Warning: Rated M for explicit language, violence, and sexual content. This story is Canon Divergent. For further disclaimers and warnings, make sure to read my profile. This story is also currently being uploaded to Archive of Our Own. As the Ao3 version is uploaded, the corresponding chapter here on FFN will be edited to reflect an adherence to FFN's rules for explicit content (so if you want to read the smutty stuff, you'll want to hit Ao3 from here on out).
[Updated June 2017.]
Beta Love: Fluffpanda, MissandMarauder, azuthlu, LadyParongsny, Mojowitchcraft, kanewolfe, michsisk
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
"You worry too much, Moony, my friend."
Remus looked up from his position around the corner where he was supposed to be on the lookout for Professor Higgs, an ornery old coot with a distaste for mischief and mischief makers. "I think I worry an adequate amount given the circumstances, Padfoot," he insisted, adding a curt, "thank you very much," before looking back to see his Sirius flicking his wand in time with James's movements as the two attempted to dismantle the security wards set around the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.
"The circumstances being that we're celebrating the fact that we've finished our O.W.L.s, and we have a spectacular summer planned?" James asked with a crooked grin, the same daring expression on his face that had earned him a scowl from a certain redhead that evening at dinner when he had asked her to go to the cinema with him over the summer.
It was a move he clearly had hoped would appeal to her Muggle upbringing, considering James had not even known what a film was until last Christmas when Remus had taken his three best friends to a cinema in Yorkshire to watch Jaws. James left the theatre determined to somehow transport a great white shark into the Black Lake to see if the giant squid would eat it. Sirius had spent the entire film mapping out their plans to go to local beaches the following summer to see girls in bikinis. Peter had nightmares for a week and developed an unhealthy aversion to fish.
Remus sighed. "The circumstances being that we're celebrating the end of the year by breaking into the Defence classroom."
"Moony, we're breaking into Professor Higgs's office, not his classroom," Sirius corrected, his relaxed tone only adding to Remus's growing anxiety. "He keeps all the good things in his office. I overheard him telling Diggory that he's got a Secrecy Sensor and a Probity Probe."
Peter poked his head out from under the Invisibility Cloak he was wearing, slumped on the floor a few feet down the hall where he had a decent view of the nearest staircase and thus any passing prefects or professors. "What's a Probity Probe?" he asked with a raised brow.
Sirius grinned, grey eyes flashing against the sliver of moonlight coming in through the nearby window. "I don't know, but I'm gonna touch it.".
Trying to will away the growing anxiety in his chest, Remus remembered the last time Sirius had said those words. An unfortunate incident in Care of Magical Creatures with a baby chimaera, three friends too loyal and too stupid to drag him out of trouble fast enough, and all four Marauders spent a week in the hospital wing nursing sore wounds and deflated egos.
Trying to forget the memory, Remus stuck to the situation at hand and answered Peter's question. "It's a type of Dark Detector that searches for magical objects and Concealment Spells. It's like a staff that you wave over an individual like a Muggle metal detector."
He rolled his eyes when all three of his pureblood friends stared at him, clearly not knowing what a metal detector was. If it was not related to music, motorbikes, clothing, or movies, his friends paid little attention to things having to do with the Muggle world. It was a pity, considering James had his heart set on marrying Lily Evans, and Sirius had been slapped more than once by Muggle-born witches for rude comments regarding the use of condoms—"Don't look at me like that! You should have seen what she wanted to put on my knob! Contraceptive Charms are perfectly adequate, Moony!"—and arguments where he judged all Muggle-raised individuals based on whether or not they were a fan of the Sex Pistols.
"Wait . . ." Sirius put both of his hands up, wand still gripped in the right, and turned to stare at Remus. "You wave it over someone? Why's it called a probe then?" he asked disappointedly. "It should probe things! That's misleading."
James snorted, still flicking his wand at the door. "You still want to touch it?"
"Of course, but now I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it if I decide I want to keep the thing," Sirius said in a huff.
"You were going to probe with it before?" James asked, smirking when he felt several of the wards drop from the still-locked door.
Sirius shrugged. "Well, now you've gone and ruined Peter's birthday surprise."
The smallest Marauder looked up in a panic. "What?!"
