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A Conspiracy of Cartographers: Year Two [+podfic]

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Dear Remus,

How perfectly dreadful! I know Black can be obnoxious sometimes (no offence meant, you know I'm right) but for him to treat you like that when you're meant to be friends! It's disgusting. It really is. I'd have thought he was better than that at least.

I'm so sorry you had to go through something like that. It's not fair. You don't deserve it. No one does. Well, maybe Black. I'd completely understand if you never wanted to speak to him again. Do you think this will make things really awkward in your dormitory next year? That's the only reason I can see to try and patch things up after him making a scene like that.

Don't let it get to you, though. You don't need friends like him. You've still got me. And from what you said in your letter, it doesn't sound like Potter thought very much of the way Black was acting either. Good for him. Has he written to you at all?

I've been feeling sort of down since we left school. Sev and I aren't really speaking after the way he tried to hex you the last week of term, so it's just been me and Petty this past week. I wish he could learn to let things go. I hope he grows out of it someday once he figures out it never ends well. If he gives me a chance, I will talk to him again about leaving you and your friends alone. Well, maybe not Black. I'd have hexed him for you if I'd been there.

I miss you so much. If you were here right now, I'd give you such a hug! I wish I could come see you, but my parents have this stupid new rule about how I'm not allowed to go to boys' houses anymore, not even Sev's. Can you believe it? We're going down to Brighton in a couple of days, or I'd invite you to come over here, and I've already got plans to visit Dorcas once we get back. I'll find some time for you later this summer, though, I promise!

Take care of yourself and try not to let stupid people get to you.


Remus lay on his bed, glowering at his mother's copy of The Princess Bride, not reading. He wasn't feeling in the mood for Morgenstern's satire on the politics of obscure European principalities. He had been not reading for five days now, but he had only been glowering for two. Before that, he had moped, wallowed, sulked, and brooded, in that order, but had found none of those moods to be any improvement upon the others.

His only respite had come with Lily's answer to the hopeless, angry screed he had sent her upon his return from the Black residence, to which Remus had not yet found the will to reply. Peter's brief letter, in which his friend had pretended nothing had happened, had not helped at all.

At first, Remus had just wanted to hide, barely coming out of his room except for meals, and hardly speaking to his family. But as the days passed and no explanation or apology from his putative friend had been forthcoming, Remus had grown angrier and angrier. At Sirius for being a pure-blood snob. At James and Peter for their tacit acceptance of the status quo. But most of all, at himself for forgetting what the world was really like and for thinking he had a place in it, even for a moment.

He wouldn't make that mistake again. Every time Remus closed his eyes, he saw the scornful face of Sirius Black telling him what an embarrassment he was -- telling him how he had proven Sirius's parents right about half-bloods. Remus could only be thankful that Sirius had never found out his secret. The treatment he might expect if anyone ever discovered he was a werewolf would be ten times worse. The only people Remus could count on were his family, and his family were driving him mad.

As if summoned by the thought, the door to Remus's bedroom creaked open and his mother stuck her head in. "Do you need anything, Sweetheart?" she asked with a worried frown.

Remus slammed the book shut and bounced off the bed to storm past her. "I'm going for a walk."

"Don't stay out too long," she called after him.

Because you'll turn into a monster and kill someone, and then where will we be? he mentally finished for her. Sometimes he wondered morbidly if just giving in to the wolf would simplify his life at all.

He strode down the country lane, shoulders hunched, hands in his pockets, glumly kicking at stones and longing for a return of the rain to chill his moon-fevered skin. They didn't understand -- they couldn't -- what it was like for him, and Remus had no patience left to try to explain it. He almost welcomed the distraction of the coming moon, though swapping one sort of misery for another did not seem like much improvement.

He thought about skipping supper, which was always a tense meal right before moonrise, and going directly to the cellar to lock himself in for the night, but by the time he turned homewards, he was ravenously hungry.

His nine-year-old sister Natalie was in the dining room when he came in, setting the table. She gave him a tightlipped look, but said nothing, continuing to dole out cutlery to the four place settings. Normally the first to rally to her brother's side, she had not said a word to him since he had ordered her out of his room five days before. Remus cast himself into his usual chair and heaved a world-weary sigh. Natalie ignored him.

"Oh, good. You're back." Remus's mother gave him a falsely bright smile and set the casserole she was carrying down on a trivet. "Your father should be home any minute."

