1. Diagon Alley

"The other one, the grey one, looked nicer," said Walburga Black as she walked around her sons, examining their new dress robes.

Madam Malkin nodded. "Yes, they looked better, especially on the little one." She patted Regulus' head. Regulus just smiled quietly. Six year old Sirius fidgeted on the second stand and hoped that she would not treat him as a little boy too because unlike his brother he was much older by a whole year and a half.

"Let's try those again for the last look. And hurry up, I have much to do today," Walburga said.

"I like this black one more. It's nicer and I liked this fluffy thing here at my neck," said Sirius, pointing at the lace.

Madam Malkin and Walburga turned their heads to look at him.

"I like this one," Sirius repeated and tried to stand taller as he had seen his mother do when she was making decisions.

"The grey suits you more and it will fit with the theme that the Notts are throwing. We are buying the grey robes," said Walburga.

"No," said Sirius loudly, "I like the black. I want this one."

Regulus looked between his brother and mother, waiting to see what would happen. If his mother liked the grey, it must be prettier.

"Sirius, that's enough," said Walburga.

"I want this one. I won't wear the other one. And if you make me, I won't be nice to Theo at all, like you told me." Sirius stared at his mother with his arms folded. He saw his grandfather stand that way at Gringotts two weeks ago and make the goblins do what he wanted.

"I can add a little more lace to the grey robes for Regulus and make it match this one. It will look very nice and impressive together," said Madam Malkin in a tone she'd perfected over the years when dealing with pureblood families. That tone let the customer think they were making the decisions.

Sirius was still staring down this mother. They both had an identical expression on their faces.

"Fine," Walburga finally said. "I don't have time for this. There is still much to do. You can wear the black one but if I see any improper behavior from you in the next week, you will regret it."

Sirius nodded and smiled broadly. He really liked the black robes but he liked getting his own way even more.

2. The Sorting Hat

"Black, Sirius."

When Sirius heard Professor McGonagall say his name, he raised his head up and walked steadily towards the stool. As she placed the Sorting Hat on his head, he briefly looked at James, this boy he only met today but who he felt he had known forever, and saw James smile at him. He also glanced at his cousins, sitting at what he knew to be the Slytherin table and who were whispering in anticipation.

Sirius took a deep breath and got ready to be put at that table too as all the Blacks had been. And he thought to himself that he wished he would be in Gryffindor, just to spite every single member of his family. Gryffindor House also sounded fantastic from what James described. Mostly he wanted to briefly imagine the horror on Mother's face. He knew he just had a few moments in this possibility but he was determined to enjoy it.

"That never works out well," a voice said in his head and Sirius almost jumped on the stool.

"What?" he thought.

"Defying your parents and family. That won't end well. And you would just make it more difficult for yourself. There are many reasons all Blacks are in Slytherin and you would fit there too. You have the ambition and selfishness and intelligence. A proper fit for that House."

"What the hell?" Sirius thought. "Are you…are you the Hat?"

"Of course. And I think I should put you in Slytherin where you belong."

Sirius frowned, "So why haven't you?"

"Because I see recklessness and bravado and loyalty, too. And much stubbornness. And your heart seems to want a different fate."

"Then put me in Gryffindor!" Sirius demanded. His heart was beating wildly. He didn't really think there was another possibility at all, not really.

"It would make your life difficult. You should just let me put you in the House that you were meant to be in."

"No. I want another. Anything else but Slytherin." Sirius remembered the conversation he had with James on the train just a few hours ago and he pictured himself in Gryffindor Tower that James went into details about. James's Dad was rather proud of it. And Sirius scrunched his eyes tight and thought again in a tone his mother used when she knew everyone would instantly obey, "Put me in Gryffindor!"

"You're a stubborn one. Very well, but you might regret it…GRYFFINDOR."

Sirius heard the Sorting Hat yell the last word loudly and he laughed. The Hall erupted. Everyone seemed to be talking all at once at this unexpected development. Sirius heard his cousins screaming and some reluctant applause from the Gryffindor table. He knew that he would get a very large Howler the next day but he didn't care. He glanced at James who looked ecstatic and he walked to his new table.

