Turning Time

Meant to Be

8 December, 1999 16:47

I took the letters from the owl at the window; one was from Harry, another from Hermione. I read Hermione’s first because it was lighter, and I wasn’t yet prepared to have Harry chastise me for not visiting enough.

Sirius—

It’s been too long. Things here are fine, but we all miss you. Since the last time I wrote—that was four months ago, I think—we’ve repealed about thirty outdated laws and passed two new ones. We’ve continued to push for a law to prevent discrimination against werewolves and similar beings, but there’s still a lot of resistance.

I’ve also meant to ask if you wanted to pursue same-sex marriage rights in Great Britain—have you heard about the Netherlands? The Muggle community there passed a marriage equality law two years ago, just five years after the wizarding community had. Severus has had a lot of success leading the child care programs, in part thanks to his reputation, so I’m sure if you (and Charlie?) led a movement for marriage equality, you’d get a law through in a few years. I’m not saying it would be easy, or that it’d mean you and Charlie would get married, but I would really like to help you if you were willing. Harry might mention it in his letter, too. It doesn’t have to be marriage, per se, there’s a few drafts of anti discrimination laws floating around that you could look at.

Let me know what you decide, and I hope to see you soon,

Hermione

I sighed. I appreciated her gesture, but decided I would just say that I was too busy. I opened Harry’s letter, excuses already running through my mind.

Padfoot—

I know Hermione’s writing about the project she wants you to take on, so I can skip to the news: Severus and Raven are together now. He’s the reason she broke it off with Remus. It’s so odd to me; she had feelings for him in the timeline I experienced, and now this timeline…”

“What’s Harry saying?” Charlie came in from the kitchen.

I angled it toward me. “I’m sorry, Charlie, it’s just between me and Harry. If I could tell you, I would.”

“Okay.” Charlie sat down across from me and set down his tea. “Is there anything in it you can tell me about?”

“Well, it looks like Snape and Raven are together now. Or they have been, I suppose.”

“Really?” Charlie blinked.

“I haven’t finished reading it, but—”

“You’ve told me that he used to fancy Harry’s mother, yeah?”

“Yeah.” There was a lot I couldn’t say, like how Harry had expected Snape to give up on his mother after keeping him alive, and about my conversation with Raven about her feelings. I read on to myself, glancing up to make sure Charlie couldn’t see.

…I’m not sure how much you care, considering your relationship with Severus, but I suppose my point is that he’s getting better. When you see him again, you wouldn’t recognize him. Sure, he still prefers to wear black, but he’s not nearly as irritable, and he almost seems more human now.

I think they’ve—Raven and Severus—struggled with seeing each other as their second choices, but they’re more than that, I think. You’d understand.

I looked up at Charlie, who had opened up the paper. I studied his strong shoulders, his blue eyes, his calculated but open expression. I leaned forward and tugged him closer so we could kiss.

After we pulled away, he asked, smiling a bit, “What was that for?”

“I love you, that’s all.”

Charlie squeezed my hand, then kissed me on the forehead and rested back in his seat.

I continued to read, If you ever wanted to amend things between you and Severus, now might be a good time. But only if you’re ready, otherwise it’d just make things worse. I could be there, if you preferred. If you found a way to at least be on civil terms, it would make everything I went through more meaningful.

I read the rest of the letter, which was roughly the same as what Hermione wrote, asking me to come back, then looked up at Charlie. “I think I’m going to spend a week at the Ministry.”

11 December, 1999 18:06

I looked up from my desk, then at the time. It was over an hour past five, and Raven and Snape were packing up their things to leave. Raven touched Snape’s arm lightly after wishing us a good evening, and they disappeared into the corridor.

“So what about them, then?” I asked Remus, once they’d left.

The corner of Remus’ mouth twitched, but he kept his composure. “Tonks says they’re not living together. But they’re in a relationship.”

I wanted to laugh, but the bitterness I felt toward them stifled any humor I might’ve felt. Everything worked out for Raven, despite her gambling Remus away, eventually trusting in destiny.

Remus sat back in his chair, eying me. “What is it? Look, you should act normal around them. With me, you can joke about it, but it’s hard for Raven, and I’m sure it is for Severus, too.”

I wanted to roll my eyes, but refrained. “Sure. Anyhow, how’s Teddy?”

Remus’ eyes flashed with annoyance. “He’s fine. But do you mean recently, or since he’s existed? You’ve never cared to ask before, so we’d have over a year of catching up to do.”

Startled, I held Remus’ gaze until he grew uncomfortable and averted his eyes. I searched for something to say. “Remus, I’m sorry, it’s just hard, because—because I still—” I cut myself short as Tonks entered the room.

Remus turned around, carefully, to face Tonks, who chatted in excitement about the day’s court ruling. His expression was hidden enough so she didn’t detect anything, but I could still tell he understood what I was going to say. And he resented me for it.

12 December, 1999 17:42

“Christ, Severus, why have you still got such a hatred for him?”

I stopped outside the door, leaning closer to hear what Raven and Snape were saying.

“Draco and Harry have come to terms with everything, and he was just as cruel to him, especially considering Harry didn’t retaliate.”

Snape—presumably it was Snape—growled in response with something that sounded like, “Not the same.”

“Still, can’t you move on? Wouldn’t you have wanted that from the people in your life, for them to look beyond your past? Do the same for Sirius, he deserves it as much as you do.”

