Disclaimer: Sirius and James belong to J.K. Rowling. I gave James's parents names, but other than that, they belong to her too.
Gaining a Son
The Caerphilly Catapults versus the Falmouth Falcons—James's and Sirius's favourite teams, respectively, and the game fell just between Sirius's return home from Hong Kong and the boys' leaving for Hogwarts. It was almost as if fate were saying, "I couldn't have set this up more perfectly for you, so you'd better buy tickets." Henry Potter knew better than to argue with fate, especially if it gave him an excuse to see a Quidditch match.
He almost purchased four tickets, but thought of Remus and Peter just in time. Remus's mother probably couldn't afford to take her son to a match. Peter's parents could afford it, but his father never seemed to make much time for the boy, and his mother didn't seem to be the Quidditch fan type, so Peter had probably not been to many professional Quidditch matches either. Six tickets it was.
Henry fanned the tickets in his hand and waved them under his wife's nose. "How much do you love me?" he asked.
"Quite a bit—if one of those is for me," she replied.
"Of course, my darling chaserette."
"I was not a chaserette; I was a chaser. You should remember. I was the one throwing quaffles past you while you attempted to play keeper." She closed the book she was reading and reached for the tickets.
Henry raised them above his head, out of her reach. "'Attempted?' Maybe I don't have a ticket for you after all."
Mary smiled, put the book on the table beside the sofa, and stood up to wrap her arms around her husband. "You were an amazing keeper. Gryffindor was the most challenging team we faced." He lowered the tickets, and she closed her hand over them. "But we still won the Quidditch cup more than you did."
"Only if you count your seventh year," Henry pointed out, "which I don't because it was after I left school."
"Eww—yuck," James said in a conversational tone as he came into the room and crossed to the owl perches. "Public displays of parental affection. I shouldn't be exposed to such a twisted thing." He began to tie a letter onto the leg of one of the owls.
"Well, if you don't want to see me kissing this lovely little Ravenclaw," Henry said, "maybe you don't want to go with us to the Catapults' next match."
"The Catapults!" James abandoned tying the letter and spun around to face them grinning widely. Then his face fell just slightly. "Um, their next match is after Sirius comes back—"
"I have a ticket for him too, as well as tickets for Remus and Peter," Henry assured him. Mary handed the tickets to their son.
"Cool," he breathed as he looked at the tickets. "Good seats. Give me that back, Ollie," he said to the owl as untied the letter. "I'll add this news to my letter to Remus."
* * * * *
Although the match was scheduled to begin at eleven o'clock, the various portkeys delivering spectators to the stadium were staggered throughout the morning. The Potters had a large enough group that they were permitted their own portkey, and good enough seats that their scheduled travel times were only two hours before and after the match. VIP tickets allowed spectators to floo directly to the stadium, but they were the only ones permitted to do so. If all the spectators had attempted to floo to the site, they would have hopelessly clogged the floo network.
With a departure time of 8:54 a.m., "too blasted early for a Saturday morning," according to James, James had insisted that his friends spending the night on Friday was an absolute necessity. Mary and Henry had of course agreed. They realized that it would eliminate the worry of one of the boys being late on Saturday and missing the portkey.
The sleepover did pose one slight problem as far as Henry was concerned. In the past, they'd always paired the boys up, two in James's bedroom and two in the guestroom across the hall, now Sirius's room. Somehow, the idea of putting any one of the boys in the same room as Sirius seemed inappropriate to Henry. It would be easy enough to put three of them in James's room. He could transfigure James's desk into bunkbeds instead of one extra bed easily enough. But to do so would alert the other two teenagers that they didn't want them in the same room as Sirius, and that was a problem since neither Remus nor Peter knew that Sirius was gay. But when he tried to discuss it with Mary while they got ready for bed one night, she stared at him in astonishment.
"You don't want Sirius to share a room with any of the others?" she asked incredulously. "You do realize that they all share a room at school, don't you?"
"Yes, dear, I haven't forgotten."
"So what's the difference?" she asked as she washed her face. Then she met his eye in the mirror. "Are you saying that you don't want him in the dormitory either?"
"No," he said hesitantly. Actually, he probably would prefer it if Sirius weren't in the same dormitory as the other boys, but not strongly enough that he'd actually make an issue about making other arrangements.
"Then what's the difference?" she asked again.
