FIC: Making It Right, by GatewayGirl, HP/RL/SB (3 of 5) Title: Making It Right Author: GatewayGirl Pairing: HP/RL/SB Rating: NC-17 Canon-compliancy: Through HBP for the adult Harry; backstory through September '81 for the others. Warnings: Light bondage, vice Notes: This is the sequel to Worlds Together. It does not continue that pairing. Thanks to dacro and sociofemme for beta work and assistance. Cross-posted. Summary: Harry would like this world to be better than the one he left behind
When Sirius came home, it was via Floo, and he was by himself. Robert could tell by his face that everything was fine.
"How did it go?" Remus asked eagerly.
"Perfectly. They said I wouldn't be called back. Frank told me that they're closing Robert's case." Sirius grinned happily at Robert at that tidbit, and Robert felt his heart flip with excitement. If that was true, he was safe; he could stay. He stood up.
"That's great." The happy flip had turned to a nervous trembling. "Could I talk to you for a moment ... privately?"
He shot Remus a glance, trying to convey that this wasn't distrust, and Remus shrugged in a way that showed Robert he didn't understand. Oh well -- that would need to be dealt with later. Sirius was already halfway to the door, and Robert followed. "Be back soon," he called to Remus, who shrugged again.
In Sirius's bedroom, behind a closed door and a muffling charm, Sirius looked at him uneasily.
"Look," Robert said, "I know we don't know each other, and I have an obvious thing for your boyfriend, but ..." He trailed off, unsure why he was doing this.
"But?" Sirius asked wryly.
"Would you be willing...." Robert screwed up his courage. "Would you kiss me? I just want to know...."
Sirius gave a short, self-deprecating laugh. "You have to ask? Robert James?"
The name made Robert feel guilty. He hadn't been James; he had never been James; he now wondered why anyone had said he was like James. Still, he stepped forward. "Please?"
Sirius was warm. His hands were warm where they spread across Robert's back, and his mouth was warm where it met Robert's, moist and softly active, and his body was warm as, after a few seconds, it pressed close and solid. Robert moaned, and at the sound, took a frightened step back. He was still staring, weak-kneed and without thoughts, when Sirius punched him lightly in the shoulder.
"You can have my boyfriend any time you want, you know. Well, if he's willing, which he clearly is."
Robert considered protesting, or asking if Sirius was sure, but after taking a long look at his face, nodded instead. "Thanks. That's good to know." He took a deep breath. "And now that's out of the way, there's something I need to tell you."
Sirius raised his eyebrows. "That you already have?" he suggested, leering.
""Do you think he'd just fall into bed with me?" Robert scoffed. "When you weren't even safe? No, I...." Go ahead, Harry. You can say it. "I'm not James."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Look, I didn't mean --"
"I'm not his analog."
Sirius stopped, eyebrows descending. "Not...?"
Robert met his eyes. "I'm Harry's."
"I'm not just from another timeline. I'm from another time in another timeline."
"You-- I-- So you knew me as--" Sirius seemed unable to continue. His fingers moved to his lips.
"Only a little." The admission hurt. "In mine, you did just what you did here, but they were dead, and you stayed in Azkaban for twelve years." Robert tried to smile. "You were the first person ever to break out of the place, though." He winced. "Well, not you. Your analog in my world. So by the time I met him, he wasn't much like you."
"I-- He--" Sirius pushed back his hair. "Hell. And after that ... Did you-- Did we...?"
"We spent a little time together, but not that way. You -- sorry, he -- tried to take care of me, but he couldn't, much. Being a fugitive and a bit messed up. Called me James a few times." Robert smiled weakly. "Hated that. He died two years later, because I was an idiot, and he had to save me." He looked up. "Died in battle. Very brave, my godfather. No damn sense, but brave."
"Oh." Sirius shrugged. Robert could see his Adam's apple move as he swallowed. "That-- Still true."
"Yeah, but you're still young." It seemed like a weird thing to say to the man who would have been his godfather, but it was true.
