Author: coffeejunkii Recipient: corvusdeaTitle: CirclesPairing(s):
NC-17Summary: Whereas a strange calm had settled over Remus, Sirius felt jumpy. It wasn't so much that he didn't want to tell Harry and Draco, but that this—this had been kept between them for so long that it seemed as if it couldn't be compressed into words.Warnings:
MpregTotal word count:
~7,200Disclaimer: This story/artwork is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.Author's notes:
This was written for corvusdea
's wonderful prompt: Sirius and Remus (who could both totally be alive) had their own mpreg situation years before, which did not work out (why?), and are the only ones that understand Harry and Draco's situation now (Weasleys and Malfoys unaccepting, but maybe resolved). Circles
"What do you think the news is?" Sirius asked as he directed the duster over the mantle.
Remus was fluffing the sofa cushions behind him. "Haven't got a clue. Harry's owl just said they had news and asked if they could come round this afternoon."
"Hmm. You reckon Draco finally decided on that job offer he's been waffling over for weeks?"
Gathering up old issues of the Prophet, Remus replied, "Maybe. Or maybe they're just redecorating."
Sirius Banished the duster to the kitchen and surveyed the room. Good enough. It would have been fine even before they started straightening up, but Remus had insisted. "Redecorating is hardly worth a visit. No, I think it's about that job."
Remus shrugged and shoved the newspapers into the small basket next to the bookshelf. "I should get started on tea—"
The fireplace flared to life. Harry stumbled out of it, nearly tripping over the edge of his robes, but caught himself in the last moment. "Hi. Draco's right behind me," he said.
Sirius thought he sounded nervous, but didn't have the chance to ask Harry if anything was wrong before the Floo flared up again. Draco stepped out of the green flames with his usual grace. He smoothed down his robes, flicking little pieces of ash off the dark green cloth. Sirius' eyes tracked the movements and stopped at Draco's middle, which seemed oddly distended. There was definitely a bump there. Well, more than a bump. More like—
"Oh," Sirius said softly without meaning to.
Draco nodded, and Harry said, "Um. Yeah. That would be the news."
Sirius sought Remus' eyes, but found that he was staring at Draco. Tension rippled through Remus and Sirius knew he was about ten seconds away from bolting out of the room. Shit
, he thought.
"Pardon me," Remus said, jaw clenched so tight his mouth was barely moving. He turned and left with hastened steps.
"That didn't quite go as expected," Draco quipped.
Harry anxiously glanced in the direction into which Remus had disappeared.
"It's not what you think," Sirius said quickly. "I promise. He's not mad. Neither am I. Why don't you make yourselves comfortable while I go and talk to Remus?"
"We can come back later," Harry suggested, turning towards the fireplace.
"No, that's not necessary. I'll just be a moment." Sirius looked at Harry long enough to be certain he would stay, then hurried down the hall.
He wished Harry had indicated in some way that this would be the news. But then Harry had no idea what it would mean to his godfathers, did he? Not his fault. And it made perfect sense to want to announce something so important in person. Harry had probably expected him and Remus to be delighted, and they would be happy for him and Draco, but for now, bitterness twisted in Sirius' stomach.
He glanced into the bedroom. No Remus. The kitchen, then. Sirius slowed down and took a deep breath before walking into the room.
Remus stood in front of the window that looked out onto the rooftops of adjoining houses. "Sorry I ran off like that."
"No need to apologise." Slow steps took Sirius to Remus' side. He took in Remus' hunched shoulders and the way his arms crossed tightly across his chest and decided to keep his distance. For now.
"I didn't think it could still—" Remus' breath hitched. "It's been so many years."
Years that condensed into moments until Sirius was returned to their old flat, thrown back into the terrifying realisation that the transformation would happen that month, that there was no way to stop it. Remus was once again shaking in his arms until the wolf burst through and started to tear through the flat. Padfoot tried his best to keep the wolf at bay, but it wasn't good enough, and the blood that was smeared over broken furniture was testament to that. The rush to St. Mungo's was a blur, as was everything afterwards until Remus lay under white sheets in a white room and didn't say anything for an entire day.
Sirius brought a hand up to his face and rubbed it across his eyes, as if that would make the memories go away. "It'll always hurt, I imagine. In some way. It's not something you forget, or that loses meaning."
Remus nodded. His eyes remained fixed on the houses below, or maybe on the horizon beyond. "I wonder how it happened for them. Do you reckon it was on purpose?"
Sirius shrugged. "Maybe. Harry's always wanted a family."
Remus nodded again. "He has."
