Disclaimer: Don't sue me, it's not mine.
A/N: this chapter was taking forever to write and i don't think i'll be finishing it anytime soon, so i thought i'd give you the first half. enjoy, and tell me what you think!
He awakes to an irritable Sirius rapping him over the head with a newspaper. "Morning."
"No, it's not…" Blinking furiously, Remus sits up to find the other Marauder fully dressed in yesterday's clothing, glancing restlessly over his shoulder. Outside, the sun is well past noon. Remus jumps out of bed.
"Oh," Sirius murmurs vaguely, "I think we've missed Charms." He seems rather lost, throwing the newspaper down beside Remus and turning vaguely as though he might leave. He ignores the stream of protests and swearwords but turns sharply back at the exasperated cry of: "What's with you, Padfoot?"
"Oh," he repeats hazily, "It's just been a strange night, you know?"
"…you know how to use the telephone if you need me," Ted concludes. "I left the number on the table – " He, working in the Muggle Relations section of the Ministry, is off for a meeting with some very important Muggles.
"I know," Andromeda assures him. She pecks a good-bye kiss on his lips. "We'll be fine, and you'll be back in a few hours."
"Of course," he agrees grudgingly, biting his lip. "I've just been so nervous since the attack – maybe we should have taken the Ministry up on that safehouse – "
Andromeda shakes her head, already pushing him toward the door. "We're getting along fine," she says, giving one last quick kiss and grinning as he trips on his way out the door.
As soon as he leaves, her pretense of bravery falls. "Dora?" she calls, rushing up the nearby stairs in search of her daughter, unable to relax until she has seen her daughter's smiling face.
Her smiling face an entirely false façade, the receptionist of the Werewolf Registry orders, "Sit over there and we'll be with you in a moment." Remus obeys, seating himself on an uncomfortable sofa beside a girl slightly older than he.
"First time?" she asks pleasantly.
He scowls. "I wish," he mutters, then wishes he had said something different.
"No need to be so grumpy," she scolds, "it's not even that time of the month." She fiddles with the hem of her shirt as she speaks, and gives irregular, anxious gasps. "I'm Myra," she adds, drawing out each syllable. "And you're…"
"Yes, well…" He grows just as uncomfortably awkward as she, and misses Sirius. Behind them, the clock ticks onward.
With a rhythm like a ticking clock walks Arabella down the hall, always one step behind the lively Professor Dumbledore. She may be mature and past petty hatred – she may have lived as nonmagic among wizards for decades, but it still stings to pass a classroom full of bangs and the smell of gunpowder while she shuffles along in her carpet slippers behind an enigmatic old man, for a job she has been given out of little more than pity.
"Here we are," he says, as the stone gargoyle springs aside and they make their way up to his office. "They'll just need to know the basics for today – who we are, when we meet, that sort of thing."
She nods. He has said all this before. He regally pushes open the door to reveal two students sitting in out-of-place armchairs – Andromeda Black along with a boy she does not recognize. Andromeda is trembling slightly, and the boy has slyly crept his hand up her leg. Dumbledore leaves.
"Well," says Arabella, "Dumbledore will have told you about the Order, then? I'm here to get you caught up. Ready for action." She gives a nervous laugh, and hates herself, just a little. Everything – from the boy's warm and sweaty hand resting on the girl's leg, to the shiny whirring instruments strewn about the office, make Arabella irritated and twitchy. "What's your name, dear?" she asks him, as though nothing is wrong.
"Tonks." He smiles pleasantly, and seems almost sincere. "Ted Tonks. Nice to meet you."
"And you." Arabella fiddles nervously with one hem of her robes. "Now," she begins briskly, ignoring the obvious game the two are playing, their feet brushing up against one another, crossing, dancing, the toes of her sandaled feet against his thick boots. "As you know, Voldemort's power is rising…"
"His power is rising. All those with the courage to join him will benefit much, I believe. Much indeed."
Andromeda nods politely as her aunt pauses for breath. They are seated primly on a sofa in Grimmauld Place, watching two house-elves decorate a looming Christmas tree with glistening silver ornaments.
"…Your charming sister Bella, I believe, has already taken his Mark. I do hope you'll be joining her."
