PLEASE NOTE: The first few lines of this story have been taken from the first Harry Potter book. The rest of the story is by me.
“Where do you come from, anyway?” Harry asked.
The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry peered at it.
Boa Constrictor, Brazil.
“Was it nice there?”
Before Harry could watch for another reaction from the snake, he heard another voice ask, “Are you speaking Parseltongue?”
“Am I speaking what?” Harry asked, confused, looking up at the stranger next to him. Harry could see that he was well-built and tall, but quite thin. His thick black hair went a few inches past his shoulders, and it was clean but a bit untidy, as if it had been blown about in the wind, with a red-and-gold baseball cap turned sideways. There was something sunken and hollow about his face, and his expression of alarm didn’t help. He was wearing a sweatshirt that read I Brake For Skrewts and a rather obnoxious pair of ugly plaid pants. Harry came up to about his waist. Overall, the look was a bit strange, but not really frightening.
“Never mind, it’s nothing,” said the man, sticking his hands into the pockets of his sweatshirt, glancing at the snake, which had settled its head back down and resumed sleep.
“I like your sweatshirt,” said Harry, after a pause. “What are skrewts?”
“Oh, um…” The man seemed nervous, as if he hadn’t been expecting anyone to ask. “They’re…they’re a rock band. Pretty good, too.”
“Did you get it at a concert?”
“No, I just—” Midway through his reply, the man got a good look at Harry for the first time. Harry saw the gray eyes briefly graze his hairline where the lightning scar was, but the look of dawning comprehension truly hit as he took in Harry’s appearance—the black hair that stuck up in back, the startlingly green eyes, the glasses…This man looked thunderstruck. Finally, brow-knitted, he asked quietly, “Have…have we met before?”
“No,” Harry said nervously. But this wasn’t the first person who had recognized him in public, somehow. The only difference was, most of these people mysteriously disappeared as soon as he tried to get a closer look. This man was staying put.
“Is it Harry?” the man asked breathlessly. “Harry James Potter?”
“Well, nobody ever told me what my middle name was, but my name is Harry Potter…how did you—”
“Harry! Oh, Harry!”
Next thing you know the man had bent down and given Harry a rib-crushing hug, patting his back. After he broke the hug he put his hands on Harry’s shoulders, although he still had to bend down to do it; tears were suddenly gleaming in his eyes like wet pearls. “Oh my goodness….look at you…look at you…”
“Don’t remind me,” Harry mumbled, feeling very self-conscious of his messy hair, baggy clothes and taped glasses.
“Last time we met you were just a baby, and now you’re just the picture of your father, you’ve got his hair, his glasses, your hands could have been his…” The man tilted Harry’s chin up slightly. “But your eyes…you’ve still got your mother’s eyes.”
“R-Really?” Harry squeaked. Now he was shocked at the mention of his parents, about whom he had not been allowed to ask questions for the past ten years. But this man was speaking very openly about them as if they had been his friends, his close friends…
“Of course,” said the man. “I remember that.”
“Did you…did you know me when I was a baby?” Harry asked uncertainly.
“Oh yes, your aunt and uncle have probably never told you about me, seeing as we never met in person,” said the man matter-of-factly. “But please, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sirius Black. I was a good friend of your parents, and I am also your godfather.”
“M-My godfather?” Harry stammered, and Sirius nodded, so Harry asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was actually coming to visit you in Surrey, maybe have tea with your aunt and uncle if that’s okay,” said Sirius. “But I love animals. They’re great company if you’re feeling a bit lonely. So I thought I’d stop by here for a bit.”
“No offense, but I don’t think you’d be welcome for tea,” Harry told him. “Nothing personal…they just don’t like strangers.”
Something told Harry that Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia wouldn’t approve of the way Sirius was dressed, either. The plaid pants he had on were hurting his eyes.
“Oh…I see.” Sirius looked greatly disappointed as he looked around the reptile house. “Where are they, anyway? Are you lost?”
“No, they’re over there.” Harry pointed at the Dursleys and Piers Polkiss.
Sirius nodded. “Well, then, would you like me to buy you an ice cream or something before we part ways?”
“No sir,” Harry told him. “That’s nice, but you don’t have to do that…”
“I know I don’t have to,” said Sirius, “and please don’t call me Sir. But seeing as you’re my godson, and it’s going to be your birthday in about a month anyway—”
“How did you know when my birthday is?” Harry said in shock.