"He wasn't, though."
"He...." Robert shrugged. "Azkaban isn't a place to grow up, you know? I mean, he was aged, but not much matured. And kind of desperate. He couldn't get back to where he'd been; it was all gone." Robert understood that now. His chest hurt. "You ... You have more promise, I think."
"What do you mean?"
"It's so good to see you -- to see your smile look real."
"James," Sirius said intently, without thinking, and then winced. "Robert -- er--" He laughed, the sound cutting off his attempt at 'Harry.'
Robert laughed as well. "Robert, please. Or Robbie."
"I'm sorry. About all of it."
"It wasn't your fault."
"All right. For you. But I would have done the same to him -- my Harry."
That was indisputable. Robert nodded. "Yeah. So think about people more, okay?"
A flash of anger disappeared into a rueful smile, and Sirius ducked his head, his hair swinging attractively with the motion. "Fine. Point taken. I can see that you belong with Moony." The last sentence should have been a joke, but wasn't quite.
"Oh, god." Robert rolled his eyes. "You two are both insanely insecure. He adores you."
"Adores, yeah, but..." Sirius shrugged. "Won't be enough, will it? I mean, eventually, he'll notice that I'm a complete berk."
"You could try being less of one. Before he can't take any more of it, I mean."
"I'm no good at that."
Robert shrugged. "I've found ... well, it's easier to try, than to fix things later. I couldn't bring my Sirius back from the dead."
"I'm not usually that bad."
"Didn't take much. Just not talking, and then jumping to conclusions." He thought about Snape, and how Sirius could have made Remus kill, but he didn't say it. That wasn't fair. He didn't even know if it had happened here. He sighed. "Look, I should talk to him, now. I haven't told him this yet."
Sirius nodded. "Sure. Keep him for a while, if you like. Stupid as this sounds, I think I need some time alone." He looked around uncertainly. "Should clean this mess up."
When Robert emerged, Remus was in the kitchen, washing dishes by hand. Robert watched for a moment before coming to stand behind him. He hadn't intended to touch, but it was the best he could do to make his hands stop at Remus's shoulders, rather than wrapping around to his chest.
"There are spells for that, you know."
"I know. I'm even good at them."
"Rinse off, then. We need to talk."
Puzzled, Remus looked over his shoulder, but then quickly rinsed and dried his hands. "Here?"
"Your room, I think."
The room felt like his, really. He had been sharing it with Remus, because Remus hadn't wanted to sleep in the room that belonged to Sirius, but Robert had the impression that this was the most consistent use the bed had ever seen. James, Lily, and Harry had been sleeping in the living room; it had been crowded even without Sirius home. Robert wondered if they would need a bathroom schedule now. Sighing, he sat down cross-legged on the camp mattress that served as his bed.
"So." Remus took a deep breath and leaned back to half-sit on the real bed. "Sirius?" he asked wryly.
Robert shrugged. "What I told Sirius."
"Just spit it out, will you?"
Robert looked up, irritated. What did Remus expect? I'm taking him off to the French Riviera in the morning? "James and Lily and I have been lying to you," he said coolly. "Now that my case is closed, I thought you might appreciate the truth."
He might actually have been less surprised by the Riviera, at that. "I'm not James's analog."
"What?" Remus repeated. "Oh, honestly! I've seen you in the middle of the night. It's not Polyjuice."
Robert came to his feet, stepping close to look directly at Remus, who stubbornly stayed seated on the bed. "Everyone says I look a lot like James," he said, "but I have my mother's eyes."
There was a flicker of annoyance, and then the werewolf's eyes widened. "Oh god."
"He didn't know when he fucked me," Robert explained, shrugging. "He thought I was him; I thought he was me."
Remus winced. "Oh," he said weakly.
"And that's why the renaming worked so well. Because Lily...."
"Right." Remus took a shaky breath. "So...." His voice wavered. "Sirius?"
