A Reason to Fight
Disclaimer: Not JKR. Not Warner Bros.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he escaped the study. His excuse of needing to use the bathroom would buy him a good five minutes away from the cleaning party. As much as he cared about the Weasleys and Hermione, all of them at once could be a little much. Especially right now, when he didn't even know if he'd get to go back to Hogwarts with them. Everyone said there was no way they could rule against him, but as the Ministry was also determinedly ignoring Voldemort's return, he rather thought they were doing a lot they shouldn't be able to. That combined with the fact that they had the Prophet spouting stories that he was off his rocker made him extremely uneasy about his chances, even though he knew his use of magic had actually been legal in the circumstances. He sighed, and wandered down to the kitchen, thinking he might as well use his five minutes to see if he could find a snack. He was mildly surprised to run into Sirius, who hadn't been at breakfast, already there.
"What are you doing?"
Sirius looked over his shoulder. "Just making a cup of tea for Moony." When Harry looked confused, he added, "Full moon last night, you know. He's upstairs recovering."
"Oh. I-I didn't- realize, actually." Harry felt slightly guilty about this. He knew what Professor Lupin was, of course, but he'd forgotten about what this meant, about what the man must go through every month.
Sirius smiled at the look on Harry's face. "Don't worry, most people don't pay that much attention to their lunar charts. It's the reason why no one at school ever found out about Moony. Except your father and me, of course, but that was only because we charted every detail about when he left for six months."
"It took you six months to figure it out?"
"Yeah, to be sure. And there was a summer holiday that I'm not counting. We charted the last three months of first year and the first three of second before we confronted him. We were pretty pissed that he'd lied to us, but we got over it." Sirius didn't bother to mention the fact of being a werewolf as something that had to be gotten over; in his mind, it never had been.
Harry wasn't quite sure how to respond. He liked hearing about anything from his father's life, was glad to have proof that he had indeed walked the earth, but it created a strange, twisty feeling in his stomach. He should have been hearing these kinds of stories from his father. His stomach twisted harder, and he thought about Lupin instead. He hadn't really gotten a chance to talk to Lupin, had barely seen him since the night they arrived. He was always on guard duty, or out on missions. Now that he was forcibly taking a break, perhaps they could catch up. And Harry still felt guilty for forgetting what full moons meant.
"Do you mind if I take him the tea? I haven't gotten a chance to to talk to him for a while, find out what he's been up to since third year."
Sirius looked at Harry intently for a few moments before conceding. "Sure. Second floor, door at the end of the hall. Just don't stay too long. He'd never say anything, but Moony will tire quickly and he needs to rest."
Harry nodded, taking the mug of tea, and proceeded up the three flights of stairs. That he was expected back in the study to assist with the habitation was forgotten. He knocked on the appropriate door and opened it, saying, "Professor Lupin? Sirius made you some tea." He stopped abruptly just inside. Lupin was sheet-pale, covered in bandages and bruises; he looked awful. Harry knew full moons were hard on him, but he never thought it was this bad…
"I know I look terrible," Lupin said weakly, "Did something keep Sirius back?" He started to push himself up, grimacing.
Harry moved forward, putting the mug down on the bedside table so he could help. Instinctively, he braced his former professor while arranging pillows for him to lean against. He let Lupin back into the cushions gently, conscious of the pain he must be in. Concern was all over his features as he asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
It was Remus' turn to stare for a few moments before breaking into a fond smile. "Merlin, you're so like James sometimes. He could never keep himself from asking that after transformations, even when he knew the answer. I'm fine, Harry. Sirius has got it quite under control. Speaking of which, you didn't answer my question."
"Wha-? Oh. No, I just ran into him and asked if I might bring you the tea," Harry said, handing over the mug, "We haven't really gotten to talk. How have you been? What have you been doing away from Hogwarts?" He briefly wondered if it was impertinent to ask these questions of a man he knew mostly as his teacher. Then he decided that as he also knew the man to be a friend of his father's, he didn't really care. Lupin would not be angry. He sat down in the chair the Sirius had placed beside the bed after tending to his fellow Marauder that morning.
