The sun was starting to rise when Rose awoke the following morning. She yawned once, stretching her arms above her head and rubbed her eyes, searching for Sirius. He was standing by the window, staring at the gloomy August sky, looking more tired than he had at night.
"Sirius?" Rose called out to him, twisting the blankets with her fingers, wondering if he had gotten any sleep.
"Good morning love." The sadness that she could see in his eyes suddenly fade away when he turned around, "How are you feeling now?" Sirius asked as he came to sit on the other side of the bed.
"Better now." She answered, feeling refreshed; her head wasn't pounding anymore and her nose felt fine.
"I'm glad." He smiled, and Rose hesitated for a moment, seeing that the bed had not been slept in where he sat, but she didn't say anything. "Are you hungry?"
"Yes, I am." She said brightly, deciding to ask him about this another time; he really did seem happier.
"Alright, let's go get some breakfast. I'm sure I can whip something up for you." Sirius held out his hand for her to take.
Within a quarter of an hour, Rose was dressed and ready for the day. It seemed early even now, the house felt a little cool and quiet all around, as if no one else had stirred from their sleep yet. Although when Sirius walked with her to the kitchen, they were greeted by someone unexpected.
"Harry? What are you doing here?" Sirius glanced at the clock and saw the time, which surprised him to see his Godson was awake.
"Sirius! I was just... in the mood for some early breakfast." Harry glanced up from his chair at the dining table when he heard his Godfather's voice.
“Well then allow me to entertain you and Rose with my cooking skills.” Waving his wand, Sirius instantly retrieved all the necessary ingredients without too much of a noise, “So what would you like to eat?” He asked the two of them.
“I’ll just have some toast and eggs.” If there was any sign of surprise in Harry’s voice as he realized that Sirius was actually cooking breakfast… at quarter past 7 in the morning, no one else picked up on it, but seeing his Godfather like this made Harry forget about his worries for the moment.
“May I have milk?” Rose chimed in as she sat down beside Harry and watched with immense delight at the scene unfolding in front of her eyes.
“Of course you may love!” Sirius replied and within minutes, he had not only managed to prepare a tall glass of milk, chocolate flavored for Rose but had also successfully made Harry’s breakfast quite perfectly too.
Once all was said and done, the three of them were seated at the table, Sirius having opted only for a cup of tea, quietly observed his Godson who hadn’t said much in the last several minutes or so; add to the fact that he was absent-mindedly picking his food told Sirius all he needed to know. There were many possibilities which would explain Harry’s behavior that morning, but perhaps the one which seemed most important at this time was what troubled the young wizard. And while Rose was happily enjoying her breakfast, Sirius took the opportunity to speak to him.
“You know, if my cooking skills aren’t all that good as I said they are, you can tell me Harry. I’m a big boy.” Starting off with an innocent comment, Sirius figured it would be the best way to go about this.
“Sorry, what?” Harry glanced up from his plate, noticing that Rose was aware of what was going on around her but didn’t say anything; turning to face his Godfather, he realized that he hadn’t fully heard what Sirius had said to him.
“Are you alright Harry? You seem to be worried about something… it’s the Hearing isn’t it?” Sirius asked, getting straight to the point now.
“Yeah… I’m just… I don’t know what’s going to happen… if I get expelled…” The idea of not being able to go back to Hogwarts was a feeling that Harry didn’t want to dwell on too much, but it was either thoughts of the Hearing or the nightmares and he’d had enough of those.
“You have nothing to worry about, my boy; what happened that night with your cousin… saving his life from the Dementors, it was the right thing to do. And I don’t doubt that the Hearing will prove your innocence.” Sirius said, hoping that his words would reassure him, “Besides, if you were expelled, then you know that you’re always welcome to stay here.” He added as an afterthought, thinking that perhaps it wasn’t the best thing to say but Harry needed to know that he was not alone.
“Thanks Sirius.” Harry smiled when he heard his Godfather call him ‘my boy’ because as simple as it sounded, he knew what it meant… that they were family and if anything were to happen then Sirius would want him to stay at Grimmauld Place.
After that, it didn’t take long for Harry to delve into his breakfast which really was delicious and he told Sirius as much; to that, the older wizard let out his bark-like laughter and that in turn caused Rose to giggle as well… in the midst of all this, there was another unexpected surprise when the kitchen door opened to reveal that both Tonks and Lupin had arrived already.
