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A Year in the Life

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Anxious green met haunted grey met for the first time in seventeen years. There was so much in that exchange that Sirius didn’t know how to feel. He had spent the last seventeen years begging the walls of his cell to forgive him for what he had thought about the man standing before him, for the way they had parted on such poor terms so long ago, so full of anger, anger for which he wasn’t even sure he remembered the cause. He had relived that day and so many others a million times. The way they had fought about something stupid, tensions high for the war, for Remus’s infernal secret missions, for the way they could never talk properly anymore. No touch, no wave, no apology or even a whisper of affection, just slammed doors and a clipped, “Bye,” over his shoulder to which he didn’t wait around for a reply. He had been so angry with Remus the last time he saw him that the rest of that month had been hell, waiting to see him again, waiting to tell him how sorry he was, how much he loved him, how he wished they could just talk and share things the way they always used to, before the Order got in the way, before Voldemort ruined it all, before he ruined it all. It was all his fault. Everything that had happened was his fault. James, Lily, Harry... believing Remus could ever betray them, trusting in Pettigrew when he should have seen the signs that something was wrong with his traitorous ex-friend, leaving Remus alone all of that time without ever getting the chance to make up for what had come between them. All of it was his fault and his fault alone. 

Yet there he was. The man Sirius loved more than life itself was standing before him, so much older, so many more scars, so much more broken than he had been the last time Sirius saw him. The look in those beautiful emerald eyes was haunted in a way that perhaps even Azkaban couldn’t do to a man. Remus had been through so much trauma in his absence that it was as clear as day to the man who spent hours of his youth just watching him and waiting to be noticed. Sirius wanted to fix him, to take away the pain so evident in the way he carried himself and the hidden look in his eyes. The anxiety, he understood. It had been so long. He was sure he was quite obviously a bundle of nerves himself. But there was something deeper in those eyes, something darker, something Sirius wanted to lock away to keep Remus from feeling ever again.

Sirius settled for giving a weak smile, something akin to the way he used to smile at Remus. It felt so right and so wrong at the same time. The last time he had smiled had been a lifetime ago, flopping into bed alone and wishing for Remus to be there, hugging the man’s pillow to make up for the fact that no-one was beside him and just pretending, wishing for the end of the month so he wouldn’t be so alone, lulling himself to sleep with happier memories and finally letting that soft smile grace his lips as he fell into fitful slumber. He had smiled on the night before Halloween that year and then never returned to that bed.

“Sirius…” Remus whispered but he may as well have been screaming. Nothing else in the courtroom mattered, no-one else existed. Remus acknowledged him and the tone of his quiet voice conveyed so much love, so much pain, so much confusion, so much guilt and anxiety. But there was no hatred, no contempt, no anger. Sirius was honestly amazed at how well he could still read the man, even after their extended separation. 

A pale hand rose, open, palm out in invitation. Remus’s eyes were searching for something but he cracked a gentle, albeit brief, smile. Sirius swallowed a sudden lump in his throat and broke into a run to reach the door and the man that stood just beyond it. It was like waking up from a nightmare and diving into a dream all at the same time. He had a hard time believing this was actually true, that he wasn’t about to be hauled back into prison and subjected to a dementor’s kiss at long last. Any second, the door would slam in his face and a harsh laugh would taunt him for thinking that it was really all over.

Remus caught him as he stumbled over the threshold, atrophied muscles giving out after the short burst of adrenaline fueled motion. Thin arms were around him, gripping him tighter than he ever remembered being held. The bag Remus had been holding dropped to the floor beside them and fell over, spilling out some clothes that went ignored. Sirius wrapped his arms around a chest that was too bony and clutched at a sweater that hung too loose, never feeling safer than he had in that moment.

Chapter Text

Sirius was skin and bones in his arms. Remus could feel every rib as he caught him from his trip, gripping him as if his life depended on it. Filthy robes hung from his wiry frame, baggy and ill-fitting. Long, matted hair tickled his arms and face as they embraced after a lifetime apart. The man’s scent had changed drastically. Gone was the leather, mint and applewood, the smoke that had mingled into those familiar smells by the end of the war. Instead, something that could only be described as despair seeped from him, distorting the deeper, musky scent that was uniquely Sirius underneath it all.

Remus wasn’t sure how long they clung to each other before Sirius finally spoke. His voice was like gravel and there was a childish quality in his simple plea. “Forgive me?”

In that moment, all the guilt, all the hurt, all the confusion about seeing him again after so long just fell away. Sirius had done nothing wrong. He’d spent seventeen years in Azkaban for nothing. Seventeen years living with the crippling thought that he somehow deserved it. Remus was the one who needed forgiveness. Forgiveness for leaving him there that long, for ever having believed that he was capable of betraying his friends, for moving on and leaving him behind. But there Sirius was, asking to be forgiven for something he hadn’t even done. He needed comfort and Remus couldn’t ask for his own forgiveness in that moment. Right now, he needed to remind the man he loved-

It crashed into him like a tidal wave. Remus had never stopped loving Sirius. Even when he had blamed him for everything having gone wrong, he had always loved him and that was what made it hurt all the more. Remus realized then that while he still loved Dora and always would for everything she had been to him and more, there was a place in his heart for Sirius and there always had been. There was a place for them both and, in a way, it was humbling and overwhelming at the same time. Holding Sirius in that doorway, all the feelings he’d ever had came rushing back and threatened to drown him. If not for Sirius in his arms, he might have collapsed right then and there; but now, he had to be the rock for Sirius in return.

“I forgive you,” Remus whispered. Then he repeated the words louder.

Sirius began to tremble in his arms, resting his head against Remus’s shoulder as his own began to shake in time with hitched breaths. Remus fought tears as he held Sirius tighter. He didn’t know how he was supposed to feel, how he was supposed to act, what he was supposed to do beyond this moment. He honestly hadn’t thought that far ahead. It was only when a Ministry official exited the courtroom behind Sirius that he was prompted into action.

Still holding Sirius, Remus reached down to grab the bag he’d dropped and began to move down the hallway to the lift. He hadn’t thought to bring any sort of grooming or personal hygiene products and was kicking himself for it now. It made changing here at the Ministry a pointless exercise. Instead, he decided he’d help him once they got back. “Let’s go home,” he suggested softly, his voice steadier than he thought it would be. 

Sirius shuffled along with him without complaint. He seemed calm enough by the time they reached the sliding door but once inside, Remus could tell something was wrong. The man tensed in his arms and wild grey eyes looked up and darted around as the door slid shut. Had Remus not put both arms around him again, he was sure Sirius would have curled into a ball right then and there. He only relaxed again once the door opened once more a few levels up. Sirius had never been claustrophobic before and Remus was genuinely baffled by the unexpected response to being enclosed in the lift. 

“It’s alright, Sirius,” Remus assured him gently, coaxing him out into the crowded lobby. He watched as the man looked around at everything, now appearing far more aware of his surroundings. They went to the floo network fireplaces lining the walls after checking out and Remus kept a firm grasp on him. Just as he reached for the floo powder in the bucket hanging on the next open mantle, he thought better of it and took out his wand instead. He cast his patronus with a message for Harry to clear the living room so as not to overwhelm Sirius; explaining his presence and that of baby Teddy could wait until they were in a better position to actually talk. The man in question just watched the silver wolf as it bounded off and Remus thought he saw a brief smile. 

“I always liked your patronus,” Sirius muttered softly as it disappeared.

Remus smiled bashfully and then took a handful of the floo powder at last. Keeping hold of Sirius with an arm around his waist, he tossed the powder into the green flames and spoke firmly to give their destination. “Lupin Cottage.”

Chapter Text

Lupin Cottage? That was what Remus had said, right? What the hell was Lupin Cottage? Were they going to Remus’s dad’s place? As Sirius stepped through the flaring green flames, half pulled by Remus, he had no idea what to expect on the other side. They walked into a cozy living room with exposed beams overhead and an upholstered couch that looked to be second-hand but well cared for dominating the small space. A coffee table was in front of it, littered with books (and were those rattles?) and a television sat in the corner on a stand. The floors matched the exposed beams, dark wood in contrast to the cream of the plaster walls. Heavy curtains hung on either side of a huge bay window, through which Sirius could see an expanse of front garden and meadows flanking a dirt road and no other houses in sight, and one wall was dominated by a bookshelf teeming with old editions of assorted texts. A blanket and mobile was on the floor beside the couch for some reason but otherwise, the entire place screamed Remus. It wasn’t home; their flat had been modern with clean lines and an open concept, nothing like the closed room he found himself in. Where were they?

“Welcome home,” Remus announced softly with a vague sweep of his arm. When Sirius looked at him, puzzled, he just offered a small smile and nodded towards the door. “The bathroom’s through there. Let me help you get cleaned up?”

Sirius nodded. “Yeah… Alright.” He followed Remus across the room and into a hallway that lead to the ornate front door on one end and the kitchen, its door ajar, on the other. Next to the staircase across the hall from the living room they had just exited was the bathroom. The exposed beams and plaster walls followed through to all that he could see. Remus pushed open the door to the bathroom and revealed a white cast iron tub with a pale yellow curtain pulled back. A shower head had been installed above it and the opposite wall held a sink mounted into a wooden cabinet and a standard looking toilet. 

“There’s, um, shampoo and soap on the shelf there. I’ll get you a clean flannel, hang on. And a towel, too.” Remus seemed flustered as he ducked into a closet under the stairs and pulled out the items. Sirius watched as he set them on top of the toilet and turned to face him. 

“I can, uh, cut your hair, if you want, after?” He offered Sirius a short-lived quirk of a smile. “Take as long as you want. Um, call when you’re done? The cottage is pretty small so I’ll hear you.”

Sirius touched his hair, letting it drape over his hand. His hair had been the last thing on his mind until Remus mentioned it. Now that he examined it, he found himself quickly disgusted. It was oily and tangled and hanging well past his ass. Just thinking of the split ends he noticed made him shudder. He wasn’t even sure washing it would salvage the absolute bird nest atop his head. Seventeen years of nothing more than a bucket of water being thrown at him once a month had done a number on it. “I don’t think this can be saved… Cut it first?”

Remus paused but then nodded and stepped into the bathroom with him. He opened a small cabinet on the wall and took out a pair of scissors. He looked at them and then at Sirius and made a motion with his free hand. “Turn around for me?”

Sirius did as he was asked and watched himself in the mirror as Remus touched his hair. He didn’t look like himself at all, his grey eyes sunken and his skin looking leathery and pale where he could see it under a bush of facial hair that he could not stand; that had to be the next thing to go. He looked at Remus’s reflection and tried to read the expression on his face. He seemed more nervous now than he had been at the Ministry but Sirius had no idea why. It was just them now. Or maybe that was why. Maybe Remus didn’t want to be alone with him. Grey eyes searched the scarred face for an answer but froze when they met green gazing back. They stared for a long moment before Remus’s eyes averted and focused again on the hideous mane in front of him. Sirius watched as he pulled it into a thick ponytail and swore he caught a grimace before scissors began to slice into it. Already, Sirius felt better. Not only was the weight of it gone but just the way he looked felt more like him again. Remus turned him around when he was done and cut his beard as well, avoiding eye contact as he did.

“I’ll… I’ll clean it up more when you’ve showered… Or bathed if you prefer.” Remus gestured at the bathtub when he finally looked at Sirius again. He seemed to remember something and held up a finger indicating to wait and left the room.

Sirius watched him go and frowned, finding himself alone unexpectedly. He looked around the small room, thankfully with the door still open. He hadn’t realized until the lift just how badly small spaces affected him. Looking for something to focus his attention, he turned back to the mirror and examined the way he looked now with his hair to his ears and his beard actually stopping at his chin. It still had to go but he looked more like he ought to, more like a man in his late thirties should look. “Fuck, I am a mess…”

Remus returned to the room to find Sirius leaning close to the mirror and smiled faintly at him in their reflection. Sirius returned the smile and turned around, noticing the bag from the Ministry now sitting by the toilet. “Clothes,” Remus told him. “Call when you’re done?”

Sirius nodded and looked to the shower. He stepped closer and fiddled with the taps to get the water on, aware that Remus was still standing there watching him. Footsteps retreated once he straightened up after getting the temperature comfortable. He could handle being alone he supposed but then the bathroom door squeaked and he turned so fast he almost fell over. “Leave it open!”

Remus froze with his hand on the doorknob. He looked at Sirius and then at the door, blushing faintly. He nodded and pushed it back open. “Alright,” he agreed, offering that quirk of a smile again. “I’ll be upstairs.”

Sirius just nodded and watched as Remus awkwardly left the room. He heard footsteps on the stairs and then on the landing overhead, his eyes following the sound until it stopped. He could have sworn he heard voices but couldn’t make them out clearly. Shaking his head, he chose to ignore them and focused on what quickly became the best shower of his life.

Chapter Text

Teddy giggled and waved both arms and feet when Remus went over to him and offered his hand. He was laying on the floor with Harry sitting beside him with a book in his hand. The young man set it down when the door opened and offered his godfather a smile. “So how is he?”

Remus blinked at the question and settled on the floor beside Teddy, letting his son play with his hand. It didn’t even phase him when tiny gums closed around one of his fingers. “He’s… He’s showering.” It was the only answer he could come up with at present and it got Harry laughing at him. 

“Well yeah, I can hear the water running. Is he alright, though? I mean, seventeen years in solitary with only dementors for company…”

Remus sighed and shrugged. “It’s hard to say right now. He’s claustrophobic now, apparently… Which I suppose makes sense. And he seemed rather off put by his hair when I mentioned it, which is typical Sirius.” He finally smiled. “By the way, he has the door open down there, so don’t go downstairs.”

Harry laughed again. “Alright. Guess I’m stuck up here then. Have you told him about me being here yet?”

“Not yet. Haven’t told him about Teddy either.” The boy in question babbled at hearing his name. Remus smiled down at him. “Don’t worry, Teddy. He’ll love you.”

“How’s that going to work out? ‘Oh yeah, Sirius, I have a kid and our godson is upstairs with him.’”

“Something like that, I’m sure.” Remus smirked faintly and shrugged again. He hadn’t the faintest idea how to tell Sirius about either of them and figured it would actually go pretty much exactly as Harry had just mocked. It was probably better to just do it bluntly like that, like ripping off a plaster. Sirius would be shocked but Remus hoped he would be able to come to terms with it faster that way than trying to find a way to ease him into it in the short time frame they’d have before Teddy’s presence would become obvious regardless. “I’ll tell him once he’s comfortable downstairs. I just… don’t want to overwhelm him. I mean, it will overwhelm him but...”

Harry nodded. “Makes sense... And what about you?”

“What about me?” Remus raised an eyebrow at Harry as Teddy stuck a different one of his fingers in his mouth.

“How are you holding up?” Harry asked in exasperation, shaking his head.

“Oh, right.” Remus was so frazzled even the simplest conversation was going over his head. He guessed Harry could tell. “I don’t know. I’m alright, I suppose. It’s a lot, having him here again, having him in my life again. I was barely older than you the last time I saw him. I don’t really know how I’m supposed to feel about him being back now.”

Harry leaned back against the bed he was sitting beside and nodded. “I doubt there really is a way you’re supposed to feel. Not after everything we’ve been through. It’s not everyday that sort of stuff happens, ya know? Or, well… maybe it is since it’s us…”

Remus looked at him, sighed and then back to Teddy. He didn’t bother giving the sassy comment an answer. It was easier to focus on the baby since he was all smiles and wasn’t trying to decipher anything about how his father was feeling. Remus honestly didn’t know how he was feeling, couldn’t put into words everything going through his head. Harry was right, in a morbid sort of way. It seemed like everything traumatic did seem to happen to them. First the war, stretching back well before Harry was even a gleam in his parents’ eyes, and then all the loss that came with it and now Sirius abruptly altering the course of possibly the most traumatic loss Remus had ever lived through. There were seventeen years missing in the relationship they had just walked back into and he didn’t know how to go about piecing it back together. They had been apart for longer than they had ever been together. How did one even begin to salvage that? He wondered if Sirius was thinking the same thing.

Remus was appreciative of the companionable silence that fell between him and Harry as he tried to process everything that had happened. The young man had picked up his book again when his godfather hadn’t answered and Remus had kept his focus on Teddy while he worked through his thoughts. There was so much he needed to tell Sirius but it was a fine line to determine how much was too much at once. He decided the best thing to do for now was to introduce Harry and Teddy as quickly as possible and then let Sirius acclimate to his new home before telling him anything more. Either he would ask questions or they could sit down and talk when the time was right.

“Moony?” Sirius’s concerned yell carried up the stairs some thirty minutes later. 

Remus flashed a smile and took his hand back from Teddy, replacing it with a toy instead. The boy babbled at him and seemed pleased by his new distraction, which his father used as a means of escape. Harry laughed softly as he retreated back downstairs to find Sirius sitting on the edge of the tub in Harry’s cargo pants and nothing else. Bare-chested, it was painfully clear just how underweight the man was. He looked up and gave a relieved smile when Remus walked in. He held up a razor blade in a shaking hand.

“Could you help me out here? Seems I have developed a bit of a tremor,” Sirius requested sheepishly.

Remus went to him and nodded, giving him a proper smile now that he’d had some time to collect himself. Now that he was clean, Sirius seemed a lot more like his old self, which made it easier in some ways and harder in others. Remus took the razor from him and gently tilted his head back. “Hold still,” he instructed, which Sirius had no problems doing. It said something about the trust he obviously still held for him when the man didn’t even flinch while Remus held a blade to his face and neck. When he was done, the clean shaven man before him looked almost like his young adult self, the loss of the beard taking years off his appearance. Remus next took the scissors and went about cleaning up the man’s hair.

“It’s so short,” Sirius commented softly when Remus was finished. He ran his hand through it before smiling at himself and then Remus in the mirror. While his eyes still appeared sunken, they were more alive than they had been, vivid and aware.

“It’ll grow,” Remus assured him, returning the smile before he magicked the clippings away. He grabbed the graphic t-shirt that Harry had stuffed into the bag and offered it to Sirius. The Weird Sisters logo was emblazoned on the front and when Sirius looked at it he raised an eyebrow.

“What in the world are the Weird Sisters?”

“A rock band.”

“Since when do you listen to rock, Re?”

“I don’t,” Remus answered, his voice flat.

“So why do you have a shirt with their logo on it?” Sirius fixed him with an inquisitive stare as he pulled the shirt on over his head.

“It isn’t mine,” Remus answered. He had been wanting a way to bring Harry up in conversation and Sirius had just handed it to him. The man looked even more confused as he poked his wet head out through the top of the shirt. “It’s Harry’s.”

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His eyes went wide as he stared at Remus. Harry was a baby. He could believe the shirt perhaps belonged to James but Harry? How could Harry have something like this? Unless Remus was talking about someone else. But they didn’t know any other guys named Harry. When Remus just smiled at him, Sirius was almost sure this had to be a joke.

“Prongslet owns a band shirt?”

“Those trousers are his too. Mine would be too big on you,” Remus answered calmly.

“He’s a baby,” Sirius replied.

Remus’s smile shifted and something like sadness slipped into his expression. “He was,” he agreed. “He’s a man now.”

Right… Seventeen years. Sirius had lost seventeen years. Of course Harry had grown up. He was eighteen now, an adult in the Wizarding and the Muggle World. Sirius averted his eyes and looked down at himself wearing his godson’s clothes. He had missed so much, lost so much. What else had changed? He was almost afraid to ask.

“He’s excited to meet you,” Remus commented softly after a moment.

Sirius looked up at him, anxiety creeping up on him unexpectedly. What if Harry didn’t like him? It had been so long. He’d just spent the last half of his life in prison. No kid wanted a criminal for a godfather. He’d been gone for Harry’s entire life, damn near. He didn’t know what to expect from an eighteen year old who had been just over one the last time he saw him. How did you just walk up to a kid and introduce yourself as his godfather when he didn’t even know you?

“Sirius,” Remus called gently.

His eyes focused again on Remus. He wasn’t even aware he’d zoned out.

“Breathe,” Remus reminded him.

Sirius nodded slightly and took a deep breath. He offered Remus a quick smile before he nodded again. “I’m alright…”

He watched as Remus searched his face for something, unsure whether he found what he was looking for or not. The man offered his hand to help him up off the edge of the bathtub, pulling him into a brief embrace before taking him back into the living room. Sirius watched him, clinging to his hand without realizing what he was doing. He’d been alone for so long and Remus felt safe and warm. Remus didn’t offer up any complaints about it.

“He’s upstairs,” the man told him once they settled on the couch.

“Who is?”

Remus rolled his eyes. “Harry.”

“Oh… Oh!” Sirius stared at Remus and then looked to the door through which he could see the stairs in the hallway. So that’s who Remus was talking to earlier. Damn, what was he supposed to do with that information? Was he ready to meet his godson, a grown man now?

“I can call him down if you want. Or send him home. He can meet you another day,” Remus offered, watching him.

Sirius looked between Remus and the door a few times before forcing himself to take a deep breath. He nodded and quirked a smile. “Call him,” he heard himself say even though he truly wasn’t ready. He didn’t know if he’d ever be ready. Better to just get it over with, he supposed. Either Harry would like him or he wouldn’t but prolonging it any further when he’d already waited so long would only forstall the inevitable.

Remus nodded then a guilty look crossed his face for some reason. Sirius tried to make sense of it along with the words he spoke. “There’s someone else you need to meet, too.”

“Alright?”

Instead of offering an explanation, Remus called Harry’s name. Footsteps on the stairs sounded a minute later. Then a young man holding a baby with teal hair entered the room. Sirius blinked at him, shook his head and looked again. His eyes must be playing tricks on him because he knew damn well that James was dead. He’d found his best friend’s body in the front doorway of their home, stepped around him in shock to find Lily motionless upstairs in the ruined nursery. They were gone and it was his fault for trusting Pettigrew to protect them. 

Then he made eye contact and realized this man wasn’t his best friend, it was his son. Harry was the spitting image of his father but those eyes, they were his mother’s. “Shit… Prongslet… You grew up.”

Harry’s cautious expression spread into a grin as he came further into the room. “Yeah, yeah I did.”

Sirius looked then to the baby who was staring at him. A fat little hand waved at him and gibberish came in greeting. He was reminded of Harry doing the same thing the last time he’d seen him but Harry was the one holding this kid. Just how much had happened in his absence? “How the hell are you old enough to have a kid?”

Harry looked to Remus for some reason and something passed between them. Remus then disentangled his hand from Sirius’s and stood to take the baby into his own arms. The baby giggled and babbled more. Sirius watched Remus’s face light up in a way he hadn’t ever seen and stared, dumbfounded.

“This is Teddy,” Remus introduced after a moment of smiling at the child in his arms. He turned his gaze to Sirius. “He’s... my son.”

The entire world came to a grinding halt.

Chapter Text

It was Harry that darted forward as Sirius slumped off the couch. With Teddy in his arms, Remus wasn’t in a position to respond had he even seen the man’s reaction coming. Yelling or crying or, more likely, zoning out, he had expected. Actually fainting was not something he had ever seen Sirius do. Maybe he should have waited to introduce Teddy and Harry until later…

“I think he’s alright,” Harry commented softly as he lowered his godfather to the floor and leaned over him to listen to his breathing. He looked up at Remus from where he knelt beside the man he’d only just met.

Remus nodded slightly and opted to set Teddy down under his color-changing mobile to entertain the little boy while he focused on Sirius. “Let me try and wake him… Seeing you first might-”

Sirius’s eyes snapped open and he grasped at the front of Harry’s shirt. “James?!”

Remus sighed, “-make him do that…”

Harry stared back at Sirius with wide eyes, caught off guard and almost falling to lay on top of the man as Sirius yanked him down. He caught himself with hands on either side of his godfather’s shoulders.

“Pads, that’s not James,” Remus explained as he knelt on his other side and reached to dislodge thin fingers from their godson’s shirt. Wild grey eyes locked onto him and seemed even more confused. Sirius’s hands switched from clinging to Harry to clutching at Remus’s hands. Remus nodded to Harry to coax him to sit up out of Sirius’s line of sight.

“Remus,” Sirius whispered. “Tell me you’re real.”

Remus quirked a sad smile and nodded. “I’m real.” He shifted one of the man’s hands to rest on his chest and feel his heartbeat thundering behind his ribcage.

Sirius seemed to calm down after a while of just staring and feeling. He looked around slowly, gazing at Harry and then at the baby when a giggle sounded. He stared at Teddy for a moment and then looked carefully back to Remus. “This isn’t Azkaban.”

“No, it’s not,” Remus agreed. 

“Where are we?”

“Home. This is my home. We’re in Yorkshire,” Remus explained, smiling a little wider.

“We don’t live in Yorkshire,” Sirius answered, frowning.

“I do,” Remus countered. Sirius just stared at him.

“Well this has to be the weirdest introduction I have ever lived through,” Harry commented when it seemed that Sirius had stopped freaking out and grasped onto the reality of the situation. He drew his godfathers’ gazes in duplicate and offered a grin to both men.

“Prongslet,” Sirius finally said, making Harry grin wider.

“You were right about him never calling me by my name,” Harry answered, looking at Remus.

“Some habits die hard, I suppose,” Remus replied with a chuckle. He shifted to awkwardly pull Sirius into a sitting position in which he ended up loosely embracing him to support him; the man seemed reluctant to take his hand off of his chest, as if Remus’s heartbeat was keeping him grounded.

Harry kept grinning and looked back to Sirius. “It could be worse. You could be wringing my hand and tripping over yourself bowing to me. That’s what most people do. ‘Harry Potter, it is an honor!’ Drives me up the wall, honestly.”

Sirius cracked a smile. “I mean, I could if that’s what you want.”

Harry held up his hands and shook his head. “God, no!”

“I don’t think we need any more drama added to this, Sirius,” Remus added, letting himself laugh properly for the first time in months. He had forgotten how much he missed this sort of banter, the joking and silliness, Harry’s attitude and Sirius’s flair for the dramatic. Harry had been as reserved as Remus lately and it was ironic that bringing a broken Sirius into the house amidst all of the still raw and settling trauma was what finally returned laughter within its walls.

Harry laughed with him and Sirius’s smile widened until it was verging on his typical grin that Remus had missed so much more than he had realized. Then wary grey eyes settled on the baby who was kicking up at a dangling star hanging above him. 

“So… Mini-Moony…” His voice was little more than a whisper.

“You are not calling him Mini-Moony,” Remus answered with a groan before he recognized that Sirius was still seemingly calm despite having passed out earlier at having learned who Teddy was.

“Too late,” was the reply. 

Harry scooped up Teddy and brought him closer. The boy giggled at him and immediately stuck one of the young man’s fingers in his mouth. Harry just rolled his eyes and let him. “Why do you insist on eating my hand?”

“You used to gnaw on your dad’s wand until your mum snatched it away from you,” Sirius answered unexpectedly. His eyes were fixed on the baby.

Harry’s eyes went wide at the story and he looked up at both of them. Remus laughed at his expression. “James never really learned that one. He was always leaving his wand everywhere. And you were very grabby. It drove Lily mad.”

“Guess I’ve always had an inadvertent death wish,” Harry commented, smiling again.

Remus wasn’t sure how to respond to that and opted to just roll his eyes. That Harry could joke about it was a good sign, he supposed. The boy had been through far too much, ensnared by the war for his entire life, whether he was old enough to realize it at the time or not.

Chapter Text

Sirius was thoroughly confused by the comment and finally looked up from the baby in Harry’s lap to actually look at his godson. There was a haunted look about him now that he looked closer, yet another similarity between him and his father the last time Sirius had seen James. How could the boy have gone through so much living with Remus all of that time? Surely being raised by a werewolf wasn’t that traumatic. There was no way Remus would let him be in danger during transformations so what did Harry mean by having a death wish? When Remus saw his expression he just shook his head. “It is far too much to explain right now, Padfoot. I think you’ve had enough shock for the day.”

Sirius looked up at him from where he still sat half embracing him, a hand over Remus’s heart. He frowned and averted his eyes, drawn back to Teddy. He supposed the man was right. The large majority of that shock was now staring at him in the form of a tiny baby whose eyes were the same shape as Remus’s. Sirius had a hard time understanding how the boy even existed. At first he thought maybe Remus had adopted an orphaned baby or something, despite being completely out of character, maybe encouraged by having raised Harry successfully. But this little boy was obviously his in more ways than one. Remus was not his adopted father, he was the child’s biological father. But how? 

Teddy babbled at him and waved his arms, finally releasing Harry’s hand from his mouth. The young man made a face and wiped it on his jeans. “Thanks, mate…”

When the baby’s hair shifted from teal to tawny blonde, Sirius about had a heart attack. Not only was the kid apparently a metamorphmagus, helpfully supplied by his brain once he remembered how to breathe, he now looked like a very tiny version of his father. 

“I probably should have warned you he does that sometimes,” Remus commented behind a soft laugh.

“Reckon that’s how you looked as a baby, Moony?” Sirius whispered, reverting to humor to cover his intense disorientation and complete disconnection from the world around him. It seemed his tone didn’t quite carry the note he wanted, though, and Remus suddenly held him closer with a whispered, “Probably.”

“It was a bit weird the first time I saw him do it, too,” Harry commented after a while of awkward silence. Teddy, by that point, seemed content as a blonde and was looking between Remus and Sirius curiously, babbling at them and at Harry in an attempt to get attention. Harry offered him his hand again, which the baby predictably started sucking on once more. Harry just rolled his eyes.

“He did it within an hour of being born,” Remus answered quietly. “It took him longer then, though…” He watched his son, that bright smile Sirius had noticed earlier returning to his face as Sirius looked up at the man. “For some reason, he usually settles on teal.”

Sirius finally asked the question bubbling to the surface of his thoughts. It was pretty clear that Remus had moved on and hooked up with a woman. The evidence of that was sitting right in front of him. It had been seventeen years. Of course he’d moved on. Why wouldn’t he move on? It wasn’t like there was a precedent for releasing life-term convicts from Azkaban. That Pettigrew had even survived the explosion he’d set off was news to him when they told him at his long-awaited trial. He’d about lost it then and had to be restrained until he was calm enough to testify. Seventeen years of his life lost because the little bastard had faked his own death and let him take the fall. Seventeen years wasting away, reliving his worst memories, the last fight with Remus with no chance of reconciliation, finding James and Lily dead in their home, watching Hagrid leave with baby Harry in his arms without putting up a fight, running away from home at sixteen, learning about Reg’s death, every contemptuous look and insult his mother had ever thrown at him, every beating and Cruciatus Curse he’d earned from his father, the look on Remus’s face when he found out that he’d almost killed Snivellus because of Sirius’s own damn insecurities getting the better of him for not the first or last time, convincing James to switch the secret keeper to Pettigrew instead of him with a promise to protect the traitorous little son of a bitch while leading Voldemort off his tail and after his own instead... Seventeen years of hell that he had been locked away from the outside world while Remus kept living in it alone. Except at some point, obviously, he’d stopped being alone. At some point, he’d met someone. And at some point recently, he’d become a father after swearing to Sirius for a year and a half that he wasn’t cut out for it. That fucking hurt, almost more than his time in Azkaban. It felt like betrayal even though he knew he was being a complete jackass for thinking it. Remus had a right to be happy, a right to move on and live his own life. Even so, Sirius almost couldn’t bring himself to say it. “Where’s his mother?”

Immediately, Sirius wished he hadn’t. Remus tensed in his arms and the smile for his son fell to abject despair. Sirius knew the answer and felt dreadful for bringing it up even before the man managed to find his voice long enough to reply in a clipped whisper. “She died.”

Fuck.

Chapter Text

Again, it was Harry that broke the silence. His eyes locked on his son, Remus almost tuned out the young man as he explained what he couldn’t bring himself to say. “Her name’s Dora. She was an auror. A bloody good one, too. And Teddy got his metamorph ability from her. He’s named for her dad… They both died in the war.”

Sirius looked at Harry, his face drawn in a frown as he shifted to hold Remus more than just leaning on him. Remus didn’t complain. A part of him felt like he was dishonoring Dora by allowing him to offer that comfort but the part of him that needed the comfort quickly shut that irrational part down. He loved both of them. There was nothing saying he couldn’t love twice, couldn’t love more than one person. The wiry arms drawing him close were warm and he’d missed them more than he cared to admit. He had to admit that he was beginning to calm down some as they sat like that.

Remus realized after a moment that Harry had started talking again. “She had a wicked sense of humor and apparently did you lot proud when she was at Hogwarts. And she’s probably the only person in the entire Order who actually thought Remus was funny. Everybody else just stared at him when he cracked jokes.” The young man grinned at his godfathers and Remus couldn’t help but smile back.

“Is he still a sarcastic ass?” Sirius asked, beginning to smile. Remus made an indignant sound and blew in his ear, drawing a louder equally indignant sound in retaliation.

Harry laughed and nodded. “She always got onto him for keeping a straight face all the time. I still don’t know how he does it.”

“When you spend seven years living with this mutt and his egotistical best mate in a confined space, you develop a knack for it,” Remus retorted; his expression was flat.

“Oi!”

“See what I mean?” Harry grinned again.

“Oh trust me, I know exactly what you mean,” Sirius answered, a faint hint of a pout in both his voice and his expression. 

It was Remus’s undoing and he finally laughed again. “Apparently, you’re still a drama queen.”

“I am not!” The pout was even more pronounced. Remus gave him a Marauder smirk, drew his wand and conjured a paper crown onto his head. Grey eyes blinked at him in surprise before it fell over them. Harry actually fell over laughing and had to shift Teddy so as not to drag him down with him. The baby giggled with him though seemed confused by his new position.

“Moony!” Sirius whined as he reached up to remove the offending crown from his face.

“Yes?”

Sirius just groaned at Remus’s patronizing tone and pulled the crown off to drop in his lap. Remus kept smirking at him. He was certain that this would not be the end of the discussion about Dora and what she had meant to him, what she now meant to them both, but he felt like Sirius had at least accepted it for now and didn’t seem to hold it against him. He’d been terrified that the man would just walk out as soon as he found out and, reasonably, there was nothing he could do to stop him if that was what he later decided to do. Remus just hoped that it wouldn’t come to that.

“I haven’t seen you this happy in months,” Harry commented when he finally got his laughter under control. Remus looked at him, considering the statement. It was true, he supposed. He couldn’t remember any time that he really considered himself happy since Dora died, since those two happy weeks with their newborn son before the call to arms that ended the war. He’d smiled some since then but even he knew he was kidding himself and anyone who actually knew him if he claimed they were real smiles. With Sirius in his arms, their godson sitting on the floor with them and his son giggling away, Remus finally felt like he had a reason to be happy again. The way Harry had described Dora helped more than he could have anticipated. To think about her as a person again and not just a gaping hole in his heart, to be reminded of the reasons he loved her and reminisce about the memories he and Harry shared of her… It began to ease the pain just a tiny bit. He knew it would be a long time coming but seeing Sirius now reminded him that once before he had thought the world would end in grief but eventually he’d been able to look back and smile instead of cry. He would be able to do that again.

Sirius was looking at Teddy again, seeming to ignore Remus out of spite. He considered the child who, upon realizing he was being stared at, stared right back. Realization dawned on the man’s face and he looked up again at Remus. “Dora… And the kid’s name is Teddy after her dad… No… Nympha- dora , daughter of Ted Tonks and flippin’ Andi. His mum’s my cousin. You hooked up with my bloody cousin, Moony!”

Remus felt his cheeks flush faintly and averted his eyes to look at Teddy instead. Merlin, he’d forgotten how sharp Sirius could be. “It’s not like I did it intentionally. I didn’t even put it together until after I’d already fallen for her…”

“You’re, like, twelve years older than her!” Sirius complained.

“You don’t think I didn’t point that out to her?” Remus argued half-heartedly.

Sirius groaned. “My cousin, Re…” He gave a dramatic shudder and put his head on Remus’s shoulder, indicating that he wasn’t as bothered as the fuss he was making made him out to be.

“What can I say?” Remus answered after a moment. “I suppose I have a type.”

Sirius actually laughed at that. It was an amazing sound that broke the carefully neutral expression Remus had been trying to maintain. He had thought he’d never hear it again.

“Rebel outcasts of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, apparently,” Sirius managed to choke out, unable to contain his laughter. Remus could only laugh with him.

“Well on that disturbing note, I’m going to go and get lunch started,” Harry commented, making a face torn between amusement and faux-disgust. He had righted himself by then and set Teddy into his father’s lap before retreating from the living room and heading towards the kitchen down the hallway. Remus could hear him laughing once he was out of their line of sight.

Chapter Text

Sirius spent most of the afternoon convincing himself that everything was real. Eating actual food instead of slop had been both fantastic and horrible at the same time. He’d been so excited by being offered a real meal that he had almost choked himself and his stomach protested long before he was ready to actually stop. Remus had reminded him to take it easy and he had reluctantly agreed; the sandwich Harry had made for him took three hours to finish. Teddy had napped during most of that time but when Remus brought him back downstairs afterwards, Sirius did a double take. The little boy was sporting black hair and was snuggling his father with sleepy fists at his eyes. He looked like a tiny version of Sirius that he’d seen in family photographs before his parents had removed most every indication that their oldest son even existed from the house. 

“That’s his natural color,” Harry commented as he looked up from the game of chess he’d been playing with his godfather. “It takes him a while to change it to something else when he wakes up. Bishop to B4.”

Sirius looked back at the game and realized that he was a turn away from being beaten. He frowned at it, his attention drawn from Remus and Teddy until Remus came to look over his shoulder. The man suggested a move to him and then sat on the couch to feed his son from a bottle. 

“How do you do that?” Sirius asked after taking his advice and avoiding the crushing defeat his godson had been about to deal.

“Do what?”

“That’s cheating, Remus!” Harry complained.

“To be fair, he is out of practice,” Remus answered with a shrug.

“Are you trying to take pity on me?”

“I’m not trying.”

Sirius turned to stare incredulously at the man who wasn’t even looking at him. The bright, gentle smile was back on Remus’s face as he fed his son and his voice betrayed nothing. It was so much like before yet so different at the same time. Now that he was over the shock of learning about the baby’s parentage, Sirius was quickly falling in love with that smile. He wondered longingly if there was any chance of putting things back together with Remus despite the evidence that he’d moved on sitting right in front of him.

Harry just suppressed a laugh and made his next move. “Check, Sirius.”

Sirius frowned as he looked to the gameboard again. He was quickly reminded of how much he hated chess; James and Remus had always been more inclined towards the game while he and Peter had been much more interested in faster paced games of chance like exploding snap. He groaned and made his move to get out of check, only to be reprimanded by Remus.

“I wouldn’t have done that if I were you.”

Harry showed why when he put Sirius into check again with the very next move. Sirius couldn’t see a way out now. He would lose next turn no matter what he did and flopped backwards onto the floor instead. “I give up. You play him if you think you’re so hot.”

“Fine. You play with Teddy, then.” Before Sirius was aware of what was going on, the child had been set on top of him and he found himself staring at a tiny, still sleepy face resting on his chest. Remus sat on the floor beside him and shifted the game board on the coffee table to reset for a match against their godson.

“He doesn’t look much like he wants to play,” Sirius commented in a whisper as he put a hand on Teddy’s back to hold him gently in place. He heard Remus and Harry starting to play, the gentle taps of the figures being placed in their spots, but didn’t look at them. His eyes were locked on the little boy.

“Give him a few minutes and he will. He’s a lively little chap most of the time,” Remus answered. Sirius could hear the smile in his tone. A scarred hand offered a rattle from the table and Sirius quirked an eyebrow at it before taking it.

“You like rattles, huh, Mini-Moony?” 

Remus groaned, presumably at his insistence on the use of the nickname, but didn’t otherwise complain as Sirius shook the toy near Teddy’s face. The baby peered at it, his eyes following it but making no grab for it just yet. “Maybe this one’s not your favorite. Or maybe I’m not doing it right. The last time I held a baby, your god-daddy was a baby. Long time ago.” 

He kept shaking the toy for the little boy and talking to him, eventually getting a smile and a pudgy hand reaching for it. Sirius grinned and let him shake it some. It brought back memories of playing with Harry and helped him forget the time he’d lost in Azkaban. Some of the best times in his life were spent playing with a baby boy, first like this, then crawling around with him or building with him, letting him ride around on his back when he shifted into his dog form or chasing him about with James when he’d gotten the hang of riding his tiny broom. Sirius had just never expected to be playing with his boyfriend’s son; well, his ex-boyfriend now, he supposed. Teddy’s giggle and sudden energetic reach for the rattle when he stopped moving it brought him back out of that depressing line of thought. “Sorry, kid. Got distracted. Wanna rattle it yourself for a while?”

Teddy gladly took the toy and shook it up and down, hitting it on Sirius’s chest gently and giggling about the change in sound every time it struck him. Sirius just made a face at him and let him do it, still holding him steady with one hand. “Got a strong arm on ya, Mini-Moony.”

“Maybe he’ll be a beater some day,” Harry commented with a laugh.

“Oh, I could get him a little broom like I got you!” Sirius looked at Harry and grinned.

Remus groaned much as he had before, a relatively good-natured sound that Sirius associated with outlandish Marauder pranks and Remus agreeing to go along with them only after voicing his complaints. It was a sound he’d heard a lot through his years at Hogwarts and beyond and it was a sound he hadn’t realized he had missed so much despite how annoying he had once thought it to be. Sirius turned his grin to Remus beside him and was rewarded with an open smile in return as the man glanced up from the chess board.

“Checkmate, Harry,” Remus added, bringing the young man’s attention back to the game. 

“Bloody hell… I will never be able to beat you or Ron,” Harry complained. 

Remus just shrugged and leaned back against the couch. He was still smiling and looked again at Teddy and Sirius. The baby had eyes only for Sirius and his toy and continued to giggle as he beat his little rattle up and down. Sirius noticed that Remus’s smile shifted back to that gorgeous bright smile that he seemed to share only with his son; he loved it.

Chapter Text

It was strange having Sirius in the house. Remus wasn’t sure how to treat him, how much would be too much and overwhelm him or what the man would be perfectly fine with. Watching and listening to him playing with Teddy had warmed his heart. Sirius was a natural with kids, much as he had been with Harry as a baby, and it was amazing to notice that those instincts hadn’t gone away in all his time in Azkaban. If anything, interacting with Teddy seemed to ground him and brought out smiles Remus wasn’t sure Sirius was even aware of. He seemed calmer with Teddy in his arms and Remus was happy to let him stay that way. It was only hours later that Remus realized that Teddy was perfectly happy with the situation as well.

“I think my son likes you, Pads,” Remus commented as the little boy fell asleep in Sirius’s lap. By then, Remus and Harry had stopped playing chess and they had opted to put on a movie, some period drama Remus was fond of that was unlikely to startle Sirius with action or extreme emotions. Sirius had been glued to it, holding Teddy without questioning the situation at all.

Sirius blinked owlishly, his attention drawn from the television back to the people around him. He glanced down at Teddy and then looked at Remus. “He’s a baby. He’s been smiling at everyone and I’m certain he’d fall asleep wherever you stick him.”

“Yes, but his hair is still black.” Remus smiled knowingly and Sirius looked only more confused by the statement.

“Prongslet said that was his natural color,” he commented as if that was the entire explanation and there was no need for further discussion.

Remus nodded patiently. “He tends to change it within an hour of waking up. He didn’t this time.”

“So what?”

“Your hair is black.”

“Yeah, and yours seems to be going grey.” Sirius smirked before breaking into a grin.

Remus made a face at him and would have thrown something at him if not for the baby in his lap. “Sirius.”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.”

Sirius just laughed at him but refrained from making further comment. Harry started laughing beside him and apparently took pity on his godfather by continuing to explain what Remus had been trying and failing. “Teddy tends to change his hair to match people he likes or wants to interact with. He rarely stays that way, though, even when he’s with me or Remus. Usually it goes teal again.”

Sirius looked down at the sleeping baby leaning on his stomach. Then his grin shifted to a soft smile that Remus recognized from their youth. It was a heartwarming look that he rarely showed the world, preferring to usually hide behind his outgoing bravado and humor. “Guess that’s a good thing,” he whispered.

“It is,” Remus agreed quietly. They met eyes then and he wasn’t sure what to make of the way that heartwarming look remained in the soft grey staring back at him. There was something questioning behind it and he didn’t know how to answer other than to just smile at him in return. After a moment, the eye contact broke and Sirius’s attention was caught by the movie again. He couldn’t be certain but it looked like there was a spark of that old smile Sirius had reserved for him so long ago just before he looked away. Remus found himself wondering what it meant and trying to decide if he’d just imagined it. Were the rekindled feelings he had for Sirius reciprocated or was he just fooling himself into thinking that there could be anything left?

The movie ended before anyone said anything again. Harry broke the companionable silence that had settled in the room by standing and stretching. “I should get going. I have to work in the morning.”

Remus looked up at him and nodded. He offered the young man a warm smile, truly thankful for his presence through the day. He wasn’t sure he would have been able to handle the sudden reunion without him. He’d been a remarkably compassionate crutch to lean on, ever empathetic, as always. Not for the first time, Remus thought Lily and James would be proud of the man he’d become.

“Oh yeah, don’t forget your potion, Remus. I stuck the supply in the cupboard by the cups and glasses while you were running about last night,” Harry added as he walked towards the fireplace. 

Remus stood to join him. “I appreciate it. I’ll be sure to pay you back when my wages come in,” he answered quietly, a guilty frown furrowing his brows. He hated being in debt to anyone, least of all people he cared about.

“I keep telling you not to worry about it. It’s not like I can’t afford it. You’d do the same for me,” Harry replied, shaking his head and clapping his godfather’s shoulder gently.

“I sincerely hope I never have to.” Remus wasn’t quite able to keep the distaste from his tone and it was clear that Harry noticed. The young man squeezed his shoulder briefly and offered him a genuine smile.

“I’ll stop by tomorrow after I get off and check on the flat, alright? I’ll bring some more clothes, too.”

Remus nodded, cracking a faint smile. “Good night, Harry.”

“G’night.” Harry looked over at Sirius and grinned at him. When Remus glanced over to follow his gaze, Sirius was watching them with a questioning expression. 

“‘Night, Prongslet,” the man called softly, earning a brief wave and a wider grin before Harry grabbed a handful of floo powder and tossed it into the fireplace. Green flames rushed up from the previously dormant hearth and the young man stepped into them after calling his address. His form spun and then disappeared along with the fire.

Remus opted to ignore the questions in Sirius’s eyes for now and went into the kitchen to do as Harry had reminded. With everything going on, he had actually forgotten that tonight was the first night he needed to take the Wolfsbane Potion. As he pulled the bottle down from the cupboard and took out his largest coffee cup, he wondered just how the wolf was going to respond to all of the new stimuli with Sirius’s scent all over everything in the cottage and the knowledge that his former mate was back in his life. It had been so long since he’d seen Sirius and longer still since he’d run with Padfoot while transformed. Would Sirius want to join him or even be able to after all that time? He had a week to figure out the answer to that question and while today had been relatively easy compared to his wild fantasies of everything that could have gone wrong, he was almost certain that the man’s seeming compliance and acceptance was in large part shock.

“Merlin, what is that?! It smells awful even from here!” Remus actually jumped at hearing Sirius suddenly in the doorway. He looked over his shoulder to see the man standing with Teddy still asleep in his arms, leaning on the doorframe and wrinkling his nose at the faintly smoking blue potion Remus held to his lips.

“Wolfsbane Potion,” Remus answered as he gulped down more of it with a grimace.

“Wolfsbane?! That shit’s poisonous, Re!” Sirius made an alarmed move towards him, only stopping when Remus held up a hand.

“To humans, yes. To werewolves, no.” Remus screwed his eyes shut and downed the last of it, setting the cup aside. Sirius was standing beside him, grey eyes wide and wild, when he opened his own. He gently took Teddy from him and guided him to sit down at the dining table. “It was invented in the late-80’s and it is truly a wonder, despite how terrible it tastes.”

Sirius stared at him with awe now replacing the horror in his eyes. “Is it… Is it a cure?”

“As close to it as we’ve come so far,” Remus answered as he sat beside him. “It isn’t a cure, no, but it greatly diminishes the ill effects of the curse. So long as I take it every night for a week before the full moon, I am largely unaffected by the symptoms leading up to it and I can usually sleep through most of the night instead of hurting myself.”

For the second time that day, Sirius’s reaction to news of the world outside of Azkaban caught Remus off guard. The man’s face fell, crumbling to tears in a way that seemed like even Sirius himself was surprised by how he was affected. Remus reached out to cup his cheek. “I didn’t mean to make you cry, Pads,” he whispered.

“Every month, I worried myself sick about you dealing with the full moon alone. It was worse than when we found out about it and I used to stay up all night fretting about it… The dementors… I was already thinking about it and they made it worse, imagining you beaten up and barely clinging to life, blood everywhere. Nothing I could do about it… Memories and my own twisted imagination working to turn it into hellish nightmares worse than anything that ever actually happened. I was terrified you’d actually die after everything that happened and I left you alone to deal with it all…” Sirius broke off and then laughed darkly. “It’s all my fault. Everything is my fault...” The laughter abruptly became incoherent sobbing, repeating what sounded like ‘all my fault’ as his fists balled in his lap.

Memories of Sirius’s fears unknowingly becoming reality after losing everything threatened to overwhelm Remus. He forced them back; now was not the time to admit that the man was right to have been frightened, that he had actually tried to kill himself for the better part of a year with every full moon he had to go through alone. Remus used his hips to scoot his chair closer and put both arms around Sirius instead, Teddy leaning on them both now in his lap. Somehow the baby remained asleep through the change in position. There was nothing Remus could say that would get through to Sirius when he was like this. He knew that. All he could do was hold him until he realized that he was safe and calmed down enough to be able to accept help.

Once Sirius had cried himself quiet, Remus was able to coax into breathing deliberately and bring him back down from his panic. The man slumped into him and he realized that not only was trauma working against him but exhaustion as well. 

“I think we could both use an early night,” Remus suggested. Sirius just nodded slightly against his shoulder. “Do you reckon you can walk on your own?”

Refusing to talk, Sirius shrugged in response.

“Stay here, then. I’ll put Teddy down and then come and help you upstairs,” Remus answered. Sirius nodded again. His head stayed down as Remus got up to leave the room. 

Remus hesitated then left, taking Teddy to the master bedroom and getting him changed into pajamas. The baby woke briefly, fussed at him for cuddles and then settled down to sleep again as soon as he was swaddled and laid in his cot. Remus smiled and brushed his hand over soft black hair before looking to the picture hung over the baby’s bed. Dora and their newborn son stared back at him from beside his own smiling figure. It was one of the last pictures Andi had taken of the three of them together, the last time Remus had truly smiled until today. He reached out to run his finger over the edge of the frame and the tiny image of his late wife smiled out at him in that special way he had come to recognize as her way of sharing her love.

“I wish you could see him,” Remus whispered, not sure if he was talking about Teddy sleeping under the picture or Sirius downstairs. He realized after a moment that he’d meant both of them. “Today probably would have gone a lot differently if you were here,” he added, a hint of a smile quirking his lips. He watched as the image of Dora looked down at Teddy in her arms, her smile changing subtly. His own smile widened, both in the picture and in the bedroom. As Remus left the room, his image was staring at his wife and son with a bright smile.

Sirius had his head down on the table when Remus returned. A quick assessment of his deep, steady breathing told Remus that he’d fallen asleep waiting. Instead of waking him, Remus just took him carefully into his arms and carried him upstairs to Harry’s bedroom, temporarily converted for Sirius until a more permanent solution could be figured out. Remus wasn’t sure whether Sirius would want to stay with him once he was used to life as a free man or if he would want his independence and his own place again when he was ready. He hoped for the former but forced himself not to dwell on that eventuality. He’d deal with it when it came. For now, he had a man who was far too light for his age and height asleep in his arms in a way that brought back memories of over-the-top birthday celebrations and all-night benders during the height of the first war. The only difference between carrying Sirius up his own stairs and carrying him up the stairs of the Potter’s cottage to James and Lily’s guest room was that Remus wasn’t also drunk while doing so this time.

“Good night, Sirius,” Remus whispered once he’d settled the man in bed, his borrowed trousers draped over the footboard and the quilt pulled up to his shoulders. He remembered, almost too late, to leave the door open as he left the room and retreated to his own. It seemed strange crawling into bed alone next door. It had been a long time since Remus and Sirius had slept under the same roof without also being under the same blankets. Despite how tired he was, sleep was a long time coming.

Chapter Text

Sirius woke with a start, a baby wailing in another room nearby. Harry. He sighed and closed his eyes. James and Lily would deal with it. They’d specifically told him not to worry about Harry crying in the night. Remus had reminded him that they needed to get used to being parents on their own. Remus. Where was Remus? He opened his eyes again and looked around in the dark for his boyfriend. He realized the bed was empty beside him but there was no warm spot beside him to indicate that Remus had ever come to bed. Where was he? Was he still up reading or something? Sirius chuckled and sat up slowly, tossing back the blankets. With how dark it was, it was certainly late enough that the bookworm needed a reminder to get his ass into bed already. 

Padding across the room, he began to feel uneasy though he couldn’t really place the reason. He paused in the doorway, resting his hand on the frame. This place was unfamiliar. James and Lily had more than two rooms upstairs and he could have sworn they had a rug on the landing. He thought the bathroom was upstairs as well. So where was he if he wasn’t at James and Lily’s place? Peter’s, maybe? It certainly wasn’t the flat.

