Mother always said he would lead a dog's life, wretched and ignoble. Lying before the fire with a lovely woman running her hands through his hair, Sirius made a sound of deep contentment. The battleaxe had been dead wrong. It was good to be Snuffles.

"I love your ears, they're so silky."

Shifting to place his head in Cami's lap, the wizard currently in Animagus form looked up at the woman who had asked if she might borrow him for the night. Although he knew that her hair was brown and her eyes hazel, Sirius wished dogs weren't red-green colour blind. Camillia Llewellyn was his cousin's mate from the Blue Moon. Tonks lived in a flat above the enquiry agency run by her Uncle Morty, and had introduced Sirius, in a matter of speaking, to her friend after taking Snuffles on a run one morning.

He'd liked Cami right off. She'd immediately knelt down to pet him in ways that demonstrated she had the right kind of experience with dogs. She'd also noticed he was part Newfoundland, and had amazing definition, showing her intelligence and good taste. When he'd sneakily licked her lips and she'd laughed instead of going, "Eeuwww," along with Tonks, Sirius had felt his heart leap. Waiting around for Harry to need him hadn't seemed so terrible anymore. The boy was busy with school and the Triwizard Tournament. Sirius would happily spend his time getting to know Cami.

Tonks hadn't been keen on the idea, and refused to set him up. How unfair. So what if he was a fugitive with nothing on offer. He had good qualities. Sadly, as many times as he'd cajoled and whined for Tonks to throw him a bone, his formerly sweet and thoughtful cousin had remained adamant. She'd even gone so far as to set up Cami with another bloke. Nymphadora was lucky Remus confessed the other couple had no chemistry and spent most of the night discussing dogs. Sirius would've jinxed her otherwise.

As Snuffles, however, he'd had numerous encounters with Cami since that first meeting. Using every persuasive power at his command, he'd licked her face and hand and given the woman looks that had cadged him many a chicken leg. The object of his affection never failed to smile meltingly in return, stroking and rubbing him in ways Sirius longed to feel on human skin.

"Merlin, what a deep sigh! Are you sad tonight, too?"

Her voice was husky with tears. Wanting to comfort her as a man, Sirius made do with reaching up to lick the hand currently rubbing the fur on his head in soothing, circular motions.

Cami glanced down and smiled. It was lopsided and made his heart turn over. Poor girl, her Muggle father had disowned her when he'd learned she was a witch. After years of estrangement, the bastard did the world a favour and died. His final request was that his daughter not be notified until after the funeral. She'd turned to Tonks instead of Firewhiskey when her mother's letter arrived earlier that day. Sirius thanked his lucky stars that she had.

"Now those are happy, throaty sounds. People don't appreciate the simple things like dogs do. We make life so complicated, put conditions on everything. Why can't there be a man out there like you?"

He rolled onto his back so he could tilt his head to better watch the expressions crossing her face. Cami began ruffling the fur between his front legs. He made a chuffing sound. It tickled.

"Like that, do you?"

Yeah, he liked it. In fact, he loved it when she smoothed her palms up his chest, or slid her fingers along his sides. Because her mother bred Corgis, Cami knew just how to relax him and make him feel cared for. He wished he could do the same for her.

"I'd like to brush you, but you need a bath." Levering herself up, she said, "Snuffles, come!"

Immediately, he jumped up, ears perking forward. Trailing Cami, he noticed her flat was much tidier than his cousin's. Somehow he didn't think it was as colourful, though. Inside the lavatory, he leapt into the tub unasked. Cami's laugh was only a bit shaky. "I've never seen a dog so eager for a bath."

Sirius couldn't remember the last time he'd seen a woman in the bath. Imprisonment and his current fugitive status were hardly conducive to romantic activity. Thinking back, though, he couldn't remember a woman ever washing his hair. Pathetically grateful, Sirius licked her face when she bent down to reach for the shampoo.

