Disclaimer: See Prologue
A/N: Okay, long time no see. I will miss this fic so much. To be honest, that's why I've been delaying it but I just found the file on my computer and I couldn't put it off any longer. Thanks to everyone who reviewed, favourited or even just read.
And so the weeks passed.
The days merged into one another. The horror that had been a break-up with Nymphadora, the horror that had been Kreacher, the horror that had been an argument with Sirius…all blurred together until Lupin wasn't sure what had happened when.
And all too soon, it was June.
"He can spend the whole summer with me, can't he?" Sirius asked. "I mean, Dumbledore can't have a problem with that, can he? I'll be here. I won't let him out of my sight, Remus."
Lupin sighed. "I know. I'm not disputing it. I just think that if Albus says he has to stay with his aunt and uncle then that's where he should be."
Lupin wasn't sure whether the heat was getting to his friend but Sirius had been short with him for several days. He had taken to pacing and snapping at Kreacher in ways that he had not done even prior to Remus' arrival.
"He should be with me, Remus. I'm his godfather! Lily and James said that he should be with me!"
"Yes, Sirius, I am aware of that. I am merely warning you that you may not spend all of the summer with Harry. If Voldemort is looking for him, the best place for him to be is in Muggle Surrey."
The last few days had hardly been a walk in the park. Lupin could almost taste the tension and animosity in the air.
"Sirius, please, will you just back the fuck off!"
Tonks stormed up the stairs with a face like thunder. Privately, Sirius thought that she would conjure such clouds to break over his head although he daren't joke for fear of giving her ideas.
"He'll listen to you!" Sirius protested, following her up the stairs.
"I can only assume there is a reason for you not being there, Sirius, and I don't want to be responsible for ballsing the whole thing up, okay?" Her hands gripped the banister, producing brilliant white knuckles. Clearly, a stressed Nymphadora Tonks was not to be messed with. "And as for him listening to me, that's bullshit for starters."
Sirius winced. Things had not returned to normal. Although, he knew first hand that rarely could two people be friends once they knew what one another's genitals looked like. He should have guessed this would happen last Christmas. Naïvely, he had assumed Remus might have grown out of that awkward stage by the time he was thirty-five but obviously, it was a gross misconception.
Speaking of conception…
"Are you pregnant or something?"
"No! And if you dare ask me whether I'm on my period just because you've stressed me out, I will rip your balls off with a pair of pliers."
As soon as the door had closed behind her, Sirius whistled. Talk about awkward.
"Have you seen Nymphadora?"
Tensions were running high at Grimmauld Place. The heat easily affected Lupin who, after a particularly bad full moon, seemed to want to spend all his time sleeping. There was also something seriously wrong with Tonks who was usually so laid back that any more so would make her dead.
Sirius could pin down his annoyance, at least. A lack of Harry or substitute James and anticipation of a well planned, superb summer was making him twitch.
"She's in the Library," replied Sirius, resigning himself to behaving like an adult. "I wouldn't call her Nymphadora right now anyway, mate. She's mourning the death of her egg."
Lupin raised an eyebrow but allowed his friend a faint smile. "So, do you really want to risk coming for Harry next week?"
Sirius was thrown slightly. "I'm sorry, what?"
He nodded vigorously. "Yes, sweet Merlin, yes. Of course I'll come."
Lupin sighed. "I don't suppose there's much I can do to stop you then, is there?" He grinned at his friend. "But if Albus questions you, you tied me to a chair and threatened me with a potato peeler before I gave in."
"Have I ever told you how much I love you?"
Lupin raised his eyebrows. "No, and nor do I want you to."
The June evening was warm, pleasant enough and the sun shone through the tall windows, bathing the house in a yellow almost ethereal hue. Sirius grinned. "You know, I never knew this place could look so light."
"And darkness descends," muttered Lupin, almost back to his old self. Sirius was rather pleased with his progress. If they carried on like this, which they would – forever – Lupin would be a Marauder again in no time. He was already becoming a respectable bachelor. Just yesterday, Sirius had noticed that his desk was an absolute tip and he had left some socks on the floor. By next week, Sirius had set him a target of not putting the lid back on the toothpaste.
