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Tapping his fingers against the desk, Remus stared down at the contact information for the small camper who was sat in the lobby kicking his feet as they hovered a few inches off the ground. His designer trainers were unlaced, the strings frayed, the jumper he refused to take off in spite of it violating the uniform code was frayed round the edges of the sleeves from how often he put them into his mouth and chewed.

The kid had a file to his name larger than half the kids there combined. His medical records listed him as diagnosed high-functioning Autism, Hard of Hearing, suffering anxiety due to grief, and there was a mention that his one surviving parent was in and out of hospital due to early onset Alzheimer’s.

Remus anticipated some problems with Regulus Black from the moment he set foot at the camp. He was brought by a barmy old—what Remus assumed to be butler or caregiver—and relinquished into the hands of camp counsellors with two full, ancient-looking trunks full of clothing and bedding, as he was incapable of sleeping without his own. He never looked anyone in the eye—which Remus could deal with. But he was prone to wandering, interrupting every lesson, then suddenly withdrawing into himself and refusing to speak for hours, if not days.

Now he was asking to go home because he’d got it into his head his mother had somehow managed to harm his older brother—Remus learnt Regulus’ older brother was his mostly caregiver and had been for the better part of three years now. There had been tension, apparently, between the eldest Black and his family, but Regulus hadn’t gone into it much.

“I was the heir, and father accused him of changing so he could take it from me. I don’t think Sirius would do that. He’s Sirius now, by the way.”

Remus had no sodding clue what any of that meant. He only knew on the contact sheet Sirius Black was listed as the emergency contact, that he was twenty-four years old—just like Remus—and had residence in London.

With a sigh, he rang up the number and waited.

It rang far too long, and just when Remus thought he’d get a voicemail, a tired voice picked up. “Yeah?”

“Hi. I’m looking to reach a Mr Black? Sirius Black,” Remus amended quickly so Sirius wouldn't think Remus was ringing for the recently deceased Orion.

“Yeah, this is him.”

Licking his lips, Remus let out a small sigh. “Hi. I’m with Hogwarts, the camp your brother Regulus is—”

“Christ, what’s he done now?” Sirius asked, his tone even more weary and tired.

“No he’s not…he’s alright. He’s just having a bit of trouble. Thinks you may be hurt by your mother? And he’s been fairly inconsolable.”

There was a slight groan, but Remus had a feeling it wasn’t toward the younger brother at all, but toward the parents. “Alright. Well I suppose telling him you and I have spoken won’t do it. Er…can I come up and talk to him? Or is he wanting to come home or…?”

“I understand it’s a bit out of the way,” Remus began.

“Understatement of the year, mate,” Sirius replied.

Remus chuckled. “I know. So asking you to come all the way up is a bit of a chore. I could try putting him on the line but…”

“Nah, his hearing is shite over a phone. He won’t be able to pick up much. Look, it’s…it’s fine. I’ll make it work.”

“We’ve guest quarters if you want to make the journey and stay a bit,” Remus said quickly. “I mean, if that makes it easier.”

Sirius breathed out a huge sigh. “Yeah? That would actually be really brilliant because I drive a bike and honestly don’t fancy a sodding five hours there and five hours back in a single day.”

“Understandable. I’ll tell him to expect you tomorrow, then?”

“Yeah.” There was a pause, then Sirius asked, “Otherwise, he alright? He didn’t say anything specific did he? About my mum?”

“Well,” Remus said, flushing a bit. “Nothing you ought to worry about.”

“Right,” Sirius said, then laughed. “I’d say only believe half of what he says but you know, he’s a straightforward kid. So really I guess I’m just sorry you’ve heard all the drama.”

“It’s alright,” Remus said in a hurry. “Really. He’s a really good kid.”

“Yeah, he is that.” Sirius took another long breath. “Thanks, you know? For looking out for him.”

Remus smiled into the receiver. “Of course.”

Sirius rang off, then Remus went into the lobby and gave Regulus’ arm a tap. Going down to his level, he made sure he was close enough to be heard. “I’ve rung Sirius and he’s on his way, alright? He’ll be here tomorrow and even stay on a day or two to make sure you’re feeling alright.”

Regulus brightened up at that. “So he’s okay? Mum hasn’t…”

“No,” Remus said, not wanting to humour the dreadful thought of his brother being harmed, but also wanting to make sure the boy’s feeling were validated. “Your brother is just fine.”

“He’s a really good brother,” Regulus said. “They just need to learn that.” He hopped off the chair, a new bounce to his step, and went off to his afternoon archery lesson.

Feeling shattered by the stress, Remus wandered into the staff lounge and leant over the counter, a tired hand flicking on the kettle. After a few moments, a hand fell on his shoulder and he peered one eye over at the grinning redhead. “Evans.”

“You get Black sorted?” she asked. She’d been the one to find him curled up sobbing, but Regulus had taken to Remus and refused to calm down until he’d arrived on scene.

“His brother’s coming up tomorrow. I’m going to get guest quarters ready for him so he can stay on a night. He’s driving up from London.”

“Christ, that’s far just to check on a kid brother,” Lily said, shaking her head a bit.

