When Harry came back downstairs, Remus forced himself out of his thoughts and stood, feeling the frustration from before rush back. "Do you have any idea what could have happened to you tonight?" His voice deathly quiet as he looked up at Harry. "What were you thinking, sneaking out of bed so late?"
"I went to see Hagrid." Harry argued quietly, shaking his head. "Not to get into trouble. Buckbeak was executed tonight and we-we tried to stop it..." He lowered his head then, bringing a hand up to rub at the back of his neck. A large lump had risen in his throat and he fought it down, trying to concentrate on telling his side of the story. "I shouldn't have snuck out, I should have told you why I wanted to leave, but I knew you woudn't let me!"
Though Remus's eyes softened at Harry's selfless reasoning, he knew he had a point to make. "You're right, I wouldn't have let you" He took Harry by the shoulders then and led him to sit down on the couch. Sitting next to him, he met his eyes. "I told you at the beginning of the year that it would be dangerous for you to go off on your own. You promised me you'd be careful, and you were anything but. What if you had run into Sirius and he wasn't so innocent? Or Peter? What if you encountered a dementor and they were confused with who you were? Harry, you can't trust everyone."
"Yes, but I can't live in caution for the rest of my life either." Harry whispered back, not looking at Remus. "That's no life to live, being scared of everything, always looking over my shoulder. I want to be able to take a walk without being punished for it because its dangerous."
"Going out alone at night in any scenario is dangerous, Harry!" Remus exclaimed, standing now and looking down at him. "The point is not why you did what you did, it's that you directly disobeyed me. I told you not to go out past curfew alone. Dumbledore told you, and I'm sure Hermione and Ron did too. But you don't listen, and it could get you killed." He kneeled then in front of Harry then, making him meet his eyes. "Like it or not, you are different. I love you all the same for it, but you are not like other teenagers. Your life is more dangerous then the average thirteen year old, and believe or not, I know whats out there. Whats trying to get to you." He grabbed Harry's wrist in his hand then as the boy looked away, and gently pulled him so that he would look at him. "So when I tell you not to do something, you need to trust me. And you need to not do it. Understand?"
Harry nodded, staring in his lap now, unable to meet Remus's eyes. "I'm sorry." He whispered, bringing a hand up to rub at the back of his neck. "I didn't do it to disobey you...I just wanted to feel normal."
A sad smile came to Remus's face as he stood and brought Harry with him. Putting his hands on his shoulders, he squeezed them. "I know. I know you wanted to help Hagrid,and I know you wanted to forget for a moment how cautious your life needs to be. Next time, come to me. Tell me what you want to do and I'll find someone to go with you if you don't want me to. We need to communicate, Harry. I want to trust you, and I want you to trust me. Like we always have. Deal?"
"Deal." Harry whispered, and moved forward, rapping his arms around Remus. "I'm sorry." He breathed now, pressing his face into the reliable warmth of Remus's sweater. Every moment of security came back to him then and he could remember all the times in his childhood where he had snuggled like this into Remus's chest and everything bad went away. Even as he got older, that reassurance never seemed to disappear."I'm so sorry."
Without hesitation, Remus's arms came around him and held him tightly to him, as if he was worried that if he let go, Harry would disappear again. "I was so afraid for you...you have to see that. You've scared me so many times since the moment you took your first steps, but tonight was something else entirely. Please, Harry...you have to be more careful." He pulled away then, but held onto Harry's shoulders so the boy would hold his gaze. "Promise me you'll be more careful, and mean it this time."
Harry looked reluctant for a moment, still worried he'd be punished further. Though, he wasn't sure why. Remus had always been very patient and fair, but this time seemed different. He seemed far angrier, far more disappointed. "I promise."He said quietly, watching Remus now. "Are you...are you disappointed in me? Do you not trust me anymore?"
"I know you meant well, and I do want to trust you. You just need to start giving me reasons to." He reached up then, smoothing back the messed hair from Harry's forehead. But it just flopped back to where it had been before, making Remus's smile grow. "But I don't want you to think that I'm disappointed in you. I know you weren't trying to directly disobey me, and that you were being careful. And I'm proud of you for sparing Peter when you could have easily let us kill him. I would have regretted that, I know."
"Partly why I couldn't let you." Harry said quietly. "I couldn't let you become a murderer for him. He wasn't worth that. He deserves to spend more years then Sirius in Azkaban, losing his mind. Plus, Sirius deserves to be free if he's innocent. I didn't want to see him go back to Azkaban."
