Note: Written for the Raising Harry Ficathon, challenge #1: At a young age, Harry tries to cure Moony's lycanthropy.
The black-haired man turned around, looking down at Harry curiously. Sirius put down the knife he was using to cut up the chicken and crouched in front of him, staring at Harry intently as if he wanted nothing more than to speak with him.
"Where are the washcloths?" Harry asked, smiling up at his guardian innocently. The look didn't work on Remus, but on Sirius...
"In the cabinet across from the upstairs bathroom. Why?"
Harry didn't hear the question–he was already on his way to the upstairs hallway. He steadily took each step, determination lining his expression. The washcloths were right where Sirius had said they were, but Harry couldn't reach them. He was much too short. He couldn't ask Sirius for help; he had to do this all by himself. Harry's eyes scanned the hall for possible aids; the table at the end of the hallway was too big for him to move, he knew that Remus and Sirius had a chair in their room but it was too big as well, but the step stool he used to reach the sink might work... Harry pulled it into the hall and climbed up onto it and lifted his hands up.
The shelf was still out of reach.
He stood on his tiptoe, the blue washcloth on the bottom the only thing he saw, and stretched out his fingers. The piece of fabric was just within his grasp... Finally, he reached it and tugged. Hard. The towels and washcloths that were piled on top of his all tumbled off of the shelf and landed on him. Harry fell backwards, landing on the floor with a thump, and promptly burst into delighted laughter. Remembering to be secretive, he clasped a hand to his mouth until the giggling stopped. He picked up his blue cloth and stool and went into the bathroom, settling himself in front of the sink.
Harry stepped up to it, reached for the faucet handle, and then remembered that he couldn't reach that either! He wanted to cry. He plopped off of the stool as the tears trickled from his eyes. All he wanted to do was help! Something in the kitchen hit the floor with a loud clatter and a swear word from Sirius (who would be in trouble if Remus heard him).
Harry wiped his eyes and nose, and stood up with new determination. He was helping Remus. Remus needed him. He settled for stomping his feet a little in frustration. Harry couldn't ask Sirius for help with this either, so he took a deep breath and reached as hard as he could for the faucet. His face was scrunched up in concentration, his glasses falling off, his tongue peeking out from between his lips and his fingers wiggling, but still no luck! He concentrated more, willing the faucet on–and the handle turned! He hadn't touched it, but cold water now ran from the tap! Harry grinned and put the cloth under the water until he was satisfied, then headed down the hallway.
At the end of the hall was a closed door. He paused in front of it, looked at the stairs to see if Sirius was coming, then reached up and quietly turned the knob. Inside, the room had a sickly feeling in the air that clearly forbid six-year-olds. The curtains were shut and the room so completely quiet that Harry thought that he might be breathing too loudly (he tried holding his breath for a bit, but it didn't feel very good, so he gave that idea up). There was a lump on one side of the bed that didn't move very much. It only moved when the sound of broom rides escaped from beneath the covers. Harry headed for the lump in the covers, feeling like a spy on a deadly mission. His object was that almost-still lump. He would not fail.
Harry pulled up the padded chair from the other side of the room, careful not to make too much noise, climbed up on it while grasping his dripping washcloth, and then looked down. Remus was asleep. There were old scars on his face that he'd had as long as Harry could remember and a white bandage that covered his cheek. He wasn't wearing a shirt and Harry could see the same sort of bandage on Remus's shoulder. His hair was all sweaty and he looked exhausted. Harry carefully put the washcloth over Remus' forehead and settled himself in the chair to wait.
A girl at Harry's school said that her grandmother had died and she was very sad about it. When the other kids asked her what dying was, she said that she would never see her grandmother ever again. Not even once! When they asked her how it happened, she said that she didn't know. All she could remember was that her grandmother was sick a lot. Harry had gotten scared at that. Remus was sick a lot too. Harry would go stay with nice old Mrs. Figg for a night and the next day Sirius would make Harry be really quiet because Remus was sick. It happened every time.
This time Harry had tried not going to Mrs. Figg's house. He fought, screamed, cried, bit and kicked, but they made him go. And when he got home, Remus was sick again. Harry had to help Remus or he'd never see him again! Sure, Sirius was more fun and gave him ice cream and candy when Remus wasn't looking, and took Harry on broom rides, and to his first Quidditch match. But Remus was there when Harry got home to ask Harry how school was. He pinned Harry's drawings up in the house, cooked him cheese sandwiches on short days and gave Harry an extra cookie when the other kids teased him about his glasses. Remus did have those horrible rules about running in the house and he made Harry use manners, which Sirius never did. But Remus also watched Harry's TV shows with him, even when he had other things to do, and took Harry to the toy store. Harry didn't like Remus more than Sirius, but he certainly didn't want him to die.
