Chapter 3 : Old Vendettas
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Chapter 3: Old Vendettas
Sirius rolled his eyes in exasperation as he watched Remus huddling with Bill in the Black family kitchen. Grabbing the cup of coffee Remus had brought him off the table, he leaned against the door frame, waiting impatiently for their conversation to end. He chuckled as Bill’s face flushed red, taking a sip of his drink to hide his amusement. Special coffee, indeed. Sirius fought to compose himself as the burn of Irish whiskey slid down his throat. Apparently, Remus had known what a rough morning this would be before he even entered the doors of Grimmauld.
With a brief nod Sirius’ direction, Bill stormed passed the both of them and toward the main hallway. A second later, the echo of the heavy front doors slamming shut reverberated through the mansion. Turning to Remus, his mouth spread into a grin. “Making friends again, Remus?”
“Don’t start, Sirius,” Remus grumbled, rubbing the growing stubble on his face.
“When was the last time you went home? Two days? Three?”
“I’m not worried about Tonks,” he returned easily. “Were you in the group that went after Lucius?”
Remus hesitated before nodding. He’d find out anyway, there was no use in hiding it. “I went home two nights ago. Briefly. Very briefly. I saw Tonks at the wedding.”
“Suicide mission that was,” Sirius mumbled. “but you knew that and that’s why you didn’t invite me along, isn’t it?”
“I didn’t figure Hermione would forgive me for taking you away from the wedding to go hunt down Malfoy. Or making her a widow on her wedding night, of course.”
“Yes,” Sirius nodded, “she can be a bit peculiar about things like that. So…want to sit down and face her wrath in the next few minutes or go for a walk and deal with the repercussions later?”
Remus opened his mouth to object but Sirius raised a hand for silence. “You aren’t going to allow me to see Malfoy. We can pretend you were fighting with Bill over confidential Ministry business or just deal with your lack of faith in my ability to control my more murderous tendencies. Neither choice will likely help my marriage. So…shall we go?”
Rather than wait for a response, Sirius turned on his heel and headed toward the door. Slipping on his darkest sunglasses as the summer sun blinded his vision, he hesitated to give Remus time to catch up and then started down the sidewalk to the busier part of town. While he hated the attention he drew when out in a crowd, he knew Remus would feel much safer with a public audience. At least he wouldn’t expect Sirius to punch a hole in the wall if a hundred witnesses were around to ruin his calm, cool under pressure reputation.
They walked in silence for some time, both trying to avoid gazing at the other, until Remus finally motioned to a nearby café. Taking seats across from each other, Sirius waved for fresh coffees before the waitress could leave their area. Stretching out his legs and relaxing back in the wrought iron chair, Sirius was thankful for the dark glasses which helped hide his eyes and, consequently, kept Remus from being able to analyze his emotional state.
“Seems you had a boisterous evening last night,” Remus offered as he took delivery of their coffees and waved the waitress away.
“Have I ever been one to kiss and tell?” Sirius chuckled. “Surely you aren’t curious enough to be asking about the details of my wedding night.”
Remus frowned. “I meant the dreams, Sirius. When I came you were tossing like the devil was after you. A bit disconcerting to happen on what should have been such a glorious day, don’t you think?”
“I prefer not to think, if truth be told. That’s more your department.”
Remus fell quiet, thinking through the things Sirius was trying hide behind his joking statements. But, like Hermione, he knew all too well what drove Sirius’ nightmares. He wondered if there was something he could say to help ease the grief Sirius was placing on himself over Lily and Harry but then shrugged off the attempt. Nothing he could say would ease that pain and they both knew it. “Are you and Hermione still going to go visit the coast?”
“Highlands maybe. She’s indecisive enough already and this Malfoy debacle may have ruined my best laid plans.”
“You know how the Ministry is…”
“Yes, but I didn’t expect you to create such drama in my household and then suddenly change your mind and prevent my admission to the Ministry. Come on, Remus,” Sirius grumbled. “You show up before dawn, disrupt everyone the day after the wedding and then decide ‘oh, wait, never mind’?”
“I didn’t know you were going to rush out and attempt to kill the man, now did I?” Remus hissed, lowering his voice to prevent the neighboring patrons from overhearing. “How was I supposed to guess that murder had suddenly become an acceptable practice to you? What choice did you leave me? Let you go, let you kill him, and then be the one who had to arrest you and send you back to Azkaban? Sorry, brother, but that’s not a road I intend to let either of us travel down.”
Shaking his head, Sirius pulled off his glasses and tossed them onto the table. Leaning forward, he rested one arm on the edge of the table to stare directly at his friend. When he was certain he had Remus’ full attention, his voice turned to a near growl of impatience.
“I would never put you in such a position. Nor will I ever go back to that place. Never assume that I'm sacrificial enough to destroy my own life for what you or Hermione or anyone else believes is the right course of action. You forget I am a Black. We are always out for ourselves.”
