A.N./ I know I've said this before, but never would I have thought this would have come as far as it has. And your support, my, my … I don't think that I'd be here if it weren't for every single one of you reviewers. Even the flamers (no, not that kind of flamer)!
What I'm trying to say is, thank you so very much. Same thing goes for my amazing beta, Secret Slashyness. I can't believe that this is it, but the book comes out next freaking Friday! Can you believe it? You will no longer need fanfiction. At least, for a little while.
So, as usual, please remember that the Harry Potter (in all it's trademarked glory) series are not mine. I plan on going over the entire story again and, hopefully, posting it on Azkaban's Lair (if they'll have me). If you like the chapter, feel free to drop me a note saying that you did. That would be greater than anything in this world.
Chapter 14: Resolution on Hogwarts Grounds
Four days after Harry came back from his, what he dubbed, "vision," Dumbledore met him in the Great Hall before he made his way to the common room for afternoon break. In a quiet voice, he told him that Remus had returned from his trip and he would be visiting Hogwarts tomorrow. With what felt like a stone in Harry's stomach, he trudged back to the common room, where Hermione was reading a large tome.
Hermione put her book down when she heard him come in through the portrait. It only took one glance to see something was bothering him. "You look like you just swallowed something slimy. What is the matter?"
"He's back. He'll be here tomorrow," Harry said, flopping down onto the couch next to Hermione's chair. Both Ron and Hermione knew that Harry was truly dreading this visit, and understandably so.
"You'll be fine. He'll be happy that you were able to see how things really were. There's no way that he will be annoyed by any of this. In the end, it might even help you," Hermione said in a sympathetic tone, almost straining to help Harry feel better. They both knew that she was right.
Harry's throat felt tight and he pulled his legs up onto the couch. He stared into the fire that crackled in front of him and neither friend talked for a while. Harry couldn't ignore the thing that ate away in his stomach. He knew that the old professor wouldn't be angry. He'd figured that much by now. Yet, the mere fact that he knew about the two was enough to make him extremely sensitive to the subject.
He felt that it was unfair that he would be able to have the chance to see how their lives would have been like, to see every interaction, nearly every kiss. He was given the opportunity to hear every laugh and joke, as well as the sorrows. He saw and heard, experienced, all of these things and yet Remus was unable to. This was what was tearing Harry apart.
The rest of the day went by quicker than Harry wanted it to. His afternoon classes barely registered in his mind. He nearly got five points deducted from Gryffindor for not answering Professor McGonagall's question over the correct pronunciation of the spell they were currently working on. He couldn't truthfully have told you what they were doing in class; mostly because he hadn't a clue. All he knew was that his godfather's lover, his old professor and mentor, would be at Hogwarts in less than a day and he was absolutely petrified.
Dinner that night was a quiet affair that involved only the conversation of Ron and Hermione as they consistently tried to console Harry, but knew that this was his own journey and he would have to figure things out for himself. Later, they went to their dorms and Harry lay awake for over two hours. When he finally drifted off to sleep his last thoughts jumbled together, leaving a night full of fitful dreams.
The next day, Harry walked down to Hagrid's cabin alone, as instructed by Dumbledore. Remus would be with Hagrid, waiting for him. It was important that Remus not be seen by any of the students because if parents found out that the werewolf teacher was back, they would be in a frenzy.
Hagrid greeted Harry, smiling gruffly and lead him into where Remus sat in his oversized chair. The man looked thinner than Harry had ever seen him, but he wasn't sure if it was because he had changed or the chair that made him seem somewhat smaller. He gave Harry a warm smile and hopped off the chair with a bit of difficulty.
"Thar, thar Remus. Wouldn't want ta hurt anything trying ta get up out of the chair." Hagrid helped him to his feet and Harry suddenly remembered that the full moon had been just days before this. Remus thanked him, straightening his cloak around him and smoothing out the wrinkles.
Remus looked to Harry and said, "Would you like to walk? I think a bit of fresh air could do us both good." Harry started toward the back door of the hut. He heard Remus thank Hagrid again for his hospitality and followed Harry out. They air was cool and fresh and Harry breathed it like he had just emerged from the second task in the fourth year Triwizard Tournament.
