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Remus was well-used to the less savoury parts of London. He and Sirius had gone adventuring there when they were younger -- sometimes he and Ellis had worked there too -- and although he had not spent his entire exile during the time after James and Lily's death in England, he had gotten to know London pretty well when he had.

He sat in the greasy little dark-windowed cafe, the address Snape had given him on the letter sent with Arcadia. The food was too terrifying to consider, but the tea was nearly drinkable. Despite this it was crowded, even for the lunch hour. He'd had to fend off two people already who wanted to take the other chair at the table. Then again, the cafe was also very small.

"Is this seat taken?"

He looked up at the man standing over him -- not Snape but a slightly younger man, with pale brown hair and green eyes.

"I'm sorry; I'm waiting for someone," he said politely. The man smiled and sat. Remus knew the smile; he would have to, by now. Snape's sardonic little smirk.

"Polyjuice," Remus said quietly.

"I find it helpful," Snape agreed. "I stole the hair from a passing Muggle; believe me, it would not be my first choice of disguises."

"How do I know you're the man who was sent to meet me?"

"Don't be a fool."

"It's not foolish," Remus answered. "I have no way of knowing that my contact's communications weren't intercepted. For all I know, you could be the Dark Lord himself. I won't transact with someone whose face I can't recognise."

"I have no way of proving it."

"Where were you in the forest?"

A brown eyebrow quirked. "On the platform with the last of the explosives. And I sent the letter with Arcadia, an intelligent if somewhat barbaric young woman."

"High praise from you," Remus answered.

"Perhaps so. We cannot meet too often," Snape continued in a low voice. "I have the Dark Lord's trust, but I think we may both agree that he is notoriously...fickle in such things."

"I think paranoid and sociopathic are the words you're looking for," Remus said.

"Irrelevant," Snape countered. "I haven't much news, but I have enough. It pertains to the horcruxes."

"Oh? Have you found the sixth?" Remus asked, barely containing his eagerness.

"No...but then again, neither has he," Snape said. He sipped his tea, thoughtfully. "Draco has been a useful tool. It becomes bewildering, recalling who knows what....but he and the Dark Lord both believe my loyalty is complete. Likewise, the Dark Lord looks on him as a favoured son."

"I'm sure he enjoys that very much," Remus murmured.

"He is a child, Lupin."

"Yes; so was Harry, once."

A bare flicker of something crossed Snape's face. Anger -- possibly regret.

"And again we stray from the point," Snape said, the implication more than clear: Lupin couldn't keep on the point. "The Dark Lord has...confided certain things in me. Perhaps I should say he has made indications. One of these is that while the majority of his...particular belongings are safe, or rather he believes them to be so, there is one which is not. He does not know where it is and he has very little idea of how to reacquire it. It...distresses him."

He waited for Remus to react; clearly he expected surprise or amazement.

"I know," Remus said quietly.


"I know where it is, and why he can't reach it."

"Do you really," Snape drawled.


"What is to be done? Is it in your possession?"

"No," Remus answered. "But it's secure."

"Well, where is it?"

Remus shook his head. "Some things are better left unsaid for now. Can you warn me if he decides to go after the others?"

"If I discover such a thing, yes."

"Listen..." Remus shook his head. "You're playing a dangerous game. You could come back with me today and find safe haven. No one would think less of you."

"Are you absolutely out of what passes for your mind?" Snape asked. "If we left the running of the Order to you we'd all be dead inside of a week. You honestly want the best agent you have to come hide like a child?"

"We're winning already."

"Yes, thanks to me!"

Remus covered his eyes with one hand. "All right. It was only a suggestion. You're useful where you are."

"Yes. I am." Snape steepled his fingers. "There's other news. He's been concerned with the werewolves, but he believes that to be sorted; now he's turning his attention fully to the Order. He wasn't pleased when the Dementors were destroyed."

"I imagine not," Remus said with a small smile.

"It's no laughing matter."

