Disclaimer: all characters belong to J K Rowling and Warner brothers.

a/n Story dedicated to Moppet Poppet, Cheating Death's 500th reviewer!

Of Western Stars
By neutral

Chapter zero - of alternative realities

As promised, the version of WS with miscellaneous alternative chapter versions. I'm having some trouble with the epilogues, so those will be a bit delayed.


This was a preliminary version of chapter one and two, where Sirius doesn't actually end up in a park, but runs straight into Harry. Harry takes him to the Dursleys and hides him in the backyard, but that was eventually changed since it had too many discrepancies involved:

Four and a half hours later, Sirius found himself trudging through the suburbs of Little Whinging after nightfall, picking his way through the narrow streets. He could feel the stress of the day's events slowly sinking over him like a heavy blanket; his legs were growing heavier and heavier at each step. He could barely pick out the words of the signs even with the bright streetlights.

Sleep was too enticing. He wanted nothing more than to sink to the ground and close his eyes, but the thought of his godson was like a light in the middle of the night.

Sirius forced himself to walk on, but his resolution was shattering by the minute. He was too weary to even hear the footsteps nearing him. It was only when he caught a whiff of dust and old wood that Sirius realized someone was close. Dimly, he lifted his head, the blurred outline of a short child coming into view. The ground swayed, his vision faded into black. The last coherent thought that fluttered into his mind was

Why would a child smell like dust and wood?

Sirius slowly drug himself out of the peaceful darkness, feeling more rested than he did for years. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes, the brightness momentarily blinding him. He blinked rapidly, trying to adjust to the light. The angle of the sun told him that it was late afternoon; Sirius stared at the clear blue sky, savoring the image that was stolen from him for the last six years. The trees around him was completely foreign to the sidewalk he last remembered. Beside him, a low row of bushes were planted near the wall, but he could tell that he was lying in the backyard of a muggle house. For a moment, Sirius felt a brief pang of panic. He scrambled to his feet, and something fell to the ground.

It was a worn shirt, looking as if it was meant for a boy as tall as he was wide. Someone had spread it over him when he was asleep. Two bowls were placed on the grass a short distance away, one filled to the brim with water and the other with a piece of burnt toast and a sausage. Both were already cold, but Sirius still grinned. It was a relief to know that whoever had taken him in took the effort of feeding him.

A soft crunch caught his attention. Sirius tensed.

A boy stepped into view, pulling some strands of leaves free from his wild hair as he pushed his way through the bushes. His green eyes, framed with round-rimmed glasses, scanned the area worriedly, but they brightened when they stopped on him.

Sirius heart jumped into his throat.


At that moment, Sirius wanted nothing more than to transform back into a person and envelope the small boy into a hug. But discretion caught up with him just in time; what would Harry think? Wouldn't he be horrified to find a strange man who looked like he had been through hell and back, suddenly rush at him?

Sirius hadn't moved since the moment Harry came. The young child (he looked five, not the seven years he really was) stared back at him timidly. Sirius whined softly to dissipate whatever fears in his mind; it was sheer luck that lead him to Harry, he wasn't sure if he could find him if he left again. Harry smiled, stepping forward cautiously and pulling a napkin from his pocket.

"Noodles," he said simply, holding out a soggy bundle.

Sirius stared.

At his stillness, Harry's expression became one of bewilderment. "You're not hungry?" he asked.

Sirius snapped out of his reverie, leaning forward to lap at the food, his eyes never leaving Harry's face. The shade of the boy's eyes, the curve of his face. He looked so much like James, it was frightening. Even the glasses were the same, although parts of it were taped as if they had been broken. Sirius was barely even aware of how the noodles tasted. Harry watched him patiently in silence, completely uncharacteristic of any seven year old. He seemed unused to conversation, barely saying more than a word at a time.


Sirius startled at the harshness of that voice. Harry paled visibly


This was a version where Sirius actually runs through each of the Dursley's room to steal, but of course, that sort of seemed illogical on Sirius' part. Plus, his internal monologue was too calm.

Sirius hesitated, reluctant to leave the boy. But when Harry's face contorted into a grimace again, Sirius gritted his teeth and turned away.

He made his way quietly upstairs. The first door opened into a small room with an empty bed, floor completely littered with broken muggle toys. Sirius struggled with another surge of anger at the injustice of it all. This could have been Harry's room! The had an extra bed to spare, but instead, they lock him in a cupboard!

Sirius had to forcefully stop himself before he slammed the door in rage. He moved onto the next room quietly. The walls plastered with odd posters that he couldn't discern in the dark and the floor covered with wires of all sorts, Sirius could barely make out the large four-poster at the far corner. But the sounds the boy made in his sleep, it was impossible to overlook him.

So this was Dudley, Sirius thought bitterly. This was where Harry inherited all his oversized clothes.

But then, why not? Sirius smirked as he stepped into the room, kicking aside several wires that came in his way carelessly. But the oversized lump on the bed still slept like the dead. He pushed open the door that he recognized as a closet and picked out whatever accessories that caught his eye. Several extra large shirts, a few pants as long as they were wide, a thick jacket that just screamed money, a belt that might just manage to fit on Harry's narrow waist. He stuffed it all in a duffle bag that he nabbed on his way out.

Sirius scowled angrily when he stepped into the bedroom of Vernon and Petunia Dursley. His hand was just itching to spread over the fat neck of Harry's uncle. He beat it back harshly, but body still shook with rage as he dug through their closet. He selected a few articles that had a remote chance of fitting himself and peeled off his own tattered robes. Wearing the clothes of Harry's dreaded relative was the last thing he wanted, but raising eyebrows with his grimy black robes was worse.

Nevertheless, he'd still receive some odd looks every now and then. The pants were a several inches short of his ankle and the waistline was twice as wide as his. The shirt gave him an odd sensation of wearing a partly unbuttoned thing even though it was fastened to the collar. Sirius shrugged in defeat, then turned to the bedside drawers. He rummaged through them for some time before he noticed the fat wallet lying on the alarm clock. Sirius grinned, fishing out all the bills and counting the contents with some triumph. Although, Sirius decided, that excuse for a muggle deserved far more punishment than just losing a few pounds.

He shut the bedroom door silently behind him when he traced his way back downstairs. He had picked up a brush at Petunia's dresser and was trying to comb as much knots out of his hair as possible. With a piece of string that he strongly suspected to be Lily's vicious older sister's, he tied back the long strands as neatly as possible.


This was the cropped scene right after Harry's nightmare. It sort of became overkill.

With trembling hands, he dragged the blanket off the vacant bed. Gently, he wrapped the boy in its folds, evading his feeble attempts to escape. The fury against Harry's relatives were rapidly sinking into guilt and disgust against himself.

He carefully spread the soft sheets over the child. Harry fell still, leaning stiffly his godfather with his face hidden in his shirt. He didn't make a sound for what seemed like hours. Sirius thought the child had sunk back into slumber. But when his breathing became raspy and erratic, his shoulders tensing with discomfort, Sirius regarded it with mounting concern. He placed his hand on his shoulder worriedly, but Harry turned from the touch, burying his face against the blanket.

Sirius leaned against the wooden surface, the chipped bedside table a gnawing into the back of his head. He rested his hand on the child's hair, the few hours of anger, guilt, and frustration left him exhausted and emotionally drained. Noticing Harry's stillness, Sirius stood, his neck cracking audibly after his few hours of stiff sitting.

Slowly so not to jar the child, Sirius stood and made his way to the dresser, piled with a mass of bandages and vials. He cleared the divan by carelessly kicking aside the coats and dropped in the soft cushions with Harry nesting against him. He let his head drop back of the headrest, letting the exhaustion of the days vigil sinking over him. Sirius lightly traced his thumb over the reddish contusion that cut across half the child's cheek. The thick palm that struck him left an imprint so deep that the off coloration even spread onto his neck.

Sirius never felt more defeated in his life. It was reliving James and Lily's death all over again, only it was their son dying. A trapped, lost six year old boy slowly fading away into a shell. He was so deeply scared, so scalded and burned from those experiences that Sirius wondered if he could ever lead a normal life again. The way Harry flinched from the slightest glare, the whispered word…

He was losing. They both were.

Sirius rearranged the blankets, and tucked the child snuggly in its folds. Harry had sunk past unconsciousness into sleep, eyes peacefully closed. But Sirius couldn't bring himself to move.

Harry's face twisted into a faint grimace, shifting weakly as another nightmare threatened to submerge him.


There was another version where Harry has a vision of Sirius, only this time, after the disaster at the street where he's laughing with the dead people all around him. Of course, that makes him fear and hate Sirius a lot, but that turned out to be too evil to keep. It was spliced with the nightmare instead, so it might read similar. But this one was just cruel, so it died.

