His Final Goodbye
Sirius Black checked his watch as he landed his bike in the quiet, dark street. It wasn't too late, but he didn't feel up to spending a few hours with Wormtail. He'd just check on him, make sure everything was OK, and get back home.
It was freezing, so he shoved his hands in his pockets as he set off towards Peter's house. It took barely a thirty seconds to reach the front door; but by the time he had he was already feeling uneasy. He could sense that something was wrong.
He knocked on the door and waited ten, fifteen seconds before yelling, "Peter?" When there was still no reply, he blasted the door open, because there was panic rising in his throat. He knew there was something...
The house was normal. Not tidy – Peter had never been tidy. But it was the same as always. He checked the house quickly; no sign of him.
And he knew.
He swore as he ran from the house, barely able to believe it. It couldn't be – it just wasn't – not him –
He apparated as soon as he was able, clutching hold of his bike – it would have taken too long to fly here - and appeared a few feet away from Lily and James's house.
And when his gaze landed on the house, he fell to his knees.
It was destroyed. A wreckage was all that was left of the sweet little house Lily and James had loved so much. And he couldn't bring himself to stand, to move closer, too scared of what he'd find.
And at the same time, he couldn't stay away. He had to see; had to search for any sign of life, had to check...because James couldn't be – Lily couldn't be – and God, no, not little Harry...
He stood shakily, and took a few steps forward. He was trembling, because he felt it. He and James, they'd known each other so long, been so close, he couldn't not feel it when James was...was...
He saw the body. Crumpled on the floor. Lifeless. So obviously dead.
James would never stay there, crumpled on the ground, letting someone get to his wife and child. The only thing that could keep James laying there was...
"Sirius?" A gruff voice said his name, and Sirius looked towards it. The giant form of Hagrid was walking towards him, from the house.
"They – they -" Sirius choked. "They're..." He couldn't speak, couldn't form the words. But Hagrid laid a giant hand on his shoulder; and then Sirius saw what was cradled in his other arm.
"Harry?" He choked it; because the baby was awake. His bright green eyes were wide open, a tired half smile on his face as he looked at Sirius. "Oh – God – he's alive?"
He lifted the child from Hagrid; the other man did nothing to stop him. "What about – about Lily?" Sirius managed, holding Harry tight.
"No, Sirius." Hagrid said gently. "They're gone."
He choked out a sob, and hugged his godson tighter. Then, because he felt like his knees were going to give out, he let Hagrid life the baby from him, and clung instead to the gate. "You're sure?" He asked. "You're absolutely..."
"Yes." Hagrid replied softly. He sounded rather choked up himself.
He couldn't stop shaking. Sirius clung to the cold metal of the gate so hard his had was actually cutting, but he couldn't stop shaking. Lily and James...Dead...Peter a spy, a traitor...
"How did he – how did Harry – survive?" He managed finally. He still wasn't steady, but he wanted the boy back. Wanted his weight and warm.
"Dunno." Hagrid replied. "But You-Know-Who – he's gone."
"Gone?" Sirius repeated.
"Yeah. Lost his powers or something. But he's gone."
He couldn't take it in. None of it made sense, and he hoped it was just a dream.
"Give him to me." He said finally, holding out his arms for Harry. "I'm his godfather – I'll look after him, like they – like they wanted me to."
"No." Hagrid said apologetically. "Dumbledore says he's to go to his aunt and uncle."
"Lily's sister? But she – they didn't get on! She's never even seen him -"
"Dumbledore says he'll be safe there." Hagrid said, and Sirius nodded. Dumbledore...they hadn't had time to let him know about the switch. He must still think...
"OK." Sirius said. They'd sort that out later. Maybe Dumbledore had more reasons for this – maybe he didn't really believe Sirius had betrayed them...How could anyone believe that?
"Can I...just say goodbye?" Sirius whispered. Hagrid nodded and finally passed him back. Sirius held him as tightly as he dared, shaking harder than ever. "You'll be OK, little guy." He murmured. "I'll make sure of it – I promise you that."
Several minutes passed; then Hagrid cleared his throat.
"I really ought to be going." Hagrid told him. "Dumbledore wants him there before morning." Sirius nodded; it felt like a snitch had lodged itself in his throat. He handed Harry back over – and it felt as though he'd lost everything.
"Take – take my bike." He said, gesturing to where it lay, on its side. "It'll be quicker – safer – just make sure he gets there OK."
Hagrid nodded. "OK. I'll come back – the bodies..." He said, and Sirius could barely breathe. Bodies...
"OK. Take care, Hagrid. Bye-bye, Harry."
He watched Hagrid go to the bike, straighten it, and settle himself and Harry. With a final wave, he roared the bike to life and it took off. Sirius watched until he couldn't see it no more, then turned back to the house. And started up the path.
He felt tears slipping from his eyes as he reached the front door. It was hanging by one hinge.
He crouched beside him, and gathered him close. He didn't care that it was lifeless, that this wasn't really James anymore – he needed to say his goodbye.
"I'm sorry, Prongs." He whispered. "I didn't know...I didn't mean to..." He reached behind the crooked glasses and closed his eyes. Then he began to rock, ever so slightly, trying to bring comfort to them both; never mind that James was beyond comfort.
He never knew how long passed, with him clinging to James, crying silently. But suddenly it hit him – Lily.
"God, I'm sorry Prongs." He whispered. He gently let go of James, laying him carefully. Then he stepped past him, carefully climbing the stairs.
How he knew where Lily was he couldn't explain – but he headed for the nursery.
"Padfoot...Promise me something." He looked up as James spoke, and nodded.
"If I...If something happens to me, promise me you'll look after Lily and Harry."
Sirius felt his heart jump. "Come on, nothing's going to happen to you."
"Promise me. Please."
He nodded. "Of – of course."
He stumbled into the room – or what was left of it. It was barely recognisable – but he saw her immediately. Slumped by the cot. Her face was still wet with tears; but her eyes were empty.
Another sob escaped him – Lily, who he'd loved like sister – beautiful, sweet Lily...as dead as the man she'd loved.
He crossed to her, barely aware that the whole floor could collapse, and brushed a hand over her hair. "Sorry..." He mumbled. He closed her eyes, too, then scooped her up, carried her across the room. They had to be together...they had to be together...
He carried her down the stairs, then sat beside James, hugging Lily. This was all he could do for James; hold her until the warmth of life had left her completely.
"I'll get him for this." He whispered. His tears had dried up now – he didn't have the energy to cry. "I'll destroy him, I swear. He'll never – he'll never get to Harry, I promise."
He sat with them for a little while longer; then he just couldn't stay there anymore.
He lightly kissed Lily's forehead, laid her gently beside James. And surveyed them. Gone. They were really gone.
"Goodbye." He whispered. He could have launched into a speech about how much he'd loved them, about how he'd never forget them, how much he'd miss them – but James and Lily would know all that, and he couldn't find the words.
So instead he left the, comforted that they were, at least, together, and walked slowly down the path.
And set out to find Peter – determined that nothing would stop him getting his revenge. Not when Peter had killed two of the people Sirius loved above all others.
He took one last look at the house before he disappeared. And murmured one final goodbye.