A/N: Lyrics are from 'Chocolate' by Snow Patrol. This is not a songfic, as the fic came first and the song came much later - the lyrics are really just there to break up the text.

The Hardest Task

'Sorry,' said the black-haired boy breathlessly, picking himself up and flashing a quick grin before he headed down the platform. Remus didn't even have a chance to tell him that it was okay, he didn't mind being knocked down, the boy left so quickly. He watched the boy climb on board the train and wondered if he was a fellow first year, despite his apparent lack of nerves, and what house he'd be in.

For Remus himself? He'd said Ravenclaw to his parents and to the man at the Werewolf Registry - the only other person to ask - but to be honest, he didn't really have an opinion at all. They could put him in any house they wanted, as long as they didn't turn around and say sorry, there'd been a mistake, they didn't let monsters in Hogwarts after all, if he wouldn't mind just getting back on the train please...

This could be the very minute
I'm aware I'm alive

'Sorry,' said Sirius, looking puzzled, 'I didn't mean to...' He trailed off, looking around the Gryffindor table at a variety of angry faces.

'Didn't mean to what? Be incredibly offensive?' said James, so fiercely that Remus was surprised; he had only known James Potter for a couple of months, but he had formed an impression of his classmate as a fairly easygoing sort of person. He was quickly revising that impression at the expression on James' face. The reaction seemed quite extreme, really, considering that the insult hadn't even been directed at him.

'We don't use that word at Hogwarts, okay? Not now, not ever,' James continued, glaring. Sirius flushed slightly, sitting up straighter.

'I didn't know! My Mum...' He stopped. 'I'm sorry,' he said again, in a quieter tone. 'I didn't realise.'

'Well, now you do,' said James. 'Don't say it again or I'll hex you.' He made the threat in a matter-of-fact way, indicating that the quarrel was over for now.

He still seemed to be waiting for something, however, and Sirius - who was not stupid, whatever else could be said about him - turned to Remus.

'I'm sorry, Remus,' he said, sounding as though he meant it, and Remus realised that this was the first time that Sirius had called him something other than 'Lupin'.

'It's fine,' said Remus, and meant it. It wasn't a nice word to use, and he was still slightly wary of Sirius and his attitude, but there are nastier words - werewolf, monster, half-breed, freak. He felt almost guilty for not being more offended, but for the moment, Remus would put up with a any number of 'Mudblood's for the experience of sharing a dormitory with three boys who talk to him, play chess with him, share sweets with him, make fun of the teachers with him.

That probably made him some kind of blood traitor or something, but for the moment he was content to be selfish.

All these places feel like home

'Sorry,' Sirius said, not looking it as he stood at the end of the bed, arms folded. James and Peter stood either side of him, looking mostly apprehensive and confused in contrast to Sirius' barely controlled anger.

Remus could only blink at them over the top of his book, unable to comprehend what was happening. They had found out his secret, come to confront him about it...and Sirius was apologising to him?

'What are you sorry for?' he said eventually, unable to think of anything else to say.

'Well,' said Sirius, looking aggressive, 'I didn't mean to just blurt it out like that, it wasn't the plan.'

Remus stared. 'You had a plan?'

'Peter and I planned to approach the subject a bit more tactfully,' said James, glaring at Sirius, who shrugged.

'Sorry,' he said again, still not looking as though he was.

'So, uh,' said Peter awkwardly, 'what's...what's it like?'

'It's...' Remus trailed off, barely able to comprehend the question. What was it like? You might as well ask 'What's yellow like?', the question made about the same amount of sense. 'Difficult,' he said eventually. He put down his book and leaned forward, frowning. 'I don't understand. When did you find out? How did you find out?'

Sirius snorted. 'We're not stupid, Remus. How long did you really think you'd be able to fool us? And why the hell didn't you tell us?' he added angrily.

Remus gaped at him. 'Well...I...I just thought...Well, I wasn't supposed to let anyone know. I thought you'd hate me if you knew.'

All three boys protested loudly at this, Sirius loudest of all.

'We're your friends!' James added. 'Did you think we'd just desert you?'

'So...you won't tell anyone, will you?' Remus said quietly.

James grinned at him and sat down on the end of the bed. 'You're really not getting this whole 'friends' concept, are you, mate? We won't breathe a word. Right, guys?'

'Of course not,' said Peter indignantly. 'Sirius?'

