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All That We Have Left

Chapter Text

Sirius tossed the ball to his godson with a grin. Harry caught the ball as his father cheered from the park bench he was seated on next to Harry's mother. Harry was two years old and this was his birthday.

Harry, with some effort, tossed it back to Sirius who had to bend over to catch it.

"Good job, lad!" Sirius said then added, "He's getting strong! What've you and Lily been feeding him, James?"

"I think Lily is sneaking him magic beans or something when I'm not looking. I'm going to have him playing football by the time he's five!" James said.

Sirius glanced at Lily who had put down her mobile and was now giving James a bemused look.

"What?" James said and laughed.

"Football at five? Don't be daft. And I don't know why you're blaming me for him being strong. He takes after you!" Lily said then laughed.

"I think he's got more of you in him that you care to admit," James said, staring at his wife with love.

Sirius groaned.

"The man worships the very ground you walk on. It's disgusting, isn't," Sirius said with a wink, then tossed the ball back to Harry.

"I could say the same thing about you and Remus," Lily said, winking in return.

Sirius felt his face warm with embarrassment.

"Did I just make Sirius Black blush?" Lily said then lightly bumped her shoulder into James's.

"Yeah," James said, stroking his chin with a dark hand.

"Where is Remus, anyhow?" Lily asked as Harry ran at his godfather's legs.

Sirius fell back laughing and grabbed the boy. Harry giggled and made happy sounds.

"I'm not sure. He should be here soon. I sent him a text an hour ago telling him where we were," Sirius said and clutched his godson to his chest and held him tightly for a moment.

He then lifted the boy up. At two years old he already looked so much like his father aside from the green eyes he had clearly inherited from his mother.

"What about Pete?" Sirius called out.

"Peter did say he would be here, albeit a little late," James answered.

"I'm here!" a voice called out.

Sirius looked over and saw their friend Peter standing there smiling.

"Hello, Pete," Sirius said.

"Sorry, I'm late," Peter said.

"Not a problem, Pete. Come sit down with me and Lily," James said and Peter quickly obliged him.

Harry lay on Sirius's chest and he looked around at his friends. The only one missing was Remus. Just then Harry grabbed some of Sirius's long black hair and pulled.

"Ow! Why you little rascal!" Sirius said and laughed which made Harry stop and laugh. Harry then hopped off Sirius's chest and ran over to his parents.

"Mummy!" Harry shouted.

Lily grabbed Harry up and kissed him on his forehead then James leaned over and did the same.

Just then Sirius noticed Remus was standing over him. Weird that no one else was reacting.

"Sirius," Remus whispered.

"Yes?" Sirius said.

"Sirius, I need you to wake up," Remus said and suddenly things were dark and fuzzy but Remus was still standing over him.

Sirius realised with regret that he'd only been dreaming. Sirius reached over and haphazardly turned on a lamp. He rubbed his eyes then looked up at Remus. His brown eyes were red and puffy. He'd been crying! Remus hardly ever cried.

"Remus, what's the matter?" Sirius said, feeling his heart begin to pound and his fingers begin to tremble.

Remus looked down in regret, clearly struggling to find words.

"James and Lily… they're dead. I'm sorry. So sorry," Remus said, his voice quavering.

"Dead? What do you mean dead?" Sirius asked in disbelief.

"I'm sorry, Sirius. James and Lily are dead," Remus said and then crouched down and put a hand on Sirius's bare shoulder.

Sirius felt numb and confused. Surely, he was misunderstanding, somehow. But Remus's eyes bore out the truth.

"What happened?" Sirius pleaded, feeling his eyes becoming watery and a sudden nauseous sensation.

"Car crash. Drunk driver," Remus replied.

Sirius detected the slightest twinge of anger in Remus's voice.

"Oh God, Harry. What about Harry?" Sirius pleaded, his mind quickly being consumed by the horrible thought that his godson, who was in reality only fifteen months old, could have come to harm.

"He's fine, though they wouldn't tell me much over the phone. I don't really believe in miracles but… this might qualify," Remus answered and squeezed Sirius's shoulder in comfort.

Sirius felt his body begin to shake, and hot tears streamed down his face. Sobbing he leaned over and wrapped his arms around Remus, pulling him tightly.

"I don't understand," Sirius cried.

"Me either," Remus said, and stroked Sirius's bare back affectionately.

Sirius wept hard in Remus's arms. He felt overwhelmed by the sheer force of his grief, like the entire universe had been stripped away leaving only his loss. Desperately, he clung to Remus, the only thing he had left. Well… not the only thing.

There was still Harry.

Remus sat alone at his and Sirius's dining room table with a cup of tea that was rapidly growing cold. He had been unable to sleep and now the sun was rising. Sirius had cried off and on for a couple of hours before falling asleep in Remus's arms. Remus had lain there just listening to Sirius's soft snores.

He tried to let his mind wrap around the idea that James and Lily were gone. But every time he let his mind believe it, he could feel the pain rising through his body, crushing him. It was like the ghost of every memory of the two of them was threatening to haunt his every waking moment if he would let it.

So Remus decided not to think about it at all. Instead, he focused on the pending matter of Harry. Sirius was Harry's godfather but this in no way granted him legal rights to Harry. No, he supposed Harry would go to Lily's sister Petunia and her dreadful husband, Vernon Dursley.

He knew Sirius would want to fight for Harry, but Remus knew a couple of gay men would have no chance against a straight couple, let alone one that was actually Harry's legal family. By law a same-sex couple could adopt in the United Kingdom now, and he and Sirius could adopt if they wanted. They had talked about it often. But adopting Harry was simply a different matter entirely. They couldn't just go to Social Services and ask them to hand him over.

Remus shuddered at the thought of leaving Harry with the Dursleys, however, and he knew that Sirius would like the idea even less. The worst thing was that the Dursleys would shut them out of Harry's life entirely. If Remus could find a way to stop that from happening he would, for not only their sake but James and Lily's as well.

But there was nothing Remus could do to stop them from gaining custody of Harry. He sighed and took a sip of cold tea. At least Earl Grey tasted all right cold, he thought. Remus snickered despite himself as he remembered how much James hated Earl Grey.

It's too flowery, James had claimed. I don't want to drink something that tastes like ruddy flowers! Remus thought Earl Grey had more of a citrus taste than anything else. He took another sip. Lily on the other hand loved Earl Grey though she insisted on adding milk to it which Remus didn't understand. All it needed was a little honey and it was perfect, assuming you didn't overbrew it.

Remus took another sip of the tea and then it was gone. He looked down at the empty cup. It was not at all dissimilar to how he felt. He chided himself for being so cliche, but it was true. He had briefly cried in private after he had received the call before steeling himself to tell Sirius. But since then all he'd felt was numb and empty. He never knew how grief would feel. Others around him had suffered at times but Remus had never been forced to deal with it himself.

Remus wished he could weep like Sirius had wept and get it all out. But he had trained himself to hold it all in, long ago. He had been bullied relentlessly as a young man at the academy he attended by a boy named Severus Snape. Remus learned to guard his emotions to prove that Snape's taunts and homophobic slurs didn't get to him.

Lily Evans was Snape's best friend, well, at least until she realized how badly Snape had been bullying him. When they were twelve Lily befriended Remus as a way of apology for not seeing how Snape had been treating him. They quickly became best friends.

The following year, Sirius Black had arrived as well as Peter Pettigrew later in the year and they both became friends. Remus had fallen for Sirius quickly. He was tall, dark haired, and handsome. Sirius had a wicked smile and princely good looks. He was sarcastic and sort of a charming arsehole.

Remus had assumed Sirius was straight just like all the other boys and he put his crush out of his mind. And anyway, Remus had thought himself hideous, on account of the scarring on his face.

It wasn't until the summer they were both sixteen when Remus and Sirius finally made their feelings for each other known. All these years later, they had never parted. They'd had their share of fights from time to time but things always worked out. Remus knew in his heart that if the law allowed it he and Sirius would be married now.

James Potter was Sirius's best friend from the moment Sirius arrived at the academy. James had arrived the year after Remus started. Their friend group slowly pulled together as Remus drew near Sirius and James befriended Peter. James began dating Lily around the same time that Remus and Sirius began dating. It was a magical summer.

As the years passed the bond between them all only grew stronger. Sure, Peter had seemed distracted these last few years, what with his mother's apparent poor health and his elusive girlfriend, Madeleine Yaxley, but they had all always remained close.

Remus made a groan which became a yawn. He supposed at this point he might as well take a shower and prepare for whatever would happen next.

Showers had once been a thing of great fear and stress for Remus. But as he stepped out of the shower, dripping with water and reaching for a towel, he glanced over at the mirror, seeing the great scar that ran diagonally across his face and the the other scars that were scattered across his torso, he felt almost nothing but the tiniest twinge of past pain.

When he was six years old he had been kidnapped and held in a basement, alone with the man's wolfdog. When Remus tried to escape the wolfdog attacked him. The sounds of the dog and Remus's screams had alerted people nearby and they called the police.

After that, Remus's memories became more fuzzy. He knew he was in the hospital for a while and he knew that the man got away. The house where he kept Remus was not his own and they found no way of identifying him. In theory, he was still out there somewhere, assuming he was never caught for a different crime.

As a teenager, Remus had thought he was hideous but Sirius Black had never cared. He made Remus feel attractive in a way he never believed was possible. Even now Sirius's love and devotion sustained him and made him feel whole.

After he dried himself and dressed he went back out into the rest of the flat. Sirius was awake and seated on their couch. He looked miserable.

"I called and asked about the funeral. It's tomorrow," Sirius said.

Remus nodded and sat down to comfort his boyfriend.

October 11, 2000

Lily hadn't moved for an hour. Remus was certain of it. He had been watching. Lily was sitting on the sofa in James's living room, looking at her hands. James was in the kitchen, probably preparing tea. Remus desperately wished he knew what to say to Lily. But he hadn't known what to say when Sirius's cat died, how could he possibly know how to comfort Lily after the death of her father.

Remus had been fond of her father. He had been an easy-going chap. No one had suspected that anything was wrong with his health but he had been hiding his heart troubles apparently. It was a bloody awful shame.

Remus tried to remember if he had ever known anyone else who had died. He supposed he had not. He felt sad about the death of Harlow Evans but right now he needed to bury that and focus on his best friend's grief.

Remus stood up and went over to Lily, sitting next to her in silence. Lily glanced at him. Her face was red and puffy. She had cried so hard for so long. He wondered how her mother was doing right now. He hoped she wasn't alone.

"You can touch me," Lily said, her voice sounding ragged.

"Huh?" Remus said.

"You can touch me. I won't break," she repeated.

Remus wrapped an arm around her shoulders and squeezed her. He hadn't been afraid to touch her, he realised. He was afraid for her to touch him. He didn't realise until this moment. It was death. Death hung upon her and in a bizarre way he felt like it would come off her and get on him.

Remus felt angry at himself. It was like he thought he would somehow spread it like a virus. He would take it home and give it to his parents or his sister. No… he didn't really think that. But it was a primal sort of fear. The fear of death was always there.

A moment later, James returned with tea for the three of them. Sirius and Peter were on the way.

"Cheers," Lily said as James set the tea tray on the coffee table.

Remus wondered if he should move aside for James but neither he nor James seemed concerned.

"Dad didn't like tea. Mum told him he should be kicked out of England with talk like that. He loved his coffee though, my dad did," Lily said, her voice choking.

Remus rubbed her back, wishing he knew how to stop the pain. But that wasn't how it worked. The pain would fade with time. Lily would heal. She would move on but never forget. And she would always love her father.

The funeral was a solemn, closed casket affair. Many people they went to school with turned up, including Severus Snape. Sirius tried not to stare at him and sneer. What did that git think he was doing here? Was he still pining after Lily after all these years? Why couldn't he let it go?

Peter was there and he and Remus greeted him. Peter looked broken and distraught. Sirius wondered if he looked as bad as Peter did. Was Remus really having to watch him suffer this greatly?

A social worker was there with Harry. Sirius had wanted desperately to go over and see the lad but thought it might be better not to, even if it might be his last chance. Soon Harry would be whisked away to stay with the Dursleys and he might never see him again. Strangely, the Dursleys weren't there today. He assumed they would be eager to get their hands on Harry and the small fortune James's parents had left him.

Sirius had asked the vicar beforehand if he could read a eulogy for James and Lily and was allowed. He had written it in haste the night before. It wasn't very long, regretfully, but as James's best friend he felt he should say something.

He stood before the crowd of mourners, his hands trembling with the paper on which he had scrawled the speech flapping in the cool autumn breeze. Amazingly, it was not raining in Manchester that day.

"I met James Potter here at school in Manchester in 1997. We were both from London but we didn't know each other. London's large, you see," Sirius started.

His voice was shaky and he could hear it but was trying to ignore it. He looked over at Remus, looking austere as his honey brown hair fluttered in the breeze. Remus nodded at Sirius to keep going.

"Though my family are wealthy and well-known, I never had that many friends as a child, if I'm being honest. James may have been the first real friend I ever had. He approached me on day one at the academy. He invited me to meet his parents who were the most amazing people, God rest their souls."

Sirius didn't believe in God and yet he had written that line into the eulogy. He wasn't sure why. Perhaps, it sounded nice.

"When James began dating Lily, I had worried that I had lost him but the truth was…" Sirius broke off to choke back a sob then continued, his voice shakier than ever, "the truth was I had only gained another amazing friend, one so kind and tolerant that I will forever be in awe of her."

Sirius could feel the tears rolling down his cheeks and nodded to the crowd. His eulogy complete he walked over to Remus who held his hand tightly. Sirius looked around to see if anyone noticed or cared but no one seemed to.

January 14, 2002

James looked around sadly. Sirius had never been able to find the right words to say ever since James's parents had died. Even now that he was leaving their home for the last time, having just sold it.

James removed his glasses and wiped at his eyes with the sleeve of his sweater.

"It's not them, you know. I've already cried for them. It's this place. Sure, I only lived here for five years but… there's so many memories. Remember that Halloween party that you and Remus ducked out of so fast?" James said with a small smile.

Sirius chuckled. He definitely remembered that night and exactly what he and Remus had got up to.

"Yeah. Actually, I've got some other nice memories involving Remus from here. I'm not sure your parents would've approved, though," Sirius said giving James a wink.

"It's so empty now with all the furniture gone. You hear how our voices echo in here?" James said.

Sirius remembered the way the family home in London had looked and sounded before they all moved to Manchester four and a half years ago. It had seemed spooky in a way that unsettled Sirius. This place wasn't like that. It was more sad than anything else.

Sirius walked over and wrapped an arm around the shoulders of his best mate.

"Are you ready?" Sirius said.

"Not at all. But what choice do I have but to carry on," James said.

"None whatsoever," Sirius said and they carried on out the front door for the last time.

Sirius silently got in bed while Remus lay there, also silent. The funeral had been hard for them both, Sirius especially. He hadn't said a word after reading his eulogy for James and Lily, not even once they were home. Remus had made them both some tea and set out some biscuits which Sirius never touched.

Remus slid behind Sirius to spoon him. Sirius was cold all over. Remus rubbed all along Sirius's side in an attempt to warm him.

"Thank you," Sirius whispered.

"We'll get through this," Remus said, glad to hear Sirius speak.

"I hope so," Sirius said.

"I know so," Remus said and kissed the back of Sirius's head.

As Remus held Sirius he felt Sirius shifting in a familiar, frustrated way.

After a moment, Sirius asked, "Remus… will you… will you make love to me?"

"Of course," Remus answered and kissed the bare flesh of Sirius's upper back, knowing that sometimes it was possible to find solace in carnal pleasure.

Remus pressed himself into Sirius's back, heart pounding as his hand clutched Sirius's chest. He felt a swelling between his legs as his hand slowly drifted down Sirius's torso, moving it to his inner thigh. Sirius softly moaned and pushed back against Remus.

Remus cupped Sirius through his pants, squeezing his groin softly. Remus gently rubbed himself against the crack of Sirius's arse as Sirius reached back and urged him closer with a hand.

Remus pressed his mouth into the side of Sirius's neck and softly sucked. Something wet struck his cheek, a tear from Sirius that he kissed.

"I love you, Sirius," Remus whispered into his boyfriend's ear.

"I love you too," Sirius said.

Remus slid his hand inside Sirius's pants and wrapped a hand around the curve of Sirius's hard cock. Remus stroked Sirius gently while he planted soft kisses on his neck, shoulder on arm.

"I need you, Remus. Need you inside of me," Sirius said.

Remus kissed Sirius's cheek then rolled over. He pulled out the lube from the night stand which he poured into his hand then he eased his pants down and slicked himself up. He then rolled back to Sirius, placing a hand on his hip and sliding Sirius's pants down.

Remus wrapped his hand back around Sirius's cock, getting it wet from the lube while he pressed his long, thick and wet shaft against Sirius's back. Remus used his other hand to ease the head of his cock to Sirius's hole.

"Please, Remus. Please," Sirius urged as Remus slowly pushed inside.

Sirius moaned and Remus squeezed his cock firmly, as his own cock worked its way inside Sirius. Remus knew how to be careful not to go too fast and tonight of all nights he thought it was important not to hurt his lover.

"Oh God, Remus, push it deeper," Sirius said, his voice low and desperate.

"Are you sure?" Remus breathed into his ear.

"Yes. Please," Sirius urged.

Remus obliged him and pushed himself inside as far as he could and Sirius let out a deep moan. Remus moved his hand to Sirius's hip as he slowly, carefully thrust, leaving Sirius to stroke himself.

Remus planted soft kisses on Sirius's neck as he continued to thrust inside him. Sirius's breath was ragged while he frantically stroked himself. Remus gripped the curve of Sirius's thigh tightly as he sped up his thrusts, feeling the tension rising.

"Oh, Remus. Shit. Fuck," Sirius said, his voice jerky and strained.

Sirius moaned and Remus felt pleasure explode, hot and calming as he came inside his shuddering lover. Remus continued to thrust as he pushed his mouth back into Sirius's throat and sucked. Sirius continued to shudder and Remus draped an arm over Sirius's chest and squeezed him.

Sirius let out a sob as his head fell against Remus's arm, hot tears splashing on Remus's skin. Remus brushed the back of Sirius's hair with his free hand, his thrusts finally ended as they held in place, both breathing hard.

Slowly they pulled apart and Sirius rolled over to face Remus. Sirius leaned over and gave Remus a deep, slow, kiss his lips warm and grateful.

"Thank you. Not just for the sex… for everything. For being a solid foundation for me to stand on. I couldn't make it without you," Sirius said.

"Of course you could, Sirius. You're stronger and braver than you know."

The phone rang at eight A.M., waking Sirius up. He could hear Remus talking but he couldn't understand the words he was saying. He did catch one word that he could recognise: Harry. As Remus hung up the phone, Sirius looked over at him expectantly. He couldn't read what emotion was on Remus's face exactly but he thought he looked surprised.

"That was a social worker from Social Services. They say…" Remus started then inhaled deeply, "They say James and Lily have left guardianship of Harry to us. To both of us. They've just set up a meeting with us both for this afternoon."

Sirius was stunned. Surely, he had misheard Remus.

"They've left Harry to us? Surely, this must be a mistake," Sirius said.

"It's not. Apparently, they just needed time to verify the will James and Lily had written up," Remus said.

"But we're gay! And not married!" Sirius said.

"I don't think that matters. What matters is that we now have to decide if this is what we want. We're both still young. This will define our lives until Harry reaches adulthood," Remus said.

Sirius thought for a moment. He had to admit he never saw himself being a parent at only twenty-one. But the thought of Harry being in the care of the Dursleys… no. There was no other choice.

"Yes. I want to do it. I want Harry to be ours. I want to raise him," Sirius said and reached over and grabbed Remus's hand then finished, "With you."

Remus smiled and kissed Sirius on the forehead and said, "Harry is all that we have left. Let's make this count."

Chapter Text

December 1, 2002

It was cool and grey at Ardwick Green Park in Manchester. Sweater weather, Remus thought, as he walked inside the park. He could see Lily across the park in the section for children. She was swinging on a swing set.

Remus adjusted the collar of his sweater then walked over to her. She was wearing her favorite red sweater. She'd had it since they were sixteen. It gave him a brief nostalgic feeling back to the time when he and his friends had only just became friends. He felt silly feeling so nostalgic for events that happened not that long ago.

Remus walked over and sat on the swing next to her and began to lightly swing. He couldn't really sit in it comfortably but for the moment he didn't mind.

For a moment Lily said nothing. She had glanced at him and smiled when he arrived but since then she had seemed distant and distracted.

"Well, go on then. What's on your mind?" Remus asked, hoping he wasn't sounding too pushy, but in all fairness she was the one who had rang his mobile saying she needed someone to talk to.

"I'm pregnant," Lily said, looking over at him with a smile, her feet dragging across the pavement to slow the speed of her swing.

"Pregnant? Really? How?" Remus asked, knowing she was on the pill.

Lily laughed.

"What do you mean how? You know how. We shagged. Night of the Halloween party. James looked so bloody cute as a Vulcan. We didn't have any condoms. I'd only just switched to my new birth control. Bloody stupid of us, but you know how it is when you're in the mood," Lily said, shaking her head.

"Well, congratulations!" Remus said and planted his feet to stop himself from swinging.

"Yeah. I'm excited," Lily said and looked away.

Remus thought she didn't sound too excited even if she seemed happy.

"What about James? He must be thrilled!" Remus said.

"I haven't told him," Lily confessed, sounding regretful.

"You haven't told him? Are you serious? How long have you known?" Remus asked.

"I am serious. I've known for a week. When my period was late I didn't want to believe it. Then I got sick while I was at work. Took a break and used a test. It was positive. Took another one this morning just to be sure. Positive again. I'm up the duff for sure," Lily answered.

"May I ask why you haven't said anything to James?" Remus said.

Lily looked down at her trainers, obviously avoiding the question. Her dark red hair covered her face completely, giving Remus no hint of what she was thinking. She then stood up and started to walk away. Remus quickly stood up from the swing and walked after her.

"Lils, what is it?" Remus said with concern.

"What if we're too young?" Lily admitted as they walked casually along the path.

"I'm not sure worrying if you're too young will make a difference. What's happened has happened," Remus said.

"Has it? I could get rid of it, couldn't I?" Lily asked.

Remus nodded and said, "If that's what you want. Do you?"

"Not really. I thought about it all week though. I don't think that's what I want," Lily said.

"What is it you want then?" Remus asked.

Lily stopped walking and sat on a bench nearby. Remus joined her. Lily scrunched up her in face in consideration of Remus's question making Remus laugh.

"What?" she said turning towards him.

Remus shook his head, still laughing then put his hands in his face.

"I'm sorry," Remus said. "You've always had a knack for amusing faces."

Lily smiled and shook her head before saying, "What I want is for this to not be happening right now. I wish we were older. I don't mind too much, though I am scared. I've always wanted to be a mother. If it were a year ago I might have aborted it. James and I had only just moved in together. Even though we'd been seeing each other for a couple of years… things were new. I don't think we'd've stood a chance as parents. But I'm still scared. I can't shake that."

