Turning Time

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26 March, 1977 9:13

Remus poked at his eggs. "Lily wants to talk after dinner. Just the two of us."

Juice dribbled from James' mouth. "Is it about me?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Where?"

"I don't know, one of the courtyards. We're walking from dinner together. Wait, you're not going to eavesdrop, are you?"

"Oh, no, of course not." James replied, without glancing at me or Peter. "If it's not about me, I don't see why we would."

I hid my smirk by taking another bite of toast.

Remus looked between us. "Okay, because it sounded serious."

James rolled his eyes. "I get it, Moony. No eavesdropping." But when Remus wasn't looking, James winked at me.

That night, Peter and James crept under the cloak while I used a Disillusionment Charm—there was only room for two. We decided that it would be best that I was the one who risked being spotted; I could more easily talk my way out of it, and Remus wouldn't hold a grudge.

Lily and Remus sat down on a bench close to the Dining Hall.

"How are you?"

"Fine, you?"

"Yeah, I'm well." Lily looked around. "You didn't tell James I wanted to meet, did you?"

Remus fidgeted. "No, of course not. I knew he would want to follow me if I had."

"Okay." She breathed in. "I didn't know who else to talk to about this, but…well, first, if you don't mind me asking…are you with Sirius?"

Remus stared at her. "With him?"

Lily blushed, starting to doubt her suspicions. "Yeah, or at least, do you fancy him?"

"Where's this coming from?"

Lily tried to read his expression. "I'm not interested in Sirius, or anything."

"Oh. I didn't think…" Remus rubbed the back of his neck. "But, er, I…"

Lily placed a hand on his arm. "You can tell me."

Remus was still taken aback, but he managed, "I fancy him, yeah. Er, how could you tell?"

"I pay attention. I thought I was mad, until the party, when you…well, you know. Plus, I could tell you were fighting after he snogged Raven, and I put the pieces together. Before that, I had suspicions about all four of you, but James was hard to place, and Peter's discomfort was unlikely to mean much, but you two…"

"Does anyone else know?"

There was no urgency in Remus' voice. He didn't seem to care as much as I assumed he would.

"No. See—that's why I wanted to talk. Because I think you and I—we're the same. I mean, we're both attracted to boys and girls."

Remus blinked. "Really? You're bisexual, too?"

Lily nodded. "Looking back, I could tell how I felt as a kid. But at the time I thought that all girls felt the same way I did, but our attraction to boys was different…And as I grew up, I thought I had to choose. James hasn't helped with the confusion, you know. Truly, he made me doubt whether I'd ever want to be with a bloke. So I waited to feel something. And at the party, when I kissed Artemis, I did feel something. But I wasn't only looking at the girls at the party, I looked at the boys, too." She glanced at Remus. "What about you? When did you know?"

Remus thought for a moment. "I'm used to hiding. Sometimes that means from myself. But with this…it seemed trivial compared to other things. But, er, like you, I thought I had to be one way or the other. More than that, I thought I was just sexually frustrated. Especially since it's not an even 50-50 split between the two, you know? But when I started to fall in—to fancy Sirius, I realized it was more than physical."

Lily studied him. "Are you going to tell anyone you're bi? Because I'm not sure what I should do. I'm assuming James and Peter know about you, so how did they take it?"

Remus hesitated, pretending to remember as he searched the wall for a sign that we were eavesdropping. "They've all taken it in stride, of course. Peter is more awkward about it, but he's like that with everything. James…he might be too okay with it. Your friends could be different. Have you tried bringing up other people who are gay in conversation to test their reaction?"

"Yeah, actually, and I've found—I suppose they think it's weird, but it doesn't go against their beliefs, per se, just what they think is normal. So I don't know. I just don't want things to change between us."

"Do you feel like you're lying to them? Or pretending to be someone you're not?"

Lily shrugged. "Yeah. But why make myself miserable because of it?"

"I think…if you're more uncomfortable sharing than hiding, well, wait until you fancy a girl."

Lily furrowed her brow. "Really?"

"Or until you're in a relationship."

"Is that how you came out?"

"Er…yeah. I suppose how it played out wasn't ideal, but yeah."

"I have to trust I'll know when the right time is. My friends are too gossipy for it to stay a secret, though, so I would have to be prepared for the whole school to know." Lily inhaled deeply, then exhaled. "I feel much better."

Remus smiled a little. "Me too. If you need to talk about anything, just let me know."

They stood and hugged.

Lily gestured down the corridor. "Are you going to the tower?"

"No, I'm gonna see if I can find the other Marauders."

"Okay, see you later, then. Oh, and Remus?"

Remus turned. "Yeah?"

"You won't tell anyone? Even Sirius?"

He shook his head. "Course not."

Lily smiled. "Thank you." Then she left.

Remus waited until she turned the corner before drawing his wand. He pointed in our direction and said, "Expelliarmus!"

My wand shot out of my pocket.

Remus caught our wands, turning red with anger. "Fuck you lot. Fuck you." Then he started in the opposite direction.