Cami giggled, adjusting the water temperature and wetting his thick black coat. "You never have dog breath. Does Tonks feed you brushing/flossing mints?"

He chewed them himself, actually, because Blacks were a bit quirky about dental hygiene. Azkaban had almost driven him mad. Not because of the Dementors or the rats eaten to survive, but because mints, along with other basics like proper food, were considered unnecessary by those that condemned him to life in prison without a trial or possibility of parole.

"Oh my gods, you look so adorable soapy!"

If she could see him as a man covered in bubbles, Camillia would change that adjective to irresistible. Especially now that he'd gained weight and taken care of much needed personal grooming. Panting in amusement, Sirius thought that in her wet tee, Cami looked sexy. Not that he could do anything about it, but he enjoyed the view anyway. It was something else he hadn't experienced in a depressing number of years.

"I love black hair. Know any human males with your shade, gorgeous?"

Yes, me. Tempted to nod, he waited until his fur was rinsed and shook off the water.

"Aahh! Snuffles, no!" she yelped. His tail wagged vigorously when she laughed. "Merlin, I'm soaked!"

He barked a protest when she used a drying spell. Clambering out of the tub, he gave her a mournful look. So much for his fantasy about her stripping off wet clothes. Cami grinned. "You rogue, working your doggie wiles on me." She kissed the top of his head. "I'm a sucker for a handsome dog. Come on, let's go find a brush."

They resumed their position before the fire. Being brushed felt wonderful. Satisfied sounds rumbled up from his throat.

"Your current master doesn't do this for you often, hmm? I'd take so much better care of you. Look at your paws. Those nails need trimming badly. Let me get my wand."

Sirius had never been so pampered in his life. The fact that he had to transform into a canine to receive such treatment was inconsequential. Camillia was a fine woman, and not just in her caring nature. Wet fabric had outlined fit curves that he yearned to trace with his hands, and lips, and . . . best not go there.

Hearing his whimper, Cami put down the brush. "Need to go outside? Let me put on a jacket and get your leash."

He didn't want to get up, but she'd already risen and headed for the front door. He obligingly followed. Downstairs, she led him out into the small communal garden, where he wandered onto the grass. Looking back, he saw that she was watching. He gave a woof.

"What, are you shy? Fine, I won't look. See, I'm turning my back," she said.

Sirius was glad he made her laugh instead of cry like her father. He was also tempted to follow her into the loo later and see how she liked being observed on the toilet. Taking care of necessary functions, he ambled back. Cami's breath was visible in the cold air that felt nice to him, insulated as he currently was. Sirius nudged her leg.

"Done, Mr. Modest?" She led him upstairs. "I need cocoa to warm me up. Chocolate's not good for dogs, so you get water, big boy."

He tried not to grumble enviously while she sipped cocoa and he lapped water.

"Want a biscuit? It's ginger, not chocolate, so I don't have to feel too guilty." Seeing the way his head lifted eagerly, Cami marvelled, "You are the most amazing dog I've ever met. It's like you know what I'm saying, you're so responsive."

If she thought he was responsive now. Gods, what he'd give to be having this conversation as a man. Unable to help it, he whined a bit while eating his cookie.

"Are you hinting for another? All right, I can't resist that look."

He almost howled, envisioning her being unable to resist one of his seductive looks. Instead, he returned to the fire and flopped down. Cami sat beside him and began petting his back while staring at the flames.

"When I was little, my father used to make me cocoa. We would sit in the lounge and take turns saying what shapes appeared to us in the fire. I use to see fanciful things like faeries dancing. Dad saw practical items like tyre irons and torches."

Scooting over to rub his cheek against her thigh, "Snuffles" was rewarded with a small smile. Cami said, "I wish you'd been my dog. Maybe I wouldn't have cried so much after the letter from Hogwarts came and Dad didn't make me cocoa anymore." Her lips twisted. "I was such a Daddy's girl, wanting to be a detective, reading all those girl sleuth books, begging to hear about his cases. To go from being his favourite to being considered a freak hurt so bad," she confessed on a sob, "It still hurts."

