Art of Seduction IX
Feminine Wiles

Orithain and Rina

August 2007

Disclaimers: All characters depicted here are the property of J. K. Rowling.

A half-empty bottle of firewhiskey in his hand and a scowl twisting his handsome features, Sirius Black wandered the halls of his familyís ancestral home, shouting curses both at his motherís curtained portrait and the family house elf, Kreacher, whenever they made a sound. Being trapped in 12 Grimmauld Place while the other members of the Order were out risking their lives to stop Voldemort was maddening; not being able to help Harry or even talk to him much of the time was infuriating; and being apart from Remus was enough to drive him insaneóor, as Molly Weasley thought, more insane than he already was.

He snarled out a curse and kicked at the troll foot umbrella stand, sending it spinning into the middle of the hallway, then stomped up the stairs, calming himself somewhat as he opened the door to Buckbeakís room, not wanting to set off the hippogriff who was as trapped here as he was.

Downstairs, the door opened and Remus Lupin stepped inside, features haggard with exhaustion after his days trying to convince werewolf packs to join the cause, and he promptly tripped over the umbrella stand in the middle of the hall, his arms flailing as he tried to stay on his feet. Finally regaining his balance, he glared at the stand as he righted it and set it back into its accustomed place.

Raising his voice, he called, "Sirius? Has Dora been here?"

There was a series of loud bangs and crashes from the upper floors, then Siriusí voice echoed down. "Thereís nobody here but us hippogriffs."

Remus kept his concern from his voice. "Funny, for a hippogriff, you sound remarkably like a Marauder I love."

"ís just your imagination; if I was a Marauder, Iíd be off doing something useful." There was a definite slur in the words.

"Staying safe is useful," Remus said as he climbed the stairs. "Otherwise, I wouldnít be able to accomplish anything."

"And we couldnít have that, could we, Master Lupin?"

"Sirius, I know youíre frustrated, I understand, but I donít think you understand how devastated we would be if anything happened to you," Remus said softly as he appeared in the doorway, his amber eyes softening as he looked at Sirius, who stared at him for a moment, then pounced, spinning Remus around and pressing him up against the wall by the door. He leaned in to nuzzle Remusí neck, one hand holding him in place, the other still clutching the bottle of firewhiskey.

Although startled, Remus didnít fight, simply bracing himself against the wall and letting his head fall to the side to allow Sirius more access to his neck. "Love you," he whispered while arching his back to press his ass into Siriusí groin.

"Why?" Sirius growled, biting at the taut lines of Remusí throat as he rubbed against him.

"Because youíre Sirius," Remus replied simply.

"I am rarely serious." The reply was given with a bark of wild laughter.

"But youíre always my Sirius, even at your wildest." Remus turned his head and reached back to tangle his fingers in the long dark hair, pulling Sirius into an almost desperate kiss.

Without breaking the kiss, Sirius pulled back and turned Remus around, almost instantly pushing him back against the wall once that was accomplished. "Hate it here, Moony," he panted, his lips brushing Remusí. "Canít be with you, canít help Harry..."

"I know, love, and Iím sorry," Remus said. "Iíll try to get back more often. I hate being away from you too, you know," he reminded Sirius. "Weíre all doing what we must."

Siriusí expression twisted bitterly at that, and he pulled away from Remus to take a swig of the bottle he still held in his hand. "Those of us who are doing something."

"Youíre reminding Harryóand meóthat we have a family to fight for."

"Well then, Iíd best give you something to fight for, hadnít I?" Sirius dropped the bottle to the floor, heedless of the alcohol spilling from it, and caught Remusí face between his hands, plundering his mouth.

Once again Remus mourned the cheerful young man heíd loved years before while drawing the man heíd become even closer, giving him everything and hoping that it would be enough. Finally, Sirius pulled back enough to slide a hand between them and cup Remusí erection through his robes.

"Bedroom," he rasped, taking a step backwards.

Remus could only nod, taking a step forward for every one Sirius took back to keep them pressed together. "Want you," he agreed breathlessly.

Siriusí mobile lips twisted into a smirk as he pushed open the door to his old rooms. "So have me then." He stepped away from Remus and began to strip, clothes falling to the floor heedlessly as more pale flesh was bared.

Remus stilled, his hands unheeded on his shirt buttons as he watched Sirius undress. He licked his lips, amber eyes flaring with hunger, and he looked Sirius up and down. "All mine," he whispered throatily as Sirius walked backward to the bed and sprawled out on it, stroking himself.

The sight made Remus groan harshly, and he all but tore his clothes off before pouncing on Sirius, his hands everywhere while he kissed Sirius wildly, the kisses returned with equal ardor as Sirius ran his hands over Remusí back, his nails digging into the firm flesh there.

"So good, missed you," Remus panted, "staying for a while, donít have to leave again for a fortnight." He rocked down against Sirius, gasping as their erections slid together.

"A fortnight?" Some of the wildness left Siriusí voice, and he hugged Remus convulsively, at the same time rubbing their bodies together.

"Yes, I told Dumbledore that if he wanted to waste their time talking to the werewolves before that, he could go himself." Remus bit at Siriusí throat, worrying the sensitive flesh as he marked his mate.

"Now that would be a sight," Sirius laughed breathlessly, the sounds dissolving into a moan as he arched upward beneath Remus.

Remus chuckled briefly. "I have the only sight I want right here."

"I would hope so; imagine, wanting to see Dumbledore naked..."

"Sirius!" Remus smacked the back of his head. "Do you want me to go soft again?"

"Not until after youíve come in me."

"Mm, lovely," Remus purred, reaching over to the nightstand for the lube while continuing to rock lazily against Sirius.

"Me or the thought?"

"Both, of course." Remus slid slick fingers between Siriusí cheeks, lightly stroking him.

"Merlin, Remus, missed you so much," Sirius panted, his blue eyes dark with desire as he watched the other man.

"Just try to remember that Iíll always come back to you," Remus whispered, biting gently at Siriusí Adamís apple while one finger gently circled his opening.

"Youíd best, or thereís no telling what I would do," Sirius rasped, his tone holding not a trace of teasing.

"Weíll never find out because nothing will ever keep us apart again," Remus promised just as his finger breeched Sirius, causing him to moan and relax, pulling Remus down for another kiss.

"Never again."

"Never," Remus repeated against Siriusí lips, his finger pushing deeper and twisting.

"Now, Moony, need you!" Siriusí whole body spasmed as Remus brushed his prostate, and he whimpered.

"Just a little longer," Remus said as he added a second finger, his other hand coating his cock with the slick lubricant.

"Now!" Sirius growled, his hands clenching on Remusí back and ass.

"Yes," Remus agreed, his hands shifting to grasp Siriusí hips, and then he pushed forward, letting out a long, low groan as he penetrated Sirius, who seemed to go wild underneath him, clenching down around his cock as he arched upward, trying to force Remus deeper into him.

"Not going anywhere," Remus reassured him even as he thrust again, plunging in and out of Sirius.

"Hate being apart," Sirius groaned, working a hand between them to stroke his own erection. "Sometimes I wake and think Iím back in Azkaban..."

Remusí arms tightened convulsively. "Never!" he growled. "Youíre with me, and Iím never losing you again." His next thrust was particularly hard and deep, and Sirius gasped, his eyes opening wide before he smiled.

"Never, I swear."

"Good," Remus said with deep satisfaction, driving forward again. "Love you," he whispered.

Those words tipped Sirius over the edge, and he came, staring up into Remusí amber eyes. Remus rode out Siriusí climax, rocking lazily into him throughout to milk every last spasm of pleasure from him, and then he began driving into him hard and fast until he came as well, crying Siriusí name.

"Moony, my Moony," Sirius whispered roughly, burying his face against Remusí hair and holding him close. "Would be lost without you."

"Good thing youíll never be without me then."

"Mmm," Sirius murmured, stroking Remusí back, all the wild energy heíd possessed earlier leached out of him.

"Sleep, Sirius," Remus whispered. "We can wake up together."

Sirius sighed happily at that and closed his eyes, though his arms stayed tightly around Remusí waist. Remus simply settled closer, his head next to Siriusí, and they fell asleep still joined.

"Iím going; donít any of you dare try to stop me," Sirius growled to the other members of the Order who were gathered to go to the Ministry.

"Stop you? Weíre going with you," Remus said, overriding whatever Molly Weasley might have said, and Tonks, Kingsley, and Moody all nodded.

Sirius nodded sharply and headed for the door, gripping his wand tightly, with Remus on his heels and the others not far behind while Molly and Arthur Weasley watched them go, praying theyíd all make it back again, with Harry and the other children.

They apparated into the Ministry, taking off at a run for the Department of Mysteries, the sounds of battle growing louder as they drew nearer.

Each of the Aurors dashed toward one of the children, taking over the battle against the Deatheaters though Remus was somewhat distracted by wanting to keep an eye on Sirius and Harry, who were battling Bellatrix Lestrange.

"Get back, Harry!" Sirius ordered, aiming a curse at his cousin, who was smiling at him, her eyes wild.

Harry backed up out of Siriusí way, but he didnít go far, refusing to abandon his godfather to the woman whoíd tortured and killed Nevilleís parents.

Ducking the killing curse Bellatrix aimed at him, Sirius responded with one of his own, cursing when it missed as well.

Harry ducked out of the way of flying curses, wanting to help but knowing he would only endanger Sirius by dividing his attention just then.

A flash of movement on the stone levels around the Veil caught Siriusí attention, and he saw Tonks fall to a bolt from Lucius Malfoyís wand. He wrenched his gaze back to Bellatrix, watching as her wand came up, his own moving to intercept the spell she was forming. A wild laugh broke through his lips, one that turned into a choked cough when he was hit and knocked backward.

Harry and Remus both screamed, and only the need to hold Harry back prevented Remus from lunging through the Veil after Sirius. Both continued to yell "no" and Siriusí name, tears pouring down their faces, their anguish palpable while nearby, Tonks sucked in a rasping breath and began to cough, completely unnoticed as everyone was either involved in their own battle or watching Remus and Harry.

"Hullo, Remus." Tonks smiled brightly as she sat down across from him at the table in the kitchen at 12 Grimmauld Place, a cold bottle of butterbeer in her hand. "I hadnít realized you would be here today."

Remus glanced up, giving her a half-hearted smile. "Itís as good a place as any." He frowned slightly when he saw the way she was toying with her bottle.

"Much better than St. Mungoís, thatís for certain; I was beginning to wonder if theyíd ever let me out of that place."

"Youíre looking much better now." Remus was relieved that she wasnít sporting her usual pink hair; he thought she looked much better without it.

She beamed at that and ran a finger around the rim of her bottle. "Thank you; now if I can only convince the Ministry Iím well enough to go back to workóI feel like Iím going insane with everyone off being useful and my not being able to help."

Remusí head jerked up, and he stared at her before shaking his head slightly. "You needed time to recover. Iím sure youíll be back to work soon enough."

"True," she nodded, still playing with her butterbeer bottle, "itís just frustrating, though I suppose it could have been worse."

Remus flinched and looked away, unable to reply, and Tonksí dark eyes widened, as she raised her hand to her mouth, spilling the butterbeer as she did so. "Ohóoh, Iím so sorry, I didnít mean..." She grabbed for a tea towel to begin sopping up the mess.

"I know you didnít," Remus said quietly, staring down at his hands. "Iím overly sensitive, Iím sure."

"Not at all; we all miss him and it... we... it must be harder for you."

"Iím not sure if itís harder or easier than when he was in Azkaban," Remus mused. "Heís truly gone this time, with no sneaking hope of seeing him again, but I donít have to hide missing him, wanting him..." His voice cracked.

Tonks pressed her lips together and scooted around the table to rest her hand on Remusí shoulder. "Iím sorry, Iím so, so sorry," she whispered, her tone one of loss and sorrow.

"Iíd only just got him back, and I miss him so much," Remus whispered almost inaudibly. "And I hate Dumbledore for every second we spent apart that last year, time that weíll never get back," he finished bitterly.

"Then you should remember what you had and cherish it." She leaned in and hugged his shoulders at that, causing Remus to flinch away from her touch.

"It wasnít enough."

"I think thatís the case no matter how long you have with someone you love."

Remus nodded. "When I get my hands on Wormtail, heís going to regret every second he cost Sirius and me... and what he did to Lily and James," he added almost as an afterthought.

Tonks straightened up, an almost feral gleam lighting her eyes for a second before it vanished. "Heíll pay, Iím sure of it."

