Chapter 5 : Settling In and Sharing
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Settling In and Sharing
When Harry and Severus arrived upstairs, Harry made a right down the hall, explaining that the nursery was down here and so was the bathroom. This was so that Severus didn't need to worry if he had to use the bathroom at night. He wouldn't have far to go, as it was right next door.
Severus glanced around, this part of the house seemed familiar to him, though he wasn't sure why. He squirmed slightly, he wasn't used to being held and carried at all, and for some unknown reason he was getting a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach. But he said nothing, not wishing Harry-Potter-to think he was a coward.
Then they entered the nursery, which had once been Harry's as a baby. He and Ginny had fixed the roof and the rest of the upper floor after it had been blown to bits by Voldemort's miscast Killing Curse. Ginny had decorated it with lambs and moons and stars when Alby was a baby, they had since changed the walls to reflect Alby's new interests, which were books and jungle animals. There was a small bookshelf with colorful picture books and a large toybox against one wall. Alby's small bed was covered with a blue comforter with roaring lions, tigers, and giraffes that just touched the floor.
In the opposite corner was an old cot, it was the only relic left of Harry's forgotten childhood in Godric's Hollow, and Harry had fixed it up and used it when his son was born. Now Alby had outgrown it but Ginny had left it in the nursery just in case she was expecting again. Harry had planned to Transfigure it into a small bed for Severus.
"Here you go, Severus," he said, smiling at the boy in his arms. "This is Alby's room and as you can see, it's big enough to share—"
Severus had gone rigid in Harry's arms as soon as he caught sight of the cot.
He recognized that object instantly, as he had tripped over it upon rushing to kneel next to Lily's still form that long ago Halloween night. He would-could-never forget that awful instant, and though the nursery had been altered, Severus still recognized it as the room where he had found his beloved Lily dead on the floor.
The sight triggered one of the worst flashbacks he had ever had.
His eyes widened and he whimpered pathetically, fixed upon the upright cot in the corner, the last time he had seen that cot it had been overturned on its side and next to it had been Lily . . ."NO!" he wailed, but was unable to stop the memory from crashing over him.
Because Harry had once been linked to him before his death, he pulled the other wizard into his memory as well, and for the first time Harry experienced what it had meant for Severus to discover his mother lying so still on the floor, like a broken doll stamped on by a vengeful wicked child. . .
Severus paused but an instant on the threshold of the nursery, his eyes taking in everything—the overturned cot, the forgotten green blanket upon the floor, and the still form of the green-eyed witch lying next to it.
Her wand was still in her hand, as if she had fought till her last breath to protect her child. Her auburn hair spilled across the floor in a crimson swath, like blood, though the Killing Curse left no outward mark. Her face pale and cold as ice, her eyes dark and unseeing, gazing now upon a world no one living had ever seen.
His eyes knew the truth, but his heart cried out in denial. This could not be happening. Not to his Lily. . .the one good thing in his life.
He raced over to kneel next to her, stumbling over the cot in his haste to reach her. She looked as if she but slept . . . and all he had to do was touch her in order to wake her up . . . but a single touch revealed that she was cold . . . as cold as the grave . . . and something shattered deep inside of him then.
He picked up her lifeless body and cradled it close, as he had longed to do so many times. . .
That only now, when she was beyond feeling anything ever again, now he could hold her close and whisper in her ear that he loved her . . . always.
He shook soundlessly with terrible wracking sobs, for a grief that was raw and all consuming, that he could not give vent to save by this terrible silent mourning.
"Lily . . . Lily . . . come back . . . come back to me . . ." he screamed over and over inside of his head, unable to deny the inevitable any longer.
He had failed . . . failed her, failed himself, failed her small son . . . Now she was gone and he was left alone . . . alone with the shattered pieces of his heart, which nothing could ever mend again . . .a love unfulfilled and a sorrow too deep for tears . . .
Somehow, Harry managed to wrench himself out of swirling maelstrom of despair, grief, and self-loathing. He had never expected such a reaction from the small dark-haired boy huddled against his shoulder to the sight of his former nursery. He had never even considered that Severus might still remember this room. But now he did, and he trembled with the force of the other's emotions. He felt his own heart break for the former professor, as he realized that Severus had mourned his lost love alone, sharing his feelings with no one. At least he [Harry] had had Ginny, Ron, and Hermione, the other Weasleys, and Remus to comfort him in his grief over Sirius and others.
