Hermione tried to stifle a yawn as she walked as quickly as her tired
legs would allow to Gryffindor Tower. The prefects were expected to
volunteer for a patrol shift several times a week, more to reassure the
younger students than because the castle was in any danger that might
be prevented by a fifth-year student. Hermione was naturally willing to
take on this responsibility, but today she just wanted to seek out the
room she shared with Parvati and Lavender and go to sleep.
tired as she was, she could not ignore the snickering of a group of
third-year girls that passed her by near the Great Hall.
"What are you doing out of your common room?" she asked with as much authority as she could muster.
just come from eating. We stayed late. We weren't aware that that was
against school policy," one answered for the others. The others busied
themselves with glaring at Hermione. They were, of course, members of
"Of course it's not against school
policy. But you should hurry back to your common room. It *is* against
school policy to wander around at night."
"And what will you do if we don't hurry fast enough?"
will write you up, as is my duty as a prefect." She drew herself up. "I
would be careful if I were you. I don't think that Slytherin can afford
to lose any more points." The third-years scowled. Slytherin had been
forced into last place early in the first term when a trip to tour the
Ministry of Magic offices had become a magical battle. Death Eaters had
attacked the town, and many students had been given special
commendations for their actions. Hundreds of points were awarded to
Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw; but as no Slytherin students had
been put in danger, no Slytherin students had had the opportunity to
earn points. As the year had droned on, Slytherin had managed to pass
Hufflepuff and draw even with Ravenclaw. Gryffindor, though, still had
a definite lead.
"We'll hurry," said another of the
girls in a calculating manner that disturbed Hermione slightly. "You're
right. This is a dangerous time. Would you walk us back to our common
room? You are a prefect. Surely no one would attack you."
had no choice but to agree, and she set off with the group of
Slytherins. She was more tired than annoyed or frightened; surely they
could do her no physical damage, and it might be interesting to see the
entrance to the Slytherin common room. Harry and Ron had been inside,
but she had not.
"So," the girl who had invited Hermione began conversationally. "Which one is it?"
one is what?" asked Hermione, still casting her eyes about in case some
danger actually did lurk around a dark corner.
"Harry Potter or Ron Weasley. It has to be one or the other."
"What about one or the other?"
"No girl has two male best friends and doesn't eventually . . . ." she trailed off.
"Doesn't eventually what?"
heard," the girl said in silky tones reminiscent of Professor Snape,
"That this afternoon you were off in an abandoned classroom with them.
Who were you trying to get alone?"
The girl who had first spoken cottoned on, but was much less subtle than her friend. "Which one's shagging you?"
considered attempting to secure a detention for the girl for the use of
foul language in the halls, but she was fully aware that, prefect
though she was, her word would not be taken over the words of six other
students. More significantly, Professor Snape was their Head of House,
and he would never agree to punish them for making obnoxious comments
about Ron, Harry, and her. Professor Snape enjoyed insulting them
"Both." said Hermione in a voice that did not sound like her own. "Both, at once."
jaw of the girl to whom Hermione addressed herself dropped. The other
girls looked at each other with wide eyes, and then turned to stare at
Hermione as if checking for signs that she was lying. Hermione kept her
face blank. No one ever expected her to lie; she understood this fact
very deeply, and was desperate not to give herself up.
on," she said to her pack of charges. "It's time for you to get back to
your common room." They said nothing until they, in a rush all of a
sudden, told Hermione that their common room was close by and they had
no further need of her services. Hermione bade them good night, and
managed to retrace her steps to the place at which they had met before
collapsing in a heap of hysterical, undignified giggles.
gloating subsided all too quickly, however, and were replaced by a less
pleasant emotion: panic. Harry and Ron would likely be furious when the
story began to make its way through Hogwarts' overactive rumor mill.
How could she have managed to forget about them when she had tried to
shock the Slytherins? Her earlier exhaustion was forgotten as she
hastened toward Gryffindor Tower.
"Buckbeak," she panted breathlessly to the Fat Lady.
"No need to hurry," the Fat Lady said as she granted Hermione entrance.
Thank you," Hermione called over her shoulder as she headed for her
room. She needed to come up with some sort of plan.
Unfortunately, Ron spotted her as soon as she entered the room.
Steeling herself to remain calm, she crossed the room and stood before
Ron glanced around to
assure himself that no one was paying any attention to them. "Harry and
I were playing chess when someone came in and said Lupin wanted to see
"Is something wrong?" asked Hermione, suddenly concerned with something more worrisome than the rumor mill.