"I am not laughing. What do you mean by turning his attention to the Order?"

"He knows, more or less, who the members are. Those at Hogwarts should be safe -- you, the children, the Headmistress. He's sending...groups to deal with the rest."

Remus tensed. "Groups?"

"Yes -- it's a waste of time and resources, but he sees no other way. He will chase down member after member, one at a time -- he is nothing if not painstaking," Snape added.

"I need to warn Moody -- "

"He's not going to start at ten in the morning on a Saturday," Snape said, grasping his arm when he started to rise. "Sit down, idiot."

Remus sank back into his chair. "When? And who, do you know?"

"I can make educated guesses. I would imagine the easily accesible -- the Weasleys in Diagon, Pye at the hospital. Yes, he knows about Pye," Snape said, when Remus scowled. "And the Aurors, I should think."

"The Aurors?"

"Easy to trap and ambush."

Remus nodded, feeling suddenly very still; when he moved, if he moved, he would have to leave. He would not sit and play games with Severus Snape if Tonks was in danger.

Or the twins, a voice chimed in guiltily. Or the twins and Pye.

"Is there anything else?" he asked. "Do you need anything?"

"Many things, none of which you can provide," Snape answered. He stood, resting his hands on the table. "Watch your step."

Remus carefully and slowly counted to a hundred after Snape left, vanishing into the crowd of people. He left enough money on the table to pay both the bills and returned to the street, moving cautiously. He did not start to run until he was a block away from the cafe, and then he bolted with unseemly haste for the Leaky Cauldron and a safe place to Apparate. He went straight to Bowman's garden; Bowman himself was spreading manure on his flowerbeds and waved at him as he ran past.

"Tonks?" he called, ducking through the kitchen door hastily. "Sirius? Harry?"

There was no verbal reply, but a thud and a scuffling noise from the living room; he drew his wand and looked around the doorframe cautiously.

Harry was on the floor, sitting up and apparently trying to buckle his belt; Sirius was straightening his hair furiously.

"Bollocks, I thought he'd take longer," Harry hissed to Sirius, and Remus had a moment of relief.

"Where's Tonks?" he asked, and Harry and Sirius both turned.

"Er -- she's ah -- " Sirius stammered.

"Here or somewhere else?" Remus said, making it easy on them. He would torment them for getting caught with their pants down later.

"Her flat," Harry said hastily.

"Right. Sirius, take Glastonbury and go to the Weasleys' joke shop in Diagon. Tell them to set every trap they have and keep a close eye out. Then you find out where Kingsley is and warn him that the Death Eaters are going to be targeting Aurors," Remus said. "Harry, go with Sirius. And you'd better get Augustus Pye and bring him to Bowman's house. I'll be back to get him into the cottage. Sirius, you'll have to re-introduce yourself to him."

"What?" Sirius called after him, but Remus was already running back out into the garden. He took the risk and Apparated directly into Tonks' hallway; luck was with him and there were no Muggles in the corridor.

She answered looking flushed and half-dressed, and Remus realised he must have been pounding rather harder than necessary on her door.

"What's happened?" she asked sleepily. "You look frantic. Come inside."

She barely had the door shut before he moved instinctively forward and wrapped his arms around her tightly, relief flooding him.

"What's all this then?" she asked. "Have I done something brilliant without knowing it? What time is it? I was asleep..."

"What on earth were you doing asleep at this hour?" he asked, not letting go.

"I was up with Harry and Sirius after you went to bed," she answered, hugging him back and then gently shoving him away. "We played cards for ages, I thought I shouldn't wake you so I came back to the flat. What is it, what's wrong? Oooh, bloody hell," she said. "It's Snape, isn't it?"

"Voldemort's going after Aurors," he said. "Specifically. He's sending...I don't know, squadrons, groups -- "

"Remus, calm down a bit," she said, resting one hand on his chest. "I'm all right, really. Have you told Kingsley or Moody?"