3. The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black

Sixteen year old Sirius was lying back on his four poster bed in number twelve Grimmauld Place, admiring his very genius scheme with the Muggle posters. He got this brilliant and clever idea when he saw a couple of seventh year students looking at a few very scandalous Muggle magazines in the Gryffindor Common room right before he had to take his O. a month ago. He promptly bought them, much to Moony's amusement, although James and Peter did insist on inspecting the magazines carefully.

As soon as he got back home, Sirius used a Permanent Sticking charm and put them all over his room. It would be better if he could get pictures of blokes - his mother's face would be priceless then and it would be more entertaining for him – but this would do. He did ask Moony to check in the Muggle stores over the summer to see if there were some magazines with pictures of blokes on them but this was effective. His mother had a screaming fit about abominations in her house and Sirius got at least a week's amusement out of it. It did result in having to stay in his room for two weeks without the ability to send mail and it didn't get him out of attending the engagement party for his cousin Narcissa to Lucius Malfoy but it was certainly worth it. Kreacher couldn't even scrub it off.

Just as Sirius was contemplating what he could do until dinner and deciding whether he should get another volume of dangerous spells out of the library or whether he could risk it and transform into Padfoot for a while, there was a knock on his door. Kreacher poked his head in. He knew not to just come into Sirius' room without knocking after a very specific and nasty punishment Sirius devised. Unfortunately, Regulus found out too soon and there weren't as many boils on Kreacher's nasty face as Sirius planned.

"You're wanted in the library immediately, Master Sirius," Kreacher grumbled and quickly disappeared.

Sirius got up and made his way downstairs. If he was summoned in the early afternoon, something must have happened. And he needed a book from the library anyway. He did saunter downstairs slowly. Maybe he should write to Moony and ask how the Full went after whatever it was he was needed for.

As he entered the library he frowned as he realized that most occupants of the house were already there. Regulus was on the window seat biting his lip and looking very curious. His mother was on the couch along with his grandfather Arcturus and his father was sitting in the chair by the desk holding a letter.

"You're here, Sirius," Orion Black said as he held the letter out to him. "This just arrived."

Sirius came closer and took the letter. "The O.W.L. results!" he said. He did not realize that he would get the results today.

"Open it. We're all waiting," Arcturus said while sipping a glass of Firewhiskey which was always found in his hand.

Sirius took a deep breath and opened the letter. He didn't particularly care about most of the results but he knew what he needed to be an Auror and James would be upset if somehow Sirius messed it up.

"Ha!" Sirius exclaimed as he saw the results.

"Well, tell us!" his mother said impatiently.

Sirius passed her the letter, "Eleven 'Outstandings'. Even in the "History of Magic" that you forced me to take." He felt incredibly happy. School had always come easy to him but he was glad that James and Moony and Peter actually made him study by asking him to help them revise. Now he could certainly be an Auror like he and James planned.

His father got up from the chair and came toward the couch to take the letter out of Walburga's hand. "Excellent. Proper marks to reflect on our House."

"Congratulations, Sirius," said Regulus.

"I'll talk to Burke tomorrow. With results like these, we can certainly get at least an apprenticeship for the Wizengamot for next summer or perhaps even in the Department of Mysteries," Sirius grandfather said and Sirius' good mood evaporated.

"I think the Wizengamot would offer up more opportunities, Father," said Orion.

"Yes, you're right."

"We should have a celebratory dinner. Perhaps, next week. We can invite all the important families," said Walburga.

Sirius's head moved from his parents to his grandfather. He raised his voice, "I don't want to work for Wizengamot or go into law. I'm going to be an Auror."

"Nonsense," said Orion. "Not if we want to advance in the Ministry and we need all the alliances we can get. Auror training takes too long and it would not provide right opportunities. You might have been sorted into Gryffindor but you need to think like a Black, like a Slytherin."

"I don't care about the Ministry contacts," said Sirius quietly but forcefully.

"You're the heir to the House of Black, young man," said his mother firmly, "You will do what is good for this House. Things are changing and we need to make sure that we are right in the middle of it."