"Yes, with everyone aware of what he did, someone will get him."

"Or bring him to you."

Remusí snarl was worthy of Moony at his most enraged. "I pray for it."

Tonks nodded at that and stepped back from the table, her fingers trailing over Remusí shoulder before she began pacing behind him.

"You should sit," Remus said. "If Molly sees you pacing like that, sheíll have you back in bed."

"Well, Molly doesnít always know whatís best, does she?" Tonks snapped.

"No," Remus admitted wearily. "She does it from caring, but her methods are often less than successful. She nearly drove Sirius mad, and I know Harry was hurt by being kept out of things."

"Exactly, but everyone looks up to her as if she knows best when it comes to dealing with the children. Children--," she let out a huff at that, "none of those three are children any longer."

"Far less than we were at their age. I mean Sirius, James, Lily and I, that is," Remus corrected himself.

"As if youíre so ancient now."

"I feel as if I am."

"Things will get better," she promised, stopping in her pacing to rest a hand on his shoulder again.

Remus laughed bitterly. "Iíve already lost everyone who ever mattered to me except Harry, so I donít see how."

Tonks opened her mouth, then closed it and frowned slightly. "IóIím not quite sure what to say to that other than at least youíre alive."

"If Harry hadnít needed me... Well, as you say, thereís still much to be done."

"If Harry hadnít needed you, what?" Tonks demanded, her fingers clenching on his arm.

Remus looked up finally, meeting her eyes, nothing in his but pain, sorrow, anger and loss. "Iíd have gone after Sirius. I promised him weíd never be apart again."

"Donít you say that; donít you dare say that!" Tonksí hair turned a vivid red as she shouted at him. "Donít you dare give up, Remus Lupin, not on life, not on anything!"

Remus shrugged slightly, indifferent to her anger. "Sirius was my life."

"And would he want you to throw yours away?"

"No," Remus admitted. "But Iím so tired of living alone, of being without him, so very tired."

Her shoulders slumped, and she let her hand fall from his shoulder. "Iím sorry," she whispered.

"Itís not your fault. I just keep wondering if I could have saved him, if Iíd been quicker, if Iíd questioned Peterís story, if Iíd just believed..."

"You canít change the past," she said quietly, "you can only go on."

"I have no other choice, but part of me ended that night, in the Ministry."

Tonksí shoulders slumped further, and she made a strangled noise. "IóI shouldóI should be going; Iíve an appointment at the Ministry in the morning to see if Iím fit for duty."

"Good luck, Dora." Remus dredged up a half smile for her.

Her eyes narrowed slightly before she nodded. "Thank you, Remus. Ifóif you need to talk to someone, well, I might not be the best, but I can listen."

"Thank you, my dear." Remus lowered his head again, sunk back in gloom.

"Whatís wrong with you, Tonks?" one of the group of young wizards and witches she was out with asked. "Youíre acting as if youíve seen a ghost."

"Not sure," she murmured, shaking her head, causing her dark hair to fall into her face. "I suppose Iím just tired is all."

"Well, get un-tired if you want to have any fun tonight!"

Remus looked up in surprise when the door to 12 Grimmauld Place opened. "Dora? I thought youíd be out celebrating with your friends tonight?"

"And I thought youíd be getting some rest," she replied tartly.

"I am but I fancied a cup of tea. Would you care for one?"

"Actually, yes, I would, thank you."

"Then tea for two it is. Would you care for something to eat as well?"

"I donít suppose you have any cherry crumble lying about?" she asked, giving a ghost of a smile.

Remus missed a step on his way to the kitchen. "In fact, yes, I do." He started to add that heíd made a point of keeping some in for Sirius but changed his mind and simply continued down the hall, Tonks following after him.

"Wonderful," she breathed. "Anything I can do to help?"

"You can serve the crumble if you will," Remus said, busying himself with the tea so he could avoid her eyes for a bit.

"I can do that." She smiled as she reached for plates and forks for both of them, setting them on the table and dishing up large helpings to each of them. "Oh, if you donít mind, thatís three sugars, a drop of lemon and some milk in mine."

Remus froze before whirling around to stare at her, shocked to find she wasnít even looking at him after saying that. "I thought you took it with just a bit of milk," he choked out.

"Hmm?" Tonks looked up from her serving at that, her hair falling back from her face. "No, not that I recall."

"Ah, my mistake then," Remus managed to say around the lump in his throat while he made the tea with shaking hands.

"There we are." She glanced up at that and smiled before leaning around Remus to take her cup. "Thank you, Remus."

"Y-youíre welcome," Remus replied shakily. "We should go into the parlor to relax with it," he suggested.

"Can we toss our plates at that horrid portrait if it isnít quiet?" Tonks asked, her tone light and teasing as she seemed to have gotten over her earlier moodiness.

"I put a blanket back over it; hopefully thatíll keep it still."

"Thatís a shame; I was actually looking forward to seeing the thing doused with crumbs."

Remus barked a laugh. "We can do that when weíre done if you still want to."

"That sounds perfect, and, may I say, we can chuck the whole cupboard at it if it makes you laugh again."

Chuckling wryly, Remus asked, "Donít you think thatís a bit drastic?"

"Iíve always been a fan of drastic measures," Tonks laughed.

"You and Sirius are much more alike than Iíd thought," Remus replied, still smiling faintly.

"Well, we are cousins!" Tonks grinned before taking a bite of her crumble and licking a cherry off the tines of her fork, making Remus catch his breath.

"I forget sometimes," he said quietly, watching her with a puzzled frown.

"That we were cousins?" she asked.

"Yes, you seemed so very different, but I suppose thereís a lot to be said for heredity, even if neither of you care for your shared ancestry."

"Exactly, though I wouldnít say the same for Draco Malfoy and myself; I hope Iím nothing like that simpering little git!"

Remus burst into laughter. "If youíre worried, ask Harry. As much as he detests Malfoy, Iím sure he could give you a whole scrollís worth of ways youíre nothing like him."

Tonks beamed at that. "Thank goodness; lately Iíve felt... just not myself, and hearing that Iím still far from the ideal of the Horrible House of Black is a relief."

"I think you and Sirius would have to found your own branch of the House. Youíre nothing like the rest."

"There is my mother," Tonks pointed out.

"True, and your mothers were Blacks by birth as well as by marriage. You three are clearly a new offshoot on the family tree."

"A much better one." Tonks grinned at him and sipped at her tea, giving a soft sigh of pleasure. "Perfect."

"Iíve had a lot of experience preparing tea that way. Itís exactly the way Sirius liked it," Remus replied, watching her carefully.

"Oh." Tonks frowned slightly. "I never noticed; it must run in the wild branch of the family as well."

"I suppose so," Remus replied, relaxing at her genuine surprise.

As she watched him closely, Tonks sipped at her tea again, "Are you going to be going off on a mission soon?" she finally asked.

"I suppose so," he said. "I havenít really paid much attention lately, but I imagine Dumbledore is eager for me to get back to it."

"It might be good for you; to keep busy, that is. Iím going to be off to Hogwarts soon."

"It will be good for Harry and the others to have you there."

"And hopefully safer as well," she nodded.

"That is always to be hoped," Remus agreed, sipping at his tea. "I wish I could be there for him."

"He knows youíre there if he needs you," she promised, reaching out to pat his hand, hers resting on his slightly longer than strictly necessary.

"Itís odd how things turn out, isnít it?" Remus mused. "We expected to be one big, extended family with Sirius and I as the doting uncles to the Potter and Pettigrew broods, and instead thereís just Harry and now just me. I sometimes wonder..." He trailed off with a sad half chuckle before sipping at his tea.

"Wonder what?" Tonks whispered, looking close to tears.

"Nothing of importance," Remus said, staring into his tea. "Youíre much too easy to talk to, Dora."

"And is that a bad thing?"

"You donít need to hear my whinging," he said. "But thank you for listening."

"Well, youíve listened to mine enough."

"Thatís what we older blokes are here for."

"Oh yes, youíre ancient."

"Compared to you I am," Remus pointed out. "Youíre closer to Harryís age than mine."

"And this matters, how?" Tonkís tone was growing stiffer.

"It doesnít, of course. The coming war wonít take age into account, not yours, not mine, especially not Harryís."

"Exactly."

"Which is why you should be out with some handsome young Auror," Remus teased.

"And why is that? Because he would understand me?" Her glower was back, and the color of her hair was fluctuating.

"Because any of us could die at any time and you shouldnít miss an opportunity to seize any happiness you can," Remus replied softly.

"Who says Iím not doing just that?"

Remus chuckled. "Apparently all Blacks are a bit mad."

"Because Iíd rather be sitting here talking to you than out dancing with some twitterheads who donít even notice or care that thereís a war going on?"

"Far be it for me to argue with a determined woman," Remus said with amusement. "More tea?"

Her lips curving up into a pleased smile, Tonks nodded. "That would be lovely."

Returning her smile, Remus leaned forward and picked up the tea pot to pour more into her cup, automatically adding the right amount of sugar, lemon and milk.

"Welcome back to Hogwarts," Dumbledore said as he led the quartet of Aurors down the corridor. "Iím sure you are all familiar with the school; before your official duties begin, I had thought you would like to visit your old houses. Iíve asked some of the prefects to escort you."

"That sounds like a lark," Tonks grinned, starting toward Ron Weasley, who was looking at her quite strangely, as were the other Aurors, Proudfoot, Savage, and Dawlish.

"Nymphadora, if you would accompany Terry here, young Master Boot will be pleased to escort you to Hufflepuff."

"Of, of course, Headmaster," she murmured, rubbing at her forehead, managing to make it through the intervening hours through sheer will alone. Once alone in the rooms sheíd been assigned, however, she dropped to sit on the bed, cradling her head in her hands and moaning. Finally, she looked up, a haunted expression in her now blue eyes.

"I remember; oh Merlin, Remus, I remember."

Ignoring the surly house elf Kreacher, Remus spent several hours decorating 12 Grimmauld Place, filling it with warmth and the holiday spirit. Logs crackled in the fireplace, and pine bows decorated the mantles and tables, their aromatic scent permeating the air along with the aroma of baking cookies wafting from the kitchen.

A huge tree dominated one end of the parlor, gleaming with ornaments and balls of mage light, and a pile of gifts waited under it for distribution in two days. Soon the other members of the Order, along with Harry and his friends and the rest of the Weasleys would arrive for the holidays, and for the first time in a long time, Remus felt almost happy.

He glanced up at the picture of Sirius and him that heíd placed on the table where he could see it whenever he was there, and he smiled faintly. "You have no idea how much I wish you were here, love."

The door banged open, and Tonksí voice echoed down the hall. "Quite the holiday spirit youíve got going here, Remus."

"Happy Christmas, Dora," Remus replied, coming out into the hall. "Youíre the first here. Eggnog?"

"Is it spiked?" she asked with a grin as she set down several bags.

"Of course," he laughed. "What would be the point otherwise?"

"None at all, of course!" She swept forward and caught him in a tight hug, making Remus stiffen before he returned the hug more tentatively.

"Itís good to see you, Dora," he said, extricating himself from the embrace.

"You have no idea how glad I am to be here."

"I can see that," Remus said. "Come along then and Iíll get you that eggnog."

"Right behind you," Tonks said cheerfully, trailing after him and making a rude gesture at Walburga Blackís curtained portrait.

"The other Aurors didnít come back with you?" Remus questioned. "Oh, they went home for the holidays?"

"Yes, from what I understand, the Weasleys, Hermione and Harry will be here soon."

"It will be good to have laughter in this house," Remus said. "I never had a chance to do this for Sirius," he added sadly.

Tonksí expression turned serious at that. "But you were together last Christmas; why would he want any more than that?"

"I wanted to give him so much, to make him happy again," Remus replied. "But yes, we did have it together. Iím glad of that."

"He was happy, I know it." She reached out and placed her hand on Remusí arm.

"I hope so. I know I was happy to be with him."

Tonks smiled at that and rubbed her thumb over the worn weave of Remusí sweater, shaking her head at its threadbare state.

Remus had just turned his head to stare at Tonks when a clamor in the hallway announced the arrival of the Weasleys, Harry and Hermione, and they went out to greet the newcomers.

The Christmas tumult lasted until late in the evening when Molly Weasley finally forced everyone into bed, then started early when Fred and George woke them with fireworks and off-color carols that earned them boxed ears from their mother.

