Chapter Thirty-Seven: Wishes for Remus
"I really cannot thank you enough." Diane sighed as her hands wrapped around the cup of hot tea Remus had just poured her. It was Saturday morning and Diane had finally been able to leave the hospital, though Natalie was still there. She needed a lot more help than it had been initially thought. Not wanting to leave her, but knowing her other two children needed her as well, she'd made the hard decision between the two. Natalie was safe at the hospital for now. "I just… I didn't know what to do."
"Like I told you on Thursday, Diane. We're a little community and we've got to look out for one another." Sirius assured her.
"It really was no trouble at all for us." Lexie added as she shook a recently heated bottle about to get the contents to an even temperature before she tested it and handed it off to Nathan who was leaning against his mother quite contently. Harry and Marny were in the living room working on the big block castle they'd started Friday afternoon. It was now Saturday morning and they could be heard chattering back and forth about this and that regarding the blocks or who was going to live there or what they were going to call it. Harry's obvious choice had been Hogwarts, but Marny had said that sounded silly and it should be Buckingham Palace, not that either four year old knew what Buckingham Palace looked like. To them a castle was a castle. "They've both been wonderful."
"Yeah, wonderful." Sirius grinned, feeling that it would be quite off-putting of him to mention that he'd gotten peed on. "How's Natalie doing?"
"She's better. It's hard to believe she'd actually do something like this, but then again, at the same time, it's not."
"Did she say why she jumped off the bridge?"
"Apparently it was her school mates' idea. The friends she has now aren't exactly the best sort and we've moved around so much in the past year and a half that it's been nearly impossible for her to make friends. So she's been hanging out with the first kids who accepted her into their little group here and it's just been… she's a good girl normally. But lately she's been getting more and more angry and out of control. I was almost scared to leave the little ones with her some nights, but I didn't have much choice. She blames me for everything lately, not that I don't understand, she has every right to angry."
"Is it because you've moved around a lot?" Lexie asked, sitting down at the table.
"That, mostly. She knows that every moved we've made has been for the better. And she's had it rough. My first husband left us, when she was five. Then my second husband was a wonderful man and he was a good father to her and to Marny but things sort of got twisted when we found out we were expecting Nathan. He just gradually began to lose it. Too much pressure of responsibility, I guess. So we left when I was six months pregnant, when things had gotten quite rough with him and it was not a good environment for the children at all. We went just around the country, searching for a good place to stay and call home. But there was either not enough work or it was too expensive, or something. It was always something. And we had to move on. And then we found this town. And it's mostly perfect. It's little and safe, the schools are decent and I have work." Diane heaved a sigh, as though this had been weighing on her shoulders for quite some time. She sipped at her tea with one hand, holding Nathan's bottle for him with the other. "And the only problem with it, is there is no day care center anywhere."
"Really?" Sirius blinked, having not known this. They were lucky of course, being a family of three adults and one child. He worked, Lexie worked, and Remus stayed home and looked after Harry during the weekday afternoons. No one wanted to hire a werewolf, though it wasn't for lack of trying on Moony's part.
"Really. I asked Miss Nancy on the girls' first day of school, and she said the only day care in town had closed down years ago when the family who ran it out of their home moved away. Most of the single parent families in town have a neighbor watch the kids, or a teenager after school." Diane explained sadly. "Unfortunately we haven't been able to establish something like that, so Natalie has to watch the kids while I work."
"That's awful." Remus frowned. What kind of town didn't have a day care center? He reached out a hand to Diane and placed it on her shoulder. "Listen, I would be more than happy to watch Marny and Nathan during the day."
"Oh, I couldn't do that to you. They're precious but they can be a lot to handle. And you've already got Harry to look after."
"The more the merrier. At least think on it before you say no."
"Okay, I'll think on it." Diane smiled and lifted one arm as Nathan's bottle rolled away from him, the baby having fallen fast asleep, ready for his morning nap.
After a bit of coaxing, Diane decided to go back to the hospital to be with Natalie that afternoon. As Sirius told her to convince her, Marny and Nathan really didn't need her as much as Natalie did at the moment. They were fine where they were, playing and being happy.
