The Sugar Quill
Author: Alkari (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Coming Home  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Sirius felt the chill rising through him, and struggled to suppress a shiver

COMING HOME

 

 

Disclaimer:  Naturally I do not own J.K. Rowling’s characters.  She invented them and their wonderful world of Hogwarts.  I am just visiting that world for a while, and write this as a small tribute to her genius.

 

Author’s note:  This fic arose out of a writing exercise – about Love.  When Sirius just turned up on my computer, Katinka very kindly allowed me to borrow Abby Loomis.  Because Sirius insisted.

 

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Sirius felt the chill rising through him, and struggled to suppress a shiver.  Jabbett was held in the high security cells, deep beneath the Ministry’s Sussex offices.  He’d suggested politely that he wasn’t needed there, that Bloom and Tarrant could handle it all, but Deputy Secretary Schofield insisted.   The building was heated of course, but it was still cold – cold and confined – cold and with cells – there was darkness – and soft rustling noises – perhaps there were even rats …

 

Somehow he got through the interview, managing to keep his face impassive as he focussed on the questions, on Jabbett’s surly non-cooperation.   The cell door had closed with a final thunk, and the sound had stirred more memories.  Hell, he thought, I should be getting over that by now.  I’m not the one who’s in there – and there are no Dementors.  He strode ahead of the others, up the three flights of stairs, into the warden’s office.   Tarrant was muttering something, but Sirius cut him short and told him to just deal with it – it was nearly midnight and he was going home.

 

He pulled his thick cloak around him, suddenly wishing he had gloves too.  The cold seemed to be in his bones.  He could hear them – hear the Dementors – long gone, but they would never be gone from him.  He headed for the door, then paused: in this state, he’d be foolish to try Apparating.   Abruptly he turned and made for his own office, where the fireplace beckoned.

 

Using the Floo network always left Sirius slightly disoriented, and the world swam before his eyes as he straightened.  He took a few deep, steadying breaths, swallowing the sudden nausea that threatened to overwhelm him, and waited for his senses to adjust.  It was dark and silent, but this darkness was blessedly warm and welcoming.  And the silence was the silence of peace, and gentle sleep.  It smelt of home.

 

He became aware of a faint light coming from the kitchen.  “Abby?” he called softly, but there was no answer, not that he’d really expected one at this hour.   He took a few steps forward, and immediately stumbled over something.  Swearing softly, he lit his wand and looked down, to find Lucy’s toy broomstick cast aside carelessly near the hearth.  His heart lifted immediately as he propped it on the stand next to Abby’s and his own; flinging his cloak carelessly over the couch, he made for the kitchen.

 

She’d left a small lamp on the table, which was neatly set for one.  He picked up her note, and smiled.   They’d been together nearly eight years now – well, not that the years on the run could really be called ‘together’ – but even after more than four years of marriage he still marvelled at the fact that she looked after him like this.   It was just so ‘normal’ – coming home late and finding his wife had left dinner for him if he was hungry and hadn’t been able to eat at the office.  A normalcy he’d never really allowed himself to dream of, a gesture of love that somehow he still found strange and wonderful. 

 

The ever-efficient Randall had brought in sandwiches for everyone earlier that evening, so it wasn’t food he wanted now.  He extinguished the lamp, and tiptoed up the stairs.   He paused on the landing at the top - the climb had sent his senses reeling again.

 

Lucy lay snuggled into her blankets, clutching her stuffed grey wolf with the ragged tail.  Very ragged, and quite furless, because she’d chewed it as a baby.  Later she used the tail to drag the toy around after her, ignoring suggestions from Abby and Sirius that this wasn’t really a nice way to treat Wolfie.   Lucky Abby can sew! thought Sirius in a surge of amusement, bending over to brush Lucy’s hair softly and kiss her cheek.  Wolfie had been repaired numerous times – he had almost as many scars as Lucy’s godfather really - and the fact that he still had a tail at all was a triumph of determination and advanced sewing charms.   Lucy smelled warmly of baby soap and powder, a clean cuddly smell that made him want to scoop her up and hug her, tickle her until she squealed and shrieked with childish delight.  But that would have to wait for morning. 