"I don't know. It's just doesn't feel right putting one of the boys in his room, that's all."
"Oh honestly, Henry, it's not like he's going to pounce on one of his friends the moment the door shuts."
"Or crawl into bed with him in the middle of the night."
"And if you're worried about Sirius taking a peek while his roommate gets undressed," she said as she walked out of the bathroom into the bedroom, "I'll say again, 'Dormitory.'"
"I know," he grumbled it this time.
Mary laughed. "That is what's bothering you." She pulled a nightgown out of a drawer and began to undress.
"Think of it this way," Henry said as began to undress as well. "If a female classmate were sleeping over, would you feel right putting her in James's room?"
Mary laughed again. "She'd be better off in Sirius's room—except then we'd have to worry about poor Sirius. You saw they way those girls were drooling over him at his party."
Henry ignored her digression. "And this is worse because Remus and Peter don't know. At least with a girl and a boy who are just friends, she'd know to kick him out of the room before she changed. Remus or Peter wouldn't think to do that around Sirius. And don't say, 'Dormitory,' again. The dormitory is out of our hands. I just want to talk about under our roof."
"The solution is quite simple," Mary said as she trailed her fingers down his bare arm. "We'll put Sirius in James's room, and the other two can have the guestroom. Now you don't have to feel guilty that you've put someone who 'doesn't know' in the same room as Sirius."
"Oh wonderful," he said facetiously, "I feel so much better putting my son in with him." It was the best solution, and they both knew it. Mary laughed again when she saw the resigned expression on his face. "And take your hand off my thigh, traitor. Here I am concerned for our son's virtue, and you laugh at me." But he extinguished the candles without getting dressed.
"Henry?" she asked as he kissed her neck. "Has it occurred to you that Remus or Peter might be gay?" And he began to tickle her in retaliation.
* * * * *
"Five and a half hours, Moony!" Sirius said the moment the portkey returned them home to the Potters.
"I know, Sirius. I was there, remember?" Remus said with a bemused smile.
"Four hundred sixty to—what was that score for the Falcons again?" James asked.
"Three hundred seventy," Sirius said proudly. "Which means that we were winning right up until the snitch was caught."
"But the snitch was caught," Peter said with a grin, "by—" He looked at James to finish the triumphant statement.
"By Owen Thomas of the Caerphilly Catapults!" James punched his fists into the air.
Sirius's good mood was not to be deterred by a little thing like losing. "But you've got to admit, the Falcon's seeker did an amazing job of defense, keeping Thomas off the snitch for five and a half hours!"
"Too bad he couldn't catch the stupid thing himself," Remus teased with a smile.
Sirius dismissed the taunt with a gesture. "He's the reserve seeker. McKinnon will be back next match, and then they'll be unbeatable again."
"Who are they playing next time?" James asked. "The Cannons?" And all four teenagers laughed. "What's for dinner, Mum?"
"Give me half a second. I just got home with the rest of you, remember?" she said as she disappeared into the kitchen.
"I'll help," Sirius said as he jumped up from the sofa he'd just sat down upon.
"Me too," Remus said as he followed Sirius into the kitchen.
James shook his head. "I swear, Peter, Sirius spends almost as much time in the kitchen as my mum. I thought he was just trying to be helpful so my parents wouldn't have second thoughts about letting him live here, but he says he actually likes cooking. He wasn't allowed to at home, so—"
"Well that's typical Sirius, isn't it? He wants to do whatever he isn't allowed to do."
"Sounds like typical James to me," Henry commented.
"Why do you think they get along so well?" Peter asked.
"James, come set the table!" His mother called from the kitchen.
James sighed dramatically, grabbed Peter by the sleeve, and pulled him into the kitchen. Henry picked up a scroll lying at the base of an owl perch and scanned through the message. It required an answer but could wait until after dinner, so he went into the library and left the letter on the desk. By the time he went into the kitchen, James was setting the table, Remus and Sirius were preparing a salad, Mary was taking warm bread out of the oven built into the sidewall of the fireplace, and Peter was crouched in front of the fire, his head in the green flames.
"I told Remus and Peter that they could stay overnight tonight too," Mary explained. "Julia already said 'Yes,' and Peter's asking his mother now."
* * * * *
By the time James and his friends came downstairs for breakfast, Henry and Mary had already eaten. She had gone outside to work in the garden. He'd read half of the Sunday Daily Prophet and returned to the kitchen for another mug of tea.
