Summary: The war is over, and Harry's won it for them. Everyone's celebrating Voldemort's death. Sirius would rather celebrate Harry's life. Warnings for male kisses.
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters.
Sirius still remembered- and he could never be sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing- a time far back enough when Harry was a black-furred scar-less green-eyed pup, Jamie and Lils were still alive, when Remmy with his umber-coloured eyes and shy smile belying an overwhelming strength was his best mate, and when Peter wasn't someone who'd torn them apart but someone who'd brought them together, given them someone to band around, to protect.
Now when he looked about him with wizened eyes, he couldn't even see the remnants of those memories anymore. Sure, there were the photographs on the mantle, but they seemed like a part of a fairytale story he might have read at the Potters', because Merlin forbid Walburga from having a fairytale in the house. Unless it was one involving carnivorous wolves and red-stained coats, of course.
Now, Harry was a long-limbed ebony-haired and emerald-eyed Eros, Jamie and Lils were long dead and gone, Remmy was a golden-coloured fury wrapped in silver and timber fur, and Pe- it was best if he not think about that miserable cretin, especially when he alone knew all the nooks and crannies where several bottles of Ogden's best were stored. On some days the weight of all that knowing seemed to push into his head from his temples, threatening to burst it and spray what little brains he has left all over the carpet.
But, incredibly enough, it was all over. At least technically it was in his head, or so he kept trying to tell himself. Just two weeks ago, his godson had vanquished their last demon for good. And since those two weeks, minus the two days it had taken for all of them to heal, people had been partying, celebrating, hitting the bottle, snorting the lines, anything and everything you could possibly think of in an effort to live the lives that had been so nearly denied them.
Even dearest uptight Remus, having finally been forced to confront his wolf during that ridiculously arduous exercise of a war, had gone off his rocker into the forest to join in on several bestial orgies. Leaving him, by himself, all alone, in this miserable excuse of a house.
He gave into the temptation and pulled out a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label from his bedside drawer. Unscrewing the crystal cap, he took a sniff of the fragrant amber liquid and sighed in appreciation at the scent of decade-old alcohol. He swirled it about a bit, and conjured a whisky glass. The first shot went down without a hitch, and he sighed as that old familiar burn gripped his throat.
"So this is where you've been hiding?"
The voice made him whirl around, the wand coming out reflexively even as the glass shattered heedlessly on the hardwood floor. The spell had almost left his lips before the words died on his tongue. Grey eyes narrowed on alarmed green ones, and his godson offered him a lopsided smile.
"I didn't mean to startle you," he said quietly, walking uninvited into the room. There wasn't a wand in Harry's hand as he gestured for the glass to repair itself, and for a replica to join it.
"But I could hardly pass by when such marvellous things are laid out on the offering table." He nodded his head in the direction the bottle of whisky clutched his godfather's hand, and Sirius had to turn to slowly look at it, as if he'd entirely forgotten about it.
For a moment, when Harry had mentioned those marvellous things, he had wished-
Sirius summoned up a well-worn smile on his lips, and sat back on the springy mattress. "Yeah, sure," he said easily, holding out the bottle to pour some of the golden nectar into the two cups. He set the bottle down on the bedside table, and patted the bedspread next to him invitingly.
"Well then, since you've accosted an old dog for a drink, why don't you accommodate him and tell him what in blazes you're doing in this dodgy neighbourhood when you've got birds on the prowl for you, eh?" He'd taken a joking tone, but he was genuinely curious.
His godson scowled at him as he took a large gulp of the whisky with a little too much ease of practice.
"Don't ever say that!" he snapped. Sirius stared at Harry with large, surprised eyes, ignorant about where this aversion had sprung from.
"It's disgusting seeing the way they hang off other people like parasites. Or anyone, really. They don't see me, only see that Merlin-damned hyphenated title. I thought I'd seen enough of that at Hogwarts between Draco and Pansy!"
Sirius suddenly understood, and he threw his head back and laughed. It was one of those deep, belly-aching laughs where he felt the folds on the corner of his eyes deepen. Harry looked happier for his godfather's laughter.
