for all the rest of you, here's the not-so-action-packed conclusion to the AU, in which Sirius tells Remus some not-happy things.
Remus woke a few hours later to find Padfoot nudging his hand with a dry, warm nose. Remus rubbed Padfoot's head absently before realizing that someone was knocking on the door. He stumbled to his feet and went to the door, rubbing his eyes and trying to smooth down his sleep-wild hair. He peered through the peephole at the door to see Frank holding a bundle and with a large bag slung over his shoulder.
"Frank," he greeted, voice still thick, as he opened the door. "Come in."
Frank slipped in the doorway with a furtive glance around. Remus realized in the back of his mind that he had no idea where they were or what was beyond the door, but he didn't even bother to look as he shut the door. There were more important things to consider.
"I've brought some things, too," Frank nudged the bag with his hip. "Toys and bottles and things, Alice packed it."
"Thank you," Remus shook his head, trying to clear the last vestiges of sleep.
"He's asleep," Frank said, and it took Remus a moment to figure out that he meant the child in his arms.
Frank offered the bundle and Remus took it gingerly, surprised at how heavy it was in his arms. That's ridiculous, he thought, I held Harry barely a week ago…
But that was when everything was different. It seemed like everything was heavier now, the air in his lungs and the blood pounding in his head and the child in his arms, all that was left of his two best friends.
Remus felt something nudge his side. He looked down to see Padfoot leaning against him heavily, looking up with his brown eyes. Remus bent painfully to show him Harry, and Padfoot snuffled at him lightly before letting out a whuffy sort of sigh.
Frank watched this whole performance with a creased brow.
"It's really true," he said, more to himself than Remus. Remus nodded.
"Dog emotions are simpler, easier," Remus told him by way of explanation and Frank took a moment to absorb that. He reached out to tentatively pat Padfoot on the head and the dog pushed against his hand affectionately, accepting the gesture for what it was.
"I should go," Frank finally said, slipping the bag off his shoulder to the floor. "Alice worries."
"Be careful," Remus replied. He hesitated a moment before hugging Frank awkwardly. "Thank you. For Harry."
"He and Neville get on well," Frank shrugged as he returned the hug. "Maybe they'll be best friends when they grow up."
Remus resisted the urge to say that he hoped not, having best friends was too painful.
When Frank had slipped out the door, Remus continued to stand in the middle of the front room, clutching Harry and with the weight of Padfoot pressed against his leg.
He had no idea what to do with either of them.
* * * * * *
Remus settled into a vague routine, sleeping when he was tired, which was most of the time, and getting up when Harry cried, which was only slightly less often. Sirius remained Padfoot, sometimes shuffling out of bed with Remus and sometimes staying on the bed, watching Remus move about with sad eyes.
After a few days, just when Remus was starting to get a bit desperate, Arthur showed up with baby supplies from Molly and some more unwelcome news.
Frank and Alice had been attacked. They were injured, maybe permanently. Neville was physically all right, although memory-charmed, which could have any effect on his mind as time went by.
Remus sank into a chair in the tiny kitchen and wondered if he had finally reached the end of his ability to hurt. He glanced at the doorway to the front room and remembered hugging Frank goodbye. He didn't deserve this. None of them did.
After Arthur left, Remus went to the doorway of the front room and leaned on the threshold. Padfoot was sprawled on the floor, keeping an eye on Harry. Harry was bopping him softly with a stuffed Hippogriff, but Padfoot didn't seem to mind.
"Pafu!" he exclaimed and Padfoot barked in response. Harry laughed and called "Pafu! Pafu!" again, getting more barks in response.
Remus chuckled softly in spite of himself, desperate to put off telling Sirius about Frank and Alice for as long as possible. He left the doorway and sat down on the rug beside them, scratching Padfoot's head in thanks for baby-sitting.
"Pafu!" Harry said by way of greeting. Padfoot snorted.
"Moony," Remus corrected gently, remembering with a burst of pain that Lily had been trying to get Harry to say their names last time he had seen her. "Mooo-nee."
