A/N Okay all! Last chapter before I start the sequel. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for all the reviews! You guys keep me going!
Happy happy birthday to curlybean! You and my husband share the same birthday! Hope it was great!
The smell of mold and rot infiltrated his nasal cavity and made his stomach retch. He struggled to put up a shield, but was failing utterly. Trapped inside the nightmare, he could only stand by helplessly and watch the horrific scene unfold in front of him.
A small figure was bent down in front of him on one knee, his head dropped to the floor. Harry felt an uncalled for rage towards the cowering man. He heard the gravelly menacing voice sneering somewhere near him.
"You did well tonight, leaving The Mark," the voice hissed. Without raising his head, the figure bowed even further, although Harry didn't know how that was possible.
"However," the voice raged dangerously, "you cost us the wand that Ms. Jorkins so obligingly provided."
The figure trembled slightly. "I'm sorry, master. I was outnumbered. It was all I could to do escape," he begged.
The voice hissed. "I don't want to hear excuses. You failed! Crucio!"
The figure on the floor writhed in agony and the last thing Harry remembered was seeing stars from the pain as he cried out.
In his chair next to Harry's bed, Sirius was awoken with a jolt by the sound of his godson's scream. Jumping quickly to the boy's side, he grabbed Harry by the shoulders and shook him awake.
"Harry! Harry, come on. Wake up for me," he commanded. Slowly, Harry's eyes drifted open and he saw the fear in the silvery gray hovering above him.
Harry was panting heavily and his head felt as if it had been split into two. Moaning softly, he wrapped his arms around his waist, trying to keep himself from sicking up. His godfather pulled him into an embrace, gently rocking him.
"Shhh, there now," Sirius crooned soothingly. "You're okay."
Harry's breathing hitched and shuddered as he tried to compose himself. He clung tightly to the back of Sirius' shirt, blinking back the last images of the night terror. With his face pressed firmly into his godfather's shoulder, he forced himself to calm down. Feeling a bit foolish after a minute, he took a deep breath and pulled away.
"I'm alright now, Sirius. Sorry for being such a big baby," he murmured, red faced with embarrassment.
"Don't apologize, Harry." Sirius cupped his godson's face gently, a look of deep worry etched on his tired face. "Was it the same dream?" he asked, concerned.
Harry shook his head slightly. "I'm not sure. I don't think so. Sort of, maybe." Now that he was waking up, the images were becoming less clear.
Sirius waited a moment and then nodded his head. "Okay." He stood up and went into the bathroom. When he returned, he had a wet cloth and a glass of water. Holding the glass out, he waited for Harry to take it. The shivering boy took a few small sips and sat quietly as his godfather gently wiped the sweat and grime from his face. Harry kept the glass clenched in his hands, relaxing from the soft ministrations of his godfather's attention.
"Are you able to go back to sleep?" Sirius asked softly.
Harry nodded. He could feel the tension falling away from him now and the pounding in his head was lessening. Sirius gave him a small smile and moved to take the glass from his grip. Harry slid back down on the bed and turned onto his side. His godfather bent over and pulled the blanket back up to his shoulders and pushed the stray hair from his forehead.
"I'll stay right here," he promised as he watched Harry's eyelids droop. He heard the boy whisper a quiet thank you before drifting back to sleep.
When Harry woke up, he could tell by the light outside that it was at least late morning, if not early afternoon. He barely remembered Sirius leaving his room after the sun had come up, giving him a quick kiss on the top of his head before leaving, presumably, for his own room.
Groaning, he rolled over onto his side and felt the soreness of his muscles shoot through him. Trying to sleep in Sirius' chair while waiting for him to come home had not been such a smart idea. He felt grungy and the lingering smell of smoke was clinging to his pajamas. He forced himself out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom for a hot shower.
As the steaming water pounded against his skin, he leaned his forehead against the cool tile wall. His head was still aching horribly from the nightmare. The intensity of the latest one was much stronger than the one he had had last week. He knew that Sirius and Snape would be upset when he told them. His Occlumency lessons were supposed to alleviate the strain, not increase it.
Twenty minutes later, scrubbed and wearing clean clothes, he plodded down the stairs and caught the sound of mulitple voices coming from the dining room. He walked gingerly into the room and saw Sirius and Hermione already at the table with the entire Weasley family minus Arthur and Percy. It seemed that everyone was indulging in a late brunch. Amid the calls of several greetings, he slipped into his chair next to Sirius, who was looking at him worriedly.
