“Sirius?” Remus’ confused voice sounded from the doorway. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Sirius responded, carefully placing a knife and fork on either side of one of the plates on the table. “I’m setting the table for breakfast.”
“Yes, but why?” Remus’ tone was longsuffering and it reminded Sirius of all the times Remus had asked him and James that question when they had been at school.
Sirius grinned. “Harry will be down soon. I want everything to be perfect!”
“It’s just breakfast.” Remus pointed out.
“I know,” Sirius agreed. “But it’s his first breakfast living with us. I wanted to make him breakfast myself, but the elves were horrified at the idea. So we compromised.”
Remus frowned. “The elves didn’t want you to cook breakfast? You’re not that bad of a cook, are you?”
“Well it has been twelve years.” Sirius told him. “But I think they’d be horrified if anyone wanted to cook. It’s their job, you know?”
“Not really.” Remus shook his head. “I’ve never really had anything to do with house elves.”
“Oh,” Sirius stepped away from the table and studied it critically. Then he moved toward it again and straightened a knife. “House elves are very attached to their work and don’t like to feel as though they’ve failed in anyway. Me cooking, would have made them feel as though they had failed.”
“But they don’t mind you setting the table?” Remus asked.
Sirius winced. “I think they’d rather I didn’t, but I talked them around.”
“Because you wanted everything to be perfect for Harry.” Remus said blankly.
Sirius gave his friend a wry grin. “Well, maybe not perfect. If I had wanted to perfect I would have let the house elves do it. I just wanted to do something to welcome him.”
Remus smiled warmly. “Fair enough. I think that fork’s crooked.”
Sirius’s gaze swung to where Remus was pointing and he quickly straightened the fork in question. “Thanks.”
“Harry’s coming.” Remus told him, moving out of the doorway.
“Oh,” Sirius’s stomach clenched nervously. “What should I do?”
“Act normally.” Remus answered.
Sirius wasn’t sure he could. Harry was here, living with him, finally! It was the most exciting thing that had happened since he’d been released from Azkaban, and the most terrifying. What if he screwed it up? What if Harry hated him? What if the discriminating attitudes that Sirius had been working so hard to get rid of came back and alienated Harry?
Harry appeared at the doorway and Sirius took a moment to take the sight of his godson. Harry was so tall! He was only twelve and was only about five inches shorter than Sirius. He had James’ hair, though it looked more ordered than James’ ever had, and Lily’s eyes, but he looked more like a Black than anything. Not entirely surprising, given that his grandmother had been a Black.
“Merry meet, Sirius, Remus.” Harry greeted them formally, as he bowed to Sirius.
Sirius wanted to tell him not to do that – even if he hadn’t hated traditionalism since he was eleven, he would have hated the idea of Harry treating him so formally – but he didn’t want Harry to think that he was discriminating against traditional culture. He wanted his godson to trust him and if that meant allowing some traditional behaviour, then so be it. The whole traditional versus non-traditional argument was seeming less and less important every day anyway.
“Merry meet, Harry.” Sirius nodded in acknowledgement.
“Merry meet.” Remus parroted.
“Come have a seat.” Sirius commanded his godson.
“Yes, sir.” Harry moved quickly to obey.
Sirius frowned. The bowing he could put up with, but ‘sir’? “Don’t call me sir, I’m just Sirius.”
Harry’s eyes widened slightly. “Yes, si-Sirius. Sorry.”
“Breakfast?” Remus suggested gently as he sat opposite Harry.
“Right.” Sirius sat at the head of the table. “Lindy?”
Lindy, a young female house elf that Narcissa had acquired for Grimmauld Place, immediately appeared beside him. “Master Black be calling Lindy, sir?”
“We would like some breakfast.” Sirius told her. “I’ll have my usual. Remus?”
“I’ll have my usual too.” Remus answered.
“Harry?” Sirius prompted.
Harry was smiling at the elf. “I’ll have some cereal and milk please, Lindy.”
Lindy’s ears drooped slightly. “Master’s Heir is just wanting cereal and milk?”
“Well,” Harry answered slowly. “Normally I just have cereal and milk because it’s healthy. Do you have any other ideas of a healthy food I could have?”
Lindy tilted her head to the side. “Lindy could be getting Master’s Heir a fruit smoothie?”
Harry smiled. “That sounds wonderful, Lindy, thank you.”
Lindy’s eyes grew wet. “Master’s Heir is too kind. Lindy be getting Masters’ food.”
Sirius waited until the elf had popped away before turning to his godson. “Very smooth. Do you have a lot of experience with house elves?”
“A little.” Harry answered. “I visit with the Hogwarts’ elves about once a week and I’ve gotten to know one of them really well.”