He stood. She hugged him and buried her face against his side, tears sinking into his fur. Sirius ached to transform, to hold her in his arms. He didn't because that would traumatise her even more. Cami might've joked that Tonks had the best looking fugitive from justice for a cousin, but that didn't mean she'd be thrilled to see him.

If only Tonks would pave the way, talk about him; tell her mate the reasons why she knew he was innocent and put in a good word. Surely they could work something out. Look at Remus. If a werewolf could have a relationship, why couldn't Sirius?

"Why does crying always make me sleepy? Come on, Snuffles, let's go to bed."

He stood still for a moment. Should he really sleep with her when she didn't know there was a man's mind appreciating the woman he saw with canine eyes? At the doorway to her bedroom, Cami patted her leg. "Come on, love, last one on the bed gets no pillow."

The way he bounded past made her laugh. She laughed harder to see him curled in the centre of the bed. Shaking her head, Cami pulled off her tee. "Nice try, Snuffles, but you're not going to take your half in the middle." Not noticing his unwavering regard, she took a nightshirt out of a drawer and pulled it on before telling him, "When I get back from the loo, I'm pushing your furry arse over."

The illumination orb dimmed, bringing his head up. Cami's nightshirt was short, and obviously a favourite. It was thin and worn. How nice for him. She crawled across the bed to push him over a bit. Her silhouette was lovely. He hoped to see her do that again one day when he was a man and neither of them wore clothing.

She lay down on her side, facing him, fingers smoothing his fur in a reflexive way that seemed to soothe her as much as him. Sleepy-eyed, she whispered, "I'm so damned grateful not to be alone tonight. Since my ex found a new drinking partner, I might've gone to a bar and woken up tomorrow wondering where I was and what the hell I'd done." He rolled over onto his back. Cami gave a watery giggle. "Stop whinging and start petting, right?" His content rumbles appeared to cheer her. When he rolled back onto his side, she pecked him on the snout. Sirius restrained himself to licking her cheek.

"Want me to sing you a lullaby, Snuffles?" Taking his muzzle in her hand, she made him nod. "All right, I'll sing something you probably haven't heard before."

She sang words that sounded Welsh.

Huna blentyn yn fy mynwes,
Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon;
Breichiau mam sy'n dyn am danat,
Cariad mam sy dan fy mron...

Cami broke off, crying the choked, silent tears that hurt him to see. One hand clutching his fur, she cried herself to sleep.

In the middle of the night, Sirius gave in to temptation. He transformed back into a wizard and cast a wandless Sleep Charm on the woman beside him. Slowly and carefully, he pulled her into his arms. Seeing the rich colour of her hair, warm tone of her skin, and pink lips was worth the physical discomfort of not acting on his desire. It was enough to feel the warmth of her body and the silken hair spilling across his chest and shoulder. Her hand stroked his chest like he was still in dog form.

Should he kiss her? He imagined Remus frowning, shaking his head no. That wasn't the answer he wanted. James wouldn't be such an old woman. A vision of the man who'd been best friend and brother flashed into mind. For the first time in years, the image didn't bring a wave of self-hatred. Instead, his eyes became misty, but a smile crossed Sirius's face. In his vision, hazel eyes were mischievous, and James's grin was encouraging.

Cami's lips were soft, warm, and so incredibly sweet that Sirius almost rescinded the Sleep Charm. Unfortunately, his common sense and a combined memory of James and Remus yelling, "Are you mental?" stopped him in his tracks. Before he could ease away and transform back into Snuffles, though, feminine eyelashes fluttered open.

"You look scrummy now," she said in a sleep drugged voice.

He grinned. "I do?"

Eyes closing, she mumbled, "I'm dreaming that Sirius Black is my lover again? I've got to take that poster off the office wall."

His darling Camillia said the most interesting things in her sleep. He kissed her forehead and whispered, "Are they good dreams?"

