His Greatest Wish, by AndromedaMarine
A/N: To Guest Reader AZ: My research comes from the Lexicon. There are a few canon mistakes in the books; for this story Tonks is a seventh year Hufflepuff during Harry's first year.
A/N2: This reads as a filler chapter even though it isn't. It's important to the twist of the whole story, and as such the rating for this chapter is a slightly higher T for serious swearing. No pun intended. Please let me know if there are any inconsistencies in this chapter.
Sirius stood frozen for one second before unceremoniously dropping the plate of food on the table and hurrying forward to Remus's shaking form. He sank down on his haunches, balancing on the balls of his feet as he reached out to put a solid hand on his best mate's shoulder. At the contact, Remus stilled, but only fractionally. After a moment he curled more in on himself and the trembling increased.
"Remus, what's wrong?" Sirius asked urgently, an edge of panic in his voice.
Remus shook his head but didn't look up.
"Talk to me," Sirius pleaded, tightening his grip on Remus's shoulder. "Please, what's wrong?"
Remus took in a deep breath, shuddered as he let it out, and slowly lifted his head to gaze at his best friend. "It's too much," he whispered, fingers knotted in his shaggy hair. "Everything going on, it's just too much."
Sirius shifted from his awkward squat to sit cross-legged in front of Remus. "Umbridge?"
"Umbridge, the idea that Severus will hide me if the hag gets her way. Everything." His voice was ragged but quiet. "I'm scared, Siri. I don't deserve you lot."
It was a testament to the strength of their friendship that Sirius did not laugh. "Can I ask you a question?"
Remus tipped his head in a nod, his face ashen.
"Where would any of us be if we didn't have each other? And I mean really, where would we be? I know I would be so sullen and withdrawn that I probably wouldn't have any friends." He paused, but Remus remained silent. "And Peter? How would he have ever passed third year Potions without help from Sev? Where—where would Regulus be?"
Remus's fingers relaxed from his hair and dropped limply in front of him. "What have I done to deserve friends like you?"
Sirius tilted his head to one side and contemplated his companion. "Well, it's more the fact you exist, isn't it?"
Sirius sighed. "Rem, you didn't deserve to be bitten by Greyback and get lycanthropy, but it happened anyways. Lily's family didn't deserve to lose their dad, but it happened anyways. Deserving things isn't always attached to doing things. You didn't do anything to deserve us or not, it just happened because it happened. And nothing related to being a werewolf will ever change that. You have…nothing…to be scared of."
"But what if Umbridge—"
"Who gives a load of dragon dung if Umbridge pushes her law through? Do you think that's going to stop us being your friends? Do you think that's going to stop Sev from keeping his word? You're safe either way, Rem. You're safe here if she gets shot down, and you're safe at Prince Manor if she isn't." Siri's voice softened along with his eyes. "This isn't about anything you've done…so what makes you think you don't deserve us?"
"Would you feel entitled to friends if you were like me?" Remus lashed out unexpectedly, and for the first time outside of transformation, Sirius saw the wolf in his friend's eyes.
Sirius didn't speak for a moment as he processed the sudden image of ferocity. Then, he replied quietly: "Entitled? No, not entitled. I would be thankful for any friends I had. Humbled."
"You'd feel undeserving," Remus finished. "You'd be scared that you'd hurt someone, even though you have the Wolfsbane. You'd be terrified, Sirius."
Sirius frowned. "What makes you—"
"I heard Severus after I left the library," Remus interrupted, anguish spreading over his features. "I heard him, Sirius. He thinks I'm a threat, even though he said to my face that I'm not. If I go a moon without Wolfsbane, not even he could control me, and I know how powerful he is."
Sirius's face hardened. He straightened his back and stood, holding out his hand to Remus in a gesture of trust. "Then it's a good thing you're not stupid enough to skip it."
Jacqueline Clearwater stood in the Entrance Hall with her cloak secured by a Ravenclaw crest brooch beneath her throat and fur-lined gloves in one hand. She checked her watch for the tenth time in as many minutes, glancing up the broad staircase again. Her heart leapt when she heard a voice behind her that sounded like Sirius, but she sighed when she turned around and realized it was just Regulus coming out from the Great Hall, with Peter behind him.
Regulus frowned as he and Peter walked the final steps to where Sirius's girlfriend stood. "Why are you still here?" he asked Jackie in confusion.