"I don't know. It's been over an hour, though."
nodded crisply. "If we're going to wait for him, I'm at least going to
get some work done. I'll be back in a minute."
her way up the girls' staircase to the door marked "fifth years." From
her side of the door, she could see that the candles within the room
were lit and that she had no need to worry about awakening Parvati and
Lavender. It was odd that she could hear no giggling.
"Hi, Hermione," said Parvati as soon as the door swung open.
"Hi. Where's Lavender?"
looked annoyed. "Someone was playing with one of those firecrackers
that squirts sticking potion everywhere. She's having trouble getting
it out of her hair, I imagine."
"Oh. Was there a prefect there?"
"Mm-hm. He took points."
Hermione set about looking for her half-completed Herbology essay. She
was slightly nervous in Parvati's presence. Parvati had been abducted
by Death Eaters at the start of the first term of the year, and had
only returned to school after the winter holiday. She and Hermione had
barely spoken since they had become roommates once more-- not that they
had ever spoken overly much.
"What are you looking for?" wondered Parvati as Hermione tore her section of the room apart.
"My Herbology essay."
"Behind your trunk?"
"What? Oh-- yes, that's it. Thanks."
"You're welcome." Parvati went back to the magazine she had been reading.
"What are you reading?"
Witch Weekly." As long as Hermione was expressing interest, however
mild, Parvati decided to be friendly. She held up the poster that came
with her special edition of the magazine. "Who do you like the best?"
Hermione walked closer. "Who are they?"
Parvati rolled her eyes. "The Waving Wands. A music group."
"Oh, I've heard of them."
"It would be hard not to."
"I don't have a favorite. I don't know anything about them."
"Hermione, we're not trying to be deep thinkers here."
"Er-- that one." Hermione pointed almost at random.
choice. That's Gregory." She cocked her head, looking at the poster
more closely. "You know who looks like him-- just a little bit?"
"He-- no, he doesn't! It's just the eyes. That's an unusual color."
"Definitely. I spend most of my waking hours with Harry. I know what he looks like."
"Maybe because you spend so much time with him, you don't know what he looks like. Puberty's being good to him."
growing into himself. He was average looking, if that, when he was
eleven. Now he's getting taller, and getting actual muscle tone, and
his eyes stand out more since he ditched the glasses with the thick
"That's true," Hermione was forced to admit.
it's not just that. He's friendlier now. He doesn't keep to himself
quite as much. He used to be so aloof, but now I think maybe he's just
shy. The Boy Who Lived is actually shy! Can you believe it? I guess you
can, you didn't grow up in a wizarding family, hearing about the Boy
Who Lived every day. Every time someone did something wrong, a parent
or a teacher would say 'Do you think Harry Potter would do that?' So
naturally most people assumed he was stuck on himself when he came here
and barely talked to anyone other than Ron and then you. But now he's
nice. And nice-looking."
"Keep your claws out of Harry!"
was difficult for Hermione to tell whether she or Parvati was more
shocked by her words. She had not meant to snap at Parvati, but Parvati
was not even close to being good enough for her friend. Unfortunately,
Parvati was widely thought to be the most beautiful girl in their year,
and if she started to put an effort into attracting Harry, well, Harry
had been known to fall for girls based only on their looks in the past.
*Harry can take care of himself, at least when it comes
to this* Hermione thought in retrospect. *You're just upset about the
Magnes spell and those little Slytherins. Say you're sorry. Say you're
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that. I don't know where it came from."
Parvati shrugged. "It's all right. But I always thought Ron was the one you were after."
"You have two best friends who are boys. Odds are you'd fall for one of them."
"But the way you and Ron are always fighting-- do you two really not get along, then? Does he really not like you?"
likes me!" Hermione defended more to save Ron's honor than her
reputation as having friends. "He'd face down a mountain troll for me!"
Parvati raised an eyebrow. "He'd face down a mountain troll for fun," she replied dryly.
Hermione found herself laughing, not the hysterical laughter of that
evening, but real laughter. "You're probably right," she admitted.
"I honestly didn't
mean to say what I said about Harry. Today has just been a very long
day, and he was just called out of the common room and we don't know
Parvati at last set her magazine aside. "Who called him out of the common room?"
"Oh." Her face relaxed. "It's not bad, then. If it was bad, it would have been McGonagall."
