Well, here's the rest of it! Hope you enjoy this little piece!
He watched his grey-eyed friend out of concerned hazel eyes, wondering what was going on in his head. When he had arrived in this place, fourteen years ago, he had accepted the fact that he was dead. And he had had Lily with him after a brief moment.
He could only imagine how his friend was feeling at the moment, not having known that he had died.
Chapter Two: Happiness At Last
"Oh god," whispered Sirius, a hand covering his face, "Harry..." When he looked up at the bespectacled figure, there were tears in his grey eyes. "Harry...I've left him. I promised him that I'd be there for him, to protect him, to...make up for my absence in his life, and now – and now-"
He couldn't continue, and sunk slowly to his knees with his face an almost deathly shade of white.
"Padfoot, it's not your fault-"
"-Do you know how many times I've heard that?! Well you're wrong, you're wrong, alright?!" Sirius shook his head, a somewhat hysterical note entering his voice as it rose. "It's my fault. My fault. I couldn't raise Harry like I was supposed to, and he was miserable for the first ten years of his life. And before that..."
He glanced up at his hazel eyed companion who was suddenly closer to him than he had been a moment ago. "Oh god...you...and Lily...oh god, it was my fault...if I – if I hadn't suggested...if I hadn't tried to be a freaking smartass, then-"
Sirius stopped abruptly, partly because the lump in his throat made it almost impossible for him to speak, and partly due to the fact that he was suddenly being enveloped in a hug.
He was pretty sure that illusions were not supposed to be able to physically touch anything...but then again, if it was an illusion created by the use of Dark Magic, who knew?
Not caring whether it was an illusion or the...real thing as it were, he found himself leaning in to the hug, ignoring the awkwardness of their position on the ground. "I'm so sorry; so sorry," he whispered, clutching onto the black robes that the bespectacled figure wore.
His grip on the robes increased. "Oh god, I am so sorry..."
"You don't have to be. You shouldn't feel like you should be," said the figure, his familiar voice so quiet that Sirius had to strain his ears to hear him. "It was for the best; you only wanted to make sure that we were as well protected as we could be. How were you supposed to know that he would betray us?"
Sirius shook his head against the figure's chest, his breath coming in quick, painful gasps.
"D-Dumbledore...he should have...he should have been your Secret-Keeper-" he choked on a sob, "-he wouldn't have betrayed y-you..."
"You didn't betray us, Padfoot, how could you even think that?"
"I did! If I didn't, who did?! If I had just kept my big fat mouth shut, I would have continued being your Secret-Keeper!" The hysteria seemed to be returning. "He wouldn't have been involved at all, and then Harry...and you and Lily-"
"-And you wouldn't have spent thirteen unnecessary years locked up in Azkaban." A shiver ran down the grey-eyed young man's spine as he thought of the wizard prison and the long years he spent there.
"I deserved it," he said, in a small voice. "I deserved every long year I spent there, and I deserved even more. For being such a – goddamned fool!" His voice broke as a tear trailed down his face. Stubbornly, he shook his head in an attempt to regain some control of himself.
"No, Sirius, you've dealt with this for far too long," said the hazel eyed young man, hugging him tighter, "let it out. Trust me; you'll feel a little better afterwards. And you know that I won't judge you in any way for it..."
And just like that, the dam broke.
The bespectacled figure said nothing as he held his best-friend; no, as he held his brother to him. He simply increased the strength of his hold on him, resting his chin on his brother's shaking shoulder. There were so many things that he wanted to tell him, things that he had waited for so long to tell him.
Things such as how he was more than proud of him for putting up with everything and still coming through it all to be there for Harry when he needed him; such as how sorry he was to have involved him in everything, for having, indirectly, been a cause for all of his suffering; such as how Lily had screamed bloody murder and threatened to wring the necks of Barty Crouch Senior, Peter Pettigrew, Albus Dumbledore, Mad-Eye Moody and later Cornelius Fudge, when she found out what had happened to the friend who had grown to be very dear to her.
But he knew that his brother – yes, for that was what Sirius Black was; his brother – did not need to hear any of that. No, at the moment, all he needed was to be held. To be held and to be assured that he was not alone; not anymore. He shivered at the thoughts of his friend's life since that fateful night, fourteen years ago. His life, as he knew it, had ended at the promising age of twenty two.
