He stepped over the threshold of the old house, the door creaking closed behind him. From the look of things, nobody had set foot inside the building in months, maybe longer. Nearly everything in sight was coated with a thick layer of dust. Cobwebs hung limply from light fixtures and wall hangings, moving lazily in the air as he wandered past. He looked around him, wondering what had happened, where everyone had gone. Before he had disappeared this house was constantly buzzing with activity, with life. Now, it appeared not a soul was present, not even the old house elf who loved this place and its departed family dearly.
He entered the kitchen, the activity center of the house. The silence was eerie, pressing into his ears; it felt almost loud, like screaming. There were plates still placed on the table, in the sink. And in the icebox, the remains of their meals rotted away, the ever-cold charm worn away. The more he saw, the more his thoughts frightened him. What had he missed? What was happening in the wizarding world? Was the Order still together? His mind immediately brought up the worst possible scenarios. He was sure something bad had happened, why else would this building lay deserted? It may have even been his doing.
He roamed upstairs, to his old bedroom. The floor was dirty and covered with stray pieces of hay, leftover from when Buckbeak resided there. Several mice scurried into the recesses of the room as he strode in. He paid them no mind. He thought about Buckbeak and wondered what had happened to his friend. Even when everyone else had forgotten him, Buckbeak remained loyal and by his side. A true friend.
- - -
He had made a fire in the front room. The warm flames did little to cheer the place up, to cheer him up. It simply kept him warm when everything around him was cold. He had found some liquor in the cabinet, left behind by those that never returned. It wasn't food, but it was something. He could have transformed and eaten the rats or other animals rustling under the floorboards and in the walls, but he hadn't sunk that low.
He stared, lost in thought, into the orange flames as they flickered and snaked upward. He thought for a long time about what had happened to those that he had cared for. What was Harry doing now? Was he even alive? For all he knew, Voldemort ran the wizarding world now, his friends and previous life all but gone. All of which boiled down to that night he accompanied the Order to the Ministry building. He was certain it was his decision to go that had brought his friends' ultimate demise. If he hadn't gone, he'd have been there to help them in other, more important, battles. He'd have been able to see Harry grow.
Drinking on an empty stomach wasn't exactly the brightest idea he had had. He had barely finished one glass and he was already feeling off. His thoughts were getting darker and stranger, the blame and hate for his past and actions strong in his mind. Of course it was his fault. He had caused it all. Why did he even bother coming back? He could have stayed gone; perhaps it would have been better. At least then he wouldn't have had to live with the knowledge that he had cleared the way for the ultimate evil.
Some time later, the flames began to converge before his eyes, blurring and doubling as he stared ahead, making his head spin. His face was wet with tears, his troubles and hate had long since left him behind, leaving his mind refreshingly blank. The room was getting darker and colder, the sense of being alone was stronger than he had felt earlier in the day. Though, for some reason, he didn't seem to care. He leaned back, falling flat onto the rug, a large puff of dust filling the air. He didn't remember choking on it, but he did remember something else; a face appearing before him, concerned and familiar, blurred just beyond recognition. It was the last thing he remembered before waking the next day.
- - -
Harry sat in a chair in the corner, watching, waiting. Sirius had been all but gone when he came upon him the night before, passed out before a dying fire mumbling incoherently and crying. Seeing Sirius took Harry completely off guard, seeing Sirius in that condition went a step farther, rendering him speechless. He couldn't do anything but stare at the man before him. Before last night, Harry had always assumed Sirius so much stronger than he apparently was. Of course, he was much younger then.
Little more than a year had passed since Sirius disappeared and so much had changed in Harry's life. He still hadn't found all the horcruxes, but he was well on his way. The things he had seen in the past few months had really made him weary of the world and people around him. Familiar faces were few and far between and lately Harry had found he couldn't even trust those.
Dumbledore was gone, a moment which Harry would never forget. From that second, Harry knew he had more ahead of him than he could comprehend. In fact, Harry felt like he had aged a hundred years in just the few months since his mentor passed. He quickly learned to understand the troubled look in Dumbledore's blue eyes. And the heavy, worn way in which Dumbledore moved seemed to have become Harry's as well. Those he had been familiar with in Hogwarts noticed it. Though they never mentioned it, Harry knew what was on their minds, what they filtered from their lips. He wasn't just the boy wonder anymore. He held the weight of the wizarding world on his shoulders.