“Well, family and all that,” Remus replied with a shrug. The kettle clicked off and he poured himself tea. “I’m a little terrified to know what his home life is like, really. But his brother sounds pretty good.”

She gave his arm a pat. “Don’t stress about it too much. It’ll be alright.”

Remus wanted to believe that, but over the years working at Camp Hogwarts, he’d seen several come through which had too rough a time. Most of them were rather spoilt and came from aristocratic money, but it didn’t mean things at home were better. Remus had a hard time of things as a young child, and though he’d never got the chance to get away like this, to forget for a summer how dreadful life could be, he knew if he had the power to help, he should.

So he did what he could, and often times the little ones like Regulus Black took to him, and he assumed because on some level, they knew he understood exactly what it was like.

***

Come morning, Remus was up early sneaking a fag by the lake whilst the kids were all at breakfast, when he heard the rumble of a car. Turning his head toward the path, he spotted a rather nice, sleek black car creeping up the road, and he could just make out sharp features and black hair in the passenger seat. There was no mistaking him for Regulus’ brother, and Remus quickly crushed out his smoke under his trainer, then hurried over.

He always felt a bit ridiculous in his little camp get-up when he had to meet people his own age. The maroon shorts with gold trim, and the matching shirt wasn’t the most becoming outfit of all time, but he reckoned they’d not judge too much since it was a requirement and all that.

Coming up the path, Remus came to a stop as he watched two blokes climb out of the car. The driver was a tall man—nearly as tall as Remus with dark skin and incredibly wild black hair. He wore rectangular glasses, and his jeans and shirt were most definitely designer.

The one next to him resembled Regulus even more up close. He was much shorter though, a slender figure clad in an almost too tight, button up white shirt and dark jeans. He had hair down to his shoulders, narrowed eyes like Regulus, and a sharp jaw with a slight five o’clock shadow growing. In short, he was bloody gorgeous and Remus felt himself shiver all over.

They both looked tired as well, but curious.

Remus collected himself, ran his fingers through the mop of curls he hadn’t bothered to wash in days, wished he looked at least a little more put together, and he waved as he approached. “Hi. You must be Sirius?”

Sirius swivelled his head round, then gave Remus a slow up and down. “You’re the one I spoke to yesterday?”

Remus extended his hand, and watched as Sirius’ long, slender fingers and black polished nails gripped his. His palm was warm and dry, and Remus wanted to hold it forever. Fuck. “Hi yes, I’m Remus Lupin. I’m the head counsellor here. I appreciate you making the drive. And looks like you skipped the bike?”

Sirius blinked in surprise, then barked a laugh. “Oh. Yeah James pointed out I’d be no good to Reg if I showed up here half-shattered and incoherent. So he drove me. That alright?”

Remus looked over at the taller man who quickly stepped forward and extended his own hand. “James Potter,” he said in a voice deeper, and somewhat more nasal than Sirius’. His accent was just as posh, though. “Weird to be back here, innit?”

Remus lifted a brow. “You two came here?”

“Met here,” James said, nudging Sirius who was looking around with some trepidation. “Every year from eleven to seventeen.”

Sirius chanced a smile, but he didn’t look as fond as his friend did. Or boyfriend? Fuck, Remus certainly hoped not, but he was in no position to be flirting at the present time. This was business.

“Well Regulus is at breakfast, and I think his house has got rowing first thing, so we can grab him before he gets suited up.”

Sirius grimaced. “Bloody rowing. Christ I forgot how pretentious this place was.” He swiped his hand across his forehead, then nodded to Remus. “Can you show us to the guest quarters? I need the toilet.”

Remus nodded, beckoning them along past the dining hall, to the smaller cabin which occasionally hosted guests of the camp. It was more put together than where the kids slept, but that was the point—being a bit rugged. Remus knew Sirius had a point with how pretentious Hogwarts could be, but the kids had a good time so it was hard to feel too bad about it.

“It’s unlocked. If you want, I can go fetch him and bring him round here.”

Sirius frowned, then nodded. “Yeah probably best. Don’t want to embarrass him in front of his mates.”

Remus bit his tongue against telling Sirius that Regulus didn’t exactly have people he’d call mates. There was no need to imply Regulus was having trouble socialising, and honestly Sirius probably knew already. But he appreciated the older brother’s care for the younger, and he hurried off to try and grab the thirteen year old before he could be carted off with his house.

Remus spotted the silver and green kits, and picked Regulus out of the group. He caught his attention by waving, then gestured for him to come over. “You’re brother’s here,” he said the moment he knew Regulus was close enough to hear him.

The boy brightened instantly. “Really? Where?”

“Waiting for you. He’s brought a friend as well,” Remus said as they walked out of the hall and onto the path. “You know his friend James?”

“Oh. Prongs. Yeah I know him,” Regulus said, and when Remus noticed there was no tension in the words, he relaxed. “They’re best mates. Prongs just broke up with his girlfriend so he and Sirius have been hanging out a lot to make him feel better.”

Remus felt somewhat elated that they weren’t boyfriends, though it didn’t mean Sirius was either gay, or interested. Especially considering how damned good looking he was. Remus wasn’t unattractive by any means, but didn’t generally catch the eye of people as good looking as Sirius Black.