He would have had difficulty in recognizing him if had retained his image as the thirty six year old man he had been, at the time of his death.
Luckily, it seemed as though the powers that be had decided that he deserved to lead a better life in this...world of the afterlife. And this better life had started with him being reverted back to the strikingly good looking twenty two year old young man he had been, when his normal life in the world of the living had...ended, as it were.
He was snapped out of his thoughts when he felt Sirius struggle to pull away from his embrace. He slowly loosened his grip on him, but still kept him in his embrace.
Grey eyes – with faint red outlines around them – stared into his warm, welcoming hazel ones for a moment, searching for something.
"You're-" Sirius stopped to clear his throat when his voice came out in a peculiar sort of...squeak. "You're not an illusion, are you? I mean, it's...really you, right?"
The desperate note in his voice tugged at James Potter's heart. What had he gone through to doubt his eyes in such a manner?
"No, Sirius, I am most certainly not an illusion. I solemnly swear that I am James Potter."
"How can I be sure...?"
James resisted the urge to close his eyes at the second painful tug at his heart. Oh Padfoot.
"Why are you asking me this, Sirius?"
"Because you appeared before me in Azkaban, you and Lily. And...you just leered at me, telling me that I got exactly what I deserved, and that you'd never ever forgive me and that I was bound to end up in-"
Sirius was forced to stop when James hugged him again, although more harshly so that he suddenly found it somewhat difficult to breathe. He could feel the bespectacled man shaking and frowned. "James?"
"No, no, we would never – we didn't even think to blame you – Padfoot, I am so-"
"-Sorry?" The wry note in his voice caused James to pull back so that he could see his friend's face.
"Yeah..." he said, quietly, hazel eyes lighting up as he saw the grin that twisted his friend's lips upwards. True, it wasn't the brilliant grin he had been used to, but it was still something.
"I think I've said enough 'I'm so sorry-ies' for us both don't you think, Prongs?"
James nodded, a smile forming on his own lips.
"Yeah." He cleared his throat. "Yeah, I think you have."
The two were silent for a few moments after that.
"About Harry..." Sirius winced at the pain he felt when he thought of his godson. What must he think of me now? Does he hate me for leaving him? "I'm sorry-"
"-Padfoot, if you say 'I'm sorry' or any variations of that phrase one more time I am going to hex you to Merlin-knows-where and back again."
The corners of Sirius' lips twitched upward.
"I'd like to see you try," he said, before looking around. They were still kneeling on the ground, still wrapped in James' embrace. "Where is she?" he asked suddenly, turning back to James.
James Potter's face lit up as he focused his eyes on something behind his brother. Sirius didn't seem to notice this and continued to question him. "Well? Where is she? She...she is here, isn't she? She didn't...leave you or anything, because your silly best-friend betrayed-"
"-If she did think that, then she deserves a much worse view of the afterlife," cut in an all too familiar voice, causing James to smile brightly and Sirius to stiffen.
Before he had time to turn around, the fiery-haired young woman was kneeling by his side and had her arms wrapped around him, holding him in a tight, desperate hug. Her fingers stroked his soft black hair as he rested his face on her chest. "You are a bloody, idiotic, too-loyal-" her voice broke, "-fool, who I would give the world to if I could..."
Choking on a sob as he laughed weakly, Sirius buried his head further on to her chest.
"No need to go that far; a couple of dungbombs and a beautiful young woman would be enough," he said, weakly attempting a joke. Lily smiled tremulously as she gently pulled away from him, staring intently into his eyes; eyes which looked far too...old for someone of his...nature.
Green eyes met grey and held the gaze for a long moment or two, until Sirius looked away, finding himself reminded of his godson once more.
How he must loathe me...
"He doesn't hate you Sirius," said Lily Potter, her green eyes twinkling as he looked at her in surprise. "Rather, he hates the-" she stopped, never having been one to be fond of swear words, no matter how appropriate they were, "-vile excuse for a human being who did this to you."
Sirius had a saddened expression on his face once more.
"He's all alone again..." he whispered. "I left him alone, and he must hate me for that. Especially when I...promised that I would always be there for him..."
