Chapter 1 : Hot tramp, I love you so!
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There was a pause in which Sirius looked out of the fire at Harry, a crease between his sunken eyes.
”You’re less like your father than I thought,” he said finally, a definite coolness in his voice. “The risk would have been what made it fun for James.”
Remus knocked gently on the door to Buckbeak's room before opening it slowly (because one should never make sudden moves around a hippogriff, no matter how tame!)
He edged into the room cautiously, but no amount of caution could have prepared him for the scene unfolding before him.
Sirius was facing the other way, “feeding” his feathered friend and wearing the muggle headphones Tonks had given him for his birthday. He was doing an odd sort of dance, which was really more of an up and down shimmy, complete with a bloody ferret swinging lifelessly from each hand. He was humming loudly, and every now and then he attempted to sing along. Buckbeak was watching him bemusedly with orange eyes and a slightly cocked head.
“Rebel rebel, you’ve torn your dress!”
“Rebel rebel, your face is a mess!” Sirius shook a ferret at Buckbeak, but the hippogriff was too entranced by this performance to lift so much as a talon.
“Sirius!” Remus called, a bit louder this time.
“Rebel rebel, how could they know?” He was really getting into his dancing by now.
“SIRIUS!” Remus yelled, at the exact moment that Sirius decided to add a twirl to his little dance. He spun around, while singing, “Hot tramp, I love you so!” before spotting Remus.
“AAAAAH!” he let out a loud bark of surprise and jumped about a foot, dropping the ferrets. Buckbeak seemed to stir from his trance, and quickly snatched up his dinner.
Sirius ripped off the headphones.
“Hot tramp, you say?” Remus smirked.
“How long have you been standing there!?”
“Just caught the chorus, thankfully. Glad to see you’ve still got the moves, Padfoot.” He chuckled.
Not the type to become easily embarrassed, Sirius laughed along. He pulled the portable muggle cd player from his pocket and squinted at it.
“I can’t remember how to pause it,” he grinned sheepishly, pushing all of the buttons at random until he reached the desired effect.
“Tonks’ gift is brilliant! I love these little records, too- they’re so shiny!” he exclaimed. Then his face became nostalgic, almost sad, and he added, "but sometimes, Moony, it seems like everything’s changed since I went away.”
Remus nodded solemnly.
“Erm, Sirius, I have something else for you, besides the cds. I didn’t want to give it to you at dinner, in front of everyone else,” he said, reaching into his pocket and withdrawing a small, square mirror.
Sirius gasped, immediately recognising the object. He reached forward and took it into his hand, smearing ferret blood across the glass.
“How did you find it?” he whispered.
“It was among the things recovered from the... er, the cottage. Most of it I’ve been saving for Harry, but when I came across this I thought you should have it. Do you still have the matching one?”
“I’ve been carrying it with me for fourteen years.” He thrust his free hand into his pocket and pulled out a second, identical mirror. He stared down at them for a few minutes, a mirror in each bloody hand, before looking up at Remus, eyes glistening.
“This is-” he croaked. He put his arms around his friend and pulled him into a desperate hug, before letting it all out. “I- I called for him after,” he sputtered between quivering sobs, “but he never answered.”
His back rose and fell rythmically, and Remus could feel a wet spot growing on his collar that was either tears or bogies, but he didn’t mind. He knew it had probably been ages since Sirius had a good cry, so he patted his back consolingly.
When he had exhausted his tears, Sirius pulled back and looked Remus over with red eyes. Remus’ shoulder was soaked through, and there were bloody handprints on his jumper.
“You’re a mess,” he muttered guiltily. “Here you do something nice for me and I go and ruin your favourite jumper.”
Remus assessed the damage, and waved a hand dismissively.
“No bother- you’ve always said this jumper makes me look like a berk anyway. Consider it a third birthday gift that I can bin it on your behalf.” He gave a smile, and Sirius returned it weakly before wiping the glass on his sleeve and handing it back to Remus.