"You should do that more often," he commented.
"You laughing," he explained, when Sirius looked as if he didn't understand. "It's a good sound. I don't hear it as often these days. I bet mum and dad heard it a lot more often."
The man shrugged, his eyes clouded by old memories. "That's Merlin's own truth," he said slowly. "I had a lot more things to be happy about then."
Harry looked startled by that admission, and then a little sad. "Does that mean there's hardly anything here that makes you happy? I'm sorry about th-"
The exclamation rang loud in the room, causing him to flush. Sirius bit his lip and looked away awkwardly, taking a drink of his whisky to cover the uncomfortable moment. "A lot of shitty things, happened, that's all I'm saying. I'm just a different person now than I am as compared to back then."
Harry looked slightly mollified by that statement, although he still seemed a bit regretful. "That doesn't change how I feel about it, though," he said. "I still wish you hadn't had to go through any of the shit you did. None of it was your fault."
A bitter, twisted smile wormed its way onto the older man's face, but he didn't reply. Harry caught it though, and continued.
"You can think what you like, just like how I can say what I like," he said easily. "It doesn't make you any less in my eyes."
Sirius's great head swivelled about to look his godson with startled, wide grey eyes. Harry only smiled at him, a little sadly, but reached out for the older man's hand. Sirius gripped it briefly; the touch, he felt, was far too fleeting.
"Don't sell yourself short," Harry continued, not looking away from Sirius. "If I'd had the chance, I still would have jumped at the chance of living with you again. We never did manage to, in the end," he said a little wistfully.
Sirius gaped at him. After Harry's third-year, they'd never raised the question anymore. Sirius had always toyed with going to the Dursleys and just kidnapping the poor abused boy, but every time he seemed to gather up enough balls to do so, the dodgy old coot had shot him a knowing glance that effectively paralysed him. And then the war had struck up again with double the furore of the last one, and there hadn't been the time, let alone the energy, for sentimental thoughts like that. When the war had ended, Harry had gotten his own flat in London, and he rarely, if ever, let anyone over. Sirius was one of the bare handful that had open access to his flat, even though it had come in the form of a set of extra keys, charmed to be unduplicatable, rather than a Floo address.
Harry hadn't gotten a Floo; had refused to have anything to do with the damn magical fireplaces in fact, not that Sirius could blame him. Even Ron and Hermione hadn't gotten that concession, but then again Sirius knew he and Harry had only gotten closer, while they had drifted away.
Thoughtlessly, Sirius reached out and grabbed a hold of Harry's hand, squeezing it tightly. "That offer still stands, Harry," he said, grey eyes burning with their intensity. "It always has, and always will. I-I never knew- and then you got your own flat and-"
Harry's eyes almost began to sparkle, but instead he laughed, letting his long fringe fall into his eyes to hide the lovely emerald shade. His fingers gripped Sirius' own. He didn't say anything, which made Sirius's heart fearful for a beat or two, but when Harry glanced up at him, almost shyly, he realised that there wasn't really anything you could say to that. Releasing Harry's hand he slung his arm over the younger man's shoulders, dragging him closer till their sides were pressed against each other. Sirius dropped his head, resting it against Harry's.
The younger man let out an exhausted laugh. "Ever thought about what it would be like once it was all over?" he asked softly.
Sirius slowly shook his head, the sound of their dark hair rustling against each other loud in his ears. "Never," he admitted into the night. He'd never voiced these thoughts out to anyone before, not even to Remus.
"I think I might have just taken it for granted that- that it would never end. Or that I would end before it would. And we would be stuck in this maze of misery forever and ever."
His haunted grey eyes stared out the door, down the hollow corridor of Grimmauld Place. The shadows cast by the candlelight seemed to warp and shift under his gaze.
By his side, Harry made an irritable noise. "Why am I not surprised to hear you think like that?" he asked plaintively.
Sirius cast him a darkly amused look from the side. "You expect me to believe you thought any different?"
Harry looked shocked, and he stared at Sirius for a few long beats. Then at once he turned away, hurt in his eyes. Sirius winced and mentally swore.