"Lucky that it's a Saturday …" trailed Remus, uncharacteristically nervous. He beckoned Harry to walk with him and the two of them walked around the edge of the forest. Remus kept looking into the trees, his eyes shining in thought of memories.
After a few minutes, Harry brought up the courage to start conversation. "How was your trip?" He asked, not necessarily interested and a bit disappointed in himself for tiptoeing around the real matter.
Remus looked a bit surprised, but played along. "Oh, it was fine. Just menial Order work. I've been put in charge of visiting certain clans to make sure of what side they take. Voldemort is recruiting all he can get his grasp on, as much as we are trying," he rambled, obviously dreading this meeting as much as Harry.
Harry nodded, listening only halfheartedly. Internally, he was trying to find a way to bring up what had happened. He could just blurt it out and get it over with, but he didn't know if he could just do that. Maybe he could slowly ease into it, but he had no idea how he would do that either. He took a deep, long breath knowing that he should just get it all out at once.
"So, professor Dumbledore told me of your little escapade," Remus said solemnly, looking at him curiously as they continued on their walk.
Harry felt like the world had crashed down to this moment and he couldn't stop himself from blurting out the entire story. He told Remus of everything he had seen and learned. Remus just walked quietly beside him, not opening his mouth once. He avoided Harry's eyes, but Harry knew that the man heard every word that fell from his mouth.
Once Harry was finished, the two had made it all the way to the very edge of the Hogwarts grounds. Remus stopped, looking out into the trees again, thinking. He looked very tired and confused. He opened his mouth to say something, but failed and closed it again.
"It's okay if you don't say anything. I'd understand if … I'm really sorry. I trespassed on whatever you two had. It's okay with me that you two were – I mean I saw how happy you two were together, so of course I'd be okay with it. I'm just really sorry because it wasn't my place to-"
"We were happy," said Remus, cutting Harry off from his ramblings. "We were very happy. He would be glad to know that you know now. He was always the one bringing up the subject of telling you, and I was the one who kept putting it off. He wanted desperately to have you know about us. He … He wanted a family. For the three of us to be a family."
Harry bit his tongue, but couldn't resist, "Why didn't you tell me, then?"
Remus sighed heavily, but sounded as if something had been lifting from him. "I didn't know how you would have taken it. If it weren't for Lily, I'm not sure how James would have reacted himself. I was afraid that you would have rejected us. It would have devastated Sirius, and I could not see that happen."
Remus looked to the ground, scanning his worn shoes. He shook his head once and put an anxious arm around Harry's shoulders, starting to walk. "He loved you more than anything in the world, Harry," he said quietly, staring at him face to face. He gave a small smile, as if it were a very hard thing to do. Happiness didn't seem to come easily to him anymore.
Harry smiled slightly, a lump forming in his throat. He thought of all the moments that Remus had shared with Sirius in that short week. Now, as he looked at the graying man, he saw more of him than in all the years he'd known him. "He loved you, too."
Remus pulled his arm away, trembling. He gave a short cough, screwing his eyes shut, and covered his face with his hand. His breath heaved in his thin chest and he stopped, trying to regain control over his actions. Harry stood there blankly, not knowing what he should do.
With a final deep breath, Remus slowly put his hands to his side. His jaw clenched and he continued walking. "I know that. And I him. We didn't voice it very often, but we both knew." He was quiet for a long time after that, and barely looked at Harry. The two turned around and started heading back toward Hagrid's hut.
"I know how hard it must have been to loose him the first time. I'm sorry," said Harry, trying to keep the conversation going.
"I'm sure you do now." Remus looked extremely startled with what just had escaped his mouth and he covered it with a smile, trying again to keep his arm Harry's shoulder in a father-like manner. "Thank you. I know you are. I just wish that you could have seen him more, especially how he was before he went to prison."
"He was a lot of fun to be with," Harry said, comforted by Remus' arm around his shoulder.
"Oh, he would have had so much fun with you, too. False Quidditch matches, pranks, no doubt at my expense … you two would have had the time of your lives." Remus said this as his smile turned slowly into a grin.
