Sirius felt that he had never been colder or wetter in his whole life. This included both times James had knocked him off his broom into the lake at Hogwarts (deliberately), and the time he had managed to capsize a boat in the North Sea of the shores of Scotland. In January. This is beyond awful. And having to stay out here, for hours and hours at a time. This better pay off. I am not as young as I used to be, and I donít think I can take much more of this. It was early March, and the harsh winter had refused to go away. It was bitterly cold, and snow was still on the ground in this part of the country.
Sirius and Remus were carefully watching the house of a wizard suspected of leading one of Voldemortís cartels in this area. They had it on good authority that in a few days time, there would be a meeting at this house, so they were waiting to see who was going to turn up. Good enough authority to warrant our being out here, at least. Remus had made them come early, to find the best place to be, and to see who started arriving when. He had agreed to have Sirius join him this time. The full moon was going to rise the day before the meeting, so Remus wanted Sirius there to help him keep an eye on things, particularly when he was transformed. Despite how angry Remus had been with Sirius when he had faced the wolf in his human form, they at least had learned a valuable bit of information from the incident. As long as he had the potion, Remus wasnít dangerous, so Sirius could be with him and stay in his human form, which was much better for keeping an eye on the house and remembering whoever showed up.
But heís still jumpy about it. Heís only just started letting Katie be with him after heís transformed. That was a difficult transition for both of them, but Iím glad he did it.
Try to think of something warm and happy. Thatíll help. He looked over at Remus. Remus looked utterly miserable, and paler than Sirius would have liked. Probably the same expression Iíve got. Oh letís do try any think about something other than how cold, wet, and old weíre getting
"So, Moony, if you could be sitting anywhere else in the universe right now, where would it be?"
Remus sighed. "Sitting on the couch in my study, in front of a roaring fire, drinking an obscenely large glass of butterbeer, with Katie curled up in my arms."
"Thatís it? Thatís the best you can do?"
Remus gave a sly smile. "You asked where I wanted to be sitting, Padfoot; not speculate on where your lurid imagination would have you at."
"Ouch, Moony, touché."
"Trying to get me to think happy, warm thoughts, are you?"
I know my happy thought, Mr. Lupin. "Like the pitter-patter of little feet?"
Remus smiled, but didnít take his gaze off the road. "Maybe. Eventually"
"What do you mean Ďeventuallyí, I thought you two decided that this was a good thing?"
"We did. And when it happens, it happens. These things do take time, Padfoot."
Do they now? Itís been months now since this was given the go ahead. "Moony do hurry up about it, wonít you? Iím going mad waiting to get my hands on the next generation of Marauders to corrupt."
Remus laughed at that. "Yes, Katie did express some concern over what ideas you might put into a childís head."
"No, she expressed an equal level of concern over my potential behaviour. She informed me that she is more than a match for the both of us, so weíd better watch it." She is at that. But that just raises the stakes, doesnít it?
"Youíre going to be an amazing dad, Moony, dangerous corruptive influences or not. Just like your own father." He saw Remusí smile get a little sad, but he smiled nonetheless.
"Thanks, Sirius. I hope so." He lapsed back into silence, and Sirius could tell by the look on his face he was lost in his own thoughts. Best leave it. Hopefully it is a warm happy thought. What should I think about then? He looked back briefly at Remus, and smiled when he saw the far off look on his friendís face. Same look he had on his wedding day. Now thereís a good happy thoughtÖ.
October 31st turned out to be a really beautiful, if not slightly cold, day for a wedding. Remus had been in the best mood of his life for the past two weeks while they were getting ready for everything. He walked around the house with a constant smile on his face, and Sirius heard him humming to himself more than once.
"Itís all turning out perfectly, isnít it?" heíd commented one morning over breakfast.
Sirius had laughed. "Iíd be horrified over this constant good mood if I didnít know you had such a good reason for it. Come to think of it, James was just as annoying, wasnít he?"
Remus just made a face at him and went out to meet Katie, who had just walked in the front gate. I am glad that everything really is turning out well. They deserve it. In fact, during all of this, Remus had only been concerned over one thing, and that had been Harryís opinion of the date of the wedding, and why they had chosen it.
"What if he hates the idea?"