If that bothered him, Harry didn't show it. He squinted as if scrutinizing him, emerald eyes peeling back every wall he built around himself. Sirius swallowed worriedly, brushing back a few locks of hair from Harry's forehead as reassurance. He was baffled when Harry lifted his only maneuverable hand and brushed it lightly against Sirius' arm.

Suddenly, the child's eyes snapped open, larger than he believed humanly possible, glazed and unfocused like the glassy eyes of his ancient divination teacher. Sirius could feel the boy stiffen, and Harry seemed to stare at him, right through him.

"Harry!" Sirius shook him slightly.

Harry's eyes flickered. "You're… laughing…" he choked out, but that was so softly whispered that Sirius couldn't make out his words.

The remaining color drained from his face and left him ghastly white. He made a sharp jerk in an attempt to move away, but all he managed was a sharp gasp of pain.

"Harry, don't try to move!" Sirius said sharply.

Those words sent a jolt down the child's spine, as if they incurred a terrifying memory. He clutched the far edge of the bed with the undamaged arm, trying to drag his weakened body as far from the strange man as possible. He whimpered when Sirius took a step forward.

Unnerved by the response, Sirius reached out to clasp the child's arm. But Harry recoiled so violently that he snapped back. The edge of the colt caught the child completely by surprise. With a strangled cry, Harry tumbled to the floor. His shoulder scrapped against the edge of the bedside table with a dull bang, and he fell against the carpet in a tangled heap.


Alarmed, Sirius scrambled over the bed to get to his godson. But his frantic tone only frightened the boy even more. Harry whimpered, dragging himself against the bed and curling tightly defensively around himself. The pain from the fall and the panicked movement was obviously causing him unbearable agony. Harry was biting his lip to muffle the cries.

"Harry, no. Don't try to move, you're going to hurt yourself more," Sirius whispered almost imploringly.

"No!" Harry choked out between gasps. He shielded his face with his hands, pressing his back against the wall despite the fire lashing out. His eyes were tightly shut and his entire frame shook as if he was hiding from some horrible demon. "Stay away…"

Sirius stiffened, feeling as if someone had just dumped icy water in his stomach.

Harry's eyes were wide in terror, glazed with a strange gloom that a six year old should never have had or seen. He stared at him as if seeing somebody different altogether, mentally reliving a horror that a six year old should never have seen.

"Harry, I'm not going to hurt you." Sirius' words were so hoarse that it was barely recognizable. He knelt beside him, but every time he moved forward, Harry would flinch. Afraid to touch him and reluctant to leave him, he watched Harry agitatedly. In his drug induced delirium, Sirius wondered if it was really him that he saw.

"No… no…" Harry gasped out, his voice taking on a frantic tone. He cowered weakly in a futile attempt to hide. His expression twisted into a grimace at the cost it took just to speak. "You… you're Sirius…"

He didn't have the time to digest the shock, with a bruised and battered child huddling on the floor. Sirius wasn't sure whether to be relieved or upset for Harry recognizing him. He had hoped there was some familiarity, but the way the child reacted, he was baffled.

"Yes, that's my name," Sirius admitted with anxiety.

Harry shuddered, covering his ears. "Stay away… you're… evil."

Those words sent a stab of pain down his spine. Sirius drew a shuddering breath, taking a step back. Those were not the words he expected. Whatever stories that Harry was told must have conflicted with his memories; there was no other explanation for the child's response.

"Harry, listen to me, I'm not evil. What the others said to you was wrong, please listen to me," Sirius coaxed him as soothingly as he could.

"You killed… " Harry whispered frenziedly, pressing his hands against his ears so tightly that he was tearing at his hair.

Sirius flinched, turning away as Harry's accusing words seemed too painful to endure. He shook his head, running a hand over his face in frustration. "I didn't. Harry, I didn't kill anybody," Sirius trailed off, reluctant to give him the full details.

But Harry just shuddered, whether from pain or fear, he wasn't sure. He huddled in a small corner, act reminiscent of the small child fearful of being torn to pieces by a wild dog. But the position was straining his already tender ribs, tearing at the delicate skin on his back. The poorly clotted wounds had ripped at the brush against the table, noticeable stains seeped through Harry's tattered shirt. Sirius tensed at the sight, lightly pulling the slight form from the floor.

Sirius reached out, a hand hovering above the child's shoulder. But the moment he touched the thin shoulder, Harry startled and struggled.

"No! No, no, no, no!" Harry choked out. He buried his face in his arms as if as if blocking out a sight only he could see. He writhed helplessly, face contorted in agony at the ribs that he jolted, his body was twisted in a painful position in his attempt to move away.

"Harry, I'm not going to hurt you!" Sirius whispered. He pried the child's hands free with ease, the fear of further frightening the boy was quickly replaced by concern. He stopped him as he attempted to move away, easing the slight weight against him to keep the ribs from being jarred even further. But Harry all but screamed, entire body jerking as if someone had stabbed him. Sirius held him still, whispering quiet explanations, soothing words, and then finally pleading when Harry feebly struggled. But words that Sirius said seemed to past right through him. Abruptly, Harry fell limp, legs buckling beneath him as he collapsed.

Sirius caught him before he fell completely, startled at the change. But when the child's head lolled back against the crook of his arm, eyes closed in a fitful sleep, he found his throat too constricted to sigh in relief.

Harry didn't trust him. Harry didn't believe him.

With trembling hands, he dragged the blanket off the vacant bed. Gently, he wrapped the boy in its folds, wary of the inflamed and swelling arm. Even in his sleep, the child still shivered.

Sirius drew a deep breath and held it. Harry feared him, hated him even. Whatever stories the people fed him had instilled a fear in the boy, but the kind of reaction seemed beyond that. For a moment, it wasn't Sirius that Harry saw, but something else that represented a kind of horror in the child's mind. Sirius couldn't even imagine the things Harry endured through the few years of his time. He was so deeply scared, so scalded and burned from those experiences that Sirius wondered if he could ever lead a normal life again. The way Harry flinched from the slightest glare, the whispered word…

Carefully, Sirius brushed back the loose bandages, stained a dark red. A long gash was open and gaping, inflamed on the child's shoulder blade. The malnutrition nearly destroyed his immune system, and made him easily susceptible to cuts and bruises. He touched it lightly, examining the extent of the damage. He needed to call the doctor tonight…

Slowly so not to jar the child, Sirius stood and made his way to the dresser, piled with a mass of bandages and vials. He cleared the divan by carelessly kicking aside the coats and nested Harry on the surface. The child was thoroughly fatigued, and his skin blended into the bleached cushions with frightening similarity. He didn't even respond when Sirius peeled away the collar of his oversized shirt, and dabbed some stinging disinfectant onto the bleeding wound.

He knelt beside the divan, the chipped bedside table a gnawing into the small of his back. Harry had sunk past unconsciousness into sleep, eyes peacefully closed; the few hours of desperation, guilt, and defeat left him exhausted and emotionally drained. But Sirius couldn't bring himself to move. He let the child rest limply against his shoulder, distantly registering light that filtered through the drawn curtains.

Sirius never felt more defeated in his life. It was reliving James and Lily's death all over again, only it was their son he was losing. A trapped, lost six year old boy slowly fading away…

He closed his eyes wearily, resting his hand on the child's hair. He hadn't even considered Harry's reaction when he took him out of the Dursleys that night; he was too lost in his frustration, too lost in his anger to even care. But now with the child shielding away from him as if he was the murderer, Sirius felt as if he lost him all over again.

But even at the violent refutation, he still clasped the small child close. Lightly, he ran his fingers through the windblown hair, gently rocking the child back and forth.

He should take Harry to Remus, to Hogwarts; leave him in peace where he can be tended to without fear. He could make sure that Harry had a good home; he could make sure the child was happy. He could explain to Remus, and even if he was sent back to Azkaban, he would have found some semblance of peace. But He couldn't live with Harry hating him. He just couldn't…

With Harry's reaction, he was even more determined to make him understand. He would earn his trust, earn his affections as any parent should have done. He would be the godfather that Harry should always have had.


This was the scene later cropped, in which Sirius actually transforms into Padfoot when Harry's asleep and sort of replaces him since he seemed so insecure. But overall, it was too hard to manage and unnecessary, so it got killed off.

The past few days had honed his hearing to detect any little stir from the child. Sirius awoke to find Harry's eyes fluttering, his breathing deepening. Slowly, he cracked his eyelids open and blinked to adjust to the dimmed morning sun.

