Despoiling Harry

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The characters and the situations within these fanfiction stories are not my property. They are the property of J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and others, and are used without permission; challenge to copyright is not intended and should not be construed. No profit is being made from the use of these characters and situations; these written-down imaginings are only presented in an internet forum for the interest of and consumption by the like-minded individuals who enjoy them and recognize them as unauthorized fanfiction only, and are not in any way meant to be confused with the originals NOR presented as authorized materials of these owners.

No Happy Memories
by Amanuensis

Can you get it all said and done in the last 24 hours of your life?
Pairings: Harry/Sirius
Categories: Drama/Angst
Notes: This fic is part of the 'Canis Major' Harry/Sirius Fuh-Q-Fest ( Challenge: 24. The war is over, but Pettigrew is dead, and all proof of Sirius' innocence is gone. He is sentenced to the dementor's kiss, but is given a last request. He asks to spend 24 hours with his godson. (Nimori) Warnings for angst, angst, angst. Blame Nimori.

This is what happens at nine o'clock:

"We can go, right now."

"No, Harry."

"I've got bags packed. They're hidden up in the attic. We could go right now--"

"No, Harry."

"--and we'd have almost a day's headstart, they might not realize we've left the house right away--"


"--it might work, Sirius, it might work! You know how to stay on the run, and we could use magic to disguise ourselves--!"

"Harry." Sirius Black puts his hand on his godson's arm. The pressure, not strong enough to hurt, is nevertheless strong enough to stop Harry's pleading. "No."

To keep them from trembling, Harry bites his lips until they blanch.

Sirius continues gently. "This isn't how I want to spend this day: arguing about whether we should try to run after all. There's no running for me, anymore." He shakes his head. "It's not going to happen."

Harry has been trying to understand this new Sirius since the trial ended. This isn't the Sirius who escaped Azkaban to go after vengeance. Not the Sirius who lived on rats and staged a daring flight to safety on the back of a condemned hippogriff.

But it is, he thinks, the Sirius who, in the first days of his escape, risked coming to catch a glimpse of his thirteen-year-old godson, to see what had become of the boy he had neglected to protect.

That Sirius, who thinks of Harry first.

That Sirius is facing his fate with utter calm and resolve, and it is eating Harry alive.

He looks at his godfather, there in the living room of the house that Sirius has willed to him, and in which they had hoped they could live together, just as they'd imagined, three years ago.

Instead, they have only today.



This is what happens at ten o'clock:

Harry lets it burst out of him, knowing it is coming and wanting to have it done, for the sake of the day. He rants. He screams out the curses that he has screamed a thousand times since the end of the trial, cursing the Azkaban guards who let Pettigrew have visitors, cursing the leftover nameless Voldemort minion who slipped past their screening and murdered Pettigrew in his cell. Cursing Pettigrew, almost as an afterthought.

He curses the judge who threw out his testimony on the grounds that it was hearsay. Curses the officials who ruled that Veritaserum questioning is no longer valid, because of too many black-market versions of Prevaricus potion that came to light after the defeat of Voldemort. Curses the prosecutor and the defense attorney and the jury and whatever goddamn archwizard psycho conjured the Dementors into being all those years ago.

When he's out of curses, he weeps. When Sirius tries to comfort him, he curses himself for doing this to Sirius. Doing it today of all days. He pushes his godfather away.

And then he goes to the bathroom, washes his face, comes out again and apologizes.

And Sirius looks at him, and nods.

They try not to think about how short twenty-four hours are.



This is what happens at eleven o'clock:

"Are you hungry?"

Sirius considers that. He's not actually thinking about the answer, but is wondering if spending time--wasting time-- eating is worth it. "Not just yet."

Harry says, "I... have someone to introduce to you." He stands. "Dobby?" he says to the air.

A house-elf appears with a poof. "Yes, Harry Potter?"

"Dobby, this is Sirius, my godfather."

"Oh, yes," says the house-elf, "Dobby has heard all about you, Mr. Black! Dobby would like to say how very sor--"

Harry cuts him off. "Please, Dobby, this isn't the time to--"

Dobby looks chastened. "Oh, yes-- of course, how inconsiderate of Dobby."