"I will not…"

"Enough," said Orion and Sirius turned to him, his eyes flashing. "Father will set up an appointment for you. You will advance this House, Sirius. It is your duty as it is my father's and mine. Do you think I joined the Hogwarts Board of Governors for my interest in education? Sit down." He pointed to the window seat next to Regulus. Sirius stood there staring at his father for half a minute before sitting down, still seething.

Orion turned to his wife, "I think a party would be an excellent idea. Sirius must be a stronger part of society. He will be of age at the end of the year, and he should start participating now. In fact, make sure you invite the Greengrasses over."

Orion looked over at Sirius, "Their daughter Aurora is a year younger than you in Slytherin House. Regulus must know her." Regulus was nodding.

Orion added, "You need to start courting her, Sirius. She would make a fine match for you and a good addition to this House with her pureblood roots. Pay her compliments and don't leave her side at the party."

"What! No! I will not marry some girl just because she is a pureblood!" Sirius did not know when the situation went so far out of his control. He needed to get the conversation back on his footing and without thinking about consequences, he got up and added, "Not to mention, my boyfriend would mind if I start courting some Slytherin girl."

The room went still. Arcturus raised his eyebrow and stood to fill his glass. Regulus shrank back in his seat, moving as far away from Sirius as he could. Sirius took a breath. He wasn't really planning on saying anything, but now that he did he wasn't going to take it back.

His father shook his head, took a step forward and spoke very loudly, "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, I would think it matters that..."

"It doesn't!" Orion bellowed. Sirius took an involuntary step back and his calves hit the window seat. Orion continued to advance on him while Walburga looked shocked. Orion's voice got quiet and precise, "I don't care if you shag boys, Centaurs or werewolves, what does that have to do with marriage?"

Sirius, who almost choked when Orion mentioned werewolves, tried to compose himself quickly. Orion continued, "Marriage is to ensure the continuation of this House. We do not have a choice in it. You will court Aurora Greengrass and you will take an apprenticeship to the Wizengamot. What you do on the side, as long as you do it discretely, is your business. But you will continue the legacy of this House as a proper heir."

"As long as you don't tell your uncle. He would not take it well," added Arcturus. He sounded amused. "Sirius, I think I gave your father a very similar speech. And I know Pollux said the same to Walburga, didn't he? You need to be proud of being an heir of the House of Black. We all have to do things we must."

Sirius looked at his mother, who still hadn't said anything. Sirius knew she was just biding her time. As much as he and his mother did not see eye to eye, they did have similar personalities and she would explode soon enough, most likely when her husband and father-in-law were not in the room.

Sirius knew it was useless, but he said it all the same, "That is not what I want."

"It doesn't matter what you want," Orion repeated, "You will do what is expected of you. End of discussion. Now, congratulations on your results. You did not disappoint. Dinner will be in two hours, you may go upstairs."

Sirius wanted to say something nasty back but he felt Reg grab his arm and drag him from the library. As they went up a landing, Sirius shook Regulus's arm off while his own fingernails were piecing the skin on his palms. He needed to get to his room and transform into Padfoot to calm his thoughts.

"Do you really have a boyfriend or did you just say it to piss them off?" Regulus asked as they were climbing the stairs.

"Fuck off," Sirius replied.

"I hope it's not Potter."

"Ew. He's like my brother. It would be like dating you, which would be disgusting."

"Yeah, don't bring that up again." Regulus made a hurling sound. "It's Lupin, I bet. He always stares at you and you were awfully protective of him when Avery tried to hex him."

"None of your business," Sirius replied forcefully. While he did have a tendency not to think, he knew that he had to protect Moony. His family could not find out who his boyfriend actually was and Regulus would tell their mother without a second thought.

They were already at their landing, when Regulus added, "Aurora is gorgeous. I don't know why you would have a problem. She is clever too and practical. You would like her."

"Well, you marry her then." Sirius reached his door and went inside, slamming it shut. He was not in the mood to talk to Regulus or to anyone else or to find any redeeming features in his situation.

