Title: Delicious Soul

Side-Pairings: Ron/Hermione, Neville/Draco, Severus/Lucius, Past-Sirius/Remus, Sirius/Fred/George, Seamus/Dean

Warnings: Slash, Abusive!Dursleys, Threesome, AU, OOC, M-Preg. (Abuse includes verbal, mental, physical, and object penetration. You have been warned.)

Rating: M for extreme explicit abuse and future sexual implications.

Disclaimer: I don't own. All belongs to J.K. Rowling. Some minor plot points may have been used in another story - I do not mean to steal anything. It is done subconsciously, and only when I read through it did I notice some things seemed slightly familiar.

Archives: Fanfiction

Chapter Posted: April 20th, 2014 (Happy Easter!)

A/N: Here if the fifth chapter! Hopefully you enjoy this. Thank you so much for the positive feedback! As for the review replies; I replied to every one I've received so far and I will continue to do so. Each is greatly appreciated. Replies varied, and if you have any questions or suggestions, go right ahead! I promise a lengthy explanation ^-^

Chapter Five: Breaking

Chapter Warnings: Slash, in-detail mentioning of previous abuse.

Harry woke to someone petting his hair and the soft sound of pages being turned. Sighing, he turned to nestle into the warmth that surrounded him, comforted by the steady heartbeat. The hand in his hair froze before sliding down to lightly stroke his cheek. In turn, Harry rubbed his cheek against his pillow, letting out a content sigh. The chest beneath him rumbled with silent laughter, which he pointedly ignored. Instead, Harry stretched as much as he could without being moved from his spot, opening his mouth in a yawn. Eyes lazily opening and deciding there wasn't anything important enough to wake him, he nuzzled back down into his mate's hold. The man protested by incessantly prodding his cheek with an elegant finger, attempting to wake Harry. Grumbling in irritation, Harry fought back by rolling on top of the man beneath him, draping his own body over the other's. He heard the air be pushed out of his pillow and smiled smugly, ignoring to man's silent laughter again. Tucking his head under the other's chin, he settled in to sleep, only to feel light fingers walking up his spine. He tried to ignore them at first, but they were constant, flitting over his back. Finally, Harry opened one green eye to glare at Remus Lupin in annoyance.

"Can I help you?" he grumbled, sleep coating his voice. His body was absolutely aching, protesting every movement. He was bruised in places he hadn't known could bruise and they were finally making themselves known, a throbbing pain settling throughout his body. With a groan, Harry dropped his head back to Remus's chest, clenching his eyes shut. He felt Remus place whatever book he was reading as of now beside him, and soon cool hands were on his forehead and chin, tilting his head back to look at Remus.

"Harry, are you alright? Do you need something?" Worry coated his voice. Harry leaned into the comforting hands, eyes flickering back open. He smiled uneasily.

"Yeah, I'm fine, don't worry… Everything's just a bit sore…" Harry said, trying to smile. Remus's eyes widened, recognition flooding into his eyes.

"The potion!" he exclaimed, hands moving to grasp Harry's hips. "We have a pain reliever potion for that, but I left it downstairs with the rest. You stay put and I'll be right back up with it." Remus spoke quickly as he carefully shifted Harry off of him. Harry winced, but Remus was meticulous; he was barely jostled. Lying on his back, Harry's eyes flickered up in surprise when Remus brushed a quick kiss to the top of his head before sliding off the bed. Remus's hair stuck out in all directions and Harry stifled a laugh as he hurried out of the room, glancing back once before disappearing out the door, shutting it gently behind him.

Harry settled back against the pillows and pulled the blanket up to his chin, ignoring the stinging pain throughout his abused muscles. He had grown used to discomfort over the years. He vaguely noticed this was the first time he'd been alone since the incident. He found he didn't mind it, though. No pain or emptiness over Remus being gone, no loneliness, no fear… Harry felt almost okay. But not, at the same time. He wouldn't be okay for a while. So much had happened and it hadn't even been 24 hours since he left the Dursleys'. He'd discovered he had a mate, for Merlin's sake! Normal teenagers didn't have werewolf life mates. Of course, Harry couldn't complain about it. Remus was… amazing. He wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for him. He felt… safe with Remus. Cared for. And he had never truly felt that before.

The door opened again to reveal Remus, smiling sheepishly and holding up a large vial of a brown, disgusting looking potion. Harry groaned. Of course he'd be required to take the grossest looking potion imaginable; just his luck. Remus laughed and strode over to the bed.

"Oh, come now, it's not that bad. You'll get used to the taste," he said, a playful smile teasing around his lips as he sat on the edge of the bed. Harry smiled as Remus reached out to run a hand through his unruly hair tenderly and he leaned into the touch. "Now sit up, lovely, you have to take this. It's mandatory to take one tablespoon every morning for at least two weeks and you can take an additional tablespoon whenever necessary. Which it will be. You're going to be in pain for the next couple of weeks and this will make it better, I promise," Remus said sternly. Harry rolled his eyes as he gingerly sat up, ignoring the aching. He could never take Remus seriously, no matter how hard he tried. Still, Harry found himself smiling cautiously at the man. It was nice to have someone taking care of him, though he reminded himself not to get used to it. Remus would leave eventually; no one could truly care about him for long.

Harry reached out and took the vial from Remus and started to measure out a tablespoon, making a face at the horrid smell. He didn't catch Remus's concerned frown. Watching the sluggish potion pour out, he groaned inwardly. 'There goes my appetite…' Harry mused.

