I love your fics so much, thank you for keeping this ship alive! I really appreciate your hard work and I love your characterisations for James and Sirius. There's no pressure to write this if you're busy, but a deathly hallows fic would be cool. Sirius survived the battle at the Ministry. Voldemort brought James and Regulus back (to use them as bait or to torture them, any reason is fine) but Peter has been guarding them? Mainly Sirius' reaction to them being alive? Probably angst then fluff :)
Naturally, Sirius’s first reaction was to kill him. Considering how many years he’d been thinking about murdering Pettigrew, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that that was his first reaction. And then he had some time to think about it, and that initial reaction didn’t go away.
Unsurprisingly, Harry was the one holding him back. Rather, Harry was in his way, and Sirius wasn’t going to risk hurting him. “Sirius, don’t,” Harry said as he slid in front of him, facing Pettigrew. It was a good thing there was no one else in this building, otherwise they’d be incredibly suspicious of what was happening between all of them.
“Move,” Sirius said tensely.
“No. What are you doing here?” he asked Pettigrew.
“I- I-” Pettigrew swallowed thickly, looking as nervous as ever.
He was saved from having to continue when a head peeked around him. “Oh good,” he said flatly. “Another Potter. That’s what the world needed more of.”
“Regulus?” Sirius said numbly.
Harry glanced back at him, looking as bewildered as Sirius felt. “Regulus as in your brother?”
“That would be me,” Regulus confirmed, stepping half out from behind Pettigrew. He was then pushed further to the side so an extremely familiar figure could reveal himself with a wide grin.
“Sorry Wormtail,” James said, not sounding very sorry at all, “but you were taking too long. Dark magic, Voldemort’s got some strange ideas, and a nice heaping of something I’m going to call divine intervention. Like, seriously, if he knew he could resurrect people, wouldn’t he have picked people that supported him?”
“He never was very smart on the small scale,” Regulus said.
Sirius felt like his legs were going to give out. “What the hell is going on?”
James blinked at him. “Didn’t I just say? Voldemort resurrected us. Still iffy on the why of it, but-”
“Aside from Dumbledore, he considers Harry and Sirius the biggest threat to his power,” Pettigrew interrupted quietly. “With Dumbledore gone, he wanted to get rid of them next. He figured he could lure them into an ambush with the two of you as bait and then there would be no one to oppose him.”
“And we’re supposed to believe that you suddenly had a change of heart?” Harry asked.
“I’m not asking for anyone to trust me.”
“Then what are you wanting in exchange for getting them out?” Sirius asked, because there was no way he was bringing them here purely out of the goodness of his heart– not after he’d cared for Voldemort in Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts and helped him get back to his full strength.
“Someplace to hide,” he answered immediately.
“You should-” Harry started to say, but he cut himself off before he could finish. He’d probably been about to say that if Pettigrew wanted protection, he should go to Dumbledore for it, not them. Harry was having a hard time dealing with it. Despite having more misadventures in school and having to deal with so many issues by himself, he’d still looked to Dumbledore as the wizard with all the answers– the one that could save them, just as he’d saved the Wizarding World from Grindelwald all those years ago.
Sirius knew the feeling. Even for all the mistakes Dumbledore had made, he’d been a hell of a lot better at managing the situation than anyone else. Sirius put a hand on Harry’s shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze. “There’s an old Black property you can stay at. Warded to hell and back, if you want to stay there, but after that you’re on your own.” It wasn’t as good as Grimmauld Place had been, but that location was compromised, what with Snape and everything. The entire situation with Snape didn’t sit right with him, but he didn’t have the time to think about it now, and he hadn’t had the time for weeks, and probably wouldn’t have time for a while longer. Figuring out what was going on in Snape’s head wasn’t exactly a high priority for him.
Pettigrew nodded vigorously. He’d probably hole up there and not leave for a decade, or until he heard news that the war was over.
Sirius glanced at James, eyes lingering, then Regulus. What was he supposed to do about this? The obvious answer is that they’d stay with him and everyone else at the Black Manor– Merlin knew it had the space to fit everyone– but he should make sure it was them, right? Only he had no idea how to do that. It was supposed to be a rule of magic that no one could be resurrected. With a lot of heavy spellwork, people could be charmed to look like them, but voices were hard to pin down. There was a piece of a person’s essence in their voice, which is why polyjuice was so time consuming to brew.
But their voices had been perfect. Maybe that was authentication enough. “Safe to say neither of you have grand plans?” Sirius asked, a touch flatly.
