Emmeline Vance's spaghetti bolognaise was heaven. "Can you visit every night, Vancey?" James was laughing, and that earned him a playful slap on the arm from Lily. The feinted pout on her face was only interrupted by Edgar's announcement of, "tea's up!", as he returned to the dining room, tray laden with tea, biscuits, and what seemed like rich Italian hot chocolate.
"Ooh," said Lily eagerly, taking a mug even before it was set down on the table. She patted her barely swollen belly. "Not that I need any help in the ballooning up department, but just this once, I think."
"For Elvendork," Sirius said as he stood up, sharing a grin with James.
That had Lily rolling her eyes. "Oh Lord, not this again."
The banter and friendly needling continued, while Sirius subtly extricated himself from it, Emmeline and Edgar joined in, each seemingly picking a side – Emmeline supported James, and Edgar agreed with Lily; yes, Elvendork was a completely ridiculous name, no, they didn't care that it was unisex. Nursing a cup of English breakfast (and half wishing he had something stronger), Sirius planted himself by the window. The curtains were partly drawn, but the small yard was not well-lit, and it was almost impossible to make out what was out there.
Hard to miss, though, was the loud crack that echoed even through the shut window. Frowning, Sirius had to squint hard to see-
Although it was not said loudly, something in his voice made everyone sit up. Closest to the door, Emmeline burst through, Edgar on her heels, calling for the rest of them. Somehow, Sirius streaked past him, and Emmeline, to the yard, his tea spilling and scalding his hand, the cup smashing on the steps. He had ran just far enough ahead of everyone to see the blood on Remus' face, sticky and dark, it seemed in the dim light that spilled through the open door. Sucking in a cold breath, Sirius rushed forward in time to catch his friend as he fell.
Supporting Remus' weight easily, Sirius bent slightly to scoop up his legs, carrying him like one would do a damsel. Having him like this had an oddly calming effect, and the first thing Sirius asked Peter after setting Remus down on the sofa and letting Lily look over him, was a short, "What happened?"
It was amazing just how wrong a simple reconnaissance mission could go. After Peter stammered out the story – tea helped; by the end, he could speak normally again – Edgar and Emmeline left to report to the rest of the Order, their faces grim, making Lily promise to keep them updated on Remus.
James made Peter go to bed, assuring him that he wouldn't be much help downstairs here. It was the truth – none of them were as good with healing as Lily was, and Sirius wished he'd paid more attention in class, or worked harder, anything, so that he could do something to help now.
He didn't realise how hard he was gritting his teeth until he tried to reply to James' summoning. Wrenching his jaw apart, he joined James in the hallway, speaking in hushed tones as not to disturb Lily's spellwork. Did the Death Eaters know? How did they find out? Were they ambushed? Why weren't they killed? Theories flew between them hard and fast, but Sirius couldn't shake the feeling that none of this mattered – what mattered was that Remus was still lying on that sofa, unconscious, and that someone had tried to hurt-
A quiet shuffling sound made them both look up. Lily, her forehead glistening with sweat, was pocketing her wand, aiming a small smile and a nod in their direction. James rushed towards his wife, and they hugged, kissing each other briefly. Now so relieved he felt a little giddy, Sirius made the usual shows of impatience at their display of affection, then suggested that Lily should take a rest, for Elvendork, he could look after Remus now.
Lily protested like he expected her to – protested being treated like she was disabled, protested 'Elvendork' – but James steered her firmly towards their bedroom, and Sirius made his way back to the living room, drawing up a chair and making himself comfortable. He would stay here all night if he had to.
The blood on Remus' face was mostly cleaned off, but some had dried near his hairline. The stark contrast of colours made him look much paler than usual, and his brow was slick with sweat. Asleep, he looked even thinner and shabbier – it was easy to forget just how perpetually tired and underfed he was; there was a quality in his eyes that energised, and Sirius was not used to seeing Remus like this.
He wasn't keeping count, but Peter was well into his second hour of snoring when Remus stirred. What initially started out as a clearing of the throat turned into a violent coughing fit, and Sirius quickly but gently propped Remus up to lean against him, summoning a glass of water with his free hand. The coughing subsided eventually, and Remus slumped again, but Sirius could tell by his uneven breathing that he was awake.
"Drink," he ordered, holding up the glass to Remus' face, making a disapproving hissing sound when he raised a shaking hand to take the water himself. Obediently, the hand dropped back onto his stomach, and the glass was drained quickly.
"Are you in pain?" he asked after Remus was done, transfiguring the glass out of existence. Remus shook his head no, and Sirius relaxed almost imperceptibly. He was smiling now, and back to his default charming despite the worry between his brows. "Good, then I don't have to wake Lily up. I was really dreading that – you know how crabby she gets now."
That earned a quiet chuckle, for which Sirius was glad.
He conjured up pillows and a thick blanket, making sure Remus was comfortable before ordering him to sleep. It didn't take much effort on his part to do so, and Remus soon dozed off. Sirius sat back into his chair, intent on remaining vigilant, but he himself drifted off, until all that could be heard was quiet, even breathing, and the sound of Peter's snores.