A Great Day for Freedom
Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until September 30th, 2004. At that point, the author may post the fic elsewhere or may be contacted to have this fic archived at different sites if they so choose.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or anything associated with it. I'm not making any money from this story, and I don't intend to.
Challenge & Summary: New Moon 17: Mpreg is utterly, completely, absolutely, without any exceptions, impossible--but Sirius and Remus still want a child. A surrogate mother, who may be impregnated the old-fashioned way (by either of them) or by means of in vitro fertilization. Story must show the problems of acquiring and then bringing up said child. No parent/child incest.
Author Notes: Author’s Notes: Thank you to Rhy, for her awesome beta work. Thanks to DC, for helping figure out what needed to be pitched. Thanks to Ari, for inspiring me.
‘On the day the wall came down
They threw the locks onto the ground
And with glasses high we raised a cry for freedom had arrived
On the day the wall came down
The Ship of Fools had finally run aground
Promises lit up the night like paper doves in flight
I dreamed you had left my side
No warmth, not even pride remained
And even though you needed me
It was clear that I could not do a thing for you
Now life devalues day by day
As friends and neighbours turn away
And there's a change that, even with regret, cannot be undone
Now frontiers shift like desert sands
While nations wash their bloodied hands
Of loyalty, of history, in shades of gray
I woke to the sound of drums
The music played, the morning sun streamed in
I turned and I looked at you
And all but the bitted residue slipped away...slipped away’
~A Great Day for Freedom, The Division Bell, Pink Floyd
Sirius stretched his arms up over his head, his mouth opening wide in an early morning yawn. He refused to open his eyes yet; he knew if he opened them he would have to get out of bed and make himself useful. He stretched his legs down towards the foot of the bed, wiggling his toes.
Suddenly, a finger poked his belly. His eyes jerked open and he sat up, his legs tangling in the sheets.
Remus smiled innocently up at him from the pillows, his hand spread across Sirius’ stomach. Sirius pouted at the sandy haired man, his eyes blinking to rid the sleep from his eyes.
“I’m sorry, love. I couldn’t resist. You navel was just begging to be poked.” Remus grinned at him. Sirius tried to continue his glare, but
The two stared at each other for a moment, both quivering with suppressed laughter. Finally, Sirius snorted, Remus bursting into laughter a second later. Sirius collapsed back onto the bed, laughing and looking into the smiling eyes of his lover. They lay together giggling, staring into each other’s eyes as they calmed.
Remus smiled and reached out to Sirius, caressing his cheek. Sirius closed his eyes and tilted his head into the caress. “Love you,” he murmured. Remus smiled and leaned in to kiss Sirius gently. “I love you too,” he whispered against Sirius’ lips.
Sirius whimpered and scooted his body closer to Remus’, pressing their chests and hips together and tilting his head to deepen the kiss. Remus sighed and closed his eyes as Sirius sucked on his lower lip.
The sound echoed through the house. Sirius and Remus sat up quickly, slamming their foreheads together in their haste to sit up. Remus pressed his palm to his aching forehead, stumbling out of bed and out the door. He heard a loud thump behind him; Sirius had gotten tangled in the sheets and fallen out of bed.
Remus staggered down the stairs into the kitchen. Harry was standing in the middle of the room with his hands over his head, various pots and pans surrounding him. An open cabinet told Remus what had happened. He grinned.
“So, I take it you’ve encountered Sirius’ shelving methods?”
Harry glared up at the shelves. “If you can call stuffing all the metal cooking containers you own into one cabinet with no order at all a “shelving method,” then yes, I have.” Harry turned towards Remus, his mouth open to say something else. His eyes widened as he turned red, then white, then red again, all within a few seconds.
Remus raised his eyebrow. “Problem, Harry?”
Harry’s mouth moved, but he made no noise. His eyes were fixed on Remus’ forehead.
Remus shifted and asked, “What?”
Harry continued staring at Remus’ forehead. “Uh.. Remus.. You’re, uh. Missing some things..”
Remus shifted again. He ran through his head the things he could be missing.
Coffee, breath mints, socks, breakfast, pants.. PANTS.. He looked down at himself and turned brilliant scarlet. He wasn’t missing his pants. He was missing his entire outfit.
“Erm.. I’ll just. Go now..”
Remus turned and bolted past Sirius, who had finally wandered down from their bedroom. Sirius walked into the kitchen and surveyed the damage.
“Hmm. Pots and pans on the floor, check. Coffee in the coffee pot, check. Godson turning red, che- Wait. Why are you turning red?”
Harry ducked his head. “Did you happen to notice Remus’ attire this morning, Sirius?” he asked.
“Course I did! There wasn’t any! He looks best that way, you know.”
Harry made a face that suggested he either didn’t agree, or there were wild badgers holding a party in his trousers.
Sirius grinned at his godson. “Like what you saw, Harry? Better remember it, it may be the last glimpse you get!”
Harry choked on his morning coffee. Sirius thwacked Harry’s back, attempting to help the spluttering teen. Harry finally caught his breath, standing up straight and shrugging Sirius’ arm off.
“I can’t say I would be too disappointed if that’s ‘the last glimpse I get,’ Sirius. I love Remus like a father, but I don’t have any real desire to see him.. Er. Yeah. No real desire to see that much of him.”
Sirius snorted. “Okay then.. More for me!”
Harry nearly choked again, then he just shook his head and sat down, leaning forward to rest his forehead on the table.
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “Tired, Harry? It’s almost ten, how long have you been up?”
Harry sat up and rolled his eyes. “Since seven thirty, Sirius.” He said. “Some of us like to see the morning.”
Sirius shook his head ruefully. “There’s something wrong with you, kid. Honestly.”
Harry looked sidelong at Sirius and grumbled. “Well, you know, I never really got to sleep in with the Dursleys. It’s been programmed into my brain that mornings are for work.”
Sirius opened his mouth, but couldn’t find anything to say. He sighed heavily. “I’m sorry we weren’t there to raise you, Harry. We should have been.”
Harry smiled reassuringly. “It’s alright, Sirius. I’m just glad to have you here now.”
Sirius’ nostrils flared, his eyes moving back and forth. “I wish I’d been there to raise you, though. I promise James and Lily I would..”
Harry patted his godfather’s arm. “You would have made a good father, I’m sure.”
Sirius brightened slightly. “You think so?”
“I know so.” Harry grinned.
Sirius sighed again. “I wish I had had the chance to find out myself.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “Who says you can’t?”
“Who says you can’t find out for yourself? You could adopt a kid; then you’d find out just what a great father you’d be.”
Sirius was silent. Harry slumped his shoulders and frowned. Sirius was brooding again. He searched his mind for something to lighten the mood.
“I bet you’d have some crazy kids, Sirius. Smart as hell, but absolutely nutters.”
Sirius snorted. “Prolly so. They’d be just like their father.”
Harry smiled. “There are worse things.”
Remus chose this moment to poke his head in the kitchen.
“May I come back in yet, or is it still too embarrassing?”
“That depends on your current state of dress,” Harry said with a perfectly straight face. Remus gave a lopsided grin and walked into the room, rubbing the back of his head. He stood in the doorway for a moment.
Taking a deep breath, he started to apologize. “I am deeply sor-“
“It’s fine. I’ve seen worse in the Quidditch lockers. Want to sit? Wait. Could you get me some more coffee first, please?”
Remus rolled his eyes. “I never signed up for raising a lazy teenager who needs four to six cups of coffee to function in the morning.. When did you start drinking coffee, anyways?” Remus took the mug and poured some coffee in it, grumbling about slave labor the whole way there and back.
“Thank you very, very much, Remus. There’s bacon in the pan, and I made some pancakes, if you want them.”
Remus grinned. “For that, I’ll get your coffee. Now, answer my question. I started drinking coffee early in life because I needed something to keep me alive after full moons. Why did you start?”
Harry sighed and put his mug down. “It’s nothing, really,” he trailed off.
Sirius blinked owlishly at Harry. “It’s never nothing for you, kid. What is it?”
Harry inhaled deeply. “Remember when I was having dreams about Voldemort, and wasn’t doing well with Occlumency?” He was greeted with two grave nods. “I started drinking coffee the summer after fifth year, to keep myself from sleeping. No sleep, no dreams.”
Sirius made a sudden movement towards Harry, then drew back. Remus frowned and said, “I’m sorry we weren’t there for you, Harry. We should have done better.”
Harry shook his head. “It’s fine. I made it through alright, didn’t I?”
Sirius sighed. “Barely. And we were horrible guardians. We should have been there for you.”
“I agree,” Remus said. “We should have been there for you. Lily would have killed us.”
Harry shifted. “I think you’ve done fine, you know.”
Remus smiled sadly and looked at Harry. “Thank you for saying that, Harry. However, you really don’t have high standards. Anyone who doesn’t lock you in a cupboard is a fine parent.”
Harry laughed dryly. “True enough. But believe it or not, I can recognize a good parent from a bad one. I think you guys are brilliant.”
Sirius smiled. “You’re good kid. Now, pass the bacon, Remus.”
Remus snorted. “You’ve always had a knack for lightening a situation Sirius. You change the subject.”
Sirius grinned and chewed on his bacon. “Good plan, I think. What do you think, Harry?”
“I think it’s a brilliant plan. Want to play a game of Quidditch when we’re done?”
Sirius nodded happily. Remus wondered about Sirius and Harry sometimes. They both tried to hide their feelings from the world. It had to do with their caustic childhoods. He chewed on his bacon and looked out the window at the garden. Remus tried not to be irritated with the two.
“Moony, you going to play with us? You and I can be a team!” Sirius clapped a hand on Remus’ shoulder.
“Hey, no fair, two against one isn’t fair game!” Harry scowled at the two men.
“Sure it is!” Sirius said. “One star Quidditch player versus two arthritic old dogs. You’ll wipe the field- Er, lawn with us!”
Remus snorted slightly. “Harry, while you’re wiping the lawn with Sirius, do you think you could use him to skim the leaves off the pond? It’s getting quite out of hand; I doubt we could swim in it now.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Are you trying to say that you’re a, not going to play Quidditch with us, and b, going to make us clean the pond again?”
Remus nodded. “Yes, Sirius, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I want to work in the garden a bit, and I want you two to help me. Call it a family project, if you will.”
Sirius paused. “Family project.. Can’t we have family Quidditch instead?”