Sirius glanced at Remus. It was strange that even though they'd known each other for most of their lives there were still moments when Sirius was at a complete loss about what Remus might want or need from him.
Remus returned the glance and shook his head. "You're such an idiot sometimes," he whispered before drawing Sirius close to him.
Sirius folded his arms as tightly around Remus as he could. "I'm sorry, Moony, I didn't know if—"
"Always, Padfoot." The tips of Remus' fingers stroked over Sirius' nape.
"Sorry," Sirius said once more.
They stood for a moment longer, Sirius' face buried in the crook of Remus' neck. If anything could make the memories disappear, it was this.
"We should go back," Remus whispered.
Neither of them moved.
Sirius lifted his head off Remus' shoulder. "I can talk to them by myself. You don't have to be there."
Remus pulled away far enough so that they could look at each other, but his arms remained around Sirius' shoulders. "No, that's not necessary. And...I think we should tell them."
It took Sirius a moment to find his voice. "We've never told anyone aside from Dumbledore. Are you sure that—"
"Yes," Remus replied with determination.
Whereas a strange calm had settled over Remus, Sirius felt jumpy. It wasn't so much that he didn't want to tell Harry and Draco, but that this—this had been kept between them for so long that it seemed as if it couldn't be compressed into words. They had barely spoken about it with each other, and the few times they had ranked among the most painful conversations of Sirius's life.
He followed Remus back into the living room, where Harry and Draco sat close together on the sofa. Draco spoke quietly to Harry, but fell silent when he realised they were no longer alone.
Remus transfigured the chair next to the fireplace into another, smaller sofa. He sat down, and Sirius followed suit.
"I'm sorry that I left in such a hurry. I'll explain why in a moment, but maybe you'd like to officially tell us your news first?" Remus even managed a small smile.
Harry and Draco looked at each other for a moment before Harry cleared his throat. "Well, Draco and I are going to have a baby."
"In March," Draco added.
Harry smiled at him. "Yeah."
"Congratulations," Remus offered. "That's wonderful news."
It was heartfelt, Sirius could tell. He wasn't sure how Remus managed that when his own throat had tightened to the point where air barely found its way through, let alone words. He nodded, and a shove against his ribs made him add a croaked, "Wonderful, yes."
Harry's eyes fastened on Sirius. "Do you really mean that?" He asked.
Confusion over the question overrode Sirius' dumbfounded state of mind. "Of course. Why wouldn't I?"
"My parents weren't quite as joyful when we told them," Draco answered.
"That's not entirely true. They were happy enough," Harry said.
"Oh yes, so much so in fact that they felt the need to explain in detail how our baby wouldn't be part of the family tree because the Malfoy heir only fathers his own children but doesn't carry them. It's not the proper way of doing things, after all." Draco sounded bitter.
Anger surged through Sirius. "Fucking pure-blood traditions," he muttered.
Draco remained silent.
"At least your mum seemed excited about a grandchild," Harry pointed out. "In contrast to some other people."
Draco shook his head. "Weasleys. Nothing good ever—"
"Don't," Harry said sharply.
"You've told Molly and Arthur, I gather?" Remus interrupted.
"Yeah." Harry leaned forward, elbows on his knees. "I was really hoping that they—I mean, every time Molly hears about another grandchild in the making, she's ecstatic. I know she's never got used to Draco and me, but..." He trailed off.
"What Harry means to say," Draco continued, "is that Molly and Arthur were perfectly polite to us, but it was quite obvious that they were disappointed in Harry. Perhaps they still harboured some hope for him and Wea—Ginny."
"That's..." Sirius didn't quite know how to put his disbelief into words.
Remus echoed his thoughts by saying, "You'd think that getting married would be a clear enough sign, really."
"Apparently not." Draco folded his hands over his belly.
"I'm sorry, that sounds like a rotten day." Sirius looked back and forth between Harry and Draco. "And then you come here and—"
"And the first thing I do is storm out of the room," Remus finished. "I can assure you that it has nothing to do with my happiness for you or the baby."
Harry leaned back against the sofa cushions. "What was it about, then?" he asked cautiously.
Remus' eyes drifted to the carpet, and Sirius could tell that his focus was turning inwards, to the memories that had been stirred up. He took Remus' hand between his own. "I can tell them," Sirius said quietly.
"No, that's all right. I will." Remus sat up straighter, his gaze once again on Harry and Draco. "You see, Sirius and I once were in a situation rather similar to your own."
Harry's eyes widened. "You were pregnant?" He asked, directing the question at Sirius.
"No, I was," Remus corrected him. He noticed the slight rise of Draco's eyebrows. "It was a year after we'd left school. You can imagine that it was quite a shock."