After a statement like that, Sirius would expect to see the house-elf run off to slam its head in the door, or stick its toes in a laundry wringer or something like that. This one just looks at the floor contritely.

"You own a house-elf, Harry?"

"Not own. Dobby's my friend. And I'm paying him for today." Harry pushes his hands into his back pockets as if to disguise embarrassment and says, "Anything you want to eat today-- just tell Dobby. He'll make it or get it for you. Anything." He looks at Sirius.

Sirius understands how Harry feels, for not being able to do more for him than to see that he has anything he wants to eat for his last day as a man with a soul.

So he smiles. "Thank you, Harry. Thank you, Dobby."

And come to think of it, there is something he hasn't eaten in ages.

"You wouldn't be able to whip up Mulligatawny soup, would you, Dobby?"

Dobby lifts his head, his eyes bright.



This is what happens at noon:

They eat a wonderfully spicy version of Mulligatawny soup, along with a few other things Sirius requested: Cross-cut chips smothered in chili and cheese. Guinness Stout. Cream Crackers smeared with Nutella. Ripe blackberries. And a delicate green tea sorbet that Sirius remembers having only once, at a hotel restaurant in Jamaica.



This is what happens at one o'clock:

Sirius takes Harry outside, to the backyard, into a day that has so far indulged them by not raining-- it's only overcast-- and sets about the business that prompted him to ask for this day to be with his godson.

James would have showed Harry how do this-- among so many other things-- if he'd lived.

Sirius failed Harry in too many ways. He needs to give this to his godson before he dies.

"I'm... I'm not getting it."

"Don't try so hard. Think of it as reaching out for something with your fingertips, not with your hand, not with your arm."

Harry is biting his lip, hard. What if he can't do this? It means so much to Sirius. He's willing to work as hard as he can-- will work at it all night if necessary. But Sirius says that it won't help to try hard.

He takes a deep breath, to steady himself, to keep the tightness in his throat at bay. "Will I know the shape when it feels right?"

"You'll know when it-- ah, I see. You may not know it, at first. If you can make the change, it's because you've slipped into it almost without noticing it, and the senses and the perceptions don't seem strange at first. What clued me in that I'd done it, the first time, was realizing that I seemed so much lower to the ground than I should be. The craving for bones and things to chew on didn't seem even remotely odd to me. It was when Remus dropped to his knees next to me and started-- petting me, that I knew what form I must have taken, because it was the sort of petting you'd do to a dog, you know? Not like if I'd been a snake or anteater or--"

"Or porcupine."

"Obviously not."

Harry seems to make progress. Sirius does not want to make him frustrated and so calls for a break in the middle of the afternoon.



This is what happens at three o'clock:

Sirius sits Harry down and asks him to watch his favorite movie with him: Dr. Strangelove, which Harry's never seen. For Sirius's sake, Harry focuses on the film.

He can't believe how fucking funny it is.

Both of them are silent during the final sequence. It's not the ending, it's the song, however ironically it's presented. But for either of them to get up and shut off the player before the film is over would be even more awkward.



This is what happens at five o'clock:

"There, like that. D'you feel it?"

Harry sits cross-legged on the grass, his eyes shut as he concentrates. "Yeah. I think... I think so. But it's... only coming in flashes."

"It's okay. You're getting there. I didn't become an animagus in one day, but it was the first day of working on it that let me see how it was going to be done, if I practiced. You'll get it, Harry. We'll work on it some more."

Sirius sees Harry's head droop. He says, "I know you want to have it today. For me. Please don't--" He stops, knowing Harry understands, and not wanting to waste any of this day on chiding him.



This is what happens at seven o'clock:

Dobby comes on tentative feet and asks if either of them would like dinner. Harry feels worn out, but not hungry. Sirius declines for the moment as well.

It's summer, but they can both see that evening is already upon them.



This is what happens at eight o'clock:

The two of them are sitting on the couch. A Beatles collection--the one with the blue framing on the album cover--is playing on the sound system.

