A/N: This is probably about as good as I'm ever going to get this one…I'm sure there are plot holes everywhere, but hopefully nothing too obvious. I get the feeling it'll be a long time before I attempt Harry's POV again; I'm pretty sure my blood pressure went through the roof at times writing this.
The Crooked Letter
I quietly shut the back door to the old, broken looking building and stumble out into the fairly steep slope that's meant to be the garden. I really wish I hadn't just heard that…and I mean really, really wish it.
I shake my head, letting my hair naturally un-ruffle itself and at the same time, hopefully clearing my head a little, accustoming it to the early evening air. It's not exactly cold outside, but it's gradually getting chilled out here, and it's certainly cooler than the stuffy house. I test a patch of ground by my feat, before flopping down onto the damp grass; from the ground there's not much of a view, except you can see a small path through into the trees on the eastern side of the house. When you're standing up though, you can see that the trees spread out for miles, and there's a bulky shadow of a small concrete outhouse near the main building, seemingly out of place unless you knew exactly what its owner is.
Not that many people do know; if it's one thing I'm certainly learning after spending the past four days at Professor Lupin's it's that I'm one of the very few people who have been treated to knowing that he's a werewolf and even now he rarely mentions it…even seems to tighten up if Sirius brings it up.
I sigh and pick my glasses off my face, so I can rub my eyes. I'm not supposed to be here…I'm probably the reason that I just caught Sirius and Professor Lupin having a full out blazing row in the hallway near the bathroom. After all, I heard my name mentioned.
'You told me back then that we owed Harry the truth and I've been telling him it! Take your own bloody advice and do the same for once!'
I'm supposed to be at the Weasley's right now. We had it all planned; the last two weeks of the holidays I'd go to Ron's and forget about the Dursleys and the disgusting sight for sore eyes that is Dudley. Be a normal teenager…forget all about the last term at school. Some hope that was. They've all had to go into hiding for the last part of the summer, because they're now number two on Voldemort's hit list; they'd be off it by now if he had his way.
They got them out of the burrow an hour before the death eaters arrived as far as I've heard. I think I can feel my stomach sink…an hour too late and Mrs Weasley, the twins, Bill, Ron and Ginny would have been dead. On top of that I got a letter from Ron the day before they had to move, saying that Percy had been approached by Death Eaters - he was lucky that he was called away to a meeting by one of his co-workers by all accounts…but Mrs Weasley's absolutely furious; Percy didn't tell them about his encounter for over three weeks.
So that was, effectively, my summer holidays ruined. Not that I was complaining exactly - I'd rather be stuck with the Dursleys for six weeks than have to be on the run from Voldemort, knowing that my whole family is in danger. But Dumbledore seemed to take a disliking to the idea of me sitting around for the rest of the holiday there, and suddenly I was told that I was going to stay with Sirius…who was at Lupin's house.
Which is just fine by me…but, well, I can't help but feel a little out of place here and feel sorry for Professor Lupin at the same time; by the way his house is kept, I don't think he's used to having guests at all, let alone two of us at once. I don't want to be a nuisance. Which is how I feel at the moment, because I might be no mind reader (heaven forbid I should ever become like Trelawney - I think I'd rather spend the rest of my life in a small room with Hagrid's skewrts than do that) but there's something up between Sirius and Professor Lupin. The argument I just heard proves that…and…and I think I'm the problem.
They would have got on just fine if I hadn't turned up un-announced like that. I wasn't thinking very clearly when I jumped at the chance to spend two weeks with Sirius, and if I had been, I would have turned the offer down. It's not as if I'm not used to being at the Dursleys and Dumbledore hasn't been that bothered before about me being there. Both Sirius and Lupin are fine around me; it's been great hearing about my Dad from them, and being able to have races on Brooms (against Sirius who I think is having a second childhood at the moment) and…just being able to do my homework without someone barking at me to "put it away boy!" or mumbling "should beat it out of them…" outside my door. That and they're both very clever and help me out no end.