"How?" Draco asked.
"We never really found out," Sirius replied.
Remus nodded, and added, "A lot of work was being done on finding new variations on spells and potions. Anything that could lend an edge against Voldemort's forces. Naturally you needed test subjects, and since werewolves are notoriously hard to kill, I volunteered quite a few times."
"Always behind my back," Sirius pointed out.
"I didn't want to worry you, and the compensation was good," Remus countered. "I assume it was one of those experimental spells or potions that—well."
"Potions should never be underestimated," Draco stated.
"Is that how—?" Sirius asked.
Draco nodded. "For a few years now I've been taking a potion to counter the long-term effects of some of the lovely curses I was subjected to while Voldemort resided at the Manor. Pregnancy is a very rare side effect."
"Quite the side effect," Remus mused. "Surely you were aware of it?"
Harry nodded. "We used contraception charms for a while, but then...then we decided we'd take the chance." He smiled at Draco. "Nothing happened for two years, until—"
"Until I caught a really nasty case of the flu. Except it wasn't quite the flu."
"Took you long enough to admit that, too." Harry laughed. "You were nearly three months along before you finally agreed to see a Healer."
Sirius watched their easy banter with apprehension, aware of the renewed tension that it called forth in Remus. He squeezed his hand, a silent acknowledgement that the pain slicing through Remus was doing a fair job on his innards as well. "Remus noticed something was off nearly right away."
"Really?" Draco asked.
Remus sat up a little straighter, as if good posture might make recounting the events easier. Perhaps it did. "Yes. During the transformation. There was something which didn't belong. The wolf tried to—it was good Padfoot was there, chasing him and tiring him out. I didn't want to go to St. Mungo's afterwards, but Sirius insisted. The Healers made it rather clear that there wasn't much of a chance that the pregnancy would continue past the next full moon." Remus' voice had fallen to a strained whisper.
"The bastards even suggested that it might be best to end it right there and then," Sirius ground out.
Harry frowned. "That's awful. They didn't try to help you?"
"Help?" Sirius echoed. "I think they were mostly interested in it as a medical anomaly."
Draco remained silent, but was clearly listening intently.
"Dumbledore helped," Remus said. "I have no idea how he did it, but he found this amulet that suppressed the transformation. You could feel the magic pouring off of it, that's how strong the enchantment on it was."
The look of incredulity on Remus' face when Dumbledore had given him the amulet was etched into Sirius' mind, still crisp and clear decades later. It was the first time that he'd sensed even a flicker of hope in Remus as far as the pregnancy was concerned. That night Remus had slept soundly, and Sirius had thought that maybe, maybe
, all this would come to a good ending.
"But it wasn't enough." Remus' eyes lost their focus.
Sirius squeezed his hand again in an attempt to pull Remus free from the memories he was drowning in, but Remus' fingers remained limp. Harry's gaze bore into Sirius, silently asking why and how. The question would have to remain unanswered; Sirius knew that he wouldn't be able to speak of that night, wouldn't be able to explain what happened beyond Remus' clipped words.
Draco looked stricken. His hand smoothed over the curve of his belly again and again. He was probably unaware of what he was doing, following a protective instinct, or perhaps needing the assurance that the life growing within him was unharmed.
"I'm so sorry," Harry finally said. He hovered on the edge of the sofa, a tense uncertainty surrounding him.
Sirius nodded in acknowledgement. He turned to Remus, who was far too still. "Moony," he said quietly, letting go of his hand to rub his back.
Remus' eyes snapped to him. He blinked and resurfaced from whichever depths he had fallen to. "I'm fine."
Sirius wanted to hex him for such a bold lie, but continued to rub his back instead. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Harry finally stand up and walk over to them, kneeling in front of Remus.
"I wish—" he begun shakily, "I wish you could have met him or her."
"Him," Remus said softly.
Harry nodded. "Him, then." He paused, took a breath as if to speak again, and halted. Frowned. Then, slowly said, "We're having a girl." His entire body went taut while he waited for Remus' response.
"A girl? That's very unusual," Remus replied with measured words.
"Of course it is," came Draco's voice from across the room. "It's Harry's child, after all."
Sirius laughed without meaning to, and tried to rein it in, take it back, but a long-held breath whooshed out of Remus, and Sirius knew it was all right.
"Yes, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised," Remus mused.
"Have you thought of a name yet?" Sirius asked, desperate to hold on to the veneer of normalcy.
"No," Draco replied. "I keep telling Harry that it would be perfectly reasonable to name her after his mother, but he's refused to really discuss this so far."
