Title: Storytelling

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Harry Potter

Rating: PG13 for smarm

Parings: Sirius/Remus and implied James/Lily (not that that's a surprise)

Spoilers: If you haven't read the third book, you probably won't follow this very well

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter. I write this only in fun and mean no harm.

Summary: Harry's got a cold and Sirius and Remus amuse him with a before bedtime story from their days at Hogwarts

Note: It might help to read my fic 'Under House Arrest' before this one for a few details, but it's not necessary

Feedback: I'd love some





            "Gah! It's freezing out there!" Harry exclaimed, giving his arms a few strong shakes and kicking my front door closed behind him with a balanced, coordinated movement worthy of his Quidditch days.


            I hurried over with a thick blanket. "You're soaked to the skin. Hurry. Off with your robes or you'll make that cold of yours even worse." Though he hadn't admitted his illness or let it stop him from work, I certainly wasn't about to let that stop me from taking care of him.


            Harry nodded, rain dripping from every bit of him from shoes to hair. He pulled off his cloak, heavy with the weight of the rain. Meaning to hang it on the coat rack, he turned. But a sudden, involuntary gasp froze him, and the cloak slipped from his fingers. His nostrils gave a twitch, his green eyes slammed shut. "uh...huh-CHUH!" Harry sneezed freely, taking a wobbly step backwards as he was snapped forward at the waist. I reached out and grasped an almost flailing arm to steady him. "heh-CHESHH! Chishh!" He sneezed quite violently, rain drops going everywhere as his body shook helplessly. Harry gave a strong sniffle and pried his arm out of my grasp gently, to rub at his nose. "'Scuse me," he said, his voice sounding thick.


            "Come on, lad. Off with your clothes," I insisted. If he waited until he was out of sneezes before changing, he'd end up with pneumonia. He gave me a mischievous look with a raised eyebrow at my comment, but continued to undress just the same. His robe clung to him, and he had to tug hard to free himself from it. He made to drop it to the floor as well, but Sirius, perhaps with the sound of the sneezes to draw him over, came by. He took the robe and hung up the cloak with one smooth movement, then helped Harry off with his sweater and shirt, though stopped at the trousers; Harry could do those well enough on his own. Once the lad was down to his undies, I quickly wrapped the blanket around him and did a simple warming spell on it.


            Sirius thrust the sopping wet clothes into my arms as he took Harry by the shoulders and directed him over to our couch. Harry settled on the soft green fabric and squashy pillows, pulling his legs up beneath him and under the blanket as well. He clutched the folds tight against his chest as he shivered and waited for his body temperature to adjust. I quickly disposed of the garments in the tub and hurried to make the tea, glancing over at the pair on the couch, for Sirius had settled down closer to the other end.


            When the tea was ready, I brought it over right away in two mugs. Sirius, leaning forward, had his hand pressed upon Harry's forehead. Harry leaned forward slightly to allow the touch, his eyes closed, nose sniffling every few seconds. Seeing the familiar twitch and fall of Harry's face, indicating an oncoming sneeze, I made to pull out my handkerchief. But Sirius beat me to it, brandishing his own and lifting it to Harry's face for him.


            "huh-Chushh! Heh-CHUSHH! Ih-Chushh! Hah-Shehhh!" Somewhere amidst the bout of sneezing, Harry's hand had replaced Sirius', and he turned as he blew his own nose rather copiously. "There..." he stated with relief and another sniffle. "That's a bit better."


            I climbed over the arm of the couch, stepping onto the cushions and folding myself, legs and all, in the small space between the couch arm and Sirius's warm body. I reached between Sirius and the couch to extend the cup. "Tea," I said, forcing it on Harry. I drank from the other cup and then handed it off to share with Sirius.


            "Thags, Rebus," he snuffled as the steam from the tea made his nose run again. He gave it a one-handed blow, keeping Sirius' handkerchief at the ready.


            I wrapped one arm casually over Sirius' shoulder, bending it to get a good grasp of the man as I squeezed him against me in a hug. I felt him relax back against me lazily and I couldn't help but crane my neck to give him a warm, tender kiss on his neck. Harry, handkerchief in one hand, tea cup in the other, simply smiled back at us. I knew what he must be thinking. His two uncles, getting up there in age, and still touching as if they were schoolboys. His two crazy, madly in love uncles. But I had twelve years and more to make up for and I was damned if I'd stop my tenderness, kissings and gropings for anything.


            "Drink your tea," Sirius said to Harry out of the corner of his mouth as the rest of his mouth returned the kiss against my lips. His eyes returned to mine and we exchanged the briefest moments of worry before breaking off.


            Harry nodded and took a few gulps. "I appreciate you letting me stay here until I find my own flat," he said softly. He hadn't even needed to ask, and we had welcomed him openly with hugs and four strong arms to help him move his things. "But you don't have to take care of me like I'm a child."


           "Ah, and that's where you've gone wrong," Sirius said, and I nodded my agreement to Harry from over his shoulder. "We're more than happy to take you in and to take care of you when you're sick. After all, your father did the same for me."


*          *          *


            I was drowsy, having been up far too long last night finishing homework. It seemed no matter how much work I did and how little James and Sirius did, they two always managed to pull out higher marks. Of course mine were usually much higher than Peter's, but that wasn't saying much as he didn't try hard either. I had barely been able to pull myself out of bed this morning, and a few tugs at my blankets from James had been helpful. I looked myself over in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, James to my right at another sink. Dark circles beneath my eyes, uncombed hair, pale complexion. It had only been a few days since my last transformation and I was still showing signs of it. All I seemed to feel like doing was crawling back into bed for a long sleep. But tonight proved to be just as miserable. We had a long walk to a nearby mountain for a practical astronomy-mixed-with-survival-skills lesson. And we weren't expected to be done until at least sun-up. No one, frankly, was much looking forward to it and I would have done practically anything to get out of it and spend the night in my own bed, or at least Sirius'.