But who had Severus had?
Harry gently pulled Severus around, sitting on the floor, and forced the child to look up at him.
"Severus, look at me . . . listen to me . . ." he began, drawing his wand. "I'm sorry . . . I always knew you loved her, but not . . . oh, God, this hurts so much..." Gritting his teeth against the battering waves of grief that surged against his mind, he managed to put up his Occlumency shields and then he placed the tip of his wand against Severus' temple.
Abruptly, the boy jerked away. "No! Don't make me forget! I don't want to forget her!"
"Shhh. I'd never do that," Harry reassured him, gently. "Not to you. I just want you to stop remembering for the moment, Severus. Just for now. I'm going to help you Occlude your mind. Just like you tried to teach me back in fifth year. . . "
Harry muttered something and slipped into Severus' mind, working quickly to isolate and cordon off the memory of his mother's death.
In a few minutes, Severus was free of the terrible memory, it had been safely Occluded away. "There! Feel better now?"
Severus slowly nodded. He then burst into tears, his child's psyche not able to handle the raw grief he had just experienced. But even at five, he knew not to make much noise as he cried, for he still recalled what happened to noisy little brats who woke his daddy crying over nothing.
Tears rolled down his cheeks and Harry instinctively pressed him against his shoulder, rocking him slightly and murmuring, "It's okay, Severus. Someday it'll be okay. When she comes back."
Severus said nothing, he just clung to Harry and cried, all of the tears he had never shed over twenty years ago came pouring out of him.
Harry continued to bear the deluge without complaint, in fact he shed several tears of his own for the mother he never knew.
"You're not alone," he found himself saying to the poor child in his arms. "Not ever again. I promise."
His own emotions were ragged and sore from that moment of sharing, and he wondered how in hell the Potions Master had ever managed to bear the depth of that grief for so many years alone . . .He was, indeed, truly the bravest man-boy?-person-Harry had ever known.
Harry held the stricken child for a long time, not saying anything further.
While he held Severus, he flicked his wand at the cot, cursing himself for not Transfiguring it first thing, and it morphed into a small sturdy bed made of oak with a green and silver coverlet and plump pillow. Then he relaxed and just let the child cry himself out. At last Severus stopped sobbing soundlessly and sat up. Harry's shoulder was damp but he didn't care.
Severus looked at Harry and said, "Forgive me. I . . . I didn't mean to lose control like that . . . I . . ."
Harry was astonished. "You're sorry?" he asked, shocked. "For what? For crying over someone you loved? There's nothing wrong with that, Severus. Nothing at all."
A grimace contorted the boy's features as he whispered, "My father would disagree."
Harry stiffened. "Yeah, well, the old bastard's dead," he growled. "Here, in this house, you can cry all you want to and I'll never punish you for it, Severus. I'm sorry I didn't think ahead and remove the damn crib before bringing you up here. I should have known . . ."
Severus shook his head. "How could you? I've never . . . I've never told anyone about that night, not even Albus knew the full story!" he sniffled, reached up to wipe his nose, and then said plaintively, "Do you have a handkerchief?"
"Uh, sure." Harry groped in a pocket and found a rather crumpled one and handed it to Severus, who immediately scrubbed his face and blew his nose.
"Um . . . you know, Severus, if you have any other memories that are . . . bothering...you," Harry said gently. "We could put them in a Pensieve for you. So then you wouldn't have nightmares or something. If you like, I can borrow the Pensieve in the Headmistress's office and place them inside it. Would you like that?"
Severus thought a moment. "Yes," he said, quietly. " That's a good idea, Potter. There are many memories that . . . I'd rather not deal with at the moment. Memories of . . . my father and . . . the Dark Lord . . ."
"I understand," Harry told him sympathetically. "I'll get the Pensieve from Professor McGonagall first thing tomorrow, and we can go shopping for some things for you this afternoon."
The little boy nodded solemnly. "All right. But there's just one thing."
"I get to pick out my own clothes," Severus told him, firmly. " I am not a baby, Potter, contrary to my size. I don't need you to choose for me."
Harry chuckled at the former Potions Master's stubborness. "Okay," he agreed, "but only on one condition."
Severus lifted an eyebrow. "What would that be?" he asked apprehensively.
Harry smirked. "You don't pick out all black clothing. You have to pick out some colored ones, too."
"Very well," he agreed, heaving a 'if I must' sigh. "I only wore black because a Potion Master's robes tend to get dirty and sticky so often and black takes the protective and cleaning charms better than any other color, and because I was in mourning."
