To the ever-fabulous and witty LittleNightDragon, my great-great friend and drarry bestie. Presenting, Ash, birthday gift #1
The smile on his face could be described in one word: bright.
Bright enough that his healer gave him an extra hug, congratulating him once more before he left her office. Bright enough that Harry, his dear pup, responded with a dazzling smile of his own when he retrieved him from the waiting room, exchanging his half-finished coloring book for Remus's hand. Bright enough that nearly everyone from the grocery store stared baffled by its' brilliance, customer and worker alike, including the cashier who scanned his items.
Bright enough that even Kreacher lost his usual sneer at the sight of Remus's smile when he told the house-elf that he would handle the groceries and dinner for tonight.
Harry sat down at the kitchen table, his tiny legs gently kicking against the stool's legs, watching as he set the grocery bags down on the table and started unpacking. He eyed him carefully, the look in his green-green eyes surprisingly focused for a five year old. "Is there really a baby in your stomach, Moony?"
Remus understood his pup's shock. He still had trouble believing it himself. He stole a glance at his stomach that was still flat where a tiny creature, a little sea-monkey his Healer joked, floating there, resting there. For almost six weeks, he thought with a grin, running his hands over his stomach. "There is, pup."
Harry's lips curved into a confused frown as he stared at his stomach. "How did the baby get in there?"
"Er…" Remus awkwardly popped in, face flushing. Such a harmless, innocent question asked by a boy bright and naturally curious, traits he picked up from both his parents, may they rest in peace. However it was a question Remus hoped wouldn't be asked for a good seven, ten, even twenty more years. "Um-you see, pup…"
Harry stared at him innocently.
"Me and Sirius love the family we built with you so much that we decided to expand it," It wasn't a total lie. Harry was such a wonderful child, one who was growing up so fast. "So we...shared a special hug and Merlin granted our wish to give you a little brother or sister."
"Oh," Harry thought for a moment, then said, "Draco keeps saying we're gonna get married one day and have a big family. Does that mean all he has to do is hug me and we'd get a baby?"
"Uh…" There were times when childhood curiosity was such an endearing thing, then others where it couldn't be more painful such as now. "Ye-yes, that is possible. But," he quickly inserted. "That is something that will happen later on. Much later. When you two are finished with school and have good jobs and-and-" In his moment of desperation, Remus looked up and pointed at the ceiling. "When you're both that big."
"Oh." Harry nodded. Then his confused frown blossomed into a smile. "Okay."
Remus leaned against the counter and took a moment to let a out a long, sweet sigh of relief, feeling like five years had been restored to him.
"Are you gonna tell Paddy?"
"Soon." Remus smiled.
Later on that night, Remus sent Harry to bed early and checked on things to make sure everything was ready and perfect. All the lights were off and the only source of brightness came from the two white candles placed in the center of the table. Two seats placed directly across from each other. Fresh, piping-hot dishes cooked to perfection that he made for the occasion: baby shrimp, baby corn, and baby back ribs drenched in Sirius's favorite barbeque sauce.
"Moony?" Sirius called.
"In the kitchen."
Sirius popped in, paint splattered on his clothes, even getting onto his cheek and hair, and stopped short as he took in the dinner. Letting out a low whistle, he said, "Fancy, fancy."
Remus practically glowed from the praise.
"It's not your birthday, is it?"
"No." Remus happily said.
Rolling his eyes, he answered, "Was last month in which you spent the majority of the night emptying the contents of your stomach after stuffing your face with so much food and firewhiskey."
"Man, that was some party," Sirius grinned as he stared off into space, shaking his head as if to clear the memory. "Well, it's not our anniversary, right?"
Sirius cocked his head and stared at him. "Highly suspicious," he said. "But since there's free food, I'm not gonna complain." He plopped down on a chair and took a big gulp of the firewhiskey Remus laid out for him.
Remus sat across from him and picked up his glass of water, waiting till he caught Sirius's eye to take a generous sip.
As predicted, Sirius's brows furrowed as he glanced between their drinks, Remus's water and his firewhiskey. "You're not having one?"
Excitement bubbling in his body, Remus repeated one of the instructions the Healer gave him. "It wouldn't be wise given my current condition."
Sirius placed down the bottle. It took everything Remus had to keep his smile from morphing into a blindingly bright grin. Sirius opened his mouth and what came out was:
"Good point. A lot of liquor and a werewolf don't make the smartest combination."
