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Harry arrived while Remus was sleeping, and Sirius reluctantly left to go teach class on the few hours of sleep he'd managed between moonrise and dawn. Ron and Hermione were in his second class of the day, so he set everyone else to duelling practice while he heard the full story from their own mouths.

Around the same time, in the Shack, Tonks and a drowsy, aching Remus were listening to Harry's account of it, which was rather slower going. Harry would begin to speak and eventually Remus would nod off; they'd stop and wait for him to wake restlessly, a few minutes later, before continuing. By the time Harry reached the point where he and Bill had summoned Charlie to help Bill bring the exhausted and defeated Fenrir to London, Remus' eyes were hugely dilated, almost eerily so, and his hands clenched and unclenched on the blanket.

"They don't know how to keep him," he said, as soon as Harry was finished. "He'll trick them -- "

"It's all right," Tonks soothed. "Bill and Charlie are both keeping watch."

"And Moody," Harry added, and Remus relaxed a little at this.

"Moody won't trust him," he said. "Moody's all right."

Tonks grinned at him. "You're funny when you're loopy."

"Looney, loopy Lupin," Remus mumbled.

"Lovely Lupin," Tonks answered, kissing his temple. "And I'm going to go down to the Three Broomsticks and floo over to look in on everything. I'll bring back news, all right?"

He nodded, plucking at the tattered blankets.

"He'll get no peace unless he knows Fenrir won't escape," she said to Harry, quietly. "I'll be back in an hour. Can you stay?"

"Sure," Harry said. "I was going to. Does he...need anything?"

"He shouldn't. Give him water if he asks. I'll bring food back with me, but I don't think he'll want it."

She patted him on the shoulder and left, clattering down the stairs. From below there was the sharp crack of Disapparation, and Harry closed the bedroom door. When he turned back, Remus had shoved himself upright and drawn his legs up, crossing them under the blankets. He had picked up one shredded corner and was knotting it to another, re-joining the edges of a long tear in the fabric. The under-blankets had been fixed with a reparo sometime before Harry arrived, but the top one was still in tatters. Harry watched as his fingers found another pair of corners, smoothing them slowly and then tying them together.

"How are you really?" Harry asked finally. Remus looked up from his knots, slowly.

"As ever, Harry, I survive," he said.

"It's not the same now, is it?"

"The same as....?"

"As before. You haven't really been well since Sirius came, have you?"

Remus shook his head. "I'm healing. It just takes time."

"Does Tonks know?"

"She could hardly avoid knowing. She...plays along." He tied another knot, then looked back up. "You should have told her. She could have helped you."

"She would have told you. Tonks is great, Remus, but she's not very discreet."

Remus smiled. "You don't know Nymphadora Tonks as well as you think, Harry." He shifted a little, ducking his head. "It was a very brave thing the lot of you did. Possibly quite stupid, but as I am the beneficiary I am not in a position to judge."

"It wouldn't have been your fault, you know," Harry blurted. "If he had got hold of some kid -- he does it anyway. He threatened to eat Ron and he tried to bite Charlie already."

"I still pity him, sometimes," Remus said quietly.

"You oughtn't."

"It's not entirely his fault either. When he was made -- what we are -- it was a long time ago, and things were very different." Remus breathed deeply, as if just speaking had winded him. "And I am afraid of what will happen when this becomes public."

"What do you mean?" Harry asked.

"His pack may not retaliate...they're most of them cowards and not terribly bright...but there are the Death Eaters. And a werewolf in chains in may stir up dangerous sentiments."

Harry stared at him.

"Sirius went to prison without a trial, Harry, and the times then were no darker than they are now," Remus continued. "They're all alike...kill them all and no trials necessary. You don't try a dog for murder. Vicious animals...ought to be put down."

"Fenrir ought to be," Harry said vehemently.

