A lapful of Sirius was a difficult thing to have in the best of times, and those times were long gone, back in the days when Remus Lupin was an ordinary boy werewolf (yes, moving on) and he most emphatically did not have any interest in men. Man, he concluded glumly, as Sirius gave a deafening whoop and shook him by the shoulders.
"Moony, it's a boy! What d'you think of that, eh? It's a BOY!"
Remus, engulfed in an abrupt hug, gave James across the hall a congratulatory sort of gurgle, the best he could manage with his lungs so compressed. The gesture went unnoticed, likely because the third restorative potion in a single night (who knew James Potter was prone to fainting?) had left him high as a kite and he was beaming up happily at the cracks in the ceiling, informing them that yes, he and Lily had somehow managed to bring a little boy into the world. Peter walked up to him and tugged on his sleeve, faintly worried.
"Has he got all his toes?" was the inquiry. "Only my second cousin was born missing a toe and Mum reckons that's what made him go mad. Well, and the business with the paint and the rhododendrons." Peter paused reflectively. "Actually, that may have been Great-Aunt Juniper..."
"Pete, your family's barking," Sirius said with a grin, then wiggled around happily. Still on Remus' lap. The owner of said lap began to feel rather light-headed, and fortunately Sirius let go, though the dizzy feeling persisted. "I'm going to buy him a bicycle!"
"What, my second cousin?"
"I think he means Harry," Remus replied, massaging his neck. Everything seemed to be in working order. He turned to James, now entranced with a bit of string hanging from his sweater sleeve. "And Sirius, I think you may have to wait a few years before he can use it. And if it's a motorbike you mean, Lily will kill you."
"Probably," Sirius concluded after a bit of thought, "but it'd be worth it." He watched a Mediwitch gently lead James into Lily's room, presumably so the adorable couple (now an adorable trio) could have a Moment. He hugged Remus again, gleeful and totally unaware of the havoc he was wreaking on Remus' inner peace. Sirius hurricaned his way through life (making "hurricane" a verb in the process) and left his survivors dazed, picking through the wreckage for what they could salvage.
Thus far, Remus had lost his heart, his dignity, and now it looked like his mind as well.
"I think I'd want a girl if I were a father," Peter mused, getting off the topic of insane family relations and into that of imaginary ones. "She'd be little, and with littler curls, and I'd name her Abigail."
"Would she have all her toes?" Remus asked, trying to shove Sirius off his lap, at the same time Sirius nearly shouted, "Abigail?"
Peter looked rather hurt. "It's a nice name. I like it."
"But it's so... ordinary."
Remus began to quietly panic. Sirius was some sort of lap barnacle, he was certain. He would remain exactly where he pleased until the end of time, and that was that. All was lost. So now he's a barnacle as well as a hurricane? some detached portion of his brain asked, the part of him that cared whether he mixed his metaphors. "We can't all name our daughters Cassiopeia," he spoke up, poking Sirius in the side.
"Not even my family's that cruel, and we go for a swim every family reunion."
"What's so bad about that?" Sirius demanded, managing to glare at them both despite having to twist around to look at Peter.
"They're always in January," Peter said, shivering at the memory.
Remus closed his eyes, leaning against the wall. This was some sort of divine punishment. What exactly he deserved punishment for, he didn't know, though. You'd think that being a werewolf would be enough of a cross to bear, but of course now he had to have a Sirius-hurricane-barnacle on his lap and tales of mad relatives in his ears and Sirius talking about having a child someday, with some nice (if deranged) girl who would probably be amazingly gorgeous and always sure of herself and--
"Moony, what would you name a daughter, Cassiopeia or Abigail?"
--and utterly crazy for loving a Black.
"Er," he said, not at all helping the situation. Peter and Sirius looked at him expectantly, and all he could do was wonder what on earth they were doing here in the hospital, as opposed to asleep in their beds. Lily and James had done perfectly all right after the initial business of getting James pointed in the right direction and all of Lily's things packed away (James had dropped the suitcase in his excitement and everything had gone everywhere). "Maybe we should get going."
Sirius' expression brightened into something that would terrify most grown men. It certainly struck fear into the heart of Remus.
"And buy the baby's new motorbike! Moony, that's BRILLIANT!"
