Just the Right Touch
"There! All finished." Harry straightened the picture above the mantle and stood back with a smile. Everything was finally perfect. Three days 'til Christmas, and he was all unpacked. Home. With an entire flat all to himself.
Harry's smile faded just a bit.
He looked over at Hedwig's cage and tried to refresh his grin. "Just you and me now, eh?"
Hedwig did not look terribly impressed.
Harry shrugged. "Well, too bad. We just have to live with it. And anyway, it'll be fun. I've never had a place all my own before. It'll be great, right?"
He looked around the room again, shoulders sagging just a bit. As great as it was to have a place of his own, he really didn't have enough things to fill it, and there was an awful lot of empty space.
"Sure it's a little bare, but Mrs. Weasley said she'd help me pick out some things when she and the others got back from Egypt. I'm sure things will look a lot better, then."
Hedwig seemed to shudder a little, as though commenting on Mrs. Weasley's decorating skills.
Harry paused to consider the hotchpotch and clutter that made up the Burrow and frowned a little. He loved the Weasley home, but it was very...well, Weasley. He wasn't sure how Harry it would be to have knicknacks and family-ish frills everywhere. After all, he was a bachelor. Perhaps it would be better if he bought some things himself—although of course he really didn't know where to start.
He adjusted the picture on the mantle yet again, feeling just a little wistful as a younger version of Ron, Hermione and himself waved enthusiastically back at him. He caught himself as he unconsciously half-raised a hand in response.
Sighing heavily, he dropped his hand. "Miss you guys," he muttered. Harry turned away, feeling lonely and sorry for himself.
Something caught Harry at the back of the knees, knocking him forward across the crate he'd half-transformed into a coffee table. "Shit!" he yelped. Rolling onto his side, Harry struggled to extricate his wand. When he'd managed to scramble to his knees, his jaw dropped. "Sirius? What are you going here?"
Sirius had a hand pressed to his cheek, and he made a small, pained sound. "Harry, why were you blocking the Floo?"
"Well, I didn't expect—"
"That's going to be a nice bruise tomorrow. Nothing like trying to visit your godson only to trip over him and go face-first into a packing crate. Which is in your living room why, I might add?" Sirius' hair was tousled from tumbling over Harry, and he was sprawled on the floor, but as always he looked completely cool, as if he'd just set the standard for falling over people and knocking into furniture, and knew beyond doubt that it would soon become all the rage to do so.
Harry glanced down. "It was a coffee table until you knocked it over. Guess I didn't transfigure it well enough. But what are you doing here?" Harry began straightening things, trying not to look at his godfather. Why did Sirius have to be so completely charming, even when he was being an idiot? Surely Harry wasn't the only one affected this way when Sirius was around—suddenly shy, heart pounding, palms sweating. He probably had a dozen girls on the string who got the same way. Suddenly feeling depressed, Harry glanced at the man, huffing to blow the fringe out of his eyes.
Sirius blinked, and his expression slowly morphed into something indignant. "I went home to Grimmauld Place not an hour ago—if you even want to call it a home; I certainly don't—and walked in on—" He suddenly stopped short, looking at Harry in discomfort.
"On what?" Harry prodded, keenly interested. Remus and Sirius had been trying to renovate Grimmauld Place so that Sirius could sell it, and they'd found all sorts of fascinating, if rather horrible things.
"I...probably shouldn't tell you," Sirius mumbled. "You're just a kid; you don't need to hear about things like that."
Harry pushed his glasses up his nose, giving the man an irate glare. "I'm in my twenties, Sirius. I'm not tottering about waiting for someone to come and change my nappies."
"And I defeated Voldemort, man to man, or man to monster, or however you want to put it. I learned a lot about dark magic before I managed it, so I don't appreciate being patronised."
Sirius seemed very surprised. "I wasn't patronising you! Or—I didn't mean to."
"You were. Even if you didn't mean to. Now, what did you come across at Grimmauld Place?"
Sirius looked doubtful for a moment, but then shrugged a bit, arching a brow at Harry as if to say, You asked for it, mate. "I walked in on Remus and Snape snogging in the front hall," he said grimly. "I thought maybe Snape attacked Remus or something—dirty, underhanded git that he is—but Remus was—Remus seemed—Remus was enveloping the man like my mother's old werewolf-fur stole, and making horrible little happy noises all the while, and then when I yelled—"
"You yelled?" Harry interrupted, his eyes round. He covered his mouth with a hand.