“Moony?” Sirius called out uncertainly as he tried to get his bearings. The door next to him was closed but he heard a familiar voice swearing softly from inside before it suddenly opened.

“In here, Sirius,” Remus’s voice answered. He followed it into the softly lit room and looked around. A double bed sat under the window with its quilt pushed back and rumpled, a baby’s cot was in the corner, where Remus stood holding a crying infant, and a dresser was between it and a wardrobe in the opposite corner.

“Sorry. I forgot to put a silencing charm on the room last night. I didn’t mean for Teddy to wake you,” Remus explained, rocking the baby with one arm while using his wand to heat a bottle standing on the dresser.

“What?” Sirius asked dumbly, trying to make sense of everything and failing. He wandered to the bed and sat down on it, staring at Remus and the baby whose name was apparently Teddy. Where was Harry, then? And James and Lily? Maybe downstairs?

The baby quieted once Remus offered him the bottle and Sirius watched as Remus smiled at the little boy in his arms. It was a bright smile that Sirius had never seen before… Except he realized suddenly that he had seen it. All day yesterday he’d watched that smile change his boyfriend’s face into that of a man at least ten years younger than the aged visage that had just greeted him. He knew who that little boy was and why Remus was smiling at him. Remus had a son. The baby wasn’t Harry. Harry was grown, a man now. And that meant… That meant that James and Lily were gone. It wasn’t all a nightmare. It had really happened. Peter had sold them out to Voldemort and Sirius had spent the last seventeen years in Azkaban for trying to go after him. It was all real…

“Sirius, breathe.”

He looked up at Remus with wide eyes and became aware that he’d started hyperventilating. Remus was breathing deliberately, even with Teddy in his arms, watching him intently. Sirius copied him, forcing himself to calm down and focus on the here and now. He watched as Remus slowly walked across the room to join him, the baby in his arms still drinking from the bottle his father held for him while he snuggled the man’s chest.

“You’re safe here,” Remus told him softly, sitting beside him, so close that their legs touched. Sirius appreciated that small comfort, having forgotten just how quickly physical contact could settle his nerves.

“Where’s here?” he asked, his voice shakier than he would have liked.

“My cottage in Yorkshire. I brought you here yesterday. Do you remember?”

Sirius nodded slowly as everything began to click into place. He wasn’t in Azkaban anymore and he wasn’t going back. He was with Remus in this strange home of his. He was safe. Harry had been there before leaving last night. He’d met the tiny little boy in Remus’s arms and spent most of the day holding him and playing with him. He was safe.

“Guess I’m being a bit of an idiot right now,” Sirius whispered, averting his eyes finally.

“Not at all.” Remus’s leg bumped against his and he was smiling in an almost sad way when Sirius glanced at him. “I never expected this to be easy. It’s okay to not be okay.”

Sirius was quiet as he processed that simple statement. It was okay to not be okay. Everything had happened so fast yesterday, one surprise after another. He supposed it was only to be expected. Seventeen years had changed the world and he hadn’t changed with it. He had been locked away, living in the past, haunted and tortured by his own mind with no company but dementors, no interaction to speak of. Even aurors and ministry officials didn’t interact with him when they made their rounds, just looked through the bars at the broken shells of the men and women housed in Azkaban, most of whom didn’t even notice their presence. He had alternated between trying to be as small as possible in the corner of his tiny cell and spending time curled up as a matted dog to avoid the crushing onslaught of his waning sanity. He’d discovered early on that his canine mind was less affected by the dementors and at times, when he couldn’t keep up the obsessive train of thought about his innocence, he gave in and took Padfoot’s form to escape. Unfortunately, the unannounced visits and his fear of being caught as an animagus forced him to take back his own form most of the time. Those little reprieves, though, were all that stood between him and the terrifying madness that gripped his fellow prisoners. A single day of freedom couldn’t fix all of that. Remus was right. He wasn’t okay but that was okay.

“I thought we were at Lily and James’s place… That it was Harry crying. I got up to find you and drag you up to bed… And I couldn’t remember where we were, or why…” Sirius finally admitted.

“I’ve experienced that before,” Remus answered calmly after a moment. “It’s going to take a while to get your bearings after going through what you’ve been through.” It sounded like his voice was wavering but when Sirius looked at him again, his face still held that sad smile and he seemed calm. “You’re safe, Pads.”

Sirius just nodded and looked down again. Eyes in his lap, he was drawn to staring at their bare legs touching, both pale, Remus scarred beyond what he remembered seeing the last time they’d been together. It was funny to compare their skin tones. He usually had more color than Remus but now it seemed like they’d both give a ghost a run for their money. Absently, Sirius reached out and settled a hand on the man’s thigh. He only thought better of it when Teddy hiccuped and reminded him that there were seventeen years between them and en entire life that Remus had lived without him. He went to take back his hand when Remus shook his head and murmured, “Don’t.” Sirius didn’t need to be told twice; he left it where it was.

They sat like that until Teddy was done drinking and Remus had gotten him settled to go back to sleep. Sirius had calmed significantly by then and watched as the man laid his sleepy son back in his cot. He smiled when Remus gave the little boy that bright smile of his and then broke into a grin when Remus sang in Welsh to him. It was a song he used to sing for Harry when they babysat for James and Lily. When Remus joined him again, Sirius was still grinning. He got a bashful smile and flushed cheeks in response.

“I like it when you sing,” Sirius complimented, watching as embarrassed green eyes opted to stare at the floor. “You used to sing every Hallow… een…” His own eyes averted as he realized what he’d said.

“Yes, well…” Remus didn’t finish his comment and Sirius heard him swallow hard. “We should go back to bed,” he suggested instead after a moment.

Sirius nodded but didn’t get up. He didn’t want to be alone but didn’t want to admit it. He didn’t want to go back to that unfamiliar room and try to sleep on his own. He didn’t want to wake up in the dark and have no idea where he was again. He didn’t know what Remus was to him any more other than his best friend but it didn’t matter. It was stupid but he was afraid.

Remus sighed softly and Sirius wasn’t sure what it meant. He looked up to watch the man return to the bed and shift the pillows that had been stacked in the center to both sides. Their eyes met and there was a familiar warmth in that emerald gaze. He nodded to the pillows he’d just separated and pulled back the already rumpled quilt. “Come on,” he invited gently. 

How Remus knew what he’d been too scared to ask of him was beyond him but Sirius was glad for it. He moved to the head of the bed and quickly curled up under the blankets. Once the other man settled beside him, he was out like a light. He didn’t need to be held or even touched right then, just needed the heat of another body beside him to feel secure in the fact that he wasn’t alone.

Chapter Text

Other than that first confusing night sleeping beside Sirius, adjusting to living with him again after so long was largely a simple progression of falling into a new routine that felt oddly natural. Remus had woken early that first morning and left him sleeping while he got Teddy up and ready for the day. A disoriented Sirius had wandered into the kitchen while Remus was making breakfast and it had been so much like living in the flat together and watching his sleepy boyfriend emerge from the bedroom well after he himself had gotten up that Remus had needed to turn back to the cooktop and avoid eye contact for a while. As promised, Harry had joined them in the evening, laden down with a suitcase full of clothing for Sirius to borrow, and the strange family that the four had become settled in for another night of movies and getting to know one another. The rest of the week had followed very much the same and Remus was glad to note that Sirius appeared to be settling in. He’d slept in his own room every night other than the first but insisted on both doors being left open without the silencing charm. Guilty to be waking him every time Teddy fussed in the night, Remus agreed only when Sirius explained how much he hated the feeling of being alone and how being unable to hear Remus, even if it was just his breathing while he slept, kept him awake more than Teddy crying.

The day of the full moon began like every other day had so far. Remus was awake early again, though this time for a different reason, nursing a headache with a cup of steaming tea while Teddy rolled about on a playmat at his feet. He had a book in his other hand and was absently kicking a hanging toy every few minutes to amuse his son who giggled at him and reached for the little hanging stars when they swayed.

Creaking stairs announced Sirius’s approach before his sleep-mussed head appeared in the doorway. Remus didn’t look up longer than a brief glance. “The kettle boiled just a few minutes ago. There’s toast on the warming plate.”

“Thanks,” came the murmured answer before Sirius wandered off. Some shuffling in the kitchen preluded a sleepy wizard flopping down onto the couch beside Remus with a plateful of buttered toast and a coffee cup already to his lips. 

“Good morning, Sirius,” Remus greeted without looking up.

“‘Morning, Moony,” he answered around a mouthful of toast once he’d put down his coffee. Remus just rolled his eyes at him and turned his attention back to his book.

Some time later, Sirius leaned down and scooped Teddy up from under his mobile, holding him up to his face, butting his nose to the baby’s and grinning at him. “And how’s Mini-Moony this morning?” The little boy giggled and reached up to grab at his hair. His own was sporting a peculiar shade of purple for the time being. Remus had no idea where that had come from, much as his typical teal had no explanation his father could find either.

Remus set his book aside once Sirius was properly a part of the waking world and offered a small smile to the man and his son. He found it hard to believe just how well Sirius had adjusted to being around the boy. After his initial reaction, Remus had expected interacting with Teddy to be one of the most difficult things Sirius would need to do but instead, it seemed like the easiest thing. Talking about everything that happened and answering all of his questions over the past few days had been far harder. If anything, having Teddy in his lap while they talked seemed to keep Sirius calmer than he otherwise would have been. Still, there had been plenty more breakdowns, some of them his own, and a lot of heartache and tears on both their parts as Remus tried to fill the seventeen year gap in Sirius’s life while trying to also figure out what both their lives now entailed.

“I’m taking him to his grandad soon,” he commented as he watched Sirius play with his son. His smile widened despite the nagging pain behind his eyes.

Sirius looked confused for a moment and then nodded. “Right. Guess I had better make the most of this little Marauder-to-be until then.” A typical-Sirius grin stretched across the man’s face as he flopped over sideways on the couch and held Teddy laying on his chest. 

The little boy started giggling and squirming when Sirius started tickling him and Remus laughed along with him as he started clearing up the plates and cups from breakfast. He wondered if this was what life was going to be like for the foreseeable future. Sirius wanted to be an active part of Teddy’s life rather than just tolerating his presence as immutable. That had to mean something, right?

A few hours later, Teddy was settled for a stay with Lyall during the full moon and the days that followed while Remus recovered enough to be able to care for an infant again. His father didn’t complain. Far from it, in fact. He loved getting to spend time with his grandson and reminded his son to visit more often and keep in better touch with him rather than keeping to himself and suffering alone as he was often wont to do. Remus accepted the criticism with stoic smiles and, after a short visit, excused himself back home to Sirius with the hope that the man hadn’t gotten himself into trouble in his brief absence. He needn’t have worried since Sirius had managed to figure out how to use the television remote again and had found a daytime talk show to watch, amused by the screen as ever. Remus supposed having gone without it for so long made it more like the novelty it had once been when they first moved in together.

“You do realize that you have managed to find possibly the most boring program on TV, right, Padfoot?” Remus commented as he left the room to get himself another cup of tea to fight his growing headache. He wondered if a light pain relief potion might do him more good but opted not to for fear of interfering with the Wolfsbane Potion he needed to take that evening.

“Anything is more entertaining than staring at the wall!” Sirius yelled back at him, making no move to follow into the kitchen. Remus just shook his head and heated the kettle manually on the cooktop with a sigh, wishing his magic would behave itself instead of making him do things the muggle way. He supposed he had to be thankful his mother was a muggle and he had grown up doing things both with and without magic. Watching Sirius try to use the appliances in their kitchen when he’d first moved in had been hilarious to put it lightly. The ping of the electric kettle had made him jump the first time he heard it and watching the microwave turn had mesmerized him to the point of continuing to put things in it just to watch it go round. Remus had thoroughly enjoyed that one and had started offering him increasingly more ridiculous things to nuke, the funniest being an egg that exploded spectacularly and brought out such a boyish grin on his partner’s face that it had been worth it to clean the scrambled aftermath by hand rather than risk breaking the appliance with magic.

When Remus returned to the living room, tea in hand, Sirius was still hooked on the television. Remus ignored it and sat beside him, sipping at his drink and putting his head back on the cushions behind him. He let his eyes slip closed and left them that way until he felt Sirius staring at him. “Can I help you, Sirius?”

“You’re way better than you used to be,” the man answered, almost in awe.

“Excuse me?” Remus cracked an eye open to stare back. Sirius was appraising him curiously.

“You used to be a wreck the day of the full moon. Barely able to get out of bed, falling asleep all day on anything or anyone that would support your weight, mostly unresponsive, refusing to eat anything... Remember that one time I found you asleep standing up in the shower?”

“How can I not?” Remus asked with a soft groan as he let his eye close again. He’d somehow managed to get himself tangled up in such a way in the shower curtain that he remained standing even after passing out. He was woken up by ice cold water sprayed in his face and his boyfriend laughing so hard there were tears in his eyes. Sirius didn’t let him live it down for months.

“But you’re actually a functional human being today.”

“How astute of you to notice,” Remus answered dryly. Sirius seemed intent on staring at him even with his eyes shut so he offered a further explanation. “It’s the Wolfsbane. I honestly don’t know how I actually managed so long without it.”

“Damn, Moony… That’s amazing!”

Remus gave Sirius a faint smile and nodded in agreement before the movement exacerbated his headache. 

“What about tonight?” Sirius asked after a moment, his voice almost hesitant.

“The migraine is coming but won’t hit me until a few hours before sundown. And changing is still excruciating. I’m already starting to feel sore.” Remus sighed and suppressed a shudder. The potion made it easier but it was still no walk in the park by any means. “Hopefully you’ll sleep through me howling.”

“Why the fuck would I do that?” 

Remus opened his eyes again to find Sirius half glaring at him. He raised an eyebrow, prompting the man to go on. “You don’t seriously think that I am going to let you go through it alone, do you?”

“Well, I…”

“You, Remus John Lupin, are an idiot and a genius at the same time and that paradoxical nature of yours continues to baffle me even now,” Sirius answered, shaking his head. “I did not spend seventeen years worrying myself sick over you just to let you suffer alone now that I can actually do something to ease your pain. And don’t even think about trying to stop me.”

Remus didn’t know what to say. He just stared at Sirius with his mouth gaping and his eyes wide. He eventually just sighed and sipped at his tea again. Arguing with Sirius was pointless; the man would just follow him anyway even if Remus did forbid him leaving the house. And he had to admit that the idea of sharing the night with Padfoot again was hard to turn down. He almost found himself looking forward to moonrise. Almost.

Chapter Text

Sirius had always thought that Remus’s wolf was the most gorgeous creature he had ever laid eyes on. He just wished that it didn’t come at such a price. After an afternoon of quiet companionship, largely due to Remus’s worsening condition and therefore lack of a desire to talk or interact beyond just being physically in the room with him and touching him for some semblance of comfort that he doubted the man would admit to later, Sirius had managed to make a simple dinner for them both and had walked out into the woods surrounding the cottage property with the werewolf at his side. Remus put forth no complaints but Sirius suspected that he was simply too tired and uncomfortable to argue anymore. He shifted from lethargic to restless the further they walked and whenever Sirius stole a glance at him, he was anxiously staring through the tree cover to the darkening sky.

“You’re not alone this time,” Sirius reminded him when they finally stopped at a spot Remus indicated as his usual den. There was an overhang of tree roots and rock that had been filled in with a grassy mat something like a bed.

“Yeah,” Remus agreed quietly. He cast a glance at Sirius beside him and then stepped away to strip. Sirius smiled and refrained for chuckling when the man turned his back bashfully and handed his clothing over his shoulder; Sirius already had Remus’s wand in the back pocket of his borrowed jeans. 

“C’mere, Re,” Sirius coaxed, his arms open. Remus hesitated but then stepped closer again, allowing him to wrap them around his trembling frame. It was the first time they’d really touched so closely since Remus had welcomed him into his home without question a week ago. They hugged a lot and Sirius had quickly fallen into his habit of being in physical contact whenever he could, often without realizing it, but this embrace was different. Remus was completely vulnerable in that moment and letting Sirius see him and touch him that way said a lot about how much trust they still shared. “I’ve got you.”

Remus nodded and rested his head on Sirius’s shoulder as his thin arms wrapped around the man in return. They sank to the ground and he leaned heavily against Sirius as the worst of his pre-transformation symptoms gripped him. “Change,” he hissed between his teeth with the last rays of the sun.

Sirius did as he was told, unwilling to risk holding the wolf even with the supposed effects of the Wolfsbane Potion allowing Remus to keep his human mind while transformed. His form shimmered and shifted into the fluffy black dog his friends had dubbed Padfoot. Though thin, the weight Sirius had packed on in just his first week of freedom had already made the canine figure fuller and healthier than it had been in Azkaban. Fingers that were shifting into clawed paws clutched at his fur and whimpers came from Remus’s throat that Sirius had thought he would never hear again. As much as the memories and twisted nightmares hurt, witnessing the change was still heartbreaking no matter how many times he had seen it.

The whimpers became screams which in turn gave way to howls until Padfoot was laying curled around a panting wolf. He nuzzled the tawny face close to his own and licked his nose sympathetically. Inquisitive green eyes opened to peer at him and he swore that they looked more human than they usually did. He gave a short, chirping bark in greeting and a canine grin that was met with a similar sound and nuzzle under his chin; apparently the wolf remembered that Padfoot was the alpha even after all this time.

The wolf settled to rest a while, completely throwing Padfoot for a loop. He was used to needing to immediately distract him and start running. To be fair, he was glad for it. He wasn’t honestly sure he was up for a full night of running the woods. He certainly hadn’t expected to just end up snuggling through most of it, though. They spent hours just curled up in the warm summer night before the wolf finally decided he’d had enough sitting around and wanted to play. A lupine grin spread across his face as he got to his feet and pawed at Padfoot to get attention. The dog matched the expression and tackled him, starting an impromptu wrestling match that eventually turned into a chase. To his complete surprise, the wolf made no move towards the cottage and didn’t even attempt to leave the rough territory around the den he’d made. They stayed within a mile of any given direction, snaking back and forth between the trees and pouncing on one another repeatedly to determine who chased and who was being chased, before making it back to nap through to the early morning. Both were tired by then and when the wolf finally shifted back to Remus’s exhausted human form, neither were in any hurry to get back to the cottage. Having done it a hundred times before, Padfoot shifted back to his own form long enough to offer Remus his cloak and then settled down to snuggle around him as a dog once more. Remus was asleep in minutes and nothing else mattered in that moment. Remus was safe and Sirius was happy.

Chapter Text

It was early Tuesday afternoon when Remus apparated to his father’s home near Cardiff, Sirius in tow. Lyall had been watching over Teddy for three days now and Remus was anxious to see his little boy again. His son had been his reason for living for the better part of four months now so their time apart was difficult for him to handle. That said, he and Sirius had used the time alone to continue reforging their bond, made stronger through the full moon and the reminder that his Padfoot was back in his life and he didn’t need to suffer alone anymore. There was a part of him that was feeling guilty for thinking about Sirius that way so soon after losing Dora but there was another part of him that was absolutely certain that she’d want him to be happy in her absence. It was a fine line to walk and he was certain he’d fall one way or the other if he wasn’t careful. The look in Sirius’s eyes any time she came up in conversation told him which side he was rooting for but they carefully avoided putting it into words and settled for just sharing the simple intimacy of close friendship as they always had without taking it further just yet.

“You’re looking well, Sirius,” Lyall said in greeting with a warm smile while bouncing his grandson on his hip. The elder Lupin was still handsome, his hair thick despite having long since gone grey in a combination of stress and age and his chiseled features a hint at how Remus would look when he was older. The largest differences between father and son were that Remus had clearly inherited his height from his mother and, when it still had color, Lyall's hair had been a rusty auburn rather than the tawny blonde combination of both parents that his son sported, now flecked with grey of his own.

Sirius responded with a bashful smile and a murmured, “Thank you,” while remaining beside Remus; he seemed almost nervous. It was strange to see him like that though Remus brushed it off and opted not to comment on it. 

“Thank you for minding Teddy, Tad.” Remus reached out to ruffle the little boy’s soft ginger hair. He got a sleepy smile in return before the baby snuggled his grandfather’s shoulder.

“It’s no bother. I keep telling you, I like seeing the boy. Reminds me of when you were a lad and got into everything. Your mam and I had a right old time keeping you out of mischief and it’s nice to have a reason to revisit those times.” Lyall smiled at the boy and then at his son.

“Baby Moony is an image I’d like to know more about,” Sirius commented next to him, a grin on his face as he watched Teddy fighting to keep his eyes open. Lyall laughed and nodded to family pictures on the walls.

“No, no it’s not,” Remus answered, grabbing Sirius’s arm as the man started to wander towards the photos. “In fact, we have shopping to do.”

“Oh right! Muggle Cardiff. Been years! Bet it’s totally different than it was in the seventies.” Sirius was satisfactorily distracted and grinned at Remus again. Remus just rolled his eyes as memories of his last trip, resulting in the disastrous purchase of inappropriate posters for the sole purpose of pissing off Sirius’s parents, came to mind. At least this time the man didn’t have such a reason to act like a complete prat. Still, Cardiff did in fact look very different in 1975 compared to 1998.

“If you’re heading out, I can keep Teddy here,” Lyall offered, looking between the two men. “I was going to put him down to nap anyway if you hadn’t arrived when you did. Walking about with a cranky infant is no fun for anyone involved, trust me.”

Remus was torn. He wanted to spend time with his son but his father had a point. The boy could barely keep his eyes open and his hair was already shifting to black as his magic let go of his appearance with the onset of sleep.

“Let Mini-Moony have a kip,” Sirius insisted. He touched the baby’s cheek and gave him a smile when he got eye contact. Remus watched him then looked to Lyall and nodded his agreement.

“Alright. We’ll take him home after dinner?”

Lyall nodded. “If you’re back in time, I’d be happy to share a meal with my son and his best friend.” There was something about the man’s tone that made Remus question just how much his father was guessing about the situation. He made no comment of it but kept it in the back of mind for later consideration.

“We will gladly accept that invitation, Mr. Lupin,” Sirius answered with a small bow. His manners were remarkably impeccable, a remnant of his pureblood upbringing that he hadn’t managed to shake off, even now. They were entirely sincere and Remus was fairly certain he hadn’t even realized he was doing it. He did find it amusing that he’d accepted the invitation for the two of them though.

Lyall seemed just as surprised as his son by the way Sirius spoke but smiled and nodded to the door. “Well best be off, then. Teddy and I will see you when you get back.”

Sirius grinned, seamlessly back to his typical self again. He grabbed Remus’s elbow and guided him to the door before he could protest. “Bye,” Sirius called over his shoulder with a wave before shoving the man out the door. Remus heard his father laughing as the door shut behind them.

“I swear, Sirius, you are insufferable sometimes,” Remus told him with a shake of his head once he’d freed his arm from the man’s grasp. Sirius just kept grinning. The expression held firm as they began to walk towards the street corner to call a taxi from the phone booth. There was something about it that seemed put-on but Remus opted not to comment. If he said anything now, the excitement would probably fall and give way to anxiety or whatever else Sirius was hiding behind his smile. Instead, he would see how far they got and would be there to support him if he decided that it was too much.

Chapter Text

When the car pulled up at the street corner, Sirius wasn’t sure what to make of it. He’d seen cars before, plenty of them in his time living in Muggle London. He’d even been in them before, several times in fact. This car, though, he swore was smaller than he remembered. The thought of getting inside it was laughable at best and he tried to keep his wits about him as Remus opened the back door for him. He looked from the interior leather seats to the man standing beside him and was frozen. There was no way he could get inside. It was too small. 

They met eyes and then Remus gave him a gentle smile and leaned down to crank some sort of lever on the inside of the door. The window began to slide down and he remembered then what the device was for. He’d found it highly amusing when he first learned of it as a teenager and Remus had needed to grab both hands to make him stop messing with it so they didn’t get kicked out of the car; their driver had been glaring daggers in the mirror and Remus had apologized profusely once they were dropped off.

“That might make it easier,” the man told him gently before gesturing for him to get in again. Sirius only nodded before hesitantly climbing into the car. Having the window open hardly seemed like a suitable solution to the size of the car’s cabin but he opted to put his faith in Remus and whatever it was the man thought having the window open would achieve. He didn’t pull the door shut and instead just watched as Remus went around the other side and got in beside him.

“Do you remember how to buckle your seatbelt?” Remus asked as he leaned across to slowly pull the door shut. Sirius started to nod. They were a new thing in the seventies but he’d been in enough cars to remember that he was supposed to pull the thick strap down and attach it something by his hip. He felt around for the metal clip and yanked on it with one hand while the other felt around for the thing he was meant to put it into, some sort of box with a button. Then he heard the door latch beside and felt the blood drain from his face. Seatbelt forgotten, he instinctively grabbed Remus’s arm before he could take it back. He was trapped inside the tiny box of a car now and it was far too small. He was positive that it would crush him and Remus both.

Remus offered him a small smile and let Sirius cling to his arm. He used his free hand to make Sirius look at him. Sirius watched him, reading his lips more than really hearing what he was saying when he was told to breathe. He needed to focus and Remus seemed like a decent distraction. Anything was better than acknowledging how small the backseat was and how cramped he felt.

The driver asked something in an accent far thicker than he’d ever heard Remus use and while he had no clue what the man was saying, Remus seemed to understand perfectly and responded affirmatively that they were fine and just needed a minute. He reminded Sirius again to breathe and started leading him. It was easier then to follow him, taking deep breaths through his nose and blowing out through his mouth until the panic settled. Remus was with him. He’d be alright. Remus wouldn’t let anything hurt him. He knew that. He was okay.

Sirius allowed Remus to buckle him in but immediately grabbed his arm again once he could. That physical connection was the only thing keeping him grounded and as soon as he’d let go, he’d felt the upholstered roof bearing down on him again. When the car began to move, Sirius gripped Remus’s wrist so hard he could feel the man’s pulse, steady and firm under his fingers. Green locked with grey the entire ride, the gentle smile reminding him that he was safe even when everything in him told him otherwise. Right then, Sirius trusted Remus more than he trusted himself.

When the taxi came to a stop on a side street close to the city center and the shopping district, Remus discreetly opened Sirius’s door using magic with a flick of his finger and carefully coaxed the man to let go of his arm. With the door open and an escape now clear, Sirius hesitantly did so and then fumbled with the seatbelt mechanism to get out.

“Diolch,” Remus told the driver before shooing Sirius’s hands away to release him. Then he gently pushed him out of the car and followed by scooting across the seat rather than using his own door. Sirius watched him pass some muggle cash through the center console before exiting. 

“Maybe we’ll try the bus on the way back,” Remus commented as the taxi drove away. 

Sirius kept watching him and immediately felt guilty at the way Remus was apparently trying to return feeling to his fingers by flexing his hand. “Sorry…”

“It’s fine. I’m the only one who can break my bones,” Remus answered, smirking at him in a way that reminded him of the teenager he’d once been. It wasn’t often that the werewolf made jokes about his condition and Sirius wasn’t quite sure what to make of it now. Then the smirk softened to a more good-natured smile and Remus rubbed his wrist with his free hand while nodding towards the main street. “Shall we?”

Sirius gave a hesitant nod and followed Remus onto the decidedly more crowded street to find him some clothes of his own to wear without having to continue borrowing Harry’s. His godson had given him some money to go out and pick his own things to take back some of his independence and Sirius swore that he’d pay him back once they went to Diagon Alley to look into his assets. While nervous about being surrounded by so many people in Cardiff, he was far more worried about a trip into the Wizarding World where people were more likely to recognize him. Sirius knew damn well that he wasn’t ready for that sort of attention yet. The people here were muggles who wouldn’t know about the infamous case that landed him falsely accused in Azkaban for seventeen years. Even so, he stuck to Remus like his shadow and had to refrain from literally clinging to him and making things even more awkward between them. 

Sirius got through the shopping experience with only one panic attack in a dressing room that lasted until Remus ducked behind the curtain with him and pointed out that there wasn’t even a door to worry about. Sirius had felt silly after that and continued trying on clothes while Remus made himself small in the corner with a sweet smile gracing his lips. Overall, he’d enjoyed the trip and it felt good to be out and about, even if it had been mildly terrifying at first. He kept a grin plastered to his face and hoped that his frazzled nerves weren’t as obvious as they felt. With the way that Remus kept glancing over at him and offering smiles with whispered reminders to breathe, though, he wasn’t so sure he’d been able to hide it all.

Sitting at a coffee shop later in the afternoon waiting for the bus to take them back to where Lyall lived, Sirius was the new owner of several outfits suiting his style of jeans and leather, updated for the new decade, as well as a portable CD player which, he learned, was a replacement for the vinyls he had once collected. He was particularly pleased by that gift, along with the two CDs Remus had bought him of Queen and David Bowie hits, several of which he hadn’t ever heard. They’d been heading towards the bus stop when the music and window display of the record store caught Sirius’s eye and he’d asked if they could go inside. Remus had checked his watch and then nodded, letting Sirius lead the way to explore the shop. Like a wide-eyed schoolboy, Sirius had wandered the aisles, touching and reading things, asking questions and reacquainting himself with an old hobby that had changed in his absence. They’d spent so long in there that they had missed the original bus Remus had planned on catching and they had ended up at the coffeeshop afterwards to wait for the next one. Though Sirius had apologized profusely, Remus had said it had been worth it and gave him the bag containing his gift, somehow purchased while Sirius had been distracted. Remus suggested he listen to it on the bus to avoid possible panic and, once they finally boarded, Sirius was pleased to note that it, in fact, did wonders for distracting him from the closed-in feeling on the crowded transit. Remus didn’t seem to mind when he closed his eyes and sang along with the songs he knew and Sirius couldn’t bring himself to care about the other passengers’ feelings on the matter. If anyone made any complaints, Remus did not bother to tell him about it later.

Chapter Text

Trying to prepare lessons while a baby was in the house proved to be one of the most difficult things Remus had ever attempted to do in his life. Any time he sat down at his desk, Teddy would inevitably start crying for something. He was hungry or he needed his diaper changed or he was ready for a nap or he just wanted some attention. Remus felt incredibly guilty for ignoring his son in the times he was able to sit and work with Teddy just playing on the floor beside him and ended up playing with the boy instead after a short while. As such, not a lot got done.

Once Sirius had stopped laughing at Remus’s chosen career, and thereby getting whole-heartedly ignored until he was finished acting like a tosser, he had proven to be quite the boon. He volunteered to keep Teddy occupied and even took on tasks that Remus would have thought he’d avoid. He was genuinely surprised by how much Sirius remembered about caring for a baby and more than thankful that he took it upon himself to do just that so that Remus could finally get his work done without feeling bad about Teddy being left to his own devices. With only a week left before the start of term, the first week of classes and the general syllabus for each year needed to be worked out. He was, at least, able to work from his notes on the two years he had taught prior, thanking his lucky stars that he’d actually saved it all. He’d also already submitted his selections for books back in June when McGonagall had contacted him and he’d, reluctantly at first, accepted the return to his position as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Now it was just a matter of making sure that he was ready for that first week, full moon and all. 

“Sorry for barging in. Baby Moons needs a nap.” Remus turned to Sirius as the man came into the room with a sleepy four-month-old in his arms. Teddy’s hair had already gone black, unless he’d made it that way intentionally after playing with Sirius all afternoon. 

“‘Baby Moons’ is it now?”

“Yeah, well you know me with nicknames.” Sirius gave him a grin as he handed Remus his son. “He actually looked at me when I called him ‘Moonpie’ earlier.”

“Dear Merlin, you are not letting that one stick.” Remus shook his head and held Teddy against his shoulder, resting his cheek against the boy’s soft hair. Teddy made a gurgly tired noise and closed his eyes, tiny little hands grabbing at his father’s shirt. Sirius shrugged and flopped himself on the bed as Remus went to the cot across the room to lay his son down. With a hand on the baby’s back, he sang softly until Teddy fell asleep.

“I love it when you sing,” Sirius commented once Remus fell silent. His voice was calm and Remus could imagine the smile that would be gracing his lips when he eventually turned around, that same smile he always had when complimenting him or even just watching him. Remus had never thought that he’d had a good singing voice, not like Sirius. Remus only ever sang in Welsh and Sirius, when he wasn’t messing up the words, sounded better at even that. A smile of his own came along with memories of the man, then a boy, stumbling over the words of the Nos Galan Gaeaf song Remus used to sing at Halloween and later charming the jack-o-lanterns at the feast in seventh year to serenade the entire school. He’d had to deal with people asking questions about what it meant for weeks.

“I sang to him the day he was born,” Remus answered, still looking down at Teddy. “Dora was dumbfounded and told me I had to sing him to sleep every time. For a while it was the only thing that would settle him. Now it’s just a habit.”

Remus brushed his fingers over Teddy’s hair before turning to Sirius at last. The man was watching him with that smile he had known would be on his face, the unreadable one Remus had first seen at fifteen and had since translated into his personal smile; Sirius never smiled at anyone else like that. 

“I never thought you’d be the next one to be a dad.”

“It…” Remus sighed and went to sit down again in his desk chair, still watching Sirius but not wanting to sit beside him right now. “Neither did I,” he answered instead of his original aborted response.

“It what?” Sirius asked quietly, his head cocked at a slight angle in a way that reminded Remus so much of Padfoot that it made him chuckle briefly before he stemmed it off.

“It wasn’t intentional,” he finished after a moment. He decided there was no point in hiding it from Sirius. Nothing about his relationship with Dora had been intended to move as fast as it did. He had never intended to fall in love with her, never intended to actually do anything about it, never intended to be so reckless after giving in to his feelings, never intended to be a father and risk passing on his curse, never intended to marry her so quickly, never intended to raise a child alone. He’d been just fine acting as Harry’s godfather and caring for a teenager who could understand, to a point, the issues Remus had to contend with and fend for himself when needed. A baby who would grow into an inquisitive child before ever reaching that self-sufficient teenage stage years down the line was not going to be able to make sense of a father who had to give him up for days each month. Remus was dreading the day Teddy was old enough to start asking questions about why his monthly sleep-overs with his grandparents fell around the full moon or why his tada was so sick before and after those visits.

Sirius’s mouth made a little O without a sound and grey eyes travelled to Teddy sleeping across the room. Remus wondered what he was thinking but the man said nothing more and just watched the baby. After a while, Remus turned in his chair and put his focus back into his planning. Sirius never seemed to mind and had at one point recently commented that it reminded him of their time at Hogwarts when Remus would be studying or doing homework while Sirius just hung about enjoying the quiet company, steadfastly ignoring his own obligations until the last minute and regretting it every time despite making no changes to his behavior. The number of times Remus had tried to convince him to get a start on assignments before they were due… It never ended well.

“What’s going to happen once you go back to Hogwarts?” Sirius asked into the companionable silence some time later.

“What do you mean?” Remus glanced over at him. He was laying on the bed now, playing with a ball he’d conjured using Remus’s wand; he’d been borrowing it while still reluctant to go to Diagon Alley and get one of his own since his original had been confiscated and likely destroyed upon his arrest. Occasionally, Remus found himself missing the applewood scent that he had long since associated with Sirius. The man smelled of denim, leather and, with old habits dying hard, mint primarily at this point, along with hints of wildflowers from the meadows around the cottage.

“Teddy,” Sirius answered. Then, in a quieter voice that Remus would have missed had his hearing been of a typical range, he added, “And me.”

Teddy was already a given in Remus’s return to Hogwarts. While he still wasn’t positive on the exact details of taking the boy to school with him, he was assured that childcare was going to be provided while he was actively teaching. He and McGonagall had been in correspondence about whether to place him with a nanny in Hogsmeade during the day or have the house elves care for him. Remus preferred the former option but there was still time to work that out when he moved them into the castle a few days before the first. However, that was all discussed via letters back in June. At the time, no-one had expected Sirius to be released from Azkaban and it certainly wasn’t something he had discussed with anyone at Hogwarts since. Remus couldn’t exactly leave him in the cottage alone. Or could he? Would Sirius want to stay there alone? Would he be welcome to accompany Remus to Hogwarts or would he need to get a place in Hogsmeade nearby if he wanted to stay close? And with the way he’d been taking care of Teddy, having him there might even solve the childcare issue as well. There were a lot of things that, until that tiny question, Remus hadn’t even considered. He felt like an idiot and guilt surged within him for not taking Sirius into account with any of his planning.

“I think we need to talk to Minerva,” Remus finally answered calmly. He left his papers where they were and stood. Sirius had averted his eyes by then, his focus on the ball he was tossing up and down. It slapped into his hand and froze there.

“We don’t have a lot of time to answer that particular question. It would be best if we speak with her in person and iron out the details.” Remus continued as he watched Sirius lay his arms at his side and look over at him without sitting up. The man had a curious expression on his face, a mix of inquisitive calculating and crippling anxiety. Remus felt guilty again and went to sit on the bed beside him. Perhaps he needed to come at this a different way.

“What do you want to do when I go back, Pads?”

Worried grey eyes went wide and stared at him. Remus just smiled gently and waited him out. Eventually, he got an answer with eyes averted once more. “I want to go with you.”

Remus nodded. He’d had a feeling that Sirius would want that rather than to be left behind. He reached over and grabbed his wand from where the man had left it on the bedside table then cast his patronus. The shimmering wolf bowed its head at him after a moment and bounded off out the window. “It’s the fastest way to get in touch with her considering the floo network is not connected to Hogwarts outside of specified times,” he explained when Sirius gave him a confused look. 

Sirius just took the wand from his hand and stared it while twirling it between lithe fingers. Remus let him, knowing that fidgeting with things always tended to calm the man down when he was getting antsy. “I wonder if I can still cast a patronus,” he whispered.

Remus raised an eyebrow at him, not expecting that turn in the conversation at all. “You’ve been able to cast everything else you have wanted with my wand. Give it a go.” He knew full well that wasn’t Sirius’s concern but made a deliberate choice not to acknowledge the dark line of thoughts he knew was going through the man’s head. If Sirius was worrying about it, then it was almost certain that he wouldn’t be able to cast it.

Chapter Text

Moony knew damn well that wasn’t what he meant. The man was a genius and had been reading him since they were boys. He always knew what was really going on in Sirius’s head, often before he knew himself. As if he was worried about using a borrowed wand to cast the spell. While clearly not his own, Remus’s cypress wand was remarkably willing to work with him despite its unicorn hair core making it faithful to its true owner. After just a few tries, Sirius had been able to perform simple spells and had continued experimenting whenever Remus let him. Since the man usually did things manually or wandlessly, it allowed for a lot of practice.

‘Give it a go.’ As if it was that bloody easy to cast a patronus. Why had Sirius even said anything? He sighed and pushed himself into a sitting position, stilling the wand in his hand to hold in a firm grasp. Remus wasn’t going to let him back out of it even though he wished he could just wander away to get his headspace back to something resembling sane.

A happy memory. The last seventeen years were filled with hellish nightmares. How was he supposed to find a happy memory when the dementors had taken so much from him? Seventeen years in the dark, reliving every single one of his worst memories again and again, his own twisted imagination warping them into something even worse when the actual events weren’t good enough anymore. What did happy even feel like? There were days when he still felt that way. This morning had been fine. Now it seemed like the happiness he needed was slipping away from him, just out of his reach, like it was taunting him by showing him the light and flickering out whenever he tried to touch it.

“Expecto patronum,” Sirius mumbled; nothing happened.

“Padfoot, look at me.” Remus’s tone was calm and encouraging.

Sirius slowly looked up, his haunted eyes searching for something, anything, to hold onto as he met Remus’s gaze. Emerald eyes full of love and life stared back at him. There was more beneath that. He could see doubt and worry and that infernal guilt lurking behind the outpouring of affection but none of that mattered right now. Remus was smiling at him and they were so close and suddenly he was eighteen again and Remus was smiling at him in that same way and they were squeezed into an armchair in the Gryffindor Common Room and Lily was heckling them and then the world fell away as their lips met for the first time.

Sirius thought he said the words out loud but as the silver shape burst from the tip of Remus’s wand, he realized that he couldn’t have. Remus was frozen beside him, his eyes wide. Neither of them were looking at the patronus flitting about in the air. Sirius could taste chocolate and mint on his lips, warm and cool at once in an impossible way that somehow worked. Remus had bashfully admitted once that he chewed the gum Sirius had become obsessed with to cover the chocolate on his breath. Sirius had always loved the mix of flavors when they kissed. 

Fuck. What had he just done? Fuck, fuck, fuck. Sirius pulled away abruptly, toppling backwards on the bed and seeing the shape of his patronus before it faded. A wolf. His patronus was a fucking wolf. Since when had it been a wolf? Remus’s patronus was a fucking wolf. His was the bloody Grim, a giant fluffy dog like his animagus form. Remus was just staring at him. Fuck. He had fucked everything up. He knew Remus wasn’t even remotely ready. Why was he such a fuck up?! Fuck!

Chapter Text

Remus could not make the taste and smell go away. Kissing mingled the two in such a way that it lingered long after lips parted. It was part of why he always enjoyed it. And he had enjoyed it just now. That was the terrifying thing about it. He had enjoyed it. Hadn’t expected it, but had certainly enjoyed it. And every part of him that loved Dora screamed that it was not okay. While every part of him that loved Sirius screamed back that it was. It was a raging storm inside his head and Remus had no idea what to make of any of it. He just stared at Sirius pushing himself away and staring back at him with wide, horrified grey eyes. The patronus darted between them before it disappeared. A wolf. Like his own. Like Dora’s. Sirius’s patronus had changed for him, just like Dora’s had. 

Then his wand clattered to the floor and the man beside him scrambled off the bed and ran from the room, slamming the door. Merlin, how could this get any worse? Teddy started crying. It just got worse.

Remus forced himself to get up and went to his son, still in something of a daze but pushing that off to the side so that he could take care of the immediate issue instead of dwelling on whatever his love life was inevitably going to be after Sirius calmed down enough to talk.

“Shhh, fy machgen.” Remus rocked the little boy and rubbed his back to calm him. Teddy clung to his father’s shirt as he cried, eventually settling down again as Remus continued shushing him in a soft voice. 

“I suspect chances of getting you back to sleep are slim,” Remus commented as he kept rocking the boy even after he’d stopped crying. He sighed and started pacing the small room while letting his thoughts drift back to Sirius. There was no point going after him for now. When Sirius ran, he was never able to talk. He needed some time and space to himself before any sort of conversation was going to take place. On the upside, that let Remus figure out what he even wanted to say to him. He opted to lay on his bed with Teddy on his chest, amusing the child absently by making harmless sparks of light with the tip of his wand. Teddy reached out to wave at them and attempt to touch them, giggling when he was able and they splintered into more sparks.

By the time McGonagall’s patronus returned a reply, Remus was somewhat calmer. Playing with Teddy had settled his nerves and given him the chance to consider what he thought of Sirius kissing him. All in all, it wasn’t as if he didn’t already know Sirius was still in love with him. He could tell from the way he so often watched him that the feelings were still there. Sirius had easily fallen back into touching him whenever possible, half of the time without even realizing it until one of them moved. Then his bashful attempts to give them some space gave away his feelings even more than the actual contact had in the first place, especially when they inevitably ended up touching again once Sirius was no longer paying attention to his body. The issue, Remus realized, was more within himself, fighting against the genuinely moronic belief that he was betraying Dora by loving Sirius, that he was somehow tarnishing her memory by moving on so soon after her death. Calmer now, he knew that was stupid. He wasn’t moving on. He was embracing his love for both of them. By allowing himself to love Sirius he wasn’t giving up his love for her. Just as he hadn’t given up his love for Sirius when he’d fallen in love with Dora either. So it came down to the fact that Remus was being an idiot and he was aware that he was being an idiot and he just had to convince himself to get over it and stop being an idiot. Easier said than done but at least he recognized it now.

“Remus, I apologize for the delay in returning your message. I will come to the cottage tomorrow morning and we can discuss your return to Hogwarts at length,” the silver cat patronus told him in McGonagall’s voice. Then it pounced on one of the sparks Teddy had just broken, to the great amusement of the little boy it landed on top of, before disappearing.

“Shall we go and look for Padfoot?” Remus asked of Teddy once the last of the cascading sparks faded away. It had been long enough that Remus hoped that Sirius would at least allow himself to be found even if he didn’t want to talk. Perhaps an offering of dinner would help. Remus still had some muggle money left over from their shopping trip in Cardiff and, considering he had no real motivation to cook anything himself for the time being, decided to go into town and get some take-out to share with Sirius. He bundled Teddy into his harness, far easier to move with than a pushchair, and then went downstairs to put on his shoes. Sirius didn’t appear to be in his room nor even in the house at all. Remus sighed and cast his patronus for the second time that evening, sending it to find the absent man with the message that he and Teddy would be back soon. If Sirius hadn’t made himself available by the time they got back, he’d seek him out via alternate means.

Chapter Text

The patronus found Padfoot curled up under his bed in the corner farthest from the door. He knew Remus would eventually come looking for him but had opted to hide in the best way he could until such a time. Remus would find him; he always did. He’d been tempted to leave the cottage completely but the idea of being alone frightened him more than the terrifying feeling that he’d monumentally fucked up everything he shared with Remus in that one stupid impulsive move to kiss him. That he’d been egged on by his own memory of Lily telling him to do so was entirely beside the point. 

“Pads, Teddy and I are getting take-out. We’ll be back soon,” the shimmering wolf announced in Remus’s voice before it nuzzled his nose and vanished in a haze of silver mist. If Remus was still addressing him by his nickname, the affectionate shortened version of it in fact, then perhaps there was hope that things weren’t irreparable. 

Slowly, Padfoot shimmied out from under the under the bed and looked around. He still wasn’t willing to shift back to his human form. Things were easier to deal with when thinking with a canine brain, simpler unless he actively brought them into focus in his human mind. A look out the window told him it was getting dark. He’d be able to see the stars soon. Remus could find him out in the garden, even if it wasn’t the first place he looked. He padded out of the room and down the stairs, reaching up to open the kitchen door with his paws rather than briefly changing back to operate the handle. Then he wandered outside and settled in the grass by the low wall at the end of the garden, his head resting on his paws and his eyes on the sky.

“I thought I might find you out here,” Remus’s voice called softly as the smell of fish and chips wafted to his nose some time later. Then a warm body was sitting beside him. Padfoot looked up to see the owner of that voice offering him a chip with a Marauder smirk on his lips. “If you want more than one chip, I suggest you take a form with hands because I’m not going to sit here and feed you nor will I watch you shove your face into a newspaper bundle to eat your dinner.”

Padfoot took the offered chip between his teeth then gave Remus puppy eyes. Remus was willing to joke with him. That had to be a good sign. A wag of his tail added to his attempts at being cute to no avail. Remus just started eating his own meal while keeping Sirius’s out of reach. Padfoot huffed and rested his head on his paws again. He glanced at Remus a few times, earning subtle shakes of the head and that same smirk for his trouble, then huffed again.

Padfoot’s body shimmered as he sat up, his form shifting to a pouting man hugging his knees. Sirius looked over at Remus again and was rewarded with the paper bag containing his dinner. He ate slowly, having learned the hard way not to rush his meals. Eating had become easier in the weeks since his release but if he wasn’t careful, he could still make himself sick. Remus remained quiet as they ate, fairly typical of him for as long as Sirius had known him. He tended to only talk during meals if spoken to first and Sirius had no intention of doing that. Instead, he opted to look up at the darkening sky to avoid awkwardly staring at him.

Sirius wasn’t sure how long they’d been sitting before a gentle hand rested on his knee. He finally looked down and turned to Remus, a questioning and cautious look on his face. Remus initiating touch was the last thing he had expected after what he’d done earlier. But the man was looking at him with an almost mirrored expression. Sirius had no idea what it meant and sat frozen, waiting for an explanation.

“It’s okay,” Remus told him softly.

“How is any of this okay?” Sirius asked miserably. He kept his eyes locked with Remus’s, trying to make sense of what he was saying and failing. The man’s reaction before had told him plenty about how not okay this all really was. He’d frozen up, stared at him and made no move to go after him when he ran. That wasn’t the reaction of a man who was okay with being kissed out of the blue by his ex after his wife died a few months before.

“Because I’ve known it was coming for some time now. You look at me like you always used to. I knew you had feelings for me still,” Remus answered. His eyes were searching for something before he went on. “And I’ve known how I feel about you since I caught you at the Ministry when you tripped at the door of the courtroom.”

That was almost a month ago. The first day, within minutes of seeing each other. If he had known for that long, why the hell didn’t he mention it? Why hadn’t it ever come up in conversation? It seemed like a pretty important thing to talk about!

Teddy made a sleepy noise to interrupt his train of thought. Sirius looked at the baby strapped to Remus’s chest and the way that Remus was immediately smiling brightly at him with a hand on his back to comfort him. That was why. Remus’s life had changed. There was a little boy and a dead wife in his life now. That was why it hadn’t come up until now. Remus had a lot more going on than seventeen years being lonely and missing his partner and his best friends.

“So what does that mean now? What are we?” Sirius finally asked once Teddy settled and started falling asleep with his head on his father’s shoulder.

“What we always were,” Remus answered cryptically.

“What, exes who are still in fu- still in love with each other?” Sirius scoffed, barely catching the swear before saying it aloud in front of Teddy.

“Something like that,” Remus replied, averting his eyes and watching his son.

“And what are we supposed to do about that?!” Sirius asked, his temper rising at the obnoxious answers Remus always gave when he didn’t like where conversations were going.

Remus sighed and looked up again. The hurt and confusion in his eyes fizzled Sirius’s anger in an instant. He wanted to make that pain go away but he didn’t know how. “Let’s just take things slow, alright? I’m trying to figure this all out and I can’t… I can’t just run away this time, can I?”

Sirius quirked a smile at him. That was possibly the most mature thing he’d ever heard Remus say and if he hadn’t heard him say it aloud, he might not have believed it. Remus was a master at hiding from his problems and trying to make them disappear. Most of the arguments they had ever gotten into centered around that tendency of Remus’s to try and ignore things that scared him. While Sirius often needed space to get his thoughts together, he faced his issues head on once he figured out any semblance of a plan to do so. Remus just quietly pretended they didn’t exist until he had no other choice and then his choice was usually to run away.

“I know I’m being stupid, okay? It’s just hard because I love her and I love you and I’m trying to make it all make sense,” Remus went on after a moment. 

Once Remus lapsed into silence, Sirius answered him by taking his hand. “Do you remember what I said to you that night we came home from James and Lily’s place after Harry was born?”

Remus blinked at him and was obviously trying to remember the particular night Sirius was referring to. Emerald eyes searched the sky for an answer and then came back to meet Sirius’s steel gaze. He gave a small nod but said nothing.

“It’s still true. I intend to be right by your side, if you’ll let me.” Sirius’s smile dropped as he spoke and he waited earnestly for a response. It came in the form of teary eyes and a nod.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll let you, you daft mutt. Of course I’ll let you.”

The smile was back and wider than ever. Sirius went to hug Remus but then thought better of it. Remus laughed, apparently guessing what it was he wanted and hugging him with one arm, the other still supporting Teddy. That was all the invitation Sirius needed. He wrapped his arms around the man and held him as tight as he could without hurting the baby.

Chapter Text

To say that things went smoothly after acknowledging that something was still there between Remus and Sirius would be a bold-faced lie. It seemed like their roles had switched entirely and Remus found himself often being the one to initiate touch, even completely platonic touch like putting an arm around Sirius’s shoulders. Sirius, on the other hand, seemed nervous about where to put his hands or where to direct his gaze, as if acting like Remus was anything more than a roommate would create unnecessary tension. At times it was amusing to watch him act like a preteen with a crush. At times it was just exasperating. Remus had told him to take it slow but he hadn’t meant to back of completely. The only upside to the entire situation was that preparing to move to Hogwarts for the school year kept them busy, even with Harry’s help on the nights he was able to offer assistance. Packing up Teddy’s things and making sure that they had everything in order to close up the cottage until the holidays took up most of their remaining time in Yorkshire and when the day finally came to leave, it was both an exciting prospect and a terrifying one at the same time. 

McGonagall had assured him that the castle was habitable, that he would have a suite large enough to accommodate both Teddy and Sirius and that Sirius was certainly welcome to accompany him so long as they promised not to create mischief. A knowing look in her eyes had suggested that the thought of having two Marauders together at Hogwarts again was both amusing and worrisome at the same time. Sirius had put on his best innocent act and made like he had no clue what she was alluding to. Remus had barely contained his laughter as McGonagall pointed out that their godson had once sorted the discipline records in Filch’s office during a detention of his own and had filled an entire drawer with just the exploits of four Gryffindor boys who had a penchant for reaping havoc on the school in the seventies. On a more serious note, she’d even offered to give Sirius some odd jobs to help him feel useful once he felt up to the task. Remus had been thankful for that; though Sirius had offered to watch Teddy during class time, he knew full well that a bored Sirius would quickly turn into a troublemaking Sirius.

“Ready to go, Moony?” Sirius asked from the fireplace where he stood with Teddy strapped into his harness. He was wearing robes now, borrowed from Harry as they still hadn’t gone to Diagon Alley to get him replacement belongings; it was on their agenda once the crowds died down after school had started. Teddy, sporting his typical teal hair for the time being, was looking about from his higher than usual vantage point and seemed to be trying to make sense of the fact that it was Sirius holding him and not his father.

Remus joined them and offered his son his finger, earning him a smile from the little boy. He smiled right back and put the last of their belongings onto the cart they were taking with them to the castle. Most of it was Teddy’s things and Remus’s books. “Yes, I’m ready.”

