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Innocent by MarauderLover7
Chapter 70 : Things To Say
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 9


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The bedroom door creaked, and even that was loud enough to make Remus want to throw up. He didn’t roll over to look at Kreacher – who’d been kind enough to keep an eye on him while Sirius was at work – because then he really would be sick. He closed his eyes and then felt dizzy and decided that had been a bad idea.

It wasn’t Kreacher, but Sirius, who moved into his line of sight, and sat down on the edge of the bed. Remus winced as he was jostled; Sirius had fixed up most of his scratches and bruises and his broken forearm, but his joints still ached fiercely and his muscles burned. Sirius offered him two bottles, which Remus drained without hesitation. One was a Comforting Concoction and the other was a Cramp Cure, and Remus hoped that at least one - if not both - of them was liberally laced with painkillers.

“Thanks,” Remus croaked. Sirius nodded. “You’re home early.”

“Marlene’s back,” Sirius whispered. Remus knew it was consideration for him that was behind the muted address, and appreciated it greatly.

“Oh.” Sirius grimaced and then shrugged, apparently determined to brush it off.

“She didn’t have a wand,” Remus said. “How-”

“Knight Bus.” Remus nodded, and then winced and set about stabilising his head, while Sirius fixed his pillow.

“Clever,” he managed, gingerly lowering himself back onto the bed. Hailing the Knight Bus didn’t require a wand, after all (though wands could be used) – only a wand hand – because there was a fair chance that a stranded witch or wizard might not have a wand on their person. “And they didn’t question that she was coming from a prison?”

“Apparently not,” Sirius said. “She probably told them she’d been arrested for using magic in public or something.” He shrugged again. “It’s good that she was able to escape, but next time I-” He frowned. “If I even- now that she’s back...” Sirius trailed off, looking disconcerted. “Someone should probably have a word to Scrimgeour about the Bus,” he said finally. “Just in case.”

“Mmm,” Remus agreed. Kreacher chose that moment to trot into the room – Remus couldn’t actually see him, but he heard the crack of Apparition on the landing, heard the door creak again, and heard Kreacher greet his Master Sirius – carrying a large bowl of soup. Remus couldn’t see that either, but he could smell it and his stomach grumbled appreciatively.

Kreacher set the soup down on the bedside table, and together, he and Sirius moved Remus into a sitting position and then Kreacher bestowed him with his lunch.

“Thank you, Kreacher,” he said gratefully. “It smells wonderful.” Kreacher swelled with pride and then hurried out of the room – the fact that he didn’t Apparate made Remus even more grateful – muttering about getting soup for Sirius too.

“How’s he been?” Sirius asked.

“Very helpful,” Remus said, blowing on a spoonful of his lunch.

“Good,” Sirius said. He checked his watch and then looked back at Remus.

“It’s Saturday,” Remus said.

“Habit,” Sirius said, looking a little embarrassed. “Is he upstairs?”

“I assume so,” Remus said. “He came in with my morning potions and then I fell asleep and I haven’t seen or heard from him since.”

Sirius’ lips twitched, and then he cleared his throat and said, “I saw Dora on my way out today.”

“Must you?” Remus grumbled; his inner turmoil about the whole Dora situation was the reason the full moon had been so brutal last night, and he wasn’t really in the mood to talk about her.

“They’re off to Azkaban tomorrow,” Sirius continued, as if he hadn’t heard, and Remus’ insides twisted. He didn’t like the idea of Dora being there at all, despite it being a necessary part of training, and he suspected she’d have a harder time of it than usual; Sirius had told him parts of what she’d said to him, and Remus had gathered from that that she was more hurt than he’d anticipated, and also suffering from quite a bit of self-doubt. “I said she was welcome to come over afterward, if she’s feeling up to it.”

Remus’ insides twisted again, but he nodded, and tried not to squirm under Sirius’ thoughtful look. Remus stirred his soup and didn’t meet Sirius’ eyes.

Kreacher returned shortly after, with Sirius’ lunch and Harry in tow; Harry whispered greetings to them both – he was obviously being careful not to upset Remus by being too noisy – and sat down on the desk while the pair of them finished their lunches. Harry’d obviously noticed that Sirius was home early – usually he worked until two on Saturdays, and it was only just noon – but he’d also apparently decided that he wasn’t going to ask about it.