When the tablespoon was full, he handed the vial off to Remus. Closing his eyes, he quickly downed the potion, nose scrunched up and hands clenched as he prepared himself for the rancid taste. Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. It wasn't good, but it wasn't horrible. It tasted like rotten peaches, but Snape had certainly made worse.

The effect was instant, thankfully. Harry could feel the ache start to fade almost immediately. He smiled gratefully at Remus, who set down the vial on the nightstand and slid over next to him, arms wrapping around him and pulling Harry against his warm chest.

"Better?" Remus asked, a hand brushing through Harry's unruly locks. Harry let out a happy sigh and leaned into his chest.

"Yes." A content rumble sounded from Remus and Harry let out a short laugh. He really was like an overgrown puppy, which Harry hadn't been expecting. Remus had never acted this close to his wolf form before. According the books Remus had given to him, it was normal, seeing as he'd just found his mate and all. It was just such a strange concept. Remus had been searching for him for twenty years now. He, Harry Potter, was important to someone. Not important like he was to Dumbledore, to the Wizarding World. That importance was born in a dangerous time, when everyone was looking for a miracle and found him, a child who got lucky. They branded him a savior and measured his worth by his use in fighting a war against a madman. The world was placed on his shoulders without training or instruction. People idolized him until he deviated from their perfect view, in which they turned and spat out poison. That was an importance he had never wanted and never would. But now, with Remus… Harry was important in an entirely different way. Important was the lesser adjective, in a way. He felt… precious to Remus. Apparently, he was now vital to his continued existence. But it was more than that. It wasn't just a physical need for survival. It was as if Harry's emotions were all he cared about now. As if it was Harry who was holding him to the Earth, who kept everything working for Remus. And Harry never felt that way before. And it was so startlingly sudden, Harry didn't know how he was supposed to react. The real question, though, was how long would it last.

A calloused hand covered his eyes and Harry jumped, jostled from thought. He let out a breathy laugh as Remus removed his hand to reveal his smiling face just inches from Harry's, eyes dancing with laughter.

"Peekaboo, what's got you thinking so hard? Don't strain yourself, your poor brain is surely not used to the activity," Remus jabbed, a playful glint in his eyes. Harry let out a laugh, letting his stress melt away. He lightly hit Remus in the back of the head, who gave him a mock wounded expression. "Why, Harry dear, I show concern and this is how you repay me? How cruel!"

"Oh, shut up, you git," Harry said, smiling. "It's nothing, anyway. Just thinking." Remus raised an eyebrow, staring Harry down. He tried not to flinch under the gaze, just smiling reassuringly.

"Well, whatever 'nothing' is, you shouldn't sit here and brood." His voice softened and he reached up, cupping Harry's cheek. Harry leaned into it and let out a relaxed sigh. He was glad Remus hadn't tried to push him for details; Harry liked his privacy and it had always bothered him when people tried to force him to reveal his thoughts. Remus lightly drummed his fingers against Harry's cheek, a pensive look on his face. "Dinner's not for a little while; we should do something while we wait." Harry nodded and sat up more, letting out a yawn and stretching one last time.

"I'm not really… up… for moving around, yet. Do you think… we could stay in here?" Harry's voice was soft and meek as he glanced up at Remus from under his eyelashes, teeth worrying his lower lip. Requests were hard for him; he wasn't supposed to want for anything. But with Remus, it was easier to try and be happy.

"Of course, Harry! You shouldn't move too much for the next couple of days, and I'd much rather stay in here with you for now," Remus said, gently swiping his thumb across Harry's lower lip to free it from his fretting teeth. Harry felt himself go crimson, a heavy blush heating his cheeks. Remus's hand seemed to hover there for a moment before moving away. "Let's just stay in bed for a while. We could look through the photo album I gave you, maybe? I haven't opened it since before James…" Remus trailed off, pain flashing through his eyes before disappearing. "I figured we could just start it, and Sirius can join in later."

Harry's eyes brightened and he smiled. "Yes, please! I don't need every detail right now, I just want to look through it and see them, y'know? I want to know what they were like." Excitement had his words tumbling out in a rush and he jerked forward, out of Remus's hold. On his hands and knees, he quickly crawled to the edge of the bed and grabbed the worn photo album from on top of the chest. Remus's arms had reached out after him, still not wanting to lose contact. Harry couldn't blame him; he found he was happiness in Remus's hold, at the moment. He quickly crawled back to his side, missing the slightly lustful look from Remus, who had watched him go. Harry plopped the book on their laps between them, nearly wiggling in excitement. He turned expectant eyes to Remus, who laughed and wrapped an arm around Harry's waist, the other opening the book.

"Might as well get started!"

"Mssrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs are proud to present their photo album. Precede with caution," was printed clearly in the center of the page. Comments were scribed every this way and that around it.

"Mssr. Prongs would advise you not to open without permission, as there's a reason the most dashing lads in Hogwarts spend most their time in detention."

"Mssr. Moony would like to point out that he does not partake in said detentions as he has the sense not to get caught. He would also like to second Mssr. Prong's warning."

"Mssr. Padfoot adds that that's only because Mssr. Moony is a boring git, thought quite good at protection charms so one should really not open this unless allowed."

"Mssr. Wormtail would like to point out that-" the end of the comment wasn't readable, blacked out by someone. Remus ran his finger over the line.

