Harry Potter and the ? (Prisoner of Azkaban)

Acceptance

“Hey, Harry, can I talk to you for a sec?”

Harry looked surprised but pleased as he followed Sirius into the kitchen, where Sirius watched him for a moment with a small smile before beginning “ah, didn’t get a chance to say it earlier in the mess of it all, but you don’t ever have to apologize for hugging me.”

Harry blushed deep crimson and looked about ready to apologize for apologizing, when Sirius laughed and threw an easy arm around him, saying “relax pup. It’s been a long, stressful few days, and I needed it, so thanks.”

Harry was practically wiggling in pleasure at the affection, but still felt the need to explain himself “it’s just, I ah, I don’t ever really remember hugging anyone like that before.”

Sirius really hoped that, even though he couldn’t be there for Harry with a home life he deserved right away, something would give and they’d both get what they wanted, and surely Harry would remember plenty of hugs from Sirius then. With so much practice of late Sirius could almost bat away how heartbreaking that was with hardly any notice, focusing on the here and now as he promised “well like I said, you can do it as often as you like now. Pretty sure your own parents and Remus wouldn’t mind from time to time either.”

Harry couldn’t help but laugh aloud at that.

Lily couldn’t help but smile to herself as she walked up the stairs, the infectious sound of Harry’s laughter bringing a smile to her own face as she moved to open her baby’s room, when she heard something odd from the guest room.

Switching from one doorknob to the other she gave a gentle knock and called “Remus” softly. She got no reply, and feeling a mounting sense of worry she cracked the door open and poked her head inside to find him seemingly passed out on the bed. She felt silly, she’d probably just heard him snore or something, when he made it again. He was curled up on his side and facing the wall, so she couldn’t even properly see him, but then she reflected that Remus normally slept sprawled out so this really wasn’t normal.

She’d never seen him transform before, and couldn’t help but feel even more fear creeping into her, but then she reminded herself James and Sirius were being very clear, she’d even heard a firsthand account of it. Remus wouldn’t transform until the exact time the moon was at its highest peak, and both boys had insisted that wasn’t at least for another few hours’ time.

Bolstering herself, she quickly walked over to his side and placed her hand on his shoulder, shaking it firmly and calling out his name more loudly this time.

“Go away” he grumbled. Despite how exhausted his voice sounded, she detected no hints of sleep from it, so she’d been right and something else was definitely bothering him.

“Not a chance” she replied, sitting down nearly on top of his legs to prove her point.

“You know it’s moments like this I understand why you fell for James back” he groused, tearing the pillow up and throwing it over his head in a further attempt to ignore her even while he spoke. “You act just like him sometimes.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment right now” she responded pleasantly, still watching every inch of him with heightening worry. “You going to tell me what’s wrong, or am I going to have to go get him then you can tell us both.”

He muttered something indistinctly, and then he made that noise she’d heard again, and she finally recognized it as him repressing a sob.

“Oh Remus” she sighed reaching out to place a comforting hand on him, but then he snarled back “don’t” with so much venom her hand froze in place of its own accord.

“Don’t” he repeated, his voice only slightly more restrained. “I can’t stand any more comfort from the lot of you. I can’t ignore them when they come in here later, Merlin knows why they’re still going to bother, just leave Lily.”

She rested her hand on him then anyways, ignoring his jerk of protest. “They are coming in here for the exact same reason I’m not going away until I have to. We’re still your friends Remus, your family, and if watching Sirius these past few days hasn’t proved anything to you then I don’t know what will. We’re not giving up, on either of you.”

He still didn’t respond, and she decided to go with a new tactic, one she’d kept bottled up for far too long. She could well guess that Remus was either still tearing himself up about what he almost did to Harry, or still dwelling on what Peter had done to him. She decided to focus on the second, as she could at least relate to that. “You feel like you should have done something more, fought harder and never let him pull away, but at the same time you keep thinking you’re lucky you’ve found out. At least now you can stop pretending, stop acting like you’ve never noticed all the signs. You hate yourself all the more for thinking it,” Remus finally twitched the pillow off his face and twisted his head around to glance at her “and yet you feel like something’s finally gone and you can breath and see again.”

Remus sat up then, giving her a half suspicious look and trying to hide a smile. “Did you sneak a potion into all of our drinks, you able to read our minds now?”

“No” she told him, now tucking her sons blanket in a little tighter around him. “Just experience.”

