Babysitting Harry

Mon.12.Jan.2004

***

He was beginning to tug at his own hair. Harry had spent the better part of the past hour wailing at his parents' departure.

"Just entertain him, they say," he grumbled to himself, pacing the floor in the living room for the umpteenth time. "He's a bit rambunctious at times, though. Oh really."

Suddenly, the crying stopped and Sirius ran, dropping to his knees in front of the baby, certain that he had ceased to breathe.

"What? Are you alright?" He thought for a minute at the irony of checking on a baby when it stopped crying. The child looked at him with red eyes and hiccoughed a couple times. Sirius looked back with a hopeful smile, but Harry began to breathe funny again, his face twisting and the man on his knees was filled with a dread like he'd never known before.

"Don't. Just, no," he shushed, sternly. Then added, "Please?"

No luck.

Sirius sat back on his haunches, physically and mentally drained from this whole ordeal. He glanced at the clock on the wall behind the couch where Harry continued to scream, and silently cursed James and Lily for thinking he could do this. Then again, it was his idea.

"Come on, Harry. You've got to be sleepy or something, right? I'm not doing anything and I'm dog-tired." A thought occurred to him and he considered it for a moment. A brief moment, at that, for it was hard to concentrate when a ten-month old was howling, merely a foot away from you.

"If I do this, you had better stop this nonsense," he muttered to the baby who mellowed momentarily as Sirius backed away from the settee a little and got on all fours. He looked again at the child. Harry started gasping for air, preparing for another good shriek at this poor excuse for a babysitter, his lip aquiver. The man changed into the big black dog before the cry rang out.

Silence.

'Well, this is nice, isn't it?' Sirius thought, somewhat happily, sitting in front of the couch and examining the child's reaction.

Harry's eyes were wide and his mouth hung open. He inhaled slowly and the dog shied back a bit, expecting another tantrum, but the corners of the gaping mouth twitched.

"Puuuuuuddddyyyyyyy!"

Before he had time to react, Harry lunged at the animal and clung to it's ears.

'This wasn't the reaction I expected. At least he's not crying.'

"Puddy!" he cried, two inches away from the dog's muzzle.

'Yes, that's me.'

Harry gave the ears a good tug.

'They're ears. They're mine. Let go.'

Harry thought for a moment and Sirius attempted to pull free of the child's grasp, but he only gripped them tighter and kissed the wet, black nose.

"Puddy," Harry repeated quietly, hugging the dog.

'This I can live with.'

The baby released the dog a climbed down off of the couch to stand next to the animal and admire his new pet. He patted it on the head, a little harder than Sirius would have liked, but what could he do?

'Okay, stop … stop with the petting.'

Harry didn't and Sirius growled a little and nudged the baby with his nose, who then lost his balance and fell with a soft 'thud' to the hardwood floor. There was moment when he feared he'd hurt the kid, but Harry soon began laughing and rolled onto his stomach. The dog took a deep breath and stretched out next to him.

'Finally,' he thought, closing his eyes for a moment.

There was movement next to him and thudding footfalls and his eyes snapped open to see retreating overalls and already unkempt fringe waving in the air as Harry bolted unsteadily for the kitchen. He tripped on something unseen and sprawled forward on the floor, but without missing a beat, jumped up again. He grinned back at the dog before running out of sight.

'Who was I kidding? He's a Potter.' Sirius got to his feet and followed the baby, finding him with his legs hanging out of a lower cabinet, heels upward.

'Does he think he's hiding?'

The dog barked once and heard a giggle and the little toes wriggled, sticking out of the cuffs of his overalls.

'Guess so. I can play.' Sirius pretended to look around the kitchen, barking at different places and enjoyed hearing the muffled gurgling from under the counter.

'Oh, where's the baby? Is Harry in here?' he thought jovially as he barked especially loudly into the rubbish bin which echoed. Sirius distinctly heard a 'puddy' in between the giggling that time.

The dog approached the wiggling toes and touched them ever so slightly with his cold nose. Harry squealed and attempted to pull his legs into the cabinet, but Sirius took the back of the overalls in his teeth and pulled the toddler out.

This sent the child into renewed fits of laughter and Sirius carried him into the playroom, dropping him carefully onto the circular rug in the center off the floor. Harry flopped over onto his back and the dog nuzzled his belly.

"Puddy!"

'This isn't so bad,' he thought, licking the baby's cheeks. He stopped suddenly, and cocked his head to the side. There was a brown smudge on the child's face. 'That explains why he tastes like chocolate. Now where did he get chocolate?'

He barked once at the baby, telling him to stay put, though he was well aware this was a futile attempt. Sirius returned to the open cabinet and found a stash of Cadbury's dairy milk, a corner missing from the slab and lots of slobbery fingerprints muddling the face of the bar.

"Puuuuuuddddyyyyyyy!"

The dog spun and stood in the entry to the kitchen, looking down the corridor at the door to the playroom. Slowly, he crept down the hallway and peered in.

No baby.

'Uh-oh.'

Sirius barked, hoping to get a response.

He did, but wasn't pleased with where it came from.

'Upstairs? How'd he get upstairs …?' He growled and bounded up the stairs. Harry was sitting in the middle of the landing, grinning, the chocolate smudge still on his face. As soon as the dog mounted the top stair, the child got to his feet and ran into his parents' bedroom at the end of the hall, shutting the door.

