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The Hard Life by killthatrat
Chapter 40 : Chapter 40 Remembering James and Lily
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 22


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Sirius sat quietly at the foot of the third floor staircase at Grimmauld Place, taking a few minutes of peace in the dark hallway. He stared at the picture he had taken from Harry’s bedroom wall, watching as Harry smiled, the Christmas tree in the background glittering. His chest wall constricted tightly as he saw Harry’s resemblance to his father.

He pulled a second picture from his back pocket, studying James’ face. Harry had been sitting on his lap when James pulled a face at him, causing him to giggle. Sirius watched as Harry pushed his father’s face away, causing James to look up at the camera. The breath caught in Sirius’ throat as James smiled, before turning back to his son.

Despite the accusations of Molly, Sirius had always known that Harry was not his father. He knew that being close to Harry would not make him feel closer to James. He knew that Molly’s past accusations had only stemmed from her love of Harry, but this did not stop Sirius becoming defensive of her words.

Sirius sighed softly, throwing the two photos onto the stair beside him. He leaned against the banister and let his mind wander, something he had not allowed himself to do for a long time. His thoughts strayed to the last time he had seen Lily and James alive, a memory that he had tried to suppress for many years. 


The sun was just beginning to set as Sirius stepped onto the front veranda, his boots crunching on the leaves as he stepped on them. He set the plastic bags that he was holding onto the floor, raising his hand and knocking on the front door loudly. He thrust his hands into his pocket as he waited for someone to approach the door, and peered through an adjacent window.

Light shone through the window, gently illuminating the porch. He briefly saw Lily’s form flash past the window before he heard the locks clicking in the door. The door opened in a flash, and Lily glared at him from inside.

“You’re late.”

“I know,” Sirius replied as he picked up the bags, stepping inside. Lily looked at her wristwatch, worry etched clearly over her face.

“What could possibly have made you half an hour late?” she asked, taking the bags laden with groceries from his hands.

“Lost track of time,” he said, kissing her on the cheek.

Lily roller her eyes as she turned on the spot and entered the kitchen. “Probably fooling around with that girl,” she said. “What’s her name anyway?”

“Chelsea,” Sirius replied as he followed her into the kitchen. “And I wasn’t with her, I was with Pete.”

“Oh,” Lily replied, her curiosity aroused. “How is he? He hasn’t been around for about two weeks.”

“He seems alright,” Sirius replied as Lily began putting away the groceries that Sirius had brought for them. “Except he wasn’t himself today.”

“What was wrong?” Lily asked, stopping in her actions for a moment.

“He just didn’t seem himself today,” Sirius replied. “I don’t really think he was in the mood for visitors, to be honest.”

“Hmm,” Lily muttered under her breath. “Well I wish he’d try to visit a bit more often.”

Sirius said nothing, leaning against the counter as he mentally told himself not to worry about Peter. He remained silent for a few moments as Lily finished putting away the groceries.

“Thanks for the lollies,” Lily said. “We’re going to need them for Halloween tomorrow night.”

“That’s okay.”

“Hey.”

Sirius turned around, smiling widely as James entered the kitchen, carrying Harry on his hip.

“Hi,” Sirius replied. “What kind of mischief have you two been getting up to?”

“Bath time,” James replied with a smile, gesturing to Harry’s pajamas. Harry smiled gently as he realised Sirius was present, and reached out his arms for him. Sirius took hold of him, relieving James for a few moments.

“Heard from Pete lately?” James asked as he handed Sirius the Butterbeer that he took from the cupboard.

“Yeah, I was around there this afternoon,” Sirius replied as Harry leant against his chest, following James as they left the kitchen. “He didn’t really seem himself.”

James sighed gently as they entered the living room. He, just like his wife had been concerned for Peter for quite a few weeks.

“Do you know what was wrong?” James asked as he sat down, sipping his Butterbeer.

“He didn’t say. I don’t think he was really in the mood for visitors.”

“He hasn’t been around much lately.”

The two friends fell silent, sitting together in the comfortable silence. Sirius looked down at Harry, who leant comfortably against his chest. He, like everyone else was unusually quiet, as though he knew that not everything was how it should be.

“How you guys going?” Sirius asked. “Been cooped up here long enough?”

James groaned softly for a moment, frustration flashing across his face. “We’ve been in hiding for two months, you’d think we would be used to it by now.”

Sirius laughed softly, yet sympathetically as James continued. “Lily has been driving me nuts.”

Sirius laughed openly, glad that they were loosening up a little. “What has she been doing?”

“Cooking,” James muttered. “She’s been cooking, all week.”

“Well why does that drive you nuts? It’s not like she’s in your way if she’s cooking.”

“For crying out loud, Padfoot, there’s only so much coconut slice that I can eat!”

Sirius smiled, looking down at Harry, who had his eyes closed, his chest rising and falling gently. “Was any of it good?”