He shook himself out of it, knowing it had been a damn long time since he’d dated anyone, but this was no time to try and pull someone. Not to mention Sirius would probably be gone by tomorrow and Remus would be back to work and likely forgotten.

He startled a bit as they approached the cabin, when Regulus took his hand. The boy looked a little nervous, and Remus gave his fingers a squeeze. “Alright there?”

Reg nodded. “Nightmares last night. I just…” He trailed off and shrugged.

Still holding his hand, Remus led the way to the door of the guest cabin and knocked. After a second, it swung open and Sirius stood there with a very small smile, looking at the pair of them. His eyes fixed on their linked hands and Remus tried to pull away, but Regulus held on tight.

“You’re alright,” the boy said.

Sirius nodded, then bit down on his lip as he raised his hands and twisted his fingers round to what Remus recognised as sign language. He knew enough of the alphabet if someone signed it very slowly, but not much else and he felt a bit of a twat not thinking it might be an easier way for Regulus to communicate.

After a second, the boy did let go to respond to his brother. Then he stepped in, and Remus stepped back, ruffling his hair a bit. “Alright so…shall I fetch him in a while?”

Sirius looked at Remus carefully, then back over at James. “He was fancying a cuppa? Can you help with that or have you got…dunno an activity or something?”

“Ah no, I just supervise so it’s no problem. The kitchens should be free by now.”

James followed Remus out the door, letting it close hard, and he gave Remus a small grin as they headed back toward the dining hall. “Used to sneak in at nights and do food raids,” he said as they rounded the corner of the path. “Me and Sirius. One time we stumbled on a stash of Whiskey our second to last year here. We didn’t get caught but I think half the counsellors knew because they made us run laps for an hour the next morning.”

Remus snorted, his head shaking. “No more than you deserved, you know.”

“Ah, well…we didn’t set much by the rules in those days. Now I know it’s going to bite me in the arse one day when I have me a kid or two.”

Remus smiled softly. “Well it’s your own fault, you know.”

James looked at him, then laughed. “You’re alright there, Remus.”

Remus grinned back. “Thanks. Not so bad yourself.” They came round to the back entrance to the kitchens, and Remus let out a breath of relief when he saw it was deserted. He immediately went through the door to the staff lounge, beckoning James along to where they kept the kettle and teas.

“Man, this was the one place Sirius and I could never get in to,” he said, glancing round. “That bastard Filch was always poking round. He still here?”

Remus grinned. “Not as much as he was, I reckon. But Dumbledore keeps him on.”

James brightened. “Old Alby’s still in charge of this place. Oh my god wait until Sirius hears this. We have to say hi.”

Remus laughed as he poured the hot water into two mugs. “I’m sure he’d love it. He gets no bigger thrill than seeing old campers. We get a few here and there volunteering for counsellors every so often.”

James added a bit of milk to his tea, no sugar, and sipped on it. “You never got the chance, eh? To go here as a kid?”

“Nah. Mum died young, we travelled a lot with my dad’s job. But it’s alright, I enjoy it now. Especially the bit where I’m in charge.”

James snorted. “Yeah I reckon so.” He went quiet a bit as they drank their tea, then asked, “How is Reg doing, really? I know he can be a bit…well…I don’t want to say he’s difficult but…”

“No he’s good,” Remus said, and added, “really,” when James gave him a dubious look. “He and I get on really well. He talks to me.”

“He was holding your hand,” James pointed out. “He doesn’t do that a lot, touch people. Even with Sirius it’s mostly preferring to be near him rather than hugs or anything.”

Remus nodded. “Same with us. I think he was just nervous. His anxiety’s been getting the best of him for a few days now. He hasn’t said a whole lot about his home life or anything, and I didn’t want to pry.”

“Even though it’s sort of your job?” James prodded wryly.

“It’s not exactly,” Remus said. “I mean sure, to report if I think there’s abuse, but it seems…different than that.”

James sighed into his mug. “It is, mostly revolving round Sirius and his parents. It got worse after his dad died, and his mum with her diagnosis. She raves a lot, and brings up the past which bothers Regulus. He never had trouble when Sirius…” James stilled, then said, “left. He accepted the situation for what it was, never thought of him differently. Only having to listen to his mum’s bigotry and vile hatred, I think he’s a bit afraid for his brother.”

“Yeah he gave me some bit about him being the heir and Sirius trying to steal it. According to his mum.”

“Rubbish,” James spat. “Anyway Sirius doesn’t want anything to do with his family. He’s biding his time and he’ll get custody of Reg when she passes. It’ll be better.”

Remus sighed quietly. “I hate to even think that about someone’s parent but…well…it seems so.”

James gave him a careful smile, but before he could go on, a figure appeared in the door and he immediately went quiet. Remus glanced over to see Lily, her eyes wide and almost furious. “You.”

His hand immediately went up to ruffle his hair as he said, “Evans. My god, I can’t believe you’re here.”

Licking her lips, she turned to Remus. “What the hell is James Potter doing at our camp?”