But, it's when I'm not really paying attention to them both, or they think I'm not looking, there's this awkwardness between them. I've seen them send these…I dunno, just "looks" to one another when my back's turned. Sometimes even when I'm not. And if they don't want me to see, then I must be the cause. Always been the way.
But the point is that they shouldn't be fighting with each other. They're friends, the only two left of their gang from school - shouldn't they be laughing and re-living the past or something like that? I mean, that's what people do at reunions as far as I recall from having three of Uncle Vernon's Smeltings friends over.
I can hear familiar footsteps approaching behind me now. Great, this is going to be an interesting one to explain to Sirius. He feels guilty enough about not being around when I was growing up, despite how many times I tell him that I don't really care and that it wasn't his fault. He sits down next to me, and I start pulling the grass out in great clumps in my hand, trying to figure out what to say. For some reason having the power to mutilate the grass helps me concentrate. It's odd though…normally that's not a problem because he always starts things off for me. Well, start at the beginning-
"Hey Sirius." I say, deadpanning my voice, not looking up.
"Ah -" I bolt my head up. So much for the familiar footsteps! "Sorry Harry, I could go and fetch him if you'd like though?"
It's Professor Lupin, something I should have realized the moment he sat down. If it were Sirius he would have started talking straight away or made his presence known to me like he always does. But…well, I wasn't exactly expecting it to be Lupin, not that he isn't nice or doesn't talk to me…I just didn't expect him to come and be the one to fetch me in from the outside. Sirius is the one who gets all parental on me.
"No! No, I'm sorry Professor, I just presumed that it would be…well, y'know. I don't know why really. Sorry." I say a little sheepishly. What was it Hermione said once? Something about assuming making an ass out of you and me. Typical Hermione logic, but it is correct in its own way.
"That's quite alright. And it's Remus; no need for the Professor any more." He smiles at me, before looking down the track way in the wood. I still think that he looks older than he should; the lines on his face and the grey hairs sometimes (like now) just seem to stand out far more than they should. But you can still tell that he's youngish; his eyes and the way he holds himself just look younger than the rest of him.
"I'd like to apologize for being an appalling host, if I may." He says turning his eyes back onto me. I frown - what's he on about? Compared to the Dursleys here is a five star hotel with all the trimmings. He doesn't expect me to wash up, pick stuff up after other people or pretend that I don't exist…sounds like a good host to me. He takes in my frown and carries on. "You shouldn't have had to hear that argument Harry…I take it you did?"
"Yeah." I say quietly, not really knowing what else to say. There's no point in denying it; I can tell by the look on his face that he knows I did and I don't intend on insulting his intelligence any time soon.
"Then I truly am sorry. Sirius and I should know better than to bring up personal issues when we have guests, let alone letting them get the better of us. You came here for a relaxing end to your holiday, not to hear us two bickering like that." There's that slightly hardened edge to his voice that I recognize from when he was teaching. He always had a way of never raising his voice, but making the person feel guilty for whatever they did just by using that very same tone. Strange really that he uses it on himself though.
"It's alright. I mean, it's hardly as if you expected me to be here is it? I guess you and Sirius have loads to catch up on without me being around."
I do my best to look cheerful, but I think it very much fails. I mean what I say, but I do actually like it here. I like seeing them both, especially Sirius - it's nice to see him when he's not living off rats or under pressure.
Profes - Remus (now that is going to take some getting used to) gives me this searching, sort of calculating look before starting to talk again. "You being here makes no difference Harry, unless you count not having to worry about your safety each day. I can assure you that any argument I have with Sirius would have happened regardless of any extra guests. Dumbledore himself could have been here and the same would have happened."
"But I heard my name, Sirius said -"
He raises his eyebrows at me, looking worried, which is odd. Why would he be worried? Maybe I wasn't supposed to hear my name; actually, I wasn't supposed to hear any of it. Why am I so stupid? He probably just came out here to apologize to me, not go over that.
"We're not really arguing over you Harry, if that's what you think."