He started pacing back and forth and then changed into Padfoot to clear his head. It didn't help and he transformed back. His family planned out his future and he was destined to follow in his father's footsteps. He thought that when he was sorted into Gryffindor he could decide for himself, but none of that would make a difference. Sirius felt the walls closing in on him. He needed to breathe. All this planned future life flashed before his eyes. It was not like Sirius thought about the future much. He knew he wanted to be an Auror with James and fight because every time he attended any pureblood parties he wanted to crawl out of his skin with their talk of the Dark Lord and pureblood rights. And he knew he wanted to make Moony's life as easy as possible. Sirius didn't think beyond that but he knew that if he stayed in this house he would suffocate. If he went down to dinner and be forced on the path his family chose, he would not make it out.

Not even thinking about what he was doing, Sirius pulled out his trunk from under his bed and began to throw as many clothes, books and money into it as he could. His mother would probably blast him off the tree and he would lose all the access to his accounts but he could not bring himself to care right now. He needed to leave otherwise he would end up exactly like his father, with no choices at all. He hated this house and the Potters were always so welcoming. Sirius's eyes blurred and he hastily wiped the tears away. He couldn't stay here. He couldn't.

He shrunk the trunk and made it light enough to put it in his pocket. He looked around his room and his bed and the posters and the rest of his things. He swallowed and turned quickly. He needed to sneak past Regulus' room and Kreacher carefully. Hopefully, his parents and grandfather would still be in the library and he could hear his mother yelling from below, most likely about him. He took one more look at the room and then walked though his door and closed it quietly behind him. By the time he would be missed at dinner, he would be far away.

4. The Funeral of Orion Black

Sirius huddled against the November wind and looked down at the Black mausoleum now that the funeral was over. He didn't want to go home yet. Most of the funeral attendees were leaving and doing a wonderful job at ignoring him. His grandfather Pollux and his great-aunt Cassiopeia walked right past him without even a glance. His Aunt Lucretia held on to the arm of his grandfather Arcturus, staring straight ahead. He didn't even want to think about his mother's reaction or the reaction of his cousins.

Sirius didn't think he would come. He had to read about his father's untimely death in The Daily Prophet. No one even sent him an owl nor invited him. And as much as he wanted to ignore the occasion, Moony convinced him to at least attend the funeral. He wasn't going to go to the wake but he felt that he should at least say goodbye to his father.

At least there was a body to say goodbye to. 1979 was not a good year for the Black Family. Four months earlier, his Uncle Cygnus caught Dragon Pox and died. And just a month ago… Sirius tried really hard not to think about the disappearance of his brother. He wanted to hope that Regulus was still alive but his grandfather Arcturus did owl him to tell him that Regulus' year of death appeared on the Family Tree and there was no arguing with the ancient magic. Sirius thought that that was a final straw for his father who was already ill.

"I'm sorry, Sirius," he heard a voice from his right. He turned to see his cousin Andromeda.

"Sneaking into the funeral, too?" he said as he nodded at her in greeting. Most of the funeral attendees had left by then and the cold wind was picking up. Sirius stayed where he was.

"Not that I would be welcomed, but I thought I should be here. Uncle Orion was still family, despite everything. Even after eight years of banishment," Andromeda said, putting her arm through Sirius' and looking down at the mausoleum at well.

"Yeah, family," Sirius' sighed and remembered his manners. "I'm sorry about your father, too."

"Thank you. He was not an easy man to love, but he was my father."

"I understand completely."

"I just wished that he would have relented a little and at least met Nymphadora. But he never wanted to. And now he can't." Andromeda's grip on his arm was a little tighter.

"She is a fun kid. His loss," Sirius tried to conform her but he knew he was terrible at that.

"I'm sorry about your brother, too."

Sirius just nodded. He didn't trust himself to speak.

"Listen, Sirius, why don't you come to my house after this? We can hold our own wake. We, cast-off Blacks, need to stick together. And Nymphadora would love to see you. You can keep up with her six year old energy," Andromeda asked.

"Sure, Andy. That would be nice. Thank you." Sirius was grateful. He didn't want to go home yet and stare at the walls since Moony was away for a few days. Having some family around him today felt right. He looked again at his father's resting place and turned toward the path.

They started walking through the cemetery. There was an Apparition point behind the Church about five minutes away.

"Well, now you are the Black heir again," said Andromeda, trying to lighten the mood.

"I doubt my mother would want me to be," Sirius said.

"She has no choice. You are the only one with the Black name left. Did her solicitor try to contact you to formally disinherit you?"