There was a long pause, and I was just about to leave, thinking the conversation over, when the door opened and Snape stood in front of me, glowering. “I knew it. Couldn’t help listening in, could you?”

“I hadn’t planned on it—” I began, but Raven’s appearance around the door interrupted me.

“I’m going to settle this,” she said, managing to guide us both into the room.

Rather than wanting to talk it through, I said, “Fine. Snape, I forgive you for betraying James and Lily. My best friends.” My voice began to rise. “I’ll also forgive you for being such a prick to Harry and every other student who had the pleasure of having you as a professor.”

“How very generous of you,” Snape hissed. “And seeing as you want to be the bigger person here, I’ll forgive you for attempting to make my life miserable, for trusting the fool Pettigrew with Lily’s life, for overlooking everything I have sacrificed for the Order and Harry. I have done more for both than you ever had.”

We both glared at each other before Raven said, “Right, well, before you quibble over who’s the better person, can I remind you both that the war is over thanks to both of your efforts. Both of you had awful childhoods and both of you have made mistakes. There’s no point in measuring up against each other, because it’s impossible to judge either of you as more or less deserving of forgiveness. Or anyone in the Order as more or less deserving.” She looked between us to make sure we were listening. “You have to assume that you can’t understand the choices of another person.” Speaking to me now, she added, “Harry would want things to to be right between you two, so it would mean a lot if you tried.”

Painfully aware of everything I could say to Snape, I managed a nod vaguely in his direction. “I hope it’s obvious that if we’re going to be on speaking terms, you can’t call me poofer behind my back.”

A twinge at the corner of Snape’s mouth betrayed his triumphant bemusement. “Simply making up for lost time. If I had known what you were when we were children, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so miserable.”

I scoffed. “If you had known I was having sex when you weren’t, that would have made you feel better about yourself?”

I had hit a nerve. Raven fidgeted, watching Snape in case he made a move for me. There was the unspoken understanding that Snape hadn’t had sex before Raven, and for the first time I felt more uncomfortable than proud.

Raven looked at Snape. “Give us a minute?”

Snape’s jaw tightened. The emotions running across his features took me by surprise; I was used to him taking my comments with a sneer, a glare, his expression unchanging. He swept out of the room.

Raven rubbed her temple. “Sirius, obviously I’m not objective about this. And I’m not going to tell you anything that would violate his trust.”

“Alright.”

She stepped closer to me, voice lowered. “Has Harry told you about his father? Why he’s been involved in child abuse legislation?”

I nodded, trying to seem bored.

“Well, that’s affected more aspects of his life than solely his attitude about you. So you have to stop assuming that he would’ve found it as easy as you to make the right choices, to fit into society, because if it had been as easy, he wouldn’t have made the wrong choices, been an outcast. It may help you feel better about yourself to see him as a wholly unlikable person, but you can’t rely on Severus to inflate your ego.” Realizing how cold her tone had become, Raven smiled slightly. “He can’t learn empathy if no one shows him empathy. I can’t do it alone, you know.” She held my gaze, imploring me, then went to the door and peered round. After what I presumed was several seconds of wordless negotiation, Snape returned, composed somewhat.

“Let’s try this again, alright?” Raven turned to me, shoulders sagging in exasperation. “Be honest with me, what’s preventing you from being civil with Severus?”

I was still jarred by our conversation, but after collecting myself, I replied, “He betrayed James and Lily. Though I can go on for hours—”

“Just that, for now,” she interrupted. “And you, Severus?”

“He tried to kill me,” he said evenly.

“That’s—” I began, then caught myself. The truth was embarrassing, and Snape could easily use it against me later. “I didn’t try to kill you for no reason.”

Snape scoffed. “I am sure you believe you had cause to kill me, but we may be in disagreement over the legitimacy of your reason.”

I shook my head. “You saw James and I, er, together.”

“Together?” The smirk threatened to return.

“Kissing, okay? And you threatened to tell the school unless I showed you where Remus went every month, and I didn’t want you to know the truth about either, so I planned to kill you. If everyone knew, my life—it would’ve been over. It seemed rational to kill you because it seemed so damned easy. But after James saved you, Remus erased your memory about the kiss.”

Snape mulled this over, and slowly something dawned on him. “Was James a poofer, too?”

Raven flinched as Snape said “poofer.” At first, I thought she was sensitive to the slur, but the hurt went beyond that. And in seeing again the hope in Snape’s eyes, I realized he wanted evidence that James and Lily to be wrong for each other. Raven wanted him to stop wondering “what if.”

“He wasn’t. He was just fu—messing around.” I suddenly wondered if Raven had told Snape about me and Remus, and if I should feel violated if she had.

Snape nodded, not looking at either of us. “I haven’t a simple explanation for why I told the Dark Lord the prophecy. Obviously, I had no idea it meant Lily’s son, or I never would have…It could have been Neville Longbottom, you know. The prophecy was meant for either of them, but the Dark Lord chose Harry…Longbottom was a constant reminder that if he had been chosen, Lily would be alive. I resented him for that. But my resentment was…misplaced. It was myself I resented.” Snape had seemed to forget that Raven and I were listening. “I found every reason to hate students. Either they reminded me of myself at their age, or they were reminders of what I was not.” He looked up at Raven. “It was no way to live.” He forced his gaze away from her to me. “I have dedicated the past eighteen years of my life to making up for the choices I made. I can never change what harm I caused. But…” He struggled to think of what to say to end his thoughts.

