Remus sat in his office, idly flipping through his lesson plans laid out on his desk. With one hand, he was turning the pages, and with the other, he was stirring his tea. It was the first quiet moment he had had in months, considering it was the first week of term. The summer was just short of perfect, that shouldn't be mistaken, but it was busy as well. With Harry staying with them now at Grimmauld Place, Sirius and Remus had to quicken their renovation and cleaning of the house that had began the summer before. The Order, though quick to help, were also filling the old house and new home with other worries.
It would have been far less busy summer without those stresses. Remus knew that Sirius had been looking forward to quality time with Harry, and Remus had to admit he had too. But with a new war right at their heels, they had to be two steps ahead. That meant less Quidditch, more strategy. Perhaps after Voldemort was gone-well, it was difficult to think that far now. For any of them. But he knew that Sirius hadn't been ready for the summer to end.
Though Remus was still spending his nights and weekends at the house, he knew Sirius got a little stir crazy during the day. He always said "How can I be considered a free man when every time I step out of the house, people are muttering about how I should be locked up?" He felt for his best friend. Truly, he did, because he knew how it felt. Remus knew that one could never really get used to being looked at as if the whole world wanted you in a cage. For these reasons, he tried his best to have patience with Sirius.
So, when his office door was thrown open without warning, he didn't even look up. Only one person would come in unannounced. "Sirius, can't you knock?" Looking up at his best friend now, he closed his book.
Smirking, Sirius closed the door behind him and moved to sit in front of Remus's desk. "Why? You know it's me. Lock the door if you don't want people in here."
"I just might start." Remus half teased, letting out a quiet laugh. "What are you doing here? I've been gone for three hours, did you really miss me that much?"
Rolling his eyes, Sirius leaned back in his chair. "Always. But no, I came to see Harry. However, he seems to be hiding as I've looked nearly everywhere he'd be."
Remus knew that this meant Sirius had looked in maybe three or four places and had promptly given up. "He's been spending an awfully large amount of time with Dumbledore lately, so he might be in his office. Secretive stuff, I suppose. Every time I've asked Harry about it, he's gotten extremely quiet and refused to speak a word of it."
"He's loyal to the man, you know that. We all are, but not as much as Harry." But Sirius would have liked to know what was going on as well. Harry always seemed to be short with him lately and it was starting to worry him. The boy seemed to be under a lot of pressure and Sirius couldn't pinpoint why. But he had a feeling it had something to do with Dumbledore. "Changing the subject. How are you enjoying your new job?"
With Dumbledore's persistence in Severus Snape taking over the DADA position, Remus had taken on some of his first and second year classes as well as assisting Minerva in some of her Deputy Headmistress responsibilities. Really, he was just helping wherever he could, and it was appreciated by all but Snape. "It's…keeping me busy, I suppose." He smiled though. It wasn't a secret that he'd rather feel useful then not. "I'm glad that it doesn't keep me too busy, though, because I couldn't not be apart of the Order."
"As if we're doing anything other then trying to get Molly to stop redecorating my house." Sirius joked quietly. "Keeping Harry safe is our number one priority right now, though I have to say, I wish he would stop being spoken of like some sort of weapon."
Remus snorted quietly. "It's how Dumbledore intends to use him. As a weapon against Voldemort. And its how Voldemort sees Harry as well."
"Comforting." Sirius said quietly, his face a bit more sober now as the front legs of chair hit the floor. Most of his days were spent avoiding this conversation. Between Alastor Moody, Molly Weasey, and Snape, everyone had an opinion about his godson's wellbeing and none of them was positive. It took all he had in him not to just scream at everyone to leave Harry be. To just let him be a kid. To just let him be an adult. To be what he wanted to be. Instead, he had to watch him become a pawn.
Remus reached forward, his hand squeezing Sirius's arm. "We're all going to breathe a little easier when it's over, Sirius. But Harry's fine, he's in good hands here…" He trailed off however as shouting started to sound through the door. Standing up now, he moved to open his room to the hallway. A few students rushed past him looking panicked.
"HELP!" They heard. "HELP! HARRY!" Sirius stood up then, instant panic seeming to hit him in the chest. He recognized that voice as Ron's.
