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.
Warnings: Rated M. Explicit sexual material.
Chapter 71 – Freedom
Sirius paced in front of the fireplace in the parlor at Grimmauld Place. He had been pacing off and on since Remus had left Headquarters earlier that night. He had no idea what Malfoy's interrogation would reveal, but Sirius did know that Tonks' report had put him potentially closer to the freedom he had craved for well over a decade. He shivered suddenly, despite the presence of a blazing fire in the hearth. This was the closest he had been to clearing his name since that fateful night in the Shack and, thinking of that failure, Sirius could not help but think that this attempt, too, would be unsuccessful.
"Sirius," Remus' voice greeted him from the doorway. Sirius turned to find that his friend was alone.
"Dumbledore didn't come back with you?" Sirius asked, suddenly wanting to delay whatever Remus had to say to him.
"No, actually, he did not. He wanted to get back to the school. Umbridge is gone, you see, and Albus has been reinstated as the Headmaster," Remus replied, walking over to his friend.
Sirius looked away from Remus' face, but Remus would have none of it. He reached out and lifted Sirius' chin until he looked him in the eye. "You're free, Padfoot. Malfoy's statement included Pettigrew's culpability for James and Lily; for the deaths of those 13 Muggles and for framing you for all of it. Tonight, Pettigrew posed as Sirius Black to deliver Harry to Voldemort in the Atrium after the Death Eaters killed the other students. Malfoy said all of this to Kingsley, while Fudge, Dumbledore, Tonks, Kate and I watched from the observation room. Fudge is going to make a public announcement later today; it will clear you of everything and restore your name. Sirius," Remus paused and reached out to his friend, taking him by the shoulders and gripping him tightly. "Sirius, you are free, old friend. Free!"
Sirius stood for a moment, looking at the other man before he gasped softly and tears began to stream down his face. "It's really happened, then," he whispered. "Finally, the truth has come out. I really am free."
Remus laughed out loud and hugged his oldest friend tightly. "Yes, Padfoot; you are really free!"
They stood for a moment, then Remus let go of Sirius and took a step backward. "I think this might call for a drink, don't you?"
Sirius wiped his face on his sleeve roughly then smiled. "Perhaps just a small one, then. I want to go to Harry and it would hardly do to show up pissed to the gills!"
Remus laughed again, then retrieved a bottle of Firewhiskey and two shot glasses. He poured a measure into each and handed one to Sirius. "Cheers, old friend," he said, raising his glass toward Sirius, who mirrored his actions with a matching smile. After they'd both tossed back the amber liquid, they placed the glasses on the mantle.
"Thank you, Mooney – for everything. You've been more brother to me than my own ever was and I love you for it. I don't suppose any wizard ever had a better friend," Sirius said quietly.
Remus smiled. "I love you, too, Pads. We've certainly been through it all, haven't we? And here we are."
"Here we are," Sirius echoed. "Not quite the way I'd envisioned it would be if I was ever cleared," he added.
"You're thinking of Kate," it wasn't a question.
Sirius glanced at the other man briefly before answering. "Yes. I always pictured her beside me when it happened; that we would finally be able to have a life together. Of course, that won't happen now. Harry and I can be a proper family, though and, speaking of my Godson, I think I'll shower and change and head over to see him."
"Sirius, wait," Remus put out a hand to stop him. "First of all, Kate is having breakfast with Harry this morning. You may want to keep that in mind before you Floo over there. Secondly, Harry thinks you died last night. Dumbledore planned to have both you and Kate go to the Annex today so he could be told the truth."
Sirius' face tightened. "I don't want to see Kate. I'll go when they're finished."
"Sirius, I'm going to ask you to think about something. If you wait until Kate's gone to walk in on Harry, he will think that Kate deliberately allowed him to suffer last night without telling him the truth. That's a horrible thing to do to both of them. Can't you put this foolishness about Kate to one side for Harry's sake?"
"Why would Kate have had the opportunity to tell Harry anything?" Sirius asked him, derisively, ignoring all but Remus' original comment. "Didn't you say that she was at the Ministry during Malfoy's questioning?"
Remus frowned. "Yes, but when she left here, she went to the Annex. That's where I found her when Albus asked me to bring her to the interrogation room. Really, Sirius, where else was she to go?"
