didn't react James snuck up behind him and read the parchment over his shoulder:

Dear Mr Black, We have received intelligence that you performed a Lightening Spell at twelve minutes past six in a Muggle-inhabited area. The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry officals . . .

"Expulsion? They can't expell Sirius from Hogwarts, his father would kill him! Dad, surely they made a mistake? He knows that he'd be expelled when he'd do unallowed magic, he isn't that stupid!"

James couldn't believe it. For a second he forgot about the past two months and worry for his friend bubbled up in his chest. But then he recalled. Maybe Sirius had acted rashly again? He really had thought, that his friend had learnt his lesson last time . . .

Mr Potter still frowned at the letter.

"You're right, James, that has to be a mistake. They wouldn't place this on my desk, if he really did magic they surely already got to him -" He paused, as if that thought concerned him a great deal.

"You don't think he got in trouble, do you, Harold?", Mrs Potter spoke up, worry clearly shown in her face. "What if they didn't find him?"

Mr Potter shook his head. "They wouldn't simply let it be. They -"

"But he's in trouble!"

Both Mr and Mrs Potter looked up at their son. Especially Mrs Potter seemed to be surprised at James' great concern for Sirius. But what if he really was in trouble? Mrs Potter still remembered Rigel Black from school. And the thought that he might have done something to his own son made her stomach clench.

Suddenly Mr Potter nodded at his son. "Alright James, we'll go look if he's alright and see if we can solve this problem with Crouch. He's one of the newcomers in our Department.", he added at the inquiering looks from both his son and wife.

"You'd think the bloke has no home, he's always at the office."


"Dad, come over here! What's that?"

Mr Potter hurried over to his son, his wand held high above his head. The beam of light glided over the pavement, only dimly lit by the street lamps. The snow was crushed here and a drag mark led further down thesidewalk. James started to run.

The bad feeling in his stomach had increased all the time they'd been looking for Sirius and now he felt it explode. A large, heavy trunk had made the drag mark, James was sure of that. But this could only mean,that Sirius was somewhere near him.

Something cold slid into the pitch of his stomach as he ran forward, ignoring the shouts from his father. He'd seen Sirius face in Dumbledore's office as the old wizard told him that his parents would be informed. James had never met the Blacks, but from what Sirius had told they were hell to live with. And according to his mother, who had been in school with Rigel Black, Sirius was right.

That was exactly what made James run after the drag mark like a maniac. What if his friend was in serious trouble? What if they even came too late? His heart pounded wildly at the idea. He had ignored Sirius for the last two months, he'd been mad at him, but he'd never wished something like this to happen.

They reached the outskirts of the suburb; there were nearly no houses to both sides of the streets, but many trees. And in the dim light of the street lamps James could make out a dark lump beneath one of them. It was a Hogwarts trunk. And behind it was -


James knelt down beside his friend and after a few seconds his father reached them, wand tip iluminating the pale and bruised face of the boy lying nearly unconscious in the snow.

"What the - I my God." Mr Potter crouched down beside his son, handing him the wand to cast light over the other boy, while he carefully checked for pulse and breathing. He was alive, barely. Anger surged up, together with deep worry. How could somebody do that to their own childs?

Taking the wand from his son he conjured up a blanket and wrapped it around Sirius, noticing with a scare how cold he was already. Bleary pale-blue eyes fluttered open and tried to focus on him. He pushed back the long black bangs and lifted the ganly body into his arms.

Sirius made a feeble attempt to raise his head as he heard James whisper to him. But his eyes slid shut again and his head slumped against Mr Potter's shoulder as his body went limp in his arms.

"James, take the wand and conjure a fire. Don't worry, I'll take care of matters later.", he added as his son looked up at him uncertainly. James cast the spell and with a pinch of floo-powder from his father's pocket flooed back home, together with Sirius' trunk. Mr Potter followed.


"James, what - I - Oh god, Harold, where did you find him?!"

Mrs Potter bustled out of the way as her husband rushed passed her, the unconscious teen in his arms. James followed closely, clearing his bed for his friend before his father even could ask.