Harry pushed his glasses further up his nose. "I just think we should meet her first, that's all."
"That sounds very reasonable to me," Sirius said, mostly out of a sense of godfatherly obligation to take Harry's side by default.
"Lily would be honoured, I'm sure, should you decide on that name," Remus said in that sensible voice of his that sometimes drove Sirius out of his mind.
Harry looked up at them with a small smile and nodded.
"All in good time," Sirius stated firmly.
"Speaking of time," Draco said, "Harry and I should be going." He managed to get up with his usual elegance, but Sirius could tell it took more effort now that Draco was carrying extra weight around.
Harry got to his feet as well. "Er, yeah. We probably should."
Remus stood up to retrieve the bowl of Floo powder from the mantle. Sirius followed him in what hopefully looked like a casual manner, and not as if he couldn't bear to be more than a few inches away from Remus.
Harry and Draco both took a handful of the fine powder.
"If Sirius and I can help you in any way, you know where to find us," Remus said by way of good-bye.
"Thank you," Harry said. "Maybe you could come round for dinner soon?"
Sirius gave Harry's shoulder a tight squeeze. "We'd love to."
Harry turned to Draco. "After you."
With a courteous nod, Draco said, "Black. Lupin." After calling out Albion Riverside
he disappeared in a whirl of green flames.
Sirius shook his head. "You really need to break him of that last name habit, Harry."
"As long as he can get a rise out of you that way, I don't think he's going to stop," Harry informed him. "He always refers to you by your first names when we're at home, though." He looked to the fireplace and then back at Remus and Sirius. "I—I'm sorry that we made you remember."
"You didn't know," Remus replied. "And you had happy news to share, didn't you? I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on that."
Harry hesitated for a moment, then pulled Remus into the hug that he seemed to have held back for the past half hour. He whispered something to him that Sirius couldn't make out, and Remus held him tighter in response.
"Draco's waiting for you," Remus mumbled as he extricated himself from Harry's arms.
"Right." He stepped into the fireplace, and with a wave, he was gone.
Sirius thought a cup of tea would be good now, Earl Grey, or maybe—
He never got to finish the thought because Remus was suddenly right there, body pressed close, and kissing the life out of Sirius. Which was a hundred times better than tea, especially when Remus' tongue slipped past his lips and stroked over the roof of his mouth.
Too soon, Remus pulled away, resting his forehead against Sirius'. "Take me to bed."
"Sofa's right here," Sirius mumbled.
Remus' nose nudged his cheek. "No. The bed. Please."
Sirius took Remus' hand and led him down the hall.
They undressed quickly and in silence. Remus climbed onto the bed, settling on all fours. His hands twisted into the sheet.
Sirius understood. Remus wanted hard and fast, wanted to be made acutely aware of his body until he could slip into only feeling, not thinking.
The lube still sat on the nightstand, where they'd left it that morning. Sirius uncapped the tube with one hand. Remus wouldn't need much preparation; probably would prefer only the bare minimum. Two fingers slid into him easily, and Remus began moving back onto them nearly immediately. Sirius twisted his hand, pushing his fingers in to the knuckles. Remus moaned.
Sirius squeezed more lube into his palm, fisted his cock with quick strokes, and then moved behind Remus, one hand flat on the small of his back, the other curled around his side. Sirius took his time, despite Remus' impatient noises, until his hipbones pushed up against Remus' arse.
Remus' fingers dug into the sheet and Sirius withdrew, only to drive back in with as much force as he could muster.
"Just like that," Remus rasped.
Sirius complied. He gave himself over to the rhythm, allowed his eyes to close, his hands on Remus' hips fine sensors that told him what Remus needed—a twist, a momentary hold when they most connected, a staccato of sharp thrusts.
When Remus' weight shifted, Sirius opened his eyes. Remus was leaning down on his left arm, head buried in its crook, while his right arm had half-disappeared beneath his body, unmistakably jerky movements indicating that Remus was bringing himself off.
Sirius nudged Remus' thighs further apart, which garnered him a first gasp, then reached for the headboard with one hand. The new leverage earned him another gasp that turned into groans and other needy sounds. This was usually the point when Sirius lost himself, when nothing mattered aside from coming as quickly as possible. But he held himself back while pushing Remus further, determined to send him over that edge.
One more thrust, and Remus fell apart under him, spasms wrecking his body until he fell to the mattress. Sirius slipped out of him, but didn't care much. He settled next to Remus, smoothing sweat-slick hair away from his flushed face.
"You didn't..." Remus panted, the back of his hand brushing against Sirius' still-hard cock.
"I will. Later. 's not important now."
