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Where do we go from here?

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Remus limped as he walked down the hall and up the stairs of twelve Grimmauld Place. His leg had not yet healed from his last full moon two weeks ago and the injuries were making it difficult to run the errand the Sirius had asked of him.

The deep puncture wounds caused by an animal that Remus would never be able to name to anyone who was not close to him throbbed dully. For the first time in over fifteen years, Remus had broken his leg during the transformation back to human, which was not an entirely uncommon injury for lycanthropes to get, but Remus was lucky in that he had only experienced it once or twice before.

He didn't have the same potions that Madame Pomfrey used to give him to mend bones in the instances it had happened before. He’d had to make do with his strongest healing charm, which was still not enough. It had been a rough full moon, brought about by the emotions running high at having Sirius back in his life after so long. The fulls seemed to fluctuate between relatively normal and dreadful, depending on Remus' tension and emotions.

Sirius had escaped from Azkaban almost a year ago and he had regularly sent owls to Remus to inform him that Sirius and Buckbeak were safe, hiding out in the wild. Once Dumbledore had deemed it safe, now that the Ministry was no longer prioritizing Sirius' disappearance after so long without a lead, he had advised Sirius to lie low with Remus.

They had both been doing so for a few months now. Dumbledore seemed to understand that while Remus would help and take work wherever he could, leaving Sirius alone was not something that he would do, not after so long apart.

So Dumbledore sent a handful of coins in a leather purse per month, just enough to not be suspicious, alongside notes that reminded Remus not to hold a grudge against him for not campaigning for Sirius' release and his innocence, even though he had known the truth when Remus had doubted.

Even after a year of freedom for one of his dearest friends, Remus had not yet found it within himself to forgive Dumbledore. Sirius might be out of Azkaban, but he was not yet free. And Remus would never be at peace until Sirius was declared innocent by the Wizengamot; because Sirius would not be able to return to his life without that declaration, he would always have to watch his back and keep his head downcast.

Remus knew that, at heart, Sirius was made for a city, not the countryside. He would become frustrated with it before long, and Remus didn't know how long they had until Sirius would snap.

Sirius had asked him to go to Grimmauld Place in his stead to retrieve some old belongings. He was convinced that being left for twenty years would not have had too much of an impact. Remus had held his tongue, knowing that the man in front of him was not the same one that would think of a quick retort that would make them both smile, he was not the same man that could handle the unnecessary argument right now.

This man was someone else, a shadow of the man he had once been. Echoes of his old self showed themselves now and then, and then disappeared as though they'd been stolen by some force that neither of them could see nor prevent.

When he pushed the door open, Remus could smell the dampness of Sirius' room, along with the staleness that came with the building being abandoned for so long with all the windows and doors closed.

It had been a long time since anyone had occupied this house and Remus took a moment to think of how it had been in all its glory. He took a moment to sit on Sirius' old bed, remembering the only time he had ever been here.

Sirius had asked for help in getting some of his stuff out of the house before leaving for good, but his parents had returned prematurely and they had all been forced to Apparate, leaving Sirius' belongings behind. Present day Sirius was convinced his clothes would still fit, that they would still be in good enough condition to wear until he could get more appropriate ones for his age and size.

Remus opened the wardrobe door to find the same bag that they had once used to pack Sirius' stuff that day and proceeded to pick out some of the least foul-smelling and tattered pieces of clothing he could find. He smiled as he remembered the way Sirius would strut about in his Muggle jeans, his act of rebellion against a family that hated anything to do with the Muggle world.

But before he knew it, his hands were shaking and his vision was cloudy as he sobbed, sinking to his knees and like he had done many times before, mourned the people they had once been, mourned the lives and love they had lost.

How had he ever thought that Sirius would sell out James and Lily, or hurt Peter without a good reason, or leave Remus behind without saying goodbye? Sirius had loved them all equally, in their ways, and he had never let anything come between the individual bond he’d had with all of them. Remus had never stopped grieving for the friends he had lost that night, and now that he had Sirius back, he had no idea how to start rebuilding things, now that so much had happened between them.

After a few minutes, Remus took some shuddering breaths, wiped his eyes, frustrated with himself, and stood, finishing up packing a bag for Sirius and hurrying out of the house, Apparating back to his current home.

Remus’ bungalow was nothing impressive, it was one of the best places he could find for the limited savings he had that also wouldn’t violate health and safety laws. He closed the door lightly and softly called out Sirius’ name. Remus had learned over the last few weeks that Sirius had been living at Remus’ that Sirius often got quite startled by sudden noises. They sent him to darker places that were difficult to pull him out of.

The bungalow in rural Wales was not far from where Remus had grown up and was secluded enough to give Remus to the ability to transform safely in his basement without any neighbours close enough to hear him.

Sirius appeared in the doorway to the kitchen and Remus smiled at him, walking over and handing him the bag. Sirius took it and stared at it for a few seconds.

“Is everything okay?” Remus asked. Sirius waited a few seconds before responding.

“I’m just … trying to separate what’s a real memory and what’s a dream,” Sirius responded.

“Well, maybe I can help clear it up. What do you think you’re remembering?”

“We used this bag once before. When I was trying to leave my parent’s house. You, Pete, and James-” Sirius’ voice cracked on James’ name, but before Remus could say anything, he continued. “The three of you came round and tried to help me pack. They came back early. They knew we were there and we had to Apparate, but we forgot to take the bag with us. We took a trip to Muggle London not long after I'd set up at James' so I could replace my clothes. I always wondered what my parents had done to these.”

He looked up at Remus for confirmation, and Remus smiled and nodded.

“Yes, that’s real. Your memory is getting clearer, Sirius.” Sirius’ mouth turned up at the corners at that, and he stepped closer to put a hand on Remus’ cheek. Remus tried to keep his features calm and neutral.

Sirius had been lacking in physical affection over the last few months, a stark contrast to his younger self, who could normally always be found touching one of the other Marauders in some way. This was new. It showed that maybe Sirius was getting better, maybe being here with Remus was doing good.

“You’ve been crying, Rem,” he observed softly. Rem. Sirius hadn’t called him that since before Azkaban. Remus’ eyes filled with tears again and he blinked hastily to be rid of them.

“I’m fine, I promise.” Remus lied. Sirius had retained his ability to see right through Remus and any lies he told, and Remus continued, trying to convince his old friend. “I’ve just missed you, is all. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say I had a friend, and now I have you back, but I know things are different, we aren’t the same men we were twelve years ago and sometimes it's just overwhelming.” He explained.

Sirius brought his hand away. Already Remus missed it. 

“I know I’m different, I know we can’t turn back the clock. I would if I could. I would’ve run away with you, taken Harry with us instead of giving him to Hagrid and going after Pete. I would’ve done a million things differently if it meant that James and Lily were still alive now, so Harry would’ve grown up knowing he was loved and safe. But you and I always find a way back to each other. That counts for something, doesn’t it?” Sirius asked. Remus smiled at him and nodded.

"We will find a way again, Padfoot. I swear it." Remus said. Sirius smiled properly then. A more Sirius-like smile, with dimples and a hint of his affection for Remus, a glimmer of life in those grey eyes. Sirius hesitated before raising himself on his toes to wrap his arms around Remus's neck and Remus gently held him back, careful not to hug too tight.

Sirius seemed to have developed severe claustrophobia and often spent hours outside to prevent the panic from overwhelming him. He had snapped at Remus a few times in the last few weeks, due to his panic and the over-stimulation that came with being so out of touch with being outside of a cell.

"Have you spoken to Harry recently?" Remus asked. He could feel Sirius shake his head. "Do you think we should send Claudia with a letter? Let him know you're okay? I don't think he knows you're living with me, does he?" Sirius returned to his normal height as he left Remus' embrace.

"Will you send a letter, too? You're better at wording things than me, I don't want him to worry. He has enough on his plate with this ruddy Tournament."

"Of course." Remus went into the kitchen, grabbed some parchment from a drawer, two quills, a bottle of ink and he and Sirius settled themselves at the dining room table and began to write.

Harry,

Dumbledore has told us the news of the Tournament, and that you have been entered. I highly doubt you would've deliberately found a way to enter yourself into something so dangerous, as I know you wouldn't have been able to hide it from Ron and Hermione, and they would have certainly talked you out of it.

However, if you did somehow find a way to do it, I would not at all be disappointed. If I'm completely honest, it would make me laugh, as it would remind me of how your father would've tried to achieve the same, had he been given the same opportunities at your age. And Sirius would have most certainly been at his side.

I'm glad Ron and Hermione have more sway in your decisions that I was not able to have when it came to your father and Sirius. Unfortunately, I was too impartial towards them to ever be a good Prefect and scold them properly. I'm sure appointing me as a Prefect was Minerva's biggest regret when she realised it just gave us more avenues to cause trouble.

Sirius is now living with me in Wales and we're safe. He's doing okay and doesn't want you to worry. In all honesty, he's getting better ... remembering more, differentiating between fact, dreams and nightmares.

He misses you more than anything and wishes he could see you, wishes you could spend the holidays together. He's at his most calm and most grounded when remembering you as a baby or thinking about the day where you two can spend more time together.

Please don't be afraid to send a letter, either by my owl, Claudia or by Hedwig, if you're concerned about anything, Harry. Both of us are concerned about this Tournament and who, if it wasn't you, put your name in the Goblet of Fire. We'd be more than happy to lend our collective knowledge and aid if you need anything at all,

Remus Lupin

Remus went to the back garden and called for Claudia from her favourite perch in the oak tree about 10ft from the back door. She swooped down from the tree and landed on Remus' arm.

He carried her inside and gently stroked her feathers as he set her down on the table. Once Sirius was finished writing his letter, they rolled their parchment up, tied them both to Claudia's legs, and sent her on her way. With any luck, they'd have a response from Harry within a few days.

~

Harry was sat at breakfast, half-heartedly eating some bacon and eggs, when the owl swooped down and landed on the table in front of him. He didn't recognize the owl, but he recognized the handwriting on both the rolls of parchment attached to it.

"Who're they from? I haven't seen that owl before." Ron asked through a mouthful of food. How he could eat so much, Harry didn't know, but it was impressive.

"One of them's from my godfather, the other is from Lupin," Harry responded, looking at both letters. He hadn't heard from Sirius in months and had assumed it had been because he hadn't had access to an owl, and though Harry was sure Hedwig would manage to find him, he didn't feel right about blindly sending her out on a wild goose hunt.

He'd waited for Sirius' letter from an owl that he borrowed briefly from friendly locals he encountered in rural villages, full of people who didn't recognize him. He read through Lupin's note first, smiling at the knowledge that Sirius was seemingly getting better, that he was safe. As long as he was with Lupin, Sirius would be safe. He knew how much they cared for one another.

The synchronization that they seemed to effortlessly achieved spoke volumes about how close they were. It had only taken one look in the Shrieking Shack for Lupin to know that Sirius was innocent, that he hadn't sold out Harry's parents, that trying to kill Peter was out of revenge, not him trying to kill off the Marauders one by one. They had easily been in each other's company, despite the years that had separated them.

That night in the Shack, Harry had heard more about his parents, things that he'd been craving for his whole life. And from people who had known them, people who had been close to them, rather than just the things that he had inherited from them. Harry was desperate to know more, to learn more about them.

He hoped to spend more time during holidays with Sirius and Lupin, knowing that his parents entrusted them both, even from the grave, and knowing that both Lupin and Sirius wanted nothing but the best for him because of the love that they'd had, and still had, for his parents.

Harry unrolled the parchment from Sirius and couldn't help but grin.

"What are you smiling at? Is your godfather okay?" Hermione asked. The three of them were careful to not mention Sirius' name anywhere public. The events of the last year still had people on edge. Harry proceeded to read out Lupin's letter, substituting Sirius' name for 'your godfather', before reading out Sirius' letter as well.

Harry,

I hope you're keeping well during your ever so exciting lessons, and thinking of plenty of fun ways to avoid the boring ones. It's up to you to carry on your dear godfather, uncle Moony and father's legacy as a troublemaker - believe it or not, Remus was quite the prankster back in the day, though he wouldn't ever admit it aloud.

We wouldn't have managed to create the Marauders Map without him and his incessant love for reading. Without him, we would never have thought to check the Restricted Section. He's the biggest enabler on earth, frequently covering for us to teachers since they believed him more than us.

Please feel free to taunt him about it the next time you see him, I do the same, he never fails to go the brightest and most brilliant shade of red due to embarrassment. And we leave that legacy to you.

I heard about the Tournament. I would be lying if I said Remus and I weren't worried. We're both concerned for you, and you know that you can send a letter to us anytime if you need it, if you're worried, if you need advice.

Although we never had to worry about the Tournament when we were at Hogwarts, it had long since been discontinued, I can assure you that we will have some story or other with a lesson that will apply to this mess. We want nothing more than for you to be safe.

Hopefully, by the time the summer holidays roll around, Remus and I will be able to return to London. Right now, we're living not far from where Remus grew up in Wales. He's got an accent, Harry! A very slight Welsh one that comes out when he's been talking to locals, one that I tease him for.

These are the times where I sometimes feel most like myself, as I would always make fun of him, all in jest, for his accent at the beginning of each school year when we returned to Platform 9 and 3/4. It's isolated and lonely around here when he's on errands, but for now, it'll do until I can return to London.

I also feel most like myself when I think of you. My promise to your father to take care of you for him and Lily was one of the few things that got me through, kept me going. It was something that couldn’t be stolen from me. I fully intend to make up for the lost time.

Maybe when I return to London, if you didn't want to go back to your aunt and uncle, you could come to me. I promised James and Lily, as did Remus and Peter, though I can no longer speak for old Wormtail, given the circumstances, that, I may have been the only one named as your godfather, but you would always be all of ours, you would always be welcome to come to any of us should anything happen to James and Lily.

To us - Remus and I - to your parents, you're every Marauder's son. I want you to know that you have a home with us, should you want it.

I'll hopefully see you in summer, with any luck,

Sirius

Harry smiled through the happy tears threatening to spill and gave Claudia a quick pet and a thank you before she took off towards the Owlery. He tucked the letters into his robe pockets and carried them with him all day.

He couldn't wait to see Sirius again.

~

Sirius cursed his mother, his father, all his ancestors, and Dumbledore under his breath.

His reward for giving Grimmauld Place to the Order had also been his downfall, and Dumbledore had not only asked him to renovate and clear fifteen years' worth of rot and damage from the house, ready for when the Weasleys moved in at the end of summer; but had also condemned him to it.

He was still too recognizable, it was still too risky for him to be wandering the streets of London in search of a new place to live when Grimmauld Place was right here.


Remus' leg had been made worse by the last three full moons, and Sirius knew that Remus was struggling more than he let on. He would stop and lean against walls and handrails for support regularly, always when he thought Sirius couldn't see.

In all the years that the two had known one another, he had never known the full moons to have caused so much damage to his legs. They had been too important, it seemed, so most of the damage on Remus' body was to his torso, where the wolf clawed and ripped at himself in frustration at being caged.

And, of course, the thickest of scars was the knot of tissue on Remus' right shoulder, the one given to him, not by his wolf counterpart, but another wolf who sought revenge, who thought it was right to attack a five-year-old for no other reason than the sins of Remus’ father.

Remus had thrashed and fought so much that night that it had dislodged Fenrir Greyback's teeth multiple times and caused the mess that it was now. He had always tried to see it as a badge of honour, proof that a five-year-old had enough fight in him to dislodge a fully grown werewolf, but Sirius knew that it was a source of self-consciousness for Remus.

Sirius knew that Remus would shrug off anyone who put their hand on that shoulder, that he did his best to cover it under as much clothing as possible so that, if he couldn’t pull away, the scar could not be felt.

It had been the reason for many breakdowns and panic attacks in Sirius’ arms where Remus a=had sobbed and wept his heart out, not nearly as strong for as long as he liked everyone to think he was. It was just another secret that Sirius would always keep close to his heart.

Sirius had spent most of his time over the last three weeks that he and Remus had been clearing out the house thinking about the old days, thinking about James, and then trying not to think about James. Thinking of Peter, then getting angry about thinking of the two-faced little toad. He couldn’t help but wonder if there was anything he’d missed. He’d believed Remus, who couldn't lie to the Marauders for all the money in the world, had been the snitch.

And it had been Pete.

Unassuming Peter, who had betrayed them all. Had told them that he loved them, had said that they were his best friends, had been so loyal to them for so long, and he still managed to get so tangled up in serving and saving himself before the people he had called his brothers that he was now fighting against those same brothers.

It made Sirius angry.

And upset.

And too many other emotions.

But when he thought about Lily, her freckles and her smile, her laugh and her teasing grin, he was calm. After she and James had started dating, it had become clear that she and Sirius had a lot more in common than they’d initially thought, and they had silently laid their war against each other to rest.

Lily had been the one to help Sirius realize his relationship was Remus was different from the one he had with James and Peter. Those damn taunts about his and Remus’ flirting had always gotten to him more than anything else.

He had never thought to watch how Remus reacted. The inevitable shift of his newspaper to hide his face, shaking it out to hide the tremble in his hands, his sudden restlessness, the way he would leave a bit more space between himself and Sirius when walking to classes and Lily was with them; like he was scared of someone noticing something.

Sirius had always missed the warmth, had always noticed the distance. Then he started recognizing the tremble whenever he brushed against Remus during meals or while studying. The way Remus couldn’t meet Sirius’ eyes when their hands touched. And then knew that the reason Lily’s taunts always got to him was that deep down, it was true, Sirius did want Remus in a way he didn’t feel for James or Peter.

And Remus felt the same, but either couldn’t or wouldn’t admit it.

They'd gotten into an argument one day, stormed up to the dormitory to sort it out, and they had both ended up confessing, managing to share more than a few sweet kisses by the time they returned to the Transfiguration study session in the library that they were supposed to have been attending.

The rest had been history. They had remained stuck together in a new way for the remainder of the sixth and seventh year and onwards into adulthood.

Lately, most of Sirius’ thoughts had been on the tug. The pull that he felt towards Remus. He hadn’t thought that it would remain after so long apart. Their souls were intertwined now, had been for more than fifteen years. Sirius would argue that his soul had been twined with Remus’ since the moment they met.

He’d accidentally stumbled upon a phenomenon among werewolves during the sixth year, not long after he and Remus had started dating. A closely protected secret that lycanthropes tended to keep to themselves, something sacred that not many would admit to in front of ordinary wizards, for the fear that they would be branded as even more animalistic.

The wolf counterpart’s needs became conflicted with the human form’s as they both reached adulthood, increasing a werewolf’s need to find its other half, its partner, its mate for life.

Even if the wolf’s mate happened to be human, the pull towards each other could be felt by both. Sirius had broached the subject to Remus cautiously, afraid that Remus would not feel it.

But Remus he had stared at Sirius and burst into tears, had held him close and told him that he had felt the tug towards Sirius for as long as he could remember.

Sirius had done his reading on it, knew that it included a bite to trigger the bond between them. Remus had been hesitant, convinced that they could continue on the way they were without it, that they knew they were mated, why complicate it with a scar?

Remus had been convinced Sirius would hate it, but on the last day of the sixth year, when he had asked Remus again for the first time in months, Remus had indulged wholeheartedly, and suddenly it was as if every moment leading up to their meeting had meant to happen.

“What are you thinking about? You’ve got that far away look in your eye again.” Remus asked.

They were in the attic, clearing the space for Remus to potentially use during the full moon, but only when there weren’t so many people living here, when the kids were at school, maybe. They had organized the cleaning responsibilities by doing half of the room each, rummaging through boxes and deciding on what to keep and what to throw away.

“Just … things.” Sirius replied nonchalantly.

“Things? What kind of things? It’s not like you to be vague.” Remus teased gently.

He had been careful these last few months, clearly not wanted to overstep a boundary, but with every day, he was bolder in his teasing. They were nowhere near where they used to be, but it was a start. Sirius had missed it.

“The old days. Our Hogwarts days.” Sirius said. Remus smiled.

“Any memory in particular? It isn’t that time I threw up on poor Rosmerta’s mother in The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade was it?” Remus cringed at the memory. Sirius laughed.

“I’d forgotten about that.” He said, putting another empty box in the corner of the attic, ready to be sent downstairs and burnt in the garden. “No, I wasn’t thinking about that. Or the time Pete ate so much from Honeydukes on our first visit to Hogsmeade in the third year that he threw up on Rosmerta’s mother. Or when James got hexed so hard by Lily after pissing her off that he threw up on Rosmerta’s sister. Now that I think about it, I think threw up on both of them on separate occasions after too much to drink.”

“They weren’t separate occasions; it was the weekend after your seventeenth birthday. Rosmerta had come over to flirt and wish you a happy birthday, but was interrupted by you hurling on her shirt. So her sister rushed over, and you threw up on her shoes. And then their mother came out from behind the bar and started ushering us out. You turned to apologize, but you only got halfway through the word ‘sorry’ before you threw up all over her skirt and shoes.” Remus said with a grin.

Sirius laughed heartily as the memory flashed behind his eyes. Yes, he could remember the looks on all three of the women’s faces now.

“Bloody hell … Rosmerta. I remember going to school with her. Wonder what she’s doing now.” Sirius said.

“Well, she’s the elder sister, isn’t she? She took over from her mother at the Broomsticks. She’s the landlady there, has been for about five or six years now.” Remus informed him, returning to sorting through boxes on his side of the room.

“She was in the year below us, wasn’t she?” Remus pondered it before nodding. “I remember her trying to flirt with me in the corridors between classes for about eighteen months before she realized she wasn’t getting anywhere.” Sirius saw Remus stiffen slightly.

“What else have you started remembering?” He asked, trying to remain calm.

“Making the Map … the trips to the Restricted Section … studying for exams … people we met and were friends with… the jokes we used to make. I remember the way Lily used to tease you and me, saying we were like an old married couple.” Sirius said. Remus looked up and smiled.

“It’s good that your memory is getting so clear. I’m happy for you, Sirius.” Remus flicked his wand at the now empty box at his feet and it slid across the room to join Sirius’ pile of empty boxes.

“Rem …” Sirius’ voice trembled as he said Remus’ nickname.

He’d been the only one to shorten Remus’ name. He didn’t know why he’d felt the need to, but it had just seemed right, seemed to flow easily off his tongue.

Sirius could feel his heart hammering. If Remus could not still feel that pull to one another, Sirius didn’t know how he would cope. The idea of Remus waiting for him when he got out of Azkaban was one of the only things that had kept him hanging on to the last threads of his sanity.

Sirius had pictured Remus waiting with open arms and that smile that he reserved for the Marauders, that seemed to say ‘I love you, you’re an idiot, you’re my favourite idiots’.

The way his hair fell in front of his eyes, the scars on his face that were long since faded. Scars from the time the wolf scratched at his face the night of the only prank Sirius would never admit to with pride, the one that had caused Sirius to almost lose Remus completely.

He knew those parts of Remus so intimately; they were the things that made Sirius love him so much. They made him unique and beautiful … made him Remus.

“Everything okay?” Remus asked with concern, moving closer. Remus had never been afraid of Sirius’ quickly changing moods in the months that they had been reunited. He'd always trusted that Sirius wouldn’t hurt him, no matter how angry and lonely Sirius felt.

“I … do – do you still … oh, I don’t know how to go about asking.” Sirius cursed himself. He never used to have this fear, never used to be so unsure of the love Remus felt for him.

“Do you remember the last day of the sixth year?” he asked finally.

Remus didn’t ponder, not like he had when he had been remembering the different events in which all four Marauders had thrown up on Rosmerta and her family.

“Yes. Of course, I do.” Remus responded quietly.

“I … I still feel it. Even in Azkaban, I felt it. It always became a painful knot in my chest during the full moon. It’s how I kept track of the cycle while in my cell. It kept me going, knowing that you were alive. Even if the Dementors ripped everything else from me, I always had it. It reminded me that you were real, that I was yours and you were mine. It’s been stronger for the last few months. I’d forgotten the feeling of it reacting to you in the flesh. Do … do you still feel it too?”

Sirius was trembling violently, terrified of what was to come.Remus came even closer and pulled Sirius close. Sirius was immediately put at ease, the trembling still overtaking his body, but the anxiety in his chest lessening.

“You and I are bonded for life. In werewolf circles, mates are believed to be sacred, made for each other. Supposedly, everything leads up to a wolf meeting their mates, having someone to help them through the lunar cycle, and love them no matter what. I didn’t broach it before because I wanted you to adjust to life away from that place. Our souls are linked and no matter how far apart we are, no matter what happens, it will always be there. You’re my home, Sirius, the final piece of the puzzle that makes me me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Sirius clutched Remus tightly and felt the words sink in deeply. Everything Remus had said had accurately described the way Sirius felt. In this world, as long as he held Remus, had this man beside him, loving him, he would be home.

Chapter Text

After the day in the attic, not much had changed between Sirius and Remus. Their admittance to the bond that still connected them being as strong as it was as teenagers meant that the familiarity between them became stronger, was almost reminiscent of how they had been at Hogwarts. They hadn't taken the step of being a 'couple', not in a stereotypical way. 


Remus had remained in Sirius' bed until he fell asleep but always returned to his own bed by the time morning came. But it had only been three weeks. Sirius wasn't sure that they were at the point just yet where they could spend the whole night together, or be the same kind of couple as Molly and Arthur.

 
Hermione and the Weasleys, as well as a few others, had arrived at Grimmauld Place a week and a half previously. One of the arrivals that had surprised Remus had been the appearance of Snape. As soon as Sirius had seen their old school rival, he’d gone silent in the middle of speaking, and then had vaulted over the table and leapt at Snape to have a full out bare-knuckle brawl in the hallway, of which Snape had risen to the bait. 


Moody, Arthur, and Kingsley had managed to separate them, but it wasn’t until Remus had raced down the stairs after hearing the commotion and thrown himself between them that either man had calmed down. Sirius had been in a bad mood for the rest of the day, and Remus had done his best to keep them as far apart from each other as possible.


If Remus was completely honest, he was appreciative of the extra wands. He and Sirius had made as good of an attempt as they were able in cleaning up the house, but there was only so much two men could do in five weeks with Sirius being so unpracticed in spellcasting and charms never being Remus' strength. It had taken years of hard work and extra practice during school to get to the point he was at now. He was much more comfortable with hexes, jinks, and potions. 

Remus hurried down the stairs and into the kitchen; where Molly was making dinner. He wandered over to the sink, pushed the sleeves of his cardigan up his arms, and washed his hands, then drying him on his trousers. 

"Would you like any help, Molly?" he asked. 

"I wouldn't take him up on that, Mol. Moony is a terrible cook." Remus turned to feign hurt at Sirius. 

"Hey! My cooking kept us both alive in Wales!" Remus pointed out. Sirius pulled a face. 

"Barely! I appreciate the effort, but you burn water." Remus rolled his eyes and shook his head. Molly had a small smile on her face as she enchanted a wooden spoon to carry on mixing the soup she was making. 

"Thank you for the offer, Remus, but the wonders of magic mean that my work is now done. It should be ready by the time the others are back and the meeting is over." Molly said, moving towards one of the cupboards to hang her apron up.

Tonks, Kingsley, Moody, and a few other Order members had gone out for a mission, something that apparently shouldn't take too long, but had involved their broomsticks. Remus had been curious, had asked what they were going to do, but Moody had been sharp in his response. 

"It's not your business, Lupin," he'd said. The reaction had confused Remus. Moody had never snapped like that at him. Remus was one of the few people that Moody didn’t snap at.

The crazy-eyed wizard had taken a liking to Remus, had respected his ability to mediate the room throughout various Order meetings. 

At that moment, others began trickling into the kitchen, which had turned into the heart of the Order HQ. There were some faces that he didn’t know all that well, names that he couldn’t remember, people that were younger than him and were not permanent members of the Order, but worked alongside them as informants and spies inside the Ministry and out in the world. 

People took whatever seats they could find, summoning ones from other rooms and chatting amongst themselves. Sirius and Remus took seats beside each other opposite the door to the hallway.

Sirius’ arm casually came around the back of Remus’ chair, brushing Remus’ back as he did so. Remus could feel his face heat up. After all these years, the slightest traces of affection from Sirius sent him back to being a blushing teenager. 

“Did you hear about Harry?” Arthur asked the group from beside Molly. Sirius and Remus’ heads snapped up. 

“Harry? What’s happened to Harry?” Sirius asked. 

“He got sent a letter by the Ministry about an hour and a half ago. He violated the Statute of Secrecy. Performed magic outside Hogwarts while underage in front of his Muggle cousin. He cast a Patronus Charm. The Ministry has expelled him from Hogwarts.” Arthur explained.

“I wonder where he learned how to perform a Patronus.” A drawling voice said. Sirius stiffened and Remus’ hand instinctively put a hand on Sirius’ thigh, an old habit that Remus hadn’t indulged since before Azkaban. 

“It saved his life, Severus-” Remus started.

“Snivellus,” Sirius interrupted under his breath. Remus sent him a sharp look and Sirius clenched his jaw.

“He wouldn’t have cast it for no reason, Severus. Besides, he saved an innocent from the Dementor's Kiss with the charm, as well as his own." Remus continued, gently squeezing Sirius' thigh.

"He hasn't been proven innocent yet. You'd do well to remember that, Lupin, lest you get your heart broken again. What a shame it would be if you lost your dear friend once again," Snape retorted, sinking into a seat.

Remus' face heated and he removed his hand from Sirius' thigh to fiddle with his cardigan sleeves, absentmindedly picking a hole in the thread. Sirius gently tapped his hands to get him to stop and Remus put his hands on the table in front of him instead.

Before he could respond, the front door opened and familiar faces swarmed in. At the very back, trailing behind Tonks, who tripped over the umbrella stand in the hallway, was Harry, who moved closer to the kitchen and broke out in a smile when he saw Sirius and Remus, who still hadn't gotten over their shock. 

Why is he here? Whose idea was it to bring him here a week and a half before school starts?

Remus' mind was racing. Something had happened, something that had made it dangerous for him to be with his aunt and uncle.

Molly was then blocking the door before either of them could move, ushering Harry upstairs and closing the door. 

Sirius was, for once, quiet throughout the meeting, except for a few snide comments in Snape's direction.

The meeting lasted almost an hour before they reluctantly all agreed that food was needed, that it was too late to be arguing and the children would likely be getting restless now, wanting to get involved. 

"And if the stories of what James was like are true, and if Fred and George are anything like my Gideon and Fabian were, then Harry and the twins will likely be inventing ideas on how to listen in on the meeting," Molly said with a smile.

Remus' heart ached for her. He’d gotten along well with all three Prewetts and thought of the twins with fondness. It must be hard for Molly to see so much of her brothers in her sons, to have them be a reminder of what she’d lost. 

Molly called for the children and Fred and George instantly Apparated downstairs, directly behind their mother. She yelped and shoved them into the kitchen. "Just because you can do magic outside of school now, doesn't mean you have to whip your wands out for everything!" She scolded. 

Sirius rose and Remus followed, going round the table and waiting for Molly and Arthur to greet Harry.

They moved once they were done and Harry breathed out Sirius' name in relief before throwing himself at his godfather while Remus casually put an arm against the doorframe and leaned against it.

His leg was throbbing with pain, no matter what salves he had placed on it a few hours before. It was better, much more so than it had been a few months ago.

But wolf scars never completely healed, which was why there were so many crisscrossing across various parts of his body. Once Harry and Sirius had pulled apart, Harry grinned at Remus and the two hugged briefly. 

"It's good to have you here, Harry. Sirius has been going stir crazy without anyone he likes well enough to balance out Severus' presence." Remus said with a smile. Sirius rolled his eyes and beckoned Harry into the kitchen. 

"That's slander you know, Remus. You shouldn't do that in front of Harry, he's impressionable." Sirius mock scolded, managing to find three spaces next to each other at the table now that the Order had shifted around and the temporary members were starting to leave. 

Sirius sat at the end of the table, leaving Remus and Harry to decide which side of him they wished to sit on. "Besides! I like you enough to balance out at least ten Snapes." Remus chuckled, taking a seat to one side of Sirius, as Harry sat in the seat closest to the door. Cutlery began to float towards every seat as Molly started dishing up food.


"The highest of compliments for your best friend of twenty-five years. Thank you, Sirius."


"You're welcome, my dear friend. Should you crave anymore, please feel free to ask. I'm always stuck here, so you always know where I am." Sirius said, patting Remus’ hand fondly. Remus sighed at the complaint. 

"What do you mean, you're stuck here? Aren't you going out to do ... whatever it is you guys do here?" Harry asked. 

"Don't mind him, Harry, he's being dramatic," Remus said, fiddling with the sleeves of his cardigan. “What Sirius means is that Dumbledore has grounded him for his safety and he’s in a mood about it.”

Sirius scowled at the teasing comment as Molly sent soup down the table via magic, warning people to be careful of the scolding hot bowls hovering above their heads. 

Harry grinned at Sirius’ obvious dislike for the comment. The smile faded slowly and he seemed to be working himself up to ask something. 

“My parents … you two were the closest to them, weren’t you? You two and Peter.” Harry asked slowly.

Hermione and Ron had come into the kitchen at that point, saw the empty seats beside Harry, and slid into them. Remus could see Sirius clench his cutlery tightly at the mention of Peter.

“Yes, we were. From the minute we were all Sorted, we were inseparable.” Remus said. “We’d all happened to sit near each other at the Gryffindor table, and I always thought that was the reason they’d chosen me, that I’d been lucky enough to sit close by.”


“Don’t be ridiculous, Remus! You caught our attention, you seemed like you needed friends, so we stepped up.” Sirius said, buttering some bread that had been passed down the table. “We shared a dorm room, you know, Harry. We had a pretty good system going, we were very organized, in our own disorganized way.”

“What were they like? Mum and Dad, I mean?” Harry asked quietly. Remus’ hands trembled slightly. 

“They were the best people I ever knew,” Remus said. “James … he had his insufferable moments. His need to taunt Severus always felt wrong to me, but I could never stop him. The strange mood that came over him whenever he and Severus were in the same place, it wasn’t the James I knew. James was kind, funny, smart, protective … at least, he was to us. Not standing up for Severus was probably the only regret I ever had.” Remus told him. 

“Your mother, on the other hand,” Remus continued. Harry seemed more relaxed now. Hermione and Ron were listening too, just as interested as Harry. “She was something else. Peter and I were friends with Lily before Sirius and James were. She was so gifted at magic. She was always amazed by the simple wonders of it all. You remind me of her, Miss Granger, and Mr Weasley reminds me of Sirius sometimes. It's silly, but I like to think that that’s why you’re such good friends, being so alike to Lily, James and Sirius. It puts my mind at ease, knowing that Harry has the kind of friendships that Sirius and I had.” Remus said.

“Not a day goes by where I don’t miss your dad, Harry. He was more of a brother to me than my own brother was. I’d do anything to turn back time and go back to that night so that I could save them both.” Sirius paused, feeling his heart ache at the thought of James.

“I was the one who got you out of the house. My gut was telling me that something was wrong. I’d been feeling tense and anxious for days, which was unusual considering the full moon wasn't for another two weeks. We all felt it, we all knew something was coming. Remus and I,"

Sirius looked at Remus briefly, frowning, as if trying to remember the details, trying to make sure he got things right. "We fought that night," Sirius said, and Remus could see the uncertainty in his eyes, so he nodded in encouragement.

It was real, the fight had happened, and Remus had felt sick with grief ever since, knowing that that was how he and Sirius had parted.

"I can’t even remember what it was about ... something stupid, I think. I threw a plate at Remus’ head at one point. He was shaken up, he'd hurt his ankle dodging it, and after I’d realized what I’d done, I panicked and went to Godric’s Hollow.” Sirius’ voice cracked slightly, fighting back the tears. 

Remus remembered the fight, couldn’t remember what it was about either, but Sirius had noticed the way he cried out and lost his balance as he ducked from the plate, landing straight on his arse.

His ankle was why he’d been unable to chase after Sirius, within half an hour it was swollen dramatically and he was in so much pain that he could barely think, let alone use magic. 

He’d known Sirius would go to James and Lily’s, had assumed he would return with his tail tucked between his legs the next morning as he crawled into bed, hugged Remus tight, and muttered apologies into Remus’ neck and all would be forgiven.

That was the way their arguments always worked. They were few and far between but were always explosive. James and Lily had set up the spare room specifically so they could cool off for the night if they’d fought.

But he hadn’t returned, and as Remus frantically contacted Order members, the only thing he ever got in response was to check the Prophet.

And once he had, Remus hadn’t left his house for two weeks, hadn’t answered any messages from Order members. He had barely gotten out of bed. 

“I saw James first. On the carpet in the hallway, just above the stairs. He didn’t have his wand with him. He’d gone at You-Know-Who with his bare hands. I think he’d been trying to give Lily time to protect you and he hadn’t realized that he didn’t have it until it was too late. I almost lost it then and there. When I managed to force myself towards your room, I found Lily. Her hand was still wrapped around one of the bars of your cot,” Harry was listening intently, Ron and Hermione looking horrified at the idea of seeing such a thing.

“And there you were. You'd been crying, looking at Lily, and not understanding why she wasn’t moving. But you smiled when you saw me. You recognised me. I took you to Hagrid, then went after Pete, and you know the rest. I later found out that they’d been dead for precisely forty-five minutes by the time I’d gotten there. It had taken me half an hour to get from mine and Remus’ apartment to Godric’s Hollow on the motorbike. That extra fifteen minutes was how long Remus and I had been arguing before I left. Fifteen minutes exactly. To the second. Everything went wrong at the same time.” Sirius was furiously wiping at the tears before they could appear. 

“Sirius, Remus … I’m – I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to-” Harry started.

“Don’t apologize, Harry. You’re their son, you are the only one the needs to know what happened, but you’re the only one who doesn’t.” Remus croaked. Sirius had never told him any of those details. Remus knew very little about what had happened, because, to him, it didn’t matter how they’d died.

They were dead, they weren’t coming back. At the time, he hadn’t thought Peter would come back either, and he hadn’t wanted Sirius to ever get out of Azkaban. 

Things were still loud around the table, thankfully, though there were some concerned looks from Molly about why Sirius was so upset.

The rest of dinner passed with lots of chatter, lots of laughing, catching Harry up on what had been happening over the summer. And then the topic of the meeting was brought up. 

"It doesn't matter, it's nothing you need to worry about," Arthur reassured the children. 

"Doesn't matter?! Is that really what you think, Arthur?" Moody asked. 

"Why do you think he's rising again?" Harry asked, out of the blue, clearly understanding that the meeting was, in some way, tied to Voldemort.  

"He wants something. Something he didn't have before." Sirius said solemnly.

"That, and Cornelius Fudge is still under the impression that this is all a plot by Dumbledore to usurp him from his position as Minister. Fudge thinks Dumbledore has grown tired of being a Headmaster, that he wants something with more sway, something with more power. With a Minister that refuses to act, You-Know-Who is using the opportunity that he has to wreak havoc on the wizarding world, regain followers, and succeed in taking over this time." Remus added. 

"Well ... then I want to fight! I want in. If he's rising, you need all the help you can get. I want to help." Harry said. There was a low chuckle from the older members of the Order. Sirius was grinning. 

"Attaboy, Harry! Good lad!" Sirius said, clapping Harry on the shoulder. 

"Sirius, do not encourage him! He's fifteen!" Molly exclaimed. 

"He's old enough to make his own decisions, Molly," Sirius said. 

"And how is he going to fight when he's going into his O.W.Ls? Just because you got through your exams on pure luck and Remus was smart enough to breeze through them without a care in the world, doesn't mean Harry should follow in your footsteps. He's just a boy!" Molly was tense with fury.

Those gathered around the table watched the argument eagerly as if watching a tennis match, heads whipping round to see how the other would respond. Remus was the only one not doing so, eyes glued to Sirius, his features unreadable.

"He's survived this long, he's capable of looking out for himself. Besides, I can take care of him. He can come home to me during the holidays instead of going back to 'Tunia, Vernon, and their boy." Sirius argued. 

"Personally," Remus started quietly, his eyes finally moving away from Sirius and to the people gathered. "I would have to agree with Sirius. Harry should not, under any circumstances, be on the front lines. But there are things he could do while at Hogwarts. Things that our informants are unable to look into without causing suspicion. You-Know-Who will have his spies as well, I'm sure he knows that we have hooks in the Ministry, just as he likely does. Harry could help if he chose to." 

"I can keep an eye on him. I'm his godfather, he's my responsibility." Sirius added, clearly feeling as if the argument had been won.

"Yes, well," Molly said, her lip curling, "the thing is, it's been rather difficult for you to look after him while you've been locked up in Azkaban, hasn't it, Sirius?" 

The tension in the room got almost too thick to bear as Sirius started to rise from his chair. Older members of the Order began to look to Remus anxiously, hoping that he would prevent an outburst before it began.

Once Sirius was emotionally charged, it took multiple people to calm him once again. He had been that way for as long as anyone could remember. But Remus' eyes were on Molly. 

"Molly, you're not the only person sat at this table who cares about Harry," he said sharply. This was unusual from Remus, who was usually so calm, the one who brought things back to a peaceful level. The tension in the room became even thicker and Remus was aware of Hermione frowning anxiously and Harry becoming tense, "Sirius, sit down." 

Molly's lower lip was trembling, clearly aware that she'd crossed a line. Sirius sank back into his chair, his face suddenly drained of colour. 

"Children, go back upstairs, there's still plenty of work to be done tomorrow, you all need rest," Molly said, the authority no longer in her voice. But the children did as she requested, knowing not to argue with Molly. 

The house continued to feel heavy with tension for the rest of the night.

~

Sirius was restless as he went to sleep. He had been restless since dinner and the argument with Molly. He had an immense sense of guilt for not being able to be there for Harry. If he’d heeded what Remus had been telling him for years, to take a moment to think rationally instead of on his emotions when he was angry or upset, then none of this would’ve happened.

If he’d been more careful, then he would not struggle to remember things, he would not spend time wracking his brain trying to figure out if his triggered memories were real or not. The Dementors had taken so much from him, had fed off his hope. He barely had anything left.


His room at Grimmauld Place was the same one that he had stayed in as a child. He hated it here. All of his demons seemed to manifest in this room, seemed to become more prevalent here.

But he wouldn’t let anyone else stay in this room. He was too scared that those demons would be let out, the years of thrown furniture and yelling and punishments Sirius had endured in these four walls would be released into the world. If Sirius stayed here, he could close the door and contain the things that still haunted him. 

There were some things that he had never told even Remus. Things about this house, the family that had once lived here and made this place alive. Sirius’ parents had died while he was in Azkaban, and he had no idea what had happened to Regulus. He may be dead; he may still be serving Voldemort.

Sirius was the only Black left. There were the older Black sisters, of course, Sirius’ cousins, but they were all married. Narcissa had married Lucius Malfoy and had a son in Harry’s year.

Bellatrix had gotten married to Rodolphus Lestrange, but she’d been arrested and sent to Azkaban, she had succumbed to the Black Madness long ago.

Andromeda had been the odd one out. The black sheep in a family full of Blacks. She had committed the ultimate betrayal, marrying a muggle and having a child with him, who now served in the Order, Nymphadora Tonks.

For weeks, Remus had stayed until Sirius had fallen asleep, every night since that day in the attic. But the restlessness and anxiety that Sirius had felt trying to fall asleep had followed him into unconsciousness this time. His guilt, his trauma, both from Azkaban and from childhood, they all reared their head tonight.

His nightmares had been getting better, becoming something that would jolt him awake instead of something that would make him thrash and panic in his sleep until he woke up tangled in his own sheets, or woke himself up by falling out of bed.

This nightmare … this one kept him asleep. This one crept upon him. He saw the night he’d found James and Lily, saw the look on Remus’ face as Sirius threw a plate at him, heard the china smash against the wall. He heard the cry of pain as Remus slipped and fell.

He saw James’ face, eyes blank, staring at the ceiling. James had never looked that blank before, had never looked so unlike himself. Sirius saw Lily’s hair fanned out across the floor and her hand, still wrapped around Harry’s cot as if she’d only just put him down when Voldemort had walked into Harry’s room.

He had seen the doubt in Remus’ face as Sirius was laid on the floor of the Shrieking Shack. The Shack … where they spent years doing whatever they could to support Remus through the full. He saw the night of the fifth-year prank, James has been so angry at him, had forced Sirius to miss that full, had refused to speak to him until Remus was safely back in the dorm.

Those scars on Remus’s face … they were there because of Sirius. Remus’ self-conscious attitude towards the thicker scars on his chest was down to Sirius’s stupidity, a constant reminder of his mistake. The same thoughts that Sirius experienced on his worst days began to whirl through his subconscious, that he was no good, he should have stayed in Azkaban, he wasn’t fit to look after Harry, he’d failed James, failed Lily, failed Remus.

He should’ve died instead of James and Lily; he didn’t deserve to live in a world where his godson had grown up without the love he deserved because Sirius had doubted the wrong Marauder. This was all his fault.

And then … nothing. Things went quiet, apart from the ringing in his ears.

It took a few seconds for Sirius to realize that he was awake. The light to his room was on, he was sat bolt upright, there were a few Order members stood in the doorway, along with Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and the twins.

“W-What … What are you all doing in here?” he asked hoarsely. His throat was dry, lips cracked, his cheeks wet. Sirius wiped at his cheeks, his fingers coming away slightly bloody. His hands shook and he made a small noise in the back of his throat.

He touched his cheek again and more blood came away. Not enough to warrant serious worry, but enough to startle him. He must’ve been scratching at himself in his sleep.

He looked to the doorway in fear and saw Remus shouldering his way through the crowd gathered to see what all the commotion was, saw his eyes flick to the bloody scratches on Sirius’ face, then to the blood on his fingers and he stepped closer, uncertain. It was always a guessing game with Sirius’ nightmares, would he wake up angry and defensive, upset and fragile?

“Rem … I – I don’t know what happened. M-my head hurts … I think I scratched myself.” Sirius stumbled through the sentence. Remus looked relieved at Sirius’ confusion. If he hadn’t started yelling by now, he was likely not going to be overcome by fear and anger tonight.

“Nightmares again?” Remus asked. Sirius nodded. Remus encouraged the others to leave Sirius in peace.

“Why were they just standing in the doorway?” Sirius was shaking, dabbing the bloody scratches with his long shirt sleeve. He didn’t trust himself to do magic right now. They would have to heal naturally tonight. 

“You were screaming the house down. I thought it was your mother’s portrait at first, but once I woke up properly, I realized it was far too low to be her.” Remus responded, closing the door. “Can I join you?” he asked.

Sirius nodded and moved over, allowing Remus to sit on the warm spot that Sirius had been laying in. Remus waved his hand and the lights turned off. He had learned the trick from Dumbledore. Once you mastered candles, it took very little to extend the trick to electrics.

“Wait,” Sirius said. Remus raised an eyebrow. “Will you stay? Properly, I mean? Please don’t leave once I’m asleep. You never used to.” Remus nodded and climbed under the covers, facing Sirius. Both were now laying on their sides, looking at each other.

“This almost feels like being back at Hogwarts, doesn’t it? You, having nightmares, me, injuring myself severely on the fulls, spending our nights comforting each other. Some things never change.” Remus said softly.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Moony,” Sirius said, reaching out to gently brush against Remus’ facial scars. Even in the limited light that the curtains let in, Sirius knew the path of the scars.

He knew where they started, where they ended, knew the thickness of each centimetre of healed skin. He had mapped it all so many times, even his fragmented mind couldn’t mix this up. 

“Is that what you were dreaming of? The night I got them?” Remus asked. Sirius nodded. “Pads … you have got to forgive yourself for that night. I have plenty of scars, and none of them inflicted by you. You wouldn’t blame yourself for these if you hadn’t played the prank that night. I know you didn’t do it to risk Severus’ life on purpose. You were trying to protect me. He was getting too close to my secret and you tried to scare him away. You rose to Severus’ bait, just like Severus rises to yours. I forgive you.”

Sirius teared up and burrowed closer to Remus, who held him close. Sirius knew he was making Remus’ ratty jumper wet, the one he used as a pyjama shirt that covered the bite from Greyback, knew that he was sobbing quietly into Remus, even though he wished he could stop.

“Molly was right. I’m in no fit state to take care of Harry, am I?” Sirius asked.

“You are. You have that same fierce, protective love for him as you did for James, and you won’t be alone in looking after him. I’m here as well. Harry, to some extent, no longer needs as much childcare as he did when he was a baby. Remember the schedule we had? The one that corresponded to when we weren’t on Order missions?” Sirius chuckled softly and muttered his remembrance. “We don’t need that anymore. Molly is as protective as you, she loves Harry, she understands a mother’s love. Don’t hold it against her that she wants what’s best for him.”

“I know, Rem. Thank you for staying with me.” Sirius said, his body slowly began to relax.

“I’ll always stay with you, Sirius.” Sirius could hear his promise as he drifted off into sleep, clutching at the back of Remus’ shirt to remind himself that what was in his arms was real.

~

The next few days were spent dividing up the cleaning duties. Those that were of age used their magic to repair and clean what was harder to sort by hand, while those that were underage got started on clearing out the dusty rooms, working on the infestations of magical creatures that had made the nooks and crannies their home for the last decade.

Sirius could tell that Remus was struggling. He had been pestering Remus to sit down and take breaks constantly, but Remus always fought through.

He had begun getting a little snappy over the last twenty-four hours, and Sirius knew from that soul-wrenching knot of anxiety in his chest that the full moon was tonight.

Even before he and Remus had mated, all of the Marauders could tell when the full was getting close. They all seemed to be synced up to the cycle, painfully aware of how Remus would relive the horror once again in just a matter of days.

That feeling had only grown when Remus and Sirius had mated. The problem with having bound souls with a werewolf was that Sirius often could feel that aggressive reaction Remus’ counterpart had against the moon throughout the month.

Over dinner, Remus was picking at his food, a stew that Molly and Arthur had made together. Usually, he would’ve enjoyed Molly’s cooking, but the approaching moon made him nervous, which made him lose his appetite.

It wasn’t uncommon for Remus to throw up his meals in the two days leading up to the moon, which is why he tried to eat high-calorie food to make up for how little he was eating. It gave him just enough energy to get through the moon.

“Prof – I mean … Lupin,” Hermione started, still uncertain about what to call her ex-professor, “Is everything alright? You’ve not seemed like yourself for the last day or two.”

“She’s right, you’ve been snappy with people and I’ve never seen you pick at your food so much,” Ron added cautiously.

Ron, Harry and Hermione had been sat down for less time than Remus had been but were all almost finished with their dinner, while Remus had barely begun, managing only a few mouthfuls before nausea had overwhelmed him.

The smell of so much stew in one room was making him lightheaded and he felt exhausted. He could smell someone’s cologne, and everything was just so loud. But he smiled at them both nevertheless.

“I’m fine, thank you. Just a little tired, is all.” He lied. Remus didn’t like to draw attention to his condition. The fact that everyone in this room was aware of it was frightening, made Remus want to run far away before someone let it slip to the wrong person, made him feel like he needed a head start against some unseen foe.

“Moony-” Sirius started, his voice wary from beside Remus.

“Sirius, would you please stop bothering me.” Remus snapped. He regretted it as soon as he said it, and took a deep breath. Sirius was well aware of the approaching moon. Remus knew that the bond between them tore at his soul as well.

Sirius knew the aggressive tendencies came to the surface as the moon got closer. Both he and the wolf became antsy, for very different reasons, fighting for control over the same body, the same mind. The wolf was only out for one night a month, and sought to roam free, be as wild as possible, and hated the transformation.

It was as uncomfortable for him as it was for Remus, breaking out of a smaller frame, bones aching as they stretched and grew. It was even more painful changing back. Both of them hated that part the most.

The ache in Remus’ bones, the stretched and sore muscles, they always remained for about forty-eight hours afterwards, and it was only getting more painful as Remus got older.

“I’m sorry, Padfoot. I didn’t mean to snap.” Remus said. Sirius simply smiled at him.

“You know I don’t hold it against you.” Was all Sirius said, and the words comforted Remus.

“It’s … it’s the full moon tonight, isn’t it?” Hermione asked softly. Remus nodded, trying to smile, but knowing it came out more like a grimace. “I remember doing some readings on werewolves when we had to do that essay for Snape while you were still working at Hogwarts. One of the books said that aggression and tension are common in the lead-up to full moons. Is that true?” Remus nodded again.

Hermione seemed to want to ask more but decided against it, not wanting to risk causing offence or asking too many personal questions.

“You know, Miss Granger, if you wanted to better understand lycanthropy, it’d be best to ask a werewolf. If you have a question, please feel free to ask. I know you don’t mean any offence.” Remus said. Hermione looked relieved. Harry and Ron were quiet, curiously listening from either side of Hermione.

“Is it painful? The transformation, I mean.” Remus managed another spoonful before answering, trying to think of how best to describe it.

“It’s incredibly painful. In my experience, it’s worse transforming back to human than it is into a wolf. Other werewolves think they're both similar, some find them both manageable, most feel that the transformation into a wolf is the worst bit because of the anticipation leading up to it. I broke my leg about three months ago during the change back. I also gained some quite thick scars from where Moony scratched at himself. That’s why I’ve been limping slightly. It hasn’t quite healed properly.” Remus explained.

“I thought you were Moony. You call the wolf Moony as well?” Ron asked in confusion.

“We’re both Moony. It’s easier to refer to him with a discreet name, so people don’t get suspicious. Almost like he’s a separate entity. In a way, he is. With a Wolfsbane potion, I retain my human mind during the moon, but we’re still separate without one. I still have no sway over him during the full moon, whether I take the potion or not. He’s a lot stronger in all aspects. He’s more aggressive, he’s unstable, completely wild and feral. I imagine that’s because I isolate myself in the Shrieking Shack and he gets frustrated.” Remus told him.

“You use the Shack?! Isn’t that dangerous, being so close to the school?” Hermione exclaimed, seemingly nervous about the idea. She had seen the wolf up close; she knew the damage he could inflict.

“The Shack and the Willow were put there for me; to protect me, and other students. It was organized in secret in the months before my arrival as a first-year. The reason people say it’s haunted is that Moony causes a racket while injuring himself. Dumbledore lets people think the noises are ghosts to protect my identity as a werewolf.” Remus told her.

“Look at the time,” Sirius said, showing his watch to Remus. The routine they always kept meant that Remus would isolate himself by seven p.m., which left plenty of time for Remus to get settled with fresh clothes and medical supplies tucked under the bed. It was currently quarter to seven, and the anxiety that had momentarily disappeared by talking about his condition to someone had now returned.

“I’ll go get my stuff,” Remus said, rising from his chair and taking his bowl of food over to the pot of leftovers, depositing it in there and making towards the door.

Sirius stood and hugged him tightly as he reached the door. “Sirius, you know you can’t come with me tonight. I wish you could, but-”

“I know,” Sirius interrupted. “Dumbledore doesn’t want to take the risk. I just wish I could be there. Being there with you tonight is yet another thing that’s been snatched away from us.”

“One day, Padfoot, we’ll be able to go back to the old routine again. Don’t worry yourself. This is just another moon, just like the hundreds of ones I’ve had before. I’ll see you tomorrow morning for breakfast.” Remus reassured. Sirius managed a smile as they parted.

“Until morning, Rem,” Sirius said, echoing what the Marauders would say each time they transformed into their Animagus forms for the night, a reminder to keep themselves as animals no matter what. If they let themselves change back for a second, for any reason, they knew the consequences could be fatal.

Eventually, it became a reassurance, that they’d be parted only until the morning.

Then it turned into something they’d say before overnight missions and stakeouts during the first war as well, and the reassurance was felt by all four of them, that their situation was always temporary, they would return to each other by the next morning, battered and bruised, but alive.

“Until morning, Padfoot,” Remus said, smiling before summoning his pre-packed bag and Apparating to the Shack.

Chapter Text

Sirius stared at the ceiling. He’d been awake for about forty-five minutes. It was early and there was a very faint stream of sunlight filtering through the curtains. It couldn't be earlier than maybe seven a.m.

He just couldn’t get back to sleep, not without knowing if Remus was okay. The idea of him going through the full moon alone always gave him anxiety-induced nausea. He knew that Remus had spent over ten years doing them on his own, but the feeling wouldn’t leave.

Sirius would likely always feel that anxiety, even when he could rejoin Remus for the fulls again. Every time he came back injured, and every time he came back more resigned at his condition than the last.

The spark that he’d had as a younger man, where he was shy and self-conscious about his scars, but determined not to let them get the best of him, determined not to let them define him, had all but disappeared now.

Now, he was someone who was slowly approaching middle age, with more of his skin covered in bites and scratches than not.

So; Sirius lay worrying, tossing and turning, terrifying himself that Remus would not be coming back this time, that he was slowly bleeding out on the floor of the Shack, too tired and too drained of energy to attempt magic. Apparating without complete focus could come with catastrophic consequences.

A knock on his door startled him and he tumbled out of bed - It’s Remus, he’s okay, he’s coming to curl up with me in bed like we used to. He’s healed himself, he’s okay, he’s safe, he’s – and then Sirius opened the door to find Harry standing there.

“Harry! Are - are you okay? What are you doing up at this hour?” Sirius asked.

“I didn’t know what to do. I just … couldn’t get back to sleep.” Harry replied.

“Neither could I. Come on, let me show you something,”

Sirius stepped out of his room, closed his door behind him, and beckoned Harry downstairs. He led Harry into the now empty room that contained his family tree on the tapestry on the wall.

“What is this?” Harry asked in wonder.

“The Black family tree. Look,” Sirius pointed at familiar names that he thought Harry might know. “There’s Tonks’ mum, Andromeda. She’s one of my closest cousins in this generation. Her dad, Cygnus, is my mum’s brother. Most of the people on the tapestry are distant relatives that were once Blacks.”

“You’re related to Draco Malfoy?” Harry asked in astonishment.

“Yep. Andromeda has two sisters, Bellatrix and Narcissa Black. Narcissa is Draco’s mother.” Sirius said. Harry suddenly looked uneasy. 

“Bellatrix? As in-”

“Lestrange, yes. Rodolphus, her husband, made her even more insane than she already was. She was always a nightmare as a child. I used to tease her about how her curls made her look like she’d spent a month in Azkaban without a hairbrush. Little did I know that we’d serve a stint together. Luckily, I never ran into her. I’m glad I didn’t, we’d have probably made a valiant attempt to kill each other.” Sirius confirmed.

“What about the black spots? Are you on the tapestry?”

Sirius went over to the spot on the wall where he’d been blasted off at age sixteen and gently put his fingers against the damaged fabric. He'd never seen it in the flesh.

Sirius had been called to the Headmaster's office at the beginning of his sixth year. Dumbledore had informed him that the portrait of Nigellus Black had gone to his frame in Grimmauld Place, spoken to Walburga, who had raged about Sirius' behaviour as a 'blood traitor', and had told Nigellus about Sirius no longer being on the tapestry.

Nigellus had then reported back to Dumbledore to let him know. Dumbledore had been relieved to hear from Sirius that he’d been staying with James over the summer and intended to do so during holidays until Sirius had found a place to live. 

“Here I am. When members of the family deviate, they get blasted off the tapestry. It’s enchanted. I didn’t stick around long enough to learn how they made it permanent. No reversing spells or charms make a difference. My parents said that they’d tell my brother and I once we had families of our own so we could take over the job. Andromeda got blasted off for marrying Ted and having Tonks. When my mother found out from Regulus, my brother, that I was friends with a half-blood, who was also a werewolf, she threatened to disown me.” Sirius said.

“How did he know that Remus is a werewolf?” Harry asked with confusion.

“Snape told him. They were friends." Sirius said.

He could see the question playing behind Harry's eyes, knew he was curious about how Snape had found out. Sirius swallowed, trying to force the words out.

"I played a prank at the end of our fifth year… a stupid one, the only one I’m not proud of. Snape had been taunting Remus about his condition for months. I told him how to get past the Willow. He got close enough to see Remus after he’d changed during the next full moon and almost died after a branch hit him. Remus didn’t speak to me for almost a month afterwards," Sirius told him. The shame hung over him like a raincloud.

“So did you get disowned?” Sirius nodded.

“I told them everything I thought of them. They gave me until they’d gotten back from an event with Regulus and a few of my cousins to get out. Otherwise, they’d call the Aurors.”

“And you just left? Where did you go?” Harry asked. Sirius smiled sadly. Everything always came back to James. The brother he'd lost. 

“Round your dad’s,” Sirius said quietly, remembering the panic he’d felt once he’d realized that he was no longer part of the family, how he’d felt when James’ family had taken him in. He remembered being so shocked that most parents were not like his.

“I sent him a letter telling him what had happened. His dad Apparated the others over here. Peter and Remus had been staying at James’ during the summer for a change of scenery. So we started packing but my parents returned early, so we snuck out of a window and left my stuff behind. Moving back into this house to give this place to the Order … it’s the first time I’ve been back since that day.” Sirius told him.

Harry and Sirius remained in the tapestry room, deciding to sit on the floor after a while, talking, laughing, trying to avoid waking everyone up.

“I’m glad you and Remus have each other,” Harry said at last. “It feels weird calling him that. I’m so used to calling him ‘Professor’.” Sirius smiled.

“I am, too. I was always scared that he would kill me before I could prove my innocence. But it took one look and he forgave me. He’s had to do that a lot over the last twenty-five years. Merlin knows I’ve lost count of the mistakes I’ve made, and the last thing I deserve is his forgiveness. I’m very lucky to have him in my life.”

Someone cleared their throat from the corridor and they both looked towards the doorway, where Hermione was standing sheepishly.

“Sorry to interrupt, but breakfast is ready,” Hermione said, her smile kind. Sirius and Harry stood, dusted their clothes off, and made their way to the kitchen.

“Hey, Harry?” Harry turned as Sirius spoke. “I couldn’t be prouder to call you my godson, you know. Your parents would be so proud of you and everything you’ve achieved, and I am, too.” Harry teared up and threw himself at Sirius, hugging him tightly.

Merlin’s beard, the boy was nearly as tall as Sirius now. He was growing fast ... too fast. Sirius had missed too much.

The two of them joined the others for breakfast and Sirius frowned as he looked around the table and saw that Remus wasn’t there yet.

“Has anyone seen Remus?” Sirius asked. There was a chorus of no’s from the group, a few frowning just as hard as Sirius, just as confused.

“No one’s seen him since dinner. We thought he was with you. Is he not getting some more sleep after last night?” Hermione responded. Sirius shook his head.

“The hallway is the Apparition point. He would’ve had go past the tapestry room and go up the stairs. He would’ve seen me and Harry in there.” Sirius said.

He suddenly felt cold, his heart-stopping in his chest. Merlin’s beard … all those fears I had earlierwere they more than just fears? Were they a byproduct of the bond, telling him that something was wrong with Remus?

Someone was shaking him. Sirius looked up to his right to see Molly staring at him with reassurance written in her eyes.

“He’ll be here soon. It’s only nine a.m. Give him a chance to wake up properly and get himself here. He might’ve had to get help from Madame Pomfrey.” She said.

The rest of the day passed slowly, Sirius pacing in front of the entrance to Grimmauld Place constantly, then sitting on the stairs, then pacing again, over and over in a continuous loop.

Where was Remus? He would always find a way to get in contact with Sirius if he was injured, he would’ve had Madame Pomfrey send a letter. What was wrong?

“Black!” Moony called. Sirius looked at him. “Come and sit down, you’re making the whole house nervous." 

"I need to be here when he arrives. I need to be there to help if he's hurt ... if something is wrong." Sirius insisted. 

"Something probably was wrong. Give the man a chance to breathe. I doubt this is the first time he's been out of commission for more than a day," Moody said.

He beckoned Sirius and Sirius hesitated, sparing one last glance towards the door before sighing and walking to the kitchen, leaning against the doorway to the living room and watching the groups of people who now made this place feel alive again.

Ginny and Hermione were at the stove, baking. Molly was flipping through a recipe book and taking different ingredients out of the cupboards for dinner.

Everyone else was in the living room sprawled out on sofas and armchairs, tired after a long day's work. Some were playing Gobstones, others munching on Chocolate Frogs and trading their cards. 

It was a sight that Sirius loved, an echo of his younger self feeling the adrenaline of rebellion, having so many people his mother would’ve hated in the house, even though the rebellion against his family hadn't been an issue for him in almost twenty years.

His mother would be turning in her grave is she knew how the house was being used, full of 'blood traitors' and Mudbloods, lounging so casually over her favourite furniture.

Sirius and Regulus had never been allowed shoes in the living room, except when there were guests. And even then, it had to be specific shoes. Clean, polished, smart shoes; there would be no casual footwear on the carpets. 

"Do you want to have a game?" the twins asked Sirius simultaneously, nodding at the Gobstones on the ground. Sirius hesitated and then smiled. 

"You'll have to forgive me if I'm awful. I don't think I've played since I was at Hogwarts." Sirius said apologetically, sitting down on the ground beside them. 

  ~

After playing Gobstones for half an hour, and getting beaten by both twins no less than three times each, Sirius heard the snapping sound of someone of Apparating into the hallway, followed by crashes as someone collided with the set of drawers near the stairs. 

Sirius was standing, wand out, racing through the kitchen, pushing past Molly, Hermione, Ginny, and Moody before anyone else had a chance to move.

This was his home. He may have rejected it long ago, may have left and not returned, but this house's magic responded to him. It reacted to him, as the heir to its legacy. He accepted it for what it was now.

This house was not evil, but the people that had once inhabited it were. He was determined to break that cycle, determined to fill these hallways with life, with laughter and happiness and love.

Instead of an attack on the house, or on his loved ones, Sirius was confronted with the sight of Remus, doubled over, leaning on the drawers, hand around his stomach, hair dishevelled, clothes torn and bloody. Remus whimpered slightly, then coughed. 