Remus grinned. “If you clean the pond, maybe.”
“You’re such an old man, Moony. Sometimes I wonder if you’d be a better grandfather figure.”
“Are you going to clean the pond with Harry, Sirius?”
“Can we have family mud wrestling if the pond is clean?”
Harry snorted into his coffee. “I am not sure I want to get involved in any wrestling with you two. No offense.”
Remus grinned. “Probably a wise decision, Harry. Sirius, if we have a clean pond, you and I can mud wrestle.”
Sirius bounced. “Hell yes! Kid, let’s go clean the pond!”
Sirius stood up and rushed out the door. Harry sat at the table, his mouth still opened to say something. He looked at Remus pleadingly. Remus winked at him. Just then, Sirius ran back into the house and picked Harry up, slinging the young man over his shoulder and walking out the door. Remus laughed and took a sip of juice, then walked out the door to help his family.
(About two hours later)
Sirius, Remus, and Harry had all stripped down to their pants to clean the leaves out of the pond. They had fought to remove the leaves; it had been a long battle, but they won in the end. Now, instead of floating on the surface of the pond, the leaves stuck to the bodies of the three men, with about half a tree’s worth of leaves stuck in Sirius’ hair. Harry picked a leaf off of his side and held it up, raising an eyebrow at it. He looked over at Remus, who was covered in leaves from his waist to his head.
Harry inhaled, or at least tried to. A leaf covered one of his nostrils, making breathing difficult. He swatted it away irritably.
“Remus.” Harry said. “I know that you like us to do things without magic. As a bonding experience. I respect that, I really do. But.. May we please use magic to get these leaves off of us? Please?”
Sirius shook his head quickly, sending his hair flying. Some leaves fluttered out of his hair, only to stick on other parts of his body. He blinked. “I’m sure there’s some non-magical way to do this..” Sirius said. “We could light a bonfire, and walk through the flames, burning the leaves off.. I don’t think I like that plan much at all.”
Harry looked pointedly at Remus. The older man smirked and winked at Harry, walking off to get his wand. Went he returned, the leaves disappeared with a quick flick of his wrist.
“Problem solved,” Remus said.
Harry grinned. “Problem solved, with a distinct lack of firewalking.”
Sirius grinned and fell backwards, sprawling out on his back. “This is good. Firewalking probably isn’t on the list of suitable family activities.” He stared up at the trees above him, furrowing his brows slightly. “How about going to the zoo?”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “Um, Sirius, don’t you think I’m a little, well, old to go to the zoo?”
“Nonsense! The zoo is a classic place for family outings. We will have great fun!”
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but he noticed Remus nodding behind Sirius. His face showed confusion for a moment, then he smiled at Sirius.
“Alright. I used to like the zoo, maybe I’ll give it another shot. “He grinned and looked quickly at Remus. This would require some explaining, he realized.
Sirius smiled hugely, then stretched out on the grass and closed his eyes. “I think I’m going to take a nap. Does anyone care to join me?”
“No, I think I’ll pass on that one, Sirius.”
Remus nodded and stood up. “Me too, Padfoot. I have to ask Harry if my class schedule works, or if it’s too ambitious.”
Sirius yawned and stretched again. “Okay. Remember, you owe me a mud wrestling experience in our newly cleaned pond.”
“I won’t, Sirius. I promise.” Remus leaned down to stroke Sirius’ hair, placing his hand on Sirius’ forehead. “I promise.”
Harry and Remus walked towards the house, leaving Sirius to his nap.
Remus shut the door behind him as he and Harry entered the house. As soon as the door closed, Harry turned to Remus and raised his eyebrows.
Remus sighed. “Harry, Sirius really feels terrible that he wasn’t there to raise you. He hides it well enough around you, but it really tears him up inside that the Dursleys didn’t give you a proper childhood, with things like presents and family outings, and family meals. He wishes someone had been there to tell you stories, and give you hugs. He and I wish that we had been there for you.”
Harry leaned back against the wall. “I.. Remus. My childhood is gone. Nothing anyone can do will change that. I can’t redo my childhood now. It’s not possible after everything.”
Remus ran a hand through his hair. “I know, Harry. I know.”
Harry watched Remus carefully. “There’s more to it than giving me a childhood, isn’t there?”
Remus bit his lip. “Yes. There is. Harry, you met the portrait of Mrs. Black. You can guess how bad Sirius’ childhood was.”
Harry’s nostrils flared. “She seemed worse than Aunt Petunia. Petunia at least cared enough to keep me alive, if not happy.”
Remus nodded. “Anything you can imagine about Sirius’ childhood.. Multiply the worst you can think of by one hundred. His childhood was very, very cold. His parents were almost never there, he and his brother were raised by servants and matrons. What should have been his childhood play time was spent learning Latin, fencing, and court etiquette. When Sirius wasn’t the perfect Heir, he was severely punished. I don’t think he ever got a word of praise from any of the adults in his life.” Remus paused, gazing at the wall. “I think.. I think when he tries to ‘redo’ your childhood, as you put it, he is also trying to redo his own.”
Harry nodded sadly and scratched his ear. “That makes a great deal of sense. So, you’re saying Sirius is trying to relive his childhood through me?”
“Not exactly. He’s trying to have a family. He’s trying terribly hard, and it isn’t working. You’re nearly grown, Harry. I think-“
“He feels like he’s been cheated of his second chance at a family.”
Remus nodded. “Yes. He does.”
Harry pushed off from the wall, pacing down the room. When he walked back, he looked into Remus’ eyes.
“Remus, I know this is weird, coming from me.. But, could you and Sirius give a family another shot? I want to be your family, but I‘m almost grown up. Maybe our family needs something else?”
Remus’ brows furrowed.
“You two could try again.. With a younger kid. You could adopt a little kid, and start from the beginning.”
Remus ruffled the hair on the back of his head and shifted uncomfortably. “I’m not sure that’s the best idea, Harry. I don’t know if we could handle that..”
Harry smiled lopsidedly at Remus. “I think you’d be great at it. Just think how much you two could teach a kid. It’d be great!”
“Hogwarts wouldn’t survive any kid Sirius and I raised.”
Harry snickered. “I think Hogwarts is a bit tougher than that. Though, there would probably be a few dents by the end of seven years.”
“Only a few?”
“Well, probably more than a few.” Harry smiled for a moment, then the smile warped into a slight frown. “Remus, can I ask a question?”
Remus started. “Of course, Harry. You may always ask me questions. Always.”
“Well.. Sirius and I had wretched childhoods. What about you?”
The atmosphere in the entryway changed. Remus chewed on his lower lip and started moving towards the living room. Harry looked worried, and followed Remus. He settled in the middle of the couch as Remus sat in his battered armchair. Remus steepled his hands in front of his face.
“My childhood was,” he paused. “Different. I can divide into four sections, I think.” He settled back in his chair. “My early childhood, before I was bitten. I was bitten when I was four. That started another period. When I was seven and a half, my mother died. The last stage was Hogwarts.”
Harry nodded solemnly and settled down to listen.
“I don’t remember a lot about my early childhood. I remember being very happy. I do have one very clear memory of my parents taking me to a Muggle festival at a park near our town. It was lovely.”
Then, I was bitten. I remember that very clearly. I had heard a noise outside, and I went out to investigate. My parents were in the sitting room, drinking wine and telling stories with my aunt and uncle. They didn’t know I was outside. I went out into the yard, trying to find what had made the noise. I was about to go back inside when I heard something behind me. I turned around, and there he was. I screamed. If my uncle hadn’t heard me, I would have been killed.”
Remus looked over at Harry. The teenager was sitting in his chair, his elbows on his knees. Harry watched him raptly, taking in this new information.
“That started the new period in my life. My parents packed and moved to Scotland. We couldn’t stay in our old town; the people there knew about me. I stayed home for years, never really leaving except for trips to doctors who claimed they could cure me, and occasionally trips to the hospital when my injuries were too bad for my mother to heal. Life, while not good, was not bad. My mother was incredible. No matter how bad the full moon was, or how scared I was about what I had become, I knew my mother would make it better. She taught me not to hate what I had become. I wouldn’t have survived those first moons, without her.
“Then, in early November, when I was seven years old, my mother died. It was completely unexpected. She just went to sleep one night, and never woke up again. My father was devastated. Her death nearly killed him too. My parents had been married for years before they had me; my father didn’t know how to be alone when my mother died.
“My mother was a witch, my father was a Muggle. When my mother died, my father became very distant. I was already a lonely child; I couldn’t play with others my age for fear of them discovering what I was. My parents had always been my support, my everything. With my mother gone and my father nearly broken by grief, I was left on my own. I read books, I drew pictures, I played the piano. I went for long walks in the woods behind our house.
“My mother had always been there to heal my wounds after the full moon. With her gone, I was forced to use potions and Muggle healing techniques. I almost died on several occasions. My mother’s brother came from Sweden to heal me when I was really badly injured, but I was left with Muggle medicine for the other moons. I have more scars than I might have, thanks to that.” Remus had a far off look on his face. Harry wasn’t sure if Remus even knew he was there anymore.
“My father stayed very distant for quite a while. I moved on; when I turned eleven, I got a chance we had never dreamed I would get. Albus had just become headmaster of Hogwarts. He saw my name on the roster for school, and he saw that it had been crossed out. He had asked why my name had been crossed out, and when he found out what I was, he decided to make it possible for me to go to school. I was so excited. My father didn’t share my excitement; for him, it was just another loss.”
Remus threw his arm out, sighing deeply. Harry watched him carefully. He’d never really gotten to know Remus. He had loved Remus as his professor. When had Remus become family?
“Hogwarts was very good for me. I didn’t have any friends, at first. I had spent four years alone, after all, it was very shocking and a little disorienting to be around so many people my own age. I adapted quickly, though, and made a few friends.”
“The Maurauders, right?” Harry asked.
Remus shook his head. “No. Not yet. Do you know, Harry, Sirius and your father absolutely hated each other at first.”
“Really?” Harry asked. “I guess it’s like me and Ron hating Hermione in early first year.”
Remus smiled. “Similar, yes. The hatred between your father and Sirius went far deeper. They were the heirs of opposing pureblood families. I’m not sure you can understand just how much that meant thirty years ago. Sirius and James hated each other nearly as much as Sirius and Severus hate each other now.”
