Cleaning the House

by Myka

Chapter 1

Pairing: Sirius/Remus

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Sirius and Remus are part of the world created by J.K. Rowling.

A/N: Hi, Myka here. This is my first HP fic. It came to life as part of my post-OotP depression, which I'm still not over. Hope you like.

First posted: July 2003

Revised: April 2004

beta: Amber

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"Run by me again exactly what we're suppose to do here?"

Sirius glanced at Remus, who was right beside him, as he raised his eyebrows slightly in response to the question.  Then he glanced back towards the door in front of him. "We are to make the house is breathable," he answered.

"Breathable?" Remus asked with a little bewilderment.

"Well," Sirius replied calmly, "it's been deserted for years.  Just think how much dust and things a house can accumulate in ten years."

Remus opened his mouth to give a reply but seemed to think better of it. "You have a point."

The door opened with a loud creak as both Sirius and Remus entered, closing the door immediately behind them. It was dark.

"Lumos." Sirius's wand flared with the command, filling the immediate area with light. Remus coughed.

"Sirius! I'm going to get sick with all this dust," he said, covering his mouth and nose with his hand. Sirius only looked at him briefly before giving one swift swipe with his wand at the dusty air in front of him, making most of it disappear.

"Better," Remus remarked with a slight grin.

They marched on carefully, wands at their sides, lighting every single lamp they came across. So far, so good. At the end of the hall there were two rooms and they decided to each take one to speed things up.

The room Remus entered was unusually dark, more so than any of the others they had seen before, and he was having trouble locating a lamp to light.  He finally found one after a few minutes.

"Who are you?"

Remus turned at the voice, his wand ready, but he didn't do anything. He stared, bewildered, at the life size portrait of a woman with black raven hair and a cold gaze.

"What are you doing in my house? Who are you?" she demanded more firmly.

"Remus Lupin."

She huffed. "Your name doesn't sound familiar, but only those with magic in their veins can find this house," she finished in a cold tone, rendering Remus speechless.

"Remus? What are you doing? I thought I heard voices."

Remus turned his head again to find Sirius standing petrified at the entrance of the room, a full frown on his face.

"Another one?" the woman asked irritated. "Get out of my house, both of you!" she ordered.

Sirius ignored her words as he stood in front of the portrait, grabbing one of its corners.

"What do you think you're doing?!" The woman screamed. "Get out of my house!"

Sirius glared at her as he grabbed the portrait's other corner. "This is my house now... mother."

She shrieked the moment the words were spoken as she recognized who stood before her. "YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE... DEMON CHILD, TRAITOR..."

Sirius paid no attention to her cursing as he tried to pull the portrait from the wall. But to his huge disappointment, the damn thing just wouldn't budge. Remus was instantly there to help him, grabbing spots on the portrait just beside Sirius and pulling with all his might.

"It's not moving Sirius! It must have some kind of permanent sticking charm to it."

"I noticed!" Sirius bellowed as he continued to try to pull the corners of the portrait out. He wanted this portrait out of the house, gone. He didn't want to see his mother's pale face or hear her stupid complaints ever again.

"Padfoot, watch out!"

Sirius had a brief second to look up after the warning, just long enough to see his mother's claws extending beyond the painting and reaching toward him maliciously. But the claws never reached him as his body was pulled aside with force by Remus. Sirius managed not to lose his footing and quickly turned back toward the portrait of his screaming mother as he summoned a pair of curtains with one swing of his wand. She disappeared behind the curtains' cover and instantly became quiet.

"I hate this house," Sirius muttered under his breath, glad that his mother's voice was no longer audible. "Thanks for the aid, Re -- Moony! You're bleeding!"

Remus looked down at where Sirius was pointing to see his robes torn and soaked with blood. "She must have caught me when I pushed you," he said calmly as he touched the wound. "Must be a scratch. It doesn't even hurt."

Sirius frowned at him as he snatched Remus's hand and dragged him forward with him. "Even if it's just a scratch, we need to treat it," he said with worry.

Remus felt the heat creep up his face at the contact, and even if he was a little embarrassed, he let himself be dragged by Sirius.

"Sit," Sirius ordered in a protective tone as he pointed at one of the stools in the kitchen. Remus sat down without hesitating. Sirius pulled up the sleeve on Remus's robe, exposing the so-called 'scratch' and instantly frowned. "You didn't need to do that, Moony. I can take care of myself."

"It was just a reflex," Remus tried to explain in his defense. "I couldn't help it."

"Hmph," Sirius remarked. "Stop it. You're making me blush."

Remus looked up at the comment, unable to stop himself. He noticed Sirius's dark bangs as they fell over his eyes. He was indeed handsome.

"Well, it doesn't look too bad, but I'm no healer, so I can't really tell. The best I can do is bandage it."

"That will be fine," Remus answered quietly as he gazed once again at the floor.

After the wound was bandaged, they continued their inspection of the house, covering all the portraits they found with curtains as they went along. After an hour, they were finally done with the first floor.

"Be alert, Remus, some of the steps have accumulated grime, they could be slippery." Remus nodded and watched his step more closely as he went up the stairs up to the second floor. He couldn't stop gazing around at what a young Sirius had once called 'home.' He remembered the horror stories he used to hear about this house and his family and how much he wanted to be free of it. He had been so happy when James's parents took him in.

"Sirius?" Remus called tentatively.

"What?"

"Do you remember when you left this house?" he asked calmly. "I remember. I remember asking you why you left. You told me I was part of the reason, but when I asked what you meant, you said that you weren't ready to tell me then." Remus stared at Sirius with determination on his face. "Could you tell me now?"

There was a moment of deep silence between them, and for a while Remus thought that his question would remain unanswered.

Sirius sighed. "One night I told my mom that I knew someone who was bitten by a werewolf and got turned into one. Back then I still had a little hope that there might be some sort of soft spot in her heart, but I was wrong. All she said was that I shouldn't get near that person and that whoever it was should have been killed the second they were infected, that there was no place in the world for wizards like that." Sirius noticed that Remus chose to stare down as he spoke, as if there were something immensely interesting on the floorboards. Sirius placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "I left the house a week after that. Do you see now why I didn't tell you before?"

Remus nodded slowly but couldn't bring himself to speak or even look up. After so many years, those type of words still hurt.

"She was wrong, Moony, so wrong.  How could someone not love you?"

Their eyes met and a warm comforting feeling washed over Remus as Sirius smiled at him.

"Thank you, Sirius," he replied gently as a smiled formed on his own lips. Sirius responded by patting his shoulder affectionately then turning around and continuing his inspection of his former home. Remus stood alone for a second.

"I know you care for me, Sirius. And still, still I'm afraid that it's not the same affection I feel for you...  I think I've fallen for you."