AU. When Sirius and Remus go looking for Peter Pettigrew, they make a wrong turn and someone else finds him first. Eight years later, Sirius owns a book store and Remus manages it for him. When Harry stumbles into the store and they find out the truth, they decide it's time to be Stealing Harry. (SB/RL slash relationship in later chapters.)
Most of the Gryffindors knew of Parvus, Professor Snape's nephew, because they'd seen him in the halls or heard talk of him; none of them but Oliver had ever had anything to do with the boy, and there were some disgusted looks at Oliver for having invited the eight-year-old to stay in Gryffindor. Some of the seventh-years were a full ten years older than Harry, after all, and were put out enough that they had to share a Common Room with sprogs like Wood.
But Oliver shared a love of Quidditch with Harry, as well as the feeling that he was always the youngest in the room -- he'd yet to hit any kind of a growth spurt, and was easily the smallest of the Gryffindors. One student, a Slytherin, had remarked nastily that Oliver just wanted someone around who was tinier than he was.
Oliver didn't care. It was worth it to see the look on Harry's face when he walked into the Gryffindor Common Room.
"Hallo then, Wood, is this Parvus?" someone called. Harry glanced up at the portraits on the walls, the old Gryffindor banners, the high windows, eyes wide.
"Say hi," Oliver urged. Harry grinned shyly, and set down the knapsack he was carrying.
"Hi," he said. "Do you really live here?"
There was a general wave of amused laughter.
"Most of the time," one of the bigger kids said. "You like it?"
"Oh, yes," Harry breathed. It was much...well, it was warmer, and friendlier -- though a little shabbier -- than Slytherin's dungeon quarters, which he'd seen a peek of once, on his way to Professor Snape's office.
"Wotcha, Parvus, I'm Bill," said the big red-headed boy, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Ron. "That's my brother Charlie," he added, and another redheaded boy, somewhat younger, waved where he was bent over some schoolwork. "And that's my other brother, Percy." he pointed to a first-year even smaller than Oliver. Percy waved. "Oi, Perce, come say hi."
"I'm studying," Percy complained. Harry wandered over and peered at his book, which was full of strange symbols.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Percy's advanced," one of the other Gryffindors said, rolling her eyes. "He's already taking second-year Transfiguration. And he's at school a year early."
"Transwhat?" Harry inquired.
"Transfiguration," Percy said. "Want to see?"
"Here, Perce, better not be like last time," another of the bigger kids called. A couple of the younger ones crowded around to watch.
Percy took a chocolate frog out of his pocket and unwrapped it, holding it between his fingers until the charm wore off and it stopped squirming. He set it on the table, pointed his wand at it, and said a few words in what Harry vaguely recognised as the same language Remus and Sirius used when doing magic. The frog twitched.
"Did it work?" Bill asked, leaning over the smaller students.
"I don't think so," Percy sighed.
Suddenly, the frog twitched again. There was a collective gasp. It seemed to leap into the air, and Harry watched, utterly fascinated, as it changed into --
A small, yellow rat fell to the table with a thud. Percy looked pleased.
"Caramel!" he said, picking the rat up. He snapped it in half and offered the head and shoulders to Harry. Harry, in turn, broke off half and gave the head to Oliver before popping the front legs into his mouth.
"Not bad, Weasley," Oliver said, around the caramel. The other Gryffindors, with looks of approval, began to disperse. Oliver led him over to a table where some children were playing Gobstones.
Harry cast longing looks at the other end of the table, where there was a Wizard's Chess game going on. One of them noticed, and grinned at him. "Like the chesspieces?" he asked, holding up one of them. "Kinda looks like Gryffindor Tower, doesn't it?"
"That's a Rook," Harry said, a trifle scornfully, and the boy grinned.
"D'you play, then?" he asked, as Harry moved away from the Gobstones game.
"Siriu -- " Harry stopped, realising he'd almost made a mistake. "My dad taught me how," he said carefully.
"Want to watch?"
"Check mate," said the girl he was playing against. The boy thudded his head on the table. "Ought to let Parvus play, I bet you two'd be a match," she teased gently.
"I can play," Harry said stoutly. The girl grinned, and gestured him forward.
"You sit with me and play Richard, and I'll help you," she said, scooting over and pulling up another chair. Harry sat down, and realised his eyes were about level with the table. Bill grinned and, with a flick of his wand, the chair shot upwards, legs lengthening until Harry was on a level with Richard.
Oliver found him, ten minutes later, deep in contemplation of the chessboard. He was looking at it carefully while explaining to Richard how his dad had trained some of the pieces to swear. Richard had obviously decided this was a good idea.
