Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. If I did, I wouldn't be out looking for another job...
Warning: This deals with mano a mano (man to man) – love style. If you don't like that, please hit the back button.
AN: A fluffy little romance between my two favorite characters: Harry and Remus. (Although Snape is a close second!) Please review; my ego needs a little reassurance from writing my first in-depth HP slash fic. Let me know how I can improve. Please, no flames! I've already warned you what this story was about!
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he sat back in one of the seats in the compartment, his black hair flopping into green eyes that no longer needed glasses to see.
Ron and Hermione gave him a sideways glance as he turned to them.
"What was that all about?" Hermione asked as the train slowly left Kings Cross.
"That," Harry grinned, "was my relief of never having to go back to the Dursleys!"
Ron laughed along with Harry as Hermione gave them both a disgruntled look.
"I still don't see why Dumbledore had you go live there this summer, what with Sirius being free and everything. Plus the fact that Voldemort is gone..."
Harry shook his head. "Both Sirius and I agreed that it would be better for me to stay with the Dursleys because of all the protection of the wards. Since there are still a few Death Eaters that haven't been caught yet, we all agreed that it would be better for me to stay with blood relatives, even though they have no magic, than to stay with Sirius. Besides, Sirius wrote and told me that he spent most of the summer at the Ministry trying to organize and reclaim everything of his that they confiscated after his arrest."
Ron nodded his agreement as Hermione tossed another look at Harry.
"Is that the only reason?"
"Yes!" Harry looked a little irk at Hermione's questioning. It didn't particularly help when he still had Vernon's question of 'So, you're never coming back?' ringing in his ears. He just wanted the subject to be done and over with. But, he also knew that he would have to explain everything before Hermione would stop. "Sirius couldn't very well protect me when he wasn't going to be there."
Finally Hermione let up on the questions and settled back in her seat next to Ron, eventually telling the other two in the compartment about her summer travels with her parents.
Harry shook his head in disbelief as the two drifted into a conversation of their own making, leaving him out completely. It was fine with him. In fact, he was feeling a little restless, and he figured that Ron and Hermione wouldn't even notice he was gone if he just stepped out for a few minutes to get some air.
Sliding the door open, he looked back and saw that neither of them had heard a sound he had made. Shaking his head again, he shut the door and made his way to the end of the swaying train.
It was strange to think of everything that had happened over the last year. He really liked the idea that Voldemort didn't threaten him any longer - he had finally ended the battle a little over two months ago. When the news had come out, most people were surprised that the Killing Curse hadn't ended the war, but an old and forgotten curse - technically illegal, but the Ministry was quite willing to waive the charges on it - that had sent Voldemort's soul to the depths of hell.
Harry had reasoned that since Slytherin's heir wasn't quite willing to let go of his mortal body, he would use that to his advantage. Voldemort would be expecting him to use 'Avada Kedavra' the next time they met, but Harry wasn't about to do any such thing. He knew that Voldemort would bide his time like he had the first time he and Harry had ever met. So, instead of creating a situation where that would happen, he would get rid of Voldemort once and for all by destroying his soul. Well, his soul would be condemned to the demons - a fitting place for a man who had killed countless wizards, witches, and muggles in his quest for world domination.
Another sigh escaped Harry as he thought about some of those that had been lost this go-round with Voldemort. Hogwarts would seem much different when they arriving for the Sorting and Welcome Feast. There would be no Hagrid to greet the first years, which pained him a lot. The half-giant had been the first person he had met from the wizarding world, and had also given him his first true birthday present. It had been hard to look at Hedwig several times over the last few months, as the memories of Hagrid would seem to explode when he saw the snowy owl. Only recently had he been able to think of Hagrid when looking at Hedwig without wanting to almost break down in tears at the grief.
He also knew that he would miss seeing several of his classmates at the table for Gryffindor House. And it would seem strange to not see his Head of House bringing the First Years into the Great Hall for the Sorting. Professor McGonagall had been killed last Christmas, protecting the few students that had stayed over the holiday from a Death Eater attack at Hogsmeade. She had taken several out before one had managed to hit her with the Killing Curse.
Gryffindor's common room had been draped in black, even at the end of the year out of respect for her. All the students had agreed that it would be a hard task for anyone to fill her shoes, even as several of the teachers rotated McGonagall's house duties through the end of the year, as the teacher who had taken over her Transfiguration classes didn't feel he would be able to handle it.
