Summary: Draco Malfoy tells Harry a few things about his godfather that Harry might prefer not to know. Slightly AU scenes which did not take place during GoF, but could have. Slash SB/?
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the people in his life are the property of J.K. Rowling. I promise to return them unharmed. (Too bad she won’t promise the same.)
Author’s Note: Please forgive Ron for being a touch homophobic. Due to the “scarlet woman” comment in GoF, I believe that wizards in general, and the Weasleys in specific, are sexually very conservative.
As if Harry needed any more reason to detest Potions class than the presence of Malfoy at the table behind him and Snape glaring at him from the front the classroom, the stench of the murtlap entrails they were stewing would be it. He looked over at Ron beside him and saw that he wasn’t faring much better. Ron’s long nose was wrinkled in disgust, and his skin had the same slightly greenish cast it had had the time that Ron had vomited slugs.
“Heard any news about Sirius Black lately, Potter?” Malfoy asked quietly so as not to attract Snape’s attention.
For a moment, Harry wondered if Malfoy had heard something that Harry had not, but he reminded himself that if Sirius had been recaptured, the Ministry would be shouting it from the rooftops.
“No, not that it’s any of your business, Malfoy,” Harry answered as he sliced the next ingredient for the potion.
“Just wondering how my dear cousin is getting along while on the run.”
Now Harry was certain that Malfoy was just trying to get a rise out of him. Sirius related to a family like the Malfoys? Impossible.
“Your cousin? Yeah right.”
“First cousin once removed, actually,” Malfoy continued in his mocking drawl. “Black is my mother’s maiden name. If you don’t believe me, ask Weasley.”
Harry looked over at Ron, silently begging him to laugh in Malfoy’s face and declare it untrue. But Ron just looked back with a worried crease between his brows.
“It’s no big deal, Harry,” Ron whispered. “All the pureblood families are interrelated. If it makes you feel any better, I think Sirius is my third cousin or something. And we’re all related to you somehow.”
“I’d hate to be closely related to a Weasley,” Malfoy sneered, “but the Blacks are a noble family I’m proud to be part of. Almost all Slytherins for generations.”
Harry felt his blood grow cold, and he tried to concentrate on slicing his caterpillars. How often was he destined to be taken by surprise like this? Perhaps this had been part of the reason people had been so willing to believe Sirius guilty of being a Death Eater. Harry wondered if he would have been as willing to believe Sirius in the Shrieking Shack if he had known.
“I’ve been told that it was quite a scandal when Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor,” Malfoy continued.
Harry glanced over at Snape, wondering when he’d tell Malfoy to stop talking. No Gryffindor could get away with this much talking in class. Snape was watching with interest and seemed to be enjoying the fact that Malfoy was causing Harry discomfort.
“But of course that was nothing compared to the scandal that got him disowned by the family,” Malfoy said trying to incite Harry’s curiosity.
Ron deliberately knocked a knife onto the floor and used picking it up as an excuse to face Malfoy briefly. “Whatever it was,” Ron said quietly, “I’m sure that if the Blacks considered it a scandal, that we’d probably stand and applaud.” Ron gave Harry a smile as he turned back to measuring powdered mayflies.
“Would you really?” Malfoy sneered and then laughed quietly.
Harry felt distinctly uneasy. He was really tired of other people knowing things he didn’t but should. He was really, really tired of Malfoy knowing things that he didn’t.
“I guess that answers that question, eh Goyle?” Malfoy asked his Potions partner.
“Hunh?” Goyle grunted.
“What question, Malfoy?” Harry asked angrily and under his breath.
“We’ve always wondered who would end up the loser in the Potter-Granger-Weasley love triangle. Turns out it’ll be Granger.” Malfoy laughed again, and Goyle joined in a moment later, although he didn’t seem to know why he was laughing.
“What the hell are you talking about, Malfoy?” Ron demanded angrily. Harry glanced quickly at Ron and saw that his ears were red. Harry kept his face half turned as Malfoy leaned in closer across the table with a malicious glint in his eyes.
“Sirius Black was disowned by his family when they found out that he was buggering one of his friends—one of his male friends. He’s a poof, Potter, a perverted freak who likes getting fucked up the ass.”