Sirius shook his head. "Alright, Remus. I'll head over there in an hour or so. That should give Kate ample time with the boy and it will allow her to be there when Harry discovers that I'm alive. She can answer whatever questions he has of her then. Is that fair?"
Remus nodded with a sigh. "Sirius, is there anything I can say to make you reconsider what you've decided about Kate and your relationship with her?"
"Nothing," came the firm reply as Sirius rose and headed toward the doors. "Really, Remus, Kate did the one thing I never thought she would do: she used magic to keep me from Harry. She hexed me, Remus, and then she left me here. I can't get over that. Don't expect me to."
"Do you love her?" Remus decided to make one last attempt to reach his friend before he let him go.
Sirius stopped and turned back toward Remus. "That has no bearing on this."
"Oh, I believe it does. Just because you've made the decision to live without her doesn't mean you have no feelings for her," Remus rationalized. "Do you love her?"
Sirius frowned at the werewolf then turned and left the room.
Kate arrived back at the Annex and went directly to her room. She gathered all of her belongings from that room and added it to the suitcase Sirius had packed and handed her and shrunk it to fit in her pocket. Kate then had just enough time to shower and dress and still be on time to have breakfast with Harry. She would need to tell him about her transfer, but would promise to come and see him as often as possible. Kate would also work very hard to have Harry come to Dublin for at least a portion of his summer holidays. She could only hope that it would be enough.
When she arrived in the kitchen, Kate was surprised to see Harry already there. He gave her a small smile and gestured over to the counter. "I made coffee," he said. "Not sure how much you'll like it, but it's hot and it smells like coffee, anyway."
Kate squeezed his shoulder as she walked by his chair. "It will be delicious, I'm sure. I haven't had a great deal of sleep, so as long as it has plenty of caffeine, it will be fine." One she'd fixed her coffee Kate brought her mug to the table and sat down opposite Harry. "Were you able to get any sleep?"
He shrugged. "A little. Ron snores."
Kate smiled. "Ah, well that would get in the way, wouldn't it? Interested in some breakfast, then?"
Harry nodded. "Sure. What are we having?"
"How about scrambled eggs and toast? I believe I can handle that much at this hour," Kate told him. "I'll cook; you set the table. Deal?"
"Deal," Harry smiled back at her.
Soon, they were seated with their meal. Although there wasn't a great deal of conversation, the atmosphere was comfortable. When they finished and Kate had poured herself a second cup of coffee, she decided that the time had come to share her news with Harry.
"Listen, I have something to tell you," she began. "I've been given a temporary assignment in Dublin. I'll be training their Aurors."
Harry looked at her in surprise. "How long will you be gone?"
"I'm not sure," Kate said, honestly. "Through the summer, anyway. I'm hoping Dumbledore will allow you to come and stay with me at least for part of your holidays."
Harry nodded, but his face was sad. "When do you leave?"
"I'm going to meet with a real estate agent later today to see about a flat. I won't officially start until next week," she explained.
"I wish you weren't going," Harry admitted. "I've only just found you and now I'm losing you, too."
"Oh, Harry, you're not losing me. I'm just a Floo call away; and I can be here in a matter of moments if you need me," Kate told him, reaching over and covering his hand with her own. "I promise you, I will not stay away from you. I promise."
Harry nodded and squeezed her hand. "I know."
"Good morning," Dumbledore's voice reached them from the kitchen doorway. "I hope I'm not interrupting you."
"No, not at all, Albus," Kate said. "What can we do for you?" Sirius, she thought. It was more than time that the boy learned the truth.
"Harry, we have something to share with you that will undoubtedly be a bit of a shock," Dumbledore stated.
"Professor, I don't under…" Harry began, but stopped as his gaze shifted to a point just above Dumbledore's shoulder. His eyes filled. "Sirius," he whispered.
Sirius stepped into the room and, suddenly, Harry was in his arms sobbing, large sections of Sirius' robes caught in his fists. Sirius rocked him back and forth, rubbing circles on his back. "Shh," he murmured to the boy. "It's alright. I'm here."
"But I saw you die," Harry choked out. "How can you be here?"