"Obviously since Sirius hasn't shown up," she replied. Her brow furrowed. "He said he'd be down ten minutes ago."
Reg shared a glance with Peter. They both knew Siri had taken breakfast up to Remus in the Room of Requirement, but if Jackie was alone down here then something must have gone wrong for Siri to blow off his date. "We'll go back up and see if he's in the dormitory."
"I'll come with you," Jackie said, but frowned when Regulus and Peter shared another look and Pete subtly shook his head. "What is it?"
"It won't take long," Reg offered kindly, "just wait here. We'll go get him."
And they went up the stairs, sprinting after reaching the top of the second turn where Jackie could not see them.
"What could've happened?" Pete panted as they reached the fourth floor.
Regulus shook his head. "Won't know till we get there."
Two minutes later they skidded to a halt in front of the flat expanse of wall across from Barnabas the Barmy, and the door appeared almost instantly.
They burst in just as Sirius took Remus's hand and pulled him to his feet.
Peter, breathless, wheezed, "What's going on? Jackie's been waiting downstairs for ten minutes!"
At this, Sirius wheeled around back at Remus. "See? You can't be a prat and think that we don't care about you, because obviously we do." He gestured to his brother and Peter. "We trust you, so you should trust us. You're not going to hurt anyone."
Regulus stared at his brother and friend. "What's going on?"
Rem gave a delicate shake of the head to Siri, but Siri's eyebrow went up as he cocked his head questioningly. "They need to know, mate."
"They've known for four years, it's just taken this long for me to realize what an idiot I am for forgetting what I am."
"Did you really forget?" Sirius asked with a skeptical expression.
Remus glared at him. "I forgot how dangerous I am. And I shouldn't have done that."
"I have an idea," Peter piped up unexpectedly, uncannily reading into the situation. "Tomorrow night we all keep Remus company."
"No!" Remus protested immediately, drawing back from his friends.
Sirius fixed a hurt gaze on his best friend. "Remus, I've been with you during the last two transformations. What will it take for you to believe you're not a threat to us?"
"A cure," Remus replied instantly. "But there isn't one. I still don't like that you insisted on being there with me." He looked down. "The transformation is difficult to see."
"That's what friends do, they're there for each other."
Regulus interjected. "Jackie's still waiting, if anyone's interested."
Sirius and Remus turned to face Regulus and Peter.
"Can you tell her that I'm really sorry and I'll make it up to her later, but there's something I have to take care of?"
Peter and Remus gaped at Sirius, but Regulus merely nodded. "Sure. But she won't be happy."
"Yeah, well, she's not my best friend, is she?"
At this final note, Regulus turned on his heel and a second later Peter followed. When the door snapped shut behind them, Sirius's shoulders sagged and Remus went over to the table, pulling the plate of food towards him.
"Your warming charms suck," he said conversationally as he cast his own over the plate before digging in.
Regulus and Peter descended the seven staircases a little quicker than usual, aware that Jackie had been waiting for a long time. When they finally reached the second turn she came into view, a frown on her face.
"Finally!" she exclaimed, but her expression turned confused when she noticed that her boyfriend wasn't with them.
"He can't come," Regulus said smoothly, with a sincere tone of being sorry laced through his voice. "Something came up unexpectedly and he said he'd make it up to you later."
Jackie stared. "He's blowing me off?"
Peter shrugged in reply, unsure of how to go about lying to her. Regulus seemed to have it under control.
"In a manner of speaking."
"It's Valentine's Day!"
Regulus winced. "I don't think he realized that, Jax. This is Sirius we're talking about." When he noticed that Jackie looked about to explode, he diffused the situation. "C'mon, Pete and I are going into Hogsmeade. Come with us? I'll treat you to a Butterbeer to make up for my brother."
Jackie relaxed and considered the two boys in front of her. "Oh, all right."
Down in The Three Broomsticks, James and Mary were just finishing their breakfast and Butterbeer. Mary didn't quite know what to think of James's behavior; the arrogant fifth year hadn't exactly paid her much attention during their meal. But as soon as they stood to leave he flashed her a wide smile and reached for her hand. Mary didn't see Severus and Lily walking into the pub.
Severus and Lily went to the bar and swiftly got the attention of Madame Rosmerta, who promptly provided them with two Butterbeers. As Severus reached for the handle, someone knocked into his shoulder and he spun with the force, his balance perfect, to face whoever it was.
