Remus frowned, biting his lip. He hadn't had a decent conversation with his fellow Marauders since Harry's birth nearly two weeks before, and now here he was, walking towards the front room, which was entirely populated by said people, to tell them that he wouldn't be around for several weeks. (As well as find his bag; he was fairly sure it was by his coat).
Namely, that he'd be traveling for the next several months as a spy within a werewolf pack that Fenrir Greyback often visited, to determine where Greyback himself was staying.
He neared the door, and paused, debating not telling them at all.
Are you a Gryffindor or not? Just tell them! It's not like they won't know soon anyway.
He nodded to himself, and stepped forward towards the doorway. Then he stopped again, hearing his name.
"… Moony wouldn't do that! … Would he?" Peter had never been very assertive, that was for sure.
"Think about it! He misses every other meeting, doesn't respond to our letters half the time, refuses to tell us where he's been disappearing to… it just goes on! You have to at least admit that the evidence is against him." Sirius. It was Sirius that, from what he could tell, was convincing the others that he was… what? A spy? Wasn't he the one that said he was better than the wolf? He'd become an Animagaus for him! Defended him in front of the Order countless times!
Won your heart without even trying. A nasty voice muttered in his ear, but he shoved it away.
"And Voldemort's been offering the werewolves more freedom than the Ministry ever will. There isn't even a full pack left that isn't considering his side! Remus has a lot of reasons to join; I mean, he can't even get a normal job with all the restrictions on him."
Thanks, Sirius, bring it back to lycanthropy. It seems like since this war started, that's all I am to anyone; a werewolf with a wand. Even Dumbledore seemed to think like that; he hadn't been near a normal fight or raid, despite his prowess at dueling. Only werewolf spy missions.
"But… but…" Not surprising that Peter couldn't counter; they'd never been the closest of the four. And he'd never been the greatest at arguing with Sirius' logic.
"Dumbledore trusts him…" There was James, who was big on loyalty. Remus almost felt this was worse, hearing his half-hearted defense. He was buying Sirius' speech as well.
Remus felt anger rise up, fierce and burning. Honestly, where did they get off immediately mistrusting him? They'd all done suspicious things in this war! And wasn't it Sirius who had said "this war won't tear us apart! We're the Marauders; friends 'til the end, and probably after!"
Annoyed, he walked into the room, feeling a slight malicious pleasure when all three occupants jumped. He looked at them all, settling on Sirius the longest before speaking.
"Sorry, I just left Voldemort's address in here; need it to report on Order dealings, you know?" He grinned a bit, knowing it looked feral, when Peter paled and James went red. Sirius stared back, looking like he wasn't sure if this proved or disproved his point.
"Not that I'm ever actually at meetings, really. Skipping them is a ruse, of course, so nobody will notice that the few things I do know are being passed on." He looked away from Sirius, spotting his abandoned bag on the floor. He scooped it up, slipped the parchment with his instructions inside, and closed it up.
"Well, I'm off. I was planning on telling you three where I was going, but I figure, why bother? You'll think I'm lying anyway. Thanks especially for the vote of confidence on my lycanthropy, Sirius. I thought it was a nice touch." He looked back, vaguely noticing that a few other Order members had appeared.
"For all that Dumbledore stresses trust and friendship, you all turn on the easiest to blame fairly easily, don't you?" No-one responded, though he noted a few looked guilty. Well, that was a small victory, at least. He walked toward the door.
"Moony…" He didn't look back, and Apparated as soon as his feet were out the door.
Sirius shifted awkwardly as the other Order members who had wandered in gave him all manner of looks, before filtering back out again.
"Well, Sirius, are you happy now? You managed to publicly humiliate yourself and probably cause one of your best friends to never want to talk to you again without wands drawn."
"Gee, thanks. Never mind the fact that I could still be right, you go straight for the guilt." James glared at him.
"Well, I think your 'theory' is bull, regardless of how much circumstantial evidence you collect. Honestly, going through his bag?" Sirius pouted, annoyed.
"It could've had something…" James groaned.
"All it had was proof that he's living out of a backpack!" James exploded, before sighing.
"If you're so fixated, why not ask Dumbledore about it? He's gonna know when Moony was gone on a mission, at any rate. Now, I'm leaving, and I'm taking 'Tail with me before you try and corrupt him any more with this." They left, and Sirius only barely noted the odd look Peter was giving him. James was just pissed.
He made his way to Dumbledore's office, thinking the whole way.
It all adds up. He's gone all the time, won't tell us where he is, misses all those meetings… This was the point where a second voice jumped in.
But he was right; what could he tell if he's never here?
Still doesn't explain where he always is.