James and Lily exchanged a quick glance.
"Would you believe us if we were to tell you something that would tell you he doesn't hate you?" Sirius shrugged at James, who in turn nodded at his wife.
"He used the Cruciatus Curse. On Bellatrix Lestrange, when she tried to run away after...well, you know," said Lily. Sirius' jaw dropped open.
"He – I beg your pardon?"
"Oh?" Lily turned to James, her green eyes twinkling, "How about that, James? He's actually learned some manners! Who'd have thought the day would come when Sirius Black would say 'I beg your pardon'?"
"But that's an Unforgiveable!" exclaimed Sirius, eyes still wide.
"You learning manners? No, it's more of a life-changing, world-altering event." Lily paused. "Who knows, maybe Voldemort will start dressing in pink robes and go around hugging and giving his sincerest apologies to all Muggles, Muggle-borns and Blood traitors before announcing that the Death Eaters are actually members of the 'Dumbledore Rocks my Socks' club, of which he is Supreme President."
James and Sirius both grimaced as they stared at the fiery-haired woman.
"That just...brings me urgh, bad mental images-"
"-Bad? I'd say traumatic."
"True. I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep for years."
"Merlin, Prongs, get your woman's imagination under control. I think I'm scarred for life."
"You and me both."
"Oh shut it, you two."
The three young people stayed where they were, kneeling on the ground. As he looked at his brother, James' eyes widened when he saw the relaxed expression on his face. Lily seemed to have noticed it too, for she was staring at the black-haired man himself.
Shooting them a questioning glance, Sirius was quick to shrug off their looks, choosing to glance around him once more instead.
"Sirius," said James, suddenly. "If, and I mean if, you had the chance to...go back there...would you?"
"Go back where?" asked Sirius, although he knew what James was referring to.
"Back to, you know, your old life."
Sirius pretended not to feel the two anxious gazes that were almost burning him. Would he go back if he could? He tilted his head to a side. That depended on...certain things.
What did he have to go back to? Harry, he thought, immediately, and Remus...and Tonks. I never got to see Andromeda either...
Then what would he gain by staying here, in the...afterlife, of whatever it was called? What a stupid question, he couldn't help but think, What would I gain? Well, duh, I'd gain two of the most important people in my life!
And I'd be free too...not having to watch my back, or...move around like an escaped convict...
But then there's Harry...
"If there was any way of going back, if there was any indication that going back would help Harry in some way...yeah, I...think I'd go back," he said, quietly, not wanting to meet James and Lily's eyes.
He soon found himself in a joint embrace again, much to his chagrin even though he had enjoyed the first few. Honestly, did they think he was some insecure, angst-filled teenager who needed constant reminders of the fact that he was loved?
Ah, he had been one of those. Ages ago.
"Even though going back would mean...going back to the world that pretty much shunned you? That...caused you all of this pain?"
Sirius nodded into James' shoulder.
"If it'd help Harry..." he mumbled.
"Oh Sirius," whispered Lily, feeling tears sting her eyes. "You'd do that? Just for our son; for Harry?"
"He's my godson too, you know," said Sirius, somewhat indignantly, "I have certain rights to him too!" James chuckled softly.
"Believe me, Padfoot, we know. We know that you love him as dearly as you would love a child of your own blood."
"He's your son," muttered Sirius, "That makes him a child of my own blood." The embrace tightened, but Sirius didn't say a word.
It sort of felt...nice. To be held. To know that he was loved...and that he wasn't alone.
Merlin's beard, he thought wearily, I'm starting to sound like an insecure, angst-filled teenager.
Shaking his head, he forcefully pulled away from his companions, going as far as to stand up to make sure than he wouldn't be grabbed in a hug once more.
"So," he started, causing James and Lily to stare curiously at him. "...What do you do for fun here?"
As James jumped to his feet with a wide grin on his feet, Lily simply rolled her eyes, daintily brushing off non-existent dust from her clothes.
I should have known, she thought fondly, as she watched her husband and his 'brother', that those two would never change. Not even in death.
It was originally meant to be a one-shot piece, with just James in it, but...well, I couldn't include one dead Potter without the other, could I? When it became too long to be a one-shot, I decided to divide it into two chapters.
Hope that was good!