Remus's father Marcellus Lupin had trained in Care of Magical Creatures, and until Remus turned six and was bitten by a werewolf, he had worked for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. The Ministry of Magic, however, had declared Remus's lycanthropy a "conflict of interests", and had let Mr Lupin go. Since that time, Remus's father had taken a string of short-term, low-paying Muggle jobs to support his family. This summer, he was without employment yet again, and had been going door to door, offering his services as a pet groomer and minder, besides performing odd jobs with the help of a little surreptitious magic. Remus's mother Sylvia had picked up the shortfall in their income, taking a part-time job behind the till at a local shop. Money was tight, but they would manage somehow. They always had.

Remus laid his head down on the table. He could feel a throbbing headache beginning behind his eyes, and closed them. He heard the sound of liquid being poured as Natalie filled the glasses, the kitchen door opening and closing, his parents greeting one another, their voices dropping to murmurs.

They were talking about him. Remus knew it. Even with his heightened senses, he could not make out the words, but he knew what was being said, and his jaw tightened as he imagined his tired father saying, "Remus, might I have a word with you?"

Instead, the footsteps that entered the dining room were followed by a hand on his shoulder. The touch made him flinch in spite of its gentleness.

"If you're tired, son, you don't have to take supper."

Remus sat up, answering with a noncommittal grunt. His mother and Natalie brought in the dishes of peas and fresh-baked bread as Marcellus sat down across from his son, regarding him with the same worried frown his wife had worn earlier. Remus didn't want to see it, and looked down at his plate instead.

Dinner was served, and grace was said, with no more than a mumbled "Amen" required of Remus. His father regaled them with the antics of a well-known, ill-mannered local dog it had been his misfortune to walk and bathe that day.

"And after all that, Mr Stevens had the gall to tell me that three pounds is tantamount to daylight robbery. Asked me if I'd take two," Marcellus finished, forking a boiled potato into his mouth.

"I hope you told him you would not!" cried Sylvia indignantly.

Marcellus gave his wife a smile and covered her hand with his. "Not to worry, dear; I insisted. And I told him it would be four next time if the damn thing bites me again."

Remus ground his teeth together and wondered how they could talk so blithely about poorly-behaved, biting canines when he was sitting right there. He kept his eyes down and steadily shoveled food into his mouth, wishing that his father had taken those three pounds and invested in a little red meat. The casserole had chicken in it, but that wasn't what he craved just now.

"How was your day, son?" his father asked, tone carefully light. "Do anything interesting?"

"Fine," he mumbled around a mouthful of peas, adding in an undertone, "Better if people stopped pestering me."

Marcellus's mouth tightened. "Remus, we've talked before about controlling your temper. You have to remember it's just the moon's influence making you feel --"

"The moon can bloody well go get stuffed!" Remus burst out, nearly upsetting his water glass.

"Language, Remus," his mother warned.

Remus ignored her, glaring at his father instead.

Marcellus gave his son a steady look. "I hope you're doing better than this at keeping your emotions in check at school, son," he said evenly. "You could find yourself in very real trouble if you're not."

"Sod school!" Remus growled. "I'm home now, aren't I? The one place in the world where I don't have to hide and lie about being a wizard or a half-blood or a bloodthirsty monster! Why should I have to worry about control here? I'm not some stupid dog that's going to bite you because it doesn't know any better."

"No," Marcellus said calmly. "You don't have to hide here. We're your family, and we love you no matter what. But you do need to show a little common courtesy."

"Well, maybe I would if you'd show me some," Remus snapped. "Can't you people see that all I want is to be left alone?"

"A fine way to speak to your own father!" his mother cried.

"Let me handle this, Syl," his father said quietly, not taking his eyes off his son. "Remus is upset. I understand that. But, son, you need to understand that this is neither an appropriate nor a constructive way of handling these feelings. I'm sorry to have to say this, Remus, but if I don't see some improvement in your attitude before the July and August moons, I'm going to have second thoughts about whether school is the best place for you after all."

"What makes you think I even want to go back there?" Remus snarled. "You think I want to see Sirius bloody Black's stupid face every day? Hear him tell me how worthless I am? Why should I even bother with school when life's never going to get any better no matter what I do? How can I be part of a world that treats me like dirt for being a half-blood? Because you know it's going to be a million times worse when they find out what I really am!"