Remus chuckled at Peter. "Ignore them. And you will not be stealing anything out of the office, Pads. We're already risking expulsion by breaking in. How I let you talk me into these things—"
"We make your life interesting, Remus," Sirius interrupted.
Rolling his eyes, Remus sarcastically muttered, "Because being a werewolf isn't interesting enough."
Sirius shook his head. "Not in the slightest. Sometimes I think you fake it all just to get girls to think you're dangerous," he said teasingly, a tone of voice that he often used to cover up the severity of Remus's situation, reminding his friend that perhaps not everyone in the world either feared or pitied him. It was a tone that Remus was fond of; it made him love his best friend all the more.
"I am dangerous," he said quietly.
"Ooo." Sirius faked a shiver. "Say it with a little more gravel in your voice. That almost got me half hard."
Remus laughed and hit him in the arm.
"Your furry little problem does not make you special, mate," Sirius insisted, smiling at his friend.
James chuckled. "That's not what MacDonald said last week."
Remus briefly paled at the mention of their Housemate, a lovely blonde half-blood witch who had taken a fancy to Remus a year earlier. She was one of many that he actively tried to dissuade, but one of very few who was not easily pushed off toward Sirius's bed. "What?!" he squeaked a bit, gaping at James who was trying to stifle his laughter to avoid getting busted. The idea of Mary—or anyone outside his friends or the headmaster—knowing his secret easily sent Remus into a panic.
"Not the werewolf thing," James said, waving off Remus's worries. After a moment, he raised a brow. "Unless you actually told her?"
"Of course not! Don't be an idiot, Prongs," Remus snapped. "Wh-what did Mary say?"
James grinned, and Sirius turned, mimicking the worrisome expression. "I overheard her telling Brown and Meadowes that you were . . . What did she say? An animal."
Remus's soft green eyes narrowed at his friends, and he forcibly kept his inner wolf at bay, doing his best not to react to their provocation. "You're lying," he said firmly, though his tone indicated a hint of doubt in his own words.
"You shagged MacDonald and didn't tell us?" Sirius asked teasingly.
Remus blushed. "I did not. I just . . . We kissed a little is all."
He did his best to keep things vague. The truth, of course, was that Mary had chosen a terrible moment to strike. Too close to the full moon and Remus was barely able to reign in the wolf who was desperate to seek out the witch's warmth. Thankfully, there was enough of the boy—nearly a man—to hold off on deflowering the girl in the middle of the corridor, but he still had pressed her to the wall, rutting against her like an . . . well, an animal while snogging her senseless.
As if rumours and speculation regarding his condition and "sick aunt" who he often visited were not enough, the girls at Hogwarts who had caught him at a bad time were whispering to their friends now about Remus's prowess. Somehow, he could get away with snogging a girl in a dark alcove and not speak to her again, albeit for her own safety. "He's just shy," they would say as they simpered over him in the library where he kept his nose firmly stuck in the pages of old Defence texts—while Sirius did the same thing to witches and ended up hexed for it the next day—"Couldn't even remember my name, the wretched cad!"
"Why Prefect Lupin!" Sirius gasped, clutching at his chest. "Snogging in school? I don't believe it!'
Peter snorted. "How does a little snogging make you an animal?"
Grateful for the dark hallway, Remus felt warmth creep up his face and settle in his cheeks. "I might have . . . It was a little close to the moon and . . . you know how I get."
James smirked. "I'm guessing there was a bit of growling."
Peter snickered. "A little howling?"
"Do you bark when you come?"
Remus's eyes widened. "Sirius!"
Sirius shrugged innocently. "What? I do sometimes."
James, still laughing, grinned as the door finally clicked open. "Aaaand we're in!"
Peter stood up, folding the Invisibility Cloak up and passing it over to James. "Do you really bark when you—?" he began to ask Sirius, but James quickly cut him off.
"Of course he doesn't, Pete. We all know that Sirius just calls out his own name there at the end." All three friends shared a chuckle at Sirius's expense.
"Been watching your mates shag?" Remus teased. "You abuse that Invisibility Cloak too much, Prongs."
James laughed and rolled his eyes. "Please. If I abused the cloak, I would have done so to sneak into the prefect's bathroom."
Sirius chuckled as he led the way into the empty classroom and toward the office in the back which was shockingly left with only a simple Locking Charm. "Yeah, and get a glimpse at Evans. Do you think the carpets match the—?"