"I sent Sirius," he said. "He's gone to tell the Weasley boys and Pye, too."

"Snape gave you a list, did he?"

"As good as."

"Well, we're natural targets, aren't we?" Tonks said.

"Not reassuring, Tonks."


"Aurors aren't immortal, you know. We lost Frank and Alice -- "

"I know, Remus," she interrupted. "Believe me. Nobody knows better than I do. Merlin, you're going to have a heart attack."

She pulled him into the kitchen and handed him a kettle from the stove. He looked down at it, curiously.

"Make tea," she said. "It'll help your nerves. Something to do."

Obediently if confusedly, he filled the kettle with water and set it on the stove to heat, Muggle-fashion.

"I didn't mean to barge in," he said, as she put some bread in the toaster. "Sorry."

"It's all right," she answered. "Can you stay?"

"Not for long -- Sirius is bringing Augustus Pye back with him. I trust the twins to take care of themselves, but Pye's a bit of an innocent."

"I wouldn't cast too many stones about that, if I were you," she replied, leaning against the counter next to him. "Remus, you have realised that battling Dark wizards is a good portion of my job? I mean, essentially it's what I do."

"Well, yes, I knew that, but..."

"Bit abstract, was it?" she asked gently.

"Sort of," he muttered. The teakettle whistled and he whisked it off the stove, pouring it into the teapot even as he dropped a pair of tea-bags into it. "It's not a job, for me I mean. It's just life, dangerous things happening...I forget you're trained for it."

He filled the mugs hanging on hooks under the cabinet and offered her one. She smiled.

"See? Told you it would help," she said, adding sugar to hers. "Drink up or you'll keep Pye waiting in Bowman's garden -- though he'd probably be interested in Mrs. Jenkins' ginger jam."

"Guaranteed to cure what ails you and a few things that weren't."

"Also cleans silverware and windows," she grinned. "Go on."

"Come with, Tonks."

"Like this? Let a girl get a wash and put her face on before you drag her off," she said.

"Your face grows on you," he said. "Listen, just for my peace of mind, all right?"

"Remus, this is my job."

"It's not your job to be set on in your own home by a mob of Death Eaters," he said gravely. She frowned.

"Let me pack a bag, all right?" she asked. "And I've got to send an owl to Moody. Won't be a mo -- you can take my bag and I'll come to the cottage when I'm done at the office."

"Tea-making, bag-carrying -- tell me the truth, Tonks," he said. "You're keeping me around for the chores, aren't you?"

She kissed his cheek. "I'll go pack. You look after the toast."


They Apparated back to Bowman's garden to find Pye engaged in deep conversation with Mrs. Jenkins, holding a jar of ginger jam up to the light. Nearby, Harry and Sirius were eating crusty bread with marmalade.

"Hullo, Remus!" Pye said. "Have you been rummaging in my brain?"

"I'll explain inside," Remus said. "Sorry, Mrs. Jenkins, we have to take away your disciple."

"Honestly, Remus," Pye asked him as they walked across the grass, "What've you done to me? This boy says he's Sirius Black and that I've known him for ages."

"Bit of a memory modification," Remus said sheepishly. "Nothing major. We had to -- you had to deal with Snape, Snape's a legilimens, and I didn't want him knowing about Sirius until I knew he was on our side."

"Did I say it was all right?"

"Yes," Remus lied. "But you don't remember."

"All right then," Pye said agreeably. Tonks fixed Remus with a narrow look.

"Stop here," Remus said. To them, Fourteen Back was perfectly visible, but Pye needed letting in on the secret. Remus glanced around as if expecting Lord Voldemort himself to drop out of a walnut tree.

"Fourteen Back, Richard Court Alley, Godric's Hollow," he said in a low voice. Pye started backwards as the cottage appeared to him for the first time. "Come inside and I promise I'll explain everything."

Tonks went into Remus' room, abandoning her bag on the bed. Sirius and Harry dropped into chairs at the kitchen table, kicking one out for Pye.