Sirius whined softly, pressing a wet muzzle against the child's hand. Harry was awake in an instant, lifting his head gingerly, and staring at the dog in disbelief. But he kept that up only for a few seconds before dropping back down heavily.

"Padfoot…?" Harry whispered incredulously.

Sirius wagged his tail, thumping it against the bed. Harry blinked, looking disoriented. It was confusing to wake up in a hotel room to find a dog that's suppose to be miles away.

"What…? How…?" Harry asked, squinting slightly.

Sirius bowed with a gesture that looked suspiciously like a shrug, and nudged Harry's hand again.

"What happened last night? I can't remember… I fell off the bed, I think. I can't remember what happened after that…" Harry whispered, mostly to himself.

Sirius perked up, frowning in confusion at those words. But Harry didn't seem concerned at all; he shook it off as if it was conventional.

"How did you get here? Where's he?" Harry mumbled as he scanned the room. It was hard, especially from his position on the bed, and he gave up quickly. He sank back against the pillows, and Sirius was surprised to see remnants of disappointment seeping into his eyes. "Did he leave? He… he left, didn't he?"

He abandoned me, didn't he?

Harry said none of those things, but the vulnerability of his tone betrayed it. With a sinking heart, Sirius realized how frightening it must be for a child to find himself in a completely foreign place with just a dog for company.

Sirius shook his head quickly, inwardly hesitant. Should he answer, should he tell? But what if Harry didn't accept it, and rejected Padfoot too? He wasn't sure if he could deal with that.

Harry was silent, staring at the curtained windows in a sort of quiet resignation. If Sirius' absence bothered him, he didn't show it. But his eyes darkened as if he was remembering something.

Sirius whined softly again, nuzzling the child's forehead reassuringly. Harry slowly smiled, although it seemed slightly forced, scratching him lightly behind the ears. He usually rubbed the top of the dog's head, but when his arm felt so sapped of energy, Harry just couldn't seem to move.

"I was so worried. I thought I'd never see you again," Harry whispered, giving the dog a fond smile. And Sirius couldn't help but give the boy a rather messy lick that made him cough and splutter. Harry made a face, and tried to retaliate by tugging at the dog's hair. "I think I overdid the shampooing. You still smell like flowers, Padfoot."

Sirius nipped at his hand teasingly, inwardly promising himself to dunk Harry in a basin of flowery soap once the boy was up and running again.

"You need another bath, Padfoot," Harry muttered, fingering the silky strands. "And a hair cut."

Sirius could almost see the gears turning in Harry's head. He shook his head hard, glaring at the child disapprovingly. But Harry was already pushing the covers back, dragging himself slowly to the edge of the bed. Barking softly in warning, Sirius caught his oversized shirt by the sleeve.

"But you need a bath," Harry pointed out, but he didn't resist when Sirius hauled him back into bed.

Harry shifted, making a move to sit, but the previous day left him exhausted and he sank against the bed flaccidly. Sirius disapprovingly shook his head, using his teeth to pull the blankets to his chin. He pressed a hand sized paw firmly against the sheets. Harry groaned, dropping his head back on the pillow. He was a lot more expressive with Padfoot around.

"You're not letting me get up," Harry wearily muttered.

Sirius nodded with a reproving glare. But it was still a relief to hear the child speaking so freely again.

The demons that haunted him the day before didn't leave its claws in Harry's mind. Rather, he bounced back from the memory relapse as if it was a common occurrence. Sirius inwardly frowned.

Harry pushed at his paw weakly, trying to tug the blankets free. But it cost too much energy, and he oozed into the bed again. "I'm so tired…" he grumbled, rubbing his eyes.

Sirius nuzzled his cheek sympathetically. Harry sighed in defeat, patting his head lightly. Sirius didn't have to wait long before the child's eyes were fighting to stay open.

The hand on his head slackened and fell limp, sliding down the long fur to rest beside a paw almost as large as itself. In a few minutes, Harry's breathing evened into slow, peaceful breaths, and the child was asleep.

Sirius jumped off the bed, careful not to jostle the covers. He landed on the floor with two feet instead of four paws. Sighing, he scooped up the bottles of hotel soap on his way to the shower.


This was a cropped scene from when Harry actually dreams about a certain conversation Remus had with Dumbledore through the fireplace. It later seemed unnecessary though, and got removed.

"What about Remus? Wouldn't he be angry? He's been trying to look for you."

"How do you know he's been trying to look for me?" Sirius asked.

Harry wrinkled his brow, a bit befuddled. "I don't know… I think it's a dream but I can't remember… Remus was at Mrs. Figg's; there was a fireplace and he was talking into it. The fire was green…" He sounded only partially awake with the distant tone and unfocused eyes.

Sirius nearly jumped to his feet in shock. How could Harry know? Unless the dream was a vision, and Harry was a divinator?

"What was he saying, do you remember?" Sirius asked carefully.

"Not really," Harry admitted diffidently. "But he was speaking to an old man…"

On any other day, Sirius would have laughed aloud at Harry's reference towards the headmaster, but the accuracy of the child's dream took all the humor out of it.

"He had blue eyes and a long white beard, right?"

Harry nodded quickly. "Remus was angry and confused at the same time. He didn't know why I was dead yet."

He should have told Remus, or at least sent an owl or left a note. His friend must be frantic with worry searching for any links to Harry's location. Could Remus suspect the truth, or did he still believe in his guilt?

Sirius sighed resignedly. "I'll tell him before we leave. I'll explain everything to him before we go to America."

They both fell into silence at that, Harry a bit awkward at the gloom Sirius found himself in. But Sirius forced a smile on his face, trying hard to change the subject.


There was a particular scene cropped between Remus' stay in their room and Sirius completely vanishing. Instead of standing on the patio, he was actually touring the nearby city. I'm not sure why I removed it, since I sort of got attached to it on an early first draft, but oh well… In this scene, Harry actually tells Sirius about his dream about his birthday.

"What do you think?" Sirius asked, pulling a shirt out of the rack.

Harry leaned forward slightly, his movements still heavily impaired. He no longer needed to squint with the new, titanium rimmed glasses. His left leg dangled limply in a thick cast that stretched to his knee, and with his left wrist strained, it was impossible for him to handle crutches. Sirius was forced to carry the child through the better part of the day, but it brought many smiles from old ladies across their path.

Pinching his face up in thought, Harry examined the accessory, "It looks like… the blue one Uncle Vernon wears…"

Sirius stuffed it back quickly.

Harry's recovery, although agonizingly slow to Sirius, surprised the doctor. He had expected hospitalization to be compulsory, but by the end of the week, declared the child well enough to make a trip outdoors. It would be beneficial in ways to give him a change of scenery, finally letting him breathe after total confinement. Although the doctor had more of a short sit in the sun in mind, rather than a whole tour of the city, Sirius took it to the extreme. He couldn't endure the look of yearning every time Harry peeked through the curtains, and when Harry insisted, couldn't help but give leeway.

He was a bit paranoid by the numerous 'what ifs' the doctor kept bringing up; he wasn't sure if that was a characteristic muggles followed or not. Just as a precaution, he pocketed half a bottle of painkillers and all of the antibiotics.

Sirius wasn't well acquainted with the location around their hotel, and ended up settling on street that reminded him oddly of Diagon Alley with the stores and the people.

Sirius had never really toured muggle towns past what Lily showed them, and that was years ago. By the look on Harry's face, he had never either. The child was wide eyed, staring at everything curiously. But to any bystander, they would have appeared to be just a normal family of a father and son, a bit battered and a bit starved, but still normal.

They prowled through the coffee shops, watch stores, small bookstores with musty books. They once passed a stand with hundreds of decorated fish bowls, and it took Sirius a good five minutes to realize they were candles. His first stop was to buy the boy some well deserved and badly needed clothes. He hadn't planned to buy himself any, but when Harry made the observation that they were from his dreaded uncle's wardrobe, it suddenly became a necessity.

He spent the better half of the hour entertaining Harry with odd muggle items through the stores. He hadn't really intended to take so long just buying a few shirts, but listening to Harry's comments were amusing.

"That one!" Harry pointed excitedly.

Sirius couldn't remember a time when Harry actually spoke so openly, or when he was so carefree. His shyness had disappeared around his godfather, and for some brief moments, acted like any other six year old. But the extreme paleness of his skin and the boniness of his frame said otherwise.

Sirius grinned in amusement, pulling out an odd Hawaiian colored shirt patched with motifs of various breeds of dogs.

"I don't know, Harry. It seems a bit… loud."

Harry drew a blank face, the figure of speech flying completely over his head. But he nodded anyway, leaning back against his godfather. Even though he didn't cry and beg like most children his age, the resigned nod to Sirius was far worse.