Sirius ruffled Teddy’s hair and then took his hand so that he’d let go of Remus. The boy made a displeased noise at him but otherwise didn’t fuss. “To Hogsmeade we go then!” He grabbed a handful of floo powder from the mantle and tossed it into the flames. As they turned green, he stepped in and called out, “Hogsmeade Station.” Then he and Teddy were gone.

Remus sighed and looked around the room one last time. It looked so different with all of the baby things packed up and half of the books on the shelf boxed on the cart in front of him. Though it was home, it didn’t feel like home without those things. He looked to the cart and then stepped around it to grab a handful of floo powder. The flames turned green again and he pushed the cart into the fireplace. “Hogsmeade Station.” 

A rush of fireplaces swirled past him before stabilizing and settling on the image from within a mantle at the train station. Remus shook off the dizziness that travelling via floo always gave him and stepped out beside Sirius who was already waiting with a whimpering Teddy.

“It’s okay, Mini-Moony,” Sirius was cooing to the boy as he rocked from side to side, his arms around the baby in the harness on his chest.

Remus reached out and touched the back of his son’s head to help calm him. Sirius offered a grateful smile once the impending wailing was averted. As much as he disliked travelling by floo, it was the safest way to travel with Teddy. It was just unfortunate that Teddy seemed to share his father’s discomfort in that particular mode of transportation.

“Hagrid should have sent a carriage for us. It ought to be waiting at the edge of town,” Remus commented as he gestured to exit of the platform. Sirius nodded and started walking that direction, looking around as he did. Remus walked behind him, smiling to himself at the wonder on the other man’s face. He supposed it made sense, having not seen it in so long. He wondered how Sirius would react to seeing Hogwarts again and then his face fell. He wasn’t sure how he would react to seeing Hogwarts again either and the niggling worry in the pit of his stomach made its appearance again after he had thought he’d banished it earlier that morning.

Sirius stopped in his tracks once they entered the street to make their way to the pick-up point, the same place they’d always met the carriages in their youth. Remus could see it waiting there but followed Sirius’s gaze instead. “That wasn’t there before,” the man announced in a low, awe-stricken voice..

No. No, it wasn’t. A monument had been erected on the side of the road leading to Hogwarts Castle. It was nothing fancy but it was large and set back a little way with benches and manicured hedges around it. Flowers and cards along with children’s toys and other trinkets littered the base of a grey stone wall, carved from a single block and polished to shine. Remus couldn’t see the words from where they stood and, despite knowing he’d regret it, walked slowly towards the wall, leaving the cart on the side of the road with Sirius and Teddy.

In memoriam of those who lost their lives in the Second Wizarding War. May their light forever shine in the hearts of those left behind. 

Names were listed in alphabetical order in several columns under the etched epitaph. Close to the bottom of one, Remus’s eyes were drawn to one name in particular. 

Nymphadora Louise “Tonks” Lupin

  He felt his knees hit the cobblestones as his fingers reached out to trace the letters. Guilt flooded his entire being. He hadn’t visited her grave since the funeral, unable to bring himself to face the reality that she was really gone despite being forced to live on without her. And now, here he was, touching the name of the woman he loved, a woman lost in a battle she shouldn’t have even participated in, dead because he couldn’t protect her. The woman who brought so much light to his life after being stranded in the dark for so long, who left a legacy in a son who wouldn’t even remember her as he grew older. It should have been him. She should have been home with Teddy, recovering and reminding their newborn that soon, it would all be over and the world would be a better place even if his daddy didn’t come home. Instead, he’d been the one to return to the boy who’d just lost his mother and find a way to live without her. He did everything he could to keep her memory alive for Teddy but it didn’t feel like enough.

Remus hadn’t realized he was crying until he felt a gentle hand on his cheek. Sirius had managed to approach without Remus even noticing and was now kneeling beside him. Teddy was staring at him and looked confused and concerned, now old enough to begin to recognize expressions. Suddenly, Remus needed the little boy in his arms. Sirius seemed to understand what it was he wanted and moved to help unstrap the harness, letting Remus take his son and hold him close.

“That’s your mami,” he whispered to the little boy, touching Dora’s name again while hugging Teddy with one arm. “She’s a hero...” 

The tears kept coming but holding their son made the pain a little bit more bearable. An arm wrapped around his shoulders and brought him close. Remus gladly leaned into that warm embrace. He wasn’t alone and even though Dora was gone, he still had Teddy and the love they’d shared. He had Sirius, amazing, understanding, compassionate Sirius who was there for him and respected what he’d had with Dora while still loving him all the same. That support allowed him to finally accept everything and though they sat in front of the monument in silence for the better part of an hour, Remus felt better for it. He was finally able to let Dora’s light shine where only darkness had held onto his heart until then.

Chapter Text

McGonagall met them at the castle gates when they finally made it to Hogwarts. Remus had remained quiet, hugging his son and retreating into himself somewhat obnoxiously while Sirius had taken over dealing with the cart of their stuff. Luckily, Sirius still remembered how to levitate things and had borrowed Remus’s wand to do just that. The werewolf might be able to actually lift those boxes but even in his prime, Sirius would have had no chance of doing so. Sirius made no complaints though. Remus needed the time to process and though he’d claimed he was okay, he obviously wasn’t. He would be but he wasn’t there yet.

Sirius gave McGonagall a grin as he hopped down from the carriage. Remus climbed out a little more carefully beside him and turned his gaze to the castle almost apprehensively. Once Sirius followed his line of sight, he understood the expression.

“As you can see, gentlemen, there is quite the effort underway to repair the castle,” McGonagall said after greeting them; neither gave her more than a small nod in acknowledgement. “Many of the classrooms have been reorganized accordingly. Dormitories and the Great Hall, as well as primary hallways were priority to allow for students to return and, as we are able to open up new parts, teachers can move to their original classrooms as needed. If you will, I can show you to your quarters.” 

Sirius took hold of Remus’s elbow to coax him into following their former professor when the man appeared rooted to the spot. He began shuffling his feet, letting Sirius lead the way while his eyes roved the castle. Sirius knew it wasn’t worth asking him anything. Those emerald orbs were lost in memories that Sirius couldn’t even begin to imagine. He’d lived through the first war but it had all been small scale skirmishes and more based around espionage than large scale battle. Sirius hadn’t ever heard of a wizarding fight taking more than fifty lives from just one side and countless more death eaters to boot.

In a way, the massive damage to the castle almost made it easier to be back after so long. The places he and the Marauders used to haunt were irreparably changed now and it was possible to put up a mental wall between the past and the present. While he recognized a spot they’d liked to sit and study by one of the fountains, the fountain itself had been removed, presumably destroyed in the Battle, and was just a set of benches surrounding a small pool now. He could see the Whomping Willow in the distance but even it looked different, bigger yet damaged, some branches missing while new ones grew in their place. The castle was also lacking in its lifeblood, the students, and was eerily quiet as they walked through the courtyard and in through the massive wooden doors that served as the primary entrance to Hogwarts. Seeing hundreds of uniform clad teenagers would probably remind him more of his own time there.

Remus was growing paler by the minute and Sirius opted to grip his arm rather than just touch him out of fear that he might just freeze up or fall to his knees again as he had in Hogsmeade. He hated seeing his Moony like this but there was nothing he could do about it. While his memories of Hogwarts were all good ones, Remus had a whole lifetime worth of bad ones more recently stacked on top of those. He had to drag the man by force down the hallway when they both saw a memorial plaque on the wall in the foyer outside the Great Hall. It didn’t list names like the monument but it was enough to make Remus stop in his tracks.

“I understand completely if being in the Great Hall will be difficult,” McGonagall commented softly once they’d gotten past it without actually going inside. She looked over her shoulder at Sirius leading Remus along while her fellow professor was looking about as if lost in thought; he didn’t answer. “Take these few days of peace to get settled before the Welcome Feast. And if, after that, you wish to dine in your quarters each night, you are certainly not obliged to join the staff in the Great Hall. Some of the older students, though, will certainly find solace in seeing a friendly face they remember once again sitting at the head of the Hall.”

They were taken to a part of the castle that Sirius had only really ever been in when exploring to make the map. It was an undamaged wing that housed several teachers’ quarters. The suite they were shown to had a large office with a couch on one wall and a desk with bookshelves across from it. An armchair was in the corner nearest the door and their things had already been brought up, stacked neatly in the center of the room. A dining table took up the far corner, complete with a high chair for when Teddy was old enough to use it; he was getting there at just over four months. A short hallway stemming from a door beside the desk lead to a bathroom and two bedrooms. McGonagall told them they were welcome to rearrange any of the furniture as they saw fit so long as the main room served as the office for students to visit when needed and, after giving a concerned look over at Remus, left them to settle in. Sirius deposited Remus, with Teddy, on the couch and set about unpacking and doing just that. By the time he was done, the suite was beginning to feel more like a flat and much more like home. Most of the personal effects were set up in the bedrooms both containing huge four poster beds and one also housing an ornate cot for Teddy in the corner. A part of him found it rather funny to set up a changing station on top of the antique dresser in Remus’s bedroom. He’d also transfigured some of the more stuffy furniture into more comfortable renditions, including the couch Remus was sitting on, while he was sitting on it. It now looked more like the cushy couch they’d left behind, complete with soft pillows and a red and gold blanket he’d thrown over the back for old time’s sake.

“Feeling any better, Moony?” Sirius asked as he flopped himself down beside the man, feeling more than a little worn out. It took far more effort to do magic with a borrowed wand than it ever had to use his own. The spells, at least, came back to him like he’d used them only yesterday despite some of the more complex transfigurations being based on spells he’d last cast in his teens. And damn did they ever have a lot of stuff for the baby.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Remus answered in a broken voice beside him.

“Don’t give me that, Re,” Sirius told him, looking up at him even though Remus wouldn’t return his gaze. He wasn’t even sure what Remus was looking at but it seemed like nothing at all. Sirius reached over and took Teddy from him, tickling the boy and giving him some attention since his father seem disinclined to offer it himself. The baby giggled and turned his hair black almost immediately.

That finally got Remus’s attention. He watched his son playing with Sirius and though he didn’t smile, Sirius could tell that he was focused again at last.

“You’ve got me and this little pup to keep you occupied when you’re not dealing with the flood of brats that you’ll be teaching,” Sirius went on. His word choice earned him the faint smirk he’d been hoping for and he took it as a win. He looked to Teddy and smiled at him. “We’ll make sure your daddy doesn’t do anything silly, right, Mini-Moony?”

“What sort of silly did you have in mind?” Remus asked softly, some life finally returning to his tone.

“Oh, I don’t know. Not eating. Holing yourself up in your room. Locking yourself in the bathroom.” Sirius shrugged and then grinned what Remus had always called a Marauder grin. “Flooding the dungeons. Charming the prefect toilets to flush backwards whenever the Slytherins use them. Colluding with Peeves to set off dungbombs in old Dumbles’ office.”

Remus stared at him with a flat expression. “Those were all the exploits of you and Prongs and I told you both not to do any of them.”

“They were well worth the detentions!” Sirius argued, still grinning.

“If you are going to be giving my son bad ideas about how to spend his time at Hogwarts, then hand him back.”

“Nuh-uh. He’s my mini Marauder. Someone’s got to show him the ropes.” Sirius laughed and got up, whisking Teddy along with him to retreat to his bedroom with Remus tailing them. The other man was smiling for the first time since that morning.

Chapter Text

It took Remus a little while to set up the classroom the way he wanted it, grouping desks to allow for the students to work together as needed and giving plenty of open space in the front for active demonstrations. It was a different room from the one he’d been in before because of the reconstruction efforts but he didn’t mind. It was better that way, a chance to create new memories instead of reliving old ones. Sirius kept him company while he got settled, playing with Teddy on the floor or sitting on top of desks and cracking jokes whenever he felt like Remus was getting broody, as he called it. To Sirius, that seemed to translate to any time that Remus hadn’t said much in the span of about ten minutes whether it was actually true or not; usually not since he was just trying to figure out how he wanted something or what else was left to do. It brought back memories of trying to study with the rambunctious teenage version of the man hanging around and being a general nuisance to anyone who happened to be in the vicinity. Since most everyone else left before they could become a subject of his attention, that usually meant Remus. He had become quite adept at tuning it out at the time but it was somewhat more difficult now when a big part of him was still in shock that Sirius was even in his life again and wanted to acknowledge rather than ignore him. Eventually, he ended up handing over his wand to give Sirius something to do and told him to mess with his CD player to try and charm it into working within the castle. That shut him up for a while and Remus was able to finish his preparations in peace while Teddy napped in Sirius’s lap.

The evenings often found Remus pouring over his lesson plans, making tweaks and finalizing his curriculum. In the aftermath of the war, he had made some changes from years past. While hoping that they’d never need to rely on the skills he taught them, Remus intended to give his students a more comprehensive and practical course of study than had ever been offered, even in his two years as a teacher before. That started with including things that had been considered too complex before Harry proved that teenagers could handle them in his fifth year. In fact, he drew a lot from his godson’s extracurricular tutoring sessions despite Harry having admitted that a lot of his teaching style came from emulating Remus. Remus felt that Harry could have been a very good teacher if he chose to pursue it rather than working as an auror. He supposed that he very well still could if he really wanted to.

“Remus!” He looked up briefly to acknowledge the whine coming from across the room. It was the last night of August and Sirius was laying on the couch with Teddy. He had been amusing the little boy with light displays from his borrowed wand but it seemed that Teddy had fallen asleep.

“I’m bored!” Sirius continued whining. “And you’ve been looking at those damn plans all day. Just how much more prepared can you get?”

Remus turned in his chair and leaned back, fully facing the man. He offered him a faint smirk and a raised eyebrow. “So what did you have in mind?”

“I don’t know, anything. I can’t get the CD player to behave itself and your books are boring and there isn’t even anyone to prank yet other than the teachers.” Sirius groaned and threw an arm over his eyes dramatically.

“I for one am glad that you have seen the folly in pranking the faculty,” Remus answered, his voice flat. Sirius just groaned at him again. It reminded him of the behavior of a much younger man and then Remus realized something that he couldn’t believe he had never considered before. While Sirius was almost thirty-nine, he’d never had the chance to live, to grow up, to mature past the young man he’d been when he was arrested. Sirius had walked back into the outside world with the body of a man much older than his broken personality. He was acting like a young man, the young man Remus had known, because, for all intents and purposes, he was a young man. Merlin, did that make him feel old.

“Oi, Moony, what’s with the pensive broody face all of a sudden?”

“No reason,” Remus brushed him off, offering Sirius a disarming smile.

“Bollocks.”

Remus just shrugged at him and stood. “Where is your CD player?”

Sirius pointed across the room to the dining table and watched him as he walked over to investigate the charms that had already been placed on the device. Remus silently summoned his wand from across the room, smirking when Sirius made a surprised sound as it was pulled from his pocket. “Coulda just asked,” he complained even as he followed it to see what Remus was doing.

“Some of the issue is the stability of the magic because you’re using my wand,” Remus explained as he set about repairing the charms. Sirius sank into one of the dining chairs to watch, Teddy still in his arms. Remus glanced at him and gave him a small smile. “How about we put Mini-Moony to bed and then we can work on this together?”

Sirius gave him such a bright smile that Remus was sure he was looking at the twenty-one year old man he’d last seen almost two decades ago. “You called him Mini-Moony!” His eyes suggested that there was far more to his excitement than that but Remus just shrugged and smiled back at him.

“It’s sort of stuck since that’s all you’ve called him for a month.” That and Remus refused to acknowledge most of the other ridiculous names Sirius had bestowed upon his son. Very rarely was the boy ever called by his name. Absently, Remus made a point of making sure that, once he was old enough, he at least knew his full legal name was actually Edward rather than Teddy. 

“I win!” Sirius got up again, grinning now. He hugged the sleeping baby gently and wandered to Remus’s bedroom to set him down for the night. Remus shook his head and followed. 

They spent the rest of the night at the dining table, experimenting with charms on the CD player and laughing and joking like old times. It was able to spin the discs by the time they were done but still wasn’t cooperating when it came to translating that to sound or functioning without a wand touching it. Charming the batteries to work without magical contact would need to be the next thing to tackle if it was ever going to function independently. It gave Sirius something to do though now that he had a specific problem to solve. Even if Remus had to cast the actual charms for now, Sirius could research in his absence and would hopefully have a wand of his own again soon anyway. 

The first weekend of the school year, they were intending to go to Diagon Alley, provided Remus felt up to it at least. With the full moon on Sunday and a full week of teaching classes leading up to it, he worried he might not be able to do a lot more than sleep most of the weekend. Which reminded him, he needed to take his potion before heading to bed. He sighed and got up from the table once they’d decided to call it a night. Sirius watched him with a confused expression before dawning realization lit up his eyes.

“I’ll get it.” Sirius disappeared into the bathroom where the Wolfsbane Potion was kept along with the healing potions and bandages. It was a muggle habit they’d both adopted to keep medicine in the bathroom, first from Remus’s childhood and then their own flat.

Remus smiled faintly and trudged to his bedroom. Teddy was still sleeping soundly and was getting better now about sleeping through the night, for which Remus was blessedly thankful. Much as he loved his son, waking up nightly for the first couple months with no-one to assist him had been awful. 

He could smell the potion before he detected the undertones of Sirius’s unique scent beneath it when the man entered behind him. Sitting on the bed watching Teddy sleep, he glanced over and offered a smile of thanks when he took the offered cup.

“I wish this wasn’t so disgusting,” Remus commented with a soft sigh before taking a deep breath and downing most of it in one gulp. He grimaced as he drank the rest of it and handed the cup back to Sirius who, by then, was fighting a grin at his expense. “Be glad it would kill you if you ever drank it. I think that might be a preferable result.”

Sirius rolled his eyes and grabbed Remus’s wand from the bedside table to scourgify the cup. “And you claim I’m the melodramatic one.”

“Pads, you once claimed that losing a bet with James and having to dye your hair green for a week was the end of your life as you knew it,” Remus answered dryly.

“And it was! What self-respecting Gryffindor would be caught dead sporting Slytherin colors?” Sirius complained, looking aghast with a hand on his chest. “And that git wouldn’t let me wear a hat or a bandana to hide it either!”

“It was a bet.”

“Your point?”

“You were the one stupid enough to bet that you could beat him at chess,” Remus answered, reclining on the bed and refraining from so much as smiling at Sirius.

“Yeah, well I was drunk at the time, wasn’t I?” Sirius actually pouted at him and almost broke his resolve to keep a straight face.

“And whose fault was that?” Remus asked.

“Yours, actually. It was your birthday.” Sirius flopped onto the bed beside him and poked him in the chest.

“Yes and I definitely told you to drink while we were underage. It was my sixteenth birthday and I still don’t know how you and Peter managed to even get the alcohol into the dorm anyway.” Remus looked at the man beside him, aware of how close he suddenly was.

“Entirely beside the point. It was your fault because it was your birthday. And you weren’t doing a whole lot of complaining about the booze at the time.” Sirius rested on his elbow and poked Remus in the chest again while reclining on his side.

“No, but I also didn’t make a habit of betting on things I knew I wouldn’t be able to win,” Remus retorted. He watched Sirius beside him, struggling to keep his expression flat. 

“No-one ever said I was the most intelligent man in the world when drunk. That honor falls on you, Moony.” Sirius watched him and then grinned suddenly, giving up his dramatic act. “Is that a blush on your cheeks?”

“No.” Remus rolled away from Sirius to hide his face. Sirius laughed at him and pulled on his shoulder to lay him flat again. Remus refused to make eye contact and grabbed Lucky from his pillow to cover his face instead. Now who was not acting his age?

“What do you reckon Prongs would say if he saw you still had that thing?” Sirius tried to lower the wolf but Remus wouldn’t let him. 

“He would be touched,” Remus answered, his voice muffled by the toy. “And he’d call you a tosser for tormenting me.”

“Tormenting you?” Sirius laughed again and Remus felt him fall back onto the mattress beside him rather than looming over him. He risked a peek, his cheeks still feeling warm. Curse his low blush factor. The man was laughing heartily and hugging himself. “I could do so much worse and you know it, Moony.”

Remus began to smile, his cheeks still flushed embarrassingly, which of course did nothing to help them fade. He held Lucky a moment longer before setting him back above his head on the pillow. Something about the way Sirius was so happy and so close was making him feel like a teenager all over again. And after recognizing earlier in the evening that neither of them were even remotely close to being teenagers anymore, it just made the whole thing even worse. He wasn’t even sure how he was supposed to feel right then. In a way, it was like it was before with Sirius and in a way, it was like he’d felt around Dora when she’d been in a silly mood. They both had a way of teasing him to the point of getting him to laugh rather than getting him pissed off. Both of them could apparently make him forget his age as well.

Sirius got himself under control and turned his head to look at Remus again after a while. Remus was smiling fully by then but could do nothing about the blush on his cheeks. Sirius just grinned at him. “Guess we should actually go to bed.”

“Probably wise,” Remus agreed. Neither of them moved once they made eye contact. Remus watched Sirius’s grin soften into that special smile of his and he felt his own expression change to match.

“Think I could…?” Sirius started but trailed off.

“Yeah,” Remus answered in little more than a whisper. He rolled onto his side and closed the space between them. Grey eyes went wide when, for once, Remus was the one kissing first. Remus watched him for a split second and then let his own eyes close. He felt a timid hand twine into his hair and enjoyed the intimacy of that simple touch. When they parted and he opened his eyes again, Sirius was searching for something in them. Remus offered him a gentle smile and rested his head on his pillow while he waited for him to say something.

“Not what I was going to ask but I won’t complain,” Sirius finally whispered.

“You want to stay,” Remus answered knowingly.

Sirius’s eyes went wide again and Remus just kept smiling. Honestly, he could use the company to settle his nerves for the day ahead. Nothing more than laying next to each other like that first night, just the warmth beside him to remind him he wasn’t doing any of this alone anymore. More than anything, as weird as it seemed since they’d been in constant contact for an entire month, he just missed Sirius.

“I said yeah didn’t I?” Remus added when Sirius just kept staring at him. The man nodded and then sat up. He awkwardly excused himself to change, returning minutes later to curl up in bed with Remus. With a wave of his hand, Remus extinguished the lights with the exception of a nightlight over Teddy’s cot. Sirius hesitantly grabbed it when he laid it down on the pillow by his head and Remus couldn’t help but smile.

“I’m not made of glass, you know?” Remus told him, finally addressing the often frustrating caution Sirius was displaying around him lately.

“I know. I just don’t wanna fuck this up.”

“You couldn’t if you tried.”

“Don’t tempt fate.” Sirius sounded strangely grave and Remus opened his eyes to examine him in the near darkness. His eyes were closed at that point and his expression was downturned.

“Pads, you know I would tell you if something you were doing actually bothered me, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Sirius still didn’t seem to relax. Remus sighed softly and leaned in to kiss him again in the hopes of knocking him out of the unexpected rutt he’d gotten himself into. It seemed to do the trick.

“So quit being afraid of me and of yourself and of us.”

A small smile quirked Sirius’s lips and he peeked at Remus before closing his eyes again. “Alright. But you have to stop being so damn broody too.”

“Deal,” Remus agreed with a sigh after a moment. How he was going to actually live up to his end of that bargain, he wasn’t entirely sure but if it meant that Sirius was going to stop pretending he was an awkward preteen around him, he would figure it out. “Now go to sleep.”

A soft chuckle and a gentle squeeze of his hand was the last thing Remus remembered before falling asleep that night. Morning came with a faceful of fluffy black hair and the left side of his chest along with his shoulder and arm completely numb. The sun creeping in from behind the window suggested it was a little past sunrise and, amazingly, Teddy hadn’t woken up yet. It gave him the time to enjoy the position he was in for just a moment before he needed to accept that today was the day he’d meet his new students, some of them old students, and take up the life of a teacher once more. For now, he was making the most of a warm bed and a warm relaxed body he never thought he’d be holding again. He didn’t have to be Professor Lupin until that afternoon when the teachers met just before the Welcome Feast. He was just Remus.

Chapter Text

Seeing the Great Hall from the staff table was a new experience for Sirius. He and the Marauders had wandered the room casting all sorts of magic in their time at Hogwarts and he had certainly been at the head of the Hall to cause all sorts of inspired mischief, he had never been up there when it was filled with nervous, excited students in a sea of black robes and accented house colors. The room looked so big and the kids looked so small. He supposed he had to have been that small at one point but it was hard to imagine now. Twelve year-old Sirius was a far cry from the man he was now. He was so carefree then, only his awful parents to worry about and at school, they were far from his mind, leaving him to focus on Marauder pranks and enjoying his friends’ company.

Several of the people on the raised dais with him were faces he recognized from his own time at Hogwarts and he had to wonder just how old some of them were at this point, some twenty-plus years after he’d graduated; some had looked old even then. Flitwick, for one, who had greeted him with a hearty handshake and a wink, looked exactly as he had back then. And Binns was still around and probably would be until the end of time. They had once tried to figure out when he’d died and come up empty handed. The ghost failed to acknowledge him and probably didn’t even remember his current students’ names, let alone former ones. History of Magic had been prime time to plan pranks since Binns had absolutely no awareness of his classroom at all. Sprout and Slughorn recognized him as well and, for some ungodly reason, Filch was still around. Having never liked one another, that reunion had been one of cursory glances and barely withheld glares on the custodian’s part and Marauder smirks from Sirius. Some of the younger teachers Sirius recognized as former classmates in other houses though the two that even Remus had admitted to not knowing until faculty meetings earlier in the day were a mystery to him. With Remus beside him looking torn between wanting to bolt and faking a smile for anyone who didn’t realize it was a farce, there was no hope of getting their identities from him. Sirius figured he’d have to wait for McGonagall to make her welcoming announcements and introductions. 

As the first of the new students, looking tinier still lined up along the front of the room, began their sorting, announced by Flitwick as the new Deputy Headmaster, Sirius looked again at Remus beside him. He said nothing but gently settled Teddy in the man’s lap rather than his own. The baby had a charm around his ears to block out most of the noise and therefore not disrupt the Welcome Feast by becoming overwhelmed by the cheering that was now taking place. He was presently sporting tawny blonde hair and looked a little freaked out despite the muffled sounds around him. Sirius figured both the baby and his father could garner a little comfort from each other and was proven right when the fake smile shifted into a semblance of the gentle smile Remus always gave to his son. Remus murmured something to him in Welsh and rocked him gently. Sirius noticed several of the girls in the crowd making eyes at the scene and whispering to each other but Remus was too focused on Teddy to worry about it.

When the last boy, a skinny lad by the name of Bradley Zhao, was sorted into Hufflepuff and shuffled across to his wildly cheering table of housemates, Flitwick set the sorting hat and the stool in the corner and took his place at the table with the rest of the staff. Then McGonagall stood and moved forward to address the students. A simple raise of her hand brought the room to silence in a way that Sirius had always admired. Only she and Dumbledore had ever had that much command over the school. The woman didn’t even need to use a Sonorous Charm to amplify her voice; there was not a sound in the room to call over.

“Welcome, students and staff, to Hogwarts. This year is an important year for the school. It is the first year of a new era and a testament to the strength of our will. Though the castle may look different, though it is still under heavy repairs and classes are held in different rooms than most of you will be accustomed to, we are all still here. We all still stand within these walls and share our high regard for education and the search for knowledge in spite of all that has happened.

Many of you were last here in May, when the Wizarding World was brought to its knees and the Second Wizarding War finally ended. Yet we stand tall today, honoring the heavy cost of victory and the sacrifices made so that we may work to bring light back into the world. 

It is on that profound note that I ask you all to join me in a moment of silence to begin our school year in memoriam.”

Sirius joined the staff as they all stood. Remus had his eyes closed while he held Teddy close. Others were looking to the ground or quietly watching the students. A few at first, followed by more, stood quietly until every witch and wizard in the Hall was standing respectfully. Some put arms around each other while others looked to the empty seats at the tables once filled by friends lost. Sirius discreetly reached out for Remus’s hand and received a grateful squeeze in response. 

McGonagall offered a somber smile and a simple gesture after a few minutes. All eyes were on her as people sat once more. “This year, there are many familiar faces joining us once more. First, I would like to welcome many of our seventh year students from the last year back to the school. Some will be taking their NEWTS before Christmas while others have elected to take the entire year as honorary eighth year students in order to sit their exams with the seventh years in June.”

A round of applause rose in the room as several of the oldest students bashfully waved for their classmates.

“Next, I would like to welcome back our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus Lupin. He has graciously agreed to step into my vacated position of Head of Gryffindor House. You will also notice he is joined by his family.”

Remus reluctantly stood and offered the school a small bow of his head while Teddy peered around from his arms. There was an even louder round of applause as well as several cheers and calls of, “Welcome back!” Sirius noticed many of the older students waving at him with grins. He’d had no idea how popular Remus had been among his students. Glancing at Remus, he saw the fake smile falling further and a faint blush rising. Apparently, Remus hadn’t realized that either.

When Remus sat and McGonagall quieted the warm welcome with a smile and raised hand, Sirius took his hand again and grinned at him. He got a small smile in return before the headmistress was speaking again.

“Two new teachers are also joining the staff this year. Professor Fairigonda Spellinger will be teaching Transfiguration in my stead.” A tall middle-aged woman with small sharp glasses that sat at the end of her nose and poofy blonde hair styled into a curls around her long face stood at the other end of the table. She had a stern look about her but wore a friendly smile as she waved demurely. The students clapped politely and gave her appraising looks.

“And Professor Cassandra Murdock will be teaching Muggle Studies this year,” McGonagall introduced as Spellinger sat down. A short red-haired woman with a round face and bright girlish smile stood and waved to the students. She seemed fairly young from what Sirius could tell. The students seemed more enamored with her than Spellinger and gave her more enthusiastic applause until the woman sat and they were silenced again by their headmistress.

“As we all gather here within the halls of Hogwarts, different though it may be, I would like each of you to consider that we are united. Your houses offer you opportunities to meet those of like mind but also remember that friendships can and should form across the boundaries of our uniform colors. The founders themselves were the greatest of friends despite their many differences.” She gestured to the great hour glasses of colored gemstones and house banners across the room. “While there is a spirit of rivalry among the houses in the form of the House Cup and quidditch games, honor the unity of those who came together in the final battle of the War. Witches and wizards of all houses and walks of life fought for what they believed in: a better world in which we could all stand as one. With that unity in mind, sitting as a house during meal times will only be enforced when the entire student body is attending a feast. Come morning when you join friends new and old for breakfast, I encourage you to sit together and blur the lines between your houses.”

There was a murmur among the students, some favorable and others apprehensive. The Slytherins seemed most put off by the idea but some of the younger ones were obviously more open to it than their upperclassmen. Sirius thought it fascinating and had never truly considered it before now. The thought of befriending a Slytherin was off-putting but he remembered the way that Lily and Snivellus had been pals up until fifth year when the slimy git pushed her last nerve and called her a mudblood in front of everyone. Getting James to back down after that little show had been a monumental effort for Remus and Peter. Sirius had of course been no help as he hated the boy’s guts anyway and had been looking for an excuse to let out some pent up frustration at the imminent reality of being sent home for the summer. Remus had also talked about how the kids weren’t all their house stereotypes made them out to be and in his time teaching before, he’d found he had a certain respect for the Slytherins when they weren’t being actively antagonistic towards Harry, which supposedly applied to Harry’s year more than the others. Perhaps he could be convinced that McGonagall was onto something by encouraging inter-house relations but the jury was still out on that one.

“With something to think about, enjoy the Feast and welcome, again, to Hogwarts!” McGonagall waved her wand calmly and food magically appeared on the platters lining the tables. The students were immediately mesmerized and a dull roar of chatter and laughter filled the Hall. 

“You had the biggest cheer by far, Moony,” Sirius commented as he dished out food for them both. Teddy had been fed before coming to the feast and was thankfully more interested in watching and hiding against his father’s shoulder than trying to grab for things to put in his mouth.

Remus watched Sirius and nodded bashfully. “I was not expecting that,” he admitted.

“Apparently, the scrawny little bookworm I met in first year grew up to be the most beloved teacher of all time. If I’d known then, I probably would have steered clear.” Sirius winked at him and set a plate in front of him. He got an elbow to his ribs for his trouble.

“You should have figured out my eventual career in fifth year when they made me a prefect. I still can’t really understand why though. Surely McGonagall, at least, knew I was complicit in most of the nonsense you and James got into.” Remus began picking at his food with just his fork, bouncing Teddy gently with his other arm. He was smiling at least now.

“I did,” McGonagall chimed in beside Remus as she took her seat. “I had hoped, erroneously it seemed, that you would exert some sort of good influence over your friends.”

Sirius grinned at her from the other side of the man. “Remus Lupin couldn’t tell any of us what to do if his life depended on it.”

Remus rolled his eyes and elbowed him again. McGonagall shook her head but offered them both a smile. “No, I don’t suppose he could. He was at least a good influence on your godson.”

“Yes, well, I was an adult by then and he was thirteen. I had a little bit of an advantage,” Remus answered, refusing to make eye contact as he kept playing with his food. It still infuriated Sirius that Remus had been refused access to Harry until accidentally walking into his life when the boy was a teenager and forcibly taking it back. Not that anything could be done about it now, especially considering the man who’d apparently made that decision was dead. He wished he hadn’t been so stupidly impulsive as to go after Peter that night. He should have argued his point with Hagrid, should have taken the baby and gone home to protect him. Things would have turned out so differently.

“Nonetheless, he grew into a fine young man in large part thanks to your role in his life. He was very lost before meeting you and learning who you were to him.” McGonagall gave Remus a warm smile that Sirius had never thought he’d see offered to a student, much less a Marauder. Remus didn’t answer but gave her a weak smile in return.

McGonagall spent the rest of the Feast speaking with Flitwick beside her and leaving Remus and Sirius to talk to each other. Sirius ate slowly and coaxed Remus to do the same. Until returning to the castle earlier in the week, he had forgotten just how good the house elves’ cooking was. The first night had lead to an amusing adventure in retraining his eyes and stomach to correspond with one another while Remus laughed his ass off at the way Sirius was whining about too many choices and not enough appetite. It had been worth it to hear Remus laugh like that.

By the time the students were being dismissed, Teddy had fallen asleep in Remus’s arms after the noise cancelling charm had been strengthened. He’d been largely calm and quiet, only fussing a little at the end when it was clear he was getting tired. Remus had given up eating at that point and held him closer, letting the little boy rest his head on his shoulder and singing softly to him until he settled. As his hair changed color, there were a few gasps from the crowd of students who noticed. Sirius found it amusing but Remus wasn’t even paying attention.

“It’s good to see you again, Remus,” a bushy-haired girl in Gryffindor robes greeted from the other side of the table. She had a warm smile and was joined by a red haired girl with freckles, also clad in scarlet accents, who looked somehow familiar. Both looked like they were at least in sixth year if not older.

His attention on his son, Remus actually jumped. It was hard to startle the man when he could so easily sense who was around him so it was telling as to just how overwhelmed he was that the girls had managed to approach without his notice. He looked at them and then gave them the first real smile Sirius had seen him grace anyone but himself with all night. “Hermione, Ginny, welcome back to Hogwarts.”

“You have no idea how glad I am that it’s you teaching us this year. I wouldn’t have even come back if not for that, to be honest,” the bushy-haired girl answered, Hermione apparently.

Remus shook his head. “Somehow, I find that hard to believe.”

The redhead, Ginny, shrugged. “Ron tried to talk her out of it since she’s already been offered an internship at the Ministry.”

“It will still be there when I finish my NEWTs in June.” Hermione folded her arms.

“That sounds more like the Hermione I know,” Remus answered with a knowing smirk. “I had wondered if you would be staying all year or taking the test in December.”

“Maybe more of them will stick around now they know it’s you teaching DADA.” Ginny grinned at Remus and Sirius swore he’d seen her somewhere before. She was too young for him to have ever met though. What was it about her that he recognized?

“I am not that influential,” Remus argued.

“You heard the cheers, Remus! We all love you!” Ginny countered.

“You’re saying that because you know me.”

Sirius elbowed Remus beside him and groaned. “Come off it, Moony.”

Remus cast a weak glare at him and Ginny laughed. 

“Ginny is right, Remus. The school wasn’t the same without you, even before everything went pear-shaped,” Hermione added. She looked to Sirius then and he noticed a dawning realization bloom in her eyes. “You’re Sirius Black…”

“The one and only,” Sirius answered with a flourish that got him kicked under the table. It was his turn to cast a glare.

“Harry had mentioned that you and Remus were living together after you were released. I just never expected to meet you. Wow…” Hermione trailed off, staring at him until Ginny nudged her. Sirius just stared right back. Harry had spoken to this girl about him. Perhaps she was a friend of his? He’d never really told much about his life when they were together. Thinking about it, conversations were typically about the past, which Harry seemed to eat up, and filling the seventeen-year hole in his understanding of the Wizarding World, which Harry tended to stay quiet during. He knew the basics of the Second War. He knew more than the basics about Remus’s part in it. He knew no more than the bare minimum facts about Harry’s involvement. Those conversations were usually had when he and Remus were alone rather than when Prongslet was hanging around with them. Shit, he had to get to know his godson better.

“He also said not to make it awkward,” Ginny hissed at her friend. She looked at Sirius and Remus and then grinned again. “And now that we have, let’s go. ‘Night, Remus. Nice meeting you, Sirius.”

“Good night, girls,” Remus answered, watching them both retreat with the ebbing flow of stragglers still in the Great Hall. Then he looked to Sirius and nudged him gently.

Sirius looked at him and saw that the smile he’d been wearing had almost all evaporated. Remus looked tired, more than just physically. He’d seen that look a few times, more at the end than he had when they were at school together. The man was approaching burn-out but wasn’t going to talk about it until it bubbled to a head. Sirius just offered him a smile and gestured to the exit. Remus wordlessly nodded and stood. He stayed close to Sirius as they returned to their suite and remained quiet through the rest of the evening. Sirius gave him his space until they went to bed, assertively joining him again to see if he could get any sort of reaction; Remus put up no complaints.

Chapter Text

Remus’s first class, scheduled bright and early right after breakfast, was with the fourth year Gryffindor and Slytherin students, none of whom he already knew. As he stood at the front of the room watching them trickle in and find seats, he found himself both nervous and excited at the same time. This was his element, where he had found he truly excelled despite his curse. It was also his first time in front of a room full of teenagers in several years and his life had changed drastically since the last time he’d done it. The morning post had proven as much and all of his carefully planned lessons for the first day, and probably longer if he were honest with himself, were tossed out the window to be replaced by a more pressing matter.

Leaning on the front of his desk, his ankles crossed in front of him and his arms folded loosely across his chest, he looked more confident than he presently felt. The morning paper was in his left hand, his wand in his right. He had no written plans for what he was about to address and had only been presented with the need less than hour ago.

Once the class had assembled, seated not surprisingly in segregated groups of Gryffindors and Slytherins as opposed to the mixed groups McGonagall had encouraged the night before, Remus offered them a disarming smile and hid his nerves behind it. “Good morning.”

Most of the students called back the greeting, some mumbled, some more enthusiastic. Expecting fourteen year-olds to be chipper at nine in the morning for the first day of class was asking a bit much. Remus just smiled wider at them and held up the paper.

“How many of you read this this morning?” 

Some hands rose, largely from the ones who hadn’t greeted him and were instead giving him apprehensive looks. The rest looked somewhat confused as to why the Daily Prophet was relevant to Defense Against the Dark Arts.

“First off, let me commend those of you who do read the news. Probably the best piece of advice I can give you in terms of protecting yourself is to be aware of the world around you. That starts with reading and listening to the news.” Remus took a calming breath and then held the paper out to read it aloud to the class. “This morning’s front page article is particularly relevant to everyone in this room.” 

HOGWARTS BEGINS NEW SCHOOL YEAR

   The 1998-1999 school year begins today at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Students arrived at the castle, still under heavy construction in the aftermath of the final battle of the Second War, yesterday. Our coverage thus far has delved into community support and concerns for the coming school year as repairs were being made but now it is upon us. Among the almost three hundred students who traveled to the school via the Hogwarts Express yesterday were thirty-seven incoming first-years, a healthy enrollment for any year since records have been made public. For the first time in history, Hogwarts has also opened its doors to sixteen alumni who are returning to the school to complete or entirely retake their seventh year in light of the bitter-sweet tragedy that cut short the last school year.

   Hogwarts also welcomes three new faculty for the new school year, whose names have just been released to the public: 

   Fairigonda Spellinger has been hired to teach Transfiguration in place of long-time teacher Minerva McGonagall, who has stepped into the role of Headmistress this year. She brings eighteen years of field experience in practical transfiguration to the school.

   Cassandra Murdock is the new Muggle Studies teacher this year and reportedly will be teaching a mandatory course to students of all ages rather than the elective courses that have previously been offered at Hogwarts. Murdock comes from Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, graduating in 1994 with high marks in the American equivalent of NEWTs taken by Hogwarts students.

   The third position comes as a bit of a surprise to the community. Remus Lupin, former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher from 1993 to 1995, has resumed his posting. Though deemed highly effective in all reviews of his teaching over his previous two years, Lupin’s now public status as werewolf has some worried for the safety of the students and staff at Hogwarts as well as expressing concern for the fact that he was not open with his affliction when previously employed to work with children. Others argue that his sizeable role in securing the victory of the Second War accounts for far more than his curse. Headmistress McGonagall stands by her choice to rehire Lupin and assures families that there is no cause for alarm.

 Though the story was really only sharing facts and went on to describe other changes at the school, Remus looked up from the paper to gauge his students’ reactions. Those who had admitted to having read the paper already were torn between giving him uneasy looks and avoiding eye contact. The others were a mix of shock, anxiety and hostility. It was no less than what he expected. The excited cheers of last night were long gone.

“So what do you know about werewolves?” Remus asked, still smiling for his students. This was exactly what he’d been afraid of when agreeing to return to Hogwarts but to let them see that fear would mean giving up control of his classroom. How he handled this setback was crucial to maintaining order and building relationships.

Most of the class didn’t seem to know how to handle his friendly approach to the situation. A few of the hostile ones backed down in light of Remus’s attitude. No-one raised a hand to share their thoughts.

“Go ahead. Be honest. What do you know?” Remus encouraged.

It took a moment but then one of the more outgoing students called out rather than waiting to be chosen to speak. He was wearing Gryffindor robes and Remus had pegged him as one of the more hostile students as he read the classroom. “You lot sided with You-Know-Who!”

“Several of us did, yes,” Remus agreed. The boy was dumbfounded and Remus held back a smirk. Obviously they hadn’t expected him to agree. He nodded to the room and set the paper down before making a welcoming gesture to encourage more of them to talk.

“Werewolves have no morals!” another Gryffindor called out.

“They’re dangerous!” chimed in a Slytherin girl.

“Half-breeds!”

“I read that they should be put to death!”

“They’re soulless!”

“They go after little kids!”

“It’s illegal for werewolves to have a job!”

Remus sat back on his desk and calmly took all of the comments, never losing his smile. When the class seemed to run out of steam in the things they were calling out at him, he stood straighter. “A lot of what you are telling me are based on opinions and prejudices with no basis in fact. Werewolves are not half-breeds nor are we soulless. While true that werewolves are dangerous when transformed, there is evidence quite to the contrary that we lose our moral compass. Werewolves hunt their prey as any other predator is inclined to do. After all, is an owl lacking in morals for its hunting of rodents or a dolphin evil for hunting fish?”

“But werewolves hunt humans!”

“Yes, and for that reason we choose to sequester ourselves away when transformed in order to keep from hurting the people around us. Would a person with no morals take such precautions?” Remus answered calmly. More of the hostility faded as the class considered his words. Most were just looking apprehensive now.

“There were werewolves in the War! They were attacking people!” The first boy who had called out had found his voice.

“Yes. There were also humans attacking other humans in the War. Was Voldemort himself not purely human? My point is that being a werewolf does not determine where your morals will align.” Remus’s calm demeanor and acceptance of the facts diffused more of the boy’s hostility. 

“You could kill us all!” the boy defiantly argued.

“I could,” Remus agreed nonchalantly. When the students gasped collectively, he held up his wand. “But with this, just as any other witch or wizard could.” He set it down on the desk. “However, I have no intention of doing so. It’s my job to keep you safe and teach you how to do the same.”

When no further comments were made, Remus turned the rest of the period into an examination of the facts about werewolves and worked to make it clear that the students were safe under his care. With the fear set aside, the students were more open to asking questions and most were willing to open their minds to a new perspective. It would take time. Remus knew he wasn’t going to change their minds in sixty minutes alone. But with continued conversations and a unit of study he was already planning in his head while talking to the students, he hoped that he would be able to sway them. It would be a long day, repeated again for a new batch of students the next day, but if he could keep his cool, he would get through it and hopefully make a difference.

Chapter Text

Sirius was on the verge of panic all day. He was almost positive that they would be packing their things and returning to the cottage by the end of the day. He’d almost clung to Remus after their quiet breakfast in their suite and kept him from going to class after the paper arrived at their window. The little post-owl had calmly accepted its payment and an offering of bacon from Remus before fluttering away like it hadn’t just delivered life-altering news to the smiling man. Sirius had watched as all color drained from Remus’s face before he calmly passed the paper across the table. Then Remus had ruffled Teddy’s hair from where he sat in Sirius’s lap and left the room to put on his robes and boots without a word. Not long after, he’d gone to his classroom, leaving Sirius with a gentle peck on the cheek and raging silence until Teddy made noise about needing a bath and wanting to play. If not for the little boy, Sirius would have worn a hole in the floor pacing and possibly torn out most of his finally growing hair.

When Remus returned to the suite for dinner, having skipped lunch and stayed in his classroom during his office hours, he was clearly stressed. His smile was fake, his emerald eyes flat; he let it fall as soon as he shut the door behind him. Immediately collapsing on the couch, he put an arm over his eyes without even greeting Sirius or Teddy who were playing on the floor.

“That bad?” Sirius asked cautiously. He sat up and offered Teddy a toy to play with on his own for a while. The baby took it and shook it quite happily.

“The fourth years were the worst,” Remus answered after a moment. He didn’t lift his arm from his face. “None of them knew me before and the things they were saying… The seventh and eighth years at least knew already for the most part thanks to Snivellus interfering and putting together the clues… The first years-”

“Snivellus did what?” Sirius interrupted.

“Right… I never told you… He was the Potions Master for years and was teaching when I started in ‘93. He took it upon himself to teach my classes about werewolves in a less than flattering manner when he stood in for me once. Poppy had ordered bed rest after a rough moon,” Remus explained with a sigh.

That anyone had ever considered Snivellus to be worthy of teaching barely registered. Fury rose within Sirius that he hadn't felt in years. How dare that bastard try to reveal Remus’s secret? It had been a long time since he had thought about the moronic way he'd given into taunts and told Snape how to get to Remus while he was transformed. He had never actually meant to get the boy killed and had regretted using Remus like that every day since. Now, though, he almost wished that James hadn't gone after Snape when Sirius told him in hysterics what he'd done.

"Cut it out, Sirius," Remus warned from the couch. He sounded exhausted and Sirius realized that he hadn't even lifted his arm to look at him before cutting him off from his destructive line of thought.

"How do you do that?" Sirius asked sheepishly as he attempted to force his emotions down. At least Snivellus was already dead and couldn't cause any more shit for Remus. Sirius couldn't kill him even if he wanted to.

"Emotions have a smell, pheromones to be exact, and this close to the full moon, I can tell if you're close to me. You can probably do the same when you transform," Remus answered calmly without even attempting to be witty. That was it for Sirius. If Remus was being so serious then it wasn't the time to give in to his own stupid thoughts. His Moony needed him.

"So… What did you do with the kids?" Sirius asked, taking the conversation back to its original purpose.

"I asked them what they knew and shut down a lot of their prejudices. Then we discussed actual facts… It's going to take time to really change their mindsets." Remus sighed. "I am dealing with years of false teaching that I have to undo. At least the first and second years don’t have a lot to go on… Third on up though… You remember the things we were taught? It isn't much different than that shit."

Damn. Remus was actually swearing. Remus never swore unless he was really upset. In a blur, Sirius's form changed to a shaggy dog and padded across the floor to crawl on top of Remus; it would have been awkward had he gone to lay on him otherwise.

“Padfoot,” Remus complained even as he brought his arm down to wrap around the dog now resting his fluffy head on his chest. He scratched behind the dog’s ears but kept his eyes closed. Padfoot stayed on him, tail wagging, until Teddy made noises from the floor and got both of their attention. 

“Alright, mutt, get off me even if you do stay in your four-legged form,” Remus told him, finally smiling. Padfoot huffed a laugh and clambered off to go and sniff the baby. It was fascinating how things that were so familiar seemed so different when in his canine form. Teddy stared at him then reached up to try and grab at his fur, his teal hair shifting to black to match the dog. Padfoot wagged his tail and licked him, eliciting a whimper which turned into a full cry by the time Remus scooped him up. Shit. That hadn’t gone to plan now had it? He dropped the transformation immediately.

“Sorry,” Sirius called after Remus as the man started walking back and forth to soothe his son. “I didn’t mean to make him cry…” 

“He’s fine. He’s just never been around animals before. I think you startled him is all,” Remus answered between cooing to Teddy in Welsh. His words didn’t help Sirius feel any better. He remembered Harry crying the first time he saw him transform as well. James had told him much the same thing: he’d startled the baby. Maybe he wasn’t as good with kids as he liked to think he was.

“I’ll go and get us some dinner,” Sirius murmured as he wandered out of the suite. He heard Remus call after him but he kept going. He needed to clear his head and keep from fucking things up further. It was a short walk to the kitchens but it would hopefully be enough time and space to get his head back on right. Remus didn’t need him getting pissed off and he certainly didn’t need him scaring his son in his ill-conceived attempts to lighten the situation. Why did he always turn to humor or distraction to deal with shit? Either that or lashing out at people. Neither ever did him any good but what was he supposed to do instead?

Chapter Text

Remus didn’t know what was worse: having to listen to insults and derogatory bigotry all day from his students or knowing that it had affected Sirius almost as badly as it had affected him. He’d thought that Sirius’s issues might come from being surrounded by people again but, surprisingly, the crowds of students seemed to not even care about him nor the other way round. He wasn’t even sure if they recognized him and, even if they did, they certainly had far more interest in Remus now that his “secret” was no longer secret. It was public knowledge that he was a werewolf after the War and the Order of Merlin had made a big deal out of honoring the first ever werewolf with the award but public knowledge did not always translate into the knowledge of children and teenagers who might not have put two and two together to realize that he was the recipient of that award. Newspaper articles that blatantly pointed out that their teacher was a monster certainly did though. He absently wondered how long it would have been before word spread without the Prophet so kindly handing him the absolute disaster that had been and would be the next few days if not weeks of class.

With Teddy finally calm, Remus held him close and trailed Sirius out of their suite. Unless he’d been lying, the man had been heading for the kitchens. Sirius had never been known to lie to him. Avoid answering things and beat around the bush, sure, but never outright lie. He caught up to him as he was shuffling his feet to make a delayed return, a pair of plates stacked in his hands and a bowl of baby cereal on top. Somehow, the entire structure was avoiding crushing anything underneath and was balanced perfectly despite the way it looked impossible to maintain stability.

Remus offered Sirius a weak smile. “Shall we eat in the astronomy tower?” It had always been a go-to spot when they were in school, even before Remus learned of Sirius’s fascination with the stars. Before then, it had just been a good hideaway and a chance to get caught up on all the nights’ worth of classes he’d had to miss for the full moons. Remus was still amazed he’d been able to even pass his OWLs for that class and had not continued his studies in the field.

A smile cracked through the frown on Sirius’s face. He nodded and turned to start heading that direction.

“I’m alright, you know?” Remus commented softly as they ascended the tower and were out of earshot of passing students. Sirius glanced at him so he went on. “It’s really no different than when other people find out what I am. I’m used to it.”

“You shouldn’t have to be used to it, Re,” Sirius argued.

“I don’t dictate what people think of me, Sirius. I just deal with it.” Remus sighed and shifted Teddy to his other arm. The baby reached up and grabbed at his hair, earning him an exaggerated look of bemusement from his father.

“And you shouldn’t have to!” Sirius reiterated. He shot an angry look towards Remus that faded somewhat in light of the interaction between the man and his son.

Remus turned his focus back to Sirius as Teddy continued wrapping his hair around his fingers. The boy’s hair had shifted to tawny blonde as he amused himself. “They’re spouting what they’ve been taught. It isn’t their fault.”

“I was taught the same bollocks as they were and I tossed it all out the bloody window when I met you and realized what you were,” Sirius answered.

Remus wasn’t sure how to answer that and just sank onto the floor once they made it to the top of the tower and stepped out onto the ramparts. The sun was still up but it was beginning to dip towards the horizon, making for a beautiful gradient of blue into yellow. Carefully disentangling Teddy’s little fingers, he set the boy down on the stone between his legs, letting him lean against his knee or flop over as he saw fit. The baby took to leaning over his knee and gripping at the leg of his pants where Remus’s robes had fallen open. He looked around his new surroundings in wonder, his hair changing to an odd gradated mix of blue and yellow that matched the sky. 

“You never cease to amaze me, fy machgen,” Remus murmured to his son.

“What does that mean?” Sirius asked, the edge gone from his voice as he sat down beside Remus and unstacked the tower of plates and baby bowl.

Remus glanced at him and offered him a small smile. “Fy machgen? My boy. Nothing special. Mam used to say it to me.”