Remus spent a lot of time pacing about the house, picking up after kids with his thinking face on. Sirius and Lexie left him to it, taking the two older children outside while Nathan took his second nap that afternoon around three. Remus paused in the living room, looking down at the sleeping baby in the playpen. He was so content, his little chest heaving up and down slowly. He sat down on the couch, shifting a stuffed badger into his lap and just watching the baby sleep for a bit. He was still at it when the other came in, laughing and pink cheeked. Most of the snow was melting, having lasted longer this year than it normally did, but the kids were always up for a romp in the remaining slush.
"What you up to mate?" Sirius finally asked as he entered the living room, swinging Harry up like an airplane as he hollered.
"High Paddy! Higher!"
"I want to open a day care center." Remus said as he looked up and set the badger aside.
Sirius set Harry down. "That sounds like a great idea, Moony, but it'd be impossible to have kids running around here all the time. I mean, Muggle kids… It's been hard enough blocking things from…"
"My goodness, Marny! Your socks are soaked straight through!" Lexie's voice sounded from the hallway.
"I know. I was thinking maybe of finding some sort of building closer to town, something no one's using and sprucing it up. Only problem is, there is no way I can afford to buy a building. It's just an idea I had." Remus sighed and rose from the couch. "I'm going to get started on dinner."
"Marny's socks are alllll wet!" Harry's little voice chimed happily, laughing as he ran from hallway to living room, a sock held in each hand, waving them above his head now.
"Harry! My socks!" Marny chased after him.
"Moony, you know if it's something you really want to do, I can help you do it." Sirius followed him into the kitchen.
"Sirius, you're already doing so much for me. This house and just… everything." Remus heaved a sigh, opening the fridge and pulling out a package of chicken. "And what do I do? I watch Harry. I'll watch the new baby when he or she comes and Lexie eventually goes back to work, because you and I both know she won't be able to stand being gone from it for more than a few months. And I help with the cooking and cleaning as well, but…"
"Moony…" Sirius took the chicken and set it down on the counter. "Listen to me. I would be lost without you. All of this Harry stuff, we get through because of you. We have this house because you knew the perfect realtor. When we all got sick, you took care of all of us. You are one of the only true family members I've got left and if there's something you need or want to do and you need help doing it, I am right here. I think I day care center is a fantastic idea. The town needs one and it would give you a job doing what you love doing, teaching. They would be tiny students, but, let's face it, no way could any of us teach older Muggles when we only know reading and writing and maths. And the beauty of Muggles, is no one can discriminate against you because of your condition."
"Sirius, there's no way I'm letting you buy a building. Besides, I'd probably need all these different qualifications to run a day care center. Muggle certificates saying I know all about child development and have experience…"
"Then we had best get to the library, hadn't we?" Sirius grinned at his old companion with a bright smile.
"There's still no way I'm letting you buy me a building."
"Leeeeexie!" Sirius called and Lexie poked her head into the kitchen.
"What did you burn?"
"Nothing. I was just wondering, usually people don't have much choice in the matter of what they receive for their birthdays as gifts right?"
"Sirius, you wouldn't…" Remus began but the cocky grin on Sirius's face was enough of an answer.
"No, I don't believe they do. What is it you're getting Remus for his birthday that he thinks is too extravagant?" Lexie laughed as she entered the kitchen fully, reaching out a hand to ruffle Remus's hair while he hid his face in his hands.
"A place to start a day care in. Nothing too large, just big enough to hold about fifteen kids. Of course, we'll need to see what the rules and regulations are first."
"Oooh Remus! A day care? That would be wonderful!" Lexie beamed, absolutely delighted at this idea. She hugged Remus. "We'll go to the library and look things up, and we could consult one of those Muggle legal people… an attorney. And see what he says."
"You guys, I really appreciate the idea of it, but I really don't think it would be right for Sirius to buy…"
"Do you hear something, Lexie?"
"Nope." Lexie smiled as she cut open the package of chicken.