“Nope,” James said cheerfully. “Open schedule. I’ll be back to kicking arse as soon as I get a wand again.”
“…You don’t have a wand?” Sirius asked. It shouldn’t surprise him, but it did. Mostly he was worried at how vulnerable they were without wands.
“I wasn’t exactly brought back to life with all my possessions intact.”
Sirius glanced at Regulus, wondering if he was going to answer, but he looked to the side shiftily. He did have things he wanted to do, but he wasn’t going to say it. Sirius was going to choose to believe that that wasn’t about him, but about Pettigrew’s presence. He made a mental note to ask Regulus about it when they had a moment alone together. “We’ll see about getting you wands tomorrow.” He’d do it tonight if it wasn’t so late, but buying a new wand wasn’t exactly a two minute endeavor. “C'mon, we’ll drop Pettigrew off and then go get some sleep.”
“That’s it?” Regulus asked. “You’re accepting that it’s us just like that?”
“I’ve got my reasons, Reggie,” Sirius said, just because he knew Regulus hated that nickname.
Sure enough, there was a familiar twist to his mouth, but it eased when he caught the smile on Sirius’s. Then he rolled his eyes with his usual long suffering sigh. It was strange that it had been so long since he’d been alive, and even longer since they were on good terms with each other, but this was as familiar as breathing.
Sirius winked at James, who stifled a laugh. “Let’s go.”
Pettigrew thanked him for the place to stay, and Sirius pretended like he still didn’t want him dead. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the luxury of murdering someone right now, and he would settle for never seeing him again– a courtesy extended because he had brought James and Regulus back; if Lily had been with them, Sirius might have considered actually forgiving him, but Pettigrew only operated out of fear, and Sirius would never be able to trust him.
The handful of other people staying in the Manor were already in bed, so Sirius was saved from having to explain the situation.
Regulus stood awkwardly in the corner, not sure what to make of being here with people he barely knew in a place he’d only visited during holidays as a child before their father succumbed entirely to paranoia and moved them to Grimmauld Place permanently.
James had some getting-to-know-you conversation with Harry before the kid got so tired that Sirius sent him to bed, and then James barreled into him, hugging him so tight it hurt. Regulus ambled off to his old room without saying goodbye, only making eye contact for a couple awkward seconds with Sirius before he left; they hadn’t said anything to each other, and they’d probably make it through most of tomorrow morning without breaking that silence.
“Merlin, Sirius, I missed you so much,” he whispered.
“Were you- were you aware of time passing?” It was a horrifying thought, that he might’ve been in limbo for that long.
“No, I meant- erm, y'know, me and Lily were in hiding, so I hadn’t seen you for months.” James pulled back a little, letting his arms drop to the side. “I imagine you’ve had it a hell of a lot worse, though. I mean, it’s been… what, fifteen years?”
“Something like that,” Sirius said, even though he knew it to the day. Moony said that he was obsessed, but he disagreed. He’d spent so long in Azkaban, letting the days meld together into a massive, horrible blur. Keeping track of how much of his life he’d lived without James was just a way of keeping tabs on that lost time.
“What’ve you been up to? I want to hear everything I missed.”
“Not much to tell,” Sirius hedged, knowing as he said it that it wouldn’t be enough to deter him.
“I missed fifteen years and you expect me to believe that there isn’t much to tell? If you don’t want to talk about yourself, then how about Harry as a kid? It seems like he’s turned out pretty great.”
No one had told him. That made sense. After all, who would’ve mentioned it? Pettigrew wasn’t about to explain everything, and presumably, the only other person he’d talked to was Regulus, who was similarly ignorant of what had happened. “James…”
“What?” he asked, frowning.
“I didn’t raise Harry.”
“What are you talking about? You’re his godfather, of course you raised him.”
Sirius sighed, walking over to the couch and collapsing onto it. “Did Pettigrew tell you why he was in a position to save you tonight?”
James opened his mouth, then closed it again. “No,” he said quietly. He sat on the couch next to Sirius, close enough that he wouldn’t have to shift his weight very much to make contact. “I assumed he was undercover or summat, but I’m guessing you’re going to tell me that’s wrong.”
“Mate, he was your secret keeper in the first war. He betrayed you to Voldemort.”
James didn’t say anything, looking like that hadn’t occurred to him before.
“I went after him because of it, wanting revenge. When I finally found him, he blew up the street. Cut off his finger and transformed so he could run. I got blamed for the deaths and went to Azkaban.”