            "Remus! James!" the door to the bathroom flew open and a very breathless Peter ran in. A few younger students, startled and wearing only towels on the way to or from the showers, darted away from the door. Another few made themselves scarce on purpose. I wouldn't go as far as to say we had a certain sway with the other Gryffindors, but they respected us for more than James' amazing abilities on the Quidditch field and the points we frequently earned for the house. Peter ran to us, leaning on a sink, clutching a towel rack to stay upright as he fought to catch his breath.


            I continued to maneuver my toothbrush around in mouth, while James spat mouthwash out into the basin beside me. Peppermint flavor, a favorite of Lily's apparently. "What is it Pete?" James asked, running a hand through his hair to very little effect. The hair seemed to spring right back into a mess the moment his fingers cleared the jet black strands.


            "It's Sirius!" he gasped, clutching at a stitch in his side. I spit my mouthful out in surprise and dragged my arm across my face in a rough wipe. "He's in an awful way... and he's calling for you."


            Without bothering to think, James and I both took off at a run, with Peter close at our heels, panting and wheezing. We slid on the stairs, still in our socks and pajamas, but managed to keep each other up and moving even as we burst through the door to the dormitory. The morning sun shined through the tower window, illuminating all of the empty beds. And all of the beds were indeed empty save one, with curtains drawn closed. There were loud moans and groans emanating from it, keeping us in motion as we ran for the bed. I pulled back the hangings on one side and James did the same on the other.


            Peter had been right; Sirius looked dreadfully unwell. His nose was running but he seemed instead preoccupied with his stomach. His arms were wrapped tightly around his middle and he was rolling around on the bed in obviously severe pain.


            "Padfoot! What's the matter?" I was amazed to hear how James could sound both worried and comforting at the same time.


            Sirius looked up at both of us, groaning, sniffling. "My stomach..." he moaned. "And my... head..." he coughed harshly, his whole body shaking. He settled, sniffled, and looked up at me. Hurt, pale puppy dog eyes that penetrated me completely. "I don't feel so good."


            I scrambled up onto the bed at once, putting my hand on his back and his head in my lap. I ran my fingers through his hair, petting him, stroking him. He shook with a chill, then froze against me. "Harshhuhh! Tchuhhh!" He sneezed wetly, freely. Peter, startled, took a step backwards. Wizards, even young ones, didn't get sick very easily.


            James pulled out a handkerchief and handed it over to me, and I rubbed at Sirius' nose with it gently. Sirius only moaned, one hand leaving his stomach to clutch at his head. "Ohhhh... hurts..." he moaned, keeping his eyes closed.


            I brushed the back of his hand with my fingers lightly. "Shhh, Love. You'll be all right." I had no idea about that of course. I didn't ever know what was wrong with him. What *was* wrong with him?


            "I think we should get him down to Madam Pomfrey," James rightly suggested.


            Sirius gave a weak nod, still curled and in pain. It looked as though he wasn't going to want to straighten out as much as needed to walk all the way down to the hospital wing. But with Peter gently coaxing from the floor and me pushing from the bed, we managed to get Sirius standing on the floor. But all at once, James' free arms were needed as the young man's eyes rolled back into his head, he swayed, and collapsed. I bounded over to the side of the bed, holding my arms out to him as if I were in any position to do anything. It was James who caught him and lifted him back onto the bed.


            "Is he all right?" came Peter's concerned voice, as he moved in, his face above Sirius'.


            "He's fainted," James replied, a hand on Peter's shoulder to guide him back in order to give Sirius more room.


            I slapped him gently on the cheek, but the man did not revive quickly. "Maybe a cold compress for his forehead?" I suggested with a shrug.


            James narrowed his eyes at me in confusion. "What's that for?"


            I shook my head. "I dunno. That's what they do in all the films."


            "I'm on it," Peter volunteered, darting from the room and back up and down the stairs to the bathroom. James and I passed the time by exchanging worried looks.


            Sirius awoke slowly, on his own, just as Peter returned with the cold compress. "Wha...?" I put it on his forehead anyway, which made him shiver again.


            "You passed out," explained James, looking concerned. I was glad he'd used that particular terminology. I wasn't exactly sure Sirius would have taken well to being told he fainted. Girls faint. Men pass out, if they have to do one or the other, that is.


            "I... ohh, my head!" he put his hand to his head, feeling the washcloth and shivering again in reaction.


            "Shhhh..." I tried to calm him, but I don't think it worked too well. He still looked to be in pain.


            Peter tried, as well. "Maybe you'll feel better after you have a bit of breakfast?"


            Sirius groaned, wrapping his arms around his stomach once more. "Oh *please* don't mention food!" James, Peter and I looked at each other with the same look of astonished horror. Padfoot not hungry? He must have been much sicker than we all thought.


            "That's it. I'm going to get Madam Pomfrey right now," James said definitively before either Peter or I could say the very same thing.


            But just then, Sirius seized up and sneezed again. "HEHshhh! Heh-Ketchh!" Suddenly, he transformed and Sirius's hand in mine became a large, black, furry paw. The dog's eyes were closed, but his nostrils twitched violently as he gave another sneeze. "Ihshhh!" And before I could move towards the handkerchief, Sirius was back in human form again for a final two sneezes. "heh-Cheshhh! Ehshhhh!"