"Potter," he said with a dangerous calm, "excuse you."
James shot a sneer at Severus but his face quickly morphed into a grin when Lily turned to join them, both Butterbeers in hand. She passed one to Sev as she stared with an indifferent expression on her face at James before reaching up on her tip toes to kiss Sev's cheek and pull him away.
"Let's get a seat, love," she said at a perfectly audible volume, and watched with satisfaction as James's smile flickered and he left with Mary in tow.
Severus's eyes followed James's retreat as Lily led him one-handed through the throng of students to a table, and only as he sank down into his chair did he return his attention to Lily. He did a double take. "What?"
"You," Lily began, "are entirely too distracted by him. What did I tell you earlier?"
"Sorry, you're right. It's just…you saw him bump into me a moment ago."
Lily's eyebrow went up. "And? It's a crowded pub, he might not have done it on purpose."
"It's not that crowded, most of the couples are up at Madame Puddifoot's." He sighed. "Never mind. Today's about you."
Lily's expression eased and she grinned at him over her Butterbeer.
They fell into easy conversation, discussing the looming O.W.L.s, whether or not Sirius would stay with Jackie in the long run, their odds of winning the Quidditch Cup for the fourth year running. Soon Potter left Severus's mind entirely, letting him relax even as the pub grew noisier with rowdy students. They were nearly finished with their drinks when the pub door opened and Lily looked up to see Regulus, Peter, and Jacqueline Clearwater enter—but no Sirius.
"Sev, why isn't Sirius with Jackie? It's Valentine's Day, he told me he was taking her on a date."
Sev followed her gaze and his brow furrowed; he waved the trio to their table and asked, "Where's Sirius?"
Regulus and Peter shared a glance and Jackie looked a little downbeat, but when she veered off to the girl's toilets, Regulus slipped into the seat beside Severus and spoke quietly.
"He's with Remus in the Room of Requirement. When Pete and I got there it looked like Rem had had some sort of breakdown, he still seems to think he's a danger because of his furry little problem. We had to leave before we got a better idea of what was going on because Jackie was waiting for us in the Entrance Hall."
Sev frowned. "Perhaps I should go check—"
But Peter cut him off. "Siri's got it under control for now, and besides, you're on a date."
Lily flushed but remained silent.
"He blew off Jackie to stay with Remus?" Sev asked for confirmation, and both boys nodded. "Did he take his dose?"
"Yeah, he took it this morning before heading to the Room," Peter supplied.
They all fell silent when Jackie returned, and Regulus smoothly rose to his feet to get her the Butterbeer he'd promised.
As Remus sat at the table eating the slightly cooler breakfast than it had been when leaving the kitchens, Sirius stood a few feet away as still as a statue, staring at his best friend. After several seconds of silence Remus looked up and sighed, dropping the fork to the plate with a clatter.
"This isn't going to be easier if you stand there like I'm an injured hippogriff."
Sirius started and blinked, averting his gaze. "I'm sorry."
Remus shrugged. "Don't be, you knocked a bit of sense into my thick skull, even though I still stand by everything I said."
"I want to help you. But…" Sirius trailed off and sat across from his best friend. "But you're like this because of something Severus said. You should be talking to him."
"He's in Hogsmeade with Lily, I can't exactly rush down and demand to talk to him about what he said behind my back."
Sirius scratched his neck. "I'm going to call one of the house elves up here so I can get some breakfast since I won't be getting any with Jackie."
Remus nodded in understanding as he picked up his fork and resumed eating.
She popped into existence a moment later, her enormous ears flapping. "Master Sirius, what can Misty gets for you?"
"Could you just bring me a bit of breakfast? I don't care what it is, I just need some food."
"I is being right back, sir!" and she popped away. She returned moments later, holding a plate filled with an assortment of breakfast foods. She handed it to Sirius and bowed before disappearing again.
Sirius dug into the food, silent despite his racing mind. He understood why Remus had suffered this breakdown, but it didn't make sense that Severus would say one thing to Remus but another behind Remus's back. Sirius had been with Remus during the last two transformations, and while the Wolfsbane eased all pain associated with the stretching of skin and shifting of bones, watching the change was terrifying. Sirius understood why Remus believed he was still a threat to the school and the village, even though he didn't believe it himself. He'd seen the wolf, the tame wolf. The non-threatening wolf. I really need to become an Animagus, Sirius thought as he finished the last of his eggs.