"Still says I can have you."
Remus licked his lips nervously. Robert tried not to shiver.
"Is that what you want?"
"Want, yeah. But I'm not sure, now."
"Did you think better of it?" Remus taunted. "A werewolf? Afraid I'll infect you?"
"It's nothing to do with that!" Robert scowled. "Don't oppress yourself. I know someone who was assaulted and bit by a werewolf -- the same one that got you, actually -- off moon, and even with intent, there was only minor change."
"How do you know who attacked me?"
"Fenrir threw his lot in with Voldemort, where I'm from. He's dead." Robert looked away. "As are a great many other people. I can't boast, with what I've destroyed."
"Destroyed, or didn't manage to save?" When Robert stopped, derailed, Remus lifted an eyebrow at him. "Don't," he said succinctly, "oppress yourself."
"Sorry." Robert rubbed the back of his neck. "Look," he said, "it's Sirius."
Remus nodded, his face blank, and Robert rolled his eyes. "Don't! I mean, he's said I can, but the way he said it, I'm afraid that if we do anything, he'll start pulling away to let you have me, and I know you'd rather have him."
"Nice of you to care, but he pulls away if it rains on a Tuesday," Remus retorted. "Sirius doesn't want devotion, he wants not to be tied down. The only way I've kept him this long is not to care too much."
Robert scowled. "To pretend not to, you mean."
"I make it as real as I can." Remus stood, bringing his face close. "Look, I want you. A lot. This last week has been driving me mad. Do you want me, or not?"
Robert hissed. He found his hands moving to Remus of their own accord, fingers curling through his belt loops to pull him close. "I want you so much," he said, shaking his head. "But even more, I want everything to be right for you."
"Trust me, then," Remus answered, breathless, stretching up to speak in little puffs into his mouth. "Trust that I know what I want."
Once they were kissing, Robert knew that he had fallen. He couldn't pull back now for any good intention. He wanted all of Remus -- all his skin, all his mouth, all his attention -- and now, damn later. Sirius could bloody well take care of himself. He backed Remus up, and they tumbled down on the bed, gasping and whimpering with each new touch. Robert pulled at the shirt Remus wore, drawing it from his trousers and pushing his hands under, frustrated at how complicated it was, until Remus, with a sudden motion, rolled him on his back and straddled his hips.
"Easy," he soothed, and Robert lay still, only his eyes still moving frantically, tracing each motion as Remus undid his cuffs, and then started on the top closed button of his shirt. Chastened, Robert reached out to the bottom one and started there.
"Don't know what happened to my brain," he said, and then grinned, curling up to kiss a reachable flash of skin. "Well, I do, actually. You."
Once the shirt was unfastened and pushed from his shoulders, and Remus had pulled Robert's shirt free in return, Remus lay down again, so they were side by side, and they moved into slower touches.
"God. Feel like I've been waiting for years," Remus murmured between kisses, as he slid his hand down Robert's hip, far under his trousers.
"Yeah. Wanted you to fall in my lap that first night. So beautiful, Remus."
For a second, Remus froze, and then he nipped at him and laughed. "Don't," he warned.
"Don't lie. You don't have to. I'll do anything you want, except cross Sirius."
"I'm not lying!" Robert clenched his left fist, mindful of the faint, old scar there.
"'M'not beautiful," Remus mumbled into the flesh of Robert's shoulder.
Robert drew away. He had to lift Remus's face to see his eyes. "I said it on Veritaserum."
"They asked why I wanted to stay, and before I could think, I said 'Remus Lupin is beautiful.' It was embarrassing, but it's true -- at least for me."
Remus stared in his eyes for a moment, and then dove forward, once more hiding his face against Robert's skin. Robert stroked his back softly, waiting for him to recover.
When his kisses resumed, they were fiercer. Robert returned them with a wild joy. He had to stop and struggle for breath when Remus settled a hand on his cock, first squeezing once and then pulling up in a long, light stroke.