"...never get the most important learning out of books, that's what your father always said. Do you know how to get a Gringotts goblin to owe you a favor? Or how to tie a bowtie, for formal occasions, not just a necktie? Or how to look for signs of wear on a used motorcycle before you let someone sell it to you?"

Harry shakes his head.

"All right then. Let's see how much of this I can think of. First thing is, goblins can't resist firewhiskey mixed with lemonade..."



This is what happens at nine o'clock:

"...And if you're trying to impress someone, you can always bribe the maitre d'. You never try to pretend they must have lost the reservation; that's the oldest cliche in the world. What you do is reach for his hand, and press a twenty, nothing smaller than that, ever, into his hand, like it's just a handshake-- here, give me your hand, I'll show you."

Harry automatically reaches out his hand. Sirius takes it.

"Just like that. And you say, 'Please, I would be very grateful if you would do what you can. This is a very special night for us.' Good chance it'll work. The girls go wild for it."

Harry looks at his godfather, who still hasn't let go of his hand yet. But he's looking at his eyes, not their hands.

"I'm not interested in impressing girls."

"Well, you--" Sirius stops himself from saying Well, you will be one day.

Harry is seventeen. He is no longer a boy, to think that girls are icky.

"Well," he says, not letting go of Harry's hand, knowing it would be the wrong thing to do just then. "That's all right, then. It's still good to know how to bribe a maitre d'. Whoever you're... trying to impress. Whomever."

He falls silent. Harry still doesn't look away.

"You left something out," he says at last.

"I did?"

"Yeah. How to tie a bowtie."

"Oh... Right. You..." He releases Harry's hand to push himself up. "I should have one, I think."

Upstairs, Sirius finds a black one, older than Harry is, in the back of the closet. He has Harry stand in front of the full-length mirror, and he stands behind him, reaching around the sides of his neck to take a hold of the ends of the tie. "Okay, watch."

Harry does.

"Show me again."

Sirius undoes the tie and starts to repeat the action.

Harry turns his head and kisses the inside of Sirius's forearm.

Just a light brush of his lips. But nothing that can be mistaken for anything else.

Sirius stops. Doesn't move.

Harry turns around in Sirius's arms.

Sirius opens his mouth to say Harry.

Sees the look on Harry's face.

Closes his mouth. Swallows. Finds his mouth is very, very dry.

Harry kisses him on the lips.

And everything now is what they don't say.

Sirius doesn't say, Harry, this isn't right. This isn't what you really want.

Harry doesn't say This is what I want you to teach me.

They don't say any of that because all of that would be bullshit, and they both know it.

Similarly Sirius does not say, Don't do this out of pity for me, just because I haven't thought of you like a son since I met you three years ago. He knows Harry would not ever do this out of pity. He's too guileless for that.

And Harry does not say, Don't tell me I'm too young to know what I want. He knows Sirius doesn't think of him as a child.

And neither one even thinks of James.... except to acknowledge how much they are not thinking about him, oddly recursive as that may be. But true.

What does happen is that Sirius stares back. And when he speaks his voice cracks: "Harry..." It comes out very differently from the way he had intended to say it a minute ago. "Think about this. Please. Is this what you want to remember?"

Harry's eyes widen, reflecting light all the more for the wetness starting to fill them." God, Sirius, what are you saying? How can you--" He clutches at his godfather's arms.

"Not-- how you want to remember me. No. That's-- But you're-- fuck, Harry, you are too fucking young to have a dead lover to remember, don't you fucking see that? I-- I can't--!"

Harry throws himself on Sirius. Shuts him up with his mouth. Lets the tears fall even as he kisses him.

Sirius is only flesh. He's known that since before eight o'clock that morning.

He sweeps Harry into his arms and kisses back as fiercely as he can.

And they are two mouths devouring, two bodies clinging and pawing and fighting to touch as much of each other as possible at once, gasping with the twin ache of need and grief that permeate them, permeate this day, and they think they can taste it on each other's skin, just as Sirius can taste the salt of Harry's tears.