"You don't mean that, Remus," said Marcellus coolly.

"Don't I?" Remus challenged. "You know I'm right. You think I don't remember how those people at the Ministry looked at me? It doesn't matter what I do; I'm always going to be scum."

"Remus," sighed his father, scrubbing a hand through his brown hair. "There's no point arguing about this right now. We can talk about it later."

Remus had opened his mouth for another scathing reply when his mother gave a startled exclamation.

"Natalie, what --?"

Remus turned to see his sister standing in the doorway. He hadn't even noticed her leave the room. Her brown eyes shone with determination, and between her hands, she held his wand.

"I'll break it," she said, eyes fixed on her brother's. "I swear I will."

"Now, Nat," their father warned, half rising from his seat.

"Why not?" Her voice quavered, but rang with defiance. "He doesn't want it. He said so. Didn't you? You said you didn't want to go back to school. If you're not going to be a wizard, you don't need this."

Remus growled low in his throat and advanced a step towards the girl. "You give me that right this minute, Bratalie." How could she, of all people, betray him like this?

"Remus John Lupin!" cried their mother. "I have told you before, you are never to call your sister that!"

Natalie did not give an inch. "If you touch me, I'll break it," she warned again.

He stopped short. It wasn't her words that halted him, but her fear. It didn't show in her voice or on her face, but she was trembling, and Remus could smell it on her. In all of his six years as a werewolf, he could not remember his sister ever being afraid of him.

"You get to be a wizard, Remus," she said fiercely, blinking back the tears she wouldn't let fall. "You get to go to Hogwarts and learn magic and do all kinds of things I can't, and you're swanning about like it's the end of the world just because one of your idiot friends said something stupid. If you'd stop feeling sorry for yourself for a second, maybe you'd remember that you've still got me, and you've got Lily and James and Peter. Or aren't we as good as being friends with Sirius Black?"

Remus stared at her, lost for words. "Nat --" he said at last, plaintively, stretching out a hand to her. "Don't -- don't break it."

"Remus --" His father was behind him, a hand on his shoulder. "It's almost sunset," he said gently.

He swallowed heavily, eyes flicking back and forth between his fierce-eyed sister and grim-faced mother. The back of his neck was beginning to prickle. He could feel the wolf coming.

Without another word, he stumbled past Natalie and out of the room. Behind him, he heard his sister's sob, and his father's affectionate murmur. "My brave lioness."

Pain. Cold. Dark. Hard. Sharp.

His father's voice. "Come on, Love. Time for bed."

Then quite a lot more pain because he was being moved, but there were also his father's arms, warm, supporting, carrying him.

"Sorry, Dad," he mumbled. "Sorry. Didn't mean it. Love you."

"Shhh. I know, son. Hush, now."

Grey dawn light stabbing needles into his eyes, into his brain. Eyelids squeezed shut against it. His bed, soft beneath him. Cool ointment. His mother's calloused hands, soothing.

"Sorry," he whispered again.

His father's hand, cool on his forehead. A gentle caress. Voice filled with exhaustion, filled with fondness.

"I love that you've got fire in you, son. You just need to find better ways to use it."

Someday, Remus wouldn't be twelve and skinny and his father wouldn't be able to carry him anymore. And that, Remus thought as he sank into sleep, would be the saddest day of all.

Remus knew it was a dream, because the dog wasn't real. It never had been.

"Padfoot!" he called. "Padfoot, where are you?"

When he was small, the great black dog had visited his dreams often, playing with him all night long and protecting him from nightmares. Then Remus had met the wolf, and he had not dreamed of his furry protector again until the previous year when he had started at Hogwarts. But the dreams he had now were different from those of his childhood. The dog never appeared, though Remus knew it was somewhere nearby, hiding just out of sight. If he could only find it --

"Padfoot!" he called again, stumbling through the darkness. Surely the dog had been there only a moment before.

"Remus, are you OK?"

Remus cracked an eye open and beheld the fuzzy, blonde outline of his sister. "Morning, Nat," he whispered, wincing as the words crackled in his dry, scratchy throat.

"Afternoon actually, Sleepy," she said. Her smile was hesitant. "I wouldn't've woken you, but there's an owl."

He sat up too quickly and had to clutch at his swimming head to keep it on his shoulders. "Wha-what colour is it? The owl?"

Natalie's pale eyebrows drew together in concern. "Brown and sort of fluffy. Why?"

