A/N: Eek! I know I haven't updated in forever, and for that I'm truly sorry. This is just a story that's pretty much written itself in my head and that absolutely refuses to let me write anything else until I publish it. I'll be working on To Dwell on Dreams tonight and the next few days and hope to publish soon! Thank you so much! Please let me know what you think. Enjoy! =)
*Disclaimer: The day I see JK Rowling create an account and write a one-shot on this site is the day I will say, "Wow! I guess we do need disclaimers!" Otherwise, I think it's rather obvious that I am not JK Rowling, and this stuff is about as canon as Snape being a Veela and a ColinCreevyxWinkyxWhomping Willow love triangle.
Lupin had come running into the room, closely followed by Sirius, with Moody stumping along behind him. Lupin looked from Mrs. Weasley to the dead Harry on the floor and seemd to understand in an instant. Pulling out his own wand he said, very firmly and clearly, "Riddikulus!" . . . . Sirius was staring at the patch of carpet where the boggart, preteneding to be Harry's body, had lain.
~Pg 176; Chapter Nine, "The Woes of Mrs. Weasley"; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
"I DON'T CARE! I'VE HAD ENOUGH, I'VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON'T CARE ANYMORE-"
"You do care. You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it."
~Pg. 824; Chapter Thirty-Seven, "The Lost Prophecy"; Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix
"What's that you've got there, Mad-Eye?" Sirius asked, striding towards the Auror.
Mad-Eye turned, and out of the corner of his eye, Sirius saw a stricken Harry dart out the door. He frowned but decided to let it go for now. Merlin, he's got enough to deal with already without having to be tried for a stupid Patronus Charm. Mad-Eye held out the photograph to Sirius, and Sirius saw in his gaze that he had noted Harry's flight as well. While Moody's blue eye followed Harry's climb upstairs, Sirius took the photograph and grinned. He remembered the day the photo had been taken. The entire Order had gathered that day to celebrate the birth of Harry and Neville. It was a wonderful night, and one of the very few light-hearted celebrations during that war.
Still grinning, he looked up and beckoned Lupin over. "Check it out, Moony! 'Member Harry and Neville's first birthday party? Merlin only knows where my photograph got to . . . " Lupin took the photograph and smiled as well. "You were a hard lot to take a photograph of, you know. Took us - what? Ten minutes to get a decent photograph?" Sirius laughed fondly at the memory. The entire Order had been joking around and moving about.
"Alright, one more time!" Lupin would call, aiming his wand at the Wingardium Leviosa-d camera. He fired a blue spell at the hovering camera. "Ready? Three! Two! One!" A bright flash erupted above the chatter. He summoned the photograph that had fallen from the camera. Of course, the onlookers looked oblivious, completely turned away, eagerly conversing with their fellow Aurors. Lupin gave a sigh of defeat, and Sirius slung his arm around his friend's shoulder. "Just give it up, Moony!" he teased, offering Lupin his glass of butterbeer back. Moody had insisted that there be no firewhiskey served, arguing that an intoxicated Order wouldn't put too much fight against a potential Death Eater attack.
Lupin took the glass, shaking his head. "This is the one night we're not being hunted, tortured or murdered. I thought it would be nice to get a shot of it." Sirius was quiet for a moment. "We have enough days of that, you're right. Tonight should be a celebration. The photograph'll be fine, look." Sirius seized the picture and shook it slightly. "You lot!" he addressed the photographed Order. "Shape up, there!" The two-dimensional witches and wizards laughed, but turns towards the camera, waving or raising their glasses.
That was how the photograph remained now. A memory of a happy celebration. Sirius and Lupin and Moody looked over the faces in silence.
"Marlene McKinnon," Sirius said after a while. "Been a while since I've seen her. I couldn't believe it. When I heard what happened." They all remembered the day they had heard about the McKinnon's, the entire family killed just a short while after the photograph, actually. They had put up such a fight. All of the deceased Order members had. Sirius smiled began to turn into a grimace as he saw face after face that had been killed by Voldemort.
The Longbottom's, tortured into insanity. Sirius knew he would never, ever forget the first time he had seen them in St. Mungo's. Benjy Fenwick, who had been blown into pieces by a Reductor curse. Edgar and Susan Bones, whose entire family had been attacked one night at home. Just like Lily and James, Sirius thought. After a moment, he asked, "Did Harry tell you why this bothered him so much?"
Lupin looked up from the photograph. "What happened?" Mad-Eye's blue eye was still fixed upward, but his beady black one eyed Sirius and Lupin. "I suppose it was a bit of a shock to him, seeing his parents. Boy's had a rough time." Lupin nodded. "Sirius, has he talked to you at all about . . . you know . . . the Tournament?" Before Sirius could answer, Moody turned suddenly and began climbing up the stairs.
Recognizing something was wrong, Lupin and Sirius took off after him. "Mad-Eye?" Sirius began, racing up the stairs. Moody, who was struggling to get his peg leg up the flight and falling slightly behind, grunted. "Blasted boggart." The sound of sobbing reached their ears, as well as Harry's voice, clearly upset, "Mrs. Weasley, just get out of here! Let someone else–" Lupin finally reached the top stair and and raced into the drawing room. "What's going on?"
Half a second behind, Sirius looked into the room. His heart stopped and breath caught. He had known, racing on the stairs, what he would see. But seeing his worst fear alive and vivid was something he really couldn't prepare himself for. Harry lay on the floor, glasses askew, blood trickling down his forehead and from his mouth. His scar was burning a brilliant red, and his arms and legs were splayed out, his face pale with death. Worse than anything, was how still he was. Harry was always alive, always energetic, always moving and thinking and feeling, whether it be joy or grieving. After twelve years in a lifeless prison, Harry's emotion, Harry's life had made him all the more precious to Sirius.
