Chapter One: Sirius Black's House:
Sirius looked around the house and sighed, they had roughly one month to get this place clean and right now that did not look possible. Number Twelve Grimmauld place looked as if it had not been cleaned for years and the elf Kreacher was not much of a help. Sirius wondered just how he was to do this on his own, never mind the fact he hated it here. He was having bad memories of his childhood being here and what with that and the fact he was only two years out of the hell that was Azkaban this was not good for his mental state at all. He was sitting in the parlor drinking when McGonagall came with Remus Lupin who looked around and grinned. What the hell did the werewolf have to grin about? Sirius thought as he sat glaring for all he was worth.
"Nice place, what happened?" Remus asked Sirius. "This makes the shack look well decorated!"
"My elf has not cleaned in here for ages." Sirius snapped.
"Oh, is he unwell?" Remus asked as Sirius knocked back another drink.
"Sirius you need to not do that, we have work to do." McGonagall warned him concerned mostly for his metal state. "You keep that up and I will put you in the corner!"
"You cannot my house!" Sirius snapped.
"Yes but you are acting like a child!" McGonagall said, "you know why we have to use your house, it is safer here for all concerned."
"What is wrong with your elf, he sick?" Remus asked heading off an argument that he was sure Sirius would lose and badly.
"Kreacher is not unwell, oh hell why don't you ask him why he refuses to clean? Oi Kreacher!" Sirius said.
"Master called?" Came the croaking voice of an elf.
Into the room came the small form of an ancient house elf. He was naked but for a filthy loincloth about his hips and his skin hung off him in folds. He was like all elves bald but he had a large quantity of white hair growing out of his ears. He looked very grumpy and though he bowed low he did not look very happy at his master. In fact he muttered some very unpleasant things at Sirius who glared at him. Remus cocked his head and felt sorry for the elf. Remus used Occulumency on the elf and was stunned at the pain and suffering of the poor elf before him. Kreacher gave him a filthy look as he felt the magic done on him but could do nothing to stop him. Remus did not like anyone being cast off as he was sure Kreacher felt he was cast off, he did not see a surly unhelpful servant, he saw a creature suffering and wanted to help.
"Hey Sirius he always like this?" Remus asked him.
"Yea, rude ungrateful elf, I should give him clothes." Sirius snarled.
"Master must do as master wishes." Kreacher said nastily.
"You know Padfoot I don't have anything to do, bet you I can get this elf to be nice." Remus said looking over at McGonagall a plan forming. "One month and he will be the best elf ever! What you want to bet?"
"Oh?" Sirius said looking at his friend with a gleam in his eye. "If you lose you will have to run around the square completely starkers."
"SIRIUS BLACK" McGonagall shouted.
"Okay in just your under pants."
"If I win you have to hug Severus." Remus smirked knowing that would get Sirius out of his funk, he would toy with wanting to win the bet and annoying Severus Snape badly. "Deal then?"
"Done, you are gonna catch cold." Sirius said, then to Kreacher. "Do what Remus tells you to, whatever he tells you understood?"
"Yes master." Kreacher said bowing low. "Kreacher does not want to do what werewolf says but master orders him, oh what would mistress think?"
"You are going to have to hug Severus, Merlin I wonder how he will take that?" Remus said.
"I have one more thing Sirius, I have an elf without a family, Winky, will you let her work here?" McGonagall asked remembering the poor miserable elf that had been part of the Crouch family.
"Yes, she any good?" Sirius asked. "I don't need another worthless elf."
"That was not nice mate." Remus said to Sirius as he saw the flicker of pain across Kreacher's face.
"Very, she can help Kreacher here." McGonagall replied.
"Kreacher can clean house, Kreacher not too old!" Kreacher wailed. "Kreacher not worthless though mistress brat is and…"
"Kreacher can we talk?" Remus said cutting off the elf from his tirade.
Remus lead the small elf out and down the hall Kreacher had no choice but to go with him. Kreacher hated this and did not like the werewolf near him yet he could do nothing about it. Remus then got down to his level and smiled to show he meant no harm. The elf glared at him for all he was worth and Remus knew he had not had an easy time of it. He knew how it felt to be pushed aside and treated badly and that is exactly what Sirius was doing to the elf, and Remus saw Kreacher as a project he could work on. He knew Kreacher was a good elf deep down and just needed a little kindness. Sirius did not understand that an elf had feelings as acute as any human but Remus felt the misery in the little elf as he looked down at him.
"Kreacher you cook right?" Remus said gently. "I bet you are the best."
"Kreacher cook good, Kreacher clean good too!" Kreacher said. "But not for…"
"Look I know it's not been easy for you Kreacher, but I well I need your help, we all do. You know this house better than anyone and well I need your help even if Sirius is being a prat."
"Master is ungrateful and cruel." Kreacher said pain in his eyes and he ran to hit himself but was held back by Remus.
"He doesn't realize his attitude hurts others." Remus replied. "He has had a hard time of it, Azkaban took what little manners had from him. Still he is a good man, he will come around. Oh and you are not to punish yourself, come to me if you think you have done anything wrong alright then?"
