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the voice of rage and ruin

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It is quite odd, Remus supposes, the way the two men stand there, motionless save for a flicker of the eyes as they take in each other. If he had thought Sirius looked bad when they last saw each other a year ago, then he had been mistaken. It must be logical, actually, because as bad as Azkaban’s reputation is, he guesses they do not let their inmates starve to death - but then again, there’s not much of humanity left inside that prison anyways, from what he has heard. When he last saw his old friend, he looked ragged down, dirty and crazy. Now, he’s thin - thinner than he ever has been -, filthy and tentative. Both of those descriptions are so unlike the Sirius he knows, but he’ll take the first one over the latter any day. A crazy Sirius, he can deal with, but a scared one?

But he understands it. After all, it is the same for him. When they last saw each other, there was relief swamping from both of them, hope that maybe, just maybe, they could put things right, that they could avenge their friends, and that things could change. There was an embrace, this one desperate, and then another round of… everything, really. Remus feels like he let down his friends, like he’s let down Harry, that he’s let down Sirius when he didn’t agree to just kill Peter, when he’s already escaped from bugging Azkaban for this-- He doesn’t even want to imagine what Sirius must have felt like - must still feel like.

And then, of course, he has been on the run. There’s been a few owls passed between them, but never about the things Remus needed to know. Still, anything else would have been risky; for either of them. Sirius couldn’t give up information about where he has been and Remus couldn’t have people know he was talking to him of all people. Life was already hard enough before the entirety of the Wizarding World (and it surely is everyone by now, Remus reckons there has been an article in the Daily Prophet) knew what he is, now he gets turned away everywhere he goes, save for a few exceptions that could be considered revolutionary. It would be bothersome if he blew that, too, though it’s mostly Sirius’ safety that concerns him, of course.

“Hi,” he finally says, somewhat awkwardly. What do you say when you meet your best friend after… well, technically it has been thirteen years. Last summer barely counts.

Sirius seems as unsure as him, though he tries to overplay it. He’s gotten worse at that over the years, Remus thinks, or maybe it is just the lack of human contact. “Tube,” he points out, jerking his chin into the direction Remus came from. “Stylish.”

It’s a reflex when it comes to Sirius, he can’t stop his lips from twitching. “Well, I probably do have to get adjusted to muggle life.” 

As if he were staring into some kind of contorted mirror, his facial expression gets twisted into a scowl on Sirius’ face at that. “I can’t believe that git would do that to you,” he says. Then, maybe in a reflex of his own, he bridges the rest of distance between them, lifting his arm to put a hand against Remus’-- and drops it. “Remus, I am so sorry.”

Even without the words, Remus would have known it isn’t him who keeps them apart. It’s the years, it’s the pain, it’s the-- the world, really. Always has been. And it only got worse.

“It’s-- it’s fine.” It isn’t. “We knew the spot was cursed.” It’s a rumour among students, at least, one that always felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. 

“And we always figured you’d be the one to break it,” Sirius answers. There’s something in his voice that makes it sound like a joke and the truth at the same time. The worst thing is, it’s probably the latter. He has a suitcase to prove it; one that was gifted to him by the other three Marauders for his seventeenth birthday because it’s ‘what suits a professor’. They were always adamant about him following that line of thought, even though he never thought it was a good idea. (And how right he has been, after all.)

But this isn’t about any of that. He shakes away his thoughts and focuses . “You said you needed to do something for Dumbledore?”

Something disappears from Sirius’ face, something that Remus hadn’t even spotted before it went away. He nods before grimacing lightly. “Well, it’s-- he doesn’t know it yet, technically, but I had an idea--”

“You had an idea.” Remus stops him. “And that’s why you decided to come to London, where a wizard could come across you at any second?” Involuntarily, he shoots a look around, making sure that there is nobody. Sudden anxiety floods his veins, and anger at Sirius-- well, Sirius being Sirius.

And in a very Sirius-fashion, he puts on a dazzling smile (as dazzling as it can be in his state). “That’s why I got you here, right?”

“Is it?” Remus raises an eyebrow. He doesn’t think he’d be much help if anyone called Aurors on them; with the reputation that Peter has left Sirius, they’d send a whole squad, so many that they wouldn’t be able to fight off, even with their skills. Sirius doesn’t even have a wand! He may be gifted at Silent Charms, but there’s a difference to them while duelling. Not to mention that it would leave both of them on the run if they were to escape, and that whatever idea Sirius had for Dumbledore would be destroyed.

Sirius’ smile falls. “You still got it, mate. So, maybe I don’t have you as protection. Wouldn’t need to anyways, thank you very much--” That does sound like the Sirius he knows, for sure. “But… I figured it’d be best if I… well, if you were there where I need to go.”

“A werewolf den?” Remus figures. It would make sense, then, that Sirius would want him there. And there surely is a probability that he has learnt of such locations while he was in Azkaban--

No,” Sirius shakes his head. “ No . Moony, you can’t think that-- Listen, I know what it’s done to you. I know how much you hated-- I’d have to die first before I let you do such a stunt again,” he says, not even blinking as he looks up at Remus. “You got that?”

“You’re not dying on me,” Remus says automatically. “Not you, too.”

Sirius gives him a sad smile, finally lifting his hand to Remus’ shoulder. “I’ll try my best.”

It’s not a promise, but Remus will take it. It’s something he can hold onto, something akin to a reassurance, and it… it helps. “You better,” he says. “So, where are we going?”

Sirius hesitates, an insecurity that’s rarely ever been written into his features put on full display. It doesn’t take much to figure out what it’s connected to, knowing him. “I-- Grimmauld Place. My… the place I grew up in.”

My home, he almost said. Though that would have been a lie, wouldn’t it? If Sirius had ever felt at home with his family - not that Remus would know, it’s always been a taboo - then that ceased once he ran away, staying with the Potters rather than his own blood; if it hadn’t already ended as he got sorted into Gryffindor. And even without anything being said by Sirius, there was enough evidence that his family’s house was bad. That summer was something to be dreaded by him and that he suffered there. Of course, there’d never been any marks left on him in time for the school year, but the haunted eyes - not as bad as it is now, but close - they were proof enough. That and the sneers and insults that Regulus has come to use in his later years.

“I thought it was… vacated,” Remus offers. What would Sirius want there? Granted, quite a number of Blacks were on Voldemort’s side during the First War, but even if those were on the higher ranks of his followers, they wouldn’t have left information lying around, would they? No, they’re an ancient family with secrets, they know how to get rid of those. Especially upon death. 

“Exactly! After dear old mum died, nobody’s set foot inside. Least as far as I know,” Sirius says with a shrug. “So I figured that it could become the new headquarters.” There’s a certain gleam in his eyes, like he’s cracked a certain code.

It’s a clever idea, Remus has to give him that. Who would think Voldemort’s opponents would meet and plot in a house belonging to some of his greatest supporters? But they can’t be sure the location really is secure, unless… “No. You can’t be serious.”

“I am--”

“Not the time for jokes,” Remus says sharply. He doesn’t need the old and worn pun that was never funny in the first place, he doesn’t need the memory of all of them groaning, of the way James banned the expression for all of them and if they slipped up they had to pay a Galleon. He doesn’t need those memories, not when another one, a more pressing one makes its way into his head in its place. “Do you really want to risk-- I don’t need to remind you of--”

“Of what happened? Of the fact that it’s my fault that my best friend was bloody murdered? That I’m the reason his son is a fucking orphan when he should have had the best parents you could imagine?” Sirius starts rattling off. “I know the Fidelius charm isn’t perfect, Moony, that’s why I chose you to come with me first.”

Remus can’t do anything but stare at him. The last time they dealt with the charm, Sirius had explicitly chosen that he wouldn’t be included in it. Now it’s the opposite. It’s fourteen years later and it’s only the two of them left, so maybe it makes sense. Still, he can’t help the shiver running down his spine at Sirius’ offer. He doesn’t trust his voice, so he just nods and hopes it’s enough.

Chapter Text

The entrance hall of Grimmauld Place is… uninviting, to say the least. There’s no natural lightning whatsoever, and with the dark colours of both the wall and carpet, they’re practically standing in complete darkness. It’s both under- and overwhelming, Remus thinks, given that he’s already had to wait a few moments after Sirius gave him an address to read and memorize - it appears that the Fidelius charm works in quite an old-school manner. But once he did so, a building materialized in-between two others, looking as if it belonged right there in Muggle London. He bit back a comment on the location, Sirius is probably aware enough of the irony. They didn’t take long to enter the building, even if both of them - he can tell it’s the same for Sirius - have a bad feeling about it.

Remus can feel Sirius move next to him and in the next moment the torches (torches!) along the walls are lit. “Well, that’s pretty rustical,” he jokes, trying to lift the tension that’s radiating from Sirius. He can’t blame him, of course not, not when he returns to a place he ran from two decades ago.

He shouldn’t have said anything, as it turns out. As soon as the words have left his mouth, there’s a whooshing sound coming from somewhere down the hall. On instinct, both of them duck their heads, Remus with his wand ready to defend them from whatever spell awaits them. 

“Who dare enter the house of my noble ancestors?” A low voice demands. “Invaders, show yourselves!”

A soft groan escapes Sirius’ lips, one that speaks of annoyance rather than anything else. “Of course,” he mumbles, but keeps his focus up. With his free hand, he motions Remus to follow him.

The voice keeps going on, listing threats filled with things that would bestow them should they not be worthy of entering the manor, and soon Remus realizes that it’s an elderly woman who’s speaking. Didn’t Sirius say that his whole family has died by now? They couldn’t have possibly--

It’s a portrait. 

Bloody hell, of course it’s a portrait. At the end of the hall, the painting of a woman has been placed; Remus had seen it right away, but didn’t think the talking came from here.

But it does, clearly. The woman in the picture eyes them with arrogance written into her features, until suddenly her eyes go wide.

“Is that-- Sirius, is that you, my dear boy?” The woman says, voice suddenly soft. She has the same high cheekbones as Sirius and the grey of her irises have the same colours, as Remus notices now.

“Mother,” Sirius says, staring at her dumbfoundedly. His voice is hollow, kind of, and he’s frozen to the spot. His surprise doesn’t seem to be aimed at the portrait's existence, but rather the words. 

“They let you out of Azkaban, didn’t they?” Mrs Black continues, a smile on her lips. “Well, of course they did. Order of Merlin, they better gave you, I reckon.”

She doesn’t say what exactly she means, but it’s clear enough either way. And it should have been clear the entire time: If the whole Wizarding World thought that Sirius has been on Voldemort’s side, then this would include his family, too. Even if they should know better, even if they should know there’s no way in hell that Sirius would want to be associated with them in any way - he made that clear enough, as far as Remus knows -, of course the Blacks would think they won, eventually. 

Again, Sirius has ducked, making himself smaller than he is. Apparently, he hadn’t realized all of this either. That his mother died thinking that she had won. It’s a morbid thought for Remus, but he knows that Sirius would have wanted her to die in disappointment rather than wrongly placed pride. His face is robbed of all emotions, holding a neutral mask in place instead. But Remus can see his lip twitch a little, aching to how just something

Mrs Black still smiles brightly as her gaze slowly wanders over to Remus. He’s never heard of any spells that can determine a person’s blood status, but just as if one of those were placed on the painting, Mrs. Black starts to sneer. “You bring a mudblood into my house?” She bellows. The disbelief is written into her face. “And not just that-- a mutt?” She spats. Remus must have flinched without noticing because she looks quite proud of herself for that insult.

Sirius breaks out of his trance. He raises his index finger fist and presses out, “How dare you think I would ever become like you? I’d rather die!” 

Mrs. Black doesn’t look nearly as surprised as Remus would have expected. “Ah, of course you continue to be a disappointment. Just like you always have been; befriending the worst kinds of animals as if they had any right to even breathe--”

“Shut up!” Sirius bursts out. He’s dropped his hand, clenching it into a fist. “Shut your bloody Death Eater mouth before I do it for you--”

There’s many things that are ironic about Sirius, starting with his name and ending with the fact that, in certain situations, he keeps forgetting that he is a wizard. Every so often, back at Hogwarts, Sirius had gotten in regular old fist fights. It took many by surprise, to say the least. Remus had been a witness to many of those, so he knows the warning signs. The way Sirius’ knuckles turn white from how hard he holds his fists. Not that that matter of action ever helped, but it certainly won’t do anything against a hexed portrait. 

Silencio,” Remus tries.

Mrs. Black’s eyes narrow, a silent kind of fury on full display and he dares to exhale. Except-- “How. Dare. You. A dog--”

There’s a loud bang and the curtains pull themselves closed in front of her face. No sound is coming from the portrait anymore and Remus supposes this might be the only way to shut it up.

He looks at Sirius who seems to be quite distraught still. He’s red in the face and scowling at the curtains. It might not have been a spell done on purpose.

“Sirius,” he starts carefully, reaching over and closing a hand around his wrist. There’s no reaction. “Pads, come on. Let’s-- let’s continue. It’s alright.”

Sirius still doesn’t move on his own, but he lets himself be pulled away rather easily. Once they entered the next corridor, he snaps out of it. Remus is thankful for that; not just because he doesn’t know his way around this building but also because he isn’t sure how he’d have dealt with him had he stayed in that condition. James had always been the one to talk him down, to make him open up. Remus doesn’t have a single clue how he’s done it.

“Sorry,” Sirius says weakly. “I--”

“It’s alright,” Remus repeats. He means it. Sirius had a hard time at this place; that he has some reaction is only natural. “I-- Do you want to go on or--”

Of course,” Sirius says quickly - his voice a bit more tense than he wants to, probably. “Sorry. I meant, that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? So let’s see if anyone is here.”

He straightens his shoulders and raises his head again, but Remus catches him before he sets off. At his expectant look he raises his own wand. “Homenum Revelio,” he says clearly. Both of them wait for a reaction, but nothing happens. “No humans here.”

Sirius nods. “I forgot about that one.” They keep their voices low, not wanting to wake the portrait again. “Let’s get inside then. I need to try something else.”

He opens the door with an Alohomora, and even though that works just fine, they are cautious. There’s no guarantee that there aren’t any spells expecting them, so they’re even more quiet and careful than they’ve already been. Sirius takes the lead, going on through another dark corridor; this time he doesn’t light any torches but uses Lumos

He only speaks again when they enter what must be the salon. “I doubt there’s anything here,” he starts. “It wouldn’t make sense not to put anything in the entrance. There could be smaller hexes leading to the other rooms, but they wouldn’t be new,” he adds grimly.

Remus doesn’t want to know what happened to a 10-year-old boy snooping around just because he was curious, as all children are. “Okay.”

“Then, one more thing,” Sirius goes on. He puts his hands on his hips and looks around the room. “Kreacher!”

“Kre--?” Remus starts but then there’s a soft bang before something appears between the two of them, making him jump aside. Looking down at it, he realizes it’s a house-elf. One in miserable condition, in fact; its back is crouched and skin completely dirty, so much that it looks like nothing but a lump of dirt. 

The house-elf looks annoyed at being summoned but when he realizes who did it, his eyes grow even bigger than they are. There’s something like fear mixed into the shock when he sees Sirius, and he looks like he’s about to run away.

“Stay, Kreacher.” Sirius says off-handedly, ignoring the way the elf literally freezes at that. Instead, he gives Remus a small smile. “Looks like I did inherit the Black fortune. We should be safe here, then, except for the usual curses.” He says it casually, as if it was the most natural thing. 

Remus can’t quite take his eyes off the house-elf. Not because he isn’t familiar with them - of course he is - but because Sirius just… ignores him. 

Kreacher doesn’t agree with that either, as it seems. “The lost son returns,” he mutters. It definitely isn’t said to himself, because it’s just so loud that you do understand him. “Bloodtraitor, bringing a werewolf to the house-- house of the most glorious--”

“Kreacher, enough,” Sirius says sharply, but he still doesn’t look at him. Instead, he lets his eyes roam around the room, taking in its appearance. It’s dusty and dark, with the scent of mold in the air. It’s like nobody has been here in years. “You didn’t do a good job, did you?”

“Kreacher does what Kreacher is told to do, sir,” the house-elf says with a bow. Remus can’t help but think it’s a mocking gesture more than anything. “But nobody told Kreacher what to do.”

Sirius’ lips twitch into a smirk. “I’ll tell you what to do. I want you to stay out of this room until I call you back.” 

“Gladly so,” Kreacher offers as he bows down to the ground. His large nose is only milimetres from the carpet. And then he disappears into nothingness.

“Really didn’t do anything here, did he?” Sirius starts to chat. He lifts a cushion from the nearest sofa only to let it fall down again right away. There’s a cloud of dust coming from it. “My, this’ll need an entire cleaning process before we use it, but I reckon it could work, what do you think? There’s plenty of rooms in case someone needs to spend the night, and more than enough room for planning and--”

“It could be perfect,” Remus agrees reluctantly. He can see the way Sirius frets around, not wanting to stand still or even sit down, and steps closer to him. “Are you alright?”

Sirius reacts far too quickly. “Of course,” he says, not looking at Remus still. “Why wouldn’t I be? We didn’t get hit by any spells, neither of us is dead, so that’s fine, I suppose--”

“Sirius-- What your-- What the portrait said… You know she didn’t really believe it, do you? Else she wouldn’t have dropped it so quickly--” Remus starts, reaching out to him. This time Sirius lets him, confirming silently that it is something - one of the things - occupying his mind right now. Something he doesn’t want to deal with but has to. And while Remus does want him to open up rather than keep it in himself until he explodes, the very moment he sees him drop his head he doesn’t know how to continue.

It isn’t the first time he sees Sirius emotionally troubled. Of course not. He has a history of bottling up everything that troubles him; distracting himself with jokes and some kind of work - never the kind he was supposed to do, though - rather than dealing with it. It’s obvious that it’s the same now, but, while Remus has witnessed moments like these a lot, he was barely ever involved in them. It had always been James who dealt with it and now-- Well.

“The entire Wizarding World thought so, though,” Sirius answers. He keeps his eyes fixed on the ground, but his body radiates towards Remus. He counts it as a win. “And it was obvious, wasn’t it? Look at the Black heir, going double agent.”

Remus doesn’t know what to say. Because for so long, those had been his thoughts, too. Not exactly, because he didn’t think Sirius had secretly been a Death Eater the whole time, but close enough. It had been an easy explanation, the logical one. Because it was simpler to just assume Sirius had been drawn into his family’s shenanigans rather than to believe Peter could have pulled something like this off. 

But here they are. With the truth. In the present. And that’s what they have to deal with.

“But you weren’t.” Remus says. The truth. “That’s what matters. Not what everyone thought. But what you did. Who you are.”

“I’m not much of anything,” Sirius says quietly. He might be right, at the moment. He’s a convict, on the run, and with how things are right now… They’re bleak, to say the least. And yet, Sirius is the one thinking ahead; he’s there for Harry as much as he can anyway, and Dumbledore still trusts him despite everything. 

Remus knows that just listing these things off right now won’t do much for Sirius. He won’t be listening to all of this, not when it all seems so much out of reach. So instead, he takes a familiar route. “Please,” he scoffs with a smile. It does make Sirius look up. “You’re Sirius Black.”

