Author's Notes: Yes, yes, I know. "It's too short!" "How can you leave it there?"

*sighs* Bear with me, please? This isn't actually very easy to write. And you can expect a longer wait on the next chapter. It's going to be hellish to put into words. On the plus side it'll probably be a decent length.

Chapter 20: That was really stupid

Sirius spared a moment to just look back and forth between Harry and the... spirit? Ghost? Then he made a decision.

He walked forward and trailed his fingers along the edge of the mist that was supposedly little Harry.

The reaction was instantaneous; the mist (spirit) glowed a little brighter and – there was no other way to put it – curled around his fingers in greeting.

A smile formed as Sirius' felt a brush of warmth and a sense of . . . giggling? Little Harry was happy to meet him. And when the spirit twirled around itself flashing with quick bursts of light Sirius actually found himself laughing.

Pure, Harry had said. Innocent, Sirius thought. And that was incredible.

He turned his gaze to back to the living – no, older Harry, and grinned widely.

"You were the kind of child who'd stick a fork into a socket just to find out what'd happen, weren't you?" Harry said, shaking his head. "That was really stupid, Padfoot. You had no idea what could happen."

Sirius blinked, not getting the reference at all, and then shrugged. "You'd never hurt me. Not intentionally. And, basically, you two are the same person."

Harry gapped at him for a moment before scowling. "He's not a person. He's a bloody puppy. All instinct and intelligence with no real mind. He's not selfaware."

Sirius swallowed down his initial angry retort, settling for narrowing his eyes in a glare. "And that pisses you off does it?"

"It complicates things!" Harry snapped, running a frustrated hand through his hair. "Damnit. I thought I'd find a spirit. A being that had suffered through years of wandering around. Something that would be tainted by its connection to Voldemort, a person who'd want it all to be done with. Not," he waved a desperate hand in Little Harry's direction, "not this."

It took Sirius a moment to pinpoint exactly what Harry was rambling about. "You're... having an ethical problem with your plan?"

Harry scowled again. "I may be crazy but I'm not a bloody monster."

"You aren't crazy," Sirius said, not entirely sure he believed himself.

Harry laughed, abruptly relaxed and calm again. "Oh come on, Padfoot. We both know I'm batshit insane."

Sirius opened his mouth to say something and then closed it again. What are you supposed to say to something like that?

Little Harry choose that moment to amble his way over to Harry, spinning a lazy circle around his waist.

Harry looked down and sighed. "Jeez. He's more soul than spirit... I should have realized. Should have thought. He wasn't even born yet... What am I supposed to do with this?"

"What do you mean?" Sirius asked. "'More soul than spirit?'"

"Exactly what I said," Harry explained with explaining anything at all.

"Which means?" Sirius prompted. "Aren't they the same thing?"

"Not at all," Harry said. "Spirits are an amalgamation of all the things that make you, you. Body, mind, soul. But also memories. And experiences. They're... an imprint I guess. A person's sense of self. The thing that makes me different from all those other Harry James Potters out there. The existence of spirits are why we can get ghosts. Souls are... bigger. More eternal. Less... distinct."

Sirius could practically feel his brain crack. "I... what?"

Harry snorted. "Don't worry about it too much, Padfoot. Basically, it means that little Harry here doesn't really have a personality. No sense of self. He wasn't... around long enough to develop one."

"So your plan?" Sirius asked tentatively.

"Is so much useless shit," Harry replied. "I can't merge with him if he can't agree to it."

Can't or won't? Sirius thought. He kept the question to himself.

"Argh!" Harry exclaimed in disgust, flopping to the ground and letting his back lean against the headstone. "What the hell do I do now?"

Sirius frowned thoughtfully, his gaze resting on Little Harry who'd taken to making long loops between the two of them.

He was beautiful. A soft glowing vapour that emitted a sense of warmth and welcome. Pure white light...

Wait, no. Not entirely.

Sirius frowned. "What is that?" he asked.

"What's what?" Harry asked distractedly.

"The black... goo," Sirius said, reaching forward unconsciously.

"Goo?" Harry snapped to attention. "Shit! Don't touch that!"

Too late.

It was like being hit with a Crucio. A spasm ran through his bloody and Sirius screamed.

He could dimly hear Harry calling his name, but then it was lost behind the wall of painpainpain.

Worse though, much, much worse than the pain, was the Dark thing that Sirius could now feel on the edges of his perception. There was... awareness... on the other side of that connection that made Sirius want to curl into a corner and hide.

He only vaguely felt himself being grabbed and jerked away.

"Sirius! Sirius! It's Harry. It's alright, it's okay!"

Sirius whimpered.

"Sirius!" Harry yelled. "Come on, Sirius! Focus! Breathe!"

Slowly, so slowly that it was agonizing, Sirius came back to himself.

He was... sitting on the ground? Harry was kneeling in front of him, his hands on his shoulders, while Little Harry spun in agitated circles just behind him.

"Fuck," he muttered when he could speak, his throat raw and scratchy.

Harry released a deep breath. "Oh thank God. Listen, Sirius, I need you to call the Order."

"The Order?" Sirius murmured, still confused, still lost in that horrible sense of dark other.

"Please, Sirius! I don't have time to explain! We're about to have company. You need to call the Order." With that Harry dragged Sirius to his feet, pulled out his wand, and tapped Sirius on the head.

Sirius shivered slightly as the familiar feeling of cracked eggs travelled along his spine. Why did Harry make me invisible? Sirius asked himself, still not quite grasping the situation.

A series of loud pops had Harry twirling around, clenching his wand tightly.

"Interesting," a new voice said. "You must be Harry Potter."

Shit! Sirius mind screamed at him.

It was Voldemort.