 

Next door, David had kicked his blankets off as usual.  He defied all their efforts to keep him tucked in, somehow managing to wriggle and kick out of any arrangement of bedclothes.  Abby had given up in the end, and made him a sort of sleeping bag which she’d enchanted with Warming Charms so he wouldn’t get too cold.   Sirius smoothed the tousled dark hair and gently removed David’s thumb from his mouth, before pulling the blankets up again and tucking the red wooden dragon and the yellow fluffy frog in beside his son. 

 

His son.  Somehow it still seemed so unbelievable, even now, with Lucy nearly three and a half and David’s first birthday approaching.   He had a daughter and a son.   And a home.  And he had Abby.  He kissed David, closed the door and headed across the landing to the far room.

 

The lamp on his bedside table shed a soft glow, tinging Abby’s hair with gold as it tumbled across the pillow.   The nightie had slipped off her shoulder a little, and she’d gone to sleep facing his side of the bed.  So she’d know when he came home.  No matter how late.

 

The cantankerous bathroom plumbing stayed blessedly quiet: Sirius padded back into the bedroom and stripped off his clothes, lifting the pillow carefully to retrieve his pyjamas.   He slid gently into bed, but even as he reached to douse the lamp, Abby murmured and opened her eyes, pushing herself up on one elbow.  She blinked sleepily, brushing her hair back absently.  The nightie slipped further down.

 

“Mmm … Sirius.  You’re back.  What time is it?” 

 

“Nearly midnight.” 

 

“You all right? You look dreadful.  I left some dinner for you – did you eat anything?”  Drowsy, yet full of concern.  She was sitting up now, reaching to stroke his cheek gently.

 

“Jabbett won’t cooperate. Had to go down to the cells.” 

 

He saw the understanding in her eyes; she said nothing, just waited for him to dim the lamp and settle back beside her.

 

She was warm and soft and welcoming.  Sirius stretched out, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her against him. She snuggled closer, settling comfortably into his shoulder, somehow fitting perfectly against him as she always did.  He sighed, burying his face in her hair.  That nice shampoo she used – a sort of summer garden smell, like flowers and sunshine.   There were no Dementors in this darkness, no cells or bars or cold or screams - just warmth and peace and Abby …

 

Warm, soft Abby.   Nice clean cotton sheets, scented faintly with herbs.  A pillow.  Not a dusty straw mattress, not scratchy, threadbare blankets, not chilled, hard stone.   The coldness inside him was dissolving, melting as Abby’s warmth stole over him.  He stroked her hair gently, feeling his body relax, his breathing slow to match hers.  She shifted slightly, reaching her arm up so her fingers could rub him gently at the back of his neck, softly massaging the spot that always seemed to knot itself painfully when he was tired. 

 

He wriggled his feet against hers.  She chuckled softly.  “Your toes are cold.” 

 

“Mmmmm – you’ll just have to warm them up.”  

 

 

*     *     *

 

 

Sirius reached out, sleep-fuddled, becoming aware that Abby was no longer beside him.  The scent of her still lingered though, and she’d tucked the bedclothes back around him.   

 

As if from a far distance, he heard David crowing and gurgling; heard Abby’s voice, indistinct, responding.  He knew she’d be getting David out of his cot, changing his nappy, playing as she dressed him.

 

Another voice, nearer this time.  Lucy knew she was only allowed to come out of her room in the mornings once she heard one of her parents up and about.  But if Mummy was in with David, that meant Daddy should be getting up too.

 

“Sshhh!  Daddy’s asleep, Lucy.”   Abby’s voice, softly, from the doorway.  “He’s very tired – let him sleep a bit longer.”

 

“Not asleep!  It’s morning.”   Lucy was very firm about that.  According to his daughter, once you were supposed to be awake, you had to get up.   None of this lying peacefully in bed … hell, where had that nice idea disappeared to?  Long, lazy, sensual mornings in bed with Abby, just the two of them and a quiet house ….

 

Bracing himself, he pulled the blankets over his head, half-hoping Lucy would take the hint, and that he’d get another few precious minutes to wake up.  Even as he did so, he knew he wouldn’t escape.  

 

“But he IS awake.  He is, he is.  HELLO DADDY!”  Followed by a furious pounding at the bedroom door.

 

“Lucy! Stop that!”  Abby admonished her.  But the battle was already lost.  He heard the door handle turn.

