To my latest reviewers: Chib-ryu, thank you for your support, not only of this story, but "A Magic Beyond," too. I really appreciate it. Shiba-sempai, I want to thank you too for your support of this and of my other story. I'm so glad you liked Sirius's character, and that it worked for you. Luvguurl, thank you! I'm happy you like it! Thanks for reading! And Overchay, I agree there was a huge lack of Sirius/Harry interaction in the fifth book. Thus, this project was born. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing.
I also want to thank Stinky Stan, who very kindly took a leap of faith on this and archived it on her C2 community. Thanks, Stinky!
So here it is, folks, the final panel of this most bizarre triptych. Enjoy.
SONGS MY GODFATHER TAUGHT ME
Harry woke up the next morning, warm and comfortable in his cocoon of blankets, and felt quite back to normal. With a sleepy, lazy turn of his head, he saw a blurry Sirius lounging in a chair with a blanket around his shoulders.
"Morning," said Sirius.
"Erm, morning," Harry said back. He wriggled his arms free, took his glasses from the nightstand and put them on. Sirius snapped into focus, smiling so his crows-feet showed.
The sight puzzled Harry. But Sirius said nothing about his apparent bedside vigil, and Harry, thinking he must have missed something obvious and feeling quite stupid, never found the courage to ask his godfather about it.
It didn't look like Sirius noticed Harry's discomfort, though. He helped Harry out of bed, declared him healthy, and handed him clothes, with an order to dress quickly. Mrs. Weasley was making pancakes, but if Harry didn't scoot, they might all disappear before he got any, Sirius said, laughing. He ruffled Harry's hair and left.
Breakfast was delicious, lunch and dinner equally so, and the intervening times flew by in a flurry of last-minute decorating and cleaning, since Christmas Eve Day was tomorrow. Everyone went to bed early. Harry went to bed too, exhausted as the rest of them, but much to his annoyance, he couldn't sleep. So he lay there in the quiet darkness for a bit, blinking at the ceiling as he listened to Ron snore.
Suddenly, there was a blast, a bump that shook a wall, and some muffled cursing below. Resolutely un-sleepy and now quite curious, Harry decided to investigate. He grabbed his wand, put on his glasses, slipped out of bed and crept down the stairs. After a "Lumos!" at the bottom landing, he waved his wand this way and that until he illuminated a shape on the floor. Hurrying towards it he saw it was Sirius, lying in a dazed, dizzy heap under one of the elf-head plaques and wincing at the light.
"Sirius!" Harry exclaimed, helping his godfather up. "What on earth were you doing?"
Sirius was a bit unsteady on his feet. "I was feeling sentimental," he said, toddling into the drawing room and sitting down heavily on the sofa. "Black family tradition, thought I might as well give it a go. Not one of my better ideas, I can tell you." He groaned.
"What happened?" Harry asked, sitting down next to him.
"I tried to incant the first spell to purify the house, and it backfired. Knocked me straight into the wall! Mother's parting gift to me, probably," Sirius explained, now rubbing his head. He sighed. "See, on the night before Christmas Eve, we had to protect the house from evil spirits, or interlopers, or half-bloods, or … well, you get the idea. Anyway, the rituals took all night, so we all had to stay up. World's stupidest tradition, honestly. We were always so knackered by Christmas Day that the dinner table conversation vacillated between boredom and screaming matches. Don't know what made me try it, really."
Harry looked at Sirius for a moment and shut off his wand, leaving them both in darkness. Most people would shake their heads at Sirius and call his display 'misplaced nostalgia.' But to Harry, there was nothing misplaced about longing for your family.
"Erm, want to talk about it?" he asked timidly.
Sirius cast him a shrewd glance. "Somebody," he said, "Is either incredibly bored, or not that keen on sleeping these days, or both."
Harry mumbled something incoherent and admired his slippers. He was pleasantly surprised when Sirius clapped him on the shoulder and led him into the kitchen.
"Ah, a man after my own heart," he said. "Let's have a drink on it, shall we?"
Sirius put a silencing charm on the kitchen door so they wouldn't wake anybody. He poured Harry a glass of warm milk and made himself a cup of tea, and they talked. After all, it was supposed to be just one drink, and then bed.
