Disclaimer: I do no own, nor am I in any way associated with, Doctor Who or Harry Potter. I'm just taking some of the characters out for a spin.
Timeframe: Summer 1993
"I'm sorry, boy," Sarah Jane said quietly, petting the cold, robotic head.
"Iiiiiiituh izzzz all right, ma-ma-madam," K-9 managed. He'd been falling further and further into disrepair for years now and tonight was the first time Sarah Jane was giving up her repairs before exhaustion or mild electrocution stopped her. She felt horrible and couldn't quite bring herself to look her dog in the face.
There was a thought on the edge of her consciousness, "If only…" but she squashed it before it could get any farther. That road only had two possible stops: he's dead or he abandoned you. Neither were pleasant.
Thunder crashed outside, nearly drowned out by the heavy downpour. A summer storm had blown in and now that Sarah Jane had stopped working and had a chance to look around, she realized she just how eerie the precise lights she used to illuminate K-9's inner workings made the rest of the house seem.
"Lights first," she said, not sure if she was speaking to herself, K-9, or some unseen assailant waiting in the shadows, "then clean up, then we'll watch Benji again. How's that sound?"
K-9 wagged his tail. That, at least, was a motor function he maintained. Sarah Jane didn't want to think about the day her precious dog would lose the use of that limb.
"Right," she said, once again pushing sad thoughts away as she rose from the blanketed floor of her living room. She carefully stepped over the tools and spare parts she had yet to clean up.
Her hand was just touching the pull chain on the lamp beside the couch when she heard it. It was a small sound, amid all the rain and thunder, but it was there. For a split second she convinced herself it was a tree branch scraping against the side of her house, but she was too smart to keep that up for long. For one thing, the sound was coming from her front entryway, immediately outside of which there were no trees. For another, she led a singular kind of life in which anything that seemed menacing, most likely was.
The scratching sounded again and she thought it was more urgent this time. With a glance at K-9 she grabbed her sonic lipstick from the floor and headed to the entryway. The light was even eerier out here, a mixture of glow from streetlamps and the living room. She stepped carefully around the rectangles of light cast by the windows on the floor, not wanting to give an assailant any advantage. At the door she took one deep, steadying breath, gripped her lipstick firmly in her hand, and flung the door open.
There was nothing. Nothing but a very soaked welcome mat and a muddy lake where her front walk had been. Sarah Jane peered out into the night, not caring that splatter from the walk was soaking the front of her shirt and pants. She was just about to close the door an head back inside to check every single room of her house for intruders when a shadow moved. From underneath the hedge near the wall crawled a large black dog. Once standing he looked too big to have ever fit beneath the bushes and, had she not just seen him move, she might have mistaken him for a shadow himself not that he was still.
She recognized him immediately.
"Well, get inside," she snapped and went down the hall, cursing herself a dozen kinds of fool all the while. "You'll catch your death out there." While she pulled towels from a cabinet she heard the door slam shut. "Don't you dare leave the entryway! I don't want your muddy pawprints-" she froze beside the stairs. The dog was gone, replaced by a man. He attempted a smile and it came out more of a mad grimace. Sarah Jane threw the towels at him with as much force as she could muster and returned to the living room.
"You're not even going to ask what I'm doing here?" he asked her back, his voice rough and dry from years of disuse.
She began cleaning up and looked at him through the fall of her hair so that he wouldn't notice her perusal. He was leaning against the doorway, blatantly staring at her ass. She quickly chastised the part of her that was flattered, reminding it that she was probably the first woman he'd seen in years. He was dripping on her floor, which she supposed couldn't be helped, but at least he'd kicked off his shoes. His hair was still wet but he'd toweled it dry as best he could and now had the towel wrapped around his neck like an athlete just come off a long workout.
He looked good. Damn him but over a decade in the worst prison on the planet and he looked good.
She sighed and straightened. "What are you doing here, Sirius?" she asked.
He stared at her for several long seconds, assessing her, before saying, "I didn't kill those people, Sarah."
She huffed and crouched down on the floor, both to avoid looking at him and to bring herself within reach of tools that could double as weapons. He was always a damned annoying man, even when they'd been little more than children. That he insisted on calling her Sarah when everyone else called her Sarah Jane - when he himself knew she preferred Sarah Jane - was madness.
He pulled her to her feet, his nails digging into her arms, his hot, stinking breath washing over her. "I didn't." She wasn't sure if he was shaking her or if he was simply shaking.
It said something about the life she'd led that her voice didn't shake when she said, "You betrayed Lily and James, you murdered Peter as well as twelve other innocent bystanders."
He shook his head slowly as she spoke but never broke eye contact with her. "Peter did it, all of it."
