A/N: Thanks for all your lovely reviews. They are the chocolate for my breakfast, the coffee in my insomniac nights and the ink to my quill... ;-)
Chapter 5 – You Can Trust Me
When Harry reached Mrs Figg's house he was totally winded. He had run the whole way from the park as if he was chased by Dudley and his cronies. Leaning against the gate to the backyard, Harry tried to catch his breath. When he sidled into the house through the back door a moment later he was relieved to be greeted by Mrs Figg's snores. She seemed to have fallen asleep on the couch again after her teatime sherry.
Stealthily Harry crept past her and went upstairs into the bathroom. Looking through her medicine cupboard, he frowned at all the strange bottles and cans with weird looking names. But he finally found what he was looking for. Bandages and something that looked like iodine. Although he had just turned eight, Harry knew much more about first aid than you would have thought looking at him. Since he received cuts and bruises on a regular basis, but had nobody who would actually take care of them, Harry had become quite good at fending for himself. So he pushed as many bandages and stuff as he could find down the front of his overly large shirt and tip-toed back down, careful not to wake Mrs Figg.
On his way back out he saw the plate with the biscuits on the kitchen counter and, fighting his guilty conscience, Harry took them and crammed as many of them into the pockets of his trousers as he could fit in.
All the baggage in his clothes was hindering and slowing him down a little when Harry made his way back to the park. And while Harry tried to make it back as fast as he could, dozens of thoughts were running through his head. Who was the strange man and what had he been doing in the park? Was he real? Strange things seemed to happen more often around Harry than he was comfortable with, but then again he might just have imagined the whole thing. Or maybe he hadn't, but the man might not even be there anymore when he came back. The last thought made Harry surprisingly sad. He didn't even know who the man was. He could be dangerous. But then maybe he wasn't and maybe, just maybe, he would want to be his friend. Maybe the man was jinxed and had to be a dog half of the time. That couldn't be easy. He might need a friend...
When Harry arrived back behind the shack and the man was still lying there as he had left him, he was glad. Then he became worried. The man hadn't moved at all. He couldn't be dead, could he? Harry slowly walked towards him and kneeled down at his side. The man didn't so much as twitch. Hesitantly Harry reached out and carefully laid a hand on his chest.
With a shuddering gasp the man drew a deep breath and opened his eyes, looking directly at Harry. Startled, Harry quickly drew back his hand and stumbled backwards, landing on his bottom. He looked at the man uncertainly and a little spooked. Pale blue eyes stared back at him with a haunted and almost wild expression.
Harry tried to scramble further back, but a raspy voice stopped him.
''No! Don't be afraid... I ... I won't hurt you. I promise!''
Harry stilled, but kept watching the strange man suspiciously, as he pulled himself a little more upright with some difficulty so he could lean against the trunk of the oak.
''I would never hurt you Harry,'' the man said, looking at Harry insistently.
Harry, though obviously still scared, seemed to contemplate that. ''You hurt Marcus,'' he said finally, sounding a little unsure.
''I was afraid he would hurt you.''
''He probably would have... but he didn't.'' Harry paused. ''He hurt you instead,'' he said with a shy gesture at the blood on the man's shoulder.
The man pulled his shirt away from the wound and grimaced. ''Yeah... got me good, the little fu-... fellow.'
''Does it hurt?'' Harry asked.
The man nodded, watching him steadily and with interest, taking deep and shuddering breaths. He just sat there as he seemed to wait for Harry to make his next move.
Sirius sat with his back against the tree, trying to not let his agitation show. Or the rather excruciating pain he was in for that matter. Right there, in the grass in front of him, not six feet away, sat his godson, carefully scrutinizing him. He obviously wasn't sure yet if he could believe in Sirius' honourable intentions. And he was a long way from trusting him, although something gave Sirius the impression that he wanted to, for whatever reason.
''I brought bandages,'' Harry finally said, after they had been silently watching each other for some time. He seemed to have come to the conclusion that Sirius at least held no immediate threat. ''I brought biscuits, too.''
He got up on his knees and pulled out some slightly crumbled chocolate chip cookies. He placed them on the grass at Sirius' feet like a timid offering, and sat back on his haunches.
Sirius tried to smile at him although, judging by the look on Harry's face, he might still need to practise that a little. After seven years in Azkaban it seemed his facial muscles couldn't quite remember how to do it. So he nodded at him instead and said, still with some croak, "Thanks."
When the man didn't reach for the food, Harry again felt unsure. Maybe he didn't like biscuits. Maybe he should have brought something else. But he had not dared to go through Mrs Figg's cabinets, and he had tried to get back as fast as he could.
''Maybe better patch me up first.''
The rough voice of the man brought Harry back out of his musing. It always made him jump a little, it was so gruff. Hastily Harry pulled out the bandages from under his shirt. With a bunch of compresses, bandages and gauze in his arms he stood in front of the strange man, unsure if it would be safe to approach any further.