"...What?" he managed weakly, before Sirius seized him by the arm and dragged him off, shouting (much to the displeasure of the staff) something about needing Remus' impeccable good taste, see you later Peter, let me know if little Harry's got all his toes.
* * * * *
It took twenty minutes of concentrated effort to convince Sirius that a motorbike was not the best present to pick up for an infant. Then they spent forty minutes in a toy store (at least this one was for children, Remus reflected glumly) picking out a little squeaky thing that Harry would probably love, as Sirius couldn't get enough of poking at it. It wasn't precisely that Sirius was childish, only that he had the exact same approach to something new and interesting as most five-year-olds: poke it and see what it does.
At least there hadn't been any more lap barnacle incidents. For that, Remus remained singularly grateful. And after the initial chaos, Sirius seemed to have calmed down into a more normal state, humming some Muggle rock tune and staring up at the sky, though it was difficult to see stars in the middle of London.
"C'mon, Moony, let's sit."
The bench was slightly worn but otherwise good for sitting on, though after the silence stretched on for what seemed like eternity, Remus found himself wondering exactly how long they'd be there. No city is ever truly quiet, even at one o'clock on a Thursday morning, but they seemed to have found a secluded pocket. Crickets chirped. The wind rustled the leaves overhead. Traffic moved in the distance. Sirius completely failed to talk, and it wasn't a companionable silence. It was a nervous one.
"Prongs is a father," Sirius said at last, still looking up at the sky although there was nothing particularly fascinating there.
"Yes," Remus agreed cautiously, wondering if the conversation would take a turn for "I suppose he's really leaving us behind us now" which they had already discussed exhaustively, or rather, he had talked and tried to be reassuring and it had all gone in one of Sirius' ears and out the other. For all the loud personality, Sirius was terribly insecure about being abandoned by the few loved ones he had left. His family, after all, had disowned him as much as he had them.
"Do you reckon you'll ever have kids?"
Whatever Remus had been expecting, this was not it. He blinked once, twice, tried not to place a hand on Sirius' forehead to see if he was running a temperature. The man was acting even more bewildering and exasperating than usual tonight, and although James had a reason for going a little mad, Sirius didn't, no matter how closely the two were connected. "I don't--expect so," he replied at last. "I doubt a werewolf would make a good father."
Sirius became indignant. "You made an okay student! More than okay, 's matter of fact! Honestly, Moony, you shouldn't let a little thing like that hold you back from anything, if it's what you really want to do."
"'A little thing like that' is a serious condition that could result in the death of my hypothetical offspring," Remus said dryly. "Somehow I doubt that my hypothetical wife would be willing to put up with something like that." My very hypothetical wife, at that. For the first time in his life, Remus felt a bit grateful that he was a werewolf--it meant he didn't have to discuss that Other Reason for not having children, that Other Reason that was really Such A Big Reason and was, in fact, sitting next to him and (thankfully still) not on him.
The Big Reason He Sometimes Wanted To Hit gave him a shove, but not enough to push him off the bench. "Well, I think it's a shame that your--your Mooniness isn't passed on to future generations. The world can do without more Blacks, but a Moony is a very sad thing to lose."
"Is it," Remus echoed, but felt warmed from the inside nonetheless. There was a reason (reasons upon reasons) that he kept That Reason around, after all. "I take it you're not having children, then?"
Sirius shuddered. "It wouldn't be right to bring children into the world with such relations. It wouldn't be decent."
"After the Nudist Incident, I hardly think you'd be concerned with--"
"That is an irrelevant form of decency," Sirius retorted airily, waving his hand to dismiss Remus' words. "Anyway, those Ravenclaw first-years were bloody lucky. Only a week at Hogwarts and they'd already had a sample of all it had to offer." He grinned, warming to the subject. "Not that they ever had a chance, too young for me, but it's always good for a firstie to have a dark, handsome older man to pine after--"
"You were thirteen, Sirius."
"You were so skinny that Madam Pomfrey prescribed a special diet for you."
"Well, it worked wonders, didn't it?"
Silence fell again, with a sort of abrupt thud generally reserved for the smack of a snowball against the side of one's face, something that happened altogether frequently whenever any two of their little group of friends were together for more than five minutes with snow nearby. Snow was a curious thing to think of in the summer, but Remus felt it was suitable nonetheless. There was something on Sirius' mind, that was the only excuse for the non sequiturs and the rambling and the fidgeting he was doing right now.
