Author's Note: First of all, before we start, let me just express to you guys how amazed I am that you've stayed with me this long. Not only that, but how do new readers keep finding this story? Honestly. Cause the summery stinks, there's no way around. However, every week I have an average of about five people who put it on alert and that is mind boggling. Regardless of my confusion though, thank you.
I have a lot of catching up to do and while I'm not particularly inspired, I am determined. So let's see what we can do with that.
You may notice that the edited chapters have reached chapter…seven, I think? (Though up to chapter 14 is done, it's just a matter of getting off my bum, reading through it and posting it that's the problem) I don't think there are any important changes I need to tell you about. Just be aware that if you start to see inconsistencies, it's being dealt with. The only drastic changes are these awfully long author's notes
The Lupin Childe
Remus watched Harry closely, with worried and sad eyes. This plane trip was far different than the last one. Harry sat firmly in his seat, his eyes staring straight ahead, unseeingly, at the seat in front of him. He didn't glance out the window, he didn't pull out a book to read, and he didn't give a second thought to the, admittedly pretty bad, food in front of him. He didn't smile of laugh or have the spark of excitement in his eye. In fact, the only thing that was similar to their first plane trip was the fact that he was clutching Maurice the bear just as tightly as he had then, as if it were a life-line that was grounding him to reality.
Remus turned his eyes away.
It was hard to see his son like this; small and fragile as he hadn't been since Remus had first brought him home. He didn't like that he couldn't heal Harry as he could then; couldn't make him feel happy and warm and loved. He could hold him, yes, he could love him, of course, but that wasn't what Harry needed. What he needed was to see Skylar and so that was what they were going to do.
The night of the accident was burned into his mind, fresh and frightening as if it had only happened last night though a very long month had passed since they'd left Miranda's quaint little house in Egypt.
That afternoon when the boys had left, Remus had been happy for them to go and spend some quality time together. Harry had missed out on months of basic child interactions since leaving France as he couldn't be entirely himself around the children at his muggle school. Being around Skylar had brought that childish light back into Harry's usually serious and maddeningly clever eyes. This was the boy he'd grown used to; one who loved to play as much as learn and one who yearned for all the adventures and wonders the world had to offer. He hadn't realized how much it had faded until it was back in full force with Skylar bossily leading the way.
Miranda had fretted for nearly an hour, concerned about them being out on their own (more Harry than Skylar as she was quite used to her own son running off into the wilderness) before Remus had drew her into a conversation about a side project she was tampering with (she had been in contact with some Curse Breakers who were having problems entering a spectacularly booby-trapped tomb and had resigned themselves to consulting with a Runes Master to avoid any more casualties). She'd jumped at the chance and they'd spent that afternoon, like so many others, discussing her work and number of inconsequential things that came up from the boys to the best brand of chocolate Remus had ever had and why it was a Parisian delicacy was much better than something Miranda's fellow Americans could come up with.
It wasn't until it was nearly dinner that Miranda's worry reared its head again and this time Remus's joined her. The boys were running late and Miranda was stuck between exasperation that Skylar was not keeping his promise and concern the fact that the temperature outside was dropping and neither boy was wearing anything more than tee-shirts and shorts. She lingered only long enough for the sun to sink to its lowest in the sky before she huffed moodily and turned off the stove where dinner had been simmering in a pan. "Let's go find them," she said resolutely. "We can take the car."
"Wouldn't we spot them better on foot?" Remus had asked, standing from where he'd been anxiously watching the clock at the table. Miranda pressed her lips.
"They're well over an hour away, walking, if where I'm guessing Sky took Harry is right. The car will be quicker," she explained and they were off.
Remus was the first to notice, not that that was much of a surprise thanks to his inner wolf. He'd been asking Miranda about this special spot of Skylar's and had jerked violently mid-sentence as the smell washed over him. It was faint with distance but all too terrifyingly real. "He's hurt," he ground out, actively fighting with his animal instincts that were telling him to get to his cub now. The car was moving much too slowly.
"What? Who?" Miranda had asked, bewildered and Remus hesitated because now that they were moving steadily closer he could not only smell Harry's pain but Skylar's as well.
"Both of them," he admitted to the panicked mother and Miranda paled at the same time the vehicle speed up at her prompting.
They'd arrived at the scene in short order after that and the first thing they saw was Harry's hunched figure, shaking with the strength of his loud sobs. Remus was out of the car in a flash, Miranda only seconds after him, and rushing over to the boy. "Harry!" he yelled and bloodshot green eyes looked up at him in both relief and fear.