"Well, if you like it, I'll buy it," Sirius told him with a sigh. "But just don't ask me to wear it."

Harry grinned brightly, and Sirius wondered if he knew how much influence he had over his godfather. The hat rack caught his attention, and he scanned the shelves for something that would fit on an undersized six year old. Harry's unruly hair and oddly shaped scar was recognizable to every wizard, and since he didn't have a wand to cover it up, a hat was the next best thing. Sirius inwardly sighed as he scanned the rows of mismatched hats for something that would fit remotely on the child's head.

"You need a bath," Harry suddenly blurted out, tugging at a few strands of Sirius' long hair that tickled his cheek. His shyness was fading rapidly, replaced by the same carefree demeanor that he only treated Padfoot. "And a hair cut."

"Oh no, don't even think about it," Sirius groaned despairingly. "I couldn't get rid of that floral smell for a week afterwards."

"You didn't like it?" Harry asked innocently.

Sirius caught himself before he shouted a rather loud, 'no!' at the oblivious six year old. "Uhh," he raked his mind for some sort of plausible excuse that wouldn't upset the painfully shy boy. "There wasn't any other types? Arabella probably has hundreds."

Harry drew a blank look at the name. "I didn't check," he muttered, bowing his head sheepishly. "Padfoot didn't seem to mind…" he added almost as an afterthought. "… too much."

Sirius grinned, "So you like a dog better than your godfather?" he asked mischievously, chidingly poking Harry on the forehead.

Harry seemed to seriously consider that question; Sirius inwardly groaned. But the child settled on answering with a small smile and a light pat on his head, and Sirius couldn't help but laugh. The memories of Azkaban seemed so far away, and even Pettigrew lost his significance. Just then, nothing and no one else mattered but the child in his arms.

"This reminds me of that street," Harry suddenly whispered, watching the few customers scurry through their ways on the cobblestone path.

"What?" Sirius blinked, baffled.

"That street," Harry repeated. He twisted the edge of the cast with a hand, something he did whenever he was eager. "It has a lot of stores lining it, and people wearing long cloaks and pointed hats. There's this one store that had a broom in the window, and another with owls in it, and another with really thick and dusty books, and another tall white building off in the distance."

Diagon Alley? He hadn't told Harry about that place yet, not in that sort of detail…

Sirius cleared his throat quickly. "That place is in London, Harry. It's sort of a… store for wizards. How did you know about it?"

"Oh," Harry seemed vaguely interested and disappointed at the same time, but he hid it well. "I dreamt about it."

Sirius blinked, instantly curious. "What happened in that dream, do you remember?"

Harry hesitated. "It's not very clear, but I think…it was the summer, and it was really sunny. There were a lot of people." Harry's voice dimmed into muteness, as he scanned the street again. He seemed to want to say something, but hesitant at the same time. "You were in it. That's how I realized you were Padfoot."

Sirius' jaw dropped. "Me?"

Harry nodded. "But you were wearing a black cloak. We were walking down the street, and people were staring at us for some reason. You weren't very happy with that though, you kept glaring back. And you stopped beside the store with the broom in the window, and you asked me… you asked me…," Harry trailed off, chewing his lip.

"What did I say?" Sirius asked softly.

Harry paused, his piercing emerald eyes watching Sirius timidly. "You asked me… what I wanted for my birthday."

Sirius couldn't find the words to speak for a long time after.

To walk down Diagon Alley without Padfoot's disguise as if nothing had ever happened, celebrating Harry's birthday… that was too much to hope for. But could it be possible?

Harry was silent as well; he seemed to realize that Sirius was caught up in his own thoughts. His godfather did that very often. His dream meant far more to Sirius than he understood.

Finally, Sirius broke into a smile, lightly ruffling the child's hair.

"What do you want for your birthday?" Sirius asked.


This was the very sad alternate scene when Remus punches Sirius, but gets Harry instead, or rather, the child moved in front to take the blow. I don't know what I was thinking then. I think CD had too much influence on this scene…

He wanted to strike Sirius. He wanted to slam his fist against his face for all the agony he had placed everyone through, for James and Lily, for Harry, for countless other people. There was a shuffle and a blur. His fist connected with bony ridges and there was a cry of surprise. Remus found himself standing numbly by the low table, his hand tingling at the contact. Sirius was wide eyed as he reached for the child sprawled awkwardly on the floor. Harry lay unmoving, his eyes squeezed shut in pain as he clutched at his shoulder in agony.

Harry moved in front… didn't- want him to hurt Sirius, his parent's murderer! Remus was torn between guilt and rage at the thought.

"Harry! Oh god, what…. Why…?" Sirius choked out, gently scooping the child from the carpeted floor. He looked more distraught than Remus ever remembered as he cradled the boy against him. His hand shook when he brushed hair from the boy's face. "Harry, Harry. Are you…? Does it hurt? Why did you…? Let me see, it's okay," Sirius repeated in a low whisper, Remus all but forgotten as he coaxed his godson.

Carefully, he pried Harry's hand from his shoulder, gingerly tracing the rapidly growing bruise. The lycanthrope enhanced strength was far too damaging for a child's brittle frame to endure; in just a few minutes, it grew into a dark red across the skin.

"Why did you do that? What did you think you were doing?" Sirius muttered softly, looking pained.

Harry seemed all but responsive to his godfather's words. His eyes were shut as if the world was falling down like rain around him, and tremors wracked his thin form in small spasms. He whimpered at the lightest touch, flinching away. The memories were back to haunt him, and a relapse was threatening to return.

The sight sent the weight of his mistake crashing back down. Remus dropped to his knees beside the pair, the wand lying harmlessly on the floor. It was a foolish action that could result in horrible repercussions, but Remus barely even gave it a thought.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Harry, are you alright?" Remus whispered shakily.

But at his approach, Sirius wrapped an arm defensively around the boy as if he wanted to protect Harry from Remus as well. Remus drew back guiltily.

"I didn't mean to. I… why were you trying to help Sirius? Do you even understand what he's done?" Remus asked miserably.

Harry's eyes snapped open, and he grasped Sirius' sleeve desperately. "No! He didn't to it! He didn't!"

Remus' stomach clinched at the sight, and he could have landed another punch on the traitor's face if it wasn't for the child between them. "What sort of lies as he been telling you?" Remus said, his voice dangerously soft.

"Remus, if you would just listen to me for a moment…"

"What sort of lies have you been telling the poor boy?!" Remus hissed, trying to pierce Sirius right through with his glare. He reached for his wand blindly, unable to break the gaze. "You've been using his loneness against him, taking advantage of him when all Harry had his entire life was neglect… you…"

"Shut up!!" Sirius shouted, crushing Harry tightly against him. "I haven't been telling him any lies!! Listen to me…"

He broke off abruptly when Remus held the wand right between his eyes. The wolf's skin was ghastly pale, and arm shook violently. But a determined gleam shone with the fury raging in his eyes.

"Don't!" Harry gasped out, struggling. But Sirius' restraining hand kept him from sitting up. The child's hand snaked out and grasped Remus' wand firmly, dragging it towards himself. Remus nearly dropped it in shock.

"No! Stop, Harry," Sirius said almost pleadingly. He loosened the child's grip with ease. "Cast a sleeping charm on him, Remus. He's going to hurt himself if he keeps trying to move like this."

"No!!" Harry trashed feebly in his arms as he reached for Remus again. "You promised him! You promised him you wouldn't do anything! You agreed to him that you'd take us to Hogwarts and listen to what Padfoot has to say!"

"What are you talking about, Harry?" Remus asked, baffled.

"That man in the fireplace! The old man with white hair and blue eyes… him…"

Remus paled. "Dumbledore."

"Yes! He told you to tread carefully… not to do anything…" Harry's words dissolved in a fit of coughs. He hid his face against Sirius' shirt, his shoulders wrenching painfully.

Sirius rubbed his back soothingly, trying hard not to aggravate the partially healed wounds. "That's enough, Harry. Stop trying to talk."

Remus could feel his jaw dropping, stunned. "How…?"


This was a hit and miss version of Remus' visit, minus Minerva. He gets a little epiphany like in book three, 'cause I wanted to draw some parallels, but it sort of occurred to me how illogical it was.

And then, as if the light finally shone into his dark cell, a thought occurred to him that made Remus want to stab himself at his ignorance.

Remus backed away, running a weary hand through his hair. "Sirius, was it you?"

Sirius paused, looking at him with an expression of hope and disbelief filtering through his pale eyes, his arm tightening around the sleeping child.

"No," Sirius whispered, very softly.