"I never knew that!" Harry exclaimed, his eyebrows shooting up in astonishment.
Severus shrugged. "Now you do," he said simply and bluntly.
"Uh . . .yeah," Harry said, hesitantly. "Why don't you go and wash your face and then you can. . .lay down for a bit? See, I've made up a bed for you, and then we can go shopping after lunch."
"I am . . . not hungry," whispered Severus, his stomach clenching at the mere thought of food right then.
He turned and went next door to the bathroom, where he washed all traces of tears from his face.
He felt himself flush in embarrassment, he had never allowed anyone to see him cry, not even Albus Dumbledore, yet Harry-Potter-had seen him cry twice in one morning! The cool water made him feel better and he yawned, for his outburst had exhausted him . . . as had coming through the Veil. Drying his face, he entered the nursery again, and this time noted with relief that the crib was gone and in its place was a small bed just his size. Harry was standing next to it, he had turned back the covers.
Severus hesitated before climbing in, and blinked as Harry tucked him in. "You don't need to . . ." he began.
"I always tuck in Alby," Harry said quietly. "You're part of my family now, Severus, and I'm not going to slight you because you're not my blood relation."
"Thank you," Severus whispered, and blinked away more traitorous tears. He didn't know what was the matter with him. He was sure that Harry-Potter-was just saying that to be nice, that he didn't really mean it. How could he? No one had wanted him since Eileen Prince had died when he was sixteen.
Still, it would be nice if it were true. He yawned again and closed his eyes, drifting off to sleep in seconds.
Harry watched as the exhausted child succumbed to sleep before gently brushing a lock of hair away from Severus' face. He had never thought such grief could exist inside one person, but now that he knew, he was determined to make the former professor's second life one with more laughter than tears. Somehow...
Over lunch, which was hamburgers and chips, Alby's favorite, Harry drew Ginny aside and told her what had occurred upstairs with Severus.
"It . . . was awful, Gin. I never even thought about what it might do to him, seeing that cot again . . . I feel so guilty . . ."
"Harry, how could you have known?" Ginny asked him pointedly. "The professor... Severus... always kept things so close, all bottled up inside . . . you ought to know that better than anyone. He only shared his memories when he was dying. It's going to take time, Harry, for him to trust us fully. Remember, up till now he's had no one he could really confide in or that was there for him."
"I know, but it is going to change." Harry said determinedly.
"Yes, it is," said Ginny, then she hugged him. "Let's eat before the food gets cold."
They returned to the table, where Alby had almost finished his little hamburger, ketchup smeared all over his face. "Daddy, where's Sev'rus?"
"He's asleep, buddy," Harry explained to his son.
"Don't he want lunch?" Alby asked, perplexed how anyone could possibly pass up hamburgers and chips...
"He was very tired, so Mum and I decided to let him take a nap," Harry told the four year old. " When we're finished with lunch, we're going shopping."
"Where?" Alby asked, his eyes growing excited. "At Diagon Alley?"
"Yes," Ginny told him, smiling. They both knew how much Alby loved Diagon Alley.
"Can we go in the book shop? An' the toy store?" begged Alby, hopefully.
"First we need to get Severus some clothes, then we'll see about the toy and book stores," Ginny said, gently cleaning her son's face with a damp cloth.
Alby clapped enthusiastically, sending his half-finished plate flying onto the floor. Pieces of bun and chips scattered all over.
"Oops! Sorry, Mummy. It was an ac-ac- a mistake." Alby apologized, fretful. He no doubt saw his chance to get a new toy flying out the window faster than an owl.
"Oh, Alby!" Ginny groaned, then cleaned up the mess with a wave of her wand.
Harry merely grinned, taking a bite of his hamburger to cover it up. Their son was going through a spilling phase and nearly every mealtime ended with something getting knocked over or spilled.
"I didn't mean to!" Alby told her, close to tears. Ginny could never stay mad at him with that look.
"I know. I'm not mad at you." She went and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Then she went to sit down and eat her own lunch.
Once they had reached Diagon Alley, flooing into the Leaky Cauldron with Ginny holding Alby and Harry carrying Severus, Harry quickly hurried out the door, not wanting to answer any awkward questions. He knew eventually people would have to be told about his new "son" but he wanted to pick when and where, and how as well. The press had finally quit hounding him and he could now go out in public without fear of a reporter tailing him, demanding he tell the latest details of his life to the public.