"James, get those wet clothes off him, will you?"

James nodded as his father strode out again. He sat onto the bed and propped Sirius' limp form up against him. Then he started to pull the soaked garments off of him. The wet cloak landed onto the floor, a few minutes later a damp pullover and trousers followed.

He didn't care that his bed was getting dirtier by minute; he tugged Sirius under the blankets to warm him up and fetched some pyjamas that would fit his slightly taller friend. In the meantime Mrs Potter came into the room, carrying her working-bag (she was a healer at St. Mungo's Hospital), a bowl of hot water and some towels floating in the room behind her.

She gently lifted the boy's head onto some pillows and started to clean out the wound at his left temple. A big bluish-purple bruise was covering the left half of his face. She frowned as she washed the dried blood off the cold skin. What the hell had happened to him? She had known that the Black's had never been loving parents, at least not to Sirius. But that they would beat their own child half to death?

James laid the pyamjas on the foot of his bed and went to help his mother. He rested his friend's head in his lap, watching as Mrs Potter examined Sirius' chest and stomach, which where covered in violent bruises and grazes. Rage bubbled in the pitch of his stomach as the young Animagus thought of the man who'd caused Sirius' misery.

Mr Potter had gone to inform Dumbledore what had happened. He'd told James that it was best to sort things out with the Headmaster first; the old wizard would surely know best what to do. They still couldn't be sure about what had happened.

His was stirred out of his thoughst by a sharp gasp from his mother. She'd been feeling Sirius's ribcage all over, finding that several of his ribswere fractured. Judging from the nearly black bruise strechting over his side it was bleeding profusly under the skin.

"Mum? He'll be ok, won't he?" James didn't try to supress the fear sounding in his voice.

Mrs Potter didn't react at first, but then nodded, murmuring that it wasn't too bad, that Sirius was all right. She went to rumage in her bag but suddenly dropped the vial she'd been holding and pinned her son with a firm gaze.

"James, what happened? You weren't talking about him for the last two months, not in your letters nor at the station. Then he gets beaten up by his own family and prefers to stay lying in the snow but to come to us for help. What's been going on between you?"

James was somewhat taken aback by his his mother's outburst. But he felt stupid for thinking that nobody would ask questions. He took a deep breath and began telling Mrs Potter the whole story, starting at Remus being a werewolf.

"- well, and as Snape went on taunting him about it he told him to go to the Whoping Willow and find out himself." James hesitated for a moment, but then decided that he shouldn't tell his mother about him, Sirius and Peter being Animagi. He'd already told enough of Remus' secret.

"I caught him in the Great Hall and he told me what had happened. I screamed at him to get Dumbledore and went after Snape. I could drag him out of the tunnel but he saw Remus transform. Dumbledore forbid him to tell anybody about it."

He stopped there, not telling how he'd screamed at Sirius for being a stupid, heartsless bastard. For betraying him and the others, for being too arrogant and rash to think for one moment. How he'd ignored Sirius for the last two months, just sometimes shooting him dirty looks when he caught him watching the three remaining Marauders.

But Mrs Potter seemed to understand very well. Her warm brown eyes looked at him sadly, but she didn't say anything. She knew her son and she was fairly sure that she would've done the same, but it stung to see the two of them torn apart like that. And Sirius was undoubtly regretting his actions.

James returned to look at his friend, still out cold and the sight sent shivers up his spine. He combed his fingers through the dark tangled hair, silently praying Sirius to open his eyes and tell him everything was ok.

But he didn't open his eyes.

About half an hour later Mrs Potter was done. She told James to watch his friend and inform her if he woke up. After tugging the blanket around Sirius to keep him warm and conjuring a few cushions for James to sit with him comfortably she left the room to prepare tea and some dinner.

James hand was still resting on top of Sirius' head and he absentmindly resumed to caress his friend's hair in a comforting manner. His stomach was aching slightly and he wondered if this would have happened if he and the others hadn't shut him out like that.