"Perhaps. But he ought to stand trial like any other person first. His actions make him a monster, not his disease. People won't see that." Remus tilted his head back and closed his eyes. "I'm so tired of people and their unending stupidity."

Harry smiled. "Me too."

"I know, Harry."

"Do you want to sleep some more?"

"Yes...I think so. Tonks can wake me when she comes back," Remus answered, slouching down in the bed a little.

"Not like she'll have a choice," Harry grinned. Remus laughed hoarsely.

"She is nothing like I expected I would ever want, you know," he said, trailing off into sleepy mumbles. "Love appears to take us very much by surprise."

Harry absently flicked his wand at a three-legged chair in the corner, waiting until the fourth leg had grown out (it was a slightly lighter colour than the others, but it wasn't like it would matter in the Shack, after all) before sitting down.

He had the sudden urge to wake Remus up and ask him what he meant; Remus' last remark had hit slightly too close to home for comfort, and he wondered if Remus could see things he couldn't. Even a week later, he was still turning over in his mind that moment when he'd watch Sirius lick his lips and a bolt of confused desire had shot through him. Even three weeks later, he still missed Padfoot on his bed at night and his dreams were becoming disquietingly...vivid.

Sometimes, when Sirius passed close, Harry felt heat rush to his face when he smelled him.

He didn't know what it meant. He didn't think it meant what it might mean, because that was ridiculous -- Harry fancied girls. He always had. Hadn't he fancied Cho while Ron and Hermione were busy bickering about Viktor, and hadn't he been viciously jealous of Dean Thomas for seeing Ginny while Ron was off sucking Lavender's face and Hermione was off sulking about it? That was normal. He and Ron fancied girls and Hermione fancied boys and since the other two were always being idiots about love, he'd pretty much done the same.

But Cho had been an epic disaster, he recalled, and Ginny really had felt like he was living someone else's life, like he was doing something he ought to instead of something natural. It wasn't at all a bad thing, he'd quite enjoyed some of the things he and Ginny had got up to, but there had been a constant question in the back of his mind of is this it?

And with Sirius, instead, he wanted to ask can I have more?

He sighed and pulled his legs up against his chest, resting the heels of his shoes on the edge of the chair. Ron and Hermione were in class now, and he wasn't; Sirius was teaching, and he wasn't. Tonks was getting news, and he wasn't. He was taking action against Voldemort -- if anything, last night's adventure had proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. But that was...destiny and war and such. That was History, and History didn't often tell you anything about peoples' actual lives.

Harry wanted his life, even the little scraps of it which were all he could gather up, but suddenly his life wasn't what he had expected it to be at all.


Fenrir's capture couldn't be kept a secret forever, especially since his pack was looking for him. When the Prophet broke the story in that day's afternoon edition, there were retributions. Primarily against the Ministry, who were taking full credit for the capture, but also against Bill and Charlie, whose photographs had appeared in the paper. Bill, catching scent of his stalkers in time, was able to elude them; he and Fleur took a brief holiday and went across to Paris for a few days.

Fred and Charlie had come from Romania, arriving on the day of the full moon and laying low at the Burrow; there were two attempts to break into the Burrow, but Arthur and Molly soundly thrashed them with the help of Charlie, Fred, several territorial garden gnomes, and most of Molly's cast-iron cookware. After the second successful rebuff resulted in a dented skillet, the invaders did not try for a third.

Fred's return was the cause of much jubilation in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Molly was thrilled to have her entire family back in England and nominally under her eye; after sending Ron a loud but vague Howler and shouting at Bill and Charlie for two solid hours about the stupidity of hunting werewolves without proper training, she threw an enormous dinner at the first opportunity. Ron and Hermione ditched a Friday evening study session to attend, and Sirius arrived as soon as he could escape tutoring duties, still wearing his Tutors' robes. Tonks and Remus arrived with rather more wine than was quite proper, even for such a large gathering, and Fred and George exuberantly shared around their various new inventions, slipping Harry a tin of their experimental Orgaz Mints on the sly (by the makers of Predica and Ail Mints!). Harry forebode to try one in a house full of Weasleys.

