The Unexpected Visitor

Chapter 5

If there was one thing that Sirius could be certain of, it was the fact that he really meant everything he promised, especially the promises made to himself. True to his word, for the most part of the day, Sirius didn't leave the room; his entire attention was devoted to keeping an eye on Rose. There were a few instances when he had company - Molly came up with food a little while after Tonks had left, she hadn't lectured him as much as he'd thought she would but he did listen patiently even if it felt a bit silly, Lupin arrived close to the evening and Sirius did take the opportunity to apologize to him for what had happened earlier, Harry and Tonks checked in as well, but during the rest of his time, he was deep in thought as he waited.

There were hundreds of things running through his mind, but the one instance which stood out... was all of his own experiences that he'd had with running away from this very house. Sirius remembered it as clearly as ever; the first attempt at escaping Grimmauld Place was after he had turned 7, just a few weeks after his birthday. It hadn't worked out of course, but that didn't stop him from trying over and over again, until he had finally left that summer when he was 16, when he'd run away to the Potters at Godric's Hollow… those were the best years of his life, no matter how short lived they turned out to be; he knew that he would do it all over again if he could, in a heartbeat. And yet, even as he thought about his own experiences, he realized the difference between him and Rose was quite glaring… the last thing Sirius wanted was for her to feel the way he had for most of his life, she wasn't haunted by the past, she wasn't touched by darkness, not as he had been for far too long that he didn't remember what his life was before… Rose may have suffered the loss of her family at such a young age, but she wasn't completely alone. It was in that moment that Sirius decided no matter what, he would do his very best to make this a home for her, try to be there for her and hopefully help her heal.

"You and Rose can figure this out… together." Tonks's words echoed in his mind as he sat on the sofa facing the fireplace, staring into the red and gold flames, his gaze drifting over to Rose who lay asleep on his lap now.

She had briefly woken up for a few minutes in between, long enough to eat something and to have her temperature checked; Sirius hadn't asked her anything else and neither had she said a word to him, but that was not the right time. Looking at her now, all he could see was how peaceful Rose seemed and untouched by everything happening around her and wondered…what it would be like to sleep so soundly.

He was deep in thought in that moment that he didn't immediately sense when Rose began to stir; her eyes flickered open and as she sat up, Sirius turned around, giving her a small smile, hoping they could finally talk about what had happened that morning.

"How are you feeling Rose?" He asked her, knowing that before anything else, Sirius needed to know that she was better.

"I'm okay…" Rose said softly as she rubbed her eyes, but she looked fresh after having rested for the whole afternoon. "Where am I?" She was starting to realize that this wasn't the same room she'd slept in the previous night, everything looked much different here.

"This is my room, I brought you here to rest…" Sirius began to say, "I don't know if you remember what happened this morning, when you were out in the rain."

"I know." Nodding her head as she understood that it was time to talk about her actions, Rose looked up to meet Sirius's gaze, "I am sorry I ran away." She apologized softly and hung her head low, bringing her knees up to her chin, hugging her legs.

"Hey, hey… look at me." Sirius had a good idea about what was going on in Rose's mind, but he needed her to believe that none of this was her fault, "Rose." He spoke softly and reached out to touch her cheek, making Rose look up once more. "I am sorry for what I said… I should have talked to you about it first and explained that I never meant for my words to make you feel sad."

Hearing his words surprised Rose a little, she had been so confused and scared when she heard Sirius talking to Lupin about her and her first instinct in response was to run; but maybe she should have stayed and listened to what Sirius wanted to say.

"I… the Ear…" Rose whispered, "You said, 'Rose should not be here, I said no' and I…" She couldn't finish the sentence, but in the second when she sniffed and rubbed her nose, Sirius left his seat beside her on the sofa and knelt down in front of her just as he had the first time they'd met.

