They apparated onto a narrow gravel drive-way, it was the first time Harry had ever travelled that way before and he felt a momentary sickness in the stomach he appeared to have left behind a tree, in Magnolia Crescent.
"All right Harry?" asked Dumbledore, steadying Harry by taking his elbow.
"Yeah, fine thanks."
"It's this way," Dumbledore gestured up ahead, "I think you'll like it" he smiled.
For an old man Dumbledore walked surprisingly fast, and Harry, who still hadn't got around to growing taller (much to his annoyance), was soon breathing hard, for it was a windy path with many twists and turns. They circled the edge of a wood and the house that was Harry's new home finally came into view, hidden from prying eyes by the wood and stood upon a hill amongst hills. Back in the direction of the path they had just traversed was a barely visible muggle village nestled in a valley, and around the back of the house was what looked like a small field, just perfect for quidditch!
The house itself, Harry saw as they came closer, was clearly magical, with proportions that muggle builders would have laughed at for lack of support and a purple tiled roof.
The front garden was large and spilled out into the surrounding countryside for lack of a fence or wall, one of the plants had a long yellow drooping flower and similar leaves, only green, and the flower followed Harry's progress as he walked passed it.
There was a gurgling pond with great big tropical looking fish; they were so vibrant, and a real gnome was attacking a plastic muggle version whose cute features and little red fishing rod seemed to be causing offence. A purring shrub entranced Harry, until he saw it snap up a just-as-curious potato headed gnome, he was relieved when it spat the gnome back out, apparently the little garden creature didn't taste very nice.
"This way Harry. You're expected." reminded Dumbledore, gently ushering a fascinated Harry away from a creeping vine that was chasing the unlucky gnome who'd just been regurgitated.
They headed towards the front door, crazy paving had been placed as a path to follow amongst the garden, as Harry watched, it morphed into different shapes and patterns behind them. The front door was beneath a small arching porch and had a gremlin for a doorknocker, its ugly little face scowled at them and stuck out a long tongue to bang against the door to announce their presence. Harry was grinning stupidly, he was already having more fun than he'd ever had with the Dursleys in all his long years with them, the magical garden promised much to explore and he was looking forward to living in a magical house other than the Weasleys.
The gremlin was just swinging up it's curved tongue to bang again when the door swung open inwards, Sirius stood there, tall enough for his head to just touch the frame of the door but skinny enough to let plenty of light through.
"Good Morning Sirius," said Dumbledore, smiling, "I've bought you Harry".
Sirius grinned; his hair was now chestnut brown and had been cut short so that it no longer fell into his eyes, his eyes were still blue but his face had altered subtly, it was slightly less long and more square around the jaw. He looked nothing like the wanted criminal who had greasy long black hair and a sunken face with hollow cheeks, he even looked far removed from the man in Harry's Mum and Dad's wedding photo, older, a man with weight on his shoulders, responsibility. But he still looked like Sirius, the condition was that Sirius would go no where public at all if possible so this was just in case someone visited the house, though that was unlikely.
"Hello Professor Dumbledore, hi Harry."
"Hi Sirius, great garden!" exclaimed Harry, grinning right back from behind Dumbledore.
"Glad you like it, I thought you might, seeing as you've lived with muggles for most of your life. Do you want a cup of tea Professor?"
"That would be most appreciated, and then I must get back to work." Albus Dumbledore nodded and stepped inside, Harry followed him but couldn't keep from blurting out in horror:
Dumbledore and Sirius laughed out right and Harry laughed sheepishly.
"Sorry," he apologised.
"No need, that's always my reaction too. Then of course Professor McGonagall tells me to 'get on with it and stop being such a baby', a rather forthright comment that one wouldn't normally expect from her." Dumbledore sighed in mock distress and winked at Harry, "Of course we all get snappish when we have to work in summer, the child in us cries out to play."
Sirius snorted and tried to cover it up with a cough but he caught Harry's eye so they both had to turn away to hide grins.
"Well, uh, this is the kitchen and as you can see- the dining room"
They had walked into a kitchen that curved alongside a wall decorated with wallpaper covered in various dishes of food and some recipes like 'How to boil an egg'.
"Remus thought it might be helpful," said Sirius, noticing Harry examining the pot of burning porridge that was the illustration beside 'What Not To Do' on the wallpaper, the pictures all moved, here the smoke was curling black and acrid looking, up towards the guidelines for roast beef.
"I don't think he has much faith in my cooking abilities, not that they've had a chance to improve yet."
