The Choices We Made
Author: Alexandra Black
Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until September 30th, 2005. After that, it's yours to do with as you will.
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: Challenge FM #14: AlternateUniverse: Sirius and Remus raise Harry from a baby.
Author Notes: I would like to thank Gi and Vero for being my beta-readers...
Sirius Black sat on the edge of his bed, he couldn’t believe that the person he loved the most was leaving him all of the sudden. He then looked at an old photograph which was placed over the desk in front of him.
“Well, the second one” he corrected to himself mentally. Then he tumbled over his bed, and fixed his sight on the ceiling. He couldn’t believe eleven years had just passed; he sighed.
If someone had told him, fifteen years ago, that he was going to be a father, he would have laughed at the simple thought. Fifteen years ago he accepted the fact that he could never be a father, not because he was biologically incapable; because he had promised a young man his eternal and undying love. He never regretted his decision, until his best friend had a child of his own. But his good-luck made him settle down in the comfortable role of the godfather and uncle, along with his lover.
And that was as far as his idea of parenting went; taking care of his godson occasionally. Of course he would have never made it without the help and patience of Remus J. Lupin; the man he respected, worshiped and loved the most.
He always thought Remus had everything that was needed to be an excellent father, and when Harry was dropped by at their home, he observed with great pleasure and delight that he was not mistaken.
But not everything can be honey, sugar and rose petals. The Dark Lord rose and with him came death, suffering and betrayal. Everything seemed to be falling apart at his feet, and he was incapable to stop it. In less than the expected he lost everything: his best friends, his godson, the love of his life and himself.
But, in one way or another, everything ended. And he found himself still with nothing…just hope. Hope to gain back what was taken from him; and at the end, he got his wish.
Slowly, he recovered himself, his godson and best friend-even if his James was dead; he knew a part of him still lived within Harry-, and his lifetime partner. It wasn’t easy, but he did it…and that led him to a beautiful and joyful life, in which he passed from an uncle into a father.
Neither he nor Remus had the heart to make Harry call them “dads”; therefore, they always presented themselves as Uncle Remus and Uncle Sirius, no matter if deep inside, Harry thought of them as his parents.
“Eleven years, all that happened eleven years ago” Sirius whispered to himself. Eleven birthdays, thousands of visits to museums, parks, and zoos; thousands of happy moments and sad ones as well…a life he never dared to dream of.
But none of that could have been, if he had never taken the proper decisions; three, to be precisely…
His whole body was numb and stiffed against the black motorcycle he was driving at maximum speed through the air. His shoulder-length-hair was shacking violently on his neck and face, but he didn’t care, because he had killed them…all of them. He had betrayed them.
“No, it isn’t late yet” thought a twenty-two-year-old Sirius, when he parked his bike at the intersection. Then, he noticed the two roads he had ahead: the one on the left will take him to Godric’s Hollow, where he hoped to find James, Lily and Harry; the one on his right will take him into a small country house, where his ex-lover lived.
“Remus, I must tell Remus about this. I might need his help” but then, he realized he would loose precious time; time James didn’t have.
“Think Sirius think!! James is about to die if you don’t go…but if you show up by yourself, how many chances do you have?! Besides, if something goes wrong, Remus will never know I wasn’t the spy, nor that I’m sorry for doubting about him” he was forcing himself to come to a resolution: one of the ways was the right one; the other one would leave him nowhere.
“You made a mistake already, you can’t make another one!” he clinched his fists around the handles. And then he noticed his hands were bruised…he had been driving as fast as he could, once he had discovered Peter.
“That rat! How he dares?!!” and he felt his blood heating and his heart bumping harder and faster. The very thought of Wormtail made him angry. Then he focused his attention back on the road; on his two ways.
“I need a signal…” Then, out of the nothing he saw a hummingbird, strange for that time and place, but he then remembered it was Remus’s favourite bird. And that was enough for Sirius to close his eyes, breathe deeply and start his bike again…towards the right.
“You can’t send him with those people!” exclaimed and exasperated Sirius, as soon as Dumbledore informed him that Harry was going to live with the relatives of Lily.
“It’s a decision that was taken Sirius, for the baby’s good” declared Minerva McGonagall.
“But I am his godfather, damn it!” Sirius was burning in anger. Remus, who had accompanied him, tapped over Sirius’s shoulder.
“Professor Dumbledore, are you sure you want to send Harry with the Dursleys?” Remus asked, with his usual calm.
“Remus, you must understand that if this kid stays in our world he will not have a normal childhood…”
“Neither with those people!!” interrupted Sirius, losing his patience.
“Sirius, you must calm down” whispered Remus, then he faced Dumbledore once more: “Please Headmaster, there must be another way”
“I’m sorry Remus…I’m afraid there is not” Dumbledore pronounced and then he walked towards Sirius.
