Work Header

A Conspiracy of Cartographers: Year Two [+podfic]

Chapter Text

"Observation." Professor Gandolfsson's eyes pierced each of his audience in turn. "The key to successful defence. The key to survival. Observe. Anticipate. Outwit."

It was Tuesday morning, and as usual, the second year Gryffindors and Slytherins were seated in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, warily eyeing their professor, in case he should fire an unexpected hex at one of their number. Or rather, not entirely unexpected. Not anymore.

It had been shocking and exciting the first few times it had happened, but they were five weeks into term now, and while there were occasional quiet bets placed on whether anyone would end up in the hospital wing that week, the thrill of it had worn off. Seeing a Slytherin get what was coming to them might be satisfying, but spending an entire morning being ranted at by Madam Pomfrey about "some people's irresponsible teaching methods" was not.

It was lucky that Professor Tynedale had spent so much time drilling shield charms into them the previous year. So far, Sirius had only suffered one rather humiliating Densaugeo, but that was quite enough for him.

"The trouble with you lot," Gandolfsson continued, "is that you don't see a thing unless someone shoves it under your noses and says 'Oi, you, look at this,' and even then, more often than not, you miss what's important about it. You're too used to the classroom environment -- being spoon-fed information and told what to think, so you can spit it back out when exams come around.

"You can't learn observation that way. Observation requires the ability to think for yourself -- to notice things about people and your surroundings that will give you the advantage and help you survive. Whether any of you are capable of that, I don't know. I'll wager no one's ever asked you to try before. People generally prefer children to do as they're told, and then they're surprised when those children grow into adults who die in their first real confrontation because they've misjudged the situation or the environment or their opponent."

His floating carpet drifted slowly between the rows of desks, and the students shifted nervously in their seats as he passed. It was difficult to take notes for this class because one had to be ready to drop one's quill and grab one's wand at a second's notice. Gandolfsson didn't approve of note-taking, in any case. He had informed them more than once that what he hoped to teach them would only ever be of use to them if they "internalised" it, whatever that meant. "An enemy won't give you time to check your notes," he said scornfully.

Sirius was not taking notes. He wasn't paying much attention to what Gandolfsson was saying, either. Instead, he was watching Remus, casting furtive glances at him from beneath his eyelashes every minute or so.

He had been watching Remus for over a week now, ever since their late-night talk, wondering how he had misjudged things so badly. He had expected Remus to be relieved to discover that he didn't have to hide his secret from his friends, but Remus had been terrified, and since that night, his performance in class had suffered. He had a tendency to start and drop things whenever anyone spoke sharply to him or even called his name unexpectedly.

That night had also forged a connection between the two of them that Sirius felt as an almost physical pull. He wondered if Remus felt it, too. Sometimes it seemed as if Remus could feel Sirius watching him, and their eyes would meet. Sirius would flash him a reassuring grin, and Remus would answer it with a sickly attempt at a smile. He had only wanted to make Remus feel better, but somehow, it hadn't worked out that way.

"Observable phenomena," said Gandolfsson. "Black."

The Defence master's carpet halted inches from Sirius.

"Sir?" Sirius asked, sitting up straighter.

Gandolfsson pursed his thin lips. "In simple terms, for your benefit: something you can tell about a person by looking at them."

"Er -- how old they are?"

"Correct. If a bit weak." The professor's tone suggested that he had expected no better from Sirius. He moved away, leaving Sirius to scowl at his back. "Someone else. Evans."

"They could be wearing a wedding ring," suggested the red-haired girl.

"Typical female answer, but again, correct, so far as it goes. Rings can be removed, but if worn regularly they may leave a groove or pale mark around the base of the finger. Lestrange."

"You can tell if someone's quality or not by their clothes. Usually." Rabastan Lestrange cast a sneering glance in Sirius's direction. "Like how you can tell Lupin's a Mudblood from the state of his robes alone."

Sirius shot the big Slytherin a poisonous look. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Remus's shoulders hunch, his knuckles whitening around his quill. Any other professor would have given an instant detention to a student who used that word in their classroom, but Gandolfsson had yet to assign a detention for any reason.

"That may be," said Gandolfsson mildly. "But when private observations become common knowledge, you lose any advantage you might otherwise have had. Learn to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut, Mr Lestrange."

