Upon hearing the third crash that afternoon from the living room, Remus wondered to himself what had possessed him to agree to mind three boys, all under the age of eleven, for an indefinite amount of time while the parents of the youngest two were in London. Sighing, he set down his towel and the glass he was drying, having been taking a break to do the dishes the muggle way as opposed to just magicking them clean while the boys played. Apparently, it was destined to be a short-lived break.
The scene that greeted him was a chaotic jumble of blankets, sofa cushions and the curtains, for some ridiculous reason, along with one of the dining chairs that was on its back, presumably the cause of the crash. How it even got into the room was a question for a different time but he was fairly certain Teddy had something to do with it because it wasn’t there just ten minutes ago when Remus left the boys to play. Before he could even address the three giggling children, though, the fireplace turned green and Remus noticed that another chair had been toppled in front of it.
“Sirius, wait!” he called but it was too late. The man in question stepped into the room and immediately tripped, an armful of books going flying and a pained groan sounding from the heap in dress robes.
“Why’s there a chair in front of the fireplace?” Sirius muttered as he rolled onto his back and pushed the offending piece of furniture away with his foot.
“Are you alright, Pads?” Remus called as three boys scrambled out of the blankets to see what had happened.
Sirius sighed but nodded. “Would be better without a textbook landing on my hip but yeah, I’m fine…”
Remus nodded slightly, looking again to the fort that had most likely been engineered by his own son. “Teddy, Oliver, Connor; get over here right now.”
The oldest of the three scrambled to face his father, knowing that tone well enough to know that playtime was over whether he liked it or not. As a toddler it had lead to some rather significant temper tantrums that Remus had done his best to forget about in the years since. As the other two, a skinny little four year old with James's hazel eyes and dark brown hair and his almost-two year old brother, the spitting image of Harry, ambled to stand in front of Remus, he was reminded why he hated dealing with toddlers. Connor immediately started crying for the second time that day while Oliver looked torn between giving a sheepish smile like his ten year old idol and grizzling like his little brother. Remus took a deep breath and then knelt down.
“Wipe that smile off your face, Edward Remus, and tell me what the three of you are doing,” Remus demanded of Teddy, drawing more wails from Connor and tipping Oliver’s scales towards crying as well.
“We, um… We built a fort and then Connor jumped on the roof and the chair collapsed and fell over. He’s okay, though! No-one got hurt!” Teddy explained, quick to clarify that he hadn’t completely failed in his task to watch over the smaller boys. His hair shifted from teal to dark blonde to match his father’s. Remus took note of that habit but didn’t comment on it. It never got the boy anywhere but he did it without fail whenever Remus was the one disciplining him.
“Yet you tipped over a chair, which should not be in this room, I might add, and left another in front of the fireplace when I have told you repeatedly not to leave things in front of it,” Remus answered, voice still stern without crossing into angry.
Teddy glanced over to where Sirius was now getting to his feet and retrieving the books he’d come home with. Then he averted his eyes and mumbled something that Remus clearly heard to be, “Sorry, Tad.”
“Look at me when you are talking to me,” Remus reminded him.
Teddy looked up, repeating himself a little clearer.
“It isn’t me you should be apologizing to; it’s your dad.” Remus gestured towards Sirius across the room.
Teddy looked over and his hair shifted again, this time to jet black. “Sorry, Dad,” he called over Connor and Oliver. Sirius waved a hand dismissively while righting the chair that he’d tripped over.
“Now I want you to clean up this mess,” Remus told him. Teddy was quick to nod affirmatively and get to picking up the blankets and pillows. Remus watched him for a moment before looking to the other two boys. He took another deep breath before bringing Connor into his arms to try and get him to stop crying.
“I see you’ve had quite the day,” Sirius commented as he came up behind Oliver and scooped him up into his arms.
Remus sighed and stood, picking Connor up with him. The little boy was clinging to his thin sweater and crying onto his shoulder. While Oliver was upset for being in trouble, Remus had a feeling that this little one was more hysterical for needing a nap. He bounced Connor gently and rubbed his back as he used to with Teddy at this age. “See if you can get Ollie to help Teddy clean up and remind him why it’s a bad idea to leave things in front of the fireplace. I’m putting Connor down for a nap.”
“Right. Sorry I had to be gone so long for that lecture,” Sirius answered, already getting his own little boy calmer.