Remus could hardly believe that after all this time, James' son was sitting here talking to him as a friend. He had made up such scenes in his head- although in these he was not bedridden in a post transformation recovery- more often than he cared to admit. True, it was not as good as having Harry speak to him as a favored uncle, the way he should have always done, but it was better than Remus had dared to hope for. And suddenly Remus forgot how badly his body was aching and how weak he was at the moment. Smiling, he answered, "I've been well. I haven't been up to terribly much, at least not until the Order started back up the other month. My social calendar isn't exactly bursting with events. I had a job for a few months editing a new book on the History of Magic in America."
"Fascinating," Harry said, sounding bored. Remus started to chuckle, but stopped when Harry repeated, "Had?"
"Yes. There's a recent bit of legislation from the Ministry that requires werewolves to state their condition on all their employment applications, and inform any employers they might already have," Remus replied darkly, "Needless to say, I was quickly dismissed from my post."
Harry's eyes flashed in the exact same way Lily's always did when she was angry. But when he spoke, it was with James' fierceness. "But that's ridiculous! I mean, the law is stupid to begin with, but for someone to fire you because of it? You're a great employee. You were the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher I ever had! You don't deserve this kind of treatment. There's nothing wrong with you! You should be treated just like everybody else!"
Remus considered Harry. James had always been defensive whenever there was a threat to werewolf rights, but James had also known him much better than Harry. Harry wasn't his best friend; he didn't have the same motivation to protect him. In that moment, Remus saw Lily's hatred for prejudice and her ardent desire for a fair government in Harry, and remembered that it takes two to make a child. Remus gestured at himself. "Do you really believe that? Even after seeing me like this, seeing what I've just spent the last night doing to myself?"
"Of course!" Harry seemed insulted by the very suggestion he would think otherwise. "You've just got an illness, and you can't help that. It's nothing to be ashamed of! Besides, doesn't the fact that you lock yourself up on full moon and injure yourself rather than risking hurting others prove you're a perfectly rational, considerate human being?"
Remus shifted in order to stare better. His bruises screamed their protest, and he could not stop himself from wincing. Harry looked like he wanted to help but wasn't sure how, and compensated by awkwardly adjusting a pillow. This had no effect whatsoever on Remus' comfort level, but he was reminded forcibly of the Marauders' early attempts to care for him post-transformation. They had become quite skilled at it with time, until it was second nature for them to guess his needs. But in the beginning they had been just as unsuccessful and nearly as awkward as Harry was now. God, why did the boy have to look so much like James? It made it very hard to concentrate on the present. After a moment, Remus came back to himself and said wonderingly, "You don't yet know how rare people like you are, Harry. I assure you that what you have said is not what most people would think of me upon finding out that I am a werewolf, any personal qualities notwithstanding."
"That's because 'most people' are gits," Sirius said, walking into the room and eyeing his friend critically for a moment. "You should be lying down."
Remus rolled his eyes. "I'm fine, Mum." But he did not protest when Sirius walked over and guided his grateful body into a laying position, fixing the pillows so that the worst of the wounds his friend had bandaged that morning were padded.
"No, Sirius is right, you should rest, Professor," Harry said, standing up. "I have to get back to helping the Weasleys and Hermione clean anyway. It was really nice to get to talk to you. I'll see you later, Professor Lupin."
Remus watched until Harry had disappeared down the hall and then said sadly, "It's Uncle Remus to you."
"He's just like them, isn't he?" Sirius asked quietly from the seat he had taken over.
"He's the best of both of them." Although Harry spoke with James' fierce loyalty, his arguments followed Lily's reasoning. Remus sighed. "They left their mark without even being there long enough to impress it on him."
They were both silent for a little while. Remus had nearly drifted back off to sleep when Sirius said, "When I'm with him is the only time it doesn't hurt to miss them."
Remus understood immediately. Somehow being with the perfect mixture of his two friends and knowing that they lived on in their offspring made it easier to bear the losses that had haunted him for fourteen years. He nodded."Me, too."
"He's all that's left of them. Even if there were no other reasons, I'd die to protect him for that."
Remus nodded again. "Me, too."
A/N: A review, a review, my kingdom for a review!