"Damnit, Harry, I'm sorry. You know my tongue has a mind of its own, I just-"
Harry gave a choked laugh, and Sirius was worried at how pained it sounded. He settled his glass on the bedside table before turning back to his godson, cradling his head carefully between his hands and inwardly marvelling at the soft tracts of hair between his fingers. "Hang it, Harry, I'm so sorry. I never meant to-"
"No, you aren't wrong, Sirius, and that's the worst thing."
When Harry looked up again, guilt seized Sirius like a vice clamping on his heart. The bright emerald eyes looked dull and hollow. Harry raised the hand not holding his whisky glass to touch his godfather's elbow. He glanced at Sirius, and then away again.
"You shouldn't be sorry for anything, Sirius," he whispered. "I really didn't expect this to ever end. I expected me to end. What else have I known except this ridiculous farce of a life? I can't see the goodness through the misery, Sirius," he said desperately. "Th-there's no light at the end of the tunnel for me. It's over, Voldemort's over, and with him, so am I. What else have I been except the fucking Boy-Who-Lived?" he spat.
"Oh gods, Harry," he whispered. He deftly removed the whisky from his limp grasp, and then hauled his godson close. He pulled the younger man tight, revelling in the feel of the lithe body between his own, and clenching his eyes shut against any and all thoughts. His godson needed him now.
"I have to admit, then, that at first all I wanted to see was James," he confessed into his ear. By the way Harry tensed up, and tried to pull away, that that wasn't the best way to start out. But Sirius just tightened his grip on the younger man, refusing to let him go. "No, Harry, I want you to hear this. You have to, please."
The pained pleading in his voice had Harry going limp in the circle of his arms, hands hanging like deadened weights on either side, and his head slumped heavily on Sirius's shoulder.
"I never really had the chance to say goodbye to James, you know? And then I saw you, and you looked so much like him, except that you had Lily's eyes. I don't know when I realised it, but then I saw that you were made up of both of them, and that made you, you. That made you my godson, Harry James. That made me realise there wasn't anything I wouldn't do for you."
He drew back a little, to be able to look Harry in the eye.
"I know your life was horrible. And I know that it was at least partially my fault. I could have taken you away rather than given you to Hagrid-"
"-and I would have become Snape's worst nightmare," Harry managed with a half-hearted smile. "A Potter raised by a Black."
Sirius laughed. A Harry making jokes meant this was a Harry that was feeling better.
"Yeah, Snivellus would've gotten an eyeful- and an earful!- out of that. But it didn't happen, and in the end, I've never been able to give you what you deserve, Harry."
He stared deep into his godson's eyes, willing him to understand what he meant. "You deserve more than anyone else in this godforsaken world, Harry. Those are the words of a godfather that loves you more than anything, that takes pride in everything you do, that will love you no matter what you do.
"You are your own man, Harry. You've been everyone else's for so long, that I think even you forgot what it was like, to be your own person. But I know-" and here his voice cracked "-that you won't find it here. If you stay, you'll become everyone's hero again, everyone's poster boy. And I know how much you hate that more than anything."
He looked up at Harry, eyes glimmering with tears. "I'm surprised you stuck around us for so long, honestly," he choked out. "In a world that sentenced you to hell for every year of your life and then expected you to save us. I would have walked the first chance I got," he joked wetly.
Harry was looking at Sirius as though he'd never seen the man before in his life. "You think I should leave."
The spoken realisation made the idea somehow real, even as his voice crackled like dead leaves on concrete in the sudden stillness of the house.
Sirius closed his eyes in defeat. "I never thought you were happy here," he said. "And I don't think you ever will be."
He opened his eyes again, the grey swimming with watery resolve. "I'm not leaving you again, Harry. Whatever you decide, whatever it takes, I'll do it."
Harry looked away from the intensity in those eyes, pulling out of Sirius's arms to back into the pillows resting against the headboard. "I can't say I've never been happy," he murmured. "When I was younger, when-" The pain reappeared in his dulled green eyes. "When I didn't know any better."