"Moo!" Harry chirruped, more cow-like than Remus could have hoped. "Moooo!"
"Moo-NEE," Remus said again, feeling a bit disgruntled. He could have sworn Padfoot was snickering at him.
"Moo!" Harry clapped his hands and bopped Remus with the Hippogriff.
"I guess that settles it," Remus accepted his new name with dignity. He reached over to stroke Padfoot's head, then felt his nose. "Your nose is wet," he told Padfoot. "You must feel better."
Padfoot gave a doggy sort of shrug. Harry evidently did not appreciate the turning away of attention from him, and he hit Remus again with his toy. Remus grabbed the Hippogriff suddenly and poked a surprised Harry in the chest with it.
"Harry," Remus said clearly. "Padfoot. Moony. Harry." Remus tapped each of them on the head with the Hippogriff as he said their names clearly, then offered the animal back to Harry.
"Hawy," Harry said seriously, thumping himself in the chest. The tail of the toy flipped up and caught him across the nose, and Harry started to cry. Remus laughed as he gathered up Harry and stood, jostling him affectionately to soothe him. Harry settled down quick enough, but Remus continued to pace with him, taking comfort in the repetitive movements and Harry's soft baby noises. Lulled by the warmth and rocking of the werewolf, Harry soon started to drift off and still Remus kept moving, knowing that as soon as he put Harry to bed, he would have to tell Sirius about the Longbottoms.
Eventually his arms began to tire, and with a sigh he went into the bedroom to lay Harry down in the small crib Molly had lent them. There was barely room to edge between it and the bed in the tiny bedroom, but Remus managed and then sat on the bed.
Padfoot had followed him silently and as Remus sat down, he patted the bed beside him for the dog to jump up.
"I've something to tell you," Remus began heavily, and he saw a flicker of emotion pass through Padfoot's eyes. "Yes, it's more bad news."
Padfoot whined and nosed Harry gently in question, then returned a pleading stare to Remus.
"No, thank god," Remus shook his head. "Harry stays with us. It's the Longbottoms." Remus paused, trying to gather the right words. "Alice and Frank were attacked by Death Eaters, they're at St. Mungos. They…they may not recover. Cruciatus Curse. Neville's fine, but they've got him under memory charms."
Padfoot continued staring at Remus for a few seconds more, but Remus had run out of news. Whining softly, Padfoot laid his head in Remus' lap, and Remus stroked his head slowly, wondering if there was any more good news to be had.
* * * * * *
The news about the Longbottoms produced a relapse in Sirius, and he returned to sleeping most of the time, or following Remus around silently if he was awake. Finally the smell of depressed dog was more than Remus could bear, and he shooed Padfoot off the bed and rolled up the bedding, intending to shake it out outside.
He didn't even get the whole way out the door. As soon as he opened the door, moonlight washed over Remus and he froze in his tracks, clutching the bedding.
The moon was only a few days short of full.
Nearly a whole month had gone by, but Remus had not noticed, had lost all sense of time while he was trying to hold Sirius and Harry and his sanity all together. Feeling suddenly cold and frightened, Remus closed the door and walked back to the bedroom in a daze.
Padfoot was leaning against Harry's crib, snuffling at Harry's scent while he was sleeping. Remus had seen him do it before and was not sure what Padfoot was after, whether he was memorizing Harry's scent or searching for some trace of James or Lily. He stopped when he saw Remus and stared up at him.
Remus carefully sat the wadded up bedding back onto the bed and knelt beside Padfoot.
"Sirius," he said in a strained voice, "the full moon is only a few days away. I'm going to have to go away, and you're going to have to stay with Harry."
Padfoot whined, but Remus didn't know whether it was in response to his leaving or the idea of changing back to human. Remus chose to address the latter.
"I know you're hurt," Remus sighed, rubbing Padfoot's head. "I know it's easier to deal with things this way…but you've been Padfoot for better than two weeks now, Sirius. We need you here. I need you."
Remus stood without waiting for an answer and went shakily to the kitchen to make himself some tea.