"Watch it," James warned his best friend, all sense of humour gone from his face. "That's the future Mrs Potter you're talking about."
Sirius ignored the words of warning. "The only Mrs Potter in your life, mate, is the one who tucks you in bed."
James smirked. "She tucks you in too."
"That's cause I'm her favourite son," Sirius said with a grin.
Remus shook his head at his friends as the door to the office was opened. "Prongs, I hate to tell you this, but after what the two of your pulled with Snape, I don't see Lily giving you the time of day in the foreseeable future."
James rolled his eyes and stepped into the office, casting a Wand Lighting Charm to make sure there was nothing in their path to run into that would make noise and alert the castle to their break in. "We might have taken the thing with Snivellus a little far," he admitted, looking almost remorseful, "but you heard what he called her. If anything, we just revealed his true colours. She'll thank me in the end, just you watch."
Remus sighed and shook his head, tempted to argue the point, but Sirius venturing off unsupervised pulled his attention.
"Is this the Probity Probe?" he asked with a bright grin as he reached out to touch a long stick that looked old enough to have once belonged to Merlin.
"No," Remus said, intercepting Sirius's hand before he could touch it.
Undeterred, Sirius quickly moved his attention to a glowing cane in the corner of the room that had a blue stone inside a crystal ball at the top. "Is this?" he asked, reaching out to run his fingers over the orb.
Remus groaned in frustration, grabbing at his friend once more. "Sirius, stop touching things if you don't know what they are. There could be dangerous items in here."
"So, are you going to see MacDonald over the summer?" James asked from across the room, browsing through a large book on the desk.
Remus looked up. "What? No, of course not."
"Moony can't date exclusively," Sirius said as he fiddled through a small box in the corner with something that sounded like either gold coins or nuts and bolts. "He and I are going to be bachelors forever! Out on the prowl! Witches, look out!"
"What about me?" James asked.
Sirius barked a laugh. "The last time you played wingman, you ended up drinking too many butterbeers and inventing a song called, 'Lily, Why Can't You See Me?'"
Remus smirked. "She sees you just fine . . . toe rag."
"What is a toe rag anyway?" Peter asked as he leant against the desk near James, nervously fiddling with his robes.
"It's obvious innit?" Sirius said confidently. "It's a thing Muggles use to clean their feet. It's called a toe rag."
Remus just shook his head.
Peter scoffed. "Yeah well, a Probity Probe turned out to not be a pro—"
"Watch it, Pete!" James snapped, reflexively reaching over to catch a small glass ball that Peter's elbow had knocked over. "You almost broke this thing," he said, placing the artefact back on the desk. "What is it?"
Across the room, Sirius nearly jumped over Remus, launching himself toward Peter and James. "Lemme touch it!"
"It's just a ball," James said with a smirk, tossing it back and forth in his hands. "Hey Padfoot, wanna play fetch?" he asked, holding the glass orb up in front of his friend who laughed and grinned at him.
"Ball! Ball! Gimme the ball! Throw the ball!"
Remus swallowed, following the orb with his eyes anxiously. "You three are making me nervous."
Sirius pouted, snatching the ball out of the air when James tossed it to him. "Aww, Moony's left out. I'm not the only canine in the room. Moony want the ball?" he asked, using the same tone of voice that James had. "Moony want to play fetch?"
Remus growled indignantly. "I'm going to bite you one of these days."
James smirked. "Is that what you said to MacDonald?"
"Oh Moony," Peter chimed in with a mock falsetto voice, "what big teeth you have."
"The better to nibble all your bits with, my dear," James growled teasingly, stalking toward Peter who pretended to faint.
Sirius smiled at the werewolf who was rolling his eyes at his friends. "You need to relax, mate," he said. "Here, catch."
"Sirius, be careful!"
The glass ball was tossed gently to Remus but just a hair too far out of reach. Panicked, he moved forward, stretching his long arms in hopes of snatching the ball out of the air before it crashed into the ground. As the orb came down toward his hand, Remus caught sight of it, up close, noting immediately that it was not as smooth and flawless as he had originally believed. A spindle hung off of one end of it with a small handle-shaped protrusion that spun as it flew toward him. When his hand gripped around the ball, the golden spindle pricked the centre of his palm. "Ouch. Shit."
