ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN?

by fyre

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TEASER: No one will ever accuse Severus Snape of being a Gryffindor.

TIME LINE/CATEGORY: Cannon up to Goblet of Fire.

RATING: PG Violence, some language.

DISCLAIMER: No major plot-lines, characters, setting, or major events alluded to in this story are mine in any way. No money is being made off this story. Please ask author before reproducing or posting anywhere else.

NOTES: Absolute fluff, but not necessarily happy. This one pretty much wrote itself.

I apologize in advance for the grammar and spelling mistakes that got by me. Some of the odd sentence structure and tenses are purposeful for effect, even if it violates basic principles of grammar. Just go with it.

*****

"Am I- am I done?" the boy gasps. "Is it over? Did we--?"

"Yes you stupid boy, yes," I cut him off harshly. Typical Gryffindor, always has the worst timing. I press down with the heels of my hands on his mangled chest, trying to stop the stream of blood that pulses out with his every heartbeat. "Be quite for one moment of your life and let me think."

But he isn't quiet. He doesn't listen. Hardly surprising; not listening got him into this situation in the first place.

Bloody, stupid--

"Harry!"

Black. Calling for his precious godson. I can only do so many things at once! Ignoring the mutt I scowl down at the blood, shifting my weight so I can free one hand and reach for my potions at my belt.

The boy lets out a half pained gasp at the pressure change to his chest cavity, but still manages to Not. Be. Quiet.

Maybe I should take points?

Why question? Always take points.

"Everyone, Voldemort, Pettigrew . . . it's all--"

"Over, yes, for the tenth time," I snarl even as my fingers identify and discard vial after vial as useless, utterly useless. "You've killed him; you've proved that mongrel's innocence. The world is safe, your duty discharged, there is nothing more to be done. Now let me work!"

"I'm done," he echoes, nothing more than a whisper.

"Harry, where are you?"

Black is closer. This time the boy hears him, eyes fluttering open, distorted, one of them blood-filled.

Not. Good.

"Sirius, and Pro-fessor Lupin," he manages to rasp, choking on their names, blood bubbling up between his lips.

Lupin is dead, has been dead for weeks. Were what little brains the boy had now irrevocably lost? Did I care?

"Shut up boy, they're all alive and I'm sure ecstatically happy that this is all finally over and done with," I mutter at him, leaving my search for a potion-- there isn't anything that will work -- and grabbing the edge of my tattered robe wipe the blood off his chin.

His eyes somehow managed to lock on mine. I can almost believe he's coherent, until--

"Can I go home now?" he asks.

I blink down at him. "What?"

And then there is Black, pelting his way over here, covered in filth and mud and soot, bleeding from some unidentified head wound. "Harry! Oh sweet gods, you're--you're . . ."

Black drops to his knees, looking positively green at the mangled sight of Potter. One would think after all the battlefields he's seen he'd have more control, but what can you expect, really?

"Sirius," Harry breathes. "I heard you."

Black reaches out. If he thinks for one moment the boy needs some comforting sappy hug instead of, oh, I don't know competent medical help he's more stupid than I thought.

"I know, I know, I've been calling for you. How's my godson, huh? You did wonderful." He futily tries to brush back that birds nest hair. "Everything's over now, everything's going to be fine."

Liar. I snort under my breath, wand in hand now, the promise of potions discarded for foolish charms. Always lying to the brat, filling his big arrogant head with overblown, heroic Gryffindor rubbish. Is it any wonder he was at the front lines, a child playing war games thinking it fun, thinking he'll live forever.

Stupid, stupid boy.

Still talking boy.

Ten points from Gryffindor.

"Can I go home? Professor Snape said . . ." he struggles for breath "I was all done. Can I go home now, Padfoot?"

There is a moment of stillness amid the sounds of post-war-- screams, groans, sobs –with Potter's fingers suddenly clenched in Black's bloodstained robe, while the question descends on the minds of the listeners and what the boy is truly asking sinks in.

Not so incoherent after all.

Black breaks eye contact with his godson to stare at me, to give me the ever popular Glare of Hatred, something I am quite familiar with, but this time . . .

If I thought Black had hated me before . . .

The mutt's arms tighten around the frail boy, all bones and elbows still, so young.

Completely ignoring the fact that I am trying to stop Potter from bleeding to death.

Gryffindors.

I pry the boy loose, ignoring Black's animalistic growls. Did that man ever stop being a mongrel?

One hundred points from Gryffindor.

