Chapter Eleven: Of Second Attempts
Harry slowly opened his eyes. He had not meant to close them in the first place, but after the blow he had received his head must have had a somewhat different opinion on that matter. Still had, judged from the pounding in his ears and the pulsating pain in his head.
He didn't know how long he had been out cold, but the fact that the last thing he remembered was being at the Quidditch pitch, and now he found himself in a Hogwarts infirmary bed told him that some time seemed to have passed. And somebody seemed to have moved him up here. But who? Sirius?
And then it all came rushing back. Sirius, Wormtail, their fighting, Remus…
Harry sat bolt upright in his bed – a movement he immediately regretted as the world began to spin and his stomach jerked – and looked around the room. Madam Pomfrey was nowhere to be seen, and no other bed seemed to be occupied except from one. The bed next to his own was used, but the only other bed that seemed to be currently in use was on the opposite side of the room. Remus'. The curtains around his bed were closed.
Harry swung his feet out of the bed and tried to stand up. Of course he could have waited for Madam Pomfrey or he could have called for help, but at the moment he didn't have any patience left for waiting. All his thoughts were circling around Sirius and Remus, and he needed to find out what had happened to them. He needed to know what had happened to Sirius and he needed to know if Remus...if Snape's potion had helped, or not.
Harry was swaying on his feet, and he quickly realized that the journey to the other bed would become more difficult than he had anticipated, but still he refused to call for help.
Putting one foot in front of the other, Harry slowly made his way down the infirmary ward. With his right hand he was holding his balance on the foot boards of the beds he passed.
Crossing the aisle towards the other side of the ward was a bit more complicated, there was nothing for Harry to hold onto. He swayed dangerously and twice he nearly fell, but after some horribly long minutes he had managed it.
In all the strain of reaching the other bed, Harry had not heard that somebody was talking behind the curtains. Harry carefully glimpsed around.
Sirius was sitting in a chair next to Remus' bed and was talking to him in a low voice. It was the same position he had been sitting in yesterday (had it been yesterday? What time was it, anyway?), one hand holding Remus', the other combing through the sandy brown hair. Harry couldn't understand what Sirius was saying, but it sounded like the same reassuring phrases he had already whispered to him yesterday. Remus eyes were closed and he still looked just like he had done when Harry had first seen him here in the infirmary.
Harry closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, trying to will down the tears that were threatening to fall. It had not worked. Snape's potion seemed to have failed, otherwise Remus would be awake by now, wouldn't he? Remus just *had* to survive this, he couldn't die because of Wormtail. Not him, too. Harry didn't want to believe it, it just couldn't be. Remus had to be alive and well, otherwise…well, otherwise Sirius would be devastated and Harry himself would not be better.
he looked back to the two adults, Harry saw Sirius lift himself off his chair,
just enough to bend over Remus. He gently pressed his lips down onto the other
man's forehead in a kiss. When he sat back in his chair, Harry nearly fell over
in surprise. Remus smiled. Remus actually smiled. And a moment later, he lowly
whispered something to Sirius. His godfather nodded and whispered back a reply,
a slight smile on his face.
Harry closed his eyes and let out a breath he had been holding for far too long. Remus was awake, had been awake the whole time while Sirius had been talking to him. Remus was awake. That surely meant he'd make it, didn't it? It simply had to.
When he opened his eyes again, he found himself looking into a tired pair of amber orbs. Sirius, following Remus' gaze, looked at Harry and immediately jumped up from his chair.
He hurried to his godson's side and put a supporting arm around his waist. With quite some surprise Harry realized that he was shaking badly, nearly collapsing right where he stood. He hadn't even realized just how much his little excursion had strained him.
"Harry, come on over here. Geez, you're freezing!"
Sirius led Harry over towards the chair he had been sitting on, and as he didn't immediately find another one upon looking around, he sat down again and pulled Harry in his lap. Under any other circumstances, Harry would have protested against being held on his godfather's lap like a small child, but right now he didn't particularly care. He had found the two people he had been searching for, and now he was tired and cold. He leaned his head against Sirius' broad chest and sighed deeply and contently.
"You shouldn't be even up yet."
Sirius spread a blanket across Harry and shifted him slightly sideward in his lap so that they both were more comfortable. Slowly, Harry's brain processed that Sirius might want to hear an explanation as to why he had walked down the entire ward without calling for help. But then again, couldn't they have put him in a bed closer to Remus and Sirius?
"I woke up and you were not there. I had to see if you and Remus were alright."
Harry buried his face deeper in Sirius' shirt when he had mumbled those words, and his godfather smoothed a hand through his hair and encouragingly rubbed his back.
