"I won't stand for this, Albus. I will not leave this office without your promise." Remus pressed his palms to the oak of Dumbledore's desk, his face clouded in anger that was so unlike him. It had been less than twenty four hours since James and Lily's bodies had been recovered from Godric's Hallow. Less than twenty four hours since Sirius had been arrested. Less than twenty four hours since Harry had become an orphan. Remus wasn't going to waste a moment. "I'm not leaving until you assure me I will have custody of Harry."
Dumbledore put his hands together for a moment, seeming to think. Harry lay asleep just feet away, in a muggle car seat Lily had bought so she could take him on the Knight Bus with her and he could sleep anywhere in the house next to her as she cleaned. Albus studied the baby for a moment, noting how his scar was closing over now, but looked fresh and bright as if he had been cut just moments before. Harry had screamed for hours until Remus had given him a bottle with the smallest amount of dreamless sleep potion. He was out like a light now."You know I can't do that, Remus."
"Why not?" Remus hissed desperately, hitting the desk now with the palm of his hand. "Is it because I'm a werewolf? Albus, you know I'd never put Harry in any sort of danger. He'll be perfectly safe with me. Far safer and far happier then he'd ever be with Petunia Evans. She hates magic."
"You don't know that for sure, Remus. She's married now, she has a son of her own. Harry is her family, and I'm sure she's feeling sentimental right now. She'll take good care of Harry." Dumbledore looked up then to Remus, lowering his hands. "Harry does not need to grow up in the Wizarding World with all of this publicity. He should have a normal childhood, away from these responsibilities until he goes to Hogwarts."
Remus shook his head violently. "No! Albus, you aren't understanding me. S-" He stopped then for a moment, Sirius's name dying and choking at his lips. He had yet to process everything, how one of his best friends had been responsible for the death of the rest. "I can't go home without him. I can't go home knowing he's with her and not me. Please, Albus. Please…I'm all he has left and hes…" Remus swallowed tightly then, putting a hand to his throat. "He's all I have. Please."
Dumbledore was very quiet then, looking over at Harry again and seeming to study him for what felt like forever to Remus. Finally, he slowly stood and looked at Remus over his half moon spectacles. "Fine." He whispered, gesturing to the baby, now slowly waking up. "Take him home. I'll have the ministry draw up the papers in the morning and send them to you. You'll be his official guardian in a few days. I hope you know what you're getting into, Remus."
Moving to Harry, who was yawning and blinking up at the unfamiliar place, he kneeled down. Though he saw Remus, Harry felt the pain in his scar and remembered the absolute fear from seeing Lily fall and being taken away from Sirius. As he began to cry, Remus scooped him up into his arms, pressing the baby boy close to his chest. Harry closed his eyes, his crying beginning to cease as he rubbed his cheek into the soft wool of Remus's sweater. His thumb came up and went into his mouth and he contently lay there, clutching onto his new guardian.
"I'm absolutely positive I know exactly what I'm doing, Albus." Remus whispered then as he watched Harry. The boy opened his eyes then and green looked curiously into blue. He removed his thumb then and gave Remus a tearful smile, hiccupping. "Moo-ey." Harry whispered and Remus felt the lump finally rise so high in his throat that it pushed tears out of his own eyes.
Because of this little boy, eventually, he would be fine.
When they got back to Remus's small cottage, he wasted no time in getting Harry ready for bed. It was night again by that time, a full twenty four hours since Halloween, but it felt like four minutes. Harry lay still as Remus changed him into his favorite pajamas, the ones with the stags, dogs, and wolves on them that Lily had made for his birthday. Remus's hands shook as he buttoned it up and lifted Harry into his small crib. His nursery had been there since Harry was born, as Remus liked to have him stay. Whenever Sirius was babysitting him, he would come stay with Remus, and they would watch him together. Remus closed his eyes against the memories before tucking Harry into his blankets. He leaned down then, kissing the boy softly on the forehead, careful of his scar.
