Sirius surveyed the room in which he was deposited by the Floo. Harry and Severus waited for his reaction.
“You do realize that there are colors besides black, don’t you, Snape?” he asked, looking around with a raised brow.
“Yes, well, I do suppose you have gotten a little tired of white and black, haven’t you, Black? Especially stripes,” he said snarkily alluding to the convict’s uniform he spent the last twelve years in.
Sirius scowled. “Here I thought maybe you were trying to make me feel at home.”
“Come on, Sirius,” Harry offered. “I’ll show you around.”
They left the sitting room and wandered about the house, going in every room except Severus’s room and the potions laboratory.
“Why can’t we go in there?” Sirius asked standing in front of the closed lab door.
Harry shrugged. “He’s really private about his work in there. I’m allowed in but not alone. I think it’s safe to say you’ll never be.”
“Not that I’d want to go in there anyway,” Sirius said. “I wouldn’t want my fabulous complexion to sallow like his.” He shook his hair back dramatically and lifted his chin.
Harry chuckled at the irony for Sirius was absurdly pale from being cooped up for twelve years. “Not to mention what it would do to your hair.”
Sirius looked at him. “What would it do to my luxurious hair?”
“The fumes make it greasy,” Harry said. “Maybe I’ll work on figuring out a shampoo that counteracts that this summer...”
“Oh,” Sirius said with a light frown. “Here I thought it was hereditary. And summer is for fun, not for work.”
Ignoring the last comment, Harry asked, “Doesn’t that mean you owe Severus an apology?”
Sirius looked at him like he was insane. “Apologize? To Snape?”
“Yes,” Harry said. “For all of those comments you made in school about his hair. Now you know the truth.”
Sirius shook his head. “No, not that. You are suggesting that I apologize to Snape.”
Harry nodded slowly. “Yes. I would like it if you two could get along this summer.”
“I wouldn’t,” Sirius said darkly.
“Sirius,” Harry said in a imploring tone.
“Fine,” he agreed. “Only for you.”
Harry shrugged. “Everything seems to be done for me these days,” he commented as they returned to find Severus seated at the kitchen table. He had heard Harry’s comment.
“Is that not what comes from being the Boy Who Lived?” he asked snidely.
Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re up, Sirius.”
Severus looked to Sirius with an interested and challenging look on his face. Sirius shot Harry a look of misery that asked why he was being forced to do this. Harry nodded towards Severus encouragingly.
“I’m sorry,” he forced out.
Severus’s brows shot up. “For which of your various transgressions are you suddenly apologizing for, certainly of your own volition, I assume?” he said sarcastically.
Sirius looked at him strangely. He seemed unnerved by his complex way of speech. “For calling your hair greasy.”
Severus was not expecting that. He looked at Harry with what he could tell was a curious expression. To anyone else, it would have looked as blank as normal. Harry shrugged. Severus turned back to Sirius.
“What prompted this?” he asked.
“I was told that it was all because of the potions fumes.”
Severus gave a curt nod. “I suppose we can work up to you apologizing for trying to kill me.”
Sirius sat down. “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” A look of reminiscence crossed over his face as Sirius’s eyes glazed over.
Severus rolled his eyes. “I take it you have shown him to the guest room?” Severus asked of Harry.
“Yes,” Harry replied. “Midgy had it all made up. It’s like she reads minds.”
Severus nodded. “And he liked the room?”
“Yes...” Harry said slowly, wondering both why he was asking and why he did not ask Sirius directly. Harry assumed that the latter was simply because he didn’t want to talk to Sirius.
“Good,” Severus said, raising a cup of coffee to his lips.
“Why?” Harry asked, curiosity overwhelming the desire to believe that Severus wished for Sirius to be comfortable.
“I am hoping that he makes like a teenager and spends the majority of his time cooped up in his room.”
Sirius scowled from across the table. Harry cracked a smile. “Oh, come on. You guys are going to have to learn to get along.”
“Why?” they asked at the same time.
“You’re going to be here together for two months!” Harry exclaimed. “Are you going to fight the whole time?”
They shared a look. “That was the plan,” Severus said with a shrug. Sirius nodded.
“Hey, look, you’re agreeing on something,” Harry said with a grin. They instantly adopted irritated scowls. “And now you are synchronizing your facial expressions.” Two glares were shot his way. Harry laughed. “You really aren’t so different, you know.”
Sirius’s face looked like he had just stepped in a pile of owl droppings. “Yes we are. He was a Death Eater,” Sirius pointed out as if that covered everything.
Severus shot him a look that would freeze butterbeer. Sirius closed his mouth quickly.
“And don’t you forget it,” Severus said uncharacteristically.
Inexplicably, Sirius and Harry burst into laughter. A shock to all, Severus even cracked a smile. It occured to Harry that he had never seen him give a genuine laugh. He would work on that, he promised himself.
“Hey, Harry?” Sirius asked from the door of Harry’s room later that night.
“Yeah?” Harry asked, turning around to face his godfather.
“I’d like to apologize to your friend Ron,” he said.
“Didn’t you already do that?”
“Yeah,” Sirius said, “for biting his leg anyway. But I feel like I should replace his pet.”
Harry lifted a brow. “You really think he will want another rat? After what happened with the last one?”
“I was thinking an owl,” Sirius replied. “I thought maybe you could come pick one out with me.”
Harry brightened. “Alright! When do you want to go?”
Sirius shrugged. “Whenever. It’s not like I have anything to do all summer.”
“Let’s go tomorrow then,” Harry said, looking forward to it. “Should we ask Severus?”