“Well, if I didn’t know when your birthday was, I wouldn’t be a very good godfather, would I?” Sirius shrugged. “But I know you don’t remember me. You couldn’t, you were just a baby when we parted, after all…it was ever so hard to let you go, all alone with no parents…”
“Hang on,” Harry said in a small voice, feeling a lump in his throat all of a sudden. In all of ten years, nobody had remembered his birthday. Harry figured that if he hadn’t been the same approximate age as his cousin Dudley, they probably wouldn’t know how old he was at all. There were never even any cards…nothing. Nobody had ever offered to buy him ice cream, and especially not as a birthday treat.
“What’s the matter?” said Sirius.
“N-Nothing…” Harry shook his head to show that nothing was wrong.
“It was a stupid idea,” said Sirius quickly. “I know it’s dodgy when strangers offer you ice cream. But I just thought, if we’re truly never going to see each other again…”
“I guess we could do it,” Harry said. Perhaps Sirius had stories about his parents, and what he was like when he was a baby. Maybe he knew more about the car accident that killed them. The thought of hearing all this was even more appealing than the ice cream.
Instead of the zoo restaurant, though, Sirius led Harry to the zoo gift shop. Harry asked why they were going there.
“Those clothes seem a bit big on you, don’t they?” said Sirius, looking at Dudley’s clothes. “I mean, it’ll probably be embarrassing to wear clothes that have the zoo logo all over them, but at least they’ll fit. C’mon.”
When they entered the Safari Gift Shop, Sirius thumbed through the merchandise while Harry watched him apprehensively.
“They’re hand-me-downs, you know,” Harry explained to Sirius. “My cousin’s clothes. But he’s, like, four times bigger than I am.”
“I noticed that,” said Sirius, looking past plush hanging monkeys, books about animals, and animal-themed jewelry. “I rather like this lion necklace…reminds me of my alma mater…”
Sirius grabbed the necklace, and they continued to look for clothes.
“It’s not much of a birthday present, I know,” Sirius continued as they reached the apparel. “Pretty sad, really.”
“This is the best birthday I’ve ever had, even if it is a bit early,” Harry said sincerely, and Sirius’s smile lit up his whole face, spreading right to his gray eyes.
Eventually they bought three different T-shirts, one sweatshirt, and two pairs of black track pants which, thankfully, did not have the zoo logo on them, just a picture of a lion. They had to buy the very smallest size, and Harry thought they might still be a little big on him, since he was already the scrawniest kid in his grade, but to his relief Sirius made no comments. Sirius bought a pair of track pants for himself, too, saying he liked all animals a lot, but lions were his favorites. When they got to the counter, the cashier rung everything up. Sirius was looking at the souvenir key chains.
“Sidney…Simon…Skyler…darn! They NEVER have my name!” Sirius glowered at the key chains.
“Well, Sirius is quite an unusual name,” Harry said. “They just have real mainstream names.”
“In my family there’s a tradition of giving children celestial names,” Sirius explained. “I’m the third Sirius to come along.”
“That’ll be forty pounds,” said the cashier.
“Honestly, I don’t need all this,” Harry said, balking at the price.
“Nonsense,” said Sirius, abandoning the key chains and pulling his wallet out of his sweatshirt pocket. “But you’ll have to help me, I don’t understand Mug—I mean, I’m not very good with money.”
Sirius seemed flustered by the paper bills. Harry wondered why, as Sirius seemed competent otherwise, but he helped, picking out one fifty-pound note for his godfather and trying to explain why the cashier handed a ten-pound note back to them. Finally, she put all their merchandise into two bags, and they each carried one, swinging them as they walked through the sunlight to the zoo restaurant.
“I’m sure we should catch up after being separated for ten years,” Sirius said. “What’s been going on with you?”
“Nothing much,” said Harry. “I’m going to secondary school this fall, though. Is it any different from primary school? My cousin said people are going to dunk my head in a toilet.”
“Don’t worry,” said Sirius. “I’m sure you’ll be just fine. But I don’t know much about primary school, seeing as I had a private tutor until I was old enough for secondary school. So did your dad. Your mother went to Mug—I mean, public school. Trust me, though, your parents and I all went to the exact same school you’ll be heading off to this fall, and we loved it there.”
“Stonewall High, you mean?” Harry said.
“Um, what?” Sirius looked at him, then nodded. “Oh…yeah. Stonewall High. Right.”
They arrived at the zoo restaurant and went to order at the counter. Harry figured Sirius must be very rich, seeing as he didn’t seem to mind throwing his money around, but asking for more gifts, even food, sounded like such a greedy thing to do after Sirius had already been so nice. Still…Harry hadn’t eaten since earlier that morning at the zoo restaurant. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had made him order off the kids’ menu because it was cheaper, and the cheapest item was a small bag of potato chips. Those empty carbs, plus some ice cream off a Knickerbocker Glory, were all Harry had eaten that day, and the smell of hamburgers was tantalizing.
