Author's Note: Sorry for the long wait, I was down with the flu for ten whole days! I'm hoping to write a bit more during the Holidays!
Disclaimer: I don't ownanything but my imagination.
Still unbeta'd, so any mistakes are my own. Enjoy…
The moonlight passed through the half parted curtains and hit Remus's outstretched hand, slipping through his spread fingers like molten silver. It clashed with the deep red that surrounded him, somehow the dim light making everything seem ashen and ominous. Remus sighed as his fingers played with the weak moonbeams, creating shadows and shapes that may or may not remind him of Sirius.
Remus sighed again. He knew he was selfish. When the Hat had placed him in Gryffindor, all those years ago, Remus had been so proud. His mum had also been in Gryffindor and she was one of the strongest and bravest people he had ever known. But Remus had soon discovered, much to his disappointment and self-pity, that maybe—just maybe—the Hat had been wrong.
Remus didn't think he was strong; he certainly was not brave. He couldn't stand up to his own friends when they took a joke or a prank just a little bit too far, he couldn't find it in him to insist they stayed away during the full moons because, really, it was still too dangerous, and he couldn't even try to face Sirius about his feelings.
He was selfish and weak, Remus knew that. Right now, though, with his thoughts taking him to very dangerous places, Remus was actually scared of just how selfish he could really be. The temptation to spend the full moon in Sirius's body was getting stronger with every passing moment.
He knew that ultimately he wouldn't allow that to happen, that is, if it was in his own hand, but the plans—a true Marauder's plans—forming in his treacherous mind of how he could delay the making of Slughorn's antidote were unsettling him, filling him with guilt and shame. Still, Remus couldn't deny the longing he felt deep in his bones, deep in his very soul, to spend just one full moon as a human, standing on two legs and having complete control over his body and mind.
He also knew that all he had to do was simply ask Sirius and the other boy would say yes instantly. That's the kind of person Sirius was; he'd do anything for his friends, even go as far as turn into a werewolf. But Remus didn't want him to, not really. Even if it weren't for the blasted, newly found feelings Remus had for him, Sirius was one of his best friends and one of the people closest to him in his entire life, so Remus knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he ever allowed Sirius to do this for him.
But still, the temptation was there and it haunted him during the hours he spent alone in the dormitory.
At half past ten, Peter came in to tell him that Sirius and Lily had just returned from 'their' Prefect duties and that he and James would play a couple of games of Wizard's chess before going to bed. Remus said goodnight to Peter promising he would tell him what would happen with the mysterious person Sirius was supposed to be meeting in the morning.
There were three things absolutely necessary in any Marauder escapade (that is, apart from the brilliance of their minds as Sirius so modestly put it and apart from their wicked ways with a wand as James so elegantly put it.) One, the Invisibility Cloak; it belonged to James, but he was more than happy to lend it to one of his friends if mischief called for it. Two, the twin mirrors Sirius and James had purchased last year; sure, they belonged to the two boys but the mirrors had actually proved very helpful and had saved and entertained all four Marauders on many occasions. And three, the Map—the Marauder's Map; it was their greatest achievement to that day along with James, Sirius and Peter becoming Animagi.
The Map was something that astonished even Remus himself. It had been a project almost impossible and exceptionally demanding and when, barely two months ago, the final spells were placed after two years of hard work, Remus couldn't believe they had really made it work. James and Sirius were surely two of the most brilliant minds in Hogwarts at the moment, but they had never really shown any talent in sitting their arses down and actually researching and working hard; that's where Remus had come in and made them concentrate and see some results.
At some point, though, Remus had been a little bit disturbed by the power the Map held and what they had really created when he realised the extent to which the Map's power went. Seeing the Minister of Magic's name on it, when he hadn't been present at Hogwarts when the Map had still been at workings, had alerted Remus. Of course, James had rushed to say that there was nothing wrong with the 'unexpected wide-reach'—to use James's own words—the Map had, especially since they had never used Dark magic and they never would. But Remus knew that magic didn't have to be Dark in order for it to be dangerous. He supposed, though, that nothing bad would happen as long as they took good care of it.
Remus put on the Cloak and folded the Map and placed it safely in his pocket for the moment. He already knew enough of Hogwarts and Filch's habits to not need its assistance just yet. He also didn't want to give into the temptation and look at the name of the other person heading towards the small classroom next to Charms; it was likely that he would chicken out and then beat himself up for missing the chance to find out Sirius's secret or that he would simply work himself up in a temper. The thought of Sirius meeting up with a girl in secret for some reason, while unlikely—unless the girl was from Slytherin (Remus shuddered)—was enough to drive him crazy. The fact that Remus was in l-…had a crush on his best friend didn't really give him the right to be possessive. Besides, there was a small part of his mind that doubted Sirius would ever meet up with a girl, in secret or not, for entirely different reasons.
