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Author Notes:

Warning: This chapter includes a slash sex scene.

"Padfoot, send Glastonbury to get Tonks," Remus said, not looking away from the young woman sitting in his office. "Now."

"No -- wait," she said, and Sirius hesitated. "Please. I don't want to hurt you -- I mean!" she said, as Sirius raised his wand again. "I don't -- I'm sorry, I don't mean to hurt anyone here. I don't intend to," she corrected herself.

"My door was locked," Remus said. He twisted the knob on the open door; it made an ominous crunching noise.

"I didn't like to wait in the hall," she explained. "I have a letter..."

She raised a hand and slowly reached for a pocket on the inside of her cloak, withdrawing a folded piece of parchment. Sirius moved forward, careful not to step between her and Remus, and took it. He slipped a thumbnail under the plain wax seal and flipped it up.

"It's blank," he said, unfolding the letter.

"Charmed," she said. "Severus Snape told me."

Remus held out his hand for the letter and moved forward, closing the door behind him. Sirius covered the woman -- Arcadia -- while Remus examined the parchment. Glastonbury appeared with a pop and landed on Sirius' shoulder, watching the girl curiously. She watched back.

"Is that a fire bird?" she asked, awestruck.

"Yes," Sirius said. "A phoenix."

"Your pack marker," she said knowingly. "The Order."

"Can you read it?" Sirius asked Remus.

"Yes -- all it says is that she is who she says she is, and that he's been speaking with her. I'm sorry, I've spent time with Fenrir's circle...I don't recognise you," Remus said to her.

"No; I kept hidden," she said. "I came to hear you speak sometimes."

"Oh yes?"

She nodded.

"You said you've come to discuss a treaty," Remus said, folding the letter and putting it in his pocket. He reached out and grasped Sirius' wrist, lowering his wand. "Voldemort doesn't deal in treaties."

"No..." she looked as if she were struggling to find the right words. "I'm not here to speak for him. And not a treaty, really. I've come to make a bargain between packs."

"Packs?" Remus asked, taken aback.

"Yes. Against the Dark Lord. Your pack and mine. I've come a long way, please listen to me," she said anxiously. Remus circled to sit behind his desk and she turned as he moved, tracking him with her eyes. Sirius had the distinct impression that she knew where both of them were -- and would even with her eyes closed.


"Just Arcadia."

"Arcadia, I don't know what you think of me, but I don't have a pack," he said.

"Yes you do -- the Order. I'm sorry, I don't deal with humans very often," she said. "Will you hear me out?"

Remus spread his hands, indicating she should continue. Sirius checked the clock.

"When Fenrir was sent away, we were left without a leader. Some of the older ones said we should wait until the moon and let that sort us out, but the last moon..." she shivered. "Most of the older ones tried to kill each other -- it was just a long, bloody night. Nothing was settled."

"I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"So we -- that is to say, some of us -- sent to ask the Dark Lord what should be done. I'm very popular with the younger ones...he appointed me."

"How old are you?" Remus asked.

"I don't know."

"Do you know how old you were when...?"

"Oh -- just a very small child," she said. "Fenrir says -- said -- that my parents abandoned me."

"Do you think that's true?"

"Not anymore," she said. "He told us that humans abandoned werewolves and even left babies to die, but that isn't so, is it? Your parents didn't abandon you."


"And you had school, and good things..." she eyed his robes appreciatively. "He sent me to listen to you when you spoke, so that he'd know what you were saying. Fenrir...liked me."

Remus' eyes narrowed. She swallowed and continued.

"But I like the idea of living in houses instead of little huts in a bog...I don't see why we shouldn't. I'm not afraid of humans. I don't want prey," she added. "That's all the Dark Lord promises -- that we'll have prey. I want shoes and cooked food -- I want to learn to read. I think we shouldn't trust him. A lot of my pack feel the same way. We've heard about..." she bowed her head. "He told us you slaughtered the Dementors."

"They attacked us first," Remus said gently.

"That was...that sort of power is frightening, but we kill to defend our dens, too," she said. "He was very, very angry -- I was there when the news came."

"You've spent some time in his presence?" Remus asked.