“Good morning everyone!” Tonks exclaimed cheerfully as she saw so many people awake at this early hour, “What’s going on here?” She also hadn’t expected to see that there was breakfast laid out on the table around which Sirius, Rose and Harry sat.
“Sirius cooked food!” Rose announced, having finished her milk by then and ran over to hug Tonks before moving to hug Lupin next.
“He did what?” Thinking that he hadn’t heard the little girl properly, Lupin knelt down in front of her, “I thought I just heard you say that Siriusmade breakfast?”
“Ha ha, very funny Moony… I’m sitting right here.” Sirius said to his friend as he too stood up to greet him and Tonks.
“I had no idea that you could cook Sirius.” Sounding genuinely surprised, Tonks made her way to Harry first who vouched for his Godfather almost instantly.
“I didn’t know about it either, but the eggs were great.” Harry was happy as he shook hands with both Tonks and Lupin.
“Well then, I expect you to make me breakfast as well now!” Tonks said when she finally reached Sirius, surprising him with a hug and a kiss on his cheek. “Something special maybe?” She added, beaming brightly at her cousin who was still processing her sudden happiness.
“I’m sure I can think of something.” He said at last, turning to Lupin who had been standing there, watching the two cousins, “Remus? Any breakfast requests?” Sirius asked him, not picking up the change in his behavior in that moment.
“Just tea.” Lupin answered softly and sat down on the chair which had just been vacated, trying his best not to stare while Tonks followed Sirius, talking with him in hushed whispers, standing close by and smiling all throughout.
It was only when he heard that familiar laugh of his best friend did Lupin tear his gaze away from the pair and met Harry’s look of surprise.
“He’s done that twice in the last half hour.” Harry said, referring to Sirius’s laughter; it was a rare occurrence for them to have witnessed.
Little did all of them know, Sirius included, that his happiness wouldn’t last very long. For the most part of the morning, he did remain in good spirits… even after Molly and the others woke up… and as the day went on, once the cleaning resumed in the study, things were still surprisingly going smoothly; Sirius had done his best to make sure that Rose didn’t get caught up in this work just yet since she was still not fully recovered. When she eventually did give in, he’d asked Tonks to take her upstairs to her room which she shared with Hermione and Ginny. And so, for the next few hours that passed, Rose found herself trying to take a nap, to no avail.
It was dark when her tiny little figure appeared on the second floor landing; the door to the library was slightly ajar with flickers of light being visible from within and Rose stood just outside, shuffling her feet as she thought if this was the right place. She’d spent the last fifteen minutes trying to find Sirius in vain. Her bedroom wasn’t as fancy or even comfortable as his bedroom had been the previous night, and if Rose was being honest with herself, she wasn’t used to sleeping alone, especially in a strange and new house as this. And so she quietly slipped out of her room in search of Sirius, hoping he wouldn’t mind her company, but she hadn’t found him in his own room nor was he in the attic with Buckbeak.
“Where is he?” She whispered out loud, glancing at the library door, wondering who was inside.
Rose knew that everyone had spent all afternoon cleaning the house and sure enough, even though the sun had set, she could clearly hear the loud but muffled voices of all the Weasleys, Harry and Hermione as they seemed to still be working. Perhaps Sirius had remained downstairs with them? And yet, somehow, she had found herself out here in the corridor where the library was located. Rubbing her nose which was luckily not runny anymore, Rose sighed and decided to head for the kitchen and find somebody who could tell her where Sirius was. However, just before she could turn around, Rose heard a strange noise coming from inside; she paused and hesitated long enough to hear it again. To her tiny ears, the noise sounded like someone was in pain and that was all she needed for her to open the door and enter the library.
“Hello!” Rose called out, glancing around, not seeing anyone just yet.
As with the rest of Grimmauld Place, the library felt very ancient and a bit dusty, but in spite of that, Rose sensed something comforting to be surrounded by books all over the place; there was even a fireplace burning bright - the source of flickering light she had seen from outside - and a pair of armchairs placed around a coffee table beside the sofa. That was when Rose found who she was looking for; Sirius was sleeping there… but the moment the little girl focused her gaze on him, she realized that something was very wrong. Sirius seemed fast asleep but his face was contorted in pain, his hands were gripping the leather tightly and he was moaning something over and over again… it didn’t take Rose more than a few seconds to sense his fear; she didn’t know what was wrong, but she wasn’t about to wait to find out, her heart was already aching to see him like this.