“Well, yeah,” James replied, he to noticing that his son appeared to be sleeping. “Although, I have to admit, those biscuits she made were rock hard.”

The two friends laughed openly as Lily called out to them from the kitchen.

“You know, I can hear you.” Shocked that she had heard them, they froze momentarily, trying unsuccessfully to withhold their laughter.

Sirius chuckled under his breath as he stood up, gently holding Harry close to his chest. “I should put him to bed.”

James nodded. “Sounds like I’m in trouble,” he replied with a cheeky smile.

“What’s the worst she can do?” Sirius replied as he headed towards the staircase.

“Withhold sex.”

“You see, that’s why I’m not married,” Sirius said over his shoulder as he began ascending the stairs, noticing that Harry had awoken, blinking his tired eyes. Sirius smiled and began rubbing his back, knowing that it often put him straight back to sleep.

He stepped inside the nursery, nudging aside a small toy with his foot. He stood next to the cot for a few moments, rubbing Harry’s back. He looked down, noticing Harry almost tentatively closing his eyes.

“Good night, Harry,” Sirius muttered softly, pressing a small kiss to the top of his head. He pulled back the sheets and set Harry down, relieved that he didn’t stir again. Tucking the sheets firmly around him, he thought back to the times when Harry was younger, when Sirius had been hesitant to hold him, afraid of hurting the tiny child.

He smiled as he watched Harry sleeping, his fists curled around the bed sheets. He stayed for a few moments, before stepping away from Harry’s crib, not knowing it would be the last time he saw him without a scar on his forehead. He did a quick search of the room to make sure that Lily’s cat hadn’t snuck in, before turning off the light. He cast Harry one last look before leaving, then shut the door gently.

He strolled back down the stairs and entered the living room, noting that Lily was present.

“So when do you two plan on popping out another kid?” he asked with a smile, flopping down on the couch next to James.

“I don’t think the term, ‘popping out’ is an accurate description of childbirth,” Lily said. “It wasn’t that simple.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Sirius replied, brushing off her comment. “But when’s the next kid coming?”

“Not any time soon,” James replied stiffly. “So don’t get your hopes up.”

“That’s not fun,” Sirius replied, taking a mouthful of Butterbeer.

“Neither is child birth,” Lily added, as they laughed.

Sirius downed the last of his Butterbeer, then stood up. “I really ought to be going, I was really just stopping by to drop of the groceries for you.”

“Oh,” James said with a smile. “Hot date tonight?”

“No, I’m popping in on Remus, I haven’t heard from him lately either.”

James stood up as Sirius leant down and kissed Lily on the cheek, saying a quick goodbye.

“I’ll be in tomorrow if I can get off work early enough,” Sirius said as he and James walked onto the front veranda. “If not I’ll come around the day after.”

“Sounds good,” James said. “Come early enough and we’ll cook breakfast.”

Sirius smiled and nodded, a gesture which passed as an embrace after so many years of friendship.

“We miss you at full moon,” Sirius said over his shoulder as he walked towards his motorbike, a strong breeze coming out of nowhere.

“I bet you do,” James replied offhandedly, watching as his friend prepared to leave. He suddenly found it harder to breath, reluctant to let his friend leave after such a short visit.

Sirius slung his leg over his motorbike, adjusting his position as he prepared to put on his helmet.

“Sirius, wait,” James called out.

Sirius frowned as James quickly looked around, making sure Lily wasn’t watching, knowing that she worried immensely when he went too far outside. He stepped from the porch and quickly approached Sirius on the bike, the breeze rustling the trees around them.

“What is it?” Sirius asked, concerned as he saw James’ face. Sirius could tell immediately that something other than the obvious was bothering him. James said nothing for a moment, looking at the grass he was standing on.

“Thank you,” James said. “You’ve always been a great friend.”

“Don’t,” Sirius replied, almost angrily. “Don’t say your good-byes. You three are going to be fine.”

James nodded, looking at the ground again as he stuck his hands into his pockets. They said nothing for a few moments, stuck in an awkward silence as they each waited for the other to speak.

“I lied,” James said softly, breaking the silence.

“About what?” Sirius asked, seeing the pain on his friends face.

“About when we’re having another baby.” He looked up at Sirius as he continued. “Lily’s already pregnant.”

Sirius’ mouth dropped open, sudden joy filling him up. “That’s great!” he replied enthusiastically.

“No, Sirius,” James replied emphatically. “It’s not.”

“But, you two have always said you wanted more children,” replied Sirius, shocked at James’ reaction.

“Yeah, but not like this! This isn’t the type of world that I wanted to raise my children in.”

Sirius said nothing, silently agreeing with him.

“It’s just a shock, that’s all,” James said softly, running his fingers through his hair. “I always just assumed Lily wouldn’t fall pregnant again, until after the war was over.”