"I'm sorry. Madam Pomfrey told me you would be asleep for another couple of hours, otherwise I'd have been sitting with you. Sorry, kiddo."
Harry's eyes threatened to drop close again, but before he allowed himself to sleep he made the effort of rising his head to look at Remus. The werewolf was smiling at him, and though he was still abnormally pale he looked...more alive than the last time Harry had seen him. Better, at least.
Actually, Harry had meant to ask this in more than one word, but speech seemed to become more and more difficult as his body started to shut down for sleep. But it didn't matter, Remus had understood him anyway. Remus closed his eyes and nodded, as if collecting enough strength to speak himself.
but I'll be alright. You?"
"Alright, I guess. I don't really know what's wrong, if I'm honest."
He looked up at Sirius and his godfather tried to smile around the grim and concerned look on his face.
"Cracked skull, severe concussion and a nasty bleeding head wound. You gave me quite a scare, lying there motionless in a puddle of blood. That must have cost me about ten years of my life, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't do that repeatedly. I was scared to lose you."
The last words came out as a whisper and when Harry looked up he found that there were tears in Sirius' eyes again. He hugged his godfather tightly around the waist.
Even as he mumbled those words, Harry realized that his voice was finally failing and getting more and more sleepy. His eyes dropped close and this time he didn't fight against it, but instead allowed Sirius' steady heartbeat to lull him asleep, still on his godfather's lap. The last thing he was aware of was Sirius' arms tightening their hold on him. Sirius said something and Remus' voice answered, but Harry was too tired to listen.
he opened his eyes again, Harry found that he had been moved again during his
sleep. At some point, Sirius must have shifted him from his lap onto the bed
next to Remus'.
Sirius was sitting on the chair in between, as if he had been unable to decide whether to sit his vigil at Harry's or at Remus' bedside. He was sleeping soundly in what had to be the world's most uncomfortable position. Harry stretched out a hand to wake him and tell him to lay down in a proper bed, but found that he could not reach Sirius without moving out of his bed. And even tough he had crossed the entire ward yesterday (it had been yesterday, hadn't it? How long had he slept, anyway?), Harry didn't feel up to moving one foot out of bed today.
As Harry looked at the bed behind Sirius, he found that Remus was facing him, his eyes open and a smile on his face.
"I tried to as well, but it seems I'm not able to move out of bed, either. How are you doing, Harry?"
"Alright. Just tired. You?"
"Better. I guess after this night, he", he gestured at Sirius, "will be the one in need of medical help. Those infirmary chairs are living hell for your back, believe me."
Both of them watched Sirius for long moments with fond smiles on their faces. Finally, it was Remus who broke the silence.
"I'm not going to take him away from you, Harry. I promise I won't take him away from you."
Harry slowly nodded.
"I know...I think. It's just...I don't know how to say it. Weird. I was so angry with you two – I still am, I think. I don't know, it's all a bit muddled up in my head at the moment."
Harry's eyes got suspiciously watery again, and he was glad that without his glasses he didn't have to see the expression on Remus' face.
"I've finally had it, but now it feels as if it has all been a lie. Nobody ever tells me anything, I always have to find out things accidentally."
"I'm sorry, Harry. I really am sorry about what happened that night. I...no, we should have talked to you before we allowed that to happen, but I only hope that one day you'll understand that there are moments when...well, when rational thought is a bit far from your mind.
We definitely hadn't planned on you walking in on us during our first kiss after more than fourteen years, if that's any relief."
He saw the Remus' shaped blur in front of him nod. Without his glasses, he didn't see the slight blush covering the still extremely pale cheeks.
"Harry, we didn't intentionally lie to you. And neither did we keep things from you intentionally, but the fact that Sirius and I once were more than just good friends was a bit of a sore topic between us. There was too much that needed to be worked out before *we* even knew where we stood." He shrugged. "And well, when we had finally managed to get things clearer...you saw us."
Harry didn't really know what else there was to say. Except from one thing.
"What's going to happen now?"
depends on you, Harry."
Again, Harry frowned.
"Because Sirius wants you to be happy. *We* want you to be happy. So we'll both do whatever it is that you consider best. I do hope that you'll give Sirius and me a chance to explain all this mess before that, but basically it's your choice."
Now Harry was confused.
mean, if I told Sirius to leave you, he would?"
"Harry, if you told Sirius to jump off the Astronomy Tower he probably would do it if he thought it'd make you happy. And if you can't stand the thought of the three of us living together under one roof, then the two of you will move in alone."
Harry shook his head in confusion.
Sirius...I mean, he wouldn't be very happy with that situation, would he?"