“Harry changed what you did. He showed it was possible.” I shifted on my feet. “So, there’s that.”

Severus looked at me in surprise. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Raven beaming, and cleared his throat.

“I doubt we’ll ever be friends,” I said.

Severus raised an eyebrow. “I hope not.”

“But I think I can put aside the past—without forgetting it, mind—as long as you agree to do the same.”

Severus relaxed a bit, smug that I caved first. “Fine.” He extended a hand to me.

I shook it, only able to oblige because I’d numbed myself to the reality. We hadn’t really resolved things, and there’d probably always be an awkwardness between us, but I was no longer instinctively inclined to be hostile.

13 December, 1999 11:48

“Remus Lupin, I am arresting you on suspicion of illegally distributing magical remedies in violation of IUMO Law Three. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.” The officer magically locked Remus’ hands behind his back.

I stood and hurried over. “Oy, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Step aside, Black.”

“Sirius—” Remus began, before they forced him forward.

I grabbed one of the officers’ arms. “No, look, Remus helped with the war. You can’t—”

They drew their wands. One glared at me as if to dare me to go further. “I advise you to stand back, or we’ll be forced to take you into custody.”

I gritted my teeth and put my hands up. “Alright. Okay.”

“Remus!” Tonks ran into the room. “What’s going on?”

“It’s going to be okay. Tell Teddy I love him. And I love you, too.” Remus looked as though he’d aged fifteen years.

“What?” Tonks said weakly.

“I’m sorry, Nymphadora.”

Tonks’ hair went white. He wouldn’t have used her full name if everything was going to be okay.

After they had left the room, she turned to me. “What the hell happened?”

“I honestly—I don’t know.”

“You need to look up the law they cited,” said Severus from his desk. He had hardly looked up through the entire ordeal.

I glanced at him. “Sure.”

He cocked his eyebrow at me. He wasn’t even trying to seem like he cared, but before my anger could boil over, Raven rushed in from where Remus had left.

“What’s Remus done? They were taking him away, they wouldn’t let me—”

“They arrested him.”

“Did they say why?” Raven’s surprise seemed to be more that they caught him than that he would commit a crime.

“Do you have an idea?”

Raven waved her hands helplessly. “I didn’t think much of it at the time, but—well, we started seeing each other after he worked for this company. He never gave me the name. He didn’t talk about it much. But he implied the work wasn’t legal. I didn’t think it was something so extreme that—” Her composure broke, and she had to stop talking.

“Law Three of the Improper Use of Magic Office…”

We jumped; we hadn’t noticed Severus come up behind us.

“…was adapted from the Wizards’ Council law created in response to the Great Plague…here is the part that concerns magical remedies: ‘No member of the wizarding community in Great Britain, by marriage or other association, may distribute a magical remedy to a non-magical person outside of the wizarding community without the express permission of the Wizengamot. Permission may be granted in the instance of a 2/3 majority vote in favor of the distribution.’” Severus scanned the pages. “If he was just a smuggler, nothing more, he will likely get a ten-year sentence and a 5,000 galleon fine. If he had more influence, the maximum sentence is forty years.”

Tonks shook her head, face now as pale as her hair. “No. They have to make an exception, for Christ’s sake! Kingsley has to see…”

Raven pulled Tonks into a hug and helped her to a chair.

Severus offered me the book, not directly looking at me.

I nodded, then, hands trembling, began to study.

9 April, 2002 13:28

Sirius—

I’m visiting Remus this weekend. You haven’t seen him since the trial ended (over a year ago, if you’ve lost track), so I thought you should come with me. And don’t give me a work excuse again, I know your schedule is flexible. Dragons don’t run on a timetable.

I don’t know if you’re angry with Remus for not telling you, or if you think he doesn’t want to see you, or whatever, but at the very least you should write him. He could be dead, if I hadn’t changed the timeline, so you should make the most of him being alive. If his imprisonment depresses you, just imagine how he feels: five years in a cell without his family. You should be able to relate.

Hope to hear back from you soon,

Harry

I rested my head in my hands, then, blinking rapidly, took out a quill and parchment and wrote a reply.

Dear Harry,

I don’t want to let you down, but I can’t see him. I know you can’t understand, but I’ll try to explain, because I don’t want you to ask again. Remus should focus on Tonks and Teddy. I’m just a distraction. Seeing him would make things harder for both of us, given our past. I don’t want to confuse him.

I tried to think of something else to say. I wanted to tell him—someone—that seeing Remus would undoubtedly stir up feelings I’ve tried to repress, but saying or writing it would only make it harder to ignore.

18 November, 2003 20:05

Charlie laughed as I struggled to prop myself on either side over him. “You’ve had a bit too much to drink, I think.”

“Oh, I agree. You know how I can tell?”

Charlie pulled me closer. “How?”

“Wine makes you look much hotter.” I held his hands down on the mattress.

“Is that so?” He brushed his lips on mine, teasing. “I wish that worked on you. Actually, no; then I’d be an alcoholic.”

“Take that back,” I whispered.

Charlie looked into my eyes. “Make me.”

Just as I leaned in to kiss him, there was a knock at the door.

I groaned and was about to get up when the door opened. I pulled the sheets over myself. “We’re not decent.”