Sitting in a corner of the parlor, Remus watched it all with somewhat bemused amusement, glad that it was so very different from the one Christmas he, Sirius, James and Lily had shared with Harry, though he wished they could all have been there.

"Quite the tumult, eh, M- Remus?" Tonks asked, settling beside him with her mug of tea.

"Truly. I imagine the Potter household might have been like this, under different circumstances."

"With all you Marauders running about, I think it would put this to shame." She grinned at that, and Remus chuckled.

"Iím sure youíre right. The house might not have survived."

"You did have one Christmas together with all of them, didnít you?"

Remus nodded. "Harryís first. Sirius and I took care of him one night while James and Lily went out. It was a lovely evening."

"The two of you, changing nappies? That must have been a sight." Tonks giggled at that, her nose suddenly wrinkling as she made a face.

"It was an experience," Remus agreed. "Sirius would have been a brilliant father," he added wistfully.

"Wot?" she gasped before coughing. "I mean, the two of you, it would have been highly unlikely..."

"Oh, come now, Dora," Remus chided, "even the Muggles have ways to have children for couples who canít on their own. Iím sure we could have found an accommodating witch."

"Yes, yes, I suppose so," she said quickly, looking somewhat shaken by the conversation.

"You seem disturbed by the idea. Iíd thought Sirius and I didnít bother you?" Remus said, sounding disappointed.

"No, no, thatís not it at all," she protested, starting to put her hand on his arm only to have him step back.

"Then what is it?"

"Itís youó" Tonks glanced toward the others, and when she looked back, the firelight made her eyes seem lighter than normal. "Can we talk later? Alone?"

"I... If you wish." Remus nodded shortly before turning and moving toward the tree, joining Harry and the Weasley twins.

Tonks sighed as she watched him go but made no move to follow.

"Is something wrong, dear?" Molly asked, coming up and pressing a fresh cup of tea into Tonksí hand.

Turning to glance down at the older woman, Tonks shook her head, though her eyes narrowed slightly. "No, nothing at all, Molly."

Looking after Remus, Molly smiled. "It will all be fine, my dear. It will work out in the end."

"Better than it did with Sirius?"

Molly frowned. "Sirius... was damaged by his time in Azkaban, poor dear, but his heart was in the right place. He died protecting Harry."

"Do you think Remus will ever get over him?" Tonks asked quietly.

"Of course he will, dear. Donít give up hope."

Tonks nodded at that and sighed. "Yes, thereís always hope."

"Good girl." Molly patted her arm before moving away to join Arthur, sliding an arm around her husbandís waist. "Sheíll be good for Remus."

"Molly," Arthur said in a warning tone, "donít try to push them together; itís barely been half a year; Remus isnít ready."

"Heíll be much happier with a fine young woman like Tonks."

"Molly, please promise you wonít say anything like that near him."

Molly stretched up on her toes and kissed him. "Happy Christmas, my love."

With a determined step, Tonks walked into the parlor, looking around and breathing a sigh of relief when she spotted Remus looking out of one of the windows at the frost-silvered lawn.

"Remus," she said quietly, stepping inside.

"Ah, Dora." He turned to face her. "You said you wanted to speak to me?"

"Yes, I did." She took a deep breath, glancing to the side before raising her eyes to meet his.

"Why?" Remus asked bluntly, wanting this over with so he could retire to his room and his memories.

"Because Iíve something to tell you, something quiet unbelievable, actually."

"Unbelievable, is it? Well, then perhaps you should tell me."

"Promise me youíll hear me out."

Remus frowned before nodding slowly. "Iíll hear you out."

"Good." She clasped her hands behind her back and began to pace in front of the fireplace, the flames casting ever-changing shadows on the opposite wall. "It started at the Ministry, the night Harry was attacked."

Remus winced and looked away, not wanting to remember that night.

"The night Sirius died. Only, he didnít die; I didnít die, Moony; Iím here. I think Tonks was killed at the same time, and when I fell through the Veil, I suppose my soul was pulled out, and it landed here. At the beginning I didnít know what was going on, only that something felt wrong, then, over time, Tonksí memories faded, and mine came back." Tonks had stopped pacing as she spoke and stood, staring at him.

Remus backed away, his eyes wide. "If this is some kind of joke, Tonks, itís a cruel one!"

"Itís no joke, Moony," she pleased, taking a step toward him.

"Stop it! Sirius is dead! I know that, and I have to live with it. You pretending to be him is only making it worse!"

"Iím not pretending! Ask me a question, any question, and Iíll answer it."

"Iíve already told you most of the answers myself!" Remus snapped back.

"Then ask me something else!" she begged, walking closer, looking horrified when he backed toward the door.

"Oh fine. How did you and I first get together?"

"James and Lilyís wedding," was the instant reply.

Remus snorted. "I didnít say when; I said how."

"You thought I was half-drunk so you didnít stop me when I snogged you silly at my flat."

Remusí eyes widened. "Was that the first time you-Sirius was interested in me?"

"The first time you didnít ignore the fact," she snorted, the sound oddly indelicate even for her.

Remus stared at her, hesitating. "I never ignored anything," he said slowly.

"Fine then, were oblivious just as youíve been these last months."

"O-oblivious?"

"Flirting, Moony! When I started, I didnít even know who I was, but I knew I wanted you."

"All right, if youíre really Sirius, tell me how you tried to get my attention the first time," Remus challenged.

Tonks frowned slightly. "Iósomething involving the Forbidden Forest and... Damnit!" She ran a hand through her hair in frustration. "It was there, and now itís gone."

"The Forbidden Forest?" Remus squeaked, and Tonks smirked.

"It must have been good."

"Sirius would never have forgotten that," Remus said, but it was clear he was beginning to wonder.

"Well, forgive me; being killed and coming back in another body tends to leave some holes in the memory!" Tonks shouted, glaring at him.

"You certainly sound like Sirius," Remus observed wryly. "And your hair has looked like his for last few months," he added slowly.

"And?"

"And I donít know," Remus murmured. "I donít trust my own mind. I want Sirius back so badly, Iíd grasp at anything."

Tonks took a deep breath and nodded, though some of the life had left her eyes. "Even this body? You forget: metamorphmagus." As she spoke, Tonks began to change until it was Sirius standing there looking at Remus.

Remus gasped and took a step back. "Stop! This is too cruel; I donít want a fake!"

"What?" The shock had Tonks changing back to her normal shape. "How can it be a fake when itís me?"

Remus shook his head. "I donít know," he whispered.

The still blue eyes closed and Tonks nodded. "All right, take your time; ifówhen you decide, you know where to find me." She turned and, walked stiff-backed out of the room, then upstairs.

Remus barely held himself together long enough to get back to his room where he collapsed on his bed, sobbing out his pain as he hadnít done since Sirius had died, not even remembering to put a silencing charm on the room.

In the room she had been given, Tonks sat huddled in the corner, her arms wrapped around her legs and her head bowed against her knees, wondering if she had just made the worst mistake of Siriusí life.

After a little while, Remus finally started thinking again, and two things struck him. Dora had never been cruel to anyone that he knew of, and she had been showing habits reminiscent of Sirius recently.

He got to his feet and slowly walked to Tonksí room, hesitating for a moment before knocking.

"I told you, Molly; Iím fine."

"Itís not Molly; itís me, Remus."

"Iím fine to you too."

Remusí lips quirked slightly in a smile at the familiar sulky tone, and he opened the door and stepped in. "Hullo... Sirius."

The figure in the corner went completely still. "What did you call me?"

"Sirius," Remus repeated, his heart in his tone, and the figure in the corner slowly rose, walking toward him, finally stepping into the light as himself.

"Moony," Sirius whispered, reaching out a hand to run his fingers down Remusí cheek. "My Moony."

"Sirius," Remus said yet again in a broken tone before he threw himself into Siriusí arms, clinging to him with desperate strength. "Oh, if this is a dream, I never want to wake up!"

"No dream," Sirius whispered, stroking a hand over his back and holding him close. "Itís me, Iím here; I told you weíd never be apart again."

"Oh Merlin, Sirius, Iíve been so lost without you," Remus choked out, holding fistfuls of Siriusí hair.

"Iím sorry, so sorry," Sirius whispered, his voice breaking. "Always manage to hurt you..."

Remus raised his head to stare at him. "You came back from death to be with me, Sirius! I donít think thatís something to apologize for. Oh Merlin, you came back," he repeated, awestruck. "Youíre here, and youíre mine again, and Iím never letting you away from my side again!"

"So youíre coming back to Hogwarts with me after the holidays?" Sirius asked, a sad smile curving his lips.

Remus stilled, his eyebrows drawing together in a frown. "Shite!" he exclaimed. "Oh, there has to be a way," he said almost desperately. "I could stay in the Shack," he suggested, his arms tightening around Sirius.

"Youíre not staying there!" Sirius growled.

Remus frowned. "Itís much closer than here!"

"Itís a hovel!"

"Itís near you."

"Youíll still be alone out there; I have to stay at Hogwarts!" Sirius cursed under his breath at that realization.

Remus somehow pressed even closer. "I donít think I can let you go," he said in a barely audible tone.

"I donít want you to." As he whispered the words, Sirius stroked Remusí back, feeling the fine tremors wracking his body. "And I donít want to let you go either."

"Weíll find a way. Iíve lost you too often, Sirius. Iím not going to waste any more time."

"I donít want to either, once I realized... these past months have been torture; even Harry noticed and asked me what was wrong." Siriusí eyes opened wider at that. "Harry! We have to tell him!"

After a moment Remus nodded slowly. "Yes, we do. This isnít something we can keep from him. Heís lost quite as much as we have, and to let him continue to believe heís lost the last of his family when itís not true would be cruel."

"Exactly." Sirius beamed and hugged Remus tightly. "Weíll be able to be together like we planned."

Remus suddenly groaned, and Sirius looked at him sharply. "What?"

"Molly! Sheís been shoving Dora at me, and now sheís going to be hovering over us, all smugly pleased that she was right and Tonks was the right one for me," Remus grumbled.

"Bloody hell!" Sirius snarled, breaking away to pace around the small bedroom.

"Weíll just have to put up with it, I suppose, since we wonít want to tell her about you. I donít think we should tell anyone except Harry, really."

"No, not really." Sirius leaned against the wall, his form slowly morphing back to Tonksí. "I do feel guilty, you know, that Iím here and she isnít; just... not enough to wish it hadnít happened."

Remus nodded. "I think youíre right that she was killed at the same time. And while I wouldnít wish her dead, Iím glad you were able to slip into the body and come back to me." He smiled quickly. "The morphing ability so I can really have you is a bonus."

"For both of us."

"We can still have it everyway." Remus gave him a quick grin.

"Everyway?" Sirius laughed quietly.

"We can experiment."

"Something that sadly will have to wait until we have privacy." Sirius glowered at the walls.

"Silencing charm!" Remus said emphatically.

"You always were the smart one, Moony," Sirius murmured, pushing off the wall, his form blurring as he did so.

"Thatís why I got you and Iím keeping you." Remus watched him hungrily.

"Funny, I thought I was the one who got you." As Sirius spoke, he pushed Remusí worn grey sweater off his shoulders.

"We got each other." Remus watched Sirius undress him, his own hands resting on Siriusí hips, flexing as he relished the sensation of touching him again.

"And weíll have each other; thank goodness everythingís functional this way." Sirius tilted his head at Remus and winked. "I checked to make sure."

"You checked?" Remus laughed. "Back to wanking, are we? And for the record, thatís what you wanted to do in the Forbidden Forest. You were obsessed with talking about wanking our last months at Hogwarts."

Siriusí expression turned thoughtful, and he nodded slowly. "Yes, thatís right... you told me I could handle it myself." He smirked at that.

"Well, you donít have to anymore. Iím happy to handle it for you."

A glance toward the door and a flick of a wand had the door locked and a silencing charm around the room. "Only if I can handle you as well." Remusí sweater fell to the ground, and Sirius began to unbutton his shirt.

"I think Iíll insist upon it." Remus tugged Siriusí shirt free of his denims and slid his hands up Siriusí chest.

"Good man." Sirius arched into the touch, a mischievous gleam in his eyes.

"Tasty man," Remus murmured, bending down to lick a nipple.

Sirius moaned, his fingers catching in Remusí undershirt and tearing the thin fabric to skate over the warm flesh beneath it.

"Sirius," Remus whispered, pressing closer and turning his attention to the other nipple while tugging the shirt over Siriusí shoulders.