Only a quarter of an hour before, Harry growled out in frustration as he followed Ron into an empty classroom on the third floor. "What is your problem?"
To say Ron had been avoiding Harry would be a lie. Of course, Ron probably thought he was avoiding him, but all he did was follow him around and give him silent, angry looks. He refused to talk to him, refused to be in the room alone with him, and made snide comments about Harry in front of him whenever he could.
When Ron had been separated from Dean and Seamus after Defense, Harry saw his opportunity. Following him, he waited until they were completely alone in the hall before confronting him. "Is this about Lavender? Are you having some sort of second thoughts?"
"No!" Ron turned towards Harry then, his face clouded with anger. "No. I'm glad I broke up with her. She's been following me around all week, giving me these insane looks like she's going to push me down a flight of stairs any moment. I'm talking about you and Hermione. Spending a lot of time lately, hm?"
"What?" Harry asked, incredulously. "Me and Hermione? What are you talking about? We always hang out."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Yeah. You, me, and her always hang out. But every time I see you now, you and Hermione are off in a corner talking. About what?"
"None of your business!" Harry threw his hands up in the air, a breathless laugh escaping him. "You haven't been around. As soon as you and Lavender got together, you spent all your time snogging in corners and that left Hermione and I by ourselves. Yes, we're talking. Yes, she's needed some extra time with some things she's going through, but if she doesn't tell you, it's really none of your business."
"We're best friends. You're supposed to tell me everything!" Ron's volume grew and grew. "You and Hermione tell me everything! But lately, you've been secretive. Not just about Hermione, but about everything! It's like you're shutting me out on purpose."
"It's just complicated." Harry said quietly now, rubbing the back of his neck. "It has nothing to do with you. It's just things that I need to handle on my own."
"Everything's complicated with you lately." Ron grumbled lowly. "It always has been. Hermione and I have been with you every step of the way so far. Why should be shut out now."
Harry sighed, rubbing his hand through his hair nervously. "I try to keep you involved. You and Hermione. But you know it's difficult, especially when the things I know are things that Dumbledore has told me. Once I know everything I need to know, of course I'll include you…if I can…"
"And what ABOUT Hermione, Harry?" Ron asked, his hand curling around his the wand in his sleeve. "Are you and her together? Are you going behind my back to be with her? You know how I feel about her!"
Harry let out a loud laugh then. "Do I? You rant and rave about her and you're jealous every minute, but you never tell her! She's confused and she's hurt and you don't even care. Do you want her to be with me or someone else? Do you want Hermione to just walk away from the option of you and her forever? Because that's what you're doing."
"That's NOT what I meant to do and you know it!" Ron exclaimed, his wand hand flying towards Harry in a frustrated gesture. Red sparks flew out towards Harry and Ron's eyes widened.
"Hey! Watch it-" Harry started to say as he stumbled backwards. But as his foot hit the ledge of the open window, his own eyes opened twice as wide as Ron's. The ice on the sill caused him to lose his footing almost immediately, tipping him backwards
Wordlessly, Ron gave a desperate swing of his hand, trying to grab onto the front of Harry's shirt. "HARRY!" He shouted as the boy disappeared over the ledge. He lurched forward, but it was too late. Once he looked over the edge, Harry was already falling towards the ground. "NO! HARRY!"
Harry closed his eyes as his back just barely missed hitting the sill, topping him over the edge. As he began to plummet from the second story towards the courtyard, he wondered why his life wasn't flashing before his eyes. Why he didn't see the years living with the Dursleys, or his first years at Hogwarts. All he saw was Sirius's face. The first time he had seen him in the Shrieking Shack, when he had seen him in the alley his fourth year, when he had seen him at Christmas his fifth, and when he had seen him that summer after both were free. It was all he could see. Sirius's relieved, smiling face.
After what seemed like hours, but was less than a minute, he could feel the wind pick up around him and the signs that he was able to hit the grass fill his senses. He felt his stomach reach the ground before him, and he opened his eyes wide to watch the clouds. Somewhere, Hermione had read that it was important, the last thing you saw before you died.
He could just barely hear people shouting around him, but mostly just the sound of rushing wind filled his ears. Before he could even process how he was going to get out of this situation this time, his back hit the ground and all was black.
