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The Dog You Feed

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Sirius did his level best to forget his conversation with Regulus and be happy through the welcome feast. For the most part, he even succeeded. He knew it would come back to torment and haunt him, but for now he cheered loudly for every new first year the Sorting Hat sent over to Gryffindor, sang enthusiastically and painfully offkey to the school song, and stuffed himself to bursting with food while smiling and laughing with his friends and housemates.

There were moments though when he felt the cracks in his own cheerful façade. Everything felt treacherously fragile in those moments. His breath caught in his throat, and for a few seconds, Sirius would worry that everything around him might shatter and he would find himself back in Grimmauld Place again, the latter half of his summer having been only a sweet dream.

It happened when he caught sight of Regulus over at the Slytherin table, and again when he accidentally locked eyes with Patrick Sutcliffe, who went pale and looked away quickly. It even happened once when Sirius looked over at Remus and saw him frowning, brow furrowed.

Mostly though, he was able to shove those feelings back down after a few moments. Then he could suck in a breath and smile again, jumping back into whatever conversation was happening around him. However, a tinge of melancholy settled more firmly over him as the feast ended and crowds of chattering and yawning students began to head for their dorms.

Sirius felt himself slowing, drifting away from James and Peter as they headed out of the Great Hall. They were deep into the weeds talking Quidditch tactics with a few other members of the Gryffindor house team, and Sirius felt like an interloper listening in.

He’d been kicked off the team at the end of last year. That had been part of his punishment, along with the letter home to his parents, his own guilty conscience, and many, many hours of detention. Sirius had never been as Quidditch obsessed as James, and he’d only really joined the team because of James, but losing it still hurt, even if he knew his ban was well-deserved.

If he’d said something, James would have changed the subject in an instant, but Sirius didn’t want to take Quidditch away from James, not even in the smallest way. So, he slowed his pace just a bit until James, Peter, and the others were swallowed by the crowds ahead.

Sirius had caught a glimpse of Remus and Lily at the back of the mob. They were doing their prefectly duties running herd on their fellow Gryffindors. Making sure no first years were left behind and that none of the older students were sneaking off to cause mischief so early in the school year. Sirius elbowed his way out of the flow of students and found a place near the double doors where he could wait for Remus and Lily. They, at the very least, wouldn’t be talking about finding a new beater to fill Sirius’s vacant spot on the Gryffindor house team.

Remus smiled and raised a hand in greeting when he spotted Sirius, but Lily glowered at him. Instinctively, Sirius did a quick mental review of everything he’d done between when she’d left for her prefects’ meeting on the train and now. He didn’t think he’d done anything in those few hours that might have invoked Lily’s ire, but he wasn’t entirely sure.

She jabbed an accusing finger at him anyway. “I thought you said you were going to have a talk with Potter about pestering me?” She snapped.

Oh, that made more sense. Sirius let himself relax a bit as he shared a look with Remus, half-amused and half-longsuffering. If Sirius had found a downside to becoming Lily’s friend, it was the drama between her and James. Things had been so much simpler when he only had to sympathize with James’s plight.

Working together, Sirius and Remus, had sat James down for a conversation about how his pursuit was doing the opposite of winning Lily over. At the time it had seemed like he’d gotten the point. There had even been that Muggle girl he’d snogged at the party in Wimbourne over the summer. Sirius had honestly thought James might be moving on, then he’d transfigured all the roast potatoes along the Gryffindor table into red roses during the feast tonight.

“At least it wasn’t lilies,” Sirius said. He could see one corner of Remus’s mouth twitch and his nostrils flare as he tried not to laugh. James’s gesture hadn’t been accompanied by a verbal declaration of love or an invitation to Hogsmeade, so he was technically adhering to the letter of their agreement, if not its spirit.

“I would have thought,” Lily continued grumbling as they walked across the entrance hall, “that helping you out this summer might have bought me at least a little relief from Potter’s ridiculous attempts at flirtation—but no! Did you notice that a second year had already a potato on his fork when Potter cast that stupid spell? He didn’t look down and bit right into a rose. What if there had been thorns?”

Early on in Lily’s rant, Sirius and Remus had locked eyes. They both managed to keep straight faces until she got to the bit about thorns. Then they couldn’t stop themselves. The two boys burst out laughing.