"He doesn't notice me. He doesn't think I'm worth his time -- he tried to be inside my head once, but I showed him things I remember -- hunts and fights. He thinks I'm an animal, like Fenrir was."

"I see," Remus said softly. "You're a natural Occlumens. Interesting."

"I don't know what that is," she said. "But...I saw, watching him..."

"Go on. It's all right."

"He wasn't angry about the Dementors dying," she said. "He wasn't upset that they were no more. He was only upset because he lost. And...Fenrir really thought he cared about us, werewolves, but he hasn't rescued Fenrir, he hasn't even tried -- my people have tried, some of them, and he wouldn't rescue them, either. You told one of my friends that he doesn't care about us, and I didn't really even believe you, but I can see now -- he only cares about winning. I don't want him to send my pack out to die and complain that he doesn't win."

"No; he doesn't care about you," Remus said. She frowned. "It's not comforting, Arcadia, but did you think I would tell you anything different?"

"But you care about us. You risked Fenrir to come tell us." She fixed him with a shrewd look. "Or is it that you think your humans can't defend themselves against us?"

"Arcadia, do you think if we could kill Dementors we can't kill you as well, if we have to in order to defend ourselves?" Remus asked quietly. "Fighting werewolves led by Voldemort would be more difficult, but if I didn't care that you were making a mistake, I would have left you to your folly."

"What would happen if he won?" she asked.

"You know that already, I think," he replied. There was silence while he waited for her to speak again. Sirius watched a complex set of emotions cross her face -- fear, betrayal, anger, resolution.

"Will you deal with us, then?" she asked. "If I brought the werewolves to bear against the Dark Lord? What can you offer to my people?"

"Not much, I'm afraid," he said. "A place with for your children, maybe, but not without another fight."

"Enemies on all sides," she murmured. "Cursed if we side with him; tormented if we side with you."

"But if you do side with us, you also have hope," he said.

"I can't feed my children on hope."

"Humans are fearful of things they don't understand. But the number of werewolves you could bring to our side...the accomplishments you could make in defence of this world...that might tip the balance."


"I can't promise you anything, Arcadia," he said.

"The Dark Lord makes us promises."

"The Dark Lord doesn't think promises are very valuable. I don't break promises I make; thus I make very few," he answered. "I won't bid against a maniac for your soul. I can promise you that if you do die fighting, there will be people to mourn you. Which, I may say, is more than you have now."

She bit her lip. Sirius held his breath. Moony had learned to be highly persuasive in the last twenty years; he'd never seen someone bargain so well with so little.

"How many in the pack feel this way?" Remus asked finally.

"Perhaps fifty. If they come, most of the others will. There are nine....well, troublemakers? Bullies? But without them, we're very strong," she said.

Remus looked at her speculatively. "It won't be easy, Arcadia."

"What choice do we have?" she asked. "What can we do?"

"You'll side with us?"

"Yes," she said, almost defiantly. He nodded.

"For now, stay where you are. Try to convince everyone you can of what you've told me today. Don't bother with the troublemakers -- if you can, push them to the fringes of the pack. Can you keep control?"

"I've been appointed," she said. "They'll have to challenge me directly -- and I can beat them, I think."

"All right. If he asks you to -- no..." Remus looked thoughtful. "If he sends you to attack a single person, a small fight, can you manage to keep them safe and still look like you tried?"

"I think I understand."

"Good. If he sends all of you to attack somewhere -- if he's preparing for battle -- bring everyone you can here, to the school. We can protect you from here."

Sirius sucked in a breath, imagining what would happen if fifty werewolves showed up on the doorstep of Hogwarts.

"What else?" she asked.

"Any news you think we ought to hear...anything you can tell us. Send someone different each time, so that nobody gets too suspicious."

"We could....we could kill some of his people," she offered hesitantly. He shook his head.

"We don't kill except in self-defence," he said. She looked relieved. "You should go now, before you're missed. Wait..."

He stopped her as she stood up. Slowly and carefully he came around his desk to stand in front of her, taking his wand out of his pocket. He touched it to the edge of her ragged burlap cloak, whispering in Latin. Her cheeks flushed.

"It's warm," she said. Her fingers plucked up one corner and she held it between her hands, curious. "Is this what you learned at the school?"