 

“Daddy’s AWAKE!”   There was the thud of little feet, and a small avalanche hit him squarely in the middle.   “Daddy!  Daddy! Wake up – look, I got new ‘jamas!”

 

Sirius burrowed down further under the bedclothes, pretending to hide.  “I’m asleep.  Can’t you hear me - I’m snoring!”   The sounds he made to prove this would have done credit to a herd of bronchial hippogriffs.  

 

Their special morning game.  Shrieking with glee, Lucy attacked him, burrowing into the blankets like a determined Niffler in search of gold and scrabbling furiously to peel away the coverings.  Sirius laughed, curled into a ball, and clutched the blankets over his head.   His feet, alas, were not so protected.   With a squeal of triumph, Lucy dived to the other end of the bed, wrenching back the blankets and piling them up around Sirius’ stomach.    He felt her move again, and a small hand prodded the sheet over his face.

 

“You’re there!” she said accusingly.  Sirius surrendered, grinning up at his daughter as she dragged the sheet away and beamed down at him.

 

Those eyes – they were so like Abby’s.  Cheeks rosy from her exertions, hair tousled and her new pink pyjama top definitely awry, Lucy reached out to pat his cheek.

 

“You’re prickly, Daddy.”

 

“You woke me up.  I haven’t had time to shave.  So I’ll have to tickle you instead.”   Which he did: they tumbled across the tangled bedding, Lucy giggling, squealing and squirming as Sirius wrestled with her, butting his unshaven cheek against her tummy and tickling furiously.   She pummelled at him, trying to tickle him back.

 

“Ouch!”  Lucy’s eventual signal to stop was a hefty wrench at one ear.  “Hey – I won’t be able to hear you if you pull my ears off.”

 

He sat up, laughing, and she pouted at him.  “Are they your new pyjamas?  They’re not blue - I thought you only liked blue ones?”

 

“No – they’re PINK!   Look – buff’flies on them.”  And she proudly smoothed the top down, showing him the multi-coloured butterflies on the front.

 

Pink pyjamas with butterflies – oh dear, does Abby know the connotations of those?  Hmmm - perhaps he should send a pair over to Severus next Christmas …

 

Grinning, he swung his legs over the bed.  “Right, young lady.  Time for breakfast.  Have you hidden my slippers?  And where are yours?”

 

Seconds later, shrugging into his dressing-gown and pocketing his wand, Sirius shepherded Lucy into her bedroom and located her blue dressing-gown and slippers.   “Right.  Ready?”

 

She nodded: Sirius swung her up on his shoulders and made his way downstairs to the kitchen.  David was smiling and babbling away cheerfully as he sat in his high-chair playing with several blocks: Abby was bustling round, setting out plates and cutlery, while something sizzled and smelt good in the frying pan.   The kettle was steaming faintly.

 

Sirius deposited Lucy in her chair, handed her the mug of milk Abby had set out, and seized his wife round her waist.  “Mmm – are you on the menu for breakfast?”  

 

She laughed, kissed him quickly, then pointed to the kettle.  “Tea,” she said firmly.  “And toast, please.”

 

Ten minutes later, Sirius deftly wielded his wand with one hand to butter more toast and waft it onto their plates, and carefully lifted a mug of tea with his other.   Lucy had finished her bacon and was now munching toast, cheerfully smearing her face with strawberry jam in the process – how does one tiny scoop of jam on the toast somehow become half a jar on the child?   Abby was stirring a mushy cereal and fruit concoction for David, who was noisily beating his favourite yellow plate against the tray of his chair.  Lucky he’d quickly convinced Abby about the benefits of Muggle plastic crockery for children – saved endless Reparo charms.

 

Sirius took a deep mouthful of hot sweet tea, replacing his mug on the table well out of reach of David’s energetic arms.  Another little thing I’ve learnt as a parent.

 

He looked around at the familiar kitchen, where the weak autumn sunlight slanted across the bench and gave the timber cupboards a golden tint.  Home.  Home and his family.   Yesterday’s piles of paper, the cells last night, Jabbert and his swearing – none of that mattered.   He felt wonderful, mellow and contented.  Because he had all this.  He had Abby, and Lucy, and David.    And he was the luckiest, happiest man on earth.

 

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