Disclaimer: If I were J. K. Rowling, thus owning Harry Potter, this would not be fanfiction.
Summary: After a sudden, though very expected, loss of a job, Remus Lupin becomes the Potter's housekeeper and gardener. Meanwhile, Sirius Black needs all of the help he can get in order to snag the so-called love of his life, and the only way to keep from making a fool out of himself is to get dating lessons from Remus. Voids are filled with fragrant flowers and sweet emotions.
There will be slash in this story, though not right away.
The Gardener of Godric's Hollow
Chapter One: I Don't Want To Spoil The Party
James Potter was not sure whether early sunlight in the summer months was a blessing or a burden. While the sun did awake the irritating birds a little sooner than one would like, its sparkling golden rays also added radiance to the crimson hair of the woman next to him. And the beauty of his wife outweighed any and all annoying wake up calls. James reached for his glasses on the bedside table and gazed at Lily. A small, hardly noticeable smile graced her perfect face as she dozed. How could she possibly stay asleep with such a bloody racket going on outside?
Wait a second. That wasn't a bird.
BANG BANG BANG BANG!
"James? Someone's at the door."
The bespectacled man attempted to flatten his ebony hair, with no luck of course. He hastily swung himself out of bed and headed out. Boy, whoever was pounding at the door better have a damn good reason for waking up his red-haired goddess. And for not using the Floo like everyone else. It better not be one of those Muggle solicitors.
BAM BAM BAM BAM!
"I'm coming, you git!" James hollered, angrily. A vein pounded in his temple with each strike on the door. He was now horribly aware of his wobbly morning-legs, as it was taking him twice as long to get to the foyer. Finally, James arrived at his destination, unlatched the chain, and flung open said door with the force of a thousand angry hippogriffs.
"What the devil do you—"
"Cute boxers, Prongsie."
Fifteen minutes of bickering and explanation later, James sat at the breakfast table glaring daggers at Sirius over the top of The Daily Prophet, a red robe covering his undergarments. Lily had slipped a robe on as well, a majestic green one that brought out the color in her eyes.
"Would you like some tea, Sirius?"
The black-haired visitor let out a grateful sigh. "I would love some, Lily. Thank you."
"I would love some Lily, thank you," James said to himself in a mocking voice. He clearly had not intended to have a row with Sirius so early in the morning. Was a Saturday alone with his wife too much to ask?
"Don't mind James, he's just sour because he didn't get to wake me up with a snog," Lily remarked.
"NO, I'm sour because Sirius didn't listen to my bloody advice and got himself dumped again!"
Sirius sighed again and shook his head, leaning farther back on the couch. He was used to James giving him hell about his dates, but shouldn't James have gotten used to him screwing them up? This one had been pretty bad, though. Unlike his previous few, it was Sirius who had to initiate the breakup.
"It's a shame too. The bloke was pretty seductive. And by that I mean he was pretty and seductive."
Lily interjected before James could say anything uncalled-for. "Then why did you break it off with him?"
"Wasn't my type. They never are, but this one was by far the worst," Sirius didn't really sound upset. Exhausted seemed like a better adjective for his slow, calm voice. "Took one look at that girl I broke it off with last week- you know, the chatty one- and asked me if she was taken. Can you believe that guy? Naturally, he was the perfect match for that crazy bird." He chuckled a little, making James feel slightly better. But boy would that guy have gotten a fistful of hexes if Sirius had been any less lighthearted.
"But at least I got to set them up," Sirius continued, as Lily began pouring the tea. "I think it's about time I gave up on dating."
The tea kettle fell to the floor, leaking hot water on the tile as it rolled in a circle. Lily snatched it up and James scrambled to perform a cleaning spell.
"You okay, Lils?" Sirius inquired. Lily glanced at him and quickly nodded her head. But Sirius wasn't satisfied. "No really. What's wrong guys?" His eyes shifted from James to Lily, who both looked utterly shocked.
James spoke up. "You can't be serious, mate."
"I'm always Sirius." He sighed dreamily, but only for a moment.
The Potters were staring daggers at him. Oh they had mastered that look so well, synchronizing at just the right moment… "Okay, okay I get what you're saying. You've never heard me say that before, right? Never in a million years did you think ol' Padfoot was going to say he's through with dates. Well I bet you never heard him say this either—."
How many more unwelcome noises was James going to have to put up with that morning? Remus Lupin climbed out of the fireplace and was about to apologize to Lily for the sooty mess…
"—I'm in love with someone."
A stunned silence ran through the room. Sirius sighed again.
"You can't be serious," said the disheveled werewolf, forgetting about Lily entirely.
"Didn't we already establish that I'm always—"
"Finish that sentence and I'll hex you."
