Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi
Sirius had always thought the day he was inevitably disowned, the world would finally glow with the vibrant colors of life that the black velvet decadence of Grimmauld had always shunned. That he would dance like a man mad with joy to be free of the drab, dour world of the Wizarding upper crust. That living on the edge of society would be beautiful.
And in some ways it was. The first day he did dance; he frolicked through the warm summer rain laughing and smiling. The muggles thought he was insane—a young man, wild eyed and dressed in linen and silk, running through the wet streets at dusk with a mad grin on his face.
But once reality set in, he sank. How was he going to pay for school? Where was he going to stay? How was he going to eat? He had left Grimmauld with only his wand, a bit of money, and the clothes on his back.
He surrendered a few precious sickles to ride the Knight Bus to James's house. It was raining there, too and he stood in the drizzle, chucking pebbles at his friend's window. After six little rocks had hit the window, a messy haired and extremely annoyed James popped his head out the window.
"What?" he demanded peevishly, peering around in the dark. "Whoever you are, there better well be a good reason you're here. I was having a lovely nap."
"James," Sirius called, just loud enough to be heard over the hissing rain and James's eyes snapped to him. "James, I got kicked out."
James's expression saddened. "Oh no, Sirius. I'm sorry."
"I'm not," Sirius said flatly. "But I have no where to go. Do you think...?"
"Yeah," James said, "I think. Let's get you out of the rain and then I'll talk to Mum and Dad."
"All right," Sirius replied and walked towards the porch as James disappeared. The porch was wide and white wicker chairs occupied a corner, clustered around a small table. Honeysuckle vines wound through a trellis; their scent was heavy in the air, mixed with the smell of Mrs. Potter's sterling roses and the smell of rain on dry earth. A chill breeze gusted through, the swing bench on the far end on the porch creaking in the wind.
James opened the large oak door that lead into the house, silhouetted by the warm fire of the sitting room. "Come on," he gestured. "Mum and dad said you can for as long as you need to."
Sirius smiled as he walking into the house, "I know I've said this before, but I love your parents, James. They're amazing."
James laughed, "Aren't they just?" He looked at Sirius closely. "You're soaked!" he scolded. "Let's get you some dry clothes," he hustled Sirius towards the staircase that lead to the bedrooms of the Potter household, but Sirius stopped for a moment.
Mr. and Mrs. Potter were curled up together on the burgundy velvet couch that Sirius had coveted since he was fifteen, sipping warm tea. They both looked up at Sirius and smiled.
Mrs. Potter got up. "We're very serious, Sirius, when we said you can stay for as long as you need to." She had always enjoyed that pun.
Sirius smiled gratefully. "Thank you," he said softly, "but I can't give you anything in return besides my gratitude."
Mrs. Potter gave him a wicked smile, "That's more than enough. I stole you out from under Walburga and we need more decent Blacks around, don't you think, cousin?"
Sirius grinned, "Oh indeed. We inevitably get burned off the tapestry, but I think it's worth it." Mrs. Potter was his cousin twice times removed; close enough to acknowledge the relationship, far enough away that familiarities were frowned upon.
She laughed, "All right, Sirius. Quit dripping on my floor and distressing my son. Go get changed and you can have the second bedroom on the left."
"Thank you, Mrs. Potter," he said as he turned towards James.
"Come on," James said, thumping up the stairs. "I think some of Dad's old clothes will fit you."
It was still raining when he woke up the next morning and he sank deeper into his blankets as more questions bombarded Sirius about his future. He couldn't rely on the Potters forever and he would never ask them to pay for his schooling. Where those funds were going to come from, he didn't know.
He spent the next hour worrying, his stomach tied in knots. Fees were due soon, he realized. Three weeks from today, actually. Fuck, Sirius thought and then jumped at the sudden pounding on his door.
"Siiiiiriuus," James sang through the door. "Time to get uuup. We have bacon!"
Bacon was not enough to lure him out of bed at the moment but he didn't want to worry James or his parents by turning down the promise of extra crispy deliciousness. This problem was his and his alone. "All right," he called back, "Gimme a minute to get decent."
"Aw, no wanking in that bed!" James laughed.
"Did I say I was wanking?" Sirius shot back. "Go away or I will!"
