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Remus had been fretful and anxious when Harry arrived, oddly childish in his worry; he asked Harry to swear to him that it hadn't been the wolf that hurt Sirius, and Harry began to understand why his father and godfather and former Professor -- and his enemy -- had been so close in their childhood. Every other hour of every other day, Remus was a quiet, self-sufficient, somewhat closed-off man. Here in the Shack, however -- after the change -- he quite clearly needed caring-for that three teenaged boys must have been ill-equipped to provide. Harry felt a stab of pride that his father had been one to comfort the slightly-bewildered werewolf.

"There were splinters in the wound," he said, sitting next to the bed where Remus lay on his side, curled under mountains of blankets. Harry was wrapped in one himself, since the non-scorching fire Tonks had kindled on the floor didn't give off as much heat as a real hearth fire would have. "I picked out a ton of them. I'll go find the place he did it, if you want, there's bound to be blood."

Remus tilted his head at the floor, and Harry looked down. A small reddish pool, already almost completely dry, stained the wood floor. It led away in a trail of droplets and splatters, out the door.

"It's not as bad as that makes it look, honest," Harry said. "Madam Pomfrey let me take care of him, I saw it. Once I cleaned it off they weren't even that deep."

"If I hurt him...I'd never forgive myself," Remus murmured sleepily. "Is he angry?"

Harry grinned. "Hardly. When I asked if it was you he almost threw me out. He told me that the wolf knows that Padfoot is pack, and that he loves Padfoot and would never hurt him."

"So I do," Remus answered. "Pack, mmh...any news about Fenrir's?"

Tonks had been straightening the room, cleaning up any debris, and now she came to sit on the bed. She stroked his hair, reassuringly.

"No news yet," she said. "I came straight here, and Harry went straight to Sirius."

"I saw Hermione for a minute. She didn't say anything," Harry offered.

"I can go get some news if you want," Tonks said. "The Prophet should be out by now. It's not far to Hogsmeade."

Remus didn't reply; his eyes were closed and his shoulders moved with a slow, exhausted regularity. She studied him for a minute, then slid slowly off the bed.

"Harry, can you stay here?" she asked. "I know we were going to have Sirius do it, but -- "

"I can stay," Harry said, though he was itching to get back to Hogwarts. He didn't want Sirius to think he had abandoned him. Tonks kissed his cheek and ran off, and Harry leaned back in the chair a little. He was prodded in the ribs by Animagus Winter in his pocket, which was a slim but not a small book; he took it out and opened it again, resting it on one knee.

He didn't re-read the inscription; he wasn't certain he could. Ellis Graveworthy must have loved Sirius very much. There was a certain...yearning in the words, a deep affection tempered by uncertainty. Instead he turned to the first page and began to read, picturing Graveworthy as the dry, wise Cerastes, Sirius as the impetuous and shy Polaris.

...he was in the crowd but not a part of it, an intentional dark mar on the face of the good cheer at the bar. They didn't notice, because he smiled and stood his round and because he was handsome, and the handsome are forgiven many things. Already he had an animal air about him, though, and he was wary in this bustling crowd of humanity...


Harry looked up from the book. Remus' eyes were barely slits, but he must have woken when Harry turned the page.

"No," Harry said, embarrassed. "It's Harry."

"Of course it is," Remus mumbled. "Sorry."

"It's all right."

"Did Tonks..."

"She left," Harry said. "To go get a newspaper. She'll probably bring back breakfast," he added. "You can sleep some more."

Remus nodded, but his eyes opened a fraction wider. "I should. If I rest...I could teach again on Monday."

"Sirius can teach for you."

"I don't like to put too much on him."

"He doesn't mind." Harry hesitated, then plunged ahead. "Remus..."

"Mmhm?" Remus asked, pushing himself up to a sitting position. Harry took his arm to help him, settling the blankets across his lap. Sirius was right; even in this state, Harry could see something vital in Remus that Snape somehow lacked. He still fought to believe in something. Harry wondered how much of that fight had been rekindled by Tonks.

