As he peeled off his shirt, careful not to agitate the bruised ribs his godfather had inflicted on him, he couldn't help but pause as it reached his face to dab at his eyes. He had never expected his summer to turn out like it had. Everything had seemed so perfect at the beginning of summer! How had it sunk to this level?
Checking to make sure that the door was still locked, he sprawled himself out on his bed, wincing at his sore back. He was going to have to go down the stairs and clean up the mess that had been made the previous night. He would still have a couple of hours before the hangover induced sleep wore off. He examined the damage done to his chest. Nothing life threatening. Nothing life threatening had ever happened to him this summer. A whack to his ribs, or a kick to his side every now and then. It wasn't anything that would require a doctor. No bones had ever been broken. Nothing horrible. Nothing serious.
He was lucky. He constantly told himself that. A lot of kids had it worse off then him. He knew all about how kids would be tortured and abused and raped by their parents. He was smacked around a little bit. It wasn't that big of a deal. If he told child services, chances were, they would laugh at the accusations that he got a punch every once in a while. Wasn't that supposedly normal for people to discipline children that misbehave?
"Almost every night isn't normal." A persistent voice in the back of his head would whisper. "And you didn't do anything wrong. You don't deserve this."
He was very adept at shrugging that little voice out of his head. Even so, he couldn't stop the tight feeling he got in his throat.
Even so, he wouldn't call child services. He wouldn't send an owl to Ron and Hermione. He wouldn't tell anybody. He couldn't. He didn't even have the courage to confront Sirius about it.
When he decided that he had spent enough time moping, he pulled on another shirt and went down the stairs to examine the damage. He treaded the stairs carefully. He could never be sure that there wasn't any broken glass on the stairs. If he got glass stuck in his foot, it would be difficult to explain a limp. He pulled on his shoes, which had been kicked across the room the previous night. He picked up the glass bottle that was strewn across the room and some of the other ones that had been broken. It was never safe to run the vacuum cleaner. It was extremely loud and he couldn't afford to be noisy. He got the trashcan and put the pieces of glass in it, careful to adjust some paper towels so that they covered the broken whisky bottles.
He stopped in front of a broken window in the living room. His eyes met the glass that had shattered on the lawn. He knew that he would never get it fixed in time. He would have to claim that he was playing with a ball outside and accidentally threw it through the window or something. He would also have to pick up the glass on the lawn so that Sirius didn't get suspicious since he was claiming that he had been playing outside.
He sprayed some air-freshener around the house to get rid of the smell of alcohol. Wizards had come up with a formula that didn't cover up the smells, but actually got rid of them. That way Sirius wouldn't wonder why the house smelled like flowers or something of the like.
He worked furiously to mend a broken chair leg with super glue without making it look extremely noticeable. He would have to put that chair towards the back of the room and hope that it managed to hold everyone's weight.
When the room looked presentable, he decided that he should go take a shower and then see if there was any remaining smell to the house.
After he entered the bathroom, he decided that a bath might be better. He needed a chance to relax. Undressed carefully to avoid harming himself further. He rested in the hot water, eager to relax his bruises and contusions.
He knew Sirius didn't mean to do any of it. He couldn't. His godfather was really great, and he truly loved him. It was just… the alcohol made him crazy. Crazy enough to be violent. Even to Harry. He relished the times when Sirius was fine. When he decided not to drink. When he wasn't cruel and sadistic.
As much as he tried to, he couldn't justify his godfather's behavior. Why did he have to get drunk? Why couldn't he just be the loving, caring father figure that he had expected to play quidditch with, and give good advice? But he couldn't really complain. At least he was loved. When he was at the Dursley, he was hated, and neglected. At least now he had a normal guardian most of the time.
The truth was, Sirius didn't know what he was doing. As far and Harry knew, Sirius didn't even realize that Harry knew about the alcohol abuse. Every night when he got drunk and took his aggressions out on Harry, he never remembered any of it the following day.
Usually, he would lock himself in his room and would get drunk. He would then let himself out and find Harry. He tried locking the door, but Sirius would always unlock it magically. He was extremely lucky that Sirius didn't manage to set the house on fire with his wand. After he was found, Sirius would then beat him up. Mostly it wasn't too serious. A kick to the ribs, or punch to shoulder was the norm. It was the words that stung him the worst.
He would blame him. In his drunken slur, he would accuse him of killing off his parents. Of all the things that Harry silently blamed himself for that Sirius would normally reassure him of his innocence in.
The worst of it was that he didn't know what to believe. Maybe it was just the alcohol talking, but perhaps it was actually what he was inwardly thinking. What if Sirius really did think he was responsible for all of it? He didn't think he could deal with that.
After assaulting him, Sirius would usually go back to his room to sleep off the intoxication. He never remembered any of it the following morning.
He put his head in his arms, and rested on the side of the tub. He couldn't tell Sirius about any of it. It would crush him! He knew that Sirius really did care about him: almost over protectively. He would tell him not to wander too far from the house, and not to fly too high when he was playing Quidditch. Harry found it a bit ironic in a sadistic way.