The candles in the room lit up, and I could see it was Harry who stood in the doorway.

I couldn’t help laughing as Charlie rolled out from under me. “Sorry, Harry. You know about the birds and the bees, don’t you? Or the bees and the bees?”

Charlie giggled. “Course he does, he’s got a kid, doesn’t he?”

“You both need to come back.” Harry’s voice shook. “Tonks is dead.”

My heart stopped. “What?”

“The—the Office was attacked. Mad-Eye and Frank were killed, too—” Harry couldn’t continue; the events seemed to finally process.

Charlie blanched. “What about my family?” When Harry couldn’t answer, Charlie glanced at me.

I lowered my voice. “Let’s pack first.” We got dressed, then summoned all our things into our suitcases.

Charlie wrote a quick note in case anyone stopped by and left it on the desk.

When we turned to Harry, ready to go, he said, “Charlie, your family’s okay. Only Angelina and your father were there at the time. Most people were on other assignments—they must’ve known Severus wasn’t there, or else they wouldn’t have dared…It all—it all happened so quickly—”

I had trouble keeping up. “When did it happen?”

“As soon as the Ministry sent a team down to reinforce the protection spells, I came here. An hour ago, maybe.”

I couldn’t bring myself to ask about Remus, but Harry offered the information anyway.

“Remus is still in prison. I think he knows by now. Andromeda is taking Teddy there next.”

I nodded. “I’ll go with you.”

Harry hesitated. “I don’t think you should, not yet.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not great timing, don’t you think? And you’re drunk.”

I bristled. “He’d want to feel like he hasn’t lost everyone he cares about!”

“He has lost you! I get why you didn’t want to be around at first, but…you made your decision and you can’t suddenly come back into his life now that—”

“Now that what?”

Harry’s resolve broke. “Never mind.”

“I’ve moved on, Harry. I’m going to see him.”

Harry searched Charlie for a reaction, then huffed and led us to the fireplace.

After about thirty minutes of hopping from fireplace to fireplace, Apparating when possible, we reached the Weasley’s.

I hung back, a bit uncomfortable at the amount of sobbing and hugging. What Harry said about me being absent the past five years was true, and I could feel the same judgment from everyone in the room.

“Sirius, hello,” Raven said, hugging me briefly. Her makeup was smudged, and her eyes were red. “It’s been a while.”

I couldn’t help loathing her and her genuine anguish. Somehow it had been easy enough for her to move past her feelings that she could be best friends with Tonks and remain a part of their lives.

She wrinkled her brow. “What’s with you?”

“I’m a bit pissed.” I blinked, trying to focus. “Anyway, I’m sorry for your loss.”

Raven pressed her lips together and nodded, about to cry again.

I opened my arms, and she accepted. While she sobbed, I patted her hair awkwardly, waiting until she recovered before I asked, “Where’s Snape—er, Severus?”

“He—he and a couple others went to track the extremists down…we think they were from the WRO—Wizard Rights Organization. They’re against equality for centaurs and werewolves especially. They’ve threatened us before, told us to stop, but other than increasing security, we didn’t do anything…”

Others had trickled into the Weasley’s, speaking in whispers, some looking to or for comfort, some planning to join the hunt for the perpetrators.

Harry motioned me over. “We’re next to go visit Teddy and Remus. Andromeda told Remus already, but she’s waiting to tell Teddy. But he and I are close, so I thought I could help…” Harry teared up again.

“Why wouldn’t Remus tell him?”

“Teddy only knows Remus from his monthly visits.” Harry bit his lip, then exhaled, breath shaking. “Since the arrest, I’ve told myself it’s better than if Remus were dead. But now that Tonks died anyway, I—now I’m not sure. And I—maybe I fucked things up. I tried to—to make—to make things better, but—but…” He could no longer speak, sobs flowing in full force.

“It’s alright.” I held Harry tightly. His and Raven’s emotions were wearing me down. “You tried. It’s still better than it would’ve been. Teddy got to know his mother. You can’t ask for much else.” All Harry could do was nod. I rubbed his back a little, then pulled away. “Alright. C’mon, we’ve got to be strong for Remus and Teddy.”

We walked a couple rooms down to the fireplace. Harry grabbed some Floo Powder and tossed it in, entered the flames, then said, “Shatome Visitor Center,” and was gone. I followed.

I hadn’t visited Remus since he was first imprisoned. I had only seen Teddy a couple times since then, too. I convinced myself he didn’t want me to be in Teddy’s life, or to see me, but I doubted I was right. Still, I hadn’t even helped with his case—Snape had done more than I had.

Kingsley Shacklebolt met us outside the fireplace. “I’ve just met with the Wizengamot. They are considering a full pardon to Remus in light of what’s happened, and considering that the laws are being reformed, his sentence could be appealed. Of course they would only change things when the public expects to see mercy and government initiative.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “I am sorry to you both. I knew there was resistance to the reforms, but this is despicable. We should have found a way to shut down those bloody organizations before something like this happened.”

“At least they went down fighting.”

“You’re right.” Kingsley noticed our attention had shifted and looked behind him. “Ah, Andromeda, Ted. How is…?” He was cut off as he realized they were in tears.

I shuffled uncomfortably. I couldn’t handle much more of this. Harry had lost it again beside me; it was clear going through her death again was too hard for him. At least he wouldn’t have enough energy to start another row with me about not being around.