            We three stared at him, rather speechless as he took up the handkerchief and gave his nose a few clearing blows. He noticed the stares and, uncomfortably, asked "What's wrong?" He rubbed at his nose hard with the handkerchief. "My nose isn't running that badly is it?"


            "No," I replied, just as the others answered the same. "It's just that... you don't know what just happened?"


            He sniffled and coughed a few times. "Yeah, I sneezed. Sniff! Sniff! I think I might be coming down with a cold..."


            James, looking puzzled, shook his head. "No. What we mean is, well, you transformed midway through your sneezes."


            Sirius looked puzzled and shook his head. "What do you mean I transformed?"


            James further elaborated. "One minute, you were like this, sneezing. And then you were a dog. Then right back to human form again."


            "*What*? How could... how could I transform without knowing I'd transformed? Being an animagus isn't easy. It takes quite a lot of effort to turn into an animal- how could I possibly have done that without... real... realizing?" His voice raised in pitch to indicate an oncoming sneeze. Or more than one. "hahShhhh! ehSheshh!" Sirius remained in human form. "hehKetshhh!" Sirius was in dog form. "Ihhshh! Ehshhh!" Sirius was back in human form. "HAHhhshhh!" He gave his nose another good blow, then looked around at us, still staring in shock, horror, and puzzlement. "What, did I do it *again*?" We all nodded. "Oh bloody hell, why is this happening?" None of us had the faintest idea.


            But it was Peter who spoke up, vocalizing our dilemma for the first time. "If we take him to Madam Pomfrey he could sneeze and she could see him turn into a dog."


            "Merlin's Beard..." James said, breathlessly. "You're right Peter." And we all knew at once, that would be disastrous. What if she saw him transform? What if he sneezed on the way over to the hospital wing and someone else saw him? Madam Pomfrey knew about my condition, of course. But no one knew about the three of them becoming animagi. Not Madam Pomfrey. Not Dumbledore. And not--"


            "James?" a girl's voice called from the hallway, and Lily poked her head through the door. "Boys, breakfast's nearly over. You'd better hurry."


            "HEHSHH! HahShehh!" Sirius sneezed. Fearfully, James and I both slid the curtain shut so Lily couldn't see Sirius. Except this time it was only the two sneezes and there was no transformation. I gave Sirius' hand a quick squeeze for reassurance, then crawled back off the bed and around as Lily asked us what was going on.


            "Sirius isn't feeling very well," James explained, his voice calm despite what I could sense was a racing heart beat.


            "Ohhh no. Poor thing," she cooed sympathetically, craning her neck to get a look around the curtains, which she didn't manage.


            "HAHshehh! HEHSHH! Ihshh! Ihehshh!  huhShuhh!" I looked back behind to curtain to see Sirius turning back into a human again.


            Nervously, "We'd better head down right away. I'll catch up in just a moment." They trudged out with a variety of well-wishing messages to Sirius and with their clothes to change into for the day. I climbed back onto the bed and kissed his cheek gently. "I'll be back at lunch time to check on you." I reached over and put my hand to his forehead; it was quite warm. But something... didn't seem right about all of it. Pushing my feelings aside for the moment, "Can you get to the bathroom all right if you need to? Do you need anything before I leave?"


            He shook his head miserably. "I'll be all right. Go," he gave me a weak push. "Get some breakfast and get off to class." He coughed harshly and tried to give me an encouraging look.


            Despite his failure at looking well, I did get up, though I paused for a moment before leaving him. "Try and get some sleep, Love. That'll help."


*          *          *


            "So you had a bad cold and you couldn't go to the hospital wing?" Harry asked, sniffling into the handkerchief himself.


            "Well, that's indeed what we thought," I said with a smile, slipping my arms around Sirius's waist and folding my hands against his stomach. I gave him another small peck on the back of his neck as I waited for Harry's sneezing to stop before I continued the tale.


            "ehh-Cheshh! Huh-Chushhh! Ehh-CHESHH! CHUSHH!" Harry shivered beneath his blanket and pulled it tighter around. "I think perhaps I'd like a quick shower," he said, stifling a yawn. "Is that terribly rude of me?"


            Sirius and I both laughed. "No, lad. Go, go," Sirius insisted, waving at him. "A story of what happened twenty years ago can wait for a few more minutes." Harry nodded appreciation and stood, hugging the blanket tighter around as he left with it. "Seems we have a few moments alone, then," Sirius said, turning his head back to catch a glimpse of me."


            "Mmm?" I asked, giving him a squeeze around his middle. "And what do you suggest to fill them?" He rubbed his hand up my leg, turned, and allowed it to stop on my inner thigh. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to mine. My lips parted, my tongue caressed his lips. Sweet and sensual. My hands raced from his thighs to his chest, beneath his shirt. Sirius' heart was beating fast with excitement as I kneaded my hands into the tiny hairs of his chest.


            "Just a bit of a snog," Sirius answered. "We haven't got time for much more."


            I raised an eyebrow. "I know we're pushing forty, but it doesn't take me that long to get it up." My hands raced back down to his crotch for a few firm rubs. "Doesn't look like you've got any problem either."


            "Not physically, Remy," He said, kissing down the side of my face, down my neck, and across to one shoulder. "But Harry sleeps on this couch and I feel bad enough for bringing up this whole story."


            "Ohh, Love." I grinned, thrusting my hands into his trousers. "I can stop now if you like." I had meant the story, of course, but it didn't look like Sirius wanted the rubbings to stop either.


            He shook his head, easing the collar of my shirt down more to gain more access to my shoulder. "No, it's all right, really. This one's got a happy ending after all, doesn't it?"