“You’ve found the kitchens?” Sirius asked in surprise.
Harry smiled. “Yes. The Weasley twins introduced them to me when I was a first year.”
“The Weasley twins?” Sirius asked, he inwardly winced at the relief he was feeling to hear Harry mention friends from a non-traditional, light house. He forcibly squashed down the relief – there was nothing wrong with traditionalism or dark magic.
“Fred and George Weasley.” Harry explained. “I don’t their parents’ names, sorry.”
“Arthur and Molly.” Remus supplied for him. “He was a seventh year when we were first years.”
Sirius frowned. “They were in the Order weren’t they?”
Remus winced and glanced pointedly towards Harry who, now that Sirius thought about it, probably wasn’t supposed to know anything about the Order of the Phoenix. “Yes, they were. Molly was a Prewett before she married Arthur.”
“A Prewett?” Harry asked in surprise before looking uncomfortable when Sirius and Remus both turned their attention back to him. “Sorry.”
“No need to apologise.” Sirius told him. “Do you know the Prewetts?”
“They’ve died out, haven’t they?” Harry asked. “Their House is unclaimed.”
Sirius’s stomach dropped horribly at the reminder that Fabian and Gideon were dead. He’d forgotten.
Their breakfast appeared suddenly on the table in front of them but, despite how delicious it looked, Sirius didn’t feel so hungry anymore.
“So you know Arthur and Molly’s sons then?” Remus asked Harry gently.
“Some of them.” Harry answered, his tone cautious. “They have seven children. I only really know Fred and George, they were both fourth years this year.”
“Are they the oldest?” Remus asked.
“No, sir.” Harry shook his head. “First there is Bill, then Charlie, then Percy, and then the twins.”
“And the other two?”
“Ron is in my year.” Harry sighed. “He’s really annoying, and Ginny is a year younger than me.”
“You said the house was unclaimed?” Sirius asked suddenly. “Why hasn’t Bill claimed it?”
“I don’t know, sorry, sir.” Harry winced. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine.” Sirius forced a smile. “How is your smoothie?”
Harry looked down at the large orange smoothie in front of him, before sucking some through the straw. “It’s very nice, thank you.”
“And probably even healthier than cereal.” Sirius pointed out. “I can’t remember ever caring about the healthiness of food when I was your age.”
Remus snorted in amusement. “I can’t remember you ever caring the healthiness of food, full stop.”
Harry gave Remus a shy, but amused smile, before turning back to Sirius. “Normally I run in the morning, before breakfast, so I don’t really feel like eating anything too fatty.”
“You run?” Sirius asked, he couldn’t remember anyone running at Hogwarts when he was there. “Is that something a lot of students do?”
“Just three of us, sir.” Harry answered.
“You, Draco and Luna?” Sirius guessed.
“No, sir.” Harry shook his head. “I run with Takashi Nado, he’s a fifth year, and Neville Longbottom, Heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom.”
“I don’t think you mentioned them in your letters.” Sirius commented, ignoring the relief that had resurfaced at the sound of the name Longbottom
“Sorry.” Harry said apologetically before drinking from his smoothie again.
“I don’t think I know the name Nado.” Sirius commented. “Is he a muggleborn?”
“No, he’s from Japan.” Harry answered. “I think his family is a noble house over there, but I’m not sure. They’re definitely traditional and I think they’re very rich.”
“Who else do you spend time with at school?” Sirius asked curiously.
“Well, there’s Neville and Takashi,” Harry said. “And Draco, Luna, Theo Nott, Daphne Greengrass, Blaise Zabini, and sometimes the other Slytherins, Tracey Davis, Greg Goyle and Vincent Crabbe, and Pansy Parkinson.”
Sirius nodded as he remembered having read most of those names in the letter Harry had sent him to report Pansy’s inappropriate behaviour.
“Are any of them in Ravenclaw with you?” Remus asked.
“Takashi is,” Harry said. “And so is Luna, she’s a first year.”
Sirius frowned in sudden thought. “What about the kids in your year? Didn’t you hang out with them? I remember you writing to me about them.”
Harry expression barely changed, but Sirius, who had grown up around people who could hide their emotions far better than Harry could, noticed that his godson looked upset.
“I used to.” Harry answered flatly. “But not anymore.”
Sirius opened his mouth to question him further, but quickly closed it again when Remus kicked him in the leg. He turned to glare at his friend, but Remus just shook his head sharply. Okay, so, no questioning Harry about why he didn’t hang out with his friends anymore. What else could he ask him?
“So you said you usually run in the morning, Harry?” Remus asked. “Do you like to run during the summer as well, or do you take a break?”