"Come, let's sit down and we'll explain it all to you," Sirius said, leading Harry back to the table and taking a seat next to him. He never even looked at Kate.
It took less than thirty minutes for Dumbledore to explain the events in the Department of Mysteries and Malfoy's subsequent revelations during his interrogation. Harry listened raptly, smiling at the end. "You're free," he said to Sirius happily. "Finally, you're free!"
Sirius nodded. "Yes, Harry. Finally."
Kate watched the interaction between Sirius and Harry and felt sad to think that she would not be part of their lives going forward. Oh, she and Harry would get together, but she was willing to bet that Sirius would never agree to be a part of it. Suddenly, she felt as if the walls were closing in on her. "Harry, I've got to go or I'll be late," she said.
The boy nodded and stood up. Kate came around the table and embraced her Godson tightly. "Remember that I am never far away from you, yes?" Kate felt him nod against her shoulder. "And always, always know how very much I love you." Kate's throat threatened to close completely and her vision blurred. Harry picked up his head and looked at her. "I love you, Kate, but I'll see you." She nodded.
"I'd best be going. Take care of yourself," Kate said to Harry. Turning toward the doorway, she caught Dumbledore's eye. "Albus," she acknowledged him and then strode purposefully toward the door.
Harry looked after Kate then at Sirius. When the boy saw the anger on Sirius' face, he spoke up. "Sirius, what's wrong? Why are you angry?"
Sirius tried to clear his expression, but it was too late – and he knew it.
'Sirius, talk to me," Harry continued.
"Sit down, Harry. It's rather a long story," Sirius finally spoke.
When they were seated, Sirius began, "Harry, Kate and I are no longer together. That doesn't have any impact on you at all; it's between us. She's still your Godmother and I'm still your Godfather. We don't have to be together to fulfill those roles."
"Sirius, go on," Harry insisted and the older wizard complied. Harry's eyes grew wide as Sirius told him about the ongoing argument he'd had with Kate about going to help Harry in battle.
"In the end, when Snape came to Grimmauld Place to tell Kate what had happened to you, I tried to come to the Ministry to help. She hexed me and left me in a corner of the parlor." Sirius told the boy. "How could I forgive that?"
Harry stared incredulously at his Godfather for several moments. "Sirius! Thank Merlin Kate hexed you! Imagine what would have happened if you'd shown up! The fact that Voldemort wanted Pettigrew dead and ordered him to take Polyjuice potion to look like you doesn't tell you anything?"
"Harry, I…" Sirius began, but Harry had warmed to his subject and wouldn't allow him to say anything further.
"Sirius, we saw what would have happened if you'd shown up: you'd have been killed! You were killed, as far as I was concerned! Voldemort was so sure that all the right people were in place to do his dirty work for him. He wanted Pettigrew to die and he was willing to use both Ministry employees and his own Death Eaters to do it!" Harry stopped to catch his breath and Sirius saw an opening to try again.
"Harry, please, let me…."
"NO!" the teenager leapt from his chair and stood before his Godfather, his posture so like Sirius' own when he was enraged: shoulders back, arms by his sides, hands clenching and unclenching. "No! You don't get to talk; it's my turn. Sirius, do you even know what I did after I thought you went through the Veil? No? I started to go after you. That's right – I started to walk through the Veil, convinced that I could reach you and grab you back. I knew Bellatrix had cast the Killing Curse; I watched you die, but I somehow thought I could ignore all of that and bring you back. Do you know why I didn't keep going? Remus. He grabbed me and held on so I couldn't move. He saved me! But did I just stop and accept it? NO! I broke away from him and I went after Bellatrix! Bellatrix, Sirius! The witch who had just killed you. Do you know what I did to catch up to her? No? I cast Crucio, Sirius! Like a Death Eater would have done! Like she did! I was so out of my mind with the thought that you were gone that I never once thought about myself. Do you know who was waiting for me in the Atrium, Sirius? Voldemort! And if Dumbledore hadn't come after me and taken him on, I would have died!" Harry was crying now, his breath coming in shallow pants and he wiped his nose on his sleeve as he stared his Godfather down.