"Papa…" he cried pitifully as they approached and almost reached out for Remus before pulling himself back and looking back down towards the ground.
"Oh god," Miranda said faintly and Remus saw why. What Harry had been hunched over was a small person who was suspiciously still.
"Sky?" Miranda's voice was small even as she dropped to her knees beside Harry and reached out a trembling hand. "Skylar, baby?"
Remus gathered Harry in his arms, pressing the boy's face gently into his shoulder to muffle his cries even as his own insides turned cold. Miranda had turned a deathly pale and her breathing was shaky. "Sky, baby, wake up. Wake up for momma, okay? I need you wake up." Remus watched feeling helpless as Miranda sniffed and let out a choking sob. "Wake up, Skylar. Wake up." Her words were watery and punctured by sharp gasps.
"Wake up, you have to wake up. Sky? Skylar? Please?" she let out a whine like a wounded animal and her shoulders shook as she took up Harry's previous position. "Please, baby. Pleasepleaseplease." She cried, getting louder with each exclamation.
Remus held Harry tighter as the small body in his arms shook violently at the sound.
Amidst the sobs of them both and Remus' own tears as he watched the pale little face surrounded by a halo of blond hair, a faint and telling smudge of blood by his lips, Remus was the first to see something amazing. Skylar opened his eyes.
"Hi sweetie," Miranda greeted warmly the moment she opened the door. She sent Remus a smile even as she knelt to be at level with Harry and tug him into a hug.
"Hi, Miranda," he greeted solemnly.
"How have you been?" Miranda asked, as she pulled back to give Harry an appraising look. The little boy lowered his head and shrugged noncommittally. Miranda smiled a little sadly, glancing up at Remus over the messy black head. The man shook his head slightly, indicating they would talk later and Miranda nodded her understanding. "Well come in, come in then. Out of the heat, it's practically boiling," she beckoned them into her cool abode.
Even in his unenthused state, Harry couldn't help looking around at their surroundings. This was his first time being in Miranda and Skylar's home. Their real home, not just a house they were renting while Miranda did her research and Skylar home-schooled. It was wide and airy, very much unlike the places the small family of two usually stayed in which were comfortable but typically cramped. The front hall they had stepped into was done in a light cream color with powder blue accents sprinkled about. The windows were wide and the curtains thrown back to allow all the natural light that San Francisco had to offer in. From what little he'd seen of the outside, it was large as well. At least as large as his and Remus' own home.
He had always thought about coming here, to see Skylar in his natural habitat so to speak, but now that he was here he couldn't help but wish it was under different circumstances. "Sweetie," Miranda called him softly and he looked up, noting absently that a tear or two was making its way down his face. His papa was watching him as he always was nowadays, with a quite understanding that Harry appreciated, but it was Miranda's look that made being here almost too much.
She was gazing at him with such kind and accepting eyes that he could hardly stand it. How could she stand there looking at him with such eyes when this was his entire fault? How could she still smile at him and hug him and call him sweetie after all the trouble he caused. He wanted to sob into her shoulder just as much as he wanted to run away from her. "Sweetie," she repeated, now that she had his slightly wavering attention. He didn't want to see her looking at him like that anymore. "You want to go up and see Sky?" she asked kindly and Harry wanted to scream at her 'no!' but his heart wouldn't let him. Even if Miranda still looked at him with so much compassion, Skylar was much more volatile than his mother, and he, Harry was sure, would give him what he needed. So he nodded.
"Up the steps, second door to your right." She gestured towards the stairs off to their left and he slipped quietly past the two adults at the invitation. He could feel both of their eyes boring into his back and as he reached the landing above could hear Miranda's quite question. "Has he been like this since…?" and Remus' equally quite reply.
Harry stepped into the wide hallway and gazed around blearily through his tears, eyes locking on the door Miranda had said would lead him to Sky. To his right, two doors ahead of him was a blue door with 'Skylar' painted on it in white letters and suddenly Harry felt nauseous at the thought of stepping through it. He had been determined when he walked up the stairs. Frightened of what would lay behind that door but determined nonetheless to take whatever form of punishment would come at him from within. But now, facing the inevitable, that determination wavered. How was he supposed to do this? Lose his best friend? He loved Sky, as much as he loved a member of his family, and he didn't know what he would do when the boy finally saw him, sneered at him and turned him away, because there was no other way this impending conversation could go.