"And how is Ginny, dear? I imagine you talk to her more than I do, though she does send letters with far more regularity than any of my other children manage," Molly said to Harry. Ron rolled his eyes and grinned at Charlie, who was looking guilty.

"She's uh, fine, as far as I know," Harry answered awkwardly.

"Well, she's a good girl and I have no doubt she's getting on, she always does."

"Going to finish out like Bill did, all NEWTs," Arthur said proudly. "It just goes to show you. Six sons and a daughter and all of them doing quite well for themselves, thank you, while some people I could name, with only one child and more pride than good sense, however wealthy they are -- "

Molly coughed, and Arthur lapsed into silence.

"They're certainly a credit to the both of you," Remus murmured. He was still looking pale but he'd managed to take over classes again from Sirius, who was glad enough to give them up. He had remarked on how obedient his Friday classes were, which is what happens when the school Tutor threatens to kneecap anyone who gives the Dark Arts Professor any trouble.

"Harry," Fred said, leaning across Sirius seated between them as the others began to clear away their plates. "Can I have a word with you, outside?"

"Sure," Harry said. "Is this about...?"

"Yeah. I didn't want to bring it up before dinner..."

Sirius raised an eyebrow at Harry. "Going to let me in on the secret?"

"Soon," Harry promised, following Fred to the door. As they left they heard Arthur speaking to Remus.

"Molly didn't want me to bring it up, but I wondered about the...Greyback situation?"

"Oh," Remus replied. "It should be in the Prophet tomorrow -- he'll have a full trial. I suppose it's a good thing. Bill's going to have to testify -- I will too, probably..."

The door closed at that point, and Harry turned his attention to Fred, who was loitering on the front step. They began to amble wanderingly down the lane to the main road, kicking stones out of their way as they went.

"Is everything done, then?" Harry asked. "I assumed so, but the last few days have been busy."

"Yeah -- I wanted to come up and say hello too, but I really had to take care of some of the stuff for the shop, George let it slip a bit."

Fred dug in his pocket and produced a small leather sack.

"Is that it?" Harry asked, impressed. Fred laughed.

"Bless his ickle heart. No, Harry. That's the problem. This..." he poured out a small helping of silvery powder into his hand, " just the ammunition. There's no quick kill on a Dementor, you know that. It's in their nature to be tenacious."

Harry nodded, sifting a pinch of the powder between thumb and forefinger. "What does it do?"

"It's complicated," Fred said, emptying most of the powder back into the sack. He kept walking. "Dementors feed through their presence. Charlie actually caught one, it was pretty wicked, and we had to keep it in a cave a mile outside of town. Even when we wired its jaw shut -- "

"How the hell did you manage that?"

"Trade secret," Fred answered wickedly. "And two very powerful patronii. Anyway, if you wire its jaw shut it can't give you the Kiss, but that doesn't mean it can't feed. It takes it in through its skin. The skin's pretty sensitive, that's why you don't see much of it."

"And don't want to," Harry said.

"Yeah, well, I've seen a lot more Dementor than I ever thought I would, that's the truth," Fred agreed. "It was interesting, though."

Harry had a sudden mental image of Charlie holding a Dementor at bay with a patronus while Fred wired its jaw shut -- no pity or mercy on their faces, just the intent look of two men doing the job they came to do. Fred was, after all, a scientist in his own way.

He shivered. Even Dementors, perhaps, deserved a better fate than that. If they were this cruel they were really no better than the enemy --

But then he remembered the horrible cold chill of their presence, and what they'd done to Sirius -- and that they were the enemy. Like Fenrir, he thought. Monsters who chose to join with Voldemort.

I will destroy anyone who hurts the people I love.

"Harry, are you listening?" Fred asked.