And this is because both of them know, both of them knew quite well in those secret places of the mind, the ones that are kept so tightly shuttered, that this day had been leading up to this all along, that Sirius wanted his last day on earth to be spent with Harry for this very reason: not because he owed it to Harry, or even to James, but because it was what they both wanted, what they were both going to have despite every move in this fucking rigged chessgame of a world to keep them apart.

Yet the secret places of the mind are not the only ones which have a voice; Sirius still tries to keep in control of these demands of mind and flesh and heart, and as Harry is fumbling at the buttons of his shirt even as he is trying to drag Sirius's larger frame over to the bed, he tries again to speak reason: "Harry-- Harry, please, look at you-- you don't, don't really want this, you only think you do, you're crying, Harry, I can't let you--"

Harry stops trying to pull and instead pushes. Himself. Against Sirius's chest.

"I have to," he chokes. "I have to be crying. I don't... don't want this to be happy, Sirius. Wonderful, worth it, exactly what I want... yes. But not happy." He kisses Sirius again with his tear-wet face. "If this is a happy memory, Sirius... then they can take that. When they come for you I don't want them to take this. I want it with you right until... they--"

Sirius hugs him fiercely. "Never," he snarls. "They can never take this from me. Not this. Not you." He kisses Harry again, and again and again, almost savagely. It is a feral Sirius who picks Harry up at last and takes him to the bed, who lays him down on it and begins to remove his beloved Harry's clothing, strips him down to adolescent flesh and Quidditch-slim muscles and that messy black hair that adorns his head and body both, until Sirius is overcome by the knowledge that this handsome boy in his bed wants him badly enough to have him even like this, not because he is a romantic who thinks this can be the greatest selfless gift, or the sweetest tragic story to carry about-- but because he is Harry, and wants this before he loses Sirius forever.

The feral beast in him quiets. "Have you--" he asks, and is unable to finish. Dear god, let him not be a virgin. Please.

Harry pushes his face against Sirius's neck, but not to kiss him. Sirius feels fresh tears. "Please don't be angry. I wasn't going to tell you but I have to. Please don't be angry." There is a hitch in Harry's throat. "After the trial. When I found out your last request was to spend your last day with me, here. I asked Charlie Weasley." Sirius has met the man. But before he can ask himself what he thinks of that revelation, Harry rushes on: "I told him I wanted to have this with you. And I was afraid you wouldn't if I were a virgin. And that I wouldn't know what to do, or it would be awful because I'd never-- Charlie's gay. And he's nice. I--" Another hitch. "I wasn't going to tell you. Oh god. Do you hate me? I asked Charlie to teach me because I didn't want you to think I was just asking you to teach me. Because you wouldn't've if you'd thought that. Oh god. Do you hate m--"

Sirius knows what to do. He shuts Harry up with a kiss.

Neither of them speak for a long time after that.

They are torn between taking their time and wanting to move as fast as possible, and the unspoken compromise they reach is that when one of them starts to gasp too rapidly the other one slows down, backs off from whatever he is doing, finds something else to prolong the fever. Sirius licks Harry's nipples over and over, quickly at first and then when they have been licked into twin points of nearly painful flesh, rasps his tongue over each so slowly that Harry moans and clutches at Sirius's shoulders, his hips lifting, pressing into Sirius's belly. Sirius continues his exploration down Harry's body after that, tonguing over his belly, carefully not doing the same thing to his cock but instead stroking down his thighs, capturing a foot between his hands and letting his tongue caress between Harry's toes so that he yelps.

Harry gets up on his knees and reaches for Sirius's cock. He strokes over it with both hands, lightly, looking up at Sirius's face as if to say is that all right. But it's obvious it is, and Harry stops worrying about it and instead is at ease treating Sirius's cock the way he'd want his own to be treated.

Slowly he sinks down to his belly on the bed, draped over Sirius's thighs, and takes the cock in his mouth, savoring the taste of the flesh and every little tremor he can feel in Sirius's thighs beneath him. He tongues Sirius's balls as well, carefully drawing each into his mouth and working them gently, one at a time. Sirius hisses, but Harry can tell it's in a good way, and continues.

