Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations all characters find themselves in. Thanks for reading and reviewing until the end. It's been fun.
It was late when he got home, Teddy hoping like hell Regulus wasn't mad as he let himself into the forebodingly silent house. He'd sent a message courtesy of his patronus letting the other man know that he'd been held up, but in the four years since they'd started living together he'd learned that a message wasn't always enough, especially if Regulus had actually cooked dinner instead of leaving that to the house elf they employed. Heading for the kitchen he saw no sign of leftovers, which was good in this case since he'd already eaten and Regulus hated wasted food.
And since he was there anyway Teddy helped himself to a couple biscuits from the jar and then headed out of the room and up the stairs at a brisk pace, just in case. When he arrived at the right floor he walked to the door that had once been a guest room on silent feet, opening it up to see that his son was not fast asleep as he should be.
Looking up from the comic book he was reading guiltily, Alec set it aside as he squirmed under his covers. "Hi, Dad."
"Hi." Walking over to take a seat on the side of the bed Teddy smirked at the boy, gesturing with what was left of his biscuit. "You know what HE would say about you being up this late, right?"
"He's on the roof working on his gardens. I…I didn't think you'd be back to catch me. What time is it, anyway?"
"Nice try." Reaching out to ruffle the boy's already messy hair, Regulus despaired of ever getting it to stay down properly, Teddy gave their son a look that said he wasn't buying it. He had no doubt Alec knew exactly what time it was. "You're lucky I'm the one that caught you."
"I know. Though he is in a really good mood today, Neville came by today for a while and they were talking about how well those hybrid plants they've been working on have been doing at Hogwarts. Father says that maybe we can go there sometime this week, so that he can see them."
"Which isn't likely to happen if he hears you've been staying up past your bedtime."
Wincing, the eight year old immediately gave his dad his best puppy dog expression, his eyes pleading with him not to tell. He hardly ever got to go to Hogwarts after all, it would be three whole years before he was old enough to go as a student. And Father was very strict about bedtime and following the rules, he'd be left behind with their house elf while the man went to the school to see the plants.
"Give me the book, you can have it back at breakfast." Holding out his hand Teddy held back a grin at the loud sigh his son gave before the comic book was handed over. "Now go to sleep and don't think I won't send him to come check on you before we turn in. If you're still up I'll be punishing you too, understand?"
Alec nodded, not doubting him in the slightest.
"Okay, go to sleep then." Leaning over he gave the boy a smacking kiss on the forehead, ignoring the scowl and eye rolling as Alec informed him that he wasn't a little kid, for Merlin's sake. "Tough, consider it part of your punishment. Love you muchly."
"Yeah, yeah." Rolling his eyes some more Alec settled back to go to sleep, resigned to the fact that he'd been caught and now had to wait until tomorrow to find out how Martin Miggs got out of his latest scrape.
Remembering what it was to be eight and caught staying up past bedtime Teddy just grinned and ruffled the boy's hair some more before getting to his feet and heading for the door, pointedly turning around to make sure Alec was at least pretending to go to sleep before closing the door behind him.
Stopping briefly beside one of the decorative tables Regulus had insisted the hallway needed, Teddy stashed the comic inside the drawer so that Regulus wouldn't guess as to why he had it, making a mental note to grab it in the morning on the way down. That done the Gryffindor decided to go straight up to the roof, knowing better than to change beforehand.
He didn't intend for them to be in the garden that long.
When he reached the roof Teddy blinked at the brightness of the magical balls of light that had been strategically placed overheard, illuminating the gardens that flourished around him as he walked down the path towards the lone figure kneeling over one of his flowerbeds. The fact that Regulus was ignoring him in favor of killing weeds was a pretty good indication that he was indeed in trouble for missing supper, especially since he couldn't have snuck up on the man to save his life.
Thankfully he knew how to get on the Slytherin's good side fairly quickly.
Leaning down he held the man's tied back hair out of the way and pressed his lips against the pale neck he loved to nibble on. "Hello, Luv."
Shuddering in reaction, he couldn't help it, Regulus rose from his current position, deliberately rubbing his back against the other man's front as they rose to their full heights before Regulus turned around to face his husband.
"I sent a note."
Crossing his arms in front of him Regulus wasn't about to let the man off that easy. "If you're late coming home one more time this month, Ted Remus Lupin, I will bring your son to you every night and you can explain to him, in person, why you can't come home on time. And then, if that doesn't work, I'll sic all your stupid Gryffindor relatives on you by pointing out that the less time you spend at home, the more time I have to turn our son into a mini me."
"I wouldn't mind him turning out just like you."
A snort greeted that statement.
