Author's Note: Welcome to my story, Keep Holding On. For those of you who are reading Love is Immortal, I promise I am keeping up with that story as well. But I suddenly had the idea a few days ago for this one, and I am really anxious to get it started.
Just to warn you, there will be a lot of conflict between Sirius and Albus in this story. They don't agree on what's best for Harry! Also, some Sirius and Molly Weasley interaction, along with our old favorite Remus Lupin thrown into the mix. Snape will also be featured, along with of course, Ron and Hermione. Many other oldies but goodies will appear, including the big bad Voldemort himself.
Please enjoy, and please review! I'd love to know what you think!
Keep Holding On
Chapter 1: Broken Child
"Please explain yourself, Sirius." Dumbledore said, his blue eyes trained on the haggered, tortured man in front of him. The two of them were sitting in Madame Pomfrey's office; she had given them the privacy they needed. She was currently making her rounds in the hospital wing.
Sirius stared straight back at Dumbledore, his mind swirling with thoughts. In this hospital wing, lying in a bed after being an unwilling participant of tonight's horrific events, lay the most precious thing in the world to him. Harry Potter, the boy he loved more than his own life, the boy he used to cradle as a baby and hadn't been able to protect for so many devastating years, his godson, was so close now.
The reason the two men were sitting in this room now, staring daggers at each other, was because of the fact that Sirius had refused the elder's orders. Earlier tonight, there had been an uproar. Bartemius Crouch, Jr. had been kissed by a dementor due to the orders of Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic. And the Minister of Magic clearly did not believe Harry's story about Lord Voldemort having returned.
After Fudge had stormed out of the wing, Dumbledore had given the staff gathered around him orders. "Lie low at Lupin's for a while, and then go with him, in your disguise, to gather the old crowd," he had said to Sirius.
And Sirius had looked Dumbledore straight in the eye, his resolve hardening at the man's neutral expression. He would, under no circumstances, do as he had been told. "No," he had said with no fear. "I am staying with Harry. He's been through hell tonight, and he needs to be with someone who loves him."
"It's okay, Sirius," Harry's soft voice had protested. "You need to do as Dumbledore says. It's okay."
"No, it's not, and I will not do as he says." Sirius didn't care that even Voldemort feared Dumbledore. Right now, all he knew was that despite what the other might do, he would stay with his godson. He'd made the mistake of leaving Harry before, almost fourteen years before - Hagrid had convinced him to let the boy be taken to the Dursleys. He'd then done the worst thing possible - gone after Pettigrew for revenge, subsequently landing himself in Azkaban. He would neglect Harry no longer. He came before revenge, before reforming the Order, before anything in the whole world.
Harry had continued to stare pleadingly at him with his haunted green eyes, but Sirius had not budged. Dumbledore hadn't said anything more on the subject then, but had just given Sirius a look that clearly said that they'd talk later.
And now, here they were, sitting in the nurse's office, Dumbledore's blue chips of crystal boring into Sirius's haunted gray orbs.
"Fine," said Sirius as he finally got his thoughts together enough to answer Dumbledore's demand. "Here's my explanation," he added in a sarcastic drawl worthy of any Black. "I am not your servant, Dumbledore. You can't order me to leave my godson when he has just been through an ordeal that many adult witches and wizards have never faced. The boy is broken, and I need to be there for him."
"Sirius, he has many who are there for him," Dumbledore said, his face still unflappably calm. "He has Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger, and others who will make sure he makes it through."
Sirius, whose temper had been so close to the surface, finally lost his patience. "Are you a fool?" he snarled, slamming his fists on Madame Pomfrey's desk. "You have known Harry for longer than me and yet I know him inside more than you seem to! Did you see the look in his eyes, Dumbledore? He's haunted, devastated, alone ... many of us saw people die in battle when we were eighteen years old," he said, his voice now dangerously soft. "Harry is fourteen. Fourteen! And he saw someone fall tonight. And I know all about guilt, and that's what he feels right now. Crushing, agonizing guilt that's eating him up inside."
"Sirius, I assure you," Dumbledore said, his voice now gentle. "Harry will have the best care offered to him."
"Yes, he will, because I will do all in my power to take care of him," Sirius said, his eyes still locked with Dumbledore's. "You can order me around all you want, but I won't be doing your bidding. I'm not leaving Harry. Not ever again. I left him before, and look what happened. I was a fool, and I refuse to be one again. Harry is my number one priority, he's more important than any of your plans to reform the Order. Don't think for a second that I won't help to fight Voldemort, I will fight him with every fiber of my being. But protecting Harry comes first. Do you understand me?"