Sirius buries his hands in Harry's hair, but not to control what he's doing or to pull him off: feeling every little movement of Harry's head as he sucks, licks, translated through the thick hair clutched in his fingers. He groans, keeps his eyes open so that he can watch Harry's face, the way his mouth irises open to take in more of Sirius's girth, the pink tongue running along the underside as Harry's own eyes close half-way, giving him the look of an utterly calculating seducer. Sirius almost whimpers.

Harry pulls away, hearing that. He slithers back up for another kiss, and now the two of them are exploring each other's lips like they are trying to discover what they missed before, in their haste to be all twining tongues and mingling saliva. It is light and playful and so achingly sweet it almost breaks them down again.

It's faster for Harry to go to the bathroom and fetch the jar of lubricant that he put there than it is to find his wand and Accio the damn thing. He falls back into Sirius's arms for more kisses, more tear-wet kisses that comfort him and arouse him and drive a knife into his heart all at once. Oh, but he wants to collapse sobbing even as he wants to keep kissing Sirius, still, even after all that has transpired, unable to believe that this will be their only night together.

On this earth. He tells himself that so that he does not collapse. Harry does not know if he truly believes in an afterlife. But right now, he must.

Sirius tops, the first time, because it seems to be the unspoken expectation and because neither of them wants the question's awkwardness to create a pause. Face to face with Harry, Sirius wraps his arms about him and then slides one hand down to his arse, parts his cleft and probes his entrance with one lubricated finger. Harry trembles, then relaxes, makes no noise but a soft inhalation. Sirius decides he was at least telling the truth about it not being his first time from his reaction-- not from the tightness. He's always been irritated by the myth that anal sex somehow loosens that muscle permanently.

When he has three fingers inside Harry he stops, gently withdraws, and rolls Harry to his stomach. Harry spreads his legs and lifts his arse, his arms moving to fold around a pillow that he pulls beneath his chin. The pose is so trusting, so erotic, so beautiful, that Sirius is afraid that the emotion that surges through him is orgasm, and that he has spoiled this moment. But it is not and he has not; he covers Harry's back with his own body, using his hands to position himself at first but then, when he has the proper angle, he puts his hands on Harry's shoulders while he slowly pushes the head of his cock inside him. Harry curses and blasphemes in a way that sounds like love poetry to Sirius: "Oh fuck-- oh christ-- oh shit-- oh god--"

Once completely inside him, Sirius stays there, not thrusting, pressing his face to the back of Harry's neck and breathing in the scent of his hair. He thinks that it is perhaps the loveliest smell to have in his nostrils and his brain, here in the last hours of his life. And this, from someone who can transform into a dog.

Harry mewls underneath him when Sirius does start thrusting, and Sirius knows he will not be able to hold back much longer. He tries to concentrate on grazing past Harry's prostate, wanting to hear Harry mewling for all the best reasons, and thinks he is successful, and Harry does mewl again and then Sirius isn't thinking at all, he's coming, coming deep inside Harry's arse, clinging to him, wanting to reach around Harry's hip and fist his cock but unable to detach his arms from where they circle about Harry's torso, cupping his pectoral muscle and the hollow just over his abdomen with his hands.

When he can breathe again, he kisses the back of Harry's neck over and over.

When he can pull out, he rolls Harry to his back again and falls on his cock with his mouth, sucking him in to the root, burying his face against Harry's pubic hair even as he swallows the head of his cock deep into his throat. Harry shouts as he comes so hard and so deep Sirius barely gets the taste of his come anywhere near his tongue.

They fall together, still not speaking, but stroking each other's skin gently with their fingers, instinctively knowing that this light touch does not have to be designed to get them aroused again; their mere presence and proximity alone will do that. They touch, and kiss, and breathe upon each others faces, and let their limbs interpose with each other's, wanting to forget that they are two separate beings who will share different fates come morning.

They both know they will waste none of that night, not a minute of it, on sleep.

Though somewhere around two a.m. Sirius jokes about asking Dobby for oysters.

Harry laughs. Then he cries.

