The next morning, Harry awoke startled, then remembered what had happened the night before. Back aching in protest, he hopped out of bed and pulled on his robes. Harry grabbed his wand, stuffed it in his pocket and headed for the door.
"Where ya goin'?" Dean asked groggily from the bed closest to the door.
"Uh, shower," Harry said, not wanting to waste time telling the truth. That would be a long story anyway. Dean simply nodded and disappeared again behind the curtains.
Harry walked down to the common room at a brisk pace and proceeded out the portrait hole. He paused on the balcony connected to the Grand Staircase, wondering where he should go. He wanted to know how Sirius's "hearing", for lack of a better word, had gone. He wondered if Sirius had been allowed to stay here, assuming he was not rearrested. Harry decided that his best bet was to go ask Severus, assuming he was awake. It was after six in the morning so Harry thought it reasonably certain.
Harry headed down to the dungeons, trepidation in his step. What if Fudge didn't believe Sirius? What if he had already been given the kiss without Harry getting to at least say goodbye to the godfather he had known for a whole twelve hours?
Harry knocked briskly on Severus's office door. There was no answer. It was unlocked, so Harry went in. He uttered the password to Severus's chambers and stepped inside.
"Severus?" Harry called.
He came out of the hallway and looked mildly surprised to find Harry at the door.
"What are you doing up so early?" he asked, casual tone betraying nothing.
"I came to see what happened last night. Did they let Sirius off?" Harry asked, a note of urgency in his voice.
"Not exactly," Severus said, setting down his cup of coffee on the end table. "They have set a date for the trial in late July."
"What happens until then?" Harry asked, worried.
"He cannot exactly run free, can he?" Severus asked rhetorically, eyebrow raised. "He was, however allowed to stay the night at the castle."
"Where is he?" Harry asked. He would rather like to have a private conversation with his godfather.
Severus nodded towards the hall behind him.
"He's here?" Harry asked, incredulous. "In your chambers? You let him stay here?" Harry grinned. "You're getting so much nicer."
Severus gave a deep scowl. "Merlin, I hope not. It was the only logical possibility. The only spare beds we have are in the hospital wing. I am the one teacher with an extra room currently unoccupied."
"Mine?" Harry asked. It didn't bother him as long as Sirius had gotten a shower first.
Severus nodded. "It would not be wise to leave him unattended in the same room as the person whom he tried to kill last night, so it was decided that he would stay here."
"Sure, blame the logic for your kindness," Harry muttered, sly grin still on his face.
Severus glared. "I do believe he was rather pleased with the Gryffindor colors already in the room."
Harry smiled. "Who wouldn't be?"
"Me," Severus said. "You are welcome to stay until he wakes up, if you wish. Or you could just wake him up now."
Severus looked as if a rude awakening would please him.
"No, it's alright; I'll wait," Harry said, partially to deprive his guardian of the satisfaction and partially because Sirius looked in need of rest. That turned out to be the wrong choice.
"Well, if we have time to kill, I would discuss with you my disapproval of your actions last night."
Harry could not help but roll his eyes, knowing full well the anger that would result. "You never approve of my actions. At least not if they're dangerous."
"I approve of you saving Black and myself. That was a very impressive patronus," Severus said, starting the lecture with the good. "Even though I specifically told you to stay put. Regardless, you should never have been at the edge of the forest at dusk. What in Merlin's name were you thinking?"
"We got a note from Hagrid," Harry explained, "saying to meet him at dusk at the Forbidden Forest. We went early, before dusk because I knew you would be mad if I was out at night. We got to the forest and I heard him call my name from inside. We went closer and out jumped Sirius as a dog. He bit Ron and drug him into the Whomping Willow. We followed and you pretty much know the rest."
The thought of the Whomping Willow reminded Harry of the pain in his back.
"Do you have any potions for getting hit in the back with a giant tree branch?" Harry asked innocently.
The look on Severus's face told him that he wasn't helping his case. "Yes, of course. I will get one in a moment."
"Thanks," Harry said earnestly.
"Did you actually see Hagrid?" Severus asked, eyes narrowed.
"No," Harry admitted. "Only heard him."
Severus frowned. "Where exactly did you hear him? What part of the forest?"
"About where we came out," Harry replied after a moment of thought. "What are you thinking?"
"That it might have been the reason for Mr. Zabini's presence in the forest. He may have been trying to lure you somewhere," he speculated.