"Wouldn't you? I couldn't help it! It was an involuntary shriek of pain. Anyway, they both jumped away from each other and sort of started trying to straighten their robes, and then Remus tried to explain. He stuttered and stammered and made a giant arse of himself. He was all—just—dreadfully reasonable about the whole thing. And I knew then he couldn't be under Imperio because no one under that sort of curse could be so completely, well, Remus." Sirius fell silent and looked down at his hands, shaking his head a little. "I couldn't think what to do, so I just sort of made the sign of the cross with my wand and index finger, scooted backward out of the hall and ran for it."
Harry carefully set the packing crate on its side and sank down on it. "I see."
"I warned you that it was foul and disgusting," Sirius told him soberly.
Harry couldn't hold back a smile. "Count on you to completely balls everything up and overreact," he commented.
An affronted noise rose from Sirius, and he blinked up at Harry. "Me? Are you mad? I didn't do anything at all. And I should have. I should have hexed Snape straight out from under his greasy hair."
"Sirius. Have you stopped to consider the fact that it really wasn't any of your business?"
Sirius looked shocked. "Harry! Do you have any idea—?"
"I do, actually. I've kind of wondered about them for a long time now, especially since Remus broke his engagement and Snape offered to help break the curses at Grimmauld Place. I got the idea they were looking for a place they could—you know—discreetly."
"They can go you know somewhere else!" Sirius yelped. "That's my house they're you know-ing in!"
"What do you care? You're selling it anyway," Harry pointed out reasonably.
"Are you saying you don't mind?"
"Remus is a big boy. He can make his own decisions," Harry noted.
"But...they're both men!"
Harry squirmed a little, hoping Sirius would attribute it to the uncomfortable crate, rather than wondering if Harry wasn't a little too at ease with the idea of two men snogging. "Does that really bother you?" he mumbled.
"Well, it's sure going to bother a lot of other people," Sirius told him evasively.
"I imagine that's why they've been keeping it a secret," Harry responded. He gnawed his thumbnail, not meeting Sirius' eyes. The man really did have a problem with it, and Harry felt like a lead weight had settled in his stomach. "You're not going to tell anyone, are you?"
Sirius considered it as Harry stared at him miserably. Sirius didn't look upset, but Harry noticed that he kept chewing his bottom lip, as if nervous or angry. "No, I guess not," he finally said in a gruff voice. He glanced up at Harry. "Why are you using a crate as a coffee table-cum-chair, anyway?"
Harry faked a smile and shrugged. "I just finished unpacking today, and I really don't own a lot of stuff, you know. Particularly furniture. Mrs. Weasley will help me pick some out when she gets back," he added.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "You'll be the first bachelor I know to have his entire place done up in chintz, gingham and calico," he remarked.
Harry sat up straight, his eyes unfocussing. He could just picture it, really. "Oh. Yes. Well," he said weakly.
"Can't you pick out your own stuff?"
"I don't know where to go," Harry said in sort of a wail. "And I don't know about things like draperies!"
Sirius barked a laugh. "Yes, draperies certainly are one of life's bigger mysteries," he said wryly.
Harry gasped a little, suddenly realizing what he'd said. "Oh! I didn't mean anything about the veil!" he hurried to explain, but Sirius waved him off.
"I know. Not your fault," he said. "Any of it. I'm back and that's an end of it."
An awkward silence settled over the two of them. Harry searched his mind for a safe topic, and he could tell that Sirius was doing the same.
"So...Christmas," Sirius finally settled on. "It's coming up quick."
Harry nodded in relief. "Yeah. The Weasleys will be back soon. I'm glad. I mean, I know Ron and Hermione have their own place, but it gets sort of lonely when it's just me all the time. I've never lived alone." Harry realized he was babbling, but Sirius looked like he understood.
"Yeah, it can be kind of depressing," he said slowly. "But you're not a prisoner, you know. You can go out any time you want. Get take-out, walk in the park, whatever."