Harry whistled. “I’d like to know how they became friends. That’s a story for another time, though.”
“Yes. Anyways, the Maurauders did not begin their marauding until late in our first year. Before James, Sirius, Peter and I became a group, I was friends with Sirius and your mother, Lily. For the first time since I was bitten, I had friends. I met Lily first; she was such a sweet girl, when she noticed that I was always alone, she cornered me and forcibly ‘made friends’ with me.”
Harry laughed. “That’s wonderful.”
Remus nodded, a sad look coming to his eyes. “Your mother was a wonderful woman, Harry. Had I not been gay as the day and had she not been head over heels for your father, I think I might have married her.”
Harry smiled sadly. The room was silent for a few minutes. Then, Harry slouched and slung his arm over the back of the couch.
“So what about Sirius? Was it love at first sight?”
Remus chuckled. “No, it wasn’t love at first sight, actually. Sirius and I didn’t start dating until we were out of Hogwarts.”
Harry blinked. “That’s a little surprising, I guess. How did you get to be friends, then?”
“Sirius was even more ostracized than I was in my early childhood. I always knew my family loved me, even when my father was grieving. I still had my uncle and cousins. When Sirius came to Hogwarts, however, he truly had nobody.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The Blacks had always been Sorted into Slytherin, Harry. Always. Sirius’ family was rather large, and in two hundred years, there had only been four Blacks who were not Sorted into Slytherin. For Sirius to be sorted into Gryffindor was unbelievable. His family sent him letters weekly, telling him how he had shamed the family, and giving him instructions on how to make the family shame more bearable. Sirius worked himself to the bone every day to get the perfect grades his family demanded.
“His family members weren’t the only ones who made life hell for Sirius, however. The Gryffindors were appalled that a Black had been placed in their midst. For the most part, they completely ignored him. Some, your father included, were downright cruel. Besides working himself to death every day, Sirius usually had some destructive pranks to handle. They stole his clothes, hexed him, destroyed his homework, moved his things around. They made life very difficult for Sirius. I felt bad for him, because I knew that things would be as bad, and probably much worse, if people were to discover what I was.
“One day, when someone had taken all of Sirius’ homework and scattered it all over the room, I helped him pick it all up. He was shocked that someone was helping him. I spent that day partnering myself with him in our classes. By dinner, he knew he had a friend, and he was so excited. I didn’t learn until a few years later that I was the first friend he’d ever had.”
Harry’s brows furrowed. “Didn’t he have friends before Hogwarts?”
“No. He was considered too well bred, too high born for such a thing as a childhood, or friends.”
“That’s horrible. Even I had friends. Not good ones, granted, but I had a few people I knew who wouldn’t run away when I sat with them for lunch.”
“Sirius had the worst childhood I’ve ever heard of, Harry.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry mumbled, shifting in his seat again. “I didn’t know it was that bad for him.”
“It really was,” Remus trailed off, a look of pain covering his face. “Sirius says he is trying to give you a real childhood, and that is part of it. But,”
“He’s also trying to give himself a real childhood; a real family.”
Remus nodded. “Yes. Sirius has always wanted a family. He told me that when he discovered he was gay, he was terrified he would never be able to have a family.”
“Just because you and he can’t have children with each other doesn’t mean you can’t have a family, Remus. There are other options, you know.”
“I know. I don’t know if Sirius is ready for that yet, Harry. He’s so used to being alone; I’m not sure if he wants to try for a family yet.”
“Wait. You say ‘not yet.’ I take it you would want a family, then?”
“I’m not sure I’d be ready now, but yes, I have always wanted a family, Harry. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a very, very large love for children.”
Harry smiled. “I have noticed that, a bit. I’d have to be blind, deaf, and a little dim to not notice.”
Remus laughed. “Am I that obvious?”
“Yes. You are.” Harry grinned at him.
Sirius closed his eyes and lay on the ground until he heard the door close. Then, opening his eyes, he stared up at the leaves of the tree. He highly doubted Harry and Remus were talking about class plans, but he thought some private time between the two would be good. Harry had thought of Sirius as family since that night in the Shack, but he and Remus hadn’t gotten enough time together.
He smiled slightly at the branches above him. For a decade and a half, he had dreamed of lying outside and looking up at the sky, without fear of attack or capture. Now it was reality. He grinned. He’d always hoped he’d be free before he died, but only in his wildest dreams had he imagined he would have Remus and Harry with him. He had a family to lie under the sun with him.
Sirius snickered. Well, he did have a family to lie under the sun with him. They just chose not to sunburn with him today.
He stretched his arms up above his head, arching his back off the soft ground. Harry had said he’d make a good father. He wondered if the kid just said that to make him feel better, or he actually meant it.
He rolled over onto his stomach and drew lines in the dirt underneath him. He’d always wanted a family, but he never thought he would get another chance. With the exception of Andromeda and his Uncle Alphard, the Black family had been painful for him. His second family, forged from blood, sweat, and tears, the Maurauders, had died a tragic death so many years ago. Sirius never thought he’d get another chance, but here he was. He rested his chin on his hand. Remus had accepted him again, after Azkaban. It had been a long, harrying process, but he and Remus were finally together again. They had managed to start again. They couldn’t just pick up their old relationship; Remus had spent too much time getting on with his life, and Sirius had Azkaban to thank for the scars on his soul. They were both very different from the desperate nineteen year olds who had fallen together so many years ago.
So they had started over. Sirius smiled at the heart he had drawn in the dirt. It had hurt. They had fought a lot when they were first together in Harry’s fifth year. Remus had been frustrated, Sirius was hurting terribly. He had been running for two years, never really having the time to think about everything that had happened to him. At Grimmauld Place, he was safe from capture. He could really take the time to think about things, and it had nearly killed him. If Remus hadn’t been there, it would have.
Slowly, slowly, Remus and Sirius fell in love with each other again. In early sixth year, Harry had walked in on them sharing a tentative kiss. Harry had walked right back out of the room. Sirius and Remus hadn’t known the teen had seen them until the next morning, after they asked why Harry was giving them the silent treatment.
Harry had not been accepting of their relationship. He stayed silent around the two of them for months. The ice between them had finally broken when Ron went missing for a week in the mid sixth year. When Ron returned relatively intact, Harry had a complete nervous breakdown. After getting out of the hospital wing, Harry had contacted Remus and Sirius, saying he didn’t care about them being together, he just needed to talk to them. He said he didn’t want them to go missing too, and have the last thing they remembered about him be how thick he was.
Sirius closed his eyes and absorbed the sunlight. They’d had to fight for it, but their family was finally together, and it was a happy family.
He wished they’d had more time, though. He wished he’d had the chance to raise Harry with Remus. He wished he could have been the Godfather James and Lily would have wanted for their son. He would have loved to teach Harry how to fly, read books to him, sing him to sleep.
Sirius smiled fondly as he remembered one of the times he and Remus had babysat Harry. They had played hide and seek for hours that day, until Harry hit his head on the table and started bawling. Sirius and Remus had tried everything they could think of to get Harry to stop crying, but nothing had worked. Finally the two of them had gotten him to stop crying; by stand together with both their arms around him, and serenading the boy with Italian love songs.
He missed that. He missed children. Harry wasn’t a child anymore; Sirius wasn’t sure he’d ever been a child. Voldemort and the Dursleys had stolen Harry’s childhood from him. Harry was a wonderful young man. Sirius wanted children>.
Sighing hugely, Sirius wished Remus and he could have children. Harry’s suggestion of adoption was a good one, but Sirius didn’t want someone else’s baby. He wanted their baby, his and Remus’ baby. He wanted to be able to look at their kid and see himself in the child. He wanted people to say to him ‘Sirius, your son looks just like you!’ or “She’s got your eyes, Sirius, and Remus’ nose.” He knew, intellectually, that it wasn’t possible for them to have a baby of their own, but that wouldn’t stop him from wishing.
Sirius was snapped out of his musing as the door creaked open. Remus peered at him from the doorstep, trying to see if Sirius was awake or not. Seeing his lover’s eyes open and watching him, Remus smiled softly and walked towards Sirius. He knelt down in front of Sirius, who looked up at Remus from the ground.
“Hey,” Sirius said.
Remus searched his eyes and smiled softly. “Hey,” he whispered back.
Sirius reached up and pulled Remus down to the ground with him, turning on his side and wrapping his arms around Remus’ waist. The tawny haired man smiled at Sirius and placed a hand at the back of his neck, pulling them together for a kiss. Sirius relaxed into Remus, feeling the other man relax into him.
“Love you,” Sirius murmured, breaking the kiss. Remus pressed his forehead against Sirius’ and smiled. “I love you too, Sirius. I’m so glad to have you in my life.”
Remus closed his eyes and inhaled deeply as Sirius’ hand ran slowly up and down his side.
“Remus.. do you ever think about what it would be like if we had children?”
Remus opened his eyes and examined Sirius closely.
“Do you? I want to know, Moony..”
Remus nodded slowly, his eyes never leaving Sirius. “I do, Sirius. I love children. I wish we could have our own..”
“Me too.. Did you hear Harry’s suggestion this morning?” Sirius asked as he threaded his fingers with Remus’.
Deciding a little untruth would make Sirius feel better, Remus said “No, I didn’t. I was putting my clothes on..”
Sirius laughed throatily and kissed Remus quickly. “You gave the youngling quite a view, didn’t you? Didn’t seem to phase him too much, though. I’m glad. I’m glad he’s comfortable around us again.”
“Sirius? You were going to tell me what Harry said?”
Sirius snickered. “I was getting there, no need to rush. You’re always in such a hurry, Remus.. Sit back and enjoy the time you have, won’t you?”
“I will.. After you tell me what Harry said.” Remus grinned at Sirius. Sirius snorted and said, “Alright, oh impatient one. Harry suggested we adopt a baby. He said we’d make good parents.”
Remus gave Sirius a searching look. “What do you think, Sirius?”
“We’re sure you understand.” Ms. Shalent, the Wizarding Adoption Agency president told them. “We’ve looked over your files, and we simply don’t think it would be appropriate to place a child with you at this time.”
Sirius and Remus sat in the uncomfortable chairs, staring at the woman behind the enormous wooden desk incredulously.
“What do you mean, ‘not appropriate,” Sirius asked. “We’ve been together for years, we’ve already proven we can take care of children with Harry. We’ve got a house, money, health care; Remus has a stable job, and I’ve got family money piled to Mars. What do you mean, not appropriate?”