Coughed, perhaps, was the wrong word. Hacked was more like it. Sirius could hear the guttural noise coming from deep in Remus' chest, then saw blood splatter on the floor by Remus' feet. 

Remus had been keeping his head down this entire time and Sirius tucked his wand away, now over his shock, and stumbled to Remus, saying his name. 

"Remus, stand up properly and look at me. Look at me, love, I need to see where you're hurt. Please, Rem, look at me." Sirius begged.

Remus straightened slightly and let Sirius help to bear his weight. Sirius tilted Remus' face up and towards him and his mouth fell open in shock, heart shattering.

"Merlin's beard ... MOLLY! Clear the table and tell the children to stay in the living room. Kingsley, I need a hand in here!" he yelled. 

His panic was rising, his chest tight. Sirius wound Remus' arm gently around his shoulder and helped him to stagger towards the kitchen as Kingsley hurried through and took Remus' other arm, helping them the rest of the way. The children were pleading with Molly to stay, desperate to see what was happening.

"Moody, stay in there with them, do not, under any circumstances, let them in here, do you understand?" Sirius directed. 

"Black-" Moody started. 

"Do NOT argue with me now, Alastor! You keep them in the living room, and you give us the space we need to keep him alive!" Sirius shouted.

He was almost screaming, his vision became blurry, filled with tears, but Sirius couldn't care. He was aware of the lights in the kitchen flickering violently, heard something smash and the sound of Molly yelping in surprise.  

"Sirius-" Remus croaked, and just like that, the lights returned to normal, the hairs on Sirius’ beck and arms flattened again, and the emotions charging through Sirius’ blood calmed slightly.

"Get him up on here, you two," Molly said, bringing Sirius' attention back to the task at hand.

Sirius wiped at his eyes and Kingsley helped to gently manoeuvre Remus up onto the table. Remus groaned and winced in pain as he was coaxed into lying on the wood. 

"Sirius-" Remus said again, forcing Sirius' name through gritted teeth. “It hurts.” He whimpered softly, pain etched into every inch of him.

"It's alright, Moony, we’re going to clean you up. Stay awake, okay? I’m right beside you, love." Sirius said, grabbing Remus' hand and kissing it, using the other hand to gently brush Remus’ hair from his face, trying to comfort him.

Molly was gathering things from different cupboards, muttering under her breath, the occasional curse dropping from her lips. Kingsley reappeared beside her, having Apparated somewhere, with a book and an armful of plants and liquids now in his arms. 

"Sirius, I need you to get his shirt off and do an inventory for me," Molly instructed. 

Sirius obeyed, using his wand to silently cast a spell to cleave through Remus' shirt in less time than it would've taken him to do it by hand.

He rattled off the injuries he saw, a giant gash in his stomach, which was the source of all the blood.

There was blood on one of Remus' trouser legs, near the hem, and Sirius tore at that as well, seeing a shallow cut above his ankle, nothing that would scar too heavily, nothing compared to the wounds on Remus' leg from a few months ago. There was nothing on his back.

By far, the worst of the damage was to Remus' face. He had a swollen lip, which looked like it had been cut into with something sharp, possibly Moony’s teeth, and there was blood around his nose.

But what had made Sirius so shocked was the large, familiar paths that ran diagonally across Remus' face, the same paths that Sirius had traced countless times before.

Somehow, Remus had reopened the scars; or had torn his face up again completely. It was hard to tell amongst all the blood. 

Molly pressed a piece of cloth and a bowl of antiseptic liquid made from the saps and gels inside the plants in Molly's garden into Sirius' hands. 

"Get cleaning the wounds. Put a full body bind on him if you have to, do whatever you have to do to clean them."

Sirius nodded, dunking the cloth in antiseptic, putting the bowl on a nearby chair so Remus wouldn't knock it off if he thrashed, and began gently cleaning the cuts.

Remus grunted in pain as Sirius neared his stomach, tensing up completely.

Molly saw the hesitation in Sirius’ eyes and put a hand over Sirius’ momentarily to steady it. 

“He’ll be okay, Sirius. It’s not his time yet, we will keep him alive to see another day.”

Sirius nodded and gave her an appreciative smile, still shaking slightly as he heard Remus trying to muffle his pain and knew that this would be a long night for them all.

~

In the end, Sirius had been forced out of the kitchen by Molly. He'd been sobbing, wiping at his eyes every few seconds, trying to clean Remus' face as quickly and gently as possible.

Remus had cried out a few times. Kingsley had been forced to put a full-body bind on him, knowing that Sirius was too emotionally charged to cast magic now. 

Molly had put a numbing agent on Remus' stomach and then stitched up the thicker sections that weren't closing properly. 

"When did he get these scars the first time? Are they all from one night?" Molly had asked, gesturing to the barely visible scars on Remus' face. They'd discovered that these cuts weren't reopened, they were entirely new ones.

"Yes, he got them during the second to last full moon in our fifth year. He nearly went blind in one eye, from what I know. Madame Pomfrey managed to save his sight." Sirius had told her.

"You need to know for sure, Sirius! There can't be any uncertainty!"

"I don't know, Molly! James wouldn't let me join them for that full. Only James, Peter, and Madame Pomfrey saw the injuries. I can tell you about almost every other scar on his body but these," Sirius snapped. 

Molly's eyes softened for a moment before she took another look at the cuts.

The bleeding had stopped, had likely stopped hours ago, but Apparating had aggravated the wounds.

Most of the blood on Remus' shirt had been from the initial bleeding before he'd Apparated and had dried. In the lighting of the hallway, it had looked fresh.

"Okay. I don't know if it'll work, but I suppose I best try," Molly said, picking up another bowl full of salve. 

Remus had started to scream as the salve was applied, begging for them to stop, begging them to just let him die, all in a fit of agony-induced mania. That had been the last straw for Sirius. 

Sirius had begun to sob again, trying to muffle the sound of them as he covered his ears and backing away. 

"Sirius! I need you to calm down and be here for him. If you can't do that, then join the others in the living room," Molly said.

"I can't hurt him, Mol. He'll never forgive me if all I do is keep doing the things that hurt him." Sirius whimpered.

At that, she jerked her head towards the living room and said, 'go'. 

Sirius had been conflicted, torn between staying and going. He took a few steps closer, took Remus' hand, and kissed it again, muttering 'love you, Moony' into it quietly, as he used to do when they were at Hogwarts and Remus was recovering in the Hospital Wing.

He gently put it down, Kingsley guiding him over to the living room when he couldn't get his feet to move without bursting into tears again. 

Heads snapped up as the doors opened and Sirius blinked the tears away, barely managing a few steps before he sunk to his knees.

"What's happening? There's a charm over the door to buffer the noise, but Mum's never been great at charms, we could still hear a little of what was happening." Ginny asked. 

"I - um ... it's Remus," Sirius said, voice cracking. There were a few anxious looks around the room, preparing for the worst, "He's alive. But he's lost a lot of blood. I was with him every full moon for six years, from fifteen to twenty-one. They've never been this bad." Sirius said quietly. 

Harry moved closer to sit beside him, encouraging him to stand and move over to an armchair, which Ginny immediately vacated. Sirius was so tired, so exhausted from worrying himself sick. He felt his eyes drooping.

"You need to sleep, Sirius. He'll be awake before you know it," Harry said, coaxing Sirius to sit down before putting a blanket from the sofa over him.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there for every moon, James, I know I should've been," Sirius said, his words slurring and mind slowing down as he drifted into slumber.
                                                                         ~

Sirius awoke to someone shaking him. It was Moody. 

"Come on, Black, it's almost midnight. Everyone's gone to bed." Alastor said. "Worry about Lupin in the morning. He's sleeping as well. Kingsley and I levitated him up to his room."

Sirius groggily stood, taking the blanket with him as he climbed the stairs. Once he was sure that Moody couldn't see him, slipped into Remus' room instead of his own. 

He could see Remus' outline on the bed and walked over to the empty side, gently curling up beside Remus, careful not to touch him, and slept under the blanket for the rest of the night. 

 ~

Hearing Remus saying his name was enough to jolt Sirius awake. He looked over and saw Remus staring at him, saw the receding yellow glow in his eyes. For the first seventy-two hours after a full, Remus' eyes retained their tendency to have a yellow tint to them, alongside the natural green of his irises. 

The scars on Remus' face were red and angry, sore, and healing. Whatever salve Molly had used was fast-acting, almost as good as the stuff Madame Pomfrey used.

"Hi," Sirius said softly. 

"Hi," He replied. "I heard you. Last night. Comforting me. I felt you mutter than you love me into my hand. We used to do that at school." Sirius nodded.

"I wanted you to know. I was scared to say it before. I was scared that we would find that things are too different now. But I'm not scared anymore. I love you despite the changes in both of us." Sirius told him. Remus smiled tiredly.

"Sirius Black, you romantic fool," he said with a tear choked laugh. Sirius grinned at him, "Now, get up here and kiss me. I love you too, you buffoon."

Sirius happily obliged, cupping Remus' face and kissing him tenderly, trying to avoid his still-healing scars, both smiling and muttering 'I love you', their noses bumping together and chuckles escaping both of them as they cringed and teased each other about their mutual morning breath. 
                                                                         ~

Sirius tended to Remus for the rest of the day, bringing him food from Molly and helping to clean bandages. Remus spent a few minutes testing his strength, walking slowly around the room, learning on Sirius heavily.

As Sirius was gathering some food from the kitchen to take up for his and Remus' dinner, Hermione, Harry, and Ginny walked in.

"You seem a lot happier, Sirius," Ginny said, grabbing an apple from the fruit bowl on the counter and biting into it. "I'm guessing Lupin's alright."

"Yeah, he's alright," Sirius said, taking a deep breath and feeling confident in the words, "He might be able to come down to breakfast tomorrow, it depends on how strong he's feeling. At the minute, he's struggling to walk a few steps on his own." 

"It'd be nice if he could come down tomorrow, if only for a few minutes. Molly's been worrying herself sick, not wanting to get on your bad side by checking in on him." Hermione said.

”Give him our best.” Ginny added, and Sirius thanked her.

She grabbed some parchment from one of the drawers and she and Ginny headed back to the living room. 

"Sirius ..." Harry started, seeming uncertain. Sirius' heart began to hammer.

"Is everything alright?" Sirius asked.

"Yeah! Yeah, everything's fine, I was just ... curious about something." He seemed nervous, rubbing the back of his neck, fiddling with his shirt, habits that reminded Sirius of James. Harry was becoming more and more like his dad with every passing day.

Sirius didn't know how he was managing to cope so well, staring at his best mate's almost fully grown son, who was not far off being an adult in the eyes of wizarding law.

Harry had done all of his growing up on his own, not having anyone to guide him, and he still turned out to be the best parts of both of his parents all at once.

The thought filled him with peace, knowing that, wherever James and Lily were now, they were looking down on Harry with pride.

He hoped they were having a proper laugh at Sirius as well, fussing over Remus the same way he'd always done.

When they'd found out about Sirius and Remus' relationship, they had just laughed, saying that it had been obvious. Tossers, he thought to himself.  

"Are you and Remus dating?" Harry asked suddenly. No tact, all bluntness. Again, just like his father. Sirius spluttered and felt his face heat up, "It's alright, you know. Hermione said that the other night she'd heard you call someone 'love', and heard you say Remus' name when you were in the hallway. She was surprised, she'd never thought to consider that you two might be more than friends." 

"I-I guess you could say so. We’ve got a long history together. It's complicated and a little messy in places, but ... yes, I suppose we are. We started dating in our sixth year. Azkaban was the only thing that got in the way." Sirius explained. 

"I was worried you were lonely here. I didn't want you to feel like you were all on your own. But if you've got Remus, then I'm glad." Harry said. 

"I doubt this house will ever make me feel anything less than lonely sometimes. I had a pretty crap childhood. But maybe, one day, you can join us here. And then maybe things won't be so lonely for either of us at home anymore." Sirius said. He put his hands on Harry's shoulders, then chuckled at his messy hair, ruffling it the same way he used to do with James. "How does that sound?" 

All Harry could do was smile and nod. The floorboards above them creaked and Sirius hurried to finish gathering the rest of his and Remus' food. 

"That'll be Remus. I'll see you tomorrow, okay? I'm knackered, I'll probably fall asleep right after eating." Sirius said.

Harry nodded and Sirius levitated the food, speed walking towards the stairs and calling up to Remus, "Remus John Lupin, you better not be walking around up there."

The floorboards began creaking again and there was a stream of curses as Remus made his way back to bed. Sirius could hear Harry laughing at them as Sirius ascended the stairs.

~

“Sirius, I’m fine,” Remus said with a chuckle. He was sat on the edge of the bed and Sirius was rummaging through Remus’ wardrobe for the silk robe that Sirius had been keeping in there since Remus had returned from the full. 

Molly had given them both strict instructions on what Remus should wear so as not to cause irritation, friction, or tearing in his stitches. Remus’ clothes were completely out of the question, with none of them fitting over the thick gauze around his midriff.

The only ones that would fit were his jumpers, but he currently couldn’t lift his arms very high without pain.

Molly had called everyone for dinner ten minutes ago and Remus had convinced Sirius that he was able to move enough to join them.

Sirius didn’t entirely believe him but didn’t feel like arguing either, so he’d quickly raced downstairs to mutter in Molly’s ear to give them a few minutes to get downstairs.

“You are not fine. You were almost sick this morning, you look like you’ve been beaten up by a hippogriff and you almost bled out on the kitchen table right in front of my eyes. You were begging to be left to die, you know that, right?!” Sirius said.

That’s when Remus realized just how much the aftermath of the moon had affected Sirius. He ignored the hippogriff comment and understood that this was more than Sirius just being … well, Sirius.

Remus wasn’t blind, he could see the way Sirius slowed his search, could hear the tremor in Sirius' voice as he spoke. Sirius had never had to see Remus like that before; his injuries had never been so severe. 

Sirius had cleaned his fair share of bites, wrapped enough bandages around Remus’ cuts, had been around his bloody body more than almost anyone else. But he’d never had to see this extent of damage. 

Remus had caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror this morning. That’s why he’d almost been sick. He’d been so horrified at the sight of so many grooves in his skin, so unused to them being on his face that they’d made him sob for a second, and then retch into the sink. 

His old, silvery scars from fifth-year highlighted the new marks, a stark comparison to how much more of a danger he was now than he had been back then.

“Sirius,” Remus started, managing to push himself to his feet and take some unsteady steps towards Sirius.

His first few steps were always the worst. He had lost a lot of blood, and he was often momentarily woozy when he first stood.

“Sirius, come on, look at me.”

Sirius turned as Remus put a hand on his shoulder, holding Remus gently by the elbows as he swayed on his feet. 

“I was so worried about you. I never want to hear you beg for death again. You don’t know how horrible that was to hear.” Sirius sobbed. Remus gently cupped Sirius’ face, wiping tears from his cheeks softly. 

“I’m so sorry that you heard that, Sirius. I’m fine now. And that’s thanks to you, Molly and Kingsley banding together to save my life. I feel better than I did this morning, and I’m getting steadier on my feet. I’m capable, I promise.” Remus reassured. Sirius sighed, smiled and stepped half a step closer to place a soft kiss on Remus’ lips. 

“I know. Come on, put this on,” Sirius said, pulling out his robe and helping Remus to slide it on. He’d managed to change out of his torn, blood-splattered trousers and was wearing a pair of Sirius’ checkered red and gold pyjama bottoms that were too big on Sirius now.

He’d bought them in Muggle London in the year after he’d left Hogwarts. They’d made Sirius think of Gryffindor and had filled him with a strong sense of House pride. 

However, they were far too big on him now and reminded him too much of James, who had bought a matching pair. Instead, he had charmed them to fit Remus’ longer legs.

He hadn’t felt so sad then … he’d felt relieved to see them being worn by someone.

Someone who must’ve thought similar of the colour scheme, but who Sirius could never feel sad about seeing. In truth, Remus was one of the few things in this world that balanced out his bad feelings.

They made their way towards the door, arms around each other, manoeuvred their way through the doorway, before beginning the descent down the stairs. 

Remus was self-conscious by how long it took for them to get down the stairs. In reality, it was likely only a minute or two, but it felt like longer, considering it barely took any time at all during normal circumstances.

He was keenly aware of how the floorboards creaked underneath them; he knew that everyone below them could hear the movement as well. 

When they reached the bottom, Remus bit his lip. The door was closed and the doorway was narrow, more so than the doorways to the bedrooms. He’d have to get through this one without Sirius’ help. 

“I found this,” Sirius said, summoning a slim black cane with a platinum head, a crow carved into it. Crows were part of the Black family crest, so Remus knew it had once belonged to someone in Sirius’ family. “I found it in Reg’s room. I think I hurt him the last time we saw each other.” Sirius said quietly.

Remus remembered the last time they’d all seen Regulus. They’d been fighting on opposite sides. If Peter hadn’t knocked Sirius to the ground, he would’ve been hit by a hex from a Death Eater who’d taken advantage of his distraction. 

Sirius had snapped back to reality then, had sent back a particularly brutal jinx towards Regulus that had made him scream out in pain. Sirius had been swallowed by self-hatred and worry for weeks afterwards, often having nightmares, the events replaying over and over again.

Remus was accustomed to occasionally using a cane to help him walk, had done so quite a few times before. Using this one seemed wrong, but only because it had belonged to the brother Sirius still had a love for, despite their differences. 

“Are you sure?” Remus asked.

Sirius nodded, untangling himself from Remus and letting him adjust his weight before opening the door.

“I’ve brought a special guest with me,” Sirius announced jokingly as he entered, the traces of grief for his brother now hidden behind the casual façade that he put on in front of everyone else.

Remus heard rustling clothes and Sirius stepped to one side, letting Remus step forward, revealing curious faces that widened into smiles, eruptions of happiness as he stepped through the threshold. 

Remus flushed and ducked his head in embarrassment. He knew how he looked. His hair was wild and sticking up everywhere, his face was still pale and he was wearing the evidence of fatigue. 

The robe hanging off his shoulders had been tied very loosely around his hips, leaving a small expanse of his chest, bandages and shoulders exposed. 

He adjusted the robe lightly to cover up his old bite scar, hoping no one was paying too much attention to the obvious array of damage done to his torso over the last thirty years. 

“There’s my Moony, blushing smile, and all!” Sirius said, his voice louder than the rest, tilting Remus’ face up for everyone to see, making Remus laugh. 

My Moony. He hasn’t called me that in years, Remus thought to himself.

He blushed harder and placed a hand over the one Sirius had on his cheek. 

Merlin, what a fool he was, still made a blushing schoolboy by Sirius, even in his thirties. It took so little for Remus’ heart to flutter when it came to Sirius.

In all his years, this ridiculous peacock of a man who loved to flaunt his fashion sense, with his flair for dramatizing everything, was still the one to make Remus’ knees knock, his head spin, his stomach fill with butterflies.

Remus looked at those gathered around the table, his and Sirius’ hands falling away.

“Thank you for the positivity towards my wellbeing, it’s much appreciated,” Remus said, following Sirius to two empty seats and easing himself into the one that Sirius pulled out for him, “But I think the real attention should go to Molly, Sirius, and Kingsley. Without the three of you, I wouldn’t be sat here looking like I’ve beaten up by a hippogriff, as Sirius told me.” A low rumble of chuckles rippled throughout the room.

Kingsley inclined his head towards Remus in acknowledgement. Sirius beamed from the seat beside Remus, reaching for Remus’ hand, which was resting on the table, and squeezing it as Molly’s cheeks reddened, an appreciative smile spreading across her face. 

“I – well … you don’t have to thank me, Remus, it was my pleasure. It was just a few things I had lying around,” Molly said, fiddling with some of the cutlery in front of her, gently tapping it with her wand, causing it to settle at each person around the table. 

“Nonsense Molly. The truth is, I’d be looking a lot worse without the three of you. I was almost at death’s door when I arrived and without your remedies, I likely wouldn’t have made it through the night. So, thank you.” Remus said earnestly.

He felt the grip on his hand tighten and realized that he and Sirius hadn’t let go of each other’s hands. 

Remus blushed brightly and winked at Sirius as subtly as he could before releasing Sirius’ hand. 

“It’s quite alright, Remus. Right! Tuck in, everyone!” Molly said, directing people towards the plates she was passing down the table. 

 ~

Remus settled into an armchair in front of the fireplace. There was a heatless fire roaring inside for an atmospheric vibe to the evening. The wonders of magic, Remus thought to himself with a smile.

He felt so much better, having spent time with some of his favourite people in this world. Molly had commented on the colour that had returned to his cheeks over dinner. 

Even after over thirty years of being split between understanding both Muggle and wizard life, courtesy of his parents believing that both were important, Remus would never cease to be amazed at the things he could do, the things that he’d seen his family and peers do, all with a thought and a flick of their wands.

“Where did you get those scars? Did they all come from full moons?” Fred asked, jolting Remus out of his thoughts. 

Remus nodded, “I have many more that are covered. All across my back, down my arms. I have some particularly nasty ones from a full three months ago, a set of lines that were raked across my leg. It’s why I limp a little sometimes.” 

“Isn’t there something that reduces them? Surely there’s some kind of magic.” Hermione said.

“Werewolf injuries are a bit of a mystery. No one knows what causes them to scar so horribly, but they can’t do any research because it would require werewolves volunteering themselves for tests. It’s simply too dangerous.”  Remus explained. 

“Where did you get that one on your shoulder? You keep adjusting your robe like you don’t want us to see that one. And you can’t bite yourself. Did someone else give it-” Ron asked, the last half of his question being cut off by Ginny elbowing him.

Remus felt cold all of a sudden and could almost feel the pain from the bite as if it were fresh. 

“Sorry, Professor, sometimes his mouth opens before his brain can stop itself.” Ginny apologized. 

“It’s quite alright, Ginny,” Remus assured, “Ron is right. It’s from Fenrir Greyback. He has a bit of a nasty habit of biting children. I got mine a few short weeks before I turned five.”

He pulled the edge of his robe to one side to reveal the bite. It was thick and messy, a testament to the fierce fight he'd put up.

“The bite is the only scar that is always guaranteed to be horribly visible. Many werewolves get out their aggression by living in the wild and have barely any scars at all. The first bite is always present, though not all are as distorted as mine."

“How could he bite innocent children?!” Hermione exclaimed, outraged at the very thought. The horror on everyone’s faces matched her outrage.

“My father happened to say some unsavoury things about werewolves that Greyback got wind of, back in the early sixties. He decided to take his revenge out on me by sneaking into my room and turning me. I managed to dislodge him a few times, that’s why it’s so thick and messy. I wouldn’t worry yourselves over it, though. It’s been thirty years. I came to terms with it long ago.” Remus dismissed. 

There were some shocked and sympathetic looks, but Molly came through with deserts at that moment, taking the attention away from Remus and his scars.

But the sick feeling in his stomach wouldn’t leave until long after he and Sirius had retired to bed.

Chapter Text

Remus’ strength slowly returned over the next few days, though he still needed the cane that Sirius had given him. 

He regained his appetite and his scars began to calm until they were just thin pink lines. His stomach still throbbed, but his bandages were not as thick now, wrapped around his midriff twice rather than five or six times, which meant that Remus could return to wearing his own clothes again. 

He joined everyone at every meal and began to feel like he was normal again. Molly and Sirius still fussed slightly. They were both worried that every grimace and every hiss of pain meant more than they did, as anything more than momentary pain as he recovered.
 
Remus walked up the stairs to the room Harry was sharing with Ron and the twins and knocked on the door. Ron opened it and smiled, letting Lupin come in. 

“Harry,” Remus said. Harry turned from where he was packing his trunk. “Sorry to interrupt, but I have something I’d like to give you.” Harry frowned and moved closer. Remus handed him a picture frame. In it was a moving photo of James, Lily, Peter, Sirius, and Remus at their first Order meeting. 

The photograph versions of James and Lily smiled before kissing lightly, Peter faked being sick at them and Sirius and Remus pulled stupid faces before giving each other shy smiles, their arms around each other.

It was casual, and if you were a regular observer, you’d think they were just two immature teenage boys, but if you looked close enough, those smiles were detailing the volumes of love between them without saying a word. 

“When was this taken? You all look so young.” Harry asked softly.

“We were all eighteen. This was our first Order meeting. This was about a year before your parents got married.” 

“They got married at nineteen?” Harry asked in surprise. Remus nodded. 

“A lot of young couples did. Within just under two years of this photo being taken, they were married and you were here. I tried to get custody of you after James and Lily died, but the Wizengamot wouldn’t let me. I’m not a blood relative, I was struggling financially, and Dumbledore wanted to hide you with Muggle relatives. I want to make it right, though. I want you to know that you are very wanted, Harry. More than you'll ever know. We may not be blood relatives, but we're still family, should you need us.” Remus told him. 

Harry smiled, watching the photo move, amazed at such a small gift.

“I don’t have a lot of stuff from them. Hagrid gave me a scrapbook at the end of my first year. I feel like I barely know them.” Harry said. 

“Well, anytime you have any questions about them, ask us. You can send a letter anytime. It hurts sometimes … to remember them. Sirius and I haven’t quite let go of our grief yet. But reminiscing together to you doesn’t feel so bad. It feels like they’re still here. I can say with certainty that you're doing them so proud. You're everything they wanted you to be and more.” Remus told him, meaning every word. Harry sniffed and wiped his eyes.
 
“Thanks, that means a lot.” He said, looking up at Remus, eyes shining. He put the framed photo to one side and hugged Remus. When they parted, Harry looked at the cane that Remus’ was leaning on. “Are you recovering alright?” Remus shrugged. 

“As best as I can. It’s a slow process and I’m not getting any younger. A lot of werewolves don’t get to thirty-five … Merlin knows how I have.” Remus admitted.  “Anyway, I’ll let you get back to your packing. Good luck this year, lads. We're only a letter away, Harry, never forget that.” Remus gave them a final smile and left, closing the door behind him with a flick of his wrist.

He heard Ron’s comment of ‘that was bloody brilliant,' and smirked, making his way back down to the first floor to see Sirius. God, I love magic, he thought.

    ~

Sirius was staring at old photos. A lot of them were of the Hogwarts days. There were some of him and James in their Quidditch uniforms after matches, their hair wild and eyes bright, high on adrenaline, holding trophies.

Sirius had been a Beater for four years on the Quidditch team. Peter had usually run the commentary, as he’d been one of the few students who could be trusted to be unbiased. 

Initially, Remus had been asked to do it, but it turned out that Remus had more of an … extensive vocabulary than people realized. Sirius remembered vividly the last match of seventh year, where Minerva had reluctantly let Remus do the commentary one last time.

Sirius sped round the pitch, egging the ground on as he passed. His expertly timed hits had taken out the Slytherin Seeker and their best Chaser. 

Thanks to him, James had managed to retrieve the Quaffle from the fallen Chaser, race up the opposite end of the pitch and earn an extra ten points just as Gryffindor’s Seeker, a feisty little redhead girl from third year, who was one of the quickest fliers Sirius had seen in a long time, had caught the Snitch. 

It put them only fifty points of Slytherin. A slim win, but a win nonetheless.

‘Madeline O’Connell has caught the Snitch just as James Potter scores! That takes the final score to Gryffindor at 350 points and Slytherin at 300 points. How’s that for a win, you slimy, cheating little-”

“Mr Lupin!” Minerva’s voice could just about be heard over the microphone as Remus egged the Gryffindor supporters on. 

“Sorry Professor! Look at that celebratory atmosphere on the pitch, doesn’t that fill you with House pride?! And all thanks to that amazing set up by the one and only Sirius Black, Beater extraordinaire! Even after an hour’s worth of tense, nail-biting game-play, he plays it off as if its nothing, makes it look easy. The hero of this year’s Quidditch Cup is making his rounds. Will he choose a beautiful spectator to pay a token of affection to? Make your bets now, folks!” Remus was a big Quidditch fan, and Sirius laughed at his enthusiasm. 

Sirius whirled his broom around the pitch again, slowing down as he got to the spectator’s box and blowing a kiss towards Remus. Remus grinned and blew one back as Sirius flew back down to the ground and embraced with the team.

“I see Harry and I aren’t the only ones reminiscing on the old days.” Remus’ voice called softly. Sirius looked up and looked at him.

“I’m always reminiscing. It’s the only way I can sort through anything anymore.” Sirius replied. Remus moved from the doorway to sit beside Sirius. 

“We’ll get through it, Sirius. Together.”  Remus said. 

“Promise?” Sirius asked, a wrinkle between his brows. Remus smiled and carded his hair through Sirius’ hair. 

There was an unspoken understanding between them. Something out there … fate, or destiny, or simple luck made sure that they would always be brought back together. 

“I promise.” 

~

Adjusting to having the children gone after being used to having them in the house was proving to be tough, especially on Sirius. He seemed to take a few steps back in his recovery, having more frequent dissociation periods, his claustrophobia fluctuating between being manageable and almost unbearable.

These periods made Remus feel heartsick, made him sneak off to have a moment to mourn the Sirius he knew once upon a time, who could never sit still, he was always laughing, always smiling, always talking. He wanted that Sirius back some days. Wished they could use a time-turner and just erase everything bad that had happened.

He wished he could pay that price to have Sirius back. He would've stopped Sirius from walking out that night, sabotaged everything to make sure that Sirius stayed out of Azkaban and to get Harry in their custody, to do James and Lily proud. Or even to tip them off, get them out of the house, send them to a different safe house. Anything to have his old life back. 

But it was ridiculous to feel that. Bad things always happen to wizards who mess with time, and Remus would rather have Sirius as he was now than not have Sirius at all, to have to visit his grave and find a tombstone and a pile of dirt instead of going to his room and finding him in the flesh.

Remus could see that Sirius felt trapped in his skin, he would pace constantly and when his mind became too overwhelming, sometimes even Remus wasn’t safe from being snapped at. Other times, he barely responded to Remus. 

Today was one such day. 

Sirius was sat in one of the armchairs in the living room, staring into space. The air around him seemed to crackle with aggression and fear.

That’s what Remus tried so hard to remember when Sirius’ moods overtook him, that Sirius’ main motivator at those times was fear. He was scared of everything around him, terrified at what dangers could be close by. He didn’t mean to get frustrated. 

“Sirius?” Remus called, keeping his voice as quiet and as soft as possible. Sirius had been in a tricky mood, so close to being overwhelmed and angry that Remus still sometimes got it wrong on how to approach him. Sirius’ eyes flicked up to Remus and then back into space. “Dinner’s ready if you want to come in.” 

Remus had learned to always give Sirius the choice when he was in this mood. Giving him the choice meant that he felt less pressured, he was less likely to panic and get angry. 

Remus waited a few seconds and when Sirius still didn’t answer, he tried a different approach. “Would you like me to bring your food in here instead? You don’t have to join us if you want some peace.” 

“My mother never used to let us eat food in here,” Sirius whispered. Remus waited, thinking he might have more to say. But when he didn’t say anything else, Remus turned and grabbed a plate of food. Molly had done a roast dinner.

There was less on this plate than there was on the others since Sirius hadn’t quite gotten his old appetite back, but it was a hearty meal nonetheless. Molly always made sure that Sirius' plate was filled with just the right stuff, cutting the middle man and making sure that, even though he was eating less than everyone else, Sirius was eating well. 

Remus took the plate into the living room and pulled his wand out of his pocket, enchanting a small circular coffee table to move in front of Sirius, then placed the plate on top of it. 

“If you do want something to eat, here it is,” Remus said. 

When Remus had gone and checked on Sirius after dinner, Sirius was eating happily, seemingly having returned to himself. A crisis of thrown dishes, broken coffee table, hot food on the expensive carpets and tension between the whole house had been avoided, which Remus was thankful for.

He felt guilty for ever being hesitant around Sirius, but right now, that’s the way it was. And he could only hope that it would get better with time. 

   ~

“Have you ever thought about changing into Padfoot when you’re having a hard time?” Remus asked softly. He and Sirius were relaxing before bed, sprawled out in Remus’ room, on his bed, with Sirius curled into Remus’ side and his head on Remus’ chest. Remus had an arm resting loosely around Sirius, the other one cradling his head. 

“No. I haven’t changed into him since I left Azkaban.” Sirius said softly. Remus knew how hard it was for him to admit that he’d been there, knew that it was a real sign of progress that he could say the place’s name without hesitating. 

“Can I ask why?” Remus asked. 

“I don’t know why. I used him as an escape, both to get out of Azkaban and to survive the Dementors. I just … get scared that there’s some kind of smell that I would be able to pick up on and it would bring everything back. I don’t want to associate him with that place. I’m still scared of going back, Remus.” Sirius said.

“I could help clean his fur if there is something there that reminds you of that place. All you have to do is tell me.” Remus suggested. Sirius looked up at him and smiled. 

“I’d like that.” He said, smiling.

    ~

Sirius spent a lot of time as Padfoot over the next few weeks. Remus could see the impact that it had on him when he was human. He seemed to relax a bit more, seem more like himself. 

His hair was curlier than it was when they were teenagers, but Remus supposed that was because of the length. Sirius had never had his hair as long as it was now.

Remus cut it every few months to maintain the softness, but Sirius liked the length and had always asked for it to be left alone. He'd always liked his hair long, and Remus had come to love it, too. It was more proof that Sirius was getting better, that he could be content in himself.

Sirius had managed to find some stuff laying around the house for Order members to sell for him and then asked Remus to place orders for him at Madame Malkin’s. He didn’t seem to trust anyone else to get things that he liked. 

They would charm the clothes to fit him better if they weren’t quite right and everything just seemed … normal. Remus felt like he could breathe again. He felt equal parts comfortable falling asleep beside a dog and waking him to Sirius. 

He couldn’t have James and Lily back, couldn’t save Peter from the mess he’d gotten himself into, but he had Sirius beside him, one of the few people that he had left that would understand him, understand his quirks and panics, his flaws and insecurities, his fears and his joys. Sirius had been there for everything that had made him into the man he was at heart.

Despite his heartbreak and loss, Remus was coping as well. 

Christmas came quickly, and Molly was out of commission most of the time, caring for Arthur after his near-fatal miss with Nagini. Which meant that other Order members were on kitchen duty most days. 

Harry was spending Christmas with them, and Remus was relieved to see him and Sirius grinning and smiling at each other, secretly talking to each other and enjoying each other’s company. 

But the day before the students were all due to go back to Hogwarts, Remus was out later on a mission for the Order, scoping out a nearby werewolf pack that had been reportedly attacking Muggles, trying to discern any recognizable faces so the Order could plan a way to recruit them to the Order.

Voldemort had been quickly snatching up werewolf packs all over the country and the Order was determined to do the same, trying to make sure that they were never at a disadvantage. 

The other wolves had smelled something on him though, could smell their kind, could pick up on the scent of a dog on Remus, as well as the smell of Greyback on Remus' bite, and had found him before he could Apparate away.

He’d had to do some negotiating then and there, explaining his presence, showing the wolves his bite to prove that he was one of them. He claimed no allegiance to Fenrir Greyback’s pack, who were apparent enemies to this group of wolves. 

He’d told no lies of his disdain for Greyback as the person who had bitten him. Remus had told them that he’d been one of the children Greyback had turned just a few decades ago and this pack had then trusted him.

To be a victim of Greyback and to have survived into his thirties without ever joining Greyback’s pack or any pack for that matter, was met with respect amongst all the wolves and they had agreed upon joining the Order, since they stood against the followers of Voldemort, including Greyback. 

Remus had given them the contact details of all the senior Order members and had made to leave when one of the werewolves had spoken up. 

“You’re Remus Lupin, aren’t you?” she asked. Remus turned and nodded. 

“How did you know?” 

“I used to be a part of Greyback’s pack a few years ago. I had nowhere else to go. He used to talk about a teenage wolf who stubbornly refused to join the pack when he left Hogwarts. He mentioned your name once or twice and said that you always smelt like a dog. I figured you must be the same person. Why is it that you smell like a dog?” the girl asked.

She couldn’t be too much older than Remus if she remembered Greyback talking about him. It was admirable to see another wolf who had survived as long as he had. 

“My three best friends, Peter, James and Sirius, became illegal Animagi in our fifth year to help me through the full moons. They did so for six years before Peter, betrayed us to Voldemort. James and his wife died. Sirius found out and went after Peter, who faked his death and fled. Sirius was framed and got sent to Azkaban. He escaped two and a half years ago, after thirteen years away. His Animagi is a dog. He’s … he’s my mate, so his scent is always alongside mine.” Remus said. 

He’d never admitted to anyone other than Sirius about them being mates. But somehow, it felt right to talk to fellow wolves about it. The female werewolf had smiled then, and Remus could see from the faces around him that there was a sense of community among them, support for a wolf who had found his mate. 

Like Remus had told Sirius, mating was sacred and a pillar of the werewolf community. Those that found their mates were often in leadership roles and were highly respected.

"I am glad that your mate returned to you, Remus." Another wolf said. 

“So am I," Remus said. "I hope to see you all soon. Take care of yourselves." 

“You too. We look forward to going against Greyback beside you.” The pack leader, a tall, muscled man with a few tattoos and thick black hair, said.

Remus has inclined his head in thanks and had checked his watch, realized that it was almost midnight and had Apparated back to Grimmauld Place then.

When Remus arrived back at Grimmauld Place, he was immediately hit with the sound of shouting and thuds coming from upstairs. He raced up the stairs, his legs screaming in pain at the sudden exertion.

"Padfoot?! Molly?!" Remus shouted. “Padfootwhere are you?”

"Up here, Remus!" Molly called in response.

Upon reaching the first-floor landing, Remus saw what the commotion was. Sirius’ hands were bleeding and he was holding them out in front of him. 

“Sirius, I need to bind those wounds!” Molly said. There was a frustrated note in her voice and Remus knew she was trying her best to keep herself calm. 

“No! I’m fine!” Sirius responded.

Remus realized what had caused the wounds. Sirius had smashed a vase that had been standing on the dresser nearby and had picked up two large shards and was holding one in each hand, held out in front of him, backed into one of the corners.

He had tear tracks down his face and Molly was practically shaking with fury. A few people had poked their heads out of their doors or were peeking over the railings on the stairs. 

“What’s going on?” Remus asked. Molly and Sirius focused on him then, realizing that he was there for the first time. 

“Sirius was screaming the house down again. He broke through the silencing charms over the door. When I came to see if he was alright, he was pacing the corridor as that scruffy dog. He saw me, changed back and started screaming at me to stay away. The vase smashed without either of us touching it and now he’s bleeding everywhere and won’t let me heal the wounds.” Molly said.

Remus looked over at Sirius and stepped closer slowly, holding his hands up to show that he wasn’t armed. 

“Can I have those shards?” he asked. Sirius looked at his hands in dismay, like he didn’t want to let them go. “You’re bleeding, Padfoot, I’m only going to put them on that dresser and then repair the vase. Molly would like you to put them down so she can heal those cuts. You can watch us both do it, we won’t hurt you.” Remus explained. 

Sirius hesitated for another few seconds and then handed them to Remus, who moved slowly and put them to one side, flicking his wand carefully. Sirius was watching as the shards flew back together on the dresser. “Can Molly heal your hands now?” Remus asked. 

“Can’t you do it?” Sirius asked quietly. 

“You know I’ve never been good at healing charms, Padfoot. But I’m right here. Molly only wants to help, she won’t hurt you.” Remus replied. Sirius wiggled his fingers gently as if trying to feel the movement in them again after gripping the china in his hands so tightly. He held them towards Molly and she too, as Remus had with the vase, moved her wand slowly over the cuts so Sirius could see what she was doing at all times. 

When Sirius’ hands were healed, Sirius lowered his hands, then looked at Remus, who smiled at him encouragingly. 

“Alright, back to bed, all of you!” Molly addressed the still curious gazes peeking at the scene on the landing. There was some reluctance, but with another look from Molly, they sighed and closed their doors or back up the stairs to their rooms.

“What happened to make you panic tonight?” Molly asked. 

“I had another nightmare. It felt so real that it made me think it was a vision. My mother always used to say that there were seers in the family, that the gift has trickled down through the generations and some are stronger than others, sometimes it manifests in different ways. I never used to believe her until we were about fifteen or sixteen.” Sirius said. He wasn’t looking at either of them, instead watching the floorboards. 

“I remember," Remus said. "You felt weird about Peter for a few days during sixth year. You said it was like something was clinging to him, like a ghost. And then he told us that his grandmother had just passed away.” Remus realized. 

Sirius wiped at his face and Remus realized he was crying. Remus held out his arms and Sirius pressed into him, trembling violently. 

“It felt real. I thought you were hurt. I thought you’d been captured by those werewolves that you visited tonight.” Sirius sobbed into his shirt. 

“They found me, but I talked my way out of it. Turns out they like Fenrir Greyback just as little as I do. They didn’t hurt me; they’re joining the Order.” Remus told him. 

“They are?!” Sirius pulled back. He wasn’t crying anymore. Instead, there was a glimmer of hope in his eyes. Remus smiled and nodded. 

“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow at the Order meeting,” Remus promised. “Right now, I’m knackered. Let’s go to bed.”

Sirius took a deep breath and Remus knew that he was preparing himself mentally, knowing that his dream, vision, whatever it was, was in some way right, and that something like that could happen again. They both thanked Molly and went to Sirius’ room. 

“Maybe it’s this room,” Sirius said. 

“What do you mean?” Remus asked, beginning to shed his robes and cardigan, grabbing his pyjamas and heading towards the bathroom. 

“I spent a lot of bad moments in this room. There was so much that happened here. The times my parents locked me in here with no wand and no food for a day or two. The times they would throw furniture at me, beat me, scream at me. Maybe it has … I don’t know, bad energy or something.” Sirius admitted. 

“That’s entirely possible. I think you’re right in wanting to fill this place with positive things again, with people you care about, drowning out the bad memories with good ones.” Remus said, leaning against the door frame to the bathroom. Sirius was sat on the bed, picking at the frayed hems of his favourite pair of Remus’ baggy pyjama bottoms. 

He’d had to gather it up at the waist and tie it with a hair tie, but Remus knew that those trousers were immensely comforting to Sirius when Remus wasn’t around. 

“I’m trying to change the magic of the house. It’s hard. This place is stubborn. It’s much easier to let things react to negativity.” Sirius told him. 

“Change the magic of the house?” Remus asked, turning off the bathroom light and sliding under the covers. 

“The house has housed a lot of Blacks. It … responds to us. All the magic that’s been performed here, I guess something from every Black has seeped into the foundations. It reacts to our magic, our lineage, amplifies our magic. My parents were not particularly gifted, they relied on their status more than skills. For me and Reg, the house used to come alive at our emotions. This place focuses more on me now, because I’m the last one left.” Sirius said, shivering and joining Remus under the covers.

“When I came back here after that full moon during summer, when I was injured-”

“Don’t sugarcoat it, Remus, you almost died. You said to Molly yourself.” Sirius’ voice was sharp. He was upset, he didn’t like talking about that night. It scared him. 

“Sorry, you know what I mean,” Remus apologized, “I remember the lights going crazy and something smashing. I think I heard Molly getting surprised at it all. Was that because of the amplified magic? Was that what happened to the vase tonight?” Sirius nodded. 

“I think it reacts strongly about the people the family care about, too. It always reacts when I think too much about James and Pete and Lily and you. Lightbulbs smash a lot. Sometimes taps turn on by themselves, or mirrors crack. Other times, the floorboards creak and groan, even when there’s no one upstairs. I don’t like it when it reacts like that. It always happens when I'm upset.” Sirius said. 

“The more you understand it, the more that things will cater to you. Maybe I can find some books on it and we can work on it together.” Remus suggested. Sirius smiled. 

“You and your books.” Sirius laughed. Remus grinned at that. Despite everything, times like this reminded them both that they could still honour the men they were once. They could accept that their old selves could live beside who they were now, but that not everything could be saved, not everything could thrive now. Not when things were so different when so much had happened. 

“You wouldn’t have me any other way.” Remus believed the words he said.

Sirius teased, and he joked, and he poked fun at everything and everyone. But deep down, his love ran deep and Remus always felt it.

He felt in the way Sirius' eyes lingered on him after their conversations had ceased as if he took great pleasure in just looking at Remus. He felt it when Sirius showed him affection, knowing that, to Sirius, it was a demonstration of trust, that he wanted Remus close by. 

As much as Sirius was Remus' safe place to land, Remus was Sirius' as well. 

Sirius looked at him and linked their fingers. 

“I really wouldn’t. I love you, Moony.” He whispered. 

“I love you too, Pads,” Remus whispered back. 

Both of their eyes drooped, tired after all they had been through throughout the day. As they fell asleep at the same time, Sirius felt something shift in the house, something in his room feeling warmer and more welcoming, and Sirius knew that it was only the beginning. 

Chapter Text

Tensions were rising.

They could all feel something changing in the course of this war. 

Voldemort was getting bold. Too bold. The werewolves that Remus had recruited had found other packs that weren’t loyal to Greyback and had convinced many of them to join the Order.

Remus had been the official liaison between the Order and the werewolves. 

When things got heated, he was often torn between the two sides of him. Should he stand with the werewolves and acknowledge that darker part of his soul, or should he stand with the Order and the people he loved, the people who didn’t understand his life, but tried hard to nonetheless? 

“We should start trying to take out the opposing werewolf packs. The fewer people on the other side, the better. We’ve caught the scent of Greyback's wolves across our territories. They’re getting bolder. They’re planning something.” Marcus – the leader of the first pack that Remus had approached – said. Representatives from all eight packs that had been recruited to the Order were present. 

“Of course they’re planning something, You-Know-Who is getting stronger each day. But he knows about us, we don’t have the element of surprise as we did fifteen years ago. We have to approach this differently. Many of his followers were on the front lines back then, they remember how we used to operate. We need to make him think we’re still low on numbers. We can’t order assassination attempts on werewolf packs.” Kingsley said. 

“It isn't an assassination attempt. There is a way that things are run among werewolves. Breaching another pack’s territory, killing the food they hunt, skimming them of their only way to survive, it’s a breach of our laws. It cannot go unpunished. Something must be done.” Lydia, another pack leader chimed in. 

She was dark-skinned, with beautiful sleek black hair that was braided back. Her eyes were a deep brown that lit up fascinatingly in the sun and she often wore sleeveless shirts, displaying her scars for all to see. They were the markings she had received while fighting to remain as the leader of her pack. 

“Which of You-Know-Who’s recruited packs was closest to one of our territories?” Remus asked. 

“There was one that came close yesterday, just outside St Albans. We can still trace the scent.” Lydia said. 

“Maybe if we trace it back to the source, we can gather intel on some of their next moves. This has to be a stealth mission, not an assassination. Once we figure out who the offenders are, we can isolate them and make them face the necessary punishment.” Remus suggested. There was silence for a few seconds as people pondered it.

“I can help,” Sirius said abruptly. Heads turned from around the table to face him. He’d been quiet so far in the meeting, listening intently by Remus’ side. 

“And how exactly can you help?” Marcus asked. 

“I’m an Animagus. I can shift into a dog. Padfoot is naturally a little shaggy and unkempt, but rolling around in some dirt or something would mean no one would suspect a feral dog prowling the woods.”

There were a few chuckles and barks of laughter then. Every werewolf in the room could smell Remus on Sirius. 

The two of them had agreed the night before to try and reopen Sirius’ old, faded bite. They hadn’t expected it to do anything new. It had been done as teenagers and their bond was there, but they wanted it to be new again, symbolic of them recognizing that they had chosen each other again.

But it had done something. 

Remus was overcome with the smell of Sirius again in the same way that he had been the first time. He could smell their bond. The smell of the shampoo they used on Padfoot’s fur, cigarette smoke and leather, as well as a hint of Remus' favourite chocolate from Honeydukes, fresh parchment and Remus' aftershave mixing to create something so unique to them.

Every mated pair had a unique scent that could be picked up upon by other wolves with their heightened sense of smell. Most scents were common, with many pairs often living in packs and the smell of pine needles or rain surrounding them. 

The other werewolves in the room could smell it too. It was fresh. Mates who rekindled their bites were similar to those who renewed their wedding vows and re-established their connection and meaning to each other.

“What’s funny?” Molly asked, genuinely confused. 

“Remus, would you explain?” Marcus encouraged. Remus went bright red under the gaze of so many people.

“Sirius, I know you mean well, but Padfoot probably won’t work under these circumstances.” Remus trod carefully, smiling softly. Sirius frowned. 

“Because Dumbledore would know if I left?” he asked quietly.

“No, not quite. There’s magic in this house that might be able to cover your tracks for long enough. But werewolves tend to have a heightened sense of smell and … well-” Remus didn’t exactly know how to broach it in front of other wizards.

With other werewolves, he wouldn’t feel so much scrutiny, but he liked to maintain his appearance as a civilized wizard who just so happened to occasionally be affected by the lunar cycle around other wizards. The idea that he had bitten Sirius willingly in any way would cause an eruption among Order members, who simply wouldn't understand the mechanics and the way that werewolf society was run.

“You smell like a werewolf. Or should I say, one werewolf in particular.” Amelia, another of the werewolf leaders, said. She was blonde and green-eyed, tall, muscled and highly respected as one of the youngest pack leaders in history, having acquired her place at the age of twenty. 

Sirius frowned at the comment. 

“But I had a shower this morning. And I'm not wearing any of Remus' clothes.” Was all he said, and there was another round of barely concealed smirks and laughter. 

“It’s not the kind of smell you can wash away,” Lydia said, chuckling lightly. “It’s not a bad thing, it just screams that you’ve been claimed by a werewolf, that your soul is linked with one. You’ve renewed his mating bite, haven’t you?” Lydia was looking at Remus now.

Remus nodded, feeling almost faint with how warm he was. "Yesterday evening. We did it the first time when we were seventeen, but it's - it's been so long and we've been separated by forces outside of our control since then, we thought it would be more symbolic than anything else. I didn't realise it would smell just as fresh, I didn't think it would be as overwhelming. Everything's seemed a little more intense today because of it." 

"You don't have to explain to us, Remus," Lydia said; as if sensing that Remus was anxious to settle his conscious, to justify his reasoning. "It's a completely normal thing that many pairs go through at some point." 

Remus gave her an appreciative smile and looked back to Sirius, trying to ignore the stares of the others surrounding them.

“That’s why you can’t use Padfoot. Smelling me will make them worse, make them aggressive; because they know who I am through Greyback, and you can’t fight off all of them. I don’t want you to be near that kind of wolf, because your scent will not comfort them as it does to Moony. I want you here. I want you safe.” Remus said. 

There were still some confused looks from the other wizards gathered around the tables, but all Remus could see was the look of realization on Sirius’ face when Remus spoke, understanding that it was about the bite. 

The meeting carried on regardless, no conclusions figured out immediately, with many werewolves left feeling unheard and underappreciated, their laws left out and customs ignored. It would take time to conclude.

  ~

It was a rare lazy day at Grimmauld Place, and Remus and Sirius were thoroughly enjoying being able to sleep in and lounge in their pyjamas all day. 

“God, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get dressed as soon as I woke up,” Remus said, stretching.
 
“Didn’t we do it once, a few weeks after Harry was born? James and Lily were so frazzled from taking care of a newborn and doing Order missions. So we all turned up in our pyjamas and just watched those Muggle films Lily loved so much.” Sirius said. 

Remus remembered. They’d been watching Disney movies and had ordered a takeaway. He smiled softly at the memory of being stuffed on food and holding Harry, rocking him to sleep, looking into his bright eyes and being so at peace. 

He’d been so jealous of Lily and James at the time, being married and having a child together. Remus and Sirius had thought about it before, getting married and adopting a child, but the war had broken out so quickly that they’d never had time. But Remus had still wanted it. He'd always wanted it with Sirius. 

“Do you remember when we wanted what James and Lily had? Our own little family?” Remus asked. Sirius looked at him. 

“Of course,” Sirius replied. “We can still have it. Maybe we can ask Harry if he’d like us to officially adopt him. He could legally come to us. And we can get married. Maybe adopt another child, give Harry a proper family, with proper guardians, a sibling, people who love him.”

Remus was beaming, unable to even stop the joy from shining through. He'd felt so lonely for so long, had given up all hope on the idea that he could have a family after Sirius had gone away to Azkaban. The idea that Sirius had held on to the dreams of their young adult as much as Remus has was not only a welcome relief; but validation that he hadn't realised that he'd needed. He could have that. He could have that with Sirius.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted with you,” Remus admitted. Sirius climbed off the bed, walked around to Remus’ side of the bed and pulled him to his feet, taking the Black family ring off his right ring finger. Remus burst into tears as soon as Sirius sunk to one knee. He didn't know why he was crying. He felt awfully dramatic, but the reaction still felt natural somehow.

“It’s customary for the eldest Black child in each generation to wear this ring on their right ring finger from the time they come of age until they become engaged, in which their partner wears it until they pass it on to their eldest child and the cycle continues,” Sirius said. “This is the only tradition I want to carry on. Marry me, Moony.” 

Remus nodded, not trusting his voice to work, and couldn’t stop smiling, even though the tears were streaming down his face. Sirius stood and slipped the ring onto Remus’ left ring finger, embracing Remus tightly.

Unspoken feelings passed between them, and once again, Sirius felt something warm seep into the house, a faint glimmer of light in the dark, and a flash of heat. With each day, with each moment Sirius and Remus spent together in this house, a new kind of magic seemed to seep into the foundations and balance out centuries worth of hatred and rot. 

    ~

“Remus, I have to go! He’s in danger!” Sirius exclaimed. 

“No! Sirius, you’re staying here!” Remus snapped, racing down the stairs to throw a jacket and some shoes on. 

“If I don’t pair up with you, I’ll pair up with someone else. I don’t care, I can’t just sit here while you and Harry are in danger, it’s not right! I’m his godfather, he’s my priority!”  Sirius yelled, following him down to the hallway, and then into the kitchen, where the Order members were gathering to Apparate in pairs. "Moony, I can't just stay here!"

"Why not?! Why is it so hard for you to accept the idea that you have to stay here to keep yourself safe?!" Remus yelled back. "Why do you have to insist on coming tonight?" 

"Because I promised!" 

"Promised what?! Promised who?!"

"I promised Jamie I'd keep him safe! I swore to him that Harry would always be my priority, that he would always come first, to protect him. That promise and that kid that is in danger at this very moment are all I have left of him." Sirius shouted. Members of the Order were watching them out of the corners of their eyes as they hurried around, not used to seeing them so angry with each other. 

The lights in the hallway began to flicker and Remus could hear the hum of the lights as they struggled to contain the power inside the house. Other Order members were rushing about, getting ready to Apparate to the Department of Mysteries. Remus finished putting his shoes and jacket and cupped Sirius’ face. 

“And you’re my priority, Sirius,” Remus said. “You’ve conveniently forgotten that I made the same promise, to Jamie and Lil. I’ll take care of Harry. I love him just as much as you do. But, dammit, Padfoot, I love you too and I will not lose you again! Not when I’ve lost you once already. Not when I've only just got you back.” 

He pressed his lips to Sirius’, not caring about the people flitting through different parts of the house and seeing them display such an open moment of affection, such an obvious show of what they meant to each other and the nature of their relationship. Sirius’ hands were on Remus’ waist, clutching him tightly.

“I can fight, Remus. When this war is in full swing, every wand is needed. I will have to fight. It’s all well and good me using magic to clean things up around here, but I'm no use if I can’t duel anymore. I need to be there tonight. I’m coming. And I’m pairing with you.” Sirius said when they parted. Remus made a frustrated noise and leant their foreheads together. 

“You’re fucking insufferable, you know that?” Remus said. “You chose now to start thinking ahead? Who are you and what have you done with my Padfoot?” Sirius laughed. 

“You wouldn’t love me so much if I wasn’t like this. Just promise you'll stay by my side.” 

Always.” Remus finally relented, pulling back. He surveyed the other wizards in the room. “Is everyone partnered up? Are we ready to go?” There were a series of nods and Remus grabbed Sirius’ hand. “You all know which student to protect. Sirius and I have got Harry. See you there.”

    ~

Remus and Sirius immediately landed behind Lucius Malfoy. Sirius grabbed Lucius by the shoulder and when he’d turned, Sirius was suddenly a different man altogether. More like the reckless teenager he’d been, confident and sarcastic. 

“Get away from my godson.” He spat, throwing a punch so hard Lucius was sent sprawling to the ground. Sirius and Remus climbed up the dais, where Harry was grinning at them.

They didn’t have time to greet him properly, with the sounds of crackling air from Apparations sounding throughout the room as Order members deposited themselves in the room, hurling spells at Death Eaters.

Three masked Death Eaters appeared in front of Remus, Sirius and Harry and then they were duelling, hurling streams of brightly coloured magic at each other. 

The rush of magic flowing through Remus’ veins was his favourite thing in the world, feeling his whole body come alive and his very being sing at the feeling, his magic flaring up in response to every flicker of light spouting from his Death Eater’s wand as they duelled.
 
“Expelliarmus!” Harry cried, making the Death Eater in front of him stumble backwards and his wand hurl itself across the room.
 
“Nice one, James!” Remus and Sirius said simultaneously.

The grin on Harry’s face was the brightest thing Remus had ever seen and knew that there was an immense sense of familial love between the three of them at this moment. Sirius had disarmed Lucius as he stepped up to join the fight, with Remus making quick work of the Death Eater in front of him. 

And then red light flashed, coming close … far too close. Remus pulled Harry out of its way, almost throwing him, barely missing the stream of light himself. Remus didn’t think, just sent something back in response, the nastiest curse he could think of without committing a crime, a thick yellow light bursting out from his wand. Remus could see who had cast the spell now.

Bellatrix Lestrange was standing twenty feet away, poised and waiting to see if her spell would hit. She had dodged Remus' spell, which had hit the wall behind her and fizzled out, and was cackling as she looked at them.

“Sirius?” Harry asked. Remus’s head snapped to Sirius, who was smiling – or was he grimacing? – and looking at his chest. 

No. 

Sirius began to tip back towards the veil that they had been fighting beside. And then Remus heard it for the first time. The voices whispering from inside the veil, the glowing white light rippling gently.

He could hear James and Lily, wanting to see him again, beckoning him, wanting to have their friends back, feeling lonely not being able to see them in the flesh. And then Remus saw Sirius through his haze, saw the light reaching for him, and remembered. 

I can’t lose you again, not when I’ve lost you once already. You're my priority, Sirius.

The words he’d uttered to Sirius before they’d left.

Remus dived for Sirius before he even realised what he was doing, Apparating as he reached Sirius and they tumbled to the ground a few feet from the bottom of the dais. Remus sat up, looked to Harry and saw him running after Bellatrix, who had disappeared. Sirius wasn’t moving from beside Remus. He was just loose-limbed on the ground. 

“Someone get Harry!” Remus screamed, picking Sirius up – he’s so light, how does he still weigh so little – and dodging streams of light as he focused on St Mungo’s and Apparated into a white waiting room. “Help! I need help! Please, someone, help me!” Remus was shouting now. Sirius was so limp, so lifeless, in his arms. 

People were staring at him, and healers came running. Remus was directed onto a ward and he placed Sirius onto an empty bed.
 
“What’s his name?” One healer asked. 

“Sirius Black,” Remus said. The three healers that had come rushing to Remus in the waiting room stilled, looking up at him. “Please. He’s innocent. You can ask Albus Dumbledore to vouch for him. Please, I’m begging you, if he was guilty, I wouldn’t have risked bringing him here.” 

The healers looked at each other and two of them carried on. The third was still looking at Remus. 

“What’s your name and your relationship to him?” She asked.

“My name is Remus Lupin. I’m his fiancé.” Remus told her. He noted the slight frown that was marring the healers' faces, there was clear confusion and an urge to not say anything.

“I’m sorry, if you aren’t married yet, you can’t stay. It’s for family only. Who’s his next of kin?” 

“Does his godson count? Harry Potter is his godson. His cousins Andromeda and Nymphadora Tonks are his closest blood relatives.” Remus said. The healer nodded. 

“Okay, thank you Mr Lupin. If you’d like to wait outside, I’ll send those messages along now.” She said. 

“Please, are you sure I can’t stay? I don’t know what spell he was hit with, but I can tell you everything that happened. It might help to heal him. I’m begging you, please, let me stay. If he wakes up and I’m not here, he’ll panic.” Remus pleaded. 

“Mr Lupin, I’m sorry but until he’s awake and has regained some strength, it's family only.” The healer was getting frustrated now, ushering him off the ward as politely as she could without losing her patience. 

Remus cursed a few times under his breath, sending an apologetic glance to the woman sat a bit further down the hall, who was judging him. He decided to just sit down and wait. Someone from the Order would be here soon.

Everything would be okay.

~

Remus was pacing again.
 
He was alternating between pacing and sitting, biting at his nails and shaking his hands out to release some of the tension in his body. He had been sat in the waiting room for the last four hours. It had felt like an eternity and no one would answer any of his damn questions.

“Remus!” Remus whipped around to see Tonks, Harry and a woman Remus didn’t recognize but looked oddly familiar, with soft, sleek brown hair and kind eyes. Her cheekbones were angular and her jawbone defined.

It hit him then that she looked like Bellatrix. She had a hint of Sirius in her as well. Those cheekbones were sharper than glass, the same as Sirius', and the way she walked screamed out that she'd been raised by an old aristocratic family. Her head was held high, back straight and posture stiff.

That meant that she was likely a Black. And her resemblance to Bellatrix and appearance alongside Tonks meant that this was her mother Andromeda, Sirius’ cousin, who had defied the family and married a Muggle-born. He had heard of her, of course, but he had never seen her in the flesh. Sirius hadn't seen her since he was a teenager. 

The three of them reached Remus and Remus hugged Harry and Tonks briefly before shaking hands with Andromeda. 

“They said Sirius was here,” Tonks said breathlessly. "Is he okay? I saw you get him out of the Department of Mysteries, everyone's wondering what happened."

“They won’t let me in. I’m not a blood relative, they won’t even tell me if he’s alive. They practically shoved me out of the ward. They almost wouldn’t treat him because everyone thinks he’s still a criminal.” Remus said. 

And then Andromeda’s hand was gripping his, examining the Black ring that Remus didn’t even realize he’d been twisting anxiously. 

“Where did you get this? Did you steal it from Grimmauld Place?” Andromeda asked. “That’s the family ring. My Aunt Walburga and Uncle Orion left it for Regulus after Sirius was blasted off the tapestry, but he could never bring himself to wear it when he knew it was supposed to be Sirius’. Where did you get it?” Andromeda was furious now, practically shaking with rage, clutching Remus' hand in a deathlike grip.

“Sirius gave it to me!” Remus exclaimed. “He’s been wearing it ever since we started clearing the house out last summer. He gave it to me three days ago when he …” Remus could barely bring himself to say the words.

He and Sirius were supposed to be getting married and now Sirius was lying on a hospital bed and Remus didn’t even know if he was alive. 

“When he what?” 

“Sirius asked me to marry him three days ago. I said yes,” Remus admitted. 

Andromeda dropped his hand then and her mouth fell open. 

“You and Sirius … you’re getting married?” Andromeda whispered. Remus nodded. 

“As soon as he gets his pardon. He wants to make sure that everything is legal and in writing if something happens to either of us, that we’re granted spousal rights. He was going to use his pardon to make sure the Black fortune doesn’t go to Bellatrix as the next eldest heir. He wants to use the money for something good.”

A healer rounded the corner, noticed them and walked over. She was the same one who had refused to let Remus stay just a few hours before.

“Are you the family?” She asked. Andromeda, Tonks and Harry nodded and she led her way to the ward where Sirius was staying. Harry looked over his shoulder at Remus, frowning. Remus just gave him a fake smile, knowing that not even Harry could say anything to make the healers change their mind. 

“Remus, there you are!” Remus turned and saw Albus walking down the hallway towards him. 

“Albus, you need to get Sirius a pardon. You need to do it now!” Remus said. 

“Remus-” 

“No, Albus!” Remus interrupted sharply. “He’s been out of Azkaban for two years, he’s done everything you’ve asked of him. He gave the Order Grimmauld Place without being asked because he wanted to help. He will never heal from that place and you let everyone think he was guilty! It's your fault that we still haven't been able to move on from that night."

He was so angry and so upset that he didn’t even know how to stop himself from spitting out every word at Albus. 

"You let me go through one hundred and forty-four full moons on my own when you knew I needed my friends, knowing that they helped to calm me and heal me. You let me stew in my grief and believe Sirius was guilty. You let him spend twelve years rotting in a cell, having the happiness, the joy and all the things that made him Sirius sucked out of him, and then made him isolate inside the house of the family that abused him for a large chunk of his life. You will get him his pardon tonight! He has suffered for too long with the demons trapped in that fucking house. I am fighting a losing battle against the things that haunt him. I will lose him again without a pardon. He will snap and do something rash to make the pain stop one day, and that blood will be on your hands.”

Remus was sobbing, tears streaming down his face and whole body shaking, from a mix of anger and concealed longing for his oldest surviving friend. He'd held onto his grudge and hatred for Albus' decision for so long that he simply couldn't stop it from overspilling now. Remus knew that he would feel the guilt of losing his composure later, but now ... now ... he didn't have any cares, any qualms about any repercussions.

Sirius' life was more important. Remus' life was important, and it had been worse all the years Sirius had been stuck in Azkaban, partly due to Albus' willingness to let everyone else around him be ruined, just as long as he got the outcome he wanted.

“I came to tell you that Cornelius Fudge now knows that You-Know-Who is back, and I also recommended that he relook into Sirius’ case and use his old wand to determine the truth, as there was an improper practice in the original investigation. Fudge did as I requested and has given Sirius a full pardon. Sirius is now able to claim everything that is rightfully his and live as a free man.” Albus said. 