Amazingly, it coaxes a dry laugh out of him. And truth be told, Remus doesn’t care how exactly he did it, as long as he can see his best friend laugh again. 

“I guess I’ll stay here,” Sirius says after a few moments where his laugh got turned into a desperate, but honest, chuckle. He’s brushed Remus’ hand away - not unkindly, but in a way that means he doesn’t need it anymore, not right now. “I’ve got no other option either way, and it’s comfy at least.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Remus nods. “I’m swamped, though, so I propose we look into the other rooms tomorrow.” He could go back to the ratty cottage he’d stayed in, but that never felt right anyway. Staying with Sirius, though, when he’s opting to spend the night in his childhood home? It’s the only logical decision.

Sirius’ eyes grow wide at the realization of what he’s implying, but this time he doesn’t argue. Instead, the smile finally reaches his eyes, too. 

Chapter Text

On the next day, they go further into the building. And the day after, they continue. Not just because this house is insanely huge - a small part of Remus feels a bit reminded of the times they checked out literally every corner of Hogwarts to create the Map, but of course the Blacks’ manor has nothing on a literal castle - but because just like Sirius expected, most rooms are hexed. Some wouldn’t let themselves be opened, others would try to assassinate them as soon as they entered. There’s even a few they have yet to open at all, but with how many they did make free, there might not even be the need to have them all open.

The entire house is still a mess, of course. The house-elf hasn’t cleaned anything ever since Walburga Black died, or so it seems at least, and there’s plenty of things they wouldn’t even be able to cleanse with any spells. Remus doesn’t even want to think about how many magical vermin made their nests in this house.

Generally speaking, though, there’s nothing life-endangering (or even primarily harming in any way) left, as far as they can tell. There’s only so much two men can do. The important thing, though, is that they can tell Dumbledore some good news.

“This isn’t the kind of news you send via owl,” Remus decides once they agreed on that. “You wanna send Kreacher?” The house-elf had crossed their paths every now and then, mumbling insults and slurs to himself, but he hasn’t acted up, which they’d counted as a win. And he had stayed out of the living room the entire time that they had spent in there. Logically, they could have moved into two of the rooms they had cleared, but somehow they came to a silent agreement to stay on the couches.

Sirius shakes his head. “I forbade him to speak of this place, let alone that we’re here. And I don’t wanna make any exceptions, I don’t trust that elf.” Which makes sense, in a way.

Remus wonders whether he should remind Sirius that house-elves can disobey orders if they really want to. But that’s something that Sirius would know anyway, given that he grew up with elves in the house. Besides, he’d rather not put it out in the open. It’s easier to ignore doubts when you keep quiet about them. So he simply nods in agreement. “Patronus, then? I gotta say, haven’t used one for messages in ages.”

“Me neither,” Sirius says with a sarcastic laugh. “You go do it.”

“Me?” Remus repeats, raising an eyebrow. Of course it doesn’t matter who of them tells him, in the end. But this has been Sirius’ idea of being useful, so why wouldn’t he be the one to announce it? It’s his house, too, so if anyone had the right to propose it for the next headquarters, it should be him.

Sirius is silent for a moment, biting his lip. Then he answers quietly, “I can’t conjure one.”

It takes a few seconds for the words to hit. “What?” He remembers it clearly, the time they all learnt the Patronus during their last year at Hogwarts, and how funny it had been that all of the others had gotten their animagi for their patroni, too. And how embarrassed Lily had been when hers was a doe, fitting to James’. They’d already started dating at that point, but that was like a love declaration. He remembers how Sirius had announced to everyone who wanted to listen that no , Remus’ patronus was a dog, too, obviously. Just a large one. What else would it be? That led to a whole other round of rumours, and just like Lily, Remus had started to duck hs head whenever his wolf appeared. 

The thing is: Sirius definitely knows how to conjure a Patronus.

“Remus, I’ve been around dementors for ages,” Sirius says quickly, almost like he’s annoyed. He knows it’s fake. “Of course I can’t conjure one.”

Remus could smack himself. The whole time he had been circling back to how Sirius has lived in total isolation for so long, even considered the impact it must have had on his mental state, but when it’s literally mentioned, he screws that up. It isn’t even so much that he forgot about any of that - neither Sirius’ mental state nor what you need for a Patronus -, of course, but in this moment he didn’t connect the dots.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sirius says with a shake of his head, but his voice is too serious for Remus to believe that. He’s putting on a mask, and the for the moment, he lets him. “What’s important is that one of us can . So if you will.”

Remus simply nods and does as he’s told. That’s probably for the better right now. Still, once it’s done (he’d told Dumbledore all the basics, that Sirius had an idea for a headquarters and that it’s something tied to him by blood, and that they already cleared it, adding that they would meet with him for further information) he can’t help but keep thinking about it. Sirius didn’t forget his memories, did he? Remus knows the feeling that dementors cause, naturally. He knows all of the hopelessness and momentary problems with thinking positively when faced with them, but he blanks on whether long exposure to them also means a longevity of its effects. 

His own history with his patronus has been a journey, too. After all, he’d thought he’d lost all of his best friends on the same day, and that the one he had been closest to had revealed himself to be a murderer. It didn’t just give the majority of his memories a bitter taste, but made him lose hope, too - not so unlike what Sirius must have felt at that time (and for longer). Remus had never been good at making friends, given his secret, and he figured it would only prove itself even more difficult in adulthood. He hadn’t been wrong. But in the past year, at least some things he recalled got their initial feeling back. Just like the memory he always liked to use for the Patronus charm.

It had been in Fifth Year when the other Marauders had finally figured out how to become Animagi. Remus remembers the relief he felt when they showed him, because he could easily tell there was something up ever since they discovered he was a werewolf. Of course, he’d feared their feelings towards him had changed even though James frequently invited him to visit during the summer holidays and Peter continued to copy his DADA homework. Sirius had become more closed off, especially shortly after discovering, and even though that had gone back to normal after a few weeks, too, Remus couldn’t shake off the feeling. Given the family that Sirius belonged to, a hatred for his kind wouldn’t have been so far off. That they became Animagi for him, though, proved him wrong. And when they announced it was Sirius who came up with the idea… It had certainly been the happiest moment in Remus’ life. And it still is, no matter if Peter’s true nature taints the picture or not. Maybe his focus had shifted to Sirius’ role in it more than the others in the past year, but that doesn’t matter. 

It can’t be that the dementors fully robbed him of memories such as these, can it? Remus would have to read up on that. He wasn’t lying when he told Harry that he wasn’t an expert on all things Dementor. 

Before he can think of any adequate words to say to Sirius, he’s stalked off with a grumble about something like, “I’m gonna make some tea.” Remus decides to leave him be for now.

 

-

 

It’s rare to see Dumbledore happy in situations like these, both Remus and Sirius know that. They remember too well what it’s been like the last time, and seeing the concern in their old headmaster’s face certainly didn’t ease the feeling of a deja-vu. But when they showed him around Grimmauld Place like flat-owners showing off what they can offer, he did start to smile. 

And so did Sirius the moment he realized that his plan got accepted. He practically beamed when Dumbledore praised him for the great idea; Remus had to keep himself from laughing about how much he represented his animagus nature in that moment. After all, this was a moment where Sirius could finally prove his real stance and do something for it. He wouldn’t want to ruin it. 

Once Dumbledore left again - important business to tend to, as he said, and neither of them doubted that - Sirius produced a bottle of Firewhiskey that must have been stowed away for years. It might be strong enough by now to have a slight effect on Remus, too. Still, he didn’t argue when it became obvious that Sirius wanted to celebrate that success; he deserved that, in Remus’ opinion.

“You know, I didn’t quite expect this place would turn into a hotel,” Sirius says two glasses deep into the night. “But I can’t claim it doesn’t have a nice sod-off energy to it. Towards this house, of course.”

It’s good that he finds such amusement in Dumbledore’s orders. For a moment there, Remus had feared he’d interpret his idea as mocking. After all, Sirius had envisioned this place as the headquarters more than anything else - not as a youth hostel. But when Dumbledore suggested that the Weasleys move in, Sirius hadn’t complained. It does make sense, Remus reflects, with them being the biggest and best known family of blood traitors out there. Voldemort and his followers would be after them, and there’s only so little they can do to guarantee their safety. Besides, only two of the remaining Weasleys are below age either way, the rest will surely want to join the Order again. Which means they’ll spend a lot of time here anyways.

“Besides, more hands on deck.” Remus nods. Dumbledore had told them to lay off cleansing so that the children would have something to do throughout summer. “I’m not too fond of killing vermin anyway.”

Sirius looks at him. “Not?” He says with fake surprise. “And here I thought you loved that.” 

Remus grimaces and swats at him. There’s been many a time where he has considered dropping their Magical Creatures class, namely when it came to the smallest kinds of beasts. The ones they encountered during DADA were no problems, he could deal with Kappas and Grindylows, but as soon as it came to Doxys, Gnomes and even Bowtruckles and the like, he always froze up. He just didn’t like the small ones that have barely any purpose in life other than to annoy the hell out of wizards. He’s fairly sure there’s a large number of Doxy nests hidden away in this house. 

“You’re an arse,” he informs Sirius and playfully rolls his eyes when the other sticks his tongue out at him. He hadn’t been scared of those beings, per se, just somewhat disgusted, but it still hadn’t been funny when James and Sirius started chasing after him with some of those. He’d found a Bowtruckle living in his pillow a week later still. 

“That’s my third name,” Sirius nods. You can tell he hasn’t had alcohol in a while - and that he has lost weight - because his cheeks have grown red way faster than they used to. “Sirius Orion Arsehole Black,” he says, moving his arm as if he had read it out from a billboard.

“Those last two were the same,” Remus corrects.

“Oi!” But Sirius snickers nonetheless. It’s a good look on him even after all this time. “You’re right, though.”

“Always am.”

Sirius leaves that uncommented and gives him a long look. The grin’s still in place and Remus feels himself unable to keep one off his own face. In the end, Sirius shrugs. “Reckon,” he announces and empties his glass. 

Remus does the same, enjoying the view in front of him. It is good to see Sirius so carefree for once and he’ll be damned if he lets anything happen to that.

 

-

 

Dumbledore arranged for the Weasleys to visit the Place before they started staying permanently; apparently Molly Weasley would like to know what she’s about to deal with. She hasn’t backed down when she heard the place needed cleaning, but rather squared up to the challenge. 

Remus is pretty sure she doesn’t know whose house she’ll be staying in. He hasn’t met Molly in person, but he has taught almost all of her children. And even if he hadn’t heard from her actual children what a fretting mother she could be, then her brothers would have been proof enough for that already. She had frequently checked in on them when they were with the Order, and while that was sweet on one hand, it was at least slightly bothersome on the other. He’s also heard that she’s quite naive, if he trusted what Ron had passed on about her and his predecessor as the DADA teacher, so she will doubt Sirius, of that much he is sure. He can’t blame her, after all it has yet to reach public knowledge that Sirius had been innocent all along.

And with the Ministry hiding other truths as well, it might take a while until they catch up on that.

Either way, the elder Weasleys agreed that it would be wiser to go into hiding - somewhat, at least. Apparently Arthur wouldn’t give up his work, as it would only lead to questions and assumptions. With the early status of this revived Order they can’t really afford any of those. Dumbledore informed them of all that via a Patronus that woke them up by barging into the living room - which they still stayed at (Remus reckons that would have to change soon) - quite early in the morning.

“You’ll be living under one roof with your students again,” Sirius muses once it’s disappeared. “Isn’t that comfy?”

Remus snorts. “That’s not comparable at all,” he tells him. Plus, he isn’t their teacher any more. He can almost imagine how awkward the next few months will be, then. He can barely think of a way he should behave towards them now. 

“What was that like anyways?” Sirius wants to know. “Teaching, I mean.”

Remus lifts his shoulders. “Barely any different than you lot.”

“We never asked you to correct us.” Sirius reminds him at that. And he’s right, of course they didn’t. Except Peter, that is. Both James and Sirius weren’t just proud - not in the pureblood way despite them both being one - they were also skilled. Technically, they didn’t need any corrections on how to pronounce spells or how to move their wands. It always worked well enough as they did. But once Remus found himself perfecting Peter’s spells, he couldn’t keep to himself when he watched the others, too. 

“That’s true,” Remus agrees. He stretches himself and finally gets up. “Come on, let’s grab a cuppa.” They could call Kreacher for that - well, Sirius could - but just like with the cleaning, they’d rather avoid him. Sirius doesn’t seem to be too fond of him either way, and Remus prefers not having to listen to insults this early in the morning. 

He pulls Sirius to his feet and ignores his lazy trot. You would think Remus would have all the reason to be as tired as he tends to be, but Sirius has always been as bad in the mornings. He reckons it must be the spoiled brat still ingrained in him.

Once he’s got an Earl Grey placed in front of him, Sirius gets more talkative than before. And he lets go off the smalltalk. Remus should have expected that as soon as Sirius has propped his chin on the backsides of his hands while looking at him. “So, any students of yours got a crush on you?”

Needless to say, Remus chokes on his drink. “What?” He coughs.

Sirius chuckles. “Come on, you’re telling me you taught besides Binns and Snivellus and think you weren’t the most eligible bachelor around?” He rolls his eyes as if he can’t believe it isn’t obvious.

Remus shakes his head, more to himself than to Sirius. Did students even develop crushes on their professors? He can’t say that he had. He wonders, briefly, if Sirius mentioning it must mean that it had been the truth for him, but the only professor he had ever shown any affection to has been McGonnagall and Remus would rather keep believing that had been jokes all along. Not to mention that in the later years Sirius had only ever shown himself interested in boys. 

He knows that thankfully he had become quite popular amongst his students, but he figured that has been because of his teaching rather than anything else. Which pubescent girl would find herself interested in someone whose hair had greyed before he had even reached his 30s anyway? No, Harry had told him he had been their most competent teacher at that point, which explains the admiration he had faced. 

With a sigh Sirius picks up his mug again. “Well, if you ask me,” he says into his drink, “any childhood spent without having a crush on you is a lost one, mate.”

Remus quickly lifts his tea, too, so that he can hide his blush.

 

-

 

A part of Remus is looking forward to having other people around. He and Sirius have never spent a lot of time with just the two of them, truth be told, but whenever they did, it had been comfortable. They’d sought each other out for studying together - if Sirius had tried to study with James, they would have quickly lost focus and with Peter alone he’d always have ended up being frustrated with him. Remus had quickly discovered that studying with Peter basically just meant explaining his problems to him. And James? Well, let’s say he had quickly caught up on the fact that Remus got along with Lily. Which ruled either of them out as study partners. So, Sirius was left and that was fine because they had about the same understanding of things or could actually help one another. It worked.

He hadn’t minded him being around when he was reading or napping either; Sirius knew when to be quiet and when he could talk - as long as James wasn’t around, that is. And even his chatter was usually quite entertaining. Either he made him genuinely smile or teased him enough to have him join the conversation. It worked and it was nice. Very much so. He could even have deep conversations with Sirius, sometimes he would sneak back into the Hospital wing at night and entertain Remus when he couldn’t sleep from the ache in his joints. They’d discuss the present, the future, politics, their dreams, and everything else.

Lots of things have changed by now, of course, and Sirius’ mood grows somber more easily nowadays. And while Remus tries to understand, or distract, or help, it doesn’t always work. No, he finds himself dragged down quite easily, too. He supposes it could help if there were other faces for them to see, too. 

At the same time, he’s finally talking to Sirius again. Something he had thought to never be possible again. Something he didn’t want to do ever again, for quite some time. He should be basking in this, shouldn’t he? Who else could understand what he’d gone through? Who else could remember the past like he does? (He had tried to bond with Snape when he started teaching at Hogwarts. For one, because he thought childhood grudges wouldn’t last, not with a war burnt into their memories, and then because, besides the professors, he was the only one around who was there for his own Hogwarts years. He’d thought that would count for something. He had been wrong.) 

And he does love the evenings, when he and Sirius are lounging on the couches - sometimes on the same, even - with a glass of Firewhiskey or Muggle wine or Butterbeer or cocoa in their hands - and just talk. It does get melancholy at times, but sometimes it’s more funny than not. It depends on their moods, it happens fluently, and it’s natural.

The last few days, Sirius had been in a good mood. Dumbledore’s agreement to his idea had put him in quite a cheer and Remus could tell that he did look forward to more life in the house as well. 

Tonight, though, something’s off. Remus knows that there doesn’t need anything special to happen for your mood to change. Or for your thoughts to start racing. He is familiar with both of these instances. He’s certain Sirius already knew them back in the day. 

He couldn’t expect him to just blurt heavy words into the blue, however. 

“You know, it’s funny,” Sirius says on random, “You always told me not to underestimate Wormtail.” There’s a bitter laugh bubbling up in his voice at the nickname.

Remus swallows, looking over at him. Sirius is lounging on the armchair tonight, legs stretched out like he’s simply relaxing, but there’s a twist to it that tells Remus there’s more than just regular Butterbeer in his mug. “Sirius--”

“No, I mean-- there I thought I was the clever one with the whole plan and all,” Sirius continues, staring up at the ceiling rather than to face him. “But you were always the smartest of us all.”

“I wasn’t.” Remus answers. They were all smart, not necessarily book-smart, but in their own ways. Even Peter - he had thought so even before that Halloween night - had been gifted with the intelligence of a houseman, as far as they had known. They could all excel in different ways; just because Remus was the most rational thinker of them all, he certainly wasn’t the smartest. “I didn’t figure out the ploy.”

“Couldn’t expect that, could we?” He watches as Sirius raises his mug to his lips. 

Remus takes a drink of his own cocoa. “Right,” he says then. “We couldn’t. You couldn’t expect it, Sirius.”

“Well, I expected someone!” Sirius bursts out. “Just went with the wrong assumption, because that’s just my luck, innit?” 

He doesn’t continue then, even though Remus would let him have this rant. It isn’t the first time he’s started with that topic and he’s certain it won’t be the last either. He’s still not sure how to deal with it. He’s tried the logical path, to talk him through it, but Sirius wouldn’t listen even when he was sober. He certainly wouldn’t now. And fighting about it wouldn’t do good either. No, it would do the opposite. Remus doesn’t want to fight with him.

Neither does Sirius, apparently. He doesn’t urge him to answer and he doesn’t keep talking. Instead, he grows smaller in his chair and keeps drinking as he stares into the fire. Or at the ceiling. The wall. Everywhere but at Remus.

He hates this kind of silence. And he knows that Sirius does, too. But what do you say?

“I-- Why didn’t you ask for help?” Remus finally blurts out. The thought has been scratching at the back of his mind the whole time. “When you escaped. Why didn’t you tell Dumbledore? He would’ve--”

Sirius scoffs. “Like I’d go and chat up one of the mightiest wizards just like that .” It makes sense, given Dumbledore’s rank in the Wizengamot - he’s had every authority to send Sirius back to Azkaban without any further investigation. Once again. But it’s Dumbledore… He’s given Remus another chance, too, believed Harry and his friends fairly easily about the story. “I’d thought of contacting you, actually. Once I heard that you were at Hogwarts, too.”