"Merlin, Remus, yes," Sirius rasped, shaking out of his shirt, managing to keep one hand on Remus the whole while.

Remus hesitated, the unfamiliar scent throwing him for a moment before he looked up into the blue eyes and saw Sirius looking back at him. He smiled and pressed close, kissing Sirius hungrily, Siriusí mouth opening under his as he pressed closer, his hands sliding down to Remusí ass.

"Want to feel you in me, Sirius, need that, to know that youíre really here, back with me," Remus rasped, fumbling with Siriusí fly.

"Yes, Merlin, yes," Sirius growled, thrusting against Remusí hands, at the same time turning them to walk him back toward the small bed.

"Love you so much," Remus panted, tearing at Siriusí remaining clothes in his desperate need to touch him, his own clothes dropping to the floor along with them, then Sirius pounced on him, knocking him to the bed and landing on top of him as they kissed and touched as if starving.

"Please, now," Remus begged, not wanting to wait another second to feel Sirius inside him again, needing him more than heíd ever needed anything.

"Need something, not going to hurt you," Sirius gasped, pulling back to look around wildly.

Remus groaned, but he knew heíd never hurt Sirius either, so he simply stretched out on the bed and stroked himself, teasing Sirius. "Hurry."

Sirius was off the bed in a flash, grabbing his wand and giving it a flick, instantly holding a crystal vial in his hand. He crawled back onto the bed, kneeling between Remusí legs and poured the clear liquid over his fingers, some dripping down onto Remusí cock, making Remus shudder and spread his legs wider.

He arched his hips up, thrusting toward Sirius in a clear demand for more.

Leaning in to lick a stripe up Remusí erection, Sirius pressed a finger into his ass at the same time, keeping his gaze locked with Remusí.

Remus whimpered.

"Yes," he moaned, staring into the silvery blue eyes. "Sirius." He shivered and clenched down on the finger sliding into him, squirming as he tried to take it deeper and get into Siriusí mouth at the same time.

Sirius hummed in answer, waiting until Remus relaxed before adding a second finger and groaning at the pressure around them and the musky taste in his mouth.

"Sirius! Donít tease," Remus groaned, his short nails digging into Siriusí shoulders.

"Not," Sirius growled as he pulled off Remusí cock, reaching for the oil with his free hand and slicking his cock as he continued to stroke his fingers in and out of Remusí ass.

"Then fuck me!" Remus demanded, riding Siriusí fingers eagerly, at least until they drew back out of him, only to be replaced by his cock as Sirius pushed inward with a deep-voiced groan.

"Oh yes," Remus gasped, his back arching into a deep bow as he felt Sirius inside him again, and the last tiny, niggling doubts fell away as he reveled in the sense of being with his mate.

"Remus," Sirius whispered, tangling his hands in the graying hair and kissing him desperately as they began to move together, quickly rediscovering their rhythm. Remus met every thrust, simultaneously wanting more and never wanting this to end. Their eyes met from bare inches apart as they kissed, Remusí hands tracing a shaky path down Siriusí spine to cup his ass, fingering him as they moved.

Sirius groaned and clenched his ass under Remusí hands, the speed of his thrusts increasing slightly, Remusí erection rubbing between them as they moved until Remus arched up against him, gasping, and came with a short, sharp cry. "Sirius!"

A low-throated moan answered him as Sirius shuddered and came as well, his whole body tensing, then relaxing so that he was slumped over the other man, his face buried against his throat.

Remus relaxed under the familiar, welcome weight, and his smile was bright enough to light the room. "Sirius," he whispered.

"Told you, bad knut; always come back," was the half-mumbled reply.

"Thank Merlin," Remus breathed fervently, and Sirius smiled against his throat, his body shifting back to Tonksí as he fell asleep.

Remus slowly stroked the length of Siriusí back, exploring the differences of this feminine form that still was his Sirius, and he too was smiling as he fell asleep, tangled in Siriusí embrace.

A loud banging on the door woke them both, and Sirius groaned as he lifted his head from Remusí shoulder. "Tonks? Have you seen Professor Lupin? Heís not anywhere that we can find," Hermione called.

"Oh bloody hell," Sirius muttered.

Remus opened one eye, peering blearily up at Sirius. "Wazzat?" he mumbled, unfortunately loudly enough to be heard through the door since the silencing charm had faded during the night.

A loud gasp could be heard, followed by Hermioneís tentative, "Professor Lupin?"

Now more awake, Remus bit back a curse and shrugged slightly as he met Siriusí eyes. "Yes, Hermione, what is it?"

"N-nothing," she replied quickly, "we were just worried when we couldnít find you. I... Iíll just be off now."

Sirius rolled to his back and stretched, grinning slightly. "Well, now youíve gone and done it; my reputationís in tatters."

"I suppose Iíll just have to make an honest woman of you then," Remus retorted.

"Oh, thatís oh so amusing, Moony," Sirius snorted, rolling out of bed and reaching for his wand to clean them both up before beginning to get dressed, pulling on a pair of low-waisted denims and a long-sleeved t-shirt emblazoned with the Chudley Cannonsí emblem. "This is embarrassing," he muttered.

"What is?" Remus asked curiously, watching Sirius dress. "Be glad Tonks tended to skip wearing a bra in case she had to morph," he added mischievously.

"Very funny," Sirius growled, glaring at him. "And whatís embarrassing is that now, not only am I known as a Hufflepuff, I also apparently root for the Cannons!"

Remus snickered. "I know that youíre a real Gryffindor," he said soothingly, though the effect was somewhat spoilt by his laughter.

"This isnít amusing in the least!"

"Sirius, youíre alive. Everything is amusing."

Siriusí sulky expression blossomed into a wide smile at that. "Youíre right, and you believe me, so everything is amazing."

"How could I not? Thereís no one else quite like you, Padfoot," Remus said wryly.

"Although I would like to know why you noticed that Tonks never wore a bra..." Sirius glanced down at his chest as he spoke, then eyed Remus speculatively.

Remus rolled his eyes. "I noticed because Iíve seen her change into men, and I thought it was clever of her to plan ahead."

"Mmmhmm..."

"Oi, you know perfectly well Iím only interested in you, you git."

Sirius snickered and kissed him. "Well, youíll have to save being interested me and my," he grimaced, "breasts until later; I have the feeling if we wait much longer theyíre going to spell the door open, and what you arenít wearing might prove embarrassing."

"And here I thought you liked me in the altogether," Remus said, although he was looking around for his clothes.

"Oh, I like you that way all too well; I just donít think you want Harry, Ron and Hermione to see you that way."

"Hardly," Remus agreed. "Harryís going to be upset about this until we can tell him the truth," he sighed as he buttoned his shirt.

"Yes," Sirius sighed, stepping closer to stroke a hand over Remusí chest, "and I have the feeling youíre going to be the one heís most angry with. Iíll get him alone as soon as possible."

"He loves you," Remus replied, "so heís going to see this as a betrayal. How could he know that it would never have happened if it hadnít been you?"

"Weíll make him believe that," Sirius promised, kissing him gently.

Remus nodded, leaning in to Sirius. "Thank Merlin you did come back."

"You may not say that at certain times of the month..."

"Iíll stock up on chocolate."

Sirius snickered at that as he watched Remus finish getting dressed. "One more reason I love you."

"Just wait till you experience my foot massages."

"Iíll look forward to themóand weíre stalling, arenít we?"

Remus nodded. "Theyíre probably waiting to pounce the moment we leave the room."

"Are we Marauders or mice?"

"Canít we be marauding mice?"

"Crookshanks might eat us."

"Youíre much too logical."

"Why, Master Lupin, that is the first time youíve ever said such a thing to me!"

"Thatís because itís the first time itís been true. Now give us a kiss for luck, and weíll face the music."

Sirius leaned in to do just that, getting a grope of Remusí backside at the same time, then waved his wand at the door, unlocking it. "Follow me," he murmured, walking toward it and pulling it open.

"Right behind you... and using you as a shield," Remus muttered, not looking forward to all the reactions.

"Just donít expect me to expand to protect you; it stretches my clothes out horribly," Sirius sniffed as they walked down the corridor to the stairs and down to the kitchen where they could hear what sounded like a hushed argument going on.

Remus sighed. "I can duck. Of course, right now Iím wishing we could just run away."

"Moony..." Sirius said sternly, stepping into the kitchen, smiling brightly. "Good morning, everyone."

There was instant silence, and, as one, everyone turned to stare at the two new arrivals.

"Good morning, loves," Molly exclaimed, beaming maternally at them, which made Remus muffle a groan.

Harry glowered at Remus before turning his attention to his porridge again, and Ron and Hermione offered slightly less venomous versions of the same expression though Ginny smiled at them.

"Sleep well?" one of the twins asked in a far too innocent tone which had his mother smacking him on the head with a spoon.

"Quite well, actually," Sirius answered. "Best I have in months."

"Likewise," Remus agreed, watching Harry. "Itís rather a relief to wake up feeling rested."

Harry muttered something under his breath and pushed back from the table, stalking out of the kitchen. Sirius watched him go, his eyes darkening, before Molly rested a hand on both his and Remusí arms.

"Just give him time to get used it, poor dear; Iím sure heíll be fine."

Sirius bit his lip to keep from snapping at her and managed a tight smile though he didnít have to say anything as Molly was talking again as she bustled around the kitchen. "Now sit down, let me get you both a cup of tea."

Looking unhappy, Remus sat down next to Sirius, wishing theyíd had a chance to speak to Harry privately. It seemed it would have to wait for a bit, however, so he might as well enjoy his breakfast. "That would be lovely, thank you, Molly," he said, trying to ignore the baffled disapproval radiating from Ron and Hermione.

"No trouble at all," she replied, setting a fresh pot in front of them as well as cups, saucers, cream and sugar.

Remus nodded his thanks, unconsciously leaning against Sirius as he poured cups for both of them.

"Thank you, love," Sirius murmured, well aware of Ron and Hermioneís gaze on them before Hermione stuttered an apology and fled from the table, followed quickly by Ron.

Remus sighed. "I suppose weíre going to have to talk to them."

"That can wait," Molly said sternly. "You both need to eat first." Her tone caused muffled snorts from the twins.

"But, Harry-" Sirius began, only to snap his mouth shut when both Molly and Arthur looked shocked at his tone, one they had never heard from Tonks.

Remus reached down and squeezed Siriusí thigh under the table. "Weíll talk to him after we eat," he assured Sirius, not caring what the Weasleys thought.

Sirius took a deep breath and finally nodded, catching Remusí hand in his and holding it tightly before letting go to pick up his tea and take a sip. Remus followed suit, realizing as he did that he really was hungry. He reached for a piece of the toast left behind when Harry and his friends left, but Molly stopped him.

"You donít want that; itís cold. Iíll have a lovely breakfast for you in two shakes, dear." She gestured with her wand and platters piled high with eggs, sausage, ham and fresh toast floated to the table, settling in front of Remus and Sirius. "Dig in, loves."

Sirius glanced over at Remus, looking both bemused and concerned regarding the situation.

"Eat up," Remus ordered. "Weíre both going to need to deal with the kids... and each other," he added more quietly, for Siriusí ears only.

"Our lives are one complication after another," Sirius sighed before beginning to eat.

"Donít be silly, Nymphadora," Molly scolded, "things are only as complicated as you make them."

That comment had nearly everyone in the room giving her looks of astonishment, and Remus ate faster, wanting to make their escape before Sirius said anything they couldnít explain away.

Finally the meal was done and Sirius pushed his plate away, shaking his head at Mollyís admonishment that they both should eat more. No doubt it had been delicious, but worry turned the food to ash in his mouth.

"If we ate another bite, Molly, weíd explode," Remus told her, smiling. "Thank you, it was lovely." He got to his feet, automatically reaching a hand to Sirius.

"Yes, thank you," Sirius echoed as he stood as well, trying to sound polite, but not at all sure he succeeded.

Remus saw several frowns, and he tugged Sirius toward the door, claiming that they needed to go over some defensive spells. Once in the hall, he looked over at Sirius. "Do you think Harry will be in his room?"

"Probably..." Sirius looked away, "youíve been around him more than I, really."

Remus smacked the back of his head. "And youíre the one he wants to be around, so stop feeling sorry for yourself, you git. Letís try his room. Though itís likely to be all three of them, you know," he warned.

"Iím not feeling sorry for myself!" Sirius protested, punching him in the arm. "Much. And yes, it will be all three of them."