Remus burst into a fresh wave of tears as he took the piece of parchment Albus offered him, reading the signed, official document. He stuttered out multiple thank you’s, wiping at his eyes.

“I know you are not my biggest fan, and I know you didn’t have the easiest time while Sirius was away. I understand that I should’ve worked for his release, but I thought that your grief was too strong to be able to withstand it all. I thought it would make everything worse, and the longer I went without campaigning for it, the more I knew it would prolong your pain. I’m sorry, Remus.” Albus said softly. “How is he? I heard Bellatrix managed to get past his defences and that you stopped him from falling into the veil. It’s very impressive that you managed to keep your thoughts organized enough to keep him alive.”

“I-I don’t know how he is. They won’t let me see him.” Remus told him.  “He’s only allowed family in there.” 

“Which ward is he on?” Remus pointed at the ward he’d left Sirius in just a few hours before. “Come with me.” Albus walked onto the ward and immediately wandered over to where Andromeda, Tonks and Harry were standing. When they were nearing Sirius’ bed, the healers that were working on Sirius stepped out from the partition. 

“I was wondering if I could ask a favour. Sirius Black has been pardoned by the Minister and it would be greatly appreciated if Remus here was allowed on the ward. He and Sirius are engaged and now that he’s been pardoned, Remus will soon be granted spousal rights. But right now, as you can imagine, he’s incredibly distressed about Sirius’ health. It’s only this once, Agatha.” Albus requested. 

Agatha sighed and nodded. “For you, Albus, I’ll allow it.” She looked at Remus. “He’s alive. He’s just woken up. It was a mix between a Stunner and the Knockback Jinx. It sent him into a temporary coma, he's got a concussion, but he should be okay. If you'd left it any longer, the results could've been a lot worse. Mixing spells like that is incredibly damaging to one's health.” 

Remus breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her, moving towards the partition. Harry, Andromeda and Tonks were gathered around Sirius’ bed and were helping Sirius to slowly sit up. Sirius noticed him first and smiled as brightly as he could in his weakened state. 

“Remus.” He managed to croak, holding a hand out. Harry stepped back and Remus went to Sirius’ bedside, taking his hand and kissing it, holding it tightly and leaning down to press a kiss to Sirius’ forehead. “I heard him, I heard Jamie.” 

“I know. So did I.” Remus said. There were seats placed around Sirius’ bed and he took one. Andromeda and Tonks were sat opposite Remus, Harry beside him. “And Lily, too. As if she was stood beside me, convincing me to just let myself fall.” 

“Why didn’t you?” Sirius asked. 

“I remembered what I’d said to you before we left Grimmauld Place. I was scared that I’d lose you permanently this time. It’s selfish of me, but I don’t ever want to let you go.” Remus admitted. Sirius gave him another weak smile. “I have good news.” 

“Oh yeah? Is it that you’re mad at me for demanding to go and getting injured, but you’ll still marry me someday?” Remus chuckled.

“Sort of.” He said. “Turns out, that ‘someday’ could be a lot closer than we thought.” Sirius frowned.

“What do you mean?” Sirius asked. Remus held up the piece of parchment from Albus, tears threatening to spill once again. “Rem, what is it?”

“It’s your pardon.” Remus barely managed to get the words out. The idea that Sirius was now free was something that they’d both been waiting for anxiously for two years. And now that it was finally finalized, it was almost too good to be true. 

“I-It’s done? I’m free?” 

“Albus requested another investigation while we’ve been here. Fudge checked your old wand. It shows you never killed Pete, you threw a Stunner at him, not a Killing Curse. As soon as you’re able to walk, you’re allowed to go get your old wand back. And you can access the Black’s vault at Gringotts. It’s over, Sirius. You’re legally innocent.”

~

Sirius’ four visitors were ushered out half an hour later. Sirius would likely be discharged within two days, but they were allowed to come and visit in between then.

Andromeda had teased Sirius mercilessly about his and Remus’ relationship, and yet Remus could see the love between them. Sirius had always referred to Andromeda as his favourite cousin, and it shone through clearly. He could see the regret they both had in not being there for one another more often.

 Tonks didn’t know Sirius all that well, but over the last few months, her and Sirius seemed to have been getting along well. They both had a very similar sense of humour, with matching wit and charm. 

When Sirius was discharged from St Mungo’s, he was still a little pale and shaky, but largely able to function properly. 

“Let’s not Apparate,” Sirius said. Remus frowned. “Can we take Muggle transport? I want to be able to walk out in the open. I want to see what Muggle London is like.” 

Remus and Sirius left the hospital and Remus led Sirius to the nearest Tube station a few streets away. “It’s rush hour. Stay close to me, I don’t want you getting lost.” Remus said, walking down the set of stone steps that led to the station. 

Sirius grabbed Remus’ hand and Remus jumped slightly. He was looking around subtly, worried that Muggles gave them problems. Remus hurried through the station, barely even glancing at the signs, immediately knowing which station was the closest to Grimmauld Place and which changes they would have to make along the lines. 

He kept checking over his shoulder at Sirius, who was a step or so behind him, holding his hand tightly. When they reached their platform, a train was just pulling in and they forced themselves into the carriage. 

“It’s crowded in here, Moony. It’s nothing like getting a proper train, with compartments and nice seating. Maybe we should’ve gotten the next one.” Sirius said. Remus hushed him with a low chuckle and he frowned. 

“It’s Tube etiquette, Padfoot. Nobody talks. At least, the locals don’t, not unless they have to. And it’s rush hour, everyone’s finished work. About six million people live in London, all finishing work at the same time. It’ll be manic for another hour and a half yet. You’ve been a Londoner your entire life and you’ve never used the Underground? I can understand why not when you were a child, with your family, but you lived with the Potters during sixth and seventh year, and with me for a few years after that. Did I never bring you on the Tube?” Remus asked quietly. 

Sirius shook his head, but he was looking around the train in wonder, with a smile on his face. They’d had to stand, of course. Such was usually the way during rush hour. The compartments were so crowded and people snatched seats quicker than people could blink. Remus was holding onto one of the vertical bars, facing Sirius, their hands no longer joined, as Sirius leaned against the plastic divider between the entryway and the seating.

“I like it though. It’s a bit warm, but it’s-” and then the train jolted on the tracks and Sirius was stumbling, losing his balance. If it wasn’t for Remus grabbing him around the waist and pulling him close, Sirius’ would have toppled into some very angry Londoners. Sirius had his hands fisted in the back of Remus’ jumper and they were both giggling softly. 

“What were you saying about liking it down here?” Remus said with a smile. Sirius leaned his head on Remus’ shoulder, erupting into a fresh wave of barely concealed laughter. 

They readjusted so that Remus’ arm was around Sirius’ shoulders and Sirius was tucked into Remus’ body, head beneath Remus' chin and nestled into his jumper, with an arm around his waist There were a few curious glances, but Remus did his best to ignore them.

Muggles and wizards were very slowly crawling their way towards understanding same-sex relationships, but Muggles seemingly found it much harder to accept them. 

Remus’ father had found it hard, had been torn between supporting the son he loved with all his heart, who he knew would already face persecution for being a werewolf, and wanting Remus to be anything other than what he was.
 
They’d never been quite the same after Remus had left home and moved in with Sirius. They exchanged brief letters, but there was nothing binding them together anymore, there hadn’t been since before Remus’ mother had become ill.

Remus knew his parents were still alive, still living in the old house in Wales, but he hadn’t seen them in the flesh since he’d been working at Hogwarts. 

“Come on, this is our stop,” Remus said softly. They disentangled from each other as the train slowed to a stop, Sirius still grabbing hold of Remus’ arm to stop himself from falling over. 

    ~

Remus was tired after being on the Tube for almost an hour, weaving his way through London. There had been delays on the lines so they’d had to reroute their journey slightly, and they were greeted by Molly as they walked through the front door. 

“We’ve been worried sick! Why didn’t you two Apparate here?” she asked. “Come on, dinner’s on the table.

“Sorry, Molly, we’ll be right through,” Remus said, taking his robes off, hanging them up. He and Sirius walked through to the kitchen and sat down. 

“There they are! What took you so long?” Arthur said brightly. There were very few people at the table. Both of Tonks’ parents were sat at the table, as was Tonks, Kingsley, Molly and Arthur, and Moody.

“Sirius has never seen the Underground, so we came back via the Tube. Rush hour traffic is a nightmare. There weren’t enough spaces on some of the trains, so we had to wait for less crowded ones. Then there were delays on the lines at Edgware Road and Euston because people were messing about on the tracks and someone got hit. I don’t know what gets into some people, that kind of thing is dangerous enough on Overground trains, let alone in the tunnels.” Remus said, tucking into the dinner that had made its way to his and Sirius’ end of the table.

Arthur made a concerned noise at the news, fascinated by the Tube, but disheartened at the idea that someone had gotten hurt.

“Oh well. At least we can still celebrate tonight, now that we’re all together.” Arthur said. 

“Well, not a proper celebration. We were going to wait until the children come back during the summer, but we didn’t want to just gloss over it, so we thought we’d have a mini celebration tonight and a proper one when the weather is a bit nicer. We can get a Portkey arranged and go somewhere nice for a few days.” Molly added. 

“Celebrate what?” Sirius asked. He was wolfing down his dinner, clearly glad to be away from hospital food. 

“There are two things,” Molly said. “Of course, there’s Sirius’ pardon to be happy about, and I’m not surprised you took a little longer to come home tonight. We’re very glad that you can relax now and start getting back out into the world.” Sirius looked up then and he looked at Molly with a soft, appreciative look in his eyes.

“And the other cause for celebration is, of course, the news that there’s a certain wedding to look forward to soon?” Arthur was smiling down the table at them, posing it as a question, but alluding to him knowing it was true. Remus could feel himself going red and he looked at Sirius, who had turned his gaze to Remus, a matching blush on his face. 

They burst into nervous laughter and Remus put his cutlery down, self-consciously dragging his fingers through his hair. 

“Yes, there’s a wedding to look forward to,” Sirius said, unable to stop the smile spreading across his face. “We wanted to wait until I was officially pardoned so it could be legal, so that we could adopt Harry as well, put our names down as his guardians, as his parents.” Remus could see the tears blooming in Molly’s eyes from the other end of the table and knew that she understood how much that would mean to Harry. “Now it's possible. We should do it this year.” 

“This year?! Sirius, you know how long it takes to organise all the different aspects, right?” Remus spluttered. 

“I don’t care, we could get married in a field surrounded by Hippogriff crap, we could do it right now over dinner and I wouldn’t care. I’ve wanted to marry you since I was sixteen years old. I’ve waited twenty years to get to this point and I can’t wait another year to experience it. It doesn’t have to be crazy, it just matters that it’s ours, right?” Sirius confessed. Remus rolled his eyes but smiled, taking Sirius’ hand. 

“So very romantic. Maybe we should get the twins to set off stink bombs if you care so little.” He joked dryly. Sirius laughed.
 
“James would do it if he were here to see it. I think it’s a great idea!” Sirius said. 

“You should have it during the autumn. Everyone always gets married in summer because it’s warm. At least in the autumn, it’ll be a little warm, but not stifling.” Andromeda suggested. “We had our wedding in the autumn.”

She looked at her husband and they shared a smile. Remus could see why Sirius wanted to move things along quickly. He wanted to be able to have what his cousin had. That domesticity, the simplicity and the clear joys of married life.

“We should do it on Halloween,” Sirius said. 

“Everyone will think it’s a prank!” Molly exclaimed.

“It’s the anniversary of James and Lily’s death. It’s not a happy day for us anymore, not when we have so many memories.” Sirius said quietly. 

“It hasn’t felt the same since they died. If we get married on Halloween, it can be our anniversary instead of their death day.” Remus was just as quiet as he realized what Sirius was thinking. 

“Do you think it’s a good idea?” Sirius asked. “You don’t think they’d be upset if they could hear us now?” 

Remus shook his head and smiled. 

“Halloween and April Fool’s Day seems like the only two appropriate days, the only days that would have significance. It includes them, even though they can’t be there with us. I think they'd like it.” Remus said. 

“Halloween it is.” Molly sighed. She was smiling though, a hint of exasperation, but true happiness for them lighting up her features. “You two are going to have a very busy few months.”

Remus and Sirius grinned at each other, still so shocked and overcome with the idea that this was happening. 

They were getting married.

Chapter Text

Harry was bored. And lonely. He hated the summer holidays because it meant that he was away from his friends. They were all at Grimmauld Place, enjoying the wonders of their world, and Harry was stuck with the Dursleys, who couldn't be bothered with him, who hated him.

 

He sighed and flopped onto his bed, staring at the ceiling. He wished he could’ve seen Sirius again before he left Hogwarts.

All he’d had in the aftermath of a few hospital visits were letters from Remus and Sirius, as well as some from Ron and Hermione. Right now, they would be at Grimmauld Place and enjoying their summer with everyone together, but Harry was stuck with a family that hated him and would do anything to suppress his existence.

There was an angry yell from downstairs and then Vernon was shouting his name.

Harry jumped out of bed and raced downstairs. Hedwig was perched on the kitchen counter, having flown in through the patio doors. Petunia and Dudley were gaping at her, so unused to her presence outside of Harry's room that they didn't quite know what to do.

“Keep that ruddy thing away from the doors! Why didn’t it go straight to your room like it usually does?” Vernon shouted.

Harry approached Hedwig and gently stroked her feathers. “My windows are closed so they didn't let bugs in. I wasn’t expecting her back so early. Sorry, Uncle Vernon.” Harry said. He untied the parchment from Hedwig’s leg, smiling at Ron’s familiar handwriting, and patted his shoulder. “Come on, Hedwig.”

Hedwig hopped onto his shoulder. He gave her another light stroke and she nipped at his finger affectionately, not drawing blood. Usually, she would perch on his arm, but it was too hot to wear anything that protected Harry’s skin from her claws.

He hurried back upstairs, unrolling the letter from Ron as he set Hedwig down and gently feeding her some treats.

Hey Harry,

Summer is dragging. Usually, I like it, but everything’s felt weird since the Department of Mysteries. Hermione is getting on my nerves, she’s so worried that we’re in trouble with the Ministry. Percy is still being a prat and won’t speak to us. He’s still not quite used to the idea that we were telling the truth, that we were right all along. He’s always hated being wrong. The twins are the only ones keeping the house sane.

Sirius and Lupin have offered to start up a duelling club over the summer for all of us teenagers.

Sirius insists that it’s just for fun, that it’s the kind of thing he had at Hogwarts as a kid and it helped him to blow off some steam, but I think he wants to make sure we’re prepared in case something happens and the extra wands are needed.

I’ll probably see you in a few weeks, right? It’ll be better to speak with you in person than writing, but I guess this will do for now. Can't wait to see you, mate, it doesn't feel the same without you here. Hope everything's okay with your aunt and uncle.

Ron

Harry put the letter down and smiled. He would send a reply tomorrow. Hedwig had done enough flying, for now, so he encouraged her into her cage and locked it. He’d write a letter to Sirius and Remus as well, check on how they were doing.

He still wanted to join the Order, still wanted to be involved in it all.

The Battle of the Department of Mysteries had caused quite the scandal and had given rise to a lot of fear.

Harry was still shaken up from it all, even though it had all happened well over a month ago. He could still feel the electricity in the air as people Apparated around the room, trying to catch each other unaware and undefended, fighting for their lives.

He could still hear the sound of Remus screaming for someone to go after Harry, remembered the fear in Remus’ voice and knowing that Sirius had been lifeless on the ground at the time and Remus had been so terrified of losing them both, had been torn between Sirius and Harry.

But they were okay now, Sirius was up and moving, was back to his usual self, and Harry had gone after Bellatrix, but he hadn’t hurt her, hadn’t given in, even though she deserved it. Dealing with Bellatrix was Sirius’ fight.

Harry sighed and sat at his desk. He hadn’t touched any of his books or any of his homework, and he knew he should start. Hermione always advised doing the stuff he hated first so that he could focus on the lessons he liked.

So he started with Potions, flicking through a textbook until he found the page on the healing properties of Mandrakes.

~

Harry’s eyes were aching. He’d been working on his Potions homework for the last hour and a half and had barely done four paragraphs. His door burst open and Harry jumped.

“Mum and Dad want you,” Dudley said. He peered at Harry’s parchment and textbook.“What are you doing?”

“Potions homework. I'm crap at it at school, so I'm trying to get it finished first so I can breeze through everything else,” Harry said. Dudley pulled a face.

“Why are you doing homework? You don’t go back to school for ages yet.”

Harry shrugged. “I’ve got nothing else to do. Why do your parents want me?” Harry asked.

"There's some guy here to see you. He says he knows you." 

In his heart, Harry wanted it to be someone from the Order, wanted them to whisk him away to Grimmauld Place like they had last summer.

But he didn’t get his hopes up. It could just as easily be a Death Eater who had found out where his aunt uncle lived, had traced him back here. Harry grabbed his wand and felt his magic rise in response, ready to flow through his veins.

“What does he look like?” Harry asked.

“He’s wearing a cardigan and carrying a cane, brown hair, these weird scars on his face.” Dudley gestured to where the scars were, going diagonally across his face, over his eye, nose, cheeks and upper lip.

Harry’s heart jumped in happiness and he broke out in a grin. “Remus is here?”

He slipped his wand into his pocket, pushed his chair back and brushed past Dudley, running downstairs, jumping the last two steps and sprinting into the living room, where a familiar figure was sat on the sofa, nursing a cup of tea in his hands.

“Remus!” Remus looked at him and smiled then, barely having time to stand and hold his tea out to prevent it spilling on them as Harry flung himself at Remus. Remus’ spare arm came around him and he laughed.

“Hello, Harry!” Remus greeted brightly. “How are you?”

“Better now that you’re here!” Harry exclaimed. They pulled away, still smiling. “How are you? How's Sirius? Why have you got your cane, is your leg bad again? Did something happen? How are the Weasleys and Hermione? Ron says that Percy is still being a prat and that Hermione is getting paranoid, but I’ve barely spoken to him, and it’s been two weeks since yours and Sirius’ last letter-”

“Harry, slow down!” Remus laughed. “Everyone’s fine! Things are just hectic at the house. There are lots of meetings and nothing is getting sorted as quickly as we would like. I got on the wrong end of one of Sirius’ Stunners after doing some duelling practice in the attic yesterday. I couldn't dodge it fast enough and got blasted back. I landed funny and it buckled. But I’m here tonight for a reason.”

He looked to Vernon and Petunia briefly and then back to Harry. “Would you like to come back to Grimmauld Place tonight?”

“Yes! I’ll go pack my stuff. Do you have a broomstick or are we Apparating? Should I bring everything? Can I stay for the whole summer?” Harry asked, already making towards the stairs.

“Wait, Harry!” Remus said. Harry stopped and faced Remus again. “When I ask if you want to come with me tonight, I don’t just mean for the summer. I mean would you stay at Grimmauld Place properly from now on?”

“You mean like … move in there?” Harry asked. Remus nodded. “I would like that.”

“Are you sure? It would be unlikely that you’d be able to return here until everything blows over … and we don’t know how long that might be. Last time …”

Remus faltered and glanced at Petunia. He swallowed and continued, mentally moving past whatever he knew was coming next.

“Last time, we were fighting You-Know-Who from the moment your parents, Peter and I left school right up until the night he killed James and Lily. Three years is a long time, Harry. If you left tonight to come to Grimmauld Place, it would be a commitment to keep your aunt, uncle and cousin safe by staying away for the foreseeable future. Are you okay with that?”

Harry nodded without hesitation. “Go and pack your stuff then, boy,” Vernon said.

Remus pulled his wand out and, with a small twirl, he made all of Harry’s things float downstairs, whip around the room and land neatly in his trunk. Hedwig’s cage landed softly by Harry’s feet and she shrieked. Remus looked to the owl and apologized to her with a soft smile.

Vernon was grumbling, but Petunia held tightly to his arm to keep him from causing too much of a fuss as Remus and Harry ignored him. Harry grinned as he pulled on a jacket. “You’ve got to teach me how to do that. My summoning spells are really basic.” Remus was looking at him in amusement.

“I’m sure that if you’re anything like James, your packing skills are abysmal. I remember how chaotically he used to pack his trunk at the end of each school year, even with summoning spells.”

Harry laughed then, feeling the warm glow of affection and longing in his chest that he always felt whenever people talked about his parents to him.

“How are we getting there?” Harry asked.

“Apparating. We don’t have the time to fly tonight, I’m afraid. Thank you very much for the tea.” Remus said, setting his mug down and smiling at the Durselys.

Harry grabbed ahold of his broomstick and Hedwig’s cage as Remus grabbed his cane and pulled Harry’s trunk into a vertical position, holding onto the strap.

He was just about to put his hand on Harry’s shoulder when Petunia stopped them.

“Harry, wait,” She started. “I know what they’re capable of. You didn’t just lose a mother that night in Godric’s Hollow, you know.” She said. Her eyes seemed to go misty with tears. “I lost my baby sister. I never got a chance to make up with her, never got to tell her that I loved her again. I was an awful sister to her. But you remind me so much of her.”

Harry could see the pain of losing Lily etched across Petunia’s face and it all clicked.

All these years, if Petunia could see Lily in him, could see the magic things that happened around him as it had likely done to Lily as a child, and now one of her friends was in Petunia’s house, it made sense that she would be standoffish with him.

She had treated Harry terribly, and let Vernon and Dudley treat him even worse, and yet Harry still felt sorry for her. He wouldn’t miss his aunt, but maybe one day, they could make things right, when Harry no longer lived with her and he was older.

But he couldn't forgive her now, not yet. 

“She didn’t see it that way,” Harry said. “From what I know of her, she didn’t seem like the type of person to hold a grudge.”

“Harry’s right, Petunia,” Remus added. “Lily loved you until the very end.” Petunia sniffed and wiped at her eyes and took Remus’ mug into the kitchen.

“I don’t think you’re a waste of space, Harry. Just so you know.” Dudley said quietly from behind them. Harry waited a few seconds in silence, seeing if he would say anything else. When he didn’t, Harry’s lips turned up at the corners in an appreciative smile.

“Thanks, Dudley. I’ll see you around, I guess.” Harry replied. Harry felt Remus’ hand on his shoulder and the violent tug as the two of them Apparated into the hallway of Grimmauld Place.

~

“Merlin’s beard!” Molly shrieked. “You almost scared the life out of me!”

“Sorry, Molly,” Harry said. He hugged Molly and she sent Harry’s stuff upstairs with a waved hand.

“Now that you’re finally here, we can celebrate! Hermione’s been here since last night and we’ve been waiting for you so we could do this together.” Molly said.

“Wait, what’s happening?” Harry asked. Molly just beckoned them through to the kitchen.

The kitchen table was no longer in there and there was music coming through on a Muggle radio.

There were little snacks on plates on the counters and a few bottles of Firewhiskey and pints of Butterbeer were being passed around. There were cheers when Harry walked in and he beamed as he hugged Ron, Hermione and Sirius.

Ron handed him some Butterbeer and Harry took a sip. “So what’s the celebration for? What have I missed?” he asked the assembled group.

Remus came to stand beside Sirius at the opposite side of the room and they both immediately seemed to get nervous.

“Well, we wanted to announce it properly. A handful of people know, but we’ve kept it on the down-low for the last six weeks.” Remus started.

He looked at the gathered wizards and witches, the permanent Order members, the people that he held near to his heart, who were now watching him and Sirius intently. “Sirius and I are getting married on the thirty-first of October this year, and we would like this to be an official invitation to all those who wish to come.”

His cheeks were red, eyes bright and Harry could see the excitement there, could see the joy in his eyes. Sirius slipped his hand into Remus’ and the blush darkened. 

There were a series of coos and cheers and clapping and congratulations as Remus made the announcement.

“One moment! There’s something else!” Sirius called over the voices reverberating around the room. Sirius steeled himself and he crossed the room to where Harry was standing. “I – we, meaning Remus and me – wanted to ask you in person.”

“Ask me what?” Remus approached with a thin stack of papers in his hands.

“Since my name has been cleared, and Remus and I are getting married, we wanted to make the offer again. The choice is still yours, there’s no pressure at all, these are the papers that would transfer legal guardianship from your aunt and uncle to us.” Sirius said.

Remus handed them to Harry, who put down his Butterbeer on a counter nearby as he scanned over the first page in shock.

“Remus got the signatures from your aunt and uncle when he went to pick you up tonight. Ours is on there, too. All it needs is yours.”

“Like … adoption?” Harry asked softly.

“Sort of. They’re custodial papers.” Remus said. “We know we can’t replace James and Lily, and you wouldn’t have to refer to us as your parents if that makes you uncomfortable or you didn't want to, but we would like to be there like we should’ve been from the start.”

Harry’s face was wet with tears and he’d taken his glasses off, wiping his face with his jacket sleeve.

Sirius pulled him into a hug. Harry sniffled for a few seconds, holding onto his godfather tightly. Of course, they would know his answer, he had wanted, begged, to be with Sirius full time.

And Remus was just as important, he was the logical one, who Harry knew he could always come to for revision, for advice on more serious topics that required background knowledge and research. He and Sirius were the perfect balance for each other.

Harry knew that the two of them were scarily similar to his parents, with Sirius being like James and Remus being like Lily and knew that he wouldn't want any other adult, save his actual parents, to be his parental figures. 

He cared about them both dearly, wanted nothing more than to have the family he'd been missing out on.

“Can I have some ink and a quill?” Harry sobbed, drawing back from Sirius, who summoned both and handed them to Harry.

Harry took them over to a counter and scribbled his signature onto the dotted line on the last page. He took it back over to Remus and Sirius and Remus made it vanish with a tap of his wand.

“I’ll send it to the Ministry first thing tomorrow morning. We should hear if it’s approved by next week.” Remus said. He put a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”

Harry nodded and picked up his Butterbeer again. “They’d be stupid to not approve it.” He said, raising his drink in a toast. “To Remus and Sirius, the best guardians I’ll ever have.” There was an echo around the room as the gathered people looked on proudly.

~

“Remus, you can’t wear a cheap suit that you’ve owned for the last twenty years to our wedding!” Sirius exclaimed.

They were sat curled up on the sofa, Sirius leant on Remus’ chest with Remus’ arm around his shoulders.

Sirius often fell asleep like this, curled against Remus’ side, content, with a stomach full of food and a heart full of love. 

Remus, as usual, had his head stuck in a book. He was well accustomed to doing things one-handed. Sirius liked to lounge on him, he always had, and so Remus had learnt to adapt.

This one was one of his favourites, one of the older editions of ‘A History of Magic’ from his school days. Learning about the early days of magic and how it had evolved always fascinated him beyond belief.

“I haven’t owned this suit for twenty years!” Remus protested, absentmindedly dragging his fingers through Sirius’ hair. 

“Oh really? So if you opened that blazer right now, there wouldn’t be stitches from where you patched it up for your grandmother’s funeral? Your grandmother, who died when we were sixteen.” Sirius asked. Remus flushed. 

“Okay, maybe it’s an old blazer.” Remus conceded. “But it’s only old because I haven’t grown since the summer before sixth year and I’m good at sewing. I’ve never needed to get a new one. Everything else is newer … relatively. They were bought within the last five years!”

Sirius was in a state of disbelief. “You aren’t wearing it at the wedding.”

“Well, I don’t have any other formalwear. So unless you want me to show up with no clothes on-” 

“I think you know I would like that very much.” Sirius interrupted and Remus gently tapped his head as a warning. There were a few sniggers from those gathered around in the living room, reading and talking amongst themselves.

“You know I can’t afford anything new. There are more cobwebs than coins in my Gringott’s vault.” 

“We’ve been over this, Remus, you don’t have to worry about money anymore. Your fiance just so happens to be the heir of one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight families. Besides, I’ve already booked an appointment with Madame Malkin.” Sirius told him. He sat up and looked Remus in the eyes. “Please, Remus, don't be like this. I thought we left the arguments about financial worries behind a long time ago.” Remus sighed. 

“You’re impossible, you know that?” he said, but there was a hint of a smile playing around his lips. Sirius shrugged and settled down again.

“You love it." He said. "Have you spoken to your parents yet?” Sirius asked. There was silence and Sirius knew that Remus was trying to pretend he was reading. “Remus, I’m not a child and neither are you, so stop acting like one. I know when you’re avoiding the question.”

“You know the answer, so why ask?” Remus replied. 

“You should go and see them. I can’t believe we were only twenty miles from them before I gave this place to the Order and you never even told them.”

“Do you honestly think if I just appear at my parents’ house after two years of no contact and tell them, not only am I fighting for the Order again, but I’m getting married to a man, they’ll just accept it?” Remus asked. 

“Don't be so dramatic! It was never you being gay they cared about; it was the fact that you wanted to be with me and your father hates my family.” Sirius said. 

“I’d rather not fight with them. It breaks Mum's heart every time Dad and I fight.”

“It’s him that has a problem,” Sirius mumbled.

Sirius-”

“Okay! Fine! I’ll drop it for now, but it’s the one thing I’m asking you to take care of. Just talk to them. If they don’t want to be there, they don’t have to come, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.” Sirius compromised. Remus sighed. 

“Alright, I’ll talk to them.” He said. 

    ~

A week later, the Order was in Wales. They’d decided to go camping for a long weekend away and Remus knew some nice areas that would be secluded enough that they’d be able to use magic without the worry of Muggles seeing, but they’d also be ten miles from the nearest town if they needed anything. 

“Whereabouts in Wales did you grow up, Remus?” Hermione asked as everyone was helping to put the tents up. 

“Only about a fifteen-minute drive away. My parents still live in our old home. From the top of the hill behind us, you’d be just about able to see the house. This area was a camping spot we used to like when I was a child. We could never go too far on the occasions where we did go camping, not when my magic was manifesting and other spots are frequented by Muggles, but here was perfect.” Remus told her, manoeuvring the poles to his and Sirius’ tent. He pointed in the vague direction of his childhood home.

He’d be sharing a tent with Sirius, Harry, Ron and Hermione; since the three of them wanted to have space together and the Weasley’s tent wasn’t big enough for Harry and Hermione to join them. 

The one they’d used for the Quidditch World Cup had gotten damaged in the aftermath of everything that had happened at the Cup and they’d had to downsize. 

Each sleeping area in Sirius’ tent had its curtain that could be drawn across for privacy and an unbelievably comfy bed to sleep on. Sirius had found it during the clear-out he and Remus had done over a year ago and had cleaned it thoroughly to get rid of the musty smell.

“Parents that you are going to see while we’re here,” Sirius added. He blew some hair out of his face and Remus smiled fondly, walking over to him and pulling a hair tie from his pocket. 

“We need to get the tent up first, and then I’ll go.” He said as he gently scraped Sirius’ hair back and tied it back. “Why you didn’t bring any hair ties with you, I don’t know. Your hair is so thick, I don’t know how you stand to have it down in the summer.”

Remus returned to where he’d been standing before, continuing with his side of the tent. 

“I snapped my last one by accident. It got too stretched and I had to bin it. I don’t know where you find them all.” Sirius said. 

“I bought them from a Muggle shop. I keep them in the cabinet on my side of the bed so I can just pull them out when you need them. It thought it made me look quite mysterious, pulling them out of thin air. Maybe it's to do with all the Muggle tricks my mother used to teach me as a child before I realized I could do actual magic." Remus said with a shrug. 

“See, this is why I’m marrying you,” Sirius said. 

“Why, because I buy your hair ties? I’m sorry I can’t buy you some new robes to replace the ones that went out of fashion ten years ago.” Remus asked, laughing.

“My dear Moony, you think of me as such a vain creature. And to think, I was going to be romantic.” Sirius said, feigning hurt. 

Remus laughed again. “What’s the reason then? Somehow I don’t think it’s for my looks.” 

“First of all, I like the way you look. But you’re thoughtful. You don’t buy me stupid trinkets for the sake of flaunting money. When my parents tried trying to marry me off to aristocratic girls as a teenager, they’d always buy me the weirdest crap to impress me because they were expensive.” Sirius said. 

He looked over to Harry, Ron and Hermione, who were also helping with the tent and listening to them bicker in amusement.

“Usually I’d encourage you three to never listen to the ramblings of a madman, but trust me when I say don’t ever settle until you meet someone who treats you as well as Remus treats me.”

Remus rolled his eyes, knowing he wasn’t convincing anyone. He stood back as the last peg was pushed into the ground with magic. 

“What a gentleman,” Remus said as Sirius moved round to the entrance of the tent, giving his little ponytail a gentle, teasing tug. “Okay, well, I think we’re done. Grab your stuff and settle in, you three.”

The five of them carried their bags into the tent and chose beds, Harry and Ron getting the bunk bed, Hermione getting the single bed, and Sirius and Remus taking the larger bed. They began unpacking the essential bits, putting them into the small bedside cabinets in their sleeping areas. 

Remus grabbed a book from his bag and was about to settle on the bed when Sirius stopped him and raised his eyebrows. 

Remus sighed. “Fine.” He said, putting his book down, looking down at it wistfully before putting his robes back on. He had been too warm to wear them as he’d been helping to put the tent up, but Welsh evenings were sometimes known to be windy. 

“If all goes well, invite your parents for dinner tonight,” Sirius said.

“I can’t guarantee anything. You know how stubborn my father is.” Remus said. He poked his head out of the tent flaps. “Molly, I’m off to visit my parents. If all goes well, are they alright to come to dinner?!” He called. 

“Of course, Remus! Good luck!” Molly called back. Remus thanked her and closed the tent flaps.

The tents were arranged in a circle, with a large area in the middle for a bonfire. Hermione and Remus had suggested having one and roasting marshmallows later on in the evening. 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” Sirius said softly. Remus shook his head.

“I don’t want Dad to throw a fit as soon as he opens the door. If he sees you, he'll slam it in our face without even giving me the chance to speak to Mum. Thank you, though.” 

Sirius kissed Remus briefly, “Alright, good luck. Love you.”

“Love you too.” And with that, Remus Apparated. 

“What happened with Remus and his parents to make them fall out?” Harry asked. 

Sirius returned to unpacking.

“When we left Hogwarts, his parents expected him to move home. Because of his lycanthropy, him living anywhere else but at home was inconceivable. Remus told them that he was moving in with me, that he was working with the Order. His parents didn’t like that. Remus' father begged him not to, asked him why he couldn’t just Apparate to London when he was needed if he was so sure about working for the Order. So Remus just … came out. Told them that we'd been together for two years by that point, that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Hope, Remus’ mother, was shocked, but it didn’t bother her. But Lyall, his father, dismissed it as a phase, told him that he'd get over it. It scarred Remus for a long time. They haven't been the same since.” 

“That’s awful!” Hermione cried, looking horrified. 

“From what I know, he spoke to them when he was working at Hogwarts, exchanged some letters. He normally sends a card for Christmas, birthdays, that kind of thing, sends letters every few months checking in on them, but with everything going on, he’s barely been able to that with all the risk with owls now.” Sirius said. 

“I can see why having a family of his own is so important,” Hermione said softly. “I couldn’t even imagine being estranged from my parents. I’d be so upset.”

“So would I. My parents get on my nerves sometimes, but they’re harmless enough. I don’t ever want to be like that with them.” Ron said. 

“Well, with any luck, Remus will be able to sort it out tonight,” Sirius said brightly, trying to lift their spirits.

    ~

Remus nervously shook his hands out as he approached the front door. There was a tight ball of anxiety in his chest. He knocked loudly and heard grumbling and footsteps on the wooden floors as someone came to the door. 

When the door opened, Remus was greeted by his father and he tried to smile.

“Hi, Dad.” He said. Lyall’s jaw dropped.

“Remus … what are you doing here? We-we thought something had happened to you, we haven’t heard from you in two years! Do you have any idea what you’ve done to your poor mother?!” he growled.

“There’s been tampering with owls for a while now, I’ve not been able to use them as often as I’d like to,” Remus told him. “I would’ve Apparated here and come to see you, but I've had ... commitments that I had to honour.”

“Commitments?! We’re your parents, are we not a commitment? You’re our only child, Remus!” 

“I know!” Remus exclaimed. “I … I was staying about twenty miles away for a few months last year, but I was on strict orders to keep my head down.”

Remus was trying to avoid saying Sirius’ name just yet, hoping that he could at least see his mother as well before he dropped the bombshell on them. 

“What trouble have you gotten yourself into now? I’ve been reading the Prophet, I heard about what happened in the Department of Mysteries. You weren’t there, were you?” Lyall asked.

Remus didn’t look at him and didn’t respond. 

“Can I at least come in and see Mum? I’ll explain myself then, I’m here for a reason, I wanted to fill you both in on the news.” Remus said quietly. Lyall stepped to one side and Remus’ feet carried him into his old home, heading towards the living room. 

His mother stood when she saw him and Remus rushed at her, embracing her gently, tears springing to his eyes. He loved his mother dearly and was very close to her. Being apart from her, being estranged from her, had been rough on him. He hated being this way with her when her health had been so turbulent for the last few years.

“We were so worried, Remus! What on earth were you thinking by not even sending a letter that you had to lie low?!” She exclaimed.

“I couldn’t trust the owls, Mum. I’m sorry. I’ve missed you.” Remus told her. He had long since grown taller than his mother, but he still felt like a child in her arms, completely safe and cared for. 

“You were protecting him, weren’t you?” Lyall asked, his voice low.

Remus pulled back from his mother and stood beside her to face his father.

“I saw in the papers when he escaped, and I saw it when he got his pardon. It was all over the Prophet. I couldn’t help but think how much pain you were going to be in when you found out. But you’ve known where he was hiding, haven’t you? You’ve been the one hiding him, and you’ve been fighting for Dumbledore again.” 

“Maybe if you use his name, I’ll be able to fill in the blanks for you. But if you can’t even give him that respect, I’ll leave. We’re adults, Dad, we can have a grown-up conversation about this.” Remus said. Lyall’s jaw clenched. “Why is it so hard for you to just say his name?” Remus asked. 

He could hear the frustration working its way into his voice. “Are you holding onto the same grudges that you were fifteen years ago? Yes, I’m fighting for the Order again. It’s only right that I finish the fight that begun back then. We know better now, we’re better equipped.” 

“Why are you here, Remus? Is it just to rehash old arguments and upset your mother?” 

“I’m getting married on October the thirty-first,” Remus said suddenly. His mother put a hand on his arm and he looked at her. Her eyes brimmed with tears. “And I want you both there.”

“To who?” Hope asked. Remus pulled the Black family ring from his pocket. He hadn’t wanted to be stopped at the door, he hadn’t wanted his father to see it right away and turn him away. “What is this? Is it an engagement ring?” 

“Yes, it is. In the wizarding world, there’s something called the Sacred Twenty-Eight. They’re twenty-eight families that have had substantial power for centuries because of their blood status. They’re all purebloods. Each of those families has a ring with their unique crest on it. This one belongs to my fiancé.” Remus explained. 

“Hope, what’s on the crest?” Lyall asked. Hope peered at it. 

“Three crows,” Hope said. “It has French, I think, written around the band, but I can’t translate it.” 

Toujours Pur. It means ‘Always pure’ in French.” Lyall said. Hope looked up, frowning. 

“How did you know that?” 

“That’s the Black family crest and motto. You’re getting married to the Black boy. The one who escaped from Azkaban.”

“His name is Sirius,” Remus said forcefully. “I want you both to be there because you’re my parents and I love you. I want you to be able to celebrate with me, to give him a chance. You’re just as prone to prejudice as he was, but he isn’t like his family-”

“He isn't?!” Lyall asked, voice rising. “He doesn’t care that you’re a half-blood? That your father married a Muggle, the very people his family wants to wipe out and control? He doesn’t care that you’re a dark creature? He doesn’t care that you’ve got scars covering every inch of you, that you’ve torn your face open again? I can see from here that there’s more of them than before. They look fresh, within the last year. He doesn’t care about any of that?”

“No!” Remus yelled. “He doesn’t! Because he’s kind, and he was brainwashed, but he’s genuine and loves deeply. He could have any other person, he could give in to the pureblood mania, but he doesn’t. Because Sirius loves me, scars and all. He wants this, he wants me, for life. And I’ve chosen him, too. Mum, please, I want you there, even if Dad doesn’t want to be. I’ll come and get you myself, I’ll Apparate you to the venue. You’ll love it, it’s outside, it’s got the most beautiful view. Sirius has exquisite taste, you’d love him!” 

“Remus … you can’t just spring this on us!” Lyall said. 

“There’s a group of us camping nearby. We’ll be there for the next three days.” Remus said. He went over to the large window overlooking the rolling hills and fields and pointed to where the campsite was.

“We’re over there. Where we used to go hiking when I was a kid. The campsite is at the base of that hill. There’s the Weasleys, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Sirius’ godson, Harry, Harry’s friend Hermione. Sirius’ cousin Andromeda, her husband and their daughter are there too. All wizards and witches so there’s no worry of being exposed to Muggles. Molly’s made extra food in case you were joining us. It’d be nice if you could come, rejoin wizard society a bit, and Mum could see more of our world.” Remus pleaded. 

There was silence and he sighed, giving his mother another hug and a kiss on the forehead, taking Sirius’ ring back, slipping it onto his finger, a comforting weight there now, and Disapparated away. 

~

Remus Apparated onto the outskirts of the camp. He walked for a few minutes towards where they’d pitched up the tents, hands stuffed into his pockets, mulling over the conversation that he’d had with his parents, the tears threatening to spill. 

What was so wrong with Sirius that his dad just couldn’t accept Remus’ choice? Was it just Sirius’ family? Was it Sirius’ reputation as a bad boy, as a flirt? 

Sirius was kind. And loving, and protective, and wonderful. He never doubted Remus and never made Remus doubt him. He was the most calming influence on Remus’ anxious habits, on his tension, the million and one thoughts that were always buzzing around his brain. 

Sirius was the one to hold him when he couldn’t keep the sad moments away when he couldn’t talk, or struggled to breathe, or didn’t want to be around anyone. 

On some days, Remus was just like Sirius in the early days of escaping Azkaban. And those days were the worst days for him and Sirius. Because neither of them knew how to fix it like neither of them knew how to fix Sirius’ bad days. It was terrifying for them both. 

Remus had always struggled more with anxiety than Sirius. He had his days where he struggled with depressive episodes, but his anxiety was where the root of his problems was. Sirius was more likely to have depression and/or PTSD. 

Their experiences were very different, and neither always understood what happened in the other’s brain. But they had always tried, had always made the effort to notice each other’s triggers, their behaviours that indicated how they were feeling. That was why Remus loved him.

And Remus couldn’t understand why his father wouldn’t even let Sirius show that. Sirius wouldn’t show it because he wanted to show off, or because he wanted people to believe he was a good person. 

He did it because he wore his heart on his sleeve. He didn’t know how else to be. He wore his feelings so openly on his face and so casually displayed through his actions. He showed his love for Remus because he wanted to; because he was proud to have found love and wanted to share it.

Remus realized that he’d reached the campsite when Kingsley called his name. He hastily wiped his eyes and looked over at him. 

“You look upset. Did things not go as expected with your parents?” he asked softly, coming closer to keep their conversation quiet. 

“It went fine, thank you, Kingsley. If you’ll excuse me,” Remus said, shedding his robes and removing his tie, undoing his top two buttons. 

He reached Sirius’ tent and walked in. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked over from where they were sat on the bunk bed and he smiled at them before crawling onto his shared bed with Sirius, who was absentmindedly reading the Daily Prophet. 

He held it to one side so Remus could press against his side and rest his head on Sirius’ chest before returning to reading his newspaper. Remus’ arm moved to hold Sirius around the waist, both of them breathing softly in time with one another. 

“How did it go?” Sirius asked quietly.

“Dad got frustrated. He didn’t believe that you love me despite my scars, despite my lycanthropy. Mum cried. I told them where the campsite was when they had an answer. I don’t know whether or not I want them to come here. I don’t think I could handle it if they showed up just to say no.” Remus replied, voice cracking as he spoke. 

Sirius put his newspaper down and wrapped his arms strongly, protectively, around Remus.

He knew tears were leaking onto Sirius’ robes but he couldn’t bring himself to stop. 

He was trying his best to muffle any noises, but when he hiccupped, suddenly he stopped. The tears were no longer pouring and he sat up, looking at Sirius, who was trying his very hardest not to smirk.

That hadn't happened for a long time, not since James and Lily had died; since Remus had been left alone with Sirius in Azkaban and Peter supposedly dead.

“You still hiccup when you cry?” he asked, trying to sound concerned, but there was an undertone of amusement in his voice. Remus shrugged.

“I guess so. I haven’t cried properly like that for a long time.” Remus said. 

They continued to look at each other and then burst into laughter.

“Every time I think there’s nothing more you can do to surprise me, there’s always something that changes that.” Sirius laughed, holding his arms out for Remus again.

“Oh, shush. You can’t drink Butterbeer without starting to giggle like a twelve-year-old girl trying to impress her first crush.” Remus retorted, settling back into Sirius’ arms. He felt Sirius shrug.

“You’re my first and only crush. And look at where that giggling got me. Now I’ve charmed you into marrying me.” 

“Only took you twenty years. I’m sure James respects the hustle.” Remus teased, laughing when Sirius poked his side gently in retaliation. 

“I don’t think I could get any happier than this, you know,” Sirius said after a few seconds, brushing Remus’ hair out of his face softly. Remus leaned into the touch. 

"Neither can I," Remus responded. He wanted to feel this sense of calm in his mind and heart for the rest of his life.

“Dinner’s ready!” Molly called from outside.

“I stand corrected,” Sirius said.

Remus reluctantly moved off Sirius, swinging his legs off the bed and standing. The five of them that were sharing Sirius’ tent made their way into the main area of the campsite, settling on some plastic camp chairs that they’d brought with them. 

The twins were rolling around, wrestling on the ground and Molly was scolding them, trying to get them to stop. It was only when Ginny threatened them with her lethal Bat Bogey hex that the twins rolled away from each other and scrambled to their feet. 

Remus pointed out two seats to Sirius and asked him to reserve them before anyone else grabbed them.

Molly handed out plates of food and Remus took two plates for him and Sirius, laughing at the twins arguing with Molly about who started the fight, an argument filled with plenty of puns and Molly mixing up which twin was which. 

Remus summoned some Firewhiskey for everyone. He and Sirius used the lids on each other’s bottles to remove the caps before tapping the necks together in cheers and taking deep swigs. 

Remus spluttered as he stopped to take a breath. 

“Lightweight.” Sirius teased and Remus pulled on the band keeping Sirius’ hair back, leaving it partially in, destroying the near ponytail it had been in. Sirius exclaimed in annoyance, pulling the hair tie out and flicking it at Remus.

“Would you two stop? You’re worse than the twins! Anyone would think you haven’t aged past fifteen.” Molly scolded. 

“Mentally, Sirius hasn’t,” Remus said, jerking his head towards Sirius as he began to twine food around his fork before popping it into his mouth. 

“Oi! At least I don’t hiccup when I cry!” Sirius exclaimed. Remus gently pushed at his shoulder, cheeks flushing red, a smile spreading across his face. Sirius pushed back, and their chairs wobbled as they struggled. 

Remus managed to levitate both of their plates into the air as the chairs both tipped to one side. They knocked heads as they went down, sprawled in a heap, laughing and clutching their heads. Molly was tutting at them, telling them that they should’ve listened to her, but neither was paying attention.

They disentangled from each other and Remus grabbed Sirius’ hand, pulling him down and snaking a hand into his wild, untamed hair as Sirius tried to stand, pressing their lips together firmly.

Sirius made a surprised noise and collapsed against Remus, having lost his balance, and landed in a pile of interlocked limbs on Remus’ lap, kissing back enthusiastically, hands splayed on Remus’ chest. 

There were catcalls and teases as they locked lips, and Remus pulled back just enough to lean their foreheads together. 

“I think I win,” Remus said softly. 

“Only because I let you,” Sirius replied. Remus laughed and shook his head and they helped each other to their feet, picking their chairs up and taking their plates from where they were still hovering. 

And then, before Remus and Sirius could sit back down again, Kingsley and Arthur were standing, pointing their wands at something. The sun hadn’t set yet, but Sirius and Remus couldn’t see what they were pointing at. It was only early evening, they still had another hour or two of daylight left. 

There was tension in the air that hadn’t been there just a few seconds before, with more of the Order standing to raise their wands, including Sirius and Remus, who’d put their plates down and moved forward to make sure that Harry, Ron and Hermione had adults close by if anything happened. 

“Relax, my wand is in my pocket and my wife is a Muggle. We’re both unarmed.” 

“Dad?!” Remus stormed to the front of the group, wand in his hand. His parents were stood with their hands splayed in the air. He went to greet them and Kingsley stopped him. 

“Ask them something only they should know.” He said. At Remus’ look, he continued, “You’ve been in this fight before, Remus, you know this is the norm from now on.” Remus thought for a second before turning to his parents.

“What’s hidden beneath the shed?” Remus asked. This was one of the few things that he had never told even Sirius.

“A bunker designed to be resistant to magic and strong enough to contain you. As you grew, it became too risky to just lock you in your room during the full moon, so we built a bunker underneath the shed to contain a growing werewolf. There are scratches and dents along the walls from all of the times you tried to fight your way out.” Hope said. 

Remus spared a glance to Kingsley and nodded slightly. Kingsley lowered his wand slowly, with the others in the assembled group doing the same. 

Remus hugged his mother. “Are you okay, Mum? You look a little pale.” He asked gently, putting his hand against his mother’s forehead to test for a temperature. 

“It’s her first time Apparating,” Lyall told him. Remus grimaced. 

“Come on, let’s get you some food. It’ll help.” Remus guided his mother over to where he’d been sitting. Sirius offered his seat to Lyall and Remus summoned an extra two seats for him and Sirius.

Molly brought some more food over as Remus sat beside his mother and Sirius sat next to Remus, turning his chair slightly so that the four of them were sat in a semi-circle. Conversations around them were quiet and subdued, some people glancing over in curiosity. 

“So everyone here can do the same things you can?” Hope asked. Remus nodded. 

“Everyone’s stronger in different areas of magic, but we’re all pretty good at the basics and some of the advanced stuff.” 

“Can you show me? I’ve never actually seen you do magic.” 

Hope was watching Remus curiously as he hesitated, and then pulled out his wand, pointing it at the bonfire. It roared higher and a few people leaned away as it spat embers. As Remus lowered his wand, so did the bonfire, until it was safely back to its original shape and size. Hope was staring at it in wonder. 

“Who are you all?” She asked. “You’re a part of a group, right? I’ve tried to piece it all together over the years, but Remus takes after his father. He tries to keep it all from me to keep me safe.” 

“We can’t let you know too much,” Kingsley said slowly. “But yes, we’re a small number of people from a group called the Order of the Phoenix. My name is Kingsley Shacklebolt. I work in our government, the Ministry. My job helps to give us intel on how things are being handled there so we can plan our next moves.” 

And like that, the others began to introduce themselves. When the introductions reached Sirius, he hesitated. 

“I’m Sirius Black. I’m one of Remus’ best friends. We’ve known each other since we were eleven. I gave my ancestral home to the Order so we had a Headquarters and a home for everyone should they need it. I was in the first war, fighting with Remus. We’re two of the strongest duellers, so we’ve been training up the younger ones.” Sirius said. 

“But you’re not just my son’s friend, are you?” Hope asked softly. Sirius shook his head. “You’re his fiancé.” Sirius nodded.

“I’m sorry it's taken this long for us to meet. Remus talks about you a lot. He adores you both.”

“He’s a mother’s boy at heart,” Hope said, affectionately brushing Remus’ hair out of his eyes. “When was the last time you had a haircut, Remus? You should let me take some of the length off. You’re thirty-five, not a fifteen-year-old going through his punk phase. God knows how I’d cope if you went through all of that again.” 

“Mum, we are not discussing this right now. You’re banned from cutting my hair.” Remus laughed. “I’ve seen the botched jobs you used to give Dad when I was a kid.”  Hope tutted. 

“You best get it cut before the wedding. I can’t take pictures of my only child on his wedding day if he looks like he’s been dragged through a hedge backwards.” Hope said. Remus’ heart stopped.

“You’re – you’re coming to the wedding?” Remus stuttered, a lump rising in his throat. 

“We both are,” Lyall said. “You were right. I hold a lot of prejudices against the Black family. I should’ve learned my lesson about judging everyone based on a select few when Greyback bit you. I’m sorry, Remus. And I’m sorry to you too, Sirius.” 

Remus knew how much his father hated admitting that he was wrong, knew that it was hard for him. To come to the campsite tonight with his tail tucked between his legs was a big deal. 

And though Remus wanted to be angry, wanted to get it all out, to shout at his father that he should’ve done this years ago, he should’ve given Sirius the chance back then, and Remus could’ve leaned on them when he needed them, he couldn’t bring himself to do anything take a deep breath and let it go.

”Dad - you - you have no idea what that means to me.” Remus was focused on trying to keep the tears at bay, but he knew that his eyes had gone misty.  

“I think we forget sometimes that you don’t need us to protect you anymore, not like when you were a child. And that’s scary for us. We’d be honoured to be there if you still want us.” Hope said. 

“Of course I want you there!” Remus' parents stood, pulling him into their arms.

Remus had to crouch a little. The three of them had always chalked it down to being a werewolf that he had grown so tall, with Hope and Lyall both being less than six foot. He was trembling slightly, clutching his parents to him and wishing he could never let go. 

    ~

Hope and Lyall accepted the offer to stay at the campsite overnight and the rest of the evening was spent with everyone in different groups. 

Arthur was busy bombarding Hope with questions about Muggle life while Lyall talked to Kingsley about Ministry business.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione were chatting in a small group, the twins laughing with Tonks.

Andromeda and Ted were with Molly, and Remus and Sirius were lying flat on their backs on a blanket and pillows that they’d brought out from their tent. They were staring up at the stars with their hands linked and resting between them. 

“This all seems a bit surreal, doesn’t it?” Sirius whispered. 

“Everything that's happened feels so surreal. If you’d have told me when I started working at Hogwarts that I'd have you back as an innocent man and everything we've dealt with the last few years would've come about, I would’ve thought that you were smoking those dodgy joints we used to get off the seventh year Hufflepuffs,” Remus replied. Sirius smiled. 

“Thank you for trusting me, Remus.” He said. “I was so scared that you would kill me on the floor of the Shack. I escaped for Harry, but I also sensed that you were in danger. The only reason I stayed put for so long is that I wanted it to be the last resort. I didn’t want to look even more guilty. But I couldn’t bear to think that something might happen to you. I had to get out, I had to find Pete, and I had to save you and Harry.” 

“Thank you for forgiving me for thinking you were guilty.” 

“We all get blinded by grief and think stupid shit sometimes. But we’re us again, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.” 

Remus squeezed Sirius’ hand tighter before letting go, moving his arm up so Sirius could curl into Remus’ side.

Their arms draped over one another and Remus knew that Sirius was listening to Remus’ heartbeat.

It was an old habit that Sirius had picked up during nights after the full moon, scared that Remus’ injuries would suddenly take a turn for the worst, so he needed to hear Remus’ heart so that he knew it was strong, knew that it wasn’t faltering. 

“I love you, Moony,” Sirius whispered. 

“I love you too, Padfoot.” 

Chapter Text

Lyall briefly Apparated back to the Lupin’s house and got an old Muggle tent that Hope had bought a few years after Remus had been born, one that they hadn’t used in years, as well as gathering an old air bed and a few other bits that Hope had asked him to pick up. 

Everyone was alternating between watching the stars and roasting marshmallows. Things were quiet, people enjoying the soft sound of the fire and the feeling of a soft summer breeze drifting through the air. 

Sirius had fallen asleep on Remus’ chest and was breathing deeply, completely relaxed in Remus’ arms. 

“Lyall, you forgot the pump for the air bed!” Hope exclaimed. Lyall just gave her a look and pointed his wand at the tent, which put itself up, and then pointed at the air bed, making it fill will air quickly. Hope looked stumped for a moment and then turned away to unpack some other small bits in the bag that Lyall had packed. 

“Forty years we’ve been married, with a son who can do the same stuff as me and you still forget I have magic.” Lyall teased. 

“I wouldn’t go there, Dad!” Remus called from where he was still sprawled out on the ground. “She’ll clip you round the ear with a slipper if you’re not careful.” 

“And you’ll be next, Remus!” Hope said. 

“I’m not a child anymore, you know that, right?” Remus laughed. “Besides, I haven’t done anything!” 

“I don’t care how old you are, if you need some sense knocking into you, the slipper is coming out!” Hope replied. “But I know something that’ll work so much better. A little memento of you as a child.” 

“You better not be pulling out that goddamn scrapbook, Mum, or I swear to god-” Remus started.

“Remus John Lupin, I’m your mother, you will watch your tone with me!” Hope warned. 

“Sorry. You’re didn’t bring that scrapbook, did you?” 

“Of course I did!” Hope said. Remus groaned. “What? Am I not allowed to look back and see how far my boy has come? Besides, it’s only customary that I embarrass you in front of your fiance.” 

“Well, then, you’ll be sorely disappointed when I tell you that my fiance has been asleep for the last half an hour,” Remus said triumphantly. 

“’ M not asleep,” Sirius grumbled into Remus’ chest. 

“I’ve been sat here for the last half an hour with a numb shoulder and you’ve been awake this whole time?!” 

“No, I was only asleep for about ten minutes.”

Sirius’ voice was croaky and he sat up, rubbing his eyes and summoning a glass of water. Remus sat up, too, stretching and rolling his shoulder, wincing at the tingly feeling in it. 

Hope came over and Remus offered her his arm to lean on to help her sit down on the floor next to Remus and Sirius, where Lyall had Lyall had spread out another blanket for him and Hope. 

Hope began to flick through the old pictures and Remus smiled as he looked at the variety of both still and moving photos, a mix of both of his parent’s worlds. Sirius peered over Remus’ shoulder to look at the scrapbook and Hope handed it to Remus so that he could show Sirius. They took their time in looking.

“Aww, you look adorable all dressed up for Halloween!” Sirius cooed, pointing at the skeleton outfit that Remus had worn when he was ten. The year before he went to Hogwarts. “Hey, guys! What do you all think about a Halloween theme for the wedding?! Everyone can get dressed up!” Sirius joked. There were a few laughs from the assembled group. 

“I wouldn’t even need to get dressed up. I could just go as a younger version of myself. A punk werewolf would make a perfect costume.” Remus chuckled.

“I can’t imagine you ever being a punk,” Harry said.
 
“You’d never believe it, Harry, but Remus had a piercing once,” Sirius said.

“What?!” George exclaimed, sitting up. 

“Did I just hear that right? Professor Lupin had a piercing?!” Fred chipped in, also sitting up and gawping at Remus. 

“We are talking about the same Professor Lupin, right?” George asked. “Cardigan wearing, bookworm Lupin? The same one that Peeves calls Loony Lupin?” 

“He has glasses as well.” Sirius added, at the same time that Remus exclaimed ‘hey!’

“Sirius convinced me, James, and Peter to get piercings with him when we went out one night after seventh year,” Remus said. “We were in Muggle London and were going back home when we passed a tattoo parlour, so we went in. Peter got a small stud in one ear that got infected two weeks later and he took it out. James had an earring as well, I think. But he kept losing the clasps and his ring fell out and the piercing closed up. Sirius got the cartilage on the top of his ear done, his nose, and an eyebrow piercing all in one night.” 

“What did you get done, Professor? I don’t think I could ever imagine you with a piercing.” Ginny said. “You seem too quiet and shy for one.”


“I don’t think Remus has been quiet or shy since he was eleven.” Sirius laughed. 

“One might ask what happened when he was eleven to cause that, Sirius,” Molly said. “Or, more accurately, who he met.” 

“Hey! All I did was bring him out of his shell a bit! The rest isn’t my fault!” Sirius deflected, hands raised in surrender. 

“I had snake bites on either side of my mouth,” Remus said, embarrassed and finally finding an opportunity to answer Ginny’s question, gesturing two the two areas beneath his mouth where the piercings used to be. “One of them closed up a long time ago, but I think the other one still hasn’t healed over properly.” 

“I think there’s a picture of it somewhere,” Hope said, taking the scrapbook back off Remus and skimming through a few more pages. 

“I think I only stopped wearing it completely when I started working at Hogwarts. I used to wear it at home as a comfort item to remember my friends by. But I never put it back in after I left Hogwarts. I didn’t need it as a reminder anymore. I had Sirius, alive and well. I could probably still get a ring in if I tried.” Remus said. 

“Do you think I could go around with my nose and cartilage piercing? I’ve still got scars from where they used to be. Maybe I can use magic to reopen them and get them back in.” Sirius mused, leaning back on his hands. 

“Sirius, we’re in our mid-thirties! I don’t think we could get away with it as we could as eighteen-year-olds!” Remus laughed.

“Oh, please! We’re not that old! And wizards do tend to live longer, so technically, we could both probably get away with it. We’ve still got a good sixty or seventy years left in us, that’s practically our whole lives!” Sirius objected. Remus burst into a fresh wave of laughter.

“You’re more than welcome to try, Sirius, but I think people might give you some strange looks."

“Here it is!” Hope exclaimed suddenly. Remus took the scrapbook from her again, peering at the pictures. There were copies of Remus with his parents, beaming brightly, moving pictures of him and his friends at their housewarming parties. 

“Look at how young we look!” Sirius said in wonder. “Wow, was I that good looking? No wonder I used to get so many Valentine’s Day cards and gifts.” 

“Your ego is still just as insufferable,” Remus said absentmindedly. 

Sirius just grinned and gently unpinned one of the pictures. It was one of Remus and Sirius. James had taken it on Remus’ nineteenth birthday, just a few months after he and Sirius had moved in together. 

Sirius had gotten him a giant bar of his favourite chocolate from Honeydukes and a handwritten note declaring his undying love, of his wish to have a family, his promise to love Remus until the day he died, that he would one day propose marriage and hoped that Remus would say yes. Hope had pinned the note and a small, thin purse to the bottom of the picture. 

“Mum, where did you find these?” Remus asked, taking the photo and the note from Sirius. 

“They were in an old shoebox of memories that you put in storage after your friends died. We kept them and put them in here so we could pass the book onto you when you were older and were ready to see them again.” Hope said. “We knew it hurt too much for you to look at it. We never wanted to pressure you into looking at their faces when you were still grieving.”

“What is it?” Harry asked. 

Remus separated the purse and note from the photo and passed the photo to Harry, smiling as Harry, Ron and Hermione gaped at it, showing the twins and Ginny as well. Remus was wearing a lip ring and wiping at the tears on his face, and the younger version of himself repeated reading the ending of the note and cupping Sirius’ face, his lips mouthing the words ‘I love you’ in perfect clarity.
 
“What’s in the purse, Professor?” Ginny asked. 

“I’m not too sure,” Remus said, opening it up and opening his hand, tilting it so that a variety of studs and rings fell into his hand. “Oh my god.” He laughed. “These are all for my piercings. Rings, studs, bars. I feel so old looking at all of these.” 

He gently moved some of them around until he found his favourite one, a black one that Sirius had gotten for him for his birthday. He gently tipped the others back into the bag and gently pulled the piercing open. 

He carefully found the old piercing on the right-hand side of his mouth and gently tested pressing the ring against it. After a minute of gentle guiding and a lot of wincing, Remus managed to get the piercing in and screwed the ball clasp on. This particular piercing was a curved ring with two ball clasps and Remus frowned at the feeling. 

“This feels weird.” Was all he said.

Sirius tilted Remus’ head towards him and his eyes darkened at the sight of the piercing.

“Is that the one I got for you for your birthday?” he asked. Remus nodded. “It still suits you.” Sirius leaned in and kissed him briefly before pulling away. “I remember now just how much it gets in the way. It’s a shame, I want to kiss you more when you have that in.” 

Remus smiled then, putting his arm around Sirius, kissing Sirius’ temple, and turned his attention back to the fire in front of him, relishing in the warmth and dragging his finger over the piercing gently.

He looked again at the note that Sirius had once written to him and read it over, flipping it open with one hand, heart pounding and hands shaking as his eyes drifted over the familiar handwriting.

"What's that note?" Molly asked, seeing the way Remus smiled at it. Remus' eyes flicked up to her and saw curious glances from the group watching him. 

"Don't you dare read that out loud," Sirius warned. 

"Whyever not, Pads?" Remus asked, smirking at him.

"Because it's embarrassing! I know how cringey it is, I wrote it!" 

"I think it's romantic," Remus said. Sirius made a move to snatch it out of Remus' hand, but he dodged and leapt to his feet, constantly moving to avoid Sirius' attempts to grab ahold of it. Sirius was blushing brightly and smiling, eyes twinkling in remembrance of the words he'd written. 

"Dearest Moony,

I won't bore you with dramatic confessions of my undying love, as I know you don't always believe me when I indulge in exaggerations. But I do want to write down what I honestly feel for you. 

I have no shame in publically admitting just how much I love you, just how much you mean to me, how you've changed my life and made me believe that there is still good in this world. And that is all true. 

I have so much love for you that it scares me. Even when I'm at my lowest and the insecurities that my family have placed on me rear their head, the fact that you love me infinitely is the only thing that I can always rely on to be true. I see it in the way you look at me when you think I can't see, I feel it when you hold my hand, when you hug me and when you smile at me. There is too much evidence in our favour for those insecurities to ever break us. 

When you read this for the first time, it will be your nineteenth birthday. We will have been best friends for eight years, and together for three and a half. And every second has been incredible. I have a plethora of memories to pick from whenever I cast a Patronus, and they all involve you. 

I want to marry you, Moony. I know how blunt that sounds and I know exactly what you're thinking, that this is typical behaviour from me, blurting out the first thing that comes to my head without any thought. But the truth is, marrying you, having our own family, is all I've thought about when it comes to my future since the moment we kissed for the first time.