Once they were on the street, Severus asked to be put down. "I have legs and can walk."
Harry set him down, then said, "I know, but please hold my hand. I don't want to lose you in the crowd."
The former Potions Master rolled his eyes, but did place his hand in Harry's large one. He knew all too well what sort of creepy characters sometimes lurked in alleys, waiting to snatch up an unguarded child to sell on the black market or use in experiments.
Ginny led them right to Kristoph's Kreations, a clothing store that catered to children of all ages, before they went to Hogwarts, that is. It was next to Madam Malkin's and Trimelda's Toy Exchange. Alby sighed longingly at the toy store display but didn't protest when Ginny walked past it and into the clothing store. He knew better than to demand toys. Such spoiled behavior was not tolerated by either of his parents.
As promised, they allowed Severus to choose his own style and colors of clothing, with a few suggestions from Harry and Ginny.
To their surprise, they found that Severus preferred more casual clothing for everyday wear, though Ginny did buy him a small set of dress robes in a deep green trimmed with gold and a matching silky shirt and pants along with small soft leather shoes. Harry learned that Severus liked not only green, but blue—deep indigo, royal blue, even turquoise. He also liked gray and chocolate brown or light tan, and preferred soft shoes with sturdy soles, comfortable boots, and white sneakers with green piping.
"I hate shoes that pinch and rub my feet," he told Harry seriously while he tried on different sizes and types. "I usually had one or two pairs of boots that I wore everyday, because there is nothing worse than trying to teach in ill-fitting shoes."
"I know what you mean," Harry laughed. "That's why I usually wear my old broken in loafers when I teach Defense."
Severus' eyebrows shot up. "You're a professor?" he asked, his mouth dropping open.
"Yes," Harry told him chuckling. " After a year as an Auror, I decided I really wasn't suited and the school needed a Defense professor so here I am. It's funny, but a lot of my yearmates became teachers." He told Severus the subjects that Neville, Luna, Ginny, Susan, Justin, Astoria, and Draco taught.
"Knew Draco had potential," was all Severus said, but then frowned. "How about Granger? Out of all of you, she is the one I would have thought most likely to teach."
"She's the Charms professor," Harry told him, grinning. "Flitwick finally retired."
Severus wiggled his feet in a pair of shoes, then stood up to walk about in them. Who would have thought the son of James Potter would become a teacher? He certainly had never thought Harry capable of the necessary discipline and dedication it took to teach disobedient brats every day.
"Do you like teaching?"
"Yes, I do," Harry told him, smiling even more. "I didn't think I would at first, but now . . . I really like it, except when I have students I want to throttle."
Severus smirked, recalling how many students he'd wanted to throttle over the years.
He came back to stand before Harry.
"These fit," he nodded down at the shoes.
"Good. Then you can wear them out," Harry said.
They picked out underclothes—Severus preferred black silky boxers but also simple briefs, too—socks, and pajamas and added them to growing pile of clothing. Ginny chose a silver handled comb with a green snake etched into it for Severus and one with a blue cat on it for Alby, so he wouldn't feel left out. Harry told the merchant to put it on his account, then he shrank all the packages and he and Ginny stuffed them into their robe pockets.
By then, Severus' stomach was growling as he had nothing to eat all day. But he said nothing, not wanting to be a burden.
Ginny looked down at him. "Are you hungry, Severus?"
Severus shrugged. "A little."
"Then," Harry said calmly, "We can stop for a bite to eat over at that café."
"Then can we go to the toy store, Mum?" pleaded Alby. "I wanna play with the trains." Besides books, paints, and animals, Alby was fascinated with trains.
Once Severus had something to eat, the Potters took the children into the toy store.
Alby immediately dragged Ginny over to the large model train display, and began to play with it.
Severus noticed that other children were also playing with it. He hardly glanced at it, however. Trains didn't interest him much, not the way books and potions did. Or a nice set of colored pencils and paper. He enjoyed sketching, and was a fair artist, at least when it came to replicating plants and animals. He obediently clung to Harry's hand, his gaze roving over the displays.
There was a large display of stuffed plush animals right across from the train alcove where Alby was playing with some other toddlers.
Severus found his eyes were drawn irresistibly towards it. He had always wanted a stuffed toy to sleep with as a child, but Tobias had refused to let him have one, claiming that was for sissy boys. There were all sorts of animals and birds on the display, dogs, cats, horses, lions, giraffes, monkeys, parrots, owls, hawks, eagles, even a raven.