They all looked at Sirius, who was still standing with his arms folded. 'I won't tell a soul,' he eventually ground out. 'But you should have told us. We're your friends.'

'I...wasn't sure,' said Remus, swallowing the sudden lump in his throat.

'No more secrets,' said James decisively. He glanced around. 'We make a deal, here and now - none of us ever keep any secrets from each other. Okay?'



'No problem.'

With a name I'd never chosen

I can make my first steps

As a child of twenty-five

'Sorry,' said Sirius, not meeting Remus' eyes, but staring at the floor.

Remus just stared at him, unable to take any of this in. He knew something had happened last night, had known it from the moment he had woken up to find James, Sirius, Peter and the usual pile of sweets conspicuously absent from his bedside, and Madam Pomfrey fussing around him as though he were made of glass, but this...

For a long moment neither of them spoke. Remus opened and closed his mouth several times, trying to form a coherent sentence from the whirling confusion in his head. 'Why?' seemed the obvious question, but he decided in that moment, in a sudden flash of rage, that he really didn't care why. It was irrelevant.

Eventually, since Sirius didn't seem inclined to say anything any time soon, he asked, 'Will Snape tell?'

Sirius blinked at him uncertainly. 'I don't...I mean, Dumbledore spoke to him, but I don't know...' He trailed off. 'I don't think he'll tell.'

'But he might,' said Remus, swallowing. 'It's Snape, for god's sake, of course he'll tell. He'll do anything to get...'

'No,' interrupted Sirius, sounding more certain. 'No, he won't. Dumbledore wouldn't let him. And I'll make sure he doesn't.'

Remus laughed harshly. 'And how will you do that? Set up another of your best friends to kill him? I'm sure Peter would be willing.'


'Don't,' said Remus, more anger than he had ever felt boiling through him, anger that didn't seem to make any sense because it was Sirius, and Sirius wouldn't do this... 'Just...don't. I'm tired. Please go away.'

'Look, Remus...'

'I'm tired,' he repeated. 'Please leave me alone.'

Sirius got off the bed and started to leave the room, shoulders drooping, and Remus marvelled at how a move obviously meant to elicit pity just made him feel annoyed. I have every right to feel angry, he told himself, trying to keep hold of the anger. I'm the one who would have killed someone. He does not get to make this all about him, this is about me.

Sirius stopped just before he reached the door, and turned back.

'I am sorry, Moony.'

He shrugged. 'It's an easy word to say.'

This is the straw, final straw in the
Roof of my mouth as I lie to you

'Sorry,' said Sirius, breaking off the kiss and scrambling backwards. 'Sorry, I shouldn't have done that...'

'No, it's okay,' said Remus automatically, his mind (and his pulse) racing. 'It was just...unexpected.'

'Sorry,' said Sirius again, flushing. 'I didn't...I mean, I just...' He paused and gave Remus an odd look. 'Unexpected?' he asked with a far more Sirius-like expression.

It was Remus' turn to flush. 'Mostly unexpected.'

'Mostly unexpected?' said Sirius, moving closer. Remus found his breathing was getting shallower again and told himself to calm down.

He shrugged. 'Well, it's easy to misinterpret these things,' he said, trying to sound casual.

Sirius smiled in a predatory way. 'Is this easy to misinterpret?' he whispered and moved in for another kiss.

This one lasted longer and was far more...interesting. They finally broke apart, both breathing heavily, and Remus tried to marshal his thoughts.

'No,' he said, swallowing. 'That seemed pretty clear.'

'Still,' murmured Sirius, his mouth still dangerously close, 'perhaps I should clarify it?' He moved in again but Remus stopped him, one hand against his chest.

'What does this...' He stopped and tried again. 'I mean, why are you...' He paused again and tried to work out what he wanted to ask. What does this mean? What a stupid question! Perhaps he should point out that three months ago, he wasn't sure if he'd ever forgive Sirius for what he did, and how did he know that he wouldn't betray his trust like that again?

But Sirius' breath was tickling his face, and his hand was rubbing the back of his neck, and it was suddenly so difficult to concentrate...

He gave up. 'I think I need some more convincing.'

Just because I'm sorry doesn't mean
I didn't enjoy it at the time

'Sorry,' said Sirius, 'we should have told you before.'

'Well,' said Remus quietly, more to himself than anyone else, 'that's a debatable point.'

Sirius flashed him a look that clearly said, 'I thought this argument was settled?' Remus shrugged.