“I know James wanted you to take care of his son, but he never foresaw an issue like this” Dumbledore said, placing his hand over Sirius’s shoulder.
“I understand your reasons Professor, but you must understand mine and James’s…” he made a pause; just to be sure Dumbledore was going to listen.
“During his whole life James made me promise several things, most of them where nonsense, but the last time I saw him he told me he had a bad feeling, and he made me promise I was going to take care of Harry, no matter what or at which cost. If you had been there, you would have seen in his eyes that he was desperate to secure Harry’s future, and that he didn’t care who the hell got in the way, it must be me the one that had to take care of his only son. And I always do what I promise, and this is not going to be the exception” Sirius’s last words were a threat everyone understood.
McGonagall remained silent, switching her glances between Dumbledore and Sirius. Dumbledore looked at Sirius with certain intensity; he had witnessed this determination in Sirius Black before, and he knew Sirius wasn’t going to give up that easily.
“I understand you, even more than you think Sirius…tell me, are you really resolved to give everything for this kid?” asked Dumbledore, without blinking.
“I will give my own life for him Headmaster” replied Sirius without hesitation.
“If what you say it’s true, then you must know that this boy can’t live in the magical world…and that he can’t know about magic or wizards until he has a proper age…above all, he can’t know about the Dark Lord and the recent events.” declared Minerva McGonagall.
“There are still some of his followers on the loose, and we can’t risk Harry to be found; therefore, the person in charge of Harry must not use magic, and will have to live a muggle life until Harry has the proper age to attend to Hogwarts” Dumbledore said, although he knew Sirius would never go back on his decision –he never expected Sirius to do so- he felt compelled to make him aware of the situation.
Remus had remained silent, he knew Sirius was persuasive when he wanted, and by the look on Dumbledore’s face, he was sure he had succeeded.
“I understand your points Professor, and if those are the sacrifices I must do in order to keep Harry, I’ll do just that. And it is a promise”
“Harry is under Hagrid’s custody at the moment, and I want to keep it that way until tomorrow morning. You’ll meet Professor McGonagall at 11:00, at King’s Cross, platform 9, she will give you my final instructions” declared Dumbledore, then he let out a soft smile “James would be proud of you…you never let him down. Remus, Sirius, you are dismissed” and both men left the room.
“I let him down once, that’s why I can’t fail him again” Sirius thought bitterly and sighed.
Remus approached him, and put a hand over his right shoulder “Are you ok?”
Sirius only nodded.
“Are you sure?”
“Well, I guess you don’t need me anymore” Remus said, and turned around. But Sirius took the hand that had been over his shoulder moments ago, and hold it between both of his hands. Remus was forced to look back.
“I have always needed you Moony, and I will always” Sirius said as soft and tender as he could.
“You can always count with my…friendship Sirius” Remus said, and a weak smile outlined his lips.
Sirius had desired to say he wanted more than his friendship; that he desired things the way they used to be…but it didn’t seem like the right time or the place, so he kept his thoughts and said a simple ‘thank you’, to part right after that.
“Thank God you are here!” exclaimed Sirius with relief.
“Yeah…me too” replied Remus, uncertain about his decision. He had thought helping Sirius with Harry couldn’t be that bad, but when he stepped inside the small country house, he realized he had been wrong. The house looked like a muggle battlefield; diapers all over the floor, dirty clothes on the couches, dough over the walls…without counting Harry’s loud cries.
“Here is the little ‘bundle of joy’” Sirius said, giving crying-Harry to Remus.
“He’s a bit heavy” Remus said, as soon as he had Harry in his arms.
“That’s the proof that I’m not starving him to death!”
“When was the last time you slept?” Remus asked, carrying Harry with one arm and leaving his suitcase on the nearest couch with the other one.
“Two days ago, maybe four…who’s counting anyway?” Sirius replied, throwing himself into a couch…where Remus had just left his suitcase.
“Shit!” Sirius exclaimed and stood up immediately, removing the smashed suitcase from below.
“That’s nice Padds, all I ever wanted was a print of your arse over my suitcase!” Remus said, trying not to look at his suitcase. Then, he noticed Sirius was staring at him intently. “What?”
“You called me Padds” Sirius said with certain disconcert.
Then Remus looked away; he used to reserve the nickname of ‘Padds’ just for their ‘intimate’ moments.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize…”
“It’s ok” Sirius interrupted, and both stared at each other…until Harry cried louder and distracted them.
“How do you make him stop?” asked Remus, lulling Harry.
“Remus, if I knew that, I wouldn’t have called you”
“I believe you said something about helping you to unpack your stuff” Remus said, arching his eyebrow.
“Well…I may have forgotten to tell you the part of helping me with Harry” and Sirius gave Remus his ‘innocent smile’.
