A Crimson River

BY : Slytherkins
Category: Harry Potter > Threesomes/Moresomes
Dragon prints: 3293
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Before: Remus

 

Remus refused to believe what he was seeing. He recognized the boy’s features, but it still didn’t seem possible. Of course he knew about the spell, and that it had broken at midnight. He knew how it functioned and why it had been placed. He thought he’d known what to expect.

He was wrong. So wrong. And now he was panicking because he knew he was meant to be interacting with the boy, but he could not yet manage it. He was so overwhelmed by the sight of him he could barely manage to breathe.

He felt shame wash over him. This was James’ son. Harry was sixteen for gods' sake! Remus was thirty-six. Not elderly by any means, but still far, far too old to be feeling… And for a child. Remus thought he felt ill.

But Harry no longer looked like a child. Harry hardly looked like himself at all, despite that Remus had seen the boy only months prior. And it wasn’t simply that Remus was now allowed by the spell’s dissipation to appreciate him aesthetically. Their recent loss seemed to have aged the young man. Harry had always had a serious bent, but much of his innocence seemed to have died with Sirius. There was a new maturity to the firm set of his finely shaped jaw and more wisdom in his brilliant green eyes.

Whatever the reasons for his unexpected reaction, Remus had to get ahold of himself. Harry had not yet noticed his presence in the shadows of the anteroom and was clearly apprehensive. He hadn’t known where he was heading when he took the leap of faith and touched the portkey, and Grimmauld Place had changed considerably since he’d last seen it, which was why Remus was there to greet him.

“Hello?” The quaver in Harry’s voice spoke to his disquiet. Remus felt a fool. He composed himself, stepping forward and laying a hand on the young man’s shoulder to reassure him. He startled the boy instead, but it was short-lived.

“Happy Birthday, Harry,” Remus whispered, somehow summoning a smile. And the radiance of Harry’s answering one almost undid Remus completely. Surely Harry would not feel such happy relief if he knew what Remus was thinking, if he knew how badly the hand resting on the boy’s shoulder ached to move elsewhere. Remus’ self-control was embarrassingly lacking, and he tightened his grip against the temptation to stroke his palm down Harry’s arm, though he could not yet bring himself to remove it.

"Thank you, Professor," Harry said.

"I think we're past formalities, Harry," Remus replied, his voice more tense than he’d intended. “This isn't Hogwarts, and I'm no longer your professor now am I?” he managed in a softer tone. “Call me Remus." Harry nodded, and the man took half a second more to get a hold on his unseemly impulses before releasing the boy. Breaking the contact seemed to make it easier to breathe, so long as Remus could avoid those eyes.

"We're still here, then?" Harry asked ruefully, looking about him, finally recognizing where he stood. Remus simply nodded, drawing his resolve from the musty shadows as his gaze swept, unseeing, across them. "Wasn't this a bit dangerous?" Harry asked, referring to the toy snitch displayed in his open palm. "I mean, what if Voldemort had intercepted the owl? Might have been a nasty surprise to find him here instead of me."

"The plan had its risks," Remus conceded with a small sigh, taking it from him. "But we felt this was safer than transporting you here by broom again,” he explained, studying the cartoonish toy to avoid lifting his eyes to Harry’s face, lest he be unable to pull them away. “Besides, to anyone other than yourself this would just have seemed a worthless plastic bauble, given by a very poor, or very cheap, friend," Remus sneered. It had seemed an appropriate gift from the penniless werewolf. "It was keyed to you,” he went on, turning it in his fingers. He’d have to look at the boy again. But not yet. “It was designed to activate at your touch and yours alone. A very tricky bit of magic, but Professor Dumbledore does have a knack for these sorts of things."

"Dumbledore?" Harry asked with slight surprise. "Is he here?"

"Of course he is," Remus replied carefully, and even more carefully returning the snitch to him to avoid any accidental brush of skin. "He's waiting for us in the kitchen. Come along, Harry," he said, weary already, and for none of the reasons he’d anticipated. "There are many things we need to discuss." He gave Harry's shoulder a hesitant pat and, for the first time since Harry had arrived, dared a brief moment of eye contact before turning abruptly to lead the way.

Remus took a steadying breath as he strode down the hall, felt his head clearing now that they were no longer so close in such a small space. Grimmauld Place yawned before them. The heavy air had never seemed fresher.