Sirius hadnít been concerned at all. "Heíll love this, I know it. Concentrate more on how youíre going to convince Albus to bring those three down here with him and Minerva." Sirius had smiled to himself at that thought. Remus may be nice and polite most of the time, but when his mind gets set on something, it gets done, without argument. Hope Dumbledore remembers exactly how stubborn the man can be.
Later that morning, Remus had come to see Sirius in his study.
"Sirius? Will you read something for me please?"
"Of course. Another report?"
"No." Remus looked at the parchment he held and rolled it lightly in his hands. "No, Iíve written a letter to Harry. I was wondering if you would give it a go over before I sent it to him."
Sirius looked puzzled. "Iíve never read your letters to Harry before. Why now?"
"Iíve written to Harry explaining why we chose Halloween to get married." Remus looked at Sirius. Oh, I see. Getting Harryís permission, I guess. Very Remus. But, as always, he has a point. Maybe Harry does have something to say about it.
"Iíll read it if you like, but Iím sure itís fine. And Iím sure that Harry will be equally as pleased as I was. I do think this will be the best thing for all of us."
Remus smiled, but held the letter out to Sirius. "Please, itís important that it is alright with Harry. I want him to be here, but I want to know that this is okay with him. They were our friends, but they were his parents."
Sirius took the parchment and opened it.
Thank you for your congratulations, from both myself and from Katie. I am very happy, if still a little surprised, by the turn of events. Wait till you find yourself in a similar situation, and then weíll talk.
Katie and I are busy setting a date for the wedding. We very much want you, Ron and Hermione to be there, and I will be speaking with Dumbledore about it. Sirius will be begging Dumbledore about it, I suspect. In any case, no matter what Dumbledore chooses, I wanted to speak to you about the actual day of the wedding.
I was thinking that it would be wonderful to be married on Halloween. For so long, Harry, that day has held so many tragic memories for me, as well as for Sirius, and, I am sure, yourself. It had occurred to me that getting married on that day would finally give us all something good to remember. I want to remember only the wonderful things about your mum and dad, and their own wedding was one of the happiest days of my life. You know that I would give almost anything to have them here now, sharing this with me just as I shared that day with them. And, in you, they are. I see you as their voice in this matter, Harry. Sirius is very pleased with the idea himself, but I want to know how you feel about it.
If you think that this is inappropriate, or you find it upsetting in any way, we will find another day. Please, donít think that you need to agree to this to be polite. This is too important, really, for such things. I hope to hear from you soon, and to see you on the wedding day, whenever that is.
Sirius felt like crying, for some reason. But he held himself in check, handed the letter back to Remus, and just said, "Thatís perfect."
The next day, Hedwig arrived with a very short note.
This is brilliant. I couldnít be happier, and we will be there. Dumbledore just said. See you then!
Give my love to Katie and Sirius, too-
Dumbledore, after specifying exactly what wards must be set up, similar to the ones they had set in the summer, was only too pleased to bring Harry, Ron and Hermione with him. Sirius felt that Dumbledore really understood how important it was to Remus to have them there. And he and Remus spent the next several days diligently, and happily, making sure they had up every one of the complex and difficult wards were put up, in addition to the ones Remus had already set. For Katie.
Happy as Sirius was to have the younger generation joining them, he was fascinated most of all to meet Katieís parents. I gather there was a bit of fuss over this, but even when one immovable force meets another, somethingís going to happen. Katie had invited them, reluctantly Sirius could gather, and they were due to arrive the day before the ceremony. This brought the problem of how they were going to introduce Sirius to them.
"We canít very well explain to them everything that happened, like we did with Mrs. Noyes," Katie was saying to Remus. "She knew Sirius before, and she trusts you implicitly. In fact, she seemed delighted to have Sirius back, as it were."
Remus had grinned at that. "Well, he was one of her best customers, once. Kept falling off brooms and out of trees and breaking various bits of himself, you know."
Sirius gave him a wicked smile, then turned to Katie.
"No chance of them recognising me is there? I mean truly realising, wellÖ."
Katie shook her head. "I doubt theyíll recognise me." Remus had given her a very stern look at that comment, so she retreated. "Really, Sirius. The only thing they might possibly recognise, in any way shape or form, is the name. So thatís got to be dealt with."
Remus said, with a totally blank expression, "We could just introduce him as Snuffles, you know, and leave it at that." Yes, thank you, Moony. Just brilliant. That wonít raise any eyebrows, will it?