Once Harry had recovered, Kingsley led me and Harry down the hallway to a small room—there were Remus and Teddy.

“Remus…” There was so much I wanted to say, but Remus simply shook his head, even more tired than when I’d seen him on the day of his arrest. He opened his arms to Harry, who accepted.

Teddy could tell something was wrong, his lower lip jutting out, looking between us, but he didn’t cry.

After a long embrace, Remus let go of Harry. Barely turning to me, he said, “Sirius, you should go.”

“What? But—”

“Get out.” He was shaking, rage and despair racking him in waves.

I glanced at Harry, who looked away, then grit my teeth and left.

Seeing Remus was like seeing a ghost of my entire existence. I had cut him out of my life and needed to maintain that division. If I couldn’t be around him when he had a wife and kid, how could I deserve to be around him at all? I shouldn’t have come. I shouldn’t have thought he would forgive me.

2 January, 2004 18:26

“Charlie, can we talk?”

“Sure, what about?”

I realized, studying his pleasantly blank expression, that he had no idea what I was about to say. My confidence wavered. What if I was throwing my only shot at happiness away? Or Charlie’s only shot?

“Can you sit down?” I asked him, and sat on the couch.

“Course.” Charlie studied me, now aware that something was wrong.

I took a deep breath, and found that I was shaking. “Charlie, I love you. And there’s a part of me that will always care for you, but I think—I think it’s unfair to you for me to be with you when—when there’s someone else I care about, who I’ve cared about since probably my first year at Hogwarts.”

The freckles on his face stood out against the white of shock. I waited for him to say something, but he remained silent.

“I didn’t plan on loving—on fancying—Remus for this long. I didn’t plan that you’d be my way of moving on, it just happened. Timing’s a bitch. Don’t think I was only with you to move on from Remus, it was more than that—”

“You lied to me,” Charlie interjected. He was shaking his head, disbelieving. “You said there was nothing between you two. And now that Tonks has died…?”

“I didn’t ever make it a big deal because I didn’t want to hurt you. Remus was out of the picture, and finding someone new, however unlikely, seemed healthy.”

“Healthy for you.” Charlie rubbed his temple with his hand. “I need some time to think. Just—just come back tonight, we can talk then.”

I placed a hand on Charlie’s shoulder, drawing it away almost immediately; my touch had made him flinch. I knew, Disapparating from the flat, that our relationship of five years was over, and the damage was permanent.

20 March, 2004 21:30

“Dear Sirius,

It’s been too long. I hear you’ve moved, that’s great that you can have a fresh start. I understand.”

My fingers shook. I looked around for a quill before continuing to read—

“When you’ve settled in, I’d like to—”

I noticed the “like” was spaced awkwardly. I took out my wand and tapped the word. “Like” dissolved away to “love.”

“When you’ve settled in, I’d love to see the place. Send me your address, brew me a cuppa, and I’ll be over.”

—Remus

I summoned a mouse for Remus’ owl, then wrote a quick reply on the back of his letter:

“Saturday, 4 pm, Latchmere Road, London SW11. Look for the blue house, only wizarding folk can see the color (there’s a pocket of homes for the Ministry) buzz in for number 8.”

I sent the owl back with my reply, then surveyed the room. If I hadn’t had motivation to unpack before, I had it now.

Remus and I hadn’t spoken one on one, alone, since before he was imprisoned. It struck me how ironic that was, considering we had been in the same position before.

After only unpacking one box, the buzzer sounded, directing the image of the person on the housing unit’s doorstep to number eight. I walked to my door and looked in the Visitor Revealer.

It was Remus. My stomach dropped and I hurried out of my room, down the corridor, then opened the front door.

At the sight of me, Remus sighed with relief. “Sorry for coming over unannounced. Can I come in?”

“Er, sure. Did something happen?”

Remus didn’t answer directly, just slipped off his jacket and said, “I need a drink.”

“That bad?”

“Usually I have work to distract me. But that could only last so long. I had a lot to catch up on, but I finished yesterday. And I’ve been thinking—I want you to help me with werewolf policy. Raven and Hermione have been spearheading it since I was imprisoned, and they’ve come along way, but you and I could finish it.”

“I’m not interested in policy. But I’d love—I’d like to help with any field missions.”

“That’s fine. Er, brilliant.” Remus looked around the room, a little awkwardly. “So you aren’t going back to Romania, then? You’re settling down?”

“I ended things with Charlie, so no, I’m not.” I studied him. “You don’t seem surprised.”

Remus cleared his throat. “I heard about it at work. It ended badly, then? I don’t meant to—”

“I left him for you.”

Remus started and glared at me. “So you think because Tonks died and you left Charlie, we can be together?”

“No—”

Remus scoffed. “Of course. You were waiting for something like this to happen. You’re glad she’s dead.”

“Don’t be an idiot. I wish—I wish it could’ve gone one way or the other. I wish I hadn’t gone to Azkaban. Then we could’ve been together from the start. But because I did go to Azkaban, I wish you could’ve ended up with Tonks, and I could’ve stayed with Charlie. I don’t want everything to seem pointless, our actions meaningless, because we ended up where we started.”

“She wasn’t meaningless to me. Teddy isn’t meaningless to me.” He looked away. “Fuck you, Sirius.”

