"... and today the Ministry will be debating a controversial bill that proposes to give homosexuals unfettered access to our children in schools ..."
Remus rolled his eyes: wizarding radio, always a source of balanced and insightful commentary.
"Protesters in favour of this radical agenda have gathered outside the Ministry today to harass ministers as they make their way inside the building in order to vote."
"Bloody nutters, the lot of them," came the blustering voice of Hillary Cracklesworth, Minister for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. "Keep 'em away from our kids, that's what I say."
"It's a complex issue," said a new voice, "but there's no need for the disruptive nonsense outside. Due consideration will be given to the matter."
"Orion Black, Minister for International Magical Cooperation, making an unexpected appearance at today's debate having been in talks with Scandinavian magical leaders for the past fortnight.
"Meanwhile, Albus Dumbledore, long known for his idiosyncratic approach to management at Hogwarts, has said he would welcome the changes proposed by this bill, and that he calls on voting government officials today to make the right decision.
"And now, a special report from our entertainment correspondent on Celestina Warbeck's Irish tour ..."
Remus waved his wand listlessly, and the radio fizzled out into silence.
Marlene walked in, carrying tea and sandwiches.
"Bless you," Remus said, sitting up from his nest of cushions with some difficulty.
"So Sirius hasn't made the headlines yet, then," she said as she cleared away bits of newspaper.
"Give it time," Remus muttered. "I had no idea his father was going to show up."
"Well, I don't have the money to bail him out," said Marlene, "so he's on his own there."
"You know, he hasn't actually been arrested before. Let's hope he doesn't see that as a challenge."
"Well, Dorcas did say she'd Stupefy him if necessary."
Remus laughed. "I'll hold her to that."
Marlene shoved his feet aside a little and perched on the edge of the sofa. "Do you wish you were there?"
"Not particularly - at least, not without some Polyjuice. I'm in enough bad books with the Ministry as it is, I don't need 'radical queer activist' added to that list."
Marlene nodded. "Well, I've got to run back to work now, but just owl me if you need anything, won't you? You sure you're up to dinner on Friday?"
"Wouldn't miss it," Remus said, patting her knee. "Go, contribute to society."
Sirius got in a little before six. The sound of the lock in the door turning brought a familiar smile to Remus's face. Of course, he'd lived with Sirius more or less all the time since he was eleven, but sometimes the novelty of this, their crappy flat and piles of washing up that neither of them could be arsed to deal with and the way Sirius's socks were founding a colony under the couch, was still something of a revelation.
Remus hefted himself up on his elbows, shifting the pillows to give himself a decent chance of sitting upright for a little while. Sirius came clattering through the kitchen, a mix of worry and fondness on his face.
"To forestall your fretting," Remus said, much less annoyed than he sounded, "I am perfectly fine. Lily sent the potions along this morning, Marlene came round at lunchtime, a couple more days and I'll be back on my feet. Just like every month."
Sirius took a breath, let it out, and then said, "Okay. Good."
Remus rolled his eyes. "So you didn't get yourself arrested! Excellent work."
"It was tempting, but I restrained myself, yes."
"And? Is there any chance they're going to vote in favour?"
Sirius shook his head. "Not really, and you know it."
"I do. I just wasn't sure you did."
Sirius sighed, lifted up Remus's feet and flumped down on the sofa. Remus settled his legs back on Sirius's lap and tried not to laugh at how disgustingly domestic they'd become.
"Did you talk to your father?" Remus asked after a pause, hesitant.
Sirius looked at his hands. "No. And this can't be the only reason he came back."
"Yeah, I was afraid of that."
Sirius dug a list out of his pocket. "Look, these are all the ministers who showed up today. When was the last time Abraxas Malfoy or Augustus Rookwood showed up for a debate on social policy?"
"Have you told Dumbledore?"
"Sent an owl as soon as I got away, yeah. Shit, Remus, why didn't we know about this?"
"I don't know." Remus was still processing, mulling the new information over, but he could see Sirius was building up for a rant.
"We never fucking know, do we? We have people in there, so they have more. We get the head of a division, they get the head of a department. What the hell are we meant to do?" He let his head thud back against the sofa. "I am so sick of fighting losing battles."
"It's not lost, not yet." The words sounded hollow even in Remus's own ears. The disappearances were getting more frequent and the Ministry's decisions more erratic, and Moody said it wouldn't be long before they had out and out war on their hands. On the bad days, Remus didn't see how they were expected to survive at all.
He wondered if Sirius felt the same, but he never asked. Sirius, meanwhile, was busying himself with the parchment, quill between his teeth.
"If we double the tail on Malfoy," Sirius muttered, absently chewing the quill and getting ink smeared across his mouth, "maybe we can pick up some more of his associates --"
"Sirius," Remus said, interrupting him by laying a gentle hand on his wrist. "Can we talk about something else?"
Sirius looked up at him slowly, his quill slowly falling from his mouth and leaving a trail of black in its wake.
"Sure," he says. "Whatever you want." Then he glanced at the clock and offered Remus an embarrassed half-smile. "Do you mind if I just check the news, though? The vote should be about over."
Remus laughed, not really expecting anything else, and flicked the radio on.
"Now, the news at six. In an unexpected political turn, today's debate on open homosexuality in learning environments has been extended after ministers failed to reach a consensus in the allotted time ..."
Sirius's eyes lit up. "You might have a point! Maybe not everything's a disaster after all."
Remus smiled. "I'm glad." He still couldn't get his hopes up, but it had been a long time since the radio had brought anything remotely like good news, so he'd take what he could get. "Come here."
Sirius went happily, propping himself up above Remus and grinning.
"You have ink all over your face, I can't take you anywhere." Remus reached out and smudged Sirius's jaw before leaving inky fingerprints along his collarbone.
"Well, we'd better stay in, then," Sirius answered, cupping Remus's face and bending down for a kiss.
Remus was still tired and aching, and in a moment or two Sirius's weight would be too much for him and they'd have to do some awkward wriggling, but in the meantime Sirius was warm and familiar and here, and more than capable of chasing fears of the future away. The radio hummed on in the background, unnoticed.