Katie rolled her eyes and left the room saying, "Once again, Iíll just leave it to you two and carefully not say a word."
Katie and Remus had gone to collect her parents from the muggle train station. Sirius busied himself with making certain that lunch was ready when they got there. Eventually, he heard the car pull up. Thank goodness Katie drives. Remus never did get the hang of that, no matter how clever the man is. He left the kitchen, and went outside to help them.
Katieís parents seemed nice enough. Mrs. Davies was glowing, as any mother of the bride should be, and her father greeted him with a very big smile.
"Ah, Edmund, good. Let me introduce you to my parents. Mum, dad, this is Edmund Black, Remusí best friend and our best man." Sirius had chosen Mr. Lupinís first name, in honor of the day, and had seen no reason to change his own last name, which was reasonably innocuous.
Sirius stepped forward and shook their hands.
"Very pleased to meet you. Katieís marring one of the best, you know."
Mr. Davies had laughed, and shook Siriusí hand warmly. "I donít doubt it for a minute. Couldnít imagine her choosing anything else. Yes, very nice to meet you, Mr. Black."
"Please, call me Edmund."
"Edmund then." Seems very nice. Why was Katie unhappy with inviting them? She looks like him, actually.
The Davies proved to be very nice and polite indeed. They should take to Remus like a fish to water. Same calm, controlled manner. Interesting. They did seem to like Remus very much, and it was evident that they were very happy for Katie. Katie still seemed strained at bit though, but Sirius decided that this was just nerves. But she looked positively ill later in the afternoon, when Mr. Davies and Remus went into Remusí study to talk. Her mother had gone to lie down and rest from the long day, and Katie was with Sirius helping to get food ready for the next day.
Sirius looked at her, shelling peas with an unusual ferocity.
"Katie girl," he said softly, using his own term of endearment for her, "What is it? Nerves getting to you? Tomorrowís a big day. But a great one, yes?"
She said nothing at first, and then replied equally softly, "Yes. A very great day."
"Then why are you upset?"
Katie said nothing, and continued to attack the peapods.
I know. My relationship with my own parents was a bit disastrous.
"They seem to be very happy for you. And they obviously like Remus."
She just nodded. Sirius sighed, and decided not to push it. Making Katie angry the night before her wedding was a guarantee that he would infuriate Remus, and that was no way to start tomorrow. Finally, though, he heard her say very quietly, ĎGlad theyíre finally showing interest in something I do. Bet they never thought Iíd pull this sort of thing off."
Sirius stopped what he was doing and went over to her. She didnít look at him.
"Katie, my own relationship with my parents was not good. Despite being tied for top of my class, I always felt they thought I was a bit of an idiot. Maybe I acted like one. Actually, I did act like one. Every time an owl was sent to them describing exactly why I was getting detention, yet again, I would picture them sitting at the dining room table with grim faces discussing what an absolute fool I was. And that was a lot of owls. I used to wonder why they couldnít be more like the Lupins, who, although not exactly pleased that Remus caused a few owl flights himself, tended to just laugh it off, and still completely adored him."
Katie finally looked at him.
"Katie, my parents died thinking I was a murderer who betrayed his friends in the worst possible way. Your parents are happy for you, right now, no matter what. Enjoy that."
She burst into tears at that, and threw her arms around Sirius. He hugged her back, but said nothing else. He was pleased to see at dinner that she seemed very happy indeed, and that her parents obviously revelled in her and Remusí unmasked joy.
The next day was gorgeous. Despite the chill, the sky was a perfect blue, and the tress in the forest blazed red and yellow, in strong contrast to the green of the meadow. The flowerbeds were full of winter blooms, and everything looked about as perfect as they could have hoped.
The rest of their guests, though few in number, arrived in great spirits that morning. Sirius could hardly wait to see Harry, and embraced him warmly when he finally appeared. Ron was beaming too, and Hermione looked absolutely radiant. Wonder when they will really notice that? Actually, they probably have. Iíll keep an eye on that.
"Whereís Katie?", she asked happily.
"Upstairs waiting for you." Hermione was standing with Katie. She had first asked Mrs. Noyes, but Mrs. Noyes said that she was far too old, and that the lovelier younger generation should all be up there together. Remus had laughed, and run a hand deliberately through his greying hair, but Mrs. Noyes insisted. Katie didnít argue with her, and was pleased when Hermione seemed eager for the job. Theyíre very alike. I should point that out to Harry and Ron so they get a good idea of what theyíre up against.