            "Mmmm..." whether I agreed or not at first, his kisses convinced me enough. "Yes indeed... eventually." I nibbled his ear and patted him on the nose. "But you had to go through enough to get to it."


            He caught my lips again, his tongue caressing mine, his sweetness becoming my own. I pushed him back, pinning him down on his back against the couch. He growled and I returned it, smiling and kissing him again, working his mouth with my own.


            "uh-Ketchhuh! Chishhh!" The sneezes sounded much closer than the bathroom.


            I sat up, panting for breath and looking up at Harry. "Hello, lad. How was the shower?"


            His cheeks were slightly flushed, matching the end of his nose. "Oh, nice," Harry replied, taking a step back. "I, uh, could go make another pot of tea or something if you two needed another few moments alone--"


            "Nonsense!" Sirius exclaimed, sitting up as well, pushing me off with a laugh. "Come sit, Harry. How're you feeling?"


            He rubbed a finger beneath his nose, sniffling as he took his seat. He was wearing his pajamas, the ones from Hogwarts, but still hugged the blanket around his shoulders for warmth as he settled down. "I could be better," he said with a weak smile. "But it's just a sniffle or two."


            "Come here," I motioned, and patted my lap.


            Harry grinned. "Really?" I nodded and he stretched out across the couch, his middle in Sirius' lap and his head on a couch cushion in mine. Sirius adjusted the blanket so it wrapped around him warmly, and I slid his glasses off his face and set them on the couch arm for safety. "hetchuhh! Hartchoo! Hetchhh! Ketchhuh!" Harry blew his nose into the handkerchief and snuggled up against the both of us for warmth. I knew Harry couldn't possibly remember what it was like to have parents... but it was times like these where he seemed so comfortable with treating us as such.


            "Shall I continue then?" Harry nodded. Sirius and I exchanged contented looks. Sirius leaned over a bit and put his head on my shoulder. With one arm wrapped around his shoulders and my other hand petting Harry's head gently, I continued.


*          *          *


            Sirius was asleep when I arrived to see him at the beginning of lunch. Covered in blankets and wearing his standard issue Hogwarts pajamas still. I'd brought him a sandwich and apple, neither of which I really expected him to eat, but I didn't want him starving, either. I left them on his bedside table, scribbled a note, and started to leave when I heard him coughing. I wasn't sure if he was awake or not until I peeked behind the curtain to see him smiling up at me.


            "How was class?" He asked in a raspy voice after a particularly harsh cough.


            I shrugged, sitting down on the bed beside him. "I don't really remember. My mind was up here with you. Nothing blew up in potions, but the Slytherins are planning something, I could tell that much. Snape and his group barely talked above a whisper all class and they had maps and things strewn about their table during potions."


            "For tonight, I bet," Sirius said heavily, his voice stuffy with congestion.


            My eyes grew wide. "Tonight!" The trip. I'd almost completely forgotten.


            "Yeah, they're probably planning--"


            "No!" I exclaimed, panic rising within me. "You! I mean, you're sick and you've got a fever. You can't possibly spend a night out in the woods. You'll catch your death." It was a few days before Halloween still, but the fall weather had been miserably cold and damp.


            "I cad go. Sniff, sniff, sniff! I have to go. It's a huge part of our grade. I don't have a choice."


            "You most certainly do," I told him, leaning over and giving him a soft kiss on the cheek. "Maybe we can go to Professor Burnett and ask him to excuse you. What do you think, Sirius?"


            "I think," he began, but his voice died down to silence.


            "What?" I asked curiously, hoping he had come up with one of his brilliant schemes.


            But no, it was much different. "I think... I'm going to... sneh... sneeze... heh-ehIhshhh! Heh-shhh! harShuhhh!" He sneezed continuously. I helped him sit up as he did so, making the sneezes a little easier to withstand, without them shaking his body quite as badly. "hehShihhh! hetshhhh! Katchuhhh!"


            "That's it," I said firmly, and felt his forehead again as he blew his nose. It wasn't nearly as warm as it had been earlier, oddly enough. But it was rare to have a high fever with a cold. Unless this wasn't a cold at all, but something very different. "I'm going to go talk with the others. We'll work something out. But I won't allow you to go out tonight in the cold with this cold."


            Sirius nodded appreciatively and sneezed again "hehKetchhh! HuhShshhh!" All at once, he changed into a dog again. "Ihshhh! Ehshhh! Ih--" and a person again. "Karchhh! Chishhhh!" And that was a problem as well.


            "Bless you." Oh, if only he could have gone to see Madam Pomfrey. A little Pepperup Potion and some bed rest and he'd be well in no time. I hated so much to see him suffer. But it was much too dangerous going all the way over there with his sneezing and transforming like that. I leaned over and gave him another soft kiss. "Feel better, Love. I'll be back as soon as I can manage."


            I headed back down to the dining hall to inform them of Sirius' status and my worries about his condition. We concluded that it was much too dangerous for Sirius to be allowed out of his bed and we'd just have to have a talk with the professor about it. At the end of lunch, James and I set off to see Professor Burnett, the astronomy professor. Peter stayed behind to finish lunch and get some last minute help from Lily on his History of Magic assignment due for next class. Professor Burnett's office was at the top of one of the towers opposite the Gryffindors' and by the time we reached it, my legs were ready to give way from all the climbing up and down I'd been doing. We knocked, and it seemed ages before Professor Burnett opened the door. He was wearing his pajamas still as well, though his were navy blue with bright yellow stars that twinkled. A tall, pointy wizard's hat was askew on his head with a pattern to match.