It was that last that drew Severus' eye the most.
He had always wanted a raven familiar, but had never dared to search for one because of his duties as a double agent. He longed to hug the raven plushie, it looked soft as velvet, with real glassy eyes and a leather beak and feet that looked real. The bird was amazingly detailed, and looked as though it could fly off the shelf and perch upon his shoulder.
Harry caught Severus looking over at the display, it was the first time the boy had displayed interest in any of the toys and knelt down.
"Severus," he asked, knowing if he didn't the boy wouldn't speak up on his own. "Is there something you'd like to get?"
Severus looked down at his feet, unwilling to let Harry see the longing in his eyes. It was ridiculous, wishing for a stuffed toy, he might have a five-year-old body, but in his mind he was a grown man.
"No," Severus muttered. "I do not need any toys."
"If you like something, just tell me." Harry encouraged, all too familiar with the denial phase. That was something he had gotten much practice at growing up with Dudley. He'd convinced himself numerous times that he didn't really like something because he knew he would never get it and there was no sense in wishing for something he could never have.
Severus crossed his arms over his chest, scowling. "I'm a grown man, Potter. I don't need a stuffed raven, I need a potions kit and a lab!" But even as he spoke, his eyes drifted to the raven.
Harry ignored the other's indignant tone and walked over to the shelf and picked up the raven. It was the last one left.
"Here, Severus," Harry said softly. "Every kid needs a plush toy to sleep with, and even if part of you is still thirty-eight, there's another part that's five and well . . . here you go." He held out the plush toy.
Before he could stop himself, Severus' hands reached automatically for the raven. He clutched the velvety-soft bird close. His eyes found Harry's. "I . . . can have him?" he asked, not even realizing how childlike he sounded.
"He's all yours," Harry told him, firmly. "Matter of fact, when we get home, I can enchant him so he mimics you, like a real raven. You could tell him all your secrets or something and he'll never tell anyone else. Would you like that?"
Severus gave him a very tentative smile. "Very much so," he stroked the raven's soft 'feathers'. "I think . . . I'll call him Mimic."
Ginny finally managed to drag Alby away from the model Hogwarts Express, after buying him a tiny engine.
Then Alby grabbed Severus by the hand and led him over to the art section, where the two spent almost an hour picking out all kinds of paints, chalk, pencils, and drawing paper. Ginny also picked up several coloring books and paint by numbers.
They went to the book section, and Alby asked Severus if he could read yet.
"I can," the former Potions Master told him proudly. "I can teach you how."
Alby grinned. "I like having a big brudder!" he told him, hugging him.
Severus stiffened. He had never really been hugged like that before.
Tentatively, he put his arms around Alby and hugged him back, very gently.
A minute later, he had pulled away, muttering, "All right already! Enough with the touchy-feely stuff!"
Severus selected several books with Alby and promised to read one to him before bedtime.
Harry insisted upon buying Severus a child-sized cauldron and potions kit.
The five-year-old sputtered indignantly.
"Potter!" he informed the man, glaring. "I can use a standard cauldron, for Merlin's sake!"
Harry looked down at the pint-sized potions prodigy and said sternly, "Not right now you can't. You're too little to use one. From now on, you're going to have to ask permission before brewing anything, and promise me that you won't try and brew anything on your own."
Severus' eyes flashed in a familiar look of outrage.
"I'm a certified Potions Master!" he practically shouted. "And have been since before you were born!"
"You mean you were," Harry corrected firmly. "Right now you're physically five, Severus Tobias. Whether you like that fact or not doesn't change it."
"I still remember how to brew every potion," Severus insisted stubbornly.
"Let me put it to you this way," Harry said, keeping his voice to a whisper so no one could really hear him. "Would you let a five-year-old play with your potion ingredients and cauldron?"
"Of course not! It's too dangerous!" Severus snapped before he could think better of it.
"My point exactly." Harry said, concealing a grin. He knew this was one argument he was sure to win with his former professor. For once.
Severus sputtered and sulked, but had to admit that Harry's reasoning was sound. But he sure didn't have to like it! Not at all.
"What if I brew a potion anyway?" he grumbled rebelliously.
"Then you'll be banned from my lab for a week or more," Harry answered. "And maybe even get a few smacks, too."
