Author: Siobhán Rose
Rating: M for strong language and homosexual relations.
DISCLAIMER: Sadly I didn't create Harry Potter, Hogwarts or any of the characters in the following fic – J.K. Rowling did, that's why she's a multi-millionaire (and I'm living off a student loan) and that's why they are all copyrighted to her (and Warner Bros. of course!). I DO NOT know J.K. Rowling, anyone at Bloomsbury or Warner Bros. and I AM NOT making any money out of this so please no suing! I'm broke! The plot IS mine by the way, so please don't nick it. A FICTIONAL SLASH plot, I might add, featuring a male/male homosexual relationship. If you are too young or easily offended by this, there is the back button, you know how to use it. Please don't read any further.
Author's Note: My grandmother, mother and most of my aunties swear that Gripe Water, a traditional remedy, is a miracle cure that can cure colic, upset tummies and all manner of ills in a baby. I'm not going to argue with them. I like living.
To Stan – who has been through so much. Love, like hope, is a good thing and no good thing ever dies.
"Darling – I've made the reservations for eight o'clock…" James straightened his tie and called to his wife. "Come on, Lily – get a move on!"
"We're he-ere!" James jumped as Sirius fell out of the fireplace, closely followed by Remus, who promptly fell on top of him.
"Sirius? Remus?" Lily came down the stairs, slightly shocked to see two of her husband's best friends in a tangled heap on her hearthrug – a heap neither seemed to be in much of a hurry to get out of!
A dawn of realisation flickered across her face. "James – please, please tell me you didn't rope these two idiots in to babysit…"
James went bright red and stared at the ground. "In a word, sort of… maybe… yeah?"
Lily fixed her husband with what could only be described as a Look. "That's it! I'm not going!"
"Lily – I made those reservations two months ago! It's our anniversary!" James sighed.
"And I'm not leaving them pair alone with Harry!" Lily said sternly "Not after last time!"
"Lily – that was Sirius! Not me!" Remus's voice could be heard from the crumbled heap still on the hearthrug.
"It was an accident – I didn't mean it!" Sirius protested, still in said heap "And he did bounce!"
"See, Sirius – not helping your case here!" Lily was obviously still fuming over the time Sirius sort of… dropped Harry and he bounced around the house for two hours.
Remus finally managed to untangle himself and pulled himself to his feet.
"I don't think that comment helped, Pads…" He said, extending his hand to help Sirius up.
"What? It's the truth!" Sirius joked, causing Remus to blush slightly at the grin that had broken many a female heart and had captured his own.
Sirius chuckled slightly as he stood up - James and Lily were now on the verge of a full scale marital tiff. They were always the sort of couple that had a massive row, usually within perfect earshot of the neighbours, at least twice a month. Well, the pair had spent the first six years of knowing of the other's existence yelling insults at each other across the Gryffindor common room. Bad habits die hard – and every marriage needs a little spice…
"Got any chocolate, Remus?" Sirius said in a deadpan voice.
"Yeah – why?" Remus said in confusion.
"Well, I wanted something to eat while enjoying the show…" Sirius smirked as he nodded towards Lily, who had her wand out and looked ready to curse James into next week.
Remus shook his head in disbelief "I don't know why I put up with you…"
"What?" Sirius asked his lover innocently, only to receive a cuff around the ear in reply.
Oblivious to his friends flirting with each other, James was trying to defend himself to one very mad wife.
"Lily… it's our anniversary, we haven't been out since Harry was born and Remus and Sirius volunteered!"
"Mr. Potter – in case you haven't noticed, there are reasons we haven't been out since Harry was born – he's barely nine months old! And of course there is the small matter of being too busy trying to defeat the height of all wizarding evil!" Lily's face was now a rather violent shade of pink that clashed with her red hair.