The woman folded her hands on top of her papers. “We don’t believe that your family would offer a stable atmosphere for the child. Children need stability to grow up strong. You have not shown us that you can offer that.”
Remus looked calmly at the woman. “Stability? I believe Sirius just illustrated that we have a very stable home. I am not sure what you mean. Could you explain what you mean when you say we can’t offer stability?”
The woman played with the papers on her desk in irritation. “Mr. Lupin, with your health condition, and Mr. Black, with your.. Past history, we don’t think it would be wise to leave a child in your care. Anyways, surely you have your hands full with the Boy Who Lived?”
Sirius glared. “Harry. His name is Harry. If you’d spent half a day in our family, you’d know what a wonderful kid Harry is, and you’d know how much it hurts him that the whole world still sees him as the ‘Boy Who Lived.’ He’s happy with us, for the first time in his life. What is this shit about it not being ‘appropriate’ for us to raise a child?”
The woman sneered and opened her mouth to say something, but Remus cut her off.
“Thank you, Ms. Shalent. We’re glad you took the time to see us. Now, we need to be going. Good bye.”
Sirius opened his mouth to protest, but a look from Remus silence him. The two men stood up and walked from the office, down the hall that would lead them out of the building.
Sirius slowed down as they walked down the hall. Remus continued walking down the hall until he realized Sirius wasn’t beside him. He turned around, looking for his partner.
“Sirius? What are you looking at, lover?”
Sirius was standing near on of the walls, looking the pictures hanging on the wall. Remus frowned and walked over to Sirius, dreading what he might see. The two of them stood with their sides pressed together, staring at the pictures.
“They look happy, don’t they, Remus?”
Remus nodded sadly, his throat closing up. Covering the wall were framed pictures of clean, smiling children with handsome, well groomed fathers and lovely, kindly looking mothers. Each picture was the same, though the faces changed. They had a cute child, an accomplished looking father, and a caring mother. On a plaque in the middle of the wall there was a message left for visitors:
“Building strong, happy families that would make our Wizarding ancestors proud.”
Sirius looked over at Remus. “Remus,” he asked. “What did our ancestors think of homosexuals?”
Remus swallowed hard. “Before the 1900’s, anyone who was openly homosexual got a life sentence in Azkaban, no questions asked.” Sirius twitched. He turned on his heel and walked quickly out of the building, Remus close behind him.
“Ron, why is the Wizarding world so messed up? I don’t get it,” Harry ranted, pacing around Ron’s room at the Burrow. Hermione was sitting against the wall, watching Harry pace. “I mean, the Muggle world is bad sometimes, but it’s not as all around fucked up as this one is.”
Ron sat up on his bed. “What’re you talking about, Harry? It’s pretty good here! Now that things are back to normal, I don’t think you’ve got anything to complain about, here in our world.”
Harry growled and threw a pillow at Ron. “How about the fact that Sirius and Remus can’t adopt a kid because they’re homosexual? How is that fair?”
Ron caught the pillow and made a face at the wall behind Harry. “It’s really bad, yes, but just think. Now Sirius can spend all his time with you, right?”
Harry glared. “Sirius wants to have a baby. He can’t do that. It’s not fair, Ron!”
The red haired boy rolled over on his bed. “If he wants to have a baby, why doesn’t he go find a wife? Things would be a lot easier, then.”
Harry turned red. “Ron, Sirius and Remus are in love with each other. Sirius can’t ‘go find a wife,’ he wants to stay with Remus.”
“I see.” Ron’s brows furrowed as he thought. Seeming to come to a conclusion, he said, “Well, I guess Sirius isn’t meant to have a family then.” He shrugged.
Harry gaped like a fish. “Not meant to have a family? Not meant to have a family?!” His voice cracked. “What the fuck, Ron? Sirius and Remus want to build a family, I sure as hell think they deserve the same chance other couples would get!”
“Then maybe they should try to be normal!”
Harry’s eyes bugged out behind his glasses. He stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Ron turned to look at Hermione. “You agree with me, don’t you? They’re not normal, Sirius and Remus. It’s not normal, what they’re doing.”
Hermione stared at Ron silently. Ron started turning red. “You do, don’t you? Why have you been so quiet? Normally we can’t shut you up. Is there something wrong with you?”
Hermione stood up quickly and pursed her lips. “No, Ron, there’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with this whole world. ‘Not normal,’ you say. What’s wrong with them loving each other? What problem could there possibly be with two men finally finding some happiness in each other?”
“It’s just not right, Hermione! There are certain rules in out society! They’re breaking them, and damaging our community structure as a whole!”
“Damaging your community structure. Where did you get that one, Ron? Malfoy? Some other pureblood bigot? Probably the same people who say Muggle born students at Hogwarts are demeaning to your society. That’s what Malfoy said to me, once. He said dirty blood damaged the Wizarding community, and if I loved this world, I would leave now. You sound an awful lot like Malfoy right now, Ron.”
Ron gaped. He had truly expected her to agree with him. He didn’t understand why she was glaring at him coldly after she had actually yelled at him. That was not what he had been expecting.
Hermione pursed her lips and looked searchingly at Ron. Her nostrils flared and she gritted her teeth. “I see,” she said. She turned and walked out of the room, leaving Ron alone to deal with his shock.
Hermione closed the door furiously and leaned on the wall outside Ron’s room. She hated being the bad guy. She knew Ron hadn’t put any thought into the things he said. She also suspected that if he actually thought about things for a while, he would realize that he was wrong. He’d done it before; after all, he now accepted Remus teaching his classes.
She sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. It never seemed to change. No matter what world she saw, there were people hating other people for stupid things. She wondered if it would ever get better. She rolled her head on her shoulders, wincing at the crackling sounds her vertebrate made. Pushing off from the wall, Hermione started down the stairs. She wanted to talk to Harry.
She carefully avoided meeting any of the Weasleys on her way down. She knew that prejudices like Ron’s often ran in families. She wasn’t sure how she could face the Weasleys right now.
Looking around outside the Weasley house, Hermione wondered where Harry would have gone. Taking a wild guess, she headed towards the field where the Weasleys played mock Quidditch.
As she suspected, Harry was standing in the middle of the field, his hands in his pockets, staring up at the sky. Hermione walked out to stand next to him.
“What do you see up there, Harry?”
Harry’s head tilted back further as he examined the grey English sky. “I see clouds,” He said. Hermione poked him. “Okay, okay,” Harry muttered, rubbing his side. “See how the clouds up there are kind of smooth along the top? That means there are strong upper atmosphere winds.. It might storm later today.”
Hermione raised her eyebrows. “Since when do you know about weather?”
“I like to know whether I can expect to be hit by lightening when I go flying.”
“Fair enough,” Hermione said, nodding.
Harry turned his head from the sky to Hermione. “So, why did you really follow me?”
“I don’t think Ron is permanently stuck in the Dark Ages,” Hermione stated flatly. “I do think he can be taught. He’s got these ideas from his family and his culture. I believe if he thinks things out for himself, he’ll see things out way. He is a good person, Harry. He’s just misinformed.”
Harry nodded and stared out at the field. The slight breeze ruffled through his hair as he stood there in silence. Finally, he said quietly, “I do agree with you, Hermione. I think Ron’s a great guy. I just.. Wish I felt as optimistic about the rest of this world.”
Hermione sighed. “Is the Wizarding Adoption Agency the only adoption agency they can check?”
“I believe so.” He ran his hands through his hair irritably, frowning. “Think about it, Hermione. How many adoptions agencies for Wizarding children can there be? There aren’t even that many orphaned Wizarding children. They would have a better chance convincing one of the women they know to carry a baby for them.”
Hermione snapped her fingers. “Harry, that’s it!”
“What’s it?” Harry asked. “Hermione, I think Tonks is the only woman they know who could really carry a baby, and I don’t think she’d want to do that..”
“No, Harry. Not Tonks.” Hermione glowed energy, the way she did in school when she was solving a difficult problem. “Have you ever heard of surrogacy?”
Sirius eyed the walls of the hallway, growing more uncomfortable with every step he took.
“Remus, have I mentioned that I dislike hospitals?” He asked in a slightly higher than normal voice.
Remus shook his head ruefully behind Sirius’ back. “Yes, you’ve mentioned that several times. All we have to do is get your examination, and then we can leave. No problems at all, Sirius.”
Sirius nodded, his shoulder muscles tensing further with every step he took.
“Why is it they can’t poke you, Remus?”
“I’m a werewolf, Sirius.” Remus’ lips turned down in a small frown. “Nobody has bothered to get rid of the law forbidding lycanthropic reproduction. It was originally instated when they still thought lycanthropy could be spread from parent to child.”
Sirius stopped walking and relaxed his tense muscles. Turning to Remus, he put his hand on the other man’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Moony. That’s not fair to you..”
Remus smiled lopsidedly. “It won’t break me,” he said in a soft voice. “It hurts me, but it won’t kill me. I promise.”
Sirius smiled at Remus. “I know it won’t break you, Remus. You’re a tough bastard.”
“I like to think so.” Remus said, smiling and turning Sirius in the direction of the doctor’s office. “Now. To the doctor, Sirius. On with you. The sooner we get this done, the sooner you can run home and inhale ‘real air’ again.”
Sirius nodded emphatically. “Hospital air is bottled air, you know.” He told Remus as they walked down the hall. “They keep it in bottles and release it as they need it. That’s why it always smells weird.”
“Oh really? What do the air bottles look like, Sirius?” Remus stifled a smile.
“Damned if I know! We should go try to find them. We should do that now.” Sirius tried to walk in a different direction. Remus caught his shoulders and pointed him in the direction of the doctor’s office.
“Alright, you, get walking. We can go looking for the air bottles after your exam, if you want.”
Sirius made a slightly panicked face and dug his feet in. Turning his head to Remus, he asked, “Remus, have I mentioned that-“
“Yes. Now, on with you, you silly mutt. I want to go home and breathe non-bottled air.”
“Okay.” Sirius reluctantly started walking towards the office again. Remus opened the door. Sirius walked in, his legs stiff and rebelling.
They sat there for a few minutes, waiting. After a few minutes, an older woman nurse knocked on the door and entered. Sirius cringed when he saw the paper robe she was carrying.