Remus, completely taken aback, cleared his throat. “Erm. He came with Regulus’ brother. How do you two know each other?”

“I had the misfortune of going to school with this toerag,” she snapped.

“Oy, that’s not fair. I’ll have you know I’m very mature now,” James defended, though he was still smirking a bit.

Rolling her eyes, she huffed. “I can’t believe Black’s the one you used to go on about at school. God, this is just my sodding luck. Remus, I need you to put out a notification swapping Archery with swimming because it’s going to storm later. The Ravenclaws have got it.”

Remus pulled out his mobile, opened the app which would update all the camp counsellor’s schedules, and he sent out the alert. “Sorted. Anything else?”

“No,” she said, then turned on her heel and stormed out.

Remus gave James a quirked brow. “Well, that was a coincidence.”

“Indeed. And she’s beautiful as ever.”

“And hateful?” Remus offered.

James laughed. “We didn’t get on. She thought I was an arrogant twat—and I was. We had one date and it ended poorly.”

Remus bit his lip. “Ah well…she’ll come round I’m sure. You seem perfectly nice to me.”

James clapped him on the shoulder. “You’re a good man, Remus. Anyway we ought to get back and check on those two. And I’m sure Reg doesn’t want to miss out on his entire day.”

***

They got back to the cabin to find Sirius and Regulus out front having a conversation that seemed to flow effortlessly between signing and speech. Regulus looked calmer now, almost sleepy, even but he grinned when he saw James and Remus walking up.

“I feel better,” he declared.

Remus felt something unknot in his chest, and his smile came easily. “Excellent. Do you want to head back to your activity? Sirius is going to be round until tomorrow. Right?” He glanced up at the elder brother who nodded.

“Yeah okay. Where are we at?”

Remus checked the app. “Your mates are just getting finished with rowing.”

Regulus let out a small laugh and shrugged. “Good. I hate that shite.”

Sirius smacked him on the arm a little. “Language.”

Regulus looked unrepentant as he stepped back from his brother, then hurried off along the path. Remus took a breath, then ruffled is hair again. “Well you two are welcome to wander. Albus is in his office and James mentioned you might want to stop and say hi.”

Sirius looked mildly surprised. “He’s still here?”

James nodded. “Also you’ll never guess who I ran into.” When Sirius quirked a brow he said, “Evans.”

“Oh fuck me, oh Christ tell me this isn’t going to start again,” Sirius groaned. He looked at Remus. “This fucking wanker pined for years and she wouldn’t give him the time of day. I cannot tell you the amount of sodding letters and texts I got over her. Then when she finally gave him a date, the twat went and got wankered on weed and whiskey before the date and vomited all over her shoes. Then went on some rant about how his parents could buy her an entire Harrod’s shoe department if she wanted and she threatened to turn him in for the drugs if he ever spoke to her again.”

James flushed. “Like I said, I was an idiot back then. I’ve since matured.”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “You didn’t ask her out, did you?”

With a grin, James shook his head. “Nah. But Remus here did vouch for me.”

“Ah fuck, Remus. He’s going to be impossible now,” Sirius groaned, rising from the step. He pressed a hand to his back and grimaced. “I’m aching today. You mind if I have a kip?”

Remus shook his head. “Go on. You’re welcome to come into the staff lounge if you want lunch, or tea or anything. And I’ll try to catch up with you later.”

Sirius smiled a little softly and nodded. “Thanks. Oh and by the way my brother thinks you’re fucking jam on toast so well done you. He usually doesn’t like strangers.”

Remus shrugged. “We understand each other. Have a nice kip, Sirius.”

Sirius looked at him, a curious expression on his face, but he turned and went in, James following him after.

Remus wondered if maybe there was at least the chance for friendship, if not more. But at the moment he had to focus on his tasks at hand.

***

The moment the door shut, Sirius let out a groan and fumbled for his shirt. “Sorry I think I have my sodding binder on too tight, and I slept wrong so everything hurts.”

“So take it off,” James said with a wave of his hand. “The beds are probably as shite as they were when we were here, but you can at least get a little sleep.”

Sirius nodded, reaching for his shirt, and let out a small moan as he pulled it over his head. He fumbled with the bottom of the binder, giving James a grateful smile when his best friend came up behind him and helped ease it over his head. Immediately his chest unknotted, though his back muscles spasmed a bit, and James pushed Sirius onto the bed, kneeling beside him to work at the muscles along his shoulder blades and spine.

“You’re a bloody god amongst men, you know that?” Sirius muttered into the pillow.

James laughed. “Before I was a twat over Evans, and now I’m a god. You cannot ever make up your mind.”

“Yeah well, you love me.”

James hummed, finishing up a bit, and as Sirius started to relax, he sat back. “So everything alright with Reg?”

Sirius let out a sigh as he turned his face to look at his best friend. “Mum was being…mum right before he left. She’s still not gone enough to require hospitalisation or to be removed from the home. She’s got her in-home nurses but he was saying she slipped into some rant right before he left. Saying that if I don’t stop pretending, she’s going to have to take matters into her own hands. Terrified him.”

“Fuck her,” James said, his voice full of venom.

