Allow me to express my deepest apologies for the lack of updating. It's all my fault, and I recongnize that. Sorry! I love you all.

Next update should be up soon – I've rediscovered my vigor for writing, I think, and really would like to finish this before I have to go to college, because goodness only knows how many files I'll lose in that move.

Also, I've gotten into making Youtube videos – it's really, really addictive. That's the main reason for the recent lack of updates – senior year being the reason for the rest of the time.

Just as a note, those of you wishing to claim your review bribe from last time around - Sirius in a kilt - need to go check out the newly posted one-shot entitled "St. Patty's Day" on this account. It needed it's own limelight.

Sirius couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so sorry for himself. The time that Regulus had used his first bit of infant magic to masterfully adhere a face-full of baby upchuck to his forehead came to mind, but he liked to think that he was beyond such troubles.

Not to mention he'd solved that particular problem by throwing his younger brother headfirst off the roof, and he didn't quite think Remus would stand for that.

He'd spent the night in the Forbidden Forest as a dog, following the mysterious sights and sounds and smells of such a strange and glorious place. It wasn't the first time he'd done such a thing, but he usually remembered to leave a magical golem of himself in the bed to fool curious dorm-mates, and sneak back before morning. He'd spent the rest of the day in the new Gamekeeper's pumpkin patch as a man, changing back into his canine self only when someone approached.

Ten hours sitting among the strange orange plants and he still hadn't come up with any plausible way to make this all up to Remus, short of throwing him up against a wall and snogging him silly. Which, he reasoned, probably wouldn't help the situation any, and would only cause further animosity on both sides of the equation in the resulting confusion.

Because he didn't love Remus, whatever that silly potion sad. He didn't love him, it wasn't true, and nothing would make it so.

He almost wished that it had been true – things would be so much easier right now if he could just march proudly up to the Great Hall and whisk Remus away onto a thestral-drawn carriage bound for a romantic spot by the lake. But the very idea of a romantic spot with Remus made him twitch involuntarily, and gave him the strange urge to curse away a bad aura.

That, and he'd always suspected that Remus was perfectly capable of seeing the pulling end of the supposedly 'horseless' carriages, same as him.

He sighed, raising himself from the filthy ground and brushing the dirt off of the seat of his pants. He stared at the forbidding castle in his sightline, jutted out his jaw, and prepared to implement the worst laid plan he'd ever subjected himself to.


I'm sorry Remus, he rehearsed, wondering why his friends were such idiots, but despite the fact that I've been chasing you like a bitch in heat for the last two days, I seem to have gotten over it. My bad. Promise not to eat me next full moon?

Sirius cringed. I'm dead meat. There's no way around it.I'd kill me for that one.

But I don't have anything else to offer him.

He laughed hollowly at the absurdity of it all, then set off with a determined spring in his step towards the castle.

Because really, he thought, if you're going to face your doom, you might as well be happy while you do it.

The familiarity of the scene – three Marauders already at the table as Sirius came down late for breakfast – spoke of a sense of security, of unity. It said that all was fine and well, that friendship was in full abundance throughout the Gryffindor table.

Peter Petttigrew was sharp enough to be wary of the lull. It scared him, and even as the rest of students enjoyed their breakfasts amid the happy roar of morning conversation, Peter stiffened, sitting on pins and needles as Sirius sat down stiffly beside him.

Something was coming.

James smiled. Remus smiled. Sirius smiled. Eggs were passed, jam was exchanged. James proclaimed that Lily would one day fall in love with him. Sirius looked longingly at the butter dish and opened his mouth as though to ask for it.

Instead, his teeth shut with a sharp click, and he swallowed as he put his right hand over Remus' left, looking anywhere but the lycanthrope's face.

"Look, Remus, I know you're in love with me..." he began.

Remus' head shot up, and Peter could see all hell beginning to break loose. The werewolf's voice came out in a sort of strangled yelp. "What?"

Sirius still had his eyes fixed on the landscape outside – it was clear he was wishing to be out there, instead of in here. Doggedly, he continued on. "I know you're in love with me, but I've got to tell you something first, alright?"

Remus wasn't listening to anything that came out of Sirius' mouth, and had instead focused all of his attention onto James, his voice coming out in a hiss. "James, what did you tell him?"

Sirius, oblivious to the fact that he was being ignored, continued on between the flow of conversation. "I just don't think –"

"I didn't tell him anything!" James looked as though he were somewhere between fear and laughter. "Pure coincidence!"

Sirius shot an annoyed glance at James for interrupting his speech, and kept on in a slightly louder voice. "– that we would ever –"

Remus' eyes flashed, still ignoring Sirius, his voice rising in pitch. "You had to have said something!"

Sirius finally brought his eyes around to Remus' face, hope and a bit of anxiety playing around his eyelids. "Wait, are you?"