"Can I ask you something?" he said. Remus nodded, shivering a little. Harry helped him pull a blanket up around his shoulders, wrapping it across his chest.

"Did you know Sirius fancied blokes?"

Remus turned his head slowly, studying Harry. He opened his mouth, and the corner of his lip began to bleed where it was chapped. He wiped it away with the back of one hand.

"Did he tell you that?"

"No," Harry said. He turned the book around and showed it, inscription-up, to Remus. The older man nodded.

"You found it," he said, and then, "Yes. I knew."

"Sirius told you?"

"Oh christ no," Remus said, with a dry laugh. "Sirius never told a soul. Even with -- " he coughed, "Even with Ellis, he was always...circumspect. Closeted," he added. "It was not a time when such things were deemed acceptable. It still isn't, not really."

Harry closed the book and drew his leg up onto the chair, hooking the heel of his shoe on the edge and wrapping his arms around it.

"He thought he ought to tell you -- our Sirius, the other Sirius," Remus continued, haltingly. "He was afraid you'd see him differently. He thought if you knew, you wouldn't want to see him anymore -- "

"That's not true!" Harry burst out.

"I told him so," Remus said. "He said when you were older, perhaps."

"It's not fair -- "

"I know that," Remus replied. They were silent for a moment. "After he died, I didn't think it mattered."

"No, I guess not." Harry closed the book and set it on the bed, studying his hands.

"Harry..." Remus swallowed and picked up a goblet of water from the table, drinking it slowly. "When we discovered it, Sirius was terrified. I've never seen him so afraid, and he was a year older than Sirius is now." He sipped again. "If you tell him you know, please be gentle. Please don't hurt him."

"I kissed him," Harry blurted. Remus blinked.


"About half an hour ago."

"Oh." He paused. "Did you mean it?"

"What do you mean?"

Remus set the goblet down, slowly. "Harry, you're older than he is and ages more mature. You're both too old for your age, but...this is not a game you can play with Sirius. It's a part of him that frightens him and upsets him. It was hard enough, seeing him afraid to love Ellis..."

"But Graveworthy loved him!"

"Yes. But it took this book to prove it to Sirius." Remus fixed him with almost fever-bright eyes. "Don't hurt him, Harry. Please."

"You don't think it's possible I might feel the same way he does?" Harry asked, angrily. Remus flinched.

"I think I have seen you with girls in the past, and that it is very difficult for a man of your age to be comfortable with anything other than what is...acceptable," he said, his voice hoarse. He took another sip of water and rubbed his forehead.

"How's your head?" Tonks asked, reappearing in the doorway. She carried a Prophet under one arm and a greasy paper bag in the other.

"It's all right," Remus said quietly. Tonks set the bag of food in Harry's lap and sat on the bed, curling up against him with the newspaper. Harry watched, warily, but Remus didn't say anything more on the subject. He let Tonks open the paper and show it to him as she read, closing his eyes and leaning back while she scanned for news of any new werewolf activity.

"Fred and George's shop was attacked late last night," she said. "Apparently they didn't get away with anything and the Aurors are now in search of two individuals with bright blue skin, pointy ears, and Moron written on their foreheads."

Remus laughed a little. Harry grinned.

"Probably not werewolves, there," Remus murmured.

"Probably not. Cannons got trounced again -- uh oh."

"What?" Harry asked, leaning forward. Tonks glanced at Remus, worried, but read the headline aloud.

"Fenrir Greyback To Azkaban," she read. "Ministry officials announced at an early press conference this morning that a verdict has been returned on Fenrir Greyback, a known werewolf and alleged intentional disease-spreader. Greyback has been on trial for several weeks for assault, infection, and attempted murder. It is now confirmed that he has been declared guilty on all counts and has already been relocated to Azkaban prison where he will be serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole. Special holding arrangements have been made..." she trailed off. Remus didn't appear to have reacted; unlike the last moon, when he had wept helplessly against her.

"Tried as a human," he said, finally. "With the same rights and the same punishments. It's a step. Smart of them; even the ones who run wild during the moon couldn't possibly muster enough power to do anything about it this morning. I'm glad...they didn't kill him."