The castle was cold and empty and Remus briefly wondered why nobody had ever thought of placing warming charms in the corridors, but then again, nobody was supposed to be wandering them in the middle of a freezing February night.
The castle was quiet and Remus placed a charm on his feet so that his footsteps became completely silent. He found the passageway leading down to Sixth Floor and slipped easily through the narrow corridors leading down to Fifth and then Fourth Floor. He made sure to check before rounding each corner and just as he was descending the last steps leading to the Third Floor he spotted Mrs. Norris standing right in the middle of the entrance to the Charms corridor.
Remus cursed silently his luck, but it was only to be expected after navigating through four floors without encountering even a single ghost. He looked towards the opposite way and he saw his chance as a stair leading to a bathroom situated for some unknown reason between two floors started moving very, very slowly. He conjured up a small, blue hummingbird from a piece of wood he was carrying around with him after Sirius had suggested it. He made sure it was completely mute before sending a few sparks and awakening one of the portraits just as the bird flew past it.
Thankfully, Mrs. Norris had not spotted the bird before the old woman in a very exuberant green dress had started praising the colours of its feathers and cooing and calling to it. The cat's attention snapped right to the portrait and when it spotted the blue hummingbird, it predictably jumped right behind it, chasing fast enough that it was on the stair before it had completely moved out of reach.
Remus smirked and turned to the corridor feeling both self-satisfied and awkward at breaking so many rules so easily. He decided to temporarily blame Sirius's body for this; he had once heard something called 'muscle memory' and he chose to accept that theory as he was sure that, had he been in his own body, he would at least feel more guilty.
The small classroom next to the main Charms one was reserved for extra practice sessions or for private tutoring and it was bare inside but for a handful of desks. Remus paused right outside its closed door and took a deep breath before pulling out the Map and muttering 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good'. He rolled his eyes at how terribly accurate that was in the present moment.
He tried to make as little noise as possible as he unfolded the map and searched for the Third Floor and for the Charms corridor. It appeared that the classroom was already occupied and Remus stared hard for a few seconds before resigning himself and thinking that really, he should've expected that.
"Is this your wand?" Regulus asked and Remus noted that what he should have also expected was for Sirius's brother to be at least as smart as Sirius himself.
"Yes, that's my wand," Remus confirmed, gripping said wand a bit too tightly.
"Are you sure?" Regulus asked, this time leaning a bit towards him in order to take a better look.
"I'm positive this is my wand; I should know after six years." Remus's voice had gone tense now with the insecurity that gripped him.
"Hm…I thought it was a bit longer and darker…" Regulus went on thoughtfully, apparently reluctant to drop he subject.
"You haven't seen enough of it, obviously."
"Would you like to see more of my wand, Regulus?" Remus asked in what he hoped was an annoying big-brother way. It certainly was an annoying Sirius way so he supposed it would have the same effect. Regulus thankfully shook his head rather resigned to keep his mouth shut in case he ended up on the wrong side of a vicious hex.
Remus was practically trembling. He could feel his heart skipping every other beat and he had the impression that his hands hadn't stopped sweating from the moment Regulus looked into his eyes. The classroom was cold and bigger than he had expected and somehow Sirius's little brother was terrifying; what with his booming voice, snarky expression and easy remarks about wands. Remus felt like a fish out of water.
It had been such a stupid idea to enter the classroom even after he had seen Regulus's name. Unfortunately, curiosity had gotten the better of him and he found himself opening the door to one of the most uncomfortable, awkward and kind of dangerous situations he had ever found himself in. And Remus had once found himself diving in the lake butt-naked in a cold March evening thanks to a stupid bet; so that was saying a lot.
Remus didn't know much about Regulus, other than what Sirius sporadically told them and that mostly consisted of insults and mockery. Worst of all, he didn't really know what kind of relationship the two brothers had—or at least used to have—and how Sirius treated the other boy. Remus didn't remember when was the last time he had seen them talking—or even shouting and fighting—with each other. Sirius usually made sure he avoided any unnecessary contact with the younger Slytherin.
And that's exactly what had picked Remus's curiosity. What could have possibly happened that would lead Sirius to offer his help to Regulus with his Transfiguration? He desperately wanted to find out, but he couldn't come up with a way of asking or bringing the subject up.
"Hey, are you even listening to me?" Regulus asked a bit too close to Remus's ear and he almost jumped out of his chair.
"I'm talking to you, Sirius, the least you can do is pay attention," Regulus almost pouted and Remus was disconcerted by how familiar the expression was before it turned into a smirk. "Unless of course you'd rather not be here; unless you'd prefer to be with your so beloved little Gryffindor friends."