“What?” James breathed, aghast.
Sirius ignored that and rubbed his palms together just to give him something to do with his hands. “I escaped a couple years ago. Got my name cleared of the crime last month. There’s… there’s really not much to tell. I haven’t done anything except been on the run and tried to help Harry when I could. Not that he needed it. He’s a bright kid.” He paused, letting that sink in. The Azkaban thing, not that Harry was smart– the latter didn’t require time to get used to. Then, “How long were you and Regulus back for?”
“I dunno, maybe a week? We talked a lot, got to know each other a little. He’s pretty funny when he wants to be. You were really in Azkaban?”
“Is that really so hard to believe?”
“Yes. Where the hell was Moony?”
“Imagine, for a moment, a werewolf trying to force the Ministry into letting go a suspected member of the Death Eaters.”
“How could anyone think you were a Death Eater?”
“The name Black carries a lot of baggage, mate. You know that.”
James’s expression made it clear that he did know that, and he thought it was shite; personally, Sirius agreed, but he didn’t see the point in saying so aloud. James didn’t push it. Whether it was because he didn’t want to think about it or he knew that Sirius didn’t want to talk about it, he left it alone, and Sirius was grateful. “Can I stay with you tonight?”
“Yeah, of course.”
The first thing James did when the door to the bedroom closed was kiss Sirius. The second thing he did, immediately after, was go rifling through the clothes so he could change into something of Sirius’s. Even when he’d had his own wardrobe, he’d still often chosen to wear Sirius’s things. He’d always said that they were more comfortable, but Sirius had known it was because James liked the way he smelled. Even now, with perfectly legitimate reasons to need to change and specifically to wear Sirius’s things, Sirius would be willing to bet that James’s motivation remained unchanged.
For his part, Sirius was stood, frozen by the door, a hand brought up to his mouth, because James had kissed him so easily, like a good night peck to remind Sirius that he loved him, and it wasn’t something that Sirius had felt in over a decade. He was as mind-numbingly in love with James today as he had been yesterday and the last time that he’d seen him alive. James had taken his feelings as a given, and he’d been right.
Sirius was the first one in the house up, trying to figure out the logistics of getting two people wands without letting anyone see their faces. A few cosmetic spells to change distinctive features would be the best option, but a lot of places had protections in place so that people couldn’t do that now. A safety precaution for them, but a minor one. Mostly, it was an annoyance since it prevented Sirius from doing things the easy way, and it didn’t do much to stop the wizards that wanted to hurt people. Polyjuice wasn’t so easily circumvented, but they didn’t have very much of that and Sirius would prefer to save it for an emergency– not to mention part of it was already being saved for Bill and Fleur’s wedding so that Harry could attend. It’s not like he could just decide to brew more with everything else going on.
He was still trying to figure it out when Regulus walked into the room. Without a good morning or a nod hello, he said, “Do you know what a horcrux is?”
Sirius had rather forgotten how blunt his brother could be, as well as how light his footsteps were. He jerked so hard in surprise that he knocked over his cup and spilt tea all over the table. “Why do you know what a horcrux is?”
“The Dark Lord has at least one. Possibly more. We’re never going to survive this if-”
“It was you,” Sirius said, realising it all at once. Harry had told him about the locket and the cave he’d gone to with Dumbledore, and he’d said that there was a note inside, but he hadn’t shown it to Sirius; he’d only summarised what it said. “You died stealing Slytherin’s locket.”
Regulus blinked at him, not betraying the shock he was surely feeling. “Yes.”
“Where is it? Or did you manage to destroy it?”
A pause, then he shook his head. “I left it with Kreacher. I don’t know if he was ever successful.”
“You would’ve left it with him,” Sirius said grumpily.
“You should be more kind to him.”
“He believed in all our parents’ blood purist rubbish, and you want me to be nice to him?”
“You were always cruel.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “After I get you a wand, will you go over to Grimmauld Place and see if he still has it?”
“Why don’t you do it?”
“Because he bloody hates me, and I hate him. I’ll go with you if you care so buggering much, but he won’t tell me shite if I go there alone.”
Regulus stared at him for a moment, then repeated, quietly, “I still think you could’ve been nicer to him.”
“For fuck’s sake, is this really an argument you want to have with me?” Sirius asked. “Consider, for a moment, what you used to believe and think if I’ll ever be willing to concede to you about something, even if you’re right.”
Regulus continued to look at him. He’d always done that: stared silently and waited. Sometimes, even when their parents had asked him a direct question, he’d stayed quiet.