“Do you actually speak fluent Welsh?” Sirius went on quietly. Surprisingly, the topic had never actually come up before. Remus supposed it had to be because he never really spoke Welsh around Sirius other than to swear at him. He had a soft accent but nothing pronounced. Most people didn’t even know he was Welsh unless it came up in conversation.

“I learned it properly in primary school but Mam spoke it at home about as much as she spoke English. Tad too.”

“So when you sing to him, you aren’t just spouting off memorized words…” Sirius smiled and watched Teddy. “I suppose Mini-Moony’s going to end up bilingual too, then.”

“I hope so,” Remus answered, his eyes on his son as well. The baby was content just watching the sky with his color-shifting hair matching the changing horizon.

“I knew French once upon a time,” Sirius admitted after a moment, passing Remus a plate. “My tutor insisted on speaking only French once a week so it was keep up or get punished.” He shrugged and began eating with one hand. “Can’t say I remember much of it now beyond being able to translate simple sh- stuff.”

Remus opted not to comment on the mention of the punishments he had long since learned were not pretty in the House of Black. Instead, he asked, “Why French?”

“Didn’t you know? The Most Noble and Ancient House of Black traces back to France. That stupid tapestry mother-dearest blew my face off of even has its heading half in French.” Sirius shifted his accent and vernacular into perfect pureblood aristocracy. “Toujours Pur. Always Pure.” He reverted back to his typical speech patterns. “I figure that’s why us white sheep got shot down. Certainly isn’t pure for us to be gallivanting about with halfbloods and muggleborns now is it? And then there’s me. Gay, in love with a halfblood and a werewolf to boot. Worst of the lot if you ask me.” He shrugged but there was an edge of bitterness to his body language.

Remus nudged Sirius with his shoulder as he ate and settled in close. Touch usually calmed him and it did wonders this time as well. “I’d rather that than the alternative.”

Sirius laughed. “I suppose so,” he agreed. “At least I can teach this little ex-Black the right way to go about things.” He reached out to ruffle Teddy’s hair but the boy ignored him.

“Even if his grandmother hadn’t been disowned, he wouldn’t be a Black,” Remus answered with a roll of his eyes.

“He’s got Black blood in him.”

“He also has Tonks and Lupin blood in him,” Remus argued.

“Which makes him way better if you ask me,” Sirius retorted with a grin.

“Well I didn’t.”

“Well you should have.”

Remus just groaned and finished his meal. Less than a week until the full moon, his appetite was lacking even with the Wolfsbane Potion. He set down his plate half eaten and picked up the bowl of cereal instead. After examining its contents, he offered it to Teddy who looked intrigued and grabbed at the little bits with a fist to stick in his mouth. Remus shook his head..

“Don’t choke, Pup,” Sirius told the baby, to which Remus rolled his eyes. Teddy happily munched on the soft cereal, eating another handful before apparently deciding he didn’t want to go through the effort or the mess any longer and made noise to be picked up. Sirius obliged, setting his plate aside. “You just love being held, don’t you, little man? I reckon you’re ready to sleep. That nap earlier wasn’t good enough for you and then that mean old doggy scared you. Sorry we didn’t bring a blanket out here. You can sleep on me if you want. I’ll keep you warm.”

Remus felt his face spread into the first real smile of the day since before breakfast. Watching Sirius interact with Teddy was heartwarming and he was fairly sure that Sirius wasn’t even aware of just how good he was with the baby or how absolutely adorable it was to watch them. He’d likely throw something at Remus if he ever told him as such, too. Instead, Remus pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and transfigured it into a small blanket for his son. He offered it to Sirius who grinned and wrapped it around the little boy in his arms.

“Isn’t your daddy awesome? Or, what was it he always calls himself when he puts you to bed? Tada? That’s it. Tada.” Sirius grinned at Teddy and reclined onto his back, the little boy resting on his chest. “Your tada is awesome.”

Remus blushed but couldn’t look away as Sirius kept talking to Teddy and gently rubbing his back to soothe him to sleep. He reached out to let the boy take hold of a finger when sleepy little eyes looked his way and sky-color hair faded to black. He started singing while his son watched him, trailing off when deep blue eyes finally closed.

“What color do you reckon his eyes will be when they settle?” Sirius asked after a while of just listening to the baby’s soft breathing.

Remus shrugged, his finger still in the grasp of a tiny fist. “Dora’s were dark grey… Darker than yours. Mine are green. But neither of us have black hair and his doesn’t look like its getting any lighter so who knows? Maybe he will be a throwback to Black genes.”

“I told you he’s an ex-Black,” Sirius answered with a smirk.

“Whatever you say. He can change them whenever he wants so it doesn’t particularly matter now, does it?” Remus shook his head and watched his son sleeping.

“At least Blacks are gorgeous.”

Remus scoffed. “I swear you are worse than Prongs.”

“Hey, he was gorgeous, too. In his own messy jock kind of way,” Sirius answered shamelessly.

“You did not fancy your best friend,” Remus groaned.

“Why would I lie? You have to admit he was hot.”

“I am not having this conversation with you.” Remus closed his eyes and used his free hand to pinch the bridge of his nose.

“You absolutely are. Prongs just happened to be completely straight and head over heels for Lils from the age of fourteen, so by the time I even gave a damn, I knew he was off limits.” The tone of Sirius’s voice was completely sincere if highly amused.

“Did he know that you thought he was attractive? As I recall, he had a hard time believing you were gay until you kissed me in front of him,” Remus answered with a sigh.

“‘Course he did. I told him at the wedding when I danced with him. You remember?” 

Remus could tell Sirius was grinning without even looking at him. Yes, he remembered. Sirius had danced with Lily and then immediately grabbed her new husband and danced around the room with him as well, just as lively, just as flamboyant, just as dramatic, and had even dipped him at the end like he had Lily. Knowing that Sirius had admitted to fancying him while dancing with him added a whole new level of both amusement and second-hand embarrassment to the whole scene while also explaining a good bit of the bemused acceptance their best friend had displayed upon being subjected to such treatment from his best man.

“That actually explains a lot…”

Sirius laughed softly. “What about you? Come on, Moony. Admit it.”

“I never thought about him like that,” Remus answered immediately.

“No way.”

“I never thought about anyone like that,” Remus clarified.

“No way.”

“Stop saying that.” Remus put down his hand and leveled Sirius with a faint frown to which Sirius held up his free hand and feigned innocence.

“How can you not? There was no-one you were into?”

Remus shook his head. He had never thought about men or women, boys and girls at the time, in that way with the exceptions of Sirius and Dora. It just never crossed his mind to even consider doing such a thing. He was far more interested in getting to know someone rather than judging them by their looks. Absently he realized that it had been the same with them as well. He hadn’t thought Sirius was attractive until he had gotten to know him and had certainly never considered or even encouraged anything between him and Dora until after he knew her well. He supposed it was just one more thing that made him different than everyone around him. As if he needed more reasons not to fit in.

Sirius seemed to consider his denial carefully before shaking his head. “You are ever the wonder, Moony.”

“I don’t recall you dating many people before me,” Remus brought up, trying to divert the conversation away from his own apparently strange views on sexual attraction.

“How many openly gay blokes do you remember at Hogwarts, Re? I mean, I made out with the Ravenclaw quidditch captain a few times in fourth year. Shagged him in the changing room after they won the Cup that year but then broke it off... Can’t even remember his name now... And at the beginning of fifth year there was that seventh year Hufflepuff. Didn’t last more than a month cuz the guy was absolutely dreadful at doing anything more than snogging even though he was the one who came onto me... Only other one I knew of was a Slytherin a year behind us and there’s no way in hell I’d go out with a snake.” Sirius made a soft retching sound. “And it’s not like I had any sort of access to dating opportunities when I was stuck at home. Those posters were to keep my parents off my back about it. ‘Least they were girls even if they were muggles.”

That was wholly too much information. Remus groaned and pinched his nose again. “You don’t have a filter, do you? You just say whatever comes to mind whenever it strikes you…”

“You asked!” Sirius put his free hand to his collarbone since Teddy was laying on his shoulder and blocking his heart. He gave Remus an aghast look and then averted his eyes very obviously.

“I didn’t need to know about your sexual exploits at the age of fifteen,” Remus retorted. Sirius just pouted and otherwise ignored him. Remus rolled his eyes before leaning back against the tower wall and turning his gaze to the sky as stars started peeking through the rapidly dimming light. Of course, he had known that Sirius had had other sexual partners before their first experience in seventh year. It had never really mattered to him and other than briefly coming up at first, had never been mentioned since. It didn’t bother him now other than the crude way he had just overshared about it. Remus supposed it was strange that he’d been a virgin at the time but Sirius had never made comment on it nor given indication that he cared. Thinking about it, he’d been wholly inexperienced when it came to Dora as well but she had never minded either. He sighed softly, accepting that he would just forever be a misfit in just about every aspect of his life.

They stayed on the ramparts until the setting sun finally gave up its warmth and a brisk breeze picked up. Remus didn’t mind for his own sake but opted to coax Sirius inside for Teddy’s health. By then, they’d settled into talking about the stars to distract them both from the things bothering them. It calmed him down, as it always did, and Sirius seemed better off for it as well. The tension in his shoulders and the dark look in his eyes had faded by the time they went back to their suite. Somehow they would get through it all. Remus had no idea how but they would figure it out.

Chapter Text

Morning came with Remus rising early from bed and Sirius watching him, half asleep, as he moved about the room getting Teddy up and changed. The boy was remarkably unfussy, for which Sirius was grateful. Harry had been the opposite, crying about everything, half the time seemingly just to hear his own wailing. Babysitting early on had been a nightmare but James and Lily had been so thankful for the break to go and be young adults instead of parents for once that both Sirius and Remus had gladly stepped up to the plate along with all of their friends. Things always got far more interesting when all of their friends' babies were together and though few and far between because of the war, playdates with a handful of infants were an absolute catastrophe that Sirius usually tried to avoid. He was fairly sure that Remus didn’t know any other parents of young children though, especially since he seemed to be the only parent on the Hogwarts staff roster.

A tap at the window caught his attention and he reached over to the bedside table to snag Remus’s wand while the man was busy with his son. Drawing the curtains and then opening the window without actually getting out of bed drew an eye roll from Remus but no comment of complaint. A little snowy owl with dark barring flew into the room and perched on the foot of the bed with a package attached to his leg about as big as he was.

“Albus?” Remus inquired, looking to the owl while getting Teddy dressed. The baby, now more awake, was kicking his feet and making his father’s life difficult.

Albus was the name of Harry’s owl and looking closer, Sirius recognized the bird once he sat up. He shifted to crawl across the bed to meet the little messenger, relieving him of his package and stroking his head fondly. “What’s Prongslet sending us this early in the morning?”

“Open it and see,” Remus told him before gesturing at a tin of treats by the window and wandlessly lifting its top for Albus to go and investigate. The owl fluttered away from Sirius and settled beside the tin to poke at its contents with his beak.

Sirius looked at the box, obviously charmed lighter for sake of the owl who was little larger than it. It was addressed to them both in a scrawl that looked a lot like James’s. Suppressing a yawn, he tore into the brown wrapping paper and opened the lid of a repurposed shoe box. “Where the hell did Prongslet get the map?”

“Harry sent us the map?” Remus looked over, emerald eyes wide.

Sirius gingerly held it up, speechless. Remus stared at him then gave up dressing Teddy, who wanted nothing to do with his socks or trousers at present, and brought him over to sit on the edge of the bed beside Sirius. He looked through the box after putting Teddy down on the bed between them; the baby was happy to roll over and land himself in Sirius’s lap. Sirius glanced down at him then looked to Remus who was reading a letter.

“Apparently he thought we could use it more than he could since we’re at Hogwarts. He… He suggests using it to get away from people if we need to and wanted to send it to us immediately after reading the Prophet yesterday.” Remus sighed and looked through the rest of the contents as he handed the letter to Sirius to read. A good amount of the box contained chocolates for Remus and there were a couple of CDs at the bottom for Sirius since Harry had learned of the adventures in trying to charm the discman to work within the castle. He suggested taking Remus’s stereo to Hogwarts as well if they managed to get the portable one working; they’d left it in the cottage for the time being along with Remus’s meager collection of music.

Remus had already broken into one of the packets of chocolate by the time Sirius looked up. Sirius couldn’t help but crack a smile at watching the man put a chocolate button to his lips like a child. “Already, Moony?”

“It’s going to be a long day,” Remus argued shamelessly as he ate another. He offered one to Sirius who just opened his mouth expectantly; Remus threw it into his mouth and rolled his eyes when Sirius grinned at him.

“So, about the map?” Sirius hadn’t expected to ever see it again after Filch nabbed it from them in an ill-fated New Years’ prank in seventh year.

“Apparently the Weasley twins stole it from Filch some time in their early years at Hogwarts and then bestowed it upon our godson in his third year. I caught him using it to sneak to Hogsmeade and confiscated it. I gave it back to him when I was relieved of my position two years later,” Remus explained. It gave Sirius more questions than answers but Remus was already up and moving around the room again, chocolate buttons in hand, before he could ask any of them. “Did you know that thing is actually aware of who it’s talking to and amends its answers accordingly? Moony is ridiculously sassy and even writes comments without being asked to when I use it. When he feels like answering me at all, that is.”

Sirius looked at the map in his hands and felt his face spread into a wicked grin. Sassy teenage Moony sounded amazing but no, he hadn’t been aware of the full extent of the enchanted personalities they had spelled into the parchment at seventeen. “The map ignores you?”

“Yes, or at least, he does. The other three don’t.” Remus glanced over his shoulder and gave the map an incredulous look before going back to getting his robes together for the day so he could go and shower. Sirius cracked up laughing as Remus left the room telling him to find out for himself just what their creation was capable of.

Sirius did just that once he had gotten his laughter under control. He poked the map with Remus’s wand. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” As expected, it opened itself up to show the inhabitants of Hogwarts with a map of the building. Sirius examined it but saw nothing immediately out of the ordinary. It looked exactly as it had the last time he’d seen it if a little more worn. The intricately detailed drawing was the same as ever though the little people were clustered in strange areas that seemed impossible. Some were in the middle of nowhere while others were walking through walls. However, inaccuracies aside, there was none of the commentary, or refusal to offer it, that Remus had suggested he’d encounter.

“You have to tell it the wrong thing to get it to talk to you,” Remus commented from over his shoulder. Sirius jumped, having been leaning over the map intently that he completely missed the man’s return. The wet head and towel-clad shoulders so close to him served as quite the distraction, though. 

Remus reached over and took back his wand, closing the map and then poking it again. “Talk to me,” he said simply. 

Mr. Moony wants to know why he insists on being such a tosser about using the map that he, himself, designed. He can talk to himself!

Mr. Prongs thinks it is really funny that Mr. Moony has such a hard time with the map and suspects by now that it’s intentional.

Mr. Padfoot doesn’t give a shit why he’s doing it but does find Mr. Moony’s pathetic attempts to get in rather hilarious.

Mr. Wormtail suggests that Mr. Moony write down the bloody password to avoid this silliness.

Sirius burst out laughing again. Remus smirked at the map and poked it again. “I don’t want to talk to myself.” 

Mr. Prongs regretfully informs Mr. Moony that he’s no longer being answered by Mr. Moony while also acknowledging that that is quite the odd thing to say. He suggests using the map properly instead.

Mr. Padfoot is too busy laughing his ass off to offer any advice. 

Mr. Wormtail is positive that Mr. Moony has something wrong with his head.

“There. Do you see what I mean? The map is apparently semi-sentient and Moony is a prat,” Remus pointed out with a shake of his head. He left the bedside then and went to get dressed.

“Do you think Padfoot will do the same thing if I mess with it?” Sirius asked, his mind turning at the possibilities. Moony storming off in exasperation was completely within the realm of possibilities for things Remus had done when annoyed as a teenager. He found it hilarious that the map had somehow mirrored that.

“Feel free to experiment and find out. You just tend to get more obnoxious when people bother you though,” Remus answered, dodging a pillow flung at him and offering a smirk from across the room. “Maybe you can get Moony to come back.”

“Maybe… Though I’m actually more interested in making the map itself work properly. Have you looked at it lately?” Sirius took back Remus’s wand in the short amount of time he still had to do such a thing and banished the commentary to bring out the malfunctioning map. Remus came over to investigate once he was dressed and Sirius could almost see the thoughts turning in his head.

“It needs to be updated for the changes made to the castle in the aftermath of the war. It still has the blueprints from 1977. Modifying the spell that tracks the moving staircase might give it a way to modify itself for the walls still intact and those that have been redesigned in the restoration efforts. Otherwise, you have plenty of time to actually remap it, I suppose.” Remus then patted Sirius’s shoulder. “More things for you to research in my absence,” he suggested before disappearing from the room.

Sirius stared after him and then looked at the map again before setting it down on the bedside table and getting up to follow. He scooped Teddy into his arms, snagging the abandoned trousers but forgoing the socks, and followed the boy’s father into the main office turned living area of the suite. Albus departed as Sirius left the room, hooting as he did. Remus had breakfast served by then, requested from the house elves days before as a routine event and delivered to their table at the same time each day. Sirius sat across from him with Teddy in his lap, offering a small bowl of baby cereal to him while taking a big bite of his eggs and toast. Teddy seemed interested, as he had the night before, taking a fistful of little pieces and shoving them into his mouth.

Breakfast was quiet and calm, surprisingly, until they were interrupted by McGonagall's tense voice sounding from the suddenly green fireplace. "Remus, do you have a moment before you get ready for class?"

Raising an eyebrow, Remus stood and went to the fireplace. "Yes?"

"May I come through?" McGonagall's voice asked.

"Go right ahead. We are just finishing breakfast." Remus cast a questioning look to Sirius who just shrugged at him before they were joined by the headmistress stepping out of the fireplace and brushing off her robes. She had a handful of letters and was wearing an expression that did not bode well. It was different than the expressions she usually had when addressing them, either exasperation or stern disappointment in their youth and friendly smiles since coming to Hogwarts. She looked worried more than anything now, an expression Sirius had seen more often after their days at school when interacting at Order meetings. He wondered what could be bothering her on only the second day of class.

"These letters arrived for you this morning at the staff table, Remus," McGonagall told him softly as she handed the stack to him. Sirius watched as the man's face fell while he flipped through them. 

"I received several myself," she added with a frown. She cast a glance at Teddy when Remus held a red envelope in a faintly shaking hand. 

"I'll take him out of the room," Sirius announced, taking Remus's wand and son swiftly to the bedroom and casting a personal muffling charm on the boy as he flopped down on the bed to play with him. The baby seemed none the wiser and tried to reach the colored sparks Sirius made for him. Sirius did his best to maintain a smile as he listened to the howler screeching from the sitting room.

"HOW DARE YOU PLACE MY SON IN DANGER! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE TEACHING, NO MATTER WHAT YOU MAY HAVE DONE TO FIGHT IN THE WAR! AN ORDER OF MERLIN DOES NOT MAKE YOU FIT TO BE LEFT ALONE WITH CHILDREN! DO THE RIGHT THING AND RESIGN NOW BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT!"

Sirius could just imagine the look on Remus's face. Crestfallen acceptance and stoic calm while his eyes looked ready to cry. He wouldn't though. That sort of thing never made Remus cry. He would just get all reclusive and broody and quit talking to people. Sirius needed to go to him but he needed to stay with Teddy. He didn't know what to do. How was he supposed to deal with this?

Soft tones carried through once the howler shut up, McGonagall sounding apologetic and serious, Remus barely audible and resigned. When they both went quiet, Sirius made his decision and ventured back out. Remus was sitting at the table, his head turned down and his face long, a pile of unopened letters in front of him in one pile with opened ones beside it in another. McGonagall was standing beside him, a concerned frown on her face. She looked up to acknowledge him but Remus paid him no mind.

"Re?" 

Remus still didn't look up. He just pushed the read letters across the table towards him with his free hand while still reading the one he was holding. Sirius glanced at the one on top of the pile; more of the same as what had been said by the howler. He narrowed his eyes and tightened his grip on the borrowed wand. 

"Accio letters," he ground out, his voice almost a growl that upset Teddy. The stacks of letters, both read and unread, flew towards him along with the one snatched magically from Remus's hand. Sirius glared at them even while Remus turned shocked eyes towards him. Without even reading them, a silent spell incinerated them in the air. Ashes fell to his feet before he met Remus's wide emerald eyes.

"You don't need to be reading that sort of shit, Remus. It's meaningless fucking drivel that has no bearing on anything that you do. None of it is true and if I catch a single person who so much as mutters that sort of bollocks in front or you or behind your back, I will willingly go back to Azkaban for what I will do to them."

McGonagall was the first to get over her shock. He absently wondered if she was surprised by his language or by his threat to destroy anyone who talked out against his Moony. Her blue eyes softened behind her square-framed glasses and she gave him an impressed smile and a nod. "I do not think that you will need to go to quite those lengths, Sirius, but the sentiment is carried by myself and the staff at Hogwarts. Remus is not going anywhere."

"And if I choose to resign?" Remus asked in a tiny voice, averting his eyes. There was so much pain in them before they looked away that Sirius felt his emotions raging against one another. Fury writhed for the words and the disgusting excuses for human beings that wrote them while overwhelming love flowed for the man who was so shattered by the opinions of people who didn't matter and never would. He needed to fix this somehow.

"In light of this morning's mail, I would only accept that resignation with a month's notice. Those are the words of a man wounded by the bigoted thoughtless actions of others. You are reacting emotionally rather than rationally." McGonagall laid a hand on Remus's shoulder but he did not look up. "That said, of course, if you need to take this morning or even the day to collect yourself, I will announce to the students that your classes are cancelled."

Sirius watched silently while Remus considered that. He didn't trust himself to speak or even move right now. He would either start swearing again and storm out of the room or he would wrap Remus in his arms and never let go; he had just enough of a handle on himself to know that neither would actually help right now.

"No… I have to face this." Remus's voice was still tiny but he looked up at McGonagall beside him. She patted his shoulder and offered him a smile. He didn't return it but something settled in his eyes and he nodded slightly. Both he and Sirius watched as she left without another word. Then stormy grey met resigned green and all pretenses dropped. 

Though the anger still simmered, Sirius pulled Remus from his chair and into a crushing embrace. Teddy protested weakly between them and shifted to try and snuggle one of them. Remus put one arm up to comfort his son and put his other around Sirius, clutching at his shoulders as if his life depended on it. The need to reassure him won out over the need to avenge him. Even if Sirius could have found the words to say, the way they were clinging to each other said everything he needed to say: Remus was safe, he was loved and he was protected, and Sirius would fight to keep him that way.

Chapter Text

Thursday's classes were hard. Friday's were harder. Some of the fourth year Gryffindor and Slytherin students actually skipped class and Remus would have to deal with half of them later as they were in his House. The first and second years seemed to be scared of him during their second period together; he spent most of those two hours teaching from his desk while the more timid of his students cowered in chosen seats near the door. The only redeeming part of the day was a double period with the seventh and eighth years in the afternoon. They'd mostly already known he was a werewolf and took it upon themselves to show him what they actually thought of that. 

Dragging after lunch and avoiding his classroom for the prep period before the scheduled class, Remus reluctantly cuddled Teddy and kissed Sirius goodbye before trudging to his room. There were five minutes until class started and while he wouldn't have been surprised to see a few of his students already getting settled, even with all of the drama, to walk in to find all thirty-eight of them sitting around the room was enough to shock him to a stand-still in the doorway. A sea of red, blue, yellow and even green greeted him with smiles and waves. He hadn't even thought the Slytherins, the three eighth years especially, liked him for the way he had once gotten onto them about harassing Harry. The chalkboard had been charmed to roar at him, a budding artist having drawn a Gryffindor lion that paraded around before greeting him accordingly. Messages in the handwriting of all of his most advanced students danced all over the board as the lion pranced between the words. 

"This… is…" Words failed him and he just stared.

"Good afternoon, Professor Lupin!" Neville called cheerfully from a seat beside a Hufflepuff girl in his year, Hannah Abbott. The words were chorused around the room.

"Good-good afternoon, class…" Remus responded weakly. He stepped further into the crowded room and pulled the door quietly shut behind him. This was his biggest class, by far, with the most challenging content. That the entire group was showing their support meant a lot, more than a lot, in fact. After the last three days of class and the increasing backlash from parents and community members who felt it necessary to inform him of his inadequacies and fling around insults, he had been actually considering the resignation he had half-jokingly suggested on Thursday morning. These thirty-eight young witches and wizards gave him the confidence to try and keep going despite all of that. He was obviously making some sort of difference at least to them. Perhaps that was enough.

“A bunch of us got together after dinner yesterday,” Ginny called out from where she sat beside Hermione. Remus raised a questioning eyebrow at her as he walked to his desk. His students were reaching out to touch him as he did. “We know that a lot of people are giving you grief and that’s not on. We want to do something about it.”

“While I appreciate that, Ginny, I don’t believe there is anything that you all can do about it. This sort of backlash is typical when people publicly identify a werewolf,” Remus answered with a sigh.

“Respectfully, sir, everyone told us that we couldn’t do anything about the war either and most of us in this room fought in it. In fact, everyone old enough did and those of us who weren’t old enough at the time wanted to,” Terry Boot, an eighth year Ravenclaw, called from across the room. Several voiced their agreement.

Then an unlikely voice joined the discussion. A wiry boy with brown hair and Slytherin robes, Theodore Nott did not often participate aloud in class despite having always achieved good marks. “If the children of Death Eaters can overcome the hatred and scorn shown to us and return to Hogwarts amidst all of that, surely a werewolf awarded an Order of Merlin can do the same, Professor.”

The small group of Slytherins around him nodded, some looking more affected by the statement than others. Theodore himself had a nonchalant look about him that Remus didn’t believe for a second. The young man had a point though. While not as open about it as they were with Remus, there was certainly an air of mistrust concerning the older Slytherins and he had seen the way other students looked at them or made comments out of earshot in the halls. 

“We thought, maybe, if people could get to know you then they wouldn’t be so scared,” Susan Bones, an eighth year Hufflepuff with long braided hair, suggested once the humming of the Slytherins quieted. Remus vaguely remembered her as a baby, her entire family killed for ties with the Order. That she had grown up so well-rounded was amazing to him, much as it was to consider how Harry had matured despite everything that had happened in his short life.

“Before you say anything, Professor, we already know it’s a bit hard to get to know someone you’re afraid of,” Hermione interjected before Remus could answer; she took the words right out of his mouth and he leaned on his desk to wait for her to complete her thought seeing as she’d told him not to answer. Feeling better for all of their support, he just gave her an expectant smirk.

“Perhaps if you could introduce us all to Teddy and start eating in the Great Hall with the staff that people might start to see the real you,” Hermione continued, grimacing ever so slightly as she suggested that he spend time in the Great Hall. He knew it was hard for a lot of them to be in there with all of the reminders of the end of last school year but, unlike him, they didn’t have the escape route of eating in their quarters.

“I suppose that it couldn’t hurt,” Remus agreed after considering the idea for a moment. He looked around the room at the expectant faces, taking note of how they were sitting. The Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff students were all mixed together. The Slytherins had a cluster of desks to themselves. Remus folded his arms and made eye contact with Theodore before looking to the other students. 

“In exchange, I have a challenge for you. Start sitting with the Slytherins. They need just as much support from the lot of you as I do, apparently. I apologize for not having noticed sooner,” he added with a nod to Theodore and the green-clad students sitting with him.

There were some exchanged glances and then Luna gave a shrug and went to sit amongst the green. She smiled and made herself comfortable even as the girl she sat beside, an eighth year named Daphne Greengrass, raised an eyebrow at the eccentric accessories the blonde Ravenclaw was sporting. A couple others moved as well while one of the seventh year Slytherins, a dark-haired boy named Jerrin Harper, went to sit amongst a group of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw students. It would take a little more convincing and encouragement to get the Gryffindors and Slytherins to properly mingle, but this was a start, at least. Remus took courage from the way his students so easily put aside their differences and agreed to his terms.

“We had another idea, too,” Ginny announced just as Remus was about to move and get things ready for his planned lesson. He smiled for the first time since entering the room and leaned back on his desk again.

“Alright, go ahead, Ginny.”

Ginny grinned at him. “Well, I know you know a bunch of other werewolves. What if you had some of them come in to meet us? Like that one guy you met at Christmas a couple years ago.”

As no-one even batted an eye at the way she shared her knowledge of his life, Remus deduced that their discussion after dinner yesterday had been largely lead by Ginny sharing about how well she knew him, Hermione probably chiming in, and then a large amount of bouncing ideas around before deciding to spring this all on him at once. This was all flowing too well to be a completely impromptu discussion. His smile widened even as he shook his head faintly. “Apparently you all have figured out quite the scheme. Am I to assume you have also spoken to Professor McGonagall about your plan for guest speakers?”

“Not yet!” Ginny answered brightly to several laughs around the room.

“Well, for that, I am grateful. I will ask her what her thoughts are, though. The plan has merit. Most of my contacts were too afraid to fight and expose themselves.” Remus averted his eyes in thought and held up a hand when someone started to interrupt him; the class went quiet. “How about we spend some time writing letters to try and convince them to visit with us? I won’t tell you names until I have their permission, but words of encouragement may help persuade them to speak to you all.”

Grins broke out around the room and a shuffling of bags and parchment was heard while Remus wracked his brain for the whereabouts of the friendly werewolves he knew. Mason was certainly one, as Ginny had suggested, but there were others he had met in his travels for the Order. If even a couple of them could be convinced to speak to the students, they may have a chance at turning the tides in their favor. The rest of class was spent writing several unaddressed letters to convince the would-be speakers to come to Hogwarts along with posing their argument to McGonagall, who Remus summoned to the classroom during the last half of the double period. It took some work but the class convinced her to give a try. She gave Remus a genuine, if not bemused smile as the students turned in their letters for him to sort and mail out to his contacts.

“It was their idea,” he told the headmistress with a shrug.

“With the combination of students in this class, I am honestly not surprised,” McGonagall answered with a shake of her head. “To put the entirety of Dumbledore’s Army into a classroom together with a former Marauder as their teacher… What was I thinking?”

Remus actually laughed.

Chapter Text

The weekend was a welcome change of pace. Sirius could tell that Remus was flagging with the full moon coming on Sunday but after everything that had happened in the three days of classes thus far, he insisted that they go to Diagon Alley like they had planned regardless. Remus tried to argue about spending the whole day out and about when all they really needed to do was meet Andromeda in the evening and hand Teddy off for the week. Sirius told him that getting out of the castle would be good for him and asked what he’d be doing otherwise aside from moping about their suite all day; Remus had given up arguing after that. They had talked about what the seventh and eighth years had proposed over dinner on Friday night, bravely eating in the Great Hall like the kids had suggested. It was everything Sirius could do to keep Remus distracted from the looks and comments that were thrown their way. If the point of that scheme was to get everyone to know him as a person, he couldn’t very well sit there cowering throughout the entire meal. Instead, Sirius had kept him talking and planted Teddy in his lap to give him something to focus on. Maybe it would make a difference eventually. Saturday morning had been much the same. Then they’d gotten the baby bundled up with his things and left the castle, travelling to Diagon Alley via Hogsmeade Station. Remus was far more comfortable there. It would be Sirius’s turn for attention then. He was the infamous ex-convict and the people around them now were far more interested in that than the meek school teacher exposed as a werewolf; few people outside of the school actually knew Remus’s face even if they did know his name.

The first stop was Gringotts. Apparently Remus had a key to his vault but hadn’t used it in seventeen years. There had been a lengthy discussion about the way Remus had been living before starting his teaching career and Sirius could not fathom why he hadn’t just used the money available, whether he hated Sirius at the time or not. Hell, it would have been quite the get-back to wipe out the bank account of someone who ruined your life. But ever the honest man, Remus had just left it all there and ignored it completely. Without his name on anything, he’d been left in poverty while Sirius rotted in prison for seventeen years. What Sirius would have given to go back and change all of that. If only he had just taken Harry and gone to find Remus that night instead of going after Peter.

The few witches and wizards who were taking care of their own business in the bank paid the couple no mind. They were fairly unassuming in simple robes with Remus quietly holding Teddy. If anything, so far at least, Teddy had gotten more attention than either of them. At present, the boy was sleeping with his head on his father’s shoulder. As they stepped up to the counter and the goblin sitting above them addressed them both, that changed.

“Identification,” the gravelly voice of the goblin requested.

“Sirius Black.”

The wizard at the desk beside them cast a glance his way.

“Ah, Mr. Black. Do you have your key?” the goblin asked. More people looked over and Sirius put on his best act to avoid the stares and hold himself like he’d been taught all his childhood. He took the key from his pocket and offered it to the goblin with haughty indifference.

“Very well. One moment, Mr. Black.” The goblin took it, climbed down from behind his desk and wandered away, leaving Sirius and Remus standing there awkwardly waiting. Sirius avoided eye contact with anyone but could tell that Remus was feeling uncomfortable beside him from the way he was clutching Teddy. To his credit, though, the other man was standing tall and gazing around calmly rather than casting glances at the people staring and starting to whisper.

The bank attendant returned, barely reaching Sirius’s knee. He looked up at the two wizards with a polite smile. “Does this gentleman have permission to access your vault, Mr. Black?”

Sirius nodded curtly. “He does.”

“Very well. Please follow me.” The attendant wandered away again, clearly expecting Sirius and Remus to go with him. Sirius did so, maintaining the act and only glancing discreetly at Remus to see if he was coming. He only relaxed once they were in the tunnels with no more stares and whispers to contend with.

The ride on the cart was entertaining as always. Remus didn’t seem to think so and went somewhat pale beside him; Sirius settled a hand on his knee and got a small smile for his effort. The adrenaline junkie in him hadn’t died upon adulthood. Absently, he wondered what had become of his bike and recalled that Remus had never much liked riding it, either.

“Vault seven-hundred-eleven,” the goblin announced as the cart came to a halt. Remus was unable to hide how glad he was to climb out and Sirius just grinned at him as he followed at a calmer pace. 

The attendant walked ahead and unlocked the giant metal door. It swung open to reveal stacks of gold and an assortment of antiques. Sirius froze. He knew full well that half of this stuff wasn’t his. Even in seventeen years of interest, he would not have had this much gold in his bank. As for the items, he hadn’t seen any of them before in his life. “This has to be the wrong vault.”

“This is vault seven-hundred-eleven, assigned to Sirius Orion Black on April the fourteenth of 1977 through the last will and testament of Alphard Pollux Black,” the goblin stated as if it explained everything. 

Remus looked over at them both, drawn away from examining the contents of the vault for himself. His gaze settled on Sirius while Sirius tried to make sense of what he was seeing. There was no way everything in the vault could be his but the inheritance rattled off by the goblin was exactly true. How was there so much in it?

“If I may ask, when did the antiques get added to Sirius’s account?” Remus asked, putting into words what his addled brain couldn’t manage to verbalize.

“The contents of the Black Family Vault were added to this vault on November the twenty-sixth of 1985 upon the death of Walburga Estelle Black,” the attendant answered.

So the old hag was dead. He hated her more than most people in his life yet somehow the news hit hard. Perhaps it was the realization that Sirius was the last Black alive. Perhaps it was the realization that with her demise came the death of the last remnant of his childhood. Perhaps it was just that he hadn’t known, hadn’t been there when any of them died. A part of him cared that his mother was gone but he didn’t want to care. Thinking of her brought back memories of the abuse she’d thrown at him for as long as he could remember, the insults, the backhanded slaps, the way she never stood up for him when Orion cast the Cruciatus Curse on him, the way she’d burned his name off the family tree the night he’d run away, the way she’d never once reached out to him since then.

“Breathe.” A hand on his arm brought him back to the present and he did as he was told. When he could focus again, Remus was standing in front of him, concern etched into his features. His grip was firm on Sirius’s arm and his beautiful green eyes were searching for something in his own tormented grey. Whether they found it or not, he wasn’t sure. Instead, Remus squeezed his arm briefly and turned to address the goblin.

“We would like to withdraw 100 galleons, please.”

“Very well.” The attendant walked into the vault and took a pouch from his pocket. He counted gold coins into it and then walked back out, handing it to Remus. “Will that be all?”

“For now, yes. Thank you.” Remus pocketed the bag of money and went back to Sirius, dragging him to the cart. Sirius put up no complaints, still reeling from the sudden news of his mother’s death. He opted to keep his focus on Remus and was surprised when the man took off the baby harness, sleeping Teddy with it, and handed it to him instead. Sirius put his arms around the little boy and gave Remus a smile. He didn’t know what it was about Teddy but holding the baby grounded him. Harry had been the same. He supposed it was part of what had made him consider raising a child with Remus so long ago. It was ironic that he seemed to be doing exactly that now, though he could not have come up with the circumstances of such an event on his own in a million years.

A pale-faced Remus guided Sirius out of the bank in silence once they arrived back in the lobby. He guessed that Remus had the key once more because he didn’t remember the goblin giving it back to him. The brisk September air and the noise of the shoppers in the street brought his attention back to their task; he realized he must have zoned out again the cart ride.

“Let’s get you some robes first… Then perhaps we can eat and get you a wand,” Remus suggested. 

Sirius looked at him. The man seemed to be doing better after getting off the cart in the bank but Sirius could see the exhaustion underlying his every move, exacerbated by the stress of the past week. He had a faint pallor still and though he was smiling, Sirius saw the tell tale signs of a headache in the almost imperceptible squint of his eyes. He gave Remus a nod and headed towards Madam Malkin's.

A few hours later, they walked out with significantly less money and several bags full of new robes that actually fit him. By that point, Teddy was awake and again with his father, looking around the street and the people waving at him when they caught his eye. He was remarkably calm and watching him gave Sirius a distraction from his thoughts and the people who seemed to recognize him. Thankfully, the robe shop had been private service so only the shop attendants and the tailor herself knew who he was. It was awkward at first but then Teddy and Remus had garnered more of the attention when the boy woke up.

Lunch was uneventful but Sirius was able to get a smile out of Remus again by the end of it. They ate at an out of the way cafe rather than the Leaky Cauldron to avoid more people recognizing Sirius and were largely successful in avoiding stares. It was funny, almost. As a teenager, Sirius had often been the center of attention, whether because of his good looks or his outgoing and often daring behavior. It had never bothered him and, most of the time, he completely ignored it in favor of interacting with his friends. Many a girl’s heart had been broken by his blatant disregard for the way they threw themselves at him and none of them really ever seemed to get the hint that he just wasn’t interested; they seemed to think he was just playing hard-to-get. Now, people looking at him and talking about him set him on edge when he wasn’t otherwise distracted by Remus. The students and teachers at Hogwarts never seemed to worry about him, but then again, he hadn’t made himself very available to them until Remus’s students had hatched their plan to get the man to be more seen. Somehow, though, worrying about Remus acted like an override for his newfound dislike of attention. He could act his way through it if it helped his Moony.

“I think it’s going to rain,” Remus commented softly, his voice tired. They were walking to Ollivanders, newly reopened and apparently tidied up a little since the last time Sirius had seen it. He glanced up at the sky and the clouds darkening overhead. Luckily it didn’t look like storm clouds, just blanketing fluffy rain clouds.

“I suppose we had better get inside then, shouldn’t we?” Sirius offered Remus a wink that got an eye roll in response before pushing open the shop door. A little bell chimed above it as the interior brought back memories of his eleven year old self stepping into the store for the first time with his mother and little brother. He had been so excited to pick out his wand and Ollivander had talked him through wandlore while letting him try out several. The experience had ended with a giggling Regulus sporting pink hair for about half an hour and several papers scattered about and singed before he was the proud owner of a brand new applewood wand. His mother had quickly confiscated it until loading him onto the Hogwarts Express months later but he hadn’t been able to contain his excitement at finally being able to learn real magic and get away from Grimmauld Place for a while.

“Welcome, welcome. If it isn’t Mr. Black and Mr. Lupin,” Ollivander, looking haggard and old beyond his years, greeted from the back of the store. He walked slowly to meet them and gave Remus a more personable nod as if they had something of a relationship. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I need a new wand,” Sirius admitted quietly, suddenly awash in shame. If he hadn’t fucked up so badly, he’d still have his original wand and they wouldn’t need to be here.

“Of course, of course… I know the policy of destroying wands of those convicted to life in Azkaban. A pity, a pity. Your first wand was rare and a fine fit, I might add. Applewood is never suited to dark arts and anyone with knowledge of wandlore could have used that if nothing else to determine your fate.” Ollivander spoke as if he knew of the situation intimately and started selecting boxes from the shelves. Sirius watched him, feeling even worse at the reminder of where he’d spent the last seventeen years. Knowing of his innocence was the only thing that kept him going for so long. He had never expected to just one day be released with weak apology for wrongfully locking him up for half his life and then leaving him to fend for himself in a world that was so different from the one he’d left behind. If not for Remus, Sirius had no idea where he would be right now. Probably homeless and possibly dead by now. 

Remus was at his side, touching him and coaxing him to breathe. Once the panic eased, he almost found it amusing to think that he was the one having so many issues being away from Hogwarts when it was Remus he’d been worried about that morning. He offered the man a smile and put his focus back on Ollivander who had selected several boxes and was walking back towards him.

Seemingly unaware of what had just transpired, the old man offered the first wand to Sirius. “When, for whatever reason, a wizard seeks a new wand, it is common for the new fit to be different in some ways while the same in others when compared to the last. This wand, like your first, is a rare wood. Phoenix feather, spruce, ten inches.”

Sirius picked up the wand and immediately set it back down when an uncomfortable tingle ran up his arm. Ollivander set it aside with a click of his tongue and offered a new one instead. “No matter. Also phoenix feather, red oak, eleven and a half inches.”

This wand didn’t feel bad but when he flicked it with his wrist, a file folder of papers threw themselves across the room. He smirked and set it back down. “Nope.”

“Fascinating. If I recall, you are a trained mediwizard, are you not, Mr. Black?” Ollivander inquired as he looked through the boxes he still had put aside for Sirius to try. He handed Sirius a wand box without waiting for an answer. “Dragon heartstring, hawthorn, nine inches. Well suited to healing yet rather explosive if ill-suited.”

Sirius was careful to point it away from Remus and Teddy before giving it a gentle wave. He could immediately feel the power of the wand though the warning was warranted. An entire shelf of poorly stacked wand boxes exploded across the room, the shelf itself clattering to the ground as the boxes flew several feet. The tap of the wand hitting the floor was lost in the noise and Sirius took a step back.

“Definitely not,” Ollivander commented as Teddy began crying in Remus’s arms.

Sirius looked over and gave Remus an apologetic look while the other man bounced his son and started talking to him to calm him. “Sorry, Mini-Moony…”

Ollivander took out his own wand and gave a gentle wave to fix the damage done. He cast a glance at the baby but made no comment. He waited for Teddy to quiet before he went on with selecting wands for Sirius to try. Meanwhile, Sirius went to stand beside Remus and offered the little boy his finger to help calm him.

“I can use Remus’s wand just fine,” he suggested as he watched Ollivander moving about the shop.

“That means nothing more than a representation of its owner’s loyalty to you. Mr. Lupin’s wand has a core of unicorn hair, very faithful to their owners,” Ollivander commented, not even looking over. “I also do not believe cypress to be a good fit for you.”

Sirius was almost certain he caught Remus blushing ever so slightly before the man averted his eyes. He shot him a smirk before he was offered two new wands. He looked them over before looking to Ollivander for explanation.

“Another dragon heartstring wand, aspen, thirteen inches,” the wandmaker explained, holding up the box in his left hand. Then he held up the right. “Unicorn hair like your first wand, willow, twelve inches. Of these two, I believe you will find a good fit. Select the one that feels best suited.”

Sirius looked at Remus when he saw the man’s expression change. His eyes were locked onto the willow wand and he had a pensive look about him. What the willow wand was reminding him of, Sirius had no clue, but he took it as a hint and reached for it. As soon as his fingers touched the smooth wood, he immediately felt a familiar warmth and something clicked inside. This was the one. He felt a smile curl his lips as he looked up at Ollivander. The man was nodding as he set the other wand aside and put the lid back on the willow wand’s box. Sirius followed him as he walked to the counter to finalize the sale, handing over the seven galleons before twirling his new wand between his fingers. It felt good to have one again. “Guess I don’t have to steal yours anymore, Moony,” he called over his shoulder.

Remus still had that pensive look on his face as he nodded and joined Sirius. Ollivander gave them both a bow and a knowing smile. “I will see you both again when young Master Lupin is ready for his first wand.”

Surprisingly even that comment got little more than a nod from Remus and while they were walking out of the store, Sirius nudged gently him with an elbow to the ribs. “Alright, spill. What’s eating you, Re?”

“Oh, oh, nothing.” Remus shook his head and offered a bashful smile.

“Bollocks.”

The smile widened slightly before settling back to pensive. After a pause, he finally admitted, “Lily’s wand was willow.”

“Oh.” Sirius looked down at the wand in his hand for a moment and then broke into a grin. A fitting memorial then. On a whim, he waved the wand and conjured a white lily like the one she’d worn in her hair at the wedding. Remus finally smiled properly again. Very fitting.

Chapter Text

The first thing Remus was aware of when he regained control of his body was sharp pain in his chest. He blinked up at the man leaning over him and realized he was flat on his back with his cloak thrown over his lower half. He recognized his companion after a moment. Sirius was holding his wand over him and there was a focused, worried expression drawing his brows together and turning his usually smiling lips into a frown. As Remus tried to make more sense of the situation, he noticed that he could smell blood, and not just his own. It was drying, beginning to clot but still fresh enough to have a strong scent. He wrinkled his nose as he tried to remember what had happened.

Even with Sirius running around with him as Padfoot, the full moon back at Hogwarts had been tough. He would be without Teddy for a full week for the first time and while he wasn’t handling that well, the looming stress of the harassment from students and strangers’ mail alike made him incredibly agitated once transformed. He had managed to scratch a deep gouge into his chest before Padfoot had literally tackled him to make him stop. Then they’d wrestled a little more meaningfully than intended and he’d managed to scratch up the dog’s back before Padfoot forced him into submission and proceeded to sit on top of him for the rest of the night to keep him restrained.

“I hurt you,” Remus announced weakly, his voice little more than a pained whisper. He watched Sirius in the dim dawnlit room.

“Not before you hurt yourself… I thought the Wolfsbane Potion was supposed to keep you from doing this shit,” Sirius answered, still focused on what Remus now recognized to be some kind of healing spell.

“If I’m stressed, the wolf can still take over…” Remus averted his eyes. He’d hurt his friends before when transformed and had always felt terrible for it despite their downplays and jokes. That had been before the potion though and he had thought that it would keep him lucid enough to prevent this sort of thing. “I should have gone alone…”

“And then what? I find you a bloody unconscious mess in the corner come sunrise rather than being able to prevent most of it? I can take a few scratches if it keeps you safe, Re.” Sirius looked at his face but didn’t try to force eye contact, presumably when he noticed Remus wasn’t looking at him.

Remus had no answer for him. The pain was easing, at least, but injuries caused by werewolf claws and especially teeth were notoriously difficult to heal. Thank Merlin he hadn’t actually bitten Sirius in their tussle. The thought of that… Well, it didn’t bear thinking about. That was a rabbit hole he was not willing to go down.

“I can do more in our room,” Sirius announced after a short while. He winced as he leaned back and then pointed his wand between his shoulder blades to cast a healing spell on himself. Then he stood to gather the rest of Remus’s clothes. He returned quickly, helping him dress at least into his trousers before getting him to his feet. Arms around each other’s shoulders, they limped back down the passage and into the castle. Luckily it was still early enough to avoid being seen by anyone but a few of the more morning-driven teachers who gave them concerned looks but did not comment or ask questions.

A long bath together and some more focused treatment of both their wounds found them both walking quietly into the Great Hall for breakfast despite Remus’s arguments against it. Sirius had insisted that he let the kids see him. If the idea was that they get to know him as more than a monster, as the person behind the wolf, then seeing him as he was after a full moon was part of that. He’d claimed it may just go towards opening their eyes to the truth of his affliction. Remus had begrudgingly agreed and put up with the stares and whispers as he made his way to the staff table and tried to keep his eyes open through the meal. More than a few times, he’d wound up with his head on Sirius’s shoulder and being gently nudged to keep eating. After the fourth time, Sirius seemed to just give up and let him rest. With his eyes closed, Remus felt marginally better and listened to the Great Hall around him while dozing.

“Is Professor Lupin alright?” Hermione asked. Remus had vaguely noticed her scent coming his way, vine wood, cut grass and strawberries. He didn’t bother to open his eyes but noticed another familiar scent nearby, yew, cut grass, again, and broomstick wax: Ginny. 

“He’s been better,” Sirius answered. Remus smiled faintly at hearing the man’s rich voice rumble in his ear.

“Where’s Teddy?” Ginny asked.

“With his grandmother.” There was a smirk in Sirius’s voice. Meeting Andi had been an interesting experience on Saturday. Most of the conversation had been dominated by the two cousins catching up and sharing in what seemed to be Black-family wit while Remus cuddled with his son for as long as he could before handing him over. He’d worried that the meeting was going to be awkward but after getting over the shock of seeing each other again for the first time in decades, Sirius and Andi were like two peas in a pod and Remus had given up trying to get in the middle of them when insults were thrown around like jokes, Sirius calling Andi old for being a grandmother and Andi insisting her younger cousin was a snot-nosed brat in rather colorful language. Laughter and sarcasm had given the evening a bittersweet note before they went back to the castle without Teddy.

Ginny apparently picked up on Sirius’s humor and laughed. “Guess he’ll be back in a couple days?”

“End of the week,” Sirius answered, rubbing Remus’s leg comfortingly under the table. Remus wished he could get the boy back sooner but didn’t have the time midweek to go and pick him up.

“Oh,” both girls replied, their voices falling.

Suddenly there was chocolate on the table in front of him. Remus quirked a smile again. “Thank you,” he told the girls quietly and he almost laughed at the soft gasp Hermione made; apparently she hadn’t realized he was awake.

A flutter overhead brought the conversation to a halt. Owls flew in through the open windows in the roofline of the Hall, swooping in low to deliver mail to the students and teachers alike. Remus heard several of them coming his way and finally opened his eyes. An assortment of letters were dropped onto the table in front of him but before he could reach out to grab any of them, Sirius whisked them away and started flipping through them. “Those are mine, I’ll have you know,” he complained weakly but Sirius ignored him and proceeded to toss all but one of them into the air and set them on fire with his wand. Gasps came from the nearby students who saw the display.

“More hate mail?” Ginny asked, frowning. Sirius just nodded to her as Remus sat up and examined the solitary letter handed back to him. 

“Why do people think they can just send things like that? It’s like they don’t even consider that who they are sending it to is a real person with feelings!” Hermione sounded angry even though Remus didn’t look up at her. She’d been subjected to hate mail before but for an entirely different reason. In her case, it had been misplaced. His own…

“That is exactly what they think,” Remus answered quietly. Sirius nudged him indignantly, gentler than usual because of his injuries. The letter, from Harry, brought a smile smile back to his lips and dragged him from his darkening thoughts. It was nothing special, just some words of encouragement and an inquiry and wish as to his health following the full moon. He also said he would try to visit as soon as his work schedule allowed. Remus handed it to Sirius to read before picking up the chocolate he’d been given and unwrapping it carefully. He smiled to the girls again in thanks.

“I swear, you and Pigwidgeon are like twins or something,” Ginny complained as Harry’s owl settled on top of her head after stealing some bacon from Remus’s largely untouched plate. Albus just fluffed his feathers and made himself comfortable. She reached up to scratch his head and got a contented chirp in response.

Hermione laughed beside her. “They do act very much alike. Though Albus will probably stop acting like that once he gets older. A full grown snowy owl sitting on one’s head is something I’d rather discourage.”

Remus leaned back in his chair and quietly ate his chocolate as the girls talked. He appreciated their presence and though not typically appropriate for students to be coming up to the staff table to converse with teachers during meals, McGonagall was making no comment on the matter and some of the other students were curious if nothing else. He supposed it was adding to their plan to have the others recognize him as a person rather than just a werewolf. Eventually, Hermione noticed the time and shooed Ginny off to their classes, most of them shared. Remus sighed and excused himself as well, quietly limping from the the Great Hall after bidding Sirius goodbye and a sincere wish that would do what he could to stay out of trouble now that he was alone and armed with a wand in the halls of Hogwarts. If nothing else, at least, it made for an amusing line of thought to consider what he’d get himself up to without Teddy to entertain.

Alone, Remus trudged to his classroom in an attempt to get ready for the day ahead. He had never been so thankful for a planning period in his life. With his sixth year students scheduled for their first double period an hour after breakfast, it gave him a little bit of time to pretend that he was feeling remotely human and maybe even take a short nap. It didn’t help that his entire body was aching along with the sharper pain in his chest and he had a massive migraine. He would have given anything to go to bed and sleep the day away but he had his students to attend to, whether they wanted him to or not. At least the sixth years knew him and had been largely supportive so far.

“Oi, Moony, your brats are coming,” Sirius told him, his voice and scent very close to his ear. Remus lifted his head and opened his eyes, realizing he’d actually managed to fall asleep at his desk. Apparently Sirius had followed after him and Remus found that he now had a blanket over his shoulders and was hugging a small pillow.

“Have I got you to thank for the impromptu bed?” he asked, his voice thick as he blinked sleepily. 