"Why?" Harry asked. Remus opened his eyes and leaned his head on Tonks' hair, looking at him.

"Because we only kill dogs when they attack people." He breathed deeply. "And because now he'll suffer the way I have."

Harry hadn't expected the brief flash of vindictive bitterness in Remus' eyes, and for a moment he understood how exhausting it must have been to fight for the rights of someone who had taken so much from him. Tonks curled closer and rubbed his stomach through his pyjamas.

"Do you want to eat?" she asked softly. "I brought egg and sausage and some toast. Or there's juice and some bananas."

"In a little while," Remus said. "Harry, take what you'd like and go along -- Sirius is probably waiting for you."

"I'll have Dobby bring us up something," Harry said. "Sure you're all right?"

"We'll be fine," Tonks answered as he put the food on the bed.

"Yes. We will be," Remus agreed, gravely.


Harry very carefully did not run back to Hogwarts. He walked, turning over Remus' words in his mind, trying to decide what he could possibly say to Sirius. "Hi" seemed somehow lacking, but "can we do that again" was rather abrupt. He didn't want to do anything just to prove to Remus that he meant it, but he didn't want to scare Sirius off.

Fortunately -- or perhaps unfortunately -- he wasn't faced with the decision immediately. As he walked down the hallway to Sirius' rooms, someone called his name, and he turned to find Colin Creevey running to catch up, long legs covering the distance easily.

"Harry! Hi, how are you?" Colin asked breathlessly. "I'd heard you've been around recently."

"Hi, Colin," Harry said, with a small smile. "I'm all right -- just visiting....Nigel."

"Right -- I was just dropping in myself to pick up some papers for the kids up in the hospital wing. Bit unfair to give them homework, but then again all they do otherwise is sit in bed and cough and throw things at each other. It's a mess," he said frankly. Harry wondered to himself when Colin had grown up -- but then other people than himself had been affected by the war and Colin had more to fear, being a Muggle-born.

"I don't think you'd better," Harry said. "He had an accident last night, he's not feeling very well."

"Nothing serious, I hope?" Colin asked. Harry was about to make a joke when he remembered that Sirius was Nigel.

"No, nothing too bad -- bit of a tumble on some rocks down near the lake," he lied. "I can bring them up, though, when I'm done checking on him."

"Oh, that'd be great. And tell him feel better for me, yeah? I'd better hop it -- Professor Slughorn's letting me use his classroom for some new photographic potions I'm working on. Come say hi if you get the chance!" Colin said, already running off. Harry watched him go in bemusement, then moved on to knock on Sirius' door.

"Come in," Sirius called, and Harry pushed the door open. Glastonbury chirped cheerfully from a perch on the back of a chair, where he was holding a dried apple slice in his claws and mangling it gleefully with his beak. Phoenixes grew quickly and Glastonbury was almost fully grown, his plumage deep crimson and spreading beautifully when he ruffled his feathers. Harry moved forward to stroke the nearly-grown fledgling and found Sirius standing at the window, looking out at the chilly, sullen landscape of the grounds.

He still had no shirt on, but he'd wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and it hung down over his pyjama trousers, the dark blanket contrasting with the bright white flannel. His hair fell carelessly in his eyes, cutting a line across his cheek, and his fingers held the corners of the blanket firmly. He turned to look at Harry and smiled a shy, secret grin that made Harry's pulse jump.

"Hi," he said. Harry swallowed.

"Hi," he answered.

"How's Moony?"

"Feeling pretty awful. Tonks is staying with him, she has food and stuff," Harry said, moving forward slowly. He craned his neck a little to see what Sirius had been looking at. "Fenrir's been sentenced."


"Life imprisonment."

"Good," Sirius said quietly.

"How's your arm?"

"It doesn't hurt much."


They stood in silence at the window, looking out. Hogwarts was wreathed in mist with the promise of snow on the wind, and Harry suddenly missed it with all his heart.

"Do we talk now?" Sirius asked softly, not looking at him.

"Dunno. Never done this before."

"Not with Ginny Weasley?"

