Remus Lupin sat at the scrubbed hard oak table in his room at Grimmauld Place, late in the July afternoon. Burnished beams of sunlight were peeking through the thick paned windows and touching everywhere with a sheen of gold. The pages of the book Remus was reading were smeared orange from the blazing sunlight, and Remus looked up from their words to take in the sunbeams. He lifted his tumbler of whiskey to his lips and drank deeply from it, basking in the relaxing atmosphere, and trying to ignore the niggling feeling encircling his heart.
“Sickle for your thoughts?” asked Sirius. Remus snapped his head up quickly and looked sideways at his fellow Marauder, who presently had his feet on top of the table, legs crossed at the ankle. His soft black hair had fallen in front of his eyes like a curtain and he was sitting away from the sunlight in the room. Cast into half-shadows, Sirius looked more unearthly and mysterious than ever, and Remus felt a jolt upon seeing him. Sirius smiled knowingly, probably pleased with himself for surprising Remus.
“You startled me,” Remus exclaimed, “I thought you were gone.”
“I was, but I came back.
“I didn’t even hear you come in.”
“Ah,” said Sirius in a misty voice, “We have means to wander from one room to another without disturbing its occupants.” Remus gave him a questioning look. Sirius shrugged shortly, “The door was open. You were probably too engrossed in your book to notice.”
“What are you doing?” Remus asked casually.
“Just been watching you.”
“You must have very little for doing if you are watching me,” Remus laughed, putting down his book and turning in his seat to face Sirius.
“That’s Grimmauld Place for you, little for doing, especially if you are an non-entity like me,” Sirius scowled.
“Oh yeah? Name one useful thing I’ve done recently,” said Sirius hostilely, his feet coming down from the table and his hair flying back to reveal angry grey eyes.
“You … er,” Remus faltered, his words catching in his throat.
“Exactly,” Sirius frowned, his legs finding their way back up to the table.
Remus and Sirius sat in awkward silence for a few moments. Remus had never completely gotten used to his friend’s mood-swings, but he was usually a good match for them. Not today, however; not now, while he was feeling so weak.
“Sorry, Moony,” Sirius sighed, “I just wish I was useful to the Order.”
Remus contemplated Sirius - his hot head often got him into more trouble than he could handle, but there was no doubt he was a great fighter and an amazing Wizard. Certainly a shame at the very least that the Order never put him to good use.
“You know why, though, Sirius. You are a felon in the eyes of the law,” he finished trying to sound comforting, but his words came out more patronizing than he wished, “You should never have left Grimmauld place.”
“Oh, stop it, Remus, I should have done more,” Sirius shouted.
“You did all you could,” said Remus pointedly, in a tone that finished the conversation. Sirius crossed his arms across his chest and stared moodily out the window. The sun had left its high position in the sky and was starting the descent towards the horizon. Being July, the sun would not leave completely until late at night, and the thousand eyes of the night would not glisten from far away for quite some time yet. The full moon had just waned for another month and Remus looked forward to gazing up at the sky without the familiar feeling of fear smothering him. His transformations had been helped by the potion brewed for him by Snape, but they just weren’t the same as they used to be. He almost thought fondly of the days when he was in Hogwarts and had his friends by his side, helping him every month. Remus would have gladly traded the foul tasting potion and its benefits for the excruciating pain of normal transformations, if only he could have his friends back. Sirius seemed to be thinking along the same lines as Remus, and a shadow of a smile touched his face.
“Do you remember the time when James finally got Lily to go out with him, and he tried to use a spell on his hair to stop it sticking up all over the place?” Sirius snickered.
Remus chortled at the memory, “Didn’t help that you gave him the wrong spell, Sirius.”
“Not guilty!” Sirius laughed, throwing his hands up in a gesture of innocence.
“Oh, right,” Remus scoffed, “When James said ‘Tame my hair,’ you mistook him for ‘Take my hair,’ and he went completely bald?”