- - -
Sirius watched Harry through half-closed eyes, still lingering in those last few moments of sleep. The torment of the evening forgotten, he was now focused on the dark features of his godson. The boy was staring at the cold stone floor, his mouth just a thin slash across his face. Had it only been a year? The boy before him didn't appear to be such anymore. He had the look, the air of a man who had been here before, someone who had seen it all and wasn't surprised by anything. He shouldn't have been able to see that. What had happened to the innocence? The wonder? Was there no happiness left for this one? Why was he forgotten?
Sirius felt a tickle in his nose. He tried to hold the sneeze in, wanting nothing more than to hold the moment, to continue watching Harry. But like everything else he was unready for, it came anyway.
- - -
Harry jumped at the sudden sound coming from Sirius. He stared for a moment at the man before speaking. "Sirius?" He asked, carefully, quietly.
After a moment, Sirius opened his eyes, meeting Harry's. He was unsure. Harry knew that feeling. It was all that he had felt since Dumbledore's death. Nothing was certain anymore. Harry waited for Sirius to say something, wanting to hear the other man's voice. Sirius seemed to stare for so long before his eyes watered over and he finally spoke.
"Harry?" He asked, his voice cracking as he spoke the name. "You're alive?" He sounded surprised.
Harry looked on confused as to how to respond. Such a strange greeting, he thought. "I could say the same to you," Harry finally responded, a small smile gracing his lips for the first time in months.
To his relief, Sirius did as well, his lips curling into a tight smile
- - -
The rest of the day the two men sat and talked with one another. Sirius explaining what exactly had happened to him. And Harry explaining the goings on in the wizarding world since Sirius had disappeared.
According to Sirius, when he passed through the veil he had entered a sort of limbo. He was neither alive nor dead, but somewhere in between. But there he stayed, pretty much just not existing. He was aware of time passing and such, but was unable to do anything more than just wait. And wait he did, until some entity sorted the whole situation out. "It was like it was run by bloody muggles," Sirius had said. "No sense of urgency at all. And efficiency? Nothing."
Harry told Sirius about Dumbledore's passing, after which both men took a few moments to let Harry's words sink in. He also spoke some about the horcruxes and the search he was in the midst of. The other happenings in the wizarding world, Harry glossed over. There was more trouble in the world than he wished to speak of and more deaths than he wished to remember. Instead, he chose to simply spend most of his time with Sirius involved in idle conversation - the kind that couldn't bring on sad memories or fresh pains.
- - -
Sirius still couldn't believe all that had happened while he was gone. Sure he imagined much worse, but the reality of it all was still harsh. It had subdued his excitement of being alive, seeing Harry. Though he and Harry had spent the majority of the night talking of other things, the darkness of the world still seeped in at the edges of their smiles, hiding just out of sight. The knowledge of this was ever present in his mind; he just chose to ignore it.
There were moments when he would catch Harry off guard, seeing his face clouded with the uncertainty of his tasks. His eyes would darken as he gazed past Sirius, focusing on something much farther away than the wall they stared through. Sirius would pause for a moment, waiting for Harry to return, giving the other man time to think. He knew the subjects they were skirting around, but didn't want to be the one to bring them forward. Instead he chose to indulge Harry in the art of forgetting, one drink at a time.
- - -
If anything at all, Harry was glad for the distraction that Sirius had given him from his duties. He had been wandering the country for several months now, risking his life and his mind to find and destroy the horcruxes. Harry didn't know how many times he had wanted to simply give in and let the pain and torment melt away; to welcome the death that these challenges had presented him. He hadn't spoken these words aloud, but they were always there, waiting just below the surface. He could never hide from the fear and uncertainty his life presented him.
By the end of the night, Harry couldn't remember half the conversations from the evening. His worries were on their way out as well. The alcohol was extremely effective in hiding them from his thoughts, something which Harry was very thankful for. It had been a long time since he'd been able to sit and think and not dwell on the bad.