Remus leaned over and rubbed her back in comfort. A sudden gust of wind blew and Remus shivered, pulling his hand away. He could feel moisture in the air and knew it would rain soon.

"You and James can manage. You have my complete faith, as always," Remus said and looked up at the cloudy sky, blinking as a drop of water splashed in his eye.

"Cheers," Lily answered.

Lily leaned over and squeezed Remus from the side.

"You're a wonderful friend and a great bloke. You know that, right?" Lily said.

Remus snickered as he wiped his eyes.

"I do try," Remus answered then gestured at the path and said, "Shall we walk?"

Remus stood up and Lily followed. They continued to walk down the oval path around the park, not saying much for a time.

Finally, Lily spoke: "How are things with you and Sirius?"

"Very well, thank you," Remus said as another gust of wind came.

"Is he feeling better? You know, after his dad passed away. Feels like it was just yesterday when his brother disappeared," Lily said, and brushed her hair out of her eyes.

"Yeah. Not that Sirius has ever had any great love for his parents. I think losing Regulus hurt more," Remus admitted.

Remus and Lily came upon an older woman, and what Remus assumed was her granddaughter, feeding pigeons. Remus smiled and nodded at them then walked around them. He wasn't sure feeding the pigeons was the greatest idea but he decided to stay silent as he was sure they meant no harm.

"Remus…," Lily started but trailed off.

"Yes?" Remus asked.

"I think I feel OK about the baby," Lily said.

"That's excellent," Remus said and smiled at her.

"I suppose I'll have to stop smoking weed," Lily said with a frown.

"At least while you're pregnant. After that you just might want to keep it away from the baby. Just try to be responsible," Remus said.

"Well at least, Uncle Remus and Uncle Sirius can make sure we're not fucking it up," Lily said.

Remus scoffed playfully.

"I'm not sure about Uncle Sirius. I'm not so sure he's very good with children. Though we have talked about adopting one day. Maybe when we're older. It's not like the law will even allow us now. At least there's not much risk of either of us getting pregnant," Remus said.

"Sirius will be a great dad! Just you wait and see!" Lily said then laughed forcing Remus to laugh with her.

"Perhaps so," Remus said, and they continued down the path.

The social worker carried Harry into the room. Their initial meeting with Social Services had gone well but it had still taken time to process paperwork and ensure that Harry would be safe with Remus and Sirius. Remus and Sirius stood up and it was Sirius who grabbed Harry from her and clutched him tightly. Harry was somehow heavier than Sirius remembered and it had only been a couple of weeks since he'd last held him. Harry began to cry, forcing Sirius to cry with him.

Remus placed a hand on Sirius's shoulder and said, "He's safe now."

Harry was wearing a little red tee-shirt and brown shorts. Sirius didn't remember ever seeing them before. Must be new, he thought. He went to kiss Harry's forehead but noticed something just as his lips touched his skin.

"What's this?" Sirius asked.

"Hmm," Remus said and looked at Harry's forehead then gasped a little.

"Oh, sorry. I guess we forget to mention that cut. It's not very big. Spare piece of glass cut him. We're just glad it didn't get in his eye. It might leave a scar but it should fade with time," the social worker said.

"Why didn't you mention this?" Sirius said, barely holding back anger.

"I'm very sorry," she said, sounding sincere, so Sirius let it go.

Sirius examined the cut. It was jagged, almost like a lightning bolt. It seemed to be healing well already, only just over a week since the wreck. It didn't even seem to need a bandage anymore.

"Do we just go now?" Sirius asked, Harry's cries slowly fading.

"You are free to go now whenever you like. Best of luck to you both, Mr. Black and Mr. Lupin," the social worker said, nodding at them both.

Remus grabbed their paperwork and they headed off to the carpark. Remus had already purchased a car seat for Harry and the previous day they had made a dash to get as much food and toys as they could afford.

Sirius realized he could go and grovel to his wretched mother, Walburga, but there wasn't a chance in hell of that happening. Otherwise, neither of them had much money. Remus worked at a vintage clothing shop and Sirius was contributing largely with money he had saved from working odd jobs or money his parents had given him years ago.

James Potter's parents had left him a great deal of money when he died, but his and Lily's will specified that it be kept until Harry's eighteenth birthday, at which point he would have access to it.

Sirius wondered if James would've left him and Remus a little money if they had known how suddenly he and Lily would die. Perhaps they expected if they ever died it would be later when he and Remus were in a better place financially.

Halfway on the drive back home Harry started crying, loudly. Sirius looked back at Harry in distress while Remus drove.

"What does he need?" Sirius cried out.

"Food, perhaps," Remus said.

"Why didn't we think to bring him a bottle of formula?" Sirius asked.

"I did. I asked you to get it," Remus said, glancing over at Sirius in slight dismay.

"Bollocks! I'm rubbish at being a parent, aren't I?" Sirius said as Harry continued to scream.

Sirius reached into the bag they brought and pulled out a plush lion doll they had got him and handed it to Harry. Harry took it and examined it with interest. It seemed to calm him. Sirius turned back and faced forward in his seat again and sighed.

"Try and relax, Sirius. We'll figure it all out. We're nearly home, anyway," Remus said.

September 31, 2003

"There, that's a good lad," James Potter said as he rocked his infant son to sleep in his arms. Harry cooed then his eyes slowly began to close. Sirius beamed in awe at James. He took so naturally to being a dad, despite everything Sirius had said privately to Remus when he first found out Lily was pregnant.

Of course, he felt guilty now as James sat back onto the couch smiling down at Harry. "James Potter a father? Ridiculous! Poor Lily will have to do everything herself," Sirius had said. He cringed internally. He had been wrong. He brushed a hand back through his long dark hair and sighed.

"I'm sorry, James. I'm afraid I've done you an injustice," Sirius said.

"Oh? How's that?" James said, clearly not accepting that Sirius was being earnest.

"I told Remus I thought you'd be shite as a dad," Sirius admitted after exhaling hard.

"Really?" James said, looking up at Sirius curiously.

"Yes. Really," Sirius said and sat down next to James.

Sirius stared at James, expecting rage but instead finding him studying his now soundly asleep son.

"You're not angry at me?" Sirius said.

"No! Whatever for?" James asked, his voice nearly a whisper.

"For saying you'd be a shite father," Sirius said.

James laughed.

"Blimey mate. I must've told Lily the same about a hundred times. She said I'd be fine or at the least that we'd fuck it up together, equally," James said.

Sirius smiled in spite of himself.

"Where is Lils?" Sirius said looking around.

"Napping," James said. "Our schedules are pretty messed up if I'm being honest, mate."

"Oh?" Sirius asked.

"Yeah. We barely see each other right now. I work in the mornings while she's with Harry then get home and she goes to bed until it's time for me to go to bed," James said.

"Remus and I could take him for day or two, you know," Sirius said.

"That'd be wonderful. I'll talk to Lily and see how she feels. I don't see why it would be a problem though. Just need to make sure she pumps enough milk for however long you have him," James said.

Sirius was happy to offer help but secretly he felt anxious. What if something went wrong? What if he just cried the whole time? What if… what if he dropped* him? Sirius took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He was still trying to learn to control his anxiety.

"James?" Sirius said.

"Yes?" James replied.

"I… I just wanted to say I'm really proud of you. You and Lily both. I don't think Remus and I could manage as well as you have," Sirius said.

"Thank you, Sirius. Don't sell yourself short though, mate. You'll never know until you've been tested," James said.

Remus entered the bedroom, feeling exhausted. By the time they got Harry home he had finally started crying for his mummy. The boy didn't speak often but seeing him cry for Lily was almost more than Remus could bear.

"Is Harry asleep?" Sirius asked.

Remus nodded and fell onto the bed. Sirius was giving him the eyes. Remus smiled at Sirius and shook his head. The randy bugger was going to be the death of him.

"Really? After today, you're actually in the mood?" Remus asked.

Sirius reached over and placed a hand on Remus's face.

"Maybe I just… want to make sure we're both alive," Sirius said.

"Fair enough," Remus said.

Remus pressed his lips against Sirius's, gracefully moving against them. He slid on top of Sirius. He could feel himself stiffen as he rubbed against Sirius's groin. Remus kissed Sirius's neck while he slid a hand between their bodies and rubbed Sirius through his trousers.

Sirius threw a head back and made a frustrated huff Remus knew all too well. Remus then moved to the side of Sirius's head and nibbled on his ear lobe gently then whispered, "I would really like to suck you off, right now."

"Mmm. Don't let me stop you," Sirius said.

Sirius smiled and Remus slid off of him. Remus got on his hands and knees and climbed between Sirius's legs, his face landing near his groin. Remus dragged a finger down the bulge, feeling Sirius's cock twitch beneath the fabric. Remus unbuttoned and unzipped Sirius's trousers with glee, reaching into Sirius's pants, pulling them down to reveal his hard cock.

Remus gently stroked it, enjoying the soft glide of his foreskin. Remus wet his lips, then slowly lowered his mouth to the head while Sirius watched with burning anticipation.

Just then Harry began to cry. Remus released Sirius's shaft and looked in the way of the sitting room where they had Harry's crib. Sirius groaned and Remus slid off the bed.

"I can get it," Sirius said.

"No, it's fine. I've got it," Remus said and walked out of the bedroom and through the hall to the dark of the sitting room where he clicked on a lamp.

He went over to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of formula from the refrigerator. He then went over to the crib, picked Harry up and handed him the bottle which he quickly took and began to drink from, silencing his tears.

Remus began to sing to Harry quietly. He didn't know any lullabies so instead he sang 'Common People' by Pulp. Lily loved this song. She had often listened to it and loudly sang along with it, often encouraging him to join in. He had always been embarrassed but sometimes she did persuade him.

Remus wasn't sure if she would approve of him singing it to Harry but it seemed to be doing the trick. His eyes felt warm and wet and he hoped that maybe by singing it he was somehow reminding the boy of his mother's presence.

By the time Remus had finished the song Harry had finished the bottle and was obviously falling back asleep. Remus softly lowered him back into the crib.

As he turned to go back to the bedroom where he assumed Sirius was no doubt already passed out he suddenly jumped at the sight of the figure standing at the end of the hall watching him.

"Sirius! How long have you been standing there?" Remus said.

"The entire time," Sirius said through a sniffle.

Remus blushed in embarrassment.

"It was beautiful. You're going to be an amazing dad, Remus," Sirius said.

"We both will. Now, let's get back to bed, shall we?" Remus said.

"Yes. Let's do," Sirius said with a smile and headed back down the hall.

Remus clicked the lamp back off and made his way to the hall. Before going down it he stopped and looked over at Harry sleeping in the crib.

"Good night, Harry," Remus said in a whisper and went to join Sirius in the bedroom.

Chapter Text

"Happy Christmas, Harry," Sirius said and held a thin wrapped present out for the boy. Harry excitedly ran over and grabbed it from Sirius, giggling with excitement.

He and Remus hadn't been able to afford much. Taking care of Harry was already taking a serious financial toll on the both of them. In fact, Sirius was now completely broke and Remus was having to take more hours at work and was considering getting a second job.

As Harry shook the present and attempted to use his tiny hands to tear the wrapping off Sirius bitterly wished again that James had left him and Remus at least enough money to be able to care for his son. No, he thought, it really should all go to Harry. He and Remus would manage because they had to. And it's like not James knew he was going to up and die in a car wreck.

Remus sat next to Sirius underneath the small, fake Christmas tree Remus had inherited from his parents. Sirius had fond memories of visiting Remus at his parents home back when they were still teenagers and having this tree in their flat filled him with a mix of sadness and nostalgia.

"No, Harry, get it out of your mouth," Remus said, calmly and reached over and pulled the present out of Harry's mouth.

Harry's teeth were coming in a bit faster than Sirius had expected and the boy seemed to be enjoying his new found semi-capability at chewing. Sirius wondered if James or Lily's teeth had also come in fast. He supposed he would never know.

Remus removed most of the wrapping off the present and allowed Harry to tear what little remained off himself. Remus then set it down in front of Harry. Harry stared at the book then made an excited yell and picked it up and shook it some more.

"I'm not sure Harry appreciates this gift," Sirius said, trying not to sound impatient with the boy.

Then, nearly surprising Sirius, Harry set the book back down and stared at the picture of a green caterpillar that graced its cover.

It was a miniature copy of a book called 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. Remus's parents had apparently read it to him and his sister when they were young. Remus had an attachment to it that Sirius did not.

He was sometimes envious of Remus's upbringing. Walburga and Orion Black had not been loving parents. They had mostly assigned the care of him and his younger brother Regulus to a nanny and she hadn't exactly been the most caring person either.

In any event, there was no one who cared enough to read bedtimes stories to Sirius and his brother Regulus the way Remus's parents. Even still, seeing Remus read to Harry in his lap filled Sirius with the love he had for them both.

Sirius watched Harry's green eyes as they stared intently at the pages of the book. He looked so pleased and fascinated. Already at eighteen months old Harry was beginning to look more and more like James. But he was finding that slowly the reminders of James and Lily were bringing him more happiness than pain. This was a marked improvement over the last few months.

Remus had finished reading the book to Harry, who was clapping and laughing happily in reaction. Sirius cracked a smile and laughed then spontaneously grabbed Harry and lifted him up and shouted, "Hooray!"

Harry responded to this with his own yell of "Yay!" Harry didn't manage much more than a few words here and there. He was surprisingly quiet for a boy of his age.

Remus clapped then burst into laughter while Sirius held the boy aloft for a moment before setting him back down on the floor, gently.

Sirius had spent so much time worrying about whether he could manage this whole parenting thing that he hadn't realized how much fun it could be.

Lily and James had always seemed so stressed and exhausted that he assumed that he wouldn't possibly have what it took. But now he realized the beautiful, fun and sweet moments made the effort worth it.

November 18, 2000

"Check!" Lily said, moving her bishop in a direct line to Natalie's king.

Natalie Lupin raised an eyebrow at Lily and moved her king, safely behind her knight.

"Your sister is better at this game than you are," Lily said, moving her bishop again, this time in line with Nat's knight.

"I know," Remus confessed with a grin at Natalie.

A few moves later and Natalie had Lily in checkmate. Lily cheered on Natalie's behalf, then gave her a hug. Remus brought them both some tea as they cleared the game away.

"Lily, I'm… I'm sorry about your dad," Natalie said.

Lily's mouth twitched and she nodded.

"Cheers. It's not been easy," Lily admitted.

Natalie reached across the table and placed a hand on Lily's hand. Lily smiled and placed a hand on Natalie's. Remus turned away and wiped a small tear from his eye.

"I've mostly been worried about my mum. She's not handled it well. She just… sits on the sofa, ya know? She never moves and it… it breaks my heart. And Petunia showed up for the funeral but hasn't been back since," Lily said.

Natalie frowned. Remus came by and patted Lily on the back. Lily affectionately touched his arm as he moved away and took a seat next to them.

"How's Sirius doing, Remus?" Lily asked.

"He's fine, I think. I think he's been having some cabin fever," Remus said.

"Haven't seen him much. Which is funny given that he's living with my boyfriend," Lily said.

"We'll all be eighteen soon. Everything will change," Remus said with a smile.

"What if I don't want to change. Maybe I'm perfect," Lily said, her red bright lips in a big grin.

"You know what I mean, Lils. You and James will get your own place. Sirius and I will get a place together as well," Remus said.

"Then I'll never see you again," Natalie said.

Remus frowned at his sister.

"That's not true, Natalie," Remus countered.

"Yes, it is. You're wrapped up in each other," Natalie said.

"I'm sure we'll see less of each other but we're living in the same city," Remus said.

Natalie shrugged.

"For now. I've no intention of spending the rest of my days in Manchester," Natalie said.

Remus had never put much serious thought into leaving Manchester but he supposed one day that he would. Perhaps one day when he and Sirius were much older they could get some dogs and move to the country. Maybe they could adopt a child and live an easy quiet life.

"See, Lily! He's thinking about him," Natalie said, pointing at Remus with a smile.

Remus felt flustered but laughed. His sister knew him far too well.

Remus looked at his watch. His sister was late for dinner. It was a minute past noon already. Natalie was never late, Remus thought. Perhaps she wasn't coming. He glanced regretfully at the roast beef and potatoes on the table.

Sirius had put Harry to bed moments ago and was now seated across from Remus looking bored. Remus began to tap the potatoes on his plate with his fork in consideration of actually eating them.

Just then there was an enthusiastic knock on the door startling Remus into dropping his fork, causing a loud clang. Sirius let out a startled yelp and nearly fell out of his chair.

"Coming, Nat," Remus said then ran over to the front door and unlocked and opened it quickly.

"It's about time, Nat," Remus started to say but then realized the person on the other side of the door wasn't his sister at all.

It was a face he'd not seen in person in years. He looked a lot like Sirius though a bit smaller. Remus felt like he was seeing a ghost. Regulus had been dead for years.

"R-Regulus?" Remus said.

"Regs?" Sirius said in shock and ran over to the door to stare, open mouthed, at his younger brother.

"Hello, Sirius," Regulus said, nervously, looking down at the floor.

"Where have you been? Everyone thought you were dead!" Sirius shouted in a mixture of anger and concern.

Regulus looked away from Sirius and said, "It's a long story. I got caught up in things."

Remus gestured for Regulus to come inside. No use in making a scene, he thought. Regulus stepped inside and looked around while Sirius gawped at him.

"What do you mean 'things'?" Sirius said.

Regulus frowned then looked down at the floor seeming sad.

"I was seeing someone for awhile. It didn't work out," Regulus said.

"Seeing who?" Sirius demanded.

Regulus shook his head.

"Doesn't matter," Regulus said and went to sit down on their sofa but jumped a little when he sat on a small, plastic block Harry had left there.

Regulus looked at it, confused, but merely set it aside. So he didn't know about Harry, Remus realised.

"Of course it matters. I'm asking aren't I?" Sirius said, sounding frustrated.

Suddenly, there was a sound of a baby crying and Sirius shook his head at his brother then walked off to tend to Harry, leaving Remus alone with Regulus.

"Regulus, we were supposed to be having dinner with my sister but she seems to have not shown up. You are welcome to some roast if you'd like," Remus said, hoping to ease the tension.

"I've eaten," Regulus said, simply.

Remus nodded then slipped his hands in his pockets, feeling uncomfortable and wondering what had become of his sister. And then there was another knock at the door.

Remus turned around and opened the door revealing his sister who was looking apologetic.

"Sorry, Remus! I got caught in traffic! Manchester, you know," Natalie Lupin said and gave her brother a warm hug before he let her inside.

He was frankly surprised she hadn't taken the train. Natalie was attending City University London to be a nurse and the drive from London to Manchester was considerable. Remus had assumed she would visit their mum and dad first but apparently that was not the case.

"Oh! Hi! You have a guest," Natalie said, having noticed Regulus looking dour on the couch.

"Natalie, this is Sirius's younger brother Regulus," Remus said, gesturing at Regulus with a hand.

"Pleased to meet you," Natalie said and extended a hand out to Regs which he politely shook.

"Dinner's on the table, Nat," Remus said.

"Fantastic. I'm more than a bit peckish, I'll admit," Natalie said then immediately went to the table and sat down.

Remus's sister was never one to hesitate when she knew what she wanted. While Natalie piled roast beef onto her plate she said, "Where's the baby?"

"He was napping but I think he woke up. Sirius is tending to him," Remus said.

"Baby?" Regulus said, then turned and stared at Remus in shock.

Remus pursed his lips then nodded.

"I'm sure you remember James and Lily? They were in an accident. They've left their son, Harry, to us," Remus said.

"Oh, I knew about the accident. I didn't know the lad had ended up with you, though," Regulus said, astonished.

"You heard about the accident? Who told you," Sirius said, as he entered the room carrying Harry, who still looked very sleepy, in his arms.

Sirius smiled at Natalie who smiled and waved back at him. Regulus hesitated. Remus could tell he was nervous to answer the question, though he couldn't imagine why.

Regulus inhaled then exhaled and said, "Severus Snape."

"Snape? Have you been cavorting around with Severus Snape?" Sirius asked, sounding appalled, handing baby Harry over to Natalie.

"Hello, Harry! I'm your auntie Natalie!" Natalie said then nuzzled her face against his wild, black hair.

Regulus looked ashamed and avoided Sirius's eyes. Sirius marched over to the sofa and stood in front of Regs, forcing him to look at him. Regulus looked up at Sirius then nodded. Sirius shook his head in disappointment then plopped on the couch next to his brother.

"Why, Regs? Snape… he's a complete and utter arsehole and a bully at that! Do you know how he treated Remus?" Sirius said.

Regulus shrugged.

"I thought he liked me. I think he did like him," Regulus admitted.

"L-Liked you? You can't be serious, can you? You were dating Snape? This is the person you were seeing? This is why you disappeared all this time? Snape?" Sirius said, his voice gradually becoming louder.

Regulus nodded again. Sirius let out a frustrated groan and slapped his hands on his legs.

"You don't understand, Sirius! He said he loved me! I believed him," Regulus said, becoming defensive.

Sirius rolled his eyes and sighed.

"A man like Snape isn't capable of love. Only obsession. He wants to possess and manipulate people. The way he treated Lily… the things he said to her… about her. And James too! Always had something awful and racist to say about him," Sirius said.

"But what about what you lot did to him?" Regulus said.

Sirius's face got grim. He sighed and closed his eyes.

"Did you forget about that? That prank you pulled nearly killed him," Regulus said.

Remus frowned, remembering his part in the prank in question. They had all been fifteen. James had cooked up a scheme to sneak up on Snape while he was alone in a creek near where he was visiting family. Unfortunately, they had scared him so bad he fell into the creek and nearly drowned.

"No, I haven't forgotten. But that doesn't justify anything else he's said or done," Sirius admitted.

Regulus shook his head and got off the couch.

"I'm gonna go," Regs said and pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and stuck it in his mouth before heading to the door.

"Regs! Wait!" Sirius said, following him out the door.

Remus walked over and saw Regulus light his cigarette and walk down the hall in their apartment building with Sirius yelling at him from behind. Remus frowned and went back to the table and sat down.

"I'm sorry about you having to show up in the middle of that mess, Natalie," Remus said.

"It's all right. Family's complicated," Natalie said, giving him a small smile.

"Indeed," Remus replied.

August 14, 2001

Sirius opened his eyes and looked around. Lily smiled down at him from the sofa; James had his head in her lap, fast asleep. He had been spending some time over at their flat while James dealt with the sudden death of his parents.

Sirius had been caught off guard as it had now been two weeks since his younger brother Regulus had disappeared, leaving behind a suicide note. He had wanted desperately to believe his brother was still alive and only claimed he was going to kill himself to get their parents to leave him alone but increasingly he was being forced to accept that his brother might be truly gone.