Sirius was so overcome he had to wipe at tears while gasping for air. His melancholy was swept away by how badly Lily had misjudged things. Remus was no better off. He was shaking and nearly doubled over with laughter. Even as Lily’s murderous intent seemed to swing in their direction, it was impossible for either boy to stop laughing.

Remus finally recovered enough to stand up straight and force a look of sympathy, though the corners of his mouth kept twitching uncontrollably as he fought not to smile.

“Oh, Lily,” Remus said with a pitying shake of his head. “You’ve made a grave miscalculation.”

Sirius had to bite his own thumb to keep from roaring with laughter again as some of Lily’s fury gave way to confusion.

“What he means, Lily,” said Sirius, turning a chortle into a cough. “Is that you pretty much saved my arse this summer, and for James, that’s important. His friends are really important. In fact—with the possible exception of playing Quidditch topless on a broomstick made entirely of millionaire shortbread—I don’t think there’s anything you could have done that would make you more attractive to him.”

Lily’s face flushed an even darker shade of scarlet, but it wasn’t from anger any longer. She looked confused, embarrassed, and almost…contemplative, Sirius thought. Then her brow furrowed and her attention turned back to Sirius. She leaned closer and dropped her voice even though they were alone in the entrance hall now.

“That Quidditch comment was a bit specific for someone who fancies blokes,” Lily said suspiciously.

Sirius flashed her a grin so wide it threatened to split his face in two as Remus turned his head away, suffering another sudden coughing fit. “James might have this little habit of talking in his sleep and he might—”

Sirius was cut off by a yelp as Lily was suddenly yanked away from them. He and Remus both whirled, wands out. Flashes of that bookshop, of Rabastan, of flying curses and fire all tore through Sirius’s mind in an instant. Lily was far from helpless though. She’d already jerked her arm back and whirled on the shadowy figure who’d grabbed her in the first place.

“What the hell, Severus?” Lily snapped. She didn’t pull her wand out, but she settled her hands on her hips and glared at Snape as he stepped out of the shadows. He did have his wand out and raised. It was pointed past Lily, directly at Sirius.

Fury rose like bile up Sirius’s throat. Every instinct told him to hurry, to throw the first spell, because this could only end in a fight. Sirius wanted to do it. He wanted to see Snape sprawled on the floor, bats erupting from his nose or boils bubbling up from his skin.

He caught himself, a jinx on the tip of his tongue. Biting down on his tongue until he tasted blood, Sirius felt shame rush through him, hot and cold at the same time. He’d promised. He’d promised Lily and James and Remus and even himself. He was supposed to do better, be better.

It had seemed like an easy thing to promise at the time, safe with Lily’s family or the Potters, far from anyone he actually wanted to hex or hurt. Now, it felt like every muscle in his body was rebelling as Sirius slowly lowered his wand.

This was a terrible idea. He was leaving himself open and vulnerable to an enemy, to someone who wanted to hurt him. Sirius’s instincts screamed, but he wrestled them back down. For Remus, for Lily, for James, even for Peter, maybe even for his own sake.

“I’m only trying to protect you, Lily,” Snape said. His voice had taken on an oily, cajoling tone, but Sirius could hear the bitter hiss of fury beneath it. He could see loathing in Snape’s black eyes. He didn’t lower his wand. “You’re currently keeping company with attempted murderers,” Snape said. He held his free hand out to Lily with a hint of a smug smile like he expected her to eagerly take it with that revelation.

Remus shuddered and his wand arm dropped as he looked away. If Sirius’s instincts were screaming about leaving himself defenseless, Remus’s must have been too. The difference was, he would accept any attacks by Snape as justified. That simply wouldn’t do. Sirius would not let Remus suffer any more than he already had for something that was all Sirius’s fault.

Snape’s brow furrowed when Lily didn’t take his hand and turn on Remus and Sirius as well. “Lily, do you have any idea what these two are capable of? What they tried to do to me?”

Sirius wasn’t used to controlling his temper. It felt like he was trying to force a hurricane into a jar and stopper it shut. He expected the glass to crack or the cork to shoot free at any moment, releasing the storm inside him to tear everything apart.

Before it could, Sirius sucked in a deep breath and did one of the most difficult things in his life. “I’m sorry, Snape,” Sirius said.

For a moment, you could have heard a pin drop or a ghost breathe. Sirius could feel three sets of eyes on him, all of them wide with shock.