"Itís probably easiest to tell all of them. It would be hard on Harry to keep this a secret from Ron and Hermione."

"Of course, now itís three of them we have to convince... you were easier, Moony."

"It mattered too much to me, Sirius," Remus replied. "I imagine Hermione will be the first to be convinced. Sheís very logical."

"Which she will say is because sheís female."

"Hrm, perhaps being in Tonksí body will make you more logical then," Remus mused.

"Keep it up and you can go talk to them alone!"

Remus snickered. "Youíre the one who needs to."

"And why is that?"

"Because you want to be yourself with Harry and have that relationship," Remus replied gently. "And you will."

Sirius squeezed his hand and leaned in to kiss him. "You give me hope, Moony."

"Itís entirely mutual, Padfoot."

"So which of us is knocking?"

"I supposed Iíd best," Remus sighed and did just that, at the same time calling, "Harry? Are you in there? Itís Remus. I need to speak to you."

"Yeah? Well, maybe I donít want to talk to you!"

"Iím not going to yell at you through this door, Harry," Remus said patiently. "You know we need to talk, so open up."

The lock on the door clicked, and Sirius pushed it open to reveal three mutinous faces glaring at them.

"Right then, we have something to tell you," Remus said, hoping to forestall the pointless accusations.

"What, that youíre together? I think we figured that out," Harry snarled.

"Yeah, we arenít stupid," Ron nodded.

"We never said you were," Sirius commented. "In fact, the three of you are all quite bright and talented which is why Iím trusting you with the truth here."

"What, that Sirius is dead and you saw an opportunity and took it?" Harry sneered.

"Thatís enough of that," Remus warned. "Iím a grown man and quite able to make my own decisions, you know."

"Surely you canít expect us just toóto like this?" Hermione asked. "Itís nothing against you, Tonks, butó"

"Iím not Sirius?" Sirius asked wryly.

Remus couldnít prevent a snicker, and Harry scowled at him.

"I donít think itís funny!"

Sirius snickered as well, before clearing his throat. "Actually it is, at least from our point of view."

"What weíre trying to say is, well, he is Sirius."

"Thatís a horrible joke!" Hermione gasped while Ron goggled at them and Harry clenched his fists in anger.

"Just because Tonks can look like Sirius doesnít mean she is."

"Thatís true," Sirius nodded, "but while this body may be Nymphadora Tonks, my spirit, soul, whatever you prefer, is Sirius Black."

"I realize it sounds mad," Remus put in, "but itís true. Tonks must have been killed at nearly the same time, and when Siriusí body fell through the Veil, his soul latched onto the vacant shell."

"No way!" Ron muttered.

"Yes way," Sirius said firmly. "Ask me anything that only Sirius would know."

"How did you get away from Hogwarts after you were caught?" Harry challenged.

"You and Hermione used a time-turner to save both Buckbeak and myself."

The younger threeís eyes all widened, then narrowed again.

"Professor Lupin could have told you that," Hermione pointed out.

"But I didnít," Remus assured them.

"How do we know that?" Harry asked.

"Because Remus doesnít lie," Sirius snapped.

"Harry," Remus said, "Sirius was in Azkaban for a dozen years, and I never looked at another person. Do you really think Iíd fall into bed with someone else within months of him dying?"

Now it was Siriusí turn to stare at him. "Wot? You never..."

Remus shrugged. "You thought I was joking? It seems wolves really do mate for life, or at least this one does. Youíre it for me, Padfoot."

"Oh, thatís so sweet," Hermione said delightedly.

"I dunno, Harry, they might be telling the truth," Ron murmured while Sirius glared at Remus through narrowed eyes.

"Moony, have I ever told you that you have horrible timing?"

"Frequently, though you seemed to like it well enough when you were listening to me in our room at school," Remus retorted before flushing when he remembered their audience.

Harry goggled at them. "You... This isnít possible."

"True, but Iím not arguing with the results; it means I can be here for you."

"S-sirius?" Harry said hesitantly, afraid to hope despite the beaming smile on Remusí lips.

"Does this make it easier to believe?" Tonksí form melted into Siriusí, and he stepped forward to hold his arms open to the teen. "Itís me, Harry, I swear."

"It really is," Remus agreed. "It took me a bit to believe it too."

"Oh, Sirius!" Harry flung his arms around the man and clung, his eyes shut tightly. "If this is a dream, I donít want to wake up."

"Thatís what Moony said, and if it is, I donít either," Sirius whispered, pressing his face against Harryís dark, massy hair.

Watching them, Hermione sniffled, and Ron rolled his eyes.

"You know, Ronald, that isnít the way to win any points with the ladies," Sirius commented wryly though he was still hugging Harry.

Remus snorted. "Youíre a fine one to talk, Siri."

"Donít worry," Hermione sniffed, wiping her eyes, "Iím not the one Ron needs to worry about that with."

"And pardon me?" Sirius asked.

Remus eyed him. "For spending the last months at Hogwarts, you didnít notice very much."

"I was a bit preoccupied with remembering who I was!" Sirius protested as Harry straightened up, swiping quickly at his eyes.

"Heósheówhat do we call you now?"

"He is fine in private, she in public, or she all the time if itís too confusing."

"Weíll all work out what weíre comfortable with," Remus said easily. "But weíre not planning to tell anyone else," he told the teenagers. "We think itís best that everyone believes Sirius dead and Tonks alive."

"Yes, itís best to keep it simple," Hermione murmured with a quick glance at Ron.

"We never seem to manage that," Harry said wryly.

"Then you all decide whatís easiest for you, but Remus is right; no one else can know this."

"Especially not my mum," Ron said fervently, shuddering.

"Merlin, no, sheíd have a fit," Harry gasped before looking at the both of them. "Iím sorry, for what I thought," he said haltingly, looking from Sirius to Remus.

"Itís all right," Remus said. "You had no way of knowing. He had a job convincing me too if it makes you feel better."

"How did you do it?" Hermione asked.

"That you donít need to know," Sirius chuckled, shifting back to Tonksí form.

Remus grinned. "Some things arenít meant to be shared."

Hermione giggled, getting the idea while Ron and Harry looked perplexedóat least for a moment.

"Donít tell us!" Harry exclaimed, making Remus burst into laughter.

"Oh, Merlin, you sound just like James used to."

"Actually, James didnít want to see us," Sirius grinned, making Ron yelp.

"We donít want that either!"

"You might learn something," Hermione said somewhat acerbically, making Remus cast her a sympathetic glance.

"Iíd think before I answered that," Sirius said mildly.

Harry ignored the conversation in favor of inspecting his godfather closely. "So thatís why your hair has been long and black lately," he realized.

"That would be why," Sirius nodded.

"Iíve always loved your hair," Remus murmured.

"Oi! If the two of you are going to get mushy, you can do it in your own room!" Ron said almost frantically.

Seeing Harryís dismay, Remus shook his head at Ron. "Weíre not going anywhere, nor are we doing anything that shouldnít be seen in public. We havenít so much as snogged in front of you," he added.

"Yes, but, but..."

Sirius gave him a cheeky grin. "Lesson one, Ron, learn when you just canít win."

"And thatís most of the time when Sirius Black is involved," Remus added dryly, making Harry and Hermione laugh.

"Oh, I think you manage to win often enough," Harry argued.

"A very good point," Sirius laughed, holding out his hand to Remus and pulling him in for a hug.

"Of course, Remus has some advantages we donít," Hermione pointed out, stumbling slightly over the name.

"I would hope so!" Ron yelped before laughing nervously.

Remus eyed him. "I think youíre more bothered by the idea of us together than of Sirius coming back from the dead in someone elseís body. Youíre a very odd boy, Ron."

Harry snickered at that. "Weíve known that for years."

"Oi!" Ron exclaimed, glaring at them. "No need to get insulting."

"Exactly," Sirius smirked.

"Give it up," Remus advised. "Youíre not going to win." He grinned at Sirius. "Youíre still the same."

"I would hope that makes you feel better."

"It makes me feel wonderful," Remus assured him.

"I still canít believe it," Harry murmured, sitting back down on the bed and staring over at them, seeming afraid to take his eyes off Sirius for fear heíd vanish again. "And this means that weíll get to spend time together at Hogwarts as well!"

"Some of you will," Remus said grumpily.

"You arenít staying in the Shack," Sirius repeated, his tone serious.

Remus sighed. "This would be so much easier if I was an Animagus too..." His voice trailed off as his eyes widened. "Sirius! Youíre not!"

"Oh bloody hell," Sirius groaned, raking a hand through his dark hair. "Well, Iíve done it once; I can do it again."

"We can help," Harry offered.

"You mean you want to learn how to do it yourselves," Remus said dryly. "Ah well, at least youíre the same person inside, so you should still be Padfoot when you manage it again."

"True, if as a b- female dog," Sirius stuttered, catching himself before finishing what heíd started saying.

"Youíll still be Snuffles to me," Harry grinned, his laughter joined by Ron and Hermioneís.

"Hmm, thatís going to be interesting. Will you be male or female? Weíll find out whether itís the actual physical body or your perception of yourself that controls it," Remus mused, thinking it could get interesting during full moons if Padfoot was a bitch.

"So youíre going to let us help, right?" Ron asked hopefully.

Sirius glanced at Remus and shrugged slightly.

"It would appear so," Remus replied. "And Merlin help the wizarding world!"

"Especially if the three of you get the very wrong idea that youíre going to try the potion as well."

All three teens frowned, and Hermione got a stubborn look in her eyes, making Remus chuckle. "It appears that there is one benefit to being left behind while you lot return to Hogwarts."

"Wimp," Sirius muttered, locking gazes with Hermione, not giving an inch, until she sighed and slumped slightly.

"I donít see why not. Weíve figured out other spells on our own, you know."

"I know you have, but the three of you have enough going on without trying to get used to be Animagi as well; you really donít need to be transforming in the middle of Snapeís class, do you?"

Ron shuddered. "That would be bad," he agreed fervently. "Give it up, Hermione. Thereís always Polyjuice Potion if we want to transform."

"Thatís for people only," she snapped at him, shuddering at the reminder of her time spent as a cat-girl because of the mix-up with what they thought was Millicent Bulstrodeís hair.

"Sirius," Harry asked thoughtfully, "why do you need to become an Animagus again? Canít you just change to Padfoot now? With Tonksíóthe metamorphmagus powers?"

"I can, but then itís just me looking like a dog; Iím not really a dog," Sirius tried to explain.

"And Padfootís been part of our lives for much too long for us to just give himóher?--up," Remus added. "I need my foot warmer in the winter," he added with a quick smile.

"And now you see why heís so happy to have me back," Sirius chuckled.

Harry laughed. "And thatís the only reason we want to hear."

"Yes, well, just wait until I see you mooning around Ginny," Sirius smirked, making them all laugh.

"Jealousy will get you nowhere," Harry retorted.

Sirius snorted at that and glanced at Remus. "He thinks Iím jealous of him, Moony."

Remus snickered. "Little does he know. Iím the one people should be jealous of."

"So are we all good with this?" Sirius asked the three teens.

They all nodded, though Ron asked, "Youíre really not telling anyone else?"

"It would cause more problems than it would solve, and besides," Sirius added wryly, "your mother actually approves of me spending time with all of you this way."

Ron nodded, flushing slightly at the reminder of the way Molly treated Sirius. "She means well," he said.

"We know that, Ron," Hermione sighed.

"But thereís no sense upsetting her, so weíre going to keep this to ourselves. Everyoneís happy," Remus said, moving closer to Sirius.

"And youíre safer this way," Harry murmured.

"Youíre the one Iím worried about being safe," Sirius responded, stroking Remusí back.

"Yes, weíre supposed to be watching over you, not the other way around," Remus said. "But at least now we know that when this is all over, we will get a chance to be a family."

Harry beamed at that, and Sirius grinned in response. "I wonder if thereís any chance of getting you out of here; I need to go wand shopping."

"Having trouble with Tonksí?" Remus asked.

Sirius shrugged. "It works, but I havenít had a wand that feels like mine in years."

"Then weíre going to Diagon Alley," Harry said. "Itís something we can actually fix."

"But is it safe?" Hermione asked anxiously.

"Itís the safest Iím going to get outside of this house or Hogwarts, and Iím not going live in a cage," Harry stated definitely. "Oh. Since youíre not dead, Sirius, Iíll have to give your money back to you. Fortunately, no one but the goblins at Gringottís needs to know, and they wonít tell anyone."