“Why didn’t you?” The same thought has crossed his mind before, actually. After Remus learnt the truth, after Sirius had explained that he’s been staying up to date with Hogwarts the whole year, Remus had wondered… Why hadn’t he reached out to him? Sirius had known by then, of course, that he wasn’t the spy - what did he do then to not earn his trust?

Sirius gives him a long look. It’s neutral, not like he’s searching for the words but neither like he expects him to figure it out on his own. It’s… like he’s really just taking in his appearance, his stance, and Remus lets him. “I was scared,” he finally admits. Quietly, because it’s rare for him, but it’s out there now.

“Scared?” Remus echoes. “Scared of me?”

An uneasy feeling spread through his body. Sirius has always enjoyed riling him up, teasing him in good nature - and a few times Remus had gotten annoyed, yes, but never so much that he completely freaked out at him. Except, of course, one time, but… no, he’d rather not think about it.

He watches as Sirius bites his lip and he can already imagine that it’ll be bleeding soon. As fashionable as he always has been, cracked lips are not a remainder of his time in Azkaban . He’s always had it split for one reason or another, especially when he feels unsure of what to say. “I-- I thought you’d hate me. I mean, I kind of… I betrayed you , didn’t I? I made them choose Peter over you because--” He trails off.

There’s a lot that could’ve made him think Remus might be the mole, actually. He’s got the best experience at keeping a secret (it’s taken the people he lived with years to figure him out, after all) and even if being a Death Eater was all about purebloods - meaning a werewolf wouldn’t be in the best posititon there - he already lived in a world where he’d faced discrimination. It must have been easy to imagine he could grow bitter eventually. 

“Sirius,” he starts, holding his gaze. “I would have done the same thing.”

And now it’s out there, too. Ever since last year, when he learnt the truth about James’ and Lily’s deaths, it’s circled his mind. He had been sad, angry, and had felt betrayed when he first thought about it. That Sirius, who’s never been close to even think of Peter as more than an acquaintance and annoyance most of the time, would choose him over Remus after everything… It had hurt. But the more he thought about it, the more he’d come to see Sirius’ point of view. And his own: Sirius had become as much of an outcast as he had been; he’d lost his family, a family filled with Voldemort’s supporters. It would have made sense if he had chosen to go back there.

“Yeah, you mentioned.” Sirius recalls. Right, they had admitted to thinking of one of the other as the mole back in the Shack. “How did we end up like that, Moony?”

“It was the worst time.” Remus answers. They were filled with fear, anger and expectations that would never be fulfilled. Of course they couldn’t keep thinking clearly, not when their best friends were in a danger that would hit any day now.

Sirius presses his lips together. “And now it’s the same again,” he mutters and raises his mug to his lips.

“It’s not the same.” Remus shakes his head. He reaches over and puts his hand on Sirius’ where it’s laying on the armchair’s rest. “This time we have… trust. We have us.”

Slowly, Sirius looks down at their hands, taking in the sight. When he looks back up at Remus again, there’s a soft smile playing on his lips. “Yeah,” he says, “I guess we have.”

Chapter Text

The Weasleys stopping by is exactly as chaotic as Remus had expected it to be. Only that, contrary to his expectations, they had left their children at home. It makes sense that they’d want to examine what would probably become their future stay - not home , no - on their own first before exposing their kids to it. Though he can’t quite say if they just don’t want them to hyperfixate on that idea or if they’re scared something might happen. Both are indeed very possible. 

He waits for them at Grimmauld Place - the literal place, not the house -, exactly where he and Sirius had met up a few days ago. It’s the most logical thing, really, but Remus can’t help but smile at the symmetry of it. But unlike him, the two Weasleys arrive via apparition, apparently unaware that Muggles could notice their random appearance. He supposes they don’t worry much about that either way, given that even with their political stance, they are not much around non-wizards.

“Merlin’s beard,” Arthur says, blinking at him. “Lupin, is that you?” They had met briefly, years ago. Truth be told, Remus wouldn’t have thought he’d recognize him.

Lupin?” Molly echoes, her eyes wide when she looks at him. “The professor?” 

So it seems that Dumbledore hadn’t passed on who they’d meet here. That he didn’t tell them about Sirius makes sense, given that the truth has yet to be public and that it certainly isn’t information that you pass along via owl or patronus; they had suspected as much, in fact. It’s the reason why Sirius stayed behind in the living room. That way Remus could slowly introduce them to what will probably turn out to be the new normal.

“Yes, hello,” he says awkwardly. “I-- I’m the… agent Dumbledore should have mentioned. Or whatever he has chosen to call it, really.”

“Blimey,” Arthur lets out, coming up to him with large steps. He’s grabbed Remus’ hand before he could react in any way. “So good to see you, mate! Heard only good things about you, didn’t we, Molly?”

Remus isn’t quite sure whether he forgot about his monthly problem or if it hasn’t reached his ears after all - though how could it not? It must have been a topic amongst his children. One of them had been close to being bloody murdered by him! - but he doesn’t think this is the right time to bring it up. Given the distance that Molly keeps in contrast to her husband, he realizes now, they must know. She doesn’t look too horrified, though, just a little closed off as she gives him a polite smile. It reminds him too much of his own second year in Hogwarts.

“Shall we?” He offers, looking from one of them to the other. He reaches inside his robe, withdrawing a piece of paper. He isn’t really familiar with the Fidelius, but he’s sure there would be other methods to pass on a location besides writing it down that would count. Still, he’s chosen to do it the same way that Sirius had done to ensure he won’t be buggering it up.

Arthur hesitates. Not in a distrustful way, but in one that speaks of actual curiosity. “Say, where did this new property pop up from all of a sudden?” He wants to know.

Molly finally steps up to them, hooking her arm under her husbands. “Now, Arthur, I reckon this isn’t the place for such discussions,” she chides him lightly. Remus can tell that she knows how to keep something under wraps if need be. With a single look she urges him on to continue where Arthur had cut him off. 

Maybe this could work, he thinks.

 

-

 

It’s the highlight of Sirius’ life, according to him. If Remus weren’t aware of the sarcasm in the statement, he thinks there’d be plenty of people who could feel offended by that. Most of all, Harry, really, because the birth of his godson should take up that place, if you ask Remus.

Still, Sirius still finds himself giggling about Molly’s reaction to him in the evening when they’re back on the couch (they share tonight) and discussing the day. Which means that Remus called him out for his behaviour. He’s always known that Sirius enjoys being a tad too dramatic, of course, but he there hasn’t been a single reason to pull an entrance that could rival Dracula’s. He’s fairly sure that either - or maybe both - of their visitors would have hexed him (or worse) if Remus hadn’t stopped them. Not to mention that their sneaking around the portrait was for nothing then when Molly let out a scream. 

That stunt certainly didn’t make it easier to explain the truth. That Ron never explained the way he had lost his rat didn’t help either, but it has probably been for the better if he kept information about a prisoner on the run from a Ministry worker. Harry did gather a clever bunch of friends. 

It did take Remus’ repeated insistence that it’s the truth and Sirius transforming into a dog and back in front of their eyes for them to believe them, but in the end it must have been fruitful. They have dropped their wands and, once again, Arthur seemed more fascinated than anything else. Molly was still careful, holding onto them rather than coming in contact with either of them, but Remus did count it as a win.

Especially when she let her eyes roam and took a mental note of what would have to be done here. She was still jumpy whenever Sirius moved too quickly for her liking, though.

“You scared her,” Remus chides him with a swat. “The opposite of what we wanted.”

Sirius shrugs. “It was funny.” 

He stretches his arms towards the ceiling, making his shirt riles up a little. Even with the new supply of food he gets daily, he’s still too thin for Remus’ liking. He has yet to start wearing something other than jeans and shirts again, but it wouldn’t surprise him if Sirius doesn’t see any need for that. Who knows if he even sees himself as a member of Wizard Society any more.

“It was not,” Remus points out. It’s still fairly early, actually, just about eight in the evening, but he can feel exhaustion in his bones. Looking at the same being displayed in Sirius’ movements, he gathers they just aren’t used to human contact any more. Another reason to look forward to the new residents - Arthur told him they’d have to inform the children, gather their belongings and sort out a few more things, but they should be good to go in ten days. 

Suddenly, there’s a knock on the window. Owls, Remus has always thought, are particularly interesting - how they can find anyone just by their name; and that the Fidelius doesn’t seem to have any effect on them. He hadn’t even known about the latter until now, but when he rises from his seat, there’s one flying in once he’s opened the window. It sinks down on the sill, holding out a leg with a package tied to it.

“That’s a bloody ugly bird,” Sirius says, taking it in. “For you, I assume?”

Remus nods. The few letters that Sirius gets from Harry are always delivered by Hedwig ever since the holidays started, and nobody else would want to be friendly with him, so it’s an easy guess. As he takes the package from the bird, he recognizes the handwriting right away. 

“Present from an admirer, eh?” Sirius teases, rounding him. He takes the package out of Remus’ hands before he can react. And then he recognizes the writing, too. His expression turns sour at that. “I take it back. That better not be an admirer.”

Remus scoffs. “Yeah, I got so many.” He finally says. He takes the package back; Sirius gives it up easily now that he knows from whom it is, almost as if it were contaminated with some disease. 

When Remus starts to open it, though, his hands shoot out again, stopping him. “Wait, are you crazy? That’s probably cursed!”

Remus rolls his eyes. “It’s just Wolfsbane.”

“Even worse! You’re not going to take it, are you? It’s poisoned--”

“It’s not.” Remus declares and finally opens it. “I’ve been taking the poison that Severus brews for two years now and I’m just fine. Dumbledore had ordered him to keep supplying me.” He thinks it was supposed to be an apology about passing on his secret, too, but he doubts that part came from Snape. If anything, he’s probably viewed it as a punishment. Be that as it may, it does work - Remus has had the same doubts that Sirius has, even with a letter from Dumbledore accompanying the first bottle of the potion, but he has also been desperate enough to take it. And he still lives.

Sirius just stares at him like he’s gone crazy. “Severus? Oh, I didn’t know we were friends with him now. Then everything’s just fine, right?”

Remus doesn’t listen to his words, not really. He doesn’t want to focus on that nonsense when there’s something more pressing at hand. How had he lost sight of the days of the month like that? He can be happy that Snape provided it without waiting for a request - he doesn’t even want to imagine what would have happened otherwise. He’s been too caught up in the time with Sirius, in remembering everything but the things that still matter, that he completely forgot about the full moon.

“Shut up,” he says sharply, and Sirius obliges. Without a further comment, he lifts the vial to his lips--

“How exactly does that work?” Sirius cuts in. “With the potion, I mean.” He wouldn’t know, of course, since the potion had only been invented after he got sent to Azkaban, but Remus knows there’s more than just curiosity in his words. There’s doubts, too, the same that he has had himself. They know how strong the wolf is first-hand, it still seems incredible that a potion should keep it in check.

Finally, Remus downs the potion. He can feel Sirius grow tense at that image, but Remus knows better, for once. He’s been taking it for two years by now, it isn’t weird to him anymore. Except for the taste, that is. It’s still the most disgusting thing he has ever had to take.

“It’s still a week till full moon,” Sirius announces with a raised brow when Remus sets the vial aside. 

So he has kept an eye on the moon, then. Good thinking on his side, Remus thinks, even if he’d rather it weren’t needed at all - he doesn’t like to think of anyone scared by his presence. He nods in response. “It has to be taken for seven days straight,” he explains. “If I miss even one day, then…” He grows quiet; there’s no need for words there.

“I thought it was only on the day,” Sirius admits. Of course he would. “But I guess they can’t brew a drink that strong, eh? Even Severus,” he adds bitterly.

Remus rolls his eyes. “Are you mad that I won’t use a childhood nickname? Sirius, we’re adults, for Merlin’s sake.” He smacks his lips a few times, trying to get rid off the taste.

“Why didn’t you tell me about any of that?” Sirius wants to know.

“Adulthood?”

He rolls his eyes. “The potion. It’s important, after all. One would think you’d mentioned it.”

Remus hesitates. Instead of answering at once, he trots back to the couch. At least the upcoming moon explains his fatigue, then. “I… didn’t think about it,” he finally says. “I suppose I was too preoccupied with you.”

Despite the situation, Sirius grins. “As you should be. My one goal in life: the spotlight.” He laughs. “Sad I wasn’t around for most of my fame.”

“That still isn’t funny.” Remus reminds him. It’s obvious that it’s the excitement of action making him so bubbly. And maybe he should be encouraging that feeling because it’s a welcomed change in him, but it had proven itself to be quite… hindering earlier. He changed the topic back. “I’ll be out of your hair in a few days, then.”

Who knows what the presence of a transformed wolf would do to Kreacher or Mrs Black’s portrait, no matter if it’s tamed or not. Besides, there’s something about the idea that makes him feel uneasy - a full moon, with just Padfoot by his side.

Sirius doesn’t share his sentiment. “Nonsense,” he declares. “You’ll be staying, of course. We’ll have a comfy night, just us two dogs.”

Trying to talk seriously - there, he thought it - with him tonight doesn’t seem to be possible, so Remus just hums softly. With the act Sirius has been putting on the whole day he won’t listen to reason in any way, and Remus won’t waste his energy on fighting. He knows better than that.

 

-

 

Remus also knows that once Sirius puts up a fight, he’ll win in one way or another. Either he drives his point across or he annoys the hell out of his opponent; that’s how it has always been. It’s almost good to know that it hasn’t changed, except. Except it’s Remus who loses now.

Sirius doesn’t particularly care about his mother or the house-elf, unlike him, but he didn’t ignore Remus’ concerns either. Maybe he thought Remus considered his transformation something private, like changing his underwear or something like that, because he pointed out that there’s plenty of private rooms around. As if Remus wasn’t aware.

“Unless…” Sirius says during a conversation one morning. Less than twelve hours until the moon starts rising. “Unless you don’t want to be around me.”

Remus chokes on his tea. “What?” He would have thought that the past days have shown plenty that he did not mind Sirius’ presence at all. Even when they’d ended a conversation in a bad way, they didn’t stay away from each other for too long. It’s funny, really, because they can both be a lot, Remus knows that about himself as much as of Sirius, but it felt worse than ever to not have him close. He supposes the isolation of the last years did that to him.

“It’s just-- I don’t know, maybe it’d be weird to have someone around again.” Sirius reasons. “Or just one of us.” He says it in a way that makes Remus wonder how he means it. He cannot remember much of the full moon nights, given that the wolf takes over completely, but he’s certain it must have prefered Padfoot to the others, actually. Wormtail must have been too small for a proper companion and Prongs too big - not too mention the antlers. The wolf probably avoided those as best as possible. And, physiologically speaking, Padfoot was the closest anyway.

“It… would be unusual nowadays,” Remus nods. “And it’s not you--”

It’s me?” Sirius guesses with a laugh. “Are you breaking up with me?” He jokes.

Remus rolls his eyes. “Sirius. I meant-- I don’t know, I can’t quite imagine--”

“What’d be like to spend the night with me again?” 

“Can you stop?” Remus groans. They’d always made fun of the nights, of course, because that had been easier than to face what it actually meant. What actually could have happened. And it certainly isn’t the first time that Sirius aimed an innuendo at him either - he just reacts exactly the same way he has always done. Only now, a chorus of laughter is missing.

“Look, Moony, here’s the deal,” Sirius starts, setting down his cutlery. He looks him directly in the eyes and Remus can’t help but swallow. Even with the time they spent together lately, Sirius had avoided directly looking at him more often than not. He can already tell he won’t be getting out of whatever he’s going to propose. “I’ll stay with you tonight, as Padfoot. And we’ll - okay, bare with me, I’m not joking - we’ll stay in my old bedroom. It’s… well, it’s the only room I could envision you in, really.”

“You picture all your friends in your room?” Remus blurts out, a bit helpless. Since they got here, Sirius has carefully avoided talking about what it’s been like to grow up here. Frankly, he had almost believed there’s no trace of that been left behind. That the old Blacks must have destroyed his room, or made it vanish. Apparently, he had been wrong. 

“Not all of them,” Sirius says with a wink. Remus wants to wipe that stupid grin off his face. “Of course, consent’s important, but I doubt you’ll deny that offer, will you?”

“Can I see your room first?” Remus wants to know. He’s never been there and he’d rather have the first view of it when he’s fully himself. Once Sirius has opened that door - both metaphorically and literally - it most definitely won’t be the only time that he goes in there, but Remus has always been a strong believer in first impressions, funny as that is. 

Sirius keeps still for a moment, eyeing him with a smile still on his lips. Then, he finally nods. “Sure,” he says and gets up at once. He reaches for Remus’  hand and pulls him up. “Come on, then.”

He hadn’t expected for it to happen right away, but Remus follows easily as Sirius  pulls him up stairwell after stairwells and towards a wing of the house that they have avoided so far.

The door he stops in front of looks exactly as any other; dark and beautiful wood, with a label on it declaring whose room it is. He watches as Sirius draws in a deep breath before finally pushing it open.

“Here we are,” he announces when Remus is greeted with a flare of colours. 

Sirius’ room is exactly how he would have pictured it, and at the same time not at all. It’s only slightly untidy, just in the way he remembers from their dorm room, with a few books and clothing lying where they shouldn’t be. The bed is made, the blanket bare of any covers, though. Remus wonders if that’s been his parents’ doing after he had run away. Most surprising, though, are the posters on the walls. Remus isn’t unfamiliar with that act, seeing how he’d done the same during one summer, so it isn’t surprising that there’s barely any wallpaper visible underneath the pictures Sirius has put up. Their content however…

“That’s, um…” Remus starts, not quite sure what to say as he faces the many barely clothed women. At least the majority of the pictures shows motorcycles. There’s been a preference, definitely.

Permanent Sticking Charm,” Sirius says proudly. “Thank Merlin I abandoned those early enough, eh?” It’s vague whether he means the posters or girls in general. 

There’s not much to look at beyond those, actually. Apparently, the Blacks haven’t spoiled their sons per se. There’s no toys or artefacts anywhere, making the room look quite empty when you look closer. Still, Sirius basically starts giving him a tour, pointing out each and every way that he rebelled against his parents. The pictures are a part of that, as are the carvings on the side of his wardrobe, and, as Remus learns now, the lack of covers on the bed. Green didn’t work too well for Sirius, as it seems. 

He beams as he tells Remus about all of that and he can’t keep himself from smiling back. It’s small things, acts that seem only trivial now, but he can tell how big they must have felt to Sirius back then. It’s still in his bones even today, judging by his excitement over showing it off.

“This is a great room, Sirius,” Remus interrupts his rant, and he means it. It truly speaks of Sirius’ nature, even if not everything is exactly accurate.

Sirius stares at him. “You think so?” At Remus’ nod, his grin grows even wider, remarkably. “Great enough to go wild in here?”

Even as he rolls his eyes once again, Remus can’t make his own grin go away. Just like when they were young, Sirius wins yet another argument.

Chapter Text

There isn’t a party when the Weasleys move in, but the first night of their stay comes close to one. For one, Molly insists that she cooks the meal, and now that there’s nine stomachs to fill, it’s worth it at last. Gone are the days of random soups that they could think of, Remus reckons. He can’t say that he will miss it.