Sirius had managed to keep his composure though most of the ceremony, until he handed Remus Katieís ring. At that, he had burst into tears. Jamesí very, very happy tears.
Sirius was brought back to the moment; the bloody cold moment; hearing Remus sigh. He looked over at his friend and recognised Remusí concerned and worried expression.
What is it?"
"What if this is totally the wrong place to be? What if this is nothing? Weíve gone and wasted days, and upset Katie for nothing." Katie was most displeased with them spending all this time chasing people across the country and living in abandoned houses like the one they had found nearby. But she said little about it, knowing it was important. Doesnít stop her worrying, though.
"We know that weíre here on very good advice."
Remus said nothing. Stop sulking. This is bad enough. Letís try to cheer up, shall we?
"I suspect Iím picking up on some senseless worry here; rather like, oh letís say, fretting about O.W.L.S. results?"
Remus did manage a quiet laugh at this.
"O.W.L.S. that turned out to be very good indeed, right?" continued Sirius. "Almost as good as you did, come to think of it."
"You tied with me, as I recall."
"Not exactly. You botched potions, but I botched herbology. So it evened itself out."
"Should have paid more attention in potions, I guess."
Sirius gave a small snort. ĎYou paid attention in everything. You just didnít like potions, so you focused on other things. I, however, paid no attention whatsoever in herbology and got what I deserved."
Remus laughed again.
"And to think, Moony," continued Sirius in a sly tone, "you tried to leave me in charge of the gardenÖ."
"Yes, alright, weíre over that; Iíve already said my penance for being so stupid."
Sirius looked up at the grey sky. Rain. At least the snow will melt. He turned to Remus. "Look, weíve been here all night. Letís go back for a while, change our robes and try to warm up, and then come back later. I doubt anyone will try to show up before dark anyway."
Remus gave one last pained look at the house, then nodded and stood up.
They walked back to the abandoned old house nearby where they had left their things. A small bungalow with only a few rooms, it had a reasonably good roof and gave them a place to come and dry out on occasion. They had left their stores there, and came back only when they needed to dry out or get something to eat.
This time, though, as they walked back, Sirius could feel that something was wrong. Remus obviously felt it too. They looked at each other, and without a word drew their wands and stepped forward into the house.
It was destroyed. Everything was on end, what little furniture that remained smashed, and even pieces of the wall had been torn out, like someone was looking for something behind them. Sirius and Remus did not speak as the looked at the damage, but simply turned and left.
"What now?" asked Sirius when they had gone a distance from the house.
"There could be any number of reasons why this happened, you know. It could have been muggles."
"Donít be ridiculous. Why would they do something like that?"
"Sometimes muggle youths do these sort of things. This was an old, abandoned house. They couldnít expect anyone actually used it. The opportunity to just, well, go wild, was too good to pass up."
Sirius looked furious. "Remus, thatís just a very creative excuse to try and pretend this isnít exactly what it looks like. Preftokis must know weíre here. We should alert the others."
Remus shook his head. "Heíd have waited for us if it were him. Or set charms and hexes, donít you think? No, we need to stay right here and find out what we came to. They should all be here in three days time. This is our chance to see exactly whoís involved in all this. Thatís too important to walk away from." He stopped talking, but was still staring back in the direction of the house with a strained look on his face. I know what heís thinkingÖ.
"Okay Remus, maybe youíre right. AndÖ" he hesitated, not sure if he should finish. This is the last thing he needs to think of; but I doubt itís ever really off his mind. "and Iím sure that Katieís okay, if it was just muggles. Even if anything were to happen, sheíd go straight to Hogwarts, you know that, " he finished quietly.
Remus said nothing, but turned and continued walking back through the snow to Preftokisí house.
They sat in the snow for the rest of the day, watching the house and seeing a few people start to arrive. Sirius was getting very wound up, as Remus seemed to have withdrawn and had said very little. What now? Finally, Remus had turned to Sirius and looked him in the eye. Sirius did not like the look at all.
"Itís the full moon tonight, Sirius."
Sirius blinked. So what?
