“We’ve been out here for hours.”
“One hour,” Remus corrected patiently.
“Here’s what I say,” Emmeline Vance proposed, “we do one last lap around the corridor then head to the kitchens for a nightcap. No one has to know the difference.”
“I’m owed many favors.”
Remus couldn’t help but laugh. Emmeline, a fellow Gryffindor, was a fifth-year Beater with the confidence to match. Professor McGonagall made her a prefect for her fairness, bravery, and overall good-nature. Remus liked her a great deal but she still had a lot to learn.
“Be that as it may,” he began mildly, “We need to make sure all the stragglers make it to their dorms without any trouble. Especially the little ones. You might remember how easy it was to get lost those first few years? In times like these, we wouldn’t want any of them to run into...” Remus didn’t finish his sentence but he didn’t need to. Emmeline was a smart girl. She listened to the worried whispers that floated throughout every corner of the wizarding world.
“As per usual,” she sighed, “you are right.”
“What’s Lupin right about this time?” The deep voice seemed to appear out of nowhere and both Remus and Emmeline whirled around, wands at the ready.
Before them stood the one and only Sirius Black. His brand new silk robes were tailored to fit his tall, muscular frame perfectly. He might have been intimidating with his icy grey eyes and perfectly carved jawline if his lips weren’t pulled into a handsome grin pointed directly at Remus. “Prefect Lupin. Prefect Vance. Always a pleasure.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “It’s an hour past curfew, Black. Please return to your dorm or we’re going to have to write you up.”
“Does that mean detention?” Sirius asked cheerfully, “I’d happily spend detention with you, Prefect Lupin.”
“You heard him,” Emmeline replied before Remus had the chance. “Get back to the dungeons or we’ll deduct points.” She glanced back to Remus and whispered, “We can deduct points, right?”
“Yes,” Remus whispered back.
Sirius raised his hands in mock surrender. “I should have known I wouldn’t be a match for such a dynamic duo. I shall humbly retreat.” With one last wink in Remus’ direction, he turned on his expensive leather shoes and disappeared down the corridor.
After waiting a few extra seconds, Emmeline proudly declared, “I’m good at this prefect thing.”
Remus nodded. “He was trembling.”
“Let them hate so long as they fear,” Emmeline said solemnly. They were silent for a few more minutes before she tentatively spoke again. “How do you not melt when he talks to you like that?”
A soft laugh escaped Remus’ mouth of its own volition. He contemplated his words before answering. “I guess because I know it’s for show.”
“I don’t know,” Emmeline hummed. “He looks at you like he wants to eat you.”
“He’s gorgeous for a Slytherin.”
“Maybe you should ask him out,” Remus offered.
She wrinkled her nose in distaste. “Brooding bastard isn’t my type. Besides, we all know he’s too busy intentionally losing house points to pay attention to us mere mortals.”
Remus snorted, “Good observation.”
Emmeline dropped her voice to a whisper. “I heard he was disowned by his family this summer and—Lupin? What’s wrong?”
Remus had abruptly halted without realizing it. He cleared his dry throat and tried to even out his breathing. “Nothing. It’s just...on second thought, there’s no harm in grabbing a cup of hot chocolate to take on our rounds, right?”
Emmeline vibrated with excitement. “Lead the way,” she said, forgetting about Sirius Black entirely.
After another hour of patrolling they returned to Gryffindor tower. They said their goodbyes and Remus busied himself in the common room until Emmeline safely made it up to her dorm. As soon as the door shut behind her, he climbed back out of the portrait hole and swiftly strode down the familiar path to the seventh floor. The door to the Room of Requirement appeared instantly, and when Remus entered, Sirius was relaxed in what Remus knew to be an extra soft armchair.
“Oh no,” Sirius greeted dryly, “Are you going to dock points? I got lost, Prefect Lupin. I swear. The staircase led to nowhere and the floor turned into the ceiling and I’m almost positive Dumbledore moved the dungeons.”
“Shut up,” Remus replied, standing still in the doorway.
Sirius eyed Remus for a long moment before patting his lap hopefully. That was all Remus needed to cross the room and sink into Sirius’ warm embrace. As he burrowed his face into the crook of Sirius’ neck, he felt Sirius press a soft kiss into his hair.
“I’ve been fantasizing about this exact moment since June,” Sirius said contentedly.