Once Harry was asleep, Remus moved and collapsed into the rocking chair in the corner. For a long while, he sat there, staring straight ahead, his entire body shaking in silent, unmoving grief that had yet to hit his mind. It was coming quickly, however, he could feel it piercing his heart and filling his lungs. He lowered his head then, his eyes closing against the pain that washed over him like a tide. "Why?" He breathed out, tears finally coming in a rush.
He let out a sob, which he quickly stifled with the back of his hand, pressing his other one to his knee to brace himself. "Oh, Sirius, why?" He breathed out, pressing his forehead now to his open palms. Breathing was becoming difficult, so he attempted to take in long, shuddering gasps, as if he was suffocating or drowning. Standing now, he moved from Harry's room into his own.
Nearly collapsing to the floor, he pressed his back against the end of the bed and pulled his knees up to his chest. "Oh Merlin, why?" He came out in a moan as he pressed his face to his knees, his shoulders shaking with the pent up grief. It was hard to accept and process that everything he truly loved had been taken away from him. Harry was all he had left and it killed him to think of the boy as an orphan. He knew that, no matter what, he'd have to make sure Harry never felt unloved a day in his life.
- ~ -
It wasn't long before a routine had set in for Remus. One that he could often numbly move through. Harry was such a hand full in the first few years of his life that the man didn't have much time to feel sorry for himself or to grieve over what he had lost. Every day, Harry would learn something new, say something different, or discover another part of the world. Remus couldn't do much else other than watch his every move.
There were obstacles to overcome on a daily basis, of course. Remus knew that his lycanthropy would be a regular problem, but he had managed to make that work as well. Each month, Harry would go Hogwarts for the duration of Remus's transformations, including the day before and two days after. At first, as a baby, Harry would scream and fight, clinging onto Remus for dear life. But, soon enough, after about a year of regular routine, he seemed to look forward to it. He didn't like how tired Remus was before and after, or how much pain he seemed to go through, but he enjoyed Hogwarts. Usually, he would spend the time with Albus, wondering the school and exploring all the ins and outs. And if Albus was busy, as he usually was during the school year, Hagrid would take care of him. Remus was immensely thankful for all the friends he had there, and soon, it became easier and easier to leave Harry there. By the time Harry went to Hogwarts for school, it was already a second home to him.
What wasn't easy about the full moons, however, was doing it alone. For nearly ten years, he had gotten used to having Sirius, Peter and James with him during the his transformations. But now, those nights were spent alone. This was before Wolfsbane, before the pain was manageable. These nights, especially the first year, were the worst Remus ever remembered experiencing.
But even with these setbacks, Remus did his best to raise Harry as he thought Lily and James would like him to be raised, as well as how his own father had raised him. Before he knew it, Harry was walking. He was saying complete sentences, and he was curious about nearly everything around him. With these developments, the inevitable questions came.
"Remus?" Harry's soft, trembling voice came from the door of his office and Remus turned around, giving the young boy a concerned look. He was six then, and had just recently gotten his glasses. Remus couldn't help but think how adorable he was with his messed black hair and the glasses that were too big for his little face. Right now he was fidgeting with his hands, his lip trembling with pent up tears. "I had a bad dream."
Remus patted his leg and Harry walked over, climbing up to sit on his lap. Harry leaned his head against his shoulder then as Remus rapped his arms around him. "What was it about, Cub?" He asked, his voice soothing Harry's heart rate down from it's frantic beat. Remus rubbed his back gently, looking down at him. "You can tell me, Harry. What scared you so badly?"
Harry was staring down at his lap, playing with a little golden snitch on the knee of his pajama pants. They were green, with little enchanted snitches that flew around the fabric. "It was dark. And I could hear screams. Of a lady…she was screaming my name. And then there were flashes of green light. Then I woke up." He looked up at Remus then, clutching the arm that was around him tightly with his little hands.