“Alright, Mr. Black, I need to ask you a few questions, okay?” Sirius nodded, his jaw too tense for him to speak.
“Alright. Have you abused any unauthorized substances within the last year?” Sirius shook his head.
“That’s good. Any heavy drinking within the last year?” Again, Sirius shook his head. Remus shot him a look and smiled at him gently. A year ago, Sirius would not have been able to say no to that question.
“Hold out your arm please? I need to take your blood pressure.” Sirius did as he was told. The woman flicked her wand and muttered a spell. After a few seconds, she nodded to herself. “Very nice. Now, your temperature.” Another flick of her wand measured Sirius’ temperature, which was also normal.
“Alright. This is good. Now; did Azkaban cause any lingering health problems?”
Sirius looked over at Remus, his brow furrowing. “Besides being underweight, no, I don’t think so.”
She nodded. “Have you been hit with any curses that would cause permanent damage?” Sirius shook his head.
“You registered as an Animagus this year, yes? That won’t be a problem.. Are there any family histories I should know about?”
Sirius scowled. “Except for insanity, no,” he said. The nurse raised her eyebrows at him.
“Insanity Sirius shows no signs of having inherited,” Remus said, stepping in before something went badly. The nurse nodded.
“Okay then,” she said. “Dr. Galeska has ordered some tests, so I will need to take a blood sample. This is standard procedure, there’s nothing to be concerned about.” She drew a test tube full of blood from Sirius. “And a sample from you, Mr. Lupin.” She repeated the blood drawing procedure with Remus.
“Alright, lads, I’m done. Mr. Black, if you could put this on,” she held out the paper robe. “Dr. Galeska will be with you shortly.” The nurse smiled as she backed out the door.
Sirius eyed the paper robe. “Remus,” he said, raising an eyebrow. “Am I the only one whose fashion sense is insulted by this?”
Remus laughed and kissed Sirius’ cheek. “Actually, I find it quite lovely. Just look, it has no back!” Remus winked as Sirius leered. “Put it on, you. The doctor wants to enjoy the view, same as me.”
Sirius grumbled as he stripped the robes off his body. He carefully stepped into the robe given to him. It immediately began chafing him in his most sensitive places. He winced when the robe crunched as he sat down. He sent an irritated look to Remus, who simply smiled in sympathy.
The two sat there waiting, Remus admiring the ceiling and Sirius crunching as he moved around on the examining table. Remus was about to tell Sirius off for fidgeting when a knock on the door reminded them why they were there.
“Hello, Sirius.” The doctor greeted, smiling widely. He looked like a friendly man, with greying blond hair and understanding blue eyes. “I’m Dr. Galeska, but I’m sure you know that. I..” He trailed off, seeming to notice Remus for the first time. “Hello, sir. I have to ask you to leave; this is a private physical.”
Sirius stood up uncertainly. “Remus is here as my partner. I want him to stay.”
Dr. Galeska frowned. "Hospital policy only allows family members to stay during a medical examination."
“You don’t understand,” Sirius said, stepping closer to Remus. “Remus is my family. I want him to be here.”
“It’s against hospital policy.” Turning to Remus, Dr. Galeska said, “I’m sorry, sir, but I have to ask you to leave.”
Sirius opened his mouth to speak, holding a hand out to Remus. Remus was standing now, facing the doctor. Dr. Galeska’s homely face flushed. “Sir, leave now or I will have you removed from hospital.” He glared at Remus. Remus, sensing that he couldn’t win here, turned to kiss Sirius gently then walked calmly out the door, closing it behind him.
“Now, if we can just get along with the procedure,” Dr. Galeska said, turning towards Sirius. Noting the glowering of the other man, the doctor said simply, “It’s policy. I’m sorry if that bothers you and your.. Partner.” He spat the last word as though it were an obscenity.
Sirius looked at Dr. Galeska incredulously as the man began his examination. He wanted to feel furious. All he felt, though, was numb. Again, someone had refused to recognize his relationship with Remus. What’s more, the doctor had been openly hostile. Sirius wished he could still feel hurt and furious, but he couldn’t. Not after it had happened so many times. Slumping his shoulders, he did whatever Dr. Galeska told him to, wanting to get it over so he could leave the hospital.
Remus sat quietly in the waiting room chair staring at a home and gardens magazine. He wondered if the child he and Sirius were going to have would have to deal with bigotry. Maybe things would get better before the child reached reasoning age? Remus hoped against hope that their child would never have to know the pain of hatred.
His head lifted as the door opened and Sirius walked into the room. Remus stood up as the black haired man walked towards him. Their eyes met for a long moment.
“Let’s get out of here, Moony,” Sirius finally whispered. Remus nodded.
When Remus opened his eyes at his house, he saw Sirius had Apparated home right next to him. Without warning, Sirius moved into Remus, pinning him to the wall and claiming his lips in a deep kiss. Closing his eyes, Remus moved his hands up into Sirius’ hair and moaned as the other man’s tongue traveled over his own.
Sirius shuffled closer, pressing his body to Remus’. Remus groaned when he felt Sirius’ erection against his thigh.
“Sirius,” he slurred. “Upstairs.” Gasping when Sirius nipped at his lower lip, he summoned his strength and pushed Sirius away. “Meet you in the bedroom.” He headed for the stairs, Sirius close behind him.
When they reached the door to their room, Remus turned and smiled at Sirius, reaching out to stroke his lover’s cheek. Sirius closed his eyes and leaned into the caress, humming his approval. Remus loved the noises Sirius made during sex. Opening the door to their bedroom, Remus pulled Sirius after him, towards the bed.
Sirius caught Remus’ hand and stepped close, claiming Remus’ lips in a deep kiss. They stumbled towards the bed, neither wanting to break the kiss. A deep sigh sounded as Sirius pushed the robes off his lover’s shoulders, freeing most of Remus’ skin. Breaking the kiss, Sirius kissed and tongued his way down Remus’ neck, sliding his hands over the other man’s back and sides, making him moan.
Sirius pulled back from Remus, stepping away to admire his lover. Remus stood before him, back straight and shoulders back, his eyes staring back at Sirius. He held his held high, showing off the strong muscles of his neck, doing nothing to hide the monstrous bite scar on his right shoulder. There were several smaller scars on Remus’ torso; Sirius followed their path with his eyes all the way down, to the erection readily visible under Remus’ underwear.
Remus caught Sirius’ smile and smirked, striking a pose for Sirius. He let his hands travel the same path of scars down his chest. He met Sirius’ eyes as he slipped his underwear off, moving his hips seductively. Lips quirking slightly at Sirius’ open mouthed stare, Remus stroked his own legs, teasing himself and Sirius.
“Like what you see, Sirius?” He whispered. Sirius gulped and shook his head, standing up straight and staring back at Remus. “Yes,” he whispered back. He slowly undid the fastenings on his own robes. “Two can play that game, Moony..” He slid his own robes off, letting them crumple at his feet. He hooded his eyes, moving his hips slowly and running his hands up and down his body. Now it was Remus’ turn to gape, as Sirius ran his hands up and down, finally pulling off his boxers so Remus could have the full view.
The two of them stood on opposite sides of the room, touching themselves to taunt the other. They had played this game before, many times. There was no telling who would break first.
Today it was Remus. He moaned as he stroked his own penis, tilting his head back to expose his neck to Sirius. Never one to miss an opportunity, Sirius quickly stepped forwards to claim Remus’ neck, sucking at the sensitive skin. Remus moaned and fell back onto the bed, holding his arms out to Sirius. Sirius leaned over Remus, kissing the other man passionately before pressing his body down onto Remus, thrusting their erections together. Remus groaned and moved his hands down Sirius’ back, making Sirius’ shiver.
Remus shivered underneath Sirius. “Sirius,” he breathed. “Please..” Sirius searched the amber eyes underneath him, then nodded. He moved off of Remus and opened a drawer on the bedside table, pulling out a half empty tube of lubricant. He smiled as he squeezed the gel out onto his hand and gently spread in onto his aching erection. He moaned as he rubbed the lubricant over his cock, his head lolling as his hand moved. Remus sat up slowly, placing his hand over Sirius’ to still him.
Sirius hummed again and pushed Remus down onto the bed gently. Remus spread his legs and relaxed his muscles completely, to make entrance easier for both of them. Sirius stared down at Remus as he positioned himself.
“Ready?” Remus nodded and braced himself. The first thrust always hurt.
Sirius cupped his cheek and kissed him gently, thrusting forwards and entering him slowly. Remus held his breath as Sirius held still, waiting for Remus to adapt around him. When Remus exhaled slowly, Sirius moved slowly inside him. Sirius’ tongue stroked Remus’ lips gently as he moved back and forth inside his lover’s body.
Remus closed his eyes for a moment, waiting for his muscles to relax completely. There was always a moment when he worried it wouldn’t stop hurting, that his body wouldn’t adapt.. His body always knew Sirius after the initial shock, though. His muscles always relaxed. Remus moaned when Sirius tilted slightly, rubbing his cock against Remus’ prostate. Remus tilted his hips and wrapped his legs around Sirius’ waist, pulling the dark haired man down to kiss him.
Sirius rocked against Remus, closing his eyes and praying with each thrust that he would fall into Remus completely. He hummed, his hums turning to growls as they rocked together. He faltered slightly when Remus leaned up to kiss the base of his throat, where the noises vibrated in his throat.
Remus smiled. “Love you, Sirius,” he murmured against Sirius’ skin. Sirius moaned, his hands moving to Remus’ torso to play with his hardened nipples. Smiling at Remus’ moans, Sirius said quietly, “I love you too, Remus.”
One of Sirius’ hands slipped down Remus’ chest to wrap around Remus’ erect penis. Remus’ mouth fell open as he bucked forward into the touch. He moved his hands down Sirius’ back, running his fingers up and down Sirius’ spine.
Sirius closed his eyes and tangled his tongue with Remus’, losing himself in his lover’s body. Remus smiled at Sirius’ slack expression and moved his hips upwards, pushing into Sirius’ thrusts. A loud moan came in response, and Sirius tightened his hand around Remus’ shaft and pumped harder. Remus’ eye slid out of focus and his muscles tensed as they slid towards oblivion together.