Annoyed with himself for wanting the bird to be Midnight, Remus picked up the small scroll of parchment that his sister had dropped onto his bed. He broke the seal, but hesitated before unrolling it.

"Nat -- you didn't actually break my wand last night, did you?" The memory was confused and disjointed.

"Of course not, silly." She rolled her eyes.

Remus sighed with relief. "Oh. Good."

"Not that you didn't deserve it," she added, crawling up onto the bed beside him.

"I know." He lowered his eyes, ashamed. "I'm sorry, Nat. I shouldn't've yelled."

"Who's the letter from?" she asked rather than reply.

Remus unrolled the scroll and glanced at it. "James," he said.


Just writing to invite you over for a few days, if you're up for it. Before you crumple this up and throw it away, I promise my folks are ace and they don't give a toss about stupid things like blood purity. I don't blame you for leaving. I hated it there, too, but someone had to stay and knock some sense into Sirius.

It's only fair I should warn you that he's here, too. I hope that doesn't put you off coming. If he starts being an arse again, I promise I will personally punch him in the face, but I don't think he will. I think he knows what a tosser he was, and I think he's sorry for it. He might even tell you so if you come.

Anyway, let me know. Mum and Dad say you're welcome anytime.


P.S., I've got your overnight bag. Thought you might want to come get that, at least.

Remus shook his head. "He wants me to come over for a few days."

"Told you you still had friends," said Natalie. "You should go."

He sighed. "Sirius is there, too."

"So?" she challenged. "Are you scared of him or something?"

"No, it's just --" Remus waved the parchment helplessly. "What if he makes a scene again?"

His sister gave him an intelligence-questioning look. "Just tell him to stop being a git and walk away."

Remus couldn't help but smile. "I wish I was as brave as you, Nat. You can glare down a werewolf, and I can't even look a spoiled brat in the eye."

"Course you can," she insisted. "I'd do it for you."

Ignoring his aching muscles, Remus wrapped his little sister in a fierce hug, making her squeak.

"I know you would," he told the top of her head. "I wish you could come to Hogwarts, Nat. You'd be a Gryffindor for sure."

Natalie wanted to go with them, but they couldn't afford the extra Floo powder, so it was just Remus and his father who arrived in the Potters' sitting room in Godric's Hollow four days later. Remus had showed his parents James's letter, and while they were relieved to hear that the Potters were likely nothing like the Black family, Marcellus had still insisted upon meeting them in person.

James was lounging on the sofa, reading a Quidditch magazine, when they arrived. Remus was relieved to see that Sirius was nowhere in sight. His friend flashed him a grin before hurrying over to the front door.

"Mum!" he called, leaning out. "They're here!"

A plump black woman came in, dusting her hands off on her skirt. "Sorry; I was just in the garden. It's been too wet to plant the fairy flax before now. Eleanor Potter."

She shook hands with Remus and his father, beaming at them both. Remus was surprised to find that he was almost as tall as James's mother.

"A pleasure to meet you, Remus. And this will be your father?"

"Marcellus Lupin," Remus's father introduced himself.

"So young and handsome," Mrs Potter dimpled up at him, making Marcellus's ears turn pink. "I was probably long gone from Hogwarts by the time you got there."

"Mum!" cried James, scandalised.

"Oh, hush, you," she said, smacking her son lightly on the back of the head. "Your mother's not dead yet."

Marcellus cleared his throat. "It's all right if Remus stays for a few days, then?"

"Any friend of Jamie's is welcome to stay for as long as he likes."

Remus couldn't help smiling into Mrs Potter's dancing hazel eyes. "I'll be fine, Dad. You can go home."

"Have a good time, son." Remus's father gave him a one-armed hug. "Owl us if you need anything, and try to be home in a week or so."

Mrs Potter took down an alabaster dish from the mantelpiece and offered it to him. "Thank you for letting us borrow Remus, Mr Lupin. My husband sends his apologies for not being here to greet you, but you know what they say about Aurors' hours."

"All the clock can hold and more," Marcellus acknowledged with a wry smile. "I'm glad to know Remus is in good hands. A pleasure to meet you, Mrs Potter, James." He nodded to each of them in turn before vanishing in a whirling flash of green.

"Jamie, why don't you show Remus where to put his things?" said Mrs Potter. "Is lamb all right with you boys for supper tonight?"