Remus rolled onto his back. His chest lifted and fell with quick breaths. Sirius leaned over him, suddenly needing to touch Remus everywhere he could reach: the small hollows formed by collarbones and shoulders, the wide expanse of his chest (where he felt a strong heartbeat reverberate against his palm), further down to the soft skin of the belly (where he allowed his hand to linger, rubbing back and forth), over to this side and back up again to where he'd started. He cupped his hand around the side of Remus face and kissed him, a slow, lazy twining of tongues.
Sirius shifted until he was on top of Remus. His left hand ran down the length of Remus' side to grasp the underside of his thigh. With a gentle pull, it came up alongside Sirius' hips. Remus drew up his other leg of his own accord and whispered "go ahead" against Sirius' mouth.
Remus sighed when Sirius entered him again.
With some regret, Sirius pulled away from their kiss, but he wanted to watch Remus. He held himself nearly still, the only movement an occasional roll of hips, always followed by a pause when he would press as deeply as he could. Soon, Remus was trembling under him.
Sirius could tell the exact moment when something cracked in Remus and the pain he'd held inside began to spill out. There was a hitch of breath, followed by a shudder that spread all the way to his toes. The shuddering didn't stop, but rolled over Remus in waves. His eyes flicked to Sirius, the need to regain control warring with the plea to be pushed just that little bit further to where control no longer mattered.
Sirius curled both his hands under Remus' shoulders and dipped his head to whisper directly into his ear. "I've got you."
One more shudder went through Remus, then something loosened in him. His breathing eased and deepened; his body moulded itself even closer to Sirius.
Sirius kissed him again, and lengthened his strokes, still going deep, but faster, and less poised. It didn't take long until he was back at that point he'd reached earlier, where tension turned into tightness and pressure that compacted and compacted until it burst apart. His fingers dug into Remus' skin and his hips snapped forward in awkward, hitched movements that slowly petered out until he lay on Remus' chest, breathless and with spots dancing in front of his eyes.
Remus' fingers combed through his hair. "Still with me?"
Sirius managed to haul himself up so he could rest his head on the pillow and take his weight off Remus.
"Thank you," Remus whispered.
Sirius answered by tucking himself closer, pleased to note that Remus was apparently feeling similarly boneless. Arms came around him, and for a few minutes, they offered enough warmth to make the chill of a late autumn afternoon unnoticeable.
When Sirius' toes had become so cold that Remus squirmed away from them when he tried to discreetly tuck a foot under Remus' calf, Sirius reached for the duvet that lay in a crumpled heap in one corner of the bed.
"Or did you want to get up?" Sirius asked, mid-motion.
Remus shook his head.
Pleased, Sirius spread the duvet over both of them and stretched out under its comforting weight.
With a nudge to Sirius' hip, Remus mumbled, "Over."
Sirius rolled over on his side and found Remus folding himself around him a moment later. He took Remus' hand and kissed his knuckles. "Fancy a nap?"
"No," Remus replied. His breath broke over Sirius' shoulder. "Just this."
"Hmm. 's nice." Niggling worry at the back of his mind made Sirius add, "Everything all right?"
Remus mouthed along the juncture of Sirius' neck and shoulder with slow, deliberate care. He paused to reply, "It will be," then continued on.****Five months later
The Floo chime wormed its way into Sirius' sleepy unconscious sometime between the hours of "too late" and "too early." He groaned; similar noises came from Remus, who stirred beside him.
"Harry, you think?" Remus mumbled.
"Hmm. Probably. I'll go."
Sirius rolled out of bed, grabbed his robe to ward off the cold air in the flat—blasted warming charms, never did their job properly—and stumbled into the living room.
Harry's face hovered in the fireplace, an excited flush visible on his cheeks even through the unsteady flicker of green flames. "Sirius!"
Sirius' knees cracked when he knelt down. "It's time, I assume?"
Harry nodded. "Draco's having contractions so we're going to St. Mungo's. Will you—" His head whipped around. Draco's angry voice drifted through the Floo, words unintelligible over the distance. When Harry turned back around, he sounded hurried. "I've got to go, but will you and Remus come to St. Mungo's?"
"Of course. We'll be right behind you. Now go before Draco hexes your bits off."
Harry smiled briefly. "Thanks. See you there."
As soon as the flames had died down, Sirius made his way back to the bedroom. Memories flashed through his mind of a similar night, twenty-five years ago. Different flat, different times, but the same kind of anticipation. A sudden rush of adrenaline wiped his drowsiness aside and broke the lull into which he'd fallen during the long days of waiting.
