Sirius rolled over in his too-short-for-his-long-frame bed and looked across the room at his Godson resting in the bed opposite of him. He paused to listen to Harry's breathing. It wasn't soft and regular nor was he snoring, which could only mean one thing.
"Harry," whispered Sirius.
"Harry, I know you're awake," said Sirius as he propped himself up on his elbows. Again, there was no answer. "Don't make me get the warm water Potter."
Harry sighed heavily and rolled over to face his Godfather.
"How'd you know I was awake?"
Sirius pulled himself out of bed, cursing as his feet touched the cold floor. He walked over and sat next to Harry on the bed, leaning back against the footboard.
"A hunch I guess," said Sirius, smiling but concerned. "And the fact that you seem to fall asleep everywhere but in your own bed, anytime but at night."
"That obvious?" asked Harry as he reached over and grabbed his glasses. He placed them on his nose and looked into his Godfather's concerned face.
"You know, I am your Godfather for a reason," said Sirius. "You could have told me you've been having trouble sleeping."
"What would you have done if I had told you?"
Sirius was a little hurt at this question. What would he have done? A joke or two and a few comforting words are not known to put someone into a restful sleep. But sleepless nights were no stranger to him. Even though he was no longer in Azkaban, Azkaban was still in him, in his mind. He had his way to escape from the dreams though. This option, however, was not available to Harry.
'Not yet at least,' thought Sirius.
"Just give me a few days," said Sirius as he gripped Harry shoulder affectionately. "I have an idea."
Harry eyed Sirius suspiciously as he always did when his Godfather had an idea.
"This idea doesn't involve anymore beans, does it?" asked Harry.
Sirius smiled as he shook his head.
"Do you want to talk about anything?" asked Sirius, his expression changing back to concern. "Are they bad nightmares?"
Harry debated for a moment on whether to tell Sirius the truth. He didn't want to burden him with all his problems, but getting everything off his chest would be nice. Besides, who else was he going to tell? Snape?
"They're pretty bad," said Harry finally answering Sirius' question. "I'm afraid to fall asleep; because of what I know I'll see."
"What do you see?" asked Sirius gently, not wanting to push Harry too hard to share his problems. Harry brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. He rested his chin on his knees and sighed heavily. "It's okay, Harry. We don't have to talk about it. Remember, that when you do, I'll be here to listen."
Harry brought his head up off his knees and stared at his Godfather for a moment. Finally, he nodded. Sirius smiled warmly one more time before starting to get up from Harry's bed. Harry reached up and grabbed Sirius' forearm. Sirius' look back down at Harry.
"Could you. . . wait. . . never mind. . . just forget about it," said Harry as he let go of his Godfather's arm. Sirius sat back down on the bed.
"What Harry?" asked Sirius. "What were you going to say?"
"I. . . well, could you stay with me, I mean, in this bed?" Harry sounded a little embarrassed to ask. "I just. . . I don't want to be by myself when I wake up."
Sirius could tell it took Harry a lot of courage to ask that of him. The boy had been so deprived of love and comfort, he obviously wasn't used to asking such things.
"You don't kick in your sleep, do you?" asked Sirius, causing Harry to smile and shake his head. Sirius playfully pushed Harry on the shoulder, knocking him over onto the other side of the bed. Sirius pulled the extra blanket resting at the foot of the bed over top of him and lay down next to his Godson.
"Goodnight Harry," said Sirius as he rolled onto his side and looked at Harry. Already, Harry had his eyes closed. Sirius thought that he had fallen asleep already and rolled back onto his back.
"Goodnight dog breath."
Sirius snorted at Harry's sleepy sounding joke. Harry laughed but was interrupted by a yawn. Sirius lay awake for a while, until he could hear Harry's breathe even out. He rolled back over to see his godson fast sleep at his side. He looked peaceful, enjoying a dreamless sleep at the moment. Sirius reached over and removed Harry's glasses from his nose and set them on the bedside table. He rolled back over facing Harry. He reached over and brushed a few locks of Harry's untidy hair out of his face, which promptly fell back where they were. Sirius smiled and closed his eyes. His thoughts ceased as he slipped into a rare dreamless sleep. His last thoughts were of how he needed Harry as much as Harry needed him.