And now that Lils is up the duff with a baby Prongs, it only makes me want to share that with you even more. We can adopt our own little Quidditch star. Or two. Or three. Or however many you want. We could create a team! Prongs would be so jealous! They could carry on our prankster legacy, give us a run for our money. Minnie will likely hate us forever, but it'd be so worth it. And all because I'd be doing it with you, my love.

Think about it. Please, for me. I know you're hesitant about a family of your own, that you're scared of being a risk, but you'd be the best father on earth, and we have our whole lives ahead of us, we have so much time to make a decision, but I'd at least like to make my thoughts known. 

I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you, my love,

Your Padfoot

When he was done, he tucked the note into the pocket of the suit jacket that was lying on the floor, smiling at Sirius brightly and seeing the same affections reflected at him from Sirius.

"You were so romantic at nineteen. What happened?" He teased.

Sirius laughed and gently punched Remus' shoulder. There were fond looks from their friends, all knowing that they had such a long and pained history together and that this was the start of their resolution. Remus drew Sirius close as they sat back down, holding onto him tightly.

Somehow, although he felt way too old to be wearing a piercing or to be blushing at a note from his childhood sweetheart that he was finally marrying, he felt like slowly, there was a part of him embracing his past and letting it go. 

Maybe being able to look at these things tonight after so many years hidden away with the rest of his heartbreak, Remus’ life would be able to restart his life instead of being held back by the past. 

Maybe this was the start of his life as it was supposed to have played out, sat around a campfire with loved ones, Sirius beside him, Harry all grown up and safe. 

And as Remus looked at Sirius laughing at something the twins were saying, Remus smiled, too, knowing that he would remember this as the day where he finally let James and Lily go for good. 

~

Sirius gently slipped away from Remus’ arms, swinging his legs over the bed and pushing back the curtain, heading out of the tent and breathing in the fresh night air. It was cold for a summer night, but that was Wales for you. 

Sirius was grateful, however, and relished in the sudden change from how warm the tent was. His parents had charmed it to be cold resistant and Remus was a naturally warm person. It led to Sirius being boiling in his sleep, which was always nice considering he was usually cold all the time. They were opposites, always balancing each other out.

He yawned as he walked out and away from the tents, staggering slightly from the darkness and the Firewhiskey that he’d drunk earlier on in the night. 

Sirius quickly relieved himself of the aching need to go to the toilet and made his way back to the tent, hands out to prevent himself from falling. He was so tired that he’d forgotten to pick his wand up so that he had a bit of light. 

He was currently relying on the vague shapes in the darkness and he was shivering by the time he’d found his tent again. He settled down into bed again, laying on his side, smiling as Remus shifted to let Sirius lay down again. 

“What adventures have you been on?” Remus whispered.

“Had to break the seal. Don’t be alarmed if I sneak away again in ten minutes.” Sirius muttered back. 

“Remind me to never let you drink again. I always forget how much you piss after a few drinks. Your bladder is worse than a toddler’s.” 

“You’re going to hate me on our wedding night, then. You might want to divorce me after how much I go to the toilet, I’ll be that drunk. We’re approaching middle age, love, it only gets worse from here on out.” Sirius joked. Remus made a quiet snickering noise.

“Don’t be silly, I could never divorce you. I wouldn’t be able to afford the lawyers, and I’d probably end up with less than I had before we got married.” Remus responded. 

“Nice to know that that’s your response to the idea of us divorcing. I thought you’d be a bit more hysterical.” 

“I’m not you, Sirius. Hysterical doesn’t suit me.” Remus chuckled. Fingers reached out in the darkness, searching for Sirius. “Merlin, you’re fucking freezing. How long were you outside to get this cold? Come here.”

Sirius moved back, letting Remus embrace him from behind, settling into the warmth of the body behind him. “I was just joking, you know. I could never be unhappy enough to want to divorce you. Being with you is the happiest I’ve been in a long time.” Remus said.

“I know. We may be doing this fifteen years later than we originally wanted to, but I’m even more excited now. You’re pretty special, you know, to have captivated me and held my affections for so long. I was a highly sought-after young bachelor once upon a time. But I could never want anyone else but you. You’re the Lily to my James.” Sirius whispered. 

He turned in Remus’ arms and pressed their lips together. He felt Remus begin to kiss his way down Sirius’ neck, heard himself sigh, felt his head drop softly onto his pillow, eyes rolling back in his head.

Even after so long, Remus knew how to make Sirius melt like chocolate in his hands. 

Sirius pulled away to grab his wand, muttering a quick ‘Muffliato’, and then returning to Remus, pushing him onto his back and kissing him soundly.

“I love you, Sirius.”

“I love you, too, Rem.” 

    ~

Sirius woke when a strip of sunlight came through the entrance to the tent. It was in that moment that he’d realized that he’d left the curtain to his and Remus’ area of the tent open after going for a slash during the night. 

Sirius sighed and shifted slightly, burrowing further into the sheets, enjoying the warmth of Remus’ body as he twined their fingers together where Remus had one hand splayed across Sirius’ middle. 

They had slept with Sirius’ back to Remus’ chest, one of Remus’ arms wrapped tightly around Sirius’ middle, the other stretched out under Sirius’ neck, spread towards the edge of the bed. Their legs were tangled and both were too warm and too comfortable to move. 

After their late night … activities, they’d barely had the energy to clean themselves off, deciding to just stay as they were, shirtless and only wearing their pyjama trousers.

Sirius wasn’t sure if he wanted to know what he and Remus looked like, with tangled hair and love bites, sleepy and slightly hungover. They hadn’t been like this in a long time, not since before Azkaban.

Moments like the last night were few and far between, with too many distractions and with both of them too tired from busy days that they’d rather just fall asleep together.

“Sirius, why is the curtain open?” Remus groaned. 

“I think I forgot to close it when I went to the loo after our little moment last night. Sorry, love.” Sirius yawned. Remus shifted and retracted his arms from where they’d been enclosing Sirius, making Sirius protest loudly. “What are you moving for? Remus, I was comfortable!” he whined. 

“My arm is numb from where you’ve been sleeping on it. As you so accurately pointed out in the early hours of this morning, we are approaching middle age.” Remus winced as he rolled his shoulder experimentally. 

“Please, just five more minutes.” Sirius pleaded.

Remus rolled his eyes and laid back down, holding his arms out. Sirius moved back, lifting his head so Remus’ arm could sneak back under his neck, and smiling contentedly when they were flush against each other again. 

They didn’t talk, just enjoyed each other’s company. This was a rare, fleeting moment of domesticity, one that they rarely got to experience. 

“I can smell Molly’s cooking,” Remus said, as a way to convince Sirius to get up. Once upon a time, it would’ve worked. But not today. Today, Sirius wanted to lie in, he wanted to have Remus all to himself for just a few more minutes. 

“And my extra five minutes in bed isn’t up yet,” Sirius responded. He could feel Remus smiling, leaning forward to give Sirius soft kisses on the nape of his neck and he sighed softly.  “As much as I’d love to take this further and relive last night in the daylight, the curtain is still open and there’s no silencing charm in place.” He whispered. 

“When’s that ever stopped us?” Remus chuckled.

“I’d rather not scar Harry and his friends. The Order is outside. So are your parents. Do you want them to hear you?” Sirius asked. 

“I can keep quiet.” Sirius laughed properly then. “What?!” 

“Remus, my love, that’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard in my life. You’re lucky I cast that charm last night, otherwise, we would’ve woken everyone up. You’re very vocal.” Sirius teased quietly. 

His stomach started to rumble then, his mouth watering as his nose finally focused in on the cooking coming from outside.

Sirius reached for the jumper that had been thrown recklessly against his bedside table, sitting up and disentangling himself from the covers just as the tent flaps opened and Lyall walked in.

“It’s a ‘stealing my jumpers’ morning, is it?” Remus asked, yawning and sitting up, throwing the sheets off him and going to his bag.

“It’s always a good morning for stealing your jumpers,” Sirius said. 

“Ah, good, you two are finally up. You’re the last ones.” Lyall said. Remus rubbed a hand over his face in fatigue and pulled on a fresh, loose shirt and a cardigan.

“What’s Molly making?” Sirius asked.

“Hope’s cooking, not Molly. She’s making a fry up. You might want to hurry up before it all runs out.” Lyall advised. Remus smiled at that and beckoned Sirius out of the tent. Sirius began to pull Remus’ jumper on as they exited the tent, but he’d barely gotten his head through the hole when he felt Remus’ hands on his shoulders. 

“You might want to take your hair down.” He said quietly.

Sirius had tied it back while they’d been fooling around like teenagers in the dark, early hours, where the aim was to just get each other off quickly and quietly with their hands and mouths, desperate not to get caught, but loving the thrill of it all. 

“Why?” 

“Sirius, your neck is covered in hickeys.” Remus hissed quietly.
 
“And so is yours,” Sirius smirked, dragging his thumb over a particularly large one that had disappeared under the collar of Remus’ shirt, only just visible. Sirius knew just how conscious Remus could be of their affections and had managed to hide almost all of the evidence below Remus’ shirt collar. Only a few poked out from underneath the fabric. “I noticed that most of them are on your stomach and your hips. It seems I was very enthusiastic last night.” 

“Sirius, hush.” Sirius snickered.

Remus had always been so shy and ashamed of himself, had always tried to avoid making a big deal of his sexuality or his relationship with Sirius, terrified that he'd get abuse or a problem that he couldn't fight his way out of.

“Love, we aren’t in the seventies anymore, people aren’t going to give us weird looks. We’re adults, we’re engaged, it’s expected that we’ll have a bit of a romp sometimes. Just don’t draw any attention to them and people won’t say anything.” Sirius assured. “Besides, you know how much I like everyone knowing I’m yours.” 

He winked at Remus and begun to walk away, hearing Remus say ‘You’re going to be the death of me, Black’ under his breath.

But Remus did have a point. Sirius' hair was very loose in its ponytail, so he removed the hair tie and shook out his hair as he reached Hope. 

“You look like a wild dog, shaking your hair out like that.” Hope laughed. Sirius just grinned and shifted into Padfoot, watching the surprise on Hope’s face spread. He sat, tail wagging and thumping against the ground. 

“What the – Remus?! There’s something wrong with Sirius!” Hope asked frantically. 

Padfoot looked over to where Remus was chatting to Kingsley, saw people in the group look to them in alarm, he watched as they realized that he’d only shifted into Padfoot and relaxed again. 

Remus looked over in Padfoot’s direction, laughed and moved closer. Padfoot stood and waited for Remus, tail wagging harder and brushing against Remus’ legs as he reached them. 

“It’s not even nine in the morning, Padfoot, are you trying to give my mother a heart attack?” he laughed, ruffling Padfoot’s fur. “It’s okay, Mum. Sirius is an Animagus, he can change into an animal. It’s a long process, but James, Sirius and Peter did it when we were all at school. They did it to be with me on the full moon so that I wouldn’t hurt myself so much. Sirius is a dog, James was a stag and Peter is a rat.” 

For the first time in a long time, Remus’ chest didn’t ache at the mention of James, he didn’t feel the anger and resentment in his chest at Peter, and counted this as a small victory.

Hope had calmed down slightly but was still looking confused. “Does he – does he still think like himself? Is it something he can control?” There was concern in her voice and Remus smiled down at Padfoot affectionately.

“He’s still himself. He just can’t communicate like a human while like this. All of his mannerisms and characteristics are the same.” He said. Padfoot leaned into the feeling of Remus’ dragging his fingers through the fur on Padfoot’s head. “Are you going to change back anytime soon? You still haven’t had breakfast and I think you’re making my mother worry about your health.”

Sirius shifted back then, returning to his human body and his trademark grin. 

“Sorry, Mrs Lupin. You said shaking my hair out made me look like a wild dog. I found it funny that I am one sometimes.” Sirius said. 

“Does it not hurt?” Hope asked. Sirius shook his head.

“I can feel my magic if I focus on it. A lot of witches and wizards can, once they know what to look for. When I hold my wand, my magic responds, and it all stems from somewhere in here,” Sirius put a hand to the space under his ribs. “Being an Animagus is a bit like that. It’s a different kind of magic, something that I don’t need my wand for, but it’s nestled there beside my regular magic. I can just reach down into that spot and grab it and it makes me change. It’s relieving, like when I cast a spell.” 

“There’s still so much I don’t know about your world. It amazes me. All of these things are so normal for you, but they’re incredible to me.” Hope said. She began to put food that had been sizzling away for the last few minutes onto two plates.

“Arthur is a bit like that with Muggle stuff. He loves it, he’s so fascinated by it all.” Remus said, smiling slightly. “I was lucky enough to grow up with both Muggle and wizard stuff, and things still surprise me all the time.” 

“You should show me more of it, Remus. I want to be a part of this world, for your sake.” Hope suggested, handing both Remus and Sirius plates. 

“I’d love to,” Remus said, and Sirius could hear from the tone of his voice that that sentence was one of the most valuable sentences Remus’ mother had ever said to him. 

    ~

Remus dodged the stream of light Sirius sent his way. Blue … it’s a Disarmer. He’ll have to try harder than that. 

TarantallegraStupefyPetrificus TotalusExpelliarmusLocomotor Mortis. Remus fired off five spells in a row.

Today, the pressure was on for Sirius. He wasn’t at his best, he was distracted. ThereHe readjusts himself, broadens his shoulders when he’s about to throw a spell. 

Remus had a shield up before the light had even fully left Sirius’ wand and Remus could tell he was confused about how he’d gotten it up so quickly.

Incarcerous, Remus thought, and with that, Sirius’ distraction and confusion was his downfall, and his arms became trapped beside him, legs tied tightly together. 

“Alright, Rem, you win this one.” He called, and there was something hidden, something layered under those words. 

Remus knew that tone of voice, knew what was coming. 

He strode to Sirius, tapped the ropes with his wand, letting them fall away.

Sirius picked his wand up from where it had slipped out of his grasp and smiled. It was fake, of course, all for a show, and Sirius knew that Remus could see right through it. 

“I’m gonna go put some of my own clothes on. I know how much you love these.” Was all Sirius said, gesturing to the pair of tracksuit bottoms and oversized jumper, the sleeves pushed up to his elbows to prevent them hanging over his knuckles. 


“Sirius, you know I don’t mind if you wear them. I’m only teasing when I mention it.” Remus said softly. “Besides, oversized clothes is a good look on you. It reminds me of being at Hogwarts again. You used to do it then, as well. Do you remember?” Sirius frowned and then nodded. He walked off in the direction of his tent. 

Harry caught Remus’ eye and Remus just gave him a reassuring smile. 

“Do you think someone should go and talk to him?” Harry asked quietly, approaching Remus. 

“I’m not sure. I don’t always get it right. Sirius’ moments come spontaneously. I just have to give him space and wait for a response. Sometimes I get one, and others I don’t. Sometimes he’s claustrophobic and non-verbal, other times he needs pressure and closeness. If you want to, maybe you could check on him. No pressure, of course. But maybe it’ll help him, having you near, so he can find his way back to us.” Remus said. 

“We’re the only ones who can do that, aren’t we? He doesn’t trust anyone else.” Harry said softly. 

“He trusts a lot of people. But he trusts us the most to see him for who he is beyond his family, beyond the wealth and the power and that damn grin he always puts on, the one that hides what he’s feeling from those who don’t know where to look.” 

“I don’t want him to suffer. I don’t want him to feel like he only has one person to lean on.” Harry said.

Remus smiled.

“You get more like your dad every day. He said something very similar to me once when Sirius left his parent's house.” Remus told him, ruffling Harry’s hair fondly. “Go on, smile at him and sit with him a while. He might be a bit quiet, but he’ll come round if you talk to him softly.” 

Remus watched as Harry disappeared into Sirius’ tent before trying to distract himself from the worry in his chest.
 
As long as Harry was there, Sirius would be okay, and he would come back to them.

~

Sirius didn’t even know what had caused it. He was duelling with Remus, something that usually helped him be rid of his tension. Harry and his friends had been watching. The twins were duelling not too far away, but the amazement in Harry’s eyes as Sirius and Remus responded to each other effortlessly had made Sirius feel proud. 

And then some sinking feeling in his stomach had set in, and Sirius had felt like crying. Duelling was supposed to take this feeling away, was supposed to distract him, and Sirius knew that Remus saw something different in the way he was responding to spells. 

He had straightened himself slightly, trying to brave it out, sending a spell towards Remus. It had barely left his wand when Remus had a shield up and was sending Incarcerous. Remus wasn’t to know that he was in this mood, wasn’t always able to see it until it was too late. 

But Remus had noticed something in the way he’d spoken, had released the ropes and had tried to reassure him.

And, like how Remus could spot the change, Sirius could tell that Remus’ own anxieties had been strong all morning, from the worry about their hickeys showing, to the way he’d been talking to Kingsley, the way he held himself over breakfast, the way he fiddled with his wand absentmindedly, an old habit that he never realized that he did, but always meant the same thing. 

It was a bad morning for the both of them, despite how happy they had been when they’d woken up.

Sirius didn’t need to change clothes, not in the slightest. If anything, all he wanted to do was curl up in Remus’ clothes and never leave. He felt safe like this. But he didn’t know how to get rid of this … feeling. 

It happened less now. A lot less than it had when he’d first escaped from Azkaban, where he could hear Remus holding back the tears as he tried to convince Sirius to eat, to sleep, to do anything. He was okay now. 

Ever since getting his pardon, he was able to go out, clear his head if he needed to. 

Sirius wasn’t supposed to feel like this anymore. He had everything he needed. The idea that this might be his life now, something that he might always have to endure, made his chest tighten.

He had one hard and fast rule when it came down to these moods of his. Do not act on anything. All he had to do was wait it out. He might feel like this now, but if he gave himself time, he’d be okay. If he focused on something in front of him, something real, the moment and the feeling would change.

He just had to wait. 

    ~

Harry had gone to talk to Sirius and had found Sirius sitting on his and Remus’ bed, staring off into space with a blank expression. 
From how Remus had been speaking, this was almost a regular occurrence, where Sirius seemed to put on a show in front of people, tried to make it look like he was fine when he was struggling.
 
Harry took a seat beside Sirius and looked at him, not sure what to say. 

“Sirius?” he asked softly. “I don’t understand what you’re going through, what happens when you get nightmares that make you scared of everyone, but you don’t have to hide away when you do feel those things. I know you haven’t had it easy, you haven’t for a long time, but you don’t have to be scared or ashamed. You don’t just have me and Remus, we’re not the only people who love you. We’re not the only ones who think of you as a friend or as part of our family. You know that, right?” 

Sirius was quiet for a few seconds. But now there was a frown on his face as if he was aware that someone was there, but wasn’t quite sure if it was real. Harry knelt in front of Sirius, trying to be in his line of sight, trying to be something for Sirius to focus on. “Sirius, you aren’t alone.” 

“Harry,” Sirius said quietly. Relief washed over Harry. “I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t apologize. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t know how you’d feel about it or if Remus has already mentioned it, but there are Muggle medicines that might help you.” Harry said.

“I don’t think so. It’s all up here. There’s nothing wrong with me physically.” Sirius pointed to his head and frowned hard. 

“Muggles can treat a whole load of things. They don’t always cure it, but it makes things easier to deal with long enough for you to help yourself. I can speak to Remus for you if you want. I can put it in terms he’ll understand. He’ll know what it means.” Harry told him. 

“I don’t know. I – I think I just need to think about it. Maybe I’ll say something to him later. Maybe there’s something in an old textbook we used to use for treating injuries. Thank you, though. I just … I need a few more minutes if it’s okay? Just to make sure that I can handle being out there without lashing out.”

Sirius was still quiet and Harry nodded, hesitant about leaving him, but knowing that he’d done something to try and help.

Sirius stayed the way he was for a little longer, almost ten more minutes. He shifted into Padfoot during that time and could almost smell the anxiety from Remus as he sat outside. 

There were voices and laughter and so much fun going on outside and Sirius just had to remember what this trip away was supposed to be. A chance to relax during the summer, to spend some time with his friends, with Harry, before school started again and before things got hectic again. 

And then the laughter faded, and there was a sharp noise as someone Apparated. Sirius couldn’t put his finger on the smell, but it was familiar. He jumped off the bed and left the tent, still as Padfoot. 

    ~

Remus felt sick. This wasn’t an ‘it’s nearly the full moon’ sick, but sick from worry, sick from anxiety. With Snape’s arrival, it had been made worse. Molly had informed Dumbledore, McGonnagall, Snape and Flitwick, all other members of the Order, of where they were going and that they’d set up an Apparation point nearby, sent with a picture of where they would be for easy travel. 

Snape showing up could only mean that something was wrong. And then Sirius had come out of the tent as Padfoot, clearly smelling something, and Remus had almost felt lightheaded at it all. 

Sirius growled when he saw Snape and the Potions professor just smirked.

“It seems camping brings out the wildness in people. Is this what you got up to as a little Welsh child, Lupin? Let wild animals sniff around your stuff? I guess the rumours of Welsh people and animals are true. You do get up to some obscene activities with them.” Snape sneered. 

“And will you ever decide to stop being a snivelling little toad, Severus? Did you know that Sirius and I have bets on how greasy you can let your hair get before it just falls out completely?” Remus snapped.

He couldn’t be patient with Snape today. He would hate himself for being so unkind later, but Severus just couldn’t let go of grudges and Remus couldn’t cope with it when his chest felt like it would explode.

Remus had tried to come across as nonchalant, but he knew his foot was tapping excessively, fingers anxiously tapping against the arm of his chair as if playing the piano, something he used to do in the Shack, waiting for his transformations to begin. 

And then Sirius was at his side, sitting in the seat beside him as a human. Remus almost wished that he was still Padfoot. Sirius always encouraged Remus to stroke Padfoot’s fur to keep his hands busy and ease his mind whenever he was feeling on edge, but Remus found just as much comfort in having Sirius beside him as a human now. Sirius wouldn’t let him deal with Severus alone. 

“If your pockets weren’t so scarce of money, I would believe that you had a bet with Black. But everyone knows your kind could barely afford to buy an apartment, even if you all banded together.” Snape said. 

Remus clenched his jaw. His financial situation was always a touchy subject. He got paid for Order missions, but not nearly enough. He had to put all of it aside into his Gringotts vault, ready and waiting for when the war was over and he knew he would struggle once again. 

“Would you look at that? All those painful-looking marks, Black. I wonder where you got them from? Your hair doesn’t cover them all, just like it didn’t at school,” Snape drawled, clearly knowing exactly where the marks had come from. “And it looks like Lupin has some to match, though he’s tried valiantly to hide them. It must be all that mindless possessiveness. You two really are like your animal counterparts, aren’t you?” 

Sirius bolted up and Remus could tell he was about to shift into Padfoot again to leap at Severus with sharp teeth and claws, but Remus had expected it and was up at the same time, standing in front of Sirius and holding him back. 

Not now, Padfoot. He wants you to throw the first punch so that you'll get in trouble with Albus for fighting with other Order members.” Remus grunted, doing his best to contain a very bony and very strong Sirius. 

“Let me at him, Moony! I’ll hit him hard enough to give him a broken nose and a missing tooth. He won’t be so brave then. He doesn't even deserve to have this settled with magic.” Sirius growled. 

“Oh for Merlin’s sake, will you three give the testosterone-filled pissing contest a rest?! You’ve been at each other’s necks for the last twenty-five years, does it not get boring to keep re-hashing your schoolboy rivalry?!” Molly exclaimed. “Sirius, will you sit down and stop behaving like a child!” 

Sirius struggled for a few more seconds before giving up, still glaring towards Snape. 

“You heard Molly, sit down.” Remus encouraged, reluctantly sitting down again. Sirius followed, looking moody. 

“What’s happened, Severus?” Arthur asked.

“There’s been a break-in at Grimmauld Place. You’re all lucky you weren’t there. They tried to ransack the place. It was coordinated, about fifteen people at once against the wards. The house put up a good fight, though. I don’t think any of them realized the kind of power that place holds. It’s a mess, but it doesn’t look like there was anything of value gathered. It was Death Eaters. They left an infestation of Boggarts, trapped in boxes and let loose into some of the wardrobes and cupboards on the first floor and in the attic. It’s probably something to distract us. We need to be careful in getting rid of them.” Snape informed them.

There were a series of curses and groans around the group at the announcement. 

“Why is there a Muggle in your midst? You haven’t been breaking the Statute of Secrecy, have you? Tut tut, how quickly the good guys start breaking rules.” Snape taunted. 

“Relax, Severus. These are my parents, they live nearby. I invited them here. My mother already knows about magic.” Remus ground out. 

Snape sneered at that and Disapparated away, probably slinking back to the Hogwarts grounds to take solace in the dungeons. 

“Moony,” Remus looked over to Sirius, who was holding a packet of cigarettes out to him in one hand, one already in Sirius’ own hand. 

“Where did you pull those out from? I didn't know you'd taken up smoking again.” Remus asked. “You can't have been smoking in Azkaban, there's no way to sneak them in.” Sirius shrugged, seemingly okay at the mention of the prison. Remus was relieved at that. He hated mentioning it, hated the effect it had on Sirius.


“I bought them one night a few weeks ago when you were away on a mission overnight. I couldn’t sleep, I was too antsy, so I went to that little Muggle shop down the road and got them.” Sirius said.

Remus sighed and took one, putting it in his mouth and letting it hang there while he rooted around in his pockets for his wand. Sirius put the packet away. 

Remus hadn’t smoked in a long time either. He'd quit a few months after Sirius had gone to Azkaban. They had both smoked the same brand of cigarettes. Smelling them, or even looking at the packet, always sent him into a tailspin, making him lose his breath and head spin. 

When Remus found his wand, he tapped on the end of the cigarette lightly, trying to ignite it.

He tried a few times and then cursed under his breath. The older members of the Order to whispering together, clearly trying to think of what to do. The students were sending glances their way, tilting their heads slightly and frowning, seeing another first from their old professor.

How jarring it must all be, Remus thought, to be taught by a man for a whole year and see an entirely different side to him now that he doesn’t work there. 

“Oh, for goodness sake, Remus, really?! Smoking?” Hope asked. 

“Sorry, Mum. They help ease the anxiety a little.” Remus responded, holding a hand up and showing her how much he was shaking.
 
Hope and Lyall knew how much Remus had always struggled with anxiety.

He’d had it from a young age and it had never quite faded. Being a werewolf, and then realizing that he wasn't straight had impacted his life hugely. All of the hiding had caused quite severe anxiety. It was better now, Sirius helped, but it lingered still.

Hope pursed her lips, Lyall frowning at the cigarette. He’d always hated Remus’ smoking habits. It was always something else for him to worry about.

“Sirius, have you got a lighter? I can’t ignite the bloody thing.” Remus asked, shoving his wand back into his pocket and looking back to Sirius, his cigarette still hanging out of his mouth.

Sirius was in the process of lighting his own cigarette and Remus leant closer, letting Sirius hold the ignited lighter up to the end of the paper and the slight bit of tobacco poking out from it. 

When his cigarette finally lit, Remus took a long drag and blew out the smoke, taking the cigarette out of his mouth and flicking some of the excess ash onto the floor. He coughed slightly and winced at the taste. 

“You still smoke like an amateur.” Sirius teased. 

“I haven't smoked since you went away. The packet and the - the smell ... it just reminded me of you and it hurt too much. It took a few months, but eventually, I stopped.” Remus shrugged.

His second drag of the cigarette was much better and less strong. Something was comforting about it, something familiar that settled in his stomach. 

This almost felt like the times the Marauders would sit by the Black Lake, lounging against each other and smoking under one of the trees, trying to hide the smoke from teachers that wondered by occasionally and ignoring the looks from other students as they passed.

“We should head back to Grimmauld Place,” Moody said. Sirius made a noise of protest, gesturing to the cigarettes he and Remus had just lit up. “We don’t have time for smoking breaks, Black! How are you not more worried that your home has been broken into?!”
 
“Because Snivellus said that there wasn’t anything of value taken. Even if he hadn’t had said it, I know that house like the back of my hand. It has a magic of its own, it's safe, even with the wards around it. It would recognise intruders, even if those intruders were my cousins. It knows they're not the heirs and would fight back.” 

“Do you honestly think Bella and Cissa would’ve tried to break in?” Andromeda asked. 

“Do you really think they wouldn’t?” Sirius retorted. “Don’t be naïve, 'Dromeda. You know your sisters are too far gone to be against breaking and entering. They've done worse and will continue to do so.” 

“You don’t think that, do you? What if this was Regulus? Would you be so unforgiving?” 

“He made his choice long ago. I tried to help, but after he started going around with his Junior Death Eater buddies at Hogwarts that would throw hexes and curses at me if I ever tried to talk to him; when he showed that he would rather choose our manipulative family’s ideas over the brother that took all the beatings at home so he didn’t have to, it was clear that there was nothing else I could do.” Sirius said. 

“I don’t believe that you've forgotten all the love you had for him ... not for a second,” Andromeda said indignantly. 

“Of course I love him! He’s my baby brother. I’m as protective of him as you are of Cissa, as protective as Bella was to you both once. But at some point, you have to focus on your own survival. This wretched family of ours is cursed. You and I got lucky. We followed Uncle Alphard’s footsteps and got out while we still could. Don’t try to reason with them. They’ll kill you, just like Reg would do to me if he were somehow still alive. If my parents, Uncle Cygnus and Aunt Druella were alive, they would be beside your sisters trying to kill us both.” Sirius said. 

"You're wrong, Sirius. My parents loved all three of us. They wouldn't have been able to bear hurting us. Uncle Orion and Aunt Walburga wouldn't have killed you either." Andromeda said quietly. 

"If you really believe that, then you're a fool. My parents never loved me. I was their biggest regret. If they loved me, they wouldn't have blasted me off the tapestry. Regulus ratted me out like I was doing something wrong by being friends with Remus, and that's all it took for them to disown me. If Uncle Cygnus and Aunt Druella loved you like you childishly still believe, they wouldn't have extended you the same courtesy."

He took one last drag and put his cigarette out on the arm of his chair, the conversation clearly over in his eyes. 

“Let's get packing, folks. It’s a shame we have to wrap things up so quickly, but we need to get started on this infestation of Boggarts.” Kingsley said, trying to diffuse the situation, standing and making his way to the tent he shared with Moody and the Tonks’.

Remus looked sadly down at his cigarette, taking a long, deep drag of it and flicking it onto the floor, standing and rubbing it into the ground. 

“Harry, Ron, Hermione, you might want to grab your things from the tent. Sirius and I will collapse it.” 

Collapsing the tents was a lot easier than putting them up. Remus and Sirius had an incredibly easy time flattening it and rolling it back up.

“If you two ever want to come up to London, you’re more than welcome,” Molly said, giving Lyall and Hope a parting hug. “We could always use the extra wand and another girl in the house. Merlin knows the boys get on my nerves.” Hope smiled. 

“Maybe we can come up in a few weeks, stay until the wedding. I don’t think I could do too much of that Apparating business. It’d be nice to see more of my husband and son’s world. But only if you have space.” She said.

“There’s plenty of space at Grimmauld Place. Remus and I alternate between his and my room on the first floor, so one is always empty. We can clear one of them out for you and finally settle in the other.” Sirius said, joining in the conversation. He gave Hope a hug and shook Lyall’s hand. 

“Sounds like a good idea. Keep my boy safe until then, Sirius.” Lyall said. Sirius nodded. 

“Nice to know you have faith in me, Dad. I think I’m perfectly capable of keeping myself safe.” Remus laughed from where he was fiddling with his bag a few feet away. “Besides, Sirius is the reckless one. I’m always keeping him out of trouble.” 

“More like you’re always enabling me. You’re a terrible influence, Rem.” Sirius teased. Remus just rolled his eyes and gave both of his parents a parting hug. 

“Send Daisy whenever you want to come up. We’ll set up a meeting point nearby that you’ll recognize and one of us will come to get you and Apparate you past the wards.” Remus said. 

“We’ll see you soon, dear. Keep safe.” Hope said, kissing Remus on the cheek. 

"You too. Love you." Remus gave her a final smile, called over to Harry, Ron and Hermione, linked up to them and focused on Grimmauld Place.

Chapter Text

Remus sighed as he saw the state that the house was in. There was paper everywhere, chairs upturned, glasses and plates smashed and paintings left askew throughout the hallway.

“This is going to take a while.” He grumbled. Members of the Order began appearing around them, all Apparating into available space along the hallway and in the kitchen. 

“Right! Kids, you take the downstairs. Fred and George, you give them a hand with a touch of magic. Then we can work on the landing and the attic. The rest of us can get started on trying to clear out any mess upstairs.” Sirius announced.

“I thought we’d never have to clean this house again,” Remus said, following Sirius and the other adults up the stairs. 

“At least we’re not the only ones helping out this time. If we’re lucky, we should get everything sorted again within the next few days.” Sirius suggested.

The next few hours were spent clearing the first floor. The Death Eaters had briefly ventured up into the attic, but hadn’t done anything else but plant a particularly large chest. 

There were a padlock and chain wrapped around it tightly, seemingly made of gold, or at least brass or copper that had been tinted that colour. Death Eaters had a flair for the dramatics, but wasting gold on a chest designed to keep a Boggart in didn’t seem like the kind of thing for them to do.

Everyone was gathered, even the students, trying to figure out a way to move it without setting off some kind of dark magic, or trying their best charms to discern what was inside. 

They’d tried the combined magic of Sirius, Remus and Moody, had tried different combinations of spells, different kinds of wands, one person on their own, trying pairs and trios, older wizards and witches.

They’d even tried with the younger members of the Order. In a house of magic, they likely wouldn’t get into trouble for casting simple spells, they wouldn’t set off much of a signal to the Tracing mechanisms. 

They’d tried everything, and yet … it wouldn’t open.

Moody pointed his wand at it and frowned. “It just seems like a regular old Boggart, but something doesn’t seem right. It’s too large for that.” 

“Maybe there’s two.” The twins suggested.

“Boggarts don’t work in twos. The stronger one would have absorbed the other.” Moody replied.
 
“Could they have just put loads of Boggarts into one chest and let one absorb all the others?” Harry asked. 

“No. It would’ve been too dangerous to transport, it would’ve broken out. A simple padlock and chain wouldn’t be enough to contain it. There’s something about these chains though, and the padlock, it’s got … something about it that doesn’t quite seem right.” 

Remus stepped forward, kneeling down and getting a closer look. 

“Remus, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Arthur’s voice was thick with worry.

“I’m a resident expert on all things dark magic, am I not?” Remus asked, sending a reassuring smile and a joking tone to his comment. “These chains look old. They have magic on them, but I don’t think it’s complicated. Maybe we just need to try a simple unlocking charm.” 

“We’ve tried that already. You saw us do it. It hasn’t worked.” Molly said. 

“Maybe they know Andromeda has aligned herself with us and they’ve designed it to respond to them alone. Sirius and Andromeda are seen as blood traitors just like all of the pure-bloods in this room, but they’re still Blacks and therefore noble. It sounds like something Death Eaters might do.” Remus replied, standing and facing the group. 

Sirius and Andromeda looked at each other nervously before standing together.

Remus moved out of the way and they both pointed their wands at the chest. There was a slight clicking noise and they lowered their wands hesitantly. It had been that easy. Somehow, it had taken them a good hour of trying various techniques to reach this conclusion. 

And yet, it didn’t quite feel right … didn’t quite feel safe. Remus went to touch the padlock, but Sirius put a hand on his shoulder, frowning hard. Remus could tell that he didn’t trust the simplicity of it all.

“It’s just a Boggart hidden behind a padlock and chains. Nothing I haven’t faced already. Moody, how’s it looking? I can’t pick up on any dark magic. Can you?” Remus said, hoping the second opinion would put Sirius’ mind at rest. Moody pointed at the chest with his wand again, waited a few seconds and then shook his head. 

“Nothing.” He confirmed. 

“See? Nothing to worry about. It’s completely safe.” Remus gave Sirius a small smile and crouched, reaching out with both hands to tug on the padlock, expecting it to fall away easily. 

The moment his hands touched the metal, searing heat seeped into his hands, lighting up the pain sensors under his skin, and Remus cried out, dropping the padlock, standing and trying to back away so abruptly that he lost his balance, falling back onto his arse and using his feet to scramble away from the chest. 

“Remus!” Sirius was knelt beside him, grabbing his wrists and trying to look at his palms.

Remus was holding them tightly to his chest. His whole body was tense at the burning sensation lingering in his veins, slowly making its way up into his wrists and forearms, slower than treacle and completely agonizing with every second that passed. “What is it? What’s wrong?” 

“Molly, do you have anything for burns and rashes?” Remus forced through gritted teeth.

“That didn’t look like a simple burn or a rash, Remus! What was it?” Molly exclaimed. “Was it a hex? A curse?” 

“No, nothing of the sort. The padlock and chains have been painted gold to hide the real metal they’re made of.” Remus said. He gestured to the chest, where the colour on the bindings of the chest had faded away, along with the chains, which were now laying on the floor.

“What do you mean, the real metal? Metals don’t cause that much pain without being cursed. Was there something in the paint? A poison?” Molly asked.

“They cause that much pain if you’re a werewolf,” Remus said. 

He could tell from the silence behind him that there was confusion spreading throughout the room at his comment. Remus fought to keep himself calm. He didn’t want to be explaining himself right now, not when his arms felt like they were burning from the inside out.

“The Death Eaters know I’m an expert in dark magic, they knew I’d likely be the one to volunteer to get rid of the chains once we’d figured out how to unlock them to avoid risking anyone else. So they painted the chains gold to hide what they were made of.” Remus hissed.

The pain resurfaced and made him grit his teeth in pain, forcing words through his teeth, trying to explain.

“They’re made of pure silver. They haven’t been mixed with anything else, not like regular chains, which are sometimes magically infused with steel or titanium, sometimes both, to make them stronger. I'm allergic to silver because of my lycanthropy. People experience it differently. To some, they get a temporary burn; to others, it’s a little more persistent. It always burns me, but it also makes my skin break out in a rash. The purer it is, the more severe the reaction. Hence the need for anti-burn ointment and rash cream.”
 
He clumsily, with shaking fingers, managed to push up the sleeves of his jumper, showing the bright red marks making their way up his arms and holding them up either side of his head, forearms facing behind him, showing Molly.

Molly was beside him in an instant, a tub of something in her hands, quickly spreading it across Remus forearms and arms.

The pain lessened slowly and, once the fast-acting cream had seeped into his skin, Remus thanked her and carefully stood, approaching the chest again, reaching out with his foot, getting the toe of his boot hooked underneath the latch, flipping it open and looking towards Sirius and Moody. 

Both of them grabbed either side of the lid and Remus reached for his wand.

His Boggart always took the form of the full moon in some capacity. Sometimes it changed if he cared about people, and then it would change to the full moon causing him to hurt those same people that he loved so much.

But his new Boggart had been the same for the twelve years that Sirius had been away. 

At least up until his days as a Hogwarts professor, Remus' Boggart had remained the same. He wasn’t expecting anything to have changed drastically in three years. 

When the lid of the chest was lifted, people immediately backed away towards the stairs to the loft, desperate not to get too close and interfere, and to not have their fears broadcast to everyone else in the room. Remus gripped his wand tighter, waiting for the moon to show. 

The Boggart seemed to deliberate for a moment and then morphed into the image of Sirius lying on the ground, staring at the sky with wide, unseeing eyes, an open mouth, a trail of blood coming out of his nose and mouth.

There was blood on his clothes, which were smarter than his usual attire. 

He’s wearing dress robes, Remus thought. 

And then the Boggart focused a little more and there were the Weasleys, and Harry was next to Sirius, Hermione and Ron close to Harry, the Tonks’, his parents, Moody, Kingsley, so many people that I love, all sprawled out, all in dress robes and beautiful dresses stained with blood and gore. 

And there was Remus, standing in the middle of it all with wild hair and sharp canines, sharper than they were usually. 

There was blood on his hands, covering the familiar ring on his left hand, spread across his dress robes, with the silhouette of the moon glowing silver behind him, looking almost reminiscent of a halo, casting shards of moonlight cascading across the bodies around Remus' feet, making the blood stand out more. 

Remus was breathless. This was new.

It was almost like the Boggart he’d had at school, terrified of hurting his friends during the full moon. That fear had changed Halloween night in 1981 and hadn’t changed since.

But this ... this was worse. This was bloodier. This was way more gruesome than it had been all those years ago.

He hadn’t had to worry about hurting those close to him in a long time. He'd been so lonely for so many years. 

This new Boggart highlighted how much he had to lose. He’d made the same mistakes he had twenty-five years ago and now put them all in danger. And they were all in dress robes.

I’ll kill them at the wedding, less than a week after October’s full moon, Remus thought dully, and the thought made his stomach turn. 

Somewhere, deep down, the wolf rose in response to that thought. He was weak. The full moon was another three weeks away yet, but Moony was there, under Remus’ skin, and called for blood and violence.

Remus was distantly aware of someone saying his name, but it sounded ... wrong, almost hollow.

And that was when he realized that he was having a panic attack, when he focused in on the rest of his body and how it was reacting.

His heart was racing and his head spun from lack of air, from where he’d been holding it when the Boggart surfaced. His vision was blurred and he forced himself to start breathing again.

But these weren’t normal breaths. These were deep gasps, desperate gulps of air that one might make if they’d been drowning.

Remus usually dealt with these away from everyone else. He hadn't had a big one like this in a while. His last few had been smaller ones, manifesting in restlessness and rocking. Sirius had always been there to calm him down.

Remus tried to get himself to focus. His hands felt numb and he realized that he’d dropped his wand. 

I’m going to die in this musty attic. I’m going to die, but I’ll see James and Lily again. Did I do right by them? Do they think less of me for not trying to free Sirius sooner? Have I failed them? Will they reject me?

Molly was at his arm then, forcing Remus to jolt back to reality. Remus could tell it was because he was shaking and unsteady on his feet. He could now feel how much he was swaying on legs that were almost ready to collapse, and he was sure his face had drained of all colour. Molly was trying to make sure he didn't fall. 

He was cold, shaking, and his teeth chattered like it was the middle of winter. Harry was holding onto his other arm tightly, with a concerned frown written across his face.

Remus saw Sirius stood in front of him, and saw the Boggart change to the image of Remus coughing up blood, clutching his stomach. 

Remus watched the Boggart version of himself collapse to his knees, reach out with a hand, saw the pleading in his green eyes.

And then the hand dropped, with no one there reaching back, saw the light dying as he collapsed onto his side, curled in on himself, and then one last breath was rattled out, and the image of Sirius was there, just a moment too late. 

“Riddiukulus!” Sirius stated strongly. 

The Boggart shifted then, and instead of Sirius weeping over Remus’ body, there was instead Remus pushing Sirius' face into a cake as he was leaning in to take a bite from a slice. 

Sirius laughed, and it sounded wet … like he was trying to force back the tears. The Boggart vanished then, having been defeated.
 
Sirius slammed the lid of the chest shut and Remus sagged. His legs had turned to jelly. 

His knees didn’t hit the rough and dusty wooden boards of the attic floor, though. There were strong arms around his waist, and multiple hands trying to steady him. 

“Hang on. Back off a bit, give him a chance to breathe.” Sirius was saying.

Remus weakly brought his hands to Sirius’ shoulders, trying to get his feet underneath him again, trying to force himself to stand. 

"Sirius, it's a new Boggart. I haven't learned, I never learn, I'm too close to people, I'm going to hurt them, I'm too dangerous." Remus whimpered. 

Remus tried to force himself to believe that it was all fine, that nothing was wrong, but he knew it wasn’t alright in the slightest. It was all going to go wrong again. 

He would lose them all again because he was silly and naïve enough to believe that he could love unconditionally as a werewolf without suffering the consequences.

“Come on, Rem, stop being stubborn and sit down. Stop trying to force it away. Let it happen. You don’t have to do it alone anymore.” Sirius said gently. 

Remus’ knees gave way again and Sirius grunted slightly, lowering them both to the floor.

“There we go. It’s okay. We’re going to handle this just like how we handle our nightmares and our dark days. We breathe and don’t force each other away. We take it one step at a time and don’t act on our worst feelings. Why don’t we do that, Remus?” Sirius asked.

He cupped Remus' face and gently tracing the scars across his cheeks, over the bridge of his nose, the one that cut through his eyebrow and the one that ran diagonally across his mouth.


“Because no matter how bad we may feel at one moment, the moment will pass. You just have to wait for it.” Remus breathed. 

His breath hitched, and he made a strained sobbing noise. So he obeyed his first instinct, which was to clap a hand over his mouth and clamp his eyes shut, forcing the tears back. 

“Eyes on me, love. No shutting each other out. We sit and do this together. Being close to other people is not a bad thing, no matter what lies that silly brain of yours tries to convince you of. We dealt with this fear years ago. We'll get rid of it this time. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, I’m right here beside you until it’s over.” Sirius pulled him close, letting Remus hold onto him tightly. “I’m right here, Moony. Always.” 

Remus was vaguely aware of retreating footsteps, knew that people were leaving, giving them space and privacy, and Remus knew that Sirius had gestured for them to head back downstairs when he couldn’t see it.

For that, he was grateful. He didn’t need everyone seeing all of his worst moments. He didn’t want his struggle to be broadcast to everyone. 

He just needed Sirius.

~

Remus didn’t know how long it lasted. It could’ve been minutes or it could’ve been hours and it would’ve felt the same to him.

Sirius held him throughout it all, the same as he always did. 

Remus could hear the others downstairs, casting spells, thumping around, getting rid of the Boggarts, cleaning. 

He was self-conscious that he was hidden away from everyone up in the attic, frightened over something as simple as a Boggart, something that he had taught Harry, Ron and Hermione to face with a steady hand three years ago. 

And yet he had gotten scared by it, so startled by the change that he saw. 

What example did that set? He should be down there helping. 

When the trembling stopped, the tears dried and Remus’ legs began to cramp as they remained tucked beneath him, Remus and Sirius continued to sit in silence, breathing in time and taking in their surroundings.

For a long time, he had been sat pressed against Sirius’ side, legs awkwardly folded beneath him, head on Sirius’ shoulder. Sirius had an arm wrapped around his shoulders and had leaned his head gently against Remus, placing soft kisses into Remus’ hair. 

“How do you feel?” Sirius whispered.

“Better,” Remus whispered back. “I need to go back downstairs and help everyone.” 

“No, you don’t.” 

“Sirius, I can’t just stay holed up here with you for the rest of the day, as nice as that sounds,” Remus said, sitting up properly and stretching his legs out, wincing slightly. 

“And you can’t just go downstairs and pretend like everything is okay. That Boggart took a lot out of you. You need to rest.” 

“It’s a Boggart, it’s nothing!” Remus exclaimed, gathering his feet under him and trying to stand. 

He wobbled slightly, trying to keep his balance, and Sirius was there, holding onto his arm.

“Remus, please.” Sirius pleaded, eyes imploring. “You’re always telling me we aren’t teenagers anymore, that we can’t go charging into things without thinking. That applies to you too. Your Boggart has changed for the first time in nearly two decades and panic attacks take a lot of energy. You need to rest. I can see the fatigue in your eyes, you can barely stand.”

Remus sighed. He knew Sirius was right. 

“I don’t remember ever being this tired as a younger man.” He stated. “I’ll lie down for an hour. Promise you’ll wake me.” 

“I promise. No more than an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.” Sirius said. 

Sirius -”

“I’m kidding!” Sirius laughed. “Come on, let’s see if you can brave the stairs.” 

~

“How’s Lupin?” Ginny asked as Sirius rejoined some of the Order in the kitchen. 

“He’s a little shaken up and embarrassed about how scared he got, but he’s okay,” Sirius said. “His Boggart has changed since I went away. He’s gotten used to the full moon on its own in his Boggart, he’s not had to be scared of hurting anyone in a long time.”

“Does that happen often? Him getting so panicked?” Hermione inquired worriedly. Sirius smiled. 

Hermione seemed to get along well with Remus. 

Sirius’ breath was almost punched out of him every time he saw them talking about a book or some Muggle thing that Sirius didn’t understand, thinking how similar Hermione was to Lily and how much younger Remus seemed when he was talking to her, almost as if the last fifteen years had never happened and Lily was still here. 

“More than you’d think. Some Muggle healer told him he had severe anxiety years ago, back when we were teenagers. He’d be the first to admit it if he were asked, he tries very hard not to be ashamed of it. His parents are paranoid when it comes to his health and thought he’d developed some kind of breathing problem. Ass-me, or something like that-”

“Do you mean asthma?” Hermione asked with a smile. Sirius frowned. 

“I think so.” He said. “Anyway, it turns out Remus has a panic disorder too. The panic attacks look like what he had just now in the attic. The anxiety ones make him look restless. He doesn’t even realize he’s doing any of it most of the time. I keep telling him that he gets them often because he refuses to ask for help and doesn’t put himself first. But he feels like a burden if he does. Remus is very stubborn like that, he always has been.” Sirius said fondly.

“You’re just the same, Sirius, you’re both as bad as each other. No wonder you two struggle so much. I think you both forget that not everyone can read you like each other,” Molly said, smiling kindly at him. “Does he need anything?”

“No, he’s fine. I convinced him to sleep for a little while. Neither of us slept very well last night, maybe that’s what got him so on edge.” Sirius said, beginning to busy himself with stacking some plates in the cupboards alongside Molly.

“I wonder why.” Molly mused quietly.

Sirius looked at her and noticed when her eyes flicked down to his neck. He cursed himself under his breath but tried to school his features to remain neutral. 

“What can I say? A quick fumble around in the dark does wonders for the self-esteem. It helps to think we’re still attractive enough for that kind of thing.” Sirius joked, lowering his voice to avoid being overheard. He let his voice return to its usual volume as he continued. “Especially when you’re as old and tired as Remus and I.”

“You’re a drama queen,” Molly stated. “You two aren’t even forty yet and you both act as if you’re Albus’ age.” 

“We may as well be, with the amount of crap that we’ve been through. It’s aged us horribly. I’m already getting grey streaks and wrinkles. That shouldn’t be happening for another ten years yet!” Sirius complained. “Maybe we should invest in a de-ageing potion. Do you think Snape would make one for us both?” 

“De-ageing potions only work for so long. And it’s no good dwelling on the past. You and Remus have your whole future to look forward to. Trying to regain your youth will only make you bitter.” 

“Yeah, well, we thought we had our whole future ahead of us twenty years ago and look what happened,” Sirius said darkly.

The house groaned slightly, the shadows in the corners of the room where the lights didn’t reach growing as Sirius felt the sadness creep in.

People looked over nervously. They’d begun to understand that the house’s happenings and Sirius’ moods were intertwined. 

“Sirius, I’m sorry, you know what I mean,” Molly said, putting a hand on his arm comfortingly. 

Sirius smiled falsely and made himself remember the first time he met James and Remus, their first feast together, their first night in the dormitory, their first trip to Hogsmeade.

Memories like that seemed to counteract his sadness and the tension the house created.

Things began to settle again and the hairs that had been standing up on Sirius’ neck flattened. 

“Maybe just once, then.” Sirius compromised. “Maybe we could do it for our wedding day.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea? Won’t it be upsetting?” Molly asked. 

“Why should it be upsetting? We were supposed to get married when we left Hogwarts but couldn’t because the war broke out and we were two of the strongest duellers. We were needed. Now’s our chance to go back and resolve it.” Sirius was getting excited now. 

If they could go back, even if it was only on a surface level, maybe it would give Sirius a chance to let go of the person he’d been before Azkaban.

He’d noticed the change in Remus, like there had been some kind of pressure lifted off his shoulders, replaced with more contentedness than there had been in years. 

Sirius had seen the moment, while they were sat around the campfire, that damned lip ring – which had been incredibly distracting for Sirius and had now, thankfully, been taken out – resting against his lip, that Remus had seemed to let their friends go, had laid his grief and his sorrow to rest. 

Sirius ached for that. He didn’t want to prolong his misery and unhappiness anymore. He wanted this to be a fresh start.

Sirius had thought that he hadn’t been ready to let it all go yet. But the truth was, he was ready. He had been for a long time. He was just scared of the man that he was without those feelings.

What else did he have? If things went wrong in his life, he would have no one else to blame but himself without those feelings and that weight on his shoulders. 

He didn’t even know how to begin. He’d already come so far thanks to Remus, but how did he finish the job? 

How did he just lay it all down and take a step back, let his life resume? 

James and Lily would’ve wanted that. And yet, Sirius, who had always prided himself on knowing exactly what was going on in James’ mind and how he operated, he now didn’t know how to give that final gift of peace in death to them.

But this could be the final piece of the puzzle. 

He still wished he could be the man Remus remembered more days than he didn’t.

He hated the scars and the tattoos on his body, a lifetime brand of where he’d been, of the suffering that he’d faced, of the years he’d been away from Remus.

If he could go back to how he’d been, to how they’d both been, just for a day, then once the day was done, once the potion had worn off, he would be able to put that man to rest for good.

It would be accepting that, in a sense, he had done something that he’d longed for since before the first war broke out, something that had been snatched away from him then, but that he could solve now.

“Sirius-” but Sirius didn’t stick around to hear what else Molly had to say, he was already running back upstairs to grab some parchment and write a letter to Snape.

~

The last few weeks of summer drifted by uneventfully. 

The heat was stifling. The house didn’t have air conditioning, of course, but it provided a decent amount of shade and coolness with its naturally draughty rooms. 

“What time are you going to pick your parents up?” Sirius yawned. 

“Dad’s Apparating over to Oxford soon. He would’ve done it earlier, but he had to send that letter that came by earlier to say that the plan had changed. Mum’s been panicking about what she’s supposed to bring with her. She doesn’t want to wear clothes that aren’t ‘appropriate’ for the wizarding community.” Remus laughed. “I don’t think Dad is very good at explaining our world to her.”

“Bless her. Now I know why your favourite pastime is mothering everyone. You get it from Hope.” Sirius teased. 

“You’re a real prick sometimes, Sirius.” Remus laughed.

“And you’re a tosser.” Sirius shrugged.

“Prat.”

“Knob.” 

“Language!” Molly yelled from the kitchen. 

“Sorry, Molly!” They called in unison. 

A few of the children were sat with them in the living room, smirking up at the door when Molly had chided them. 

“I suppose I should start getting myself ready. They’ll be arguing in the street about whether or not they’re in the right place if I’m not there.” Remus sighed. 

He tapped Sirius’ legs, which were draped over Remus’ lap and Sirius moved them so Remus could stand up before spreading out again. 

Remus braced a hand on the back of the sofa, leaning down to give Sirius a brief kiss. 

“I’ll be back soon. Love you,” Remus said.

“See you in a bit, love. Stay safe, love you.” Sirius called as Remus left, burying his face in his copy of The Daily Prophet. 

Remus walked through into the hallway, grabbing a pair of shoes from the rack and sitting on the stairs to pull them on.

“Are you sure you want to go on your own? Wouldn’t it be safer to travel in a pair? What if something happens?” Molly asked. 

“Everything should be fine, Molly. My parents picked out our home because they didn’t want to be found by anyone from the wizarding community. Even if someone did find them there, no one is going to know they travelled to Oxford and met me there.” Remus said as he tied his shoelaces.

“Okay, well ... if you’re sure. Keep your wits about you, see you soon.” Molly said.

Remus gave her a reassuring smile and Disapparated, landing in a side alley in Oxford, a short walk from where he was due to meet his parents. 

Over an hour later, Remus and his parents arrived back at Grimmauld Place. 

Hope had been sick after getting to Oxford, so they’d had to rest, take a breather, and have a drink outside a coffee shop for a little while before they finished the trip. 

When they landed in the hallway, Hope wasn’t looking so pale. She was slowly getting used to the feeling of travelling by magic.

“I don’t know how you manage to do that again and again. It feels awful.” 

“It’s alright, Mum. You get used to it after a while.” Remus assured her. Footsteps hurried towards them and then Moody and Kingsley were in the doorway, wands drawn. Remus held up his hands. “It’s just us.” 

“You, James Potter, Sirius and Peter Pettigrew had silly little nicknames for each other while you were at school. What were those nicknames, your group name and the reasons behind it all?” Moody barked.

Remus clenched his jaw and swallowed. Very few people knew the whole story behind their nicknames. Most people just accepted that they’d never know everything, that the four of them kept their group secrets close to their hearts. 

But Moody knew. He’d asked Remus almost two years ago, and Remus had almost burst into tears, still overwhelmed at having Sirius with him, but glad that he wasn’t the only Marauder left anymore.

“We called ourselves the Marauders. We made a map of Hogwarts that we enchanted to be able to see the movements of anyone we wanted and all the secret passages we knew and named it after the group. We jokingly referred to ourselves as Messers Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.” Remus started.

Moody raised an eyebrow, gesturing for him to go on. Remus took a deep breath.

“I’m Moony. The others thought they were being funny by hiding my lycanthropy in plain sight. The other three, their nicknames relate to their Animagus forms, which they got illegally while we were in our fifth year so they could join me on the full moon. Peter is Wormtail, he's a rat. We always thought he was as quiet as a mouse before he got his Animagus. James was Prongs, a stag. His antlers looked like the prongs on a fork. Sirius is Padfoot, a dog. The pads of his paws are abnormally large, so we used to tease him for it.” Remus said, a small smile playing at the corners of his lips. 

Kingsley and Moody lowered their wands and Remus beckoned his parents through to the living room, where the three of them were met with warm welcomes. Sirius shot up from the sofa when he saw them, flinging himself at Remus. 

“Bloody hell, Rem! Where have you been? You’ve been gone ages!” he exclaimed. 

“Sorry, love. Mum’s not quite used to Apparating yet. We had to sit down and have a drink so she wouldn’t be sick. We’re fine, it was an easy journey.” Remus replied, pulling back.  

“Sirius almost had a heart attack waiting for you, he wouldn’t stop pacing,” Harry said from one of the armchairs.

”Sirius is a serial worrier.” Remus replied, grinning. Sirius punched his arm playfully. 

“Let me show you up to your room,” Sirius said to Hope and Lyall, giving them both a smile and leading the way back towards the stairs.

He tapped Remus’ parents’ trunks and they floated up the stairs towards the first floor, landing next to the door of what was originally Remus’ room, and Regulus’ before him, but had since been cleared of Remus’ belongings. 

“What a kiss ass,” Remus observed to no one in particular. 

“I heard that!” Sirius called. 

Remus grinned, deciding to take Sirius’ spot on the furniture, curling into the warmth and burying his face in the book he’d left on the floor by the leg of the sofa, happily settled.

He didn't know when he'd started considering Grimmauld Place a home rather than the house he stayed in, but at some point, his view had shifted and he couldn't imagine thinking of this place as anything but home, with its draughty corridors, its history, the way it creaked and groaned and the people that lived here alongside him. 

Remus couldn't imagine wanting anywhere else to be home. 

Chapter Text

Things felt different when Harry and his friends started Hogwarts again. It wasn't just the knowledge that Harry would be coming back to them at Christmas, and Easter, and the next summer holidays, and would be doing the same in his final year. 

This wasn’t the happy, fuzzy feeling that Sirius and Remus felt when they thought about the promise that they’d finally fulfilled to Lily and James. This was a different feeling altogether.

Something was ... wrong. Something had shifted in the world. It felt like the final pieces of the puzzle were finally beginning to fall into place. 

And Remus knew that he wasn’t the only one who thought so. He knew that others were beginning to sense that the endgame was coming sooner than they’d expected. It wasn’t imminent, but it was close enough.

Remus felt it sometimes, at random points during the day. 

Sirius always felt it, and the house got gloomier on the days where he struggled with it the most. Molly had to resort to using candles in every room in case the lights stopped working.

Kreacher, who usually moved around the house quietly and didn't bother people as much as he used to, began to prowl snarkily and complain under his breath more, coming out of the shadows to cast hateful glares at Sirius and Remus when he thought they couldn't see. 

He knew that Sirius' smattering of Seer blood was affecting the house, and also knew that there was the mating bond linking Sirius and Remus’ souls together, understanding that they were experiencing many of the same things, making everything much more potent. 

But Sirius’ mental health issues began to intertwine with the Seer’s blood in him and gave his nightmares new strength. 

So when Remus felt Sirius thrashing in his sleep one night, Remus was awake, his hands on Sirius’ shoulders and the lights on, always ready and always prepared. This was one of the nights where Remus had thought he’d gotten lucky. It took a lot to even get Sirius to take a sleeping draught or to let his eyes close long enough to fall asleep. It was almost like he’d just gotten out of Azkaban all over again. 

Sirius woke with a start, breathing heavily, wide eyes adjusting to the light and taking in Remus’ face for a few seconds before he realized that everything was alright. Remus let go of his shoulders and moved back, letting Sirius sit up properly. 

“Nightmare or vision?” Remus asked. 

“I don’t know.” Sirius’ was quiet … small, like he was scared of the prospect of not understanding his own brain, and Remus knew that that was exactly what he was feeling. Fear and confusion at whether he could trust what he was experiencing. “I can’t tell the difference anymore. Why did you get me to fall asleep, Remus? You know this always happens.”

“You’ll get worse if you don’t sleep. There have been studies into sleep deprivation, it causes hallucinations, paranoia. It makes people go insane. I don’t want that to happen to you.” 

“I’m already insane, Remus. You can’t get worse than me.” Sirius said. 

“Hey!” Remus’ sudden bark of anger came out harsher than he meant to and Sirius looked at him worriedly. Remus softened his tone when he continued. “You aren’t insane. Bellatrix is insane, but not you. You just … have a lot going on up there.” 

He slowly raised his hand and tapped softly on Sirius’ temple with his thumb before letting his hand card its way through Sirius’ sleep mussed hair. “If anything, you’re incredibly strong for enduring everything you have and coming out the other side committed to making yourself better.” 

Sirius scoffed. “I don’t feel strong. I feel like a liability. Most people’s fiancé’s don’t have have to wake their partner up before they scream the house down from vision induced nightmares. That’s not normal.” 

“Nothing is normal for us. It never has been.” Remus shrugged. “Have you ever heard of a pure-blood heir to a Sacred Twenty-Eight family getting married to a half-blood werewolf? Because I haven’t. What was it you always used to say at Hogwarts about defying the norm?” 

“‘You know me, always defying the odds.’” Sirius smiled at that. 

“Our whole lives have been marked by sorrow and loss. And yet we both keep defying the odds that are trying so hard to shove us into the next world. We keep fighting because we don’t know any different. Until this war is over, we are going to have to fight. I don’t know if it’ll bring an end to the shit we have to deal with, but we’ll never know if we just give up.” 

Sirius was quiet. “I’m a burden on you, Remus. You’re more like my caretaker than my fiancé.” 

“That’s not true in the slightest. We both just come with some complicated stuff. My mum had to support my dad a lot when I first got turned by Greyback. He spiralled and had a long struggle with his mental health. It’s completely normal, Sirius.” 

“I’m scared that we’ll get trapped in a cycle of just helping each other out of ruts, that there’ll be nothing else but bad days and marginally less bad days, that these things will never get better than this and we’ll become toxic to each other.” 

“What are you saying, Sirius?” Remus felt cold suddenly. 

“Don’t look at me like that. I’m not saying we split up or that we call the wedding off. But maybe we just need a few days sleeping apart and having a bit of space, just so we can kind of figure out how to help ourselves without relying on each other too much.”

Remus pondered for a second. All the years that he and Sirius had been separated had given him plenty of experience in finding ways to dig himself out of his darkest moments, but maybe Sirius was right. 

He’d been so used to having Sirius around again that they’d both gotten too reliant on leaning on each other. It was a vicious cycle where they just fed into each other’s negativity some days. 

“Okay, that – that makes sense,” Remus said, and the tension in Sirius’ shoulders seemed to dissipate. Remus slid out of bed and grabbed a thick blanket from the trunk at the end of the bed. “I’ll – uh – I’ll see you in the morning.” 

He leaned over to kiss Sirius soundly on the mouth before reluctantly pushing himself off the bed and walking out of the room. He made his way up to one of the spare bedrooms upstairs, brain still reeling and trying to convince him this was only temporary.

~

Sirius barely got an hour of sleep after Remus left. Almost as soon as Remus had closed the door, Sirius had burst into tears. He didn’t want to sleep apart from Remus. He’d turned into Padfoot and curled up on Remus’ side of the bed so he could still smell Remus, hoping that it would help.

If anything, having Remus beside him made him feel safer from the shadows. But he was so scared at the same time. Scared that Remus would get tired of this life, of coming home to find Sirius staring off into space with barely enough energy to get out of bed. Sirius wanted to be able to get himself out of those ruts, out of those moods.

The following morning, Sirius stayed as Padfoot, transforming into himself only briefly to open his door before returning to his dog counterpart, trotting down the stairs and wandering into the kitchen. He saw Molly bustling around and when she saw him, she smiled at him. 

“Morning, Sirius.” She said. Padfoot barked in return. “Remus is in the living room if you want him. I think he’s been down here for a few hours, sleeping in the armchair. Not sure why, though. Is everything okay with you two?” 

Padfoot barked again, moving his head in what he hoped was a clear nod. He padded softly into the living room to see Remus curled up in the armchair, hair messy and bags under his eyes.

He was cleaning a pair of glasses that he usually only wore in the mornings when he woke up, and once he’d taken his contact lenses out. Sirius knew that Remus’ eyesight had been getting worse over the last few months. He’d been using contact lenses for as long as Sirius could remember, but recently, as his eyesight worsened, Remus had been using his glasses more and more.

Remus had had to wear glasses quite often at Hogwarts with the amount of studying he did and how small some of the texts were, but Sirius had very rarely seen him wear them in public. 

He was talking to Hope and Lyall, sliding on his glasses and squinting a few times before focusing. when his eyes caught Sirius’ arrival in the doorway, he smiled tiredly. Sirius’ tail wagged excitedly and the smile grew wider. 