Peter blinked at them, looking completely at a loss. 'Um...how long have you...um...I mean, how long has this been...?' He waved his hands vaguely, clearly unable to bring himself to say the words.

'A few months.'

'A few months?' Peter stared at them. 'Does James know?'

Sirius nodded grimly. 'We told him this morning.'

'And didn't that go well,' murmured Remus.

'Moony...' said Sirius, a warning note in his voice.

Remus held up a hand. 'Sorry.'

Peter was still looking as though someone had hit him with a Confundus Charm. He kept shaking his head and blinking rapidly at the floor.

'Are you okay, Pete?' asked Remus gently.

'What? Oh, no...I mean, yeah, I'm fine,' he said, looking up. He sounded almost normal. 'What you guys want to do in private is your own business,' he added and even attempted a smile before his features suddenly froze in horror.

'Wait, you didn't...you haven't...in the dormitory...have you?'

Remus felt his face begin to turn red, and he didn't dare look at Sirius, who said far too quickly, 'Of course not!'

Peter turned pale. 'Oh god...'

'Pete...' Sirius began, but Peter scrambled to his feet and grabbed his books.

'Look, guys,' he said, speaking unnaturally fast, 'I'm sorry, but I just remembered, I have to meet Lily in the library. She's helping me with my Potions again.'

He scurried out of the dormitory in almost indecent haste, and the two left behind exchanged rueful glances.

'Well, that could have gone better.'

'At least he didn't start swearing,' said Remus, trying to sound light-hearted, 'or punch you, or disown you as his best friend...'

'You're not helping, Moony,' said Sirius heavily. He sat on the nearest bed and passed a hand over his eyes. 'James will come around.'

'I'm sure he will,' said Remus, wondering vaguely who he was trying to reassure. 'We just took him by surprise, that's all.' He sat down on the bed and reached out hesitantly to touch the growing bruise on Sirius' cheek.

Sirius jerked his head away and stood up. He began pacing the room and Remus watched him in silence.

'You're going to have one hell of a bruise there,' he said mildly.

Sirius shrugged. 'I've had worse. It's not the first time James has punched me.' He looked back at Remus and a familiar grin flitted across his face. 'And I doubt it'll be the last.'

Remus smiled back. 'I'm sure it won't.' Almost surprised at his own daring, he stood up and crossed the room, reaching out and putting a hand on the back of Sirius' neck.

This time, Sirius didn't reject the touch but leaned into it, their foreheads resting together. He sighed. 'Maybe you were right.'

'Surely you know by now that I'm always right?' said Remus with a humour he didn't feel. 'Which particular occasion of me being right are we talking about?'

'Maybe we shouldn't have told them.'

Remus thought about this. 'No,' he said quietly. 'You were right. I was just scared that...well, that this would happen. But they'll come around. We had to tell them. You were the one that said you hated lying to them.'

'Yes,' said Sirius, breaking the contact and straightening up, 'but I also have this strange dislike for getting punched in the face as well.' He sighed again. 'But we had to tell them.'

'We did,' Remus confirmed. 'They would have got suspicious eventually, especially if -' he swallowed '- especially if we're going to be living together after we leave Hogwarts.'

For a moment Sirius just stared at him; then his face erupted in an ear-splitting grin.

'You're serious? That's a yes?'

'It's a yes. But,' he said, holding up a warning finger as Sirius moved over to him, 'I'm paying rent. I refuse to be any kind of kept man here. And you have to start doing some washing up occasionally. I've seen your flat, remember.'

Sirius kissed him briefly. 'I'm sure we can work out the details,' he said, still grinning.


You're the only thing that I love
It scares me more every day
On my knees I think clearer

'Sorry,' said Sirius, looking horrified at his own words. 'Look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that.'

Remus looked at him, suddenly very tired. 'Yes, you did, or you wouldn't have said it. You've been wanting to say it for a while.'

'Well, maybe I have,' said Sirius angrily. 'Maybe it's because you never talk to me! You never tell me anything! What am I supposed to think?'

'Maybe you're supposed to trust me,' said Remus, his own temper flaring up. 'I mean, isn't that the point? What's the point of any of this if we don't trust each other?'

'I want to trust you, Remus, but you won't let me in! You just keep me at arm's length! And then I find out that you've been lying to me, and I don't know what to think...'

Remus forced himself to calm down, breathing deeply. 'What exactly are you accusing me of?'