“Hungry?” Sirius asked.
“N-No,” Harry lied. “I mean, I had potato chips and a little ice cream earlier…”
“Is that all you had?” Sirius looked disapproving. “Well, you need meat if you want to grow properly. Vegetables, too…sorry about that.”
“Vegetables are okay,” Harry said quickly. Of course, he knew most kids his age (especially Dudley) scorned vegetables of any kind, and Uncle Vernon did too, but Harry was hungry all the time. If he ate a vegetable, usually he was glad to be getting anything to eat at all. Withholding food was basically the Dursleys’ go-to punishment, aside from locking Harry in his cupboard. It had been a very long time since he had harbored any complaints about his meager food.
“Fine…I’ll get you the side salad with your burger,” Sirius decided. “What do you want on it? Everything?”
“Um, sure,” Harry said. However, he decided to pass on the ice cream, seeing as he’d already had some that day and it would probably melt in the hot sun no matter what, so he just got a big burger with the works and a side salad, while Sirius got a burger and onion rings, some of which he shared with Harry. Biting into the fresh, juicy burger was like heaven, and the side salad was surprisingly good-tasting, too. The onion rings were just as onion rings should be—crunchy on the outside, smooth and slightly sweet on the inside. Sirius was able to catch croutons in his mouth, which made Harry laugh.
“Delicious,” said Sirius. “You know, it was wonderful meeting you, Harry, seeing you again after ten years.”
“Well, not that I’m ungrateful or anything, but…” Harry was finishing the last bites of his side salad. “If you truly are my godfather, why didn’t you visit for the last ten years?”
“I would have,” Sirius told him solemnly, “but you see, I was in prison for all those years.”
“Prison!” Harry stared. “What did you do?”
“Nothing!” Sirius reassured him. “You see…it’s a long story, but basically I was falsely accused of your parents’ murder. I filed for an appeal every year since I was sent to prison, but it always got rejected. Finally I got one this year because of ‘good behavior’. I was proven innocent…even though they still haven’t caught the one who really did it…but like I said, it’s a long and complicated story…Honestly, don’t worry, Harry, I didn’t do it.”
“That’s not it,” said Harry, a crushing weight of disappointment sinking like a stone in his stomach. “It’s just…I think you’ve got the wrong Harry Potter, that’s all.”
“Trust me, I don’t.” Sirius, who had already finished eating, was leaning back in his chair, surveying Harry. “The resemblance to your father is uncanny, and Lily’s in there too. What makes you think I made a mistake?”
“My parents weren’t murdered,” Harry explained. “They died in a car accident.”
“What?” Sirius’s eyes were narrowed in a mixture of confusion and slight suspicion.
“Yeah,” Harry said sadly. “I sometimes dream about it, although I can’t imagine where that flash of green light came from…or the laugh…But I feel the pain in my forehead, which I guess was the car crash…”
Sirius looked slightly ill.
“I asked my aunt one day what happened, and she said my dad was drunk-driving—”
“What?!” Sirius exploded, standing up so angrily that he knocked his chair onto the ground. “JAMES?! DRUNK-DRIVING?! WITH YOU AND LILY IN THE CAR?!”
“Sorry,” Harry added quickly, feeling alarmed. “Did my dad drink a lot?”
“NO!” Sirius hollered. “HE DIDN’T! THAT WAS A LIE THEY TOLD YOU! YOUR PARENTS WERE MURDERED!”
“They were murdered?” Harry breathed. “Are you sure?”
“YES, I’M SURE!” Sirius looked beyond livid. “I’m going to go and have a word with your aunt and uncle!”
“What—no, Sirius, please don’t!” Harry got up too and dashed around the table to where Sirius was standing. One of his hands was clenched around something in his sweatshirt pocket, but Harry couldn’t see what it was, although he hoped it wasn’t a knife or any other sort of weapon.
“Why not?!” Sirius barked.
“Because it will only mean trouble for me!” Harry told him in a rush, his heart beating fiercely against his chest. “I won’t be able to leave my cupboard for a month!”
“YOU WHAT?!” Sirius roared. “THEY KEEP YOU IN A CUPBOARD?!”
“No!” Harry knew he had said the wrong thing, and he frantically tried to backpedal, but he was feeling the beginnings of panic. “I mean, yeah they do, but it’s not bad, really, they only lock me in there when I’m really bad…and it doesn’t matter that they withhold food because it’s so bad anyway…”
Sirius didn’t say anything this time, just picked up the shopping in one hand and grabbed Harry’s hand forcefully with the other, pulling his godson again towards the reptile house, where they had last seen the Dursleys and Piers Polkiss. Harry was struggling madly, begging Sirius not to say anything, insisting that he would get into trouble, but it only seemed to anger Sirius further—and thus encourage him.