            "Hello boys!" he exclaimed, waving us forward to enter. We shut the door behind us as we did. His office was small, a desk, a bookshelf with scrolls, and a few chairs. But just above our heads up to the ceiling was a recreation of the night sky, stars and planets and moons revolving and spinning and glowing in different colored patterns to illustrate the designs and constellations. I felt a little uncomfortable as my eyes fell on Earth's moon, bright and brilliant, and I tried not to look up again. "What can I do for two of my brightest students?"


            "Well, actually," James said, helping himself to a seat in front of the professor's desk. "We've come about Sirius Black."


            The professor nodded. "Yes?"


            "He's very sick," I blurted out. Then, trying to sound a little calmer and more reasonable. "He's got a fever and a great deal of nausea and congestion. We don't think it's wise for him to attend the trip tonight." Even as I said it, I convinced myself. Wading through a river, sleeping out under the stars, climbing trees to be safe from wild animals, spending hour after hour in the cold and strong winds.


            Professor Burnett looked thoughtful. "Has he gone to see Madam Pomfrey?"


            James and I both shook our heads. "We tried to make him this morning, but I'm afraid he passed out as soon as he stood up," James explained, with me nodding along. "I don't think he'd make it down the stairs if we tried again." James was rubbing his hand against the back of his neck as he did sometimes when fibbing. I wanted to reach over and stop him, but didn't want to give the impression that anything was wrong. Of the two of us, James was without a doubt the more trustworthy.


            The professor considered this for a moment, then nodded. "I'll excuse him from the trip as long as Madam Pomfrey pays him a visit and corroborates your story." This wasn't the best of circumstances... we still had to worry about his transformations... but it was better than previous possibilities. So we nodded and thanked him.


            "What do you think?" James asked me as we descended the stairs, hurrying to get back to the dorm before Madam Pomfrey. Sirius needed to be warned and, maybe, one of us would come up with a brilliant idea to keep him from transforming unintentionally.


            I shrugged, though James probably didn't notice as we climbed another set of stairs. "It's dangerous, but it's better than nothing."


            As it turns out, we beat Madam Pomfrey up there by a good ten minutes, which was enough to calm our first worry or warning Sirius but not our second of preventing accidental transformations. The only thing we could hope was that he wouldn't need to sneeze while he was being examined. Sirius snuggled against me, sniffling terribly into tissues with balled up tissues scattered around his bed. His hair needed a good brushing since he'd woken from a nap and despite the sleeping, his eyes were terribly bloodshot. I would have gladly snuggled beneath the covers and warmed him as much as needed, if not for the fact that we'd soon have a visitor.


            "heKeshhh! huhShhuhh! hehShuhhh! Huhshhhh!" Sirius sneezed, curling up into a tighter ball in my arms. He was suffering, that much I could tell. But at the same time... something just didn't feel right about the whole thing. I leaned back against his pillows and felt something... uncomfortable prick at me.


            But before I could examine anything, heavy footsteps sounded outside the door. "They're coming!" Peter called, rushing into the room, wheezing, holding the stitch in his side.


            "They?" James asked as I freed myself from Sirius' warmth.


           He didn't need to answer as Madam Pomfrey came through the door, led by none other than Professor McGonagall, head of our house, who obviously had been the one to let the nurse in with the password. "Out, out," Professor McGonagal shooed us, adding a somewhat-desperate sounding "please" as an afterthought, waving her hands as if it rushed us out the door faster.


            James, Peter and I stood out in the hallway on either side of the door to our room, which they'd left open a crack. Well, really they had closed it, but James managed a spell to make it look as though it squeaking open was natural and not by our force. James always amazed me with such spells. Usually Sirius was the one to come up with the really sneaky things, but every once in a while, James completely blew me away.


            We were nervous, and rightfully so, as we made out faint voices from the room. Now, if Sirius sneezed and accidentally transformed, it was not merely the school nurse who was sometimes good at keeping important secrets, like mine, but it was also the head of our house. What was worse, was that our head of house taught Transfiguration and would certainly pick up on any sort of experienced transformation if he made one. And even worse than that, Professor McGonagall herself was an animagus and would certainly recognize Sirius for one as well if he were to accidentally transform in front of her.


            "hehShuhhh! Hehshhhh! Hah-heh-Ehshhh!"


            We held our breath at the sounds of the sneezes. But there were no amazed gasps or startled screams. I caught phrases like "feels warm" and "headache making you nauseous" but couldn't really catch a verdict of any sort. I craned my neck, leaning forward with my head against the door. James, watching me concernedly, did the same. But we could hear no more than sneezes or coughs from Sirius and the occasional word or phrase from the nurse or our professor. I was nearly ready to ask Peter to transform and sneak into the room to listen when Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall left the room. We quickly straightened up and tried to look as if we hadn't been eavesdropping. They breezed past us, then stopped, noticing us lingering by the door worriedly.


            "For heaven's sake, he'll be all right," Professor McGonagall sighed, rolling her eyes. "It's just a wee head cold."


            With a nod, "I've given him some Pepperup. He'll be better in no time, but I don't think going out tonight would be a good idea. I'll talk with Professor Burnett at once," Madam Pomfrey told us. "There's no need to be worried. He'll be fine."


            We thanked them both all at the same time, then quickly went back inside to be with Sirius. The lad had jets of steam billowing from his ears and a handkerchief rubbing at his nose. He was sitting up in bed, on top of his covers and looked very miserable indeed, though he brightened somewhat as we joined him. I was the first onto the bed, of course, scrambling up to take him in my arms. But James and Peter followed, settling on the bed and drawing the hangings around us for privacy. I held him against me, and he relaxed, closing his eyes and sighing as I petted him.


