'Happy Birthday, Harry!'
Harry's head shot up as he looked at Sirius across the table, the sleepy feeling vanishing. It was a few days later after their discussion about his schooling when he stumbled down to the kitchen. He felt a thrill of pleasure on Sirius wishing him. This was the first time anybody had wished him a happy birthday verbally.
'Ron and Hermione wrote, by the way. They, along with Hagrid, have sent you their best wishes.' He set the wrapped parcels in front of Harry along with a letter each.
Harry happily pulled the presents to him. It answered the question as to why he had not got anything at midnight.
Opening them revealed three large birthday cakes. Sirius took one look at the baked goods and said. 'Well, that's part of your birthday breakfast taken care of.' He took a moment to look at the incredulously happy look on his godson's face before continuing. 'However, you still have to eat the rest.' Saying so, he pushed a plate of food towards the boy along with a glass of milk and a few phials of potions.
'Now, now, don't look at me like that. The Healer prescribed this for you.' Sirius said to the scowling boy.
Giving an exaggerated sigh, Harry drank the milk and started eating his breakfast.
One of the first things Sirius had done was to get his godson's health checked on. The boy, in his opinion, was way too thin. The prospect of visiting a healer nearly had Harry throwing his first ever tantrum. He subsided almost immediately as soon as Sirius looked at him with a steely glint in his eye. Not that it stopped Harry from sulking all the way to St Mungo's and periodically declaring that he was fine and he did not want a healer poking him.
In the end, the check-up was well worth it as it showed that things weren't all rosy. Harry was fairly malnourished. Thankfully his immunisations against magical diseases common to the Wizarding World were taken care of by the school nurse. But the most worrying bit was that his magical core was not where it should have been developmentally speaking.
So the Healer had prescribed a diet for Harry to follow. That was not much of a problem as it basically comprised of all the nutrients, meaning that Harry wasn't stuck to eating disgusting tasting things (the exception being the dragon liver he was forced to eat once a week).
Harry was especially happy when the Healer had suggested he exercise his magic daily. But, the boy really did not like the glass of milk that he had to drink twice per diem. And he particularly hated the potions he had to consume after every meal to help his magical core. The aftertaste was foul! He really looked forward to the day when he no longer needed the Potions regimen.
Harry's thoughts of the diet were soon shoved aside when his godfather reminded him of the plans for the rest of the day. The news that he was getting his first birthday party ever had Harry gaping at Sirius with his mouth open till his chuckling godfather gently nudged his jaw closed.
The Black holiday home was still under construction, and the French Villa was still being renovated and Grimmauld Place wasn't fit for guests, much less a birthday party. So Sirius decided to avail the services of The New Camelot, one of the best upscale hotels in magical Britain.
Harry wished that Ron and Hermione were there. But, unfortunately, the Weasleys were in Romania and the Grangers in France. He still had great fun in the opulent environs of the hotel, though. The party was more of a combination of Neville's and Harry's birthdays (not that Harry minded sharing) so the guest list was quite extensive. Nearly everyone from Harry's year had attended, along with Harry's Quidditch Teammates.
While the kids had their fun, Sirius held court with the parents and other adult guests. A good majority of these people were influential members of the Wizengamot and Sirius had used Harry's fourteenth birthday as a way of getting them together. He did feel guilty for doing this, but it was necessary for his and Harry's future.
By the time the day ended, Harry Potter was exhausted but extremely happy.
Carrying his numerous presents into the house, he thought that the day could not get any better. He was soon to be proved wrong.
'Before you go to sleep, Harry, I have something to give you,' Sirius said, pushing a wrapped parcel to his godson.
'Thanks, Sirius,' Harry said in awe, looking at the pocket knife Sirius had gifted him. It had attachments to undo any knot and open any lock. It was a brilliant end to a brilliant day. Harry already felt that Sirius had done enough by taking him in. Holding a birthday party and giving him a present on top of it? That was something Harry never expected.
But Sirius wasn't done yet. 'Harry,' he said slightly nervously. 'I want to talk to you about something.'
'What is it, Sirius?' Harry replied as he put down his knife. He noticed the nervous look in his godfather's eyes and couldn't help but be nervous himself.
'Well, I was thinking about our relationship, as godfather and godson, ever since you came home. And I realised that I don't want to continue like this.'
'What?' Harry couldn't help but blurt out in shock. It sounded like Sirius no longer wanted him to stay!
Noticing the stricken look on the boy's face, Sirius mentally reviewed his words. Hastily, he said. 'Oh, no, I did not mean it like that! Fuck!' He cursed as he slapped his forehead. 'That came out wrong.'
'What I meant to say was, well, Harry. You know, I am your godfather, and you are my godson. I was thinking that, if you wanted, we could remove the first three letters from our titles? Of course that's if you want it.'
