DISCLAIMER: All recognizable plots and characters belong to J.K. Rowling!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm back! Thank you so much for all of the wonderful reviews! I tried to respond to all of them. If I missed one I will respond to it this time!
Chapter 11: The Storm and Hedwig
Two weeks went by extremely quickly for Harry and before he knew it, it was July 31st and he was bouncing in his chair in excitement for the party that was going to happen later that day. He was gulping down his pancakes as fast as he could without getting scolded by his godfather. He was so eager to have his friends over and have cake and ice cream. Then he, Ron, and Neville could out and play two-a-side Quidditch with Sirius.
"You know, you gulping down those pancakes doesn't make your friends arrive any sooner," Sirius commented, his silver eyes dancing in amusement.
"I know but at least I can get my Quidditch stuff ready," Harry pointed out.
"I suppose, but then what will you do?" Sirius asked, chuckling. "It's only nine o'clock. You can only get your Quidditch stuff ready for so long and your friends don't arrive until noon."
Harry thought about it for a moment before shrugging. "Maybe I'm not eating the pancakes fast 'cause I want to hurry time. Maybe it's 'cause I just like your pancakes and they're just so delicious that I can't get enough of them fast enough," he challenged.
"Yeah, okay, pup! I believe you about as far as I can throw you!" Sirius barked out a laugh.
"What! Are you calling me fat?" Harry gasped in mock hurt.
"Oh, please! You're anything but that!" Sirius chuckled. "Anyway, I asked you what you were planning on doing for two reasons. One: I wanted to tease you! And two: I was wondering if you were interested in opening one of your present before your guests get here."
"Okay," Sirius replied. "I'll go get it, while you finish your milk."
Harry watched his godfather disappear up the stairs and he gulped down his milk. It was days like his birthday that Harry remembered how lucky he was that he had Sirius. The man had saved him in more ways than he could count.
Five-year-old Harry was at the lunch table with Sirius as the man was trying desperately to get the child to eat his vegetables.
"No!" Harry shouted at his godfather.
"Harry, come on! You need to eat at least three bites of your green beans before you can go play," Sirius instructed, sternly.
"No!" It was becoming Harry's favorite word now that he wasn't afraid of being beaten for it. "I don't want green beans!"
"Well, I asked you earlier if you wanted corn or green beans and you said you wanted green beans. So, that's what I made."
"I don't want green beans!"Harry insisted.
"Well that's what we're having," Sirius answered, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice. "And you are not leaving the table until you have at least three bites."
"No!" And with that Harry grabbed a handful of green beans and threw them across the room.
"Harry James!" Sirius cried. "What on earth has gotten into you?"
Harry glared up at his godfather and shoved his plate onto the floor. "I don't want green beans!"
"Harry James Potter, I am going to give to the count of three to pick up your plate and clean up your mess."
Harry stuck out his tongue.
Harry stood up on his chair and began screaming at the top of his lungs "NO! NO! NO!"
"Three." Sirius grabbed Harry off of the chair and started to bring him to the corner to serve time-out, when Harry's teeth made contact with his arm, as the youngster bit him. "OW!" He dropped the boy to his feet, who scowled up at him in defiance and Sirius did something he had never done before. He grabbed Harry's upper arm and landed a swift swat to the boy's backside and then brought him over to the corner and sat him down on the time-out stool. "You do not throw food. You do not shout. You do not stand on the furniture. And you most definitely do NOT bite people. Do you understand? You are going to stay in the corner for five minutes and then, if you can behave respectfully you may come back to the table."
Harry sat in shock for a few minutes after his godfather left the room, before he began to cry. Sirius was really cross. The man would want to get rid of him. And if he couldn't get rid of him, then he would just make sure that Harry was beaten for being the freak he was. His uncle had been right. He was ungrateful. After everything Sirius had done for him, Harry had bitten him. Over something as silly as green beans, Harry was going to lose his family. The tears poured down his face. The swat hadn't even hurt, but the disappointment in Sirius' eyes had stung his soul. He really messed up. He went too far. Well, if Sirius was going to get rid of him Harry decided, it would be easier for both of them if he just went ahead and left. He could live in the trees behind the house. And with that Harry ran out the back door
In the sitting room, Sirius was pacing while he cooled down. The psychologist Sirius had been bringing Harry to had suggested time-out as a punishment for exactly this reason. It allowed both of them to calm down and it allowed Sirius to think rationally. As the anger began recede, Sirius realized what he had done. He spanked Harry! He spanked him! He had spanked Harry! What had he been thinking? He knew the boy had been abused why would he used physical punishment? Then again, the boy had been unruly. Sirius had been desperate to get the child's attention, but still. The man sat down on the couch and dragged his hands over his face in exhaustion. "James, I don't know what I'm doing," he whispered. Suddenly, he heard the back door open and slam shut. "Harry?" Sirius called.