Sirius looked sullen. 'I'm not accusing you of anything. I just...' He sighed heavily, got up from his chair and started pacing up and down. 'I don't know what to do.'

'You don't know what to do about what?'

He stopped pacing and looked directly at Remus. 'I love you,' he said, and Remus' heart nearly stopped - not at the words, but at the look. 'I know I've said it before, and I don't think I ever really meant it then, but I understand it now, and I do. I love you so much that it terrifies me, and I love James and Lily and Harry and Peter, and that scares me too, because this is a war, and somehow it got serious all of a sudden, and people are dying, people I care about, and I don't know...I don't know who I can trust, or who I should love... I mean, I was supposed to be able to love and trust my family and look how that turned out, so I made myself a new family, but now things are happening that can't be happening unless someone is...'

He suddenly turned and kicked the table leg, hard. 'I don't have a map, here!' he cried in frustration. 'I don't have any kind of instructions! All I know is that I have to protect the people that I love and I don't know how! And I didn't mean to fall in love with you, that wasn't meant to happen - it was just supposed to be a bit of fun and then suddenly it wasn't any more, and all I want from you,' he added suddenly, whirling around to face Remus again, 'is some kind of sign, something that says that you're there with me, that you're feeling all this too, that I can trust you, because the thing that scares me more than anything else is the thought of losing you...'

Remus swallowed, the words stuck in his throat as anger and fear and love and frustration all wrestled for control of his vocal chords. What did Sirius expect him to say?

'Padfoot, I...' He stopped.

Sirius nodded grimly. 'I suppose that's all the answer I need,' he said and grabbed his jacket from the coat-hook beside the door.

'Where are you going?'

'Out. Don't wait up.'

'I love you,' said Remus softly, but the door had already slammed.

Goodness knows I saw it coming
Or at least I'll claim I did
But in truth I'm lost for words

'Sorry,' said Sirius, looking sheepishly at the remains of the milk bottle.

'No, that's okay,' said Remus, hurrying over and clearing up the mess with a wave of his wand. 'We'll have tea without milk. Very continental.'

Sirius looked at him suspiciously. 'Don't they put lemon in it on the continent?'

'They do, but I don't have any lemons either.'

Having relaxed somewhat from the twitchy state he was in when he arrived, Sirius was now prowling round the tiny kitchen, opening cupboard doors and investigating the contents. 'You don't have much of anything, do you?' he observed.

Remus shrugged casually and poured boiling water into the teapot. 'It's been a hard year.'

Sirius stopped his restless movement and looked at him in horror. 'Sorry, Moony, I didn't think...'

'That's all right,' he said mildly. 'You haven't exactly had the easiest year either. Things would have to get really bad around here before I start eating rats,' he added with a shudder.

'It's not that difficult,' growled Sirius, resuming his pacing. 'Just imagine they're someone else.'

'Well, I was going to offer you a biscuit, but if you'd rather I tried to find a more rodenty snack for you...'

Sirius laughed - and it was a proper Sirius laugh, sounding almost bark-like. 'I think I'll be able to cope. Chocolate chip?'

'Of course.'

He took three and wandered into the sitting-room, Remus following with the tea-tray.

'So is that all Dumbledore said?' Remus asked, sitting down with his mug and watching Sirius begin to pace again. 'You can sit down, Padfoot.'

'What? Oh...right...' He looked around blankly before selecting a chair and sitting down awkwardly on the edge of it. 'Sorry. I'm not used to proper furniture. What did you ask me?'

'Was that all Dumbledore said? Just to 'alert the old crowd'?'

'Yep. He said he'd contact us here. Didn't you say he'd sent you a letter?'

Remus nodded. 'All it said, though, was to expect a house guest with a tale to tell - and to get some dog biscuits.'

Sirius grinned and held up a chocolate chip cookie. 'Good choice.'

'And you do have a tale to tell,' Remus added quietly, thinking of Harry. 'You know, I'm almost having trouble believing it, it seems too fantastic.'

'Me too, and I was there,' said Sirius, staring at the floor. 'Poor kid. I just wish I'd been...' He trailed off.

'Able to stay longer?' Remus guessed.

Sirius looked up at him. 'Able to do something, I was going to say. I felt so helpless, just standing there and hearing it all. I mean, I spent nearly a year hiding out in that cave, trying to be helpful to him, trying to protect him, and what good did it do? I couldn't do anything when it really mattered! I failed.' He laughed bitterly. 'Story of my life.'