While his fears were appeased and the unpleasant imaginings of having to live with the Dursleys again had died, Harry was now confused.
'I don't –'
'I want to adopt you, magically and legally.' Sirius burst out. He reflected that this was harder than the first time he had asked a girl out. 'That's if you want.' He said awkwardly.
'Adopt me?' Harry asked wonderingly.
Sirius could not decipher Harry's expression. Nonetheless he said sincerely, 'Yes, Harry, adopt you.' Running a hand through his hair, he continued. 'I know that I am not James Potter and that he was and always will be your biological father –'
Brought to a stuttering halt, Sirius looked at the boy. 'I'm sorry?' he said tentatively, wondering if he had heard wrong.
'Yes,' Harry said a little louder. 'I would like it if you adopted me.' He returned his gaze downwards as he muttered the last bit. He couldn't believe that one of his dearest childhood wishes was about to come true.
Sirius' face broke out into a brilliant smile. 'That's great, Harry! I'll speak to Gringotts and arrange an appointment.'
'Does, does that mean I can call you "dad"?' Harry asked shyly.
Choking up with emotion, Sirius moved to the boy's side. 'Only if you want to,' He put an arm around Harry's shoulders before slowly pulling him into a hug. He was gratified to notice that Harry almost immediately relaxed into the hug, bringing his own smaller arms up to reciprocate.
After a long moment, Sirius finally kissed Harry's head and pulled back. Both of them looked the other way, overwhelmed by emotion.
'Right,' Sirius said finally. 'To bed with you.'
Smiling, Harry got up and practically skipped his way towards his bedroom, bursting with happiness enough to create twenty Patronuses.
However, it was only a matter of time for things to take a turn for the worse.
It was the night before the adoption ritual, and Sirius had difficulty sleeping. It was one of those nights where the nightmares got to be too much.
He was on his way downstairs when he heard Harry yelling in his sleep.
Not thinking twice, he opened the door. Harry had just woken up and was pressing his forehead against his hands. Additionally, he was also shaking.
Concerned, Sirius hurried over to the boy and sat down on the bed. 'Harry, Harry, it's alright.' He said hoarsely as he put his arm around his godson's shoulders.
'Scar ... hurts ...' was Harry's only reply.
'Let me see what I can do,' Sirius said gently as he pried Harry's hand away. He tapped his wand against the tissue.
The agony faded to a dull ache. Harry almost cried with relief. His trembling gradually ceased as Sirius stroked his hair soothingly.
'What were you dreaming?' he finally asked.
Harry spilled out his dream in bits and pieces. Basically, he'd seen Peter and another man he didn't know and heard one person he was well-acquainted with. Lord Voldemort's high, cold voice still gave Harry chills. The evil wizard had been talking to Peter. They'd been plotting – something... and the other man had overheard them. Voldemort had commanded his Death Eater to kill the man. The thump of a body hitting the floor echoed in Harry's ears.
'So, Peter's found Voldemort,' Sirius finally said. This was troubling news.
'Yeah,' Harry finally said after a few long moments. Feeling uncomfortable (and a trifle embarrassed) Harry pulled away. 'Sorry for being such a swot,' he muttered, trying not to blush. 'Didn't mean to wake you...'
'Hey,' Sirius clapped his shoulder. 'Don't ever be sorry for waking me or coming to me,' his godfather said firmly. 'Any time, day or night, rain or shine, I will drop the world for you.'
Not knowing what to say, Harry nodded jerkily. Smiling softly, Sirius hugged him one more time before pulling away.
'Now why don't you try and get some sleep? We are going to have a big day tomorrow.'
As Harry lay back down, he noticed that Sirius did not move from his perch on the side of the bed. Hesitantly, he began stroking Harry's hair. As sleep overcame him, Harry couldn't help but think that this was really nice.
Sirius did not mention the dream the next day. Although he was worried, he kept a calm façade in front of Harry. He was not happy to know that Voldemort had managed to get some help. This really was bad.
The adoption ritual happened without much fanfare. The only difficult bit was where Harry was required to fully disrobe in front of his godfather. Doing his best to put him at ease, Sirius played his part professionally, drawing the appropriate runes on Harry's body, using a mixture of his blood and the blood of his ancestors. He remembered there being a bottle containing the second item in the drawing room of Grimmauld Place, and so used it to strengthen the ritual. The books in the library claimed that this would be a better way as it would fully integrate the adoptee into the family line.
Sirius decided not to go through the step of making Harry drink the blood, as that would fully replace the Potter bloodline (or Lily's genes at the very least) with his. He wanted Harry to still be able to call himself a son of James and Lily's.