Tears slid down Sirius' cheeks as he both listened to and watched his Godson suffer through the retelling of the battle. He reached out to Harry in an attempt to comfort him and was horrified when the boy batted his hand away. "No! I'm not finished," he said, but he seemed a bit more in control and sat down in his chair, facing the older wizard.
"Are you angry with Remus for stopping me from going after you?" Harry asked.
Sirius looked surprised at the question but answered it after a moment. "No, of course not, Harry! How can you…."
"Are you angry with Dumbledore for coming after me and saving me from Voldemort?"
"No," Harry echoed. "Yet, you're furious with Kate for doing the same thing that they did. I don't know, but it doesn't sound fair to me."
Sirius shook his head. "It's not the same thing, Harry! You don't understand!"
"I think it is, Sirius. You didn't listen to her when she tried to reason with you. You keep hanging on to this stupid idea that you're responsible for my parents' deaths – and for me growing up as I did. I don't know what else to say to convince you that I don't believe that you are! You think that you have to protect me by physically being present when I'm in danger. Well, Sirius, guess what? Until Voldemort's dead, I'm in danger all the time. But, you can't be with me in school. You can't be with me when I'm at my aunt and uncle's house. I need you alive, Sirius! You're my family. You and Kate. Every fight takes me closer to having a normal life. But I won't have that if you keep making stupid decisions, Sirius! Kate knows that! Why don't you?"
"Kate fought with you!" Sirius protested. "Kate put herself in danger!'
Harry rolled his eyes and clenched his fists in his lap. "She's a bloody Auror, Sirius! Don't bother telling me that you used to be one before my parents died – I know that! Nobody took Polyjuice potion to look like Kate, Sirius. No Dark Wizard set her up to be killed as part of last night's battle. Kate was doing her job, Sirius. She knew the risk to herself for being there. Don't you think that just maybe she hexed you and left you behind in part because she realized that something could have happened to her? Despite what losing Kate would have done, I would have had you, Sirius! I would have had you!"
Sirius stared at Harry silently for a moment, finally overcome by all that he had heard and by the heartbroken and angry boy who sat before him. "Harry," he whispered. "I'm so sorry; so very sorry. I never meant to upset you like this. I was stupid. Please, forgive me."
Harry reached across to Sirius and grabbed his arm. "I do forgive you, Sirius. I love you, but you have got to stop thinking that you have to sacrifice yourself to save me. I don't want that. I want the one thing you can give me that I've never had – a family. You can't do that if you're dead, Sirius. I don't really think Mum and Dad meant for you to die for me, you know. I think they asked you to be my Godfather because they wanted you to stay alive and take care of me."
"It's hard for me, Harry. It's hard to know that you're out there without me. Just as it was hard to be on assignment for the Ministry while knowing James and Lily were in danger, all those years ago. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not particularly interested in dying, Harry. I love you and I want us to be a family, too. And I'm still here, despite my stupidity," he gave Harry a watery smile.
"Yes, Sirius, you're still here; I have you. But, I don't have Kate anymore, do I? You've broken up and she's gone," Harry said more quietly now, again using his sleeve to clean his face.
Sirius picked up a discarded napkin from the breakfast table and tossed it to Harry, taking a second one for himself and wiping his face roughly. "What do you mean, 'she's gone'?" he paused, holding the napkin over the table as the import of what Harry had said finally hit him.
"She's taken a transfer to the Irish Ministry, Sirius," Harry answered him and watched Sirius' fingers slacken in surprise, the napkin falling in a crumpled heap onto a plate. "She's leaving England. Today."
Sirius' eyes were wide and his mouth fell open as Harry told him Kate's news. "She's leaving?"
The sound of a throat clearing caused them to remember Dumbledore's presence in the Annex. While he had discreetly left the room when the conversation between them had become heated, he had remained within earshot.
"Albus?" Sirius acknowledged his presence.
"Kate spoke at length with Kingsley before coming back here last night. Perhaps Kingsley could shed some light on Kate's plans if you were curious about them," Dumbledore replied.
Sirius looked away from the Headmaster as he struggled with the variety of emotions coursing through him. He had never imagined that she would leave England. He hadn't given Kate's reaction to his eviction of her much thought at all. Typical.