"Where's Remus?" he asked as he looked at the three sleepy and disheveled teenagers.
"Still asleep," Peter replied. "He's not a morning person."
"What time did you go to bed last night?"
"Don't ask," James replied. "Are we still going to play Quidditch today?" he asked his friends.
"You know I want to," Sirius replied. "It's up to Peter and Sleeping Beauty."
Henry refilled his mug and left the teenagers to their plans. A quarter of an hour later, the sound of one of Sirius's new Chinese fireworks going off upstairs indicated that the others had decided it was time to wake Remus. Five minutes after that, Henry thought it might be prudent to stroll upstairs and check that the firework hadn't caused any damage that he'd need to repair.
As he reached the top of the stairs, Sirius was just coming out of the guestroom and pulling a red sweatshirt over the grey Falcons' t-shirt he already wore. As he pulled the door closed, he smiled at Henry and gestured for silence with a finger to his lips.
"Sirius! Did you take my shirt again?" Remus called through the closed door.
Sirius laughed and headed for the stairs. "You can have one of mine, Re," he called over his shoulder. "Look in the dresser."
"But yours are all new; mine's broken in," Remus complained as he came out into the corridor wearing only a pair of jeans. He took one look at Henry and his eyes became wide with panic. Remus immediately ducked back in the room and closed the door, but it was too late. Remus was covered with scars, and Henry had seen them.
Henry looked back at Sirius, still standing at the top of the stairs. Sirius smiled again, but his eyes were as fearful as Remus's had been. It had been shocking enough to realize that Sirius had been abused—the thought of anyone doing that to a child was abhorrent—but it had fit Henry's image of Sirius's parents. He'd observed the way the Blacks treated their son, demanding obedience, withholding affection, so the idea that they were abusive wasn't hard to comprehend. But Julia Lupin was the polar opposite. She'd always seemed to be a caring and protective mother. And yet, the scars, both faded old ones and newer red marks, were there.
"I'm always borrowing Remus's and James's clothes," Sirius was saying, hoping that Henry hadn't noticed Remus's scars. "My parents wouldn't let me buy Muggle clothes, and if I did buy any, they took them away from me. But I like wearing them. That's why I bought some as soon as my uncle sent me some money. But I couldn't resist taking this today, just to tease—"
"Sirius," Henry said in a warning tone, "stop." He knocked on Remus's door.
"Come in," Remus said. Henry opened the door and found Remus sitting stiffly on the edge of the bed wearing the long-sleeved blue shirt he'd worn yesterday. He'd even pulled the sleeves down to the middle of his hands where he clutched them with white-knuckled fists.
"How did you get those scars, Remus?" Henry asked as he sat on the other bed. Remus looked up, but not at Henry. He looked toward the doorway and Sirius. Remus's eyes were pleading for Sirius's help. That more than anything else suggested to Henry that he was judging the situation correctly. If there had been an innocent explanation, Remus would have explained. Instead, he looked toward the other abuse victim to assist him in forming a lie.
"He was in an accident when he was little," Sirius said.
"Some of them are new," Henry said without taking his eyes off Remus, "and I was asking Remus."
"JAMES!" Sirius shouted as he ran down the stairs. "JAMES, WHERE ARE YOU?"
"Maybe I should leave," Remus said, and he began shoving his belongings into his bag.
"Remus," Henry tried to stop him by putting a hand on his arm, but Remus flinched away from being touched—just like Sirius often did. "Remus, I'm not letting you leave until you talk to me. Please tell me how you got those scars."
The sound of feet running up the stairs signaled that Sirius had returned, and that he'd brought reinforcements this time. James ran into the room, followed immediately by Sirius. James immediately sat beside Remus and put an arm around Remus's shoulders. Sirius sat close by Remus on the other side.
"Remus is my friend," James said defiantly. "He's our friend."
It was so completely off the point that it confused Henry for a moment. He stared at his son in confusion. James had undoubtedly suspected Sirius's abuse long before he spoke of his suspicions to his parents, but in end, he had told them, and it had all worked out for the best. "Why didn't James ever tell us about Remus's scars?" Henry wondered.
"Would you please tell me what's so urgent, James?" Mary asked as she followed Peter into the room.