"I can cook a bit," said Harry, "The Dursleys taught me so I could help Aunt Petunia."
Sirius frowned, putting the kettle on the hob, and lighting the hob with his wand. The kitchen curved back out forming an S shape and then a breakfast like bar protruded, it's wooden surface scarred by many years of use, but still strong and capable, to Harry's amusement the pepper pot was dancing a waltz with the salt pot across its surface.
Beyond the breakfast bar the room extended in to a orange carpeted dining room, complete with an oval table and 5 tall ornately backed chairs, the windows were large and all the way down to the floor with great curving latches to open them out like doors into the garden. The curtains were drawn so that Harry could see the room looked West, into a back garden that looked somewhat overgrown in places, and then opening up into a larger field where the grass had grown long and was littered with buttercups and daisies.
"We haven't got around to decorating the dining room yet, and the garden isn't quite weeded and everything but I thought we could do it together, figure out how we'd like it to look, you know?" said Sirius, awkwardly, holding a tea bag in each hand.
"It's brilliant!" said Harry, staring out the large dining room windows, warmth flooding him, making him feel like he must be glowing with happiness. "It's absolutely fantastic!" he turned to grin at Sirius who grinned back looking somewhat relieved, behind him Dumbledore was making the tea, pouring hot water into a huge very pink tea pot, next to three similarly bright blue cups, and humming as he did so.
"You haven't seen your bedroom yet," warned Sirius not really sounding worried anymore, he waved a tea bag at Harry, "It's in Gryffindor colours, red and gold, Remus helped, said I had horrible taste and couldn't be trusted."
Dumbledore, Harry noticed, was now stirring in a sugar lump into one of three bright blue cups of tea, and seemed completely oblivious to them.
"If you bought the tea pot I can see why he might think that." murmured Harry
"What's wrong with my tea pot?" asked Sirius, taking the cup of tea Dumbledore handed him and dropping one tea bag, "Thanks."
"It's very bright," said Harry teasingly serious, "In fact it's bright pink."
"What's wrong with pink?" said Sirius sounding hurt, and pouting his lips ridiculously, Harry simply grinned at him.
Professor Dumbledore turned to Harry and held out one of the blue cups of tea, "no sugar, Harry?" he queried, smiling broadly.
"No sir," confirmed Harry, daring to smile back, and took the cup from his favourite (not counting Hagrid) professor's hand.
"Oh, you made tea." Sirius looked at his own cup "I was doing that."
"I am sorry," said Dumbledore, his blue eyes twinkling, "You appeared to be otherwise occupied."
"I guess I was." Sirius dropped the remaining tea bag that had been dangling from his left hand. "Oh, won't you sit down?" he waved toward the dining room chairs and Professor Dumbledore took one opposite Harry who had happily taken one next to Sirius.
There was a moment of silence, Harry resisted the urge to twirl his cup around and risk spillage on the woodwork, Sirius was slurping noisily and nervously, and Dumbledore was blithely enjoying the view the westward windows offered.
The silence stretched.
"I was thinking we could get some pictures of the old group up on the walls," said Sirius suddenly, "You know, Remus, James and Lily… me."
"Can you remove people from photos?" asked Harry curiously.
"Sure." Sirius nodded, "We could burn them out," he added nastily.
"Would they scream?" Harry said eagerly.
"We'll have to see." said a vindictive sounding Sirius, Dumbledore cast him a stern glance and he sobered up.
"You know though, you coming to live with me… It should all be about making a future, not constantly revisiting the past. I had enough of that with the dementors in Azkaban." Sirius shivered, his expression darkening again as a memory of pain fluttered across his face.
"I want Peter, Wormtail -rat that he is- to get his just deserts, but that's no longer my only reason for living. I really want to be there for you, Harry. I don't want you to suffer because… well, I want to make things better, to - to try and give you a home, a place where you can know you'll always be wanted and loved, because I know that's what Lily and James would have wanted… It breaks my heart that they aren't here for you, it really does. I don't know what to say, nothing can make it better, nothing can make them come back, and I know that there will never be anything quite like them. But I really, really want to try, to try being a family, having a home, because, because that's what Lily and James would have wanted."
Sirius was studying his tea cup intensely as he said this, his voice broken and strained with emotion, and as Harry watched, a tear coursed silently down his Godfather's cheek, dripping with a little 'plop' into the tea.
"No one has ever wanted me as family before," whispered Harry, and he could hear the little catch in his voice, feel the hot tears welling behind his eyelids.