For a spilt moment Remus was sure he was hearing things. That the excitement of being pregnant and Sirius finding out the news were messing with his hearing. Until Sirius resumed eating and drinking without a care.
Remus swallowed back his irritation and took in a deep breath. "Paddy?" He was at least thankful the man stopped eating to look up at him. "Do you happen to notice anything different?"
Sirius's brows creased. "What do you mean?"
Remus gestured towards their plates. "Like a theme with the food."
Sirius looked down at his plate, biting his lip in concentration. "Let's see. Baby shrimp." He popped one into his mouth, humming in pleasure from the taste. "Very good, may I add. Baby corn. Baby back ribs."
Remus nodded as he listened to Sirius list out the dinner, hoping he'll be able to put the pieces together. When Sirius looked up at him, a grin splashing across his face, Remus was sure they did.
He braced himself for the tears, loud cheers, even Sirius spitting out his food from the sho-
For a second Remus was so sure the pregnancy was really messing with his hearing. It was the only explanation as to why such a bizarre, horribly far-off answer could have came from Sirius's mouth. But the longer he stared into that eager face, still smiling that proud smile, the disbelief grew incredibly weak, dissolving as if it was touched by acid.
Finally, when he was sure his shock wouldn't crack or grow loud, Remus asked, "I'm sorry. What?"
"Finger food," Sirius grinned. "Delicious entrées served without the need of a spoon or fork. I love it."
Remus's jaw dropped, along with the water that slipped from his hand, shattering into pieces as it hit the floor. Across from him, Sirius happily popped another shrimp into his mouth and picked up a rib.
Almost a month had passed since the failed dinner attempt. Looking back, Remus could see the flaws laid out in that plan, greatly overestimating his mate's ability to pick up hints in subtlety.
He looked into the parenting magazines to figure out how to announce the news, figuring articles on mothers sharing their own experiences might jot a few ideas into his head. Harry thought that the best thing for him to do was simply tell Sirius and, while it was a good approach-a very solid one, it was also too direct. Too casual, which didn't sit well with him.
After all having a baby was spectacular. The news should carry some piazza to go with the spectacular-ness of it all.
One witch said she broke the news to her husband with his favorite dessert, the message inked across the pastry in jelly frosting. Remus decided to duplicate that idea with a box of Sirius's favorite chocolates, having the words WE'RE EXPECTING written out in rich vanilla frosting.
It would work better than the dinner since the news would be staring at Sirius right in the face and no one, not even him, would be able to miss the meaning.
Remus laid out the chocolates just in time as Sirius burst through the front door, calling, "Honey, I'm home!"
"That joke stopped being funny shortly after we moved in together."
Sirius replied with a smirk, then squatted down and opened his arms to catch Harry who ran over to him, wrapping his arms around Sirius's neck.
"Hey kiddo." He settled Harry onto his hip and kissed his head. "Glad to know some people are happy to see me."
Rolling his eyes halfheartedly, Remus said, "Come to the living room. I have a surprise for you."
He had him at surprise. Sirius speeded over to the room, Harry still in his arms, and set the boy onto the couch, in between them, before he sat down. His eyes shone in delight and Remus felt excitement prick his skin as those eyes turned over to him.
Remus felt his lips curve into that bright smile that glowed when the Healer told him the news.
"You beautiful mind-reader. Already figuring out what I was about to say."
The brightness of his smile dimmed as he ran the words over and over in his head. "What are you talking about?"
"We're expecting," Sirius said. "good news. I just got a letter from the art gallery, and they said they really loved the paintings I sent them. They're interested in giving me a show."
Remus, at long last, put the pieces together. Sirius spent weeks, close to months holed up in his art studio, working hard at creating dozens of pieces that would win over the chair-board behind his favorite art museum. The hours he spent into those paintings was so tedious, he spent more time in the studio than their house.
And while that was good, great even since he knew how much Sirius wanted this, wanted a chance to prove that he was a true artist and not just some pureblood who knew to draw straight lines, Remus was dismayed by how far off Sirius was with his guess regarding the gesture. Again. "Sirius, that's not-"
"You know what? We should celebrate with some cider." He helped himself to three pieces of chocolate, devouring the ING without a second thought. "And maybe some ice-cream."