"I've had...information," Remus said. "That the Dark Lord is making targets of certain people in the Order. He knows you're one of them," he said to Pye. "Sirius, did you talk to the twins?"

"Only briefly," Sirius said. "They blew something up and I had to get out or be turned into a whelk. I don't even know what a whelk is," he added. "They got the message, though, and they said they'd tell Kingsley."

"Is there a reason I was abducted from the hospital in the middle of shift while the Weasley boys get left to their explosions?" the Healer asked.

"They're a" Remus pursed his lips. "Well, more violent than you."

"What with that oath I made to do no harm and all," Augustus said agreeably.

"Sorry, Pye."

"Quite all right, Lupin; I've never been a fugitive before. It's interesting."

"We brought him straight here," Harry said, then turned to Augustus. "You can stay if you like, we can transfigure the sofa. Do you suppose we could get an Auror to keep an eye on him if he goes back to St. Mungo's?" he asked Tonks.

"Don't see why not; it's a pretty credible threat," she answered.

"How utterly fascinating. He's not aware that I'm only marginally useful, then?" Augustus asked cheerfully.

"You're our Healer. You're extremely useful," Remus replied. "Particularly considering the amount of trouble that these two get into," he added, jerking his head at Sirius and Harry.

"Well, that's true. I don't exactly mind staying here, but I'd rather not sleep on a transfigured sofa for more than a few nights. Then again, you're right, the hospital isn't very safe."

"We could put him up with Fred and George," Harry suggested. "Or send him up to the school."

Remus looked thoughtful. "I'd like you to stay here until Monday, if you've no objection. If you want to keep working, we'll have an Auror assigned to you and you can stay with the twins; if you're up for a bit of a holiday, there's Hogwarts. You could probably justify it -- Sprout has a world-class greenhouse."

"Well, I have a day to decide," Augustus said with a grin. "And I want to go back and talk to Mrs. Jenkins some more -- she's past mistress of the art of medicinal jams."

"I wasn't aware there was such a thing," Tonks laughed.

"I think she invented it," Augustus agreed gravely. "Is it all right, do you suppose? To go talk to her, I mean."

"Stay within shouting distance," Remus warned, and Augustus nodded and left. Remus turned to Tonks. "If they're tracking people down -- Draco had no clue where we were when he Apparated with us, did he?" he asked. She shook her head.

"He might be able to get back here, but I doubt he'd try -- still, we might want to make the garden inApperable. If the Death Eaters get hold of the Jenkinses, it'll be no good turn we've done them," she said. "I'll get on it."

"Thanks, Tonks. We'll have to call a meeting, I think; Grimmauld Place," Remus said. "Bill and Fleur are likely targets as well. It'll be hard to get everyone together on short notice, but we ought to manage it by Thursday. You'll have to cancel with Firenze, Sirius."

Sirius nodded.

"Until then, nobody goes anywhere alone. Especially you, Harry."

"That's hardly fair -- I'm stuck here all day while you're at school and Tonks is at work," Harry protested.

"Take Bowman with you, he can at least run for help, or floo straight to the twins' shop and ask one of them to come with you where you need to go. I mean it, Harry," Remus said sternly.

"Fine, whatever," Harry grumbled.

"Well, I'm going to go fix the garden, then I'll see about finding Moody and Kingsley and talking strategy," Tonks said brightly.

"I have owls to send -- lots and lots of owls," Remus groaned. "I should be done packaging them all up by the time you're back from the garden -- I'll go with you and we can stop off at the owl post office in London."

"Harry and I will stay out from underfoot," Sirius announced, as Tonks patted Remus' shoulder and followed Augustus out into the garden.

"Is that what the young people are calling it these days," Remus drawled. Harry turned pink. "I have to sit on that sofa, you know."

"Sorry," Harry muttered. Remus shoo'ed them off.


