NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: Harry Potter, etc is the intellectual property of JK Rowling. I'm making no money here and have no intentions to do so ever. Thanks to Mare, Katie, Younger and Mosca. Happy Birthday, Kelly!
TALES OF A LIBRARIAN (20 happy moments in Sirius Black's life which involved Remus Lupin.)
1. Precious Things
"All right, then," James said, "so we've survived one full day, everyone's okay, right?" He glanced around the room. Sirius shoved the letter in the fire and turned his back on it.
"I did fine. Pretty easy, don't you think?" Sirius grinned.
Peter nodded and looked down at his hands. He had a bright, fixed smile. Scaredy-cat, Sirius thought. Showing fear never worked.
Remus - that was the quiet one's name - just blinked and wrapped his arms around his knees.
James glanced at Remus and Peter and then back at Sirius. Like a message. James said, "Lucky for us that there turned out ten boys in Gryffindor this year, don't you think? So we get this room all to ourselves." James thwapped his bed. "This is right better than my room at home."
"Or mine," Sirius said, flopping on his bed.
"Liar," James said, laughing. "Black family manor?" Peter laughed, too, his eyes darting between James and Sirius.
"Well, my room at home's too close to my mum's. And it's," at home - with Regulus whinging and Mother coming in whenever they wanted or the house-elves and he hated it. "It's too dark. We have this window. And a much nicer bed."
Remus suddenly said, "We do have a window." He was almost smiling. Sirius decided he liked Remus.
Peter said, "I'm still a little hungry, though. I wish I'd saved some treats from the train."
"Ah," Sirius and James said at the same time. They both started laughing and both dug into their bags. Sirius said, "I nicked some biscuits from dinner. Just in case, you understand?" James held up the sweets he'd stashed in his bag.
They all ended up on James's bed, even Remus, eating biscuits and treats until the Prefect came and told them all to be quiet and turn out the lights.
Sirius frowned. "But why? He's sickly, the family is sickly. I wonder what's wrong. We should make it right. It's Remus."
Peter tilted his head to the side and looked up at the ceiling. "Maybe -- maybe it's a curse. My mum talks about those. Entire families, all of them. Though she always said it was more like bad luck or pus or goblin attacks, not people going to the bloody hospital every few weeks."
"We'll have to undo it." Sirius turned abruptly in the corridor and headed for the library.
"Don't you think the Lupin family has tried? Remus's mum is a witch, Sirius --" Peter was panting, nearly running after him.
James said, "Yes, Peter, but Sirius is right. Somebody has to make it right and we're just the wizards to do it."
If Remus had been there and not in the infirmary again, Sirius was sure Remus would have made some quiet remark pointing out they were all only twelve and hardly even wizards really. Of course, Remus would have been wrong. And if he had been there, they would have simply asked him what was going on and he would have avoided the question again.
Peter gave up after an hour, though he provided invaluable support over the next few days by smuggling in treats and doing the bare bones of their homework. James gave up after two days, but he did finish all their homework and distract Remus.
Sirius found it on the fifth day. Along the way, he'd found a fair number of fascinating hexes, even ones that his mum hadn't mentioned casting on him or on straying family members. He'd made notes about those on a separate sheaf of parchments that he stuffed in his bag at the end of each day.
But on the fifth day, he knew it for certain. "Lycanthropy," he read. Well then, he thought. He'd found it. He knew the problem and now he was going to figure out how to make everything right for Remus.
3. Silent All These Years
It wasn't like Sirius hadn't been to Diagon Alley whenever he wanted as a child. Or nearly whenever he wanted: he was frequently grounded. But Diagon Alley was smaller than Hogsmeade and Hogsmeade had Zonko's. And Honeydukes.
Sirius and James huddled for a moment, pulling Peter and Remus close. "We need to make the most of our time here, lads," James said.
"Absolutely," Peter said, smiling wide and eager.
"Maybe we should split up? I have the list for Zonko's." Sirius glanced at the other three. They really did have a load of plans.