Carrying the sleeping form of his now adopted son, Sirius couldn't help a victorious grin grace his face. Now Harry was safely and utterly in his custody. There was nothing Dumbledore could do to take the boy away from him. The documents had all been signed and ratified and the Potter and Black fortunes and investments (though physically in separate vaults) and hereditary seats had been combined. Harry was as much a Black as he was a Potter, both by blood as well as by law. He wondered how long it would take for the old man to see the two heir rings on Harry's fingers. Dumbledore was out of the country attending the annual meeting of the International Confederation of Wizards, so Sirius doubted that he would be able to see the papers legalising the adoption and Harry's change in name to Harry James Alphard Potter-Black.
Gently depositing the unconscious boy onto his bed, Sirius studied the features of his adopted son. Was it his imagination, or were the cheekbones rising up?
Mentally shaking himself, Sirius retired to his rooms. The ritual was tiring for him as well.
The cleaning of the house continued. Before they knew it, all of the bedrooms (except Sirius' old mother's room), the bathrooms, the library, and the kitchen were in a better shape. The peeling wallpaper was replaced by a fresh one that made the house less dreary. The floor was no longer filthy but gleamed and the kitchen was now a much more pleasant place to be in. All in all, the house was almost restored to its former splendour. Even the scowling and soundlessly yelling portrait of Walburga Black could not detract from how much better the house now looked. In Sirius' opinion, silencing the portrait was the best thing about being the head of the Black family. Now all he had to do was put up a notice-me-not ward around the portrait.
All that was now left was the formal dining room and the drawing room.
Harry stood at the entrance to the still dirty drawing room, sizing it up. He could see the splendour of the room shining through all the grime. All it needed was some thorough cleaning.
He took a step into the room. He knew he wasn't supposed to be here, not without Sirius knowing about it, and especially not if Sirius was not in the house. But he was bored!
Sirius had gone out for some meeting or the other, leaving Harry in the house with strict instructions not to go wandering into the rooms that they had not cleared out yet. And that currently included this one room.
Initially Harry had amused himself by reading a few wizarding comics while listening to some music (it turned out that the wizards did have some decent bands and music which wasn't that wailing witch Mrs Weasley loved to listen to).
However, there is only so much time one can take reading fifteen pages. Soon enough, he was staring at the ceiling of his room blankly. Eventually he had become so bored that he had opened his arithmancy book.
That held his attention for a grand total of five minutes before he cast that aside. Sighing, Harry got out of his bed to go exploring. Hopefully something would catch his fancy.
And that lead him to where he was currently standing. Feeling adventurous, and slightly defiant (Sirius implying that he was a child still rankled) Harry slowly stepped inside the long, high-ceilinged room, looking at the dirty tapestries that covered the olive-green walls in fascination. He told himself that he would be long gone from there by the time Sirius returned. Harry's foray into restricted territory would not be known of. A particular old worn tapestry at the far end caught Harry's eye. He was careful to keep his steps light, sending up little clouds of dust from the carpet every time he stepped forwards. He did not want to disturb whatever was behind the long, moss-green velvet curtains.
Stepping up towards the tapestry, he squinted up at the writing. His power was beginning to act up lately, making reading through his glasses harder and harder, although he could still see through them, in a fashion. Mentally making a note to tell his father (the word still sent a shiver of pleasure down his spine) about it, Harry removed his glasses and held them up towards the writing, using them as a magnifying glass.
The tapestry was a huge family tree showcasing the history of his adoptive father's family. As far as Harry could tell, they went all the way back to the middle ages. Quickly losing interest over seeing names way before his time, Harry looked down at the bottom, searching for Sirius' name.
He couldn't find it, although he suspected that it was the round circular burn that was there right next to Regulus Black's name. Harry briefly wondered about Regulus' (or was it "Uncle Regulus"?) history. Deciding to ask Sirius later on, he scanned the other names. He might as well see who he was now related to.
Suddenly, he drew back sharply, feeling a mixture of surprise and mild disgust. He was related to the Malfoys? As in Draco Malfoy?
Shuddering, he moved away from the tapestry. Turning around, he gave a start. While he was preoccupied with the family tree, Kreacher had sidled into the room and was currently in front of a glass fronted cabinet, reaching his hand out towards something.
'What's that, Kreacher?' Harry asked curiously. He did not know what to make of the old elf. His brief acquaintance with Dobby initially had him thinking that house-elves were a nice, generally cheerful, lot: if a bit weird. So he really was not prepared for the hostile stares that he kept getting from this one. Thankfully he had not seen the elf much, as his father had banished him to the master suite.
The elf gave a pronounced start of surprise as he turned around to look at Harry. 'Young master,' he said with a ridiculously low bow.