Sirius didn’t feel any better for having apologized. All that rubbish about the healing power of confession and contrition was exactly that, rubbish. There was no weight off his shoulders or feeling of relief. Sirius was still angry; the storm was still barely contained in its jar.

If Sirius was being completely honest, he wasn’t really apologizing to Snape. He would never give a damn what Snape thought of him, and he didn’t want to befriend or even tolerate with the slimy git. Sirius was apologizing because he owed it to his friends, because they deserved a better friend than he had been. Perhaps that was wrong or selfish, but it was the best he could manage. Maybe he wasn’t a good person, maybe he never would be, but Sirius was determined to be a good friend.

“I never meant for you to die or even get hurt,” Sirius forced himself to say. His intentions weren’t worth much, he was sure, especially in Snape’s eyes, but it was the truth. “It was still a stupid thing for me to do and I—”

Snape cut him off with a dramatic scoff. “As if I’d believe a word you say, Black,” he sneered. “Your apologies are worth as much as you are now that your family tossed you out.”

That stung. Sirius hadn’t expected it to. Why should he give a damn about being disowned or burned off the bloody family tapestry? He was better off with the Potters, away from his monstrous parents. And yet…

He winced. Snape saw it, and he smiled, twisting the knife he’d just used to crack through Sirius’s armor.

“Did he tell you he was thrown out by his own family, Lily?” Snape asked. “Not even his own parents want a monster like this for a son—”

“That’s enough, Severus!” Lily said. “Stop it now! I know everything I need to know about what happened between you and Sirius.”

The curl of Snape’s lip practically dripped with condescension. Sirius had a moment to wonder if Snape had always misjudged Lily or if she had been the one who’d changed and grown since the days when they’d been fast friends. Sirius himself was still getting to know her, but even he knew enough to see how well that was going to go over. Lily did not like to be underestimated or spoken down to.

“I can guarantee you don’t know everything, Lily,” Snape said. “I’m sure Black, Potter, and their pet have fed you some sweet little fairytale where they did nothing wrong, where they’re innocent. It’s a lie though; they conspired to murder me, Lily! Black tried to feed me to his beast!”

Sirius could feel a crack in the glass. His fury was leaking through. It was going to escape. He might have stood a chance if Snape had stuck to insulting him and him alone—though even that was iffy at best—but Remus didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve to be reminded of the terrible role he’d almost played in Sirius’s great mistake.

“It wasn’t Remus’s fault,” Sirius snapped. “He didn’t know—he had nothing to do with what I did. If you’re going to blame someone, Snape, blame me. Only me.”

They were all looking at him again, Snape with hate, genuine hate, in his eyes. Sirius couldn’t see what Remus and Lily might be thinking. He couldn’t take his eyes away from Snape to spare either of them a glance. That would be more dangerous than turning his back on a viper.

Snape’s wand tip rose a bit, moving from Sirius’s chest to take aim at his head.

He might actually do it, Sirius realized. Snape might actually curse him, and if he did, it wasn’t going to be something embarrassing but ultimately harmless.

“Oh for heaven’s sake!” Lily snapped. She deliberately stepped between Sirius and Snape. Sirius made a sound of protest, but Snape lowered his wand quickly. He didn’t put it away, but then, neither had Sirius.

“Severus, I know what Sirius did to you, and it was wrong. It was stupid and terrible and cruel.” Lily threw a stern glance over her shoulder as she said it. Sirius nodded, accepting her condemnation when their eyes met.

He disliked Snape. A terrible part of him wanted to see Snape humiliated, and an even worse part of him wanted to see Snape hurt and scared. Not in the way he’d almost accomplished it though. Sirius was genuinely sorry for that.

“I don’t blame you for being angry, but you weren’t completely blameless either, Sev,” Lily said, turning back on Snape. “You’ve been hinting at your suspicions about Remus for years. You knew the moon was full. You had to know what you were going to find when Sirius told you how to get past the Whomping Willow. What were your intentions, Severus? Were you hoping to hurt someone for a condition he can’t control, for something that’s not his fault? Something I’d say is just like blood status.”

Remus was wilting. He wanted to run away or hide or, better yet, sink straight into the stone floor. Sirius could tell when he spared a glance for his friend. He wanted to reach out, to comfort or shield Remus from Snape’s cruel words, from the way Lily was unintentionally talking about him like he wasn’t standing half a step away from her, and from the painful reminders of Sirius’s own callous actions. He doubted Remus would welcome his touch though. Not when he already looked like he wanted to throw himself off the astronomy tower.

