A/N: The idea popped into my head at 3AM (of course) and refused to let me sleep until I wrote it out. This is a "Missing Moment" from Order of the Phoenix during the Christmas hols. Harry sees something that makes him wonder what it's like to have a father, and Sirius decides to show him. Chaos ensues. One-Shot!
"Until you have a son of your own . . . you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be." -- Kent Nerburn
Nobody knew jealousy better than Harry Potter -- except, perhaps, his best friend, but he did not much want to examine that train of thought too closely considering the current situation. Harry had spent the better part of his childhood watching enviously as his cousin Dudley paraded around with some new toy or electronic gadget in hand, smirking smugly at his frequent punching-bag. In those days, Harry had been certain that Dudley was the luckiest boy in England.
Those days were gone.
He'd been heading down to the kitchens in hope of finding Sirius, when he'd heard the muffled sounds of laughter coming from the drawing room, and had immediately sneaked to a convenient spot outside the door frame, where an old grandfather clock (the same one which had, during the summer, been shooting bolts out at passersby) cast a long shadow over the wall, making it difficult to see anyone who wasn't intent on being seen. Originally, he had hoped that he'd get a listen-in on a few of the Order members discussing a recent meeting. One glance through the open door was enough to show him he was out of luck and yet, he could not bring himself to leave.
The tousle-haired fifteen year-old thrust a hand in the pocket of his jeans, allowing himself to tear his eyes away from the scene in front of him for long enough to feel disgusted with himself. Didn't Ron deserve this, when he had none of the fame or riches that Harry had? Shouldn't he, as Ron's best friend, feel pleased that Ron had a family that was so ... Furiously, Harry leaned closer to the gloomy wall of the hallway in which he was lurking, green eyes locked on two people just inside the drawing room. One of these people was Ron Weasley. The other was Ron's father.
Mr. Weasley had recently returned from St. Mungo's after Harry had -- not me, Harry reminded himself wearily, it wasn't me that bit him-- witnessed his attack in the middle of the night. It had been a close call, but Arthur Weasley had survived and was doing quite well by the looks of things. He was a bit stiff, and Molly Weasley certainly would not have approved, but Harry reckoned that if he could be engaging his youngest son in a playful mock-duel he couldn't be feeling too badly.
"That," said Mr. Weasley, with an obvious attempt at sounding stern, "was completely out of line. I am far too old to tapdance. What on earth good will come of teaching school children the Tarantallegra Hex?"
Ron, who was panting gleefully and waving his wand accusingly at his father, did not seem very chagrined, "You started it. It's completely against the rules of chess to float your opponent's pieces off the table. You'd think you'd be used to it by now, you haven't beaten me since I was .. what, six? Seven? Hermione says accepting your weaknesses is the first stage to living happily, Dad. And you owe me five sickles."
Mr. Weasley looked vaguely surprised. "I always thought Buddha said that!"
"You can't honestly tell me Hermione, bright though she is--"
"I could charge interest--"
"--knows the path to Enlightenment better than Buddha!"
"Six sickles, now--"
"And speaking of Hermione, son--"
"If you even think of saying what you're going to say, I'll raise it a galleon. Really I will, Dad, I'm getting richer by the second--"
"--I seem to recall her mentioning your lovely gift of perfume--"
"It was a free sample!"
"--And I am coming to the conclusion that I will soon be forced to Petrificus Totalus you and force you to sit through The Talk--"
"Augh! You don't -- Agh! Dad --"
"--I had to do it with Fred and George, poor boys have never quite been the same, I'm sure you remember the day Fred tried to Memory Charm himself and found himself with a rather compromising pair of ears -- "
A loud crash, followed by a deep roar of laughter interrupted the banter, and Harry Potter turned decisively on his heel, and walked as quickly as he could back up the stairs, determined not to think about it. He'd not hold it against Ron that Ron's father was alive, that he could play and laugh with him as if they were both half their ages. He'd not hold it against Ron that he, Harry, never would.
So intent was he in his haste to leave that Harry did not notice that he had not been the only person watching the two Weasleys, and so he did not see the horrible recognition flash in Sirius' eyes as he watched Harry ascend the stairs.