But something else bugged him. He had to think about what his mother had said. Had Sirius really prefered to stay alone and helpless out there? Had he really pondered to ask him for help and turned down the thought? But why?

For a moment the messy-haired boy felt rage flare up in chest again. But a second later he regretted the thought, feeling slightly guilty for even considering that. Because he was fairily sure that Sirius hadn't stay away because he was too proud to ask help of James. And reconsidering his mother's words he realized she thought the same.

He was ripped out of his thoughts by a loud 'Crack!' and a few moments later his father came into the room, giving his son a small smile. He looked tired and sad. James watched him concernd as he sat down on the edge of his bed, next to him and Sirius.

"How is he doing?", Mr Potter asked gently and took a look at his son's best friend. His mood seemed to lighten up as he saw that James was taking care of the other boy.

"Dunno, Mum says he's gonna be ok.", James mumbled while his hand gently laced through the dark hair again, as though he didn't notice doing it. Mr Potter nodded, but didn't say anything. James looked up at him again.

"What did Dumbledore say? What are we going to do now? He isn't going back, is he, Dad?"

His father shook his head, thoughts obviously somewhere else. "We don't know jet. Have to see what really happened, and Dumbledore thought it best to wait and hear Sirius' story. But he isn't going back, no. Black made it quite clear that he doesn't consider him his son anymore."

James' jaw dropped. "Not his son anymore - they outcast him?!" He found it hard to believe, that somebody could be expelled from his family, just like that. That Sirius' parents hated him so much they didn't want anything to do with him anymore. That they simply didn't care what happened to their own son.

Mr Potter nodded. He seemed to ponder telling his son more about it, but his wife's voice cut him off.

"Harold, there's a call at the fire for you!"

Mr Potter scrambled up and rushed out of the room. James could hear him answer when his mother came in the room, carrying a tray with tea, sandwitches.and some different vials. She placed the tray on James' bedside table and took out her wand. With a wish of the wooden stick she dimmed the light.

She leaned over Sirius and examined the wound at his temple again. The slight frown deepened. Laying a gentle hand on the pale forehead of the unconscious boy she checked for a fever and let out a small sight.

James felt anxiousity take hold of his insides again. His mother pointed her wand at Sirius and muttered a spell. For a moment nothing happened. Then James felt his friend moving slightly and pale-blue eyes fluttered open.

Sirius didn't seem to recognise him, he was staring ahead blankly. Mrs Potter raised her hand again to touch his face, but with a quiet whimper the young Animagus clenched his eyes shut and tried to turn away. He twisted his side and James wrapped his arms around his friend as he gasped in pain.

Holding his friend tightly so he couldn't move to hurt himself again James started to murmur reasuring words into his ear. They didn't really make sense but after some minutes Sirius had calmed down again, though still giving no sign of recognition. He was trembling slightly.

Mrs Potter waited for Sirius to calm down enough to allow her to touch him. With James at his side he didn't jump away again, but she noticed him tense up as she gently took hold of his face to have a look at the wound. Trying hard not to startle him again she aplied a thick liquid on the open wound and let out a sigh as he relaxed in James' arms.

The wound seemed to be infected, explaining his temperature. If he were lucky the fever would go down in two days at the latest. The fractured ribs seemed to be healing nicely, so that he should be ok by tomorrow.

She reached out to the bedside table and handed a filled teacup to her son. "See if you can get him to drink, I'll see what your father's doing so far." She gave him a reasuring smile. James felt something in his chest loosen and he smiled back.

After watching his mother leave he turned to Sirius. Figuring that his friend wouldn't know him anyway he carefully pulled him up until he was leaning against him. He placed the rim of the cup against his lips, trying to animate Sirius to take a sip.

The boy did so, but seemed to have trouble swallowing the warm liquid. Still holding the teacup up with one hand James reached around Sirius and placed his fingertips against the other's throat. He was murmuring to his friend again and started to massage his adam's apple gently. After a few moments Sirius gulped the tea down. James smiled.

Repeating the procedure his mother had taught him some years ago the bespectabled teen poured the whole cup into his friend's mouth. Sirius sank back against him exhausted and started to slip of into sleep.

