A/N: I wrote this Sirius story so it can be enjoyed on its own, even if a reader has never heard of the previous one shot A Dog's Life, or A Wolf in the Moonlight, the Tonks and Remus fic to which this is a companion story, filling in Sirius' pov for chapter 11, the chapter in which the dog Snuffles is revealed to be an Animagus by name of Sirius Black. Of course, that doesn't stop me from hoping a new reader will be seized with the irresistible urge to go read everything they've missed!
Sirius in the Moonlight
He was tired of envying his friends. Dog tired, the wizard thought, huffing with amusement over the pun, morbidly enjoying his black humour. Padding down the stairs after leaving Tonks' flat, he idly wondered if his mother had hated him even before birth, to saddle him with a name like Sirius. She hadn't been inspired by a love of Latin and irony like Remus' mum, of that he was certain.
Thinking about Moony reminded him that his old friend and young cousin were probably snogging on her sofa right now, oblivious of his jealousy. Not that he fancied his second cousin. He wasn't one of those Blacks. Sirius only envied the love they shared- the same kind of love Lily and James had shared. The deep, emotional bond he'd avoided like a communicable disease in younger days. The exact union he yearned to experience now, with Tonks' friend Camillia.
Downstairs, the agency housed on the floors beneath his cousin's flat was deserted. His Animagus form was very useful for navigating dark corridors. Placing a paw against the back door, he waited for the 'doggie door' to materialise. When the charm engaged, Sirius exited the building. Breathing in a myriad of scents, he looked up at the new moon barely visible in the night sky.
New moon, new beginnings…Andromeda's voice echoed like an almost forgotten melody in his mind. She'd always been keen on the stars, or more accurately, keen on Ted Tonks, who got O's in Astronomy. He should go and see her, if only to allow his favourite cousin to feed a 'stray dog' and show her that he was alright. Making his way to the open gate, Sirius tried not to feel bitter over all the things he should do and would do…if he wasn't a fugitive.
Be a real godfather to Harry, doing more than sending a letter now and again. Openly re-connect with the family and friends he'd missed so desperately throughout wasted years in Azkaban. Love the woman whose affection toward a dog made him ache to be with her as a man.
A cat streaked by. He would've ignored it, but the little bugger hissed. 'Snuffles' gave chase, gleefully knocking over rubbish bins in pursuit. Other dogs, confined to their gardens, barked encouragement as he passed. The feline eventually ran up a tree. He snorted in derision. Yeah, that's right, cling to your branch, coward. After prowling menacingly for a few minutes, he turned away.
He looked back at the sound that seemed to question whether they would do this again the following night. The 'dog' woofed…If you're lucky…
Returning to the abandoned warehouse he and his hippogriff companion were currently residing in, Sirius entered through a warded dog-entrance in a side wall. Transforming, the Animagus headed for the stairs. Up in the loft area, Buckbeak lifted his head from beneath a wing and squawked. Sirius bent low and said, "Forgive me. I'll go fetch a ferret at once!" Soft feathers brushed his cheek. A beak that could snap the head off a man as easily as a large rodent nudged his shoulder playfully. The wizard looked up and grinned. "Good old Bucky…you're like Moony, never holding a grudge. I'm very fortunate in my friends."
While he took the stairs, Buckbeak glided down from the open platform. Retrieving a couple of dead ferrets from the stasis bag hidden beneath a floorboard to keep them out of greedy hippogriff claws, Sirius tossed them to his eager friend and said, "It's been awhile since you've had a chance to spread your wings. Want to go flying, mate?"
Buckbeak's wings beat furiously, causing dust to billow. Coughing, Sirius performed Disillusionment charms. After the lion body crouched down, he climbed on. Loosely holding on to the eagle neck, he whooped when the magical hybrid sprang up in a vertical lift. Just when it looked like Buckbeak was going to smash through the enormous glass skylight, the enchanted panel dissolved to allow the hippogriff to fly through.
Aside from veering sharply to avoid a trio of witches who were cackling merrily and flying dangerously, the pair rode the air currents smoothly. Sirius closed his eyes and held out his arms. He never got tired of the sense of freedom that was more intoxicating than firewhiskey. Buckbeak hit an air pocket, causing his rider's stomach to plummet along with the altitude. Roaring with laughter, Sirius clutched the hippogriff's neck. When they levelled again, he bent forward and urged, "Second star to the right and straight on 'till morning!"
