Disclaimer: It's not mine. I think we all know that if it was, Remus Lupin would be alive and well and living out the remainder of his life in a little country cottage somewhere in Devon.
A/N: I know I shouldn't be starting this when Where Dwell… needs updating (and I am working on the next chapter) and I have two promised one shots to do but this proved too much fun.
Sirius Black was bored. Shamelessly bored. It wasn't easy having only a hippogriff for company. That said, coming home had been an exciting experience at first. He had never thought he would say that about Number 12 Grimmauld Place, that's how bored he was.
Coming home had enabled him to antagonise his mother's portrait with tales of his friends. Peter didn't count. James made Mrs. Black purse her lips, but Remus…. Remus was in his own league altogether.
"And then Moony said…well I don't remember exactly what he said but you can bet it was something incredibly witty that no-one understood. You do remember Moony, don't you? The half-blood werewolf?"
Sirius would laugh until he cried as she shrieked and shook with anger, unable to do anything but cry for help and scream insults and threats aimed at Lupin Sr. the blood traitor.
"Oh yes…good times. Good times." he would mutter to himself, knowing she could still hear him over her own screams.
Even that bored him after the third day. He had taken to flicking the ears of the stuffed house-elves on the wall. He tried talking to them about James and Remus but their reactions left a lot to be desired. In fact, he was obviously going mad. He was expecting a rational response from dead house-elves.
He sighed and set up a dining chair in front of his mother's picture. She was already about to launch into one of her "Mudbloods and Traitors" speeches when he arrived so he found she needed little persuasion. He talked about James under her screeches, it helped to vent his frustration. He didn't need to scream and break things, his mother was doing it for him.
"Good old mumsy." he muttered, smiling bitterly to himself.
As a result, he didn't hear the knock until it had become a frantic and persistent battering of his door. His breath caught in his throat. What if it was someone from the ministry? What if they had heard him? What if it was someone investigating why he had a hippogriff in the back bedroom? What if when they came in they realised they were standing in front of a framed but no less notorious murderer?
"Do be quiet mother." he hissed. "It might be someone important."
The moment that Mrs. Black had been silenced soon passed as she cried 'Sirius Black!" at the top of her lungs.
Oh well; cover blown. He might as well answer it now. Just as he was about to open the door, the letterbox swung open and a familiar and welcome voice echoed round the hallway.
"Sirius? It's Remus. Will you please just answer the damn door?"
Sirius flung open the door and threw his arms around his friend, taking in how much greyer his hair had been tinged, how much duller his black eyes shone. Their warmth still radiated as Lupin smiled but the stern expression soon returned.
"Constant vigilance Black!" he said, imitating Moody's voice with remarkable ease before returning to his own. "I could have been anybody. You're going to need a security question."
"But you're not anybody. You're Remus!"
Lupin rolled his eyes. He had been in the man's presence for less than a minute and already Sirius was deliberately infuriating him.
"I know." hissed Lupin. "But if the Ministry are willing to blow my home to pieces looking for evidence of me hiding you then the likelihood that they show up at your childhood home impersonating me is pretty strong, don't you think?"
Sirius frowned slightly, obviously letting this information sink in. "They blew up your house? Cool."
Lupin rolled his eyes and scoffed. "Oh yes, very cool. What's even 'cooler' is I have nowhere to live, no income-"
"What happened to teaching? Come to mention it, it's the middle of term. You should be in school."
"I'm not at Hogwarts anymore."
"Oh." Sirius was crestfallen. "Well, that shouldn't come as a surprise. No-one's lasted in years."
"So can I stay for a while? Just until I find somewhere? Seeing as you're the reason I no longer have a house, I thought it was only fair."
"Good grief Moony. You can stay forever! Did they sack you because of me?"
"Can we talk about this inside?"