That made Harry wonder whom they asked to become head of Gryffindor, not to mention Deputy Headmaster or Headmistress. Dumbledore would still need a replacement for when he stepped down from his position, which he had hinted he would do after the end of this school year. Harry was torn at that thought. At times during the second war with Voldemort, Dumbledore had seemed almost indestructible. Other times, though, Harry had seen the terrible strain and grief the old wizard was going through. Many times he would ask for someone from the order to complete a task and they would never return.
Harry hung his head, letting the wind and noise of the train muffle the sob that fought its way out. The order had grown to be over fifty people, and only twenty were left. Nine of the original eighteen were still alive. Of those who were left of the order, two had been horribly injured to the point where Madam Pomfrey could not heal them. And Ginny... she would never recover from being held under the Cruciatus curse for so long. She was like Neville's parents, unrecognizing of anybody. Her body was perfectly healthy, but her mind.... Harry couldn't think about it.
Snape was one of the two who would have to deal with their injuries the rest of their life. The former Death Eater had been injured in the fight that had killed McGonagall. Voldemort's orders, besides the capture of Harry (which didn't happen since he wasn't even in Hogsmeade) had been the death of his unfaithful servant. Snape had survived, but he no longer had the use of both legs. A falling building had crushed him, snapping his backbone cleanly through his spinal cord.
The Potions Master had not really recovered from the incident physically, but mentally he had become tougher on his students. That had been somewhat surprising, since Madam Pomfrey had stated it was usually the other way around. He no longer favored his Slytherins in everything, but dealt with each student as fair as he could. That didn't mean that he still had a scathing wit or was horribly prejudiced about certain things, rather that Snape didn't have to hide his spy status from his students.
He whipped his head around to find Remus Lupin standing in the door of the last car. He was a little surprised to see him on the train, and if he had known he would have sought him out.
"Yes?" Harry was surprised that he had been able to pull his thoughts together enough to utter the word. They still felt scattered.
"Why are you out here? Ron and Hermione have been wondering where you went," Remus said as he shut the door and joined Harry against the railing.
Harry shrugged. "I needed some fresh air. Besides," he grinned a mischievous smile, "they went into lovebird mode, and I can't handle much of that."
Remus smiled at that. "I can understand that." He looked over at Harry. "So, when are you going to bring home some lovely lady to Sirius?"
This time Harry grimaced. "Not anytime soon, and definitely not a lady."
One golden-brown eyebrow arched at this. "Not a lady?"
Harry stared at his feet. He had told Sirius about his supposed 'love life', but he wasn't sure how Remus would react.
"No. More of a male persuasion."
The answer was maddening to Harry, since there was so much it could say. It made him a little uncomfortable as he stood next to Remus.
"I see. Then you follow the same path Sirius and I do."
Harry's head shot up to look at Remus, who wore a sympathetic look on his face. Relief swept over him as the older man smiled at him, releasing the tension that had built up within Harry. Nodding, he turned his attention to the scenery that passed them by as the train continued its journey north.
The two men stood in silence for sometime before Harry turned to Remus.
"Why are you on the train, anyway?"
Remus smirked. "Well, there's a certain position at Hogwarts that seems to be cursed," he started before laughing at the happiness that had crossed Harry's face. "Yes, I will be the new DADA teacher this year. Along with being Head of...."
He was cut off as Harry hugged him. "That's great! I...." Harry broke off with a sheepish look on his face. "Sorry about that," he said as he pulled away from the older man.
Remus chuckled. "I take it you like the idea?"
Harry nodded. "Are you kidding?" He looked at Remus for a couple of seconds. "So, did you let Ron and Hermione know?"
The older man shook his head. "No. I wanted you to be the first to know."
"Can I keep it a secret, then, until the Sorting?" Harry asked.
Remus nodded. "If you can." He smirked again as Harry playfully swatted at him. Then he starting laughing at the mock-hurt face Harry put on, who soon joined him. Soon, though, the two entered the train and found their way back to Harry's original compartment for the rest of the journey.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Ron demanded to know as he put his feet up on the table in front of the couch. He, Hermione, and Harry were in the common room shared by the Head Boy and Girl. "I knew something was going on when you two came back from where ever on the train, but this!"
Harry grinned. "It was too good. Besides, you should have seen the looks on your faces when Remus was announced. It was too good to pass up!"
Hermione frowned. "You would think that as Head Boy you wouldn't do anything like this."
Ron and Harry gave her a look.