"Paddy, where're we going?" Harry asked as he strode alongside his godfather, holding tightly onto his hand. Sirius had wanted to spend some time with just him and Harry today, before they had Remus's birthday part later that afternoon. He had said he didn't want any big to-do or anything, so they had, of course, planned just a small party amongst themselves. Diane had come by earlier that morning to take Marny and Nathan over to the hospital to see Natalie as she had been asking for them. The hospital was keeping her until they felt it was safe to let her go, so Diane was going to stay home and visit her every couple of days in the morning while Marny was at school. Then Marny and Nathan would spend the nights that Diane had to work at the Black Lupin Potter home.
So Sirius felt it rather prudent to give Remus a morning to just relax and read for a while without little ones underfoot. And of course, time alone with Harry was important as well. He hadn't been getting that as often lately and he missed it.
"Well, Prongslet, you and I are going to find you a present to give to Moony for his birthday today. So I thought you and I could come to London and look about Diagon Alley."
"But Paddy, we just were by Diagon Alley." Harry laughed, pointing back towards the Leaky Cauldron where he and his godfather had just flooed to about ten minutes ago.
Sirius smiled, lifting Harry a little to help him jump over a slightly icy puddle on the sidewalk. "Well, I was thinking you and I could also do some special secret shopping. Can you keep a secret, Harry?"
"Yeah!" Harry nodded, eyes alight at this idea of secret shopping. He had never really done that before except back around Christmas time. But boy, did he sure like to be let in on a secret! Especially one that wasn't his own. "What're we secret shopping for, Paddy?"
"You and I are going to look at a very secret store, so I can't say until we get there, alright?"
"Okay Paddy." Harry whispered as best as a four year old can, which is not exceptionally well. He laughed as he jumped over another puddle, landing smack down in the center of it on purpose and they continued on their way down the busy London sidewalk, making through way past shop after shop. Harry quite enjoyed looking at all the displays in the windows. It wasn't very often he got to go shopping like this. Moony normally got the groceries while he was at school and even if they went in the afternoon, the grocery store wasn't nearly as fun as all these different looking shops.
"Here we are." Sirius steered Harry towards the door of a very shiny looking shop and Harry entered before him, his eyes widening as he looked all around.
"Oooo, Paddy. This is a pretty shop." Harry remarked, admiring all the pretty trinkets everywhere. There were necklaces and bracelets hanging on strands. Earrings and hair pieces and rings and large pins. Watches and cuff links. Everything was so shiny Harry quite thought the sun must be shining within the shop itself. Sirius kept a hold of his hand and led him forward to the back of the shop where there were quite a few glass cases displaying even more shiny baubles. Harry pressed one hand to the front of a glass case, moving his face in close to get a good look at all of the pretty things glittering before him.
"Hands!" A man came hurrying over. "Don't touch the glass, young man. I've just cleaned it."
"Oh…" Harry frowned jumping backwards, biting his lip and looking up at Sirius, worried that he was in trouble. But Sirius just smiled back down at him.
"It's alright, mate." Sirius reassured him. "Here, just take one step back and look from there, that way you don't get fingerprints on the glass."
Harry nodded and did as he was told, not wanting to misbehave for fear that he wouldn't be allowed to find out what the secret was and why they were in the shiny shop.
"Now then, what can I help you with?" The man asked as he straightened his tie, looking a little calmer now that the glass of the case was safe from little hands.
"We're looking an engagement ring." Sirius explained, his eyes trailing the cases. "Something simple and not gaudy. I was thinking more towards silver than gold in color and I was hoping to also make it a kind of mother's ring."
"We do do custom orders, though I've never done a combination ring like the before. I suppose it's possible. How many gems are we looking at to represent the children?" The man asked curiously, waving a hand for them to follow him over to one of the glass cases.
"Just two. I was thinking one on either side of the diamond."
"Ah, that shouldn't be too difficult. We have lots of rings with three gem places. Ah, like this one." The man went behind the case and unlocked it, pulling out a ring with a large square diamond in the center and two smaller ones on either side of it. Sirius smiled.
"Yeah, sort of like that, only daintier."
"Paddy, what're we getting a ring for?" Harry asked, tugging as his sleeve as the man went back down behind the case to keep looking.
"Well Harry, I was thinking maybe you and I would marry Lexie."
"Both of us?"
