Christmas Day - in the evening, Remus and Harry have a discussion on being loved by Sirius Black.
He sighed and was surprised when a soft chuckle answered the sigh.
"It's hard work being loved by Sirius, isn't it Harry." Harry looked around to see Professor Lupin sitting in a wing chair behind him, a glass of firewhiskey in his hand.
"I didn't see you there, Professor Lupin," he said. "Do you want me to leave you alone?"
"No, Harry. I rather thought that it was time you and I had a talk."
"I also think its time you called me Remus. I'm not your Professor any more, Harry. I wish I was, though."
"Thank you for the books."
This time Remus smiled broadly. "I'm glad you liked them, Harry. It was rather nice to personally give you something off our "Harry's Presents" list at last."
Harry digested this and looked at his former Professor. "What did you mean when you said it's hard to be loved by Sirius?"
"I didn't say that, Harry. I said it's hard work. But then, anything worth having should be the result of hard work. With Sirius though, he's always wanted those he loved to have the best of everything, and he tries so hard to make it the best, that it often backfires," and Lupin chuckled again, this time obviously reminiscing. "Usually spectacularly," he mused.
"I thought it was just ...,"
"No. Sirius has always been like this. You know, he's only really loved four people in his life, Harry. You and I are all that's left of those four."
Harry pondered. "My parents, I suppose, me and you?"
"Not quite. You and I, your father and Sirius' twin, Regulus."
"I thought Regulus was younger. That Sirius disliked him?"
"No. Sirius loved Regulus more than anybody, but they were different people, and in the end it was Sirius' love for Regulus that drove him to become a Death Eater. Regulus just felt he couldn't live up to Sirius' love, and decided to go to the opposite extreme. It broke Sirius' heart. We were all too young, Harry. We hadn't learned then that to make Sirius happy was to just love him back. It's no fluke that his animal form is a dog."
Harry nodded. "He is like a dog isn't he. Boisterous, protective ... ."
"You're missing the essential point, Harry. Sirius is that, and more, but most importantly, he's loyal and he loves unconditionally; and that love never goes away. But it's hard for those he loves. We have to make sure that he doesn't inadvertently hurt himself trying to live up to his own expectations."
"But why's he like that?"
"Muggle medicine calls it bi-polar disorder, or manic depression. He's either all the way up or all the way down. When he's down is when he's dangerous to himself and those around him. That's when he needs constant reassurance and that unconditional love returned." Lupin paused again and took a drink from his glass. "In 1981, I was too proud to let him see how much I loved and needed him. Instead, I let myself think that he found me convenient - because, in spite of having lived with him since we were eleven, having been his lover since we were sixteen, I didn't let myself show him how much I did - do - love him. I can't help thinking that it was all my fault. That if I'd shown just a little of his loyalty, then all our lives would have been different."
"Moony, you shouldn't drink firewhisky. It always makes you maudlin," came a voice from the doorway.
"Evening, Sirius. I thought you were asleep."
"I was, but you left and I got cold. What are you doing up this late, Harry?"
"He's recuperating from you, Paddy."
Sirius came over and flopped down on the hearthrug next to Harry, absentmindedly throwing his arm around his Godson. He grinned at Harry and pocked his tongue out at Lupin. "Harry appreciates my efforts, Moony."
"So do I, Sirius. We just need to recuperate from them. It doesn't mean we don't love you."
Harry smiled as he recognised Prof - no - Remus - doing what he had been telling Harry about. And he also recognised that it wasn't just words. Remus meant every one of them, and his obvious love for Sirius spilled out of his tone. He felt Sirius relax next to him.
"Don't deserve you, Moony. I really don't."
Remus knelt on the rug on the other side of Sirius and put his arms around him. Harry was surprised to see him lift Sirius' face up and kiss him on the lips. "No, Sirius. I don't deserve you. I told you that when I was sixteen, and I'm telling you again now."
Sirius grinned at Harry again. "You day for shocks all round, it would seem," he said amiably. Harry's mouth was open, and his face was a little shocked. "We didn't say anything to you before because we thought you'd noticed."
Harry shook his head.
Sirius sighed. "Told you we had to be more obvious, Moony. So far the only one who knows really is Dumbledore, and that's only because he caught us in the act."
Harry groaned. "Sirius, do you have to?" Sirius laughed and just hugged his godson. "Sorry, Harry. Moony'll have my hide later. Did he tell you about our list of Harry Presents?"
Harry shook his head. "He mentioned it, but no more."
"Moony, I'm surprised at you."
"Why don't you tell him, Sirius. It was your bright idea to start with."
"When you were born, Harry, your parents asked Moony and I to be godfathers. I wasn't happy when the Ministry said that Moony was ineligible because he was a werewolf."
"Wasn't happy?" asked Lupin smiling. "That's probably the biggest understatement I've ever heard. Harry, he sent a howler to the Minister of Magic. As a result, he got the sack from St Mungo's."
"St Mungo's?" asked Harry in surprise.
"I was training as a Healer, Harry. I thought you knew," explained Sirius. "It was all Moony's fault, really. I wanted to be able to look after him."
Harry looked at the two before him, and once again Remus Lupin's words about Sirius' character bore down on him. He was awed at what Sirius would do for love, and not a little frightened at what the implications of that meant for him.
"You were a rum little chap when you were born. All red and wrinkly. Not really appealing at all."
"And yet, Sirius, all it took was one gurgle and you were hooked."
"Who's telling this story, Moony?"
"Do go ahead, Mr Padfoot. Please accept my apologies for interrupting."
"Anyway, Moony and I decided," and he got the benefit of a "Professor Lupin" look from Remus (to Harry's decided amusement, the look had the same effect on Sirius as it had on his erstwhile students) and cleared his throat. "I decided, and consulted with Moony, that we should have a list of presents to give Harry. That way, we could ensure that he was properly fitted out for life. We felt it our duty as Godfather's."
Remus smiled and snuggled Sirius closer. Sirius responded by pulling Harry into his side, and Harry felt a warm feeling. He was loved, and loved by two people who he respected more than anybody else. He looked at them both, and was pleased to see their love for him reflected in their eyes.
This really was what family was about.
"So , the list," continued Sirius. "It was all set out. Your broomstick was on track, and this year was the books. I was most displeased when I found that Moony hadn't put his name on the Broomstick, and that he hadn't given you the other presents."
"I wasn't allowed to, Sirius," said Remus patiently. Harry realised that this was an old argument with them. "Dumbledore said that I was to have no contact at all. It wasn't by my choice. I did buy them all."
Sirius straightened. "You did?"
"Of course, you git. You're forgetting that I love Harry too. That I missed him almost as much as I missed you."
"You missed me?" came the question from two mouths. Remus smiled at them both.
"Of course I did," he said softly. "How could I not miss my family?"
Harry smiled and snuggled closer to Sirius. This was his family. He loved and was loved.
What more could a boy want.
"Professor Lupin?" he asked
"Remus. What, Harry?"
"When can I get the rest of my presents?"