"I hope so."
"So do I."
Hermione studied Parvati with renewed interest, and considered that perhaps Parvati was speaking the truth.
"You don't have to look so shocked," Parvati added.
"I didn't mean--"
you did. You think that all I care about is makeup and clothes and
boys. And I do care about makeup and clothes and boys. But when I was
at home during first term, I thought a lot about, well, everyone who's
had to fight the Death Eaters, but especially Harry. He keeps coming
face-to-face with You-Know-Who, and he keeps coming out alive. I don't
mean that in a romantic way. I've been attacked by Death Eaters, and it
isn't romantic. Not at all. It shows depth of character to come out of
it and keep going, maybe. Mostly I just think that Harry's a nice
person who goes to class with the rest of us but who happens to be the
object of a megalomaniac's obsession. That's not fair. I don't want him
to get hurt any more. All right?"
Hermione was stunned. "All right."
understand that you're trying to protect your friend. I do that, too. I
can't think of a dramatic example, but remember when Lavender's rabbit
died and I yelled at you because all you wanted to do was interrogate
her and convince everyone that Divination is stupid?"
"You see? Good. Can I go back to being a ditz now?"
"I never thought you were a ditz, exactly. You got into Gryffindor somehow."
"I'm a brave ditz. Sometimes I wear lipstick that Teen Witch Weekly says isn't my color."
a fraction of a second, Hermione was unsure as to whether Parvati was
joking, but quickly decided that she was, and laughed.
laugh because you don't ever bother with it and you don't understand."
She looked melodramatically at a clock that hung in the room. "Think of
how many rumors could have started up in the time since I've checked. I
really should get down to the common room."
"I can actually help you out there."
"I thought you were above gossip."
"The gossip is about me, or it will be starting tomorrow. It probably hasn't made it out of Slytherin yet."
Parvati leaned forward eagerly. "What were you doing in Slytherin?"
mentally shrugged and decided that revealing her most recent adventure
to Parvati could cause little trouble. When she had finished her
narrative, Parvati nodded at her solemnly. "You were wise to come to me
with this problem, Hermione."
"I can help."
may be above gossip, but I am not. I can do damage control. Are you
going to say that you never said anything to the Slytherins?"
the right thing to do. If I say that I'm sure that's how it happened,
that will carry some weight. People believe I know. I'll make sure
Padma tells Ravenclaw right away, too."
The conversation broke off as Lavender entered the room, her hair dripping wet and an annoyed expression on her face.
"Did the sticking potion come out?" asked Parvati.
"Finally," Lavender sighed. "Oh, Hermione, Harry says that he's back and he'll talk to you tomorrow."
you." Hermione supposed she wouldn't be finishing her Herbology essay
after all. Instead, she went about getting ready for bed, wondering all
the while just what Harry would tell her the next morning.
For his part, Harry was still digesting that evening's events.
had dashed off in the direction of Remus' office as soon as the first
year had given him the message. Remus had been his parents' friend, and
was as much his own friend as a professor and auxiliary godfather could
be, but he had never summoned Harry to his office from the common room
before. Horrible thoughts chased each other through Harry's mind as he
navigated corridors and tried to look as if he had permission to be out
of the common room-- which he did. Nonetheless, he did not want to
explain that he did.
The door stood partially open, and
Harry knocked against it with one hand while pushing it open with the
other. "Professor Lupin?" he asked, deciding that he should be formal
in case other professors were present, or in case Remus only wanted to
talk about something innocuous like Harry's homework or the next
Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson.
"Harry? Come in, please."
"Is something wrong?" he asked. He could not see Remus, who was apparently around a corner.
"No. Shut the door and come further inside."
obeyed, and turned the corner. "Wh-- SIRIUS!" Surely enough, Harry's
godfather was standing next to Remus and grinning. Sirius checked in at
Hogwarts occasionally and owled Harry as often as he could, but most of
his time was spent running errands, the exact nature of which Harry
could not always discern, for Professor Dumbledore.
Harry repeated before flinging himself into Sirius' arms for a hug. He
was, by some standards, a bit too old to greet his godfather this way,
but to his mind he was only making up for lost time. He had never been
hugged at all until after turning eleven. Sirius embraced him
"Is everything going all right?"
Harry grinned. "By my standards, things are positively normal."