Sirius reached out, squeezing James’ thigh for the support. James was the first person Sirius had come out to. His first year of camp Sirius had been acting out. He was taken into Dumbledore’s office where he cried and said he wasn’t a girl at all, but no one understood. Dumbledore and his Deputy—Minerva McGonagall—chatted with him for hours and by the time he was finished, he was Sirius Black, and he was a boy, and he was sharing a bunk with James Potter who shrugged and said, “Whatever you like, mate.”

And that was that. At least as far as James was concerned.

It was years before Sirius could come out to his parents, and when he did the inevitable happened—he was thrown out and told never to return. Which was fine by him. The Potters welcomed him with open arms, never once misgendered him, never once assumed he was anything other than Sirius Black, and the only real painful part of it was losing his baby brother. Sirius had been taking care of his little brother, and being thrown out meant he wouldn’t get the chance to protect his brother. He had learnt to sign when his parents discovered Regulus was Hard of Hearing, and he’d read up on autism, and therapy, and stimming and did everything in his power to makes sure Regulus never grew up thinking he was different.

Not like Sirius.

When his father passed, Sirius was allowed to be more involved instead of sneaking visits at Regulus’ school and inventing pretend weekends at a mate’s house to have Reg over. Walburga became ill and though she hated Sirius, she allowed him to step in. Under the conditions he tolerate her abuse.

It caused dysphoric days and anxiety, but for Reg he’d endure worse. And as much as he hated himself for thinking it, her days on the earth were numbered.

“M’drifting off,” Sirius muttered as he realised his eyes were closing of their own accord. “Can you make sure the door’s locked so I don’t have to cover up?”

“Of course. I might pop out and explore a bit, so if you hear knocking, it’s probably me.”

Sirius hummed into the pillow as he nuzzled deeper into the surprisingly comfortable beds, and heard James click the lock on the door handle, and then it shut with purpose. He didn’t enjoy being dragged away from his life and his job, but like always, he’d do anything for his little brother.

***

Remus didn’t see Sirius at lunch, though James was there having a boisterous conversation with Albus full of laughs and massive grins. Remus could see why people liked James. He was friendly, and there was something genuine about him that a lot of people didn’t possess. He caught Lily watching a few times as well, a look on her face he knew well. A bit of regret and curiosity. Had he changed, really? Remus wanted to bet yes, but he knew pushing his friend would do no good.

So instead he decided to get together a sandwich and some crisps to deliver to Sirius who would have to be hungry by now. Slipping away, he hurried down the path and came to the guest quarters. The curtains on the window were drawn, and he knocked, then tried the handle but that was locked.

A few moments later, he heard a scuffle, and the door opened. Sirius stood there with his shirt on, and immediately wrapped his arms round his chest. “Shit. I thought you were James. Fuck erm…” he backed up as Remus stood there with a frown. “Can you um. Can you give me a sec?”

“Sure,” Remus said with a nod. “I just brought you some lunch. Thought you might be peckish after sleeping all morning.”

Sirius looked like he wanted to say something, but instead he kicked the door shut with his foot. It was odd, Remus decided, but he didn’t think too much about it. Sirius was busy for all of five minutes, and when he returned to the door, he seemed a little more at ease.

“Sorry I was er…more undressed than I like.”

Remus blinked, confused, but he shrugged. “Well I didn’t mean to intrude.” He offered up the plate, and Sirius took it, beckoning him inside. “James is with Albus right now, and I know how that old man can be.”

Sirius let out a small laugh as he collapsed back on the bed, balancing the plate on his stomach as he lounged against the headboard. “Yeah. Barmy old codger. Have a seat, by the way. Unless this is like…against some rule?”

Remus snorted. “Nah, not really. We’re both grown men.”

Sirius gave him a wolfish grin before taking a large bite of the sandwich. “Fuck, I didn’t realise how hungry I was. Thanks, mate.”

“Any time. And if you’re feeling better, Regulus has most of the afternoon free so I think he’d like to see you.”

Sirius chewed, looking at Remus with a thoughtful expression. “You think he’s alright, don’t you?”

“Do you mean as a person, or as in the situation?”

Sirius swallowed his bite, fiddling with the side of the plate. “Both, I guess.”

“Well I think he’s a fucking brilliant kid,” Remus said swiftly. “We’ve got on really well and I know he can give the others a little bit of trouble, but you’ve done a damned good job.”

“Oh well I haven’t,” Sirius began, but Remus reached out and touched his knee.

“Yeah, you have. Believe me I’ve talked to him enough to know exactly who’s responsible for the person he’s turning out to be.”

Sirius felt his cheeks go hot, and he swallowed. “Well erm. Thanks.”

Remus realised he embarrassed Sirius, so he went on quickly. “Also I think he’s going to be just fine right now. After my mum died I had this paralysing fear I’d lose my dad too. So I’d be at school and suddenly overcome with this fear that I’d walk in to find him dead. Or that he would just not come home from work. Took me ages to feel confident again, and if your brother’s got someone talking rubbish about you—even if it’s not entirely your mum’s fault, it’s going to have an effect. But little things like this shows him you’re not going anywhere.”