After flying until the early hours of Sunday, Sirius enjoyed playing Muggle by having a day of rest. Only when Buckbeak nudged him awake in the afternoon did he leave his comfort charmed pallet on the floor. Stretching, he said, "Yeah, yeah, ferrets, I know, coming right up."
Munching on a sandwich after feeding his companion, the wizard checked the time and hurriedly wolfed down the last bits of bread. He didn't want to be late for his date with Cami!
An hour later, he broke away from Tonks and Remus to run toward the woman waiting for them on a park bench. Sirius loved the way her fingers threaded through his fur as she stroked him. "I'm happy to see you too, my big sweetie!" Eyes that looked blue, since dogs were red/green colour blind, sparkled as he licked her face.
"Eeuwww, he licked your mouth again- how can you stand the dog germs?"
His darling Camillia pushed back brown hair and said while rubbing his chest, "You don't mind wolf germs, do you?"
"That's different, and he doesn't lick me all the time." Tonks' defensive tone shifted into thoughtfulness. "Well, he licks me, but mostly my cheek, or toes." The Animagus tilted his head to see his cousin looking shyly at his mate. "He could lick my ankles, if he wanted."
"He?" Remus teased gently.
"You…anytime you want, really."
Really, Sirius thought, do I have to listen to the love-birds bill and coo? Nothing like having your nose rubbed into the fact they can express their love anyway they choose while you can't. I might not be a real dog, but that's still shite!
Rolling to his feet, he gave a short bark. Cami smiled. "Want to play? I brought a Frisbee!"
Running off frustration was an excellent idea. He enjoyed showing off his prowess, leaping and catching the disk. Another, smaller dog was playing Frisbee with his master across the park, but he couldn't leap as high. 'Snuffles' strutted back to Cami, smugly basking in her admiration.
He hated to leave the park, but cheered at the thought of going to work with her the next day. Sirius knew Tonks was throwing him a bone, suggesting Cami mind him. His cousin felt guilty that she and Remus had all the fun trying to locate a missing girl while he stayed home, bored to pieces. He gave her his mournful look. She bit her lip. Inwardly, he smirked, betting Tonks would be conjuring steak that night.
Showing up on Cami's doorstep bright and early , Sirius tried to wait patiently for her to come to the door. After a few minutes, he scratched the panel again and whined. When that didn't bring her, he gave several low, deep, woofs.
His heart jolted. If only she was saying that for real, to Sirius instead of Snuffles. Cami opened the door at the exact time her neighbour across the hall opened his.
"I thought I heard…something…" the man's words trailed off while he stared.
Sirius looked up at Cami. Her robe was exposing a lot of creamy flesh. He barked. She smiled self-consciously at the neighbour, clutching the robe together. "Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Ritchie, he's just a little excited this morning."
Due to his attenuated hearing, the 'dog' heard the man close the door and tell his wife, "Marianne, that woman has taken being a dog lover to an unhealthy level."
Inside her flat, Camillia frowned and shook her finger at him. "I should make you eat oatmeal for embarrassing me like that! The neighbours already watch to see if I've gone back to drinking. Now they'll think I'm one of those people who substitute animals for partners and children!"
He really shouldn't be enjoying the view as she bent down, but his mind was fully human, and she had the loveliest set of…
"Tea! I forgot about the heating charm on the kettle!"
She turned and raced for the kitchen. He trotted after her, tail wagging. Pouring what remained of the water into a teacup, Cami set the steaming kettle aside and told him, "You are seriously distracting." Patting him on the head, she reached into a cupboard and pulled out a tin. "Look what I got you at the corner market. It's the latest rage in dog food. Let's see it's as tasty as the company claims."
He whimpered. What about steak? Chipped beef? Leftover lasagne? Curry? People food! The thought of eating gloppy, nasty, unnatural smelling stuff made him want to hide under her bed.
"Here you go!" Cami's sunny smile faltered as he backed away from the bowl she set before him. "Aren't you hungry? I bought this just for you."
Manfully, he repressed a whine. After all, if he could survive on a diet of rat, he could choke down a few bites of congealed mystery meat. 'Snuffles' reluctantly neared the bowl, lowering his head and holding his breath while taking a bite.
"So, what's the verdict?"
He wanted to spit it back out, but that would be rude, so he swallowed and then lunged toward the water bowl. Water, blessed, cleansing, water, took away most of the cold, slimy gravy coating his mouth.