"Well, no. Just me, but kind of you too, since then she would officially be your mum. Well, not your real mum, but…"
"But as good as." Harry nodded, understanding that concept already. He didn't have his daddy, but he had his Paddy and he was as good as a daddy. If he married Lexie, then she would be as good as a mummy.
"Right!" Sirius beamed, ruffling his hair and turning his attention back to the man as he came up with another possible ring.
Harry watched for a couple more rings before leaving his godfather's side and wandering down the case a bit. He was only looking, knowing not to touch the glass now and to stay close enough to Padfoot that he could see him. He looked at the pretty things, admiring all the different shaped and sizes and colors. He'd seen bits of jewelry on his Aunt Petunia, sometimes on Lexie and other times on ladies when he did go to the grocery store with Moony, but he'd never really gotten the chance to look at them properly. He hadn't known there were so many different kinds of things.
He was admiring a necklace with lots of pretty red pebbles in it when a bit of silver caught his eye.
A small ring sat towards the corner of the case, seeming quite lonely and forgotten. Harry thought it was very pretty though, a thin band of silver made into vines and leaves and topped with a little green stone in the middle and two little orange ones on either side of it. He looked up to where Padfoot was still talking to the man and shaking his head. Both were looking more and more disappointed.
Deciding that Padfoot needed a little cheering up, Harry went back over to him and tugged at his hand. "Paddy come see."
"Not right now, Harry. What about that one there?"
"Paaaadddy!" Harry tugged harder now, getting impatient.
"Harry, one minute." Sirius placed a hand down on top of his head, looking at the next ring the man was holding out. "I'm just not sure… it's not… right."
Harry pouted, heaving a sigh. He waited a couple of moments, for what felt like a minute before he grabbed Padfoot's hand and tugged at it hard. Sirius looked down at him and finally, followed.
"Harry, we really need to find a…"
"Look Paddy!" Harry stopped and pointed to the lonesome pretty ring in the corner of the case. Sirius blinked, looking down at Harry and then at the ring. "Isn't it pretty?"
"Yes, Harry, it's very, very pretty." Sirius nodded. "Um… how about this one down here? Can we see it?"
The man came down to the very end of the case and opened it up. "This one?" He asked, pulling out the little vine ring. "It's not exactly the type of ring one gives for an engagement. It's more suited for a young lady's sweet sixteen or something similar.
Sirius broke into a grin, lifting Harry up.
"I beg to differ, that is the perfect ring. Harry, you brilliant little boy!"
"I found the ring!?" Harry asked, surprised. He had only wanted to show it to Padfoot because he thought it quite pretty. And now Padfoot wanted to get it for Lexie!
"You found the ring, that is of course…" Sirius turned his attention back to the jewelry man. "What size is it?"
"Perfect and is it possible to switch the gems out?"
"Of course, we do specialize in placing gems." The man nodded and Sirius spun Harry around again, hugging him tightly, so happy they'd finally found the right ring. "So, you'd like a diamond in the center?"
"Yes." Sirius nodded confirmation, holding Harry on his hip now, still beaming. "And the birthstones for July and August on either side of it."
"Ah, a ruby and a peridot, quite the unique combination, if I do say so myself." The man smiled, pulling a box from beneath the counter and placing the ring gently into it. He pulled a note card from his jacket pocket and scribbled down upon it. "Your name?"
"S. Black….. I can have it done in about two hours depending on how busy the shop gets. However, if you would like to return on another day, I can give you a ring when it's finished."
Sirius nodded, giving the man their home phone number, but saying they would be back in two hours to check and see if it was ready anyway. Once they were finished, Sirius took Harry's hand and they left the shop, making their way down the sidewalk again.
"Next we get a present for Moony?" Harry asked as they went along.
"Yes." Sirius nodded. "Keep your eyes out though as we pass by the shops, you might see something you'd like to give him."
"Okay." Harry nodded seriously and did as he was told, looking at each shop, but not really seeing anything he thought Moony might like very much. It had to be a good present after all.
After seeing nothing of interest in any of the Muggle shops they passed by and having gone into a couple of them just to be sure, Harry and Sirius made their way back to the Leaky Cauldron where they went through onto Diagon Alley.