"Did you switch, and didn't tell me?" Remus asked, dropping his wand arm to his side. He kept his voice deceptively calm, but his mind was a torrent of thoughts that threatened to overwhelm him.

Stiffly, Sirius nodded.

Remus exhaled sharply, catching the edge of the desk and leaning against it heavily. That was twice he had been blind. Twice he made mistakes that could have had horrible consequences that ripped away the last two people he had left in the world.

With a trembling hand, he drew a pearl-like stone from the depths of his pocket.

"Portkey to Dumbledore's office," Remus explained simply, eyes downcast. "You need to tell everyone. Dumbledore will understand."


There was another version of Sirius' confession, without Minerva. He just port keys straight into Dumbledore's office. This is about two chapters long though. Harry's personality was off completely, everything was a bit offkey. This entire scene just is... I donnuo, maybe not quite dramatic? Thoughtprovoking? Not the climax as it should be? It was just flawed...

Sirius touched the portkey without hesitation.

There was the familiar tug. The room swam and blurred like a pool of water before jumping back into focus in a completely different territory. The richly decorated, gold papered walls of Dumbledore's office was a sharp contrast to the dull hotel room miles away.

For a long moment, no one spoke. Sirius scanned the room with a forced mask of apathy despite the lurching in his stomach. Dumbledore sat behind his desk with a grim sort of reserve. His eyes lost all it's welcoming twinkle, and he grasped his wand firmly. Beside him, Minerva stood, a pile of parchment at her feet. Her hand was gripping her wand so tightly that her knuckles were bloodless. It was impossible to tell Remus' expression as he turned away.

"Sirius Black!" she bitterly whispered. She took in Harry's predicament worriedly, apprehensive that the convict would use the child against them.

Remus took a defensive step forward when she threatened to go for her wand. Sirius dropped his gaze immediately. The sort of reaction from his occassionally stern, somewhat nutters, but inherently kind professor was difficult to endure.

"I see you found them, Remus," Dumbledore said carefully, eyes never moving from Sirius' face.

Minerva raised her wand warningly. "Black, I don't know what you're planning to do with him, but please put Harry down," she said with some amount of anxiety.

Sirius bit back a defensive retort, impulsively hugging Harry closer. The child made a small sound in the back of his throat, hand tightening on his arm as he was jostled. That caught Sirius' attention immediately, and he glanced down at the boy.

"Harry?" Sirius asked softly, brushing some strands of hair from his face.

Harry's emerald eyes were wide when he looked up him; he had obviously been awake earlier. He seemed frightened and shaken, and the transfiguration professor misinterpreted it completely.

"Black, put the child down!" Minerva said with forced steadiness.

Dumbledore stood up as if preparing to speak some calming words to stunt the escalating tension, but her lips were already forming silent words.

A bright red streak filled the room for a brief instant.

Sirius instinctively ducked, shielding Harry against him. The burning curse nipped at his neck and sank futilely in the brick wall overhead.

"What were you doing?!" Sirius nearly shouted, crushing Harry against his shirt as he spun around to face his former professor. He was too infuriated to notice the light was a harmless stunning spell that would never have caused any lasting damage. "You could have hurt Harry with that curse!"

Minerva took a step back, caught off guard at the accusation. But her lips thinned into a line quickly, and she narrowed her eyes.

"No!" Harry choked out, turning fearfully from the strange woman. He buried his face in the folds of Sirius' shirt. "No, no, no, no…"

Sirius ran his fingers through Harry's hair, trying to sooth the trembling boy. "Harry, it's okay. Everything's alright."

Harry shook his head, his face still hidden against Sirius. But as Sirius gently began extracting himself from the child's desperate grasp, he made a vague sound of protest.

Sirius inwardly sighed, carefully prying the child's bandaged hand from his shirt and held it in his own. "She's not going to hurt you. They're here to help you," he whispered as reassuringly as he could. "They're going to take you to the hospital wing. I have to go for a little bit, but I'll see you again very soon."

Harry was silent, chewing his lip uneasily. He stole apprehensive glances at the people in the room. Sirius smoothed the child's hair comfortingly, oblivious to the piercing eyes of the others in the room.

A light brush on his shoulder made Sirius startle, and he was surprised to find Dumbledore standing stolidly beside them. The headmaster's eyes were dull with weariness, the lines on his face more pronounced. But they stared at him with a quiet inquisitiveness without hatred or distrust, like Harry's eyes whenever he dreamt.

Sirius found himself desperate to spill his story, desperate for them to understand. But with Harry still huddling against him, he was hesitant. He chewed his lip uneasily, averting his gaze.

"Harry needs to go to the infirmary," Sirius whispered, shifting the child so he rested more comfortably. Harry paled when the meaning of his words sunk in.

Dumbledore raised a halting hand, "Sirius, I know you have a lot to say, and I understand why you would not want someone as young as Harry to endure the truth. But there are some questions I would like to ask the child."

"Professor, if its about those… relatives," Sirius choked on the word, arm tightening around the child as if trying to shield him. "then, don't. Harry's been through enough without having to relive it."

Minerva was stunned into silence. Remus sank into a nearby chair, hands clenching into shaking fists.

Dumbledore's eyes clouded even further. "No, it isn't," he said, shaking his head resignedly. He bent down to meet at eyelevel with the six year old, and Harry peeked through the folds of Sirius' shirt timidly. For a long moment, neither of them spoke, a old man and a young child watching each other with eyes mirroring in intensity, as if entrapped in a discourse only the two could hear. Slowly, a warm smile spread over Dumbledore's face. "You have a very gifted child, Harry."

Harry blinked, perplexed, but some of his apprehension faded in the presence of the headmaster.

"Harry, do you trust Sirius?" Dumbledore asked quietly.

"Yes," Harry replied without hesitation, hand clenching his godfather's arm firmly. There was a stubborn glint in his eyes Sirius only saw in James before.


At that question, Harry faltered. His gaze fell from Dumbledore's, and he fidgeted uneasily. "I… I don't know. I just do, I don't know why." Harry furrowed his brow in thought, twisting an edge of his shirt between his fingers. "He won't lie to me. He doesn't want to tell me some things, but I know he wouldn't lie."

"If I told you that Sirius was guilty, would you believe me?"

Sirius stiffened, blood draining from his face. But Harry seemed unaffected, having fallen back into a brooding silence again.

"No," Harry said finally, his clasp amazingly strong for a child so feeble. He held Sirius' arm in a death grip.

Sirius stared at the child, a bit surprised. He never realized how attached Harry was to him before; the boy was always so silent. Sirius smiled slightly, it was a relief to know that even if no one else believed his innocence, Harry would still trust him. He couldn't bring himself to look at the expressions on Minerva and Remus' face.

Dumbledore smiled again, a knowing, veiled smile that seemed to mean much more. "Why?"

"Because you would be lying."

Sirius sat beside Remus in the thick chairs that lined one side of Dumbledore's office, absentmindedly rubbing Harry's undamaged hand for warmth. The room was uncomfortably chilly with their thin clothes, but he was too distracted to speak of it.

'Because you would be lying. You already think he's innocent.'

Harry's words still echoed in his mind. Everyone had been deathly silent since Harry's words. Even after Dumbledore allayed the child with a whispered sleeping charm, he stood unmoving, one hand resting on his desk, deep in thought. Sirius was bursting with impatience to speak, but at the same time, reluctant. Shattering the silence was like shattering the perfect silence of peace before a storm.

There was a rustle as Remus stood. Sirius snapped back into attention when a tattered cloak fell loosely across his lap, covering Harry in its folds. Thin hands, pale at the knuckles, arranged it snugly around the child, its edges draping to his knees. Sirius gave his friend a slight nod of gratitude, but it wasn't acknowledged. Remus' face was carefully stoic as he stared back, but his eyes betrayed the confusion.

"Remus, you have to listen to me. I've been running too long for you not to understand," Sirius whispered; those words made no sense once he said them, but it seemed to in his mind.

Remus visibly paled, but refused to avert his eyes.

Those words seemed to splinter the fragile silence, and Dumbledore straightened as if realizing something.

"Sirius, were you the Potter's secret keeper on Halloween?" Dumbledore asked.

Sirius drew a deep, calming breath, too weary to be relieved at the preciseness of Dumbledore's questions. He turned his attention to the small form resting against him. "No, I asked James… to switch to Pettigrew, just the night before. I thought it was the perfect ruse. Voldermort would never suspect someone as weak, unsuspecting as Wormtail, but…"

"Pettigrew was the spy?" Minerva whispered incredulously. "But what happened at the street…"

"When I realized, I tried to track him down," Sirius nearly growled, clenching his fist and grinding it against the chair. He scowled darkly, "But the moment he noticed me, he screamed out to the entire street and blew up the street with the wand behind his back. He transformed into a rat and ran into the gutter."