So if Sirius couldn't make Remus better, Harry decided that he would have to. Remus made a sleepy noise and rolled over, dropping the washcloth on the ground with a too-loud plop. Harry stilled, making sure that the noise hadn't woken Remus. When he was sure that Remus was asleep, he climbed back to the floor to retrieve the cloth. It hadn't done anything for Remus, he still looked horrible. How a wet piece of fabric was supposed to help didn't make any sense to Harry, but he had seen Remus put one on Sirius' forehead when he was sick a few weeks ago. He threw the cloth on the chair and left the room.
He walked over the towels in the hall, past the sound of running water, around the closet door, and down the steps into the kitchen. Sirius wasn't in there, which made Harry smile. He wanted to do this with as little help as possible. Harry remembered that when he was sick, Sirius and Remus would feed him soup. So, Harry needed to make soup for when Remus woke up. He opened the bottom cupboard that held the pots and pulled on the one that he wanted. Everything on the shelf fell onto the floor in a clattering mess that was much too loud. Harry moved to the next cupboard that held the bowls. He found a soup bowl easily, and hardly knocked anything over that time. Just as he was opening the pantry to get the soup, Sirius came in.
"Uh oh..." Harry said, rooted to his spot.
"Harry, what are you doing? You know that you aren't allowed to play with things in the kitchen without me or Remus here! You could get hurt!" Tears welled up in Harry's eyes; he hated Sirius when Remus was sick. He was no fun at all.
"I was just trying to help!" he sniffed.
Sirius sighed, "I'm sorry I yelled Harry, but you could get hurt in here alone. And all that noise you were making probably woke Remus up."
"I didn't mean to!" Harry protested, less upset now that Sirius was calmer. "I just wanted to make him soup so that he can get better!"
Sirius smiled and picked Harry up. "That's a very nice thought Harry, but I'm already making some, see?" He pointed at the stove top that Harry couldn't see before, where a medium sized pot sat on the back burner. "I'm sure that Remus would like to hear that you tried to help, though."
"Will he be all better after this?" Harry asked.
"After a few days he'll be better, yes. He just needs to rest for a while."
"Will he be better for good? Will he never get sick again?"
Sirius' eyebrows went together like he was confused. "Harry, I can't guarantee that he'll never get sick again..." he started slowly.
"I don't want him to ever get sick again Sirius! I want him all better, not just a little bit! I don't want to go to Mrs. Figg's, I don't want Remus sick and I don't want him to die!" Harry cried, hitting Sirius with his tiny fists. Sirius sat down in a kitchen chair and stared down at Harry.
"Where did you hear that Harry?"
"At school!" he wailed. Sirius pulled him close so that Harry could cry into his jacket.
"Sssshh, Harry, it's okay. Remus isn't going to die, he's just sick. Harry... it's fine, Remus is fine, he's okay, I promise," he kissed the top of Harry's head and rocked him until his crying stopped. "Now what at school gave you this idea?" he asked. Harry sniffed again and wiped at his runny nose.
"A-a girl at school said–she said that her grandma was sick, really sick, and then–then she died and now she can't see her grandma ever, ever again and Remus is always sick and I don't want him to die because he's always sick!" Sirius hugged Harry closer, making some of Harry's tears go away. His face was squished into Sirius' icky, smoke-smelling coat that Harry didn't like very much. Sirius didn't hug him all that often, but when he did it made everything better.
"Remus isn't going to die Harry, I promise you. The are different kinds of sicknesses. Some make you feel icky and others hurt you. Remus' just makes him feel icky and really tired." Harry nodded. "Now why don't you go upstairs and play in your room? After Remus wakes up and I talk with him, you and I can go cheer him up together, okay?" Harry nodded again and hopped off of Sirius' lap.
As Sirius cleaned up the pots, Harry went back up the stairs and into his room. He climbed onto his bed and started to think. Sirius said that Remus wouldn't die, but Remus still didn't feel good. What did Remus do for Harry when he didn't feel good? Harry looked around his room, searching for something that could help. He spotted nothing. So, he put his feet to the floor again and started searching through his boxes and bins. Harry searched his toy chests and the things under his bed, the boxes in his closet and all of his drawers. Again, he found nothing. It was when he was almost ready to give up that he spotted the stuffed frog that Remus and Sirius had given him the last time he went to the doctor for shots, sitting innocently on top of his dresser. He smiled. Harry jumped up off of the floor and grabbed the frog, and then dumped the small box of his animals on the ground and picked through, taking as many as he could hold. He carried them to Remus and Sirius' room, nudging the door open.
