SPLINTERS by InFabula
Disclaimer: these wonderful characters belong to JK: I
just borrowed them for a bit.
Thanks to super-beta ivy for her help!
“Of all the pig-headed-!” Sirius descended into
incoherent muttering. He picked up a log
and hurled it viciously on to the fire where it landed heavily, sending up a
satisfactory blaze of sparks.
“He KNOWS how important it is for Harry to master
Occlumency-!” he stopped and thrust both hands into the log basket to repeat
his previous action. Instead, he gave a
loud yell, dropped the log and swore.
Remus was at his side in an instant.
Face screwed up in pain, Sirius gingerly held out his
hands in front of him for Remus to inspect.
Multiple splinters of wood were embedded in each palm.
Remus looked around and spotted the unhelpful Black
house-elf lurking in the kitchen doorway.
“Kreacher, please find me a sharp needle and three
clean handkerchiefs,” he said firmly.
The house-elf regarded him haughtily and announced, “Kreacher
does not take orders from stinking half-breed who shames the House of Black
with its presence. My mistress would
have had you executed-”
“And lying in the hall as a hearth rug,” Sirius
finished impatiently. “Just do as he
says, you insolent piece of…
He watched as a scowling Kreacher disappeared. “I can’t believe Dumbledore wants me to be
friends with that.”
“I don’t think he was suggesting you take him out to
dinner,” Remus replied reasonably. “He
was just saying you could treat him with a little civility, a little courtesy.”
“Has Hermione signed you up to S.P.E.W.?”
“The subscription’s cheaper if I introduce a friend…”
“Over my dead body!”
Sirius felt the malevolent gaze on him once more as Kreacher returned
and offered up the needle and handkerchiefs.
Spreading one of the handkerchiefs out on the kitchen
table beside him, Remus motioned Sirius to sit in one chair and took his own
seat in front of him.
“Incendio,” Remus muttered and sterilised the
tip of the needle in the resulting flames.
He took hold of Sirius’s left hand.
“Now hold still. This will
Sirius caught the gleam of gleeful anticipation in
Kreacher’s eyes at these words and sternly sent him from the room. He winced as Remus started working the
splinters free and placing them carefully on the handkerchief. By way of diversion, he turned back to the
object of his anger.
“The ignorance of the man! He’s part of the Order and Dumbledore trusts
him to do this…why he trusts Snivellus at all, I’ll never understand…the slimy,
deceitful, lying, spiteful, vicious…I don’t care WHAT Dumbledore says, I don’t believe he’s changed…he‘s just as
slippery as he was at school and I‘m certain he‘s still in touch with the Death
Eaters-” He broke off, aware that Remus
had not said a word.
asked belligerently. “Don’t you think
Snivelllus is behaving like a complete git?”
Remus stopped and looked up at him with a clear gaze.
“Well?” Sirius repeated less fiercely, a note of
apprehension in his voice: he had seen that look before and he usually did not
like what accompanied it.
Straightening up in his chair, Remus answered
calmly. “I don’t think it’s fair that Snape
is taking his anger out on Harry.”
Sirius exclaimed. “He’s a teacher! He should-”
Remus interrupted him.
“I mean it’s us he has the issue with.
Not Harry.” He bent back over Sirius’s hand.
Sirius studied the top of his head for a moment then
said quietly: “Not you either, Moony.”
“Oh, it was James and you who led the Snape-baiting,”
Remus agreed, “but I didn’t stop it, Sirius, and neither did Peter.”
He felt Sirius tense at the mention of the fourth
Marauder but continued: “I know Snape wasn’t blameless - far from it - but I
was never comfortable when you and James picked on him in public, Padfoot. When Lily challenged you that day I felt
ashamed that it wasn’t me. She was
saying what I wanted to say.”
“Why didn’t you?”
Remus sighed, straightened up again and sterilised the
needle once more. He shrugged. “Because before I came to Hogwarts, I’d been
where Snape was and I didn’t want to go back there.”
Yes.” Remus smiled. “Another occupational hazard of being a
Sirius did not smile.
“And you thought we’d do that to you?
Remus, we were Animagi by then!
Hadn’t we shown our loyalty to you?
We would never, ever -”
“Actually, it’s one of the reasons I worried about you
and James finding out in the first place.
I wasn’t certain what you’d do with the knowledge.”
“Moony…Prongs would never…I would never…”
His expression was one of earnest reassurance: Remus
held his gaze slightly longer than he should have done before returning to the
splinters. Sirius’s face closed up.
“You still haven’t forgiven me, have you?” he said in
a low voice.
Remus shook his head.
“Padfoot, I forgave you a long time ago.”
“You really think we would have-”
“At the time, it seemed…a possibility.
You were careless people back then, you and James.”
He studied Sirius’s left hand closely. “That’s clear now.” He carefully wrapped the wounded hand in a
fresh handkerchief, cleaned the needle and started on the right hand.
There was silence punctuated only by the sound of the
logs crackling on the fire. Despite the
warmth generated by the flames, Sirius felt colder than he had done since he
had escaped Azkaban. He did not even feel
the needle digging into his flesh. His
oldest friend - now, his best friend - had just confessed that he had thought
him capable of betrayal and torment.
From anyone else, he would have responded angrily to an accusation he
regarded as unjust, but the horrible
thing was, he could understand entirely why Remus had believed it possible. Hadn’t he proved himself callous and
untrustworthy when he had told Snape the truth about the Whomping Willow?
“I suppose that’s why you thought I was to blame when James…” he could
not finish the sentence.