'Will you stop feeling sorry for yourself?' said Remus, more harshly than he'd intended. Sirius looked at him in shock and he softened his voice. 'This is about Harry, not you. You did everything you could, and I'm sure he appreciated it, knowing you were looking out for him. For goodness sake, even Dumbledore didn't see this coming, why should you have done? Harry's alive and he'll be fine, you can stop the self-pity.'

For a moment, Sirius looked as though he was ready for the attack; but then his shoulders slumped and he fell back in his chair, sighing. 'Sorry. I didn't mean to feel sorry for myself.'

'You never do,' said Remus and instantly regretted it as Sirius sat bolt upright, eyes blazing.

'What do you mean by that?'

'I didn't mean anything.'

He snorted. 'Yes, you did. Come on, Moony, you haven't changed that much. If you've got something to say, just say it.'

'For god's sake, Sirius,' said Remus wearily, 'this is the first proper conversation we've had in thirteen years. I don't want to argue with you.'

'And that is precisely the problem.' Sirius glared at him angrily, and he reflected that after thirteen years, Sirius was probably longing for a good row. 'That was always the problem! You don't want to argue with anyone, so you bottle it all up and just sit there with that calm little smile on your face. Will you, for once, just tell me the truth?'

'Fine,' snapped Remus. 'You want the truth? You make everything about you. You always make everything all about you! We were having a conversation about Harry, and suddenly it was about you and your suffering, and how you failed to protect him. Voldemort has just risen again, and you honestly believe this is your fault? Do you know how incredibly arrogant that is? You blame yourself for James and Lily's deaths and that's just as arrogant, because you didn't kill them and you didn't betray them. All you're guilty of is trusting Peter, and we all did that. You want to know what the story of your life is, Padfoot? It's not failure. It's feeling sorry for yourself. It's believing that you're responsible for everything. It's making other people's lives all about you.'

Shocked silence reigned at the end of this speech. Remus slumped back in his chair, the anger ebbing away as fast as it had come.

'You see,' said Sirius eventually, 'this is why you shouldn't keep things bottled up.'

Remus looked at him warily. 'You're not going to hit me for that?'

Sirius shrugged. 'Do you want to hit me?'


He grinned mirthlessly. 'If everything you just said was true, I'm not surprised.' He paused. 'Do I really make everything all about me?'

Remus sighed. 'Not everything. Just most things.'

'Oh. Sorry.'

What have I done it's too late for that
What have I become truth is nothing yet
A simple mistake starts the hardest task

'Sorry,' said Sirius quickly, stepping back. 'Sorry, I shouldn't have done that...'

Remus, despite his own shock and confusion, couldn't help smiling. 'Why do I have this sense of déjà vu?' he asked dryly.

Sirius sighed, sitting back down at the table. 'Probably because I seemed doomed to make the same stupid mistakes over and over again,' he said gloomily.

'The kiss in the dormitory was a mistake?' asked Remus, raising an eyebrow.

He looked up. 'No. No, that one wasn't a mistake. Was this one?'

Remus paused, not knowing what to say. 'Sirius...' he began.

'No, it's okay,' Sirius interrupted. 'I know what you're going to say.'

'You do? Great, could you tell me?'

He smiled sadly. 'You were going to say that things are different now, that we're both different people, that there's too much going on, and we can't just pick up something that probably had good reasons for not working out in the first place.'

'I was going to say all that? Really?' Remus blinked. 'I didn't think I had achieved that level of emotional maturity.' He looked at Sirius and added softly, 'When did you?'

'Maybe I'm finally growing up,' said Sirius with a grin.

Remus shrugged. 'It had to happen eventually.' He paused. 'You're right, though. Or I'm right, whichever one of us actually said it. This isn't the time.'

'No,' said Sirius. 'And it certainly isn't the place.' He looked at his surroundings with a grimace. 'I hate this house,' he said quietly and then looked back at Remus. 'We'll wait and see, then?'

'We'll wait and see. We've got plenty of time to worry about such things. Besides,' Remus added, 'the entire Weasley clan are moving in tomorrow, and do you want to have to explain the sleeping arrangements to Molly?'

Sirius pretended to look shocked. 'Really, Mr Lupin, I wasn't suggesting anything of the sort! I was going to all gentlemanly and walk you to your door. And then ravish you on the landing.' Remus laughed and he looked thoughtful. 'We do have time, though?'