James frowned. "You all right?"
"Yeah." Remus winced, more in irritation than pain. "It's got a sharp thing on the end, and it cut me," he said, rubbing the blood from his palm off on his trousers and then holding the ball up to see if it was stained. His eyes widened when a drop of crimson liquid fell from the spindle onto the glass and it began emitting a soft light.
Sirius's gaze hardened, and he took a step toward Remus, his stance protective. "Why's it glowing like that?" he asked, all mirth gone from his tone.
Remus stared at the glowing ball, unable to turn his focus away from it as the light grew brighter; the orb warmed and pulsed in his hand as though it had a heartbeat of its own. He could hear his friends only through muffled shouts as they tried to approach him only to be held back by some sort of shield that glowed the same colour as the glass. He vaguely thought he heard James yell, "Remus put it down!" before he felt a strange tug behind his navel that felt similar to a Portkey but much, much more uncomfortable.
"Guys," he said, looking up to see all three of his friends waving their wands, attempting to break through the shield. "I don't feel so—"
Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place
"You worry too much, Moony, my friend."
The old werewolf rolled his eyes and sighed as he followed his best friend up the many stairs toward the attic of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. "I think I worry an adequate amount given the circumstances, Padfoot," he admitted, ignoring the way that some of the paintings on the walls narrowed their eyes at him as he passed.
Sirius had not been able to remove the portrait of his deceased mother, but the other paintings of old Black ancestors were not permanently stuck. They were, however, silenced, and Sirius kept them on the walls for his own amusement. Before he got around to silencing them for the sake of peace, Sirius enjoyed flaunting his blood-traitor status in the faces of the portraits, and he once even told his great-great grandmother that he was planning on running away with Remus. She had rolled her eyes and said that if Sirius had planned on making her feel scandalised over a little bit of homosexuality then he had another thing coming. She did not give a hair for his sexual preference—which Remus knew to be settled around anything that could offer the poor man a bit of love and warmth, regardless of gender, blood status, or species—but old Ursula Black nee' Flint sure did draw a line when she found out that Remus was a werewolf.
"Keep that thing out of our family!" she had screamed.
"Sirius isn't my type anyway," Remus growled at the painting.
"Yeah." Sirius grinned. "Don't think he won't still end up in the family tree, though. I caught him last week with his hand up Nymphadora's jumper."
Remus had blushed, shocked that he had been caught groping a witch thirteen years younger than him—and Sirius's little cousin. He made to apologise, but Sirius laughed him off saying that if anyone needed a good shag it was Remus. Also, Tonks had had taken a fancy to him long before they had been paired up on missions together when the Order had been reformed after Voldemort's return.
"It's just a bunch of old crap in an attic," Sirius said, trying to hide the way he winced a bit as he continued climbing the stairs. He was not willing to admit aloud that Azkaban had taken a serious physical toll on his body, and that the last few years on the run, starving, had left him poorly aged. Sirius overcompensated by pretending that he was still in his early twenties, hiding his aches and pains with Healing Charms and Anti-Inflammatory Potions. And, of course, a liberal use of firewhisky. "Yes, my family collected dark toys from time to time, but I'm sure it's nothing we can't handle."
Remus sighed. "I'm not worried about the artefacts, Pads; I'm worried about you touching things."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "I'm not an idiot. Or some child who can't keep his hands to himself, you know. I do have some semblance of self-control."
"I'd rather do this on my own."
Pushing open the attic door, Sirius shooed Kreacher away. The elf obeyed, looking like he was hoarding things in his filthy loincloth as he moved toward the door. "Well I'm bored," Sirius said, narrowing his eyes at the elf who glared at him murderously before bowing his head and then leaving. "Deal with it."
Remus frowned. "That bad?" he asked, shoving his hands into the pockets of his second-hand robes that were held together by far too many Reparo Charms.
"Stuck in this place with only the occasional Order member coming through to keep me company?" Sirius frowned looking genuinely remorseful. "I'm an arsehole for looking forward to the full moon because I know you'll be here." Remus reached out, putting a hand on his friend's shoulder. Sirius took it immediately, savouring the momentary affection that he only allowed from Remus, Tonks, and occasionally Molly Weasley when the witch came by to fill the cupboards with food in the hopes of fattening Sirius up good and proper.