"Not with a bloke," Harry answered, and Sirius winced a little. "Well, have you?" he asked.

"Not with someone who mattered," Sirius said. "You matter. Not just to me."

The tacit admission of Harry's place in the war that was going on outside of Hogwarts was not lost on him. He turned to look at Sirius, who continued to stare out the window.

"I told Remus," he said quietly. "He told me not to hurt you."

"I'm all right," Sirius replied. "I'm better than he thinks I am."

Harry reached out and touched Sirius' chin, turning him gently so that they faced each other. He slid his hand around to the back of Sirius' neck and pulled him forward, resting their foreheads together.

"Can it just be -- whatever it is? For just a little while?" he asked. Sirius tilted his head a little, kissing him, warm pressure on his lips.

"The war comes first, is that it?" he said, into the kiss.

"I might die. So might you," Harry said. Sirius kissed him again, parting his lips a little. Harry heard the blanket fall to the floor and felt Sirius' hands slide around his waist, pulling him up against the other man. He was still gripping Sirius by the back of the neck with one hand; he lifted the other to Sirius' injured shoulder cautiously.

"An arrangement," Sirius suggested, kissing the corner of his mouth. "We are this to each other. What we need to be."

"But the war -- "

"Yes," Sirius agreed, his left hand sliding up the small of Harry's back. Harry couldn't recall the last time someone had been so close. The feeling was almost overwhelming. "No promises made. Just us," a kiss on the mouth, "this," a gentle suction on his bottom lip, "each other. And we don't tell," he added, leaning back to meet Harry's eyes.

"I've already told Remus -- "

"Moony understands. But not Ron or Hermione, not anyone else. If we end it, we end it privately. There's less hurt that way."

"You've done this before."

"Not in so many words," Sirius said, ducking his head. "But I do what I have to, to protect myself. To protect you," he added. "You're famous. There'd be scandal. And for all everyone else knows, I'm Nigel Padfoot, three years older than you are."

"I'm of age. I'm not a student."

"I doubt they'd care," Sirius said. "The last Tutor was sacked for being a homosexual."

"That was decades ago."

"Nobody else, Harry," Sirius said. "Or it ends right now."

Harry bit his lip, watching Sirius carefully. Sirius leaned in and kissed him again with a mouth that was full of promise. It was the most physical, visceral sensation Harry had ever felt, and it was too much to deny.

"All right," he said, when it was done. "Nobody else. For now. I won't promise never."

"Now is what I want," Sirius said. His voice was low and rough, almost hoarse, but he didn't kiss Harry again. "I can have some breakfast brought up, if you want some," he said, passing Harry with a slow, lingering movement. Harry swallowed.

"Breakfast might be good," he said. "And Colin Creevey asked me to pick up some papers he said you had."

"Yeah, the homework for the sick kids. Nasty flu," Sirius said. "It's by the door. I can run it up myself, after breakfast. Dobby," he called, apparently to the thin air, and the house-elf appeared with a pop.

"Is Mister Padfoot wanting something?" Dobby asked, then his face broke into a ridiculous grin of delight. "Harry Potter, sir!" he cried.

"Hiya, Dobby," Harry said, exchanging a grin with Sirius. "How're you?"

"Dobby is very well sir, very well," Dobby replied. "He is sometimes being put in charge of pastry, sir, a great honour for a house-elf."

"Grand, good to hear it," Harry said.

"Dobby, can you bring us some breakfast?" Sirius asked. "Lots of breakfast, I'm ravenous. Aren't you ravenous, Harry?"

He looked downright wicked, and Harry felt as if every nerve in his body was attuned to his voice.

"I could eat," he said hoarsely.

"Lots of food, Dobby -- oatmeal and buttery toast -- no, french toast with honey and sugar, and sausages and bacon, and some poached eggs," Sirius said. "And hot tea with milk and sugar. And some straw for Glastonbury."

Dobby bowed, gave Harry another broad grin, and vanished.

"Don't you sound like Enid Blyton," Harry said, grinning.

"Who's that?" Sirius asked.

"Nobody, never mind."

"Are you mocking me, Harry Potter?"