In no time, Ron was running from the room and down the stairs towards the grounds. With the changing staircases, he found himself tripping over himself and shouting out to people to get help. When he finally reached the front doors, he had alarmed nearly everyone in the castle.
Remus lead the way through panicked students. "What is going on?" He shouted this over the heads of the talking students, but Sirius just pushed at his back to move him forward. They followed the crowd out onto the front lawn and Remus was barely able to breathe before Sirius took off towards the courtyards. "Sirius! Where are you going?"
"Look. Look at them!" Sirius shouted. As Remus rushed to catch up to him, he could see where Sirius was pointing. A very large crowd of students had now gathered in a circle in the courtyard, presumably around something or someone in the middle. When he reached the circle, Sirius began shoving past students to get through. "Get out of my way! Get out of my way!"
Remus followed close behind him, taking a more polite approach to get people to move, though he was just as panicked. He hoped, desperately, that the reason Harry's name had been shouted was to gain the boy's attention to whatever was going on, and not because he was the event itself. Sirius quickly got far ahead of Remus, and he knew immediately when his best friend had broken through the crowd.
A strangled cry flew from Sirius's mouth as he saw Harry laying, crumpled on the ground. Rushing forward, he slumped to his knees next to his godson, his hands just hovering over the boy's body, worried he'd hurt him further if he touched him. "Harry…" He breathed out, shaking his head as he tried to figure out if the boy was breathing or not. All he could feel or hear was the overwhelming thumping of his heart from his throat to his stomach. "What happened?" He was looking up at Ron now, who was sitting on the opposite side of Harry, his face white with shock. "Did he fall?"
Remus had just reached the clearing when Ron choked out "Yeah." Remus fell next to Sirius, one hand going to his best friend's shoulder and the other to the grass next to Harry's leg. "We…we were fighting. He fell. It's my fault." Shaking his head, Ron couldn't go any further. Hermione pulled him up from the grass and away from any reaction Sirius could have to that confession.
Harry shifted, groaning slightly. Sirius put a hand on either side of Harry's head, resting them in the grass. "Shh, Harry…don't move. We're going to get you help."
"Can I touch him? Can I move him? We need to get him to Madame Pompfrey." Sirius chocked out, but the med witch was already hurrying through the crowds. She kneeled down next to Harry, practically shooing Remus to the side. The werewolf kept his hand firmly on Sirius's shoulder, however, though it shook rather violently.
Waving her wand over Harry's body for diagnostic, Pomfrey looked up with a surly expression. "Enough! Enough! Back away, back away. Give the poor boy some space. Headmaster, please." As she went back to her work, Sirius looked up to see Dumbledore coming out of the crowd. McGonagall was pushing students back with a few other teachers, trying to divert their attention elsewhere with threats of detention.
"Is he…" Dumbledore asked delicately, his voice quiet. "Is he going to be alright, Poppy?" Remus slowly stood up, attempting to take Sirius with him, but ending up having to leave him on the ground with Harry.
Standing now, Pomfrey nodded slowly. "He should be. You can move him, Mr. Black, if you insist. I can levitate him with a stretcher, but if you'd rather-"
"-I'll rather carry him." Sirius quickly interrupted, reaching forward for Harry. Picking him up with relative ease, Sirius cradled his godson as gently as he could against his chest, careful to keep his head against his shoulder. Standing now, he followed Pomfrey, Remus, and Dumbledore to the hospital wing.
"Just lay him down on the bed there." Pomfrey said, trying to gather what she needed. Sirius moved to set Harry carefully down on the bed, visibly more relaxed now that they were away from the crowds leering over "The Boy Who Just May Not Live". Grabbing a chair, Sirius pulled up right next to Harry's bed, his hands smoothing down the boys hair and trying not to touch any of the obviously broken limbs.
Remus took a seat next to Sirius while Dumbledore stood near the end of the bed, and as Pomfrey came back over, all were tense. "He was bleeding profusely when I arrived, but I managed to stop it quickly. He didn't lose too much blood and that's easily fixed, but any head injury is a concern. Mr. Weasley told me he fell from a second floor window, which is quite a fall. I'm frankly surprised Mr. Potter is still breathing. He's broken an uncountable amount of bones, mostly in his legs. He's going to need a long recovery if I can get him to wake up."