"Hmmm…you're either very thirsty, or…wait a minute…" Snatching up the tin, Cami read the label and exclaimed, "Look at the sodium content! That can't be good for dogs. No wonder you're drinking like you're dying of thirst! Poor Snuffles, I'll Evanesco this and make you something else."
His tail thumped against the tiled floor when she looked into the coolant cabinet and said, "I've got some leftover roast…"
Going to work with Cami was always a pleasure. She interviewed clients and did paperwork, while he got to lounge around watching her. The lady had a very mobile face. Sirius amused himself by supplying a mental commentary to go along with her expressions.
Rolling her eyes after new client leaves office means the bloke is a humongous bighead who hit on her and deserves the annoyance fee she will add to the bill…Smiling as she stuffs a large envelope means wife who receives the pictures of her cheating spouse will get a big divorce settlement…Sighing while staring at the poster of Sirius Black indicates Miss Llewellyn had yet another dream about the charismatic fugitive last night…or is currently having a fantasy about him…
"Are you Camillia Llewellyn?"
The Animagus and the woman both gazed at the client hovering nervously in the doorway. The man was balding and his robes were finely tailored. Sirius sniffed and noted the wizard in his sixties wore very expensive cologne.
"Yes I am. Are you Mr. Howard? Please have a seat, and tell me the nature of your enquiry."
Entering slowly, keeping a wary eye on the dog by her feet, Pierce Howard shook Cami's hand briefly and then perched on the edge of a chair and blurted, "I have an urgent request. My father Marshall died recently at the age of a hundred and twenty. Two years ago, he remarried. After the will was read, the young widow petitioned for a greater portion of the estate than she'd agreed upon in a prenuptial. The case has now reached the Wizengamot." Catching his breath, he said, "I was informed by a…source…that she's planning to bring a newly discovered codicil to the hearing tomorrow."
"If you fear forgery, there are spells that can be performed…"
Clasping his hands together tightly, the man said, "My…source…tells me that Fiona has found a way around them. She plans to have my father sign the document."
"But that's impossible…" began Cami.
"Not if the deceased chose to be buried next to his Muggle first wife instead of having a Wizarding funeral…and the second wife hires a Necromancer," said Pierce bitterly.
"Why haven't you gone to Auror Headquarters, filed a report?"
"Because I can't reveal my source, since I'm a private man and the publicity…"
Sirius admired Cami for saying, "I'll keep it in confidence, but if you don't reveal the source, I won't take the case."
Sweat appeared on the man's brow. Blotting it with a monogrammed handkerchief, he looked down and said in a low voice, "It's her mother. We've been, erm, seeing each other discretely." Lifting his gaze, the Howard heir pleaded, "If I don't acquire photographs of Fiona performing this heinous act, she will rob my children and grandchildren of their inheritance. Will you help me? I'll pay…"
The amount of Galleons offered was staggering. Camillia accepted, on the clear understanding that she was only taking pictures, not apprehending criminals.
"Of course, of course, the law offices will decide what charges to bring. I only want evidence."
After the client left, Cami took a deep breath. "Well! I can't say I'm thrilled at the idea of skulking around a cemetery to watch a Necromancer at work, but he should never know I'm there, and Merlin knows I could use the money!" Bending down, she ruffled his fur. "Better go ask Morty what camera to use. I'll leave a note for Tonks that I'll be late for dinner, but I'll treat her and Remus to any restaurant they like when we return."
He panted happily at the thought of getting out and doing something exciting.
Waiting behind a crypt at the cemetery later, Sirius thought stakeouts were almost as boring as playing draughts with a hippogriff. Buckbeak tried, but he had no strategy. He just pushed the pieces at random, and yet took forever to make a move.
"Stop grumbling. I can't let you roam. If they see a Grim looking dog, they might just run off, and then we'd have to come back some other time." Holding her goblin spy camera at the ready, Cami added, "Besides, I never asked Tonks if I could Apparate with a dog, so if they tried to hurt you, I'd have to intervene, and we'd be rogered, because I couldn't risk Splinching."
A clucking sound made his ears perk. Beside him, Cami whispered, "Show time." They crawled forward and watched a small, dark wizard encircle a handful of graves with a line of chalk and then blow an extra handful into the air. While a blonde in a black fur tapped a high heel impatiently, the man reached into a bag and brought out a squawking chicken.