"So hard," he breathed. "For me?"
"Yeah. You." Robert realized his hand had froze in place on Remus's chest and drew it slowly and deliberately down, feeling lines of faint scars beneath his touch, here and there. "So good, Remus." He mimicked Remus's touch, and wondered if it was glaring obvious how little experience he had. He forced himself to look down at what he was doing -- at the head of Remus's cock squeezing out through his tighter grip. He moaned.
"What do you want?" Remus asked.
"Don't know." He had meant it, but when Remus started to roll him back, he shook his head and pushed back. "No. I do. Just...."
"Anything you want," Remus promised.
He wanted the last thing he'd tried with James, he realized dizzily, but this time for more than a few seconds. He inched his kisses down Remus, lingering over his chest for a minute, but then losing patience and moving down all at once. Face-to-cock, he froze, suddenly uncertain.
"If you don't want--"
"Oh, I want." Robert set his tongue to the hollow at the base of Remus's bollocks, and drew it slowly up. Thigh muscles tensed under his hands as he tasted salt and man. "Don't know if I'll be any good at it," he continued, "but I want."
He did. The skin under his tongue was smooth -- unreally smooth, smoother than anything, did his cock feel like that? How had he never noticed? He slipped his lips around the slick, bittersweet tip, and moved down to the pliable wrinkles of the foreskin. Remus arched under him and let out sweet noises that gave him a feeling of power equal to any spell he had ever cast. He set his lips tight, as tight as-- as that girl he didn't want to think about now, not now when everything was good -- as tight as a cunt had ever been on him, and he experimented with suction, looking for a point that would drive Remus wild.
That wasn't hard to come by. Remus didn't shove in, the way James had, but he cried out, each sound longer and lower, until he was roaring his pleasure. They hadn't set a silencing charm, Robert realized, and he was fiercely, triumphantly glad. Let Sirius hear his boyfriend scream! Remus yanked him up to kiss, licking his taste from Robert's mouth, and then rolling him over.
"Want it too," he panted out, and then he shifted down.
He was good. Better than anything. Robert let himself scream too, when he came.
When Robert woke, he was alone, the light outside was golden with early sunset, and there were voices coming from down the hall. He dressed, washed his face, and walked down to the kitchen.
Everyone was there. Lily was cooking dinner, James was bouncing Harry on his knee, and Sirius was sitting at the table, with one hand holding a beer, and the other steadying Remus on his lap. Robert felt instantly awkward. Before he could decide what to do, James spotted him.
"Robbie! There you are. Come in and have a beer! You know the MLE closed your case, right?"
"I told him," Sirius said cheerily, with the friendliest of smiles over Remus's shoulder. Remus didn't look at him at all.
"We need to decide who should be told what," James went on, as Robert slunk in and sat at the table. Remus finally peeked over and gave him an uncertain little smile. Robert wished that he could find it less than adorable.
"Lily and I had a talk with Albus Dumbledore, and he's requested that we bring Robert to a meeting. I think it would be safest if we kept to the official story on Robbie's origins."
Robert nodded, latching on to the concrete problem. "Yes, definitely. Otherwise, we have a conflict of interest for Moody and Kingsley and Fr--"
"Ah, sorry! Kingsley would probably be too young." Robert had to laugh at the thought. He'd never distinguished among the adults, except for Tonks and the Weasley children, but of course some were younger and some older. "An ickle firstie, maybe. God. Your Aurors, whomever they may be."
"We'd better review the membership," Remus said, straightening and using the arm he had slung around Sirius for balance. "And decide what's different in your world."
"Mm. Yeah, I guess we better choose how I killed Voldemort."
"Killed Voldemort?" Sirius exclaimed.
"I did," Robert said defensively. "But not now, of course."
"Oh, Sirius, this is brilliant!" Remus said eagerly. "Apparently, Voldemort has split his soul, hiding the pieces...."
"Already?" Sirius asked, frowning.