"Sirius did this," he whispered, "right after what happened in Godric's Hallow. When he went looking for Peter, he stopped by his home and found this there, as he'd had it last. He was so angry… He cast a curse to black out everything written by him in this album before leaving. We're lucky he didn't just burn the whole thing." Remus's voice was strained as he spoke, hand pressing against the page as if he could absorb the memories. "I wish he hadn't, though. Blacked them out, that is. Peter… was our friend, once. While it's easier to just pretend he was never a part of our life, to blacklist him, it tinges the memories. I'd rather just see him as our friend, a different person than who he became, than block him out entirely, as if he never existed." Remus's voice kept dropping, till it was barely more than a breath. His hand tightened around Harry, searching for comfort. Harry felt his heart break for Remus. While he had lost parents he barely knew, Remus had lost all of his best friends. It was worse to have known them and lost them than to have never known them at all, in a way. He lost Wormtail to his betrayal, Lily and James to Voldemort, and Sirius in a horrible twist of fate. He had been alone. Harry felt the tears building up again and he didn't fight them. Remus already had to live without a mate, something every werewolf longed for. If it was anything compared to the loneliness Harry felt when Remus left him alone, it would have been hell. He then had to live without friends. Without hope. He was led to believe Sirius was the traitor, that he killed all their friends in one foul swoop. Remus had had to live every day without anything to look forward to. He was a werewolf, ostracized by society, unable to hold a job to at least make his miserable life bearable.

Harry felt a tear slip down his cheek and suddenly Remus was there, holding him tightly to his chest, his face buried in his hair. Harry clutched back just as tight, feeling Remus's slight tremors. Everything was silent for a moment, just the sound of Remus's heavy breathing sounding through the room. Remus tightened his grip for just a moment before pulling back, peering at Harry's face. Letting out a tsk, he wiped the single tear away with his thumb, before leaning forward and briefly brushing his lips against Harry's forehead. Harry felt his breath catch for a moment.

"Lovely, don't worry about me. It's all in the past now and everything has fallen into place. Let's just… focus on the happier memories for now, alright?" Harry hesitated, before nodding. It was obvious Remus didn't want to talk further on the subject, and Harry wasn't one to push anyway. Besides, he was rather curious to see some photos…

"Good. Alright, now let's see if this enchantment still works on this one… It works much like the Marauder's Map. Simply place your wand on the front page," Remus drew his wand and tapped it lightly to the first page, "and say 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good'." In response, the book shook for a moment before a shower of maroon sparks came out, revealing new writing.

"Mssrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs would like to congratulate you on not being a fraud and therefore not having to face our wrath."

Remus smiled sheepishly as Harry let out a laugh. "Yeah, we weren't that creative with passwords… though, I have to say, our dramatic flair still seems perfectly suited," he said with a mischievous grin, eyes glinting happily. He was relaxed and alight with joy, transforming his face into something Harry couldn't take his eyes off of. He found himself doing that more often; staring at Remus in awe, unable to take his eyes away because he was simply so beautiful. Remus, unaware of Harry's scrutiny, turned the page.

There were four magical photos occupying the two pages, neatly aligned, unlike usual Marauder style. They must had carefully been put in by Remus and the comments added later. Harry's eyes were wide as he took in the photos.

The first one showed four young kids, definitely first years, gathered around the Christmas tree in the Gryffindor Common Room. It hadn't changed much, except there was a light flurry of snow, enchanted to fall upon the boys. On the far left was a mousy, awkward boy with blonde hair, amber eyes, and already a few scars marring his face. The young Remus was leaning in uncomfortably, seeming to shift away from the arm around his shoulder, as if not used to such contact. There was no denying his happiness, though; a huge grin lit up his childlike face, eyes bright and wide, seeming unable to contain himself. Harry smiled wistfully – Remus deserved to be carefree like that more often. Harry's eyes moved to the boy next to him. Sirius. His black hair was cut around his chin and his pale skin contrasted it. Grey, aristocratic eyes stared at the camera with such joy and mischievousness that Harry found himself smiling in return. Young Sirius had one arm wrapped around Remus's shoulder, tugging him closer, and another one ruffling the hair of the person next to him. Which led him to James. His father. His hair was just as wild as Harry's, if not more so, and they truly did look alike. All skin and bones, knobby knees and elbows, with large circular glasses perched on his face and hazel eyes looking through them, their only physical difference. He held himself in a relaxed, cocky way and had the constant look in his eyes that he knew something you didn't. In one hand he held a glass of Pumpkin Juice, which precariously sloshed as the picture moved. In the other was a golden snitch, which James would toss up in the air every now and then. Though his father wasn't a Seeker, Harry knew he could've been. He could tell from the scattered boxes around them that the snitch had come from the open practice Quidditch set by James's feet. Next to his father was Peter Pettigrew. He was short and a little round, curling in on himself but pressing as close to James as he could, eyes locked on the snitch. His face was filled with wonder as he watched it, smiling brightly. Harry tried not to dwell on him; despite the years that had passed, Harry still couldn't stand the sight of him. Such a young, innocent version, though… Harry simply wasn't ready to accept that the man that led to his parent's murder could actually be a real person or child, with real experiences and both good and evil inside him. All he could see was a monster, and changing that view would take time.

"The Marauder's first Christmas, 1971," was written neatly beneath the photo. Two lines were written off to the side surrounding it, obviously added at a later date.

"Mssr. Padfoot thinks Mssr. Moony would have been a lot happier if he had just told his friends his furry little secret before this."

"Mssr. Moony thinks Mssr. Padfoot should have minded his own business in the first place and adds that this was his best Christmas at Hogwarts."