Remus watched with amusement as the two of them got caught up in a mimed conversation and then shuffled around until he was lying down again. He let his eyes slip shut; he was feeling pleasantly warm and full after soup, and his bed in Grimmauld’s guest room was very comfortable.

The only thing I have to worry about now is Dora, he thought sleepily, and was already half asleep and therefore too far into unconsciousness to be worried about how their impending conversation would go; instead, he just felt a small smile creep onto his face at the thought of seeing her soon.

*                     *                      *

Tonks pressed the doorbell of Number Twelve and rocked back on her heels to wait, feeling nervous, but in a better mood than she had been for the last few days. The door opened almost immediately, startling her, and she tumbled off the top step and into the bush on the side, with a squawk.

“Hello,” Remus said, pale faced and apparently as nervous as she was.

“Wotcher,” she muttered, trying to extract herself from the bush without damaging it further; Sirius had never shown much interest in his garden, but Tonks suspected she’d have Kreacher after her if she mutilated it too much. “You were waiting,” she added, trying not to sound accusing.

“Maybe,” Remus said, surprising her with his honesty. She blinked, and then patted her pocket for reassurance; the last chocolate frog (which she intended to give to Harry) from a box that has shown up with Strix that morning, rested there. “How was Azkaban?”

“The chocolate helped,” she said. It had; she’d been so intent on trying to work out whether he’d sent it as an apology, to be kind and protect her from the Dementors, as a romantic gesture, or simply because he’d felt like it, that she’d hardly noticed the Dementors at all.

“Good,” he said.

“Thanks,” she added, and he waved a hand, dismissing that. She knew Remus didn’t have a lot of money – it was one of the many thins she’d learned when she’d been him – so she knew that him spending it, on her, when it wasn’t her birthday, or Christmas, wasn’t something that should be easily dismissed. “How was the full moon?” Remus looked surprised that she’d remembered, and then grimaced. “That bad?”

“I’ve had worse,” he mumbled, and she believed him, but she also didn’t think there were many that fell under the category of worse. An awkward silence followed that, and Tonks patted her pocket again, and Remus fiddled with a loose thread on his sleeve. Tonks spotted Sirius coming out of the study, and he paused when he saw them both standing on the doorstep. Remus turned to look at him too.

A pained look flickered over Sirius’ face, and he tucked his book under his arm and walked over. Remus looked grateful, and Tonks found that she was too. Sirius’ mouth twitched and he pulled the door open wider, and stood in the doorframe, staring at the pair of them. When neither said anything – Remus was giving Sirius a pleading look, and Tonks was watching Remus’ pleading expression and trying to work out why it was there – Sirius sighed.

“This is just painful,” he muttered, and Tonks’ hair exploded into a shade of pink rivalled by Remus’ cheeks. “What are you doing?” Sirius asked, with deliberate slowness. Remus and Tonks shared a look.

“He bought me chocolate,” Tonks blurted, at the same time as Remus said, “She fell into your Photinias.”

“My what?” Sirius asked, goggling at Remus.

“The plant,” Tonks said, pointing. Sirius looked at the plant, then at the pair of them, and pinched the bridge of his nose. He let out a gusty sigh.

“Oh, bloody hell,” Sirius said, “you two are useless.”

“You’re not helping,” Remus muttered.

“Did you expect me to?” Sirius asked, arching an eyebrow. Remus opened his mouth and closed it. “Oh, all right,” Sirius muttered. “Would you like my advice?” Remus mumbled something that sounded like please, but Tonks couldn’t be sure. “These,” Sirius said, poking Remus in the side of the mouth, “go here.” He put a cold finger on Tonks’ lips and then cackled. Tonks felt her face heat up, and Remus look mortified, and buried his face in his hands.

Tonks could hear Harry chortling from somewhere inside.

“You can go now, Padfoot, thank you,” Remus mumbled through his fingers, “and take him with you.” He nodded into the house, where Tonks could still hear Harry laughing. Sirius did go, winking at Tonks as he shut – but didn’t latch – the door behind him. “Next full moon,” Remus said, lowering his hands to reveal a very red face, “remind me to eat him.” Tonks burst out laughing, and Remus subsided into chuckles.

“Can do,” she said, grinning, once she could talk again.

“Thank you,” he said, with a rueful smile back. He glanced at the door, hesitated, and then gestured to the park on the other side of the street. “Would you like to go for a walk?” Tonks sobered immediately, and glanced at Remus, who looked torn between wanting her to say yes, and wanting her to turn him down. She managed to nod.