“How did you sleep?” Remus asked. Sirius transformed back to himself and took a seat on one of the smaller two-seat sofas.

“Awfully. There’s something wrong. Something is changing out in the world, but I can’t tell what it is. I can’t figure out what’s a nightmare and what’s a vision. None of it makes any sense.” Sirius said. “What about you? How did you sleep?”

“Dreadfully. I’ve been down here since about four a.m. because I was too restless.” Remus said “Don’t get too stressed about decoding your vision. They usually don’t make much sense. There are always so many interpretations.” Remus said. 

“You’re a Seer?” Lyall asked. 

True Seers were incredibly rare. Sybil Trelawney was likely one, though Remus wouldn’t have believed it if he’d met her as a child. It wasn’t until he’d met Sirius, who was able to pick up on a lot of things that he shouldn’t have been able to that Remus had believed in Seeing abilities.

“Kind of. We had a really powerful Seer in our family centuries ago and the gift trickled down. Me and my brother, my parents, my cousins, my uncles, my grandparents, all of us have it in some capacity. There’s usually one in each generation who’s stronger than the others. In my generation, it’s me. It’s a lot of nonsensical flashes of possible outcomes and picking up on the souls of the dead that don’t become ghosts. Hogwarts is full of them. There’s a lot of cold spots, lots of souls.” Sirius explained. 

“What have you been Seeing?” Lyall asked. 

“Hogwarts under siege at night and the wooden bridge outside the castle on fire. The Great Hall was full of bodies sprawled out on tarps, there was the sound of people crying and muttering their goodbyes, people gathered in the courtyard in the early hours of the morning and Hagrid carrying something … someone in his arms, walking with the Death Eaters against his own will. It comes in flashes, from very specific angles. It takes all my concentration to work out what I remember.”

“Do you think it’s the final battle?” Remus asked. “One last hurrah? You-Know-Who taking the fight to Hogwarts and trying to take as many of us out as he can. He’ll go there because that’s where Harry and Albus are. We have to warn someone, surely?” 

“We don’t know when it’ll take place. We don’t even know that it’ll happen for sure. Now that you’ve Seen it, things could change because of people being aware and taking precautions to try and prevent it. But if you See more the next time you’re asleep, then it will give us an advantage. We just need to wait. If things start to play out the way they appear to you, then we’ll have something to work with.” Lyall said. 

“We?”Remus asked, raising an eyebrow. “Since when have you considered yourself involved?”

“I’m a part of this now, am I not? I know where your Headquarters are, I know whereabouts your people get their information. I know that you go on undercover missions to meet other werewolves to convince them to fight with you and try to hide it from your mother and me.” 

Remus cursed his father’s incredibly blunt and observant nature. 

“How long has it been since you’ve duelled anyone? Because if you’re serious about joining the Order - Sirius don’t you dare make that joke - then I can have the letter sent to Albus by this evening, but you’re going to need practice. And there’s no going back once you’re in.” Remus said grimly. 

“Obviously.” Was all Lyall responded with. Remus couldn’t help but chuckle at the response. It was times like this when he realized how similar he was to his father. Both of them could very rarely be budged after a decision had been made, and were both incredibly headstrong and protective. 

“Is there anything at all that I can do?” Hope asked softly. “I can’t just let my husband and son go off and fight in a war and not do something to help. Maybe there’s something I can help Molly with.”

“Well,” Molly said, appearing in the doorway. “I suppose we could always use another Healer around here. There are some herbs and plants that Hope grows in Wales that I don’t have, Muggle ones that might work a lot better for quick remedies. If there's going to be a final battle sometime soon, and if it’s going to be at Hogwarts, then poor Madame Pomfrey is going to need any help she can get.”

“I’ll write to Albus. If he gives us the green light, we’ll have to organise a Portkey rather than Apparating back to Wales to bring the essentials here. You’d have to live here full time. It’s too far to travel every time there’s a meeting. We don’t know where all of the Death Eater’s territories are and they could’ve set up anti-Apparition wards. There’s too much risk of you two getting splinched.” Remus said. 

Lyall and Hope looked at each other for a second, seeming to hesitate. The house in Wales had been their home for almost forty years and Remus knew it couldn’t be easy to just up and leave it. 

“If you’re here with us, you’ll be safer,” Sirius added quietly. Lyall and Hope looked at him. “The Death Eaters have spies everywhere, I’d be very surprised if they didn’t already know you were here. Going back to Wales and staying there could bring more danger to you. I know leaving your home is daunting after so long there, but it’s for the best right now.” 

“Talk to Albus,” Lyall said firmly to Remus. 

“You’re sure?” Remus asked. 

“It’s just a house, Remus,” Hope said. “We need to get a few things, but we’ll survive.” 

“I can cast a Summoning Spell. It’ll be tough, being so far away, but with enough intent, I should be able to get the essentials. We'll stay here, we won't Apparate” Lyall said. “I’d get on with that letter, if I were you, Remus.”

Remus nodded and stood, making his way towards the kitchen and giving Sirius a brief kiss to the top of his head as he passed. 

~

Remus slumped into a seat at the kitchen table one morning in late September. He only had two days until the next full moon and Sirius had been up all night pacing, trying to be quiet, but still keeping Remus awake most of the night. He was exhausted. 

They’d spend a week sleeping apart before they couldn’t take it anymore. And something had changed for them both. Remus did feel a little more confident in his abilities at handling his mental state. Sirius had mentioned feeling less like a burden, making them both feel overwhelmed with relief. 

Things had improved marginally, but Sirius’ visions had begun appearing with more frequency. He’d had one or two during the day now, and he wasn’t coping with it very well.

Remus always slept better with Sirius nearby and it only took the brief absence of Sirius' body when he needed to go to the toilet in the night for Remus to wake up. 

They'd been like this at Hogwarts too; where they'd spent two years alternating between sleeping in each other's beds that they were both in tune with each movement the other made. And then they’d had their safehouse when the war broke out, living with each other, sleeping in the same bed every night for another three years before Sirius went away. 

It was alarming how easily they both reacted to each other’s absence.

"Everything alright, dear?" Hope asked, placing a cup of tea in front of Remus and tousling his hair gently. "You look like you've barely had a moment's sleep."

"I don't think I've even had a moment if I'm honest," Remus admitted. 

"What's wrong? Is everything okay? I told you you shouldn't have stopped taking your medication. It helps, Remus." Hope chided softly, eyes wary of the people nearby. 

She had always been careful not to talk about Remus' mental health issues too loudly, worried that they'd think he was less capable. She was infinitely more worried about it than Remus was.

"It's not the anxiety, Mum." Remus sighed. "Dad, will you please tell her? I stopped taking it because I rarely know when I'm going to be away and for how long until the last minute, if I run out, I can’t get a new prescription while on a mission and it's too dangerous to be inconsistent with medication, especially with my dosage." 

"Well, what's wrong then? This is the third time this week you've come downstairs looking half dead with fatigue." Lyall asked as he flicked through the Prophet. 

"If you think this is what I look like half-dead, you should've seen me last August. Merlin's beard, I was a mess," Remus said, his first instinct to make light of the situation as he remembered the time he'd been laid out across this very table, crying out for death and wishing that the pain would just stop after the worst full moon he'd experienced since he'd first been turned. 

"Remus, I wish you wouldn't joke about that night. It was awful seeing you in such a state." Molly said, frowning over at him. Remus sent her an apologetic glance. 

"What do you mean?" Hope and Lyall were looking at him in alarm. 

"I had a particularly rough full moon and used the last of my energy to Apparate here. I would've died if Molly hadn't stitched me up." Remus hesitantly explained.

There were a few seconds where Remus could see his parents processing the information, not used to Remus being so open and casual about his lycanthropy. It was something they were both so scared to address. 

"Have you and Sirius been fighting? Is that why you've been barely been sleeping? Is that why Sirius doesn't always come downstairs with you? It's okay, you know. It's normal to have little domestics sometimes, your dad and I have them." Hope said eventually, clearly wanting to change the subject. Remus knew how much she hated the idea that she couldn’t do anything to ease the full moons or protect him from them. 

"No, Sirius and I rarely ever fight. He gets freaked out by raised voices and I don't like upsetting him. We disagree with each other a lot, but, no, we have certainly not been fighting." 

"So, what's wrong?" Lyall asked. 

"Sirius gets nightmares. It’s probably PTSD from Azkaban. They were getting better, but not so much now. His visions are happening more and more frequently. He's avoiding sleeping at night to escape them, having naps in the day instead. He gets restless at night, so he gets out of bed and I can't sleep without him next to me anymore, I always know when he’s gotten up. I get worried he'll do something silly because his brain jumbles up reality and visions, and this house has a magic of its own, it reinforces his fears. If he has a nightmare, he can break the charm I put over the room with ease and he wakes the whole house up and it's just ... very hard to navigate."

"Have you tried any modifications to the silencing charms?" Lyall asked. 

"I try to avoid modifying spells. I don't want to tamper with the house's magic in case it reacts negatively." Remus said. 

"I'll do a bit of research and get back to you. We can contact the Potions Association, a few of my friends still work there and owe me some favours, so maybe they'll know something that can help him sleep." 

Remus thanked him and then glanced up at the ceiling as footsteps could be heard on the first-floor landing. They moved over to the stairs and Sirius appeared in the doorway not long after. 

"Still can't get to sleep." He said to Remus. 

"We can try again in a bit, god knows I need to get some semblance of sleep today," Remus replied encouragingly. "Do you want a cuppa? The kettle should still be hot." Sirius nodded and started dragging his feet towards the kettle. Remus stood and quickly guided Sirius into a seat "Sit down, Pads, I'll do it." Sirius squeezed his hand, giving him the best smile he could muster with the limited energy he had. 

"You're too good to me, Moony. Thank you." He yawned. Remus gently tamed some of the hair sticking up widely on Sirius' head, tucking it behind his ears before giving him a brief kiss to the top of the head.

"Anything for you, love," he said, retreating to the counter where the kettle was. 

~

Remus stretched, feeling his bones crack as he did. That had been the most excruciating Order meeting of his life. He hated to think what the following one would be like, with his parents finally members of the Order.

“Come to bed?” Sirius pleaded, pulling Remus towards the stairs. Remus nodded, taking Sirius’ hand and dragging his tired feet up towards the first floor. 

“Are you going to sleep through till morning tonight?” Remus asked as they entered their room, beginning their nighttime routine.

“I’ll try my best. That potion has been working.” Sirius said. “I still need to catch up on a lot of sleep, though. The wedding is only two weeks away and I look like I haven’t slept in a year. I better not look this haggard on the best day of my life.” 

Remus smiled. “I thought the day you got Sorted into Gryffindor was the best day of your life. That was what you always told us.” 

“And why do you think that was, Moony?” Sirius asked. “It’s because I met you. And Jamie, of course, but the other thing sounds more romantic.” 

Remus couldn’t help but laugh at that.

“But this … this is going to top that day. I’ve wanted to marry you for most of my life. It feels surreal. And I can’t wait to call you my husband, to tell people that the wonderful Remus Lupin is married to me.” 

“You’re more of a heartthrob than I think anyone ever gave you credit for,” Remus said softly. “I’ve never known more soppy bullshit come out of a person’s mouth.” 

Sirius grinned and pulled Remus towards the bed, kissing him hard. 

“We aren’t teenagers anymore, Sirius, you know neither of us has the stamina to fool around after a long day,” Remus whispered as they collapsed on the bed, lips parting.

“Remus, this isn’t the seventies. There’s no need to be such a blushing maiden about it.” Sirius laughed. “We haven’t had sex in ages.”

“Not true, we had a solid couple of rounds three days ago. I don’t think even tonight comes close to how tired I felt after all of that. I was so tired, I felt it in my bones, no word of a lie.” Remus countered. Sirius pressed his lips to Remus’ again and he knew he was done for.

There was nothing quite like kissing Sirius. Remus didn’t think he’d ever get tired of it. 

“Hey, Sirius?” Remus muttered, forcing himself to organise his thoughts. 

“Bloody hell, Rem! Everything has to be about words with you!” Sirius said, failing miserably at pretending to be exasperated. 

“Our wedding day is going to be the best day of my life, too,” Remus said looking right into the familiar grey of Sirius’ eyes and watching as the playfulness faded into pure love. 

Sirius pulled him closer and Remus realized that maybe … just maybe, he wasn’t as tired as he originally thought as he let his world become overwhelmed by the man beside him.

 

Chapter Text

Remus coughed slightly as he lit up the cigarette between his lips. 

He hated the taste of cigarettes, but right now it was the only thing stopping him from tearing his hair out in anxiety.

He was currently holed away in one of the rooms in the Burrow. The original venue that he and Sirius were going to use for the wedding had been targeted by Death Eaters during an event hosted by Muggle-borns almost two weeks ago. There had been fifteen survivors out of a group of forty. Everyone had been in a state of shock for hours when they’d heard the news. 

Remus had almost forgotten the feeling of these casualties after so long in times of ‘peace’. This was something he’d never quite get used to. 

So, with no venue and not long until the wedding, Molly and Arthur had sheepishly offered up the Burrow. They had a large marquee that they used during the summer sometimes that could comfortably host the small group that had been invited.

There was a knock at the door and he hurried to open it, knowing full well that he looked as nervous as he felt. Hermione, Hope, Molly and Harry were standing in the corridor. 

“You’re not even ready yet!” Hope exclaimed, sliding into the room and beckoning in the others. Remus closed the door behind them. 

Molly began fussing around with Remus’ dress robes, which were hung up in the wardrobe. Harry and Hermione were chatting away quietly. Hermione had a small clutch bag in her hand.

Harry had agreed to be Sirius’ best man and was also carrying the rings. Remus almost felt sick at the idea that everything had boiled down to this day. Up until now, it had felt like something so far off in the future that it was almost as if it would never happen at all. But now that it was here ... Remus was a mess.  

Hermione had been tasked with keeping the whole operation running, alongside Molly and Hope. The three of them had pulled off the whole wedding in such a short amount of time. She’d sent regular letters with suggestions on how to make the best of the situation with the limited resources they had.

They were all dressed smartly, which was more than could be said of Remus, who was still in a jumper and casual trousers, glasses perched on his nose, a book in one hand and a lighter in the other, cigarette hanging out of his mouth 

He’d been planning to wait as long as possible to start getting ready. Once he had his dress robes on, Remus knew that his nerves would grow even more. 

“There’s still an hour before the ceremony starts, Mum! There’s plenty of time!” Remus laughed. 

He tucked the lighter into the pocket of his trousers before taking the cigarette out of his mouth and tapping excess ash into the bin beside the door.

He immediately stuck it back in his mouth, walking over to the bedside table, dog-earing one of the pages in his book and taking another deep drag, exhaling smoke out of the corner of his mouth and wafting it away with his hand. 

Hope tutted and took the cigarette off him and chucking it into the bin. 

“Hey! That’s a waste of a cigarette, I’ve only just lit it!” Remus said. 

“Do you want your breath and clothes to stink of smoke when you get married? Honestly, Remus, you’re as bad as your father! He smelt like whiskey when we got married, absolutely reeked of it!” Remus rolled his eyes and grinned.

“You make him sound like an alcoholic! He smelt like whiskey because Grandma Hazel and Aunt Emma were driving him up the wall, whiskey was the only thing stopping him from ripping into them. They were micro-managing everything." He laughed. "Where is Dad, by the way?” 

“Last I saw, he was talking to Sirius,” Hermione said. 

“Are the two of them alright?” Remus frowned. 

“Sirius was pacing a lot, but other than that, he’s alright. Your dad was trying to calm him down. They’re in Molly and Arthur’s room at the minute. Sirius has only just started getting ready as well.”

“You two will be the death of me, leaving everything to the last minute!” Molly tutted. “Right, we’ve still got work to do, so let’s get moving,” 

“Wait,” Hermione said. “Sirius wanted me to give you this.” She pulled out a vial from her bag and handed it to Remus. 

“What is it?” he asked. Hermione was searching her purse for something else and pulled out some parchment, giving that to Remus as well. He unrolled it and felt his heart skip a beat. 

“What does it say?” Hope asked. “You’ve gone pale, is something wrong?”

“No, everything is fine.” Remus hated the crack in his voice when he spoke and began to read the letter aloud. 

“Dearest Moony, 

I’m sure you’re confused about why Hermione has handed you a vial of something that smells worse than a Kneazle’s rear end. 

I asked Severus to make this potion for both of us. I have the twin to it. Inside the vial is a de-ageing potion. It’s designed to return us both visually to the ages of eighteen, the age we were supposed to be getting married at. 

It was always a regret of mine that we didn’t take James and Lily’s advice and say ‘fuck it’ to the war and get it done. That’s what they did, and I wish we had chosen to do the same back then, now that I know how everything ends. 

Maybe, if we’d have done that, things wouldn’t have been so hard on you when I was away ... a lot of things would’ve been different if we’d made certain decisions at eighteen. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone away at all. Who knows?

Whether we decide to take the potion today or not, I would like it to be a surprise to both of us, though I’m sure you already know what my decision is. I’m excited to finally be getting this done, for us to be able to celebrate properly, even if we are a little older than we intended and not nearly as good at holding our booze. 

See you shorty, love,

Padfoot.”

“Are you going to take it?” Harry asked. Remus took a deep breath and studied the vial. The liquid was clear, so clear that the vial could almost be mistaken as empty. 

“Yeah, I’m gonna take it.” He said softly. He put the parchment down, uncorked the vial and forced himself not to smell it, to just focus on getting it down his throat as quickly as possible. 

The change was almost immediate. Remus only just managed to put the now-empty vial on the bedside table near him before he doubled over in pain, grunting slightly. 

It lasted only a few seconds before the feeling of being doused in cold water hit him and Hope made a choked noise. Remus looked down, seeing his clothes begin to stretch as he filled out. 

At eighteen, he was not nearly as malnourished as he had been in the twelve years he’d been parted from Sirius. Even now, after living at Grimmauld Place for over a year with plenty of food in the cupboards and nice cooking every night, he was nowhere near as strong as he'd been once upon a time. The years of unemployment and poverty had made its impact on his body. He’d been as healthy as a werewolf could’ve been. 

Remus went over to the small mirror by the door and almost didn’t recognise the face in front of him. 

His hair was curlier, falling in front of his eyes. There was a clear twinkle in his eyes, which were brighter and greener than they had been in years like the spark had never had a reason to fade.

Remus was almost fooled for a second that it had all been a dream, that he really was eighteen again, and if he just looked hard enough, James and Lily would be standing here with him, just over each shoulder, trying to calm his nerves.

The scars that he’d gotten from almost dying during a full moon the previous summer were no longer there, instead replaced by his older scars from fifth years, more pink and prominent. Remus clapped a hand over his mouth as tears brimmed and the tension in the room rose. 

“Did I really look like this?” He said softly, voice cracking and barely above a whisper, dragging his hair off his face and turning to face the others in the room. 

“Are you okay? You’re not too … I don’t know .... upset?” Molly asked. 

“No. Not I’m not upset. Just ... nostalgic, I suppose.” Remus said softly, still amazed at the way he used to look. "I should probably start getting ready."

Relieved grins spread through the room and Molly handed Remus his dress robes, gesturing towards a divider made of thick pieces of wood with dark fabric in between the posts.

Remus was ever so slightly taller than it and knew that his shoulders, neck and head would be visible from over the top, but he turned away from the others and began to get changed. 

Hermione called her goodbye and went to go check on how things were going in the marquee, but Molly, Hope and Harry remained. 

He heard a shocked noise coming from behind him and Remus stepped out from behind the divider, wand in hand, thinking something was wrong, still shirtless. But Hope was staring at pictures in the old scrapbook they'd been looking through over the summer. She must've brought it with her when she moved into Grimmauld Place, Remus thought. Hope was crying softly and, once she noticed Remus looking, she softened. 

"Sorry. I just ... I'm happy that I got to see today. I was so worried that I'd never see you get married." She said. Her eyes flicked across the multitude of scars crisscrossing his torso, lingering on the thick, pink line from the gash he'd gotten last summer. She stepped closer and put her hand on Remus' cheek, focusing in on the scars cutting their way across his face. "I'm so sorry that this has to happen to you every month. You never deserved it."

"It is the way it is, Mum. Greyback will get what's coming to him. You and Dad did your best. So many of my kind don't make it into adulthood, but I did. I defied the odds, I survived on my own, without a pack, without becoming bitter and violent. I got a little sickly and malnourished along the way, but that isn't my life anymore. Things worked out. It's because I had fantastic parents that never gave up on me that I was stubborn enough to keep fighting." Remus told her. 

Hope sniffled and wiped at her eyes, forcing herself to smile. 

"Come on, you. Carry on getting ready, I want to see my boy dressed up all smart for his wedding day." Remus smiled and returned to dressing.

He stepped out from the divider when he was finished and Molly and Hope were immediately beside him, frowning and fiddling his robes, which were ever so slightly tight in places now that his body had changed. 

Molly pulled her wand out, gesturing precisely. Remus’ clothes adjusted slightly until they fit better for his new measurements, and the nerves began to rise. 

“There we go. These robes are nice. Where did you get them from?” Molly asked.

“Sirius picked them out. He and Madame Malkin discussed them privately. I didn’t even know what they looked like until today. I’m surprised he didn’t choose something more dramatic.” 

“I wouldn’t put it past him to choose something extravagant for himself,” Molly said. 

Remus grinned. Sirius loved to indulge himself on nice things now and then. Well-tailored clothes always seemed to make him feel a little better about himself; like he had some kind of control over what was happening in his life.

When Remus’ eyes landed on Harry, he noticed the faraway look in the boy’s eyes.

“Everything alright, Harry?” Remus asked, absentmindedly fiddling with his cufflinks. Harry jumped slightly, startled, before nodding. 

“Just thinking.” He responded. 

“About what?”

“Nothing much … I’ve just got a lot going on at school.” 

“Like?” Remus said.

“N.E.W.Ts are just … a whole lot more in-depth and confusing than O.W.Ls.” Harry dismissed. 

Remus could see right through it. Harry was a terrible liar, worse than James was, and he knew that Harry was keeping something hidden from him. Something fierce and protective hidden in Remus’ chest wanted to be the one that Harry would confide in and trust to help him, but he knew from experience that pressuring Harry to talk was the last thing to do that would get him to talk. 

Teenagers seldom spoke to parental figures about their issues unless the situation was dire or when they felt ready. Remus remembered being one, remembered not feeling like he could talk to his parents, even though he loved them and trusted them immensely. 

So he smiled and tried to pretend like he couldn’t see through Harry’s facade, going over to him and ruffling his hair.

"If you ever want to borrow any of my old textbooks, I still have all my notes scribbled in the margins." He joked. Harry smiled back at him, and Remus could see the appreciation in his eyes at not forcing an answer out of him.

“You look different,” Harry said. “Less worried. And not just because you’ve taken a de-ageing potion.” 

Remus smiled. “I don’t think I’ve felt this relaxed in years. I certainly didn’t think I'd be fighting in another war or getting married to Sirius, not after everything that happened. I’m sorry it took so long for us to get guardianship of you, Harry. I wish we could’ve gotten it earlier.” 

“Don’t apologise, we’re a family now, aren't we? I would rather it happen as late as it had than never at all. You’ve already done more for me in the last few months alone than the Dursleys have done for me in my whole life. That’s not even counting the support you’ve given me since third year. I can see why my parents wanted you two to be their stand-ins if something happened to them. As far as I’m concerned, you two are just as much my parents as Mum and Dad are.” 

Remus only had a second to register the crack in Harry’s voice and the misty look behind his glasses before Harry was hugging him and Remus’ own eyes were filling with tears. He hugged Harry back for a few seconds and then pulled back, wiping at his eyes, lifting his glasses slightly to get to them. When his eyes were clear again, he saw Harry mirroring his actions. 

There was a soft hiccuping noise from behind Remus and he looked over his shoulder to see Molly and Hope watching Remus and Harry interact and smiling at the scene.

“Are you nervous?” Harry asked. Remus faced him again, chuckling, and nodded. 

“More nervous than I think I’ve ever been in my life,” he replied.

“Well, you won’t be going down the aisle until I’ve sorted that hair out, so take a seat,” Hope said, guiding Remus over to the bed and sitting him down. 

~

Sirius couldn’t stop pacing. He was checking his pocket watch every ten seconds, hoping that somehow, he’d be able to speed time up just by looking.

Just ten minutes earlier, Sirius had been in tears. Andromeda had come into Molly and Arthur’s room, where Sirius had been getting ready and had offered to be the one to walk him down the aisle. 

Sirius honestly hadn’t thought much about walking down the aisle on his own. He had never thought that anyone would want to, and so he hadn’t asked. He had accepted long ago that he had no family left that would want anything to do with him. And yet, here Andromeda was.

Having Andromeda offer was enough to make Sirius cry.

He’d accepted, of course.

And now, he was waiting on one side of the marquee, part of the Burrow hidden from him, knowing that Remus was standing on the other side and obscured from view.

There were only a few minutes left to wait, small clumps of people filing in and taking seats. The interior would be transfigured and changed after the ceremony and they’d spent most of the afternoon and evening there, dancing and eating and laughing. 

“Sirius, calm down, will you?” Andromeda said, grabbing his shoulders and forcing him to stand still. 

“I can’t calm down. Not when you keep telling me off for wanting to turn into Padfoot and you’ve taken my fags off me. There’s nothing to calm my nerves, Dromeda. I’m getting married in three minutes and I can’t even have a smoke!” Sirius exclaimed. 

“You can have a smoke after the ceremony. Do you want your first kiss as a married man to taste of smoke?” 

“Remus has probably been chain-smoking,” Sirius muttered in annoyance. 

“I can assure you that Remus has not been chain-smoking. Molly and Hope took his fags off him as well. It seems you’ve both slipped into bad habits again.” 

“Only to take away the nerves.” Sirius tried to reason. Andromeda pulled a face, not believing a word of what he was saying, and Sirius sighed. “I don’t want Remus to think I’m getting cold feet. I’ve never wanted anything more than to marry him.” 

“And that will show more than you being scared. I was terrified on my wedding day. But it all fades away once you’re standing up there.” Andromeda assured. 

Music started up in the marquee and Sirius’ heart stopped. 

"Merlin, I’m going to throw up.” He exaggerated. Andromeda laughed and linked arms with him. 

“Come on, Siri. Let’s get you married.”

The nerves seemed to melt when Sirius heard the nickname Andromeda had given to him as children. He hadn’t heard it in so long, and Sirius blinked rapidly to prevent his tears from even having a chance to brim, giving Andromeda an appreciative smile. 

They rounded the corner and entered the tent. Only a few seats had been set up inside, with only Order members and close friends and family present. People gave him excited smiles as he passed them, seeming to sense his nerves and trying to show their support without drawing too much attention to it. 

There was a sense of relief when he reached the end of the very short aisle. Harry was waiting for him as Sirius kissed Andromeda on the cheek and she gently ruffled his hair. 

“I’m so proud of you, baby cousin.” She said softly. 

“Thank you, Dromeda,” Sirius replied, hoping that she could see the depth of his words and knew that he meant it wholeheartedly. 

“You okay?” Harry whispered as Sirius joined him. Sirius took a deep breath and nodded, smiling resolutely.

Sirius he looked over at the entrance to the marquee again, waiting for the neat hair of his fiance to appear.

Hee saw Hope first, then saw a familiar mop of curls and Sirius almost burst into tears all over again.

Remus has taken the potion as well

Remus’ face was the only thing he could focus on as he constantly wiped at his eyes, trying to keep them clear so that he could burn this moment into his memory. 

Remus gave his mother a tight hug when he reached the end of the aisle, tears streaming down his face just as fast as Sirius, before joining Sirius. 

“Come here, you soppy bastard,” Sirius said fondly, wrapping his arms around Remus' neck and hugging him tightly. “Come on, let’s get married.” He said, taking Remus’ hands and kissing his palms. Remus gripped his hands tightly, the first signs of nerves showing in his eyes, and the two of them looked to the Ministry official who was presiding over the ceremony. 

~

If Sirius was honest, he was barely listening to the official. He couldn’t help but stare at Remus, knowing that Remus was also sneaking glances at him from the corner of his eye and thinking that he was being sneaky about it. 

It was only when the official introduced the vows did Sirius finally pay attention. Harry handed Sirius one of the simple rings, with the engraving ‘ Until Morning, Moony’ around the band and Sirius smiled widely at Remus. 

“With this ring, I solemnly swear that, not only am I up to no good but that I also will manage to cause mischief with you for the remainder of my life. I have loved you ever since I can remember, and will continue to love you both in this life and the next. I swear to protect and cherish you for as long as I live.” Sirius said, slipping the ring onto Remus’ finger. 

Remus’ stupidly wide grin at his reference to the Marauder’s Map filled him with immense pride and love, knowing that their legacy had lived on through a piece of parchment that had survived long enough to see the return of its owners.

Harry handed Remus the other ring, which had a matching engravement to Remus’ ring, saying ‘ Until Morning, Padfoot’.

“With this ring, I swear that I will continue to be a place of love and comfort, at the beginning of the day and the end. I’ll comfort you when you’re upset, laugh at your ridiculous jokes and experience all the ups and downs of us. I wouldn’t change us for the world, whether we take de-ageing potions or look like we're approaching fifty rather than forty, with all our scars, both physical and mental, or without. I swear to uphold this for as long as I live.” Remus said, mimicking Sirius’ earlier movement of sliding the ring onto Sirius’ finger. 

The two of them kept their eyes on each other, smiling and forcing their tears back, barely listening long enough to say, ‘I do’ and to hear them being officially pronounced as married before they were drawing each other close, Sirius’ hands planted on Remus’ waist, clutching at his dress robes tightly so hard it was a wonder they didn’t rip beneath his fingers. Remus’ hands cradled Sirius’ face gently, thumbs gently tracing his sharp cheekbones and his long fingers extending into Sirius’ hair. 

A good ten seconds passed where the only thing they could focus on was one another, feeling years worth of heartbreak and misery, of memories and laughter, culminating at this moment. And then they pulled back, leaning their foreheads together, tears streaming that neither of them had noticed before, and there was clapping around them, their friends and family looking on proudly, knowing how much this moment meant to both of them. 

As they walked back down the aisle towards the centre of the marquee, Remus pulled his wand out and flicked it, watching as the space around them changed, chairs rearranging and tables being transfigured, the cooking that Molly and Hope had been preparing appearing on a table along one side of the marquee. 

“I think a celebration is in order.” He said.

A small Muggle stereo that had been enchanted to play a variety of music from wizarding bands was blaring and Remus was grinning at Sirius, seeing a matching look of love and affection mirroring Remus’ joy, realising that he was glad he and Sirius had been forced to wait so long, had been put through hell and back. This was all worth it, to still have each other in the end.

~

Remus’ cheeks were hurting from smiling. His ribs were aching from laughing. 

Overall, the rest of the afternoon and evening was filled with dancing, which Remus indulged Sirius in once or twice when the crowd was gathered and there was little chance of anyone paying much attention to him. 

When people settled into chairs around tables for a proper evening meal, Remus awkwardly stayed standing, his nerves returning. 

“So, first of all, I’d like to thank you all for coming. Sirius and I appreciate it,” Remus started, looking down at Sirius, who was seated next to him at the ‘head table’, as Molly had referred to it. 

Hope, Lyall, Andromeda, Tonks, Sirius and Remus were gathered at this particular table. Neither Remus nor Sirius had wanted to separate Harry from his friends, so they’d Ron, the twins, Hermione and Harry have a table to themselves. 

“I was encouraged from a very young age to keep people at arm’s length, so they would never find out about my condition. But at age eleven, a wide-eyed and cheeky Sirius Black, James Potter and Peter Pettigrew managed to make me think that maybe, all those things that I’d been taught were wrong. And it’s the best thing to have ever happened to me.” Remus said. 

Sirius reached out and grabbed Remus’ hand, in tune to the tightness in Remus’ chest, the note to his voice that signalled that he was close to tears. The two of them squeezed each other’s hands tightly, desperate to remind themselves of this feeling, of this moment.

“Sirius and I have wanted to marry each other for as long as we can both remember. We always knew that we were it for each other. But we never got the chance to fulfil that wish until now.” Remus continued. “So, I would like to share something with you all. A few moments pulled from my memories of Sirius and me in our Hogwarts years.” 

Remus let go of Sirius’ hand to pull out his wand, tapping it against his temple and closing his eyes, concentrating on bringing out the pre-prepared string of memories.

He pulled his wand away from his temple slowly, and once the slight throbbing sensation of retrieving memories, he opened his eyes and cast the memories behind him, muttering the spell that would make them expand as if on a television screen. 

Dumbledore had taught this to him a long time ago as a way for him to remember things he’d forgotten, or to share memories with the Order in meetings if he couldn’t explain things accurately. 

The stream of memories expanded and Remus saw himself and his friends at eleven years old, small and still a little chubby-cheeked, a few years off growing into their features yet. 

“Hi, I’m James Potter,” James said to Peter. James, Peter and Sirius had ended up beside each other on one bench, with Remus on the opposite bench.

“Peter Pettigrew,” Peter responded.

“Sirius Black.” Sirius grinned, leaning around James to greet Peter.

“Sirius and I met on the train. We were thinking about getting our group of mates sorted before all the good ones get snatched up. You look like you could do with a few friends. Do you want in?” James asked. Peter nodded enthusiastically. 

“I hope you’re good at being sneaky, Peter. We’re planning on making a name for ourselves while we’re here. And we don’t plan on getting caught too often.” Sirius smirked. 

“I’m in,” Peter said.

“What about you?” Sirius asked, looking across the table to where Remus was eating a small plate full of food. Remus looked startled to be spoken to. “What’s your name?” 

“Remus,” Remus said softly. 

“No last name?” Sirius grinned. Remus flushed. 

“Lupin.” He said. “My name is Remus Lupin.” 

“Remus Lupin.” Sirius mulled it over before grinning even wider. “It suits you. Nice to meet you, Remus Lupin. I’m Sirius Black. D’ya fancy making up the final member of our little team of misfits?” 

Remus looked wary at first and then let the corners of his lips turn up in a smile. “Yeah.” He said softly. “Yeah, I’d like that a lot, Sirius Black.” 

Sirius, James and Peter smiled back at him, the beginnings of a freshly sparked friendship filling them all with a sense that somehow, this was different to everything they had experienced in life so far. 

More memories swirled past, their first night together in their dorm, and then when his friends found out he was a werewolf, when they were learning how to become Animagi, their final day at Hogwarts, the day Sirius and Remus got their first apartment together, James and Lily’s wedding. 

And then it settled on one last memory. 

“For fuck’s sake, Moony, you’re so oblivious!” Sirius exclaimed, bursting into the dorm room, Remus trailing after him.

“And you’re a knob! What are you throwing a hissy fit for this time? You’ve been insufferable all week and you won’t tell anyone what’s wrong. You’re avoiding me, you won’t look at me, you barely talk to me. When you showed up to the study session earlier, I thought you’d sorted your shit out, and then you started being a prat towards Elena for no reason! What’s going on with you, Padfoot?! Have I done something wrong?” Remus yelled, slamming the dormitory door shut behind him. 

“No, you’ve done nothing wrong,” Sirius said.
 

“Then what is it? Something must be wrong otherwise you’d be able to look me in the eye for more than a second before looking away.” Remus replied. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s bothering you.” He added softly, stepping closer. 

“ I – I just thought that you’d catch on by now. You’re so smart, but you’re so clueless. I’ve been dropping hints for ages.” Sirius said. At Remus’ confused look, he groaned and threw himself onto his bed face down, turning his head and saying. “Are you gonna make me say it?” 

“Say what?” 

Sirius buried his face into his duvet and mumbled something into his mattress, making Remus frown. 

“What?” He asked. “Sirius, I can’t hear you. Stop mumbling into your mattress, you pillock. Sit up and say it properly, you’re not a child.” Sirius made a frustrated noise and sat up, perching on the end of his bed, feet resting gently on the closed lid of his trunk. He was hugging his knees and avoiding eye contact. 

“I like you.” He said softly.

“Well, duh. I’d be worried if we’d been friends for going on six years and you didn’t like me, Pads.” Remus laughed, leaning against his bedpost. 

“No, Rem, not like that,” Sirius chuckled. “I mean, I do like you like that, of course, I do, you’re one of my best mates. But I don’t just like you as a mate. I like you as more than that, too.” 

“Sirius-”

“And just to make sure we’re on the right page, by that I mean that, despite all my talk of people I find attractive, they’re all nothing compared to you. I like you like James likes Lily, but in a less lovesick puppy way, I’m not gonna start stalking you around the school and teasing you just so you’ll talk to me. But I-” Sirius was cut off by Remus rolling his eyes, walking forward and ducking his head to press his mouth to Sirius’.

“You’re just as oblivious as me.” He said softly as he pulled away. “I like you too, dumbass.” 

That’s when Remus held his wand out and the memories collapsed into a thin stream of light again, shooting towards Remus’ wand, twirling around the end of it before settling as he directed them back towards his temple and they wormed their way back into his brain. People were cooing and muttering to each other softly, relishing in the happiness of the day as much as Remus and Sirius were.

The chatter had resumed around various tables, people smiling and enjoying themselves. It had truly been the most relaxing day so far. Remus didn’t know how he’d felt so nervous about getting ready. 

This was Sirius, after all. His best friend, his mate, the person who he’d always confided everything in. Remus loved him with all his heart, knew that he wanted no other life if it didn’t have Sirius in it. They’d had very little hope for so long, with war brewing and no reason to see the light at the end of the tunnel, everything snatched away from them so cruelly. 

They would survive it again to get back to each other, to get back to Harry, at the end of the day. 

    ~

They’d taken a Portkey back to Grimmauld Place at midnight and had continued the party there, where there was plenty of room and everyone’s beds were already made up. 

It had been a long night and Sirius and Remus had been some of the last to go to bed at around three in the morning. Not bad for a wedding in the middle of a war. 

But they were safe at home and Remus had the best night’s sleep he’d had in a long time. When he woke up, he knew it was because Sirius had slithered out of bed. Somehow, it didn’t feel bad. 

“Padfoot?” He asked softly, expecting Sirius to just be in the bathroom. When there was no response, Remus yawned and stretched, throwing the covers off his body, dressing in a simple button-up, loose trousers and his favourite cardigan, grabbing his glasses from the bedside table and putting them on. He couldn’t quite be bothered with contacts as much as usual, for some reason. 

He was quick in brushing his teeth, hurrying to get some socks on. The floorboards were as cold and unforgiving against the soles of his feet as always. 

Remus made his way downstairs. Everyone was groggily spread out throughout the kitchen and living room. Molly was still in her pyjamas and dressing gown, a similar sentiment to most of the others gathered, and had just left the stove, where something was cooking in a pan. 

Sirius was stood by the kettle and Remus smiled, walked over to him and wrapped his arms around Sirius’ waist, resting his head on the shorter man’s shoulder. 

“Good morning, Mr Black.” He greeted. “Or should I say, Mr Lupin.”

“Good morning, love,” Sirius replied, the joy in hearing Remus addressing him with his new last name evident in his voice. He turned around in Remus’ arms and linked his arms around Remus’ neck, pecking him lightly on the lips. “Did you sleep alright?” Remus hummed happily.

“Wonderfully. I don’t think I woke up once, which is rare. What about you?”

“First night without nightmares or visions in a long time. Who knew getting married was the cure all along?” Sirius joked. Remus chuckled at him. “D’you want a cuppa? I’ve just stuck the kettle on.” 

“Mmm, a cuppa sounds lovely right about now. Have you had breakfast yet or should I stick some toast in for you as well?” Remus asked. They let go of each other and Remus stepped over to the toaster that was only a few paces away.

“I’d love some toast,” Sirius said. 

“With lots of jam.” They said simultaneously, smirking at each other.

They very rarely got up at the same time, with Sirius often up at the crack of dawn and having breakfast long before Remus and the rest of the household descended the stairs to begin the day. 

But they remembered more than they thought. Toast with loads of jam was Sirius’ go to at Hogwarts and a few years after. 

They were content in the silence of the next few minutes, eventually exchanging toast and a mug of tea when they were done, heading over to the table and settling beside each other. 

“So,” Molly said, smiling. “You took Remus’ last name?” She asked.
 
Sirius paused from where he was raising his toast towards his mouth and blushed brilliantly.

“Yeah,” he said. “I quite liked the sound of Sirius Lupin. I think it suits me.” 

Molly cooed at them and both of them flushed. 

The rest of breakfast was comfortably quiet as people wandered in and out to grab some of Molly’s porridge or make themselves toast. It wasn’t until Remus was on his third cup of tea of the morning, laughing around the table with Kingsley and Arthur while most of the house, including Sirius, got dressed, that anything eventful happened. 

There was a cracking sound in the hallway and Remus was out of his seat, pointing his wand at the familiar face of Dumbledore, before anyone had the chance to move. Arthur and Kingsley were quick as they raced around the table to join him.

Dumbledore raised his hands in surrender, showing that he had no wand in his hand. 

“What were your parting words to me in my seventh year?” Remus asked. 

“‘This world may try to tell you that you are inferior, but as long as you have a witty comeback and a spell up your sleeve, you’ll prove them wrong. I’m proud of you, Remus.’” Dumbledore replied. Remus lowered his wand and he could sense Arthur and Kingsley doing the same. 

“What brings you here, Albus? We rarely see you in the flesh these days.” Arthur said. 

“I have troubling news regarding You-Know-Who. There was no other option but to call an emergency Order meeting.” Dumbledore replied. “Where is everyone?” 

“They’re upstairs getting dressed,” Kingsley said. 

“They’re only just getting ready? It's almost lunchtime.”
 
“It was a busy day yesterday. Many of us were up late. Understandable, given the circumstances.” Arthur said. 

Dumbledore tilted his head slightly. “What circumstances?” 

Remus felt Kingsley and Arthur’s eyes staring holes into the back of his head and knew they desperately wanted to ask why Dumbledore wasn’t aware of what had happened.

“It was mine and Sirius’ wedding day yesterday,” Remus told him. There was a hint of shock in Dumbledore’s eyes, a brief flicker that only registered for a second before it was gone again.

“Well … congratulations to you both.” Remus thanked him stiffly and the sound of footsteps descending the stairs thankfully distracted them from what could’ve been a very awkward silence. 

“Come into the kitchen, Albus. It gets crowded easily in this corridor.” Arthur suggested. Remus and Kingsley followed Arthur into the kitchen, Dumbledore on their heels and the slow trickling of other Order members eventually filling the room.

Chapter Text

It was decided that Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the twins were not allowed to be privy to this meeting and were currently having a disagreement with Molly about it on the staircase, with Molly desperately trying to get them to return upstairs and keep themselves occupied.

"How did they leave school grounds without my knowledge?" Dumbledore asked. 

"They had permission from Professor McGonnagall to come to the wedding. She organized their transport as well. We thought she'd spoken to you, given an excuse for their absence." Remus said. 

"Good ole Minnie." Sirius grinned, taking a seat beside Remus, with a cup of tea in either hand. He handed one to Remus. "She sent that giant snack box of Honeydukes sweets for us yesterday, didn't she?"

Remus hummed in agreement as he took a sip from his drink, still relishing in the idea that yesterday had been their wedding day.

"She left a note sending her love and well wishes and some old pictures of all of us at the end of our seventh-year party. I'll show you it later, it was very sweet. I almost cried. It seems like she remembers the number of times we used to eat sweet stuff in her lessons around the time of the full moon." 

"Right," Molly said, sighing and closing the kitchen door. "What's going on, Albus?"
 
"One of our recruited werewolf packs were found in a lake in the countryside just outside Leicester. All of them found with mock Dark Marks across their foreheads with water-soluble ink. I've asked the other remaining packs to come here right away. They should be here soon. They're calling for blood. It's incredibly important that we prioritize convincing them that going on a rampage after the Death Eaters will not bring their friends back." Dumbledore said. 

"Which pack?" Remus asked. 

"I don't know what any of their names were, but one of them had a large number of tattoos, the only one in the pack with them. He was the biggest member. We think he may have been their leader."

Remus closed his eyes and leant back in his chair in shock. "Marcus. That was Marcus' pack," He breathed, opening his eyes. "They were the first pack I recruited. Fuck. They're right to call for blood. We need to do something."

"It would not be wise-" Dumbledore started. 

"I don't care about wise, Albus!" Remus interrupted, slamming his hand on the table and leaning forward again.

Everyone around the table jumped, having been startled by his sudden movement.

Remus' outburst were few and far between. There had been less than a handful of times where he had ever snapped at anyone, least of all Albus.

But there was still so much Remus needed to get off his chest. 

Dumbledore was letting the Death Eaters get away with too much.

Remus was so sick of everything being allowed to happen, being unable to act because of Dumbledore's insistence that they would be able to win the war the same way they had last time, with someone becoming a martyr and ancient magic being strong enough to defeat Voldemort for good this time. 

Remus wouldn't let it slide this time. His life had been ruined by that martyrdom, the unwilling deaths of James and Lily that had saved the rest of the world when Voldemort had last been strong.

It now put pressure on Harry's shoulders and made him feel like he had to follow in his parent's footsteps.

"Werewolves have just been slaughtered and left to rot in a lake. You’re acting as if it means nothing! They were fighting for us because they believed that we would treat them better, and you're sat here talking as if the other packs are irrational for wanting action! You wouldn't be so hesitant to sit by and do nothing if it were just Muggles dead." 

"Remus-"

"I’m one of the lucky ones; not all werewolves survive in society for as long as I have. You respect us all, or you respect none of us! I will not be your cleanup crew any longer, Albus. I can't keep letting them down. We must take this opportunity to make their deaths mean something." Remus said.

White-hot fury was spreading through his body like wildfire and he was aware of Sirius bouncing his leg, a habit from years ago that always reared its head when there was arguing and raised voices. 

When the lights began to flicker gently, Molly summoned the candles, lighting them with her wand and Remus forced himself to take a few deep breaths to push the anger down.

There was a hostile kind of magic in the house brewing and reacting. Remus could feel the raw, unfiltered crackling of it emanating from him and Sirius, swirling around them and protecting them. 

The other members of the Order waited patiently for a few seconds until the lights calmed.

Hope and Lyall were still not used to the house’s moods and the way it was connected to Sirius and, by extension, Remus. They were watching the lights and trying to discern what the strange feeling of the room was. 

Remus realized with a start that, to the house, he was now a Black as well, despite Sirius having taken his last name.

He was family, and the house recognized his importance to Sirius, the link between their souls and the fact that it had been rekindled after two decades.

Old magic that was reopened and recast was so much more potent the second time around, depending on how long it had been since it was cast the first time, and whatever resided in the foundations of Grimmauld Place could notice a fellow kind of raw and ancient magic.

Its first instinct in a tense situation was to begin to gather around Remus as well as Sirius, to protect him and amplify his magic if he needed it. Remus found himself touched at the gesture. 

With both Sirius and Remus calming, the magic seemed to quieten and simmer, still brushing around the back of Remus' neck and making the hairs there stand up.

Dumbledore inclined his head slightly, watching the events unfold, his eyes finally landing on Sirius and Remus.

The sound of the door opening made everyone jump and a stream of familiar faces rushed in. The representatives of the werewolf packs. 

"Evening, everyone! Take a seat where you can find one." Molly called as a round of chatter filled the room, people greeting each other and filling each other in on the basics of what had happened since they had last seen each other. 

"Two fresh faces, and one of them a Muggle. How interesting," Lydia said, taking a seat.

Lydia was one of Remus' favourite pack leaders, with the proud display of her scars across her bare arms and her strong nature. She was transparent and honest, but not unkind. She was funny, smart and headstrong. Her and Remus got along well. 

"Everyone, this is Hope and Lyall Lupin, my parents. They've decided to join the Order." Remus explained, gesturing towards his parents. "Mum, Dad, these are the representatives of the werewolf packs that have agreed to join us. This is Lydia, Sophie, Amelia, Jael, Everett, Asa, and Archer." 

"Nice to meet you, Hope and Lyall," Lydia said, inclining her head, and Hope and Lyall greeted her in return.

She looked over to Remus and Sirius and smiled, "Congratulations for yesterday, you two. We got your invitation, we would've been there if this nasty business with Marcus hadn't happened. As I'm sure you can understand, it was a shock to all of us." 

"It's quite alright, Lydia, I assumed that something of importance had come up," Remus replied. 

"Thank you for the collection of Chocolate Frogs, by the way," Sirius said, grinning. "Merlin knows how grumpy Remus gets when he doesn't have any chocolate lying around."

He linked his fingers with Remus' and squeezed his husband's hand. Somehow, it felt different now that he could feel Remus' wedding ring around his finger. 

"It was a little something from all of us. A lot of us work odd jobs where we can find them in the Muggle world. We have just enough to buy ourselves the essentials, including a large stash of chocolate." Amelia chimed in. 

"Is loving chocolate a universal experience for werewolves?" Sirius laughed, looking between the representatives and Remus. Remus shrugged and glanced at his fellow werewolves. 

"Tricks of the trade, I suppose." He said. "You learn very quickly what helps and what doesn't when you deal with a condition like ours."

Remus thought of the werewolf representatives as friends rather than comrades in a war now. After such a short time of having meetings and discussions on Death Eater actions out in the world, he found that he felt at peace with them. 

There were just some things that he couldn't explain to Sirius, things that Sirius would never understand, no matter how hard he tried. 

But these packs did.

They were linked to their wolves and understood the life that Remus experienced.

They were the same, the best and worst parts of both their human and wolf counterparts, they knew how hard to navigate the balance between those two halves of their souls was.

And Remus cared for them deeply because of that. 

"It was a rough full moon, many of us are still recovering. Marcus and his pack being slain and left out to rot in broad daylight, and now some of our best fighters and leaders have been called away from our packs ... it doesn't sit right with me." Sophie said. She looked at Remus. "I don't know how you managed to get married so soon after the moon. Was it not a difficult night?"

Remus shrugged again.

"I've had worse." He said. "But I know what you mean. They've felt more soul-wrenching these last few months. I've not had any worrying injuries in well over a year, but it's taking me longer to recover now. I thought it was just my age. Could it be a coincidence that our full moons are affecting us more?" 

There were grim looks among all the werewolves.

"We are all restless. Tensions and anxieties are running high. Such emotions can make our counterparts snappier than usual when they're free. We can't afford to worry too much now." Everett said. "We should get down to business on what to do regarding Marcus and his pack." 

"We've picked up traces of magic coming primarily from Antonin Dolohov. There are others ... three Blacks, though the women have taken another last name, from what I have been told. One is a reluctant follower. She seemed to hesitate around hurting anyone, the others had to take over her victims for her.” Lydia said.

“The other woman ... she's an ex Azkaban prisoner, judging by the smell. She reeks of the island, the misery and depression of that place cling to her like mould." Archer said, his nose turning up at the thought.

Sirius went pale at the comment, casting a glance at Andromeda to see her reaction. Andromeda looked distressed to see her sisters be mentioned. This was so clearly Bellatrix and Narcissa. 

"You know them?" Asa asked. Sirius and Andromeda hesitated, still watching each other to see who would speak first.

"They're my sisters. Bellatrix and Narcissa. Bella is the ex Azkaban prisoner and Cissa ... she must be the one who hesitated. There are no other Black women other than the three of us," Andromeda said. “We’re Sirius’ cousins, we were all born into the family.”

"The third Black was male. We could only smell the family blood faintly. He smelt more like the sea and something dark." Archer told them. 

"That's impossible," Sirius said.

When the representatives all gave him matching looks that indicated that he should prove them wrong, he realized that they were not aware of what had happened.

Sirius hadn't even mentioned to Remus all the reading up that he'd been doing on which family members had survived until now.

"Whoever the man is couldn't have been born a Black. My uncle Cygnus, Andromeda's father, and my father, Orion, died when I was in Azkaban, as did my mother. She couldn’t have had another child at that time, she was too old. And Uncle Alphard ... he's been dead since I was seventeen, almost twenty years ago by now. And-" Sirius' voice cracked and he stopped, clamping his mouth shut firmly.

He clenched his jaw, hating the reaction he was having. He'd found out the fate of Regulus. He had died under mysterious circumstances in 1979, just two years before Sirius had gone to Azkaban, and Sirius had never even known. 

"My brother, Regulus ... he died when he was eighteen. That was back in 1979, during the first war. Again, almost twenty years ago by now. There’s no way whoever this man is was born a Black. I'm the only male left in the family that was born into the name. Marcus and his pack were killed yesterday while I was getting married. It's impossible." Sirius said. 

"See for yourself," Amelia said, digging a scrap of fabric from her pocket and tossing it onto the table. 

The werewolves bristled and Remus immediately pulled a disgusted face at the smell. As a werewolf, his sense of smell was heightened. There was something wrong about the fabric, something unnatural. 

The Order members' faces soured slightly at the slight scent of dirty lake water, but it was clear that was all they could smell.

Remus reached for the fabric, hesitantly taking it to his nose and sniffing at it. He waited for a few seconds to see if there was anything he recognised and then smelt it again in a different corner. He frowned and gave the fabric back to Amelia. 

"That's strange." He said softly.

"What is it?" Arthur asked. "What can you smell?"

"It's familiar, that's for sure," Remus said. He looked at Sirius and frowned. "It does smell a little like you. It's almost like ... old magic, something ancient. You smell like that too. But it's been drowned out by seawater and something else. Are you sure all of your male relatives are dead?" 

"I - I've seen the family records, they're kept in the basement. It's enchanted to record our lives; when we're born and when we die. They ... they have to be dead. Otherwise, we would've known about it by now. It would've shown up." 

“Are you sure Alphard didn’t have any children?” Remus asked. Sirius nodded and looked over to Andromeda. 

“Did you ever hear about Uncle Alphard having children, maybe after he was blasted off the tapestry?” He asked.

Andromeda pondered, frowning hard before shaking her head, still looking uncertain.

“You’re older than me, you would’ve been in your twenties when he died, you’d have been away from Aunt Druella and Uncle Cygnus at that point. Alphard, you and I would've been blasted off the tapestry by then. You would’ve had the agency to contact him. Are you sure, Dromeda?” 

"I sent Uncle Alphard a letter just after it happened to me, asking for advice. But he never responded. When was the last time you checked the records? Are you sure that they didn't say anything about any other family members?" Sirius nodded. "Go and get them. Maybe there's a cousin we've forgotten about." 

Sirius sighed, pushing his chair back and standing, leaving the room to unlock the hidden basement door in the living room. 

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Remus asked Andromeda. Her eyes flicked to him and her lips straightened into a thin line.

"That Regulus might still be alive? That he might've managed to falsify the records and go into hiding?" Andromeda responded. Remus gave her a small nod and she sighed. "Yes, that's exactly what I'm thinking. I just hope for Sirius' sake that we're wrong." 

"What do you think will happen if his brother is alive?" Lydia asked worriedly. 

"I'm not sure," Remus said quietly. "He had nightmares for weeks after he hexed his brother in a fight once, two years after we left Hogwarts. Regulus joined the Death Eaters, we were fighting against him. It was the last time we ever saw him, it must've been a few months after he'd finished school and just before his supposed death."

"If Regulus Black is alive, then we treat him like any other Death Eater," Dumbledore said. "That's who he is to us now."

"Try telling that to Sirius." Andromeda scoffed.

At that moment, Sirius re-entered the room holding a stack of papers, settling back into his seat and flicking through the pages urgently.

He stopped on a page towards the end, eyes studying the names and dates, finger running down the old parchment until he reached the name he was looking for. And then he froze. 

"Sirius, what is it?" Molly asked.

Sirius cursed heavily and Remus forced himself not to laugh. He hadn't heard Sirius extensive combination of ridiculous curse words in a long time.

A part of him was almost glad to hear it again, though the circumstances were grim.

"The records have changed." He said softly. "This ... this should be impossible. The magic is never wrong, it's connected to our magical signatures. When we die, the signature dies with us, that's how it knows to update itself. Everything else is right, everyone else's has stayed the same."

"What do the records say? Who's still alive?" Jael asked, leaning forward eagerly. 

"Reg," Sirius said. He looked dismayed as he looked to Remus. "My brother is still alive." 

~

The Order meeting had descended into chaos after that.

Sirius had gone quiet, staring at the spot where the records had once laid before people had been passing it around in a desperate attempt to see the truth for themselves. 

"We can track them all! We know their names, we have fabrics that can lead us to their locations and we can bring Marcus' pack justice!" Jael exclaimed enthusiastically.

"No!" Dumbledore argued. "We can't risk the opposition knowing that we have also recruited werewolves. Right now, you are our advantage. You're our secret weapon, and we must keep you that way until the time is right."

"We aren't some expendable commodity for you to call upon when you want your dirty work doing." Archer spat. 

Remus could feel Dumbledore's eyes boring into him, as well as a few Order members, hoping that he would calm things down.

He was sat side straddle on his seat, talking to Sirius quietly. He had one hand on Sirius' thigh and the other had tilted Sirius' face up towards Remus to get him to focus on something other than the table.

He hoped that Sirius would see his eyes, see his lips moving, and it would be enough to bring him back to reality.

He wanted his words to bring Sirius back, to help him focus again and keep him away from the darkness before he slipped too far in.

Remus was terrified that this would send Sirius into a tailspin, that this would be the thing to make him spiral and make Grimmauld Place's magic turn on the Order completely.

"Will you all stop staring at me as if you're waiting for me to clean your messes up for you?" Remus snapped finally. "I told you this before the representatives arrived, Albus. I will not back up the idle behaviour you show my kind when they're brutally murdered."

"It seems as if you have never grown out of your schoolboy phase of caring only about yourself and your friends. I have stark news for you, Remus. Something you should've learnt years ago. You will likely not make it out of this war without sacrificing something. Whether it be your own life, Sirius', or Harry's. The reason why you survived the first war is that you were never brave enough to stand up and be the hero. James and Lily gave their life to stop Voldemort. They were selfless. You are not. You are as meek and cowardly as Peter. You may as well be working with Voldemort for all the use you are to me-" 

A blast of unfiltered magic erupted from Sirius then. 

The table buckled and collapsed, and people were sent sprawling across the floor, including Remus. The only one unaffected was Sirius, who was now stood and staring Dumbledore down. 

"Get out of my house." He said. 

The air began to grow thick with magic again and Andromeda made a sudden movement, trying to reach Sirius and calm him down, but an invisible barrier shielded her from him. Remus struggled to his feet and tried to move closer, finding that the barrier had extended to keep out even him. 

Remus' heart shattered. Sirius had never walled himself away from Remus before. He had always tried his very best to let Remus in, let him break down Sirius' defences.

For the first time since they'd known each other, he was now on the wrong side of Sirius' walls, unable to get in.

"How dare you come into my house and speak to my husband like that," Sirius said lowly.

Dumbledore was on his feet then, pulled up and pinned against the wall by invisible hands.

"Remus is braver than you well ever me. You hide in your office, take the credit for the fighting that we do. You've never had to worry if anyone you loved would come home alive at the end of the day. Remus has done everything you've asked of him while putting up with a condition that breaks his bones and rips him to shreds every month. He puts himself back together and carries on without complaint to do your bidding because he is everything you are not." 

Sirius stepped closer to Dumbledore then, standing on the collapsed wood which had once been the table. 

"How dare you use my best friend and his wife's murder to benefit you. How dare you use my godson's, mine and Remus’ boy’s dead parents against us, against their best friends. They’d be ashamed of you and what you stand for if they were here. Wormtail, the disgusting little traitor that he is, had more respect and remorse for those of us he left behind than you do. You are the coward here. We will be going after these Death Eaters that killed Marcus’ pack, regardless of whether we have your permission or not." Sirius said. 

He unclenched the fists that had formed at his side and whatever force had been holding Dumbledore let go, letting the man slump against the wall, trying to regain his balance. 

Remus stepped forward, trying to keep in Sirius' peripheral vision. He kept his hands against the barrier Sirius had formed around himself, moving to stand in front of Dumbledore. He looked directly into Sirius' eyes.

"Pads, let down the barrier." He said softly. “Just for me, I promise. No one else.”

The barrier seemed to weaken and Remus relaxed slightly. He didn't put any pressure against it and just kept his eyes firmly locked on Sirius'. 

"Just a little more, Sirius. It’s okay, it’s just me." He said, knowing the words would sink in, would reassure and calm Sirius. 

The barrier dropped just slightly then, just enough for Remus to step through, and he took one of Sirius' hands, letting him grip it tightly and focus on it, understanding that this was safe. 

Sirius held Remus' hand tightly, looking down at it as if to check that it was real before stepping in front of Remus protectively.

"Now get the fuck out of our home," Sirius growled eventually. 

Dumbledore seemed to hesitate, weighing the situation carefully behind his glasses. 

He reached a conclusion seconds later, deciding that going against a charged-up Sirius, as well as Remus, and Andromeda, who was clutching her wand defensively from behind Sirius and Remus, keeping watch over her cousin and his husband. 

Dumbledore took his leave then, deciding it wasn't worth his dignity or his pride, knowing that he was outnumbered.

The werewolves would most certainly stand with them, even if the other Order members didn't. 

A pin drop could've been heard int he several seconds after Dumbledore closed the front door, everyone staring at either the front door or Sirius and Remus, not knowing what to say or how to move without risking setting Sirius off. 

"I'm sorry for all the mess. And I'm sorry for the outburst. I didn't mean to hurt any of you, I was just so angry. He’s - he’s never said anything like that before. I couldn’t bear him talking about my friends like that."

Sirius was sobbing now, letting go of Remus' hand and covering his face, rubbing at it frustratedly.

"No one blames you, Sirius," Molly said, coming closer and holding her arms out.

Sirius looked up, sensing her presence even though the barrier had dropped, and he clutched her tightly for a few seconds, pulling away to wipe at his eyes.

"Albus was in the wrong. He shouldn't have said those things. Once he's calmed down, he'll come to his senses." 

"Thank you, Sirius," Archer said, stepping forward. "It's not often a pureblood is willing to stand up for us."

"Letting the Death Eaters get away with murdering innocent people ... it's not right. I won't stand for it." Sirius said. "My husband has faced his fair share of discrimination in his life and it breaks my heart every time I see him so resigned to it. I don't want to see any of you going through that, not when I can help it."

That seemed to be the right thing to say and Remus put his arm around Sirius' shoulders, pulling him close and pressing a kiss to his temple.  

"I think it would be best if everyone went to bed," Arthur suggested. 

"There might be some air beds and a free bedroom on the second floor. It's the first door on the right. It'd be best if you all stayed here tonight." Sirius said, his voice still shaky as he pulled back from Remus and addressed the werewolves. 

They all thanked him and gave him reassuring smiles, heading towards the stairs quietly. 

"Come on, it's been a stressful day, I'll clean up and see you upstairs." Remus encouraged Sirius. 

"Actually, Arthur and I will handle this one. You stay with Sirius. He seems like he needs you more than this table does." Molly chuckled.

Remus raised his eyebrows, making sure that she meant it, and she just nodded, shooing them towards the stairs. 

When they'd finally settled, Sirius nestled into Remus' chest and muttered, ''I love you,' into Remus' chest over and over again, holding him tightly as Remus muttered the same into Sirius' hair, falling asleep to the sound of their quiet affections.

Chapter Text

It was a restless night. Sirius and Remus had been tossing and turning all night, neither of them able to sleep after the revelations that the Order meeting had brought and the burst of magic that had drained Sirius so much. 

When they'd woken up, the children had been waiting for them outside, sat on the stairs. They'd be staying over the weekend as well, all of them deciding that they may as well have a long weekend away from school and the joke shop that the twins had started up in Diagon Alley. 

"What happened last night?" Harry asked when their door opened and Sirius and Remus had sleepily trudged out. All of the children then stood, wanting desperately to be given answers. Their faces betrayed their nerves and anxiety, their hope that there was something that could be done on their behalf. 

"There was a tremor through the whole house and the lights went out. We had no idea what was happening. It wasn't until the door slammed that the lights came back on that everything sorted itself out." Hermione said.

"What did Dumbledore want?"

"Who are the people upstairs?"

"Calm down, everyone!" Remus said, yawning slightly. "One at a time, please. We had an emergency meeting last night. Nothing to worry out, we have it under control. Things got heated and overwhelming and the magic inside the house lashed out in protection. The werewolf representatives from the packs I asked to join us against Voldemort slept upstairs last night because it was too late for them to travel back to their territories." 

"Was there an argument?" 

"Did Dumbledore storm out? What was the argument about?"

"Are you sure everything's alright? We can help!" Ginny asked. 

"No!" Sirius and Remus exclaimed in alarm. 

The children stared at them in shock as they both calmed slightly, regaining their composures. 

Remus and Sirius were so in tune with each other that they knew exactly what the other needed ... wanted to say to these children. 

There was almost too much that was there ... ready on the tips of their tongues, so many years of experience and turmoil, things that they both had been forced to go through from such a young age, both before they'd ever been a part of the Order and after they had joined. 

It had to mean something. They had to prevent that from happening again, from letting another generation be damaged by the same things that Remus and Sirius had experienced. 

"I want you to listen very carefully," Sirius said. "Do not make any rash decisions now. If I knew half of the things I know now at your age, I would've waited to get involved in the Order until I'd left school. That was what the original plan was supposed to be, but things got desperate. I was doing spying inside the castle for Dumbledore at the back end of my fifth year. We all were. Me and Remus, Peter, James and Lily, we were the highest on the list of students he deemed valuable to the cause, so we were recruited."

"Dumbledore couldn't afford to wait to ask us for help, he was desperate for his own spies. You-Know-Who had his hooks in students at Hogwarts, so we got recruited early. By the time we finished our seventh year, we didn't have the opportunity to say no to joining the Order full time, we were already in too deep. Wait until you know better. You may make this decision now, but things might be different in a year. Neither of us wants any of you to suffer the way we have. Learn from us and our mistakes. Look at everything we've been through. Remember that you still have a choice." Remus added. 

