Inevitably

Author: Rose Williams
Rating: PG, for kissing
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: AU, Sirius and Remus raise Harry from a young child.
Author Notes: This took much more writing than I thought it could. I’m sure it could have much more. I had to make sure it was neither Stealing Harry nor Scenes From Another Life.



~*~

Remus arrived at the apartment he shared with Sirius and was surprised to find the man himself waiting. Remus had agreed to meet Lily that evening because he had been sure that Sirius would not be home at anytime during his absence. Sirius’s endless suspicions of everyone put most Order members on edge, but none of them suffered it after hours the way Remus inevitably did. He had almost refused when Lily had told him to keep their meeting from Sirius, but she had chosen him because she’d known he’d understand. And he did.

“Where did you go?” Sirius demanded.

Two years in a mouldy flat in Muggle London had not rid Sirius of any more of his upbringing than seven years with James at Hogwarts had. He was lounged in the armchair so confidently that no one looking at him would notice that the peculiar angle of his shoulders was caused by a wayward spring.

“I had a meeting,” Remus said.

“Who with?”

“With whom,” Remus automatically corrected.

Sirius cocked his head sideways, mocking Remus’s attempt to change the subject. This was worse than explaining the scars to the three of them, Remus thought. Worse than explaining me-and-Sirius to a too knowing Lily.

“I can’t tell you that,” Remus said. “I’m sorry Padfoot, but they asked me to tell no one. You know how people get about things now.”

You know how you are.

“Worried is how they get,” Sirius said. “Scared for themselves and the people they love.”

He leant forward, hands on the arms of the chair; anxious schoolboy in place of wealthy patriarch. Remus took a step back from the heat in Sirius’s eyes.

“I was safe,” Remus said.

“The way you were safe with that pack? You have a strange sense of your own invulnerability, Remus. Have you heard Greyback’s been sighted out of Bishops Stortford?”

Remus’s left shoulder buzzed slightly, and Remus sank down onto the couch.

“Where did you go?” Sirius asked, certain he would be answered.

For a moment Remus felt angrier than he had ever felt before. He returned suspicion with suspicion.

“Why do you need to know?” he demanded.

Sirius’s expression blanked. Remus felt as though someone had suddenly removed all his clothes. The last time he had seen that look in Sirius it had been directed at Narcissa when Sirius had been called home for Christmas their fourth year. Remus hadn’t dared touch Sirius for the rest of the term.

The silence stretched long past the point when one of them had to answer a question before either of them moved.

Sirius stood and strode across the room and into the kitchen. Remus stood, as if to follow, but found he could not move his feet forward.

“I love you,” he told the empty space in the rest of the apartment.

A cup smashed on the tiled floor.

With a whispered spell Remus summoned his suitcase. It had been his father’s before him and was battered when he had inherited it. But it was sturdy and held emergency supplies. Remus took a step backwards, turned, and walked out the apartment.

The following days passed in a blur of colour and hurt. Remus spent a few weeks with his parents, and more time going anywhere Dumbledore wanted him to. He refused to think about new bonding between him and Lily. Harry got bigger, times got worse, and Remus avoided Sirius.

*

Remus had just gotten Harry to sleep and lit the stove under the kettle when there was a knock on the door. Harry immediately began to cry. Remus resisted the urge to aim a silencing charm in the direction of his room. Ignoring Harry’s cries for the moment, Remus drew his wand and headed towards the door.

It was Dumbledore. He said nothing. Remus dropped his wand into his pocket and opened the door. Dumbledore walked passed him into the sitting room. Seven months Remus had lived there, and it still looked like it had the day his parents had hosted the wake for his grandfather.

Dumbledore set on one of the overstuffed armchairs, seeming less out of place in his emerald robes than Remus would have thought. But then, he did suit the solemnity of the room.

“You should see to Harry,” Dumbledore said.

Remus left the Headmaster alone among the Wedgwood and walked further into the house. Harry’s room had possibly been a cupboard in the original design. It had been Remus’s nursery years before, and needed repainting. Harry quieted when Remus appeared. Remus picked him up anyway and carried him into the kitchen so he could make tea for Dumbledore.