James blew on his hands for a moment and then said, "Okay, me and Peter will take Honeydukes and you and Remus have Zonko's."
"Okay," Sirius said and then Remus said, "We'll do Honeyduke's, James."
James rubbed his chin. Remus said, "Really, Sirius will get too excited and get kicked out. We should delay his entry to the store for at least this first Saturday. Maybe a month or two. Or a year."
Sirius started to protest, but Peter was already laughing. James pulled Peter away and waved as they headed towards the joke shop. Sirius turned to Remus and said, "You're mean. Awful. James, James will just buy dungbombs. I had plans, Remus, inventive, original plans! Not just smelly bombs."
Remus hugged Sirius close and warm against his side. He whispered, "Sirius. This means we can sample the sweets. We won't see them for an hour or two at the most and in the meantime, we have their galleons." He laughed against Sirius's ear. "It's like they're paying for our sweets. Think about it."
Sirius wanted to laugh but he was too warm, blushing. Remus raised his eyebrows and pushed Sirius away. "I'm off to get treats. Black, I'll see you there."
It took a minute for Sirius to get up as his legs were suddenly wobbly. He shook his head and ran after Remus.
4. Cornflake Girl
James rolled his eyes, but Sirius said, "We could do that."
They had never found a cure for lycanthropy, so Sirius said they should all start thinking about how to make it easier.
James had researched potions that ameliorated the condition but everything he'd found was too advanced for them and according to the texts none of them seemed to work anyway. Peter was in charge of distracting Remus. Sirius thought if Remus knew all the things they were trying, he would tell them not to or would get his hopes up. Sirius knew they'd figure something out eventually, but he was realizing it would take some fair amount of time.
They had these meetings when Remus was in the Shack, hurting himself. Sirius thought of it that way. Not the transformation, not the change, it was Remus hurting himself because of some blasted curse.
Peter said they should become wolves, so Sirius started researching how to do that. They needed to be smart wolves, not like Remus. James still thought the idea was vaguely ridiculous so this time he teamed up with Peter on the important task of distracting Remus. Remus would absolutely have noticed that Sirius was spending inordinate amounts of time in the library, like he hadn't done since he was researching Remus's problem back in their second year.
Of course, James and Peter were completely ineffective at their only task. Sirius was reading up on animagi when Remus plopped down next to him and whispered in his ear, "Are you angry about the modified Exploding Snap cards?"
"What modified -- why do you think I'm angry?"
Remus shifted closer. "I modified your set to explode whenever you swore. You hadn't noticed yet?"
Sirius covered his mouth so they wouldn't get hissed at while he laughed. "That's brilliant, Remus. But I hadn't noticed. Is it just me swearing, or can I make them a gift to Regulus?"
"Oh, you can give them away. But you always play with James and he tries not to swear, so." Remus smiled. "You're not angry, then. You're avoiding me."
"I'm studying. You're distracting." Sirius pulled his book closer.
Remus looked over Sirius's shoulder. "Why are you studying animagus transformation?"
"Just an idea." Sirius shrugged. "For you," he whispered.
Remus looked down and blushed. Sirius decided right then he would make this one work.
So Remus and Peter had bowed out, being tired or some such excuse, like midnight excursions weren't exciting enough to keep them awake. So James had pointed out that the firewhiskey hidden under the counter at the robe shop was the same brand his father favored. So Sirius had said they should test it. So they had ended up with the bottle nearly completely gone directly outside the door leading back into Hogwarts from the secret tunnel they'd found. So James drank the very last and smirked and Sirius had reached over to suck it right out of his evil mouth.
Which was a kiss. If it hadn't exactly been when Sirius started, it was a moment later.
James stepped back and leaned against the earthen wall. "Hmm," he said. "I didn't quite think that would how the first --" James covered his mouth and then wiped it with his hand. "You're not very good at that."