But James… Poor James. His parents were definitely gone, killed in a freak gas leak. Unlike Sirius, James had had a wonderful relationship with his parents. He couldn't stand to see James so crushed. Even still, he had come to James and Lily's flat for support, though it was possible some of it was for himself too.

"How are you feeling?" Lily asked, as if she could read his mind.

"I'm alive," Sirius said.

Lily raised an eyebrow and said, "That's your state of being. How do you feel?"

"I feel… numb. The darkness comes and goes in waves. I don't even feel sad. I just feel like… this great weight is crushing me," Sirius admitted.

Lily gave him a sympathetic look.

"That's how I felt after my dad died. I could hardly feel sad because I couldn't feel anything at all. I wanted to comfort my mum but I just didn't have it in me. I felt so rotten, like I was a terrible daughter. But it passed and it'll pass for you. It'll pass for him too," Lily said and leaned down and kissed the top of her boyfriend's head.

"I hope so. Thanks, Lils," Sirius said, reaching up for her hand.

Lily grabbed Sirius's hand and gave it a squeeze.

"You're welcome," Lily said and let go.

Sirius sat across from his brother in a pub. Regulus had his hands wrapped around a pint of beer on the table they were seated at and was staring at it intently. Sirius had finally managed to convince Regulus to stop and talk to him. Regs only agreed if Sirius would buy him a beer.

The pub was filled to the brim with people and was fairly noisy. Christmas music played but could barely be heard over the constant rumble of voices. As it was Sirius could barely hear Regulus when he finally spoke.

"What did you say?" Sirius said.

Regulus looked up from his beer and repeated himself, louder, "Sev seemed all right at first."

Sirius found it hard to believe Severus Snape ever seemed all right. He remembered what that man had been like at school far too well. He knew the way he had bullied Remus. He knew the way he had obsessed over Lily.

"What happened, Regs? Tell me everything," Sirius said, trying his best to make sure Regulus could hear his genuine concern.

"Well, he approached me out of nowhere. Last year he was in school. He just… asked me out. I didn't even know he fancied blokes. And I didn't know anyone knew I did too. I barely even told my own brother," Regulus said, gesturing at Sirius.

Sirius remembered when Regulus had covered for Sirius when their mother almost discovered Sirius's big secret.

"Anyhow, we went on a date. It was kind of nice. He's smart, you see. Honestly, once you get to know him… he's not so bad. And he made me feel… special. Wanted… desired. He invited me to this club… It was led by this guy who had written a book. Tom Riddle," Regulus said.

Sirius froze at the mention of that name.

"Riddle? But that was… he was the drunk driver who… he killed James and Lily," Sirius said.

"Yeah. That he was. Anyhow, Sev and I started to go to these meetings. Your friend Peter was always there with that Yaxley girl. I assumed that meant you knew I was alive. I guess he never told you," Regulus said.

Sirius felt so confused. Why would Peter keep that sort of secret?

"No. He didn't," Sirius said in disbelief.

Regulus shrugged and drank more beer.

"Riddle had a lot of interesting things to say. About the government and how British culture was being diluted. He thought Great Britain wasn't great anymore. He had ideas about how we could fix that. Keep Britain British," Regulus said.

"I'm guessing what he really meant was keep Britain white?" Sirius said.

"Yeah. I see that now. But the way he put it…" Regulus shook his head then continued, "It made a lot of sense at the time."

"My little brother became a Nazi," Sirius said flatly.

Regulus looked stunned at Sirius and waved a hand around in dismissal.

"No! Of course, I didn't! But Sev… I don't know. I think he knows it was wrong now but… I think he believed it more than I ever did. You see, I wised up. Tom wanted me to cut everyone off. And he kept wanting money. Sev pushed me to give more and more. But I realised that Tom… Tom was about himself. He just wanted power. He didn't care about us," Regulus said.

"So you quit the cult?" Sirius asked, Regulus flinching at the last word.

"Yeah. And Sev… Sev wasn't happy. You see, things weren't too good between us at that point. He wasn't so nice anymore. I do think he loved me but… He wasn't nice. I think he was afraid that if he couldn't control me I would leave. But I left because I didn't want to be controlled," Regulus said, wiping at his eyes.

"And just how well did he take that?" Sirius asked.

"Not well at all, of course. It was awful. I'm staying with mum again. Got a new mobile number. I think he's leaving me alone now," Regulus said.

Sirius felt terrible for his brother. No one should have to endure that, he thought.

"It hurts though. I still love him and I know he loved me. But it just wasn't right. It wasn't right," Regulus said.

"No, it wasn't," Sirius said and reached over and placed a hand on his brother's arm.

Regulus's mouth twitched. He almost smiled. That was a start, Sirius thought.

Remus shuddered awake at the sound of the front door opening. He hadn't heard from Sirius for hours. He hadn't even responded to his texts. Natalie had left earlier to stay with their mum and dad and asked Remus to apologise to Sirius for her but Remus thought it was perhaps Sirius who owed her an apology.

Remus slid out of bed, leaving Harry sleeping on the center of the bed peacefully, and walked into the sitting room to find his lover sitting on the couch in the dark, alone.

"How did things go with Regulus?" Remus asked.

Sirius sighed then said, "Snape dragged my brother into a cult."

"A cult?" Remus said in disbelief.

Remus went over to the couch and sat next to Sirius and put an arm around his shoulders.

"And he said Peter knew he was alive all this time. He was in the same bloody cult," Sirius said, looking sad and drained.

"The more Regs talked about how Snape treated him… the more angry I became. The thought of that greasy-haired git getting his hands on my brother…" Sirius said, grimacing.

"Did he hurt him in some way that could be reported?" Remus said.

Sirius shook his head.

"At least not that he told me. I think he was holding back. Not sure anyone would care about a queer bloke getting hurt anyhow. You know how people are," Sirius said.

"People would care. I promise you," Remus said.

Sirius wiped his eyes and nodded.

"I know Regs and I have never been close. He was the perfect son in my parents's eyes. I was everything they didn't want from a son. I hated Regs… No… I didn't hate him. But for a long time I didn't like him. I thought he was weak. God, I feel terrible even saying that," Sirius said and threw his head back.

"We all have terrible thoughts and feelings sometimes, Sirius. It is our actions that matter most," Remus said reassuringly and kissed Sirius on the cheek.

Sirius sighed and said, "What do I do now, Remus? How am I supposed to deal with this?"

"All you can do is be supportive to your brother," Remus said.

"You're probably right. What about Peter? Oh, God, I didn't tell you the the strangest part. The leader of this cult? Same bloke that killed James and Lily," Sirius said then looked directly at Remus with a dark look.

Remus's mouth fell open. He hadn't expected that.

"That's an odd coincidence. We'll have to sit Peter down and have a conversation with him. Hard to believe our dear friend kept such a big secret from us… from you," Remus said.

"At least I don't have to worry about running into Snape. Apparently, he's moved away from Manchester," Sirius said.

"Well, that's something at least," Remus said.

"Not far enough if you ask me," Sirius said and stood up off the couch.

Remus stood up as well. He then stepped forward and opened his arms to Sirius who gladly accepted his embrace. They pulled apart and Remus planted his lips on Sirius's and gave him a brief, soft kiss then pulled away.

"Harry is in our bed asleep," Remus said.

"He can stay there," Sirius said. "I think I'll find some comfort in having him there, between us. I need a reminder that there are still beautiful things in this world."

"I think Harry certainly qualifies for that," Remus said.

Chapter Text

October 4, 2004

"I need to tell you something, mate. And I don't want you to get upset," James said as he and Sirius stood on the balcony of his and Lily's flat.

Sirius sighed, bracing himself, then said, "All right. Go ahead."

"Me and Lils are thinking about moving away from Manchester," James said.

"Moving away from- Are you serious?" Sirius said.

James raised an eyebrow and smiled slyly. Sirius scowled at him. He wasn't in the mood for any bloody 'serious sounds just like Sirius' jokes right now.

"Yeah, I am. We are, I mean. We don't think the city is the best place for Harry," James said.

"It was good enough for us!" Sirius objected.

James shrugged then shook his head.

"Lily talks a lot about her hometown, Richmond. We're thinking about moving there," James admitted.

"North Yorkshire? Nothing but Tories and sheep up there," Sirius said, waving a hand dismissively.

"Lily says it's nice. We're gonna take a trip up there after New Year's. You and Remus should come with us," James said.

Sirius huffed and crossed his arms in frustration. How could they do this him? Surely they wouldn't take Harry so far away.

"I don't know. I'll talk to Remus and see how he feels," Sirius said.

James and Sirius stood there in silence, watching the people and traffic below. Sirius felt anxious. He wanted to beg James not to go. How would he deal with his best friend not being by his side?

Suddenly James spoke again, "I really think it might be for the best. Maybe Lils and I won't fit in that well up there but it will be a less stressful environment for Harry and he's what matters, you know," James said.

Sirius sighed. James was probably right, damn him. Sirius nodded but said nothing in reply. There was nothing he could say.

Remus awoke suddenly to the feeling of Sirius shaking him by the shoulder. The sun appeared to have only just come up and they hadn't even got to bed until three in the morning the night before. It was Sunday, Boxing Day, neither of them had work and Remus didn't think anything important could possibly be happening.

"Remus, I need to talk to you. Wake up!" Sirius said urgently.

"OK! All right! I'm awake, Sirius. What in the Dickens is the matter?" Remus said, rolling over to face Sirius.

"We should move to Richmond!" Sirius said.

"Richmond? Lily's hometown? Hard to imagine a couple of queer blokes like us fitting in there," Remus said.

"I never got around to telling you before. I guess… I guess I was in denial about it. But James and Lily were thinking of moving there before…" Sirius started but couldn't bring himself to finish.

Remus nodded and touched Sirius's shoulder, sympathetically.

"I think maybe it's what they would've wanted," Sirius said.

"You may be right, Sirius. But how will we manage? You'll have to get a job, you know. And I'll need to find one in Richmond, fast. I don't have much money in savings but it might be enough to get us there at least," Remus said.

"I'm not suggesting we move there right this minute, you know. But… I think we should consider it. Maybe after the new year. We can have a fresh start. If for nothing else but for Harry's sake. It's a way to connect him to his past, to connect him to Lily," Sirius said.

Remus looked closely at his lover's face. This was a big step for them to take. He knew it couldn't have been easy for Sirius to come to this decision, not with his anxiety. But he could see that he was sincere about this, despite the suddenness.

"All right. Fuck it. Let's do it," Remus said. "After we've had some more sleep though."

Remus leaned over and kissed Sirius lightly on the nose with a smile then rolled back over and closed his eyes, drifting quickly back off to sleep while happy thoughts filled his mind.

July 2, 2003

Remus was standing outside the cottage and staring up at the moon when Sirius found him. The cottage was located on the coast near Tintagel, Cornwall. It was believed by some that King Arthur was born at a castle there.

James had inherited the cottage from his parents when they passed away two years ago. James had invited Remus, Sirius and Peter to come here with him and Lily before the baby was born as one last memory of their youth before adulthood finally claimed their lives.

Sirius quietly walked up behind Remus and wrapped his arms around his waist, resting a head on his shoulder.

"I've always found an odd sort of comfort in full moons," Remus said.

"Are you in need of comfort, Remus?" Sirius asked and squeezed Remus to him a little tighter.

"Not as such. I was just… thinking about things," Remus said, then let out a quiet sigh.

"What is it, love?" Sirius said, then kissed his neck.

"I'm not sure, if I'm being honest. It's… something implacable and out of reach in the back of my mind. A sense of change on the horizon," Remus answered.

"It's a baby, not the end of the world," Sirius said and pressed his face into the top of Remus's head and inhaled.

They'd gone to the beach today and Remus's hair smelled of the ocean. Tomorrow they'd have a look at the castle.

"It's not the baby. It's what the baby represents. Everything is going to change. Lily and James are going to be parents and that means more responsibilities for them both. They're so young… we're so young," Remus said.

Sirius looked behind his shoulder back into the cottage. James, Lily and Peter were seated at a table. Lily had her head on James's shoulder. Sirius couldn't believe Lily still had four more weeks left. She looked like she was ready to explode, though he realized it might be impolite to say that out loud.

"Yes, they are. We are. But loads of people do it. Actually, for that matter, loads of people do it younger than them. They'll manage. Well, Lily will. Still not sure about James if I'm being honest," Sirius said.

"I've no doubt they'll be great parents. Lily will be a fantastic mum and I think James might surprise you. He always pulls through when it matters. No, it's not that I'm worried about," Remus said.

"What then?" Sirius asked.

"It's what's being lost. We've just barely stopped not being children and now… it's like that's being pulled away forever," Remus said.

Sirius wasn't used to seeing Remus this anxious. Normally, Sirius was the anxious one.

"There's something else, isn't there? It's not just this encroaching adulthood business," Sirius said then let a hand slip to Remus's side to find Remus's hand which he then clasped into his own.

Remus was quiet for a moment. Getting him to talk too deeply about his feelings wasn't always easy but Sirius knew Remus would feel better if he'd just get it out.

"It's Lily. I feel like I'm going to lose her. She's been my best friend for so long. It's stupid, I know," Remus said, hanging his head.

"I'm losing my best friend too, you know," Sirius said and pulled away from Remus and stepped in front of him.

Remus avoided Sirius's eyes, looking back up at the moon.

"I know that. And I know we're not really losing them. Life goes on. And I know we have each other and technically Lily and James aren't going anywhere. It's not like they're dying, for God's sake. And there's Peter," Remus said then looked back into the cottage where Peter was feeling Lily's stomach and laughing.

"When he's around," Sirius finished for Remus.

"Yeah. He never really is anymore, though, is he? Off with that Yaxley girl or taking care of his mum," Remus replied.

Peter seemed to notice them looking in at him because he smiled in their direction then quickly abandoned James and Lily and came out of the cottage to see how they were doing.

"Hey, Pete. We were just talking about you," Sirius said.

"Oh, nothing bad I hope, lads," Peter said before ruffling his blond hair nervously.

"Of course not, Pete. We're just a bit sad that we never see you around much anymore," Sirius said.

Peter walked past them and looked out at the coast. Sirius noticed Pete's walk was a bit unstable, clearly a bit tipsy.

"Yeah, sorry about that. Mum's got worse recently. There's just no one else but me to help out, you know," Peter said.

"Would you like some help? Sirius and I would be happy to lend a hand with anything your mum needed," Remus said.

Peter looked bothered at this and shook his head.

"Oh, no, I don't think mum would like that. She's very private, you see. Doesn't take kindly to strangers if you know what I mean," Peter replied.

"Yes, of course. Your mum has a right to her privacy and we wouldn't want to intrude," Remus said, though Sirius thought his face looked suspicious.

"I appreciate the offer, though. You're bloody great friends," Peter said and laid his hands on both Remus's and Sirius's shoulders before pulling them to him and embracing them both. Sirius noticed Peter was trembling. Did he share Remus's fears?

"What about us then, mate?" James said suddenly, startling Sirius.

"Oh, you and Lils are more than just bloody great. You're bloody amazing!" Peter said and went over and embraced James and Lily as well.

Sirius was moved at this sight and felt himself tear up. Remus must have noticed because he grabbed Sirius and kissed him. Now it was no use. He was crying.

The five of them then stepped forward and looked out at the coast, lit only by the light of the full moon. For a moment they stood and watched the water in silence. Then Sirius felt Remus grab his left hand. Sirius looked over and realised they were all holding hands: Peter was holding James's, James holding Lily's, Lily holding Remus's and Remus holding Sirius's.

"We'll have to bring Harry here, next year," Sirius said.

"Absolutely, mate. Actually, Lils, I was thinking maybe we should just hang around here until he's born," James said with a big grin on his face.

"Oh what? So he can be born where King Arthur was born?" Lily said with a skeptical look at James.

"Oh no, of course not. Actually, it's a misconception that he was born here. Just conceived here with some help from Merlin," James said.

"Merlin didn't have a part to play in Harry's conception, that's for sure. I mean I'm up for a bit of experimentation but I draw a line at mythical wizards. Vulcans on the other hand," Lily said, then elbowed James with a laugh.

"All this talk of conception is making me want to give it a go right now. You lads go inside, will you, and give me and Lily some privacy," James said, trying his best to sound serious.

"Oh, do fuck off, mate," Sirius said. "You can find your own time for shagging."

"Fair enough," James said then turned and winked at Sirius. Sirius knew well enough that James might wait for everyone to fall asleep and convince Lily to sneak back out here to fool around anyway.

"Do you suppose it's true?" Peter said.

"What's that Pete?" James asked.

"Oh, you know. Merlin. King Arthur," Peter said.

James rubbed his chin in thought.

"I don't know. It's nice to think about though," James admitted.

"I think it's bollocks," Sirius said.

"You would," James said.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sirius asked with a sharp glare at James.

"You never want to believe there's anything more to the world, Sirius. No ghosts, or magic or even God. Seems a bit of a boring way to look at things, if you ask me," James said.

Sirius scoffed but kept otherwise silent. It was a nice moment they were having. No reason to ruin it with an argument.

"Well, I think it was real," Peter said.

"Good for you, Pete," James said with a smile at him.

"I'm with Sirius on this one, I must confess," Lily said.

James turned and looked appalled at his wife.

"Betrayal!" James said.

"What about you, Remus?" Peter said.

Sirius examined his boyfriend's face. Remus looked down at the ground for a second then looked back up with a smile.

"I don't suppose we can really know. Perhaps there is some historical basis in the myth. If you are asking me if I believe in wizards and magic and that the entire bloody legend is true, then no. But could there have been a King Arthur? Perhaps," Remus said.

Peter smiled down at Remus and nodded.

"Yeah. Perhaps," Peter said then looked back out at the coast, a satisfied smile on his face.

Remus and Sirius found themselves packing for a potential move, two days after Christmas. Remus believed in being prepared and hated having to rush at the last minute, even though strictly speaking they only had half a plan.

"When was the last time you heard from Peter?" Sirius said, casually, startling Remus from his organizational trance.

Remus placed the item he was holding into a box thought for a moment. He had called Peter Pettigrew a couple of times since the funeral but he didn't recall ever hearing back from him.

"I don't know. Not since the funeral," Remus said.

"I was angry at him the other night… but now I'm worried," Sirius said.

"You think maybe something has happened to him?" Remus asked.

"I don't know. I just… I want to hear from him. I want to understand why he didn't tell me about my brother," Sirius said before making a silly face at Harry who was playing with blocks on the bedroom floor.

"Do you think we should check on him?" Remus asked.

Harry ran over to Remus and offered him a block which Remus considered with amusement.

"Here Wemus!" Harry said with the block outstretched to Remus.

"Not just now, Harry," Remus said and waved a hand in dismissal causing Harry to run back over to Sirius.

"I suppose we could. I know he said his mother doesn't like strangers… but I don't think I could bear leaving Manchester without saying goodbye or finding out how he's doing. We should at least try and ring him again first," Sirius said.

"You're right," Remus said then went over to the night stand to call Peter on his mobile.

The line rang several times before there was finally an answer. At first no one spoke and Remus nearly hung up and tried again before a quiet, unsettled voice said: "Hello."

"Hello? Peter?" Remus said.

"Yeah, it's me. Hello, Remus," Peter said.

"Sirius and I were wondering if you were all right. We haven't heard from you since the funeral," Remus said.

There was no reply.

"Peter?" Remus said.

"Yeah?" Peter replied.

"Peter, are you all right?" Remus repeated.

A pause then, "Sure."

Remus grimaced then shook his head.

"Sirius and I are coming over," Remus said.

"No! Don't do that! Mum-" Peter stammered but Remus hung up.

Remus looked down at Sirius and frowned.

"Peter doesn't sound like he's doing well. To hell with his mother's comfort. He's our friend," Remus said.

Remus knocked on the door to the apartment Peter shared with his mother, Almira Pettigrew. Sirius expected them to have a long wait given Peter's attitude on the phone but it was only a few seconds before there was a sound of several locks being unlatched and unlocked, and the door slowly creaked partially open.

Almira Pettigrew smelled of liquor and she looked haggard and even thinner than Sirius remembered. She didn't say anything at first, instead letting her eyes dart back and forth between them both, occasionally fixing on Harry who was in Sirius's arms.

"Hello, Mrs. Pettigrew. We're here to see Peter," Remus said.

"Peter's not here," Almira said.

"When will he be back?" Sirius asked.

"Never. He moved out months ago," Almira replied.

Sirius felt his mouth drop open and then try to form a question but it wouldn't come.

"Where did he move to?" Remus asked, picking up Sirius's slack.

Almira scowled and shook her head.

"I've no idea. Boy didn't even show up for Christmas! Ran off with that girlfriend of his," Almira said.

"You mean Madeleine Yaxley?" Remus asked.

"Yeah. Yaxley. Maddy Yaxley," Almira replied.

Sirius remembered Madeleine Yaxley from school. He hadn't cared for her. She was beautiful, certainly. But she wasn't very nice and didn't really seem like Peter's type. And now she had dragged him off to join a cult, the same one his brother had joined.

"Madeleine Yaxley? Are you sure?" Sirius asked.

"Yeah, that's her. Little trollop is corrupting my sweet boy," Almira said.

"I'm sorry that Peter left you, Mrs. Pettigrew. How are you feeling?" Sirius asked.

Harry suddenly began to cry and Sirius could see this bothered Almira greatly. They couldn't linger much longer, then. In the meantime, Remus took Harry from Sirius and gave him a bottle.

"Me? I'm all right. Just worried about my boy," Almira said, wide eyed.

Sirius studied her for a moment. It was true. She didn't look ill. Just… tired. She looked older than she was but that had always been true. She reeked of alcohol but that was nothing new either. Almira Pettigrew wasn't ill, she was just an alcoholic. Peter had been lying to them all along, Sirius realised.

Remus and Sirius sat at the dining table in the dark in quiet contemplation. Harry was asleep. Remus couldn't believe Peter had been lying to them all this whole time about his mother. What the devil had he been up to?

"It's like Peter had this secret life all this time. Did we never know him?" Sirius asked.

"Perhaps, in a way," Remus answered.

"We knew about Yaxley, at least. But a cult… lying about his mother's health," Sirius said.

"He should've given us a chance. If he was struggling… we could've helped him," Remus said but Sirius shook his head.

"Maybe I've been unfair. Maybe there's… something else. Something we don't know. Something he was truly afraid to admit," Sirius said.

"You're probably right. I'm just not sure what," Remus said.

Just then there was a small knock at their front door.

Remus got up from the table and Sirius followed him. Remus opened the door quickly to find Peter standing there, looking disheveled and wet from rain and smelling of alcohol every bit as much as his mother had earlier.

"Peter?" Remus said, his voice coming out a mixture of worry and amazement.

Peter nodded, his face downturned.

"Can I come in?" Peter asked, his voice small and tired.

"Of course you can. Sirius will you get him a towel," Remus said.

Remus let Peter in while Sirius dutifully went for the towel. Peter sat down at the table just in time for Sirius to get back. Peter dried himself off while Remus made him a cup of tea.