Remus just nodded and left the room. It wasn’t Sirius’s fault that one of the leading researchers on lycanthropy treatment was speaking on the very same day that Ginny had gotten ill enough with the pregnancy of her third child to need to go to St. Mungo’s and her two boys needed someone to watch over them while Harry was at her side. He supposed that missing their parents might also be playing into the boys’ fussiness, particularly Connor’s. Oliver had always been independent, mobile fairly early and getting into mischief as soon as possible, staying close enough to his parents to be safe but not minding to be across the room doing his own thing even as a toddler. Connor was most definitely a daddy’s boy, though, wanting to cling to Harry whenever he could. His parents were trying to encourage him to be a little more independent with some success, his brother helping now that he was old enough to speak to him and coax him into playing together. Time away from them was always difficult though and Remus had spent the first hour of their impromptu visit with the little boy in his lap crying his eyes out while Teddy and Oliver went to play in Teddy’s room.
Once in the relative calm of his bedroom, Remus was able to get Connor to settle down further. He had earlier transfigured the armchair in the corner into a cot and set the boy in it now, rubbing his tummy and singing to him until he properly quieted and fell asleep. Then he sighed and ran a hand over his own face. How Harry and Ginny had dealt with two boys under the age of three when Connor was born was beyond him. Raising one was enough for him. Luckily, Teddy had not been near as fussy as Connor outside of his toddler years when everything was a fight. Being screamed at by a tiny version of himself because rocks were deemed inedible and wands were not playthings was something Remus only wanted to live once. Coupled with constant appearance morphs during those tantrums, parenting was an absolute nightmare for about two years. He had been so glad to get his laidback son back not long after his third birthday. While he was happy to help Harry and Ginny by taking the boys off their hands every once in a while, he was certainly happy to be able to give them back as well.
“They’re reading in Teddy’s room,” Sirius’s soft voice announced behind him, arms going around his waist. Remus felt himself smile. He’d known the man was approaching but hadn’t expected him to come up behind him and hug him. “You alright, Moony?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Remus settled his hands on Sirius’s arms and took another deep breath.
“Mmm, you seemed a bit frazzled just now.” Sirius kissed his neck in what he knew was an attempt to distract him for whatever he felt like Remus was bothered by.
“I had a screaming toddler in my arms. Of course I was frazzled,” Remus retorted, rolling his eyes and subconsciously slouching somewhat to make it easier for Sirius to account for their height difference. He felt Sirius’s lips smirk against his skin while his own smile widened.
“Yes, well, that does make sense, I suppose,” Sirius agreed, his voice somewhat muffled. When he lifted his head, he settled his chin on Remus’s shoulder. “Coffee?”
“I would love some. And then you can tell me all about whatever supposed advances they are making in the field of healing.” Remus was always skeptical about people working with lycanthropy but had to admit that there was sometimes some good that came out of it. Most of it was brushed under the rug and ignored, good or otherwise, because people just didn’t care. In the last decade, that had gotten better in light of his own efforts at Hogwarts but it was still an uphill battle for werewolves to be completely accepted in society. He turned in Sirius’s arms and saw the man light up, though. At least he had one person completely on his side and, lucky for him, that one person was also incredibly skilled at healing and had recently devoted himself to treating lycanthropy as well.
Sirius snagged his arm as they parted, guiding Remus from the room and into the kitchen where their small dining table was currently covered in Teddy’s homework. The boy had a book report due upon his return to school in September and also had a maths workbook to be finishing. He whined regularly about having to do muggle homework and that he wanted to be at Hogwarts as he had been for the first five years of his life but Remus reminded him, time and time again, that if it wasn’t for attending the primary school local to their cottage in Yorkshire, he’d be dealing with a tutor instead. Sirius had told him horror stories about working with tutors, of course neglecting to mention that if they got him a tutor it wouldn’t be one who was so bigoted or outrageously strict. Accepting homework and primary school as the lesser of two evils, especially considering the fact that Sirius still dropped him off and picked him up via floo to Hogsmeade every day so he did still actually live at Hogwarts most of the year, Teddy usually gave in and worked on his homework for about an hour a day each summer.
“Any word from Prongslet yet?” Sirius asked as Remus set to clearing the table somewhat.
“Albus stopped by just after you left this morning with a note saying that Ginny’s healer thought she was going into early labor but that she was stable for now. Since she’s only a week earlier than expected, supposedly the healer is going to let it take its course and see what happens. We may end up with the boys overnight but Harry said he would come by in person if that was the case. I haven’t heard anything since,” Remus explained calmly.