He flung open the door to the wardrobe, scanning shirts and trousers for something suitable. "Get up, the boys are already on their way, and Harry's asked...Moony?"
Remus hadn't moved, was still huddled under the duvet.
Sirius dropped the shirt he'd pulled from a shelf and crawled onto the bed, settling behind Remus. He looked over Remus' shoulder, trying to make out his face, but there were too many shadows. "What is it?"
"Maybe I shouldn't go."
"What—Of course you should. Harry's asked both of us to come."
Remus sighed. "He did?"
Sirius wondered if his ears were playing tricks on him because Remus couldn't have asked that. He leaned further over Remus, using his weight to make the other man roll onto his back. "Yes, he did. And you're going. Harry needs us." Sirius gently turned Remus' head so he could finally look at him. The lines on his face were more pronounced by the unease pouring off of him. "Moony," Sirius whispered, bringing his hand up to the side of Remus' face.
"I hate that place," Remus said quietly. "Seems like every time I go there, bad things happen."
"Not today, though. And nothing bad happened the day Harry was born, remember?" Sirius felt Remus' chest expand with a deep breath. He burrowed into his neck and kissed the warm skin there. "Come on. Harry's probably half-mad with worry already."
Remus shifted underneath Sirius. "All right."
Sirius kissed his cheek and moved back to give Remus room to climb out of bed. "That's the attitude! Besides, aren't you curious what the sprog will look like?"
"Red and wrinkly, like every newborn. Not much of a surprise there."
Sirius picked up the discarded shirt. "Ten galleons she'll have Harry's hair."
A smile tugged on the corners of Remus' mouth. "You're on."****
After successfully evading a horde of reporters, and convincing the very sceptical Maternity ward staff that yes, indeed, Harry Potter had requested their presence, Remus and Sirius were finally led to a small room in which Harry was pacing back and forth.
Neither of them had time to say anything before they found themselves at the receiving end of crushing hugs.
"So glad you're here," Harry said after he'd finally let go of Sirius. "Draco's in there." He pointed to another door on the opposite wall. "They're getting the baby out now."
Even though Harry had stopped walking back and forth, he wasn't standing still either. He fidgeted with his glasses, shifted from foot to foot, and switched between shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans and letting them dangle at his sides. A nervous crackle of magic hovered around him that occasionally made the chairs along the wall rattle against one another.
Remus' hand came to rest on Harry's shoulder. "He's going to be fine. The Healers here have done this hundreds of times before."
"Right." Harry raked a hand through his hair.
"Why don't we sit down, hmm?" Sirius suggested.
"I don't—" After a moment of protest, Harry's shoulders slumped. "Yeah, okay."
They sat down. Harry rubbed his palms across his thighs until Remus stopped him with a light touch to his arm.
"Padfoot, doesn't this remind you of something?"
"Huh?" Sirius had been trying to come up with more words of comfort for Harry and hadn't really been paying attention.
Remus looked at him in disbelief. "Late July, about two decades ago. Should ring a bell."
"You mean when I was born?" Harry asked.
Sirius reached around Harry and shoved Remus' shoulder even though he wanted to snog him for thinking of such a brilliant distraction. "As if I'd forget that!" Turning to Harry, he continued, "James was with Lily at first, but she finally kicked him out. Made her insane with his constant fussing, she said. So then we had to deal with him. And let me tell you, I was about ready to punch his lights out after an hour or so."
Harry listened with interest.
Remus added, "I remember that very well because it was my job to restrain both Sirius and your dad while Peter was off on some tea-finding mission he never really returned from."
"Probably went home and slept while we were going mad here," Sirius growled.
"Well, it was rather a long night. And morning."
Harry's eyes widened. "You were here for that long?"
Sirius laughed. "You took your time making your entrance into the world. But your mum and dad were very happy when you were finally here."
Harry ducked his head and smiled.
Sirius ruffled Harry's hair and was about to launch into the story of how James had nearly dropped Harry only hours after he had been born when the door opened.
"Mr Potter?" a Healer asked.
Harry jumped to his feet. "Yes?"
The Healer smiled at him. "You can come in now." She held the door open for him, and Harry hurried through it, pausing briefly to glance over his shoulder at Remus and Sirius. Both of them nodded and signalled to go on in.
Once the door had closed behind Harry and the Healer, Remus slid into the chair next to Sirius and leaned against him.
"You always have the best ideas, Moony."
Remus' hand brushed against Sirius' thigh. "I try. It seemed likely that Harry had never heard the story about when he was born."
The thought sobered Sirius; he and Remus were the only ones who would have been able to tell Harry, and they never had. "Well, what better day to tell him than today?"