Remus had apparently misjudged his timing, or perhaps his dates were off; Thursday was the day before the full moon. Then again, by the time he was well enough again after the full moon, it might have been too late. Living with Remus, seeing him on a daily basis each morning and night as something other than a professor, Harry was beginning to understand just what it really meant to be a werewolf. It meant measuring time in three-week segments because that all-important fourth week was a blank space. It meant doing as much as possible at the weakest possible moment just before, so that in the days after, things went smoothly.

Life became a series of before and after, and Remus was having a bad before.

The meeting was held at 12 Grimmauld Place, which smelled now of unlived-in rooms and dust. Not the same sort of dust it had collected when Harry had first come there; Molly's thorough cleaning had taken care of the vermin. It was sterile, now, and it smelled that way.

The voices of the Order members echoed off the ceiling of the kitchen, raised a little now that the meeting was over. It had gone rather well, at least Harry thought so. No one had panicked. Arrangements had been made for Order members who lived alone to find others to stay with. Rosters had been drawn up for off-duty Aurors to check on members and on each other. St. Mungo's wasn't far from the Ministry, so Augustus Pye -- who had wisely chosen a week-long holiday at Hogwarts over sleeping on the sofa at Fourteen Back -- was to move in with Kingsley Shacklebolt, who could see him safely to the hospital before handing him off to whoever was supposed to look after him. Harry was not displeased with the results of the meeting, except for the way it had affected Remus.

"Job well done, Harry," Arthur said, as Harry made his way towards the kitchen door. The older man clapped him on the back and gave him an encouraging smile. "You'll be running the Order singlehandedly soon, eh?"

"Something like that," Harry murmured.

"Well, I think you did a fine job leading the meeting and keeping everyone in line. You know you can yell anytime if you need our help."

"Thanks, Mr. Weasley," Harry said. Arthur moved on in the opposite direction and Harry continued to press forward, aiming for the stairwell up to the living room. Behind him, he heard Sirius talking to the Weasley twins.

Upstairs, in the living room, Remus was sitting on the sofa with his coat off, his sleeves rolled up and his shirt open at the throat. His face was an unhealthy shade of grey and he was staring, eyes half-lidded, at a goblet of water held in his hands.

"Feeling better?" Harry asked quietly. Remus looked up and gave him a tired smile.

"Feeling awful, Harry. That was my job; I should have known better than to schedule the meeting today. Nobody's been hurt so far. It could have waited."

"Maybe, but then again maybe someone would have been," Harry pointed out.

"Perhaps I should have let Tonks do the talking."

"She did her fair share. It went well."

"Sorry about that, anyway," Remus said. "It's just all that noise...threw me."

"How's your head now?"

"It hurts less. So the meeting went all right, with you leading it?"

"Sure," Harry said. "I mean, it's not like I did all the talking."

"I appreciate it."

"Harry? Is Remus still up there?"

Harry twisted around to look down the stairs. Tonks stood halfway up, with Sirius just behind her.

"I'm here, Tonks," Remus said. He stood, only a little unsteadily, and crossed to the doorway, leaning around to look down at her. Harry braced him before he could stumble.

"Take him home," Harry said, as Tonks hurried up the stairs. She grinned at Harry and slung her shoulder easily under Remus' arm.

"Come on, invalid," she said, tossing floo powder into the fireplace. In a moment they were gone, and Harry looked down the stairs at Sirius.

"It's clearing out a bit -- people going on their way," he said. "Ron and Hermione want to say goodbye and talk about the weekend."

Harry followed him down into the thinning crowd; the Weasley twins, Ron and Hermione, and Augustus Pye were the only ones left.

"Fred and George taking you back with them?" Harry asked. "Where's Kingsley gone?"

"He went on ahead. I'm going back to my flat for a few more things, then I'll floo straight to his. Don't worry, the twins are coming along," Augustus said, even as Harry opened his mouth.

"Harry, can we have a word?" Ron asked. Harry let himself be led away from the Healer, who turned to Sirius and asked him a question that Harry didn't hear.

