Disclaimer: See Prologue
A/N: Huge thank you to EmmaLeighx, safarigirl83, Dawn96 and Broken Gold for your amazing reviews.
And now on with the fic…
"This one's outside." exclaimed Harry, slightly bewildered, recognising Grimmauld Place in the background. "What were you doing?" he asked, noting Sirius's trunk.
He watched as the teenaged Sirius punched the air and Lupin grabbed a long arm to hold him still while he took the photograph. Lupin did not look at all impressed whereas Sirius appeared to have been told that all his Christmases had come at once.
"My first picture as a free man." said Sirius, beaming.
"A free man? This is well before-"
"I know. I meant I moved out. I was free from my odd mother and her disturbing views and I faced the prospect of three days at Remus's mother's delightful little cottage and the rest of the year with the Potters who had offered to put me up. Do you blame me? I mean, no wonder I was excited."
The Lupin in the photograph continued to become more exasperated as Sirius's gestures became more dramatic.
"What was the matter with you?" Harry asked Lupin who laughed bitterly.
"What wasn't the matter with me? Needless to say, I wasn't particularly welcome in the Black household."
Harry understood at once and quickly changed the subject. "Where are Pettigrew and my dad?"
"Your father was on holiday in France and Wormtail was too afraid of my mother."
"I don't know why I'm here."
Sirius ran to Lupin and embraced him. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
"I'm sure you could have lasted the extra three days."
Sirius laughed. "Oh you have no idea what it's like in there. Are you sure your mother doesn't mind?"
"Hell no. She's still a bit overwhelmed that I actually have friends to care when any of you show up for a few days."
"After six years?"
Lupin shrugged. "I didn't have friends for eleven years. Give her a break."
"Fair enough. Come on in."
Sirius opened the door to reveal a long, dark passageway. Lupin peered in and raised his eyebrows.
"I know. It's like something out of a gothic novel."
"Yes. Your mother has impeccable taste. Look, are you sure I'm allowed in."
Sirius laughed. "Of course you're not allowed in; you're a half-blood werewolf."
"Oh your mother sounds delightful."
Sirius doubled up with laughter. "Now follow me. Don't forget, whatever you do, don't take off your shoes and try and stamp on the new carpet as often as possible."
Lupin reluctantly closed the door behind him and gazed up at a display of house-elf heads on the wall beside the stairs. He wasn't entirely convinced that he would not be joining them by the end of the afternoon and power walked up the looming staircase after Sirius and into a vast bedroom decorated with Gryffindor banners and large posters of scantily clad Muggle girls.
"I'm beginning to think Lily was right about you and Prongs. The pair of you are sex obsessed."
Sirius raised his eyebrows. "I'm beginning to question your sexuality."
"Oh yes…and what about Anna?"
Sirius's mouth dropped open. "Anna? Who the hell is Anna?"
Lupin bit his lip and muttered; "She's always in the library. You know, sits at the back of the common room."
"Oh yes, fat Annie."
"Stop calling her that. You're not funny."
Sirius laughed, obviously thinking he was, until the sounds of his mother in the hallway threw him back into his packing with renewed vigour. He swallowed his laughter at the sight of Lupin who was now stiff as a board and petrified.
"Er…Padfoot, would it be possible for you to hurry it up a little? Tell you what, I'll pack your books for you."
"You know I have no intention of taking half of those."
"Exactly. That's why I'm packing them for you." said Lupin, smirking as he added Hogwarts: A History to the trunk.
Sirius turned to inspect the growing pile of books in the bottom of his school trunk. "Remus, I don't even do Care of Magical Creatures anymore."
"You never know when you might need it." replied Lupin, now trying to peel off a few banners from the wall. "Merlin Padfoot, what did you use on these things?"
"Huh? Oh, a sticking charm. My mother can't take them down and burn them then. I will be gone but not forgotten."
"Who are you talking to?" snapped the voice of Mrs. Black, as she rapped the locked door of Sirius's bedroom.
"My half-blood best friend."
The door swung open to reveal a tall, thin but strikingly beautiful woman. Her piercing blue eyes ran over Lupin. Her nose wrinkled in the same manner as her son's when he was thoroughly disgusted, and she scowled.
"With pleasure." snapped Sirius, dragging his trunk past her.
Lupin stood, frozen to the spot, listening to the sounds of Sirius storming down the stairs. He contemplated staring her out but thought better of it.
"REMUS! HURRY UP!"
"Excuse me." said Lupin, brushing past her and wishing she would stop glaring at him.
The fresh air did wonders for Lupin's nervous system. He discovered he was now able to move properly and the temptation to test out his reflexes by smashing Sirius's face in was unbearable.
"Why the hell did you have to go and say that?" he shouted. "You were asking for trouble!"
"Come on Remus, where's your sense of adventure?"
"I don't have one. You know that."
Sirius laughed. "Get your camera out. This is a moment to be recorded. I'm free."
This had evidently not quite sunk in because as soon as Sirius uttered these words, he leapt into the air and screamed nonsense at the top of his voice. Lupin looked around as though at any moment, the men from St. Mungo's would arrive and cart his friend off for mental testing.
Lupin grabbed hold of any part of Sirius that he could reach while peering into the rucksack full of what Sirius and James had labelled "useless crap", for his beloved camera. Finally managing to catch hold of what he hoped was an arm, Lupin pulled Sirius down.
"Can I have that picture?"
"Sure, as soon as I develop it. I'll frame it for you for Christmas."
"Took you a decent amount of Christmases Moony."
Lupin smiled. "I think the whole lot is compensation enough. In fact, I probably should have sorted through these. I get the feeling there are some in there that I really don't want you to have access to."
Sirius smirked in a manner that truly disturbed Harry.
Lupin reached for the box, obviously regretting handing his photo collection over to the man who had been renowned for his love of laughter and nothing would make Sirius laugh more than showing everyone he knew pictures of an emboldened 'fat Annie' and Lupin.