“Here, go out to the hallway. Let’s see if they still work!” His voice sounded reinvigorated with mischief. Remus complied, and once outside the door, he felt the mirror vibrate in his hand and grow warm. He looked into it, and saw Sirius’ grinning face staring back at him.
“Brilliant!” Sirius laughed, punching a fist into the air triumphantly. “Bloody fantastic! I can use it to harass you when you’re out of the house and beg you to bring back treats for me!”
Remus grinned. “Uh-oh, I’ve created a snack monster.”
Remus Lupin strolled down Diagon Alley on his way to meet with Erastus Croaker. It was almost half nine, and most of the shops were closed, but a few witches and wizards ambled down the alley nonetheless. He still had another ten minutes to spare before he was due to join the Unspeakable, along with Nymphadora Tonks and Emmaline Vance, in the Hog’s Head. Remus would have preferred to spend his Sunday night in, but unfortunately, Dumbledore had asked him, as a special favour, to meet with Croaker, and Order business always superseded personal luxuries. He chanced a glance up at the half moon, ominous in the sky, and wondered if Nymphadora might be early as well, thinking they might get a pint in before Croaker arrived and they had to get down to business.
Suddenly, he felt something warm and quivering in the pocket of his robe. He ducked into a narrow close and pulled out the mirror.
“What is it?” he whispered.
“I’ve just received an owl from Harry. I need to talk to him. Reckon the floos in Gryffindor tower are still open?”
“Siri-,” he began, looking around to make sure he was alone, “Padfoot, I don’t think that’s a very good idea.” Sirius scoffed.
“Well, frankly, Moony, I don’t give a damn. Harry needs me and so he shall have me.” He slammed his mirror shut, and Remus’ own face floated back into the mirror, looking incredulous.
The stupid git, he thought.
After an labourous internal struggle in which he considered going back to Grimmauld Place and subsequently talked himself out of it no less than ten times, Remus arrived at the Hog’s Head with two minutes to spare, hoping against hope for a short meeting.
Entering the Hog’s Head, Remus noticed a few wandering eyes turn in his direction. Certainly he didn’t stand out in his shabby clothes- this was the Hog’s Head after all! He automatically scanned the pub for a bright pink head of hair before remembering Tonks would have come in disguise. He beelined for the barman instead.
The tall, wispy Aberforth nodded knowingly and led him to the back of the bar and up a narrow staircase. Once in the private room, Remus recognised Emmaline at once. She was wearing her favourite green shawl and talking in a low voice to a small, squat man with a wide, peaky face.
“Lupin! Just in time,” the man nodded appreciatively, his thinning combover flapping slightly as he did so. Remus slid into the chair across from Nymphadora, who currently looked like a thirty-something, unremarkable blonde with a pouting mouth. Her eyes, currently a dark brown, held that familiar, spritely bit of Tonks that Remus recognised straightaway, and she winked a greeting at him.
“This is a nice one,” he assessed Croaker.
“Aye, you like it? It’s an elderly cousin of me mother’s, currently in a private ward of St. Mungo’s,” he patted his jowly face and grinned. He was, of course, referring to his polyjuice disguise. Unspeakables could hardly be seen chatting in public with members of the Order at a time like this. Aberforth returned with a pint of Scotch ale for Remus, and then the four of them set to work discussing affairs at the Ministry.
Throughout the meeting, Remus couldn’t help being on edge. What if Sirius was caught? Why did he insist on being so damned reckless? It’s not as if he couldn’t relay the message through an Order member. It was maddening. Remus knew Sirius could get a bit stir crazy in the house, but this was too risky!
“Uh huh, uh huh,” he nodded absently to Croaker, trying his best to put Padfoot out of his mind and complete his task. Order business! Order business! Order business! he thought, trying his best to summon his powers of concentration for the matter at hand.
Nymphadora was looking across the table at him curiously. She raised an eyebrow, and he gave a small smile to quell her worry. She must have assumed he was just bored, because she let her mouth droop a bit and crossed her eyes slightly, giving her the look of a dribbling waster. Remus suppressed a grin.