Lestrange turned a furious red, and Sirius relaxed slightly. Perhaps he and James would concoct some brilliant vengeance later for the insult to their friend.

Gandolfsson had meanwhile drifted back to the front of the classroom. "Economic status, blood status; the quality and style of clothing and grooming habits can often provide clues to these things, but are not foolproof. In the end, one can only guess. But the better you are at observation, the more clues you are able to gather, and gather quickly, the closer your guesses are likely to come to the truth.

"Now. Environment. You've attended classes in this room for over a year now, I believe. Tell me, if an attack came through that door," he waved his maimed hand at the entrance to the classroom, "how would you escape? Rosier."

"Stupefy is always a good one, Sir," said the curly-haired Slytherin. "Though personally I like --"

Gandolfsson's carpet slid forwards until he was nose-to-nose with his quarry. "I didn't ask what you'd do if the first year Hufflepuffs rushed in armed only with spoons, Rosier," he growled. "I'm talking about adults who are here to kill children. You need to get out, and fast. How do you do it?"

Rosier closed his mouth and glanced around nervously for inspiration. "Er -- the windows, Sir?"

"Do they open?"

"I don't know, Sir."

Gandolfsson turned away, disgusted.

"You could just break them," said Sirius.

The carpet span around, and piercing eyes glared straight into Sirius. "What's the charm for removing an obstruction from one's path?" he demanded.

"I don't remember it, Sir," gritted Sirius, willing himself not to lean away. "But you could smash them with a chair or something."

Gandolfsson gave him a long, measured look before nodding once in what looked oddly like approval. "Very good, Black. Not a solution that would occur to most pure-bloods. Of course, you're still left with the problem of how to reach the ground or one of the towers safely." He turned away. "Other exits. Potter."

Not wishing to be outdone by his best friend, James had raised his hand. "There could be a hidden door somewhere, Sir. The castle's full of them, isn't it?" He pointed towards a poorly-executed tapestry of a dragon that hung on the back wall of the classroom. "Maybe there."

"Pettigrew, if you would?" said Gandolfsson, raising his eyebrows at Peter, who was seated nearest the tapestry.

Peter almost knocked his chair over in his haste as he leapt up and tugged the hanging aside to reveal a low door, iron-studded and barely three feet high. A couple of people gasped. Gandolfsson did not seem surprised by the discovery, however.

"Correct, Potter. Very good. It's vital to identify all exits and potential danger spots in any environment. You should know them without thinking in the places you frequent regularly. Your assignment for next Tuesday's class is to make a list of ten observations about this school and its environs that are useful from a defensive standpoint. The more specific, the better. And now, desks away --"

Everyone hurriedly stood as Gandolfsson waved his wand, whisking desks and chairs to the edges of the classroom. It was his usual habit to use the second half of Tuesday's double lesson for duelling practise, or as he called it, defence drills.

Sirius stepped closer to James, eyes flicking towards Remus once more. The brown-haired boy clutched his wand and stared unhappily at the floor. For the most part, Gandolfsson let the class choose their duelling partners, though he scoffed at any boys who chose to work with girls. He insisted, however, on pairing Remus with Snape, saying that they could only benefit from working together. While Remus excelled at Defence, Snape was fast and knew a number of nasty jinxes. Snape did not look any happier with the arrangement than Remus, and Sirius hoped that Remus's current state of distraction would not land him in the hospital wing again, as it had the previous Tuesday, with slugs pouring from his mouth.

Lily Evans, who would normally have paired off with either Snape or Remus, gave Gandolfsson's back a disgruntled look, and stalked off to stand with Dorcas Meadowes. Peter, blushing and looking rather forlorn, hurried over to Matilda Hathersage. Sirius smirked. While Peter liked girls, he was also terrified of them, but not as terrified as he was of the Slytherins.

Once everyone had selected their duelling partners, they moved apart, to opposite sides of the classroom, facing off. Sirius found a place near Remus and muttered, "All right?" under his breath.

Remus jumped, his wand clattering to the floor. "Fine," he mumbled, retrieving it, red-eared.

But Gandolfsson had seen. "What the hell was that, Lupin? Do you want to be an Auror, or do you want to die in your first fight?"

The flush spread from the neck of Remus's robes to his hairline. "Sorry, Sir. Won't happen again."

But the additional blow to his confidence did Remus no good at all. His shield charms were weak, and a couple of times, Sirius had to contrive to stumble in front of him, so that his own shield would deflect Snape's hex.