"That's what I thought, too."****
Despite the uncomfortable wooden chair, Sirius slipped into a light sleep. The next time he opened his eyes, an hour had gone by. Remus' head rested heavily on his shoulder.
Remus stirred; apparently, he'd been dozing as well. "Hmm?"
"Do you still remember that spell we used to spy on the girls' Quidditch changing rooms?"
"Yes?" came Remus' hesitant reply.
"Show me again?"
Remus lifted his head off Sirius' shoulder to send him a critical look. "Why?"
"Because I want know what Harry and Draco are up to."
"Certainly there are other ways of going about that. Such as knocking on the door."
Sirius shifted impatiently in his chair "I know that. But maybe they're asleep, and I wouldn't want to disturb them. And if they are, we can leave and go back to our comfortable bed. But if they're still up, we can see the sprog." Sirius flashed his most charming smile at Remus.
Remus pondered that for a moment. Then, with a sigh of the "why can't I ever say no to Sirius" variety, he replied, "Okay. I trust you to end the spell if you see something you shouldn't be seeing."
It probably wouldn't be a good idea to tell Remus that that stern look of his never worked on him. "Of course," Sirius said eagerly.
Remus drew his wand and demonstrated the spell. He made Sirius repeat it three times, until he could carry out the wand movements and the intonation of the Latin words to Remus' satisfaction. Sirius thought he'd mastered everything the first time, but he liked to indulge Remus in his professorial inclinations.
Stepping up to the door, Sirius marked a square the size of his head on the wood and then moved his wand over it while speaking the incantation. The wood shimmered white for a moment, then became transparent.
"They're still awake," Sirius reported. "Harry's sitting on the bed with Draco, and I think Draco's holding the baby, but Harry's back is blocking the view." He craned his neck to get a better angle, to no avail.
"Well, then end the spell and let's knock on the door."
Sirius waved him off. "In a moment. Oh, Harry's getting up..."
He watched as Harry walked over to the small table sitting under a curtained window and poured a glass of water. The baby was indeed in Draco's arms, snuggled into his bare chest. Sirius thought Draco was holding her rather tightly. He squinted. And then had to steady himself against the frame of the door because he didn't quite trust his eyes.
"Remus." Sirius stared at Draco. "Come over here for a moment?"
"No. I'm not participating in your voyeuristic adventure."
"Remus! You've got to see this. Draco's—he's—" Sirius fumbled.
Sirius didn't reply, which seemed to do the trick because he could hear footsteps behind him.
Remus peered through the magicked hole in the door. "Now, what's so interesting—oh. I see." He smiled.
Sirius looked at him in disbelief. A smile hardly seemed the right response here. He gestured at Draco. "Don't you think this is the weirdest thing you've ever seen? And we've seen loads of strange things over the years, but this—this really beats all of them."
Remus' smile grew wider. "I think it's..." He paused. "Heartwarming."
"Heartwarming?" Sirius echoed. "But Remus! He's—"
"I believe the word's breastfeeding."
Sirius blushed. A little. "Yes. That."
Remus had the indecency to laugh at him. "What is he supposed to do? Let her go hungry?"
"No! But...I didn't think...bloody hell, Moony, men don't do that!" Remus' amusement was really getting on his nerves.
"Really?" He swiped his hand across Sirius chest, thumb rubbing over a nipple. "What do you think these are for, hmm?"
Sirius jumped away from the touch. "Not for that! They are—there for other things. You know, sexual things."
Remus let out a peal of laughter. "Oh, Padfoot."
"You're an arse," Sirius grumbled and crossed his arms over his chest. He turned his back to Remus, studying the fine grain of the wood that made up the door frame.
"Come on, don't be like that." Remus reached for his waist and tugged.
Reluctantly, Sirius allowed himself to be pulled against Remus, but he refused to turn around. "Hmph."
Wrapping his arms around Sirius' waist, Remus turned both of them so that they looked into the other room again, where Draco was still feeding the baby. Harry had sat back down on the bed and appeared rather enthralled with watching his husband and daughter.
"So," Sirius began. "If—if the amulet had continued to work, and everything would have gone fine, you would've also, you know, done that?"
Remus nuzzled his neck. "Maybe. Probably."
"You would have?"
Remus hummed his acknowledgement.
"Is that some sort of...wolfish instinct coming through?" Sirius clung to that hope.
"I don't know. It's possible. But considering Draco isn't a werewolf..." Remus trailed off.
"Okay, enough of this. Change of subject."
"You might want to get used to the sight. I doubt Draco's going to leave the room every time the baby's hungry, and certainly not while he's recovering from surgery."