Harry laughed lightly, tracing over the lines of writing with his finger. He was able to feel exactly where the quill had pressed into the paper, and there were even a few blotches of spilled ink surrounding the words. It made the whole thing seem a little more real.

"James never let go of that bloody snitch of his," Remus said with a laugh, "despite not being a Seeker. I always knew he would mess with it to impress Lily, but I never had proof until he finally put the damn thing away, a week after him and Lily started dating." Harry listened, smiling at each little detail. Everything, no matter how small, was a key to assembling the puzzle on who his parents were. It made them more human. "I hadn't told them about being a werewolf yet, but it was my best Christmas there. All the other years were shrouded by death, in a way, and we were never all together for a Christmas again. James's parents started taking him home for every holiday they could and Sirius eventually started going with him. I was at the Potters' for one Christmas, but I had my own family to see. James's parents would take in anyone in a heartbeat, no matter their past. They were lovely people. Voldemort's ascent to power began in my first year, though, and after that, nothing was the same." Remus's voice started trailing off at the end, a wistful smile on his face.

"I wish I could have met my grandparents," Harry said, feeling almost guilty. He hadn't thought about them since he was little, when he would spend days sitting in his closet and wish for some distant relative to come take him away from his own personal hell. They never came, but that didn't stop Harry from dreaming of sweet, classic grandparent figures to love him. "I don't even know their names," he confessed.

"Charlus and Dorea," Remus supplied, running a hand through Harry's hair in an attempt to comfort him. "Dory was actually a Black, surprisingly. I think she was Sirius's great aunt or something like that. All pure-blood families are intertwined somewhere," Remus chuckled at this. "Charlie and Dory, as they preferred to be called, were nothing like the Blacks. They remained neutral in the war and so they cared for everyone, no matter their side or beliefs." He seemed to hesitate for a moment, stumbling over his words. "They… were killed not even a month after we graduated Hogwarts. Death Eater attack, and not a random one, at that. Voldemort doesn't accept neutrality, especially from such an important family. James and Lily weren't even engaged yet… That's when James decided to join the Order. Sirius and I had joined already; Sirius wanted to destroy what his family fought so hard to obtain and I had a dream of werewolf rights. Of course, at the time, you couldn't be a neutral werewolf. Both sides were recruiting and I simply chose the less of two evils, I suppose. Not that the Order is evil," he said hastily, catching Harry's mildly shocked expression. "It was just more than an 18 year old, fresh out of school, wanted to take on, especially when forced to make a decision." Harry frowned at this; Remus never caught a break, it seemed. "Your grandparents would have adored you, Harry. They always wanted grandchildren, constantly asking Lily and James when they'd be married…" Remus smiled at the memory, basking in nostalgia.

"They sound like wonderful people, I just wish I could have met them. Any of them, any of my family besides… the Dursleys. They don't even seem real sometimes," Harry said, letting out a resigned sigh. As Remus opened his mouth to speak, Harry cut him off. "No, let's not do this now. Right now, I want to learn more about my parents and the Marauders." Remus gave him a concerned look before nodding and turning his focus back to the page, but not before giving Harry a tight squeeze.

Harry looked at the second picture and immediately grinned. This scene he recognized, having experienced something similar multiple times before. It was taken in the middle of the Quidditch pitch with the entire Gryffindor team. They had obviously just won a Quidditch match, the players covered in sweat and mud and there was a small glimpse of the sulking Slytherin team leaving the pitch. Surprisingly, the two faces he recognized of Sirius and his father were much older. Fourth year, if he had to guess. He glanced at Remus in confusion for a moment at the time jump.

"Remus, are the pictures in chronological order, or-?" Harry asked, being cut off by Remus's answer.

"The first two pages we decided to use as kind of a snapshot of our lives; just a collection of our four favorite photos from throughout the years. The rest of the album is chronological, don't worry," He explained.

Satisfied, Harry studied the photo. He didn't recognize any of the Quidditch players besides his father and godfather, though a few features seemed oddly familiar. Maybe he knew some of their children… It was weird to think about. James was hard not to miss in this photo. He was perched up on his team mates' shoulders, arms raised in the air in triumph, decked out in full Quidditch gear. His mouth was spread into a broad grin that would open to shout something every now and then and he was absolutely covered in mud. Harry himself grinned at the scene; it was achingly familiar and he could recall the joy James must have been feeling with ease. Sirius was there, being one of the members holding up James, supporting his left leg. It was hard to recognize him at first. Long dark hair was tied back out of his face and his skin had darkened to a light tan. Grey eyes sparkled and winked at the camera as he grinned like a madman, pumping his free fist in the air. Harry hadn't known he had been on the Quidditch team, but he wasn't surprised. He was surprised by how handsome his godfather had been. No wonder he implied he slept around at Hogwarts; he probably had had people flinging themselves at him left and right.

"Gryffindor wins the last Quidditch match against Slytherin, 1975," was written under this photo in the same neat script as before. Surrounding it was numerous comments, two of which had been blacked out.

"Mssr. Prongs would like to point out his dashingly good looks in this photo and add that today was obviously the day his Lily-flower fell for him."

"Mssr. Padfoot adds that he is particularly marvelous looking as well, but seeing as Evans later hexed Mssr. Prongs so he could only speak in Pig Latin and had the words 'sexist pig' painted over his entire body and wardrobe for a week, he doubts Mssr. Prongs's second assumption."