Harry shrugged a little. "Yeah...but I have to come back sometime. And it's—not exactly what I imagined," he confessed. "I thought it would be really fantastic, but I guess I don't have the knack for making a place—for making it—home," he choked. He could feel his face heating up, and turned away, embarrassed.
Sirius sat up quickly. "Well, it definitely needs some work, I can see that," he said. "But I bet between the two of us we could make this a real—what's the Muggle saying? A real swinging pad."
Harry grinned a little. "I don't think they say 'swinging' anymore," he said. He looked around him. "You really think we could make it—er—better?"
Sirius smiled broadly. "With my expertise, you'll have a flat that everyone envies," he assured Harry. "Now, come on and get your scarf."
"Where are we going?"
"You'll find out when we get there."
Sirius took him to a narrow little shop in Hogsmeade. There was no front window, and no decorations apart from the sign above the door, done in black with white handwriting in loopy scrawl.
"Abracadabra Accoutrements," Harry read. "You're kidding, right? I don't even know what an accoutrement is."
"Beats me too, but trust me, Harry; it's the only place to buy all the magical things you need." He swung open the door and went inside, gesturing for Harry to follow.
Harry glanced around, really surprised. Everything seemed a lot newer and cleaner than in most Wizarding shops, and like all magical buildings, the inside unfurled into the distance, much larger than it seemed possible from the outside.
Harry looked down at the collection of doorstops near his feet, each with a price-tag for a really outrageous amount of money. One was a sleek chunk of metal, another was gold and encrusted with jewels. Looking up, he saw that there were chairs set around coffee tables and magical hearths, kitchens off to his right, wood panelling in the back, and loos in one section with seats that promptly slammed back down after you were finished.
"So...where do we start?"
"May I help you?" The woman who approached them had an aquiline nose and yellowish hair that was slicked back under her hat, which gave Harry the rather disturbing notion that someone had buttered her head.
"What we have here is a bachelor," Sirius told her. "But not just any bachelor; the sort of bachelor that's rich and famous and completely unable to spot a trend unless it came up and told him what it was in a thick German accent."
"I see," the woman replied, looking vaguely amused. "And what trends does this young bachelor need?" Harry flushed a little as he realized she spoke with a thick German accent—he hoped to God Sirius hadn't just made a pass at the woman on Harry's behalf.
"Everything!" Sirius flung his arms wide. "Except packing crates. Right now his decor is Early Packing Crate, and I'd like to move up to something inhabitable and stylish."
"Very good. Come with me. My name is Solveig, should we be separated. We'll start with the living room. I assume the young bachelor has one of these?"
"Yeah, and he hasn't even had time to cover it in take-out boxes yet."
"This chaise lounge," she said, leading them over to a low, purple chair, "is just what any bachelor needs."
"Yeah?" Harry looked at it from several angles. "It looks like a piece of modern art, but not exactly comfortable to sit in," he pointed out.
"Ah, but Mr. Bachelor, what else is magic for?" She flourished a wand as if to motion to the chair and it changed, its back reclining, the fabric puffing up as though it had eaten several meals and had become fat with stuffing.
"Wicked!" Harry said. "But can I manage that?"
She laughed lightly. "The charm is built in. Why waste your magic on household items? Today's wizards are busy men."
"I'm not thrilled with the colour," Harry said regretfully, and she made an impatient noise. With another gesture, it became Gryffindor red. Harry's eyes lit up.
Sirius walked over and tried the chair out, arranging himself in a casual, come-hither kind of sprawl. He winked at Harry. "Very comfortable," he said.
Harry swallowed hard. "Sold."
They finished stocking up the living room with all the seating, tables and lighting Harry could possibly need, and then moved on to the kitchen and bathroom. Eventually, when they were approaching the bedroom section, Harry tugged on Sirius' sleeve. "I know my parents left me a lot of money, and my job pays pretty well, but this is going to cost a fortune. I mean, I'm building a better Hogwarts, here. A few secret passages and portraits that insult anyone who happens to pass and I'll be set."
Sirius smiled affectionately. "Don't worry about it. It's Christmas, remember? What's the point of unloading all that junk at Grimmauld Place if I don't spend the money on loved ones?"
"Sirius! You can't spend all that money on me. That's crazy!"
