-1A/N: Thanks again to everyone who reviewed and especially to Jennadancer and BeautifulllDisaster09 for saying more than the basic "this is good." And, by popular demand (or popular in my eyes, I've never written a fan fiction before so this might be less than popular compared to normal standards) here's chapter 4!
Sirius breathed a sigh of relief as he closed to door to the hospital wing softly behind him. It had taken a long time to settle Harry down enough to get him to sleep. With the potions he had been given, he really needed to sleep in order to be cured. The problem was that it was still early in the day. Sirius had fought with Harry to try and get him to sleep until lunchtime, when Poppy had managed to slip some dreamless sleep potion into the boy's juice. Even with the potion, the child was so stubbornly adamant that he shouldn't sleep that Sirius was beginning to wonder if, perhaps, he was stronger than the magic. Finally, near two o'clock, Harry had dozed off.
Dumbledore had been wanting to talk to him. That was evident from the beginning, of course. For once in his life, though, Sirius wanted to talk to Dumbledore as well. He needed advice. Was he in way too deep? He knew that it was important for Harry to be raised correctly, but was he really the best man for the job? Already he was losing his patience with the tiny child. He had been so sure of himself this morning when he'd left the house. What had happened?
"Sirius," Dumbledore said wearily. He had left the hospital wing an hour before with some vague excuse about needing to get something from his office, but Sirius knew that the reality was that it pained the old man to see that something had gone seriously wrong with Harry, and know that he had been the one to cause that. For it was obvious that Dumbledore would blame himself.
Sure enough, Dumbledore appeared within moments of Sirius leaving the hospital wing. Sirius wasn't surprised. He turned warily to face the older man. Already he was exhausted with taking care of the four year old, and as yet he hadn't done anything more than keep the child in bed. That was enough of a feat. Harry had been anxious, as if afraid of what would happen to him if he lay abed in the daytime. That was something he'd have to look into, later…
"What's wrong with him?" Dumbledore questioned, jolting Sirius from his thoughts.
Sirius gave a helpless shrug of his shoulders. How should he know what was wrong with the little boy? He didn't know anything about kids! Sure, he figured that Harry looked short and skinny for his age, but he was no doctor, so who was he to say that the boy was malnourished? That wasn't his job. He didn't have the training for that. Nor did he have the training to say that Harry had been severely neglected, though he had the evidence of Harry's animalistic behavior right in front of his nose.
"Sirius," Dumbledore whispered, "Are you prepared to handle whatever it is?"
Sirius looked up in confusion. How could he promise that when he didn't know what it was? How could he promise that he would love and nurture the child when he didn't know what the future would hold for them? He swallowed. Parents did that every day, when they took a child into their homes. There was never any guarantee that your child would turn out to be an upstanding citizen. All you could do was do your best and see what happened.
"Sirius," Dumbledore repeated, his voice urgent, "You need to be very sure about that. Harry's in a critical stage, as far as I can see. He needs someone who will support him and be patient with him while also teaching him how he should be behaving. If you're not prepared to do that, then it is important that you admit that to yourself. What's best for Harry?"
His words bounced off of Sirius for a few minutes. What was he talking about? What did he mean, what was important to Harry? When he finally understood the meaning of the words, he emanated a sharp whistle as he sucked a lungful of air through his teeth, "It's either me or St. Mungo's, isn't it?"
Dumbledore inclined his head. Sirius felt as if his world was crashing in around him. He had been so sure that his freedom from Azkaban would solve everything. Was young Harry really that bad off? Sirius felt a twinge in his arm where the small child had bitten him and then ripped at the open wound. But… He had been scared then. Surely he wasn't always like that?
"James's son…" Sirius whispered. "I can't send James's son to St. Mungo's."
Dumbledore nodded as if he expected that answer, but Sirius couldn't tell if that was a good thing or not. What he did know was that being Harry's godfather was a lot more taxing than he ever could have guessed four years ago when James asked him if he was interested. Even without sending Harry to the hospital, he might have to hire specialists to help work with him… First, though, he'd see what he could do by himself.
"You should probably get some sleep," Dumbledore told Sirius, "You had some quick cure potions as well, and tomorrow is bound to be a long day for you."