"Mssr. Moony would like to clarify that he did not teach Lily the spells to do so, merely hinted that there was a certain book on a certain shelf of a certain library and on a certain page she might find the solution for her problems with Mssr. Prongs and so he should get over it already."

"Mssr. Wormtail-"

"Mssr. Prongs is astonished that his best friends would conspire against him so and is deciding to get new friends as he's obviously not appreciated for his genius."

"Mssr. Moony isn't planning on apologizing as it is indeed Mssr. Prongs's fault for being arrogant and implying Lily couldn't beat him in a duel because she's a girl."

"Mssr. Padfoot remarks that if Mssr. Prongs isn't capable of getting new friends and would end up sitting with Snivellus if he didn't have the Marauders by his side so he better count his blessings."

"Mssr. Worm-"

"Mssr. Prongs despises all of you," was the final comment, abruptly ending the banter. Even with the missing pieces in the conversation, Harry found himself smiling gleefully at the words. Remus was laughing silently and Harry leaned into him, looking up at the man expectantly.

"Alright, so what's the story on this one?" he asked teasingly, though excitement lit up his eyes. Remus ran his hand over the photograph of the jubilant team before starting.

"In our fourth year, Gryffindor went undefeated throughout the Quidditch season. Slytherin almost did; they lost to us. It was, honestly, an epic game. Lasted about six hours, which is quite long for a school match. James, as you know, was a Chaser, and a mighty good one at that. He scored over half the points in the game, including the points catching the snitch got us. He ended up being the first one to spot the snitch, by accident, and told the Seeker, who caught it a few minutes later. Sirius was a beater. I was the one to take the photo, actually, and was the announcer. I started in my second year at Sirius and James's begging…" Remus smiled off into the distance, obviously caught up in the memory, amber eyes fogged over as they remembered. "The day before, James had told Lily she couldn't beat him in a fight because she was a girl and proceeded to ask her out again. After a few choice words from me, she found just the right hexes," he said with a proud smirk, "and, at the after party, she cast it. James couldn't speak clearly for a week and no spells could counteract the writing that covered him saying 'sexist pig'. Even McGonagall tried, though I don't think she tried too hard… he deserved it. Lily was the best in our year at Charms, anyway. Needless to say, James didn't talk to me for about two weeks, until the full moon." Here, Remus's smile started to fade. Harry waited for a further explanation, but it never came. He simply stared off into space as a cold silence settled over them. Harry was disturbed by it; seeing Remus like this had him chilled to the bone. He pressed back into the other's chest, trying to get a response from him. Despite the flexing of the hand around Harry's waist, there wasn't one. Frowning, Harry tried again. This time, he turned in Remus's hold, displacing the album as he went. He wrapped his arms around Remus's neck and pulled him into a tight hug, burying his face in the other's neck. Remus's eyes snapped to him and his arms immediately reacted, wrapping around Harry in response. He nuzzled into Harry's shoulder at the contact. Obviously, this was much harder for him than he let on. Harry should have expected that. Reliving memories after so long… that had to be difficult. It was prudent, though, that Remus look at them. If he never faced his memories, never focused on them, they'd just fester like an open wound. Even happy memories would hurt him as they were neglected, as he missed feeling like he did then. There was probably a reason he hadn't looked through the album, and Harry felt warmth flood through him as he realized that Remus felt brave enough to look through it with him. That was a great honor in itself.

Whispering to him, Harry let his lips brush against Remus's neck as he spoke, oddly enjoying the contact. "You don't have to talk about it yet, if you don't want to. If there's anything you don't want to say, that's fine. We'll get to it eventually. But you do have to start facing the memories now. Just take it in small steps at a time. Let's just finish this page, okay? Then we'll do something else that's a bit less… emotional," Harry said, feeling a shiver run through Remus's body as he spoke against the man's neck. He let out a breathy laugh at the reaction. Remus pulled back from the hug, pressing their foreheads together to look into Harry's eyes. Gratitude was flowing from them in waves.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to close off like that," he said before Harry could shush him. "Thank you, for understanding. I don't know what I'd do without you." Just like that, Harry found himself overwhelmed by Remus's words. Newly recognized mates they might be, but he knew Remus meant every word of it. It warmed Harry to his very core. He didn't have long to think on the matter, though. Remus shifted him around with his arms and placed the book back in their laps. This time he pulled Harry completely back into his chest and rested his head on Harry's shoulder, peering over him to view the next photo. Unbeknownst to Harry, he rapidly paled.

"Harry, maybe we should just stop now and do something else, there's no need to see these photos. Or we could just skip ahead?" he offered, almost frantically. Harry cast him a surprised look; this wasn't like Remus at all.

"I want to see these ones, to stay in order. Relax, we'll be done soon," he replied, rather baffled. Remus watched on with slight dread as Harry turned his attention to the photo.

"July 5th, 1977, Summer at the Potters'," was the caption this time. It would have been the summer before their seventh year, Harry mused. This time there were only three of them in the picture, splayed out in the grass with a large mansion in the background.

Obviously this was taken at his father's house, probably the Potter ancestral home. Harry knew about this one; he would have inherited it if it hadn't been burned to the ground by Death Eaters at one point after his parent's deaths. They had apparently lived there before moving to Godric's Hallow, which had only been their safe house. None of it was familiar to Harry, though. The house was large, easily three stories with multiple wings. Bigger than Grimmauld Place, definitely. The picture was taken from the back of the house and Harry could make out a rather large rose garden standing out against the sides of the white house. It was the people that captured his attention next. Originally, he was filled with excitement as he glanced over the three boys there, much older than they had been in the last photo. James was laying out on the grass, supporting himself up with his arms, a relaxed smile on his face. Next to him was Remus and Sirius. It was them who made Harry freeze. His entire being felt icy and breathing seemed harder. Harry was distantly aware of Remus tightening his grip and trying to speak to him, but he didn't hear the words.