He realized he was being inexcusably absurd. Sirius had been lost scarcely eight weeks ago. Was Remus’ affection really so fickle? But then, he’d realized before now that the two of them hadn’t really been in love. They had cared deeply for one another; with the exception of Harry, there had been no one more important to the werewolf in all the world. They had shared an unbreakable bond, an unspeakable past, and an inexhaustible fondness, but not necessarily a strong romance. Their physical relationship had been a natural growth between two so lonely, two for whom there could be no others.

Sirius, perhaps, had not felt the same. But then Sirius had had eyes for the lycanthrope since they were children. Remus strongly suspected it had even influenced his animagus form. Sirius had worked his way through a legion girls trying to deny it, even to himself. But the discovery of Firewhiskey at fifteen had led to drunken confessions and clumsy kisses that Remus wasn’t certain the young aristocrat even remembered the next morning. He hadn’t acted as if he did, which was just as well to Remus. Because Remus’ heart had belonged already to another: a dark haired, bespectacled rake who was taken from Remus, without ever knowing about the young man’s feelings for him, just a year after Harry had been born.

And now his doppleganger followed Remus through the haunted halls of Black Manor.

Remus was startled from this reflection by a clattering noise behind him, followed by the sound of a body striking the floor, and he was momentarily terrified that something had happened while his guard was lowered, while he had been distracted by inappropriate thoughts; until he recalled, almost instantly, where they were and that there were no threats here. He spun toward the commotion, baffled nonetheless, to find Harry on the floor. On his knees. Holy Hell. On his bloody knees, face upturned, his mother’s eyes staring widely and his father’s lips hanging open in anticipation of...something. Remus couldn’t work out what was happening. His brain was momentarily unable to function at all as they stared at each other.

“She didn’t scream,” Harry said finally.

It took half a moment more for Remus to banish the completely sinful but equally unbidden fantasy the scene evoked. “Ah,” he said shakily. Remus finally noticed the toy snitch clutched in Harry’s hand. He’d dropped it. It all made sense now. How many times had Tonks tripped over the umbrella stand that used to sit just here at the banister? And how often had Harry himself joined the battle against the shrew whose painting once hung in this spot? He’d not been here since Remus had removed her. The man gestured to the soot stained wall beside him, and he and Harry both regarded it.

Much as they needed a safe headquarters, Remus couldn’t help but feel it a shame that the blaze he’d started when he’d burned the bitch from the wall hadn’t taken the rest of the miserable house with it. Thankfully, the memory reminded him of his grief and what it had led him to do, and his lingering contempt for the woman who had so mistreated one of his dearest friends helped distract Remus from the other confusing emotions elicited by Harry’s appearance. "Don't fret about making a bit of noise, Harry," he said with a wry expression. "She'll not be bothering us ever again." But Harry was still on his knees, and Remus decided against helping him to his feet. He turned toward the kitchen instead, going on ahead to allow himself an opportunity to finish untangling his impulses, leaving the boy to pick himself up.

He nodded to Albus as he entered the kitchen and stationed himself at the head of the table, waiting for Harry to appear.

“Any news?” the Headmaster asked anxiously, noticing Remus’ grim expression. Remus shook his head. Harry had volunteered nothing and Remus hadn’t had the presence of mind to ask. Not that he’d be explaining why to Albus.

“I don’t think he knows,” Remus said softly. “Let’s not ruin his birthday.”

“I agree,” Albus murmured. Harry would have to be told, and soon, that his pet had preceded him to Grimmauld Place. But she looked unlikely to survive, if she hadn’t already passed while Harry and Remus had been in the hallway. Perhaps they should tell him, let him spend her last moments with her. But Molly was comforting the poor thing already, and they simply didn’t have the heart to deliver such bad news on a special day that would already hold enough shock and disappointment; that is, if Remus knew anything about the boy’s attitude toward his Potions Master. Why did that sad bastard have to be the only person skilled enough in Legilimency to teach the young man?

The Headmaster’s whole demeanor changed the instant Harry walked through the door, looking pleased as he chased the scent of Lunch until he found it bubbling on the hearth. "I see you have arrived safely," Albus said with an effortless smile, pointing Harry to a seat directly across from him. "Very good. You are welcome to whatever you may find, afterwards," Albus assured him when Harry’s attention refused to stray from the steaming cauldron. "Molly has even been so kind as to leave the stew on for you. Right now, however, I feel we need your full attention."