Remus tried to keep a neutral expression, sure that, had Sirius been here, he would have had a very sarcastic and very inappropriate answer ready, but he chose to stay quite, silently gouging Regulus to go one.
"You can, you know, leave…"
"But?" Remus inquired indifferently, while his heart threatened to jump out of his ribcage and fall in his lap.
"Don't play dumb, Sirius. You know I wouldn't really have any trouble acting on my threat. Your pathetic little secret means nothing to me." Damn. Why couldn't Regulus be a little bit more specific?
Remus mentally slapped himself. Not so many hours ago he had felt he was violating Sirius's privacy by doing something as natural as peeing, and now he was trying to make Regulus spill Sirius's secrets. That was a new low for him. Wouldn't Sirius and James be delighted.
"And why didn't you try to bother someone else with this, Regulus?" he couldn't help but ask.
"First of all, stop calling me Regulus, you're not Mother. Second of all, I'm a Slytherin, I had to have some fun." Regulus's square logic left Remus completely baffled. He tried to avoid believing in stereotypes, but apparently Regulus was a living and breathing one.
"Okay, Reg," Remus had heard in the distant past Sirius calling him that, "where do you want to begin from, today?"
All in all, Remus had to admit, the tutoring had gone smoothly for the biggest part. He remained cold and distant and when Regulus didn't comment on his behaviour he guessed that Sirius must have been doing the same.
In the forty minutes they had spent in the classroom, Remus had practiced at least three different kinds of spells Regulus was having difficulty with and he had checked his essay pointing out to the younger boy mistakes and giving him advice on how to add a bit of length by using more quotes and references. Regulus had looked mildly surprised at that and Remus thought that under normal circumstances, the other boy would have expected his brother to suggest he simply make bigger letters.
He was rather tired by the time they had agreed to stop and go back to their respective dormitories, not just because it was late, but also because this day had been rather eventful and full and his mind needed immediately the roughly seven hour of sleep he would get.
As Remus didn't really know how much Regulus knew about Sirius and the other Marauders, he thought it wise to keep the Cloak hidden until he had at least parted with the other boy. As soon as they left the classroom and locked it behind them, Remus's usual awkwardness took residence once again and he started worrying about goodbyes and see-you-later's.
Thankfully, and surprisingly, it was Regulus who turned to him first timidly, his head bowed down, his eyes hiding and expression unreadable.
"Erm," Regulus tried to start before clearing his throat and resuming his little—probably prepared—speech, quickly. "Thanks, you know, and I'm sorry- uh, not really, but you know, anyway, I guess I'll see you in a few days, okay?"
"Hey, Reg…Um, would you mind not meeting up again this week?" Remus asked softly because he really didn't want to go through this while in Sirius's body.
"Oh. Yeah, sure…next week, then?"
"All right, next week."
"Right. Goodnight, Sirius."
"Bye, Reg," Remus replied softly and watched as the other boy turned and walked away.
Remus took the Cloak out and put it on, but instead of turning away and climbing the stairs leading up to the Fourth Floor, he leaned against a wall and slowly slumped down drawing his knees to his chest. He took just a few moments to breathe and he counted his heartbeats one by one by closing his eyes and feeling a vein pulse intently on his temple.
He remembered the day Regulus had been sorted into Slytherin and the reaction Sirius had. In many ways he wished he had never come to see him tonight and yet he couldn't help his natural want to try and fix whatever was broken between them. Sirius was a good actor, but not that good. Remus could see how much he still cared about his brother even in the rare times he would speak of him or fight with him.
Remus didn't think himself as cheesy or sappy. He might have started fancying another bloke, but he hadn't turned into a girl. He still felt awkward with extended shows of affection or prolonged physical contact and he still found flowers mildly annoying. But in that moment he wished he could hug Sirius to his chest and tell him he would listen whatever gibberish profanities he wanted to unleash against his family, that he was there and that, given the chance, he wouldn't ever let go of him.
He knew how broken he himself was and he didn't really delude himself with thoughts of being perfect for fixing Sirius, but he could try and at least they could be broken together.
He slowly got up and started climbing the stairs back to Fourth Floor, the Map in his hand at ready since he was too distracted to pay attention to his surroundings. He reached the portrait of the Fat Lady without any trouble and climbed inside without bothering to take off the Invisibility Cloak.
"So," came a voice from one of the couches in front of the dying fire, "did the kitchens relocate themselves or did you forget how to navigate through the castle, Remus?"
Shit, was the only thought in Remus's mind before taking off the Cloak and taking a seat next to Sirius.
"What is the pineapple doing here?" he said instead of 'hi', pointing to the exotic fruit sitting on the table between them and the fireplace.