"And how would you know? Since that was your first, James." Sirius leaned against the wall behind him and laughed. "James, it's, it's impossible. What about --"
"Shut up. Just shut it. I didn't say that, you heard wrong -- you -- you are pissed. You -- you -- will not repeat this."
"Of course not, no, no, you're my maaaaaaaaaate," Sirius said. He stood up straight, swayed for a moment and then crossed his arms and looked down at poor wee James. "You're my best friend. I'd, I'd die for you, James. I won't tell a soul. Besides Peter. And Remus. And maybe," at this, Sirius opened the entrance and glanced around the corridor before stepping out. "Maybe Bertha. She seems like the perfect girl to give advice to someone in your sad, sad state."
So Sirius had to make it back to Gryffindor Tower before James at a full run and without getting caught. Which he managed, naturally, though as he raced up the stairs to the dormitory he thought he detected a flaw in the plan. The flaw being that he and James were going to the same place.
Sirius jumped into Remus's bed and pulled the curtains tight. He was pointing his wand at the hangings, trying to remember a good binding spell when he was elbowed right in the ribs. "Blast," he whispered, "why'd you do that? It hurt."
Remus kicked him and sat up. "You're in my bed. You jumped on me."
"Well, only incidentally. I'm trying to stop James from thrashing me. Did you know he's never kissed anyone? Well, before tonight."
Remus blinked and rubbed his eyes. "Sirius, lie down, shut up, and get off my leg."
"All right then."
Remus snorted and rolled over, tugging the covers tight around him. Sirius curled into a ball against Remus's back and smiled. This was comfortable, he thought. This was a nice end to the night.
Then he heard James running in, panting, hissing, "Sirius, you're dead. Dead." Then he heard James trip and fall on his face and Sirius laughed quietly as he fell asleep.
Although Remus was still a Prefect. That was embarrassing. Heading off with Evans to check the corridors and wiping the noses of sad ickle first-years. Remus even liked it. Not simply access to the Prefects' lavatory, which Sirius would have counted the only advantage, but being helpful and all that rot. Remus would sometimes mumble something to Sirius along the lines of dark times, needy students, defending the younger ones. Louder, Remus would say, "Where would we be without the Prefects of our younger days? Not nearly as creative, Padfoot."
Remus sensed Sirius's contempt. Peter thought the Prefecture was amusing because James thought it was the greatest joke ever but Sirius hated it. Queuing right up to be one of them, showing respect even to the Slytherin Prefects. Next Remus would be a Professor and telling everyone to pay attention and act like little adults.
Which was probably why Sirius was only Kissing the Prefect. Well, kissing and some groping and always in private and like Remus thought Sirius was just for play. Remus was undoubtedly correct.
So Sirius waited in a quiet corridor on the fifth floor. Remus came around the corner already smiling, and Sirius smiled back. He reached forward for his kiss. Kissing The Prefect.
Remus answered, looking knackered. Sirius had taken into account the moon, so it wouldn't be that. He said, "Well, you've looked better. But I've looked drier, so it evens out, right?"
"Good morning, Sirius. Thank you so much for letting me know you were coming. It's early, but it's still a pleasure you came so completely unannounced."
Sirius grinned. "It's not that early."
"Oh, come in." Remus turned and let Sirius walk by. The house looked about the same, quiet, clean, lived-in. Remus said, "Feel free to be loud and, well, as you usually are, as my parents are away this week."
"Where are they?" Sirius flopped into the largest chair.
"Oh, don't dry off or anything before using my father's chair, Sirius, it's perfectly fine."
Sirius hummed and said, "Aren't we not supposed to use magic during the summer?"
"And I'm sure you haven't once done a little roaming as Padfoot." Remus rolled his eyes and sat down in the chair across from Sirius.
"Well, of course, but that's already illegal, isn't it?" Sirius got up and stood between Remus's spread legs. "Honestly, I was immensely tired of London, wanted to see you, thought you might want to see me." He smiled. "Do you?"
"Want to see you?"
Sirius stepped closer, their legs touching. "Don't you?"