"Well, before this now in my timeline, and I haven't seen any divergence here up until James and Lily's universe-hopping spell."
Remus slipped off Sirius's lap and took a seat at the table. "They're called 'horcruxes.' The soul-vessels, I mean. I've only managed to find two references, and they're both a bit obscure...."
"So what do we need to do?" Sirius interrupted.
"Find them and destroy them," Robert said promptly.
"However," Lily called over, dumping the contents of her pan into a bowl, "we're not sure we should tell the Order that."
Robert considered that, and slowly he nodded. "Right. Just Dumbledore, I think."
Lily beamed at him as she ladled something into the emptied pan. "That was what we thought. So we'll need something else to tell people."
"I think I'd prefer to not even tell Dumbledore about my identity."
James snorted. "You can't think he'll be fooled!"
"No, but he can pretend to be, and he tends not to interfere if he likes the way things are progressing. I expect he'll see me as another avenue of action, and a way to protect his Harry from the weight of the prophecy."
"Cynical, are we?" Sirius goaded.
"And well entitled to it," Robert shot back.
Lily looked at him sympathetically as she turned from the stove. "Also, we explained your idea about Harry. Dumbledore agreed it had merit."
Sirius looked muddled. Remus took his hand. "Robert suggested that James and Lily claim they were separated from him in another universe," he explained. "That, we wouldn't keep from the Order, though."
"Officially, he's with some other set of parents, safe enough, but inaccessible. Alice and I think we can handle two babies between us, while pretending it's one," Lily went on. "And since we're moving in with them anyway, at least until Alastor is done with the old house...."
"Am I still staying here?" Robert asked. He didn't dare look at Sirius, or at Remus.
"That would be best, I think," Sirius answered, without hesitation. Robert tried not to shudder. "Now, Robert ... about the Order of the Phoenix...."
"I've seen a picture. From this time, I mean. Moody showed me--"
"Alastor, Robert," James said firmly.
"God. I can't imagine...." Robert cut the thought off. He had killed Voldemort. Surely he could summon the nerve to call Moody by his Christian name?
"Alastor," he repeated bravely. "Not many of the old members lived through the first war, from what he said."
"Well, let's go over names," Lily suggested. "You'll need to know the ones who died in the last few years, as well as the ones alive. There were the Prewett twins, Gideon and--"
"Enough of that!" Sirius interrupted. "I have pictures of most of them, and he should get names and faces at the same time, or he'll mix people up. Remus, go fetch the albums, will you?"
"Fetch them yourself!" Robert snapped, even as Remus got to his feet. Remus froze, one hand still on the table, looking more startled than Sirius. Sirius simply swung his head back and laughed, a rich, joyous sound that filled the room and made James and Lily, at least, start to relax.
"Robbie! You'll keep me in line, won't you?" He got to his feet. "Be right back."
Remus scowled at Robbie as soon as Sirius had left the room. "Don't cause trouble!" he hissed, quietly enough to keep his protest from carrying.
"I don't care if he grew up with house elves! You aren't one."
"I don't mind--"
"Well, I mind watching."
Sirius bounded back in, three large photo albums in his arms. "Here we go! Clear some space on the table, someone!"
Lily left the food simmering, and joined them just as Sirius settled the books in the space Robert and Remus had (competitively) cleared.
"Let's see ... Oh, yes, here's a picture of Gideon...."
The four of them began to look over photographs of Order members with Robert, telling him about people that James had been at Hogwarts with, or had worked with since leaving school. Midway through the second book Sirius left to get more beer, and James went with him, nominally for security.
As soon as the door shut behind them, Remus collapsed back on the emptied couch. Though many of the people that had been dead by his time were still alive here, Robert understood how exhausting it must be for them to explain all of the dead to him, in enough detail to convey the feelings he might have.
Harry toddled over to the couch and patted Remus on the face. "Seepy?"
"A bit," Remus answered cracking one eye open. "How about you? Are you sleepy, Harry?"