"Any internal damage, Poppy?" Dumbledore asked quietly after a moment of silence. Remus and Sirius were just staring at Harry, unable to speak.
Nodding, Pomfrey began setting Harry's bones one by one, a long process. "My diagnostic came up with a few broken ribs which were closed to puncturing his lungs, but I think if I'm careful in setting them, he should be fine." She then prepared his potions using magical sort of IVS that transferred them straight into his bloodstream.
"His body is in shock right now, and we won't know the extent of his injuries until he wakes up. His reflexes are relatively normal, but it's impossible to know the extent of possible brain damage until he's entirely responsive." After wiping her hands on her apron, she pulled the curtains around Harry's bed and his guardians. "I would wake him myself, but it would be better for him to do so on his own. Please retrieve me when he does."
As she disappeared, taking Dumbledore with her, Sirius slumped against the back of his chair. Remus reached over and grabbed his arm, squeezing it gently. Swallowing, Sirius closed his eyes for a moment, his jaw quivering as it set itself against any sort of emotion creeping up his throat.
"Madame Pomfrey is being as honest as she always is, Sirius. If she says that Harry has a good chance, then she means it. He's been in scrapes before and he's come out of it fine. He'll come out of this one too." Exhaling, Remus watched Sirius. "What are you thinking?"
Sirius shifted in his seat, his face set in a seemingly permanent state of shock. "I want to know how this happened." He whispered. "Harry's foolish and he's reckless but I have a hard time believing he would throw himself out of a window. Suicidal is a trait I'd put towards myself more at this moment then him."
"That isn't funny." Remus snapped then, catching Sirius off guard. "And Harry didn't throw himself out of the window. He was either pushed or it was an accident." Remus was quiet for a moment, thinking. "In these sorts of situations, I find it's easiest to turn to Ron and Hermione."
"Ron was with him." Sirius said slowly, looking towards the door now, as if the boy would suddenly materialize. "Regardless of how it happened, It's ridiculous that I am constantly told he's safe here and then he falls off of brooms and out of windows. You're going to have to start following him around."
"I can't be everywhere." Remus replied, though he knew this was a definite possibility, following Harry around for the rest of the term. "I suppose I should take the map back so I can keep tabs on him."
"The smartest use for it since it was made, I'm sure." Sirius said with a small, humorless smile. As he opened his mouth to suggest something else, there was a knock to the doorframe. Looking up, his eyes darkened slightly.
Remus stood up, giving a small smile. "Hello, Ron. Why don't you come in? I think we may need to have a bit of talk."
Ron hesitantly took a few steps towards Harry's bed, looking past the curtain at his best friend laying there. Once he saw his condition, his face paled further. "Is he okay? I-I mean-" He looked at Sirius, who looked to be growing impatient already. "Is he going to be okay?"
"Why don't you take a seat?" Remus asked, pushing his chair towards Ron. "We'd like to know what happened. Harry has some fairly seriously injuries and it would help Madame Pomfrey heal him if she knew how he obtained them."
Shaking his head, Ron took a step away from the chair. "I-well-" Visibly nervous, his hands twitched in his sleeves. "We were fighting. Harry and I. Arguing and he said something to me and I wasn't thinking. It was an accident."
Sirius slowly stood up from his chair then, looking from Harry to Ron in what seemed to be growing realization. "What did you do?" He asked, his voice a lot louder then he intended.
"It was an accident!" Ron repeated, his eyes widening in fear. Remus put a hand on Sirius's shoulder, who shrugged it off. "I swear that I-I didn't mean to. We were arguing, like I said, and I pulled my wand out, to get him to listen to me. Sparks shot out, and he…he fell…"
Remus grabbed Sirius's arm as he took a step forward and Sirius didn't stop him this time. "You pushed him out the window. A second story window! Ron, he could have been killed. Do you understand? You could have KILLED him." He was shouting now, but he didn't seem to notice.
"Stop it." Remus whispered quietly, pulling Sirius back a bit. "There's nothing Ron can do about it now."
"Right!" Ron gasped out, nodding now. "Professor Lupin is right. Plus, I'm not entirely at fault here. Harry provoked me!