Remus shrugged. Then he tugged on Sirius's hips, pulled him onto the chair into Remus's lap. He said, "Next time, I would prefer an owl."
"Certainly," Sirius said, and then they stopped talking.
Stupid stray hex in the corridor, probably from some asinine first year with no creativity, had left Sirius aching everywhere and bleeding from his ears. He had to be cutting a pathetic figure, but Pomfrey'd left him waiting while she gave salve to three first years and a pepper-up potion to a fifth year. Sirius tried to think of the counter-curse, but his fingers ached. He hadn't seen hide nor hair of James or Peter since they'd brought him up.
He wondered if this was the lowest point of his life. He sighed. It could probably get worse.
Finally Pomfrey came over. She waved her wand and frowned and hmphed and then said, "Well. That boy did the hex wrong, probably a mispronunciation. I can only partially reverse it. The rest should wear off in the morning." She incanted and Sirius felt the bleeding stop.
"What about the aching?"
"There's that bed over there," she said as she walked away. Sirius dragged himself to the bed and lay down. This was definitely worse. He drifted in and out of consciousness for a while.
"Sirius," someone said. Girl, he thought. He sighed. He opened his eyes and saw Lily.
"Why are you here?"
"Heard about it. I brought you this --" she handed him a steaming mug. "Drink it. I think it might help."
"Did Pomfrey say it was all right? Though I'm happy to be your experiment." He sipped the drink. It was cool and tasted vaguely of grass and beets. He swallowed and felt the cool spread all over him. He was getting nicely numb. "That's wonderful, Evans. Thank you. What is it?"
She shrugged. "I'm not entirely sure." She leaned down and whispered in his ear, "Someone sent me. Wasn't supposed to tell you. But I swear, Black, you look completely miserable. And I heard you were trying to push someone out of the way." He blinked. He'd missed the hexing completely; he'd been staring at Remus, hoping to see some change. But he nodded and opened his eyes wider.
Evans whispered, "And you know I wouldn't do this for Potter." She stood up and patted his hand.
9. Way Down
Remus sat down next to him and said, "What are you scribbling so furiously? Not homework, I assume."
"No, sod that. I'm going to have my own school. Witchcraft and Wizardry. In Majorca. I think any right-thinking student or parent would choose mine in a heartbeat. Sun every day, beaches, a chance to get some color. You can teach Defense. I'll teach Transfiguration, and Peter will teach Runes - he's quite good at that - and James will teach everything else."
"Quite a burden for Prongs, I would say."
"Well, yes. Good point. I'll let Evans teach as well, and she and he will split the remaining classes. Good thing you're here to help." Sirius tapped at his parchment. "Now, we'll need loads of money, as I only have a fair amount. But I think when James sees this, he'll be right on board and that just might be enough." Sirius turned the parchment towards Remus. "See, this will be the castle."
Remus smiled slowly. "That's not so much a castle as a summer villa, Sirius. Or a train station. Or, wait, is that you?"
Sirius balled up the parchment and threw it at Remus. He was sitting so close Sirius was able to make a certain hit right on his nose. Sirius said, "I'm no artist, but you get the idea. We're stuck here in darkest, dankest Scotland when we could, with a little effort, be living a wonderful life in Majorca. Think of it, Moony, you and me, the beach, breezes off the ocean, first years bringing us the finest tropical concoctions. We could make this happen."
Remus said, "What would you be wearing? Are we going to make the students wear robes in the heat?"
"Well, light robes. Perhaps cream-colored and not black. And you and I? Sitting on the beach, we'll wear merely swimming trunks."
"And scandalize the first years you've enslaved to bring us our drinks. We shouldn't mention that when we solicit students."
Sirius leaned his head on Remus's shoulder. He would never see the sun again, not as long as he stayed in Scotland. He said, "This is why I need you for planning, Moony. Peter's house will be for the loyal duffers of the lot, Prongs's house for the ugly and arrogant, Evans's for the righteous and mine for the brave and brilliant. Yours will be for the clever. I should write that down."