"Feeling any better, Harry?" he asked, his forehead wrinkled in concern. Harry nodded. He didn't want to upset his godfather any further. Sirius gave him a look that implied that he wasn't entirely convinced, but he didn't say anything as he poured Harry a glass of pumpkin juice.
Bicky placed a plate of eggs, sausage and toast in front of him and he nibbled at a bit of the toast under his godfather's watchful eye. He wasn't hungry, but Sirius would be all over him if he didn't pretend to eat something. He listened half heartedly as Bill and Remus discussed the half dozen death eaters that had been rounded up. Quietly, Ron pushed over a copy of the morning Prophet for Harry to see.
The first thing that caught his attention was the black and white moving photo of a skull and serpent in the night sky. Sirius saw him look quizzically at it.
"It's the Dark Mark, Harry. It's Voldemort's mark," he informed the boy. Harry's face shot up and his heart started to race at the implication. Before he had a chance to say anything, they heard a pop and Arthur Weasley appeared at the doorway. He looked hurried and haggard.
"It's official. Ollivander just confirmed that the wand they found that conjured the Mark was Bertha Jorkins'," he informed them.
Harry remembered the name from his nightmare. He shot a desperate look at Sirius who caught it immediately. Sirius started to say something, but thought better of it.
"Harry, could I see you in the study, please?" he asked as he stood. Harry nodded jerkily and stood to follow his godfather out of the room.
Once inside the study, Sirius cast a silencing charm around the room and led Harry over to the wingback chairs, gently pushing him down into one.
"What's the matter, little one? What has you so spooked?" he asked, nervous tension clear in his voice.
Harry looked up at his godfather, his eyes wide, his face ghost white. For the first time, he really believed that his nightmares were something other than garden variety nightmares. There was just too much coincidence.
"Sirius, in my dream last night, I heard that name, Jorkins. The voice, it mentioned her name and how her wand was taken from her. It mentioned the mark too and then...," he paused.
Sirius reached over and put a comforting arm on Harry's shoulder. "And then what, Harry?" he asked, trying to keep his voice calm and failing.
"And then, he said 'crucio' and the other man that was there started to scream in pain. The voice said that he had failed when he left the wand."
Harry was trembling now from the realization that his so called dreams were actual events. He knew what he was seeing. The voice could only belong to Voldemort. Sirius took a deep breath and leaned over to put his arms around the boy.
"I don't want you to worry about this, Harry. I'm going to talk to Albus. We'll figure it out. I promise."
He tried to comfort his godson, but Harry wasn't fooled. Although Harry had all the confidence in the world in his godfather and headmaster, he didn't know what they could possibly do to keep Voldemort out of his head.
Later that afternoon, Harry bid Ron and Hermione farewell in the parlor. They were going to floo back to the Burrow. He had invited both of them to stay, but Molly had told the two beforehand to let Harry enjoy the last week of his summer holiday with his godfather by himself. They would have the whole year in school after all to spend time with Harry.
Sirius watched his godson as he sadly said goodbye to his friends. It had been a rough day so far. He cleared his throat and caught Harry's attention. Harry turned around to look at him and saw that Sirius was holding his Firebolt.
"I thought, since you are not grounded anymore, that you might like to go flying for a while," he said cheerfully with a big grin on his face as he held out the broom. Harry's face brightened like the sun as he sprinted across the room and grabbed his most precious possession like a lifeline.
"Just for a couple of hours, mind you. I still want you back in the house by six o'clock," Sirius reminded him as he watched his godson dash for the door. Sirius had an alternate reason to get Harry out of the house. He desperately needed to speak to Remus.
Harry had only been flying for twenty minutes when he decided that it had gotten fairly chilly and he needed a jumper. He hurried back into the house and was about to go upstairs when he heard Remus' voice coming from the study. He was going to go in and say hello when he realized that Sirius and Remus were having a discussion about him.
Now, Harry was not in the habit of disrespecting his godfather's privacy, but he had the distinct feeling that the conversation was one that he would not otherwise be privy to. Hiding out of sight around the side of the door, he leaned in closely trying to hear what the men were saying.