According to Ron - who was quick to chat up the two of them, with him being the one who’s known about the truth all along (he got kudos from the twins for being able to ‘keep his mouth shut’ for so long) - she’s needed a distraction from the latest family drama. That doesn’t mean a death, Remus learns with relief, not like in the old days where you had to expect such news on the daily, but a fall-out with Percy. Apparently, moving out of the Burrow had been the last straw for him. As it turns out, the boy is a strong believer in the Ministry.

“Totally nuts, if you ask me,” Ron explained to them over a cup of tea one afternoon. “I’d say he’s under a Confundus, but by Merlin, he’s always been a weird one.”

Sirius let out a barking laugh at that. “There’s always a foul egg among the purebloods, isn’t there?” He declared and shook his head to himself.

There’s definitely more action within the walls nowadays, and it doesn’t limit itself to the kids’ shenanigans or the cleaning they slowly get done. No, it’s almost like the Weasleys leaving their house finally kicks off the Order’s action: More and more people start stopping by, either wanting to check out the new Headquarters or meaning to start scheming their defence plans right away.

There aren’t many that Remus recognizes from the last time; too many have lost their lives there. But he does know some people: McGonagall, who was delighted to see him and looked close to tears - judged by her standard, at least - upon learning the truth about Sirius (he was so surprised by that reaction, he couldn’t even make a cheeky comment), joined this time, as did Kingsley Shacklebolt, whom they remember from their own Hogwarts years. Hagrid was there, of course (Walburga’s screech at his presence was glorious, according to Sirius; Remus wouldn’t have called it such), and Sturgis Podmore, whom Remus hadn’t seen since before Harry’s birth. Thankfully, they had soon found to pass on whose house they would meet at, and explained the story as they saw each other in person; it did shrink the need for any spells to be cast at Sirius, to say the least.

New members, people who were too young during the First War, mostly, also included a fierce witch named Hestia Jones and a young Metamorphmagus named Nymphadora, who insisted she be called by her last name only. After that display of stubbornness, it shouldn’t have surprised Remus to learn that she was related to Sirius; apparently, they had never met before and upon learning about their connection Sirius hadn’t been really sure how to handle her. (It wasn’t too long until he awkwardly started a conversation with, “So… Andy, eh?”, referring to his cousin. Tonks , as she wants to be called, dived into the conversation right away and that was that. Remus likes her energy, and he can tell it’s the same for Sirius.)

It wasn’t too long after the arrival of the Weasley’s that Hermione came by, too, intending to stay permanently - Dumbledore’s order. After Voldemort’s return, was already dangerous enough to be Harry Potter’s best friend, but even worse if you are a Muggleborn at that. She had actually ended up hugging both him and Sirius in greeting and he could tell how much it meant to his friend.

As does the absence of Harry, just in the opposite sense. As the days pass on, Sirius grows more impatient; according to him, it’s unreasonable to leave Harry to himself and his Muggle family down in Little Whinging. Remus can’t say that he doesn’t share the sentiment, no matter the fact that there’s supposedly one wizard watching him all the time on top of Arabella Figg, a Squib who lives in the neighbourhood. It would make more sense if they just got Harry here as well, wouldn’t it? Not only is this place hidden away for the majority of the world, but there’s plenty of adult wizards around who would be equipped to protect him. 

They cannot get ahold of Dumbledore, though. He’s stopped by only a few times during the summer and always disappeared after only a few seconds. Miraculously, owls sent after him returned with the letters they’d given them. Orders, though, Dumledore still passed on. 

Such as the one that forbade Sirius to leave the house, period. Not that there was much of that anyways, but every now and then they had gone out. Sirius had always been in his animagus form, close enough to Remus to not raise any attention, but according to Dumbledore that had been too dangerous, too. Even before a week passed Remus could tell this would drive Sirius crazy in the end. 

The only thing he could do, really, was to stay in, as well. He would have hated the idea of Sirius feeling imprisoned once again - though, basically it is the same thing all over; he can’t leave a place that makes him feel miserable, and that realization broke Remus’ heart - and even though the people walking in and out of Grimmauld Place should provide a distraction, he knows how easily he could feel isolated again. No, it’s better someone he has an actual connection to stayed around, too, Remus reckons.

 

-

 

It’s become quite common for the Order members to stop by unannounced. It wasn’t a problem, really, because Molly was always prepared to feed some extra mouths, and the only people who could come in at random are the ones who should be allowed to. It would have been too much of a fuss to greet every single one of them, too, if you asked Remus.

Of course, it always was a little weird when it was someone who arrived for the first time, but after quick introductions and explanations that subsided, too. Usually the people were acquaintances - if not friends - of other members who would have given them something to display their credibility. It was a system that worked surprisingly well.

“Blimey!” He heard Fred Weasley exclaim one day. They had given him the task to clean out the entrance hall because even while Mrs Black recognized them as blood traitors right away, the twins were gifted in talking her into silence, twisting her words until she lost track of them herself. It was entertaining, to say the least. “Professor Snape?”

Remus had only wanted to steal a snack for Buckbeak (whom he and Sirius had brought in during their first week here; Hippogriffs are wild animals, of course, but all his time at Sirius’ side has tamed him somewhat. Besides, they figured Hagrid would be delighted to see him alive and kicking) but he guesses he can forget about that now. If he is honest to himself, hearing that Snape is here made him freeze in his movements. He’s heard about the change in his nature, of course, testified for by Dumbledore when he had asked him about it during his year as a teacher, but it didn’t change the fact that Snape was a former Death Eater. Anyone who knows about that would feel uneasy knowing him here.

He can’t quite make out what Snape’s response is, but judging by the tone it wasn’t too friendly. Remus knows about his dislike for all Gryffindors, of course, especially the Weasleys, so that isn’t too surprising. 

At least Mrs Black also started fretting about Snape’s presence, too. 

Remus steps into the hall, telling Fred with a look to take care of the portrait while he would do the same with Snape. “Severus,” he says in greeting. “Why don’t I show you in?”

Predictably, Snape’s eyes grow smaller. “Lupin,” he says sharply. “Should have known you were here.” Remus can’t quite say why, but somehow it feels like a jab. Still, Snape follows him out of the hall, sending a curious look at Mrs. Black’s portrait as they pass it. Once they entered the living room, he lets his eyes roam every little detail in there. “So this is how Black grew up.”

“Nobody has been in this house for a decade,” Remus says, finding himself weirdly defensive of the space. He doesn’t exactly appreciate it; it’s too dark and old-fashioned for his personal taste, but it does do for the purposes they intended for it. Besides, Snape’s words sound like the insult is aimed more at Sirius specifically rather than the house or even his family. He can’t claim that it surprises him. 

Snape doesn’t answer, just keeps looking around for a few moments. There’s noises from everywhere in the house, something that has been weird at first, after weeks in silence, but is welcomed now. People working and chatting, planning and living . It’s reassuring, to say the least. 

Remus doesn’t quite know how to proceed. Usually the people ask questions, or demand a tour, introduce themselves, things like that. Snape, however, remains stiff and silent across from him. There’s no need for introductions and Remus is certain he wouldn’t be interested in seeing more of the house than he needs to. Frankly, he doesn’t even know if he wants Snape to step further into the manor.

Sirius makes all his thinking useless either way. “Moony?” His voice calls through the stairwell. There’s audible steps echoing through it as he trots down. “Merlin’s beard, one’d think it isn’t that difficult to find a piece of-- Oh,” he finishes as he arrives in the living room. 

Admittedly, Remus still finds it curious that Snape’s glare can grow even colder, but that’s what happens as it finds Sirius. Naturally, he must have expected to find him here, but it doesn’t mean he has planned to hide his dislike in any way, Remus can tell. 

“Ah, Black,” Snape says slowly, letting his mouth curl into a dangerous smile. “Back home, I see.”

“Snape.” Sirius’ voice is equally cold as he crosses his arms in front of his chest. “Attempted to murder anyone lately?”

“Can’t say that I have,” Snape shakes his head. Remus doesn’t know if the bemused expression is on purpose or not. “You?”

“Oh, same as you,” Sirius says with a small and sarcastic laugh. “Has been a year since the last time.”

Remus can practically feel the tension in the air as they stare at one another, and he can’t quite tell if there isn’t any magic in there, too. In a swift motion he steps forward, placing himself between the two of them; it would keep at least one of them in check, he reckons. “We’re all on the same side now,” he says pointedly, looking at Sirius first - he’s met with a roll of his eyes - and then Snape. There he adds, “Isn’t that so?” 

It’s meant as a challenge and it is apparent that Snape understands it as such, too. Of course they won’t ever become best friends, the three of them, but there’s a certain amount of decency necessary to collaborate. And winning - hopefully even preventing - a war surely should be motivation enough. Snape straightens his shoulders and sends another hateful glance Sirius’ way before focussing on Remus. “I’m actually here on order,” he announces and reaches into his robe. “Dumbledore wanted you to have this,” he adds as he holds out the piece of paper towards him.

“And why would he send you with that?” Sirius wants to know. It’s a reasonable question, Remus has to admit, given that Dumbledore could easily come here himself or send a Patronus. In fact, come to think of it, they haven’t heard directly from the headmaster in quite some time. Given that they’re now on the same side, as he has pointed out himself, Remus shouldn’t feel as queasy as he does about Snape being close to Dumbledore like that, but he can’t help it.

But rather than voicing any of that, he opens the letter. After all, he had been the one rooting for peace just now; it wouldn’t do to question him in front of Sirius. They already argue enough as it is. It’s hard to blend out their voices as he skims through the lines. His heart sinks a little when he folds it closed and looks back up at Snape. “Thank you,” he declares through a clogged throat. “Tell Dumbledore I’ll take care of it.”

Even though his voice is quiet, they stop their conversation at once and look at him.

“What--” Sirius starts.

Snape nods. “Good. Thankfully this was my only reason for actually coming here,” he says then. “You will be delighted to hear that I’ll be leaving your little love-nest again.”

Sirius ignores the sarcastic tone of his words and answers, “Wouldn’t mind if you never came back.” He could have claimed he was mumbling to himself if someone asked, but it was just loud enough that Snape would be able to hear.

He just gets a scoff in return before Snape turns around and struts back into the entrance hall.

“Git,” Sirius declares, scrunching up his nose as he looks at the door. “So, he thinks he’s important now just because Dumbledore uses him rather than an owl?”

“Sirius.” Remus chides. There’s really no need to continue with any of this when Snape’s already gone. 

“What’s that note say, then?” Sirius wants to know. He reaches out for it, but Remus pulls away. “Another praise for what a good job we do here, us housemaids?” He chuckles lightly, hiding his distress at the fact that Remus won’t show him the letter.

“He wants me to leave,” Remus tells him. 

Sirius frowns. “What? Why’d he--”

“Apparently there’s many members who can’t be reached via owl - or Patroni, for that matter.” Remus explains. There’s not many reasons for either of that to happen and it’s quite concerning to learn of those. The most logical one would be death and considering that many people haven’t been seen since the First War… “He’d like me to visit their last known locations. To ensure…”

“That they are dead?” Sirius finishes. There’s fury mixed into his voice, as if it were an offense that he’s asked to do something like that. Someone needs to get them certainty, he knows that. “Why’d he send you? If he trusts Snape so much, for whatever reason, why not send him?”

Dumbledore hasn’t written any reasoning into the letter; in fact, it’s kept rather short, not many words other than the names and addresses he’s supposed to check out. But Remus can already imagine why: Almost all of the Order members have proper jobs which means they cannot afford to apparate from one place to another just like that. And it doesn’t just boil down to visiting the places. He’s supposed to search for the absent people if he doesn’t find their bodies and scout for new members in the process. It’s nothing but converting them to join the cause. In short: He’s the only person who can move freely and can stay in any place for as long as he needs, nobody would miss him. 

“I’m not bound,” Remus answers, cutting it short. Somehow the words taste bitter.

They don’t sit well with Sirius either, he can tell. Even without him replying anything, his eyes say enough. There’s not just anger in them like before, but something else, too… Something that resembles the feeling inside Remus’ chest, something that puts his sadness on full display. He knows that it’s work that needs to be done, and he knows that it makes sense for him to be the one who goes on that journey, still he can’t ignore the fact that he’ll be leaving Sirius alone . To a house filled with people, but those are strangers. He’ll be left without any friends, once again.

“Padfoot, I’m coming back,” Remus says earnestly. “I promise.”

But the words don’t seem to click just yet. The same expression, the same worry and fear, stays in its place on Sirius’ face. His eyes are wide as they look down at the ground and he bites his lip. 

“You want me to take an Unbreakable Vow?” Remus proposes and places his hand on Sirius’ shoulder. Finally his friend’s eyes snap up in surprise. “Because my death is the only thing that could keep me from coming back to you.” He isn’t exaggerating; he means it, and not just for Sirius’ sake but his own as well. It wouldn’t be just Sirius left without any of his friends, but the same would go for him. In this world, they only have each other left.

As vulnerable as Sirius look, he’s still holding himself back, Remus realizes now. In a second, the last bit of countenance vanishes from his face, too, and then Sirius buries his face against Remus’ face. It’s the first embrace they share since last June and miraculously, it feels even more desperate. Back then, it was a greeting, a joyful feeling singing of past years spent in loneliness, not it’s the polar opposite.

Remus didn’t expect it, to say the least. It takes a few seconds before he lifts his arms and returns the hug, holding onto Sirius’ shoulders for as long as he can. “I’m coming back,” he says again.

“You better,” Sirius mumbles.

Remus presses a kiss into his hair before he can stop himself. Yes, he thinks, he better.

Chapter Text

Remus returns to Grimmauld Place finding it ablaze. Well, not literally, but it’s close enough. During his absence - which he has limited to a week only, which was more than enough time to scout the northern areas of Scotland, at least (he found Cromarty particularly lovely, thinking it would be a nice place to vacate at, if not live) - he hasn’t received any letters. That wasn’t an order by Dumbledore, but his. It wouldn’t do if he found scared fighters hidden away and overwhelmed them not only with his presence but also an influx of owls. Truth be told, Remus hadn’t thought much could happen during seven days. And, he figured, if something too serious happened, they would be wise enough to disobey his no-contact-order.

When he returns to a fretting, mad and horrified Sirius and an equally angry Molly Weasley, he almost expects the worst. It takes Arthur to explain it to him, since there’s no sign of anyone else anywhere on the ground floor. He’d learn later that with the increasing Order meetings, the children have quickly been banned to literally everywhere else, an order that has had to be extended to all times so that it would stick eventually. 

Sirius doesn’t even take notice of him, as it seems. Instead, he just keeps ranting off about missing surveillance and the like. Needless to say, Remus is quite struck until Arthur pulls him aside.

“It’s Harry,” he says lowly. It must be visible how Remus’ hard drops because he quickly adds, “He’s alright, don’t worry. He’s just-- well, he’s had to fight off some dementors. Learnt the Patronus from you, I heard, eh? Marvellous…”

“What? Dementors? Where is he?” Last he heard, all dementors have been back in Azkaban where they belong, Dumbledore had made sure of that after the disastrous attack on Harry, Sirius and Hermione a year ago.

“As I said, he’s fine,” Arthur repeats. He actually holds onto him as if he fears Remus might be about to hurry off right away. “He fought them off, indeed, two of them when they cornered him and a Muggle. He’s back home now, Dumbledore’s orders.”

Remus’ mind spins, piling question upon question. Home - he must mean Little Whinging then. What would dementors do in Little Whinging? And even so, they don’t seek out wizards in particular, they go for any human being; what a coincidence must it be that they stumble upon Harry? It did force him to do magic out of Hogwarts, which is already troubling enough in itself. And in front of a Muggle? It could have been done away easily, of course, but with how the Ministry thinks of him lately… He has a bad feeling. 

Arthur fills him in on more, particularly how they’re going to proceed with Harry. Learning that Dumbledore has a plan calms him down right away, even if it’s still concerning that dementors would find their way to Surrey just like that. It’s good to hear that they managed to get a court hearing at least, even if the result can’t be guaranteed.

“We’ll be getting him here, of course,” Arthur continues. “A group of people has already volunteered to pick him up. Since his safety isn’t guaranteed at home anymore…” 

Remus nods grimly. He won’t point out that he and Sirius had been thinking like that all along, that wouldn’t do any good now. And he can imagine that it’s precisely what Sirius is spewing about right now. “I’ll join that,” he decides. He doesn’t care when they’ll start, even if he’s just come back from a trip, he’d go to Little Whinging without taking a break. He doesn’t want Harry to be setting off with a bunch of strangers after such an event.

Arthur doesn’t argue with him. “Alright. They’re setting off tomorrow, so you’ll get some rest.”

Tomorrow?” He repeats. “Shouldn’t they--”

“Dumbledore’s orders.” Arthur declares. “The attack has been a few days ago. And before you start, we’re all worried at how long it takes, but there are matters to be discussed and things to be arranged and--” He trails off, at a loss of words. “Harry’s a clever boy, Remus, he won’t make trouble.”

The problem is, Remus thinks, it’s not like Harry ever makes trouble. It’s like he’s a magnet for it, somehow. He can only hope he manages to keep it away for so long. 

Once they settled that, they get back into the living room. If that attack has been days ago, then Remus has to give Molly one thing for sure: She’s exactly as stubborn as Sirius is. Not many people can claim that. They’re still arguing now, their conversation running in circles as it seems, and it isn’t even so much that they’re contradicting each other. They agree and motivate the other to continue.

They only stop when Arthur manhandles Molly out of the room. Now Sirius realizes that Remus is there, too.

“Merlin, Sirius,” he laughs at the fazed look in Sirius’ eyes. “Have you spent the last days only talking or did you hydrate, too?”

“Moony!” Sirius jumps up from the couch, grabbing Remus’ arm. “You know what happened? Harry got attacked! Just like we’d thought would happen. He wasn’t safe and--”

Remus curls his hand around Sirius’, slowly taking it off his arm. “I know, Arthur told me. He also told me that Harry is alright--”

“There shouldn’t be any doubt about that in the first place!” Sirius starts again. He’s so aggravated, he’s spitting at Remus as he talks. “If Dumbledore - or anyone, really - had listened--”

“I know,” Remus cuts in. “I know, but he’s alright. It’s lucky that it’s been Dementors only, given how spectacular Harry’s Patronus is-- Of course,” he adds when Sirius opens his mouth, “there shouldn’t have been any need for that, I know. But it happened and now we’re dealing with it.”

His words have some effect on Sirius, apparently, because he just presses his lips together as he looks at him. Honestly, Remus wouldn’t have expected talking to do the trick but Sirius has always been good for a surprise.

“Could anyone even tell you about that yet? Harry’s gonna spend the rest of his summer here, alright?” He goes on. “I’ll pick him up with the others.”

The relief is visible in Sirius’ face. Remus can’t tell if it’s learning about that rescue mission in general or if it’s about him joining, but he’s glad to see it either way. Maybe the tirade will stop now. 

“I’ll bring Harry here,” he promises. It sounds more like, I’ll bring Harry home.

Sirius nods. “Good. Merlin, you never have a calm minute with that lad, do you?” He says with a sigh. 

Remus finally lets go off him, taking a step back. He really did it! He’s found a way to calm Sirius down for once; something he’d never thought to see himself doing. “He’s James’ son,” he points out with a smile.