Lupin's smile told him that wasn't the case. Sirius nodded and Lupin reached for his wand, turning to the small trunk full of his worldly possessions and was about to cast a hover charm when-
"No it's alright. There's an elf around here somewhere. He can start making himself useful."
Lupin frowned. "Really, it's not a problem."
Sirius paid him no heed and whistled.
Five minutes later, a small and absurdly ugly house-elf stood before Lupin, looking him up and down as though judging whether he was worthy to enter the house of Black. His squinting charcoal eyes had none of Lupin's warmth and as Lupin became uncomfortable under the judgemental gaze, Sirius smacked the house-elf round the back of the head.
"You took your sweet time."
It said nothing but Lupin was sure he heard the words, "Blood traitors", "shame", "my poor, poor mistress" and the occasional hiss under the creature's breath as it stomped over to his trunk and pulled the handles so hard that Lupin feared they would break off.
"Sirius, really, I can carry my own stuff."
"Nonsense. He's got to learn."
Lupin watched the elf struggle up the steps, slam the door with its foot and almost throw the trunk at his feet.
"Right. Well, thank you."
It hissed again and made to return to what was obviously its underground lair under the stairs.
"And you could show Mister Lupin to his room."
At the mention of Lupin, the portrait of Mrs. Black screamed. Lupin started and turned to face her. He remembered her being strikingly beautiful and the commanding aura about her. She was a different woman to the fierce creature he had tried to eradicate from his memory, though her voice still sent shivers down his spine.
"Ah Remus, you've met my mother?"
"I can safely say that I haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing her in that state." replied Lupin, backing away from the once terrifying woman whose skin had been depicted as a pale yellow. Her silver eyes rolled in her head and she appeared to be drooling. If he was honest, Lupin had never seen anything quite so disgusting in his life and he had shared a dormitory with Pettigrew and his obscenely crooked and yellow teeth.
"I don't know how to shut her up." Sirius admitted as Mrs. Black returned to her ear splitting screeching. "I think it's her only hobby."
Lupin raised his eyebrows. "May I recommend knitting?"
Sirius laughed and took hold of Lupin's wrist, dragging him upstairs and instructing a begrudging Kreacher to follow with the trunk.
Upstairs was no better than the dark and gloomy corridor beneath them. Severed and stuffed heads of house-elves were perched on the wall and Lupin let out a cry of shock and horror at their wide, glassy eyes.
"Hmm?" asked Sirius, turning to find the source of his friend's discomfort. "Oh, don't mind them. They take a bit of getting used to but I can't bear to take them down now. I've been telling them all about you and Prongs."
Lupin seized up. He was plainly sharing a house with a lunatic and a murderous house-elf. He wanted to go home. Surely his small cottage would only take a little charming and it would be good as new. He had come because he thought Sirius was lonely really, although he would never admit it. Loneliness had evidently driven him to holding one-sided conversations with inanimate objects.
"That's Buckbeak's room, I put him where my mother used to sleep," Sirius laughed and his eyes gleamed in a manner of which they had not done since the eighties. "So you can't have that one. That's my room and that's Regulus'; trust me, you don't want to go in there. Right, next floor."
This time, Lupin distinctly heard Kreacher mutter curses aimed at Sirius who, if he heard them, ignored him.
The next floor was slightly less dire. There were no severed heads at least. It was significantly smaller than the previous two but Sirius appeared to be content.
"I think you're going to like this little arrangement Moony."
Considering what he had seen thus far, Lupin highly doubted it but humoured his friend.
"Yeah. This is your new room and right opposite is…" he paused for dramatic effect. "The Library. Now, this room's a bit small but something tells me you're used to smaller. We never really used it and my parents never found a use for it other than filling it full of junk. All the stuff we didn't use, if it had a family crest on it, ended up here."
Sirius flung open the door revealing a room that obviously had not seen the light of day in years. The moth eaten curtains were particularly depressing; blood red and heavy. They had remained closed for evidently around half a century as the furniture had not faded with sunlight.