Remus's mouth began to water despite the fact that he had eaten lunch just before leaving home. "Lamb sounds wonderful, Mrs Potter."

His friend's mother returned to her garden, and James beckoned Remus towards the stairs, then hesitated.

"He's up in my room playing Gobstones with Pete," James said, answering Remus's unasked question.

"Pete's here, too?" Remus wasn't surprised, but it was easier than asking anything about Sirius.

James nodded, grinning. "He got here two days ago. Sirius has already kicked him out of the guest room for snoring. Says he has to listen to it all year when at least there's two sets of drapes between them, and he shouldn't have to hear it all summer, too."

"So -- where am I sleeping?"

James bit his lip. "Yeah. I wanted to talk to you about that. Pete's staying on the sofa down here now, and I've only got a single bed. If you're not OK sharing the guest room, you can have mine, and I'll bunk up with Sirius."

Remus hesitated. "I don't want to kick you out of your own room. What did he say about it?"

"He says at least you don't snore," James shrugged. "He knows he was an arse, you know. He wants to change."

"Yeah, well, I guess we'll see," mumbled Remus.

"Guest room?" James raised his eyebrows inquiringly.

"S'pose so. For now."

He followed James up the stairs, down a narrow hallway, and into a small room containing little besides a wardrobe, nightstand, and a double bed, spread with a large red and gold afghan.

"You can throw your things in the wardrobe, if you like," said James. "We'll be just down the hall."

Remus found the overnight bag he'd left in his precipitous departure from number twelve, Grimmauld Place in the wardrobe, and began slowly unpacking it and the clothes he had brought with him, chiding himself for feeling so nervous. His mouth was dry and his palms were damp and he sensed the presence in the doorway behind him before the other boy spoke.


"Hey." Remus did not look up, but carefully shook out a shirt and hung it in the wardrobe, hoping he didn't look as edgy as he felt.

"How've you been?" He could hear the uneven shuffle of Sirius's feet.

"All right."

"You never wrote."

Remus glanced up in surprise. Sirius was leaning against the doorframe, looking entirely unlike himself in rolled-up denims and a too-small tee-shirt, hands in his pockets, staring at his shoes. It was hard for Remus to believe this was the same boy who had mocked and sneered at him not ten days before.

"Neither did you," Remus reminded him carefully.

"Didn't figure you'd want to hear from me." Sirius raised grey eyes to meet Remus's and took a visible breath. "I was a complete prat. I don't want to be like that."

A reluctant smile tugged at the corner of Remus's mouth to see the usually self-possessed Sirius Black looking so off-balance. "I don't really want you to be like that either."

"I'm glad you decided to come." Sirius's eyes were back on the floor. "I just wanted to say -- I know what I'm like, and it's nothing to do with you."

And that, Remus thought, was all the apology he was ever likely to get. He nodded his acceptance as his hand closed around the crinkle of paper, deep in his overnight bag. He pulled the object out and turned it over in his hands.

"Here," he said, holding it out to the other boy. "I meant to give it to you for your birthday, but -- I guess I forgot."

Sirius stared at him, openmouthed. "You got me a present?"

"It's nothing," Remus told him, dropping the small package into the other boy's outstretched hand. "I just -- thought you might like it."

He watched nervously as Sirius tore off the paper and stared at the brass-handled pocketknife. It was probably the least-fancy gift anyone had ever given him.

"My dad gave me one when I turned ten," Remus explained. "He said every boy should have one, and I thought maybe you didn't. There's a sharpening charm on the blade, so it'll never go dull. I'm sorry it's not very good, I just didn't know what else to --"

Sirius was shaking his head slowly back and forth. "I'm a complete tosser." He looked up, lost. "It's brilliant. I love it. Remus, I --"

Remus took a stunned half-step back as Sirius blundered into him, throwing his arms haphazardly around Remus's neck.

"You should be punching me in the face," Sirius mumbled into his shoulder, "not giving me presents."

Hesitantly, Remus patted his friend on the shoulder. "Maybe. But I think I like this way better."

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing games in James's room, which, once Remus saw the riot of moving Quidditch posters on the walls, he was glad he had turned down. James and Peter both seemed relieved to see their friends reconciled, but neither boy said a word about it, James merely grinning at both of them as he explained to Remus the rules to a boardgame involving Norse deities.