"No!" Harry shook his head ferociously. "No bed!"
Robert looked up from a picture of Marlene McKinnon and chuckled. Harry might be him, in a sense, but it was an even more remote connection that that of Remus to Professor Lupin. His analog was not only free of boot cupboards, but as often as not, protested the entirely normal hours that he spent in his cot. Often, Lily would shrug and add a few extra protective spells, and let him explore near the adults. Robert watched his adventures with a fierce and private pleasure.
The chuckle caught Harry's attention and he pattered over. For a moment, he stood in front of Robert, studying him with an entertainingly serious mien. Robert wasn't sure what to make of it. Harry had mostly ignored him in favor of the more familiar adults, and Robert had been content with that. Despite being his analog, he was still a toddler, and Robert didn't know anything about toddlers.
"Hi, Harry," Robert tried, and Harry gave him a big smile.
"Wobbie," he said.
"Oh!" Lily exclaimed. "That's right, Harry! This is your Uncle Robbie. Say 'Uncle Robbie'?"
"Unca WOBBIE!" Harry shouted, and Robert laughed at his unrestricted enthusiasm.
"Very good," he said.
"Shouldn't he get Rs soon?" Remus asked plaintively.
Lily giggled. "It could be more than a year, I'm afraid. You could always go by 'Moony' with him."
"Then he'll use it in public, and I'll be stuck explaining it," Remus complained.
Harry had plopped down on the carpet to study a stray sock, so Robert turned back to the album Lily was holding. "Anyone else?" he asked.
"Not that we have photographs of," she said. "But-- Oh! We have a spy among the Death Eaters. He had been only known to Dumbledore and a few others, but while we were gone, when the Order was confident that Sirius had been their leak, he started to attend meetings. Alice told me about it."
Robert looked sidelong at her. He cast a quick sound-shielding spell on the child, who continued to wave the sock around. "Snape?" he asked quietly, and when she nodded, and he had nodded in return, her smile shone with joy.
Remus rose from the couch. "You knew Snape?" he asked.
"Not well," Robert answered vaguely. "But yes." He didn't want to talk about it -- not until he'd met the man. He knew that Snape had come over when he realized that Lily was a target, but how firm would that stay, while she continued to escape death? He couldn't entirely trust this Snape, Robert thought, but he didn't want to alienate him either. In fact there might be practical value to ensuring that he felt included.
The next morning, Sirius and Remus continued with an expanded review -- often with quite different information from each other, or from James, or from Lily. Over the course of the day, Robert developed an edited course of his war that would fit into his fiction. The meeting was that evening, and they all discussed his revised timeline over drinks before Flooing in to the Longbottoms' drawing room.
When they finally entered the meeting space, Robert walking between James and Sirius, the room was crowded and loud, the people familiar and not, and the atmosphere exactly what Robert remembered from his own war.
"-- So glad Bill is safe off at Hogwarts --"
"Terrible thing, that attack on --"
People fell silent in clusters as each knot of Order members spotted the new arrivals. One man, who had been sitting tight-lipped and sullen by the wall, glared, and Robert, who had been considering his potential approaches, smiled at him.
"Hello, Severus," he said. "Glad you're with us here, too."
Snape's eyes narrowed. "James," he responded, and smirked at his own insolence.
James started forward, but Robert blocked his way with an outflung arm. "No, James," he said firmly. "It's an understandable mistake. I haven't been introduced, yet."
"Indeed," Dumbledore said, coming slowly to his feet. The room quieted as he rose. "I have not even told everyone that James has an analog." He clapped his hands twice. "If we can all please take our seats? I believe that our new arrivals should be our first order of business."
James and Sirius sat with a space between them, obviously intending it for Robert, but he knew how Sirius could polarize a discussion and expected that James was no better. Being set up as theirs from the start would do none of them any good. He ducked around to sit on the far side of Remus, and Lily, beaming at him, took the empty spot. Sirius scowled.