"But-" Harry started.

"No buts, Harry! That's final!" Sirius said sharply. "What kind of guardian would I be if I let you join a war at sixteen?"

"You joined a war at sixteen!"

"Because I had no stable family to tell me it was a shitty idea!" Sirius snapped. "I wish I'd had parents who cared about me when I was your age, ones that had discouraged me from seeking the thrill of being part of something important. Your parents aren't here because we were recruited too young. It's a wonder Remus and I ever survived to the point where we could get custody of you. Do not end up like us, Harry. Because it is not pretty and I wouldn't wish the struggles we've faced on anyone. Not even Snape."

"You all have what Sirius and I didn't," Remus said. "Your families and your friends' families have hindsight. We don't want you to join the Order yet because we've been where you are now. Please, just ... let us take care of this. You're our last resort if we desperately need the numbers, and I mean that in the best way possible. Now come on, let's go downstairs and have some breakfast. You'll rarely get a relaxing weekend with so much going on now, so let's make the most of it." 

Remus encouraged them to go down to the kitchen and looked over at Sirius. 

"They aren't going to listen to us, are they?" Sirius asked softly. 

"Of course they aren't. They're teenagers." Remus sighed. "I'm just hoping they take something away from what we've told them. I couldn't bear to see any of them suffer the consequences of war that we have."

"They'll be okay, Remus. They're smart. Smarter than we were." Sirius said. But there was still an undertone of anxiety in his voice as if he didn't quite believe the words coming out of his mouth. 

Remus drew him close, letting Sirius nuzzle his face into the crook of Remus' neck. 

"It'll be okay, Sirius. We'll convince them. We have time."

~

The search for Regulus began later on that day. 

Bellatrix and Narcissa were too well known for them to target, as was Antonin Dolohov. But Regulus ... he'd fallen off the face of the earth and been suspected dead for almost twenty years. Everyone had thought that the line of Blacks had ended with Sirius, tucked away in a cell in Azkaban. 

Remus felt like he was treading on eggshells regarding Regulus. He was careful to avoid talking about it to Sirius, was worried about the effect it was having on him. 

"We need to organise a team of our strongest magic-wielders to track Regulus. We need lycanthropes with strong senses of smell, as well as strong duellers." Amelia said the next morning.

Ron, Hermione, Harry, Ginny, and the twins were remaining at Grimmauld Place for the weekend but were ushered into either the living room or their rooms, strong silencing charms placed over the doors. There was no risk of being overheard, which the Order was glad for. The last thing they needed was the children getting worried about happenings out in the world.

"Which is why we'd like it if Molly, Tonks and Remus would accompany us on this mission," Asa said. Remus' head snapped up to look at the representatives. 

"Why me?" 

"You've duelled Regulus before. Molly is a strong fighter and Tonks has Auror skills that are useful to us. We would've asked Sirius as well if it weren't such an emotional subject for him. We don't want this to affect him too much."

"However," Sophie said slowly. "That being said, you, Remus also recognise the scent. You were the one to confirm its likeness to Sirius and you've gone up against him before. You're invaluable to us." Sophie shrugged.

Remus was stunned for a few seconds.

He looked to Sirius, who was staring intently at the table in front of him.

He hadn't sat beside Remus after making himself another cup of tea, and Remus hadn't felt this distant from him since the fifth year prank. He had felt the very few inches of distance between them as if they were miles, and Remus' heart yearned for the man sitting across from him, trying to consider the circumstances with a rational mind. 

Molly would certainly treat the circumstances with a gentle hand, but her priorities would always lie with the Order and her family.

Tonks was Regulus and Sirius' cousin just as much as Andromeda was and would bear that in mind, but she was also an Auror, and as emotionally charged as Sirius sometimes. 

Remus knew that they would all try to bring Regulus back alive and unharmed, that they would talk him down from whatever next disaster he had gotten himself into.

He knew that he had to go to make sure it happened. He would never forgive himself if he hadn't at least tried to bring Regulus back, and there would always be that guilt hanging over him. 

"I'll go with you," Remus agreed softly.

Sirius looked at him when he said that, meeting Remus' eyes and seeing every promise Remus wanted to make. I'll bring him home. I'll keep him safe until you're back together.

There was so much hiding in Sirius' eyes. Turmoil and confusion at how Regulus had defied so many wizards and witches for so long; thanks and relief at Remus' acceptance of the mission. 

"Fantastic. We spend this morning planning and set out this afternoon." Lydia said.

~

Two and a half weeks later, Remus was almost regretting going on the mission. He was constantly fearful of being attacked in the night. They were drawing close. No one suspected that werewolves would be tailing the Death Eaters and they had therefore been careless with their tracks. 

They'd been hiking a lot. Their tracking had taken them to Bere Island, just off the coast of Ireland, and they were so close to Regulus. Until the night before, they hadn't picked up on anyone else than Regulus and his tracks.

But that had changed when a familiar scent made the wolf sharing Remus' soul snap and snarl.

He was leading the way, some kind of instinct inside him taking over and telling him which way they needed to go. 

And then he stopped, Moony causing a ruckus under his skin, growing less dormant with each passing day.

"What is it?" Lydia asked. Remus held up a hand, trying to signal that he needed a minute, breath coming in short pants and using his free hand to gently massage the spot that was aching, hoping that Moony would tame and calm. 

Lydia approached, as did the rest of their tracking team, made up of three younger werewolves that Remus didn't know that well, and Molly and Tonks.

"Is it the wolf?" Lydia pressed, and Remus knew she meant Moony. He nodded. "Don't worry. Mine is getting frustrated and antsy as well. She's making it difficult to think of anything else."

"There's a reason for that, Lydia. The scent on the air, don't you recognise it?" Remus grunted. Moony was only getting more agitated. Lydia sniffed and frowned. 

"I can smell a werewolf nearby. But - oh. It's him, isn't it?"

"Who?" Molly asked. 

"Greyback," Remus said. "Fenrir Greyback is nearby."

"The one who bit you?" Tonks said. Remus nodded. 

"Moony knows Greyback and would recognise the smell of the one that turned us anywhere, and so would I. We both have the urge to get revenge, to seek justice." Remus said. 

"Can you still smell Regulus?" one of the werewolves asked. "I've almost lost him."

"He's close by as well. Only a few miles out. I think they might be together. We can still ambush them if we're quick." 

~

Lo and behold, two hours later, they reached a small acreage of forestry land, and the scent of Regulus got stronger. All of them had their wands out, wary of what could be lurking nearby.

They all had Lumos cast, in a tight-knit group and making their way slowly through the trees. 

"I thought you'd catch up sooner or later." A voice called. It was raspy and harsh, like something being dragged against gravel. 

The group whirled their wands in different directions, trying to discern where the voice had come from.

A light flashed through the trees and Remus cast a Protego in front of Molly and Tonks, who were at the back of the group and facing in opposite directions towards the trees on either side of them.

There were flares of Lumons Maxima cast towards all directions and Remus saw Regulus at the back, where the stream of light aimed at Molly had appeared from. 

He saw the circle of dark, wild hair and the dark grey eyes, nowhere near as startling and captivating as Sirius', but sharp and dangerous nonetheless. 

His cheekbones were high and sharp, cheeks hollow and jawline more prominent than it had been in years. He'd lost so much weight, almost a shadow of himself. He was like Sirius after Azkaban. If they'd have been placed together just a few years ago, they might've been mistaken for twins. There was no denying his relations to Sirius. 

There was no one else nearby and Remus braced himself as Regulus sent a series of magic streams towards them in quick succession, knowing that this would be a lot harder than he'd originally anticipated. 

Regulus had always been a strong dueller and had taken to duelling against multiple people with ease in his youth. The instincts had lasted a lifetime.

But for the first time in a long time, Remus was prepared for a genuine fight for his life.

~

Remus was so exhausted. 

It took another six days before they got back to England as they'd had to travel from Bere Island to Cork, Cork to Dublin, Dublin to Derry, and finally from Derry to London, all because they'd had to Apparate in small jumps at a time that was often miles out of the way of where they wanted to be to reduce the chance of their magical signatures being recognised.

They'd been duelling with Regulus for almost an hour before he'd shown a weakness that Tonks had exploited. He'd managed to take out the three younger werewolves with ease, knocked Molly unconscious, and had put up a tough fight against Remus, Tonks, and Lydia, all formidable fighters. 

And now they were still travelling. They were on their final stretch of the journey, having lost Greyback and confiscated Regulus' wand.

They'd cast multiple Binding charms on him, as well as a regular Stunner and levitating spell applied so that he couldn't Apparate or run away. 

The plan was to take Regulus directly to Grimmauld Place and have him kept in the attic, with at least two people keeping watch over him at all times. He would be allowed to come down to the kitchen for meals, but would ultimately be kept away from everyone. 

On the seventh day, after sleeping on the very outskirts of London, they finally Apparated directly to Grimmauld Place. It was the early evening and all the group wanted was to sleep, to have a proper meal instead of just the rations they had pre-prepared and the animals that Lydia and the younger werewolves had hunted down.

Remus had been parted from Sirius for over three weeks and was missing him severely. They hadn't been able to send letters to each other, with too much risk of their letters getting into the wrong hands for them to guarantee the letters' safe arrival. 

Upon arriving, Remus noticed how cold the hallway was. He and Molly set Regulus down on the floor. He was awake now, and grinning darkly, struggling in his bindings. 

"You know why it's so cold, don't you, lycanthrope?" Regulus rasped. "It's getting stronger. It's reacting to him. To Sirius. The more unstable he gets, the more strength he gives the house. Soon, there won't be much left of him." 

"Shut up, Regulus, you're just as full of shit now as you were at school," Remus said. 

"I may have gone as loopy as my brother, but he isn't the only one who knows this prison's magic like the back of their hand." Regulus chuckled. It was a hollow laugh, sounding more like the coughs of someone who had been smoking for sixty years. "Let me out of these ropes, Loony Lupin. Come on, you know you want to." 

Remus just rolled his eyes and gestured for Lydia and the werewolves to get settled as he shucked off his robes. 

"We're back!" Molly called, having remained with Remus and Tonks to keep an eye on Regulus and also hanging her robes up. With no response, Remus frowned. 

"Padfoot?!" Remus added. "Kingsley?! Mum, Dad?!" 

There was the sound of the door to the living room opening, as well as footsteps and voices from upstairs. 

"What are you doing here?" Molly demanded as Ron, Ginny, Harry, Hermione and the twins appeared on the stairs, all of them breaking into grins. 

"Oh, thanks, Mum! You've been out on a life-threatening mission for three and a half weeks and you start questioning us as soon as you see us!" Ginny said. 

"Professor McGonnagall has been letting us come back here at the weekends. She knows that we've been worried about you all, she's organized Portkeys for us." Hermione explained.

"And we didn't want Sirius to be lonely," Harry said softly, a crease appearing between his brows. 

Remus' heart swelled. For them all to be so concerned and so caring about him, Molly, Tonks and Sirius, it meant the world to him. 

"Well, don't just stand there and dither then!" Molly exclaimed, tearing up. She levitated Regulus and set him floating into the kitchen, making sure he landed at one end of the long kitchen table. She held her arms out and the children raced down, throwing themselves at Molly. 

When Harry stepped away from Molly, he hugged Remus tightly, trembling slightly and muttering in his ear, "Sirius has been worried sick." 

"Remus! You're back!" Remus and Harry pulled away from each other and Remus was drawn in by his parents.

"I'm sorry I couldn't keep in contact. If there hadn't been problems with the owls, I would've kept you updated, but I'm okay. I'm just tired." Remus told them. "Come on, let's go into the kitchen. I'm in dire need of a cuppa." 

"Who's that on the table?" Hope asked. 

"Sirius' brother," Remus said sourly. 

"Don't pull that face, Remus! Be nice!"

"I haven't seen Regulus since he was trying to kill me and my friends-"

"You were trying to kill me and my friends, too!" Regulus yelled from the kitchen.

Remus ushered his parents into the kitchen as he responded. 

"Oi!" Remus snapped, "Don't get cheeky! You and your 'friends' are in a Muggle killing cult. You don't get to play the victim here. You were a twat at school as soon as Sirius left home and you're an even bigger twat now. Keep your gob shut. Silencio!"

Regulus began thrashing around on the table and Molly cast a fresh Full-Body Bind on him. 

"Good to see you safe and well, Lupin." A voice called from the doorway to the living room. Moody and Kingsley were standing there and Remus smiled at them. 

"Thank you. Honestly, I'm just glad to be home. I'm sick of sleeping on patches of dirt and grass in the middle of nowhere." He joked, getting a bark of laughter from Moody and a smile from Kingsley in return.

Most of the time, Kingsley, Tonks, Andromeda, Ted Tonks, and Moody were all at their own houses and apartments, appearing when needed for meetings or when Molly was doing a big meal for everyone and had invited them. 

They must've known that the retrieval team that had gone out in search of Regulus would return soon and wanted to be there for the debriefing and to be ready in case there were extra wands needed. 

Molly was wrapped up in a tight embrace with Arthur as they muttered to each other, bright smiles on their faces. Andromeda and Ted weren't around, presumably back at their own home.

"We need to figure out what to do with Regulus now that we've found him," Tonks said. 

"Wait," Remus said. The children were gathered by the doorway, staring at Regulus as his face twisted in anger at being kept frozen in place, silent and bound on the table in his own familial home. "Where's Sirius, is he okay?"

"He's on the sofa. He hasn't been able to sleep in the bedroom you share ever since you went on the mission. We've been giving him sleeping potions and taking in turns keeping an eye on him while he sleeps so he doesn't wake up and panic." Kingsley said. 

"How long has he been asleep?" 

"About six hours. The potion should be wearing off soon. He might wake up, or he might carry on sleeping for a while. I hope it's the latter. If you think the house seems cold and unwelcoming now, you should see some of the strange things that have been happening in the last week. He was fine until we hit the week and a half mark of you all being away, and then he started getting more stressed and anxious as time went on." Moody told him.

Remus took a deep breath, trying to make the anxiety settling in his stomach dissipate. 

Sirius had been fine for two weeks, at least.

He had been worried, but he'd managed to keep himself out of the dark place for long enough.

It was normal for the worry to start increasing after a week of radio silence on a mission, and Remus tried to focus on that, tried to let the pride in his heart for the progress Sirius was making overwhelm the anxiety and consume him instead. 

For now, he just had to focus on the debriefing and let Sirius sleep. He could do that.

He could focus until it was time for bed and he could wake Sirius up. 

It was just for now. 

~

Sirius let out a heavy breath as he woke up, eyes opening slowly, taking in the room around him. He was in the living room, of course. He hadn't been sleeping in his and Remus' room for the last three and a half weeks, unable to bear the smell of Remus in their bed without getting scared of him dying, sprawled out in a field with no one knowing what had happened until it was too late. 

Hope and Lyall had comforted him a lot.

They'd been just as scared, just as worried, had been doing anything to make themselves think of something different than Remus risking his life. 

As Sirius woke up, he sat up, noticing the voices coming from the kitchen, floating softly between the two rooms. 

Likely, it was Arthur, Moody, Lyall and Kingsley talking about Quidditch while Hope listened to them with fascination. 

He threw off the blanket covering him and stood, swaying a little, feeling ever so slightly dizzy from how fast he'd gotten up. Once the room had stopped tilting sickeningly, Sirius opened the door to the kitchen, expecting to see the kitchen table bare and without the usual busy hustle and bustle that had once frequented the house.

What he didn't expect to see was his brother laid out on one end of the table, tied up and neck straining as he tried to move, presumably kept in place by a Full Body Bind. 

He didn't expect to see Harry and his friends still in the house.

It was Sunday, and they should've returned to Hogwarts after their weekend visit. Molly, Tonks, Lydia and the three werewolves that had joined the retrieval team were sat at the other end of the table, doing their best to ignore the angry younger Black brother. 

The last thing he expected was to see a happy and smiling Remus, laughing at a joke that the twins were telling. 

"Moony?"

Chapter Text

"Moony?" 

Sirius' familiar voice was tentative, soft and sleepy. Remus' head snapped up, almost giving him whiplash as he saw Sirius standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. 

Sirius rubbed at his eyes, waking up more and realizing that this wasn't a dream. 

"Padfoot." Remus breathed, a relieved smile spreading across his face. 

Sirius looked tired. But he looked happy, and Remus could feel the heat to start seeping into the room, a stark contrast to the previous draught that had been sweeping through the house.

Remus pushed his chair back and stood. He was on the opposite end of the room, sat at the head of the table and keeping an eye on Regulus, who was awake but subdued. Before he knew it, he'd taken nothing more than two long strides, arms beginning to open, and there was Sirius. 

Sirius raced towards him and launched himself into Remus' arms, sobbing loudly and crying into Remus' shoulder, making his robes wet, but he didn't care because Remus was home and he was alive and breathing and uninjured and safe. 

Merlin's beard, he was safe. 

"Don't ever leave me for that long ever again." Sirius wept.

"Never again." Remus agreed, and there was a crack in his voice as he spoke, one that he hadn't expected to make an appearance. There was a lump in his throat that he couldn't swallow and he clutched Sirius to him tightly, willing it to go away. "I missed you, love, I missed you so much. I thought about you every second I was gone." 

"I missed you too. I was so scared you were lying in a ditch somewhere with no one to help you. Please never go on a mission without me again, never leave me alone again." 

"Look at me, Pads," Remus coaxed, leaning back slightly to cup Sirius' face. He planted a flurry of kisses across Sirius' forehead and cheeks, making Sirius laugh and scrunch his face up in happiness. "I can't promise I'll never go on a mission without you. Orders are orders, you know that. We'd just be too scared to think of anything else than protecting each other, but I can promise that I'll always come home. You know why?" 

Sirius snuffled and shook his head. "Why?" He asked, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket and drying his eyes hastily. 

"Well, look at what I have waiting for me," Remus said, gesturing to Sirius with one hand. 

"A madman with delusions of grandeur and a house that thrives on his insanity?" Sirius joked. 

"No, silly," Remus laughed. He affectionately brushed his hand through Sirius' hair, still mussed him from sleeping, and let his hand settle on Sirius' cheek. "I know I have my brilliant husband at home waiting for me. And an actual bed to sleep on instead of a shitty sleeping bag, but the other thing is less likely to get me hexed." 

Sirius laughed wetly, his eyes filling with tears again, pressing himself back into Remus' body, nestling his face into the crook of Remus' neck. 

"I've slept awfully since you've been away. Even Padfoot has been getting restless because he hasn't been able to smell you anymore. I've been so anxious and gloomy without you here. The house doesn't like having you so far away either. It's glad you're back, and so am I." Sirius said.

Remus grinned and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. 

"I'm glad, too, love. Home is where the heart is, after all, and mine's always with you." 

"You sappy bastard!" Sirius laughed, punching Remus' shoulder playfully. 

"Right, come on, you two. Enough of the romance." Moody said. "We have some business to attend to."

His eyes moved to Regulus, whose Full Body Bind was no longer in action and was fighting and wriggling, trying to sit up. The ropes wrapped tightly around his entire body was making it difficult for him to do very much. 

Sirius was immediately tense when he saw his brother. 

"Let him up and take those ropes off him." He said. 

"Black-"

"Lupin." Sirius and Remus corrected simultaneously, both flushing and fighting the smiles crossing their faces. 

"Sorry, Lupin, but he's dangerous, it took an hour for a group of seven to disarm him, and you think it's a good idea to give him any kind of freedom?" Moody asked. 

"Where's his wand?" Sirius asked. Remus brought it out of his pocket and handed it to Sirius. "I hold all the power. I have his wand, I have my wand and centuries of our family's magic behind me if he tries anything. I can overpower him in a heartbeat." 

Moody and Sirius stared at each other for a few seconds, both of them headstrong figures of authority, and Moody eventually caved, gesturing to Regulus with his wand, letting the ropes fall away. Regulus threw himself up into a crouching position, his body angled with one foot in front of the other. He looked crazed, years of isolation and dark magic poisoning his mind. 

"Hello again, dearest brother." Regulus grinned, baring his teeth that were yellowed with age and years of poor hygiene. 

"Alright, Reg?" Sirius replied. "I see the novelty of speaking like a repressed Victorian child hasn't worn off. You still sound like Mother and Father." 

"And you're still just as much a blood traitor as you always were. Getting married to a filthy half-breed-"

"Oh give it a fucking rest, will you?!" Sirius rolled his eyes. "You've been recycling the same old crap since I was sixteen. It's boring, you know that, don't you? You bore me." 

"Sirius-" Molly warned. Remus waved her off. 

"Just let them argue it out, Molly, they've been like this since we were at school. They'll just start having a punch up if it gets bottled up too much." He sighed. 

He was used to Sirius and Regulus' frequent arguments. The Marauders had been present for a lot of them. According to Sirius, they'd never argued as kids. It wasn't until Sirius had left Grimmauld Place without Regulus that the fighting had begun. 

They'd have screaming matches at each other from opposite ends of the corridor, they'd scrap in the courtyard, discreetly send food to splatter into each other's robes and faces at dinner in the Great Hall and could never be in the same room as each other without causing a riot. 

Sirius had always been charged up emotionally, hating every second of fighting, but not willing to go down without one. He'd given up in holding back when Regulus had nearly outed Remus as a werewolf in front of students from every year group in the middle of the West Corridor.

James had dragged him away and Remus had been scared for the first time at taking away House points. He hadn't managed it, too shaken up and worried that he would face the repercussions and be outed.

"Get your feet off the table, Reg. If Mother was here, she'd slap you into next week for it." Sirius said. 

"What, like she did to you when I told her about your friendship with Loony Lupin?" Regulus grinned. Nevertheless, he did climb off the table, standing in the place where Remus had been sitting a few minutes before. 

"You lose your temper and start a fight in class once and everyone calls you 'loony' for the next twenty years! Unbelievable," Remus grumbled under his breath.

"How are you still alive, Reg? How did you fool the family records? They're tied to our magic signatures, they shouldn't have said you've been dead since 1979 if you were still alive." Sirius asked. 

"Do you think I'm going to tell you, traitor?" Regulus asked. 

"You can either start talking or I'll kill you. I won't get into trouble, you're just another Death Eater." 

"This is bigger than just Death Eaters and the Order," Regulus told him. 

"Master Regulus?" Kreacher appeared from the hallway and all eyes landed on him.

"Away with you, Kreacher!" Sirius snapped. 

"How good it is to see you again! I did exactly-" Kreacher started, completely ignoring Sirius. 

"Kreacher, leave us!" Regulus interrupted. "I'll come to find you later." Kreacher sulked and grumbled, slinking back into the hallway and disappearing. Regulus and Sirius looked back to one another with matching looks of exasperation on their faces. 

"Why does he always have to interrupt at the worst possible time?" Regulus asked in annoyance. 

"He has no sense of tact whatsoever," Sirius said. 

"Remember the time he burst in on a meeting between Mother, Father and-"

"And the American Minister for Magic. He started talking about the washing and all of Mother's 'unmentionables'." Sirius finished, cringing.

"How old were we? We couldn't have been too young if they were letting us sit with them during meetings." Regulus asked. 

"I think it was just after you'd started school. So you were eleven and I was thirteen. Merlin, it feels like so long ago." Sirius mused. 

"God, we're getting old, aren't we?" 

"You're alright, you're two years younger than me. You're practically still an infant-"

"Not this again, Sirius-" Regulus said, a trace of a smile turning the corners of his lips up.

"Oh, you're back to calling me by my name now? How joyous." Sirius said sarcastically.

"You're such a prick, you know that?"

"I have been reminded a few times over the years."

"Not nearly enough. Remus, remind him he's a knob for me, he only ever listens to you."

"If you think I've ever had sway over Sirius or his actions, you clearly haven't been paying attention. He never listens to anyone." Remus laughed. He cast a glance towards Sirius and then leaned back against the wall casually, his hands tucked into his pockets. "But, you are a knob, Sirius. And a prick." Remus said, smirking at the brotherly banter. 

This was what Sirius and Regulus had been like in the halls of Hogwarts before Sirius had left home. They would yell joking insults at each other when they saw each other, playfully shove at each other, and everyone could tell that there was no malice in their actions, that it was no different from Sirius and James.

"Oh, thanks, Reg, thanks a lot. You've got my own husband to turn against me. You're such a little shit." Sirius laughed.

"I've got to make a name for myself somehow. It's either I aim high or I don't try at all when it comes to being anything other than your little brother." 

"It's the curse of younger siblings, I'm afraid." Sirius shrugged. And then the smile faded from his face. "Reg ... what have you been doing this whole time? Where have you been?" 

"I can't tell you," Regulus said. He was stiff again, no longer the laughing, teasing younger brother that he had been just a few moments previously.  

"Why not?"

"I just can't. It's none of your business and even if it was, I wouldn't tell you." 

"What was Kreacher looking so excited to see you for? He's never that happy to see me."

"Probably because he doesn't like you."

"Don't be ridiculous, everyone likes me."

"I wouldn't go that far, Padfoot," Remus said. Sirius shot him a half-hearted offended look.

"I had some errands that I asked Kreacher to run for me when I left home after Hogwarts. Neither of us expected me to ever make it back alive. That's why he looked excited." Regulus said. "I'm going to bed. It's been a long time I've had anything other than rocks to sleep on."

"There's some stuff set up in the attic for you," Sirius said. 

"Why the attic? What's wrong with my room?"

"My parents are staying in there," Remus said. 

"You're letting someone else stay in my room?" Regulus asked Sirius. 

"I didn't know you were still alive. I wasn't going to just keep my supposedly dead brother's room empty. Not when we need space." Sirius shrugged. 

"You're a crap brother." Regulus spit, walking towards the stairs. 

"Thanks, love you too!" Sirius called after him, flicking his wand and laughing as Regulus was sent sprawling to the ground, bound by ropes once again. "Who's on the first watch?" Arthur and Kingsley rose from their seats and went into the hallway, levitating Regulus off the ground and silencing him as he cursed and shouted. 

"Well," Molly said. "It's been a long evening, I think it would be best if we all went to bed. I'll send a letter to Minerva and ask to organise a Portkey for tomorrow morning for you all to return to school."

There were some protests from the children as Molly spoke, wanting to stay and spend time with those who had just returned, but Molly put her foot down, encouraging them to head upstairs. 

"You'll be here again at Christmas. It'll fly by and you'll barely even notice you've been gone." She said. 

Everyone began to slowly filter their way up the stairs and Remus yawned, finally feeling the tiredness begin to return.

"So that was Regulus, then?" Harry said as they climbed the stairs. 

"Yep. The little terror in the flesh." Sirius said sourly. 

"You're very similar. Looks-wise, I mean," Ron said. 

"They act similarly, as well," Remus said. "The way they walk and talk, it screams that they were raised in an aristocratic family. If you put them next to each other up until Sirius was about fourteen, you'd have thought they were twins from a certain distance. James, Peter and I were quite unnerved by it." 

"We're not like that anymore though. Years upon years of bad luck has changed us both." Sirius sighed. 

"Give it time, Pads. He's had to deal with whatever's been going on all on his own as well while everyone thought he was dead. It can't be easy. But he's here with us now. If anyone can get through to him, it's you. He wouldn't have stopped caring about you. Not after how close you were as kids." Remus reassured.

"I hope you're right," Sirius said, worrying his lip between his teeth.

"Come on, stop all that worrying for tonight. Let's just get some sleep, okay?" Remus encouraged, kissing Sirius where the crease between his brows had appeared.

"I'm glad to have you back. Merlin knows I've missed your reassurances and bloody optimism." 

"Oh, the real reasons why you married me are starting to come out now. I thought we would've lasted longer than three weeks, you know." Remus joked. Sirius pushed at his shoulder, grinning, and the two of them said goodnight to Harry and his friends, going into their room and closing the door behind them. 

"I'm looking forward to sleeping in a proper bed again." Remus yawned as they both began to get changed.

"What about the person you're sharing the bed with?" Sirius grinned. Remus sent him in amused look. 

"It depends on how much you toss and turn during the night." Remus retorted. 

"It won't be my fault tonight. Blame Moody for giving me that sleeping potion." 

They crawled under the covers and nestled closer together. For the first time in three weeks, there was comfort and peace in both of their hearts, comforted by the presence of each other nearby. 

~

Remus was jolted awake by the sound of someone knocking sharply at his bedroom door. He shifted slightly, opening his eyes and stretching. Sirius twitched slightly, noticing the movement, and tightened his arms around Remus' middle. He'd slept with his head on Remus' chest, their legs intertwined and buried under mountains of duvets and blankets. Sirius was always cold while he slept, no matter what time of year it was. 

"Come in!" Remus called softly, trying to sit up. Sirius made a noise and held on tighter, making Remus laugh. "Sirius, wake up!" 

He looked to his left and saw Harry poke his head around the door. 

"Hi," He said softly. He was in his uniform, but it was unruly and untidy, his tie undone and shirt untucked.

Fortunately, the weather had cooled dramatically and it was no longer too hot to sleep in just loose, baggy trousers, so at least Remus did not have to worry about making Harry uncomfortable by having his scars on full display.

"Morning, Harry. You alright?" Remus asked. "Sorry about this, Sirius isn't a morning person. He fingers tend to turn into talons whenever I try to move," He gestured to his inability to sit up.

Harry smiled. "It's alright. We're just getting ready to set off for school again. I wish I could stay longer, but I just wanted to say goodbye. And say that I'm glad you're safe." 

"Thank you, Harry. I'm glad as well. It'll be a while before I'm on another mission yet. Dumbledore will likely put me on the backbench after the other night, so I'll get some much needed time at home before I see any action." Remus told him. He tapped Sirius on the head. "Sirius, are you going to say goodbye to Harry?" When there was no response, Remus sighed. "Drastic times call for drastic measures." 

He moved his hands to Sirius' side and lightly wiggled his fingers. The desired effect was immediate. 

Sirius started flailing and laughing, trying to push at Remus' hands, allowing Remus to sit up. One of Sirius' flailing arms hit Remus in the face and then they both stopped. 

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry, Rem!" Sirius laughed. 

"You don't sound very sorry!" Remus chuckled, rubbing his jaw. "I suppose it's my own fault. Harry came to say goodbye. He and his friends are going back to school. I didn't want you to miss them." Sirius clambered over Remus to get off the bed, making Remus sigh in fond exasperation at how difficult Sirius made things for himself sometimes. Sirius tumbled off the bed, losing his balance slightly and pulling Harry into a tight hug. 

There were a few muttered words and several long seconds later, they pulled away.

"See you at Christmas, Remus," Harry said. 

"See you soon, Harry." Remus smiled. Harry closed the door as he left and Sirius walked back over to the bed. 

"Scoot over a bit, love," Sirius said. 

"This is my side of the bed," Remus replied, stretching out again and smirking. He loved small moments of childish idiocy, echoes of his old cheek and snark showing through the cracks in his adult self.

Sirius gave him a disapproving look and simply climbed over him, making sure to disrupt Remus' comfort as much as possible before settling into Remus' side, nestling his head in the crook of Remus' neck as Remus' arm came around his shoulders. 

"He's hiding something from us, Remus," Sirius whispered. 

"I know," Remus responded. "He was acting unusual at the wedding. He was spaced out and not himself. He had that same faraway look in his eyes that James used to get when he was worried during the first war." 

"We're almost in the endgame, arent we?" 

"I don't know, Sirius. We may have a year, five, or maybe a few months. I can only hope for Harry and his friends' sake that we deal with it before they have to fight. I don't want them having to struggle like we had to." 

"They'll be okay. They have to be. We have to protect them, keep them out of harm's way. I can't let Harry, James and Lily down any more than I already have."

"You haven't let any of them down, Sirius!" Remus said. "Neither of us have. We're doing our best. James and Lily would be proud that we're even here at all, that we're still fighting this and looking after Harry. They'd be cursing Regulus into the next world if they were here, but we can do better. We can get answers out of him."

"How? He won't talk to me!"

"Not yet he won't. Give it time. You needed time after Azkaban, and there are still things that you can't talk about now two and a half years later, not even to me. And that's okay, I don't ever expect you to want to talk to me about them. Try to think of it like that. There's dark magic surrounding him, Sirius. I can smell it on him. It makes Moony anxious, makes him uncomfortable. But your brother is still in there somewhere. We'll see how things go in the next month or so, and then start thinking of different options. Maybe Severus can make us a truth serum for him." 

Sirius took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. 

He's still in there. He's still my brother. 

~

Sirius was sent out on a mission to deal with some disappearances in Liverpool the following day. 

As Remus had expected, there was a very tensely worded congratulations on the successful retrieval of Regulus from Dumbledore, but an order for him to be on a 'temporary probation' of sorts. The same courtesy had been extended to both Molly and Tonks for complying and agreeing to help the werewolves, but they had received only two weeks of probation, while Remus was unable to go out into the field until further notice. 

Remus is to remain under temporary probation. This is not a house arrest, but a prohibition of fieldwork into the foreseeable future. 

Due to his agreement in helping the werewolves, to lend his skills to his own kind rather than to those in the wizarding community who wish to make his life mean something, and his inability to aid in the upkeep of a safe environment in Order Headquarters, this is a necessary precaution. 

~ Albus Dumbledore 

"He can't do that, surely!" Hope exclaimed as she read the letter. 

"He's the leader of the Order, he can do what he likes," Remus said bitterly. 

"Everyone talks about him as if he's some kind of hero, but he's just holding your condition over your head!"

"Werewolf rights are a difficult subject to argue on, Mum," Remus said, taking the letter back and burning it. It was common practice to always burn letters after receiving them when it came to sensitive matters about individual members of the Order. 

If the information of which wands were out of commission reached the wrong hands, it could expose a potential weakness in fights, could give the Death Eaters chance to plan their next move and bring down the Order. 

"He's a good man, deep down," Remus told her. "He's just trying to make sure that we're all united. I can see why he's angry. If something had happened out there; if we'd have gone missing, the Weasleys would've gone mental losing Molly. Andromeda and Ted would've been beside themselves without Tonks, and Sirius ... bloody hell, Sirius would've gone on a genuine killing spree this time, and he wouldn't have stopped until he was dead himself. It would break him if something happened to me. Everything has an effect, and we stand no chance against You-Know-Who if our members are falling apart at the seams."

"He's doing this to punish you for daring to disobey, Remus! He's sent your husband away the day after you get back after a highly successful mission, after nearly a month away! Does that not bother you?!" 

"Of course it bothers me!" Remus snapped. "I don't want Sirius to be almost completely alone out there! I don't want him to only have Kingsley as a partner. I want him safe, I want more backup for him. I want him to be here with me and not to have to worry about him, to actually get to spend some time with him as my husband! But we're in a war! We can't always have what we want! Life is unfair, and some of us just pull the short straw. Isn't that what you always taught me?" 

Hope faltered at that and the guilt immediately began to drift in. Remus hadn't wanted to snap. And certainly not at his mother. She was trying to advocate for him, just like she'd always been trying to do. It was in her nature to protect him. Remus, in part, would always be a scared five-year-old, not understanding why he was being locked in his room once a month and why he blacked out, why he couldn't remember things when that happened, why he sometimes woke up covered in blood with his toys broken. 

She would never stop seeing his tears after he'd been bitten, seeing so much blood and not understanding what had happened, whether her son would live to see the next day, and why her husband spiralled afterwards, afraid to get close to his son again.  

"I'm going to try and talk to Regulus." He said, his tone and voice returning to its usual softness and volume. 

He took the stairs two at a time, leaning against the bannister on the second floor and breathing heavily, letting himself feel the buildup of anger and hurt and longing from the last few weeks for only a minute, and then shoving it deep down again.

He could deal with it later. Right now, there was still work to be done.  

Chapter Text

Regulus had been quiet in the few days that he'd been back in Grimmauld Place. He had begun to accept fresh changes of clothes and had agreed for someone to finally cut his hair. Remus had been convinced to do it, with Regulus being untrusting of anyone else with sharp objects. 

"You wouldn't dare hurt me," Regulus said. "Not when you know how much it would hurt Sirius. You love my brother too much to ever be able to make that decision without him here. At least that's one thing I can trust about you." 

So there Remus was, doing for Regulus what he'd done for Sirius almost three years ago, the same thing he did at least once every three months when Sirius insisted his hair was a mess and needed trimming.

Regulus' hair was coarser than Sirius', which was soft and silky. His was ratty and knotted, tangled and greasy. It smelled like seawater and had likely been left to the elements over the years with very little care of what happened to it. It was damaged and fine, but had the same waves to it that Sirius had, just frizzier and less tamed. 

"I know you're dying to know what I've been doing all these years," Regulus said.

"Of course I am. We thought you were dead. We all heard the pain you were in during that last fight. Do you remember? It was snowing, it wasn't long after Sirius' twentieth birthday and he saw you."

"Dolohov sent a curse after him. The rat dived at Sirius to get him out of the way, and then he snapped back into it and hit me. With what spell, I don't know. It was so long ago, and I was in so much pain."

"We thought it had killed you. Sirius grieved for weeks, terrified and plagued with nightmares for the first time in almost three years. He thought he'd killed his brother." 

Regulus scoffed. "I had no idea he cared so much." 

"He never stopped caring. You're his brother, Reg." There was a poignant pause.

"I didn't ask to be put in Slytherin, you know. I wanted to be with Sirius, but I was so scared of what Mum and Dad would say." 

"I know." 

"It was all a rouse. I never hated my brother. I just ... I had to act like it so the others wouldn't suspect anything. Once I knew what was going on with all the pureblood families, I played along, got the Mark, tried to dismantle things from the inside."

"What do you mean?" Remus asked, careful not to still and sound suspicious. He was being careful to memorise everything Regulus told him now. This could be crucial to their operations. 

"There's more to this whole battle than you know. Haven't you ever wondered how the Dark Lord rose again after the power of Lily Potter's love for her son supposedly killed him?"

"Of course. We all have." 

"There is dark magic at work behind the scenes here. I've been trying to destroy it for twenty years, but it goes deeper than I'm able to reach. No matter what I try, there's something twisted that I can't do on my own." Regulus said. 

"So let us help you. We can try to give you immunity. Fudge isn't Minister anymore, Rufus Scrimgeour is in charge now, he's a fair and just man, he was an Auror." 

"You shouldn't try to protect me, Remus. I'm prepared to go to Azkaban for what I've done. I hurt and killed innocent Muggles and Order members that were only trying to do the right thing. I was involved in the death of the McKinnons. Rosier and I were the ones to report their safehouse to Travers, who then went in and wiped them all out in a single night while they slept." 

Remus stilled then, willing his hands to stop shaking as he closed his eyes and forced the tears back.

The Marauders had been friends with the McKinnons. Marlene had been in their year at school and she was a Gryffindor. She'd been especially close with Lily, as the two had been in the same dormitory as each other for seven years along with Dorcas Meadowes, a witch that had been killed by Lord Voldemort personally, and two other girls that Remus could no longer remember the names of. 

Lily and Peter had mourned the hardest after Marlene's death, and Remus hadn't known how to deal with the shock at the time. They'd been killed less than six months before James and Lily, just before everything had gone so, so wrong

"I know you were friends with her, and I'm sorry. I shouldn't have resorted to it. I shouldn't have let Rosier tell Travers where their safehouse was. I was too much of a coward to risk my own life in the hopes that it would save another's." Regulus said. "This is why I know I deserve Azkaban. I deserve nothing less than the Kiss." 

"No," Remus said. He carried on cutting Regulus' hair, almost completely done. "Travers deserves the Kiss. Pettigrew deserves it. They will never be sorry for the harm they've caused. But you've been fighting behind the scenes for twenty years. You've made some shitty decisions but you don't deserve to be put through the Kiss."

He put the scissors down and walked around to face Regulus eye to eye. 

"If I can look past all the sorrow that your family has caused people like me for centuries and marry one of you; if I can still believe that there's a light at the end of the tunnel when everything I love is snatched away from me in one night, if I can survive for twelve years, one hundred and forty-four full moons all on my own, get sick and malnourished and waste away in poverty, then I can forgive my brother in law for the sins that he committed to keep himself alive. I've done some scary things so that I could see another sunrise, too. I walk into hell for one night every month, never knowing what happens after the pain starts. I have to stitch myself back together, come crawling back to my humanity and forgive myself for the things I cannot control. This is the hardest lesson I've ever had to learn, and I am still learning it at almost thirty-seven years old. But, coming from a real monster, you don't deserve to suffer."

"You aren't a monster, Remus," Regulus said. "I know how much you love Sirius. I can see it in your eyes that you know there is no one else you would rather love than him, despite everything you've been through together, and a monster could never feel that. You are more human than beast. I am at peace with my mistakes. I'm ready to face the punishment for my crimes, but only because I know that my hotheaded, wild brother, the only thing I still love in this world, is in safe hands with you by his side."

Remus found himself touched at the words. There was no greater honour for him than the approval of Regulus, who he knew Sirius held in high regard despite the history between them.

"Are you going to turn yourself in?" Remus asked. 

"Yes," Regulus said. "If I admit to Mad-Eye or to 'Dromeda's daughter when it's their turn to keep watch of all the things I helped to carry out, they have obligations as Aurors to take me in for questioning."

"Then you have to tell me more about this dark magic. We need to fix it, and if you can't do it on your own, then we'll have to take over the job for you." 

"I thought you might say that." Regulus smiled. "Here's what I know."

~

Remus called an emergency meeting later that evening, telling everyone that he could what he knew. He'd fill in Mad-Eye and Tonks later, as they were still talking to Regulus, who was adamant about being taken to the Ministry for questioning.

"Regulus gave me this," Remus said, bringing a locket out of his pocket. "He said that the dark magic comes from this locket, and there may be other ones that Voldemort has, but Regulus isn't certain. This is the only one he's certain of. He thinks its housing part of You-Know-Who's soul, that if we destroy it, we destroy the piece of him living on. While part of his soul lives on, he cannot be defeated." 

"That's how he regained power. Because no one destroyed the locket." Molly breathed, her eyes displaying the sudden realisation. 

"Regulus called it a Horcrux," Remus said. "There might be others. But this is a start." 

"We need to start researching," Arthur said. "Remus, will you hide it? Do not tell any of us where you put it, we can't afford this information falling into the wrong hands." Remus nodded. 

"I'll let Sirius know when he comes home, but no one else. He'll be able to pick up on it. I think the magic in the house knows something about it as well, it's not too happy having it here." 

"Are you in tune with it now?" Lyall asked. "The house, I mean?" 

"I don't know. It just doesn't feel so hostile anymore. Mine and Sirius' souls are linked through a mating bite, it's a very strong and ancient kind of magic. It goes deeper than just marriage. And because of the magic in the foundations of the house, with Sirius being the heir and us being married now, it recognises me as family. That's how I can tell that it doesn't like the locket. I can very faintly feel it beginning to rise in protection." Remus explained.

"Hide it away somewhere safe and only tell Sirius. We'll have to speak to Dumbledore about this and we'll start research so we can send teams out in search of these Horcruxes. They're our best and only shot at stopping this war for good." Molly said. "We should call another meeting in a few days when everyone can be here." 

With that, the meeting ended and Remus returned to his and Sirius' room. He found the loose floorboard under the bed that Sirius had once told him existed. He'd had to use it to hide food so that he wouldn't starve if his parents decided to lock him in his room without food as a child. Remus pulled at it, opening it just enough to drop the locket into what was now a well-hidden compartment.

He took a deep breath and sat back once the floorboard was secured in place. He could feel something brush against the back of his neck, raw magic making the hairs there stand up. 

"I know you don't like having it here," Remus said. He'd never tried to address the house directly, thinking that it would be something that only Sirius would be able to achieve. "I know it's wrong. I can feel it, too. But we have to keep it safe until we can destroy it. I'm sorry. I'll do whatever I can to destroy it and keep us all safe. That's my priority." 

The magic swirled around his head again, tousling his hair in a way that felt comforting, and Remus took that as a positive note. The house accepted it and trusted him. Remus hadn't lied, he would do whatever he could to destroy the locket and any other Horcrux that reared its head. He would have to act fast, get the locket out of this house before the magic inside it poisoned the house against them all.

~

There were a few nights of Remus sleeping on his own, missing the comfort of Sirius' body next to him.

He'd managed, though. He tossed and turned and did his fair share of worrying. For the most part, it had taken hours for him to fall asleep, and he had been up every hour, startling himself with sudden phantom movements that he thought were Sirius. A lot of the time, it was just the draught from gaps in the windowsills, or raw magic swirling around him, still seeking Sirius out and finding only Remus, offering its silent strength at the loss of someone they both cared for.

This was one such night, with the full moon coming up in less than twenty-four hours and Moony battling with Remus' control over their shared body. Moony could sense the presence of the locket underneath his bed and often knocked the breath from Remus' lungs whenever the scent of it seemed to rise. He tugged and yanked against Remus' soul, desperate for him to get the locket far away from them.

Instead of listening to the snapping animal under his skin, Remus was sitting up in bed, smoking and reading, trying to tire himself out enough to force his body to sleep.

Neither he nor Moony could settle properly tonight. The silver light from an almost full moon shone through the gap in the curtains and Remus kept getting distracted by it, knowing that he would not see the moon at it's fullest for more than a moment or two the following night, and never directly. There were no windows to the outside world in the Shack, and Remus always kept his eyes averted from the moon if he was entering via the Willow, not wanting to make Moony worse.

He closed his book and went over to the window, opening the curtains wider and staring up at the sky, smoking quietly and letting his thoughts wander. Moony seemed to go quiet in his chest, both of them drinking in the sight of silver in the sky. Remus avoided the moon at all costs in the lead up to Moony's takeover. Somehow, Remus thought it would be rude, a taunt that it was almost Moony's time, but he still had to wait until exactly the right moment.

Remus had already been terrified of the moon and the beast that came with it. He couldn't remember the last time he'd looked up at it as it grew closer and saw it as beautiful rather than his worst nightmare. 

He wished he could appreciate it more. He loved the night sky. The stars and the peace and tranquillity that came with knowing everything was quiet and subdued. Not for the first time, his eyes were drawn towards one particular star. To Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the night sky. It was from the Canis Major constellation, and Remus had always likened it to his own Sirius. 

It had been fate, it seemed, for Sirius to have been given his name after such a star. It was as if his parents had known all those years ago that Sirius would be so bright that he lit up every room he walked in, that he would be the most visible person at any time, and that he would grow to be a dog in every sense of the word, as an Animagus and a friend. He was loyal and steadfast, trustworthy, and his love was so unwavering. Remus felt so lucky to feel it.

Sometimes, depending on the time of year and the rotation of the moon, The Dog would appear to be close to the moon in the sky, and on this night, the full moon and The Dog were so close to one another.

Yes, fate had brought the moon and The Dog together in more ways than one. Sometimes parted, but always close by. Much like Sirius and Remus, being pulled back to each other every time something tried to separate them. 

Arms slowly slid around Remus' waist and Remus smelt soil and ink and motor oil and leather, things that all he associated with home. No one else smelt like this. And Sirius could never seem to shake it. It had been years since he'd worn leather or had tinkered with his bike, which was still in Hagrid's possession, but somehow, Sirius always seemed to reek of oil. 

"Evening, my love," Sirius whispered, and Remus smiled, leaning back into Sirius' embrace as the shorter man rested his head on Remus' shoulder.

"Evening, dearest," Remus responded, taking a drag of his cigarette and handing it back to Sirius, holding it steady as Sirius took a deep drag and letting out a strong gust of smoke before returning it to his own mouth.

"What are you looking at?" Sirius asked. 

"Just at the sky, thinking how beautiful it all is." 

"Even the moon?" Sirius asked. "We're so close to the full."

"Is that why you aimed to get home tonight? So that you could be here in case I changed my mind about letting you come with me tomorrow?" Remus asked, looking over his shoulder carefully so that he didn't headbutt Sirius.

"Or so that I could be here if you needed me in the morning," Sirius told him. "Isn't Moony restless?" Remus shook his head and smiled, looking back out into the sky and pointing with his cigarette.

"The moon has a companion tonight. The brightest star in the sky, The Dog, whatever you want to call it. But the moon has a Sirius to keep it company at the end of its cycle this month, and so do me and Moony." 

"Does this mean that you'll let me join you tomorrow?" Sirius asked, nestling closer and holding Remus tighter.

Remus swallowed hard and closed his eyes. He had been too scared of letting Sirius join him during the fulls ever since he'd escaped from Azkaban, ever since he'd gotten his pardon. Remus had been so used to hurting himself that having Sirius around after so long, especially after the full moon from Harry's third year where he had forgotten his potion, terrified him. He couldn't bear the idea that he would hurt Sirius.

Even after all these years, these desperate attempts to believe that he and Moony were not the same, that they were completely separate entities, Remus couldn't help but fall into bad habits and blame himself for the sins of hurting his friends that burdened his soul. They were sins that had been out of his control but had been used against him his whole life by society.

But at the same time, Remus hated doing this on his own, feeling the same anticipation and fear that he had as a child and teenager. Now, his parents would not be greeting him from the bunker under the shed in the morning. James and Peter would not be sleeping on the bed in the Shack, Sirius would not be slumped over on the piano stool, head resting in his arms and getting a crick in his neck.

Remus would be waking up on his own, in a room surrounded by dust, long since abandoned by the boys who had once used it as their hideout, who had turned a hellish cage for a growing werewolf into a safe place for them to land. Those walls had contained a werewolf, they had held the shrieks and screams of something desperate to be free and of a teenager that was in pain, but it had also contained that teenager and his best friends' greatest moments, laughing and plotting out the Marauder's Map, listening to Sirius play the piano, teasing and taunting one another. They had all been so unaware of the pain and sorrow that awaited them once they'd left the castle grounds for good. 

Remus needed someone by his side again tomorrow night. Unconsciously, he'd walled off this half of himself again, even to Sirius. But Sirius knew exactly what hid behind that wall, accepted and loved him anyway. And Remus needed him there.

"Remus, please, let me help you. I don't want you to get hurt, and Moony will hurt you. It's the only thing about him that I struggle to accept and the only thing that I can prevent." Sirius pleaded. 

"Okay." Remus breathed. 

"Really?" Remus could hear the smile in Sirius' voice. 

"Really. Albus has been letting me use the Shrieking Shack again over the last few months. We'll be okay. We just ... have to pretend that they're still with us." Remus croaked.

They. He couldn't bring himself to think of Peter without thinking of the boy he'd been, with hair that went bleach blonde in the summer and who was loyal to a t. He was light on his feet, despite his weight, and was brilliant as a lookout during pranks. He'd been so different, so cowardly and snivelling when they'd last seen each other, and Remus was heartbroken to see how they'd all grown and changed.  

"We'll get through it, Moony. You and I ... we always do." Sirius said, hugging Remus tighter, knowing exactly what he was thinking. "I don't know how we'll manage with just me, I don't think we've ever tried with only one of us. But we'll be okay. He won't hurt me " 

"I hope you're right, Sirius," Remus said apprehensively. 

"Come to bed, love. It's been a long day, you look you could do with the rest, and I can barely sleep without you beside me." Remus stubbed out his cigarette after taking one final drag. Sirius got changed and shifted into Padfoot, jumping up onto the bed and waiting for Remus to join him. 

When Remus was comfortably settled, Padfoot laid his head on Remus' stomach, with Remus' fingers buried in his fur, both hoping that Moony might be comforted tonight by his and Remus' four-legged companion.

~

"Hey, Sirius, how come this piano is just sat here without anyone using it? Is this what other pureblood families do; just let things go to waste?" Ron asked.

Sirius had just walked into the living room with two fresh cups of tea for him and Remus. He handed Remus' mug to him and looked over at the piano sat tucked into the corner of the room. He hadn't touched it except to clean it, which he always did by hand. It was too delicate to be cleaned by magic, and Sirius found it relaxing and methodical doing it the Muggle way.

Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the twins were once again staying for the weekend. They had been pestering McGonnagall and begging her to let them spend some time with Remus, Sirius, Molly and Tonks now that they knew everyone was home safe. It had taken five days of begging, but she'd finally gotten permission from Dumbledore and Molly to allow them home for one final visit before Christmas on special circumstances. 

The Weasleys were also a Sacred Twenty-Eight family, but they were not in any way from the kind of old money that Sirius was from. Sirius almost envied them. Their bond with each other came from pure love rather than forced familiarity and power. Money, like many things, was only good if you had someone to share it with. The idea that someone could have something so beautiful and so expensive and not use it was unfathomable to the Weasleys. 

"Sort of. A lot of us who come from old money have artefacts and nonsense lying around in display just to show off. The piano can't be moved elsewhere. The floorboards in the attic wouldn't be able to bear the weight and none of the bedrooms are big enough for a baby grand. I clean it by hand to stop it from gathering dust. Remarkably, it's stayed in good condition all these years, but it's not just something to show off. My parents hired tutors for my brother and I to learn separate instruments to entertain them and their guests with while we were growing up. I played the piano and Reg played the violin."

"Which, conveniently, is tucked away in the attic," Regulus said from an armchair near the fire. He would be going to the Ministry in the morning. This was his compromise for going without a fight, to sit in his home properly for the last time as a free man. "I saw it up there the other day. It's still in its case, I think."

"You never looked inside?" 

"No, I thought it would be some cruel trick. You always hated it when I played the violin."

"You used to torment me with foul notes as a prank when our parents were out, I think I'm allowed to be hesitant to go near the ruddy thing," Sirius said. 

"Brotherly fun is permitted sometimes, Sirius. Merlin knows you used to get up to some shenanigans with James Potter." There was a twang of bitterness in Regulus' voice as he said James' name. 

"You're not still jealous of him, are you, Reg?" Sirius asked, the words thick and heavy in his mouth. He had always hated the tension between James and Regulus that had developed after Sirius had left home. It had felt like picking between two impossible options. In the end, the choice had been made for him, with him leaving Hogwarts before he and Regulus had the chance to make up. James had been there with a smile and a hug whenever he needed it.

"Of course not. After all, I was only suspected dead." He said. He cast an apologetic look at Harry. "I'm sorry for the bluntness, Harry. I don't mean to be cruel, but there are some things that are still hard to accept from our youth, like how close James and Sirius were when Sirius left home." Harry nodded stiffly, coming to terms with the idea that there was animosity between old acquaintances of his parents, that not everyone had liked his father. 

"Can you both still play?" Hermione asked softly. "I had some piano lessons when I was little, but not many." 

"It's been a very long time," Sirius stated. "I doubt I remember very much at all." 

"He's lying, he knows he still remembers everything," Regulus said with a grin. "You can always tell when he's lying." 

"Shut up, Regulus, no you can't!" 

"What do you mean, you can always tell when Sirius lies?" Harry asked, smiling softly at the teasing tones and the way that Sirius and Regulus brought out each other's inner children. 

"His nostrils flare and he never looks you in the eye when he lies." Regulus and Remus said simultaneously, without even thinking. They smirked at each other and Sirius gently tugged on Remus' hair. 

"Oi, stop partnering up with my brother to make fun of me. It's not fair." He said sulkily. Remus sat up properly from where he was curled up, his back pressed up against the arm of the sofa and his feet on the cushions. He put his tea down and kissed Sirius' hand, placing it gently against his cheek. 

"Play something, Padfoot. You and Regulus. If not for your brother's last night here, then for me. It's the full tonight and you know how Moony and I get on a normal day, let alone before the full moon."

"Moony-"

"You always used to play for me at school. Do you remember? We used to sneak down to the Shack sometimes, even when it wasn't close to the full. You'd play just so that I wouldn't feel so anxious. I used to fall asleep on your shoulder and you would carry me to the bed, even when I hit my growth spurt and grew taller than you, and we'd sleep so well with all the room instead of being crammed together in our dormitory beds. It's been so long, and Moony is taking my breath away tonight. He feels like an anvil crushing my lungs, and this comforts us. Please play for me."

Remus was smiling, his eyes gaining back the light and brightness, that glimmer of their previous life that they'd had all those years ago. It was as if the memories were enough to resurrect him, reattach him to the boy he'd been. 

Sirius was hit with the memories then, the way Remus had looked at him, how he had smiled and begged Sirius to play more. He had fallen asleep so many times on Sirius' shoulder while he played, and Sirius had learnt how to play simpler pieces so that he wouldn't jostle Remus so much, making sure that he was always asleep properly before stopping and carrying him to bed. 

"Alright," Sirius said softly. He was weak for Remus, for those mossy green eyes that lit up so beautifully with love for him. He summoned Regulus' violin from the attic and smiled at his brother as he immediately bent over it, fiddling around and testing it out, trying to retune some of the strings. He looked back to Remus, leaning down to press a kiss to Remus' forehead. "But only for you, my love." 

Chapter Text

Remus' ears were ringing as he woke. He felt unbelievably sore and dizzy. There was a weight lying over his stomach and Remus fumbled for it, finding familiar shaggy fur and feeling the deep breaths from the softhearted dog that had accompanied him last night.

If Remus' stretched and sore muscles hadn't felt ten times worse than they'd ever felt as a teenager, Remus might've believed that he was his younger self again. This was familiar. As a teenager, sometimes he would wake up with the dog on his stomach, other times with Sirius laying nearby, but his presence was always there, and always a comfort. 

He'd spent a small amount of time over the last few months getting rid of the dust and mould in the Shack, trying to make it seem more alive again. He knew that one day, he'd give in to letting Sirius come with him to spend the full moons as they had so many years ago, but he'd not expected it so soon. 

The dog sprawled out on him seemed to sense he was awake, noticing the shift in his breathing and feeling the fingers carding through his fur, and he sat up, sniffing around and nudging at Remus' face to get him to open his eyes properly. 

"Yeah, I'm awake, Pads." Remus croaked groggily, scratching Padfoot behind the ears and opening his eyes to see the familiar brown eyes, ringed with amber and more humanlike than Sirius was sometimes as a human, staring right at him. Padfoot nuzzled his face into Remus' cheek again in comfort, and Remus took it as an 'I'm glad you're alive'. "I'm alright. It's nothing I haven't done before. Are you okay?" 

Padfoot inclined his head to signal yes and Remus pushed himself up carefully so that he could sit, surveying the room around him.

He was on the floor, as he usually was. He'd never fallen asleep on the bed after a full moon. He always passed out as soon as he transformed back, only seeing brief glimpses of his friends changing back into humans as well before the world faded into darkness.

From the times he and Sirius had fallen asleep on the bed during nights where neither of them could sleep, Remus remembered it being comfortable, and infinitely better to sleep in than the cramped bunks in the dormitories. Now, it was probably nowhere near as comfortable after being abandoned for so many years.

Nothing was aching or strained too much. He had some faint scratches that were starting to sting along his back, both they were nothing he couldn't deal with. Sirius shifted back into himself and handed Remus his clothes. 

"How was it last night?" Remus asked. 

"You still never remember any of it?" Sirius replied. 

"I gave up trying after you went away. Full moons become the only time where I could forget." Remus said, pulling on his clothes slowly, his muscles screaming out in pain as they begged him to just sit still, lie down, do anything other than move right now. 

"It was fine, honestly. It was all muscle memory. Padfoot was nipping at Moony's heels and distracting him from the moment he came out; before I'd even had a chance to gather my thoughts. The only bad bit was-"

"The screams." Remus finished.

He remembered vividly the way that Sirius would sob into his shoulder when they were teenagers. He'd felt selfish about how upset he was over the full moon when he wasn't the one going through the pain of it every month. But Sirius had always hated the screams. It had always been hard for him to keep himself as Padfoot once they started, and they had had so many close calls over the years as Sirius had wanted to comfort Remus through them, hug him and tell him that it would be okay. 

It was why he'd reacted that way during the final full moon of Harry's third year at Hogwarts. Sirius had been reacting off that fear, of that hatred of seeing Remus in pain. Even before the screams had begun, he'd wanted Remus to still be of sound mind when he heard the reassurances that he and Moony were not the same, that he was a man and not a beast, that it was just one night a month.

Remus had never told Sirius how much it had meant to him to finally have his best friend back in his arms, reminding him of everything he had needed to hear after twelve years of dealing with the full moon alone, when he'd had them all for so many years and had gotten used to to the routine they'd had, only to have it snatched away so quickly. 

This heart is who you truly are, Remus! This heart here! You know the man you truly are! This flesh is only flesh!

Remus' transformations had always been taxing on all the Marauders, but they'd never complained. They'd joked, given Remus chocolate, let him snap and get angry at them and cry on their shoulders, let the emotions overwhelm him whenever he'd needed them to. But they'd always reminded him that he was himself every other moment of the month and whatever happened on the full moons were not his fault. 

"Merlin, the screams never get easier to hear," Sirius whispered, closing his eyes. The agony in his voice was enough to make Remus' heart shatter. He reached for Sirius' hand and kiss it. 

"I'm not in that much pain anymore. Once he's here, I don't notice anything until I wake up."

"I forgot how much I hated the resignation in your voice at it all, Moony," Sirius said softly, opening his eyes again. "You never used to sound like this. You hated it sometimes too, but you were always so determined to not let him get the best of you. Where did my stubborn Remus go?"

"He went to Godric's Hollow with you on Halloween night in 1981 and never returned. I haven't seen him in years." Remus tried to joke. He knew that it was a terrible thing to joke about, that part of him had died with James and Lily that night, part of him had gone with Sirius to Azkaban, and part of him had gone with Peter into a supposed grave. There was little of the young Remus Lupin left for himself.

"That's not true. I see him sometimes. He's still in there. You're just scared to think what might happen if you let him out; if you let the walls around you heart down again."

"I think I have every reason to be scared of that, Padfoot. I got a few short years of bliss when I did the last time, but it never lasts. Some of us just draw the short straw in life, and unfortunately, I'm one of them."

Remus was crying now. He wished he wouldn't. He knew it wouldn't help, it never did, but something was broken inside him that he was scared of fixing. He'd let James and Lily rest in peace for months now. He remembered them in fondness rather than in heartbreak that left him breathless. "I never get happiness for long enough. I count my lucky stars every day that you're still in my arms. God knows you and Harry are the only good things that I have left." 

Sirius pulled him close. "See? There he is. I remember you, scared and fearful for the future, crying into my clothes every night for a week straight in our seventh year because you were terrified that nothing would bond us together after Hogwarts."

"Nothing did bond all of us together, Sirius! Peter-"

"Peter is a slimy little rat that should never be allowed to see the light of day again for what he made us all go through. You, me, and Harry all had to suffer because of him. I can only hope that things were quick and painless for James and Lily because it sure hasn't been for us over the years. You don't have to be scared of losing me anymore, Remus. I'm not going anywhere."

"You promised that years ago-"

"And I meant it! I shouldn't have been sent away, it wasn't my choice. But you know what my choice was? Coming back to you. You're my soulmate. I'm linked with you forever, Remus. I would choose to have that every day for the next century if we're lucky to get that long." Sirius pulled back to cup Remus' face. "I love you. I am never leaving you again. Even when I die first in a heroic blaze, saving lives and causing trouble, I'll come back to haunt your arse." 

Remus laughed wetly. It was such a Sirius thing to say that he couldn't help but forget about the post full moon blues making it hard for him to breathe. 

"You can't come back to haunt me if I die first. Werewolves don't have a long life expectancy."

"How about we agree to die at the same time?" Remus threw his head back as he laughed.

"That's not how it works, Sirius."

"Well, we've always liked a challenge, haven't we?" Sirius shrugged. "Besides, nothing's impossible when you're a Marauder. We'll die heroically together, just you wait." 

Remus rolled his eyes and smiled fondly. He wiped at the remaining traces of wetness on his cheeks. "Come on. Help me up, will you?" 

~

Remus was leaning heavily on his cane, wincing at every shoot of pain that went through his leg. His left wrist was broken, as were three of his fingers on that hand, he had deep scratches along his hips that they’d managed to heal over, and had sprained his ankle in the full moon last night. It was now December time, and the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione had all returned to Grimmauld Place for the holidays and had been in the house for the last week and a half. Remus found himself loving all the chaos and bustle of having people living closeby. 

For the past month, Sirius had been slowly using the piano more and more, gaining for confidence to indulge himself in an old pleasure. To hear the house filled with music was a relief to everyone. Things seemed to be lightening up a bit. 

Remus had been dismayed to find out that December's full moon bad been on Christmas Eve, knowing full well that he would be spending Christmas Day in pain. He remembered the last time the holidays had been ruined by his lycanthropy. December's full moon in 1977, Remus' final year at Hogwarts, had been on Christmas Day. The Marauders had all gone home for the holidays but had surprised him by waiting for him in the Shrieking Shack, not wanting to miss a full moon. 

Remus had been miserable all day. He missed his friends terribly, and he'd been in tears more times than he could count over the last week that his friends had been gone. He had to stay at the castle for Christmas this year, with Christmas Day being December's full moon. 

"Are you ready to go, Mr Lupin?" McGonnagall asked softly, appearing at the door to his dormitory. Remus nodded, casting one last look around the room and taking a deep breath before he slid off his bed, following McGonnagall down and out of the Gryffindor Tower. McGonnagall was early, but he knew that she was being proactive, she wanted to keep Remus and everyone around him safe.

He hastily wiped at his eyes when they walked out of the tunnel leading into the common room. All he wanted was to spend Christmas with somebody. Usually, he would've joked that two weeks away from his friends' distractions were a godsend, but everyone could see how much of a lie it was. Everyone knew that Remus thought the world the other Marauders, that he loved them with all his whole being and being away from them for any period was an unhappy time for him. 

But it was unfair of him to expect them to stay at Hogwarts. Not when Peter was such a mother's boy, or when James and Sirius loved getting smothered in attention by James' parents.

Mrs Pomfrey was waiting for them by the Hospital Wing, joining them to make sure that Remus was completely comfortable. She and McGonnagall knew how lonely he'd been feeling without his friends to comfort him and had offered to walk him down to the Shack as though he were still small.