"What are you going to do with that?"
Fiona Howard's question was answered with a quick slice of a ceremonial knife. "It takes blood to raise the dead my dear. Be grateful he is newly departed, and the sacrifice demanded is small." Allowing the blood to spray inside the circle, the Necromancer stuffed the remains back into the sack and held out his hand. "Now you must offer a small sacrifice."
"A few drops of blood. It will heal instantly."
Sirius found the proceedings fascinating in a ghoulish way. The blood, the incantations, the wind gusting and swirling leaves around the grave. If he and the other Marauders had stumbled onto a scene like this, what mischief they would've made. A jinx at just the right moment would've been hilarious.
"Marshall Howard, come forth!"
Cami had taken a few photographs, but now she really started shooting. The zombie that erupted from the grave could still pass as living, but his blank stare showed that while the body was resurrected, the soul was gone. Sirius looked from the wife to the old wizard and thought she deserved extra money for crawling into bed with a creepy old josser. While Fiona got her undead husband to sign the codicil, scolding him for dropping dirt on her shoes, Cami scooted closer for a 'money shot'. The dog's attention was caught by the sight of a tiny pile of white on the ground. Just before his partner slid her hand through it, he realised it was chalk.
At the grave, the Necromancer looked directly at the pair hidden in the crypt's shadow. "Defilers!" he shouted, taking the knife and cutting his forearm, allowing the blood to flow. With an evil smile, he broke the line of chalk around the graves and began chanting. When two more zombies burst through the earth, the reason the Dark wizard had encircled more than one grave became ominously clear.
It began to rain. Barking furiously, the dog planted himself in front of Cami. She scrambled to her feet as the widow and Necromancer Disapparated. The zombies dragged forward.
"Incarcerous!" Cami's spell caused magical bonds to wrap around Marshall Howard, the closest living dead. Relieved when the other two shuffled away, Sirius instinctively kept barking. After fighting the bonds, the zombie tore them off, with a preternatural strength that was truly frightening.
Suddenly, he heard Tonks yelling, asking where the mage and stepmother were. Cami used a trip jinx and hollered the answer. Howard started to pick himself up. Sirius was frustrated. All he could do was bark. A cry for help sounded. It was cousin Morty, who must've followed his niece from the agency. Tonks told Cami a spell to use and ran to help the fallen man.
He yelped. She'd heard the spell wrong! After another misfired spell, the zombie was too close for Sirius to stand there and do nothing. He transformed and took the wand from Cami's hand. She gaped at him while he said, "Non Sentire!"
While Howard crumpled, so did the woman's face. "You…you're an Animagus!"
He took a step forward. She took two steps back. Sirius said, "Let me explain…"
"Explain what? That the Ministry's Most Wanted is hiding in London as a dog?"
"I'm innocent. I was convicted without trial…"
"I know," Cami interrupted, tears starting to mingle with the rain on her face. "Tonks told me, but she didn't tell me the most important thing- that you were Snuffles!" Shaking her head, hazel eyes were dark with hurt. "She lied to me, and Remus lied to me…and you lied to me…pretending to be a dog, my friend…"
"It wasn't a lie. I am your friend…and I've wanted to be so much more…"
She wasn't listening. "Oh my gods, the times you slept in my bed, heard me pour out my secrets. Were you laughing at me? Getting your jollies from seeing my knickers?"
Her anger put him off-balance, on the defensive. "No, I wanted to do more than listen, I wanted…"
"I wanted Snuffles to be my dog." Shaking her head, she cried, "I'll never forgive you for taking him away from me…and I never want to see you again!"
Cami Disapparated. Sirius stared blankly at the place she had stood. Cocky bastard that he was, he'd thought a few explanations, a few apologies, and she would fall into his arms. Turning, he walked towards his cousins, putting one foot in front of the other with effort. Cold rain trickled down the neck of his robes and soaked him from head to toe. Distantly, he heard Tonks ask what happened. Numbly, he told her. She slapped him.
"If you love Cami, you'll go to her and work this out! She's probably reaching for a bottle right now, and if you don't stop her, I'll…I'll…"
Maybe his mother had been right to say he needed sense beat into him. The slap brought him out of self-pity. He hugged Tonks close.
Pacing in front of Cami's door, he thought back to what he'd told his little cousin. "Take care of Morty. I'll take care of Cami…somehow." He didn't have a plan, but that had never stopped him before. Taking a deep breath, he began to bark.