The image was burned into his mind. Remus set next to a young, handsome Sirius, smiling up at the camera, an unhindered happiness shining in his eyes. His arms, though, were wrapped around Sirius, pulling the other boy into his chest. Sirius had laughed, eyes bright, before leaning up and pressing a kiss against Remus's cheek.

That was what killed him.

Judging from the picture, Remus and Sirius had obviously been in a relationship. How could he not have seen it? They had always been close, in a way they hadn't been with his father. That night in the Shrieking Shack, when Sirius proved his innocence… he had looked at Remus like he was his salvation. And this… this was before their seventh year. Before Remus turned 17. Before his inheritance. Harry had been his mate – not Sirius. It was his fault. They must have broken up; a werewolf couldn't date someone who wasn't their mate. Judging by how happy they looked… that must have killed them. And it was all Harry's fault. How could Remus not blame him? He could have had Sirius; gorgeous, funny, mischievous Sirius who was his best friend. And then he couldn't. Because Harry just had to come along, he just had to be born. Pain rushed through him, constricting his heart. And how could Sirius even stand him? He had stolen his boyfriend, for Merlin's sake! Harry started hyperventilating, trapped in his own thoughts, not feeling the worried hands cupping his face.

Remus knew as soon as he saw the photo that it would be an issue. He didn't expect something quite this bad, though.

Harry was unresponsive. That was the first thing he noticed. Then it was the elevated heart rate, yet ice cold freezing skin. Remus wrapped his arms around his little mate, trying to speak to him, trying to calm him. Next came the hyperventilating and his worry skyrocketed. Normally he'd be shocked by such a reaction, as having a previous relationship wasn't that rare. Harry wasn't a normal person though; he was his new mate, and thus already filled with insecurities about their budding relationship and quick to make jealous; it was just instinct. To make matters worse, he was already fragile as it was. Harry was a broken boy who grew up without love or confidence, making him think the worse of every situation. His self-confidence level was in the negatives. And while Remus was trying to help, he knew this would be a setback.

His own heart raced as he knocked the album to the side and pulled Harry into his lap, cradling him to his chest. It was no use. Harry's eyes were fogged over, tears streaking down his cheeks every now and then, breathing rapidly. The wolf was howling inside him at the pain he could see in his eyes, longing to do something to help. It wasn't that easy though. Remus could protect Harry from anyone who tried to hurt him, but when it was his own mind against him… there was nothing he could do but be here for him. He cupped Harry's cheeks, panic seizing him.

"Harry, come on, love! Just let me explain. It means nothing, it was 20 years ago! I promise, please! Harry, I need you to come back to me!" he pleaded, lightly shaking Harry. "Harry, how I felt about Sirius doesn't even compare to how I feel about you!" The change was slow, but noticeable. At that statement, the breathing started to slow and recognition sparked in his emerald eyes. Remus sighed in relief and started pressing kisses to the top of Harry's head, whispering calming words as he came down from his panic attack. Those would be common for a while, sadly. It made him furious, deep inside, but he didn't let it show. The Dursleys would pay for their crimes eventually. Right now, his panicked mate deserved his full attention.

Harry sniffled and Remus felt his heart break a little at the pitiful sound. "I-I'm sorry, Remus, I didn't know about you and S-Sirius. I promise I didn't mean to-" Remus cut him off there, not able to hear the rest. Harry had nothing to apologize for and he needed to know that.

"Hush, Harry, love. You have nothing to be sorry for. Sirius and I… we were a thing for a while, about eight months. I did love him," Remus admitted. He felt Harry stiffen in his arms and quickly continued, "but not nearly as much as you. Sirius and I knew the repercussions when going into it; we knew we only had until my birthday to be together. In fact, we broke up the month before hand in order to come to terms with it. We never expected to be together forever; I could never spend an eternity with him. While we got along very well, it could never even compare to my relationship with you. I'm over it. He's over it. Neither of us could ever resent you, Harry. Sirius was angry at the idea of a mate for a short while, but never at the actual person. I'm sure he'll be rather angry with me when he finds out you're my mate, but not because of our past relationship. He loves his two rambunctious lovers more than anything and he wouldn't trade them for the world. He'll probably accuse me of being a cradle robber and yell at me for daring to even think about his godson romantically. That's just him protecting you though, love; he loves you, very much." Harry barely moved during his explanation, just sniffling into Remus's chest. He felt hands clutching at his shirt the entire time and longed to fix Harry's hurt. He almost seemed to be in shock, though.

"Promise?" Harry finally whispered after a long beat of silent. Remus's heart soared; that was a very good sign.

"With everything I have, I promise, Harry," Remus said hurriedly, doing whatever he could to reassure Harry. He felt him nod against his chest, and let him pull back. Green eyes gazed up to him, turmoil lurking in the depths, rounded with red and still wet with tears. Beautiful. If only Harry could see just how stunning he really was, to see what Remus saw… His heart ached at the pain he saw there, though. It would take a long while for Harry to believe in Remus and have self-confidence. So very different from his arrogant father…

"I'm sorry I freaked out," he mumbled, ducking his head. Remus sighed in exasperation and carefully tilted Harry's head up to face him. Eventually he'd be okay, but the road to that was certainly trying.