"Sorry, Fred...I was just thinking about something," Harry said. They had arrived at the fence that bounded the Weasleys' yard in the front. Fred leaned back against it, looking speculatively up at the sky.

"Dementors can feed through their pores, but they don't have very many," he said. "That powder clogs their pores, gets into their skin. Nice side effect is that it self-multiplies, so you only have to hit one part of the Dementor and it'll cover 'em in a matter of a few minutes. When they're covered they can't feed, so they can't hurt anyone. Not so nice side effect is that the ones that don't die from the shock of being cut off starve to death."

"How long does that take?"

"Two or three days. They start howling towards the end..." even Fred looked disturbed by this, still gazing distantly at the sky. "Most of the ones we tried it on died pretty quickly. I have a theory about it."


"Yeah...there's a lot of misery in the world, so it's kind of free-floating, right? So there's always something they can pick up on, even if you don't feel them doing it. It's like when you're near the ocean and you can always hear the noise of the waves. If this hits them fast enough, it's like suddenly going deaf -- only about a million times worse. They just drop from the shock of it."

"How many Dementors did you try this on?" Harry asked.

"The one we caught first, killed him instantly, and we caught one more and that one starved." Fred looked at Harry, whose remaining pity must have showed on his face. "Harry, listen, nobody knows better than the two of us what a Dementor's capable of. They're not human."

"That's what some people say about Remus."

"No, they're not even animals. They're like...a disease. The only thing they do is breed and feed. You might as well worry about killing the little things that the Healers say cause Kneazlepox. They're just bigger, that's all."

"Do you know where they come from?"

"Boggarts, actually. You feed a Boggart enough and Dementor."

"And we do kill Boggarts," Harry said, more to himself than to Fred. "So we have to cover the Dementors with the powder -- how do you do that?"

"Explosives. No, really," Fred said, when Harry laughed. "Something that gets a lot of it up into the air at once. And...well, this is just me personally, but the powder's hard to come by, so I think you'd want to get as many of them as possible in a small space at the same time."

"Remind me not to volunteer for that duty."

"You can count Charlie and me out, we've done our time," Fred said. "If we exterminate them completely it can't be too soon."

Harry nodded. "Can you get more powder? How's it made?"

"Well, between you and me..." Fred leaned close. "Not all of it is legal. I mean, the active ingredient is but only because they don't know it exists -- I think we actually have invented it."

"Is it hard to get the ingredients?"

"That's the thing. The illegal stuff is no problem. It's the thing that actually makes it all work that's difficult to come by."

"Let me secret?"

"Something like that. It'll be easier now that I'm home. I'd like to have as much as possible before we let anyone know we've got it," Fred said. "Sound all right?"

"How long do you need?"

"Another few weeks would be good, at least."

Harry nodded. "I think we can give you that. But I want to hit them fast, before the werewolves have time to really regroup."

"Look at Generallissimo Harry," Fred said with a grin. "You got it, boss."



"How's it made?" Harry asked. "It doesn't hurt anyone to make it? I mean it's not ground-up puffskeins or anything?"

Fred smiled. "Pretty much the opposite. That's why it'll be easier at the joke shop. It's powdered laughter. You know how sometimes you start laughing and you just laugh so hard that you can't breathe, and your face is all red? That kind. You'd be surprised how hard it is to laugh on command -- they do say comedy is hard," he added. "But we get a fair bit at the joke shop. You should come by sometime -- you don't look like you laugh enough, Harry."

Harry thought of last Friday, sitting on the sofa in Sirius' rooms and laughing giddily.

"I suppose I don't," he answered. "And your mum looks like she's about to start yelling for us -- "


" -- so we'd better go in," Fred finished for him. "Sure thing. You were right when you gave us the Triwizard winnings, by the way -- now's the time when we need all the laughter we can get."


Harry didn't want to ask if Sirius was coming to Fourteen Back for the weekend, in case he seemed too...eager, or pathetic, or something. So he just didn't say anything, really, and when it was time to leave, he waved in the general direction of where Sirius was talking with the twins and floo'd through.