“Shut up, Malfoy,” Harry said.
“You’re such a liar, Malfoy,” Ron said at the same moment, but Harry did not feel as confident that Malfoy was lying. Malfoy generally preferred to taunt with truths and half-truths rather than with outright lies. And Harry didn’t know anything about Sirius. He’d only met him twice, in highly trying circumstances, and exchanged a few letters. Those letters had been about Harry’s life, Harry’s situation—not Sirius’s.
“He tried to send a love letter to one of his friends,” Malfoy continued, “but he made the mistake of using a family owl. His mother had wisely trained it to bring all outgoing correspondence to her first.” Malfoy was enjoying his little tale far too much for it to be mere fabrication. Harry tried to wrench his attention away from Malfoy, but he realized that he had no clue which step of the potion he was now on. “She read all the filthy and perverted things that he was fantasizing about doing to his friend, and she threw him out of the house. He went to live with—why, that’s right,” Malfoy pretended to be newly remembering some detail of the story. “He went to live with his best friend, James Potter. How very interesting.”
Harry’s brass scales crashed to the floor, and Harry was sure Ron hadn’t done it deliberately this time.
“Do be careful, Weasley,” Snape sneered. “I doubt your family can afford to buy you new equipment if you break what you have.”
The usually cool dungeon seemed unusually warm and close. The stench of murtlap entrails made Harry lightheaded, and an image of Sirius’s face, pale intense eyes boring into Harry’s own, swam before him.
“Believe me, Harry,” Sirius had begged, “I never betrayed James and Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them.” Sirius had begged Harry to believe that he had loved James and Lily, and Harry had believed. Harry still believed it, but now it was an uncomfortable thought. Harry was afraid that he was about to be ill, and it wasn’t because of the murtlap entrails.
“Your potions should be complete by now,” Snape announced as he stalked around the room peering into each cauldron. “Green, Longbottom? If you had remembered to add your caterpillars before the powdered mayflies, this would be aqua. Well, well, look what we have here. Apparently, Potter forgot to add his mayflies altogether. Congratulations, Longbottom. Your attempt at a potion isn’t today’s greatest failure. Excellent work, Malfoy. You did excellent work today.”
Harry glanced back at Malfoy’s cauldron and saw an emerald green potion. Malfoy smirked.
Harry was packing away his supplies in his potions’ cupboard at the end of class when Malfoy came up behind him and resumed the taunting.
“Interesting that your parents chose someone who likes to fuck boys to be their son’s guardian. Awfully careless and irresponsible of them.”
Harry turned to face him, glaring angrily. “Don’t you dare talk about my parents, Malfoy.” Harry glanced past Malfoy’s shoulder and saw that Snape, at the far end of the classroom, had his back to them. However, he was in the room, so Harry kept his now tightly balled fists at his sides. “My parents died protecting me. Do you really think yours would do the same for you?” Malfoy flinched just slightly, and Harry knew that he had scored a blow in this verbal battle.
Malfoy was silent for a moment, and then he smiled. “I can only assume your dear martyred mother entrusted you to Sirius because she didn’t know about him. I wonder why your father never told her?” He raised his eyebrows as if to say, “I win,” and strolled out of the classroom.
* * * * *
“What was going on with you and Malfoy in class?” Hermione asked as the three sat down for lunch in the Great Hall.
Harry did not want to tell her, but Ron took the decision out of his hands. “Malfoy’s such a liar. He said that Snuffles is gay.”
Hermione laughed and then covered her mouth as she tried to stifle her laughter. Harry felt like dying inside. If levelheaded Hermione found this worthy of laughter, and Ron found it unbelievable, then homosexuality must be as wrong as he had always been told. And if Malfoy’s insinuations were true, and his father had been gay, what did it say about him?
“Sorry,” Hermione apologized. “You said ‘Snuffles’ and I just got this vivid mental image of two dogs. But seriously, how would Malfoy know?”
“His mum is Sirius’s cousin,” Harry replied weakly.
“Oh.” She blinked for a moment. “O.K., maybe he is gay. Big deal.” She began eating her lunch unconcernedly.
“What’d you mean, ‘Big deal?’” Ron asked around a mouthful of food. “It’s not normal.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full, Ron. Being gay is like being left-handed.”