There is a note of desperation in Black's tone now, a pleading. "The war is over, yes. But there's still exams and the end of the year feast and graduation with all your yearmates. There's the whole rest--"

"Want to go . . . home, Siri. All done now. Can I? Please?"

"Harry, Harry don't-- don't ask me that. I'd do--I'd do anything . . ."

How touching. Really.

"You can come too," Potter says sleepily, his mangled body jerking as I tried charm after charm. "Said so."

"Who? Harry, who sai--"

And then I feel it, the prickling along the back of my neck. It is not the cold touch of ghosts, but something much more otherworldly.

And dogs can sense spirits, and Black being more dog than anything is sitting ramrod straight, eyes round with shock. Though why he is so surprised, I'll never know. In this battlefield there are such spirits leaving the world, they are everywhere. But these are different, these are familiar.

These have come with purpose.

(When Harry was little he used to dream when he was locked up in his cupboard, dream that someday, someone would come for him, that it would have been a mistake, that his parents were alive and wanted him.)

The Potters have at last come for their son.

The stream of charms die on my lips. Slowly I pull back my bloodstained hand from the hole in his chest and his breathing hitches as the painful pressure is released.

Only stupid Gryffindors press on in vain, fighting against ridiculous odds for no reward, no reason. Better to save your strength and be sensible. Gryffindors never accomplish anything of merit but getting themselves killed.

The Dark Lord's corpse taunts me from the corner of my eye.

I sit back on my heels, empty so empty.

There is nothing I can do.

Brushing back that unruly hair, Black doesn't even have to force a smile though tears that were dripping tracks in his soot stained face. He will give Potter anything, he always has-- to both father and son. Give anything the boy wants, even this, even . . . permission.

"Of course you can go home, Harry, of course. We'll all go home, all together."

"Together?"

"Sure, I'll be right behind you. Be there in time for your birthday. 18 years and all grown up," Voice breaking, Black crushes the boy to him, pressing a kiss to Potter's scarred forehead. "I love you, Harry, you know that right? I'm so proud of you. So proud I got to be your godfather."

His green eyes, one dilated, the other the white blotted out with blood stare up in amazement at the words. And he smiles, and it was strange and disquieting to see, because I've never seen the boy so happy as now, and wasn't that wrong, all wrong that only now, only here . . .

"Love you too, Padfoot," he whispers.

"Harry?"

"Harry?"

"Harry!"

I never told Albus that the boy had outlived the Dark Lord by several minutes. I never shared with Albus of that conversation, never breathed a word about what I'd said to the Boy Who Was when I found him under the corpse of the Dark Lord struggling to keep living, when I had dragged him out like some broken toy, wiped the blood off his chin, and tried and tried and tried to put him back together. I never spoke about Black, about Potter asking, begging for permission for the one thing he wanted for himself.

And now it is the Boy Who Lived's 18th birthday, now a holiday, now a spectacle that I desperately wanted to avoid. I'm dragged to the "celebration" by a stiff-upper-lip Minerva and our senile-Gryffindor-loving Headmaster.

Not just Britain but the whole wizarding world has practically canonized the boy, his name a prayer, his personage now more revered than Merlin's. There is talk of a museum wing, a monument, a racing broom named after him, a clamoring for pictures and books, official biographies from "the people who knew him best--"

And I think, maybe, just maybe, unlike his father, Harry Potter would have hated all of this.

Maybe all he ever really wanted was what he asked for that day on the field.

But I can't know for sure.

Amid the speeches and the flowers and the sobbing and well wishers of a world renewed in mourning, I wasn't surprised at all to find Sirius Black absent when his name was called to award him with the highest honors possible, the Order of Merlin First Class.

I rubbed my thumb idly over the velvet box that held my own high honors.

No, not surprised at all.

I knew later on, the youngest Weasley boy and perhaps Miss Granger, anxious and worried would floo to the house in Godric's Hollow rebuilt in memory of the Savior of the Wizarding World (a bloody tourist attraction!) and find Black's body lying there, perhaps on the floor, perhaps on top of a made bed with his wand clasped in his hands, or maybe in the bathtub, Gryffindor red everywhere, or maybe hanging from the nursery ceiling, belt tight around his neck . . .

Really, the field was wide open.

I popped the velvet box open and stared at the medal.

For Harry Potter they'd given him the highest medal they had and then made up a completely new honor just for him.

Typical.

I popped the black box closed and couldn't banish the thought of another closed box, with gold handles and a varnished surface covered in lilies.

If I was some pathetic Gryffindor I would no doubt consol myself with thoughts of a black haired green eyed boy celebrating his birthday with his very first party with his family.

(But I'm not, I'm not.)

fin

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