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According to Plan
 

Sirius could remember the first time he met James Potter. Not that that was a memory he would soon forget. He imagined every witch and wizard had a story like his, of not sure where he fit in, until boarding the fateful first train to Hogwarts. Except with Sirius, every blasted member of his family had been magical, while other children probably were ostracized for the exact opposite. And as for James, he had never had any friends, growing up an only child. He was a wonderfully imaginative, funny, intelligent boy then. He and Sirius had found one another as would two magnets. He never dreamed at the age of eleven that he would be back at Platform 9¾ some twenty years later, with his business what it was.

“Come along Harry, mind the puddle,” he said sharply to the young, bright-eyed boy clumsily pushing a cart full of luggage and an owl cage, over which he could not even see. There were several trunks, and the owl within the cage was large and handsome. Only the best for his godson.

Harry glanced meaningfully at the puddle in question, and Sirius knew he was itching to disobey. But he was a good kid, and in that respect, nothing like his father before him. James would have made sure he was wearing that puddle by the time he was through. Sirius chuckled to himself at the thought.

“What's funny?” the boy behind him inquired curiously.
 
“Just thinking about your old dad,” he responded airily. “You're so much like him, you know.” Sirius stopped at an open compartment midways down the train. He turned to Harry and smiled.

Harry rolled his eyes, “yeah, I've heard, only about a million and five times now.” Sirius frowned, and Harry's face fell guiltily. “I'm sorry, Siri. I shouldn't have said that, maybe.”

“Nah. I do tell you a bit much.” He grinned again. “Did I ever tell you how good your dad was on a broomstick?”

Harry glanced sideways, appearing to want to choose his words carefully. “Er, I think you've mentioned it...”

“Ah, yeah. I know. This place just brings back memories. James thought it would be funny our third year to follow the train on broomstick without letting anyone know what he was doing, or where he'd gone. He was something else, that much is certain. Pretty sure he got detention for the entire year...”

Harry grinned happily at this story. Sirius knew he liked it, though he hoped he wasn't wrong in telling him of his father's many schoolboy capers. “Yeah! He got detention all right, with Professor McGonagall!” Harry knew, too, of the strictness of Gryffindor's head of house.

Sirius squatted down beside the boy, so to better look him in the eye. “Don't you go giving her a hard time, Harry. She's a brilliant witch you could learn a lot from, and she'll give you detention faster than you can blink.” He smiled softly. “I just know you'll be a Gryffindor. Your dad's entire family were Gryffindors. Your mother, too. And me, and your Uncle Remus... You've got the blood of a lion flowing through you, son.”

  “Really?”

Sirius laughed. “Well. No, not really. Just metaphorically.”

“Oh...”

He sighed, watching people pass, most of them gawking, some stopping and doing a double take. After all, they were the famous Harry Potter and Sirius Black. Harry had defeated Lord Voldemort as a mere infant. Sirius had caught and helped put away his heir apparent, Peter Pettigrew, while clearing his own name of any suspicion. That day had been tough on him, but since James and Lily's death, he had made his absolute mission in life to bring his old friend to justice. And when word spread that Sirius was to be little Harry's caretaker—that was more than enough to turn both of them into instant celebrities.

But Sirius, mainly at the will of Professor Dumbledore, had tried his damnedest to keep little Harry out of the spotlight, raising him to be a normal wizard boy. And while Sirius had no idea what to do with a child, he liked to imagine his friends knew what they were doing when they named him godfather. It had been a very rough ten years, but he was certain everything would turn out okay. He thought he had done a good job so far. Harry wasn't broken; Harry was normal. A bit of a mischief-maker, but Sirius couldn't say he would have had him any other way.

“Are you okay, Siri?” Harry raised his eyebrows at his godfather concernedly.

“Yep, you bet.” He ran a hand through his short hair as he resumed full height. “Want some help with those?” He pointed to Harry's trunks and owl cage.

“No, I think I've got it,” said the little boy, attempting to hoist them onto the train.

“Are you sure about that?” He tried very hard not to laugh as the black-haired child struggled to lift the trunk. “Here, allow me.”

“I can do it,” he insisted, still tugging at the handles, but unsuccessful in lifting them more than an inch off the ground.

“You folks need some help?” came a thick Irish accent from behind them.

Sirius turned and smiled at the gentleman, who also had a young boy, probably Harry's age, following quietly behind him. “That would be great, if he'll let you.”

Sirius watched his godson sigh resignedly and step back from his luggage. It was just too heavy for the boy to lift up on his own. “Thanks,” he said dismally. Sirius grinned and picked him up under the arms, placing him on the compartment door ledge. He then helped the sandy-haired Irishman with Harry's belongings. He considered briefly that maybe he had gone overboard while school shopping, but quickly changed his mind. He deserved these things if anyone did.