Harry laughed in shock. “What? My Aunt Petunia is left-handed, and I certainly can’t imagine her—I can’t imagine her with Uncle Vernon either, but that’s another story.”
Hermione shook her head with a frown quirking up at the corners into a smile. “I didn’t say that left-handed people are gay; I said that they are similar. Look, some people are born right-handed, and some are born left-handed. The majority are right-handed, but does that mean that the left-handed people are abnormal or wrong?”
“No,” Harry answered, and even Ron shook his head slightly.
“However, at various points in history, in various cultures, left-handed people have been discriminated against and forced to hide their natural tendencies by using their right hands instead.”
Harry could see Hermione’s point. Even if Sirius—and possibly James—was gay, it was natural. Although Harry still wasn’t sure if he believed that or just wanted to believe it. However, the idea that gay people might feel forced to hide by pretending to be straight bothered him. Had his parents’ marriage all been a lie? And if it was, had his mother known? Or had she died believing the lie?
“Or to use an analogy closer to home,” Hermione continued, “the majority of the population are Muggles. Does that mean that wizards and witches are abnormal?”
“According to my aunt and uncle, yes,” Harry replied. This analogy actually helped Harry feel more accepting of this situation than anything else could. Why was Harry having this reaction that homosexuality was wrong? Because the Dursleys had taught him so. He didn’t believe them when they told him that he was a freak, so why should he believe them when they said that homosexuals were freaks? A thought struck Harry, and he almost choked on his pumpkin juice as he began to laugh.
“What?” Ron asked with wide eyes.
“No wonder my aunt and uncle made me live ‘in a closet’ until I was eleven!”
Hermione laughed along with him, but Ron, apparently unfamiliar with the expression, merely looked bewildered.
* * * * *
Although talking to Hermione had helped Harry feel a bit better about the situation, he still had some rather important questions that needed to be asked, and Sirius was the only one with the answers. He tried writing a few times, but he couldn’t find the right words. In the end, he wrote only one question. “May I come see you on Sunday?”
Harry set off for Hogsmeade and the cave beyond wearing his invisibility cloak, carrying a bag of food supplied by the helpful house elves in the kitchen, and feeling full of trepidation. As he drew within sight of the stile that marked the end of Hogsmeade’s main street, Snuffles was not initially in sight. A moment later, Harry saw a huge black dog carrying a newspaper in his mouth and approaching from a side street. Knowing that he couldn’t be seen, Harry continued to head for the stile, planning to make his presence known once they both arrived there. Snuffles had other ideas. He lifted his nose, scented the air, and headed straight toward Harry.
“I’d be flattered if I didn’t realize that you are actually making a beeline for the food,” Harry said quietly when Snuffles came near. Snuffles gave a happy bark and waved his tail like a furry flag.
When they reached the cave and Sirius transformed back, Harry was content to just sit and watch his godfather eat for a few minutes. As much as he wanted answers, he dreaded asking the questions.
“O.K., Harry,” Sirius said as he tossed a chicken leg to Buckbeak and leaned back against the cave wall, “you didn’t come all the way out here to deliver food. An owl could have done that. What’s bothering you?”
It was tempting to lie and discuss the tournament, but Harry stared down at the designs he had drawn in the dust of the cave floor and said, “Something happened in Potions class.”
“Damn it,” Sirius growled. “What did that greasy-haired git do now?”
“Nothing,” Harry said quickly as he looked up again. “Nothing more that usual that is. It was—we have Potions class with the Slytherins, which means that we have it with Draco Malfoy.”
Sirius smiled slightly. “Narcissa and Lucius’s son, right?” Harry nodded. “I remember when they got married. I thought that he’d make her as miserable as she deserved to be, and vice versa. Is Draco a spoiled brat, or did he turn out decent in spite of them?”
“He’s spoiled rotten, alright. His father even bought his way onto the Quidditch team by buying the entire team new brooms.”
Sirius laughed at that. “So what did Draco do that has your knickers in a twist?” Sirius was watching Harry with his intense pale eyes, and Harry realized with a start how much they resembled Draco’s eyes. Harry stared down at the ground again.