Dumbledore was silent, his gaze fixed unwaveringly on the convict in the middle of his office. His countenance was deceptively neutral, but his eyes lit with a triumphant gleam. But Sirius couldn't bring himself to look at his friend at all.

"I suppose that's how I managed to stay sane in Azkaban," Sirius added, mostly to himself. "I knew I wasn't guilty, and that wasn't a happy thought. The dementors couldn't take it away from me."

"But his finger?" Minerva asked shakily.

"He cut it off himself, didn't he?" Remus spoke up suddenly.

Sirius glanced at Remus, surprised. He believed him? It hardly seemed possible. He had no proof, just a story to claim his innocence.

"But Harry's picture," Remus asked quietly. "Why did you rip it?"

Sirius frowned at the memory. "That fat excuse of a muggle was in it."

The room was subdued in a thick hush after that as everyone slowly absorbed the news. Minerva sank into a chair when her legs seemed to be threatening to give out. Dumbledore' eyes darkened in defeat, but there was a strange reprieve in his demeanor. He examined Sirius intently for a moment with a restrained hopefulness, but without proof or witnesses, it was difficult to accept such a profoundly different story so abruptly. But he was well acquainted with his former pupil's character, and he understood.

Sirius must have noticed the dark shadows in his eyes, because he spoke hastily again. "I'll take the truth serum."

Dumbledore slowly shook his head. "No, that's unnecessary, Sirius. I believe that you are telling the truth," He stood up as if having been relieved of a horrible burden. "Remus, could you please call back the search team and tell them that Harry has been found unharmed; give them no further details. Sirius, please take the guestroom behind my office in the meantime. I'll bring Harry to the infirmary," The gleam was back in his blue eyes, and it was as if the two weeks of tense worry had never occurred.

Remus lingered by the door, looking as if he wanted to speak, but afraid at the same time. Feeling Sirius' eyes on him, he met his gaze slowly. A small smile, barely discernable, stretched over his face, but it lit his countenance that gave him the appearance of that distant teenager. He inclined his head with an apologetic gesture, and vanished through the open door.

Remus believed him. As long as Remus and Harry trusted him, Sirius would have been satisfied even if no one else did.

Harry was afraid.

The last memory that lingered in his mind was the old man asking him if Sirius could be trusted, the fear of the wolf person taking him away, and the next moment, he was staring up at a whitewashed ceiling. The ceiling was unfamiliar from the low tan of the hotel room, far larger and far more intimidating. The room was deafeningly quiet, so quiet that Harry was sure he could hear the blood pounding in his ears.

That was when he realized something was different.

Harry sat up, scarcely away of the bleached sheets that covered him, and the cotton shirt that hung on him like a blanket. There was no ranking flash of pain through his ribs; no throb in his wrist. It didn't even hurt breathing. Confused, Harry pulled back his sleeve. The splotches of blue and purple were still imprinted in his skin, but it stung only mildly.

But that was the last thing on Harry's mind. Sirius was gone, Padfoot was gone! He was the only person who ever sat at his bedside patiently, and touched him with a fatherly affection. He was the only person never yelled at him, screamed at him, and hit him. They took him away, and he would never see him again. A wetness stung in his eyes at the thought.

"… should be able to clear all of this with the ministry," came a voice of an amiable, old man. He sounded familiar, but Harry couldn't recall his name.

"Dumbledore, are you sure about this?" said a young man, obviously concerned.

Moony. That was Moony! Or was it Remus?

Harry sighed softly in relief at the familiar voice, although a small part of him was upset with him for hitting Sirius. But he believed that his godfather was innocent; that was enough to melt the frustration.

"It's impossible, now that we've gone this far. We've involved too many in our search, and even if we tell them that Harry's been found, they will ask questions. I'm trying as hard as I can to keep the news of Sirius out of the light unless I know that they are trustworthy, but in case they do catch wind of this, I want to make sure that Sirius can be defended."

Remus was silent, but he must have appeared rueful because the other man quickly spoke again.

"Remus, I shouldn't have let any innocent man to suffer the fate that Sirius had, but I will ensure that no more unjust harm should come to him," the man's tone carried a tone of calm determination.

The footsteps approached, their shoes clicking softly against the thick rug spread over stone bricks. The curtain shielding his bed from view slowly drew aside as if the person was trying very hard to be silent.

The voices abruptly stopped.

Harry shrank back against the wall, eyes darting between Remus and the ancient man fearfully. It was that man, old but impossibly wise. His lined face spoke of a youthful vigor, and his blue eyes were extraordinarily bright as if he had been relieved of a burden. His hair was pearl white, and hung to his ankles; Harry was suddenly reminded of the fictional story books that his school teacher would read to the class. Harry remembered their conversation a few minutes, or was it hours ago? The man was strange; he knew that he could be trusted, but his emotions were too veiled for Harry to understand.

"Hello, Harry. How are you doing?" Dumbledore asked carefully. His twinkling eyes just drew trust like a magnet.

Nervously, Harry wrung the blankets as he sat as far away from the two as possible. He wasn't as frightened of strangers as he was before, but he was still uncomfortable. And at Sirius' absence, he was even more uneasy. Stiffly, he nodded, eyes scanning the hospital wing for the familiar figure, but paled when Sirius was no where in sight.

Remus tentatively touched his hand, but Harry jerked his arm back as if burned.

"It's alright, Harry. We're not going to hurt you," Remus whispered reassuringly.

Harry relaxed only slightly; his words so reminiscent of Sirius' that he found himself believing them. But it wasn't that he was afraid of them, he was worried about Sirius.

"Where's Padfoot?" Harry blurted out, turning to Remus pleadingly.

Dumbledore raised an eyebrow at the nickname, but Remus grinned, drawing a chair by the child's bedside.

"He's in the guestroom behind Dumbledore's office. Don't worry, everything will be cleared up soon," Remus said as reassuringly as possible. But Harry wasn't alleviated.

"Remus, would you like to speak to Harry while I check up on some issues at the ministry?" Dumbledore asked with a knowing smile. He disappeared behind a fold of a curtain as if already aware of his former pupil's answer.

Remus lingered in the chair, watching him with eyes clouded with pain and regret. Harry returned the gaze questioningly, unsure of what to say.

"How are you feeling, Harry?" Remus asked finally, averting his eyes as if realizing the discomfort he was causing the child.

"Alright," Harry answered automatically. Sirius had asked him that so many times that his response was already honed.

"Did Sirius already tell you about…. this?" Remus said, gesturing at the general direction of the room overhead.

Despite his vagueness, Harry understood. He nodded, still trying to overcome his unease.

"About Peter? Did he ever tell you about Peter Pettigrew?" Remus asked, a shadow passing over his face.

The man with the black eyes? He saw that man in a myriad of dreams and never understood his significance beyond the fact that he was evil. Sirius never mentioned him, and he knew enough not to ask. Harry shook his head.

Remus gave an audible sigh of relief, sinking back in his chair. "What did he tell you about our world?"

"Quidditch," Harry responded with the first word that came to his mind. He was a bit caught off guard when Remus' lips quirked upwards in a large grin that made him look years younger, coughing as if he was trying to stifle laughter.

"Sirius has been taking good care of you, hasn't he?" Remus murmured, although he seemed to be speaking more to himself.

"He's always asking if I'm okay, always making sure I'm eating enough, or if I'm comfortable," Harry said quickly, feeling an urge to defend his godfather. "He tries really hard, but he's really tired; he didn't sleep for several days. But he tells me its okay. He doesn't want me to be unhappy… but he's always sad. I think it's because of me…" the child trailed off, looking downcast and he wrung the edge of a blanket between his fingers. "I apologize, but… he just becomes more upset. Not angry, just… sad."

Harry fell silent, blinking back the stinginess in his eyes. He knew that something was bothering Sirius, but he didn't understand. His godfather had done everything he could think of just for him, Harry desperately wished he could help him too. But…

A hand on his shoulder drew him from his thoughts. Remus gave the child a reassuring smile, but it was laced with sympathy and remorse. "Don't worry about it, Harry. Sirius just doesn't want you to worry. Everything will be okay very soon."


This was the original draft version of chapter 29 and 30 which was a horrible pain. This was written right after I edited Cheating Death, and it drew too many parallels and ended up being a regurgitation. Plus, too many issues were involved that was completely irrelevant in WS. For example, James and the issue of betrayal. It played a part, but it was never the focus in WS, and especially in a turning point, it became too much of a sore thumb. Plus, Harry dropped out, and Remus was never addressed. It just got too tedious and frustrating. But anyway, here it is and promise not to laugh too much…

It was black.