Remus was quiet for a moment, trying to keep the sadness out of his eyes so he wouldn't worry Harry. "Have you had this nightmare before?" Harry had asked of his parents before, but only in innocent ways. What they liked to do, had they been like him…simple things. But now, he was verging on asking about their death, and Remus wasn't so sure he was ready for that.
Harry nodded slowly to answer Remus's question, pressing his cheek into the soft fabric of his guardian's sweater. It always calmed him and made him feel safe, to sit like this in Remus's lap. It was as if nothing in the world could harm him as long as Remus had a tight hold of him. "Yes, but they're always different." His young voice shook with hesitancy. "Sometimes, I can see her face. Mummy. She's always so scared. She reaches for me and screams, but it always ends in green light." He peared up at Remus then, who was staring straight ahead. "Why? Why was Mummy so scared?"
Remus swallowed then, putting a hand to his face. It took him a moment to contain his emotions and gather the courage to look at Harry again. "You remember when I told you about how your Mum and Dad died? About how they tried to save you, how brave they were? An evil man was after them and they were betrayed." Remus's voice caught on the last word. "Your Mum sacrificed her life so you could live and be the happy, wonderful boy you are. It's the best gift she could give to you. She was scared for you, Harry, but she isn't scared anymore."
The little boy was quiet then as he looked away from Remus and closed his eyes against his guardian's sweater. "She's in heaven?" He whispered quietly. He liked to here from Remus how his parents were in heaven. How happy they were to see him alive and healthy, down on the ground. "Do you think she's sad because I couldn't come too?"
Remus felt tears come to his eyes then, and he let them go, knowing it was better than holding the emotions deep inside. "No, Cub, no." He breathed out shakily. "She's happy you're here, that you're okay. She wants you to be happy, that's why she did what she did. She loves you, Harry. So does your father. They love you enough to give you a chance at a happy life."
Harry was quiet then for a moment before opening his eyes and peering up at Remus again. "Do you love me, Remus?"
"Oh, Cub." Remus whispered, a smile spreading over his face as he smoothed his hand over the boy's hair and kissed the top of his head. "More than you'll ever know."
- ~ -
It wasn't until many years later that it became easy to forget the past. Remus was so wrapped up in Harry's life that days would go by when he never thought of James or Lily. But it was growing harder not to think about Sirius, not with recent events. Sirius had recently escaped from Azkaban, and if that wasn't terrifying enough, he was rumored to be after Harry. Remus could not process this. How could the man who had held that little boy in his arms thirteen years before and sworn to always protect him, be after his life? But Remus supposed he didn't understand a lot about Sirius anymore.
In a few weeks, Harry would be off to his third year at Hogwarts. Usually, this would be a cause of pride and celebration for Remus, but he wasn't sure Harry was safe there anymore. The last two years had been a series of horrible events that had led Harry to the hospital wing more times than Remus would like to count. And now, with Sirius on the run, Remus wasn't so sure Harry should be so far away from home.
This was why, when Dumbledore offered him the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, he was ready to accept with no hesitation. It wasn't as if he needed the money. James and Lily's inheritance was enough for he and Harry to live on for the rest of their lives, as well as any family Harry might have, but this was different. Now, he could come with Harry to Hogwarts and keep an eye out for him. Also, he could keep an eye out for Sirius. There was no doubt in his mind that Sirius would find a way in using their passage ways, and he would be sure to monitor that as well as his animagus.
His thoughts were interrupted as Harry came into the kitchen, the Daily Prophet in his hands. Remus gave him a smile and a greeting before moving to finish cooking him breakfast. French toast, eggs, and sausage were on the menu today and as he began serving them both, he eyed the folded up Prophet warily. "Did you sleep well?" He sat down across from Harry, handing him a fork before he dug into his food himself.