Then he kisses Sirius again, and begins to move down his lover's body with his mouth again.



This is what happens at seven o'clock:


Sirius has his arms around Harry and kisses him very, very gently. "No, Harry."

"Please." He is trying to hold the tears back. He wants Sirius to see that it is a reasonable plan, not the fantasies of a lost, broken-hearted boy. "Tell them I'm your hostage. If they catch us then they won't do anything to me. I want to be with you. Please."

"They know I'd never endanger you, Harry. It won't work."

"It would. They wouldn't risk it! Goddammit, Sirius, it's my life! If I want to spend it as a fugitive with you, that's my choice! Dammit, please let me choose this!" He is sitting up now, putting all he can into this. He knows it is his last chance, even though he knows no amount of pleading has worked before this.

And yet he cannot understand why Sirius is refusing to run.

It does not make any sense.


Harry suddenly is afraid of what he sees on Sirius's face. Not merely that quiet resolution. No, Sirius has the air of one with a secret. A terrible secret.

"What?" he whispers.

Sirius reaches up to stroke Harry's hair. "You are," he says, "the most wonderful creature on this earth, and I love you, Harry. I always will. Nothing will change that. Remember."

Harry wants to echo the words back to Sirius. But he cannot. He sees that Sirius has more to say.

"Harry..." Sirius looks out of the window at the daylight. "You said you didn't want the Dementors to take any happy memories when the take me for the kiss, and I told you they wouldn't." Harry sees him lick his lips, still not looking at him. "Did you wonder, at all, how I got them to agree to this request? When they wouldn't even let me out on bail before the trial?"

Harry stares. He knows he doesn't want to hear what's coming.

"There isn't anyone coming for me at eight.

"They aren't going to give me the Kiss."

He pauses. A bird trills outside.

"They gave it to me yesterday, before I came."

Harry doesn't move. Doesn't breathe.

Sirius turns to look at him now. "It's a time-stasis spell. The only way I could get them to let me out for 24 hours was for them to make sure I would be dead at the end of it."

Suddenly he slides forward on the bed, his arms reaching up to enfold Harry. "So you see, it's all right. They can't take these memories from me. And they're happy ones, Harry. Really, really happy ones." He smiles, and it isn't a sad smile, there isn't any trace of sadness in it, and that's what gets the howl out of Harry, he clings to Sirius and screams like he's being murdered, and he knows he is, some part of him is dying right now, they've killed it, they've killed it the way they've killed Sirius, and Sirius is holding onto him, saying, "Ssh, ssh, don't, Harry, listen to me, you've been the best thing that ever happened to me, and even if we'd had more time it couldn't have been better; I want you to believe that, to know that, ssh, please don't cry like this, Harry... "

But Harry collapses, sobs wrenching out of him, not even able to hold onto Sirius anymore, betrayed out of every last piece of hope by the person he loves most. The weight on the bed next to him shifts, and there is something pushing at his face, something rough and wet and he realizes his face is being licked, and it's Padfoot, Padfoot's furry body that stretches out next to his and whines and licks his face over and over, and it cuts through the hysteria because no one can fail to react to a dog licking their face, and Harry gasps and gulps and moans, "S-Sirius...", and he lies there as Sirius just licks away his tears, continuing to make those puppy whines that force Harry to subside just because he has to, and he puts his arms around the furry form and holds him, not for dear life but just holds him, and as if Harry's tears are a waterbowl of which he can never get enough, Padfoot licks at his face, and licks at it, and comforts Harry in a way that words could never have reached him. And Harry lies there as Padfoot licks away the salty sea that seem to be escaping from his eyes.

Padfoot whines.

Tucks his nose under Harry's chin.

Harry doesn't actually hear or feel those two things; what does happen is that he eventually realizes that the tears are running slowly down his face again and are no longer being licked off.

"Padfoot?" he croaks at last.

The furry form next to his breathes. But doesn't otherwise move.


Harry lifts a hand to stroke the dark head.


He can feel the wetness of the dog's nose, the humidity of his slow breaths over his fingers.


Padfoot doesn't move.