Even inthe days directly following Halloween fourteen years ago, Sirius had never missed Prongs more than he did as he watched the look on Harry's face as they both listened to the teasing dialogue between Ron and his father. Harry should never have had to look that way, as though he were looking at a world he could never be part of, not when James had spent so much time playing with his son, beaming like a fool everytime Harry so much as sneezed.
James, after his father had died, would not so much as put his arms around Lily for months. The boy who had so easily thrown an arm around Sirius' shoulders grew distant, almost cold. Sirius, who had never been one to understand subtlety, had confronted his friend in what he now realised was not the most understanding of natures. What had followed had been the worst fight to ever occur between Padfoot and Prongs, and Sirius had left the Potters' house with a black eye and a tail sprouting out of his rear.
Remus and Wormtail, Sirius remembered, had been most concerned when a very pregnant Lily confided that rather than be frustrated with James' lack of affection, she was horribly worried about him.
And then Harry had been born, and Prongs was back again. From the moment he first held his son in his arms, Sirius (who had wrangled his way into the delivery room owing to what he called his Sacred Right as Godfather) had seen the light return to James eyes. It had taken two healers, one godfather, and one Lily to convince James to put Harry down.
Sirius started, his eyes flickering open to the realisation that Remus Lupin was standing in front of him, smiling mildly as he'd always done. Sirius returned the gesture apologetically.
"Sorry mate, I was just remembering something."
Oddly, Remus did not look as though this answer eased his anxiety for his friend, but the weary looking man only nodded. Sirius was grateful; it gave him room to ask what he needed to ask.
"Remus, what's Harry's uncle like?"
Remus frowned thoughtfully, surveying his friend with knowing eyes that both irritated Sirius and worried him. The Azkaban escapee wasn't certain how he felt knowing his friend could guess his thoughts so well, though it had never bothered him in the past. The first time he'd seen Remus again had also been the first time anyone had embraced him in twelve years, and had he not known that both Wormtail and Harry -- oh, Harry -- were so nearby, it would have been enough to stand like that, leaning against his friend until the Aurors came for him.
He was startled out of his thoughts once more as Remus replied.
"I'm sure he's told you about them, Sirius, he doesn't trust me like he trusts you," For the barest instant, there was a note of bitterness in his voice, but when the werewolf continued it was gone, and Sirius wasn't certain he hadn't imagined it. "But from what I've gathered from Dumbledore and McGonagall, his aunt and uncle would like nothing better than to have never been burdened with him. Old Flitwick even told me once that --" Remus stopped himself, and evaded all of Sirius' attempts to catch his eye.
"Flitwick told me .. now it was only a rumor Sirius, so don't lose your head, for Merlin's sake," When Sirius scowled, Remus continued, looking far from reassured, "You remember how he told us once in sixth year that he places a simple Location Charm on the acceptance letters to first year students? It places the full address of the receiver on the envelope? Yes. He er .. he told me the longest he'd ever had to spend charming envelopes was the year Harry came to Hogwarts, and that was because his uncle ignored the first umpteen-hundred of them. Anyway .. he was surprised, he told me, because whereas most letters have the location of the recipient's bedroom, the first letter ever sent to Harry was addressed to .. what did he say it was? 'The Cupboard Under the Stairs' or some such --"
"Harry's bedroom was a cupboard!"
"Sirius, it could have been anything --"
"A bloody .. a damned .." Sirius sputtered, pale eyes wide with furious realisation.
Remus just barely succeeded convincing Sirius not to question Harry about it ("Hasn't he got enough on his mind, Padfoot?") but the Animagus did not sleep that night. His thoughts were plagued the usual memories of nights in Azkaban, but they were joined tonight with images of a raven-haired little boy sitting alone in a cupboard. Several times that night, Sirius began to question what else Harry's uncle could have been capable of, if he was able to house a ten year-old in a .. Sirius shuddered.
There was, he knew, nothing he could do to bring James back for Harry. James was gone, and Harry would never know his father. Fourteen years after his death, Sirius still could not let himself contemplate his friend's absence too closely; that wound had festered for years in Azkaban, and was even now far from healing. And yet, he, Sirius, was Harry's godfather. Sirius loved Harry likea son-- he couldn't tell him, of course; Harry was fifteen, and Sirius was unsure how Harry would take affection anymore.