Looking for a place to sleep? Trying to eat? You saw his bag; it's pretty obvious he isn't staying anywhere, and if that's all he's been eating lately, it's no wonder he's been looking so thin lately. Sirius had to concede that point; Remus was way too thin at the moment, and he couldn't blame werewolf metabolism this time.
Then why not say where he is all the time? It isn't that hard; "Hey guys, sorry I'm late, I was trying to catch some sleep after the moon."
That doesn't sound like Moony, you know. He pressed it back, reaching the door and debating going in.
"Sirius, I would appreciate you actually coming into my office, instead of lingering outside the doorway." Sirius flushed a bit, and walked inside, sighing.
"Well?" Dumbledore was giving him one of those looks. One that said 'I already know what you're going to say, and want you to hurry this up.'
"Albus… where is Remus going?" There. Simple, easy. Dumbledore gave him an odd look.
"He didn't tell you? I was under the impression that he was going to disregard my order and inform you three of his current mission." The look was still there; Dumbledore already knew what had happened, didn't he?
"He didn't. He heard us discussing our theory of who the traitor was and ran off."
"And your theory is…?" Sirius sat down, groaning.
"You know the answer to that." Dumbledore nodded. He did know; it was common knowledge that most of the Order thought Lupin was the traitor. Dumbledore wished he could tell where Remus was going, but his missions were secret; he couldn't risk the real traitor finding out!
"And yet you ask me where he is?" Sirius looked up.
"Yeah, of course." He didn't bother elaborating.
"Well, I'm afraid I cannot tell you."
"What? Why?" Sirius felt a surge of anger, though whether or not it was actually aimed at Dumbledore, he had no idea.
"There are several reasons, one being that you were never supposed to know. But the main one would be that you no longer trust Remus, and I cannot risk his life by leaving such information in your hands." Dumbledore's look was hard. Sirius bit his tongue to keep himself from yelling angrily.
"But he is on a mission, right? He's been working on Order missions?"
"Yes, he had been on several. But when and where, again, I cannot say. Remember, Sirius, that there is still a spy, and regardless of who it is, it is far safer not to reveal a secret that does not need to be told." This was not reassuring. In a daze, Sirius left again, no more sure of anything than when he'd entered in the first place.
After a few days, Sirius' curiosity began to bubble, even as suspicion burned away. After all, there was still information being passed along, and Remus was nowhere near the headquarters. Was he?
Dumbledore refused to say.
After two weeks, Sirius began to worry, and noted that James seemed to be as well.
"Prongs?" He looked up from the report he was writing. He officially worked for the Aurors, after all.
"Yeah?" Sirius sighed, sitting in front of him.
"I don't think that Remus is the traitor." James grinned triumphantly. Sirius was known for making rash decisions; having a bit of time to think on it had managed to clear his head.
"Knew you'd see the light soon. You ought to tell him that, you know, when he gets back." Out of the corner of his eye, Sirius saw a flicker of grey disappear through the doorway, but when he turned, it was gone.
"'When?' Don't you mean 'if?'" James shook his head, setting down his quill.
"I can't go around believing that everyone is going to die on their next mission, that I won't be able to see them again. So no, it'll be when he gets back."
Neither noticed Dumbledore leaning outside the room, a relieved smile on his face. He walked away quietly.
After two weeks, Sirius noticed exactly how large his flat was. Not that it had anything to do with Moony, of course, but it was just so roomy. And there was the spare room, with a bed and everything…
He found himself cleaning it, finding blankets and things for the bed, as if he was expecting someone to show up and move in.
It took him a few more days, and the purchase of curtains, to realize who he was buying for.
By three weeks, the room was perfectly ready for inhabitation, and he was frantic. He had asked Dumbledore, several times, if there was any word on Remus. He'd been given the same response every time.
"I can't tell you where he is. Yes, I've received a few reports, but all I can tell you of them is that he is alive." This, obviously, made Sirius more worried.
Two months passed. Sirius had seven new scars, three apologies for his behavior, and a vast amount of teasing, courtesy of James, that he was 'mooning over Moony.' Both of them ignored the pang it brought to think about how long he'd been gone.
Sirius noted, in his worry, that there was no more talk of Remus being the traitor, and that Peter didn't seem as worried as they did. But that was just Pete being Pete, right? Right.
Four months had gone by, and Sirius noticed that his flat was still too empty. He didn't really know what possessed him, but he went out and bought a bookshelf and put it on the wall. He didn't have many books to fill it.
He remembered that Remus did.
Five months. Dumbledore's new response to his queries about Remus was "He's fine." He wouldn't say anything if Sirius asked about the reports.
Lily was stressed, though whether it was from Remus still being gone, the newer, more dangerous missions her husband insisted on taking, or her engagement, was anyone's guess.