“I thought about you every minute,” Remus mumbled. “I was so tempted to owl you, but…”
“It would have been impossible,” Sirius agreed regretfully. “They monitored my mail all summer.”
“But you still managed to owl me,” Remus countered. He pulled away from the embrace and reached under the collar of his robes to pull out the locket that was delivered to him in early July. It was silver with a coiled snake delicately carved onto the face. When it opened, Sirius’ constellation appeared in a soft haze of green.
“I shouldn’t have,” Sirius sighed, fingering the locket, “but I had this overwhelming fear that some muggle in Cardiff would snatch you right out from under me.”
“Never,” Remus declared firmly. Then, clearing his throat, he added, “Besides, even muggles know to stay away from sickly boys covered in scars.”
“You say that as if you don’t have the face of a Botticelli angel,” Sirius scoffed. “But on the subject of scars, how were your transformations?”
Remus ran a thumb over Sirius’ high cheekbone. “Fine.”
“I can always tell when you’re lying,” Sirius frowned.
“I bit one of my legs pretty good in August,” Remus sighed, “My parents had to take me to St. Mungos. The healers stopped the blood pretty quickly but left behind a clumsy knot of stitches.”
Sirius’ arms tightened around Remus’ waist. “Can Pomfrey do anything?”
“I’ll ask,” Remus responded dutifully, knowing that was what Sirius wanted to hear. He decided to change the subject. “You weren’t at the feast.”
Sirius tensed and focused his eyes just over Remus’ shoulder. “I couldn’t stand those fuckers for another minute. You should have heard the things they were saying on the train. Vile things. They talked about the attacks like they were proud.”
Fear weighed heavy in Remus’ belly but he forced himself to ignore it. “Is that what you were doing earlier? Planning retribution?”
Sirius’ face broke out into a devilish grin. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. What you don’t know you can’t hold yourself accountable for later.”
“Who would have thought that I, an innocent werewolf who’s never done anything wrong ever, would get tangled up with such a delinquent?”
“I ask myself that very question every day,” Sirius replied lightly.
Remus didn’t like the frown lines that suddenly appeared around the boy’s full lips so he leaned forward and tried to kiss them away. “I love you.”
“I love you more than anything.”
Remus smiled. “This time last year, I would have guessed you were more likely to cure Lycanthropy than say those words to me.”
“I intend to do both,” Sirius said fiercely.
“You’re a big softy.”
“Not everyone would agree with that...”
Remus took a deep breath. “There’s a rumor going around that you were disowned this summer. Care to elaborate?”
“It’s a lie,” Sirius exhaled slowly, “but not by much.”
The air became heavy with Sirius’ silence. Eventually, he said, “Uncle Alphard died. Dragon Pox.”
“I’m so sorry, Sirius. I—”
“He left me everything," Sirius continued, "His gold. His houses. Everything.”
“The family is furious. Not about the money—but because they know why he left it to me. They tried to get the will overturned, but not even Walburga Black can bully a goblin into breaking a blood-sealed contract.”
“So where does that leave you?” Remus asked, heart racing.
“I’m not going back. They don’t know it yet. Regulus doesn’t know it yet. But I’m never going back.”
Tingles shot from Remus’ stomach all the way through to his fingertips. “So then we can—”
Remus tried to wiggle off of Sirius’ lap but Sirius wouldn’t let him. Glaring into Sirius’ cloudy eyes, he huffed, “You said—”
“I said when it's safe we can tell people,” Sirius replied, eyes pleading. “It’s not safe until I can protect you every second of the day. I can’t do that here.”
“No one can protect anyone every second of the day,” Remus scowled. “And do you really think I can’t take Lestrange? Or Crabbe or any of those guys? No offense, but I go through worse than hexes on a monthly basis.”
“It’s not just them,” Sirius argued. “Walburga will find out your secret and have you thrown out of school. She will make sure everyone knows about you just to punish me. I will not let that happen.”
It was hard to hear but it was the truth, so Remus let out one last grumble and relaxed back into Sirius’ hold.
“Ten months,” Sirius murmured into Remus’ hair. “In a measly ten months we’re going to graduate and we’re going to move somewhere my family can’t touch us.”
Remus sighed, “I’m proud of you, you know.”
“I owe everything to you.”
Remus snorted, “No—”
“You make me braver. My lion.”
“Did I say how much I love you?”
“Show me,” Sirius grinned, and they didn’t do much talking after that.