“That he is.” Sirius can’t hide a grin either. That seems to be enough of the topic then. As if Remus’ involvement in the story was enough to eradicate all his worries. Instead of going on about it, he sinks back on the couch, stretching an arm out on the rest and looking up at him. “So, how was the trip?”

Remus laughs despite himself.

 

-

 

During his year teaching Harry, Remus has learnt to look beyond the exterior. H’s unmistakably James’ son, of course, with the same tan to his skin, the same dark and unruly hair and the big glasses perched on his nose, and even the gushing he’s heard about Harry’s talents as a Quidditch player have added up to that perception. But just as he’s James’, he’s also Lily’s. It’s visible in the eyes, but if you pay attention, you can see the same fight, the same kindness and ruthlessness in his behaviour, too. 

As he watches him reunite with Sirius, however, it’s easy to forget that James has been gone for so long. Harry must have grown quite a bit since Remus last saw him, because he can’t quite imagine he’d fitted so perfectly into Sirius’ frame before. Desperation speaks of both of them as they hug and Remus turns away; he’s been a witness to many private moments in Sirius’ life, to say the least, but he’d rather give him this one.

Harry is furious and helpless, Remus would have been able to tell even if he hadn’t had that anger attack while the adults were stuck in a meeting (one that Sirius only accepted to join when they displayed it would be about ensuring Harry’s consistent safety). It’s visible in the way his jaw clenches even as he lets Sirius check up on him. It’s understandable, really, given that they had all been ordered not to answer any of his messages - or be the ones to start a conversation. Harry has been left in total isolation for the whole summer as well, and it ended with him and his cousin being attacked on the open street. And even now, he isn’t getting any explanations, and them not knowing either is only half the reason for that.

They do end up telling him a little eventually, though it doesn’t suffice for either Harry or Sirius. There’s been a lot of arguing involved, about whether Harry should really know all of this, and Remus has had to agree with Molly in the end. He is a boy, after all, one that shouldn’t have to burden any of this. He’s already gone through enough as it is, they should be keeping him out of any more. Sirius’ insistence at keeping him in the loop makes Remus wonder whether he truly manages to look beyond the outer appearance. He can’t be forgetting that this isn’t James, can he? No, it’s not like Sirius is crazy, it’s just… wishful thinking. Remus can’t claim that he doesn’t know that too well.

And he’s glad that the two of them have clicked right away, really. That Sirius can fill the hole in Harry’s life in regards to his parents and that it’s the same the other way around. Even with the sparse interactions they’ve had, it’s easy to see how much they’ve come to mean to one another, and it warms Remus’ heart. And at the same time it pains him. 

The fact that Sirius’ still longs for James, in a way that can never be fixed. Of course Remus misses him still - how could he not - but it doesn’t do to not let go, he knows that. He’s learnt and lived it for the past 14 years. It had been hard to not sink back into that hole when he first met Harry, so he understands Sirius, really, and a part of him regrets the way that he has been introduced to Harry. He shouldn’t have been his professor before declaring he knew his parents. No, just like Sirius he should be viewed as a friend, as family, as an uncle

He shoves that jealousy away as well as he can because he knows it would only ruin things. Not just for him, but it would make Sirius doubt everything he does, and that’s not something that he deserves. And when it’s just the three of them ending up together for a cup of tea, it’s almost easy to forget about it as a whole. It feels almost like this is what it should have been like after James’ and Lily’s deaths: him and Sirius and Harry.

 

-

 

Harry’s hearing is messy and sabotaged, but it works out perfectly anyway. Even if Harry hadn’t told them about it, Remus would have gathered that it’s been Dumbledore’s doing. The Ministry is too far gone to listen to reason any more, that much is clear. They don’t argue when the Weasley kids decide to host a party.

Something’s bothering Harry, though, that much he can tell. Filling two mugs with butterbeer, he approaches him; the others haven’t even noticed him disappearing into the background of a party hosted for him. Remus can tell they’ve been desperate for just about any positive thing to cling to. “Told you they don’t mind kids defending their lives,” he says as he leans against the wall next to Harry.

He’s met with a small and tired smile. “You did, yeah.” He answers, looking down at the drink as he accepts it. It isn’t too difficult to tell Harry’s not quite certain how to talk to him now that they don’t have an official status to one another.

Truth be told, it’s very much the same for Remus, too, so he decides to just go ahead. “Something’s on your mind,” he guesses. “What’s wrong?” 

Harry gives him a long look, one that starts with a heaviness to it that could question how he doesn’t understands that everything is wrong, obviously, and ends with a hesitation. Either he doesn’t know how to say it or he doesn’t want to. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to tell him, Remus realizes a bit late. But then, finally, Harry admits, “It’s… Dumbledore-- he’s been weird. Earlier, I mean.”

And then, just like that, he starts to talk. It’s obvious that Harry’s meant to tell just about someone about what has been going on in his mind - someone who could give him advice in return. Or maybe even help. Something that his friends, who are in the same position as him, after all, wouldn’t be able to. It could be entirely possible that Remus hadn't been all too wrong in asking him about it. Harry tells him about the way Dumbledore seems to have ignored him in the courtroom even as he proceeded with defending him. There’s hurt dripping from Harry’s voice as he quietly tells him how Dumbledore wouldn’t even look at him.

It is a little off-putting, Remus has to admit, but then again Dumbledore has always been an odd person. There are many layers to the things he does and they’re barely ever transparent to anyone. “Dumbledore is… busy,” Remus offers. “I’m sure he’s had things to tend to; couldn’t be held up for any longer, I assume.”

Harry doesn’t seem particularly happy with that answer - and neither is Remus, he has to admit - but he doesn’t argue with him. Instead, he resumes to taking a sip of his drink, watching the others. 

Remus does the same as he is not sure how to continue the conversation. And maybe there’s no need for that either because it’s not like it’s bad or awkward standing there like this. In fact, it kind of reminds him of the old times, too. He’s never been a fan of being in the middle of a party, so he had just ended up watching them, usually. In those moments, Lily had always sought him out; not for a conversation either, but just to stand with him.

 

-

 

Having Harry around certainly helps Sirius’ mood, Remus can tell. His mood swings didn’t disappear fully but they did postpone themselves towards the evenings, when it’s only the two of them and there’s no distractions left. But even then they don’t sound too hopeless, actually. There’s a talk about the future, as uncertain and dangerous as it may be. Sirius ends up planning more than sulking now, and Remus is thankful for that.

That is why he doesn’t think too hard about the next Full Moon. In fact, he doesn’t bring it up at all, not wanting to ruin Sirius’ rather good mood. Which doesn’t mean he is naive enough to think that he wouldn’t notice - even with the distractions of the Order, the cleaning and Harry, they’re still each other’s fixed points of the day. 

Sirius has learnt about the Wolfsbane potion last month; he had listened to the few explanations that Remus could offer and stored them away in his brain with more intensity than he usually brings up for anything. He’s even demanded to know what exactly is in the potion and wouldn’t listen when Remus immediately said the ingredients were too expensive. Money doesn’t matter to the heir of the Black fortune, naturally, but that still doesn’t mean that either of them got any better at Potions than they’ve ever been. No, he’s still had Snape brew it for him.

Remus doesn’t know if it’s been curiosity or maybe distrust - towards Snape, not him - but Sirius has taken it upon himself to watch him closely whenever he downed the vials in the evenings. And just like last month, he does it this week, too. Sirius is as aware of the moon cycle as he is.

So when Remus stands in his room the night before Full Moon and packs his suitcase, it is no surprise that he’d notice. After last month, they had initially ended up sleeping in Sirius’ room on normal nights, too. It had been easy enough for him to stay there to rest the day after his transformation anyways and then, well, it just happened. Sirius’ bed was big enough for the both of them to sleep comfortably and since they didn’t clean off any other bedrooms yet, it was the most logical thing. Once the Weasleys arrived, however, Remus had moved into one of the guest rooms. They didn’t talk about it, but he’s reckoned it would just raise questions about their mental states if anyone learnt two grown men shared a room. 

“What are you doing?” Sirius wants to know.

Remus isn’t exactly surprised that he appears in the doorway, even if he has become rather quiet in his motions. Back in Hogwarts, Sirius would always be loud and stomping wherever he went, announcing his entrance to people who couldn’t even see him yet. Azkaban and being on the run have changed him, now he’s sly as a cat (and wouldn’t that comparison offend him if Remus were to say it out loud). He doesn’t stop in his motions but Accios a book into his hands. “Packing.”

“I can see that.” Sirius nods, pushing himself off the doorway and stepping closer. “I just can’t think of a reason why. Dumbledore hasn’t given you another assignment, has he? Full Moon is approaching, so there’s no way you’ll be fit for a mission.”

“I know, Pads,” Remus sighs. He wouldn’t have been drinking Wolfsbane for the past few days if he didn’t need to. He checks if the bookmark is in place and sets the novel down into his suitcase.

“So…” Sirius prompts, tapping his fingers against the bed frame.

Remus doesn’t look up at him. He doesn’t know what it would do exactly, but he fears something might happen if he looked into Sirius’ eyes. “I’m not spending Full Moon here.”

“‘Course you are,” Sirius answers. He doesn’t act dumb, but he won’t accept Remus’ choice either. It’s how he’s always been.

“Sirius,” Remus says, shaking his head as he talks. “This is supposed to be as much of a safe house as it can be, which it wouldn’t--”

“You’ve been taking the potion, I’ve watched it. So there’s no way you’d lose control, and either way, we’ll be up in my room, like last time, and everything will be fine,” Sirius interrupts. “It’s as safe as can be; it worked out fine last month and I don’t see why you’d think it won’t be okay.”

Remus hesitates. He’s right, of course he is right. Ever since he’s tried out the Wolfsbane potion, ever since Dumbledore had Severus make it for him, his transformations have become… almost tolerable, really. His joints still hurt and he’s still worn out, of course, but he doesn’t go completely rampant. He doesn’t lose his self, most importantly. He’s felt himself wonder from time to time if that’s what it feels like to be an Animagus. And yet… “They don’t feel safe.”

“What? Who?” Sirius asks in an instant. He doesn’t just look surprised, but determined as well. Like he’ll hex about just anyone who’d consider even thinking like this. 

“I-- I overheard Molly and Arthur talking, alright? And I get her, because there’s so much that could go wrong--” He just needs to forget the potion one evening and then he’d lose complete control. How easy had it been last year to fuck it all up? He doesn’t even want to imagine what it would be like inside closed walls.

Sirius’ face grows dark at that. “Oh, Molly!” He scoffs. Of course, the two of them don’t look eye to eye when it comes to Harry, so he’s not too fond of her in general. “She’s scared of me, too, you know? Even with Dumbledore explaining the whole story, she’ll still be looking at me like I could murder her kids any second. Come to think, I don’t think she’ll ever--”

“She’s right,” Remus says hollowly, “About me, I mean.”

“She’s not,” Sirius counters in such a  tone that Remus would expect him to stomp his foot any second now. “She’s just stubborn and uneducated and--”

“Scared,” Remus finishes. “And that’s fine. Werewolves are dangerous, we both know this, Sirius. So I’ll just… stay away for a few nights. Really, it’ll be just like I’m gone for some Order business.”

“Except it isn’t,” Sirius grumbles. “You’re gonna be alone during one of your worst times, again, when we just found a solution that’s good for everyone--”

“Not everyone, obviously,” Remus points out. It obviously isn’t good for Molly if she keeps worrying about it. And honestly, it isn’t much of a big deal. He stays away from Grimmauld Place often enough. It’s not like it’s his home. “It’s not like I’m not used to it.”

“You shouldn’t be!” It’s louder than Sirius has been in weeks. Remus can’t help but flinch a little, taken by surprise. “I-- sorry. It’s just… I don’t even wanna imagine what these past moons have been for you and-- now you’re going back to that?”

He hadn’t even looked at it that way. That there could have been a change ahead. That there could have been a future where he wouldn’t have to spend each Full Moon on his own, but with someone by his side. He’s made his peace with being stuck with everything on his own so long ago, he hadn’t even realized what’s actually been going on right now. That Sirius’ presence could be a constant. Has he really isolated himself so much that it didn’t even occur to him? He can’t tell Sirius all that, he’d just take it the wrong way. So instead, he laughs a little. “You spent years inside Azkaban without any hope and you feel sorry for me?”

He might have hit a point, he realizes then. Sirius lets his arms fall and the same happens to his face. “I’ll come with you.”

“Bloody hell, you won’t.”

“Remus--”

“No. It’s too dangerous. Dumbledore said you should stay here.” Remus shakes his head. “Come on, it’s fine, I tell you. And I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Promise?” Comes the weak answer. 

“I solemnly swear.”

Sirius pulls a face. “You’re a wanker,” he decides, throwing a pair of socks at Remus’ head.

Chapter Text

Harry’s return to Hogwarts is both a blessing and a curse, in Remus’ opinion. On one hand it means he’s right under Dumbledore’s nose, meaning he’s as safe as can be. Even here at Grimmauld Place with so many capable wizards around he hasn’t been as secure as he is in the castle. Because even all of them together cannot compete with Dumbledore; and moreover, Voldemort fears him. He’d never dare to attack Hogwarts for as long as Dumbledore lives, of that he is sure. The worry about Harry’s safety is taken off their shoulders that way, even if the Ministry has started to infiltrate the school. Even before they got any letters telling them about Umbridge and her morbid teaching methods, they’ve heard McGonnagall’s doubt about her - it’s only gotten worse when they understood this is one of the witches present for Harry’s hearing a month ago. 

It causes Sirius to start giving speeches again. 

“This… this witch,” he started off so pointedly one afternoon that Remus couldn’t help but think he meant a word close to that one, “would’ve liked to send him to Azkaban for defending his life! And they let her around children?” 

Remus let out a heavy sigh in response. He could relate to Sirius’ anger in that part, of course he could, but it was not like she had got any real say there. “It was a condition they had to take, Sirius,” he reminded him in response. Even if she hadn’t presented herself in such ways to Harry himself, he would have had enough reason to dislike her. After all, Umbridge had been the one to come up with most of the Anti-Werewolf Legislation. She was the very reason he’s had to live like he had in the past year. 

Sirius knows about his personal dislike for her, and he shares it, which makes him forget even more about all logic. Whenever he starts nowadays, Remus just lets him continue. He knows that arguing wouldn’t do anything and, frankly, it tires him to no end. 

He knows that the main reason for Sirius’ bad mood is boredom, mostly. If there aren’t any Order meetings, the house is pretty much empty, safe for the two of them and Molly, usually, which means they’re back to square one. And with Remus still leaving and searching for new members from time to time, it must be even worse than during the summer. 

When they were fresh out of Hogwarts, it’s been the same thing. With both of them left completely broke, they had to take what James gave them (who insisted they take it. Apparently Fleamont would’ve changed his will to leave some of his fortune to Sirius anyways, if he hadn’t forgotten about it, and James kept pointing out that Remus was his brother, too, so it only made sense, according to him). It had made the most sense that they ended up sharing a flat, then. If Remus is true to himself, he’d never have had it any other way. Whenever he’s dared to imagine his future, the Marauders were there, closest of all Padfoot. Now they’re back to square one, but instead of a flat filled to the brim they’re now stuck in an empty manor. 

Remus does feel a bit like he’s been taken back in time, actually. Not just the circumstances, but Sirius’ behaviour, too, reminds him of how it used to be. He’s always had his lower points, but as the stress and waiting continued years ago, Sirius’ mood grew fouler and fouler. And now it does the same. When they were younger, it was waiting for an attack. Now, they’re waiting for something. Remus is certain the environment does not help.

Sirius is always better when Remus just returned from wherever Dumbledore has sent him, but almost as if he has to realize time and time again that Remus can’t speed life up, that he has no effect on something happening, he grows grumpy within a few days again. No matter what Remus does, whether he stays around or not, it doesn’t help with Sirius’ mood in any way. 

Needless to say, it frustrates Remus to no end. If he just knew how, he’d do everything he could to change it. But as it is, there’s no helping him. Instead he continues on, leaving for days at a time - and he can tell how little Sirius likes that - and when he comes back, they start to snap at each other quickly. It feels too much like the last time.

He quickly shoves away that thought whenever it comes up. It is not like the last time, after all. Even if it feels as if everything was repeating itself, there’s a certainty in Remus whenever he comes back to Grimmauld Place instead of the doubt that lived in his chest all those years ago. Now he knows that he and Sirius on the same side, and that should suffice.  

They cling to the news; both what The Daily Prophet publishes - lies over lies, trying to hide the truth about Voldemort’s return and Remus has to work hard to stay calm. It’s just so stupid that they just won’t tell the truth, won’t give the people information needed to stay safe - and what Harry tells them about Hogwarts. As it is, they can’t change anything about either of those, but it does offer a change. They’re informed on several ends and that, Remus thinks, gives Sirius at least a bit of a purpose - or a sense of such, at least. 

When the news came through that people broke out of Azkaban and Sirius was awarded, he had alternated in laughing like he’d grown mad and hiding himself in his room, not wanting to see anyone. Remus had let him be for most of that and when he’d calmed down, he had thrown himself into a rant about how insane it was to even consider he’d ever help Bellatrix and the like. It felt almost like he forgot about his own public image, at least for the moment, and Remus didn’t have the heart to remind him of that. So he let him go on.

They hear about Harry becoming an outcast thanks to the newspaper publishing all that the Ministry says about him and his so-called lies. It breaks Remus’ heart. He’s seen Harry at Hogwarts and he knows how much the school means to him; that it was the first place where he felt truly accepted and appreciated, like he should have been throughout his childhood. He’s been popular, not just due to the legend accompanying him everywhere he goes, but for his talents and kindness, too. That all of that has vanished just like this and after all that he has gone through only a few months ago… He can tell that Harry’s reassurances are fake.

Umbridge’s reign over the school seems to grow worse every day. Technically, she shouldn’t be able to make any rules, but with the help of the Ministry she can. Dumbledore would work against that if he could, they know that, which means that Fudge is threatening the school - not him, mind you, because Dumbledore would never back down from a fight if he were the only one compromised - in some way. Remus guesses they must be about to close it should Dumbledore disobey. It makes sense then that Dumbledore lets them do it - closing the school has never been an option for him, not even in times of peace, but as it is all these kids would be released into a world that isn’t even fully aware of what dangers are going on. 

They cannot say for sure, though, because Dumbledore is mostly keeping to himself, save for assignments and plans that he tells them via Patronus

“I should hope he’s spinning a plan,” Sirius declared one day when Remus got new instructions, sending him to Wales this time. “Else I see no reason for all this ignoring us.” 

He’s close to echoing Harry’s words, actually, and slowly Remus can’t help but agree.

 

-

 

There’s a connection between Harry and Voldemort. One that goes beyond the obvious and doesn’t make sense to Remus at all. Legilimency should not be working if there’s such a distance between the one doing it and the one whose mind he wants to enter, but then again, Voldemort has always found a way to exceed known magic. It sickens him to no end to learn about that. 

“It’s disgusting,” Sirius agrees, but his words hold another meaning. They’re back in his room one evening where he has stormed off in yet another anger fit. This time, Remus has taken it upon himself to try and let him see reason. “That this… this bloody git should be going through his memories--”

He doesn’t mean Voldemort, however. No, for Sirius the next best target is Snape, probably because he is easier to hold on to. He’s been fuming the whole time since learning that Snape should be giving Harry Occlumency lessons, urged on by Harry’s own dislike for it.

