Did I ever tell you about the first time we met?
It was in a small muggle hospital in the town your parents visited for their anniversary celebration. You were about thirty minutes old. The nurse had just finished cleaning you up and would have handed you to your mother, but she was asleep and James was filling out paperwork. So, I was given the privilege of being the first wizard to ever hold you in his arms. You were the smallest baby I ever saw; not that I'd seen very many up close before. I'd always had a phobia about little kids.
Well, that didn't last. The moment I laid eyes on your small, sleeping form, I was smitten, Harry. Utterly smitten. You were adorable and so very tiny. I was afraid to break you. It was at that moment I knew you would do the most amazing things. And I would be there to watch out for you. I would be a second father whether James chose Remus as your official godfather or not.
Did I ever tell you how beautiful your smile is?
The first time I saw it was when you were almost a year old. Your James and Lily couldn't find anyone to baby-sit you during the Order meeting, so they brought you with them. Dumbledore thought it was sweet having you there, but the others didn't share his open-minded entertainment. Well, I was happy to see you, as well, even if you looked petrified of us. So what did the other Aurors do? They shoved me out of the room with you in my arms and told me to watch you. I was flustered and piqued by their lack of manners, but I couldn't stay mad with such an adorable charge.
I took a seat on the stairs with you in my lap and brooded quietly. You seemed to be doing likewise in your own way. You were pouting and didn't make a single noise, which I didn't think was natural for someone so young. It was my understanding that infants cause racket and mayhem wherever they go. That's why I never wanted children of my own. I wanted to play with them and spoil them for a while and then give them back to their mom and dad to discipline. So, you can imagine how strange it was for me to have a silent baby in my lap. I decided to make up for the stillness with conversation. I told you my name. When you didn't respond, I asked you what was wrong with you and patted your head in concern. You stopped pouting and looked up at me with wide green eyes. Your mouth was hanging open and you began to drool all over my robe. Drool didn't bother me; Padfoot drools all the time (but don't you tell anyone!).
The endless stare made me really nervous so I tried to shift your attention by pointing out at the white snow covering the ground. You spared it a glance but looked back at me right away like you were going to miss something if you didn't. You have a very piercing stare, Harry, let me tell you; and you don't blink for unnatural lengths of time. Anyway, I tried everything to entertain you: making faces, turning into Padfoot, giving you rides on my shoulders, performing magic tricks, and all kinds of things. But none of them seemed to get any major reaction from you.
You just kept watching me, almost like you were ensnared by snake eyes. So, I gave up trying to get a rise out of you and started talking about…what was it…oh yeah! It was about Quidditch. What else is worth talking about, right? So, I was babbling on like an idiot about stories of our team's victories and blunders when you started giggling. I wasn't even saying anything funny. Whatever it was, you found it hysterical because you laughed for almost ten minutes. When you calmed down, you just grinned up at me with your bright eyes and your chubby cheeks and that overjoyed, toothless smile. Shortly after that, the meeting was let out and you left with your parents. Remus filled me in on the meeting details after we waved goodbye to James and Lily, but the only thing I could think of was your gleeful smile and your bubbly laughter.
Did I ever tell you what your first word was?
It was my name. How cool is that? The first word you ever said was my name. I can just see the disbelief on your face as you read this. Don't look that way, Harry; it's the truth! It was on your first birthday. You brooded the entire day, or so I was told. While your guests were around, you would crawl into the corner and pout and not look at anyone. Your dad told me you hadn't spoken yet and he was worried you'd be mute. It made me wonder if you ever cried or laughed around them because that was enough to assure anyone you had a wonderful voice. I came late to the party and saw you in the corner. Lily was crying. I guess she was worried about you. James was the one who greeted me and told me about the party's events. He told me you bit one of the witches who tried to pick you up. He told me you were always like that. You never let anyone hold you or touch you. Even with your parents, you had to be the one to engage the contact. It doesn't sound like you, does it? I didn't think so either.