As they took their seats, Harry's stomach growled loudly. "I'm sorry, Professor, but that may be impossible with Mrs. Weasley's cooking so close by," Harry said with a shy, endearing grin that made Remus’ stomach flutter. Albus' eyes twinkled behind his half-moon spectacles.

"Indeed," he chuckled, steepling his fingers delightedly on the table before him. "But there are a few things we must get out of the way before we feast.” The old man became more somber. "How have you been Harry?" he asked quietly. Harry swallowed and cleared his throat, looking sheepishly between the two of them, but his voice suddenly eluded him, so he merely nodded slowly.

"As well as can be expected, I guess," he was finally able to croak. Albus nodded his sad understanding. Remus’ heart ached for the young man. Now was his cue to comfort him, to reach over and soothe his melancholy with a friendly touch, but sadly he still didn’t dare.

"Harry, has anything odd happened lately?" Albus asked now, very seriously. "Anything at all you wish to share with us?" Harry looked nervously between the two men who waited anxiously for his response.

"You mean besides that the Dursley's are acting like human beings?" Harry asked, earning him a smile from the Headmaster. Remus breathed a sigh of relief. They still didn’t know what recent events foreshadowed, but luckily it didn’t seem to yet touch the boy. Unburdened days were few for the young man. Hopefully today would be at least one more. "Nothing I can think of," Harry shrugged. Albus was visibly pleased.

"Alright," he said. "Now, since I believe Remus here has some other business to attend to, I think firstly we should discuss the matter of Sirius' will and your inheritance." Albus had decided that he preferred to speak to Harry alone, particularly to break the news to him about his resumption of Occlumency with Severus, and so they had agreed that Remus would to travel to Surrey to collect Harry’s things while the Headmaster finished their meeting. Albus let the young man process this news, waiting to continue until Harry looked back up at him expectantly.

"As I'm sure you know, Sirius was the last remaining member of the Black family to bear that name. However, because of his long imprisonment, much of the Black fortune has either been seized by the Ministry or redistributed among his many relatives." The injustice of it ate at the pit of Remus’ stomach for the umpteenth time. He could tell it irked Harry, as well. "As a result," Albus continued, "Sirius' holdings were few. Among them, however, is Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, which was likely overlooked, or ignored, due to its apparent abandonment."

"I've inherited Order headquarters?" Harry blinked.

"Well, not exactly," Albus corrected. "For so long as the Order has need of it, or until you leave Hogwarts, whichever comes last, the deed will be held by Remus here. Which brings me to the next matter, the matter of your guardianship." Remus saw Harry look over at him from the corner of his eye, but the man was still summoning his self control and so kept his attention turned to Albus. “Granted, you are, as of today in fact, sixteen and have reached the age of consent by Wizarding standards.”

Remus saw his lips moving, but he did not even hear the Headmaster’s next few sentences. The last one he’d spoken echoed deafeningly in the werewolf’s mind, and the timing of the revelation was less than convenient.

The glamour had expired because Harry had reached the age of consent. The age where Harry was legally permitted to be physically intimate with whomever he chose so long as that person was also of legal age.

It was immaterial. The spell had been cast in the first place in order to safeguard Harry’s innocence, and nothing in all the world could persuade the man to endanger that. Still, Remus’ mouth went suddenly dry.

"However. While you still attend school, any question or decision that might arise concerning your well-being shall now be directed to Remus, as necessity dictates."

Remus woke at the sound of his name and dragged his attention back to the present, finally steeling himself to meet Harry's eye. It was well past time for him to pull himself together and act like the responsible adult he was expected to be, that he’d volunteered to be.

"Sirius asked me long ago if I might take over his responsibilities as your godfather should anything ever happen to him," he told Harry, his tender thoughts of the man making it easier to speak to the boy. "To which I readily agreed." The affection in Harry’s expression was returned; and not in the vile and lecherous way Remus had been battling since he arrived, simply in the paternal sense he’d felt for the boy since he’d first set eyes on him sixteen years ago to the day.

"Splendid," Harry said in response to the pronouncement.

"Thank you for trusting me, Harry," Remus said softly, hoping that trust was not misplaced, resolving that it would not be. He would master himself, and he’d fulfill his new duties to the best of his ability. Harry had gone too long without a guiding hand.

After that, Remus excused himself, trying not to seem eager to escape the young man’s presence but feeling relief to be doing so. And gratitude that it would be just for a little while.



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