"Harry, Sirius defines his own happiness via yours. I highly doubt that he'd be able to be together with me if you got all homophobic about it."
not the problem, Remus. The problem is...oh gosh, I don't even know it myself.
My head's all mushy and I think my brain liquefied over night."
talk about that when we're both up again and Sirius is awake, alright? There's
nothing that needs to be decided just now, and from what I know Poppy will
probably keep us in here for another day or even two."
At this, Harry groaned loudly, the sound immediately waking and alerting Sirius. He was at his godson's side within the fragment of a second.
"Harry, you're all right?"
relax. I'm fine."
"Hurts a bit, but that's nothing." A question formed in Harry's mind. "What happened yesterday, Sirius?"
His godfather fell back into the chair with a sigh and a suppressed hiss of pain as his backside protested against the uncomfortable arrangement.
"Well, after you left and Snape gave Remus that potion...Madam Pomfrey threw me out of the infirmary. Threatened to sedate me if I didn't leave immediately. She said I was fretting too much, and actually I could not really bear to watch how that potion wracked through Remus' body. I don't like seeing him in pain and I think if I had stayed longer, I'd have strangled Snape to death for making him go through this.
So instead I went out to search for you. You were not in Gryffindor Tower, and then I remembered that your broom had been lying outside and thought you might have gone outside to get it.
When I left the castle, I saw you down at the pitch and went to get you. And then I saw Wormtail." Sirius growled lowly.
you know what happened then, my curse missed and that bastard slammed you
against that post. For a moment, when I saw your head roll around like that and
all that blood...for a moment I thought you were dead."
Sirius' voice broke and for a moment he needed to collect himself again.
don't really know, I just jumped at that filthy little bastard and did my best
to kill him with my bare hands. And I would have done it, had not Professor
McGonagall pulled me away from him. She stunned the rat before he could
transform and get away, and then she brought the three of us up to the
Harry's eyes grew wide as saucers when he heard that.
that...I mean...does that mean what I think? Wormtail...You're...you're
"Not yet. Albus came back immediately and he's at the Ministry now. From what it looks, I'll get a trial, and with Wormtail in custody I guess I'll be officially cleared in a couple of days."
Suddenly, a grin spread across his face.
know what that means, don't you? You can finally officially live with me."
Sirius' eyes were suddenly cast down and his voice a lot lower when he continued.
is, if you still want to. I know that the last week was pretty...shitty and
that I still owe you a lot of explanations, but please just give me a chance.
Give me a chance to explain it all, please Harry."
The look on Sirius' face pained Harry nearly physically. He had seen how much Sirius had suffered during the past day, and he didn't like seeing him like this at all. He'd rather prefer to have the Sirius of two weeks ago back again, if that was possible. And actually, he didn't have anything against the idea of Remus and Sirius living together. He just hadn't considered the idea before, at least not when he wasn't absolutely pissed off about them. And basically, it wouldn't change that much now, would it? They even had been sharing a room before already.
Harry realized that he was getting all sleepy again.
just let us talk about all that when the trial is over, we're out of Madam
Pomfrey's clutches and back home, okay? I guess I've not been very helpful
during the past days either, have I?"
Sirius smiled shyly and shook his head.
"To be honest no. You weren't very cooperative."
"Don't start apologizing, Harry. Just see that you're getting better again, we'll talk about it later."
when we're home. We'll just talk it all through, and then it'll be alright
Sleep was close now, Harry realized. His own words were starting to make less sense by the minute. Sirius smiled down at him.
just want you to be happy for once."
Harry tiredly lifted an eye-lid.
you think I'm happy to live with you when you're not happy?"
"Sleep, Harry. We'll talk about it."
Harry nodded and closed his eyes again. He was out cold within moments.
Epilogue: September 1st
you really think it was a wise idea of you to come?"
Harry looked up at his godfather, but Sirius didn't seem to be bothered by all the piercing glares he received. His trial had been slightly less than two weeks before, and even though the bigger part of the wizarding community by now knew of his innocence, he still received stares, whispered comments and glares whenever he left the house. Remus, Harry had come to realize, was constantly keeping an eye on their surroundings, as if he expected someone to try and kill Sirius from behind any moment.
At the moment, the three of them were making their way through King's Cross and towards Platform 9 ¾ where Harry would take the Hogwarts Express.