A few minutes later, Lily had managed to make another pot of tea, serving it to all three men as they sat on the sofa, conversing. James studied Sirius while he spoke. Now that he wasn't so angry with his friend, he began to realize just how strangely he had been acting. Sirius always seemed a little calmer than the rest, but it was usually a sly calm, like he was cooking up the destruction of the world. But now, he sounded calm and collected—complete with heavy sighs and dreamy grins.
Meanwhile, Remus wasn't at all satisfied with Sirius' explanation. He shook his head. "Tell me again, what makes you think you're in love?" he asked for the third time.
Sirius smiled, "Because I get a feeling whenever I'm thinking—"
"No! Oh Moony, you know what I mean. I get a warm feeling in my chest. I'm in love with someone, I swear!"
"You sure it isn't heartburn?" Remus took a rather large gulp of tea, and then jolted forward as his burnt mouth began to protest.
Lily took in a tiny breath of frustration. She was getting mighty tired of cranky James, lovesick Sirius, and disturbed Remus. "Remus, dear...I think we've already established that Sirius came by to confuse everyone," she said, hoping to finally stop the trivial conversation. "Now please, tell us what brings you here unexpectedly?"
Suddenly, James and Sirius became very aware of how strange it was for Remus Lupin to show up at his friends' house without advanced warning.
"Yeah Moony, since when are you me?" Sirius barked a laugh.
Remus, sadly, did not find anything funny about his situation. "They passed the legislation," he said in a small, distant voice. Lily gasped and ran to the kitchen table to pick up James' discarded issue of The Daily Prophet. With one horrified glance at the front cover, she tossed the entire newspaper into the dustbin. This seemed to confirm everything.
"Oh, Remus! I'm so sorry!" she cried as she walked back into the room and stood next to James, who looked as if he's just swallowed a grindylow. Jowls quivering, he made his way over to the dustbin, retrieved the paper, and read silently to himself as Sirius looked over his shoulder.
"3 July, 1979 – London – Dolores J. Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic Millicent Bagnold, has passed the Werewolf Registry Law. The law, which had been in debate for ten weeks prior to Friday's decision, will be in effect immediately. All pure-blood, half-blood, Squib, and Muggle-born werewolves currently of age and living and/or working in the United Kingdom are hereby ordered to present themselves for registry at their local Ministry of Magic government building. All London residents must report directly to the main headquarters using the visitor's entrance only. Any werewolf who fails to register by August 25th of this year will be given a life sentence in Azkaban if caught. (story continued on page 3)
All at once, it looked as though Sirius had flown back into reality. He gently snaked an arm around Remus shoulders and hugged him. "Those bastards." Remus smiled as he almost felt Sirius whisper those words to him.
"Oh if only we weren't on break from training! Sirius and I might have had a say on this from inside the ministry," James said as he and Lily sat on either side of Remus and Sirius.
"As Aurors in training? I seriously doubt that. But still, there's nothing any of us can do right now. I'll be sent to Azkaban if I don't…if I don't…" Sirius squeezed Remus' hand as he was obviously on the verge of tears. Remus took a deep, shaky breath and continued, "If I don't register at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures."
"WHAT!" cried James, Sirius, and Lily at the same time. Sirius felt like growling. The stupid Ministry couldn't have made things more humiliating and degrading for Remus if they tried. Instead of growling and bearing his teeth, however, Sirius found himself holding onto Remus, his hands gripping the thin white t-shirt the werewolf had apparently been sleeping in. Remus looked startled, though the slight twinkle of amusement betrayed him. Sirius was such a bloody drama queen at times like these.
"We'll fight this, Moony," croaked Sirius.
"But Sirius, you have no say in the Department for Magical Law Enforcement…" whispered Remus. The ever-visible wrinkle appeared in between his tawny-colored eyebrows.
"No, I want to help you. I'll go sink my teeth into Dolores Umbridge's head. Maybe that'll shrink it a bit."
"Sirius—" pleaded Remus.
"Then just let me come with you when you go. To give you support. You haven't been to the Ministry before, right?"
"Are you sure, Sirius? I…you might have to wait a while once we're there. They'll have to strip down my wand and check my record from Hogwarts and ask me a lot of personal questions and…" Sirius, James, and Lily knew exactly what Remus meant by this trailing list of excuses. The three of them knew the werewolf better than anyone, even his own parents, and the babbling was his way of expressing that he really, really needed something. The whole reason Remus had come over in the first place was to subtly ask one of them to go with him to the Ministry. He wouldn't really get lost in the building—Remus had a spectacular sense of direction—but that's the story he'd probably use to cover up the fact that he was terrified of going alone. "…although I guess I could use an escort to show me around," the other three exchanged looks, "It did take Prongs four hours to find loo—"
"I can be your seeing-eye dog, Moony!" Sirius butt in.
At this, Remus burst out laughing. He practically shook with amusement as he pressed his face into Sirius' shoulder. "Padfoot, do you even know what a seeing-eye dog is?"
"Of course I do! They guide directionally challenged people around cities," Sirius answered, his eyes sparkling.
