A Midnight Ride
Author's Note: The world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling, and to the publishing
houses of Bloomsbury and Scholastic. I do not have, or pretend to have, any rights to her
A Midnight Ride
Lyrics to Ilkley Moor BahtAt courtesy of Johnathon Sanderson.
Cheers to two of my ever-wonderful beta-readers, Dr. C and soupytwist, for laughs,
support, and (in soupys case) defense of Marmite. Cheers again to Mistral, for
helping me to tear everything apart and put it back together.
"I had a dream about a motorbike," said Harry, remembering suddenly. "It
-Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
With a resounding crash,
Sirius brought his motorbike down by the Potters garden wall, missing Lilys
prized rosebushes by mere inches. As he skidded to a halt, the back tyre kicked up a
shower of leaves and dirt. In one fluid movement, he switched off the ignition and swung
his leg over the bike, then bounded up the back steps, where he caught sight in the window
of a copper-haired woman searching frantically through a kitchen cupboard.
Sirius flung open the door, and was greeted by a small scream as Lily
jumped in fright, sending a glass jar flying into the air. Sirius dove forward, catching
it just before it hit the floor.
"Well, it serves you right, barging in here like that." Lily
stepped over him to snatch the jar out of his hands. "When will you learn to knock,
like normal people?"
"Wheres the fun in that?" he said, wheezing as he rolled
onto his back and pulled himself to his feet.
Lily slammed the cupboard shut and began to rummage through the next
one. "So you think its fun, scaring me half to death? Ill have to
Sirius longed to tell her that hed always thought so, but
something in her demeanor made him tactfully decide against it. "Er, sorry,
Lils," he began. "I figured youd heard me land out there. Youre
always telling me what a racket the bike makes. In fact, I believe your exact phrasing had
something to do with Erumpents and a china shop."
She didnt smile.
"Im sure you made plenty of noise," she said irritably.
"Only the kitchens sound-proofedah, there it is!" With a sigh
of relief, she pulled a bottle of dark amber liquid from the depths of the cupboard. She
uncorked it, took a healthy swig, and promptly choked. After coughing violently for a
moment, she set down the bottle and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Finally,
with a deep, ragged breath, she sank against the counter and turned to face Sirius. For
the first time, he could see how haggard and drained Lily appeared. Her skin was pasty,
and large black circles bulged under her eyes.
"Sound-proofed?" he repeated. "For Merlins
sake, Lily, whats going on here?"
For a moment, she studied him through slitted eyes, then grabbed her
wand from the counter and flicked it once. Immediately, a dreadful keening noise filled
the kitchen. Sirius winced and clamped his hands over his ears. He waited to uncover them
until Lily had replaced the silencing charm. She tossed her wand aside and reached for the
Sirius swallowed hard. "Please tell me that was some new breed of
non-fatal Mandrake youre trying to grow."
"That was my son." Seeing his face grow pale, she
handed him the bottle. Sirius took a long sip, grimaced, and handed it back to her.
"What is this stuff? Firewhiskey?"
"Not quite. Same immediate effects, though. Its a restorative
draught. Jamess mothers recipe."
"It would have to be. That woman had a potion for everything, bless
her soul, and none of them tasted good." He jerked his thumb towards the hallway.
"How longs he been doing this?"
"Long enough. I havent properly slept in days."
"Days?" Sirius jaw dropped. "Id have put a Pacifying Charm on him after the first hour."
Lily looked scandalised. "You cant put a spell like that on a baby!"
"Why not? My mother always did."
"And look how you turned out!"
Sirius raised his eyebrows at this, but Lily went on. "My son is not
a fussy baby. Harry wouldnt carry on like this unless there was a good reason for
He looked at her skeptically. "Great theory. Whys he
Lily threw her hands in the air. "Thats the kicker. I
havent the faintest idea."
"Is he hungry?"
"Doesnt seem to be."
"Have you changed his nappy?"
"Is he teething?"
"Bit early for that, dont you think? No, hes a healthy,
dry, well-fed baby whos been howling his head off for three daysand no amount
of cajoling or cuddling seems to be changing his mind."
"Its probably just a bit of colic."
"Bit of colic, my foot, as my mother used to say. There
must be a better explanation."
"Hmm." Sirius rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Is it
supposed to rain?"
"It might, why?"
"Congratulations. Your son is half-Augurey."
"Sirius!" Lily threw a tea towel at him.
"Relax, Lily! He probably just feels like screaming."
Lily banged the bottle on the counter. "Right. And you can go and
help James change his mind." She shoved him towards the door.
"Are you sure, Lily? I could"
With a deep breath, Sirius squared his shoulders and ventured into the
hall. The moment he crossed the threshold, he was able to hear the extent of young
Harrys cries. He winced at the sheer volume of it. How can one child possibly
make so much noise? he wondered. With a pained look, he poked his head into the living
room, where he could see James seated in the old leather armchair, bouncing his
unrelenting son on his knees.
Wheear as tha been since ah saw thee? On Ilkley
Moor bahtat. " James was singing, his voice barely audible above the din.
"Whatre you doing, sticking him with pins?" called
James squinted across the room at Sirius, who was leaning casually
against the doorframe with his arms folded across his chest. "Huh?"
"I said, STOP SINGING, YOURE SCARING THE
KID!" Sirius bellowed over the noise, crossing to the sofa opposite his friend
and the squalling child.