            "Dot to worry, I did't tradsforb," he informed us. "Add they said I could stay hobe todight," Sirius informed us, snuffling into his handkerchief.


            "We heard," I said, playing with a lock of his hair.


            "We're so glad," James agreed, nodding vigorously. "You lucky bloke."


            "Wish I didn't have to go tonight," Peter said, joining in on the nodding. "You've got excellent timing, Padfoot."


            Sirius nodded, smiling happily as he snuggled into my lap. He *did* have excellent timing, didn't he? And luck, as well.


            "hehShushhh! Heh-EH-shhuhh! heh-Shushhh!" He shook in my arms, weakly, giving a bit of a moan as he finished sneezing and began to blow his nose. I discretely rubbed a tear from the corner of his eye. He coughed, and I reached back to the bedside table for a glass of water, noticing a small heating pad sticking out from beneath the covers. Nothing entirely too suspicious in someone sick and feverish needing the warmth, but I wondered where and when he'd acquired it. Perhaps Madam Pomfrey had given it to him; that was reasonable.


            "We'd better start packing," said James, looking at his watch. "We're to leave just after dinner." He reached over and patted Sirius' arm. "Feel better, mate." And pulled himself off the bed with a blatant wink aimed right at Sirius.


            "Yeah, feel better," Peter agreed, starting to get up, then reaching over to pat Sirius' arm as James had.


            Sirius sniffled and looked up at me. "Are you going to leave me now, too?" He sounded too pitiful for words.


            I shook my head. "No, Love. I'll stay for a little longer. I'm mostly packed already."


            He grinned and snuggled closer, pushing me back upon the bed, wrapping his arms around me, and snuggling close. The smoke from his ears had died down, and he was sniffling and shivering against me. I waved my wand at the covers to pull themselves up around both of us.


            In my arms, I felt him tense up and draw breath. "hehSHUHshhhh! hehSheshhh! ehhShhhhh! ihShhuhhhh!" His sneezes were rapid, wet, forceful, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Sirius rubbed his nose roughly and sighed.


            "You'll be all right while we're gone, won't you?" I asked softly as his head rose and fell on my chest with each one of my breaths. He sniffled, but nodded. The pillow I lay upon was still uncomfortable, and strangely so since I knew his pillows very well from the number of times I slept over in his bed. Curiously, I reached my hand into the pillowcase to feel... feathers. I raised my eyebrows, and looked down to be sure Sirius was not watching my movements. Feathers? But his was not a feather pillow.


            On my promise, I lingered there for a while. I watched the way his nose ran and he sniffled. I watched him rub his eyes and his nose. I watched him sneeze and blow his nose into his handkerchief. And by dinner time, I was convinced that he would be just fine with us gone. In fact, I guessed, that had been his plan all along.


*          *          *


            "Remus?" Sirius interrupted.


            I opened my eyes and looked over at him. "Sorry, was I getting too personal?"


            He chuckled softly and shook his head. "No, not at all. It's just that Harry fell asleep about a minute ago." And he nodded down to our laps where Harry lay stretched out.


            I smiled. "Poor little lad." Carefully, Sirius and I managed to pull ourselves out from beneath him, and tuck the blankets around him more warmly. He stirred and sniffed with congestion, but did not wake.


            Sirius squatted down beside the couch and placed a soft kiss on Harry's forehead, just beside his scar. "Good night, Harry. Sleep well." And though fast asleep, Harry's mouth twitched into a smile. Then Sirius slid his hand into mine. I squeezed it back reassuringly. We led each other into our bedroom.




            Morning came sooner than expected, and the three of us breakfasted together at the kitchen table. Sirius, as usual, ate like a dog, through two plates of pancakes and sausages drenched in extra syrup. I had my usual morning tea and a scone with some jam. Harry covered two pancakes in syrup then proceeded to only pick at them as he went through three glasses of orange juice.


            "Ihh-Chushh! HahShehhh! hehShehhh!" The boy sneezed, turning from the table, sneezing into a fist. He sniffled and rubbed his nose, turning back to us. "'Scuse me," he said for what was probably the tenth time that morning.


            I set down my tea, watching Harry absentmindedly move his fork through a puddle of syrup, making designs which disappeared a moment later. It was quite clear that he had absolutely no intention of eating his current breakfast. "Can I get you something else to eat, Harry?" I suggested softly, trying not to show my concern for him. "Warm rice pudding? Scrambled eggs? Fruit?"


            Harry shook his head, dropped his fork, and looked at his food shamefully. "I'm just not very hungry," he admitted. "I'm sorry."


            "Don't be," I said with a smile, taking his plate away. "It's perfectly all right not to feel hungry when you're sick."


            Harry gave a meek nod, raised a fist to his nose and mouth, and turned again. "ehhShhehh! ihhhTCHuhhh!" He paused, sniffled, waited. "ehhhChushhhh! Heh-Chushh!"


            "Bless you," Sirius mumbled through a full mouth of food. He gave me a glance, and I caught the concern in his eyes as well.


            "Uh, Harry," I said quickly as the boy turned back around, sniffling. "How about I make a pot of tea for all of us? We could have a relaxing morning at home. Sirius will light a fire," I volunteered him, keeping my eyes away from Sirius' so he could not refuse, "And I can tell you how the story turns out."


            "There's more to it?" Harry asked, brightening.


            "Ohhh yes," I grinned, and Sirius nearly choked on his last mouthful of pancakes. "I haven't even reached the interesting part yet."


            Sirius coughed nervously. "Really, Moony. You don't need to go into so much detail. I'm sure Harry doesn't want to hear about--"


            "No, I do!" he exclaimed, with the same excited spirit and the same enthusiastic smile as I had seen in James many times. He could tell it was something juicy which, with the Marauders, things almost always were. "Really, I want to hear it."