Sirius fell off his chair and shook with laughter, “And then …” he giggled, “his hair .. It wouldn’t grow back!”
Remus was wheezing slightly - James Potter with bad hair was a million times better than James Potter with no hair. “He had such a knobbly head!”
“So oddly shaped!” Sirius agreed, “Like a sack of walnuts!”
Sirius and Remus laughed harder than they did in years, tears forming in their eyes at the mental image they now had of a frantic James, hairless and woebegone, uttering curses at his best friends while scouring ‘Witch Weekly’ for hair spells.
“And Lily!” Remus roared, while Sirius burst out in a fresh fit of laughter, “The look on her face.”
“What did you do, you rotten tyrants!” said Sirius, adopting a high-pitched squeaky voice. “She always had a penchant for the dramatic, that girl.”
“Pity she fixed him, I would have loved to paraded him around school the next day; the reactions would have been priceless,” said Remus, an evil smile playing on his lips.
“Heck, at least as far as the Gryffindor Common Room,” Sirius nodded. Remus stood up, still smiling at the memories and opened his wardrobe. On the floor there was a box, and in it a lot of pictures from their days at Hogwarts. He lifted the box and placed it on the desk, the corner of his lip lifted upwards in a wicked grin.
“Ah, but at least we have pictures,” Remus whispered sneakily. Sirius let out a bark of laughter as Remus handed him a picture of a frantic looking James who was trying desperately to cover his head in a pillowslip to avoid having his picture taken, but the photographic forms of Sirius, Remus and Peter were winning the battle and James relented, scowling heavily.
“That’s the only one I got of him bald,” Remus sighed disappointedly, flicking through the rest.
“Well, he still had a bald patch when we were done at least,” Sirius smirked.
“Like you could ever notice, with the amount of hair he had. Bit unlike now, I’m the one with thinning hair,” said Remus.
“Perhaps if you stopped pulling it out once a month …” Sirius suggested, but at that moment, Hermione bustled into the room and cut Sirius off.
“Harry? Are you in here?” she exclaimed, but glancing around the room, added, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“Not at all,” Remus smiled and Sirius nodded. Sirius took to wandering around the room again and stopped behind Hermione where she couldn’t see him, and sat down on a high-stool.
“I was just looking for Harry,” Hermione voiced quietly. Harry and Remus weren’t on the best of terms right now - Remus tried to deny it, but he couldn’t help but be disappointed with Harry’s behaviour of late. Harry, in turn, was avoiding Remus, too ashamed to meet his gaze. Harry’s rash temper often led him to make bad decisions, and he had been moping around Grimmauld since his arrival, snapping at everyone. Sirius was acting rather peculiarly behind Hermione, and had placed his hands above Hermione’s head and held them like she was a marionette.
“I haven’t seen him,” Remus answered, his lips drawing upwards once more in curiosity as to what his friend was doing.
“Oh,” Hermione sighed, downheartedly, “I’ve just been searching everywhere for him,” Remus’s eyes widened and he had to bite his lip to stop from smiling - Sirius was now moving his hands and wherever he moved them, Hermione moved her own, just like she was a puppet. At the moment, she had her hand over her brow and was swaying from side to side as though a sailor looking out to sea, “I’ve looked high,” her hands pointed to the ceiling, “and low,” her body bent over double, “and he isn’t anywhere to be found!” she shrugged her shoulders dramatically.
Remus couldn’t help himself and a choked laugh escaped from his lips. Hermione followed Remus’s line of vision and immediately turned around, but Sirius had dropped his hands and had an innocently inquisitive look on his face, assuming a look that he didn’t know what Remus was laughing at either. Hermione turned around again, her face etched with polite questioning.
“If I see him, I’ll let you know,” Remus smiled in what he hoped was less of a humorous expression and more of a caring one. Hermione seemed convinced and excused herself from the room. Sirius, wanting to keep the marionette joke going for all it was worth, pretended the strings were still attached to Hermione and fell off the chair. On her way to the door, she stopped and turned around.