Cami released the ward and stood in the doorway, bottle of wine in hand. "GO AWAY!"
He gave a woof. She shook her head violently. "Stop it! Stop pretending! The dog I loved is dead…no, he never existed! So stop pretending to be Snuffles you bloody damned…!"
Across the corridor, a door opened. Camillia halted her tirade, seeing the woman.
"Is everything alright, dear?"
Sniffing, the younger woman said, "I'm sorry I disturbed you, but this is not my dog and he won't go away!"
"Marianne, come back inside. I'm going to owl St. Mungo's to send a couple of blokes…she's gone round the twist!"
"Gill, that's not necessary," the woman said, reaching out to take the unopened bottle. "Why don't you take your…conversation…inside, and I'll remove temptation. You've been doing so well, dear. I'll be praying you continue."
"Stuff's cheap plonk anyway," muttered Cami.
"I'll make marinara sauce with it, then, and bring you some."
Sirius took the opportunity to duck inside Cami's flat. She slammed the door and warded it, saying bitterly, "Now they think I'm off my rocker again, when I'm finally sane. You…are…not…Snuffles!"
He transformed back into his human self, striding forward to bark, "The hell I'm not!"
Her eyes widened when he said, "I've been Snuffles since my fifth year at Hogwarts." She opened her mouth. He cut her off. "In Azkaban, that hellhole I was condemned to, the only way I kept my mind was to be Snuffles!" Looking into her eyes, he tried to explain, "What you said that first night about people not appreciating simple things is true. In Azkaban, when I was a man, I almost went mad, but when I stayed a dog, if I had a rat to eat, a ray of light shining through the bars, a breeze carrying an interesting scent, I could live for the chance to escape."
Cami backed away. "Yes! You escaped! So why aren't you someplace far away, someplace safe? Why are you in London, risking capture and invading my life?"
Sirius smiled bleakly. "Alone with my thoughts for all those years, I finally figured out what's important. People. Harry, Remus, Tonks…you… Without those you love, what kind of life do you have? Not one worth living."
"But why me?" she asked plaintively.
"Because when I looked into your eyes, I saw such warmth and compassion, I wanted to know you. Once I did…I fell in love…"
"No…" Cami's retreat was stopped by the sofa.
She crossed her arms. "And I'm supposed to believe that you were content to be a dog? That my past means nothing and you would've hidden your secret forever if that was the only way you could be with me?"
Sitting abruptly, she buried her face in her hands. He knelt down and said, "Those nights when I listened to you cry, I would've given anything to hold you in my arms. I'm not the man you deserve, with an untainted past and a certain future, but I love you." With fingers that trembled with contained emotion, he touched the side of her face. "Even if you can't forgive me, would you please let me hold you, just once?"
Cami threw her arms around his neck. Sitting on the floor with her sobbing against his chest, Sirius closed his eyes and gently stroked her hair and back. She felt so good in his arms. When she lay quietly against him, he made a sound of deep contentment.
"You rumble more when you're Snuffles," whispered Cami.
"Physiological differences," he returned softly.
Their eyes met. He said, "When I'm a dog, I miss the green in your eyes."
"Gray is nice. They look darker on the poster."
His smile was wry. "Not my best photograph."
"I still dreamt about you."
Inside his heart, hope began to grow. "Were they good dreams?"
Cami's mouth turned up at the corners. "MmmHmm."
Slowly, eyes on her face to gauge her reaction, he reached down and took her hand in his. Little by little, he brought it to his lips for a tender kiss. "If you give me a chance, I'll prove my devotion never wavers, whatever form I take."
Shifting to look directly into his face, she asked, "Are you saying you want to make my wildest dream come true?"
Remembering her embarrassment over a certain fortune cookie, he stammered, "Yes…I mean no…I mean whatever you…"
Her fingers stilled his words. Inside his head rang the echo of his own recent fortune. The future is here. His eyes searched her face. He found what he was looking for in Cami's misty smile. "You already did."
Unashamed tears filled Sirius' eyes when she replaced her fingers with her lips.
A/N: Yes, I'm an unashamed romantic! Writing the end of this story , I realised it had a Sixteen Candles romantic film type ending. I've only used it once before, in a Draco/Ginny one shot of the same name, so readers who remember (the film or the fic, lol ) – I heart you people! As ever, I appreciate all encouragement and cherish each review. Siriusly.