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.)
The day after Harry's misadventure in Diagon Alley was Sunday, and it was not surprising to Remus that Severus Snape appeared in his bookshop, shortly after it opened at noon. He'd been expecting it, in a way, and had asked Sirius and Harry to buy groceries. This was guaranteed to keep them out for hours, considering Sirius' attention span. He'd never gotten used to Muggle grocery stores, and was forever discovering strange new delicacies like 'Honey Nut Cheerios' and 'Marmite'.
Of course Severus Snape would come to the shop. He was not the sort to heroically and moreover anonymously save the day; he would vanish at the time, so no thanks could be forthcoming -- though Remus had owled him the night before, thanking him profusely -- and then reappear to rub their noses in (in no particular order) their lack of parenting skills, their lack of finding-Harry skills, his own heroic and unassuming rescue of the boy, and the indignities he suffered for the greater good. All of this was expected. Especially since one of the two men caring for the boy was Sirius Black.
What was unexpected was the sealed letter from Dumbledore which accompanied him.
"Severus," Remus said, looking up from his reading as the man walked into the shop. At least he'd had the decency to use the front door, and not floo in, like some of Remus' less astute wizarding customers did. "I thought you might be by."
"Lupin," the other man growled.
"Harry and Sirius are out, I'm afraid, but let me thank you again on their behalf -- "
"No need. I saw the boy and I knew he was lost," Snape said with a shrug.
"Still, it was good of you to bring him back to us. Sirius was out of his mind with worry."
"Well. I tend to be more sane than Sirius even on a bad day," Remus answered, with a small smile. "Is there something I can help you with? Do sit down. Humbug?"
Severus stared at the proffered jar. Remus set it on the counter again.
"I spoke with Dumbledore about yesterday's...incident," Snape said.
Tell-tale, muttered the voice in Remus' head that thought all the things he never let himself say. It usually sounded like Sirius.
"He has...concerns about the situation," Snape continued, handing Remus the sealed letter. "He suspects that you and Black may require some assistance."
Remus opened the letter, glancing at Snape as he did so. He read it quickly; frowned; read it again.
"You?" he asked. Snape nodded. "But you hate children!" Remus blurted.
That was probably a Sirius thought.
"I hate idiots, and most children are idiots," Snape replied. "The boy seems to have a spark of intellect. Dumbledore thinks I may be able to temper his natural...exuberance."
Remus set the letter down. "So. Because everyone knows that Sirius Black and Remus Lupin are caring for Harry Potter, we can't take him to Diagon Alley or -- or Hogsmeade or anywhere. And because everyone knows you hate James Potter, nobody will notice if you do."
"Dumbledore suggested a slight glamour on the boy -- perhaps a change of hair colour, and something to hide the scar, of course," Snape replied.
Remus was silent for a long time.
"No more than once a week, if that," he said firmly.
"I am no more eager for this than you are," Snape replied.
"You're not to go poisoning his mind with stories about -- "
"The less I speak to the boy, I feel, the better."
Another long pause.
"He wants to see a Quidditch game," Remus said quietly. "We'll pay for the tickets, of course."
Snape regarded him evenly. "Your face is scratched."
"It was a full moon, recently."
"Do you have a point, Severus?" Remus asked, slightly impatiently. The dark-haired man shook his head.
"Merely making an observation," he said, standing and tossing his hair out of his eyes. "I will owl you to arrange a time to collect the boy next week-end."
His hand was on the door before Remus said his next words. "You won't talk to him about James," he said. It was not a question. It was the closest thing to an order he'd ever given.
"You will not talk to Harry about his father, Severus. There's no need for that. If you persist in holding a grudge from before the child was born, you take it out on Sirius, or on me. You don't get to use Harry as a pawn."
"I'm surprised you'd think of such a thing," Snape said nastily. He pushed open the door, and was gone.
The shouting match that afternoon was truly epic in nature. Sirius, Remus had long ago learned, was not one to store up rage for when it was useful. Quick to hurt, quick to yell, quick to heal, that was Sirius. Remus had finally ascertained, after two years' experimentation, that if he didn't mind a few hours of noise, he could simply keep quiet and Sirius would eventually go hoarse. If he wanted it over quickly, all he had to do was yell back. This generally shocked Sirius into silence.
Even Remus Lupin yelling didn't shut him up this time, however.
Remus waited until they were home, to tell Sirius -- Sandust was only open a few hours on Sundays -- and he took the thoughtful precaution of casting a silencing spell outside their bedroom, so that Harry, happily drawing crayon pictures in the living room, could not hear the shouts.
In the end, of course, Sirius caved. He normally did. He didn't like it, and he sulked through dinner, but by the time Harry was ready for bed, he was at least not growling under his breath anymore about greasy-haired gits, Snivellus, and what he'd like to do to a certain Hogwarts Potions Master.
Besides, by Tuesday he had something entirely different to worry about.