“Well, he was sitting behind Ron and me, and –” Harry nervously licked his lips, “—he was talking about you.”
“Me? What about me?”
Harry started with the easiest to discuss. “He said that he was related to you, which I hadn’t known, and some stuff about your family.”
“Oh.” Sirius was quiet for a few moments, and Harry glanced up without lifting his head. Sirius raked his fingers through his hair as he stared off at Buckbeak. Harry dared to raise his head a bit. “Whatever he told you about them, chances are it was true. They were a pretty despicable bunch.” He looked back at Harry quite suddenly. “But I’m not them, Harry. I didn’t buy into that whole pureblood superiority rubbish. By the time I was sixteen, I’d had enough, and I moved in with your dad and his parents. Your grandparents were better parents to me than my own ever were.”
Harry knew that he was supposed to like hearing that. He knew he should smile or—something, but he couldn’t. Sirius had just confirmed part of Malfoy’s story. Harry felt his stomach lurch and he looked down at the ground again.
Harry struggled for a way to ask. “Why did you leave home when you did?”
Sirius sighed. “The real question is why didn’t I leave sooner? They didn’t approve of anything about me: my friends, my clothes, what I planned to do with my life after Hogwarts. Sound like typical parent-teenager stuff?”
Harry looked up and nodded. He even managed to smile slightly.
“Well, it was, but with the Black family twist. They disliked my friends because some of them weren’t pureblood. They disliked when I wore Muggle clothing. They disliked my intended profession, an auror, because I’d be fighting against Voldemort instead of helping him ‘purify the magical community.’” Harry inhaled sharply at that, and Sirius nodded wryly. “Like I said, the real question is why didn’t I leave earlier? Did that answer your questions, Harry?”
Harry nodded. Sirius’s version of the story definitely did not match Malfoy’s. He found himself saying so. “Malfoy said you got kicked out of the house because of a love letter.”
Sirius’s eyes widened. “The letter. That’s what you really want to ask me about. You want to know if I’m gay.”
Harry felt queasy again, but he didn’t look away this time. Time seemed to stretch as he waited for Sirius to speak again.
“The last fight I ever had with my parents was over a letter, and it was a love letter of a sort, although probably not the way you mean. This was shortly after I made the huge mistake of telling Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow. When we left school, Remus wasn’t speaking to me. I found myself writing to him almost daily. He never replied, of course, but I hoped he was reading them. One letter was about two feet long and just consisted of the words, ‘I’m sorry,’ over and over again. I remember that another started with the words, ‘If you’re hoping that I’m having a miserable summer, don’t worry, I am.’ Then I went on to tell him in excruciating detail just how miserable I was.”
A shadow seemed to pass over Sirius’s face, and although he was still looking at Harry, he didn’t seem to see him anymore.
“I had to sneak the letters out of the house to post them. My parents had taken away my owl and forbidden me to write to certain people, Remus among them. They didn’t approve of him. He wasn’t ‘good enough’ to be a friend of their son.”
“Because he’s a werewolf?”
“No, they didn’t know that. If they had, expulsion would have been the least of his worries. They didn’t approve of him because his mother was Muggle-born.
“One night, my parents were out for the evening. I hadn’t been able to sneak out all day, and I decided to risk using my mother’s owl. The damn bird took the letter to my mother. When she came home, she was livid that I was writing to Remus even though they had forbidden me to do so.
“Usually, I just let her rave. Other people saw my temper, whether they deserved it or not, but my parents didn’t. Whatever they said, whatever they did, I just took it. But that night, she kept saying that Remus wasn’t good enough for me. It was ridiculous for her to say that when it was so obvious that it was the other way around. I’m not good enough for Remus. I never have been, and I never will be. I let him down over and over.
“I told James later that I just snapped and started shouting back, but I don’t think that’s quite right. It was more like I suddenly knew that I couldn’t stay immersed in that poison anymore; I had to leave. And that set me free to say what I wanted. And I said it; I said it all. I told my mother what I thought of her, I told her what I thought of our family, and—and I told her what I thought of Remus. I told her that I was in love with Remus.
“Yes, Harry, I’m gay. If you’re not comfortable with that—”
“No,” Harry assured him hastily, “I think I am.” And he hoped that it was true.
