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and now for something completely different

HP fic that one of my friends inspired. Never had the gumption to write a Molly/Sirius snippet, but then she had to go and email me one of hers. So damn you for the bunny. :P I blame you. Sort of a mix between actual book canon and movie, set when Sirius first escaped from Azkaban. More than likely OOC, but what the hell.

Molly stared out the window of her kitchen, half listening as the pots in the sink scrubbed themselves. Arthur was gone for the evening, something about a charmed stove spewing out bakery tins had kept him out on the field later than he had anticipated. All her school age children were safe in Hogwarts, and she had just finished penning a letter for Charlie in Romania. Now she sat at her kitchen table knitting yet another jumper: bright red, for Ron. She knew the color didn’t suit him, yet it warmed her heart to see him wear it besides. The house seemed so quiet with her just there, the deafening silence half welcomed and half hated.

Needles still clicking together, she let her eyes wander off towards the paper still scattered on the tabletop from this morning. Sirius Black’s picture stared back at her, looking menacing. She stopped knitting to regard the image with her full attention. She didn’t remember that face. What she could recall from her school days was a handsome boy with a flair for mischief making. Her eyes softened as she recalled an experience her seventh year. She and Arthur had gotten into a row, winding up not speaking to the other in time to be alone on Valentines. Both of them had been miserable and all of Gryffindor had known it. Lilly had tried to get the two to make up, but it had been Sirius, flirting and brandishing a bouquet of roses, that had cemented the riff. In a fit of jealousy, Arthur had grabbed at the roses, which then picked that time to explode in his face. Molly hadn’t thought twice about fluttering around and playing nurse to him. Through the babying, they had gotten over whatever argument they had with the other. She tried to thank Sirius for what he had done, but he had brushed her words off, regarding the newly reconciled pair with a distant expression. She never really knew what to make of that look, but it haunted her to this day.

Putting her knitting aside for the evening, she stood and bunched the paper back in order. The front page still swam with multiple images of Black, so she put it face down in the bin beside the hearth. Leaving the kitchen, she slipped on a shawl and decided to take a late night walk through her sparse gardens. The gnomes were back, something she would have to take care of herself while the children were in school. Looking at her small home, she shook her head. She never wished for a life of idle luxury, of unlimited wealth. She was content with her home, proud of her family, in love with her husband even after all these years. Yet there as something missing, a need for danger or excitement. Sitting on the garden bench, her mind went back to Hogwarts, to two boys in particular. The one with unruly black hair and wire framed glasses had already slipped the Invisibility Cloak over his shoulders, but the other with the dashing smile and dimple at his cheek had stepped up to her and placed a long finger over her lips to warn her to keep quiet. Then he had winked at her and whisked the remaining portion of the cloak over his body and vanished from her view. Unconsciously, Molly’s fingers went to her mouth then, remembering his whispered “You never saw me.” She never did figure out just what they had done that night, but in the morning, Severus Snape had been bellowing about his broom being tampered just in time for the Slytherin/Gryffindor Quidditch match.

A noise in the bushes jarred her out of her reveries. Startled, she figured it was only the gnomes trudging back to make a mess of her yard, but then she heard a low rumbling growl come from the greenery. Standing up, she made to go inside, yet something told her she should stay.

“Come on out,” she whispered, not expecting a scrawny dog to limp out from under the bushes. “There’s a good dog.” Slowly extending a hand to the animal, she marveled at the near human look in its eyes and at the fearlessness it had towards her actions.

“You’re quite the starved animal, aren’t you? Come on then, we’ll give you a good meal and then send you on your way.” Surprised, she watched as the dog gathered itself up and limped alongside her, occasionally brushing against her skirts. She opened the back door and gestured towards the kitchen hearth. “Since you understood me back there, get yourself to the fire so I can have a good look at what’s making you limp.” She knelt beside the animal, tisking at the matted and dirty fur. Gently, she probed at a leg, wincing at the high whine the canine gave her. Something made her look at the dog’s dark eyes, made her fingers go to the fur surrounding his face. Her eyes shifted back to the bin where the paper was poking out, almost as if it were telling her something. Memories of things she wasn’t supposed to know about clicked into place and she leaned back on her heels. “I could report you to my husband, Sirius. He works at the Ministry, you know.” Her hands rose and stroked the dog’s face. Startled, she felt fur shrink and bones melt and rearrange themselves. In front of her now knelt a very scraggly and dirty Sirius Black, looking like the picture in the paper instead of how she recalled him in their youth.

“Yet you won’t.” It was more of a statement than a question.