"Sirius," Harry was speaking to him now. "You can probably still catch her. If Fudge is making an announcement about your innocence this morning, Kingsley will probably be there. She said she was seeing someone about finding a flat to stay in while she was there. You could talk to him and find out exactly where Kate's going before it's too late. Sirius, you love Kate and she loves you. You have to put this right!"
Sirius looked at the boy carefully. "Harry, I can't just 'go after her'. Even if I still loved her, it is more complicated than that. There's a betrayal of trust and a complete disregard for what I thought was important. No," he put his hand up when Harry moved to interrupt him. "I believe the phrase was, 'you don't get to talk; it's my turn', yeah?" Harry blushed and nodded. "You've given me a great deal to think about, Harry and, before coming here this morning, I probably wouldn't have even acknowledged that there was a point of view other than my own. I don't know that I can explain this to you adequately, Harry. Sometimes, two people can love each other very deeply, but when trust is betrayed or when one person feels that their wishes or beliefs weren't respected, love isn't enough. Do you understand?"
Harry looked at him and slowly shook his head. "No, I don't. The way I hear it, Mum thought Dad the biggest git on the planet, someone who didn't respect her wishes. But, he just kept loving her and he just kept trying and, eventually, she came around. Sirius, the fact that I'm even sitting here, talking to you, is proof of how strong love can be – of just how much hate and anger love can overcome. Sirius, please, please think about it before you let Kate leave for good."
Sirius rose and Harry followed suit. They embraced tightly and stood with their arms around each other for several long moments. Sirius was the first to break the hug and he stepped back, still holding Harry's shoulders lightly. "I promise that I will think about everything we've talked about, ok?"
Harry exhaled sharply and nodded.
"We're ok, right?" Sirius asked.
"Always," Harry gave his Godfather the first unabashed grin he'd seen in a very long time.
Sirius returned the smile. "I'll see you later, yes?"
"Yeah. I'm sure I'll be around."
With a nod to Dumbledore, Sirius left the Annex – by the door and walked through the corridors of the school toward the front door. He relished walking through the familiar hallways and hurried down the wide staircases until, finally, he stood outside on the grounds. Freedom. He inhaled sharply. Despite all that he had on his mind - and heart – Sirius knew that he would always remember this moment – and how freedom smelt of balsam needles and sunshine and damp, warm earth.
Sirius continued walking until he reached the large tree at the edge of the Black Lake. He searched the broad trunk until he found the carvings his heart knew existed there: "Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot, Prongs – Marauders 4-Ever", magically carved when they were fifteen years old. Fifteen. He wondered if he had ever really been fifteen; he certainly had little memory of it. The Dementors had stolen fifteen and so many other years before and after. It was only recently - and with Kate's help, that Sirius had gotten any of those precious memories back. At the thought of Kate, Sirius sat down heavily, leaning against the sturdy tree.
Kate. Harry had certainly let him have it without reservation. There was no doubt the boy loved her fiercely and, after this morning, Sirius knew that Harry's love for him was equally ferocious. There was something else he learned about his Godson this morning. While the boy was the spit and image of his father, he had inherited much more than Lily's green eyes; he had inherited her wisdom, as well. Not that James wasn't intelligent – far from it, but Lily had been possessed of a more keen insight into people than most. She had always been able to read them like the textbooks she lugged around with her. Her son certainly had inherited her delivery style, as well: blunt as a spoon and no worries about saying the wrong thing in anger. He meant what he said and said what he meant. That was his father, as well. Sirius sighed. Such a perfect blend of those two remarkable people. Was it any wonder that Sirius was so driven to protect this living, breathing reminder of people he'd loved so deeply? He thought of Harry's speech and his own in return. Sirius sighed again. He truly believed what he'd said about love sometimes not being enough when trust had been compromised. Trust had been a huge issue in his life – right from the beginning. Kate had thrown his trust out the window by her actions the night before. She'd betrayed everything he'd ever believed about their relationship – and their shared relationship with Harry. Sirius rose and began to walk along the shoreline. But had she really betrayed him? He stopped, brought up short by this traitorous thought. She hadn't lied to him; Kate had said she'd stop at nothing to stop him from doing something stupid. His attempt to get to Harry in the Department of Ministries could, he supposed, have been considered 'stupid'. Harry had certainly thought it was. He thought of his Godson's face as he's reacted to Sirius' retelling of the argument with Kate; dear Merlin, if the boy only knew the complete truth – that he'd actually thrown her belongings into her suitcase in the throes of blind rage and telling her to leave. Sirius suppressed a shudder. He couldn't imagine Harry's reaction being more vitriolic than he'd been this morning, but he was willing to bet it could be.