The Harry I know and love couldn't be that distant at such a young age. Personally, I think it's because they didn't believe enough in you for you to accept their affections. I remember approaching you and tapping your shoulder. You turned around curiously to see who was bothering you. You had tears running down your cheeks and puffy red eyes. I heard you sniffle softly and stifle a hiccough. I felt sad to see you hiding your pain, whatever it was. I still don't know. But, I didn't want you to cry as much as I didn't want you to hide. I wanted to see your smile again and hear you laugh hysterically over absolutely nothing. I wanted to see all your pent up joy pour out at once. And it did; the moment you recognized me. I don't know why, but I guess it cheered you up to see me there.
I reached out and pulled you into my arms, and you let me. I stood up and smiled at you. You made me so proud. And I told you so. It's not like you really understood the words, but I said it anyway, and it made all the difference. You knew my words were meant to encourage you and to make you smile. You smiled even wider than last time and laughed loudly. And then, you spoke the single word that made my heart swell with happiness. "Sirius." You said my name. You actually remembered my name-remembered me. I took it as a sign to say you liked me. And boy did that make my day! Lily and James were shocked, and a little angry that I could get you to speak with just a smile and a few words when they couldn't get a smile with all their efforts. I would have been a little unnerved at that, too.
Then, James brought up the matter of their secret keeper. I, of course, insisted Wormtail take that responsibility. James passionately disagreed so we argued for a bit. You didn't like that. You started crying loudly, but we ignored you-even me. Your parents and I parted that night on bad terms. The next day, they went into hiding. I never saw them again after that. I was never able to clear the air and set things straight between us. James died angry with me. My best friend died with a bitter grudge against me. And then I was accused to betraying him and thrown into Azkaban. I've never spoken to anyone about my experiences in that place. But…I…
Did I ever tell you what I thought about when I was locked up?
I thought about what I'd do to the real traitor, sure, but I also thought about what you would have to suffer as a result of that night-the night you defeated a dark lord. Even as I was being tortured, beaten, threatened, harassed, raped, and robbed of all my happiness, I was always worried first and foremost about what would be thrust upon your shoulders and what you'd be treated like until the day you discovered the truth. It's foolish, yes, but I couldn't help it. I thought about what I'd do and say if I ever met you and how I'd convince you that I didn't serve Voldemort.
I thought about how I could help you if you did accept my truth. I was motivated by those thoughts-accompanied by the thoughts of being able to live together and being able to fulfill my role as your guardian-to escape. They gave me the strength to hold onto the hope I found in you. It was you who saved me from myself in that prison and it was you who freed me from my guilt of betraying James-of insisting that Pettigrew should be their secret keeper and leading them to their demise. For that I am infinitely and eternally grateful, Harry.
Did I ever tell you how proud I am to have you as my godson?
When I got out of Azkaban, I was overwhelmed by countless stories of your noble deeds and your perseverance. I listened and searched everywhere for more information about you, and with each new morsel of news, I was astounded to find you had an honorable heart-although it shouldn't have been a surprise, it was. But, more than that, you had a servant's heart. You always wanted to help others. You never asked for anything in return. You loved and accepted others so easily-accepted me, and that's no easy feat when you consider my boisterous, confrontational attitude and my post-Azkaban appearance. You willingly put yourself in harm's way for the sake of people you hardly knew. I could never do that. I wouldn't even consider such a course of action unless it was for your sake, Harry. By the way, Harry…
Did I ever tell you just how much I love you?
I don't think I did. I think it was too difficult for me to put into words before, and now it's too late. Harry, I love you and will always love you more than anything. You are the most important person in my life and the absolute best thing that ever happened to me. I am so happy that I was able to know you. I'm even happier to be important to you. It would be my greatest honor to show you this by giving up everything I have for you-even my very life. I am unworthy of dying for you, but it would be a perfect end, to a not-so-perfect life. It would be enough to make me feel redeemed. I want you to be happy and to always wear that smile you showed me secretly that day on the steps of Headquarters when you were a baby. You deserve a life of peace and bliss, and people you love and who love you back. You deserve to find true happiness, Harry. It is my greatest wish that you do. And Harry, thank you for letting me be your godfather.
With all my love,Sirius Black