Remus understands the need for those, though, and so should Sirius. It doesn’t make sense that Harry should have been able to see Arthur attacked by a snake. It means that something is up about the blockades of his mind and that’s not something anyone should be faced with, least of all Harry. It has helped now, of course, given that Harry alarmed Dumbledore quickly enough to ensure that Arthur could be saved, but there’s room for concern anyways. There’s always two sides to something and he’d rather they wouldn’t find out what the bad one entails.

“You know how much he loves torturing him!” Sirius goes on, throwing his hands in the air. “And Merlin, there’d be a lot to go with, right? He knows how to twist things and turn them back on you and--” He keeps going on, as if Remus wasn’t aware what a life Harry has led and didn’t know just how much Snape had hated James. Somehow, though, he doesn’t feel hurt by those assumptions, not this time. Instead, Sirius’ aggravation about Harry warms his heart, weird as that is.

Still, it wouldn’t do if he carried on like this. “Sirius,” he starts softly. There’s something happened in the past months that made his voice loud to Sirius even when it wasn’t. He just needs to address him and Sirius’ mouth would snap closed. He keeps the grim expression, naturally, but he waits patiently for him to continue. “He needs those lessons.”

Sirius’ scowl doesn’t vanish even as he sighs. “I know,” he admits. “I just don’t understand why it has to be Snivellus. Why not you? You’d been an expert on Occlumency since before you could walk, after all.”

It coaxes a chuckle out of Remus, ironically. He hasn’t started quite so early, of course, but somehow the compliment still sticks. He’s had to learn Occlumency to ensure nobody would discover his secret and with all his efforts to stay hidden he has become quite good at it, that much is true. He doesn’t deny it, but he answers, “One lesson doesn’t do, you know that. Harry needs a teacher who is at Hogwarts.” 

It’s not like he could show up at the school as he pleases. Even if Umbridge weren’t there (and he’s sure she has come up with rules about her so-called ‘half-breeds’ by now, a term she mistakenly calls werewolves, too, to keep them away from herself), it would only raise questions why the former DADA professor shows up from time to time. That he is nowadays known as a werewolf wouldn’t help the paranoia of the Ministry.

“Are you telling me no other teacher knows Occlumency?” Sirius spats in response. “How’s that possible? Dumbledore knows it, doesn’t he? Why--”

“Dumbledore is busy.”

Dumbledore is busy,” Sirius repeats. “He always is! What could be more important than saving Harry , I reckon?” He doesn’t just speak like family, Remus knows, but like a tired soldier. They’re all aware that Harry will be the key in defeating Voldemort, even if they don’t know how exactly. Helping Harry should be everyone’s priority, and the fact that Dumbledore is the one who seems to do the least of that is concerning.

Remus closes his eyes swiftly, drawing in a deep breath. “I don’t know, Sirius,” he says carefully. When he opens his eyes again, Sirius has crossed his arms in front of his chest and scowls at the wall. “But what's most important is that Harry has a teacher, isn’t it? I’m certain Severus will acknowledge that it’s not the time for a childhood feud.”

“Why does that sound like you want me to do the same,” Sirius says toneless, keeping his grim expression.

“Because that’s how it is.” Remus answers. He rounds the bed and sits down on it next to him, crossing his legs under himself. He doesn’t know how often he should talk to Sirius about this again. Everything they have gone through in the past, it should show him that arguments from their Hogwarts years hardly matter any more, shouldn’t it? Of course, it’s not like any of them really changed; he doesn’t have to like Snape, that would be too much, but they could at least tolerate each other. They all need to work together.

Sirius is as stubborn as always. He throws his head back and lets out a scoff, which earns him a slap on the leg from Remus. “Oi!”

“You’re a stubborn arse,” he points out. 

“Oh, I’d use different words,” Sirius answers with a sly grin. “Adamant. Determined. Persistent. Headstrong.”

Remus can’t keep holding back a smile himself when he sees that. He rolls his eyes. “Like a dog. Did McGonagall make you study vocabulary in one of those detentions?” 

“When you were a professor, did you get to call her Minerva?” Sirius counters. He wriggles his eyebrows as if that were a suggestion of any kind. 

In truth, Remus is fairly sure that it would have been expected of him, probably. They had the same profession, for however short a time, and were meant to join a unit in the status of being a teacher. But then, he’d always figured, Professor McGonagall had already been there for so long, done so much for the school and its pupils, they could have hardly been compared. Besides, whenever her eyes rested on him for a tad longer than necessary, he has always found himself looking for loose threads or holes in his clothes. It was an old habit, and it reminded him of the authority she always had over him, and will probably have forever. So no, he never called her by her first name.

But Sirius doesn’t wait for an answer. Instead, his mind has wandered on and he says, “It’s his fault that you cannot teach any more.”

Remus sighs. Of course he wasn’t done with that. “Sirius--”

“No, think about it. If he hadn’t blurted it out, nobody would have known that you are a werewolf.”

“It was a row of unlucky happenstances that made me forget to take the Potion, Sirius.” It had been. A potion that Snape had brewn for him like he always did, presented on his desk as it should have been, and he had forgotten to drink it because he was preoccupied with other things. If he were to name them, he’s sure Sirius would misunderstand him. He would think that Remus blame him , which he doesn’t. Not at all. Because if he hadn’t gone there, then he would have never learnt the truth about everything, of that he is sure. “Even if everyone had kept quiet, I would’ve felt compelled to quit either way. I was around children.”

“Are you blaming yourself?”

“I should have been more careful,” Remus answers hollowly. He should have. It’s something that shouldn’t have been possible to happen. Him, roaming around as a werewolf without any precautions - without the Wolfsbane potion, without hiding in the Shrieking Shack any more; was there a difference between him and Greyback?

He doesn’t know if his thoughts are this obvious, but Sirius grabs his arms firmly, leaning forward. He pulls him closer at the same time, so that there’s only a few centimetres between their faces. Remus has no other choice but to look back into his grey eyes. “Don’t you dare ,” Sirius says pointedly. “Don’t you dare act like any of this was your doing, you hear me? You would have never done something like this on purpose, Remus, we all know this.”

Maybe not on purpose, he is right. But there’s no way he should’ve let anything happen on accident either. Especially that, that lack of caution - it’s the most stupid thing he could have ever let happen. It’s the exact thing he’s always been warned of, the whole reason that would have kept him away from Hogwarts in the first place if it hadn’t been for Dumbledore’s trust. He had broken that during that night, no matter which way he looked at it. 

Sirius wouldn’t listen to him, of course. He’s always been adamant about pointing out how Remus would never be able to hurt anyone, as both human and wolf, ever since he came around on him being one. It doesn’t just feel like he’s trying to convince himself of it - amazingly, that feeling had never hit him, not with Sirius; others yes, with them he felt like they were just saying it like that. But winning Sirius over despite all his prejudices… It’s never felt fake. Even now, it feels like he believes it. Oh, how naïve.

And yet, Remus can’t help but feel a little better than before. It’s a talent that Sirius has, letting him forget about all logic and reason at times. And right now, he can feel himself cling to it. “I-- Do you think I could stay here for the night?”

He can see the surprise in Sirius’ face, even if he tries to hide it. He can’t blame him for it: Ever since more people came to visit or stay at the house, they have retreated to their own rooms for the night. It seemed better this way - what kind of light would it shine on them if people learnt they shared a bed? People would think of them as incompetent, scared boys rather than fighters, and there’s already enough of that going around. Still, seeing Sirius break into a small smile is worth it. “Oh, of course,” he says softly, flipping away the covers.

“Thank you,” Remus tells him as he settles in. He’s far from being in his pyjamas, but that doesn’t matter right now. 

What matters is the way Sirius wraps an arm around him and pulls him close. There’s a soft pressure on top of his head for a second and when it’s gone, he hears him whisper, “Any time.”

Chapter Text

Things grow more and more tense as the time goes on. They’re still waiting for something to happen on either side and the fact that Hogwarts becomes more isolated by the day certainly doesn’t help. It worsens the mood at Grimmauld Place, so much that they all bump heads on the daily.

It becomes so much that Remus almost yearns for new assignments from time to time. Not just so that he would get a break from Sirius’ and Molly’s bickering but that it goes the other way around, too. He isn’t too loud about his own annoyance and fear, but he realizes well enough that it does get displayed in his action and stances despite that. It’s a helplessness that they all feel, a longing to do just about anything rather than just wait.

They do try to stay calm as best as possible, but it only works sparsely. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious how desperately they put on a good face.

On Remus’ birthday, it’s been like this for all of them. Sirius had gone through with trying to host a party. Miraculously, he had convinced Molly to bake him a cake and made him eat it for breakfast, just like they had done in the old times. Remus hasn’t been quite sure whether it was led on by a genuine feeling of tradition or if Sirius clung to the past, but he put up with it. They’re all long past the age where you eat sweets first thing in the morning without regret but just to keep him smiling, Remus obliged. He doesn’t want any of them to spend the day as they did with Sirius’ - with it being so close to Halloween, he hadn’t been in the mood for a celebration.

Tonks and Kingsley had shown in the afternoon, joining a party that hasn’t quite been one, but for a few hours Remus could put his worries and doubts aside. They were still there, of course, but it was easier to forget about them with cheerful people around - and that, Tonks certainly could be. The sight of her and Sirius dancing made them all laugh, and this time it was honest.

Sirius hadn’t presented him a gift the whole day but that wasn’t a surprise. The others have had the opportunity to pick up something for him along the way, so they had given him small things; Tonks gave him a huge package of Bertie Botts, probably for a lack of more knowledge of what he likes, and Kingsley gave him a new suitcase that he doesn’t plan to use any time soon - he likes his old one just fine. He hadn’t really thought that Molly or Arthur would give him something, too, seeing as how she had provided the cake, but they did give him a few bars of chocolate as well. He supposes they’ve heard about the many times he probed Harry to eat some because of the Dementors and got it the wrong way. Still, he appreciated it, really.

But somehow Sirius did manage to get him something, just like some time during the day he must have snuck up to Remus’ room to set it up. When he enters it to turn in for the night, he finds a record player on his desk. An old one like his mother owned, just standing there like it’s where it belongs. But it’s a Muggle build, he realizes as he approaches it, so there is no way that it has been in the Manor before. 

No, this has been brought just for him.

There is a pile of records as well and he scans through it with careful hands. There’s bands that he and Lily introduced the others to, like The Beatles or The Kinks, but a lot that he isn’t familiar with either. It seems more like a random collection, he thinks as he flips through it. Somewhere close to the bottom, though, he stops.

During his Hogwarts years it had almost been easy to forget about the cruel reality of his condition. The other boys’ acceptance of him being a werewolf… It was a relief, one that he still struggles to put into adequate words. Of course, with them being them, it soon got turned into a joke. James would call it a ‘furry problem’ and he himself would joke about the answers on an exam. Because they easily forgo the danger of it all when it was the four of them together. Even on the nights of the full Moon they didn’t care much, no. At some point, it had become tradition to lead up to its night by singing Bad Moon Rising for a whole week beforehand. As if the lyrics had been a joke, too. Merlin, Remus had almost forgotten about that, so it’s all the more striking to find a vinyl of the single in this pile. 

Automatically, he slides it out of its cover and puts it on the player. It would make sense if used the record player the Muggle way, as it’s intended to be, but right now he doesn’t want to waste any time, as if this record and the memories it brings are of a fleeting nature. Instead, he hexes the device to start and puts a Sonorus on it for good measure.

He’s certain that, should Sirius be able to hear it, he’ll understand the thanks in the sounds.

 

-

 

There’s some Hogwarts news that make the front page of the Daily Planet. The decrees that Umbridge has made up didn’t quite cut it since they were of importance only for the school itself, so they usually got updates on those either from the teachers or Harry and his friends. Of course, even those are the ways of the Ministry campaigning against what the Order stands for, but it’s under the covers. There’s rarely anything that gets mentioned in the paper at all, period. That’s how it has always been.

They get it for the headquarters to stay informed themselves. There’s never a guarantee that an Order member will show up to update them, so it’s become an unofficial rule that Arthur kept his subscription to it going. He’s still a functioning member of society, even after his attack and the suspicions he raised with being down at Level Nine of the Ministry, so that didn’t seem to be too dangerous. There’s usually lies over lies, spiked with truths that are displayed in the wrong way, and it’s quite frustrating.

Today, though, it’s shocking.

“Dumbledore disappeared from Hogwarts,” Arthur states, his voice hollow. He didn’t even drop the newspaper but keeps holding it up like he’s reading it. It’s the front page.

What?” Remus and Siris make at the same time; it’s only the three of them there at the time, Molly went out to get new groceries. It doesn’t make sense, the way that Arthur has phrased it. It sounds like he either went voluntarily or like he was abducted; but if the Daily Prophet brings it, then it must be the Ministry’s fault. It’s in their hands, so they decide what gets printed. And it’s everything that makes them look good. But Dumbledore wouldn’t just disappear. No, they’d have to force him in one way or another, and that in itself is quite unbelievable.

“It’s-- Bloody hell, they tried to arrest him!” Arthur says, scanning the article. “For mutiny against the Ministry!”

“They surely did not,” Sirius insists. He reaches over and grabs the paper out of his hands to get a look at it himself. Remus can’t blame him, not at all, and Arthur is too shocked still to argue with him over that rude behaviour. Dumbledore hasn’t been quiet about his disapproval towards the Ministry’s actions, of course not, but mutiny? He hasn’t done anything openly that would earn him such an accusation. But then Sirius drops his arms. “Merlin, they did,” he shakes his head and hands it over to Remus.

He starts to read through it as well, but his eyes stop at the word ‘army’. “What,” he says, not even able to differentiate between a question and an exclamation. The only thing that could qualify as an army in some regards would be the Order and that can’t have been discovered. They’ve been keeping quiet, keeping everything a secret and whenever he’s tried to get some new members on board, he’s been careful to not mention anything before he was sure they’d join. Which they all did, in the end. 

It gives him the worst kind of flashback. No, he decides. None of them would have broken the Fidelius. Not again. Not this time when it would have truly been his fault. This cannot have happened. 

He tries to collect himself before his heart starts beating even faster and focuses on the text again. It isn’t the Order, as it seems. The article talks about a group of pupils who would be gearing up. It does make him feel slightly better concerning himself, but still... he gulps. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

The lack of an answer tells him enough. That does seem like something that Harry would get into. There’s been hints of that in everything he’s said to them, his yearning to fight, to do something. To help in a way that matters. There’s no way of denying it - if he isn’t the leader, then he is involved in it in some way. Something tells Remus that it’s the former, actually. And even though this is a bad thing now that it’s been discovered - it led to Dumbledore disappearing? -, he can’t help but feel a small amount of pride, too. They told him he can’t do anything, that he is too young and inexperienced, and he went and did everything he could anyways. He’s remarkable.

He looks up at Sirius and sees his own feelings mirrored in the grim smile on his face.

“Someone needs to contact him,” Arthur says, calling for the attention of both of them. “He can’t have disappeared. No, that’s not possible.” He shakes his head.

“I want to know more about this group.” Sirius doesn’t sound curious, but genuinely concerned. “Does the text say anything about its members?” He adds, shooting a look at Remus.

He scans the article again. “No.”

“Letters are being read before they arrive,” Arthur reminds them. “Flooing isn’t possible and a Patronus would be too visible.” There’s something in his eyes that seems almost furious about all of this. It makes sense, Remus thinks, because where Harry goes, so does Ron. And since they’ve all been raised by these parents, honest and good ones, it wouldn’t surprise him if all the other Weasley children are part of that group, too. “We cannot even make contact with McGonagall.”

“So we wait?” Sirius spats. It’s the kind of question that doesn’t call for an answer. 

Before either of them can say anything, he gets up from his seat and leaves the room, leaving them to stare after him. Remus contemplates whether he should follow. Would Sirius try to contact Harry anyways, even after they agreed there’s no way it would go undetected? No, surely he wouldn’t be this stupid. Sirius can be reckless and impulsive but that-- that would put them all at risk. The whole mission, and he knows they can’t have that. He won’t be trying to reach Harry, Remus decides. Instead, he’ll probably demonstrate his frustration at the furniture up in his room. That’s something he can definitely do as much as he wants to.

“You think a Patronus to Dumbledore would be safe?” Remus wants to know from Arthur. He ignores the surprise he gets for not hurrying after Sirius, though that should be obvious. There’s more important things happening than a tantrum thrown by a grown man.

“It’s our only bet,” Arthur says heavily. He seems helpless, just like Remus feels.

 

-

 

Wherever Dumbledore has vanished to what seems to be somewhere off the Earth. No matter what method they try, they cannot reach him. He doesn’t answer their Patroni and hasn’t reached out by himself. The coded updates that McGonagall sent them didn’t hold any clues of his presence either. 

With their leader gone like this, the mood amongst the Order quickly turns even more sour. While Dumbledore was at Hogwarts, they have still had a certainty to refer to. A level of normalcy. Dumbledore was in control, so they were in control, even if they didn’t know how to continue. But now… the helplessness only grows worse. It resembles a Dementor attack, Remus would say if he had to describe it. 

Sirius had soon come to spend most of his day in his room. Before, he would have joined them downstairs and tried to be useful in any way he could, or maybe he just wanted to not be alone. That he sinks back into this isolation, it is an additional worry on top of Remus’ own, so he tries to look after him as often as he can without attracting his wrath himself.

Sometimes, he’ll either get completely ignored or be harshly sent away. The latter of those he likes better, actually, because they mean Sirius is okay enough to speak . He knows he tends to grow quiet when it’s extremely bad and he wishes he could somehow change it for the better, even if he doesn’t have a clue how. It’s an overwhelming situation, too much like all this time ago. But back then they’ve had Dumbledore, at least; now it might be worse.

A lot of times, on the other hand, Sirius lets him. They’d end up sitting together, not necessarily talking, but spending the time with one another. It’s quiet, usually, but still more comfortable than being with one of the others. Most of those nights Remus would even forget going back to his own room. 

As he enters Sirius’ room today, he reckons it will be one of those nights. Sirius is lounging on his bed, limbs wide as if that is all he’s doing, but he’s drumming on his thigh as well. Not a steady rhythm, but something that shows just how jittery he is. How impatient. 

Remus looks at him. “You want me to put on a record?” Somehow, they player had migrated to this room instead of his own. It makes more sense, given that they’re usually here. 

He gets nothing but a hum in reply. Sirius doesn’t even lift his head but keeps staring at the ceiling. 

It’s enough of an answer for him, actually, so he turns around and starts to look through the records. He feels like something slow tonight but nothing only instrumental either; frankly, he isn’t quite sure if this small collection holds anything of that kind. He carries on nonetheless.

“Moony, I reckon it’s about time that you kissed me.” 

Remus stops in his movements and looks at him. It’s just an honest and open request that he can’t even drop his gaze; though, technically, that isn’t even correct. It isn’t a request, it’s a statement. He swallows softly. “And why would I do that?” He wants to know, licking his lips on reflex.

