Disclaimer: Don't own, don't hope to own, so don't sue me.

Murphy's Law

Chapter Six ~*~ Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon…

Dumbledore had never looked so tired before, Remus realized as he faced the old man once again in his office. Even now, the eyes seemed darkened and the expression exhausted. Dumbledore had, as Remus and just about everyone else knew, been at his peak when he had fought and defeated Voldemort's predecessor.

Now he was just a haggard, ancient wizard.

Faithfully, the werewolf shared the news. The headmaster's frown deepened with each passing word. Finally, the story told, Remus stood back to allow Dumbledore to digest the facts. At last, the silver-haired wizard spoke.

"Our fears have been realized, and Peter Pettigrew has truly escaped to rejoin his master."

Remus nodded, dumbly.

"If that is so… I don't see how we can prevent it from happening." Dumbledore let out a long, drawn sigh. He looked utterly defeated-something that Remus had truly never seen in the man before. Then he reminded himself, /the man's more than four times your own age. Give him a break; he deserved to go to his rest a long, long time ago./

Then, his thoughts darkened from pity to desperation as he began to see what Dumbledore had already realized. /We can't do anything… That was the beauty of Peter's Animagus transformation. He could slip in anywhere, out of any place or situation. Besides, who notices another rat? And he wasn't even registered, which makes things worse…/

"We… can wait," Lupin offered, although he himself winced at those feeble words, at that weak option. "We can only wait."

Dumbledore nodded, and pulled his long fingertips together in deep contemplation.

~*~

The return to his chambers showed Lupin both a missing Harry and a missing Padfoot. A bubble of irrational anger rose in his throat, but he suppressed it and tried not to jump to conclusions. Instead, the werewolf moved onto the next room, hoping for Sirius' sake that nothing had happened to James' son.

His choice was the right one. Proceeding to Severus' bedchamber, he saw the Potions Master reading out of a dusty old book that must have weighed at least twenty pounds, and Harry on the floor. The dark-haired child was cuddled next to Sirius the great ebony dog, listening contentedly.

Remus paused in the doorway, almost enjoying the scene. All three people looked happy; something he hadn't seen in a long time and something he didn't want to ruin.

"'Sir, said Merlin, ye may not lie so as ye do, for ye must to the field through ye ride on an horse-litter: for ye shall never have the better of your enemies but if your person be there, and then shall ye have the victory.'" Severus paused briefly after this phrase, fixing Remus with his deep glare.

"Isn't /Le Morte Darthur/ a tad… /advanced/… for a kid Harry's age?" Remus demanded, still keeping his eye on the canine.

"Nonsense. He understands it, don't you Harry?" The professor directed his gaze to the boy, who seemed to be listening with rapt attention. "I think he likes hearing about Merlin."

"Who doesn't?" Remus countered. He was right; almost all young wizards passed through a "Merlin Stage," usually before they hit Quidditch and after they had been potty trained. "I remember I was obsessed with learning about the old druid and his deeds," he admitted.

"Sometimes I'm inclined to believe that you're still at that childish level," Snape told him dryly, then returned to reading.

Remus, meanwhile, knelt down and prodded Sirius' head with a warning finger. The werewolf's cold gray eyes bore challenge, but the dog merely looked annoyed and even had to gall to snap lazily at Lupin's hand. "Miserable mutt," Remus told him, earning a growl for his efforts. Padfoot rolled over on his back indignantly, reveling an odd dog biscuit of an electric green shade. Remus picked it up curiously.

"Severus, what's this?" he asked, blinking. He never remembered buying any dog food. Unless…

"What? Oh." Snape frowned slightly. "I thought he ate that."

"Severus, this wouldn't be the /potion/ that Madame Pompfrey gave you earlier this morning, would it?" He waved the bone-shaped dog treat, amused.

Snape reddened-one of the very few times that Remus had seen him embarrassed. "The stuff is disgusting," he managed to grate out. "I know potions, Lupin, and I'm positive that one would have /killed/ me if I'd downed it."

"So tell her that," Remus advised snidely. "Unless…" his grin widened. "You aren't /afraid/ of Poppy, are you?"

"Afraid? What? Have you gone mad?" Snape tried to sound outraged, but his faced flushed even more, giving the game away. "She's a nurse, Lupin. A /nurse/!"

"The same /nurse/ that Transfigured you into a cat when you were in your Fifth Year at Hogwarts," Remus recalled. "And left you to wander around the castle for two days looking for help because you didn't know how to turn yourself back! I see how it is now!" he crowed. "The infamous Severus Snape, scared of a school nurse!"