"Who's winning?" Oliver asked.
"He is," Harry answered. "But I'm..." he glanced at the girl, who'd given her name as Nina.
"Making him work for it," Nina said. Harry nodded. Richard made a move, amidst jeering from Harry's pieces.
"He's got the house chess champion helping him," Richard complained.
Oliver patted Richard on the back, comfortingly, as Harry moved a knight, and took one of Richard's bishops.
Harry lost, though it was a close thing, and Oliver took him up to see the first-years' dormitory rooms, showing him the big four-posters, and the pictures pasted over peoples' beds, the school trunks and books and rolls of parchment that were the normal detritus of a student bedroom. They looked at Oliver's Quidditch books until the others began to troop into the room, and Charlie Weasley, who was apparently a Prefect, poked his head in.
"Lights out, lads. Parvus, are you bunking with Oliver?"
"My dad gave me a bedroll," Harry said, digging in his knapsack and pulling out what looked like a small, squashy red sack. He shook it once or twice, and it snapped out into a full, child-sized sleeping bag. Charlie looked impressed.
"Your dad's got a knack, all right," he replied, ducking out again. Harry climbed into his sleeping bag, next to Oliver's bed, and listened as the others talked about classes, traded quips and teasings. Somehow, he felt as though they were trying to include him, in a way the Slytherins, when they talked about things, never did; with the Slytherins he sometimes felt a little ignored, while with the Gryffindor boys it seemed as though they were sometimes talking for his benefit alone.
He sighed, happily, and curled up in the thick scarlet sleeping bag, listening until he drifted into sleep.
In the night, the wind howled around the Gryffindor tower rooms, and Harry woke with a start as something crashed; he could see the other children sleeping, and thought it must be something they were used to, but not before panic had made his heart thud in his ribcage.
Oliver snorted and rolled over. Harry fumbled for his knapsack, and dug around until he found Frog in the very bottom. He hadn't wanted to take Frog out in front of the older boys, but they were all asleep and he wanted something from home. He curled around Frog, pulling the sleeping bag over his head, and tried to block out the sound of the whistling wind, the spring storm that was attacking the castle.
Inside the sleeping bag, it smelled of good things; their flat, and Sirius -- who smelled like leather and motor oil, and usually chocolate -- and Remus' old dusty books, that he was forever bringing home to read. Harry inhaled, deeply, comfortingly.
"Parvus?" a voice said softly. There was another crash; Harry identified it as thunder. Oliver Wood lifted the top of Harry's sleeping bag, slightly. "Are you scared?"
"No," Harry mumbled, against Frog's soft fur. There was a rustling, and Oliver crawled into the sleeping bag with him.
"I was, the first time there was a storm. It's all louder up here," Oliver said. The bag was big enough that Oliver could sit crosslegged in it, though the top pressed against his head and made him slouch. Harry grinned, a little, at the way it flattened his hair. He sat up too, trying to pretend that he wasn't holding onto a plush frog for dear life.
"We don't have to be scared, though," Oliver continued. "I mean really, we don't, the castle is safe as anything."
"It's loud," Harry whispered. Oliver grinned.
"But we're Gryffindor!" he said. "We're stronger and braver than any other house."
"Do you get to pick what house you go into?" Harry asked. Oliver shook his head.
"You get Sorted," he said. "You should come watch the Sorting next year if Professor Snape lets you. It's brilliant."
"What happens?" Harry asked. Oliver launched into a whispered, detailed description of the Sorting ceremony, complete with a boat ride across the lake, a singing hat, and Professor McGonagall, who could turn into a cat, Harry recalled, whenever she liked, just like Sirius could be a dog.
Harry held Frog, and listened, and thought about the fact that years ago, before he was born, Remus and Sirius would have slept in Gryffindor Tower, and his dad and mum, too.
At that moment he wanted nothing more than to be Gryffindor House, and play Gryffindor Quidditch, and wear a scarlet-and-gold badge on his school robes.
"It's quiet without the lad around, isn't it?"
Remus looked up from where he was stirring the sauce, and grinned. "You can say boring if you want."
"I'm not bored," Sirius replied, checking on the noodles. "Five more minutes...you have to admit it is quieter without him."
"He's a good lad."
"I'm just used to being pelted with a thousand questions while making dinner," Sirius continued. "Here, let me..." he took the spoon as Remus stepped aside, and licked the end of it. Remus made a disgusted noise.
"Yes, because you never borrow my hairbrush, or razor, or anything," Sirius replied. "Meatballs ready?"
"Mm, I think so." Remus pushed Sirius' legs out of the way, and took a pan out of the oven. "Looks it. Shall I?"