"And by anyone else's standards?"
talked to a snake this evening, Ron's brother was smuggled out of the
castle this morning, and we experimented with Loyalty Oaths this
afternoon even though Remus told us we shouldn't," said Harry brightly,
wondering if any of this would shock Sirius in the least.
Sirius, being Sirius, was not even slightly fazed. Harry was not even
aware that over an hour had passed before the discussion of his day
"Harry, I hate to tell you this, but you
do have to go back to Gryffindor Tower eventually," Remus said once the
conversation had reached a lull. Harry made a face. He suspected that
Ron and Hermione were waiting up for him, and he knew that Remus had
bent school rules to allow him this much time with Sirius, but he
always dreaded the end of visits with his godfather.
"Will you still be here in the morning?" he asked Sirius, although he already knew the answer full well.
Sirius shook his had sadly. "I'm sorry. I wish I could stay longer."
"I know. So do I."
"But I will be back quickly this time. Inside a week unless something goes wrong."
"Promise?" asked Harry, still caught up in the day's theme of oaths.
Sirius' eyes flashed with mirth. "I also promise not to go into a
trance while talking to a snake, not to pretend to become a Death Eater
for information-gathering purposes, not to experiment with spells that
are beyond my capability, and not to call you by stupid nicknames." He
waved his wand in a meaningless circle above Harry's head.
"Not call me by stupid nicknames?"
spent the past few weeks working some details out with a contact of
Dumbledore's in Ireland, a woman named Davina. She insisted on
referring to her daughter, who's about my age, as Honeysugarsnapchild.
The daughter wasn't around, but I imagine she'd be around more if she
didn't have to answer to that."
"So you're promising not to call me Honeysugarsnapchild."
more the tone of voice it's said in than the words themselves. But yes,
I'm promising not only not to call you Honeysugarsnapchild but not to
call you anything with any of those words in it, or any allegedly cute
variation on your name, or HJ, or Harry-J, or Little Prongs, or Prongs
Junior, or . . . Pronglet." Just as Sirius began to search very hard
for affectionate names by which he refused to call his godson, Harry
began to laugh. Sirius smiled, too, relieved that Harry was not too
greatly upset that this visit was to be so short.
"I might answer to Pronglet," Harry snickered at last.
"I'll keep that it mind."
Harry made a face. "Goodnight. Night, Remus."
"Goodnight, Harry." Harry had left for his common room.
Sirius and Remus watched him go.
"Are you leaving right now?" Remus asked when Harry was out of sight.
"Trying to get rid of me?"
Remus rolled his eyes in reply.
Sirius gave in and answered the question. "Yes, I'm going back right now." He made no move to leave.
"Right now in the cosmic sense?"
"I don't want to go back by myself."
Remus' light mood had been forced in any case, and now he completely gave way to his concerns. "Do you expect trouble?"
"No. I told Harry the truth. Less than a week, and I don't expect to try to forcibly convince anyone of anything."
"I would hope not."
"That's not the best way to go about things when you want to set up a Ministry warehouse and hideout, no."
"Hopefully, we'll never have to use them."
"Do you think there's a realistic chance of that?"
"There's always a chance," answered Remus, but he did not look as of he entirely believed himself.
agreed with his friend's non-verbal assessment of the situation. "Back
to the subject, I don't think there will be trouble, but it would be
useful to have more magical power than mine at my disposal. Besides,
it's likely to get very boring while I'm waiting around for the
official word. And you know how I get when I get bored." He offered up
a winning smile.
"Cynthia isn't coming back until tomorrow. Dumbledore won't mind if I go after you when she gets back."
"When is she coming back?" asked Sirius, sounding for all his life like a whiny three-year-old.
"Your guess is as good as mine."
"I doubt it."
"I'll certainly be able to join you tomorrow evening. Probably tomorrow afternoon."
"You'll meet me at the proposed site?"
"If you tell me where it is."
Sirius muttered the name of the location under his breath.
"Really. And that's very classified information."
"So I shouldn't announce it to the Great Hall at breakfast tomorrow morning?"
"Probably not, no."
"Nor should I tell the Daily Prophet."
"Speaking of which."
Sirius raised his eyes warily. "What?"
"Did you see yesterday's edition?"
"The leader was entitled 'It's probably sick.' Sound familiar?"
"'I love Harry so much it's probably sick?'"
course they did. It's loads of fun to delve into the fragile psyche of
the man who was mentally and emotionally tortured for most of his adult
Sirius sighed. "Are they accusing me of being an unfit parent for Harry again?"