            Sirius sighed, faking a look of defeat and depression. "All right then. But you need to promise to stay warm, drink all of your tea, and do nothing else but rest today."


            "hehChishhh! ehhCheshoo! Cheshhuhhh!" He rubbed his nose on the cuff of his pajamas. "I promise," he accepted the terms eagerly.


            "All right then." And I put the pot on the stove for tea.


*          *          *


            James, Peter and I returned late into the morning, heavy hearted with detentions looming thanks to some badly timed but nonetheless humorous pranks. Sirius had been right, the Slytherins had been plotting to do something to us. Their idea of a joke had been to drop a net containing about twenty small snakes right over our heads. Suffice it to say, we weren't amused. We retaliated by hiding a rather large hole beneath a pile of leaves, allowing a rather angry looking rampaging stag to direct them over to it, and leaving the premises before they sent up sparks and cries for help. Despite our brilliance, both of our groups had been caught eventually and our lot had a day's worth of polishing telescopes in the astronomy tower to look forward to.


            I made straight for Sirius' bed at once, as did James. Peter and the other boys of our year went right for their own beds to sleep off the adventure. But as I pushed back the hangings on Sirius' bed, I froze. He wasn't there.


            "Where is he?" James asked worriedly, then stifled a yawn that seemed to shake him completely.


            "Go to bed, Jamie," I said, dropping my gear and patting him on the back. "I'll go look for him." James insisted upon helping, but I explained that I needed to speak privately with Sirius anyway and James caught a flash in my eye that convinced him. He had learned quickly years ago that when Sirius and I needed privacy, it was best to just give it to us.


            Sirius was not in the common room when we came in from the adventure, though I checked it again to be sure. We'd left the Marauder's Map with Sirius for safekeeping, so I couldn't use that either. Luckily, I found him quickly thereafter, in the bathroom.  I scented him as soon as I'd opened the door to the boy's lavatory, warm and familiar and very Sirius. It led me to a bathroom stall, and I could see him sitting on the floor, curled around a toilet. "Sirius?" I called out softly.


            The door budged a bit in what I took to be his way of telling me to enter. So I did, swinging the door out and stepping in for my first glimpse of his full body. Legs bent beneath him, arm outstretched on a toilet seat, head resting on his arm. His other arm wrapped around an apparently queasy stomach. I settled beside him, squeezing into the little stall which seemed to get bigger to accommodate us. I pressed my hand to his forehead, then to his cheek, and the worry I had felt all day the day before quickly returned. "Oh Siri..." I whispered breathlessly.


            He coughed, nodded, and spat into the toilet. "I... I don't feel so good," he whispered weakly, leaving the toilet and curling, instead, against me. I held him tightly in my arms, one arm around his back and side, the other hand pressed against his cheek to force his head against the warmth of my chest. I rocked him gently, comfortingly, not knowing what else to do.


            Finally, when his breathing slowed and he relaxed against me, I spoke. "When did you start feeling sick?" I asked, raking bangs from his sweaty forehead. "I mean, for real?"


            At this he pulled back from me. He regarded me a moment, then, "You knew?" He coughed and rubbed at his eyes. "How long... how... hehShushhh! hehShuhhhh! ehTchuhhh!" He sniffed wetly, reaching over for some toilet paper on the roll behind me. "How log hab you dowd?"


            "Yesterday afternoon. I saw the heating pad. And when I was using your pillow I felt something very uncomfortable. I stuck my hand underneath to find Augurey feathers." The old heating pad against the forehead trick for a fever. Followed by the not quite so old feather trick for sneezes. We found out about Sirius' dreadful allergy to Augurey feathers years ago during a Care of Magical Creatures lesson. He nearly scared the poor birds to death with all his sneezing.


            He hung his head now, sniffling. "Why did you fake being sick, Siri?" I reached over to caress his face but he pulled away.


            "To get out of the lesson last night. It was supposed to be a joke," he explained. "Just a joke." He coughed again from congestion. "You three were going to come back tired and I would laugh and..." His breath caught and he raised a tired fist to his nose and mouth. "harshhuhh! hehShuhhh! hehSHUHshhh!"


            I finished it for him. "And then you actually came down with something."


            He nodded, rubbing at his nose miserably and sniffling. "I suppose James and Peter are too mad at me to care?"


            I shook my head. "I doubt it. They're just tired out after last night. Besides, I'm not mad at you and I certainly didn't tell them anything." He looked up at me then, with surprise. "What, did you think I'd rat you out?" He hesitated, and then nodded. "Oh Sirius!" I pulled him against me again, holding him tightly. "Of course I wouldn't have."


            He coughed against my chest and sniffled. "I would have."


            I ran my hand through his hair gently. "You didn't tell them my secret when you discovered it."


            "That's different," he said softly. "Plus James had already figured it out."


            "It's no different at all. I'd never tell your secrets, just as you wouldn't tell mine. Marauders don't do that to each other... and neither do lovers."  That was the truth, and I kissed his forehead to prove it. "And besides... you had a pretty good joke going there, especially with the involuntary transformations. That was bloody brilliant! You had me worried about you for most of the day."


            "I didn't mean to make you worry so much." He sniffled again, seizing up. "harchuhhh! hehShuhhh!" And though he tried to break away from me, I held him close. I pulled some toilet paper off the roll that was digging into the back of my neck and rubbed his nose for him. He sniffed hard and relaxed in my hold. "It *was* a pretty good joke, wasn't it?" I laughed, nodding in agreement. "I kept the feathers in a sealed box in my trunk so they wouldn't make me sneeze until it was time. I got a Hufflepuff girl to lift them for me from Care of Magical Creatures class. I told her I would use them for writing quills, and she actually believed me!" he laughed.


