Harry read through the will twice; the budget for Nymphadora's horror film, he thought, had just greatly expanded. But that wasn't the main thing on his mind. "This isn't just funny, though," he said, handing the parchment back. "This could be it, Sirius. This is somebody important to Regulus who we didn't even know about; we've got to find her and find out what she – "
Sirius shook his head. "The Aurors have to find her and find out what she knows. I have to write exams and you have to study for them." Noticing Harry's incredulous look, he continued, "You've been incredibly helpful, but right now you need to have different priorites. No more investigating until after school ends."
Harry couldn't believe it. Just when they'd learned something that might bring them so close – "We just found out Regulus had a fiancée – a Muggle-born fiancée – "
"Half-blood fiancée," Sirius said.
"Whatever – and you're telling me to forget about it for now and go study?"
"That's exactly what I'm telling you," said Sirius, rising from his seat. "It's my job to take care of you, not to recruit you to help solve my problems."
"They're my problems too," Harry said, feeling heat and anger rise in his face. He couldn't see how Sirius didn't understand that – couldn't see how, if Harry was the most important person to Sirius, Sirius would think that his own life had nothing to do with Harry. "Regulus probably got killed by the Malfoys, and even if they're not my relatives, I've had to deal with them trying to get me in trouble and expelled and dead. What about Lupin? He was convicted partly for betraying my parents, remember?"
"Of course I remember."
"It was my name he was writing in blood all over his cell, and my house he left Regulus's diary in, and me who he's probably trying to protect with blood magic, so don't give me some crap about – "
Sirius's eyes flashed. "Let's get one thing straight right now," he said. Harry saw that he was gripping Regulus's will. "I am your godfather, I am in charge of your welfare, and you do not speak to me like that, do you understand?"
"What, now you're going to tell me how I'm allowed to talk?"
"That's exactly what I'm going to do. I don't have a high tolerance for rudeness with Kreacher, I don't have it with Draco, and I'm not going to have it with you."
The comparison to Kreacher and Malfoy made Harry's heart pound faster with rage. He wasn't sure which made him angrier: the fact that Sirius was keeping him from finding the truth about Regulus and Lupin, or the fact that someone who seemed to have spent his life breaking rules was demanding that he keep what surely had to be the most unfair rule in the world. "If you think I'm like them – " he began.
Suddenly, Sirius's grip on the will lessened. "I don't think you're like them," he said, sitting back down again. "Let's just stop for a second. We don't need to shout at each other about this."
His face still flushed and his thoughts still simmering, Harry forced himself to sit in the other red armchair.
Sirius ran his fingers back through his hair and exhaled slowly. "I'm not saying you need to be entirely out of the loop about what's going on," he said, pressing the pad of his thumb against the space betwen his eyebrows. Guiltily, Harry wondered if he had just started one of Sirius's headaches. "And I'm sorry if it sounded like I thought that none of this affects you. But you've got less than two months before school ends, Quidditch is out of the way for the year, Brutus has a good grip on Buckbeak's appeal, and I'd love to see you do wonderfully on your exams. I think that up until now you've been too distracted by other things to produce the work you're really capable of. There's no good reason why a third-year who can produce a half-formed Patronus should be getting eighty-two percent in Charms, or why anyone should have seventy-nine percent in Divination."
"That's because it's all rubbish," Harry muttered.
"I know it's all rubbish. That's why it shouldn't be difficult." Sirius caught Harry's eye. "There's no rule saying Hermione Granger is the only third-year Gryffindor allowed to have all her marks in the high nineties."
Harry relaxed; now that he'd had a minute to step back and think about it, he wouldn't have liked it either if someone had shouted at him not to give them some crap. "She thinks you don't like her, you know," he told Sirius. "Hermione."
Sirius looked confused. "She thinks what?"
"She thinks you don't like her. It's because you're the only teacher who doesn't tell her she's brilliant or clever or anything."
"So she thinks that means I don't like her?"
"Oh, for God's sake." Sirius turned to put Regulus's will back on his desk. "If I don't tell Hermione that she's brilliant or clever, it's because I don't think she needs to hear that she's brilliant or clever. Your dad and I got told we were brilliant and clever all the time, and it went to our heads and we thought we could do whatever we wanted and get away with it."
"Hermione's not like that, though, I don't think," said Harry. "She always goes to sleep late because she's up going over school stuff. It's kind of like - like if somebody doesn't tell her she's brilliant and clever, maybe she's not anymore. I think that's why she's taking so many classes. She's got to be the best at everything."
"Well, believe me," Sirius said, "Hermione is always going to be vastly intelligent no matter what anyone tells her. She'll figure that out eventually."
Harry took a deep breath. "Sorry I yelled at you," he said. "I thought you were saying that everything with Regulus didn't have anything to do with me – "
"I didn't mean that at all," Sirius said. "Apology accepted." With a grim smile, he added, "Let's try not to do this again – I think we both had our fill of long family fights a long time ago."
When Harry arrived at his dormitory, he discovered that his trunk was open and the Marauder's Map was gone.