With Peter dry and tea served Remus decided to let Peter relax a bit before interrogating him. He tried his best to flash Sirius as many glances as he could, hoping the message would get across. It must have, because Sirius also remained silent.

Finally, Peter had finished his tea and Sirius spoke: "Why have you been lying to us about your mum? Why did you know my brother was alive and never tell me?"

Peter sighed.

"I've done much worse than that," Peter said weakly, tears streaming down his face.

He was staring off to the side, avoiding eye contact with either of them.

"What do you mean?" Sirius asked.

"Regulus said Maddy Yaxley started taking you to the meetings," Remus said.

"We started dating about two years ago. I'd been interested in her back in school but I knew what you lot would all say so I kept it to myself for as long as I could. But she started taking me to the meetings," Peter said, looking regretful and desperately wiping at his face.

"Tom was an older bloke. Most folks found him a bit scary or intimidating. I guess maybe I did too. But he had a lot of interesting things to say, though I didn't care for all of them. He'd go on and on about the world and how it was all the brown-skinned people who were holding the whites back. Shit like that. Made me uncomfortable but he had a way of making you want to listen, like I said," Peter continued.

Remus flinched internally. Tom sounded like a major arsehole.

"We had a meeting that night and… and… Oh, don't you see? It was me! I killed them. I killed James and Lily," Peter said, beginning to cry.

"Don't be ridiculous, Pete. Tom Riddle killed them. You weren't even there," Remus said.

Peter wiped at his eyes desperately and tried to pull himself together. He shook his head.

"No, that's where you're wrong. Well, I wasn't there. That's true enough. But Tom… Tom wouldn't have been drunk if I hadn't let him! It was after a meeting. He convinced me to stay and have some drinks with him. I knew he was too drunk to drive… but I didn't stop him. I… was afraid what he might say or do if I tried to stop him. Don't you see! It's my fault!" Peter said.

Remus felt cold all over. Peter's cowardice had, however inadvertently, contributed to James and Lily's deaths. There was no way around that. But Peter needed to know their deaths weren't really his fault. Tom Riddle had made his own decisions.

Sirius punched Peter from across the table.

"Ahhh!" Peter groaned as he hit the floor.

"Sirius!" Remus shouted.

"Peter helped kill James and Lily, Remus!" Sirius said then wiped at his eyes.

"Violence will not help. Dammit, Sirius there was no way Peter could've known. Yes, it was irresponsible to allow Riddle to drive drunk. At the very least he could've made him take the bus and deal with his car later. But Riddle was an adult. Peter can't be responsible for his actions," Remus said as Peter pulled himself back up.

Peter's face looked all right. Sirius didn't appear to have damaged him in any meaningful sort of way, other than emotionally.

"His irresponsibility got our friends killed! Even he knows it, why don't you?" Sirius said.

"Actions have consequences, this is true. But it is more Tom's actions than Peter's that killed them. Look at Peter, Sirius," Remus said and gestured at Peter.

Sirius glared at Peter who was looking away from him.

"Hasn't he punished himself enough," Remus said.

Sirius sighed.

"Listen, Pete. Maybe you should just… go back home to your girlfriend or something," Sirius said.

"I… I can't. I think we're broken up," Peter admitted.

"Oh," Sirius said.

"You can stay here with us. Sirius and I don't mind, do we?" Remus said and flashed Sirius a look meant to convey that they definitely did not mind.

Reluctantly, Sirius nodded and said, "Sure, why not?" before getting up from the table, probably to get a blanket for Peter.

Remus and Peter sat in silence for a moment. Remus couldn't imagine what Peter was feeling. Remus was feeling numb. This had been an emotionally exhausting day. He needed sleep. Tomorrow would require a lot of thinking on all their parts.

A thought occurred to Remus at that moment but he put it aside for the time being as Sirius came back with Peter's blanket. He and Remus said their goodnights and agreed to talk over things tomorrow more reasonably.

Sirius awoke to find Remus standing at the window, looking up at the sky. The moon was barely visible through the clouds but Remus seemed to have found it.

"Something bothering you?" Sirius asked.

"No. For once, something is not. It's more… I've had a thought but I'm afraid to say it," Remus admitted.

"Well, now you have to say it because you've brought it up," Sirius said with a small smile.

"I know. Just promise me you won't overreact," Remus said.

"I can't promise that. Just bloody say it," Sirius said.

Remus nodded and his shoulders slumped.

"I want Peter to come with us to Richmond," Remus said.

"What?" Sirius said, feeling more baffled than angry.

"I think it would be good for him to get away from here. And if he gets a job, that would expand the sort of place we could afford. Besides, he can't be the only one of us who gets stuck in Manchester," Remus said.

"You're probably right. And… knowing James and Lily it's what they'd've wanted as well," Sirius confessed, despite himself.

"Very well. We'll tell Pete in the morning and see what he thinks," Remus said.

"I'm sure Harry will be happy to have his Uncle Pete around," Sirius said.

"I think I will too. He is our friend, you know," Remus said and thankfully returned to bed and Sirius found himself peacefully in Remus's arms.

Chapter Text

February 10, 1996

"Do you like living in Manchester?" Lily asked Remus, who was laying back on her bed, feeling very comfortable.

"Not as such," Remus said.

"Oh?" Lily said.

Remus shrugged.

"It's noisy and there are lot of people," Remus replied.

"Hmm. My family moved here from Richmond in North Yorkshire," Lily said.

Remus had never needed to be told Lily was from Yorkshire, he could hear it in her accent. There were a lot of stereotypes about people from Yorkshire, particularly about them being tight with money or being stubborn and argumentative. Remus chose to ignore them and they certainly didn't apply to Lily Evans.

He really liked Lily. They had been friends for a year now. He had been apprehensive when she approached him and told him that she and Severus Snape were no longer friends and apologised for tolerating Snape's behaviour for so long.

Lily turned on her stereo and put in a cassette tape. As soon as the music started to play, Remus immediately recognized it as Blur's album 'The Great Escape.' He had it himself. Britpop wasn't normally his sort of thing but Lily had really converted him this last year.

"So I take it you've sided with Blur in the battle with Oasis," Remus said and walked over to Lily who was putting the case for the cassette back in its container on her dresser.

Lily turned around, smiled, then shook her head, her dark red hair bouncing.

"Do I have to pick? Can't I like them both?" Lily said.

"Yeah, you can. I guess I didn't think anyone did," Remus said.

"Well, I do. And besides I like Pulp more than either of them," Lily said defiantly, sticking out her tongue.

Remus admired Lily's ability to not care about trends or social norms. He wished he could be as comfortable with himself as she could. He felt short compared to most boys. His parents promised him that he would grow with puberty but he was nearly thirteen now and nothing seemed to be changing.

Remus looked at Lily who was smiling and singing along with 'Stereotypes', the opening track of 'The Great Escape', and noticed that Lily was noticeably taller than he was now. He was certain she hadn't been much taller than him when he first met her a year and a half ago.

And then there were his scars. He saw the way people looked at him, especially when they first laid eyes on him. He knew* how ugly the scar across his face made him.

Luckily, he could hide the scars on other parts of his body under clothing, though he did avoid showering with other boys if he could help it and he never took his shirt off to swim.

But Lily had never seemed to care about the scar on his face. It wasn't possible to not notice it, but whatever her thoughts were about it she did not reveal them outwardly.

Lily glanced at Remus, smiled then flashed her brilliant green eyes at him before looking away again. Remus felt slightly embarrassed then tugged at the sleeves of his large sweater and licked his lips nervously.

Lily went and sat on the corner of her bed. Remus wasn't sure what to do so he decided to glance out the window. Nothing important was out there but cars, buses and rain.

"Come sit down, will you?" Lily asked and Remus nodded, then sat down at the opposite corner. Something about the way Lily was smiling at him made him nervous but excited and he wasn't really sure what it was.

Lily scooted over to Remus and he felt his heart race and his hands began to feel clammy.

"Remus… have you ever snogged a girl before?" Lily asked.

"Snogged a girl?" Remus said in shock. "No, of course not. I've never even thought about it."

"What about a boy?" Lily asked, sounding excited.

"A boy? What do you mean?" Remus said, feeling more nervous than ever.

Could Lily really tell he was into blokes? Remus wondered what he had done to give it away.

"It's a simple question! Have you ever snogged anyone?" Lily asked.

"No. No, I haven't. Haven't really had the time," Remus said.

It was simply the first thing that came to mind, though he knew it didn't make much sense.

"Haven't had the time?" Lily asked skeptically.

"Well, what I mean is, that I'm only twelve! And anyway, I don't think anyone wants to snog me," Remus said.

"Why not? You're a handsome bloke," Lily said.

Remus felt himself blush and she looked away.

"You don't really mean it, Lils," Remus said and looked away. "I know… I know I'm ugly."

"Ugly? That's rubbish!" Lily said before moving closer to Remus then putting her hand on his chin and guiding his face back around to her.

Remus looked at Lily and realised that she had a sincere and cautious look about her. Her eyes were examining him but she wasn't saying anything, yet.

"I don't care about your scar, Remus," Lily said, then reached over and touched his face softly.

She then leaned over and pressed her lips into his. It was an odd yet pleasant sensation. Her lips were thin, soft and unobtrusive. They briefly moved against his lips before she pulled away.

Remus smiled, despite himself.

"That wasn't so bad was it?" Lily said.

"No. No it wasn't. Where'd you learn to… do it? That wasn't your first time, was it?" Remus said.

Lily looked a bit worried for a moment then just smiled and said, "I snogged a friend before. It wasn't a big deal, really."

"Is that what this is? Just snogging," Remus said.

"Yeah, of course it is. We're just friends and you're into blokes," Lily said.

Remus looked stunned. How could Lily possibly know* that? He had been so careful.

"How… how can you tell?" Remus asked.

"'Cause I like looking at cute blokes and sometimes I catch you looking at them too, though you're always too preoccupied to notice," Lily said with a wink.

"You won't tell anyone, will you? Please don't!" Remus said.

"Your secret's safe with me," Lily said then gave him a hug.

Remus sighed in relief.

Remus and Sirius were kissing on the sofa while Harry played with his blocks on the floor. The clock had just struck midnight on New Year's. It was now 2005. The move to Richmond and their first full year with Harry was ahead of them.

Sirius wasn't sure if there was another human being who was as good at kissing as Remus Lupin. His full lips were sensual and commanding without ever being forceful. He felt his body warming and a familiar sense of urgency creeping in. He moved his hands to Remus's sides and squeezed, hoping he would get the hint.

Of course, nothing could happen until they put Harry to bed. Sirius was beginning to wonder if the boy was ever going to tire. He had been remarkably active today. Peter, on the other hand, was out of the flat tonight. Sirius didn't know where he went but he said he would be back the next day.

When their mouths finally parted Sirius glanced over and saw that Harry was passed out on the floor. He then turned back to Remus, lifted an eyebrow and smiled at him. Remus grinned, nodded and said, "All right. I'll put him to bed. You go get yourself ready."

Sirius did just that. He wasted no time in moving to their bedroom as quickly as he could and tearing off his clothes. He even set the lube out so it would be ready for Remus after he put some lube on his own fingers to help himself stroke his own cock.

Remus was in the bedroom in no time. Sirius turned his head and watched as Remus tossed off his old sweater, revealing his scarred torso, then unbuttoned and unzipped his trousers and pulled them off, leaving himself standing in his pants with a familiar bulge.

Remus smiled at Sirius then pulled off his pants, letting his erection bounce out. He slicked it up with lube then pranced over to the bed with a little sway to his hips. He climbed onto the bed and slid on top of Sirius, kissing him and sliding their slick shafts together.

Sirius's hands rubbed up and down Remus's back, feeling his strength and the firmness of his body. Remus let a hand clutch Sirius's hip, pulling their bodies closer together.

Sirius pulled his mouth away and breathed into Remus's ear, "I need you. I want you to take me. Use me however you want. Please."

Remus lifted up and then slid his cock down to Sirius's hole. Sirius softly stroked himself as he watched Remus slowly push himself inside.

"Oh," Sirius moaned as Remus got as much as the head inside.

Remus rocked his hips in slow, fluid motions and he eased himself inside. He was just so damn good at this, Sirius thought, his grip on his cock strengthening. Slowly, Remus got as deep as he could go. He then leaned down as Sirius wrapped his legs around his back and he kissed Sirius again as he began to pump into Sirius's arse.

Remus kissed Sirius's shoulder and Sirius looked down and watched Remus's arse bobbing up and down in slow, deep thrusts inside of loved the feeling of being filled and stretched by his lover's hard heat.

"God, Remus, yes," Sirius groaned, feeling his hard prick rubbing against Remus's belly.

Sirius clutched Remus's back as Remus began to pump faster.

"Oh, Remus, just like that. Fuck, I need this," Sirius said.

"Haven't I told you how great your arse feels, Sirius? So fucking tight," Remus said, beginning to pound into Sirius.

Sirius's mouth moved to Remus's neck and sucked as his boyfriend slammed into him. Sirius felt tension rising through his body, his cock grinding into Remus's belly.

"Harder, Remus. Please!" Sirius whimpered

Remus shook as he slammed hard into Sirius. This was the moment Sirius loved the most. It was the moment when the world melted away and he felt completely consumed by their passion, with heat and pleasure filling their bodies almost as if they had become one.

"Unh. Unh. Ahhh!" Remus moaned, pushing himself deep as Sirius felt his cock spasm inside his arse.

"Remus!" Sirius squealed as his body clenched and he came hard between them.

Remus quickly collapsed against him, both of them sweaty and breathing hard.

"Do you hear that?" Remus said through hard breaths.

"No?" Sirius said.

"Exactly," Remus said. "Harry didn't wake up."

Just then there was a commotion outside. Some late night partiers partying a little too loudly, from the sound of it.

As if on cue Harry began to cry. Remus sighed and Sirius threw his head back onto his pillow.

"I'm really getting sick of Manchester, you know," Sirius said.

"Yes. I understand exactly what you mean," Remus said then got up to take care of Harry.

March 10, 1999

"Have you ever shagged anyone?" Lily said.

Lily was grinning wickedly on her bed, her back against the wall. Remus was laying across the bottom of the bed, hands folded on his stomach, and feeling embarrassed.

It was his birthday. Belle and Sebastian were playing on Lily's stereo. Lily really liked them, or at least they seemed to be all she was playing lately.

"Shagged? I haven't shagged anyone. Don't you think I'd tell you if I had?" Remus answered.

"I haven't told you who I've shagged," Lily said.

"Because you haven't shagged anyone," Remus said, then laughed.

"Dorcas Meadowes," Lily said, with an emphasis on the vowel sounds.

Remus was speechless.

"Meadowes?" he said, leaning up, then added, "Get out!" with a dismissive wave.

"Twice," Lily added with a wink.

Remus laughed.

"You're serious? Bugger, Lils, I didn't realise you fancied girls," Remus said.

Lily tucked her legs in then slowly pushed her body forward until she was laying on her stomach, and resting on her elbows, a pale hand on her cheek.

She had changed a lot since they had first became friends. She had filled out in ways that boys, and apparently girls, noticed. Lily didn't care for some of the attention her body provided her. He'd heard boys saying a lot of pretty ghastly things about her that made him want to punch them in her defence.

"I guess we have more in common than you thought," Lily said.

Remus did* think she looked nice, but then he'd always thought that, hadn't he? And looking at her wasn't like looking at boys, particularly Sirius Black. Ever since he discovered that Sirius was gay last summer he had been working up the nerve to ask him out.

He kept telling himself summer was coming again and there'd be loads of time to get Sirius alone. He had considered asking Sirius to spend time with him for his birthday, but Lily had invited him to stay the night with her while her parents were out of town before he had the chance.

"I suppose so. So umm… how was it?" Remus asked, immediately wishing he hadn't.

"It was nice," Lily said then smiled wistfully and said, "Really nice. The second time, especially. First time was a bit awkward, you know, with all the sort of fumbling about."

"I'm afraid I don't* know," Remus said.

"That's a shame. I bet shagging blokes is great fun," Lily said.

Remus couldn't believe he was having this conversation. He wasn't sure what to say and felt a mixture of embarrassment and excitement.

"I'd like to think so. Though it's not just blokes so much as…" Remus trailed off with a sigh.

"Sirius Black," Lily said, then flashed Remus a knowing smile.

"I want to do more than just shag him," Remus said.

"I don't doubt it. But I bet it crosses your mind," Lily said.

Remus covered his face with his hands in shame, letting out a long groan, then said, "Of course it does."

"Don't be embarrassed. It's perfectly natural," Lily said, then bit lightly on her thin, red-stained bottom lip.

Remus removed his hands and looked at her. Remus suddenly had a memory of a time a few years back when they'd had a brief snog. It remained the only snog he'd ever had. Here he was a gay, sixteen year old boy and he'd only ever kissed a girl.

"What's on your mind, Remus?" Lily said.

"Hmm. Oh, nothing. Why?" Remus stammered.

"You were staring at my mouth," Lily said.

Remus felt hot with embarrassment. He hadn't even been consciously aware of that.

"Was I? I hadn't noticed," Remus replied.

"Don't worry. I don't mind. You just looked sort of intense," Lily said.

Remus was trying desperately to look anywhere but her lips, just in case he did it again without noticing.

"I really wasn't trying. I was just thinking about something," Remus said.

"That time we snogged?" Lily asked.

Remus groaned.

"Yes, the time we snogged. Bloody hell, Lils, are you psychic?" Remus said.

"Not that I know of. So, have you got any better at it since?" Lily said, and stuck her tongue out at him.

"I don't know," Remus said, wondering how their brief snog could be said to have a particular quality.

"How can you not know?" Lily asked, giving Remus a sceptical look.

Remus grimaced then admitted, "Because I haven't snogged anyone else."

Lily's head bounced back in shock, her green eyes wide.

"Really? No one?" Lily asked in amazement.

"Well, no. Who exactly am I going to snog, Lils? All the other gay teenage boys at school?" Remus said.

"I bet Sirius Black has snogged some boys. Hmm… I wonder if him and James ever snog. That'd be hot," Lily said, biting her lip again, then throwing her head back in laughter.

"James is straight. I'm almost certain of it," Remus said with confidence.

"You thought I was straight too," Lily said playfully.

"Oh, all right. You've got me there, I suppose. But I do think Potter'd be more of a shock than you, the way he talks about you," Remus said.

"Really? What's he say?" Lily said, with glee in her eyes.

"Oh, nothing really," Remus lied.

"Liar," Lily said and mockingly slapped his arm.

"He just fancies you a lot," Remus said.

"What does he say specifically?" Lily insisted.

"He wants to date you and stuff," Remus said.

"Stuff? What stuff?" Lily said.

Remus sighed.

"Snogging and… you know… sex," Remus said.

"Does he?" Lily said, her mouth a wide grin.

"Yes. Now, I really shouldn't say any more!" Remus pleaded.

"Very well," Lily said and laughed.

For a moment they went silent. Lily looked thoughtful before finally saying, "I thought Dorcas was straight. We were just hanging out, watching telly and she just kept giving me this… look, you know?" Lily said.

"No," Remus admitted.

"Like this," Lily said then looked at Remus in a sort of curious and interested sort of way.

"Oh," Remus said.

"Then Dorcas just leaned over and kissed me like it was no big deal. And it wasn't. It was nice. Her lips were soft and she smelled wonderful," Lily said, closing her eyes and looking pleased at the memory.

Part of Remus wanted Lily to tell him more, but another part of him wanted her to stop. Even just talking about sex was having an effect on his body and he found himself rolling over in an attempt to hide it. But he couldn't help but be curious.

"And then what happened?" Remus said.

"We sort of just snogged for a while. I didn't really think much of it, though it was exciting," Lily said.

"I don't understand what you even do when neither of you has a cock," Remus said.

Lily burst out laughing, making him jump.

"Surely, you can use your imagination, Remus. It's not as different as you think. Everyone feels nice when you touch them down there," Lily said.

Remus could only imagine how red he was right now. He knew he could change the subject and be done with it but for some reason he persisted.

"I suppose I never really thought about it," Remus admitted.

"There's fingers and tongues. There's toys too but we didn't have any of that," Lily said.

"Is that as good as a cock?" Remus asked.

"Good as a cock? How would I know? It was bloody great, though," Lily said.

Remus was embarrassed but turned on and sort of wished he could run to the bathroom for a wank without any suspicion but he didn't think that would be the case.

"Do you think you'd like cock better?" Remus said, internally cursing himself.

"I'm curious about different people but I'm not sure it matters. Should be interesting though. I do wonder about James Potter…" Lily said and smiled brightly.

"I wonder about Sirius," Remus admitted.

Remus found it reassuring that Lily seemed to be over the incident from last summer where a prank that he, James, Sirius and Peter had pulled on Severus Snape had nearly resulted in the death of Lily's former friend.

"Wouldn't it be funny if we were both wondering about them and they were off shagging each other?" Lily asked then laughed and placed a hand affectionately on Remus's arm.

"I suppose stranger things have happened than best friends shagging each other," Remus said.

Suddenly, without thinking he leaned over and kissed Lily, shocking himself. Even as he did it he wasn't sure why he was doing it. It was caused by a strange mixture of curiosity and arousal, perhaps. In any event, Lily wasn't fighting it. Instead, she was kissing him back, her red lips caressing his own.

This wasn't at all like the kiss they had shared when Lily was barely thirteen. It was deep and messy. There was saliva and tongues involved. Lily slid her body down next to his.

Remus rolled back a little and Lily pushed her body against his, and suddenly his hardness was against her stomach and he realised at this moment he didn't care if she was a girl, as long as she was touching it.

Lily then reached down, inside his pyjamas and pants then wrapped her small hand around his swollen prick, stroking it gently while she continued to kiss him. Remus moaned into her mouth. He hadn't realized how good it would feel to have someone touch it.

Lily pulled her mouth away from his and said, "That's fuckin' big, Remus."

"Is it?" Remus said.

"Yeah. Bigger than I expected, and I've seen plenty of pictures of cocks on the internet. Boys doing things with girls. Boys doing things with boys," Lily admitted, and Remus felt an odd sort of camaraderie knowing they both enjoyed internet porn.

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Remus asked.

"Depends on who you are I suppose. A bit intimidating to me, if I'm being honest," Lily said then went back to kissing him.

Remus was enjoying this and he wasn't sure why. He didn't like girls! He was sure of it. But he felt safe and comfortable with Lily and she was certainly attractive, as far as girls went. He tried to close his eyes and imagine it was Sirius but then he couldn't imagine Sirius's perfume or shampoo smelling like Lily's did, and he never wore makeup. He couldn't imagine Sirius's hand feeling so small and soft.

Suddenly, Lily pulled away and then sat up and pulled her pyjama top off. She wasn't wearing a bra underneath. Lily wasn't skinny and her tits were bigger than most their age. He supposed they were nicely shaped.

"Nice tits?" Remus said.

"Thanks?" Lily said with a cringe, then beckoned Remus over to her with a gesture.