"It's okay love, I know… I'm sorry." He said to her again, taking a hold of both her hands in his, hating that she was still feeling the sting of his words; even though it had been unintentional, Sirius had hurt Rose and now all he could do was tell her what he really meant. "There was more to what I said about not wanting you here, I… I was trying to say that you deserve a chance at a better life; I had just found out that you and your parents had been living in hiding for so many years and I did not want you to go through that again Rose." Sirius hoped his words were getting through to her, "The idea that you were going to be staying here and be in hiding, never getting to see the world and having a normal childhood, I didn't want to put you through it… but I know now that I was wrong… and believe me when I say this love, I… I do want you here, I want you to stay, if you will have me."

"You do?" That was the only thing Rose needed to hear, she did want to believe Sirius with all her heart.

"Yes, yes Rose. I do." He would say the words to her every single day if it would help; having her here, Sirius could feel a change, not just in the house, but within him… a slow change… for the better perhaps?

"I want to stay here." She said to him and at last managed to smile for the first time that day, a big bright smile.

"Good, I'm happy to hear you say that. And I am sorry, again." Sirius added once more, even though he knew that things between him and Rose were starting to get better, it would take time for them to truly move past this but he was hopeful.

"It's okay." Rose shook her head and told Sirius that there was no need for him to keep apologizing to her.

Just as she was about to make a move to hug Sirius, Rose noticed that there was a piece of paper sticking out from his pocket and she wondered what it was. As if he knew exactly what she was thinking, Sirius wordlessly removed the envelope which he had shown to Tonks earlier and now held it up for Rose to see as well; she deserved to know what the letter said.

"It's a letter. From your parents to me." He explained to her, waiting for a heartbeat to pass before continuing, "Would you like me to read it to you?"

As soon as she heard Sirius mentioning her parents, Rose snapped her head up to stare at him; this was the last thing she had expected to hear… a message from them… after… she didn't know what to say, she didn't even know if she could say anything, but she did want to know what they had said to him and so Rose simply nodded. Sirius remained where he was, on the floor with one hand holding Rose's and the other which held the letter; he glanced at her once again before he began to read.

"Dear Sirius,

I know it has been many years since you and I have met, I don't even know if you even remember me now… this may seem like an odd request, especially since I am well aware of your situation and what happened to you. My words probably will not mean much to you, but we have always believed in your innocence Sirius. Though I may have been young at the time and simply a child when you and my sister were at Hogwarts, the friendship you had with James and Lily was truer than any relationship I have ever come across in my life. And I remember always hearing Marl telling me stories about all the pranks and fun times you used to have together… I am truly sorry for your loss… I know how it feels… I've never quite healed after losing Marlene, but I was able to move on with the help of my beautiful wife. Yes, I know, it seems strange doesn't it? Little Tommy finally grew up and found love at last. It is true, I did meet someone special and Evie has been my one constant in all these years of solitude. And together, we both found happiness in these dark times when our little girl was born… Marlene Rose… there was no better name for her, do you not agree? From the moment I first held her in my arms, I could not believe that this was possible, that this beautiful baby was really ours, that she would be able to change the world for us, but she has… and the four years that Evelyn and I have had with her have been a blessing.

This might be asking too much of you, but if there was any chance that we could keep Rose safe from all the dangers that are still out there, we wouldn't wish to trouble you… and even now it pains me to think that I may not be a part of my daughter's life for much longer, there is no certainty of what tomorrow may bring, but all that we would want is for our little girl to be safe. To have a chance of living. And you are our only hope Sirius. There is no one else we trust more. We only ask that you take care of Rose and raise her to the best of your abilities; she deserves a family, and I do not mean to be rude when I say this - but I think that you do too. Please think about this at least… if anything were to ever happen to Evelyn and I, if we were to be found by the enemy, all we ask is for our daughter to be kept safe. I do not know what happened between you and my sister, but I do believe that she loved you until the day she died, and I know you loved her too. Please. For Marlene's sake. Don't let her niece get caught up in this war. I beg of you.

Thank You,

Thomas and Evelyn McKinnon."