Remus looked thoughtful for a moment and patted Harry on the shoulder before letting go and moving over to the stove. Harry watched silently as Remus started the fire under the kettle and prepared two teacups. "Speaking of Sirius, how do you feel about him? About what you've found out tonight? I know it's a lot to take in...you must have some questions." He crossed his arms over his chest then, obviously nervous as to what they would be. But he had gotten used to Harry's questions over the years.
There was only one question Harry could think it to ask, as it had been going through his head over and over since he had heard the truth. That Sirius was innocent and that he was his godfather. "Will I have to go live with Sirius now?" His voice was quiet, hesitate, as if he wasn't sure if he should ask.
On one hand, it made Remus sad that it was such a negative thing. Sirius should have gotten a chance to be a parent to Harry. On the other hand, though, Remus was relieved to know he wasn't jumping at the opportunity to leave him. "Would you want to live with him if you had the choice?" He hated himself for hoping he would say no. That Harry would want to stay with Remus no matter how deserving Sirius might be of the chance at the happiness he deserved.
"I don't know him." Harry said quickly, almost in a panicked way as he met Remus's eyes. "I mean...I'd like to get to know him. Because he knew Mum and Dad and he was you friend, and I feel bad that he took the responsibility for something he didn't do. But I...I don't think I'd want to live with him, without you. Do you think that could happen? That the ministry would see him as my legal guardian?"
Shaking his head, Remus looked relived as he took a few steps towards Harry, pouring them both a cup of tea and pushing his towards him. "I don't think so, no. I adopted you when you were a baby, and everything's perfectly legal. I don't think Sirius has any standing any more, though the ministry has been known to surprise." He reached out a hand then, touching Harry's arm to comfort him. "But I will fight for whatever you want, Cub. Whether it be to live with me or him, I'll give you whatever you want."
"I want you." Harry whispered before he could stop himself. "I want to live here with you. No matter what. You're...you're my family. I love you, and I don't want to leave you." Remus's face softened, and he was about to interrupt, but Harry stopped him. "Wait, let me finish. I don't want you to think that I'd ever consider going anywhere else. I love living with you, I love...being here. It's my home." He moved forward then, furrowing his eyebrows. "I can't image where I'd be if you hadn't taken care of me all these years. You're my only parent, and the only father I ever remember having." He looked hesitate then. "Would you let me live anywhere else?"
Remus shook his head before reaching forward and pulling Harry into his arms again. Hugging him tightly, he sighed into his shoulder. "No, Cub. No. I would have let you live anywhere else, which is horribly selfish of me, but I don't care." He pulled away then, putting his hands to Harry's neck and cupping his chin. "As wonderful as it is to know Sirius is innocent and that he is going to be free, I don't want anything to change between us. I'm going to offer that Sirius stay here as long as he needs, but if that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, you let me know."
"No, I think it's a good idea." Harry said quietly. "He needs to be around someone who cares about him, and I know you do." He smiled then, and just when he was about to ask whether or not Remus was planning on returning to school with him, he was interrupted by a knock on the door. He turned to look at the front door, where Dumbledore and Sirius could clearly be seen standing outside.
Harry stood there for a moment, seeming to weigh his options left and right. "Do you think it would be alright if I sat this one out for awhile? Gave you two some time to talk?" He wasn't ready for this, ready to face Sirius. Too much had already happened that night and he needed time to process it. Remus could see this, and understood it completely.
"Of course. You're right, I think I need to do this alone." Remus was nervous himself. After all, it had been twelve years since he had seen his best friend. Twelve years of being convinced he was a murderer and the reason for all of his unhappiness. Yet, here he was, innocent of everything Remus believed him to be guilty for. And now the guilt was on him.
When he got to the entry way, Sirius was already inside and Dumbledore was gone. Sirius looked nervous and apprehensive, keeping close to the door he had come in. "He had to...bring me." He croaked out, his voice even worse then before. "Some powerful protections you have on this house. Don't go giving that location away to just anyone. Never know who you can trust." He cracked the faintest, saddest of smiles then. It was a bad joke, but it seemed to have broken the ice, as at that moment, Remus moved forward, pulling Sirius into his arms.
"I'm sorry." He breathed into his shoulder, hugging him tighter. Sirius felt surprise and relief filling him as he wrapped his arms around Remus in return. "I'm so sorry, Sirius." He didn't know what to say, how to properly apologize as he wanted to.