Remus tossed off his tee shirt then came over to Lily and kissed her again. He couldn't believe they were really doing this. Lily fell back and Remus fell with her.

"Do you want to touch me?" Lily said.

"I am touching you," Remus said then looked around at where his hands were touching her sides.

"No. Down there," Lily said and looked down her body.

"Oh! All right," Remus said.

Remus wasn't afraid or disgusted by the idea of vaginas, he just really didn't understand them. He roughly understood how they worked, but he really hadn't put much thought into them.

Remus pulled Lily's pyjama bottoms down quickly along with her knickers, revealing a patch of dark curly red hair and her slit beneath. He took a hand and rubbed her there. Lily made a happy sound and he continued. Was this all there was to it? Well, this was easier than he thought.

Remus rubbed between her thighs and felt pleased with himself. Lily was moaning softly which he certainly took as a good sign.

"Rub my clit," Lily said.

"Isn't that what I'm doing?" Remus said, looking up at her, confused.

"Not really. I mean it feels nice, but you can spread the lips and really get to it," Lily urged.

Remus felt a bit awkward as he used two hands to do just that, revealing her pink flesh underneath. There was a musky smell emanating from there but he didn't think it was bad, necessarily. He privately wondered if his cock had a smell. He then realised that if his head could reach that low he'd probably suck himself off, never minding any blasted smell.

"Where do I touch you?" Remus asked, feeling ridiculous.

"Here," Lily said and reached down to the top point of the folds of flesh that rose in a sort of nub and lightly stroked with a finger.

Remus then placed a finger there as she moved hers out of the way and gently stroked.

"Do that. That feels good," Lily said.

"This is your clitoris? Sort of odd, isn't it?" Remus said.

"Don't be rude, Remus. Pricks look just as ridiculous," Lily said.

"Fair enough," Remus said and continued to stroke her.

"Want to stick a finger in me?" Lily asked.

"I can, if you'd like," Remus said then took his other hand and looked down to where he thought her hole appeared to be.

"Suck on your finger first. Get it wet," Lily said.

Remus then sucked on his index finger and moved it down until he felt her her wet opening. He then pushed it inside, slowly. He was amazed at how wet, soft and warm she felt there and it must've shown on his face as she said, "Find something impressive down there, Remus?"

"You're very wet," Remus said.

"It does that," Lily said, simply.

Remus moved his finger in and out of her. He felt a bit silly but she seemed to be enjoying it. He found trying to rub her clit and finger her vagina at the same time to be a bit more difficult than he expected.

"Maybe, you should trying licking my clit instead," Lily said, apparently noticing the poor coordination between his hands.

Remus again felt nervous but decided to just go with it. He leaned in and stuck his tongue out and licked where Lily had told him to touch her before.

"Hmm. Lower," Lily requested.

Remus licked lower.

"A little lower," Lily said, then he moved again and Lily said, "Yes, there! Now, lap at it slowly… like a dog!"

Remus felt incredibly embarrassed but he supposed he was certainly being a very good friend right now and his prick was still very hard, to his surprise.

Remus lapped at her clit and Lily began to moan so he started licking faster, thinking he was doing a good job while he continued to finger her.

"Not so fast. Damn, you messed it up," Lily said.

"I'm sorry," Remus said, pulling his mouth away.

"Maybe we should just skip this part," Lily said and Remus removed his finger as Lily hopped off the bed.

"Are we done?" Remus said.

"Not unless you want to be," Lily said and reached into her end table and pulled out a small clear bottle and what appeared to be a condom wrapper.

"Just getting out some lube and a condom. My parents gave them to me… just in case, I guess," Lily said with a shrug.

Remus was constantly shocked at how laid back about things like sex her parents were. He supposed there were greater concerns and if your child was going to have sex they should at least be prepared.

"What do you want me to do?" Remus said.

"Lay down," Lily said and Remus laid down, putting his head on a pillow.

Lily then climbed on the bed and grabbed the condom wrapper which she opened. She then pulled Remus's pyjama bottoms down and off his legs. She next pulled off his pants, revealing his stiff cock. Her eyes widened at its appearance, inhaling deeply.

Lily exhaled then took the condom and placed it on the head of his cock and started to roll it down.

"Good thing they showed us this at school," Lily quipped.

The condom felt sort of odd and tight. It didn't exactly fully cover his entire shaft but he supposed it covered the part of his prick that mattered, if he didn't want to get Lily pregnant.

Lily opened the top of the bottle and poured some of the lubricant on his now condom-covered shaft. She closed the bottle and set it aside, then began to rub the lube all over his prick, which felt nice.

She also reached between her legs, presumably to get some of the lube there as well. Lily then climbed up Remus's body. She pushed her sensitive flesh against his shaft and rubbed against it.

"Mmm," Lily said.

Remus couldn't deny it felt good but he was becoming curious what it would feel like to be inside of her. If the things blokes at school said were true, it must be bloody amazing.

Lily reached down and positioned the head of his prick to her entrance. She looked nervous and he suddenly worried he might hurt her. He was glad she was taking control here.

Lily let just the tip of his head slip inside which she then let rest there, looking very serious in the moment. Remus had an unfortunate urge to push inside but thought better of it. He needed to exert some self-control.

After a moment, Lily pushed a tiny bit more of the head inside of her. She made an uncomfortable face and started to rub her clit as she pushed the rest of his head inside.

She then pulled up almost all the way off the head and back down again. The stimulation felt nice and Remus almost thought he might come and was glad he didn't.

Lily continued pulling off and pushing down like that for a minute, Remus's prick only getting slightly deeper each time. Finally, she had managed to push a couple of inches of his shaft inside of her.

Her face began to look less uncomfortable and more excited and determined as she continued to rub her clit and push on and off his prick. What might have been another minute passed and she had managed to get half of his shaft inside of her. He wondered if she could even manage any more.

"Wow, Lils, that's tight," Remus said as she pushed down a little more.

"A bit snug, yeah," she said, then moaned softly.

Lily leaned over more and began to rock her pelvis, letting however much of him she could get inside slide in and out. It did feel pretty good, though Remus wasn't sure it could qualify as a life-changing experience. With how gross blokes could be about treating girls like objects, he wasn't shocked that vaginal sex had been glorified as a religious experience.

"That's nice," Remus said as Lily continued her rocking.

Remus watched as her tits bounced with her, her pale-pink nipples hard and inviting.

"Yeah," Lily said and reached down to rub herself some more.

The friction felt better the more she did it and Remus could feel himself becoming tense, a familiar sense of a buildup that would lead to a powerful release.

"Oh, shit, Lils, I'm gonna come!" Remus said suddenly and felt hot pleasure surge through him as his cock spasmed hard with his orgasm.

"Unnh," Remus moaned, gripping Lily's waist tightly.

Lily started rubbing herself fast and continued to ride his cock even though he had finished.

"Dammit, I'm so close," Lily said.

Remus wasn't sure what to do. He knew his cock was going soft and he felt terrible for finishing so quickly but didn't think there was much he could do.

Finally, Lily closed her eyes and made an intense face.

"Ohhhh, shit!" Lily moaned, as she arched her back and he felt her vagina squeeze his rapidly softening prick as her leg squeezed against him and shook.

Several minutes later, Remus and Lily were lying next to each other in silence. Remus wasn't sure what to say, exactly. He was glad when Lily finally spoke, "I'm sore."

Remus turned to her and cringed.

"I'm sorry," Remus said.

Lily shrugged.

"Still wasn't as bad as I expected, I suppose," Lily said.

"Did we really just do that?" Remus asked.

"Looks like," Lily replied.

"I can't believe I shagged a girl!" Remus said then chuckled.

"I can't believe I shagged my best friend," Lily said, then looked slightly distressed before smiling.

"Oh god," Remus said, then continued with, "I hope this won't be awkward."

"Nah, it won't be awkward. Not if we don't let it," Lily said.

"You're probably right," Remus said.

Another moment passed in silence but this time it was Remus who spoke up: "Does this mean I'm not gay?"

"I don't know. It might just make you human," Lily said.

"I'm not sure what you mean," Remus said.

"Maybe you're not any more attracted to girls than I'm attracted to gay blokes. No offence, mate, but I'm not really attracted to blokes who don't like women," Lily said then nudged Remus with her shoulder, playfully.

"Fair enough," Remus said.

"What is it that attracts you to men?" Lily asked, suddenly.

"Oh… I suppose I've never thought about it. I think it's not any one particular thing. There's something about masculinity that appeals to me. The way men look and carry themselves… it stirs something inside of me," Remus said, then shrugged.

"Interesting. I thinks that's how I feel about people in general. I like good looking people," Lily said.

"I don't think I would've done what we just did with any girl, no matter how pretty she was. But I trust you. I'm not sure I would do it again," Remus said.

"We've got it out of our systems now, I should think," Lily said.

"I certainly hope so," Remus said.

Chapter Text

"Where's Harry?" Remus said.

Sirius shrugged and looked around the sitting room.

"I thought he was with Pete," Sirius replied.

"Pete's gone down to the pub," Remus said.

"The pub? Does he know we're leaving soon?" Sirius said.

Remus jumped as Harry popped out of a box, laughing. He clutched his chest in a small moment of panic before laughing.

"Looks like the lad has discovered the joy of cardboard boxes," Sirius said with a smirk.

"They all do eventually, I suppose," Remus said, shaking his head.

Remus walked over and lifted Harry up out of the box.

"Still, we should keep a better eye on him. I don't suppose Harry would enjoy the drive as much with a trunk view," Remus continued.

Sirius gestured dismissively then grabbed some tape to seal the box. Remus reached over and took the tape from Sirius and shook his head.

"We can get more in this box," Remus said.

"There's nothing left to put in it," Sirius said, kneeling by the box with his arms folded across his chest.

"Of course there is," Remus said and set Harry down then walked over and grabbed a pile of books he had left next to the sofa.

"Oh. I didn't see those. What is that? Umberto Eco? I thought you were getting rid of those?" Sirius said, pulling himself up and walking over to Remus.

Remus pulled the books close to his chest, reflexively. He knew Sirius didn't care for Eco and Sirius knew damn well knew he wasn't getting rid of them.

"You wish," Remus said.

"Yes, I do. Why do you like that pretentious tosh?" Sirius asked.

"He's not for everybody. You just need to have an appreciation for history. And it helps if you don't try and take his work too seriously," Remus said.

Sirius huffed. Remus shot Sirius a glare to which Sirius responded in kind making them both laugh. Remus placed the books in the box then walked over and kissed Sirius softly.

Remus pulled away then said, "You're a prick, Sirius. You do realize that, don't you?"

"That's part of my charm!" Sirius responded with a big smile.

"Quite," Remus said before kissing Sirius again.

"Prick!" a small voice said on the other side of the room.

Remus's eyes widened and he turned away from Sirius to see Harry running back and forth across the room and repeating the offending word in question.

"Look what you've done now!" Sirius said.

Remus made a frustrated groan then walked over and grabbed Harry.

"I suppose we need to start swearing less around Harry now that he's picking up so much," Remus said and sniffed as he realized Harry's diaper needed changing.

"Yes, all this talk of pricks. What will people say?" Sirius said, sarcastically.

"You know what they'll say. Sirius, will you change Harry while I load this box into the Volkswagen?" Remus said and held Harry out.

"I suppose," Sirius said, making a face as he took Harry.

"Oh, don't make that face. It's not my favourite thing either. We should start potty training him once we are settled in Richmond," Remus said.

"Yes, let's do," Sirius said and walked off with Harry in tow.

Remus set the books in the box. There was still more room but it appeared he really wasn't going to get anything else in. It made him feel slightly anxious knowing there was space being left unused but he supposed there was nothing to be done about it and taped it up anyway.

Remus lifted the box with a grunt and headed down to where the car was parked. This was it. They were finally getting out of Manchester.

Sirius entered the pub, feeling furious. Peter sat a table across from Madeleine Yaxley. What the hell did he think he was doing? They were supposed to be driving to Richmond at this very moment. Sirius frowned and watched as the dark-haired girl scowled at Peter then got up and left.

Maddy marched off to the door. She only made a passing glance at Sirius with her cold blue eyes but made sure to bump into him.

Sirius wanted to yell at her and call her names that Remus probably wouldn't approve of but he somehow managed to hold his tongue. Instead, Sirius walked over to Peter, trying his best not to seem as angry as he felt.

"What was that about, Pete?" Sirius asked.

Peter looked regretful then shook his head.

"Had to say goodbye to Maddy, you know. Didn't think it would be right to just… leave without saying something. We were involved for nearly four years," Peter said.

"Fair enough. Are you ready to go?" Sirius asked.

"Yeah. Yeah, I think so. Blimey, we're really going to do it. The three of us in North Yorkshire? I always thought if I left Manchester I'd just be moving back to London," Peter asked.

Sirius shrugged.

"It is hard for me to imagine not living in the city. But Remus thinks it will be good for Harry. And Richmond seemed nice when we were up there last month signing the lease on the house. You never notice the constant background hum of traffic until it's gone," Sirius said.

Peter smiled.

"Did you know that I read that King Arthur is buried there?" Peter said as he stood up to follow Sirius out of the pub.

Sirius smirked, recalling Peter's enthusiasm for Arthurian legend.

"Yes, there and all over the bloody United Kingdom, I'm sure," Sirius said and stepped out of the pub, Peter behind him.

The drive up north hadn't been bad, Remus thought, as they passed over the River Swale and entered Brompton on Swale. Peter and Harry had mostly slept and Sirius spent the trip reading a parenting book. Remus had been worried that two hours with the four of them in one vehicle might get uncomfortable but it wasn't bad.

Traveling by car really wasn't Remus's favourite thing and if he had a choice he wouldn't even own a car but life never seemed to work out that way. When they came up to sign the lease the month before they had taken the train but this time there wasn't much choice but to use the car. They had packed as much as they could in the car and the rest would come up separately in a moving truck in a few days.

Remus wasn't entirely looking forward to the next week. Aside from unpacking and rearranging furniture he would quickly be starting his new job. He had luckily found a job at a clothing shop in the Market that he would be starting on the coming Wednesday.

Sirius was probably about to have a job working at a bookshop near Richmond Castle. Peter promised to look for something as soon as they were settled and was paying his share of the rent from savings but it didn't seem like that would last long. He had shown some vague interest in a hotel job.

Sirius hadn't been able to put aside his pride and beg for money from his mother but his brother, Regulus, had given him a few thousand pounds as a gift. Sirius knew Regs had probably got it from their mother but Remus had suggested it would be best to ignore that.

They were going to be fine for a few months at least but if they wanted to continue to live in Richmond they would have to work hard.

It wasn't even tea time yet when they finally pulled into Richmond. Remus's impression of the town was that it was old, English and very traditional. Remus knew it was really a far too Conservative place for Sirius and himself, but emotionally he was too drawn to the idea of bringing Harry to a place with a connection to his mother. And in a similar, sad way Remus felt like it might make him feel a little closer to Lily himself.

The terraced house they were leasing with Peter was on Cutpurse Lane. Sirius had been very amused by the name, though Remus had frankly found more pleasure in the name of Pottergate on the way up to Cutpurse Lane.

As they pulled up to the house on Cutpurse Lane, Remus spotted what struck him as an odd sort of man standing in the yard of the house directly next to theirs.

Remus's first thought was that he was some sort of hippie, though he wagered his pale blonde hair was only shoulder length and if he were a hippie it would surely be longer. Or perhaps he would more aptly be described as Bohemian.

His clothes were brightly coloured and didn't seem to match in any sort of way. But as they parked he smiled and ran over at them, waving enthusiastically.

"Hello," he shouted as he ran up.

Sirius exited the car first and cautiously shook the man's hand while Remus went around back to get Harry out. Peter appeared to be awake and getting out of the car as well.

"Hello. We're your new neighbours, I believe," Sirius said.

"Excellent. My name is Xenophilius Lovegood," the man said as Remus picked up Harry from his car seat.

"I'm Sirius," Sirius replied.

"These are your mates, I take it? You'll be living here together?" Lovegood said.

"Er… yeah," Sirius said, clearly not knowing if it was OK to mention that he and Remus were a couple yet.

"What did he just say his name is?" Peter asked Remus as he came around the back of the car.

"Xenophilius," Remus whispered.

"What a name," Peter said, making a face.

"Quite," Remus whispered then stepped over to Xenophilius, hand extended, and said, "Hello, I'm Remus."

"Splendid," Lovegood said, shaking Remus's hand.

"Peter," Peter said as he also shook Lovegood's hand.

"Charmed," Lovegood said.

Lovegood smiled at Harry in Remus's arms who laughed and smiled back.

"Well, who have we here?" Lovegood asked.

"'Arry," Harry said.

"Nice to meet you, Harry," Lovegood said.

"Hi!" Harry said and grinned.

"What a charming young man. My wife, oh, here she comes, just gave birth a week ago," Lovegood said.

Walking down the stone path to the curb was a woman with very long, dirty blonde hair and dreamy grey eyes, wearing an orange sundress and a Celtic cross around her neck and cradling an infant in her arms.

"Hello, I'm Pandora" the woman said with friendly nods at everyone.

"Hello, Pandora," Remus said with a nod at her.

"How'd you do?" Peter said.

"Hello," Sirius said.

"Pandora, these are our new neighbours, Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Harry," Lovegood said, with a gesture at each of them in turn.

"It's very nice to meet you," Pandora said, "This is Luna."

The bundle in Pandora's arms was soundly asleep and very tiny. The sight of her made Remus's heart melt.

"Perhaps she'll be friends with your boy… Actually, I'm not sure whose child he is," Lovegood said.

"He's theirs, obviously," Pandora said in a casual, airy sort of way while pointing back and forth between Remus and Sirius.

Remus wasn't sure what she had picked up on between him and Sirius in such a short time but he found he instantly admired this woman for her preternatural astuteness.

"Oh! Well, I assure you that you will find no prejudice from the Lovegood household. We must have you over for tea some time," Lovegood said.

"Yes, that'd be lovely," Pandora said.

"Well, I'll let you get on with your business. Pandora, can you take Luna back inside. Oh, you left the door open, what if one of them gets inside the house?" Lovegood said.

"One of what?" Sirius asked.

"A cat, of course," Lovegood said as Pandora walked back to the house with Luna in tow.

"What do you mean?" Peter asked.

"A big cat," Lovegood said, as if it were the most obvious fact in the universe.

"What, like a lion?" Peter asked.

Lovegood laughed and shook his head.

"No, nothing like that. More like a puma or a panther," Lovegood said.

"You're joking, obviously," Sirius said.

"Oh, no, no. Though they may be rare, there are big cats in Britain," Lovegood said.

"In the zoo perhaps. You can't even have them as a pet," Sirius said.

"Oh, they are out there I assure you," Lovegood said.

"In Richmond?" Sirius said, looking annoyed.

"Let it go, Sirius," Remus whispered then louder said, "It was wonderful to meet you and your lovely family, Mr. Lovegood. We shall have to see about that tea some time."

"Absolutely! Enjoy Richmond!" Lovegood said then walked back up to his house.

"His eyes are a little crossed," Peter said.

"I didn't notice," Remus said.

"I did," Sirius said.

"I thought they seemed nice, the wife especially," Remus said.

"Yes. She certainly seemed nice and bizarrely observant. You must've given me a look, Remus," Sirius said with a wink.

"That was definitely you!" Remus said, with a dismissive hand wave.

"Shall we start taking in boxes?" Peter said, looking eager.

"Yes. Let's!" Remus said and went to unlock the door.

Sirius collapsed on the bed face first and said, "I'm dead."

"I'm heartbroken," Remus said, then Sirius felt Remus lightly stroke the back of his hair.

"Really. I'm going to lay here and drown in my own sweat. Or pass out and have nightmares about boxes," Sirius said.

"Just be glad this place is furnished and we didn't have to bring any of our own up here," Remus said.

Sirius grunted. It was all he could manage.

"Aren't you tired, Remus?" Sirius said and turned his head to the other side of the bed where Remus was casually laying back.

"Yes, though I have been more tired. I'm finding myself… excited. I've spent most of my life in Manchester, you know," Remus said.

"I'm not really sure we fit in here, if I'm being honest. This town is filled with Tories," Sirius said.

"Yes, but if someone like Xenophilius Lovegood can be comfortable here, surely we can too?" Remus said.

Sirius grunted again in reply.

"We'll be fine, Sirius. This will be a good place for Harry. Much better than Manchester, I promise you," Remus said.

Sirius sighed.

"You're probably right," Sirius said then pulled himself up and slid next to Remus.

Remus grasped Sirius's hand and squeezed it, then Sirius looked at Remus and found further assurance in the beauty of his brown eyes. On instinct Sirius leaned over and kissed Remus who softly kissed him back.

Sirius then pulled away and whispered in Remus's ear, "I love you, Remus."

"I love you too, Sirius," Remus said.

"Remus can we just… hold each other tonight. Please?" Sirius said, giving Remus a look he knew Remus couldn't deny.

"Absolutely. After we've both had a shower and put Harry to bed," Remus said.

"Peter can put Harry to bed," Sirius said.

"We mustn't develop the habit of pushing everything off on Peter," Remus said.

"You're probably right," Sirius said.

"Of course I am. Now let's hit the shower," Remus said with a grin.

"Together? But Peter-," Sirius started.

"Isn't going to notice or care if we just take a shower together," Remus said before adding, "Now come along."

"Good morning, Sirius," Remus said as he poured Sirius some tea.

"Morning. How long have you been up?" Sirius asked.

"Hmm. A couple of hours. I woke up feeling excited," Remus said.

"Harry and Peter are both still asleep," Sirius said.

"God knows, I don't expect Peter to be awake before noon," Remus said, then chuckled a little, to which Sirius smiled.

Remus sat down and cautiously sipped at his tea, though it was still very hot.

"Remus… I feel like… I'm not sure why it's just coming to me now, but I seem to remember a cousin or something who lives in Richmond," Sirius said.

"Really?" Remus said.

"Yes. Weasley or something. A second cousin or cousin by marriage. Something like that," Sirius said and stared up at the ceiling as if it would help him remember.

"You should find out. Might be good to have other people we know about town," Remus said.

"Maybe. You've met my family, though. You know what they are like," Sirius said with a look of mild disgust on his face.

Remus frowned and nodded.

"But still. I didn't get the impression these were well-liked relatives. Of course, the very fact I can't recall their names shows that mum never mentioned them," Sirius said.

"You should give Regs a call, see what he can find out," Remus said.

"Yes. I will do that. Weasley. Yes, I'm almost sure of it," Sirius said then nodded with a smile.

Chapter Text

April 10, 1998

Lily passed Remus the joint then blew a plume of smoke from her mouth, leaning her neck back in an arch, a strand of dark red hair falling from her eyes.

Remus took the joint and inhaled deeply, hoping he wouldn't cough like he did the last time. He managed to hold it in for a moment without coughing, before slowly exhaling. He'd never smoked anything in his life before, though he had been curious about marijuana from time to time.