“Just listen to me! I didn’t—”

“Tonks wasn’t supposed to die. Don’t reduce her to some obstacle in our relationship.”

I shivered at the cold fury in his eyes. “That’s not what I mean. She was good for you, but—”

“What ‘but’? I loved her, I was happy, we were happy, and if you don’t get that, then—it makes me wonder if you were with Charlie just to get back at me.”

I shook my head, frustrated that I couldn’t get through to him. “That’s not—you don’t understand—I loved him, too.”

“Then why have you never understood why Tonks and I were together? You’re so fucking selfish, you never cared that I was happy, just that you and I weren’t—”

“Fine! Is it such a bloody crime to be selfish? I thought being with Charlie would help me move on, but clearly you want to see it as a desperate attempt to get even!”

I hadn’t realized how much our argument had escalated; I had Remus nearly backed up against the china cabinet.

He lowered his voice to a whisper. “And wasn’t it?”

I didn’t answer, too distracted by how close we were.

Then Remus grabbed my collar and kissed me.

I had snapped out of my shock and started to reciprocate when he pulled away, let me go, and Disapparated.

I lay awake that night, trying not to think…Usually not thinking came naturally to me.

Did Remus’ sudden appearance mean he wanted to be with me? And if he still didn't know what to choose, how could I convince him? His main issue was assuming he shouldn't have been with Tonks. He blamed himself for her death and all he could really do at this point was move on. Her death was random, not calculated to spite him, and—well, I considered if I should tell him—she died in the previous timeline, too. They had both been living on borrowed time.

I could start by telling him about Harry and the Time-Turner, but doing so would risk him losing it.

I closed my eyes and imagined Remus sneaking into the room, sliding under the covers and, as I waited with bated breath, tugging off my trousers, and…

I snapped awake, confused that the night had already passed. What happened in my dream…? I looked down. Oh.

I grabbed my wand to diffuse my erection and sat up, waiting for my head to clear. The passion was gone, and I felt hollow. I know I had it better than in the original timeline, but I couldn't help feeling dissatisfied.

I spent the rest of the day unpacking, waiting, thinking. Would he come back? What made him decide he wanted to see me, was it lust, or love, or the need to be comforted? Would this just be a phase to get over Tonks, or had he realized he wanted to be with me?

And if he wanted to be with me, I would come out. I wouldn’t hide our relationship, and maybe I’d grow to want people to know, to be jealous of what we had. At this, I imagined us together, and although I usually got off on sneaking around, there was something new in being unabashed, public. If that was what Remus wanted, I should handle it; enjoy it, even. I just wanted to be with him for the rest of my life.

I spent the evening sleeping, checking the Visitor Revealer every now and then in case Remus came back. When night arrived, I was no longer tired, so I took a bath, tidied up, caught up on the Daily Prophet. At half past two in the morning, I had a prickling instinct to check the Visitor Revealer.

Remus was pacing back and forth at the door, running his hands through his hair, clearly distressed. I hesitated, then buzzed him in. I didn’t meet him at the front door, instead I opened the door to my flat and waited.

He entered carefully, closing the door behind himself. “Sorry for coming by so late.”

I shrugged, not trusting myself to speak. I had no idea what he meant to do.

“I’m sorry I kissed you. I shouldn’t have.”

“Why not?” I asked, quiet.

Remus mumbled something, then cleared his throat and said louder, “It wasn’t meant to work between us.”

I looked at him. “Have you come back for me to convince you otherwise?”

Remus swallowed. “I don’t know. I don’t want you to be right.” He pressed his lips together, waiting for me to say something.

“Right about what? That we were meant for each other?”

“If we were meant for each other, then I wasn’t meant for Tonks.”

I didn’t reply at first, then took a step closer. “To hell with this ‘first choice’ shit. That’s what it is, it’s shit. We’ve been making it an issue for too long. When I was six, I had my first crush on a boy. I didn’t realize it until later, but that’s what it was. He seemed perfect at the time. If I had remained as that six-year-old, if I were still the same brainwashed little boy I was back then, I could call him that. My first choice. But I’m not the same person. He’s not, either.”

Remus was staring at me with such an angry intensity that I had to collect myself before continuing.

“Anyhow…with James, I was just fooling myself. And I don’t say that to feel sorry for myself; I wanted a version of James that I had invented. The James I wanted never really existed. He wasn’t on the verge of fancying men, he didn’t know me better than I know myself, I…I just wanted to believe those things, so that’s what I saw. I kept telling myself, if only he were this, or if only I had done this…but that shouldn’t make him my first choice. That was the problem, it was my idea of what my ‘first choice’ meant. Because what if my first choice changed? Would that make it less meaningful than some teenage fantasy?”

Remus shifted his head, almost as if he wanted to say no, but was too transfixed.

“Tonks may have been your first choice for a while. Raven, too. Just because now we’re meant for each other doesn’t mean at some point, you weren’t meant for them. But you can’t deny how we felt something from the first night we knew each other. I know I did. So that’s why I’m calling bullshit on my ‘first choice.’ You’re my first choice, Remus. I want you. I love you.”

Remus’ composure broke and crossed to me. There was a brief pause as we stared at each other, chests swelling, before we kissed, slowly. When Remus pulled away, he said, “I love you, too.” He took in my expression, then went to the kitchen table and sat down heavily.

A bit confused, I sat down beside him.

