It was a sign of the depths to which Remus had sunk that Mundungus took one look at him and offered to pay for dinner. To be fair, dinner was just chips and beer, but Remus was grateful for the warmth of the paper-wrapped parcel in his hands. He graciously left Mundungus the lion's share of the beer bottle, after he had taken the first swig.
"Cheer up," said 'Dung, rubbing his hands together against the cold night air. "You'll be living the high life tomorrow, once you get to Hogwarts. Hot dinners every night, a roof over your head that doesn't usually leak, and an army of house elves to wash your socks. It's almost worth putting up with teaching the little toe-rags."
Remus blew on a hot chip and bit into it. Dumbledore's offer had been the first pleasant surprise in a while. He hardly dared to think of the opportunities it presented - a place to live without fear of discovery, the chance to know James and Lily's son - because Dumbledore's gifts were never what they seemed.
"Why do you think he asked me?" he asked 'Dung, holding his hand up to refuse the beer bottle.
Dung drained the bottle with an appreciative sigh. "You're a bloody good wizard, Remus. Trust you not to realise. Never one to blow your own horn." A leer spread across his face.
Remus rolled his eyes and braced himself. Here it comes.
"'Spose you always had Sirius for that, eh?" 'Dung nudged him in the side with a surprisingly sharp elbow.
Remus caught 'Dung's elbow with two strong fingers and squeezed, just at the point where it would hurt most. 'Dung gave a sudden whimper and Remus let go.
"Didn't mean nothing by it, didn't mean nothing." 'Dung pulled away, sinking into his ragged cloak.
"Thank you for dinner, Mundungus," Remus passed him the remaining chips, and picked up his briefcase.
The cafeteria at Kings Cross Station was cheap but clean. With the expectation of a salary ahead, Remus treated himself to a cup of tea and settled in to wait for the Express to arrive.
Dumbledore's reasons became clear when Remus unfolded the Muggle newspaper left behind on his table and saw Sirius' face splashed across the front page. 'Dangerous criminal!' the headline proclaimed, 'Escaped!'
"Oh, Sirius, you idiot, they'll give you the Kiss for this," said Remus. He pushed his tea away, miserable with nausea and treacherous longing. He should hate the man for what he'd done, he should be glad that it will soon be over. Instead of hate, though, he felt a kind of elation: things were moving, things were changing, for better or for worse.
He gathered his briefcase, checked the flimsy clasp was still secure, and headed for the station, stopping only to buy a big bar of chocolate. An escape from Azkaban meant the likelihood of Dementors, and he wanted to be prepared. By the time he reached the platform, he realised he was humming with anticipation of the year ahead. Dumbledore might be a manipulative bastard, but Remus was glad for the chance to be the centre of things. Maybe this time he could do some good.