They walked for about five minutes, in tense silence – Tonks was trying to think of what to say, and was sure Remus was doing the same – and eventually found a place to sit; the bench in the park had been claimed by an old man who was feeding the birds, so Tonks claimed one of the swings, while Remus went to sit on the steps that led up to the slide and rope bridge.

Tonks made piles of bark-chips with her feet, and Remus was apparently fascinated by a patch of graffiti, on one of the support beams.

“So,” he said, surprising her by speaking first, “you fancy Sirius’ best friend?” Tonks lifted her eyes off the ground and found that he was looking at her. She nodded slowly.

“For a while now,” she admitted.

“He’s- I’m not good- for- I’m not right for you,” Remus said. “I’m old, and poor, and I’m dangerous-”

“You are not dang-”

A boy – who was maybe a year younger than Harry – chose that moment to come barrelling up and deposit himself on the swing beside Tonks. She gave the boy a narrow-eyed look, which he ignored, and then she threw Remus a helpless look instead. He seemed rather unimpressed by the boy’s presence too.

Ten minutes later, the boy had apparently had his fun on the swing, and went charging off - sending bark chips flying everywhere – toward the main part of the playground. He climbed over Remus – and got an irate look in return – and then screeched as he went shooting down the slide, and back toward his mother.

“You’re not dangerous!” Tonks said at once. Remus smiled sadly. “We had this conversation when you told me about your... er... condition before you went off to the camp to help Matt-” And bloody hell, doesn’t that seem like ages ago... “-and I didn’t care then, so why would I care-”

“Because if this- if we were to-”

“If we were to what?” Tonks asked, her heart beating.

“You’re not listening,” Remus said, looking agitated. “I’m dangerous, and you need someone young and whole-”

“Young and whole?” she asked. “Implying that – what – you’re old and broken?”

“And dangerous-”

“I’m an Auror trainee!” Tonks said loudly. The man feeding the birds looked over – the noise had startled most of the feathery crowd around him - and then away again. “Danger isn’t really a concept for me, so don’t give me that rubbish!” He opened his mouth to say something, but she cut him off. “And I’m dangerous too-”

“You?” Remus asked, incredulous.

“Three years of tuition under Mad-Eye and I’ll be hexing everything that moves,” she said, folding her arms. “Maybe you’re the one that’s at risk-”

“You’re missing the point-”

“No, Remus, you’re missing the point; I appreciate that you care enough to try to point out the things that you see as problems, but I’ve thought about this. None of those things that you think are getting in the way, bother me. Not one. The only thing that’s stopping this is you.” Remus said nothing. Tonks waited, not sure whether she was expecting an argument, or him to admit that she was right, but she got neither. She stood up and almost tripped on the bark-chip piles she’d made; she had to grab the chain of the swing to keep herself upright.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Well, since you’ve obviously run out of things to say on the matter, I’m going back to Sirius’-” She tried not to sound hurt, but was disappointed that they hadn’t actually managed to reach an agreement; she hadn’t talked him into it, and he hadn’t talked her out of it... they were on the same, though marginally friendlier, terms as before. “-he’s promised me dinner.”

She saw Remus standing up out of the corner of her eye, but couldn’t bring herself to stop and wait for him. He could catch up if he wanted to, or he could hang back, and have time to think. That too, was up to him.

She was almost to the street when she became aware of Remus’ footsteps right behind her. She turned around – she couldn’t have said why – and her eyes widened when she realised just how close he was. She glanced up at his eyes, which were troubled, and then, before she could help herself, her eyes dropped to his lips.

Remus, though, was the one that took half a step forward, and Remus was the one who bent his head and pressed his mouth to hers... for the briefest moment, before he backed off, looking sheepish. Tonks stared at him, her heart hammering. He looked shocked now, as if he couldn’t believe what he’d just done, and somewhat pleading; he was well and truly leaving the next move up to her.

She stepped forward – using her Metamorphmagic to make herself taller as she moved – and kissed him again.

*                       *                         *

Gawain stepped out of Scrimgeour’s office – he’d been meeting with the Head Auror every day for a week now, trying to secure McKinnon’s future in the Program – and set off down the corridor with a spring in his step. Black, laden with a large stack of parchment, was talking with Weasley outside the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. Gawain wasn’t sure what they were talking about, but Weasley was making elaborate hand gestures and Black was shaking his head and speaking with an amused but earnest expression.