"No," Remus replied as if he had heard the thought cross Siri's mind.
"No, you're not to try to become an Animagus until after we've graduated and it's legal to take the Ministry class."
"You didn't have to, it's written all over your face. You get the same expression on it whenever you're thinking about which animal you want to become."
Sirius grumbled. "I only want to keep you company in a form that's less imposing than a human," he replied shortly.
At this Remus pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, looking weary. "When will you understand that you are not going to risk your life for me?"
Sirius stopped with his mouth open, his interruption dying on his lips. "Remus…"
"No! You've researched it, you know the risks! You know how hard it is! If you don't get it right on the first try, you could die." Remus looked up at Sirius, his brow furrowed. "You're my best friend, Sirius. If I lost you because you were trying to be a hero, I don't know what I'd do."
"I'm not trying to be a hero!"
But Remus had heard enough. He slammed his fist down on the table, anger etched in his tired face. "You are trying to do something that I've asked you not to! Sirius, you don't understand. You just don't. And I'm trying to find a way to make you understand that every time you do something or want to do something that risks your life trying to make mine easier…there are just no words. I—cannot—lose—you."
"Easy!" Sirius exclaimed, standing and rounding the table to drop into the chair beside Remus, who had started shaking again. "Remus, mate, I—I don't know what's gotten into you, but if you want me to wait until we're through with Hogwarts then I will! Just…you have to give me something here, you're scaring me."
Remus clenched his hands until his knuckles turned white. Cautiously, Sirius laid one hand on Rem's shoulder and the other on a whitening fist. "I don't know what's wrong with me," he whispered.
"There's nothing wrong with you," Sirius argued. "This is Umbridge's fault, for what she's trying to push on Britain. On you."
But Remus shook his head. "No, Sirius, it's not just HER!" he yelled, and suddenly he was standing and the table had been thrown across the room, and Sirius stared at his best friend in fear. He didn't move a muscle as he watched Remus take in such deep breaths that his chest heaved with an unnatural rhythm, the blood rushing and pounding and thundering through his veins as if in some way the wolf had come early. And he knew. Somehow Sirius knew that whatever had Remus in this state hadn't been fair for him, hadn't been welcome, hadn't been helpful—and whatever or whoever the source may be, Sirius resolved right then and there to get to the bottom of it. And he knew exactly who to start with. Severus.
Remus turned and kicked the chair he had been sitting in, and the side effect of strength from his curse caused the wood to splinter.
Sirius could barely breathe, his knuckles white with the tension in his hands. He didn't dare speak to his friend, unsure of what would happen. Sirius had never felt such fear in his life, had never felt such helplessness when it came to his best friend. And he finally understood why Remus didn't want him present for the transformations.
Remus wished he could tell Sirius why he was so bothered, but Severus had sworn him to secrecy, and nothing but Severus's consent could allow Sirius in on the secret. He knew he was acting rashly, he knew he was scaring his best friend, but the blood ran like fire through his veins, and the wolf's strength had already come to him. He took several more deep breaths and fished out his wand, noticing from the corner of his eye that Sirius shrank a little at the sight.
"Reparo," he muttered while pointing the wand at the chair, and the splinters sprang back to their original place as the chair mended. Remus sank to the floor, finally exhausted. "I'm sorry," he said faintly, the pounding of his heart thunderous in his ears. "I'm sorry."
Finally Sirius felt safe enough to release his own seat and scramble over to Remus.
"I'm sorry," Remus repeated in a quiet whisper, until he was completely unaware that he kept saying it. "I'm sorry."
Sirius reached out with a cautious hand and placed it on Rem's shoulder. "Let me take you to Madame Pomfrey."
Sirius slowly got to his feet and then crouched behind Remus, grabbing him beneath the arms and pulling up. Once Remus was on his feet, he guided him to the door. "You need a Calming Draught."
"Remus, shhh. You're going to be okay."
Sirius felt his eyes sting.
They made it down two flights of stairs. Two to go.
They passed no one, as a majority of the school was down in Hogsmeade for Valentine's Day. Finally they were on the third floor, and Sirius helped Remus to the double doors of the hospital wing. "Madame Pomfrey," he called when he pushed one of the doors open. "Madame Pomfrey, please help!"
She burst from her office in a flurry. "Bring him here," she instructed, taking up Remus's other side and helping him to one of the beds. "What happened? Has he taken his dose?"
