Title: Morning Mercies
Summary: Sirius arrived at the Potters after being disowned. What he needed was a place to stay, but James and his family gave him so much more than that.
Warnings: T for mentions of child abuse and violence.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, and I probably never ever will. :(
It was near one a.m. when Sirius finally reached the Potters, and he was out of energy, emotion, and any words.
He'd been…. travelling, so to speak, for about three hours by that point, and had become so lost in his thoughts that when the Knight Bus had finally pulled to a screeching halt, he had not even registered it.
What if they don't take me in?
The thought was torturing him, wrapping around his emotions with relentlessly tightening coils. I won't have anywhere else to go, and I don't have any money, and I'll have to live on the streets until I get a job, and no one will want to hire me because I won't even graduate Hogwarts for another two years, and—
"Godric's Hollow!" the Knight Bus conductor announced loudly, and Sirius forced himself to take in a couple steadying breaths.
He forced himself to stand and dragged his Hogwarts trunk along behind him on its creaky rolling wheels. He muttered a "thanks" to the conductor and entered into the dark, silent roads of Godric's Hollow.
The emptiness of the streets was more painful that night, and he could feel it seeping deep into his bones. The silence was equally potent, trapping him within his screaming mind. He was stumbling from weariness by the time he could spot the Potters' manor in the distance. Letting out a half-sigh half-sob he somehow made his slow way to the front door and hesitated only a moment before pounding on it.
Please come, please come…
He shivered in the cool summer air and pounded on the door again, wanting beyond anything to see a friendly face. What felt like hours later, he heard the sound of feet approaching the door. He staggered back away from the door just as it swung open to reveal his pajama-clad best friend, squinting at him in the dim light from behind him.
"Padfoot? What are you—" James started, his voice hoarse and tired.
"My parents disowned me," Sirius interrupted, his voice monotone, "They disowned me last night…I-I didn't have anywhere else to go."
James stared at his friend for a second and then his mouth set in a determined line. His eyes were burning fiercely.
"Come on in. You've come to the right place."
He held the door open and Sirius stumbled in. James took Sirius' trunk from him and set it in the main hall. The Potter house had never before looked so intimidating to Sirius' eyes, but James put a hand on Sirius' shoulder and steered him towards the kitchen.
"Are you sure your parents won't mind?"
"My parents love you, Sirius," James said immediately, "They'll be glad to take you in."
Sirius winced. James' parents were so willing to take him in when his own had cast him out.
"That's a nasty bruise you got there," James said with a frown.
Sirius stared at him, so James pointed at it.
"There, on your cheek. Looks painful."
"Oh, that one."
Looking up from the floor into his mother's crazed eyes.
"You have no place here. You are not my son."
Sirius shook his head.
"It doesn't hurt so badly now."
"My mum's got some bruise salve in the cupboard, seeing as she's a Healer and all that," James said, "Help yourself to some of it."
That's when Sirius realized that they were already in the kitchen, and that his best friend had sat him down at the table.
"Ok," Sirius agreed, even though he knew that he wouldn't be moving from the table anytime soon, "Sure."
James bounced on his feet and ran a hand through his hair.
"I'll go get my mum and dad," James said finally, "Then I'll be right back."
"Are you sure you have to go get them right now?" Sirius asked desperately; he wanted to rest a little before he was on the streets again, "I don't want to wake them or be a bother."
"You're not a bother, Sirius," James eyes narrowed, "And they won't throw you out, and even if they tried, I wouldn't let them."
"I know," Sirius said numbly, looking at the table. How had James read him so easily?
"You're safe here."
"I know, James."
James was rightfully doubtful, but he left it.
"I'll be right back."
He left the kitchen and Sirius was left alone with the cycle of memories playing over and over again in his brain.
"You will join, or you will have no place with us."
"I knew this was coming the day you were sorted into Gryffindor."
"You are not worthy of this family."
His little brother's once kind eyes turned so hateful.
"You are not worthy of being a wizard."
Watching his embroidered name melt away as his mother cackled and grinned.
Bellatrix twirling her wand experimentally, "I've just learned a new curse, blood traitor. Do you want to try it?"
"Oh, Sirius," came the soft voice of Mrs. Potter from behind him.
Sirius raised his eyes from the table and Mrs. Potter smothered him in a hug. Sirius was limp in her embrace, not finding the energy even to raise his arms. She pulled away and brushed the fringe away from her eyes. Sirius noticed guiltily that Mrs. Potter looked ready to cry even when she was smiling so gently at him. Then she frowned.
"That's a nasty bruise," she observed then stood, "I'll get the bruise salve."
"You don't have to—"
"I want to, dear," Mrs. Potter interrupted smoothly, so she did, and Sirius tried not fidget as she spread the thick salve over the bruise.
Mr. Potter was looking at Sirius in a way that the boy struggled to define.
"How did it happen, Sirius?" he asked as he sat down across from him.
"They told me I had join Voldemort," Sirius explained, shaking a little, "I refused."
Mr. Potter looked distressed, but he placed a strong hand on Sirius' shoulder.
"That was very brave of you."
Sirius tried not to cry.
"Who would want you as a son?"
"Thank you, for the bruise salve, and everything, I can leave in the morning, if you'll just—"
"No, you won't leave in the morning," James said, "You'll be staying with us through Hogwarts, right Dad?"
"James is exactly right," Mr. Potter assured Sirius.
"Of course Sirius will be staying with us," Mrs. Potter said indignantly, "As if we'd let him go anywhere else. Now you sit tight," she told Sirius sternly, "I'm going to run a diagnostic."
Sometime later, after Mrs. Potter had given Sirius dozens of potions and Mr. Potter had conjured a bed for Sirius in James' room, the two friends were lying on their beds, trying to fall asleep. Sirius was staring at the blank ceiling, still not very aware of the happenings of the night.
Sirius turned to see his cheerful friend staring at him somberly.
"We're brothers now."
"We're living in the same house. We're brothers," James explained easily.
Sirius wished it was that simple. His baby brother's hateful eyes filled his imagination.
"We've shared a dormitory for five years, Prongs."
James shook his head.
"No, this is different. We're sharing the same home."
Sirius swallowed thickly.
James sighed and came over to Sirius' bed.
Sirius did, even though he was dead tired.
James sat opposite him on the bed and held out his hand. Sirius took it.
"Shut up," said James, "I'm making it official, so you'll believe me."
"From this hour onward," James declared pompously, looking Sirius in the eye, "I, James Charles Potter, pledge eternal brotherhood to Sirius Orion Black. I will never betray him or let a woman, not even Lily Evans, stand in our way. I will always defend him, and he will always be welcome in whatever house I am in."
Sirius blinked at his friend, and then James said quietly,
"Now you say it."
He's not kidding, Sirius realized with a jolt.
"From this hour onward, I Sirius Orion Black pledge eternal brotherhood to James Charles Potter…er…"
James waited expectantly.
"I'm sorry, mate, I don't remember the rest."
James just grinned.
"I think that'll do."
He let go of Sirius' hand and grinned at him, straightening his glasses.
Sirius managed a smile in return.
I hope you enjoyed that!
Reviews are always greatly appreciated. :)