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Chapter 43: Do You Trust Me?

Andromeda had little trouble getting permission to talk with Aletha and Sirius. The Auror in charge at the holding cells was a woman with hair by now almost entirely silver, but streaks of its original blonde remained. And she remembered the Healer.

"I was on duty the night you came to see your sister," she said, extending her hand to Andromeda. "Leticia Halcyon. Let to my friends."

"Andromeda Tonks. Andy."

Auror Halcyon took a scroll out of her desk and dipped her quill. "So — nothing personal, I have to ask, it’s for the record — why do you want to see them?"

"Well, then, for the record, Mr. Lupin asked me to look in on them, to make sure they’re all right. Will that do?"

"Certainly." Auror Halcyon made a notation on her scroll, then looked back up at Andy. "The record is now complete," she said, letting her sentence end on an upward note.

Andy tapped her finger against her lips, thinking hard about what to say and what to leave out. "Sirius is my cousin, and I haven’t seen him for a long time — obviously. I always liked him, and Aletha — I knew her, they were more or less together before... everything happened, so we’d met several times. I want to make sure they’re all right."

"So, more or less, you put the truth on record." Halcyon nodded. "I like that. Keeps everything square. Say... Tonks. We’ve got a prospective applicant with that name. First name Nympha... something."

"Nymphadora." Andy smiled. "My daughter. She’ll be leaving Hogwarts this June."

"Well, her O.W.L.s look good. If she passes her N.E.W.T.s and her aptitude tests, we’ll be glad to have her. Now, as to your request. I think it can be honored. After all, what can they do to you — you’re the one with the wand."

Andy smiled. "True enough."

"Which one would you like to see first?"

"Aletha — Ms. Freeman, that is."

Halcyon pursed her lips, perusing her scroll. "Hm. Says here she claims to be Freeman-Black now."

"Yes, Remus did mention they were married. It must have been a Muggle wedding." Andy frowned. "Are those even legal under magical law?"

"I certainly hope so," said Halcyon with a touch of heat. "I wouldn’t want to be considered a bastard."

Andy covered her mouth, chagrined at her faux pas. "I’m so sorry."

"You didn’t know," Halcyon said with a shrug. "And it hardly matters. To anyone except pure-blood fools. May they all go the way of that one you Stunned back in ’84."

"Amen," Andromeda said heartily. Then she remembered. "Oh, I need to ask about something else. What’s your policy on housing more than one person in the same cell?"

Halcyon grimaced. "Strictly, absolutely, completely not to be done. And I can’t do a thing about it. You’d have to talk to the higher-ups to get permission, and they’re not likely to be in, it’s two days to Christmas and a Sunday, after all..."

Andromeda winced. "Are you sure you can’t bend the rules?"

Halcyon shook her head regretfully. "I’m sorry, but it could mean my job." She looked at Andy. "Tell you what. About how long do you expect to take with these talks?"

"About an hour."

"I’ll go upstairs while you’re doing that and see if there’s anyone around who does have authority to bend the rules a little."

"Thank you," Andromeda said with true feeling. "You have no idea what it would mean to them. Where can I find Letha?"

"Straight down this hall to the end, turn right. You can’t miss her, she’s the only one along there. When you’re ready to see Black, just come back the way you came — first left and all the way to the end of the hall, that’s here. Then take a right, go all the way to the end of that hall, and take another right. Got it?" Halcyon’s tone was neither condescending nor patronizing, simply brisk.

"Got it," Andy said with a thankful smile. "I’ll be back."

"I certainly hope so."


Andy stopped before she got to Sirius’ cell and tried to collect her wits. Talking with Letha had been easy. Almost too easy. She had gone overtime with it, it was 3:30 already. She was going to have to make this snappy.

Think, girl. Letha says you can trust him. Remus never even said it, it was just obvious to him. Draco’s happy with him. All their children — their cubs — are. I saw it myself. So how bad can he be?