"They never completely stopped. Everyone's just fascinated by him. They have to find something to say."
"Is there a way to stop this?"
"There's a way to slow it down."
gave his friend a smack on the back of his head. "Don't talk to the
Daily Prophet! Not even if it's just supposed to be about the war."
"Someone has to talk to them. They like me. I'm handsome and young and charismatic and--"
"And tragically heroic. I'd be worth reading about even if it weren't for my connection to Harry."
may read about you, but you're as easy to discredit as anyone else.
Easier than some. All they have to do is what they did-- claim that the
dementors got to your brain after all."
"They're right, too."
"It really is sick."
"Your loving Harry?"
just love him so much. It's . . . it's overwhelming. All-consuming.
Obsessive. Sick. He's the first thing I think about in the morning and
the last thing I think about at night. I think about him every day.
Sometimes all day, every day."
"Sounds parental to me. Not sick."
me, it's sick. It's not just protecting him and loving him because
James and Lily can't and I promised. It's, he's just the most amazing
"I had the worst thought the other day."
"And you told the Daily Prophet?"
"No! But I'm telling you."
"Maybe I'm not telling you."
was so nice being here with him for Christmas. And I started looking
forward to next Christmas. And to the next time I'd see him."
"I haven't seen the evil yet."
"I'm getting there. James and Lily only got one Christmas with him."
"And you're getting more."
"It's not that I'm getting more. It's that I want more. I wanted him to be my son so much."
"So, given the choice, you'd want James and Lily to be dead?"
Sirius snarled, although he knew perfectly well that Remus was making a
point and not suggesting that Sirius was actually glad that James and
Lily had suffered and died at the hands of Lord Voldemort.
alive, Sirius. They're dead. You can spend Christmas and whatever else
with Harry. They can't. These are facts. These are not choices made by
you or anyone else."
"This is like looking at the murder of my best friend and his wife and finding a bright spot. It's revolting."
"It's going on with your life."
you think Harry would take it well if I said to him 'It's too bad that
you're an orphan, but this way you get to live with your godfather.'"
"He'd take it better than you would."
"You don't have any evidence for that."
"How about the hug he gave you when he came in here tonight?"
doesn't remember James," Remus continued. "The closest he's ever been
to James is hearing his voice when he gets too close to a dementor."
"I know that! I've given him the 'you don't remember
James so you have no way of knowing if you aren't living up to him,
which by the way you are,' speech before."
had this discussion before. You want to feel guilty about things
there's no reason to feel guilty about without having him feel guilty
about them. It doesn't make sense, Padfoot."
"He doesn't deserve--"
"You can't be his godfather without his being your godson."
"I'm not trying to."
a way, you are. Harry knows you. He deserves you. He loves you. He sees
you as a parent. He doesn't know James. James is dead."
"Would you stop saying that James is dead? I saw his body and everything. I accept that James is dead!"
"I don't think you do."
"Padfoot. Just go visit his grave."
"That's not going to do anything."
"You're flying at least part of the way to Ireland, aren't you?"
"There's no reason you can't stop by and see it. You never have."
"I don't want to."
"Not just to make sure that it's being kept up? That it's worthy of them?"
"I'm sure you'd know if it wasn't. So would the Daily Prophet, for that matter."
"The Daily Prophet looks after heroes and martyrs. We look after our friends."
"Why are you so set on me going?"
"I'm not set on it. It's been known to help, so I'm suggesting it."
"Help people who miss the dead feel better."
"I feel fine."
"Good. I'll see you sometime tomorrow."
"Are you sure you don't want to stay here tonight?"
shook his head. "I'm going now." They could not have stretched their
parting any longer even if they had wanted to do so. Sirius left the
room and then the castle, collecting his broom as he went. The
enchanted motorcycle, regretfully, was too conspicuous for his
important if fairly boring work.
Spending time with
Remus generally did not leave him feeling worse than he had felt
before, but such was not the case today. "Damn you, Moony," he growled
under his breath, trying to rid his mind of thoughts of Harry, Lily,
and James. The night air was clear and cool, and was beginning to smell
like spring. Sirius leaned forward over his broom, urging it on to
ever-greater speeds. As a broom sped up, the amount of control the
rider had over direction and maneuverability lessened. Thus, Sirius was
forced to concentrate exclusively on the mechanics of his flight.