“What are your thoughts, Miss Tonks,” Croaker asked suddenly, and she straightened up immediately, blushing slightly, before answering.
“I think it’s a fine idea, Erastus, but we’ve got to consider the possibility of someone using Legilimancy.” Croaker nodded sagely, and took a swig of mead. Nymphadora took a split second to glance over at Remus with a guilty look on her face, and Remus raised his eyebrows, smiling slightly in praise of her quick recovery. Emmaline was gracious enough to pretend she hadn’t seen anything, and quickly moved the conversation on to Severus Snape, who had been teaching her Occlumency over the summer.
As soon as he was able, Remus, along with Tonks, slipped out the back door of the pub. She pouted slightly as he fished around in the pockets of his robe anxiously.
“What time is it?” he asked gruffly.
“Nearly midnight. I don’t see why we had to leave so suddenly! We couldn’t stay for just one drink?” She screwed up her face, and for a moment Remus thought he was in for a berating, but instead her appearance returned to normal. Well, normal for Tonks, anyway. He opened the mirror and hissed, “Padfoot!”
“We’ve got to get to headquarters, Sirius is being an idiot,” he muttered.
“So, what else is new?” she smirked, but her face fell at his expression. “Is he in trouble?”
“I hope not.” Remus tried to sound reassuring, and failed miserably. Lucky for him, at that moment he heard, “Don’t bother, Moony, I’m home safe.” He looked into the mirror, where Sirius was looking a bit sour, but very much alive and not in ministry custody. Remus breathed a sigh of relief.
“We’re coming over anyway,” he insisted.
“Fine. It’s about time, after leaving me alone all weekend!” Sirius started to close his mirror, but then added, “bring me an Irn-Bru when you come!” and then he was gone.
Remus and Tonks hurried off down Diagon Alley towards muggle London, because even though Sirius could be a right prat sometimes, Remus still felt guilty denying him fizzy drinks when he was cooped up in the house like that.
Sirius slumped in the chair next to the fire, scowling at the wall. Molly might have made a lot of changes to the place in the last few months, but nothing could wash away the memories from his childhood. He remembered the last time he had used the floo in this room, just before leaving home. He had used it to talk to Remus, and his mother had just about flipped her lid.
Sodding bigot, he fumed.
He glanced up at the mantle, which at one point had held a silver-framed photograph of Bellatrix, Narcissa, and Regulus at Narcissa’s wedding. Narcissa’s image had pouted angrily when he removed it, and he smiled to himself, remembering how Bellatrix had pointed at him and silently cursed him through the photograph as he lit the corner of it on fire. In its place, he had propped up an unframed snapshot of himself and James, from sometime around sixth year, making cheeky faces at the camera. He ran a thumb absently over the mirror, and remembered back to the summer before fifth year, when James had given it to him.
Lying on his stomach and staring bleary-eyed down at his wearworn copy of The Art of the Animagus, Sirius almost didn’t notice the faint tapping on his window. When it became louder, he jerked his head up and happily noticed his first visitor in two days, James’ owl Basil. He scrambled over to open the window, and Basil hopped across the threshold.
“Heya, Bas,” Sirius smiled, untying the small parcel from Basil's leg, “What’ve you got for me today? Is it a trick?” He looked the bird in the eyes. “Is it a dirty nasty trick from James? Are my eyebrows going to turn green again?”
Basil cocked his head. Sirius cocked his head, too. Basil ruffled his feathers indignantly and flew up to the top of the wardrobe, clipping Sirius on the head with his wing as he did so. Clearly he didn’t like to be mocked.
Sirius laughed and tore open his post. A small compact fell into his hand. It didn’t look very special, just a square little thing with no distinguishable markings. It didn’t even look new. He opened it and surveyed his reflection. His eyebrows, as well as the rest of him, appeared perfectly normal. Why on earth would James send this to him? It wasn’t even funny!