But Sirius didn't give Dumbledore a chance to answer the rhetorical question. Instead, he marched out of the office and over to the bed where he knew Harry was lying. The child had been given a potion for dreamless sleep, but as Sirius got closer to the bed, he realized it didn't seem to be working. He knew, with a sinking heart, that Harry's mind was too full of nightmares for the potion to take effect.
As he reached the bed, he saw that Harry's whole body was trembling. He moaned one name over and over again, very, very softly, but Sirius could still make it out.
"Cedric ... Cedric ... no, no, no, Cedric ..."
Feeling his heart constrict with anguish, Sirius gently lifted the covers off of the child. Beads of sweat were collecting on the boy's forehead, and Sirius tenderly wiped them away. Harry flinched, and this broke Sirius even more.
Sirius then tenderly picked up the frail child in his arms and sat on the bed with him. "Harry, kiddo, I've got you now," he said gently, rubbing small circles on Harry's back. "It's okay. It's going to be okay." He knew these words were far from true, but he had to say something to comfort his godson.
Harry suddenly let out a sharp cry, his whole body tensing. "No!" he screamed. "No, Cedric! Get away! He's going to kill you!"
"Harry!" Sirius cried, beginning to shake his shoulders, trying to wake him up. "Harry, Harry, come on, kiddo, wake up now. It's only a horrible nightmare. You're safe, Harry, you're safe."
After a few moments, Harry jerked awake, his wide, terrified green eyes darting around the room, finally resting on Sirius. The man held him close, continuing to rub his back as Harry slowly got his bearings.
Harry's breathing was ragged as he buried his face in Sirius's robes, holding onto him desperately. After several more agonizing seconds, he let out a few choked noises. Sirius realized, with even more heartache, that the sounds escaping his godson were harsh sobs.
"I'm ... I'm sorry," Harry wailed, his entire face pressed into Sirius's robes as his entire body began to shake with his crying. "I'm sorry I made you disobey Dumbledore. I'm sorry for everything that's happened. I'm sorry I'm causing so much trouble for the Ministry. And ... oh God ..." A sharp cry came from his lips as more tears stremed from his eyes. "Cedric ... I'm sorry I couldn't protect ... I couldn't save Cedric."
Sirius could feel tears gathering in his own eyes as he saw the emotional pain his precious boy was in. "Oh, kiddo," he said, his voice hoarse. "You didn't make me do anything, Harry. It was my own choice to stay with you, nobody else's. And as for the Ministry, they've always had their heads stuck so far in the sand that they don't know how to get them out. All you are doing is telling the truth, and if they don't believe you, they're all fools. And ... Harry, look at me." He tenderly lifted Harry's chin so he could look into his tear-filled, bloodshot emerald eyes. "I know you're not going to believe it now," he whispered, "But Cedric's death was not your fault. No one blames you. You did everything you could for him, kiddo, especially at the end. Many adult witches and wizards would not have had the courage and strength you did in bringing him back to his loved ones so at least they could have closure."
He stroked the boy's hair as Harry continued to sob. He was crying too hard to speak now, and Sirius understood. He would just continue to hold him until he got it all out. He knew it was going to be an extremely hard, treacherous road to healing for this young child. It was so unfair. He could hardly believe that this was the cooing, happy baby he had once cradled, the baby who used to throw tantrums because he didn't like the food he had to eat, the baby he'd barked at playfully in his Animagus form as his soft fur was stroked.
Finally, after minutes on end, Harry's weeping subsided, and he looked up into Sirius's gray eyes, his face full of shame. "I'm sorry," he muttered.
"Harry, you have nothing to be sorry for," Sirius said gently. "Nothing at all. I'm the one who should be sorry."
"Why?" Harry asked, clear confusion in his tone now. "Why do you say that?"
"I left you alone," Sirius said, his voice hoarse with emotion again. "All this time, I haven't been there for you. I chose revenge on Peter over taking care of you, and I'll never forgive myself for that. But I promise you, I'm going to do all in my power to take care of you now. No matter what Dumbledore orders me to do, no matter what stands in my way, I'm never leaving you again. Never."
In answer, Harry buried his face back into Sirius's robes, letting out a long, shaky breath. "Sleep now, Harry," Sirius whispered. "I'll hold you all night. I won't leave your side, I promise. Just sleep."
"Kay." Harry's voice was muffled as he closed his eyes. Sirius continued to hold him, and several minutes later, the boy's breathing had evened out. Harry was fast asleep.
And as Sirius sat, observing his sleeping godson for hours afterwards, he knew with a clear certainty that he would keep his promise. He would help to fix this broken child, and give him all the love he deserved. "I love you, kiddo," he whispered. "And you have my word. I'll never, ever leave you again."