Six months gone by. The Order had just gotten out of a meeting, and most were already clearing out of the building, happy to get back to their families.
Sirius watched as the majority of the Order cleared out. He was staying behind, as he usually did, to talk to Dumbledore. He knew it would be the same response as last time, but he did it anyway.
The last few there were most of his graduating class, lingering to talk about James' upcoming wedding and other light subjects. He was about to go and find Dumbledore himself when he heard it. Footsteps on the walk.
He stood up quickly, motioning for the others to keep talking, draw their wands and be ready. That is, if by 'motion' you mean conjuring the words into the air.
He wrenched the door open quickly, revealing a cloaked figure standing there, hand raised to either knock or open the door.
"Name?" Sirius' voice sounded cold, even to himself. The figure didn't respond, and stepped forward slightly. He held his wand higher, letting a Lumos charm wash the face with light. All he could see was a thin beard and a scarred cheek.
"Who are you?" James asked, standing just behind him, wand also up. Behind him, Sirius could hear the others either standing ready or running to other points of the house, ready to defend it if this was a diversion.
A soft sound came from the depths of the cloak. The figure was speaking.
"Dumbledore… talk… mistake…" Well, that was certainly clear. Not. Abruptly, the figure toppled forward, straight into Sirius. He grabbed hold, and immediately wondered why his hands felt wet…
"Shit. Help here, he's bleeding!" He backed into the room, dragging the person behind him. James closed the door after a wary look around. The room was empty of everyone except the Longbottoms, who were both quick to help him get the man onto the couch nearest the door.
Sirius pulled the cloak away, and immediately noted that the man wasn't wearing a shirt, only bloodied bandages around his torso. The second thing was that there were a lot of familiar scars.
Eyes wide, he looked up, to see the very dazed and bloody face of one Remus Lupin.
James gasped, staring at him, and Sirius would be willing to bet that Frank was doing so as well. Alice had run to get bandages the moment they'd gotten him on the couch.
"Remus? Remus, you in there?" Sirius realized someone had handed him bandages, as well as rags and healing salve that Mme. Pomfrey insisted be on hand at all times. He began working, peeling off the old bandages and cleaning off the blood for the new ones. Under the blood, long gashes littered his torso. Like claw marks…
"Remus? Moony! C'mon, say something!" He coughed, panting a bit.
"… s'm thin'…" Remus tried to focus on the familiar voice, or at least clear his vision.
"Close enough. What happened?" Remus tried to roll over, but was held down by several sets of hands. He closed his eyes, groaning. His mind was clearing a bit. He could tell who was binding his wounds, at least, though he had no explanation for why.
"Fight… gotta tell D'mbledore…"
"Tell me what?" In a rather cliché fashion, they all turned to look as Dumbledore strode into the room. Sirius finished wrapping Remus' chest, and ignored his arrival, searching for any other wounds.
Remus shot upward, eyes straining to see through the film covering them, before he was shoved back down. Sirius allowed him to prop himself up on the arm of the couch, at least.
"You're injured, now rest!" He all but growled, as Dumbledore walked forward, stopping next to Sirius, by the couch.
"What happened?" He began to shoo the others out of the room, in case whatever Remus had to say was secret.
"Don't bother; they'll know soon 'nuff wha' happened." Remus coughed again, wincing at the burning feeling on his torso that said the salve was working. Alice left the room anyway.
"Greyback's dead. I killed him two nights ago." Silence. For all of four seconds, anyway.
"That's where you were? Are you okay? You are okay, right? He didn't hurt you? Remus!" Sirius was flailing around in a panic, before a noise stopped him.
Remus was laughing.
"Moony! This isn't funny, it's serious!" James nearly groaned as Remus' eyes lit up evilly.
"No, you're Sirius. I'm Remus, and this situation is ridiculous." Sirius came out of his panic to snort, before shaking his head.
"He's fine." Alice came back in, with a potion this time.
"Blood replenishing potion. Figure you'll need it." She handed it to him, smiling. He accepted, drank it all in one gulp, then turned back to Dumbledore.
"He came to camp about three weeks ago. Mostly inspecting the new recruits, ignored those that were over ten years old. I did my best to avoid him, cause he would've recognized me; he turned me and all.
"Two days ago, though, he realized who I was. He didn't say anything to the pack; he wanted to take care of me himself. We went to the woods for a 'discussion.'
"We fought, and I killed him. As soon as it happened, I collected what I had and ran. Everything I had is in my bag." He gestured to where his cloak was, and Sirius noted that there was a bag attached to it. Dumbledore nodded, reaching into it and removing a pile of parchment.