“Sirius?” She whispered his name softly as she walked closer to where he lay and touched his hand, hoping to wake him up.
There was no response, but now that Rose stood beside him, she could hear his voice when she leaned in to listen.
“James… Lily… please no… forgive me… I’m sorry… don’t!” For the first time since she the accident, Rose could hear the same fear that she’d felt with her nightmares in Sirius’s voice; he was scared… and she didn’t know what to do.
“Sirius. Wake up.” Rose shook his arm, thinking that maybe he was having bad dreams, and as much as it was scaring her to see him like this, there was no time to leave Sirius alone and go find someone else.
“I didn’t do it… I’m innocent! No…” His voice was sad and Rose found herself trying not to cry, she had to be brave for him.
Resigning herself to do something before things got worse, Rose glanced at Sirius once and hoped she could help him. She gently pulled up onto the sofa as she climbed it with ease, but since there wasn’t enough place for her to sit, Rose stood at the edge, clutching the headrest with one hand as she reached forward to pat Sirius's cheek with the other.
"Sirius!" She put a little more emphasis in her voice and sure enough, this time it worked.
Everything that happened next was much too fast for her to process; she knew that as soon as Sirius was awake, he jolted up almost instantly and not knowing that she was right there on the sofa with him, Rose felt herself falling down, when all of a sudden his arms were around her waist as he caught hold of her.
"Rose! Are you okay?" He looked like his old self again but Rose could see traces of whatever haunted him in his grey eyes.
"Yes, thank you." She replied, her heartbeats slowing down as he clung to him, not wanting to let go just yet.
"What happened? Why are you here? Is everything alright?" Sirius was relieved to have sensed Rose was near as soon as he woke up and that she was fine.
"I'm fine... I was looking for you." Rose started to explain, "I saw you sleeping and... you were having a bad dream." She said still seeing the sadness reflected in them.
Hearing her admit to being around when he was having one of his nightmares, Sirius sighed deeply, knowing what it was probably about and how Rose might have been scared. He hadn't told anyone else that his nightmares were still affecting him and now she knew... which meant she could say something to Tonks or even Remus. Or maybe she wouldn’t.
"You're right about that," Sirius spoke up at last, trying not to think about what would happen if Remus found out. "I was having a bad dream... but I'm okay now." He knew that his reassurance was more for himself than for her.
Even though she was young, Rose knew that Sirius only said that for her sake, so that she wouldn’t worry... but she wasn't going to let him just push everyone away... it was clear to her that even though he spent time with Harry and helped with the house cleaning and attended meetings with all the grown ups, whenever he got a chance, Sirius would close himself off from everything.
“What was it about?” She wasn’t sure if that was the best way to go about asking him if there was anything she could do to help, but Rose thought it seemed harmless enough a question.
Evidently not, for as soon as the words were spoken, Rose could immediately sense that Sirius suddenly stiffened and the look in his eyes returned, not just sadness, but something else… a feeling that was similar to… pain? And yet, even before she could take her words back, Sirius found himself answering her.
“Harry’s mum and dad; they were my best friends… sometimes I dream about them… sometimes the dreams are bad.” His voice was soft, but thankfully Sirius knew that whatever he had been dreaming about was no longer something he could remember.
“You miss them.” It wasn’t a question, because now Rose understood what she could see reflected in his eyes, it was the same look she had seen in her own eyes the first night after hearing about her parents’ death.
“Yes, I do… everyday.” Sirius said with a deep sigh, before looking at Rose who seemed to be lost in her own thoughts, “But do you know something, Rose? The ones that love us never really leave us. And you can always find them in here.” He took a hold of her hand and touched it to her heart, giving her a small smile.
The young girl glanced up to meet his gaze and smiled back at him; if he was able to make her feel better then there had to be something she could do in return. She didn’t say anything more about the nightmare, but an idea did come to mind.
"My momma used to tell me when I had bad dreams that a special magic will make it go away." It was true that while she didn't know Sirius that well yet, he was taking care of her and that was all Rose wanted to do for him.
"Really? And what kind of special magic is this?" He was curious to know more... just being around Rose was helping him to forget his nightmare and focus on her.
Instead of saying anything in reply, Rose simply sat up straight, still on his lap, and kissed his cheek. If Sirius showed any signs of surprise, he didn't say anything to Rose but smiled a real smile which he knew didn't happen very often. And yet, in the three days that she had been here, she had done the impossible by making him smile at least once every day.
