Recipient-icon ficlet for kel.:

Disclaimers: Everyone here belongs to J. K. Rowling.

most important
by Lesa Soja

The first thing was to find Peter. Sirius had kept that clear in his mind since Azkaban, and so had Padfoot. Find Peter, finish Peter, and then Sirius could go to Remus. Harry would be safe and Remus would believe him and Peter would be the proof.

Find Peter.

The cat was an opportune ally. Sirius got into the castle with his help and went straight to Gryffindor Tower, not turning aside to search for Remus's new quarters. Not yet. Even when Sirius got into the dormitory, he went directly to the Weasley boy's corner, without trying to talk to Harry. Still Peter eluded them.

A spider peered into the forest hollow where Padfoot had been sleeping. Sirius bared his teeth. The spider ambled on.

The night of the full moon found Padfoot and the cat out prowling again. As the sun set, the gamekeeper's cabin lit up with voices and movement. The two of them circled and circled. When the back door opened, there was no one to be seen, but Padfoot could smell the children, Harry and his friends. And a whiff of rat.

The cat cocked his ears and slunk off. A minute later he was chasing the rat back towards Padfoot. It took only a moment to leap - to pounce - to seize the arm holding the rat. But the boy would not let go. The other children were grabbing at them. He couldn't possibly make Peter face him or Harry listen to him out here. With a growl Padfoot made for the willow, dragging both boy and rat with him.

Yet even in the quiet of the shack, even though his leg had got hurt on the way in, the Weasley boy hid the rat in his robes and would not give him up. So Sirius had not yet finished Peter when Harry followed. Then he thought he might explain first. He began telling Harry how guilty he felt, how much he wanted to kill Peter and avenge James and Lily. But Harry wasn't listening properly, and it all got muddled. Harry jumped him unexpectedly, and the cat tried to help, but Sirius ended on the floor with Harry's wand aimed at him. Suddenly it seemed like Harry would kill him, while meantime Peter might be escaping Weasley's grip at any moment. Sirius, outdone and exhausted, could only lie staring up at Harry.

Then came a sound he hadn't heard in sixteen years: a familiar tread racing up the shack's creaking stairs.

The door to the room flew open, and Remus rushed in. He expelliarmused all the wands, and then - wonderful, sensible Remus! - he immediately asked the most important question.

"Where is he, Sirius?"

All Sirius had to do was point at Wormtail. He could see the understanding dawning in Remus's face; he had known that was all Remus would need. In a moment more Remus had worked out the switch, and Sirius simply nodded his confirmation.

When Remus's arms closed around him, Sirius almost smiled.