“Mrs Weasley wanted to check - you will be there, tonight, wont you?”
Remus’s smiled vanished; the Order had been pestering him to attend this function for the past few weeks. He had fully intended on going, but after the full moon, he was just exhausted. Sirius picked himself up off the floor and smiled at Hermione, but obviously his childish actions weren’t appreciated. He glanced at Remus for support, but saw his face and read his expression.
“Oh go on, we will. Might be fun!”
Remus gave him a contemptuous look; nothing Order-related was fun, and this meeting would be no better. However, Hermione was still lingering patiently in the doorway, and Sirius had that old twinkle in his eye that meant he knew something that Remus didn’t.
“I’ll be right there. Don’t worry,” Remus said to Hermione, who smiled comfortingly and left.
“Mr Black, do you know something I don’t know?”
“I know a lot of things that you don’t, dear friend,” Sirius winked, but his face fell almost instantly from his trademark smile to grave seriousness, “But you have to forgive him, Remus.”
Remus stopped shuffling through the photos and stared directly ahead, his glance fixed on nothing in particular. Sirius had no doubt seen Remus’s momentary change in expression when the topic of Harry came up - Sirius could always read him like a book. Remus didn’t want to be mad at Harry, but the blame had to rest with someone, and Harry’s temper had caused a lot of problems. And of course, Sirius was going to stand up for his Godson.
“It’s not his fault,” Sirius stated quietly, coming over to sit opposite his friend.
“He should learn to control his emotions, we aren’t always going to be here to pick up the pieces. One day he is going to have to grow up,” Remus admonished gently.
“Right now, he is still a child. He is only learning the ropes,” Sirius said pointedly.
“Yes, well, we aren’t children anymore, Sirius,” Remus sighed exasperatingly, “And he isn’t James.”
Sirius looked taken aback, but recognition flickered in his eyes.
“We should try and find him - talk to him - before we go downstairs,” Sirius suggested, “It would seem I have something I need to apologize for, too.”
The sun was making its final descent, tracing the walls of Grimmauld with ochre, giving it a feeling of true richness, one that Sirius scoffed at. Remus changed his clothes before he left his room - the meeting tonight was a formal one, so he put on his best robes and wore a suit with a shirt and tie underneath. It really wasn’t too hard to find Harry, if you knew what you were looking for. Sirius and Remus made their way up to Buckbeak’s room, bowed lowly to the Hippogriff and turned on the lights.
The room was seemingly empty, but the Marauders knew from experience that while Harry may not be James, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
“Harry, I know you’re here,” Remus smiled, “please come out and talk.”
After a few moments, Remus was starting to feel rather foolish. Sirius sat himself on the windowsill and said, “Maybe he isn’t here after all?”
“Harry?” Remus tried again, but only emptiness answered him. Defeated, he turned to leave, but stopped with his hand on the doorknob.
“Wait,” Harry croaked, whipping off the invisibility cloak and revealing himself. He was standing in the corner of the room and he looked wretched. He was scratching his neck in a mark of unease, his face pulled into a sorrowful frown. Sirius felt his heart wrench at the sight of him, and he and Remus walked over to where he stood.
“Harry …” Sirius whispered, but words failed him.
“Are you all right?” Remus asked tenderly. He placed a supportive arm on Harry’s shoulder and tried to look him in the eye, but he deliberately averted his gaze.
“It’s just … everything … it’s so difficult,” Harry stammered. He had never been adept at portraying his emotions, but he was certain that Remus knew what he meant.
“It’s all right, Harry. And for what it’s worth, I don’t blame you,” Remus smiled. “Lord knows you have more things to worry about than what an old fool like me thinks, but its true.” Harry finally met his glance and allowed himself a watery smile, wiping his eyes on the back of his sleeve.
“Thank you, Professor,” Harry murmured.
“Professor?” Sirius laughed lightly.