Sirius nodded his thanks and slipped quietly back into the hospital wing, lying down on the bed opposite Harry's. He was so exhausted that being in his clothes didn't even matter at this point. He just kicked off his shoes and then rolled over, falling into a deep slumber.
Sirius heard crying. He didn't recognize what it was at first. His years at Azkaban had gotten him to grow accustomed to loud screams and shrieks entering his dreams. This was more quiet and subtle, almost a whimper disrupting his dreams. He blinked, sitting up slowly, his mind still muddled and uncomprehending. It wasn't until he recognized that he was in the hospital wing that he remembered the day before. Then he sat up quickly and whipped around.
Harry was curled in a ball on his bed. His clothes were soaked through; he had wet himself. Now he was rocking back and forth in the mess, looking almost fearful about what he'd done, quiet tears running down his face. To see him so forlorn and scared made Sirius's blood boil, and he jumped up without thinking.
Harry shrieked and backed as far towards the wall as he could. Sirius silently cursed himself for his insensitivity. He'd have to work on that. Harry was too jumpy and skittish for Sirius to be leaping around like a madman. He told himself to slow down and approach the boy with caution. He didn't want to relive the previous day's experiences.
"Harry," he said, stooping down next to Harry's bed so he was at eye level with the child and taking care not to keep the bark from his voice, "What's wrong?"
Harry shuddered but didn't answer. He was now rocking back and forth, his tiny arms wrapped tightly around his legs as though he were trying to make himself as small as possible. Sirius wondered what he had done to make Harry so afraid of him. How could he right a wrong he didn't remember committing?
"Harry," he whispered, "Please don't be scared of me. I won't hurt you, I swear. You have to talk to me."
Harry's big green eyes stared straight ahead, taking no notice of Sirius whatsoever. It was as if he had turned off his senses, and the thought that he could so deaden himself left Sirius feeling torn apart inside. Sirius felt so helpless right now, even more than he had when he'd been a prisoner in Azkaban. At least then he could take some responsibility for the way he was feeling inside. Now he could have none, and without being able to take responsibility for the wrong it seemed as though he couldn't fix it either.
Sirius reached his hands out to pick Harry up off of the defaced mattress. Having seen how Harry had been reacting to him in the past day, Sirius anticipated his wince, but it didn't come. Harry didn't seem to notice him at all, and Sirius didn't know which was worse. He sighed, setting Harry to the side of the mattress and carefully pulling the sheets off of the bed. He and Harry would be departing from Hogwarts early, it seemed. Sirius wanted to get Harry home to a bath. It seemed like the best way to deal with the child. He left a note on the table telling Madam Pomfrey and Dumbledore the situation before taking the seemingly lifeless Harry into his arms once more.
"Harry," he whispered, practically pleading with the boy now, "Please look at me."
Somehow, miraculously, the words seemed to have an affect on the boy. He blinked a few times and looked around as if dazed. Finding himself in the air, in the arms of a man to whom he felt only fear, he began to flail and thrash wildly, letting out a strangled shriek. Sirius was almost relieved, for at least now Harry was reacting to him. It was better than him sitting there looking practically dead, in any case.
"Harry, it's okay," he said soothingly, his free hand capable of restraining the tiny child without too much effort. "You had a bad dream last night and had an accident. I'm taking you home to take a bath."
Harry stopped screaming. Sirius looked at him in surprise. It seemed that despite his seemingly animal instincts, Harry understood the English language with no problem at all. Why, then, did he not speak? Or was it that he was simply afraid of speaking, of revealing that he knew too much? Did he think that by keeping quiet, he was somehow safer? That's how it seemed to Sirius, in any case. And he began to look at Harry differently. It seemed to him that Harry wasn't as savage as he had first appeared. Not savage at all, really. Just scared.
Operating under that impression would make dealing with Harry a whole lot easier, if he was correct. If he could anticipate Harry's fears ahead of time and warn him against them, perhaps he would someday be able to gain Harry's trust. He would try to, in any case, "Harry… We're going to be traveling to my house by something called floo powder. It can seem like a scary way to travel if you're not used to it, so I want you to be prepared. It's going to look like we're stepping into fire, but I promise that it won't hurt you once I put in some special powder, okay? And when we're moving we're going to spin around a little. If you close your eyes you won't feel as dizzy."