Lily snorted. "They guide the blind, Sirius."
Sirius threw his head back with his trademark bark-like laugh. "Oh well Moony probably doesn't need one of those. His eyesight's so good, he can see right through my shirt! This one time last year he—"
"I told you, that's not why I was staring at your chest during Potions! Severus had attached something to your shirt when he was handing out ingredients," Remus retorted, flicking his friend in the temple. Sirius waggled his eyebrows in response.
Remus giggled and flushed, returning to his old self for at least a moment. Sirius couldn't help but grin at the fact that it had been he who made Remus feel better that morning. A warm splash of giddiness tingled Sirius' insides as Remus leaned his forehead against his side, chuckling. He glanced over at Lily and James, who were both sporting rather wide grins, as if they were portraying on their faces exactly what Sirius felt. Cocking his head to one side, he smiled back at them, thoroughly confused yet still content. The spell of having Remus curled up against him on the couch and the whole "Registry" business had made him completely forget about the reason he himself had come to James' in the first place.
"Oh, I completely forgot, who's this bloke you're head-over-paws for, Pads?" Count on James to ruin a good moment.
Remus scooted over to get a better look at Sirius' face. Sirius gulped. "Yes, I would like to know that myself. Have you dated him in the past? Is he a Muggle?"
"Umm, well…I can't say I have…and, well he could be, but…" he had expected and wholeheartedly wished for James to be his only audience for this one. But now, Peter might as well just Apparate into the living room and tell them that Kingsley will be arriving shortly on the Knight Bus with a couple of Imperiused Death Eaters. Well okay, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. But really, Lily and Remus were that type of people. The type that question and inquire and pry…but disguise it by being bloody polite and civilized about every damn thing. Well Sirius was going to have none of that!
He had to do some fast thinking. "It's umm…" Remus was leaning closer. "We'll he's…" Lily's eyebrows rose a few centimeters. What in the name of Merlin was he supposed to say? James sighed and got up from his seat, his eyebrows furrowed.
"Well, I'm going to make breakfast," he announced as though he'd read his friend's mind.
Sirius shot up like a rocket. "I'll help! Breakfast is about the only meal I know how to operate."
"WAIT!" cried Lily and Remus at the same time. Sirius turned on the spot, the color slowly draining from his face. Remus nodded his head to let Lily speak first. When she did, it was slow and clear, every word dripping with concern. "Sirius, please don't beat around the bush this time. I know you came here to tell James, but you know as well as I do that James tells me everything and I tell Remus almost as much!"
With the mention of Remus' name, Sirius glanced over at him and immediately wished he hadn't. Remus was wiggling in his seat and pouting, obviously trying to persuade him to talk with this cutesy act. "You don't have to tell us if you don't want to. But if he's someone we know… well I'm sure we'll find out anyway. So you might as well…"
Remus' cute face was just too much for this situation. The dog animagus looked to James for support, flashing him a petrified look. James rolled his eyes and sighed. "You're lucky I can handle your melodrama, Pads. Look, if I promise to keep these piranhas from eating you alive," he gestured towards Lily and Remus, "then I think you should at least tell them something. If you didn't want them to know, you should have spoken with me privately in the first place."
Sirius opened his mouth to retort, but James quickly added, "at a time when I was actually alone."
Sirius violently flung back his long mane of hair, but he knew that he has already lost this battle. He had to think of something to tell these people, and fast. He knew his face would flush and his forehead would begin to sweat if he didn't.
"Um, uhh," he stammered again, "I think I'm in love with…Amos Diggory!" with that, Sirius made a mad dash for the kitchen before anyone could process what he had said. After making sure his wife and Remus would stay put, James followed at a much slower pace.
"You don't feel a thing for Diggory, do you?" James smirked at his mate as the two of them rummaged through the cupboards for edible breakfast components.
Sirius sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time that morning. "Nope."
James punched him in the shoulder. "Gonna tell me who actually stole our Paddy's heart?"
"That's just it, James…" but he didn't continue.
James immediately put down orange juice and focused on his best friend. He couldn't read every person's emotions; he wasn't Lily. But he was pretty damn good at reading anything related to Sirius. James had no idea how or why his brain could comprehend his friend's so easily. Because in essence, Sirius' thoughts, emotions, and actions got significantly more complicated with each passing day. But there was just something in Sirius' face, specifically his eyes, which James had been in tune with since the first time they met on the train. Unfortunately the mischievous laughter that was present in those grey orbs back then was certainly not what was reflected in them today: passion, heavily mixed with confusion.
The bespectacled man braced himself for Sirius to continue his sentence, knowing that whatever this problem was, it was something much more serious than normal.
"…I don't know who I'm in love with."
James shook his head and grasped Sirius' shoulders, "Of course you don't, mate," he said as softly as he could, "but you know it's really love, don't you?"
Sirius nodded. "It really is."
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