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We Start to Fall Apart

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“Padoot!” Harry shrieked happily, holding out his arms to his godfather.

Sirius willingly took him from Lily, spinning him around and blowing raspberries into his stomach until Harry’s face was red from laughter. “How are you, little Prongslet?” He asked, holding the little boy out in front of him. “You been up to no good like your daddy?”

Harry just giggled at him.

Still holding Harry, Sirius stepped forward and kissed Lily’s cheek. “Sorry I missed dinner, this moon’s going to be a bad one.”

“You didn’t have to come, we would have understood,” Lily protested. “Is he okay?”

“Remus insisted. You know how he is.” Sirius ran his free hand through his hair, sighing deeply. “Pete’s with him, or I wouldn’t have left him at all. But I did want to warn James, I don’t think we’ll have enough healing potion for tonight. He might not want to risk it, not with Harry-“

“Sirius,” Lily said firmly. He looked at her. “You’re being ridiculous. Of course James is going, and I’ll brew you some more healing potion myself. You know Potions was always my best subject. Just let me put Harry down –“ She reached for Harry, but he pulled away.

“No!” he cried. “Want Moony.”

Sirius stroked Harry’s hair. “Sorry, Haz, no Moony tonight. Too much moon, no Moony.”

He tried to lift Harry away, but Harry just wailed louder, clenching Sirius’ shirt in his fists. “Want Moony!”

Lily grasped Harry’s little fingers, trying to loosen his grip, but he was determined to cling on, still wailing for Moony.

James came bounding down the stairs, stopping short at Harry’s cries. “What’s wrong, mate?”

Harry reached out for his father, and James went over to pick him up, bouncing him up and down in his arms. “Hmm? Is it past your bedtime, Harry?”

“Want Moony,” Harry sniffled, pouting even as his eyes started to drift closed.

James gently placed a kiss on the top of Harry’s messy hair. “I know, love, I know. Sleep now. Maybe tomorrow you can have Moony.” Harry’s little face scrunched up, apparently displeased at the idea he would have to wait so much longer, but his eyes stayed closed.

After a few minutes, once he was sure Harry was asleep, James handed him back to Lily. “I’ll see you in the morning, Lilyflower. We’ll even bring Remus, if he’s not too badly off.”

“I think it’s going to be a bad one,” Sirius interjected.

Lily nodded. “I’m brewing up more healing draught tonight. Hopefully you won’t need it, but...”

“Oh.” James tried to smile. “Well, maybe Remus will have to come just for that.” He embraced Lily, Harry still in her arms, squished between the two of them. “Love you, Lils. Both of you.”

He stepped back, and she leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. “We love you too.” Leaning over, she kissed Sirius too, one for each cheek. When he looked surprised, she said with a smile, “One for you, one for Remus. Even if he can’t come tomorrow, come soon. All four of you. It’s been too long.”

“We will,” Sirius said, surprise fading from his face to be replaced by a solemness rare to him.

“Even if I have to carry Moony here myself!” James added. He slung his arm around Sirius’ shoulders, and the three of them laughed together. Harry, catching on to his parents’ mirth, laughed with them.

“What are you laughing at, Potter Junior?” Sirius made to pick Harry up and tickle him, but Lily stepped back, taking the toddler out of reach.

“The moon’s almost risen,” was all she said, but it was enough to settle them back down to seriousness.

Sirius gave a quick, sharp nod, immediately turning and disappearing into the fireplace behind him. James, after giving his wife and son one last embrace, followed.

For a long moment, Lily stood there, watching the fireplace with a look of unutterable grief. Only when Harry started to fuss did she turn away. “Time for you to be in bed, little deer.” She mustered up a smile which quickly faded. “Then Mummy needs to get started on another Healing Draught.”

***

Early the next morning, before the sun had fully risen, Lily was awakened from her nap on the couch by a pair of lips meeting hers, softly kissing her awake. Opening bleary eyes, she looked up at a familiar face framed by messy hair. “James,” she breathed.

He smiled down at her. “Morning, beautiful. Have you been here all night?”

Struggling upright, she shook her head. “No, just a few hours. Was in the back room most of the night, working on a Healing Draught. It needed to simmer, so I came out here to wait for you.” She turned to look up at him. “How’s Remus?”

James gave her a tired half-smile. “Better than we thought he’d be. He’s got a few new scratches, but nothing I couldn’t heal. He’s mostly just exhausted. Still insisted on coming over, though.”

Lily shook her head. “He didn’t have to do that. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

He put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Lilyflower, it was just as much me as you. I was telling him how Harry was asking for him, and you know how he loves Harry.“

“All three of them do.” Lily leant into his hand, before pulling away again as a loud clanging sounded from the other room. “I need to keep working on the Healing Draught, it’s at the delicate stage. You go grab Harry. Are Peter and Sirius coming as well?”

James gave a rueful snort. “I don’t think Moony could stand up without them, so they’ll have to.” At Lily’s stricken expression, he hurriedly added, “Really, he is just tired, a couple days’ rest and he’ll be fine. Besides, the other two were going to come anyway. It’s been a while since Peter could make it, and Sirius never passes up a chance to eat your cooking.”

The clanging sound came back, louder than before. Lily swore. “Alright, I have to go. Grab Harry, look after Remus, and don’t bother me for the next half hour!” She ran out of the room, and seconds later, the clanging came to an abrupt stop.