"I know, I know – we've been far too busy with the Order…" James was pulling the 'understanding husband' card, acutely aware of Lily's wand, still pointed directly at his chest. "That is why we need a night out… a break from everything…"
"And how am I supposed to relax knowing I'm leaving my son with your best friends?" Lily was starting to calm down. "It's bad enough I'm scared shitless that I'll come home to find the Dark Mark over the house…"
"Lily Potter – we have fought off at least ten Death Eaters between us in the past week! Do you honestly think we will let anything happen to Harry?" Sirius said firmly.
Remus spoke up in the soft calming tones that made him the resident peacekeeper. "Lily, Harry's going to be fine… go out and enjoy yourself… Merlin knows none of us get the chance very often…"
Lily stopped pointing her wand at James, and directed it at Sirius. "I swear on the stars above, Sirius Black, if you so much as bruise my son, I will ensure I will make you suffer before I murder you – Voldemort himself would be kinder!"
Sirius went a bit pale – Lily Potter didn't threaten – she promised.
"Right then. Where's my coat?" Lily finally lowered her wand to barely contained cheers from Remus and Sirius.
James raised his eyes to the heavens in a silent prayer of thanksgiving.
"Am I to expect Peter any time soon?" Lily said, putting a black coat over her evening gown – they were going to her favourite Muggle restaurant.
"He's got a date with Sephy!" The three men sang in unison.
Lily paused as she reapplied her lipstick. "Oh – this is getting serious! Do I hear wedding bells? Since you two aren't any closer to setting a date!"
Sirius laughed "What is it about women – the instant they get married they need to marry off everyone else!"
"Right!" Lily said, grabbing her handbag. "Remus – you're in charge. Sirius – no offence, I can't trust you not drop my baby…"
"It was an accident, for Merlin's sake!" Sirius groaned.
"You shouldn't have to worry about food; he's had his dinner already. Bottles in the fridge – heat to 20oC before giving them to Harry – he's due a feed in two hours…"
"Yes, Lily…" Sirius and Remus said together.
"Changing stuff's in the baby bag – please change him the Muggle way, spells give him nappy rash…"
"Anything else you need, it's in the baby bag – read him a book to get him to sleep…"
"He's a bit colicky – there's some Gripe Water in the bag if he's ratty…"
"What the fuck is Gripe Water, Moony?"
"Haven't a clue, Pads…"
"Anything goes wrong, ANYTHING! You let me know!"
"Please, no activities on my couch – I only just cleaned it today!"
"Lily, we haven't a clue what you're on about!" Sirius said innocently.
Lily looked as if she didn't believe him.
"Lily, look at the time please…" James said, looking at the grandfather clock in the hall that they had inherited from Lily's parents.
"I can see what time it is, James!" Lily gave the now giggling babysitters one last filthy look. "Please, please make sure Harry is still alive when I come back!"
With that she Apparated, leaving James to roll his eyes at the ceiling.
"Good luck, James!" Remus said, half in encouragement, half in sympathy.
Sirius adopted a look not unlike James's mother's. "Now, no getting up to mischief!"
Remus was trying desperately not to smirk. "And if you do, don't get caught by the Muggle police like you did last time…"
Just before he Apparated, James made sure that a rather rude gesture involving his middle finger was directed at the pair of them, now doubled up with laughter.
When they had finally managed to get their breath back, Sirius turned to his boyfriend with a rather naughty glint in his eyes.
"Now, Remus Lupin… I have seemed to conveniently forgotten some of what Lily has just said… what was that about her couch…?"
Remus leaned in and whispered in Sirius's ear "I don't know… but I do seem to remember that Lily's couch is very comfortable…"
"Well, then…" Sirius whispered back "…we'd better go and test it out, hadn't we?"
At that point all that could be heard was a soft thud from one of the upstairs bedrooms.
"Harry!" Sirius raced up the stairs, Remus very closely behind him. Both of them had their wands drawn and ready, their hearts racing at what they might find when they opened the door to Harry's room…
They found Harry sitting on the floor, smiling up at his godfather, and the bars of his cot had mysteriously…blown away. Remus's sharp eyes surveyed the room and Sirius did a quick three-sixty but there was no sign of any other disturbance. Letting out a collective sigh of relief, they lowered their wands – but their hearts continued to race.