'All the time in the world,' said Remus with a certainty he didn't feel. 'We'll clear your name and get you out of this house before you know it.'

'I know.' He flashed Remus a quick grin. 'Can't wait.'

I promise I'll do anything you ask...this time

'Sorry,' said Sirius.

'For what?' said Remus, engrossed in the Daily Prophet and not really paying attention.


He looked up in surprise and Sirius smiled.

'Well, okay, not everything. Just for...well, for being so grumpy.'

Remus raised an eyebrow. 'Really? I hadn't noticed you had been.' He returned to the paper, saying absently, 'Anyway, you're forgiven. This house could drive anyone insane.'

Sirius seemed to have something on his mind. 'I seem to say that a lot, don't I?'

'Say what?'

'Sorry. Apologise for things.'

Remus sighed and folded up the paper, sensing that this was going to be one of those conversations. 'Well, maybe if you didn't keep doing stupid things, you wouldn't need to keep apologising for them.'

'Hey!' said Sirius, looking hurt.

'That was a joke, Padfoot, just a joke.' He looked carefully at his friend, noticing the familiar signs. 'Are you feeling okay?'

Sirius sighed. 'I was just thinking.'

'Always dangerous.'

'I am sorry, though,' he said seriously.

Remus raised an eyebrow at him. 'And again I ask, for what?'

Sirius shrugged. 'Screwing up your life.'

'You didn't screw up my life, Padfoot,' said Remus lightly. 'I find that slightly insulting, actually - I happen to think that my life isn't all that bad.'


'You're apologising again.'

Sirius grinned. 'Sorry.'

'Enough!' said Remus, laughing and holding up his hands. 'We could be here until midnight. Look, Sirius, do you not remember me telling you that not everything in the world is your fault?'


'Well, there you are then. My life has nothing to do with you.'

Sirius smiled sadly. 'I know.'

There was silence for a while and Remus picked up the paper again. 'Mind if I do the crossword?'

Sirius still seemed to have something on his mind. 'I didn't want to bring this up,' he said slowly, 'but...about the Tonks thing.'

'What Tonks thing?' said Remus calmly, keeping his face free of any emotion.

Sirius looked at him severely. 'I'm not an idiot, Moony, despite all the evidence to the contrary.' He sighed. 'Is it because of me?'

'Is what because of you?'

'Are you...' He trailed off. 'I really don't want to talk about this, but...are you sort of holding back because of me?'

'Padfoot,' said Remus carefully, 'I don't know what kind of impression you've got, but I swear to you, there is nothing going on between...'

'Remus, please,' Sirius interrupted. 'At the risk of repeating myself, I'm not stupid. You haven't answered my question.'

Remus hesitated. 'Well then,' he said eventually, 'at the risk of repeating myself, not everything is about you. This is my life.'

Sirius nodded slowly. 'Look...I'm not giving you my blessing or anything -'

'Thank God,' Remus muttered.

'- because she's my little cousin and you and I used to baby-sit for her and I find it wrong and disturbing on all levels, but...I don't want you to not get on with your life because of me. I don't want you to not be happy because of me. Merlin knows one of us should be.'

Remus looked at him in exasperation. 'Do you ever listen to anything I say, or just the bits that suit you?'

'I'm just saying -' Sirius began, but was suddenly interrupted by the door banging open. Tonks rushed in, out of breath and clearly agitated.

'What's wrong?' said Remus in concern.

'Snape. He's looking for Sirius - something's happened. Harry had some kind of vision or something about Sirius in trouble. Snape wasn't particularly forthcoming with the details,' she added with a wry smile, despite her distress. 'He wants to talk to you.'

Sirius, who had leapt to his feet at Harry's name, promptly moved to the door. He paused briefly, though, and turned back to Remus. 'This conversation isn't over,' he said, wagging a finger, and left.

Remus and Tonks followed him at a slightly slower pace as he rushed down the stairs two at a time.

'What did he mean by that?' Tonks asked curiously. 'I hope I didn't interrupt anything important.'

Remus shrugged. 'No, nothing important. We can finish the conversation later, there's plenty of time.'

'Still...' she said, waving an arm vaguely and hitting the wall. 'Ow. Still, you know, I'm sorry.'

He looked at her. 'That's a bad habit, you know,' he said mildly. 'Apologising for things. Best not to start.'

'Really?' She smiled at him. 'I won't, then.'