Disclaimer - Usual. Don't own. Not making money.... Yadda Yadda

Chapter 12 

Sirius and Remus stared at each other for about a minute. Remus was half hoping this was still part of his nightmare, though he knew it wasn’t; while Sirius couldn’t decide whether to punch Remus for lying or be concerned that he was in the hospital wing at all. 

Somehow, finding out that it was Remus behind the curtain left Sirius drained, and he decided he was too tired to fight. He simply turned around to walk back to his bed. 

"Sirius," Remus called after him. When he didn’t respond, Remus got out of bed and followed him. "Sirius, wait." Remus caught up to Sirius and grabbed his arm to stop him. He just wanted a chance to explain. Though, explain what, he wasn’t sure. Any explanation he had to offer would be a lie. 

Sirius felt Remus grab his arm, and before Sirius knew what was he was doing, he spun on the spot and punched Remus. He was wrong; he did have some fight left in him. Unfortunately, the twisting movement irritated his rib. Though it was no longer broken, it was still tender and shot pain through his side. He winced and wrapped his arm protectively around his middle, while bending over slightly. 

Remus reached up and touched his cheek gingerly. He probably deserved that, and he had no idea how to fix this. He looked at Sirius and noticed he was hunched over and seemed to be in pain. Without thinking, Remus reached out and put his hand on Sirius’ shoulder, "You okay?" 

Sirius nodded, while trying to steady his breathing. 

Madam Pomfrey bustled out of her living quarters, but when she saw the boys in the middle of the room she hesitated, not wanting to interrupt. "You boys all right?" she asked. 

Both boys answered in the affirmative, so after another moment’s hesitation, she went back to her room. 

The boys walked the rest of the way to Sirius’ bed and sat down, Sirius getting back under his sheets. 

"So what are you doing here?" Sirius asked, leaning back on his pillow. 

Remus tried the only lie he had been able to think up when he first found out Sirius was staying over night in the hospital wing. "I… my mum… Dad decided to take her to the hospital this trip. I think it all made me ill, so when I got back I came straight here."
Sirius was quiet for a moment. He still didn’t believe Remus, but he didn’t really have a reason not to. Who was he to say that Remus’ mum wasn’t ill? And Remus did look a bit sick. "Is she going to be okay?" 

Surprised that Sirius actually bought the story, Remus said, "Yeah, I’m sure she will."
"Are you going to visit her at St. Mungo’s?" 

"No. I… I don’t think so." Remus started to get nervous again. 

"Why not? I mean, don’t families do that when one of them is in the hospital? I would think the school would let you off to visit her. Especially since they let you go home once a month." 

"I don’t really want to miss more school. Besides, she’d not that bad. I think Dad’s going to bring her home when he gets back." The more Remus talked, the less plausible his story sounded. Why did Sirius have to keep asking questions? Remus also noted that Sirius had caught on to a monthly pattern to his “visits” home. 

"I don’t get it." Sirius said. 

"Get what?" 

"Why would your dad have you come home to take care of your mum, just to turn around and put her in the hospital? And then you’re not even visiting with her. If she’s bad enough to need a hospital, I would think you would want to be there. And if she’s not that bad, then why was she put there if you normally take care of her?" 

"Why does it even matter to you? Why do you care where my mum is? Why does it bother you so much?" Remus asked hotly. 

"Because you’re my friend! And I get bothered when someone I consider my friend is lying to me!" Sirius returned, just as upset. He hadn’t really meant to say the last part out loud but, as usual, his mouth got the better of him. 

Remus didn’t say anything in response. What could he say? 

"Are we friends?" Sirius asked. 

Without having to think about the answer, Remus answered, "Yes." 

"Then look me in the eye and tell me your mum is sick and you go home to take care of her every month." 

Remus looked Sirius straight in the eye and said… nothing. He couldn’t do it. He dropped his head and stared at his hands. Much to his surprise, he felt Sirius nudge him. 

"Thank you," Sirius said quietly, and lay back down on his pillow. 

Remus nodded. He felt better knowing that his lie was exposed, but the truth was still hidden and he wasn’t sure what to do with that. 

"So why are you here?" Sirius asked. 

When Remus looked up at Sirius, who had a smile on his face and curiosity shining through his eyes. Remus smiled back and hit his head in mock exasperation. He fell back onto Sirius’ bed, lying down next to him, with his feet propped up on Sirius’ pillow. 

"I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you," Remus snarked. 

Sirius chuckled, then nudged Remus’ legs. "No, really… Why are you here?" 

Remus rested his head on his arm so he could look at Sirius, "No, really… I can’t. It’s… It’s a secret." 

Sirius hrumphed, but decided to let it go for now. Remus had finally been honest – sort of – he didn’t want to lose the ground he’d gained in building trust. 

"So what are you going to tell the others?" Remus asked hesitantly. 

"Nothing. What’s to tell?" Sirius answered. But I will find out

Remus nodded appreciatively. "And, why are you here, if I may ask?" 

"Me? I decided to get up close and personal with that Whomping Willow. It didn’t really appreciate my advances," Sirius said with a grin. 

Remus laughed, but it was his turn to push. "Uh-huh. And your audience for this romantic failing just happened to include our favorite Slytherins?" 

"Yup. You know - family sticks together through, um… how’s that go?" 

"And who’s lying now?" Remus said gently, not wanting to cause another row. 

"Well, I’m not completely lying. I was hit by the Willow. I just happened to get backed into it by my cousin." 

"Are you going to tell Professor McGonagall?" 

"No. What’s the point? Bella’s family. Can’t escape from family." 

"But she’s just your cousin, right? I mean, it’s not like you live with her. The school can stop her from doing anything while she’s here, and I’m sure your parents wouldn’t let her do anything to you." 

Sirius chuckled humorlessly. "Right. She’s acting on orders. My parents’ orders. It doesn’t matter. I’ve survived for eleven years, right? What’s a few more?" 

"So what are you going to do?" 

"I’ve been thinking about that," Sirius said, with an evil smile spreading across his face. "Humiliations galore. We know enough good spells. I figure we can start attacking on whim. If she’s planning on making my life hell, she can join me." 

Looking at Sirius, Remus was forcibly reminded of the Cheshire Cat, and couldn’t help but laugh. 

The boys spent a couple of hours talking, planning and laughing until they eventually fell asleep. The next morning when Madam Pomfrey walked in, both boys were asleep on Sirius’ bed, heads at opposite ends. She couldn’t help but smile. She didn’t know if Remus had told Sirius his secret or not, but somehow, she didn’t think the other boy would care, and that gave her hope that Remus would be all right in the end. 

- - - - - 

A/N – For those who are wondering, “humiliations galore” is taken from The Princess Bride movie – one of the best movies of all time. I don’t own rights to that either, sadly. Oh… and the Cheshire Cat is from Alice in Wonderland – and no, I don’t own that either. Sorry this chapter is so short. I like to think of it as "short, but sweet." Thanks, as usual, to all those who so kindly take the time to review. That's awesome! Thanks also to Mom, mei mei and Sifi. You know what for. :)

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