Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until January 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 #8: Harry finds out about Sirius & Remus’ old relationship over the Christmas holidays the same way he found out about his father: through a Pensieve that he entered without permission.
Author Notes: Billions of thank-yous and fresh-baked cookies to my betas, LJ Users blackmurtlap and siryn99!
By the time Harry turned up on the doorstep of the cottage, the flurries of snow were flying thick and fast, rapidly sheeting the countryside with an even layer of white. Miniature drifts of it were collecting in the corners of the latticed windowpanes, and the two squat stone steps leading up to the heavy oaken door were very nearly covered over.
“I’d about given up on you,” Remus said, wrestling the door shut against the yawing wind. “You must be frozen through.”
Harry unwound his scarf – an early Christmas present from Hermione, hand-knitted in red and gold Gryffindor colours – from around his neck and the lower half of his face. Among the many folds of it, his breath had crystallized into ice, which crackled when he tugged the scarf off.
“This would’ve been much easier if you had your Floo hooked up,” Harry said, pulling off his fogged-up glasses.
“Sorry about that,” Remus said. “You could have Apparated, you know. You’re old enough now. Give me that coat; you’re dripping snow everywhere.”
Harry shrugged out of his coat, after a moment’s fumbling at the buttons with clumsy frozen fingers, and handed it over. “I haven’t taken my Apparation test yet,” he said. He nodded towards the coat. “There’s some stuff in the pockets. Christmas presents for you from Dumbledore, Tonks, and a whole load from the Burrow.”
“Noted. Go warm up while I hang this somewhere.” Remus disappeared off towards the kitchen.
Putting his glasses back on, Harry wandered into the cozy living room. It was deliciously warm, a low fire crackling comfortably in the hearth, the mellow glow of the firelight driving the feeling back into his numb fingers and toes. Gratefully Harry sank into a wing chair, wriggling his toes against the soft, worn throw rug. He closed his eyes, breathing in deeply, inhaling the sweet scents of fir and cedar. Perhaps, he thought drowsily, this wasn’t such a terrible idea after all.
He jerked awake a quarter of an hour later to the clatter of china as Remus set a tea tray down on the cluttered side table, pushing aside parchment and quills to make room.
“Sorry,” Remus said. “I didn’t realize you were so tired. I thought some tea might warm you up, but I daresay you’d like to get to bed.”
“No, no,” Harry said hastily, stifling a yawn with the back of one hand. “Just, y’know, the fire made me a bit sleepy.”
“Well, if you’re sure,” Remus said, frowning slightly. “Still milk and two sugars?” At Harry’s nod, he made Harry’s cup and handed it to the boy, then fixed his own. “So,” he continued, “the good headmaster finally convinced you to spend Christmas here, did he?”
Harry scowled. “I didn’t want to stay at Hogwarts when none of my friends were going to be there, and I really, really didn’t want to go… you know, back to the Dursleys.” He refrained from mentioning that his odious aunt and uncle hadn’t extended an invitation.
Remus took a sip of his tea. “Molly owled me that you were invited to the Burrow,” he said casually. “She seemed rather put out that you declined.”
“Too crowded,” Harry said flatly. He flushed slightly. “I did stop off there on the way here. She asked again, but…” He shrugged, yawning hugely. “I just wanted to be somewhere quiet.”
“Right. That’s it,” said Remus as Harry yawned yet again. “You’re barely awake. Come on; I’ve made up the other bedroom for you.”
Harry awoke early the next morning to the enticing aroma of bacon frying. He sniffed appreciatively, forcing himself out of the cozy burrow of pillows and blankets. Glancing out the window as he pulled on his jeans, he noted that the snow had stopped during the night, leaving the countryside evenly blanketed in white.
Maybe, Harry thought with a grin, he could convince Remus into a snowball fight later. He hauled a clean shirt over his head and headed down to the kitchen.
“Morning,” Remus said, busily doling bacon and eggs onto a plate for Harry. “Sleep well?”
“Yes, thanks,” Harry replied, helping himself to a slice of bacon.
Remus motioned Harry towards the table. “Go on, then. I’ve already eaten. I’ve got to nip out for a bit, just into the village. Be back in a couple of hours.” As he spoke, he had quickly donned his coat and gloves.
“Um, ok,” Harry said, trying not to feel slighted, and then Remus was gone. Harry picked morosely at his breakfast, forcing himself to eat it before the eggs got cold.