Remus looked up sharply. He read Sirius’s mood instantly and gave
himself a mental kick. No matter how
often they discussed the episode with Snape, Sirius had an endless supply of
guilt to tap into. Sometimes the guilt
got in the way of constructive conversation.
“Padfoot,” he began, “it was one of the worst days of
my life when I was told you had killed James and Lily and Peter. I didn’t understand it and I didn’t want to
accept it. It took me ages to come to
terms with it.”
He gently laid a hand on Sirius’s arm and continued:
“I told you this two years ago. I didn't want to believe you were responsible
for the death of our friends but in the end, I did.“
“Because I’d shown myself to be treacherous towards
you,” Sirius whispered dully, studying the floor.
Remus resisted the urge to shake him.
“No, idiot, because there didn’t seem to be any other
explanation. We all thought you were the
Secret-Keeper, remember. Actually, the
incident with Snape was one of the main reasons I didn‘t think you were
Sirius looked at him, puzzled.
“After it happened, you changed, Padfoot,” Remus said
quietly. “So did James. Both of you grew up overnight and started
thinking about how your actions affected other people.” He leaned forward for emphasis. “I never worried again.”
He saw the emotions working their way through Sirius
until his eyes settled on a mixture of relief and belief.
“I said this two years ago too,” Remus smiled,
re-sterilising the needle, “it was
easily the best day of my life to know that you were innocent.”
This time, Sirius returned the smile.
As Remus started to remove the splinters once more,
“Tell me, Moony, what was Snape like when you taught
Remus considered for a moment then said: “He’s a
competent teacher but not a popular one.
He has favourites and he uses his position to bully some of the
“He’s one of them though Harry can stand up for
himself. I believe when Harry started,
all Snape saw was James and James’s son.
Nowadays, I think he dislikes Harry in his own right; Harry’s probably
like a fifth Marauder to him. And also,
he now knows how close you and Harry are.
I imagine every time he sees him, he’s reminded of you. Actually, the one who was terrified of him
was Neville Longbottom.”
“Frank and Alice’s kid?”
Remus nodded and then chuckled. “I told you about the Boggart, didn’t I?”
Sirius’s face lit up.
“Yeah, Snape in a dress with a big red handbag. I wish I’d been there…“ he said
dreamily. “How was he with the other
“He listens to Dumbledore but doesn’t always like what
he hears. As for McGonagall, Flitwick
and the others, he seems content to co-exist.”
“And with you?
How was he with you?”
Remus concentrated on a recalcitrant piece of wood
buried deep in Sirius’s right palm. It
was a moment before he answered.
“Snape didn’t want me there,” he said simply. “You know how much venom he injects into
saying my surname. That was pretty much
present every time we spoke.”
“Was it…do you think it’s because…?” Sirius tailed off, not wanting to utter the
words “because of what I did”.
Remus finished the sentence differently.
“Because I’m a werewolf and a danger to the
students? Because you were at large and
I might have been helping you? I expect
that’s what Snape told Dumbledore. He
might even have said that to himself.
Really though, it came down to the fact that I was a Marauder. I think he hates all of us with an equal
passion. I hoped he would be able to put
our history behind him.” He
grimaced. “Some hope.”
He inspected his handiwork and decided that he had
finished. He bound up Sirius’s hand,
looked at his friend who was still brooding and continued:
“Snape was…“ he searched for the word and then gave
up “..Snape. He still is and I doubt he will ever change.”
He hesitated for a moment then decided to play his
hunch: “Don’t think I don’t know what he says to you when he visits here,
Sirius’s expression confirmed his suspicions. Remus went on:
“He won’t say anything overt in front of Arthur or
Tonks or anyone else in the Order but I’ve been around both of you long enough
to know when the pair of you have been fighting.”
“I can handle Snivellus,” said Sirius shortly.
“Don’t let him get to you, “ Remus warned. “You‘ll be playing right into his hands.”
He stood up, carefully knotted the handkerchief with
the splinters and threw it on the fire.
As the pair of them watched it burn, Sirius said:
“Harry’s got to learn Occlumency.
Otherwise he‘ll leave himself wide open to attack.”
“If he can’t get Snape to start the lessons again, I’ll tackle
Snivellus. There’s a chance he may
listen. And if he doesn’t I’ll go to
Dumbledore. Let Harry try first
though. If Snape has an ounce of
objectivity he‘ll see that rather than gloating, Harry is horrified by what
There was a snort from Sirius which indicated to Remus
that he did not credit Snape with having even that much detachment but he said
Remus started to smile and Sirius looked at him
“James and that Snitch,” he said by way of
Sirius gave a bark of laughter. “Remember McGonagall’s face when he let it
out in her Transfiguration class?“
“He tried to tell her that he’d transfigured your
“-but I couldn’t hide the quill in time -”
“-and McGonagall said-”
“-‘Mr Potter, I may be many things but I am neither
gullible nor am I a Seeker.’”
“Remember the Ink Blackjack chews?”
“I had green teeth for a week,” Sirius smiled. “Remember when we charmed Flitwick’s chair?”
“And when we levitated the bag of Dungbombs in front
Sirius suddenly sat up straight in his chair, eyes
“That’s what we need to do, Moony!”
Remus was lost.
“Show Harry! We
can borrow the Pensieve from Dumbledore and we can think of some of the best
times we had at Hogwarts with James -”
“-and about Lily-” Remus nodded eagerly.
“-and then he’ll know what his Dad and Mum were really
like,” Sirius finished triumphantly.
“That’s an excellent idea! Why
haven‘t we had it before?”
“At the end of term,” Sirius decided. “Don’t want to get in the way of his O.W.L.s.”
And they spent the next several hours arguing fiercely
over which memories to choose.