31 March 2001

The Elvendork Bet

Harry frowned at the chess set that sat between him and Ron. His players were shaking their fists at him and muttering imprecations. "Did you train them to hate me?" Harry accused.

"Nope," Ron said cheerfully, though he kept his voice lowered. They were the only two awake. The rest of the rather sprawling clan of Weasleys, Lupins, Potters and others who had come to be a part of one large family were snoring. "Your incompetence did that all by itself." He moved a pawn, and one of Harry's rooks was viciously destroyed. He stuck his tongue out at the jeering chess piece, unable to help himself.

"Shut up," Harry muttered. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Maybe if I wasn't so exhausted--"

"Yeah, that's it," Ron said sarcastically. "How many decades have I known you now? And -- stop me if I'm wrong -- but you've never beaten me at chess. I beat you morning, noon, and night..."

"Yeah, yeah," Harry grumbled, though he grinned. He yawned and blinked down at his watch. "Baby Black is taking forever to come out and join us. Did you--"

Just then, Harry heard the pounding of feet outside the door of the waiting room. He sat up, hardly daring to hope. Charity Black had gone into labor almost a day ago, and Harry and the others had been there for almost that amount of time. Molly kept telling them (before she'd nodded off and started drooling on Hermione's shoulder) that first babies always took time. Harry thought that twenty two hours was a bit excessive, but what the hell did he know about babies? Teddy Lupin, to the best of his memory, had not taken much time at all. But considering the fact that he, Ron, and Sirius had been trying to keep Remus sedated with firewhiskey at the time, it was possible that he'd taken just as long.

"IT'S A BOY!" Sirius shouted. He looked exhausted and beaten up, as though he had just come out of a duel. A duel he'd obviously won, Harry thought, noting the broad grin on his godfather's face. His grin faltered a bit when many of the others snored on.

Harry got up, gently dislodging Ginny, and hugged Sirius. "What'd you name him?"

Sirius looked shocked. "Is that even a question, Harry?" he asked incredulously. "His name is Elvendork, of course."

There was a moment of stunned silence. Ron broke it. "Are you shitting me?" he said. "Are you completely mental? Elvendork?!"

"I don't back out on bets," Sirius said pompously. Harry gaped at him, wondering if Charity's pregnancy and delivery had driven Sirius insane, while Azkaban had not been able to do so. He couldn't help but think that the unfortunate name was his own fault; had he known that Sirius would take James Potter's challenge from beyond the veil seriously, he might never have passed the message on.

"Your child is going to hate me," Harry said faintly.

"Not as much as he'll hate his father," Severus said smoothly. He strode forward to offer his hand in congratulations. "But I suppose that was inevitable. It will be just one more reason for why he runs away at the age of fourteen." He was grinning, however, and Sirius did not seem at all upset about his words, and Harry was once more struck by the oddity that was their friendship. It was really only during huge, life-changing events like this that Harry remembered a different time and a different world, when these two men had hated each other.

"How did you get Charity to agree?" Ron asked. Harry could tell that his best mate suspected Sirius of foul magic, like a Compulsion Charm, or even the Imperius Curse. Harry found himself wondering the same thing.

It didn't help his case any when Sirius shuffled his feet and gazed around the room, as though he was mapping an escape around the sleeping bodies. "Well," he hedged. "She wanted to name him Michael, after her dad. But I showed her the reason why -- I borrowed Albus' pensieve -- and she agreed that I couldn't back down."

"I'm beginning to believe Loony's drivel," Severus said. His mouth was agape. "There obviously is someone for everyone, Padfoot; I can't imagine any other woman in her right mind agreeing to this."

"You told Charity?" Harry asked. "I've been after you to tell me for years! You had the bet with my dad! I brought back a message frombeyond the grave... I think I'm entitled to know what the Elvendork Bet was."