Sirius rubbed his face. “He’s just…really great, you know?” Worrying his bottom lip between his teeth he said, “Can I be honest about something that might bother you?”

Having not known Sirius longer than a handful of minutes, Remus shifted on the bed and looked him in the eye. “Yes, of course. But I don’t get bothered easily.”

“Well you might. At this.” Sirius blinked, then swallowed and let out a careful laugh. “Funny because I’m not usually like this. I’m usually the, this is who I am and fuck your opinion of me entirely. But where my brother’s concerned…”

Remus stopped him. “You don’t have to say.”

“I know but…” Sirius looked at the door as though someone might burst in, then shook his head. “Thing of it is, he might tell you and I’d rather clear things up before you get details from a thirteen year old.”

“Alright,” Remus said slowly.

Sirius took a breath. “I’m trans,” he said in a rush. “A trans man. I worked it out my first year at camp here. Dumbledore helped me get sorted, I bunked with James who was really good about it. And my brother, being who he is, he’s very straightforward about things. You tell him, ‘Reg, this is how it is now,’ and he accepts it as the truth and moves on. He was the second person I told. I was sixteen and he was five, and I told him that sometimes there are boys who are born in bodies that aren’t like other boys. That I didn’t have a penis, and I had breasts, but I was still a boy. And that my name was Sirius and I wanted him to call me brother. And he said, ‘Oh. Alright. I like the name Sirius.’ And that was it. Only my parents, of course, worked it out and had me chucked out. He’s never once gone back on it, he knows me as his brother and it’s always been that way but my mother has done her damndest to break him of it.”

“Christ,” Remus said, his face falling. “Sirius…I don’t even know what to say. That’s so unfair to the both of you.”

Sirius was staring at the now-empty plate on his stomach and his fingers were toying with a loose strand on the duvet. “So you see the kind of pressure he’s under still living with her.”

Remus nodded, reaching out to give Sirius’ leg another squeeze. “Makes sense, actually. When he was telling me why he was upset, he mentioned something about your mother needing to learn you’re a good brother. And he told me once that you’re Sirius now.”

Sirius let out a small laugh and shrugged. “I wish more people were like him, you know? Just… accepting.”

Remus nodded and said very quietly, “So do I.”

***

A little while later, Remus managed to convince Sirius to exit the cabin and have a look round for Regulus. They checked a few of his usual haunts, but presently he was off on his own. Remus wasn’t worried, but Sirius was a little put off.

“Don’t worry, we’ve got really good security round here and the campers always have supervision. Why don’t we go check by the lake, yeah?”

Sirius shrugged, then followed Remus down the path toward the Great Black Lake. “Got my first snog here, you know?”

Remus lifted his brows. “Really? I mean I can’t say I’m surprised. You can’t imagine how many I’ve caught down here after curfew.”

Sirius threw his head back and laughed. “Yeah, I’ll bet. Was when I discovered I was gay. The most adorable bloke who was in Ravenclaw, Gideon. Kept giving me the eye, and we went at it for hours. God, James took the piss for weeks because every girl had been trying to get into his pants. We never went that far, of course, but I strutted round like a bloody peacock.”

Remus rolled his eyes, but nudged him a little as they made their way to the shore. “I would have loved to have some of your confidence growing up. I was so petrified of everything as a kid I didn’t come out until I was nineteen. Then a handful of disastrous relationships later I sort of… gave up. You’re bloody fit though, so…”

“Oy,” Sirius said, rolling his eyes. “If this is some sort of self-depreciating rubbish…”

“No,” Remus said quickly. “Just honest. I mean, I’m alright with being plain, you know.”

“But you’re not,” Sirius said, then looked at him, making Remus’ face light up bright. “You’re not plain at all.”

Shuffling his feet, Remus looked out over the water and saw a handful of kids in a boat with Lily and…someone. He squinted. “Oh my god is that James?”

Sirius put his hand over his eyes, then crowed a loud laugh. “Holy shit, it is! Oh he’s going to pull her. My life is ruined.”

“She’s not so bad, you know,” Remus said carefully.

“Oh I’ve no doubt. But he is. He was gone over her like no one else. It was miserable.”

“Well, maybe they’ll make each other happy. I’m not sure it was a coincidence him showing up here like this.”

Sirius turned and gave Remus a cheeky wink. “You a secret romantic, Remus Lupin?”

Remus flushed. “Maybe not so secret.”

Licking his lips, Sirius stepped just a little closer. “So any chance you want to swing by mine after curfew tonight? James happened to bring a bottle of whiskey. We can reminisce about the old days?”

“Oh god, that’s so against the rules,” Remus groaned, then smirked back. “I’m in.”

***

Sirius stood in front of the small mirror in their little cabin preening. He’d applied a bit of gloss to his lips, glowering at James who was snickering and taking the piss because he wanted to look nice.

“You fancy him,” James pointed out.

With a huff, Sirius rolled his eyes. “So?”

“So I’m right.”

Groaning, Sirius turned and threw his small tube of lip gloss over at James, hitting him in the chest. “Sod off. Besides I bet he’s going to bring Lily and you’re going to get pissed again and puke all over her shoes and she’ll hate you for the rest of her life.”