Severus walked down the stairs as the morning sun began to leak through the small cottage windows. He was met by an empty living room and kitchen. Odd, he thought, since Harry and Black were usually the first up every morning. He knew why. Both had trouble sleeping, Sirius for obvious reasons. Severus had spent his own time in Azkaban. The horrible visions lasted for a few months. Twelve years in that hellhole, though?
'No wonder he's demented,' thought Severus as he busied himself with making a cup of tea. He turned around quickly as he heard the tapping of glass behind him. A huge brown barn owl was outside with a letter. Severus let him fly in, drop the letter, and fly out. Severus walked over and picked up the letter. On the envelope, it said: "Snuffles: Urgent." It was from Dumbledore.
"Snuffles?" asked Severus aloud to the empty kitchen. "Must be Black."
Severus set the tea things on the table and walked out of the kitchen. He pulled his wand from his pocket. If he had to wake Black up, he was going to at least have a little fun with it. He walked up the stairs and down to the last room on the left. Walking quietly over to the bed on the right side of the room, Severus began to mutter a spell but stopped when he discovered the bed empty. He turned around and saw that the convicted criminal was behind him, sleeping in his godson's bed. Sirius was sitting with his back against the wall and his long legs hanging over the side of the bed. Harry's head was resting on his lap. One of the boy's hands was gripping the material of the knee of Sirius' blue flannel pajama pants.
"Black," hissed Severus quietly. "Wake up."
He reached over and prodded Sirius with the tip of his wand.
"Huh. . . wha?" Sirius fully opened his eyes. "Oh, it's you. What do you want?"
"You have an urgent letter from Dumbledore downstairs," said Severus. "Why are you in Potter's bed?"
"He had a nightmare," said Sirius has he rested his hand on the side of Harry's neck. "A bad one."
Severus stared at the two for a moment before leaving the room. Sirius watched the Potions Master leave before moving to get up. He gently lifted Harry's head and moved himself out from under the boy, replacing his lap with a pillow. He untangled Harry's fingers from the material of his pants and stood up. He walked over to his own bed and quickly got dressed. Like Severus, Sirius had been wearing muggle clothes all summer long. If he were ever seen in his human form, at least he wouldn't draw unwanted attention in his wizard robes. Sirius walked back over to Harry's bed and tucked the blankets around him a little more securely. He lingered for a few moments before turning and walking out the door.
Sirius made his way into the kitchen and sat at the kitchen table across from Severus. He picked up the letter and opened it.
I hope I find you well. This letter is urgent and I hope you get it time. I have been corresponding with Remus for a while now, but over the last week, my letters have stopped reaching him and they are coming back to me. I know he, as well as I, has been interviewed in regards to Harry's "disappearance." It would be suspicious for me to visit him, as it would be if he came here. I need you to come here to Hogwarts where we can discuss possible actions and solutions. The letter is a portkey. It will take you directly to my office at exactly 8:00 A.M. I hope to see you then.
Sirius looked up over the edge of the letter and saw that Severus was looking at him.
"What is so urgent?" asked Severus.
"I'm not quite sure," said Sirius. He wasn't to keen on talking to Snape about Dumbledore's message, but he honestly didn't know what was going on. "I'm portkeying there to find out."
"What time are you leaving?" asked Severus with a raised eyebrow.
"At abou-," Sirius was cut off with a small pop and he was gone.
"Well, I guess that answers my question," said Severus to a now empty kitchen.
Dumbledore was startled slightly when he heard a small pop. He looked up from his work and into the face of Sirius Black.
"Hello Mr. Black. I am very glad that you got that letter on time. I was afraid that the owl would be portkeyed to my office. That would make for a very strange situation."
Sirius smirked. Leave it to Dumbledore to joke in a serious situation.
"What can I do for you Albus?" asked Sirius as he sat down in front of Dumbledore's desk.
"I'm worried about Remus. It's not like him to not respond to me. It's unnerving that I'm getting my letters back," Dumbledore's face grew grave. "Also, Harry is being labeled as a dark wizard by the ministry."
"What?!" exclaimed Sirius. "A dark wizard?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it's true," continued Dumbledore. "The Ministry is convinced that Harry has left to join the deatheaters. And of course, the deatheaters know this isn't true so they are searching for him as well."
