Harry paused in the cosy, familiar kitchen of The Burrow and listened to the laughing voices of Hermione and the Weasleys coming from the living room. For a moment he considered joining them but then thought better of it. It wasn't that he didn't want to see them but he knew if he did go in they'd try and get him to join in their conversations and he really didn't feel like talking to anyone. Actually that wasn't true. There was one person that Harry would have loved to talk to; Sirius.
Slipping out of the kitchen into the backyard he wandered over to the large apple tree and settled himself at the base.
Sirius had been on his mind a lot since the disastrous events a few weeks ago at the Department of Mysteries, whether it was in the moments of crippling guilt because Sirius was only at the Ministry because of him in the first place, or the times when he desperately wished he had somebody to discuss the prophecy with.
Of course he had told Ron and Hermione all about it but that wasn't the same. He wanted someone older, who had already gone through one war against Voldemort. Someone he could trust to be honest with him and not try and hide things from him for his own good. He wanted Sirius.
Harry pulled an envelope with his name on out of his pocket. Dumbledore had found it with Sirius' Will and had given it to him when he collected him from Privet Drive. The tatty, crumpled edges were testament to the fact that Harry had been carrying it round in his pocket ever since but it had yet to be opened. The fact that it was the last ever letter he would receive from Sirius made him almost reluctant to read it, as if doing so would somehow make his death more real, more final.
Shaking his head he tore the enveloped open, pulled the parchment out and began to read.
If you're reading this it means I'm dead. I feel very melodramatic writing this, especially since the only cause of death which seems even remotely possible while I'm locked up here is if Kreacher finally loses it and kills me in my sleep! However nobody's safety is guaranteed, especially at a time like this and I don't want to risk something happening to me and these things remaining unsaid.
I should have told you while you were here over Christmas but every time I tried my Gryffindor courage seemed to desert me until it was too late. Once you're back here this summer we'll talk and this letter won't be necessary but until then it's here just in case.
I'm so proud of you. You've grown into such a brave, kind, intelligent young man and I know your parents are just as proud wherever they are. Speaking of your parents I know that Molly's had her concerns that I confuse you with James but I want you to know that has never been the case. You've only ever been Harry to me. Not James, or an extension of him, or the Boy Who Lived, just Harry, my godson, and I love you. I don't think I could love you anymore if you were my own son I and dearly wish I could have spent more time with you.
My biggest regret is that I trusted that slimy rat and in doing so robbed you of your parents, and then to make a horrendous situation even worse I went after him that night instead of staying where I belonged with you. If only I hadn't been so stupid perhaps things would have been different and you could have grown up surrounded by friends and family who loved you rather than being left with the Dursleys.
However, dwelling on the past won't change anything and so I should probably start to wrap this up. Since your Mum and Dad died I've wondered a lot about what happens after death and the only thing I'm certain about is that death is not the end. I'm sure that we'll see each other again somewhere, although hopefully not for a very long time, and until then I'll keep an eye on you from time to time.
With that in mind I won't say goodbye just,
Tears were running down Harry's face but he didn't bother to check them. Leaning his head back against the rough bark he let out a sigh. He felt lighter than he had in weeks thanks to the letter. And yet he couldn't help but wish that Sirius had said this to him face to face, given him a chance to respond.
His eyes flickered back to one particular phrase of the letter: 'I love you'. Nobody had ever said that to him, well of course his parents must have but he couldn't remember that. It had always been clear that Sirius cared for him but it surprised Harry that he had felt that strongly about him, that he almost thought of him as his own son.
But then again, thinking back on the things Sirius had done for him: breaking out of Azkaban when he found out Pettigrew was at Hogwarts, risking everything by coming back to Britain for the Tournament and then living off rats in a cave just to be near him and of course racing to the Ministry when he, Harry, was in danger, to name but a few Harry realised it shouldn't come as a surprise. These weren't the sort of acts a person raced into for just anybody, they were done to try and help someone you love just as when Harry went to the Ministry because he thought Sirius was in danger.
"I love you too Sirius."
At that moment, as if triggered by Harry's words, the clouds broke and the garden was illuminated by the sunlight. Harry knew it was nothing more than a coincidence and yet his eyes drifted back to the end of the letter, 'I'll keep an eye on you from time to time'. Perhaps Sirius could hear him, somehow.
"I'll make you proud Sirius," Harry said, looking up at the sky. "You and Mum and Dad, I promise."
And with that he stood up, pocketed the letter and went inside to join Ron and Hermione.