The silence in the little house was overwhelming. Harry wandered from room to room, trying very hard not to wish he’d stayed at the Burrow after all. Peace and quiet was one thing, but he hadn’t wanted to be left completely alone. The only reason he’d agreed to come to Remus’ cottage was the hope that his ex-professor might have been willing to discuss Sirius with him.
Some days he missed Sirius terribly. Most of the time it wasn’t too bad, but at Christmas… Well, Harry reasoned, Christmas was a time for family, and his godfather had been the closest he’d had to one, even if Harry hadn’t known him for most of his life.
And then the Veil, the stupid Veil, had cut Sirius down, leaving Harry with a detested aunt, uncle and cousin as a very poor excuse for ‘family’. It was unfair of Remus to go out, Harry thought viciously, throwing himself across his bed. It was unfair, when Harry missed Sirius with such an ache, for Remus to leave him alone when he burned with questions. I never got the chance to know him, Harry wanted to say. You knew him all through school, and after. You grew up with him. You got to stay with him for nearly a whole year before he died, and I got nothing.
His eyes pricked hotly with tears and he blinked them back irritably. He knew he was being selfish, but he couldn’t help himself.
Harry rolled over, and, as he did so, a glint of something in the corner caught his eye. He peered over at the large wardrobe in the corner. It had a large mirror set in its front, badly darkened with age, but that didn’t seem to be the source. The wardrobe’s door stood slightly ajar, and as Harry padded over to it, he realized the glint had come from something inside. He pulled the door fully open.
It was a Pensieve.
Harry pulled his wand from his back pocket, prodding cautiously at the silvery stuff that filled the Pensieve. The swirling mist cleared enough for Harry to make out what looked like Remus’ kitchen, here at the cottage. He leaned forward excitedly, hoping for a glimpse of –
The world tilted alarmingly as Harry dipped his face right into the silvery mist. Yes, there he was, Harry’s godfather, looking just as Harry remembered him. His long black hair, apparently freshly washed, hung damply just past his shoulders as he sat with his feet propped up on the kitchen table. He was frightfully thin, though not nearly so much as when Harry had first met him.
This must be after the TriWizard Tournament, Harry realized.
Remus came in the kitchen then, good-naturedly swatting Sirius’ feet off the table with a rolled-up Daily Prophet.
“Moony…” Sirius half-whined, but he was smiling as he took his long legs off the table. He nodded towards the newspaper Remus carried. “Anything interesting in there?”
“Not a thing,” Remus sighed. “Just the usual offhanded tripe trying to make Harry’s story about Voldemort’s return sound completely preposterous.” He threw the Daily Prophet on the table in disgust. “It’s shocking how many people will believe everything they read.”
Sirius frowned. “Are you sure we couldn’t just get him now? Stage a rescue from those horrid Muggle relatives of his or something?”
“No,” Remus said firmly. “Dumbledore knows what he’s doing. A few more days and we’ll be set up in Grimmauld Place, and then it’ll just be a matter of time.”
“I know,” grumbled Sirius. “But I don’t like waiting.”
Remus smiled. “My ever impatient Padfoot,” he said affectionately, moving behind Sirius, lazily trailing one hand through the other man’s damp black hair. “I suppose I could do my part to take your mind off the wait.” He dusted a kiss across the top of Sirius’ head, reaching down to entwine their fingers.
Sirius twisted in his chair to face Remus, grimacing up at him. “You make it sound like a chore.”
Remus leaned down, brushing his lips delicately across Sirius’. “This? A chore?” he murmured. “Never.” He kissed Sirius again, more firmly this time.
The world swum sickeningly for a moment as Harry forced his head out of the Pensieve. This is your own fault, his mind babbled somewhat hysterically. This is what comes from snooping around in other people’s memories. This –
“Okay,” he said aloud, terribly conscious of his wobbling voice in the empty room. “I did not just see them snogging. I did not just see my godfather and my ex-professor snogging. I did not.”
Just one more peek, whispered a voice in the back of his head.
Suppose Remus walks in? he thought frantically, even as he poked the shifting silvery mists again with the tip of his wand.
You want to see Sirius, cajoled the voice. Don’t you?
Harry dipped back into the Pensieve.
He recognized Grimmauld Place immediately, but it took him a moment to realize who and what he was watching.