"You have to tell him, Sirius. He'll be going back to school in just a few days. Don't let him hear about it after he's left home," Remus was saying in a scolding tone.
"I know I do, Moony. I just don't know if I'm going to do it or not anymore. You should have seen him last night. He was petrified that I wasn't coming back after we went to help. What is he going to say when I tell him that I'm considering taking up Amelia's invitation to have my auror job back?" Sirius said.
Outside the study, Harry drew a deep quick breath.
Auror? Oh no, Sirius. Please no!
Harry didn't know what he would do if Sirius went back to being an auror. It was one of the most dangerous jobs in the wizarding world. He just got his godfather back! What would he do if he lost him again?
"You can't do this, Sirius. You know the high risks involved. How can you even consider this, knowing how it will affect Harry? Think about him." Remus' tone was irritated.
"I am thinking about him, Remus!" Sirius shouted. "I would only do this for him. Every one of those bastards that I catch is one less that he may have to fight someday!"
"Calm down, old friend. I'm not trying to say that you don't have the best of intentions. I'm just trying to point out that Harry's immediate needs might be more pressing than his future ones. He's still just a boy, Sirius. He needs a father, not just a protector."
In the hallway, Harry could hear the pleading tone in Remus' calm voice. As much as he didn't want to admit it, Remus was right. Harry was already thinking of Sirius as his father and the idea of him getting killed to protect Harry like his real father had was petrifying the boy. Sirius was disturbingly quiet as Remus continued to persuade him.
"Have you talked to Albus again? What does he think?" he asked. Harry could hear his godfather's snort.
"What do you think he said? You know what his position is on the matter." Sirius' voice was annoyed and Harry didn't know what to make of that.
"Harry will be safe at school, Padfoot."
"Safe!" Sirius roared. "Safe? Are we talking about the same boy that has managed to encounter more trouble in the past three years than we managed in seven? Safe, Remus? Every time he turns around another servant of Voldemort is trying to kill him. I'm telling you, Moony. I'm still considering keeping him home and schooling him here."
Harry gulped. Sirius wouldn't really do that, would he? Harry wanted to go back to school. He needed to go back to school. Hogwarts was his first home. He loved it there. Surely Sirius wouldn't keep him from his friends? He was about to go bursting into the study when he gave the matter a second thought. He realized that he had not really thought about what would happen when he went back to school this year. Sure, he would be going back to his friends and lessons, but this year, he would be leaving his godfather behind. All of a sudden, the idea was not as appealing as it once might have been.
"You can't do that to him, Sirius, and you know it. Harry would be devastated," Remus reasoned. "No matter how much you might miss him, you have to let him go back."
"I know, Remus. I just worry about him so," Sirius replied tiredly.
Harry exhaled a breath he didn't know he was holding. Very quietly, he moved away from the door and climbed the stairs to his room.
"Are you okay, Harry?" Sirius asked in a concerned voice. They had been at the dinner table for almost fifteen minutes and Harry had not said a word. Looking down at the boy's plate, Sirius noticed that he wasn't eating anything either. His prettily piped shepard's pie was a clumpy messy pile now, but it still seemed to be all there.
Harry nodded, but kept his eyes down to the table. Ever since he had overheard the conversation between Sirius and Remus, he had been debating whether or not to bring the topic up with his godfather. He wasn't sure if Sirius would be mad that Harry had eavesdropped but he was sure that his godfather would punish him if he lied about it. Plucking up his courage, he took a deep breath.
"Sirius?" he whispered.
"Yes?" Sirius looked down at him worriedly at the tone.
"I heard you and Remus talking today," he admitted shamefully. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I just heard Remus' voice and I wanted to say hello, but when I went to go in, I sort of realized that you didn't want to be disturbed." Harry looked up at his godfather with a scared look and saw a frown on Sirius' face. A knot formed in his throat. "I'm really sorry. Are you mad?"
Sirius stared at him for a moment. Harry lowered his eyes and waited for the rebuke that was surely coming his way.
"No. I'm not mad," the older man said finally. "I should have spoken to you about this sooner anyway. So, how much did you hear?"
Harry swallowed audibly. "I heard about your job offer to join the aurors again," he admitted. "And..and about you thinking about taking me out of school," he said sadly. He waited a moment when he heard his godfather let out a whoosh of air. "Are you going to keep me home this year?" he asked without raising his eyes, afraid of the answer.