Sirius grinned at him but didn’t answer. Instead, he set a small bottle on the desk. “Got this from Pomfrey. She was asking after you since you didn’t go to see her. I told her I took care of you and she offered the potion. Told her I’d bring it to you and then found you kipping at your desk. I’m going to borrow a cauldron and snag some ingredients off Slughorn and see if I can’t brew you something else, too.” 

Remus just nodded faintly and downed the contents of the bottle in two big gulps. He recognized it as a pain relief potion once he’d popped the lid off and was immediately grateful. “This should get me through the morning at least,” he commented softly. “You should get some pain relief for yourself.”

Sirius shrugged and Remus could see the grimace hidden in his smile as he did so. Remus felt awful every time Sirius had shifted the way he was sitting during breakfast or adjusted his robes to be more comfortable with his poorly healing injuries. “Nah, I’m alright. Need anything else before I leave?”

“A new body that isn’t trying to tear itself to pieces would be appreciated. Or perhaps three solid weeks of sleep,” Remus answered, his voice and expression flat.

Sirius’s smile spread back into his typical grin. “I’ll get back to you on that.”

“I expect a written response within three business days.” Remus got up and set the blanket and pillow aside. He ran a hand down his face and rubbed his temples as the potion began to ease up his headache and the throbbing across his ribs.

“No promises,” Sirius replied. He twirled his wand and sauntered to the door. “I’ll come and check on you after class. Do try to stay awake. I doubt a bunch of sixteen-year-olds can really be trusted not to cause mischief without a teacher to watch them.”

“And you would certainly know nothing about that,” Remus answered dryly.

“I have no clue what you’re talking about, Professor Lupin.” Sirius gave him a Marauder grin and then left the room before Remus could give him a response. Remus just smiled and spent his last few minutes of solitude getting ready to teach. It wasn’t the kind of lesson he really wanted to be doing but had long since learned not to try facilitating hands-on experiences after a full moon, no matter how well it went.

Chapter Text

The morning was spent doing exactly as Sirius had said it would be. He went to Slughorn, borrowed a cauldron and was given fairly open access to the potion master’s storeroom to brew whatever he wanted. A trip to the library had reminded him of the exact recipe he was after, with a firm reminder from Madam Pince not to make a ruckus even though he was now of age to get things out of the restricted section. He had winked at her and located what he was after rather quickly before leaving again. After getting his potion set up, he went to check on Remus and shared lunch with him before getting right back to it. By the time dinner rolled around, he had a cauldron full of a werewolf-specific healing potion bubbling gently on the dining table and was able to offer it to the man right before he finally crashed after eating. The rest of the evening was spent messing with the CD player while Remus slept. He had it making sound before he went to bed but was still unable to power it without touching his wand to it. It was an improvement nonetheless.

“Did you know there is a whole section on healing magic that we were never taught in the restricted section of the library?” Sirius asked Remus over breakfast the next day. The man seemed more himself after a full night’s rest.

Remus rested his chin on his hand and gave Sirius an incredulous look that had him barking out a laugh and drawing the stares of several people close to them.

“Right, right. Of course you do. You used to live in the library!”

“I’m glad you see the pointless nature of your question,” Remus remarked before taking another bite of his meal.

Sirius grinned at him. “I only brought it up because I figured you could use it in your lessons. It’s where I found the recipe for that potion I made you. There’s a ton more, too.”

“You were researching?” Remus raised an eyebrow at him that had him laughing again.

“I already knew what I was looking for. I just went to see if the library had it because I’d rather not poison you while trying to heal you,” Sirius answered in his defense.

Remus shook his head and offered Sirius a small smile. “Alright, well go on. What’s this idea of yours? For once it seems like it won’t get us in trouble.”

“Come on. I can be serious sometimes.” Sirius’s grin spread and he almost made a joke of his words before Remus shoved a crumpet into his mouth to gag him.

“Don’t say it.”

Sirius swallowed and just grinned at him. “Wasn’t going to.”

“Liar.”

Sirius just grinned wider. “Anyway, my point was that there is a lot of obscure medical stuff there about werewolves. I only know about it because I went looking during my off hours while I was training at St. Mungo’s. Most healers don’t even know about it because they’re just as prejudiced as the next sod.” His expression had sobered some by the end of his explanation.

“So you went looking for something you remembered learning about almost twenty years ago?” Remus had a calm expression now, as if he was considering the idea properly.

“Yeah. And I remembered most of it, too.” Sirius flashed his grin before going on. “How about I pull what I can to show you? Maybe some of it could be useful for convincing these kids that werewolves aren’t all bad.”

Remus paused then nodded and graced him with a warm smile. Sirius loved that smile and was glad to finally see it again. It had been days since Remus had let himself smile properly without relying on Teddy to draw it out of him. Maybe Sirius could do something about that. He spent the rest of the week doing just that. Most of his free time was spent in the library, something which any of the teachers who knew him found impossible to believe until they saw it for themselves. By midweek, Madam Pince had even offered her help and located things she thought may be of interest once she knew what he was looking into. Madam Pomfrey proved to be a wealth of knowledge as well and gave him advice when he went to her with questions that were beyond his training and short field experience. Every evening, Sirius shared what he had learned with Remus and, much to his enjoyment, brought out the smile more and more. Remus spent his plan periods and most of their evenings pouring over what Sirius had found and working with him to write lessons that incorporated a lot of it. One particular book Sirius had located, thin and obscure, hidden between two larger texts and almost missed for how nondescript it was, actually painted a picture of werewolves in a positive light and detailed the story of the author’s life after being bitten as a teenager. Remus had read the entire thing in one sitting and then magically made copies of a favorite chapter with plans to make his students read and discuss it in class.

Saturday morning, after a full week without Teddy, Sirius found Remus sitting at the dining table when he got up. There was a pile of letters all over its surface and a cup of coffee sitting amongst them. Remus was scratching away at envelopes with his quill, the inkpot noticeably missing from the organized chaos of the tabletop.

“How long have you been up?” Sirius asked as he wandered over to the cabinet that served as their kitchenette in the suite to make himself some coffee. He stifled a yawn while he waited for the answer.

“Since sunrise.” Remus didn’t look up at him.

“Damn, Moony…” Sirius shook his head and came over to sit across from him with his own cup. “And all of this is...?”

“Letters to the werewolves I know. Apparently the word spread and more than just the seventh and eighth years wrote them. I either have Ginny or Hermione to blame for that, I suspect,” Remus answered, smiling at the envelope he was addressing to someone named Mason who supposedly lived in Bristol.

“And how many werewolves do you actually know that you reckon will be willing to come and talk to these hellions?” Sirius asked as he leaned back in his chair.

“About fifteen in all. And the children are not hellions. Here I thought you wanted a child of your own,” Remus answered.

“Yeah and apparently I have one now. Doesn’t mean I can’t call the others what they are. I know I was a hellion. And many other things that are not so nice to say aloud if you ask my sweet old mother,” Sirius answered with a shrug. Remus actually looked at him then, a confused inquiry in his eyes. Sirius grinned at him and shrugged again. In hindsight, the comment he’d made was pretty loaded but he couldn’t exactly take it back now.

Remus’s expression shifted while Sirius watched him. Something in his eyes softened and he gave that warm smile again. When he spoke, his voice was shaking ever so slightly. “You think of Teddy as your own?”

So that’s what got Remus’s attention. Sirius let his grin shift into a gentle smile and watched as Remus brightened; he apparently recognized that expression before Sirius even realized he was giving it. “Yeah.”

Remus looked away and Sirius thought the conversation had ended. He took a sip of his coffee as Remus unexpectedly went on. “You don’t have a problem with it?”

Sirius had wondered when this topic was going to come up for a while now. He’d only been a free man for a little more than a month and his life had changed drastically in that time. Early days had been a lot of filling him in on what had changed in seventeen years and meeting people he should have already known. In that time, Remus had shared what he had been doing alone and, albeit reluctantly, gave some explanation of how he’d met Dora and what they had shared together in the short time they were married. It took some getting used to but Sirius had accepted it. And then there was that awkward phase of not knowing what to do with himself around Remus and kissing him despite everything he’d learned and somehow rekindling something he’d thought was lost. He supposed that was when his feelings about Teddy had shifted from his best friend’s kid, like Harry had been, to his own kid. If he and Remus were going to spend their lives together, as they had once intended to do, then Teddy was part of the package. Sirius already loved kids so it was an easy transition to make. Teddy was Remus’s son, no matter the circumstances, so naturally, he would be Sirius’s too if they were both willing to have him. Yes, he’d been hurt at first that Remus had moved on without him, had changed his mind about having a kid when he had been so adamant about not wanting one before, had lived his life for seventeen years when Sirius had been stuck in Azkaban with nothing but his worst memories and his twisted imagination for company. Realistically though, when he was in a lucid enough state of mind to recognize it, none of that was fair. What was Remus supposed to have done? Wait around not doing anything for the rest of his life for a chance at seeing Sirius again? Neither of them had even counted that as a possibility until it actually happened. No, Sirius made the active choice to be glad that Remus had found the courage to go on, to rebuild his life, to take a stab at being happy again, even if that meant it was without him. But now they had the miracle of a chance to try again and make something of the pieces of both their shattered lives. Sirius wasn’t about to let a grudge against something Remus couldn’t control and couldn’t hold against anyone but Bartemius Crouch and his own stupidity for getting arrested in the first place ruin what they had the possibility of making out of their lives now. Sirius had just never had the opportunity to voice any of that to Remus. However, instead of doing so now, he just shook his head and kept smiling.

“No, I don’t have a problem if you don’t have a problem.”

It took Remus a moment to process that and then he looked back at Sirius with the most gorgeous smile Sirius had ever seen on his face. Such open love and trust just radiated from him that, for a moment, Sirius saw the brilliant young man he had fallen in love with behind the tired war hero. Those beautiful emerald eyes were the same as they had ever been, wise beyond their years but full of life in such a way that the soft lines in his face and silver streaks in his hair fell away from noticing. “Smile like that more often.”

Chapter Text

For all the times he had watched Sirius interact with Teddy and care for him, Remus had always been secretly terrified that he wouldn’t be able to fully accept the boy, that Teddy would always be a reminder of what had happened in Sirius’s absence, that it would one day come down to choosing one or the other, his son or his partner. Why he thought that Remus couldn’t say. Whenever he truly examined those thoughts, it was clear that he was being an idiot and that he knew Sirius better than that. Sirius would never make him choose. He might make the choice for himself to leave but he would never put that onto Remus. The thing was, though, that Remus also knew from watching Sirius with Teddy that he had fallen in love with the boy as quickly as he’d fallen in love with Harry. The look in his vivid grey eyes whenever he played with Teddy or talked to him or even just laid on the couch holding him spoke volumes about the way he felt. Sirius would fight for this child just as he would have done for Harry when he was a baby. Sirius had repeatedly remarked that he loved Harry like his own, and knowing Sirius the way he did, Remus knew that he would fight for Harry even now, even though Harry had proven to the entire Wizarding World that he could hold his own. Sirius would fight for anyone he truly cared about and it was obvious that Teddy fell into that category. To hear the validation of that sentiment aloud, though... It was either beam at Sirius like an overpowered light bulb or crumble like an overstimulated child and, frankly, he’d had enough of crying lately.

Sirius kept smiling back at him while drinking his coffee and eventually prompted Remus to focus back on the task at hand. “I can help you address these things if you want. Get it done faster.”

Remus blinked owlishly at him then looked down at the table where his forgotten letters were stacked haphazardly in piles going to each of his contacts, the list of addresses sitting beside the envelope he had been working on. He nodded after a moment and summoned another quill from across the room to offer to Sirius. “Thanks,” he murmured, unable to drop the smile even though his attention was now on his work.

What would have been another hour of sorting and writing out envelopes turned into twenty minutes between the two of them. They took the stacks to the owlery, choosing the largest of the owls available to take each bundle to its intended recipient. Remus hoped that at least one of them would respond favorably and that it wasn’t all just a waste of time and effort. 

Then they walked to the Great Hall for breakfast. Remus had become used to eating there now, at least. Things looked different than they had in May. The banners that usually hung over the tables were mixed rather than all one crest, changed after the first night to represent the new unity that McGonagall had called for, and even though there was still a rivalry for house points, a healthy competition between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff for now since Gryffindor and Slytherin had hurt themselves with the detentions given to the fourth years who skipped his classes, the way that everyone mingled helped overlay new memories atop the old. Having Sirius with him was a massive boon as well; he wasn’t alone to face the reminders of what had been lost that day.

A few students reached out to greet him or called across the Hall with waves. Still beyond happy from earlier, Remus smiled and greeted them in kind. A few even greeted Sirius now that he was becoming more visible in the castle. They settled in their typical spot at the staff table and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast with no schedule to hustle them along. 

“Is that Harry Potter?” came a whisper about halfway through their meal.

“It is!” another whispered responded. 

“Why does he have a baby with him?”

“Harry?”

“Isn’t that Lupin’s kid?”

“What’s Potter doing here?”

The whispers rose to a noticeable level but Remus had already looked up before that point. His eyes were wide as Harry, dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt, strode between the center two tables with a bashful smile, waving at people and greeting them. Teddy was on his hip while the baby’s bag was slung over his opposite shoulder. The baby seemed less amicable to the attention and clung to his godfather until Sirius noticed and cast the muffling charm they usually used on him during mealtime.

“Prongslet!” Sirius greeted with a grin, getting up and going to the young man with open arms.

“‘Morning, Sirius,” Harry replied, giving a one armed hug in return. “Hope you don’t mind my showing up unannounced, Professor McGonagall!” he called to the woman who just smiled and shook her head.

“Not at all, Potter.”

The whispers had become full on conversations by then, people pointing and inquiring about what was going on. Those who recognized him as a classmate and friend more than just the savior of the war were all smiles but opted to give him space. 

“So tell me, why do you have Mini-Moony?” Sirius asked as he guided Harry to the table to join them.

Remus wanted to know the answer to that question as well but was honestly too dumbfounded to ask. He and Sirius had planned to go to Andi’s later in the afternoon to pick up the boy. Seeing him now was a welcome surprise and Remus gladly took him from Harry when his godson offered him.

Harry grinned at them both as he settled beside Remus. “I knew it was Andi’s turn with him and since she lives in London, I swung by to grab him before coming here. Thought I’d save you a trip and get him back to you sooner.”

Remus hugged Teddy close and spoke to him softly as a means to calm them both down. Sirius put a hand on his leg under the table and offered a smile before focusing on Harry again.

“Care to tell us why you failed to inform us of the visit?” 

Harry shrugged with a smile. “Surprise? I told Hermione I was coming. Guess I forgot to let you two know.”

Sirius rolled his eyes but grinned back at him. “A likely story.”

“Believe what you want.” Harry leaned over to snag a plate to serve himself some breakfast. He steadfastly ignored all of the students trying to get his attention. “So I saw a flurry of owls heading out as I got to Hogsmeade. You two have anything to do with that?”

“We sent off the letters to my contacts this morning,” Remus answered, joining the conversation now that he had settled some. Teddy was clinging to him and resting on his shoulder but seemed content.

“Excellent. Hope that works out. I remember you talking about one a few years back that you got pretty friendly with. Wasn’t his name Mason or was it Marshall?” Harry asked as he ate.

“Mason,” Remus confirmed simply. He had never shared the man’s full name or that fact that Harry might have even met him in first or second year at Hogwarts. The only stories he told were of the small friendship they seemed to have formed and the ways he was helping him cope with his first full moon. Remus hadn’t actually been in contact with him for a long time and found himself feeling bad about that now that he was trying to ask something of him instead of just making sure he was alright in the years since they had seen each other.

“Right.” Harry nodded. He offered Teddy a small piece of banana when he noticed the baby eyeing it and grinned when it was squished into his mouth as well as all over his father’s sweater.

Remus sighed. “Diolch, Teddy…”

“Means ‘thank you,’” Sirius supplied when Harry raised an eyebrow. Remus had never formally told him that so he figured that Sirius must have just managed to pick it up contextually.

“How long are you staying, Harry?” Remus asked, ignoring the mess on his shoulder for now; Teddy was happy with his little chunk of banana so he’d deal with it later.

“Until after dinner. I doubt there’s really the space to put me up here in the castle and I really don’t feel like going back down to Hogsmeade to stay there,” Harry explained, making a face at the prospect.

“You could stay with us. We have two bedrooms in the suite,” Sirius offered.

Remus glanced at him while Harry stared with wide eyes. It was then that Remus realized that even though he’d told Harry about the way he and Sirius were trying to piece things back together and seeing where the relationship went, he hadn’t informed the young man of just how far they’d progressed in that endeavor. It wasn’t the sort of thing that just casually made its way into a letter. As things were already awkward enough, he just smiled at Harry and nodded, repeating the invitation. “You are most certainly welcome so long as you don’t have to be back sooner than morning.”

“No, no… It’s my weekend off.” The shock seemed to pass and Harry smiled at them both again. “Fair enough. I can stick around if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all,” Remus assured. He offered Teddy another piece of banana when the boy babbled in his ear. It appeared to satisfy him while also making more mess.

They spent the rest of breakfast catching up with each other, laughing and joking. It reminded Remus a lot of the meals shared with the Marauders, added to by the way that Harry looked so much like James even if his personality was more often like Lily. As he sat with Teddy safely in his arms where he belonged, he was genuinely happy to largely sit back and watch as Sirius and his godson bonded in a way that he and Harry had already done years ago. He was with his family and that was enough for him, for now, to be able to forget everything else that had been going on in the past couple of weeks.

Chapter Text

Remus insisted on bundling Teddy up before they went outside to enjoy the onset of autumn weather that early September brought with it. Sirius found it amusing and endearing at once to watch him fuss over the baby who wanted nothing to do with his hat and kept throwing it on the floor. Eventually, Remus gave up picking it up and just charmed the thing to put itself back on Teddy’s head whenever the boy threw it off. Harry found the entire situation hilarious but neither he nor Sirius offered to help.

“Something tells me he is gonna be worse than Prongs about his hair,” Sirius commented as they finally made it outside and Teddy tossed his hat to the ground. The boy made a disgruntled noise when it set itself back.

Remus just groaned. “I can do without that.”

Harry just grinned, happy as always to hear about his dad.

Sirius looked to Harry and gave him a matching grin. “Your dad had hair just as messy as yours and decided making it look even worse was just the thing he needed to do to get your mum’s attention.”

Harry made a face and tried to smooth his hair to no avail. “I remember seeing that in some of Snape’s memories. And I think he was doing it in one or two of the pictures Remus showed me too.”

Sirius almost made comment on Harry’s interactions with Snivellus before the young man went on and brought up the pictures. He looked to Remus with a raised eyebrow.

“I still have your photo album,” Remus answered softly in explanation. “It was… one of the few things I kept.”

Sirius paused as he considered that. Obviously Remus hadn’t stayed in the flat nor used any of the money in Sirius’s account to support himself after he was arrested. They had never actually talked about what happened to any of their things though. Sirius had noticed, without commenting on it, that Remus didn’t wear the ring he’d given him. Interestingly, he didn’t wear one at all but Sirius had never asked about that either. He had often wondered what had come of it all. 

“Can I look at it later?” Sirius heard himself ask before he fully realized what he was saying. He wasn’t sure he could handle the reminders, the rekindling of memories, seeing them again, hearing their voices… 

Remus offered him a small, gentle smile and nodded. “I’ll pull it out for you.” When they met eyes, the rest of that comment became apparent. Remus would sit with him so he wouldn’t have to go through it alone. They’d do it together.

“Could I join you?” Harry asked timidly, as if he was worried about intruding.

Remus gave him the same gentle smile and nodded. “Of course, Harry.”

Sirius opted to put down his reminiscent feelings and hide them behind a grin. He slung an arm around Harry’s shoulders as they walked. “I can tell you all sorts of embarrassing stories about your folks. It’ll be great. I remember some of the pictures in there and I bet Remus here never told you the half of them.”

“I was trying to be a good influence for our godson,” Remus retorted defensively.

Both Sirius and Harry laughed as they continued on their way around the castle towards the quidditch pitch. As they approached, intending to settle in the stands for a while, small figures became visible overhead. Harry’s face lit up as they got closer and Sirius caught Remus giving him a knowing smile. The students flying overhead were in Gryffindor colors and Sirius noticed that Harry’s eyes were following one in particular, a girl with red hair tied back into a ponytail who was practicing passes with three others. Sirius thought he recognized her but couldn’t quite tell from where they were. A number of hopeful Gryffindors were watching them play.

“Ginny Weasley, captain, chaser,” Remus told him while Harry was too absorbed in watching the four play, especially Ginny. He pointed out each player. “Demelza Robins, chaser. Ritchie Coote, beater. And Dean Thomas, tentative chaser.”

“And how do you know all of this? You couldn’t give a rat’s ass about quidditch when we were at school. You only showed up for Prongs’s sake,” Sirius demanded, his eyes on the players up above.

“Ginny told me. She is as obsessed with quidditch as they come.” Remus shrugged and started to climb the stands.

“And you sit and have conversations with your students about quidditch often, do you?” Sirius asked as he followed.

“When they happen to be students you have a relationship with outside of school, yes. Her entire family gave me a home and welcomed me with open arms without question.” Remus glanced up at the redhead with a faint smile before putting his focus back on the stairs.

Sirius let the topic drop then. He knew all about the way Remus had essentially been drafted back into the Order and everything that happened as a result. While at first completely flabbergasted the war hadn’t actually ended in 1981, Sirius was definitely glad that it was finally over now. He wasn’t sure what he would have done had he walked back into a war-torn world and been expected to fight. Probably gotten himself killed, if he were honest about it.

Harry drew him out of the dark line of thoughts when he sat down beside him on the bench and pointed up at Ginny. “Look at the way she flies!”

Sirius looked at him and then caught Remus subtly shaking his head and smiling while he held Teddy in his lap. The baby seemed fascinated by the little people flying around and was waving to them and babbling quite happily now that they weren’t so far away.

“I hear tale you can fly, too,” Sirius answered. 

That drew a grin from Harry. “Yeah, but it’s been ages since I’ve played quidditch.”

“Think fast, Harry!” Ginny’s voice yelled in warning before a quaffle came at his head. The young man caught it and grinned at the young woman coming his way.

“I’d rather you not throw things towards us,” Remus warned, his voice flat. Both Ginny and Harry cracked up.

“Sorry, Remus. Ritchie’s better at aiming when he can hit things with his bat,” Ginny explained around her laughter. The rest of the team flew over to join them, apparently curious as to what had their captain laughing so hard.

“Sorry!” a tall, thin young man apologized, holding up his hands. He seemed perfectly stable on the broom even without holding on.

“Say, Harry, why don’t you join us since you’re here? I mean, so long as you’re not busy,” a dark skinned boy, taller than the other, suggested with a grin. 

“I-” Harry looked to Remus and Sirius; Remus nodded to him and Sirius just grinned and shrugged. Then he looked back to the team. “I don’t have any of my equipment.”

“Borrow some then. We have extra robes in the changing room and several brooms in the shed.” Ginny winked at Harry and then sped off with the quaffle she’d taken back from him. “See you on the pitch!”

The other three followed her back and they started tossing the ball around again while they waited. Harry watched them and then looked at Remus and Sirius again. “You don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” Remus answered.

Sirius just kept grinning. “You are just like your dad, Prongslet!”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“I can see how much you wanna get out there. And how much you fancy Ginny. Red hair, sassy attitude, just like your mum.” Sirius reached over to ruffle Harry’s hair, to which the young man tried to duck out of his grasp while also trying to hide his face.

“Cut it out, Pads. No-one wants to be told the person they fancy is like one of their parents,” Remus reprimanded, grabbing his arm to free Harry.

“Ugh, yeah, you’re right… Thank fu-fudge you aren’t like either of mine.” Sirius gave a dramatic shudder while Harry got to his feet.

“On that note, I’ll see you both later.” Harry scurried away, leaving Sirius laughing and Remus shaking his head. They watched for an hour or so, Sirius admiring the way that Harry could fly now that he had seen it for himself. Eventually, apparently at Harry’s insistence, several of the other Gryffindors joined them on the pitch and what started as practice and gauging the skills of the hopefuls before try-outs just turned into an impromptu game to see who could make the most goals before Harry got his hands on the snitch. It ended with a spectacular dive that turned into a backflip mere feet from the grass. Then Harry rose up, his left arm held high and a grin a mile-wide on his face. Tiny gold wings were batting between his gloved fingers. Sirius wolf-whistled while the spectators that had gathered as word spread of the Gryffindor team playing around on the pitch with none other than Harry Potter let out cheers.

Chapter Text

Harry spent most of the day catching up with friends, leaving Remus and Sirius to their own devices. Remus opted to love on his son after having missed him all week and Sirius decided that the image of Remus laying on the floor with a giggling baby on his chest was the cutest thing in the world. He added sparks of his own to the game they were playing but largely let Remus have his bonding time. With how busy they had both been, it had slipped his notice that Remus was different without Teddy around. To think that the man who now willingly let a four-month-old smash a banana onto his shoulder and then gave him more was the same man who had claimed he would make a terrible father. Bollocks to that. Remus was a natural with kids, had been with Harry, obviously was with the teenagers he taught and very clearly was with his own son. Remus was beaming, a lighter version of himself around the boy. Throughout the week, something subtle had been missing from his smile and entire demeanor and it wasn't until Sirius saw him now that he put his finger on it; Teddy made all the difference.

They met up with their godson after dinner when he at last joined them in their suite. He'd eaten among the students and, for once, all of the attention that was usually on Remus was on Harry instead. Sirius wondered if the impromptu visit would help cast a new image of their teacher among them. After all, if The Boy Who Lived, Savior of the Wizarding World, liked the werewolf teacher, maybe they should too. Harry proceeded to flop on the couch and talk their ears off about everything he'd gotten up to that day and everything that had been going on since the last time he saw them. He seemed far more willing to talk about current events than delving into the past, and for that, Sirius was glad. It gave him a chance to get to know the young man better. But boy did he know how to ramble. Sirius smirked to himself when he thought of James doing the same thing when excited or panicking about something. 

Once Teddy had been put to bed, Remus returned to the main room with a leather bound photo album that Sirius immediately recognized. A joint gift from the entire seventh year Gryffindors in 1977, his eighteenth birthday present. Remus sat beside him and laid the book into his lap. Sirius ran a hand over it and nodded to Harry to come and sit on his other side to share in the pictures and stories within. The young man seemed excited and awed at the same time.

"I've never actually seen the album," he commented softly. "Remus always picked photos out of it to show me."

"Well, prepare yourself for a crazy journey through Hogwarts in the 70's then," Sirius answered with a smirk that hid his nerves about doing the same. The people within these pages were gone, for the most part. Remus wasn't fooled and shifted how he was sitting to be in contact with him. Sirius glanced at him then opened the album to the first page and its message from the lot of them wishing him a happy birthday. 

A picture of the entire group lounging about the Gryffindor Common Room greeted him with waves and salutes, however each teenage image felt inclined to acknowledge him. Teenage Remus gave a smile and a wave from beside his own teenage self who sat there giving a two finger wave and a wink. James was sitting with Lily in his lap on a beanbag and both were grinning and waving. Peter was near them and waving excitedly. Frank and Alice were on another beanbag beside James and Lily while Marlene and Mary were sitting together on a couch. Lamps were lit and an open window showed the night sky. Some bottles were scattered about along with snacks on a coffee table. Sirius remembered that night, their first party of seventh year when all of them were finally of age, not that it ever actually mattered. They had managed to convince the house elves to give them butterbeer and pastries after all the younger kids were in bed. Someone, maybe Frank now that he thought back, had snuck in firewhiskey as well and they'd all ended up very drunk by the time they went to bed. Sirius had a vague recollection of confessing his love for Remus before giggling and passing out on his bed after the young man in question had literally dropped him there.

Sirius wasn’t quite sure what to make of their seventeen year-old images. He ran his fingers over the image, some of them reacting to his hand while others ignored it. Remus leaned closer, their shoulders touching, but didn’t say anything. Sirius glanced at him but he was gazing fondly at the photo. After a moment, Sirius turned the page to reveal images of their much younger selves looking so small and excited. The first was his own sorting, the picture of the sorting hat charmed to yell his house when touched. A favorite showed eleven year old James and newly twelve year old Sirius decked out in full red and gold, complete with face paint and a charmed banner, at their first quidditch match of the season. They were far more into it than those around them, including Remus who seemed to be trying to hide his face in exasperation even then.

So far, Sirius had avoided touching the captions written under each photograph. He recognized James’s messy scrawl under the quidditch one and stared at it. He knew full well what it would do if he touched it; the charm that Remus had devised to make it speak in the writer’s voice had amazed him when he had first learned about it. He didn’t know if he could handle it.

“You don’t have to touch the captions, Pads… I didn’t for years. Not until I showed some of the pictures to Harry,” Remus told him softly, his voice little more than a whisper but easily the loudest thing in the room.

Harry was sitting quietly on his other side, looking at the pictures but not reaching out to any of them. He offered Sirius a smile when he glanced his way.

Sirius looked to the picture again and put on a brave smile. He was a Gryffindor after all. What was a little caption read in his best friend’s voice when he had faced so much? Before he could talk himself him out of it, he let his finger brush the caption under the photo.

“November 6th, 1971 - That was an awesome birthday for my, then, new best mate! Gryffindor wiped the floor with Slytherin that year!” James’s voice read aloud, clearly older than the young boys in the image. He sounded exactly the same as the last time Sirius had spoken to him, only more excited and carefree. He’d sounded so tired then, frustrated with being cooped up in the house and kept out of combat when he knew his friends were actively fighting for their lives, worried for his young family and terrified about the hit on his innocent baby boy. Sirius had seen him just a week before he was killed. They’d hugged at the front door of the cottage in Godric’s Hollow and reluctantly parted ways with a promise to see each other again for Sirius’s birthday once Remus was home. Sirius had spent that birthday and sixteen more in a lonely cell in Azkaban.

Sirius abruptly put the photo album on the coffee table and stalked out of the suite, ignoring Remus calling after him. What he would give for a cigarette or some alcohol right about now. Or hell, both sounded pretty damn good.

Chapter Text

Harry was out of his seat to go after his godfather in a flash but Remus reached out and stopped him. It hurt because he wanted to go after Sirius as well but he knew full well that it wouldn’t get him anywhere right now. Sirius would come back on his own or they could track him down later. 

“He needs space…” Remus sighed and looked at the picture of the boys, smiling and cheering, waving their banner as the breeze tousled their hair. It was so long ago, a different time and they were different people. Back then, outside of his curse, the worst thing that ever happened was to them was detention or bad marks. Of course, knowing what he did now, Remus knew that Sirius had his own issues at home but when they were at school, they were carefree and happy.

“So we just let him go off?” Harry demanded, looking worriedly at the door.

“Precisely. He isn’t going to talk right now and he left his wand on the table by the CD player… He can’t go far.” Remus sighed again and leaned back, putting hands over his face and closing his eyes. He should have known this would happen, that Sirius wasn’t ready to face the past like that. 

“He can use the floo network if he leaves the castle,” Harry answered.

“He can but he won’t. He has nowhere to go.” That was a lie. There were plenty of places Sirius could go. They were all just very unlikely. Or at least, Remus hoped so. It was a thought that Remus didn’t want to consider but now that Harry had suggested it, he was worried. “He’s more likely to end up on top of the astronomy tower.”

“Why there?” Harry asked, sounding worried.

“He likes to watch the stars when he’s upset. I picked up the habit from him,” Remus explained. He still didn’t uncover his face as he tried to figure out how to help Sirius. In a way, his reaction made sense. He’d never had the chance to process his grief properly. He’d found out his best friends had been murdered because of another one and then immediately flown into a rage and gotten himself arrested. Azkaban would have just amplified it rather than allowing him to come to terms with it. Of course, Remus wasn’t a shining example of how to safely handle grief himself, either. He’d gone from angry at the world and blowing up the flat to actively suicidal then to a state of complete apathy that lasted the better part of eleven years. It wasn’t until he met Harry that he properly dealt with the mourning he’d held onto for so long.

“I’m going up there.” Harry stood again and made for the door but Remus didn’t stop him this time.

“It won’t help but go ahead if it will make you feel better,” he agreed softly; Harry left the suite and Remus sighed again as the door shut behind him. He hoped that Sirius wouldn’t go far, that he would just find somewhere to get some air and come back to himself. With the floo network, he really could go anywhere he wanted but where would he go? The flat was disconnected and had been for years even if he did try to go there instinctually. Grimmauld Place was an option but Sirius hated it there and was highly unlikely to go there for any sort of comfort. Godric’s Hollow was a long shot since it was more of a reminder for what he was running from and there wasn’t an easy way to access the town without knowing someone who lived there. The cottage, perhaps. It had been home until they’d moved to the castle. But would Sirius associate the place with an escape?

Unable to shake the worry now that he’d started thinking about it, Remus got up and went to his desk to pull out the map from where they’d stuck it. He unfolded it on his desk and opened it, thankfully with no sass from Moony. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with his own sarcastic humor fired back at him right now. They hadn’t had the chance to properly remap the school so some of the little dots were still moving through walls or showing up in places they shouldn’t be for the time being. He looked first at the astronomy tower and immediately spotted Harry’s dot. Sirius wasn’t there, though. Frowning, he scanned over the rest of the dots but found it hard to pick out one amongst many. He tapped his wand to the map and used one of the proof reading spells they’d enchanted it with. “Ostendeo Sirius Black.”

At first, Remus thought the spell had failed. No dots lit up to reveal the location of the person in question. Then he noticed, close to the edge, a little glowing dot moving steadily away from the castle down one of the secret passages to Hogsmeade. And of course it was the passage to the shack. It flashed out of existence as he watched it and Remus groaned. He needed to go after him but he needed to wait for Harry to come back so that someone could watch Teddy. “Ostendeo Harry Potter.” 

Harry’s dot lit up instead now and Remus watched with mounting anxiety as he made it to the tower, realized Sirius wasn’t there and then paused a while before going to other towers and high points in an attempt to find his errant godfather. When he finally returned almost an hour later to the suite, Remus already had his wand and his cloak on him and was waiting near the door. 

“I couldn’t find him, Remus,” Harry stated as he came in.

“I know. He went towards Hogsmeade.” Remus handed him the map. “Can you-”

As if reading his mind, Harry immediately nodded. “I’ll watch Teddy.”

“Thank you.” Remus gave a brief, weak smile before leaving, taking the most direct route he could outside and towards the whomping willow. He cursed himself for not going sooner. He knew Sirius needed space but if he really did make it all the way to Hogsmeade, who knew where he had gone from there? The old Sirius would have come back eventually on his own but Remus should have realized that Sirius wasn’t the same person he was before. He should have taken better care of him and paid him more attention instead of worrying so much about his own problems.

Chapter Text

At first, he felt better. Sirius had felt himself grin and raised a toast to James. He was warm and comfortable and did his best to remember the good times. There was that quidditch match cheering with his best friend, Remus shaking his head beside them but laughing along with their antics. And then their first joint prank at Christmas that first year when James and Sirius had transfigured the first year Slytherins’ robes into elf costumes based on a kids’ book Remus had shown them; Remus had found the spell to do it but avoided detention because he wasn’t stupid enough to do it while a teacher was looking. Then there was the New Years’ Feast in second year when they’d managed to charm a giant exploding ball to go off at midnight and shower everyone in the Great Hall with house themed confetti; detention for that was picking up all the confetti pieces by hand but it had been a big laugh for the four of them and a definite cop-out of a punishment since even the teachers enjoyed the show. James had made the quidditch team by third year and the first game of the season was an amazing one because it was on his fourteenth birthday and even Remus had joined in the festivities and put on face paint for their best mate’s sake. The first time James realized he fancied Lily in fourth year had been an absolute mess but hilarious all the same as he literally walked into a doorframe for staring at her; Sirius had fallen to the floor laughing while Peter failed to help him up for laughing too hard as well and Remus kindly cast a cushioning charm to catch both James and Sirius before joining the others on the floor in raucous fit of laughter. In fifth year, they’d managed to become animagi for Remus and James figured it out first, transforming into a majestic stag in the middle of the locked classroom they’d commandeered for their endeavors into illegal magic. Seventh year brought that unbelievable kiss on the first weekend of term and James pining after Lily while she turned him down every time became Lily sitting in his lap and declaring that she would, in fact, go out with him; they’d been a collective unit ever since. After graduation, they’d had a housewarming party for James and Lily’s new flat and there had been copious amounts of alcohol and dancing and the night had ended with Remus and Sirius crashed on the floor on top of each other, Peter on the couch sprawled out, Alice and Frank cuddling among some blankets and pillows in a corner, Marlene on a beanbag she’d conjured and James laying sideways in an armchair with Lily curled up atop him. The Christmas that James proposed ended much the same way. And then there was the wedding and the fireworks and patronuses and the wild dance Sirius had done with Lily and then James before Remus danced with Lily and he lost the bet to see who could make her laugh the most; he had never figured out what Remus had actually said to her to get her cracking up so badly he had to levitate her to finish the dance. A year later, Harry was born and Sirius himself delivered the boy, the first one to hold him and fall in love with him at first sight and he had been so damn nervous but James was beaming and Lily was beaming and everything had been right in the world that night.

The more he drank, the darker the memories became, though.  The first time James and Sirius fought side by side, having each other's backs while dueling Death Eaters in a back alley, narrowly avoiding Killing Curses and finally taking down and disarming their opponents; that was the first time either of them realized they couldn’t just fight like it was a formal duel at Hogwarts. Finding out Lily was pregnant and getting in a fight with James because his best mate was so wound up and scared, he needed an outlet. Learning about the prophecy that targeted all of his friends, either James and Lily for Harry or Frank and Alice for Neville, and then helping them move into hiding to protect their boys. Heated arguments with James about who was spying on them, wrongly accusing Remus for all the secrecy surrounding his assignments and feeling his grasp on everything he held dear start to slip away even as James yelled at him and called him a fucking moron for even considering the idea. The night they’d cast the Fidelius Charm and switched secret keepers in a bid to draw the heat onto himself while keeping Peter, and by proxy James and Lily, safe from suspicion. Saying goodbye to James that last time, a week before his murder, and promising to see him again to celebrate Sirius’s birthday; never getting the chance. Finding Peter’s safehouse empty and undisturbed, rushing to Godric’s Hollow and finding the house in ruins, stepping over James’s dead body in the living room to go upstairs, his only thought then for Harry and to get him out and then finding Hagrid holding him in the nursery, both crying, Lily dead on the floor; he’d begged to be given the boy, to take him to safety, but had been denied for Dumbledore’s orders.

“I think you’ve had enough, mate,” the barkeeper told Sirius when the man demanded another shot of firewhiskey. Sirius instead slid a galleon across the bartop and repeated his request, barely managing to keep the slur out of his voice. He was poured another shot as the man pocketed the coin.

Sirius downed it immediately and blinked at his friend beside him. He’d been there a while but so far, Sirius hadn’t addressed him. Now he did. “Why’d you have to f’ckin’ die?” he muttered. “What gave you… what gave you the right? To leave me all alone... F’ckin’ Pot’er.”

James didn’t answer, just stared past him with unseeing hazel eyes, his glasses slightly askew. Lily looked to be sleeping on his shoulder beside him but Harry was nowhere to be found. Sirius reached out to touch them but his hand went right through them and he stumbled off his barstool to slump against the bar. James and Lily just shifted out of his grasp.

“I shoulda be’n there… Shoulda be’n me,” Sirius muttered as he tried to make eye contact with the dead eyes. Everything was really blurry unless he focused real hard but then James disappeared and he didn’t want James to disappear. He wanted James to be there with him, to slap his cheek to sobreity and tell him it was all a fuckin’ bad bender and that he’d just passed out and slept away the night. 

“I trusted him, Pads,” James finally announced, his voice hollow.

“We all did,” Lily confirmed without opening her eyes.

“An’ look where that f’ckin got us!” Sirius snapped back, trying to sit up. His hand gripped the edge of the bar with white knuckles before he started laughing, a dark sound he’d made so many times before but never truly understood.

“Right, that’s enough,” the barkeeper announced, sliding some change across the bar rather than keeping the entire galleon for alcohol he clearly wasn’t willing to give to Sirius. “Time to go home, mate.”

“Home?” Sirius asked between his laughter. “Ain’t got a f’ckin’ home to go back to.”

“Well you can’t stay here. Now go on out,” the barkeeper insisted.

Sirius threw a clumsy hand gesture at him but got up and stumbled towards to door. James was standing there with Lily in his arms, staring into the distance with dead eyes. Sirius tried to walk towards them but his feet were uncooperative and he tripped over his own shoelace. Someone caught him before he fell to the floor.

“I’ve got you, Sirius,” a familiar voice said beside him but he couldn’t place who it was. His arm was thrown across the mysterious person’s shoulders and he was all but dragged out of the pub. James and Lily stayed in his peripherals but wouldn’t move back into focus.

The rush of cold air once they stepped outside brought with it a dark shadowy figure. It reached towards him with a scabbed hand and any happiness he had once felt was sapped away. He shrieked and tried to get away from the figure and the person holding him up, stumbling and falling on his ass. The dementor kept coming at him, leaning in closer to kiss him until he screamed and covered his head with his arms. If only he had his wand but they took it and snapped it in front of him while he watched. He hadn’t cared at the time. His friends were dead and his partner was nowhere to be found and he didn’t deserve Remus anyway because he’d thought the traitor was him. He’d given in to the rumors and the talk and all of the things he always told Remus to ignore when the topic of his curse came up. And it seemed to come up a lot lately. How could anyone ever forgive him for any of that? He was alone. Maybe he should let the dementor kiss him but he didn’t want to die. Fuck, he didn’t want to die!

Sirius scrambled to his feet and ran even though his mysterious benefactor yelled after him and gave chase. He had to get away from the dementor if he was ever going to get out of this alive. He made it about five steps before he stumbled and was caught by the person chasing after him. If they were trying to help, why didn’t they fight off the dementor? Or maybe it was a muggle who couldn’t even see it? They were both going to die and there was nothing Sirius could do.

James and Lily were beside him again, exactly as they were before. James was sitting this time, holding Lily, staring past him and the dementor with his skewed glasses. Lily was motionless across his lap, her head on his shoulder and her eyes closed. They were of no help and seemed to only be there to watch him die. He’d see them again for real if he did, but then what about Harry and Remus? They’d be left behind. But hell, they were already left behind. He was in Azkaban and would never see them again. What was the point? But he didn’t want to die! He was fine with suffering, he deserved suffering, but he did not want to die!

“Gon’ die!” he shrieked before giving in the futility of it all and laughing again. There was nothing left for him to do but just accept it and the cruel irony of his life as it was about to end.

“Sirius, no-one is going to die,” the voice of the person holding him up told him calmly.

“Can’ ev’n see it! Gon’ f’ck’n die!” Sirius reiterated between his laughter. It was all over.

“Listen to him, Pads,” James’s hollow voice told him.

“He’s not lying,” Lily agreed.

The dementor was inching ever closer, its scabbed hand extended beyond its cloak and the temperature around them both getting steadily colder. He was scared, so very scared. And he missed Lily and James. They were right there but he knew that they were dead. They must be ghosts haunting him. He reached out for them one last time and they finally looked at him. James had a fighting spirit in his eyes masking absolute horror. Lily had determination and love in hers with the same terror as James’s lurking behind. They both screamed and faded away and Sirius screamed with them before breaking free of the person holding him and running again. The familiar voice that he couldn’t quite place swore and then Sirius felt a bolt of magic hit him and the world went black.

Chapter Text

A quick cushioning spell caught Sirius’s limp form a few yards away. Remus wished it hadn’t come to stunning him but every time he tried to help or get through to him, Sirius just spouted nonsense or ran away screaming. There was something very wrong that Sirius had either kept well hidden or wasn’t even aware of to ask for help with. He’d seen Sirius drunk plenty of times. He became giggly or moody and either way, also became overly affectionate. What Remus saw tonight was not typical drunk Sirius and it terrified him. One thing was certain, Remus wasn’t letting him near any sort of alcohol ever again.

Carefully, he bundled Sirius into his arms and held him close as he walked back towards the passage to Hogwarts. The spell would keep him out cold at least long enough to get him to Madam Pomfrey and then they could figure out what to do to help him. The smell of firewhiskey was overpowering any other scent he associated with the man and Remus wondered just how much Sirius had drunk in the time it had taken to track him down.

“Cariad, what happened to you? I should have paid more attention… I’m so sorry…” Remus murmured to the man in his arms, more to calm his nerves than anything, as he walked at a brisk pace. He had to keep it together for Sirius’s sake, at least until he was safe and conscious again. 

As he got closer, Remus shifted Sirius slightly and slid his wand into his hand from where he had stowed it up his sleeve. He took a calming breath and cast his patronus, sending it ahead with notice that he was coming with Sirius to the Hospital Wing. He sent another to Harry to have him meet them there with Teddy. A shimmery stag that looked too much like James met him at the small side door to the castle to express his godson’s worry and questions that would have to wait until they could properly talk to answer.

There was a bed in a private room ready when Remus arrived. Reluctant to let Sirius out of his arms, Remus sat on the bed with him instead. Madam Pomfrey, used to this sort of behavior from him by this point, let him do it and immediately questioned him while looking over Sirius. “What happened?”

“He’s very intoxicated. I don’t know what or how much he drank. He was screaming and running away from me any time I tried to help him so I stunned him in order to get him back here as safely and quickly as possible,” Remus explained, his voice far calmer than he felt.

Madam Pomfrey frowned but nodded. She hurried out to return a moment later with a few potions in hand and Harry in tow with Teddy sleeping in his arms. Remus looked up at him and mirrored anxious green eyes met before Madam Pomfrey gave Remus directions.

“Hold him still. If he was trying to fight you when he was stunned, he may do the same upon being revived,” she directed. Then she looked to Teddy and Harry dubiously.

“One moment, Poppy,” Remus told her when he followed her gaze. He pointed his wand at his son and cast the muffling spell he and Sirius used to keep him calm in the Great Hall. Hopefully if Sirius screamed or started laughing maniacally again, it would prevent the noise from bothering the baby too much. Then he shifted to hold Sirius tighter to restrain him upon waking and gave the matron a nod.

“Rennervate,” Madam Pomfrey cast, her wand pointing to Sirius’s chest. Sirius gasped as his eyes snapped open, searching the room for something and settling on things that weren’t there before he grasped Remus’s arms around him.

“Sirius, drink this,” Madam Pomfrey instructed simply, holding a potion bottle close to his mouth. Wild grey eyes looked at her without properly focusing. He kept holding onto Remus but didn’t fight her as she held the bottle closer and coaxed him into drinking it.

“That won’t be pleasant but it will be better than leaving whatever you drank to settle in your stomach,” she told him as she placed the bottle on the bedside table and set a self-cleaning pot beside him on the bed. Sirius didn’t seem to process what she said but lost all color within a few seconds and threw up into it. Remus frowned and shifted to better support him, glad for the first time that Sirius’s hair hadn’t grown out to shoulder length yet despite the man’s complaints about disliking it being so short.

Madam Pomfrey looked to Remus and cast a glance to Harry as well. “When he has finished vomiting whatever toxins he consumed, I can do more for him. Until then, we can only wait.”

Remus only nodded while Harry settled into a chair looking uncomfortable. Neither of them said anything while Madam Pomfrey came and went to check on Sirius between other patients. Once the man settled into a pale, miserable heap in Remus’s arms, she gave him two other potions to strip the alcohol from his blood and to rehydrate him throughout the course of the treatment. Then he was shivering and clinging to Remus as the potion forcibly expelled the alcohol his body had already processed. He had zero interest in talking to anyone when it was all over and, given what all he had been through, Remus didn't push him. He seemed to want to hide and clung to Remus with his face hidden in his partner’s jacket. Madam Pomfrey returned to cast diagnostic spells on him and confirmed that he was physically fine now but then left him be after that to see if he’d fall asleep. When he didn’t, she offered him a sleeping draught instead, leaving it on the bedside table after checking him over one last time. She shared a look with Remus that suggested they needed to talk more about what had happened but left it alone for the time being. Remus had seen that look before, both concerning his own health and Harry’s.

“No more potions,” Sirius mumbled against Remus’s shoulder once she left. He sounded far more lucid than he had the last time he spoke outside the Three Broomsticks.

“You don’t have to drink it if you don’t want to,” Remus assured him.

“Don’t want to drink anything again,” Sirius answered.

“On that, we agree.”

Sirius groaned miserably and went quiet once more. Eventually, he settled into a light sleep and Remus was finally able to relax some. The smell of alcohol had long since faded on him and his own scent was finally coming back now that his body chemistry was stable once more. Remus shifted how he was holding him to a more comfortable position and looked over at Harry at long last. The young man was dozing with Teddy in his lap. The baby was still sleeping, thankfully. 

What an absolute mess their tiny little family was. The youngest of the adults, barely even qualifying for that status, was possibly the most stable of the lot of them while the oldest was far more broken by his past than Remus had ever imagined. Remus himself was not much better, all things considered. And that wasn’t even accounting for Harry’s issues following all of his trauma, issues he had been quiet about in the past month and a half no less. Teddy was the only one without problems, it seemed, and in his case only because he was too young to recognize the trauma of losing his mother.

Morning found Remus leaning on the pillows with Sirius on top of him and Harry asleep on a bed that had either been moved, transfigured or conjured into the room under the window. Madam Pomfrey must have done it some time in the night. Teddy was in a cot that had appeared through the same circumstances. It was the baby who woke him, attuned at this point to changes in the way Teddy was sleeping. Carefully, Remus disentangled himself from Sirius and settled the man on the pillows instead while he went to Teddy. He ran a hand over soft black hair and smiled faintly. Teddy opened groggy grey-blue eyes and blinked up at his father, eventually recognizing him and waving his arms to be picked up. Remus gladly obliged and hugged the little boy close, murmuring to him. “Bore da, fy machgen.”

“Don’t remember falling asleep,” Harry’s sleepy voice muttered behind him. Remus turned and offered his godson a small smile.

“Some time before Sirius,” he answered. “Are you alright?”

Harry rubbed his eyes and reached about blindly for his glasses. On failing to find them, he sighed and just cast a summoning charm instead. “Been better. But yeah, I’m alright, I guess.”

“Sorry for last night,” Remus told him with a small frown. He went to sit beside Harry once the young man sat up.

“Not like it was your fault.” Harry looked over at Sirius, still thankfully sleeping peacefully on the other bed. “I’ve been drunk before but that was something else…”

“I think he was seeing things,” Remus admitted quietly.

“That explains the way he was looking around at the walls at first,” Harry agreed. He paused before he went on. “Do you think… he’s okay now?”

“Merlin, I hope so. I hope it was just the alcohol causing the problem. I worry there is more to it, though…”

Harry watched Sirius a while before looking to Remus. “What if…” He frowned and started anew. “I remember meeting Neville’s parents. They were in that first picture. Alice and Frank Longbottom. They were at St. Mungo’s when we visited Mr. Weasley years ago, when that snake bit him.”

“I remember hearing you talk about that with your friends,” Remus replied softly, not willing to derail Harry’s train of thought despite where it made his own go.

Harry nodded. “Yeah… They… They weren’t sane, Remus. They were broken by what they went through. Alice recognized Neville somewhat, I think, and gave him sweet wrappers as gifts. She never looked at him properly or talked to him… Even though his grandmother told him to throw them away, he kept them all. I don’t know if they even realize who they are or what happened to them. I never asked Neville about it. It seemed too personal, you know?”

“I heard about what happened to them, not long after Voldemort fell the first time…” Remus looked at Sirius before looking back at Harry and giving him a small nod to indicate that he could go on with wherever this turn of conversation was going.

“Right… I guess you would have. You guys were obviously friends…” Harry looked to Sirius again and paused. “What if Sirius is broken too?”

Remus took a deep breath to calm his thoughts. He had a feeling that this was the direction Harry was going when he brought up Frank and Alice. And he was terrified by the way he’d had the very same thought. “I believe he is very broken,” he answered quietly. “He spent seventeen years surrounded by dementors with no escape or way to defend himself outside of transforming for brief stints. I noticed some changes in how he acts compared to before. He’s claustrophobic and more prone to panic attacks and nightmares but I erroneously thought that he had gotten off easy as that was all I saw. I believe his trauma has affected him far deeper than I ever imagined.”

“What if-” Harry was starting to sound panicked and Remus cut him off.

“He isn’t going to be put into St. Mungo’s to be forgotten. Whether he is still acting like he did last night or not, I won’t allow it,” Remus assured his godson. He reached his free hand out to set on Harry’s shoulder and offered him a determined smile. Even if Sirius was never the same again and he had to care for him in the same way he cared for his son, Remus would not let anyone take him away again. He’d been locked away long enough. He didn’t deserve that again, no matter the circumstances.

Harry seemed to relax somewhat and took a calming breath after a moment, much as Remus had taught him to do years ago. They both watched over Sirius as he slept until Teddy started fussing for something to eat. Harry offered to take him back to the suite for his bottle but Remus turned him down, opting to care for his son himself and leave Sirius with Harry until he came back. He felt like he owed Teddy that.

Chapter Text

It was light when Sirius woke up and, surprisingly, he was in a bed rather than on a cold stone floor. It was warm, too. And there was a faint smell of medicinal potions and herbs rather than dirt and excrement. He even felt clean and he'd woken up on his own rather than to a dementor trying to feast on his dreams. Speaking of, where were the dementors? What the fuck was going on?