There were far too many people in the room, so Henry decided to ignore everyone else for the time being and focus on Remus alone. "Remus, I just want to help. Please tell me how you got those scars."
"Oh God," Sirius said suddenly. "He thinks your mum hurt you."
Remus glanced at Sirius and then looked back at Henry. He shook his head vehemently. "No, not my mum."
"His father?" Henry wondered. "But Remus's parents separated when he was young, and some of those scars appeared recent."
"Then how, Sweetheart?" Mary asked as she sat beside Henry and faced the boys.
"Like Sirius said, I was in an accident when I was five."
"Some of them looked recent," Henry pointed out again.
"They're self-inflicted," James said. Remus looked down in shame.
"May I see?" Mary asked. Remus hesitated and then pulled up one sleeve of his shirt. His forearm was criss-crossed with several old scars—possibly from a childhood accident—and a few ugly red newer ones. They were jagged and irregular, and Henry had trouble imagining how Remus—or his mother—had wounded himself in that manner. Remus pulled the sleeve back down again.
"I've never hurt anyone else," Remus said quietly.
"Just himself," Peter added.
Remus suddenly bolted out of the room, and a moment later they heard the bathroom door slam shut.
"It's all very simple," Sirius said with a sudden air of authority. "Remus was in a very bad accident when he was five, and he almost died. His parents' marriage went straight downhill after that, and his father was gone within a year. Remus blames himself for his father's leaving and for everything else that's gone wrong ever since. Now he hurts himself on a regular basis."
"But there's got to be a way to make him stop," Mary said. She seemed to believe Sirius's story, but Henry wasn't as convinced. The story had poured out of Sirius far too smoothly after the earlier hesitation and delay.
"Everyone else has given up on trying to help him, but we'll find a way," Sirius said as looked toward James and Peter. They nodded their agreement.
"You're a very good liar, Sirius," Henry stated. "Why don't you try the truth this time?"
"It was the truth," James said, "just not the whole truth."
"Are you sure you can tell them?" Peter asked.
James nodded. "The 'accident' that Remus was in—he was attacked by a werewolf."
Henry's first instinct was to dismiss this as a tall-tale invented by his imaginative son. Werewolf attacks were rare, and surviving one was even rarer still. The few who did survive did so by getting away, by getting to safety before the werewolf could reach them. But if Remus had "barely survived" it would mean that the werewolf had reached him, had bitten him, had—infected him.
James smiled grimly at his parents when he saw that they understood. "The self-inflicted injuries—he does that when the moon's full."
"But all of you and the other students—it isn't safe—" Mary began to say.
"It?" Sirius repeated angrily.
"She means that it isn't safe for us to be around him when the moon's full," James said quickly to Sirius. Then to his parents he explained, "Professor Dumbledore's arranged a place in Hogsmeade where he can go for the full moon. He can't get out and only a few of the staff know how to get in. We're all completely safe."
"The only one who isn't safe is Remus," Peter added. "He hurts himself, badly."
"Excuse me," Sirius said as he passed between James and his parents. "I'm going to go check on Remus."
"How badly?" Mary asked. She reached for Henry's hand; hers felt icy cold.
James shrugged. "Remus and Madam Pomfrey both downplay it, but sometimes it's pretty bad. When we were researching werewolves, Sirius found a Werewolf Registry report that the top three causes of death for werewolves were 'death caused by another,' self-inflicted injuries during the full-moon, and suicide, in that order."
Several moments of complete silence followed that declaration, so they all heard the click of the bathroom door when Remus reemerged.
"Are you O.K.?" they heard Sirius ask quietly. "Good thing you didn't eat breakfast yet." Silence and then, "James just told them."
Remus reappeared in the bedroom doorway then, looking quite pale. Sirius stood just behind him. Both watched the two adults warily. "Would you like me to leave now?" Remus asked. "I just need to get my bag."
Mary squeezed Henry's hand. "Why don't you go have some breakfast, Remus?" she asked. "And then ask your mother if she'll come and talk with Henry and me."
The four boys all exchanged looks and then silently headed for the stairs. James made it as far as the doorway before doubling back and kissing his mother on the cheek. "Thanks for not overreacting," he said to both of his parents.
"Just tell me now, James," Henry said, "do your friends have any more secrets we need to deal with?"
"No, that's it." Then he grinned. "So far."
—Written March 2004