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Harry woke on Sunday morning to an agonised howl from the general area of the bathroom; Sirius, having been too sleepy during his bath to notice his reflection, was standing in front of the mirror over the sink and staring at his hair in horror.

"What did she do to it?" he wailed. Remus came pelting up the stairs as if shot from a cannon, Tonks on his heels, and Harry had to reassure them that nobody was being murdered -- although homicide was clearly in the offing. Sirius turned on Tonks and pointed at her.

"You! You gave me a....stripe!" he said accusingly. "My hair is pink!"

Remus, who looked like he'd been about to have a heart attack, sank down onto the edge of the bed and buried his face in his hands, laughing.

"It's not funny!" Sirius insisted. "Do you mean to tell me I've been wandering around since yesterday with this...this stuff on my head?"

"You weren't really wandering much," Tonks said. "A walk down a hospital corridor and another walk up the stairs to the bedroom isn't wandering. It's hardly even strolling."

Sirius angrily picked up his wand and aimed it at his own head, squinting carefully in the mirror. The hair began to turn grey.

"What did you do to it? It won't go back right!"

"I just grew you some hair. Keep trying, you're the brilliant animagus, you'll figure it out," she said. "Could be worse."

"How?" Sirius demanded. Tonks screwed up her face, wincing, and a moment later Sirius stared at a carbon copy of himself standing next to the bed -- wearing her bathrobe and pyjamas, of course, and with a full head of lusciously pink-and-gold striped hair.

"Camera," Remus gasped, still laughing. "Oh, get a camera..."

Sirius retreated into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. Tonks shook her head, settling her face back into its usual features. She kept the striped hair, though.

"There's breakfast coming up," Remus said to Harry, even as he and Tonks were descending again. Harry slid out of bed and dressed, knocking on the bathroom door.

"Get it fixed yet? I need the toilet," he said.

Sirius opened the door reluctantly. He'd managed to fade the worst of it into black, but there was still a long grey streak where it had proved stubborn.

"Well, it doesn't look silly," Harry allowed. Sirius snorted. "Come on, get out, I want a piss and a shave."

"Height of elegance, you are," Sirius said.

"And go back to bed! Augustus said bed rest!" Harry called. Sirius threw him a two-fingered salute as the door closed, but when he emerged Sirius was back under the blankets. His obedience might have had something to do with Remus, who was sitting next to it and sharing a large plate of toast that sat on a tray on the bed. Or it might have had something to do with the slightly dazed look in his eyes.

"He tried to go downstairs," Remus said. "That didn't work too well."

"I got dizzy, that's all," Sirius said.

"That's why you're supposed to stay in bed," Remus said. "Harry, there's breakfast downstairs if you'd rather not bask in the glow of the most sullen man on earth."

"That's all right," Harry said, taking a slice of toast from the plate. "Someone's got to keep him entertained. Are you staying here today?"

Remus nodded. "Tonks has gone off home already -- she's having a look at that present Regulus left for Voldemort, and I think she's going to try to sneak into the files room and see what there is to be seen."

Sirius rested his elbows on his knees, one hand cupping a bowl of oatmeal while he stirred jam into it absently.

"Do you know how he died?" he asked. Remus gave him a searching look. "I just...I don't know how any of them died, really. My family I mean. Other than, he was murdered."

"Sirius -- uh, my -- I mean, the other Sirius," Harry said awkwardly, "He just said he was killed for wanting to get out. He didn't talk about his -- your parents."

They both looked at Remus, who cleared his throat.

"Your father, ah....we had this second-hand, but I'm told it was a bad fall down the stairs -- he wasn't young," Remus said slowly. "The rumour was that he'd been drinking, and -- well, it stops the blood from clotting easily..."

"It's all right," Sirius said. "I'm not going to start crying or anything. I hated the bastard, and besides it's been two months. I just want to know how."

Remus gave him an uncertain look. "Your mum had an apopleptic fit when she heard about Regulus. It put too much strain on her heart -- she died in St. Mungo's a week or two later. I don't actually know -- no one does -- who murdered Regulus. They found his body outside the Leaky Cauldron." Remus sighed. "I'd rather not say anything more about it, if you don't mind."

The second note from Regulus had ended up in neat folds on Harry's bedside table; Sirius unfolded it, studying it carefully. "I thought he was a bit of an idiot, but we got on all right."

"If I recall correctly, Sirius, you got on mainly because you never had to speak to each other."

"Yeah, well, that's still more than you can say of mum," Sirius answered. "And at least Reg did something worthwhile before they got to him. As much of a pain in the arse as it might be now. He tried. I wish I knew how he found out about them."