“No, I won’t.” They remained there kneeling by the fire, just staring at the other as if to see what to make of themselves. Then Molly stood up abruptly and brushed her hands together. “The bathroom is upstairs, you’ll find plenty of soap and Arthur’s razor. Spare towels are in the bottom cupboard. Leave your clothes outside the door, I’ll see to them.” Sirius stared at her, as if disbelieving her.

Molly watched him walk towards the bathroom, her eyes darting towards the clock that told her just where her husband was. The hand was firmly at Work, and she hoped it would stay there for a long time. Giving Sirius enough time to get out of his clothing, she loudly made her way upstairs, just for good measure. A simple cleaning charm was enough to get the grime and stink out of the garments, another mending charm set them to rights. Her hands automatically folded the shirt and pants, placing the now cleaned shoes on top. Rapping at the door, she told him that his clothes were ready for him and whenever he was ready, she would be waiting in the kitchen to see to his injured hand. Busying herself with setting out a bowl of soup and a thick crust of bread, she nearly dropped the crockery set she had been putting back in its place when Sirius quietly came down and soundlessly appeared at the kitchen table. His long hair was slicked back from his head and his beard was gone, leaving a clean cut and square jaw, yet the hollows under his eyes and the too thin pronounced cheekbones took attention away from them. Composing herself, she went to him and placed the bowl and platter of cold meats she had stored for Arthur’s late night snack in front of him. Hungrily, he ate, not caring for etiquette as he slurped the hot potato and leek soup. Wordlessly, Molly rose and refilled the bowl, which he took with a grateful nod of his head before devouring the contents. After he had wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and emptied the glass of water before him, he stared at her.

“Thank you,” he said.

“Nothing I wouldn’t have done for anyone,” Molly said, not knowing what to say to him. To fill in the awkward silence, she reached for his hand and daubed at it with a wet cloth. Sirius gave a sharp intake as she hit a sensitive spot. Abandoning his hand for a moment, she dug in the Muggle medical kit she had taken to keeping in the kitchen after one of Fred and George’s antics went awry. She chose a pair of tweezers and set back to picking at the wound, wincing in empathy as she pulled out a sliver of glass.

“Must have happened last night. I ran into a bunch of broken stuff.”

“Does it work better, the dog form?” Molly asked.

“Nobody knows about it. How the blazes did you?”

She blushed, ducking her head as she busied herself with wrapping gauze around his hand. “I caught you and your friends at the Whomping Willow our sixth year. I never told anyone.”

“Good. Being an unregistered Animagi…”

“…was something that everyone should have suspected from you.”

Sirius smirked, a ghost of a smile from his youth gracing his face. “True, but what I was going to say was that being an unregistered Animagus has kept me from being caught. It’s probably what kept me sane all those years in Azkaban as well.” A dark shadow crossed his face and he shuddered, pulling more into himself at the mention of the place he had escaped from.

“I never thought you betrayed them, like everyone thinks you did,” Molly whispered.

Sirius’ eyes flashed angrily at her and he pulled his hand away from her grasp. “Of course I didn’t! They were my friends! My truest friends! I loved…” His shoulders sank and he bowed his head. “I loved them like they were my own family, better than my family.” Motherly instinct kicked in and Molly wrapped her arms around his too thin shoulders.

“I know you didn’t. I know.” She didn’t know how it happened, but he raised his head from her shoulder and cupped her face in his hands. As if they were caught in slow motion, their lips met and held. Her hands trembling, she threaded her fingers in his damp hair and rode out the sensation of another man besides her husband kissing her.

Sirius broke the kiss first, his lips tracing an unknown pattern from Molly’s temple to her jaw. He leaned back enough to see her eyes madly dart to the wall, where the clock’s hand had Arthur leaving work and heading for home. “I have to leave before he gets here. Thank you for your kindness.” He stood and took Molly’s hands in his own. Placing an almost reverent kiss on each palm, he stared down at her hard.

“I always cared about you, Molly. Even when I shouldn’t have.” She opened her mouth to say something, but he quickly put a long finger against her lips just as he had all those years ago.

“You never saw me.” With that, he turned and walked out the back door. Molly ran to the doorway to catch a glimpse of him as he left, but all she could see was the profile of a black dog as it stood near the garden hedge. Then it disappeared into the night.

Hours later, Arthur wandered into the kitchen, tired from work. He grinned at his wife, who had laid out a meal for him at the very same spot an escaped criminal had sat. She smiled back, her eyes scanning the quiet kitchen. Her eyes fell to the back threshold, were a set of muddy paw prints marred the pristine surface of her floors. Before Arthur could notice, she quickly rubbed them out with her broom.

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