Remus patted his thigh and laughed quietly. Sirius looked up a little, his cheek against the thin fabric of Remus's shirt. He still couldn't see the sun, but maybe tomorrow.
10. Professional Widow
It was all so elementary, he didn't understand why he was explaining it to Remus.
"Because, Sirius, maybe I don't want to live with you."
"Well, that's just mental. I have two bedrooms, Moony."
"I'm hardly saying no because I think we'd end up sharing a bed." Remus fiddled with his spoon and spoke quickly. Sirius was actually hoping they'd end up sharing a bed, but he supposed that wouldn't be a selling point for Remus. And anyway, he certainly wanted Remus staying in his flat and not whatever he tried to afford on whatever sad salary he drew.
"Why wouldn't you want to live with me?" Sirius regretted saying it as the words came out. Remus might even answer honestly. And they were the best of mates, they were.
"Isn't the question why *would* I want to live with you?"
"It's a great flat, in an ideal location to Diagon Alley and the sites and sounds of Muggle London and I have a second bedroom we can ward up and make perfect for your special nights. Also, you'd be living with me, so it would be like school, only minus the annoying parts with classes or Prongs or Wormtail."
"Found them so annoying, did you?"
Remus kept his eyes on the soup. Sirius should have chosen a different restaurant, but Remus wanted this one with the soup and weird noodles. Which Remus was staring at like they were back in Divination. Sirius said, "Classes? Absolutely. Never needed one of them." He smirked. "Come on, Moony, move in with me."
"You'd probably come to my flat and stay all hours, wouldn't you?"
"Or is this all your plan to get me close to you and then wheedle your way back into my bed?" Remus finally looked up, but he was almost smiling. Sirius was sure.
"I was never in your bed, and might I add, unfortunately in my opinion." Sirius smiled. He could handle this.
"True. I didn't exactly trust you. How odd of me." Remus bent back to his soup.
"But that was years ago. And since then there's been no bed sharing, not even a snog. So I've proved something, don't you think?"
Remus laughed. "Do you want me back, then?"
"Yes." That was another thing Sirius hadn't quite intended to say.
"Well. If all the cards are on the table. Well." Remus shrugged. He pushed away his soup. "Well, then, it's a truly stupid idea."
Sirius sighed. "Yes."
"Alright then." Remus stood up and smiled. "Alright, let's do it."
11. Mr. Zebra
Sirius thought Harry would be loads of fun when he was older. At least he'd need to walk or run, so they could go outside and maybe even start on some Quidditch drills. Harry would be great, Sirius decided, because he waved his fat little fists with a kind of coordination. Remus said Sirius was full of it: you couldn't tell anything from how the baby moved, not one that young.
Peter had tried to impose a bad news ban on the dinner talk, but it was impossible. Twice Sirius had first heard of old classmates' deaths from James or Lily or Peter. It went like that, Sirius thought, all of them going one by one.
But tonight Remus had cooked fish and potatoes and peas and it was really delicious. The peas were particularly good, Sirius thought, having licked the first taste from Remus's fingers. Harry smiled across the table and James insisted it was genuine, not just gas. Lily rolled her eyes and took Harry into the living room to feed him, and Peter told a joke he'd heard from Moody that was actually funny and didn't end in exploding eyes. Remus winked at Sirius and Sirius ate the last of his fish. They would keep these up, he thought, every week forever, and the would make Harry cook when he was old enough.
He walked home, though he knew it would take hours. It was foolish to make a spectacle and target of himself. He could be cut down on any street. The lights and passing Muggles wouldn't deter the Death Eaters.
But it was still beautiful. Wet streets reflected the lights almost like floating stars; the full moon provided a quiet glow. He met the eyes of everyone who walked by, wondering why they were out so late, looking for the enemy. One drunken couple was clinging to each other, debating loudly whose flat was better, who had the most accommodating roommate and then who was the better person, who had the best sense of humor. The moon and the streetlamps turned the girl's blonde hair silver-white.