Remus glanced up and took my hand. Taking in a deep breath to steady himself, he asked, “Would you marry me?”

My arms tingled with shock, and it was difficult to breathe. “I don’t know, is that—are you asking?”

“Teddy needs you to be a father to him, not just a boyfriend. And before you say there would be no difference, know that though there’s not a difference to us, but there will be in everyone else’s eyes. I know I tend not to care, or say I don’t care about everyone else, but I don’t want people thinking we’re just casual, or that we’re just—we’re—”

“Fuckbuddies? I don’t want that either.”

We stared at each other, my breath caught in my throat. Then I said, “Remus, I want to be with you. I love you. I love you more than I thought possible.”

Remus’ eyes were red-rimmed, but I knew by the weightlessness in his movements that he was as purely, completely happy as I was.

We stood, and he pulled me into his arms. Waves of relief and excitement passing between each other, we kissed again, finally secure in our future.

21 July, 2007 11:26

“Disgusting.”

“I thought the Ministry was better than this.”

“Apparently not,” I said, throwing the paper down onto the table.

“When the Muggles passed the Equality Act Regulations in last year, you remember what I said, don’t you?”

“I remember we both knew it was only a matter of time—”

“…before the Ministry did the same, and clearly we were wrong.”

Teddy stepped cautiously out into the kitchen, eyes wide.

“Teddy.” Remus glanced at me before saying, “Teddy, I’m sorry if we scared you. It’s just that—we’ve told you it’s okay for two men to be together like your father and I, haven’t we?”

“What about two women?” Teddy asked, and when he noticed me smile, he giggled.

“Yes, two women, of course.”

Remus bent down so he and Teddy were at eye level. Teddy immediately became solemn, attentive. Remus touched Teddy’s cheek, lightly. “I want to make this very clear, Teddy. There is no reason for someone to be judged as bad if they have feelings for boys, or girls, or both boys and girls. They’ve no reason to be made fun of, not by their friends, or the Ministry, or anyone. I can’t explain it very clearly to you yet, but know that there are people who disagree with us. You have to ignore the mean people and be true to yourself.”

Teddy nodded. “Okay. Are you mad at me?”

I glanced at Remus. “Of course not. We want life to be better for you and your generation, so we’re working to fix what we don’t think is right.”

As Remus hugged Teddy, I had the oddest sense of déjà vu.

Conclusion:

1 September, 2017 10:42

The platform bustled with emotional parents, impatient students, a cacophony of animal sounds, and short squeals of little siblings.

Remus and I were disoriented at first, and tried to find anchor in a familiar face, but it seemed the Weasleys and Potters had not yet arrived.

“Hello, Sirius, Remus.”

We turned. Dean and Seamus stood together, a bit shyly, which made them appear much younger than they were. “Good morning.”

Remus grinned at the girl who stood between them. “Is this Lucia?”

In response, she beamed up at us and extended her hand.

After we had passed the Wizarding Equality Act in 2012, letters of thanks had poured in from the QW—Queer Wizards and Witches—community who now enjoyed the same rights as everyone else. One of those rights included adoption rights for QW couples. Dean and Seamus were one of the first couples to adopt under the new laws, and had written from their home in Scotland to thank us.

“Lovely to meet you, Lucia.”

“Dads say you’re the reason they could have me,” she said simply. “Thank you.”

“We’re just glad we could help. It’s lovely to meet you, Lucia.” Remus straightened and nodded to Dean and Seamus as they left to talk to a couple that was vaguely familiar—an athletic-looking man with brown hair and gray eyes, and his wife, who I remembered Harry mentioning as someone he fancied in the original timeline. Cho?

Raven came up to us, breaking my thoughts.

“Remus, Sirius, how was Brazil?” Raven pulled us each into a hug.

“Beautiful. And a bit sad, with Teddy moving out the next week and all.”

I looked around for Teddy. “They’re very independent, though, so we don’t worry about them much.”

You don’t worry about them much,” Remus corrected.

“So it’s still ‘they,’ then, not ‘he’ or ‘she’…?” Raven asked, following my gaze.

“Right. Apparently it’s common with Metamorphmagi to not identify with a particular gender. I still don’t understand it much, but Teddy bogs—or is it blogs?—about it on the Internet, and we’ve read some of their pieces.”

Before we had a chance to lament about the sudden prevalence of the labyrinth known as the Internet, Severus and Themis joined us.

“Hi, Remus, Sirius,” Themis said, smiling. She was much more self-assured since the last time I’d seen her in June, brown eyes sharp, springy coils of hair bobbing slightly as she moved her head. Her eyes flickered to our clasped hands, then back up. “I thought you might want to know, I just saw—”

“Sirius! Remus! Teddy, they’re—” James Albus Potter appeared beside Themis, breathless. “Guess who I just saw snogging behind one of the columns over there?” He pointed, eyes wide. “Teddy and Victoire!”

“Really?” My eyebrows shot up. “Victoire, as in Bill’s daughter?”

James rolled his eyes, sighing heavily. “Yes, what other Victoire do you know? They’re snogging my cousin!” He looked between us. “Haven’t you heard what I said?”

I lowered my voice. “Teddy with Charlie’s niece. Now, that would be an interesting match.”

It was Remus’ turn to roll his eyes. “C’mon, they were only snogging.”

James fidgeted impatiently. “I’m going to find someone who cares. My parents, for example.” He ran off.

