Nope, still not making any money off of it and it's still not mine, if it were Fred, Sirius and Lupins would still be with us.

Summary: What if Sirius hadn't gotten all gloomy and depressed when the kids went back to school and Molly went home during fifth year? What if he and Kreacher had reached a civil tolerance for each other? What if Sirius never told Kreacher to get out or go away at Christmas? What if Harry remembered and used the mirror? What if Sirius never fell through the veil? - Follows cannon through beginning of OotP, takes a left turn around October.

A Brighter Road

Chapter One

Sirius Black was sick of being stuck inside. He was just about at the end of his tether. He hated Grimmauld Place, the fact that he had to hide there, that stupid portrait of his mother, that evil damn house elf and every other thing in his childhood home.

He just wanted to go outside.

The back steps were the farthest he could actually go and that was just to open the door. Although it was slim, there was still the chance that someone could see him if he stepped further than the top step. Then there was the feeling of uselessness. Even freckin' Harry and the rest of the teenagers were able to do something, but him, nope too dangerous. Dumbledore told him to stay put for the greater good. 'Doesn't he understand, it wouldn't be so bad if I could just get out every once and a while to do something useful?' Sirius wondered.

This was one of those moments, he didn't think he could take one more moment of the dark, dank, moldy house; he had to breath fresh air. At least when Molly was there she would force him to clean the mess left behind from years of neglect and a crazed elf that seemed to do more hoarding than tidying. By himself, left to his own motivation, he just wanted to sit there and drink himself into oblivion while feeling sorry for himself.

How had his life turned out like this? He had been a golden boy, a marauder. Hell, even if he didn't often admit to it he was a Black, for crying out loud. He and his three best friends had had plans to take over the world. Now what? James was dead, Peter, the effing rat, was a traitor and a coward, and Remus, well at least Remus was still there, but he was gone all the time trying to find other werewolves that thought like him.

Sirius snorted in disgust, at himself, he was thirty-five years old and had spent twelve of those years, innocently in prison for killing the only family he'd ever really had and the last two years hiding from the only family he had left. He used to be so much fun, so full of life, now he was just so full of… of… not darkness, not emptiness, more like shadows.

In his mind he wanted to be twenty-one again, that was where part of his mind was, but when he looked in the mirror, he saw strain and crows feet. Don't get him wrong he was still good looking, but he wasn't what he used to be. He was also disgusted at his skinniness. He used to be muscular, yet slim, now he was like an anorexic. 'I'm a bloody wreck and a useless waste,' had been his mantra since having to hole up in Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.

"Buck up, Sirius, if you could survive Azkaban, you can survive your mother's house. Get a grip!" He pounded his fist on the table. The force of his own voice startled him for a moment as he was used to mostly silence. Jumping up, he walked over to and up the steps to the ground floor then opened the back door. 'Ah, fresh air.' He was going to recruit his mother's devoted house elf to wage war on the house with him, and he knew just how to get him to do it willingly.

"Kreacher!" he bellowed after closing the door.

"Master Sirius, what can I do for you? What would my wonderful Mistress say if she knew what his disgrace was doing to her home?" the house-elf wheezed, popping into the room.

"Oh, shut up you miserable elf. I want you to open what windows you can. Get some fresh air in this place. I want it dusted and cleaned, my dear old mum would have a fit if she saw her house in such shambles. You have one week." The elf just looked at him, "Well move, go, start on the top most landing and work your way down, but stay out of my room!"

Sirius thought since Kreacher was working on the house, he would take the time to work on himself. Eat more, drink less, and exercise both his mind and his body, he once had loved puzzles and reading. When they found that bloody rat bastard and he was a free man, he'd be ready to go out and live. "Now up to my room, to find those old Muggle men's magazines I used to get for the pinups. If I remember correctly, there were home workout routines in them."

A week later the house was near sparkling, it certainly smelled better, his clothes were starting to hang less on him, he could see some muscle definition in his arms, he was getting his appetite back, and most of all he was sore as all hell. Sirius couldn't help but pity the poor Muggles, who didn't have the luxury of pain potions and spells. He had even cut his hair again, it was slightly shorter than he'd worn it back in his late teens and early twenties, but he thought he should look more distinguished.