Sirius grimaced. Harry had suspected for years that the nature of the Elvendork Bet was extremely sensitive in nature. Why else would Sirius -- who did not know the meaning of the phrase 'too much information', as evidenced by the fact that Harry not only knew what day little Elvendork had been conceived (July fifteenth), but what position had done it (doggy) -- be so reticent about it? It was literally the one thing that Sirius had kept from him, and Harry felt a burning curiosity to know.

Ron slung an arm around the older wizard's shoulders. "Now, now, Sirius," he said soothingly. "You know that you don't need to try to impress us. We know you--"

"--and we know lots of embarrassing things," Harry smirked.

"It isn't really embarrassing," Sirius grimaced. "Not the bet, anyway. Well... I dunno..."

"Padfoot, we can do this the easy way or the hard way," Severus said in a hard voice. "You can either pull up your big boy pants and tell us, or we'll take drastic measures. I'm rather good at the Imperius Curse..."

"And he's good with potions," Ron said. "An Unforgivable might not even be necessary."

"Though it would be more fun," Severus shrugged.

Harry laughed out loud at the panicked look on Sirius' face. Sleepy groans and mumbles from the others slowly filled the air. "Whazzgoinon?" Fred asked sleepily, his eyes were still tightly closed. "Izza baby yet?"

"Yep," Ron said. "A baby named Elvendork."

"We're going to call him Eli for short..." Sirius said, though Harry doubted anyone heard him over the loud denials.


2 April 2001

"--can't believe you three are being total arses about this," Sirius continued his rant in Godric's Hollow. Harry, Severus, and Ron sat around the kitchen table; all three had sly grins on their faces as they watched Sirius pace back and forth. "Can't I have a bit of privacy? I'm a new father -- you could let me keep my secrets for the baby gift, that way you wouldn't have to buy anything."

"The more you rant, the more we want to know," Ron informed him. "Now stop being huffy and puffy, and stick that memory in the pensieve."

"Do you really want Severus to Imperius you?" Harry leaned back in his chair, tipping it onto the back legs. He was having quite a lot of fun.

"I could report you to the Ministry if that happens," Sirius threatened.

Severus studied his nails, as though terribly bored. "Empty threats, empty threats..."

Sirius' shoulders slumped in defeat. He shuffled over to the table, and the dejected line of his shoulders reminded Harry of a man being sentenced to Azkaban. Harry's grin widened, and he exchanged pleased glances with Ron. With one final sigh, Sirius raised his wand to his temple and drew out a long, silvery strand of memory. He paused for a long moment and, with a scowl, dropped it into the bowl.

"Hurry, before he changes his mind!" Ron said, and dove in. Harry followed him, and Severus was on his heels. Sirius was the last to join them, and Harry knew that he did so reluctantly.

Harry couldn't help but feel slightly disoriented when they came upon the scene. A young Sirius and James Potter appeared to be dueling Death Eaters on broomsticks and tormenting Muggle police officers at the same time. A little frisson of pleasure went through him to watch his dad in action. He chuckled when his dad suggested Elvendork for a name... "Elvendork. It's unisex!"

"We were on a mission for the Order," Sirius said. He pointed, and Harry noticed that both of the young wizards wore t-shirts emblazoned with a phoenix.

"We never got t-shirts," said Ron, affronted.

Sirius was about to reply when the memory Sirius and James took off on the flying motorbike. Harry was jerked after them, and he felt the dizzying sensation of flying without something to support him. He remembered that Severus had complained almost ten years ago about being in a memory with a flying dragon, and felt belatedly empathetic. Once the lightheadedness passed, Harry turned his eyes once more on his father, who was laughing recklessly, his untidy hair blowing in the wind as they headed across the sky.

"What year is this?" he asked.

"1978," Sirius said. "It's two weeks before your parents get married."

Hours seemed to pass before the younger Sirius began his descent. Harry was startled to recognize the twisting streets of Godric's Hollow, and they landed behind Harry's parents' house. They jumped from the bike and ran in the back door, laughing madly all the while. Harry followed them eagerly.