"Wait, Remus!" James took off the cloak and hurried after him. "We won't tell anyone. We haven't said anything about you, why would you think—"

"But she asked to talk to me, because she knew I would understand, okay? You can't understand. And you're not friends with her, so you had no right."

James let go of his arm. "C'mon, Remus, it's not a big deal. It doesn't change anything."

Remus flipped him off and walked away.

James mouth hung open as he turned to look at me. "What's stuck up his arse?"

I frowned. "I dunno. He's going through a rebellious phase."

"Or Sirius is up his arse," Peter suggested.

I glared at Peter as James laughed. "Ha ha, very funny."

James sobered and looked down the corridor. "We have to do something to make it up to him."

"Like what?"

James pressed his lips together. "Something big. He's put up with our shit for so long, we need to take some of his shit. Animagus project-scale."

A thought struck me. "Then, you won't miss your free time?"

James raised an eyebrow at me.

I took a breath. "Let's find a cure."

27 March, 1977 19:56

"Headmaster, we want to talk to you about a possible project."

Dumbledore sat down at his desk and gestured for us to sit.

I glanced at James, then said, "We want to find a cure for werewolfism."

"Lycanthropy, yes—"

James cut in. "We can do research."

Dumbledore leaned back, studying us. "Would you keep up with your studies?"

We nodded. James added, "We'd have less time to cause trouble."

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "If you resist spending more time in the pursuit of mischief than your studies."

"Well, you can see how it goes for a while, and then we can go from there."

Dumbledore looked between us for a moment, then pulled out a scrap piece of parchment and a quill. "I will give you the name of a potioneer, his name is Damocles. He has been working on a cure, and I am sure if he had Remus as a willing test subject, he could complete his work. Write him, see how you can help. After you set something up, I will speak to Professor Slughorn about lightening your course load."

James grinned. "Thank you, Headmaster. We'll talk to Remus."

We got up and hurried out of his office. When we got back to the Tower, we discovered the door to the dorm was locked.

James knocked only once before he pulled out his wand, said "Alohomora," and opened the door.

We stared at Remus, who was quickly removing the black jumper he had on—my jumper.

James closed the door behind us. "Why was the door locked?"

"And were you wearing my jumper?"

Remus flushed, but tried to look defiant by gritting his teeth. "I thought we should start locking the door. And when it's locked, you have to knock before entering."

I raised an eyebrow. "That didn't answer my question. At least, I don't think it did."

Remus looked at me. "I didn't know it was yours."

"Then why did you take it off when—"

Peter, face redder than Remus', interrupted us. "Look, Remus, we just talked to Dumbledore. We want to find a cure for Lycanthropy."

"Great. Yeah. Sure," Remus said, folding his arms. He was supposed to be cross with me, but it seemed desire had got the best of him.

Eventually, Remus registered what Peter had said. "You what?"

James explained, "We're going to help Dumbledore with a cure. So you don't have to worry about being a werewolf anymore."

I pretended not to notice Remus' embarrassment. "It's hard enough being bi, let alone a bi werewolf. So if we had to choose, we'd lose the werewolf—not that there's a difference to us if you're a werewolf, only that your life would be better without having to worry about it."

1 April, 1977 1:10

I woke up to find Remus moving my hand over his pants to his crotch. I tensed. He must've been awake: his movements were too deliberate to be driven by a dream.

Remus held my gaze as he lifted his hand away; I kept my fingers on his trousers. He kissed me, and I kissed back harder, running my fingers up and down the front of his trousers, teasing him. After a bit, I got a response. Remus squirmed, hips rising toward me. I reached under my pillow, grabbed my wand, then muttered a charm to lubricate my hand. I traced my finger up his thigh, through his pant leg, then reached what I was looking for and began to move my hand up and down, slowly.

As my pace increased, it became harder for Remus to keep quiet. I grabbed my wand with my other hand. "Muffliato."

Remus let out a moan just after I cast the spell. I pulled down his pants and felt heat rise within me. I'd only been this intimate with James when he had me on gender-switching potion. But Remus didn't know about any of that. Should I pretend I didn't know what I was doing? I went for it anyway, prepared to lie if he questioned me later.

Remus came quickly.

As I wiped off my mouth, I studied him, bemused. "Do you have somewhere to be?"

"What?" he said—slightly out of breath—as I rested my head on the pillow beside him.

"You didn't last very long, is all."

"It's because you're brilliant and my sex life is woefully uneventful."

I grinned and inched closer to him. "I can change that."

Remus traced my jawline with his fingers, then pressed the full length of his body to me.

I stripped so we were both naked, equal—our bodies completely touching as we lay, silent, with nothing but our breathing and the warmth of our flesh. I wrapped my arms around his back and ran my fingers across his skin. Remus' chest expanded, roused from its steady rhythm, before he turned over and positioned himself over me.

I smirked. "What are you waiting for?"