"Well, brooding will get us nowhere," Remus said, gathering up the breakfast dishes. "Would you like to sleep?"

"No. Isn't there anything useful I can do?" Sirius asked.

"I think you earned a day off after yesterday," Remus replied. "Make Harry bring you a book or play some chess. I have marking to do."

"I could help you mark -- "

"Not with your head half bashed in, you can't," Remus said. "Merlin alone knows how it would come out. And stop fretting," he added, as Sirius gave him a defiant look. "Harry, find some way to distract him, please? I'll be downstairs."

If he saw Harry's flushed face as he went down the stairs again, he paid it no mind; Sirius was busy carefully refolding the note Regulus had left. He leaned over the edge opposite Harry's bedside table and rummaged in the bag he'd left there, extracting Animagus Winter from the crushed and crumpled clothes and creased parchment.

"Didn't you finish that?" Harry asked.

"I'm re-reading," Sirius said. "Unless you really want to play chess."

"Nah. I guess I should write some letters," Harry said. "Let Ron and Hermione know what happened and all."

"Sure," Sirius said, removing a photograph he'd been using as a bookmark. Harry turned his head and craned his neck to see it properly. In the picture, Sirius was sitting with Remus at the professors' table, his red robes vivid next to the other man's deep brown and against the grey stone behind them. He was tearing off bits of a roll and eating them as Remus told him some story, waving the fork in his hand for dramatic effect.

"That's a good photograph," Harry said.

"It's all right," Sirius agreed. "Creevey took it. Nice enough bloke. Bit mad for cameras."

"Oh," Harry said, a slight note of chill in his voice. "Yeah, Colin's that way. Well, I should answer my post."

"All right," Sirius agreed, propping the book open on his lap. He watched Harry, however, as he sat at the desk below the high window, sunlight streaming in and picking out motes of dust dancing around Harry's head and shoulders.

He turned his eyes back to the book, tucking the photograph between two later pages so that it wasn't lying there on the bed, a peculiar bone of contention between them.

"Cerastes," Polaris said, his fingers pale and crooked around the edge of the plate, "Do you have a past?"

"Of course, Pol," I laughed. "I may even go so far as to say I have history. Why? I don't suppose you wonder what it's like; I know you have history as well."

"How do you know?"

"Because you are unique. Men don't become like you are without having a history."

"I'd like to tell you, sometime."

He looked tired as he wrapped his hands around the cup and held it to his lips. I had seen him laughing and boyish, had seen him studious and serious, but I had never seen him exhausted or afraid. I had assumed that he was not the sort to show such things in public. I didn't dream that I knew him well enough to be offered this.

"I should like to hear it," I replied. "When will you tell me?"

"Someday soon," he said, with a flash of sharp white teeth, a half-grin over the rim of the cup. He was about to say something more when the boy, who had been loitering in the corner of the little cafe with some young friends, upset a display of wineglasses in the window and a pyramid of glass came crashing down in all directions. He ran up to us with a bit of glass embedded in his palm, piteously begging for comfort, and Polaris deftly plucked the shard from his hand without a second thought. The boy's whimpers subsided and he hid behind Polaris, in the chair between him and the wall, as the proprietor stormed through the room to see what the fuss was about.


Sirius went back to school on Monday evening, much to the delight and relief of the Hogwarts students who had already come to be amusingly fond of their Tutor. He and Harry didn't discuss Saturday or the fact that Padfoot actually crawled under the blankets to sleep that much closer to Harry on Sunday night. It wasn't the awkward silence that had been a prelude to their fight on Saturday, but rather a mutual agreement that the particular situation they were in fell outside the normal rules of behaviour.

Fenrir Greyback's trial began on the twenty-eighth, a full week after Remus met him in the underground cells at the Ministry. It was very public. Even the Quibbler sent a reporter to cover it, though admittedly their angle was not the trial of a werewolf so much as support for the claim that Greyback was part of a Ministry conspiracy.

Fenrir could not be tried for many of the crimes he had committed; among those was the infection of Remus Lupin, since Remus himself had not seen the wolf that did it and his father, the other witness, was dead. Remus' testimony was merely hearsay -- Fenrir's boasting passed along to him through another person who could not be located. Many of Fenrir's other victims were already his allies, and still more were scared of retribution -- not only if they testified against Fenrir, but if they revealed to the world that they were werewolves.