While he was flipping through the vinyls, Sirius has gotten up from the bed and wrings his hands now. If Remus has expected him to look away, he’s been wrong. Just like him, he keeps the eye contact. “Because,” he starts slowly, opening his hands and taking a step forward carefully, “it’s already taken me almost two decades to even say these words; I don’t think I’ll be doing anything soon.” 

There’s always been a certain sort of openness between them, one that allowed Remus to look behind Sirius’ surface and see his real emotions. He realizes, of course, that he’s never reached quite the same level as James had, but he’s sure that he’s one of the few people who’ve learnt to recognize when Sirius puts up an act. Funnily, though, he’s always thought that Sirius’ flirting with other had always been sincere. He’s never seemed this raw about it, though, not while Remus had been around, at least. 

His brain cuts short on the two decades. “I--” He starts, but he doesn’t know how to continue. No, he must be getting this wrong, because there’s no way that Sirius has been feeling like-- like that for so long. Or generally, for that matter. 

Sirius drops his gaze finally. He doesn’t look embarrassed, not at all, but rather hurt. As if he hadn’t expected a rejection at all because he’s thought he’d seen the same things and--

Oh,” Remus mutters, and finally realization kicks in. He breaches the distance between them in two big steps and reaches for Sirius’ hand, this time intertwining their fingers for good. 

Now, Sirius is surprised and he looks up at him with wide eyes, his mouth falling open when Remus cups his cheek with his other hand. And he’s physically surprised when their lips press against each other, if the way his whole body grows tense at first is any indication. It only takes a moment, though, and then he’s kissing him back.

There’s a desperation in the way they suddenly cling to each other, not wanting to let go even as they part, and Remus is sure he wouldn’t have been able to pull away if he hadn’t needed to breathe. It wasn’t even a good kiss; clumsy and eager in the way that first kisses are even thought it wasn’t the first first kiss for either of them.

Oh, thank Merlin,” Sirius breathes, burying his forehead against Remus’ collarbone. “For a second there, you had me scared, mate.”

Remus chuckles lightly, not even considering putting up a farce. “Think we danced around each other for a tad too long,” he admits. Because that’s what it’s been for all this time, he realizes now.

All that imagining how he’d have ended up living with Sirius either way, that it’ll be the two of them against the world forever, has had a meaning to it that he’s pushed to the back of his mind years ago. Something that he hasn’t allowed himself to think. 

Because he has known, deep down, that he was in love with Sirius Black since Sixth Year. And it might have been stored away in his heart for even longer, had been the reason for forgiving him for the whole Snape Thing when he truly shouldn’t have - he remembers how much it had hurt that Sirius would be the one to pass on his promise, that Sirius would hope he would kill someone. That Sirius had thought him capable of such a thing. But he’s had proof for it ever since that one Potions class in Sixth Year where Slughorn had taught them about Amortentia.

Back then he’d argued with himself quite violently only to come to the conclusion that a love potion doesn’t necessarily mean romantic love. And lilies, hotdogs and Fleamont Potter‘s hair products all remind him of the people he associates with the feeling of being loved, just like chocolate reminds him of his mum. The fact that leather and dog fur - disgusting as it is, really, but how fitting that Sirius would have the worst - were the most prominent smells didn’t mean anything; they just happened to be so because they’re what Sirius actually smelled like at times. Lily didn’t smell like lilies, she was just called that. James never used his father‘s products and it would have been quite a surprise should Peter have started bathing in hotdog water. Of course actual representations of someone would be fiercer than metaphorical ones.

And the fact that his Patronus had looked more like a dog than a wolf had just been a coincidence, he convinced himself. It has been a wolf, just a smaller one, because while it represented him for sure, a part of his subconscious should have been aware that’s not what he wanted . Something like that was the reason, he figured.

How stupid he had been, he realizes now, to try and talk himself out of such a thing. That he’s told himself the only reason he grew mad whenever Sirius went out for a date at Hogsmeade had been because he feared their group might break apart, that Sirius wouldn’t spend as much time with them anymore. As if anyone but death could have broken the Marauders apart. As if a relationship could have ruined it; James and Lily had been the proof for the opposite, and he’d never even assumed something like this about them. He figures he truly hadn’t managed to recognize his feelings for what they were, actually. He’s been too much in denial to understand the multiple layers of jealousy that he’s been feeling: About Sirius going out with someone who wasn’t him. That Sirius has had the courage to be true to himself, that he hasn’t been hiding himself and his attraction to men away, unlike Remus.

“We have,” Sirius agrees. “Why?” He lifts his head away now to look up at Remus, the question written on his whole face.

“Well, you certainly never-- you never said anything,” Remus argues. He bites his lips, already regretting that he’d turned it into an accusation rather than a confession. But that’s easier, for once.

I've never--?” Sirius laughs breathlessly. “Mate, I hadn’t even known for sure whether you were attracted to lads. Of course, there was that Spin the Bottle where you devoured Prongs, but that was James, so…” Remus closes his eyes at the memory. Yes, that James had been the only other boy he ever shared a kiss with hadn’t been too bad, even if it didn’t mean anything. “Besides, it’s not like I haven’t been flirting,” Sirius argues.

“You’ve flirted with everyone.”

“Not. True,” Sirius says, tipping against his nose at each word. Then he places his hand against the back of Remus’ neck, gently stroking the hair there. It’s electrifying, that little contact. “I’m pretty sure I never flirted with Snivellus.”

Remus scrunches up his nose. No, that would have been awful, that’s true. “A low bar, really.”

“I’ve rarely meant it,” Sirius says in sudden earnesty. “But with you, always.”

Remus swallows. Then he nods. Weirdly, it doesn’t feel like new information. He supposes that, just like a part of him has been aware for his own feelings, it has known about Sirius’, too. And for the same reasons, he has chosen to ignore them. 

There’s been long glances that Sirius has sent him over the books when they studied together. He’s always been the first one to check up on him after a Full Moon, carefully moving his hands along Remus’ body to ensure there weren’t any fatal injuries. Sirius has always been the one who came back to the Hospital wing at night, disguising himself under the Invisibility cloak that he stole from James’ things. They’ve had the same Patronus; only a few different characteristics to demonstrate their own personalities. In Sixth Year Sirius didn’t have Potions class any more, but Remus reckons his Amortentia would have smelled like chocolate and parchment foremost.

“I know,” he finally whispers, not trusting his voice. “I-- I’m sorry, Padfoot, I’m--” 

“It’s alright,” Sirius decides. He moves his hand down on the side of Remus’ body again, grabbing his hands. “It’s alright,” he says again and shushes him lightly and only now does Remus realize he’s breathing heavily. 

He lets himself be led to the bed by him and buries his face in his hands. Finally, all the feelings hit him. What he has been denying himself to feel, what he’s been denying himself to see , and by extension, what Sirius hasn’t dared to express because of him. How often must he have hurt Sirius’ feelings by rejecting him without even noticing? 

And now he sits here, gently rubbing circles over Remus’ back as if he’s been the one hurting this whole time. “It’s alright,” he hums again. “It was a hard time, of course you didn’t--”

“I knew,” Remus repeats again, forcing his voice to be strong. He needs Sirius to know this. He deserves to know why the things have been like they were. “I’ve just decided-- I ignored it. Merlin, I’ve been in love with you since before Fifth Year and wouldn’t even let myself think those words…”

Sirius is quiet as he repeats, “In love?”

“In love,” Remus confirms, looking up at him again. He cannot believe how easily those words fall of his lips now, as if he drank Veritaserum and can’t hold it in any more. 

He watches as Sirius’ mouth falls open at it. There’s so little space between them, he can feel every shaky breath leaving it, can hear something else rumbling down in his throat. He can see the wetness of his eyes and he can feel the same in his own. “I-- Can I kiss you?”

Remus simply nods, closing his eyes as he waits for it. He tries to not move on his own but let Sirius take the lead and follows his motions. He lets him lift his chin and stays still as Sirius’ breath hits his face. And then, finally, after what feels like hours, they kiss. It’s more gentle than before; for a few seconds, their lips just rest against one another until Sirius finally parts them. 

It’s slow and careful and Remus lets it be. He’d take hundreds of these slow moments if they meant het gets to kiss Sirius, he realizes now. 

Chapter Text

It stays between the two of them. They have wasted so much time, so many years that they have let pass them by, it only feels natural to keep to themselves for now. They explore it, this new kind of love between them, and each other, up in their rooms where nobody would come to bother. If anyone noticed them being gone even more frequently than before, they don’t say so.

It’s exciting and calming at the same time. It’s new and old at the same time. It makes a new wave of hope spread through Remus whenever Sirius smiles at him over dinner, or when he reaches for Remus’ hand as they read together, or when he kisses his neck all too softly.

It’s not all too different, however. They still sit together in silence and do their own things. They still listen to records together. They still talk, about the past and present, and rarely about the future, too. Only now, there’s new topics being added and that sometimes, they don’t do either of it all.

One day, when they are just lounging around, enjoying each other’s company, Sirius speaks into the silence. “I wonder… If I didn’t wear the Black name anymore, do you reckon this would still belong to me?” He asks, gesturing around with his hand. 

Remus elans up on his elbows and raises his eyebrows at him. “If you didn’t-- Why wouldn’t you wear the name?” He can think of many a reason for that. Sirius hasn’t felt like a part of this family at least since Second Year, and he hasn’t been one since he ran away to James’ place. But never had this topic even come up. It’s always been like his name was permanent, that there was no way to officially cut ties, too. He’d always thought that’s something to do with wizard law. And now, years later, Sirius discloses that it does, in fact, work? The only times that Remus had seen someone change their last name was when they got wed and--

He’s met with grey eyes before they quickly snap down. There’s a blush spreading out on Sirius’ cheeks, fiery and foreign against the pale skin, as he ducks his head.

Oh.” Remus mouth falls open as he realizes what he’s implying. Frankly, it should probably be concerning how little it surprises him. “Oh, okay.”

“I-- Not now, of course, or any time soon,” Sirius says quickly. He starts picking on the blanket rolled up next to him rather than to face Remus. “Because this is fresh and with the-- well, politics…”

Remus rolls over onto his stomach and reaches out for Sirius’ hands, stopping it from fretting. He pulls them close and puts his chin on top of them. “After the war,” he decides, looking up at him. Had things gone differently, this exact promise would have been made fifteen years ago already. 

“After the war?” Sirius repeats. There’s a hint of disbelief in it that Remus can’t fault him for. After all, talking about this now already could seem quite fast, in some way.

But he’s positive that Sirius understands. “Then we’ll see.”

Sirius hums. “Okay.”

“Yeah?” Remus wants to know. It might not be exactly what Sirius had hoped for, but it’s what he can agree to. Maybe it won’t happen any time soon, maybe they won’t even tell others about this, about them, at all for a while, but they’ll talk about it.

He can’t help it; it’s the same reason why he had shoved away these feelings before. He isn’t brave like Sirius is. With one secret already ingrained into himself, it didn’t seem odd to carry on with that. Not to mention that he couldn’t have dealt with either of those becoming part of public knowledge; technology isn’t the only thing where wizards are behind Muggles, and even those didn’t have a good time when they didn’t conform to what was regarded to be normal.

But Sirius, Sirius had always been good at defying those. First with rebelling against his family in every way possible, once he’s realized that no, their actions weren’t the right ones. Of course he hasn’t made a secret out of him liking boys. He’s shown it proudly, basically throwing it into their faces. And so he did to everyone else. Remus could have never been like that.

Sirius nods. “Of course.” 

And those two words are convincing enough. Remus smiles and presses a kiss to each of his hands before he lets go. Rolling back on his back, he lets out a small sigh. “Are there wizard lawyers? They’d know. About the inheritance, I mean.”

“I think everyone’s on their own there,” Sirius answers with a shrug. 

Remus can’t help but frown at that. Moments like these, they remind him of how many flaws there are in the system. Not just with the laws themselves but also how they’re executed. If it were differently, if they did provide actual defense and investigation, that Sirius would have had a better chance of getting out the truth. “That’s bollocks.”

Of course, wizards have their own ways of providing the proof. They could use a Prior Incantato , technically. They could use Veritaserum if need be, if it isn’t about anything done with actual magic. So many possibilities they could use as much as they want to, and instead corrupt cases like Sirius’ or Harry’s just last summer get to happen. It’s maddening, really, the fact that either there isn’t a real order or nobody who’d want to truly obey to it. 

“Moony,” Sirius says softly. He clicks his tongue a little as if he were chiding him playfully. “One thing at a time, eh? There’s more pressing things first, don’t you reckon?” 

Another hint at how there’s definitely gonna be a future. How they’re gonna win this fight again. Somehow, they have started to talk like this a lot recently, and Remus can’t deny that it makes his heartbeat grow slower again. A part of him knows that it’s unreasonable to think like this, another, a stronger one, wants to hold onto these promises. It’s easier to fight for something as long as you believe in it. 

“You’re right.”

“Always am,” comes the instant answer.

Remus lets out a sharp laugh. “Ha! Keep dreaming, Pads.”

 

-

 

Over the time, seemingly everyone who frequents the Headquarters knows to keep quiet in the entrance hall. There have been way too many times that Mrs Black’s portrait would start screaming and spewing her hateful comments for it not to be a known factor about this house. Personally, Remus has come to view it as a kind of motivation, a reminder of what to fight, but he thinks it’s not hard to forget it anyways. Besides, he has had the time to get more used to it than the others have, with him basically living here.

In fact, it’s been a while since someone last woke her up, so it’s alarming when it happens one day as he and Sirius are cooking together in the kitchen. Molly had to be somewhere and seeing how she provides food on the regular, it felt nice to pay her back for once. Thinking back to Potions class, Remus had expected it to be a complete mess, truth be told. He’d thought they would keep arguing about the measurements, about the way to stir… But cooking isn’t as complicated, thankfully, and something Sirius still hasn’t grown used to. Instead of an irritated behaviour, he’s displayed nothing but curiosity and obedience. Remus could get used to that, he’s decided.

Thankfully, using magic meant that they didn’t have to pay persistent attention either, so they soon turned on the radio and began singing and dancing, put into a good mood by how well their work in the kitchen had gone so far. While they are swaying together to a row of slow songs, the air tasting of their meal, they’re interrupted by loud voices coming from down the hall.

Sirius’ eyes grow wide as they listen; Molly is, in fact, louder than Walburga. And not only that, she seems to be pretty mad. “I don’t care what a witch that woman is-- Oh, you shut up, you old hag!”

From here there is no telling whether she used a spell to close the curtain, but with the anger in her voice, she could certainly have managed to shut up the portrait with her words alone. This doesn’t seem to be anything Order-related or the like, or else the alarm would have gone differently, Remus imagines. No, this seems like the ramblings of a frantic mother. There’s relief spreading through him, because if she can be fuming like this, then nobody has been injured, thankfully.

Sirius must have realized the same thing because in the next moment his attentive expression falls and makes room for disappointment. He groans softly as he lets go off Remus’ waist at last. “There goes the good mood.”

Remus glares at him in return. If Molly really is in such a bad state, then there sure is more than enough reason for it. She doesn’t need Sirius to worsen it any more and, frankly, neither does he. There’s been more than enough of that, even lately when they didn’t have that many chances to bump heads, technically, and he’s tired of it. 

Sirius seems to get the message and raises his hands in defense before he steps back to the stove. Keeping himself busy is enough of a promise that he’ll try to keep quiet at least. That’s enough for now, Remus decides, and heads out of the kitchen.

“Molly?” He calls carefully, not wanting to wake the portrait again. If she were to start screaming again, he can imagine that she wouldn’t let herself be quieted that easily once more. 

He enters the living room and finds Molly strutting and fretting around in the living room. It’s arguably the cleanest room in the whole house already next to the kitchen and its joined dining room - the most frequented rooms, really, so those have to be the ones you can feel most comfortable in - so there’s really no need for her to pick lints here now. But he recognizes it as a sign of distress, especially with the frantic manner in which she does it.

“Molly?” He tries again. “Are you alright?”

For an answer he just gets a scoff as she carries on straightening the pillows on the couches. Of course, Remus gets along with her better than Sirius does; he thinks Molly might have taken an actual liking to him for most of the month. Close to the Full Moon it appears to be a different thing, but he cannot fully blame her for it. Still, he doesn’t think that she’d like it should he physically approach her, not when she seems to be in a kind of trance as it is. 

“Did-- Nobody did get hurt, did they?” He knows she’d have a different reaction then, but making sure about something like this seems like the most reasonable thing. It’s what they should be expecting any day - it’s what has happened enough already.

“Not yet,” Molly says pointedly, punching the pillow in her hands harder than necessary. “Though it might be for the better if they were . It’d explain the stupidity.”

Remus recognizes that tone; it is that of an angry mother. He recognizes it from his own mum -- how she’d grown mad at all the pranks the Marauders had been up to. At the same time he sees the love in it, the concern. Despite himself, he starts to smile.

It’s a mistake. Molly’s glance levels on him, her eyes growing small. “Do you know--” Her voice is carefully even. “--what my boys have gotten themselves into?”

“Um,” Remus gulps. He hasn’t been faced with a parental wrath in quite some time, to say the least, so he isn’t quite sure what to say. And knowing her kids, she could mean anyone and anything by those words. 

“They left,” Molly answers. “They left the school! Only a month left until they’d have gotten their N.E.W.T.s and what do they do? They leave the school, just like that! Made trouble on the way out, of course--”

“Wait. Fred and George?”

“Yes! Fred and George!” Molly counters. “Imagine that! Throw away their whole education on a whim and then they don’t even do it quietly, no, they have to make sure that everyone sees it!”

Remus wouldn’t have said that it happened on a whim, actually. Quite the opposite. During his run as their teacher, he has found them conspiring quite often; either they whispered with Lee Jordan about what a waste of time going to school was when they don’t plan to do anything with that or he found drawings of some inventions among their reports. McGonagall has brought it up to him, in fact. Apparently they hadn’t hidden any of their plans even during their sessions of Careers Advice but explained it to her in great detail. None of that has been passed on to him, but she has sounded quite proudly when she mentioned how the twins would’ve given him and his friends a run for their money. She had meant it positively back then, but the remainder of the friendship had stung at the time. Now he can appreciate her words more. He doesn’t know if the boys had ever even crossed paths with anything Marauder-esque, but he’d like to think that they did. 

“They left the school?” He summarizes. “To do what?”

“I don’t know!” Molly responds. She’s waving her hands in the air as she speaks, still aggravated. “What can they do, really, with the little O.W.L.s that they have?”

Remus closes his mouth, realizing that his talking won’t do anything right now. He could tell her that the fact that they didn’t get more O.W.L.s in the first place was due to the fact that they didn’t deem them necessary. They’ve already had plans back then, working towards them and nothing else, he could tell, and the only reason that they passed his parkour was because they were rather good at DADA in the first place. He doesn’t think that they learnt much for any subject that they didn’t need. Even if they seem spontaneous and silly, the two of them, there’s nothing about that in their actions regarding their future: They do know what they’re doing. Of course, Molly wouldn’t believe him. Right now, she’s caught up in the fact that they left just like that.

Which has apparently been quite an action, judging by her anger. He’d be lying if he claimed he isn’t intrigued by it. “Molly, why don’t we go for a cuppa? You should tell me more about this,” he offers. That way she can keep ranting and he gets to know the whole picture.