Both of his guardians were inside, sitting on the bed. Remus was blowing on a spoonful of soup and Sirius looked as if he had just finished talking.
"What've you got there Harry?" Remus asked over his soup. His voice sounded raspier than normal.
"My animals. They're to make you feel better," Harry said. Sirius motioned for him come closer and took the stuffed animals from Harry. He put them on the bed between himself and Remus, and then hoisted Harry up and sat him amongst the animals. Harry looked over at Remus, who was swallowing his soup with visible effort, like he had a very bad sore throat.
"Will you be better soon, Remus?" Harry asked, still staring up at him. Remus put his spoon down and set the bowl slowly onto the table beside the bed.
"Is this about the girl at your school's grandmother, Harry?" Harry nodded, and Remus sighed. "I'll get sick again, but I'm not going to die." He ran his hand through Harry's hair fondly. "Do you know what a werewolf is, Harry?" Harry shook his head, his tiny features scrunched up in confusion. "A werewolf is a person like everyone else, but they change into a wolf on full moons. Have you seen a full moon, Harry?"
Harry nodded, "Mrs. Figg showed me once, before I went to bed." Remus looked sad after Harry said that, but he kept talking.
"They can't remember who they are and attack any human nearby. If they can't get to a person, they'll attack themselves... Sirius, will you hand me that book?" he asked, pointing at a book on the desk across the room.
Sirius, who had been quiet thus far, shook his head. "That book is too–"
"Sirius, he needs to know. Please get the book?" Sirius signed and did as he was asked. Remus thanked Sirius and flipped through the book's dusty pages to a moving picture of a large, furious looking wolf. It looked bigger than the other wolves that Harry had seen pictures of, and a lot meaner.
"See here, Harry?" Remus asked patiently, pointing to the picture. "They look like that." Harry stared at the picture. It looked really scary but Harry didn't say so. "After they change back, they don't feel very well. They hurt themselves and are very tired..."
Remus stopped talking and looked away from Harry. Sirius spoke up in a quiet voice, "Harry, Remus is a werewolf. That's why he's always sick, and why you always go to Mrs. Figg's house on the full moon. We don't want you to get hurt."
Harry looked from him to Remus. Neither would look at him. He somehow knew that it was an important subject that mattered to both of them. He didn't see anything wrong with Remus now, and Remus had never grown fur or fangs around Harry... So, he did the first thing he could think of. He got up on his knees, turned around, and hugged Remus around the neck. Remus hugged him back tighter, and Harry smiled.
"So I can't make you all better then?" he asked Remus. Remus pulled away and looked him in the eye.
"No, I'll always be like this. I have been since I was your age. But you help Harry," Remus smiled, touching Harry's cheek.
Sirius reached over and rubbed Harry's back. "Why don't we let Remus rest a while longer? We can go clean up all those towels and pans, and the water in the bathroom."
Harry smiled guiltily and hopped off of the bed, eager to leave the room before Remus found out how big a mess he had made. He stopped in the hallway when Sirius spoke again.
"I didn't think we'd have to do that so soon," he sounded tired all of a sudden. Harry wondered why.
"Perhaps it's better sooner than later. It's easier for everyone this way. We don't have to lie to him any longer, and he can grow up accepting it."
"He is James and Lily's son, isn't he?" Somebody moved; Harry could hear the sheets rustle. "He has the right idea. Wanting to make you better–"
"Sirius," Remus' tone was stern, like that time Harry had used his colors all over the kitchen walls a long time ago. It was a no-nonsense tone that meant trouble. He almost giggled, but pressed his hands to his mouth to keep it from escaping. "We've talked about this. I've told you not to waste your money on chasing some far-fetched chance of a cure."
"I know, I know..." Sirius grumbled, and then sighed. Harry really had to hold his giggles in that time. Sirius always called himself a grown-up, but to Harry he just seemed like really big kid. Sirius and Remus were suddenly quiet... Really, really quiet.
Harry slowly tiptoed to the door and poked his head around the corner. They were both on the bed, looking asleep. They were curled together like they did when they watched movies and when they were happy about something and when they thought that Harry wasn't looking. Remus looked like he was feeling better, and was happy, and Harry was satisfied. No matter what, in Harry's little world, Sirius could make their Moony feel better, even if Harry couldn't. He had tried. Didn't Remus always say that trying was all that mattered? He supposed it was a grown-up Thing. Either way, it made Remus feel better and that was all that mattered.
Harry smiled and switched off the light, then started downstairs to play with his trucks.
A/n--I had so many difficulties with this. It is official--I cannot write six-year-old. Please review, and if you have constructive crit I'd love to hear it.