On that street, Sirius thought, right there he'd reached for Remus's hand. He'd claimed he was cold, and Remus was always so warm-blooded. At that closed store, behind those bars, they bought a lamp for the flat, the green one that had stopped working after a month. Remus hadn't thrown it away yet, and Sirius couldn't bring himself to toss something they'd bought together. He reckoned they should get it fixed somehow, or just charm it. At that corner, Remus had leaned over and whispered, "You smell horrid," in Sirius's ear, like it meant something else entirely.
He didn't mourn anymore; he just felt more numb. He felt less and less of anything every day.
Sirius stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up. Just a few more steps. He wasn't even tired. Remus wouldn't be there to welcome him home or in their bed asleep. But he did feel better being home. The thought of home, his actual real home. He felt that. He smiled and raced up the stairs, opened the door, locked it up again and ran through the flat as Padfoot. He barked a greeting at the wolf, heard a howl in response. And since he couldn't do anything else, he curled up against the warded and locked door.
13. Me And A Gun
First thing first, first he found Peter and made Peter pay and first he made sure Harry was safe and first he made up for James and Lily and all the death and first he would do all that.
Today was spring, he could smell it on the grass. He stayed carefully on the edge of the forest. Padfoot stared out at the school, thought and thought and waited.
He could stay like this and it was easier to do so, but he also needed not to be seen by the one person who would recognize Padfoot. Complicated for a dog to keep track of. Complicated for Sirius to keep track of.
So he heard and smelled Remus, knew it as Padfoot instantly and then shook and he was Sirius, standing behind a tree, breath held.
Remus said, "Hagrid, I'd rather not have to search the entire Forest for them."
Sirius heard Hagrid saying something about getting whatever it was himself, no need for Remus to bother at all. Sirius hoped Remus would agree quickly.
And that he would walk right into the Forest and see Sirius and know instantly that it had all been wrong, hadn't happened that way and Peter was alive and they would both take care of it and then they would embrace and be free. Protect Harry. He could picture it and he smiled, not wry or too hysterical. Someday someday someday.
Remus agreed with Hagrid and walked away. Padfoot waited behind two trees when Hagrid walked in to the Forest and wasn't noticed at all.
15. Playboy Mommy
"Tomorrow, I leave tomorrow."
"Where?" Remus paced in the tiny cabin.
They were somewhere in Ireland; Sirius wasn't sure where. Where Buckbeak had landed yesterday. A tiny cabin on top of a kind of mountain, no people of any sort anywhere around. Sirius didn't feel safe, but Remus was there.
Sirius shook his head. Where, Remus had asked. "Should I tell you? I'll let you know when I get there."
"You'll be careful." Remus nearly smiled. "You won't be careful at all but you'll arrive alive."
"You've summed my plan up nicely. Always so spot-on, Moony." Sirius laughed and reached for the bread Remus had brought. "Dumbledore found me?"
"No. I'm sure he'd have said something about being careful and waiting and waiting." Remus frowned and clenched his fists. "I didn't ask. I don't work for him anymore."
"No more Professor?"
"It's not important," Remus said, sighing. "I wanted to see you and talk to you."
Sirius ate the bread and stared at Remus, soaking up the sight. Sirius said, "I didn't think of you much, the last twelve years."
"How nice to hear." Remus seemed to force the smile. He sat down on the floor across from Sirius.
"No place for fond memories in Azkaban." Sirius smiled.
"Then it *is* nice to hear," Remus said as he moved closer.
16. Baker Baker
He had acquired a tan and gained a full stone. The bartender spoke no English but made the same fruity concoction as soon as he saw Sirius walk in. Sirius had found a retired French wandmaker two towns over, and now Sirius's hut had two luxurious chairs and a huge bed with a soft mattress.