He heard the door open, the sound of something heavy hitting the floor, "Damn, ruddy troll foot!" and then his mum screaming her head off, "No good daughter of a blood traitor! Brat that soiled the name of Black."

'Ah, my dear cousin Nymphadora Tonks to visit,' Sirius thought as he made his way to the front entrance.

"Oh, shut up woman, her name's not Black! She's not claiming you, so if you'd just shut up no one would know." Slamming the curtain shut on the portrait, he kissed Tonks on both cheeks and said, "Lovely to see you, to what do I owe this pleasure?"

"Wocher, Sirius. What have you done with the place? It smells clean and you're looking better," she admired.

"Thank you dear cousin, I am feeling better. Kreacher and I have come to an understanding; if we are going to be living here together then this place has to be habitable. I worked too hard to escape Azkaban to come and waste here in a hell hole." He raised his voice slightly as they moved into the parlor, "Kreacher, please bring us some tea."

With a raised eyebrow, "Sirius, did you just say please to your house elf?"

"You know, funny thing, if you aren't horrible to him, he stops repeating himself. Turns out he thinks I'm doing this," Sirius waved his arm around at the clean, bright room, "to bring honor to the house I previously disgraced."

"Your tea, Master Sirius." He set down the tea service for two and walked out, completely ignoring the other occupant of the room.

" 'S good you're taking care of yourself, Remus and I were worried about you." She blushed.

He noticed, "You're spending an awful lot of time with Moony lately. I wonder if you aren't starting to fancy my fellow marauder? In fact as I remember, you had quite the crush on him when you were little," He gave her a wolfish grin and she blushed deeper deliberately avoiding his eyes and sipping her tea. "Now, I'm sure you didn't come by to have me give you dating advice. What can I do for you?"

"Actually, I'm off today and thought I'd come by to see how you were holding up. But you don't look like you need me," she said cheekily and pretended to get up.

"I am always in the need of female company, especially a female as lovely as you, Nymphy. Though, since you are the daughter of my favorite cousin, there won't be any sexual stuff, sorry love."

She threw a pillow at him, "Prat."

He caught it laughing.

They spent a lovely afternoon just chatting. She even played a game of Wizarding Chess with her cousin, Sirius took an easy victory. Sirius lead her on a tour of the house; every room was clean, except for Buckbeak's. Mind you, it was cleaner than it had been and all the furniture was pushed up against the wall, but it still was being occupied by a hippogriff.

Kreacher made them a lovely dinner, and they were tucking in when a silvery phoenix flew over the table. Dumbledore's voice announced an Order meeting at midnight.

"Might as well spend the night here, cousin, it's going to be a late one. Kreacher, I want food ready for at least twenty guests by midnight."

"As you wish, Master Sirius," the elf went to the pantry to start putting things together.

Turning on his cousin, he gave her a cheeky grin, "So are you going to fess up to crushing on Moony or am I just going to have to tease you in front of him?"

"You wouldn't dare! Yes, you would, you big arse. I do have a bit of a crush on him, but he'll have nothing to do with it. He is so kind and handsome but he won't let anyone get close to him. Shame really," Tonks hair went from her normal bright pink to a mousy brown and she looked down right sad.

"Well, Moony has always had that problem. Thinks everyone he's ever cared about deserves better so he puts up a wall. He had girls who'd have broken their necks to go out with him when we were younger but he just kept saying he had nothing to offer. The great git!"

They sat there in companionable silence for a while, eating. When Sirius made a decision, "Nymphy, oh don't look at me like that, I didn't name you. We're going to get that man to let you in. If I can get myself, and this house together, then damn it, so can he! This is going to be fun." Her only response was to giggle, because it was at that moment that Order members started to arrive.

A/N: Thank you to Amy and Jamie for their amazing beta-ing skills. If you haven't read their work, you can find them at GrandeVanillaSkimLatte and Choices HP. It is my goal to post at least 1 update per week (maybe more often if I get finished sooner than I think.) I will say that reviews do make me write faster *hint hint wink nudge nudge*