He glanced up from his spot on the floor to Sirius, who was half asleep in the chair, his head leaning to one side. Only once before had he seen Sirius as an escape, a way out of the awful reality of his life. After that brief moment of excitement, Harry realized he was never meant to experience the joy and contentment that others took for granted. Such was his existence, a life of fear and responsibility punctuated by brief moments of sheer joy and wonder. Even as a boy, he wasn't allowed to be one. And now, as a man, he had to be something else, something more. He would never be just Harry.
- - -
Sometime later, Sirius woke from the light sleep that he had fallen into. He opened his eyes to see Harry staring blankly into the fire. He wondered how long he had been sleeping, how long Harry had been just sitting there. After several moments, Sirius reached out and touched Harry's shoulder, carefully, as if he were handling something very delicate. Harry's face turned to Sirius' as his fingers brushed his shoulder.
For just a moment, Sirius saw the turmoil within Harry's features before they became guarded once more. Amazing, Sirius thought, that Harry had learned so well to hide what emotions he held. He really was a man. It hadn't been too long ago, when Harry was still in school, that he had seen the boy's eyes light up with excitement at the mention of coming to live with him. It was that same night, Sirius remembered, that he had seen the first stirrings of the man Harry would become; when his face became hardened and resolute when faced with the consequences of the evening's events.
"Harry," Sirius started, suddenly at a loss for words. He slid out of the chair, beside Harry, his hand lingering on the other's back. He let his gaze fall on Harry's, trying to see beyond the mask he had created.
- - -
Harry looked up at Sirius when he felt the hand on his arm. The touch startled him out of the pit he had let himself sink into. As their eyes met, he quickly shielded whatever emotions from the surface, not really wanting to share what was on his mind.
When Sirius said his name, it made Harry wince. He knew what the other man was going to ask, he knew where this was going to lead. He just didn't have the courage to take that journey. Instead he simply stared back into Sirius' gaze, his face a void of emotion, just as he wished his mind to be.
When Sirius looked as if he were finally going to talk, Harry reached over and took his hand. "Look, Sirius," he said, breaking the silence before Sirius could. "I know what you're going to say. And… I just, I'm not ready. There's a lot going on." He paused to take a breath. "I'm just not ready to face it.
"I'm afraid," he continued. "And I'm sad. To be honest, I'm a whole lot of things. Most of which I haven't figured out yet."
Harry sighed, looking down at his and Sirius' hands. It was difficult for him to articulate what he wanted to say. He was more a person of action than anything. Talking usually didn't get him anywhere but in trouble. But he had just one more thing to say. Maybe then he could ignore the other feelings that fought for his attention.
"Really, all I want is just to forget. Ignore the world, at least for a short while. I've never been selfish before. And for once, I'd love to take what I want. Not do what everyone else needs."
Harry looked up at Sirius, wondering what the reaction would be. He wasn't sure how Sirius would interpret what he had said, or whether he'd push the issues they'd been skirting. To Harry's relief, Sirius gave the impression of understanding, at the very least acceptance. This was more than Harry needed.
He bit his lip, his eyes meeting Sirius'. Leaning forward to whisper into the man's ear, he asked, "Can you help me forget?" He allowed his lips to brush lightly over Sirius' ear.
- - -
Sirius closed his eyes at the feel of Harry's lips on his skin, soft and inviting. For a moment, he forgot where he was and who he was with. All he could think about was the feel of those lips brushing over his skin, bringing a pleasant heat to the surface. After a moment, Harry found Sirius' lips and pressed softly against his.
Sirius' breath caught in his throat as Harry pressed his mouth harder against his, creating that wonderful tingling sensation he remembered from his first kiss. The anticipation and excitement swirled in the pit of his stomach, effectively halting any chance of thinking about what he was doing. It just felt too good to quit. Reaching around Harry, he pulled the man closer to him wanting to feel the warmth of his body against his.
- - -
Harry's mind had been racing when he had leaned over to kiss Sirius. Now, it was delightfully blank. Instead of analyzing everything that had and would happen, he just let himself enjoy the moment.
Harry allowed himself to be pulled closer, loving the feeling of Sirius' strong body pressing into his. As he deepened the kiss, his tongue sliding over Sirius', a moan escaped his lips. He could feel himself growing hard against Sirius' thigh; and when he pushed lightly against the man's leg, the contact sent shivers up his spine.