In his mind's eye, Sirius saw Kate's face as she'd taken the suitcase from his hands; as she'd squared her shoulders and walked away from Grimmauld Place; as she'd sat, silent, at the breakfast table this morning. He knew he'd hurt her beyond anything he'd ever done and that realization brought him up short; over the past several months, they had each inflicted more than a fair amount of pain – for reasons both real and imagined. That he could have topped any of that in a single incident made something inside him begin to hurt. But, she'd stopped him from getting to Harry, Sirius argued with himself, not willing to let go his anger. She'd physically prevented him from leaving Headquarters while she, herself, went into battle with their Godson.
'Don't you think that just maybe she hexed you and left you behind in part because she realized that something could have happened to her?' Harry's words crashed through his mind. On some level, Sirius had known that Kate's actions last night were not done vindictively or to further her own image with Harry. It would be in keeping with who she was if what Harry proposed was true. He knew her well enough to know that Kate never put herself before anyone else. Until now. Sirius rubbed his face. Kate was leaving England. She was leaving despite having Harry in her life. Sirius knew that she was leaving because of him. Because he'd thrown her out; and not just out of his house – he'd thrown her out of his life. And why? Because she'd kept her word to him; she'd believed so strongly that what he wanted to do was dangerous and wrong – for Sirius and for Harry. She'd repeatedly told him that she'd stop him, no matter what she had to do. And he'd brushed her off; told her not to think about it, that they'd face it when the time came – if it came. And all the while, he'd known in the back of his mind that he would do whatever he had to do to get to Harry. And Kate had known – and told him – that she would do whatever she had to do to protect both of them. And she had – as he'd known she would. And it had pissed him off to no end. And he'd taken his anger out on her – all of it – as he'd promised never to do again. He'd pushed her out of his life. Sirius thought of Remus' question from early this morning. Sirius had refused to give him a proper answer; his anger had stood in his way and he'd brushed him off. Suddenly, he knew what he had to do.
Kate stepped out of the small white cottage on a side street in magical Dublin. The estate agent had just received the listing and, after verifying Kate's credentials with Ministry officials, had agreed to rent it to the young Auror at a reasonable rate and with no lease. Kate had taken the first week to establish herself in her temporary new home, transferring funds to her new vault in Gringott's Dublin office and using those funds to furnish and otherwise modestly outfit her new home.
The Ministry offices were located four blocks from the cottage which suited Kate perfectly. A brisk walk in the morning allowed her to focus her thoughts on the day ahead of her rather than on matters that were better left unexplored. Her return trip each evening brought her past the local wizard pub and she would invariably stop in to pick up a sandwich or bowl of stew to take along home with her. She'd settled into a regular, if predictable routine in a very short time, which also helped Kate focus on making a new life for herself instead of looking backward at the old one.
Despite her best intentions, Kate had read the news of Sirius' exoneration and very public Ministry apology in the local papers. He was, indeed, a free man, however he appeared to be keeping a very low profile. Sirius refused to attend Fudge's grand announcement, as Kate had fully expected he would do. Since that time, there was no word of his activities which should have made it easier for Kate to look ahead rather than backward but, to her dismay, only made it harder to do so.
Kate had sent Harry an owl, letting him know where she was staying, but asking that he keep that information to himself. She said that she would begin contacting various friends once she'd gotten settled. Since that time, she and her Godson had communicated via Floo network and the set of mirrors that Dumbledore had re-keyed to Kate alone and had returned to Harry's possession. Hedwig had surprised Kate one evening by arriving with one of the two mirrors and, after admonishing Harry for taking such a risk, Kate found herself truly appreciating why Sirius had given them to the boy.
Upon her arrival at the Ministry office, Kate spent her day meeting with trainees and developing the final schedules for the practical aspect of their Auror training. It was hard work, particularly as some of the more macho recruits had some issues taking direction from a woman, but Kate persevered. It's certainly not the first time I've run into that, she thought to herself. The hours slipped by unnoticed and when Kate finally decided that she'd done enough for one day, she was shocked to see that the sun was beginning to set.