Just treat him like your crazy little cousin, the one who used to put pixies in your bed.

She cracked a smile. Shouldn’t be too hard. He is the crazy little cousin who used to put pixies in my bed.

She walked up to his cell and stopped. He was sitting with his head in his hands, but looked up at her, obviously surprised.

"You," she said, "are serious trouble."

"No, ma’am," he said solemnly. "I’m Sirius Black."

They both laughed.

"I don’t believe you remembered that," Sirius said with the same utterly charming smile she remembered, possibly a touch more so with the added years of age and experience. "How long has it been since we did that? Nine, ten years?"

"At least." Andromeda debated conjuring a chair, as she had done at Letha’s cell, and finally decided to sit on the floor, prompting Sirius to do the same. "How are you?" she asked, looking straight at him.

Sirius took his time about answering, looking speculatively around him. "I’ve been better," he answered finally. "But I’ve also been worse. Azkaban comes to mind."

"I would imagine."

"Not if you can help it, you wouldn’t," Sirius said very quietly. "Trust me on this. You don’t want to."

"I trust you."

Sirius looked interested. "Really?"

"I’ve been talking to Remus and Letha."

"How are they?" Sirius asked quickly. "And have you seen Danger? Remus’ wife, not very tall, brown bushy hair, unconscious — unless she woke up in the last couple of hours?"

"From the end — no, she hasn’t, yes, I’ve seen her, and before you ask, I don’t know what’s wrong with her."

Sirius sighed. "I was afraid you’d say that. It’s hard not knowing. I really care about her. Not in a way that would make Letha worry, you understand."

"As a sister. And Remus as a brother."


"Letha said the same. She’s more or less all right — she cried some when we talked about your cubs."

"I don’t blame her. I feel like crying myself." Sirius closed his eyes for a moment. "You probably got into this with her," he said a trifle shakily. "Or with Remus. But we love those four like nothing else. They’re our reason for living — our reason for existing, in a very real way."

"Go on," Andy said, leaning forward slightly.

"If it hadn’t been for Harry, there wouldn’t be a Pack," Sirius explained. "Legally, he belongs to me, but I was in no shape to take care of him when I got out of Azkaban, and Letha couldn’t just quit her job. Besides, I wasn’t about to shut Moony and Danger out of his life. So we stayed together so he could have all of us, and it wasn’t long before Hermione had all our hearts too. And then Meghan, when she came along, and finally Draco. Somewhere along the line we realized we liked living together, we liked the companionship and the camaraderie — but we never would have thought to try it if it hadn’t been for Harry."

"I’m sure he’s all right," Andy said impulsively. "I’m sure all of them are."

"If Bossy Andy says it, it must be true," Sirius chanted, flashing her a one-sided grin. It faded quickly. "How’s Remus?"

"Worried," Andromeda said. "Worried about you and Aletha, worried about your cubs, but most of all worried about Danger."

"I’m not surprised. They’re very close."

Andy decided to fish a little. "He mentioned something I didn’t quite understand. Something about sensing each other’s presence..."

"They do have a sort of link between them," Sirius said cautiously. "Either of them knows what the other one is thinking or feeling at any given moment."

"Like telepathy."

"I suppose. But when Danger — fell — the link was broken. They haven’t been out of touch that way for quite a long time. I think it scared Remus pretty badly. He’s always been very much afraid of losing her."

"He never had anyone, before," Andy said thoughtfully. "I don’t ever remember him even going out on a date — you used to tease him about it."

"He was always shy socially, because of his condition. I think he was afraid of getting close to someone, because eventually he’d have to tell her, and more likely than not, she’d leave him. It’s only common sense if you’ve grown up magical, after all. Werewolves are scary, bad, and dangerous."

Andy couldn’t keep from smiling at the childish tone he put on for the last few words. "This Danger of his didn’t grow up magical, I take it."