He was the reason that Skylar was…that Sky had…
Taking a shuddering breath and steeling himself, Harry knocked twice, gently, right under Skylar's name and without waiting for an invitation, opened the door. He peeked his head around the door-jam and looked around. As bright and airy as the rest of the house, Skylar's room also spoke volumes about exactly who inhabited it. Now familiar maps lined the walls. Atlases and many a foreign books cluttered the almost obnoxiously large shelf and the desk was a cluttered mess of hand written notes and translation dictionaries. Harry's shoulders relaxed minutely against his will at the familiarity of it all and he would have smiled if he hadn't spotted a figure sitting up in a large bed several feet away regarding him silently.
Skylar's blue eyes met his and Harry flinched at emotion in them. Skylar had lost most of the tan he'd gained in Africa, and his skin was a paleness Harry wasn't used to seeing on the usually vibrant boy. His blond flyaway hair had grown and was held back with noncommittal black clips that likely belonged to Miranda. He was dressed in pajamas and propped up on pillows and there were bags that spoke of sleepless nights showing up clearly on his almost pasty face. But his eyes, his eyes were what made Harry choke out a noisy sob. They were red rimmed and tired but as bright as ever and shinned with happiness.
Happiness at seeing him.
"Hey, now," Skylar's voice said and Harry became even more distressed at hearing the amused quality of it. "I thought I was the one who was supposed to be a crying mess. I'm the one who can't walk. Stop stealing my thunder, bumpkin."
Harry tried desperately to dry his tears because despite Skylar's teasing tone he was right. Harry wasn't the one broken beyond the repairs of even magic, he wasn't the one who would have to live the rest of his life with a disability, yet here he was blubbering at the first sign of Skylar not hating him. "I'm sorry," he gasped and he hoped that Skylar knew just how much. Judging by the sigh that was released, he did.
"Come here, bumpkin," he ordered and Harry, half blinded by the tears made his way over to the bedridden boy and clambered up where he was immediately wrapped in Skylar's arms. Skylar just held him as he sobbed into the slightly older boy's shoulder feeling completely pathetic for his reaction.
He didn't know how much time passed before he finally mange to calm down to mere hiccups, but when he did, he noticed that he an Skylar were both lounging back comfortably on the blonds small mountain of pillows. Slowly he eased off Skylar's shoulder and instead rested his head on one of the pillows. Skylar's eyes which had been turned toward the ceiling slowly flickered over to him.
"All done, bumpkin?" he teased with a gentle smile that Harry couldn't quite return. Skylar didn't seem to mind and turned his tired gaze back towards the ceiling.
"I'm all cried out," he informed Harry solemnly after a few minutes. "Me and mom both. I cried for days. So much that I made myself sick. Mom was trying to be, well, mom, but she couldn't help it. And the, at night, I could hear her crying more, when she thought I was asleep." He paused. "I've never been so miserable in my life." He admitted with no more emotion than if he were talking about the weather. "But I've also never felt so lucky. It's a wonderful thing being alive."
The turned his head back toward Harry, the softest smile the younger boy had ever seen twisting on his lips. "I thought I was going to die," he stressed. "Mom told me she thought I was dead when they found us. So even though I feel like utter crap all the time and all I want to do is cry and curse about how unfair life is and how much it sucks…I am so, so happy to be alive." Skylar's voice was breaking but he was staring determinedly into Harry's eyes even as his own welled with frustrated tears.
"And I don't blame you for anything, okay? Mom told me your dad said that you were blaming yourself and that's stupid. I-I'm the one who brought you there and if you hadn't been there I still would have went and still would have fell a-and who knows how long it would have took m-mom to f-f-find me," Skylar stuttered, blinking away his own tears furiously and Harry shuffled over closer and Skylar let his face burrow into Harry's shoulder, twisting his body as much as he could so that he was half curled into the younger boys side.
"I was so scared," Skylar muttered, his words holding a world of meaning and Harry closed his eyes.
"You said Skylar was doing well," Remus started awkwardly after they were both sat down with tea. Miranda was gazing down in her cup, her eyes unfocused, but she smiled in an absent sort of way.
"He is. As well as can be expected." She ran a finger over the rim of her mug and her smile became a bit more genuine. "My baby's a lot tougher than me. Half the time I was a sobbing mess and he had to be the one telling me it was okay. He only really cried when the nightmares came." Miranda sighed. "He's really wanted to see Harry. I think he wanted to see with his own eyes that he was okay. He was blaming himself for dragging Harry there, putting him in that situation."