"Leave me behind, why don't you," Sirius complained, arriving barely a step behind Harry. Remus came through after him and promptly dropped into one of the chairs.

"I like the Weasleys, but they are exhausting," he moaned.

"Sorry," Harry said to Sirius. "I was trying to escape before Molly loaded me down with any more left-overs."

"Well, I would have helped you. The more food the better, I think," he said as he took some of the bags and tidy cartons out of Harry's hands and led the way into the kitchen. "Less cooking for us."

Harry passed him the remaining packages when he held out his hands. Sirius stowed them neatly in the chill-cupboard and then turned to Harry with a grin.

"Want to see a magic trick?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" Harry asked. Sirius held up his hands, wiggled his fingers, and pressed his palms together, one on top of the other, producing from between them a bottle filled with amber-coloured liquid.

"Again?" Harry asked.

"I'm starting a tradition!" Sirius protested. "Remus, do you want some Knotgrass rum?"

"In large amounts," Remus called from the kitchen. "Accio tumblers!"

Three glass tumblers flung themselves off the shelf nearby and zoomed past Harry and Sirius into the living room. Sirius followed in short order, trailed by a skeptical Harry.

With a bow, Sirius presented Remus with the bottle, and the older man deftly uncorked it with a tap of his wand, pouring the thick, almost syrupy liquid into the tumblers. When he saw Harry's skeptical look at the size of the servings, he smiled.

"Knotgrass rum isn't true rum," he explained.

"S'right, it's more like ice cream topping," Sirius said. "Tastes like lemony caramel."

"Lemony caramel?" Harry wrinkled his nose.

"No, but it's good. Try it."

"What I meant was," Remus said, glancing at Sirius, "that it's not very alcoholic. More than a butterbeer, less than a firewhiskey."

Harry cautiously put the tumbler to his lips and sipped; the amber liquid did taste a little like caramel syrup, with a sharp afterbite of lemons. Remus leaned back in his chair, waiting expectantly.

"It's all right," Harry admitted. Sirius flung himself into the other armchair and tossed his legs up on the coffee table. "It's sort of sweet."

"Better than sour!" Sirius said cheerfully. "Can't have too much, though. Going off to the Gaunt crypt tomorrow."

"Well, I am," Harry said.

"And me!" Sirius added.

"What?" Harry asked.

"I talked to Hagrid. I'm going to be here, I might as well go with you instead," Sirius said with a shrug. He held out his glass again, and Remus waved a hand at the bottle, which promptly refilled the tumbler.

"Thanks for asking!" Harry said, feeling as though he ought to be outraged but only managing mild shock.

"Well, if you'd rather I didn't come -- "

"I didn't say that," Harry said. "You've got to, now, don't you? Cos Hagrid isn't...."

The fight was interrupted by a laugh from Remus, who had covered his face with one hand.

"Merlin, I miss being seventeen like I'd miss having a hole in my head," he said, amused. "I'm sure I was just as awkward and clueless as the pair of you are. I'm going to bed," he added, standing and finishing his drink. "Don't wake me in the morning unless you're bringing me a large breakfast as you do so."

"Are you going to stay here tomorrow?" Harry asked after him. Remus paused in the doorway to the kitchen, suddenly quite grave.

"No -- I'm going to London," he replied. "There are a few details about the Greyback case that need to be sorted. I'll be back by dinner -- shall I bring it home with me?"

"Indian!" Sirius said. "Let's have curry."

"Curry it will be," Remus said. "Goodnight, you two. Don't stay up too late."

Sirius offered the bottle to Harry and, when he declined, corked it and set it aside.

"See? It's a nice tradition," he said, finishing the last of his second helping.

"I guess so," Harry said. "I'm going up -- are you coming?"

Sirius looked indecisive. "I could sleep on the sofa," he offered.