Sirius himself was having no better luck with James. With his attention divided, James managed to disarm him repeatedly, and blast him off his feet half a dozen times.

"Focus, Black!" bawled Gandolfsson from the front of the classroom, where he presided over the chaos. "Keep your damn eyes on your opponent!"

Sirius clenched his jaw as they switched, James performing shield charms to deflect Sirius's jinxes. So Sirius was quite surprised when he ended up flat on his back, head throbbing from where it had hit the edge of a desk.

"Are you OK?" Remus knelt over him, looking concerned.

"Yeah." He sat up. "What happened?"

"Snape," Remus muttered.

Sirius rubbed the back of his head, glancing across the room to where Snape's cold black eyes regarded him.

"Oops," said the Slytherin dispassionately. "Guess I missed."

Gandolfsson had either not noticed Snape's "slip" or else did not care. "Up!" he bellowed. "Get up, Black. The enemy won't give you breathing room."

Remus gave him a hand up, and Sirius took his duelling stance once more, seething. Now, by some chance, every third hex he cast managed to miss James entirely, veering to bounce off Snape's rather solid shield charm. Snape's sneer became more pronounced, but beyond that, he pretended not to notice the attacks.

By the end of class, Sirius had not managed to get under either James or Snape's defences, and was feeling thoroughly disgruntled, besides having a headache.

As the four of them made their way back up to Gryffindor tower to drop off their things before lunch, Sirius turned on Remus with a snarl. "Why do you let him pair you with sodding Snivellus all the time?"

Remus shook his head. "I guess because -- maybe he's right. I mean, I don't like it, but Snape's good at Defence. If I have to try harder, I'll get better. It makes sense, doesn't it?"

Sirius scowled. "Well, I don't like it. And it didn't look like you were getting any better today."

Remus hunched his shoulders, but said nothing.

Peter caught the look on his face and patted Remus's shoulder. "Gandolfsson thinks you're going to be an Auror. He said so. That's good, isn't it?"

For some reason, this made Remus look even more miserable than before. "M'not going to be an Auror," he mumbled.

"Not if you let Snape kill you before you've even finished school," laughed James.

"Halloween's coming up in a few weeks," Sirius reminded them, brightening. "I'd say after the way they were acting today, the Slytherins are due for a good pranking. Seems like they've forgotten how pretty they looked in pink."

Little as he enjoyed Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons, Professor Gandolfsson's lecture on observable phenomena had got Sirius thinking. It had never occurred to him that one could learn much about people by looking at them, or by paying attention to the things they did, or by listening to how they said things, or what they didn't say, rather than just what they said. He supposed that it was the same sort of thing that the Prewetts did when they went investigating, and how he had figured out Remus's secret the year before. As a result, Sirius found himself watching the people around him more closely than usual. Especially his friends. Especially Remus.

He had lived with the other boy for over a year now, and knew many things about him, but how well did he really know him, or any of his roommates? Sirius began testing himself. What were their favourite foods? Their favourite things to do? What did they care about or think about or worry about most? If he couldn't readily answer one of the questions he posed himself, he tried to see if he could figure it out by watching and listening.

When the weather began to turn and Peter started wearing the ugly jumper that his mother had knitted him the previous year for Christmas, Sirius figured out that he missed her more than he let on. Peter complained loudly whenever he received a coddling letter from home, but Sirius noted that he bit his lip as if trying not to smile. Sometimes the blond boy dropped out of conversations entirely, unnoticed by the others, and stared out the window, looking troubled.

When James snarked at Matilda Hathersage, and she spun away, looking confused and hurt, Sirius saw that his best friend hid a furtive, guilty look behind his laughter. A few times, he caught James casting glances in the red-haired Seeker's direction during meals. He never mentioned the girl in private anymore, nor did any of the others, and he wasn't talking as much about Gryffindor's chances at Quidditch as he had last year.

But the most significant thing Sirius noticed in the week following Professor Gandolfsson's lecture was the way Remus watched all of them. Remus's emotions were harder to read than his other friends', and Sirius guessed that was because of what he was. Hiding and keeping secrets had become second nature to him, and keeping his feelings to himself was part of that.

It was not difficult for Sirius to deduce Remus's agitation, however, nor to guess that the cause was the conversation they had had following the last full moon. After a couple days of watching Remus and listening to the things he said, Sirius realised what he was doing. He was sounding out his friends, checking as subtly as possible to see what they really thought of him.

