Characters not mine.

(Originally written for a "chosen family" challenge on comment_fic.)

Sirius is always the first one to grab the obituaries at the breakfast table.

He tells himself it's because James and Peter's families are small, and Remus's nearly nonexistent at this point. And while they're worried - they're all worried - he can place more of the names that come up and let everyone know.

It's a good lie. Peter seems to believe it, James seems to accept it, and Remus just touches his shoulder lightly and lets him fool himself.

The truth is that hearing about a Black family death through the obits would be bad enough; he doesn't want to hear it from a friend.

His brother's joined the Death Eaters, and now Sirius is just waiting for the day his name appears. He doesn't want to think it's because Regulus is weak or soft - although it is - because that would imply he thought it was a bad thing. It's just that he remembers the quiet little kid who was always terrified of Bellatrix, who came out of his room during Sirius and their mum's almighty rows only to steal the Prophet and check the Quidditch scores. The one who begged Sirius to stop being so belligerent, when what he meant was stick around. It isn't the memory of a kid who's ever going to be able to cast the Unforgiveables, and so one day he's going to find Regulus's name on the list.

He's afraid of finding Andy, too. God, he's barely talked to Andromeda in what seems like years. But she's married, to a Muggle-born, and he knows she's got a kid, and he can just see Bella doing something stupid to the sister she thinks betrayed her.

And if he ever sees Bellatrix's name, he's not certain if the memories of the cousin or the psychopath are going to dominate, but he knows he's going to be a wreck for the rest of the day.

His family's a mess of factions, and while he left it all behind, he still watches and winces as those pieces ram up against one another. Sooner or later, one of them is going to break.

But today, there are no Blacks in the obituaries, and Remus tugs the Prophet gently out of his hands again and passes it back to Lily. And James snatches it from her just as quickly as Sirius had and tries to lighten the mood by reading the Quidditch scores out as loudly as he can.

Sirius flicks a bit of toast at his best friend and says that no one cares who won when the players are the Lithuanians and the Ukrainians, and do any of them know where Lithuania is anyway?

Remus opens his mouth, because in fact he does.

But Peter, who always did know when someone needed a distraction, points out that someone did say they would look over his Transfiguration homework for him, and if they are quite done flicking toast and arguing over who cares about what country, would someone please look at it?

Sirius takes it from him, because double-checking theories so ole Wormtail doesn't fail McGonagall's class takes enough of his concentration that he won't be staring at the obits and absently wondering if the result will be the same tomorrow.

And while Sirius Black was never one for thinking ahead, he does know, somehow, that when the obituaries do bear a Black family name, in that inevitable future, that this will still be the same. That Remus will be there to press silently against his back, knowing there aren't any words that are good enough and talking with touch instead. That James will be there to babble semi-coherently and recycle every cliche in the book with a weird sort of sincerity. That Lily will ignore every rule he ever told her and wrap him in a hug, and that Peter will be there with the distraction, in the form of whiskey or tea, when he's ready for it. Whenever it happens.

Unless, of course, the eventual name in the obits is Sirius's, but in that case he knows this family - because it is family - will be there to do all of that for each other.

They'll be together. It's one thought for the future he can deal with.