"I don't know what to do," Sirius finally says, dragging a hand down his face, attempting to cover his frustration. Remus places a hand on Sirius' nape, letting it rest there, the weight of it helping relax Sirius' laboured breathing. "I just don't know."
Remus doesn't know, either.
Remus watches Harry from the kitchen table as the boy pours himself a cup of tea. Tea, tea, tea. Harry declines sandwiches, chocolate, oatmeal - no matter how casually he or Sirius tried to offer them. But he would drink tea, countless pots every day.
"Harry?" Remus speaks, in a moment of bravery. It wasn't often that he overstepped his imagined boundaries. Harry leans against the counter and inhales the steam rising from his tightly-clutched mug.
"Hmm?" The boy doesn't look up. Harry's thin, translucent fingers are slowly gaining colour from the heat.
"Can I offer you some toast? We have leftover sausages from breakfast, Sirius saved you some. I could toss them in a pan and -"
"No, but thank you, Remus. That's very kind." Harry pads back upstairs.
Remus exhales, feeling like his stomach has dropped through the floor. If Harry didn't float off into the air, then he would float away on his sea of Darjeeling.
Sirius and Remus had anticipated Harry's return from school with glee and trepidation, respectively. Sirius had spent weeks getting Grimmauld Place in order, finally cleaning out the last of the cobwebs and putting together Harry's room with as much care as a robin building her nest.
As excited as Sirius was, Remus found himself becoming a ball of very tightly-wound nerves. Harry did not know the extent of Remus and Sirius' relationship. While Remus suspected that he had some idea, this did nothing to calm his anxiety.
Harry had insisted that he take a cab home from the station, so Sirius and Remus sat together in the kitchen and waited. Remus had made tea and bought chocolate and strawberry cakes, the expensive ones, from the market. They had scrapped Sirius' "WELCOME HOME, HARRY!" banner after it had, carelessly, been left on the counter, and had, carelessly, been lit on fire with the stove. No fingers were pointed.
Remus fidgeted with his teacup.
"Remus, honestly. Don't worry. Harry is very fond of you," Sirius had insisted, running a thumb roughly over the back of Remus' hand. "Anyway, the world is not the way it was when we were his age - these things aren't…"
"I know they aren't. I know."
There was a knock at the door. Sirius' eyes locked onto Remus'. "It'll be alright." They stood up and made their way to the foyer, Sirius with an extra hop in his step. In spite of himself, Remus smiled at Sirius' visible excitement. They opened the door.
Sirius' breath hitched.
Harry's in his bedroom getting unpacked, and Sirius paces the kitchen in a state of barely-contained shock. Remus leans against the counter ineffectually.
"We'll figure this out, okay? Sirius?" Remus says weakly. Unconvincingly. He isn't sure Sirius even hears him. "We'll talk to him. We'll fix it. Harry will be fine."
Sirius collapses against the counter next to Remus, sliding down to the floor. Remus slides down with him and, fighting his self-consciousness, grabs Sirius' hand.
"He's so thin," Sirius finally whispers, his head bent forward, hair shielding his eyes from Remus' view. "How could they have let this happen? Dumbledore, Minerva? His friends? Why wasn't anyone watching him?" He slams his fist against the floor, slams his head back against the cupboard. Remus winces, listening for footsteps on the stairs. There were none.
"I don't know how it could have happened, Sirius. But you can keep an eye on him, now," Remus assures him, pressing a kiss against Sirius' jaw. Beyond that, Remus doesn't know what to do, what to say. The two of them had barely kept it together after the door opened and Harry stood there in front of them, looking gaunt and exhausted. But Harry had smiled, and thrown his arms around Sirius. Remus had watched over Harry's shoulder as Sirius' face went from concerned to horrified as he tightened his arms around the boy.
"I'll go ask Harry what he wants for dinner. We can pick up some take-away, anything he'd like," Sirius says, hopefully. Remus sighs and runs a hand down Sirius' back.