Gawain caught Black’s eye – Black smiled and shrugged (since his hands were too occupied to move) a greeting – and continued on toward his cubicle. McKinnon was sitting at her old desk – the one Black had occupied between her disappearance and her return late last week – and she murmured a greeting as he entered.

It was strange how much the atmosphere in the cubicle had changed; with McKinnon, there was a quiet but strong sense of purpose that came with her presence, and just a hint of fragility, and unease. With Black, there’d been determination, and usually a fair bit of noise – shuffling papers, quills scratching, fingers tapping on the desk, Black muttering, or outright talking – as well as a completely at ease sort of air.

Gawain was pleased to have McKinnon back, but it seemed... quiet without Black around. He pursed his lips and sat down at his desk.

“Your position is still yours, if you want it,” he said, and McKinnon jerked and looked up. He pulled her Sidekick – which Black had returned to him a few days ago – out of his robes and offered it to her. She took it. “The final decision was made today.”

He saw potential in McKinnon, which was the reason he’d fought so hard to get her back, and also to keep his position as her mentor. Scrimgeour was tough but fair, and had voiced some concern over how stable she was, but Robards truly thought she was over the worst of it. Certainly, she’d seemed more balanced since she’d come back – but only time, and exposure to Black would tell. Bones had vouched for McKinnon’s return, saying that whatever recovery she had to do could be done in the Program, that McKinnon would recover sooner if she was doing something, and Scrimgeour had given his permission for her to continue in the Program, as long as Gawain was willing to put in the extra effort.

“Really?” McKinnon asked, smiling. “I’d- If you’ll have me, sir, then-”

“Of course I’ll have you,” Gawain told her. They’d have a tough few months ahead - McKinnon would need to keep up with the current course work, as well as make up what she’d missed since May – but he thought it was possible.

“Thank you,” she said, and then frowned and set down her quill.

“What?”

“What about Sirius?” she asked.

“What about him?” Gawain asked neutrally.

“I haven’t seen him since that first day,” she said, tucking her hair behind her ear.

“I would suggest,” Gawain said gently, “that you worry about your own location and wellbeing, and not Black’s, for the time being.”

McKinnon obviously recognised the subtle barb, but pushed the matter anyway, her cheeks faintly pink: “He’s left, hasn’t he?” Gawain hesitated and then shook his head.

“No,” he sighed. “He’s around the place, doing odd jobs for me and for Scrimgeour and Bones.” Black had attempted to resign on the day he returned the Sidekick, but Gawain had asked him to stick around and help out with a few things. It wasn’t the sort of work Black was after, but Gawain knew he’d enjoyed working and figured something was better than nothing. Scrimgeour had caught on quickly and the pair of them were working to find a long-term position for him, but it was proving to be harder than they’d anticipated.

Black had Auror training, but that had been a long time ago, and he’d had little opportunity to keep his skills up during his time in Azkaban, and were they to promote him to Auror without any testing or training, there would certainly be complaints from other D.M.L.E. workers. It would, of course, be possible to get him into the Program, but Gawain rather thought Black was better than that, and that sitting through the training session would be an insult to the man’s intelligence, even though it was unlikely Black would ever complain. They were toying with a few alternatives – and Black remained unaware of any of them – and the most likely of those required Black to be around the Department for a few weeks in advance.

“Around? But I haven’t seen him,” she said. Gawain met her curious look with an impassive expression, and understanding dawned on her face. “Oh.”

“We thought it would be best for him to stay out of the way until you’d settled in again.” McKinnon did not seem impressed to hear that; she folded her arms, and her forehead crinkled.

“This is what I was afraid of,” she said dejectedly.

“What was?” Gawain asked.

“That I’d affect him!” she exclaimed, drumming her fingers on the desk, in a gesture oddly reminiscent of Black himself. “That by being back, I’d change things, and I have; he’s lost his job-”

“McKinnon,” Gawain said, patiently, “you vanishing is what got him the job in the first place.” McKinnon was silent as she considered that. “And you, regardless of what happens, or where you go, will always affect someone. Not wanting to doesn’t stop it happening, and the sooner you realise that, the better off you’ll be.”