Lupin grabbed his friend's shoulders and twisted him so that he could see through the banister into the corridor on the first floor.
"What the hell is he doing in my house uninvited?"
Lupin rolled his eyes. "Just a minute, Severus!" He turned to Sirius and was halfway through preparing himself for scorn and hatred when he was shocked into silence.
"You haven't got a minute! Potter has taken it upon himself to save your life, Black."
Sirius and Lupin turned to face one another, frowning slightly, before hurtling down the stairs, two at a time, landing together, still the same space between them that they had shared on the landing. Even Snape had to admit it was rather impressive.
It was rather reminiscent of Hogwarts; both of them leaping down the staircase that led to the Charms corridor - they had been laughing then; laughing and in direct competition with one another. Though once on flat ground, neither Sirius nor the more athletic Potter had a hope in hell of keeping up with Lupin and his long legs. Snape had never figured out why they bothered. How childish was it? He was snapped out of bitter memories by Sirius.
"Why is he trying to save my life? I'm the bloom of health for Merlin's sake."
Snape took a deep breath through flared nostrils before he sighed deeply in the manner of an exasperated nursery nurse.
"Your delightful House Elf has told him that the Dark Lord has you in the Department of Mysteries. He seems to believe that you won't last the next hour. It's rather ironic, really. He's gone to save you, risking his own life unnecessarily. I always said he was just like his father. I always said that he'd develop a taste for heroics."
Lupin sucked in a breath and avoided his glare. "Alright, well we'll deal with it. Sirius, relax, he won't have even reached London yet."
"How do you know?" snapped Sirius. "We don't know how they've gone."
"Indeed," replied Snape in a coolly, relaxed drawl that exacerbated the situation. Clearly, he knew something that they did not. "I doubt they'll be taking a stroll through the forest."
Something in Lupin snapped. "I did not suggest that they would be hiking down there. I think we all need to calm down."
Snape raised one eyebrow. "I suggest that you alert Alastor Moody. You'll need an adult with you." With that, he turned on his heel, throwing his cloak out behind him and slamming the door.
Sirius made a crude gesture behind his back and managed to calm himself enough to take the responsibility of alerting the Order.
"Sirius, maybe you should-"
"I know how to owl people, Remus."
Lupin sighed and resigned himself to the harsh fact that he would have to tell Tonks. He took a considerable amount of time on the steps, wondering what he could possibly say to her after everything that had happened between them.
"Quickly, Remus, don't lurk," snapped Sirius. "Christ, I sound like your mother."
For once, there was no snide remark about her attractiveness and anxious, he hurried up the stairs and knocked her door before he could talk himself out of it.
She flung the door open, already dressed. "I know, I heard. Let's go."
She pushed past Lupin who was frozen to the spot, mouth gawping after her, his hands shaking.
"Don't do that, Remus. You look like a goldfish. It's not terribly attractive."
"I came to tell you that we were going. You should stay here and wait for news."
"Kreacher will do that," she replied, running down the stairs and clutching the banister for support. She knew her limits these days. "Now come the fuck on or we'll be late."
"It's not a dinner party," he shouted after her. "It's rescue mission."
"You think I dress like this for dinner parties?"
Sirius leapt to his feet, hearing her on the stairs. "You're coming too? Brilliant! Kingsley is meeting us there and Moody's on his way. I'll er…I'll leave you pair to it, shall I?"
He hurried off in the direction of the Library and the awkward silence in his wake was deafening. The whole house was still. Lupin could hear a ringing in his ears. This was the calm before the storm and he couldn't say that he reacted well to it.
"I'm sorry," he said eventually. "I don't want you to think that I don't believe in you. I just don't want to see you hurt."
She nodded. "I'll be fine, Remus. I've been trained to do this. Look, I'll go and meet Mad-Eye and we'll find you there. We'll try and figure out where Harry is." She turned and took a deep breath, attempting a chipper smile and not quite managing it. "Good luck, then."
Tonks was engulfed in his arms, inhaling deeply the smell of cinnamon and spring that reassured her. It was just so…well, so Remus.