Sirius smiled in relief. “Good. I wasn’t trying to keep it from you, but we haven’t had much time to get to know each other yet. And, I admit, I was worried about how you’d react. Sexual mores in the wizarding world are pretty conservative. Most don’t approve of homosexuality.”
“A lot of Muggles don’t approve either. My aunt and uncle don’t, but they’re idiots. Hermione said a lot of smart things about why being gay is just as normal as being straight.”
Sirius chuckled. “I knew I liked that girl. Here’s a piece of godfatherly advice for you, Harry. If you like girls, that one is a keeper.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “She’s just a friend! Why does everyone think we’re a couple this year?” When Sirius finished laughing at him, Harry asked, “When did you know?”
Sirius became thoughtful. “When did I know that I was gay? Fifth year, although in retrospect, the clues were there earlier. When did I tell James? Sixth year, and he was great about it. When did I realize that I was in love with Remus? Also sixth year, although I didn’t tell him until seventh.
“Isn’t that awful? I told my wretched hag of a mother that I loved Remus before I told Remus.
“When did Remus and I become a couple? Seventh year. When did we break up?” The shadow was back on Sirius’s face. “Hard to say. Around your birthday , I guess. It’s hard to pinpoint a moment when we ceased being a couple. It was so gradual. We started spending more and more time apart, avoiding each other. Even when we were together, it became like we were strangers sharing a flat. We had stopped trusting each other.
“Now it’s clear that the miserable rat planted those first seeds of mistrust in my mind, but I did the rest of the damage myself. If I hadn’t pulled away from Remus and forced him to pull away from me, we would have realized that Peter had to be the spy. All my fault again.”
“Peter’s fault,” Harry said quietly. He wanted to know if Sirius and Lupin had repaired their relationship, but it seemed rude to ask.
Sirius didn’t appear to have heard Harry. “I wasn’t even there for the last two full moons before— I’d missed full moons before, but only if it was unavoidable. But in September and October, I just simply chose not to go. I was afraid that—” Sirius closed his eyes as if the memories were painful. “Remus hides his feelings when he’s human, but not when he’s a wolf. I was afraid of what I’d discover. I was afraid that he hated me and more afraid that he still loved me.”
Harry still wanted to know if they were a couple again. He searched for an innocuous way to ask. “Have you and Professor Lupin been in touch with each other?”
Sirius nodded and smiled slightly. “Dumbledore forwards our letters to each other. We don’t dare write to each other directly or see each other. The Ministry suspects Remus of helping me, and they’ve been watching him.” Sirius’s smile brightened. “But in his last letter, he said that they are following him less often now, so maybe soon.”
“That would be good,” Harry agreed.
“Really? I wasn’t sure how you’d feel about the possibility of our getting back together—not that I know we will. There’s so much we need to work through, and only so much you can say in a letter.”
Harry thought of his own anguished attempts to write his latest letter to Sirius. “I know the feeling.”
“But you really wouldn’t mind, Harry? I’m still hoping that someday soon we’ll be able to live together, that maybe the three of us could live together, but if you’re uncomfortable with it, with us—”
Harry was stunned. Sirius loved Lupin; he’d just said so. Now Sirius was saying that Harry’s opinion mattered. Harry’s opinion had never mattered to anyone—except maybe Ron—and never about something this important.
“Why would I mind? I like Professor Lupin.”
Sirius’s smile lit up his face again. “That’s what your parents wanted, you know. If anything happened to them, they wanted Remus and I to raise you together. Lily said that between the two of us, we’d be wonderful parents. I don’t think she quite trusted me to handle the job solo, but she probably suspected that James would be just as lost without her.” Sirius looked up at the roof of the cave and blinked rapidly. “Well, before I begin bawling like a baby, and make you think I’m an utter poof—even though I am—we’d better get you back to school.”
Snuffles’s tail wagged all the way back to Hogsmeade.
* * * * *
Harry had Ron and Hermione’s full attention the moment he reentered the Gryffindor common room.
“Well? Is he?” Ron asked in a quiet voice as soon as Harry sat down beside them.
“Yeah, he is,” Harry said with a smile. “And Hermione, remember that mental image of two dogs? Just change one into a wolf.”