"Are you awake, Sirius?" asked a voice nearby. Sirius looked around and found the source, a young man sitting on a bed under the window. He blinked and did a double take. James? No, couldn't be. This young man had the wrong glasses and his eyes… His eyes were green like Lily's. He had Lily's eyes. Harry? Was that Harry all grown up?

"How do you feel?" the young man asked, getting up and walking closer to him. Sirius watched him, blinking slowly.

"Confused…" His voice sounded raw and his throat was aching. Hell, his whole body was aching.

"Maybe I should get Madam Pomfrey," the kid who seemed to be Harry suggested, looking worried. Pomfrey? How the hell was Pomfrey here? Come to think of it, where was here and why was grown-up Harry with him?

Harry made to leave the room and Sirius suddenly felt terrified at the prospect of being left alone. He'd been alone for too long and didn't want to lose the only company he had, mysterious as it was. He reached out and grabbed the young man's arm. "Don't go."

"Alright. Alright. I won't go." Harry offered him a small smile as if trying to soothe him and Sirius guessed he had come across as more desperate than he had intended. "We'll wait until she comes in on her own, how about that?"

Sirius gave a weak smile in response and looked around the room properly now he was more awake. He wracked his brain for any explanation as to what was going on. Vague recollections of last night came to him in time, seeing the pictures of his friends and then hearing James's voice. He drank far too much, alone, and then what? He saw things that scared him and then someone helped him. He was… stunned… Right? Right. And then he threw up. He threw up a lot and then fell asleep with someone. Was it Harry he slept beside? He didn't think so but maybe? No-one else was there… Remus! He was with Remus. So where was Remus? Sirius looked around the room, trying to find the man and failing. His face fell. For some reason, Remus was gone. Maybe he couldn’t handle being with Sirius any longer. Sirius wouldn’t blame him. Who would want to be with someone who couldn’t make sense of the world around them? And that was the thing. Sirius knew that he wasn’t making a lot of sense. He knew that the things he had seen weren’t real even if he couldn’t remember most of them now. But he’d reacted to them anyway. Who would put up with that?

Sirius dropped Harry’s arm. “Go.”

“What?”

“Go. You don’t have to stay.” Sirius wouldn’t look at his godson. He still wasn’t sure how the young man was so grown up but that was a problem for a later time. He didn’t want to force Harry to stay if Remus had already left, unable to bring himself to be with him.

“No way.” Harry instead sat on the bed beside him.

Sirius didn’t argue but refused to make eye contact on engage in further conversation. He closed his eyes and tried to ignore the images of the young man’s parents that came to mind. It was difficult when they were happy and playing and calling to him with a bouncy baby boy between them. Harry looked so much like James. 

A soft hand on his cheek roused him from his thoughts. Anxious grey met concerned green and a gentle, inquiring smile. “You’re safe, Sirius.”

Sirius just stared at Remus, taking in the way he looked and the expression on his face. He should have been younger, his hair darker, his face smoother. But his eyes… His eyes were the same as they ever were and he couldn’t understand the way they were so full of understanding and affection. The last time he’d seen them, they’d been angry at him for an argument he couldn’t even recall.

Slowly, Sirius realized that there were other people in the room with them. Madam Pomfrey, looking older than he remembered as well, was standing on the opposite side of the bed from Remus with a concerned frown on her face and Harry was holding a baby that was somehow had teal hair. Something was very wrong. He’d lost time. He’d lost a lot of time. But how?

“Harry said you were feeling confused,” Remus told him. Sirius just nodded faintly and put his focus back on the man sitting at his side. “Do you know who we are?”

“Yeah.” When Remus nodded as if he wanted Sirius to go on, he sighed and went on. “You’re Remus, that’s Madam Pomfrey, and Harry’s holding a baby.”

Remus glanced to the baby in question and then back at Sirius. “Do you know where we are?”

“Not a clue but it clearly isn’t Azkaban.” Sirius frowned but couldn’t bring himself to look away. Remus just nodded and smiled at him.

“What’s the date?” he continued.

That was a marvelous question. Last time he’d seen Remus it had been early October 1981. The last time he looked at a calendar, the one on their fridge, it was October 30. But that wasn’t right. He knew damn well that wasn’t right because he’d been in Azkaban for fuck knows how long and everyone around him was way older than they should be. He looked at the others in the room and settled on the little boy who was staring at him. Sirius knew that kid but had a hard time placing how. As he watched, the baby’s hair changed from teal to black and he reached out towards the bed. Sirius’s eyes went wide as he made eye contact with tiny grey-blue eyes shaped like Remus’s. Teddy Lupin. The baby was Moony’s kid. His kid now, too. 

“September 12, 1998,” Sirius whispered. “No… The 13th.” He looked again at Remus. “We’re at Hogwarts, presumably the Hospital Wing, because I’m a fucking moron and got pissed last night…”

Remus waved Harry over and took Teddy to settle him on Sirius’s chest. “Right,” he agreed with that same gentle smile. “How are you feeling?”

“Like a right prat,” Sirius answered, hugging Teddy while the baby gripped his shirt. 

“Nothing new there,” Remus answered with a straight face. It cracked into a smile again before he continued. “Other than that?”

“Tosser… I’m alright, I suppose… Everything hurts but after how much I drank, I’m surprised I don’t feel worse.” Sirius closed his eyes and began to relax the longer he held the little boy in his arms. Remus was touching him again too so that helped as well.

“That would be the side effects of the detoxification potions, I’m afraid,” Madam Pomfrey announced. Well, that explained the flashes of feeling like absolute shit last night. He knew full well how those worked and had administered them a few times himself. He must have drunk way more than he realized. “The best thing you can do right now is rest now that it appears that you are fully lucid again.”

“Of course,” Sirius agreed softly. Remus nudged him for his tone but he didn’t complain.

“Thank you, Poppy. Can we take him back to our quarters?” Remus asked.

“Go ahead. Just make sure to come back if there are problems.”

“Understood.”

There was a shuffle of footsteps and then the door creaking slightly and settling closed once more. Sirius felt Remus guide him to sit up and opened his eyes again. Between him and Harry, they helped Sirius back to the suite where he proceeded to spend most of the day sleeping off a headache and the general feeling that he was laying on needles no matter how he adjusted himself in bed. Remus checked on him repeatedly, sitting with him and offering water at times and other times just touching his hair and lulling him back to sleep. Harry left at some point while he was asleep and Sirius felt bad that his visit had ended on the note it had. He vowed to make it up to him somehow.

Chapter Text

Remus spent a fair portion of the next morning laying on the bed with Teddy on his chest. The little boy had woken early, wanted something to eat, and then decided that snuggles were the way he wanted to spend his time. Remus had obliged and, given Sirius was still sleeping, settled beside him while holding his little boy. Teddy’s hair had gone tawny blonde to match his father and he was perfectly content gripping Remus’s sleep shirt in tiny fingers. Remus told him stories he had learned as a child despite the the baby obviously being too young to comprehend.

“Aren’t you going to finish the story?” Sirius’s soft voice asked from beside him.

“I doubt Teddy needs to know how the brothers got into a fight and one killed the other,” Remus answered, glancing over. He hadn’t realized that Sirius was awake.

“That’s just because your namesake is the one that dies,” Sirius replied with a sleepy smirk.

Remus rolled his eyes. “No, it’s because it’s not relevant to the point of the story I was telling.”

“Whatever you say, Re.” Sirius yawned behind his hand and then peered over at him. There was something sweet in the smile he gave but Remus couldn’t quite place what it was.

“How did you sleep?”

Sirius shrugged. “Could have been better. Waking up listening to you helped, I think,” he admitted with a sigh. He’d been waking with nightmares most of the night and Remus had often woken with a start to find him either clinging or yelling, usually both.

“Mmm, you do seem calmer than you have been.” Remus returned the smile. “Do you want to talk about any of it?”

“No,” came the simple reply. He’d said that every time and Remus left it be for now. He hoped Sirius would eventually come to him for help but also recognized that he was unlikely to. He’d never been one to ask for help when they were younger either. Remus just knew what to look for now so he could give it to him regardless of whether it was solicited. He hated that it had come to a head in the way it had for him to realize that, though.

“Take a shower and then we can go and get something to eat,” Remus suggested instead. If nothing else, it would wake Sirius up some and then he might be more willing to talk. He knew he was kidding himself but he could hope that at least by the end of the day, he’d open up some.

Sirius gave a noncommittal sound, something between a groan and a sigh, and then sat up and padded out of the room to do as he was told. Remus heard the water running soon after despite the door not clicking closed. It seemed habit at this point for Sirius to leave it open whenever possible and Remus had just gotten used to it and made a point to avoid the bathroom at those times. It would prove interesting once Teddy was old enough to be mobile but perhaps baby gates could be employed if Sirius still had issues with closing doors by then.

Breakfast brought a surprising change of attitude concerning Remus. There were several who were still holding to their standoffish behavior but there were also several who seemed to be experiencing a change of heart after Harry’s weekend visit. It was honestly the only thing Remus could attribute to the difference. It was also all most of the school could talk about. His younger students, especially the Gryffindors, were more interested in what he knew about Harry than him being a werewolf for the time being. It made for a nice change, if feeling a little like deja vu; at least the talk about Harry was positive now rather than largely negative.

Sirius seemed more like himself again as well, which was good since taking Teddy to class with him had been thrown around as an idea but wasn’t something Remus really felt comfortable doing. His partner had been glad to watch over the boy, though, and Remus made a point of going back to his office during planning periods rather than staying in the classroom just so he could check up on the man. Sirius still steadfastly refused to talk about whatever had happened, though, but Remus kept an eye on him, regardless, closer than he had been before the weekend.

The rest of the week went much the same. Sirius was sleeping better by the next weekend and the buzz about Harry settled down soon after. With the calmer, albeit largely distracted, attitude regarding his affliction and Sirius's insistence that he check all mail before Remus got his hands on it, Remus was able to finish most of the lessons he'd planned to frame lycanthropy in a better light and had been able to begin to move on to other topics with his classes. He was finally settling into the rhythm of things by the time the next full moon was approaching and with it came some welcome news. 

Mason had agreed to come to the school despite all of his other contacts either voicing concerns and refusing or just ignoring his letters all together without reply. Remus had gladly sent letters back and forth for a few days to schedule a time and organize lodging for the young man. They decided on the second week of October, after the moon, to allow for time to recover as well as time to plan together how he could address the students. Over the course of two days, the plan was for Mason to talk to every class about his life both before and after becoming a werewolf and then letting them ask questions, which Remus hoped by now would be fueled more by curiosity rather than bigotry.

Remus sat with his young guest speaker in his classroom on a Wednesday morning awaiting the fourth year Slytherin and Gryffindor class, his toughest class of all of them. They had stopped skipping class with the increasingly high cost of house points but several were still reluctant to fully engage with him. If Mason could get through speaking to these kids, though, he would easily be able to handle the others.

“I can’t believe you have a kid, Remus!” Mason commented, having just arrived at Hogwarts for breakfast and met Teddy at the staff table. 

Remus shook his head. “Neither can I, most days,” he admitted. He smiled warmly at the thought of his son. Teddy had seemed confused by the young man at first but had taken a liking to him. Sirius had disappeared back to their suite after the meal, giving Mason a small, tight smile that Remus intended to ask him about later.

“And he didn’t inherit your lycanthropy?”

“He does not seem to have but he’s also still very young… He still might when his magic fully manifests.” Remus frowned at the thought and hoped that he wouldn’t ever have to deal with that eventuality but knew he still had a few years to wait with bated breath.

Mason looked around the room and then smiled. “And you’re teaching again, wow… I mean, the war was shit, but you seem to still have a semblance of a normal life despite everything.”

Remus regarded Mason with a flat expression. “I doubt anyone would call my life normal.”

Mason shrugged. “Still better than what most of us are doing. What you’re trying to do here is pretty cool.”

“I just hope it works,” Remus answered, turning to lean on his desk as he heard the door behind him. He offered a smile to the first few students trickling in. Some waved at him or acknowledged him with a nod though several kept their eyes averted and sat in the back of the room as far from their teacher as possible.

“Is it always like this?” Mason asked quietly, leaning close.

“Yes, unfortunately. The other groups are better about it than this particular class,” Remus explained, keeping the calm smile on his face for his students. Mason made a disgruntled sound beside him but said nothing more as the rest of the class came in and found their seats. Only a few seemed genuinely pleased to be there.

“Good morning,” Remus called to them once they were settled. A few lifted their hands to make small waves and a few actually answered him. Most stayed quiet, either ignoring him or just watching him. Remus pushed on with a smile.

“Today, I have a guest speaker for you. This is Mason Fairweather, a friend of mine. He is here to bring our lessons about werewolves to a close,” Remus explained, gesturing fondly to Mason beside him. The young man gave a wave and a nervous smile.

“What does he know about it?” the same Gryffindor boy who had been leading the grief this class had been causing for Remus since the first day of classes. His name was Torben Strauss. In an ironic miracle, even the more outspoken Slytherins seemed to rally behind the boy in a show of house unity.

Mason stepped forward to answer while Remus just smiled serenely as if the boy didn’t bother him at all. “A fair bit actually, considering I am one.”

Several of the girls looked mortified at hearing this and Remus almost laughed. They’d been trying to get Mason to catch their eyes since they came in and now didn’t quite know what to do with themselves.

“Professor Lupin asked me here to talk about how we live outside of the relative safety of Hogwarts. He might have to put up with you lot giving him the stink eye but it’s a heck of a lot worse for us outside of educated society. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve been kicked out of my home or sacked since December 1995?” Mason opened a hand to the class for guesses; none were forthcoming. 

“I’ve had eight jobs in three years and I’ve been evicted seventeen times.” A few of the kids looked to be doing some quick math in their heads and then eyes went wide.

“That’s every two months…” a shocked voice whispered.

“Just about. I’ve been homeless about five times. Some landlords let me stay longer until people start complaining. I once kept a place for a week before I was kicked out. A full moon happened in the middle of that week.” Mason amazingly looked calm while explaining all of this. Remus forced his own expression to stay calm. He’d lived that very same thing but to hear it out loud and in the voice of a friend he’d barely maintained contact with was heartbreaking. He wished, not for the first time, that he’d been a better friend. Everyone, even Torben, was speechless.

Mason spent the rest of class detailing how he’d met Remus and the way his life had changed from that of a novice sports journalist to a destitute vagabond. He explained the horrors of the war, of the propaganda spreading among the werewolf pack he had become a part of, the rising hatred against his kind, the anti-werewolf legislation that lead to people being detained and tortured for information in the name of the greater good. He’d lost friends and family to his condition and better friends to the war. When he was done, the silence that had fallen over the group remained for a long minute before a soft-spoken girl in green raised her hand.

“Go ahead, Rebecca,” Remus acknowledged her calmly, having taken the moment to find his voice and reign in his emotions. He’d never heard Mason’s story in full.

“Well, um, Mr. Fairweather, sir… If you don’t mind my asking… How were you attacked?” the girl asked, frowning as she said the words. She seemed aware that it was a distasteful question but Mason had offered to answer anything they wanted to know.

Mason took a deep breath and then offered her a smile. “You remember how I said I was a sports journalist?”

Rebecca nodded.

“I was on assignment with the Tutshill Tornadoes. They were leading the league in ‘95 and I was reporting on their training regimen. One night I went for a walk in the woods around the town. It was a full moon and I didn’t pay it any mind. I wandered too deep and didn’t realize I was being stalked until I was caught. I had my wand on me so I cast whatever came to mind, I don’t even remember now, and disapparated into the middle of town. Someone found me and took me to St. Mungo’s. I later found out a woman named Sophia attacked me. She was about my age. Her boyfriend told me she killed herself afterwards because she had never intended to do so and had thought she was deep enough in the woods to be safe.” Mason frowned and then rolled up the sleeve of his robe to show a deep bite scar on his upper arm. There were gasps around the room and several covered their mouths.

“Does it still hurt?” Rebecca asked sheepishly in little more than a whisper.

“Sometimes, yeah…” Mason shrugged and let his sleeve fall back down.

“What about you, Professor?” Torben called out, the typical edge to his voice gone even though he had neglected to raise his hand.

Remus looked at the boy and then answered very quietly, his voice devoid of emotion. “I was four years old when Fenrir Greyback broke into my bedroom to spite my father and dragged me out of my bed. My parents fought him off. I don’t remember much time before I was a werewolf.”

Remus didn’t bother to chastise those who chose more colorful language in reaction to his story.

“Merlin…”

“Four? You were four?!”

“Oh my god!”

“No way…”

“You were just a kid…”

“Shit!”

Mason looked at him, just as surprised as his students to learn that. He was the one that put an end to the shocked whispers that had broken out. He addressed the students and held up a hand to quiet them. “Do you see now what Professor Lupin is trying to do? Werewolves are victims of brutal attacks. None of us asked for our fate. Most of us do everything we can to prevent hurting others. We live in fear for our lives and the lives of those we might accidentally harm. Do you really think a four year old is evil or wanted to be cursed for his entire life?” He waited a moment to let that sink in. Many shook their heads and murmured negative responses. 

“Change starts here, in this castle, with education and open minded consideration of the facts and the evidence presented. Don’t perpetuate the same mindless hatred that put us in this position. Change starts with you.”

Chapter Text

Sirius glanced up from where he was laying when Remus came into the room. Teddy was playing on the floor beside him and Sirius was messing with his CD player on his chest. He’d gotten it working all but powered and the batteries were still being stubborn surrounded by so much magic. As it was, he was perfectly fine to lay there with his headphones on and his wand tip giving it the energy it needed to function. At present, Let’s Dance was playing and he was beginning to learn the words. Released in 1983, it was one of the ones he hadn’t heard until Remus bought him the album in Cardiff.

“Is it working?” Remus asked as he went to sit on the couch beside where he was laying. 

Sirius started singing along in response. “Let's sway / You could look into my eyes / Let's sway / Under the moonlight, this serious moonlight.”

Remus smiled at him and then scooped Teddy up to greet the little boy. “And how are you, fy machgen?” Teddy babbled at him and grinned while waving his arms. He’d started doing that more lately and Sirius was starting to wonder when he’d actually manage to form a real word in his babytalk. He caught himself smiling around the lyrics when Remus’s face lit up in response to his son. He heard Remus continuing to talk to the boy over his music, almost sounding as if he was having a conversation despite Teddy just babbling nonsense in response to the questions and comments. Sirius had never thought he’d have seen and heard that again after watching him with Harry so long ago.

Sirius set his wand aside when the song ended and then removed his headphones. He watched Teddy and Remus a little while longer before the conversation devolved into tickling and giggling. Then he reached up to touch Remus’s calf near his head on a whim, drawing the man’s attention. Remus looked down at him, his eyes still bright and his lips still turned up in a grin for the little boy who was now settling in his lap. Sirius smiled up at him in response.

“Are you alright?” Remus asked.

Sirius nodded and absently rubbed his hand up and down Remus’s leg.

“What were you up to this afternoon?”

It was the same small talk that had accompanied Remus’s almost panicked obsession with checking on him after that disastrous night of looking at the photo album; they hadn’t touched it since. If Sirius was honest, it was starting to get annoying. “Not much. Holed up in here with Teddy and a broken CD player doesn’t leave a lot to really do, does it?”

Remus’s smile dropped. “No, I don’t suppose it does.” He averted his eyes and Sirius immediately felt bad for the way he’d snapped. He kept rubbing the man’s leg and sighed softly.

“Sorry… I’m okay. I know you’re just worried. But I’m fine.”

Remus looked like he wanted to say more but decided against it. Instead, he changed the subject. “Are you ready to get something to eat?”

“Yeah… Let me go slip a robe on and I’ll be ready.” Sirius ran his hand up Remus’s leg one last time before setting the CD player off of his chest and sitting up. He snagged Teddy once he got up. “I’ll get this little man ready too. I doubt anyone wants to see him in a t-shirt and a nappy.”

Remus quirked an amused smirk and shook his head. “Well, I imagine some of the girls might, but no. Clothes are typically appreciated in the Great Hall.”

Sirius laughed and left the room with Teddy babbling in his arms. “Quite the talker, aren’t ya? At least you grew out of that weird habit of sticking people’s hands in your mouth.”

As if to prove him wrong, Teddy tried to bring the hand holding him to his lips. Sirius just rolled his eyes at him and went into the bedroom to get them both changed. He talked to the boy as he dressed him, Teddy babbling right back at him during pauses just as he had with Remus. A game of peek-a-boo with his robes caused a giggling fit, especially when Sirius leaned down to blow a raspberry on his belly. Remus was in the doorway when he looked up, a warm smile on his face as he watched them both.

“You really are great with him,” Remus commented as Sirius grinned at him and got Teddy properly ready.

“Of course. He’s my Mini-Moony.”

Remus only smiled wider and lead the way out of the suite to the Great Hall. Sirius kept grinning until he saw Mason sitting at the table already. He didn’t know why it bothered him that Remus had friends outside of the Marauders and the Order, people that Sirius hadn’t met and had no chance of ever having met. This kid was young enough to have been little more than a toddler in 1981 when his life ended. And perhaps that was just it. That Remus knew Mason and had formed a relationship with him was just a slap in the face and a stark reminder that Sirius had lost seventeen years and that he would never get them back. Almost half of his life had been spent in Azkaban and for some reason, seeing Mason interact with Remus, who was a different man now than he’d known before even though he was the same in so many ways, really fucking hurt.

Mason lifted a hand to wave when he noticed them enter. He’d been chatting with Flitwick who also greeted them with a friendly wave. Remus returned it and crossed the hall to sit with them. Sirius followed, plastering a smile onto his face that did not reach his eyes. The way that Remus looked at him through the meal told him that he’d noticed and that there would be a conversation about it lately. Sirius didn’t care. He was just working to keep from saying something spiteful to the young man who had honestly done nothing to deserve his ire outside of knowing Remus during his absence. He was being a jealous prick and he knew it. There just wasn’t anything he could do about it other than hide behind his smile.

True to his prediction, as soon as they were back in the suite and Teddy had been put to bed, Remus confronted him. He was sitting against the arm of the couch with his chin on his hand, glaring a moody hole into the wall ahead of him since he’d known this was coming.

“What’s going on, Sirius?” Remus’s voice was calmer than Sirius had expected it to be. He felt him sit down beside him. He was close enough to touch but neither made a move to do so yet.

“Nothing is going on,” Sirius answered in a low voice.

“That’s a lie and you know it.”

Yeah, yeah it was. But how was he supposed to voice what was really going through his head when he knew damn well that it was stupid and Remus would only get mad at him for it? He instead opted for silence.

A gentle hand settled on his thigh after a while. “Please talk to me, Pads.”

Sirius turned to look at him. Those beautiful green eyes were searching for something and, typical Remus, looked as if they wanted to fix everything without even knowing what everything was. Also typical Remus, they looked like somehow he had put the blame onto himself. How the fuck did he even do that? Sirius was feeling like shit and somehow that was Remus’s problem? Somehow he had caused it?

“I’m fine,” Sirius lied.

“No, you’re not. And it has taken me far too long to realize that. You haven’t been fine at all in the past two and a half months,” Remus countered.

Sirius didn’t know how to reply to that. He’d been called out and, while looking at Remus, he couldn’t deny it. He just stared at him while his mind raced and was absently confused when his vision began to blur. What could he even say to make any of this make sense? Suddenly, Sirius found himself pulled against Remus’s chest and he could do nothing but hold on for dear life as the emotions he’d been locking behind his smile for weeks came tumbling out in white hot tears. Strong arms held him close, a hand teasing through his too-short hair while the other rubbed his back. Words spilled out between sobs and Remus just listened to it all without judgement. He was frustrated with the lost time and how he felt like he was always playing catch up for seventeen years worth of changes to the world without him. He felt like he barely even knew Remus anymore and he hated how very little he knew Harry. He was jealous of Mason for having known Remus in the time he’d been gone. He was hurt that Remus had managed to move on and find love with Dora, his cousin no-less, and that he’d even started a family with her when he had refused so many times to even consider the idea with Sirius. He was surrounded by reminders of those he’d lost by being back at Hogwarts. Everywhere he looked and everywhere he went, it brought back memories of happier times and while he liked remembering James and Lily and Remus and even Peter enjoying themselves with Marlene and Mary and Frank and Alice, he hated that all of them were gone now but for Remus who just kept holding him and listening to him unload. He was tired all of the time for the nightmares that kept him awake and he was in an almost constant state of fear that he’d see James again the way he’d seen him in Hogsmeade. He was angry at himself for being so prone to panic and his claustrophobia pissed him off as much as it brought him to irrational terror. As the weather was getting colder, waking up in the dark with a light chill in the air broke him out into a sweat with the thought of dementors coming to kiss him until Remus soothed him back to sleep. He hated how dependent he was on the man to keep a handle on his sanity. It sometimes felt like he was back in Azkaban again when he first woke up in the night. And then he remembered James and Lily and how much he fucking missed them. He’d never gotten to say goodbye and the memory of their bodies dead on the floor of their own home that night while their son screamed in the darkness was the last thing he had to remember them by and it was etched into his mind like an epitaph on a gravestone. It was his fault for trusting Peter and he missed them. He missed them so fucking much!

Remus was quiet for a long time when Sirius finally cried himself. He just kept holding him, still playing with his hair and rubbing his back soothingly. His voice was very soft and very calm when he didn’t finally speak. “I’m not going to tell you it’s okay because it’s not… But that’s okay, too. You don’t have to be okay.”

Sirius almost started crying again at hearing those words.

“You’re not alone anymore. I know now how hard this has all been on you. I’m sorry I didn’t realize sooner.” Remus took a deep breath and Sirius felt his lips on his temple. The next words were muffled somewhat against his hair and he could feel the man’s mouth moving ever so slightly.

“It’s not the same and I don’t expect it to settle everything you’re feeling but… Maybe you could get some closure by visiting their grave. I haven’t been since… since the funeral and I was thinking of maybe going this year.”

Sirius thought he’d cried all his tears but he nodded against Remus’s shoulder as they started to flow again. He was vaguely aware of Remus’s breath catching before he started sobbing again.

Chapter Text

Though he had dealt with midweek moons both before Wolfsbane Potion was invented and since becoming a teacher, Remus had never been so exhausted as he was the next day. It had easily been four in the morning by the time Sirius had cried himself into a final silence. Remus never knew what to say in those situations so he had just reassured him that he wasn’t alone and kept holding him until he fell asleep. Then he’d carried him to bed and they’d both crashed in their clothes, Sirius clinging to him even in slumber. Remus had almost thrown the alarm across the room when it went off and had only forced himself up to get ready for the morning because the ringing woke Teddy and a crying baby was far harder to ignore; Sirius managed it, though. Remus let him sleep while he got Teddy settled and went to shower in the hopes it would wake him. He only woke Sirius to get him to eat something he’d requested from the kitchens, really not feeling like facing the Great Hall this morning and suspecting Sirius had no real desire to be seen either. Once he got Teddy back to sleep, he left Sirius napping and joined Mason for what he hoped would be as productive a day as the day before, even if he was pasting a smile on his face to hide just how tired he was.

By the time he got back to Sirius that night, he was drained beyond reason. He immediately crashed on the couch and murmured a muffled hello into a pillow, earning a small laugh from his partner who then busied himself with gently getting Remus, largely immobile by then, out of his robes to somewhat more comfortable attire of just his pants and shirt before throwing a blanket over him and letting him nap away the rest of the afternoon. He woke up later to reheated food Sirius had snagged from the kitchen and an already bathed and changed Teddy wanting some snuggles and bedtime stories from his tada before bed.

The week finished out fairly well and the success of having Mason come and talk to his students carried on into the next. He was glad to finally be moving past the lycanthropy lessons. With Halloween approaching, he felt like teaching the older classes the Patronus Charm seemed rather fitting. His mood was plummeting by the day, as it did every year, so focusing on the happy memories to work on the theory and practice of the spell would surely help. Though an advanced spell, Harry had proven that younger students were able to cast it and it made sense to teach them all how to defend themselves properly. Chances of ever meeting a dementor were slim now that they’d been removed from Azkaban but their uses in communication were very beneficial and reason enough to teach the spell as young as third year. Spending a couple of weeks on it seemed a good use of his time, even if he had an ulterior motive to try and improve his own mood by doing so.

The last class of the day on October 30 was the seventh/eighth year group and Remus could not be happier for that fact. He’d had to teach the fourth years that morning and while better than they had been by far, Torben still tried to push buttons, especially since he had yet to be successful with casting little more than a wisp of silver smoke. The oldest students had the advantage of most of them already knowing the basics of the charm and many had gladly shown off their patronuses the first day and many more had managed it in the days since. They were working in groups to send messages across the room to each other while Remus worked with the last few who hadn’t managed a corporeal patronus just yet. Their theory was solid but they had only managed wispy conjurings.

Theodore sat atop his desk with his arms folded, a frustrated frown on his face. It was rare since the young man was usually so laid back. Dean was standing beside him looking determined and focused more on Seamus than anything. The sandy-haired young man was happily casting his silver fox about the room where it bounced among the other animals to find its recipient on the other wall.

“Focus,” Remus reminded him with a tap on the head. Dean gave him a sheepish smile and turned his attention back to the group, about five of them all together.

“Perhaps if you told us what you focus on, sir, it might be a little easier. I have to say, I have very little happy memories to really pull from,” Theodore complained.

“My happy memory is irrelevant and none of you can relate to it anyhow seeing as none of you are parents,” Remus answered with a friendly smile.

Theodore groaned and closed his eyes before trying to cast the spell again. “Expecto patronum!” A wisp of silver poured from his wand but did not establish itself beyond making a ball.

The others took another stab at it and Dean gave a great cheer when his cloud shifted into a weak animalistic shape with huge ears relative to its tiny body and a fluffy tail.

“Well done, Dean. If I’m not mistaken, I think that may be a fennec fox. Give it another go and see if you can get it to take stronger form,” Remus congratulated.

“Merlin damnit,” Theodore muttered as he let his noncorporeal patronus fade. 

Dean moved off to practice further now that he’d managed to make it take shape. He couldn’t stop grinning and predictably moved off towards Seamus to show him. Remus watched him go and then looked back to the four he still had with him. A bit more practice had all but Theodore and Susan able to cast the charm. Theodore was getting more and more angry with himself and Susan, while frustrated, seemed to have adopted an air of compassion for her fellow eighth year.

“Hey, I know it’s hard, Theo. I’m having trouble picking out a good memory too after everything… But we’ll get this, right?” Susan gave him a warm smile.

Theodore looked as if he’d just been slapped upside the head for no decent reason and stared at Susan with wide eyes. Remus kept a straight face as he watched the interaction, curious to see how it would play out.

“What did you call me?” he asked softly.

“Oh, sorry!” Susan put her hands to her mouth and stared at him with equally wide eyes. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I just… Sorry, I give my friends nicknames without thinking about it. I won’t call you Theo if you’d prefer I call you by your full name.”

“We’re not friends are we?” Theodore asked, still staring.

“Well… Aren’t we? Maybe not…” Susan averted her eyes.

“Do you think we are?” Theodore insisted.

“Well, yes... “

Theodore settled and gave a tiny smile that Susan didn’t see. “Expecto patronum!”

The silver mist spilled from the tip of his wand but then coalesced into a small shape with talons and smooth feathers. Bright eyes turned to stare at him before it mimed cawing at him.

“You did it! You did it, Theo!” Susan literally jumped for joy before realizing what she’d said. “Oh, I’m sorry. Theodore. You did it, Theodore!” 

“You can call me Theo if you want to,” he told her quietly. He was smiling now after having been frowning for the better part of two hours. He watched as his crow patronus took to flying around him before it faded.

Remus folded his arms and sat back against the desk he was standing beside. Theodore and Susan took to coaching each other through the rest of the class and she was able to cast the charm into a corporeal form by the end. Her little butterfly joined the assortment of silvery animals flitting around the classroom. Laughter echoed from the walls and the high ceiling and every single one of the thirty-eight young faces in the room was lit up in a wide smile. Giving in to his gratefully lifted mood, Remus opted not to give them homework over Halloween weekend. He’d needed this.

Chapter Text

Feelings were always hard to deal with for Sirius. While Remus was a master at holding everything in and somehow internalizing everything to be his fault, Sirius never really knew what to do with himself when he was emotional. Usually it was a ritual of exploding, buggering off to find his head, coming back to Remus once he wasn’t so wound up and then pretending nothing had ever happened. He seldom talked deeply about what was bothering him and it had lead to more than a few fights over the years. Rarely did he ever completely break down and spill his thoughts like he had that night after Mason showed up. He’d only ever done it twice that he could remember before that, when he’d met the little girl who had been bitten and when he’d learned that Regulus had died. Even when he’d gotten disowned by his family, he never broke down, he’d just made a complete asshole of himself and almost destroyed the only person in the world who mattered more than life itself for his own stupidity and refusal to ask for help like a healthy human being. Otherwise, things that caused him distress would just make him moody until he got distracted or whatever it was blew over. Being close to Remus usually helped in that regard at least.

In the lead up to Halloween, Remus being around was not always an option. Instead, Teddy was there. If nothing else could get him out of bed on the days when he felt particularly sorry for himself, the little boy that needed his attention was a surefire way to do it. On most days, Sirius was fine. He was up and about and working on his CD player or caring for Teddy and playing with him as they both waited to see Remus between classes and at the end of the day. Those days, Sirius was able to smile and enjoy the baby’s company as much as he ever did. Teddy was giving him real smiles and real laughs and actively recognized him. He loved to babble along with whatever Sirius said to him and played along with the silly games he came up with. There were other days, though, when Sirius found it hard to smile and got caught up in his head after finally acknowledging everything he was going through. Those days, Teddy was the only thing abating the fear of seeing dementors around corners or his friends watching him with dead eyes. When Teddy needed to eat, Sirius would eat as well. When Teddy needed to nap, Sirius was glad to join him. When Teddy needed a bath, Sirius just took him in the shower with him and washed them both. It kept him going when Remus couldn’t be there to prod or comfort him. He was just glad that most of the days in those two and a half weeks were leaning more towards the functional end of the scale when he could truly find things to be happy for rather than the miserable push to find a reason to take care of himself.

Unfortunately, October 30 made for a long day without Remus. Sirius could tell that Remus was flagging as well and that just made it so much harder to deal with the downward spiral he had found himself on. Breakfast had been quiet and confined to their quarters since neither of them could stomach the blatant decorations in the Great Hall. Teddy had been fussy all day because he was teething and had been for a while now. As such, he hadn’t slept well and that, in turn, meant neither Remus nor Sirius slept well either. Sirius spent most of the day napping with the little boy when he was willing and had, at one point, gotten so mad at his CD player for still not working that it was now sitting in pieces on the table. That just made him feel even worse. By the time Remus came back from teaching, wearing a smile for the first time in days, Sirius just couldn’t handle it anymore. He thrust Teddy at his father and then stalked off to sulk in the bedroom, leaving Remus looking bewildered in the doorway of their suite. Facedown on the bed, he heard Remus start to move about and converse with Teddy, thinking aloud as he wondered what was bothering Sirius. After a short time, he heard the main door open and then a voice he recognized conversed with Remus instead of the baby. Teddy still tried to babble at times to interject, of course. Harry, who was accompanying them to Godric’s Hollow tomorrow, had arrived apparently. Their words turned softer, too soft to really make out anymore, and Sirius opted to just cover his head with a pillow and pretend he didn’t exist for a while.

Soft footsteps roused him and Sirius realized he must have fallen asleep. He felt marginally better for it but didn’t look up to tell who was coming. The gait sounded like Remus and then a weight settled beside him and a gentle hand lifted the pillow enough to allow the man to peer at him.

“Do you want to come and see Harry?”

“No,” Sirius muttered into the bedsheets.

Remus shrugged slightly beside him. “Alright. You can stay here if you want. He’s playing with Teddy right now so I can stay with you if you want.”

“Please,” Sirius murmured hesitantly. A soft smile answered him.

“Do you want to get changed? Surely your belt isn’t all that comfortable digging into your stomach like that.”

Sirius hadn’t actually noticed it until Remus said something but now that he thought about it, yes, the buckle was quite obnoxious. He was wearing robes, as he typically did during the school week. While more comfortable in muggle clothing, he had gotten into the habit of wearing what Remus wore and Remus wore robes when he taught. Slowly, he pushed the pillow off his head and rolled over to sit up. His hair was a staticky mess and he thought he caught Remus quirking a smile at it before he smoothed his expression. With a soft sigh, he unbuckled the belt and let it drop around his hips. Beside him, Remus rolled to sit up as well before climbing off the bed and going to get him something to change into.

“How’s this?” Remus asked when crossed the room to return to Sirius’s side.

Sirius looked up at him, having shrugged out of his robes and shirt. He was wriggling his hips to get his trousers off without actually getting up but paused when he saw what Remus was offering him. With a sheepish smile and a bit of a flush to his cheeks, the man was holding out one of his own sweaters with nothing else. Sirius actually cracked a smile and took it gratefully. As he slipped it on, his trousers still bunched at his knees and effectively forgotten, he felt inexplicably warm. He hadn’t intended to ask for Remus’s clothes to borrow but had always favored snuggling in them when he felt like shit. Apparently, Remus remembered.

“You look ridiculous like that,” Remus commented, shaking his head. He moved closer and quickly finished slipping Sirius’s trousers off without waiting for argument. He gathered up the rest of the discarded clothes and carried them across the room to the hamper before rejoining him on the bed.

“I suppose it’s a good thing I have you to make sure I don’t look as much a fool as I feel then,” Sirius answered.

“Oh, absolutely,” Remus answered, putting an arm around him and coaxing him to shift towards the pillows and blankets. A quick flick of his wand brought more over to the bed from where they were piled in the corner on an armchair. “Sitting in an oversized sweatshirt and boxers is certainly not a foolish look at all.” Despite his words, he brought Sirius closer and wrapped the blankets around them both.

“Aren’t you supposed to be making me feel better?” Sirius asked, surprised he found humor in the sarcastic soft-jabs Remus was making.

“I am making you feel better. You’re already smiling.” Remus kissed his hair. “What do you need, cariad?”

Sirius sighed but shrugged. His stomach did a little flip at hearing Remus call him that. It had only started happening recently, within the past couple of weeks in fact. He’d always loved the nickname before and he had not realized just how much he’d missed it until he’d heard it again. The silly, jealous part of his mind wondered if Remus had ever called Dora that but somehow, he felt like it was unique to him. Remus wasn’t usually one for pet-names and he used them carefully when he did say them; Dora probably had her own. “Just you is good for now.”

“You have me.”

Chapter Text

Without spending all day on a train, there was no easy way to avoid the floo network to get to Godric’s Hollow from Hogwarts. Times likes this were when Remus found himself wishing they had access to Sirius’s bike. It had made the journey several times far faster than any other mode of transport and he’d gotten used to it after that first time of Sirius just taking off without warning. He made a mental note to ask Arthur about it. It would give Sirius something else to focus on as well since he obviously needed things to do to keep himself busy rather than turning inward on himself.

“Is everyone ready?” Remus asked as he stood at the main door of their suite with Teddy in his harness and bundled up against the chilly weather of late autumn. The baby was adamant about not wearing his hat, which had once again been charmed to keep putting itself back on his head.

Harry joined him after tying his trainers, shoving his hands in his coat pockets and shrugging. “Yeah.” He glanced across at Sirius who was carefully putting his CD player into his pocket; Harry had put it back together for him last night and gotten a hug for his trouble when Sirius found it that morning.

“Ready,” Sirius confirmed before sighing and walking across the room. The look on his face suggested he wasn’t anywhere close to ready and Remus could certainly relate to that. He wasn’t genuinely sure how he felt about going to Godric’s Hollow after so long either.

The walk to Hogsmeade was quiet, Sirius at Remus’s side, not quite touching but close enough to reach out if he felt inclined to. Harry had a pensive look on his face and hadn’t said much about how he felt about going with his godfathers to visit his parents. He’d responded quickly to Remus’s letter earlier in the month asking if he wanted to come with them but hadn’t divulged anything beyond his agreement. When they reached the station and paid fare to use the floo network, Remus looked at both of them and then took a handful of the green powder. Sirius was frowning by then and paused a few steps away from the hearth.

“Come through with me,” Remus suggested after meeting his anxious grey eyes. He offered his free hand, which Sirius made no hesitation in grabbing to move closer. Remus offered him a small smile and then looked at his godson. Harry nodded to him and took his own handful to follow behind them.

“Godric’s Hollow Station,” Remus announced as he threw the powder into the flames. They flared green and he took a deep breath before he stepped through, dragging Sirius with him. Images of different fireplaces rushed past them in a disorienting blur that he had never enjoyed watching before settling on the view from within a small train station that looked no different than any other village station. Teddy was whimpering by then and Remus rubbed his back with his freehand as he stepped out of the way to allow Harry to come through after them. 

The sun was shining in a clear sky overhead, a stark difference from the grey dreariness of Scotland that they’d just left. It was amazing what a few hundred miles could do to change the weather. It felt colder here though and Teddy finally decided to leave his hat on once he had settled from the floo travel. The only thing taking away from what would otherwise be a nice day was the knowledge of where they were and why. A sign on the wall told the name of the station and seeing it written somehow solidified it for Remus. He swallowed hard and kept hold of Sirius’s hand. The man’s grip told him that he was having a hard time without having to actually look at him. 

The town looked much the same as Remus remembered it. There were some new shops that he didn’t recall seeing seventeen years ago but most were identical. There were a few more houses now, too, built in a modern style as opposed to the original quaint cottages that had dominated Godric’s Hollow in the late seventies. It was like stepping into the past even with the odd few new pieces. It was hard to believe that this town had been as much a part of his life as their neighborhood in downtown London; he hadn’t visited either since the funeral.

“It’s more lively during the day,” Harry commented softly as people bustled about in the streets, taking care of their business with no mind to the new visitors. “And nice to see without snow on the ground.”

Remus looked over at his godson who was looking around the town that he should have grown up in with eyes that had never really seen the place before. He’d told Remus briefly of his visit at Christmas last year but he had apparently not stayed long and was attacked after visiting his parents’ graves in the dead of night. Choosing to share with Harry the good memories rather than dwelling on the bad, he offered the young man a smile.

“It’s a nice town. Your parents fell in love with it not long before they got married. They actually got married here before they moved to the cottage where you were born,” he explained.

Harry’s face lit up as Remus had expected it would.

“They wanted to live somewhere that had muggle amenities as well as wizarding history. And then when you came along, it was the perfect place to raise a child. Sirius and I used to take you for walks around town and out into the fields to play. You used to like watching him run around as Padfoot.” Remus pointed down a small lane that lead to the outskirts of town. “That way. There was a small play park that you were too little for at the time and then it opened up into grasslands.”

Harry ate it up though Sirius seemed not to share in the sentiment of sharing stories about their godson’s youth. As they neared the square, he was drawn to the memorial in the center. It shifted from a tall obelisk into a statue once they were close enough and Remus cut his story short as he looked up at the oversized image of his best friends and their infant son, now a grown man beside him. It was surreal to think how Harry had lost that family yet now stood there gazing upon it with his new one, reforged from what it had once been after so long. He’d never thought it would happen.

Chapter Text

James and Lily stared at their baby son, their faces carved into happy smiles that lacked the warmth Sirius had so often seen. There was no light in those stone eyes, no laughter from the little boy reaching up to them, no quips from James about the mischief he’d been getting into before being caught by Lily and brought into a cuddle to keep him out of trouble. It was obviously them but so clearly not at the same time. There was no life in this depiction of the small family that had once been his own. It was hard to stomach.

Remus squeezed his hand and brought him back from his spiralling thoughts. Yes, they were there to honor their friends and he knew they were gone, he just hadn’t expected the memorial to hit him like that, to almost offend him, even. 

“The pictures are better,” Harry murmured softly. Sirius glanced at him and his eyes, Lily’s eyes, were glued to the statue, staring up into the faces of his mother and father in the same way his stone counterpart was doing.

“I agree,” Remus answered, his voice just as quiet.

“The last time I was here, I was in disguise… I couldn’t really take it all in, you know? Hermione was with me but she was so focused on finding the sword and keeping us hidden, it was like I was alone. She figured out how I was feeling by the end of it, just…” Harry trailed off, still gazing at the statue of is parents.

“We can take as much or as little time as you want now,” Remus assured him, putting a hand on his shoulder. His grip on Sirius’s hand was tight, as if trying to convey the same message to him as well even though he was talking to Harry.

“Thanks…” the young man finally tore his eyes away from the memorial and looked at Remus and Sirius. He offered them a faint smile and shoved his hands deeper into his pockets. “Could we get something to leave at their graves?”

Remus nodded. “There used to be a flower shop here on the square.” He cast around and then pointed to it with the hand that had been on Harry’s shoulder. “Right over there. It looks like it’s still here.” He smiled suddenly. “James used to buy Lily flowers sometimes and dragged me in there once to get some for her birthday just after they found out she was pregnant with you. We had gone shopping while Sirius was helping your mum with morning sickness.”

Sirius cracked a small smile. “I remember that day. He came home with the biggest bouquet I have ever seen and a giant teddy bear, leaving you to carry all the bags from the market. Then he stuck a lily in her hair like the one she wore at the wedding and grinned at her like a fool for the rest of the day because she actually left it there.”

“Oh yes, she did! And that teddy was in Harry’s nursery if I recall.” Teddy perked up at hearing his name from both of them and babbled, making Remus chuckle softly. “No, not you, fy machgen.”

Sirius nodded, glancing at the little boy. “Yeah.” He looked at Harry, then, and saw that the young man was beaming with getting to hear this story. “You sometimes cuddled it once you could crawl and reach it yourself. I think there’s a picture in the album of you asleep on it.” It was the first time he’d even mentioned that album since the night they’d gotten it out during Harry’s last visit. 

“There is,” Remus confirmed. He wasn’t sure to make of the man’s tone. It was almost cautious but hopeful at the same time. Harry looked like he wanted to ask about it but didn’t and Sirius felt his smile fall. It wasn’t fair to his godson that his own fucked up head was keeping Harry from sharing more of those memories beyond just the stories they had to tell. Sirius decided he’d get it out and just hand it to him when they got back to Hogwarts, even if he couldn’t handle sitting there looking at it with him.

Remus seemed to take his change in attitude as a cue to move and started walking towards the shop, still grasping his hand to be sure he followed. Harry walked with them, his expression fairly calm given the situation, and took the lead once they were in the shop. After poking around, he settled on a wreath of roses in assorted colors. As he went up to the register, he spotted a display of small teddy bears and snagged one as well, smiling at Sirius and Remus with a shrug when Remus raised an eyebrow at him. He claimed it was a whim after hearing the story and then left the store with the little bear in hand and the wreath carefully boxed.

Sirius looked to Remus and then released his hand to go and select his own flower. He didn’t want to conjure it like he had when he’d gotten his new wand. He wanted a real one. “Just the one lily?” the florist asked. He nodded and paid for it before returning to Remus to find him smiling warmly and offering his hand again.

The walk to the church and the expansive graveyard behind it was both short and long at the same time. Distance-wise, it was not very far at all from the square. The entire town was small and he’d run it’s full perimeter in laps many a time. Knowing what they would find there, though, and the building anxiety that came with that knowledge was almost too much to bare. Harry continued to lead the way, getting a few steps ahead of them as Remus kept guiding him along by the hand. Sirius was positive he would not have made it this far without him there. It broke his heart into a million pieces to think of how Remus must have attended the funeral alone, to have had no support as his friends were laid to their final rest without having been able to say goodbye. As his godson slowed and knelt before a gleaming white marble headstone, Sirius froze. That was it. That was where James and Lily were now, just a few feet ahead and a few feet below, unaware of their friends and their grown son coming to visit. This wasn’t supposed to have happened. They weren’t supposed to be dead. They should still be alive. They should be welcoming Remus and Sirius to a Halloween dinner like they always did, celebrating with Harry as they had that first year when he was smaller then than Teddy was now, catching up and laughing as they instead got Teddy ready for his first Halloween. The little boy was supposed to have cute little wolf ears and tail transfigured by James and Sirius while Remus just laughed and shook his head with Lily over a cup of tea. Harry should be visiting after having moved out and catching up with his parents, letting them know how his new job was going and getting advice for how to live alone for the first time and asking what to do about the girl that he liked, Ginny. None of this was supposed to have happened.

“Come closer, cariad,” Remus gently coaxed him. His voice was quiet and his tone suggested he was struggling with his own emotions. Looking again at Harry, he noticed that the young man’s face was somewhat flushed and thought he caught tears glistening in the late morning sun. The flowers Harry had bought were laid at the foot of the headstone with the little teddy bear beside it.

Sirius let Remus pull him towards the grave, his feet mechanically taking one step after another without any conscious effort. When he saw the names of his best friend, his brother in all but blood, and his amazing wife, with whom he had never imagined he would have become so close, he crumpled. He was sick of crying lately but was unable to stop the tears as they flowed. The words were inexplicably at eye level now and he felt warm arms encircle him from behind after a small boy was placed in his lap. As if of its own accord, his hand set the lily he’d been grasping down beside the wreath and the teddy and then grabbed his godson’s hand. A grateful smile and a squeeze came in response as the three of them took solace in each other while remembering what and who they’d all lost.

Chapter Text

Remus could feel his own tears sliding down his cheeks as he held Sirius. Never had he seen the man he loved cry so openly as he had these past few weeks. But there was something therapeutic about it, being there with him, with Harry, to properly honor the sacrifice James and Lily made so that their baby boy could grow up. It was hard to remember them without their deaths tugging at his heart and drawing him down but he had shared so much with them that it felt good now to share those things with Harry. The past couldn’t be changed, no matter what anyone claimed. James and Lily were gone. Their legacy, though, lived on. Through him, through Sirius and, now that he was old enough to understand, through Harry.

“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Remus finally said into the silence once Sirius’s ragged sobs had quieted. He caught himself smiling even though his eyes were still somewhat watery and he could feel the cool breeze drying his cheeks. “I should have come by sooner but I’m sure you understand why I couldn’t. But we’re here now. Me, and Sirius and Harry… And Teddy. I wish you could meet him… We’re together now, like we should have been from the start. But we’re not here to dwell on the past, are we?”

Harry looked at him and smiled, reaching up to wipe his eyes with his free hand. Then he looked to the headstone. “Hey, Mum. Hey, Dad… I’m sorry I can’t remember you from the time we had together but Sirius and Remus tell me lots of stories. Like about a giant bear that was in my nursery, apparently. They just told me that today. I thought you might get a kick out of the little bear I got at the flower shop… I know you were worried about me when you saw me, but I’m okay. I mean… It’s hard, sometimes, with… everything, but… I’m okay. Most of the time.” He gave a short laugh and Remus looked at him. When they saw him? What did that mean?

Sirius shifted slightly to hug Teddy closer and then finally spoke, his voice little more than a whisper and still thick with emotion. “I don’t… I don’t even know what to say… I’m just… I’m so sorry. So very, very sorry… I should have stayed as the secret keeper but I thought I’d be smart and it was just so fucking stupid what happened… And… I should have fought for Harry and I should have… I should have done so much… It should have gone differently. It shouldn’t be like this… I’m so sorry, Prongs, Lils… So… so… sorry…”

Remus pulled Sirius closer and kissed the back of his neck, muffling his own words as he spoke and tried to reign in renewed tears. “We cannot change what happened, Sirius, as much as we may want to. We can only make the most of what time we have in the present. We owe it to them, don’t we, to James and Lily, to live.” 

If only he had realized that sooner. Harry returning to his life was really what had solidified that sentiment and he felt bad for wasting twelve years when he could have been doing exactly what he was now urging Sirius to embrace. Sirius nodded after a moment, his hair tickling Remus’s nose.

“Yeah…Yeah, you’re right, Re...” Sirius addressed the headstone and the lost friends it represented once more. “It feels like just yesterday I saw you and now I’m sitting here with Prongslet all grown up and trying to find the words to say goodbye. I miss you so much...” His voice gave out before he could say anymore and Remus felt him lean back against his chest.

The church bell rang in the distance and Remus realized after a moment that it wasn’t striking for the hour. Instead, it was a steady, quick rhythm and cheers carried in the air. Both he and Harry looked over before looking at each other and smiling. It was wedding bells.

“You said Mum and Dad got married at that church, right?” Harry asked, gesturing towards it.

“Yes. St. Jerome’s, October 13, 1979. We were only nineteen and it was a mess and it was beautiful all at the same time,” Remus answered. Harry chuckled as a gust rolled the lily into his lap and tousled his hair in such a way that made him look even more like his father. Remus couldn’t help but grin as he told the story and was particularly pleased when Sirius later joined in. Harry listened with rapt attention, twirling the lily absently in his hand with a beaming smile on his face.

Chapter Text

With Sirius’s birthday falling midweek and the full moon the very next day, it was Harry that suggested they celebrate on the weekend instead so that he could be there and so could Teddy. Not that the baby really understood what was going on but it was nice to be able to spend time with his newfound family outside of Hogwarts and all of the worries that it held within its walls. They spent Halloween in Godric’s Hollow, getting lunch at the pub and then visiting the grave one last time. Remus conjured a small jack-o-lantern to sit with the wreath, teddy bear and lily and then, on a whim, Sirius charmed it to sing the Nos Galan Gaeaf song Remus had taught him when they were all eleven years old. Remus had groaned and shook his head but was smiling regardless. Harry apparently thought it was brilliant and mentioned that Remus had once told him the story of that particular prank but hadn’t cast the charm to show him.