'Erm, right,' Harry said, unsettled as always by the malevolent look the elf was giving him. Unable to contain his curiosity, he repeated his question, 'What is that, Kreacher?'
'Nothing, young master, it is just a trinket.'
Something in the old elf's tone did not sit well with Harry. Looking at the object up close, he identified it as a golden locket.
Reaching out an arm, he made to pick the object up. As he brought it towards him, a small voice in his mind reminded him that Sirius had told him not to touch anything without getting his say-so. But Harry ignored it. After all, it was only a locket. He had conveniently forgotten at this point about the diary in his second year.
The locket was a heavy golden oval. The front had emeralds set in an intricate "S" that looked serpentine. Seeing a hinge, Harry tried opening the locket. It stayed stubbornly shut. Frowning, he looked at the front of the locket again, studying the design. It looked familiar...
Harry was looking at the locket so intently that he did not see the expression of desperation on the elf's face. He also failed to hear the front door opening and closing.
Suddenly the design seemed to morph into a snake and he remembered where he had seen it before. It was in the Chamber of Secrets! Going on a hunch, he said 'Open,' his voice coming out in a hiss. He wondered what he would find inside the locket.
'Harry, what the hell are you doing there?'
Looking up, Harry had only a moment to see Sirius' angry face before his vision turned dark as his scar erupted in pain.
The soul fragment of Voldemort inside Harry's scar was slowly dying. Ever since the adoption ritual, the protection around the boy had been supplemented by the unconditional love Sirius had for Harry. The end result of this was that the fragment was cut off from the magical core of its host, which it had been surviving on. Instead, its power was now being slowly leeched out and absorbed by the body it was residing in. It wouldn't be long before it died.
Suddenly it could feel another portion of its soul close by, much stronger in magic. The soul fragment did not think but reached out to its other half. Once united, it launched a desperate attack, hoping to do something that it had been trying for a long while. Take over and get a new body.
Sirius opened the front door of the house tiredly. He had spent the whole morning talking to Fudge and other bureaucrats. The exercise was tiring, but he did have some small consolation. The good minister had offered him tickets to the World Cup finals, and that too in the Minister's box! The sweetest bit was that those seats were originally Barty Crouch's.
Smiling, Sirius went upstairs to seek out his son (thinking of Harry as his son had come almost naturally to him) eager to share the good news. What was more, there was another free seat, and he thought that Harry could invite a friend of his along.
He really did not know what to make of the boy. At first, Harry had been quite compliant, listening to everything Sirius had said and doing what was asked of him without any complaint. But recently, he noticed that Harry had become a bit less obedient. Sirius did not mind the cheek or the backtalk (even though it was getting more and more annoying). But what he really did not like was that on three different occasions, he had caught Harry inside a room that wasn't cleaned out without Sirius' say-so. So far, Sirius had let it go (Harry had seemed apologetic) but he couldn't help but feel that things would come to a head. As much as he loved the kid, at this point he really wanted to throttle him.
Reaching the landing of the first floor, Sirius suddenly paused when he saw the door leading to the drawing room ajar. Striding towards it, he reached for the door, with a futile hope that he did not see what he thought he was going to see.
His suspicions were immediately confirmed before he even touched the serpentine knob when he heard Harry's voice. Although he could no decipher what he had said, Sirius recognised his son's voice anywhere. Opening the door, Sirius furiously strode in. This had gone far enough.
'Harry, what the hell are you doing in there?'
Harry looked at Sirius for a scant moment when suddenly a black smoke erupted from an object held in his cupped hands. Before Sirius could even react, the smoke sank into Harry's forehead.
The effects were immediate. Dropping the thing he was holding (which Sirius recognised as a locket) Harry crashed to the ground, screaming in pain as he clutched his scar.
'Shit!' Sirius said rushing over to the fallen boy. Frantically he brought the teenager's head towards him. By this time, Harry had stopped screaming, although his eyes were closed, rapidly moving underneath his eyelids. Sweat had started to bead up on his forehead as well.
'Harry, Harry, wake up, come on now,' Sirius lightly slapped the boy. Getting no response, he drew his wand.
Harry's eyes shot open at this moment. Sirius' breath of relief was caught in his throat when he saw his son's eyes.
The boy's eyes were green, but there was something distinctly off about them. It was at this instant that Sirius suspected that Harry was being possessed.
Cautiously Sirius looked into the boy's eyes. 'Harry, it's me, Sirius, you have to fight it off. Come on son, I know you can do it.'
Harry's face muscles started twitching madly, as if he was trying to say something or make an expression. One half of his mouth started jerking, as if to smile.