Dumbledore was sitting serenely in his chair when Remus brought the tea tray and Harry. Dumbledore stood to take Harry as Remus arranged the tea things, carefully so as to delay the inevitable conversation.

Harry grabbed a little fistful of Dumbledore’s beard and Dumbledore chuckled as he tried to prevent Harry from stuffing it into his mouth.

“You’ve read today’s Prophet?”

Remus dropped a spoon and it clattered loudly.

“Peter is to be awarded the Order of Merlin.”

“Much good that will do him,” Remus said.

He’d spent yesterday in a world of dreams as he prepared the room for Harry and coaxed the boy to eat. Dumbledore would explain that the bounding was not strong enough to protect Harry and he would be taken his relatives, who would raise him as their own. Peter would find him, and they’d raise Harry together, telling him stories about James and Lily. Sirius would turn up, desperate to explain how James and Lily’s deaths were faked and Remus hadn’t been told just because he’d been stupid.

He spooned sugar into a cup and poured tea over it before handing the cup to the Headmaster. Dumbledore accepted it without commenting. Remus poured his own dark, black tea and took a seat on the couch.

“You do not need my condolences, but I offer them anyway.”

“I thank you. But you don’t need my thanks.”

“I need very little,” Dumbledore said, rescuing his beard again. “But if there is anything you need.”

“Answers,” Remus said shortly. “I want to know why. I want to know how.”

“We all trusted him,” Dumbledore replied gently.

Remus snorted with bitter amusement. Of course Dumbledore would try to offer an answer. And Remus supposed he should be grateful. He probably was, but that wasn’t what he had meant.

“How he could lie all that time,” he said.

Dumbledore watched him carefully through his glasses. It was a familiar questioning look Remus did not want to answer.

“I am an old man,” Dumbledore said. “But I am no fool, nor am I blind.”

Remus sighed and squeezed his eyes shut. Dumbledore stood and rested his hand solidly on Remus’s shoulder.

“I’ll put Harry to bed.”

Dumbledore settled Harry in the little room and left quietly. Remus spent the night drinking ever-bitterer tea.

Harry grew, as children do. He and Remus got used to each and Remus’s parents’ house. It began to seem as if there had never been another way it could have gone. Remus did not answer all of Harry’s questions. Harry made friends, Remus got a job, and they lived happily.

*

Three years with Harry and Remus had gotten good at picking his feet up. Harry was in the middle of building a village of castles in the living room. Remus was cutting bread for lunch when there was a ring through the house signalling Dumbledore’s arrival. Harry, who still flinched when someone knocked on the door, pushed himself to his feet and raced down the hall.

“Harry, slow down!” Remus called after him.

Harry crashed into the door with a delighted yelp and leaped to catch the handle. Remus ran after him to open the door himself. Dumbledore was standing on their front door step, all beard and enigmatic smile.

Remus smiled in greeting before he realised that the Headmaster was not alone. Half a step behind him a stood a gaunt figure, pale skin and long matted hair. Without registering what he was seeing, Remus raised his wand and aimed it at Sirius. With his left hand he grabbed Harry by the scruff of his neck and pushed him back behind his leg.

Harry gripped Remus’s robes, and peaked from behind them at the scene.

“Why shouldn’t I?” Remus asked Dumbledore.

“He thought you were the spy.”

Remus blinked. That was only half an answer and he was forced to look at Sirius liar, traitor, lover. Sirius’s eyes were clear, almost blank of all emotion, but they met Remus’s steadily.

“I’m so sorry, Moony,” he said. Remus snorted, Sirius straightened slightly, leaning back. “Should never have suspected you. You could keep secrets, you would never have told. Oh, Merlin, I told Peter.”

Remus stared at him.

“I believe your friend is an Animagus,” Dumbledore said.

“They all were. Sirius was, is, a dog.”

“And Peter?”

“Rat.”