"Mhmm." Harry said through a mouthful of French toast, his absolute favorite. After a swallow of pumpkin juice, he unfolded the prophet and slid it across the table so that Remus could get a better look. "Did you see this, Remus? This man, Sirius Black. Is that the same…" He trailed off, looking apprehensive. When he had seen the picture, he instantly recognized the man from pictures Remus had shared with him. Remus told him about Sirius, how he was his godfather, how he had loved him when he was a baby. He tried to shield him from most of the truth. Some of it, Remus wasn't even ready to say out loud after all of these years. "Is this the same man who's my godfather?"
Remus put down his fork then and felt a sense of dread rise in him. The same sense of dread when he had found out Harry had faced Voldemort at eleven years old and barely made it out alive. The same sense of dread he felt when Dumbledore informed him Harry had disappeared into the Chamber of Secrets and had defeated a basilisk. This was also the kind of dread he had kept in the pit of his stomach since Harry started asking questions. But he couldn't lie to him. Not about anything. Even when the ignorance would have given him more time to be innocent. "Yes, Harry. He's your godfather. He's escaped from Azkaban."
There was an unsettling silence then as Harry seemed to process this, chewing his eggs slowly. Confusion clouded his features as he turned his eyes to Remus's. "I…I don't understand. What was he doing in Azkaban? Why didn't you tell me this before?" Because of Remus's earlier hesitance to talk about Sirius, Harry had assumed he was dead like his parents. However, It seemed as though Remus had been lying to him for years. "What else aren't you telling me, Remus? What did he do?"
Remus knew there was no use in lying to him. He had done it enough. Harry would eventually find out from someone else, and that would be much worse. "I'll tell you, Harry, but you have to promise me that you'll…listen to me, okay? No matter what, you can't let this year become like last year and the year before. You need to come to me before you run off and do horribly dangerous things. Especially now that I'm going to be at Hogwarts with you. Do you promise?"
When Harry nodded hesitantly, Remus rubbed the back of his neck. "Sirius Black was your godfather. Well, I suppose he still is, but those are only words to me now. He was in Azkaban because he killed a friend of mine and of your parents and he killed thirteen other muggles. At least…that's what he was charged for." Remus swallowed then, tightly. "And I think you need to hear from me and not from the press or anyone at Hogwarts…that he was also blamed for your parent's death. He was their Secret Keeper. You remember what I told you about Secret Keepers?"
"They are the only ones who know the location of a certain residence. Dumbledore is our Secret Keeper." Harry's voice came out in a quiet, surprised whisper. He was staring down at his lap, his fists clenched tightly at his knees. "Why? Why would he do that…what is he doing out now? I don't understand…" Tears pricked Harry's eyes then. His godfather…Remus had shown him pictures of him before. Had told him that the man was his godfather, but Harry had passed him off, assuming him to be dead. And now. Now he was a murderer? Responsible for his parents death? It was all too much.
"Harry, please..." Remus put a hand on his arm then, squeezing it gently. He wished he hadn't had to tell him this. That he could keep in the dark, let him continue to have a normal childhood like he had before Hogwarts, but he deserved to hear it from someone he trusted and not from the Daily Prophet. "I don't want you to be angry or feel like you can help this. The last thing we need this year is for you to run off and get yourself into this entire mess. Sirius is dangerous, he's proven this. And there's a possibility...that he could want to hurt you. Promise me you'll be careful."
Harry didn't say a word, still staring at his lap. All he could think of was finding this man, getting some kind of revenge for his parents. How could their best friend and the person they had trusted to be his godfather betray them? Harry had never thought about a direct cause other than Voldemort for his parent's death. And just knowing he had someone to blame, someone he could reach, put a fire of vengeance in him he couldn't ignore. He wanted Sirius Black to pay for what he took away from him.
