( Part 7: Peter will make it, thanks to Madam Pomfrey's expert care, Gideon and Fabian are suspicious, Sirius has had enough, and Remus really does want to. )
12th August: "Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!" -Dumbledore, Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone
One, two, three, four…four large yellow roses on the carpet between the couch and the fireplace, Sirius counted again on his twelfth tour of Hestia's front room. Three china boxes, also with roses, and an unusual glass clock, its gears whirring, on the mantle piece. The fussy clock and delicate knickknacks seemed so out of character for the Hestia he saw at Order meetings. He opened his mouth to comment that you never really knew someone until you saw what they'd put over the fire in their front room, just to hear something other than the hum of that clock and Remus' fingers tap-tap-tapping on the window pane, when a firm hand closed over his shoulder.
"Madam Pomfrey's doing everything possible," Dumbledore said serenely and Sirius huffed out a breath filled with frustration and worry. Over an hour and there was no news at all. Sirius bit back the urge to serenely scream at Dumbledore that that was not bloody good enough.
Remus turned from the window where he'd had himself stationed ever since they had arrived at Hestia's and practically thrown Peter at Madam Pomfrey. He looked drawn and tense as he stood there in the strange room, hands hanging awkwardly by his sides. At least the tapping had stopped.
James and Lily perched uncomfortably on the huge, lavender couch, both sitting stiffly as if they were waiting to hear what they'd received for detention. James was hunched over, favoring the still-healing shoulder that Pomfrey had sorted in a few moments with a silent spell and a foul-smelling poultice.
Everyone else had gone home after a quick, tense briefing, during which they had been bizarrely crowded into Hestia's front room. Sirius had spent most of it staring at the almost chaotic movements within the strange clock. He had felt stabs of irritation when Moody and Dumbledore had interrupted the meeting frequently to mutter under their breath to each other. All he could picture in his mind was Peter's limp form flopping like a doll as Madam Pomfrey deftly deposited him on Hestia's bed, and they were wasting time.
James, Lily and Remus had looked to be in as much of a daze as Sirius felt until Fabian and Gideon had blustered that someone must have tipped off the Death Eaters that the Order was sending scouts and that could only mean one thing. Then they'd all snapped to attention and doubledtheir attempts to remember anything that might give a clue as to what had happened.
At the end of the meeting, Moody had finally gone after the Muggle woman. She had still not uttered a peep, hidden away as she was in Hestia's spare room where Moody had told Remus to deposit her after Moody had sedated her. After several frustrating attempts, he saw that he would get no helpful information from her and Obliviated her. Lily, who had never seen anyone who'd been both Confunded and Obliviated, was distressed by the results and after much arguing, it was agreed that Frank and Alice would at least see her to the Constable's in her village.
Dumbledore crossed over to the ornate, wooden wireless and waved his hand over it. Soft tones of chamber music banished the edgy quiet of the house and Sirius found he could breathe freely again.
A minute later, Pomfrey finally emerged from the bedroom. "He'll be fine in a few days," she announced in the way only she had of being terse and comforting at the same time. She then looked at Dumbledore and said, "I need a word with you, Headmaster."
Sirius sank deeply into a plush chair and closed his eyes. The music Dumbledore had put on was something from his memory – from deep in his childhood – and it gave him a sense of calm and comfort that took him by surprise. He'd hated the lessons, the hours spent in the parlour sitting at the piano as if he had a broomstick up his arse while a parade of teachers whom he and Regulus frightened off one-by-one drilled them in scales. But the music that he'd eventually learned to play was another story entirely.
Regulus hated practicing even more than he hated the lessons. He would squirm and fidget and look as if he would rather chew off his own foot than be there. It was the one time that Sirius was better behaved than Regulus. He didn't mean to do it, and his parents' approval almost made him want to hate it, but when the music flew from his fingers and filled his head, he felt a happiness and a peace he didn't know at any other time.
Without a word, Hestia bustled into the room carrying a tea tray that she plunked unceremoniously on the coffee table and then returned to Peter and Madam Pomfrey. They all seemed to be overlong in preparing their tea, in no hurry to leave each other or Peter.
"I should probably be off," Remus said hesitantly as if he were waiting for the others to accuse him of being disloyal. "Now that we're certain Wormtail's on the mend, I mean."
Sirius felt his stomach twist. "You're going home, to your parents,' tonight?"
"Yeah. Where else would I go?" Remus asked, a slight warning in his tone and a sideways glance at Lily.
"Right. No-where apparently," Sirius grumbled. He couldn't believe it. After everything they'd been through today and here they were all in one piece and they hadn't been alone together in weeks and Remus wasn't even going to consider coming home with him. Sirius had assumed that Remus would want to, and now he felt his face grow hot and prickly.
"Sirius, this was supposed to be quick. I thought we'd be finished this evening. My father…" Remus said in a pleading tone, one eye still on Lily and, to a lesser extent, James, who were now looking up in interest.
"If you don't want to, just say the word and I'll stop asking," Sirius said, his voice rising. Remus would never want such a conversation to take place in front of James and Lily, but the burn of rejection combined with fatigue and the crashing of adrenalinewas clouding his head and he found he couldn't stop.
James cleared his throat and shot him a look that said, shut up idiot, and Lily looked back and forth between the two, an odd expression dawning in her eyes.
Remus leapt up, and strode with determination across the room. He grabbed Sirius' hand, hauling him up out of the chair. Sirius found himself being pulled roughly down the corridor and into the stale air of the spare room that had lately been occupied by the Muggle woman. He almost stumbled over the ridiculous purple velvet chaise lounge, but regained his balance as Remus turned to face him.
"I'm to see a man my father knows about a job in precisely seven hours," Remus said, his voice sounding as if he were speaking to a slightly idiotic and ill-behaved first-year. "It's not a great job, but it's a job. It's not what I want to do. It's what I have to do."
"You're not my bloody prefect," Sirius snapped. "Don't fucking scold me."
"Sorry," Remus said quickly, looking surprised. He sunk down onto the end of the chaise longue and Sirius felt slightly sheepish when hesaw the worry in Remus' eyes. There was a small tremor in his voice as he said, "Please don't make this about me choosing a promise I made to my Dad over you because that is not what it is. I can't afford to have them too peeved with me."
"Oh. Right," Sirius said, letting himself flop down next to Remus. His mood softened slightly when Remus looked at him through his fringe, but his feeling of being aggrieved seemed to want to hang on a bit longer.
Remus tentatively placed his hand over Sirius' own, where it lay on the chaise, their fair skin in stark contrast to vivid purple velvet.
"You can hardly blame me. You've been avoiding being alone with me like Dragon Pox," Sirius huffed.
Remus gave him a bewildered look that Sirius found incredibly charming in spite of himself and asked, "Padfoot, how can you think that?" Before Sirius could answer, Remus moved close and placed his hands on either side of Sirius' face, threading his fingers into the hair behind his ears.
Sirius felt his lips quirk into a little smile. He knew he was about to be kissed and he wondered for a moment why, if his friends found what they saw as tantrums as irritating as they said, they almost always gave him just what he wanted when he threw a fit.
Remus leaned in and Sirius pulled back just a fraction so he could hear Remus' breath hitch the moment before he kissed him. Remus laughed softly, which was even better, and pulled Sirius to him in a kiss that melted a portion of his brain.
"I want to," Remus whispered against Sirius' mouth.
"If you don't work something out soon, I'll be forced to abduct you," Sirius said around soft touches of lips.
"I'll bear that in mind," Remus said and the way he took Sirius' mouth in the next kiss left no doubt that Remus was not at all opposed to the idea.