His grin faded, though, and a shadow crossed his face, his eyes unusually bright. With his voice sounding choked, he asked, "Tell me, Harry … Did we make good parents?"
Harry blinked tears away, hating how emotional this entire visit was. But, with a smile, he looked to Remus with as much honesty as he could show on his face. "The best."
Remus gave another cough, but he didn't put his face in his hands. This time he let his tears be shown and a few trickled down to his chin. He looked to the sky once again and inhaled the crisp air. "He'd like to know that he at least had a chance."
He roughly dried the tears away and Harry had to wipe at his own face before the man could see.
"Do you think that there is a way that Sirius could ever come back?" asked Harry, his voice trembling with surprised emotion. An enigmatic look crossed Remus' face and he looked to the sky, slowing his pace. Harry slowed, too, watching every emotion that passed through his eyes.
"The future holds many things, Harry. Nothing is ever certain. I believe that if ever Sirius were to return, he would no longer be the same person that we knew. I've had to see that once already, and I don't believe that I would be able to bear it again."
They continued their walk to the grounds, just enjoying each other's company and taking comfort in their joined grief. Finally, they could see Hagrid's hut not too far off and Remus stopped where he was. "I'd better be going. I don't want anyone to see me," Remus said, patting Harry's shoulder firmly.
"Thanks Remus -- I mean, professor Lupin." Harry couldn't shake the name after a week of calling the man by his first name. He didn't know how much he could call him it now, so he tried to keep with something neutral.
Remus gave a small laugh and smiled. "You can call me Remus, if you wish." Harry nodded, grateful for the chance to be that much closer to him. Remus had wanted him to be his son then, of course he'd like to have the chance in reality.
Remus cleared his throat and continued in more of a business like manner, "Well, I suppose that will be all. I would really like for you to write me, if ever you have any troubles."
Harry nodded and, without thinking, leaned in and wrapped his arms around him in a warm embrace. Remus stood there, shell shocked for a moment, but just when Harry was about to pull away embarrassedly from the hug, he returned it. They stood for a moment in the loose embrace until Remus tightened it, putting his cheek to the top of Harry's head. Harry could feel the man's heart beating wildly, knowing that this was very far from the man that had taught him.
Yet, he was no longer Harry's teacher, or his mentor, but his father.
When they pulled away, Harry promised to write more often. With a short wave, Harry watched him leave until he was a small dot in the distance disappear. Harry traipsed to the castle once again, the sun high in the sky. A breeze tickled the back of his neck and when he looked over to where Remus had disappeared he swore that he could hear Sirius' bark-like laughter.
Later that night, as Harry was getting ready for bed, an owl scrapped at the dorm window, nearly scaring Neville half to death. Opening the latch, a ruffled looking tawny owl swooped in, a small package tied to it's foot. After the boys tried to calm it down, Harry noticed his name on a separate note. He took the parcel from the owl and it struggled to get free and lunged itself out of the window.
When he opened the package the stuffed dog from Sirius and Remus home fell out and Harry bent over to pick it up, hoping that the other boys didn't see it. Seeing that the package wasn't for them, Seamus, Dean, and Neville paid no attention and continued getting ready for bed. Ron gave Harry a questioning look, but didn't push the matter.
Diving into his bed, Harry bid the rest of them goodnight and opened the letter in the confines of his bed hangings. He touched the plush dog once more, seeing that it was in the same condition he had left it. He placed it next to him and read his letter.
Dear Harry, Sirius would have enjoyed watching us act like a pair of girls today. He always teased me and said that I was a woman. But, he truly would have enjoyed this afternoon.
I would like for you to have this stuffed toy once again. As you well know, my mother made this for you when you were small and it's a piece of your own past that I believe that you should own. I wish to hear more from you in the future. I hope that this finds you in good condition. Sincerely,
Harry read over the short note once again and folded it carefully. Scooping up the small toy dog, he laid down, pulling the covers over him. The lights in the dorm shut off and the boys settled in for the night. Just as Harry drifted to sleep he brought the plush to his nose and smelled the familiar clean scent of wood and dog.
A.N./ Thank you, once again, for reading this. I've never had so much fun with a story in my life, and it's because there were people who liked it and reviewed.