“Anyway, what makes you think I can help you here?” asked Remus, standing up and pacing through the entire room.
“Well, when Lily and James dropped the kid by, it was you who made him sleep whenever he started crying” Sirius said, trying to block the feelings that accompanied the memories.
Remus stopped his pacing abruptly; he thought Sirius would have forgotten. He then decided to lighten the moment “If you can remember that you must remember what I used to do”
“Well, I never knew how you made it, because the cries made me ran out the room” Sirius confessed, quite ashamed.
Remus laughed. He remembered Sirius spent hours on their studio, listening to loud music. “Do you have, for any chance, your muggle records?”
“In a box maybe, I haven’t finished unpacking…but I have a radio on my room”
“That has to work” Remus declared and Sirius turned on his radio and soon the music flooded the room.
Harry started to fell asleep, and in a couple of minutes, his cries stopped and were replaced by his even breathe.
“He’s asleep” Remus whispered.
“Let’s put him on his cradle” Sirius whispered back.
Remus put Harry on his cradle, while Sirius turned on the baby monitor. Both stared at the small kid and then they left the room.
“Music is the trick then, uh?” Sirius said, once they were back in the living room.
“You are God Remus!” Sirius exclaimed, and kissed Remus cheek. Then a tense silence filled the room.
“Well, what are we going to unpack first?” Remus suggested, taking out his wand.
“Wait! We can’t do magic…that’s why you can’t apparate or floo into my house. We’ll have to do it muggle-style. You don’t have any idea! I have to do everything for myself; from washing dishes to using the subway and muggle money” Sirius explained and then sighed “It’s chaos!”
“I bet…you don’t regret your decision, do you?” Remus asked, while putting away his wand.
“Not in a million years. I know it had only passed two months since I got Harry, but he makes my days more bearable, although it doesn’t seem like it. Besides, I owe this to James. I can’t disappoint him again” and Sirius eyes, grew darker.
Remus noticed the change and tried to cheer Sirius up “You have never let people down Sirius”
“I let you down. I failed you as a partner and as a friend” Sirius then looked away from Remus. He had never wanted to open the wound again, although it had never been closed.
Remus felt the uncomfortable silence falling between them, and he forced himself to change the subject and release the tension. “Where are these boxes?”
Sirius came back to his senses and decided not to thing about that again. “On the basement, we’ll have to carry them up here…follow me”
Remus followed Sirius into the basement, and as soon as they opened the door, a peculiar smell filled the air.
“Merlin’s sake! What the hell is that stink? Who did you kill down here?” Remus asked, covering his nose with his hand.
“Well, I needed a house as soon as possible, I couldn’t check it properly…don’t worry, you will get used to the smell before you become sick” Sirius said, while searching for the switch of the light.
“I hope so”
In a few minutes, the whole room became visible, as well as the dozens of carton boxes.
“Believe me, I would have wanted to stay at my apartment in London, but Dumbledore didn’t approve” Sirius then approached to the pile of boxes labeled as ‘stuff’.
“Are we going to start with these ones?” Remus asked, checking them out.
“Yes…most of them have garbage” and Sirius took the box on top and opened it. It contained old magazines and newspapers.
“These are really old” Remus said while passing the pages of a copy of the Daily Prophet
“Yeah…all of them are garbage, but I want to separate the magazines” Sirius declared and started to throw them into a black plastic bag.
“Fine” and Remus began separating the magazines too.
“Listen, I have an illegal bottle of firewhisky somewhere in the kitchen…want a drink?”
“Sure…I’ll keep getting rid of the ancient papers” Remus declared enthusiastic.
Sirius returned with two glasses and a bottle of the promised firewhisky; although the bottle seemed to be at the half by then. He poured some of the content in one glass, and handed it to Remus. He served another one for himself. “Hope you don’t mind I have drunk some on the way”
Remus nodded and then he dumped the carton box away. “I’m done with this box, I’ll start with the second one” Remus pronounced and opened another box filled with old newspapers and magazines. Meanwhile, Sirius was already serving his second glass.
“Hey, take it easy” Remus warned him, when he noticed Sirius finished his third glass.
Sirius was nervous, really nervous. Somewhere between sitting over Remus’s briefcase and putting Harry to sleep, he had come with an excellent idea…but he needed some stimulation. And after his fifth glass he decided it was time to pop the question.
“Moony, there is something I want to ask you…”
“I’m listening” Remus replied without looking up from the magazines.
“You don’t have to answer right away, because I want you to think about it, it’s very important for me…” Sirius then felt he was going to loose it, so he drank what was left in the bottle of firewhisky.
“Sirius, you’ll become pissed and I don’t want to drag you upstairs” Remus warned him, but he wasn’t still paying his friend much attention.