The primary charge against him and the keystone of the prosecution was the attempted murder of Bill Weasley. In the last two days before the trial started, two young men also came forward to assert that they had seen Fenrir as a wolf and could identify him as the one who had infected them as children. The day the trial started and this became public, both were sacked from their jobs and two of Fenrir's pack broke into the younger man's thankfully empty flat, destroying most of his furniture before the Aurors arrived.

Fenrir himself seemed to walk a fine line; Remus wasn't sure if it was his own influence or simply capriciousness, but Fenrir danced along the edge of impropriety without ever falling off, pulling himself back when he was about to start a rant about human inferiority or brag about the taste of flesh in his mouth. Perhaps he really was thinking of his pack. Remus didn't know, and wasn't about to ask. He didn't attend the trial, but he did listen to it on the Floo Broadcasting Network between classes.

Anti-werewolf sentiment at Hogwarts was on the rise with every new Prophet article, but when it finally came to a head, it was Sirius who bore the brunt of it.

He had taken to holding reviews in a classroom on Wednesdays, since that was the day he always had a lot of students, Thursdays being his day off. He appropriated the Dark Arts classroom from the end of dinner until lights-out and took questions from first-year through seventh-year, or at any rate managed to direct people to where they could find the answers if he didn't know. It was only the second time he'd done it when one of the second-years, a Slytherin named Beatrice, raised her hand and insolently asked him how one killed a werewolf. Sirius stared at her in shock for a minute before a wicked look crossed his face.

"Why don't we ask someone who's actually studying werewolves?" he asked, turning to a brace of fifth-year Hufflepuffs sitting near the back. "Is Taylor back there?"

"Here, Mr. Padfoot," William Taylor raised his hand.

"You're studying werewolves, aren't you?" Sirius asked.

"Not directly," William said, embarrassed. "That is to say, I am -- it's for my Potions OWL."

"Can you tell me how to tell a werewolf from a true wolf?"

"Yessir. Snout, eyes, and tail are all physical signs; the howl sounds more full-throated and less natural; and uh..." William looked stricken. A fourth-year Ravenclaw raised her hand.

"Yes, Polly?"

"There's no under-fur on the pelt," she said. "They don't need it -- they're only wolves one night a month."

"Very good," Sirius said, tossing her a ButterBite from Honeydukes. He threw one to William, too. "These are the five standard ways to identify a werewolf, Scamander tells us," he said. "How many of them are applicable more than once every twenty eight days?"

"None, sir," William said.

"Do you know any which are, William?"

"No, sir."

"Why is that?"

"Because there aren't any, sir."

"Not hairy knuckles? Eyebrows across the nose?" Sirius asked. Polly stifled a laugh.

"That's just an old myth, sir," she said.

"Checked Professor Lupin's knuckles, did you?" he asked. Polly had the grace to look embarrassed.

"Sir," Beatrice said, interrupting brashly, "I didn't ask how to identify a werewolf."

"Really? So you knew?"

"No, sir."

"Interesting. Why do you suppose you're here, Beatrice?"

The girl looked at him blankly.

"Why do you suppose we're teaching you all this?" Sirius asked, feeling slightly frustrated. "Why don't we just give you a handout and send you off?"

She shook her head. "Sir, I didn't ask -- "

"No, you didn't ask, Beatrice. You thought you'd be a smartarse and ask a werewolf's friend how to kill him instead."

She blushed bright scarlet.

"You are here because it's not enough to know things. You have to understand them, you little idiot," he continued wrathfully. "Do you know why you can't tell a werewolf from an ordinary person outside of a full moon? Because there isn't a difference. So unless a werewolf is running at you with jaws open during a full moon, you'll never have to worry, will you? Granted, you'll be in a pickle if you know then, but let's calculate the odds. Who here knows the population of Great Britain?"

There was silence until a first-year raised his hand hesitantly.

"All right, Olly, do you know?" Sirius inquired.

"About sixty million, sir," Oliver said.

"Muggle Studies students may want to make a note of that," Sirius said in passing, as he placed a Jawsticking Sucker in Oliver's pocket. "Let's see who knows what the population of Wizarding Great Britain is."

This time a crop of hands went up. Sirius flung a fizzing whizbee at Colin Creevey, who grinned at him as he caught it.

"About ten thousand, three thousand of which aren't actually magical themselves," he said. "Spouses, squibs, and some family."

"Now, for the big prize," Sirius said, holding up a pot of much coveted disappearing ink as a reward. "Who can tell me what the werewolf population of Wizarding Britain is?"

"Who cares?" someone in the back asked.

"I do," Sirius answered. "And I'm sure Beatrice will. After all, she's very concerned about killing them."

This time the silence was absolute, and Sirius shoved his hands in his pockets, setting the ink down on Remus' desk.