"Fine, fine" James said with mock exasperation. "Hurry up though, or Dad will eat all the bacon!"
There was a laughing holler from the kitchen. James's father was denying his tendency to inhale bacon, Sirius guessed.
"Right, Dad, that's not why all the bacon was gone when I got back from the loo yesterday!" James called with a laugh, his voice growing fainter as he descended the stairs.
Mr. Potter's ability to make bacon disappear was indeed legendary so Sirius hurried. He slipped on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt and briefly checked his hair as he exited his room. He scowled for a moment as he went down the stairs. He hated that cowlick and he tried to smooth it out as he entered the sunny kitchen.
Mrs. Potter, wearing a flowery apron, gave him an amused look. "That's a Potter trait, you know, that messy hair." She gestured at her husband and son with a spatula. This morning, their messy heads looked almost exactly alike, though Mr. Potter's was salt and pepper rather than James's shoe polish black. "Sit," she pointed at the fourth table setting. "And get some pancakes before Charles eats them all."
The man in question shot her a look, pretending to be offended. "You all seem think I eat everything in sight." He sniffed. "I have no idea why."
"Dad," James said, scooping up some scrambled eggs, "that's because you do. Unless that everything includes marmalade."
Mrs. Potter nodded, "I must remember to make marmalade out of those raspberries instead of jam." She gave her husband a calculating look.
Mr. Potter gave her a beseeching look. "You know how I love your jam. No marmalade?" he wheedled.
"Yes marmalade," she said firmly. "But also jam. Marmalade is not very good on pancakes."
Mr. Potter looked relieved.
Over the next week, Sirius looked for a job of some sort and contemplated writing to the Headmaster. He was sure Dumbledore had heard about his disowning within a few hours of it happening and the man had likely known it was coming just as much as he had. Sirius also berated himself for not putting money aside while he had access to it. His mother had probably shut down his account before she confronted him.
He didn't eat much, ignoring the looks of worry and concern from the Potters as he pushed food around on his plate meal after meal and he would disappear for a few hours several times a week, outside his job hunting. James fretted but was reluctant to interfere with his friend's gloom, fearing he would inadvertently make it worse.
Remus and Peter were coming to stay after Sirius had been at the Potters' for two weeks. Both of his friends had exchanged owls with him, Peter trying to console him and Remus trying to cheer him up.
They showed up on the Potter's door step that Monday afternoon, carrying trunks and hostess gifts for Mrs. Potter. She was a notorious plant lover, and she smiled with delight over the peace lily Peter brought and the Spanish lavender Remus gave her.
Sirius put on a brave front, James thought as he watched his friend gossip and laugh with Remus and Peter, but it wasn't quite Sirius.
Peter didn't seem to realize this but James caught worried looks from Remus every now and then.
That night, James pulled Remus aside. His werewolf friend looked rather worn out—the moon was only four days past—and it was a bit late but this was the only time he thought he might get to talk to him.
"James," Remus said quickly, "how bad is Sirius off?"
"Money wise?" James asked, "only a couple galleons to his name. But—"
Remus waved a hand impatiently, "Not money. Merlin knows he hasn't got any now. No, I meant—"
"Emotionally," James interrupted, annoyed that Remus had cut him off.
"Yes," Remus nodded.
"Bad. It's not his family of course, but he's really worrying about something." James chewed the inside of his lip.
"Money," Remus nodded.
"Yeah, probably," James agreed.
"Almost certainly," Remus said crisply. "He's always had it, and suddenly he scraping pocket lint. Did his parents already pay for school?"
James paused. "No...probably not, given how he's been eating and desperately hunting for a job."
"No one's hiring?" Remus asked, concerned for his friend.
"More like they won't hire him and risk the wrath of the Blacks," James explained.
Remus nodded solemnly. "Right. He's not eating?" he nodded, worrying again. Sirius usually matched Mr. Potter bite for bite and if he wasn't eating much, well....
"Not really. And he always scrapes the food off his plate before one of us can get it for him, too." James explained.
Remus pursed his lips and looked at James frankly. "You want me to do something."
James nodded. "I always manage to say the wrong thing or make the wrong move when he's depressed like this, or I would have done something already. You're much better at reading people, Remus, especially touchy people like Sirius."