"She was a Muggle until she was twenty," Sirius explained. "She had latent magic. Brought out by a bad shock. Her parents’ deaths."

Andromeda’s breath caught. Bad enough to lose one parent at a time — but Sirius had specifically said deaths. "Both of them?"

"Killed by Death Eaters," he confirmed. "Only she didn’t know that, then."

Andromeda shook her head, speechless. Then she remembered why she was there, checked her watch, and swore softly. She was already overdue. "Sirius — Remus asked for you. You and Letha both. He wants you nearby. And I told him I would talk to someone in charge about it, and that I’d be back in an hour, and—"

"Talk to someone in charge?" Sirius repeated. "Good luck. The way this place is structured, you’d have more luck kicking down a brick wall."

Andromeda hissed between her teeth in annoyance. "That was the impression I got."

"It would take something drastic for them to move us all in together," Sirius said. "Some kind of crisis, something they couldn’t ignore or paperwork away." He stopped, looking at her. His lips moved silently, as if he were reciting something to himself.

"Is something wrong?" Andy asked.

Sirius had been sitting cross-legged. Now he slid his legs out straight in front of him. "Not really," he said quietly, turning to one side, then the other, obviously stretching his back. "I did have an idea, though."

"An idea," Andy repeated in the same quiet tones he was using. "What kind of idea?"

Sirius got onto his knees and rolled his shoulders, then scooted himself a little closer to the bars. "Andy — do you trust me?"

"Well, that’s the million-Galleon question, now, isn’t it," Andromeda said half-jokingly. "Why are you asking?"

"I can’t tell you." He looked straight into her eyes. "But please believe me when I say this. I would never hurt you. I don’t want to hurt anyone. With the exception of Peter Pettigrew and a few other idiots with snakes branded on their arms. I never killed anyone, and I never broke my word to Lily and James. Harry is happy and well, exactly the way they would have loved to see him."

He paused, as if constructing a thought carefully. "You’re acting as if you want to help us. And I think I know how you can. But you have to trust me. Really trust me, not just say you do. Do you trust me, Andy?"

Andromeda looked at her cousin, the infamous murderer, the most notorious criminal in Britain.

Letha’s husband. Remus’ brother. Draco’s father.


"Then come closer."

Andromeda stared at him for a moment, then nodded slowly. "All right."

Casually, she patted the pocket in which she kept her wand.


"Healer Tonks?" Leticia Halcyon called, stepping out of the fire. "You around?"

A woman screamed.

Let was running before the echoes had a chance to die. Something happened, I knew it, I knew I shouldn’t have gone...

Other feet were hitting the floor behind hers, reminding her painfully of who she was in the presence of. And now I look bad in front of the Head of the Department...

She had been lucky, or so she’d thought at the time. Amelia Bones had come in at Albus Dumbledore’s request, to meet with him about the trial for the next day, and she’d caught Madam Bones on her way out the door after that meeting was over. Bones had agreed to come and listen to what the Healer had to say, but Let knew it was likely to be a lost cause — Bones was a stickler for the rules...

She turned the corner and stopped, aghast.

Andromeda Tonks sat with her back against the bars of Sirius Black’s cell, her eyes filled with fear. The reason why was immediately apparent. Black had his left arm through the bars and around her chest, and what Let assumed was Tonks’ own wand pointed at her throat with his other hand.

"One word," he growled. "One word and she’s screaming. Two and she’s dead. That’s all it takes."

"What do you want?" Bones demanded.

"I want my friends," Black said harshly. "I want them in here with me. Now."

"You’re out of your mind," Let said decisively. "Ma’am, his one friend’s a werewolf," she said, turning to Bones. "Moonrise is any minute now, they’d all die."

"So maybe we’ve all got death wishes," said Black, smiling humorlessly. "Do it. Now."

"Please," Tonks said in a frightened squeak of a voice. "Do what he says."

