Whenever Sirius and Harry had a chance to be alone together, during their time at Grimmauld Place, Sirius would always indulge Harry by speaking about his parents.
The kid just couldn’t get enough of listening to things that they had done. It made Sirius happy, to no end, to see Harry actually smile, but he was more interested in knowing more about his Godson’s life before he came into it.
He decided, one afternoon, to start grilling Harry about his first few years in the magical community.
With much coaxing, Harry finally admitted “My aunt and uncle tried to stop my letters from coming in my first year.”
Sirius sighed; he expected as much from Petunia, he had met her once briefly, long enough to know what type of woman she was, anyway.
Harry looked so uncomfortable with is confession that Sirius figured he should share some of his family’s insanity to reassure him that he wasn’t alone “I know how you feel. My dear old mum tried to stop my letters from coming in my second year. She figured if I didn’t get my letter I wouldn’t be a Gryffindor. Idiot.”
Harry laughed along with Sirius before saying “You should have seen their faces when even the place where I slept changed on the envelope when I moved out of-” Harry cut himself off quickly, suddenly hyper-aware that he had never told anybody about where he had slept for the best part of ten years of his life.
“Out of where?”
“Er… nowhere, I just moved rooms after my first letter came.”
But Sirius wasn’t easily fooled “You’re an awful liar Harry. Even worse than James.”
“It was nothing” Harry hastened to assure his Godfather.
Sirius rolled his eyes “Which means it was something. Where did you sleep before you moved Harry? You can tell me.”
“I don’t want to tell you because it doesn’t matter!” Harry snapped hotly, lashing out defensively.
Not swayed whatsoever by his Godson’s behaviour, Sirius replied gently “It matters to me.”
“Would it make a difference if I said I didn’t want to talk about it?” Harry asked flatly.
“Absolutely not” Sirius replied cheerfully “You think I spent all those years badgering Remus to stop being such a closed book for nothing?” Sirius asked smugly “so why don’t you just tell me and save us both the pain of me constantly having to harassing you for the rest of your life.”
Harry turned the thought over in his mind, he could tell just by looking at him that Sirius wasn’t bluffing. Harry sighed. “The cupboard under the stairs” he breathed, so quietly that Sirius barely heard him.
Sirius’ eyebrows contracted, unsure he understood his Godson “what about it?” he asked.
Careful to avoid Sirius’ eyes he said “that’s where I slept until I was eleven.”
“Where?” Sirius questioned leaning further across the table, unable to believe what he was hearing.
“You heard me” Harry said beginning to get defensive again. Sirius could almost hear the mental walls, which Harry had just begun to let down around him, suddenly bang shut again.
Sirius attempted to hold down the fury he that flared up inside of him at finding the child who he often thought of as his own son had been forced to sleep in a cupboard for ten years.
He wanted to spring out of his chair, hunt down the Dursley’s then go and find Dumbledore. But any of those options would only serve to panic his Godson more so he held himself to his seat and forced himself to focus on the surly looking teenager sitting across from him, who was glaring down at the table, hating himself for looking vulnerable.
Sirius took a deep and shaky breath “why?” he asked as calmly as possible.
Harry didn’t need any clarification “They hated me, what I was… they said something about trying to stamp the magic out of me” he mumbled indifferently, still avoiding his Godfathers gaze.
Sirius felt as if a bucket of icy water had been dumped over his head.
“Sta-stam-stamp it out of you?” he choked out in horror, the colour completely draining from his face “don’t they know how dangerous that is?!”
“Honestly I don’t think they’d care” Harry replied blandly before he could stop himself “I’m fine though.” he added quickly “so it doesn’t really matter.”
“Doesn’t really matter? Of course it matters! Why wouldn’t it matter?”
“It never mattered before” he mumbled.
“Well it matters to me. I never want to see you get hurt, I care about you Harry, you know that right?” it had been a rhetorical question but Harry hesitated as if he were considering all the possible answers.
This was wrong.
Harry knows how much he loved him right?
Surely Sirius had told his Godson that he loved him!
But there he was, sitting there trying to think of the right answer to a question that shouldn’t need one.
“Harry… you-you are the most important person in my life. You’re like a son to me and I love you more than you could ever believe” Harry looked disbelievingly at him “ever since the day you were born, no, the day I knew you were on your way I loved you. You have to know that!”
“Nobody’s ever said that to me” Harry admitted quietly.
“That they love me.”
Sirius felt like he couldn’t breathe, his hands balled up into fists. His Godson was fifteen years old and nobody had ever told him that they loved him. Even with his crummy family Sirius had still been told he was loved well before that age, by Regulus and Andy and even James had said it when Sirius had gotten him out of his first ever detention.
Even though he spent the remaining seven years of their friendship getting him into detention.
Sirius couldn’t believe he had let this slip by him. He had always just assumed Harry knew that people loved him, that HE loved him. He was a failure as a Godfather.
When Remus found out he was going to blow a gasket.
“You are so loved Harry” Sirius started uncertainly, stressing the words so that Harry would believe him. He’d never been in a situation like this, he never thought he would be, kids were supposed to just know that their par-Godparent loved them “I don’t want you to ever forget that”
Harry looked away from him again but Sirius could see the beginning of a watery smile on his Godson’s face.
“I should have told you sooner” Sirius added grimly, his expression darkened “and I think I’m going to have a word with the Dursley’s… after my name is cleared” he tacked on with a sigh after seeing Harry’s panic at the prospect of him venturing out of the safety of Grimmauld Place.
How could such a wonderful, caring kid think that he was unloved?
“Thanks Sirius. You’ve kind of helped already anyway” Harry said with a sly smile “I told the Dursley’s that my Godfather broke out of prison to kill a man but that you liked to keep in touch with me and check that I was happy. Now they pretty much leave me alone.”
Sirius roared with laughter “you’ll be a Marauder yet. Good on you Harry!”
Though it was hard for Sirius to drop the issue of the Dursley’s negligence and obvious child abuse, he knew that Harry did not want to talk about his home life in the least. So he kept laughing and joking with his Godson, telling him stories about his parents and embarrassing moments from his youth.
But Sirius knew this was far from over. He would be having a word with Dumbledore, a loud word, about Harry’s home life.
Dumbledore was about to find out the meaning of an angry parent.
But for now Sirius was content to spend as many good times with his surrogate son as he possibly could, learning about his first two years of school, which couldn’t possibly be as bad as his third or fourth, and feeling content in the fact that his Godson had at least two normal, moderately Dursley-free, years of school before he started on his adventures