Sitting at the table, Remus cursed himself for forgetting the damn moon, putting everyone he had left in danger. He supposed he would have to go back to the Shack, a thought that made him shiver. He would have to talk to Dumbledore. He would have to transform alone for the second moon in a row, something that hadn't happened since his school days.
I deserve it, he thought blandly. I deserve it all.
Remus felt more composed after the hot drink, if no less angry at himself, and he went back to the bedroom, fully expecting to find Padfoot asleep on the bed which still needed to be shook out and remade.
Instead he found Sirius sitting on the floor, still beside Harry's crib, with one arm pushed through the bars to rest a hand on Harry's back as he slept, and the other gripping one of the bars of the crib so tightly his knuckles were white.
Relief washed through Remus at the sight of his best friend in human form, and he dropped to the floor beside Sirius and hugged him tightly. Sirius let go of the bar and wrapped his arm around Remus awkwardly, drawing him closer.
"I'm sorry, Moony," Sirius rasped, his voice raspy from disuse. "I didn't…"
"Don't," Remus shrugged lightly against Sirius' chest. "You were hurt. I just missed you."
"Coward," Sirius snarled, mostly to himself. "You had to grieve too. I should have been here. I should have been with you."
Remus shivered as Sirius nearly repeated his words from Halloween night, It seemed like a lifetime ago. It had been a lifetime ago. Remus followed Sirius' arm with his gaze and let it rest on Harry, dark hair mussed up from sleep.
"He looks so much like James already," Remus commented idly. Sirius tensed up in his arms, the same way he had before whenever Remus mentioned James. Remus remembered his resolve to find out what Sirius was hiding. "Tell me," he coaxed.
"Said he didn't want us near Harry together," Sirius finally mumbled.
"Who, James? James said that?" Sirius nodded and Remus felt suddenly cold. He was certain this time that he had surpassed his ability to feel any more pain, because he should definitely be feeling it now.
"Said we'd confuse him, said he didn't want Harry thinking…" Sirius trailed off, shaking slightly. He took a soft, hiccupping breath.
Remus suddenly realized that it did hurt, it hurt a LOT, and he clung to Sirius even tighter as he tried to wrap his mind around this confession.
"He loved you," Remus reassured after awhile, so used to patching up things between James and Sirius after a fight that even James' death couldn't break the habit.
"He loved both of us," Sirius replied caustically. "Just not together."
"Is that why he switched Secret Keepers?" Remus asked. Sirius shrugged, but Remus was unsure whether the shrug meant he didn't know or he didn't want to talk about it. "Sirius, he would have gotten used to it eventually," Remus said.
"Won't know now, will we?" Sirius snapped. His voice was already switching over from hurt to angry, and Remus took a strange sort of comfort in the familiar defense mechanism. "Nearly got his wish, didn't he? That we couldn't be with Harry. Even got us split up for the moon, you'll be alone again thanks to that bastard…"
"Don't," Remus pleaded softly, and Sirius stopped speaking, but Remus could still feel him shaking under his hands. Sirius was quiet for a long while, his heart beating steadily in Remus' ear, pressed against his chest.
"I was going to tell him to go fuck himself, you know?" Sirius suddenly continued. "To tell him that he couldn't make me choose between you and Harry, that I loved you and he was just going to have to get used to it. That's why I left that night, before I lost my nerve…if I wasn't such a coward, if I'd have gone earlier…"
"You'd be dead too," Remus interrupted fiercely, pushing away against Sirius' chest to look him in the face, "and Harry would have nobody."
"He'd have you," Sirius protested.
"He'd have gone to Lily's sister that first night," Remus shook his head. "Dumbledore thinks there's some kind of blood protection since Lily died for him. He's probably right, but fought him every inch of the way…I wanted to crawl into a hole and never leave, but I kept thinking that if I didn't fight for Harry you'd never forgive me."
"Yes, I would have," Sirius pulled Remus close again, finally slipping his arm out of Harry's crib to wrap both arms around the werewolf. "I'd forgive you anything."