Sirius tensed, feeling his testicles tighten. He rocked forwards against Remus, groaning when Remus met the thrust with a hard upwards movement. A few more repeats of the thrusting, and Sirius was lost. His eyes snapped open, meeting Remus’ own, and he poured his seed into Remus. Feeling the hot explosion of semen inside him, Remus arched his back and came with a deep, throaty moan, pouring his own seed out onto their stomachs.
They lay on the bed tangled in each other, still trembling from the after effects of orgasm. Remus caressed Sirius’ sweaty sides gently, making Sirius whimper and nuzzle closer. They crawled up to the pillows and wrapped their arms around each other, ready for a nap.
Sirius pressed his face against Remus’ shoulder, exhaling slowly.
“Love you, Moony..” He whispered.
Remus ran his hand tiredly down Sirius’ back. “Love you too, Padfoot..”
“So we’re supposed to just.. Pick a woman?” Remus raised his eyebrows. He was skeptical, to say the least. “I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea of ordering a mother. Am I the only one who finds this odd?”
Reaching over to turn the page of the booklet, Sirius shook his head. “I think it’s a bit strange myself, Moony. But I want our baby. So.. Pick a woman, any woman.”
Remus blinked and tapped his fingers on the chair. “This is so bizarre..”
Sirius hummed to himself to keep from remembering how uncomfortable he was with this whole procedure. It was very odd to be sitting at the kitchen table, flipping through a catalogue of mothers for your child. He blew a raspberry and turned the page again.
“What exactly are we looking for, here?” Sirius asked. “A tall blonde with big breasts, or something?”
Remus gave Sirius the look. “Well, as we’re not looking for a sex toy, we are looking for a mother of our child, I think tall and blonde should not be our criteria.”
Sirius snorted. “Right. This is true. So.. We want her to be smart. Of course she’ll be a witch.. This is a Wizarding surrogate program, after all.”
“She needs to live in England,” Remus said. “For obvious reasons. Does it say anything about the woman’s sense of humor in here?” He flipped through the pages, looking at the descriptions of each woman. There were pictures for each woman, then a page or so dedicated to her medical history. Then there was a section on her schooling, her profession, and some notes about her family and previous children. After that came a paragraph or two written by the woman herself.
Sirius nodded. “Okay. Let’s search.” He waved his wand over the book and muttered a spell, along with the words ‘witch, smart, and funny.’ The pages of the booklet waved back and forth, then about half of the pages started glowing. “Right. We need to look at the glowing pages.”
Remus stared. “Where did you learn that spell, Sirius? I’ve never heard it before.”
“It’s was in one of Harry’s textbooks,” Sirius said, shrugging. “Most of them are pretty good, but Moony, all the Defense Against the Dark Arts books he has are terrible.”
Remus frowned and turned to the first glowing page, reading what was there as he spoke. “All the Defense textbooks I’ve looked at are terrible. I’m not sure there are any good ones.”
“That’s not good,” Sirius mumbled. He read through the first glowing page, then turned the page quickly. “She’s a social conservative, and she works for the Ministry of Magical Law Enforcement. I don’t want a criminal justice worker.”
Remus scowled. “Me neither.”
They kept looking through the book. “See anyone yet?” Sirius asked.
“Sirius,” Remus said calmly. “We are on the third page. Be patient, okay?”
Sirius made a face and flipped around in the book, interrupting Remus’ reading. Randomly picking a page, he turned his head to the side and started reading. About thirty seconds later, he said “No,” and moved on to the next. Three “No's later and Remus was interested. Sirius had dismissed four women in two minutes, and now he had been reading for three minutes in complete silence. Remus gently moved Sirius’ hand on the page so he could read as well.
When they had finished, they turned to look at each other. Sirius searched Remus’ eyes for a moment.
“I want her, Remus. She’s the one.”
Remus nodded. “I think so too, love.”
The counselor smiled at Remus and Sirius as they walked to their meeting with the future mother of their child. Remus felt sure his lunch was going to come back to visit him again, and Sirius was fidgeting and twitching like crazy. The psychological counselor assigned to them by the surrogacy agency smiled again and stopped them both with a hand on each of their shoulders.
“Stop worrying so much, you lot,” she told them. “Sara and William won’t bite. Every couple I see panics about this part, but trust me, everything will be fine. You have similar opinions on many things, and you all have the interests of your future child in mind.” She gave them a final pat on the shoulders and opened the door to the meeting room. “You’ll be fine.”
Remus swallowed hard as they entered the casually decorated conference room. He was sure he’d never felt this nervous before. Looking over at Sirius, he saw that his lover was several shades paler than usual and breaking out in cold sweat. He scanned the room, figuring the coupe they would be meeting were on the couch facing away from him.
Bracing themselves, Sirius and Remus walked towards the couch. Before they could build up the courage to say something, a woman stood and grinned at them. She had long, slightly curled dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes, nicely accented by pale skin and full, red lips.
“Hi you! I’m Sara, your womb donor. I’m nervous as shit, so I thought I’d just speak up at get the introduction jitters over with.” She held out a hand to Sirius. “I’m Sara, and you are?”
Sirius blinked at the woman’s bluntness and her American accent. Reaching out to grasp her hand, he answered her in a nervous sounding voice. “I’m Sirius. I’m.. Well, I’m glad we’re not the only nervous once here.”
Sara smiled widely and shook his hand enthusiastically. “Nope, you’re not. Believe me, Will and I are completely terrified.” She released Sirius hand and took Remus, shaking it. “What about you? You look a little less nervy than he and I do, I think.”
Remus smiled and shook Sara’s hand slowly. “I’m Remus, and I think I’m probably about as nervous as the two of you.”
Sara turned back to gesture behind her. “Will, get up, you. Stop hiding in the leather couch and meet Remus and Sirius!”
A tall blond man stood up slowly and turned towards the group. He gave them an uneasy smile and looked them over with blue eyes. “Hello, Sirius, Remus,” he said in a deep voice. “This whole thing is a little strange to me, so I hope you’ll forgive any awkwardness on my part. It will pass, you just have to give me a moment, yes?”
Remus smiled and shook William’s hands. “Hello, William. I can understand a little.. Discomfort. This is a little odd, isn’t it?”
William chuckled uneasily and scratched under his jaw. “It is indeed. I’m glad we can help you, though.” He shifted his weight from foot to foot. “I hate to be blunt, but which one of you is going to be the father?”
Remus and Sirius glanced at each other quickly. “I will be the donor,” Sirius said, turning his gaze back to Sara and William. “Remus can’t, for health reasons.”
William nodded and Sara smiled. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence where no one could think of anything to say. Then William moved his hand quickly, waving at the second couch. “Please, have a seat! There’s some cheese and tea on the table, let’s.. Be sociable.”
They sat across from each other, neither couple breaking the silence in the room. They listened to the wind blow through the trees outside the window, each waiting for the other to speak. Remus finally broke the silence, clearing his throat to speak.
“Well then. I understand you and William have a son, Sara? How old is he?”
Sara shook her head quickly, snapping out of her trance. “Oh, Thomas is six. He’s quite hyperactive. Sometimes I wonder how Will and I have managed to keep up with him!” Remus smiled. “I remember being six. The only time I was still was when I passed out on my bed at night. All my waking hours were spent driving my parents mad. I’m told it’s the age.”
William shook his head ruefully and chuckled. “It must be something like that. I’m amazed by the kid’s energy. I wish I could siphon some of it for myself, sometimes.”
They laughed. “Children have incredible amounts of energy,” Remus said. “I sometimes wish I could bottle some of my students’ energy and keep it for rainy days when I feel like sleeping all day.”
“I know!” Sara exclaimed. “I wonder how Thom does it some days. I don’t even want to get out of bed, and he’s bouncing around all over the house, playing with my paints and making an absolute mess of the house!”
Sirius leaned forwards and peered closely at Sara. “So you’re an artist. May I ask your reasons for being a surrogate mother?”
Remus and William both glared at Sirius for his bluntness. Remus shot an apologetic look at William, who gave a curt nod at the look. Sara, however, seemed completely unperturbed by Sirius’ straightforwardness.
“We want to make sure we have money saved for Thom to go to school.” She said, looking straight into Sirius’ eyes. “I want the best for my son. Surrogacy creates Thom’s school fund, and it feels worthwhile. We get what we want for Thom, and you get the child you want. It seems like a win win situation to me.”
Sirius nodded, the muscles in his face relaxing. He felt a lot better knowing that she wasn’t here just to have another baby. He’d been afraid that Sara might come to have a baby, and when the child was born, she might not want to give it to him and Remus. Sara’s explanation had diminished those fears.
Remus and William looked at each other. Neither of them had ever completely figured out how his partner had survived, being so blunt. It seemed to have worked well with Sara and Sirius, though. William leaned forward to take a cookie from the table.
“So, Remus,” he said. “What do you do?”
Remus smiled. “I teach Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizarding. It’s wonderful.”
The others smiled and began really talking to each other. The counselor stood at the door to the meeting room, smiling. Another successful match, she thought to herself.
Sirius sat in the library room of his and Remus’ house, staring at his parchment. He’d been disgusted with Harry’s Defense textbooks, and had decided he would write his own. He’d been great at defense. Being great at defense, and writing a textbook on defense were two different stories, as Sirius was rapidly realizing. He sighed and put his forehead on the desk. What had he been thinking?
He sat up slowly. Remus and Harry were home for the winter holidays. He’d really missed them during the school year. Remus had come home every night, but Sirius had been alone during the day. He stood up, deciding that he wasn’t going to get anymore done on his book today.
He picked up his coffee cup and ruffled his hair. Remus and Harry were at the Weasleys’. Sirius had chosen not to go, because he and Molly still despised each other. Sirius wasn’t sure he would ever forgive her for her nastiness during Harry’s fifth year. Sirius didn’t take well to insults.
Walking up the stairs to what was turning into the baby’s room, Sirius wondered how Sara and William were faring over the holiday. Sara was three months pregnant. They had gone to the hospital in mid-November; their baby was very healthy and developing normally. He hoped Sara was getting over her morning sickness; she’d told the doctor that it had been terrible.
Sirius leaned on the door to the baby’s room. The golden wooden floors were hidden by a thick woven rug that covered the floor around the crib. The crib was old; it had been Remus’. Remus’ father had given it to him before he had died, and Remus had kept it in his attic.
He glared at the walls. Remus thought the walls should be moss green, Sirius wasn’t sure. He supposed they might as well be green, but some part of him said they should be blue.
“Are you still brooding over the walls, Sirius?”