Sirius was already on his feet, hustling over to the kitchen before he could get another word out.
Remus had no idea his jaw was hanging until Harry moved onto his lap and pushed it back up. Sighing wearily, he slung his arm around Harry's waist, pulling him close.
"Maybe you could draw him a picture." Harry suggested.
Letting out a breath of laughter, Remus kissed his head and laid his cheek against his pup's soft black hair. "With my luck and Sirius's keen instinct," Or lack of. "He'd probably think the baby is a hotdog or something."
Remus couldn't help remembering the strange game Lily took him one time to celebrate them almost graduating Hogwarts. A strange, American muggle game known as baseball where the teams tried to come out with the farthest swings of their bats and the fastest throws of their balls and quickest runs around the diamond field.
"You're out!" the umpire yelled as the batter failed to hit the ball.
Three strikes and he was done. Remus couldn't help but compare that game to what was now his life. He felt like he was the batter already marked with two strikes with one more swing left.
Weeks passed. His stomach was growing, practically the size of a melon. Sirius was still in the dark, which was downright sad since Kreacher soon figured it out after cleaning up another one of Remus's messes he failed to keep in before he reached the bathroom, handing him another glass of ginger-ale.
His healer was just as shocked when he saw her again for his next appointment.
"He still doesn't know?" she asked, leaning against the counter-top, surprise lightening her eyes.
Remus shook his head and blew hot air from the corners of his sealed lips, blowing locks of hair away from his forehead. "Sadly no."
She folded her arms against her chest, left brow arching. "And you don't want to just tell him?"
He wondered if he stopped by the waiting room and chatted with Harry in between runs to her office and here. "I do," he said. "But I also want it to be special. I kinda want him to figure it out on his own."
Her brow rose higher. "And the plump stomach doesn't paint a clear enough? Or the cravings?"
Remus rolled his eyes. Kreacher said the exact same thing this morning after Sirius headed to his studio, barely batting an eye at Remus's plate which consisted of sliced cantaloupes drizzled with syrup and ketchup and a side of strawberry yogurt mixed with relish.
The Healer offered him a sympathetic smile. "I know where you're coming from. It took awhile for my husband to catch up."
"Almost six months."
Six months! Remus's eyebrows nearly touched his hairline. It took a man six months to figure out his wife was expecting. He hoped that wouldn't be the case with Sirius. Or worse, he'd be one of those men who didn't realize what was happening till the water broke. "How did he figure it out?"
"With the help of a few shopping bags and special items."
Remus's brows creased questioningly. The Healer smiled at him and shared her story.
On Sirius's day off, Remus made a big show of coming into the kitchen with an armful of grocery bags, dumping them right on his sketchbook. Sirius managed to drop the pencil and pulled his hands back in time before they were crushed. Remus smiled up at the confused frown his love shot him and started unpacking.
"Lots of bags." Sirius commented.
"Lots of things to buy." Remus said.
Sirius's frown deepened before he shrugged and got up from his chair. Hope flared in Remus's chest as Sirius opened the special bag he laid out in front of him.
"Baby bottles," Sirius listed as he pulled them out. "Baby diapers. Baby wipes. And," His hands reached into the deepest contents of the bag and pulled out the special gift Remus picked up from the toy store. "A baby doll."
Remus bit his lip and nodded, even though Sirius's back was to him. Hope and anxiety rattled his chest as Sirius turned over to him, holding the doll close to his chest.
"Oh, Moony," he breathed.
Tears stinging his eyes, Remus let out a watery laugh as he nodded his head.
"I can't believe it completely slipped my mind."
"Well, you're not exactly known for your quick thinking."
"Ha, ha," Sirius remarked but wonder glowed in his eyes, shining brighter and brighter as more words spilled from his mouth. "It seems like it was only yesterday we were buying these things by the hour. Who knew something so small could need so much?" He sighed, shaking his head. "We should definitely start planning. Let's see. We'll need a cake obviously, and ice-cream. Can't have one without the other. Maybe even a clown if kiddo's up for it."
What the…? Excitement deflated from his body like a balloon as more words fell from Sirius's verbal waterfall. Cake? A clown?
"And we'll definitely need to start thinking of invites. I know he'll want Draco there, which means that my darling cousin," He rolled his eyes. "and her husband will grace us with their presence. Remind me to keep a flask. Merlin knows I'll need it. We should also invite Ron, too, since they're close, him and his family. I'm pretty sure Molly and Arthur will stop me from committing first degree murder if Narcissa pushes me to it. I think there are a couple of other friends from his playgroup."