"Anything else?" Dumbledore examined his still form carefully, noting the thinness of his frame, but no other obvious injuries.
"Good. Now, where are you going to be staying? I have a feeling I know of a nurse that will be anxious to check you over."
"Um… the Leaky Cauldron, I suppose. Or…" Sirius jumped in.
"He's staying with me, of course." Albus smiled, and noticed that Remus looked surprised.
"Very good. I shall see you in the morning, then. Try and get home safe, please?"
"We'll do our best. Prongs, wanna help with Moony's bag?" James chuckled, picking it up as Sirius helped Remus to his feet.
"Of course, of course."
"Hey! Don't I get a say in this?"
Remus looked around the room in interest, nodding absently as James lectured him on not contacting them in six months.
"I know you weren't supposed to, but something would've been nice, and- Hey, are you listening?"
"No, not at all. Though, I'd like to remind you that when I left, you all thought I was a traitor and plotting to kill you. Remember?" James seemed to lose steam, and sat down, glancing at the doorway Sirius had disappeared through a few minutes ago, which led to the kitchen. Supposedly.
"Yeah… I'm gonna apologize for that. I never really believed any of it, but I should've said something instead of sitting there. So, sorry." Remus waved him off, before wincing as his chest twisted.
"Don't worry. Six months was plenty of time to get over it, trust me." James sighed in relief.
"It won't stop us from trying to make it up to you, but that's a start, I suppose." He paused, wondering if he should mention that Sirius' didn't think he was the traitor anymore, but decided against it. It was Sirius' job to tell him, not James.'
Sirius reemerged from the depths of the kitchen, carrying a tray of hot chocolate and cookies. Remus' eyes lit up at the sight of the mugs. He practically snatched it from Sirius' hands when he gave it to him. Sirius snorted.
"Let that be a lesson. Never, under any circumstances, get between a Moony and his chocolate." Remus pouted, huddling into his chair.
"Shut up. I haven't had chocolate in months." Sirius gasped in shock.
"You've been deprived of its sweet goodness? This is terrible! Rest assured, Moony, you will not suffer the indignity of it any longer! I, Padfoot, do hereby swear to keep your chocolate cravings fulfilled whilst you are here." He struck a pose, holding a straight face.
"Sirius, you are such a drama queen."
Remus was thankful that Sirius didn't get many visitors. Incredibly thankful. Ever since he got back from his mission (which he revealed to James and Sirius later had been mainly located in Russia), people from the Order had been coming up to him with apologies for ever doubting his allegiance to Dumbledore.
It was driving him up the wall! At least he didn't have to go on any new missions at the moment; Mme. Pomfrey's orders were to avoid any strenuous activity until his chest was entirely healed. So he only had to worry if his presence was requested for a meeting.
Which was where he was currently, hearing James report what was going on in the Ministry at the moment. He zoned out again, thinking about the last week.
He'd half-wanted to string Sirius along for a bit, make him work at regaining his trust, but he couldn't do it to him after all. Sirius didn't really need the encouragement, anyway; he'd been showering him with apologies and gifts (or were they bribes?) since he'd started staying at his flat.
"Thank you James. Now, Minerva, can you report what happened in the raid on…" Remus tuned out again, having already heard this from McGonagall earlier in the evening.
Peter was sitting across the room, listening closely. He always had done so, claiming that he would forget otherwise. He glanced in Remus' direction, noticed him watching, and twitched. He stared a moment longer, before turning back to McGonagall. Nobody noticed. Remus frowned, trying to puzzle out his behavior.
He had been one of the last to come up to him, and had been rather reluctant to say anything. Remus had figured it was because of what had happened right before he left, but now…
Peter didn't know where he'd been. The only ones that knew what had happened, actually, were the ones that had seen him arrive. The rest of the Order only knew that he'd been on a long-term spy mission, and had succeeded in the end of it.
He hadn't asked, either. Dumbledore had made it very clear that he was not to be asked about the mission, stressing that what had happened was top secret. Remus wondered what the spy had been thinking, when he, or she, had heard that. Did they already know what had happened, that Greyback was dead?
Well, duh, they'll know that. The question is if they know that I killed him. He supposed that even if that was found out, the Death Eaters might assume he'd done it for revenge. After all, Greyback was the one who had turned him…
Focus! You were about to discover something important! He was? Hmm… He'd been thinking about Peter, right? And the traitor.
Peter and the traitor… Peter and the traitor… Peter… the traitor…
His head shot up, startled. Peter is the traitor. Where had that come from…? Remus sat back again, ignoring the odd looks he received for his abrupt movement.
Any information the spy was getting would be through this spy, right? So they had to get it from the meetings. Peter was at almost every meeting… But that proved nothing.