"Be my guest." Sirius stepped back and let Remus add the meatballs to the sauce, turning down the heat on the noodles. "Shame neither of us took magical cooking seriously."
"Well, I personally remember a black-haired young man announcing he was going to live on Chinese take-away the rest of his life," Remus said, stirring again. Sirius moved to a foil wrapped package on the table, and pointed his wand at it. It began to steam.
"I'm glad Harry asks questions," Remus continued. "Shows he's thinking. He'll be years ahead of everyone else when he finally gets to Hogwarts."
"Molly says he's a bright lad."
"Of course Molly says that, she loves the boy like her own," Remus answered with a grin.
Sirius took two wide, shallow bowls from the cupboard, along with a colander. "Well, it's easy, isn't it? I mean, he's smart, and he's a happy little lad, though Merlin knows how that happened, growing up with the Dursleys, and he's going to look -- "
" -- just like James," Remus finished in unison with him.
"I took him to lunch last weekend and the waiter asked me what my son was going to have, when he took our order," Sirius said, slightly wistfully.
"Well, it's the hair," Remus answered. "And probably the predilection for making trouble."
Sirius grinned, and poured the noodles into the colander, shaking it before dumping them into the sauce. Remus obligingly spooned the spaghetti into the bowls, and Sirius added the garlic bread from the foil package.
"Not too bad, for two confirmed bachelors," Sirius announced.
Remus gave him a dry look. "It's a Friday night, and our idea of a good time is Muggle cooking."
"Well, it's sort of like a hobby, I suppose. And besides, it's a full time job, caring for the lad."
"Mm. I don't know about you, but by the time he's in bed, I'm knackered myself."
Sirius, who didn't often talk at dinner, nodded over his meal. They ate in companionable silence, occasionally broken by a comment on the food, or a question about something to do with the bookshop. When they were finished, Remus gathered up the plates, carrying them to the counter and putting the garlic bread away. Sirius took the glasses and the pots to the sink, where the scrub brush began to wash them. He turned to take the dishes from Remus, who was hovering behind him. They nearly collided, and Remus froze, dishes in hand.
Sirius was slightly taller than he was, and Remus had to tilt his head up just slightly, while Sirius, in surprise, looked down.
Remus held his breath, pulse humming. Sirius' nostrils flared.
"Good thing we stopped," Sirius said, after a second. "That could have been a mess."
He stepped back, and Remus exhaled quietly, moving to put the dishes in the sink.
"What cologne are you using now?" Sirius asked, as he bent to wipe down the kitchen table. Remus raised his eyebrows. "Oh, I borrowed some of it. Good stuff, thought I might get a bottle."
"Use mine, it's all right," Remus offered. "Less clutter that way."
"Ta. I'll pay you back."
"Wasn't that expensive."
Sirius set the rag next to the sink, washing his hands with some spare suds from the scrubbing brush. Remus leaned on the counter, hip propped against it, watching him.
Sirius stopped, dried himself on a towel, and in one swift, fluid movement, turned and twined both hands in Remus' hair, and kissed him.
Remus was so stunned that for a full three seconds he didn't even tense, and by then Sirius' tongue was working its way between his lips and warm laziness was flooding his body. His hands reflexively gripped Sirius' biceps, mouth opening to deepen the kiss, skin oversensitive to the touch of his fingers down his neck, across one shoulder, around his jaw --
He stopped, and pushed Sirius away, slowly. The other man looked puzzled, breathless.
"Did I do it wrong?" he asked, tense and wary. Remus reached up unconsciously to touch his own lips.
"No," he said, hand slipping down to rub his chin. "I'm sure you never do it wrong. Why...?"
Sirius looked embarrassed. "Erm. You all right, Moony?"
"Sirius, I..." he shook his head. "Listen, if you want to know what it's like, that's great, I could show you ten or twenty men who'd be glad to tell you, but...you don't get to use me to find out, all right?"
"I wasn't using -- "
"No, it's fine, I know you'd never -- but I'm not a toy, Sirius. For anyone. I stopped that game a long time ago," Remus added. "However good your intentions are, I'm not the one to try them out on. For my sake, for Harry's sake -- not me."
Sirius, dark eyes watching him, nodded slowly. Remus felt his shoulders relax, felt his body settle back into something approaching normal.
"I'm sorry," Sirius muttered.
"It's fine, I said," Remus replied.
He wandered out of the kitchen, sitting at his desk in the corner, neatly sorting the papers waiting for him there. He heard Sirius go into the bedroom, and then duck into the bathroom. Water ran for a moment, before Sirius re-entered with a book, and settled into the battered old couch to read. Remus breathed a barely-perceptible sigh of relief.