"Sirius, I think you ought to find a wife."
Remus was so startled by the phrase, coming from Molly Weasley, that he didn't even realise what she'd said.
"A wife?" Sirius asked, and bits of Remus' brain promptly fused together. "What on earth are you on about?"
Molly had asked them to dinner as a gesture of goodwill -- she still felt bad about Ron tempting Harry into going to Diagon Alley, and none of them were sure Ron's grounding would ever end. Neither man was loathe to spend an evening eating her excellent cooking, and Harry was excited to be allowed to watch the twins demonstrate Quidditch tactics in the early spring evening.
"It's not right, Harry growing up with only men about," Molly continued. "A boy needs a mum."
"Well, he spends all day with you, doesn't he?" Remus managed.
"It's not the same," Molly said, passing Arthur the rolls. "Besides, you need looking-after. You're both far too thin," she added, elbowing Remus in the ribs. He glared darkly at her. "And if you found a nice girl who was related to James, Remus could have his flat to himself again."
"I like having them there," Remus said sharply.
"Of course you do, but I imagine it's awkward, isn't it?" Molly answered cheerfully.
"Don't know any girls I'd fancy marrying," Sirius said, chewing thoughtfully. "Not really the marrying sort, me."
"Nonsense. You find someone who likes Harry and tolerates Remus, and that's that. Not that I think you oughtn't to marry for love, but if you're not in love with anyone, you might as well provide the poor boy with a mother."
"This is your wife, isn't it?" Sirius asked Arthur, who grinned.
"She's just looking out for the lad, aren't you?" he asked, and Molly smiled.
"Harry's got Sirius and me. That's more than enough. Especially so soon after the Dursleys. More change'd only upset him," Remus muttered.
"I tell you what, I happen to know a lovely young woman named Moira Sparrow, I'm sure you'd get on very well -- and her sister Allison might do for Remus, you know," Molly winked at him, and Remus gave up on being outraged, settling for numb, temporary hatred of Molly Weasley instead.
She went on to arrange the whole mess with Sirius, only giving up on Remus when he flat-out refused to consider the matter in a logical light, and instead went out back to make sure Harry hadn't accidentally died of excitement at being allowed to throw fake Bludgers at the twins.
He sat on the railing of the Weasleys' back porch, and watched Harry delightedly play at throwing Bludgers, while Ginny cheered him on. It was sunset, the light turning Harry's eyes a vivid green, just like his mother's, and making the shadows of the house fall slantwise away from them.
Of course he didn't actually hate Molly, he was quite fond of her in fact, but the last thing he needed was her trying to set either of them up.
He sighed, and followed the arc of the Bludgers with his eyes. It wasn't that it was difficult, sharing a bedroom with Sirius Black. It was pleasant. It reminded him of school. It was best for all concerned. But there was one little corner of him that tugged away at his complacent life and said, there should still be only one bed in your bedroom.
He liked Sirius. He drew his salary from Sirius, though that had never really come between them, as he wrote his own salary cheques and Sirius never paid much attention to bookeeping at any rate. He shared Sirius' anguish over losing James, losing Lily, losing Harry.
He loved Sirius. And had, for some long time now. Nearly a decade -- it would be a decade, on the anniversary of James and Lily's engagement.
It didn't hurt, loving Sirius. Sirius spent nearly every waking moment with him. It hadn't, until now, bothered him very much. There was the odd moment when he skritched behind Padfoot's ears and wished it were Sirius' hair he was touching. There were times when they'd gone out drinking when he'd been perilously close to pinning the man to a wall because he was so desperate for touch, and there were a lot of rather disappointed people in Remus' past who'd had to compete with, and fail against, Sirius Black. But it didn't hurt.
It was just...difficult. Seeing the man. Every morning, every night, eating every meal with him, sharing a bedroom with him.
A Bludger went stray and he reached out to catch it, tossing it back to Harry with a smile.
If Sirius married it would take him away. And Harry would go with him. And they would be a family, and Remus would be...a good friend, invited over for Sunday dinner, probably Harry's Uncle Moony or something similarly disgusting.
Well, what happened, happened. He wouldn't worry about it until he saw this Moira creature for himself.
Most of him wouldn't worry about it, anyway.
There was Owl Post waiting for them when they arrived home; a letter from Snape, saying baldly that there were no Quidditch games on Sunday, but Slytherin House had kindly agreed to allow Harry to watch practice. Remus wrote back, before Sirius could see the letter; at least that way it was a fait accompli.
He was glad the boy was going to see Hogwarts. He often found Harry gazing at the pictures of it, in the album he'd given him. And Hogwarts was safe. If someone didn't take Harry to see the places he'd heard about, sooner or later he'd run off again. It shouldn't be Severus Snape looking after him, that much was obvious, but Remus knew Snape, trusted him as far as their old Order connections went, and knew that he was a responsible if unpleasant teacher. He might not be kind, but he wouldn't be cruel, not to a child so young.