“Was Prongs really like that at fourteen?” I asked Remus, grinning.

Raven answered before I could. “This James is much more well-intentioned. Leonora, on the other hand, reminds me of him.”

Themis lifted her chin. “Leonora is always in trouble. Roxanne says Leonora, Roger, and Cyrus—this fifth year Gryffindor—stay out most of the night, they pull pranks…”

“She and Roxanne are close friends,” Raven explained to us.

“We’re more than friends, mum.” Her eyes widened, realizing how that sounded. “I mean, we’re best friends.”

Raven and Severus exchanged a small smile.

“Hello,” Harry joined our small circle, arms outstretched.

“Harry!” I embraced him, laughing a bit.

He hugged each of us in turn—Remus, Raven, Themis, and Severus—then stepped a bit back to make room for Jacob and Lily to join the group.

“You excited for your first year at Hogwarts?” I asked Jacob.

He nodded. “I want to know what house I’ll be sorted into. James says I’d be sorted into Ravenclaw or Slytherin, but I’m not so sure.”

“Any house would be lucky to have you,” Remus said.

Raven smiled at Jacob. “And you know you’ll have friends already in any of the houses. Gryffindor, there’s Hugo, James, Roger…Hufflepuff, there’s Harriet, and Pandora—”

At the mention of Neville and Luna’s daughter Pandora, Jacob flushed. “I know. I’ve talked with Pandora about everything, and she says people don’t care about Houses so much, it’s easy to have friends outside of your own house.”

Themis nodded. “Roxanne is Gryffindor, like George and Angelina, and I’m Slytherin like Dad, but it doesn’t matter, we’re still best mates.”

“Lily!” Two voices called in unison from across the platform. We turned to see twins Nymphadora and Rose racing to Lily, weaving between passerby. Behind them, Ron, Hermione, and Hugo walked more slowly, mother and son watching them nearly collide with luggage with a mixture of concern and disdain, father with amusement.

“Good morning,” Hugo greeted everyone.

“Did you see Scorpius?” Nymphadora chirped to Lily. “He’s so cute.”

“Ew!” Rose exclaimed. “He’s all weird and pale!”

They were making a scene, pointing and giggling, so Draco, his wife Astoria, and Scorpius all looked over.

Once they realized what was happening, Astoria leaned closer to Draco to hide her laugh. Draco looked to Harry and smiled briefly before they continued to move along.

“Hey, I see Pandora!” Jacob pointed at one of the carriage windows. “Can I go now, Mum, Dad? I don’t want it to get full.”

We gave them space to say their goodbyes, observing the last students to board the Hogwarts Express with a mingled sense of nostalgia for when life was simpler and a sense of peace at the happiness of the families.

“I wonder how much is different now because of Harry.”

I looked at Remus. He usually tried not to speculate on what could’ve been, even insisting at times that I take away his memory of me telling him about the timelines. I put my arm around him and kissed him on the cheek. “You and I wouldn’t be together, for one.”

“It won’t be enough,” Remus said quietly, averting his gaze. “We have ten years left, if even that.”

“Merlin, you’re dark today.” Despite my effort to make light of what he said, chills spread through me.

Remus sighed. “The full moon is five days away and I can tell—it’s just getting harder, is all. I can tell.”

I squeezed his hand. “We’ve had nineteen extra years, and for twelve of those years we’ve been together.” I leaned in closer to him. “You’re right, the only thing I would wish for is more time. But you remember what Harry said about the original timeline? He saw us as ghosts. Our souls, they live on.”

Remus shook his head. “They weren’t the same as ghosts. I think they aren’t real, they’re just echoes.” He smiled at Percy and Audrey before continuing. “I suppose I can—I can be alright knowing we made a difference. Our legacy will live on, at least.” He stifled a laugh. “We’d be appalled, as kids, knowing we wouldn’t be remembered as the blokes who ruled Hogwarts. We’ll be the horny gay couple parents warn their children about.”

“You should be excited that Chocolate Frog cards will have a little picture of us fucking instead of sneaking out after hours, hexing Slytherins.”

Remus snorted, then looked around to make sure no children had been within earshot. He hesitated, and I could tell he had become serious again. “Are you going to get on without me?”

I wished desperately to stop talking about death, but knew the subject had been pressing on him. “I’ll go to Nocturne Alley on the weekends—I’ve heard good things about the services there—blow my salary on men in their peak physical shape so I can feel young again…”

“Honestly, though?”

I met his eyes. “I have Teddy and Harry. At first, I’ll probably want to throw myself on an Erumpent horn, but that’ll pass with time.”

After Remus and I Apparated back home, we were cast in silence. I had never felt older than in that conversation, considering our inevitable death and what it would be like to live for decades without Remus.

A choked gasp came from the kitchen. I rushed in, some twisted instinct expecting to find Remus dead.

Trembling, he was staring at the letter in his hand, face pale.

“What is it? What’s happened?”

“A cure.”

“What?”

“The letter’s from Damocles.”

I rushed to his side and read over his shoulder, scanning for a line to clue me in.

… After numerous trials on werewolves who served Voldemort, I have perfected a cure for Lycanthropy. If you are interested...

“Remus, this means—”

“I know. We have more time.” He dropped the letter and embraced me.

As I tightened my arms around him, I felt at peace.

We were one.

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