"It's a house elf," Sirius said simply.
"What?" Remus exclaimed half laughing, half looking at Sirius in disbelief. "You're joking, right?"
"No, it was being rather persistent as far as cleaning the fireplace went and it just wouldn't go away. And I got bored waiting for you."
Remus stared at the innocent pineapple in shock. "You can't be-" he snapped his mouth before finishing the question, but the damage had already been done.
"'Serious'? I can't be serious?" Sirius asked, a bitter smirk playing on the corner of his lips at the dreadful pun, his expression showing that he clearly wasn't amused. There was definitely something wrong, Remus realised, as Sirius was actually the only person still finding this particular joke funny. "No, you're right; I can't be because I'm you."
"Okay, fine, stop it. Please reverse the awful spell and tell me what's going on."
Sirius didn't say anything immediately. After a few moments of silence he pointed his wand to the fruit and muttered a half-hearted Finite Incantatem and a very confused elf appeared for a second before it disapparated with a loud CRACK. Sirius just turned to him raising a single eyebrow and Remus knew what he was about to ask and that there was no way he could ever cover up successfully for what he'd been doing.
"So, did he tell you why?"
"What?" Remus asked perplexed, not at all the question he had been expecting, but still pretty sure that Sirius somehow already knew where he had been.
"I know you were with Reg, Remus."
"Oh. Right, yeah…I- Listen, Sirius, I'm sorry th-"
"Did he tell you why?"
"Why what?" Remus asked again, his voice soft and defeated, afraid of asking for Sirius's forgiveness, not sure if Sirius was willing to give it.
"Why I agreed to tutor him." Sirius's voice was flat and neutral, giving away just how terribly important the answer was to him.
"Yes," Remus said and he felt Sirius tensing, mere inches away from him and he could tell how his shoulders squared and his muscles tightened. After a beat he was sure Sirius had started sweating he went on. "He said he was threatening you about a secret or something. Wasn't very clear on the details, though."
Sirius visibly relaxed and he slumped back in the fluffy, luxurious cushions of the couch obviously relieved. "He isn't that stupid after all."
"I don't suppose you will tell me what he's holding over you," Remus tried to sound coaxing but Sirius shook his head, his cheeks turning a bit pink. "Well, that's interesting…" he commented thoughtfully and watched as Sirius turned even pinker. "Care to tell me at least how he found out whatever this top-secret is?"
"It's all Snivellus's fault," Sirius managed to sound petulant even though he was still blushing. "We were kind of fighting-"
"Verbally! There were no wands involved, I swear."
"Right. And he managed to make you spill a secret. Really? You raised to his bait?" Remus was surprised, to say the least. There was something very wrong with the whole picture, but he couldn't put his finger on what exactly.
"No, not exactly. He said something and I said something back—you know how these things go—and he may have made a ridiculous suggestion and I may not have been very convincing when I lied."
"'Ridiculous suggestion'? Sirius, you do realise that you're not helping your case here, right?" Remus was dying to know what had happened and he hoped Sirius wouldn't tease him too much.
"Well yeah…I mean, how could he ever know that- erm…never mind. Anyway, Reg heard what Snivellus said and he cornered me right afterwards. It was easier agreeing to his bloody terms than Obliviating him."
"You're unbelievable, Sirius," Remus said shaking his head.
"That I am, but you have to promise me you won't tell anything to James and Peter, Moony." Sirius pleaded with his voice and eyes and Remus would have fallen for it if it weren't for his own voice delivering the plea and his own eyes turning into a puppy's.
"Why?" he asked narrowing his eyes at the other boy.
"I want to tell them myself, but only after we're done with Reg."
"You know that Prongs would probably just help you dig some dirt and find a way to threaten Regulus himself, right?"
"Well, yes, but he'd pester me for all eternity to tell him what Reg knows." Remus was more than slightly surprised that this secret was apparently something Sirius hadn't even told James. It only helped to intrigue him even more.
"All right, I won't tell them anything, but be careful Sirius." What exactly he was warning him against, Remus wasn't sure, but he couldn't help the need to tell Sirius to protect himself. "I'm going to bed, I'm rather tired. Are you coming?"
"In a minute."
"Okay," Remus said and he stood up. "Goodnight, Padfoot," he mumbled before yawning.
"Hey, Remus," Sirius called just as he had started climbing the stairs and Remus turned around curiously, Sirius's borrowed face looking at him upside down from the couch, genuine amusement lighting it up this time. "I used the bathroom a couple of hours ago…" he informed him lewdly. "Nice," he said wiggling his eyebrows.
Remus could do nothing but turn bright red and flee up to their dormitory, Sirius's giggles following all the way.
Post A/N: Happy Holidays everyone!