Sirius rushed back into the kitchen and looked toward the corner where he had left Harry. It was empty. "Shit!" he cursed. He opened the back door just in time to see Harry disappear through the trees. "HARRY!" Panic set in as he chased after his five-year-old. If the boy ran too far he would break through the wards and Sirius would be powerless to protect him. He ran as fast as he could and yelled all the while for his godson. The worry ate at his heart and Sirius grew desperate.
Harry heard Sirius calling for him and Harry climbed up into a tree and watched as the man ran past him, calling out to him. Harry didn't make a sound and stayed well hidden. Sirius was going to send him away and if Harry couldn't live with Sirius then he wouldn't live with anyone. He would live in the trees. He made up all the plans in his head he would gather sticks together and make a hut out of them. He would go to the spring nearby for water and he would teach himself to hunt with rocks and stones. With those thoughts in his head he drifted to sleep in the tree.
Sirius looked for his godson for hours and had found no trace of him. He headed back to the house and flooed Remus for help and together the friends headed back out. Sirius looked up at the sky and his heart sank as he saw the rolling, grey storm clouds. Tears pricked at his eyes as he looked at Remus desperately. "We have to find him, Remus! He's terrified of storms! He'll be scared stiff! What are we going to do?"
"Sirius!" Remus cried. "Calm down! Pull yourself together! We are going to find him!"
"You're right!" Sirius agreed, taking a deep breath. "We'll find him! We'll find him!" And with that the two friends headed off to find their missing child.
When Harry awoke it was dark. He sat up quickly and suddenly he realized why this wasn't such a good idea. He was afraid of the dark. It made him think of the times that his uncle had locked him into the cupboard under the stairs. The darkness seemed to close in on him. Then suddenly lightening flashed in the sky and thunder boomed. Harry's scream caught in his throat and he began to sob in fear. 'Sirius, please come find me!' he begged desperately in his mind. The rain started to come down and soon Harry was trembling in cold as well as fear. And when the next lightning and thunder hit he found his voice and he screamed.
Sirius was soaked to the bone as he held his lantern and searched. Remus had rushed back to the house to floo-call some more people to help. Then, he heard it. In the distance he heard his godson calling out to him. "Sirius!" He ran toward the voice. It got louder and louder until he knew he was right on top of it. But Harry was nowhere to be seen. "Harry! Where are you?" he called out, turning all about. He could hear his child's sobs and it broke his heart. "I can't see you, Pup! Where are you?"
"U-up h-here," a small, terrified voice said from above him. He looked up to find his little godson curled up in a tree, sobbing.
"Harry!" Sirius cried, relief flooding his body as he saw that his godson was okay. "Come down, kiddo!"
"I-I c-can't!" the little boy wailed.
"Just jump down, Har-bear," Sirius replied. "I'll catch you, I promise!"
"O-okay," Harry said shakily and he slid from the tree branch and landed safely in his godfather's strong arms.
Sirius sank to the ground with his godson in his arms and hugged the boy close and sobbed. Gods! How good it felt to have the boy in his arms again. They stayed like that for a moment before Sirius took a calming breath and stood up and walked them back to the house, meeting the rest of the rescue crew along the way. He assured them that Harry was fine; he was just scared and cold. He thanked them for their help and half-hugged Remus and told him that he would floo-call him later.
After everyone left, he noticed that Harry was muttering something into his chest. He listened close and finally made out the words. "Please don't send me away. Please don't leave me. I'll be good! I promise. Please don't send me away!"
He sat down on the couch and wrapped the throw-blanket around his godson. "No one is sending you away Harry. Why would you think that?"