“I won’t,” James said, sticking his chin in the air. “And don’t you put your bloody dating curses on me, Sirius Black. Or I’ll tell all your secrets.”

“He’s good and pure, James. He won’t care.”

“You’ve known him nine hours and he’s already agreed to break the rules and get pissed in our cabin after curfew. If he’s pure I’ll eat my pants.”

Sirius shoved a V at James before flopping onto the bed and taking a pull from the bottle to get things started. He’d already said his goodnights to Regulus, promising to visit again if he needed it, and also reassuring him he’d be here to pick him up from the last day at camp. They had fifteen minutes until official lights out, and Sirius was getting anxious.

He’d spent a good portion of the day with both Remus and Regulus after losing James to the beauty that was Lily. James had gone off to have a round of footie with the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors, and by tea he was besotted all over again.

Regulus and Sirius had dinner near the staff table with Remus, and they took turns throwing peas at James’ head who politely ignored them just to show off how mature he’d become over the years. Lily obviously knew he was full of shit, but she appreciated it anyway and implied she might be along with Remus later that night.

“I’m going to marry her. It’s fate,” James said, laying on his own bed.

Rolling his eyes, Sirius took another drink. “That’s what Remus said earlier today.”

James propped himself up on his elbow and held his hand out for the bottle. “Did he really?”

“You’re not having any until they get here. I’ll not have you unable to hold your liquor.”

“Like you do any better,” James cried before launching himself at Sirius’ bed. They wrestled, James trying to get the bottle away, and only stopped when a voice in the doorway cleared their throat.

The two looked up to see a slightly amused Remus and Lily with hands on their hips. “Evening,” Sirius said, brushing a bit of his fringe away from his eyes.

James flushed. “He was being mean and not sharing.”

Lily smirked. “Probably better, although I made sure I wasn’t wearing my good shoes tonight.”

James huffed as he got up, offering a hand to Sirius and they both took to the beds again. Remus locked the door before letting himself down to Sirius’ bed, and carefully took the bottle, uncapping it and taking a long swig.

“Very nice,” Sirius said with a little grin.

Remus swiped his hand across his mouth. “I might not have got up to everything you two did, but I did my fair share of misbehaving.”

“Clearly. And taking Lily along with you.” James tisked his tongue, and Lily laughed, snatching the bottle away before James could get to it. “Oy, three against one!”

Lily took two swigs before finally passing it over. “So, I suppose this is our do-over, isn’t it? You think you can handle yourself this time, Potter?”

Remus rolled his eyes and leant into Sirius, whispering loudly, “She fancies him.”

“Do you mind?” Lily cried.

Remus smiled. “Not at all, my darling.”

One hour later had them pissed enough they were relaxed, but not so arsed James was in any danger of puking, or Sirius compelled to get up to any untoward pranks. Eventually Sirius decided he needed a smoke, and reached his hand out to Remus.

“Come on, the lake’s gorgeous at night and these two obviously want a snog.”

Remus looked over to the pair who were on James’ bed arm in arm, and neither bothered to deny it. He rolled his eyes a bit and said, “I hope you use protection,” before Sirius dragged him out.

The pair broke into a run, heading down the path toward the lake, and eventually collapsed beside a tree, shoulder-to-shoulder. Sirius fished smokes out of his pocket and lit one, taking a long drag. “You want?”

“Nah, trying to cut down,” Remus said, leaning his head on Sirius’ shoulder.

“Pity.” Sirius smoked a while before he said anything else. “So Remus. Is this a date?”

Startled by the question, Remus shifted a bit so he could look at the other man. “Do you want it to be?”

“Well. Yeah,” he admitted. “But I know most cis guys—gay ones—get a little hung up on the vagina thing so…”

“That’s… I’m…” Remus stuttered for a minute, then cleared his throat. “I’m alright with it. I really like you.”

Sirius brightened a bit. “Yeah? I hoped. Kept calling me fit and all that. You’re not the most smooth guy in the world, but you did catch my eye.”

Remus huffed. “Flattering, I’m sure.”

“Oh don’t be pissed off with me.” Sirius reached out and grabbed his hand, playing with Remus’ fingers a little. “Is it horrible that I’m glad my brother needed me?”

Remus felt his body flush as Sirius took his hand, and he turned his, pressing them palm-to-palm. “No. I mean okay maybe morally, yes. But selfishly…”

Sirius laughed, tugging Remus closer. He continued to smoke, the pair of them cuddling against the tree, watching the glint of moonlight on the still, black waters of the lake. “You think he’s gonna be alright?”

“With you looking out for him? Yes, I do.” Remus sighed, turning his face in to nuzzle at Sirius’ neck only because it was okay now, because this was a date and he couldn’t be more thrilled. “I wish I had been so lucky as a kid.”