It only took a moment before Remus nodded, whispering “guess we were all waiting around for the wrong kind of explosion.” It’s not like they had forgotten Severus and Lily had once been friends, kind of hard to forget that, but it hadn’t really occurred to Remus she must have felt at least some of what they were feeling now. Angry was the only thing that ever really came to mind if he had ever sat around and thought about it, but it wasn’t until now Remus realized that Lily had been through something very similar to this once before. Snape had basically called her out and left her to the sharks when he’d turned on her that day, and as far as any of them knew he’d never looked back. Peter wasn’t the first friend of Lily’s to join the Death Eaters looking for something. He couldn’t help himself though, he fought back with words that spilled out “least you’ve finally admitted who he really was, least you didn’t somehow lose your other friends trust along the way.”

Lily gave him a wane smile now, gently reminding him “as far as you lot are concerned, as Sirius has been oh so happy to remind me every chance he got, I’ve only just admitted yesterday how horrid a person Severus has turned into, I hardly think I can berate anyone for not seeing what’s right in front of them. As for what could possibly have changed in less than a year’s time that we wouldn’t tell you something like that Remus-” she hated the words the moment she’d said them, watching him flinch like she’d just tossed a scalding dagger at him, but pressed on anyways “I can’t say, maybe it was Peter himself. Everybody in this world is terrified, lies and whispers will do terrible things, but that still doesn’t excuse what we did. I’m not asking for your forgiveness, I’m just swearing on my life I’ll not let it happen now.”

“You,” he began in shock, not really sure how she had come to that conclusion “forgive me?” He returned, a real smile lighting him now. “I clearly do something to make you believe it, think I should be the one groveling.”

“We can worry about blame all day love” she reminded gently “or we can fix it. I choose the second.” She didn’t even hesitate to offer him Harry, asking him “would you mind putting him down for me, I’ve been holding him so long my arms are likely to fall off soon.”

He gave her a rouge grin, seeing right through that, but took the baby happily and cradled him for a moment as the two left, Remus going into the room while Lily padded back down the stairs. She could hear Sirius and Harry still talking boisterously in the kitchen, which confused her all the more when she saw her husband still slouched inside the living room, watching the entrance to the kitchen with something like longing on his face. She could almost instantly guess what he was feeling, so she walked over to his side and wrapped her arms tight around him as she whispered “it’s natural what you’re feeling dear.”

“Is that right?” He asked restlessly, his hand coming up to stroke her hair. “You can read my moods now.”

She couldn’t help but giggle at getting asked the same question in such a short amount of time, but said back “you’ve never been very subtle about them” she reminded, peaking up and meeting his eyes.

James sighed as he looked away from her, whispering “I know I should be happy, and I am! Harry’s finally getting the start to a proper family through Sirius. It’s just...” he trailed off with a hard swallow, unable to voice it aloud as it would only feel like another betrayal to his friends.

“It should be you” Lily finished for him.

James winced like she’d just slapped him, but his arms tightened around her all the more. He couldn’t help it though, now that Lily had started it the words spilled out of him like a bursting dam. “Now we’re going to hear about the rest of Harry’s life, and he’s going to make that connection to Sirius he always should have, and it’s going to keep growing. What if, well what if he-” he trailed off pitifully. What if Sirius adopted Harry, which is something they were all praying for to get Harry away from those Dursleys, but then what if Harry forgot about him? That was stupid of course, as Harry had never even known him before now, so there wasn’t anything to forget. He couldn’t have picked a better person for Harry to start looking at as a father but his best friend, but it should have been him.

Lily seemed to understand perfectly though, nodding along and saying “I know dear, it’s the same thing I’ve been thinking since Harry met Molly. The way she takes care of him, I truly wouldn’t be surprised if he grows up thinking of her as his mother, she’s the only comparison he’s ever had and she treats him as such whenever he’s around. I couldn’t be happier he’s found that, but it doesn’t make it fair that it wasn’t us.”

James buried his face in his wife’s hair, the guilt at his brief spike of anger and jealousy at Sirius now combined with the happy peace he had knowing his son would be taken care of leaving him so emotionally drained he was almost happy he’d be spending the night as an animal, it was certainly easier to cope with these things in another body.


Lily finally gets to play the mother and comfort she’d been longing for these past few chapters, kind of sorry it took her so long to get to them, but now most of the bad feelings have been talked out, not erased completely mind you. Lot’s more to come in the next book, the last chapter is the big build up I’ve been promising in showing off Remus’ transformation which should be up in a very short few days, hope you enjoyed!

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