"I never got to live with you the way I wanted. I never got to buy you birthday or Christmas presents before, except for the Firebolt."
"This is way beyond a Firebolt, Sirius. This is in the stratosphere, compared to a Firebolt."
Sirius just smiled sunnily, and Harry felt his knees sort of melt. Sirius was really too gorgeous for his own good, and Harry really didn't think an appropriate way of thanking his godfather would be something along the lines of leaping into his arms and snogging him breathless. If he did leap, Sirius probably wouldn't catch him. He'd be more likely to shove Harry away.
"The bedroom, of necessity, should be cozy, yet playful. That is what today's bachelors want," Solvieg said, interrupting their discussion.
"Uh...yeah?" Harry looked around, distracted.
"You don't want wallpaper or paint, of course."
"No. For you, I see an arrangement of thin wires crossing one wall, with small, square mirrors attached at intervals. They're moveable, so you may arrange them in a pattern, or not. Large bed, but not too large. It should be suggestive, but not crass."
Harry blushed. "Do you, er, have any suggestions as to the colour-scheme?"
She looked critically at him. "If we use the mirrors, we should do varying shades of grey and silver. Nothing overly gaudy, you understand. For a splash of colour, choose only one, and use hints of it here and there. A cushion on the bed, a lampshade, and so on."
"Fantastic," Sirius said with a grin. He looked at Harry. "Ready to take it all home?"
Harry shrugged, then nodded helplessly.
Solveig smiled. "I'll have it shrunk and waiting for you at the front desk."
"I think we ought to decorate as we go," Sirius suggested as they began carrying things in. "Christmas decorations, I mean."
"Why?" Harry dropped his new chair and tapped it with his wand, watching it expand. He had to admit that it looked a lot nicer than the packing crate.
"Well, just think; Molly will be here in just a few days. Do you want her doing it then?"
"Good point," Harry admitted as Sirius festively flourished his wand and shot out a garland that draped itself along the mantle. Harry grinned. "I've got eggnog in the kitchen. I don't have any actual eggs, or bread, or milk, but I do have eggnog."
Sirius laughed. "Get it, then. We'll have a grand time as we do this place up." He arranged a couple of side tables for Harry to set the drinks on. "It's looking better already. Not bad for a couple of bachelors, eh?"
Harry gave him a wry smile as he returned, handing him a glass. "A couple of bachelors and a German interior designer," he corrected.
"Well, she may have helped a little, but she's not here now," Sirius pointed out. "I mean, she didn't tell me to put this little table thing adjacent to the sofa, now did she? I thought that up all on my own."
"You're a decorating genius," Harry replied, rolling his eyes.
Sirius pulled a flask out of his robes and poured some amber liquid into both their glasses, to Harry's amusement.
"Just rum. Goes great in eggnog and besides, after my trauma today, I need a drink."
Harry followed Sirius unhappily into the bedroom, where Sirius installed the bed. "Are you still upset about that?"
After casting Engorgio on the bed, Sirius flopped down on it, testing out the springs. "Harry, I really don't want to talk about it," he said with vehemence.
Harry sat on the bed, suddenly feeling awful all over again. If Sirius hated the idea of Remus and Severus so much, what would he say when he found out about Harry—his own godson? Would he be terribly disappointed? Maybe even disgusted? Harry was pretty sure he couldn't help being that way, but he was also pretty sure he wouldn't be able to hide it forever. Ideally, he wouldn't have to. Harry looked over at the man, trying to gauge Sirius' most likely reaction.
"Whoa, why are you making those big, sad, soulful eyes?" Sirius said, looking taken aback. "What'd I do now?"
Harry managed a wobbly smile. "It really gives you the wind up, doesn't it? The idea of two blokes going at it, I mean."
"It doesn't scare me, if that's what you're on about," Sirius said defensively. "Just..."
"Makes you ill?" Harry guessed. He was beginning to get angry for some reason, and it must have showed, because Sirius shook his head hard.
"No! It isn't that either!"
"Then why were you all riled up when you caught Snape and Remus together?" Harry demanded, raising his voice.
"I wasn't riled up! And if it had been anybody other than Snape it might have been hot!" Sirius fired back.
