Fragments of Us

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Chapter 1 - Kate

Kate. He stood on the landing at the top of the stairs, hidden by the perpetual dimness of the house. From his vantage point Sirius could see her as she stood in the entrance hall, speaking quietly with Remus. Kate. Thirteen years ago the sight of her face had often been enough to stop his breath. And then it had all come crashing down. Suspicion arose among them, like weeds through sidewalk cracks, pushing aside what was once strong and breaking them into pieces. James…Lily… both dead – and Harry with those stupid Muggles. Remus – existing – barely…and Kate – working in the States, an Auror for the US Ministry of Magic, according to Dumbledore. Undoubtedly thinking he'd killed their friends, betrayed them all. Certainly believing that nothing they might have ever had together meant anything at all to him. Sirius closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the cold wall. He had kept the memory of her face with him throughout his twelve years in Azkaban. The Dementors had no interest in that particular memory as it held no happiness for him. The last glimpse Sirius ever had of the face that meant so much came on the day he was arrested. Standing with other Aurors behind the Muggle police barricade, her lovely face was white, her mouth parted in horror, her beautiful brown eyes wide in her face as she watched the scene before her. As he struggled against the bonds of the Ministry representatives who held him, Sirius had met her eyes and saw the confusion change to shock and, finally, horrible comprehension. She had turned, suddenly, and disappeared into the crowd and that was when Sirius had begun screaming in earnest. Most of his memories were fragments; the only whole, firm memory he had of the woman who had meant so much to him was that last glance on the day they took him away. And now, here she was again. Back in London. Back in the Order. And here he was. A man aged beyond his years, broken in mind and – these days – in spirit. Back in a house he'd hated and left as a boy. He opened his eyes again and gazed down into the hallway. She was gone. Sirius sighed then started slightly as Remus stepped back to the foot of the stairs.

"The meeting is about to start, Padfoot," his hoarse voice was quiet. "Are you coming down?"

Sirius shook his head slightly, his gaze dropping to the floor. "I … not tonight, Remus. I can't …" he didn't finish.

Remus moved up one step. "Sirius, I know this is difficult for you, but she's not going to go away again. She's come back to rejoin the Order, to help protect Harry. Dumbledore has told her the truth about that night, about your innocence. She knows that you're here. You're going to have to see her eventually."

Sirius looked at his friend. "Not tonight," he whispered. Turning, he headed up the staircase to the third floor and the master suite where Buckbeak was hidden away.

Remus watched him until he disappeared, then made his way to the kitchen and the Order meeting which was undoubtedly already underway.