"No. I don't have access to the vault, though."

Andromeda said, "But you will probably still inherit the House. She can't work around that."

"It could burn to the ground for all I care," said Sirius.

"You know, you can change things. You can shape the House of Black to be a more inclusive place. You can marry who you wish, even a Muggle-born like I did, and they would still have to have you as heir." Andromeda seemed amused by the prospect.

"And then put everyone who was blasted off back on the tree." Sirius actually smiled at the idea. He added, "Not while Mother is alive. I think she would spend the rest of her life looking for a solution so she wouldn't have me as heir."

"She would have no choice. And I don't think she's feeling very well to think rationally. She seemed so extreme earlier."

"Nothing unusual there."

"So what is going on in your life? Still doing the Auror training?" said Andromeda, apparently deciding to change the subject. The last leaves were falling on the ground and crunching under their feet.

"Yes. I like it. I'm actually paying attention in classes! Things are good."

Andromeda said, "Good to hear. What about a special girl? Do you have time to see anyone?"

Sirius shook his head. Thoughts were swirling in his head when he realized that Andy did not know about Moony. He wanted to tell her. She ran off to be with someone she loved and she would certainly be in his corner. And she was family. He'd just never really put it in words before. He did tell his parents when he was sixteen but that just jumped out. But Sirius Black was anything but a coward.

"Andy, I'm gay."

She stopped and let go of his arm to face him.

"What?"

"I like blokes. I don't have a special girl. I do have a boyfriend, though. Remus. You met him before when you came to visit my flat." Sirius held this breath, waiting for his cousin's reaction.

"Your flatmate? You're together? You're gay?" Andromeda eyes were roaming all over his face like she's never seen him before.

"We live together, yes. Not just flatmates, though. He's my boyfriend. Has been for a while."

"Sirius, don't be ridiculous! You need to tell him to move out."

Sirius took a step back. "What?"

"You're a Black. You can't be a queer." Andromeda looked at him with disbelief and disgust.

"Andy!"

"You're doing this just to spite your parents, aren't you? Well, you can be welcomed back to the family. You can't do this. You need to end it and find a proper relationship. It's not natural!"

Sirius chuckled in disbelief. "If it wasn't Remus, it would be another bloke. I don't like girls. That is just how it is."

"No, it's a horrible choice. I can't believe you. Why would even consider…And, I'm sorry, but until you change your mind you can't come to my house or see Nymphadora. I don't want her getting ideas."

"It's not contagious! And I did not choose it!" Sirius raised his voice. He was breathing heavily.

"No, Sirius. I cannot have you in my house," Andromeda said.

Sirius looked at her for a few seconds and said, "Isn't that what your father said when you told them about Ted?"

"That's different. Ted is Muggle-born but he is a wizard and a man and I'm sorry Father could not see that. But Ted and I are a proper family. You can't have a family with that man."

"I can make whatever family I choose," Sirius said with narrowed eyes.

"Well, then you can't be part of mine. Not until you change your mind. Sirius, please!"

Sirius felt tears rise up and his throat constrict and he choked his tears back. He refused to cry over this. Andromeda might have been his favorite cousin and the only family he really had left, but he would never ever leave Remus or give in on anything.

"I guess I am not part of your family, then. Goodbye, Andromeda. Kiss Nymphadora for me." Sirius turned away from her and started walking, huddling even more under his robes against the cold.

"Sirius!" Andromeda called after him. Sirius did not turn back. He reached the Apparition spot and vanished.

5. Secret Keeper

"We're back and you can turn into a giant dog, so you know it's really us and can put away your wand," James exclaimed as he and Lily moved through the front door. Sirius lowered his wand and checked on Harry, who was happily playing with blocks on the carpet in front of him. James moved closer and picked Harry up, extending his arms and pretending Harry was flying. Harry giggled.

"Did everything go alright?" Sirius asked.

"Splendidly. Thanks for watching him," Lily said as James sat down on the floor next to Sirius and started looking at Harry's block creations. Lily leaned down to kiss Harry's head and then sat on the couch. She added, "We are all set. All our things are moved and tomorrow we will do the Secret Keeper spell. You'll have to be here by noon, so we can all Apparate to the new house together."