Harry looked surprised. “I’d like to run during the summer,” He said, before flicking his eyes towards Sirius and quickly adding. “If that’s alright with you, sir, I mean, Sirius. It’s alright if you don’t want me to.”
Sirius frowned, unsure why Harry thought he would mind. “It’s fine, go for it.”
“Would you mind if I joined you, Harry?” Remus asked cautiously. “I like to run in the morning too.”
Sirius looked at in friend incredulously. Since when did Remus run?
“Of course, sir.” Harry said quickly.
“Just Remus, Harry.” Remus reminded his gently.
Harry ducked his head. “Sorry.”
“So, Harry,” Sirius started with a bit of forced cheer. “What are you plans for the day?”
Harry glancing towards him nervously. “I don’t know. Is there anything you would like me to do for you, Sirius?”
Sirius shook his head. “Well, it would be great to spend some time with you. Get to know you a bit better.”
“I’d like that.” Harry’s smile was shy.
“And Narcissa has invited the three of us over for dinner.” Sirius added before frowning in sudden thought. “Do you need any new robes?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, sir. I’ve completely outgrown most of my old ones.”
“I need some too.” Sirius admitted, deciding to ignore the honorific. “How would you feel about a shopping trip after breakfast?”
“Yes, sir-Sirius.” Harry agreed obediently.
Sirius sighed quietly, he wished Harry felt comfortable enough to drop the formality around him.
Waking up in his own bed, in his own room, in his godfather’s house was a wonderful experience. Harry could only remember sleeping in three places, his cupboard, Dudley’s second bedroom, and his dorm room at Hogwarts and none of them had been as comfortable as his new room. There was also something amazing about being about to claim a room as his. Sirius had even told him that he could redecorate it however he liked. Harry didn’t think he would, he liked the grey walls.
The first thing he did after waking up, was test his Occlumency city. It still felt very fragile, as would be expected after the way it had been attacked the night before, but it seemed to have recovered some overnight. He spent the next hour strengthening the most damaged parts. Then he got out of bed to go for his run, before remembering that he wasn’t sure whether or not Sirius would let him. So he climbed back onto his bed and spent another hour strengthening his city, before getting dressed and heading down to breakfast.
Breakfast was great. Sirius and Remus were incredibly nice and, while there were some awkward silences, Harry couldn’t help but be delighted that this was his life now. He was cautious as well though. As nice as Sirius was, Harry had no idea how he would react if Harry upset him. Harry doubted Sirius would be like Uncle Vernon, if only because wizards didn’t seem to like to get their hands dirty, but there were plenty of spells that Sirius could cast on him in punishment – spells that Harry wanted to avoid.
So he was as polite as he could be, inwardly wincing whenever he would slip up and accidently call either of the men ‘sir’. They always looked disgruntled when he did that.
After breakfast, Sirius sent him back upstairs to get ready for their shopping trip and Harry spent a few minutes staring at the robes hanging in his closet. Which one should he wear? Because he’d grown so much, there were only two to choose from: the dark green one or the purple one that Cousin Narcissa had insisted he buy (since purple was the colour of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter). The green one was his favourite, but he knew that most people regarded it as the colour of Slytherin (understandably, since it was the colour of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Slytherin) and he didn’t want to upset Sirius who hated all things Slytherin. He wished that he hadn’t grown out of his wine coloured robes that represented the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black.
Harry pulled down the purple robes and laid them out on his bed. He just had to keep reminding himself the purple wasn’t a girly colour in the wizarding world – well, not among traditionalists anyway, which Sirius wasn’t. Harry groaned, he just couldn’t win. Still, Sirius was still more likely to get upset over the green robes than the purples ones, so Harry would just have to go with the girly option.
Once dressed, Harry turned his attention to his hair and quickly arranged it the way Cousin Narcissa had taught him to. Then, wand securely in its holster, and his sleeves carefully rolled up since he couldn’t spell them that way, he descended the stairs to meet Sirius and Remus.
“Very nice.” Sirius nodded approvingly, though he looked slightly amused as well. “Narcissa’s influence I presume?”
“Yes.” Harry acknowledged, stopping just out of arms reach from his godfather and bowing.
“Are you ready?” Sirius asked.
Harry nodded in agreement and then followed Sirius through to the room with the floo.
“We’re going to Diagon Alley.” Sirius told him. “Remus will go first, then you, then I’ll follow.”
Robe shopping with Sirius and Remus was an interesting experience. Sirius had led Harry to the same robe makers that Cousin Narcissa had taken him to the year before and then had grimaced when the seamstresses all curtsied to him.