Sirius lay splayed across the bed, quite naked, the quilted counterpane bunched up at his feet. Remus, equally naked, was between his legs, cock buried to the hilt inside Sirius’ arse. One of Sirius’ hands was knotted in Remus’ mussed hair, the other curled around his own leaking cock. He stroked it firmly as the bed creaked in time with Remus’ fevered thrusts.
Oh, Harry thought dazedly. Oh, they…
“Fuck, Moony,” Sirius gasped, and came messily, the sticky ropes of his semen jetting across his belly. A moment later Remus gasped something Harry didn’t quite catch and collapsed, shuddering, atop Sirius.
“Mm,” said Sirius, laughing. “I love how a good shag always makes you so inarticulate.”
Harry stood stock-still. Although he knew it was solely a memory and that neither man could see or hear him, Harry still feared they might look up and notice him standing there with his jaw agape.
Yet he couldn’t look away as the men settled easily into each other’s embrace, not even when the hand fell upon his shoulder as Remus pulled him gently from the Pensieve.
Harry rubbed his fisted hands over his eyes, astonished to find them damp. Miserably he forced himself to look Remus in the eye.
“I’m sorry,” Harry tried to say, but only succeeded in producing a strangled squeak.
Remus said nothing as he closed the wardrobe door, latching it tightly.
“I’m sorry,” Harry said again, properly this time. “It’s just… You went out, and I was lonely, and I thought… I don’t know what I thought. But then I saw Sirius in it, and… I know it was prying, and I’m sorry, really I am. I’ll go back to school if you’d rather I didn’t stay now,” he finished lamely.
“I’m not Professor Snape,” Remus said calmly. “I can’t say I’m pleased, Harry, but you’re still quite welcome to stay here over the holidays if you still want.”
Harry reddened. “I’m really sorry,” he whispered. “I didn’t know you and Sirius were… um…”
Remus sighed, running a hand through slightly windblown hair. “This is hardly the way I’d have wanted you to find out, but yes, Sirius and I were involved.” He paused. “Are you angry?”
Harry blinked. “Angry? No. Just, y’know, surprised.” He forced a smile. “Why didn’t he say anything? Why didn’t you?”
Remus’ sharp laugh was edged with bitterness. “We were going to tell you after your OWLs. And then… Well, then the Veil changed our plans.” He crossed to the window, sinking wearily into the chair there. “We thought we had so much time,” he said sorrowfully. “We thought we had eternity. And Sirius… If we’d known… If only we’d known. But you can’t know everything, can you?”
“No,” whispered Harry. “You can’t.”
Remus nodded his head toward the window. “It’s snowing again,” he said, his voice oddly thick. “Sirius loved snow. He loved Christmas, loved spoiling all his friends with extravagant gifts. Dumbledore gave him that Pensieve when we first got to Grimmauld Place, you know. Sirius was so afraid of losing good memories again after he’d lost so much in Azkaban.” His voice trailed off, and he stared thoughtfully out the window at the fat flakes falling lazily from the overcast sky.
“I knew you missed him,” Harry said. “I never realized how much.”
“Well, no,” Remus said. “You wouldn’t have, would you?”
Harry swallowed. “I miss him too,” he said quietly. “I loved him too.”
Remus glanced up at him, visibly startled, one tawny eyebrow cocked inquiringly.
“Not like that,” Harry amended hastily.
“I should hope not,” Remus said, and they both laughed. “One year,” he continued, “when your father, Sirius and I were stuck at Hogwarts over the holidays, Sirius charmed it to snow in the Gryffindor common room. And then the daft git couldn’t get it to stop.” He stood up, stretching. “What do you say to some hot chocolate and a good peek at whatever Molly sent?”
“It’s only Christmas eve,” Harry said, but it was only a token protest. He followed Remus out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. He sat down at the scarred wooden table, watching as Remus took a battered saucepan out of a cupboard.
“Muggle-style,” Remus informed him. “Makes it, I don’t know, chocolatier or something. Makes it better, anyway.”
“Will you tell me about him?” Harry asked suddenly.
Remus’ head dropped slightly, his shoulders sagging, and Harry worried that he’d asked too much too soon. But then the tawny head raised, a small smile curving the edges of Remus’ lips.
“Yes,” Remus said. “Of course. Everything he’d have wanted to tell you himself.”
“Er,” said Remus. “Perhaps not everything.”
And the hot chocolate, though quite excellent, was soon forgotten.