Sirius stared at the sad boy for a good minute before summoning up the courage to answer him.
"No, I'm not. As a matter of fact, I was thinking about taking you to Diagon Alley tomorrow. We haven't bought your things yet."
Harry closed his eyes in relief. Although, a part of him was a little sad that he would have to be leaving his godfather. It hurt more than he imagined that it could. Neither Ron nor Hermione had ever seemed to act homesick at school. Maybe it was because they had always had their parents and, when the time came, they were ready to leave the nest. Harry was brought out of his thoughts by his godfather's deep voice.
"As for the auror position, I haven't made up my mind yet. There are a lot of reasons why I should. What happened at the Cup is disturbing to say the least. If it is a sign that dark activity is on the rise again, the Ministry will need all the aurors it can get."
What Sirius didn't say was that it was the nightmares that his godson was having that were really convincing him. He was as sure as he could be that they were not innocent night terrors. For whatever reason, Harry was witnessing, first hand, Voldemort's slow return and the idea of that petrified the godfather.
Harry didn't say anything. His chest hurt from thinking that Sirius would be putting himself at risk for Harry's benefit. He didn't know how to tell his godfather without sounding childish and needy that he was scared of losing him. Scared of being by himself again. If Sirius was brave enough to face the darkness for him, Harry knew he should be brave enough to not try and stop him, regardless of how painful it was. He couldn't do it though.
"Please," he said in a small voice. "Please don't go." His shoulders started to tremble and he averted his face so Sirius wouldn't see it flush red. Harry could already feel the heat in his cheeks and neck. "I'll stay home with you if you want me to, but please don't go."
Sirius' heart was breaking at the sight of the boy shaking in front of him. Remus was right. He had no right to scare Harry like this. Harry needed security more than second hand protection. He leaned over and took the small frame into his embrace and tried to soothe the worried boy.
"Okay, little one. Okay. I won't do it, if it really upsets you," he whispered as he smoothed his fingers through the thick black mop. He could feel Harry relax a little bit and knew that his concession was worth it. He just didn't know what to do next. He would have to find some way to help the cause without rejoining the Ministry. Otherwise, he knew that he would slowly go crazy in the big manor house.
For the first time, Harry relished the idea of going to Diagon Alley like any other Hogwarts student. Today, he got to go pick up his school things with a parent of his own. Little did he know just how excited Sirius was as well.
Right after finishing breakfast, Sirius had fastened Harry's school cape around his godson's neck proudly and accompanied him via floo to The Leaky Cauldron. It was a day he had been waiting for, for years.
Tom, the proprietor, had greeted them both enthusiastically. Of course everyone knew who they were, but Tom had known Sirius as a young boy and had never believed him guilty of what they imprisoned him for. He had watched James and Sirius fool around together too many times to think that one could ever betray the other. To see justice finally done, filled the old man with great warmth.
Their first stop was Gringotts. Harry panicked for a moment as he realized he didn't know whether or not Sirius had his vault key.
"I do, as a matter of fact," his godfather had informed him, amused. "As your legal guardian, it was put into my care. However, we won't need it today."
Harry looked at the man as if he had sprouted an extra head.
"Well, then how am I to pay for my school things? I don't have that much gold from my allowance," he stated in a very confused manner. Sirius threw his head back and let out a loud barking laugh.
"Harry, do you honestly think that I won't provide for you? I'll take care of everything. James would want you to have that money in your vault to take care of your children some day." He grinned broadly as he looked down at the boy's sheepish face. Leaning down he whispered conspiratorially in Harry's ear. "Don't worry. Haven't you heard? I'm loaded!"
Harry laughed in spite of himself. Of course he knew that Sirius had plenty of money. It was still sometimes strange getting used to the idea that he wouldn't have to take care of himself anymore. But even he was surprised, when the rickety cart pulled up in front of Sirius' vault, to see what lay inside.
The fortune of the head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black put even the impressively large Potter fortune to shame. The vast piles of gold in the vault were stacked higher than Harry thought was possible. There were also large piles of sparkling jewels and other costly trinkets. However, even as Sirius filled a few money bags, the look on his face showed his disgust.