If Sirius found out that he was actually hitting Harry, he didn't know what his godfather might do.
Not to mention, that he was kind of scared of what might happen to him if he told anyone. If someone found out, he might be put back with the Dursley's. He might be put in foster care, or adoption. What if Sirius was put in jail? He knew Sirius didn't mean to do any of it. That was why he stood up for Sirius.
After letting the water out of the tub, Harry put on a new pair of jeans and a gray shirt. Sirius had even gotten him new clothes, and glasses. It just didn't seem conceivable that the Sirius who had taken him to London to spend hundreds of pounds worth of new stuff was actually that violent inside.
Once, Sirius had slipped up, and told Harry that he had had a bad childhood. When Harry questioned him, he got really cagey. Harry was beginning to wonder if Sirius had a split personality.
He left the bathroom, and surveyed the room for anything he might have missed.
The room looked as equally messy as it had the previous night, spare the broken window.
He loved his new home. He found not having to pick up after himself almost satisfying in a way. Sirius had a rule about having the house look a bit messy at all times. At the very least, it had to look lived in. So he left books and letters and shoes randomly around the house. It added a sort of homely feeling to the place.
When he had nothing left to do, he decided to sit down and watch Saturday morning cartoons for a little while. When he heard stumbling coming from upstairs, he got up and started making breakfast for the two of them.
Usually, Sirius was in a bit of a mood after a night of heavy drinking until his headache let up. Trying to improve his mood, he would make breakfast for the both of them. It would slightly work, though Sirius would more often then not pass on breakfast.
"Hey." Sirius said, and Harry almost couldn't tell that he had a hangover. There was a spell Sirius would use that helped him wake up and be pleasant.
"Hey." Harry replied. "Bacon?" He offered, when he came to the table with a frying pan.
"No. Thanks anyway." Sirius's attitude may have been okay, but to the careful eye, you could find a lot of signs that Sirius had been drunk. His eyes where bloodshot, and he looked like he was still really tired. "I'll have some water though, if you don't mind."
"Yeah, sure." Harry replied. He set down the water and lay his own breakfast across the table, sitting in the seat that hadn't been just recently glued back together. Harry took one bite out of his eggs and looked up from them to see that Sirius was eyeing him.
"TV?" Sirius suggested.
"Sure." He agreed, but then he realized that Sirius didn't know about the window. The stairs led down into the dinning room, and didn't give one the opportunity to go into the living room without first passing through the kitchen and another hallway. Harry had always found the floor plan a bit odd for the downstairs, but it suited him just fine.
"Uh, wait." Harry didn't know if stalling would really do any good, but he thought it might be a bit less shocking if Sirius was first warned.
Not that Sirius wasn't use to things like that. During his first week living with Sirius in their new house, 'Harry' had accidentally broken a coffee table, and made a dent in the wall.
After the incident with the wall on his third day there, Harry was almost certain that he was going to be kicked out. He had suggested packing his things to Sirius who waved the event off and saying he had been clumsy as a teenager as well.
"What?" Harry surveyed what kind of mood Sirius was in.
"I… accidentally broke a window. I'm sorry."
Sirius's face seemed to contort. He looked like he was trying to be understanding while suppressing frustration. He sighed overdramatically so that Harry could tell it was fake. "What am I going to do with you?"
Harry knew his part. He bowed his head. "I'm sorry. I was playing outside… and it went through the window."
"What did? What were you playing with?" Sirius looked a bit uninterested, and he got up to examine the damage.
"Uh- " Harry hadn't though it through. "I was throwing a tennis ball against the side of the house. I wasn't throwing it anywhere near the window. I don't know. It just… went over there." He followed Sirius into the living room
"I didn't know you played tennis." Sirius commented. His knowledge of muggle activities extended pretty far, but things like expressions and symbolism kind of messed him up.
"No, I was just throwing it. You don't necessarily have to be playing tennis if you're using a ball." Sirius just shrugged.
"Maybe I should make the windows unbreakable." Sirius had tried to cast that spell on most of the items in the house, but most of them didn't work.
"That might be smart." Harry suggested shrugging. What would happen to Sirius if he tried to put his fist through a window that wouldn't break? At least the last time he did it, he didn't cut his fist up really bad.
Sirius fixed the window up and cast the spell on it. He turned to Harry who looked sheepishly back, expecting to be reprimanded. He noticed that since the harsh treatment had begun, he always acted a bit… withdrawn, like he expected to be hit for misbehavior. If he didn't hear about it now… he would the next time Sirius got drunk.
"So, what do you want to do today?" Sirius asked him, not mentioning the window at all.
Harry shrugged, as he finished his breakfast on the couch. He always shrugged. He never knew what to do. "Want to visit Remus?" He suggested.
Remus lived less then a half-mile away. The rural area where they lived was about two miles outside of a small town. Sirius could often pop down to the market for groceries anytime. Harry and him could just walk – or floo – over to Lupin's anytime they wanted to.
Sirius stuck his head into the fire to make sure it was okay with Remus. "He says it's fine Harry." Sirius told him.
