Author's Notes: This scene was inspired by a section in Chapter 21: The Eye of the Snake (Pg. 404-407, UK hardback). There is a point at the end of the "Cho-kissing-Harry" discussion where Harry gazes into the fire and wishes Sirius would appear and give him advice on girls. I'd like to think that this conversation between his godfather and Remus took place more or less in parallel.
Disclaimer: As usual, all characters, locations and ideas are property of J.K. Rowling. I just like playing around with them.Girls, Girls, Girls: What to say when your godson asks
Remus Lupin looked round the dark, dreary living room. It still had a damp, musty tinge to it, but at least it was habitable now. After all the hard work Molly and the kids had put in cleaning it up, it was comfortable almost. Comparatively speaking.
Remus drew up a sagging armchair closer to the fire, and eased himself into it after making sure Sirius hadn't left another bag of Buckbeak's dead rats on it again. Pulling out his wand, he Steamed his soaking robes dry. He had just come back from a mission in Germany and would be staying the night at 12 Grimmauld Place before Apparating to Waterford for an appointment the following morning. Remus hoped it would only be a brief stay there, as he'd like Sirius to have some company, other than Kreacher, over the Christmas holidays. His friend was showing signs of cracking up, what with the frustration of feeling useless, the lack of human contact and the restlessness that came with being cooped up in a house which only served to remind him of a past he wished to forget.
Thump. Thump. Thump. It sounded as if Sirius was running down from the third floor two steps at a time. The living room door flung open and Sirius, with a playful grin spread widely across his face, marched up to Remus and started shaking his hand vigorously, knocking the steaming wand out of Lupin's grip in the process.
"Moony! How absolutely corking to see you! How was Germany? Wie geht es Ihnen?"
Lupin surveyed his friend, eyebrows raised. "I am fine, thank you," he replied, concealing his amusement. "How's Buckbeak?"
Sirius, pulling up another armchair to join him, straightened up and put his arms on his waist. He tossed a glance out the window and said pointedly. "He needs a good flight. Which of course," he added hastily, off Lupin's look, "he isn't going to get." Dejected, he plopped himself down on the chair.
"No. Hippogriffs aren't really made for flying over Piccadilly Circus," agreed Lupin solemnly. He bent down to pick up his wand to finish drying his robes. When his robes were dry, he reached over to a small table where he had left a book he'd taken back with him.
"The Ministry of Magic: A History?" questioned Sirius as he read the title out loud. "What? Is this a sequel to Hogwarts: A History?"
Moony opened the book to his marked page "The Establishment of the Wizengamot" and started reading, turning a deaf ear to Padfoot's remark. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Sirius stare into the fire. A few minutes passed before he commented casually.
"Sickle for your thoughts?"
"Just thinking," sighed Sirius. "About Harry."
"I am sure he's fine," replied Remus comfortingly as he turned a page. "He's safe at Hogwarts."
"What about all this mind-sharing Legilimency business between him and Voldemort?"
Remus put down his book for a moment to look Sirius in the eye. "We haven't heard anything that suggests Harry has been used yet. Besides," he added brusquely, "Dumbledore did suggest Occlumency lessons should the need arise." With that, he turned his attention back to the first gathering of the Wizengamot.
"What now?" he asked, ten minutes later, seeing Sirius still staring into the flames.
"Nothing much," came a quiet reply. "Except when we were fifteen Moony, we only worried about the OWLs."
Remus gave a disbelieving snort as Sirius corrected himself. "Okay, you and Peter then. James and I worried about the Quidditch Cup. Planning the monthly escapade without being caught." Remus looked up with interest. "And of course," added Sirius slyly, "Prongs had Lily to think about."
Lupin chuckled as he immersed himself in the book again. Sirius continued on, seemingly fully aware Moony was keeping his ear open for him.
"Do you think Harry has a girlfriend?"
"Why don't you ask him?" suggested Remus absently.
"You really think that is the done thing?" scoffed Sirius. "Do you?" he asked more tentatively a few moments later, frowning.
Lupin looked up mildly and shrugged. Sirius ran his fingers through his hair and then clasped both hands together and started wringing them.
"Help me out here Moony. I am trying to be a parent. A good one."
"It's not easy deciding what to ask or know and what not to, and not seem overly nosy and protective, nor too lenient and not caring at the same time!"
"It's not like there is an OWL or a NEWT for this."
"You are enjoying this, aren't you?" cried Sirius exasperatedly, studying Remus, whose eyes haven't left the page.
"Perhaps," replied Remus pleasantly as he turned another page. But Sirius caught a flicker of glee in his eyes.
Padfoot pushed himself out of the chair and paced up and down in front of the fire. "Maybe he's still too interested in Quidditch," he said lamely.
"Umbridge gave him that lifetime ban," reminded Lupin, casting his eyes over the committee members of the Wizengamot for the past few centuries. "Besides," he added, looking up at Sirius, "James scheduled both Quidditch and a Lily crush in just fine at fifteen."
"Lily hated him though," recalled Sirius, "because he was…"
"... a conceited prat who hexed anyone along the corridor just because he could," finished Remus. "Yes, I know. But Harry's not like that. My point was simply to remind you that several thoughts can occupy a person's mind at the one time."
"Well, there's Hermione," suggested Sirius hopefully. "Harry knows her, and she doesn't think he's a git."
Remus stroked him chin thoughtfully. "I somehow get the impression that Harry, and Ron," he added, "see Hermione as a best friend who happens to have longer hair and sleeps in a different dormitory. I don't think they realise she may actually be an object of affection for them." He paused, deep in thought, "At least most of the time anyway," he finished.