Sirius ignored the comment and continued “Well, what I wanted to ask, to say is that…I want you to raise Harry with me”
Remus was in complete shock…it had to be the wine. They had drunk too much wine and it was affecting their system already. Then he looked at his glass; he only drank a glass of wine. “Fine, Sirius is the one who had drunk too much wine” he resolved, but he was still in complete shock.
“We all know I won’t be the best father in the world, I can’t even get him to sleep and I can barely take care of myself…but I was hoping that maybe, and just maybe, you know, you could, we could-we could raise Harry, together, as a couple. And I know you will refuse, but I had to ask you anyway because-because since the first week we spent apart until this morning, I haven’t been able to get over it…Moony, what I’m trying to say here is that I can’t live without you…and I love you and I want you to give me a second chance, to give us a second chance. And I promise I will never disappoint you again” There, he had said it; there was no way back.
Remus was nervous, and when he was nervous he couldn’t think accurately. It was true that he had been waiting for Sirius to ask him to come back since the day they broke up, but it was also true that Remus wasn’t ready…especially to take care of a child. He had never considered being a full-time father. Then, he did the only thing that made sense to him: he kissed Sirius.
After a couple of seconds, which looked like minutes, Sirius broke the kissed…his heart was beating so fast that he thought his head was going to explode. “Is that a ‘yes’?” Sirius asked with a trembling voice.
Remus was about to say he indeed needed time to think about it, but something inside him told him he needed no time, and for the first time in his life, he didn’t analyze the situation…he went for it.
“Yes” Remus whispered. And Sirius wasn’t able to contain anymore, so he embraced the other man and started kissing him.
Sirius sighed again, then, he heard the undeniable sound of footsteps.
“I was wondering what you were doing” Remus Lupin said, arranging his ear-length-sandy-hair behind his ears, while leaning over the door’s frame.
“I love the way your hair falls, you shouldn’t put it behind your ears…it’s a crime” Sirius said softly and then he tapped a spot beside him on the bed.
Remus sat where indicated without hesitation. “So, are you telling me or are you not?”
“Tell you what?” asked Sirius in complete ignorance.
“What you have been doing” replied Remus after rolling his eyes.
“Thinking…remembering” Sirius answered, and searched for his lover’s hand in order to intertwine their fingers.
“Are you worried about Harry?” Remus asked, squeezing Sirius’s hand.
“No, not really” Sirius replied. He wasn’t worried about Harry attending Hogwarts…he was sad.
“You know Harry’s dream is Hogwarts”
“I know, and I’m happy for him, really” Sirius then sighed.
“I think I know what the problem is!” Remus exclaimed.
“You don’t want to loose Harry, am I right?” Remus asked, arching his eyebrow.
“It’s not that” he replied, as if he had heard the most absurd thing of his life. Then he met Remus’s gaze: “Well, it is that”. He couldn’t deny he had gone upstairs and right into their bedroom after Harry got his letter.
“We are not loosing him, you know? He’ll visit during vacations”
“I know, it’s just that eleven years ago he was this baby we adopted, and in a blink, he is leaving us”
Remus lowered his head and kissed Sirius’s forehead. “Eleven years ago you gave me a gift and a life I never imagined we could have. It came with some sacrifices –like not being allowed to use magic- but now I can tell you those ‘sacrifices’ were worth it. We are a family, and no matter what, nothing and no one can take that from us…come on, let’s eat something…I’m starving!” said Remus, while helping Sirius to stand up.
“That’s why I love you Moony; you are so unhelpful with these issues”
Remus laughed and kissed Sirius’s lips softly “I made spaghetti with meatballs, and if we don’t go down it will get cold…and I hate cold food” he took Sirius by the wrist and dragged him downstairs.
“Harry!! Food is served!!” yelled Sirius.
“Coming!!” the boy yelled back.
Some minutes later, Harry set foot on the kitchen, and was about to sit when Remus exclaimed
“Ah no, you won’t eat with those hands. How many times we have told you to wash your hands before eating?”
“Uncle Remus please…they are clean!” protested Harry, showing Sirius his hands.
“Who are you kidding kid? Go and wash them” replied Sirius after seeing his godson’s all-covered-in-mud-hands.
“Don’t argue kid, you are eleven not five” said Sirius with a severe voice.
“Fine” muttered Harry and went to wash his hands.
Once he came back, the family started to eat and talk about Harry’s school day -he attended a muggle one in order to get the basic knowledge- and then about visiting Diagon’s Alley in order to get the things of Harry’s list.
“We cauld go gese geehend” Harry proposed while chewing a meatball.
“Don’t speak while you are eating” Remus admonished him.
“Sawggy” Harry apologized, still chewing his meatball.
Remus rolled his eyes and decided to ignore it. Sirius simply smiled; Harry was a blessing and Remus was a gift…he couldn’t ask for more.
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