“Merry meet, Lord Black.” Madame Krail greeted him almost reverently.
“Merry meet.” Sirius nodded briskly. “Have you met my heir?”
Madame Krail’s attention shifted from Sirius to Harry and she bowed again, though this time not as deeply. “Merry meet, Mr. Potter.”
“Merry meet.” Harry nodded in acknowledgement.
“And this is my good friend Remus Lupin.” Sirius went on. “We all need new wardrobes.”
Remus frowned at Sirius disapprovingly. “I don’t.”
“Yes, you do.” Sirius returned.
“Sirius!” Remus glared at his friend.
Sirius sighed and turned back to Madame Krail. “Why don’t you get started on Harry’s robes? Remus and I will just be a minute.”
“Of course, my lord.” Madame Krail agreed as Sirius all but pulled Remus out of the shop.
Harry’s measurements had already been taken by the time Sirius and Remus returned, so while the two men had their measurements taken, he looked through the catalogue he had been given and chose different styles of robes. Apparently a wardrobe meant fifteen different robes, in addition to everything else that came with it, which meant that he had to choose different styles.
Harry frowned at the book in frustration. There hardly seemed to be any difference between some of the robes. He knew he wanted some open robes, for wearing clothes underneath, as well as some closed robes, but there were so many of each option to choose from.
“How’s it going?” Sirius asked, sitting in the seat next to him.
Harry flinched, how had he not heard his godfather coming? “They all look the same, sir.”
Sirius chuckled. “Yeah, that’s what I used to say. Let me see.”
Harry handed him the book and watched in amusement as Sirius looked down at the book and grimaced.
“It’s like looking at four of the same robe.” Sirius agreed, before leaning closer and lowering his voice. “You know that closed robes are supposed to be worn with nothing underneath, right?”
“Yes, sir.” Harry glanced nervously at him. “Would you rather I only wore open robes?”
Sirius shook his head. “No, it’s fine, so long as you know. And it’s Sirius, remember?”
Harry closed his eyes in frustration as he nodded. Why couldn’t he get this right? Why did he keep breaking one of the only rules Sirius had given him so far. “Sorry, Sirius.”
“It’s fine.” Sirius smiled. “So, what robes were you thinking of getting?”
In the end, Harry chose eight open robes and seven closed ones – each of them different in some way. He made sure to get some more purple and wine coloured ones, before buying the rest in different shades of grey. There was no point in buying green robes if he would be too worried about upsetting Sirius to wear them.
Sirius’ robes were all open, except for two: one for Wizengamot meetings and one for very formal occasions. Remus had apparently managed to talk Sirius down from a whole wardrobe since he only ordered three robes, all of which were open.
After having finished ordering their robes, Sirius took them to a small teashop for morning tea.
After they had ordered, Remus spoke up. “Harry, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Not at all.” Harry answered quickly, he was fast coming to like the older man.
“Why did you decide to be traditional?” Remus asked.
Harry glanced towards Sirius worriedly, but his godfather just smiled and nodded encouragingly.
“I grew up mostly in the muggle world, you see.” Remus explained. “My dad was a wizard, but my mum was a muggle and, since dad was untraditional, I’d never even heard of traditionalism until I went to Hogwarts. I met Sirius and your dad there, we were dorm mates, and they were traditional, until they weren’t, but I just thought they were a bit odd…”
“And snobbish.” Sirius put in. “You thought we were snobby elitist toffs.”
“And I can’t ever remember wanting to learn how to be traditional too.” Remus continued as though Sirius hadn’t spoken. “But obviously it was different for you?”
“Yes.” Harry admitted as calmly as he could. He paused, trying to decide what to say.
“When did you first decide you were interested in being traditional?” Remus asked.
Harry thought about it. “On my eleventh birthday, I think. I was on my way back to the Dursleys after Hagrid had taken me to Diagon Alley for the first time and I was reading one of the books that Baknog had recommended to me on the train.”
“Hold up.” Sirius interrupted with frown. “Who is Baknog?”
“He’s the goblin who manages the Potter Accounts.” Harry explained.
“And he recommended some books to you?”
Harry smiled. “Yes. I think he must have figured out that I knew absolutely nothing about the magical world, so he gave me list of books that would be helpful.”
“So what book were you reading?” Remus asked curiously.
Harry frowned. “I think it must have been ‘History and Customs of the British Wizarding Community’ by Ophelia Macmillan. It was really interesting. It talked about the magical royal family, but it didn’t explain why they had been overthrown. I never ended up asking anyone about that.”
“Were you taught about the French Revolution in elementary school?” Remus asked.