He nodded. "There's just one more thing...before you go."

She looked at him expectantly.

"How did you get into the school?"

She frowned. "I came through the forest, of course. Is that all?"

"Can you get out the same way?"

"Yes -- you should let me go alone."

He nodded and stepped back, gesturing at the door. She left silently, bare feet hardly making any sound on the stone. Remus watched her walk down the corridor, turn a corner to the stairwell, and descend.

"How old do you imagine she was?" he asked.

"Maybe twenty," Sirius said.

"Twenty-three at the most."

"Voldemort thought he had an easy puppet?" Sirius suggested.

"Perhaps. I'm not inclined to believe in this much luck."

"You think she's a spy?"

"No...but she might be a pawn."

"You'd better go talk to McGonagall," Sirius said. "She's not going to be very happy if she suddenly finds a small village camped out at the front gates."

"Yes...I imagine I should," Remus said. "Can you teach my first class until I get there? The notes are in the drawer."

Sirius nodded. "Should I still send Glastonbury for Tonks?"

"No -- I'll tell her tonight."

"Better leave out how pretty the girl was," Sirius said.

"Was she?" Remus asked. Sirius snorted.


Dear Sirius,

I'm sorry I wasn't awake when you and Remus left this morning. I wanted to say goodbye, since I won't see you again until the next weekend unless you're going to be free Thursday. You might cancel on Firenze just this once, you know. We could go to Hogsmeade with Ron and Hermione for dinner.

There isn't much to do here, really, just more research. I got so bored today I went out and helped Bowman in his garden. I don't remember the last time I did anything so mindless -- probably detention sometime. It's different, though, now. I don't mind it. It's a relief, in fact. Isn't that strange?



It had been strange, at first, having Tonks around. Remus was so used to living inside his own head that for a long time she'd had to prompt him to share what he was thinking. He'd trained himself over the years to trust only his own judgement, to be wholly responsible for himself alone, and to act without requiring reassurance. He'd had to. There hadn't been anyone for a long, long time.

And to be fair to Tonks, he'd struggled against telling her anything for a long time. He didn't want to weigh her down with his worries as well as her own, he didn't want to seem weak in her eyes. In a sense, he'd had to learn how to talk again.

At the moment she was sitting at his desk, brushing and fluffing and re-colouring her hair, using her reflection in the window as a mirror. He lay on his side in the wide, comfortable bed in his room at Fourteen Back, watching her.

"If I could look like anyone, who do you think I should look like?" she asked, gathering up her suddenly-long, suddenly-brown hair and piling it on top of her head.

"That's a double-edged sword," he said.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if you didn't look like you, I'd feel as though I were having an affair."

She laughed.

"And," he continued, "If I told you I wanted you to look like someone, or even just look a certain way, the implication would be that I don't like the way you look now."

"You don't like the pink much," she said. "Admit it."

"Well, it wouldn't be my first choice personally, but it suits you," he said with a smile.

"All right, but really -- I mean, everyone has fantasies. There must be some famous person you've wished you could romance."

"Yes, but I wouldn't want you with her face."

She left the chair and came to the bed, her hair still long and chestnut-coloured as she flopped down next to him. "Sometimes -- for a while, not anymore -- I thought maybe you only wanted me because I was the only chance you had."

He looked at her, quietly. "That's not true."

"I know that, now." She rolled over and propped herself up on her elbows, looking sideways at him. "Really, there's nobody you'd want me to look like?"

"It's not my decision."

"That's not an answer, not really."

"Your face is not the reason for any of this," he said. "And never was. I understand appearances, Tonks. I understand how they change. I've watched my own face change -- even if you weren't able to change yours on a whim, you haven't lived long enough to see yourself age, to really grasp how unimportant the outer layer is in comparison to what lies underneath. I won't say -- " he bit his lip.


"I won't say that I don't find you desireable, Tonks," he said, feeling as if that kind of phrase was something no right-thinking English man ought to say. "Your appearance is a part of that. But I've always -- the few times I've been really in love, you know, I've always loved the mind first, and the body on account of it."

"Well, I think your grey hair is hot," she said, and he laughed. "I do!"