"How're your mum and dad?" he asked on Wednesday when James received a letter from home. "I had a great time at your house over hols. Thanks for inviting me." Which Sirius guessed meant, Did you really knowingly invite a werewolf into your home without telling your family?

"They're good," replied James. "They really liked meeting you."

On Thursday, Remus commented on how much Peter loved his Puffskein. "You're almost as bad as Hagrid is with his creatures. You never know what he's going to have next time we visit."

"Yeah," said Peter with a nervous laugh. "The sorts of things he likes, someone's going to lose a limb one of these days."

It was only after seeing the corners of Remus's mouth tighten that Sirius realised Remus had been checking for Peter's opinion on creatures more dangerous than his pet.

Pete will be fine with it, he wanted to tell Remus, but he wasn't entirely sure that was true. Peter was nervous about a lot of things, and would probably be terrified when he learned the truth. Sirius and James would just have to make sure he was more scared of what they would do to him if he told anyone than he was of Remus.

Remus's performance in their lessons continued to suffer. In Charms on Friday morning, he could not get his mouse to make a peep, let alone sing the school song. He seemed as distracted as he usually was right before the full moon, and he kept shooting glances at James and Peter, and occasionally at Sirius as well. Sirius was so busy feeling guilty that he might be indirectly responsible for the downturn in Remus's marks that he barely noticed when his own mouse took advantage of his inattention and made a bid for freedom.

His observation of Remus was failing to yield as many satisfactory answers as Sirius would have liked. When Remus failed to do more than scratch down a few words in History of Magic, Sirius became worried. Without Remus's notes and his ability to make history sound vaguely interesting, there was no way Sirius would be able to pass the class. Deciding that a more direct approach was in order, he tore off a corner of his parchment, and with a nudge of his wand, flicked the note onto Remus's desk. What's wrong? it said. Talk to me. But Remus just shook his head.

It was easier to pester him under the noise and murk of Potions class. Normally, Remus worked with Lily, but Sirius grabbed him by the elbow and dragged him over to his own cauldron instead.

"What's wrong with you?" he muttered. "I thought you'd be glad we didn't care."

Remus shot a quick sideways glance around to room to make sure they weren't overheard. "I am. Just -- are you sure James isn't bothered? Only, he gave me a funny look the other day."

"If he did, it's probably because you've been acting like a complete numpty in class lately."

"Maybe," said Remus distractedly, checking the list of ingredients in his Potions book against the cluster of objects and beakers on the desk.

Sirius scowled. "How long are you going to keep playing this stupid game, Lupin? You're pretending you don't know we know, I'm pretending I haven't told you we do, James is pretending he doesn't know, and we're all pretending there's nothing to know, just to keep Pete in the dark. We can't keep it up forever. Why don't you just tell them?"

"I'm just not sure I'm ready yet," Remus mumbled.

"We'll all be old and wrinkly before you're ready," said Sirius irritably, snatching the beaker Remus had been tilting over the cauldron out of his hand and handing him the other one instead. "No, this one first. Merlin's beard, you stink at Potions! Why is that?"

Remus mumbled something about smells, and Sirius cast him a quizzical look. "What smells?"

"Everything," sighed Remus. "It comes with being -- you know. I can smell everything. Half the time in this class, I have a pounding headache, and the rest of it, I feel like I'm going to be sick, if not both."

"Oh." Sirius remembered skimming over a mention of heightened senses in the werewolf book James had stolen from Madam Pomfrey's office the previous year, but he hadn't considered what that might mean. "That stinks. Er -- no pun intended. Does everything just smell really awful all the time, then?"

"No, but this classroom usually does. If it's not the ingredients, then it's someone burning their potion. Usually me," he added with a wry smile.

"All right, so you're never going to be a Potions ace," said Sirius. "But you don't have to go and fail all your other classes, too. I think you should just tell them and get it over with. You'll see. Everything will be fine."

Remus looked profoundly uncomfortable, but that might just have been the toadflax Sirius was chopping, which even he had to admit did not have an especially pleasant aroma. "I'll tell them soon."

"If you don't," said Sirius, scooping the shredded plant into the cauldron, "I will."

Professor Gandolfsson was not impressed with their observations of the castle and its defences.