“I appreciate it,” said Sirius once the luggage was on the train and Harry happily dragged them off one by one.

“It's no problem. So are you …” the man trailed off nervously.

Sirius grinned. “Sirius Black? Yeah. That's me. And you are...?”

“Oh, no, I meant—well, you're a wizard right? And the name's Finnigan. Patrick Finnigan, and this is my son, Seamus.”

“Good to meet you both.” Sirius furrowed his brow, unsure of how to respond to the first question. “Yes, I'm a wizard. Aren't you?”

“Heavens no! My wife, she's a witch. Bit of a surprise when I found out about that one.” He chortled heartily. “This is Seamus's first year. Is that your son there?” He gestured to Harry, who had returned to the platform, panting.

“Er, this is my godson, Harry.”

Harry simpered from behind Sirius, suddenly looking very shy. Seamus's eyes lit up at the sight of Harry, and he bolted around his father to get a better look.

“Harry Potter?” Sirius watched as Seamus raked his gaze toward Harry's lightning-bolt scar, an all too familiar scene. Even the Muggle Patrick Finnigan did a double take upon hearing the name. When Harry nodded carefully, Seamus stuck out his hand. “I'm Seamus Finnigan. You're not going to be in Slytherin, are you?”

“Of course not,” said Harry, smiling somewhat. Sirius knew Harry's greatest fears about going to school included not getting sorted into Slytherin, and making friends. He was sure the boy would do fine on both fronts. “I'm going to be a Gryffindor,” he stated proudly.

“I don't care what I get,” said Seamus, both boys coming out of their former shells somewhat, “as long as I'm not a Slytherin. They're just plain bad.”

“Ah, ah, Seamus, best not talk that way. I'm sure some of them are alright,” said Seamus's father.

“Yeah. Maybe.” He didn't sound too convinced, and Sirius wasn't about to try to argue with the boy; he was sure he was right about Slytherins. They were all nasty. “Anyway, I'll save a seat for you on the train if you like, Harry.”

Sirius glanced toward the eleven-year-old standing next to him. He was obviously trying very hard to conceal a smile. “Yes, thanks.”

Seamus hugged his father and waved goodbye to Sirius as he boarded the Hogwarts Express.

After Patrick Finnigan had departed, Sirius turned to Harry, who was now looking just as nervous as ever. He was biting his lip slightly, and fidgeting his hands. Sirius couldn't remember the last time he had seen him behave this way. Harry was normally a very outgoing, but very kind, boy. It was unusual for him to clam up or display any sort of nervousness. But even Sirius himself had been anxious on his first day at Hogwarts, and he tried to imagine what that had been like.

Which house do you think you'll be in?” asked James offhandedly from across the compartment Sirius was sharing with him.

He sighed at this question, fearing it more than he could possibly convey. “I'm not sure. My whole family's been Slytherin.” He just knew saying that would kill his chances at any kind of friendship with the boy, whom he already very much liked.

James peered at him seriously, and Sirius was certain that he was going to tell him to shove off. “You don't seem much like a Slytherin to me.”

Sirius couldn't help but smile, but quickly covered it up. He didn't want to seem too enthusiastic. That would be weird.

So you're names Potter, right? Like the Potters?”

What's that supposed to mean?” asked James curiously, tilting his head to one side.

I dunno, my parents talk about 'the Potters' a lot. Thought you might be one.”

Oh, I think I remember you. Your mum's the total nutter who once went off on my mum for some thing or another. I think they're friends or something, right?”

Sirius shuffled his feet uncomfortably. “Er, I don't know. I don't think my mum has any actual friends.”

James laughed at this and rummaged in his shoulder bag for something while Sirius waited anxiously across the compartment. He liked this James fellow so far, having only known him less than an hour, but what if he didn't like him in return? What if he saw him like his family did: a weirdo with no potential or ambition? He hoped very much that that would not be the case.

Here, have this,” he said, pulling out an ordinary cardboard box.

What is it?” Sirius asked suspiciously, eying the box with great though suppressed interest.

Open it,” he laughed, shoving it closer.

Sirius did so carefully, scared it was going to explode in his face or some other such trick. That would be what he would do to a known Slytherin. They were horrid, he knew first hand. But instead, he found at least a hundred Chocolate Frog cards. He picked out a few and immediately noticed they were very rare finds.

Wow, are you really giving these to me?”

Of course not,” said James with a chuckle, as if Sirius were silly for thinking so.

Oh...”

To get them, you have to promise you'll be in Gryffindor, so we can be friends. My dad says I'm sure to be one; no one in my family has ever not been a Gryffindor. And … I feel like one. So, to get the cards, you have to be a Gryffindor. Promise?” He peered at him earnestly, the subject obviously of greatest seriousness and importance.

