Title: Growing Pains

Author: Kitty-kitty (of pocky)

Rating: PG / K+

Summary: When Sirius finds his hair is falling out, one of his worst nightmares, the Order gather round to offer advice - or drive him up the wall. One-shot.

Disclaimer: Not mine, J.K. Rowling's. Warner Bros. Scholastic, Bloomsbury, not mine.

Author Notes: None. I'm afraid.

Growing Pains

The members of the Order had assembled in small groups around the large round table, chattering idly as they waited for the last few stragglers. Though the Order itself was, by and large, the strangest group of people ever to gather in one room (including anime convention halls), one particularly odd person stood out among them.

"I suppose you think this is funny," Sirius grumbled, pulling a comb gingerly through his long black hair and making faces each time its teeth hit a knot. He was sitting cross-legged between Remus and Tonks, surrounded by a jumble of butterfly clips and hair slides. Occasionally, he pulled a clip out of his hair, combed some silvery potion into the strands that fell and then slotted the slide back into place.

"Sorry?" asked Remus, feigning innocence. "Funny? You? Not at all… Sirius, you shouldn't worry. Lots of men go through this at your age."

"What?" snorted Tonks. "Mid life crisis?"

"Sirius is going-" started Remus, but Tonks obviously hadn't finished.

"Here, are you finished with my clips yet or are you going to play dress-up for the whole meeting?"

Sirius ignored her and instead stopped toying with a few loose pieces of fringe to scowl at Remus. "My age?" he asked grumpily. "We're the same age!"

"I'm six months younger," said Remus. He tried to hide his smile behind his mug of coffee, but couldn't keep a mischievous glimmer out of his amber brown eyes as he added, "and much better looking."

"Four out of five dogs prefer him," said Tonks.

"Liar!" grumbled Sirius. "Anyone can see I'm the better catch! I haven't gotten middle-age spread."

"Stomach like a wash-board," Tonks agreed.

Remus's shoulders shook with suppressed laughter. "Ah, but I'm not going bald."

"Who told you I was going bald!" barked Sirius.

"You did," Remus replied, trying not to laugh out loud. "This morning. You marched downstairs and held out a clump of hair from your pillow. You then informed Molly, Arthur, Moody and I that your life was over. Remember?"

"No," sulked Sirius.

"Take it easy, Sirius. Hakuna matata. Tóg é go bóg é. You know what they say about bald men," Tonks said.

She patted his shoulder consolingly, grinning as his posture began to correct itself. While he hated the idea of being bald, he was obviously warming to the attention he was getting because of it.

"What do they say?" he asked in a voice with less of an edge.

"They say 'Look at him, he's got no hair'."

"Sirius," said Remus despairingly, giving Tonks's ankle a hard nudge under the table. "Arthur is bald, look how many children he has!"

"What year was Ginny born in, Remus?" asked Sirius sweetly.

"1980, I think…" said Remus. "Might have been 1981."

"And what year did Arthur start losing his hair?"

"… 1981? 82?" asked Remus. "Oh…"

"Sirius, I'm so sorry for your loss," said Tonks gently.

"Loss?" asked Remus.

"He's never getting laid again."

"Who's never getting laid again?" growled Moody, returning from his obligatory thorough perimeter check. Moody did one of these at the beginning of every meeting, and it was something Tonks generally delighted in watching. While she and Kingsley had been taught stealth, disguise and subtlety when staking out a location, Moody was a student of the old school. His idea of a 'perimeter check' was jumping into dark corners, wand in hand, and shouting 'AHA! GOT YOU! CONSTANT VIGILANCE!"

"Sirius," said Remus.

"I am getting laid again," said Sirius firmly.

"Who's the lucky lady?" asked Fletcher, leering at Sirius from the other side of the table.

Sirius gave him a puzzled look, unaware that he had just tuned into the conversation. "There's no lucky lady."

"Lucky - um, lucky man, then," said Emmeline. "Um…"

"Good heavens," came the shocked voice of Minerva McGonagall from the opposite end of the table. "Do you mean to tell me that Sirius… is… he… well, that he's overly fond of other men?"

"I am not fond of other men!" snapped Sirius.

"You're not fond of me, Padfoot?" asked Remus in a playfully meek voice.

"Of course I'm fond of you," growled Sirius, "but-"

"I'm very happy for both of you," Kingsley said solemnly. Sirius gave him an alarmed, dog-in-headlights look.

"Wh-" he started.

"Lupin and Black?" asked a soft, sneering voice whose owner Sirius immediately wanted to punch. "Clinging together through adversity - just like drowning rats. How very… pathetic."

"Shut it, Snape. I think it's romantic," Tonks announced.

"I, um, I agree," muttered Emmeline.

"Ah," said Fletcher playfully. "Middle aged love. Can't say I didn't guess before."

"I don't know about puppy love," said Molly, "but it's certainly canine love."

Sirius glanced over at Remus and found him sinking below the edge of the table, suffocating with silent laughter. His face had flushed bright red and tears of mirth were sliding down his face. Tonks had one arm around his shaking shoulders, and she was patting him as though she thought the pressure might be too much.

"LISTEN! YOU LOT!" roared Sirius. "Remus and I are not in love!"

A small, wheezing voice came from beneath the table as Remus managed to choke out, "so our relationship is a sham?"

"Oh, poor Remus!" cried Tonks. "Look, the poor thing's crying!"

"Shame on you, Sirius," gasped Molly, handing Remus a clean hankie.

"Typical!" said McGonagall and Ssnape together, exchanging knowing glances.

Sirius stood up before giving an incoherent snarl of sheer fury and storming right out of the room. As the door slammed shut behind him, they heard him howl 'THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR MY HAIR!"

A soft hoarse noise escaped Remus, a cross between a whimper and a sob before he erupted into a fit of helpless, breathless laughter.

"That was brilliant!" said Tonks.

"If he's not bald now, he's tearing his hair out," said Fletcher. "Poor git."