NON-MAGIC AU WHERE REMUS & SIRIUS NEVER MET UNTIL NOW (in America, for convenience)
A/N: This was written for Round 12 of Season 5 of the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition (this is an AU fic). I'm Chaser 1 for the Caerphilly Catapults.
My prompt was to write about 2 characters in an employer/employee relationship. I got Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. Get ready for the crack. (DID I MENTION IT'S AN AU?)
My optional prompts were: 1. (video) (segment of Jimmy Kimmel asking kids to explain gay marriage – not available in my country), 3. (quote) "In a world gushing blood day & night, you never stop mopping up pain." – Aberjhani, 4. (word) name
NON-MAGIC AU WHERE REMUS & SIRIUS NEVER MET UNTIL NOW (in America, for convenience)
FOR GOD'S SAKE, THIS IS AN AU.
Remus Lupin was skeptical, at first, about hiring Sirius Black. After all, the man had done time in prison, and it showed. He was huge, and had a scruffy appearance. Even though he had been freed when it came to light that all accusations against him were false, these factors made Remus hesitate. The children might be afraid of him, after all. But ultimately, Remus had a good feeling about the man, and he decided to hire him on the spot. Well, it wasn't like anyone else was applying, either.
It turned out that he needn't have worried at all. The kids at Moony Day Care loved Sirius. He was a gentle, careful giant—the kind of man who you could picture caring for a baby bird, though at first it trembled in his large hands.
Wow, Remus thought to himself, Where did that thought come from? He shook his head and looked down just in time to notice that some of the peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches he'd been making had turned out all peanut-butter, or indeed all jelly. He quickly switched the pieces of bread around and closed the sandwiches, before calling the children and his employee in for lunch. That was clearly enough daydreaming for one day, he thought.
"Remus," Sirius said one day, after working for Remus for several months, "I was wondering something."
"Oh?" Remus asked him.
"Well, I…" Sirius started. "See, my landlord is kicking me out…"
Remus frowned. "And…why is that?" he asked cautiously.
Sirius was silent for a moment, before he confessed, "Because I got in a fight with him about giving one of my neighbors—really nice woman with a kid about 2 years old—extra time to come up with her rent."
Remus had not known exactly what to expect from this conversation, but that certainly hadn't been top of the list. "Oh," he said, "Um…what can I do for you?"
"Well, I've noticed you've got this spare bedroom, and I was wondering if you'd let me use it until I get a new place? I'd never ask for something this big, except I don't want to get all dirty sleeping on the streets when I've got kids to care for…"
"Oh. Oh!" Remus said, slowly comprehending the request, "Oh, yes, of course you can stay!"
Sirius looked rather surprised to hear this. "Oh," he said, then the significance seemed to dawn on him. "Great! I'll bring my stuff by tomorrow early, and I'll just stick it all in the spare room, and be ready for the kids when they get here. There's not that much, to be honest. That all right?"
Remus had had inklings before, but living with Sirius made it quite obvious that he found his employee very, very attractive.
It was impossible not to notice when Sirius came out of the shower with nothing on except a towel. He was lean, fit, and his lopsided smile made him almost irresistible.
The worst part was that Remus didn't even know if Sirius could be interested. Sexuality had never come up in conversation, and it certainly wasn't appropriate to discuss it around the children.
And then there was the whole employer/employee relationship. It would be inappropriate to be in a relationship with his employee, even if Sirius by some stretch of the imagination wanted to be. And if word got out to the parents, they might be less than accepting. For a lot of people, homosexuality was still equated with child molestation. He could name one celebrity he'd heard about on the news who was particularly not helping matters.
But, even despite Remus' growing attraction to Sirius, they worked and lived well together. He couldn't have asked for a better roommate, and the companionship of living together and sharing responsibilities such as cooking—well, he hadn't even known he wanted that.
One night after they had been living together for three months, over a home-cooked meal, Sirius said, "So, I've been looking for places…"
The phrase hit Remus like a punch to the gut. "O—oh?" he said, trying not to give anything away.
"Yeah," Sirius said, "I've found this place on the other side of town. I'd have a long bus-ride to work, but I'd be out of your hair."
Who says I want you out of my hair? thought Remus. "How far is it?" he asked aloud.
"It took me an hour and a half to get there on the bus, from here," said Sirius.
Remus frowned. "That's ridiculous!" he blurted.
Sirius looked like he didn't know quite what to say. He sat there, fork halfway to his mouth, lasagna dripping slowly back to his plate. "It's—it's all I can afford," he said finally, looking uncomfortable.