When he had finished, there was a moment of silence that hung in the air between him and Rose. Sirius was watching her closely, waiting to see how she would react. It didn't take very long for that… almost a few seconds later, he saw her lower lip quivering and the next thing he knew, Rose had flung her hands around his neck as she cried… Sirius who had been expecting something like this didn't say a word as he held her in his arms, letting her cry; he could feel the sobs making her body shake as the tears continued to fall and though his heart was aching for her, he couldn't help but wonder if this was the first time since… losing both her parents that Rose had cried. She may have been in shock all along, the reality sinking in a week later. And so, the two of them stayed that way for a few minutes as Sirius rubbed her back to slowly calm her down.

"It's okay love, I have you…" Sirius whispered to her once he sensed that the worst of it was starting to pass already.

However, before either one of them could say or do anything else, there was a sudden disruption in the room, a very loud one which startled Rose… without any sort of warning, several heavy noises that sounded like - *THUD* *THUD* *THUD* in a continuous loop surprised her and she jumped, breaking away from Sirius only far enough to look around, a little scared. For his part, Sirius had been equally surprised and quickly scanned his room, finding the source of the noise… a half dozen or so books had fallen off the bookshelf… of their own accord?

"What was that noise?" Rose asked him as she turned around to see where Sirius was focused on.

"Books falling. Don't worry, I'll take care of it." His brows were furrowed as he gently lifted Rose to sit her back on the sofa, before walking across the room to where the books lay scattered in a small pile.

Sirius was in deep thought as he picked up the books from the floor and placed them back, thinking about what had just happened and how; looking over to where Rose sat, he noticed her wide eyed, silent stare and that was when he realized... this sudden disruption from the bookshelves were a result of her magic! Was it even possible? She was still so young, and even though most witches or wizards didn't display any outward signs until they were a little older, perhaps her emotional outburst had acted as a trigger, causing some of the books to fly off the shelf.

"S… Sirius?" Rose's voice called out to him, a soft whisper that could barely be heard over the crackling flames of the fireplace.

"Yes love?" He left the last book aside and walked back to where she sat on the sofa, with her legs tucked in and arms wrapped around herself as she had done before.

"Did I… did I do that?" She asked, looking a little scared after what had just happened.

There were so many thoughts in her mind that she couldn't make sense of, one minute she was crying in Sirius's arms and the next, the loud and frightening sounds of books toppling off the shelf on their own. It was no secret to Rose that she knew about being a witch herself; she had seen magic being used in front of her many times now and even if she didn't understand everything… perhaps it was her magic that had done this to the books.

"Yes, you did." Nodding in agreement to her question, Sirius gave her a smile, "That was your first time doing magic wasn't it?" He asked her in return; knowing that she must be scared and curious, Sirius took this as an opportunity to distract Rose from other thoughts.

Still a little surprised at her own abilities, Rose simply nodded her head... unsure of what to say to him next.

"It's perfectly normal to be a little worried about your magic Rose…" As if he could sense her thoughts, Sirius spoke up, "I know what I felt the first time I used magic when I was a little older than you... but believe me, it is a wonderful gift and in time when you start to learn how to control and use magic freely, especially when you go to Hogwarts, you'll find that magic changes your life in ways you can never imagine!"

"Really?" Piping up with curiosity now, Rose wanted to know more about magic; she wasn't thinking about the letter or her parents for the moment and she did feel a little less sad.

Seeing her newfound interest in magic, Sirius couldn't help but chuckle when he saw Rose looking at him intently.

"Oh yes, really. Tell me, has anyone told you that you can use magic without a wand?" He paused to see Rose shake her head before continuing, "And what about without even speaking?" This was an opportunity he could use to make her smile.

"You can't do magic with no wand and no talking!" Rose insisted, for she had always seen magic used in only those forms before.

"Would you like to see if I'm right or wrong?" An idea had come to his mind and Sirius thought that if he could bring back that sweet smile of hers that he had seen the night before then he'd know that she would be okay.