What in the name of Merlin? "Why would we invite the Malfoys and the Weasleys over? Or children from a playgroup for that matter?"
Now Sirius stared at him like he was the daft one. "Well, you certainly can't have much fun at a party with only three people."
A party? Remus already knew baby showers were thrown to celebrate the little one's arrival, but he had a strong feeling that wasn't what Sirius was going on about. "Why are we throwing a party?"
"Why, for Harry of course. His birthday is less than a month away. It's good we start preparing."
From the corner of his eye, he spotted Kreacher rolling his eyes, smacking the palm of his hand against his forehead. Remus barely heard the sound over the sound of blood rushing to his head, his left eye twitching.
"Granted, I was a little slow with the diapers. Merlin knows how many we had to change when he was younger. Thankfully, this little guy," He held the baby doll up by the ankle like he was presenting a medal, letting the poor thing dangle. Remus's stomach gave a violent kick as he pictured a real baby, their baby, in the same position, hanging upside down, the blood rushing to their head. "made it clear. We need to stop by the toy-store to start looking for the right pres-"
"Are you really this stupid?!" Remus demanded. "Or have I simply been blinded to it all these years?"
Sirius's eyes widened at the harsh question, then narrowed coldly as his mind processed the words, the shock breaking apart into anger. "What the hell has your knickers in a knot? I knew it took me awhile but we still got time. Harry's birthday is weeks away, which gives us plenty of time to plan and prepare-"
"This isn't about a birthday party!" Remus snapped. "This is about you, me, and our family. And the changes-"
"Like the fact my boyfriend went from being a stuffy tightwad to a snappy, dramatic bitch on her period?"
Forget roaring. His blood was fuming like lava building inside a volcano before it exploded. "What?!"
"Then again maybe your mood-swings have to do with the strange food you've been stuffing your face with." So did he notice the cravings. Remus realized that Sirius may have see the strange dishes but didn't understand it, shuddering as he said, "I'll never be able to look at yogurt and relish the same way again. And no offense, Moony, but you should consider moderating a bit."
Every drop of blood, every muscle in his body, every nerve in his system, froze as he stared at his mate, fighting off the great urge to grab the frying pan by his right and use it to take a swing at his face. "What," he said through clenched teeth. "is that suppose to mean?"
"Well, you have put on a few pounds."
Remus's jaw dropped to the ground. Kreacher quickly-and wisely-speeded out of the kitchen, not wanting to witness a bloody execution that might go down.
"I'm not saying you're fat," Sirius went on. "Just making a simple observation that you've gotten quite, well, big-"
"I'M PREGNANT, YOU IDIOT!"
Sirius flinched, backing away as if he were punched in the gut, then quickly ducked down as a frying pan soared across the room, narrowly missing his head. By the time he was back on his feet, Remus was already climbing upstairs, cursing his idiotic mate with every step he took.
"Are you mad at Paddy, Moony?" Harry asked later on that night as he prepared him for bed. His teeth were brushed, his body showered and clad in a new set of pajamas. The only thing left to do was read him a story before sending him off to dreamland.
Only Remus was having trouble losing himself in the pages of the book as his mind went back to what happened in the kitchen. He was still reeling by how utterly dense, not to mention completely insensitive, Sirius was. Thinking a baby doll of all things was a hint pointing to early birthday shopping. Then has the audacity to call him fat right to his face.
He hoped for his Sirius's sake the man was thankful that the full moon wasn't close by or he'd have a lot more to worry about than a flying frying pan.
"Moony?" Harry shook his arm, bringing him back to the present.
"I am," he confessed. "But it will pass." Though Remus suspected it wouldn't be for a long, long time.
Harry nuzzled against him. Remus smiled, kissed the crown of his head, and turned to the next page. He barely finished the first sentence before a swift kick in the lower region cut off him with a stammered breath.
Barely reaching its' fourth month, the baby was already demonstrating their impressive strength. It made Remus fearful for the remaining months since the Healer informed him that the baby would grow more excited, much stronger in time till room ran out in the womb.
"Is the baby kicking again?" Harry asked.
Remus nodded weakly. Harry pressed his hands against the baby bump, a grin spreading across his face as the baby responded to the touch with a stronger kick.