The man, seemingly oblivious to his predicament, had started to lift up his shirt. It seemed to cause him a lot of pain, but in the end revealed the pale skin of his gaunt chest and stomach, and the seeping red gash along his left shoulder. With a trembling sigh and his eyes closed he fell back against the trunk.
With great difficulty Sirius had managed to pull off his shirt so that he could get a first good look at his injury. The cut was not too deep but quite long, running from the pit of his arm up to his collarbone. The bone had obviously stopped the blade, which was just his luck, because otherwise the knife would have probably cut into his neck.
He leaned back against the trunk, closing his eyes for a moment against the pain that was stabbing in his shoulder. When he opened his eyes again he saw Harry still standing two yards away, looking at him nervously.
''You afraid of me?'' Sirius asked.
Harry shook his head. But it was obvious that the boy was indeed scared of him. And who could blame him? Sirius hadn't had any opportunity to look in a mirror for a long while, nor did he feel especially inclined to do so, but he could guess that he didn't look all that trustworthy.
He didn't know how to reassure the boy and didn't want to push him, fearing intimidating him further, so he just watched him silently and hoped that Harry would overcome his fear in his own time. Hopefully before he bled to death. Sirius felt horribly inept in the way he was handling the situation, but it had been a while since he had been in personal contact with anyone, never mind having a conversation.
Harry made a step forward and then another one, directing his look to Sirius shoulder rather than his face. Slowly he came closer, stopping every so often, all the time ready to bolt if Sirius suddenly should turn out to be a threat after all. He reminded Sirius of a shy little fawn, and of course that's exactly what he was. A little Prongs, Sirius thought fondly.
When Harry came to a stop beside him and kneeled down with his baggage, Sirius tried to be as calm and motionless as he could.
''I-I have t-to clean th-the wound,'' Harry whispered and Sirius suddenly understood how afraid he really was. It saddened him a little, but it also made him admire his godson's courage, willing to help a stranger in the face of that fear.
With trembling hands Harry pulled out a little brown bottle, and put some of the red fluid on a cotton patch while Sirius watched him curiously. This had to be Muggle medicine, Sirius had never seen something like it before. When Harry tentatively reached out and started to swab at the cut, Sirius gasped from the sting.
''I-I'm sorry!'' Harry stammered, pulling his hand back as if he'd been burned. ''Sorry. Sorry. I-I'm not good at th-this.''
''No,'' Sirius coughed, catching hold of Harry's arm.
Harry froze, looking up at Sirius, his eyes wide open in fear.
''You're doing fine,'' he mumbled, loosening his grip on Harry. ''I was just startled.''
Harry stared at the man like a dear caught in the headlight. Fear ripped through him, and for a moment he saw his uncle in front of him, staring down at him, his face a mask of purple rage. He flinched, turning his head away and pressing his eyes closed, his body anticipating the blow.
But it didn't come. Instead the man released his arm. Slowly, Harry turned his head back and opened his eyes. Pale blue eyes looked at him from a gaunt and dirty face. They were haunted, but they held a spark that mesmerized him and they were... pleading.
He was not sure what it was, but something deep inside him told him, that he could trust this stranger. Something deep inside him drew him to these eyes and whispered...
...this I promise.
Still staring at the stranger, Harry took a deep, slightly shuddering breath, and started to tend to the wound again.
''Thank you,'' Sirius gasped and tried another smile, that actually turned out a little better then the first one.
Now that his wound was bandaged and he was getting his breath back, Sirius leaned forward, reaching for the biscuits. He took one and bit into it, then took another, holding it out to Harry.
Harry timidly took it and sat down a little closer to Sirius than before with his legs crossed. He was studying the grass in front of him with great interest, but every so often cast a shy glance at Sirius. Biting his lip, he seemed to ponder about something.
''What is it?'' Sirius finally asked when it became clear that Harry wasn't going to speak up. ''What do you want to know?''
Harry was not sure if he could ask what was bothering him. What if he had imagined it? What if the man thought he was a stupid freak like his aunt and uncle? Or what if it was a secret and he was angry that he had seen?
''Just ask. If I can, I will answer,'' the man said.
''You were a dog,'' Harry burst out all of a sudden. ''And then you turned into a man. How did you do that?''
Sirius looked at his godson, surprised. So Harry had seen him transform, had he? Did he know about the world into which he was born? Did he know who he was? That he was a wizard? Sirius wasn't so sure...
''Do you believe in magic?'' he asked.
A/N: So. Harry and Sirius have finally met. I hope I haven't confused you with the changing perspective. I really wanted to get into the head of both of them there since for me this is a key scene in showing their inner turmoil and struggles.
Oh, and about Harry's medical aid? I know, that is probably not the best way to attend to a knife wound, but let's bear in mind, that Harry's eight, that he doesn't have anything else and he couldn't possibly start sewing Sirius up. Sirius will just have to bite his teeth and walk a way with a manly scar ;-)