Convinced now that the boy was being possessed, Sirius redoubled his efforts. 'Come back to me kid, fight it! Come on!' he frantically thought of a spell he could use, coming blank each time. 'Come on Harry! Don't give up! I love you too much to lose you now!' Hearing the wetness in his voice, Sirius realised that tears were running down his face.
Suddenly he saw a spark of recognition in the blank green eyes. Harry's face began to twist in a rictus of pain as he suddenly started screaming. Unexpectedly the boy's back arched and the screaming morphed into a shrieking that now came from the black smoke being ejected out of Harry's scar. Still shrieking, the amorphous cloud raced to the open locket which closed immediately.
The ringing silence was soon broken when Harry moaned and turned to his side, promptly throwing up. Shivering, he lay back in his father's arms, his scar bleeding.
Immediately, Sirius waved his wand over the wound, sealing it. As the skin repaired itself, he noted absently that the scar looked different somehow. It no longer looked as prominent as it had done before.
Half carrying him, Sirius got Harry up to his bedroom where he told the teen to rest for a while. As he got downstairs, his ire increased. He knew just how Harry ended up possessing that locket. He definitely had not missed Kreacher's presence. That elf had tried to hurt his son. It had gone too far.
'KREACHER!' Sirius shouted as soon as he caught sight of the elf. The hateful creature had not moved from the room. Sirius grew even angrier when he saw the elf about to pick up the locket. No doubt to try and erase traces of its deeds.
'You dare –' Sirius could not complete his sentence, he was too angry to articulate his rage verbally. 'That was my son, you vile blight on ... thing!' he gave an inarticulate roar, advancing on the elf, his fingers flexing convulsively
'The boy is –'
'ENOUGH!' snarled Sirius as he loomed over the elf. Dimly, he felt satisfaction on seeing fear on the elf's face. It was an emotion he had never seen on the creature's face before when it had looked at him. To see it now gave him a feeling of power.
'Harry is my son! He wears the heir ring, as I wear the family ring!' He brandished the latter item in the elf's face. 'You dare endanger him? You dare try to kill him? I have tolerated your presence so far, elf! You don't do any work as it is! And now you try this!'
'Master –' the elf sounded desperate. It was the last word he ever got to say as a bright light came at him.
Sirius took deep breaths, standing over the elf's headless body. There were flecks of blood and brain matter all over the place and on him. Taking a few more deep breaths, he started to calm down. Suddenly he barked out a laugh. Killing that vile thing really felt good. He should have done this long back ago.
Suddenly he felt lighter. He had not realised how heavy a burden Kreacher was. The elf had affected him more than he was willing to admit. Vanishing the body, blood and gore with a few spells, Sirius picked up the locket. He could feel the malevolent energy coming from it. Grimly, he put it in a bag and headed upstairs. Even though he did not reside in the master bedroom, he had claimed the study for himself.
Sirius stopped. His foot was on the first step up towards his destination. Turning around, he saw Harry looking at him from the doorway of his room. Immediately his mood plummeted. Kreacher may have been responsible for Harry coming into possession of the cursed item he was holding, but at the same time, Harry was also responsible for his own actions.
'Harry? Shouldn't you be resting?' he said with a frown.
The boy shrugged, leaning against the door. He put his hands in his pockets. ''m fine,' he mumbled. 'Just got a bit of a headache is all.'
Sirius looked at the boy for a moment. 'Why don't you go and have a lie in?'
'No it's fine,'
'No it's not. Go on, rest your head.'
'But I'm not sleepy.'
Sirius took a deep breath counting up to ten. 'Lie down anyway. I'll come back in a few moments with a headache cure.'
Somehow the boy understood that Sirius was not in a happy mood. 'OK,' Harry turned around and shuffled into his room.
Depositing the locket into a drawer, he sank into the chair behind the desk. While the incident was Kreacher's fault, Harry wasn't exactly blameless. Sirius had warned the boy, many times, not to touch objects or go to places in the house without his permission. Yet Harry had done so. His repeated warnings despite having caught him in the past had seemingly fallen on deaf ears.
So the question remained: what should he do now that his son had blatantly disobeyed him for the fourth time.
The answer was quite obvious as it had been ever since the first time he had caught Harry in the trophy room alone before it had been cleaned. Harry needed to be punished.
Just as before, Sirius felt sick. Flashes of his childhood passed by his mind. More specifically, instances where he had screwed up. He did not relish taking the role of disciplinarian, of doing to his son what Mr Potter had done to both him and James whenever they had landed in trouble.
His parents did not count. Their responses to the smallest of mistakes had been extreme. Sirius could not count the number of times he had been hexed or cursed (sometimes both) at the hands of Orion and Walburga Black.
Not for the first time he cursed fate. Why did James have to die? If he was still alive, then Sirius would have had the easier job of being the fun uncle who consoled Harry after he was punished.