"The Dursleys called me a freak and locked me in the cupboard when I did something strange. Hogwarts has been my only home, and the Weasleys have been really kind, putting up with me, and everything, but nobody, nobody ever wanted me before." Harry made it sound as though he was some sort of undesirable creature, which was how he felt sometimes.
"Lily and James wanted you." Sirius looked Harry right in the eye.
"I know, but they're not here, and no matter how much I wish they were they're never coming back… Right?"
"Do you remember in third year when we caught Wormtail and were headed back to Hogwarts from the Shrieking Shack, after you'd escaped from Azkaban?"
"Mm." Sirius was watching Harry, his head propped on one elbow and his tea forgotten.
"You asked me if I wanted to live with you, you remember? Snape's head kept banging and scraping along the ceiling and you just asked me, if I wanted to." Harry grinned remembering Snape's lolling head and Sirius' nonchalance about it. Sirius cast a nervous look at Dumbledore who had suddenly deigned to look in on the conversation again with a rather disapproving eye.
"Not," said Harry, noticing this, "that there was anything you could do to avoid that, um."
"Just continue with the story Harry, preferably quickly!" ordered Sirius as Dumbledore opened his mouth.
"Well I just think I forgot to say how incredibly wonderful that was, the thought of going away from the Dursleys, it was something, a feeling, that was, awesome! I was so happy I thought I could explode! Now, I'm finally here and it's better than I thought already, accept you're not free… but I mean, I just want to say, that, that I'm really glad to be here, with you. And that to have a home, this home, would be, would be… Just fantastic, amazing, completely out of this world!" Harry swallowed, and realised his eyes were wet, he blinked furiously, not wanting to cry in front of both Dumbledore and Sirius. "I love it," he finally got out, "and thank you so much for giving it to me."
"There is nothing I would rather be doing than giving you a home, Harry James Potter, my Godson, my friend." Sirius swept his arms wide and gave Harry a hug that was returned ferociously, and neither mentioned Harry's wet face and Sirius' damp shirt, because their eyes were shining with happiness.
Albus Dumbledore had wondered whether he ought to move, but hadn't got around to it, he had made a mistake placing Harry Potter with his muggle relatives, but then, who else had there been who could offer the same kind of protection? He scratched his beard and watched the man and boy embrace rather awkwardly, spilling Sirius' cup of tea in the process, there was much strength here, and love and it warmed Albus' heart to see it. It was just what Lily and James would have wished for both their son and their best friend, and what Albus wished for them both also.
"Let's uh, let's not have another sentimental scene like that again, at least not for uh, ages!" Sirius grimaced, speaking to Harry, "and definitely not in front of your, our Headmaster."
Harry flushed, suddenly mortified to realise that his whole soppy (and soggy) breakdown had been viewed by a man he looked up to with an incredible amount of respect.
"Definitely," he agreed fervently. Albus Dumbledore laughed and Sirius and Harry looked at him, surprised, the venerable old man was chortling into his beard like a regular old Santa Claus, Harry looked at Sirius, confused, and Sirius just gave a shrug as if to say -it is Dumbledore, after all.
"Well, I had better be going. Just one more thing Harry," said Dumbledore, trying to contain a smile, "should you have any visitors, even myself, always refer to Sirius as Marcus, just in case."
"You mean someone might use polyjuice?" Harry wondered aloud.
"How do you know about polyjuice potion? I don't remember studying that until sixth year." said Sirius giving Harry a bewildered glance, "Have you been reading up on potions!"
"Mr Potter utilised the potion in his second year I believe, with the help of Miss Hermione Granger, who accidentally used a cat hair, hmm?" Dumbledore gave his characteristically piercing stare, but his smile took the edge away. Harry was struck by the thought that the Headmaster was slightly impressed, it buoyed him up enough to ask:
"How do you know that?" but the Headmaster simply smiled enigmatically.
"Remember Harry, Sirius' new name is Marcus, and you absolutely must not refer to him as anything else when in company, or outside the warded area of this house and its grounds."
"Yes sir. Marcus what?"
"Wintergreen. Marcus Wintergreen."
"Its sounds like some sort of plant." Harry smirked at a disgruntled looking Sirius, "I'll remember, sir."
"Good, then all that remains is for me to un-shrink your trunk and owl cage."
Harry got up and placed the tiny miniatures on the floor beside the Headmaster, with a muttered spell, Harry's trunk suddenly grew ten sizes bigger and Hedwig's cage rattled around as it popped back to its original size.