"I'm an ungrateful freak," Harry responded, like he had so many times before.
"No you're not, Harry," Sirius told him. "We've been through this. You are not a freak and you are certainly not ungrateful. Why would you say that?"
"You're so nice to me," Harry sniffed. "And I s-screamed at you and t-threw s-stuff and b-bit you. Now you're m-mad and you're n-not g-gonna l-love me anymore and you're g-gonna b-beat me and s-send me away, I-I just know i-it." He dissolved into tears.
"Oh, Harry," Sirius sighed, as he cuddled his godson close to him. "What you did this afternoon was not okay, Harry. And I was very angry with you, but just because I'm angry doesn't mean I don't love you anymore. I always love you, Harry, even when I'm mad at you. And no one, NO ONE will ever send you away from me. And I will never, ever beat you. Do you understand? I love you, Puppy."
"I-I love you, too, Siri," Harry sniffled.
"You worried me so much today, Harry!" Sirius told the boy. "Why would you run off like that? Do you know how scared I was when I couldn't find you? What if I couldn't get you tonight? What if I never found you? Do you know how I would have felt, Pup?"
"Horribly, horribly sad! And worried and scared!" Sirius informed him.
"You would be scared?" Harry asked. "But you're never scared of anything!"
"I assure you, Harry, that I can get scared," Sirius explained. "In fact, today I was terrified."
"You were?" Harry said shocked.
"Oh yes," Sirius told him. "I was afraid that I would lose you, Prongslet."
"I was scared too, Siri," Harry confided. "It was dark and cold and I thought I was never gonna see you again! A-A-Achoo!"
"Yep," Sirius said with a sigh. "I knew it. You've caught a cold. Alright, c'mon, kiddo, let's go upstairs and get you into some warm, dry clothes and get you to bed. We can talk about this more in the morning, okay?" And with that, Sirius took Harry's hand and led him up the stairs and got him ready for bed.
Sirius walked back into kitchen holding a large, awkwardly wrapped birthday present. He set the present on the table in front of his godson. He noticed the distant look in the boy's eyes as he looked up at Sirius. The eleven-year-old stood up suddenly and walked over to him and wrapped his arms around Sirius' waist. Sirius' eyes widened as he looked at his normally shy, private godson. He hugged the boy back. "What brought this on?" Sirius asked, bewildered.
"Sometimes, I forget how lucky I am that I have you," Harry told him, honestly. "I love you, Siri."
Sirius smiled at the endearment Harry had used when he was little. "I love you too, Puppy." He pulled back and smiled at Harry. "Now open up the present! I just wrapped it and it can't stay wrapped long!"
"Okay," Harry replied, thoroughly confused. He untied the ribbon at the top and pulled the paper down to reveal the beautiful snowy owl he had seen at the Owl Emporium a couple of weeks ago.
"I saw you staring at her at the Emporium," Sirius explained. "I thought she would come in handy while you're at Hogwarts."
"Thank you so much, Sirius!" Harry said in awe. "She's beautiful!" He slipped his fingers in between the bars of the cage and stroked her soft feathers. She nipped his fingers affectionately.
"You're welcome," Sirius responded. "Now, what are you going to name her?"
"Hmm… I read a name in one of my Hogwarts books a couple days ago," Harry told him after thinking for a moment. "It was Hedwig."
"That's a nice name."
"I think so too," Harry stared at his new pet. "What do you think, girl? Is Hedwig okay with you?" The beautiful owl blinked her large amber eyes and hooted softly at her new master.
"Hedwig it is then," Sirius declared.
"May I let her out with Tory?" Harry asked.
"Sure," Sirius replied. "You'll probably need to feed her too."
"Okay," Harry unlatched the cage and let Hedwig out. The snowy owl swooped through the room and landed on a perch near Tory. The two of them stared reproachfully at each other before ruffling up their feathers importantly and placing their beaks under their wings and drifting to sleep. Harry fed the owls in the basin by the pantry. He looked up at Hedwig and he would have been willing to bet that she was the most beautiful owl in the whole world.
"Thank you, Sirius," Harry said, hugging his godfather again.
A/N: Okay I know it's not as long as the last chapter but it seemed like a good stopping place… And at least I updated quickly right? Please feel free to review! Thanks for reading!