Sirius looked at him enquiringly. "Oh, nothing," Lupin replied hurriedly. Just Ron… he thought to himself.
Sirius pondered for a few seconds over what Remus said before moving on. "Ginny then?"
"Most likely, in Harry's point of view, she is still the ten year-old girl who was left behind at King's Cross station the first year he and Ron went off to Hogwarts. Who, later on got possessed by Riddle who nearly killed her. Who, was then rescued by Harry, with whom she had a crush on. Which," Lupin pressed on in a louder voice, as Sirius looked triumphant, "was never returned. Who then wasn't asked to the Yule Ball by Harry so she went with Neville instead. Who, now, is a good friend of Hermione's, and has curbed her Harry crush and is going out with Michael Corner."
Sirius gaped open-mouthed at Remus. "How do you know all of this?"
"She tells you all this?" asked Sirius incredulously.
"Of course not," answered Remus gruffly. "You could hear them in snatches of conversation over the dinner table and around the house over the summer."
Sirius let the news sink in, then relaxed. "Well, I have some time then? You know, before I either approach Harry with this subject, or he starts it off. I want to be a godfather to Harry, a good one. In areas outside of the capacity of 'Please be careful. Voldemort's after you.' I don't want Molly to, you know, jump in again and say I am too reckless," he said, determinedly.
Remus stole a look at Padfoot. But as he didn't know what to say in response to that, he kept silent. Moony understood very well how Mrs Weasley's comments had at times really upset Sirius. He was sure it was not deliberate. The stress of the Order, the secrecy surrounding it and the possibility of being killed was so great it made tempers short and the worst show in everyone. He tried to steer the conversation back to more peaceful waters.
"There are other girls aside from Hermione and Ginny," he commented lightly, surreptitiously peeking over the rim of his book to gauge Sirius's reaction.
"Who?" asked Sirius very sharply.
Remus shrugged casually. "I don't know. There are many girls at the school, you know."
Sirius clucked impatiently. "Yes, but try. Hard."
Remus pondered for a moment, thinking back a couple of years. "Maybe that Ravenclaw girl," he said slowly. "Cho, I think her name is."
"So Harry likes her?"
"I gather so."
"So you think she's noticed Harry?"
"Oh yes," replied Remus hiding a smile. "I am quite sure she has."
"So," asked Sirius excitedly, sitting back in the chair, giving off an air of someone wanting juicy gossip. "What kind of girl is she? Is she into sport? Maybe Harry can show off his flying abilities."
"Harry doesn't show off, Sirius," Remus reprimanded. "Besides," he added with a twinkle of the eye, "I am quite sure Cho is familiar with Harry's Quidditch talents."
"What about the Triwizard Tournament? How he got through all those tasks and won?"
"I am sure Cho knows all about that as well," answered Remus calmly.
"Okay, so maybe she needs woo-ing. Like gentlemanly manners. Carrying her books. Buying her butterbeer and sugar quills at Hogsmeade. Or," Sirius continued with a glint in his eye, leaping up from his chair yet again. "Sweeping bows!" He swooped down as he demonstrated an aristocratic ballroom bow right there in the living room.
Remus raised his eyebrows. "I highly doubt if fifteen year-olds know those debonair moves. Harry'd be the laughing stock of the school if he did that."
"How about smarts?"
"I don't think she'd be won over by a regurgitation of the Goblin Rebellions."
"Quidditch talk then?"
"Best idea you've had all night. That and taking her out for butterbeers and sugar quills. For which he pays."
"What about kissing?" demanded Sirius after a few seconds' silence.
"What about it?" asked Remus vaguely, as he waded through a page of treaty dates.
"You think he's kissed before?"
"Who knows? Ask him," suggested Remus trying to get his head round some of the treaties surrounding goblins.
"Do you think he knows how? To kiss, I mean."
"Padfoot!" exclaimed Remus, finally putting down his book. "You and I both know very well you can't teach someone how to kiss. You just…" he paused, searching for the right words, "… have to go with the flow," he finished.
"And I am supposed to tell Harry that?!"
"If he asks, yeah. You might be lucky and get away with it. Hermione might be the one to teach him all this."
The flames crackled loudly in the fireplace. Sirius had this ardent urge to pop his head over to the Gryffindor common room to check in on Harry, but restrained himself.
"So," started Sirius again a while later, his mind evidently still on Harry, "you think he'd cope?"
"With the girls? Yeah, he'll live." Remus winked.
"How can you be so level-headed and calm about this? It's not like a clean-cut thing 'You have to work hard for your OWLs' or 'You have to be careful of Umbridge and the Ministry' or 'Send Snape my greasiest regards'. It's complicated and unpredictable."
"Precisely," Lupin said emphatically. "So there is no point worrying about it!"
Sirius grunted, apparently still unsatisfied.
Remus looked over at him and said in a softer, more understanding tone, "I can see where you are coming from. I'd say if situations were different and I was the godfather, this conversation would be reversed."
Sirius chuckled. "I guess I really am thinking too much."
"You'll know what to say, or at least you'll be able to think fast on your feet come the time," reassured Lupin.
Sirius sighed. "After all, narrowly escaping Voldemort four times, what's a girl and a kiss, er?"
"Precisely. Piece of cake. Walk in the park."
"You're right," said Sirius, pointing his wand at the carpet to clean up some specks of ashes which had fallen onto it. "What's there to worry about?"
Apparently a wet kiss from a human hosepipe under a Nargle-infested mistletoe …….