So, what else? Peter mainly worked in code breaking and making protective gear, not going to the front lines. That might be something, but it wasn't grounds to accuse anyone.
Neither is being secretive about where you've been for missions, he noted, but pushed it off.
Really, nothing but proving that he'd been in contact with Death Eaters would be enough to say without a doubt that he was the traitor.
He wouldn't have any reason to be in contact with anyone working with the Death Eaters, unless he's one of our spies. So, therefore…But he lost the train of thought as the meeting adjourned, and a voice called out his name. Looking into the concerned face of Sirius, he shook his head.
If I want to know for sure, I'll have to do some spy work of my own.
Spying on anyone was rather difficult when you were still restricted to your friend's flat, however nice it was. Sirius had actually said he could move in whenever he wanted, saying the place was too big for just him.
"Is that why you randomly put in a book shelf, Pads?" James had asked, laughing at the sheepish grin on Sirius' face. He hadn't denied it.
Remus had ended up moving his things there from their place, shrunken is his bag, though he did insist on helping out any way he could to make up for it.
But back to the problem, he was having trouble finding a way to do anything. Sirius worked with James during the day at the Ministry, so he could technically leave. However, Sirius also checked in every hour by Floo, to make sure Remus didn't leave. After all, he was still 'injured.'
He sighed at that thought. Despite how long she'd been treating his injuries, Mme. Pomfrey didn't seem to remember how fast he healed. As it was, his abdomen was only sore; it had already healed over.
He'd offered to do code breaking, go through post, something that he didn't have to leave the flat for, but Dumbledore insisted that they were fine with who was working on them, and had simply said to get well.
So he was stuck. It was frustrating, not being able to leave!
"Moony!" Three o'clock check in, right on the nose. Remus looked up at the fire, hiding his annoyance.
"Hey Sirius. Really, I don't need you to check on me. I'm already healed." They'd had this argument every day at least once, more so when something went wrong in the Order.
"Yeah, I know that. But I'm under orders to keep you out of trouble until Mme. Pomfrey says so." Orders?
"What orders? I thought you were just scared of her. And what do you mean, trouble?" Sirius' eyes widened, and he bit his lip.
"Er… well…" Remus' eyes narrowed.
"I'll tell you later, gotta go!" And he was gone, disappearing back into the fire. Remus groaned, but he was grinning.
Sirius sat awkwardly on the couch. Which was strange in itself; he was never awkward, and he rarely simply sat. Sprawled was more his style.
"Well?" Sirius looked up at Remus, who was watching him closely. Very closely, looking for any hint to his behavior. He sighed. Dumbledore wouldn't be happy…
Abruptly, he relaxed, and grinned. So what? He'd decided when Remus had returned that their friendship was more important than keeping every little thing a secret. Remus, he noted, seemed a bit surprised at this change, then suspicious.
"Please don't make up some lie, Pads."
"I won't. Look, Dumbledore wanted to let you recover, first of all. But when you were getting better, he asked that I keep you here for a bit longer."
"Because he knows that the first thing you'll want to do is find the real spy, and he's worried that you asking questions is going to make people suspect you again." Remus thought about it for several minutes, a thoughtful look on his face.
"Okay?" What? He was okay with being kept back for protection? That didn't seem like Remus.
"Yeah, it's fine. But, don't check on me anymore. Just tell him you are."
"Remus, if you start showing up at headquarters talking to people…"
"I won't, don't worry about it. I have other ways of finding out what's going on." Now, why did that expression on his face seem familiar?
Oh yeah; it was identical to any Marauder that was going to get up to some mischief.
Remus hadn't lied. He certainly didn't plan on simply asking if Peter had done anything suspicious lately. First off, that in itself cast doubt on both him and Peter, which he didn't want to do if 'Tail was innocent.
Secondly, if anything out of the ordinary had happened, they would've already told Dumbledore about it. So therefore, he wasn't going to talk to the Order at all. Instead, he found himself walking into a seedy pub, one of the ones he'd frequented when searching for werewolves.
At this one, he'd found none, but had come across several career criminals that were laying low until the war blew over. He'd made some friends there; they didn't care about his 'furry little problem.'
"'Ey, it's Remus!" Someone called as he walked inside. He blinked for a moment, to let his eyes adjust, before heading towards the dark corner that the voice had come from.
"'Lo Pat, how've you been?" He settled at the table with the thief, along with two others whose occupations he didn't know. He wasn't sure he wanted to know them, either. Everyone has their limits.
"Fine, fine. Where've you been? Ain't seen ya in months." Remus shrugged, knowing that Pat would accept pretty much anything he said.
"Here n' there. Visitin' a few friends and such. Lookin' few another, but can't seem to find 'im." He let the accent flow easily, leaning back and gesturing for a waitress.