This time he reaches out for her. It seems safe now that he has her attention. And in fact, she lets herself be led away by him, back to the kitchen where Sirius is softly humming along to the music playing. He raises an eyebrow as they arrive, stirring the sauce with his wand.

Remus boils the water with a flick of his own. “The twins have decided to quit school,” he informs him, trying not to sound too excited about it. He can’t help it - even if he’s become an adult, a teacher, he’s still a prankster at heart, and he knows that it’s the same for Sirius.

And on cue, he begins to beam. There’s a gleam in his eyes that he rarely wears outside of his room and it warms Remus’ heart. 

But he realizes that this is not the reaction they should have to Molly’s worries, so he gently shakes his head at him and eyes her curtly. Sirius understands and tries to drop his grin, but he isn’t very fruitful, so Remus hurries with the tea. It’s best if she’s distracted, then. 

Once the cup is settled in front of her, Sirius comes to join them at the table. He’s sitting next to Remus, pressing his shin against his as if it were the most natural thing, and he has in turn to keep himself from placing a hand on Sirius’ knee. Instead he props his chin on top of his hands and looks at Molly patiently.

Even from his seat next to him, he can see Sirius try to bite back - quite literally, really - a grin as Molly tells them about the message she had gotten just this morning. Apparently, the twins haven’t just left Hogwarts behind, but they went with a - once again: quite literal - bang; wreaking havoc as they went. There’s a swamp in a hall somewhere now, one that can’t be vanished like that. The worst thing of it all? It has happened at the same time that Harry has flooed them yesterday. Remus can see the connection and Sirius, so it seems as he ducks his head, feigning guilt, does as well.

They had a discussion about that call at night already, both in agreement that it had been stupid of Harry to even attempt such a thing, but the talk did seem to calm him down somewhat. To learn now that he’s had companions, great ones even, makes it look even better. Remus would be lying if he claimed it didn’t fill him with pride now. At least this gives Sirius another thing to focus on there - he had been quite angry last night, repeating over and over again how this had been exactly what he thought would happen. Granted, neither of them expected Harry to take a dive into Snape’s head, but it had been a heated argument. That Snape had forgotten himself so much during that had been another point of concern for Sirius. It’s the reason why Remus had insisted they cook together this morning, actually. Sirius had still been in a foul mood when they woke up and it was something that, to Remus at least, had always seemed like a sweet and calming thing. Not to mention romantic, but that wasn’t the main intend. And then, of course, it had worked. Quite a success.

He doesn’t want to ridicule Molly’s worries, no. And neither her anger. He gets where she’s coming from. If those were his kids, he’d give them a stern talking, too. After all, back-up plans are always necessary and with it being the last month of school it did seem very unwise to quit like that, whether they helped a friend - unbeknownst to Molly, naturally - or just wanted to piss off Umbridge. And yet, he can’t help but feel himself struggling with a smile as well. It’s Sirius’ bouncing next to him, an energy of delight at hearing of such things radiating from him, that catches on.

Once she’s finished, he finally tells her, “Molly, you’ve raised quite reasonable children. They may not look like it, but they do think first.” Usually, he thinks, but he isn’t about to tell her that. It would only revive the worries.

Obviously, Sirius isn’t as wise. “Most of the time, at least.” Remus kicks him for that. “Ouch!” Comes the whine, and Sirius reaches down to rub his leg where he hit him. Once that’s done, he doesn’t put his hand back on the table but places it on Remus’ thigh. 

It’s still just theirs, that thing between them, and it doesn’t seem like the right time to disclose it now, put quite frankly. And yet he can’t help but shift a little, moving closer into Sirius’ touch. He tries his best to concentrate on Molly despite that. “I mean it,” he tells her. “The twins should know what they’re doing. And even if they don’t, they have a lovely family to fall back into.”

It’s just one sentence, a simple one at that, but it charms a smile on her face as well. Molly even blinks back a few tears, as it seems, and then he realizes what he’s done: There’s just been a son of hers who’s abandoned the family; reminding her that the others value its importance still must be a welcome thing. 

He reaches over to put his hand on hers and regrets it instantly. Sirius’ hand trails up in the movement, sending goosebumps up his spine. But he doesn’t pulls away again. Instead, he strokes his thumb over the back of her hand. “Everything’s gonna be alright, I promise.” There goes another one, he’s telling promises about yet another future. But he feels it, deep in his soul, and he hopes he’ll be right.

Molly swallows in response and nods curtly. “I’m-- Excuse me, will you?” She prompts, already getting up from her seat. She almost knocks over the tea that she has yet to touch. Then she’s out of the room before either of them can react.

“You reckon she’ll be alright?” Sirius wants to know, his eyes fixed on the door. His hand, however, is still resting on Remus’ leg. Maybe he doesn’t even notice. 

He lets out a sigh. “Yeah, I think so. They aren’t stupid.” 

“I like them,” Sirius answers. As it turns out now, he did not forget about his hand. He moves it gently, lightly brushing his thigh up and down. There’s a grin spreading out on his face when Remus tenses up. “You like that?”

“I-- Yes,” Remus says. He grabs his hand, though, lifting it despite his words. “But if you could-- Not when someone else is there--”

Sirius lifts his eyebrows. “You like it that much then?” His grin grows wider and he puts his other hand on Remus’ thigh. This time the excitement gets the best of him and he doesn’t do it quite as faintly as before. “I’ll remember that.”

Remus rolls his eyes. “Not that much. It’s just… You know, we didn’t talk about it, not really but I…” 

“You aren’t ready yet.” Sirius finishes. He nods and lets go off Remus’ leg at once. “I know. Sorry, I didn’t think--”

“Do you ever?” Remus says before he can stop himself. Then, more soberly, he continues. “It’s just… so new, right? I mean, for me it is, certainly. And I’ve kept it inside of me for so long, that I-- I guess I need to take baby steps. And that’s not what you’re used to, so I’d get if you--”

“Moony,” Sirius cuts him off. He puts his free hand on Remus’ cheek, turning his head to look at him. “It’s new for me, too, alright? With you. It’s the most fantastic thing and-- Well, I’ll be hexed if I can’t wait a little longer, too. What’s however-long-you-need against my lifelong pining?”

“It wasn’t lifelong.” Remus scoffs. Still, the words make him feel better in an instant. He knows that Sirius means them and that they’ll most likely hold up to the truth. Of course, given that they’re already in hiding, there’d only be a small group who’d learn about it, but even that seems like a lot to him right now. Right now, the moments up in their rooms are enough for him and even if Sirius seems to forget himself every now and then, it seems to be the same for him as well. It reflects in the ways he interacts with other members of the Order and in every smile he sends Remus even if it isn’t them interacting. 

“Close enough, though,” Sirius shrugs. He opens his mouth, but then he closes it again. Quite fast, actually, and the way he bats his eyes makes Remus raise a brow.

“Out with it,” he prompts.

“No, it’s-- Later.”

Remus pouts. “You’ll forget about it,” he reminds him. That’s always been the case when Sirius couldn’t say what was on his mind. He’s always had what they came to call ‘fleeting thoughts’, a racing mind that jumps from one idea to another and when you don’t let him speak, then it would get buried in a pile in the back of his head. “Tell me.”

“Not this. Besides, you just told me I should leave stuff like that for just us.” Sirius says. He’s suddenly very determined to wait with saying it.

That only makes Remus’ curiosity grow, naturally. It’s a funny thing when Sirius wants to keep something to himself because he’d always end up looking like he’s about to explode. And if it’s something of that topic… “We are on our own,” he points out. To prove it, he presses a kiss against Sirius’ chin.

Sirius melts instantly. It happens quite often that he’d lean into any contact Remus gives him and he has yet to figure out if that’s a consequence from the time in Azkaban or if it’s him. Once he had gotten used to them, Sirius always liked hugs between their group, even if they didn’t happen quite as often. Even as teenagers, so much physical contact between boys was frowned upon, so they never had too much of that. Obviously, even that lack of such didn’t get it out of them. Society be damned. 

“So, you can tell me,” Remus finishes. He kisses the other side of his face as well, enjoying the soft sigh that leaves Sirius’ mouth in response.

“I love you,” mixes itself into the sigh, barely audible. At once, Sirius’ eyes grow wide in surprise. “Merlin, I didn’t mean to-- Bollocks, that’s-- I mean…”

Remus can feel himself mirror that expression, surprised by the words. Which is to say he wasn’t unaware of it, not after that big confession, but to hear it… It’s a whole different thing. If he’d felt shivers sent through his body before, then now it’s a whole flock of Hippogriffs. As if they were making a way through his veins, he feels every centimetre of his body flooded by blood in response. “Sirius,” he whispers. “I-- I love you, too.”

The fact that Sirius looks shocked by that is quite amusing and shocking at the same time. Hadn’t he already confessed to very similar words before? Sirius should have realized that of course it is reciprocated. 

Remus can’t help but let out a chuckle at it. There’s surprise in it, at the fact that they just said it, and that Sirius was so oblivious, and relief. Giddiness because wow. He’s never said it before, never felt it before, and it’s so, so good. “Was the food finished?”

Sirius frowns at the sudden topic change. His eyes flicker back to the stove for a second. “Uh, yeah. I put a spell to keep it hot, so whenever someone’s hungry--”

“Good.” Remus nods. He grabs Sirius hand again and makes them both get up, turning a little into him in the motion. “You were right. That wasn’t a conversation for down here.”

“Oh?” Sirius makes, obviously still very confused. But then it dawns on him. It’s visible in the way his eyes don’t only grow smaller, but darker, too. “Oh, okay.” There’s a smirk in place now, one that speaks of mischief.

Well, they’ve always liked that, after all. They don’t even try to sneak up to his room, but barrel out of the kitchen and up the stairs. If Molly hears them, she probably won’t be thinking too much about it anyways. 

 

-

 

Empty. From one second to the other, all the light vanishes from Remus’ life. He has experienced this before, or at least he had thought so, but now it is so much worse. He clings to Harry, holding him back, holding himself back, keeping both of them from running after Sirius. 

His body never hits the ground. 

They watch it, they see him disappear, and they never see him come out of the Veil again, unable to do anything. Harry screams in his arms, fights to get out of them and Remus wants to do the same, only he knows that once he starts he will not be able to stop again. He clings to Harry just as much as he clings to him, even though they both want to do the opposite. It’s like their bodies act on their own, deciding against what their minds, their hearts want. 

Even his words are the opposite of what he feels, keeping it inside himself so he won’t burst. “There’s nothing you can do, Harry--” He says, almost automatically. It hurts. It hurts so much and it is the truth. If there were something, just anything, that could do it, he would. 

Harry answers, but Remus doesn’t hear. It’s like there’s a static running in his ears, louder than anything else. “... He’s gone.” They’re his words, but they only hit once they’ve left his mouth. Sirius disappeared, just like that, in front of his eyes. It’s worse than all these years ago when Remus had lost everything because now he’s finally found a way to be true to himself, he’s had more hope than ever, and then he saw it been taken away from him. 

“He can’t come back, Harry,” he says, his voice barely above a whisper and still it gives away. He’s talking to them both, but he aims it at Harry, trying to make him understand and keeping it away from himself at the same time. “He can’t come back, because he’s d--”

“He! Is! Not! Dead!” Harry yells and there it is. He says the words and they finally stab Remus in the chest. He struggles, feeling his body give in to the pain but he fights against it. No, he needs to keep Harry safe, he needs to keep him there, if not for the world, then for himself, for Sirius. Somehow, he manages to drag him away.

It’s only when Neville approaches them that Remus realizes Harry isn’t struggling against him any more. Instead, he’s sunken into himself, depending as much on his hold as vice versa. They’re just a lump together, still yearning to get back to the Veil but unable to move. 

But now, as his gaze settles on Neville, it’s like his brain gets stitched together anew. The fight is still going on, even with Dumbledore’s appearance guaranteeing them a win. They’re all still in danger, and there’s children here. Children who need his help and trust him because he’s here and on their side and he can do something. He bites down the sob in his throat and forces himself to focus. 

He lifts the spell off Neville’s feet and asks, “Where are the others?” As he speaks, he makes himself turn away finally, away from the Veil, away from Sirius, the Sirius who’ll never return, and tries his best to keep working. It’s hard to follow Neville’s words both because his heart still aches for him to turn around again and search and also because the fight hasn’t gone by without harming Neville. Seeing the Longbottoms’ son like this, bloody and still determined as he tells him about what the other kids have done, helps him concentrate on this. This he can do, this he should do.

Suddenly there’s a loud noise from somewhere to the side, making them all flinch. In the next moment he can feel Harry struggle again, but his grip isn’t strong enough, not any more. “Harry! No!” 

But Harry doesn’t listen. Instead, he sets off, yelling back at him as if he doesn’t know. As if he doesn’t feel the sudden emptiness of his heart. “She killed Sirius!” Harry yells. “She killed him! I will kill her!”

Remus can’t hold back a wince at the words. Hearing them is even worse than saying them, he realizes now. It’s defeating; so much that he can’t even raise his voice to try and stop Harry again. Running after him won’t do, there’s too much fuel in Harry’s anger, the opposite of what he feels, and he can only hope that someone can stop him. Someone has to stop him because if anything happens to Harry, too-- He can’t finish the thought. 

“Brofeshor Lubin,” Neville says carefully, stepping closer; his voice is spiked with little grunts from the pain. He puts a hand on Remus’ back and another against his chest, keeping him standing. Remus hadn’t even realized he was swaying. “Are you okay? Harry, he’sh-- Where’s shtill people where he ran, whey’ll shtop him.”

Remus draws in a deep breath, taking in that reassurance. Neville is right, there’s more people here, closer to Harry who can help him, and he can care for the ones he can reach. “Hermione,” he presses out. “Let’s look after her.”

Neville nods and leads him away. It’s heavy steps that Remus takes, even now that he doesn’t need to be held up any more, because his body knows just how much it’s walking away from. But he needs to. He needs to make sure that these children, these fearless kids, that they’re alright. They did what they could and it’s only fair if he does the same. 

 

-

 

Remus doesn’t know what he should do. Dumbledore stands there, together with Fudge and discloses everything that has happened right under his nose while he pretended it wasn’t, and while he’d like to shout at him, to make him understand how much he screwed up, Dumbledore stays calm and collected. It must be easy for him, Remus thinks bitterly, when he had disappeared for so long and didn’t realize just how much all that did to all of them. 

He doesn’t even see them anymore. Instead, his vision’s gone foggy, forcing the two men into two blobs of colour. There’s more people hurrying around, running from one end of the hall to the other, but they’re only schemes, too. It’s medi-wizards and politicians, nobody of importance. Harry has already been sent back to Hogwarts, where he is supposedly safe, and Remus cannot even make himself scoff at how well it worked before. 

“Remus,” comes a dark voice form the side. He doesn’t look back to Kingsley, can’t make himself do it. Instead, he keeps staring ahead without seeing anything. “Remus, are you okay?”

“Yes.” He is. There’s nothing that healers can do for him. There never has been, even when he got bitten all these years ago and they tried to save him. No, the only people who had ever made him feel better were now all dead, except for Peter, but he might as well be. About him, Remus doesn’t care, but he feels the emptiness in his whole chest, as if someone had clawed into it and taken everything out of him. 

“I-- I’m sorry,” Kingsley says, sounding small. It’s so unusual that only now Remus remembers that he, oo, had lost a battle against Bellatrix. Not as fatally, of course. “Sirius, he--”

Remus flinches at the name, so much that he starts to tumble again. “Don’t,” he forces out, shaking his head.

There’s something in Kingley’s face close to raw hurt when Remus finally looks at him, almost as if he felt something real, too. He’d been a frequent at Grimmauld Place, gotten along with Sirius, too, so maybe they were friends, Remus isn’t sure. Maybe he does feel Sirius’ death as well, but there’s no comparing it. There can’t be a skala for this.

“I’m sorry,” Kingsley says again. For a moment, it seems like he wants to reach out for him, but he drops his hand immediately again. He shuffles back to where Dumbledore and Fudge are still talking. 

Remus sinks back against the wall and down to the ground, looking into their direction. There’s no clear thoughts in his mind and a dull voice suggests that it’s for the better. He can feel every shaky breath go through his lungs, reminding him that he is still going while Sirius isn’t and-- Finally, he starts to sob. Automatically, he pulls his legs up to his chest and hugs them, dropping his face into his limbs, and he cries. 

Years ago, he had thought he’d lived through the worst night of his life. He’d lost his best friend, and thought that Sirius was a traitor and now, today, there is the proof of the opposite and it’s even more of a loss. There’s been hope, promises of the future, and so much love in the last few months, more than he’s felt in years and now-- Sirius is gone and with him all the happiness in the world and there isn’t even an evidence of it anymore now that his body vanished, too, and Remus can’t even think of anything-- His breaths grow more rapid, clawing at his chest to make it burst open finally and he can’t take it anymore--

“Lupin.” This time it’s Moody’s voice. It’s still an order, just like everything he says is, but it sounds softer to his ears than ever before. “Get yourself up from there, boy. Reporters will be here any second now and I suggest you disappear before.”

The rational part of Remus agrees. He doesn’t need to have any attention drawn to him, especially not now. He untangles himself and wipes the tears away. Nodding as he gets up. “I’ll--”

“Not Grimmauld Place,” Moody cuts in. He shakes his head at the surprise in Remus’ face. It would have made sense to get back there. It’s been his home for the past year, it’s where everything is, including the memories and Sirius’ things-- Doesn’t he see that? Doesn’t he realize Remus needs to recover them before his heart-- His heart, what? Breaks? It’s long past that now. “We don’t know who the next heir is. Could be any of that lot. ‘S not safe with him d--”

“What,” Remus breathes. Sirius is - was - the last of the Black name, wasn’t he? Does it really belong to anyone now that he is gone? Who would have it now, who’s the closest blood relative? Is that how it works? His mind races, confused by all the strange wizard laws once again. He groans, remembering the talk he’s had with him about it. 

“We don’t know,” Moody answers decidedly. His eye wanders over Remus’ body and he wonders if it can look inside of him, see the shatters there. “You cannot go there.”

“I-- Where else--” Remus starts. “I don’t have a home.” Not anymore, not now that it’s vanished right in front of his eyes. It doesn’t matter that his things are still at Grimmauld Place, what matters is that Sirius isn’t.

Moody puts his hand on Remus’ shoulder, just like Kingsley had meant to earlier. “Go to the Burrow. Get some rest and then we’ll plan ahead.” Of course there’ll be a plan. The fight isn’t over, it’s only just started. It’s what they’d waited for this whole time, so of course they need to carry on. There’s no break, no time to mourn.

Remus can’t do this, he realizes now. He doesn’t have the energy, not anymore. What should he keep fighting for now? But he cannot say any of this; they all don’t understand what it’s like for him, not really. They all think he lost his friend, the last one of those, and that’s why it’s so devastating. They don’t know half of the truth. And they’ll never do. It will stay inside of him because if he ever tells someone, he truly won’t recover. 

He swallows and nods at Moody, listening to his instructions about using the floo with half an ear. There’s not much else he can do, not now, and probably not ever.