"Give it to Remus," Sirius suggested, "I have Tonksí savings."

"Iím not taking your money, Sirius!" Remus exclaimed.

"Actually, itís Harryís money," Sirius pointed out wryly.

"No, itís not," Harry said stubbornly. "I inherited it, but youíre alive."

"Then if itís mine, I should say where it goes."

Remus folded his arms and glared at Sirius. "Didnít we have this conversation about fifteen years ago?"

"I donít remember, did we?"

"Yes! And Iím still not taking your charity."

"Fine, you can pay me back!" Sirius growled.

Remus glared. "You can be such an annoying prat sometimes!"

Unnoticed, Ron, Hermione and Harry were trying to melt into the furniture, not wanting to draw the older wizardsí attention.

"Oh, and thatís worse than being to stiff-necked to accept a gift from someone who loves you?"

"I want to be your partner in this relationship, not a burden youíll come to resent!"

Siriusí eyes narrowed, and he straightened up. "Is that what you think of me?"

"Oh, for Merlinís sake! Sirius, weíve had every possible thing go wrong for us; do you really think I want to risk even the remotest possibility of something else coming between us? I love you, you stupid git!"

"And I love you! Why canít you accept that what I have is yours! Do you really think I care about anything beyond the fact that youíre you?"

"Oh." Remus smiled shyly, his anger instantly derailed. "Well, I still donít want to sponge off you, but once all this is over, Iíll let you buy us a house. Fair enough?"

Sirius took a deep breath and nodded sharply, the tension leaving his body with the motion. "Fair enough."

Remusí head whipped around when a small voice asked, "Do you do that often?" and he stared at Harry in dismay until Ron burst into laughter.

"I keep forgetting youíre not used to having normal parents about, Harry. Thatís nothing to some of the fights Iíve seen my mum and dad have."

Hermione nodded. "Mine too. Of course, they usually have an early night after," she added with a mischievous grin.

"Oh? Oh!" Harry flushed as he grinned.

"Though seeing as itís barely past breakfast, even that will be some time away," Sirius chuckled.

"Interest," Remus said succinctly, his amber eyes bright with amusement beneath the longish bangs.

"Careful, Master Lupin, youíll be giving the children ideas," Sirius chuckled.

Harry, Ron and Hermione cast him incredulous looks. "And just how innocent were you when you were sixteen?" Harry wanted to know.

"At sixteen Iíd been stricken from the Black family tree, was an unregistered Animagus and had slept with quite a number of my classmatesónow I know thatís nothing on the things youíve gone through, but it has to count for something, eh, Harry?" Sirius asked with a grin.

Harry laughed. "Sounds like you had an interesting time of it."

"To say the least," Remus said. "Though there were a few classmates he hadnít slept with."

"Yes, some I had to wait for until after graduation."

"Because you didnít say anything!"

"You know, Moony, for a smart man, at times you arenít!"

"This is definitely more interesting than when they were behaving in front of us," Hermione murmured.

Harry grinned at her. "Isnít it though? I donít see how anyone could be around them for five minutes and not realize theyíre together."

Sirius cocked his head in their direction and sighed. "Remus, theyíre cooing over us."

"Thereíll be a quiz later," Remus said before pulling Sirius to him for a kiss.

"Always the teacher," Sirius murmured against his lips, managing to get a grope of his backside before Ron let out a yip.

"Weíll have the rest tonight," Remus said, reluctantly stepping back a bit. "Without the audience."

"Right, we have wand shopping to do."

"Itíll be interesting to see if you get the same type again," Remus mused.

"Youíll have to come up with a reason to be replacing Tonksí, err, yours," Ron commented, and Sirius nodded, drawing the supple elm wand that had been Tonksí from his sleeve.

"Good point, any ideas?"

"Youíll have to break it," Hermione said. "And itís probably not a good idea to try that in here. Iíd like to live till the end of the day."

"Havenít you heard of shield spells, Miss Granger?" Sirius teased with a wink.

"It had best be a silencing spell as well, or everyone will come charging in here," she retorted, and Sirius just looked at her, his expression amused.

"We could raise one of those as well," Harry offered.

"No need, weíre rather experienced with that particular spell," Remus said dryly, making the three teens snicker.

"So, shall we do this now, then?" Sirius asked.

Everyone nodded drawing their wands and speaking the various spells to shield themselves and the room. As soon as they were done, Remus nodded to Sirius and waited, ready to intervene if necessary. Sirius lifted Tonksí wand and, giving it a regretful look, snapped it in two.

"Nothing happened," Ron said after a moment.

"Well, that was rather anticlimactic," Remus observed.

"Itís almost as if it knew she was gone," Harry murmured.

"You canít seriously believe that wands know things," Hermione asked incredulously.

"íThe wand chooses the wizard,í" Remus quoted, shrugging slightly. "I believe Harryís correct. It knew Sirius wasnít the person it chose."

"Of course, it might have been a better idea to do that after Iíd Apparated to Diagon Alley..."

"Youíll have to floo anyway; we canít Apparate yet," Ron reminded them.

"So weíll all floo over," Remus said. "Iíll go first, then you three, then Sirius."

"All of us?" they asked in unison, excited by the chance to get out of the house.

"Definitely!" Sirius grinned.

"Children need fresh air and exercise to grow strong," Remus said with the air of quoting someone. He knew they should speak to Molly and Arthur first, but it was so good to see Sirius happy, and really, he and Sirius were Harryís guardians, not the Weasleys, whatever Molly thought.

Ron groaned, and they all looked at him. "Mum isnít going to let us go; I know it."

Seeing the expressions on Harry and Siriusí faces made Remus feel as if he were back at Hogwarts with the Marauders plotting another prank.

"Sirius is my godfather, and he said I could go," Harry said.

"But no one knows who he is, and Mrs. Weasley didnít care even when she did," Hermione pointed out logically.

"If Iíd been smart, I would have left Remus custody in my will," Sirius sighed, before brightening. "Moony, you said Molly had been pushing Tonks on you, right?" At Remusí nod, he continued, "And she obviously was over the moon about us this morning, so itís only logical that sheíd do whatever she could to make sure Harry wasnít upset over us..."

"As devious as ever," Remus chuckled. "But yes, Iím sure emotional blackmail will work."

"And, of course, if I go, Iíll need the support of my mates," Harry grinned.

"A true Marauder," Remus said, smiling crookedly. "I think itíll have to be you who asks her, Harry."

"Try to look a little upset," Ron advised, "but willing to try; sheíll like that."

"Doesnít anyone feel the least bit guilty over deceiving her?" Hermione demanded.

Sirius turned to look at her, his blue eyes startling in Tonksí heart-shaped face. "Honestly, no, not in the least."

"Weíre not doing anything hurtful," Remus said. "And I think we all need to get out of this house."

"And trust me, wand or not, if anyone tries anything, theyíll wish they hadnít." Siriusí tone deepened ominously at the last.

"Iím sure itíll be a perfectly uneventful excursion," Remus said, which made Harry snort.

"Is anything ever uneventful?"

"Good point," Sirius laughed, and Hermione shook her head.

"We can hope so in any case."

"Run along and talk to Molly, Harry," Remus urged, eager to get on with it now that theyíd decided they were doing this.

"Weíll come after you in a few minutes," Hermione assured him.

"Good idea," Ron nodded, "that way Mum wonít forget to agree to us going as well."

"Itís a good job she likes Tonks," Remus murmured, watching Harry leave and the door shut behind him.

"Plus she likes the idea of you with Tonks."

"It never would have happened."

Sirius was silent for a moment before tilting his head to study Remus. "If I had been truly gone, I wouldnít have wanted you to be alone for the rest of your life."

"It wouldnít be my first choice either, but I had twelve long years to learn that I really wasnít interested in anyone but you," Remus replied quietly, not noticing when Hermione and Ron quietly slipped out of the room.

"I should be sorry for that, that you were alone all that time, but Iím really not."

"Quite the pair, arenít we?"

"Obviously made for each otherówho else could stand us?" Sirius asked, pulling Remus into an embrace and kissing his jaw.

"No one else will ever get the chance." The softness of breasts against him struck Remus as odd at first, but a single glance into the familiar blue eyes had him forgetting any differences as he tilted Siriusí head up to kiss him.

"Moony," Sirius murmured, his mouth falling open under Remusí, his hands kneading the wide shoulders.

"Siri," Remus said, using the old nickname that had been less frequently heard in recent years. "My Siri."

"I canít believe it."

"Canít believe what?" Remus asked in confusion.

"That weíre here, that you believe me, that Harry believes usóany of it. No, I can, but part of me keeps saying I canít be this lucky to get a second chance."

Remus suddenly nipped at his chin. "Does that help prove itís real?"

"Ow!" Sirius laughed. "You prat!"

"I was just trying to be helpful," Remus replied with an air of spurious innocence.

"Oh, thatís what they call it now..."

"Of course, thatís me, always helpful."

"Always my Moony, thatís what matters."

Remus beamed. "Too right. And I think we should go down before we get distracted again."

Sirius sighed at that but nodded. "Yes, Iím looking forward to having a wand of my own after all these years."

"I can imagine. Well, no, I canít really, but Iím sure it would be horrid to have one that didnít feel right. But Ollivander will put you to rights."

"After lecturing me regarding breaking this one, Iím sure." Reluctant to let Remus go, Sirius forced himself to, though he reached for his hand as they walked out of the room and headed downstairs.

"Iím sure." Remus interlaced his fingers with Siriusí, holding his hand and reveling in his ability to do so once again. Entering the kitchen, he looked over at the three teens, who were lined up facing Molly. "Are we ready to go then?"

"Iím not sure itís wise..." Molly began before faltering. "Though I suppose if itís a short trip and the two of you keep them with you..."

"That sounds like a yes to me," Sirius grinned.

"Right then. Follow me, and weíll all have a butterbeer in a bit." Remus flooed away.

"Weíll be back soon, Mum," Ron promised as Harry and Hermione flooed out, followed quickly by him.

"And weíll keep a close eye on them," Sirius added, feeling uncomfortable at seeing the naked worry on her face.

Molly nodded, "I know, and I know itís not good to keep them so pent up, but I worry so. Still, they couldnít have better protectors than the two of you. Enjoy your afternoon, my dear."

"Thank you, Molly," Sirius got out before ducking into the empty fireplace and flooing away, stepping easily out of the fireplace in the Leaky Cauldron to see the others waiting for him.

"Right then, wand first, then we can relax a bit."

The others nodded, and they trooped out to go over to Ollivanderís, everyone curious to see what wand Sirius got.

"May I help you?" Mr. Ollivander looked up as they entered the shop, his eyes widening slightly as he saw the teens. "Harry Potter? Has something happened to your wand?"

"No, no, itís fine," Harry assured him, taking a step back when Ollivander looked as if he was going to demand it to make sure.

Sirius stepped into the gap and smiled brightly at the old man. "Actually, Iím the one in need of assistance; unfortunately my wand has been broken, and I need a replacement."

"The rest of us are simply here to observe and then to enjoy an afternoon out," Remus explained to Mr. Ollivander.

"A replacement, is it?" Ollivander tsked. "You should take better care of your wand, young woman."

Ron and Harry stifled snickers behind their hands, and Sirius gritted his teeth together to keep from snapping back at the wand maker. "I intend to; no one can afford to be without defenses right now."

"Indeed, indeed. Well then, letís see what we have." Mr. Ollivander observed Sirius closely for a moment before dragging his ladder over to a shelf and climbing to up to retrieve a box. "Try this one."

Sirius took the light-toned wand and gave it an experimental flick, wrinkling his nose at the result. "It feels flimsy."

"Hrm." Ollivander frowned, watching him. "Not that one then." He put it back in the box, which he then replaced on the shelf. After pondering for a moment, he clambered up to another shelf, this one even higher, and drew out another box that he presented to Sirius.

This time a flick engendered a spark that zipped around the shop before finally dying out. "Better, but not quite right," Sirius mused.

"At least nothingís exploding," Harry muttered.

Ollivander cast him a glance before disappearing in back in search of another possibility.

"I hope he doesnít remember what the other wand was and wonder why this one is different," Sirius said quietly while they waited.

Everyone looked at him wryly. "He remembers every wand he ever sold and who he sold it to," Remus pointed out. "Hopefully, heíll put it down to changes in your personality thanks to the war."