Sirius nearly jumper out of his skin. “Remus,” he said, turning to the man behind him. “Don’t do that to a man!” Remus laughed and leaned against the other side of the door.
“They should be green.”
“No, they should be blue.” Sirius poked under Remus’ ribs.
“Green goes beautifully with the gold of the wooden floors. They should be green.”
“I think bright red would work,” Harry said, surprising the two men. “Just imagine a brilliant red room.”
Remus and Sirius took a moment to imagine a brilliant red room. Sirius eyed the walls again, as Remus closed his eyes to envision the red room. They both seemed to come to a conclusion at the same time.
“Harry,” Remus said calmly. “You are straight, right?”
“Then you’re not allowed to decorate or design anything. At all.” Remus looked at him pointedly. “You should find a girl who can dress you once you move out of our care, because you’ll never have taste.”
Harry turned red and rolled his eyes. “I dress myself just fine, thank you.”
“Right..” Sirius said, eying Harry’s red Quidditch robes and brilliant orange Chuddley Canons hat. Harry mock glared and stomped down the stairs, muttering something about crazy gay guys on his way.
Sirius snickered and shook his head, turning back to the room. Looking at the floor and the rug, he nodded.
“You’re right. It should be green.” Remus nodded and smirked. Walking into the room, Remus opened the closet and found something. When Remus held the parcel up, Sirius saw it was a can of paint.
He laughed and walked over to kiss Remus. “You sneaky bastard,” he whispered.
“Yes? That would be me,” Remus said, leaning in to kiss Sirius again.
“Indeed,” Sirius growled right before Remus’ lips closed on his.
Sirius was pacing up and down the hall in the hospital. Sara had been in labor for eighteen hours. William had been out of the hospital room a few times, always when a series of loud yells echoed from the room. William had told them last time that Sara ‘got tired of looking at his not in labor self.’
Remus sat in his chair in the waiting area, playing with his thumbs and staring into space. He winced slightly when a loud string of curses sounded from the room where Sara was. William walked out of the room and straight into Sirius, who was just passing the door in his pacing. The two staggered and righted themselves.
“Sorry there, Sirius. ‘Fraid I didn’t see you.” The blond man shook his hair out of his eyes and trudged over to a chair near Remus, collapsing.
“Oy vey. Never again, I tell you. She throws good punches during labor. Next time, she might break something important.”
Remus chuckled tiredly and offered the other man a cookie. William took it and looked at it with raised eyebrows.
“Pink ballet shoe cookies, Remus?” Remus closed his eyes and snorted. “Found them in the lobby downstairs,” he muttered. “The other option was brilliant yellow balloons. They hurt my eyes.”
William snickered and took a bite out of his cookie. “Right then. Ballet shoes it is.”
The two sat in companionable silence until Remus’ cookies supply ran dry. William followed Sirius’ pacing with his eyes.
“Is he always this fidgety?” William asked. Remus nodded, not opening his eyes.
“Sirius copes with stress by doing things. He read all the magazines here in about five hours, so now he’s stuck pacing.”
William nodded. “So he’s a mobile stressed man. Well, I suppose it could be worse. When Sara is stressed, she rearranges things. Says it’s for her artistic talent.”
Remus snorted slightly. “Except when she’s in labor, when she punches you?”
William gave a long suffering sigh. “Yes. But she’s allowed to punch me, when she’s in labor. It’s not fun.”
Remus gave a tired nod. He was about to ask another question about Sara when a loud bellow echoed through the ward.
William staggered to his feet. “That’s my cue!” Remus gave a tired laugh and waved him off. Looking both ways to make sure Sirius wouldn’t ram him in his pacing, William opened the door and went back into the hospital room where Sara was.
Sirius veered, thudding into a chair next to Remus. Remus started and sat up, having been startled out of his semi-nap by the noise Sirius made.
“Moony, make it go faster. It’s taking too long.”
Remus snorted. “I’m sure you’re not the only one who thinks that, Sirius. Just think what Sara must be feeling right now.” They sat quietly for a moment, then their silence was interrupted by a militant yell from the hospital room. Remus turned his head to stare at Sirius, raising his eyebrows as if to say ‘you see my point?’ Sirius shook his head and leaned on Remus’ shoulder, yawning. The full moon had been two nights ago, and both of them were still tired.
They sat there leaning on each other, dozing in and out. Sara’s room was mostly silent, hoarse yells and groans reaching their ears occasionally. They fell asleep in the uncomfortable chairs at some point, because the next thing they knew, a nurse was shaking them, saying “Wake up! Wake up, you blokes!” They sat up quickly, both wincing as various joints cracked. They were getting old to sleep in chairs.
Remus yawned widely and looked at the nurse. “What’s happened?” The nurse smiled and said, “Sara is in the very last stages of labor. It shouldn’t be long now.” Both Sirius and Remus snapped to attention at that. Sirius stood up rapidly and resumed his pacing.
The atmosphere in the pregnancy ward of St. Mungo’s was very tense. Sirius paced back and forth as Remus turned the pages of the same magazine over and over again. Sara was relatively quiet now, except for a few tired yells. The nurses passed Sirius, heading for other wards. Remus glared at the clock. His heightened senses were offended by clicking clocks. That was why he put Silencing charms on the clocks at home.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Remus glowered at the clock. One more ‘tick,’ and he swore he’d blow the clock off the wall. He braced himself, ready for the tick.
“AIIIEEE!!” Remus jumped out of his chair and fell to the floor with a thunk. Sirius jumped a foot in the air as the loudest yell yet echoed from Sara’s hospital room. As the scream died down, the two men waiting in the hall heard a new cry join Sara’s. A baby’s cry.
Sirius nearly swallowed his tongue. He turned his head to look straight into Remus’ eyes. The other man had turned sheet white and looked like he was going to be sick. Remus mouthed at Sirius ‘Now what?’ Sirius swallowed hard and collapsed back against the hallway wall.
William walked out of the room, to tell them that everything was fine, and the nurse would tell them when Sara and the baby were ready.
Sara’s door creaked open about an hour later and a nurse poked her head out. “You can come in now, sirs. Sara and the baby are ready for you.” Remus nodded and began walking slowly towards the door, as Sirius walked down the hall towards him. They paused together in front of the door, searching each other’s eyes. Remus drew a shuddering breath and gestured towards the door. Sirius licked his lips and nodded. They walked in together.
“Sirius, Remus, meet your daughter.” The nurse held a bundle of grey blankets out to them. Sirius panicked for a moment, trying to decide whether he or Remus should take the bundle. Remus brought him to his senses by digging an elbow into his ribs. Sirius took the bundle from the nurse and nearly dropped it when he realized how light it was. Remus wrapped his arms around Sirius to steady him. They looked down at the face that would change their world forever.
“I think we should call her Lalaith.”
Remus nodded. “Laughter. We’ve had precious little of that. But it’s better now. Yea?”
Remus felt the knot of uncertainty settling in his stomach. They had kept Lalaith at the hospital for two days, to make sure that she was completely healthy and ready to go home. Now, at ten am on May twenty-third, Remus would begin being a real father. Lalaith was coming home with them today. He’d never felt so terrified in his whole life.
“Are you ready?” Sirius asked him. Remus looked at his lover, giving him the ‘are you mental’ look. Of course he wasn’t ready. What if he dropped their daughter? What if they didn’t feed her the right food and she got sick? Did they have the right diapers for her? The right baby shampoo? Would she like him, or would she cry whenever he picked her up? What if… Remus’ list of ‘what ifs’ was enormous and getting longer every second.
Sirius wrapped his arms around himself, narrowing his eyes slightly. “Yeah, that. Me too. What if-“
They looked despairingly at each other. Lalaith was in a room with Sara, a doctor, and a lawyer. Sara was signing the papers that would permanently relinquish custody of Lalaith to Remus and Sirius. After that last bit of paper work, they would take Lalaith home and start their lives as fathers.
“You two look like someone’s just told you you’re going to have to watch over a thousand stampeding wallabies in a fine china store,” William told them, wandering into the room carrying a bag of potato chips. Remus let out a breath.
“No, not exactly. Just that we’re going to be parents.”
William smiled. “You’re already parents, though. You have been for about a year now. Ever since you made the decision to have a baby. The only difference here is that you’re practicing parents, not parents in waiting.”
“Rather a large difference,” Sirius commented.
William snorted as he opened his bag of chips. “Well, yes. But the point is, you’ve already made the commitment. You’ve prepared for a year, you’ve braced yourself as well as is possible.. Now, you just do it.”
Remus’ stomach gurgled with anxiety. “If you say so,” he said, his voice drifting off at the end of his sentence.
“I know so. I’ve done this part, remember? You two will be fine. Stop worrying so much, and just love Lalaith. That’s the important part.”
Sirius inhaled deeply and straightened his back. “Yes,’ he whispered. “Yes, it is the important part. And we’ll do that part right.” Remus touched his lover’s shoulder, smiling. Sirius’ hand covered Remus’ as he smiled back.
William looked between the two men. He’d thought they were likeable enough when he’d met them, but he never thought he’d respect the two of them. He was glad Sara had carried a baby for them. He knew they would care for the girl in a way few parents ever could.
Sirius felt his heart stop as the door opened. This was it. They took Lalaith home now. This was the real thing. He hoped everything was ready, and the moss green paint had stopped making the house smell. The seconds dragged by as the door opened and Sara walked towards them carrying Lalaith.
Remus felt like he was going to be sick. He’d thought he was terrified before, well, now was worse. He wanted to run away and never come back—almost. Though his feet were begging to run away, his heart was jumping up and down in his chest as Sara brought Lalaith closer.
Sara stood in front of Remus and Sirius, cradling the baby in her arms. She smiled down at the child. Sirius felt his stomach do a flip-flop; was she going to give them their daughter?
Sara met Sirius’ eyes and moved slowly towards him. Sirius reached out and Sara placed Lalaith in his arms. She moved forwards and wrapped her arms around his neck, standing on her toes to whisper in Sirius’ ear.
“You take care of her, you hear me?” Sirius nodded. “Thank you,” he whispered back. Sara smiled and backed away as Remus slid his arms around Sirius and Lalaith.
“You three look beautiful together,” Sara told them, tears rolling down her cheeks. William wrapped his arms around Sara’s shoulders, rubbing her back gently. “You really do,” William confirmed. He turned to his crying wife and nudged her gently. “Don’t you have something you wanted to do, love?” He said quietly, breaking her out of her reverie.