"Well…No." Okay so it's a bit of a lie, and he probably sees through it, but I'll look like a right self-centered prat if I tell him that I did. But I'm curious, if it wasn't over me then… "What did he mean that you should be telling me the truth?"
A small smile flits on his features as he says this. "Sirius says and means different things. When he says that I should tell you the truth, he means that I should simply say something, anything to you…perhaps tell you about your parents more."
What do you say to that exactly? I had wondered for a moment why Remus never really joined in on the conversations that me and Sirius have had, still am wondering now to tell the truth. When we have spoken, Remus tends to sit and smile quietly to himself, seemingly content just to hear Sirius telling me stories about them getting kicked by a centaur (apparently he'd said something they didn't like all too much and…well, things got ugly) or the many detentions that they all served.
One thing for sure though, is that it doesn't bother me all that much. I've never heard anything about my parents like this before, so hearing just one person's memories is enough for me - you don't like to push people too much, because they're talking about people who they once were really close to…who died. But Remus not talking obviously bothers Sirius.
I think I've startled him. We were both kinda wrapped up in our own thoughts there really…
"A lot of things," I start to explain, only just really getting that there is more than one thing I want to know the 'why' to. "Why does it bother Sirius enough to argue with you over it? Why don't you talk about my parents like he does?"
He smiles stupidly for a moment at me. "Because 'Y' is a crooked letter."
What the…? "Huh?"
"Sorry - your mother used to say it. Used to use it to shut your father up from asking too many questions." He shakes his head and the smile off his face. "Let me see…Sirius is bothered because he simply feels that we should be telling you as much as we can to make up for lost time. I agree with him profusely, from what I hear your relatives aren't very open to talking about anything to do with magic and you should know what your parents were like."
He pauses un-certainly for moment, leaning back onto the grass and looking at the sky. "However, Sirius - he…he finds it easier than I do to talk to you about them. I spent twelve years of my life trying to get over everyone's death and betrayal, and to be honest…after learning that Peter was the one, I'm having to go over it all again. It's something that Sirius doesn't quite understand - that I mourned for not only your parents, but for Peter too.
"As well as mourning…I also had my own version of the truth. I molded certain events and conversations to fit what I thought were the facts. There are things I remember happening with Sirius, that I had manipulated in such a way that I had them down as evidence and proof that he was a killer. But now I have to look back at cherished memories of Peter and see why he was the one, whilst changing the memories of Sirius round."
"I guess that must be pretty hard." I reply in a daze.
Part of me really didn't expect such an honest answer. Past experiences have taught me that more often than not, adults like to tell you half-truths or don't answer your questions because you're too young to understand. The worst part of the latter is that they actually believe that; they forget how they felt when they were kids and how we aren't as innocent as they'd like us to be. For instance, when Hermione is home watching TV there's sometimes a warning before a program comes on – usually something along the lines of 'contains strong language and scenes of a sexual nature'. As she ranted to myself and Ron one time, "It happens every time, they sit there and wonder out loud if that sort of stuff is suitable for me – then look as if they want to cover my ears and eyes throughout the whole thing. It's almost like I've never told them that I'm friends with a ex-convict who swears at least once every minute." Adults are like that, and although they think they're protecting us from something…really, they're only making matters worse. Sometime in your life you're bound to come face to face with – let's use the case of Hermione and her parents – swearing and sex. Surely it's better for her to gleam information about life from TV shows, than be totally unprepared.
Maybe one day I'll be like Remus. I hope not, but it's always a possibility. What he's just told me wouldn't exactly help if I was ever in that situation…but I imagine it might be comforting to know that Remus got through stuff like it and that's always got to be a good sign.
Remus is gently smiling at me after my pretty pathetic answer. I get the distinct feeling that I've made a huge understatement. "It does mess with your head a little bit, that's true. ...Harry, have you ever noticed how Sirius' stories about us when we were young, never mention Peter?"