"Well, I know," Sirius said. "I made it my business to know. And I'll bet that even if Professor Lupin weren't a werewolf, he'd know, because he's a conscientious teacher. Now, it's difficult to pin this number down because people are secretive about it -- scared of Beatrice, you know -- but conservative estimates put it at somewhere between three and five hundred."

There was a mass intake of breath. Five hundred werewolves in a population of ten thousand was significant.

"So what are your odds of meeting a werewolf in Diagon Alley? Pretty bloody likely. You've already met one at Hogwarts. There are probably eight or nine in Hogsmeade. Probably eighty or ninety in London. On the other hand -- who's good with arithmancy? Is Granger here?"

"Off snogging Weasley," a wag called. Sirius grinned.

"Padma Patil?"

Padma sat up straight in her chair, quill at the ready.

"Can you tell me the odds of an individual meeting a given werewolf, one of a minority of five hundred in a population of sixty million? On a single night that only occurs thirteen times a year?"

"It depends on population concentration, sir," Padma answered, making notes nevertheless. "How big is the area?"

"Anyone know the size of our fair isle?" Sirius asked. Silence. "Oh bollocks, me either."

They laughed at that, which broke the tension nicely.

"I think my point's been made, however," Sirius said. "I'll tell you what, Beatrice. You answer me the question I just asked Padma, and then you tell me who put you up to this on the foolish assumption that I wouldn't stoop to crushing a second-year's ego, and I'll tell you the eight ways to kill a werewolf."

"I did," said Blaise Zabini, swaggering forward from the back. Sirius narrowed his eyes.

"Surely you're capable of doing your own research, Zabini?" he asked. "I presume you know how to read. I know using the library might be a fresh experience for you, but it's good to try new things and keep an open mind."

Zabini snorted. "When the werewolves try to kill you all after they put Greyback down, you'll wish you knew," he said, taking in the students in the classroom. "I don't intend to be eaten on the full moon by a savage."

He swept out before Sirius could throw him out, slamming the classroom door behind him. Sirius leaned back on the desk, bowing his head. Beatrice had sunk down in her seat so far that she was barely visible, and the girls sitting near her were leaning as far away as possible. Maddie, the second-year Slytherin he'd chosen to be his replacement Tutor when he'd taught Dark Arts two weeks before, looked disgusted.

"Some of you, particularly the younger ones, may not understand some of the politics going on outside these walls," he said slowly. "I hardly understand all of them myself. But I do know that you have nothing -- nothing -- to fear from Professor Lupin. What you as students need to be afraid of is the dangerous idea that there's nothing more you need to learn. I'm still learning, just like you are, just like Professor Lupin and Headmistress McGonagall. When you start to think that you can't be proven wrong, then you're the one to fear and repudiate." He sighed. "Thus concludes the lecture. All right, it's only seven o'clock, who has more questions? Slughorn gave out some stiff orders this week, didn't he?"


While Sirius was returning to his duties and Remus was fretting himself into exhaustion over the Greyback trial, Harry was discovering that solving mysteries the Auror way involved a lot of boring paperwork and speculation.

Tonks had sweet-talked the archivist in the Auror records office into giving her free run of the files there and she brought home three boxes of reports -- reports about Regulus, reports about the Death Eaters during the time Regulus was with them, Muggle police report copies from the weeks around Regulus' death. There was one box she didn't bring back with her; it had Regulus' clothes and the contents of his pockets when he was found. She brought the inventory list along, however, and Harry returned to it over and over again as he and Tonks began to build a timeline. Remus often helped in the evenings, though he was mostly quiet and merely did as they asked. Harry sometimes saw Remus watching him and wondered what the other man was thinking.

Regulus had died less than a year before the end of the war, and investigations at the time were not particularly thorough -- a lot of people were dying at the time. There had been special interest in the case because he had been a Death Eater, but the details were still sketchy. For a week beforehand, nobody had seen the young man except his mother, who hadn't been paying much attention; he came home to Grimmauld Place to eat dinner and sleep, and that was all.

"They didn't know the right questions to ask," Harry said to Tonks as he read through the interview with Sirius' mother. It was peculiar to see her words down in black and white, sounding saner -- a little -- than the lunatic ravings of her portrait.

"They didn't know he'd gone and found a horcrux," Tonks answered. "Two."

"He can't have found them much ahead of when he died..." Harry went back to the chart they'd made. "He must have been a hell of a liar to keep so calm. If I had a bit of Voldemort's soul and I knew he was after me for whatever reason, I'd have been a lot less cool about it than he was."