They took the train to London that evening and stayed with Harry at his flat. It reminded Sirius of their own as he looked around. He found himself missing it and looked to Remus once they got settled for a night of take-out and quiet family time before they’d have to leave the next day. “Whatever happened to our place?”

Remus averted his eyes and frowned. It was something Sirius had not yet asked about and seemed to be a sore spot for Remus. He guessed it was because Remus obviously hadn’t been able to stay there. Sirius was still kicking himself for never having gotten his name officially put onto the place.

“When I found out what had happened, what I thought you had done…” Remus looked at him then and the expression on his face almost brought more fucking tears to his eyes. Hadn’t he cried enough today? “I’m sorry I ever believed it.”

Harry came back into the room after having put Teddy down for bed. He’d asked to spend some time with his godson and Remus had gladly let him, offering to get dinner taken care of while he did. The young man’s appearance brought both of them out of whatever moment was about to happen and Sirius had to admit that he was grateful for it. Remus offered Harry a small smile and then looked back at Sirius to continue with answering the question.

“I went there that night and I was livid and, well… I blew up half of it accidentally and then fled before the police could find me standing there in the rubble. I think it was blamed on a gas leak or something but I never went back. I don’t know what came of it after that but I imagine it was repaired and sold once neither of us claimed it…”

It took a minute to process that but then Sirius surprised himself by grinning. Moony, ever careful, ever mindful, ever cautious and controlled, had lost it. There was something about imagining that, despite the circumstances, that was endearing somehow. “Wow… well, alright then. I guess that answers that, doesn’t it?”

Remus stared at him incredulously before cracking a smile. “Yes, I suppose it does.”

“Remind me never to make you angry,” Harry commented, quirking a small smile of his own.

“I do my best not to get angry,” Remus answered. His smile was growing.

“Apparently for a bloody good reason. Damn, Moony. Blowing up a flat?” Sirius could not stop grinning. 

“Right… Well, how about we turn our attention to our curry?” Remus attempted to divert the conversation, a faint flush to his cheeks. Sirius elbowed him but went along with it, tucking into their Indian take-out spread across the coffee table. Harry flopped himself down on the floor opposite the couch where his godfathers sat and talk fell quiet to the meal for a time.

“What did you mean when you said that your parents saw you and were worried, Harry?” Remus asked later in the evening. They’d been discussing plans for the next day to celebrate Sirius’s birthday early and after deciding to take Teddy to the zoo and finish out with cake and take-out of Sirius’s choice, the conversation had lapsed. Sirius looked at him questioningly though Harry appeared somewhat sheepish in response.

“Well… It will sound silly and I don’t expect you to believe it but that snitch Dumbledore left me had the Resurrection Stone in it and that night I was walking in the forest to meet Voldemort, they came to me. They weren’t ghosts but they weren’t really people either, you know? They looked like they did in the pictures, young, happy but not quite solid. It was strange… But they were there and they talked to me and told me how proud they were of me and asked questions about my life. They knew what I was about to do, that I was about to die, and they… Well, they helped me through it, kept me calm. And Mum hugged me and Dad ruffled my hair and called me ‘Prongslet’ before they watched me go and face him… I mean, it was terrifying but knowing they were there, that they really have been watching over me like you said they were, Remus… It helped. I don’t think I could have done it if they hadn’t been there.”

Sirius just stared at him. He hadn’t ever been told nor had he asked specifically how Harry had managed to defeat Voldemort. Shit. Harry had willingly walked to his own death. But then, how was he sitting right there in front of him if he had died? It made no sense but why would he not believe him? What reason did he have to lie, especially about something like that? He looked to Remus to see if he had known any of this before but the man had that odd pensive look about him that he sometimes got. Sirius never understood that expression but knew that Remus would only tell what he was thinking if he felt like it and no amount of questioning would get an explanation.

“It’s almost fitting we came to see them today,” Remus commented softly after a moment. Both Harry and Sirius looked at him to await more. Remus smiled at them both. “Nos Galan Gaeaf. It’s a spirit night. It is supposed to be a time when the spirits of the dead return to the world and a time to honor those we have lost. Perhaps they heard us today.”

A smile slowly spread across Sirius’s face in response. He remembered Remus teaching the Marauders what Halloween traditionally was all about when he taught them the rhyme. He hadn’t considered then that Remus actually believed any of it. Maybe he didn’t but it was still a nice thing to think about. Perhaps James and Lily really had been able to hear them, to see them, to know that they were being remembered and that he and Remus were sharing stories of their lives with their little boy who wasn’t near as little as he should have been anymore.

Chapter Text

Weekday moons were the worst when life revolved around a typical work week schedule. Reasonably, they were more common than weekend moons by the simple fact that there were more weekdays than weekend days for them to fall on but Remus did not want to be reasonable in his ire. Working at a magic school in the middle of Scotland with no easy access to the rest of the country made them especially more difficult when there was a baby to consider as well. Remus was by no means capable of caring for his son before and after a full moon and while Sirius was, for the most part, he was also insistent that he accompany Remus rather than watching over Teddy. There was merit to his arguments and Remus had yet to actually put up a fight to them. That did not mean, however, that he was even remotely happy about the arrangements made. After a beautiful, if chilly, day at the zoo and an early dinner in honor of Sirius’s birthday, Harry had accompanied them to the station to catch a train to Cardiff so that Teddy could be left with his grandfather for the week since he and Andi had switched in October. Remus had a feeling it had something to do with her wedding anniversary, which he remembered Dora telling him once was around that time despite Andi herself not having said anything about it. Lyall had wished Sirius well and even given him a gift during their short visit. Faking a smile, Remus had cuddled Teddy one last time before handing him off to his tad and departing with Sirius via apparition late Sunday night. It was the beginning of one of the longest weeks he had ever had the misfortune of experiencing.

What began as thinking that Sirius was just tired from the weekend actually turned into a day of finding the man curled up in the blankets every time Remus returned to his office during planning periods. Sympathetic at first, Remus had tried to comfort him and get him up but Sirius was having none of it and come dinner time, he gave up trying and let him sleep while he graded papers. The doors were open so he could hear his partner shifting restlessly but outside of a bowl of soup, he couldn’t even get Sirius to eat. When he at last climbed into bed, he wound up with an armful of mopy Sirius and fell asleep holding him. Thankfully, there were very few nightmares that night.

The following morning was slightly better and Sirius actually agreed to get up. Remus coaxed him into the living room office with a promise of coffee and realized that one of his sweaters had been stolen by the man. He hadn’t noticed yesterday as every time he’d seen Sirius he’d been wrapped up in blankets.

“I ought to get you your own sweaters,” Remus commented as he set a mug of steaming coffee in front of him at the table.

Sirius adjusted the too long sleeves and shrugged. “Wouldn’t wear ‘em. Not yours.”

“That’s what makes them special?” Remus shook his head and sat across from him with his own coffee.

“‘Course.” Sirius sipped quietly at his drink, holding it with both hands akin to a child. 

Remus tried to keep the mood light but it broke his heart to see Sirius like this. The man had once been so full of life and he seemed like a shell of former self lately. With a casual flick of his wand, Remus brought a small wrapped box across the room to settle in front of Sirius at the table, hoping it would draw something of a reaction from the otherwise despondent man.

“Happy birthday, cariad.”

A flicker of awareness returned to Sirius’s otherwise dim grey eyes. He considered the box and then set down his cup to pick it up instead. Cocking his head somewhat like a curious puppy, he weighed it and brought it close to his face before unwrapping it messily. Inside was a brass faced watch with an iridescent navy blue face and black leather strap. It was ticking gently, charmed to function within magical places despite being of muggle design. Inside the clock face was a smaller face near the twelve o’clock marker. It showed an almost full moon, a tiny sliver masked by the edge of an inverted black circle moving out of view. Sirius stared at it for a long time before looking up at Remus, his eyes finally alive again.

“When did you…?”

“When we were in Cardiff in August. I noticed you looking at watches and you always wore the one I got you for your twentieth birthday.” Remus cracked a smile at him. “Since you said you worried about the moon, I thought you might appreciate one like this.”

Sirius broke into a full smile in return. “Thank you. It’s gorgeous.” He carefully lifted it from its box, pushed up the knit sleeve of his borrowed sweatshirt and strapped it to his left wrist.

“I’m glad you like it,” Remus answered, his smile widening.

“I do,” Sirius assured him, admiring it for a long minute before looking back at Remus. “How did you get it to work?”

“A lot of experimenting. I can show you tonight. The charm might work on your CD player, actually,” Remus offered.

Sirius grinned and nodded. “Alright, it’s a deal, Moony. Help me get that damn thing working.”

By the time they went to bed, it was. Sirius even tested a Sonorous Charm on the headphones to allow Remus to listen to Queen with him for the first time in years. They both decided that they’d grab some of Remus’s CDs and stereo from the cottage when they went to pick up Teddy at the weekend now that they had a functional power charm. While the stereo might be a little more difficult as it wasn’t battery operated, it would give Sirius another puzzle to work through at least.

The full moon itself just had to fall on a Wednesday. Of course it had to be Wednesday. Remus disliked Wednesdays on the best of weeks but with a full moon headache and aching muscles and joints all day, despite Wolfsbane making him at least functional if sore, dealing with his fourth year Gryffindor and Slytherins was an absolute nightmare. The only thing that might have been worse would have been dealing with them the day after. To say they were badly behaved would have been a lie but with his patience already thin, putting up with the typical belligerence of teenagers was already difficult without Torben’s attitude and the lingering wariness of a couple of the more timid Slytherins. Add to that the excitement of the first quidditch match of the season, Gryffindor versus Slytherin, and tensions were high for half of his classes all day. He wanted nothing more than to go back to his quarters and cuddle Teddy until they both fell asleep. Of course, Teddy wasn’t there and if he actually fell asleep, he wouldn’t make it to the Shack in time for sunset. While he wouldn’t exactly be a danger to anyone if he locked himself in his office, the screaming and howling during the changes might alarm a few people and he much preferred to keep his pain to himself. His bad mood was just exacerbated by Sirius, now seemingly out of his low for the time being and almost as excited for the quidditch match as his students. The man talked about it almost nonstop at dinner until Remus couldn’t take it anymore.

“Look, I’ve heard about nothing else but the bloody match all week! I don’t really care who wins and you know full well I don’t give a damn about quidditch, anyway. I would really appreciate it if we could talk about something else,” he snapped, stabbing at a chunk of potato on his plate that he didn’t actually intend on eating. His appetite had all-but diminished and he was only eating because he knew he had to.

The smile on Sirius’s face faded and he averted his eyes like a kicked puppy and nodded with a mumbled, “Sorry.”

Remus’s heart sank and his irritation evaporated in an instant. Sirius wouldn’t look at him through the rest of the meal and wandered back to their quarters once he was done, leaving Remus staring after him. He followed after a moment, shoving his hands deep in his pockets and glaring holes into the floor. His anger turned inwards now, an instinctual growl met anyone who tried to talk to him and he didn’t even try to stop himself. How could he be so stupid as to snap at Sirius when he had been trying so damn hard to get the man out of his shell for the better part of a week? It would be just his luck if his partner retreated back to his blanket fort and just left him to suffer the moon alone. He’d certainly deserve it. 

To his surprise, Sirius had his cloak on and was silently offering Remus his own when he opened the door. Remus took it and wrapped it around his shoulders, searching Sirius for some indication as to his mood. He seemed detached again and Remus mentally kicked himself for putting him there. Sirius then gave him a measured cup of Wolfsbane Potion and Remus downed it without complaint.

“I’m sorry for snapping at you,” he announced, offering his hand. Sirius took it but didn’t respond verbally. Instead, he just lead the way back out of their suite and towards the whomping willow so that they could spend the night in the Shack. Remus grasped his hand like a lifeline but didn’t know what else to say to fix things between them. 

As he sat later that night with Padfoot curled around him like a fluffy blanket, he rested his throbbing head against the dog’s shoulder and gently stroked his fur with aching fingers. “If we pick up Teddy on Friday night, we can take him to the game on Saturday morning,” he suggested softly, his voice strained.

Grey eyes that were too human to really belong to a dog peered at him and then a canine grin lit them up and a slobbery tongue licked Remus’s cheek. He couldn’t help but smile back before the last of the twilight faded and plunged the room into full darkness aside from the light of the full moon in the sky overhead. Remus groaned as his body began to tremble, his bones and muscles tearing and stretching to take new form while his skin pulled tight and prickled with thick fur replacing soft hair. His groans became whimpers which then shifted into screams and howls. Padfoot curled closer and licked his muzzle, whimpering in sympathy to let him know he cared. Neither played very much that night and though Remus managed to gnaw at his leg in frustration before Padfoot growled and nipped at him to make him stop, both came through the night largely unharmed.

Remus was more tired than anything when he limped into the Great Hall for breakfast the following morning. Sirius was at his side and seemed similarly exhausted though it made for a change for him to actually accompany him lately. A small pile of chocolates awaited him at the staff table, mostly unsigned but one particularly large bar of Honeyduke’s best was accompanied by a card from the seventh and eighth years. He cast about to find the group settled mostly together at what was formally the Slytherin table and gave them a wave in thanks. They waved back and Ginny gestured at her leg and gave a questioning shrug of her shoulders across the room. Remus smiled back at her and made a dismissing gesture at the bewitched ceiling before serving up his breakfast. 

He and Sirius ate in companionable silence, both too exhausted for words, until the mail owls fluttered in overhead. As usual, several flew towards them. He’d been getting more, directly in correlation with Mason’s visit and the Prophet article that followed. Of course people were outraged that he had brought another werewolf to the school to endanger the students and indoctrinate them into a false sense of security. How dare he treat werewolves like people when they were monsters. What right did he have to educate the young generation of wizards in the fallout of the war? Who did he think he was trying to undo the bigotry that lead to it in the first place?

Remus just sighed as he sorted through the mail, Sirius snagging most of it before he was even able to pick it up. He was completely unphased by the now commonplace scene of the man loudly casting, “Incendio!” on the letters he tossed into the air to make a point. He really shouldn’t have been surprised when one of the few envelopes Sirius hadn’t been able to grab from him fell open in his hands as soon as he picked it up. He should have thought better than to touch an envelope without first examining it. He really should have considered that, with the amount of outright hatred he’d been shown, someone would eventually send something more than angry words or howlers that Sirius liked to cast Confundus Charms on to make them do any number of silly things to get a laugh out of him and whoever was around them at the time. Remus was surprised though, and immediately dropped the envelope as soon as its contents touched his bare skin.

“Fuck!” he hissed before toppling backwards out his chair and knocking the envelope and a shower of finely powdered silver away from him. Loud gasps and shrieks of surprise sounded along with several alarmed inquiries calling his name.

“Moony?! Are you alright?” Sirius asked as he swiveled round in his own chair. He offered Remus a hand but then his eyes narrowed when saw the silver looking much like glitter all over the floor and the man in question.

Remus had seen Sirius angry many a time. He hated when that anger was directed at him for some transgression he’d committed. He felt sorry for anyone else who it was ever directed at because Sirius was quick to strike, either with words, fists or magic. The expression on the man’s face now was beyond anger. It was righteous fury and it was terrifying. Remus had never seen that look on his face and it was enough to dull the burning agony of the silver dust seeping through his robes and clinging to his hands.

Flitwick was the first to act. A wave of his wand vanished the silver while Sirius, pale and silent, dropped to his knees beside Remus and took one hand and then the other to examine in surprisingly steady hands. Remus let him, starting to tremble himself as if to make up for Sirius’s lack of a tremor. The rest of the staff ushered the students out of the Great Hall to their common rooms. McGonagall sent Professor Vector and Madam Hooch to attend to the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor students respectively as their heads of house were both otherwise detained. Remus had a hard time paying attention beyond the loud call of her voice. He tried to focus on Sirius, still looking furious beyond measure, but even that was getting difficult. He felt light-headed even though he wasn’t moving and was only vaguely aware of Madam Pomfrey coming to join Sirius at his side. She and Sirius discussed what appeared to have happened in clipped phrases and he thought he heard something about it being good that he hadn’t inhaled any of the silver. Then he felt himself being levitated onto a conjured stretcher and didn’t remember much else until he woke up in the Hospital Wing some time later.

Chapter Text

Sirius knew something was wrong when Remus swore. Remus never swore. He could count on one hand the times he had ever heard him say more than “damn” and often it was just “Merlin.” Rarely did he ever properly swear, which Sirius more than made up for. Then he saw the glitter all over him and the pained look on his face and figured out what it really was. That someone would send powdered silver to purposely hurt him, especially the day after a full moon, made Sirius’s blood boil. Only once in his life had he ever been so angry. He couldn’t talk, he could only act. And Remus needed his help more than he needed hot headed vengeance. Sirius’s need to do something translated, for now, into taking care of Remus. 

All of his medi-wizard training kicked in and he was immediately at the man’s side, checking the severity of the burns and casting what he could without medicine to make Remus comfortable. His hands were the worst, followed by his lap where the trapped envelope had presumably fallen on him. While Flitwick had vanished what silver he could see, it was clear that some still clung to Remus’s robes and was causing him continuing problems. They needed him out of the robes as soon as possible. By the time Madam Pomfrey had joined him, Remus was already starting to go into shock. He was shaking and clearly having issues maintaining focus, his eyes dilated and dull. This was bad. The burns were obviously worse than Sirius could see. And of course they were. These weren’t simple burns. They were silver burns and Remus was a werewolf. The stuff was lethal and they’d be lucky if Remus didn’t go into anaphylactic shock to boot. He cast a stabilizing spell over him to halt any further deterioration of his condition but it would only last so long. A quick exchange of words filled in the matron and then they moved Remus to the Hospital Wing where he promptly passed out. While Sirius dealt with stripping him and treating the burns, Madam Pomfrey watched over his breathing and heart rate with constant diagnostics. Between the two of them, they were able to apply burn salve hastily mixed with dittany to most of Remus’s front and keep him stable at the same time. Getting him to drink hydrating potions and antihistamines proved somewhat of a challenge but within the hour, Remus was resting as comfortably as he could while Sirius sat with him and waited for him to wake up. Once he had shifted into sleep rather than unconsciousness, Sirius finally relaxed somewhat, his fury simmering on the back burner while he watched over his injured partner and continued administering the potions in small doses every half hour.

“How is he?” a familiar voice asked behind Sirius as he gently laid Remus back down after coaxing him to drink the medicine for the third time.

“Hard to tell,” Sirius answered honestly, his tone short.

Harry came to stand beside him and looked at his stricken godfather asleep in the bed before them. A blanket was pulled up to his neck, charmed to avoid rubbing off the thick orange paste that was treating his burns. “Professor McGonagall informed the Auror Office of what happened. When I found out it was Remus who’d been targeted, I didn’t take no for an answer. I don’t think my supervisor is too happy. Says I’m too close to the case. I told him to shove it and came anyway.”

Sirius smirked at that and glanced over at him. Harry looked torn between angry and upset. “Think you could get me back out of Azkaban when I murder whoever did this?”

Harry glanced at him with a small smirk of his own. “Might be kind of difficult. You didn’t really murder anyone last time.”

“May as well make up for that, then.” Sirius’s expression turned darker and Harry didn’t seem to know quite what to make of it.

“Let the boy do his job,” a raspy whisper ordered. Both Sirius and Harry looked down at Remus who still appeared to be sleeping despite having just spoken.

“Someone tried to kill you, Remus,” Sirius snapped.

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Remus answered, his eyes still closed.

“He’s right though, Remus. We’ve looked at the envelope. It was intended to blow up but the charm misfired and it just fell apart instead. It would have gotten silver dust in your face. You probably would be dead if you’d inhaled it,” Harry explained. “We already looked around the Great Hall and we tracked down the owl that delivered it too. Aurors are already tracing it to its sender.” 

Sirius darkened considerably at hearing Harry confirm what he’d already been turning around in his head. “They’re dead,” he hissed.

Tired green eyes cracked open to regard Sirius. “Cut it out, Sirius.”

Sirius turned his glare to Remus, trying to figure out why he was taking this all so lightly. It was as if he was resigned to the fact that this sort of shit was going to happen, as if he deserved it or something or at the very least could do fuck all about it. Remus gave him a level stare right back, either unphased or too tired to be phased by the severe look on Sirius’s face.

“Sirius, the aurors will find whoever did this even if I have to take up the investigation myself,” Harry insisted, seeming slightly worried about what Sirius might actually do if given half the chance.

“Azkaban isn’t good enough for the fucking swine that did this,” Sirius spat.

Remus just sighed and closed his eyes, obviously too tired to argue. 

“What good would it actually do you?” Harry asked, apparently catching on that his godfather was now one-hundred percent serious about his claims. “If you were to find them and kill them, then what? You get dragged back to Azkaban and actually left there this time and then Remus is left alone again. What happens the next time? If one bigotted prick managed to work up the courage to try it, don’t you think others will as well? Then who does Remus have to watch out for him? Won’t be you if you go off all trigger-happy on the first tosser that tries something like this.”

Sirius’s fury immediately cooled to an ember. He stared at Harry with wide eyes as those words sank in. The young man was glaring down at him and his fists were clenched at his sides. He looked formidable in his black auror robes and too much like James for comfort as he stood there trying to drill some sense into Sirius’s thick skull.

“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Remus muttered from the bed, his eyes still closed. “Now if we could all stop yelling, my migraine and I would really appreciate it.”

“Sorry,” Harry answered sincerely, sinking into a chair beside Sirius as his anger at his godfather visibly washed off of him.

Sirius looked at Remus and then got up to cross the room to a small cabinet. When he returned, he had a small bottle in hand. “Let me help you drink this. Might make you feel better,” he offered as he unstoppered it.

“Pain relief potion, thank Merlin,” Remus breathed, cracking his eyes open again. He tried to lift his hand to take it but dropped it again with a grimace. Orange paste covering his palm and fingers drew a gasp from Harry before he stuck it back under the covers again.

“That’s why I said to let me help you,” Sirius gently chastised as he sat on the bedside and helped Remus sit up by supporting his shoulder. The blankets slid down to reveal the same paste over a good part of his stomach and forearms as well. He held the bottle to Remus’s lips and then shifted to let Remus lean back against him; the man seemed appreciative and snuggled against him as best he could. Sirius brought the blankets up to cover his shoulders once he set the bottle aside. “Go back to sleep, Moony.”

“Not going to wake up to find you arrested, am I?”

“That you are making quips at me is probably a good sign,” Sirius answered with a faint smile. “No, I’m not going anywhere. Prongslet has that honor as an auror, I suppose.”

“Good,” Remus murmured sleepily as his eyes slipped closed once more. His breathing evened out and he was fast asleep within seconds.

“Is he going to be alright?” Harry asked after a few minutes of just watching him sleep.

“Now that he’s woken up once, he’s largely out of danger,” Sirius answered.

Harry nodded then offered him a small smile. “I never knew you knew so much about healing.”

“I’m a trained medi-wizard,” Sirius answered with a faint shrug.

“No way… That’s pretty cool, actually. Ever thought about getting back into it?”

He hadn’t, actually. He truly hadn’t considered anything outside of the day-to-day care for Teddy and figuring out his place in the world again. He had honestly enjoyed it in the past, even if his sole purpose had originally been perfecting his techniques to better care for Remus with what was effectively a chronic illness. Though working at St. Mungo’s again would mean leaving Remus alone and having to find someone to care for Teddy. There hadn’t been a kid thrown into the mix before other than Harry and Harry wasn’t theirs even though they treated him like he was. “I don’t think I could.”

“Why not?” Harry leaned his chin on his hand while his elbow leaned on the edge of the bed. He smiled at Sirius while waiting for an answer.

“It would take me away from Hogwarts,” Sirius answered. As much as he might like to get back into his chosen field, he didn’t feel right taking away from Remus’s after he had tried so hard to even find a career with his affliction. It wasn’t fair to ask him to give it up so they could move back to London for him to pursue healing again. And one of them would need to give it up until Teddy was old enough to start school at least.

“Not necessarily.” Harry kept smiling at him.

“Alright, Prongslet, spill. What are you getting at?” Sirius rolled his eyes at the young man being purposefully oblique.

“Talk to Madam Pomfrey. She was always worn pretty thin when I was here and she seems to have her hands full with you two now as well as all the kids in my year who came back.” Harry grinned when Sirius tried to kick him for the jab at the trouble he and Remus had managed to get themselves into since the start of term. Sirius had to admit the idea had merit. It might be worth talking to Remus about once he had recovered.

Chapter Text

Remus woke on an off through the day. Sirius was always with him. Sometimes Poppy would be as well. Harry was there at first but by the end of the day had disappeared. Once, Hermione had stopped by and another time, a handful of younger students had been visiting. Each time, the pile of gifts on the bedside table grew. At first it was just a card. Then more appeared. Chocolates followed along with flowers. Come dinner, when Sirius convinced him to stay awake long enough to eat something, the table was overflowing and piles were growing on the floor. Lucky was sitting on his pillow at that point though he didn’t bother to ask who had fetched the stuffed animal. He seemed to have inspired at least one well-wisher though as a tiny plush wolf sat amongst the other gifts. By morning, the entire lot had been rearranged into neater stacks of small boxes with a new plushie to join the first atop them and the cards were now strung on the wall above the bed. The flowers dominated the bedside table at that point and Sirius appeared exasperated by it all as he lounged in armchair conjured next to the bed.

“Are you aware that Ginny Weasley is capable of charming a card to shoot fireworks when opened? It fell off the wall while you were sleeping and I am genuinely surprised you slept through it,” he complained once he noticed that Remus was awake.

“Aware, no. Surprised, not at all. Her brothers, George and Fred, would have given the lot of us a run for our money and she was something of a protege of theirs,” Remus answered as he yawned and resisted the urge to cover his mouth or rub his eyes. He instead turned his head politely and blinked rapidly to try and clear them. “They supposedly managed to make interactive fireworks that multiplied whenever they were cast upon. I wish I had seen it.”

Sirius’s eyes were sparkling with mischief when Remus looked back at him. He couldn’t help but smile back. “I see the pile has grown again. Apparently I have more admirers than I thought.”

“Just about the whole school at this point, I reckon,” Sirius answered, gesturing at the towers of gifts. “Guess your hard work paid off.”

“If only the public could see things the way these children do,” Remus answered with a sigh. He yawned again and tried to shift, more uncomfortable than in pain now. His skin felt tight, like it did before a moon, but the sharp agony of the burns had subsided significantly. He would really appreciate the use of his hands, though.

“The Prophet reported on the attack this morning. Calling it a hate crime. Whoever they have heading up the department seems a whole lot more competent than anyone they’ve had before. Stories in the seventies were fucking stupid with how much they left out or sympathisized with idiots,” Sirius answered, frowning now. He held up a paper that had been discarded by his chair. The headline read Teacher Recovering From Hate Crime at Hogwarts and an image of aurors combing the Great Hall as part of the investigation was shown below it.

“Stories through the eighties and nineties weren’t much better. They got really bad at the height of the Second War. We started our own reporting,” Remus replied with a sigh. “What does that story say?”

“Basically just describes the facts. You received a letter laced with silver, you were treated in the Hospital Wing, expected to make a full recovery, aurors are on the case. They name dropped Prongslet even though he apparently ‘declined comment’ and hung around in here most of the time that the reporters were lurking about. Kid doesn’t like reporters much,” Sirius explained, a wry smile coming to his lips.

“No, no he doesn’t. He really doesn’t like all of the attention he gets but he handles it well enough. At least, I think he does. He hasn’t talked to me much about any of it lately…” Remus felt his expression falling as he voiced that aloud. Harry had talked to him almost daily before Sirius came back into his life. Then he had backed off considerably and had focused more on helping Sirius get settled. And since returning to Hogwarts, they wrote perhaps once a week and he had only visited twice. Three times if yesterday could be counted.

“Oi, don’t go inside your head on me here, Moony,” Sirius ordered, poking his temple and drawing a short lived glare from the prone man. “What are you guilting yourself about now?”

“Harry,” Remus answered. There was no point denying it. When Sirius was on point, he could see right through Remus and Remus knew that. 

“What about him?”

“I haven’t been there for him since August. We’ve all been too focused on you and then on me. But he’s going through a lot as well and I haven’t been mindful to that…” Remus frowned and then went on before Sirius could try and talk him down. “He isn’t one to ask for help. He grew up too reliant on himself to have really developed that instinct.” He gave Sirius a pointed, albeit brief look. “And I get too wrapped up in my head to notice sometimes when he’s having a hard time because he doesn’t act out like you do. He just withdraws.”

Sirius seemed to take the soft jab in stride and righted himself in the chair. “And you reckon that’s what he’s doing now?”

“Perhaps… He wants to be helpful and solve everyone else’s problems while ignoring his own. By stepping back, he probably thinks he is helping us by giving us space to adjust to each other,” Remus explained.

Sirius sighed and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. “Well, in my admittedly fucked up view of the world at present and having only known Prongslet for three months, he seemed alright to me. He seemed like he was really opening up over the weekend and then yesterday, he and I sat and chatted a fair bit, about more than just you or me or Teddy for once. He seems to be a right mix of Prongs and Lils with a good bit of Moony rubbed off on him as well.” He quirked a smirk at Remus. “Shame I didn’t know him growing up.”

“I have only known him since he was thirteen,” Remus argued. It really didn’t feel like just five years. “He’d already developed a good bit before I had any influence over him.”

“I think you did alright, considering the shit that happened.” Sirius poked his head again and Remus glared up at him, earning a grin in return. “He said he’d come back by at some point today. Talk to him then if you’re so worried.”

Remus nodded and shifted his head away from Sirius’s abusing hand with a withering look that just made the man laugh at him. He wished he could move properly and settled for closing his eyes to avoid him. What Sirius said made a certain amount of sense though. Perhaps he hadn’t screwed up as badly as he thought he had with his godson.

The rest of the morning was spent allowing Sirius to help him with breakfast and then letting both him and Poppy examine his healing burns. Rather than the orange paste he had been subjected to so far, he was instead treated with a lotion made from essence of dittany and then the affected parts of his body were all wrapped in bandages. It was still rather restrictive but better than the paste which just got all over everything whenever he moved. At least now he could use his hands to a certain extent if he was careful and he could actually put some clothes on. Having slept off the worst of it along with his after-moon symptoms, he wanted to get up and move around but he was forbidden to do so by both his caregivers. Grumbling, he opted for grading papers he had asked Sirius to fetch him with the use of magic, animating the quill to write for him and levitating things around until Poppy got aggravated with him for doing even that. Bored out of his mind after that, he found himself just missing Teddy and worrying more about Harry. They were supposed to have gone to pick up his son but it seemed like that was highly unlikely now. Eventually, Sirius got him the CD player and they sat listening to music to distract them both until an unexpected visitor arrived late in the afternoon.

The curtain drew back though Remus didn’t look up immediately. He had his eyes closed while Sirius was singing along with Space Oddity . It was the scents that caught his attention. Heather, cedar and muggle cologne coupled with baby powder. Confused, he opened his eyes to find his father stepping closer to the bed with a nervous pale-haired baby in his arms. Sirius abruptly stopped singing when he noticed their visitors. The man’s face spread into a grin that he turned on Remus.

Despite knowing better, Remus immediately opened his arms to his little boy and Lyall carefully handed him over. He ignored Sirius and the grin on his face that said he’d had everything to do with this and his plan had come to fruition. He had often found it best to ignore that expression when it came up. He also ignored the ache in his arms and hands as he cuddled Teddy close to his chest and enjoyed the unique scent that was only his son.

“I would have come sooner,” Lyall was saying and Remus heard him take a seat beside the bed. “Sirius told me to hold off until you were in better condition.”

“I presume he has been in contact while I was sleeping then?” Remus finally looked to Sirius who had plastered innocence all over his face by then. Remus just stared at him before turning to his tad for explanation.

Lyall smiled and nodded. “He has called via floo several times, in fact. As soon as you were stable, apparently, some time late yesterday morning. I’d have come then but he told me you were just sleeping all day and wouldn’t be much for company.”

“I suppose he was right,” Remus answered, nuzzling Teddy’s hair again. It had shifted to tawny blonde to match his own now while tiny hands gripped his pajama shirt. Merlin, he had missed Teddy this week.

“So how are you feeling now, son?”

“I’m sore but I’ll be alright. I’ve hurt more after bad moons than currently,” Remus answered.

Lyall just rolled his eyes before making contact with the tired pair that matched his own. “That is hardly a comparison, Remus John.”

“That’s what I keep telling him,” Sirius chimed in. 

Remus looked to him and then back to his tad. “Now you’re both teaming up against me. That is hardly fair.”

“Perhaps if you didn’t downplay everything that ever happens to you, Moony, we wouldn’t have to.” Sirius just grinned at him. Remus just gave him a sour face and turned his attention back to Teddy.

“He has done it since he was a child,” Lyall assured Sirius with a shake of his head that Remus noticed through the corner of his eye.

“Sounds about right. He did it at school all the time, too.”

Remus muttered something in Welsh to Teddy about them both being mean to him that had Lyall laughing and Sirius just looking confused about what had happened. Remus smirked in satisfaction at one-upping Sirius even though his father understood him and commented back by wondering who was the more childish, the baby or his father. Remus just nuzzled Teddy’s hair again and did not deign his tad with a response, instead telling Teddy that apparently he was the only one in the room that actually loved him.

“How is it fair that you two can have a conversation without me while I am in the room?” Sirius complained. 

Lyall laughed more. “It is clear that my son is feeling far better than he typically is after a moon, despite everything, since he’s acting like a brat.”

“Moony? A brat? What did he say?!” Sirius demanded, turning to Lyall while Remus just groaned and tried to ignore them both. Teddy was starting to giggle in his arms in response to the laughter in the room.

“He is confiding in a six-month old rather than talking to us,” Lyall answered evasively. His sense of humor mirrored his son’s fairly well.

Though he wasn’t looking at Sirius, Remus could imagine the pout on his face from being denied an answer. He grinned at Teddy, who babbled happily at him between giggles. It felt so good having him in his arms again.

Chapter Text

Remus was dozing by the time Harry returned. Teddy was asleep on his chest, his father’s arms wrapped gently around him while he reclined. Lyall had gone for a walk with McGonagall just to get some air and give Remus some space. Sirius, on the other hand, had steadfastly refused to leave his side other than to use the bathroom or request food from the kitchen. He looked over his shoulder when he heard his godson approaching. The young man was in jeans and a sweater now, tennis shoes replacing his uniform boots. A backpack was slung over his shoulder, which he set down at the foot of the bed as he took a seat.

“He looks better than he did yesterday,” Harry commented.

“He has Teddy,” Sirius answered. It was as simple as that. Upon getting his son back, Remus had improved considerably. While his burns were still reluctant to properly heal given the nature of their magical interaction with Remus’s curse, the fact that Remus was happy again made a huge difference to his health.

“You go get him?” Harry asked as he looked around with a growing smile at all of the get-well gifts around the bed.

“His grandfather brought him once Re was up for visitors,” Sirius explained. He turned his attention to Harry who gestured at the collection of items curiously. “Students, mostly. Your girl charmed a bunch of fireworks into that card that nearly had Madam Pomfrey shooing me out like she used to when we were kids.”

“My… Ginny is not my girl!” Harry blushed redder than the hair of the young woman in question.

Sirius barked out a laugh. There had to be a story to that statement because he distinctly remembered both of them making eyes at each other when Harry had first visited. “Whatever you say, Prongslet.”

“It’s true!” Harry insisted, looking at Remus to avoid looking at Sirius anymore. Sirius just kept laughing. He’d almost gotten it under control when Remus muttered something that he thought meant “shut up” in Welsh without opening his eyes. Then he just lost it even further while Harry joined in at last.

“Much as I enjoy hearing your laughter of late, Sirius, you have an uncanny knack for choosing the most inopportune times to find something amusing,” Remus complained, his expression devoid of emotion and his tone flat.

“Well, Merlin forbid I bother his highness, Moony the Dry. Do go back to sleep, sire,” Sirius replied, bowing in his chair.

“Cau dy geg,” Remus groaned. It was the same thing he’d muttered before. Sirius just grinned at him. He knew that one. It was most definitely “shut up.” He found it far too funny that Remus was speaking more Welsh around him lately. Probably because of Teddy and the way he was trying to raise the kid to be bilingual. There were a few times when he spoke it before but it certainly was not as often as he resorted to it now.

Harry broke the amused silence that stretched between them, his tone indicating his own enjoyment of the situation despite opting not to join in on the sass. Sirius had learned yesterday that the young man had quite the sense of humor himself and had found himself on the receiving end of some of it while being regaled stories of the boy’s exploits as they swapped tales of Hogwarts at Remus’s bedside. “How are you doing, Remus?”

Remus seemed to consider the question before he answered. For once, it seemed like the man was being honest rather than trying to brush everything off. “Physically, I’m fine. The burns are annoying more than painful at this point. I’m tired but that is fairly typical after a moon or getting hurt… In my case, both.” He offered Harry a faint smile before he went on. “It’s nice to be recognized by the students at long last. I hadn’t really realized how much it was bothering me until now.”

Sirius reached out and put his hand on Remus’s ankle, the man’s lower legs not affected by the burns. He got a smile cast his way before Remus looked again at Harry.

“Do you know anything about who sent the silver?” Remus asked calmly.

Harry frowned and sat back, crossing his arms. “The trail went to a dead end for now. The owl was a post office owl sent out of Chester. With no return address and no real security in the post office to monitor who sends what with which owl, we’re stuck on that front.”

Sirius felt his hands fisting and forced himself to relax, namely so as not to hurt Remus where his right hand was resting on the blankets over his leg.

“So what is your next step?” Remus asked, still calm.

“Getting security measures required and implemented at post offices is one,” Harry answered with a frown. “Not really within our jurisdiction to do that though aside from some strongly worded suggestions to the right offices. A team is working on the silver itself to see if that can be traced or identified somehow.”

That was an interesting idea. Sirius wasn’t sure how it could be done but he was glad that the aurors weren’t just calling it quits after hitting a snag. 

“Perhaps chips from the grinding or impurities within it could track it back to a manufacturer. Or even traces of magic used on it could lead back to the caster.” Remus appeared to be thinking out loud but Harry was clearly impressed and was nodding along with him.

“I don’t know how to do any of that. Hermione probably could.” Harry laughed briefly. “She was always the whiz at magic while I just bumbled along.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Harry. You are a phenomenal wizard in your own right,” Remus answered with a small smile at long last. Harry returned it with a shrug.

Changing the subject after an awkward pause, Harry sat back in his chair and looked at both Remus and Sirius. “So will you be out of here for the game tomorrow?”

To his merit, Remus didn’t groan like Sirius expected him to. Instead, he just answered in his typical dry manner. “Ask my renowned healer over here. I have been informed that I am unaware of my own limitations and should not be allowed to make such decisions for myself.”

Harry all but snorted a laugh at that and looked to Sirius. “Well, ‘renowned healer,’ what’s your verdict then?”

“Yes, please do tell,” Remus chimed in.

“You’re acting enough of an ass to make me think that you’d have already talked Madam Pomfrey out of keeping you here if we were teenagers,” Sirius answered. Remus gave an innocent smile that suggested he knew nothing of what Sirius was talking about. Sirius smirked at him before going on.

“I would say that if your burns are looking better come morning and you can make it an hour or two without the antihistamines, then we can probably go to the game and then you can rest up in your own bed. You did say you wanted to take Mini-Moony.”

“I did, didn’t I?” Remus answered noncommittally. He looked at the baby asleep on his chest and smiled properly. Sirius had missed seeing that smile. And, until he was back, he hadn’t realized how much he had missed Teddy, too. The little boy had smoothly and immediately ingrained himself into Sirius’s heart without him even noticing when it happened. The only reason he hadn’t stolen cuddles already was the fact that Teddy was too busy being cuddled by his tada to be snagged by Sirius or Lyall once Remus had gotten ahold of him.

Chapter Text

Remus was completely sick of taking potions. He’d been dosed up on antihistamines to keep his burns from flaring up into a reaction to the silver that caused them, drinking some foul tasting concoction every half hour. Sirius had opted for trying to lengthen the time between them with some success but he still needed to take it every couple of hours by the end of the night. True to his word, though, Sirius had convinced Poppy to let him go back to his own bed in light of that improvement, earlier than he’s promised in fact. Harry was staying with them but had taken some time to go and visit with his friends after checking that Remus was alright. He returned some time after dark and ducked his head into the room to say goodnight but otherwise kept to himself.

“Are you sure he’s alright?” Remus asked softly.

Sirius sighed and took the book that Remus was levitating in front of him and set it aside. “You know him better than I do, Moony, but yeah, I reckon he’s fine. Just dealing with stress like the rest of us. The kid’s an auror and his godfather just got attacked. I’d be more concerned if he wasn’t stressed by that.”

Remus eyed the book that had been taken away and then the cup Sirius was offering him. He took it gingerly in both hands and sipped at it, making a face. There was more than there had been until now and he raised an eyebrow questioningly at Sirius.

“Unless you want to be woken up every two hours, I’m giving you more so you can sleep,” Sirius answered, waiting to take the cup back. “Perhaps you like the idea of unsightly rashes though.”

Remus rolled his eyes and finished the potion. Then he shifted to lay down rather than recline on the pillows as he had been. Sirius joined him after checking on Teddy sleeping across the room in his cot. 

“If you’re so worried, talk to him tomorrow. I’ll even take Mini-Moony and give you some space.”

Remus offered him a genuine smile and nodded. Then he lifted a still bandaged hand and covered his mouth while he yawned. The potion made him drowsy in its normal doses but as much as Sirius had just given him was almost like taking a sleeping draught. He vaguely recalled Sirius pulling him closer, being careful not to aggravate his burns, and then he fell asleep with his head on his partner’s shoulder and gentle, elegant fingers playing with his hair.

He was dreaming about Dora when Teddy’s crying woke him up. She’d been dancing in the rain, her robes clinging to show her slight baby bump, and a wide smile on her face as she beckoned Remus to join her. He’d returned the smile and gone to take her hand when their son brought him back to the waking world. It took a moment to realize that it wasn’t her arms around him, her muttered complaints at being woken up, her soft scent filling his nose from where his face was pressed against a firm shoulder. 

“I’ll get him,” Sirius mumbled before disentangling himself from around Remus. Then the warmth at his side was gone and he could hear the man padding across the plush rug to Teddy’s cot in the corner. The tip of Sirius’s wand silently lit up on the other side of the room. Remus sighed as reality settled in and shifted how he was laying, opening his eyes to look across at Sirius and Teddy.

The grizzling baby was trying and failing to find a handhold on Sirius’s bare shoulder while the man was gently rubbing his gums and smiling at him. Remus watched in amazement at the way Sirius was handling the infant, astounded by just how natural he was with children. He’d always been good with them, not just Harry but their friends’ children as well, and Remus found himself feeling guilty that he’d never really allowed the idea of raising a child with him enter the conversation. They always fought about it. It was clear now just how much Sirius wanted to be a parent from the way he actively took care of Teddy without even needing to be asked.

“Don’t worry, Mini-Moony. Those pesky teeth will be done coming in soon. Then just think of all the yummy stuff you can eat. No more squishy gunk. You can eat real food soon.” Sirius kept talking to Teddy while he comforted him, rocking him gently while soothing his aching mouth. When he finally settled and rested his head, Sirius hugged him and smiled. “It’s okay, little pup. Daddy’s got you.”

Sirius sounded tired and Remus was almost certain those words had just slipped out without thinking but hearing them was as surreal as it was heartwarming. He just stared at Sirius while he put Teddy back down to sleep again and then came back to bed.

“He’s alright,” Sirius told him as he got comfortable. The wandlight went out and almost immediately, he was touching Remus, his arm resting gently across his shoulders while Remus laid on his back. Remus heard him sigh contentedly but then, with no answer forthcoming, he shifted and spoke again, his voice sounding worried now. His wand lit up again.

“You okay, Re?”

“You really do love him, don’t you?”

“Who? Teddy? Yeah, of course I do. Where is this coming from, Re?” Sirius leaned up on one elbow and looked down at Remus, both curiosity and worry etched into his handsome features. Remus stared up at him, searching his brilliant grey eyes for some hint of deception, anything to indicate that he was just saying that because it was what he thought Remus wanted to hear. Sirius looked sincere, though.

“You said ‘daddy’s got you’ when you hugged him,” Remus whispered.

Sirius blushed and averted his eyes. “I guess I did, didn’t I? Sorry. I know you’re his dad and all. And Dora’s his mum and I’m not trying to replace her or anything. It slipped out.” He looked again at Remus, frowning now, and repeated himself. “Sorry.”

Remus just smiled at him. That Sirius could see past the constant reminder that Remus had done exactly the thing he’d always denied him in having a child with Dora and love the little boy anyway was absolutely mindblowing. That Sirius still honored the boy’s mother despite having admitted to hurt feelings over learning about what had happened in his absence brought Remus almost to tears. He had no words to express just how much he loved this man for being so patient and understanding. Instead, he brought up a hand to tangle in Sirius’s hair and pulled him down, wishing his fingers weren’t so stiff and that he could actually feel the silky strands through the light bandages. Sirius gasped into the abrupt kiss before shifting to better support himself and respond in kind. He was smiling again when their lips parted.

Chapter Text

The cheer that erupted in the Great Hall when Sirius entered with Remus for breakfast was deafening. Every student and teacher in the room was on their feet clapping, some of the seventh and eighth years were shooting off sparks with their wands and a color changing banner above the staff table read, “Welcome back, Professor Lupin!”

Remus looked at him and he held up his hands. “Don’t look at me. I had nothing to do with this.”

Unable to hold in a smile, Remus shook his head. “Somehow I don’t believe you even though I know that you were with me the entire time.”

Harry laughed at his side and bounced Teddy on his hip. “You actually have Ginny and Hermione to blame for the banner. Well, me too.”

“Is that what you snuck off to do, Prongslet?” Sirius asked, rounding on the young man with a wide grin.

“Partly,” Harry answered, still grinning. He took the lead up to the staff table, prompting Remus and Sirius to follow him. Once they were seated, everyone else sat down and the applause subsided. Several people waved and smiled when Remus, slightly flushed for all the attention, looked around though.

Harry told them how he’d spent most of the evening in the Gryffindor Common Room. Ginny had apparently wanted to do something for Remus after hearing from Harry that he’d been released from the Hospital Wing and then Hermione had told him about what they’d done for Remus on their first day after the article was published that outed him to the student body. Harry had told them both about what the gifts and cards had meant to Remus and Ginny had decided to go big and public. They’d spent the rest of the evening making the banner and then sneaking into the Great Hall to put it up before morning.

“Prongs would be proud!” Sirius announced with a wide grin. 

“Yes, yes he would,” Remus admitted, shaking his head but smiling all the same.

“Shouldn’t you be deducting house points, Professor Lupin?” McGonagall asked, clearly having overheard the story and fighting a smile.

Remus shrugged and regarded her with a calm smile. “I don’t see why I should, Professor McGonagall. Nobody saw the students put up the banner nor were they caught out of bed after curfew. Since Harry is no longer a student, it is hardly fair to punish his former house for his infraction. And with no evidence outside of the banner itself and Harry’s story, I don’t see it fair to punish anyone.”

Sirius had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing at Moony’s succinct rebuttal. Harry was looking particularly smug beside him. There was no conceivable argument that McGonagall could make and the Marauder smirk now spreading on Remus’s face told him that the man was well aware of that fact himself.

McGonagall quirked a small smile at Remus and then looked to Harry. “Now, Potter, I’ll not have you instigating any more shenanigans during your stay.”

Harry gave her the best sarcastic smile Sirius had ever seen and nodded his head once, a twinkle in his eyes. “Of course, Professor. Wouldn’t dream of it.”

McGonagall accepted the answer with as dubious a smile as she had ever given the Marauders and turned back to her meal. Sirius broke into a grin and elbowed Harry gently. 

“Damn, Prongslet.”

Harry rubbed his ribs and grinned back at his godfather.

“You are lucky she likes you, Harry,” Remus told him, his voice shaking in an attempt to hold back laughter.

“Like you’re one to talk, Remus,” Harry countered.

“Touche, I suppose.”

Sirius couldn’t hold back any more and burst into laughter that the others soon joined in. Teddy was giggling in Harry’s lap as a result. The rest of breakfast turned to talk of quidditch and even though Remus stayed fairly quiet, Sirius watched him for signs of irritation and was met only with smiles. He seemed as if he was just happy to be up and out of bed. The smiles only fell when owls fluttered into the Hall with the morning mail. Both looked dubiously up at the windows but no owls came their way.

“Alright, Prongslet, explain,” Sirius ordered, turning to the young man who was smiling at them both. The young man had to have had something to do with this. Come to think of it, they hadn’t gotten any mail at all since Thursday.

“I worked with some of my colleagues to put some safety checks into place here at Hogwarts. Professor McGonagall was quite pleased to work with me. All mail is checked for harmful substances and kept for pick up rather than direct delivery to the recipient. That’s most likely to affect Professor Slughorn but he agreed that such deliveries are probably best not dropped on the breakfast table anyway. Anything mailed to you specifically that you aren’t expecting is held to verify it isn’t hate mail. If it is, it won’t even make it to you. If it isn’t, it’ll be delivered later in the day with a school owl,” Harry explained.

“And how will they know whether I am expecting something?” Remus asked calmly.

“Either you tell the owlery caretaker something is coming or it will come from a recognized owl like Albus or your dad’s or Andi’s or one of the Weasleys’ owls,” Harry answered with a shrug. Then he grinned. “That said, Albus usually tracks you down instead of waiting for the windows in here to open.”

“He does have a tendency to do that, yes,” Remus agreed with a smile. “He is quite the rebellious little owl.”

Harry just grinned wider. “I’ll make sure he checks in first but no promises as to whether he waits around to come find you.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “Something to look forward to, I’m sure.”

“Better than dreading the mail delivery every morning, Moony,” Sirius chimed in, grinning as widely as Harry. The idea was brilliant and it meant one less thing to stress Remus out. He may have smiled and brushed it off each morning with dry jokes when Sirius took the most of mail without letting him see it but he knew how much it really was affecting him, no matter how hard he tried to hide it. “Though I will miss casting incendio on them all.”

“I am sure we can find something else for you to set on fire, Pads. In fact, Seamus Finnegan can probably assist you in that regard,” Remus answered, shaking his head.

“He’s still doing that?” Harry asked, laughing.

“Oh yes. More intentional than he used to but he does still rather enjoy setting things alight,” Remus answered with a sigh.

Further conversation was cut off by the Slytherin and Gryffindor quidditch teams, all seated together on opposite sides of the room, abruptly rose to get ready for the game that would be starting within the hour. The rest of the students took that as their cue to exit as well. As excited as he once remembered being by quidditch in his youth, Sirius rose to join them, offering Remus his hand. Remus smiled up at him with a roll of his eyes and grasped his arm lightly. Sirius supported him by his elbow as he helped him up and then shifted to put an arm around his waist. Harry stood with Teddy beside them, beaming.

“Ready for your first quidditch game, Teddy?” he asked of the baby while Sirius lead the way out with Remus at his side. Teddy babbled back at him cheerily. By the time they found their seats in the stands, the baby’s hat and scarf had been transfigured into Gryffindor colors along with Harry’s own. The young man himself was grinning as he settled with his friends and family to watch the game.

“I trust you will change his things back to their original color when this is all over?” Remus asked in exasperation.

“Of course,” Harry answered innocently.

“What will you do when it’s Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff?” Remus asked.

“Gryffindor is the obvious choice here, Moony,” Sirius answered matter-of-factly.

“His mami would have something else to say about that.” The man’s tone was calm, surprisingly. When Sirius looked at him, he was smiling. Harry seemed just as unsure of how to take that comment as well, opting to just smile at him.

“So you’re telling me you married a Hufflepuff?” Sirius asked, taking a risk and hoping he’d gauged Remus’s mood correctly.

“I did,” Remus answered with a shrug, continuing to smile.

“May the wonders never cease,” Sirius answered in mock awe.

“This coming from the only Black not in Slytherin?” Remus raised an eyebrow at him.

“The very one.” Sirius grinned at him and Remus shook his head. Then his attention was drawn by the wild cheers of the crowd around them as the two teams entered the pitch below. He made a point to strengthen the muffling charm on Teddy before joining in with the cheering alongside his godson. Remus just sat back with a bemused smile on his face.

Sirius watched as Ginny and the Slytherin captain, a younger boy with a stocky frame that Madam Hooch addressed as Urquhart, shook hands. From his number, it was clear he played as a chaser. The rest of the teams were spread behind them, all looking excited and eager to be playing. Sirius had learned that quidditch had been cancelled the previous year so any of the former players till on the team were clearly itching for some action. Then Madam Hooch blew her whistle and all fourteen players took to the sky and the game was on. Remus pointed out the players’ names when Harry couldn’t identify them but otherwise stayed quiet and offered soft calls of encouragement when Gryffindor scored goals since he couldn’t clap. Sirius on the other hand, made more than enough noise for them both and was out of his seat yelling and cheering with the rest of the team’s supporters. Teddy eventually found his way into Remus’s lap so that Harry could join him.

“Quite the raucous lot, aren’t they?” Remus asked of the little boy as he hugged him.

“You love it, Moony!” Sirius answered, grinning at him.

“I most certainly do not,” Remus countered. The smile he gave Sirius told otherwise so Sirius just kept grinning at him and cheering along with the game. He hadn’t been this excited for quidditch since 1973 when James made the team some twenty-five years ago. The thick Irish accent and amusing commentary of the announcer, identified by Harry as the Seamus Finnegan Remus had mentioned earlier, just made it even more amusing.