However, after a few hours eating chocolate biscuits, drinking milk and coffee (Harry had developed a taste for it), and hitting every light topic from Quidditch to the myriad uses of earwax, Harry realized that the one drink was turning into an all-night affair. Not that he minded. Sirius taught him some high-quality dirty jokes and showed him how to play Ka-Blam, a card game he and the other "Marauders" had invented at Hogwarts. It was a very entertaining mix of truth-or-dare and exploding gin rummy.
Sirius also insisted on teaching him to drink firewhisky. "What would James think if I never taught you how?" he argued. "That's dereliction of my godfatherly duty, that is!"
Harry raised a skeptical eyebrow. Sirius, however, just barreled on, clunking two shot glasses onto the table and pouring out two shots of Ogden's.
"Right, pay attention. First, you take a shot." (Sirius did so.) "Then," he said, walking over to the fireplace, "You find a flame, and let one go!" He got down on all fours and belched loudly right into the fire. There was a massive explosion and he pulled away, his face covered in soot. Harry was alarmed, but Sirius just laughed and hiccoughed.
"Come on, boy, have a go! You're in the safe company of a responsible adult."
"Ha! 'Reponsible adult?' Where?" Harry said, amused. He took a shot anyway. The whisky burned and his fireball wasn't all that big, but Sirius looked oddly proud of him.
They played Ka-Blam for a while longer. Sirius had a few more shots of firewhisky. Harry drank some more coffee. They sang several revoltingly modified Christmas carols, secure in the knowledge that no one could hear them, and laughed until their stomachs hurt. And Sirius, once he sobered up, told Harry about some of his misadventures at school. It seemed to Harry that Sirius's time with the Marauders was the best of his life.
After six more biscuits and an espresso each, Sirius had the mad idea to go outside and look at the stars. Harry was, by this point, so thoroughly jumped-up on coffee that he thought this sounded "j-just b-b-b-brilliant!" so Sirius "accio"ed two thick coats and two pairs of boots. The two revelers threw these on over their pajamas and went up on the roof of number 12 to have a look.
They craned their necks for a while, but eventually settled on their backs on the snowy rooftop and pointed straight up to show each other constellations before jamming their hands quickly into their pockets. After an hour of this, Harry's back was wet from the snow. He shivered slightly and Sirius slung one arm around his shoulder.
"You see that star, right there?" Sirius asked finally, pointing at a yellow star to their right. "Your dad dedicated that little twinkler to your mum when they got married."
A short silence followed. Harry didn't know what to say to this at all. All he could come up with was "Wow," and that hardly seemed fitting. Sirius, however, didn't seem to be expecting an answer. He just sighed, lost in a memory, and held Harry a little tighter. Then, impulsive as usual, he burst into song – loud, happy, and very out of tune.
"God rest ye merry, Hippogriffs, let none of you dismay! For there will be some tasty rats for you on Christmas Day! But stay alert when those with missing toes come out to play, oh tidings of comfort and joy, (comfort and joy), oh, tidings of comfort and joy!"
Harry laughed, tired and warm under his godfather's arm. "I'll have to remember that one. Hey, you know what? I think we should make this our own tradition. I'll come round for Christmas, and we can stay up all night and get sauced."
Sirius chuckled at this idea, his breath frosting in the chill night air. "First off, you're far from sauced. And second, why would you want to stay up all night with this old dog?"
Harry thought for a moment. That question, and the honest, happy response that he carried around in his heart, so well-worded that it scared him, was a bit too delicate for this conversation.
"Thanks for bringing me up here," he said.
And Sirius smiled. "Ah, I wouldn't bring anyone else, lad. Nobody else. Come on, let's get back downstairs. If you catch cold from being out here, Molly'll have my hide."
So they hefted themselves up, heavy with biscuits and coffee and firewhisky and memories, and went back into the house. Harry knew he would be useless and dead tired tomorrow, but exhaustion was a small price to pay for such a night.
Merry Christmas! Hey … leave me a present, would you? Click that review button and say something. To all those of you who plan on reviewing, I can't thank you individually (no "author notes" or "shout-out" updates allowed), so just know that I luv ya all. Thanks for reading.