            "You're so suave and handsome. You always could pull anything over on the ladies," I laughed back.


            "But not you... I can't ever fool you," he spoke softly again, with shame in his voice. "I'm sorry for deceiving you. If I can make it up to... up..." his breath caught, and he tensed up again. "arshuhhh! Heh-ihShuhhh!"


            I kissed the top of his head and squeezed him in a tight hug. "I think this is enough punishment for you right here. Are you still feeling sick to your stomach?" He shook his head weakly. "Then let me help you back to bed."


            "Bed," he whispered in agreement, reaching up and flushing the toilet. With some difficulty, I got him to his feet, and supported him back to our dormitory room. Under normal circumstances, I would have marched him right down to see Madam Pomfrey, but she had just given him Pepperup Potion, and it wouldn't work again on him for another two weeks at the earliest. It was just too bad that he hadn't actually been sick when he had taken it.


            'heh-Ehshhh! ihChuhhhh! hehShuhhh!" He sneezed weakly as his head hit the pillow. I crawled under the covers with him, checking first to be sure he'd removed all the feathers from his pillow. Then I let him cuddle up against me, sniffling and sneezing and feeling sick. I drew the curtains closed to block out the sounds he made and to keep it dark around us, despite the fact that the sun had already risen for the day.


            In the afternoon, James and Peter brought us food, and James even sat and did homework with Sirius while they let me get a little more sleep. And while everyone was confused that Sirius was still sick despite seeing Madam Pomfrey the day before, they said nothing about it to either of us. Though I have a feeling James knew all along, maybe even before I figured it out. I kept true to my word in not revealing the truth... but I did steal a few of the feathers... just in case Sirius started getting a big head about it.


*          *          *


            Harry was snuggled among a few blankets, squeezed warmly between us in bed, with Sirius on his right and me on his left, and a crackling fire in front of us. I held his empty tea cup, and Sirius had offered his chest as a warm pillow halfway through the story. He had tensed up at my mention of secrets and betrayals and, in hindsight, I probably should have skipped that particular part of the story. But Sirius had comforted him and, soon, Harry had forgotten my wording and just concerned about how it all turned out for Sirius.


            "So you were faking it all that time?" Harry asked incredulously, chuckling, raising his head up off his Godfather's chest to look him in the face. Sirius grinned and nodded. Harry's head swung around to look at me. "And you figured it out but didn't tell anyone?" I nodded as well.


           Done with the story and the tea, I stacked the teacups on the bedside table. "In the end, Sirius got what he deserved. He was sick in bed for five days straight and had to miss the Halloween celebration."


            Harry looked rather sympathetically up at Sirius. "Oh... I'm sorry." Harry coughed into a fist.


            Sirius shook his head and wrapped an arm around the lad comfortingly. "Don't be. Your father took good care of me. And so did Peter," he said quickly, "and Remus of course. And your mother even brought me up some pumpkin cakes after the feast. I had them waiting on me hand and foot from my bed... so you decide who came out on top in the end." We all laughed.


            Harry had smiled at mention of his parents, barely noticing that Peter was in that category as well. He shivered so I tugged the blanket around him up a little more, then rubbed a hand up and down his back. Tucked beneath the blankets like this, his black hair askew, glasses off, eyes closed... he reminded me so much of James. But Harry was so much more than a miniature version of his parents. I had learned that very well when I'd been his teacher, but even better after he had come to live with Sirius and me. He shivered again and curled up tightly, sneezing into Sirius' chest. "heh-Cheshhh! hahChishhh! Cheshhh!"


            "Bless you." Sirius reached over and rubbed Harry's nose gently with the handkerchief. "So you see, lad. Your father took care of me when I was sick."


            Harry pulled his eyes open and nodded wearily.


            "Let us do the same for you," I said.


            The boy who never remembered being taken care of like this smiled and nodded again. He snuggled into the blankets between both of us, used Sirius as a pillow again, and closed his eyes peacefully. Sirius and I watched him for a while, waiting for him to fall asleep before we spoke, scared he might not get the rest he needed.


            Then, finally, I whispered, "You're sure you're not mad at me for telling that story?"


            Sirius chuckled, quickly checking to be sure he hadn't woken Harry, and shook his head. "Not at all. I think he enjoyed it... and I was thinking we should tell him the one about the swarm of enchanted quills we unleashed in the Slytherin common room next."


            I laughed softly. "Yes, I think he'd like that one." Then maybe he'd finally come clean about that mud throwing incident down by the shrieking shack. Sirius would probably get a kick out of that one.


            "Remus?" Sirius whispered again.


            "Mmmm?" I looked back over.


            "You actually kept some of those Augurey feathers?" he asked timidly.


             "Yep. Actually... I might still have them packed away somewhere. You know, just in case..." I pulled out my wand and strained my neck, pretending to look into the closet as if I were just trying to locate them.


            Sirius reached over and punched me in the arm, making me drop my wand. I pushed his hand away and we both dissolved into laughter as we fought to be the first get at the wand.


            This time, Harry stirred, sniffling into the handkerchief Sirius had given him. "hehChushhh! uhChushhh!" He looked blearily up at the two of us and, before we could apologize for waking him, said in a slightly congested voice, "Hey, doe sex udtil after I fall asleeb, all right?" And he turned, moving off Sirius, retreating into the blankets and pillows between us and falling back to sleep.


            Sirius and I exchanged looks, and started to laugh again.