About half an hour into the match, the two seekers, who had been circling around in opposite directions above and below the main play of the game until that point, suddenly shifted their flight patterns and started diving in together towards an unseen target. The Slytherin team was ahead by forty points at that time so if the green-clad Jerrin Harper caught it, it would be game over for Gryffindor. If the red-clad seeker, a second year named Fiona Blake, caught it, they’d have the game. Amidst the rush of the two seekers, a wild cheer erupted as Gryffindor scored two successive goals and brought the race to the finish that much closer. Just twenty points difference now. A bludger came flying at Harper, throwing the boy off course but in the chaos of his swerve, Blake lost sight of the snitch and it was back to the head to head match of goal making until it showed up again.

The snitch showed up again about ten minutes later. Gryffindor had made up their points and the game was tied but for that finishing ball. Sirius grinned as even Remus seemed to brighten and pointed to the little gold ball hovering just feet from them. “Look, Teddy. The snitch has come to see us, it seems.”

Teddy looked where his father was pointing and reached for it. The crowd around them seemed to notice and, drawn by their sudden excitement, Blake came hurtling towards the stands with her hand outstretched. As if sensing its own impending doom, the snitch flitted away before she could get and then the chase was on between both seekers once again. Teddy giggled and clapped his hands as the two speeding players left a rush of chilled air in their wake that blew his crimson and gold scarf about his face.

It took another hour for the game to finally come to a close. Slytherin had taken a huge lead by then after a well aimed bludger had taken Ginny out of the game followed by the Gryffindor keeper, fourth year Damien Phelps. Harry had cheered louder than almost anyone around Sirius when Ritchie Coote shot both bludgers back at the Slytherin beaters and managed to knock one of them out on impact; a built-in slow fall charm on the girl’s broom sank her safely to the ground where Madam Pomfrey took her into the medic tent where Ginny stood holding her right arm and yelling encouragement to her team and taunts to the Slytherins while her keeper sat holding his stomach and looking kind of pale. With an over one-hundred point lead and the two beaters of Gryffindor standing in to protect the goal as best they could since they weren’t allowed to actually block the quaffle, only the players, Slytherin had been able to dominate the rest of the match even short one beater. It came down to the snitch. Gryffindor had only one chance to win and their supporters watched with bated breath as the two seekers took up chase one last time. The snitch had gone high this time, well above the playing area. Both seekers tried to drive the other off course as they chased it ever higher, amounting in a double helix flight pattern that had the entire audience in awe. Then the snitch, which no-one but the two players chasing it could even see from this distance, apparently doubled back towards the ground. Blake performed a spectacular back-flip and followed it down, hand outstretched. Her fist closed just as Harper knocked her aside into a tumble but it was too late. She righted herself, fist held high, as Madam Hooch’s shrill whistle called the game.

“And Gryffindor have done it! When it looked like Slytherin would take the match, Gryffindor Seeker Fiona Blake has caught the snitch and awarded one-hundred-fifty points to Gryffindor, ending the game at two-hundred-thirty to two-hundred-twenty! What a game!” Seamus’s booming voice was so thick with excitement that it made his accent a little hard to understand over the roar of the crowd.

Even Remus was grinning when the two seekers locked arms in the air and nodded to one another. Sirius had never thought he would see it but the two teams, instead of jeering at one another and the snakes acting like sore losers, were congratulating one another amidst the Gyrffindors doing victory laps around the stadium.

“Looks like McGonagall’s whole unity thing is paying off,” Sirius commented as he scooped Teddy out of Remus’s lap and bounced him in something of a victory dance. Remus laughed as the little boy waved his arms and babbled at Sirius. Around them, the entire school was going mental in their cheering and reaching hands up to high-five the players now flying overhead.

As the excitement began to die down and the players finally landed, Harry stood and looked at both his godfathers. “I’m gonna go check on Ginny,” he announced. “And the others,” he amended when Sirius smirked at him. He scrambled his way down the steps to avoid the man’s jibes while Sirius just laughed.

“Not his girl, my ass.”

Remus stood carefully and smiled, putting an arm around Sirius’s shoulders both in camaraderie and an attempt to help himself remain upright; he looked a little shaky on his feet so Sirius took it slow as they walked. “He and Ginny were dating in sixth year but he broke it off when it became apparent that he had to go after Voldemort personally,” he explained softly.

Sirius looked at him, a whole new understanding of his godson coming to light with those words. He couldn’t imagine giving Remus up because of the war. In fact, he had held on tighter and even pseudo-proposed to him because of it. That Harry had instead decided to leave her behind to keep her safe gave him a whole new level of respect for the young man while also lending to explain some of his behavior and what made Remus worry about him. If that wasn’t reclusive behavior, he didn’t know what was.

“I don’t think either of them ever got over it. They were as thick as James and Lily ever were and certainly bickered like those two used to. He told me he sometimes watched her on the map while he was away just to make sure she was alright,” Remus continued as they climbed down the stairs. “Just don’t tell him I told you that. He was embarrassed to admit it.”

Sirius shook his head. “Right. Secret safe with me.” Then a mischievous light took his eyes. “Wanna make a bet?”

“We are not betting on our godson,” Remus answered with an exasperated sigh.

“C’mon, Moony. A galleon says they’re together again by Christmas.” Sirius gave him his trademark grin.

Remus groaned. “Fine… But I will wager that they are dating again before that.”

“Oh?” Sirius’s grin shifted to a smirk. “I think you know something I don’t know.”

“So what if I do? You made this wager. You never said I had to share my knowledge of the situation.” Remus’s expression was flat and his tone dry but his emerald green eyes were alight with the smirk he was keeping from his lips.

“Fair, fair. So give me a timeframe or it’s invalid,” Sirius insisted, going along with the game now that Remus was fully participating.

“By tomorrow night when he leaves, I will wager two galleons that Harry and Ginny are an item again,” Remus answered calmly.

Sirius’s eyes went wide as Remus upped the stakes. “Oh, you are on, Professor Lupin!” He shifted to hold Teddy in one arm and offered his free hand to Remus. Remus nodded and shook it looking as if he knew something that Sirius didn’t. Sirius just grinned at him.

Chapter Text

His entire life, Remus had lived with the stigma of his curse. As a child, he had always wondered why he could never keep friends. His family always moved before anyone could ask more than a few times why he was sick so often. Tiny Remus learned quickly that he needed to keep secrets from the people he cared about and his parents worried that someone would figure out that secret or their primary school aged son would inadvertently let it slip. Of course, there were times when the secret had come into the open. Muggle children thought nothing of werewolf stories and he had, once upon a time, thought he could get away with his friends at school finding out, even if it was by accident. Wizard children, though, knew to be rightfully scared. The first time a young wizard had found out, Remus learned just what his parents were so worried about.

A little girl named Sara in his class made a joke that Remus seemed to be sick around the full moon and suggested maybe he was a werewolf. A little boy, David, had playfully howled and the entire group had went about giggling and howling. Nervous but encouraged, six-year old Remus had howled with them and tried to play along with the game. Nothing came of it at first and the school day went on like normal after the fun they’d shared on the playground. The next day, David was withdrawn from school and Remus’s parents received a letter in the mail that they wouldn’t talk to their son about. A week later, they had moved house and Remus started a new school in a new town.

The next time his affliction came up as a suggestion in jest, Remus was seven. By then, the monthly toll of his change was more apparent on his young body. He already had scars from the growing wolf’s frustrations at being locked in a warded cellar each full moon. This time, he was the one receiving a letter, found on his desk the next day accompanied by sharp looks across the classroom. The letter said one word: “Monster.” When he’d shown it to his parents, they took him out of school the very next day and they moved again.

As he got older, the moving happened more regularly. Children or their families inevitably suspected or figured out what he was and harsher words than “monster” were thrown his way more times than he could count. Muggles even got suspicious of his battered appearance and, while not jumping to the same conclusion, it was just as disheartening for Remus to be called into the headmaster’s office at school to talk to people who suspected his parents of abusing him. By the time Remus was nine, his parents had pulled him out of school entirely and Lyall had taken to teaching him at home. By then, Remus had become very reclusive and preferred to lose himself in books about people who went on adventures to battle magnificent foes to save their homes and families. It was a distraction from the monthly battle he fought with himself. How could he save the people he loved when the monster was him?

When Remus was eleven and had long since given up any hope of ever joining the young witches and wizards who had scorned him through his youth, Dumbeldore had shown up on his doorstep and, despite his parents trying to fob him off, the young boy had found himself playing gobstones with the headmaster of Hogwarts himself and being offered a place at the school as if he was a normal little boy and not a danger to the people entrusted with his care. Remus was almost positive that had he not spent seven mostly blissful years at Hogwarts with his peers, he would not even be alive today. The three people he worried most about learning his affliction had opened their arms and hearts to him instead of shunning him as everyone before them. Remus learned how to be human and how to open up to people again in a way he hadn’t done since he was a small child. He almost forgot what he was.

Life after Hogwarts brought it all back into focus. The war forced him to embrace his inner monster and after taking absolutely everything he loved with it, that monster was all that was left. He deserved the abuse offered him by society. Even after meeting Harry again some twelve years after losing it all and then loving and being loved by Dora for everything he was, Remus still had a hard time putting the hatred aside. Even after taking back his position as a teacher and working so hard to dispel the myths about werewolves with the children in his care, he felt like a hypocrite. It all felt superficial, like they were just humoring him and didn’t really believe any of it. He certainly didn’t. He hadn’t lived thirty-five years as a werewolf and braved the loathing that came with it without internalizing it all. How he had even managed to live so long was still a mystery to him at times. Most bitten children didn’t last into adulthood. Of course, most bitten children didn’t have a family that saw past the curse even when they couldn’t. Still, when the attempt on his life came with the owl post, it seemed like fate had just caught up to him and laughed in his face for even attempting to make people see beyond the monster.

Then the students started visiting him in the Hospital Wing. They left gifts. Every time he woke up, there were more. The office-turned-living-room of their suite was filled with more chocolate than he could ever feasibly consume, cards hung from every wall and every window space available was filled with flowers. The bed had a small collection of new stuffed animals to keep Lucky company and Remus had decided that all of them could eventually go to Teddy. It felt like, maybe, just maybe, something he had done really had made a difference. He’d gone to bed with a smile when he was finally released back to his own quarters to rest.

How Remus had not been moved to tears with the literal standing ovation upon his entrance to the Great Hall the next day was beyond him. He thought later that perhaps he was just so overwhelmed that he just couldn’t process it fully. For the first time in his life, he was fully accepted by those around him regardless of the curse. He wasn’t seen as the horrific monster; he was seen as the compassionate teacher. He wasn’t the wolf; he was Remus.

It was in that dazed happiness of acceptance that Sirius left him the following morning, taking Teddy for a walk around the school grounds, map in hand and a mischievous grin on his face. He’d tended to the bandages and copious amounts of treatment still to be had for Remus’s burns but seemed satisfied with how things were progressing. Remus could get away without bandages on his fingers now even though his palms were still bound; it made things slightly easier and he reveled in being able to actually touch Sirius again before he disappeared uncharacteristically early. He was far more capable of staying awake now and felt like, if he took it easy, he’d be able to teach again on Monday when classes resumed. Harry, hair sleep mussed and glasses slightly askew looking ever so much like James, found him sipping on hot chocolate with a book levitating above his bent knees while he sat sideways on the couch.

“Good morning, Remus,” the young man greeted with a yawn, looking about.

“Good morning, Harry. Sirius left already. Going to reap havoc somewhere with my son,” Remus answered his unspoken inquiry.

Harry chuckled and nodded, crossing to partake in the small breakfast spread still setup on the table. He used his wand to reheat the kettle and then poured himself some hot chocolate as well. “Have you got any plans?”

“Other than cleaning up whatever mess he makes?” Remus smirked. “No, just resting and marking papers. Lessons are going to be a mess of catching up for two days missed.”

Harry sank onto the couch beside him with a plate in hand. “I can imagine. So glad I never had an inkling to get into teaching.”

“By all accounts, you were good at it,” Remus answered. He’d heard many a story of Harry’s foray into teaching from the DA members he knew; he still taught most of them.

“I was just teaching like you used to,” Harry replied with a sheepish smile before taking a bite of his toast.

“And I teach like my father taught me.” Remus shrugged and sipped at his chocolate, brushing the book aside with a gentle wave of his hand. It settled on the coffee table neatly.

Harry nodded around his food then replied. “I met him on Friday before he went back home. Seemed like a nice guy. You never talk about him though.”

Remus smiled faintly. They never talked about much of anything lately but he supposed that was the point of Sirius buggering off to do Merlin knew what so early in the morning. He had promised to give the two of them some time to talk without interruptions or distractions.

“Our relationship got somewhat strained after the war lulled in ‘81. I was in a dark place and he was powerless to do anything about it, having just lost my mam. It took him a year to get through to me and then I just ran...” Remus had gotten that horrific news upon his return from working undercover with the northern packs in early summer just before Harry’s first birthday and it had lead to another one of far too many fights with Sirius because of his frazzled nerves and tendency to just run away from his feelings. They’d eventually made up after the persistent mutt wrangled his way through the walls and got the truth out of him. And Harry didn’t need to know the finer points of what he had done to himself for twelve years, especially that first year. Nobody needed to know that. 

Harry made a little “oh” motion with his lips and continued eating after a pause. Remus sighed but then offered him a small smile. “We’re working to build things up to what they used to be. We were once very close, until I pushed him away.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re working things out now, at least.” Harry returned the small smile and then sat back against the cushions and went quiet. For all Remus had wanted to talk to him, this was getting incredibly awkward. They used to be able to talk so easily. Harry would just spill everything bothering in one long Prongs-esque rant and then they would work through it bit by bit to process. Now he thought about it, though, since May, that sort of talk hadn't really happened. Harry had been more open than he was now about things but it was obvious he was keeping other things inside. He’d spoken more about dealing with the friends he’d lost and helping those left behind to cope. He’d talked more about trying to help Ron with the loss of his brother than anything and while Remus had been happy to offer what he could in the haze of his grief, he realized now that Harry hadn’t said much of anything about his own feelings about any of what had happened. Listening to him talk about his parents at Halloween had been the first time Harry had even mentioned what he had done in solitude that night. Until then, Remus had just known that he had somehow made his way into the forest, faked his own death, and then defeated Voldemort in combat using the same move he always did despite much harsh criticism otherwise. The story he told of seeing his parents made Remus rethink what he thought he knew about the situation entirely. He decided to just take the leap and see what happened.

“When you said on Saturday that you were okay, were you just trying to appease your mum and dad or are you really okay?”

“Blimey, that’s a bit of a loaded question, isn’t it?” Harry replied after a long pause. He folded his arms and looked at his godfather, setting aside the plate and mug.

Remus just smiled gently at him over his own mug. “I’m aware.” That gave him answer enough as it was. Harry wasn’t really okay but he was putting on a strong front because that’s what everyone always expected him to do. He was the Savior, the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived. Remus had seen behind that mask before the height of the rekindled war and he hoped that it wasn’t too late to see behind it again.

“So how do you expect me to answer it?”

Remus set his mug aside with Harry’s and rested his wrists gently on his knees bent before him. “Truthfully, I would hope.”

The deadpan look and tone got Harry to laugh after a moment of trying to hold fast to his ire. Then the young man shifted to sit more comfortably, drawing up his own knees and facing Remus on the sofa. What followed was more reminiscent of the way Harry used to unload before that fateful argument at the wedding. He told Remus of everything he’d done to get the horcruxes in order, following clues that Remus himself had even been able to help with beforehand, fighting and then making up with Ron and eventually making his way to Hogwarts for the final showdown. The way he talked about it all was more like a factual narrative than anything but it was a start. Remus asked him questions from time to time but largely let him talk until his story petered out with the short reunion they’d shared at the beginning of the battle that changed the wizarding world forever. Harry’s eyes glossed over at that point and Remus casually summoned one of the many boxes of chocolate littering the room and settled it on the couch between them. It was nigh impossible for him to think about that day as well.

“You’ve told me enough to glean an inkling of an answer to the question I asked you,” Remus told him softly, nudging the box towards Harry with his foot after taking a piece for himself. He held his own loosely in his hand but was heartened to see Harry take the hint and stick a Malteaser in his mouth quietly.

“You don’t have to be okay. You know that, right, Harry?”

A tiny smile quirked Harry’s lips and he nodded. “Yeah. Everyone keeps telling me that. Mrs. Weasley coddles the heck out of me when I go round the Burrow. That’s why I moved out on my own in the end. I’d have come to stay with you but… Well, you had your own stuff to work through.”

“I’d have welcomed you with open arms, Harry. I still will if that is what you want to do.” 

Harry looked as if he was considering that for a while and then shook his head. “No. I mean, it’s lonely and all but I have work most of the time. It’s a lot of flippin’ mess to tidy up after Voldemort. Always busy.”

“I’m sure Minerva would understand if you spent more time here,” Remus told him. He didn’t add that Ginny would certainly appreciate it but he could see from Harry’s growing smile that he was thinking it. “You’re my godson and while you may be of age to be classified as an adult, you will always have a home with me. I know full well that being eighteen and alone in the world is a rather terrifying prospect even without the massive amount of trauma you have been through.”

“Trauma…” Harry repeated. “I suppose that is what it is, isn’t it? Nothing that has ever happened to me could really be considered normal, could it?”

“Not especially, no,” Remus agreed softly, watching the young man and trying to gauge his response. He was somewhat surprised when Harry laughed.

“Right bloody mess, aren’t we? You, me, Sirius.” 

“The thought has crossed my mind, yes,” Remus admitted with a wry smirk. Harry laughed again and shook his head before taking another chocolate. Remus watched him a moment before pressing on.

“Tell me honestly, how are you coping with everything?”

Harry gave him another one of those almost scathing looks that had accompanied his first complaint about the questions but then leaned his head back and groaned at the ceiling. When he answered, he was still staring upwards and Remus couldn’t tell whether or not he was actually looking at anything or if he’d closed his eyes. “Most of the time, I’m fine. I wasn’t lying when I said that to my parents.”

“And the other times?” Remus pressed gently after a moment, watching him.

“It’s not like you can do anything about it,” Harry answered evasively.

“Harry…”

Harry groaned again but went on begrudgingly, still not looking at him. “Fine. Sometimes it’s hard to sleep so I’ve been taking invigoration draughts when I have to work the next day. About the only thing I can brew on my own, you know? I’ve even taken sleeping draughts if I don’t have to be up early the next day but I have to buy those so I don’t do it as often.”

Remus rested his chin on his forearms gently. “I’m not judging you.”

“No cautionary nagging about overusing the potions or trying to smother me to hug out whatever is bothering me?” Harry lifted his head and was met with a gentle smile from Remus who just shook his head slightly.

“No. If trouble sleeping is the worst you are dealing with, I’m genuinely relieved.”

Harry watched him a moment before sighing and putting his head down on his knees. “It’s not, but usually I just focus on work and suck it up. If I’m busy, I’m usually fine.”

“Sirius is the same.”

“It’s a lot, you know? I died. Or it seemed like I died. I don’t even know if I really did die or if I just hallucinated a load of bollocks when the curse hit me and left Voldemort’s horcrux to take the brunt of it while I was out cold. The only person even there when I woke up was Malfoy’s mum and I didn’t exactly ask her if my heart stopped or how long I was on the ground before I decided to go along with the ruse and pretend to actually be dead. But I went into it expecting to die. I accepted it and Mum and Dad accepted it and walked me through it and I knew what was going to happen and that I had to just let it happen.” Harry lifted his head and Remus wasn’t sure he could really read the expression in his bright emerald eyes. “How the bloody hell am I supposed to be coping with walking to my own death because some bloody prophecy said I had to before I was even born?! I was terrified! I still am terrified! And it’s not like I can even talk to anyone about it! How many people have genuinely thought they were going to die and just let it happen?!”

The rant that started as a typical ramble ended in rather explosive anger that Remus just took as it came. Harry’s eyes were glistening as if he was about to cry angry tears and he was glaring at Remus waiting for an answer. Thoughts of his own brushes with death came to mind. Several were during duels, some of which ended in victory while others in defeat. Many times during the last battle, he’d been willing to die if it meant taking out just one more Death Eater. That wasn’t the sort of story that would resonate well with Harry right now, though. Harry’s brush with death was more akin to suicide. Remus met his eyes solidly and steeled himself with a deep breath before he answered very quietly. “I have.”

Harry’s rage sluiced off of him and bright eyes went wide. He couldn’t even find an answer for that, opting to just stare at his godfather. Remus watched his expression phase through shock to confusion to slow realization to settle finally on horror at what those two little words actually meant. Eventually, he just whispered Remus’s name and kept staring.

“It was a long time ago now,” Remus tried to gently assure him, the worst of it having been some seventeen years ago. When the thoughts came in passing from time to time now, he focused on the things he had to live for. Teddy, Sirius, Harry himself. It wasn’t a lot sometimes, but it was enough.

“But you…?” Harry cut himself off, his eyes somehow going wider.

“Several times. It turns out that werewolves are notoriously hard to kill, even when they’re going after their own lives,” Remus answered, keeping his voice emotionless for sake of not breaking down.

“How can you joke about that?” Harry seemed both surprised and angry by his response.

“Because if I didn’t, I might actually give in and try it again.”

In a flash of reflexes that could only be honed by playing quidditch and dueling for one’s life, Harry was out of his seat and putting his arms around Remus’s shoulders to pull him into an awkwardly tight embrace that almost toppled him from his spot on the couch. Held so tight that he couldn’t even move his arms to return the hug, Remus rested his head on his godson’s shoulder while Harry tried to hide his tears by bowing his own. “Please don’t,” the young man whispered in his ear.

“I won’t… I promise.”

Chapter Text

What began as an extended walk to give Remus some alone time with Harry turned into an expedition across the entire grounds to remap the castle. Teddy, strapped to his chest in his harness, seemed perfectly happy to go along for the ride and babbled to him in conversation as Sirius told him stories of the Marauders’ adventures. After an hour of magically measuring and remapping, Sirius made the trek up the astronomy tower to sit with the little boy and tweak the map properly with the drawings he’d been making. The air was chilly but surprisingly comfortable for early November. He made sure to cast a warming charm on Teddy as the little boy snuggled closer.

“We brought you up here once or twice, do you remember?” he asked of Teddy as he unfolded the map almost lovingly on the ground in front of him. It sat blank, awaiting input of some sort, and Sirius had the brief notion of trying to get the spelled voices of teenage self and comrades in magical mischief-making to talk to him as Remus had shown. He wondered what they would say.

Teddy gave a sleepy babble of almost-words and yawned. Sirius looked down at him and noticed for the first time the tinges of green showing in the boy’s eyes. His hair, peeking out from underneath the knit hat Sirius had just stuck on top of his head, had already shifted to black. Whether by force of sleepiness or just expressing his comfort with Sirius, he wasn’t sure. It had been teal earlier so he guessed it was the former. “You look like your tada, little man. Well, if he had darker hair, anyway. Where does that even come from, huh? Certainly not him.”

Little grey-green eyes that belonged to the boy’s father peered up at him inquisitively before drooping closed. Tiny hands closed on Sirius’s shirt inside his jacket and it wasn’t long until his head rested against his shoulder and sleep took him.

“Sweet dreams, Mini-Moony,” Sirius told him softly before looking back to the map laid out in front of him. The baby napping against him gave him an odd feeling of safety that he’d missed in his absence. It was the little things, he guessed. He knew Remus had similar feelings concerning the boy and he was again amazed at how Teddy had managed to worm his way into his world so completely and absolutely.

“I bet none of you lot would have ever imagined it would be me and Moony raising a kid, huh?” he muttered to the map as he took up his wand and poked it on a whim.

Mr. Moony wonders how in the world he would ever end up with a child and would like to point out that, regardless, he won’t let Mr. Padfoot into the map without the right password phrase.

Mr. Prongs is completely amazed by the revelation and wonders what sort of mischief he could get into with the child of a fellow Marauder. As an aside, he suggests Mr. Padfoot use the map properly to educate this wondrous Mini-Marauder.

Mr. Padfoot reckons he’s joking as there is no way in hell he’d ever have a kid. He also wonders why he’s not just opening the map like a normal person.

Mr. Wormtail is positive that Mr. Padfoot is pulling his leg and suggests he cut it out and use the map appropriately, the tosser.

That sounded about right for the reactions he’d have expected from his friends. Sirius had always expected James to eventually settle down to have a child and, after the inevitable freak-out when it actually happened, he’d been an amazing dad to Harry for the short turn he’d been able to. As for Remus, he would not have ever believed it until he saw it. The way he’d been with Harry had been the turning point but even that hadn’t been enough to change the man’s mind. If not for the tiny version of his partner asleep in his arms, Sirius would not believe Remus was a father at all. His own teenage reaction of calling out bollocks on the statement fit him to a tee. He’d been far too interested in having fun and living life for life’s sake back then to even consider parenthood in his future plans. Harry, again, changed all of that. He found himself wondering how life would have changed if he had managed to make it back to his Moony after the world ended, how they would have raised the little boy instead of his aunt and uncle. What would have happened if he’d gotten the chance to work Remus down and convince him that despite everything, he really was good with kids, good with Harry, could be good with a kid of their own? It was ironic that after it all had gone to hell in a handbasket, that was exactly what they were doing with Teddy. He’d even gone so far as to accidentally refer to himself as the boy’s parent and, to his surprise, had been met with complete adoration from the boy’s actual father. Sirius had been careful not to do it again, not sure how to properly cross that boundary after inadvertently toeing the line that night. It had felt right, though. And looking at his own teenage response to being a parent, it was laughable to think just how much he really wanted it now.

Sirius let out a short laugh before shaking his head and poking the map again. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

The map spread from his wandtip, squiggles and lines turning into a blueprint of the castle. As per usual, the little labeled dots were all over the place, some in locations that were feasible while many were walking through walls or in the middle of open space. Sirius sighed and then set about repairing the map. 

“Titulus averte,” he cast softly without lifting his wand. The labels on the map disappeared, leaving nameless dots wandering the school. 

Lining up his drawings with the map, he set his wand against an incorrect wall and softly cast the rewriting spell he and the Marauders, namely Moony, had designed. “Carte meliorem.” The line disappeared as Sirius traced it with the point of his wand. Then he touched the replacement line on the new drawing and traced it as well. Bringing the wand back to the map, the line redrew itself to the new specifications once he touched the start point. Several of the little dots were now enclosed properly by a wall. He repeated the process for the remapped walls he’d drawn until the blueprints better matched the real castle. There was still a lot more work to do as he’d only managed to map the first floor this morning but it was a start. He’d consult with Remus about the charm to make it self-updating as it was the young genius’s own handiwork that had made the staircase tracking spell to which his older self had suggested making modifications.

“How about that, huh? Didn’t ever expect to have to modify this thing. That spell was for cock-ups.” Sirius laughed softly as he spoke to himself, a habit now with Teddy around. He gathered up the drawings he’d made, folding them and sticking them in his pockets. Then he shut the map and folded it into his pocket as well.

“Do you suppose that Tada and Prongslet are ready for us to go back, Mini-Moony?” Sirius asked softly even though the boy was still sleeping. He stood, looking out over the school grounds. Hagrid’s hut was puffing out smoke in a steady little stream and students were milling about in the mid-morning sun, making the most of the nice weather before it got unbearably cold. Snow would be coming soon and then the school would be split into two groups: those that loved winter and those that hated it. Remus had always hated it, complaining about the cold when he had to deal with transformations and later compensating for it with thicker sweaters than his normal fashion sense would dictate. Sirius on the other hand loved it for those thick sweaters his partner donned this time of year. They were warm and ever so stealable. That said, he hadn’t been too fond of winter before Remus and his sweaters became a fixture of his life. Nor after, for that matter. Azkaban in winter was even more hellish than the typical dementor chill that had been a constant in his life for seventeen years. He’d never thought he would be warm again and still had a tremor in his hands first thing in the morning and when he started getting tired and letting his mind wander. His mind always wandered back to Azkaban, to the dark, tiny little cell that had been his entire existence. The crash of the waves and the moans and screams of his fellow inmates were the ever present backdrop of waking nightmares and full blown panic. The bars to his cell were so high up that even the sunlight on clear days did little brighten to grey stone or illuminate the whisper quiet shadows that haunted him. At night, the moon sometimes cast eerie shadows and when it was full, the dim white light just made the horrors that much worse. He would die there and that terrified him. He would never see Remus again and he would die, cold and alone. It was all-

Teddy fussed at his chest, sleepy arms stretching and tiny face scrunching as he started to wake. A soft squeak brought Sirius from the depths of his memories and back to reality. He looked at the little boy and felt his anxiety begin to wane, the tightness in his stomach fading as he wrapped his arms around the baby and slowed his breathing. Tired grey-green eyes cracked open to peer up at him and Sirius was reminded of all that was right in the world instead of all that had gone wrong. This little boy was his world now, Teddy and Remus and Harry. That was what mattered.

“Alright, pup, let’s go back,” he murmured softly as he hugged the boy closer and told himself that he was safe.

Chapter Text

Remus looked over at the main door when he heard the latch. Harry was back; he could tell before the door opened just from the sound of his footsteps coming up the hallway and the unique gait that his godson walked, probably more aware of the way he walked than the young man himself. He’d spent the afternoon working on the map with Sirius and playing with Teddy, Harry having excused himself after lunch to go and see his friends. Come dinner, he’d sat with them rather than at the staff table and then he’d disappeared again. 

“At long last, Prongslet returns!” Sirius called out dramatically from where he was laying on the floor with the map. Remus had since shifted to lesson planning at his desk.

“Welcome back, Harry,” Remus greeted more calmly with a roll of his eyes towards Sirius. “I suppose you’ll be getting ready to leave shortly.”

Harry let the door shut behind him and nodded. “Yeah.” He gave them both a smile that seemed somewhat off to Remus but it could have just been residual from their long talk that morning. They’d both opened up about some things they’d been previously keeping to themselves and had scrubbed at tears when Sirius came back with Teddy. 

Sirius sat up and eyed his godson with a widening smile of his own. “I know that look.”

Remus glanced at Sirius in hope of explanation but Harry sank onto the couch and smiled wider. It seemed that it wasn’t something bringing him down that was making the smile look strange, different than the typical easy smile Harry gave him. Now that Sirius pointed it out, the way he was looking, almost dumbstruck and dazed, did appear familiar. When Harry rubbed the back of his head and averted his eyes, he knew exactly what Sirius had picked up on.

“Does this have something to do with a pretty quidditch captain with flaming red hair?” Sirius asked, grinning mischievously.

“I, um, yeah,” Harry admitted awkwardly. He glanced at his godfathers then looked away again. 

“Do tell,” Sirius insisted and Harry went red. Remus waved a hand his direction and a pillow launched itself at him from across the room. Sirius fell back laughing as he caught it.

“Leave the lad alone, Pads. Harry, you don’t have to tell him anything.”

Harry laughed despite his blush. “It’s not anything to hide. We spent all afternoon together and, well…” He trailed off despite himself.

“I believe you owe me two galleons, Sirius Black,” Remus announced, holding his hand out to the man who was rolling on the floor laughing.

“What? You were betting on me?” Harry looked at them both with wide indignant eyes that were betrayed by a grin.

Sirius got onto his hands and knees and located his wand from where he’d accidentally kicked it a few feet away. Then he pointed at his leather jacket where it hung by the door. A pouch lifted from one of the pockets and came to settle in his hand. He was still laughing as he pulled out two gold coins and flung them at Remus, who caught them deftly in his left hand and gave both of them a Marauder smirk.

“You should know better than to make wagers against me, Pads,” Remus reminded him. Rarely did he ever lose a bet and Marauders ought to know that. Sirius himself had lost more than his fair share of wagers with his boyfriend and had been forced to do all number of ridiculous things in recompense. In second year, Remus had made the three of them wear their hair green during a Slytherin quidditch match for betting against him about who could make Professor Binns actually learn their name. In the summer of fifth year, he’d made Sirius go for a walk as Padfoot, leash and all, while James and Peter laughed raucously behind them, because Sirius had bet that Remus couldn’t catch him while transformed into a dog. His favorite was the bet at James and Lily’s wedding about who could make Lily laugh the hardest. He’d almost lost that one with Sirius’s best-man speech and had been forced to sit and put up with smug looks all night until he danced with the bride and got her laughing hard enough he had to levitate her to finish it out. By then, the stakes of the bets were far more entertaining for the both of them and despite the sour face across the dancefloor when Sirius realized he’d lost, the rest of the evening had been very enjoyable and he’d gotten his payment in the bedroom the following morning as Sirius had been too drunk that night to live up to his end of the bargain.

“Not actually the first time we’ve bet on you, though, Prongslet!” Sirius grinned at his godson while laughing at Remus’s comment.

“Oh no,” Harry groaned.

“Moony here and your dad reckoned you’d be a girl. Your mum and I were positive you’d be a boy. I’m sure you can figure out who won.” Sirius absolutely cackled with mirth with that admission. The only time Remus really remembered losing a bet with him was over Harry’s gender. There was absolutely no way to know so it had been a truly fair wager for once that had been paid in the Potters’ shower one night during their stay to help with the newborn.

Harry groaned again and covered his face. Remus could tell he was biting back laughter, though, and let himself laugh at the memories. It felt good to remember the good times after focusing more on the troublesome ones this morning. They spent the next hour playing the equivalent of twenty questions in which Sirius demanded more information about Ginny and became increasingly more obnoxious when he realized the similarities between her and Lily. It was particularly funny to note the way that both girls had come onto the boys for their first kiss. Having actually gotten to know the girl, though, Remus knew that she was really only like Lily on the surface and that she was actually significantly more like James if comparisons were really going to be made. He was happy for Harry though and hoped that having Ginny back in his life would help him cope as it once had; he hoped that the same could be said for Ginny as well who was less obviously struggling with her own trauma but struggling all the same. When they finally bid farewell to their godson so that he didn’t have to deal with flooing to London from Hogsmeade in the morning for work, it was with a promise that he’d come by more regularly and write more often; Remus agreed to the same.

Chapter Text

The real onset of winter brought a significant uptick in the number of students getting sick with cold season and it was a wonder that Sirius somehow managed to avoid catching anything. With an immune system completely trashed by seventeen years in solitary confinement and abysmal diet during that time, he and Remus alike were genuinely surprised and incredibly grateful that poor health was not added to the issues they were already tackling. Thankfully, lycanthropy had always seemed to make Remus largely resistant to illness outside of what it did to him on a monthly basis. If he had ever gotten sick, Sirius had never seen it. Fate's way of making up for the shit hand he'd been dealt, Sirius supposed.

The December full moon fell on a Thursday so Remus was exhausted by the time they picked Teddy up from Andi's on Friday night. The visit was kept short so Remus could get back and sleep, having been up all day teaching and napping only during planning periods. It was when he laid down with his little boy in his arms, content to just fall asleep that way and let Sirius move him when they both fell asleep, that Sirius realized something off. Teddy snuggled, little hands gripping his father's  sleep sleep shirt, much calmer than usual for having been separated from Remus for a week, especially given each month he had been more and more active and had even begun scooting about on the floor when put down. Given the time, he let it slide and reclined next to them both until one or both fell asleep. It didn't take Remus long and then Teddy, his sleepy eyes fully green by then and his hair shifted back to natural black, nodded off not much later. Sirius settled the boy into his cot and thought nothing more of his strange observation until morning.

Typical Remus, the man was up already when Sirius woke up. Atypical Remus, he was still in the bedroom fussing over his son. A cup of coffee was sitting on the table at his side of the bed but it was largely untouched. As Sirius stretched and sat up, noticing the sun peeking in around the curtains, Remus turned to him.

"Something's wrong with Teddy," he stated, voice completely calm but his eyes betraying his worry.

"What do you mean, Re?" Sirius rolled out of bed and ambled across to the cot.

"He isn't as active as he normally is."

"He's asleep." Sirius looked from the baby to his partner, raising an eyebrow even as he thought back to the similar behavior the boy had exhibited the night before.

"That's the point, Sirius. He is usually awake and wanting to play by now." Remus looked down at his son and reached down to touch him. Sirius watched as a frown overtook his calm facade.

"So let him sleep. He had a long day yesterday. We didn't get back and settled until almost nine," Sirius reminded him. "Go and drink your coffee and I'll get breakfast figured out."

Remus ran his fingers over his son's soft black hair and then nodded, padding back towards the bed to pick up his coffee. Sirius watched him, noting the tense posture and frown still on his face, glanced at Teddy and then wandered out of the room to go and call for a house elf to get some breakfast delivered to the suite. With Remus on edge, eating in the Great Hall was not a good plan. 

A few minutes later, a little elf wearing bright tea-towel emblazoned with the Hogwarts emblem as a toga appeared with a tray in hand. Sirius could never tell if they were male or female and the creature’s squeaky voice acknowledging him made it no easier. He thanked the elf, who disappeared with a deep bow, and then shook his head and wandered back to the bedroom. House elves were always a mystery to him but at least the ones at Hogwarts were amenable and sometimes even pleased to help him, even in his more mischievous days at the school. They were nothing like the Black family elves who seemed more afraid of his parents than he was and therefore ended up falling on their side more than his. He absently wondered what had even become of them since he left the house at sixteen but as he opened the door to the bedroom to find Remus just staring into his coffee cup, the consideration of house elves vanished to be replaced by worry.

“Re, have you just been sitting there like that the entire time I was out of the room?” Sirius asked as he crossed to the bed and set the tray down on the bedside table.

Remus looked up at him and then across at Teddy who had rolled over in his sleep. Sirius just sighed and sat beside him. He didn’t understand what had gotten into the man. So Teddy was sleeping more than he usually did. In and of itself, that wasn’t really a cause for concern. Clearly there was something more going on that Sirius wasn’t grasping. Surely Andi would have said something if she had noticed her grandson acting strangely when they picked him up.

“Eat something,” Sirius told his partner, picking up a plate of eggs and bacon and handing it to him before sitting down to pick at the same. Remus ate almost mechanically, his coffee still in one hand while the plate rested in his lap. His brilliant green eyes were still trained on his son across the room. What was with him?

Chapter Text

“Alright, Moony. Spill,” Sirius demanded. Remus heard him set his plate down and felt him take his own from his lap as well as liberating the now cold coffee from his hand. He looked at the man to find him staring at him with a frown and deep concern in his eyes.

“Something’s wrong with Teddy.”

“You said that before. How the hell do you know something is wrong with him? He’s just sleeping.” Sirius gestured at the boy across the room and drew Remus’s gaze back to his son. That was a good question, wasn’t it? How did he know something was wrong? He just did. In the same way he could tell where people were without looking at them or when people were experiencing intense emotions, especially close to the moon like it was now. He could just tell that something wasn’t quite right about Teddy. Something had changed.

“Well?”

Remus realized then that he’d just gone back to staring at the baby instead of answering Sirius. He looked back at the man who now looked slightly frustrated along with his concern. He stared for a moment before he realized he’d had the same feeling before. Whenever any of his friends or family had gotten ill, he could often tell before talking to or even seeing them. Of course, they had all been able to confirm his suspicions and he had never put any further thought into it. He'd put in a lot of research to figure out just how that was the case and had connected it to his lycanthropy, like most everything else that made him an oddity; dogs could apparently tell as well. Teddy couldn’t exactly tell his tada that he was sick, though. “Pheromones.”

“What?” Sirius asked dumbly before shaking his head to ward off an explanation. “Pheromones. How are pheromones telling you something is wrong with him?” 

“He’s sick, Sirius. Body chemistry changes when a person is ill. Trust me.” Remus looked again at the little boy. So he’d figured out the problem. The question was, what did he do about it? He didn't know the first thing about caring for a sick baby. Should he take him to see Poppy? But would she be able to do anything, even? Witches and wizards had to be so careful with the magic used on and around infants. Potions safe for adults were often harmful to children and little research had even been done, to his knowledge, on babies. He knew that there was muggle medicine that could possibly help him and he had been diligent about keeping to a vaccine schedule despite Lyall and Andi both telling him it was unnecessary. But there was no easy access to Teddy's pediatrician from Hogwarts. And what if whatever he was sick with was magical in origin? A muggle doctor couldn't even help then.

"Remus, you're scaring me here." 

Remus was suddenly aware of Sirius standing in front of him, both hands on his shoulders and his face close. His wild grey eyes were searching for something and he breathed a sigh of relief, apparently finding it as soon as Remus focused on him. 

"Breathe. I'll take a look at Teddy when he wakes up," Sirius told him.

Of course. Sirius was a mediwizard. He would know what to do. Remus nodded faintly and did as he was told, taking deep breaths and actively telling himself to stop overreacting to something he knew would eventually happen and also knew was likely to be nothing more than a simple cold. Teddy would be fine. Sirius would make sure of it.

When Teddy began to fuss a little while later, Sirius immediately went to him, Remus hot on his heels. By then, breakfast had mostly been consumed and Remus had been placated by chocolate and quietly talking to Sirius about their Christmas plans. They would be travelling a fair bit, going between Lyall and Andi as well as just spending some time at home in Yorkshire and joining the Weasleys at some point, along with Harry and Hermione. Figuring out when to see each part of the family that Remus had never thought he’d have was a bit of a puzzle, especially working around the full moon falling on the second, but it was also worthwhile. They’d almost gotten it pieced together when Teddy woke. Then all thoughts of the holidays fled from Remus’s mind.

Sirius picked up the little boy and held him against his shoulder, tilting his head towards him. Rubbing his back, he murmured softly to him. Remus noticed the way Teddy seemed clingier than usual but kept his mouth shut to let Sirius do whatever he was going to do. When Sirius shifted to pull his wand from his sleeve, Remus almost stopped him before backing up at a look from the man. Then Sirius held his wand to Teddy’s back and softly whispered a few spells that Remus recognized as diagnostics. Finally, he handed the little boy to Remus and shook his head with a smile as the man immediately cuddled him close.

“He’s fine, Re. Just a bit of a cold. He’ll be over it in a week,” Sirius told him.

“Is there nothing you can do for him?” Remus asked, frowning. Pepperup Potion cured colds in seconds. He figured it was too much to ask that a baby-safe version of it existed.

“There’s nothing I need to do. He’ll be grumpy and snuffly but otherwise he’ll be alright. You know as well as I do there aren’t potions approved for infants. I’m actually surprised he hasn’t gotten sick sooner but I guess being a spring baby he avoided the worst of it while he was growing.” Sirius smiled and rubbed the little boy’s back before meeting Remus’s eyes. Remus stared back at him torn between relief that it was nothing serious and panic that there was nothing to be done about it.

“Go and cuddle him, Re. We’ll listen to some music and just have a lazy day,” Sirius suggested, physically turning Remus after a moment and pushing him from the room towards the living room. That did sound like a decent idea and as Remus settled on the couch where he’d been deposited, Sirius’s CD player began to play Mystic Rhythms from the Rush compilation album Harry had given Sirius for his birthday. Upon learning more about his godfather’s taste in music, Harry had gone searching for things that fit the style and managed to find the CD. Rush hadn’t been a big part of their music collection in the past, having heard a song or two on the radio though never bought an album, but as soon as Sirius listened to it, he’d been in love and had asked Harry to look into more of their music. Remus now had a long list of albums that Sirius wanted from a number of artists that Harry had introduced him to along with ones he had been a fan of before.

Sirius danced across to them, singing along with the music. “Mystic rhythms, capture my thoughts, carry them away.” He draped a blanket across Remus and Teddy before curling up on the couch next to him and continuing to sing. Remus couldn’t help but smile and eventually started to sing along as well. Not big into rock, he had to admit he liked most of the music on this particular CD, this song in particular. He’d still go for jazz or classical if given the choice but he could find similarities with those genres and a lot of what Rush made. It helped that Sirius skipped the songs that were too heavy for his taste without even being asked at this point.

Chapter Text

A lazy morning of music turned into a lazy afternoon of reading, which genuinely surprised Sirius. He didn’t usually spend his time reading. That was definitely more Remus’s choice of pastime rather than his own. He had very much expected to end up working on the map or just lose himself in the music between checking on Teddy to abate his father’s borderline manic paranoia. In a way it was actually somewhat amusing to see Remus, calm under pressure Remus, keep a straight face no matter what Remus, openly panicking about the little boy. Teddy, of course, was fine, just cuddlier than normal with a bit of a runny nose for the time being. Remus had to be actively forced a couple of times to just let the kid rest and not try wiping his nose every five seconds. Putting a book into his hands seemed to abate the overactive need to coddle his son. Sirius just didn’t expect to be doing the same.

It started with the last song on the Rush album they’d been listening to, The Body Electric. Sirius knew all the words from having been listening to it for weeks by then but, typical of songs about muggle things, didn’t really know what they meant. He’d learned a lot in his time knowing Remus but some concepts just eluded him. More to distract Remus from messing with Teddy than anything, he’d piped up with a strange question.

“What’s an android?”

“Huh?” Sirius almost laughed. That sort of response very rarely came from Remus’s lips and it showed just how worked up the man truly was.

“An android,” Sirius repeated before singing some of the lyrics. “The song goes, ‘One humanoid escapee, one android on the run.’ Got me thinking. What exactly is an android?”

Remus stared at him and Sirius thought for a moment that he’d decided that the question was too stupid to answer. Then he smiled, absently played with Teddy’s hair while the boy slept in his lap, and explained the odd term.

“You remember what a robot is, right?” When Sirius nodded, Remus went on. “An android is a humanoid robot, hence the first line of the song. The idea is that they mimic humans in every possible way, looking like us and acting like us, moving like us, talking and thinking like us, virtually indistinguishable aside from the fact that they are, in fact, electronic. They are an artificial intelligence given a physical form to use autonomously.”

Well, that certainly wasn’t what Sirius had been expecting. Of course Moony knew all about them. What didn’t Moony know all about? The idea was strangely fascinating though. He’d certainly never seen such a thing. He gave Remus a curious smile and his eyes widened when the man took his wand and pointed it at a bookshelf across the room.

"Accio I, Robot ." A well-worn paperback withdrew itself from the top shelf and settled in Remus's waiting hand. "Accio Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" A second book joined it, coming from a slightly lower shelf. Remus handed them both to him.

"What?" Sirius asked, otherwise dumbfounded. He knew Remus had muggle novels in his collection but genuinely had not expected him to have a book pertaining to his abstract question. Androids were such an alien concept, he had even suspected Rush of having made it up to go along with their fanciful if nonsensical stories told through their music.

"Androids are quite prominent in science fiction. Those two are a couple of the more popular stories. Well, actually, I, Robot is the second book of its name and is a collection of short stories that center on the same premise and feature several recurring characters," Remus explained as if this was a perfectly normal conversation to be having. Sirius was still hung up on the first sentence.

"Science fiction?"

Remus stared at him and then chuckled. "Right. Wizard. Science fiction is a genre of muggle literature and a school of thought pertaining to the advancement of technological design beyond that which is currently available. Interestingly enough, it often predicts actual inventions. Or perhaps influences it."

Sirius wasn't sure he understood that any better in light of the explanation but just shook his head and peered at the two books he'd been handed. It wasn't like he was opposed to muggle technology. In fact, he was rather taken by it when it came right down to it. He'd practically consumed anything he could find about engine mechanics and motorcycles in the seventies. Androids seemed a bit far fetched but at the same time, if someone had told his eleven year old self that muggles built two wheeled horseless carriages out of steel, powered them by burning liquefied organic compounds and then proceeded to straddle them and ride at the same speed as a racing broom without safety charms built in, he'd have called them a raving lunatic and proceeded to shun them for their idiocy. Then he saw one. And he heard one. And he rode one. And he bought one. And he loved it and wanted it back, wherever it was. Maybe he could get a new one.

"Pick one to read if you're interested," Remus went on, seemingly oblivious to the tangent his brain had gone off on.

Sirius looked at him and then chose the more humorous of the titles. "Electric sheep, huh? Do androids even dream?"

Remus laughed. "That's sort of the point of the book. It explores the humanity of sentient androids and makes for a deep thought experiment about what being human really means. See if you like it. There is actually a movie based on that one as well. I haven't ever seen it but Harry might be able to get a copy of it to watch over the holidays if you like the book."

Sirius grinned then shrugged and thumbed through the pages. "Alright, why not?"

Remus smiled at him and then summoned his own book across the room from his desk. He shifted a little beside Sirius, presumably to make himself comfortable, then opened his book and stuck the bookmark behind his ear. It was a rather adorable habit he'd had for as long as Sirius could remember. Sirius watched him for a moment and then settled into the book. It was, by far, the most outrageous thing he had ever read. Trust muggles to come up with half of this insane stuff. But at the same time, he was fascinated. Every once in a while, he stopped to bother Remus about something too far fetched for him to wrap his head around. Remus seemed to find it amusing and calmly explained whatever concept was giving him trouble as best he could, drawing similarities to magical ways of achieving the same thing. It blew his mind that people could live like this or even imagine the things that were in this book. Thinking about it, he was genuinely baffled by muggle things he saw even now and he’d lived in Muggle London for years and snuck into Muggle Studies classes whenever he could since his parents never let him pick the elective and it was too late to transfer in by the time he left Grimmauld Place for good. Accounting for delays in which he chatted with Remus about the book and time taken to look after Teddy as well as his paranoid father and himself, Sirius finished the book by the end of the weekend and was left in a very strange place concerning his thoughts on the issues brought up. Remus seemed pleased to have someone to talk about it all, though, and it made for an excellent distraction away from worrying about Teddy, who mostly slept or fussed uncomfortably but was otherwise fine. By the time Monday came around, Sirius had decided he rather liked science fiction and took to looking through the rest of Remus’s books for the first time in his life. Remus just gave him a Marauder smirk as he went to class that morning.

Chapter Text

Remus was genuinely surprised when there was a knock at the classroom door after breakfast on Monday. He’d stayed with Teddy and Sirius in their suite that morning, as he had all weekend, but during office hours he was expected to be accessible to the students so he had gone to his classroom to work instead of disturbing Teddy’s already disrupted sleep schedule; Sirius had just gotten him down to sleep again after eating something. “Come in,” he called from his desk, stifling a yawn.

“Are you alright, Professor Lupin?” Ginny asked as she stepped inside with a small group of seventh and eighth years. Hermione, Susan, Theodore and Luna all filed in behind her, all wearing looks of similar concern.

Remus’s eyes went wide and then he stood to meet the group. “I’m fine. Thank you for asking.” 

“Well we hadn’t seen you all weekend and you seem tired now. With the full moon on Thursday, we were worried that you were, you know, hurt or something,” Ginny explained as she settled on top of a desk once she was closer to Remus.

“Oh.” Remus smiled and shook his head. “I appreciate the concern, but no, I am perfectly fine. Teddy has a cold so I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep, you see.”

The girls all wore sudden matching expressions of understanding, their mouths making O’s and some nodding slightly. It was Theodore who looked a little out of place, averting his eyes from where he stood beside Susan.

“Tell me though, as much as I appreciate you all coming to check on me, why aren’t you in class right now?” Remus went on, folding his arms and leaning on the desk closest to him.

“We have Astronomy tonight so the morning class got canceled,” Theodore answered, seeming grateful for something to say that wasn’t concerning the worry he was trying to brush off. Remus smiled at him but made no mention of what he’d noticed. Theodore seemed to keep to himself a lot and he figured that even coming here with the girls had probably taken some convincing on their part, probably mostly on Susan’s part. The two had been particularly close since the day they’d both managed to make their patronuses.

“Oh, I understand now.” Remus smiled. “Well, if you would like to stay here, you can. I’m getting ready for the sixth years. We are working with the Stupefy Curse today so I could use some assistance moving the desks aside and setting out cushions.”

Theodore immediately brightened and nodded, moving away from the group to start doing just that. The girls joined in, other than Luna who went to Remus with a sweet smile.

“I do hope that little Teddy feels better soon,” she told him in the strange, whimsical way of speaking that Remus had gotten used to in the years he had known her. “Sometimes wrackspurts can make babies fussy while they’re sick.”

Remus gave her a warm smile and nodded. “I think they may well have. He was certainly fussy this morning,” he agreed. “He has Sirius to watch over him, though.”

“That’s good. Having someone that you trust so deeply to care for him while you are teaching must make you feel better, too,” Luna commented.

“It does,” Remus answered, not sure how the girl was so insightful. He’d been a mess on Saturday with worry over the little boy but Sirius had managed to keep him calm and distracted while assuring him that Teddy really was absolutely fine. He had never been so grateful for a healer in his life.

Luna just smiled again and then went to help the others moving the furniture without another word. Remus watched her then shook his head. He was certain he would never really understand the girl but he liked her and she was a brilliant student. Eccentric, but brilliant.

Within ten minutes, the classroom had been rearranged. The desks were all in a big circle around the edges of the room while pillows had been laid out across the center all over the floor. Remus had written directions on the blackboard behind his desk with expectations of practicing caution concerning the nature of the spell they were working with as well as the correct pronunciation of the incantation and a diagram of the wand movement. While he expected his students at NEWT level to be using non-verbal magic when they could, he also recognized that diving right into non-verbal magic with a new spell was asking a little much of them and had never agreed with teachers that forced it from day one. His students stuck around a little longer before going to their own classes, talking more to each other than to him, but Remus didn’t mind. He enjoyed the company and with it the reminder that people finally were seeing him for who he was rather than what he was.