"AndÖ" Remus stopped and looked away. Finally he looked back at Sirius. "And I havenít had my potion. We need to find somewhere to put me. Now." What is he talking about. Katie always gives it to him to bring with him if he needs to.
"I donít understand, Remus. You had it when we startedÖ."
"It was in that house. It was destroyed with everything else. I saw the smashed bottle."
Sirius felt the blood drain from his face. Then he felt himself get very angry. Why didnít he say anything?
"Remus, why didnít you say anything this morning? We could have gone back, we could have contacted Katie!"
"No. We couldnít leave, and we canít send messages, you know that. Itís too much of a risk, especially if they do suspect weíre here." Of course, donít risk someone following an owl back to her, however remote the chanceÖ.
"Thatís the stupidest thing Iíve heard you say since we were 13. Katie is going to have a fit over this one!"
Remus grabbed his arm and starred into his face. Sirius froze and returned his stare. Remus had a tight, wild look Sirius hadnít seen in years. The wolf; itís back, and itís angry.
"I am not going to risk everything just because of this. Itís hardly a life or death matter. Finding out who these people are and what theyíre up to, that is. Iím not going to let them take everything away again. So I have a bad night, so what? That seems a very small price to pay to get what we need."
Sirius couldnít think of anything else to say. Remus was right, of course. But this was going to be horrible for them. The wolf hasnít been free for long time. AndÖRemus is so emotionally strung out right now thatÖokay, now I am frightened.
"RemusÖ." Remus shut him up with an angry wave of his hand. Right. Be calm. Donít infuriate the wolf anymore. Itíll just hurt Remus if you do.
"Weíve got to find someplace nearby you can lock me up, so you can still watch the house. Now."
Without another word he dropped Siriusí arm and walked away. Sirius could feel his heart pounding, and had to take a few seconds to regain his composure before he followed. All he could think as he watched Remusí back ahead of him, seeing the tight set to his shoulders and feeling the anxiety and fear coming from him, was of that morning years ago when he saw what terrible fury the wolf had unleashed. He almost died. The wolf almost killed him that night. But itís different now, isnít it? He knows how much heís got; how much heís loved. Surely it couldnít be as bad as that night. Sirius could feel himself shaking. I am frightened of this wolf. But Iím not going to let it win. It just canít have him.
They found an ancient stone shed on the corner of a large field just over the ridge from the road. A herd of sheep was visible in the distance, and Sirius realised that this must be an old feed keep of the farm. They pried open the door and looked around. The building was small, but strong. The stone walls were thick, the old wood roof and the door solid. It would have to do, in any event, because the moon was getting ready to rise.
Sirius went over and grabbed some dangerous looking piece of farm equipment and threw it outside. Remus gave him a curious but fevered look. Sirius just stared at him pointedly until Remus nodded slowly, and sat down. He looked as bad as Sirius had ever seen him, and the layer of grime on his face only accented how pale his face had become.
Sirius sat down himself. This is going to be a long night.
"Get out, Sirius."
Sirius looked up sharply at Remus. What? Not a chanceÖ.
"Get out now. Itíll be starting soon." Remusí teeth were chattering now, and he had started to shake. Sweat was pouring down his forehead, leaving trails in the grime on his face.
"Iím staying right here with you."
"No, youíre not. Get out."
"Please donít argue with me, Sirius. You need to keep an eye on the house, or all this is for nothing. Besides," he paused for a moment. "The wolfÖthe wolf is furious, I can feel it like I havenít felt it in years. I donít want to hurt you. I donít want you to see me like this." He was shaking even harder now, but stood up to take off his robes, and handed them to Sirius.
"Get out. Try and keep these dry. Iíll need them back."
Sirius numbly took Remusí robes, but didnít move.
"I said donít argue about this. I need to know youíre safe. Itíll help. Donít you see? Itíll help."
With that, Sirius stood and turned to go. But as he was about to walk out the door, Remus suddenly stopped him.
"Wait." He took off his wedding ring, and handed it to Sirius. Remus always removed his ring for his transformations, but usually wore it on a long chain he kept around his neck. Sirius stared at him blankly. "Keep that safe for me, Padfoot. Iíll need that back, too."
Sirius left the shed in a daze. He turned and charmed the door tightly
shut, and set up silencing charms as well. Then, still gripping Remusí
ring tightly in his hand, he sat down in the snow and cried.