"Yes, of course, he took it this morning." The sting in his eyes wouldn't go away. "I went to bring him breakfast and when I got to him he was sitting in a corner, shaking and all pale."
"How long has he been like this?" She nonverbally summoned a phial of Calming Draught, which she tipped down Remus's throat.
He coughed, and relaxed after a few moments. "I'm sorry." Remus's faint mantra felt like a sick background noise to Sirius. "I'm sorry."
"Can't be more than an hour. I got him to talk for a bit, but then something must have broken because he just went and overturned a table. I think something happened he didn't tell me about and it's affecting his control over his strength. He went from being really weak like he usually is the day before, to really strong. Strong enough to splinter an oak chair with one kick."
Poppy pulled the blanket up over Remus and brought out her wand, flourishing it over her patient as she chanted one long diagnostic spell. Sirius stood behind her, fidgeting with his hands, watching Remus anxiously. "Be a dear and pull a curtain around," Poppy requested once she released the spell and began examining the results that shimmered above Remus's body.
Sirius hurried and pulled a curtain around the bed, concealing Remus and Madame Pomfrey from the remainder of the wing before slipping behind it as well.
Around the same time Remus had overturned the table, Severus and Lily were just leaving Honeydukes, their pockets laden with purchases. They stepped outside into the frigid February air, just as James and Mary passed the sweet shop's entrance. And almost as suddenly, both Severus and Lily felt an inexplicable pull in their guts that left them shaky and worried.
"Finally getting sick of him?" James called out with a laugh, seeing the distressed expression on Lily's face. Mary smirked.
"Fuck off," Sev snarled at him, both hands finding Lily's waist within seconds. His face softened. "You feel it too?"
"Something's wrong," Lily whispered, her eyes wide, turning her head as she looked up to the distant battlements of Hogwarts.
And together, they spoke in a quiet breath, "Remus!"
"What—" Lily started to say, but Sev interrupted her, sensing that Potter would be more than happy to discover Remus's secret.
"We need to get back to the castle." Quickly they turned back down High Street, leaving James and Mary to stare after them.
"Were they talking about Lupin? What's wrong with him?"
James didn't move, his eyes still fixed on Lily's retreating back. "I don't know…but I'm gonna find out."
Alice and Frank hurtled down High Street after somehow sensing Remus's distress, and nearly bowled over Sev and Lily as they passed The Three Broomsticks, where Peter joined them. He mentioned that Regulus had felt the pull as well, but was remaining with Jackie because he didn't want to worry her and it would look stupid if they all up and left at once. "She's doubtful enough as it is, since Sirius blew her off," Peter huffed as they speed-walked past Hogsmeade Station towards the school gates.
"What did you tell her?" asked Frank, his breath creating a white cloud in the air before him.
Peter shook his head. "Just that I wanted to go off by myself for a bit."
They made it back to the castle in record time, considering all the snow, and ignored Filch as he howled at them for trailing snow and mud into the Entrance Hall. They all but sprinted up the staircases to the third floor, where they stopped.
"We can't all go in at once, Madame Pomfrey will think it's suspicious that we all knew he was there," said Sev through deep breaths. "Lily should go first."
She stared at him, surprised. "Why me? You're the one who makes the potion."
"You've been making that face all week that means you're coming down with a cold. You need Pepper-Up and I'll come in a couple minutes after you—" but Lily cut him off.
"It makes more sense if we go in together, Sev, it's Valentine's Day." Sev wordlessly agreed and pointed his wand at Lily's cloak, nonverbally releasing a column of steam to dry it off. It was a mark of how long they'd all been friends that no one seemed surprised by this.
"What about us?" Alice asked, worrying her hands together as she glanced at the doors of the hospital wing.
But Peter already knew. "We go back to the tower and head off Potter."
Sev nearly cricked his neck in the process of turning around to face Peter. "How—"
Peter pointed out the window they were near, and Sev's heart nearly stopped when he saw James trekking through the snow with Mary at his side. "Okay, let's go." He gently nudged Lily to the doors, which she opened and stepped inside, coughing for effect, Sev behind her with an appropriately worried expression on his face.
Peter, Frank, and Alice all gazed out the window for a few more beats before hurrying up the stairs to the seventh floor.
The first thing they noticed was that the Hospital Wing had only one occupant—screens were up around a single bed, and they could make out the stout outline of Madam Pomfrey moving behind it. There was another shape, unmoving and seated, that they knew must be Sirius.