*                       *                        *

Sirius scratched the polka-dotted bowtie he’d worn for the occasion and scratched the large red nose that Dora had helped him grow. Harry was dressed like a mummy tonight, and covered from head to toe in thick bandages. The only part of him that wasn’t off-white fabric were his eyes, for once unguarded by his glasses; Sirius had put a charm on him to give him temporary eyesight without glasses, and had caught Harry reaching up to adjust them before remembering they weren’t there several times already.

His rucksack, which sat, half-open on the hard ground beside him, was almost stuffed to the brim with sweets they’d collected on the way. Remus was dressed as a ghost – one bearing a strong resemblance to the Bloody Baron (despite Sirius suggesting they should use magic to let him survive a night looking like Nearly Headless Nick) - and together the three of them – the clown, the mummy and the ghost – made a horrifying trio.

Sirius glanced over his shoulder and out the gates to make sure Remus was still out by the statue; he was, a tall, pale figure in the dark. Sirius knew he was talking – or that he had been when he and Harry had left him – to them (to James, or to Lily or to both, he wasn’t sure) and was reasonably sure it was about Dora.

Sirius smiled to himself and turned his attention back to Harry, who was sitting on the ground beside the orange and yellow spotted lily they’d planted on Christmas the year before, and a now-familiar collection of flowers. There was the single white lily, the bunch of wildflowers, the bunch of purple hyacinths and the red and yellow lilies. Harry was talking too, about school, and Sirius’ smile became rather bittersweet.

He swallowed thickly and retreated – almost tripping over his ridiculously large shoes – to a tree a few yards away, where he was able to keep an eye on Harry and Remus both, without being too close to them.

“Hey, Prongs,” he said, easing himself onto the hard ground. The dirt wasn’t frozen yet, but it was certainly close to it. “Lils.” He didn’t get a response, but he could picture it; James grinning and calling him Padfoot, and Lily, smiling, and running forward to give him a warm hug. Sirius cleared his throat. “Happy Halloween.” He could picture their sad smiles, practically feel James’ hand on his shoulder, or Lily’s small hand squeezing his own.

Sirius talked quietly about all the things that had happened since he last spoke to them; talking to Lily and James wasn’t an every night thing, anymore. He still did it at least once a week, or more if he was having trouble sleeping, but it was more relaxed nowadays, and he no longer felt horrendously guilty if he missed a night here or there.

He told them what he’d said to Remus about lips and where to put them, and spent a few moments imagining James’ howls of laughter, and Lily telling him that was mean through her own laughter. He told them that he’d seen them kissing in the hallway before Dora went home and had been harassing Remus about it ever since.

He told him that Harry had seen them kissing on a separate occasion, and hadn’t been able to look at Remus for two days, and was still prone to blushing whenever he was in the same room as Remus and Dora, but that he’d confided to Sirius that it was nice that Moony was happy. And, that, as a result of the Harry incident, Kreacher had sat Remus down and lectured him for ten minutes about decent behaviour around children, despite the fact Remus and Dora hadn’t been doing anything inappropriate.

He told them about his week running odd errands in the D.M.L.E., and how a friendly conversation with Arthur Weasley about magic carpets had turned into a discussion about muggle transport. Sirius, nostalgically, had mentioned his motorcycle (Arthur had thought that was a function of a clothes washing machine, not a bike, until Sirius set him straight) and had then realised exactly who he was talking to and had asked Arthur not to arrest him, when, to his relief, Arthur had mentioned a car. They were having lunch on Tuesday for a longer talk about mechanics. And he told James and Lily that he was going to go and see Hagrid on Wednesday and find out what had happened to his old bike.

He told James about his and Harry’s walks to and from school, and about the cat he’d chased the other day, and about the full moon and that Harry’d finished his first term of school and that it was quite nice to have him home again. Sirius was cutting back his hours during the holiday period, and only working mornings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and on Saturday afternoons.

“And when he goes back, there are these conference things,” Sirius told the sky; he was lying down now, under the tree, and could see Harry and Remus writing on a piece of paper with a pencil they’d got from Merlin-knew-where, “for parents and the teacher. I thought he might have been in trouble, but apparently everyone has them... we never had them at Hogwarts, though, so it must be a muggle thing. But apparently we’ve got to ask questions, or... well, I’m not sure...”

Harry’d mentioned he had a notice about it, but it was probably crushed in the bottom of his rucksack. Sirius made a mental note to ask him later.