Lily's parents smoked it sometimes and Lily occasionally snuck a little for herself. Lily insisted that they never noticed but he suspected that they had and elected not to say anything. The weed was mixed with tobacco, which frankly distressed Remus more than the marijuana did, but he thought he would be OK, at least this one time.

So far he didn't think he felt any different, at least until he passed the joint back to Lily and he became suddenly aware that something about the way he perceived things was feeling off.

It felt a bit like being ever so slightly disconnected from his perception of himself. It was disconcerting, but at the moment he felt a bit too relaxed to care. He'd been told it was like being drunk, but he'd never been drunk before so he wasn't sure how true that was.

Lily took a puff from the joint and then passed it back to Remus again. Remus waited a second before inhaling more. Lily was looking thoughtful, her eyes unfocused and her thin lips pressed tightly together. Remus knew Lily well enough to know when she was being philosophical and she wasn't good at hiding what was on her mind.

"Remus?" Lily said as he finally inhaled smoke from the joint.

Remus coughed, despite himself, immediately exhaling the smoke, then said, "Yes?"

"Do you believe in God?" Lily said, then turned to him with a curious look on her face.

Lily's lips were quivering and Remus could tell she was trying hard not to laugh. He doubted it was the topic, but rather the pot that was affecting her.

"I'm Catholic," Remus said as he passed the joint back to her.

"Yes, I know that and that's not what I asked," Lily responded, then rolled her eyes and chuckled as she took another puff of the joint.

Remus had really never stopped to consider whether he believed in God in particular. He'd always taken it at face value that there was a God. He remembered being a young lad and begging God to save him when he was kidnapped and locked in a basement with a wolfdog as his only company. Was it God that had saved him, or did the people who called the police save him? Was there even a difference?

"Yes. I think I do," Remus said as Lily handed him back the joint.

"My mum and dad don't really believe, I don't think. Maybe I do, though. Not sure I fancy the one from the Bible much," Lily said and shrugged.

Remus realized that if he smoked much more any attempt at clear thought was going to become futile but he took another quick puff anyway before handing the joint back.

"How can you believe in God but not like the Bible?" Remus asked, feeling genuinely confused.

"I just do. I don't like that idea of God. And why's God always have to be a bloke? Why can't she be a woman?" Lily said, then took a puff of the joint.

Remus took the joint from Lily. There wasn't much of it left now.

"Well… I don't know. The Bible says God is a man," Remus said.

"Who says the Bible is right, though?" Lily asked, her green eyes fixed on Remus, the corner of her mouth raised in a playful smile.

Remus inhaled more smoke from the joint, against his better judgment, then passed it over. Remus suspected he would find it difficult to answer here even if he wasn't high.

"I… don't know," Remus answered, then shrugged and said, "God?" causing Lily to burst into laughter.

"Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous. I really don't know all the answers. I don't think anyone does. I'll admit I've never thought much about it. I think there's a God and that he… or she… whoever or whatever had a hand in the Bible. Perhaps man fucked it up and got the message off a bit, but there's truth in there, I think," Remus said.

"Fair enough. I think the Bible is rubbish. I think God…," Lily started, then took a final puff of the joint before setting it aside and continuing: "I think God is love and it's a part of everything. It's nature and beauty. And I don't think there's any one way of connecting to it. You just have to find your own path."

Lily said this with her arms outstretched dramatically and a huge grin on her face.

"And the Bible isn't your path to God?" Remus said and rubbed his chin.

Lily shook her head and laughed, her arms falling back to the bed with a big thump.

"No, I don't think it is. I'm not sure what is my path but it isn't that. Maybe I can be a witch or a pagan or something. I don't know. Maybe it's OK to just be myself and exist and try to make myself happy. Live a long life and die happy," Lily said.

Remus smiled at Lily. That sounded nice now that she said it. He also couldn't help but wonder about Sirius Black's religious beliefs. He was pretty sure his family were Anglican.

"What's the matter, Remus? You look concerned," Lily said.

"Oh. It's nothing… just wondering something," Remus said.

"About Sirius Black?" Lily asked, then stuck her tongue out at him.

Remus groaned then nodded.

"He's Anglican, I think. He mentioned something about going to church with James and his parents. Just another reason why he'd never be interested. As if his being straight weren't bad enough," Remus admitted.

"Oh, don't you worry, Remus. He'll come around," Lily said then leaned over and gave Remus a peck on the cheek.

"Maybe," Remus said and crossed his arms on his chest, not feeling remotely convinced.

"Are you hungry, Remus? I'm really hungry. Let's go and raid the kitchen," Lily said, then dragged him by the hand off the bed and out of the bedroom.

The Weasleys had a lot of sheep on their farm just outside of Richmond. That was certainly Sirius's first thought as he and Remus drove down the path to their home.

Sirius was still a bit confused over how exactly he was related to them but he supposed it didn't matter. Molly had seemed nice enough over the phone and she had children Harry could potentially play with.

Actually, she and her husband Arthur seemed to have a lot of children, far more than Sirius could keep track of just from a single phone conversation. He did catch that she had twin boys who had just turned four on the first, her eldest son was eleven, and her youngest was a seven month old girl.

After they pulled up to the three-storey farm-house the Weasleys called home, Remus got out of the car to grab Harry, leaving Sirius standing there with a hen casually approaching him. Sirius realised he had never been on a farm before and looking around at all the chicken and sheep made him a little anxious, though he wasn't sure why.

"Adjusting to the livestock, Sirius?" Remus asked playfully.

"Yes. Quite," Sirius replied.

Sirius let out a sigh of relief as the hen turned the other way. He wasn't sure what he was afraid of. It was just a homely country farm. Sirius closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to will his anxiety down.

Just then there was an explosion that made Sirius yelp, flapping his arms in alarm. The explosion was quickly followed by the sound of a man laughing and a woman yelling, "Arthur!"

"What the Dickens was that?" Sirius said, looking around wildly.

A short woman with fiery red hair exited the front door and then ran off to the barn, barely taking any notice of Remus and Sirius.

"Arthur Weasley, what have you done?" the woman, obviously Molly, said as she ran back there.

A tall, red haired man stepped out of the barn with a look of satisfaction on his face.

"I've done it!" the man, presumably Arthur Weasley, said.

"Done what?" Molly demanded.

"Why, I've made gunpowder of course," Arthur stated with pride.

"Gunpowder? What on Earth for?" Molly asked.

"A cannon, of course," Arthur said.

"You don't have a cannon!" Molly said.

"Well, no, but I was reading about mediaeval cannons on this website," Arthur said.

"Website? What website?" Molly said.

"A website on mediaeval arms and battles," Arthur said.

"Arthur, I don't mind coming with you to reenactments, and lord knows the children love it. I don't even mind helping you make your costumes, though I do wish you'd let me use a sewing machine," Molly said.

"No, no. Can't use a sewing machine. Has to be authentic!" Arthur said, gesturing firmly with his hands.

"Yes, I understand that. All I'm saying, dear, is that I draw a line at cannons," Molly said.

"Oh, I could never afford a cannon on what I make working for the County Council, Molly Wobbles," Arthur said.

"Then why are you making gunpowder?" Molly asked, clearly exasperated.

"I'm curious, I suppose. I might get a rifle someday. Anyway, I'd need an explosives certificate if I really wanted to make a lot of gunpowder," Arthur said.

Molly sighed and shook her head.

"I love you, Arthur, but please don't blow up the barn," Molly said.

"Of course not, Mols," Arthur said then leaned over and gave Molly a quick kiss.

At this point the pair seemed to finally notice Remus, Sirius and Harry standing in their drive.

"Oh! Hello!" Arthur said and began walking over with Molly following close behind.

At that moment Harry ran off to examine a sheep, or rather to admire its wool. The sheep for its part merely bleated at Harry then trotted away.

"How do you do? Arthur Weasley," Arthur said and shook their hands.

"I'm Molly," Molly said and also shook their hands.

"I'm Sirius and this is Remus and er… Harry," Sirius said and looked to figure out where the boy had gone.

"I'll fetch him," Remus said and walked off.

"So we're cousins or something, are we?" Arthur asked, looking a bit confused.

"Second cousins, once removed I think," Sirius said.

"Hmm. Interesting. Let's go inside shall we," Arthur said and walked in through the door of the farm house with Molly, Sirius, Remus and Harry following him.

"Welcome to the Burrow!" Molly said as they all stepped inside.

"Burrow?" Remus said.

"Our son Bill calls it that and it sort of stuck," Arthur admitted.

Sirius looked around. He could admire the quaintness of the Burrow. There was a warm, earthiness about it. The bottom floor was one large room, with the sitting room, kitchen and dining room all connected, along with a set of stairs leading up to the next floor.

Molly went over to a crib to check on what was no doubt their youngest child.

"Ginny is sleeping soundly. I can't believe your gunpowder didn't wake her," Molly said quietly.

Arthur frowned, clearly feeling bad.

"So forgive me if I'm intruding but what was it that you do? Mediaeval reenactment?" Remus asked.

Just then two stocky little boys came running down the stairs and out the front door laughing and yelling about who knew what.

"That was Fred and George, our twins, by the way," Molly interjected.

Sirius smiled politely in response then jumped a little when a third, smaller and thinner boy ran down the stairs after them.

"That'd be Ron," Molly added.

"Uh, yes. Well, sort of. Molly and I have been going to reenactments for years and camping out. I've participated a few times, yes, but I've only just begun to really take it seriously," Arthur said.

"By which he means he's convinced me to make his costume," Molly said, and Arthur made a small grimace.

"Any particular battles you're interested in?" Remus said.

"Oh, loads! But mostly I kind of fancy the War of the Roses and also the feud between the House of Neville and the House of Percy," Arthur said.

"Which one are you then?" Sirius said.

"Pardon?" Arthur said.

"Neville or Percy?" Sirius said.

"Oh! Neville for sure!" Arthur said.

"What about me?" a young boy who Sirius hadn't noticed had come down the stairs said.

"No, not you, Perce. The House of Percy," Arthur said.

"What's the House of Percy?" the boy, obviously Percy, asked.

Arthur seemed to stop and think for a moment, possibly trying to decide how to explain it to the boy.

"Powerful noble family from the middle ages. They were rivals of the House of Neville," Remus said.

"Oh," Percy said then went back upstairs.

"That's Percy. I don't think he cares much for the mediaeval reenactments," Arthur said.

On the floor Harry was tugging on the leg of Sirius's trousers.

"Do you want to go outside and play with the other lads, Harry?" Sirius looked down and asked him.

"Yes!" Harry said and then ran out.

"Adorable boy. Harry, you said his name is?" Arthur asked.

"Yes," Remus replied.

"Where's his mother?" Molly asked.

"Passed away, I'm afraid," Sirius said.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry," Molly said and then approached Remus and Sirius before adding, "I'm sorry, which one of you is the father?"

"The father has also passed away," Sirius said, realising he and Remus were going to have go through this indefinitely.

"Which one of you is his guardian then?" Molly asked.

"We both are," Remus said.

To Sirius's immense surprise Molly then embraced them both tightly even though she was much smaller than them both.

"My condolences, you poor dears," Molly said, then released them.

"Why don't you all sit down instead of just standing around? I'll make some tea," Molly said and Arthur, Remus and Sirius all sat down at the dining table.

"So you're sharing guardianship? What's that like?" Arthur asked.

"Not much different than you and Molly raising all of your children, I'd imagine. Though we just have the one," Sirius said.

"Well, yes, but Molly and I are married and live in the same house," Arthur said.

"Well, we can't get married yet but we do live in the same house," Sirius said with a sly smile.

"Oh! You two blokes are together? My apologies, I didn't realise. I've never met a gay couple before. This is very exciting," Arthur said, rubbing his hands together excitedly.

"Don't make them uncomfortable, Arthur. They're not any different from anyone else," Molly said.

Sirius felt an odd sense of comfort. He was used to negative reactions when people found out he was gay.

"Thank you, Molly," Sirius said.

Another pair of boys, red haired just like all the other Weasleys, came downstairs. One boy was short and stocky like Molly and the twins, the other was thinner like Arthur and wore his hair a little long. The stocky boy had a toy dragon clutched in his hand and was pretending it was flying around the room.

"We've got guests," the thinner boy said.

"Bill, Charlie, this is Mr. Black and Mr. Lupin," Molly said, gesturing at them all in turn.

Sirius was impressed that she had remembered their surnames.

"Hello," Bill said then smiled and nodded at them both before walking outside to join the other boys.

The other boy seemed too absorbed in his toy dragon but did shout a quick, "Hello!" before running outside.

"So what's it like then?" Arthur asked.

"What's what like?" Sirius said.

"Being gay," Arthur said.

"Arthur, stop!" Molly said before setting a tea-pot on the table, followed by cups for everyone.

"Sorry," Arthur said.

For a moment everyone just sat quietly and enjoyed their tea. Finally, Molly spoke up: "So it's just the two of you and Harry living in a house together?"

"No, our friend Peter is living with us until he gets back on his feet," Remus said.

"Oh, how nice of you to help a friend," Molly said.

"It's what Harry's parents would've wanted," Remus said, and Sirius nodded in agreement.

Sirius could feel himself becoming anxious and wanting to leave but he took a deep breath and tried not to focus on it. His anxiety had been on the rise ever since James and Lily died and so far living in Richmond wasn't relieving it.

"Do you have a church? We attend Richmond Methodist Church. You'd be welcome to join us, Sunday," Molly said.

Sirius froze up. He wasn't really sure what to say. His family attended church and he had attended with James a few times but he wasn't really religious himself, in fact he was fairly certain he was an atheist.

Sirius glanced at Remus who hadn't said anything yet and looked uncomfortable. Remus was Catholic but hadn't attended Mass in ages.

"I'm sorry if that was too personal," Molly said with regret.

"No, it's not that. I'm Catholic, actually, and Sirius's family are Protestants," Remus said.

Sirius noticed he declined to actually mention Sirius's own lack of religious inclinations.

Just then a baby's cry came from the crib in the sitting room and Molly got up from the table and went over to her.

"Are you hungry, Ginny dear," Molly said and picked the baby up and carried her over to the table.

Molly then sat down and opened her blouse and put Ginny to her breast. Seeing Molly breastfeeding made Sirius sad with the memory of Lily feeding Harry.

"So one of you is Catholic and the other is Protestant. Must be hard, then," Arthur said.

"Not really. It never comes up," Remus said.

"So which is the boy going to be?" Molly asked.

"Well, that's the thing. We hadn't really discussed how we were going to handle religion with Harry," Remus replied.

"Well, he's got to have some beliefs, hasn't he?" Molly said.

"I suppose. We're just not sure what those should be," Remus said.

"What were his parents? That'd be a good place to start," Arthur said.

"James was Anglican. Lily was… I'm not really sure. Sort of Pagan I suppose. Very into nature," Remus said.

"Sounds like that's two votes for Protestant," Molly said, smiling down at Ginny.

"Perhaps," Remus said.

Sirius was trying to stay out of it. He'd just as soon let Harry decide for himself once he was old enough. Truth was, Sirius really didn't know much or care much about religion but he didn't see that the church had much love for people like himself and Remus.

"Well, whatever you decide you're still welcome to come to church with us. The people there are lovely," Molly said.

"Cheers. We'll certainly consider it," Remus said.

Remus and Sirius sat and chatted with Molly and Arthur for a while longer, mostly discussing their jobs and all the various personality quirks of Molly and Arthur's children.

Eventually, to Sirius's great relief, Remus suggested it was getting late and that they should take Harry home for a nap. Sirius was glad that Harry had got to play with some other children for once.

That evening with Harry napping and Peter out doing who knows what, Sirius decided to see how Remus felt about that whole religion question while they were resting on the sofa, Remus laying his head in Sirius's lap.

"So what do you think about Molly and Arthur's offer to attend their church?" Sirius asked.

"I don't know. I'm not really sure what the right decision is here. There is at least one Catholic church I've seen here. I could take Harry there. But, frankly, I'm not even sure how I feel about Catholicism anymore," Remus admitted.

"Not feeling like a Catholic anymore?" Sirius asked.

"Hmm. I suppose I'll always be a Catholic. I don't think it's something you just shake off. But I'm not sure what I really believe anymore," Remus said.

"What do you believe then?" Sirius said.

"I'm not sure. Been thinking about things Lily once said about God and the world and nature and how everything is connected," Remus said.

"Isn't Pandora a Pagan? You could talk to her. Maybe that's more your speed," Sirius said, trying his best to be supportive despite his general apathy towards religion.

"I might. Maybe I will. I'll think about it," Remus said and shortly thereafter fell asleep in Sirius's lap.

The following week Remus went to visit Pandora after work one day. Xenophilius was out so it was just Pandora there alone with tiny infant Luna.

"Hello, Remus," Pandora said as she opened the door, gesturing him inside.

"Hello, Pandora," Remus said then added, "I hope I'm not intruding."

"Oh, no. It's no problem," she said.

"Pandora, this may seem odd but I was wondering… are you a Pagan?" Remus asked.

"Yes," Pandora said and a hand drifted to the Celtic cross around her neck.

"What can you tell me about it?" Remus said.

"What would you like to know?" Pandora asked, her voice light and airy.

"What it is you believe, I suppose," Remus replied.

"There isn't any one way to be a Pagan. There are lots of different traditions. I believe in being respectful to nature and living in harmony with it. I also follow the Wheel of the Year," Pandora said.

"The Wheel of the Year?" Remus said.

"Yes. It's a cycle of festivals, traditions that pre-date Christianity. Based around the sun and harvests. Beltane is coming soon," Pandora said.

"Oh, I've heard of Beltane. First of May, isn't it?" Remus said.

"Yes," Pandora said and smiled.

"I'm sort of fascinated by Paganism and have been questioning my own religious beliefs. I was raised Catholic but I'm not sure it really suits me anymore. And there's a pending question of what faith we should raise Harry in," Remus said.

"Don't care much for the God of the bible. Pagans believe in many different Goddesses, that is, if you believe in the supernatural at all. Not all Pagans do," Pandora said.

"Do you?" Remus asked.

"Yes. My Goddess is Brigid," Pandora said.

Remus smiled. He wanted to sit down and discuss this forever with Pandora but he knew he had other things to attend to.

"There's so much I want to ask but I haven't the time. I need to relieve Peter from watching Harry," Remus said.

"Stay here. Let me get you something," Pandora said then walked over to the bookshelf and grabbed a couple of books.

"Take these. One is a book on Paganism in Britain and the other is on Pagan festivals. There's more if you like in the future but this should be a good start," Pandora said, handing them to Remus who took them with enthusiasm.

Remus said goodbye and quickly dashed home. That night after Harry was in bed and with Sirius asleep beside him, Remus read and became very excited about Paganism. He wished he could show the books to Lily. He knew she would've loved to learn about this too.

Remus wasn't sure what the best way to approach religion with Harry was but he knew that at the very least he should be presented with traditions that he knew Lily would've wanted him to be exposed to.

Remus realised it was probably important not to force the boy into anything in particular. Let him find his own path, Lily's voice whispered in a distant echo in his mind. Yes, he would let him find his own path or no path at all if that was what the boy wanted.

Chapter Text

June 21, 2001

"I'm in love," James said.

James stated this in a plain sort of way, like he had just discovered he was favourable to pasta or piano concertos.

"Well, yeah, obviously," Sirius said as he buttoned up his shirt.

Sirius had spent one last night at James's parents's house upon request. Soon he and James would both be living with their partners and finding time for just the two of them might become more difficult. It had been a good year living here with James, though. On the other hand, Sirius was eighteen now and no longer had to fear his parents. Not that it seemed like they cared. They had never even tried to find him as far as he could tell.

"Obviously? What do you mean?" James asked

Sirius stared at James with confusion. Surely, he was taking the piss. He had been dating Evans for two years. James had spent a lot of time over the last three years babbling endlessly about perfect Lily Evans.

"James, you may be the only person in the universe who was not aware at this very moment that you are in love," Sirius said.

"But, you don't understand! It's like… it's everything, Sirius! It's like I'm being engulfed in a pyre of devotion!" James said then clasped a hand to his heart.

"Bit melodramatic, Potter," Sirius said with a cringe.

"It's how I feel!" James said.

"You don't see me prattling on about Remus like that," Sirius said, feeling superior as he laced up his shoes.

James scoffed. Sirius looked over at him and tilted his head, expecting an explanation.

"I've heard plenty of shite from you. And don't think I haven't read all that poetry you posted on your website," James said.

"You read my poetry!" Sirius said.

"Well, you did email me and ask me to check your website out," James said.

"I didn't think you'd actually read my bloody poetry!" Sirius said, his face hot with embarrassment.

"I'm sorry, mate. It's just… I care about the things you do. I was interested. And anyway, I thought they were lovely. Much better than the rubbish I wrote Lily," James said with a frown.

Sirius stood up from the bed.

"You wrote Lily poetry?" Sirius said.

James cringed and nodded.

"Did she like it?" Sirius asked.

"She said she did, yeah," James answered.

Sirius smiled and walked over to James and then embraced him tightly.

"Here I am taking the piss when I should just be happy for you," Sirius said.

"You're such a prick, Sirius. It's one of the things I like best about you," James said and squeezed back.

"OK. Let's go to Remus's new place," Sirius said, letting go.

"Your new place too," James said, elbowing Sirius.

Sirius pulled away and smiled. He supposed James was right.

"And hey… Happy birthday, mate," James said and they left the room.

A short while later they arrived at Remus's new flat, the one they would now share together. James's parents owned the building so it wasn't hard to get him the place for a reasonable price.

Lily was already there helping Remus to set things up. As they entered she shouted, "Hello lads! Happy birthday, Sirius," then ran over and gave Sirius a hug while she leaned over and kissed James.

Remus smiled at Sirius then went into the kitchen, where he appeared to be making tea.

Shortly, they were gathered around the table for tea.

"Where's Pete?" Sirius wondered.

"Helping his mum, probably," Remus said.

James scoffed.

"What?" Remus said.

"You don't really believe that, do ya mate?" James said.

"You think Pete's lying, do you?" Sirius asked, leaning forward.

"What I think doesn't really matter. But I have my suspicions. I mean he's always been going on about his mum, right? But the last few months the amount we've been seeing him is half what it used to be. Now, there's one thing that I think might keep Pete busy like that," James said, pushing his glasses up his nose with a smirk.

"Oh, you think he's found a nice piece of arse to chase around," Sirius said.

"I do, in fact. Pete's found a lady friend and wants to keep her all to himself," James said.

"That's a shame, really. It'd be nice to have another girl about," Lily said.

"Who do you suppose it is? Have you talked to Dorcas Meadowes lately?" Remus asked Lily, but they were interrupted by a knock at the door.

"Speak of the ruddy devil," James said and got up to answer the door.

"Hello," Peter said.

Sirius looked at Peter. He was dressed nicer than he normally did. And there had been something in his step as of late. Perhaps James was right. But if so, why was Pete afraid to say anything?

"Come sit, Peter," Remus said, gesturing at the empty chair at the table.