"Try not to fall over anything," he whispered, laughing under his breath.
She nodded and released herself. "I'll be fine. Concentrate on your own safety, alright? I'm big enough and ugly enough to take care of myself."
And with that she was gone and Sirius' nervous whistling filled the house. The man himself emerged after about a minute, looking for his cousin, puzzled.
"Gone ahead to meet Moody."
He nodded. "Ah, so did you sort it out with her?"
Lupin sighed. "I think so."
"Good." He reached inside his pocket and pulled out a battered envelope. "Listen, if anything happens to me, I want you to read that and sort it out for me, okay?"
Lupin stared at it for a while. "I haven't written one."
Sirius shrugged. "You'll be alright. I'll be alright. I've just had it lying around for a while and thought I'd better hand it over. It's just morbid precaution."
Lupin nodded. "You'll be alright anyway. You've got me with you."
"And when have you not saved my arse when I need you to?"
Lupin laughed. "True, I suppose. I was thinking more along the lines of everyone being safer when I'm around because I'm the misfortune magnet. If anything happens, it'll happen to me. I'm sure that's why I was allowed to join the Order in the first place."
Sirius grinned at him. "I take you for granted. Come on, we've wasted enough time being morbid. There'll be plenty of time for that when we come back. We can have a nice long chat about the probability of hanging on until we're forty."
It was quiet; too quiet without Sirius. The empty house was ominous and held too many painful memories. Tonks was barely hanging on in St. Mungo's. He had lost them both; he knew it.
He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out the envelope.
Well, Moony, it looks like it's finally over. Oh well, at times like this, all you can do is laugh I suppose. Already I miss you.
Hang on, a thought has just occurred. Maybe you're reading this and I'm not dead. If that is the case and I've just left this letter lying around, please put it back in the envelope and take several steps back so you are not tempted.
You're still reading it, aren't you, you cheeky git. I know you only too well.
If I am dead, you have my forgiveness, for reading the letter not for murdering me. I knew I should have locked that potato peeler away.
Anyway, my entire estate (including the Christmas Fairy and the murder weapon) is to be left to Harry. The formal documents for all this should be upstairs in the top drawer of my desk. Don't even think about changing it. I know what's going through that overworked head of yours.
However, half of my funds are to be given to you until you get yourself a job, you idle little bugger, along with all the drinkable stuff from my cabinet and all of the leftover biscuits. You have memories, Remus, and I'd rather you have them than a House Elf who wants you dead.
I bequeath to you my blessing to have babies with my cousin. You don't know it yet, but you love her and she's rather fond of you, I'll bet. (I'm talking about Tonks, by the way, not Bellatrix. Please, for the love of baby Jesus, don't let her populate the earth).
Buckbeak is to go back to Hagrid. Although, warn him to give him a false name. I don't want to lose him, bless him.
My mother's wine is to be given to Bellatrix. Let's see if we can't poison her.
And now, Remus, I'm going to tell you goodbye because you're shouting for me to come down for Poptarts and I don't want to provoke you when you have hot strawberry jam – not after last time. Well, you've been a good friend to me and I apologise once more for any hurt I may have caused you.
Now, I want a fancy funeral. I want the Ministry to bloody well pay for it and I want it to be big. I'm talking lilies and jewels and all that jazz, right.
And I've heard about what you said at James' funeral and while it was touching and lovely and James would have loved it, I don't want you being all melancholy at mine. Tell everyone about what I was like at school; just don't mention anything that happened within ten yards of a broom closest. Do we have a deal?
Oh and look after Harry. I think he'll need it. Try and do a better job than I did.
Now I don't know how to sign out.
Padfoot, Sirius, The Bane of Your Life, Alcohol Enthusiast, Facetious Twat, Arsehole and all the other names you used to call me.
P.S. It's hard writing in past tense.
P.P.S. I want Sirius Subtle Obnoxious Black made out of flowers and left in the back garden. It'll give you something to do over Christmas.
P.P.P.S. Alright, you've read the letter, now come down and make some tea and we'll have an embarrassing discussion about mortality.