She sighed, even as her breathing slowed. "You're the best I ever had, sad to say."

Sirius was ecstatic. Cami dreamt about him as a man. He was the best she'd ever had. Kissing her cheek, he slipped out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he winked. "You've still got it, Black." His grin stayed fix all through a cold shower. Returning to bed, he promised before transforming, "One day, love, I'm going to make those dreams come true."

When the morning sunlight caused him to scrunch his eyes closed to try and fall back asleep, slender fingers tickled his side. "Wake up, gorgeous."

Was she offering an incentive to rise and shine? He'd gladly take her up on it. Opening his eyes to tell Cami so, Sirius blinked. He was colour blind and a canine. Damn. He'd forgotten.

"After I take a shower, I'll fix you another steak and take you back to Tonks." She took off the nightdress, but she was facing the wrong way. He whimpered. Looking back over her shoulder, Cami smiled. "I'll hurry."

Frustrated, he rolled off the bed and accidentally knocked the clock off the side table. Thank Merlin it didn't break. He was short of funds and couldn't replace it. Deciding to make the best of the situation, he padded over to the nightdress and nudged it with his nose, breathing deeply. She had a great scent.

"That's not a toy, silly," Cami scolded when she returned a short while later. Impulsively, he bit the fabric, refusing to release it. They played tug of war. Letting go the moment he sensed she was about to, Sirius woofed his amusement when she landed on her arse, giggling. He wagged his tail and strutted to the kitchen.

Cami conjured a rare steak for him and some unappetising porridge for herself. He'd hated that stuff growing up. Walburga never believed in coddling children with milk or sugar. He watched Cami read the Prophet, content to be with her. Catching his intent stare, she lifted her spoon. "Want a bite?"

He backed away rapidly. She snickered. Folding the paper, Cami cleared the dishes and tossed him a brushing/flossing mint. He chomped down on it, feeling warm and fuzzy inside. She'd remembered.

Before they left, Cami knelt down and hugged him, ruffling his fur. "Oh, Snuffles, I don't want to let you go. I want to keep you, but I can't, so I'll just have to hope that your owner never comes back and one day you'll be mine.

He stared into her eyes, inwardly repeating the words as a promise. And one day you'll be mine.

The walk over to the Blue Moon was quiet and peaceful, the city only beginning to stir. Sirius imagined walking together as a couple, holding hands. He didn't mind a bit when his cousin didn't answer her door. Hopefully, she was cuddled up with Remus at his place, and Cami would have to take him to work with her.

"Let's go see Morty next door."

Raking a hand through his spiky salt and pepper hair, Orion Mortimer Black answered her knock and offered the coffee cup in his hand. "Here, if you find Tonks on the roof with her beau, this might be the only thing that saves you from a hex." Scratching his chest, Morty shook his head. "Sad, how addicted that girl is to caffeine." As he closed the door, he said, "I hope there's another cup left in the pot for me."

Snuffles and Cami found Remus and Tonks lying entwined on a double lounger. The girl was ace at Warming Charms, but awoke cranky, demanding coffee. Touched by Cami's declaration that she'd "treat him like a king and love him forever" if his owner never returned, Snuffles licked her face devotedly as she said goodbye.

Once the stairway door shut, Sirius transformed. He thought of how deeply last night had impacted his life. Aware of the inquisitive stares, a smile tugged the corners of his mouth. How odd. He wanted to hug the feeling to himself and yet, he couldn't resist sharing. Pulling up a chair, he dropped into it, sighing.

"I think I'm in love."



A/N: This story was inspired by chapter 16 of Once in a Blue Moon, a Tonks and Remus romance set during GoF. Sirius's story has 'legs' so it can be read on its own, but I hope it leads to an irresistible urge to read the story responsible for its creation. :D The Welsh lullabye Cami sang is Suo Gan. The lyrics translate: "Sleep my baby at my breast, 'Tis a mother's arms round you, Make yourself a snug, warm nest, Feel my love forever new."