Shaking his head, Sirius laughed. "Don't apologize, not on such a good day. I should apologize, Remus...I must have been terrifying you these past few weeks. I've read the prophet, read what they were saying about me. You must have worried something would happen to Harry." He looked around then, narrowing his eyes in confusion. "Speaking of, is he alright?" Remus was touched by how concerned Sirius sounded, and wondered how he could have ever thought this man was capable of hurting anyone, especially Harry.
"He's upstairs. I think tonight was a bit much for him. As for...this past year, with you on the run, I would have to agree. I was scared to death something was going to happen to Harry. He hasn't exactly proven himself to be very responsible these past few years." He moved into the living room then, motioning for Sirius to follow him. "Come on. You look exhausted."
Sirius made a face at the nice furniture as he walked in, looking down at his disgusting robes. "I don't think I should sit down with these on. I'm going to make a permanent imprint."
"Oh, yes." Remus said, feeling foolish then, as he hadn't yet thought about Sirius having a chance to clean up. "I don't think my mind has caught up yet with us. I'm thinking of too many things at once. You should take a shower and change. The bathroom is the first door on your left upstairs, and my bedroom is two doors on the right down from the bathroom. Take whatever you need from my clothes." Maybe a break would be good, so that Remus could get his mind together.
Sirius agreed. It was far too awkward between them then and maybe after a shower and a clearing of his own head,he'd feel better himself. More up to talking about everything. Right now, he felt jumpy, as if he would be told he was going back to Azkaban at any minute. As he moved up the stairs and to Remus's room, he passed Harry's room. Glancing inside, he spotted Harry sitting faced away from him, a book laying open and unread in his lap. He had the sudden urge to go to him and comfort him, but he knew it wouldn't be well received. It would take a long time for Harry to be comfortable with him.
Once he had a sweater, pair of trousers, and other necessities from Remus's room, he moved into the bathroom and turned on the shower as high as he could without any first degree burns. Laying the clothes on the counter, he stripped of his dirty robes and threw them in an empty trash bag, prepared to burn them later. He sighed out as he stepped into the shower, pressing his head to the cold tile of the wall. Harry and Remus weren't alone in being overwhelmed. Sirius had a hard time believing he was in Remus's house a free man. He wondered then how long it would take to feel normal again. After twelve years, he wasn't sure he knew what normal was anymore.
Once he was clean, he made a face at himself in the mirror, his hair long and wet. Drying it to the best of his abilities, he got dressed quickly and made his way downstairs, careful to clean up after himself as he went. He found Remus in the kitchen, stirring a big pot of beef stew with plenty of big pieces of juicy roast, carrots, green beans, peas, and potatoes. "My favorite." He said quietly from the door, surprised that from the smell, he could remember such a odd fact about himself.
Remus looked up and returned his smile the best he could. He ladled two bowls of the stew, Sirius's much larger then his, and left a good portion left for Harry. "I know. I thought maybe you'd be hungry. You deserve a good meal after a diet of water and mush. I don't even want to think of what was added the past few months." He laughed then and paused for a moment, watching Sirius. He was pulling at the tangles in his hair and beard, looking very uncomfortable. Reaching into his pocket for his wand, he held it out to him. "Take it. You need to be comfortable."
Sirius sighed then and took his wand. Remus always seemed to know him so well, and even now, somehow he saw right through him. "Thank you. Will only take a second." As he was leaving, he could have sworn he heard Remus mutter about how vain he still was, and it made him laugh.
Once he was clean shaven and sitting down at the kitchen table, Sirius felt much better then he had when he first arrived. Exhaustion still sat in him, but that was something he had gotten used to. The only difference with that was that he was looking forward to a good nights rest. "This is amazing, Remus. You didn't have to go through so much trouble." He took another few mouth fulls of the stew, having no care at all for how it would effect his stomach later. It was worth it now.
"You know I did." Remus said, surprised at how hungry he was as well after such a long night. There was a lengthy silence as they both ate, but after a few minutes, Remus put down his spoon. "I...Sirius, I have to tell you that I didn't want to believe everything I was told after that night. I wanted to believe you were innocent, but I had no proof otherwise." He looked down at the table then, moving his spoon back and forth across the cloth. "I can't imagine what you must have gone through, what you must have thought. That I had abandoned you."
Sirius was quiet for a long moment then, staring down into his soup. "I did feel abandoned, but it wasn't your fault, Moony. There was so much evidence against you...I would have thought the same thing. I wish I could say that I wouldn't, but I would have thought the same thing." He sighed then, moving his spoon around in the soup now before taking another hearty bite.