“Should be fun though, eh?” He hesitated, and sat up, folding his legs – with difficulty, thanks to his shoes – under him. “You don’t mind, do you?” he asked, a little worried. This time, his imagination didn’t fill in the silence. “It’s the sort of thing you’d have loved, Lils, being able to talk to his teacher, and meet his friends’ parents, and Prongs, you’re his- I’m not- it should be you, not me...”

“Things have a funny way of working out,” a wry voice said, startling him. Marlene steadied herself – obviously she’d just Apparated - out of the dark, holding a large bunch of yellow, pink, indigo and white roses. Sirius knew it was coincidence that she’d chosen to greet him that way, but he was still disconcerted that she’d managed to address his last statement. “I thought I’d come later, and stay out of your way, but here you are.”

“So you can recognise me with colourful hair, a red nose and face paint, but not as a woman?” Sirius asked, getting carefully to his feet.

“Apparently,” she said, giving him a small smile. “I suppose James changed your hair colour and hexed your features enough at school that I’ve learned to distinguish what’s underneath.” Sirius smiled back, unable to help himself.

“Sounds about right.” He paused. “Did you want us to leave?”

“Not because of me,” she said, and Sirius nodded slowly.

They stared at each other and then he said, “You’re still blond.”  Marlene pulled on a strand of her hair – which was longer than Sirius had ever seen it – and sighed.

“I still don’t quite feel like me,” she said. “And I’m not sure if it’s because I look different, or if it’s best to look different because I feel  different. Does that make sense?”

“Not really,” Sirius said. She gave him another tiny smile and shrugged in a helpless sort of way, and Sirius wasn’t sure how to respond, so he said nothing. She watched him, and apparently realised he wasn’t going to say anything, and turned and made her way over to where Harry and Remus were. Sirius trailed behind her, watching curiously as Remus offered a polite greeting, while Harry shoved the piece of paper into his rucksack

“Hello,” Harry said, once the paper was out of sight. Marlene didn’t seem to have noticed.

“Harry,” Marlene said, and Sirius couldn’t see her face from where he was, but thought she might be smiling again. “Have you been keeping out of trouble? No more Kelpies?” Harry shook his head, looking amused, and a little sheepish. Sirius went to stand beside Harry, and put a hand on his shoulder, but Harry didn’t seem worried by Marlene’s presence. Remus was watching them all from a few feet away, with a shrewd expression.

Harry went to join Remus a few minutes after, and the mysterious piece of paper emerged again, sparking Sirius’ interest. He decided to let that wait, though; Marlene had put her roses down, and was standing beside him with her arms wrapped tightly around her upper half, and very bright eyes.

“This is where it happened, you know,” she said, in a falsely casual voice. She pointed to a patch of ground by their feet, and Sirius looked over at her. Her eyes were unfocused, and he couldn’t read the expression in them. “He- Peter. He was right there.” Sirius’ eyes latched onto the patch of ground. “I caught him right there.” She sniffed, and Sirius looked up to see her brushing her eyes.

“Robards never told me where,” he said softly, his eyes tracing Lily and James’ names on the gravestone.

“Here,” Marlene said thickly. Sirius just nodded and reached out to take her hand with his own, white gloved one. Marlene sniffed again, and looked at him, and then gently but firmly pulled her hand away. Sirius let her, and nodded again, his own throat now feeling rather thick.

“Padfoot,” Harry said, stumbling over with a wary looking Remus behind him.

“Yeah?” Sirius asked, clearing his throat; Marlene was staring fixedly on the grave, not paying any attention to the three of them.

“The spell on my eyes is fading,” he said, wobbling a bit as he squinted at Sirius through the slit in his bandages. Sirius reached out to steady him.

“It’s worn off?”

“It’s flickering,” Harry said. It was disconcerting to only be able to see his eyes; the rest of his face was so heavily bandaged that Sirius couldn’t see what his expression was. If he had to guess, he’d have said Harry’d wrinkled his nose.

“We might head off then,” he said, addressing Harry, but his eyes went to Remus, who nodded. Out of the corner of his eye, Sirius saw Marlene turn her head to look at them. As soon as he moved, though, her attention went right back to the graves. He took Harry’s hand, and Harry took Remus’ hand.

“Bye,” Harry said.

“Bye, Harry,” Marlene said back, and returned Remus’ awkward wave. Her eyes flicked to Sirius, who still hadn’t worked out what to say, if anything.

“Happy Halloween,” he said after a moment, and then spun on the spot.

Her returned “Happy Halloween” followed them into Apparition, in a rather ghostly manner.


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