Sirius sighed, but didn't let on that he was nervous or unsure of the deal. He wouldn't turn out like the rest of his family. He was going to be different. “Promise.”

“Your father, Harry... He was the very best friend I ever had. More like a brother than anything.”

“Does that make you my uncle?”

Sirius smiled warmly. “May as well, hadn't it?”

There was silence for a moment, as Sirius tried to think of the proper words to say. What would James and Lily have said to their son as he boarded the train for his first year of Hogwarts, finally to become a man in his own right? He didn't know the answer to that, and it wasn't the first time he had felt that way. He never dreamed of having children, as much as he loved his friends and their son. He hadn't expected to ever have to fulfill the duties bestowed upon him, and so he never thought of them. Harry was a wonderful baby he had enjoyed spending time with, but he always knew in the end he was would give him back to his rightful parents. When the time came he couldn't do that anymore, he had broken down and cried in frustration and sheer anguish. How could he ever do what was right by such a small, helpless person?

“When your parents asked me to be your godfather, I didn't dream of turning them down. Your dad asked me to do something, I did it, no questions asked. Because he was my brother, do you understand that Harry?” The boy nodded, a look of concentration on his face. A smart child, he seemed to understand the solemnity of his godfather's words. “I thought a thousand times over I was going to lose what mind I may have left, raising you. I didn't think I could do it. Sometimes I didn't know if I wanted to do it. It's hard working raising someone to be a good person, having to live up to the expectations their parents held for him, while having no idea what you're doing.

"But, we've made it this far, Harry, and I have to say, I'm proud of you.”

“But … I've not done anything,” he said slowly.

“Oh yes you have. You may not realize it just yet, but I think someday you might. You've been the greatest friend these ten years. We've had great times, haven't we? Moreover, you've taught me so much. You taught me how to grow up, how to live, how to be the man I should have learned to be a long time ago.” He smiled at his godson, knowing he couldn't possibly understand everything he was saying to him just yet, but also knowing he would one day comprehend it all, and hoping he was saying the right thing. Sirius was never sure he was doing the right thing by Harry, but he tried.

“I spent weeks trying to figure out what I would say to you today. I tried to think of all the things James and Lily would have said, had they been here in my place. To tell the truth, I can't imagine what that could have possibly been, because those kinds of words are reserved for parents to tell their children, not for godfathers. I don't know if there even are words for situations like these.
 

“I know our little family of two was brought about by the worst of circumstances and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish things had been different. You don't know all the details, and you don't need to know them just yet. But there will come a time when it all will make sense to you. I just hope I'm the one you'll come to with the inevitable questions.

“What I'm trying to say is, Harry, I wouldn't trade a minute of our time together, and I hope you can say the same. You're a good kid, and I'm proud of you; you're truly your parents' son. I think you'll do great things in life. No... You will do great things. You were absolutely born for it.”

Sirius smiled weakly, realizing his eyes were filling with tears. He knew today would be hard, as the past ten years had been spent with him relying on Harry for almost all of his social interactions, and vice versa. Sure, Remus came to visit often, but in Harry, Sirius sometimes saw a bit of his old friend, James. The boy who had pretended he didn't need friends, but only wanted to give away Chocolate Frog cards. He saw that same boy in Harry. And he knew from that, that Harry would be fine.

“You don't have to say those things, Siri...” Harry looked pained, and Sirius hoped he hadn't said too much. “I already knew it.” He grinned and threw his arms around his godfather. “I'll miss you, but promise you'll write?”

“Every day.”

“Well, I dunno. Maybe not that much.” He stepped back and laughed.

“Oh, right, right. Must keep up the appearances. You're a cool kid now.”

Harry just smiled up at him with the bright green eyes belonging to his mother. “I better get going,” he said, looking around at the large clock, which told them that the train was due to depart in just five minutes.

“One last thing.” Sirius reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out an ordinary cardboard box. “Your father gave me these the very first day I met him. They're all very old, very rare, and very expensive. He gave them to me hoping I would be his friend, though he liked to make it sound like he just wanted to be nice. He was a good man, and I'm sure he'd have wanted you to have them. So, keep them if you wish, or go play the same trick on someone else.” Sirius beamed, a hint of mischief glinting in his eyes.

“Thanks...” Harry quickly pocketed the cards and sighed heavily. “Best get along before I'm left behind,” he said wearily. He smiled one last smile, hugged his godfather quickly and ran off towards the compartment.

Sirius stood in place, watching as he clambered onto the train, followed by a family of red-heads he suspected to be the Weasleys. The youngest one wall tall and lanky, and appeared to be around Harry's age. He was already speaking to him faster than the bunch could move.

And as Harry turned for a last glance and wave before allowing the red-haired boy to lead the way, Sirius Black knew he had not failed.


A/N: Reviews are great!

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