Remus's eyes widened then as Sirius lunged towards Ron. Grabbing both of his arms, he yanked Sirius back. "Stop it! Padfoot, you're acting like a child. And you-" He looked at Ron then, wondering for a split second whether or not he should have just let Sirius wring his neck. "I think it's better you leave and go catch Hermione up on what's going on. We'll let you know if he improves."
Ron couldn't get away fast enough and he was out of the door in seconds. Sirius seemed to contemplate going after him, but instead turned towards Harry with a frustrated sigh. "Stupid! Stupid kid. Waving his wand around like a fist. You'd think after six years of training, he'd learn something." Sitting down next to Harry again, he stared at him hard, willing him to wake up. "He better hope Harry comes out of this."
"He will." Remus's voice was tired and resigned as he sat next to Sirius, clutching his shoulder now tightly. "Sirius, he's going to be fine. I know you're scared." The last few words came out hushed for only Sirius to hear. "But you know as well as I do that Ron isn't entirely at fault. It was an accident."
Sirius's face softened and sobered and he placed both of his hands on Harry's bed, his fingers tightening around the covers. "His life has been all about one accident after another. And I'm not here." Tightening his jaw as he did before, he leaned down to press his forehead to the fists now resting on the bed. "Everyone's there to catch him but me."
"You're there." Remus whispered insistently. "You may have not always been able to be physically there, but you have him in your mind more than anyone else does. You're there for him."
Shaking his head, Sirius sat up. "All I hear is how I could be a better godfather. A better father in general. All I hear is that I should have never been in the first place. Look at him, Remus. They're right. What am I doing?"
"Your best." Remus's voice was fierce and insistent. "Stop listening to Molly Weasley, Sirius. She doesn't know what's better for Harry more than anyone else and certainly not you. James and Lily wanted you as his godfather for a reason and you know why. From the moment he was born, you were whom Harry trusted the most and that connection is still there. You're the first he comes to, the first he confides in. But you can't always be there."
"I want to be." Sirius took one of Harry's hands in both of his then, his eyes inspecting it as if he could discover what was wrong with him there. "I want to prove her wrong. And Moody, Snape, and Dumbledore. Prove to them that I'm cut out for this, that Harry is a good kid and that I'm doing right by him. And how can I do that when every time I look away, he ends up here?"
"Harry is a reckless kid, Sirius, that has little to do with you and more to do with him." Remus laughed quietly then. "In this case, however, we've got to give him a break. Like you said, he didn't throw himself from the window and Ron didn't necessarily push him either. He fell. It was an accident and what you can do now is take care of him when he wakes up."
Sirius pulled Harry's covers further over the boy. "If he wakes up. One of these days he won't."
Remus didn't know what to say to that, which left them in a heavy silence. "I'm going to go see if I can't get the house elves to bring us some food, okay? Let me know if he wakes up." Remus reached forward to squeeze Sirius's wrist again before standing and moving from the room.
Sirius turned back to look at Harry after Remus left, his shoulders straightening to the back of his chair. "What have you gotten yourself into, Kiddo? Look at you. What happened to that little boy who I used to catch when he fell off the couch? When did you upgrade from couches to windows and brooms?"
Standing up, Sirius moved to pour himself a glass of water. Suddenly, he wasn't sure food was such a good idea for right then. He couldn't control the waves of nerves in his stomach. "I have the right mind to keep you home from now on, you know. We'll just have to get Remus to quit his job and teach you from Grimmauld Place."
He sat down again then, clutching his glass tightly. "But I can't do that. I know you love it here. Why, I'm not sure at this point. But I can't make you unhappy." Reaching up, he fluffed Harry's pillow, trying to distract himself. "I just wish your happiness didn't mean what seems to be a death wish."
A cough came from Harry's throat then, and he shifted slightly. "Resent that. No death wish." He was struggling to open is eyes now as Sirius startled in his chair.
"How long have you been awake?" Sirius reached forward to keep Harry from moving too much. "Don't hurt yourself, Harry, how do you feel?"
Harry's eyes finally opened and he warily blinked against the bright lights of the hospital wing. "Not long." His eyes finally settled on Sirius then, seeing relief and worry staring back at him. "M'fine, Sirius."
"You fell from a window, Kid, you're not fine." Standing up now, he moved to alert Pomfrey before immediately returning to his seat. "You broke nearly every bone in your body. No more standing near open windows for you."
