"I'm here!" Sirius called out, coming into the house through the kitchen entrance.
"We're in the living room," James hollered back.
Sirius found his friend running around frantically, looking through bookshelves, under furniture, and behind curtains for something. "What are you looking for, Prongs?" he asked curiously.
"Just some papers," James grunted, not even stopping to acknowledge his friend's presence.
Harry, on the other hand, was delighted to see his father's best friend. He gleefully yelled his version of Sirius' name, "Paaf!" and held his hands up in the air, demanding to be lifted out of his playpen. Sirius was only too happy to oblige.
"How's my favourite godson today?" he asked, tickling Harry. The year old baby bubbled with laughter.
"Aha!" James exclaimed, holding up a sheaf of paper and brandishing it triumphantly. The papers had been stuffed inside a fishbowl that was under a table, and Sirius decided it was better for his sanity not to ask why they were there in the first place.
James got up off his knees and brushed off his robes. "Thanks for coming on such short notice, Padfoot," he said. "There's an emergency at work and Lily's going to be gone until late tonight. I should be back in a couple hours."
"Think nothing of it, Prongs. I love spending time with Harry," Sirius said.
"What took you so long to get here, anyway? How far away did you Apparate to?"
"Oh, I didn't Apparate," Sirius told him.
James looked at him thoughtfully puzzled. "You didn't use Floo powder, either, because you would have come in through the fireplace, not the kitchen."
"I rode here," Sirius informed him.
"Sirius! You're not taking Harry up on your motorbike again!" James ordered.
"But he loves it," Sirius whined.
"You know very well Lily will kill both of us if she learns you took Harry for a ride again. Remember what happened last time?"
Sirius winced at the memory. James' wife had been furious and the redhead had a horrible temper. "Yeah," he admitted, "but what she doesn't know won't hurt her. You said she's not going to be back until later. She'll never find out."
James disagreed. "She'll find out. She always finds out. Promise me you won't take Harry up on your motorbike."
"I promise," Sirius said reluctantly. That didn't seem to be enough for James, so he rolled his eyes and added, "Cross my heart. May I tickle a sleeping dragon if I lie."
James was satisfied. "Okay," he said. "You know where everything is. I should be back in a couple of hours. I'll give you a call if I'm not. Bye, Harry," he said to his son, kissing the baby on his cheek.
"Bye Daddy," Sirius said for Harry, trying unsuccessfully to imitate a squeaky child's voice as he waved the boy's hand for him.
Harry, however, was perfectly capable of waving good-bye to his father. Wrenching his hand away from Sirius, he flapped it open and shut a few times, saying, "Bu-bye!"
James waved at Harry and Sirius, then rushed out the door to get away from the Anti-Apparating fields that surrounded the Potters' house.
"So, Harry," Sirius said when James was gone. "What do you want to do?" He paused, pretending to wait for an answer. "Fly? That's a good idea. Unfortunately, your father made me promise not to take you up on my motorbike. Yeah, I know, he's a big meanie, but don't worry, your godfather has a back-up plan. Now where does Prongs keep his broom?"
The year-old baby found Sirius' monologue to be delightful. He clapped his hands in glee, which Sirius took to be an affirmative to his plan. Carrying Harry in one arm, he went around the house, looking through all the closets to search for James' broomstick.
"There we go," he said, pulling the Nimbus 1700 out of the hallway closet with his free hand. "Now, Harry, are you ready for your first flying lesson from your godfather?"
They went out to the backyard. It was a gorgeous August afternoon, warm and sunny with only a few fluffy clouds in the sky. Sirius carefully laid the broom on the ground. "Now, Harry, the first thing you do is hold out your hand and tell the broom to come up. Can you do that?" Harry had his fist in his mouth and was happily trying to munch on it. "Okay, you can't be eating your hand when you do this," Sirius told him, trying to disentangle Harry's fist from his mouth. "Now, can you say up? Say up!"
"Up!" Harry said forcefully. It was one of the first words he had learned, though he rarely said it when he was already being carried by someone.
There wasn't enough magic behind the baby's word, but that didn't deter Sirius. In fact, he was very pleased with his godson. "That's it," he said with a wide smile. "Up!" The broom leapt up into his hand.
Very carefully, Sirius mounted the broom, seating Harry in front of him. "Now listen closely, Harry," he said. "You have to hold onto the broom very tightly with both hands. No-hands flying will have to wait until you're five, at the very least." He wrapped Harry's hands around the handle of the broom, placing his own hands over Harry's. He leaned forward slightly and then, very slowly, the broom rose from the ground.
Contrary to popular belief, Sirius Black wasn't always reckless. In fact, he rarely took chances with his godson - at least not risky chances. He made sure Harry was perfectly balanced on the broom and had his arms around the baby to make absolutely sure there was no way the little boy could fall off.
