I do not own Harry Potter

When Sirius had shown up unannounced at the Potter Manor, James had been asleep. In fact, James didn't know that Sirius was there until a good two hours later when he stumbled downstairs to see Sirius having tea with his mother on the garden patio.

"Miss me?" Sirius had asked through a mouthful of toast and strawberry jam. He'd leaned back so that only the back two legs of the chair were on the ground and balanced with his feet propped up on the chair next to him.

"What are you doing here?" James had questioned in return, squinting blearily at his friend.

"Your mum and I fancied a cup of tea and a chat," Sirius had answered, waving his hand to indicate the spread on the table.

"You aren't supposed to be here for two weeks," James had said as he wandered over to the table and sat down across from Sirius, next to his mum. As he watched his friend lounge casually, James had suddenly realised how surreal the entire situation was: Mrs. Potter had not admonished Sirius for sitting so inappropriately in his chair. James glanced at his mother and, when he saw that she looked slightly amused, turned back to his best friend. "Am I dreaming?"

"If this is what you dream about," Sirius had teased, "then you are exceptionally boring. Unless… is Lily going to make a cameo appearance? That could be interesting."

"Shut it, Padfoot," James had grumbled before turning to the older woman. "What's he doing here?"

"Sirius decided to visit a bit early," is the only answer James had received. His mother had always been good at being discrete.

"And your parents are okay with this?" James had asked, turning back to his friend.

Sirius' cheery face had instantly fallen, his bright eyes darkening into a glare.

"Well, they don't exactly know. And I'm quite sure they don't particularly care," he'd answered before excusing himself under the guise of needing a shower.

That had been several hours ago and Sirius hadn't emerged since, not even for dinner.

James sighed as he stood, deliberating, in front of the door to Sirius' room. He wasn't sure why he was finding it so difficult to approach his best friend about this. It wasn't as though he didn't have experience with Sirius' moods, especially the ones resulting from confrontations with his family. James, somehow, had been unofficially dubbed title of The-Marauder-Who-Talks-Sirius-Out-Of-His-Moods.

But this just felt idifferent/i. Maybe it was how Sirius had shown up unannounced two weeks early for the annual end-of-summer get together the four boys always had. Maybe it was how quickly Sirius' smile had faded out on the patio. Maybe it was how nothing – not even the irresistible scent of the house elves' chocolate cake – had tempted him out of his room.

After five minutes of staring at the door, James took a deep breath and knocked.

"Go away," came Sirius' voice.

"I don't want to," James replied lightly. "Open the door."

"No," Sirius answered. And, almost as though he could see James reaching for his wand, he continued, "and don't even bother with Alohamora; I thought of that already."

"Fine then," James said, rolling his eyes. "I'll just have to talk to you from out here."

"No, you won't," Sirius' voice came a bit louder. "You'll get bored sitting here in silence – because I don't feel like talking – and then you'll leave and go and stare out the window and think of crappy poetry to send to Evans. And then you'll burn it before you actually send it."

James scowled. That comment had actually hurt. James had only written the poetry that once. And he'd made Sirius promise to never mention it again. Not that he'd really expected the promise to hold… but it was the principle of the matter.

"Sod off."

"I'll sod off if you go away."

"Why are you so unwilling to tell me what's happened?" James asked. He sunk down to a sitting position with his back against the door.

"Because I'm working myself into a nice pit of despair right now and I'd like to finish before you try to make me talk about my feelings," Sirius answered. "You're a bloody girl about that shite and you know it."

James rolled his eyes again. Quite often, dealing with Sirius was like dealing with a five-year-old. It was frustrating and made James never want to have kids.

"I'm sure it's not that bad, Padfoot," James offered, choosing to ignore the comment about his gender.

"Not that bad, James? What the bloody fuck do you know?"

James winced, more at the usage of his given name than at the tone of voice.

"Well, I don't bloody know anything," James countered. "You're sealed up tighter than a Gringott's vault. I asked my mum; she doesn't know why you're here either. Or, at least that's what she said. Maybe she was lying. Maybe you want to be best mates with my mum?"

"Your mum had the common sense to know not to push me. Maybe I will be best mates with her, now."

"Come on, Padfoot," James pleaded.

There was no answer. James could hear Sirius moving around in the room, probably pacing. He had a tendency to do that when he was upset. Usually the pacing came before the destruction of inanimate objects. And James sincerely hoped that they wouldn't get to that point. Three summers previously, James mum had decided that any messes that the two boys made would not be dealt with by the house-elves. Apparently, learning to clean up after themselves was important to their maturing process.

Much to James' relief, however, the pacing subsided. And, rather than the sounds of smashing glass, he heard Sirius sit down on the opposite side of the door.

"I ran away," Sirius said after a couple moments of silence.

"Ran away, ran away?" James asked, sitting up a bit straighter. "Or ran away for a little bit until you go back, ran away?"

"Threatened with the Avada Kedavra if I ever show my face again, run away," Sirius said in a would-be-casual voice. "Actually, I think they may have aimed it at me as I left. Or maybe it was theCruciatus, I don't remember. They missed, at any rate."

"Oh…" James replied softly.


"Anything else?" James asked, though he wasn't sure he wanted to know. The thought of Walburga and Orion Black threatening his best friend with torture made him feel slightly ill. And he refused to think about the Killing Curse.

"Blasted my name off the tapestry," Sirius muttered.

"And Regulus?"

"Just stood there," Sirius said quietly so that James had to struggle to hear him. After a moment, Sirius sighed and continued, his voice louder. "Not that I expected anything different. The wanker at least had the decency to not look pleased with the whole situation."

"I doubt he was pleased," James mused. "He is your-"

"Don't say that," Sirius interrupted, bitterness lacing his words. "Reg hasn't been my brother for years. You know that, James."

"Is that how you really feel?" James questioned.

"Does it matter?" Sirius shot back. "That's how it is."

James didn't respond. He didn't know what to say. He didn't understand, not really. His parents had loved him unconditionally; he knew they'd never disown him, throw him out, or threaten him. They'd never treat anyone like that, James knew. They'd accepted all of James' friends almost as second children, especially Sirius. Sometimes James was convinced that his mum preferred Sirius over him.

James ran his hands through his hair. He couldn't understand what Sirius was going through. He never could. But there was something he could do.

"Open your door, Pads," James demanded as he stood up.

"What do you want now, Prongs? We talked. Haven't you tortured me enough?"

"We're going to go find my mum," James informed him. "And tell her that you'll be staying with us until we graduate."

There was silence for a moment. And then, the door to Sirius' room was open.

"Wait, really?" His eyes were slightly red, but excitement shone through that.

"Padfoot," James said, placing a hand on Sirius' shoulder, "You belong with your real brother. Me."