"Blood money," he said with a sneer. "The Blacks bribed and cheated their way to the top." He glanced at Harry and smirked, giving the boy a wink. "My ancestors must be rolling in their graves right now. To know that, one day, their precious gold will be inherited by the son of a Muggleborn witch! Gives me a little boost of happiness every time I think about it."
Harry smiled, but then realized that he had never discussed the knowledge that he was Sirius' heir with his godfather. It made him a little uncomfortable at times to think that he might displace a child that his godfather might someday have of his own.
He looked up at Sirius tentatively and saw the smile fall from the man's face.
"What?" Sirius asked, worriedly. Harry cleared his throat.
"Why did you do it, Sirius?" he asked in a small voice.
Sirius put down his money bags and walked slowly over to the boy, crouching down next to him.
Harry twisted uncomfortably. This was not the place he planned on having this discussion.
"Make me your heir. Remus explained it to me. Why would you do that for me? What if you have a son of your own someday?"
Sirius exhaled sharply and took the boy firmly by the waist. He looked up into the anxious green eyes and felt his chest go cold at the idea that the boy should still feel so unimportant to him.
"You are my son, Harry," he insisted in a thick voice. "In every way that matters. Please don't think that I am trying to replace James in your heart. I would never want to do that. But you need to understand just how much I love you. You couldn't be more my child than if you shared my blood."
Harry's breath caught and he angrily brushed away the tears that threatened to burst forth. It seemed like just a few words from his godfather could make him cry like an infant and he was embarrassed by the flood of emotion he always felt when the man proclaimed his affection for him. He still had trouble accepting the embarrassing riches of love that his godfather easily gave like it was chocolate frogs. Unable to stem the tide, he leaned down and threw his arms around Sirius' neck, gripping him so tightly it almost cut off the man's air supply.
"I love you, too," he muttered hoarsely.
In the middle of a pile of the treasure of pure bloods, the blood traitor and his half blood godson clung to each other for a few precious minutes in silence, only coming to their senses by the irate prodding of the time consumed goblin attending their withdrawal.
After Gringotts, they made their way to Flourish and Blotts for Harry's textbooks, parchment, quills and ink. They stopped in at Eyelops for treats for Hegwig and Xerxes where Sirius purchased a fidgety little bugger begging for an owner. Having remembered that Ron lamented his owless state during their little heart to heart talk, he thought it would make an excellent present for the boy.
Sirius made Harry eat a decent lunch before letting him get an enormous sundae at Florean Fortescue's. Harry told him how Florean gave him free sundaes every half hour the previous year when he had been stuck there for weeks before term began. Of course, then he had to explain why he had left Privet Drive early. Sirius had already known that Harry had left early. After all, it was the first night that he had seen his godson in twelve years. He just had not heard the story. When Harry told him about blowing up Marge Dursley, Sirius practically hurt something keeping a straight face during the tale and he had to pinch his own leg sharply to keep from bursting out laughing while he gently scolded his godson on the dangers of uncontrolled magic. After all, he needed to sound like a responsible parent, even when he personally thought it had been a job well done on Harry's part.
Sirius never thought he would be able to get his godson out of Quality Quidditch Supplies, although he was pleased to see that Harry still laid claim to owning the best broom on the market. After seeing the pleading look in the boy's eyes, he was persuaded to purchase a few 'necessities' that apparently Harry couldn't live without before dragging him, almost by the hand, over to Madame Malkins. Harry desperately needed some new robes as well as the dress robes required for all fourth year students.
As luck would have it, they ran into Lucius and Draco Malfoy coming out as they were going in. The older blond man sneering as if observing a lower form of life.
"Well, well. What do we have here? A convict and his half blood whelp," he drawled, his voice thick with condescension.
Harry took immediate umbrage and was about to say something really nasty when Sirius put his hand up to stop him. Turning to his godfather in consternation, Harry was surprised to see a genuine grin on the man's face as he spoke.
"Hello, Lucius. Still walking the streets, I see. Well, no matter. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before that gets rectified," he said silkily, enjoying the fleeting look of comprehension on the other man's face before it returned to its mask of indifference.
"I have no idea what you are talking about, Black," he spit out. "Although, I'm sure you can enlighten me regarding the finer points of our penal system.
Sirius kept the smile on his face, his look of amusement never faltering.
"I'd watch my tone, if I were you, Lucius. You wouldn't want to act disrespectfully towards the head of your dear wife's family. You, with your firm beliefs in our class system, surely understand what it would mean if you did."