Still, he had to do something.
Morning came, and found Harry Potter miserably awake, having remained that way all night, and though he knew he was indulging himself in self-pity, the Boy-Who-Lived was finding it harder and harder to care, even as he stared up at the paint peeling off of he and Ron's shared room in Grimmauld Place. At half ten, Ron woke and made quite a show of rubbing his eyes and moaning blearily, clearly attempting to rouse Harry (who had shut his eyes and feigned sleep at the first sign of his friend stirring) to join him in the land of the living. His efforts were futile, and eventually Ron made his way downstairs, leaving the door wide open in his wake.
The smell of fresh coffee and tea very nearly coaxed Harry from his brooding, yet as he heard a loud series of pops in quick succession (A Weasley's Wizard Wheeze, no doubt), followed by Mr. Weasley's roaring laugh, he found that he could not join them. Could not intrude on their family, when he --
Something enormous had barrelled through the open door to Harry and Ron's bedroom, and Harry saw only a streak of black before the massive creature hurled itself on top of him. As he now found himself with a mouthful of shaggy black fur, Harry's attempts at shouting for help were futile, and once he recognised Snuffles the dog, the muffled pleas turned to a very long, drawn out groan.
Snuffles wuffed at him.
"S'r'us, geroff me, s'too early."
Snuffles was not impressed, and readjusted himself so that he was now sitting on his godson's chest and eyeing him reproachfully. Despite himself, Harry grinned. Somewhere near his ankles, a shaggy black tail wagged. Freeing one arm from where it had been pinned to his side and swiping the fur from his mouth with a look of disgust, Harry groped around for his glasses. Snuffles appeared to take this as an invitation to be helpful, because in the next instant he was springing off of Harry's chest and seizing the black framed specs in his mouth, managing to slobber on them a great deal more than was necessary.
Squinting vaguely, Harry held out his hand expectantly. On cue, Snuffles trotted decisively in the other direction. The effect was immediate. With an indignant noise that was far from coherent, Harry -- who seemed to have forgotten that he was clad rather unimpressively in only his drawers to sleep in -- stumbled out from his bed sheets and staggered off after his godfather, who sped up considerably once he noticed he was being pursued.
"'Ey, get back here! I can't see anything, Sirius, really --" Harry's point was made when he managed to trip over the troll-leg umbrella stand in what appeared an excellent imitation of Tonks. By some small miracle, Mrs. Black had not awoken. Harry wondered if perhaps she wasn't a morning person.
Sirius had made his way into the drawing room, where he set Harry's glasses down on the floor and took to his haunches, tail wagging delightedly with Harry's glasses laid between his front paws.
Harry scowled in Sirius' general direction.
"You have ten seconds, Sirius."
Snuffles barked insolently. Harry began to count down, not appearing to notice the canine-grin across the dog's face.
Harry sprang at Snuffles, who let out a dramatic yelp as the Boy-Who-Lived crashed headfirst into Snuffles the dog, knocking both of them to the floor, where they were met with a sickening Crunch. Seconds later, the bear-like dog had disappeared, Sirius reappearing in his place and presently doubled over with laughter whilst trying to untangle himself from his godson. Harry's attention was on the floor, where his glasses were now smashed into several unhappy pieces. It was becoming more and more difficult to be irritable with Sirius when the Animagus was in such a good mood, and Harry had bite his lip to keep from smiling.
"Sorry Harry, but it was a necessary evil. Duty as a godfather, and all that." Sirius rubbed his ribs where Harry's elbow had driven into them, and waved a hand casually over Harry's glasses, which mended themselves wearily, as though they were getting rather tired of being broken all the time. "Rest assured my duties are complete. Now if you would kindly get yourknees off my chest .."
Harry picked up his glasses and set them resolutely on his nose, but made no motion to remove himself from Sirius' person. After several moments of attempting to get his hair to stop sticking up even worse than usual, he gave up the battle and settled on surveying his godfather with a look so reminiscent of James that Sirius felt his heart lurch. Or perhaps that was just his godson's elbow.