Harry tugged on Remus’s robes. Remus glanced down at him, smiling reassuringly. Harry raised his arms and Remus bent down to pick him up without thinking about it. He settled Harry on his hip awkwardly and realised what Dumbledore could possibly be suggesting.

“Peter was a rat.”

“There are many rats in the sewers,” Dumbledore said. “Another would hardly be noticed.”

Remus looked at Sirius. His grey eyes were desperate. He was staring at Harry the way Remus recognised he sometimes did himself.

“He’s my godson, Remus. I could never have… We all always underestimated Peter.”

And Remus agreed. It was so much easier to underestimate Peter than believe that Sirius had set up James to die.

“This is Sirius, Harry,” Remus said. Dropping Harry carefully to his feet again. “He was your father’s best friend. And he’s you godfather.”

Dumbledore stepped aside. Sirius dropped onto his heels to be Harry’s height and Harry, in love with everything about his parents, launched himself at Sirius. Sirius began to laugh.

Dumbledore carefully laid a hand on Remus’s shoulder and felt the younger man jump. Remus shook his head.

“Sorry,” he said. “I just never thought.”

“That there was something else?”

“That I could be right in doubting everyone, even you.”

Dumbledore chuckled. “I have been doubted by many worse men than you, Remus. That your friends could do so much for you speaks very highly of you.”

Remus was distracted by a squeal from Harry, and immediately raised his wand. It was only Sirius, though, trying to tickle the backs of Harry’s knees.

“Sirius,” he called.

Sirius froze, looking up at him.

“Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?”

Sirius stayed with them because there was nowhere else for him to go. He told Harry stories and Harry asked him questions. But he never talked to Remus about what had happened between in that end. He slept on the couch in the study, slowly accumulated his own things, and fitted himself into their lives.

*

Harry ran straight at Remus at the end of school. Remus ruffled Harry’s hair, knowing it was uncool to be hugged in such situations. Harry automatically tried to smooth his hair down again and Remus chuckled. Harry had his backpack slug from one shoulder and a rolled up piece of paper in his fist.

“Where’s Sirius?” he demanded.

“How are you, Harry? Do you learn anything at school?”

“Is Sirius at home?”

“Yes, he is. Do want to leave now?”

Harry nodded eagerly and ran ahead of Remus out the gate. He waited for Remus to catch up, so he could explain how Jeremy had thought the Tyrannosaurus could have eaten a Brontosaurus. Remus ‘hummed’ politely and payed enough attention to explain it all to Sirius after Harry had described it to him again. When Harry paused for breath he butted in.

“What’s the picture?”

Harry swapped the paper to his other hand to keep it from Remus.

“I have to show Sirius, too,” Harry said quietly.

“Okay,” Remus said.

The walk wasn’t far, and Harry quickly got back on to the topic of Jeremy’s lack of knowledge about the Triassic period. Sirius was mixing pancake batter when Remus unlocked the door and Harry ran through the house.

“How was school today?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Jeremy thought the Tyrannosaurus Rex would have been able to eat a Brontosaurus.”

Sirius raised his eyebrows at Remus who grinned and nodded towards the mixing bowl. Sirius shrugged.

“What did you draw, Harry?”

Harry glanced, slightly embarrassed, between the two of them. Without answering Sirius, he dropped his bag off his shoulder and carefully smoothed the paper out on the kitchen table. Sirius looked at it upside-down and quickly turned back to his pancake making.

Remus looked at the crayon drawing over Harry’s shoulder. It was simply, and clearly, the three of them standing outside their house. Remus smiled to see Sirius’s dog form standing beside Harry on one side, while Sirius stood on the other.

“This is great, Harry,” Remus said.

“We were suppose to draw our family,” Harry said. “Our mum and dad. But I don’t know really know what Lily and James looked like and Stephen drew his mums, so drew you, because you’re as good as married.”

Remus glanced at Sirius’s tense back and felt vaguely disheartened, despite having told himself long ago that there was longer anything to be disheartened about.

“Well, men can’t be married, Harry,” Remus said, “And Sirius and I don’t feel that way about each other,” anymore. “But we love you and will always be there for you.”