"James and Sirius -- five! Death Eaters -- zero!" Sirius crowed. "We are brilliant, my friend."

"Too right we are," James agreed. He waded through what appeared to be a sea of boxes in the kitchen and opened a cupboard. He withdrew a bottle of firewhiskey, and promptly poured two generous measures. "Just don't tell Lily about that close call."

Harry found that he was beaming. His dad and Sirius had the same easy camaraderie that Harry and Ron did, and it made his insides warm to watch.

Sirius snorted. They slammed their glasses back, smoke pouring from their ears. "I wouldn't do that. Though I just might tell her about your horrendous taste in names. Does Lily know what she's getting into?"

"She knows," James grinned. "Though I can't say that the subject of names for our future children has come up yet." He tipped his head back and blew out a breath. "I doubt we'll have children for years and years."

"What was I? A surprise?" Harry asked, gaping.

"I wouldn't say 'surprise' as much as I would 'shock'," Sirius said. He was fidgeting with his long hair, and Harry could see that he was awfully twitchy and green, as though he was about to vomit. Harry had a feeling that the moment of truth was coming closer and closer.

"She'll have the shock of her life when she realizes you want to name Baby Potter 'Elvendork'," Sirius grinned. "I wouldn't name my child that for all the money in the world."

"It was a joke, Padfoot," James rolled his eyes, but he was chortling.

"I'd only name my child Elvendork if the sun started rising in the west," Sirius said. He tipped back another glass of firewhiskey. "No! Only if hippogriffs start baying at the moon -- or if unicorns start chasing after randy boys--"

"Or if Lily suddenly turned ugly," James said, wearing a rather besotted smile.

"You look just like that when you're talking about Ginny," Ron said with a tone of disgust.

"I've got it," Sirius said smugly, ignoring James' comment about his future wife. "I'd only name my child Elvendork if I turn out to be best mates with Snivellus."

James tipped his chair over. "Don't say things like that!" he said, disgusted. "Besides, I doubt you've got the stones. Behind all the rebellion, you're a good little Black heir who wouldn't name a child that."

The younger Sirius looked greatly offended. "I have so got the stones for it! If I ever find myself best mates with that greasy git -- and believe me, that will never happen -- I swear I'd do it. I wouldn't back down. When have you ever known me to renege on a bet?"

Harry felt deeply uncomfortable as he was pulled out of the memory, and he suddenly wished that he had not been quite so curious. They returned to the kitchen, and Harry had the sneaking suspicion that there was going to be an emotional moment. He glanced longingly at the door; he caught Ron doing the same thing. The silence billowed. Every one of Sirius' shuffling steps was audible. He suddenly wanted them all to just do the bloke thing (as Ginny called it) and pretend that Sirius had not just acknowledged Severus as his best mate. They'd all been budging along through life just fine without have friendship defining moments.

It made it all the worse that it was quite apparent that Sirius obviously felt very deep friendship for Severus, otherwise he never would have done it. And Charity Black had known, and she had agreed... Harry and Ron exchanged grimaces. If only Merlin had come back in time to save them from this humiliating moment...

"So," Sirius cleared his throat several times. "I've been -- uh... that is, Charity and I wanted to know if you'd stand for godfather, Blackhart."

Harry didn't even want to look at Severus. Merlin forbid that the Potions Master be overcome by emotion.

"Of course," Severus said. Harry was devoutly grateful that his voice was only a little bit hoarse, and only cracked a little.

"So when he's fourteen and has run away because he hates me, I fully expect you to take him in," Sirius said sternly.

"Who else would have him?" Severus asked. "Now how about we have a glass of firewhiskey and try to forget that we just had an emotional moment?"

Author's Note:

I've sort of ruined the reviewing thing, so if you want to review, you'll probably have to do it anonymously.