"I can't even talk to Harry." Sirius sighed, letting go of Remus's hand. "Bloody Umbridge."
Remus nodded, scowling at the witch's name in solidarity with his best friend. The old toady woman had been a thorn in his side for years now as she tried to repeatedly pass legislation against werewolves that made his life dramatically worse. Now, she was making more lives awful since she had taken over Hogwarts, ousted Dumbledore, and made a genuine enemy of Harry, and thus, all of the boy's friends. It gave Remus a great deal of pleasure knowing that James's son had taken what little he had been able to teach him during the one year was a professor, now using it to educate his fellow students, creating a group to fight back against Umbridge's ridiculous rules regarding Defence Against the Dark Arts.
"It'll be over soon," he said softly when he noticed Sirius begin to retreat a bit into himself the way he often did when he drowned in the guilt regarding James and Lily's deaths. "Harry will come home, and Dumbledore will restore order to Hogwarts."
Sirius nodded, running a hand through his hair in frustration, and then begun digging through several boxes in the corner. He tossed away old jewellery as he subsequently waved his wand over items, looking for traces of Dark Magic. "If Fudge doesn't have him arrested."
"Fudge is an idiot," Remus said as he browsed through the books on the shelf along the wall, noting several titles he knew would need to be specially disposed of by Sirius himself as they were cursed by Black family specific blood wards.
"Most politicians are. I have a special dislike for that bastard, though. He was there when I was arrested."
Remus frowned. "I remember."
Sirius turned and smiled sadly. "Don't get all morose on me, Moony. It's over and done with," he said with a tone of finality that left no room for argument, though they'd had more than one about the subject over the last two years. It usually happened whenever Remus tried to apologise for not trying to help Sirius when he had been arrested, for believing the media instead of trusting his instincts, for not, at the very least, visiting Sirius in Azkaban to hear the man's version of the story.
"The past is in the past. Hey! Look at this!" he proclaimed loudly, drawing Remus's attention as he reached into the bottom of a large box, withdrawing a glass orb. "Wanna play fetch?"
Remus looked at the item curiously, as though he were having a sense of deja vu. "Sirius, maybe you shouldn't—"
"Here, Moony, catch!"
The glass ball was tossed gently to Remus, but just a hair too far out of reach. Panicked, he darted forward, stretching his long arms in hopes of snatching the ball out of the air before it crashed into the ground. As the orb came down toward his hand, Remus caught sight of it up close, noting that it was not as smooth and flawless as he'd originally believed. A spindle hung off of one end of it with a small handle-shaped protrusion that spun as it flew toward him. Just before the glass came down, spindle side toward the centre of his palm, Remus instinctively pulled his hand away, watching in shock as the glass ball crashed into the hardwood floor, smashing into pieces.
"Sirius . . ."
"You didn't catch it."
"Of course not!" Remus snapped. "Who knows what this could have . . ." He blinked, looking down at the ground as the shards of glass began to glow. Dashing across the room, Remus put an arm out across his friend's chest protectively. "Sirius, get back!"
Sirius's grey eyes widened as the glowing shards brightened to a blinding level before disappearing entirely. When his gaze adjusted to the lack of light in the room again, he focused on a shadowy shape in the room, standing on the spot where the broken glass orb had recently been. "Uh oh."
Remus had his wand drawn instantly on the figure. "Drop your wand!" he growled fiercely, his glowing golden eyes widening as the figure turned, limbs shaking. "Merlin," he whispered.
"You can't Apparate inside Grimmauld . . ." Sirius muttered as his mouth fell open. "Oh, shit," he said in shock when he recognised the person standing before them. "Moony?"
The old werewolf's lips parted and the colour drained from his face as he stared into the eyes of the frightened boy in front of them. "Pads, what have you done?"
Sirius swallowed hard and lowered his wand. "Remus, please tell me you knocked up some witch fifteen or so years ago, and that's your kid."
The boy—sixteen-year-old Remus Lupin—slowly turned around to face the two men, his soft green eyes briefly glowing gold in the dying light. His left hand was tightly clenched as though he were holding onto something that was no longer there. His right palm was bleeding as it held tightly onto the cypress wand in his grip. He looked up, clearly unaware of his current surroundings as his attention fell on a head of familiar black hair. "S-Sirius?"