"You're unbelievable!" Severus muttered, longing to throw up his hands. Imagine! He, the premiere Potions Master in all of Britain, not allowed to brew potions! He sulked a little as they made their way out of the store, Mimic held close.
Harry patted him on the head, understanding completely...but he still wasn't going to let Severus brew by himself.
Though he would never have admitted it, this made Severus feel a little bit better...
Lupin Residence, Godric's Hollow:
"Dora and I have decided to allow you all to share a room," Remus announced as he led Sirius up to the loft, which he had partitioned off originally to give each of his sons a room of their own.
But now with addition of Sirius, Dora and he had decided it would be easier on everyone if the boys all shared the loft. It would also get them used to sharing a room together, as they would do at Hogwarts.
The loft was large and roomy, with a tall wooden railing about the front portion which faced towards the front of the house. A blue and white bathroom was just down the hall, next to Remus and Dora's room, decorated with all kinds of sea creatures.
While Remus removed the wall separating Jamie's and Ted's bedrooms, Dora Transfigured Jamie's old rocking horse into a bed for Sirius, complete with a Snitch coverlet in white and gold. "There! How's that, Siri?"
Sirius whooped and threw himself on his new bed, bouncing up and down. "It's wicked awesome, Dora!"
Dora smiled, then busied herself enlarging the closet and chest of drawers so there would be enough room for Sirius' clothing.
Ted's half of the room had Quidditch posters all over it, while Jamie's had brooms and dragons. He wasn't, yet, half as Quidditch mad as his older brother.
Sirius' bed was inbetween the two Lupin boys and Dora had cleared a space on the wall for him to decorate as he chose. She knew from stories told to her by her mother, that Sirius hadn't really been allowed to decorate his room as he had wished growing up with his mother and father. Mrs. Black had insisted he keep his room a certain way, to reflect upon their ancient and Noble Name, which meant no Quidditch posters or rock star posters. Dora figured that giving Sirius permission to express himself now would lead to less rebelliousness later on when he was an adolescent.
"You can decorate the wall behind your bed any way you like, Siri," she told her miniature cousin.
"I can?" the boy cried, smirking.
"Any way that's appropriate for a seven-year-old," Remus amended swiftly, knowing all too well what that smirk meant.
"You ruin all my fun, Moony!" the other groaned, sighing dramatically.
"I'll go and make some lunch, shall I?" Tonks suggested.
"Please do. I'm starving." Remus said.
"Me too, Mum!" Jamie said. "I want cheese and pickle sandwiches."
"We had that last time," Ted cried. "It's my turn to pick. I want chicken nuggets and chips."
Familiar with this argument, Remus said, "Sirius, since it's your first day here, why don't you choose the lunch menu?"
"Uh . . . all right. We can have my favorite . . .hot roast beef with gravy and mashed potatoes."
Both Lupin boys looked pleased about that. "Sounds good to me," Ted grinned.
"I'll leave you three to get settled in," Remus said. "After lunch, we'll stop by Granny Dromeda's and introduce her to you, Sirius."
"Granny makes the bestest shortbread!" Jamie told his new brother.
"I know. I remember," Sirius smiled.
"Well, I hope you also remember not to stuff yourselves full of sweets because later on tonight we're going to the Weasleys for Victory Day and you know Aunt Molly always has lots of food." Remus reminded.
"Will Snivellus be there?" asked Sirius, impudently.
"Yes, Sirius. Severus will be there and I expect you to behave yourself. Which includes not calling him that name."
"But I always called him that in school, Moony!" objected Sirius.
Remus knelt so he was looking right into Sirius' eyes.
"Sirius," he told him, his face extremely stern. " I want to get one thing clear right now. What you used to do and what you ought to have done are two different things. It wasn't funny, it was cruel, and this time around you're going to treat Severus differently."
"He's still a greasy git!" Sirius told him, pouting.
"No, he's not," Remus lectured firmly. "He's a little boy just like you and the quicker you get that through your head, the better this will be."
Sirius glared mutinously. This was a side of his old friend he had never seen before-well, maybe, upon occasion...but not often.
"Now," Remus told him. "I want you to be polite and civil to him, and if not you'll spend the rest of tonight with your nose to a wall while the other kids play and have a good time."
"Aw, Remus," Sirius whined. "Come on!"
"I mean it, Sirius Orion," Remus glared, forbiddingly. "Now, are you going to behave?"
"If you don't, you'll be in big trouble," warned Jamie, who had learned the hard way never to test his father when he used that particular tone.