"Harry, answer me." Remus hissed, concern coming into his eyes as he watched Harry battle through the thoughts in his head. "You heard what I said before, didn't you? Do not put yourself into trouble because you think Sirius deserves it. You don't know what he's capable of. Hell, I don't even know what he's capable of. I don't know him at any more." The last words were said in a quiet, defeated whisper. "Promise me you'll at least come to me when you feel you're going to do something rash."
Harry paused from his own thoughts, looking up at Remus. When he saw that hurt, concerned look there in his guardian's eyes, he nodded slowly. A sigh escaped him then, knowing he could never really turn down Remus. He respected and loved him too much to disobey him directly, and knew that he would have to be careful this year if he wanted to come back to Hogwarts for his fourth year.
- ~ -
When the school year started and was underway, it was easier for Remus to trust that Harry would be okay. He was right under his nose at all times and everything about the castle felt safe. It was easy to fall into the routine of his classes, and of helping Harry with the problems of the dementors.
When he had heard of the cloaked figures being on the grounds, he had been completely furious with Dumbledore. Harry had always had problems with dark creatures like boggarts and dementors were just something else to fuel the nightmares the boy had had for years. However, the headmaster had explained the security it presented and though he didn't care for their placement himself, the ministry had insisted.
Remus wasn't sure what he hated more. The idea that the dementors were giving Harry constant frights and nightmares, or the fact that if they caught who they were after, Sirius would finally be really gone. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. Honestly, he was surprised he felt anything for the man as it was. He supposed you didn't stop caring about the well being of someone overnight, no matter what the circumstances. At least Remus couldn't.
He was particularly relieved when Harry had come to him with the Marauder's Map. After receiving it from Fred and George, Harry found no real use for it. He already had the invisibility cloak to sneak around the grounds and as Remus had signed his forms to go to Hogsmeade (with Remus present, of course), he saw no reason to sneak around there. He told Remus that he had recognized the names from the stories Remus had told him and knew it was something Sirius could have used against them. Remus had never prouder of Harry, or more confident in how he had raised him.
Though the map seemed to make Remus paranoid. Whenever he was alone, he seemed to always end up spreading it across his desk, watching for Sirius. He had already appeared a few times before Harry had turned over the map, but he hadn't appeared again since then. Remus often wondered if he knew. Knew that Remus was looking for him. But of course, he couldn't have.
What worried him the most was the question of who Sirius was really after. Could he truly be out to kill Harry? It was easier...well, maybe that wasn't the right word...but it made more sense after twelve years to reason that Sirius had lost his mind and had been brainwashed by Voldemort, seduced by power. Enough to betray his friends. But Remus had a hard time believing it was possible that Sirius would ever kill Harry directly, with his own hand and wand. He had loved that boy like his own son from day one. How could he suddenly stop? Suddenly want him dead?
Betraying your friends was one thing, but killing someone you saw as your son was entirely another. He had to be after something else. Remus almost hoped he was after him...anyone but Harry. The boy had become just as much, if not more, of a son to him then he had been to James or Lily or Sirius, as hard as it was to say it. Remus knew it sounded horrible, but it was the honest truth. He had been there for the times he was sick, for the nightmares, for his first Qudditch game. He had sat in Dumbledore's office many nights, year after year, waiting to see if Harry would live through yet another adventure of his. He couldn't loose him now. He would stand in front of Sirius's wand if he had to. He would kill him if he had to. And that terrified him.
Tonight, he had the map spread across his desk as always, and as he paused from his thoughts to look over at it, something caught his eye. Slowly, he walked over and pressed his finger to Harry's name. "What is he doing out of bed?" He whispered underneath his breath, frustration growing. Though, as his eyes moved across the map and noticed that not only was he alone, obviously on his way to Hagrid's, but someone else was joining him. Someone who was making a b-line straight for him.
"Oh, Merlin...Sirius!" Remus breathed out, turning and racing out the door without a second's hesitation. In his hurry, he didn't notice a third name sneaking onto the map. What a surprise it would be, to trip over a rat somewhere in between here and there.