Remus' about-face was sudden enough to knock over a glass of pumpkin juice, splattering the front of James' robes. James seemed too absorbed in the conversation to care.

"Am I what?"

Sirius' voice came out in a louder tone than was strictly necessary. "In love with me!"

"That's none of your business!" shrieked Remus. He looked slightly embarrassed about the amount of noise he had caused, and continued in a fierce whisper. "I mean, really Sirius, you can't just ask people –"

"Actually," Peter heard himself interrupt, "I think it is. His business, that is. When you think about it properly."

James looked as though he might crack a rib from trying not to laugh.

Remus shot them both a glare, looking as though he would quite like to wring Peter's neck. "Be quiet before I bludgeon both of you to death."

Sirius, being himself, was impervious to such things as noise levels, and took Remus' threat as the sign he was wishing for. Glee shone in his eyes. "So you're not? That's great! That's amazing!" He hauled the nearest Hufflepuff girl off of her bench, twirling her in a circle. "Fantastic!"

Remus stood, coldly detaching the small girl from Sirius' grasp. "Sirius, I –"

Instead, the dog animagus grabbed the lycanthrope's hands. "Thank you, Remus Lupin, for not being in love with me. I'm so happy – I could kiss you!"

Peter fought the urge to smack Sirius over the head with a very large brick as Remus' entire body went stock still. The golden-eyed boy removed his hands from Sirius' grasp and took a careful step back, his movements stiff. "Thank you, Sirius. I understand now. Obviously I will be able to serve as a point of amusement for a bit longer; a station I am grateful for, I assure you."

"What?" Sirius laughed, a brash, cutting sound that only increased the tension. Peter was quite sure the brunette was running on nothing but adrenaline at this point. "Remus, you know I don't do well with complicated sentences until after breakfast."

A quick turn served to start Remus in the other direction. "Goodbye, Sirius. I'm sure you'll have something new to involve me in by this afternoon."

Peter waited for the cold blow of wind that would have accompanied such a scene in any decent book, then shook himself. I've gotten far too used to the potion's effects

Sirius could only stand in the same position that Remus had left him, looking for all the world like a statue. Finally, he blinked, gathered himself up and moved back to the bench by his friends, acting as though nothing had happened. "Who've we got first today? McGonagall?"

James looked at him as though he'd grown an extra head. "Sirius –"

But Sirius simply ran over his friend's outburst. "I hope she's not giving another exam; someone's got to tell the woman that those things are dead boring."

James looked exasperatedly at Peter, and the smallest Marauder cleared his throat. "Sirius, maybe you should just –"

"I mean, at what point in our lives will we conveniently have a tortoise readily available, but not a teapot?"


Grey eyes swiveled around to meet the blonde. "Yes, Peter?"

Peter took a moment to blink, not having expected Sirius to actually acknowledge his presence for at least another three outbursts. "What are you doing here?"

"Eating, of course. Isn't that obvious?"

"No, Sirius, I mean –" Peter huffed in exasperation. "James!"

James took the metaphorical ball smoothly. "Pads, you need to go after him."

"Actually, I think it was rather well implied that I was not to follow. Otherwise a perfectly good storming-off would have been put to waste."

"Alright, then let me put this another way," said James, a smile affixed on his face. "If you do not chase after our near and dear Marauder friend within the next thirty seconds, Pete and I will be forced to hex your ass from here to Tuesday."

"Today is Tuesday," pointed out Sirius, reaching for the pumpkin juice.

"Of next week," growled James, inducing a short staring contest between the two of them.

"Fine," intoned Sirius, breaking eye contact and grabbing one last piece of toast. "I'll be back. Save me some of the bacon."

Quick, running steps on stone towards the outskirts of the castle – the sound would not have ordinarily interested Lucius, but...

Suffice to say that one castle could only harbour so many crises at once.

The men that followed him were well schooled in reading his movements, and the pause in his footfalls brought them all to an immediate halt – save, of course, for Severus Snape, who nearly ran into Lucius' back. He crooked a finger back in the direction they'd come from. "Our newest friend has arrived. See that he is greeted properly."

A communal nod – it would have looked ridiculous, had the atmosphere of Hogwarts not made such a fantastical setting in and of itself – and they split, moving quickly. Lucius moved towards the point he knew his newest little mouse would be cornered in.

"Come, Severus. Your presence is required."

Alright. Considerably shorter than I would have liked, considerably longer posting time than I would have liked. But by God, I can't get the next section to flow, so unless you all want to wait another two weeks while I fiddle, this is what happens.

Apologies. PMS is a wondrous thing.

Just as a note (again, because people are yelling), those of you wishing to claim your review bribe from last time around - Sirius in a kilt - need to go check out the newly posted one-shot entitled "St. Patty's Day" on this account. It needed it's own limelight.