“Please don’t, Sirius, please, I’m begging you!” Harry howled in desperation. “Don’t talk to them! I’m too young to die!”
Sirius stopped, then, and leaned down next to Harry again. Harry could tell that, despite his anger, he was trying to stay calm.
“Listen to me, Harry,” he said firmly. “As long as I am with you, I promise that no harm will ever come to you. Do you understand me?”
Harry nodded, because he was too afraid to speak. However, he let Sirius lead him away. Just as they were on the path to the reptile house, the Dursleys and Piers Polkiss showed up right in front of Harry. Uncle Vernon was purple-faced, always a sign that he was angry. It seemed that they had been searching for Harry.
“BOY!” he bellowed. Harry was about to scamper after his uncle, leaving Sirius behind—but then the Dursleys, Piers and Harry heard Sirius’s voice.
“His name’s Harry,” he said, face white, in stark comparison to Uncle Vernon, who by now looked rather like a plum with a mustache.
“And what is your name?” demanded Uncle Vernon nastily, as if Sirius was not worth speaking to.
“My name is Sirius Black.” Sirius was scowling. “I happened to know Lily Evans. Ring a bell, Petunia?”
Aunt Petunia looked horrified at the mention of Harry’s mother, but Uncle Vernon reached around impatiently for Harry’s arm. “Whatever—we’re going now, boy!”
“Don’t you touch Harry!” shouted Sirius furiously, darting in front of Harry and shielding him.
“I’m his legal guardian!” Uncle Vernon snapped. “It’s none of your business!”
“When my godson is being mistreated, it is most certainly my business!” Sirius said back. “I know what you do to him! He said you lock him in a cupboard and withhold his meals!”
“That awful boy, always making up lies!” Uncle Vernon reached around for Harry again but Sirius knocked his arm out of the way.
“I think YOU’RE the one who’s spewing lies!” Sirius spat. “Harry’s parents did NOT die in a car accident! They were MURDERED and you bloody well know it!”
“Ho! Murdered!” Uncle Vernon scoffed. “Drunk-driving hooligan, that’s all that man was—”
“YOU DO NOT INSULT JAMES POTTER IN FRONT OF ME!” Sirius hollered, and what happened after that was confusing. Harry saw Sirius withdraw what looked like a drumstick out of his pocket. The stick didn’t seem deadly to Harry at all, but Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia recoiled as if Sirius had brandished a knife at them. Sirius had the stick pointed right at Uncle Vernon’s neck.
“Sirius, what is that stick thing?” Harry asked, but Sirius ignored him.
“S-So you’re a…you’re a…” Uncle Vernon blubbered.
“Yes I am!” Sirius snapped. “I can do things with this you couldn’t even imagine! I’m Harry’s godfather too, and if you mistreat him once more, there’ll be hell to pay!”
“You didn’t tell him where we live!” Aunt Petunia shrieked to Harry.
“Of course he didn’t, but I have my ways of knowing…” Sirius said spookily, waving his mysterious stick in her face, and she screamed.
“You’re lucky I don’t see Muggles as worthy adversaries when it comes to dueling,” Sirius said in disgust, pocketing his stick again. “It’s wrong to challenge someone who can’t fight back, isn’t it? But I can make exceptions. I would not recommend that you be one. Don’t forget the shopping, Harry.”
“The…the shopping?” Aunt Petunia quivered.
“I picked up a few things for Harry at the Safari Gift Shop,” Sirius explained coldly, shoving the bags in the Dursleys’ direction. “Buy him clothes that fit, why don’t you? And if you try to punish him for this when you get home—as I’m sure you plan to do—I’ll be there. Like I told you…we ‘abnormal’ people have ways of knowing things you don’t.”
“Oh, my,” Aunt Petunia mumbled. She looked mortified, as if she might faint, whilst Uncle Vernon looked furious, but beat. Dudley and Piers were staring; Harry could tell that they understood Sirius’s actions no more than he did.
“I’ll see you soon, okay?” Sirius reassured Harry, bending down and hugging him again. “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back, Prongslet.”
“My nickname for you, when you were a baby,” said Sirius, then, to the Dursleys, “Remember what I said.”
It was confusing. Harry didn’t understand why Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia seemed so afraid of Sirius and his stick thing. It seemed as if they had taken his threats to heart, however. Before they all got in the car, Aunt Petunia said to Harry, “Would you like to ride in the front seat for a change…darling?”
Harry happily obliged.