Sirius eventually flicked what was left of the cigarette, and the pair watched the slow arc of the red cherry, listening to the faint hiss as it hit the water and went out. “I worry all the time, you know? And sometimes I get angry because I’m the older brother. This isn’t supposed to be my job. But then what else has he got? My batshit, bitch mother who wants to poison him? Dead father who wasn’t any better when he was alive? I might not be the most put together bloke on the planet but…”

Remus reached out, turning slightly so he could cup Sirius’ cheek. “You’re alright though, you know? Really. I know we barely know each other, but having known your brother these few weeks, I see where your parents end, and you begin. And some kids aren’t so lucky.”

Sirius let his eyes close a bit as he leant into Remus’ hand, nuzzling it a bit with his cheek. “You wanna see me again after this? I mean, after camp.”

Remus smiled. “As it so happens, I would love that. Lily and I had planned to flat together in London so…”

Sirius’ eyes snapped open. “You’re joking?”

Remus shook his head, grinning. “We don’t actually live here, you know.”

Sirius rolled his eyes, putting his hand round the back of Remus’ neck and tugging him down so their foreheads pressed together. “Well I figured that, you git. But I just…that’s really great. Because I’d like to make a go of this.” Sirius stopped then, and took a breath. “I might have him soon though. Reg. Full time. Like…like raising him and…”

“I know,” Remus said quietly. He moved his hand again to cup Sirius’ cheek, rubbing his sharp cheekbone with the pad of his thumb. “I wasn’t kidding when I said I thought your brother was brilliant. I’ll…I’ll learn to sign, you know?”

Sirius blinked, his throat going suspiciously tight, and he gripped the back of Remus’ neck harder. “Can I kiss you? Because I feel like I’m going to burst if I don’t kiss you immediately.”

Remus carefully fisted his fingers in the front of Sirius’ shirt, mindful of his binder. “Yeah. Yeah I think you’d better.”

Then they pressed together, mouth to mouth. Remus groaned a little, and Sirius slid his tongue against Remus, both panting a little wetly against each other’s lips. Their grips on each other tightened, holding each other firm but careful.

“Fuck,” Sirius breathed as he broke away. “Fuck me, but I fancy you.”

“Good thing,” Remus whispered, dipping his head low to mouth at Sirius’ neck. “Because I rather fancy you back.”

***

Epilogue

Remus walked in the door, dropping his keys the moment he was inside, and looked round. Regulus was on the sofa with a book propped against his crooked legs, and Remus noticed he didn’t have his aids in, so he stomped on the floor when he reached the lounge, and the sixteen year old looked up with a grin.

‘Alright?’ he signed.

Reg nodded, answering with lazy, one-handed signing. ‘Long day. Sirius head-ache. Bedroom.’

‘Need anything?’

Reg shook his head and pointed at his book. ‘Homework.’

‘Okay.’ He reached over to ruffle the kids’ hair, then moved back down the hall to the bedroom he’d been sharing with Sirius for two years now.

When he’d got back to London, they began dating, though both were a bit reserved at first. But when it became clear Remus was in it, was falling in love with Sirius for who he was no matter what—and was more than happy to accept Sirius would be an all-but parent to his brother—things snowballed from there.

Lily and James got engaged—which surprised absolutely no one at all, and instead of splitting up completely, Remus and Sirius got a flat for themselves and Regulus in the same building. Remus took his BSL levels the moment he could sign up for the class, and by the time Regulus was living with them full time, he was all-but fluent.

Regulus was able to attend the Deaf school where his marks were better than they ever had been, and he felt more confident than he had in his life. They were happy. A strange little family, but the best sort.

Pushing the door open carefully, Remus poked his head in and saw Sirius on the bed, a pillow covering the upper half of his face. Only his nose and mouth was sticking out, and Remus carefully leant on the bed, pressing a soft kiss to those lips.

“Mm,” Sirius groaned, and pushed the pillow up just enough to peer at Remus. “Hey.”

“Migraine?”

Sirius groaned and nodded. “Started up this morning. I skived off work.”

“Meaning James sent you home because you wouldn’t stop whinging?”

Sirius huffed, then grabbed Remus by his shirt and pulled him down to the bed. Remus hand immediately went up Sirius’ shirt, his fingers ghosting along his belly, then up his sternum between his breasts, to his collar bone. He went up higher, starting to knead the muscles on Sirius’ left shoulder right in the crook of his neck where it was the most tense.

“God, that feels so good.”

Remus increased the pressure, kissing along the underside of Sirius’ chin. “Good. I’ll get you something for it in a bit, and sort out tea. Reg is getting his homework done, so you don’t have to worry about anything for the rest of the night.”

Shoving the pillow aside, Sirius turned, taking Remus by the hips and pulling him close. They kissed gently, their chests pressed together. “I love you,” he mumbled against Remus’ lips.

Remus cupped Sirius’ cheek carefully, kissing him once more. “I love you too.” He sat a moment and just basked in the wonder that was his boyfriend, not bothering to question how he got so lucky, just appreciating it. “I’m happy, you know.”

Sirius peeked one eye open again, and his smile—though pained from the headache—was brilliant and wide. “Yeah?”

Remus nodded. “Yeah. More than I thought I could be.”

Sirius nuzzled his face into Remus’ neck. “Me too. You’re the best.”

Remus carefully carded his fingers into his lover’s hair and murmured against those dark locks, “No love. You are.”