"What was it like?" Remus asked then quietly, his soup now forgotten as the guilt slowly ate away at his stomach.
Sirius put down his spoon then and wiped his mouth with his napkin, having finished the bowl in front of him. "What do you want me to say? That it was horrible? Because it was. It was...indescribable, Remus. I thought I would get used to it, I thought I would eventually go insane. But none of that came. Every single night and day I thought of James and Lily. I thought of Harry. I thought of you. It was like every day was a fight to stay sane and aware."
Remus stared down into the soup then, before pushing it away from him and rising from the table. His hands shook as he ran them through his hair and turned away from Sirius. "I thought the hardest thing would be to see James in Harry, or to hear him ask for them in the early days after their death. But that was expected, and I got through it. Pretty soon he understood what had happened and he stopped asking." He put a hand to his face then, silent for a moment. "The hardest part was when he asked for you...because I didn't know what to tell him."
Sirius looked up then, his eyes wide with pain filled surprise. "He asked for me?"
Turning back towards him, Remus nodded. "Everyday for about six months after you were arrested. What do you tell a toddler? I told him his parents had gone to heaven, that they were in peace...but I couldn't lie to him and tell him you were in peace. You weren't...and no matter if you deserved it or not, you weren't dead enough to me yet to lie to him."
"Did you ever tell him the truth?" Sirius asked now, watching him with curiosity. He felt a strange feeling of gratitude for Remus, for not taking the easy opportunity to slander him to Harry. "Or did he find it out from the Prophet?" He hoped his godson hadn't had to read about him, hoped he hadn't felt betrayed.
"I told him what I knew recently, yes." Remus said quietly, moving to place his hands on the back of the chair he had sat in. "I think he's confused, as he barely knew who you were and one day, you were this mystery, the next...the man murdered his parents, and today you're innocent. I don't think he knows what to think, exactly."
Sirius sighed then, rubbing a hand down his face. He felt so very tired of the whole situation, and he still couldn't fully process that it was over. "I should talk to him before I go to sleep." He said quietly, looking towards the stairs before glancing back at his old friend. "We haven't...really talked about..." He paused then, struggling with how to ask. "About how long I'm staying."
"As long as you want, Sirius. Don't worry about it." Remus gave him a comforting smile then, moving to give him a pat on the shoulder. "Harry can always use another adult around and you can answer a lot of questions he has about James and Lily. I think it would be good for the both of you. That is...if you want to stay."
A grin spread across Sirius's face then, and though it didn't quite reach his eyes, Remus knew it was genuine. "I do. But I think I'll let Harry decide too. It's his house as well." He stood then and moved to Remus, pulling him into a tight hug. "Thank you for trusting me, Remus...I know this must be confusing for you most of all. I can't tell you how happy I am to just be here with you."
Remus hugged him in return, patting his back a few times before pulling away. "We have all the time in the world to catch up, Sirius. I don't expect I'll be letting you leave my sight for awhile yet." He gave him a genuine smile then, feeling a sense of relief and comfort in knowing that Sirius was here, safe, and familiar. "But I agree that you should talk to Harry. I have no doubt he has many questions. Always does."
"And I have a lot of answers I've been waiting too long to give him." Sirius said quietly, surprising himself with the raw truth of those words. Standing up, he gave one last goodbye to Remus before moving towards Harry's bedroom. What hit him suddenly was the knowledge that he would see Remus in a matter of a half an hour. This wasn't goodbye, and that gave Sirius the push to move forward.
Knocking on Harry's door frame lightly, Sirius hesitantly peaked his head in, looking towards his godson. "Do you mind if I come in?" When Harry turned and nodded, he took a few steps in, looking around. It was the typical room of a thirteen year old Gryffindor. The wallpaper and bedding were Gryffindor colors and matched well with the cherry wood floors and Quidditch wall decorations. It was easy to see what Harry's life was like looking around at his room, but it didn't show the hard things.
"I didn't want to just barge in." Sirius said quietly, moving now into the room and closing the door a little behind him. But not too much as to make Harry nervous. "I wanted to see how you were holding up. This couldn't have been an easy last few days. Or year, really. So much new information at once"
"Not anymore then you." Harry said quietly, turning towards him fully now and pulling his legs up beneath him. "I kept thinking about that while I was up here. About how you had sat in a cell for twelve years, completely innocent, and I had no idea." He let out a long breath then, obviously frazzled. "Remus...he never said anything bad about you. All these years, he always told me that he wanted me to come up with my own opinions of the past. I think part of him always knew that you were innocent, but the rest of him didn't know what to do about it."