I have to think about that one for a moment. Wormtail is not one of my favorite people in the world; in fact, you could probably place him in my top ten – five even of people I despise. He's somewhere lined up against the Malfoy's and Minister Fudge, all of them trying to claim that second place on the list below Voldemort. I think Minister Fudge has the edge at the moment, but it's a close run thing. With that in mind, I don't particularly notice or care when Sirius leaves him out of his stories. I'd rather not be reminded of…of things like Cedric's death or my mother's screams that I hear when Dementors get near me – things that I associate with Wormtail.
"Kinda – I don't really care much though, I'd rather hear about my Dad than him." I don't care that my voice sounded bitter then either.
"That's understandable considering. I was just thinking that perhaps Sirius has already done the same as me when he was in Azkaban. He doesn't tell stories involving or mentioning Peter because the memory has already been tainted and however great that moment may have been, it will always pale in comparison to ones where Peter wasn't involved as much."
That triggers my brain into noticing that I've already done the same with a whole bunch of memories from last year. Even Malfoy as a ferret doesn't seem all that much fun, because it was Crouch who'd done that in the first place. Maybe Ron thinks the same too when he thinks about Scabbers. Strike off that 'maybe'; Ron probably wants to strangle something – preferably Wormtail – every time he thinks about him. I frown as I realize that I'd like to do that too.
"Time for a change of subject I think, don't you?" I nod my head, the less talk about murderous traitors the better. "Tell me…apart from what Sirius has told you, what else have you heard about James from other people? Maybe – maybe I might be able to tell you something new."
I don't miss the hesitance on the last sentence. He's just told me that he finds it hard to talk about my parents. I wonder whether I've somehow made him feel guilty or something, or pushed him without realizing.
"You don't have to if you don't want to you know. I don't mind or anything." He dismisses this with a wave of his hand. It can't hurt to tell him what I've heard I guess. "Err…people haven't said that much really, except that I look and act and probably smell like him too. Most people seem to think that's a good thing. Except Snape. Remember when he called you to his office when I'd snuck out to Hogsmede?" He nods his head, the expression on his face completely unreadable, so I carry on, unable to keep a scowl off my face as I do. "Well before that he'd been telling me all this stuff about my Dad; that he was arrogant, thought he was above everyone else and used to strut around the school. Said that 'a little bit of talent on the Quidditch field had gone to his head.' Then he told me that I was the same!"
I look at Remus, expecting to hear something about Snape being a biased git – after all, that's what Sirius has described him to me as many times. Instead, I'm met with an amused laugh and twinkling eyes. I've never actually seen him look like that before. He's always seemed tired, a little sad and worn to me…I make a mental note to make him laugh again before I leave here, because…I think it suits him. It makes him look his age.
"You're not that much like your father you know." He leans back onto the grass, hands above his head. I almost unconsciously follow his lead and do the same. From the corner of my eyes I can just about tell that he's grinning to himself. "Let me assure you Harry that you do no such thing…James, on the other hand…perhaps you should look at it this way. As you know, your father and Severus hated one another and they liked to outdo one another at any level possible. Although he enjoyed Quidditch, Severus wasn't that great a player and wasn't on the house team. Well, that gave your father an advantage over him and James used to exploit as many times as possible. Imagine that Gryffindor have just won a match against Slytherin –"
I quickly butt in, unable to help myself. "That's not hard."
"Glad to hear it. If Gryffindor won a match, James could not resist the temptation to rub Severus' nose in it. He would strut up to him and his friends, before rather loudly telling them that their players were rubbish and didn't stand a chance against him anyway. Of course, he was only doing that to wind them up, but you can imagine what that sort of thing looked like to Severus."
I can't help it, the amusement in his voice is infectious, and before I know it, I'm grinning like a madman too, all my worries about Remus and Sirius arguing blown straight out of my mind. "I think that my Dad probably looked pretty arrogant and big headed."
"Exactly. In fact…he once decided that he would try and shake Evan Rosier's – one of Severus' friends and captain of the Quidditch team – hand after a match. He wondered over to them, spouting off rubbish about it being a good game and that everyone played well, before asking to shake Rosier's hand just to show that there were no hard feelings. A few seconds later, it became clear that there were hard feelings, when James' head starting swelling to twice its size. A Slytherin friend had decided that it would be amusing to practice the inflating charm on him; I seem to remember that Madam Pomfrey thought it rather good too and left him like that for half an hour."