Not so suddenly, but rather as part of a growing emotion that had been building from the first moment he saw his brother alive and well again, he felt like dirt. What was he supposed to do about it? The answer was, obviously, change how he was acting. But he didn’t know how else to act. Even having James back wasn’t enough to fix everything. It made Sirius feel a hell of a lot better, no doubt, but it didn’t actually help him know what to do. Creepy as it was to think, James was basically a kid. It’s not like James would have all the answers he needed for how to win this, how to save Harry from any further harm, or how to help everyone that needed it.
“Your last wand was ash, right?” Sirius asked.
“I’ll try and get you something similar.”
“You’re not taking me with you?”
“It wouldn’t be safe. James is going to stay here too,” he added, thinking that that might make Regulus feel better. After all, this time, it wasn’t personal. Sirius wasn’t going to take anyone with him when he left today because the risk would be too great. For that matter, the sooner he got it done, the better. He cleaned up his mess and headed for the door. “I’ll be back soon.”
“You’re leaving now?”
Sirius paused and turned back to face him. “The sooner you have a wand, the safer you’ll be. I’ll only be a minute.”
Regulus didn’t say anything. He just stared.
“What?” Sirius prodded.
“Nothing,” Regulus said immediately, but that was clearly a lie.
Sirius waited for him to change his mind, but he didn’t. “Fine.”
“Are you alright?” James asked when they were alone again. Not alone by happenstance, but because Sirius had gone to the loo, and James, with his usual disregard for normal societal boundaries, had followed him. At least he had waited until Sirius was done to talk.
If it was anyone else, Sirius would say that of course he was alright. But this was James, and James would know in a flat second if he was lying. “It’s wartime, mate. No one’s alright.”
“Why do you keep doing that?”
“Calling me mate.”
“Because you are?”
“Yeah, but it’s just us here. We don’t need to hide our relationship from anyone.”
Sirius chewed on the inside of his cheek, trying to think of how he should phrase what was on his mind.
“Is this about Lily?” James asked, because he could understand how that would complicate matters, especially with Harry around.
“No. It’s- it’s about you.”
James swallowed thickly and tried to keep a brave face. “If you don’t love me anymore, you can-”
“Don’t be stupid,” Sirius cut in, “of course I still love you.”
“Then what’s wrong?”
“You’re… for Merlin’s sake, James, you’re practically a kid. You’re only a couple years older than Harry now.”
“Okay,” James said slowly. “Does this bother you or are you worried because you think it should bother you?”
Sirius opened his mouth to say that yes, it did bother him, then he paused. “I- well, I don’t know. I’ve been too busy for introspection.”
“Either make the time or let it go. It’s just me, Sirius. We’ve always got each other; we always will.”
“You say ‘always’ a lot for a bloke that was dead a month ago.”
“If me being dead for ages didn’t change how you felt, I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
Sirius chuckled. It was such a James thing to say that he couldn’t help himself. “Fine. If it makes anyone think I’m being a pedo though, you have to explain it to them.”
“I will. Happily. They’ll have to sit there while I talk about you. Do you know how long it’s been since people couldn’t leave while I do that?”
“I’d imagine it’s been a while.”
“And you’d be right. Lily said that if I did it one more time, she was going to make me cook every night instead of switching.”
“I thought you liked cooking,” Sirius said. That’s what James had always told him when Sirius said that he didn’t have to cook him breakfast.
“I do, but not every single night for someone that’s such a bloody picky eater. Not blaming Lily, but she had a whole list of things she couldn’t eat. You would eat anything and everything I put in front of you and say it was delicious.”
“It was delicious.”
“And that’s one of the many reasons I keep you around,” James said with a grin.
“Reg, Regulus, buddy,” James said, putting an arm around his shoulders and steering him away. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Don’t think what’s a good idea?” Regulus asked, frowning.
“You and Harry.”
“Me and Harry what?”
“Okay?” he said slowly, clearly confused about where James was getting that from. It’s not like he was attracted to Harry, and Harry certainly wasn’t attracted to him either. “I’ll keep that in mind, but you know that you’re only sort of his father, right?”
“Excuse you, I’m definitely his father.”
“A father that’s the same age as an older brother,” Regulus said.
“True as that might be, it doesn’t change what I think of the two of you.”
“There’s nothing there to be thinking about, but okay.” Regulus slipped out from under his arm and quickly left the room.