"That wasn't his voice though," Harry said definitively.
Severus looked at him. "He could have used a voice altering charm."
"Oh, right," Harry said, feeling a little stupid for not thinking of that.
Severus waved his hand dismissively. "Anyway, back to the real problem at hand. You also should not have stepped in front of my wand while in the Shrieking Shack. What if I had begun to cast something that was beyond recall?"
Harry frowned. "It was the only way to get you to listen to me. Would you really have killed him?"
"If he had given me a reason to, certainly," Snape said casually.
Harry stared at him. "You sounded like you didn't even need a reason last night," he pointed out.
Severus's brow raised. "That is probably true. You cannot begin to understand my loathing of that man."
"No, I really can't," Harry said. "On another note, what about the prophecy?"
Severus looked unsettled when he thought of it. "There is nothing we can do now. If he gained another follower, it is done."
"Do you really think he will come back?" Harry asked quietly.
"Yes, Harry. I do," Severus said candidly.
With that ominous note, silence fell until a squeaking of the floorboards revealed Sirius's presence.
"Sirius!" Harry greeted him happily. "How are you feeling?"
"Great," he replied with a smile. Hair washed and face clear from dirt, his smile did not look nearly as grotesque as it had the night before. If his face was not so sunken from his time in Azkaban, Sirius would actually be rather handsome. "It's so good to see you, Harry," he said earnestly.
"You mean good to see me not ready to kill you?" Harry asked, reddening a bit.
Sirius let out a short, barking laugh. "Yeah, there is that." He glanced at Severus. "Thanks for letting me stay the night here, I'll go now."
"No, don't go yet!" Harry said. "Severus won't mind if you stay a bit, right Sev?"
Severus glared at him but Harry rather liked that nickname. Maybe he could get Severus to tolerate it as well. "It does not matter to me," he said dryly. Using a summoning charm, he retrieved a pinkish potion a small bottle. Handing it to Harry, he said, "Here. I think I will go finish grading the papers that should have been done last night." Severus moved to go to his office. Though the excuse was valid, Harry knew that he was just giving them time to talk.
Harry thanked him and downed the potion in a gulp. He grimaced.
Sirius looked at him in concern. "Are you sure that was safe to drink?" he asked suspiciously.
"Of course," Harry replied.
Sirius shook his head. "What's up with you two anyway? He said that was your room and now you called him 'Sev'...Only Lily used to be allowed to do that."
Harry bit his lip. "Severus adopted me."
"He what?" Sirius asked incredulity transforming his features.
Harry nodded. "Yeah. I kept my name though. So that's why I have a room here," Harry explained. He gave a sly smile, "But he still hates it when I call him 'Sev'."
Sirius shook his head, obviously struggling to grasp the idea. "Here I was going to offer for you to come live with me," he said with a slight frown. "If I am cleared, that is."
"You will be, won't you?" Harry asked. "Did they use veritaserum?"
Sirius nodded. "It has them pretty convinced of the truth but I still have to go through an official trial."
"I'll be a witness if you need it," Harry offered.
"Thank you, Harry," Sirius said. He studied him for a moment. "Your father would be so proud of you."
"He would?" Harry asked, hopeful.
"So proud," Sirius repeated. "Though perhaps a little disturbed by your choice of guardian. Your patronus looked just like him."
"A stag," Harry muttered. "Hang on. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. You made the Marauder's map, didn't you? That's how you knew so much about it last night."
Sirius grinned. "Did it serve you well?"
"Until Severus took it," Harry said. "He's supposed to give it back though."
"He better," Sirius said in a tone that implied he would fight him for it.
"What's going to happen to you until the trial?" Harry asked, steering the conversation into more difficult waters.
Sirius frowned. "Back to Azkaban, I suppose." He shivered inadvertently.
"That's not right," Harry said. "They know you're innocent! How did you survive all those years without going mad?"
"I knew that I didn't do anything wrong. I had revenge to look forward to but it wasn't happy so they couldn't take it from me," Sirius said grimly. "When it became too much, I changed into a dog. They don't have as much of an effect on me that way."
Harry looked at him with sympathy. "So it was you at the Weasley's picnic?"
Sirius grinned. "Yes. Thanks for the bread, by the way," he said with a wink.Harry laughed. "You know, I asked Severus if we could adopt you. He said no. He wanted a purebreed, if anything, not a stray."