Dammit. Hostage situations never turn out well. "Ma’am?" Let said unsurely.

"How many people are we talking about?" Bones asked, still watching Black.

"Three others, ma’am. Two women — one of them unconscious — and a man. He’s the werewolf."

"This doesn’t make sense, boy," Bones said to Black. "Why threaten her life to endanger your own?"

"I have my reasons," Black said roughly. "Are you going to do it or aren’t you?"

Bones nodded very slowly. "I’ll do it. But on one condition. I want some more security here first. Just in case your friends try something before they get in there with you."

"They won’t. But if you insist, all right. As long as you make it fast. You, Auror," Black snapped at her. "What time is it?"

Let checked her watch. "3:42."

"You have ten minutes," Black told Bones. "Then I’ll start finding interesting ways to make her scream."

"Halcyon," Bones said without taking her eyes off Black. "Shacklebolt should still be in his cubicle. Get him and anyone else who’s around. Get them back here as fast as you can."

"Yes, ma’am." Let took off running again.

Oh God, what if she gets hurt because of me — I let her in, I didn’t go with her, it’s my fault, my fault, and she has a daughter, a family...

It was all the incentive she needed to get the job done, and fast.


At 3:50, Aletha looked up, startled, as her cell door opened. "Come on," said a compact man, waving at her. "Out you come. You’re being moved."

I’m being moved. What a nice way to put it. As if I were a thing. Aletha wanted to kick something, preferably this supercilious Auror who was treating her like a misplaced chair. She’d only just got herself calmed down from hearing a woman scream, she’d been telling herself over and over that it hadn’t been Danger’s voice and it had nothing to do with her, and she knew moonrise was getting closer by the second. But she came, and walked docilely enough down the hallways at the point of his wand, turning where he told her to and resisting her very strong urge to ask him what the hell exactly he thought she was going to do.

Then she rounded the final corner and froze.

Oh. My. God.

Sirius was holding a wand on Andromeda and staring down Amelia Bones.

"Move," growled the man, poking her with his own wand. "In there." He indicated the door of Sirius’ cell, which Aletha now saw was open. And — was there someone lying on the bed?

She moved forward a few paces, and saw that there was —

— and it was someone with brown frizzy hair —

She didn’t remember going the rest of the way into the cell, didn’t remember passing behind Sirius, didn’t remember anything until she was kneeling beside the bed, holding Danger’s hand in hers.

Her friend didn’t move, didn’t stir. But her pulse was beating, and her chest rose and fell — but slowly, so slowly.

We’re together again. But at what price?

She forced herself to keep looking at Danger, not to look at Sirius, not to see the expression of savagery and — could it be — glee on his face at having Andromeda at his mercy.

I told her she could trust him. She trusted him on my word.

And he betrayed her trust.

He betrayed mine.

A horribly familiar sensation began to creep over her. She recognized it with dread.

I never thought I would feel this way again.

It was the mixture of confusion, sorrow, and anger she had felt, in one measure or another, through the end of 1981 and the beginning of 1982. It had ended, abruptly, one March morning in the kitchen of a house in Surrey.

And now it’s back.

Because now he is everything I thought he was. A killer. A torturer.

An oathbreaker.

"Where’s the other one?" Sirius growled. It didn’t even sound like his voice. She was having trouble breathing, she thought she might pass out...

The other one?

Oh my God... he means Remus.

We’re going to be locked in here with an untamed werewolf.

Sirius really has lost his mind.

She stared at her Pack-sister’s relaxed face. Oh, Danger, if we ever needed you, it’s now...

Slow footsteps caught her attention.

Remus came into view, walking slowly and with a pronounced limp. The expression on his face was highly controlled. He took in the tableau in front of the cell without flinching.

"In there," said Kingsley Shacklebolt’s deep voice, and the man himself appeared behind Remus. He prodded Remus on the shoulder with his wand, not rudely as Aletha’s Auror had done, but almost as a friendly gesture. "Go on, inside."

