Harry was screaming. Red-faced from exertion and his nose streaming with snot, no amount of bouncing or shushing would soothe him. He’d had his nappy changed, a bottle brought to him and six kinds of toys waved in front of him, but there was no stopping this tantrum.
At least they could be certain that surviving the Killing Curse hadn’t affected his lungs. Ted had said there was nothing obvious that he could pick up, apart from the scar on his forehead, and certainly nothing dangerous. Hearing him say that was enough to calm James for the moment, there was more to it he was sure, but he trusted Ted’s judgement and skills so it would be better if he set aside any of his fears for the time being and focused on calming down his son. The scar was a constant worry at the back of his mind, but if he let it get the better of him he’d go mad with panic over its meaning, cause and effect.
James tapped his back gently and continued talking to him, trying to tell him a story over the crying, but he might as well have been reading from the phone book for all Harry cared.
Ted gave him an understanding smile as he conversed quietly with Emmeline Vance who had been watching Harry for the past two hours. Remus sat beside James faithfully, occasionally reaching out to stroke Harry’s hair or hold his little hands when it looked like he might rain a beating down on his father.
Sirius was huddled up on a conjured bed in the corner, snoring fitfully. James had convinced him to let himself be checked over for injuries and Ted had insisted on him being placed under an enchanted sleep. No dreams to creep insidiously into what James supposed to possibly the only rest he’d had in days. He looked untroubled and content and if it was the only relief James could offer right now, he’d as sooner send Sirius to sleep until he’d forgotten everything that had happened.
“He’s not usually like this, is he?” Remus asked anxiously, frowning with concern. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been around to see him, but he’s not usually such a terror.”
James sighed. “He likes his routine. I shouldn’t have woken him up.”
Switching Harry to his left arm and turning him around so that he was facing outwards, Harry’s screams became almost ear piercing. James started to bounce him on his knee and leaned over as far as he could to kiss Harry on his hairy head, still a little stiff and sore from the effects of a house falling in on him. “Can you see Uncle Sirius?” he asked Harry, using that ridiculous voice all parents acquire when they have kids, always made him feel stupid when he used it in public but Harry seemed to like the tone of it anyway and he was too tired and too relieved to really care what he said or did right now. “When he’s awake maybe if you’ve been good he’ll take you up on his bike again.” Harry had always loved Sirius’ bike, after months of begging, Lily had agreed to let Sirius take him for a ride when he was around eleven months, he’d fallen asleep five minutes into the ride and long abandoning any sort of worry for her child’s safety, Lily had often called Sirius in the middle of the night to come over and take Harry for a ride.
James smiled at the thought, Sirius had grumbled about it but he’d always grinned when Harry was handed to him and came down with a proud ear to ear smile when he returned Harry to his mother’s arms, fast asleep.
Of course he’ never missed the opportunity to snipe at Lily’s mothering skills, to which she’d always responded that he was welcome to take Harry for a week and then judge her. He remembered standing outside in their pyjamas, rugged up against the cold, her head resting against his shoulder sleepily as they watched Sirius and Harry zip across the night sky, the moon and stars as their backdrop.
Remus vainly tried to play peek-a-boo with him; Harry stopped crying for a second, confused but resumed screaming as soon as Remus had revealed himself.
James grinned wryly at him. “Reckon it might have been your snoz. Torture the poor kid by hiding it only to scare him to death by revealing it again. Heartless bastard that you are…oops, sorry mate,” he said, tousling Harry’s hair. Not that it mattered: his mum wasn’t around to scold him for corrupting their son anymore.
Remus gave him a polite half smile and shifted in his chair, stretching out legs that were unused to being stationary for so long.
James rubbed his eyes beneath his glasses and yawned; the front of his robes were soaked with dribble, tears and snot and Harry continued to slap at his hands and arms, packing quite the punch for a fifteen month old. Deciding now was as good a time as any and about as much privacy as he could hope for, James turned a little to regard his friend.
“What’s all this about being detained?” he asked, suspecting the answer but wanting to know the details.
Remus shifted in his chair uncomfortably and didn’t meet James’ eyes. “Not now, James.”
“It’s as good a time as any,” James replied smoothly. “And Harry won’t tell, not unless his first sentence is something long and ridiculously complex in which case I give you leave to say ‘I told you so’. He’s too busy trying to wake up all of St. Mungo’s, anyway.”
Remus didn’t smile; he crossed his arms defensively and looked at the floor.
“Please Remus,” James pressed.
Remus sighed and wiped his hand across his mouth. It took a moment for him to say anything but once he’d started, it came out in a breathless wave. “I went to your house. I’d heard…reports, rumours that something had happened and I went to see if…if it was true. You and Harry had already gone, but Lily was…Lily was still there. I think they were afraid to touch her. The Aurors said…” he trailed off and his eyes glazed over, he coughed and came back to himself. “They didn’t trust me and decided to take me in for questioning, but they wouldn’t tell me where you were. Or Harry. I was released after they’d caught Sirius,” the words came out awkward and stumbling, not making sense as he said them but James knew him well enough to understand him exactly. Remus breathed and started to pick at his fraying robes. “That’s all.”
That’s all. Sure it was. ‘Questioning’. James had seen how the Ministry questioned suspected Death Eaters and it was little more than torture. He sat very still for a moment, worried that his next reaction might be something very violent and worried that Harry might accidentally be forgotten in what could only be described as a pressing need to kick something very hard.
He tried to ignore the image of Lily lying still in the ruins of their house, crowds of people staring at her. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what she looked like, but in his mind’s eye her red hair and green eyes are vivid as ever, staring at him blank yet somehow accusatory.
“Are you okay?” he asked instead, grinding his teeth noisily and wondering if all this rage was unhealthy or expected. Remus could probably tell him, the answer had to be in one of his seven million books.
Remus looked at James very seriously for a minute. “I’m better now,” he said quietly and reached one thin finger to poke Harry in the stomach who reacted by swinging around to look at the owner of the finger and then proceeded to slap at him mightily. Squeezing his eyes shut tightly, tears leaking out and running into snot and spit and it all ended up on James’ knee. He didn’t care, far too happy that Harry was well enough to chuck his little temper tantrum and grateful that he’d been given plenty more chances at getting this father thing down. He really didn’t like thinking about how close he’d come to losing Harry as well.
There were things that Remus wasn’t telling him, but the truth had a way of finding its way to the surface and for now the confessions could wait a little longer. He wasn’t sure there’d ever be a good time for them, but with Harry squirming and sulking in his lap, now didn’t appear to be convenient for comforting gestures at the very least.
The three of them were hurting from the fallout of recent events, all shattered and licking their wounds in their respective corners. He understood why Sirius had closed himself up and why Remus shied away from talking about what had happened to him under interrogation, he knew because he was doing the same and guarding his hurt fiercely, sure that no one would understand and unsure that he would even be able to talk about it. Ever.
A/N: Another chapter up. Title belongs to Bowie this time. Anywho, thank you for all the brilliant reviews I've received, I've said it a couple of times, but I really enjoy writing this and to know that I have other people enjoying it too (even my silent readers - who are also brilliant, thanks for reading, hope you like it and keep up the good work), it validates my existence like nothing else :P
I was trying to figure out what my best review was for a thread the other day, but I cam to the conclusion that I have at leats 10 or so regular reviewers who leave the most intelligent and comprehensive reviews ever. So - yeah, thanks for that.
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