"Madame Pomfrey?" Lily called.
"One moment, dear," she replied from behind the screen. When she came out she stopped in her tracks, obviously unprepared for the sudden sight of both Severus and Lily. And for once in her life, she didn't know how to address them.
Severus took pity on their resident Healer. "We know Remus and Sirius are here," he said quietly. "But if it's not too much trouble, Lily could use some Pepper-Up."
Poppy nodded curtly and flicked her wand, nonverbally summoning the potion. She handed it to Lily, who downed it in one go. The resulting steam that poured from her ears gave the impression that her whole head was on fire. Lily handed the phial back and Poppy led them to the neatly concealed bed, upon which Remus lay, unconscious, his skin a chalky white. Beads of sweat stuck to his forehead.
Sirius looked up at them, an inscrutable expression on his face.
"What happened?" asked Lily sadly, her gaze fixed on Remus.
Poppy resumed casting the Healing spells, and each one produced an insubstantial golden mist that gently sank down into the werewolf's body. "Stress," she answered. "He's under far too much of it. If this is how his mind reacts now, I'm frightened for what he'll go through next month."
Lily sat in the chair on the opposite side of the bed from Siri and took Rem's hand in hers. Sev watched her, his throat tightening without permission from his brain. After a beat his eyes turned to Sirius and for a moment he was thrown; there was an intensity in the dark blue eyes that he hadn't seen since before his death, and for a brief second Severus didn't know what to think—so he used the gentlest and most subtle form of Legilimency he knew.
One word stood out: Threat.
Sev pulled back, startled. He stepped around Poppy and quietly asked Sirius to speak in the corridor.
Once the heavy door shut, Severus muttered, "Muffliato," and turned to his friend. "What's going on?"
"He overheard you," Sirius said without prelude.
Sev's mind immediately went back to the conversation in the library after their disastrous attempt at heading off Umbridge. And suddenly he understood. With the weight of Remus's own secret on his shoulders, plus Severus's, and then the apparent dishonesty between them, Severus finally understood. "Oh," he breathed as most of it fell into place. But something didn't quite fit. Before he could voice this, Sirius continued.
"In the interest of full disclosure…that's not the only thing that brought him here." Sirius watched Sev's face carefully, gauging his reaction. "I've been studying up on Animagi without telling him, but he caught on today and…" he shrugged, a little helpless. "I don't know. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but he's adamant that I wait until I can take the Ministry class. He's scared I'll do it wrong and end up dead, and…and said that he couldn't deal with that."
This was the missing piece, and this, Severus could understand. After learning about his counterpart in Severus's past and the great lengths to which his friends had gone to keep him company, Remus wouldn't want anyone to risk their life for the sake of comfort when he already had a potion that made him harmless. Remus overhearing his tiny lecture to Alice had only been the instigator.
In his rush to get everything out, Sirius plowed on. "Madame Pomfrey says it's just stress coupled with the curse, but I'm worried it's something more than what I got out of him in the Room, and more than something a Healer can diagnose. I just don't understand."
And therein lies the rub, Sev thought sadly. He knows something's different but Remus is bound to the secret. "I don't know what to do," he said quite honestly.
Sirius had an answer. "When he wakes up, talk to him. I know what you meant when you were talking to Alice, but Rem didn't see the look you got on your face when you corrected her. He doesn't know that there's a difference." At this point Sirius had begun to pace a hole in the flagstones, and it was quite clear to the former potions master that Sirius had done some serious thinking for once in his life.
Now quite confused, Severus quirked an eyebrow up. "A difference?"
"Just because he's dangerous doesn't mean he's a threat."
Severus Prince stared at Sirius Black in slowly dawning wonder. The brilliance of this revelation hadn't crossed his mind at all, because in all his years he'd always seen danger connected permanently at the hip with threats, and living under both Voldemort's and Dumbledore's thumbs hadn't helped in this regard. "That's…that's brilliant, Siri," Sev breathed.
Unused to the praise, Sirius tinged pink, but kept his expression unchanged. "We should go back in," he muttered, glancing at the door.
"Wait," Sev said, reaching out to keep Sirius from turning away from him. "Why didn't you tell him that yourself?"
Sirius blinked. "Because he needs to hear it from you. He already knows I think he's being a git, but your opinion matters to him. To all of us."