It was a nightmare beyond anything Sirius had ever experienced. No dark creature, no fate, not even Voldemort himself could ever strike such dread and grief into Sirius' heart. Even after Lupin had vanished the Boggart, he could only stare at the spot where Harry had laid, dead to Sirius' love. In a flash, Sirius imagined the corpse with hazel eyes instead of green and James lay before him, looking as if Voldemort had walked over his dead body only moments ago.
The shock of seeing his best mate dead, as if in a vision of that Halloween night so long ago, caused Sirius to start unconsciously. Desperately, he looked up and met Harry's eyes. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Sirius knew that Harry had been staring at him the whole time. But, he's not dead. He's alive. He's in front of me, alive. He's fine. It was just a boggart. Just a stupid boggart. Lupin's comforting words to Mrs. Weasley echoed in his own mind.
Sirius blinked slowly, taking in the sight of Harry standing before him, alive and well. But James isn't alive. Sirius shoved the thought away, and managed a weak smile. Harry didn't look convinced in the least. "Sirius?" he asked in a low voice. Sirius shook his head, and tried to get a grip on the conversation.
" better off than we were last time, you weren't in the Order then, you don't understand, last time we were outnumbered twenty to one by the Death Eaters and they were picking us off one by one . . . " Lupin was saying, still hugging a shaking Mrs. Weasley.
Sirius scrambled for something to say, to ease Molly's fears and said the first thing that popped into his mind. "Don't worry about Percy. He'll come round. It's a matter of time before Voldemort moves into the open." He paused, trying to finish his thought. "Once he does, the whole Ministry's going to be begging us to forgive them. And I'm not sure I'll be accepting their apology."
Harry was still watching Sirius, Lily's green eyes looking so worried. Sirius gave him a tentative smile and pulled him aside as they group all filed out moments later.
"Sirius–" Harry began, clearly worried.
"Harry, are you alright?" Sirius examined his godson at arm's length for a moment and pulled him into a tight hug. Harry seemed on the verge of collapsing and tightly clung to his godfather. The two stood in the hallway for a moment, content just to know that each other was there, alive and in one piece. It didn't matter what happened tomorrow, or the day after that. They were together for that moment, free from death, from Voldemort, from Azkaban.
"I hate this," Harry muttered. Sirius gently let him go as Harry continued, "I hate this fear, of always wondering what's going to happen next, if someone I love is going to die tomorrow. And, then seeing Ron on the floor dead, and the stupid trial at the Ministry, and Cedric's–" Harry suddenly stopped and Sirius gave him a moment to collect himself. Harry looked down, and wiped his nose with his sleeve. "This is so stupid. It's just a bloody boggart . . . "
Sirius shook his head, placing his hand on Harry's shoulder and looking directly into his eyes. "It's not stupid. This is war. It's a horrible, grave, desperate war, and bad things are going to happen to good people. I'm so sorry that you're involved, Harry. You carry so many burdens already." Harry shook his head, and wiped at his nose again.
"I saw you. I saw you looking at the boggart on the floor. The one pretending to be me. I saw your face, and you looked . . . You looked like you just had the world pulled out from under you."
Sirius tried to swallow back the lump in his throat. "For a moment, it felt like I had the world pulled out from under me, and that's the second time," he said in a low voice. "I fought a boggart earlier, before you arrived at this miserable place. I didn't fare much better than Molly back there," he said with a twisted smile. "At least I didn't go all hysterical this time." Sirius looked at Harry, wanting to be sure he knew. "You mean the world to be, Harry. I'm so proud of you, of all you've done, of all you are. So proud. I couldn't ask for a better godson."
Harry looked Sirius back straight in the eye. "And I couldn't ask for a better godfather."
The two gazed at each other for a few moments, before Sirius tentatively asked, "You saw Ron?" Harry grimaced at the fresh memory. "Yeah. Ron and Bill and Mr. Weasley and the twins and Percy and . . . Me."
"Don't let it bother you," Sirius said quietly. "I'm sure we'll all make it out okay."
Harry looked at his shoes. How do you know, Sirius? How do you know we're going to make it out okay? What if you die? Tell me, what will I do then?
"Yeah," Harry said instead. Sirius gave him a last, proud smile, and the two agreed it had been a long enough day and headed for bed.
Sirius watched the night fade into morning. His mind couldn't still, couldn't get the image of the boggart out of his mind, couldn't stop thinking what would be left of himself if Harry . . . if anything, anything at all, ever happened to Harry. A realization occured to him, a few hours before the sunrise. Harry's words echoed back to him. "Yeah. Ron and Bill and Mr. Weasley and . . . me." Lupin was right. Molly cared for Harry, too, as deeply as for her own. For some unknown reason, the thought comforted him. "If anything happens to me," he muttered with a grim smile, "at least Harry'll be okay." Moments later, he turned, finally feeling able to rest.
Sirius felt the spell hit him solidly in the chest, and knew, precious seconds before, what was about to happen. He began to fall backwards, and tried to catch a glimpse of Harry one last time, to let him know that it was okay, that he would always be there for him, alive or not. That Harry was brave and good and loyal and smart and kind and just like his father. That every bit of Sirius believed Harry was capable of defeating Voldemort. But Bella hadn't given him time. Sirius fell gently through the veil, the world disappearing before his eyes. He tried to struggle against the inevitable, tried to shout something, but he couldn't.
I love you, Harry.
And the echo of Harry's scream accompanied him into the misty Hogwarts Great Hall.