"If you don't want to be Padfoot -- "

"I was just saying," Sirius shrugged. "It's warm enough down here."

"Fine then," Harry replied, oddly angry about this sudden change of plans. "Stay down here if you please."

He went up the stairs rather more quickly than usual and tossed away his shirt. He had taken off his trousers and pulled on a pair of pyjamas before he heard the quiet thumping on the far side of the bed; when he turned around, Padfoot's head was resting on the bed, watching him warily.

He walked resolutely to the bathroom and brushed his teeth. When he emerged he saw that the thumping noise was Padfoot's tail, wagging hopefully against the floor. Padfoot tilted his head slightly to watch him.

Harry sighed.

"All right, up you go on the bed, then," he said, gesturing to the blankets. Padfoot lolled his tongue out and leapt onto the bed in a single, graceful move, flopping down happily at the foot. Harry slid under the blankets and flipped the top one up so that it covered Padfoot instead of himself before throwing his arm across the dog's broad back.

He'd never thought it was particularly weird that he shared a bed with Sirius, because it was Padfoot, and that was what you did with dogs. Now he was quite conscious that it might be a furry black body under the blanket, but it was still Sirius.

"Sirius, this isn't weird, is it?" he asked softly. Padfoot shook his head, ears flapping. "Because if you think it's weird you don't have to."

Padfoot's smooth pink tongue licked his cheek, and Harry laughed and wiped his face.

"I'm glad you're coming along tomorrow. I just wish you'd told me before you told Hagrid, that's all," he said. The Knotgrass rum was making him sleepy, and his thoughts weren't coming as clearly as they had been. "Reckon I should have told you about Fenrir, anyway. S'pose we're even, then."

Padfoot let out a happy little huff of air and his tail wagged against Harry's thigh.

"Rather go with you anyway," Harry said, slipping down into sleep.


Downstairs, Remus heard Harry and Sirius settle themselves on the bed even as he himself climbed between the sheets. Tonks was in London this evening, more was the pity; he felt cold and still sore, mostly from the stress of all the overwhelming Weasleys.

Sooner or later, something was going to have to be done about Harry and Sirius. It was clear that Sirius, poor Sirius who barely had an idea of his own desires, let alone anyone else's, was falling for Harry. It looked to be at least a healthier thing than the covert and terrified sneaking around Sirius had done at school, but if Harry didn't return the sentiments Sirius would have his heart broken. Part and parcel of growing up, of course, but it was nice to avoid the gratuitous occurrence of such things. Sirius did seem to have a knack for falling in love with extraordinary men; the greatest wizarding novelist of their lifetime and the Boy Who Lived among them...

And did Harry return those sentiments? He'd seen clearly enough that something had gone on between Harry and Ginny. He wasn't privy to Harry's personal life, really. As far as his experience went, what Harry enjoyed most in the world was Quidditch. Still, surely he had to have noticed sex in some form by now. Perhaps he ought to have a word with Harry about it. Perhaps that would only make it worse. Whatever 'it' was, really.

It wasn't any of his business, except that he had very little else to fill his time with and it took his mind away from what he had to do tomorrow. He would take that in segments; get up, wash, eat breakfast, walk to the floo, floo to London, walk to the Ministry, meet with Moody, do....what he would go to do...find Tonks and have lunch with her, floo home.

Home. More than Grimmauld Place or any of the series of flats he'd had in years, some a good deal less cramped than Fourteen Back. This little cottage was home. Home, shared with two teenage boys and occasionally Tonks. Family. Pack. And a good leader, a good man, took care of his family.

He turned over, bones cracking and popping in protest, and tried to find a comfortable position for sleeping in.

Segments. Get up; wash; eat; and face the day. Time enough to decide what to do when he faced the new day with a clean face and a full stomach, which were more than he had sometimes gotten in the past.

He hoped Harry and Padfoot were sleeping better than he was.

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