Shaking her head slowly and tearing her eyes away from Lalaith, she walked towards her room again. Sirius raised his eyebrow at William, who just smiled at him and leaned against the wall again.
Lalaith cooed in Sirius’ arms, her tiny baby mouth opening in a yawn. Sirius looked down at her, smiling down at their baby. Remus moved closer, using a few fingers to brush the shock of black hair off Lalaith’s pink face. She wrinkled her nose and yawned again, falling asleep in her father’s arms. They watched her sleep, drifting off into their own little family world until a cough from Sara brought them back to reality.
Sara was holding a large package in her hands. Remus eyed the bundle and stepped forwards.
“What is this?” He asked, looking at her with confused brown eyes.
She carefully undid the canvas wrapping on the package, revealing a beautiful magical abstract painting. The colors shifted constantly on the canvas, looking like an ocean of paint during a windstorm. Patterns danced across the surface of the painting in intricate combinations. It was hypnotizing.
Sara handed the painting to Remus.
“I want you to hang this in Lalaith’s room. I’m not going to raise her, and I don’t want to interfere in her life, but I do want her to have this. If it’s okay with the two of you, I’d like to give her this, as a last gift from her birth mother.”
Remus looked at Sirius, noting the slight nod from his lover. Turning back to Sara, Remus took the painting in careful hands.
“We will always remember you for giving us Laith, Sara. We will make sure Lalaith knows what a gift you have given us. Thank you.”
“You are so welcome.” Sara gave him a teary smile, leaning against William. The four of them stood there taking things in. They all looked at Lalaith, the sleeping baby that bound them together. Sara and William leaned on each other, bracing themselves for Remus and Sirius leaving with the baby.
Remus hoisted the picture and looked at Sirius. Sirius blinked. Moving would break this serene atmosphere forever, then it this period of their lives would be over. He drew a deep breath and smiled at Sara and William.
“We will never forget the gift you have given us,” Sirius whispered to them. They smiled back at him, Sara giving a little wave. Sirius turned to leave the hospital, blinking furiously and refusing to look back as he and Remus walked from the hospital to the Apparating field.
Lalaith had been a very quiet baby for the first few days. Remus had almost wanted to take her back to the hospital, she was so quiet. She rarely cried, and when she did cry, she stopped as soon as one of her fathers took care of her. Sirius had started to think the horror stories about loud babies and sleepless parents were only stories.
It seemed Lalaith was born to be a true Maurauder. First rule of Marauding: lure your opponents into a false sense of security.
“What’s wrong with her, Remus? Why won’t she go to sleep, already?”
Remus glared at Sirius with eyes surrounded by dark circles. “If I knew the answer to that, Sirius,” he grated. “Then we would all be asleep.”
Sirius looked ready to burst into tears. Crying was easy, even for men, after two weeks with little to no sleep.
Lalaith paused to inhale, then let loose a scream that would make a banshee proud. Remus closed his eyes and flinched. He wished he could go hide in Harry’s room, which had been sound proofed before Lalaith was born. The new Hogwarts graduate did all he could to help Remus and Sirius take care of Lalaith, but he drew the line at night. He’d wake up to take care of her when he knew Remus and Sirius were particularly drained, but other than that, he considered the night shift parental duty only.
Sirius looked one step away from screaming back at the baby. When Lalaith cried louder, he tensed his shoulders and shot Remus a desperate look. Remus took Lalaith from Sirius, letting the other man lean against the wall and get his bearings for a moment. They’d found that the only way to keep from going insane was taking Lalaith rocking in shifts. When one started loosing it, the other took over for a bit.
Remus swayed back and forth, rubbing Lalaith’s back and humming softly. He was almost certain Laith couldn’t hear his humming over her own screams, but humming made him feel better, so he did it.
Neither Remus nor Sirius had gotten any sleep the night before. Lalaith had been up and down; never staying asleep for more than half an hour. Sirius had suggested they give her Firewhiskey to make her sleep. Two hours ago, Remus had said no. He had only been awake for twenty hours then. Now, at twenty-two hours, and only two days before the full moon, he was quite ready to force feed the child whiskey to get her to sleep. He supposed it was a good thing they didn’t have any Firewhiskey.
Sirius wrapped his arms around Remus from behind, resting his chin on his lover’s shoulder. Remus looked over at him, noting his drooping eyelids and grey skin. He didn’t even want to know what he looked like, if Sirius looked like that.
Remus blinked when he heard the front door downstairs open. He didn’t know how he’d heard it over Lalaith’s screaming, but he had.
Two pairs of feet trudged up the wooden stairs to the room where Lalaith’s shrieks bounced off the walls into the ears of all passerby.
“Harry and Ron’re back,” Sirius muttered, pulling his head away from Remus’ shoulder to look at the two younger men. Harry walked into the room and took Lalaith from Remus’ stiff arms, his eye narrowing as he brought the screaming baby closer to his ears.
“Well,” Harry said loudly. “She certainly has healthy lungs, can’t fault her there.” Remus gave Harry a scathing look from where he had collapsed on the floor. Sirius shook his head slowly, a blank look in his eyes.
“She won’t sleep,” he said. “I want her to sleep. Why isn’t she tired? I’m tired.”
Ron walked into the room at that point, his eyes moving back and forth between the other males. So far, Ron had refused to acknowledge Lalaith in any way, saying he was uncomfortable with the idea of a girl raised by two men. He hadn’t been openly hostile, he had simply stayed completely silent around Lalaith.
Harry looked at him with wide eyes. This was the first time Ron had ever set foot in the same room as Lalaith. Ron looked like he was having a severe internal debate about something.
The adults stayed silent, waiting for Ron to come to a decision. Harry rocked Lalaith back and forth slowly, waiting for Ron to say something.
“Do you have a Muggle washing machine?” Ron asked them suddenly. Remus blinked and Sirius stared.
“Yes, we do.. It’s easier than magical washing. Why?”
Ron walked over to Harry and took Laith from him. “Load the washing machine with something, Harry, and turn it on. Remus, do you have a carrier for Lalaith?”
Ron held the still wailing girl as Remus found the carrier. Ron placed her in it and fastened the belts. He rocked the carrier back and forth, waiting for Harry to return.
“Okay, it’s loaded,” Harry said, “And running. May I ask what you’re going to do now?”
Ron picked Lalaith and her carrier up and turned to Harry. “Now you lead me to the washer.”
Harry shot a look at Sirius, who shrugged and waved him on. Ron followed Harry to the room where the washer and dryer were. He put Lalaith on top of the vibrating machine, making sure the carrier didn’t fall off.
Lalaith started wailing more loudly for a few minutes as she was vibrated by the washer’s running. Remus moved forward to move Lalaith, but stopped when Ron held out a hand and mouthed ‘wait just a bit.’ Remus figured they’d tried everything else, so they might as well see what Ron had planned.
Sirius leaned on the wall hoping Ron’s plan, whatever it was, would make Lalaith go to sleep, and stay asleep. Her wailing continued to crash through the air.
Remus was about to give up on Ron and start a prayer dance when Lalaith’s screaming began to quiet. The rocking from the washing machine was slowly lulling her to sleep. In five minutes, she was completely silent and as deeply asleep as Remus had ever seen her.
“Ron,” Remus whispered, walking towards the teen. “That was incredible. You can have my soul, for that.”
Ron smiled and carefully picked Lalaith’s carrier off the machine. “Hermione told me her mother used to do that, to get her to sleep. Be careful, you don’t want to wake her up putting her in her crib.”
Sirius smiled at Ron and headed up to Lalaith’s bedroom with Remus, to put her to bed.
Harry turned to Ron, staring at the red head. “Ron, that was brilliant. Thank you so much. Lalaith hasn’t really gone to sleep for weeks. Sirius and Remus have been going up the wall. It’s been mad.”
Ron shrugged, tossing his head uncomfortably. “Hey, you know.. You’ve been around and helpful for my family.. It’s the least I could to, to do the same for your family.”
Harry grinned widely and thumped Ron’s back. “Wonderful, Ron. Bloody wonderful. You want to play Quidditch?”
Sirius brushed the hair out of Remus’ face, searching his lover’s amber eyes. He smiled gently at Remus, then looked down at their daughter in Remus’ arms. She was two years old now, and getting bigger every day. Harry had taken a day long break from Auror training to be there with them for today. Each of the men carried a balloon; Harry carried an extra for Lalaith.
Harry looked at Remus. Their relationship had grown a lot since the time they met. They’d gone from a formal teacher student relationship to being family. Harry was glad for the change. He didn’t think he’d have gotten as far as he had without Remus’ guidance.
“Why are we doing this, Remus?” Harry asked quietly. He knew there was something special about this moment, but he wasn’t sure what.
Remus smiled sadly. “I had a friend, in the late eighties. He was one of the few friends I had then; his name was Richard. He was gay, Harry. Do you know anything about gays during the eighties?”
Harry frowned. “I can’t say for sure.. The Dursleys didn’t discuss it. I remember.. There was a plague, that they thought only affected gays. Was it called AIDS?”
Remus nodded slowly. “Richard, like so many others, contracted AIDS sometime in the eighties. There is no cure for AIDS now; then, there weren’t even any treatments. I stayed with him when he was dying. He was one of the best friends I’ve ever had. He died thirteen years ago today. I always release balloons for him. He asked me to remember the good times, not the bad. This is my way of honoring that.”
Sirius touched Remus’ upper arm gently. Remus smiled at him and moved Lalaith in his arms. Harry smiled lovingly at his family. This was good, he thought to himself. This was okay.
Sirius took the extra balloon from Harry and wrapped Lalaith’s little hand around it. He bent down to smile at his daughter, feeling a warm rush when the child smiled back at him. Remus, Sirius, and Harry held out their balloons, preparing to release them to the wind.
“Let it go, Lalaith,” Remus whispered. “It’s for Rich. He’ll love having a balloon from you.” Lalaith nodded slowly and looked up at Remus. “Let it go,” he repeated. Lalaith blinked at him, then opened her hand, releasing her balloon. Her parents and brother smiled and sent their balloons to join hers. The four of them stood on the windswept beach, watching the balloons fly into the sky. The family watched until the balloons disappeared into the clouds, then they turned to go home.