Sirius thought about correcting for the wind, and navigation, and
potential hazards such as birds or Muggles flight devices, and trees,
and not James . . . not James.
A tree appeared out of
nowhere, and Sirius was forced to jerk up suddenly on the handle of his
broom. The broom briefly spun out of control, and Sirius lost most of
his speed and some of his altitude. *Stupid, stupid . . . had to say
that, did you, Moony?*
When Sirius had regained his
balance, he searched the sky for the star with which he shared his name
and adjusted his course. He had been taught at Hogwarts that he should
learn to steer by Polaris, the North Star, but he had decided right
away that it would be much more fun to take the time of year and the
time of day into account and learn to steer by his own star.
than he would have liked, Sirius found himself circling above a church
he had not seen for over fifteen years. *I will strive for justice and
peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.*
He did not remember everything he had said at Harry's baptism, but
certain statements reverberated in his head. Harry had certainly upheld
the words that Sirius had spoken on his behalf.
had told him, in an earlier conversation, that James and Lily were
buried in the cemetery that stood by this church. Quietly, discretely,
he landed behind the edifice and uneasily sought the headstone labeled
with the name of his best friend.
A shiver passed
through him as he walked between the graves. So many people had passed
along this very path, crying, heartbroken, numb, horrified, terrified,
anxious, despairing, despondent. Sirius could not tell if he felt all
of these or none of them.
The Potters' grave was not
difficult to locate. While it did not tower over the other monuments,
it was covered with fresh flowers, and the grass that surrounded it was
worn down. A tourist attraction dedicated to the heroes and martyrs. He
was, as Remus had said, more concerned with the people.
the familiar names and the birth and death dates too few years apart
were the words "beloved parents and friends." No heart-wrenching quote
or witty phrase. Just a simple epitaph, as if the grave wished to blend
in with its surroundings.
James and Lily had never
blended in. They had stood out as exceptional. They had been the
cleverest, the smartest, the most compassionate, the best leaders, the
best students, the best friends, the best parents. They had been brave.
They had been beautiful, especially in one another's presence.
shivered again. Cold as Azkaban. He had been here, many times, while
imprisoned in Azkaban, although he had never seen the grave quite like
this, aged and cared-for. He had seen accusing eyes and open caskets
lowered into the earth.
He knelt before the headstone. *I'm on top of the actual graves, aren't I? What are they now? Dust? Skeletons?*
"I'm sorry," he whispered. The headstone seemed unmoved.
wish it had been me. I wish I could trade places with you. I'd die now
if it would give you one minute more with Harry."
out loud really makes me look mad, doesn't it? So I won't speak out
loud anymore. It's not as if you can hear me, no matter what I'm doing.
I might as well do the thing that doesn't give the Daily Prophet
another leader. It's not that I care for my own sake. It's not that I
think I'm good enough for Harry, but I'm better than the alternative. I
know you thought that, too. That's why I was supposed to have custody,
wasn't it? But I made things worse. After I convinced you to switch
Secret-Keepers and got you killed, I went after Wormtail and got the
lock-him-up-and-throw-away-the-key treatment. I deserved it, but not
for the reasons they thought.
*I know you can't forgive me. Or perhaps you can. It's easy for the ones who are dead.
*I can't forgive myself. Every so often Remus almost convinces me that I should. That's why I'm here and not in Ireland.
isn't working. I could think awful thoughts about myself anywhere in
the world. There's no reason I should do it kneeling in the dirt that
they threw on top of you fourteen years and four months ago.
*I miss you.
*Moony isn't as smart as he thinks he is.
*But I shouldn't talk, now, should I?*
was pointless," Sirius muttered at he left the cemetery and journeyed
the rest of the way to Ireland without incident. When Remus joined him
the next afternoon, Sirius could not decide whether to yell at his
friend or fall down in front of him and beg him "make me feel better!"
He settled for doing neither.
"Cynthia came back?"
"Yes. I don't have to teach again until . . . I'm not sure."
"And teaching is such a chore for you."
when I compare it to spending time with--" Remus ended his gratuitous
insult in mid-syllable. "Did you sleep last night?"
"For a few hours this morning." They looked at each other. "I went to see the grave."
"Was everything all right?"
"Seemed all right to me."
truth, it seemed anything but 'all right,' but Sirius had little
control over that. He did however, have control over the plans to
protect what they hoped would be a Ministry stronghold, and he began to
explain the situation to Remus.