Neither of them had done it in years, not since Remus had assured them that he could handle it by himself in his third year. They'd offered now though.

'One last full moon before you leave us forever', they'd said, knowing that Remus would have his friends around for the rest of the year. 

Remus had been so grateful that he'd almost burst into tears. 

"Oh, Remus, you poor thing, is everything alright?" Madame Pomfrey asked, noticing the way Remus was trying to blink the tears away now, as he had been when McGonnagall and Madame Pomfrey had offered to do this.  

Remus gave her his bravest smile, but it was ruined by the tears now having a chance to fall. 

"Don't mind me, I always get emotional this time each month. It just usually makes me snappy instead of teary. I don't think he likes not having the boys around either. He's used to being able to smell them nearby, so we're both a little sad about it." Remus assured, wiping his eyes. McGonnagall put a hand on his shoulder. She and Madame Pomfrey gave him sympathetic smiles. 

"Well, maybe it won't be so bad this month if he's sad instead of angry," McGonnagall said. 

"I wouldn't count on it, Professor. If anything, it'll just make it worse. I'll be alright though, it won't be the first full moon with a slew of bad injuries. I'll be as feeling right as rain in no time." Remus told her. They continued walking and he gritted his teeth against the feeling of Moony tugging at his soul. 

"You're braver than you know, Remus." Madame Pomfrey said. "I know you doubt yourself sometimes, but I don't know many seventeen-year-olds who could face this for as long as you have and still be as kind and hardworking as you are. I don't want you to ever forget that every member of staff in this castle is more proud of you than you will ever know. And we wish we could do more to help you." 

Remus sniffled, rubbing at his eyes again, muttering a thank you as he quietly sorted himself out. He abhorred crying. It made him tired and gave him a headache that he struggled to shake. The last thing he wanted to do was to be in more pain when the moon finally reached its highest point.

When the three of them reached the Whomping Willow, Remus looked at the tree in confusion. "Did you already freeze the branches?"

"We wanted to make things as easy as possible for you tonight. Everything's set up inside, there are some chocolates and books tucked under the bed. We brought you down here a bit early so that you could relax a little. It's a bit of a Christmas present, to reduce some of the stress on your shoulders." McGonnagall told him. Remus beamed, thanking her earnestly. 

Madame Pomfrey and McGonnagall followed him inside, letting Remus lead the way.  Remus froze when he reached the main room of the Shack, seeing the familiar stag, rat and dog waiting for him. 

"I-wh-what's going on?" Remus stammered. The three of them shifted into their human forms, wearing matching grins. 

"Merry Christmas, Moony." 

It turned out that McGonnagall had known about the Marauders becoming Animagi, as she had once gone through the procedure herself, and had noticed the change in Remus after it was complete, how he miraculously injured himself less, how quickly he seemed to recover, how much happier and at ease he seemed to be in the surrounding days.

She'd pieced it together that they were doing it to try and help Remus and had let them carry on with it. The other staff that taught the Marauders, as well as Dumbledore, were all made aware and had left them alone to support Remus the best way they could. The Marauders had found the books and ingredients they'd needed with ease thanks to the teachers keeping an eye on them, ready to mop up their messes and nudge them in the right direction when they stumbled.

The whole situation had meant the world to the four of them then. Remus remembered it with great fondness. 

"You alright?" Sirius asked softly, putting a hand on the small of Remus' back as Remus stilled for a moment, willing the sudden flare of pain in his leg to simmer down. 

He nodded and carried on, discarding his robes on the hook by the door and walking through to the kitchen. Everyone was in the living room, sprawled out, as usual, sleepy but excited. 

"Merry Christmas, everyone!" Sirius greeted brightly. He was tired, drained by the previous night's full moon, but he was being as cheery as he could. There was a chorus of responses, and Remus limped over to the sofa. Sirius followed, offering a hand for him to lean on as he slowly sunk into it, wincing slightly. 

"Do you need anything, Remus?" Molly asked. 

"Some better bandages would be brilliant if you have them. My ones are only good for scratches."

"What's the inventory this time?"

"Three broken fingers and a broken wrist," Remus told her. 

"And a sprained ankle," Sirius called after her as she left, bringing over the piano stool and set it up in front of Remus. "Stick your leg up on this. It'll be good to keep your foot elevated." 

"Someone remembers all of Madame Pomfrey's lessons." Remus chuckled, doing as Sirius suggested and thanking Molly when she came back into the living room with fresh bandages, enchanted to be stronger and thicker and to keep everything in the right place. 

"How was last night?" Lyall asked. 

"Same as usual. Snapping and snarling and causing carnage. The Shack still holds him remarkably well considering how long its been abandoned."

"He was quite tame, actually," Sirius said, putting some anti-swelling and ointments to reduce the bruising on Remus' wrist before slowly and carefully wrapping bandages around his fingers and hand, going just further than his wrist. "It was an easy night. I think he remembers Padfoot from when we were teenagers. He's enjoyed having a friend these past two moons."

"Of course he remembers you. Merlin knows you spent most of your time as him after you became an Animagus. We both got used to the smell." Remus said. 

"Are you saying we stink?" Sirius asked, an undertone of laughter of his voice. 

"If the shoe fits." Remus shrugged, smirking at him. Sirius poked his tongue out and gently set Remus' hand on the arm of the chair before sitting down. "Right! We're not too late for presents, are we?" 

~

Sirius was shivering under the thick blanket wrapped around him. He was tucked against Remus' right side, head buried in the crook of Remus' neck, eyes closed and breathing heavily. He was wearing the jumper the Molly had knitted for Remus, which drowned him completely. The children had long since gone to bed, leaving the rest of the residents of Grimmauld Place to drink Firewhiskey and have some adult time to themselves after a hectic Christmas Day.

"Do you think I should've made him a jumper instead?" Molly asked apprehensively. Remus yawned and shook his head. 

"No, he loves scarves. He just also loves my jumpers. They comfort him." He said. 

"What are we going to do about these Horcruxes? Albus hasn't responded to any of our letters about them, it's been well over a month!" Arthur said. 

"We need to take matters into our own hands," Kingsley said.

"No! If we do that, he'll put more of us on probation, and we need as many wands at the ready as possible." Mad-Eye hissed. "He still hasn't sent word on whether Lupin is allowed into fieldwork again and it's been almost two months. We can't afford to lose anyone else. Lupin's absense alone has made enough of a dent in our firepower."

"Maybe it would be best to wait until the holidays are over and then ask Albus again. Maybe he's away from Hogwarts on business." Remus said. 

"Do you really think we can afford to wait that long?" Molly asked. 

"We don't really have much more of a choice. We just have to hope that this locket is the only one of them, that the house won't get poisoned by it." Remus said. "If we can keep it safe until we figure out how to destroy it, then we can end this. We can avoid a proper war, keep the children safe." 

"I hope for their sakes that you're right, Remus. Every day that we wait is another day that You-Know-Who is closer to achieving his goals. You said yourself that the werewolf packs have gone quiet since Regulus was convicted and sent to Azkaban. We're fighting a losing battle."

"Let me give them a chance to recover from last night," Remus said. "We weren't joking when we talked about how much more difficult the full moons have been feeling these last few months. They've been draining all of us more than usual, it can't be a coincidence. If we can figure out what's happening, and if it's happening to the packs on You-Know-Who's side, then we can plan and try to exploit it. We just need time." 

Chapter Text

Remus was covered in dirt and dust. His clothes were tattered, torn and bloody. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had a warm bed and a proper shower instead of a sleeping bag and any pond, lake, stream or river that he and his fellow Order members stumbled across. 

Kingsley, Arthur, Sirius and Remus were all together in a group searching for Horcruxes. Just over a month previously, they'd Apparated to Hogsmeade, snuck into the Shrieking Shack with Remus and Sirius leading the way, their feet having walked every route the Shack a million times before, knowing exactly how and when their opportunity to touch the root and freeze the tree would arrive. This had given them the chance to transfer the locket over to Dumbledore. 

"I've already gathered multiple items that I suspect to be Horcruxes. I'm glad another one has fallen into our possession." Dumbledore said. He pulled out a ring and a book with a gaping hole through it. "These are the two I've found already."

"Albus, your hand!" Arthur exclaimed. Dumbledore tucked the book and the ring back into his pockets, letting his hands be hidden in the robes once again. 

"The ring had a curse placed on it. Severus has kept it contained in my hand. The curse has been disabled now. It can still be destroyed." Dumbledore said. He held out his healthy hand to Kingsley, who was carrying the locket."Hogwarts is the safest place for them all. This makes three of them altogether."

"How many do you think there are?" Remus asked. 

"I've counted seven thus far," Dumbledore told them. "I'm not sure where they are, or what form they all take, but the murders You-Know-Who personally committed in his youth while acquiring things of value to his past end at seven. Horcruxes are created by murdering someone, so that must be how many there are."

"So how do we find the others?" Kingsley asked.

"He's obsessed with the idea of keeping things pure, the way Slytherin would've wanted. Maybe it's something to do with that?" Arthur mused. 

"The locket belonged to Salazar Slytherin," Dumbledore said. "The sword of Godric Gryffindor had basilisk's venom seared into it when Harry killed it in the Chamber of Secrets. It can destroy Horcruxes. That's two artefacts to do with the Hogwarts Founders linked to these items."

"Could artefacts from Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw be worth looking into?" Kingsley asked. 

"It's as good of a start as any. Good work, all of you. I want as many wands as we can spare going out to look for anything that might be of value. I'd like for Remus, Kingsley, Arthur and Lyall to carry on as you are. Get some money and some food and water together, and start immediately." Dumbledore ordered. "Remus, I'm allowing you back into fieldwork. Do not take it for granted this time, or I will not be so forgiving." 

"I'll go, but on one condition," Remus said. Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "Sirius comes with us."

Remus could feel Sirius' eyes on him but he kept his gaze fixed solely on Dumbledore. He knew that Sirius hadn't been expecting it. Remus hadn't even meant to, but it was all he could think about, was not being parted from Sirius again. He could feel in the pit of his stomach that something big was coming, and he wanted Sirius beside him at all times. To keep an eye on him and to keep him safe. 

"Remus, you will only-"

"We won't distract each other-"

"Your loyalties to one another will put others in jeopardy if something goes wrong. You cannot guarantee you will not put Sirius' safety and life above all else." Dumbledore said. "This is an incredibly dangerous mission, I need everyone focused on the Horcruxes, not their relationships."

"You said you wanted as many wands as we can spare on this," Remus said. "You put me on probation partially because, according to you, I contributed to making headquarters an unsafe place. The decision was made to leave Sirius behind because we didn't want him to be put in an emotionally difficult situation. We don't know how long we'll be out in the field, and we won't be able to make a lot of communication with the rest of the Order. Sirius is less likely to get worried and be unable to control the house's magic if he's with us."

"And neither of us would deny that we would put each other first, Dumbledore. That's how we've always been, and we probably won't ever change." Sirius said. "But we're stronger as a team. You know that." 

Dumbledore observed them for a few more seconds, thinking over what had been said, and finally concluded. "Alright. Both of you are on the team. Do not let me down." 

They had been on the road, trying to track down antique dealers and illegal peddlers that travelled the backroads of the major cities, hidden in the shadows in between the joins that linked the wizarding world to the Muggle world, for over a month now, ever since leaving the Shack. They'd brought the bare necessities with them. 

So far, everything that they'd tried had been a bust. Mundungus Fletcher had been trying to give them as much help as possible with the names and haunts of larger name peddlers that might know something, but his usual cowardice and penchant for being a smuggler and a thief himself often meant that he was more of a hindrance than a help.

"We're not any closer to getting the other Horcruxes." Sirius croaked.

He was tired and thirsty. All of them were. This was the first time they'd had a chance to go to a Muggle corner shop and stock up on water in days. The last of their water rations had been used up yesterday, and everyone was now sat guzzling water while sat along the seafront in Littlehampton in West Sussex. It was early evening, what was supposed to be dinnertime, and they were debating whether or not to follow suit of other groups of Order members looking into the Horcruxes. Most of them had returned to Grimmauld Place, and this was the final group to not be back in London. 

"And we should be there to exchange information," Remus added, rubbing at his face tiredly.

He was exhausted, and he felt awful. Tonight would be his second full moon since embarking on the mission to search for Horcruxes, and he was struggling. He'd not been able to travel to the Shrieking Shack for his last full moon, as the distance was too much for him to Apparate too. Instead, he'd found an old farmhouse on their mission and had used that instead. 

"Stay at least twenty miles away in any direction at all times," Remus warned. 

"Why?" Kingsley asked

"Because Moony will smell you otherwise. He's got a stronger sense of smell than a regular wolf, and this is the first time that I've spent a full moon in an unfortified place. That, on its own, is enough to make him more dangerous than normal. There is nothing except Sirius and Padfoot stopping him from killing you all if he smells you."

"Does he not recognise us as friends?" Arthur asked. 

"No," Remus said simply. "It's different to when we have Padfoot. He's known Padfoot for twenty odd years. He feels the pull of the magic that links our shared soul to Sirius and Padfoot's. Moony wouldn't be able to bear hurting him, part of our soul would be ripped away from us. It would be excruciatingly painful, more so than the actual transformation." 

"Twenty miles is the minimum for a reason. Hogsmeade is within twenty miles of Hogwarts, and Moony always goes batshit crazy at the smell of the villagers." Sirius said. "We'll see you in the morning." He grabbed Remus' hand and there were a few 'good luck's' given to them before the Disapparated. 

"We still need to report to Dumbledore first, though." Arthur reminded them. 

"Sirius and I can go, you three go back to Grimmauld Place," Remus said. "We need to be there anyway, we need the Shack for the full tonight." 

"Are you sure you'll be alright to get there in time?" Lyall asked. 

"We'll take in turns doing the jump. We'll stop outside London somewhere, maybe in Essex. Then we'll get to York, then to Edinburgh, then to Hogsmeade." Sirius said. 

"How will you let Dumbledore know you're coming?" Lyall asked.

"Do you think you'll be able to get into Hogwarts without people kicking up a fuss?" Sirius asked Remus.

Remus had been incredibly careful to avoid getting caught near the Hogwarts grounds while using the Shack for the full moons. He knew there would be hell to pay if he was spotted wandering the corridors as an ex-Professor who was also a known werewolf. But it was a bad idea for Sirius to be sneaking around on school grounds with the controversy still surrounding his name. Many people were still scared of him, so it would have to be Remus to go into the castle and coax Dumbledore out of his office for a quick debriefing. 

"You could say that I have a helping hand," Remus flicked his wand and a familiar piece of parchment appeared in his hand.

"I thought Harry had it." Sirius frowned. Remus winced slightly.

"I'll have to ask Albus to return it to him if we don't see him. It's a bit of a necessity right now, and it'll always respond best to us." Remus said. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." He tapped the parchment with his wand and the map came to life.

"What are the others saying today, Moony?" Sirius asked, peering over Remus' shoulder.

"Messr Wormtail would like to welcome Messr Moony back to his legacy. Messr Padfoot agrees with Messr Wormtail and would like to know what took Messr Moony so long to use his most successful idea again. Messr Prongs welcomes Messr Moony home. He would also like to congratulate Messr Moony on his wedding to Messr Padfoot, and tell him they're both fucking idiots for not getting it done years ago."

"Well, they're not wrong, love." Sirius laughed.

Remus opened the map up, years of comfort with this item meaning that he had it flipped open and was scanning over the pages with ease, looking for any sign of Snape or Filch. They would be the hardest to avoid, and the ones that Remus knew would do anything to get him into trouble. 

"We'll have to check again when we get there, but right now, it looks like Filch is skulking about in his office, and Snape is in the dungeons. He'll probably be teaching a class. If we're quick, we'll be able to get Albus' attention and get back out before anyone notices we're there."

"This is one of those moments where James' Invisibility Cloak would've come in handy." Sirius sighed. 

"Somehow, I don't think two fully-grown men would fit under it like we used to." Remus chuckled. "Besides, I've already borrowed one thing from Harry without asking today, I'd rather not do it again." 

"We're going to head back to Grimmauld Place if you're sure that you can handle this," Kingsley said. "Don't dither, get in and out fast. We can arrange the meeting for tomorrow and see what the other groups have found out. Good luck with the full moon tonight." 

Lyall hugged Remus briefly before linking up with Arthur and Kingsley and Disapparating. 

"You ready?" Sirius asked. Remus took his hand and in a moment, they were being pulled through the vacuum of Apparating. 

~

Remus leant his head against the wall of the alleyway. He felt ever so slightly nauseous. It was a long way to come from the south coast up to Scotland, and even though they'd taken it in turns, so much travelling over such a long distance was bound to take its toll. 

Sirius was coughing, bent over with his hands on his knees, trembling all over. Even after all this time of being free, he still had a much rougher time with Apparating than he used to. They were finally in Hogsmeade, and Remus was thankful that they had no more travelling to do. 

The two of them spent a few minutes recovering before they straightened, poking their heads out one end of the alley, both of them cursing internally as they realised that it was a Hogsmeade weekend, and there were swarms of students trekking through the snow. 

"I'll turn into Padfoot, just walk through normally," Sirius said. 

"A lot of these students know me. I recognise them, I taught them. They're going to notice me and wonder why I'm here, we don't have time to be explaining things." Remus hissed. 

"Okay, it's started to die down a bit, they're all going into the Broomsticks. Now, Remus, we don't have time to waste!" Sirius shifted into Padfoot and padded out into the snow. 

"For Merlin's sake, Padfoot!" Remus said frustratedly, hurrying out of the alley after him.

He caught up to Padfoot and together, they made their way through Hogsmeade and to the path that would take them to the Shrieking Shack. As they were rounding a corner, three figures appeared and almost ran straight into Remus. Padfoot yelped as someone stood on his foot and he unintentionally shifted back into Sirius. 

"Remus! Sirius!" Remus' eyes focused and he realised that it was Harry, Ron and Hermione standing in front of them. 

Sirius was muttering curses under his breath on the floor, cradling his hand. It had been Ron that had stood on his paw. Remus offered him a hand to help him stand up and muttered, 'Episkey' to heal the already bruising fingers. Sirius thanked him and shook out his head experimentally. 

"Sorry, Sirius, I didn't see you." Ron said awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck. 

"It's alright, Ron. Consider it payback for the broken leg." Sirius said, smiling kindly. Ron chuckled in relief, remembering the events of that night in Harry's third year. 

"What are you two doing in Hogsmeade?" Hermione asked. "Is everything okay?" 

"Just Order stuff." Sirius dismissed. 

"Oh, Harry, just to let you know," Remus said, pulling out the map for him to see. "I'm so sorry, I had to borrow it. We need to see Albus right away before the full moon tonight, but we can't really risk being seen by students, Filch or Snape. Especially not looking as ragged as we do. I can get it returned to your dormitory by this evening." 

"Are you sure you don't want to keep it?" Harry asked. Remus faltered slightly. 

"W-what do you mean? It's yours, Harry." 

Well, its not, really." Harry said. "It's yours. It was all of yours. Filch stole it from you and you never got a chance to get it back. It's only because Fred and George set off stink bombs and snuck into his office that they got it and gave it to me. It's the Marauders Map, not the Harry Potter map. I suppose it's still got some sentimental value." 

"Oh yeah, Prongs called us fucking idiots earlier." Sirius laughed. "But they all welcomed Remus home. It was nice to see and to hear." 

"If things had gone differently, Harry, this would've been yours when you started Hogwarts anyway," Remus said. In his heart, he desperately wanted to keep the map and never let it go. But this had always been something the four of them had silently agreed upon. Their legacy as the Marauders was to pass on their tools and trinkets to their children and make sure that they got put to good use.

"James would've wanted the map to go to you, just like he made sure that the Cloak did. The amount of trouble we used to cause with the map and the cloak together was immense, we wreacked absolute havoc. It's been a long time since they've been together again and used by a Marauder. It's good that you have them. I'm glad you do. You're one of us, Harry. Keep them together, for your dad's sake. I'll have it back to you by tonight." 

Harry looked to Sirius. "Is he always this stubbornly sentimental?" He joked, the smile on his face giving him away. Sirius laughed and nestled closer to Remus, shivering slightly and seeking the comfort and the warmth of Remus' body. 

"Yep. Now you know my plight being married to him."

"Hey, it was your choice, you proposed to me, Black."

"Excuse me, what did you just call me?" Sirius exclaimed. Remus laughed at him. He sometimes forgot that Sirius was no longer registered legally as a Black, and had now taken his last name instead. 

"Sorry, Padfoot. Lupin." He corrected. 

"That's better." Sirius huffed. 

"Right, well, we should probably get going before the day escapes us." Remus said. "It was lovely seeing you three, we'll see you at Easter, I imagine. Don't forget to write, Harry, we're heading back to Grimmauld Place tomorrow morning, so we'll be able to reply for at least the next few days. We'll let you know if we're heading out again." 

"It was nice seeing you guys, too. Be careful tonight, Remus. Keep yourself safe, yeah?" Harry said. Remus smiled and nodded. He and Sirius began walking around Harry and his friends when Harry called his name again. They turned around to see Harry fiddling nervously with his fingers. "You're alright, aren't you? All of you? No one's hurt or ... you know." 

Dead. That's what Harry meant. Remus felt part of him deflate at the idea of Harry worrying about the people in his life dying. He was so young, he shouldn't have to worry about this kind of thing. He should be worrying about his exams, or silly arguments with his friends, or crushes and homework.

He should be worrying about a hundred and one other things that wasn't the war brewing right under their noses, already mirroring the war that had killed his parents and had separated his whole family to different places, meaning that he'd grown up without the love that he deserved. 

"We've had a letter. All the other groups are back at home, safe and sound. There are some minor injuries, but nothing that Molly and Mum can't patch up. Kingsley, Arthur and Dad have all gone back as well. Everyone's okay. They're just waiting on our return tomorrow so that we can have a proper meeting." 

Harry nodded, relief flitting across his features, and he managed a weak smile. 

"Mum and Dad aren't hurt, are they?" Ron asked worriedly. 

"From her letter, Molly seemed fine, she didn't mention any injuries. Arthur's looking as tattered and run down as we are, but otherwise, he's his usual cheery self." Remus reassured. "Don't worry yourselves over it too much, you three. We're taking good care of ourselves and each other. Enjoy your Hogsmeade trip." 

With that, Remus and Sirius continued on their way to the castle.

Chapter Text

Silence fell over Grimmauld Place when they heard the news. 

Silence fell, and the noise didn't return for days. 

Number 12 became a house full of ghosts, with the Order floating around aimlessly between rooms, barely able to manage their grief and their shock. They had suffered such an immense loss. 

When the letter from McGonnagall came, Hope had been the one to notice. She had been the one to read it first and call the others into the kitchen. 

To those gathered at Order headquarters, 

Albus has been killed at the hands of Death Eaters. They were welcomed into the castle by what we assume were Vanishing Cabinets. There is one in the Room of Requirement. Its twin is in Borgin and Burkes in Diagon Alley. We were unaware of the connection between the two. We assumed that ours did not have a twin. 

The news will likely have spread across the world by the time this letter gets to you, but our mission is not over yet. We will have to work together without a definitive leader for the time being. The Order will now have to be in unanimous agreement regarding missions and how we operate.

I am sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, just when we thought we were getting somewhere in this war. I must remind you to, as Alastor would say, have constant vigilance. This is a vulnerable time for all of us, and the Death Eaters know this. Be safe. Word will come soon on our next steps,

~ Minerva

Their attempts at retrieving Horcruxes had slowed since the majority of the Order went out in search of them. There were informants doing research out in the world for them, but nothing of importance had come up. The Death Eaters had been acting up, getting bolder with each passing day, and there had been very little opportunity for any large groups to do some serious fieldwork in terms of searching for the blasted items. It didn't help that they didn't have any clue about what form the Horcruxes would take. 

When Remus managed to make it downstairs for breakfast for the first time in a week, he settled at the table and stared at the wood. It somehow felt like only yesterday and a million years ago that Albus had been stood at the wall behind him, Sirius' magic pinning him there, and tensions had been so severe that Dumbledore and Remus had never quite regained their sense of trust in one another.

Dumbledore had been right. Sirius would always be a priority for Remus. He would never be able to prioritise anything else, and the thought made him feel guilty. If he hadn't been so focused on keeping Sirius out of harm's way, would he have realised that the Death Eater's boldness was indicative of their plans to kill Dumbledore?

He had prided himself on being the brains and the logic behind pranks and missions throughout his time as an Order member. He had always been observant and had an uncanny ability to put himself into the shoes of other people. He knew he was invaluable for these qualities. 

Qualities that had failed him this time.  

Remus' hands suddenly felt warm and fuzzy and focused, jumping slightly as he felt a hand on his back, and lips pressing themselves to his temple. Sirius had placed a cup of coffee between his hands. 

"Your hands are freezing, love, and you barely slept a moment last night." Sirius murmured. "Drink this, it might help you keep awake for a little while without collapsing." 

Remus muttered his thanks, managing a weak smile up at Sirius, hoping that the other man could see the gratitude there.

He couldn't manage much in the way of feeling at the minute. It was only guilt and shame and numbness

They just had to wait until the next mission came through, and then there would be something to do, something to keep his hands busy, and his life would be back in motion, and he could process things properly. 

~

Sirius woke up suddenly, sitting bolt upright and looking around the room in alarm. It was pitch black. The curtains were drawn completely and had been replaced a few weeks ago for ones that wouldn't let so much light through now that the sun had begun to rise earlier. He wouldn't even be able to see his hand if it was in front of his face.  

"What is it?" Remus asked groggily, the sounds of the sheets rustling as he shifted. He was now awake, having been jostled by Sirius' sudden movement and by his absence from Remus' arms. "Sirius, what did you See?" 

Of course, Remus would recognise this behaviour. Sirius hadn't had a vision in months. Not since the wedding, a good ten months ago by now. He'd been having nothing but blissful nights of sleep ever since, very rarely plagued by nightmares. But Remus remembered the way he would always react to visions or a strange feeling that had altered their course. His body was tuned to react to Sirius. 

"Something is wrong," Sirius said. "It's something to do with the Order. Something's going to happen to one of us." 

"Who? How?" Remus asked. 

"I don't know." 

There was a sigh and Remus turned over onto his side again, trying to get back to sleep. Sirius felt utterly useless. He could very rarely discern his visions. He was terrible at interpreting them, and Remus knew that. But Sirius knew that there was always a hope in Remus' heart of being able to figure out what catastrophe would occur next so that they could prevent it.

"Please don't be mad at me, Remus." Sirius said, laying back down again, pressing his body against Remus', wrapping an arm around Remus' middle and resting his forehead against the nape of his husband's neck. 

"I'm not mad at you, Sirius." 

"Yes, you are," Sirius said. "I know you better than you think I do. At the very least, you're frustrated at me. I can't change how I See things. Sometimes it's just vague feelings, other times it's clearer, and I can't change that. Be patient with me while I work it out." 

"You never work it out," Remus said. 

"You make it sound as if I'm deliberately being difficult," Sirius said. He retracted his arm from around Remus and felt his heart shatter and break as Remus didn't turn over or respond. He scoffed and threw the covers back, his still clothed feet tucked cosily into a pair of warm woollen socks that Remus had gotten him for Christmas touching the floor as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood. 

"Where are you going?" Remus asked, finally turning around. 

"Getting out of your hair." Sirius spat, opening the door and leaving it wide open for Remus to stand up and close himself. He padded down the stairs and left through the front door, turning into Padfoot as he closed it behind him, and ran off into the night. 

~

"Remus, can we talk for a moment?" Hope asked, shaking Remus awake gently. Remus mumbled something incoherently and buried himself deeper into the bed. "Come on, Remus, get up." 

Remus groaned and shifted around slowly, dragging himself into a sitting position, and wincing, rubbing his head. He had a painful throbbing growing behind his eyes. He looked to his right, as he usually did to check on his sleeping husband, to see Sirius' spot on the bed empty, the covers still thrown back from where he'd left. 

From where he'd left in the middle of the night.

"Where's Sirius?" Remus asked. 

"He's downstairs, sleeping on the sofa. He hasn't changed back from a dog yet. We think he went off in the middle of the night to let off some steam and came back a few hours ago." Hope said. "There's something I need to talk to you about." 

"What is it? Is something wrong?"

"There's been another pack found murdered." She said.

Remus stared at her in disbelief. Rufus Scrimgeour's Ministry had taken the death of Marcus' pack more seriously than Fudge's Ministry had, but there had still been very little done to reprimand Bellatrix, Narcissa and Dolohov, who had managed to escape unnoticed. No one had seen Bellatrix or Dolohov in the flesh since the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, and Narcissa Malfoy was not often in duels or battles between the Death Eaters and the Order.  

"Which one?" 

"Jael's." Remus sighed. Jael and Remus had never been massively close. She had been a little more bloodthirsty and ruthless, hellbent on revenge than some of the other packs. It had often made Remus nervous. She understood the need to wait, and to strike at the right time, but it didn't stop her from suggesting outlandish forms of violence in retaliation for crimes against werewolves. Luckily, Jael was not a leader of any pack, she was one of her pack's strongest fighters, and was sent as a representative due to her leader's primary concern being with the newly turned werewolves that he went out in search for to protect and nurture. 

Even though they had not always seen eye to eye, she and her pack had been kind. They had often been very helpful in lending their skills as both magic wielders and as werewolves. 

"We think the packs might've been quiet because someone was tracking them. A lot of them have had to move territories. There are some letters from the other representatives downstairs." Hope said. 

"Was it the same as Marcus' pack?" Hope nodded. 

"In the same place, their bodies are left in the same way." 

"I'll send a letter to Scrimgeour, let him know. Maybe he'll be able to do something more now that it's happened again." Remus said.

"I'm sorry to wake you with this, Remus. I knew you'd want to know." Remus nodded. 

"Thanks. Let's not worry about it too much now, though. Your favourite werewolf is safe and sound in a heavily warded house filled with ancient magic." Remus was trying to make light of the situation and trying to make his mother feel better about the situation, but both of them knew his heart wasn't in it.

"You think you're my favourite werewolf?" Hope joked lightly. Remus chuckled slightly. 

"Come on, let's get some breakfast. I'm starving." 

"Only if you apologise to your husband for the silly little tiff you had in the night." Hope tutted. Remus went red and looked at his lap in shame. 

"I was just tired and stressed. I was upset. I didn't mean any of what I said." Remus said. 

"Don't tell me that, go and tell Sirius!" Remus swung his legs over the side of the bed and walked with his mother downstairs. He greeted the rest of the Order that were gathered in the kitchen eating breakfast. 

Things had slowly begun to settle, the clutches of grief gradually beginning to loosen their hold over them in the past few weeks. Remus was almost glad to see the back of it. They were all still reeling and were trying their hardest to get back to their usual selves ready for when the children, who were no longer technically children anymore, arrived. 

Padfoot was curled up in Remus' favourite armchair, breathing deeply, though Remus knew that he wasn't sleeping. He would've smelt Remus coming closer, and felt some aspect of the knot of anxiety in Remus' chest through their bond, and he would be waiting for Remus to broach the topic first. 

"Padfoot?" Remus called softly, leaning against the doorframe. Padfoot lifted his head and whimpered slightly. If Sirius had been sat there, he would've been about ready to cry. Sirius always hated fighting with Remus. It was tough on both of them, made their self-esteem issues arise and the paranoia from childhood trauma consume them almost entirely. "Will you turn back so we can talk about this?" 

Padfoot seemed to hesitate. He jumped off the sofa and padded over to Remus slowly. Remus sunk to his knees and wrapped his arms around the dog's neck, fingers and face buried in the soft and shaggy fur, breathing in the familiar scent that would always be part of Remus' Amormentia and what other werewolves smelt as part of their mating bond. 

"I'm so sorry, Pads," Remus whispered into the fur. Tears were leaking from his eyes, making Padfoot's fur wet. Padfoot shifted then, and he had an armful of Sirius' instead, burying his face into Remus' pyjamas and holding him tightly. 

"It's okay, love, it's okay." He muttered.

"I don't know why I got so frustrated. I shouldn't have just turned over and gone back to sleep. Mum said you went out for a walk in the night, I should've made sure you stayed at home. If anything had happened to you-"

"Moony, it's fine, I'm alright. No one knows I'm an Animagus apart from the Order. Nothing would have happened." Sirius soothed. 

"You were right. Something was wrong. If I had listened-"

"Jael and her pack had been dead for three days by the time the others found out, and another two days by the time their letters got to us. There was no way we could've known." Sirius said. 

"Could it mean something else, then?" Sirius tilted his head in confusion. "Is there something else coming?"

"I think there might be. I don't think it's anything to do with the werewolf packs. We're in the endgame now, Remus. Whatever is coming, we're nearly finished with it all."

~

"Harry, are you sure you're going to be okay?" Remus asked. "Sirius and I can talk to them." 

"No, I want to be there." Harry insisted. "And besides, it'll be a good jumping-off point for us to get to the Burrow for Bill and Fleur's wedding, right? We can just fly right there." 

"Yes, I suppose so. Alright, we should get going." Remus sighed. "Sirius, are you ready?" Sirius came racing down the stairs. His hair was half tied back, the same style he used to keep it in in their final three years of Hogwarts, and he was in a smart shirt, blazer and trousers. They were the closest things that he had to Muggle clothes and he linked fingers with Remus, placing a hand on Harry's shoulder.

Remus Disapparated, and within an instant, they were stood outside the Dursley's home, where Vernon's car was parked on the curb and being filled with boxes. The Order had sent them word weeks ago that it would be safer for them to move houses, to get away from Privet Drive for now. It was still likely that the Death Eaters would find out about Harry's aunt, uncle and cousin. 

There was a yelp from Dudley as he saw them, and Vernon banged his head on the roof of the car in a rush to see what was happening. Upon seeing the three of them, he sneered. 

"Oh, it's just you three." 

"Nice to see you too, Uncle Vernon," Harry said. Sirius let go of Harry's shoulder and kept his mouth shut, as per the agreement that he and Remus had that Sirius would keep quiet and polite until the Durselys were gone. 

"We came to see how you were getting along, to offer a hand if you needed the help," Remus said politely. Vernon's eyes flicked to him, and then saw his and Sirius' linked hands. Remus immediately felt uncomfortable, and his grip around Sirius' hand loosened, fully intending to let go. Sirius only held on tighter and Remus winced, nudging Sirius softly. "Are you trying to break my fingers?" He muttered. 

"If that's what it takes for you to stop shrinking away from bigotry aimed at you, my love, then yes," Sirius said, smiling at him sweetly. Remus fought the smile threatening to cross his face and returned his gaze to Vernon. "Would you like some help, Vernon?" 

"No, we're quite alright, thank you very much," Vernon said. "So, you're his godfather, then? Something Black, right?"

"Yes, I'm Harry's godfather," Sirius said. He let go of Remus' hand to go over to Vernon and offer his hand. "My name was Sirius Black, but I changed my last name when I got married. Speaking of which, I'm sure you remember my husband, Remus Lupin. He came to pick Harry up this time last year." Sirius said, gesturing to Remus, glancing back over his shoulder. Vernon smiled, and it was so obviously fake, but he reached out to shake Sirius' hand regardless.

And the Vernon was crying out in pain and Remus stepped forward to see that Sirius had twisted Vernon's wrist swiftly and was now holding it in that position in a vicelike grip. Sirius was smiling, though his eyes were furious. "You're lucky that I am no longer the man I was three years ago, and that Harry and my husband are here. Otherwise, I would not have as much patience for you. How dare you and your wife treat my godson the way you did, keeping him in the cupboard under the stairs, making him cook for you. He was a child. You both disgust me. Lily would be disappointed in her sister and you, and if she were here, she would be-"

"Alright, that's enough, Sirius." Remus intervened, pulling Sirius back. Sirius let go of Vernon's hand. "Harry, why don't you go and double-check that there aren't any bits you left behind from last year? Take Sirius with you, he might like to see how a Muggle house looks on the inside." Sirius and Harry walked inside, briefly saying hello to Petunia. Remus turned back to Vernon. "Sorry about Sirius, he gets a little ... over-enthusiastic ... sometimes." 

Remus chuckled nervously and checked his watch. The Order was due to come over in forty-five minutes, and he was desperately hoping that everything would be sorted by then. The last thing needed in this situation was for the Dursleys to be surrounded by any more than one wizard. They were already hostile towards Harry on his own, and the inclusion of Sirius and Remus was only making Vernon worse. 

"So ... it's all legal, then?" Vernon asked. "The boy is yours and his godfathers?"

"Yes, yes, it's all legal. The paperwork was all approved within a week. James and Lily wanted him to come to Sirius and I should anything happen to them, so we've finally straightened everything out." Remus said pleasantly. 

"Moony! Hey, Remus, look at this!" Sirius came racing over. He grabbed Remus' hand and put a ballpoint pen and some paper into it. "Look, click on the end of this, it's got ink inside! You don't have to keep dipping it into an inkwell or anything!" Remus laughed. 

"I'm aware, Padfoot. It's a ballpoint pen, this is what Muggles use to write with. You can get them in all sorts of colours and everything. Did you forget that my mother is also a Muggle? I used these all the time at home as a child." Sirius flushed. 

"Harry found it on his desk, he said I could have it if I wanted. And some of the notebooks he doesn't use anymore. Can you believe that Muggles don't use pesky bloody parchment for everything? This is a game-changer, imagine if we'd had all this at school, we'd have saved so much time doing homework. Jamie would've loved this!" Remus laughed again and slung an arm around Sirius' shoulders, pressing a kiss to his temple. 

"I'm sure you two would've had a blast with them." He agreed. Harry came back outside with a plastic bag full of old notebooks and pens. 

"They were in my wardrobe. I didn't even notice we hadn't grabbed them." Harry said, depositing the plastic bag by Sirius' feet. "Sirius was like a little kid in a sweet shop when he saw them." Sirius knelt and began rifling through the bag, trying out the different pens on a page in one of the notebooks. 

"Pure-bloods discovering Muggle things will always be an amazingly fun thing, Harry. You should introduce Arthur to some more stuff, he'd find it fascinating." 

"I think that's everything, Vernon," Petunia called. She was standing outside the front door with her arms around herself, looking almost hesitant to leave. 

"Right! Into the car, then, everyone. Dudley, have you got everything?" Vernon said. Dudley nodded and climbed into the backseat. Remus walked over to Petunia and gave her a kind smile. 

"I understand that it must be hard to leave home, but-"

"It's for our own good." Petunia finished. Remus nodded. "You'll keep Harry safe, won't you? Lils would never forgive me if anything happened to him." 

What, like she would if she knew how badly you'd treated him all these years? Remus thought. He felt sick at the use of the nickname for Lily. He hadn't heard it in such a long time that it almost took his breath away. He didn't say any of what he thought, though, and instead, he smiled and nodded. 

"I'll protect him with my life," Remus said. "We all would." Petunia nodded and took a deep breath, casting one last glance back towards her house, before heading towards the car. Remus watched her go. "Sirius, Harry, come on inside, it looks like it's about to rain, and the rest of the Order will be here soon." Harry and Sirius looked up at the sky with matching frowns and hurried inside as the Dursleys bundled themselves into their car and drove off. 

Remus stayed outside until he couldn't see their car any longer, and then walked into the house and closed the door behind him.

Chapter Text

"Just remember, Fleur, Bill takes his steaks on the raw side now." Remus joked, walking into the living room with his hand linked in Sirius'. There was a rumble of laughter from the assembled group. 

"My husband, the joker," Sirius said. A tone of pride mixed with love laced his voice and Remus gave him a softhearted smile. 

"Thank you, by the way, Remus," Bill said earnestly. "For everything after ..." He gestured to his face and the scars that now covered it, a constant reminder of the brutality he had faced at the hands of Greyback. Another victim, thirty years later. Greyback never seemed to tire of the trail of blood and despair he left behind him. If anything, he seemed to relish it, find his purpose in the pain he caused.

"It's no problem at all, Bill. Greyback survivors have to stick together." Remus replied. "I'm just glad that he didn't do to you what he did to me. I'd hate for anyone else to go through what I do every month." 

"It meant a lot to us when you helped us through it. Both of you." Fleur said. "To have people who understood what it was like to experience Greyback's brutality or have a loved one go through it was a great comfort." Her accent was still strong, but her pronunciation had been getting better the longer that she spent in England.

Remus and Sirius, in the few times that they had been around her, had spoken to her in her native French to make her feel more at home. Both had learnt it from a very young age and had spoken it to one another as teenagers. It had frustrated James and Peter to no end but had been their way to obtain privacy. Remus read French better than he spoke it, while Sirius was the opposite, but both were passable enough to be understood. 

"Tu es la bienvenue, Fleur. C’était notre plaisir." Remus said in French.

"Venez nous voir si vous avez d’autres préoccupations. Notre porte est toujours ouverte." Sirius added. Fleur barely had a chance to thank them before Moody was bursting through the door to the living room, limping heavily and leaning on his cane as per usual.

"Enough pleasantries! We're on a tight schedule!" 

~

"My bike!" Sirius exclaimed, running over to it and running his hands fervently over the handlebars, leaning his broomstick against the front wheel gently. He almost felt like crying. The bike was still in such good condition.

He'd missed it. It had been so long since he'd seen it; since he'd thought about it. He felt bad for forgetting, but the memories now came flooding back, the feeling of the wind rushing through him in a different way to how it did on a broom, and the way it felt to be so high up and have the world sprawled out below him. 

"Your bike?" Harry asked.

"I left it at Hagrid's when I went after Peter. I took you to him in this bike, and he brought you to the Dursleys in it after I got locked up in Azkaban." Sirius said, still smiling with one hand on the handlebar.

He cast a glance over at Remus, who was stood just a few feet from the front of the bike and observing it with fondness.

"Remus, do you remember when I came to visit you in the summer before our seventh year and I brought the bike with me? I took you flying over the Welsh countryside." 

"Of course. I was terrified the entire time." Remus said. "I was holding onto you so tightly that you almost blacked out if I remember correctly." 

Sirius laughed and looked at Harry. "Remus is deathly afraid of heights. I'm surprised he's flying tonight, he's never been fond of it. It was why he was never on the Quidditch team, even though he's a very strong flyer."

"I made up for it by being the best commentator Gryffindor ever had for six years running," Remus said with pride. "If you think Lee Jordan was enthusiastic, Harry, you should've seen me in the box. I got banned for a little while because I kept swearing at the Slytherins and threatening to hex them for knocking Bludgers into James and Sirius' brooms. Pete had to take over for while, but I got to do our last game at Hogwarts. We won the Quidditch and the House Cup that year, didn't we, Sirius?" 

"1977 to 1978, brilliant year for Gryffindor. Our House suffered a great loss when we left at the end of the '78. They've not yet recovered from our absence." Sirius nodded. 

"Yer more than welcome to 'ave the bike back after tonight, Sirius," Hagrid said, walking over. "She's been waiting a long time for her owner to come back."

Sirius smiled and patted the handlebar affectionately, relishing in the slight smell of motor oil in the air and remembering how messy his hands used to get.

He vividly remembered the days he spent tinkering and loving every inch of the bike and how nice it would feel to fly it again.

"Lupin!" Moody barked. Both Sirius and Remus looked over to him and he fumbled slightly, still stumped at the idea that he didn't have a way to differentiate between them any more. "Sirius, get in position, we don't have all night." 

"We'll discuss this later, Hagrid," Sirius said with a smile. He squeezed Harry's shoulder gently, the first hint of nerves creeping into his stomach. "Everything will be fine, Harry. We'll be at the Burrow safe and sound in no time." 

He grabbed his broom from where he'd placed it against the front wheel. "To the back, Lupin, I want you bringing up the rear as an extra wand." Sirius nodded and winked at Remus.

There was a sudden look of panic flicking across his eyes. Remus would be protecting George Weasley tonight, and he had been of the assumption that Sirius would be close by with another of the Harrys.

The idea that Remus couldn't see Sirius at all made him worried because in his mind, it was Sirius who needed protecting, and he hated having Sirius out of sight.

Sirius had had no idea that Moody had asked him to come as an extra wand, and had no idea what that meant.

Extra wand for what? Was he anticipating a fight? 

So Sirius said the first and only thing that he could think of that might offer Remus some support.

"See you at the Burrow." He smiled as bravely as he could. “Until morning, Moony."

This flight wouldn't take so long as to take until morning, but the message would still stand.

I'll see you on the other side of this, alive and safe. We'll be shaken and scared, but keep yourself safe for me. Stay alive for me.

"Until morning, Padfoot." Remus nodded, and he squared his shoulders. Sirius was about to turn away when Remus called his name. Sirius turned and saw the tension in his husband’s face. "Don't be an idiot tonight, okay? No fancy tricks, no detours, just fly straight to the Burrow."

"Pinky promise," Sirius said, holding his pinky finger up and walking to Remus.

Remus had told him, James and Peter, about pinky promises while they were at school, all the way back in first year, and the Marauders had all taken them incredibly seriously.

It had the desired effect now, making Remus laugh as he linked his pinky with Sirius and playfully pushed him towards the back of the group.

"Go on, I'll see you soon," Remus said, turning back to the front and waiting for the signal.

Sirius mounted his broom when he reached the back, mirroring the movements of the rest of the Order.

He had his wand strapped to a contraption on his arm that would shoot his wand into his hand if he needed the magic in his veins to react. He was desperately hoping that there would not be a fight tonight.

It had been too long since he'd flown, and he'd not fought in midair for many years. Performing magic while flying was a different kind of skill to being a Beater, where he always only had one hand free and was constantly wary of what was going on around him.

Sirius was relying on those instincts to keep himself and his loved ones safe tonight. 

Moody gave the signal and the Order kicked off, taking off into the night air.

~

Sirius slipped off his broom before he was properly on the ground and hit the ground running, stumbling over his feet and throwing up into the tall grass in the field surrounding the Burrow.

He hadn't had one of the Harrys with him, but he'd been by himself. He'd not had to use a Portkey to get to the Burrow like the protectors had had to. But he was still later than expected.

The flashes of magic streaking across the sky, the sight of people falling off their brooms and the sound of screams were ringing through his ears, imprinting themselves on his closed eyelids.

He didn't know if the Order had lost anyone tonight, but he knew that some of the Death Eaters had not been strong enough flyers to handle magic and being suspended hundreds of feet above the ground at the same time.

It had worked to their advantage. Sirius summoned a glass and filled it with water using Aguamenti and drank it in one gulp, spitting on the ground to rid his mouth of any residual bile. 

Sirius didn't know who was safely at the Burrow and who was still out there. There was the sound of voices nearby, but they were muffled as if they were coming from inside.

At least he was not the first one here. The anticipation and the fear would not hit so hard now that he knew at least some of them were safe. 

He had lost track of Remus in the sky, and there was a tight knot of anxiety in his chest. Remus had to still be alive. He had to be.

Sirius would know if something had happened, the link between their souls would've done something to let him know. Picking up the broomstick, Sirius trekked down the path towards the Burrow and saw the assembled group standing outside.

From where he was standing, Sirius could see everything. He'd emerged from the field at a diagonal to the Burrow, and saw Kingsley and Remus facing each other, wands drawn and blood on Remus' hand. 

"What were the last words Albus Dumbledore said to the pair of us?" Kingsley asked. 

"Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him." Remus said breathlessly. The two of them lowered their wands and the relief that spread through the group was clear. 

"Is everyone back?" Kingsley asked. Remus shook his head. "Who are we waiting on?" 

"Just Sirius. Alastor is dead. George is injured. One of the Death Eaters threw a curse at me and it hit him instead, took his ear off. We can't do anything, it was Dark Magic." Remus said.

There was a pang in Sirius' chest as he heard the strained note of worry in Remus' voice. He felt guilty about George's ear, as he was supposed to have been the one to protect George and the one to have taken the curse. 

"How did Moody die?"

"Mundungus got scared at the sight of You-Know-Who and Disapparated. You-Know-Who took the opportunity in front of him. As soon as Dung was out of the way, he cast a Killing Curse, it hit Alastor in the face. He fell off his broom, we haven't found his body yet. Bill's just left, he's going to gather a team to search." Remus replied.

Sirius was in shock as he listened, leaning heavily on his broom.

Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, he could feel the aches and pains running through his body.

There was something in his side causing him pain, and his leg was screaming at him to sit down.

But he wouldn't die tonight. He wouldn't be severely impacted. He would still see another sunrise and hear the things going around all around him. George would have half of that and Alastor would have none.

"Do we have any idea on where Sirius could be? Has anyone traced his signature?" Tonks asked worriedly.

Sirius began to walk again, and he didn't bother to try and smile. He couldn't bring himself to fake it tonight. He was so sick of faking his happiness when things like this kept happening and he could never stop it.

What good were his visions and the 'gift' he had for picking up on subtleties if he couldn't use them to help people? It was a curse more than a blessing. It was a slap to the face, always picking at and chipping away at Sirius' heart.

He had never been overly close to Moody, but they had gotten along well enough during their time together as Order members.

Moody had liked his tenacity and his protectiveness. He had hated Sirius' emotional outbursts, but had grown used to them. He had grown to learn that Sirius would calm, that he was scared and felt confined and panicked and hurt, that he just wanted everything to stop so that he could catch his breath.

Moody had understood that the system that he had worked for had hurt Sirius, it had failed him, and now he and Remus, the only person who could truly understand him, were dealing with the painful aftermath.

Sirius had respected Moody for being able to understand, even when he wished it could be different. Merlin knew that Sirius wished that it could be different as well. 

"No need," Sirius said loudly. Everyone's heads snapped to him.

"Padfoot," Remus breathed out. Sirius saw the fear and the hope and everything that Remus didn't know how to express in his expression, and Sirius ignored the pain in his leg and his side, dropped his broom and broke out into a run.

Remus barely made it two steps before Sirius was barrelling into him, arms wrapped tightly around his neck and holding him close. He could feel Remus pressing kisses into his hair and along his cheek.

“You're covered in blood, Pads, you reek of it, what happened?"

Sirius pulled back to look down at himself. His blazer and his shirt were sticky with blood, and now he could feel the gash on his cheek that cut along the bone and saw the dark stain on his right calf. 

"Bellatrix. One of her spells grazed my cheek as a warning shot. She wanted me to fight her, but she disappeared when I kept dodging her spells. I think I saw her go after Dora, but there were so many people that I can't be sure. The Lestrange brothers were there. Rabastan got my leg, Rodolphus got my side. I don't think either of them forgave me for the time I broke Rodolphus' nose during a Quidditch match. Rabastan's spells have gotten nastier since the last time we saw him." 

"Why do all of our schoolboy rivals not know how to let go of a grudge?" Remus grumbled. And then his eyes got foggy like he was remembering something. "To be fair, you did put his nose so far out of place that not even Madame Pomfrey could heal it properly. It’s still crooked to this day."

Sirius grinned proudly at the memory and the took Remus' hand and inspected his shirt. 

"What about you? You've got blood-"

"It's not mine," Remus assured. "George-"

"I know, I heard it all," Sirius said, pulling Remus back down into another hug. "It's okay, Remus. We did well to only lose one. Alastor would want us to look at it like that. George is gonna be okay. He's stronger and more adaptable than you'd think." 

"Come inside, everyone. We should probably get out of the open for the night." Molly said, peering at the sky anxiously.

Sirius pressed a kiss to Remus' cheek, leaning their foreheads together with his eyes closed for a few short seconds, and then stepped towards Harry, his arms out. Harry stepped into them within a moment and grasped him tightly. 

"I was so scared that Remus and I had lost you," Harry said. "Please be more careful, I can't lose you too." His voice cracked and Sirius squeezed him tighter. 

"I'm always careful, Harry."

"Liar." Remus teased. 

"Don't be ganging up on me now, Re," Sirius shot back, smiling softly. He pulled away from Harry with reluctance. "Are you alright? No one hurt you, did they?"

Harry shook his head, but Sirius could see some kind of loss, some kind of grieving, affecting him. "Harry, please don't hide things from me. James and Lily used to have the same looks on their faces whenever we lost someone."

"It's Hedwig, my owl," Harry said, and his voice cracked once again. "That's how they knew which one of us was the real Harry. Hedwig stayed with me. I had to destroy the sidecar on the bike where her cage was, I don't even have a body to bury." Sirius sighed. 

"She had a good life, Harry. I don't think I've ever seen such a loyal owl." Harry clenched his jaw, clearly trying to keep the tears at bay, and nodded.

"Let's go inside. You need to get those injuries checked out." Harry said. 

"Careful, Harry, you're starting to sound a lot like Remus." Sirius joked. 

"That's probably a good thing," Harry said, leading the way inside the Burrow.

"It's certainly better than sounding like Sirius." Remus chuckled. "Merlin only knows what sort of havoc you'd cause if you looked like James and acted like a hybrid of him and his best friend. Minerva would be beside herself that none of mine or Lily's habits or personalities had rubbed off on you."

"You'd probably send her into early retirement." Sirius laughed.

He felt somewhat wrong about joking in a situation like this, but finding some shred of happiness in a sea of dark and exploiting it for laughter had been Sirius' forte for his entire life, it was the only way he knew how to deal with the things in his life that he couldn't control.

He took a deep breath as he stepped inside the Burrow, Remus' hand on his lower back as a comfort to the pair of them that they were both still safe and alive, and accepted that this was just another inevitable casualty in this war. 

He just hoped they weren't too many more, for Harry's sake.

Chapter Text

Remus limped into Grimmauld Place, listening out for the familiar sounds of his home as he closed the door behind him. 

Things had been quiet. Ever since Bill and Fleur's wedding, Harry, Ron and Hermione had been missing. They had briefly returned here to Grimmauld Place, but none of the Order had been here. They'd left a note, the words still prevalent in Remus' mind.

We're safe and searching for Horcruxes.  Dumbledore wanted Harry to take over the mission after he died. He figured out that the locket Regulus gave you was fake. Maybe even Regulus didn't know. We've spoken to Kreacher and Dung, they're the last ones to have seen the real one. We'll stay safe, don't worry about us. 

We'll be back home as soon as possible,

Harry, Ron, and Hermione. 

That had been over two months ago, nearing three now. Remus had no idea where they were currently. None of the Order did. It worried each of them to the bone that the very people they were supposed to be protecting were now out in the world on a mission that they shouldn't even have any knowledge of. 

Damn Dumbledore and his incessant need for a saviour. 

It was almost Christmas, and there had been escalations in terror attacks from Death Eaters, fights that the Order wasn't always able to make it to. The Death Eaters were everywhere at once, and there was only so much they could do now.

The werewolf packs were now staying on blow-up beds and transfigured mattresses laid out on the floors of rooms, tucked away inside the house for the most part. They left sometimes, to help Molly grab food to cook or to lend their skills in tracking and fights, but it was a dangerous time for werewolves. More of them were being turned and brought over to Voldemort's side every day. They had no qualms about the life they were forcing on innocent people, the potential these werewolves had once had that had now been snatched away.

Remus walked through the hall, barely casting a glance to the portrait of Walburga Black covered by a blanket on the wall. Her frame rattled sometimes as she tried to cause a scene, but even she was quiet these days.

He was late to the meeting, but he was coming back from talking with Pius Thicknesse, the new Minister for Magic that had replaced Rufus Scrimgeour after his death on the day of Bill and Fleur's wedding.

Something about Pius made Remus nervous. He was too calm, too collected. The whole Order suspected him, but Remus had been asked to speak to him on behalf of the Order tonight. McGonnagall had been stuck dealing with running Hogwarts and had trusted Remus to talk to Pius and match his composure to try and figure him out. 

Remus squeezed Sirius' shoulder softly as he entered the kitchen, leaning on him slightly to slide into his seat. Sirius steadied him with a hand on his waist and when Remus was finally settled, he greeted the others, who were talking amongst themselves and had barely noticed his arrival. Even the werewolves had been making their faces known in every meeting now, and they were all scowling. 

Bad news. A house full of angry werewolves and one injured wolf against a group of experienced magic wielders. Tonight is going to be long and stressful. 

"Lupin, we've been thinking-" Kingsley started. 

"Don't make this sound as if it's a group decision, Kingsley," Lydia interjected. 

"What's going on?" Remus asked. 

"How did the meeting with Pius go, first?" Molly asked. 

"He's as frustratingly calm as always. He's not giving anything away thus far." Remus sighed. 

"We'll have to keep trying, he'll slip up eventually." Arthur encouraged. 

"What were you talking about before I arrived?" Remus asked. There were some furtive glances around the room. 

"Moony-" Sirius started, putting a hand on his arm. There was a hesitant, almost fearful note in his voice and whatever was to come. 

"Don't sugarcoat it, Sirius." Remus interrupted. He was careful not to snap too harshly at his husband, his first priority always making sure that they didn't have an unnecessary argument or say something that they didn't mean. "What is it?"

"With everything going on with the werewolves, and Thicknesses' Ministry hunting down blood traitors and anyone suspected of being in collaboration with the Order, some of us think it would be best for all the werewolves that are here to remain inside the house permanently, including you," Sirius said. 

"What do you mean, permanently?" Remus asked. Sirius averted his eyes and removed his hand from Remus' shoulder. "What, like how Albus forced you into house arrest? Is that what's happening to us now?" 

"It's not house arrest," Sirius muttered. "I voted against it, Remus, I swear."

"You took a vote without me?!" 

"You weren't here," Kingsley said. 

"Because I was on a mission! You should've waited. What's Pius going to think when I stop turning up to meetings? Did you think of that?" Remus exclaimed. 

"It's safer for you to remain here, just like the other werewolves. At least if Pius suspects anything, we know that he can't reach you here. He can't hurt you if you're at home, not with the protections and all the extra wands." Arthur replied. 

"I'm not an invalid, Arthur!" Remus snapped. "I don't need protecting, I don't need mothering, I don't need to be tucked away inside a warded house with bodyguards as if I'm some kind of antique that needs to be kept safe." 

"We never said you were, Remus," Molly said, trying to diffuse the situation.

Remus felt nothing but white hot fury racing through his body. The idea of staying inside Grimmauld Place when he'd spent the last few years being out in the field, being useful, doing everything he could to ensure that the Order could operate out in the world ... he didn't know how he was supposed to go from being that man to being someone who just slummed it inside a house all day. 

"I can't stay in this house all day every day," Remus stated. "I need to be out there, I need to be talking to Pius, helping Minerva, looking for Harry, Ron and Hermione. They're still out there, Molly! We don't know where they are and if they're safe-"

"I know, Remus! Don't you think I lie awake for hours every night in fear that my son could be dead?!" Molly snapped. "We're all stressed, Remus, we're all worried about our children and our families, but none of us are of any use to anyone if we're killed in action because we're too stubborn and prideful to keep ourselves safe." 

"Think of how desperate you were to convince Sirius to stay at home the night of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, of how much you wanted him to be protected from the world," Arthur said. "This is the same. Right now, werewolves across the country are in danger, you included. You've escaped the Ministry knowing about your condition all your life, and it has never been more important to maintain that secrecy than now. You spend all your time and effort keeping others safe. Let us repay the favour." 

"Everything has a rippling effect, Remus," Kingsley added. "If we lose you, we lose one on the people that hold the Order together in their darkest moments, that keeps us fighting. Without you, Harry loses another father."

"If you died, Moony-" Sirius started. His voice cracked and he shook his head, grabbing hold of Remus' hand and holding on tightly. "I'd be a wreck. I'm not prepared to lose my soulmate, not after we've had so many years stolen from us already. Please, Remus, do it for me and Harry. We've got the family we always wanted, don't throw it all away now." 

Remus sighed. The last thing he wanted was to be trapped here. He understood how Sirius had felt in the year that he spent under house arrest here, and Remus' confinement hadn't even begun yet. This was his home now, and he loved it with all his heart for housing the man that he'd bonded his soul to, but being forced to stay within its walls with no interaction with the world outside the door seemed like an awful burden to bear. 

"Okay," Remus whispered. "Okay, I'll stay in the house, I won't leave." 

Relief flitted across the faces of many of the Order members. Most of the werewolves seemed to swallow their distaste for the idea of being trapped in the house for a prolonged period. Remus had become a sort of beacon for them, someone that they trusted to be impartial enough to follow in the footsteps of. They had their disagreements and arguments, but largely they respected and valued his opinion, as it helped to shape many people's vote in matters to do with the packs. 

It would hard to remain inside the walls of the house and feel so useless, but Remus knew it would be for the best. He still wasn't quite used to the idea that he had so things to live for now. He wasn't surviving anymore, he had to make it home for Harry and Sirius. He had to make sure that Harry and Sirius didn't lose anyone else. 

As long as Remus remembered that, he would get through this. 

~

"Remus, can I speak to you for a moment?" McGonnagall asked.

Another Order meeting was packing up and finishing. Everyone was dispersing and disappearing to their rooms or to different parts of the house to relax for the night. Sirius lurked by the stairs, eyes watching his old head of house and his husband with worry. 

It was now March, and Remus was shocked at how he'd lasted three months cooped up with the other werewolves. Everyone seemed to be getting under each other's feet recently, and Remus was desperate to be able to do anything out in the world again. Even if it was a supervised walk down to the corner shop a few minutes away. Anything was better than another few months like this. 

"Is everything alright?" Remus asked. 

"I've been meaning to introduce an idea to you," McGonnagall said. "There's an experimental trial going on. Trusted individuals inside the Ministry are working on something that could give us an edge."

"Oh? And what does this have to do with me? You know I've already agreed to remain here for the time being." Remus said. "I promised Sirius, and you know how I loathe breaking my promises to him more than anyone else."

"I know," McGonagall replied. "Which is why I spoke to Sirius and asked his opinion on it. I know how worried he is for your safety, as am I. Sirius is concerned about what I'm about to tell you, but agrees that I should give you the chance to make the decision for yourself."

"Decision about what?"

"There's a trial going forward for a potion that would lessen the effects of the full moon on werewolves. It would give more control to them as the lunar cycles advances throughout the month. It's an extension of the Wolfsbane potion, essentially." 

"What do you mean, more control?"

"As the full moon grows closer, it would mean that you could rely on your counterpart's strengths rather than being weakened," McGonnagall said. "In some cases on the werewolves it has been tested on, some have been able to change between human and wolf at will. It's a stronger Wolfsbane and therefore means that you have more control during the full moons. It's a major advancement. The Potions Association are very proud of it."  

"What are the side effects? How long have they been developing it?" Remus asked. His heart was thudding in his chest at the news. A new advancement in Wolfsbane potion that could have such sway in the way his condition worked was monumental. 

"They've been trying to work on it for the last two years. Someone in the Association has a lycanthropic sister and wanted to improve her way of life and her career prospects. She's part of a pack from North Wales, they all volunteered to be a part of the trial. It's proven to have no fatalities so far, with only mild sickness and some small accidents as they began learning how to control shifting." McGonngall told him. 

Remus took a deep breath and took it all in. "So what do you need me to do?" 

"I was hoping that you could talk to the packs upstairs, see if they would be willing to take the potion when the time comes. We can have a few bottles snuck to us via the secret passageways through Hogsmeade. It'll be hard, but-"

"The Map," Remus said. McGonnagall frowned. 

"What map?"

"Sirius?! Does Harry still have the Map?!" Remus called. Sirius stepped back into the kitchen and leaned against the doorframe. 

"Unless he gave it to someone else for safekeeping, which I can't see him doing, he should still have it," Sirius said. 

"What map are we talking about?" McGonnagall asked. Remus and Sirius exchanged looks before looking back to McGonnagall with matching expressions of guilt. It was almost as if their schoolboy selves were showing through, ready to be reprimanded by their teacher. 

"The Marauders Map," Sirius said. "The four of us made it. We spent our fourth and fifth year perfecting it. Filch confiscated it in seventh. We plotted out every single secret passageway inside Hogwarts, it tracks the ghosts, Peeves, people, even Animagi. It's how Remus knew Peter was still alive and was convinced that I was innocent. It was how he found Pete and me in the Shrieking Shack in Harry's third year."

"The only parts of Hogwarts it doesn't have is the Chamber of Secrets or the Room of Requirement. We never found the Chamber because none of us spoke Parsletongue, and we wanted to make sure that the Room of Requirement was only found by those who needed it, the way it was supposed to be." Remus added.

"You-you made a map of Hogwarts?" McGonnagall said. "Four teenagers, before even completing their O.W.Ls, did what no one in a thousand years has ever done before. How did you even manage to track the ghosts and Animagi?"

"Homunculus Charm." Remus shrugged as if were an obvious choice. "Me, James and Sirius cast it at the same time. I did the research and was strongest at performing charms, and Sirius and James were there to make sure the Charm was strong enough to last. We were strong enough on our own, but together we created something that's lasted years, and will probably last longer than we'll ever live." 

McGonnagall looked at him, completely stunned and dumbfounded, and then broke out into a smile. 

"Oh, boys." She said, and Remus felt a mix of nostalgia and heartache at the sound of McGonnagall calling them that again.

To her, they would always be those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed boys, with their whole lives ahead, and their smiles and laughter filling the corridors, the sound of their shoes slamming against the stones of the castle as they ran from Filch. The number of times that she had tried to catch them out, but had found them breathless in their dormitory instead, so clearly up to something but frustratingly avoiding her almost every time, was likely playing through her head as she saw them now as men. 

Men with the sorrow and grief of war a burden on their shoulders. 

But men who had found each other again despite it, rekindled that teenage love they'd had for each other, carrying it onto adulthood and fighting to make it work because they couldn't imagine being any other way. They had been through too much together to ever be just friends. One might argue that they'd never been only friends to one another.

Every moment of their lives had been leading to their fateful first kiss in their dormitory after days of insufferable irritability on Sirius' part and at least three years of pining. 

They had kept those sweet and soft smiles reserved only for one another, remembered the way their hands felt when they were slotted together, how much stronger and braver and better they felt with the other by their side, and they had fought to keep it, strived to make sure they got their happy ending.