The gesture nearly brought tears to Remus's eyes. He was initially worried about Harry's reaction to the news. For the past five years, he was the center of their world. With another child on board, he was going to have to share that world. To Remus's surprise and utter delight, Harry bubbled with excitement at the idea of being a big brother, listing out all the things they would do together as soon as the baby was big enough.
"Do you think the baby is gonna be like Paddy?"
It was funny how the idea didn't occur to him until Harry asked the question, which was odd given the fact a baby's genes could lean more towards one parent than the other.
Remus pictured their child, a miniature Sirius with his looks, his wicked mind, his smart mouth and sharp tongue. He let out a whimper as he realized with the child being younger, he'd carry even more energy than his mate, which meant more trouble for him. He'd be sporting gray hair before the child's third birthday. "Merlin, I hope not."
"Hey! I resent that."
They looked over at the door, watching Sirius breeze into the room, taking slow steps towards the bed as if he were approaching a bear's den with a very lethal mother bear in the midst. Given the anger coiling in his stomach, Remus couldn't say that the comparison wasn't too far off.
Sirius winched when his charming smile was met by a sneer, but he maintained the look for Harry. "Say, kiddo, think those teeth could use another scrub?"
"That's okay, Paddy," Harry said, climbing off the bed. "I'll leave you guys alone so you can talk." When he came over to Sirius, he gestured for the man to squat down. Once Sirius was at his level, Harry cupped his hand around his mouth and whispered loudly, "Tell him you're sorry first."
Despite his annoyance, a smile curved Remus's lips.
Sirius sent the boy off with a playful swat to the rear that made Harry laugh as he ran out from the room. "That kid is too much like James."
"That he is," Remus agreed. "And like Lily."
Sirius stood up and turned over to him, his eyes zeroing in at the baby bump barely concealed by his nightshirt, whistling lowly.
Remus stared back at him.
"Scale one to ten, how bad would it be if I start cracking pregnancy jokes?"
The fiery glare Remus shot him said more than enough.
"Okay, clearly ten billion and one," Sirius nodded. "Good to know."
Remus couldn't suppress the snort that escaped from his mouth as he rolled his eyes. Sirius took that as a sign of permission to approach him. He joined him in the bed and brought Remus to his chest, enveloping him in his arms. As much as Remus tried not to, the embers of his anger dimmed as the baby responded to Sirius's touches with a flutter of kicks.
"Hey little guy," Sirius cooed, patting his stomach. "Or little girl. Or both."
"Don't even joke about that," Remus warned. "And I'm still mad at you."
"I know, and you deserve to be since I was an arse. Does saying sorry, really sorry, help?"
Remus thought it over and, after what felt like a minute, nuzzled against Sirius's chest. "It's a start."
"Will worshipping you and the ground you walk on help me earn back points?"
"I already expect you to be doing that since I'm carrying your child."
Sirius's eyes gleamed mischievously. "Oh, so it's my child now?"
Sirius chuckled, and Remus couldn't resist the pull of his lips, melting at the soft kiss shared between them. When the kiss broke apart, Sirius said, "I'm curious, Moony. When kid three comes around, will you use a baby doll to break the news?"
Remus huffed, swatting his arm. "Our child isn't even born yet and you're already thinking about another one."
Sirius's brows jerked suggestively. "You know what they say, Moony. No such thing as planning too early. Especially for a family of seven."
Remus gawked at him. Seven?! Meaning he'd pop out three more kids! The look on his face must have been quite a sight since Sirius dissolved into loud laughter. He laughed so hard, he nearly fell out of Harry's bed. Remus swatted his arm harder for that.
"A family of five maybe. You're crazy if you think it will come to seven. Unless you wish to carry the last two." Sirius laughed harder. Remus hit his arm again. "Going back to your original question, I won't even bother waiting for you to catch up. I'll just bring you to the appointments."
"Poo," Sirius pouted, though the laughter wrinkling his face made it hard for him to keep that look. "And I was looking forward to more grand gestures from you. Like maybe a coffee mug with a rattle printed on it. No, a spoon with a precious engraving of tiny feet. No, wait, a crib! You'll buy the pieces and call me to help you build-"
Remus placed his hands against Sirius's chest and shoved him hard, knocking him off the bed. Sirius laughed as he went down.