"I dunno, Sirius, what's in it for me?" Harry hid his anxiety behind a grin. For all he knew, Sirius could be getting sick of this game, or annoyed that Harry had bruised him when he'd dived for his glasses. Sirius could be comparing Harry to James right now, disappointed that Harry had reacted the way he did and not like James would have reacted, or .. or ..
And then Sirius was letting out a bark of laughter, and in one movement the roles had been reversed and his godfather had pinned him beneath him. Harry reached up to cuff the bigger man playfully around the back of the head, and on and on it went until Sirius and Harry were in an all-out wrestling match on the floor of the drawing room. And slowly, Harry's fears began to drain away, and by the time Sirius let out a victory laugh, half-kneeling on Harry's back and using one fist to grind his knuckles into his godson's messy head (which gave a muffled howl of protest from where it was pressed into the carpet) the worry that his godfather would push him away had all but disappeared.
"Say 'godfather', Harry."
"Resistance is futile, Little Prongs."
"Goff m'back y'old mutt."
"You are going to force me to resort to drastic measures --"
"--which may or may not rid you of what remains of your dignity --"
"RON! H'RMIONE! 'ELP!"
"--depending on whether or not you are ticklish."
"Am I to take your silence as a 'No, Sirius, I'm not ticklish'?"
"Erm? Say again, Little Prongs."
"I durno. Goff."
"You don't know?"
A shrug. Vaguely, it occurred to Sirius to wonder if Harry wasn't telling the truth. Merlin, had his godson received any human touch as a child?
"Then there is simply only one way to resolve this issue."
"NMFF! RON! HELP--Aaah!"
Harry exploded with laughter as Sirius attacked his sides, eventually rising to kneel beside his godson to keep from suffocating him. The black-haired boy made several valiant attempts to escape, but the pawing at his sides was making him thoroughly jelly-legged. And incoherent.
"I ought to just make myself a cup of tea, you're not going anywhere at this rate."
Harry squirmed, eventually composing himself enough to roll over and have a go at batting his godfather's hands away. Clearly, Harry hadn't been lying; he seemed not to realise he had just provided Sirius wigh a target much easier to reach than his sides. When the man started in on his belly it was clear the game had been won.
"Aaah, no! Stop, stop, stop! Ah .. I give! You win!"
With a final parting jab at Harry's ribs, Sirius flopped down beside him, snickering as he hadn't done since he was still at Hogwarts, pulling some prank or other with the Marauders. It took quite a while for Harry to catch his breath, and he was still giggling faintly by the time he wiped his forehead with his hand and turned to grin at Sirius, who had propped himself up against the wall, casually.
"I reckon that answers that question," Harry mumbled sheepishly.
Sirius barked with laughter, reaching forward to help Harry off the floor, where he joined him sitting against the wall.
Thoroughly exhausted, Harry flopped lazily sideways, some instinct from the past leading him to burrow lazily against the warm weight at his side. Hardly a second had passed before it occured to him that the presence he was cuddled against like a little boy, was Sirius. Stiffening in a horrible rush of embarassment and shame, Harry forced himself to draw back and sit upright, not daring to look at his godfather's expression.
He'd done it now, Harry thought miserably. Sirius had given him the best time he'd ever had on the Christmas holidays, and now he'd gone and ruined it by acting like a needy little kid, and he didn't even know why he'd done it, because it wasn't like he was starved for affection, was he? He wasn't that pathetic, was he? Was he really that --
And then there was a strong, warm arm wrapped around his shoulders, and Sirius was pulling him close to his side, ruffling his hair like it didn't matter at all.
When Harry went down to the kitchen and the Weasleys half an hour later, Sirius behind him, Mr. Weasley and Ron were arm-wrestling on the table, Bill was grinning and cheering his little brother on, and Ginnyhad her arms around her father's neck, laughing.
"He's a good dad," Sirius said softly, watching Arthur with laughing eyes.
"Yeah," said Harry, looking up at his godfather with a grin, "He is."
A/N: My first one-shot! How was it? Reviewers will be worshipped several times daily :D If enough people think it's alright, I'd like to do a follow-up. Something with Lupin, maybe. Anyway, let me know! Thanks for reading!