Characters: Sirius, Remus.
Time: June, 1995.
Disclaimer: Ms. Rowling owns all recognisable characters and plot-points. This is being done for pleasure, not profit.
“Stop looking at the eggs, Remus. They’re burnt and you can’t help that now.”
“No. I know.” He spares a last glance at them, then turns fully around. “What is it?”
“I asked what Harry was like, in his third year.”
“Well,” he fiddles with his cup of (bitter) tea. Sirius’ arrival three days ago has completely thrown off his (mediocre at best) cooking. “He didn’t know who I was, mind, so it’s mostly an impersonal judgement. He’s a good student...not as brilliant as James was, but he’s intelligent. A bit overshadowed by Hermione, though. A great Seeker, youngest in a century; ’course, that Firebolt helps,” he adds with a grin. “He’s talented at Defense, but I suppose that’s to be expected. Never seen a thirteen-year-old produce a corporeal Patronus.”
“Prongs.” For a stunned second he’s sure Sirius has finally gone over the bend. “His Patronus is Prongs, you know. Got the shock of my life—Prongs driving away a hundred Dementors. Thought I’d died.” But he says it wistfully, head bowed over a plate of (as yet untouched) toast.
“That’s all there is to say, really,” he manages when fully five minutes pass in silence. “You saw all three on and off the last year. What d’you think of them?”
“They’re a lot nicer than we were at that age.” Sirius grins, suddenly looking more like thirty-five than fifty. “But it’s an odd little group...as brash as we were, but a lot less informed about the outside world. An escaped convict was their only source of information. Don’t tell me that’s not weird.”
“Molly Weasley has always believed in behaving like an ostrich,” he says mildly. “Especially since Gideon and Fabian died. Hermione’s parents are both Muggles and I rather doubt they have any idea what their daughter is mixed up in.”
“Still. Ron has three brothers outside school. They should be telling him everything he needs to know. We used to get three letters a week from Andromeda and Lu...” But it’s twenty years later, now, and Malfoy is firmly entrenched on the other side of Us and Them.
“I agree. They ought to know the real facts. Otherwise they’ll just get manipulated, most likely by Malfoy.”
“Hmm. Lucius Malfoy’s son. Bit of a snob, really. Good in Potions. Well, either that or Severus is sucking up to his father.” Remus grins, remembering an interesting little incident. “Oh, he got slapped by Hermione once.”
“Let’s just hope Lucius didn’t hear that. Boy doesn’t sound much like him.” Or maybe, he thinks bitterly, you’re just idealising Malfoy.
“More like, well, like Regulus,” he offers hesitantly. Sirius’ (long dead) brother has always been off-limits.
Now, however, Sirius nods. “That’ll be the Black blood in him. He should turn out well enough. ’Course, he and Harry should solve their differences now, unless they want the rest of the Ten to do it for them in...five years.”
“Sirius, the...the Council of the Ten Tribes was dissolved in ’83.”
“What?” He shrinks visibly, shoulders slumping; looking, Remus thinks wryly, like a Muggle eleven-year-old being informed that they’re magic, or rather, like a pure blood being told they’re a Squib. “But the Ten started soon after Hogwarts. It predates the Ministry. Hell, it started the Ministry. How can...who did it?”
“Lucius? But the Ten can only be dissolved by the unanimous vote of the Five Families.” In ’83, Voldemort banished, himself and Rodolphus in prison, James dead... “Merlin and Morgana, Lucius was the Five, wasn’t he?”
“He was very nearly the Ten, Sirius.” He (and Lily) always regarded the Ten to be a remnant of the immense powers purebloods once had, an unfair privilege unsuited to a democracy. But he does remember that it had been one of the (atrociously few) constants in James and Sirius’ life during the war years, all their future plans had revolved round the Ten. “Can’t you re-form it? After the war is over?”
“There aren’t enough of us left with blood and clout and money. The Ten is gone for good.” He smiles tiredly, looking as haggard as the day he arrived. “What of the Board of Governors, then? How are they functioning without us?”
Formed in the decades after the death of the last Founder (Hufflepuff), the Board of Governors had at first been exclusively the fief of the Council. After the Ministry was formed, two more chairs had been filled by the Minister for Education and his Assistant. Now, however...
“In ’84,” Remus says, choosing his words carefully, “the Ministry decided that the Board should be re-formed. They held elections in ’85, twelve Governors, same as before, for twenty years.”
“Twelve, huh?” He doesn’t think he’s ever heard Sirius speak like this, with barely-restrained disdain. “Let me guess— four purebloods, four halfbloods and four Muggleborns; all nice and equal.”
“Something like that,” he admits. “Malfoy kept his seat till ’92. Don’t know whether he was thrown out or resigned voluntarily.”
Sirius closes his eyes, as if to ward off the idea of a Malfoy being subjected to the indignity of being “thrown out” of a seat that had been his in perpetuity. “Poor Lucius,” he mumbles, low enough for Remus to miss it.
“Sirius?” Remus asks cautiously, a while later. “Are you okay?”
“I wish I’d never escaped from Azkaban,” he growls, voice harsh, eyes back on the toast. “At least, there I knew my nightmares.”
“Sirius, I know it must be hard, but you can try to build a new life now...” he falters, realising just how pathetic that sounds.
“That’s just it, Remus. This is not my life, this is not my world.” He sighs, matted hair further obscuring his face. “And this isn’t my war, because no matter how it ends, no matter who wins, my folk die.”
“Sirius,” he tries again, wishing, not for the first time, that James was here to handle this. James would know what to say, what to do. But James lies rotting in an ancient crypt and it’s up to him to keep Sirius from following. “Think of Harry. Harry needs you.”
“No, he doesn’t.” This calm, dead voice is worse than the anger of a moment ago, because at least anger can be used and anything is better than this uncharacteristic acceptance. “Harry needs someone sane and whole, who knows what is happening and can offer worthwhile advice. He doesn’t need a man who has spent twelve years locked in his own mind, a man fifteen years out of place.”
“Sirius.” But what can he say? What is there to say?
“Don’t worry, Moony.” The grey eyes raised to his face are wet. (He rather suspects the toast has become rather salty.) “I’ll play at soldiers with the rest of the Order, like a good little rebel. What was it we used to say last time? Jog my memory, Moony.”
“Damn the dogma...” he starts, seeing now how ironic this must have been last time.
“Right you are. Damn the dogma, damn the Death-Eaters, damn the Dark Lord. Well, damn Dumbledore for dragging out dead men and damn the Dementors for not letting me die properly.”
“Sirius,” he reaches across the table to put a hand on Sirius’ but he flinches at the touch.
“Don’t. Don’t comfort me. Don’t tell me it’ll be alright. Don’t psychoanalyse me. I don’t want it. Just go.”
He gets up slowly, pushing the chair back, passing Sirius without a single glance. If an empty room (and a plate of toast to cry into) is all he can offer Sirius, then he will do that graciously.
If (when he returns an hour later) it disturbs him to find a plate of (perfectly conjured) bacon and eggs on the table and no trace of anything out of the ordinary in Sirius’ manner (save a nearly-hidden desperation in his dead eyes), he keeps it to himself.
- Current Mood: good