A man entered from the corridor and stopped in his tracks, wand out. "What's Black doing here?" he snarled. With a shock, Robert realized that it was Moody, younger and more complete than he had ever seen him, except in the photographs.
"Gods, Alastor," Sirius said, tipping back in his chair. "Don't you take the Prophet?"
"It's true, then?" Minerva McGonagall leaned forward. "You weren't the Secret Keeper, and little Pettigrew was an unregistered animagus?"
James nodded in time with Sirius. Moody slid his wand out of sight and strode forward, scowling.
"And you didn't think to tell anyone?" he snapped.
Sirius shrugged. "Having a friend who could be a rat was handy. He could get into anywhere."
McGonagall pinched the bridge of her nose. Robert imagined she was reclassifying things that her Gryffindor boys may have been responsible for.
Moody scowled. "Do you know anything about the influence of character on the animagus form?"
"I am quite sure they do," McGonagall said crisply. "As all of them took a NEWT in Transfiguration." She shot a look at Dumbledore. Robert doubted that either of them believed that Sirius hadn't become an animagus as well. "However, rats are not necessarily unpleasant." Her nose crinkled as if this did not align with her personal opinion. "Many students have them as pets."
Dumbledore raised a hand, halting Moody's retort. "If anyone here should think of any other valuable skills that he secretly possesses, I would appreciate receiving at least private notice," he said dryly. "Sirius. For those people who missed it, your story, please."
After Sirius had related how he had chased down Peter and been set up, Dumbledore called upon Lily and James to review the circumstances of their escape. In an account notably devoid of sexual escapades, they related the structure of their travels, and their return, with Robert in tow.
"So, this is your analog?"
"Apparently," James answered cheerily. "Say hello, Robert."
Robert stood up. "Hello, everyone. I'm Robert James Potter, more commonly called Robbie. Most of you look familiar to me, so forgive me if I'm overly friendly, or just plain off. This world is just enough like mine to throw me."
He sat down again.
"But you have Harry," said Arthur Weasley, gesturing at the little bubble that contained Harry and two other toddlers, one of whom must be Neville, in a corner of the room. "This morning's Daily Prophet said he was lost."
"Robert's suggestion," Lily explained. "If Voldemort thinks that he's gone, he won't be a target."
Snape looked approving. Robert found it oddly disarming, especially on his more youthful face. "That would be the safest course," the man agreed, his eyes going not to Harry, but to Lily.
"But might that not shift his fears onto the Longbottom child?" Dumbledore suggested gently. "Severus, you must observe carefully."
Snape frowned, but nodded, and Sirius sneered silently.
When Dumbledore declared a break, Snape moved towards them. Robert rose, cutting ahead of Sirius, who looked like he planned to get between them. Instead, Sirius ended up lingering to one side.
Snape's lip curled into a familiar sneer. "You cannot mean to claim that we were friends in your world. I will never believe it."
Robert smiled and ducked his head. "No, you -- well, your analog -- thinks I'm an idiot, mostly. He saved my life at least once, though, and helped with destroying Voldemort. I respected him."
Sirius snorted. "Our Snape was a Death Eater."
"Yeah." Robert met Snape's eyes. "Mine too."
Snape looked thoughtful at that, but Sirius wouldn't let up. "But you respect him?" he challenged.
"Everyone's allowed one youthful idiocy." At Sirius's derisive snort, Robert finally looked at him. "If it wasn't past our divergence point, yours was massive."
"We thought Peter--"
"I'm not talking about Peter."
Sirius stared at him for a moment, in honest confusion, and then his gaze darted past, to Snape. From the hard look that came across his face, Robert guessed that things had happened much the same here.
"It was on the spur of the moment," he protested. "I didn't plan to--"
"Nonetheless, you could have ruined a friend's life, as well as killing someone."
"I didn't think he'd do it! Not all the way there!"
"Sirius. I'm not upset at you. Just let me talk to Severus, all right? Privately."