"Yes master wolf." Kreacher said still looking so sad.
"Are you going to be alright?"
"He will despoil my mistress house!" Kreacher replied.
"How about this then, you can keep pictures and a few, a very few things, but nothing that can harm or hurt alright then?" Remus asked. "Dark things that hurt are not good for a family, and I know you are a good elf and will work hard."
"Kreacher will be good elf." Kreacher replied. "Kreacher will be good for master wolf."
"Say could you show me over the house?" Remus asked. "We can figure out what needs repairing and the like okay?"
"Kreacher is happy to obey even if you are a half breed and dangerous." Kreacher said to Remus then looked fearful as if he were to be punished..
"No argument there." Remus said smiling at the little elf. "Being a werewolf is not fun, come let's see what we need to do to get this house in tip top shape."
Kreacher went and gave Remus the tour of the house. He thought that Remus was just doing this for a bet but that was far from the case. Remus Lupin liked the little elf and he knew he was suffering, he wanted to help him. He took careful notes on what needed to be painted and patched and fixed (which was most of the house). He made a note to have the elf's heads removed from the walls and when he was done it was time for lunch. Sirius nearly had a heart attack when Kreacher brought them sandwiches for lunch.
"Remus what did you do to my elf?" Sirius asked when Kreacher left the room.
"I was nice to him." Remus said munching on a sandwich. "He is miserable, who was he closest to of your family?"
"Dammit Moony you would have to ask about my family." Sirius said.
"Well if you don't talk about it I will bring in my grandfather." Remus said.
"Not funny, and what has happened to you?" Sirius snapped glaring at the werewolf. "You are so like, like an old woman always nosing around, is it the muggle medication?"
"Yes it is, and this is me, really me, I feel human." Remus replied, "besides you are my best friend, my brother and I love you even if you are sulking."
"I don't sulk, ever." Sirius replied.
"Why you are doing it now Padfoot." Remus said grinning at him.
"Why you, you are going to get it!" Sirius said.
"Bring it on old man." Remus said grinning at his good friend.
Sirius finished his sandwich and tackled Remus and hit him once and got thrown across the room. A playful romp began as the two men play-fought all over the room. They badly needed this as the tension of the last few weeks was getting to them. Remus was better at this than Sirius and though a smaller man he totally owned Sirius as they wrestled on the floor. They only stopped when the noise got to the portrait of Mrs. Black and she screamed at them and would not stop until Sirius blasted the curtains back over her.
"Did anyone tell you that you are an annoying wolf?" Sirius said playfully to Remus.
"Why yes you nearly all the time you crazy cur!" Remus smirked.
"I love you mate, you are the best friend I could have." Sirius said smiling at Remus.
"Well I try you know." Remus said.
The next day Winky came to the house and it was clear this elf was happy for the work. She could be found taking great care in the cleaning and even Sirius was infected with her cheer. True to his word Remus helped Kreacher find the few things that he would be allowed to keep, mostly pictures of family and one old locket he refused to part with. Kreacher started to blossom under Remus' care and he found once he would not be punished for what he said he opened up to Remus who showed him compassion and respect as he felt the aged elf deserved. Remus put the pictures into an album and gave them to the elf who was in awe of this werewolf and burst into tears at the kindness offered him.
"Hey I didn't mean to make you sad." Remus said crouching by the little creature.
"Remus remind Kreacher of someone…"
"My brother." Sirius said softly from behind Remus and Kreacher bowed low before him in an instant. "You may keep those things Kreacher, I will not take them from you, you have a right to them." Sirius said then he handed a clean pillowcase to the elf. "Here wear that, I will not have it said I keep my elf in rags when I have good pillowcases that work just as well."
"I will do as master orders." Kreacher said drying his eyes taking the pillowcase.
Over the next weeks the house was scrubbed and cleaned by the elves. Sirius brought in workers to patch, sand, paint and repair the house to full glory. Threadbare carpets were removed and in many places the wooden floors were left bare and after being sanded, fixed and stained they looked good as new. The dark arts objects were removed and destroyed the elves heads put away in the storage part of the basement yet most of the furniture was kept. The black velvet was changed to blues and greens and maroons depending on the rooms.
It must be noted that Kreacher, under the care and friendship of Remus Lupin became a very nice elf. Sirius (who had been using Remus' grandfather for therapy) had taken the old therapist's advice and started to be nicer to Kreacher. Master and elf came to an understanding of sorts, Sirius would be nice to Kreacher and Kreacher would serve his master. Remus was happy about this, he had won his bet and was looking forward to the reaction of Snape when Sirius Black hugged him…
It's amazing what happens when one is nice to someone who serves them. Remus is smart and I wanted to show how kindness to Kreacher would have made things better all around. What a contrast then to being cruel this does for him! He once more becomes the servant he must have been to his mistress and to master Regulus as well. That and what this elf knows will be important to all concerned.
Do review please!