"Yes please!" Beaming brightly, Rose sat up in eager as she wondered what Sirius was going to do.

"Alright then... prepared to be amazed." Sirius announced dramatically.

First, he made a show of pushing up the sleeves of his jacket to show that his wand was not hidden there. When Rose checked both his arms to be sure, she gave him the go ahead and waited excitedly for his magic.

"Hmm... what shall we do?" He pondered out loud, there were a lot of idea's in mind, but something simple would be enough for now.

"Magic! Any magic... I don't mind." Rose wanted to see that this would work, so that one day she would be able to do it herself.

"As you wish." Without saying anything else, Sirius reached a hand out to where Rose sat and pulled a flower from behind her ear.

"Oh!" She was surprised to see the flower appear out of thin air and immediately clapped her hands.

"A rose for a rose, love." Sirius said, handing a single red rose to her.

Taking it from his hands, Rose felt it with her fingers and knew it was real. Even the scent of the flower was real.

"Thank you Sirius!" Rose exclaimed happily as she sat up and hugged him tightly. "I love it."

"You're welcome my dear." For someone who hadn't been hugged by many people in a long time and certainly not so many times in one night, Sirius didn't mind it at all and was happy to hug Rose back.

The hug lasted but a few seconds, for Rose had not yet recovered from her cold. Without any warning, she sneezed twice, just as soon as she had separated herself from Sirius.

"Achoo!" She sneezed once more, her nose turning red now and eyes watery as she sniffled.

"You still have a cold!" Sirius was a little worried now, and jumped to his feet. "Come on, let's get you to bed, I'm sure that you just need a good night's sleep." He knew that panicking wouldn't help, everyone was probably asleep already... but this was a common cold and he could handle it.

"Okay…" Rose nodded her head, too tired to say anything else. Her ankle did not hurt anymore, but she wasn't sure if she could walk all the way to her room.

Sirius, who had turned away from Rose for a second, noticed her trying to get down from the couch, but he wasn't having any of that. He knew that Rose had slept for a few hours already, but with the emotional outburst from crying and using her magic, it was better if she rested more.

"Where do you think you're off to love?" He asked, seeing Rose pausing to look at him.

"My room." She replied, rubbing her nose, "To sleep."

"Not tonight." Was all Sirius said, walking over to Rose and carefully lifting her up in his arms. "You're sleeping here tonight. I'm going to watch over you; if you need anything, I'll be here." He said, carrying her back to the bed.

Rose was starting to nod off by then, but Sirius didn't mind... he knew that she had eaten something and would be okay until the morning. As he set her down on his bed, gently unlinking her arms from around his neck, Sirius smiled when he saw Rose settle in almost immediately. He made sure to tuck her with the covers; once he felt that she was going to be fine for the night, Sirius moved to get up, only to feel a tiny, soft hand grabbing his wrist.

"Rose?" He called out softly, thinking she was stirring, but he saw that she was fast asleep.

She had snuggled into the familiar thick covers while continuing to hold his hand, a hint of a smile on her face. Sirius sat there, on the edge of the bed, watching her for a few minutes... deep in thought... Rose had been here for about 24 hours now and so much had happened since then; but despite his reservations and concerns about taking care of her, Sirius was aware that his life had already changed and this was only the beginning.

"Sweet dreams love." Sirius said, resting his other hand on top of hers and bent down to kiss her forehead.

Whatever lay in store for the two of them, Sirius knew that he wasn't going to let Rose face anything alone. He had agreed to Thomas and Evelyn's request, but even in spite of that, just having spent time with her, Sirius was already feeling that they had formed a bond of trust between them. There was, however, the matter of Sirius's own company and how he tried to wrestle with the nightmares that he was forced to experience every day... something which Rose would soon discover. For the rest of the night, she slept peacefully, without tossing and turning even once... she definitely was sleeping much better than the previous night. And Sirius stayed by her side, still holding her hand.

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