"You're a natural," Sirius marvelled. "Just wait till you get to Hogwarts. You'll be the Quidditch captain by your third year." It wasn't just proud godfather boastfulness, either. Harry didn't need Sirius to keep him upright, though the adult wouldn't dream of taking his arms from around him.
He started to speed up and then became more daring. He dashed over rooftops, ducked beneath branches and circled around trees. Harry was laughing all the way. Normally Sirius would have done a couple of loop-de-loops as well, but decided against it. It was only Harry's first time on a broom, after all. That could wait for their second lesson.
After half an hour, he made his way back to the Potter house and brought the broom back done to the ground. He lifted Harry up high into the air, saying, "That was great, Harry! You're going to be the best flier around!"
Harry smiled, allowing Sirius to see the few teeth that had grown in. "Mama," he said.
Growing very pale, Sirius stopped breathing. Slowly, very slowly, he turned around. It was what he feared; Lily was standing by the door and she looked ready to skin him alive.
Clutching Harry closer, since he knew Lily wouldn't attack him if there was a chance her son would get hurt, he stammered, "Lily. You aren't supposed to be back yet."
Unfortunately, Harry did not seem to understand the peril his godfather was in. He squirmed, trying to get out of Sirius' arms and into his mother's. Lily walked up to them and Sirius very reluctantly gave her Harry.
She swept him into her arms and immediately examined the baby, making sure there was not so much as a mark on him that wasn't there before. Sirius started to back up, trying to slip away without Lily noticing.
"Stop right there," she said. "You're not going anywhere."
Sirius wisely stayed put.
"Sirius Black." She started out very low, too low. "What do you think you were doing?"
"I was just trying to teach Harry to fly," he said. He flashed her a charming smile, hoping it would soften her anger. "James said you didn't want me taking him up on my motorbike again, so I took him for flying on James' broom. He really liked it."
"You knew I didn't want Harry to go flying on your bike so you took him on a broom," Lily repeated. "Are you insane or just stupid? Harry is only twelve months. He is way too young to be flying, on a bike or a broom. How irresponsible can you be?" She had started out deceptively calm, but quickly crescendoed until she was screeching. Sirius was amazed how closely she could imitate a Howler - at least he was when he wasn't wincing and wishing he were anywhere but there.
Lily carried on in that way for a couple more minutes until she realized all the yelling was upsetting Harry. She collected herself and went inside the house. At first, Sirius thought that meant he could leave and started for his motorbike, but Lily turned around and told him in no uncertain terms, "I'm not finished with you."
Meekly, he followed her in. She went up the stairs and placed Harry in his crib for a nap. She closed the door quietly and went back downstairs into the kitchen before saying another word, Sirius following her the entire way.
"If you ever do something that stupid and dangerous with Harry again, I swear, I will kill you," Lily said. It didn't seem to be an idle threat, and Sirius was not in a rush to test how sincere she was.
"I'm sorry, Lil," Sirius said. "I guess I wasn't thinking."
"No, you weren't." At least she wasn't yelling at him anymore. "But if you try a stunt like that again, I will do worse than kill you. I will make sure you do not spend any time with Harry again. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Sirius said quickly. She knew him too well - that was the one threat that really worried him. "I promise I won't do anything like that again."
"And that means anything like that. I don't want to come home tomorrow and find you've taken Harry up on your broom and tried to weasel your way out of it on a technicality."
"I won't," Sirius promised. "I won't do anything anyone consider dangerous with Harry unless I have yours or James' permission."
They were both silent for a few minutes, then Sirius, judging that Lily had calmed down enough, looked at her with puppy dog eyes and asked, "Am I forgiven now?"
Lily had to laugh. She rolled her eyes. "You're forgiven," she sighed.
Sirius grinned cockily at her. "You just can't resist me," he teased.
"You're right," Lily deadpanned. "I'm wild with passion for you. Take me, take me now."
Sirius stuck his tongue out at her. Lily swatted him. "Get out of here, you idiot," she said good-naturedly.
"Say hi to Prongs for me," Sirius said.
"I will. Bye Sirius."
"See you, Lily."
She went to the door and waved goodbye as he flew away on his motorbike.
Saturday, June 16, 2001
The only difference between yesterday and today's revision is the addition of these Author's Notes. My computer was acting up yesterday and I was unable to write them.
Thank you very much to my two beta readers. You two were the best. Without you, this story would have been riddled with spelling mistakes and other typos.
Harry Potter and any other character you recognize do not, obviously enough, belong to me. Alas, I cannot take credit for the wondrous inventions of the incredible J.K. Rowling. Well, I could, but no one would believe me.