Sirius again stayed silent, nodding his head with understanding. He wished he could think of something inspiring or heart warming to say, but that was usually done by Dumbledore.

“Well,” Sirius said gently, not really sure what he was going to say next. “It happened, and now you just have to deal with it. That’s all you can do.”

James nodded, folding his arms. “Thank you, I just needed to get that off my chest. Lily doesn’t seem to understand.”

Sirius nodded, and they fell into silence for a few moments.

“I should go back inside,” James said softly. “Before Lily has my head for being out here.”

Sirius smiled, and stood up from his bike. “It’ll be okay,” he said as he pulled James into a brief one armed hug.

“Make sure Remus and Pete are okay for me.”

“Sure,” Sirius nodded, knowing that James too was worried about them.

James nodded as they parted, raising his hand in a brief wave before heading back inside to his family. Sirius sat motionless for a moment, deep in thought. He soon shook himself back to reality, putting on his helmet and starting the engine, having no idea that it was the last time he would see James. 


Sirius buried his head in his hands, thinking of the secret that he had been carrying around for sixteen years. He was the only one James had told about Lily’s pregnancy, and he had not told anyone since. It seemed pointless, drudging up old secrets that would only cause pain.

Sighing softly he looked at the pictures on the floor beside him, before stuffing them into his pocket again. He stood up from his place on the staircase, and ascended, knowing exactly where he was going. He had surprised himself with the amount of self-control that he had been exercising throughout the past week, but the thought that Harry was most likely dead by now had pushed him over the edge.

It didn’t take him long to enter the basement kitchen where Molly was pottering around, preparing a large dinner for the many people staying at Grimmauld Place. He barely acknowledged her presence as he entered the dark pantry. He stared at the shelves for a moment, trying to remember which it was.

He pushed a few items to the side, and pressed firmly against the back of the pantry, feeling the wall begin to vanish. He smiled with grim satisfaction as the wall disappeared completely, before reaching in and taking what he wanted.

The two bottles of elf-made wine clinked together ominously as he withdrew them from the secret compartment, watching as the wall began to reappear. His mother had been known to drink heavily at times, and had been unaware that her eldest son knew where she hid her alcohol.

He exited the pantry, not bothering to hide the bottles from Molly, who made her disapproval obvious as he walked by her. He walked quickly up the steps, knowing exactly what he wanted to do. He saw Remus ahead of him in the hallway, who immediately saw what Sirius was planning to do.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Remus said angrily, grabbing Sirius’ shoulder as he tried to walk by. “What have you got that for?”

Sirius said nothing, looking down the hallway past Remus.

“I think it’s time,” Sirius replied firmly, still not looking at his friend. “That I do some serious drinking.”

Remus said nothing as Sirius pushed past him and continued down hallway. He reached the end and opened the heavy wooden door, stepping out onto the somewhat derelict back porch. He faltered for a moment, having not been on the back porch for many years. Smiling despite himself he sat down on one of the weathered chairs, placing one of the bottles on the table in front of him.

The dying sun cast an orange glow over the backyard as Sirius wrestled with the cork in the bottle, not bothering to use his wand. He pulled it out with a loud ‘pop,’ and immediately took a large mouthful.

He immediately pulled a face, the taste being stronger than he had expected. He swallowed, then sat back in the wooden chair, placing the bottle between his knees. He knew that getting drunk wouldn’t fix his problems, but would at least put them on hold.

The back door opened with a loud creak, and Sirius looked up, expecting a long lecture the moment he saw it was Remus. However, he smiled, seeing that Remus himself was carrying two bottles of wine. His expression blank, Remus sat down in the weathered chair next to him, slapping the newspaper he had also been holding down on the table.

“What kind of friend would I be,” Remus began. “If I let you get drunk by yourself?”

Sirius said nothing for a moment, before smiling again. He chuckled to himself softly and took another mouthful. Remus removed the cork from his own bottle and raised it to his lips.

“Wait,” he said. “What should we toast to?”

Sirius faltered, the unexpected question throwing him off track. He frowned for a moment, before swallowing his mouthful of wine.

“Nothing,” he replied somberly. “Nothing at all.”



A/N 

Okay a few things to say here.
I'm sorry Lily was pregnant when she died! Please don't throw tomatoes! By the way, I just want to clarify that James wasn't angry that Lily was pregnant, he just didn't want another child born when the wizarding world was in such chaos, and when they were in so much danger. ;)

This is really the first chapter where we see the relationship bwetween James and Sirius. Many authors have presented them as a humourous constantly joking pair, which to be honest is quite entertaining. I've gone for a different approach, so I hope it's worked well!

This chapter has not been edited by my beta yet, so please feel free to point out spelling mistakes, sentences that don't make sense etc.

Thank you for reading, and please leave a review!

killthatrat



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