Lupin looked around. Yes, he certainly was used to smaller. Mismatched chairs, a chaise longue that wasn't decorated in the most tasteful manner imaginable, a Queen Anne wardrobe and several boxes of clutter took up most of the space.
"Obviously, we'll get rid of all that." Sirius assured him, with no idea how to do so.
Kreacher pushed the trunk through the door and slammed it behind him, leaving Lupin and Sirius standing in pitch darkness.
"What can I say?" said Sirius in mock seriousness. "You just can't get the staff these days."
His arms reached out, flailing blindly until he found the bedpost, and Sirius sat on the double bed, hoping it was not inhabited by a number of unpleasant creatures, most of whom lusted for and hadn't tasted human blood in years.
He patted the space next to him and Lupin joined him, his keen eyesight allowing him to keep the dignity Sirius had lost when falling over damp, cardboard boxes.
"So…" began Sirius, in a tone that alerted Lupin to the fact they were about to have as serious a conversation as was possible to have with Sirius Black. "What happened a few months back? Why did they fire you?"
Lupin sighed. "It's complicated."
Lupin frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Who did you eat? I hope it was Snape."
Sirius could no longer contain his laughter and Lupin was so relieved that he was not currently being accused of cannibalism whilst in his other form, that he saw the humour in the remark.
"I thought you were serious then."
"I am Sirius."
"Please. That joke was old by nineteen-seventy-two. I resigned, if you must know. That's what I thought you were going to ask me."
"But why? You loved that job!"
"I know." muttered Lupin, darkly. "Snape told them all that I was a…Boggart!" he added, indicating towards the oak desk drawer.
The rattling continued and Sirius raised an eyebrow, never missing an opportunity to infuriate the ever patient Lupin.
"You resigned because Snivellus told everyone you were a Boggart?"
"I'll kill him." hissed Sirius, his fists clenching.
"Please don't." said Lupin, throwing all of his weight into pulling the curtains apart.
"Why not?" asked Sirius, his anger dissolving. "I've already got a ten thousand galleon price on my head. I might as well earn it."
Lupin smirked and as sunlight filled the room, turned to his friend and raised his eyebrows.
"Well that's perfect." he said, smiling. "I'll turn you in. That'll be a nice little earner and I'll have your house. You can take the elf with you though. I get the feeling he wants to murder me in my sleep ."
Sirius laughed. "That's Kreacher for you. Hey, maybe we can pin it on Kreacher."
"You frighten me Pads, you really do."
"Only because it's so ingenious."
Lupin thought for a moment. It was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard but picturing Kreacher, with his cold, black eyes and false, leering smile, he had to admit Kreacher really did fit the part.
"I'll give you that one." he admitted. "Now, what are we going to do about all this stuff?"
"Burn it? This is Queen Anne!" cried Lupin, pointing at the wardrobe. "If you don't want it, I'll have it."
Sirius raised one eyebrow. "Are you aware of how gay you sound?"
Lupin smiled sarcastically in response. "You really didn't want to say that."
"What are you going to do?" asked Sirius, smirking. "Bite me?"
Lupin rolled his eyes but continued to patronise his friend.
"Well…two men living together whilst one plans to kidnap his godson and call it adoption is slightly homosexual, don't you think?"
"Shut up Remus. You couldn't be gay anyway."
Lupin's laughter was absorbed by the thickly coated walls. "Was that supposed to be an insult?"
Sirius narrowed his eyes slightly. "What's S&M?"
Lupin tried to recall this information. He vaguely remembered being teased with this particular terminology many years ago.
"That's SMA Remus. All gay people know what S&M is…at least, I imagine they do."
Lupin tried to keep a straight face. "What are you trying to prove with your homophobic remarks?" he asked, finally allowing himself to laugh.
"That if we were gay, I would wear the trousers and I'm wearing them now and you're not keeping that wardrobe!"
Lupin raised his eyebrows.