This is going to sound a little weird, but... If it weren't for Arthur Weasley (and the fact that the two are cousins), I would absolutely love Sirius/Molly pairings. They seem to have such an interesting, volatile chemistry. But, of course, Molly's totally dedicated to Arthur, and who am I to break up that marriage (or create incest)? So I guess I'll have to stick with Sirius-Molly friendship fics. Rats. (laughs)

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I'm still angry. Stalking into my room, I throw off my robes in disgust. I hate those things. They're too small across the chest; they were purchased when I was still sickly thin, and of course they don't fit now that I'm starting to fill out again. Actually eating three meals a day does that to a man, I guess. I've tried every relevant charm I can think of to stretch them out, but nothing can make them fit quite right.

I pull on a pair of pajama pants and a soft cotton shirt; Harry's friend Hermione bought them for me in a muggle shop. I'm not sure why; I might have mentioned that I needed new sleep clothes earlier this month. Yes, that's it. I said so at breakfast one morning, and Hermione offered to buy some for me when she went shopping that afternoon. I gave her wizard money; I wonder where she changed currency, or why she chose muggle clothes. At any rate, it's currently my favorite outfit, just because it actually fits.

I fling myself on my bed, ignoring the fact that I'm acting like an overgrown child. I vaguely remind myself that this used to be my mother's bed, but that's a disturbing thought, so I try not to dwell on it. Rolling over on my stomach, I pick at the comforter, pulling on a loose thread.

Maybe I do treat Harry too much like his father. I was so upset over James's death; I never did have a dream in Azkaban that didn't concern him. Then to find Harry, who was not even a toddler when I was locked away, and see him looking so much like my old friend, well... I couldn't help making the association.

He wanted to kill me, the first time we met face to face. He wanted to kill me because of the stories he had heard. Perhaps that desire was also nurtured because I wanted to kill Peter, and because I was more than a bit mad, too. I certainly didn't look the part of a wholesome godfather. But it was so surreal to me then: James's son wanted me dead. I think he likes me now; at the very least, he's warmed up a bit. Oh, who am I kidding? The boy seems to love my company. Maybe it's because I'm one of the few links he has to his parents. I grin. I can't say I don't love having him around as well.

I want to be the godfather of his dreams. I want to take him away from his horrid aunt's house; I want to tell him everything he wants to know. I am prone to spoil him; it's like my best mate's alive again, and I want to make sure nothing happens to him, ever.

I sigh. No good godfather gets himself locked away in prison for most of his godson's life. Now I want to make up for the lost time, but I feel like I'm failing Harry again. Maybe Molly's right: I'm a terrible guardian.

Growling, I punch the bed. Molly Weasley, my dear cousin. She refuses to accept the fact that I am currently the most official parent figure in Harry's life. She treats me like I'm a criminal, or worse, a delinquent, up to no good but without the ability to be any real threat. She's so controlling. If it weren't for the fact that she's a hard worker, I don't know if I could stand having her around at all.

I stare at the fireplace, festering in my suppressed rage. I don't know how long I lie there, just reflecting on the fight I'd had earlier with Molly. A soft knock on the door breaks my train of thought. Pulling myself up into a sitting position, I grunt an inquiry.

The door opens slowly, and a head full of red hair pokes in. Molly blinks at me for a second before stepping into the room completely and shutting the door behind her. She clears her throat nervously.

"Sirius...?"

I glare at her. She is absolutely the last person I want to see right now. "What?"

"I...wanted to say I'm sorry," she mumbles, looking away.

"What, did Arthur make you come and apologize?" Damn, I shouldn't have said that.

She draws in a breath sharply, and I can tell by her flushing face that she is getting ready for a shouting match. I can feel the hairs on my neck rising as anger floods my body. If she wants another fight, I certainly won't disappoint.

"No," she says, making an obvious effort to keep calm. Somehow, that makes me even angrier. "I just wanted you to know that I realize I was overreacting tonight. Harry does deserve to know what is happening. You-Know-Who is the reason he is parentless, and Harry should know enough to keep him from recklessly searching for any clues. I just worry for his safety. I don't want him hurt."