He wants to say something else. He wants to say, Come on, Padfoot, don't just lie there, go back to what you were doing; I liked that. Don't ignore me, Sirius, I hate when you do that, when there's something you want to say to me but then decide you can't, you pretend I'm not speaking to you, thinking I don't know what's going on between us-- dammit, I DO; don't think I didn't understand why you kept silent, but if I'm still a boy, I'm not a child, I haven't been for years, I don't think I have been since I was ONE, and I know what I want and just as importantly, I know what YOU want and it's the same thing, and hey, we figured that out, didn't we, and see, it's going to be all right now, it has to be all right now, because we finally said, we said it, we really did, so it has to be all right, so stop...

"...ignoring me like that, I HATE WHEN YOU DO THAT! Goddamn you, Sirius!"

Padfoot doesn't move.

A sound comes out of Harry's throat, up from his chest. It's a sound he didn't know he could make; it's like the howl that burst out of him not long ago and yet it's nothing like; it sounds like the sound an Unforgivable Curse should make as it erupts from a wand, just so that there is no question, no mistake, about why using one of them gets you a lifetime of imprisonment.

He pushes his face against Padfoot's side, too afraid to look at those eyes, afraid that seeing them glassy and soulless will haunt him for the rest of his life. And yet of course he has to know, so he looks, and oh, it's not as bad as he feared; they're a dog's eyes, after all, staring, yes, but in that way that dogs often have of being able to stare at something for a long time, quietly, as if they're doing some deep thinking about that particular spot in the fence, or that patch of grass, or that butterfly, or Milton's bloody poetry, maybe. And again he strokes Padfoot, his hand shaking so badly, shaking too hard for him to properly feel the dog's breathing as his sides expand and fall, dammit, he wants to feel that breathing, wants something to convince himself he's wrong, even as he knows he is not and that no such self-deception can work.

Something touches his shoulders. Someone is pulling him up from behind; how did he not hear their approach?... Someone is making a noise that sounds very much like his name. Sitting on the bed with him, holding him.

"He didn't want you to see him like that," Remus says. "He told me he would transform into Padfoot just before it was time. He wanted it to be easier for all of us."

Harry stares at the quietly breathing dog. "Why... why isn't he changing back?" he whispers.

Remus arms around him tighten. "He'll stay that way, now." Harry can hear Remus trying to disguise the strain in his own voice, but he's not being very successful at it, and anyway Harry can feel it in his arms, in his whole body. "The Dementor's kiss doesn't cause an animagus to revert. And he...can't do it himself. He doesn't... know how, anymore."

They don't move. Not for a long time. Harry can hear more noises, outside the room, downstairs. Of course Sirius would have told everyone the precise time to come.

He probably thought of it as Harry's bloody suicide watch team.

Remus says, "Let me take care of the rest of what he wanted."

He waits for Harry to answer. Waits for Harry to tell him it's okay, that he can finish taking care of the empty shell that was their friend.

Harry nods.

Remus helps him to stand, takes a blanket from the bed and wraps it around Harry, tightly, almost mummifying him, as if that can stop his shaking. Remus smoothes down Harry's hair with one hand and says, "He didn't want you to see this part.'

Harry nods again. He looks one more time at the black dog.

The way he first saw him is the way he's last seeing him.

He turns and leaves the room. Not crying. Not crying.

Behind him he can hear the sounds Remus is starting to make, now that he has left the room.

He gets all the way down the stairs but bypasses the living room, where the murmurs and sounds are coming from. Instead he cuts through the kitchen and out the door to the backyard.

The morning is once again overcast, but it didn't rain yesterday and the ground is dry. He sits, curls deeper into the cocoon of the blanket.

Thinks about cocoons, and what comes out of them.

Thinks about Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, and how only one of them is left. The only one who is not an animagus, and who has no power over his transformations.

Thinks about what friends do for friends.

Reaches out. Not straining, not grabbing, but as if something lies just before him and all he needs to do is pick it up in his fingertips.

He imagines he can still feel that wet tongue licking away his tears.

The blanket falls away as he transforms.



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