The fury and accompanying urge to hurt Snape for starting this confrontation made Sirius’s hands shake.

“So, you can forgive Black for attempted murder but I’m forever going to be punished for a slip of the tongue?” He didn’t sound hurt so much as angry, jealous even.

“Don’t! Don’t you dare,” Lily said, low and furious as she poked a finger at Snape. “We’ve already had this conversation. I forgave you for that. You know what it is I can’t forgive, and it’s not some stupid little insult. Sirius fucked up and, yes, it was worse than anything you’ve done, Sev, but he just apologized to you. He’s trying to change, to do better, are you?”

Shame for all the anger and violence he was only just containing made Sirius squirm. He didn’t feel better, he didn’t feel good, but he was trying. He was fighting his instincts, trying to keep the storm contained, trying to keep that mean and evil dog on a chain.

Snape bared his teeth like a wild animal. “Black is not better than me,” he said from between clenched molars, “and you’re a fool if you think he can ever be anything more than a murderous bully.”

Lily looked between the two of them, Sirius and Snape. She leveled the same stern, judgmental glare at both of them. Then she shrugged. “I suppose we’ll see.”

With that, she whirled away and headed for the grand staircase. Remus followed on her heels, but Sirius hesitated just a moment more. His eyes locked with Snape’s, fury and loathing seething within both of them. No, there would never be any peace or a truce here. Sirius was already at his limits. He wouldn’t be able to keep his promises forever. He was going to snap, and he was going to lash out at Snape. It was inevitable for both of them.

Not tonight though.

Sirius could hold on longer than one night. He could, at the very least, be better than that.

He turned away to follow Lily and Remus toward their dorms.

He made it up all of three steps when the hex hit him in the back. Sirius fell forward even as his feet slipped out from beneath him. He managed to get an arm up in time to keep from hitting the stairs face first, but pain flashed through his forearm, ankle, and hip as he tumbled back down the stone steps.

“Sirius!” Remus called name as he and Lily rushed down to Sirius’s side. Remus helped him off the ground as Lily stormed up to Snape. Her cheeks were redder than her hair and she was almost glowing with anger.

“Twenty-five points from Slytherin for attacking a fellow student in the halls!” Lily shouted.

Snape didn’t seem to care about the points he’d just lost though. He wasn’t even looking at Lily. He was staring past her at Sirius. A mocking smile curved his thin lips up.

So, that was his game then. It was one they’d played before, Sirius and James against Snape and his friends. One of them said something or sent a small hex at the other side as a provocation, an invitation to fight. Snape was trying to goad him right now. He wanted Sirius to lose his temper and show Lily and Remus that he wasn’t a changed man, that he was still the same violent bully he’d been just last spring.

Maybe he was right. However, despite his temper flaring, Sirius was also exceptionally stubborn. Once he’d guessed at Snape’s game, it was fairly easy to stand straight, take a moment to tug his robes back into place, and shoot Snape a supercilious glower. Then he defiantly turned his back on Snape again, and began marching up the stairs.

“Go to your dormitory right now, Snape, or I’ll be forced to report you to your head of house.” Sirius could hear Lily issuing orders, but he didn’t turn back around. Not until Snape struck again, straight at Sirius’s heart this time.

“Of course,” Snape said slickly. “I have quite the story to tell to all my housemates, after all. They deserve to know about the beast hiding in Gryffindor Tower. The werewo—oof!”

Sirius whirled around then, grabbing for his wand. Snape was already on the ground though, clutching at his enormous nose. Remus stood over him. His wand was nowhere in sight, but his hands were clenched into fists.

Blood trickled from between Snape’s fingers. Sirius couldn’t breathe. He didn’t think he’d ever seen anything so stunning as Remus standing angry, defiant, and triumphant, glaring down at Snape. It was glorious, but he felt panic set in a second later and began to rush back down the stairs.

“Damn it, Remus!” Lily snapped. “Twenty-five points from—”

“You’ll regret that, monster!” Snape hissed, interrupting Lily. “I’ll tell everyone what you are! They’ll throw you out of Hogwarts, put you down like the rabid animal you are.”