"I think I'll head home, Maeve," Kate said to her assistant, a bright young woman with medium brown hair and deep green eyes.
"Good," she said. "Ye've been tied to that desk all day today. It's well time for ye to be off!"
Kate smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow," she said as she picked up her purse and briefcase.
"Sure and ye won't," Maeve replied. "Tomorrow is Saturday!"
Kate smiled again and shook her head. "So it is, Maeve. I'll see you on Monday, then."
With a wave, Kate left her office, looking forward to the warmth of the late spring sunshine as she made her way home.
Perhaps she would contact Dumbledore and see if he would permit Harry to come visit for the weekend. She found it to be an adjustment having no one to come home to after the bustle of both the Annex and Grimmauld Place. Truth be told, she was lonely. Having Harry visit would be just the boost her spirits needed.
Kate was so involved in formulating her argument for Dumbledore that she walked right by her front door.
The voice brought her back to the present with startling speed. Turning around, Kate found herself staring at the last person she ever expected to see again.
Kate opened her mouth, but could make no sound. She simply stood there as they looked at each other. Finally, she forced her feet to move and she walked around Sirius and up the short flight of steps to her front door. Tears had already begun to fall and she did not want him to see her in this state.
"Katie," he said softly. "Katie, please don't make me go. Please let me talk to you."
He was standing directly behind her, on the first step. "Please, Katie. I know that I have no right to ask, but please just let me in for a moment. If you want me to go after I've said my piece, I will. I promise. Just…"
Kate unlocked the door and pushed it open. Stepping inside the dim hallway, she half turned and gestured for him to follow her. Sirius took the steps two at a time and, once inside, he closed the door behind him.
Kate showed him into the small sitting room. "Sit down," she invited, stunned at how normal she sounded given that she was feeling anything but normal.
Sirius shook his head. "No, I'm too nervous," he said, honestly and Kate couldn't help but smile.
The sight of it seemed to steady him a bit. "We have a very bright Godson, you know. He not very politely informed me that I was a huge git for 'breaking up' with you." Sirius said.
Kate's eyebrows rose. "He's got more than his fair share of Lily in him, apparently."
Sirius smiled at that. "Exactly what I thought." He paused, watching her face. "Katie, I was so wrong. I didn't think – no surprise there – I was just so pissed off at you. In my mind, you had stopped me from getting to Harry and that was something I never thought you would ever do. I felt that you'd betrayed me – us. Harry told me that I was dead wrong and said that you only did what you promised me you'd do if I insisted on being stupid. I…insisted on being stupid and you kept your promise." Sirius looked at Kate. "I don't want to be stupid anymore. I don't want to be without you anymore. Katie – please forgive me. I love you and I don't want to live without you. I was wrong. I can't believe I actually packed your things and gave you the gate. That was beyond wrong; beyond stupid…" he was beginning to babble, but was at a loss how to stop himself. Kate, however, was not.
She crossed the tiny room and put her finger over his lips. "You're babbling," she whispered. He nodded. "Can you just stop it for a minute?" Sirius shook his head slowly. "No? Do you need help?" Sirius' eyes crinkled at the corners and he nodded again. Kate smiled. "I suppose I could assist you, then." And she leaned forward, substituting her lips for her finger.
It was if a torch had been lit. Sirius wrapped his arms around her and returned her kiss hungrily. Kate's fingers wove through his dark hair and she tugged his bottom lip into her mouth and sucked on it delicately. Sirius moaned quietly and tightened his hold, molding her to him. Their tongues moved against each other as their kisses deepened. Sirius' hands moved down to cup her firm bottom through her robes and Kate responded with a whimper as she felt the evidence of his arousal pressed against her stomach.
"Sirius," she breathed, breaking the kiss and bringing her mouth around to his ear. She nibbled on the soft lobe, then circled the sensitive rim with the tip of her tongue, smiling at the shiver she provoked from him.
"Do you have a bed in this place or should we give this little settee a try?" Sirius murmured against her cheek and Kate could feel him smile.