"Dumbledore gave us the book today and Lily is all excited to try it out despite our upcoming exile," James added dramatically.

"Of course, I'm excited. It is a very complex spell. It is a rare opportunity." Lily's eyes were sparkling despite the hollowness on her face. Sirius knew she didn't like to show her worry.

Sirius looked at Harry, happily playing, and took a deep breath.

"I think Peter should do it," he said.

James turned away from Harry and looked at Sirius in puzzlement.

"Do what?"

"Be your Secret Keeper."

"Why?" asked Lily, concerned. "You don't want to do this anymore?"

"I do. And I wish I could. But I think we need to switch. I've been thinking about it."

James said, "Sirius, no. We settled this. We trust you the most and you can travel on little notice if Dumbledore decides that the threat gets too big. He knows you are doing this and he will protect you."

"It's not about that! They can torture me; you know I would never…" Sirius paused. "We need to switch because no one will suspect. They will come after me but this way I can just divert them. And I know I can convince Peter. He might not like it but he will do this. And no one will suspect him. Not one person."

"Sirius…" Lily paused. "What is this really about? We have a good plan here and…"

"Damn it, Lily. Listen to me." Sirius voice got elevated and he lowered it when he saw that Harry was looking at him with confused and scared eyes. Sirius smiled at Harry to calm him down and continued in a low, deliberate tone. "We know there has to be a spy. Everyone will suspect that I'm the Secret Keeper and this way we will throw them off the scent. And we'll use that." Sirius closed his eyes and continued, his voice shaking slightly. "Moon…Remus knows I'm definitely going to be the Secret Keeper. I brought it up yesterday in passing. And I will throw a remark at the next Order meeting too, just in case. No one will think of Peter."

Silence reigned on the room. Harry said, "Dada look," and showed James a tower he built which promptly collapsed. Harry started building again.

James put his hand on Sirius' knee and asked, "I know we talked about this before, but do you really think that Remus…I hate thinking this."

"I hate thinking it too, James. I truly do, but we can't take a chance," Lily said. She sounded on the verge of crying. Her earlier enthusiasm disappeared.

"I just think that we should not be rash," James said.

Sirius leaned back against the couch and faced the ceiling, "He's been so secretive in the last year. You don't see him. He doesn't come home more often than not. He doesn't tell me where he goes. We barely talk as it is. And You-Know-Who has been promising so much to werewolves. I mean, Remus knows that most of it is just talk. But lately, I just don't know. I feel like I don't know him anymore."

Sirius stayed silent for a minute while Lily leaned down to squeeze his shoulder.

"We don't know for sure, Padfoot," James said, still anchoring Sirius to the floor with his hand.

"But we can't take the chance. Not for Harry. This way if he is a spy, the focus will be on me and if he isn't, nothing will change. So it is a win-win proposition."

"Peter might be hard to convince," James said.

"He'll do it. You know he will. I'll see him tonight. We need to do this, James. There is no other choice and we will just keep this between us. Just you, Lily, Peter and me." Sirius looked at James, wearing his most determined expression and James nodded and looked at Lily.

"It might be safer for Harry. Alright," she said.

The room fell into silence again.

Lily asked quietly, "Are you and Remus going to be ok?"

Sirius snorted, "I doubt it." He clenched his jaw before adding, "If he is the spy, I need him to feel like we don't suspect. So I can't ask him to move out. But I might have to… And if he isn't, it doesn't even matter. I don't think I can do this for much longer. I don't trust him anymore."

"Sirius," James started but couldn't continue.

Sirius got up and pasted a smile on his face. He said, "Right. Our last night before I see you for a while so we should just do something fun. Like make bangers and mash and get a little drunk. We should have an early Halloween celebration as well, like at Hogwarts. Why didn't Dumbledore just wait until after Halloween? It is only a week away." He moved toward the kitchen as he spoke. Lily picked up Harry, who put his chubby arms around her neck, and moved toward the kitchen too. James watched Sirius with a worried glance but then also got up and moved. If Sirius' plan came to pass, they might not get to have a night together in a while and he wanted to enjoy it. He also wanted to try to cheer up his best friend.