"There was nothing he could have done." Sirius whispered now, touched that Remus had respected his memory and resisted the opportunity to talk bad about him. "Even if he had known for sure I was innocent, it would have been worse, as no one would have taken his word for it, unfortunately. I wish he wouldn't blame himself."
Harry shrugged then, tracing the lion on his bed cover with his finger. "It's how Remus is and always have been. You get used to it."
A smile came to Sirius's face then dispite himself. "Yes, I agree with that...that you get used to it. Speaking of, you've spent more time with Remus then I have. What's your life been like here? Do you like it...does Remus treat you well?" Sirius was almost positive he knew the obvious answer to the question, but he wanted to hear it from Harry. Wanted to see that he had a happy life and that the sacrifice they had all made for him was worth it.
Harry's smile challenged Sirius's and beat it as he looked up. "That's a daft question, isn't it? Of course I love it here. It's been different these past few years while I've been at Hogwarts. But Remus teaches there now too, so we are hardly ever apart. I like it...I like spending time with him."
"What do you do? You and Remus, in your spare time?" Sirius asked, curious now and marveling at how easy this was. He took a seat in a small, red and cold arm chair by the door, watching as Harry thought through all of his experiences with his adoptive father.
"Quidditch, mostly." Harry said with a thoughtful look. "But Remus doesn't enjoy it very much. Says that flying makes him nervous. So, besides that, we play Chess and he teaches me magic I'm not learning in class, or stuff I might be learning next year. For example, this year, he taught me how to produce a patronus."
Sirius raised his eyebrows in surprise then, knowing that it was a great feat for a third year to be able to produce a patronus. "And, knowing that Remus is a good teacher, I assume you can now. What is it, if you don't mind me asking?" He wondered vaguely if it was a wolf, which he thought would be appropriate. Remus had obviously taken good care of him.
"A stag." Harry said, and a sad smile came over Sirius's face as he said it. "Remus says that was my Dad's animagus. He told me the story about how you, my Dad, and Peter all became animagi for him, and I always thought that was...very brave of all of you. And very impressive. I want to become an animagus someday. Do you think you could help me with that sometime?"
Sirius's smile widened then, surprised. "I could try, yes. Of course, I'd probably need to talk to Remus about it, as you're a little young, but I don't see why you can't try. As long as your supervised and don't try to transform too early, it isn't too dangerous. You've already mastered the Patronus, I wouldn't be surprised if you learned this quickly too. You're very bright."
"Thank you." Harry said, feeling a mix of embarrassment and pride swell up in him suddenly at his words. "I guess I haven't really had time to talk to Remus about all of this...to ask the questions I have. But are you staying here with us?" He asked quietly, looking torn about how he felt about it.
Shifting uncomfortably then, Sirius had known these questions were coming and now hoped he would have the right answers. "I know that I may be staying here for awhile, but if you don't want me to, I won't. How do you feel about it?" He was positive that he didn't want to do anything that made Harry feel uncomfortable.
Harry looked hesitant then and was very quiet as he looked down into his lap. It was obvious he wasn't sure how he felt about Sirius or the situation surrounding him and that the change would be something to get used to.
"You do know that I would...that I would never want to replace your father." Sirius cracked a nervous smile then. "Either of them. I know Remus means a lot to you and I don't want to try to get in the middle of that. But I'd like to be here for you. If you would let me...I would like to do whatever I can to make up for lost time."
Harry was quiet for a moment, still staring down at his lap. "Well." He said, looking up at him now with a thoughtful look. "Theres a lot more room in this house then you'd think. I think Remus would like if you stayed...and I would too."
Sirius couldn't help the relieved smile that touched his features then as he felt relieve rush over him. Also, pride swelled up as he realize just how well Harry had been raised. He had to remember to thank Remus again for doing such a good job when Sirius wasn't able. "Thank you, Harry. I really appreciate that. I look forward to getting to know you better."
Sighing now, he stood, gesturing towards the door. "Do you think that we should go find Remus?" When Harry nodded, the moved out of the room and Sirius closed the door behind them. There were still many questions he had and he was sure Harry had some as well, but they would have to wait. It was nice to know that he had all the time in the world now.