It's a strange thing to realize that my mental picture of this situation has replaced my Dad with Malfoy. Their behavior sounds exactly the same in a way, even though my Dad was only joking around, whereas Malfoy means every cruel thing he's ever said to me. The more I think about it though, the funnier the story seems to become. After all, Professor Lupin has just given me a great idea of how to deal with Malfoy the next time he comes near me. And it's with the thought of inflating Malfoy's head to fit the size of his ego and Madam Pomfrey leaving him like that for a while, that I start laughing. I don't think I've laughed properly like this since…the tournament. I've smiled, grinned, even chuckled slightly…but this is different. I needed this.
I turn to Remus (his name seeming more comfortable in my head now than before). "Why hasn't Sirius ever told me about that?" I manage to get out between alarmingly girlish giggles.
"Why?" Remus sits up. "Good question…I can only think of one answer to that – it's a tale of failure. James didn't get one up on Severus and his friends, instead he got what he was asking for. But maybe, you'd have to ask Sirius about that one – don't you think?"
I vaguely nod my head. The laughter slowly breaks and turns into an uncomfortable silence. I don't like it, the air feels thicker around me, even though I know that, logically, it hasn't thickened at all; if anything it's become fresher with the night air. I think I've said the wrong thing again. Bringing up Sirius' name…I don't understand it. The way that Remus described their argument earlier made it sound so little and just a spare of the moment thing. But, mentioning Sirius made Remus more uncomfortable…I'm not that great at figuring out people's moods from their posture, but I just know that the way he sat up and looks strained again means that he's not relaxed and happy like he was moments ago. I sit up myself, gazing at his back, trying my hardest to figure him out.
"Are you and Sirius…alright? I mean, with each other – and stuff. Are you?" I ask tentatively, feeling the blood pound in my ears; the product of both getting up to quickly and the embarrassment of asking someone such a personal question. It's like feeling fate whoosh past you as it decides whether you're going to be rejected through anger, or if the other will politely tell you that it's none of your business.
Remus does neither.
"You're still worried about that? Because we're fine Harry. Honestly."
But his smile doesn't reach his eyes like the laughter did. Because I'm too young to understand, and suddenly he's just another adult telling me white lies to keep me safe from the bogey monster.
"What else do you two argue about?"
I realize it's a stupid question, one that I have no right to be asking him, but something possessed me to do it. In my head, for some reason it seems important to me to know what they do fight about. What do normal people, friends, argue about? I've only ever fallen out with Ron before…I've argued with Dudley and the Dursleys, but it was so different to fight against Ron. I – I guess I don't really know or understand how friends could fall out over personality differences, without a real cause. I've watched Dean and Seamus shout at each other from opposite ends of the dorm over some silly comment that Seamus had made. I got that they were angry, I got that they were both offended by each other's reactions, but…I didn't understand it.
Remus turns around and focuses his eyes directly onto mine; probably wondering what the hell made me ask such a dense question. I can feel my face flushing under the pressure and discreetly try to turn my head away. OK, so that didn't go so well…now I just have to figure out a way to apologize without putting my foot in it again.
"Do you honestly want to know Harry?" I look up again, at his quiet voice. For a moment, I don't know what to do or say.
"I…er…I don't know…I'm sorry, I mean it's -"
"We argue over lots of things, as I said before. Stupid things. I don't mean arguments about which Quidditch team is better…but things that sometimes shouldn't matter but they do. Severus is the best example. Neither of us have any reason to think about a man who we care little for, but we do – and he'll get mentioned in a conversation. We both have slightly differing opinions about him, but we're both too stupid and stubborn to back down and so, every so often, we just get angry for no real reason over a man we both dislike. It's not particularly serious arguing, Harry."