Sirius wanted shrug and say he was used to being in trouble, but then changed his mind. He didn't want to be punished on his first day back and there was something about Remus now that suggested he wouldn't hesitate to do what he said, unlike the shy quiet boy he'd gone to school with.
"Okay. I'll be good," Sirius agreed, sighing. For a little while, anyway...
"Glad to hear it. I'm going to go and help Dora," Remus turned and went downstairs, leaving the three boys alone to get acquainted.
Ted cocked his head at his "new" brother and asked, "How come you call my dad Moony?"
"Yeah, how come?" Jamie chimed in.
"Uh . . .I don't know . . . it used to be his nickname a long time ago and my . . .uh...my dad used to call him it, and he said I could." Sirius managed to come up with a plausible explanation.
"Where's your dad?" was Ted's next question.
"He died," Sirius told him, shrugging.
"How?" asked Jamie, his eyes wide.
"Heart attack," Sirius replied, smirking. It was true, after all.
"How about your mum?" Teddy asked, curiously. "Did she die too?"
"Yeah," Sirius said, nodding. And good riddance, too!
"That's too bad," Jamie said, sadly. "Is that why you're our new brother?"
"Yeah." Abruptly, Sirius switched the subject, not wanting to talk about his parents anymore.
"So . . . what's your favorite store in Diagon Alley?"
"Quality Quidditch Supplies!" both boys said in the same breath.
Sirius grinned. "Me too! But I also like the joke shop, Gambles and Japes. Ever been in there?"
"Uh huh. We went there a few times, but Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes is much cooler," said Ted. "That's the joke shop run by our cousin, George."
"A new joke shop?" Sirius' eyes grew very bright. "I can't wait to go in it! We're going to have such fun, boys! I know practically every prank there is."
"Cool! Will you teach us?" Jamie asked eagerly.
"Sure I will, pal. I'll teach you all I know." Sirius promised, sensing he had some very eager students. Then he lowered his voice even further. "You know what else? I'm an Animagus."
Jamie wrinkled his nose. "What's that?"
"Watch." Sirius concentrated.
Then he blurred into a gangly black mutt, all long ears and tail. He thumped his tail on the floor happily, glad that he still remembered how to transform. He wondered if Jamie could learn again, and if Ted could also, considering he was also a metamorphmagus.
"Wow!" Ted grinned.
"Bloody hell!" Jamie gasped.
Ted elbowed him in the ribs. "Don't swear! Else Dad'll and Mum'll wash out your mouth."
"Sorry! Don't tell!" Jamie begged.
"I won't. I'm not a tattletale," Ted rolled his eyes. His hair changed from its normal brown to purple.
Sirius transformed back and said, "See? I can become a dog. Pretty neat, huh?"
"Awesome! Can you teach us how too?" asked Jamie wistfully.
"Well . . . maybe not till you're older," Sirius hedged. "It takes a lot more concentration to change forms."
"Oh. But you can teach me how to fly, right?"
"I can teach you that," Ted put in, feeling a bit usurped in his brotherly duties by this new kid.
"I can fly real good now, Aunt Ginny said so."
"Great, because then we can play Quidditch together," Sirius said quickly.
Then he said softly, "Just remember, don't tell your mum and dad that I can change into a dog, okay? It's not something I want them to know about just yet. It'll be our secret, okay?"
"Okay. Wild hippogriffs couldn't drag it outta me," Ted said solemnly.
"Me too," piped up Jamie.
They all shook hands to seal the promise.
Sirius concealed a grin.
Despite Remus' supposed rules, he knew this life was going to be a lot better than his previous one. After all, here he was the son of a Marauder and had a former Marauder as his brother and another in the making. What could be better than that? It would certainly be a far cry from the way his strict parents had raised him before, with all their insistence on proper behavior and bloodlines and all that rot. Oh, sure, Remus would try to act strict, but Sirius knew how to wrap him about his little finger without half-trying. The only thing he wished for now was that Snape had stayed dead, because who needed the greasy git anyhow?
Just then Dora's voice floated up the stairs, calling them down for lunch.
All three boys made a beeline for the stairs and slid down the banister, whooping like a pack of wild things. The Lupin household had now gotten even noisier, it seemed...
A/N: Snapegirlkmf says: Hope you all liked, please let me know what you think.
Next-Vicotry Day dinner turns a bit nasty with a brawl at the Burrow!
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