Well, there was nothing to it. For better or for worse, he was now Harry's father. It was his job to discipline the boy. Besides, he had let this go on for long enough. He cannot let this slide. Not this time. Taking a deep breath, he got up and headed toward Harry's room.
Knocking, he opened the door, stepping inside the space for the first time since it had been occupied.
As soon as he entered, he realised that he should have made it a point to come earlier. The last time, intent on comforting a panicked Harry, he had not noticed anything. Now however...
'This room's a mess!' And so it was. Clothes, books and other random objects were lying all over the place. The air was also thick with that typical scent associated with teenage boys.
'Ah, sorry about that,' Harry said, blushing furiously. Sirius looked at the boy as he started darting around picking things up randomly, his cheeks still stained red.
'Here, allow me,' Sirius waved his wand. Immediately clothes floated up and deposited themselves in a somewhat neat pile in front of the closet. Another wave had the rest of the items forming another pile, while a third and final wave gave the room a fresh smell.
Harry stood in the middle of the room, gobsmacked. 'I didn't think about that,' he finally said.
'Well, now you know,' Sirius replied. 'I want those piles sorted out later, mind.' Saying so, he dragged the desk chair to the bed and sat down.
'So, how are you feeling?'
Harry just shrugged in reply.
'Oh, that way, huh?' Sirius replied with a tad amount of sarcasm. 'Well, this should help matters.' He produced a phial of potion. 'For your headache,' he said a bit unnecessarily.
Under his eagle eye, Harry reluctantly downed the contents, grimacing a bit. Sirius' lips twitched a bit as the boy sighed in relief, plopping down on the bed opposite Sirius and folding his legs.
'Good, now that's out of the way, care to tell me what happened there with the locket?' Sirius made sure to keep his voice neutral.
Hesitantly at first, but slowly gaining momentum, Harry recounted his misadventure, culminating with the encounter with the locket.
'So you don't really remember what happened when that mist entered your head?' Sirius asked finally.
Harry nodded. As soon as the mysterious mist had entered, all he remembered was a lot of pain, malice and hatred as the world around him slipped in and out of focus. Just as he thought that he was about to drown in it all, he managed to catch a glimpse of Sirius. He held onto that image, and soon enough he felt the foreign presence being driven away.
'Very well,' Sirius said. Now for the hard part. 'So, care to tell me what you were doing with that locket in the first place?'
Harry gulped at the sharp look being sent his way. Looking at the bedspread, he mumbled something.
Sirius sighed. 'Did I, or did I not tell you beforehand, many times over, not to go around handling strange objects you had not seen before especially if they were lying around in the house without me being present? Look at me while I am talking to you, young man, and for Merlin's sake, speak clearly,' the words came out sharper than he meant it, but Sirius was getting a bit annoyed at the mumbling. With the amount of worry he had caused, you'd think the boy would have the courtesy to articulate.
Green eyes reluctantly met grey. 'Yes,' Harry replied in a small voice. Sirius really seemed cross now. Harry was worried that he had pushed the man too far. He knew that he had been somewhat of a prat, but he couldn't help himself. Something in him wanted to push Sirius' buttons.
Nodding, Sirius continued. 'And did I not tell you, with the same frequency, not to roam around in areas of the house that had not yet been cleaned without me nearby?'
Feeling really small, Harry barely managed to say another, 'yes.'
'So pray tell me why you decided to do something so idiotic.'
Sirius waited for a long moment for an answer, when none was forthcoming, he prompted Harry, 'Well? I'm waiting for an answer.'
'I was bored.' Harry flushed again. He did not mean to say those words out loud. Warily he looked up.
Sirius closed his eyes, trying to contain the surge of anger he felt. The boy had actually risked his life, and deliberately disobeyed because he was bored?
'You were bored?' he gave voice to his thoughts, his eyes narrowed and his tone deadly.
Harry flinched. 'Sorry,' he said meekly.
Sirius gave him a stern look before continuing. 'I had placed two rules, just two rules. And you had to break both of them at the same time.'
'It was an accident.'
'"An accident"?' Sirius nearly scoffed. 'What, did the locket slip and fall into your hand?' He gave his son a withering look. 'Oh, I know, you tripped and landed so hard that you ended up in the middle of the room you weren't supposed to be in! And miraculously, that happened for the fourth time!'
Harry blushed again. Sirius had not shouted, but the biting sarcasm was far worse.
'Right,' Sirius said with an air of wrapping up the discussion. 'I told you that you won't like the consequences when you broke these rules. Before I kept quiet and said nothing. But now, I think it's high time that I keep my promise.' He took a deep breath and said in a voice that did not invite any argument. 'Stand up and come here.'