Even if James was gone and Peter was a traitor, they'd kept this. They'd beat the odds, they'd gotten married and made sure that Harry still had some semblance of a family in his life that adored him, that wanted him. They'd fought to reunite their family despite the tragedy and devastation that had once torn them apart. 

Sirius and Remus stepped towards her and she pulled them both close, hugging them. "I can't believe you managed to keep it from me for so long," She said with fondness. "I'd give anything for you to be able to go back to your first year with the knowledge you have now and change it all. How I've missed you all." 

"I wish we could go back and change it too, but bad things happen to those who mess with time. We've missed you too, Minnie," Sirius said. His voice betrayed the tears threatening to spill from his eyes. McGonnagall pulled back and gave him a faux stern look. She had always pretended to disapprove of Sirius' casual nickname for her, but she had never scolded him outright. 

"I'll talk to the packs, ask if there are any volunteers to try the potion. Please be assured that my name will be at the top of the list, Minerva." Remus said. McGonnagall gave him a grateful smile and placed a hand on his cheek. 

"I knew it would be, Remus." She said. "You're were always a fantastically brave boy in your school years, and you've only become more so as you grew into an adult. I'm so proud of you and what you've become, of all you've endured and the courage you've shown. There are so few true models from each House, but you're one of them. James and Sirius are as well, and I will never stop boasting that I got lucky enough to teach you all." 

"We were the lucky ones, Professor." Sirius insisted. "Without you, we wouldn't be who we are today. You're a brilliant role model. I don't think I ever thanked you. It was incredibly rude of me, but I am thankful for you never giving up on us, even when we were a pain."

McGonnagall sniffled and dapped her eyes with a handkerchief she brought out of her pocket. "You were a pain, but you were still my boys, and you always will be. Now go on, go get some rest. Talk to the packs tomorrow and send me a list of names should anyone wish to participate." 

Remus nodded and she gave them both one last smile as she walked towards the door of Grimmauld Place and Disapparated.

Chapter Text

Remus hated the taste of the potion, but over the last two months, he'd been getting used to it. Slowly, those that had volunteered and had the ability to shift between human and wolf when taking the potion, had been growing confident in it as well.

Many of them had hated the change, as they usually would during the full moon, and had decided to avoid that side effect, while others had embraced it.

Because of the potion, there was more control and freedom in changing at will, and many of them found that it reduced the aggression and pent up feelings they experienced leading up to the full moon. 

Remus and the werewolves that accompanied him were careful to avoid the densely populated corridors on their way out of the Ministry, as they always were.

It felt nice to be able to leave Grimmauld Place, even if it was only once a week. Any sense of freedom was enough for him. He and the other werewolves were smuggled in and out at a specific time every week, using some of the back entrances into the Ministry by trusted officials that were loyal to the Order.

This week, it was Wendelin Keen, a man with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes, an incredibly valuable connection within the Potions Association, as well as the Wizengamot. He had been appointed into the Wizengamot by Thicknesse himself and had been undetected by the Snatchers so far.

Helping the werewolves into the Ministry was a dangerous task, and he would be punished and penalised heavily if he was discovered. This was a new escape route that Remus hadn't seen before, a secret panel with a passageway hidden behind it that would lead to a back alley somewhere in Central London.

"Alright, we're here." Keen whispered, tapping his wand against a panel on the wall. A doorway slid open, revealing a long, narrow corridor. "Keep your heads down until you get back to headquarters. Thank you for being here. Good luck." 

Remus stood to one side to usher the packs through the doorway when a sharp blaring sound echoed through the building. The packs all flinched and covered their ears, their heightened senses making many noises painful now. Remus gritted his teeth and looked to Keen. 

He barely managed to grunt out the words, "What is that?!" 

Keen was looking around frantically, fiddling with his wand. "Someone's sounded an emergency alarm. It's one of the newer ones, I don't know what it's for. You have to hurry before someone notices you're here. This corridor is quieter, but it'll be filled with people soon. There are so many sly officials looking for the opportunity to rise through the ranks by snitching out their colleagues." 

Footsteps were sounding not too far fro them, and Remus' heart constricted. He gestured for the packs to go ahead and started grabbing some of them by the shoulders, guiding them into the passageway. 

"Remus, come on!" Lydia said. 

"Come with us," Remus said to Keen.

Keen shook his head and dug around in his robes. He pulled out some vials with a green liquid. The new Wolfsbane. He handed them to Remus, who began packing some of them into his pockets, passing some along to the other werewolves to store when he ran out of room in his blazer. 

"Take these with you. I promised Minerva I'd carry some with me at all times just in case we needed a quick getaway and couldn't get back to the labs in time. All of the team have some packed with them. I'll get the rest to you somehow. Go, before they find you." 

"You'll be found out. You're too far from the labs. They'll consider it suspicious behaviour. Keen, they'll torture you for information, they'll use Veritaserum."

"I knew the risk when I chose my side in this war," Keen said. "I accepted the likelihood that I could be caught when I told Minerva about the potion. Keep it safe, Remus. Use it when you need it, use it for good, and make sure that there's some left so the next Potion Masters don't have to start from scratch. I need you to Obliviate me so that I don't give anything away. Promise me." 

Remus' face fell. This could very likely be the last time he would see Keen, who was one of the most prominent Potions Masters leading the Wolfsbane trials. He had come to consider the man a friend, and now he would likely lose that, either through the torture that Keen might face, or through the Forgetfulness Charm that Remus didn't know if anyone would be able to reverse. The charm was so temperamental, and its effects were often slightly different in every victim. 

"I promise," Remus said. "Is there nothing I can do to help? I can ... I don't know, I can help you fend them off for a few more minutes so you can get out." 

"Remus, no!" Lydia hissed. "We aren't leaving without you!" 

"Do it, Remus!" Keen said forcefully, grabbing Remus and pushing him into the passageway just as Ministry officials started rounding the corner. They weren't too far away now, just thirty feet away.

Multiple hands steadied Remus, and Remus raised his wand towards Keen. 

"We'll restore your memory as soon as we can." He said. Keen smiled, accepting the fate that was coming, and Remus took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders. "Obliviate!" 

Remus didn't have time to make sure the spell had worked properly. He saw the confusion spread across Keen's face and saw the panel slide back into place as someone behind him tapped their wand against the wall and muttered the password. 

Someone tugged Remus by the wrist and suddenly they were all running for their lives. There were scuffles and yells coming from behind them, as well as the sizzling of magic, and then there was silence.

Remus had regained his balance and was bringing up the rear of the group, seeing nothing but his friends sprinting as fast as they could towards the exit.

"Everyone, link up!" Lydia yelled. 

The werewolves began grasping for one another, and the sound of the panel uncovering itself again echoed through the passage. Whoever had sounded the alarm and gotten ahold of Keen was practically on their heels. Remus grabbed onto Hunter, who was directly in front of him and reaching for Remus' hand. "Moony, get us to HQ!" 

Remus barely registered Lydia using his nickname, knowing that she was asking for his help getting past the wards without giving his name away to the officials behind them. He focused, picturing the downstairs hallway of Grimmauld Place and felt the familiar vacuum of Apparating surround him and his fellow werewolves. 

~

They landed sprawled in one long heap in the hallway, some of them tangled amongst each other as they all tried to fit into the main Apparation point. All in all, about eighteen werewolves had signed up to be a part of the new trials.

There were forty-five werewolves, not including Remus, staying at Grimmauld Place, stuffed into the attic and the spare rooms where the children would usually stay, and having so many of them willingly want to trial a new Wolfsbane potion was a relief. 

Along with the weekly trip to the Ministry, they did their best to support Molly, Arthur, and Hope when it came to getting rations. Sirius, Kingsley, the Tonks', Lyall, Bill and Fleur helped out where they could in between missions, but food and medical supplies were always low with so many people to feed and patch up after long stakeouts. 

Remus was breathing heavily. He could feel at least three elbows or knees poking into him, and all he could see was the ceiling. Around him, people were helping each other to their feet, untangling themselves from one another and straightening themselves out. 

"Thank Merlin you're back! We've just had a report from Minerva. Something's happened in the Ministry." Arthur called from the kitchen. Remus sat up and thanked Archer as he offered Remus a hand and hauled him up. 

"Keen. Someone knew he was helping us and where our exit was." Hunter explained as he passed Arthur on his way to the kitchen. The werewolves began filtering themselves inside. Some took seats, others stood, others flitting around into different rooms.

Remus spotted his mother and Sirius by the stove, their backs to the rest of the room, and walked over. He gave his mother a quick kiss on the cheek before hugging Sirius from behind, placing his head on Sirius' shoulder.

Sirius was currently keeping an eye on dinner, stirring some kind of stew around in a pot. Molly being away with Kingsley and Tonks somewhere in the Midlands, so most of the cooking duties now fell to Sirius and Hope. 

"Hiya, love," Remus whispered. 

"Hiya," Sirius said softly, leaning back into Remus' embrace. "We heard what happened at the Ministry. I'm glad you're okay."

"I'm glad I've come back to find you calm and not throwing plates at people." Remus joked. Sirius chuckled and placed his free hand over one of Remus'. 

"Hope told me that keeping my hands busy and having something to do would help relieve the worry, so I've been helping with dinner." 

"Well, aren't you turning into the perfect little housewife?" Sirius laughed properly at that as he put the wooden spoon to one side and turned in Remus' arms, linking his arms around Remus' neck. "But in all seriousness, it's good that you're finding ways to remain calm when I inevitably get myself into trouble out in the world."

"After over twenty-five years of friendship, I'm pretty used to you getting into trouble," Sirius said. "I'm just not used to you getting into it without me there to get you out of it."

Remus scoffed. "Please, we would've spent our entire school lives in detention if not for my escape plans. I'm certainly not the one in need of help."

"You know what I mean. You're careless when it comes to your own life. You're too busy protecting everyone else that you hardly ever let anyone protect you. That's where I come in. I care about you enough for both of us." 

Remus smiled and leant their foreheads together. "The feeling is mutual, Pads."

~

Sirius hissed in pain as he landed in the courtyard of Hogwarts. The journey had been long, and he was still getting used to Apparating long distances.

Hermione, Ron, and Harry were safe. Harry had managed to get inside the castle, his robes on once again, and was in the Great Hall with the rest of the student body. Hermione and Ron were with the Order now, stood in the courtyard of their school. 

"Come on, let's get inside," Molly said. The Order hurried towards the Great Hall and burst through the front doors, seeing Harry stood in the centre, Snape opposite him. 

Students were gathered closely knit together in their Houses, bristling and scared as they watched the Order enter and Harry confronting Snape. 

Snape brandished his wand and the Order was doing the same in an instant, all at the ready to protect Harry. This would not be the end of Harry's story tonight, not with some of the most powerful duellers on earth at his back. 

Sirius could feel nothing but fury spread through his body at the sight of his old schoolboy rival with his aim right on Harry. On his and Remus' boy.

On James and Lily's boy. 

"Step away from my godson, Snivellus," Sirius growled. "Or this is going to go down worse than it did that night in our fifth year. This time, you will die, and not even Remus will be able to hold me back. Step away from Harry. Now."  

Students were looking at him anxiously. He was stood right at the front with Kingsley, Ron, Hermione, Bill and Remus. They would all know his name, his legacy as the man who had been falsely imprisoned for murdering twelve Muggles and his best friend, as well as being the man who had supposedly helped Voldemort kill Harry's parents. 

And here he was, standing in the Great Hall, with his wand pointed at their new Headmaster, threatening to kill him, not caring about how he would be perceived. 

"You're outnumbered, Snape," Kingsley said. 

"Be smart, Severus. Stand down while you still have the chance." Remus added. 

And then McGonnagall swept into the centre of the room, throwing an arm in front of Harry, and the crowds parted to opposite sides of the room, leaving plenty of space for what was about to unfold.

Snape seemed to falter for just a moment before squaring his shoulders once again, readjusting his stance and throwing a series of arching orange flames at McGonnagall.

She deflected them, firing off offensive spells of her own and forcing Snape back towards the dais. The Carrows went down and Snape suddenly collapsed into smoke, shooting through the window, smashing it and disappearing into the night. 

McGonnagall gestured around her and the candles were once again lit. Relief and joy and celebratory noise spread through the Hall and the Order relaxed, putting their wands away. 

"What are you doing?!" Someone yelled over the noise. "Someone grab him! Someone do something!" Everyone's attention was drawn to a young Slytherin girl with dark hair, pointing at Harry. There was fear in her eyes, and Sirius almost felt sorry for her. 

For a moment, the Hall was quiet. Until Ginny moved forward, placing herself in front of Harry. And then so did some others from Gryffindor, and then people from other Houses drifted over. Hermione and Ron stepped forward, and the Order moved towards the back of the group. A silent agreement passed between them all. Harry was their priority, and if they could protect him from Snape and the Carrows tonight, they could protect him from scared Slytherins who had been indoctrinated their whole lives. 

"Students out of bed! Students in the corridor!" A familiar voice called, and Sirius stifled a laugh as he saw Filch run in with Mrs Norris in his arms. 

"We're very much aware, thank you, Argus," McGonnagall said. "While you're here, would you please escort the Slytherins back down to the dungeons?" 

Filch spluttered and seemed to take in the students surrounding him, and then on the Order. He spotted Sirius and scowled briefly before hesitantly stepping towards the Slytherins. 

"Right," Filch said with uncertainty. "Back to the dungeons. Of course. This way, all of you." 

Cheers echoed as the Slytherins stormed out, leaving Filch in the dust to catch up. He looked confused and angry for a moment, and he hurried after them, calling out for their attention. 

"I'm assuming by your return that there is something you must do in the castle," McGonnagall said to Harry once the noise had calmed down. Harry nodded. "Then I suggest you get started. Good luck."

Harry smiled and thanked his Professor, beginning to turn to face the Order. 

"Potter," McGonnagall called. Harry turned to face her again and she smiled. "It's good to see you."

"It's good to see you too, Professor," Harry said.  

When Harry was once again facing the Order, Sirius manoeuvred his way between people, holding his arms out for only a moment before Harry was throwing himself into them. 

Both of them let out a breath they hadn't realised they'd been holding, gripping each other tightly.

"You're grounded for the rest of your life once this is all over," Sirius said. Harry laughed. 

"I'm glad to see you too, Sirius." Harry pulled back and hugged Remus, who had also made his way to the front to greet Harry. 

"Sirius is right, you're under house arrest from now on. We're never letting you out of our sight again." Remus said. "Do you have any idea how scared we've been?! We've been worried sick for almost a year!" Harry pulled back and gave them both a brief smile. 

"I'm alright, Remus, I swear. We've been up to all sorts, but we're safe. We went to Godric's Hollow briefly looking for the Sword of Gryffindor. I visited Mum and Dad's grave at Christmas, saw the old house and had a run-in with Nagini, broke my wand, got caught by Snatchers and taken to Malfoy Manor, escaped with Luna, Ollivander and Griphook. Lots of things have happened. I'll tell you about it later, but right now, I have something I need to do. And I need to hurry." 

"Is this is about the Horcruxes?" Sirius asked. Harry nodded. 

"I think there's something to do with Rowena Ravenclaw hidden inside the castle. We destroyed the locket a few months ago. We found Hufflepuff's cup, Ron and Hermione are going down to the Chamber of Secrets to destroy it. Basilisk venom will do the job." 

"Get a Ravenclaw that you trust to help you," Remus said. "We'll start helping with the defences around the castle, give you a headstart on You-Know-Who. Be quick, but be careful, Harry. Promise us you'll stay safe." 

"Of course." Harry nodded. "You two stay safe as well, okay? The sooner this is over, the sooner we can be a proper family. I don't want to lose either of you tonight." 

Sirius and Remus gave him matching smiles.

"There's something that we used to say to each other as teenagers." Remus started. "'Until morning.' It started off as a reminder to stay as Animagi during the full moons. Eventually, it evolved and became the others' way of reassuring me that we'd see each other again when the morning came. And then we started using it when we joined the Order as well. We were always so scared of losing each other. To us, it means, 'Stay alive until I see you again, stay safe for me.' I suppose it's the Marauders' way of saying I love you."

"It's just until morning, Prongs, that's all it is. We'll see you then." Sirius said, catching onto what Remus was trying to say.

It had been so long since he and Remus had exchanged the fatal promise with James. James had woken up one day, not knowing that it was his last to spend with his wife and child. He had never had another morning to look forward to. He had never had the opportunity to have his child wake him up by bouncing on him. His child, who looked so much like him and was now an adult, facing something bigger than he'd ever asked for. Sirius was sometimes startled to think that he had been in a very similar situation at Harry's age.

Forced to join a war too young. Forced to lose so much so soon.

Harry looked taken aback at the use of his father's nickname, and his eyes watered, but he forced himself to hold back. 

"It's just until morning," Harry repeated softly. "Keep an eye on Padfoot, won't you, Moony? He'll need someone at his back so he doesn't act like an idiot." 

Remus laughed and nodded. It was strange to hear Harry using the nicknames from their childhood, but Remus knew that this was how it was always meant to be. If things had not gone so wrong that night, Harry would've grown up knowing these secrets, knowing these names, and Remus would not find it so strange to hear them.

Having it now was hard after so long without James, and it made the space in his heart where James would always reside ache. Peter and Sirius and Lily had their places there, too. His first friends, his first and only love, his first so many things, took up every inch of his heart, made him strong and brave, made him the man he was.

This familiarity, this trading of secrets from a legacy of four boys who had been the best of friends once upon a time, passed down to the next generation, was happening later that Remus and Sirius had ever thought. They'd always believed they had all the time in the world. There was so much they'd missed out on. Making up for it now, letting Harry in on their lives and the way things had once been, was the only way to go now, no matter how much it might hurt sometimes when they remembered James and Lily were never coming back, and Peter was the reason why. 

"Will do, Prongs. Now go on, don't waste any more time. Do what you need to do." Remus said. Harry gave them one last smile before he took off from the Hall.

Remus and Sirius watched him go before they went over to Minerva to be briefed on what to do now that they siege was due to begin.

Chapter Text

"Good to see you again, Professor," Seamus said to Remus. Sirius, Remus, Seamus, Neville, Flitwick, McGonnagall and Molly were gathered, walking out of the Great Hall towards the courtyard to make preparations for the coming battle. 

"It's lovely to see you too, Seamus," Remus replied.

"Alright, Mr Black? I don't think we've met. I'm Seamus Finnigan, I'm one of Harry's friends." Seamus said, sticking a hand out to Sirius, who shook it and smiled. "I didn't know he had a godfather. Sorry for thinking you're a killer, the Ministry had everyone fooled."

"Nice to meet you, Seamus. Please, call me Sirius. I haven't been a Black since I got married the year before last." Sirius said. "Don't worry about the whole serial killer thing. Even Remus believed it for a little while, and he's known me since we were eleven." 

"Let it go, Sirius, we've talked about this!" Remus grumbled, patting his pockets and looking for a cigarette.

He was nervous and antsy for what was to come tonight. He could have one, and that's all he needed. He just needed to find the ruddy things now. Sirius just grinned. 

"It's a touchy subject for him." He whispered conspiratorially to Seamus, who laughed. He looked to Remus, who was still searching through his pockets. "Here, Moony, looking for these?"

He held up a packet of cigarettes and held them out to Remus.

"Ah, there they are. Thank you, Padfoot," Remus mused, taking one and putting it in his mouth.

Sirius did the same and Remus held up one finger, letting a small flame spring from his fingertip and light both his and Sirius' cigarettes before they both took a deep drag.

Remus blew out a breath, trying to aim it away from Seamus, wafting the air to be rid of the smoke. 

By this point, they were now hit with the fresh air of the outside world as they approached the doors to the castle.

"Don't ever get into smoking, Seamus. It's a nasty habit that my very bad influence of a husband endorses." Remus said to Seamus, blowing out another drag.

Seamus looked quite shocked to see his ex-Professor smoking and talking about having a husband, but accepted it regardless. Sirius grinned at Remus and nudged him gently with an elbow. 

"You wouldn't have me any other way, my love." He said.

"Neville, I'd like you to prepare to take down the bridge," McGonnagall said as they descended the steps into the courtyard. 

"You mean blow it up?" Neville asked. "Boom?" 

"Boom!" McGonnagall exclaimed. 

"But how do I do that?" 

"If I remember correctly, Mr Finnigan has a particular proclivity for pyrotechnics," McGonnagall said.

Neville and Seamus stepped to the front of the group, checked that their Professor was being serious, and then looked at one another. 

"I can bring it down," Seamus said with confidence. McGonnagall smiled at him gratefully.

"That's the spirit, boys." She said. 

"We'll get started now," Neville said. He looked to Remus. "It was nice seeing you again, Professor Lupin. Thank you, by the way. For helping me with that Boggart in my third year. I was a little less scared of Snape after that. It helped. So thank you." 

Remus was taken aback for a moment, and then he smiled softly. "It's quite alright, Neville, but you did it all on your own. You just needed a little nudge in the right direction. Go on now, get busy. Stay safe." 

Neville and Seamus took off and Remus took a few more short drags of his cigarette before stubbing it out. He felt shaky still, but he would be okay for now.

"You realise, of course," Flitwick started. "That we can't keep You-Know-Who out indefinitely."

"That doesn't mean we can't delay him. And his name is Voldemort, Filius, you might as well use it. He's going to try and kill you either way." McGonnagall said, turning to face the entryway of the school, raising her wand. Flitwick walked further into the courtyard and stood at his place, ready to cast his protections. "Piertotum Locomortis!"

Remus, Molly, and Sirius turned to see the statues that had stood beside the Great Hall for as long as anyone could remember began to drop down from their stands and walk out.

Remus felt his mouth drop open in shock. He'd had no idea that the statues could move, that they could be called into action in this way. 

"Hogwarts is threatened!" McGonnagall said. "Man the boundaries! Protect us, do your duty to our school!" The four of them turned back to face the courtyard again as the statues began their march. 

"I love magic." Remus breathed.

"I've always wanted to use that spell," McGonnagall said to them giddily. She looked to Sirius and Remus. "How are things with the werewolf packs?" 

"Ask them yourself," Remus said, gesturing to the crowd of werewolves now walking towards them. They were stern-faced and straight-backed, grim and serious. 

"Greyback's packs outnumber us," Asa announced as the packs arrived at the steps. 

"But we have our edge," McGonnagall said. "Thank you all for coming. You have no idea how much it means to us to have you all here. Hogwarts thanks you, as does every member of our staff and student body. Every witch and wizard we have is of great importance tonight." 

"Thank you for not forgetting about us," Archer replied. He looked to Remus. "Do you have an answer to our question, Remus?" 

"What question?" Sirius asked. Remus' chest constricted. 

Here it was. The fatal choice. Werewolf or wizard? Human or beast? Would he fight alongside the people who accepted that he was a wild thing, as they were, or the people that had raised and taught him, loved him, who he had spent his whole life with? 

"The question of who I will be fighting with tonight," Remus said. 

"What do you mean, who you're fighting with?" A familiar voice called. Remus looked to his right to see his parents approaching. His father had spoken and was now frowning at him. "You're defending the castle, arent you? You're staying with us."

"I've been asked to join the werewolves for the first wave of the night," Remus explained. "The aim is to use the new Wolfsbane and to shift willingly into our werewolf counterparts, use it as an offensive tactic to take out as many of Voldemort's followers as possible while everyone else defends the castle."

"So ... you'd be the only ones outside of the protective barrier?" Hope asked. Remus nodded. "No." She said simply. "No. Remus, you're not doing it. You're - you're staying here. At the castle. With us, where we can protect you."

"Mum-"

"Don't patronise her, Remus. She's worried about you. We both are." Lyall said lowly.

"I'm not patronising anyone." Remus said. "You two are staying at the castle because your skills are best put to use here. Mine are best put on the front lines. I can finally use my lycanthropy as a force for good. I'm not a child anymore, there are some things that you can't protect me from. We all have a part to play tonight. This is mine."

Remus moved to the step below him when he felt a hand on his wrist. He turned and saw Sirius watching him worriedly. 

This was the part Remus was most scared of. Leaving behind his husband and trusting that he would take care of himself for the time being.

This was the time that Remus wanted to be with him most, wanted to make sure that Sirius was always okay, always alive, never left to his own devices. 

But he knew he'd only be distracted by Sirius' presence if he stayed. He wanted them both to survive the night, and nothing was a better motivator than fighting to get back to one another.

"Moony, I-" Sirius started. 

"Please, Padfoot, don't make this any harder than it already is." Remus pleaded.

He linked fingers with Sirius and pressed his lips to Sirius' left ring finger, right where his wedding ring was.

"Stay here. Stay away from the high places, the Death Eaters will use the balconies and the walkways to their advantage. I'll come to find you once I'm done, I promise. I need to do this. For all the people in the packs that were killed. I need to indulge Moony for once, be a wild thing for a little while." 

"We'll take good care of him, Sirius." Lydia said. 

Sirius nodded. "I know. Thank you. Be careful, all of you." His eyes locked onto Remus' again. "I love you." 

"I love you too." Remus replied, squeezing Sirius' hand tightly and briefly before turning and stepping down to the same level as the other werewolves.

Lydia smiled and handed him a vial of the new Wolfsbane. Other werewolves around them were taking it, and Remus downed it in one, already accounstomed to the foul smell and taste. 

"Come on, let's head out." Archer encouraged.

They'd only made it a few steps before Sirius called Remus' name again. Remus turned and only had a moment to process the wild mop of black hair coming towards him before he had his husband in his arms.

He took a few steps back and pressed a kiss to the top of Sirius' head. The sorrow and fear seemed to be rolling off Sirius in waves.

"This isn't goodbye, Padfoot. It's okay. I love you, I love you so much." He said, clutching Sirius to him tightly. 

He knew Sirius was crying, he could feel the slight tremor in the shorter man's shoulders. It was Sirius' tell. He was a silent crier, he had been forced to become one in his childhood, where weakness was always punished. The tremor in his shoulders was the only thing that gave him away.

When Sirius pulled back, he pulled Remus into a searing kiss, his hands fisted in Remus' blazer. Remus cupped Sirius' face tenderly as he pressed back, knowing that tenderness was what Sirius needed right now.

A few wolf whistles sounded from their right, all from the werewolves, and Sirius let go, stepping away and smiling bravely. 

"Go save the world as a wild thing. Just promise you'll come back to me by the morning." 

"Always." Remus said. Sirius backed away and returned to Professor McGonnagall, who extended an arm to him and put a reassuring hand on his cheek.

Remus committed the sight to memory as he followed the other werewolves as they took off into a sprint towards the edges of a barrier that was now beginning to take form around the castle. 

~

Remus' body was splattered in blood that didn't belong to him.

He was currently running, as Moony, across the stone walkway that had once been a battlefield between the stone guardians in front of the Great Hall and Voldemort's giants and trolls. Bodies were littered everywhere, the stone destroyed and crumbling all around him. 

The smell of all the blood made Remus feel sick. He was very quickly losing the strength to keep Moony at bay. He was calling for more blood to be spilt. It was too close to the full moon, just four days away, and Remus was working hard alongside this new Wolfsbane to keep himself in check.

He'd had not nearly enough time to practice. Two months had not been enough to prepare him for this.

Despite magic being used against most victims that were now sprawled across the ground, there were some that had been hit by debris or by the trolls and giants' weapons, leaving mess and gore everywhere. 

He had a series of werewolves sprinting after him. Of the eighteen that had chosen to take the new Wolfsbane, seven were not mortally wounded or dead, still in their wolf forms. The others had all been Apparated back towards the castle and to the Great Hall, which was now acting as the new Hospital Wing.

There were still at least twenty-five werewolves on their side that were alive and well. Others had been hit by Death Eaters, now left back on the battlefield to be brought back when the battle was over. 

Greyback's recruits had been all but decimated. Greyback had disappeared before Remus had gotten ahold of him, Disapparating less than ten minutes into the fight. Remus hadn't seen him since. 

When they reached the castle's courtyard, there was havoc. Voldemort was sending spell after spell towards a figure ducking in between the outside corridors. He saw the glasses, smelt that familiar scent that always made Remus feel almost overwhelmingly protective. 

Harry. 

There were Death Eaters Disapparating, and the werewolves burst past the remaining ones, skidding towards the rest of the Order and those fighting in opposition of Voldemort. There were screams as people recognised werewolves and Remus shifted immediately, covering his head as the force of slowing down and shifting sent him sprawling to the ground. 

He hit the ground and rolled a few times, using his momentum to gather his feet beneath him and stumble towards the castle. Arthur steadied him, and he heard a few people exclaim and express their shock at seeing him shift. He recognised so many of their faces.

Students that he'd taught four years ago, now more grown-up than they had been the last time he'd seen them. He saw the recognition in their eyes as the man that had taught them for a year, now back to fight to protect them.

He had never forgotten their names. He had never forgotten their faces, their dream jobs, the way they'd light up when they got a new spell right. 

Remus coughed violently and spat blood onto the ground, still wheezing slightly as he straightened and brushed his hair back from his face. 

"Come on, Remus, you need to see Madame Pomfrey, you're covered in blood-"

"It's not mine." Remus said, looking down for the first time. His tongue and his mouth felt strange, like they didn't quite belong to him. His clothes were tattered in places, covered in dark stains. "I got hit a few times, but Moony took the brunt of the damage. We're okay. We're both okay." 

"We've still got to get inside." Arthur encouraged. 

"Harry-"

"Is fending for himself. He's doing a marvellous job." Molly said. She grabbed Remus' sleeve and tugged him inside. 

"Alright," Remus said. He looked towards some of the students he recognised, now fifth years. "Eliza, Amelia, round up the younger years and get them inside. Amanda, Giles, give them a hand. Take them up to the Defense classroom, I'll make sure someone heads up there to guard you shortly. Grab as many of them as you can along the way. Barricade the door and set up the strongest Locking Charm you can. Don't hesitate, go!"

"Professor Lupin-"

"There's no time, Amelia, go!" Remus exclaimed. "Wands at the ready, don't let go of them!" He grabbed some first years and gently guided them in the direction of the entrance to the castle. "Everyone, inside! First, second and third years, follow your yeargroups, we're figuring out somewhere safe to go!" 

The crowds began to shift and Remus staggered up the steps, sending spells at the remaining Death Eaters before they could Apparate into the castle. 

"Remus, there's something you should know-" Molly started. 

"Arthur, Molly, can you send word to Aberforth or Kingsley to get to the Defence room to protect the younger years? They don't know enough magic to go up against Death Eaters yet, and they shouldn't be put in that situation." 

"Remus-"

"We don't have time to talk, Molly!" Remus snapped. "I'm going up towards the Towers. I need to find Sirius. I know that he'll have ignored me and gone straight to wherever the danger is. Please, just get two or three people to head towards the Defence classroom to protect the students." 

Remus took off, ignoring the strain and aches ricocheting through his body, once again throwing himself into the fray. 

~

"You can start by washing whoever's dried blood that is off your wand and hands, and tying your hair back." 

Sirius dunked his hands into the basin of warm water, scrubbing them together to rid them of the blood, and then gently dunking his wand, gently massaging the wood. 

Merlin, there's so much blood. It's not mine, I think it's from whatever wounds they picked up when I Apparated them down here. 

He rubbed his hands and wand dry on a nearby towel, satisfied that he'd got the blood off his hands, then scraped his hair back, wrapping it round his wand with ease and pinning it in place. He'd done it a million and one times before in lieu of a hair bobble, and it often worked a lot better than pins. 

"Mr Black, I need a hand over here!" Madame Pomfrey called. Sirius hurried over to her, taking the bandages and scissors she handed to him, and automatically starting to unwrap the fabric. 

"How big do you need them?"

"Enough for a deep thigh wound." 

Sirius unravelled the bandages just enough, then snipped it once he was done, handing the now loose fabric to Madame Pomfrey.

He offered her a finger to tie the knot in the bandage now wrapped around the seventh year's leg. 

"Onto the next one!" Madame Pomfrey called. 

And that was how they worked. For how long, Sirius didn't know. But it was long enough to forget the things that had happened while he'd been fighting. 

A bright flash of green lighting up the corridor, headed in between Sirius and his companion, and Sirius ignored it in favour of trying to hit the Death Eater who was firing the shot. 

A female scream. 

The sound of a body hitting the floor. 

Then a man calling out the woman's name, the sound of his footsteps running. Sirius' companion was running backwards towards the woman.

The sizzle of more magic coming closer, and Sirius just dodged it, firing his own spell in return, but the Death Eater had disappeared. 

He turned, looked, and saw the man now curled around the woman he'd called his wife, both with unseeing eyes seemingly locked onto one another, now glassy and dull. 

Sirius reached them before he'd even realised he'd moved, grabbing both of them and immediately Apparating down to the Great Hall, straight into the madness, where there were now healers trying to do their jobs while helping out the duellers and the Aurors and the students and staff get rid of the Death Eaters popping into thin air. 

The woman wasn't even supposed to have been in that corridor, but Sirius had found out that she had volunteered to collect more supplies for fast acting burn relief.

She'd been briefed for days on the corridors of Hogwarts so that she could help wherever she was needed, and there was no one else in close proximity that could've gone. 

So she had volunteered and had been forced to take a detour because of the debris blocking her way, and had found herself trapped in the middle of a duel between her husband, Sirius, and a Death Eater.

The Death Eater had reacted on instinct, had seen that the woman was not wearing black.

He had killed her, marking another casualty in this fight. He had then used the woman's husband distracted state to kill him as well before Disapparating away.

As cowardly as they came, that Death Eater. 

Sirius stood, now in the Great Hall, firing off as many spells as he could in as many directions as possible, taking just enough time to aim his wand and think before he was turning again.

He could hear the screams as people were hit with spells all around the room, and kept turning as he stepped over the bodies of his mother and father in-law as he joined the fight once again.

~

He had been here for what must've been two hours by now, at least. He had seen so many injuries, so many people, that they all blurred together.

The screams had long since finished. The fighting was still going on in the corridors above them, but Death Eaters had stopped popping into the Great Hall a while ago now. It had given rise to more people volunteering their skills to the healers borrowed from St Mungos.

The knot in his chest had ached a few times as Remus checked to make sure that the bond was still active.

Sirius had managed to force himself on the methodical task of cut more bandages, offer finger for a torniquet, clean hands, put pressure on that wound, cast this healing spell, give someone XYZ potion, fetch that ointment, check and change those blood-soaked bandages, hold this person's hand and soothe them as they slip into the next world.  

Sirius was no longer able to process the stares he got from the people around him. His actions would speak louder than words tonight.

He was not Sirius Black. He was just another dueller, he was a volunteer healer, he was a member of the Order of the Pheonix, he was Harry Potter's godfather. He was anyone but himself. 

"Sirius. Sirius!" Sirius snapped back into his body, having realised that he'd been staring off into space. 

"Sorry, Poppy." Sirius said, focusing again on the ointment in his hand. He handed it over to Madame Pomfrey and she smiled. 

"Take a break. I can handle this one on my own." Sirius shook his head. 

"I'm okay."

"Sirius, you've been at it for the last three hours." 

Three hours. Longer than I thought.

"You've been at it for longer. I can handle it, I swear."

"But you've also been fighting and Apparating. I've had forty years of experience of being on the clock. I'm used to it. You are not. You've spent a lot of energy today. Take a moment to sit down and have some water." Madame Pomfrey said. "The urgent injuries are starting to slow down now. Take a break, Sirius." 

Sirius faltered and took in his surroundings, finally noticing the things he'd been desensitized to. There was so much stillness in some of the people here, covered in tarps and blankets, the sound of soft sobs and the smell of burnt clothes and blood and grime. 

"I - I need to find Remus." He said quietly. "He said he'd find me soon, he promised he'd come back for me." 

Just then, as if Remus had somehow heard him, there was a sharp tug on the knot in his chest, the one that linked his soul to Remus'. Sirius hissed and rubbed at it. 

"What's wrong?" Madame Pomfrey asked, stepping closer in concern. Sirius waved her off. 

"It's okay. I think Remus is trying to find me. We linked souls as teenagers through a kind of magic unique to werewolves. The packs must've been teaching him how to use it to his whim." Sirius gasped. 

Find me, love. I'm here, I'm alive. Great Hall. Come find me. I love you. 

~

Remus limped through the rows upon rows of people sprawled out across the Great Hall. 

"Remus ... before you go in there ... you should know that your parents are there." Kingsley said. 

"Thank Merlin. It's probably the safest place for them right now." Kingsley's face fell and Remus frowned at him. "What?"

"They're not there because they retreated for safety." He said. "Molly and Arthur were trying to tell you earlier that ... Remus, they're gone. Yaxley got to them. Sirius and Lyall were taking him on, Hope was going to the Herbology storeroom for supplies. She got caught up in it, it distracted Lyall. Yaxley used it to his advantage. He Disapparated away before Sirius could get a clear shot. Remus, I'm so sorry."

Remus heart stopped. "I - I ... my parents are ... they're dead?" 

Kingsley nodded. "I was down in the Great Hall about three hours ago, it must've happened while you were with the werewolves. I saw them. I've spoken to Molly and Arthur, we agreed that we'd let you know, but we wouldn't breathe a word to anyone else." 

Remus' whole body felt numb and cold. He knew that, realistically, the adrenaline and the shock was making it impossible for him to feel too much of anything right now, they were giving him too much of a high.

It would hit him later, and he would cry, and he'd want to scream and curl up in a ball and hide away in his and Sirius' room at Grimmauld Place and never see the light of day again. 

"I - I need to find them." Remus said. "I need to find Sirius." 

Remus trudged towards the Great Hall from where he was now in the West Corridor. With invisible fingers, he felt around in his chest cavity for that part of him that was intertwined with his husband, and gently tugged on it inquisitively.

Lydia had told him that it was possible to trace a mate through the bond, that it took some practice to figure out how to access it in the first place, but once you had figured it out, you could do so many things. 

Sirius' response came back a few moments later, and it raced through Remus' veins, bringing comfort and even sounding like Sirius.

Find me, love. I'm here, I'm alive. Great Hall. Come find me. I love you. 

"I'm coming, Sirius," Remus whispered to himself. 

"Padfoot?" Remus called. "Padfoot, where are you?"

Up ahead, he saw the familiar group of gingers and jumpers, and headed towards them. They were clutching each other and sobbing.

Molly and Arthur looked at him as he approached and Remus slowed, managing to catch a glimpse through the gaps in the children, seeing a blank faced twin staring up at the ceiling, and his heart dropped into his stomach.

He saw the other twin on the floor, on his knees, clutching Ron, and saw the knotted area of scar tissue that marked where his ear used to be and knew which one had died. 

Fred. Remus looked to Molly and Arthur and hesitantly walked over to them. 

"Molly, Arthur, I'm - I'm so sorry, I don't know what to say." Remus said softly. Molly sniffled, wiping at her eyes.

"We're sorry, too. About Hope and Lyall. I can tell you've spoken to Kingsley already." She said.

"Is there anything I can do?" Remus asked. "Anything at all?" 

"Thank you, but I think we just need some time with our family right now. George, especially, needs us." Arthur replied. Remus nodded in understanding and stepped around them. 

Harry was stood just apart from Ron, and relief spread through Remus. That's one of my loved ones that's okay. Thank Merlin.

"Harry," Remus said. Harry looked up and breathed a sigh of relief, hugging Remus tightly. "I'm glad you're okay."

"I'm glad you're okay, too. Have you seen Sirius?" Remus shook his head and pulled away. 

"Have you?" 

"From afar, yeah. He was helping Madame Pomfrey last time I saw him, about fifteen minutes ago." Harry told him. 

"Do you need anything?" Remus asked. Harry shook his head. 

"No, I'm okay. I'm just gonna stay here for a little while. Ron needs me and Hermione right now. You should go and find Sirius, check in and make sure he’s okay. We can sort things out later if you guys are ready." 

Remus looked around, keeping his eye out for familiar black curls.

“Moony!” Someone yelled. “Remus!”

Remus turned back towards the entrance of the Great Hall, seeing Sirius with his hair twirled messily around his wand, a hairstyle that sent Remus into a tailspin of memories from his youth. 

He was in the same aisle as Remus, just fifty feet away at the other end of the Hall, having arrived at another injured student. 

“Sirius!” Remus called. Before he even noticed what was happening, Remus was running towards his husband, and saw only Sirius sprinting to him, the distance between them closing rapidly.

Sirius, alive. Sirius, safe. 

My Sirius.

They collided, and let everything that the last twelve hours had held wash over them, sagging into each other's arms and the momentum sending them tumbling to the stone floor painfully. 

Neither of them noticed. The world fell away, and suddenly it was as if the world had regained its colour after being in black and white.

Suddenly, there was a little more sun in their world, comforted by the safety they now found in each other's presence. 

It's morning, and you're safe in my arms.

Welcome home, my love.

Chapter Text

It's morning, and you're safe in my arms.

Welcome home, my love. 

Sirius and Remus sobbed in one another's arms. For how long, they weren't sure. All they knew that everything was blurred and dark as they buried their faces in each other's shoulders or hair, not caring about anything around them. Everything else had faded away, leaving only the two of them and the home they found in one another.

When they parted, they realised how they'd landed, with their legs tangled together and Sirius sprawled half on top of Remus. They righted themselves, leaning their foreheads together and laughing wetly, tears still streaming down their faces. 

I love you, I missed you, I'm so glad you're safe. 

"Oh for goodness sake, boys! Anyone would think you hadn't seen each other for months!" Madame Pomfrey's voice said from nearby.

The two of them looked towards her and saw only kindness in her expression. She was another person who would always see the two of them as they used to be, as half of the Marauders, the troublemakers, the boys who had spent half of their school lives in detention and the other half in the Hospital Wing, comforting Remus after a full moon or laughing with Sirius and James after they'd gotten Quidditch injuries. 

"Sorry, Poppy," Remus said sheepishly. He wiped at his eyes with his sleeve, collecting the tears marking their way down his face. "You know how dramatic we can be when it comes to one another." 

"Some things never change, even twenty years on." Madame Pomfrey said fondly.

Remus and Sirius grinned as they helped one another up, dusting each other's clothes off and trying to help straighten each other's flyaway hair.

"You look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards," Remus said affectionately, taking Sirius' wand out of his bun, which now falling apart, strands coming to rest at the nape of his neck and framing his face.

He turned Sirius around to re-style it, expertly twisting the hair around the wand and pinning it exactly how Sirius liked it. He'd watched how Lily used to pin her hair back with her wand at school and decided to try it on Sirius once his hair was long enough. He had loved it, and it had been a favourite hairstyle of his for many years.

"So do you, your clothes are a mess," Sirius replied, turning back around to face Remus and gently brush his fringe out of his face. Remus smiled, taking Sirius' hand and mirroring his earlier actions from the night before, leaving a kiss where the ring on Sirius' finger resided as an assurance and a reminder that he was not a widow, he had not lost his soulmate tonight, they were still in this world together, loved and happy. 

"It's nice to see you as a pair again. It broke my heart to see Remus so lonely when he was teaching here. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore and I certainly worry about him a lot less now that he has a four-legged friend on the full moons once again." Madame Pomfrey said. Sirius beamed at the comment. "And rumour has it that Sirius is a Black no longer." 

Remus and Sirius exchanged shy looks to one another. They had been married just over eighteen months now, and they both still got as giddy as newlyweds about it. 

"We - uh ... we thought we'd make the most out of my pardon," Sirius said. He looked at Remus and linked their fingers. "So we got legal custody of Harry and finally tied the knot, something we should've done a long time ago. I like to think that Jamie and Lily can be at peace now. Their son is safe and their best friends are together at home again. They would've wanted it this way." 

Madame Pomfrey sniffled and smiled. "You boys have been through too much in your short lives. I hope you can finally rest now. You've done us all so proud. Especially James and Lily. No one has ever loved their friends more than the Marauders did. I know you'll do right by them when it comes to Harry."  

Remus opened his mouth to thank her when a scream erupted through the Hall. Everyone's attention was immediately captured by the figure now standing in the room, having Apparated to the entrance. He was holding a child on his hip, wand at his side. Amelia was standing close by, and by the tears on her face and the other werewolves holding her back, he could tell that she was the one who had screamed. 

A soft whimper and a cry came from the child in Greyback's arms and Remus' heart stopped. 

He Disapparated during the battle and came back for one last stand, holding a child ransom and knowing that no one would dare to risk the child's life. 

Remus felt over thirty years of anger rise inside him. Thirty years of living with this condition, this thing inside of him that he had to hide, that people hated him for.

They looked to the scars on his face and the shabby clothing and the poverty and the pain he'd faced all his life and judged him for it rather than the good things he'd done. He'd fought in two wars and survived. He got joint first in the number of O's he got in his O.W.Ls and N.E.W.Ts.

He was kind, and smart, and caring, he'd signed his life away at age eighteen to fight for other people because he didn't want anyone to suffer if he could help it. He was one of the oldest surviving werewolves in England that had been bitten as a child. He was not a victim, but a survivor of what Greyback had done to him. 

Remus was storming towards Greyback before he even realised what he was doing. When he next came to his senses, he was standing with his wand outstretched, pointed right at the other man. There was an evil, devilish smirk on Greyback's face as he realised who was standing opposite him. 

"Remus Lupin, all grown up," He mused. "It's been a long time, old friend." 

"We aren't friends, Greyback." Remus snapped. "Hand the child over. I don't know who you snatched it from, or from where, or why you have it, but you made a very stupid mistake in coming here."

"You make any attempt on my life, Lupin, and the child dies with me. She belongs to one of my pack members who died in childbirth. I have no use for a baby, so I'm going down with everyone knowing who I am. So you're going to stand there, and you're going to watch as I cast the curse that kills you. You will die by my hand tonight, just like you should have the night I bit you." 

"I did nothing to you!" Remus exclaimed. "I had no control over my father's views on werewolves from thirty years ago. I was a child! I was innocent, and you bit me to punish him!" He stepped closer, now less than ten feet from Greyback and the child. "If you want one final stand against a Lupin, you've got it. But I won't let you hurt another child. Hand her over." 

Greyback laughed and raised his wand, aiming it directly at the child in his arms, and Remus froze, holding his breath. 

He wouldn't. He wouldn't do it, she's just a baby. 

"Remus, put your wand down," Molly's voice came from behind him. "He deserves what's coming to him, but this is what he wants. He's baiting you, he wants you to finish him off so that the Ministry won't."

"You don't understand, Molly!" Remus said. "He turned me two weeks before my fifth birthday. I had my first full moon a week later. He knew that the first one a werewolf faces is always the worst, that it could kill me because of how young I was. The night he bit me and my first transformation are my earliest memories. I had to listen to my parents sob on the other side of my bedroom door as I begged for them to help me. I didn't understand what was happening, I just knew that something hurt. I was just a child, and he took everything from me." 

"This is bigger than you now. Think. You taught people in this room, do you really want them to see you like this?" Arthur asked. Remus hesitated, his hand trembling. "This isn't you. You aren't a killer. Our Remus would let Greyback get justice from the Ministry. You weren't the only child bitten by him, but you're one of the few that survived into adulthood. He hates that. Let him rot in prison knowing you were the one who got away." 

"It's because of them that Sirius still wakes up screaming with nightmares of Azkaban even now. I wasted away in poverty while grieving for my only friends for thirteen years because they think I'm too dangerous to be employed anywhere, and they locked Sirius up for a crime he didn't commit. I was completely isolated for so long and it's all their fault. I'm sick of pretending like the Ministry dishes out proper justice. They've never helped me or the ones I love." Remus snapped. 

"Times are changing," Molly said. "You won't get to see the day that werewolves finally get the rights they deserve if you get sent down for murder." 

Remus' hand was still gripping his wand tightly, waiting for Greyback to do something that would warrant his death tonight. Greyback had ruined so many lives, had snatched away the hopes and dreams of so many. 

But now, he just stood smirking at Remus, holding his wand over this child's head, baiting Remus into being to blame for anything that happened to her. 

Remus' vision was almost completely clouded by rage and sadness and everything that he had felt powerless to change since he was a child. He hadn't understood it when he was first bitten, he'd been so confused and sad, he'd spent the moments leading up to the transformation listening to his parents sob outside his bedroom door and crying out for them as his body contorted and the pain started. 

And then his view was blocked by someone. Remus' eyes focused in on Sirius, who covered Remus' wand hand with his own. "Put the wand down, love. He's not worth it." Sirius said. 

There were a few poignant seconds where Remus stood stock still, mulling things over, letting his brain catch up with the rest of him. Just as Remus began to lower his wand, a burst of magic flashed from behind Greyback and he cried out. 

Sirius and Remus looked to him to see the werewolf's legs bound tightly by thick cords of rope. His face went red as he tried to strain and Remus realised that he'd most likely been hit by Immobulus as well. He was frozen solid, everything locked in place. 

Remus crossed the space between them, putting his wand away as he gently took the child, who was beginning to cry softly, from Greyback's arms. He adjusted his grip and smiled at her, bouncing her on his hip a little. He backed away and looked up to see Lydia walking towards him. Some of the members of her pack were levitating Greyback, sending light curses and hexes into his back to make him cry out as they removed him from of the Great Hall.

"Good to see you, Lydia," Remus said. 

"You too," Lydia replied. She peered at the child in Remus' arms. "The child isn't from one of his pack members. She's from Jael's. Greyback helped to kill them, he stole the child when they were all dead. He's been claiming her as his own. We think he wanted a child around for exactly the reason he used today, to use her for ransom in case things went awry. We realised when we found their camp, we could smell a child. We were on our way to let you know when we realised he'd beaten us to it. " 

"He'd really do such a thing? Use a child for ransom just so he could get away with one last murder?" Sirius asked, coming to stand beside Remus. People were hesitantly returning to their duties and their grief in the Hall now, but the noise had calmed again, making anything Remus, Sirius and Lydia said echo no matter how hard they tried to keep quiet. 

"I wouldn't put anything past Greyback." Lydia sighed. 

"Does she have a name?" Remus asked softly, observing the child. She was small, with bright green eyes and tufty black curls. She had stopped crying and was looking around the room in confusion. When her eyes finally reached Remus, the crease between her brows smoothed out and she gripped even more tightly onto his blazer. 

"None that we know of. She was a newborn, only a few hours old when the pack was killed, which means she's been with Greyback and his lot for the last year. We didn't even know one of Jael's pack members was pregnant." 

"What are we going to do with her?" Sirius asked.

Remus glanced at him and saw the longing in his eyes. He had desperately wanted his own family for the longest time. They had that with Harry now, but Remus knew that Sirius absolutely adored children. He had been so good with Harry as a baby, but the chance to adopt or foster a child with Remus had faded when he'd been sent to Azkaban.  

"None of us have the facilities to bring her up any better than Greyback's lot did, as much as we would love to keep her," Lydia replied. 

"We'll take her," Sirius said immediately. 

"Sirius-"

"We can do it, we can raise her. This is a fresh start, Remus, we can give her a good life-"

"You're forgetting one thing, Sirius." Remus interrupted. "I'm too much of a danger to raise a child. I know how much you want a child, Sirius, but who would she go to on the full moons? It's incredibly selfish of me, but I need you there. I can't do it on my own anymore. I've done it for too long, and I - I don't - I can't do it alone."

"We can take her." Molly chimed in. She and Arthur stepped into Remus' line of sight. Their tears were still marking their faces, not yet dried and they looked tired and shaken up, but determined, holding one another close. "We can take care of her on the full moon. It'll - it'll keep us busy, and stop us from dwelling too much, if only for one night, and we've raised enough of our own children to know what we're doing." 

"She likes you, Remus," Sirius said. Remus looked towards the little girl again and saw her resting her head on his shoulder, eyes drooping. He smiled, raising a hand slowly to brush some of her curls back. 

"Okay," He breathed. "Sirius and I will take her in." 

~

"I'm very pleased to announce that the Defense Against the Dark Arts position has been taken up once again by Professor RJ Lupin," McGonnagall announced.

She gestured to Remus and he stood, giving the students a small bow and a smile, the same as he had done four years ago. Claps sounded through the room, and Remus forced himself to not think of how lively it now looked, how different it was in comparison to four months ago, at what was now being called the Battle of Hogwarts. 

Many of those that had been seventh years a few months previously had decided to stay on an extra year to sit their N.E.W.Ts, which had been cancelled due to the cleanup efforts after the battle. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were among them, as were many of those in the D.A.

Remus had been pulled in every direction trying to help restore the castle to its former glory as well as adjusting to now having a child, who he and Sirius had named Aurelia. It had been Hope's middle name, and Remus hadn't felt like he could hear his mother's name about anyone other than her, but he'd wanted to pay respects to her somehow. 

Remus sat back down, still trying to imagine this Hall as it was now rather than a temporary resting place for the people who had died. He had recognised so many faces of students that he'd taught.

Little Colin Creevey with his camera, Lavender Brown, Fred Weasley - a particularly painful death to swallow - Giles Draycott, who Remus had sent to gather up younger years, who had died protecting a first-year from some airborne debris on the way to the Defense classroom ... all of their lives had been cut short, all of them had had their future snatched from them. 

Remus couldn't always get the sight of their bodies out of his mind, or the sight of his parents blank-faced and staring at each other in the position Sirius had been forced to leave them in so many hours before. Sirius had taken Aurelia from him and asked Lydia to take care of her while Remus grieved.

He had wept silently on Sirius' shoulder as he remembered the way they had parted. He had been so sure they would all survive, but he'd not even had the chance to say a proper goodbye. He'd been unable to think that it would be a goodbye, it would be a temporary separation until the fighting was done, and then they'd reunite and they'd be fine. 

Remus' eyes watered for a moment as he remembered that his parents weren't coming back, they were dead, he would never see their smiles again, they would never meet their grandchild, and he hastily blinked them away as a hand landed on Remus' arm now and he snapped back to reality, sending a forced smile in Sirius' direction. 

"You've gone pale, are you alright?" He asked quietly. Remus nodded, taking a sip of water and taking a deep breath. 

"I would also like to announce that Madame Pomfrey has taken on a new part-time healer to help her in the Hospital Wing," McGonnagall said once the clapping had calmed. "Best of luck to you, Sirius!" 

Sirius stood with tension in his shoulders and a hint of anxiety in his eyes as everyone's eyes landed on him. Polite clapping rang once again. He smiled and inclined his head towards the students before sitting back down. 

"Could you move any faster, Padfoot?" Remus teased. 

"I don't like the stares," Sirius said. 

"That's a first," Remus replied. 

"It's what happens when you get locked up in Azkaban. Everyone looks at you differently. It doesn't feel right." Sirius shrugged, a hint of bitterness in his voice that would likely always be there when he spoke of the thirteen years he'd spent in the island prison.

Remus nudged him gently, waiting for his eyes to land on Remus. 

When they did, he simply said, "Prove them wrong. Prove to them that you aren't the man they think you are. You'd be surprised at the impact those hours you spent helping Madame Pomfrey during the battle had." 

Something changed in the grey of Sirius' irises and a glimmer of hope appeared there. Sirius always had liked a challenge, and he had always been desperate to change people's minds when it came to what he stood for.

"Some of you may have noticed the return of last years' students. They are retaking their final year for the N.E.W.Ts they didn't have the chance to take due to extensive repairs throughout the castle," McGonnagall continued. "I encourage everyone to remain respectful towards students who faced the battle, and if any of you are struggling with the aftermath of what happened, I urge you to seek out help from Madame Pomfrey, Sirius, or your heads of Houses. Which brings me onto the subject of who will be taking over the role of head of Gryffindor, now that I have stepped up as Headmistress." 

"Who do you think it will be?" Remus whispered to Sirius.

"I have a pretty good guess," Sirius said with a smirk. 

"I haven't actually had the chance to ask yet, but I hope that Professor Lupin will take on the role, as a former Gryffindor himself and as an excellent example of what the head of House should be," McGonnagall said. 

Remus was stunned for a moment as eyes flicked to him once again. His brain completely blanked and he stared at McGonnagall when she turned to him. Sirius was watching him and trying to cover his smile. 

Why me? Do I not have enough on my plate with a child and lessons to teach, with the stares of people who know what I am, who know by now of the things that I did in the battle? It was only because of Kingsley becoming Minister and personally vouching for me that I avoided the scandal when I was reappointed as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Remus thought to himself.

"I think you've broken him," Sirius laughed, addressing McGonnagall. Remus' brain finally kicked back into gear and he gave McGonnagall a polite smile. 

"I - it would be an honour, Professor." He said. Relief flickered across the Headmistress' face and she turned back towards the students. Remus glared at Sirius. "You knew, didn't you?" He whispered. 

"I may have done." Sirius shrugged, smirking at his husband. 

"You little sneak. How long have you known and how did you keep it a secret? You've always been terrible at hiding things from me." 

"Minnie told me three days ago that she was planning on asking, but Aurelia has been ill and you've been taking care of her so she hasn't been able to ask yet. I've been helping Madame Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing in preparation for the new year, making it easier for me to avoid it. She needed to let the students know by this evening. We both knew you wouldn't say no." 

Remus smiled and shook his head. "You never fail to surprise me." 

~

Remus was jolted awake by a nightmare, a gasp tumbling from his lips. 

The sound of shushing and of knocking on his office door followed and Remus sat up. With the dim light of a small lantern hanging on the wall over the crib on the opposite side of the room, he could see Sirius gently bouncing Aurelia on his hip, singing softly and pressing kisses into her hair now and then.

Remus smiled and pushed the covers back, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

"Go back to sleep, love, it was only a nightmare," Sirius whispered, turning around. "I'll answer the door, I'm sure it's only Minerva." 

"Let me take Aurelia, then," Remus said. Sirius handed her over, giving her one final kiss before leaving, and Remus began lulling her to sleep. A few seconds later, the sound of Sirius and someone else's voice had stopped and Sirius' footsteps had returned to the room.

"Remus, love, there's someone here to see you," Sirius said. 

"At this time?" Remus frowned. It was almost midnight, according to the small clock above the dresser. 

"It seems like you and Aurelia aren't the only ones having nightmares tonight." 

As Remus walked into the small living room, Sirius by his side and Aurelia still resting on his hip, eyes slowly drooping and head resting on his shoulder, he recognised the person standing by the now-closed front door.

Olivia Draycott, Giles' twin sister, could barely look him in the eye. 

"I'm sorry to bother you, I know it's late, I - it's just, you said that your office door was always open if we needed it, and I had a nightmare about Giles again, they haven't stopped since it happened. I should've been with him, I went back to help a first-year that was trapped under debris and the next thing I knew, I was passing by his body and I couldn't stop. I had to make sure everyone had gotten to the Defense room safely-"

"Liv, it's fine, you don't have to apologise," Remus said, taking a step towards her. "Take a seat on the sofa. Would you like a cup of tea? I find a hot drink always calms me down after a nightmare." 

"Kettle's already on," Sirius said. Remus thanked him and adjusted his grip on Aurelia. She was now breathing heavily, quite comfortable in Remus' arms and most certainly asleep once again. 

"I'll be right back, I'm just going to put my daughter back to bed," Remus said to Olivia. "Sirius, would you make me a tea as well, please?"

"I might. If you play your cards right, of course," Sirius shrugged, smirking and crossing over to the kitchenette.

"I made you one this morning, it's only fair." Remus chuckled.

Sirius sighed dramatically and began getting mugs out of the cupboard. "The things I do for you." He teased.

Remus only smiled and took a few moments to put Aurelia back in her crib, making sure she was half-covered with a soft blanket that Molly had knitted for her before returning to the living room and taking a seat on the sofa, sitting with his legs drawn up to his chest and facing Olivia. He gestured with his hand and the fire came to life.  

Remus did his best to flatten any of his hair that was sticking up, summoning his glasses as well and blinking hard as his adjusted. 

"I didn't know you had a daughter, sir," Olivia said softly.

"Sirius and I adopted her. Her mum died during childbirth and she'd been raised by some pretty bad people. We don't know who her dad was. We didn't want her to go without a family." 

"Does Sirius stay here with you as well?" 

"I do," Sirius said, bringing two mugs of tea over. Remus and Olivia thanked him. "It'd be strange not sleeping beside my own husband."

"You're married?!" Olivia asked.

"It's why no one calls Sirius 'Professor' or 'sir'," Remus said. "He took my last name. It'd get very confusing if two Professor Lupins were roaming the castle."

"One Lupin is more than enough for poor McGonnagall. You were a nightmare at school." Sirius joked.

"One might chalk that up to the company I kept and couldn't shake. You and James were a terrible influence," Remus retorted. Sirius stuck his tongue out at Remus before addressing Olivia. 

"If we weren't members of staff, Professor McGonnagall probably wouldn't allow it, but I suppose we're a special circumstance. She knows we spent seven years in the same dormitory together and shared a flat after we left school. We're both very used to sleeping close by to each other." Sirius told Olivia.

"What Sirius means is that he's used to me being a walking, talking radiator, as well as the official nightmare preventer." Remus laughed, poking Sirius with a sock-covered toe as he sat down.

"We take it in turns!" Sirius protested. Remus laughed again and tilted his head, looking at Olivia once again.

"Sirius and I are well acquainted with nightmares. We've both been struggling with them since we were your age. Sometimes they go away after a while and rarely return. Other times, they come back regularly. But trust us when we say that they're not worth losing sleep over."

"Don't be silly and do what I did," Sirius added. "I tried to avoid sleeping as much as possible, take naps during the day. It really didn't do me any wonders."

"So what did you do to get rid of them?" Olivia asked. 

"We haven't gotten rid of them," Sirius admitted. "As Remus said, ours come back to haunt us sometimes. We're a lot more lined and worn than we should be for people who aren't even forty yet. In our experience, having someone you care about to confide in and some herbal remedies always work. Madame Pomfrey might have a potion to help." 

"I'll give you some herbal teabags. Aguamenti and a regular heating charm should work a treat to make a nice tea before bed." Remus added. 

"Do you want to talk about him?" Sirius asked. "I have a brother as well. Regulus. He's two years younger than me, and the most annoying prat I've ever known. When I thought he was dead, it was devastating. Even though he was faking it, he's locked away in Azkaban now, probably for life, and I can never get back those eighteen years without him. Talking about it helps." 

Olivia paused for a moment, staring into her cup of tea, and then looked up at them and began to talk. 

~

Remus and Sirius quickly became known as the most trustworthy and kind people to turn to. They taught their students how best to deal with their nightmares, gave them tea and chocolate after lessons or meals when they were overwhelmed or scared or just needed someone to talk to. 

They transformed their shared quarters to include a little extra space so that Aurelia could have her own privacy as she grew up. By the age of eight, she knew the castle like the back of her hand. Students that came and went grew to know the girl with inky black hair and bright green eyes, dimples and freckles, who looked so much like her dads despite the lack of biological connection.

They knew her as the one with a mischievous grin, who would sneak out of Professor Trelawny's classroom or Hagrid's hut and surprise the father that taught them how to defeat the bad things in the world during lessons, who had scars and sometimes relied on a cane to walk, but always had a smile and that same mischievous look to him. 

As the years went by, it was clear that their own nightmares had now begun to cease and the youthful parts of them that they thought they'd lost forever began to return. 

When Aurelia Lupin was finally eleven years old, she wasn't scared of how her parents would react if she was anything other than a Gryffindor, as they had been.

She beamed up at them and walked with confidence. These halls had always been her home, as had Grimmauld Place, the place that they all returned to as a family during the holidays and that Aurelia stayed at when the full moons came. There was no reason for her to be scared. 

"Aurelia Lupin!" McGonnagall called, forcing herself to remain neutral as Aurelia walked up the steps, her long black curls bouncing as she did so. McGonnagall had been made a godmother to Aurelia, and had loved her as much as she had loved Harry and James and Remus and Sirius.

Aurelia had sat, and the Sorting Hat had barely touched her head before it yelled out the word, "Ravenclaw!" She had beamed, looked back to her fathers, who were clapping resolutely, pride written into their features.

The child of a Black and a Lupin at Hogwarts, with Harry Potter as her godfather. How will McGonnagall cope? 

Long after Aurelia had left Hogwarts, she had married a Hufflepuff girl at the age of twenty-five. They had Lupins of their own, a girl called Marlene, after the woman her fathers had been friends with that had been killed long ago. She knew that they still missed their Marlene terribly.

Aurelia and her wife had also had a boy called Remus, after the father that she had watched brave hell every month for her entire life, that had braided her hair like he did for his husband and had played games with her when he was supposed to be recovering. 

And only after they had outlived many of their own Professors, Sirius and Remus Lupin died in their sleep in Grimmauld Place during the summer after their grandchildren had left Hogwarts, still curled around each other the way they had as teenagers, at the age of seventy-nine.

Remus' lycanthropy had been under control ever since the battle, made better as more advancements were made in the Wolfsbane potion that had helped to turn the tide of the war. 

The questions that had lingered in their minds after Sirius' escape from Azkaban, "Will there ever be an us again? Where do we go from here in getting back what has been lost?", had long since been answered. It had been in their nature to be brave and loyal.

They had fought their way through a life that had seemingly been scripted for them and had chosen each other again and again. And, though no one could see it, Remus and Sirius were reunited once again in death as they found themselves standing at Kings Cross Station in London, bright white and cleaner than they had ever seen it. 

They looked around, hands immediately finding each others' and realising that they looked as they had many years ago, on the night part of them had died with their closest friends. 

"Wotcher, Messers Moony and Padfoot," A familiar voice called. "When I used to tell you, 'Until morning', I didn't think you'd take so long. Bad form, lads, leaving your best mate to stew in boredom waiting for you to kick the bucket for almost sixty years."  

Remus and Sirius turned to see unruly black hair and circular glasses, long red hair and a familiar smile waiting for them with their hands outstretched, welcoming them towards the next world. 

So they stepped forward and took their friends' hands, becoming the quartet known as the Marauders once again.