“I am obligated to,” Sirius said bitterly.
“Why?” Harry asked, amusement playing in his tone.
“It was one of the stipulations of me staying here,” Sirius explained.
Harry chuckled. “Severus is nothing if not thorough.”
Sirius grunted. “You better ask. If I do it will be an instant ‘no’.”
“You have a point,” Harry said. “Come on.”
Harry led the way downstairs to Severus’s study. Sirius waited by the door, not entering the room. Severus was writing on a stack of papers. He looked up at Harry’s approach.
“Hey, Severus,” Harry said casually. “What’cha doing?”
“Grading O.W.L.s,” he replied. “Have a seat, if you will.”
Harry sat down and watched him give some poor kid a “Troll”. He got the feeling that he would not be the only one to receive such a grade.
“How did I do on my final?” Harry asked, genuinely curious.
“Exceeds Expectations,” Severus replied, looking up at Harry. “I commend you.”
“That wasn’t just because you were the one grading it, was it?” Harry asked suspiciously.
Severus gave Harry a flat stare. “Do you honestly think that I would go easy on you, of all people?”
“You’d make it harder, right?”
“Naturally,” Severus replied, flipping the top test over and starting on the one beneath it.
“Everyone still thinks that is the only reason I am doing good in Potions,” Harry said begrudgingly.
“And everyone thinks that I practice Dark Magic,” Severus said. “They are all fools. Besides, have they not stopped to consider that you are doing well because you essentially have a live-in tutor?”
“I guess not,” Harry said with a shrug. “You don’t tutor me.”
“No?” Severus asked, raising a brow. “Not even when we brew potions for the hospital wing and I am constantly compelled to correct you and lecture you about the improper way in which you tend to do things?”
“Oh, right,” Harry said. “Yeah, I guess you do. When are we starting that brewing this year?”
“Whenever you like. It can be postponed for a few weeks at most,” Severus replied.
“Maybe next week,” Harry said. “But as for tomorrow,” he said carefully, rounding around to the reason he was here. Harry had almost forgotten the purpose of the visit. He continued, “can Sirius and I go into Diagon Alley and get an owl for Sirius to send to Ron?”
Severus laid down his green quill and looked at Harry with an exasperated expression.
“Harry, have you thought this through?” he asked. “What do you imagine people would say when they saw someone they considered to be an escaped convict meandering down the street?”
“Oh,” Harry said. He had not considered the fact that no one knew of his innocence. “We could take the invisibility cloak.”
“Very convenient,” he said sarcastically. “I think it best if you pick the owl yourself. I will take you.”
“So Sirius won’t be allowed to leave the house all summer?” Harry asked.
“It is better than not being able to leave his cell,” Severus said, unsympathetic.
“I guess,” Harry said. He had to admit that he didn’t really see any other solution. “Okay, can we still go tomorrow?”
“Certainly,” Severus replied.
“I’ll let you finish then,” Harry said. “See you later.”
Severus merely nodded as Harry went to go tell Sirius the bad news.
Sirius waited in the hallway. The door was open and he could hear the conversation between his godson and one of his worst enemies. It was so strange. They actually seemed to get along. Though it had been several days since he found out about the adoption, Sirius still could not wrap his mind around it. Snape was so cold, so forbidding. What in Merlin’s name had made Harry pick him? A spike of jealously shot through Sirius’s heart. If only he had been free, he could have been the one there for Harry. If only he had not lost his temper and gone after Pettigrew, giving him the opportunity to frame him. He would have been the beloved father figure to his best friend’s son. Instead it was inexplicably Snape. Snape, of all people. Why couldn’t it have been Lupin? That would have been so much easier to handle.
Listening to the two of them talk now, Sirius dismissed the jealousy and slowly began to warm to the idea of the two of them as father and son, essentially. Very slowly. Harry seemed happy. He seemed comfortable. Sirius didn’t understand but perhaps he did not have to.
Harry and Severus stepped out of the Floo and into the sitting room. Sirius walked in and immediately held his hands up in a gesture of surrender.
“I didn’t burn the house down, just like you told me,” he said, a look of mocking earnest on his face. “I was a good boy.”
“Next time you are a dog, remind me to throw you a bone,” Severus muttered darkly.
Harry stepped forward carrying a small cage. “You like him?” he asked Sirius.
Sirius peered through the bars. His lips twisted. “A bit small, isn’t he?”
“I expect he will get bigger,” Harry said defensively. “I thought he was cute.”
“Let him out,” Sirius said. Under Severus’s disapproving glare, Harry unlatched the cage and like a bullet, the tiny bird took off, buzzing around the room as if he were on fire.
Sirius grinned. “I like him.”
“Good,” Harry said. “Now if you can catch him, you can send him to Ron.”
Sirius laughed his barking laugh. “That’ll be a challenge,” he said honestly.
In truth, that task alone took the majority of the afternoon but it became a game for them. Harry and Sirius worked together to corner the tiny owl but as soon as they closed in, it would take off again. Laughing, the two would follow. When at last they caught it, Sirius penned a quick note to Ron and sent it flying out the window.
When Harry collapsed into bed that night, he got the distinct feeling that this could turn out to be his best summer yet.
AN: Well, that's the end of another story! I really hope you liked it! Again, I cannot thank the people who review enough, I will only say that I hope you continue to do so! And in order to continue, I suppose I will have to write a fourth book ;) Being that it's a snow day, I should get it up in a few hours and it will be called Child Of Innocence. I implore you to keep reading and reviewing! Thank you all so much!
EDIT: Child of Innocence is up! Check it out through my profile page.