"Nor do I. But you're not his mother, Molly," I point out coldly.

She crosses the room and sits on the edge of the bed. I tuck my legs up toward my chest. "And you're not his father, Sirius."

"But I'm—"

"You're not his father. I realize that James and Lily named you his godfather, but you know very little about him. Your contact has been limited. He's not like James, not really. Harry is a lot more conscientious than his father was as a teenager. Sometimes, Sirius, you act like no time has passed since James's death. You're in your mid-thirties now, but you still act like the fearless youth that endeared you to the Potters. I think you try to be that way, hoping things will be the same with Harry as they were with James."

I refuse to stop glaring at her.

Molly continues, "I know you care for Harry. You try to keep him safe just as I do. But you only worry about what other people will do to him. I worry about what he will do to himself. He's had his parents killed, he's seen a classmate murdered, he's been used to bring back the worst terror of this century, Sirius. Possibly even ever. Given the opportunity, Harry'd gladly hunt down You-Know-Who. If he knew all that was happening, he'd leave right now. I don't like it any more that you do, trust me, but that's the way it is."

I snort. "That just proves he's brave."

"It proves he's young and foolish. It's something you would do, something James would do. It's dangerous and reckless. I hate to admit it, but he's one of the few things we know can help us defeat You-Know-Who, and he must be kept safe for that reason."

My eyes widen as a sudden realization floods my mind. "You think he's a tool! Of course you'd want to keep him safe; you need to use him! You're no better than Voldemort himself!" I shout, my anger and indignation rising.

I don't see her hand leave the coverlet, but I certainly feel the pain as her palm meets my temple, hard. A sudden burst of bright light flashes across my vision as I topple over on the bed. She is standing now, glowering down at me with a ferociousness I've never seen so intense before.

"Don't you ever accuse me of that again, Sirius Black! I've taken care of him longer than you! He's saved my children when no one else would even try. He's a kind, sweet boy, and I love him like one of my own! I love him more than possibly anyone, even you! So I never want to hear you accusing me of treating him like a tool!"

I lie flat on the bed, blinking slowly up at her, willing the ringing in my head to stop. When it does, I sit up slowly. I eye Molly warily to see if she will slap me again, but her hands are clenched at her sides. To my surprise, her eyes glisten with tears.

When she speaks again, it's in a softer voice. "I want to protect him, Sirius. He has been too good to my family for me to just let him run into danger. He's more like you than I'd like to admit; many times he can irresponsible and rash. That's why..." she takes a shuddering breath, "...that's why I need to protect him for as long as I can."

She blinks away tears, waiting to hear my reaction. I am silent. For a long moment the only thing I hear is the crackling of the fireplace and my own shallow breathing. Molly's eyes become even brighter, and she pushes a stray lock of hair back into place with a nervous, upset motion, puckering her lips as silent tears fall. With quick, hitching breaths, she asks, "Don't you feel the same?"

I stare at this grown woman standing before me, crying. Yes, I know how she feels, and part of me agrees with her completely. The pride coursing through the rest of me, however, does not allow me to speak. I simply shift my eyes from her face to the wall.

Head bent, Molly walks slowly from the room. Somehow, all of the anger has drained out of me, replaced with a feeling of grey, misty guilt. I feel like a total bastard. I sit for a few moments, running the conversation through my mind. Every time I picture her face, completely open and streaked with tears, a feeling of remorse shoots through me.

--

Biting my lower lip suddenly to bring my thoughts back, I unfold my legs and walk to the door. Looking around and noticing that noticing that no one is about, I pad softly through the darkened hallways. Crossing the expansive dining room, I reach the kitchen. Upon entering, I am surprised to see someone else is already sitting at the small table.

Turning cold eyes upon me, Remus stands, tucks his copy of the Prophet under his arm, and brushes past. Turning to stare after his retreating back, I call, "What did I do?"

He doesn't answer.