Harry's momentary look of confusion was soon banished. His eyes widened as he noticed the wooden ruler that appeared in Sirius' hand. 'What are you going to do with that?' he asked fearfully, already knowing the answer but not willing to think about it.
'What do you think?' Sirius asked levelly.
'No,' Harry said loudly. 'No, you can't do that.'
Sirius' voice was calm, but Harry could tell that he was starting to become impatient, 'And why not?'
'I'm too old,'
'Are you?' Sirius asked with fake surprise.
'Yes,' Harry completely missed the mild sarcasm in his father's tone. 'I'm fourteen now. I'm too old for … that.'
Sirius hummed, looking thoughtful. 'You know what, you are right.'
'I am?' Harry was completely taken aback by the sudden change in Sirius' demeanour.
'Of course! When I was your age, your grandfather thought that James and I were too old as well.' Sirius said pleasantly. 'In fact,' he said reminiscently, 'I can still remember him banishing the ruler back to his study when we said the very same thing to him.' Saying so, he waved his wand.
But the ruler did not vanish. Harry's eyes widened even further when it morphed into –.
'And he summoned this.' Sirius held up the rattan cane he had transfigured the ruler into, giving it a few swishes. The instrument whistled as it sliced through the air.
'Well, James and I didn't care much for this more "grown up" alternative, even if the punishment took lesser time to get over.' Sirius said conversationally. 'But then we had no choice. However, unlike me, you have the luxury of a choice. I just guess I am an old softy compared to your grandfather. After all, he would have already taken that ruler to your arse the first time you stepped out of line, not to mention he would have used it on you the minute the first smart-arse comment came out of your mouth. Anyway, I think you'd prefer to go back to the ruler, no?'
Harry nodded numbly. Sirius paused at the look in the teenager's eyes. Sighing softly, he said gently. 'Come here, Harry. Don't worry,' he said quickly, banishing the cane and holding his empty hands up. 'I'm not about to do anything,' yet he added mentally. 'Just come here.'
Hesitantly, Harry made his way towards Sirius, half expecting to be turned over his father's knee. Instead he was quite surprised when Sirius pulled him down and sat him on his lap.
Harry was initially stiff, but melted into Sirius' embrace soon enough, resting his head on Sirius' shoulder. He did not know what to make of this. On one hand, he felt like a five year old, sitting on Sirius' lap. But on the other hand, this was a unique feeling, one he had not experienced before. And he liked it.
'Hey, why are you so upset?' Sirius said softly. He had noticed the rather distressed look on the boy's face. 'I know that the prospect of being punished isn't something you'd look forward to, but there really isn't any need to act as if I am about to slowly kill you. Haven't you been spanked before?'
Slowly, Harry shook his head. 'No … they never did … that. Every time they felt that I had done something bad, I would be grounded for a period of time.'
Sirius knew that Harry was making the understatement of the century when talking about those Muggles but he let it go for now. He was happy that he had appeared on time to take Harry away from there before Vernon started to physically abuse him. While he had gleaned much from their minds, he did not have the full story.
He would also have to get Harry to open up about his life there. From talking to the mind healer he had started visiting on Andromeda's insistence ever since he was exonerated, Sirius felt it would be a good idea. If unloading the emotional burden of the betrayals was quite cleansing for Sirius, it should help Harry quite a lot as well.
'Yes, I have heard about that,' One of his Muggleborn dorm mates had mentioned that once when he was in school. It had sounded like quite a novel idea at the time to the purebloods. It was still a strange concept for Sirius.
It suddenly hit Sirius that this was the first time that he would be disciplining Harry. They had never discussed punishments before. Well, no time like the present.
'Personally I don't really think much about such a punishment, but if you are more comfortable, we can go down that route. However, I doubt you would want to be restricted to your room, especially now.'
'What do you mean?' Harry asked, lifting his head.
'Well,' Sirius said casually. 'I managed to get three tickets to the Quidditch World Cup Finals. That too in the Minister's box.'
'What, really?' Harry said excitedly, momentarily forgetting about the trouble he was in.
'Yes,' Sirius couldn't help but smile at the enthusiasm. 'The Weasleys managed to get tickets to the Minister's box as well. They invited Hermione along, so you can ask one of your other friends.'
'That's brilliant!' Harry said excitedly. But the smile slid off his face as he realised that being put on restriction would effectively mean that he would not be allowed to go to the match which was two days away.
Harry gave Sirius a forlorn look. 'I don't suppose you could just give me some extra chores to do in the house instead?'
'Extra chores?' Sirius replied incredulously. 'With the state the house is in currently, you are doing enough work as it is. There is no way that I could possibly give you anything more to do! Besides, after they are done with the other house, we'll have house-elves. They certainly won't take kindly to any one of us doing their work!'