At the implied threat, Lucius' face became a picture of rage and his unnaturally pale skin burned a deep red.
"As if I, or any member of my family, would ever acknowledge you as the head of the Black family," he growled. Sirius merely chuckled.
"Oh, dear cousin. It's not up to you to decide whether or not I'm the rightful head. The Ministry has already made that proclamation, don't forget. You would be wise to remember that, although the Malfoy family has its advantages, it was your marriage to a Black that gave you your position of influence. Mind your tongue, or I will have to start insisting that Narcissa and little Draco begin to pay me the respects due to me as the Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black."
Lucius looked as if he had swallowed poison. Without another word, he prodded Draco sharply in the back and swept the both of them from the store. Sirius threw his head back and laughed, looking as if he had not had such a good time in years. Finally, he noticed the look of confusion on Harry's face.
"What?" he asked, his eyes twinkling.
"You're related to the Malfoys?" Harry asked, disbelieving.
"Yes. Narcissa is my cousin. She was born a Black. All pure blood families are related somehow," he explained. "I'm related to Arthur and Molly too. And if you look back far enough, you and I are related through the Potter line. It's the way it has always been with pure bloods."
Harry smiled at the idea that he and Sirius were actually related. It only made the feeling of family between them stronger. In an unusually light mood, he allowed himself to be tugged inside and waited patiently through a painfully long fitting. He and Sirius were family, and that was all that mattered.
The morning of September 1st found Harry wandering through the rooms at Celestial Court. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was actually going to be homesick this year. Sirius had already assured him that he would be coming home for Christmas, the first time since he started school that he would be leaving for the holidays like all the other students. It hadn't stopped him from sticking to his godfather like glue all week.
He didn't know how to say goodbye.
Like a good father would, Sirius had helped him pack his trunk and it, along with Hedwig in her cage, were waiting in the parlor. Harry was taking his leave of the house elves when Sirius called him, telling him that they were going to be late if he didn't hurry up.
Harry took one last look around his home and then sprinted into the parlor to take his godfather's outstretched hand. He was missing it already.
They arrived at King's Cross, the station abuzz with activity as usual. Moving swiftly inside to get away from the downpour of rain that was drenching everything in sight, they made their way as smoothly as they could through the barrier and onto Platform 9 3/4. Harry immediately spotted Hermione and the Weasleys. Molly charged over and engulfed him into one of her bear hugs as Sirius looked on and chuckled. Together, they managed to load trunks and familiars onto the scarlet train as the precious minutes ticked by. Sensing that Harry needed a moment with Sirius, Ron and Hermione said their goodbyes and promised to find a carriage where Harry could join them.
Sirius leaned over and took Harry by the shoulders. He could see that the boy was overwrought with emotion.
"It's time to go. You have everything you need?"
Harry nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Sirius reached into his pocket and pulled out a money pouch.
"Here's a little extra spending gold. Buy yourself and your friends some treats from the trolley, okay?"
Harry took the little pouch and tried to swallow past the lump in his throat. He didn't know how he was going to do this. Sirius pushed the hair off of the boy's forehead.
"I want you to behave yourself on the train. No mucking about this year. If I find out that you have been doing anything dangerous, I promise that you won't be able to sit for a week, do you hear me, young man?" he said as sternly as he could. It was hard, with the twinkle he had in his eye.
Harry nodded his head jerkily. "Yes, sir." His voice was gravelly with unshed tears. He couldn't hold back anymore. He launched himself into his godfather's arms and buried his face in the man's chest.
"I don't want to go, Sirius."
Sirius laughed gently as he held his boy tight.
"Yes you do," he said knowingly. "But don't worry. I'll see you before you know it," he promised.
Harry looked up at him expectantly. "What do you mean?"
"I promised Albus I would stop by Hogwarts today. He has a project he wants to talk to me about. I'll see you after the feast, if you like."
Relieved, Harry gripped him even more tightly. At least their parting would be held off for a little longer. Finally, Sirius had to push him away.
"Come along now. It's time to go."
He led Harry over to the carriages and forced the boy to climb the stairs just in time for the engine to begin moving. As the train pulled away, he saw his boy mouth "I love you" as he waved enthusiastically. Sirius waved back with just as much energy.
"I love you too, little one. I'll see you soon," he promised.