Regret and Repentance
Remus Lupin sighed as he looked into the burning flames, Sirius Black sitting beside him. Even though it had been minutes since Harry had hurriedly ended their conversation, they still continued to sit there, lost in their own thoughts and memories.
The conversation they had just had with Harry persistently ran through their minds. The boy, with that look of shock and disappointment on his face as he spoke of his dad's foolish actions, broke their hearts. Why was it that dreaded memory that Harry had to see? It was very, very true that at that particular age, the Marauders had been bullying idiots, lost in their arrogance and thinking far too highly of themselves. What Lily had said was true - James went around hexing everyone who annoyed him, content in the knowledge that many of the teachers loved him and his friends far too much to get him into too much trouble.
I was a coward, Remus thought sadly as he leaned back in his chair, reminiscing on those days. I was too scared of losing the best friends I ever had to say anything to them about their constant bullying. I depended too much on their friendship to ever try to put a stop to their antics. He also knew, though, that despite all the faults the Marauders had possessed, they had also been kind and compassionate to him, and they'd had the sturdiest friendship of anyone around. They, after all, had put three years of time and effort into becoming Animagi for him. He had thought that once they learned of his lycanthropy, they would turn away and immediately tell the whole school, forcing him to leave. But they had not, and that alone had shocked him to his core.
"We truly were idiots, weren't we?"
The words, said in a regretful whisper, broke Remus from his thoughts. He turned to the man sitting beside him and saw his own sadness reflected in Sirius's eyes. "Of all the memories Harry had to see ... why did he have to see us acting like total berks?"
"I know, Sirius." Remus said quietly. "But you weren't the only one at fault for that cursed day. I was an idiot too, not having the strength to tell you and James that what you were doing to Snape was wrong."
"Did you know," Sirius continued after a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, "That after James grew up, he told me that he thought our behavior had turned Snape into the man he became? I told him to come off it, that he was being ridiculous. But now, I have to wonder ... was he somehow right? Does the way Snape treats Harry now come back to how we treated him in those days? I think he should definitely not take his grudge on us out on my bloody innocent godson, but I wonder ... is it our fault?" He clenched his fists, a look of anger suddenly coming over his face. "Dammit," he cursed. "Is this yet something else I have to blame myself for?"
"Sirius, it's no use," Remus sighed tiredly, running his hands through his greying hair. "What's done is done. We cannot change the past."
"Bloody hell, Moony, I know!" Sirius hissed, his face remaining furious. "I just want to know why Harry had to see that! Now, no matter what we tell him, no matter how much we tell him what a good person his father was, that he was the best friend we ever had, the first thing Harry will think of is Snape dangling upside down, us laughing all the while! And I could see in his eyes that he thinks he somehow made Lily marry him! I will not have my godson think such thoughts! I want him to know about the good moments, about how much in love him and Lily were once they got to know each other better. I want him to know about the proud beam that graced James's face, the shine of tears in his eyes when he held him for the first time. I want him to know of the fierce protectiveness he and Lily displayed whenever they talked about Harry growing up and having a peaceful future without Voldemort. ..." Sirius placed his head in his hands, his entire body trembling.
"Sirius." Remus placed a gentle hand on his only remaining friend's shoulder, instinctively knowing what Sirius was thinking. Even after all the years apart, their bond was still deep enough for that. "It isn't your fault Harry never got to know his parents. It's Peter's."
"Rubbish," Sirius spat. Silence reigned for a few seconds as he made direct eye contact with Remus. The fury suddenly ebbed away, only to be replaced with sorrow. "I deserved every second in Azkaban that I received," he said sorrowfully. "I was an arrogant asshole in school, and I never grew up even afterwards. I thought the world revolved around me, Moony, and it ruined each and every one of us."
Remus remained silent after this pronouncement, knowing there was nothing he could say to comfort his brother in all but blood. He instead kept his hand on Sirius's shoulder, trying to convey in that action what he could not say in words.
After about a minute, Sirius's face morphed into one of determination as he spoke once again. "Even if it's the last thing I do," he said resolutely, "I will make sure Harry knows how much his parents loved him. I will tell him how much his father grew up, and how his mother was incredibly happy with him. I will tell him how much they cherished each and every day they ever got with him, and I won't let him forget it."
Remus looked at his friend, and his words were true and sincere. "Me, too," he said quietly. "Me, too."
"And I swear a wizard's oath to you, Remus," Sirius continued as finally, a small smile graced his face, "I will be better from now on. I won't let doubt or mistrust ruin our friendship ever again. We're all that's left of the Marauders now, so we've got to hold onto it."
"And I say the same to you, Padfoot," Remus said as he smiled back. "Always. And we won't let Harry forget that we're always there for him."
"Absolutely." A sigh escaped Sirius's lips as he reached out to hug his best friend. "Thanks, Moony."
"You're welcome, Padfoot."