"Oh, cheers. Happy birthday, Sirius," Peter said then sat down.

"Where've been mate? We miss you," James said.

"Oh, you know mum. Actually, I can't stay too long. Mum's been especially unwell," Peter said.

Sirius frowned. He was tempted to press Pete on the matter but decided to let it go for now. Hopefully, Peter would reveal this mystery woman eventually. Peter only stayed for about an hour before leaving. A short while after that the rest of them had some wine. Well, Lily smoked pot. Remus put on some Pink Floyd to set the mood… or his mood at the very least.

"Dark Side of the Moon is good but it's overrated," Remus said, responding to a question from Lily about which album was the best.

"How can you say that?" Lily asked, almost looking appalled and playfully slapping Remus on the shoulder, before puffing on her joint.

"Don't get me wrong," Remus said then took a sip of his Merlot and continued, "I love Dark Side. But Wish You Were Here* is by far their strongest work."

"I like The Wall," James said with a shy smile.

"Of course you do," Remus said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

"Is there something wrong with The Wall?" James asked.

"No, of course not. Just not my favourite," Remus said.

"I kind of fancy The Division Bell. I mean it's no Dark Side but it's pretty bloody good," Lily said.

"I've never heard that," James confessed.

Sirius felt a bit lost. Remus had played him a lot of Pink Floyd but he really couldn't put which songs belonged on which particular albums. If he was being honest he thought it all sort of sounded the same, though not in a bad way.

"It's definitely underrated," Remus said.

"I like the one with the pig floating over Battersea!" Sirius interjected.

He quickly wished he hadn't said anything and realised that he was possibly a little tipsy and maybe even a little high.

"Animals? I've had trouble enjoying it. I mean, I like the idea of it but it's less dynamic than their other albums," Remus said with a shrug.

As discussion of Pink Floyd carried on, Sirius decided to make some tea. They appeared to have finished off the wine and Lily had finished her joint. When he came back with the tea they were discussing perhaps playing a game but Sirius was feeling a bit tired and he was looking forward to trying out Remus's new bed.

"James and Lily are going to stay here tonight, Sirius," Remus informed Sirius after finishing his tea.

"That's fine," Sirius said.

"Also, I'm going to run to a shop. I've realised some things I need," Remus said.

"Oh, I'll come too," Lily said and hopped up from her chair.

Moments later Sirius was left with James who was sipping the last of his tea.

"I love this. Everything is changing but I love that we can still have this time together. I hope that never changes, Sirius. I want all of us, even Pete, to keep getting together no matter where our lives take us or how old we get," James said.

Sirius smiled and nodded.

"Me too, mate," Sirius said then patted James on the shoulder.

Sirius then leaned over and said quietly, "Listen, James, I was kind of hoping to have some time alone with Remus tonight."

James nodded with apparent understanding.

"Yeah, I get that… I'm not sure Lily will be as understanding," James said.

Sirius groaned.

"I just… Remus and I… we haven't… you know, in awhile. It hasn't been easy finding the space while living with your parents. They're always home," Sirius said and cringed.

"So what, mate? Go ahead and have a go of it. You think I wouldn't fool around with Lily just because you were in the house? We're all adults here," James said and shrugged.

Sirius suddenly lost the ability to keep his mouth closed. Whatever face he was making inspired James to laugh.

"Do you really want to hear me and Remus shagging?" Sirius asked, feeling bewildered.

"Not really, but I can't say I care. But as you've observed, my parents are always home and ever since her dad died last year, Lily's mum has been home a lot more so it's not been easy for us either. I'd rather risk having you hear us shag than any of them. I just figure we could all agree, as adults, to ignore it for a night. Then everyone wins, mate," James said and winked.

"Everyone wins? What makes you think Lily would even approve of this? Do you really think she wants to listen to her best mate shagging?" Sirius asked and crossed his arms defiantly.

"This was her idea," James said.

"Her idea?" Sirius said, his voice coming out louder than he intended.

"Relax, mate! Yes, it was her idea. She said she knew Remus wouldn't care. I mean after what happened with them I suppose he wouldn't be that shy," James said with a knowing grin.

"What happened with them? What the devil are you talking about?" Sirius said.

"You can't tell me Remus has never told you?" James said, looking confused.

"Told me what?" Sirius asked, feeling irritated.

"They shagged," James said.

Sirius laughed.

"Come off it. There's no bloody way Remus shagged a girl. He's gay, trust me," Sirius said.

"I don't think Lily would lie about something like that," James said.

Sirius knew James was right. Lily never seemed to lie or even exaggerate the truth. She was honest through and through. Sirius felt sad.

"I knew he had been with someone else before me but I always it had been a bloke. It was Lily. I can't believe it. I'm such a fool," Sirius said.

"Does it matter? I suppose it was a bit odd finding out my girlfriend had shagged one of my best mates but I got over it. And Lily was with Dorcas too. It's no threat to our relationship now," James said.

"It's different," Sirius said.

"How?" James said.

"It… it just is," Sirius said, unable to find an answer.

He felt enraged and he wasn't even sure why. Was Remus even gay? Was he bi? What if he wasn't even bi? What if he was straight? Was their entire relationship a lie? A million thoughts swirled through his mind, most of which probably made no sense. Then the front door opened and Remus and Lily came inside with some bags which they took into the kitchen.

Sirius said nothing while they put things away. He did take a moment to whisper to James that he and Lily could do whatever they wanted. He no longer cared. He just needed to talk to Remus.

After finally saying good night to James and Lily, Remus and Sirius went to bed. Lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, Sirius felt so angry and confused. He was trying to hold himself together before he ruined everything.

"Did you shag Lily?" Sirius asked, turning to look at Remus and trying to keep a level tone.

"Yes. A couple of years ago. On my sixteenth birthday," Remus said.

He said it so casually like it wasn't a big deal.

"You mean just months before we got together?" Sirius said.

"I suppose so. It wasn't really any sort of plan. It just sort of happened. Never felt like a big deal," Remus said.

"You didn't think having fucked a girl, one that is also our mutual friend, is a big deal? Remus, you're gay!" Sirius said.

"Yes, I am. And having sex with her didn't change that," Remus said.

Sirius made a disgusted face.

"I couldn't imagine doing… that. I don't think I could even get hard," Sirius said.

Remus shrugged.

"It felt nice but it wasn't like it is with you," Remus said and rolled over to face Sirius.

Remus placed a hand on Sirius's bare chest and rubbed. Sirius did not stop him.

"With Lily it was just nice to be touched but I never really… desired her. With you," Remus said, then trailed his hand down Sirius's torso and continued, "I want you, wholly. I need you. I want the full experience."

Sirius was trying to hold onto his anger but with his prick stiffening in his pyjamas it was difficult. He realised he could faintly hear sounds from the sitting room of James and Lily no doubt mid-coitus and decided he really didn't care right now.

Remus's hand traced around the bulge between Sirius's legs. Remus had a playful look about him. Sirius then glanced between Remus's legs and saw the large, familiar bulge that lay there.

Sirius leaned over and kissed Remus hard. If Remus wanted him he would give himself to Remus and he would make sure he never forgot it.

Sirius slid a hand quickly into Remus's pyjamas and began to stroke Remus's long, thick shaft. Remus pulled his mouth from Sirius's and gasped into his ear.

Sirius then scooted down Remus's body and swiftly pulled down his pyjamas and pants in one hard move. Sirius gripped Remus's prick with two hands and slowly stroked the shaft.

"Sirius. Oh!" Remus said.

"Tell me to put it in my mouth. Tell me how bad you want to come in my mouth," Sirius said.

Sirius liked it when Remus was forceful and domineering. He was looking forward to exploring this more now that they would have a flat to themselves.

"Do it. Suck my fucking cock," Remus growled, clearly knowing exact what excited Sirius.

Sirius put the head of Remus's prick to his mouth and slowly sucked down the shaft as deep as he could take it without gagging, his hands working the base. Sirius then slowly dragged his lips back up to the ridge of the head where he slid his tongue down to lick the tip before sucking the head in one big slurp. Sirius had got much better at this since they first started. Learning how to properly suck Remus's huge willy was not easy.

Remus made a loud groan in pleasure and his body jerked. Sirius repeated the process, each time a little faster. In the other room, Sirius could definitely hear James and Lily. He thought they wanted to be heard and he was glad that Remus wasn't holding much back.

"Fuck, Sirius. That feels so good," Remus said.

Sirius beamed with pride and kept sucking, longing for the taste of Remus's spunk on his tongue. He wanted Remus's desire to fill his mouth and he wanted to swallow every drop.

"Shit, Sirius. I'm so close," Remus said and Sirius felt Remus's hand rubbing the back of his head, lightly pulling at his hair.

Sirius sucked hard and secretly wished Remus would really force him to suck his cock.

"Oh, oh, oh, fuucckk," Remus squealed and Sirius felt his hot come explode into his mouth.

Sirius loved how Remus tasted and he moaned with happiness as Remus's come continued to fill his mouth and shoot down his throat.

"Oh, Sirius, I love you. You're incredible," Remus groaned with pleasure.

Sirius continued to suck Remus's prick until it was nearly halfway soft again. When he was finally done he pulled his mouth away and grinned at Remus, no longer caring about what had happened between Remus and Lily or the still ongoing and much louder than before sounds of James and Lily shagging in the other room.

"Sirius, I want you to come on me," Remus said.

"What do you mean?" Sirius said.

"Pull out your cock and wank yourself until you come on me. Onto my stomach if you want," Remus said, gesturing at his torso.

Sirius wasted no time and pulled his pyjama bottoms down and began frantically stroking himself while Remus looked on in joy, biting his lips His bollocks ached and he really wanted to come. Knowing how bad Remus wanted to watch him come just turned him on more.

It didn't take long: Sirius felt the tension release as pleasure burned through him and his prick shot thick puddles of hot spunk onto Remus's lower stomach and his prick, which was already hard again.

To Sirius's surprise, Remus then grabbed his prick and began stroking it with Sirius's come all over his hand. Sirius had never seen Remus stroke so hard and intensely, especially after having already come.

"Ohhh, shit," Remus said and his body jerked as his cock convulsed and sent more come onto his stomach, mixing with Sirius's.

"Wow," Sirius said.

"Yeah. Wow," Remus said then laughed and added, "Happy birthday."

"I'm sorry, Remus," Sirius said and climbed up to Remus's mouth and kissed him tenderly.

"I forgive you. I'm sorry I never told you. I mean… it wasn't your business, but I think it would've made things easier. I guess I was afraid of your reaction," Remus said.

"Justifiably so, it appears. No, it wasn't any of my business, but thanks anyway," Sirius said and fell next to Remus on his side.

Sirius sighed in comfort. How could he have doubted Remus, even for a second?

Remus sat on the porch and watched as Sirius tossed a ball to Harry who caught it, to Remus's surprise. Peter was seated next to him and smiling. It was Harry's second birthday and the four of them were going out on the town. Though they'd been here four months they really hadn't had a chance to take Harry around properly.

Sirius had been very insistent that he take Harry outside to toss a ball around but had been unusually cagey about why. He supposed it didn't matter but Remus was curious, if only because it was an oddly specific request and one he'd never made before.

The plan was for the four of them to walk to the market where they were going to meet up with Arthur Weasley who was bringing Ron along for Harry's birthday after church. Ron was Harry's age and they seemed to get along well.

After the market they were going to Richmond Castle and then Culloden Tower. Remus wasn't sure Harry would appreciate the history of these places just yet and he would have plenty of time to see them when he was older but getting him out and around his mum's hometown seemed a decent way to spend his birthday.

"Good morning," a pleasant female voice said.

Remus glanced next door and saw Pandora Lovegood wearing a bright green bath-robe and grabbing the paper and waving.

"Morning, Pandora," Remus replied.

"You're out early," Pandora observed.

"It's Harry's birthday," Remus said with a smile.

"Is it? How lovely," Pandora said as she walked back inside her home.

Remus had spent a lot of time reading Pandora's books on Paganism over the last few months and had found it very relevant to his own feelings about the world and nature. He still wasn't sure what he believed but he felt like there was some sort of truth in it.

"Dog!" Harry yelled suddenly, startling Remus out of his thoughts.

A neighbour from down the road had a border collie on a leash and was walking past their house.

"Good day, Mrs. Longbottom," Peter called down.

Augusta Longbottom merely turned and nodded, never being one for a chat. Augusta was caring for a grandchild that was Harry's age and Remus hoped they would provide another potential friend.

"Doggy!" Harry yelled again, and ran over and tugged at Remus's trousers.

"Remus, didn't you say something about her caring for a grandchild?" Sirius asked.

"Yes, Harry," Remus said and ruffled the boy's hair before looking over to Sirius and nodding then saying, "Her son and his wife had some sort of accident and had to be hospitalised. Sounded really dreadful."

Sirius grimaced.

"I want a dog!" Harry yelled, seeming antsy.

"Seems the lad wants a dog," Sirius said and scooped Harry up in his arms.

Remus scoffed.

"I'd just as soon put a collar on you again," Remus said.

Sirius gave him a sly grin and chuckled. It had been some time since they'd played those sorts of games. Remus felt nostalgic remembering their early experimentation.

"Don't make me hold you to that," Sirius said.

"Don't be silly, Sirius. I'd be the one holding you," Remus said, then winked before walking over and giving Sirius a tender kiss, Harry squeezed between them.

It struck Remus that making sexual innuendo around Harry was slightly inappropriate but Harry still seemed distracted by the border collie. Peter on the other hand looked scandalised and was covering his ears.

"Tell me when it's over, lads," Peter said.

"How will you know if you have your ears covered, Pete?" Sirius asked.

Peter sighed and removed his hands.

"Fair point. Wasn't working anyway," Peter said then added, "Actually, I think I'm going to go ahead and head to the market. Have an errand to run. I'll see you lads in a few."

Remus waved at Pete as he walked away then looked at Harry again.

"Hmm. It is his birthday after all," Remus said.

"Are you actually thinking about getting him a dog?" Sirius asked.

"Yes! I want a dog!" Harry screeched.

Harry's green eyes, so very much like Lily's, stared into Remus's, pleading him to say yes.

"Yes. Yes, I am," Remus said.

"Today?" Sirius asked.

Remus sighed then shook his head.

"We have plans already. I'll have to check online tonight and see what's around aside from the Border Collie Rescue in the market," Remus said.

"Is it time to head to the market yet?" Sirius asked, setting Harry back down.

Remus glanced at his watch and nodded.

"A bit early but I suppose we can always stroll about the market. And Pete is already there, anyway. I'll lock up," Remus said and went to the front door to lock it.

"Were you serious about the other thing?" Sirius called up at him.

"What other thing?" Remus said as he fumbled with the lock.

"The collar," Sirius said a little quieter.

"It has been a while. We'll talk later, perhaps," Remus said and joined up with Sirius and Harry at the road.

As they walked down the road Remus held Sirius's hand as Harry ran ahead of them. Remus sometimes saw people giving them funny looks. He had elected not to care. Today he was with his boyfriend and their son on his birthday and nothing else mattered.

Remus flinched a little. He had just thought of Harry as their son. That was ridiculous, wasn't it? Harry was James and Lily's son, wasn't he? But they had left him in their care. They were Uncle Remus and Uncle Sirius after all. But was there any question that they were Harry's parents now?

When Remus looked at the boy he felt an overwhelming sense of love and devotion. He knew there was nothing he wouldn't do for the boy. But how much of that was love for James and Lily?

"Something bothering you, Remus?" Sirius asked.

Remus grunted in response.

"I don't know. I was just wondering something," Remus replied.

"Well? Spit it out," Sirius said and squeezed Remus's hand a little.

Remus sighed and said, "Is Harry our son?"

Sirius turned to Remus and smiled.

"We are his parents," Sirius answered.

"I'm not disputing that. But is he… ours?" Remus said.

"Does it matter? I certainly didn't give birth to him and neither did you," Sirius said.

"No, I've never got you pregnant, despite my best efforts," Remus said then laughed before adding, "But that's still not what I meant. Loads of people adopt children from people who are still living and call them their children. No one doubts the children are theirs. Why do I doubt that Harry is our son even though his parents are dead and deliberately chose us to care for him in their stead?"

Sirius looked somewhat grim then said, "Because they are dead and because you knew and loved them."

Remus immediately knew Sirius was right.

"And if I say he's our son it's a reminder," Remus started.

"That they aren't coming back," Sirius finished.

"But they aren't, are they?" Remus said.

"They have no need to come back because they've never left," Sirius said and reached over and placed a hand over Remus's heart.

Remus smiled and said, "Of course," and they continued their way to the market.

The rest of Harry's birthday went well. He had tried to explain to Harry the history of Richmond Castle and Culloden Tower but the explanations were just as poorly received as he feared they might be.

But Harry always enjoyed spending time with his new friend, Ron. Arthur had mostly dropped his awkward questions about being them gay, but never relented in rambling about his historical reenactment passion.

Remus had to admit he was a tiny bit interested in tagging along for an event some day but he didn't dare mention it lest he get Arthur too excited. Arthur expressed regret that they hadn't joined him and Molly for church.

Remus and Sirius had agreed after a lot of discussion that Harry should experience religion for himself once he was older. They couldn't completely keep him from being exposed to religion but at the very least they wouldn't be doing anything deliberately to indoctrinate him, despite Remus's growing personal interest in Paganism.

They felt comfortable in believing that Lily and James would've approved or at the very least understood their reasoning.

That night Remus looked at ads online for dogs on his laptop computer. Remus had thought Harry might get over it but he had continued to get excited and shout about any dog he saw all day long.

"That one!" Sirius said, suddenly pointing at the big, black dog on the screen.

"It looks monstrous… but sort of cuddly," Remus admitted.

"Exactly. It's perfect!" Sirius said.

"This dog is for Harry isn't it?" Remus said, raising an eyebrow at Sirius.

Sirius had never wanted to own a pet in all the years since his beloved cat, Perseus, passed away.

"Yes, of course. Harry!" Sirius said with a dismissive wave.

Remus looked over the ad. He was a Newfoundland dog and he wasn't going to be cheap. But he thought it would be all right to have one more addition to their family. He committed himself to calling about the dog in the morning.

For the time being he shut his laptop and set it aside before properly getting himself under the covers and turning off the light. After a day of walking about town he was thoroughly knackered.

Despite that, he had trouble getting to sleep and found himself wondering if they had done right by Harry today.

"Are you awake?" Remus asked Sirius, quietly.

"Yes," Sirius answered, sounding surprisingly alert.

"I'm just wondering if this was a good birthday for Harry. Should we have done something different? Thrown him a party. I bet James and Lily would've thrown him a party," Remus said.

"Probably. But we aren't them. Harry had a good time. He's two anyhow. I can't remember my second birthday, can you?" Sirius asked.

"Yes. I can remember all my birthdays," Remus said.

"Well you've had some interesting ones, to be fair," Sirius said.

Remus chuckled. That was hilariously and somewhat tragically true.

"A few of them standout. That bloody fight we had on your eighteenth birthday," Remus said.

Sirius laughed.

"That fight worked out pretty well from what I recall," Sirius said then rolled over and embraced Remus from behind.

"I suppose it did," Remus said, but he then remembered what they had been fighting about and felt a twinge of pain, even as Sirius was kissing the back of his neck.

"I wasn't joking about the collar, Remus," Sirius said.

"I know you weren't. I wasn't either," Remus said.

Sirius was clearly trying to initiate sex but Remus wasn't feeling up to it just now on account of old memories that were flooding in.

"Not now," Remus said and Sirius immediately stopped what he was doing.

"All right. Sorry," Sirius said, kissed the back of Remus's head then rolled over.

"It's fine. Just remembering some things I hadn't thought of in awhile," Remus said.

Some birthdays had been strange indeed.

"Padfoot," Sirius said, feeling proud of himself.

"Padfoot," Remus echoed.

Currently, the dog was lying in the middle of sitting room floor, Harry lying next to it. They had bonded almost immediately.

"Do you like it?" Sirius said.

"Yes. Padfoot it is," Remus replied.

"Excellent," Sirius said.

The dog had cost an amount that had nearly caused Sirius physical pain when Remus had paid it. But they agreed he would be worth it in the long term.

"I hope Xeno doesn't see him and panic," Sirius said.

"I think it's only big cats he's worried about," Remus said.

"Ah," Sirius replied.

Remus walked over to the dog and Harry and sat down. Sirius sat on the sofa next to them.

Remus pet the dog on his back and said, "You know something about this dog, reminds me of you. It's hard to explain. And I don't just mean because I think you both look great with a collar on."

"We're both very cuddly," Sirius said with a grin.

"I suppose. I was always surprised you liked cats so much to be honest. You feel more like a dog person," Remus said.

"I do like cats. But I think I relate more to dogs," Sirius said.

"Which part? Tearing up newspapers? Barking at strange passersby?" Remus asked.

"Very funny," Sirius said.

"I suppose you can be loyal and obedient… well, more loyal than obedient if we're being honest," Remus said then winked at Sirius.

"Fair," Sirius said then added, "At least I don't go around humping legs."

Remus laughed.

"I feel comfortable in saying that you've humped mine a few times," Remus said.

"Fucking hell," Peter called out from the kitchen.

"Oh, come off it, mate. It's not like you haven't seen us snogging and fooling about before," Sirius said.

"Sorry, Pete. Forgot you were there again," Remus said.

Peter walked over and leaned over the back of the sofa.

"Happens a lot doesn't it? Am I so easy to forget?" Peter asked.

"Of course not," Remus said.

"Come sit down, Pete. Get to know Padfoot," Sirius said.

"Padfoot?" Peter said as he came around and sat next to Sirius.

"Do you like it?" Sirius asked.

"Sure," Peter said with a smile.

Somehow with Remus, Harry, Peter and Padfoot all gathered together Sirius really felt something special. This was their household and their family. Sure, Peter was their friend but he was just as much their family as Harry was or as James and Lily had been.

Sirius didn't like the family he had been born into. He liked the idea of a family you could choose and this was the family he had chosen all around him and he couldn't be happier about it.

Chapter Text

January 15, 2003

"James proposed!" Lily said, standing in Remus's doorway, a big smile on her face, her hand projected forward displaying the new presence of a ring.

"But you're pregnant," Remus said.

"What's that got to do with anything?" Lily said, crinkling her nose.

"Well… I don't know," Remus admitted and gestured Lily inside before adding, "It just seems sort of backwards."

"Sod that. Loads of people get married pregnant," Lily said and walked over to Remus's dining table and sat down, taking off her dark green jacket and placing it on the back of the chair.

"I suppose you're right," Remus said and sat down across from her.

"I usually am," Lily said and laughed.

"So, James actually proposed. Frankly, I'm surprised it took him this long," Remus said.

"What do you mean? We're both nineteen for fuck's sake," Lily said.

"Almost twenty," Remus said, acknowledging her coming birthday.

Lily waved a hand dismissively. Remus frowned and sighed.

"I thought you were happy," Remus said.

Lily shrugged.