“I’m not your Professor anymore, Harry. For the last time - call me Remus,” Remus chuckled. Harry joined in on the laughter while Sirius addressed him earnestly.
“I’m sorry for making you live up to James,” Sirius declared, reaching out to put a hand on Harry’s shoulder, but stopping himself.
“No one expects you to be your father, Harry,” Remus added, “We’ll settle for having you look just like him.”
“Except for my eyes, of course.”
“Lily’s eyes,” Sirius and Remus chorused, laughing slightly. Remus patted Harry on the back.
“Come on, you shouldn’t be moping in here on your own. Hermione has been looking high and low for you,” Remus beamed, mimicking her overdramatic gestures. Sirius laughed while Harry looked politely amused, but Remus brushed him off. The three of them left the room, but parted ways on the stairs so Harry could leave his invisibility cloak back into his room.
“Oh,” Harry turned around to face Sirius and Remus, “er, thanks.”
“Don’t mention it,” said Sirius as Remus smiled fondly at Harry. They made their way downstairs.
“So how come you haven’t gotten all dressed up?” Remus enquired, taking in Sirius’s casual Muggle clothes, his faded jeans and white t-shirt. Sirius never made much of an effort for the Order, since they didn’t make an effort for him (in Sirius’s opinion) so his appearance should hardly have come as much of a shock to Remus.
“I am dressed up. Do you see any holes in these pants?”
“Exactly,” they had reached the door leading to the Order Meeting, and Remus had paused when Sirius placed his hand against his chest, making a plea for his attention.
“There is one more thing you have to do for me,” Sirius said gravely.
“You can’t keep me from getting drunk,” Remus joked in an effort to get a smile out of Sirius, but this was no joking matter.
“You have to forgive yourself for what happened, too.”
“You can be so annoying sometimes, Sirius. Stop with the melodrama.”
“It wasn’t your fault, no more than it was Harry’s. No one blames you, either.”
Remus laughed hollowly at Sirius’s clichéd words and tried to loosen his friend’s iron grip on his robes.
“I don’t blame you,” Sirius whispered.
Remus stopped struggling against Sirius’s grip on him and let out an anguished sob. The familiar pain mercilessly squeezing his heart was back in full force, threatening to wrench itself free from his chest with every tortured beat. Remus looked imploringly into Sirius’s face, once again stopped breathless by his otherworldly nature, and all he could manage was a strangled “Yeah.”
“All right, then. I’m proud of you.”
Regaining himself, Remus straightened the front of his robes and tried to lighten the atmosphere once more.
“So, aren’t you going to tell a joke?”
“A joke about what?” Harry’s voice came from behind him. He had left his invisibility cloak upstairs, and was now wearing a more formal set of robes. Remus turned to face him and smiled.
“Oh, you know, ‘How many Potions Professors does it take to screw in a light bulb,’ that sort of thing. Anything to get old Snivellus riled up.”
Harry gave Remus a concerned look, his eyes darting from the door which they stood in front of, to his father’s old friend, Remus, who at the moment looked rather tattered and grey in a way that had nothing to do with the full moon.
“Where do you think we are?” Harry asked gently, stepping forward to lead Remus through the door.
Remus looked around to gain support from Sirius, but he was nowhere to be found. Mildly confused, Remus allowed himself to be led inside the room by Harry. Familiar faces greeted him sadly, many tearstained and distressed looking, yet he saw them without looking, his eyes fixed upon something else. Remus felt an odd lump form in his throat, his heart fell and its slow beating rocked his chest, and instantly knew the reason why.
Standing on top of the living room table was a large plaque detailing the reason for the Order meeting. It read:
Sirius Phineas Black
1960 - 1995
A prisoner on Earth
Grant him everlasting freedom in Heaven
May He Rest In Peace
A/N: This fic is based loosely on Series 3, Episode 14 of Scrubs, entitled "My Screw Up," believe it or not. (",)
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