Harry really liked Diagon Alley, although he had only been there once before. It was full of magical things and wonderful smells one didn't always find walking by the Muggle shops.
"Ooo, look Paddy! A bookstore." Harry pointed, jumping up and down. If there was something he knew Remus loved, it was books. He tugged at Sirius and they went into Flourish and Blott's, Harry's eyes widening at the stacks upon stacks of books and shelves that were here. "Wooow!"
"This would be the perfect store to fine something for Moony." Sirius agreed as Harry looked about, his eyes going from cover to cover, trying to locate something he thought Moony might like.
"Here Harry, what about this one?"
Harry looked up to find Sirius holding a big book entitled A Wizards' Guide to Getting the Ladies. Harry shook his head, not sure what that book was about, but it looked pretty weird to him. Sirius chuckled, setting the book back down as Harry trailed deeper into the shop.
"Ooo, Lookit, Paddy! Werewolves!" Harry pointed to a section label and started for it, but Sirius grabbed hold of him quickly, shaking his head.
"That section probably doesn't have very many nice books, Harry. Let's go look over there at the stationary sets. I think he could probably use a new quill."
"Why aren't the werewolf books nice, Paddy?" Harry asked curiously, turning his head to look back at the section before following Sirius over to the stationary section of the shop. Here there were all different types of quills and parchment and more types of ink than Harry could count.
"Because most people think werewolves are scary and are not very nice to them. So they like to write mean books about them." Sirius explained simply, holding up a pretty peacock feather quill. "What about this one?"
"Nah." Harry shook his head, pondering this over. "But werewolves aren't really scary, only when they're wolves."
"Our family knows that, but a lot of people don't because they don't really know any werewolves like we do. People tend to be afraid of things they can't understand or haven't tried to understand, Prongslet."
"Well that's not nice."
"No, it isn't nice. But that's the way it is."
"When I'm big I'll write a nice book about werewolves so everyone can see how nice they are." Harry stated after a couple moments of looking through the inks and choosing out a sparkly red one. "Ooo, Paddy, I like this one for Moony."
"I like it too. Let's find him a quill and some parchment to go with it, hmm?" Sirius suggested, smiling at Harry's idea. If Harry Potter were to write a book, people would be certain to read it.
"Okay." Harry nodded and they kept looking. He eventually picked out a very nice green and red parrot quill and some pretty parchment that came with envelopes. As an after thought, they also grabbed a wax seal with an M on it. Pleased, Harry purchased his gifts for Moony (Sirius let him hand the shopkeeper the money) and they headed back out onto the street, carrying along their bag of goodies.
"Hey, we've still got a bit of time before we need to head back to check on the ring, how about we grab some ice cream?" Sirius suggested, taking the heavy bag from Harry.
"Yeah!" Harry nodded, jumping up and down in excitement. They turned around and headed deeper down the alley, making their way towards Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlor, Harry skipping along as he hung onto one of Sirius's hands. Sirius was glad it was still chilly enough out to be wearing hats and coats, glad for the fact that Harry's hat covered up his scar. There were still the sidelong glances at them though.
As they got closer to the ice cream place, Harry turned his head, his ears picking up a voice shouting something. The shouting got louder and he looked around, finally locating a person standing with a large sign on a stick above their head. They were next to a table and a couple of other people who were handing out fliers to people who hadn't managed to give them a wide berth already.
"Support werewolf reform! Show your love for your fellow wizard! Support werewolf reform! Decent jobs and no more discrimination!"
"Ah, now Harry, let's go see these people over here." Sirius smiled, leading Harry over to the shouting woman and the table.
"Hello there good sir, have a flier about Witches and Wizards for Werewolves, supporting the need for reformation of the laws pertaining to werewolves. They're not beasts, just humans with a…"
"Furry little problem." Sirius provided with a smile, taking the flier.
"Right. That's a good way of putting it." The lady smiled. She reached over to the table and picked up a couple of buttons, handing them to Sirius.
"Here mate." Sirius smiled, placing the button, which read 'Support Werewolf Reform, Help Not Hurt', upon Harry's hat, careful not to stick him with it. He pinned his own to the collar of his jacket and put a few Galleons in the donation tin on the table. He grabbed an extra button and they continued on their way.