He wondered if Harry could possibly have understood all of that. It seemed like a lot to throw at a four year old. He glanced at Harry's face, which showed a slight hint of apprehension but was less fearful than it had been. Well, whether or not Harry had fully comprehended his words, it seemed that he had at least accomplished what he had wanted to accomplish.
When Sirius had finished bathing Harry and had served him breakfast, he gave the boy a couple of picture books to look at in the living room, placing wards on the doors so Harry wouldn't be able to run off. Sirius was a proud man, but he wasn't so proud as to not realize how much he needed help and advice right now. He decided to give a firecall to Lupin. After all, Lupin was his best friend and he valued his opinion above anyone else's.
"Sirius," Lupin asked with a smile when Sirius's head appeared in his fireplace, "Miss me already, do you?"
Sirius rolled his eyes, "It's about Harry."
"Oh, that's right. You went to see him yesterday. How'd that go?"
"Bad." Sirius said. It took him nearly ten minutes to fill Lupin in on the current situation, and by the end of the story Lupin was looking as angry as Sirius had ever seen him. He shuddered, knowing how dangerous it could be to anger a werewolf, and was glad to know that Lupin's anger couldn't possibly be directed at him.
"So," Lupin said at last, "Harry is totally uncivilized and underdeveloped?"
"Yeah. In short," Sirius said. "What should I do about it? Should I get a specialist?"
"No," Lupin said, "Harry needs to feel like you're the one in charge. There's nothing they can do for Harry that you can't. Not really, anyway. Either way you look at it, it's an adult trying to control Harry. He is bound to respond negatively no matter what."
"So I can't do anything for him?" Sirius asked incredulously. He had expected Lupin to make him feel better, not worse.
"That's not what I said. I said getting a specialist to help you wouldn't do too much. I suggest teenagers."
"What are you playing at?"
"What Harry needs, it seems, is to see kids behaving as they should. If it seems like they aren't trying to teach him anything, but are just expecting him to act the same as they do, then he is likely to adapt to their behaviors rather quickly. The behaviors of a normal child. Teenagers would be the best age to get to mentor him, because they are not so impressionable that his behavior would rub off on them, but they are not in such a position of authority that Harry with withdraw from them."
Sirius frowned. Lupin's arguments seemed solid enough, but it seemed a bit backwards to him that he should send teenagers in to try and teach his godson how to behave. If he couldn't do it, why should they be able to? Still… The fact was that he couldn't do it alone. If word got out that Harry needed specialists to work with him, he would never get it off his back for the rest of his life. He was too well known for the news to go unnoticed, and Sirius doubted that many would care that he was four years old and had been abused. All they would see for the rest of Harry's life would be a maniac.
"We could try it," Sirius told Lupin at last, "I will take any help I can get at this point. Of course, I'll be working with him all day and stuff, but if you could find a kid to send over in the afternoon I'd entertain the idea."
"I can do better than that," Lupin said cheerfully, "I can find three. I told you that my neighbor has been having me watch her daughter because she's too sick? I've been taking care of Elizabeth for two months now, except for during the full moon. She needs to have something to do in the afternoon, and she's great with kids. I'm sure she'd be glad to hang out with Harry for a couple of hours in the afternoon, especially if I said that she could invite over her boyfriend and his best friend. The three of them are practically inseparable, Elizabeth's modest enough that she doesn't need strict supervision around them, and it would help Harry to have both male and female influences."
Sirius looked at Lupin in surprise, only just realizing that his friend had played him in order to find something to keep the teenage girl out of trouble… Yet, the more he thought about it, the more Lupin's plan seemed to make sense. It seemed like a plan that would work, and it would help all involved participants out. If the teenagers didn't have an affect on Harry, he knew that he'd be forced to bring specialists in the mix… There was no point in getting rid of his options now, though.
"Sounds good," Sirius said, "Can you send them over next Monday? I should have the house basically in order by then."