Sirius had a motorcycle. He didn't use it much – well, he didn't go out much, so he didn't have many opportunities to use it – but he prized it more then… his hair. And that was saying something. Many times he would disappear and Harry wouldn't see him until he returned several hours later with extremely red hands.
Harry was yet to touch it, actually. Harry, in return, hadn't let Sirius touch his broom; it was more just to spite him then because he was territorial.
It was parked in their garage. Inside was also a gym, which Harry found intriguing. It was a mystery to him why they had such a huge garage – big enough for two vehicles – when they didn't even have a car. There was a heavy punching bag that Harry was sure would probably kill him if it fell on top of him, a speed bag, weights, a treadmill, and a bike. Sirius had a pattern. He would work out for fifteen minutes every morning, and half-an-hour every night. Harry was sure it was one of the only habitual things that Sirius ever maintained besides taking a shower every night. Harry was free to use the gym anytime he pleased, which he had been excited about for all of one day. It then became so tedious for him to work out that he did it once or twice a week.
They passed by the garage on their way to Remus's and Harry wondered why they didn't just floo there. Sirius always had been one for exercise though. It took them about ten minutes to arrive there.
Remus was great. This was the kind of guy who would have been an excellent father and husband. Not that he had a problem with Sirius being his guardian, but if it weren't for Remus's lycanthropy, Harry would have been shocked to see him without a family.
It wasn't as though every time he came over he found himself sitting bored in a chair while Remus and Sirius talked and reminisced, because Remus made an effort to include him in whatever it was they were talking about. Not that Sirius didn't, but he was a lot more prone to accidentally ignoring him.
That happened sometimes. Once, Sirius had almost left without him.
He faced the facts. A single guy was more likely to win guardian of the year then Sirius was. He ignored that fact however, preferring to stay in ignorant bliss.
If anybody noticed Sirius's faults as a surrogate father, it was Remus. The first thing he could hear Remus say was "Sirius, where's Harry?"
"He couldn't keep up too well. He's back there." Sirius shrugged.
He could see Remus peek out of the door and shake his head. When he finally arrived – almost out of breath – Sirius was already sitting on the couch with his feet up on Remus's coffee table. He didn't realize it when he and Remus simultaneously shook their heads.
Harry sat somewhat stiffly on the couch next to Sirius. Remus offered them both some tea, but Sirius – always the charmer – insisted on coffee.
"No thank you sir." Remus smiled kindly at Harry.
"You can call me by my first name you know." Remus
reminded him. He shrugged politely.
"So Rem… How's life been treating you?" He began.
"Not too bad. You know the full moon's this week, so things have been… you know, a bit slow for me.
"Yeah, that's right. It is, isn't it?" Sirius took a sip of coffee. "You still using that old shed in your back yard?"
"Oh." He took another. There was a silence.
"So Remus. You still working on the book?" He asked. For money, Harry assumed, Remus was a very renowned author of dark creatures, though not under his own name.
"Yeah, I'm still reading through it. I'm about ready to send it to the publishers." He replied.
The day continued sluggishly, silences going from a minute to a half-an-hour of silence. They left at about dinnertime, and as they finished the meal, Harry sighed deeply like an old man. Another day, another night, another torture session. The hours of seven a.m. to seven p.m. were his favorite times of day.
They watched TV for three hours before Sirius stated he was going to bed. Harry lay on the couch, agonizingly aware that he had but half-an-hour until Sirius would stagger down the stairs, drunk, and assault him.
Like clockwork, he could hear the staggering and the overturning of furniture. He heard the footsteps on the stairs and ragged breathing… the stench of alcohol assaulted his nose.
"Boy?" He didn't know why, but he found the best way to avoid Sirius's rage was just to stand up and take it.
"What are you doing, you bastard? What the hell do you think you're doing? Going to kill somebody else, are you?" Sirius didn't sound all the drunk. His breath reeked of whiskey, but his voice sounded like he was just talking to Snape, instead of his Godson. He noted oddly how Sirius seemed to sound a bit like his uncle. His thoughts were cut off quickly as Sirius whacked him around the head.
"What, do you want to break any more of my windows? You little asshole. Why don't you go to hell, were you sent your parents?"
He felt a blow to his ribs, and fell to the ground nursing his side. "What, aren't you going to fight back you little bitch? Don't you want to kill me too?" He curled his knees toward his chest as he felt a kick to his stomach. He withheld the tears. He had learned on his day that crying – whether it be tears or calls of pain – would just incite his motivation to continue.
He squeezed his eyes shut in pain, letting no tears leak out. He felt more blows. Some to his back. He felt glass shattering over his arms and back, and cuts opening. Another shirt that would be too torn up to wear.
He felt the blows ebb away for a couple of minutes. He surveyed the room. Sirius was nowhere in sight. He examined the damage that he would have to deal with in the morning. No worse then usual. He noticed that a centerpiece – a bowl of fruit – was overturned and broken. No big deal. Sirius had never liked that anyway.
He climbed the stairs quietly and observed Sirius sprawled out unconscious on his bed.
This had been one of his better nights.