Remus looked straight at Sirius. "This is a very bad idea," he said calmly.

"I know."

"You’re going to regret it a lot."

"I know."

"Last chance to change your mind."

"Not happening."

Remus entered the cell. The moment he was inside, Sirius dropped the wand, then released Andromeda, who immediately scooted away from the cell, eyes wide with fear.

"What the hell was that?" Remus demanded, grabbing Sirius’ shoulder and hauling him to his feet. "What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?"


Remus couldn’t remember ever being quite so angry in his life.

"You are out of your so-called mind," he snarled into Sirius’ face. "You bloody idiot, without Danger here, I’m not safe! You’re not going to be able to control me — not with two human beings in here with us! I’ll kill them both, you bastard!" He was having trouble even controlling his voice. "Do you want them both to die?"

"I don’t think they have to die," Sirius said. "But I do think you have to calm down."

"Is that a joke? Because it’s not funny. We have—" Remus checked his watch. "Exactly six minutes until moonrise, and I am in here with you — you threatened an innocent person to get me put in here with all of you — and you want me to calm down? Ha, ha. Very funny. And not happening. How could you do this to me?" It was almost a scream. He turned to look at Danger, so still, so white on the bed, with Aletha kneeling beside her, head bowed. "God, I don’t want to kill her, I don’t want to kill any of you..."

"Then don’t," Sirius said matter-of-factly. "Call Danger back. She said you could do it. She told you to do it. So do it."

"Do it," Remus repeated. "Just do it. Just like that." He snapped his fingers. "Is that what you want?"

"Yes. That’s what I want."

"Wonderful. Fine. Brilliant. Only one problem. I don’t know how." It was a virulent hiss, directly into Sirius’ face. They were almost the same height — Sirius was only about an inch taller — so it wasn’t difficult to do. Sirius didn’t even flinch as spit sprayed him.

"Now you have incentive to find out," he said calmly.

"Incentive?" Remus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. "Is that what this was about? Giving me incentive? You’re completely out of your mind, Sirius. Absolutely insane."

"And you’re wasting time," Sirius countered. "Believe it or not, Moony, I do have some idea what I’m doing here. Call it a calculated risk."

Remus told him what he could do with his calculations, and his risks, and where he could go while he was doing it.

Sirius whistled. "I didn’t even know you knew some of those words," he said in tones of admiration. "I don’t know some of those words." His face turned serious. "You’d better get started, though. There isn’t much time."

Remus glared at him, then turned back to the bed where Danger lay. Aletha got up, getting out of his way. "Letha—" Remus caught her arm and stared at her, wondering if he’d ever see her alive again. "I’m so sorry. For everything."

"Don’t be," she said, a touch distantly. "It’s not your fault." She embraced him, and Remus felt a little — just a little — better.

"Letha, can I talk to you?" Remus heard Sirius ask, as he went painfully to his knees beside Danger.

"I don’t really want to talk to you right now, Sirius Black."

Remus tuned them out as he took Danger’s hand. As before, the pain in his joints receded as he touched her. But it wasn’t enough, he could feel it. Her physical presence reduced the effects of the rising moon, but her spirit — her soul — would be needed to keep the wolf entirely at bay.

"Call me home," she said. "Call me back." All right. I’m calling.

He gathered all his need — physical, mental, emotional, everything. His body needed her touch — his mind needed her voice — but most of all, his soul needed her love. He held all that need in his mind for an instant, shaking with the intensity of it, then released it, speaking the name of his need, sending the name forth to quest for the one it named.


Then he waited.

Because if that wasn’t enough, he didn’t know what would be.


"What is your decision?" asked Godric Gryffindor.

Danger held herself proudly. "I have decided to stay with you, and send my magic back to my world, to hold my Pack safe against harm. So I speak, so I intend."

