The World, Right Side Up

Summary: There are moments when the world turns upside down and you feel like you're barely hanging on. But with a click of understanding, the world can right itself again, at least partially. Set during PoA, second person perspective. Lupin's thoughts from when he sees Peter's name and bursts into the Whomping Willow.

A/N: Ever since I read PoA for the first time (years and years and years ago), I always loved the 'embraced Black like a brother' line. I've always wondered what was going on in Lupin's head, and this has been hanging around on my computer for awhile now.

Disclaimer: I own nothing...

There are days when the world turns upside down and you're left clinging to it, struggling to keep your grip, and sometimes you wonder why you're putting up so much resistance against the inevitable fall in the first place. The day your friends died, the world jerked and spun and turned topsy-turvy. Everything you believed in – friendship, loyalty, bravery – blasted apart in one disastrous night. But you held on – almost against your will, at times – but you stayed.

Tonight, the past returns in unexpected ways.

You watch the Map, intent on nothing but keeping Harry out of harm's way. You know he's gone to Hagrid's cabin to be supportive while the hippogriff is executed, and it almost makes you smile to think of just how much like James he really is. Harry is there for his friends, regardless of circumstance, and probably couldn't give a damn about the school rules he's breaking.

But you don't smile. You watch.

They appear out of Hagrid's cabin and you read their names quickly.

And you freeze.

There's an extra name on the map. A name that certainly doesn't belong.

Peter Pettigrew.


But it couldn't be. Peter, you know all too well, is dead. You try to convince yourself that the map is malfunctioning, but your stomach clenches, and you know – you just know – it's not. The Marauder's Map doesn't lie.

And then another name, also too familiar and too out of place, collides with Harry and his friends. Sirius Black – Padfoot, once upon a time – pulls Peter and Ron into the Whomping Willow.

Fear and shock and uncertainty take hold of you. Thoughts bounce and collide in your head.

And suddenly, you're moving. You don't know what to do, what to believe, what to feel. But you're running out of your office and out of the castle, down the steps and towards the Whomping Willow. You freeze the violent tree by levitating a twig and making it touch the knot. Then you're inside the tunnel, bent double, practically crawling. You're heading to a place in which you used to spend an unfortunate amount of time.

The Shrieking Shack mocks you, but you don't hesitate or look around. You can't.

You reach the bedroom and burst in, wand at the ready. Your eyes flicker over the scene – an injured Ron on the floor, Hermione cowering by the door, and Harry, who has his wand pointed at Sirius. They all look at you.

"Expelliarmus!" It's the right thing to do, no matter what the real situation is, and you catch all the wands deftly. You stare at Sirius, trying to read him. Trying to understand.

"Where is he, Sirius?"

You must know the truth. Sirius stares back at you with haunted eyes, and still, you don't know what to feel. What to believe. But you will know soon. Sirius points at Ron. You glance his way, and then back to Sirius. You gaze at him intently – you've always been good at reading people, particularly those you know well.

And you know Sirius Black probably better than anyone else alive.

Your mind races with thought, trying to sort it out. A friend you thought was dead...another friend who you thought betrayed him...three Marauders in the same room's almost too much. But your brain won't stop until the pieces come together.

"But then..." you mutter, "why hasn't he shown himself before now? Unless..."

The thought occurs suddenly, frighteningly fast. It clicks into place and you're scared to think about what it means. Memories of that night and all the nights after evaporate and reform themselves in your mind. Everything looks so different now.

And you know the truth, at last. These last twelve years, you've been living under a false impression. You've been blaming the wrong man, and grieving for another man who didn't deserve it.

"Unless he was the one...unless you switched...without telling me?"

Sirius nods, and you believe him. Because it makes sense – far more sense than the old know that, from this point on, you'll always wonder how you didn't see it in the first place.

You stare, and Harry starts to say something, but you don't listen. You lower your wand and walk to Sirius's side. You pull him up and into an overdue embrace. The world jerks and rights itself – not all the way, but at least partially – because you have one of your old friends back. He has suffered and grieved and so have you, and now he is here again. The memories you have of Sirius are no longer tainted with betrayal. There are a thousand things you should be thinking of – where you are, who you're with, and the fact that you're still hugging a convict, no matter how innocent – but you don't care.

Sirius, my brother.

You don't care because this short moment is a moment between reunited friends, and even though you're still hanging on to a mostly messed up world, you no longer feel like you're doing it alone.

A/N: That was so ridiculously fun to write...anyway, reviews are awesome and greatly appreciated.