The Prewetts had been murdered the month before.
Sirius picked up his godson and tried to make light of the atmosphere.
"At least we don't have to worry about this one getting into Hogwarts, do we?"
Remus muttered a spell that returned the cot to its original state and turned to Sirius and the little boy he had come to regard as his nephew.
"Yeah – he's going to be trouble, this one – just as bad as his dad…" He said, tickling Harry's cheek.
To put it simply, neither Remus nor Sirius had much experience with babies. Remus came from a large family (well, more like clan) and had countless younger cousins, but he didn't have much contact with them – most of his aunties and uncles didn't want the family werewolf near their little cherubs. Sirius's family were so prim and proper (and practically drowning in galleons) that if there was a birth in the family at all, the child was whisked into a nanny's arms and not seen or heard of until they were at least seven.
So this, the first time they had to look after a baby on their own for more than half an hour, was a bit of an educational experience for them.
There were a few mishaps – like when Sirius tried to warm Harry's bottle by magic and ended up blowing it up. And when Remus fed Harry too quickly, tried to burp him and Harry ended up throwing up the entire contains of the bottle down the back of Remus's favourite cardigan. Even after Sirius used 'Scourigify', Remus remained convinced that the cardigan would never be the same again.
"Merlin! What is Lily feeding this kid?" Sirius exclaimed in disgust as he tried to remove a filthy nappy from a wriggling Harry. "How can one baby make so much mess!"
Remus was trying to keep Harry distracted and reasonably still by conjuring shapes and patterns above his head with his wand. It failed miserably as Harry was too busy trying to escape his godfather's clutches.
"Harry, I don't want to be doing this any more than you do, but if you stay still for five minutes, we might get this over and done with…" Sirius sighed, stopping Harry's latest escape attempt.
He realised about two minutes later that you can't reason with a nine-month-old when Harry decided he couldn't wait until Sirius had put on a clean nappy to empty his bladder – and promptly weed all over Sirius's face.
"Why you little…" Sirius tried to sound angry but Harry chuckled with a smile that would have melted a Death Eater's heart and Sirius found himself just shaking his head with exasperation and walking off to wash his face as Remus howled with laughter.
He came back to find Harry sat on Remus's lap, fully changed, grinning as he tried to break Remus's reading glasses.
"What are you grinning at, Potter?" Sirius laughed – Harry looked so much like his father but was looking at him with an innocence James could never have pulled off. That was a look that only Lily could have pulled off.
"Are you going to your Uncle Padfoot, Harry?" Remus said cringing slightly as Harry's latest attempt successfully broke the bridge of his glasses.
"Come on, little man – time you were in bed…" Sirius kissed Remus lightly on the cheek as he lifted Harry out of Remus's arms "Your mummy would skin me alive if she knew you were still up…give Uncle Moony back his glasses…"
Harry dropped the pieces of the glasses, which Remus instantly repaired with his wand.
"No harm done… night night Harry…" Remus smiled as he returned to the copy of the Daily Prophet he was studying before the whole nappy fiasco.
Sirius came back down the stairs about ten minutes later to find Remus still intently studying the paper. He stood in the doorway, watching the look of pure concentration on his lover's face – Remus obviously didn't like what he was reading.
"Harry off to sleep, then?" Remus asked, noticing Sirius standing there.
"Out like a light…" Sirius sat beside him on the couch. "What's the problem with the paper? You don't look very happy about something…"
Remus showed him the offending article. "The Minstry's putting a new set of restrictions on werewolves – Barty Crouch is convinced that we're all in league with Voldemort…"
Sirius stared at the photo of the Minster for Magical Defence, who was shaking his fists while making a passionate speech, and let out a grunt of disgust.
"It's going to be a lot harder for me to find a new job now…" Remus said quietly, staring at the flames in the fire. He had lost his job again not two weeks ago.