"If he comes out with an eleven inch alder, unicorn hair combination, then Iíll worry."

Remus snickered, and the younger threesome suddenly seemed to find something fascinating on one of the shelves while Sirius sighed. "I miss that wand; I cast a lot of good spells with it."

"And youíre going to find one that fits you perfectly now," Remus assured him. "Mr. Ollivander wonít accept anything less."

"And we wonít either," Harry added while Sirius grinned ruefully at them.

"So you have no choice but to get a brilliant wand," Remus finished, chuckling. "Youíre outnumbered, love."

"Bullied is more like it," Sirius chuckled as Ollivander came out of the back carrying several boxes.

"Try this, if you please, Nymphadora," he ordered, holding out the box. "Nine inch cherry with dragon heart-string."

Sirius plucked the wand from the box and weighed it in his hand, a slow smile growing as he gripped it and flicked his wrist, a showy shower of lights emerging from the tip and darting in formation over the teensí heads before exploding in the middle of the shop in a bright burst of multi-colored light.

"Very nice, Tonks," Remus said, only stumbling slightly over the name. "That seems to suit you well."

"And we still have our hair," Ron said thankfully, causing Sirius to chuckle.

"This one will do nicely; Iíll take it."

"Very odd," Ollivander murmured, peering up at Sirius curiously. "This wand is completely different from your last."

"This war has changed all of us," Remus said with a faint shrug, hoping that would satisfy the old wizard.

"True, but still very odd indeed..." Ollivander mused.

"Perhaps itís being in love," Sirius said dryly.

"Hmm, I wonder if I shouldnít insist all wizards return once theyíre older or married to see if the wand is still a proper fit," Ollivander said to himself, making everyone look nervous.

"Pay for it so we can leave!" Remus hissed at Sirius while the three teens clutched at their wands in their pockets and backed toward the door.

"Why are you acting like itís my fault," Sirius snapped back even as he dug in his robes, nodding as Ollivander named his fee and handing it over.

"Iím not," Remus replied, honestly startled. "I was just trying to get you to hurry."

"Oh." Sirius looked chagrined as they turned for the door where the teens were standing. "Sorry."

"Itís all right, with all youíve been through, youíre allowed to be a little sensitive. And Iíll do my best to make you feel better tonight," Remus added with a tiny smile.

Sirius grinned slightly at that. "Iím sure youíll manage quite well, Master Lupin."

"Oh Merlin, theyíre starting again," Ron whined.

"I think itís sweet," Hermione stated firmly.

"Well, Iím not going to complain seeing as it gets me Si Ė in good with an Auror," Harry finished quickly as they walked outside.

"Oh, thatís what you want, is it?" Sirius grinned.

"Iím the only one who gets to do that," Remus informed them before chuckling when the three younger wizards all made faces.

"Look, Harry, thereís the new Lightning Bolt 2005!" Ron said almost desperately, pointing toward a display in a window.

"Oh, thatís lovely, that is," Harry enthused, peering at it, and Remus grinned at Sirius.

"Go ahead. You know you want to."

"I know I do, but would Tonks?" Sirius muttered, though he was casting a covetous look at the broom.

"She liked Quidditch," Remus pointed out. "You can develop new interests. Besides, thereís just us here."

"And you call me logical," Sirius grinned. "So, boys, care to help me buy a broom?"

Hermione regarded all three with disfavor as Ron and Harry began talking excitedly, and Remus smiled wryly at her. "You get used to it."

This comment received a wry smile in reply. "I suppose, though I think we should go to the book store after theyíre done, donít you?"

Remus chuckled. "I like the way you think, Miss Granger."

"Actually, itís nice to know thereís a man who doesnít think that brooms and Quidditch are the most important things in the world."

"No, that would be S-Tonks," Remus replied with a self-deprecating smile. "But even when I was in school, I preferred books to brooms."

"You neednít say it like itís a bad thing," she laughed.

"Liking books or liking Tonks?"

"I meant liking books!"

Remus laughed. "Itís quite a good thing, actually. Being able to escape into books helped me during the bad times."

"I canít imagine what it must have been like, losing him twice like that," Hermione said quietly, cutting a glance toward the broom shop where Sirius, Harry and Ron were surrounding the hapless shopkeeper.

"I hope you never can." Remus glanced over as well, smiling when Sirius looked up and their eyes met.

"But you have each other again," Hermione said quickly, her face flushing slightly. "Thatís the important thing."

"Yes, it is," Remus agreed. "And itís far more than I believed possible even yesterday, which simply proves that nothing is ever completely hopeless. Something I believe you have all come to know."

"Yes, but itís good to be reminded." She glanced in the window at Ron and sighed.

"Witches mature faster than wizards, my dear. Sometimes, you simply have to let a little time pass."

"And some witches seem to mature faster than others."

Remus smiled. "And some wizards never completely grow up," he said dryly, watching Sirius with fond amusement.

Hermione shook her head at that, though she too was smiling. "I suppose those are the ones who need the mature witchesóor wizardsóthe most."

"It would seem so," Remus agreed. "Fortunately, those are the ones who keep the mature witches and wizards from getting too set in their ways."

Whatever Hermione was going to say was drowned out by the hoots of excitement as Ron, Harry, and Sirius left the shop, Sirius carrying a wrapped broom under one arm and grinning wildly.

Remus cocked his head slightly, fighting the smile that wanted to curve his lips. "You got a new broom?" he asked, deadpan.

"No, itís an owl," Sirius shot back before frowning slightly. "You donít think I should have?"

"Did I say that?" Remus finally broke into a smile. "Itís good to see you doing ordinary things like buying a broom again, love."

"Itís good to be out, especially with you," Sirius grinned.

"Yes, I can see how useful I was in your last purchase," Remus chuckled.

Harry laughed as well. "Itís still nice for all of us to be together."

"And Iím sure you all will enjoy our trip to Flourish and Blotts next," Hermione put in, glancing at Remus and giving a small, wicked grin.

"We donít need any more school books; why do we have to go there?" Ron whined.

"Because they want to," Sirius answered, his tone brooking no nonsense.

"Yeah, Ron, we can see if they have the newest edition of Quidditch Weekly," Harry said quickly.

"I guess," Ron grumbled.

"Think of it as practice for when youíre with a girl," Remus suggested.

"Lavender doesnít care for books that much."

"Ron," Sirius said, clapping a hand on his shoulder, momentarily disconcerted that the young wizard was taller than he was, "you really need to learn when not to make comments like that."

"What did I do?" Ron whined, seeing how Hermione was glaring at him, and Harry just sighed and shook his head.

"Never mind, Ron; weíll amuse ourselves while Remus and Hermione buy books."

"Perhaps youíll find a book on etiquette," Hermione murmured as they crossed the street as a group, heading toward the bookstore.

"Please tell me I was never that bad," Sirius murmured, leaning in toward Remus.

"No, you werenít, at least not with me. I think you might have been with some of the girls you dated in school," Remus mused.

After giving Ron a wry glance, Sirius chuckled. "Then I suppose thereís hope for him in the future."

"Once he notices the right witch," Remus murmured, glancing at the three teens.

"Or stops ignoring her." They reached the store, and Sirius pulled the door open, holding it for the others.

"The thing is, he doesnít, but he doesnít even realize what heís doing," Remus said, continuing the conversation once the three teens were past. "Heís very jealous of her."

"Sheíll set him to rights sooner or later; arenít I living proof that even the wildest wizówitches finally settle down?"

Remus laughed. "As I recall, you were the one who had to tell me what was going on with us. But yes, you are, love."

"If I hadnítówell, Iím glad I did. Now go find yourself some dusty old tomes to inspect."

"I wonder if they have a copy of the Kama Sutra," Remus said with a smirk as he headed down one aisle, leaving Sirius shaking his head, an amused expression on his face, before he went in search of Ron and Harry.

"Here you go, dear," Molly said, setting a cup of tea in front of Remus. "Itís lovely to see you and Nymphadora getting along so well, but you need to be sure not to take her for granted."

Remus nearly choked on a sip of tea and stared at Molly in disbelief, wondering why she felt the need to give him unsolicited romantic advice.

"You do understand what I mean, donít you?" she asked, sitting down across from him and taking a sip from her own steaming cup.

"Tonks and I are muddling along quite well," Remus said, musing that it was a good thing Sirius wasnít around to hear this.

"Itís obvious that she cares for you. Do you know that she and Charlie used to date? For a time I thought she might be my daughter-in-law."

Remusí eyes widened. "I think itís safe to say thatís not going to happen," he said, imagining Siriusí reaction to that suggestion.

"What I mean to say is that I hope for both of your sakes that thisóthis is something serious."

Remus sighed. "Yes, itís serious." He smiled quickly. "I expect to spend many years with h-her, assuming the war permits."

Molly beamed at that and reached across the table to pat Remusí hand. "Thatís wonderful, dear. We need more good news, and you need someone stable who cares for you."

"I think Iíve been managing to do that quite well on my own for some years now," Remus said with some acerbity. "Iím not looking for someone to take care of me."

"I didnít mean to say that you were," she exclaimed, "just that being with someone you care for means you have someone to lean onóand that they do too. I think weíre all going to need that even more in the future."

"Yes, I suppose youíre right," Remus admitted. "Itís good to have Tonks with me." He looked up at her. "I think being alone so much was driving Sirius mad there at the end."

Molly pressed her lips together and took a sip of her tea before answering. "It couldnít have been easy for him, being here after all those years in Azkaban."

"No, and having no one care about him or barely even speak to him, aside from Harry and myself, was very difficult for him," Remus said, some of his previous anger coloring his tone.

"If youíre referring to my being overly cautious in regards to him, remember that someone had to counter his recklessness," Molly commented, her tone level.

Remus stood up, his expression cold. "I happen to disagree. If heíd been offered support, he wouldnít have been so frustrated and reckless and might still be alive."

"None of us ever wanted him dead."

"I think he might have said otherwise if anyone had asked him. Iím going to wait upstairs for Tonks."

Mollyís face had paled at Remusí accusation, and she swallowed before nodding. "Of course, dear; Iíll let her know where you are."

"Thank you," Remus replied coolly before going back upstairs, seething. He was just grateful that he had Sirius back despite everything, but heíd come close to telling Molly that and telling her that was the only reason he was Ďmoving oní with Tonks.

Molly was still sitting in the kitchen some time later when Sirius breezed in, his cheeks flushed from the cold. "Good day, Molly," he said, pouring a mug of tea and adding sugar, lemon and milk.

"Hullo, Nymphadora," Molly replied, clearly uneasy. "Remus is upstairs somewhere, waiting for you." She hesitated before continuing, "You should be careful, dear. He seems to be thinking about Sirius today."

"Why would that give me cause to be careful? They were together for a long time; I would imagine he thinks of him often."

Molly shook her head. "You donít want him to start idealizing a past love, my dear. Itís not good for him or you."

Sirius regarded her solemnly, though one corner of his mouth fought to keep from curving up in a smile. "So what do you suggest I do?"

Molly frowned. "My dear, youíre a woman. Get his attention and keep it on you."

"Seduce him then?"

Molly sputtered for a moment. "I wouldnít have put it quite that bluntly..."

"But itís what you meant." Sirius hid his grin behind his mug as he took a drink.

"Well, yes," Molly admitted, chuckling finally. "Iím sure you how to distract a man."

"Howís that, Mum?" Fred asked, popping his head into the kitchen.

Molly flushed. "Go clean the library, George!" she ordered.

"George, Mum wants you to clean the library," he called over his shoulder, giving a cheeky grin. "And Tonks, if you need to practice, feel free to give me a go."

"You couldnít handle me," Sirius retorted with a wink.

"Fred!" Molly exclaimed in scandalized tones. "Apologize to Nymphadora this instant!"

"Really, itís fine, Molly," Sirius laughed.

"Yeah, Mum, besides, she practiced enough on Charlie, I reckon," Fred snickered before ducking out of the doorway.

"I apologize for my son, Nymphadora," Molly said, looking and sounding embarrassed. "Iíll have a talk with him in a bit."

"Itís all right, Molly," Sirius assured her. "Iím glad he isnít treating me any differently."

"Differently from what?" Molly asked, honestly confused.

"Fromóbecause of Remus."

"Ah, yes. Well, no reason why they should," Molly replied. "I suppose Charlie might a bit when he finds out, but the two of you parted quite some time ago."

Sirius blinked at that but recovered quickly. "Oh, um, yes. I think Iíll go see Remus now, no use letting him brood."