Sirius rubbed his face. "Oh, shit. I really put my foot in it now. Wait 'til Molly hears about this one. I shouldn't even be talking about that sort of thing—and you just a kid and all."
Harry gulped for air, feeling as though he'd been winded. He knew he was right on the edge of something important, and he'd only have one chance to get it right. "Sirius—" he choked. "You have a thing for Remus?"
"What? No! No—not that Remus isn't a great bloke, bit old for my tastes, though—I just meant—I just mean—I don't know what I mean..."
"But...it's okay that he's a man?" Harry said tentatively.
"Well, he doesn't need my permission to be one," Sirius rejoined. "Anyway—anyway—no, I guess it doesn't really bother me, but you shouldn't have to...I mean, it's not your problem..." Sirius dropped his face in his hands, and he sighed heavily.
That's why Sirius had been so nervous earlier, Harry realized. Handsome, brave, wonderfully over-the-top Sirius. Harry stared at the man and marvelled.
He leaned forward and yanked the man's hands away from his face. "Sirius!" he exclaimed.
Sirius looked up, surprised. "What is it?"
Harry took a deep breath and kissed him roughly, one shaky hand rising as if he could steady himself by cupping Sirius' stubbled chin. Sirius seemed to be holding his breath, and then his arm suddenly slid around Harry's waist, pulling him close, deepening the kiss.
"I'm not a little boy," Harry told him as they broke away, gasping for breath.
Sirius chuckled, falling back on the bed again, looking up at Harry with laughing eyes. "I can see that," he said, his voice still slightly hoarse with excitement.
Harry managed a crooked grin. "Yeah?" he said hopefully.
Sirius looked at him for a long moment without speaking before opening his arms wide. "Come here," he said in a warm voice that made Harry's stomach do flip-flops.
A little awkwardly, Harry leaned into Sirius' embrace, wrapping his own arms around the man's waist. "You sure this is okay?" he asked. Apprehension welled up as he pressed his face into Sirius' chest, eyes squeezed tightly shut. If Sirius was going to reject him—even kindly—Harry didn't want to have to watch.
Instead answering right away, Sirius ran a hand through Harry's hair. "This is okay. If it's okay with you?"
Harry nodded, face still buried in Sirius' shirt. "Yeah. More than okay. This is really—this is great. I didn't think you'd—I never imagined you could ever—" Harry's throat sort of closed up, and he shook his head.
"I had no clue," Sirius said softly, his voice full of wonder.
"Well, you can be kind of clueless sometimes," Harry pointed out gruffly.
Sirius chuckled, still petting Harry. "You're incredibly brave to have told me," he murmured. "You're something special, you know that, Harry? You're really something special."
Harry pulled away to look up and was surprised by the affection that danced in Sirius' eyes. He blinked a little, and managed an embarrassed smile. "So are you," he said.
Sirius reached down, gently holding Harry's face, and kissed him again. And again. And a third time for good measure, each kiss stronger and headier than the last, until Harry's head was spinning.
"If only Moony would walk in about now. The look of horror on his face would just about bring us even," Sirius commented, reclining with his arms crossed behind his head and flashing Harry a devilish smile.
Harry felt his own smile widening in turn. "You're—um—not going back there tonight, are you?"
"With Snape and Remus probably shagging—or having shagged—all over the place? The house was always filled with evil, but this is the last straw. I'm not setting foot in there again until there's an exorcism," Sirius swore. "I'll just stay here tonight, if it's all the same to you."
Harry couldn't help but notice that Sirius, with his mussed hair, crooked grin, and sparkling grey eyes went with the bed rather well. Harry grinned, curling up beside him and running a finger over the man's lean chest. "Yeah, it's all right with me. You know, Solveig forgot the one important accessory that today's trendiest bachelor needs most of all."
Sirius half sat up, looking around in consternation. "Really? What's that?"
Harry pressed him to the bed again with a kiss and a smile. "Another bachelor."
Sirius grinned. "I do sort of bring the motif to a whole new level, don't I?"
Resting his head on Sirius' chest, Harry let his eyes fall shut. He gave a small shiver of pleasure as Sirius ran a finger up and down the nape of Harry's neck, and Harry let out a sigh of contentment. "Sirius," he whispered, "I think you've brought the place just the right touch."