"He was fond of acting," Remus said from the table, where he was bent over a bowl of spaghetti. They both looked at him. "Some of the Slytherins had formed an amateur dramatics troupe. Regulus was their star player."

"So he didn't come home the night before they found him dead....but he left that morning without appearing to have anything wrong with him," Tonks said, consulting another report. "Left the house around nine, disappeared into London, never came home. They killed him -- stabbed, pretty unusual for Death Eaters -- and dumped his body in front of the Leaky Cauldron..."

"Effective warning against traitors," Remus murmured.

"...but he hadn't been dead an hour when he was found, so they must have caught up with him in the early morning."

"Or kept him captive," Harry said.

"But if he didn't hide the cup with the locket, he must have only had the cup that day," Tonks pointed out.

"You're sure Dung didn't sell it?" Remus asked.

"No, we tracked down everything he sold." She offered him the inventory sheet of Dung's iniquitous activities, but he waved it off.

"He must have hidden it somewhere," Harry said, frustrated. "Somewhere other than Grimmauld Place, but -- "

" -- but he didn't have anywhere else," Tonks sighed. "He could have pawned it or shoved it in a trash can, he could have done anything with it."

"He wanted to destroy it," Remus said. "He would have put it somewhere he could go back for it later."

"Besides, it doesn't even look like they knew what he was doing, or they would have cleared away the notes he left behind." Harry put his head in his hands, threading his fingers through his hair. Tonks patted the back of his head.

"Welcome to the Aurors," she sighed.

"I keep going back to his pockets, thinking there must be something there that can tell us. But if they took what it was, then I won't even know that they took it, because it's not there," he moaned.

"Intuition is not a bad thing, Harry," Remus said. "Follow it. You were right about Draco Malfoy." Harry looked up at him, and he smiled. "Ron told me about it."

"What more is there to follow? It's just a list," Harry said, resting his fingers on the tidy sheet of parchment.

Wand - left rear pocket. 9", oak and unicorn hair. Snapped. Unable to recover last spell performed.
Bamboo Quill - left rear pocket. High-end Flourish & Blotts product: self-inking, non-smearing. Nib chipped. R.A.B. monogrammed.
Coin Bag - left front pocket. Leather, gold chain drawstring. S.A.B. to R.A.B. - Happy Christmas embossed. Contents: 2G 4S 1k.
Receipt - left front pocket. 3S kebab and chips special, Roc's Nest food stand, undated.
Ring - left index finger. Band, a silver snake; initials RAB on head, set with two emeralds.
Ring - right front pocket. Band, gold; inscribed with foreign lettering (note -- poss. House Elf script). Corresponds to tan line on right ring finger.
Leather Necklace - neck. Leather thong, tied at nape of neck. Pendant, opaque green stone, silver mounting.
White Necklace - left front pocket. Plastic beads (white), nylon string. Plastic pendant (white). Broken.
Bracelet - left wrist. Three plain leather thongs, bound together with green thread.

"Ask yourself what you don't know about these things," Tonks said. "That's a start. If you want to look at them, I can probably sneak you in -- still got your cloak?"

Harry grinned. "Yeah."

Remus held out his hand. "May I see the list?" he asked. Harry passed it over and Remus studied it. His lips quirked upwards.

"He kept the coin bag Sirius gave him when we were fourth-years," he said. "Sirius was sure Reg burned everything that ever reminded the family of him." His eyes moved further down. "I remember that ring, too. It was a gift from their parents when he did well on his OWLs. They gave Sirius one after his OWLs, but he sold it after he ran off." He handed it back to Harry. "I can't help you, unless you're curious about those things. The Roc's Nest is still open, it's down in Knockturn past the raptor shop. It's the sort of place where you don't want to ask what kind of meat their 'meat kabob' uses."

"You both look like you could use a holiday," Tonks said, as Harry sat back in his chair and rolled his shoulders. "You know, they taught us at the academy that obsession is unhealthy..."

"I'm having dinner with Sirius tomorrow," Harry said.

"Well, that'll be nice -- "

"Maybe he can help, if I'm tactful about it."

Tonks threw up her hands in despair and walked into the bedroom, muttering to herself. Remus winked at Harry.

"She's right. Sirius will tell you, too, Harry. We still have the advantage of knowing what Voldemort doesn't know."

"I just wish we knew what Regulus did know," Harry answered, with a sigh.


End Note: Sanura did a neat illustration of the scene in the Gaunt family crypt from chapter 20, which you can find here. I especially like the random vertebrae in the corner. :D

Special thanks to Metallumai for coming up with the Roc's Nest title.

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