Mrs Potter re-entered the room, and after having a final look at her patient gently forced the content of a small vial from the tea tray down Sirius' throat. The teen coughed slightly, but then James could see his lids drop and body go limp as he slipped off to sleep.

His mother however waved her wand again and with a low 'Bump!' a second bed appeared next to the first. "Time to sleep for you, too. And no, I won't have a talk about it now.", she added in a slightly amused tone.

She ushered James out of the bed Sirius was occupying and tucked the sleeping boy under the blankets. James cuddled into his bed, too. Walking over to her son Mrs Potter kissed him on the forehead. "Good night, dear.", she whispered, getting a quiet "'Night, Mum." in return. Giving Sirius a kiss, too, she left the room, putting out the light as she went.

James watched his friend in the dim moonlight for a long time before he, too, fell asleep.


He could hear hushed voices whispering to each other. He didn't undetstand what they were saying, but they sounded worried. What were they talking about? James opened his eyes and looked over to Sirius' bed. His friend was still asleep.

Next to his bed sat Mrs Potter and cooled the teen's forehead with a wet cloth. Still a bit sleepy James got up and sat down on the other side of Sirius' bed. The other boy's face was pale and clammy, only his cheeks were flushed slightly.

"Morning James. Slept well?" His mother's voice startled him out of his thoughts and he looked up in her tired face.

"Yeah. You were up all night, weren't you?"

She nodded. "Your father is talking to Dumbledore. They're sorting out where Sirius will stay now until he's old enough to take care of himself." The young Animagus looked up at his mother.

"What's wrong with him staying here? You always said you liked him and that he didn't deserve to live with that bunch of Dark wizards as a family anyway."

Mrs Potter gave her son a long look. "Well, it's nothing wrong with him staying here at all, at least not with me and your dad. But we thought it better to wait so you two could sort it out among yourselves."

James was about to protest, but suddenly the meaning of her words hit him with full force. What if Sirius didn't want to stay? After being treated worse than a Slytherin by him for giving away Remus' secret, he might not consider him as a friend anymore. And Sirius had enough aunts and uncles he could stay with until graduation.

He looked down at his friend with a very heavy feeling in his stomach. Last night he had completely forgotten about the events concerning the Willow- inciedent. His mother pushed the wet cloth in his hand and got up.

"I'll go and see if your father needs help. If he wakes up try to make him drink some tea, all right?" James nodded and without another word Mrs Potter left the room. Suddenly the black-haired teen felt very exposed.

Thoughts and emotions swirled through his head. He lifted the cloth and gently wiped it over Sirius' brow. He felt sorry for his friend. He remembered being mad at him. He knew that Sirius would be alone if he didn't make him stay. He was shocked that the Blacks hated their son so much. He felt ashamed for shutting Sirius out himself.

The afternoon following the Willow-inciedent swam into his mind. Remus had been in the hosptal wing, and James had accompained him after throwing Sirius out. The young werewolf had been shocked, ashamed, even scared. Of course he had thought that Sirius was at fault, but he hadn't fumed with rage like James.

It had been Remus who had felt sorry for Sirius first. 'Look James, I know that he's done something horrible, I know the best that he can't make that good again. But we can't shut him out forever. I know what it's like to be lonely all the time and have other people shoot dirty looks your way. I don't want a friend going through the same.'

He remembered his own harsh response that had shut Remus up. He knew that his words had been reported to Sirius and that his friend had suffered badly from their taunting. But at that time he'd felt that Sirius deserved it for what he'd done.

His thoughts were interrupted by a faint moan. He looked down to see Sirius waking up slowly and blink at the bright sunlight flooding the room. After some moments his eyes focused and his gaze drifted to the face looming above him. The two boys stared at each other.

Sirius tensed up and his eyes took the same hunted and guilt-ladden expression they had worn ever since James had screamed at him to get out of the hospital wing and not dare coming back again. If possibly he shrank even further away from the bespectabled teen, supressing a whimper at the ache in his side.