"I'm a pureblood, does that count?" Sirius asked playfully. "You could still adopt me and then I wouldn't have to go back to Azkaban. The ministry still doesn't know I'm an animagus." Towards the end, the playful tone wilted and turned to become more serious and thoughtful.
"They probably would arrest you again if you did that," Harry said, but a plan began to form in his mind. There were only seeds but perhaps... he would think about it later. "Are you hungry?"
"Are you kidding?" Sirius asked. "I've been living off rats. Ugh, rats," he said thinking of Pettigrew. "I hate them."
"I would too," Harry said earnestly. "I don't think people would take well to you showing up in the Great Hall. I'll have the house elves send something up." As he walked to the kitchen to paige the elves, Harry noted that Sirius was much more lighthearted this morning than he had been last night. That was definitely understandable. When not talking, however, his face fell into a sort of brooding. Harry assumed he was thinking of him imminent return to Azkaban. Harry wished that he could do more for his godfather.
As they waited for the food to arrive, Harry and Sirius resumed chatting. They had twelve years to catch up on in one day.
"You play a great game of Quidditch, by the way," Sirius said. "That is, when it isn't interrupted by dementors."
"Thanks," Harry said. He paused. "Was it you who sent the Firebolt?"
Sirius grinned. "You like it?"
"I love it! Thank you so much!" Harry gushed.
Sirius shrugged. "Makes up for the twelve birthdays I missed."
"That's alright, everyone else missed them too," he said nonchalantly. "And they were worried that the broom was from someone trying to hurt me. Like, you know, Sirius Black," Harry said, voice heavy with irony.
Black let out another barking laugh. "For once they were right, huh?"
With a pop, two house elves appeared, one carrying a tray of food and the other a pitcher of pumpkin juice. They set them on the end table.
"Thank you," Harry said, out of habit.
They looked confused and worried but bowed as normal and disappeared. Sirius was eyeing Harry.
"Perhaps you aren't exactly like your father," he mused.
Harry shrugged, "I'll see if Severus wants some."
He went to go fetch his guardian from the office.
"You want some breakfast?" he asked the figure bent over a pile of papers.
Severus turned to look at Harry. "You are truly suggesting that the three of us sit down for a meal?"
Harry frowned. "Yes?"
"We loathe each other."
"Yes?" Harry repeated. "Please, Severus?"
Severus drew in a deep breath. As he had planned, it worked. "Fine."
Harry proudly led the way back to the chambers where Sirius had moved the food to the kitchen. He was eyeing it hungrily.
"Missing your usual fare, Black?" Severus asked snidely. "Which was what? Garbage?"
"Rats actually," Sirius replied casually.
"Charming," Severus replied. "No need for plates then, I suppose?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "I'll get them."
Knowing how hungry his godfather was, Harry set the table quickly.
"Convicts first," Severus said in a falsely gracious tone.
Sirius shrugged and dug in. Severus actually looked perturbed that his snide comments weren't affecting Sirius. Harry assumed that he didn't want to let Severus ruin his one day of freedom.
"How long do you have?" Severus asked.
"Pardon?" Sirius asked, mouth full of potatoes.
"How long until they return you to the dementors?" he specified. A haunted look surfaced in Sirius's eyes. Harry shot his guardian a warning look. He got nothing but a blank stare in return.
"Noon," Sirius said.
Harry stood abruptly. "Severus can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Certainly," he said, standing as well and following Harry to the other room. Harry looked towards the kitchen, hoping they were out of earshot.
"Can Sirius stay with us until his trial?" Harry asked.
Severus gave him an intense look and was silent for a long moment. "Are you asking in a legal sense or asking if I will allow it?"
"Either," Harry said with a shrug. "Both."
"To the first: I am unsure. To the second: no."
"Severus!" Harry said. "You would rather him rot in Azkaban with dementors for company than let him stay with us? You hate him that much?"
"Yes," Severus said simply, closing the matter.
Harry sighed. "Will you please at least ask Dumbledore if it is allowed?"
"Why does it matter if I am saying 'no'?" Severus asked.
"Just ask," Harry insisted.
"Fine," Severus said. "I suppose I will go now. It is better than finishing breakfast with him."
Harry frowned. This did not bode well for his plan. Severus swept out of the chambers and Harry returned to finish eating with Sirius. He might only have another few hours with his godfather and he would make the most of it.