"Really? Mebbe we can 'elp. Who's he?" Pat glanced at his fellows as he spoke, smiling at the woman.
"Last I heard, 'e was callin' himself Wormtail, or sommat. Used ta call 'im that in school, cus he liked mice so much." He said it casually, but was hopeful. Peter didn't drink. Ever. He'd asked why once, and had been told that there was an alcohol problem in the family, and Peter didn't want to fall into it as well. So, if his name was floating in any bars…
"Nope, haven't heard it." Well, that was good, he'd hate to have to question the woman. He was vaguely worried she'd rip off his clothes, with the looks he was receiving.
"Naw. Weird name, tho, I'll keep an ear out." The third person didn't say anything, but shook his head. Remus smiled, then leaned in a bit, drawing their attention.
"I'd like this to stay quiet, if you know what I mean. Some others are lookin' fer 'im, and they ain't friendly." Translated: someone is trying to kill him, and I either don't want him to die or I want to do it myself. The looks on their faces said that they all understood. It wasn't odd around here, especially in the war.
"Course, course. Now, 'ow bout a drink?" Pat had impeccable timing; the waitress had just walked up to the table, smiling at Remus.
"So what'll it be?"
Sirius growled in annoyance, sounding more like Padfoot than he'd like to admit. Remus still wasn't home.
He'd come in, hoping that he'd only wanted to go out, maybe visit a few friends, and would be back before Sirius himself was. But it wasn't so. It was nearly midnight already, and no sign of him.
"Sirius?" He jumped, looking at the door. Remus was there, looking tired but pleased, and not a little confused. Sirius didn't answer; he was already bolting towards the doorway, yanking Remus in and slamming it shut.
"Do you know how worried I was? I'm supposed to keep you out of trouble!" He was practically spitting out the words, shoving Remus into a couch. He looked up blearily.
"… Are you drunk?" Remus laughed a bit.
"Only a little tipsy. Gotta drink in a pub, you know." Wait, what?
"You were in a pub all day? What if someone recognized you?" When did Remus become so reckless?
"Not all day. And of course they recognized me; that's where I go for information."
"Information? What are you talking about?" Remus relaxed into the couch, and gestured for Sirius to sit back down.
"I was looking for people. Werewolves, criminals, general outcasts of society. Since they don't take sides, I just have to stay under the radar. I was asking about a few acquaintances I made earlier on." Sirius sat, raising a brow. He was calm, at least.
"Acquaintances? Somehow, I thought you were looking for the spy today, not hunting down drinking buddies." Remus rolled his eyes.
"They're informants, more than anything else. And I am hunting down the spy, just in a round-about way."
"You always did like beating around the bush."
"It kept me out of detention while you and Prongs, sadly, didn't manage to learn. Now, what's there to eat around here?"
There were no more incredibly late nights, though Remus did arrive after Sirius time to time. Remus said he had gotten a job; Sirius wasn't sure if he believed him, though it did sound like something that he would do.
"So… am I allowed to go back to the Order yet? Or will I continue being told I'm 'injured?' The full moon already passed…" Here, he paused for effect. "Twice."
"I know, I know. I keep asking Dumbledore, but he won't say anything. Just says to try and keep you inside as much as possible. It's like he thinks the moment you're seen, someone will know everything and kill you or something." Hmm…
"Does anyone know what happened in Russia, with Greyback?" Remus shrugged, staring into space.
"They'll know that he's dead, of course. But there was a storm when we left, and I burned his body, so it's unlikely that they know it was me. In all likelihood, they think we both died in that storm." He hoped that was true, at any rate. Though them only realizing what had happened after the was, when he could easily fight and not worry about being killed in his sleep wasn't a terrible alternative.
"You were practically bleeding to death, and you managed to dispose of a body anyway? Should I be worried or impressed?" Sirius smiled mischievously, and Remus followed suit.
"Both. Now, I have a more important question." He leaned in close to Sirius, eyes never leaving his face.
"When is James going to actually get married?" Sirius snorted.
"Who knows. He wants to do it as soon as he can, but Lily wants everyone to be able to come, so they're struggling with a date. I think Prongs is trying for April, but I dunno if it'll happen."
"April… if they do that, they're asking for a rainy ceremony. Lily wanted it outside, you know."
As it turned out, it was a rainy day. However, it was a wizard wedding, as much as Lily's sister despised the fact. Remus, Lily and three of the bridesmaids together cast a charm around the whole place so that the rain was stopped by an invisible barrier.
The result was that they were surrounded by a misty dome that Remus decorated with sparkling golden lights.