That was all he could see. Darkness on every side, darkness everywhere he looked, darkness lacing his fingers, darkness overshadowing his eyes.

Sirius took a small step forward, musing as the darkness beneath his feet rippled like pools of water. But it made no sound as he placed his weight on it, and stood resolutely firm. Sirius took another step, and another, and another, just so he could amuse himself by watching the solid water.

If this was hell, it was boring.

He had hoped he would be able to see James and Lily at least, but there was nothing. But he probably didn't deserve heaven, and if he did, James and Lily wouldn't want to see him. He had failed Harry. He let Harry die.

Sirius fell to his knees.

The water churned violently, but held firm. Numbly, Sirius watched his reflection stare back at him. His hair was ragged, his eyes dead. He looked horrible to even his standards, which had significantly lowered since Azkaban. But not that it mattered anymore.

He deserved this place. He deserved to suffer, just as he did in Azkaban. He deserved to rot in darkness for eternity, after all that he did to James, to Lily, to Harry. He just hoped Wormtail wasn't here too.

Damn that rat. Damn him!!

Sirius covered his face with his hands, tensing his fingers so harshly that he clawed as his skin. The jagged wound, slit across his throat of the young… too young child, was burned into his eyelids. His fault. His fault!! He never failed to drag the innocent child into trouble. If he had taken care of him, protected him, kept his promise, then Harry would never have been hurt. He would never had have to die.

Perhaps if he never escaped…? No, then Harry would still be in the care of those abusive relatives. He should have escaped sooner, yes, and done something. Something to help him!

Should have told Harry about Peter. Should have strangled that rat to death in the beginning. Should have helped Harry sooner.

Distantly, Sirius noted, with some grimness, that he was crying. Strange, really. He hadn't cried since the night James and Lily died. Blinding, hot tears that threatened to rip him apart. He was sobbing uncontrollably in his hands, out of guilt, anger, fury all directed against himself. He didn't even care that he was a twenty-five year old adult who survived the horrors of Azkaban.

Sirius drew a shuddering gasp and fell silent.

He was still, eyes downcast. He wanted to move but had nowhere to go. He wanted to leave but didn't dare. He wanted to rot where he knelt but didn't think he deserved the decency.

A hand patted him lightly on the head.

Sirius stilled.

Very slowly, he turned, letting his head fall back with the pull of gravity. A man with wild dark hair and round brass glasses was beside him, kneeling in imitation to him. He examined Sirius carefully, face growing more and more gloomy as he took in his appearance.

Sirius breath caught in his throat, eyes widening in disbelief.

"Harry…?" he whispered shakily.

The man frowned, "It's James, you dolt," his words were chiding, but he was truly concerned. "I'm about three times older. Geez, Sirius, how can you get me mixed up with a six year old?"

Sirius froze. For what seemed like hours, he just stared.

"James?" Sirius echoed, dazed.

"Are you alright in there?" James asked, rapping Sirius teasingly on the head.

"I have no clue," Sirius answered truthfully. He leaned back, ready to sink into the blinding coat of self-torture again, but James stopped him with a pointed glare.

"That's it? No ecstatic hello? No hug and tell me what a wonderful friend I was? No questions as to why the hell I'm even here?" James grumbled indignantly. "Some greeting I get. Hello to you too, Padfoot."

Sirius drew a shuddering breath, swaying dangerously as if James' words were rocks. He caught his friend's arm in a death grip, letting his head drop as if his neck was slit and broken. "I… I'm sorry," he whispered, feeling his eyes sting and blur. "I'm so sorry."

James startled, his lighthearted façade slipping altogether. That was obviously not what he was expecting. He watched his friend apologetically, before patting Sirius's arm as assurance, "You've never been blamed."

"No," Sirius choked out. "I killed you. I killed Lily. It should never have been you. I should have died a long time ago…"

It would have spared Harry…

James' expression fell. "Sirius, you didn't kill Lily and I. Voldemort did. There was no way you could have known that Peter was the spy."

"I told you to switch," Sirius continued as if James' words passed right through him. "I sold you out… made Harry an orphan…"

"And you had to endure five years in hell for something you didn't do," James finished. He sat down, eyeing Sirius' hutched form worriedly. "If I hadn't placed such a burden on you, you would have been alright. If I had chosen Dumbledore, things would have been okay. I'm sorry."

Sirius didn't reply.

"But then Voldemort might not have disappeared, and we're all would have been dead later anyway. I suppose something good came out of it," James said thoughtfully.

Sirius glanced up sharply, eyes narrowed in anger. "Nothing good came out of that!" Sirius hissed. "Harry became an orphan. He lost any hope of ever having a family. How can you put it aside so easily?"

It was James' turn to fall silent. Sirius averted his gaze, tapping idly at the glassy water. Dully, he marveled at how firm yet yielding the silky rock was. His tear streaked, hollow gaze stared back at him, blurred by the reflection.

"Thank you for taking care of him, Padfoot," James said finally.

"Some job I did…" he whispered bitterly. Another thought struck him, and he shook himself free of that devouring guilt. "Is this the heaven? Am I dead?"

James smiled in relief when some coherency entered his voice. "No, you're not."

Sirius' head dropped in disappointment. "This is hell then? Why are you in hell, Prongs? Those pranks couldn't have been that horribly condemned."

James discreetly cleared his throat. "This isn't hell either. This is your mind."

Sirius grunted, taking his words as some sort of twisted joke but deciding to play along. "Am I that boring?"

James sighed in exasperation. "I came all the way here to visit you! Would you please take me seriously?" Sirius grunted again.

"Sirius, listen to me. This place isn't exactly your mind, but its where your mind takes you when you want to die. It's like the place between the two extremes, but you're not dead," James said urgently, gripping his friend firmly on the shoulder in an attempt to draw him from his gaze. But Sirius just shrugged him away.

"If you're here to convince me to go back, then it's not going to work," Sirius murmured numbly. He could hardly summon the attention to even care with his dead friend in front of him. If he could draw his thoughts together, he would have laughed in amusement.


"Let me be!" Sirius snapped irritably.

"So you can drown in your self-guilt? Sirius that's not…"

James broke off when Sirius jerked convulsively, reaching up to grasp his wrist in a bone crushing grip. There was a wild glint in his eyes that betrayed just how close he was to snapping completely.

"James, don't you understand?" Sirius whispered brokenly, "I killed your son."

A brittle silence followed his words. Sirius dropped James' wrist jerkily, shoulders slumping in defeat. He couldn't bring himself to face his best friend.

James drew a long, slow breath. "Sirius, that's not true."

"I left him to die," Sirius repeated, tone taking on a desperate edge. "I left him, neglected him when he needed me the most, and he died! I practically killed him with my own hands."

"That's not true!" James said sharply. "Sirius, Harry isn't dead…"

Sirius startled, jerking his head up, surprise and disbelief written over his face. Soundlessly, he opened his mouth and closed it.

"But… I saw," he whispered, backing away hesitantly. "James…"

"I'm not lying!" James said, sounding exasperated at just the thought. "I won't lie to you on matters like these. Harry's not dead, but he's not exactly alive either. He's lost, just like you, but unlike you, I can't reach him."

"What are you talking about?" Sirius asked, his glazed eyes finally beginning to clear. "What's wrong with Harry?"

"He doesn't want to go back, like you," James said, sinking back against the glassy floor dejectedly. "He probably thinks that you're dead."

"What? Where is he?" Sirius straightened, staring at James with a sort of desperation. "Can I see him?"

"I don't know," James admitted hesitantly. "I couldn't find him, but you might."

Sirius didn't stop to question the vagueness of James' words. He didn't wait for him to finish his sentence before he was already dragging himself to his feet, scanning the dark expanse around him. But he had only begun to look before a stark white in a distance caught the corner of his eye.

A small figure, clothed in oversized hospital clothes of bleached white, stood stiffly. He looked lost and out of place at the harsh contrast of white against black. Even with his back towards them, Sirius could recognize that ruffled hair and slight frame anywhere.

"Harry?" Sirius spoke softly, but the empty expanse scattered his voice and amplified it. He felt more than saw James scramble to his feet behind him. Impulsively, he ran across the black water.

Harry didn't respond at his voice, nor did he react at all. His glasses were gone, and his faulty vision blurred and smeared the endless black like some artist easel. He lay against the glass sprawled on his side, a mockery of the position he lay in the red room hours before, bleeding and dying. Sirius cringed inwardly; in a moment, he had lifted the child and enveloped him in a warm embrace.

Harry fell flaccidly against him, sagging against his shoulder as if his bones had given away.