Pulling Regulus in for a kiss Teddy grinned at the way the Slytherin immediately wrapped his arms around his neck, both of them knowing from experience that the other man would need the support. Even though it had been years since Regulus's soul had been given a permanent 'shell', the power of the man's reaction to skin on skin contact had not changed. Which mean that whenever he snogged or held the Slytherin Regulus couldn't help but feel all the love and want Teddy was experiencing at the time for him.
It made the sex beyond incredible, and also guaranteed that he went along with Regulus's rules concerning public displays of affection. Nobody was allowed to hear the man's sexy sounds but him.
Pulling away when he was pretty sure he'd snogged his way out of the Slytherin's bad books, Teddy hugged his lover close, nuzzling his cheek against the man's hair just because he could.
Grumbling over the man's sneaky, juvenile Gryffindor tactics, Regulus yelped in shock when Teddy picked him up princess style just to mess with him, the Slytherin sputtering his outrage all the way to the door that would lead back into the house.
"So what are those for?" Teddy asked as he turned Regulus so that they were facing the flowers in pots by the door. He'd noticed them earlier.
"They're for HIS grave."
Teddy didn't have to ask who the man meant, Regulus always used that tone of voice when referring to Sirius's grave. He and other members of his family had sort of emotionally blackmailed the man into visiting his brother's grave somewhat regularly, and Regulus didn't like to be blackmailed, big surprise. But the man hardly bitched about it anymore, which was progress. "They'll look great, no doubt."
Not about to be buttered out Regulus scowled in response. "Oh shut up and take me to bed before I jinx you, Lupin."
"Typical Bossy Black, I don't know why I put up with you."
"Oh I'll show you my Black traits when I get you in bed."
The two bickered quite happily the rest of the way.
The afterlife was a strange place to understand. Even though he'd been dead for what he thought was a while now, Sirius Black was fairly sure it would take him centuries more to get the hang of things. One of the reasons he was terrible at keeping track of time was the fact that unless it was the day of one's birth or death, one didn't get access to the 'living' world unless someone of your blood or heart needed you specifically to watch over and help him or her. Ergo the only time he was in that plane of existence was when he felt like hanging around his grave to take note of the small group of people who made the trip to his tombstone to lay flowers out for him. Not terribly exciting, that, though he did appreciate the thought.
In the last little while he hadn't gone at all even though his friends all thought him crazy once they'd learned that Regulus had somehow managed to bring his skinny arse back from the dead and was apparently living with Teddy at Grimmauld Place. And while he was somewhat curious as to how the Slytherin poster boy had pulled that off he just…didn't want to know badly enough to see if he couldn't arrange to see his brother.
Not that that was likely possible, Sirius regularly reminded them when the subject came up, since his brother would never visit his grave unless it was to spit on it.
Besides, if Regulus wasn't completely alive than maybe, just maybe, the other man would be able to see him and then what would he do? What would he say? He knew now what his brother had done, how he'd 'died' and why. It had been hard to believe, to comprehend given what he'd thought he knew…and the possibilities were still eating at him after all this time. Had his brother had to die? Could he have saved his brother, if their relationship had been better? If Regulus could have known for sure that he would at least talk to him first before trying to kill him? And even if that hadn't been possible, just knowing about the horcruxes that early-
What ifs were truly the bane of anyone's existence, even when they weren't exactly existing.
Another bane of any existence was well meaning friends who had known you far too long and therefore knew how to guilt trip you like no one else in the world. Not even his twisted, insane mum had anything on Lily and Tonks when it came to this, the two women determined to get him to visit his grave because they were sure that Regulus must be visiting it.
Since Regulus had avoided Lily like dragon pox and Tonks had never had the chance to meet his brother Sirius tried and failed to get it through their thick skulls that he knew the man a hell of a lot better than them and he'd bet the contents of the vault that had once been his that his brother would have to be knocked unconscious and carried to his grave before he'd visit it. And while at first Remus and James had stayed out of the argument, their wives eventually lost their patience and the men were forced to come to Sirius and beg him to just visit his bloody grave once so that the women would stop taking their frustration out on them.
Thus Sirius Black, much against his will, found himself appearing over his grave one warm summer morning on the anniversary of his death.
The brightness of the sun disoriented Sirius for a few seconds, the adjustment from one plane of existence to another not a smooth one since it had been a while since he'd made the transition. But he recovered quickly enough, his head turning this way and that to take in the cemetery around him, some silvery white ghosts hovering over their tombstones while there were a couple like him who simply looked a little washed out but retained their coloring.
Resigned to being bored out of his mind, he'd promised to stay until night fell, Sirius walked over to chat with the other residents of the cemetery, picking a very good looking woman who looked about his age to start with. Introducing himself Sirius frowned when, after she'd introduced herself, the lady stated that she'd always wanted to meet him. She simply loved the garden on his grave.
Turning his head Sirius really looked at his grave for the first time, his jaw dropping as he saw that unlike the other graves around it his friends and his had flowerbeds over them.