"I am and I'm not. I don't know. I was thrilled in the moment but the more I think about it… We're so young," Lily said.

"Old enough to have a baby," Remus observed.

"Different sort of commitment, Remus. I'm happy about the baby and I'm happy about the engagement," Lily said with a small smile.

"I'm sorry. I'm confused. I'm not sure what the issue is here," Remus said, and leaned over, his hands folded on the table.

"It's just…" Lily started before lifting a fist to her head and looking away, seeming uncomfortable.

"It's OK, Lils. I won't judge you, whatever it is," Remus said.

Lily exhaled and turned back towards Remus, placing her hands flat on the table.

"I sometimes wonder if what James and I have is the same as what you and Sirius have," Lily said, then closed her eyes in obvious shame.

"Surely, you can't doubt that James loves you. That man would die for you!" Remus said.

Lily shook her head.

"It's not him. It's me. No, I don't doubt he loves me and I've no problem saying that I love him. But is it the same thing?" Lily said.

"I don't think love is a contest, Lils. Does it matter if Sirius loves me more or vice versa?" Remus said.

"No, it's not the degree. It's… it's hard to put into words," Lily said.

"Maybe, you can think about it while I make us some tea. Earl Grey fine?" Remus said, standing up.

"Sure. Cheers," Lily said as Remus went into the kitchen.

A few minutes later he was back with a pot of tea, two cups, some honey and some milk for Lily. Remus and Lily sipped their tea in silence. Lily looked thoughtful and Remus wished he could understand where her fears were coming from.

"So did you say yes?" Remus asked, knowing he saw the ring but still feeling confused.

"Hmm? Oh. Yeah, I did. How could I not?" Lily replied, flashing him the ring again.

"There's no reason you have to marry," Remus said.

"Have you switched sides in this conversation?" Lily said and smiled.

"No. I'm not on any side. I'm just trying to figure out what it is you are feeling, because I want to help you," Remus said and smiled back at her.

"But I don't know what I'm feeling and that's what bothers me. I'm so young, Remus. I know loads of people our age think they've got it all figured out but I'm not one of them," Lily said and took a sip of tea.

Remus wasn't sure what to say so he just nodded and sipped his own tea.

"Me getting pregnant was a mistake. Wasn't part of any plan. I'm happy to have this baby and I'm glad I'm having it with James. I think he'll be a lovely father. When I told him I was pregnant and wanted to keep it he cried. Did I tell you?" Lily said.

Remus shook his head and said, "No, but he did."

Lily laughed and shook her head.

"He would. No, but it's like… We're so young and making these big decisions. I'm happy about the baby. I think being a mum will be cool. But marriage?" Lily said and frowned.

"Marriage feels like a smaller commitment than having a baby, if you ask me. And a great deal easier to back out of once you've committed," Remus pointed out.

Lily leaned over, putting her elbows on the table and pulled at her dark red hair with her hands, looking stressed.

"Why do we get married?" Lily said.

"Used to be about property exchange. These days it's more about legal stuff, though some believe it's about souls entwining or something," Remus said and shrugged.

"You see! It's so bloody sentimental! Why's everything got to be so sentimental and sappy, you know? It should be about partnership. Coming together for mutual benefit," Lily said.

"I don't know. I'm not sure I believe in souls but I do believe in love. Sometimes it can be nice to be a little sappy and show someone how much you care," Remus said.

"But I do care! I love him to bits! But I love you to bits too! And Sirius. And Pete," Lily said.

"Surely, you're not saying you feel the same about all of us," Remus said, furrowing his brow.

Lily shook her head.

"No. I feel different about all of you. I have a different relationship with each of you and that's the way I like it. I mean, you're my best friend, Remus. I can talk about so many things I could never talk about with James. And we have our own history, you know?" Lily said.

Remus nodded and Lily reached over and took his hand.

"I love you, Remus Lupin. It's not better or worse than what I feel for James. It's just different," Lily said and smiled sweetly.

Remus worried that they had got off track and said, "So again I ask: what is the problem? Do you or don't you want to get married?"

Lily sat back up and uncovered her face, looking serious.

"I suppose it would be helpful. You're right about the legal stuff. And it's not like I don't want to be with James. We have a great time together. And when he asked me… it was beautiful," Lily said and smiled.

"Then I'm very happy for you both," Remus said.

Lily sighed and nodded.

"Yeah. Me too," Lily said and smiled at her tea then took another sip.

Remus held a leaf in his hand, turning it over and feeling the texture. Autumn had come and with it an approaching anniversary that he wasn't looking forward to. Harry and Ron were running around in the backyard, letting Padfoot chase them.

Remus's mobile buzzed so he checked it. A text from Peter saying he was bringing a friend round. Peter had mentioned going on a few dates with a Scottish girl he met at a pub but Remus hadn't expected him to introduce her so quickly given what happened with Madeleine Yaxley.

A hand settled on Remus's shoulder and squeezed.

"You're home already?" Remus asked.

"Got off early. Peter and his girlfriend are going to watch the kids," Sirius said.

Remus turned and looked up into his boyfriend's pale, smiling face, wondering what he was up to.

"And what will we be doing during this time?" Remus asked.

"We're going for a walk down to the river," Sirius said.

Remus raised an eyebrow but smiled then kissed Sirius's hand. A few minutes later the backdoor opened as Peter and his girlfriend arrived.

"Hello. I'd like to introduce you all to Morag Cunningham," Peter said.

Remus stood up and shook the hand of the figure who stood next to Peter. Compared to Peter she seemed rather tall. She had a full head of curly brown hair, dark brown eyes and light brown skin. She had the sort of smile that made you want to smile.

"Hello," Remus said.

"Hello, lads. Pleased to meet ye," Morag said as she shook his and Sirius's hands.

Remus had guessed she was Scottish from her name but hearing her speak confirmed it. There were lots of Scots around North Yorkshire.

"Well, it was nice to meet you, Morag, but Remus and I really need to be going," Sirius said.

"Now, we mustn't be rude, Sirius," Remus said, giving his boyfriend a glare.

"Oh, it's nay bother. I'm just here to help watch the bairns," Morag said.

Remus thought Peter generally did a fine job at babysitting but decided that forces were currently working against him, leaving him no choice but to relent to Sirius's will.

"Fair enough. Maybe later, then?" Remus said as Sirius tugged on his shirt.

Within moments they were on the road, heading south towards the River Swale.

"So what's at the river, Sirius?" Remus asked.

"Nothing, right now," Sirius said.

"Well, then what is going to be at the river?" Remus pressed.

"Us," Sirius said, giving Remus a sly grin, then taking his hand.

Remus glanced around, wondering who might be watching. Normally, he felt like Sirius was the anxious one but something in the air was making him nervous, or perhaps it was excitement.

The market was bustling that day. Remus saw figures he recognised and gave them all waves. He was thankful he didn't bump into Molly Weasley who might wonder why her son wasn't with them. He knew she didn't mind Peter being alone with Harry and Ron but he couldn't be sure how she'd feel about Morag who Remus himself didn't really know.

A short time later, they had arrived at the riverside. There were other people along the river having picnics but Sirius hadn't appeared to made any such preparation. Sirius took Remus's hands and walked down to the river's edge.

"Let me guess. You're pregnant," Remus said.

Sirius rolled his eyes.

"Aren't I supposed to be the sarcastic one?" Sirius said.

Remus shrugged and laughed.

"All right. What is it then? You're making me nervous."

Sirius held Remus's hands between them, his grey eyes gazing deeply into Remus's.

"I know we've both been thinking about the anniversary that's coming in a few weeks. It's almost been a year and it still hurts. Harry is growing up to be such a beautiful boy and it kills me that James and Lily can't see that," Sirius said.

Tears welled up in Sirius's eyes but he didn't remove a hand to wipe at them. Remus nodded, unsure of what he could say.

"I was also thinking of how James and Lily were in the end. They never had time to plan for a future. They were barely ever engaged and they never planned to have Harry. And that's fine. They made those decisions. But I wonder… if they had known…"

Sirius looked away and bit his lip, struggling to make his way through. Remus squeezed his hands in attempted comfort. Sirius sighed and shook his head before continuing: "We didn't know we'd end up with guardianship of Harry. We couldn't plan for that. But the life we have now… the life we have here. We planned for that, though even that was quick. I… I just wanted one thing in our lives we could plan in advance."

Sirius pulled a hand away and reached into his pocket then pulled out a small black box. Remus suddenly felt frozen, unable to breathe. Sirius opened the box and removed a ring that had multiple silver loops and on its face was emblazoned an image of a woman stirring a cauldron that was framed by a crescent moon. Cerridwen, the Goddess Remus has chosen to devote himself to after much deliberation.

Remus stared at Sirius, waiting to see what he would do next.

"I know we can't legally be married. Not yet. But after December we'll be able to get a Civil Partnership. And I'm not saying we immediately rush out and get one… but I thought… Maybe we could make a plan. They can stop us from being married… really married, that is, but can they stop us from getting a Civil Partnership and having a Pagan wedding in private?"

Remus felt deeply moved. To some degree, he had begun to accept that he would never get that experience and Sirius had always seemed uneasy with Remus's newfound faith.

"I'm not sure if you're asking a question, but if you are the answer is yes," Remus said.

Sirius grinned and pushed the ring onto Remus's ring finger. The ring in place, Remus pushed forward, pressing his mouth hard against Sirius's, kissing him like it was the first time all over again.

Once they parted, Remus had another thought.

"I want to go back to Manchester," Remus said.

"What? Right now?" Sirius said.

"No… for the anniversary… I want to take Harry to their graves. I've never really been able to explain to him what happened. He's a smart boy but… I think it would be good. I think it would be good for all of us," Remus said.

Sirius nodded.

"OK. Hopefully, Pete will come along too. I think he could use a little closure. I've forgiven him for his role in the mess… I feel terrible for reacting the way I did. I'm not sure he's forgiven himself. Maybe this will help," Sirius said.

Remus made a small smile.

"So when do you want to get married?" Remus asked, looking at the ring again.

"I don't know. Maybe give it a couple of years. Find a day that has meaning. Maybe make enough friends for an actual wedding party," Sirius said.

"Sounds like a plan," Remus said and took Sirius by the hand, eager to return home to share the good news.

April 19, 2003

Lily looked so beautiful, holding hands with James at the altar, Remus thought. He thought perhaps his friend had never looked more lovely than she had at that moment, her shining emerald dress not very traditional, but suiting her well in her pregnant state. And the way that she and James looked at each other brought tears to his eyes. Whatever doubts Lily had been having a few months before had clearly melted away.

"You may now kiss the bride," the vicar declared and they kissed.

Remus wagered there had probably been entire novels written on the appropriate wedding kiss. Most would agree that making out in front of your friends and relatives was awkward but contrarily a quick peck seemed to undersell the moment. James and Lily nailed it with a kiss that was sweet, passionate and didn't go on a moment longer than it needed to. The rest they would save for their pending honeymoon in Paris, for which they were leaving almost immediately.

Sirius was a mess during the entire reception and cried during his best man speech. Seeing his best friend so happy clearly meant a lot to him. And then James stood up and announced their intention to make Sirius the godfather of their unborn child.

Remus found it difficult to find a moment with his best friend alone as everyone wanted to congratulate Lily, on both the marriage and the pregnancy. He noticed that her sister, Petunia, who had shown up for the wedding, did not show up for the reception. Remus had hoped that whatever problems the two of them had might start to be repaired but it didn't appear to be in the stars for now.

"Care to dance?" Remus asked.

"Certainly," Lily said as Remus finally found a moment with just the two of them.

A slow song played in the background, something that Remus didn't recognise. Remus considered the dancing lessons he took when he was twelve to be one of his best kept secrets and always enjoyed a moment to surprise someone with his grace.

"I just wanted to say how beautiful you look and how very happy I am for you both," Remus said.

"Cheers," Lily said as Remus spun her around.

"I see the nausea has passed," Remus said.

"Mostly. I lost so much weight. I was nervous but it seems to be coming back. Doctor says that's normal," Lily said.

"I know it's a cliche but you are glowing," Remus said.

Lily chuckled.

"I've not heard that one a thousand times tonight, let me tell you," Lily said sarcastically.

"Do you suppose Sirius and I will ever be able to do this?" Remus asked.

"You can go dance with him right now if you like," Lily said, gesturing in the direction of his probably sobbing boyfriend.

"You know what I mean. Get married. Do you suppose they'll ever let people like us have a go?"

Lily frowned.

"I hope so. I look forward to your wedding. Can I be your best man?" Lily said.

"Might hurt Peter's feelings," Remus said.

"Where is Pete anyhow?" Lily asked.

"Left with that Yaxley girl right after the wedding," Remus said.

"That goth girl? Are they dating?" Lily said, scrunching her face up in confusion.

"Apparently. Peculiar, isn't it," Remus said.

"Yeah. She's really pretty, isn't she? But doesn't seem like Pete's type," Lily said.

"After all these years I must admit that I have no clue what Pete's type is," Remus said.

"He's coming with us to Cornwall this summer, right?" Lily asked.

"Even if I have to drag his arse across England with my bare hands, he will," Remus said.

"Might be our last hurrah as a group for awhile. James and I have been talking about the future. Neither of us exactly chose Manchester. But I'm not sure where else we'd go. Don't tell Sirius, though. Us leaving would kill him," Lily said.

"I know. I'll admit that I'm not fond of the idea myself, even though I'd love to get out of Manchester myself. I should retire early and move to the countryside. Get a cottage on the coast," Remus said.

The song stopped and Lily took a big breath.

"Are you all right?" Remus asked.

"I'm fine. Bit danced out. I think James and I will be leaving soon," Lily said.

"I hope you enjoy Paris," Remus said.

Lily snickered.

"With the looks James has been giving me today I'll be shocked if I see much more than our hotel room," Lily said.

"Bloody hell," Remus said and shook his head.

Lily leaned over and gave him a kiss on his cheek then headed in James's direction.

Sirius had really forgot how loud Manchester was. While he sat in the pub waiting for Regulus to show up it was all he could think about. He had really acclimated to the quiet life in Richmond.

Regulus finally arrived, sitting down across from Sirius. He was smiling. He looked a lot better.

"You look well, Regs," Sirius said.

"You too. Congratulations on the engagement," Regs said.

"Cheers," Sirius said.

"Anyhow… I just wanted you to know… Mum's not well. I know that you've never had a good relationship with her, not that I blame you. But I thought you might want to know. I could've called you or emailed you but I didn't think it was right," Regs said.

Sirius nodded, unsure how to feel.

"How long does she have?" Sirius asked then took a sip of his beer.

"Not really sure. Mr. Reacher is in a panic, of course. I thought maybe some of the cousins and sort would come around but I don't think anyone cares. You know how our family is. They won't visit her while she's dying but they'll come to the funeral and the reading of the will," Regulus said.

Sirius grunted and drank more of his beer.

"She took you out of the will. I guess you know that. But she put me back in when I showed up alive. God knows why," Regulus said.

"Then let us drink to your good fortune," Sirius said, raising his pint.

"I don't drink anymore. I'm trying to stay clean and sober. And anyway, that's what this is really all about. I just wanted to tell you that… I'm going to split whatever she gives me with you," Regulus said, offering a small smile.

Sirius grimaced.

"I don't want any more of her money," Sirius countered, still regretting the money he had already accepted from Regs.

"It won't be her money! It'll be my money. Sirius, you have a child to think of! For once in your life, can you not be so bloody stubborn?" Regulus said.

Sirius sighed.

"Very well. I'll accept the money. But you have to promise me something," Sirius said.

"What's that?" Regulus asked.

"Come to visit us sometimes," Sirius said.

Regulus smiled.

"Of course, my brother," Regulus said and reached over to slap Sirius on the shoulder.

August 1, 2003

Sirius stood frozen in front of James, in awe of the new life that he held in his arms, a small dark-skinned fleshy creature with a wild tuft of black hair on his head. He was the most beautiful thing that Sirius had ever seen.

"Do you want to hold him?" James asked.

His eyes filling with tears, Sirius nodded his head desperately in the affirmative and James placed him into Sirius's arms.

"Hello, Harry," Sirius said softly to the sleeping child in his arms.

Sirius glanced over at Lily who was smiling, though she looked very tired.

"God, he's so beautiful, James. How did you manage to create something so beautiful?" Sirius asked, giving James a sarcastic smile.

"I had some help, to be fair," James said, then grinned sheepishly at his wife.

Sirius had dreaded the idea of his friends going off and becoming proper adults but now that he had the product of their new-found adulthood in his arms he realised his folly.

"Remus promises he'll be by later. He tried everything he could to get out of work but they wouldn't let him go," Sirius said.

"Yes, he sent me a text awhile ago," Lily said.

Just then Harry awoke and began to cry. Sirius quickly handed him off to his father who tried to rock him but it didn't seem to help.

"He's hungry," Lily said, gesturing them over.

James handed Harry over and Lily quickly began to breastfeed him, another sight that overwhelmed Sirius with happy feelings. For reasons he couldn't entirely explain he embraced James suddenly.

"You've done well, my friend… my brother," Sirius said.

"Cheers, mate," James said and Sirius squeezed tighter.

"This is where it all began," Remus said as he, Sirius, Peter, Harry and Morag sat down at a table inside Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlour.

"What's that?" Morag asked, then gave her ice cream a lick.

"Out of all of us, Lily and I became friends first. She brought me here to apologise for ignoring how her friend had been mistreating me. Everything sort of stemmed from that day. Sirius and James moved here and became friends. Then Peter. Our group coalesced quickly. Then we paired off," Remus said.

"Ice cream is a superb way to start a friendship," Sirius said, gesturing his ice cream at Morag.

"Aye," she said, gesturing hers back at him.

Remus smiled at Harry, who was making a mess of his cone as expected and watching Remus talk about his parents with intent eyes. Remus looked forward to many years of being able to share stories of his parents. Harry had recovered from the great loss much the same way that he and Sirius had. At first, things that reminded him of his mum and dad made Harry cry but now there was a sort of reverence that came over him.

Remus wiped at Harry's face with a napkin.

"Is it good, Harry?" Remus asked.

"Yeah," Harry said then giggled.

"Excellent," Remus said.

Remus looked at his watch. They had put visiting the graves off for as long as they could today. Soon the sun would set and they would be heading back to Richmond. But he wanted a little bit of joy and togetherness before they faced the sadness.

October 23, 2004

"Come back here, Harry Potter!" Lily shouted as her son dashed at a friendly dog.

"It's no matter, Mrs. Potter," the older gentlemen said as Harry tackled the dog.

"I'm sorry. Harry really likes dogs," Lily said as she scooped her son up in her arms.

Remus stood in the doorway of her flat, amused by how active Harry had become.

"He's an adventurer, isn't he?" Remus said.

Lily snickered then set Harry down and shut the door while Remus sat down on the sofa.

"You don't know the half of it. He keeps escaping his crib and coming in to play in here. I swear I caught him watching telly the other day," Lily said as she tied her dark red hair into a pony-tail.

Remus smiled at Harry, who smiled back at him, his green eyes wide and bright. Remus laughed and ruffled Harry's mess of black hair.

"I still can't believe he's got James's hair and your eyes. Fair trade off, I suppose," Remus said.

Lily chuckled.

"You know, I like James's eyes. I think hazel is very underrated," Lily said.

"So what are you and James doing for Halloween?" Remus asked.

Lily groaned as she sat next to Remus.

"I think we're gonna sit this one out," Lily said.

"You don't want to dress Harry as a little Vulcan?" Remus asked.

Lily smiled warmly.

"He is my little Vulcan, isn't he," Lily said.

"Vulk!" Harry shouted then laughed.

"No, I think James and I are just exhausted. Halloween's on a Sunday. I think we just want to rest," Lily said.

"Shame. I tried to see what Peter was up to but he said he was busy doing something with that Yaxley girl," Remus said.

"What does he get up to with her?" Lily asked, frowning.

"I have some ideas," Remus said.

"Mind out of the gutter, Remus. I don't think they are spending all their time shagging," Lily said, lowering her voice.

"I don't know. Peter won't say. He's really been odd lately. He seems… bothered," Remus said.

Lily shook her head, pursing her red lips.

"Maybe someday he'll let us in again," Lily said.

"Yes. Someday," Remus.

"No, put that down, Harry," Lily said, lifting off the sofa to chase down her son.

Sometimes no matter how much you brace yourself for something you know is going to hurt, it just doesn't stop it from hurting, Sirius thought, as he stood next to Remus and Harry in front of the graves of their dearly departed friends. But he wasn't crying. That was something, he supposed.

Peter and Morag were wandering somewhere behind them, giving Remus and Sirius a moment alone with Harry.

"I miss you," Harry said, startling Sirius.

Harry dropped down to his knees and touched the graves. Sirius quickly found himself struggling not to sob. He hadn't expected this reaction from the boy. He squeezed Remus's hand but Remus also dropped to his knees, letting go of Sirius's hand.

"This is your mum," Remus said, pointing at the gravestone on the left then pointing at the one on the right and adding, "and this is your dad."

"I love you," Harry said, weakly, touching the gravestones and shattering Sirius's heart into a million pieces.

Sirius looked at Remus and saw that tears were streaming down his face as well. Remus touched his fingers to his lips then touched both of the gravestones himself. Remus stood back up then quickly held Sirius, allowing them to sob against each other.

Harry wasn't crying, though he remained transfixed on the graves. They had never really explained death to the boy. It was a difficult thing to explain to someone who was so freshly alive. But he understood well enough.

Harry pulled himself up and ran over, attempting to hug his fathers's legs. Sirius reached down and rubbed the back of Harry's head, finding an odd sort of strength in Harry's comfort.

"We have to go," Remus whispered.

"I know. Maybe we should make a tradition of this. We can keep coming back. Keep coming back and sharing the memories and reminding ourselves of all we have," Sirius said.

Remus scooped up Harry and they walked in the direction of Peter and Morag.

"And what do we have?" Remus asked.

"Harry. The memories. Each other. Peter. Life. Love… we have so much that it makes my heart want to burst," Sirius said, wiping at his eyes.

"We have James and Lily. We always will," Remus said.

"That's all we have and it's so much more than I ever realised. I thought Harry was all that we had left but Harry's just the tip of the iceberg, isn't he," Sirius said and swiftly embraced Peter as they approached him.

"I love you, Peter," Sirius said.

"I love you too, mate," Peter said then gave Remus a hug as well.

As they got to the car, Remus handed Harry over to Sirius, who held the boy up, smiling at him.

"I love you too, Harry," Sirius said.

Harry giggled and Sirius went to put him in the car seat. With Harry safely secured in the car seat, between Peter and Morag, Sirius sat down in the front passenger seat. As Remus started the car, Sirius reached over and placed a hand on Remus's hand that was clutching the gear shift.

Sirius smiled at Remus, thinking how much he loved him and just how grateful he was to have him in his life.

"I know," Remus said.

"You better. Let's go home," Sirius said.

"Try and stop me," Remus said and began to drive.