"You're a twisted woman, no doubt," he replied. She rolled over and curled up against him, pulling his right hand over so that he held her tightly.

"You've been gnawing at something all evening," she said. "I've been watching you tumble it around in your head. Is it something you can tell me about?"

He pressed his face against her hair, closing his eyes. "It's the letter from Snape."

"The one you told Harry and me about at dinner? Delivered by the girl?"

"Yes. It was more than just a letter of introduction. I didn't want to tell Harry...he gets so wrought up about things, and it wasn't written to him, anyway."

"Does he have news?"

"He didn't say -- he just wants to meet with me again. He's given me a date -- this Saturday. I hope he wants to talk to me about the werewolves. They seem to trust him, which is....unbelievably odd, actually."

"You hope, but...?"

"But I wonder if he hasn't managed to find out more about the horcruxes, or if he knows when Voldemort will attack again. I doubt it will be good news."

"Someday," she said, "after this is over, I'm going to take you somewhere sunny, some beach -- and not some dreary seaside, I mean a real beach somewhere tropical -- and the deepest worry we will have all day is what flavour of daiquiri to order."

It took him a while to answer. "I never think about the future. I learned a long time ago that wishing for after is dangerous."

"Remus, there will be After, some day," she said. "And I have to at least plan that both of us will be there, or they start to win before the fight even commences. That's why mum and dad talked about grandchildren..." She twisted and rolled over, facing him, propping herself on one elbow. "If we're afraid of the future then they win, but if we believe in it, they can't. Voldemort can't stop me naming the children we're going to have After. He can't stop me thinking about how old Pulcherrima has to be before I can teach her how to dye her hair."

Remus groaned. "No child of mine is going to be named Pulcherrima, Tonks."

She smiled. "See? It's so easy to think about After." A bright smile crossed her face. "That's a good name! After! It has all kinds of good meaning, and -- " she burst out laughing. "This is my son, After Lupin -- yes, we named him after his father..."

"At least we know your mum would approve," he sighed. "Honestly, Tonks -- "

"Good name for child #2! We can alternate surnames..."


"Sorry," she said with a grin. "It's hard to make you laugh. I have to take the opportunity where I find it. you ever think about kids?"

"I'm a teacher. I think about little else."

"No, I mean...your kids. Potentially. Do you want kids?"

"I don't know. It's been years since I had a reasonable belief that I might one day have the opportunity. When I was younger I did,'s a dangerous time. And I have a lot of kids, so if none of them are ever my blood..." he shrugged.

"Typical Remus Lupin answer. Doesn't actually answer the question and makes it impossible to press the point." She kissed his nose.

"As I was saying," he said sternly, "I still need to meet with Severus. If it goes well, I'll probably tell Harry about it. If it goes badly...I'm going to need you. As an Auror. Your advice. I need to know that I can trust you to tell me honestly what you think."

She nodded, soberly. "Always."


He leaned over to blow out the candles on the nightstand. He was almost asleep when he heard her chuckle a little.

"I do think grey hair is sexy," she whispered.

"I like the pink," he replied muzzily, "but purple looks awful on you."

Her laughter was the last thing he heard before he slept.



Firenze might cancel anyway if it's overcast, so I'll work on some atmospheric charms. If he does, I'll send Glastonbury to get you and we'll sneak out. It's only another day until the weekend, anyway.

You need to get out more.

Or stay in more.



By two o'clock on Thursday afternoon Harry was ready to leave at a moment's notice, and by five he was pacing. Remus, arriving by floo after having eaten dinner at Hogwarts, grinned as he stepped out onto the hearth. Glastonbury was perched on his shoulder.

"I don't suppose it's of any use to warn you that going out right now is dangerous," Remus said, as Harry held up his arm for Glastonbury to fly to. "Sirius says Firenze has told him the auguries are inauspicious, which he thinks is Centaur-speak for cloudy night, eh?"

"It'll be four of us," Harry reminded him. "We won't leave Hogsmeade. It's been a lot safer since the Dementors attacked."

"That's true, but don't let your guard down."

"You're starting to sound like Moody."

"Yes, well. Moody's still alive, much to his credit, and I'd like you to remain that way as well. Just keep an eye cocked for trouble, that's all I'm asking."