James huffed and stomped over to the study, where Sirius was trying to figure out the logistics of how many people could reasonably fit inside the Manor. James had offered to help, but Sirius threw him out– with a laugh– when James had sat on his lap and kept distracting him with kisses and invitations for more fun things they could be doing. “Your brother is being irresponsible,” he said as he barged in.
“Yeah, he does that. I thought you knew. Or did the horcrux hunt not clue you in?”
“I think he fancies Harry,” James said, hoping to get Sirius on his side.
Maybe Sirius wasn’t on his side; there had to be a first time for everything, he supposed.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about, love.”
“You think Regulus doesn’t fancy him?”
“I think that whether or not Regulus fancies Harry is immaterial because he’ll never act on it, and if Harry is the one to initiate some sort of relationship, then it’ll hardly be Regulus’s fault if it all goes to shite.”
James blinked once, twice, then said, “I don’t think I like your parenting method here.”
“Oh, you’re right, I should go meddle in both of their love lives. That’ll get them to like me.” Sirius stretched his arms over his head and James considered abandoning his protection of Harry to give sitting in Sirius’s lap another try. “So long as they aren’t trying to hurt each other, I’m staying out of it.”
“That doesn’t sound like the meddling Sirius Black that I fell in love with.”
“Tragically, I grew up,” Sirius said, throwing a smirk in his direction.
James was weak, so he walked over and leaned against the desk, facing Sirius. “Tragic, indeed. I mean, look at you. You went and got horribly handsome while I still look like a kid. So unfair.”
“Life’s not fair,” Sirius said, leaning forward and putting an arm around James’s hips to pull him closer.
“I can see you’re very upset about that on my behalf,” James said flatly.
“Are you going to do anything to cheer me up?”
“The fact that I haven’t kicked you out again should let you know the answer to that,” Sirius said, pulling James’s shirt up enough that he could kiss at his newly bared skin.
James sniffled, rubbing at his face with a sleeve to get rid of the tears before they could fall down his cheeks and make them itch.
“James?” Harry asked, since calling him 'Dad’ had felt weird to both of them.
James glanced over at him, then rubbed harder at his face. “Hey. What’s up?”
“Are you okay?” Harry asked. He pulled up a chair next to him.
“Yeah, just- y'know. Thinking about Lily. She would’ve loved all this,” he said, giving a wave to encompass the room, the house, and everyone in it. “She always thought it was stupid that we split up. She always wanted a big family… friends around all the time.”
Harry was quiet for a long moment. When he spoke again, it wasn’t what James expected. “After being told about you and Sirius, I always wondered if you ever loved her. But you did, didn’t you?”
James nodded. “It wasn’t simple, and if she was here now, I’m sure things would be very different, but I do love her.”
“Ah,” he said, then he shifted his weight awkwardly, unsure what to do with himself. “Do you want me to leave you alone?”
“Nah, you’re fine, Haz. On the topic of love, has anyone caught your eye?” James gave another wipe at his eyes since he wasn’t crying anymore but still had some stray tears that had leaked free while he was talking to Harry. “Now that you’re not, y'know, running from people that want you dead.”
Harry grinned at him. “If there was, I wouldn’t tell you,” he said, jokingly giving his shoulder a shove.
“Oh, I see how it is. Pick on your old man.”
“Yeah, you’re so, so old, at the ripe age difference of four years.”
“That’s right. Respect your elders, you young whipper snapper.”
James shifted so that his ear was pressed over Sirius’s heart. His head rose and fell with every breath Sirius took. He’d been back for a year now, and he still wasn’t tired of this. He acted casually when his death was mentioned, but every morning he got to wake up next to Sirius was a miracle. A miracle he never tired of.
Moony joked that he was clingy, and Regulus said that he was so over-the-top in love with Sirius because they were practically the same person so it was little more than an exercise in narcissism. James didn’t care what anybody else said, because getting this for a year had been more than he thought he’d ever get. Getting it for the rest of his life? Definitely a miracle.
He knew the minute that Sirius woke because his breathing changed, and a few seconds later, Sirius’s fingers threaded through his hair. “You awake?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah.” Nothing noteworthy. He didn’t even remember it. All he knew was that it had scared him awake, and the only thing that could calm him down was wrapping himself around Sirius. It was a solution he hardly minded.
“You want to talk about it?” Sirius offered.
“No. I don’t remember what it was. I just couldn’t get back to sleep.”
“Okay,” Sirius said, and then they laid there for a long time in comfortable silence, the only sound the ticking of the clock.