“Sara said that all parents were married. And, well, you’re like my parents, aren’t you? Remus is my uncle and Sirius is my godfather and we all live together, so you’re as good as married.”

Remus chuckled a little at Harry’s logic and ruffled his hair. Harry grinned. He tried to smooth hair down, but Sirius beat him to, making it messier.

Harry, of course, didn’t notice the new strange tension between his uncle and his godfather. Sirius made the pancakes and Remus and Harry ate them with their fingers. While Remus helped Harry with him homework, Sirius cleaned and made dinner. Harry went to bed, Sirius cleaned the kitchen, and Remus slept alone.

*

Sirius dropped onto the couch beside Remus instead of sitting his normal chair in front of the television. Remus shuffled slightly away from him and Sirius shuffled closer. Remus tried glaring at him, but it didn’t seem to work; Sirius was still sitting too close, and with the regal nonchalance that had always infuriated James.

“I was thinking about what the Prongslet was saying last week,” Sirius said.

“About what?” Remus said. He didn’t think Sirius had payed much attention to the dinosaurs, or the volcanoes.

“We’re his parents, Remus.” He sounded awed, and Remus smiled, reassuringly.

“It’s a scary thing,” he agreed.

“As good as married?” Sirius raised a cheeky eyebrow

Remus laughed and pushed Sirius away weakly. Sirius caught Remus’s hand, Remus caught his breath. Sirius entwined his fingers through Remus’s.

“I didn’t want to say anything,” Sirius said. “Everything went wrong and it was my fault and I wasn’t here and you never said anything, and I was just glad you let me in.”

“I gave you tea,” Remus said. He was beginning to feel a bit silly, a little light-headed.

“And you said nothing.”

“I didn’t think there was anything to say.”

Sirius began to run his thumb over Remus’s knuckles.

“Harry thinks we’re as good as married.”

“He’s a cute kid,” Remus said, enjoying the brief flicker of annoyance in Sirius’s eyes and the fluttering deep in his own chest.

“And I was thinking,” Sirius said airily, with a grin, “that if we’re as good as married, we really ought to be having sex.”

Remus laughed out loud at Sirius’s logic. His laughter was cut of abruptly when Sirius leant forward and kissed him. Sirius’s lips were dry. Remus closed his eyes and pressed closer. Sirius deepened the kiss and when Remus responded, unbuttoned the collar of Remus’s robes.

Remus’s hands begun to pull at Sirius’s buttons. He ran his fingers over Sirius’s chest and felt the warmth through his body without trying to understand it.

Sirius broke the kiss and leaned back, breathing heavily.

“Why didn’t we do that sooner?” he demanded.

“I’m quite happy to blame you,” Remus said, hardly sure of what he was saying. He certainly wasn’t thinking anything but Sirius, Sirius, Sirius.

“What can I do to make it up to you?” Sirius asked.

Remus pretended to ponder the answer, but then Sirius leant forward again and pressed his lips to the side of Remus’s neck and licked. Remus moaned, Sirius chuckled against Remus’s skin. Slowly he began to lick his way down Remus’s neck and past the collar of his robes.

“Harry,” Remus said.

Sirius coughed.

“He’s probably not asleep yet.”

Sirius leaped up as though suddenly burnt by Remus skin. He twisted himself around in a circle, scanning the room for his godson. His faced was flushed and his robes were hanging of one shoulder. Remus smiled slowly, taking the sight. Sirius grabbed Remus’s wrist and pulled him to his feet. Remus half fell against him. Sirius wrapped his arms about Remus and kissed him soundly, lingering and passionate. Remus knees almost let him down but he managed to remember that they were still in the lounge room.

“Bed?”

“Bed, yes, very good idea.”

Neither of them slept much that night. They relearned each other’s bodies and fell asleep entwined around each other as dawn began to break. They woke when Harry knocked loudly on Remus’s door and announced that he could get his own breakfast and watch TV. Sirius moved his things into Remus room, Remus set up a desk in the third bedroom and Harry said ‘I told you so’.

~*~



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