James stopped Harry mid-bounce. "Ha ha, Black. Very funny," he
said, wearily rubbing the bridge of his nose, beneath his glasses. Suddenly he gave a
start, looking up at Sirius as though hed just noticed him. "Hang on, when did
you get here?" He cocked his head. "It is still Friday, isnt it?"
"Last I checked."
"You didnt answer the fire."
James laughed mirthlessly. "You could have set off Filibuster
Fireworks in the grate, and I still wouldnt have heard. Lily send you in here?"
"Yup. Shes holed up in the kitchen with a Silencing Charm and
a bottle of Mrs. Potters Liquid Cure-All."
"Uh-oh. I topped it up with Ogdens six months ago. Come to
think of it, thats probably not such a bad idea, either
Siriuss mouth twitched in annoyance. "I wanted to talk to
"Talk." James snorted. "Fat chance of that happening
"I see that now." He leaned down to Harry. "Look, kid,
could you shut up for a minute? Thats getting really irritating."
"If only it were that easy. What do you think Ive been trying
to do all this time?"
"Dunno, but its obviously not working. Give him to me."
Sirius held out his arms. "Cmon, he behaves for his Uncle Sirius."
"Dont you dare, James," came a voice from behind him.
The men looked up to see Lily leaning against the back of the sofa. "This man
cant even be trusted to shut a door behind him." She pointed an accusing finger
at Sirius. "Youve filled my kitchen with moths!"
"Whoops," said Sirius. He looked imploringly at James, who was
Still chuckling, James turned to look up at his wife. "Ive an
idea. Why dont you take a turn with Harry, and Ill just nip into the
"Not so fast, dear," Lily said, coming around to perch on the
arm of the chair.
"I think what shes saying," said Sirius, chuckling,
"is that shed rather have a room full of bugs than spend five minutes with a
"No, what Im saying is that you let the damn things in, so
youre going to be the one responsible for their removal."
"This child is obviously suffering, and you want to bicker about
who kills moths?" Sirius shook his head in mock disbelief. "You call yourself a
Lily rounded on him, horrified. "And whats that supposed to
Taken aback by her outburst, Sirius put up his hands. "Im
just saying, Lily, if I didnt know you better, Id say you needed to get your
"Oh, Ive got my priorities, all right," she said,
ticking them off on her fingers. "Peace. And quiet."
"You know, all it takes is one Pacifying Charm"
"Yeah, Mother of the Year, thatd make me." She rolled
her eyes and exchanged a bemused look with her husband, who smirked back at her.
"This from the man who thought watching the baby meant swinging him
around the room."
Sirius felt his face flush as the couple screamed with laughter.
"He loved it!" he protested.
"He was sick all over Peter."
Their guffaws ringing in his ears, Sirius stood up, plucked Harry out of
his fathers hands and cradled him in his arms. He cooed softly to his godson, who
wrapped his fist around the end of Sirius finger. With a hiccup, Harry fell silent.
The laughter broke off as James and Lilys heads snapped up.
"How did you do that?" James hissed, incredulous. Beside him, Lily gasped
and clapped her hands to her mouth.
Slightly astonished himself, Sirius beamed at them, then smiled down at
the small child, gently patting his back. A pair of bright eyes blinked back at him. Out
of the corner of his eye, he saw Lily grab her husbands hand and give it a squeeze.
Harry took a deep breath
and promptly began to wail again.
The three adults slumped, crestfallen. "Well, it was worth a try
anyway," sighed Lily, as James groaned and reached for their son. Sirius, though,
twisted away. "No, youve been dealing with this long enough. Im taking
him off your hands, just for a little while." Carefully, he turned to leave.
"Where do you think youre taking him?" Lily leapt to her
"For a ride. I think itll calm him."
"Are you sure thats a good idea?" James asked, coming up
behind his wife and putting his hands on her shoulders.
"Dont worry, Ill make sure he doesnt hit the
ground right away."
Lilys eyes grew very wide, her throat making involuntary
"Thats not what I meant," said James. "Is it
safe? I mean, for him to be"
"Hell be fine, James. Take Lily, get some sleep."
Sirius shifted Harry and headed out of the room. "Dont wait up!" he called
over his shoulder.
"Thank you," Jamess face relaxed somewhat. "Come,
dear, we can kip on the couch for an hour or so."
"Im not so sure I can sleep now." Lilys
hands twisted nervously.
"Who are you kidding? Youll be snoring the second you lie
down." He stroked her cheek with the back of his hand. "Dont worry
yourself, hes in good hands."
"I know, but still
" her voice trailed off as she watched
the doorway Sirius and Harry had vanished through.
"Lily, dear, do I need to give you more of Mums
She laughed and swatted James playfully across the chest.
Sirius brought the bike down with a gentle bump. Immediately, his eyes
went to the child in the crook of his arm, but Harry remained sound asleep. He took great
care not to jostle him as he turned off the ignition and climbed down from the bike.
In the living room, he found James on the sofa, asleep but upright, with
his mouth lolling open. Fast asleep beside him, with her head resting in his lap, was
Sirius took a seat in the overstuffed chair, his godson settled on his
knee. He stayed like that for a long time, watching the Potters chests rise and
fall. Absently, he stroked Harrys fine black hair.
"Thas how we get our oahn back, on Ilkley Moor
" he sang softly.