"Don't be sorry, lovely, I'm just glad we cleared that up," Remus said, pressing a kiss to Harry's forehead. In the back of his mind, he mused how long it would take for Harry to actually kiss him. Of course, he didn't mind the wait. He'd wait forever for Harry.

Suddenly an idea struck. He could simply show Harry how important he was to Remus, how much he had longed for him. Sure, it would be a tad embarrassing, but for Harry… He'd see it all eventually anyway.

"I want to show you something, Harry," he finally said. Harry stared up at him in confusion before nodding. Carefully, Remus stood from the bed, taking Harry's hand in his. He led him to the end of the bed and sat them down in front of the ornate chest he had kept for ages. He blushed just looking at it. While most of it had been filled during the three years after his inheritance, he still found himself adding things to it when the urge hit. Just last week he had purchased an expensive travelling cloak, way out of his budget, and added it to the chest, purely because of how soft and warm it was. His mate deserved the best and he had never stopped to think about the price before. He simply saved up until he could get whatever he was drawn to for his precious mate, even when he doubted he would ever find him.

"I figured if you don't believe me when I say how important you are to me, I might as well show you," Remus said sheepishly, ducking his head to hide his blush. Harry ducked against his chest so he was staring up into Remus's eyes, smiling radiantly.

"While I'd like to see what's inside, you don't have to show me, I do believe yo-"

"No, you don't," Remus interrupted, rolling his eyes with a teasing smile. Pulling Harry close to him, he quickly inhaled his scent to keep calm. "Let's get this over with…" he mumbled, ignoring Harry's laugh as he reached to open the chest.

Remus watched Harry's eyes widen at the sheer amount of things. It had been rifled through that morning by Remus, but the travelling cloak was still on top, along with stacks of books and fabrics and boxes and all the shiny things Remus could find. Harry looked up to him, excitement shining in his eyes.

"Go ahead," Remus said with a laugh, motioning toward the stacks. Harry pulled away from him cautiously, as if unsure of his movement. He looked at the things like they weren't actually his, and Remus almost scoffed. As soon as Harry touched them, he'd know; they were all meant for him. He was right. He could see it on Harry's face as he stroked the cloak, wonder in his eyes. He knew, consciously, that Harry would like them. They were all meant for him; of course he would. But deep down, instinctively, his desire to please him was so strong he found himself gripped by worry and doubt.

Remus needn't worry, though. Harry rifled through the things, taking out a few and looking at them in reverence. Remus could tell just from his eyes that Harry loved it all. He knew from the moment Harry picked up to traveling cloak and rubbed the soft fabric against his cheek, eyes closing in pleasure at the touch. Remus felt breathless; he'd never become accustomed to Harry's beauty. Every now and then he'd glance over at Remus, eyes either wide with doubt or curiosity. Remus would rub his hand soothingly in circles on Harry's back and give a brief description of the item. A leather collar with 'Moony' engraved on it had him particularly embarrassed, but Harry merely smiled when Remus explained he wanted Harry to know he belonged to him as much as Harry belonged to Remus. He did laugh at the matching collar, though, this one much smaller and more delicate with 'Moony's person' engraved in it. There were quite a few fabrics. Blankets he thought were soft or warm, patches of fabric, satin squares cut from samples; anything that Harry might enjoy the feel of. There were pillows, a variety of clothes, all spelled to fit any size. A roll of crimson ribbon had Harry laughing again and he pulled out some, jokingly wrapping it around his unruly hair and posing. He had lightened considerably since the photo fiasco. There were a few extravagantly designed jewelry boxes, which were filled to the rim with sparkling and shining jewelry. Remus tried to ignore Harry's baffled expression, as it was now becoming obvious he had spent a small fortune, over half his earnings, on the contents of this chest. There was also a wizarding camera and an empty photo album, which Remus explained was for documenting their life together, along with a few journals Harry could fill. Not to mention the books; tons and tons of books on absolutely every subject, which had Remus blushing again.

The next thing that froze him was when Harry curiously picked up a black satin ring box. Without thinking, Remus reached over and plucked it from his hands, causing Harry to turn and look at him, shocked. Blushing, Remus light caressed the box.

"What's in it?" Harry asked curiously, tilting his head slightly. Remus bit his lip nervously.

"It doesn't matter, they're not important at the moment," Remus mustered hastily. Harry just raised an eyebrow, staring at him incredulously. "Well, it's important, just, umm," Remus stumbled over his words and kept his eyes locked on the box.

"You don't have to tell me," Harry supplied quietly. Remus's head snapped up and he sighed at Harry's put out expression.

"Yes, I do," he sighed. "They're… bonding rings. That is, if you ever decide to bond with me," Remus said quickly, watching Harry's expression carefully. His face was frozen in shock, eyes wide. Not good. "In the future. Far future. I just… didn't want to show you until then. I want that moment to be special. I got the rings as soon as I could afford them after my inheritance hit; I think they were the first things I got for you." He struggled to push down his blush. It was Harry's expression that scared him, though. Something was brewing behind his eyes.

"You… you did so much for me, without even knowing who I was. You waited so long and just… Why? Why would you do so much for me? A freak!" Remus's eyes widened as he could almost feel the snap within Harry. Placing the box down he jerked forward to catch Harry as he crumbled to the ground, sobs starting to wrack Harry's thin frame. They knew this would happen; he'd have to break eventually, he couldn't keep it locked up forever. Remus just held him, trying to calm him down.