"I'll do what I deem is right," says Andromeda in a small, prim voice, screaming inside. She is small and mousey to Bella's glistening elegance, clumsy and awkward to her aunt's tired grace, and she knows it.
"Yes, well." The tension grows, stiff and ugly in the pristine room. She continues, her tone now merely bored, "Sirius has taken it upon himself to invite a half-blood to Christmas dinner. We will tolerate him. We will speak graciously to him. We will make it clear that that piece of filth is not wanted, am I understood?"
Sirius himself chooses this particular moment to enter; Andromeda rolls her eyes at him, and he discreetly returns the gesture. She says, "Yes, of course."
Of course this is a love story. It is a story in which Andromeda sits by the fireside long after midnight, counting the raindrops that fall beyond her open window. She holds a newspaper: November the first. November the first, 1981. With slow, drawn-out movements she tears it into long strips, gently shredding line after line, the depiction of her betrayal. In this story, just a day or so ago, Sirius was holding Dora in his arms, swinging her in circles before setting her lightly back on the rug.
"You look sad," Dora was inquiring, "What's wrong?" in that child's way of saying exactly the right thing with total naïveté.
"Nothing, Nymphie," Sirius assured her. His smile was forced, and he did not meet either child or mother's eyes.
"If you're in trouble, Sirius – " Andromeda began, concerned, shivering and not pretending the smile.
"Let it go," he said with surprising calm. "Let it go. Everything's gonna be alright."
"Alright, what is it?" asks Myra. They are sitting in the waiting room of the Werewolf Registry once more, three days after the end of the world. The rain has not stopped. It looks as though it may never end; Remus rather likes it, weather to fit his mood.
He does not ask what she is talking about. He knows he looks like hell. "I'd rather not, d'you mind?" is all he says.
She offers: "There's a parade this afternoon, if you'd like to – " Her voice is filled with hope and the kind of sickening joy that has infected the entire Wizarding world for the past couple days.
"Not another bloody parade!" He didn't mean to shout so loudly, he didn't mean to make the secretary stare.
"Well, there's also my place. I have… cats and firewhisky. You look like you could use both – if you'd like to come over?"
Grudgingly: "All right." Now, why did he say that?
"Say that you're joking, Albus." Arabella Figg is not amused.
"I'm quite serious, Arabella," says Dumbledore sternly. "Someone will need to watch Harry. Of course, if you're not up to it – "
"Of course I'm up to it! That's not the issue! You can't – you just can't leave Harry with Muggles. Think what Lily would say."
Dumbledore raised one furry eyebrow. "Lily never showed any anti-Muggle sentiments, that I was aware of."
"You're missing the point, Dumbledore!" An angry Arabella is never a positive omen. "He's Harry Potter, he's – " She breaks off with a sigh. "Alright, I'll do it," she agrees. "But – Muggles, Dumbledore?"
"Yes, Muggles," he agrees mildly, and offers her a lemon drop.
"Lemon drop?" offers Remus, holding out one of the sticky yellow sweets in his open palm.
Sirius sighs. He is most likely counting to ten inside his head; Remus is clearly trying his patience. Finally, he snatches up the sweet and pops it in his mouth. "Going Dumbledore, are we, Moony?"
"You tell Dumbledore the truth. I need the truth from you, Padfoot."
Sirius chokes. "There was Veritaserum in there?"
"Don't be stupid." They are sitting by the fire in the deserted common room, Remus in an armchair and Sirius on the floor by his feet, night looming outside the windows. It is deathly silent but for their voices and the crackling of the flames. "So Padfoot… where were you last night?"
Sirius is wary. "What's it to you?"
"If you don't tell me, I'll be forced to assume the worst." Remus does not know why he is so threatening. He only knows that he is in love, madly in love, and that his love is hiding something.
"What is this worst?" Sirius asks scornfully. "What's the worst I could do to you?" He storms away, leaving a bemused and miserable Remus to contemplate his question.
What is this worst? Meeting another boy comes to mind, as do Death Eater meetings in the moonlight –
Remus won't think about that, not now. He'll curl up in his armchair and hate himself.