James stared after her adoringly. “I’m so glad I married her,” he whispered to himself. Shaking his head, he went upstairs to bring Harry back down to the fireplace, the both of them watching eagerly for their guests to arrive.

It only took a few minutes before Sirius and Remus came through, Remus looking like he would have collapsed without Sirius’ support. Pale and exhausted, he stumbled out of the fireplace with Sirius’ help, moving aside just in time for Peter to come through after them and take up a position at Remus’ other side.

“Moony!” Harry cried happily, reaching his arms out for Remus.

James beamed, looking nearly as happy as his son. “See, Moony? I told you he was asking for you.” He pressed a kiss to the top of Harry’s messy hair before handing him over to Remus, Peter and Sirius stepping obligingly aside.

Remus took him with a smile that quickly turned into a grimace as his arms shook under the added weight. “Sorry, James, I can’t–“

“Hey, no, it’s okay.” James put his arms around them both, using his added strength to keep Harry safe. “I should have thought that through better. Here, you sit down, then I can put Harry down on your lap.”

Taking Harry back from Remus, James and Sirius worked together to get Remus situated on the couch, then passed Harry back to him. Harry beamed adoringly up at him. “Moony.”

Remus smiled back. “Hallo, Harry. I’ve missed you.”

Harry began to babble at him, a long string of nonsense sounds interspersed with a few recognisable words. Remus nodded along to all of it, listening intently, and talking back to him when Harry took a break to breathe. James paced around them for a few minutes, before settling on the arm of the couch, close enough to keep an eye on them both and take Harry back when Remus’ exhaustion inevitably overcame him.

Sirius stood a bit further back, his eyes mostly on Remus. It had been risky, taking him anywhere this soon after the moon, but chatting to Harry was doing more to put colour back into his cheeks than any amount of Healing Draught.

“Sirius.”

Sirius didn’t look away from the scene in front of him. “What is it, Pete?”

“Can I...” Peter shuffled closer, voice lowering. “Can I talk to you?”

“We’re talking now, aren’t we?” It took a minute of awkward silence, but Sirius dragged his gaze away from James, Remus, and baby Harry to look at Peter. “What did you want to talk about?”

Peter glanced around the room. “Not here. Not with Remus and Harry.”

“Then I’m not going.” Sirius turned away from him. “I’m not leaving Remus alone. Not yet.”

“It’ll only take a minute, Sirius, please!” A hint of desperation crept into his tone. “It’s about Remus.”

Sirius whipped around to stare at him. “For Remus?”

Peter nodded. “Yes, but not here!”

“Fine. In the study.” With one last agonised glance towards the living room, he tore himself away, leading the way down the hallway to the study.

Once there, he settled himself into a chair, waiting for Peter to take a seat opposite before asking, “What did you want to talk to me about?”

Peter started to speak, hesitated, then sighed. “I’m worried about Remus.”

Sirius snorted. “Wormy, we’re all worried about Remus. I haven’t seen it this bad in years.”

“No, more than that. I’m worried,” his next words had the sound of something practiced many times before but never actually spoken aloud. “I’m worried about what Remus might do to stop this.”

“There’s no way to stop this, remember? If there had been one, we would have found it in second year when we first figured it out. We looked everywhere. There’s nothing.”

“But that was years ago. What if–“ Peter cut himself off, looking around furtively before leaning forward and saying with a lowered voice, “There’s been rumours that You Know Who has found a cure. He’s promising that werewolves that follow him will be cured, can be human again.”

“How?”

Peter spread his hands. “Nobody knows.”

Sirius’ brows lowered in suspicion. “Then how do you know? And why are you telling me, anyway?”

“Uh, I keep an ear out for these things?” Peter squeaked. “For Remus. Just in case.” Some of his previous confidence returned. “And I told you, I’m telling you because I’m worried. You know how bad Remus’ condition is getting, and how much trouble he’s had with... everything. I’m just afraid of what he might do to make it stop.”

“You think... Remus?” Sirius pushed away from the table. “He would never! He’s our best friend, how could you say that?”

“It’s because he’s my best friend I have to say that!” Peter said harshly, a ring of truth in his voice that even Sirius could not deny. He slumped, his voice lowering. “I’m worried about him, about if he’ll make the wrong decision. I don’t want him to do something he’ll regret. James is so busy with Lily and Harry, and I – he’s my best friend, Sirius, and I’ve never been as brave as you. Please, can you just keep an eye on him? And if he starts doing something suspicious...” Peter’s voice trailed away.

Sirius gave him a long, considering look, then nodded. “I will. But not for you. For Remus.”

“For Remus,” Peter agreed.

“Not that he will do anything. This is Moony. Everything will be fine.” Sirius repeated this to himself for what appeared to be as much his benefit as Peter’s. “Everything will be fine.”

Peter gave him a long look, before quickly turning away. When he spoke, his voice was muffled. “I’m going to go check on Remus.”

He got up from the table and left the room, leaving Sirius sitting there, repeating to himself, “It’s going to be fine. Remus wouldn’t– He wouldn’t. This is Remus. Everything has to be fine.”

In the hallway, slumped against the wall, feelings of regret stinging the back of his eyes, Peter was saying something very similar. “This is for Remus. Everything will be fine. Everything has to be fine.”