'Oh,' Harry considered that. 'You have a point.'
Watching the boy ponder, Sirius was impressed that Harry hadn't asked to be let off the hook entirely. There were so many times that he and James had done that, not that it had worked. This level of maturity was unexpected.
Harry considered his options. Eventually he sighed and looked up. 'I really want to see the match.'
'Then you know what your choice has to be.'
Harry nodded resignedly. 'I don't suppose there is any other option?' he asked somewhat hopefully.
'I am open to suggestions.'
There was a long silence. Harry rested his head against Sirius' shoulder, thinking.
Sirius snorted, 'Lines? What good's that to anyone?'
'That's what Hagrid said once in my first year,' Harry said with a humourless snort.
There was silence for a few moments. Finally, Harry sighed again, straightening up. 'Fine, I guess we'll go with the ...' he trailed off.
'Spanking?' Sirius completed the sentence, saying the word Harry was unable to.
Blushing, Harry nodded, feeling a little sick to his stomach. 'So, um, what do you want me to do?'
Sirius unknowingly echoed his son's feelings. 'Right,' he said. 'Stand up.'
Once the fourteen year old was standing in front of him, Sirius unbuckled, unsnapped and unzipped Harry's jeans with numb fingers, pushing them down. After split second's hesitation, his son's pants were also lowered. Not wasting any time, he pulled the boy over
Harry was almost grateful when he was guided over his father's lap so quickly. He thought he would have died in mortification if he was standing there like that for any longer. Not that the position he was currently in felt any better. He could feel the cool air on his bare posterior as Sirius pushed his t-shirt up his back.
Charles Potter had mentioned once that he did not relish this particular aspect of being a father, and Sirius had not believed him then. Now, as he looked at the pale bottom situated on his lap as he pushed up the boy's shirt out of the way he understood what the man had been trying to tell him and James. He felt sick at the prospect of being the cause of Harry's pain. But then he remembered what his son had done to end up in this position. He nearly had got himself killed. And this probably would have happened earlier if Sirius hadn't caught him in time.
Hardening his heart, Sirius raised his hand.
Sirius was at first hesitant, but as he gained confidence, the tempo slowly increased. Soon enough, Harry was squirming as the sting built up, his sock clad feet drumming against the floor.
After what probably felt like an eternity to Harry, Sirius finally stopped. Resting his stinging hand, he examined his handiwork. The once lily white behind was now dark pink. Looking down towards Harry's head, he saw shaking shoulders and heard hitched breathing.
Sirius almost stopped there and then. But he steeled himself again. He had made a promise himself to follow Charles' method, and follow it he shall. Harry had knowingly broken a rule four times now. And to add to that, he had broken the second important rule that had been placed for his safety. That was two rules at one time. The consequences needed to reflect the severity of his breeches. Charles Potter would not have stopped at a hand spanking.
Taking a deep breath, Sirius picked up his wand and silently summoned the wooden ruler.
Harry suddenly stiffened when Sirius tapped the ruler on his backside.
'Twenty strokes, Harry.'
Gritting his teeth, Harry nodded, bracing himself. He grabbed a fistful of his father's trousers; his other hand was trapped by his side, held securely in place by Sirius when he had reached back.
Sirius lifted the wooden instrument.
Harry started yelping by the fifth stroke. His yelps were then supplemented by apologies, entreaties to stop and vigorous kicking by the tenth stroke. And, by the fifteenth stroke, he was weeping brokenly. Gritting his teeth, Sirius lifted his knee and landed the last five smacks in quick succession right on the area where buttock met thigh. Once he was done, he threw the ruler to the side.
Gently rubbing circles on the boy's back, Sirius made soothing noises. As much as Harry deserved it, Sirius could not help but wince in sympathy at the now bright red posterior. Slowly, he helped his crying son up and spreading his legs, gently set him down. Tentatively, he put his arms around Harry's shaking shoulders.
Harry quickly threw his arms around his father, clinging onto Sirius for dear life as he tearfully apologised over and over again. Eventually he tired himself out, falling asleep in Sirius' arms.
Decidedly feeling wretched, Sirius picked Harry up with a grunt and gently laid the sleeping form on the bed, covering him with the blankets. Swinging his aching shoulders and stretching his back muscles, he walked across the room to pick up the jeans and boxer-briefs that had been kicked across the room. Placing them on the end of the bed, Sirius ruminated that Harry had really started gaining weight. Those nutrient potions had paid off.
Harry woke up just in time for dinner. He was initially quiet as he shuffled into the kitchen, but after another reassuring hug from Sirius, he regained his good humour. Deciding that a change was in order, Sirius took him out for dinner.