As James didn't say anything but kept staring at him Sirius cast his eyes sideways, obviously ashamed. He started to heave himself on his ellbows and inch away from his friend as if scared what he would say. The picture tore at James' heart.

Before Sirius could move further away he reached over and pulled him into a hug, trying not to hurt him as he did so. Sirius went riggid in his arms, but James ignored him. He pressed his friend to himself, relieve flooding through him like a giant wave, and he felt as though it washed away the last two months completely.

"I'm sorry, Sirius. I'm so sorry.", he murmured quietly.

Hesitantly Sirius hugged him back, and for the first time in weeks he felt accepted and loved again. Suddenly he didn't care if his 'family' never wanted him back and that he was likely to be expelled from Hogwarts. He had James back and that was all that mattered to him at the moment.

He wanted to say something, anything. Tell James that it was his fault, and that they were right not to forgive him. Tell him what had happened; ask him what he should do now. But his throat was dry and instead of getting out proper words he started coughing. Tears were burning in his eyes, and as James pulled away and looked at him he saw that his friend was crying, too.

"Remus wanted to forgive you, he said that you'd been punished enough and that you shouldn't be lonely, but I didn't listen to him. It's entirely my fault, Sirius. I'm sorry!"

Sirius only shook his head and burried his bruised face in James' shoulder, letting the tears flow freely. He didn't deserve James' forgiveness, or Remus'. It somehow hurt to know James was fully accepting him again, when his own consciene was telling him incessantly that he didn't even deserve to be near them anymore. The guilt seemed to weight heavier on his chest than ever.

James obviously knew what his friend was thinking, he held him until the other Animagus had calmed down again. Without another word he placed a ful teacup against Sirius' lips, not letting him stop drinking until the last drop of liquid was gone.

"Dad found out that you'd done magic unallowed yesterday and figuring that you were in trouble we went to look for you. When - when I saw you lying in the snow I thought I'd never see you alive again. I was so scared. Why didn't you call me for help?"

Sirius cast guilty eyes to the floor and tried to form an apology or an explaination, but before he could open his mouth to speak James went on:

"We brought you here and Mum took care of your injuries. Dad informed Dumbledore -" At this point Sirius looked at his friend with big and slightly scared eyes. "- and he said that until they were sure what to do next you should stay with us."

Sirius didn't quite know what to say. A happy smile was tugging at James' lips, but he found himself unable to return it. The thought of his family made his stomach churm.

"I - I can't go back, James. They threw me out. My father would - would go berserk if I came back again. And I'm probably expelled from Hogwarts, too.", he croaked, his throat burning slightly. He was becoming aware of his aching side, but the helplessness was even worse.

"You know what? Mum and Dad said that there's no problem with you staying with us. Except you don't want of course.", James said, his voice gentle.

The battered face shot up again and Sirius looked at him with an undefinable expression. He was surehe had dreamt that James had said that. Surely he didn't mean . . . what Sirius hoped he meant?

"Stay - here? You mean I can stay here? With your family?"

James nodded, his eyes growing serious. "Yes, you can; if you want until graduation or longer. I'm not blaming you for anything, Sirius. You made it quite clear that you regrett your actions, and if I'd known that something like this would happen I'd have listened to Remus and said this before: I forgive you. And I ask you to join us again, as a friend and a Marauder."

Sirius looked at him and a single tear slipped down his cheek. Before James could say anything else he'd thrown himself against his friend and hugged him so tightly, that he knocked the breath out of his friend. Sirius felt as if something bigand warm was growing inside his ribcage, threating to blast.

"Thanks James. Thank you! You have no idea what that means to me.", he murmured quietly against his friends neck, his voice braking. James smiled and wrapped his arms around him.

"Yor're welcome, Padfoot. Merry Christmas!"

A/N: So, what do you think? I really liked it, it was so much fun to write! (Poor Sirius, lucky that he's James to look after him!) I simply HAD to write it!!!

Anyway, comments, critics, flames and everything else is welcome, as long as you put it into a review and sent it! ;)