It was actually the first year at which Harry was a bit sad to return to Hogwarts. He had spent the past two weeks in Remus' house again, together with Remus and Sirius. Remus had recovered surprisingly quickly from Wormtail's attack, and as soon as he and Harry had been up and well again, they had tried to sort out the mess of the past couple of days. By now, Harry knew nearly the complete story of Sirius' and Remus' relationship and he was convinced that those two had only had all those problems because none of them had ever said out loud what should have been obvious. But when he had told them so, Remus had only grinned knowingly and Sirius had said something like 'just wait till you have your first girlfriend, and *then* we'll talk'.
Those past two weeks had been different from the beginning of their time together, and also a bit more unnerving. It seemed as if all three of them had been walking around on tip toe, afraid to make a wrong move or to overstep any boundaries. Sirius and Remus had always stayed apart as far as possible whenever Harry was in the room (he didn't really *want* to know how that was like when he wasn't in the room) and they had taken care of that so thoroughly that it had bordered on being funny.
The three of them were still searching for a good middle-ground to move on, and somehow Harry was sorry to leave before they had found it. They'd have to see how it went when he came home for Christmas, but inwardly Harry was convinced that by then he'd be used to the idea of his godfather and his former teacher being a couple.
He had had a long talk with Remus one night, when Sirius had been away with Dumbledore, and after that evening Harry was a bit more at ease when it came to the issue of Sirius and Remus. Remus wasn't his rival, he was an addition to his 'family', and a pretty funny one at that. Now that the tension between Sirius and Remus seemed to have been lifted, Harry really enjoyed their bantering on every occasion that presented itself. Harry liked Remus, he was convinced that they'd get along once this trial period was over. They only had to get used to the changes, that was all. And Harry somehow had to break those news to Ron. He didn't even want to think about that.
Harry, Sirius and Remus crossed the Platform as quick as possible, not reacting to any glance or comment, eyes firmly fixed on the red heads of the Weasley family near the end of the train. They had known about Sirius for a bit longer, and even if they hadn't they surely wouldn't comment as viciously as others did.
"Harry dear, there you are. Hello Remus, Sirius."
Molly's voice was still hesitant at addressing Sirius, but she quickly turned towards Harry and hugged him.
"You're nearly late, I already thought something had happened."
She glared accusingly at Sirius and Remus cleared his throat.
had a little...discussion on how to get here. And before you start", he
waved at finger at Sirius, "I don't want to hear another word about that
Sirius pretended to pout and pulled Harry aside to say goodbye.
have a good term, Harry. If something happens, go straight to Albus or
fire-call me, alright? A letter from time to time would be nice, too. Have fun
and try to stay out of serious trouble."
He gave his godson a hug.
"Love you, too. Take care, Sirius."
Harry quickly turned to Remus and gave him a hug as well, then he said goodbye to the Weasleys and climbed into the train alongside Ron. They found an empty compartment and settled in, waving out of the window at their families. Sirius and Remus had stepped back a little so that not all the attention would be focussed on them, but at the moment Harry wondered about something entirely different.
I guess. But she'd better hurry, that has already been the second whistle.
We're about to leave any moment now."
As if on cue the apartment door flew open and a flushed and panting Hermione came running in. Not a moment too late because at that moment the train started to move and Harry and Ron quickly waved a final goodbye out of the window.
They settled down and waited for Hermione to calm a little so that she could explain.
"Traffic jam." She finally panted. Ron looked utterly confused, but Harry nodded.
Ron just waved her off.
wasn't much earlier, either. Pity, I had thought we could talk a bit to Sirius
and Professor Lupin."
Hermione suddenly blushed a deep crimson and glanced at Harry. He frowned.
"Hermione, what's wrong?"
Harry raised an eyebrow.
nothing I should bother about, at least. It's just that...well, I saw them
before I jumped on the train."
I saw them as well. What's so interesting about that?"
Hermione shook her head.
"No, not like that." Again, she glanced at Harry as if she was debating inwardly whether she was telling too much or whether he already knew. Harry had to hide a grin as he could imagine quite well what she had witnessed. Though Sirius and Remus were surely sad that he had left, they would also appreciate to have some undisturbed time to...get reacquainted.
Hermione finally decided to spill the beans.
"Well, when I saw Sirius and Professor Lupin, they were...kissing."
Hermione blushed an even deeper red and Ron looked positively thunderstruck. Harry now really had to hide a grin.
"Kissing?" That was Ron.
I'm sorry if that was something you didn't know about, but I just thought
"Kissing?" Ron was still processing that piece of information. "But...but they're both...I mean Professor Lupin...and Sirius...does that mean...kissing?"
Harry sighed. This would take a while to explain. He wondered whether he should send his newly appointed guardian and his former teacher a howler because of public harassment. Now that would surely be fun.
*This* on the other hand...
Harry leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees.
"Actually, it's a rather long story..."