"Then stay here!" Remus said without thinking. Then he stopped. "Unless… unless you want to move out? More privacy?"
Sirius' eyes were very wide. "I…I never thought that staying was an option. I did promise it was only for a little while, but…I've really liked living here…with you…"
With a suddenness that never gets old, the two men abandoned their dinners to kiss each other, and one thing led to another, and it became very clear that Sirius was not moving out.
They both agreed that they should keep their relationship secret from the children. As far as the children knew, they were just good friends. Which was true, so it wasn't a lie, per se.
Somehow or other, the parents found out that Remus and Sirius were living together, and it went to hell from there. Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy, whose young son Draco was enrolled at the day-care, didn't think it appropriate for the two male guardians and teachers to share lodgings. This infuriated Remus. They had said nothing about Sirius' time in prison, but as soon as it looked like the teachers were "out," there was outrage. The cry was picked up by a disturbing number of other parents, and not long after that, Remus and Sirius received a letter telling to expect a call from someone who had quite a lot of power over their business. Well, Remus' business. He'd been thinking about making Sirius a partner for a while, but that discussion was obviously going to have to be tabled while they were watched to see if they did anything "deviant" while the inspector was there.
She arrived exactly five minutes before the children were supposed to be dropped off for the day. Of course, there were one or two already there, and this she took note of. She was very severe, an elderly woman with grey hair and an unsettling gaze.
Sirius looked as nervous as Remus felt, and Remus' heart broke when he realized that Sirius had been cheated by authority figures before. Remus Lupin had always been told that being innocent meant there would be no punishment, but Sirius had had a different experience entirely.
Suddenly, Remus knew what he had to do. He would turn this into a teachable moment, for everyone. When all the children had gathered in a circle to start the day, he said, as he always did, "Hello. How are you today?"
There was a chorus of "Good, Mr. Lupin! How are you?" from the circle.
"I'm great!" he said, with much more confidence than he felt, "And I want to talk to you about something today."
"What?" yelled the children.
"Love," he said, placing his hands over his heart. "Everybody loves someone! Let's go around the circle and tell me one person that you love. I'll start. I love Mr. Black!"
Sirius' face reddened, but he beamed at his partner from across the circle. The pink woman pursed her lips and wrote something down.
"I love my mom and dad!" said the first child.
"I love my big brother!" said the second, and so on around the circle to Sirius, who said, "I love Mr. Lupin!" with a grin on his face. The second half of the circle yielded similar results: "I love my dog," "I love my aunt Petunia," "I love my cousin Harry," etc.
"That's great!" Remus said when the circle was complete. "Now, what does it mean to love someone? I think loving someone means you like sitting and talking with them. What do you think?"
"Love means wanting to be close to someone!"
"Love means saying 'I love you.'"
"Love's when my brother gives me the last piece of his birthday cake!"
From the mouths of babes, Remus thought with a smile, as every child came up with something innocent and pure which meant "love" to them.
He kept the discussion going. He asked them who is allowed to love who, and why? He asked them about marriage, and families, and whether their parent's would stop loving them if they had a little sister or brother.
The response was unanimous and filled with childish innocence. If nothing else, Remus had made the point that none of these children had been exposed to sexual love. The closest they ever came was talking about kissing, and that was presented as a normal part of loving someone.
Remus felt triumphant when the discussion time was over and the kids moved on to playing games in the backyard.
"Mr. Lupin," the woman stopped him on his way out the door to look after the children outdoors.
"Yes?" he said, pretending he had no idea what she was going to say. Actually, who was pretending? He had no idea how his little jury had been received. But when he looked at the woman, he saw a small smile on her severe face.
"I've seen enough," she said. "Please, join your husband in the back yard. I can show myself out."
"He's not my husband," was all Remus could think to say.
"Really?" she asked. "Then I would, as they say, 'get on that,' Mr. Lupin."
She turned and left while he was still standing there, staring at the place she'd been standing.
So, they lost the Malfoys. And a few others. Lucius Malfoy's exact statement had been, "We only want to do what's best for our little boy. Of course, he's upset about being taken out of Moony Day Care, but in a world gushing blood day and night, you never stop mopping up pain."
Still, they went on together, and they continued to care for children of parents who trusted them. Molly Weasley in particular sent each of her seven children there. Her quote in the newspaper said, "Who cares if they love one another? They are upstanding, trustworthy teachers and I have trusted each of my seven children's lives to them, and if I had any more, they'd be going to Moony Day Care, too!"