"'You can't Apparate into or out of Hogwarts. There are many warding spells on the castle'," he read off one parchment in a sneering tone. "These are not observations. These are things you have been told."

Sirius glanced around surreptitiously to see who was blushing, glad at least that it wasn't his own parchment Gandolfsson was reading from. Not that he thought his own answers concerning the school's many hiding places, and which areas were protected by passwords, were much better.

The Defence master shuffled through the stack of parchments until he came to one he seemed to like better. "Ah, here we are. 'The castle is built high ground, giving it good visibility in all directions. The changing staircases can be an advantage if one knows the pattern.' Very good, Lupin," he nodded approval, glancing at a few more parchments before adding, "Don't let your friends copy off you in future."

Sirius scowled. He had only stolen three of Remus's observations, making sure they weren't the same ones James and Peter had used, and he had changed the order and the wording, which was at least as much work as coming up with a complete list himself. He saw that the back of Remus's neck had gone a dull red. It was unfair of the professor to come down so hard on Remus, just because he helped his friends.

"There's no way for me to know for certain which of you are truly unobservant, and which are only lazy," said Gandolfsson. "But it doesn't matter, since both attitudes will render you equally dead. It seems I have failed to impart to many of you the importance of what I am attempting here. I do not have much experience with children, it is true, so perhaps the failing is mine, but I know no other way to impress upon you the fact that the things you learn in this classroom will keep you alive. I assume everyone here has an interest in that. Lupin."

Before Sirius could blink, Gandolfsson's wand was up and Remus was knocked sideways out of his seat to land heavily on the stone floor. Sirius stood up so fast that his own chair fell back with a clatter, his wand pointing at the Defence master's chest.

"Stop picking on him!"

Gandolfsson's piercing eyes transfixed him with a look of disdain. "Lupin, tell your girlfriend to sit down."

A few people giggled, and Sirius's cheeks burned. He snatched up his chair and sat.

Gandolfsson continued to stare straight into him. "If I'm 'picking on him', as you so eloquently put it, Miss Black, it's only because I believe he shows the potential his peers lack, and I intend to do what I can to see that he lives up to that potential. If that means knocking him on his arse a few times, then so be it."

No one moved. Remus remained on the floor, not looking at him.

"You will learn to control yourself in my classroom, Mr Black," Gandolfsson continued, dropping the derogatory feminine. "A man should not be ruled by his emotions. Detention Saturday after supper in my office."

Sirius's jaw dropped, but the Defence master had already turned back to Remus, saying, "Back in your seat, boy. Maybe when you start paying attention in my class again, you won't end up on your arse quite so much."

Sirius blinked at James in astonishment, but his friend only shrugged. Detention from Gandolfsson was unheard of. But somehow, Sirius had managed it. He was no stranger to punishment, having served several weeks' worth of detentions the previous year, but in every case, Sirius had known what line had been crossed, frequently before he crossed it. This time, he was completely mystified.

"Come in."

Sirius pushed open the heavy door, almost more curious than nervous. Professor Gandolfsson was seated behind a heavy and highly polished desk, going through a stack of parchment. He watched Sirius enter the room, fingertips resting lightly on his wand until he was assured of his visitor's identity, then waved his hand towards a chair, indicating that Sirius should sit.

"I don't believe in writing lines or cleaning or that fetch-and-carry nonsense that most of your teachers will give you," he said without preamble. "That sort of thing might bore you into submission, and make you wish to avoid trouble on that account, but it won't make you a better wizard."

"Yes, Sir," said Sirius warily. "What do you want me to do?"

Gandolfsson pulled open one of the desk drawers and drew out a photograph, which he slid across the desk towards Sirius. The image showed a few people seated around tables outside a cafe, and a busy street behind them. The girl in the foreground of the picture raised a mug to her lips every now and then as her eyes moved back and forth over a newspaper.

"We're going to work on honing your observation skills, Mr Black," Gandolfsson informed him. "You will spend the next hour examining this photograph. At the end of that time, you will make ten useful observations about it. You may begin --" he took out a large, gold pocket watch and glanced at the face of it, "-- now."

Sirius picked up the photo and held it in his lap. He scrutinised each of the people in the foreground, and then those in the background. He counted silently and determined that the action of the picture repeated every thirteen seconds. He looked at the newspaper the girl was reading, at the sign over the cafe door, at the buildings and the few spindly trees planted along the street.