The ceremony was short, but the reception was wild, with loud music and louder voices echoing over the empty field in the Weasley's yard. They had volunteered immediately when Dumbledore proposed the idea of using the place, as it was already warded.
Sirius was playing with some of the kids, Remus noticed. A pair of red-haired twins, to be exact. He'd seen their older brothers earlier, teasing gnomes in the garden. If that, and how much fun Sirius was having, was anything to go by, those two would be hellions.
Sirius looked up at him, eyes sparkling. Remus froze, staring at him. Sirius' grin faded, and they both watched each other.
"Oi! Best man, you have to give a speech!" Their gaze broke, and Sirius stood, passing the twins to Remus as he walked towards where the newly-weds stood.
"Here, watch these, will ya? Little buggers wanna put dragon sauce in the drinks."
"And you said no?" Remus asked, amused, as he carefully placed one on each shoulder. They whooped at being so high up.
"No, I want 'em to wait until I can properly enjoy watching those that drink it." Remus snorted, and watched him walk away.
"Hey mister, is it true you played pranks at school too?" Remus glanced sideways at one of the twins.
"Yes. If you tell me your names, I'll tell you some stories."
"I'm Fred, and that's George."
"No, you're George!" Remus snickered lightly.
"Maybe you're both Fred." He felt them look at him.
"Brilliant!" Remus laughed, and proceeded to talk about the Halloween Prank of their fifth year.
James glanced his way, and smiled, before turning back to where Lily was lecturing Sirius on what he could say in front of the children present.
Remus was struggling to walk in a straight line, as he was half-carrying Sirius, and they were both more than a little inebriated. Sirius was giggling about something, trying to pull himself up.
"We're here. Sirius, stop moving so I can get the door open." He barely managed to fit the key, but eventually the door opened, and they spilled into the room. Remus rolled his eyes at Sirius, before standing and locking the door, leaning on the wall. Sirius had made it to the kitchen, and he followed slowly, to be offered a glass of water.
"We're both gonna need it in tha' mornin'." Sirius downed his own glass, refilled it, and began to sip out of it as well, slowly.
"How is it that not a minute ago, you could barely hold yourself up?" Sirius shrugged, not bothering to answer. They sat in silence for another few minutes.
"Rem?" He looked up, only to have his lips met with another pair. It only lasted a moment, before Sirius grinned at him and walked out.
"Night!" Remus stayed where he was, rubbing at his lips. They tingled.
"So, how've you been?" Pat looked up from his mug, grinning at him.
"Fine, fine. Listen, I been lookin' fer that friend o' yours, quiet-like. And I got a bite; some feller remembers hearin' tha' name you gave me in a pub by the river. Says he didn' stay ter listen, though. Looked like Death Eaters, or sommat. That what you was expectin'?" In other words, was Remus actually involved with the war, or not? If he wanted to remain in the loop, it had better be the latter.
"Sounds like what he'd manage to get hisself inta, at any rate." Pat relaxed a bit.
"You gonna step in?" Another test. Was he willing to get into the war?
"I'll keep an ear out, but I ain't messin' with the Death Eaters if I can 'elp it." And another problem averted. People here didn't take well to those on either side of the war, simply because they usually tried to get others in on it. This whole thing was tearing everyone apart.
"Righ', o' course. That's all I got, but I suppose yuh don' need much, do ya?" Remus shook his head, thanked him, and did what any wizard did when trying to change the subject.
"So, you hear about the Harpies latest game? Got crushed by Bulgaria last week."
Remus glanced at his watch and winced, but didn't move from his place. He was late, very late, and Sirius was going to begin worrying. But moving at the moment could become a huge problem.
He'd found the river pub easily enough; it reeked so badly of alcohol he could smell it four blocks away. He now was sitting on its roof, listening carefully to the talk inside that streamed out of the grate for the fire. He didn't want to be seen here.
"… they're getting out of hand. Wish someone would clean this mess up…"
"… Quidditch match bets! Get yer bets!"
"Firewhiskey! None o' that cheap Muggle stuff!" It sounded like any other pub, really. Wizarding one, at any rate. The amount of them had skyrocketed when the war started; safer to be in the company of possible Death Eaters and Order members than to risk being seen with Muggles.
"… tail…" He froze, leaning closer for the conversation, only to be disappointed.
"Yeah, I got some dragon tails. Fresh batch." Well, that was anti-climactic. Remus stopped himself from groaning, and glanced at his watch again, before giving up. It was nearly three in the morning, if he wasn't already here-
"Hey Wormtail, you're late" He blinked, glanced at the ceiling again, and slowly lay down, focusing on the words floating up through the grate. He was in luck, it sounded like they were sitting next to it.
