My Brother's Keeper
"Sirius hasn't been sleeping well." That's what the letter had said, before requesting his and Tonks' presence for a conference. Harry, for the 50th time that day, replayed Headmistress Kane's letter in his mind.
"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Potter,
I write to inform you of a situation regarding your son, Sirius Gawain Potter." At that point, Harry'd worried that Sirius had blown up a toilet or something. "I'm not sure if you are aware, but shortly after the Christmas holidays, Sirius resigned from his position as Ravenclaw Chaser." Harry hadn't been aware—nor had Tonks. "When asked, he stated a renewed commitment to his studies. However, as of the last week, I am afraid to say that his grades have, in fact, suffered. This is not for lack of trying—Sirius is a very bright, dutiful boy. He seems preoccupied. His eyes are not focused in class, though he attempts to take notes. The professors are of the opinion that Sirius is not sleeping well." It was at this that Harry had truly started to worry. He remembered the terrible nightmares that he'd used to have—incidentally, in the same year that Sirius was in now. He'd wondered if night terrors were genetic—if he'd passed his paranoia on to his son. "Though Madam Pomfrey, Professor Longbottom and I have all tried talking to him, he insists that all is well and promises to be more diligent. Perhaps this is an extreme case of homesickness?" Harry doubted it. "I know that he had some difficulty adjusting after Dominique Weasley graduated. I'd like to request a conference, so thtat we may get to the heart of the matter. Sirius is a wonderful boy. It pains all of us to see him in distress. Please send your reply as soon as possible. Yours very truly, Headmistress Circe M. Krane."
Harry snapped out of his thoughts as the fire in the Hog's Head roared to life.
Out of the flames stepped (well, stumbled) a woman with lime green dreadlocks and a bright purple robe. "Wotcher love!"
For the first time that day, Harry smiled. "Hey Tonks."
"You've been panicking."
"And you haven't?"
"I've been up to my ears in new recruits until about thirty minutes ago, so I haven't really had time," she said, taking his hand.
"Yeah…now I'm worried."
They walked silently up to the castle gates where Artemis, the new gamekeeper, was waiting for them. "Morning," he said with a cheery wave. "Headmistress has set up a special allowance for Apparation, so you can go straight to her office. 'stead of climbing up all these blasted steps."
"Thanks Art!" Tonks said.
The Headmistress's offices hadn't changed much since Harry's days at the school, save for the abundance of magical water gadgetry. Headmistress Krane loved the study of water magic, and the office reflected that love. "Ah! The Potters," she said brightly. "Please, have a seat. I've just sent word for Sirius. He should be along shortly. Can I interest you in a biscuit?"
The three made small talk for a few minutes, until there was a knock at the door.
Sirius strolled into the room, a spitting image of his namesake, but with blue hair. He'd never explained why he'd decided to take Harry's godfather's teen form, but it was how they'd seen him for the past two or three years. The fifteen year old took a seat next to his mother. "Have I done something wrong?" he asked nervously.
"No," Krane said in a soothing tone. "Not at all. We just wanted to talk to you."
"Sirius," Tonks started, "Your teachers are worried for you. They said you haven't been sleeping."
"I've been having some trouble, yeah," Sirius admitted with a shrug. "But it's fine. Nothing I can't handle."
Harry watched his son closely. The boy had perfected his morphing abilities at the age of two, and Harry knew the cues to look for. He could tell that, at that moment, Sirius was trying hard to stay changed—to hide how he really looked. "Sirius," Harry said gently. "Whatever it is—it's okay."
"Really," Sirius insisted, "I'm fine. I know I've been slacking on my work—I'll do better. May I go back to Charms now?"
Krane sighed, but said, "Yes, I suppose."
The moment Sirius stood up, Harry knew something wasn't right. He saw Sirius turn pale—his hair going from blue to black—and sway. "Sirius!" He jumped from his seat and caught him just before the boy hit the floor.
Sirius's eyes fluttered open a bit, but he closed them again at the sound of voices. For a few seconds, everything sounded as if he were underwater. But then his father's voice rang through clearly.
"I don't want anyone bothering him!"
"Mr. Potter," it was Madam Pomfrey. "Your son is sick. He needs to be moved to St. Mungo's immediately."
"No," Sirius whispered, struggling to open his eyes.
"Sirius!" Tonks said, clearly relieved that he'd woken up.
He didn't look at her. He stared straight up at the ceiling and said, "I don't need St. Mungo's."
The room was silent for a few minutes. Then, Harry said, "Perhaps I can speak with him alone…."
Tonks nodded and ushered Madame Pomfrey and Krane out of the room.
Sirius finally looked over at his father. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Harry asked, sitting on the side of Sirius's bed.
The boy looked toward the door and, once he was sure everyone was gone, pulled a bunch of parchment from his cloak pocket.
Harry recognized it immediately. "Sirius, when—"
"Over Christmas. I wouldn't have taken it if I didn't need it."
"Why did you need it?"
Sirius knew he had to tell him. He knew he should've told him long before this. With a deep breath, he began to explain himself. "I had a nightmare in October…."
Tonks loved Harry dearly, and respected his bond with Sirius, so she didn't listen at the door. As much as she wanted to, she left. That didn't mean she wasn't going to get answers immediately, though. She walked quickly down the hall and down the steps. She made it to the dungeons in record time and, luckily, bumped into a Slytherin student. "Wotcher!" she said cheerfully.
"You must be Sev and Nora's mum," the boy said.
"That's right. Could you fetch Sev for me? I don't know the password to your common room. Or where it is for that matter."
"Sure thing!" He ran off to her right and stopped in front of a suit of armor and said, "Deliverance."
Tonks wondered briefly if all of the Slytherin passwords after the war had been about redemption in some way. She didn't have long to wonder though, because Severus came hurtling out of the common room a few seconds later.
"What's up? Who's died?" he asked, panicked.
"No one… but I was wondering if you could tell me what's up with your brother. Has he been acting strange lately?"
"If you call stalking us strange, then yeah."
"Yeah…he shows up after Nora's and my classes all the time. And he'll walk us to class when his are close to ours."
"What's that all about?"
Sev shrugged. "He won't tell us. But he says it's important. I don't know how he's doing it…."
Tonks squeezed his shoulder. "Thanks, Sev. Go back to your friends. I'll go check on Sirius."