Harry nodded. "I promise, Remus. Ready, Glas?"

Glastonbury whistled excitedly.

"All right...take me to Sirius."

The world melted away again, colours blurring and running together until they re-formed, darkly, into a row of trees and a shadowed snowbank. Definitely not Hogwarts, but before he could get his bearings, someone grabbed him from behind. His immediate instinct was to struggle, but the scent that enveloped him was familiar: dust and soap, scorched wood (the hazard of phoenix ownership) and classroom chalk.

"Sirius!" he said, scoldingly.

"Yes?" Sirius purred against his neck.

"Oh..." All thought of shouting at him for being a bloody fool and leaping on someone with as many enemies as Harry had went straight out of his head. Sirius bit his neck. "Mmm..."

"I agree," Sirius said, letting him go. "Told you I'd send Glas for you."

"I didn't think he'd take me here," Harry answered, paying enough attention to recognise the looming shadow of the Shrieking Shack in the distance. "As meeting places go, Padfoot..."

"Believe me, you'll be grateful," Sirius said, grabbing his arm and leading him down the road into Hogsmeade. "You won't believe what Ron and Hermione did."

"Oh god..."

"I only just managed to wrangle five minutes to warn you," he continued. "I told Hermione that she and Ron could come have dinner tonight in Hogsmeade and that you were coming, and Ron had the bloody stupid idea that they ought to find you a date -- "

Harry stopped, staring at him in horror. "What?"

"And then they thought they ought to find me a date, because they didn't want me to be the fifth wheel..."

"You can't date students!" Harry said hotly, jealousy blinding momentarily. "What did they do?"

"That's why I came to warn you! Ron had Ginny come along -- "

"Oh, no."

"And Hermione dug up some bird named Bell for me," Sirius finished. "She graduated last year, I guess."

"Katie Bell? Has Hermione utterly lost her mind?" Harry asked.

"Hermione said she's a reserve player on the Harpies," Sirius said. "She seems nice enough."

"Katie Bell!"

"All right, all right, hang on," Sirius said, moving to stand in front of Harry, blocking his way. He put up his hands. "Just listen a minute, all right? I've got more experience at this than you."

"What do you mean, this?" Harry asked. "My best friend set you up with a moving target for bad luck and me with my ex-girlfriend!"

"Well, Ron did that -- not the point, not the point," Sirius said. "More experience with being set up with girls you're not interested in, is what I meant."

"More experience...not telling," Harry said.

"You promised, Harry," Sirius reminded him. "You promised this was between us."

"Nobody cares, Sirius."

"Everybody cares, and if you think otherwise you're an idiot," Sirius retorted. "Just listen, all right?"

Harry crossed his arms. "Fine."

"People've been doing this to me for almost four years," Sirius said. "It doesn't mean anything. It's just like having Hermione along. It's not a big deal. We still get to have dinner together, right?" he stepped closer and gave Harry a dangerous smile. "I'll make it up to you this weekend. I couldn't talk Hermione out of it without her asking why, and once Hermione starts asking why she doesn't stop until she gets an answer or a broken nose."

"I don't think a broken nose would stop Hermione," Harry said doubtfully.

"My point exactly." Sirius was close enough now that Harry could feel his body heat. "This way she doesn't even ask. And you and I," he kissed Harry, "get to sit next to each other," another kiss, "and imagine what we'd be doing if we were alone. Now," he added, drawing back, "Come on. They'll be waiting for us."

Harry walked quietly with Sirius down to the village, following him past the Hog's Head and down a side-street to a little eatery next to a book-shop, where the others were waiting. Harry greeted Ginny with a guilty hug and said hello to Katie, while Ron clapped him on the shoulder and Hermione beamed at him and Ginny. Sirius, Harry had to admit, knew how to cover himself; he didn't think very highly of Sirius' deception, but he did admire the skill with which he executed it. He was all things charming to Katie, asking her about playing for the Harpies and gallantly ordering wine for the table, pouring it with an expertise that made him seem as if he really were the twenty-something tutor, Nigel Padfoot, instead of a nearly-seventeen-year-old boy who was desperately covering a very large, very frightening secret.