“Go on then,” Remus replied. He sounded perfectly calm, absolutely icy. It made Sirius shiver. This was Remus at his angriest, his most terrifying. Even Lily and Snape seemed to sense it. Lily drew back a step and Snape instinctively shrank away. “I’d rather be expelled than spend two ears with you gloating and holding it over my head, hissing threats in my ears, and blackmailing my friends. If you’re going to do it, then just fucking do it already.”

If Snape could have cast a killing curse silently and wandlessly, Remus would have crumpled before them all in a flash of green light. He remained standing though, and Snape fumed silently, impotently, on the floor before him.

Sirius couldn’t understand what could possibly keep Snape silent, but he suspected Dumbledore was behind it. Perhaps they’d made a deal or maybe there were threats involved. Whatever it was, Snape seemed to fear Dumbledore even more than he hated Remus or Sirius.

“That’s what I thought,” Remus said coldly. This time, it was his turn to whirl about and storm away from Snape. Remus passed both Lily and Sirius without a word. Sirius wanted to chase after him, but he didn’t want to leave Lily alone with a dangerously incensed Snape.

She was lingering at the bottom of the stairs, one hand rubbing at her temple like she had a headache. Sirius thought he heard her mutter something about “fragile male egos,” but she sighed and took a step toward Snape. Lily extended a hand to help him up, but Snape ignored it as he picked himself up off the floor with as much dignity as he could muster.

“Please, Sev, it doesn’t have to be like this,” Lily said quietly. Sirius didn’t think she meant for him to hear her, but sound carried in the cavernous entrance hall. “I still care about you. I want to be your friend; I’ll always want to be your friend. We can start over…”

She reached for him again, but Snape shied away from her outstretched hand like it might burn him. He looked her over before his eyes swept up the staircase, landing on Sirius, who stood statue still, not wanting to interfere, but not willing to leave Lily either. Snape wiped the blood away from his nose with the back of his sleeve and raised his chin until he could look down at Lily.

“It would seem you have new friends now,” Snape said with clear disgust.

Lily cocked her head, her attention caught by something behind Snape. Sirius followed her gaze to the stairs leading down toward the dungeons. Three figures stood lurking in the shadows near the top of the stairs. Sirius’s heart clenched as he recognized Mulciber, Avery…and Regulus.

They seemed to have just arrived on the scene. Mulciber and Avery were tensed and scowling, ready to charge into battle, their wands drawn. Regulus hung a step behind them. He looked conflicted, almost nauseous, but he had his wand in hand as well.

“It looks like you have new friends too,” Lily said sadly. Snape looked over his shoulder and in an instant, his posture went ramrod straight. Any last hint of affection or friendship he might have felt for Lily seemed to be brushed aside. He turned his back on her and marched away toward the stairs. Lily waited until all four Slytherins had slunk back out of sight before she sighed, tucking her hair behind her ear.

“Don’t say a word,” Lily snapped at Sirius as she climbed up the stairs. She jabbed a finger at him. “I’m furious with you—with all of you—right now.”

Sirius just nodded. He thought he’d handled everything as well as he was ever going to manage, but he knew how irrational anger could make a person. If it made Lily feel better to be angry with him, well, he probably deserved it for something.

They found Remus waiting for them outside the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. He was crouched down, his back pressed against the stone wall, his head in his hands.

“I’m sorry,” he said when they approached. “That was very stupid of me.”

“I thought it was fantastic,” Sirius said, grinning as he pulled Remus back to his feet. “You’ve got a good left hook, Moony.”

Remus favored him with a thin smile. Lily rolled her eyes at both of them and snapped the password to the Fat Lady.

“You’re all impossible,” she said. “I’m going up to my dorm, where my friends with common sense live.”

“See you at breakfast!” Sirius called after her. Lily flipped a rude gesture at him over her shoulder, but she didn’t contradict him.

Remus gave a snort of laughter. “Merlin, the two of you as friends…that’s a bloody bomb just waiting to go off.”

Sirius grinned. “Thrilling, isn’t it?”

Remus shook his head, but it was undermined by his lingering smile. “Let’s get upstairs. No more explosions tonight, Padfoot.” He started for the stairs, Sirius following behind him.

They were almost outside their dorm room when Remus stopped and turned back toward Sirius. He looked nervous, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth, his fingers fidgeting with his robes. Sirius wanted to reach out and sooth whatever was worrying him. He wanted to take Remus’s hands in his own and still them.