“It was connected to that.” Remus told him. “When the French muggles overthrew their monarchy, magical France decided to do the same. A dark French wizard cursed the Maison Ancienne et Royal Carolingienne, the House of the French Royalty, and, unfortunately, the British Royal Family, the Ancient and Royal House of Wendex was so connected to them that the majority of them were affected by the curse as well. The few remaining members of the Magical English Royal family were later killed by assassins.”
“You can do that?” Harry asked in horror. “Curse entire Houses?”
“Only if you’re willing to sacrifice your life and the lives of your entire House to do so.” Sirius answered seriously.
That sounded awful to Harry. He couldn’t think why anyone would be willing to sacrifice their family just to kill off another family.
“So you were reading this book…” Remus prompted him.
“And it mentioned that the magical world had different customs.” Harry answered. “Which made a lot of sense to me and I decided I wanted to learn them to make sure that I fit in.”
“But you must have realised pretty quickly that most people don’t actually follow the customs.” Sirius pointed out.
Harry didn’t actually agree with that. From what he had seen, around half of the magical world were traditional, but he wasn’t going to argue with Sirius.
“It just seemed respectful to learn them.” Harry explained. “And I liked the idea of the magical world being different to the muggle one.”
“And you don’t find them stifling?” Sirius asked.
“No,” Harry denied quickly. “They make sense to me. I like them.”
Remus looked considering. “And what do you think about people like me and Sirius who aren’t traditional.”
Harry glanced nervously at Sirius again.
“It’s alright.” Sirius told him with a small smile. “I won’t get upset.”
“It doesn’t make a difference to me.” Harry said carefully. “I think everyone should get a choice and should be respected for the choice that they make. I really like Draco, and he’s my best friend, but sometimes he can be a bit…snobby about things. I don’t mind if people aren’t traditional, but I guess I don’t really understand why people wouldn’t be. There’s this girl in my year, Granger. She’s a muggleborn and when I hear her talking it’s as though she thinks that everything in the magical world should be the same as the muggle world.”
“But you don’t agree?” Remus asked curiously.
“No.” Harry answered. “I think that every country is different. Takashi is from Japan and they do things really different there, and it would be completely unreasonable for me to go to Japan and expect everything there to be the same as it is here.”
“That’s a good point.” Remus nodded slowly. “But, let’s say, that hypothetically, Japan was to have less effective medicine than we do. Wouldn’t it make sense for them to start using some of our medicine?”
Harry nodded. “It would, but you’re presuming that the muggle world is better than our world. I think they’re just different.”
Sirius frowned. “So you don’t think the muggle world has anything to offer the magical world?”
Harry’s stomach clenched nervously. It had been a lot easier when Remus was the one asking questions. The last thing Harry wanted to do was disagree with his godfather.
“I think they do, sir.” Harry answered carefully. “But that doesn’t mean that our culture has to be exactly like theirs. Take ballpoint pens for example. Writing assignments would be a lot easier if we could use them, but just because they’re better than quills doesn’t mean that we should do everything the ways the muggles do.”
“And yet it is traditional people who refuse to even consider using ballpoint pens.” Sirius retorted.
Harry winced inwardly at Sirius’ tone. Whenever Uncle Vernon had sounded like that pain had quickly followed. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
“I think it’s because they are scared, sir.” Harry answered as politely as he could. “They’re scared that if they agree to some muggle things untraditional people will change everything.”
“That makes sense.” Remus said slowly. “You seem to have really thought about this.”
“I’ve done a lot of research.” Harry explained. “Last year Draco and I were having a lot of arguments about muggles and I did a lot of research so that I would be able to convince him that they weren’t all that bad.”
“And did you?” Sirius asked.
“Yes.” Harry grinned. “Cousin Narcissa agreed to take Draco and me to the muggle world three times to show him around. I took him to the movies and then we got to ride in a race car. He hasn’t really insulted muggles since.”
“Impressive.” Sirius grinned back.
Judging his godfather to be in a good mood, Harry spoke again. “We were hoping to take Luna to see a movie this summer, sir. If that is alright with you of course.”
“That sounds like a great idea!” Sirius beamed. “Doesn’t it, Moony?”
“Definitely.” Remus nodded in agreement.
“Just let me know when, pup.” Sirius said enthusiastically. “And I’ll make it happen.”
Harry smiled shyly at his godfather, inwardly astonished at how easy that had been. Uncle Vernon would never have agreed to let him go to the movies. But then Uncle Vernon wouldn’t have taken Harry robes shopping, let alone out for morning tea.
He wasn’t sure why Sirius had called him ‘pup’ though. He’d never heard of anyone use that term for anyone. He wondered what it meant.