Sirius wriggled out of Remus' arms, overcome with the need to pace. "Then we'll just have to time our visits accordingly. I'm sure you don't want to add even more trauma to my life. Let me know when he's done so we can knock."
Remus nodded without looking at him, eyes fixed on the scene beyond the door.
Sirius marched across the room (three steps), and back to where Remus stood (four steps, inexplicably), and back across (three steps again). He repeated the little loop about twenty times before Remus waved his wand at the door, ending the spell.
"Do you want to do the honour?" Remus asked, pointing at the door.
Sirius knocked a bit too enthusiastically.
Harry opened the door. His mouth formed a surprised "oh," immediately followed by a guilty slump of his shoulders. "I'm so sorry! I completely forgot you were waiting out here. It hasn't been too long, has it?"
"Don't worry about it," Sirius replied. "We're about to head home, unless we can see the baby?"
"Oh, yes, I think that should be all right..." Harry looked back over his shoulder. Draco nodded. "Yeah, come in. She's just finished eating, and is about to fall asleep, or maybe she's already asleep, I'm not sure," Harry rambled as he led them over to the bed. Draco had propped the baby up against his shoulder.
Sirius noted with relief that Draco had put on a pajama top. He wasn't sure if he could have held back a comment about "Mummy Malfoy" if he'd been confronted with some direct evidence of the crime, so-to-speak.
He switched his attention to the baby, studying the little face and hands sticking out from tightly bundled cloth and had to agree with Remus about the red and wrinkly state of newborns. Yet, he felt the same jolt of excitement he remembered from seeing Harry for the first time.
"Well, hello there," he said softly, leaning down to take a closer look.
"How are you feeling?" Remus asked Draco.
"Very grateful for every pain-subduing potion ever invented," came the tired response.
"Yes, I can imagine," Remus replied. "She's got quite a bit of hair already. Reminds me of a certain someone right after he was born." He smiled warmly at Harry, who beamed.
Sirius nodded. "I've noticed that myself, Moony." He'd collect his prize money later, or maybe he'd suggest Remus could repay him with various favours.
"Would you like to hold her?" Draco looked back and forth between Remus and Sirius.
Sirius glanced at Remus, relieved to see a fond expression on his face, rather than the anguish he'd feared to discover. Of course that didn't necessarily mean that Remus felt completely at ease about the question; rather, whatever pain there was, he'd managed to hide it away under layers of self-control and determination.
"I would," Remus said quietly. "But I think I should sit down."
"Here," Harry summoned a chair from across the room.
Remus sat down, and Sirius stood next to him, his side pressed up against Remus' shoulder. His hand settled on his back, a casual touch that could become an anchor should Remus need it.
Harry gathered up his daughter. With a warm smile, he asked, "You remember how to hold her?"
"I believe so," Remus whispered and carefully took the baby from Harry.
Sirius noted that she was barely big enough to properly fit into Remus' arms. "Have you decided on a name yet?" He watched as Remus' fingers stroked over the fine dark hair and across her cheek.
"We've narrowed it down to a few," Draco replied.
Sirius crouched down next to Remus. He leaned into him under the pretence of moving closer to the baby. Remus subtly shifted closer as well. "Let's see if this works..." He gently nudged the tiny fist, pleased when it opened and subsequently closed around his fingers. He laughed. "You did the same thing, Harry."
"Erm, I think all babies do," Harry said slowly. He had sat down on the bed again and was loosely holding Draco's hand.
"Thanks for ruining the idea that you and your daughter are somehow special," Sirius replied.
special, Padfoot," Remus murmured.
Sirius sobered a little. "Of course. You know what I meant."
Harry cleared his throat, drawing all eyes to him. "There's something Draco and I wanted to ask you." He paused. "We were wondering if you would be her godparents."
Sirius blinked. Remus seemed just as stunned, but recovered faster. "What about Ron and Hermione? I would have thought that..."
Sirius nodded. He had assumed the same thing.
"We considered asking them," Harry replied. "But they already have two children of their own—"
"With some more on the way anytime now," Draco interrupted.
"Yeah, and so we thought—my parents trusted you with me, and—will you?"
Sirius and Remus exchanged looks. Were they tempting fate by starting down a path they'd tried to go on before? Or was this an entirely different situation, even if it seemed remarkably similar? Sirius could tell that Remus was on the brink of ignoring those questions and forging ahead because he was ready to protect and care for this child just as much as they'd been ready to do the same for Harry years ago. He tried not to think about how that chance had been denied to them. Remus gave him the slightest nod, and a smile spread across Sirius' face.
"Yes," he said. "We will."