"Why are they searching for him?" asked Sirius.
"They know that Harry is no longer being protected by the ministry. This is a prime chance for them to capture Harry and do what they will. This is why I am so concerned for Remus."
"What can I do?" asked Sirius determinedly.
"Remus lives just outside of Edinburgh in Dalkeith. Go as Snuffles and find out what's going on," said Dumbledore. "You can floo to the Gaur's Inn in Edinburgh."
"Okay, but how do I floo as Snuffles?"
Dumbledore's face kind of scrunched up as he pondered this question.
"Good question. . . Well, I'll just floo with you and get you on your way. Is there anything you need before you go?"
Sirius stood up.
"Uh, yes. Is Madam Pince in the library?"
Dumbledore looked at Sirius suspiciously.
"No, she left last night. Why?"
Sirius shook his head.
"No reason. . . I'll be right back."
With that, Sirius walked to the door and opened it. He transformed into dog form and ran down the stairs.
"Sirius? Sirius?" Harry woke with a start and looked around. He was alone.
He sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands. He reached over and grabbed his glasses of the side table and placed them on his face. His improved vision confirmed the fact the he was indeed alone. He looked over at Sirius' untidy bed and saw his crumpled pajamas lying on the floor.
Harry himself got out of bed and dressed quickly. He hurried downstairs and was met by an empty living room. He walked through the empty room and into the kitchen. Snape was sitting at the dining table, absentmindedly stirring a cup of tea with one hand while tracing the lines of a book with the other. Harry, not wanting to interrupt his professor, walked over to the freshly stocked cupboard. He pulled out a packet of instant oatmeal and walked over and got a clean bowl from the side of the sink. Harry sat down across from Snape and began eating his breakfast.
"Tea Potter?" asked Severus without looking up from his book. Harry looked up from his oatmeal and at his Professor.
"Um, no thank you Professor."
Snape looked back up at Harry. Something was definitely on his mind.
"If you are wondering," continued Snape, "Black left earlier this morning.
"Oh, said Harry as he returned to oatmeal. He wondered at what could have made Sirius leave. Harry had been comforted by his Godfather after he awoke from a nightmare. Harry felt better when Sirius was there the moment he woke up. The dream was worse than usual and it took about an hour for Sirius to calm Harry back into falling asleep.
Severus looked up from his book and at Harry. The boy obviously had expected to find his Godfather at his side when he woke.
"It was urgent," said Severus. "I don't know exactly where he left to but Dumbledore wrote and said it was urgent. I don't know when he'll be back but I know that he didn't want to leave this morning."
"Urgent?" exclaimed Harry. "Is something wrong?"
Severus simply shrugged and returned to his book. Harry returned to his bowl, silently saying a prayer to anyone who happened to be listening to the prayers of almost fifteen-year-old wizards in hiding.
Light rain began to fall as Sirius made his way down the muddy dirt road. As a human, Sirius always despised walking in the rain, but as a dog, he enjoyed it. For one, he wasn't cold, and two, it seemed dogs had a strange affiliation with being wet and dirty.
Sirius kept his eyes out for a small house matching the description Dumbledore had given him. He finally came across it: off-white paint chipping off, overgrown front garden, and a patched roof. Sirius trotted up to the front step and sat down on the welcome mat. He barked loudly three times, but no answer came. He got up and walked around to the back of the house. He barked again but there was still no answer. Feeling very brave, Sirius transformed to his human form and looked into the cottage's small, dirty windows.
Overwhelming fear spread throughout his entire body as he took out his wand and magically unlocked the back door and ran into the cottage. The small living room and kitchen had been ransacked. There were broken dishes, books, and furniture everywhere. No sign of Remus, though.
"Moony!" cried Sirius as he ran around the overturned kitchen table and down the hallway. "Moony!"
Sirius stopped abruptly at the door at the end of the hallway. He could hear something in the room and reached for the doorknob. With an explosion of sound and electricity, Sirius was thrown down the hallway. He slowly pulled himself back up and ran back up towards the door. He pointed his wand and yelled, "Get away from the door Remus!"
He then said a spell and blasted the door away. He ran into the room and muttered a spell to dissipated the thick smoke. Sirius found his friend in the back corner of the room, and cried out in alarm.