"Bedroom," she whispered, nibbling on his ear again. "Come on." And she reluctantly stepped away from him, grabbing his hand and leading him down a short hallway.
They entered her room and immediately fell to each other again, buttons tearing from fabric, zippers hurriedly unzipped. In moments, they had divested each other of every thread that had covered them and Sirius lifted her gently and placed her on top of the bed.
"My love," he whispered, leaning down and kissing her tenderly. He moved down to her breasts, laving each rosy nipple in turn and loving the feel of her shifting beneath him.
"Miss me, did you?" he murmured, feeling his own excitement mounting as his tortured flesh moved rhythmically where it was trapped between them. 'Oh, Katie, I'm not going to last long, love; It's been far too long."
"I need you," Kate breathed, reaching between them and taking him in her hand. She began to stroke him, palming the sensitive head and dragging the moisture down the length of him. "I need you now, Sirius. Please."
Sirius gently removed her hand and kissed it, resting it against her chest. He brought his fingers to her center, eliciting a sharp cry as he probed her slick folds. She was so ready for him. Locating her swollen nub, Sirius gently rubbed the firm flesh, circling, circling then finally using his thumb to rub her more firmly. Kate arched her back and cried out as her orgasm pulsed through her and she shook fiercely. Sirius groaned and the sight before him and he took himself in hand and entered her in one stroke as her release raged on. Moving in swift thrusts, Sirius brought Kate's legs around his waist and then lowered his face to her neck. "I love you, I love you …. Ahhhh, Katie, yes!" Sirius murmured over and over into the sensitive flesh below her ear. "I love you," she whispered, feeling her body tighten once again. Sirius sped up his movements, desperately seeking his own release. "Come … on, darling," she whispered breathlessly. "Let go. Come … for … me…" and she broke for the second time, tightening around him until Sirius cried out, shaking and then he, too, peaked, emptying himself deep inside her and whispering her name over and over again.
They lay together in the aftermath of their lovemaking, kissing and touching each other tenderly, gently as they waited for their breathing and heart rates to return to some semblance of normal.
Sirius propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at her. "Come back to England?" he asked, his heart clearly reflected in his bright blue eyes.
Kate smiled and reached up to tuck a stray lock of hair behind one ear. "Help me pack?"
Sirius' eyes widened for a moment, then he gave her a broad smile. "Cheeky witch," he replied, relieved that she had truly forgiven him. "Yes, I'll help you pack…in a bit." And with that, he kissed her, putting everything he felt for her into that one moment; rejoicing when she responded in kind and knowing that they were no longer in pieces.
Despite what they had gone through, they'd survived and managed to take those fragments and form them into something whole – something stronger than before. Something that could never be fragmented again.
A/N: As this story comes to its end, I wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to read it. To those who have left reviews, please know that I have appreciated each and every one of them. As I said in the beginning, this is my first fan fiction and I am now officially addicted! I have decided that I can't quite bear to let Kate and Sirius go and so I will be writing a "prequel" to Fragments of Us that will encompass their Hogwarts years and the time leading up to James' and Lily's deaths. I'm not sure when the first chapter will be posted, but I couldn't stop writing now if I tried! I've also got a sequel to this story in mind, but that will happen later.
Although I appreciate everyone who's read this over the past five months, I must specifically thank a few people who were just so loyal to this story: SPekkala – Thank you for your insights and for always finding the time in your busy schedule to leave comments that always made me feel good about what I'd written. Only Black Lover – Thank YOU for all of your enthusiasm, your wonderful comments and for loving these characters as much as you do! Hyperbole123, thank YOU for your enthusiastic responses to all the excitement and drama that poor Sirius and Kate were put through in this story. You've been such a loyal reader and I appreciate that very much!
Finally, most heartfelt thanks to Acciosnuffles, who bravely previewed chapters, pulled me off the "panicky writer's ledge" and who always, always provided just the right insight and advice to help me take a story line where it had to go. L, I don't know how you stood so many "alternate ending" emails and PMs, but you were really a trouper! I am so grateful to have connected with you through this wonderful thing called 'fanfiction' writing. An enormously talented writer (you should all go and check out her stories!), she has been a wonderful support throughout this story, so… thanks, L! You're one in a million! M