"It isn't me you need to forgive," Remus sighed. Sirius stiffened a little, but didn't reply. After several breaths more, Remus slid out of Sirius' grasp and stood up.
"Come on," he held out a hand to Sirius. "This bed needs to be shook out and remade, and then I'm going to sleep. I need to Floo Dumbledore tomorrow morning."
Sirius climbed to his feet with Remus' help and swayed a little, the result of relying on four legs for too long. He trailed Remus outside and helped him shake out the blankets, exchanging a wry smile with Remus over the quantity of dark fur that flew out of them. Neither of them spoke on the way back inside, and Sirius extinguished the lights of the front room and the kitchen as he went by.
Remus always found housework soothing, and it was a good thing one of them did, he mused as he tugged blankets and sheets over the corners of the bed. Sirius' bed-making skills were negligible, and Remus handed him the pillows to re-case with a small smile. Sirius stuck out his tongue.
"Leave your things on the floor, I'll spell them clean in the morning," Remus told Sirius as he shrugged off his own robes. Sirius raised an eyebrow.
"Is this a ploy to get me into bed naked?"
The joke was so unexpected and welcome that Remus laughed loudly, then covered his mouth with a hand as he glanced guiltily over at Harry's crib. Sirius half-smiled, a shadow of his usual grin, but it was a start.
"I'm not sure there's room in here for both of us and our clothes," Remus remarked as he and Sirius curled up together in the small bed. Sirius let out a soft snort of laughter, and Remus gave him a squeeze on impulse, thankful they could still make each other laugh. Sirius squeezed him back, his breath ruffling Remus' hair.
When Harry cried in the middle of the night, Remus sat up out of habit, but Sirius pushed him back down.
"My turn," Sirius rumbled sleepily. "S'probly my turn till Christmas."
"Probably," Remus smiled as he sank back down to the pillows. He squinted when Sirius lit his wand with a soft "Lumos", and watched as Sirius lifted the crying Harry out of his crib.
Harry cried louder for a minute, not recognizing Sirius at first. Then he grabbed a fistful of the too-long hair that had slipped over Sirius' shoulder. Harry stopped crying suddenly; he scrunched up his face in confusion as he took another chubby fistful of hair.
"Pafu?" he finally asked, looking comically perplexed.
"Yes, Harry," Sirius told him. "It's still Padfoot. Still me."
Harry yanked on the hair, and Sirius grunted in pain, reaching up to untangle the hands from his hair. Remus laughed softly and Sirius narrowed his eyes at him.
"That's enough of that," he told Harry, pushing on the baby's nose with a fingertip. Harry grabbed the finger instead, then yawned hugely. When his eyes began to droop, Sirius laid Harry back down in his crib. Harry protested sleepily, but didn't cry. Instead, he started singing a nonsense baby song to himself.
Sirius waited until Harry was fully asleep before putting out the wand and crawling back into bed. Remus rolled towards the wall to make room for Sirius to squeeze in alongside him.
"Kid even sings himself to sleep," Remus murmured, refraining from commenting about the content of the song. "What more could you want?"
Sirius didn't reply at first as he curled himself along Remus' back, and Remus was almost back to sleep before he spoke.
"You're going to the Shack, aren't you?" he asked.
"Yes," Remus replied.
"I wish I could do something." Sirius' arms tightened around Remus. Remus slid a hand up to cover Sirius' fingers. "I wish I could be with you."
"I know. Go back to sleep."
* * * * * *
Remus returned from this moon even more torn up than the last. He stumbled into their erstwhile home and collapsed on the bed, apologizing mentally for anything he was bleeding on. The light from the front room was in his eyes, and Remus squeezed his eyes shut and wished dully that something would stop it. A moment later, he got his wish.
Remus cracked an eye open to see Sirius’ silhouette in the doorway against the light from the hall.
“How do you feel?” Sirius asked, not moving from the doorway. Remus smiled faintly at the familiar scene they were re-enacting, relieved that it would finally have a different ending.
"Come here and see."