He pulled away from Sirius, looking into his eyes, feral in the firelight. Harry hadn't had a chance to do anything before Sirius took charge and tugged at his shirt, quickly pulling it over his head and dropping it onto the floor. He watched Sirius do the same with his own shirt before leaning over and pushing Harry to the floor.
- - -
Sirius hastily tore at his trousers, wanting to free himself of them. He looked over to Harry, on the floor, catching the excitement in his face. Apparently he wasn't able to hide his feelings any longer. Sirius liked it better that way. He thrived off the emotion and feeling from his partner. If he couldn't sense it, see it, there'd be no pleasure in the moment.
Once his trousers were tossed aside, he dropped to his knees and started to tug off Harry's, never looking away from his face. He wanted to see everything that passed through those features. He wanted to know just how he made Harry feel. He smiled savagely before giving one last tug on Harry's trousers.
- - -
Harry watched, wide-eyed, as Sirius removed his clothes, desire showing clearly on his face. Moments later, Harry felt Sirius slide along his body, goose bumps forming wherever flesh touched flesh. Rough hands ran along his sides, coming together, sliding over his erection. Harry's breath hitched as Sirius followed the hands with his wet mouth.
Harry tried to keep his eyes on Sirius as he sucked and toyed with his cock, but he found the sensations too intense. His head remained tilted back as he moaned and called out to the man perched over him. Shiver after shiver ran through his body, causing Harry to arch his back and grab at Sirius' tousled hair. His muscles stiffening, his mind screaming, it was at that moment that Sirius chose to pull away and sever contact. Harry practically shouted in surprise, but didn't have a chance.
Almost immediately, Harry felt something cool press into his arse. He looked up at Sirius as he prepared him. The man looked wild, animalistic. It both scared and excited Harry, a mixture of emotion that worked fantastically to heighten his senses.
- - -
Sirius looked down at Harry's face as he removed his fingers; his eyes were wide with anticipation. Sirius couldn't hold back a grin as he started pressing into his opening, he loved what he was seeing on the man's face.
He started out gently, at first, careful not to hurt Harry. But when he remembered the request to "help him forget," Sirius forgot all about gentle and followed his instinct. He was certain that the man wouldn't be able to think of anything else but his cock pounding into his arse, Sirius knew he couldn't.
- - -
Harry let out a gasp as Sirius started rocking into him, the sudden feeling of the cock moving inside him taking him by surprise. It felt different somehow, even though he'd done this before. He couldn't put his finger on it, but it felt good; especially when Sirius pushed in at just the right angle. He couldn't hide anything when Sirius did that. At that point, he didn't even care.
The look in Sirius' eyes as he continued his assault on his arse was mesmerizing, dark and possessive. Harry couldn't help but stare as he reached down to touch himself, to stroke his own aching erection.
The combination of both Sirius' actions and his own quickly brought Harry to the point that Sirius had so cruelly left him before. His muscles tightening until they hurt and his body crying for release, Harry fisted his cock faster and faster until he felt himself let go in a moment of absolute abandon. He slowly relaxed, his breathing ragged. It didn't take long for Sirius to follow. The man shivered as he slowed, lost in his own climax.
- - -
Sirius pulled out and fell beside Harry, resting his head on his arm. He was worn out completely, ready to pass out. Instead, though, he opened his eyes and gazed over to Harry, who was already looking his way. Sirius smiled at the man, reaching over to brush the hair from his eyes. He really had grown. He had become a man, troubled - yes, but a strong one.
- - -
Harry smiled back at Sirius, content in the moment he held with him. Things didn't happen as he had planned, but they couldn't have gone better. When he had come to the house the day before, Harry had expected to find a burglar, or perhaps Bellatrix, come to claim the dwelling. What he had found instead was the one man he hadn't been able to get over, the one death he had never believed.
What Harry had found, when he was least expecting it, was the one thing he'd been lacking all along.
- - -
Sirius kept his gaze fixed as he slipped closer to sleep. Just a moment before he lost consciousness, he saw it, for the first time since coming home, since seeing Harry. He looked on as Harry's face shone with the emotions he couldn't hide, the wonder and excitement he'd been missing for so very long. That he'd miss no longer.