"So let it be done," answered the ten people in the room — three of them the faithful Founders of Hogwarts, seven the children of the Founders, including a son of Salazar Slytherin. He was regarding Danger curiously as the others rose to leave the room, each bowing or curtseying to Danger as they went.

"Do I have something on my face?" she asked him.

"No. I was just a touch surprised at your decision."


"You didn’t strike me as the selfish type."

And before she could come up with a reply, he had risen, bowed, and was striding out the door.


How, exactly, does giving up what I want more than anything in the entire world count as being selfish?

Anger boiled up in her — she stormed to the door, ready to give him a piece of her mind —

The Great Hall of Hogwarts was empty.

Of course it is. This is a dream. Or a higher reality or something like that. You can probably go places just by wanting to. Like Apparating without the work.

I’ll have to learn how.

The reality of her situation began to penetrate her mind. She sank down on the steps of the dais, shaking.

I’ll have to learn how. Because I’m staying here.

I’m never going home.

I’ll never be with the Pack again.

I’ll never have another den-night.

I’ll never proofread Sirius’ stories.

I’ll never try to teach Letha how to scramble eggs.

I’ll never see the cubs off to Hogwarts.

I’ll never see any of them again...

No. That’s not quite right. I’ll be able to see them. If Gryffindor will teach me how to do that thing with the air — if I can learn it — then I’ll be able to see them any time I want...

She looked up at the enchanted ceiling, unsurprised to see it had turned dark gray with clouds.

But I’m Pack — no, I was Pack — and we need — they need — to touch, to hold, to scent one another. Just seeing won’t be enough. Not really.

But it will have to be.

The clouds were thick overhead. The Hall was dark.

Danger began, quietly, to cry.

I did what was best for everyone. I did what I had to do.

Why does it have to hurt so much?


It was not her own thought. After eight years, she could tell the difference.

"Remus!" she answered aloud, automatically, her hand flying to her throat at the sound of his voice, so anguished, so desperate.

No. I imagined it. It wasn’t him. I’ll never hear his voice again...



It was the voice he’d been wanting to hear for three hours, the voice he had feared with all his heart he would never hear again. Danger — thank God, you’re not dead — but where are you? Please, come back.

No, she said as if to herself. I imagined it. It wasn’t him. I’ll never hear his voice again. I’ll never be with him again. But I do wish I could have said goodbye...

The link between them was tenuous, threatening to break any second. Remus scanned it desperately, gleaning scant bits of facts — she was trapped somewhere, somewhere she would have considered wonderful, if it had not become her prison — she had to stay, because of some kind of deal she had made —

Any deal can be renegotiated. She could still come back.

But she can’t do it by herself. She’s given her word already.

As he saw more and more of the picture, he realized what he had to do.

Damn you, Sirius, you were right. This was necessary. I would never have been this desperate otherwise.

From across the cell, he heard Aletha sobbing.

Remus closed his eyes, gathered himself together, and flung his mind and soul onto his link with Danger, willing himself to be where she was, as she was, with her, together, as they should have been always...


I’ll never be with him again. But I do wish I could have said goodbye...

I wish I could have held him in my arms. One last time.

Between one blink and the next, something changed.

Danger stared in front of her, at the long, black thing on the floor. A shadow. She moved her arm, and a portion of the blackness moved. My shadow.

But to have a shadow, you have to have light...

Slowly, slowly, she turned to see where this new light was coming from.

He stood behind the one lighted candle, so that she could see him clearly. His face looked exactly as she remembered it. He wore black dress robes with a crimson lining.

She rose, facing him. They looked into one another’s eyes for a long moment, white and black, light and shadow, brown and blue.

Then they were together, in each other’s arms, and time no longer mattered. There was only the now, and the granting of a wish which seconds before had been entirely out of reach...

And somewhere, lurking in a back corner of her mind, the understanding that this would make the eventual, inevitable, final parting so much harder...

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