She scoffed and tried to pull away but he only clutched her closer, bringing their bodies flush against one another. It was an intimate closeness, one that was not unfamiliar to them. She would not fall into old patterns. She would not. Thinking it and doing it were two very different things, however. It took all her willpower to keep her body stiff, to keep from relaxing into him.
She really hated how good he looked.
"We knew I would be the obvious choice for Secret Keeper," he was saying, "so I convinced James to choose Peter instead. He betrayed them to Voldemort and when I confronted him he faked his own death."
"You expect me to believe that little Peter would have it in him to-"
"I barely believe it myself!" he yelled and in that moment looked every bit the madman he was supposed to be.
She waited a few beats before very softly and firmly saying, "Let me go."
"You have to listen to me, Sarah. I need your help. I-"
His grip tightened and almost immediately let up. His eyes widened and he looked down toward their feet, nearly tangled together they were so close.
"Leeeetuh her gooooo," K-9 said, sounding nearly menacing despite the stutter. His laser was pressing into Sirius' thigh. Sirius immediately smiled.
"K-9!" he said happily and knelt down to face the robotic dog. "I have missed you, boy!" He scratched him affectionately behind the ears.
Sarah Jane stood frozen. Barely a quarter of an hour earlier she had been very consciously not thinking about a certain long lost man from her past and now yet another man of that same sort was kneeling on her living room floor, talking to her dog as if not a day had passed since they'd last seen each other. Him and the dog, of course. He'd always loved K-9, liked him before he even liked her, in fact.
"You don't happen to have a sonic screwdriver by any chance, do you?" Sirius asked, smiling charmingly up at her. A decade of imprisonment had left his smile a bit thin, a bit frightening, but it was still so very much his. She'd always had a soft spot for that smile.
"No," she said, sitting on the edge of the couch. "I'm afraid the Doctor carries that with him. Wherever he is."
She must have sounded especially glum because his expression softened to concern.
"May I ask what happened?"
"No. You may not."
He nodded as if he'd expected as much, and made do with what tools he found laying on the floor.
"I should stop you," she said, not sure if she meant in general, stop the escaped felon, or more personal, stop him from meddling with K-9.
"You won't though," he said cheekily while sparks flew. "You want to see what I'll do."
It was several minutes with only the occasional helpful advice from K-9 to break the silence before she next spoke.
"Peter really did it?"
"I never thought you'd believe me so easily." He was laying on the ground now, propped on one shoulder so he could see something near K-9's spine.
"I don't. I just want to know your explanation for this absurd lie."
He smirked toothily and pulled something from his coat. She took the worn paper and stared down at a moving image of a large wizard family vacationing in Egypt.
"Dastardly," Sarah Jane said. "He's disguised himself as a middle aged man with half a dozen children. Or is he one of the children? I can't-"
Sirius let out a disgusted snarl and rolled to his knees. One blackened fingernail jabbed at the youngest of the boys.
"Look! Look at him!"
Sarah Jane peered down, went so far as to squint, but couldn't see anything even remotely like Peter in the boy. Then the boy stopped waving at the camera and made to grab at something in his shirt. A moment later a flash of grey streaked over his shoulder and he barely caught it, bringing it up to show off a grey rat.
"Oh dear God."
"It's him. I swear to you, it's him. How many nights did I spend in the forest with him? I'd know him anywhere!"
"You're saying he spent the last twelve years living as a rat? Why would he do that?" Sarah Jane couldn't quite pull her eyes from the photo, despite her incredulity.
"To escape Azkaban. To be ready should Voldemort rise again. Because he just really likes cheese. I honestly don't know but I have got to find him!" He took her hands in his. Still on his knees he said, "Sarah, I need your help."
"Why should I believe you? Why should I even trust you at all?"
His expression, so hopeful and eager and child-like, broke. His eyes clouded over and he bent his head in sorrow, kissed her knuckles before resting his forehead atop them. "I'll just fix K-9 up and go then," he said, pulling away without looking at her. "I just wanted to see you again," he said over his shoulder. "I can easily make this journey without your help."
She put her head in her hands and tried very hard not to cry. She'd missed him. Sometimes more than the Doctor, sometimes less, but she had always missed him, even when she thought him a heartless murderer.
When she heard him standing she straightened, blinking rapidly to fight away tears.
"I couldn't fix him, not completely, but he'll last a while longer at least."
She nodded. "Thank you."
He paused, looked like he wanted to touch her, but instead just patted K-9 affectionately again.
"You always do this," she said quietly.
"Make you cry?" he asked, resigned.
"Make me love you, no matter how much I want to hate you."
"God, Sirius." She was really crying now and hated herself for it.
"Sarah. Oh, Sarah." His hand was rough against her cheek, the pad of his thumb wiped away her tears before he kissed her. He tasted like pain and heartache and a decade of bread crust and water dinners, but underneath it all was Sirius, still so familiar.
K-9 very politely looked away.