Confused and a bit irritated, I move fully into the kitchen and reach into one of the cabinets, retrieving a bottle and a small glass. Pouring myself the first of what may be many stiff drinks, I move to sit at the table. As I shift, I see a gleam of red. Molly is crouched in the pantry, retrieving ingredients for the next day's supper. She pretends she doesn't see me.

Suddenly, Remus's cool behavior becomes annoyingly clear. He has taken her side. She ran down here and found him sitting alone, and she told him the whole story. Of course, she probably made me out to be a complete ass. My guilt dissolves to be replaced with anger once again. Stiffening, I pretend I don't see her either.

I shoot down my drink, relishing the burning sensation in my throat and stomach. Pulling out a chair noisily, I sit. I try to appear that I am staring into nothingness, when in actuality I keep my eyes firmly rooted on the stony face of my cousin. She shuffles out of the pantry, arms full of bottles of flavorings and packets of spices.

I pour my second drink. Leaning back and balancing the chair on two legs, I shut my eyes and sigh. I listen to the sounds of Molly pulling out pans, grimacing in annoyance. I steel myself to tell her to stop, but the sound is gone. Opening one eye, I notice that Molly has is no longer in the room. I hold my glass against my lips, inhaling the smell of the liquor, forcing a tight-lipped, self-satisfied smile across my unwilling face.

"Sirius?"

Opening my eyes quickly, I let my chair slam down to all fours. Turning my head, I see Molly stepping timidly back into the room, a package in her arms. I open my mouth to snap when she extends her arms, offering me the parcel.

"I bought these for you earlier today. I hope you find them to your liking."

My hands trembling, I put down my glass and take the package. Unwrapping it, I find two new sets of robes, clean and black and obviously my size. I lick my suddenly dry lips and find that something seems to be stuck in my throat. I look back at Molly, and she slips her arms around my thin waist and presses her face against my chest.

For a moment I tense. At first my anger still clings fiercely; I am resentful of the embrace and the intimacy it implies. Then I glance down at the robes I'm clenching tightly, and Molly's grey-streaked red hair frizzing out against the cotton of my shirt. It's her dejected sniffle that really breaks me, though. Finally I find my voice. "I'm sorry," I mutter, feeling completely miserable. "I didn't mean to..."

"Me either," she murmurs, her breath hot against my shirt. "But sometimes it's just so hard."

Slowly I move my arms to embrace her as well. "You know it's only going to get worse from here, right? That life going to get harder, and bad things are going to happen, and people are going to die?"

She nods against my chest, her face buried from sight. We stand in silent for a moment in that quiet kitchen, then she says wryly, "If those robes don't fit I think I'll kill myself."

I chuckle. The rumbling against her head makes her chuckle too. We stand there giggling for a moment, then she pulls her face away and we both see that the front of my shirt is smeared with her tears, and that makes our laughter redouble. She wipes at her tears and hiccups, and that sends us both over the edge. We stand hugging each other, tears streaming down our faces, laughing like mad even though nothing is really funny.

--

After a while she goes back to making the marinade for the next day's supper and I pour my drink down the drain. I gather the robes and place them in my room before locating Remus sitting in front of the fire in my father's old study. I sink down in a leather chair next to him, watching the blaze.

Remus continues to study the book in his hands for a few moments before saying, "Did she give you the robes?" I make an affirmative sound in my throat. He turns to looks at me and states matter-of-factly, "You've been crying."

Suddenly ashamed, I run a hand over my puffy eyes. "It's nothing," I mumble, eager to change the subject. He merely smiles in his irritatingly knowing way and goes back to his book.

I turn my gaze back towards the blaze crackling in the hearth, and I smirk to remember that the last time I contemplated my feelings in front of a fireplace, I was hating my cousin. Funny how attitudes can change in a night.

Molly was right. We both want the best for Harry. It just took a good fight, a stiff drink, a lot of guilt, two new sets of robes, and a chance to laugh until I cried for me to realize that.

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Hope you enjoyed the fic. It was kinda a "just sorta there" fic, nothing too exciting. Still, tell me what you thought, eh? (smiles)