"I have to be," Remus said evenly.
"Part of that whole hide-what-you-are thing, right? Got to know when they're getting suspicious," James nodded.
Remus nodded. "Yeah. Anyway, I'll look for an opportunity to talk to him."
It took two days for an opportunity to appear. Tuesday Sirius went job hunting, but Wednesday he stayed in.
It had rained the night before and Remus had risen before everyone else, as usual. He was sipping tea in the kitchen, staring out the open window and enjoying the fresh green smell that wafted through the grey morning. He heard the slap and stick of clammy feet on the wooden floor at the bottom of the stairs. They stopped in the doorway for a moment.
"Good morning, Sirius," Remus said without turning around. "Want some tea?"
There was a sigh, "How do you always know who it is behind you?" Sirius appeared to Remus's left a moment later.
"I don't always know," Remus shrugged. "But when someone's barefoot and it's early, I can usually guess. Mr. Potter's foot steps are heavier and Mrs. Potter's are almost soundless. Peter wears socks absolutely everywhere. You and James have clammy feet in the morning but James never, ever wakes up before nine in the summer." Sirius laughed and Remus smiled at him. "Therefore, it has to be you."
Sirius shook his head with a laugh. "I'm going to wear socks in the morning now, just to spite you."
"You would," Remus chuckled.
They fell silent and Remus noted again how silence was never awkward with Sirius. Sometimes it was with James and he could practically feel Peter clawing at the silence whenever it fell. A long while later, Remus put down his tea and smiled at Sirius. "Come with me," he said.
Sirius looked at Remus, examining his friend in the heavy morning light. "Where?"
"Out," Remus gestured out the window and stood up.
Sirius felt Remus's smiling anticipation and nodded. "Let me get my shoes," he said, getting up as well and moving toward the stairs.
"No," Remus told him. He gave Sirius a look that was both curious and sad. "Haven't you ever run barefoot in the grass after it rains?"
"Well, no," Sirius admitted. "We didn't really have grass at Grimmauld and my mother would have shrieked like a banshee if I had."
"Mm, well then," Remus said, a smile hovering on his lips, "let's spite your mother and do it. There's nothing like it, Sirius. I do it every time I can." He tilted his head towards the window and looked at Sirius with a challenging look in his eyes. "Race you to the brook."
Sirius an appraising look and grinned. "You're on. I bet I can beat you this time," he said before tearing out the back door, Remus hot on his heels.
The cool wet of the long grass soaked his pant legs and Sirius could feel the wet, soft earth mush under his feet. The grass was soft as he and Remus whipped through it, laughing and talking trash.
"You're even slower than last time!" Remus called, ahead of Sirius.
"No way! It's those long, gangly-ass legs of yours! I demand a handicap!" Sirius laughed.
"I'd still beat you!" Remus told him, briefly turning around as he continued running. Immediately he fell over, disappearing into the green froth.
"You all right, dunderhead?" Sirius asked breathlessly as he came to where Remus lay.
Remus looked up at him from the patch of grass he had flattened. He stood up slowly, clearly checking for injuries. "I think I bruised my elbow," he admitted before flashing Sirius a grin in the grey light. "But I'm still going to beat you!" He took off again for the trees that edged the large meadow the Potter house sat in.
"Brat!" Sirius laughed, racing after Remus.
They dodged and ducked under low branches and jumped from log to rock towards the stream. Sirius expected he was going to regret running barefoot, wincing as he stepped on another sharp little rock. But not enough to regret doing this—this glorious run through high grass with Remus on a wet green morning. He'd do it again every chance he got.
Hours later, he and Remus returned to the house, panting and laughing. Mrs. and Mr. Potter were up and they smiled at the two boys when they came into the kitchen.
"Sirius," Mrs. Potter called. "A letter came for you." She held out a small cream colored envelope towards him.
Sirius moved to take it from her and cracked the wax seal.
Heard about the little tiff you had with your mother. Sorry I wasn't in the country at the time or you could have stayed with me. But I bet you're quite happy at the Potters' though, eh? Anyway, I've taken the liberty of covering your school expenses and you now have access to my account at Gringotts so you can pay for your books and pranking supplies.