He woke up, and went straight to the beach, and dived into the ocean. He swam for thirty minutes and then swam back to shore as Padfoot. The sand clung to his paws and fur and he went back into his hut. He shook himself clean, and then went as Sirius to the jury-rigged shower on the back of the hut. He liked to shower outside, see the bright green sheltering leaves and sun shining through. It only rained in the morning or the evening, soft mist that never drove Sirius inside.
He read letters from Remus by a conjured fire and ate fish he caught as Padfoot. In this place, Voldemort seemed impossible. Harry would be safe with every fish and shell. Death Eaters weren't a thing that the sun and beach allowed. Peter would disappear in the light reflected off the ocean, and the moon was too kind to allow Remus to transform.
He didn't think about his need to leave before the monsoons came.
17. Tear In Your Hand
Sirius stood up when he saw that Remus had a greasy box in his hands. Every night of the week had proved to be an adventure in Muggle take-away, like their first days in London together after Hogwarts. But so many years later, now there were curries, pizza, kebabs, Chinese, and Big Macs. Sirius had said, "Surprise me."
Remus came in, locked and warded the door behind him. He held up the box and said, "Guess, Padfoot."
Sirius closed his eyes and inhaled. He thought about cheating and doing it as Padfoot, but Remus would protest. He said, "Pizza?"
"Pizza indeed." Remus grinned and sat down at the kitchen table. Formica, he'd called it, a vomit green with silver piping and completely hideous. Before Remus got home, Sirius had meticulously planned how he would end this first week. The way every week should have gone, with Remus seduced. On that table, bare legs against that foul silver piping, mouth open, wanting. Watching Remus wipe red sauce from his lips, Sirius was still confident that it would happen.
"Tomorrow, what'll it be?"
Remus made a confused face. "I've no idea. Why ruin the game?"
"I have an idea for tonight," Sirius said. "After this."
"Well, good. Dumbledore said he'd send more instructions for us later, as well, so that's two things to look forward to." Remus balled up the greasy bag and folded up the now empty boxes.
"Mine is guaranteed to be more fun." Sirius stood and washed his hands. When he could see Remus and Remus looked back at him, it was always a wonderful view.
18. Sweet Dreams
Then came the Weasleys. Sirius watched the twins planning their pranks and forgot they were more than ten years younger than him until he looked in a mirror. Ginny reminded him of Lily so he avoided her altogether.
Hermione came next, bustling and asking questions and bothering Ron. Sirius liked her in Harry's letter, that day in the caves and the shack, but in person day in and out, she was wearing.
Then, finally, Remus. One week before the Order meetings started, Remus came. He walked in the door while everyone else was asleep and climbed up the stairs to Sirius's room. He sat down on the bed and said, "Sirius, you should be awake now, right?"
Sirius turned and laughed. "There is an alarm, a cuckoo clock that chimes only when people come in. Damned hard to keep time with that one. You're a little late, Moony."
"I went into the wrong room first. But there were only redheads in that one."
"Damn Weasleys, they're everywhere." Sirius grinned and sat up. He pulled Remus into a kiss, tasted tea and exhaustion. "They're pleasant enough, and a definite step up from any previous inhabitant of this house, you understand, but they wear me down."
"The twins had our map before they passed it on to Harry, did you know that?"
"Our beloved map," Sirius said as he pulled Remus closer. "Well, that's wonderful. Let's stop talking about them now."
"Absolutely," Remus said. He kissed Sirius and pushed him back on the bed.
19. Jackie's Strength
He believed and hoped and poured another drink. He had no plans for the evening, after doing nothing all day. Maybe, he thought, tonight, he would destroy everything in the upper room his great aunt had died in, it was all cursed anyway. He rubbed the table edge and hummed. At least you're alive, he thought and laughed.
"What's so funny?"
Sirius turned and standing right behind him was Remus. Sirius said, "You. You. That is a - a hideous jacket."
Remus shrugged out of the plaid monstrosity. "Disguise. Trying not to be recognized."
"I knew it was you, even blinded by that thing." Sirius smiled but didn't move. Remus was another thing he believed.
The man turned around.
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