"Thank you, Sir."
"That's all right." Dumbledore stood up and bypassed Harry's trunk to shake Sirius' hand. "Any problems just fire me," (Harry stared, utterly baffled, until he remembered wizards could communicate through their fireplaces.)
"Thank you Professor, for letting me do this." Sirius opened the front door for the Headmaster and Harry followed silently.
"It is my belief that you'll be very good for each other. Have a fun summer holiday Harry," said Dumbledore, turning his head to look at Harry.
"Yes sir, I think I will." said Harry cheerfully, and stood beside Sirius on the porch as Dumbledore walked outside into the vivid over flowing garden. The Headmaster's blue robes swept around him in the slight wind and his beard was lifted up, he reminded Harry of the powerful wizard Merlin, whose pictures and portraits were littered in Hogwarts books and its age old halls of learning.
"You know, Headmaster, you'll always be welcome here," called out Sirius suddenly, and Dumbledore paused and grinned, lifting a hand in acknowledgement and farewell.
"Don't forget to let your inner child out to play Sir!" cried out Harry, feeling cheeky as he did so.
"Don't encourage him!" exclaimed Sirius, laughing and throwing an arm around Harry's shoulders, "He's the one who suggested the bathroom décor, and you haven't seen that yet!"
From the mirthful look Dumbledore gave them he had heard both their comments, and that was the last they saw of him, for he rounded the corner and was swallowed by the trees.
It was just them now, stood on the threshold of their new home, warmed by their hope and their love, and content to stand there in the afternoon sun, relishing the feeling of being wanted.
Authors Notes: That has to be the most soppy and sentimental load of rubbish I've ever written! Still, I think it had to be done, I meant to finish this chapter with Sirius and Harry having spent the day together but it was getting far too long- it's 3,000 words long as it is! I must stress that this is not going to be a slash fic (Harry/Sirius) but will be far more about building relationships between Sirius as a father figure and his godson, Harry. Future chapters will be more day to day living, with all the little quirks that entails, after all, Sirius hasn't exactly been living in a hotel for the last 13 years, and we will get flashes of those dark times as well as the 'real' world intruding occasionally. I plan to include Remus, since I like the bloke and think he deserves to be a part of this budding family, and of course a visit from those who know about Sirius' true nature, (yay that just so happens to include Snape!). This fic won't go beyond the summer holidays, I anticipate it being about 8 chapters long -provisionally, if I keep stretching it out as long as this chapter was, it'll be longer.
Esperanza,it was fun to write how the Dursleys would react to a full-grown wizard! Thank you for the review.
Ms. Prongs,okay so I didn't get the next chapter out ASAP, but do I get cookies for making it an extra long one? J thanx again.
Snowwy4,Thank you for the review.
Io,not updated at all soon I'm afraid, but I get the hint and will definitely do better next time! Thx.
mo,look, continued! Thank you.
Lucerito-del-alba,honoured to know that I got you 'interested', hope you're still interested! Thx.
Yay,hope this one lives up to the previous 2 chapters! Thank you.
Gabriela, Thank you, did you like Sirius? Next chapter will be more fun and light hearted.
Mrs Moony,well Marcus Wintergreen is his new name, but you don't want to know how many I went through before choosing it, and it doesn't sound like much does it? Thanks for the review.
Maeglin Yedi,I don't think Sirius' appearance changed too much, it wasn't really necessary I thought what with them living in the middle of no where! Thank you!
Rachel A. Prongs,the music of *chuckles*! Thanks!
Kit Cloudkicker,thank you for your review.
Lokia,thank you very much! I'm terrible at updates but I hope that won't put you off my work.
Anneliese,thank you for the enthusiastic praise, but I don't think I'm worth quite that much! This isn't so much a serious piece of 'plotted' work, as a look into how such a situation might turn out etc.
stormyfire,I do tend to make consistent grammatical mistakes, basically because I'm lazy (eeiikk) and more worried with the plot, thank you very much for the review, and maybe I will consider bothering you to be my beta! ;-)
Thelvyn,yes I am planning to continue this, I just took my time doing so! I figured Harry wasn't the sort to moan about his situation to Dumbledore, as he's quite a self-contained person and does seem to have a tendency in canon to 'grin and bear it' in some situations. I'm sure he'll be more forthcoming with Sirius! Thank you for your review!
and thank you to all anonymous reviewers -much appreciated!