I give myself a moment to concentrate and to take that in fully. So it's not real arguing then – that's disagreeing on something. But the row I heard them have earlier…that didn't sound like a disagreement. And there's a difference, I know there is. And I'm worried about them; I don't want them to be playing pretend happy families around me…I'm not used to that, so I can cope if things aren't alright. But I think that Sirius and maybe even Remus deserve to not have to pretend that things are fine – they should automatically be that way.
"But – what about serious arguing then? You were serious earlier when I heard you both." And I'm still not sure that that was not my fault.
He doesn't face me when he answers that question, instead preferring to look out at the out building and the small patch of woodland.
"We're both – concerned, Harry. Dumbledore would tell us that we're worrying too much and maybe that's true. We both had to snap eventually – I meant what I said earlier, anyone could have been staying with us and it would have made no difference. I started it; I told Sirius that I wasn't happy about a certain…job, that he's agreed to do for Dumbledore."
Remus sighs and brushes a hand through his hair. "I can't tell you – it's not my place to. Sorry Harry."
I'm a little put out, not because he won't tell me, but because Sirius hasn't told me. I thought that he would and that he trusted me with things like that. I don't think I can ask him what he's going to be doing unless he brings it up though, otherwise that will land Remus in trouble for telling me in the first place. I feel more…close I guess to Sirius, but I like Remus and I don't want to cause him trouble. So I tell Remus that it's alright that he can't tell me in as few words as possible, leaving him to carry on.
"I'm sure you don't need a full blow by blow account, so I'll get to the point; we seriously argue over one another's welfare. Because we care about that, much more than we care about what Severus or Minister Fudge is doing. Sirius is concerned that I'm going to get caught in the firing line for a lot things, I'm worried that he's going to get himself caught.
"Somewhere in between all of this, your name came up; I think it was my fault, I was the one who suggested that Sirius should worry more about you than me. That, amongst other things, brought up some largely unhappy memories for us both and a couple of issues that we'd never really resolved. Unfortunately, we decided to sort them out by brawling like we were twenty again and that's when you overheard."
I let that sit in my mind for a moment, mentally going over things before I open my big mouth like I did before. The words that I did overhear them say, still don't make overly much sense…but it really would be overstepping my mark to go into that again. I have to trust that he was being honest before when he says that Sirius just wanted him to talk to me. But…there's this nagging little voice in my head that's bothered by something. That when Remus said that I was brought into everything…it brought up unhappy memories. Have they fought over me before and fallen out, just like Ron and I did? But Remus said that everything's fine between them…I don't see how things can be fine if they've been shouting their throats sore to one another. Carefully trying pick over the words, before I say them, I venture yet another question.
"But Remus-" He turns round to face me again, making me feel really unnerved. I start to pull at the grass again and I soften my voice a little, to make it sound a lot less judgmental. "You said that you and Sirius were still…you know, friends. But you're fighting, you just said that you were – and – and you can't be both can you?"
His brow furrows a little, causing some of his greying hair to fall forward which he flicks away almost instantly. "Friends fight, Harry." He states and I can just hear the confusion in his voice. But at the same time, there's a patronizing edge to it – like he's talking to someone who's either very young, or very stupid. For all I know, I could be either one of these in his eyes. "You, Ron and Hermione argue don't you, and you're still friends. Sirius and I are only human; we do the same."
My stomach jolts automatically at that little reminder. I forget all to often – that adults are just the same as me. It's easier to make yourself only see the wiser, more perfect side to them and forget that they have fears and problems and that they to, do really dumb things sometimes.
"When I fell out with Ron though, we weren't friends for ages afterwards. He wouldn't talk to me or even go near me, because he hated me. That's…that's what fighting is about right? I don't fight with Malfoy because I like him."
"But you fought with Ron and you like him enough. And what made you two friends again afterwards?"
"He finally realized that I didn't put my name in the Goblet and told me that he'd been a prat."