It was quite a simple game, once Remus got the hang of it, and his Vidar quickly began to beat James's Baldr, Sirius's Hodr and Peter's Loki. James and Sirius protested his wins vociferously, demanding rematch after rematch until Mrs Potter called them down for supper.

The roast lamb was delicious. While his own parents did their best to put enough food on the table, there was rarely as much protein as a growing werewolf needed, and he had to try very hard not to stuff himself at the Potters' table. Even so, Mrs Potter beamed and complimented his appetite as she served him a third helping of the tender meat.

Mr Potter, who had arrived home just before supper, looked a lot like his son, and was every bit as friendly as his wife, courteously asking Remus questions about himself, which Remus did his best to answer between mouthfuls. They and James and even Peter made Remus feel almost at home.

He was still feeling awkward around Sirius, who hadn't said much to him since their clumsy hug in the guest room. However, Sirius's demeanor around James's parents went a long way to warming Remus's feelings towards his prodigal friend. The dark-haired boy was not just on his best behaviour, saying "please" and "thank you" to everything, but seemed to hang on the Potters' every word, shyly calling Mrs Potter "Mum" when he thanked her for the sticky toffee pudding she brought out after the meal. Like a stray who's finally found a good home, he thought, amused.

"Aren't James's parents brilliant?" whispered Sirius later that night in the darkness of the guest bedroom. "His mum gave me this blanket." He tugged at the red and gold bedspread.

"They seem really nice," Remus agreed, gazing up at the ceiling.

"Better than nice," Sirius's sleepy voice was full of unguarded affection. "Dad -- Mr Potter -- he took us to the Quidditch the other day. Did James tell you?"

Remus shook his head. "I guess they must be pretty amazing. They put up with you, after all." He bit his tongue, suddenly unsure whether they were on firm enough ground for the easy teasing they had once enjoyed.

Much to Remus's relief, Sirius chuckled. "Yeah, they do, don't they? But so do you."

"Looks like," said Remus, wondering if there was anyone Sirius Black couldn't charm if he had a mind to. Snape, maybe.

"Y'know," slurred Sirius, "f'I dint already have a bes' mate ...."

Remus left the thought unanswered, and within minutes, Sirius's breathing had taken on the slow rhythm of sleep. Although Remus was tired, too, he found it harder to relax into oblivion.

To sleep beside another person was an act of trust, and he knew he had been foolish to trust someone like Sirius. Sirius would always run hot and cold. It was his nature, as much as caution was Remus's. But that was part of what drew him to the other boy. He was so very different from Remus that he was like an exotic species. It was always all or nothing with him -- there were no half measures -- and Remus could not help admiring that just a little.

Sirius asleep was a very different prospect from Sirius awake. Awake, he was in perpetual motion, overflowing with energy and exuberance. Asleep, his presence was strangely comforting, undemanding. It was almost like having his sister there, or Lily, or maybe a dog. He slept easily and bonelessly beside Remus. Clearly trust was not a problem for him.

He wouldn't if he knew, the small cold voice at the back of Remus's thoughts reminded him.

If Sirius or the others ever found out his secret, the scene at Grimmauld Place would be the least of it. They weren't like Lily, who had accepted him without question, even after he had been forced to tell her the truth. She was Muggleborn. They were pure-bloods, who had been raised with prejudice against his kind since before they could walk.

Remus had known since he accepted his place at Hogwarts that he could be found out at any time, and that if he was, the extreme likelihood was that he would be sent home in disgrace. But somehow he had never considered how his friends might react upon finding out he was a werewolf -- finding out he had lied to them. He could easily imagine Sirius scornful and mocking. Hatred he was prepared for, but what about violence? There were three of them. Would they be too afraid to attack him? Would they be too afraid not to? Remus might be able to defend himself against them, but would he? That was a scenario he could not picture, and did not want to.

He looked over at Sirius, who had flopped himself over onto Remus's arm. Pins and needles were beginning to twinge in his fingers, but he was reluctant to move and risk waking the sleeping boy. He realised how precious Sirius's friendship, and the friendship of his other roommates, had become to him, even as he acknowledged that those treasured connections were too fragile to survive the discovery of his secret.

Don't get too attached, he told himself. Enjoy it while it lasts, but don't depend on it. You know it's only temporary. You and Lily may be friends forever, and you've always got Nat and Mum and Dad. But Sirius and the others -- they're just friends for now.