Harry laughed weakly at that, watching Madame Pomfrey bustle over to check on him. "Glad to seee you are alert and talking, Mr. Potter. What kind of pain are you feeling?"
"About a seven." Harry replied with a wince. "I can't move anything." Sirius looked alarmed at this, but Pomfrey hardly blinked in response.
"That's normal." Pomfrey moved to add more pain killing potions to his IV. "As your bones heal, it can be very painful and these potions will help curve that. The Pepper-Up and Blood Replenishing potions I'm adding now will strengthen your system so that it can fight off the pain on it's own."
"How long will he be in this much pain?" Sirius's voice was worried as he now helped Harry take a drink from the glass he had poured.
Adding another thick quilt to Harry's already towering blankets, Pomfrey replied, "A few days. I want to keep him here the rest of the week or until he can walk. Most of the damage is in his legs, as Mr. Potter smartly used them in his landing." Sirius opened his mouth to speak, but the medi-witch cut him off. "And yes, you may stay with him, but do try to keep his troublesome friends out of my hospital wing. You and Professor Lupin are one thing. The entire Gryffindor Tower is another."
Once Madame Pomfrey walked away, Sirius smoothed a hand down the blankets, tucking them around his godson. "I really don't think it will be a problem to keep your friends out of here. It's not as if I want them in here to begin with." He shook his head, looking frustrated as he pressed a hand to Harry's forehead.
"It was an accident." Harry said quietly, relaxing against the covers. Absolutely every inch of his body was sore and he didn't want to move for fear it would get worse. "It wasn't Ron's fault, it just happened."
Sirius ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, well, a lot of things seem to just happen to you. I feel like every time I hear from you, or come up to this school, it's because something else happened. I want to believe that you're safe here and that I can rest easy at home knowing you're well looked after…but it's difficult." He looked at Remus then, worry in his eyes. "Remus is going to keep a better eye on you from now on.
Harry let out a sigh of frustration, closing his eyes. "I do not need to be babysat."
"Apparently you do!" Sirius exclaimed, making Harry wince. He lowered his voice then, his face softening. "I'm sorry, I just… I love you, Kiddo. More than anything in the world and it absolutely kills me to see you in so much pain. I live in this constant worry and fear that something is going to happen to you, and for good reason. You're not only a klutz, but you have quite the track record."
Opening his eyes, Harry watched his godfather for a moment, realizing that he really was just trying to help. "I promise, I'll be more careful. And I'll write to you more, floo more, so you don't have to worry so much." He looked to Remus then. "And I'll surrender the map and listen to you more, I promise."
Remus looked relieved then, glad he didn't have to fight with Harry about any of it. "See, Sirius? He's learning things from this." He squeezed his best friend's shoulder, giving him a knowing smile. "We just need you to understand how important you are to us. You're our family and we don't want anything to happen to you."
Sirius nodded, smoothing a hand through Harry's hair. "We love you, Kiddo." He said quietly. "You're all we have. So, if I start sending you ten owls a day and dropping by more often than usual, you'll know it's because I care." He half teased, making Harry laugh weakly.
"I need to start talking to you more, I know." Harry said quietly. "I'm tired, but… tomorrow, I'll start filling you in on what Dumbledore has told me, okay?" He looked at Remus then. "That goes for you two. I know he wants it to be between just us, but it's too hard to keep things from you guys."
Sirius looked significantly relieved then. "Good, thank you." He ran a hand down his face. "I know it's between the two of you, but if we're going to be beside you while you face what's coming, we all need to be informed. And you know I've always wanted you to be in the loop of things from the beginning. I hate when people keep things from you."
"I know." Harry said quietly, smiling now. "And that's why it's only fair. I can't do this alone, and I can't do this with just Ron and Hermione helping me. I need you guys." He closed his eyes then, feeling the exhaustion taking over. "I'm so tired, though." It was obvious he meant from more than just the accident.
Sirius smoothed Harry's hair back from his forehead, worrying his lip. "I know." He whispered, looking at Remus. Remus clutched Sirius's shoulder and they both watched as Harry drifted off to sleep. They knew that when the time came, they wouldn't be able to fight to the end with Harry, but they would certainly try to get as close as they could.