"I- I'm sorry. Had to blow off s-someone to get here." Yeah, that was him all right. Remus moved slightly closer. He wasn't sure at this point what he was hoping to discover.
"We've got something for you. But not here." They all stood, from what Remus could hear, and a few minutes later, appeared walking out the doors. Two tall men, with Peter sandwiched between them.
Remus watched them closely as they walked away, and was surprised when, instead of Apparating away, they began walking down the street, towards an alley. Remus shifted, before quickly climbing down from his spot and following.
He reached the alley, but didn't enter. Instead, he settled under the eve of the next building and waited.
Eventually, the two emerged, but not Peter. Remus examined their faces closely as they walked briskly back towards the pub, then glanced at the alley. There was no sound. He walked in, listening carefully. There was nothing, and a quick examination of the alley revealed that they had left nothing behind except scents.
He inhaled slowly, memorizing every detail, and matching what he could to their faces. This was Remus' best skill, memory and sense. The werewolf part of him gave him what he needed, and his own mind could do the rest.
Too bad Dumbledore won't let me do this for the Order. As it is, I don't know what I have.
Sirius found himself pacing again, as he had several weeks before. Remus had been careful since then to not be long after him, it was true, but that just made tonight more worrisome.
Today, you mean. It's nearing four in the morning. He ignored the voice, glanced at his wand, and sighed. Remus, no matter what he said, was looking for the spy. Dumbledore was still restricting him from active duty, though at this point everyone in the Order knew it wasn't for the injury.
Sirius had actually heard rumors that Remus was doing assignments secretly, others that he was inside Voldemort's headquarters. At least there were no whispers that he was the Spy anymore.
Almost none. Didn't Peter say… He shoved that thought away as well. This was making him paranoid; he wasn't going to accuse two friends of the same thing.
But the fact was, Remus was doing something to get to the spy, which meant he couldn't send a message. On the other hand, if Remus was hurt, or trapped, and couldn't get a message out for help, then Sirius should try to contact him. But if-
Gah! This is why I hate when he does this! I'm supposed to be the stupid one taking risks, not waiting here hoping not to hear anything bad!
Sirius supposed it was justice, in a sense. Remus always seemed rather calm when he returned from a mission, before and after the Greyback incident, but he'd always caught a hint of fear and worry. If he had been feeling half of what Sirius was at the moment, he was fairly shocked Remus hadn't exploded.
I need a drink. Man, I can practically smell one already… Wait, he did smell something. It was like an entire pub had decided to compile itself into one person-shaped blob of stench that was currently entering the room.
"Remus?" He knew Remus collected information at pubs, but the smell coming from him was like he'd swam through an alcoholic's wet dream.
"Yeah. Sorry I'm so late, I was… fishing."
"That's either the lamest excuse we never used on McGonagall or I'm not getting the meaning of the word. Please tell me it's the latter." Remus chuckled, rubbing his nose.
"It means I was looking for information, so don't worry. Though, I'm sure we said something to that effect one time. Didn't she ask why we were soaking wet after a run-in with Moaning Myrtle?" Sirius wasn't listening.
"Pads?" He looked up.
"Why did you come back smelling like alcohol?"
"Because the pub I was in seems to have been painted in it." He snorted, before walking towards the kitchen for some water. Sirius trailed after him. After a few moments of silence, he spoke.
"So? Did you actually discover something?" Remus looked at him, and bit his lip. It wouldn't be good to let the cat out of the bag just yet, especially because Sirius was so stubborn about the traitor not being one of the Marauders now.
"I might have a lead, but it'll take some more following. At the moment, I just know that this person frequents a pub that Death Eaters often visit, and they met with some people that could be Death Eaters."
"So, not much?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
"And you still won't say who you think it is?" Sirius looked at him closely, hoping he'd give something away.
"No. You know why, Sirius. If I'm wrong, and there is a great chance of that, I don't want then to be suspected for nothing."
"But what if you're right, and they realize you know before you can get help?" Remus didn't respond, staring into his glass pensively.
"Remus… you don't have to do everything alone. I mean, I know I don't deserve your forgiveness, in fact I'm shocked you've forgiven me this much, or whatever it is, but you could tell someone what you're doing, it's safer for everyone, please don't do something stupid, that's my job, and how didn't you explode with all this worry-"
He was cut off. Not that this was weird or anything, he tended to babble when stressed, but how he was silenced was different.
Namely, by a pair of lips that, surprisingly, didn't taste of alcohol, though their owner reeked of it. He hadn't been drinking, then.
Remus pulled away, and Sirius unconsciously leaned forward, capturing them again. Remus let out a startled sound, pulling back further, before pausing and staying still. Sirius wasn't sure what he was thinking, but when he started kissing back, he decided he really didn't care.