"Have you not seen them before?" The lady asked in surprise. "It's your brother that puts them in, three years now I think. Not a very friendly fellow, never wants to talk with the rest of us, but the man who comes with him sometimes seems very nice. He doesn't see us though."
Still stunned Sirius let her prattle on, describing the previous beds and what flowers had been used and the few conversations she'd managed to have with Regulus in the past. Once she'd exhausted that topic he excused himself to look the flowerbeds over himself, unable to believe that his brother had done such a thing. His brother had always loved gardening and plants, yes, but to do this…he would have never believed it.
How long he stood over the flowers Sirius couldn't have said, time really had no meaning for one such as him, but he didn't think it was long before he felt eyes on him, something very familiar about them.
That Regulus looked to be in his twenties was a shock, as was the large bucket the other man carried which was full of gardening tools. Regulus was also holding a tray with potted flowers in it, proof that the man was the one taking care of the garden plot.
Shocked dumb Sirius just gaped, unable to think of a single thing to say.
"The flowerbeds weren't my idea." Regulus stated as he came closer, pride keeping him from disappearing. Kneeling down he set his load down and then pulled on gloves, turning his attention to the plants as he informed his brother that the damn Gryffindors in his life had harassed him into doing this.
"That makes more sense than you caring enough to visit on your own."
"Why would I want to visit your grave? It's not like you visited mine."
"You didn't have a grave for me to visit, you stuck up prat!"
Two sets of black eyes met and glared at each other, both lapsing into silence because they didn't really want to fight with the other but knew no other way to communicate. It had been a very, very, VERY long time since they'd said something remotely nice to the other, which made it a hard trend to break.
Regulus had put in the new flowers and had been picking out weeds for a good ten minutes before Sirius took a seat on the other side of the plot and asked how he'd come to be alive again. The others had refused to tell him in the hopes of forcing him to come visit Regulus to satisfy his curiosity if nothing else.
Keeping his full attention on what he was doing Regulus explained what Ceres had done, going silent after stating that he'd been living with Andromeda's grandson ever since.
"Yes, Moony and Tonks are unusually fond of you for some reason." Sirius muttered, still not quite sure why that was. Some nonsense about Regulus keeping Teddy out of trouble or something.
"The garden I made over them is nicer than yours."
Silence reigned again for about twenty minutes this time before Regulus asked if Sirius had seen their parents in the afterlife.
"No, thank Merlin. Mother's portrait still threatening everyone who comes in the front door?"
"I moved it to my room." Regulus answered, amused when Sirius demanded to know how he'd managed that since he had failed in his numerous attempts to do so when he'd been alive. "It was easy."
Glaring at his brother Sirius sighed, wishing that he was substantial enough to pull some weeds of his own. It would be something to distract himself with. "Out of idle curiosity…when was the last time we managed a real conversation?"
A long silence. "My third year when I took a bad fall from my broom during a match. You came to visit."
Sirius nodded and more silence followed before he finally erupted with curses because dammit, he wasn't used to being quiet and there was just so much he wanted to say and ask but couldn't.
Nearing the end of his rather impressive tirade eventually Sirius turned his curses towards everyone they knew who didn't seem to grasp the fact that Black siblings did not have heart to heart talks. They didn't do mush and they certainly didn't know how to talk about their feelings. And what the blood hell was so great about talking about one's feelings anyway?
"Here you are preaching to the choir, Brother."
Blinking in surprise Sirius stared at Regulus in shock. "You called me your brother. You haven't…not since I left home. After you just called me 'Dog', 'Gryffindor', or 'Bloodtraitor'."
"Your 'pet names' for me weren't flattering either."
That was true. "We could…both stick with Brother or actual names."
"In theory, yes."
"I'm willing if you are."
Glancing up from his work Regulus studied his brother's face, seeing that Sirius was actually being serious about this. He didn't quite know what to think about that. He certainly didn't trust it. "If this is your way of insuring I don't harm your godson I won't regardless. Teddy would be upset if I did." Not for all the gold in Gringotts would he admit that he'd learned to grudgingly respect Harry Potter.
"No…this is between us."
"We could try it." Was the most Regulus was willing to commit too.
The two brothers all talked out for the time being, not being nasty was hard work after all, Regulus finished up his work while pointedly ignoring the other man until it was time to leave. At that point he brushed off his clothing and inquired as to whether Sirius would be appearing regularly from now on.
"I'll be here for my birthday."
"Fine. See you then."
With that Regulus dissipated from the spot, leaving Sirius behind to question just how dysfunctional their relationship would continue to be in the future, and did he really want the headache of trying to improve it?
As it turned out, and it did take them decades to sort everything out if they were being completely honest, Sirius and Regulus were able to interact like normal brothers by the time Regulus once again passed over to the other side with Teddy, who he could not live without.