"That sounds lovely."
They stand up, and Sirius starts up the staircase. Remus watches him go.
Sirius had been unable to get Harry to commit to anything more than, "Sirius, that's so thoughtful, but you really don't have to do anything special. I'm just happy to be home," so Remus volunteers to go pick up the take-aways and give them some time alone.
When Remus returns, weighted down with heavy styrofoam containers packed haphazardly into a paper bag, he can hear laughter in the parlour. Oh, thank goodness. He drops his keys onto the kitchen table and begins to unpack his fragrant haul. Mutton tikka, saag aloo, chana masala, plain naan, and jasmine rice: Remus had chosen the dishes conscientiously. Nothing heavy in cream, vegetarian options, not so much food that the portions would seem intimidating. He grabs bowls out of the cupboard and forks out of the drawer and began to set the table. He sets the second bowl down harder than he meant to, a loud clunk reverberating through the kitchen, and the parlour falls silent.
"Remus is back with supper," he hears Sirius say. Apologetically, he senses. Remus stands stock-still in the kitchen and listens, the aromas of coriander and garlic swirling around him, listening for Harry's response. Ears straining, he barely hears it: "Okay."
"So, I'm sure you've had to run through the story once already, but how was the trip home?" Remus tries to distract Harry from Sirius' stare. From the moment the three had sat down and Remus had spooned out their food, Sirius had not taken his eyes off Harry's face, Harry's fork, Harry's bowl.
"That's alright," Harry smiles brightly, putting down the fork he had just piled with rice and mutton. Despite the thinness of his face, the dark circles, Harry's eyes are still as bright as ever. "It was good - I slept most of the way. It's always a little sad to say goodbye to Hogwarts for the summer, though. Hagrid nearly crushed me with a hug before I left."
Remus sees Sirius start to open his mouth and catches his eye, silencing him before he's able to comment. Of course he nearly crushed you, you're thin as a twig. He forces a smile. "That's good to hear, Harry."
Remus watches as Harry drags his fork through his rice, fills it, lifts it almost to his mouth, then puts it down again. He feels Sirius grab his hand under the table. "So how are you and Sirius faring in London? Are you the city type?"
Remus' eyes flick to Sirius', which are begging for him to do something, to not let Harry play this game.
"It's been different," Remus says weakly. Harry laughs.
"I didn't take you for the city type, Professor." Remus' chest tightens. Professor. Underneath the table, he lets go of Sirius' fingers.
"He didn't eat!" Sirius growls, as he and Remus do the washing-up.
"He did, Sirius. He ate some of everything. You did well," Remus insists. He doesn't let on that it was worrisome that, after dinner, Harry had immediately disappeared back up to his bedroom. There's no need to get Sirius worked up even more, especially as their suspicions are nothing more than that: suspicion. Does Sirius even know about these things? Remus wonders. Remus spent enough time in the library when he was younger reading the DSM-III to try and understand his own neuroses to at least have a passing knowledge of mental illnesses.
Is Sirius aware that, if this is what they were even dealing with, what Harry has is an illness?
"What do you think?" Sirius pleads. Remus snaps back to the present, passing a bowl across the sink for Sirius to rinse.
"What we should do. To fix him." Remus bites his lip. What we should do. He cares for the boy, but the thought of implicating himself in this is terrifying. It's… parental. But, of course, Remus can't let Sirius handle it alone. God, no. That would be a disaster.
"Give it a few days. Maybe even a couple of weeks. These things can be… transient," Remus says, not believing the words even as he speaks them. He changes the subject. "What did you talk about while I was out?"
Sirius frowns at the the washcloth in his hand, but answers. "Just the regular catching-up. We laughed about Dumbledore's eccentricities, he told a very charming anecdote about Molly's son and a mishap in potions…" Sirius looks at Remus helplessly. "Moony, he seems happy."
Remus places a damp hand on the small of Sirius' back, but says nothing.