"I'm ravenous, Harry! Aren't you ravenous?" Harry mimicked. Sirius laughed and sat down at the little table where he ate, kicking out the other chair for Harry. Glastonbury took wing and flapped over gracefully, settling on Sirius' bare shoulder and peering around for scraps.

"Well," Sirius said, with what Harry could only categorise as a leer, "I've had a busy morning. So," he added, as Dobby appeared with an enormous tray of food and began to unload it onto the table, "Tell me about Remus. How did he take the news about Greyback?"

"Thanks, Dobby," Harry said, and Dobby saluted and vanished. "Well, he took it all right. He's glad they aren't killing him."

"Moony's a forgiving idiot."

"Well, it means a lot to him that a werewolf's getting punished like a human would."

"I don't care from werewolves, I just think Greyback ought to get what's coming to him," Sirius said, dumping honey on his toast. He licked his thumb and continued. "At least he'll be locked up. But Moony's doing all right, otherwise?"

"Hmm?" Harry asked. He'd been distracted by the sight of Sirius licking his thumb. Sirius grinned at him.

"Moony. He's all right?"

"He seemed tired, but we talked a bit," Harry shrugged, pouring brown sugar on his oatmeal and adding milk to his tea. Glastonbury had scooped up a beakful of dry hay and was swallowing it whole with apparent satisfaction. "Are you coming to Fourteen Back this weekend? I think Tonks'll move Remus there as soon as he's feeling better."

"Sure," Sirius said. They exchanged an almost conspiratorial look over their breakfast, and though Harry worried a little about whether or not he was in over his head, he was enjoying this far too much to care.


Sitting in bed for days on end provided ample time for a person to ruminate on problems, and Remus was an expert. He thought of problems like strange objects, abstract three-dimensional shapes that would fit into the proper parts of his head if only he turned them around enough. He had been trying to find a fit for the letter from Dumbledore since before the moon, and he'd just about got it. It was more devious than was generally expected of Remus J. Lupin, Professor and former Prefect, but that was just as well.

The problem was that Severus Snape was an accomplished Legilimens, so it couldn't be Remus who executed the plan -- and they couldn't know it was a plan. Tonks would either be furious she hadn't been made a part of the plan or furious she had been manipulated without been told; Harry might get rebellious, and sending Sirius to deal with Severus Snape didn't bear thinking about.

There were still a few rough spots that didn't quite fit, but he was polishing them all the time -- while he lay in his bed at Fourteen Back, while he sat on the sofa and read as Harry and Sirius played Exploding Snap on the floor, while he drank tea in the warm kitchen with Tonks and listened to her too-casual chatter. She was too new to his disease to understand how little effort he really expected of her; Sirius already knew, from the nearly-two-years he'd spent as Padfoot and the three years before that he'd spent sneaking out every morning-after with James and Peter to come see Remus. At first they had tried to bring games and toys and things to entertain him, but after a while they had simply come and climbed into bed, all four of them, and lain there in a great heap, overwhelming Remus with their sheer presence, a tangible reminder that he was not alone, not anymore. It was the exception to the rules of being boys; in this one time and place, it was all right to care and to be kind.

Tonks was already learning that what he craved was that presence, the presence he'd lacked for twelve years when his friends had died or gone mad or gone over to the other side. Simply to not be alone, to have her there to touch and feel.

In the meantime, he continued to work out a plan to test the loyalty of a man Dumbledore had trusted implicitly, because Albus Dumbledore had made mistakes in the past. He didn't like thinking this way; it was alien to him, and it was also rather frightening how good at it he was.

Hm...quite Ravenclaw material, aren't you? Do you like to read?

Oh, yes, Hat. I do.

Yes, you're a rather clever child. Very good at thinking circles around others. But we have a secret, don't we?

Does that mean I can't be a wizard?

No, dear child. But I think you had better be with those who feel before they think...people in

He smiled to himself as he sat in his bed on Sunday afternoon with three other Gryffindors. Those who felt before they thought -- that was clear enough.