The red had deepened to a startling shade of scarlet. The patient managed to choke out, "if word of this ever gets out… I'll make sure you pay for it, Lupin."

"Scout's honor," Remus grinned back. /But then again, I was never a scout…/

/I was a Marauder./

~*~

Later, after evening classes, after Harry had been tucked in, Remus decided that Snape needed to know the truth about his new doggy friend. He had been uneasy on how to reveal it before, but he also didn't want Sirius to stay a canine for the rest of his life. Part of him was still sympathetic on the behalf of an old friend, and the other half hated shaggy-coated things that shed too much fur and drooled and scratched and attracted fleas.

Of course, he couldn't reveal it all at once. It would totally shock Severus out of twenty years of his life and probably also cause him to go into a trauma-induced coma. This /was/ the best time to do it, though, seeing as the man was bed-ridden and magically exhausted-he would probably only be able to Transfigure Remus into something at worse. No curses or complicated hexes.

Lupin decided to approach the situation casually. Subtlety had saved his life before, especially when it came to hanging out with Sirius, around /girls/… he had saved them both more than a few slaps in their Hogwarts careers.

Quietly, he knocked on Severus' door, hearing the irritable voice snap from within, although softly, "stop tapping around and get on with it, Lupin." Apparently, he was still sour from Remus' earlier observations. Not a good sign.

The werewolf decided to step inside meekly this time. Padfoot was slumbering at the foot of Severus' bed, but he stirred at the very slight creak the door made when it opened. Lupin had decided to move Harry's crib into Snape's room for the night, as he knew he would probably have to get up to take care of either or both of them, and the decided that he'd rather trip on some stuff in the dark to get to one room rather than trip over more stuff and stumbling into two different rooms.

Sirius sniffed, then opened one pale blue eye accusingly at the disrupter. Remus ignored him.

Harry was sound asleep. Good, that worked in his favor; Severus wouldn't scream or rant or do anything particularly violent if the child was slumbering in the same room (another reason why he picked for having him in this room for today). Bravely, Lupin drew in a breath and blurted, "Severus, do you remember Peter Pettigrew?"

"Pettigrew?" The Professor wrinkled his brow. "Wasn't that the ratty-looking, pudgy boy that used to run around with you and Potter and… /Black/… back when we were in school? Got himself blown up by Black?"

"The same," Lupin nodded. /Geez… how am I going to do this?/ "Except… he didn't really get himself blown up. You see, Peter is still alive."

At this, Severus blinked. And stared at his companion like he was insane and had just started dancing a little jig and singing. "Remus, are you feeling alright?" But not for nothing had the man been known to have a brain as sharp as a scalpel. Click, click, click, and the pieces began falling in place. "Oh no," he began, eyes starting to bulge a little. "You're not serious. You actually think Black is /innocent/?"

"No," Remus replied, winced at the tone of his words, then relented, "yes. But before you do anything like hex me-" he added quickly before Snape could put in another word, "you should hear the rest of this. The rest of what Dumbledore and I have figured out."

"Dumbledore? He thinks Black is innocent too? Has he finally cracked?! The wizard blew up an entire block and thirteen Muggles along with it! It was a nightmare for the Ministry to cover up!" Severus snarled, sitting up.

"Wait, Severus, you don't know the entire story," Remus interrupted hastily. "Don't jump to conclusions." At the foot of the bed, Padfoot raised his head and wagged his tail eagerly. "Don't make the same mistake I did."

The pitch-colored eyes narrowed even further, into dark slits. "What are you talking about, Lupin?"

Remus swallowed, then proceeded carefully.

"What you didn't know was that Peter was an Animagus…"

~*~

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A/N:

Silvaerina: how now, that is cool. I usually don't do these little reviewer-reply things until I finish a fic, but I found that to be /very/ cool. ^_^

That didn't take too long, did it? Anyway, sorry for leaving it there, but it's late and I really must go to bed before my parents decide to string me up on a stick and roast me over an open fire. Jolly goodness, isn't it?

Expect the next chapter sometime soon. I have February break, true, but I also have a certain sadistic social studies teacher who enjoys torturing his students with homework that cannot be measured in terms of hours. Rather, I gauge the amount we have in /days/.

Anyway, thanks for spending your time reading this little ficcy. I hope it was a positive experience. Please drop a review if you think it was. If it wasn't, please drop a review (note here: not a flame, a review) telling me why it wasn't. Feedback is always good. Until next time!

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