"Thank you Rose, that special magic does help." Sirius finally said to her, thinking about how much Rose continued to remind him of her aunt Marlene; how she was always going out of her way to make him laugh back when they were at Hogwarts together, just starting to be friends.
"I have one more thing!" Happy that Sirius was feeling better, Rose decided to go all in.
She slowly clambered down from Sirius's lap without any explanation, and before he could ask her where she was running off to, he saw her walk over to a stack of books lying on the floor. For her part, Rose wasn't sure what she was looking for exactly, but when her glance fell on an old and tattered book with it's title covering most of the front with a strange picture of a circle inside a triangle, she found herself wanting to know more about it.
"What's this you've found love?" Sirius asked, once Rose had come back to the sofa.
"I don't know. It looks old." She replied back, handing the book to him and climbed up to sit on his lap again.
"Oh? Let's take a look then shall we?" As soon as he glanced at the book, Sirius felt a slight ache in his heart.
"What is it Sirius?" Rose was getting better at reading his features and wondered why he seemed sad again.
"Hmm? Nothing... nothing at all. I just... I remembered that this was my old copy of a book that I gave to Harry's mum back when we were in school together." He had opened the book now and started to trace the name 'Lily Evans' that was scribbled in a corner.
"It was the first birthday present I ever gave Lily after we became friends." Sirius continued, "She didn't know much about Wizarding fairytales and was always going on about stories like 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Thumbelina' which she loved. I never heard of those before and I remember that the year after, Lils gave me her book of Muggle Tales to read." Thinking on that memory brought a wistful look in his eyes.
Rose, who had been silently listening to Sirius reminisce about his past, now wondered where that book was.
"Do you still have it?" She asked, thinking that maybe she could find it for him.
"No, I don't think I do. I'm not even sure how I found this one or where the other disappeared to..." Sirius suddenly realized that Rose was waiting for a story to be read. Cleaning his throat, he focused on the present moment, "Right, that's enough of that, shall we see which story we're going to read?"
"Yes please!" Rose was excited, she knew what she needed to learn from Sirius and now wanted him to focus on reading, hoping that it would help him.
"Alright then, this is 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' and I'm going to read you my favorite story from this... what say love?" It had been a very long time since Sirius had had a chance to read any of these tales but was glad to have the opportunity to do so for Rose.
"What is the story called?" All that Rose could see was the index which had 5 separate tales and lots of pictures as well as runes, even if she didn’t know what those were yet.
"Ah yes, I'm glad you asked that." Flipping the pages to the second story of the book, Sirius began to read, "The Fountain of Fair Fortune... are you ready?" He clearly remembered his Runes for once he started reading, it was almost as if the story was translated in simple English.
Rose nodded her head and settled in to a more comfortable position, resting her back against his chest so that she could see the pictures inside.
"High on a hill in an enchanted garden, enclosed by tall walls and protected by strong magic, flowed the Fountain of Fair Fortune. Once a year, between the hours of sunrise and sunset on the longest day, a single unfortunate was given the chance to fight their way to the Fountain, bathe in its waters and receive Fair Fortune for evermore."
There was something soothing about the way he narrated these tales, but Rose did not want to simply fall asleep and ruin this nice quiet time that she had with Sirius. Instead, she was constantly turning her head to glance up at him every time he used a different voice and emphasis when reading out the character dialogues; it took some effort on her part to not giggle at how cute he sounded. And even when he finished reading the first tale, Rose insisted that he continue, moving on to the next story, 'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot' It was only when he had reached the third tale, 'Babbity Rabbity and the Cackling Stump' almost an hour later, did Sirius sense that Rose had indeed fallen into a deep sleep, curled up on his chest.
“That’s all for tonight.” He whispered to Rose as he closed the book and carefully set it down on the table, making sure that he didn’t wake her up.
The big and ancient grandfather clock that thankfully never chimed loudly anymore told him that it was past 9 o’clock; but even though the two of them probably had missed dinner and no one had come looking, Sirius knew that the others were giving him and Rose some space and alone time together. And so, he chose to stay there in the library for a little while longer until he was sure that taking her back to his room wouldn’t disturb her.
“Goodnight Rose.” Sirius kissed her forehead as he soon found himself drifting off as well, hugging his arms around her gently... and for the first time in many nights, he had a dreamless, peaceful sleep.