Chapter Six and One Half
November 12, 1981
Remus sat on a couch in Sirius's living room massaging his head. Spending last night's full moon alone on top of everything else that had so recently happened did a number on Remus's body, especially his head... As well as some of his home furnishings, like the bathroom door.
Harry was currently napping upstairs; his godfather had worn him out by taking him for a broom ride in the backyard. Sirius came in from the kitchen and handed his friend a warm mug of tea.
"Here, I spiked it with a mild Pepper-Up," he said.
The werewolf murmured his thanks and took the ceramic mug, drinking deeply. With a heavy sigh, Moony placed the half-empty mug on the coffee table in front of him and leaned his head back on the couch, lightly closing his eyes.
"Um, Moony?" Sirius sat in a recliner facing the couch, a nervous, uncertain expression dominating his young features.
Remus gave a "hm" as response to let the Animagus know he was listening, but didn't open his eyes or move from his relatively comfortable position.
"I was wondering, uh, how long do you plan on staying?"
Lupin popped open a tired eye and glanced at Sirius curiously. "What. . . you mean?" he asked in a hoarse, scratchy voice that his throat desperately wished to be rid of. The wish of his throat caused Remus to give a harsh cough, forcing him to sit up straighter and reach for his mug of tea and potion.
"Well. . ." Padfoot trailed off, glancing behind himself, towards the stairs, up which his godson lay napping. What he had to say he didn't want to admit, even to his best friend, but he was more determined than anything to put what was best for Harry before everything else. "I. . . I don't know. . ." Sirius fiddled with his thumbs, staring blankly at the floor between his feet. "I don't if, um. . . if I can raise Harry."
Remus looked at him in disbelief, as Sirius glanced up with shame and guilt evident on his face. "What do you mean 'you can't raise Harry'?" he asked slowly, his voice sounding more like it normally would after the soothing concoction had made its way down his throat.
"Remember. . . remember when James asked me to be his godfather?" Sirius continued. He waited for a nod from Remus to go on. "Well, I don't know if you saw, but. . . Lily, um, she. . . she looked at me as though she didn't think I could, you know, take of Harry. Like she didn't approve of me being his godfather. . . and, I don't know--"
The wizard addressed looked up, and Remus could see that he was trying to control his emotions while remembering this particular event involving the mother of his godson.
"Sirius. . . you're a great godfather. Harry adores you--"
"There's more to it than that!" Sirius exclaimed indignantly, standing up. He paced for a moment or so, running a hand through his long hair and trying to collect his thoughts. "Lily--"
"Lily hardly trusted herself to leave James alone with Harry; Sirius, you know that."
Whether or not Sirius did know that, he didn't know. All he knew was that the mother of the child he loved more than anyone else didn't trust him to raise her son. Was there something about the parenting business that he had missed? Did she fear that he, Sirius Black, would in some way unintentionally screw her baby up? Harry's life was going to be difficult enough as it was: He was marked by a Dark Lord not two weeks ago, his parents were dead, the wizarding world considered him to be a savior of sorts; Sirius didn't want to do something stupid that would end up making his godson's life even harder. But he couldn't live without Harry in his life either. . .
"Personally, mate, I don't think Prongs and Lily could have made a better choice when they named you godfather."
Sirius' head snapped up as Moony's words brought him out of his thoughts. "You sure about that?" he asked quietly.
Remus placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Sirius, Harry has just somehow defeated the greatest Dark wizard of this age; there are only a handful of people left who are going to overlook that and see Harry Potter and not The Boy Who Lived. I know, and I'm sure Lily and James did too, that no matter what happens, you'll always see Harry first and foremost as your godson, not some celebrity hero savior; you're not going to use him because of his fame, you love him just for being Harry; and that's the most James and Lily could have hoped for."
Placing his head in his hands, the Animagus sat back down in silence, letting Remus' words sink in.
"I- I just. . ."
"If you were having all these doubts, Padfoot, what were you thinking when you decided to exclude yourself from society for those five days?" Remus asked patiently. "You've done great thus far, why would you be worried? It's not like you haven't spent time alone with Harry before. Whether you believe it or not, you do know what you're doing with him, as much as any parent could, at least."
Parent. . . How could he be Harry's parent? That was James' title, Lily's title; he was godfather, not father. But he was to assume the role of parent. . . Did that make him more like Harry's father than his godfather? That couldn't have been what James intended, could it have been?
Sirius swallowed thickly, running his hands down his face as he brought his head up, deep in thought. Eventually, after a moment of silence, the dark-haired wizard decided on ignoring his friend's second question and answering the first. "I can't lose him, Moony," he said solemnly, as the cries of an infant could be heard from the second landing. Slowly, Sirius pushed himself up and headed upstairs to comfort his godson.