“I’m ready,” Remus said.

Sirius’s brow furrowed in confusion and he raised an eyebrow, not following his friend’s train of thought. “For what?”

“I’m ready for you to apologize,” Remus said. He swallowed. “I’m ready to forgive you.”

Sirius froze. He stopped breathing. Even his heart felt like it stopped beating. This was what he wanted most in the world, Sirius realized. This was what he’d wanted all summer, what he’d waited for and worked for. Remus was offering his forgiveness for all the wrong Sirius had done to him.

He shook his head, looking down, away from Remus. “Moony, no…” he said.

Every word hurt to say, but he couldn’t accept this, no matter how much he wanted it. Remus was basing his forgiveness on a false pretense, and that wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair.

“You don’t know how close I came to hexing Snape tonight,” Sirius admitted. “I was so angry and I don’t know if I’ll be able to control it next time. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to control it.”

Remus laughed. Sirius looked up at him only to find Remus smiling, though his eyes were full of self-recrimination. “I know that, Sirius,” he said. “Snape is always going to be a trigger, for all of us, seeing how I was the one who punched him tonight.” His smile lightened a bit, turning wry. “I don’t expect you to be perfect, Sirius; no one is. All I want is to feel like I’m safe with you. I want to trust you again…and I do.”

Sirius felt himself smile. He felt like he could breathe freely for the first time in months. He almost felt dizzy from the sudden rush of oxygen and Remus’s forgiveness.

Remus waved a hand at him with a smirk. “Well, get on with it then. Apologize to me.”

He said it flippantly. He’d already granted his forgiveness. The rest was just for show. Sirius had never passed up a chance to show off though.

He dropped to one knee on the stairs, taking one of Remus’s hands in both of his. He had to crane his head back to stare up at Remus, whose eyes had gone wide, a flush rising up his cheeks and ears. Sirius had meant it to be a joking gesture, but once he was down on his knee, he found himself feeling earnest.

“Remus Lupin, I’m sorry,” he said with utmost solemnity and sincerity. “I’ll never betray your trust again. I swear it on my life, on everything that I have and everything I am.”

Above him, Remus’s cheeks were still turning red. He tugged insistently at the hand Sirius held. “Get up, you great idiot! You look like you’re proposing marriage!”

Sirius let Remus pull him back to his feet.

“You’re utterly impossible,” Remus said, “but I forgive you, Sirius.”

Sirius drew in a deep breath. Why did it feel like he’d just been given the greatest gift in his life? He was standing a step below Remus, so he still had to tilt his head back to look up at him. He found himself caught in those familiar amber brown eyes. Remus stared right back at him. He seemed almost as enthralled as Sirius.

Time seemed to stretch out as something Sirius couldn’t name or even begin to define spiraled out of control within his chest. It felt like another storm within him, but it was nothing like anger. It was…it was…

Remus blinked and looked away. He finally pulled his hand out of Sirius’s grip. Sirius had forgotten he was even still holding it. “We should…er, go inside,” Remus said, clearing his throat. He was still blushing, which felt somehow unfair, because Sirius felt like all the blood in his body had just drained right out of him.

“Yeah,” he said, swallowing around a dry throat and a heavy tongue. “I need to tell Prongs and Wormtail all about how you punched Snape.”

Remus grimaced, flexing the fingers of his hand. The same hand he’d hit Snape with. The same hand Sirius had just been holding. “I’m not proud of it,” Remus said, “but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy hitting the prat.”

Sirius let out a bark of laughter that echoed up and down the spiral stairs. “Oh, Moony, it was epic,” he said as they started up the stairs again. “I’m going to write poetry about it, sonnets—no, limericks!”

“Don’t you dare!” Remus demanded even as he grinned.

“There once was a boy named Moony,” Sirius said in a sing-song voice, dodging as Remus lunged for him. “And though some said he was puny—”

With Remus hot on his heels, Sirius raced for the safety of their dorm, laughing and grinning.

He was likely going to be tackled and quite possibly strangled by an irate werewolf at any second, and outside the castle walls the world was slowly sliding toward chaos and war. Just for a moment though, Sirius felt deliriously happy.

Things weren’t back to how they’d been before. They never could be, but he had hope they could be even better.