"Harry's been blaming himself for not being able to help, he feels like he should have been able to do more. He wakes up panicked in the middle of the night." Remus offered and if the situation hadn't been so serious and heart breaking, he would have been amused by the similarities between the two. Miranda seemed to notice because she glanced up, a half smile on her face.
"What a pair those two make, hmm?" Remus' lips twitched.
They sat in silence for a long time, their tea steadily growing colder as an hour passed, then two, without either really noticing or caring. "I think I'll go up and check on the boys," Miranda said suddenly, as if the thought had just occurred to her but Remus could tell she had been considering it for a while. He had been too.
"I'll come with you." They stood together and Miranda lead him up to Skylar's bedroom with little fanfare, pausing only to distractedly point out the bathroom and the guest room Remus would stay in. She knocked softly, waited a beat and then pushed the already slightly ajar door open more and they both gazed in on the scene.
Skylar lay with his upper body twisted into Harry's stomach, chest rising a falling steadily as he snored, obviously deeply asleep. Harry was curled almost protectively around the bigger boy, just as fast asleep if the heavy breathing was anything to go by. Remus and Miranda traded a look and backed out of the room, Miranda shutting the door quietly.
She was smiling a soft tender smile and Remus felt as if a ball of tension that had been swirling around in his stomach had finally been released.
"Quite the pair," she laughed softly and Remus grinned.
"So, they're sure then?" Harry asked fiddling with the wheel under his fingers. Skylar shrugged and rested back on his customary pile of pillows while they waited for their respective parents to come and fetch them. A week into their visit and Harry and Skylar had spoken about everything there was to talk about regarding the Accident, except this. They both, under the prodding of their parents spoken of the guilt they felt, Skylar leading Harry into what turned out to be a dangerous situation, and harry not being able to aid Skylar when said situation turned so sour. They'd been bottling it up in the month they'd been separated to allow Skylar's body time to heal, neither able to move on from the trauma of that night. It would still take time of course, but having the closure of knowing they were still each other's best friends and that neither blamed the other was enough to set them mentally on the road to recovery, much to the relief of Miranda and Remus.
"They won't give a definite answer. They keep spouting off this hopeful nonsense about the physical therapy working but me and mom can both tell they really think it's a lost cause. Thus the chair," Skylar said gesturing towards the wheelchair Harry was experimentally sitting in at the side of the bed. Skylar had watched passively when Miranda a brought it up a few days ago, but hadn't made any comment, passive aggressive or otherwise at the prospect of having to use it for what could be indefinitely.
Harry frowned at Skylar's slightly cynical tone but didn't respond. Skylar had more of a right than most to be cynical. "The only thing they've been really honest about is the possibility of me getting the feeling back. I get these tingles see, or a dull ache sometimes, and apparently that's a good sign of feeling returning. It means the nerves aren't dead, they just need a jumpstart."
"A jumpstart like what?" Harry inquired.
"Like injections of a nerve restoration potion usually used on victims of the Cruciatus curse."
"The what?" Harry asked slightly incredulous. Skylar's brows furrowed and a disgusted sort of frown came across his face.
"Cruciatus. Which is Latin for—"
"Torture," Harry frowned. Latin, though a dead language it maybe, was still something he studied much to the approval of his aunt Maribell. "Why would someone name a spell that?"
Before Skylar could answer, the door opened and Miranda's smiling face appeared. "We're all set. Who's ready for some sight-seeing?"
"I am," Skylar grinned, and pushed himself into a sitting position while Harry slid out of the wheelchair. "I've never been stuck inside for so long in my life," Skylar griped as his amused mother carefully lifted him into her arms. Harry pushed the chair obediently after them as Miranda made her way out of Skylar's room. Remus met them in the hallway where he took the chair from Harry with a smile and carried it down the steps without further ado, leaving Miranda to make her way down the steps with her precious burden, Harry following after.
"Excited?" Skylar asked over his mother's shoulder and Harry nodded happily because he was. More so that Skylar was getting that happy glow back in his eyes than anything, but excited. "I have a book or two that mentions that spell," Skylar added, as Miranda gently sat him down in the chair. "I'll show you, when we get back, if you really want to know."
"Okay," Harry agreed easily but already the curiously named spell was fading from his mind as his attention turned eagerly to face the new day. His heart felt lighter than it had in weeks and though things had changed drastically, this was still the same. The comforting feeling of being around those he considered family.
A/N: I'll go deeper into Skylar's injuries in the next chapter I believe in case you're curious. Right now though, at this very moment, I'm going to bed. I have work in the morning. Love you all.