Severus didn't say anything in response to this, perhaps because of the unexpected nature of Sirius's answer. The elder Black's shoulder slipped from Sev's grip as he moved to open the door. They returned just as Poppy released the last Healing spell over Remus. Lily hadn't moved, her face now lightly streaked with tears, Remus's hand still encased in hers. Sev went to her side instantly.
"How long will he be out?" Sev asked as he squeezed Lily's shoulder in comfort.
"Several hours, at the least. Those spells were restorative; he needed so many because of his condition. Normally he'd be taken to St. Mungo's…" she saw Sirius blanch and quickly amended, "he can't, of course, else he be brought under scrutiny from the Ministry." She watched as the color returned to Sirius's face. "Regardless, he'll have to stay here until it's time for his transformation." She turned to look at Severus. "You'll be with him, yes?"
Sev nodded, noticing Sirius's hardened expression out of the corner of his eye.
"Best let him rest," she concluded, and bustled back to her office. Severus followed her after quickly squeezing Lily's shoulder again.
"Madame Pomfrey?" Sev asked.
The Healer had just sat behind her desk to start paperwork. "Hmm?"
"I would just like to share a suspicion." This caught her attention. "Only a few people know about Rem's furry little problem. But I think he's in danger of being discovered by another student."
He hesitated for effect. "James Potter."
Madame Pomfrey, who knew nothing about Sev's complex past and intense hatred for Potter, furrowed her brow in worry. "I shall take appropriate measures to protect Mr. Lupin's privacy," she assured Sev.
Severus nodded once and returned to the solemn bedside. Lily hadn't moved, but it was clear that she and Sirius had been talking in hushed voices so not to disturb Remus or Madame Pomfrey. He caught the tail end of their conversation.
"…worried. I just wish there was a way to know for sure."
"Know what for sure?" Sev asked softly as he drew up a chair with his wand.
"Whether the hag's law will go through. It's been on hold for weeks while the Wizengamot deliberates," Lily replied without looking at her boyfriend. "It frightens me what he might have to deal with."
Sirius looked down at Remus. "Well, whatever happens he won't have to deal with it alone."
The three remained by Remus's bedside for another hour, before Severus and Lily departed to the kitchens to get lunch from the elves.
Remus awoke nearly ten hours later, and he slowly became aware of a warm pressure against his leg…among other, more uncomfortable sensations associated with his limbs. With that realization he became fully awake in less than two seconds, and a stream of panic rushed through his body. The pressure against his leg shifted and then retreated, and suddenly Remus scrambled from the bed and toppled to the flagstone floor.
Sirius stared for a brief moment before rushing over to his friend and helping him up. "Ah, mate—"
"Siri?" Remus asked sharply, the panic evident in his voice.
"Get Pomfrey. I'm—" He abruptly stopped speaking as a wave of pain crashed over him and his muscles contracted involuntarily, nearly sending Sirius to the ground beneath him. He let out a deep, guttural groan of pain and Sirius wrangled him back onto the bed.
"Madame Pomfrey!" the elder Black yelled, and a moment later the healer burst from her office. "He's going early."
Calm and collected, Poppy Pomfrey began instructing Sirius. "I need you to find the Headmaster and bring him here. Then get Mr. Prince. Quickly!"
Sirius took one last look at Rem's seizing form on the bed before sprinting into the corridor. He stopped for a moment and cast his Patronus message for Severus before taking off again to the staircase and hurrying to the Headmaster's office. He wheezed the password to the gargoyle and impatiently waited as the staircase wound upwards. Sirius didn't hesitate to hammer on the door, but when Dumbledore didn't answer him and no one opened it, he froze.
He didn't move for several seconds, trying to decide what to do. Then he pushed the door open.
Stale silence greeted the fifth year – even the portraits didn't make their usual characteristic fake snores. "Professor Dumbledore?" Sirius called out.
"He's gone to the Ministry," said a snide voice, which Sirius recognized as his ancestor's.
"Alright, but why?" Sirius gradually calmed down his breathing as he surveyed his Headmaster's office.
When Phineas declined to answer and Armando Dippet spoke instead, Sirius turned pale and almost lost control of his knees.
A/N3: In case you haven't noticed how slow this update pace is, 39 will be several months out. Many apologies.
A/N4: Regulus's use of the nickname "Jax" is a direct shameless plug/reference to Peter Tyler's use of "Jax" as a nickname for his wife, Jackie Tyler, in Doctor Who.