"What's up?" Harry inquired. Ron grinned at him.

"You weren't so bad tonight, were you?" he said.

"Don't listen to him, Harry, you were great," Hermione added. "Dumbledore would've been really proud of you."

"Thanks," Harry said, sheepishly.

"We just wanted you to know that there's a lot of interest in the Order at Hogwarts," Ron continued. "There's loads of Gryffindors who want to join up. We've decided to open up Dumbledore's Army again, in the spring, as a sort of...I dunno, student division. If you're all right with that, of course," he added hastily.

"Sure, yeah, I guess," Harry replied. "With you two leading?"

"Well...Hermione leading," Ron said. Hermione looked pleased. "Being Head Girl and all."

"It just makes it easier to get around the curfews and that kind of thing," she said. "I started a list, if you want to see...all Gryffindors, so far, except for a few Ravenclaw friends of Ginny's."

Harry accepted the list, scanning it.

"And there's..." Hermione glanced at Ron. "Well, there's one or two Slytherins -- "

"No," Harry said.

"It's not anyone in our year, it's just the ones in the year below."

"No Slytherins."

"Come on, Harry," Ron said. "I'm the first to say you can't trust a Slytherin -- "

"Good," Harry retorted.

" -- but they do seem like they're in earnest and they're good at Defence."

"They would be, wouldn't they?" Harry said.

"You can't go round excluding people because of their House, Harry, that's just as bad as what they do. What if we got Remus to vouch for them?" Hermione asked. "He teaches them, he knows them really well. Besides, the old rule still stands, no-one in the Order until they turn seventeen. They'd have another whole year in Dumbledore's Army before they'd even have a chance to join. It's not like we go back to the school and blab all the Order secrets anywhere."

Harry looked from Hermione's keen, pink-cheeked face to Ron's solemn freckled one.

"If Remus is willing to vouch for them and they're willing to sign a charmed promise not to reveal anything they learn at DA meetings, you can let them in," he said finally. "But you'd better tell them that if I find out one of them is a traitor, they'll all be out. So they can bloody well keep an eye on each other."

Neither of the others looked happy about it, but Ron shrugged and Hermione shook her head resignedly. They followed Augustus Pye into the kitchen cookfire, shouting "Hogwarts School!" as they went. Sirius leaned back against one of the kitchen walls and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Thank Merlin they're all gone," he said. "Why are the good guys always the really noisy ones?"

Harry laughed. "Noisy and messy," he agreed, shoving a few bottles of butterbeer into a barrel that served as a trash bin. "What did Pye want with you?"

"Nothing much," Sirius replied. Harry turned and leaned closer to him, bracing one hand on the wall next to Sirius' shoulder. "Why?" Sirius asked, amused. "Jealous?"

"Not jealous, exactly," Harry said, angling his head so that their lips almost touched. "I'd say more...possessive."

Sirius smiled into the kiss, nuzzling Harry's cheek a little when it finally ended. "I don't mind being possessed," he said in a low voice. Harry felt one of Sirius' hands grasp his shirt and pull him closer, then slide around his hip to anchor their bodies firmly together.

"You want to go back to the cottage?" Harry asked against his mouth.

"In a bit," Sirius said, pressing his hips up against Harry's. "I like kissing you here."

"Yeah?" Harry tangled his fingers in Sirius' short black hair.

"Well, there's you," Sirius said, biting Harry's lower lip. "And also it's one in the eye for my family."

Harry laughed. "What, kissing a boy in the family kitchen?"

"This is life," Sirius said, breath warm on Harry's cheek. "The house is dead. They liked it that way. Dead house, dead family, already crumbling and in and passion is fire and light, like a slap in the face."

"Like Glastonbury in the dark," Harry answered, turning his head slightly to catch Sirius' mouth with his own again. Neither bothered to notice the spinning figures that were slowly coalescing in the flames of the kitchen fireplace until it was much too late.

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