Although a little surprised at the rather abrupt statement, Molly nodded. "Iíll keep the children busy so they donít bother you."

"Theyíre no bother, but thank you, thatís very kind of you, Molly." That said, Sirius set his mug in the sink and ducked out of the kitchen, fleeing upstairs and tumbling into Remusí room, getting the door closed before he burst into laughter.

Remus turned to stare at him, eyebrows rising. "Whatís set you off?"

"Molly," Sirius gasped out between peals of laughter.

Remusí eyebrows rose higher. "Thatís not quite the reaction I had to my conversation with her this morning."

"Had a conversation with her about me, did you?" Sirius walked over to the desk where Remus was sitting and looped his arms around his shoulders.

"About both yous."

"Funny, that sounds like the one she and I just had." The angle of the hug changed as Sirius changed to his form and kissed the side of Remusí neck. "She told me to distract you from me."

Remus had to laugh even as he shook his head. "And how do you plan to do that?"

"Dunno; I was then shocked to find out that apparently I have a past with Charlie Weasley."

"Ah yes, Molly told me about that this morning too. Apparently sheíd hoped to have you as a daughter-in-law at one point."

Sirius shuddered at that. "Now that would have been a hell of a mess."

"I wouldnít like being a home wrecker," Remus agreed, chuckling faintly.

"Youíd get a bad reputation, Master Lupin," Sirius grinned, reaching into his pocket and drawing out a chocolate bar, waving it under Remusí nose. "Now then, I recall some studious prefect once telling me that chocolate made everything better."

"I think that depends on what youíre planning to do with that chocolate," Remus replied, pushing Siriusí robe off his shoulders.

"Why, share it with you, of course." Sirius took a step back toward the bed, then looked toward the door. "Charms, please, Moony. Itís bad enough I have Fred fantasizing about me; we donít need him listening in as well."

"Fred? Do I want to know?"

"Probably not, you might challenge him to a duel."

Remus laughed. "And with you as the prize, Iíd win, and Molly would hate me."

"No she wouldnít; she likes you," Sirius chuckled, unbuttoning Remusí sweater. "Besides, all Iíd have to do was whisper to Fred who I really am and heíd run screaming at the thought of fancying a bloke."

"You would too, wouldnít you?" Remus laughed. "Itís a good job Iím here to keep you in line." He pulled Siriusí jumper off over his head and started to work on his jeans.

"Is that what you do for me, Moony?"

"On occasion," Remus replied. "But mostly I love you."

Siriusí smile at that was one of pure happiness. "Thatís all I want in the worldóaside from having Harry with us."

"Not right now!"

"I never meant such aóoh, youíre such a kidder, Remus," Sirius growled. "I have a mind to eat all this chocolate myself."

"I was thinking of melting it on you and then licking it off."

"Only if it would make you feel better; I was given a duty..."

"Having you here makes me feel better. Having you naked would be better."

"Then stop taking your time about it," Sirius laughed.

Grinning, Remus pushed Siriusí jeans and underpants over his hips. "Do you think you can manage your boots on your own?"

"Oh, I suppose, only because it will allow you to get yours off as well." Sirius dropped to the bed and pulled off his boots before kicking his remaining clothes aside and sprawling back on the bed, slowly unwrapping the chocolate bar as he watched Remus strip.

A moment later, naked, Remus stretched out next to Sirius, leaning in for a kiss. Sirius sighed as their lips closed together, his free hand tangling in Remusí hair, holding him close.

"Have I mentioned how glad I am to have you back?" Remus murmured against his lips, one hand sliding between them to stroke Siriusí groin.

"Only a few times, not nearly as many times as Iíve said how glad I am to be back," Sirius sighed, arching up into Remusí touch and bringing the candy up to his lips so he could take a bite.

Remus nibbled at the bar, then kissed Sirius again, the melting chocolate in his mouth shared between them. "Mmm, tastes good, but not as good as you," Sirius whispered, licking at Remusí mouth.

"Likewise," Remus whispered before sliding downward, laying a series of sucking kisses along Siriusí throat while his fingers continued teasing the hardening shaft.

"Thoughtóthought I was supposed to be the one seducing you," Sirius groaned, arching upward, the chocolate falling to the sheets beside him as he clutched at Remusí shoulders.

"You are," Remus assured him, sliding a little lower to catch a peaked nipple between his teeth.

"Seems like seduction should be a little more active than this."

"Feel free to get more active whenever you like," Remus said before flicking his tongue over the captured nipple.

"Difficult to when youíre making it hard to think." As he spoke, Siriusí fingers moved restlessly over Remusí shoulders and one leg hooked over his hip.

"Iím just having my tea."

"I think youíre missing the sweet."

"Not in the least. I have my favorite right here." Remus slid lower to lick Siriusí shaft, making his gasp and cry out.

"Iíve never been accused of being sweet."

"Itís my well-kept secret," Remus assured him. He looked up, meeting Siriusí gaze as he curled a fist around Siriusí erection and angled it toward his lips, then ran his tongue over the head.

Sirius eyes went half-lidded with pleasure, and he moaned out Remusí name, slowly releasing his shoulders and folding his arms behind his head, giving his lover free access to his body.

"You taste so good," Remus whispered, lapping at him eagerly while sliding his fingers between Siriusí cheeks to lightly stroke the sensitive skin there.

"Better than chocolate?" Sirius asked, his tone rough and breathy.

"Better than anything." Remus looked up at him again while continuing to lick, making soft noises of pleasure as he tasted Siriusí precome.

"Feel better than anything." Siriusí fingers tightened on his wrists, and he shifted restlessly beneath Remus, the tip of his erection rubbing over Remusí lips.

"So good," Remus whispered, opening his mouth wider to take Sirius in, his cheeks hollowing as he suckled, the action causing Sirius to shudder and give a guttural cry, bucking up off the bed and deeper into Remusí mouth.

Remus hummed with pleasure, his finger pushing into Sirius.

"Remus!" Siriusí cry was sharp and loud, and he squirmed between Remusí hand and mouth. Enjoying the reaction, Remus took him deeper into his throat while twisting his finger, urging Sirius to move and take what he wanted.

At that, Sirius froze for a second before twisting almost violently, driving upward and at the same time clenching down on Remusí finger.

Remus reached up with his free hand, twining his fingers through Siriusí, and he bobbed his head up and down, fucking his mouth on Sirius.

"Want you in me when I come," Sirius gasped, his whole body tensing with the fight to keep control.

Remus had been planning to make Sirius come first and then take him, but the words sent a shiver of lust through him, and he surged up Siriusí body, taking his mouth in a hungry kiss after murmuring a charm to slick himself up.

"Now," Sirius snarled, clawing at Remusí back and spreading his legs, tilting his hips and rubbing their groins together, the warm slickness making him gasp.

"Yes," Remus rasped, squirming to position himself and then pushing forward, letting out a long, low groan of pleasure as Siriusí body surrounded him.

Instantly all the tension left Sirius, and he smiled lazily up at Remus as he stroked his hands over his back, tracing old scars and the fresh welts heíd just raised there.

"Love you," Remus whispered, slowly sliding deeper until his balls were pressed against Siriusí ass, and then he stilled, staring into the silvery blue eyes.

"Always," Sirius promised, sitting up enough to kiss him.

"Going to hold you to that," Remus whispered into the kiss, sliding his hands under Siriusí ass to raise him, somehow pressing them even closer together.

"And is this supposed to bother me? I plan on being with you until weíre both older than Dumbledore," Sirius rasped, hitching his knees up around Remusí hips and shivering at the way he shifted within him.

"Good. That might almost be enough." Remus lowered his head to nuzzle Siriusí throat then bit gently at his Adamís apple.

"And then we can be ghosts together, haunt the Slytherin dungeon and scare the snakes all the time," Sirius chuckled, stroking Remusí back.

Remus laughed. "You mad git. Weíll spend eternity in the Room of Requirements, shagging through the ages."

"Mmm, you always were the smart one, Moony. Weíll make all the other ghosts jealous."

"They can get their own lovers. Iím not sharing." Remus slowly drew back, groaning with delight at the friction, until only the head remained inside Sirius, and then he stilled again, fighting the urge to thrust deep.

"Good thing because then Iíd have to kill them even though they were dead." Sirius squirmed, trying to get Remus deeper in him again.

"Bloody hell," Remus gasped, unable to resist any longer and pushing back into Sirius. "Greedy git."

"And you love me that way," Sirius grinned, his eyes going unfocused and dark when Remus rubbed over his prostate.

"Yes, I do," Remus agreed, grinning. He caught Siriusí lower lip between his teeth and tugged gently. Siriusí lopsided grin remained, and he worked a hand between them, stroking himself in time with Remusí thrusts.

Remus suddenly grinned wickedly and rolled them over so he was on his back with Sirius on top of him. "Since you seem to want to do the work..."

"Bloody hell, Moony," Sirius shouted, almost losing his balance before catching himself with a hand on Remusí chest. "Trying to kill me again?" This was asked with a bark of laughter as he rubbed his thumb over Remusí nipple, tugging at the tight peak as he rocked over him.

"Never. Weíre going to grow old and grey together," Remus assured him, biting his lip and squirming as Sirius toyed with him.

"Just so long as itís together." Sirius leaned in for a kiss before straightening up and moving faster, one hand on Remusí chest, the other stroking himself.

"Wonít let it be any other way," Remus vowed, his hips thrusting up to match Siriusí rhythm, both of them falling quiet except for near-silent gasps and moans as they rocked together until Sirius finally cried out and shuddered, his come gouting over his hand and Remusí chest.

"Sirius!" Remus groaned out his name, gasping as Sirius rippled around him, and then he flipped them over again, pounding into Sirius until he came as well, spasms of pleasure wracking his frame, Sirius watching avidly as his features twisted and finally relaxed.

"My Moony," he murmured, stroking Remusí back as he relaxed.

"Always," Remus whispered, pressing a kiss to the shoulder pillowing his head.

"So," Sirius asked after a time, "did I manage to distract you from me?"

"Not in the least. All I was thinking about, as little as I could think, was you."

"Oh damn, Iíll have to do it again and soon."

"Iím heartbroken by the prospect."

"I can tell; Iíll do my best to console you."

"I have every confidence in you," Remus said with mock solemnity, and Sirius chuckled.

"To get you in trouble you mean."

"You keep me from getting too staid and set in my ways."

"And you keep me from getting too wild; weíre a perfect match."

"Which is why you had to come back to me. I should have known I couldnít lose you."

"I keep telling you Iím a bad knut; youíll never be rid of me." Sirius grinned at that and kissed the tip of Remusí nose.

"Good!" Remus sighed softly when he slid out of Sirius. "Time to do it again?" he suggested with a wicked grin.

"Why, Master Lupin, Iíve turned you in to a sex fiend!" Sirius laughed, rolling them both over and kissing him.

"You did that the first day we fell into bed together," Remus chuckled. "And I havenít heard any complaints."

Sirius shrugged and kissed him again. "Thatís because there arenít any."

"Glad to hear it." Remus smiled. "None on my part either, in case you were wondering. Well, perhaps one." He pretended to consider for a moment. "You should have said something seventh year so we didnít waste all that time we could have been shagging."

"Prat!" Sirius laughed. "And if I had, youíd have thought I was having one off on you and never properly listened."

"Perhaps," Remus admitted with a laugh. "Though it all worked out in the end. In your end today."

Siriusí eyebrows rose. "Was that supposed to be a joke?"

Remus pouted at him, and Sirius snickered and nipped at his protruding lip. "Iím glad you can laugh now; I missed it even when I didnít know why."

Remus smiled warmly. "I can laugh because Iím happy now, even with all thatís going on and everything that we still have to face, I know weíll do it together."

"You and Harry, you make my world complete," Sirius murmured.

"Being a family completes us."

Sirius was quiet a moment, then snickered.

"What?" Remus raised his head to eye Sirius.

"Just donít expect me to be popping out any kids, got it?"

Remus burst into laughter. "Well, you are the girl in this relationship..."

Sirius snorted and shifted back to Tonksí form, his expression never changing. "And even as a girl, I can still take you down, Moony; I know your weak spots." With that he began to tickle Remus in the ribs, making the other man howl with laughter.

"Uncle, uncle," he gasped. "You win."

Sirius smirked at that and folded his arms on Remusí chest, resting his chin on them. "And I have my prize right here."

Remus beamed. "Likewise."

END

 

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