The minutes ticked by. After five, Sirius had the photograph memorised. After ten, he was bored out of his mind. He had no idea what Gandolfsson would consider to be "useful observations", but he was fairly certain that he would dream the loop of the image that night when he went to bed.

He wondered idly what the girl was drinking, and tried to figure out if she was enjoying it by watching her facial expression, or whether she was too caught up in her newspaper to notice. By the time Gandolfsson looked up from his papers, Sirius had given most of the people in the picture names, and made up stories about several of them to entertain himself.

"What have you got for me, Black?" the Auror asked.

"Er --" Sirius tried to recall the few observations he had made early on, but he had forgotten most of them, caught up as he was in the thrilling tale of the girl (whose name was Juniper, he decided) sitting at the cafe, waiting to meet a man who would send her on a mission to discover the fate of her long-lost family. "The newspaper's in English. And it's Mugglish. The pictures in it don't move."

"What else?" Gandolfsson's expression conveyed nothing.

"The -- the trees all have leaves on, so it's spring or summer. Probably spring. A lot of people are wearing coats."

The Defence master nodded, but said nothing.

"It's in colour," Sirius continued, groping desperately for details. "I saw women dressed like that girl over the hols, so it's recent. Oh, the clock on the church tower shows one o'clock, so everyone's probably off to lunch."

Gandolfsson pursed his thin lips. "Anything else?"

"Er --"

"The people, Black. That's what an Auror would concern himself with," said Gandolfsson, exasperated. "If you were there, you'd know where you were and what time of day and year it was, wouldn't you?"

"Oh." Sirius felt intensely foolish. "I guess so, Sir."

"Tell me, Black, are all the people in this photograph Muggles?"

Sirius glanced at the image again. "I -- I don't know, Sir."

"See if you can spot a wizard."

There was a long moment of silence as Sirius stared intently at the picture, then, "That man," he said, pointing. "He could be a wizard."

"And what makes you say that, Mr Black?" Gandolfsson asked.

Sirius bit his lip. "My father has a coat just like that. And his hair's a bit long for a Muggle that old, isn't it?" He glanced up at the Auror.

Gandolfsson was nodding slowly. "Very good. Wizarding fashion is often notably behind the times by Muggle standards. Any other witches or wizards?"

Sirius glanced at the photo again, but after a moment, shook his head.

"At which table is the photographer sitting?" Gandolfsson asked.

Sirius looked again. "Oh! He's sitting with the girl. And it's a magic picture. Is she a witch, then?"

Gandolfsson nodded. "Half-blood, raised in the Muggle world. Makes it easier to blend in. You, my lad, would stick out like a sore thumb. You want to work on that. She and the photographer are tailing the gentleman in the coat that you spotted. Who, by the way, is not wearing his own face. Polyjuice," he elaborated when Sirius looked confused. "A potion for disguising the features."

"Am I meant to know that from looking at the picture, Sir?" asked Sirius.

Gandolfsson gave a bark of laughter. "Not bloody likely. But you might note that the man in question seems unaware that he is being followed, which is all to the good for my people."

"Did they catch him, Sir?" Sirius asked. "Who is he? What did he do?"

"The man's name is Durannus Lestrange," said Gandolfsson. "He was suspected of involvement in the Easter Murders last spring. And no, nothing was ever proven against him."

"Oh." Sirius's cousin Bellatrix had married a Rodolphus Lestrange -- the elder brother of Rabastan -- so he was probably related to this Durannus somehow by marriage, though he had never heard of him.

"Our enemies are clever, Black. Never suppose they aren't," Gandolfsson said tartly. "Tell me, what's the number one thing you should be watching out for?"

"Er -- danger, Sir?" Sirius hazarded.

"Yourself, boy." Gandolfsson frowned his displeasure. "I've been watching you, Mr Black. Don't think I haven't. I know things about you that you probably don't even know about yourself yet. You're too public with your feelings. Believe me when I tell you that your enemies will have no trouble spotting and exploiting your weaknesses. If you will insist on wearing your heart on your sleeve, it just makes it that much easier for someone to stick a knife in it. And they will, one day. I can promise you that."

"Sir?" said Sirius, confused.

"Think on it," said Gandolfsson. "Good night, Mr Black."

Sirius left the office, closing the door behind him and feeling very much as if he had missed something.