Sirius came over with two cups of coffee, setting one in front of Remus before sitting down at the table. He smiled when Remus murmured, “Diolch,” and then reclined in the chair.
“One week isn’t really a problem. So long as there aren’t complications otherwise.”
“That was what I figured. Harry didn’t seem too worried in his letter,” Remus answered, sipping calmly at his cup. In his years of knowing his godson, he’d gotten rather adept at figuring out Harry’s mood from his written words. He wrote of irrelevant things or wrote in clipped sentences when he was upset about something. If he was happy about something, he tended to ramble on and on about it, carrying the way he spoke into his letters. In this particular letter, he’d obviously been rushed as he was at his wife’s side expecting their third child any time now but he’d given enough detail to express that while he was worried, he wasn’t overly stressed out.
“Ginny’ll be fine.” Sirius set down his cup and glanced towards the door as the sound of the boys now playing again instead of reading drifted down the stairs.
Remus nodded, ignoring the noises as it seemed like no-one was getting hurt for now, and then met eyes with Sirius. “So about your lecture?”
Sirius grinned and launched into an explanation of the research being done on not only the treatment of lycanthropy but into better understanding what it actually was and how it affected the body and mind of those afflicted. It was still early days but findings were suggesting that the condition was a bloodborne curse rather than altering the genetic makeup of the afflicted, thereby confirming the hopeful suspicion that Teddy had truly managed to escape without inheriting it from his father. Sexual contact clearly did not transmit the curse either but there were still ongoing studies into whether an infected mother could pass it on to her unborn child since many people were still unwilling to really share their condition even for the sake of medical research to better their lives. The stigma, though better than it had been, was still too heavy a burden to bear for most. The rest of the research just confirmed what Remus already knew: the body of a werewolf literally tore itself apart to reform into a new shape rather than magically transfiguring into an animal as an animagus could do and the mental state of the cursed individual while in wolf form became something of a second personality that ebbed and flowed with the tidal pull of the moon. The Wolfsbane Potion affected the mental state more than the physical and now that it was better understood what it was actually doing, research was being put into improving its effects along with making it more palatable. Of course, Sirius had already been experimenting with that in the safety of their own home when they had full moons away from Hogwarts and had been met with both hopeful improvements and stark failures. It also turned out that a lot of the old, obscure remedies Sirius had found in the restricted section of the Hogwarts library years ago were being brought back into the forefront of healing with trials being done on more widespread use of tailored treatments for the symptoms of lycanthropy. Sirius, at least, seemed hopefully optimistic about it all. Remus, having dealt with the actual effects of the curse rather than the clinical descriptions of it in research papers for some forty-four years remained more cynical about the supposed improvements. He smiled for Sirius, though, and was quietly thankful for his dedication.
“Tad!” came a yell from the stairs followed by thundering steps of too-rough little boys.
“Uncle Remus!” a second, squeakier call sounded.
Remus sighed, smiled and shook his head. He and Sirius had been talking for well over an hour and he was genuinely surprised that Teddy and Oliver had lasted that long without vying for someone’s attention. “Yes?”
Both boys burst into the room, grinning mischievously. Teddy had resorted to his typical teal hair now though his eyes were still natural, his father’s. He didn’t often change them, happier to just mess with his hair much as his mother had been wont to do. Oliver was all smiles again, his earlier upset clearly long forgotten.
“Can we go outside and play quidditch?” Teddy asked.
“Quidditch with a four year old?” Remus asked, deadpan.
“We’ll be careful! We’ll stay close to the ground and everything! We’ll be alright. I was on a broom by his age,” Teddy pleaded.
“Only because your godfather wants to give me a heart attack at every possible moment,” Remus answered with a good-natured sigh.
Sirius laughed and stood. “I’ll watch them and make sure no-one dies.”
“How comforting,” Remus retorted.
“So we can?” Teddy looked to Sirius with a possibly even wider grin.
“Yes. Go on.” Sirius shooed both boys out the back door. They both went whooping excitedly. “Go check on Connor. Weather’s nice. He can play outside, maybe, while those two Mini-Marauders are airborne.”
Remus rolled his eyes but smiled and nodded, heading to the bedroom while Sirius joined the older boys to help them get their brooms. Connor was still asleep but didn’t seem to complain about being picked up and cuddled. He slept in Remus’s arms for a while under a tree while his brother and cousin, for lack of a better term, played with Sirius. It made for a peaceful end to the day while they waited on word from Harry about arrangements for the evening.