"Nobody has ever loved me and no one ever will! I've always been a freak! Not normal, not natural, not important, not precious, just worthless. The only thing I'll ever be good for is cooking and cleaning and doing what people want. I have to make up for myself somehow," Harry sobbed out. Remus looked on helplessly, anger growing within him. He wanted to interrupt but he knew Harry had to let it all out first. "My whole life I've been waiting for someone to care, some to want me! Everyone left though. Everyone leaves, in the end. How could anyone care for someone as dirty as me? I should have died with my parents!" Remus's heart broke for his mate and he held him tighter, eyes glowing nearly gold in anger and sadness. "And you! You saved me, rescued me from that rotten place, and all you got in return was some broken whore. He-he… my uncle… he touched me. He-he did things. He… r-raped me! I'm dirty and I'll never be clean again! How could someone like you ever want someone as worthless as me? I'm nothing," Harry choked, curling in on himself, tears flowing down his face. Remus's heart froze. What did someone say to that? How could he help? He couldn't deny it; Harry needed serious medical help. He'd reassure him as much as he could, but problems that flowed this deep… He needed a therapist or someone similar. He had been beaten down, abused, neglected, and violated, and he showed it. Remus wasn't enough to fix this. He'd wait to suggest it, but eventually Harry would need someone to help him, someone other than his mate. He'd just think Remus was biased eventually. Right now, though, Harry's cries were slowly lessening and he needed Remus's help. Steeling himself, Remus tried to comfort him, keeping his voice as low and calming as possible.

"You're not a freak. You're not worthless. You're not a whore. You're my Harry. You're absolutely precious. You've… been through more than people twice your age have gone through. You've lost more than you should in a lifetime and you never deserved what happened at that rotten place. Your presence on this Earth makes it a better place; you are priceless and unique and beautiful and you'll do so much with your life. You're special like that. You care about people no matter what. You are you. Not what people tell you you are, not what you want to believe you are, and not what people expect you to be. Nothing can change that you are Harry, just Harry, and that's all I'll ever expect you to be. I care about you with all your flaws because everyone has them, love," Harry was staring up at him, pink lips parted in shock, eyes wide and shining with tears. Now came the hardest part. Remus breathed deeply, bracing himself. His voice shook with barely concealed anger. "And I will destroy your uncle for what he did to you. You didn't deserve that in any way imaginable. He was cruel and delusional. What happened to you doesn't make you dirty or worthless or a whore. It was horrible, but you've survived it, and you will continue to. And so I've gained you as my mate. Someone beautiful who I wouldn't trade for the world," Remus said, sincerity present in every word. Suddenly Harry was throwing his arms around his neck, sobbing once again. Remus held him, aching from the pain Harry was feeling, but he knew that at least now he was on the road to recovery.

It took a while, but eventually Harry's crying started to subside to just small sniffles. Remus had sat and petted his hair, holding him while he cried. When Harry looked up at him with puffy eyes and flushed cheeks, he simply smiled and wiped away a few lingering tears.

"There we go, lovely. Letting it out is good for you," Remus whispered, giving him a tight hug again. Feeling Harry relax against him, he let him rest there a moment before standing them up, still holding onto Harry. "I think… I think you should tell your godfather what happened. You need someone to be here for you, other than me. You need someone to play the role of the parent and I, thankfully, am not close to that." Instead of exploding like expected, Harry started up at him with frightened eyes before nodding.

"I know," Harry whispered, voice croaky from crying. Remus blinked in shock before smiling and leaning down to kiss the tip of Harry's nose.

"I think we should go talk to him now. You need to let it all out, so it's best to at least start now, before you lose your nerve. I promise he'll love you no matter what, Harry. I'll be with you the entire time if you want me to be," Harry was uncertain, hesitating in his movements, before finally nodding up to Remus.

"Just stay with me, please," he murmured. Remus stroked his cheek once more before taking his hand and leading him toward the door.

"Of course," he said as he started to open the door. With the door opened almost half way, he froze for a second, staring at Harry who looked back at him in mild confusion. Smiling, he pulled Harry toward him abruptly, hugging him close. He breathed deeply, inhaling the wonderful scent of his mate, and smiled and Harry curled into him. Pulling back, he dropped his head to press a kiss against Harry's cheek, lips lightly touching the soft skin. They lingered for a moment before he pulled back and leaned his forehead against Harry's, smiling at the happiness he found in Harry's face.

"I'm so proud of yo-" The clearing of a throat interrupted Remus and his eyes widened in shock. He whipped around, instinctively covering Harry's body with his own, eyes darting toward the threat.

Sirius Black stood there, arms crossed as he glared at his best friend, anger radiating from him.

"And what, exactly, do you think you're doing with my godson?"

Words in Chapter: 8,999 – do NOT expect chapters to be this long again, please. It will probably happen now and then, but this was a rare occurrence. They'll usually be a minimum of 5,000 words from now on though.

Words total: 9,282

Story Stats: (Note – I put these here as a thank you to everyone who helped me achieve these, not for any other reason.) Since the last chapter, this story has gone to 33,205 views, 511 alerts, 343 favorites, 12 communities, and 139 reviews! Thanks to everyone so much!

Updates will be delayed until after June 6th, most likely, as school is getting extremely busy. I'll work on the next chapter whenever possible, though.

Thank you! Review please!