'I really hope that didn't latch.'

Sirius followed and pawed at the door, which swung open easily. Wasting no time in eluding capture, Harry crawled under him and started running again. The dog grunted and ran after him, hoping to catch him before he got too far.

The baby glanced back and shrieked when he saw that he was being pursued, but ere the animal could take hold of the back of his overalls again, he dropped to his hands and knees and began crawling back down the stairs.

Sirius tried to stop running as he made it to the stairwell, but he couldn't get the desired traction on the hardwood and he skidded past, yelping and crashing into the wall. Harry laughed and continued the painstaking process of being two-and-a-half feet tall and descending stairs. When he finally made it to the ground floor, the child shot off for the kitchen cupboard, mumbling something about 'puddies'.

Sorting himself out after his brief run-in with the house, Sirius made his way down the steps. He heard shuffling in the kitchen and headed for the lower cabinet. Without so much as a warning bark, he grabbed the child up by his overalls and dragged him back into the living room, licking the remaining chocolate off his face.

'No evidence here. Mmm. That's good chocolate.'

Sirius sat down next to the child who took to stroking his fur lightly. A yawn escaped the boy's mouth and the dog would have smiled if physically possible in this form, but he didn't believe it for a second.

'Yeah, right, don't even.'

The lids over the vivid green eyes began to droop and Harry would shake himself awake to grin and flash his four teeth at his watcher.

'Oh, fine, but if you run …'

Sirius laid out on his side on the floor in front of the baby, who yawned again. He continued to pet the dog as his eyes closed and he fell forward.

Sirius' head jerked up. 'What the-? Oh, thank God.'

Harry murmured something that sounded awfully like, "My puddy," before his breathing slowed and became regular. There was the strangest cold sensation on Sirius' side and he thought about this as he began to succumb to his subconscious.

* * *

"Oh, James, look," Lily whispered when they walked through the front door to find Harry and the dog sleeping soundly on the floor.

"Where's a camera when you need it?" James chuckled, shutting the door noiselessly, and smiling.

"I'll take Harry upstairs," she said, kneeling to pick up the child. Sirius stirred as she hoisted the boy into her arms. He changed back to his human self and stretched, cringing from the stiffness.

"What happened to your face?" James asked his waking friend as Lily made for the stairwell. She turned to see what her husband spoke of.

"What?" Sirius asked, his arms falling limply to his side. Lily reached out and touched his left cheek. He winced and pulled away. "Don't do that again."

"What happened?" James repeated looking closely at the bump that had bruised over nicely. Lily frowned at the child she was carrying.

"Did Harry do that?" she asked quietly.

James laughed.

"Gave you the old one-two, eh?" the boy's father joked. "Attaboy, Harry," he said, ruffling his son's hair. This woke him up and Lily turned her look of distaste to the man before her, silently scolding him for daring to touch the sleeping child. "You've got a sharp right hook, there, son."

Harry giggled, his tired eyes betraying his laughter.

"Don't encourage him, James."

"It wasn't Harry. It was the wall upstairs," Sirius said, tickling Harry's chin. Both parents looked at their friend, eyebrows raised inquisitively. "Tell you later. I'd best get on, though."

"Already?" James asked, glancing at the clock.

"I'm knackered. Your floor's nice, but it doesn't offer any lower back support."

"You going to apparate, then?"

"Think I'll walk actually." Sirius knew this didn't make sense, but he liked walking. He started for the door and Harry started fussing in his mothers arms.

"What? Do you want down? It's time for bed, Harry," Lily insisted, straining to keep hold on her son. "Fine. You're down. Flee."

Once the boy was on his feet, he ran at Sirius and grabbed hold of his right leg.

"My puddy," the child cried into the cloth of the trousers.

Sirius petted Harry's soft black hair and returned the curious looks of his parents with a lopsided smile.

"Puddy? As in …?" James was at a loss.

"Puppy," Lily scolded. "I told you he's been begging for one ever since Hagrid brought Fang by last week."

"No," Sirius interjected sternly.

Lily quirked an eyebrow at him.

"I'm his puddy."

Harry squeezed the leg tighter but turned his head a little to look at his father who was laughing from the couch where he'd fallen.

Sirius knelt and the ten-month old wrapped his arms around the man's neck.

"My puddy … stay."

Lily looked as though she might cry.

Sirius smiled and placed his hands on the boy's arms, holding him out in front of him a little.

"We'll see each other again," he whispered, kissing the child's forehead.

Harry smiled back. Turning, he ran to his mother, waving as they went up the stairs.

"Night-night, puddy."

Sirius stood quickly, clearing his throat and making a face at his still-chortling friend. James stopped laughing and walked to him.

"Thanks for watching him, Padfoot. Harry can be … difficult, sometimes," he said, putting his hands in his pockets.

"Aw, he's not so bad. Like Hagrid says, 'once you know how ter calm 'em'."

They laughed and James furrowed his brow suddenly, pointing at a spot on Sirius' shirt.

"Looks like he got you, though."

Sirius frowned a looked down, becoming aware of his shirt clinging wetly to his side.

"Well, what good is a puddy who doesn't drool, if you can't drool on him?"

James smiled, "Goodnight, Sirius."

"Goodnight, Prongs."











©2004 – Roxanne L. Martin, Writings From Behind The Red Door