“You’re a Black in name only, Sirius.”
“Really?” Sirius gave a single, sardonic laugh. “Then why are you so ready to believe I’ll commit murder at the drop of a hat?”
“Because whether you say it out loud or not, you love her, Sirius,” Remus explained. “And you’ll do anything for those you love. I, of anyone, know that best.”
Sirius leaned away, sliding his sunglasses back over his eyes and dropping his head to lean against the back of his chair. He hated it when Remus was right. If he’d gone to see Malfoy, he probably would have strangled him. The man wouldn’t have had to utter word and Sirius’ fury at the pain he was vicariously inflicting on Hermione would have been enough to fuel his rage. Harry’s death aside, Malfoy deserved nothing but death for his misdeeds. Even the darkest throws of Azkaban weren’t vicious enough to serve as punishment for all of Lucius’ actions. But none of that mattered. He wasn’t going to be admitted to see Malfoy…Remus had undoubtedly seen to restricting his access already.
“Why did he want me, do you think?”
“Not many purebloods left?” Remus shrugged. “To try and get a rise out of you? To share some aristocratic secret than none of us lower beings are allowed to be privy to? Who the hell knows, Sirius.”
“What will the Ministry do?”
“Do you care?” Remus chuckled.
“If me not talking to him means he’s going to walk then yes, I care.”
“The Ministry has plenty of recourse against him, Sirius. Risking your freedom to only add a few other charges would be a pointless exercise.”
Sirius nodded, not sure if he could trust Remus to be objective in his statements. He would protect Sirius even if it meant Lucius walked…he had no doubt about that. He made mental note to talk privately with Bill and see what the true story of Malfoy’s incarceration might be.
“How bad did he fight?”
A shadow flickered across Remus' face, making Sirius' stomach clench. So it had been bad. Worse than bad. Few things ruffled Remus, he was too accustomed to facing eminent death each month to allow any daily entanglements to phase him. But the shadowy gloom still prevailed and Remus seemed unable to shake it.
“Remus?” Sirius prodded, worried now.
“He had Tonks,” he whispered. “Not for long. But he had her.”
“Any time is too long,” Sirius growled. “And you just now thought to tell me about this?”
“It was more important for you to stay with Hermione and Juliette, Sirius.”
“Screw my wedding, Remus! Tonks is my-”
“He took her from the wedding, Sirius. Malfoy was at Grimmauld,” Remus' broken voice was a mere whisper. “Had you gone after Tonks with me you would have left Hermione and Juliette open for attack. I have no doubt that was his intention.”
In took Sirius several moments to process that information. “You have no doubt?”
“He told Tonks as much,” Remus offered. “She's at home. Fleur is staying with her.” He dropped his voice, as if he was embarrassed to continue. “Our house, well, we don't have the funds to make it as safe as it should be. She doesn't feel right being there alone. I know she would have preferred Hermione for company but considering the circumstances I felt Hermione was safer at Grimmauld.”
“Does Hermione know all this?”
Remus shook his head quickly. “No. I only told her about Lucius' demand at the Ministry. She knows nothing else. I assure you, she isn't keeping something from you.”
“She is always keeping something from me. I just wanted to know if this was another of those things,” Sirius corrected, exhaling heavily. “You and Tonks should move into Grimmauld as soon as possible. I can help you collect your things this afternoon. Bill can-”
“No, Sirius,” Remus threw his head back in laughter, despite the situation. “I'm not moving into the newly married couple's home.”
“It is my home, Remus. And I'm not going to have my cousin lying terrified in her own bed because Lucius Malfoy decided to pull her into some idiotic decades old vendetta against me. Besides, Juliette would love to have you both and if I'm lucky she'll spend her time up on the fifth floor with you so I can actually have time alone with my new bride before her pregnancy makes her as big as a house.”
“Leave it to you to try and act like we'd be doing you a favor by moving in,” Remus smiled. “But we can't possibly impose-”
“Remus,” Sirius cut him off in exasperation. “You are at my house when I go to bed and I wake up to you hovering over my bedside each morning before dawn. Do you really think moving into a wing three floors above me is going to be any more of an imposition?”
Shaking his head, Sirius rose and dropped several bills on the table. “Can we wrap up the humility scene? I'd like to get back into bed with my wife before I lose all of this day as well.”
“Sirius?” Remus asked quietly as he started to stride away. “You can't go after Malfoy. He's under constant guard. The Ministry has pulled wizards from all over the globe for their specialties in security and threat deflection. It would be a death race to attempt to get through one of them, much less the entire guard.”
Tilting his head to the side, he sent Remus an amused, cocky grin. “I'm a married man, Remus. A father even. Why ever would you think I'd do a reckless thing like that?”
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