Sirius longed to reach out to his godson and hold him again for all the pain he was feeling, but knew he wouldn't be welcomed at this point. He merely sat there, staying silent and waiting patiently for Harry to come to a decision on his own. In the back of his mind, he reached out with his magic and changed the wards on the house, letting no one else in for the time being. A flicker of green his way made him realise Harry knew what he was doing.
"I never thought about it that way," Harry said at length, with a tiny, sad smile. "For all that I call myself English, I don't think I've ever even been to the countryside. I've only known Diagon Alley, the Burrow, Hogwarts, and Privet Drive. I've never seen anything else. I don't even know what Big Ben looks like in real life."
Sirius's heart clenched so hard he felt that ripping it out would probably hurt less.
"And you?" Harry asked, finally looking at his godfather again. "What are your plans?"
He shrugged instead, trying for nonchalance and failing abysmally with the shaking of his shoulders. "To let you make your decision. To come to terms with it. I want you to be free, Harry, to see you smile, to hear you laugh, without the weight of any of our impending murders on you." He blanched at his own words. "Maybe that was a bit much," he conceded weakly.
"You love me," Harry said suddenly, "but are you in love with me?"
Sirius stared at him, wide-eyed with horror, before turning away shamefully, his silence speaking more than any confession could.
"Sirius, Sirius," Harry called softly, touching his arm and pulling him close. "Please, Sirius, don't look away from me."
He turned back to him, his godson, his chest rising and falling in carefully orchestrated breaths.
"How could I not be?" he asked in a painfully raw voice. "Anybody would be foolish not to be."
And then lips were pressed tightly against his own, so hard that he could feel the imprint of teeth through them. His hands came up reflexively to clutch at his godson's shoulders, but he wasn't sure if they were there to draw him closer, or to push him away, or just to hold him in place. In the end they did nothing at all.
"Good," Harry murmured, their lips still against each other. "Good, because I was so afraid-" and their lips met, again, and again and "-I don't care about them, never did, it's always been you, I'll go anywhere you are- don't you know how beautiful you are?"
Sirius is abruptly besieged by belated gratitude to Snape for brewing that eye-correcting potion so Harry could dispense with his eyeglasses, as he is struck again and again by the vivid verdant gleaming at him through long dark lashes that bat against his skin. Instead all he can think about is no, no, I'm not the beautiful one, I'm a fucking old man, and you're gorgeous, and I can't believe you-
Harry pushed him back, and as he lost his balance, his outflung elbow clipped the edge of one of the glasses, sending it careening over the night table. It shattered for the second time that night, but neither man paid it any attention.
"Merlin, I'm in love with you." The words escaped his mouth in a rush of breath.
Harry loomed over him, knees on either side of his hips. He extended his hand toward the door in an almost forgotten motion, forcing it to close and lock and warding it with everything he knew. Sirius stared up at his godson, panting shakily as the offhand show of power made his thighs tingle.
And then Harry surged forward, gently pressing their foreheads together in a tightly intimate gesture, just pre-empting the others that would come. His eyes were nearly closed, even though he wasn't looking at Sirius; their noses kept bumping, and their breathed in the same breath that mingled in the air between their lips. Sirius could feel fingers carding through his wild, long locks, tugging gently at snarls and tangles and laving it with all the care in the world.
There was an almost reverent look on his face as he stared at his godfather as if he'd never seen him before.
"The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. Or perhaps ebony and crystal would be better in this case." His lips quirked upwards teasingly.
As Harry said those words, vibrant green eyes flickered up and into him, forcing all the breath from his lungs.
"The curves of your lips rewrite history." (1)
He reached up, and their lips met, and Sirius erased all thoughts of anything else from that moment, because to do anything less would have been sacrilegious. It was the last thing he thought for a very, long, time.
(1) A quote from Oscar Wilde that was used in the absolutely brill 1998 film, Velvet Goldmine. Please do see it if you get the chance.
I really should've been working on either 'Anthem', 'World', or sleep. This came instead. Please review! Cheers.