Sirius, when Remus told him, merely grunted.
"You're plotting something, Black," Remus said, as he changed into his pyjamas.
"When am I not plotting something?" Sirius answered, from the bathroom, a toothbrush in his mouth.
"You can't kill Snape, you know, it reflects badly on your character."
"I don't want to kill him. Maim him, perhaps," Sirius said, over running water.
"At least Harry'll be safe. Would you rather he try it on his own?"
Sirius was silent, and Remus listened intently for any sound.
"Why would Dumbledore let him do this?" Sirius asked finally.
"Perhaps he thinks you need to learn to get along with the man. I manage it, you know."
"You do not."
"Well, at least we can speak civilly to one another. And I tried to kill him, so -- "
"That wasn't you."
Remus sighed. "Are we going to spend the rest of our lives arguing about it?"
Sirius emerged from the bathroom, and lay on his bed, back to his friend.
"We were stupid kids, Sirius. You managed to grow out of it, lord alone knows how, so I think you might at least give him the benefit of the doubt."
"Why are you defending him?" Sirius demanded. Remus gave a shrug that his friend couldn't see.
"Because there's nothing we can do about it, so we might as well smile," he replied. He heard Sirius breathing, slow and even.
"I wish I could be like that," Sirius said finally.
"You're a better man than I am, Moony," he answered, and no matter what Remus asked after that, he wouldn't reply.
The week passed more or less uneventfully, though Harry reported that Ron was grounded for a whole month, and seemed confused why he, Harry, was not. Sirius replied that having to spend his week-ends with Professor Snape was punishment enough for any boy, and Moony made him promise not to repeat that to Professor Snape. By the time Sunday came around, he was too excited to even remember it; he could barely sit still in one of Sandust Books' old leather wing-chairs, while he pretended to read his homework, and a growl emanated every once in a while from Padfoot, curled up under the chair.
"All right, Harry," Moony said, emerging from the back room. "I've spoken to Professor Snape. He's ready for you."
Harry nearly leapt off the chair and ran into the back room, where Moony caught him by the waist and stopped him from grabbing the floo powder off the table.
"You be polite, he's a teacher at Hogwarts," he said. "In another few years he'll be your teacher. Say please and thank you."
"Yes Moony," Harry said impatiently.
"When you step into the fire say 'Dumbledore's Office' just like we practiced, all right?"
Harry nodded and held out his hand. Moony sighed and dropped some floo powder into it. He tossed it into the fire, stepped in, and said the words carefully; after a spinning, dizzy moment, the world ceased to move, and he found himself on the hearth of a richly-decorated office, staring up at a tall man with an enormous white beard.
"Hello, Harry," the man said kindly. Harry could see Professor Snape standing off to one side. "All in one piece, are we?"
Harry checked himself over. "Yes...sir," he said carefully.
"Splendid. My name is -- "
" -- Headmaster Dumbledore," Harry finished for him. "You're on a chocolate frog card."
Dumbledore smiled. "I see Sirius hasn't wasted any time introducing you to wizarding sweets. Severus, if you would inform Remus that Harry has arrived safely..."
Harry found himself led through the office, while Professor Snape crouched on the hearth to speak to Moony. When they stopped, Headmaster Dumbledore took out a wand, and smiled.
"We have to make you look a little different, Harry, and give you a new name," he explained. "Cicatrix evanesci," he commanded, and Harry felt his forehead tingle. "Capellum Muto," he added.
Something fell around Harry's ears, and he gasped. Dumbledore turned him so that he could see a small mirror on a shelf.
His scar, which had been a part of him for as long as he could remember, was gone; it would have been hard to tell anyway -- where his short-cropped, unruly hair used to be, instead he now had long, straight black hair hanging to his shoulders.
"And you need a new name," Professor Snape added, coming to stand next to Headmaster Dumbledore.
"Why?" Harry asked. The older men exchanged a knowing look.
"Because we have to keep who you are a bit secret, for now," Dumbledore answered. "Can you understand that, Harry?"
"No," Harry said honestly. "But okay."
"A name, now..." Dumbledore tapped his lips, thoughtfully. "Parvus."
"Parvus?" Harry asked.
"Parvus Rana," Dumbledore continued. Harry tried it out silently. He could see Professor Snape mouth it once or twice, and then smile. It was not a nice smile. Professor Snape didn't look like the sort of man who was able to smile nicely.
"Headmaster, if we do not leave soon for the pitch, my students may wonder..." Professor Snape said, and Dumbledore, who'd been staring at Harry, nodded.
"Of course, Severus. Enjoy practice, Harry -- Parvus," Dumbledore corrected. Harry grinned and -- after two months of living with Moony and Sirius -- automatically held up his hand to be taken by the Professor.
Snape looked down at him for a moment, in surprise, and then took his hand, leading him through the office and out, into a long stone corridor.