"What does Werewolf Reform mean, Paddy?"
"It mean that there are people trying to help other people understand that werewolves should be treated just like everyone else. They want people to be nice to werewolves like Moony instead of being afraid of them."
"Well then I like Werewolf Reform."
"Me too, Prongslet, me too. And so would your mum and your dad. It's all about loving one another as we are, huh?"
The two men returned back to the house with their packages, quietly retreating to Harry's playroom to do some wrapping. Sirius hid Lexie's ring inside the secret compartment beneath the seat of Harry's pedal train.
Once they'd finished, Sirius helped Harry carry his gifts down stairs to the kitchen where Lexie was working on icing Remus's birthday cake.
"Where's he at anyway?" Sirius asked, giving her a kiss on the cheek and steal a bit of icing from the bowl with his finger. He didn't lick it, but rather, held it down to Harry's height for the little boy to steal.
"Mmmm, chocolate." Harry beamed and then went over to the table to restack the presents so they were arranged on top of one another by size. Then he rearranged them again so they sat along the table against the wall instead of a pile. There, that was even better.
"In his study I think. He went down to the library and checked out some books pertaining to laws about daycare requirements and such I think. He's been in there all morning. Harry, can you get Moony, it's time his party."
"Okay!" Harry jumped down from his chair and raced from the room, bouncing along to the door in the hallway that he knew went to Remus's special room. He pushed it open, knowing that he didn't have to knock. Moony had told him he was always welcome in the room, even if the door was closed. "Moony, it's time to have your birthday party!"
Remus jumped slightly, having been entranced by the book on his desk. He looked up at Harry and smiled, unable to help it. He was such a good little boy. "Is it really? Well then I suppose we had better get to the kitchen." He marked his page and closed the book, following Harry out of the study, through the hallway and living room and into the kitchen.
"Here we are then!" Lexie beamed, setting a place down at the head of the table where Remus usually sat anyway. "Rare steak and potatoes."
"Oh, my favorite." Remus smiled, sitting down as Harry bounced over to sit beside him, quite excited.
"Moony, are you gonna open your presents?"
"Let's have lunch and cake first."
"Okay." Harry nodded and picked up his fork to begin eating the already cut up bits of steak on his plate. They all ate, talking every now and then, laughing about something or other while Harry jabbered about the Quidditch game he and Sirius had listened to while they were wrapping gifts.
Once the cake had been consumed (chocolate upon chocolate with even more chocolate inside, and more chocolate outside), Harry reached his hands out and grabbed up the first present, handing it to Remus without waiting for the plates to be cleared. "I picked them all out." He announced.
"Then I'm sure they're perfect." Remus smiled. He opened them, one by one. "Oh wow, this is wonderful. I love it, thank you!" He beamed as he set each unwrapped gift aside. Harry wriggled in his chair, his eyes shining with absolute glee at making his Moony so very happy. "Harry these are wonderful presents, very useful. Thank you."
Remus smiled, hugging the little boy tightly and pulling him into his lap.
"I have one more." Harry stated proudly, digging into his pocket. He pulled out the last button Sirius had taken from the lady's table in Diagon Alley and held it up to Remus.
Moony took the button, eyes beginning to water and pinned it gently onto his shirt. "Harry, that, is the very best gift of all." And it was. Knowing that, without a doubt, this little boy accepted him as he was for who he was despite his being a werewolf. Even one more person being accepting made all the difference in the world, because it meant a higher possibility of more people coming around to the right way of thinking. "I think this is probably one of the best birthdays I've ever had."
I felt we were overdue for a little more Remus love. And since this story is calenderally accurate (betcha hadn't noticed that, didja?), why not a birthday chapter for him? Is is March 10th after all! However, the button idea is not of my own. I have that button and I love it greatly. If I could post a link to it, I would, but as I cannot, I will simply refer you all to do a websearch on it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter, it's a little choppy but I still think it came out pretty nicely and we're adding some flow for a couple of more plotlines, yay plotlines! Anyway, let me know what you thought if you'd like, I always truely appreciate all of your feedback.
Later gators, love always,