"What?" And then, losing the air of offended innocence, Sirius asked, "Well, d'you think you'll ever get married?"
Someone, someone sadistic, had decreed that tonight was Remus' night to pay for whatever wrongdoings he might have committed in a past life, or perhaps for all the pranks he had pulled in his years as a schoolboy. That was the only reason for this line of questioning (reasons again): the universe was trying to make him confess. "I really don't think that I'll be getting married," he muttered, wanting to kick Sirius, but then he'd have to explain why.
"Werewolves again? Sometimes I honestly think you just don't want yourself to be happy." Sirius shoved at Remus again, this time almost hard enough to send him tumbling off the bench. "Next I expect it will be 'I can't have tea, I'm a werewolf and I'll spoil England's good name.' And I think you would die without tea, Moony, really I do. Then we'd all have to plan your funeral and I'd make a mess of your eulogy and your mum would beat me with her purse once she was done crying. 'Poor Remus, went and died and not even a proper eulogy to send him off,' they'd all say. So really, I think you should just stop with this noble sacrifice right now, before it becomes a bad habit."
The logic of a Black invariably left one with a headache, at least if one was foolish enough to attempt to follow it, which Remus had. "So, hypothetically, if I do not marry my hypothetical wife and have hypothetical children with her, my only other--hypothetical, that is--course of action is to die?"
"Of tea deprivation," Sirius added helpfully.
"Somehow, Sirius, I don't think that will happen."
"It could. You said it in fourth year--"
"That was you, and it was in sixth year, regarding the availability of hot chocolate. The house elves thought it wouldn't be safe for them to serve it anymore because you and James kept using it to pull pranks."
"You have to admit that those were some of our finest work."
"C'mon, the one cup that blew up all over Snivellus and then turned him purple? That was the work of a sleepless night and some strokes of absolute genius."
"The work of two madmen, perhaps."
"Prongs and I--" And then Sirius cut himself off, shaking his head vigorously and then grabbing Remus by the shoulders to shake him. "Damn it, Moony! Why does this always happen to us lately? I brought you out here and I wanted to say something really important, but every conversation always becomes the 'D'you remember?' game and we never really even talk about anything anymore, just ghosts! What did we used to talk about when we didn't have so many memories?"
"Mostly complained about homework and plotted daring feats that mostly never went anywhere," Remus answered, trying to quell the sudden outburst. What on earth was wrong with Sirius tonight?
"Fucking hell!" the object of his attention (and affection) shouted, heedless of any passersby, of which there were none. (But in the hypothetical sense.) "I brought you out here tonight because I thought if James and Lily--James and Lily--were brave enough to have a baby, then I could be brave enough to say--to say--"
"To say?" Remus prompted.
And all of a sudden, Sirius Black was kissing him. Him, Remus Lupin.
As far as kisses went, it shouldn't have been a very good one. Their noses were sort of mashed together, for one thing, and for another, the angle was all wrong and beginning to put a strain on Remus' spine, which frankly got enough straining as it was, what with transforming into a slavering beast once a month. Theoretically (hypothetically), it was the set-up for a perfect bad first kiss. But it was Sirius, gripping him by the shoulders and slipping him tongue and altogether, Remus felt it was the perfect first kiss. All things considered, even the hypothetical.
"Oh," he said faintly, when Sirius pulled away.
And then: "I've been wanting to do that forever."
Sirius released his shoulders with one last, fierce squeeze. "Then it's a good thing I decided to take matters into my own hands, otherwise you'd have never done anything. Anyway, in case you hadn't guessed, all those questions were my long way of saying that I think I'm in love with you, Moony. Like, married with kids in love with you, the real kind of in love with you, except I don't think we can get married and sounds like neither of us wants kids. But you know what I mean. You always know what I mean."
"I know," Remus said, and then, because he was finding it hard to breathe, could only add: "Me, too."
It turned out that he had said enough, because Sirius let out a whoop and Remus was done caring about the ears (and the eyes, as Sirius began kissing him again) of any passersby, because on this evening, in this moment, he was perfectly happy.