"I'll have you know that my dad did *several* things you shouldn't do as Head Boy," Harry stated. "And I know for a fact that you probably would have done the same thing."
Hermione tried to give them a scathing look but ended up giggling. "Very well. You know me too well. As Head Girl...."
"Yes," Harry said as he rose. "By the way, if you're going to stay the night here, Ron, be sure to put up a silencing spell?"
Ron's face matched his hair, and Hermione turned a lovely shade of pink at the question. Harry laughed at their reactions before he headed off to his room. Closing the door, he could still hear Ron spluttering in the common room.
An hour later found Harry in bed, looking up at the ceiling. It was strange to be back, but also good. He was back at the place he had considered home for the past six years and it would be his last. Next summer he would join Sirius at his house until he figured out what to do. There were a lot of options he could take, considering that the Ministry offered him anything in return for getting rid of Voldemort.
One of the best things, though, about being back in Hogwarts was that Remus would be teaching again. He still thought of his third year fondly, often wishing that Remus was still teaching. Now that wish had come true, and he couldn't be happier. Only Sirius could produce a more joyful reaction, being his godfather, since Remus was one of the two people who had known his dad better than anyone that was still around.
Today Harry had noticed how Remus had looked. The older man was healthier than he had been when he had last seen him the night of the last battle, in fact much better than he had been the last couple of years. Remus' golden eyes had seemed to sparkle in much the same way Sirius or Dumbledore's eyes did when they were happy.
He looked good that way.
Harry stopped himself. He did not just think that of Remus. No, he couldn't have.
He was still arguing with himself when he fell asleep.
Remus woke up just before his alarm went off. His body somehow always knew what time it, and he figured that it was a side effect of his lycanthropy. It was sometimes a blessing, but when it came to him trying to sleep-in, it was definitely a curse.
Padding into the bathroom, he paused to take a brief look in the mirror. It was strange to see himself in the morning now that his sleep wasn't disrupted by the alertness he had needed during the war. Sirius had laughed at him when he had mentioned it, saying that he was turning into an old man. Before he knew it, Remus had laughed at him while reminding the other man that he was six months older than he was. That had shut up Sirius, for a couple of minutes at least.
He shook his head at that little bit of silliness and started getting ready for the day. He had been waiting for it to come eagerly once he had been told he got the job. Up until that point, from the interview, he had been nervous, wondering if the board of governors would be willing to hire him once again in spite of his being a werewolf. However, their votes had been unanimous in his favor and while several parents had complained, none of their children had been pulled out of school.
Last night Dumbledore had told him that several of the board members were very grateful for all the work he had done in the fight against Voldemort, and felt that his personal experience would prove to be very useful in his teachings. Also added to that was the fact that most knew of the welcome his former students would give him.
That thought warmed Remus as he made his way to the Great Hall. He loved teaching here, and knowing that his students really liked him made it even better.
"Good morning, Remus," Dumbledore greeted him as he sat down at the teacher's table.
"Good morning," he replied, looking around the table. Last night he had been surprised when Snape had actually offered a halfway civil greeting, and he was ready to return the sentiment this morning when he noticed the other man wasn't there.
Dumbledore must have known his thoughts when he said, "Severus no longer takes breakfast with the school. He finds it painful to move in the morning most of the time."
Remus nodded, well aware of the price Snape had paid for his spying. He had also found out last night that the other man had moved his classroom to a room on the ground floor, out of the cold dungeons, and that most people were very pleased by this. Remus knew that it was because of his health that he had done so, even if he mourned the loss of familiar surroundings.
Loud chattering broke his eyes from his plate. Looking up, he found several Gryffindors walking over to their table, with the trio in the lead. Harry and Ron looked to be arguing over something as Hermione ignored the both of them. Harry broke off for a moment to wave at the teacher's table, sending a smile to both Remus and Dumbledore.
Remus smiled back as Dumbledore leaned over. "He's grown to be a fine young man, hasn't he?"
Nodding, he looked at the headmaster. "I agree. I think that Lily and James would be proud of him."
Dumbledore nodded wisely. "And you and Sirius?"
Remus chuckled. "I don't know about Sirius, since I seem to catch the ranting whenever Harry's gone off and done something dangerous." Both men laughed at this. "Myself, I am happy that he's who he's become. He's definitely someone I'm proud to know."
The headmaster gave him a sideways look, but returned to his breakfast.
Remus eyed him for a moment, mystified at the action. Shrugging off the thought, he turned his mind to his lessons for the day.