Sirius pulled him into his arms "Don't worry – we'll manage… everything will work out in the end…"
That was Sirius for you – the eternal optimist. Remus, in contrast, was very much a realist.
Remus took off his reading glasses and snuggled deeper into his boyfriend's embrace, a place he could stay forever in.
Forever, however, wasn't happening that night, as they soon heard loud crying from Harry's room.
"I'll go…" Remus reluctantly pulled himself from Sirius's arms. Harry, you seem to have inherited your dad's sense of timing as well, he thought as he trudged up the stairs.
This was the first of many trips up and down those stairs that night. Harry seemed to have a sixth sense for knowing when Sirius and Remus were getting close to breaking his mother's instruction of no activities on the couch as he was crying every time Remus and Sirius got within two inches of each other. Remus tried reading him a story, but Harry woke up crying again after fifteen minutes. Sirius tried walking the floors with him a few times, but to no avail. They even tried giving him some of the Gripe Water that Lily had left, even though neither of them had a clue what it was or what it did. When Harry woke up crying for about the sixth time, around about midnight, both Remus and Sirius felt they were running out of options.
"Any joy?" Remus asked as Sirius began another run of walking the floors with Harry in his arms.
"None at all… Lily is going to curse us into next Tuesday if we can't get this child to sleep…"
Remus watched as Sirius paced the living room again, Harry still screaming at the top of his lungs. "He isn't hungry, he doesn't need burping and he doesn't need his nappy changed… I can't figure out what's wrong with him."
"Well, James has a nasty habit of whining for no reason…" Sirius said.
"Do you want something to eat, Sirius? We haven't had any dinner yet…" Remus asked.
Sirius just nodded, and kept trying in vain to comfort the screaming baby in his arms.
As Remus worked away in the kitchen, he could start to hear Sirius's voice over Harry's cries.
Sirius was singing, an old lullaby his nanny had sung to him when he was younger, a lullaby he then used to sing to Remus after a bad transformation, when the aches in his bones stopped him from sleeping.
It was Remus's favourite sound in the world, as he got to hear it so rarely.
As Harry's cries quietened down he could hear Sirius's singing even clearer, Sirius had a voice and Remus often thought that Sirius could have been a big star on the Wizarding Wireless Network if he wasn't so stubborn about opening his mouth to sing.
About half an hour later Remus went to tell Sirius his dinner was ready and found him fast asleep on the couch with Harry sleeping in his arms.
Remus smiled at the scene, noticing how natural Sirius looked to have a baby in his arms. There was no sign of the awkward man who couldn't tell top from bottom of a baby a few hours before hand.
And he felt a stab of bitterness, as he knew that Sirius would never have his own child to cradle in his arms like that.
Their own child.
"Did I fall asleep?" Sirius opened his eyes and found Remus watching them.
"Yeah…" Remus said softly "Your dinner's ready, but you two looked so peaceful I had to let you sleep…"
"What's wrong, Moony?" Sirius sat up slowly, being careful not to wake Harry. He had noticed the funny sort of look in Remus's eyes.
"Harry's making me a bit broody!" He joked, but his laugh was a little hollow.
"Do you honestly think Harry here will be the only baby of the Marauders? At the rate that James and Lily are going, it will be a full house before long. And Pete and Sephy will be catching up soon by the looks of it…"
Remus nodded but then sighed, sitting beside him "That isn't the point though, is it?"
"No, it isn't." Sirius leant over to kiss his soulmate. Harry stirred a little but remained fast asleep.
Sirius smiled sadly as the kiss ended. "I'll go and put Harry back in his cot, and then we'll have some dinner…"
Lily and James Apparated back in the small hours of the morning to find Remus and Sirius out for count, curled up on the couch in each other's arms.
"Ahhh… they're so cute – it's enough to make you sick!" James laughed, but Lily gave him a filthy look for being too loud.
"Make yourself useful, James – go check on Harry…" Lily said as she took a throw, and placed it over the sleeping couple.
"Count yourselves lucky, lads…" she whispered "If you're exhausted after one evening with him – think how I feel!"