+1. Grimmauld Place

"Absolutely not! I am not going back to that house!" yelled Sirius as he paced back and forth in Remus' small drawing room. Dumbledore just left after asking Sirius to let the Order use Grimmauld Place for the new Order headquarters and giving him a day to consider it. Sirius was fuming for the last ten minutes and Remus thought it was prudent to just let him walk it out.

Sirius had been staying with Remus for the last week since that dreadful night when Dumbledore had sent him to alert everyone of You-Know-Who's return. Sirius deliberately left him for last so that he could stay. Letters could only say so much and Sirius was finally ready to have a conversation. And the last week was good. There were a lot of fights and airing past grievances but in the end there was genuine forgiveness on both parts. They both knew when they parted a year before that it wasn't as simple as instant forgiveness and relief at knowing the truth but they now had time. Sirius finally fell asleep in his human form in Remus' bed last night and Remus was hopeful about their progress.

Now Remus just watched him spit various adjectives about Grimmauld Place and the members of his family.

"What is Dumbledore thinking? I'm sure there are safer places! And what am I supposed to do, stay in that bloody House? Unless I'm actually there, the House won't accept outsiders. And that House needs such cleaning. Mother probably cursed it even more in her last days!" Sirius continued ranting. He wouldn't settle down.

Remus chanced putting in a word, "It is Unplottable. Even the Ministry could not get anywhere near it. And if Dumbledore puts a Fidelius charm on it, not even your remaining relatives would be able to find it. You do have to admit it is a good plan."

"It's a ridiculous plan!" Sirius said. He threw Remus a look while still pacing.

"And you'd be able to see Harry in August, like Dumbledore said. It would be the safest place for you, as well," Remus continued softly.

"I haven't been caught yet! I can take care of myself!"

"Not if you want to stay in England and fight You-Know-Who. You can't do it from a cave either," Remus said, trying to control himself from raising his voice. Then he patted a seat next to him on his small ratty couch and said, "C'mon, sit down."

"I will not go back to that fucking house," Sirius said but he did make his way over and collapsed on the couch.

Remus put his hand on Sirius's arm. "Sirius, you need to really think here. You can really help the Order. We really need a safe house. And we can make sure the House is safe. We'll go room by room. I know you always hated it there. But it is the best option."

Sirius was quiet. He just looked at Remus and actually seemed to be considering his words.

"No. I can't stand it there." Sirius looked so stubborn and Remus knew that he needed another strategy. When Sirius looked this resolved, few things could change his mind.

"What if…what if I move there too? With you." Remus realized how that sounded and he didn't want to be too hasty. He added, "I mean, there are many rooms. And Buckbeak would be so much more comfortable than in the shed." Remus saw that his attempt at humor did not really work. "I can't stay here much longer, it is expensive and that way you will be helping me out too."

Sirius bit his lip.

Remus continued, "I wasn't a terrible flatmate before. And I can make breakfast just how you like it. I still remember."

Sirius cracked a little smile, "You weren't that great a cook. You did make good tea. And you were a good flatmate for a long time."

"Until I wasn't."

"That was because of other reasons. I don't want to hash it out again," Sirius said.

"I know," Remus said. "But, Padfoot, this is a good plan. You know this. To win this war and to keep Harry safe, you need to do this."

Sirius lowered his head against Remus' shoulder. "Now you are just playing dirty."

Remus smiled, "Is it working?"

"Perhaps." Then Sirius added quietly, "I do miss living with you."

"Me too."

They sat quietly for a while.

"I don't want to be inside four walls again where I can't leave," Sirius admitted.

Remus put his arm around Sirius's shoulder and moved his hand to card through Sirius' hair. "It will be different. And you'd be making a difference just by being there."

"I hate giving in."

"I remember. But sometimes it is a right thing to do. You need to trust Dumbledore here."

"And you think this is the only option?" Sirius asked.

"I do."

Sirius looked up at Remus. "Fine. The Order can have the House and I'll move in and be trapped there but only if you move with me."

Remus smiled and kissed Sirius's head. "Good. We'll owl Dumbledore later."

"I'm not doing this for him. I'm doing this for Harry and for you."

"I know. Thank you."

Sirius took Remus's left hand with his right, entwined their fingers and said, "I trust you, Moony."