Ron and Hermione hadn't seen much of Harry after the attack in the forest, and until they had reassured themselves of his health they paid rather more attention to him than made Harry comfortable; Ginny squeezed his hand carefully and seemed content just to have been smuggled out of school and be sitting with him, peppering Katie with questions whenever Sirius fell silent. It was...well, surprisingly enough, it was a good meal. These were his friends, no matter what, and they were full of news of the school that Harry missed, being gone from it. He wondered if leaving had even been worth it -- he didn't feel very useful to anyone at the moment, and at least if he were doing lessons he'd be making something out of all this time he suddenly had on his hands.

And through it all, there sat Sirius, looking at him hungrily whenever the others were distracted, licking the corner of his lip to catch a stray drop of wine, grinning at his jokes. Every nerve in his body was aware that Sirius was close enough to touch, sitting just there with Glas perched on his shoulder.

Ginny had to be snuck back into school before bedtime and Ron and Hermione wouldn't have been able to linger much past that at any rate; Katie had early practice and was a little too reluctant to go, but Sirius gently and apparently regretfully cajoled her into leaving. He told Hermione that he'd be along back to the castle as soon as he'd walked Harry out of town; she didn't like him going alone, but he promised to use the underground passageways.

It was bitterly cold and the wind was blowing fiercely as they left the pub, but instead of steering him back up the road to the Shack, Sirius pulled him aside and into the lee of an enormous old oak tree. Just past it, Harry knew, was the path that led into the hills where the other Sirius, the first Sirius, had lived in the caves.

It was hard to think of that Sirius and this Sirius, especially when this Sirius was pressing him against the rough bark, all eager hands and mouth tasting of wine.

"Told you I'd make it up to you," he said, as warmth from a particularly well-timed charm washed over Harry. His skin tingled and he felt as if sparks would leap from his fingertips if he moved them; it wasn't actually a warming charm at all, but some kind of, of...

Harry tilted his head back as another surge spread across his skin, licking deliciously over the insides of his wrists, the hollows of his collarbones, the edges of his jaw. Sirius moaned and thrust against him almost desperately, as if he were proving something -- to himself or to Harry, Harry wasn't quite sure, but all he could do was gasp and try to keep up. It was too fast, much too fast, so fast he couldn't get his breath. It was over before he'd even properly registered what was going on, that they were having it off fully dressed up against a tree in the snow in November.

Glastonbury, who apparently knew the definition of 'discretion' rather better than Sirius sometimes did, had betaken himself off somewhere and now returned, fluttering down to land on Harry's shoulder even as Harry kissed Sirius goodbye. He could almost still feel Sirius' lips on his right up to the moment when he arrived again at Fourteen Back, fortunately upstairs. He staggered against the dresser and leaned on it, breathlessly. Glastonbury nipped his ear and vanished.

He murmured a cleaning spell but then bundled up his clothes and threw them in a pile of laundry to be washed anyway. Tomorrow was Friday, and he would have time to wash his things and come up with one or two imaginative ideas of his own before Sirius arrived with Remus for dinner and to stay the week-end. It would be a bit more difficult to come up with reasons for sneaking off without the convenient excuse of necessary bed rest, but considering the show that Remus and Tonks had given Harry not too long ago, he rather thought they'd be understanding.

He came downstairs in his pyjamas to get a glass of water and found Remus at the kitchen table, working on a bit of parchment.

"Dinner go well?" Remus asked, smiling at him.

"Yeah," Harry said reservedly. "It was good to see Ron and Hermione for a bit. And Ginny too," he added. Remus didn't comment, for which Harry was immensely grateful. "Working on anything interesting?"

"Nothing for the Order -- not directly, anyway," Remus replied. "Just some know how it is when you can't sleep."

Harry nodded. "Remus..."


"What do we do if we can't figure out how to destroy the horcruxes?"

Remus considered him, the hollows under his eyes making his eyes themselves glitter in the dim kitchen.

"I don't know. We'll just have to find a way."

"If we don't find a way by January...maybe I could go back to Hogwarts. Just until I'm needed," Harry said slowly. "I miss it."

"We'll have to see come January," Remus replied.

"All right. Goodnight, Remus."

"Sleep well, Harry. Try not to worry too much."

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