Sirius drew back, alarmed. He cupped the child's cheek, calling his name softly under his breath, but Harry was limp as a broken doll. His emerald eyes were glazed and unfocused, and as Sirius tilted his head to one side, stared right through him as if he was invisible.

"No, no, no, don't do this," Sirius almost pleaded, voice shaky as he brushed a few rebellious strands of hair out of his eyes. "Harry? Hey, say something. It's me, it's Padfoot. Harry?"

Harry was silent, eyes deadened.

"No…" Sirius breathed in a hopeless whisper, sinking to his knees. The child wilted flaccidly against him, as if the body he cradled was only a small sack of shapeless bones. His mind was a muddled heap of confusions and questions. He didn't know where he was, why he was there, and why he wasn't dead when he should have been. It hardly seemed to matter. There was only one reverberating thought in his mind.

It was all his fault. Everything…

"No…" Sirius repeated, his throat so constricted it was painful to speak. He buried his face in Harry's unruly hair, too drained to even cry. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry…"

There was a tentative hand on his shoulder, but Sirius was only distantly aware of it.

"You should never have trusted me, Harry. I just failed you… I always fail you…" Sirius continued desperately.


Sirius stilled, but couldn't bring himself to look up.

"Sirius," James repeated, more urgently this time.

"It's over, isn't it?" Sirius asked quietly, meeting James' eyes dazedly. "Everything's all over…"

"No, Sirius, that's not true," James said, gaze firm and unwavering.

"Then what's wrong with him?" Sirius whispered, traces of desperation making way into his countenance. "What's wrong?"

But James' expression told Sirius he was baffled and devastated.

"That's… I… I don't know," James' voice was strained with suppressed emotions. He reached forward with an unsteady hand, but held it above Harry's shoulder as if he was afraid to touch him. "I… I can't see him."

"What?" Sirius narrowed his eyes, but his stomach plummeted as a sneaking suspicion made its way into his mind. "Harry's dead, isn't he?" he whispered, lightly brushing his fingers over the oddly shaped scar on the child's forehead.

"No," James whispered, gaze not shifting from the bundle in his arms as if struggling to make out the image of his son. "I can't see him because Harry doesn't want me to. You can only see the people you want to see here."

"What do you mean?" Sirius asked distractedly, arm tightening around unresponsive child. "Harry's not responding to anything. I don't think he can even see me. He is…"

"Sirius, if Harry didn't want to see you, then you wouldn't even see him. And people who die do not come here," James smiled again, more sad and wistful. "He must be very attached to you."

Sirius throat was too dry to speak. As if reassuring himself, he ran his fingers through the child's hair steadily. It was strange, carrying Harry when James was right in front of him. Harry didn't even spare James a second glance the moment he was with his godfather. Without his glasses, the world came to him in an indefinite blur. Harry only buried his face deeper against Sirius shoulder as if trying to hide from a stranger. Sirius swallowed uneasily; he couldn't help but wonder what his father felt; it must be like losing his son.

As if reading his thoughts, James cut him off with a pointed stare. "No. Don't remind him, Sirius, not even when you go back. He doesn't need to be constantly haunted by the memories of his dead parents."

Sirius shook his head, his mind on a different track altogether. "James, I…"

He broke off when he felt the slight form stir feebly, a soft moan muffled against his shirt. Harry's eyes flickered, eyelids falling shut as his head dropped against the crook of his neck.

"You have to go," James repeated firmly, tearing his eyes from his son with obvious effort. He took a step back, purposefully distancing himself from them both. "Harry must have really taken a blow before coming here. You may not feel it, but staying here too long damages your physical body. Harry won't be able to withstand it at his age. You have to get him out quickly."

Sirius chewed his lip, trying to make sense of the stray thoughts in his mind but unable to place any into words.

James looked pained for a moment, but he covered it quickly with a forced smile. "Go on, Sirius. You can't stay. You have to at least take Harry back. He's too young to be here."

Sirius glanced at the child huddling against the folds of his shirt, then at James uncertainly. He raked his mind for something so say, anything, to his wronged friend. There were a million things left unspoken, and a million that he had yet to explain.

"James, I'm really sorry," was all he could say. Those were foolish parting words to his friend.

"I could forgive you a million times and you still won't believe me" James murmured sadly, expression slipping into one of resignation, a shadow passing over his eyes. "Be a father for Harry, okay? Take my place for him and take good care of him."


This was the scene when Sirius was showing Harry his room, but it ended up being so depressing that I cropped it. The epilogues were suppose to be light-hearted, unfortunately, my brain wasn't in the light hearted gear at the time. *sigh* I haven't exactly posted the epilogues yet, but this scene was changed so it shouldn't spoil it too much.

"But it can't be mine," Harry whispered shakily, pulling his knees close against his chest in an attempt to touch as little of the blankets as possible.

Sirius sighed softly, brushing a few strands of hair from the child's face. "It is. This is your room. Everything in here belongs to you, and if you want anything, just tell me and I'll get it for you."

"But… is it really okay?" Harry worriedly asked. "What if I break something? You'd be angry! I… it can't be mine!"

Sirius' expression fell, his previous happiness shattered. Harry desperately wished he could take those words back, but those fears spilled from him before he could hide them. To be such a burden, Harry wanted to disappear. He shook his head, edging off the bed fearfully. But Sirius caught him before he stumbled to the floor, peering into his face with concern.

"Harry, that's not true. I will never be angry with you," Sirius whispered, giving the child's shoulder a small squeeze of assurance.

Harry let his head drop, gaze downcast. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep that blurred his thoughts, or the many consecutive events that drained him far beyond endurance, Harry began to feel the flickers of desperation again. He was suddenly seized by a fear that Sirius would realize he was worthless, undeserving, and discard him as his relatives had done. He knew it wasn't true; Sirius would never abandon him. He was wanted, he had a family, but…

"Harry, what's wrong? What is it? You… you're crying…" Sirius carefully removed the child's glasses, brushing at the edges of his eyes lightly.

With a jolt, Harry realized that he was. His vision was blurred and his throat stung, there was a weight that seemed to be compressing his lungs. He had been feeling that so often after he soaked Sirius' shirt and cried himself to sleep days ago. Just a memory, a thought, a fear would bring the prickling to the back of his throat, and he would have to hold his breath to suppress it. It was so strange, this never happened in the past. Crying never solved anything, he knew that. It just made Uncle Vernon angrier; he hadn't cried for years. But after he cracked in the infirmary, it was as if something within him snapped and all those years of suppressed frustrations were spilling out. Harry turned his face away jerkily, scrubbing at his eyes with a sleeve, embarrassed and ashamed.

"Sorry," Harry gasped out, swallowing sobs. "I… didn't mean… Sorry…!!"

Sirius suddenly seemed sad again, his lips thinning into a line and his eyes clouding. Soothingly, he stroked the child's hair.

"What's bothering you, Harry?" he asked quietly.

That comforting gesture seemed to tear at Harry more. Halting, he shook his head, impulsively reaching for his godfather's sleeve and holding it in a death grip.

"I don't know! I just think about something… and then…" Harry scrubbed at his eyes again, and when the tears still came, covered his face with his hands. "It never happened before… I… what's wrong with me?"

Sirius was silent for a moment, patting the child's back in a calm, peaceful lull. "It's okay. You're just being a child," he said finally.


This isn't nearly as many drafts I did, I just chose the more significant ones. I have about 1.5 megs worth of drafts on my hard drive that I can't bring myself to delete *sigh*

umm... I attempted fanart. It's on the website, set in a WS timeline. ack! I think I'm getting attached to WS in general... not good!

oh a side note, remember the comment about Sirius' reaction to when Harry starts dating, Rainbow? Anyway, that spurred my muse onto something, and I might write a mini oneshot in the WS timeline about it. It's strictly humor, since Giesbrecht says that my writing is depressing. but it's going to be really weird...

ack, can't reply to any of those reviews today. Harp lessons in half an hour... *wails*

thank you all so much for giving me your thoughts and opinions. I do read every single review! It's great to know that WS has been liked, despite all my reservations on some issues, you all received it wonderfully. And you all had to listen to me whine and protest about junk, I'm sure I was very annoying. And then the awful joke that I played, and ffNET dying at the worst possible time at the worst possible cliffhanger, ack! It was a big surprise how well WS was received, considering it was an alternative universe with a very compact plot and cast (all in all, there were only about 4 characters, Dumbledore, Sirius, Remus, and Harry). Plus, the idea of Sirius recusing Harry from an abused home is often used, and I was sort of afraid that it would be another repeat. But the idea was too tempting. It's great that you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for your support! I would never have managed to finish this story if it wasn't for all of you!