Tonks was doing paperwork, legs crossed and various reports resting precariously on her knees as she sat at the foot of the bed; Harry was sitting at the desk with Sirius, poring over research books and ostensibly making notes, although Remus doubted the legitimate scholarship of whatever they were writing together on the notepad. They were sitting...very close.

Nothing much had changed, whatever truce Harry and Sirius had come to regarding sex and what had probably been a very surprising kiss for both of them. At least, nothing that Remus could see. Padfoot still slept on Harry's bed, as far as Remus could tell; he refused to actively check, but he noticed that Sirius had come down from the loft that morning as Padfoot.

It wasn't his business. It was not his business. Harry was a grown man, he'd made that very clear, and Sirius would be seventeen -- well, sort of -- in less than two months. Neither of them were babes-in-arms. Additionally, he was in no way their father, godfather, or guardian. Officially, he wasn't even their teacher.

Sitting at the desk with his head close to Harry's, Sirius laughed low and warm, the way he used to laugh with Ellis and before Ellis with Eric (the infamous Muggle disaster, they'd dubbed that one), and before Eric with Matt Byrnbaum. Not for a moment had he been serious about Byrnbaum and they both knew it, and Eric had just been a four-week mess of epic proportions which eventually involved an obliviation when Eric flipped out about the whole "I'm also a wizard, and a dog" thing. But Ellis...

It had been a terrible war and nobody had felt much like laughing, but Sirius had laughed. And Ellis had too, shyly, the way the man always did everything. For a brilliant mind, a Slytherin, and a man who had a knack for coaxing confessions out of people, Ellis was so quiet and shy, always on the edge of any crowd. Watching. Listening. Not maliciously, just...patiently. As if he were waiting for someone.

Perhaps he had been waiting for Sirius. Remus had rejoiced that Ellis never lived to see Sirius sent to prison.

They were so young, Harry and Sirius. So young and so conscious of their own mortality, and who was Remus to deny them anything? They might not live to see eighteen.

He looked away in time to see Tonks watching him, and gave her a tired smile. She set her reports aside and crept up the bed to sit with him, brushing stray hair out of his eyes.

"You should think less," she said quietly. "You'll wear yourself out."

"Thought is easy," he answered. "Action is hard. It's only going to get harder."

"Maybe," she said. "Are you thinking of teaching tomorrow?"

"I think so," he said. "We can do something quiet. In-class essays."

"They had a good time playing Guess The Curse on Friday," Sirius said.

"Guess...the curse?" Remus asked faintly.

"Yeah, I show them the slides you left and they guess what caused it," Sirius explained. Remus looked horrified. "What? They learn, either way, and your lecture was boring. Not your best stuff -- I'm disappointed really."

"If I could stand without falling over I would come over there and strangle you," Remus said. "Harry, do your old professor a favour and hurt him. Greviously."

"What for?" Sirius demanded.

"You're not supposed to go rewriting my lectures, and they'll all start liking you better," Remus answered. Sirius left his place at the desk and jumped onto the bed, draping himself across Tonks' reports and making a mess. Harry came over too, landing almost on top of Sirius and kicking Remus accidentally in the shin. Tonks laughed and shoved them both, and Harry shoved back. In a moment all three of them were laughing -- and it was real laughter, real joy.

He looked down at his hands while the others settled themselves in to discuss without his input whether or not he ought to be allowed to teach. They were still his family, regardless of blood, and if they were to succeed he would have to lie to them, even if it was only temporary.

The last war had been full of lies, tests which were never admitted to be tests, broken promises, dishonesty. He did not want this war to be fought the same way, but he had no choice.

That evening, after Tonks had gone back to her own flat and Sirius had gone back to Hogwarts with Glastonbury (and Harry had sulked that Sirius was gone and fled upstairs) he settled down at his desk and began to compose a letter to Kingsley Shacklebolt, and another to Augustus Pye.

Kingsley, I need your assistance in removing a memory for me; the subject must not be warned or aware that they have been obliviated by a member of the Order...

Augustus, I'd like to meet with you to discuss some work for the Order that you may be particularly equipped for. I'll come by the hospital this week while you're on shift, probably Tuesday...

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