“James Potter, you’re an idiot,” he announced to the room.
All of a sudden, the mirror went cloudy, and Sirius’ reflection morphed into that of his best friend.
“You were saying?” James asked, eyebrows raised. Sirius shrieked and dropped the mirror.
“Bloody hell, that is funny!” He cackled, recovering from the scare and picking up the mirror. “Wonder how he got it to do that?” he mused out loud. James-in-the-mirror rolled his eyes.
“It’s me, Padfoot! Actually me! These are 2-way mirrors! My dad bought them off a bloke in Sardinia. They use them, down there, instead of the floo, because it’s too hot for fireplaces!” Sirius’ face broke into a wide grin.
“These are brilliant!” he beamed. “Now I don’t have to ask my mother to use the floo! And we can use them in detention!”
“Exactly,” James winked.
Sirius glanced up at the picture, wherein the sixteen year-old James was flashing the sixteen year-old version of himself a rude gesture and laughing about it. He remembered his harsh words to Harry minutes before and felt awash in guilt. Harry was right to show concern for his wellbeing, and he had done nothing but get short with him. He sighed loudly, watching James’ photograph and noting the resemblance between father and son. It wasn’t as if he meant to treat Harry like James- oh no, he quite understood the difference between them. He just became angry sometimes that his friends had been taken from him so cruelly.
Suddenly, he got an idea. He hoped Moony wouldn’t mind, but he had a feeling it wouldn’t be a problem; after tonight’s episode Remus would probably find it a much better use of the mirrors. With perfect timing, the mirror grew warm in his hand, and he flipped it open to see Moony’s face, along with Tonks, who was peeking over his shoulder.
“We’re downstairs! Come let us in!” she grinned.
Once in the hall, Tonks looked from a somber Sirius to a reluctant Remus before snatching the Irn-Bru from the latter and announcing, in a loud whisper, “I’ll go make the drinks!”
She hurried off down the stairs to the kitchen, no doubt hoping to escape her aunt’s portrait without tripping over anything. Sirius ushered Remus into a small side room.
“Look, Moony,” he started, “you were right. I shouldn’t have used the floo.”
Remus, who had been opening his mouth to argue, closed it. He wasn’t used to Sirius apologising.
“Sometimes I think this house makes me a bit mad,” he continued, gesturing around to the room in which they currently stood, which was dimly lit with serpent-shaped, cobwebby sconces, and filled with the overflow of books from the library. “I’ve been thinking, if you don’t mind, perhaps I could give the second mirror to Harry at Christmas? It’d be a better way to keep in touch, I think,” he glanced up nervously into Remus’ light brown eyes.
“I think that’s a fine idea,” Remus smiled compassionately, pulling out his mirror and handing it to Sirius. He surveyed the room, and his eyes fell on a small portrait of a sleeping Regulus on the opposite wall before he continued, in a dry voice.
“I hope you know that we all hate the idea of you being confined just as much as you do. There’s not a day goes by I don’t think about that night in the shack, when we had the opportunity to...“ he looked at his feet and his voice faded, ashamed of wanting to kill their rat of a former friend. Sirius put his hands on his shoulders and shook.
“If anyone knows, it’s me, Moony. Don’t let it consume you like I almost let it consume me.” For a moment, they stared at each other, each taking in the changes the past fourteen years had brought about, then Sirius gave Remus’ shoulders a small squeeze and turned to the door. Before he could open it, however, he turned back, and held out the mirror to Remus.
"I think you should hold onto this in the meantime. Christmas is months away, after all." He smiled slightly as Remus pocketed it, and turned the doorknob.
“Now, let’s hope Tonks managed to find the firewhiskey!” he cackled, tiptoeing out into the hall.
A/N: Thanks so much to my reviewers! I've planted a few seeds within this story that I might carry further at a later date, but I would like this story to function as a missing moment. Constructive criticisms always welcome. xoxo Nephele