"Now, you know Ron better than I do Harry, but I don't think that Ron's the sort of person to admit that he's wrong to someone he actually hated all to easily, do you?" I stare down at my fingernails and start picking out the green dirt from underneath them. He's right; if there's one thing I know about Ron, it's that he hates to admit when he's in the wrong. And I still liked Ron, even though I thought he was being an utter idiot. "You see? Things are fine…I think you worry a little too much."
I laugh a little at that. This from the guy who's just told me that he and my godfather worry obsessively enough to fight about it. I heave myself off the ground, brushing down my hand-me-down jeans from Dudley and cringing a little when I discover that the grass has left a huge wet patch on my bum. Not that I care for the jeans much, but that sort of thing is just waiting for someone to make a joke about it.
I stretch my legs a little and turn to walk back to the house, but stop when I see Sirius through the little kitchen window, pacing a little, then looking out the window at me, before he starts to look for something. I tilt my head to one side, finding myself amused by his odd behavior. Sometimes, I think it's one of the most interesting things in the world to do – just watching people go about their lives, all wrapped up in themselves and their own existence. As I've found over the past few days, Sirius is maybe more interesting to watch than most people, because he does things in peculiar orders, like brushing his teeth in the middle of the afternoon and eating hot meals in the middle of the night.
"I've been watching him out of the corner of my eye for the past ten minutes." Remus says quietly behind me, standing up himself. "That looking around is just an act, what he's really been doing is peering out of the window, trying to figure out what on earth we're doing out here."
Sirius is now sitting on the counter peeling an apple, his eyes darting back to us every few seconds, before concentrating very hard again on peeling the apple when he notices that we're watching. I can't help but smile at the scowl on his face when the peel breaks halfway down.
"I think we should probably put him out of his misery, before he decides to eat that thing. It looks brown even from here." Brown, moldy, bruised…it's the sort of thing that Buckbeak would love.
"If you say so." I start to walk towards the back door, glad that maybe something might be going right at the moment. I've really had enough of bad news. I'm about half way there, when Remus stops me. "Do you think you could do me a favor?"
He glances over to the window and lowers his voice.
"Don't tell Sirius that you overheard us earlier on… He panics so much at times about the sort of role model he's being for you…it just might be easier all around if he doesn't know."
"I guess so." I shrug. I don't like the way he beats himself up over me, so it sounds like a good idea. I know that when Sirius thinks he's done something wrong, he won't rest until he thinks that he's made up for it; I'd guess that whatever thing he's doing for Dumbledore he's probably doing because more than anything, he thinks that he owes us all something. Which isn't true, because it wasn't his fault my parents died and that he got sent to Azkaban without even doing anything wrong. He doesn't need to feel guilty at all, but it doesn't matter what you say or do, he can't be told.
"Good." Remus smiles graciously, whilst he rocks back and forth a bit on his feet. "Good…"
By the time we open the door, Sirius is tossing his fully peeled, bruised apple into the air and catching it in an obvious attempt to bide time enough to stop him from actually having to eat the thing. The moment the door shuts, he throws it to me, a lopsided grin on his face.
"Thought you might be hungry."
I pull a face, when I think I see a maggot crawling through the thing. Yeah, Buckbeak would love this; moldy apple with maggot surprise in the middle. It's gross though. I throw it back at him as soon as I can. "Not really."
"Can't say I blame you. That's just disgusting." He tugs the cupboard door out from underneath him, and puts the apple in the small, white bin attached to the back of it. He seems to study me and Remus for a moment, no doubt curious as hell about what we've been talking about.
I grin as I shut the door behind me, before casually saying, "You do know we could see you out there right?"
Remus starts to laugh. Sirius has that 'deer caught in the headlights' look for a moment, before he just shrugs and smiles at me, jumping off the work tops, catching me in a headlock, knocking off my glasses in the process and trying to ruffle my hair so it looks even worse than it normally does. But for some reason, I don't care. I might be fifteen and desperate to be treated like a grown up, but just for now, feeling like someone's little kid suits me fine.
[Edited 15/02/03 : Mainly a HTML overhaul I'm afraid - tiny bits of inconsistency have been changed too though.]