Remus paused, staring down at me with such an intense expression of understanding that my expression faded. Something stirred deep within me as I registered the fact that neither of us had experienced the same connection with anyone else as we did with each other.

3 April, 1977 16:23

"No one's around. C'mon." James tugged my sleeve.

I surveyed the area, then, trusting his word, leaned in, tasting his tongue. I hated myself for relishing James' straightness, the belief that I could somehow change his sexuality.

I must've subconsciously heard something, because I chose that second to open my eyes—just in time to see Snape running away.

"What is it?"

I feared James' reaction almost more than the consequences of this. "Snivellus saw us."

"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck, Sirius, what the hell are we going to do?" James kicked the wall, then ran his hands through his hair, eyes starting to water.

"I knew it was too risky."

"Shut up, Sirius!" James squeezed the bridge of his nose, then sighed. "Fine, I should've listened. But it's too late now. He's going to tell Lily, and then what? And once anyone finds out, the whole school will know…"

I watched him pace, then said, "They won't find out."

James looked at me, then recognized the deadly seriousness in my expression. "What do you have in mind?"

"I know he's going to use it as leverage against us. That gives us time. But don't worry about the details; I have it covered."

James shook his head. "He's beyond reasoning."

As if on cue, a rolled sheet of parchment landed at our feet. I picked it up and unfurled it. "'Meet me here at six tonight. Only one of you.'"

James nodded, perhaps slightly convinced things would work out. "You'll go, then? If I skip another detention, I could be kicked off the Quidditch team. And Wormtail has Moony's transformation covered."

I nodded, falling deep into thought. Surely James was concealing the full extent of his worry, as I was. I knew I should fear the conviction in the plan I had, but I didn't. Severus wouldn't have the power to destroy our lives.

We went the entire day without telling Remus or Peter. James and I had enough secrets between us that it didn't feel too uncomfortable.

Snivellus arrived at six, as promised.

"Can you offer something in return for my discretion?"

I took a step forward. "Yes."

"What?" Snape held his ground.

I took another step toward him. "No one has to know." If Snape was gay, he'd lose his leverage, as much as it repulsed me to imagine it. This wasn't part of my plan, but I figured I might as well…

"If you're suggesting I—"

"Where did you get that idea?" Still, I crossed the rest of the distance between us.

Snivellus struggled to keep his gaze. I was close to making him weak.

Just as I was about to touch him, Snape drew his wand and touched the tip to his throat. "I can tell the whole school now, if you want."

I pushed the wand away. "Wouldn't they just hate you more? Lying about the most well-liked blokes in school? Why should anyone believe you?"

"I have ways of proving it. Enough Slytherins will believe me to make your lives hell. I'm sure there are plenty who would take the opportunity to exact revenge."

"Fine." I'd let him believe he'd won. "I can offer you information on Remus. I can show you where he goes every month."

Snivellus tried to contain his excitement. "Out with it, then."

"Hang on, how can I trust you'll keep your word?"

"Why give you another reason to hate me?" Snape said quickly.

I didn't care if he was lying. He wouldn't have the chance to go back on his word. "Alright. You want to know about Remus? Follow me."

Snape fell into step with me, too wary to be ahead, too proud to be behind.

My fingers twitched with anticipation, and my skin prickled with fury. I couldn't even bring myself to look at Snape; I feared I'd do the job now, as an Animagus. No, having Remus kill him was more appropriate. Snape would have his incessant curiosity be his demise, that was more fitting. Besides, it had to look like an accident.

After thinking it out a bit more, I was more sure in my ability to control myself. I looked at Snape.

He noticed immediately, and, oddly, his cheeks flushed. "Keep it in your trousers, will you?"

I scoffed, but held my gaze. "What, scared I'll fuck you with my eyes?"

Snape faltered in his step. "Don't be stupid."

"No, you've got that covered."

Snape grabbed my collar.

We stared at each other, then, to piss him off more, I leaned in as though I'd kiss him.

Snape jumped back. "Are you off your head?"

Wow, he thought that was mad. "Sorry, you were giving me mixed signals." I smirked at his indignant expression before I started to walk again. Like most straight blokes, his greatest fear was that he would be taken as a flaming homosexual.

Snivellus refused to move at first, but his desire to get my end of the deal was greater than his desire to distance himself from me. In that way, we were similar.

"Snivelly, I'm going to let you in on a secret." I could say anything now, it didn't matter anymore.

"It's not part of the deal—"

"People don't hate you because you're ugly or weird. They hate you because you're a bad person."

Snape glared at me. "If the only difference between us is our looks, why do they like you more?"

I tried to figure out if he'd insulted me more than he'd insulted himself. "I'm not a slave to Voldemort."

"You're a slave to the people. You're constantly trying to find approval. It's pathetic, really."

"If you feel that way, if you don't like people who like drawing attention to themselves, then why would you blackmail us?"

"Because you deserve it."

I scoffed, but we were nearing the Whomping Willow, so I didn't say anything in return. I couldn't risk scaring him off now.

Once we were just out of the branches' reach, I stopped, grabbing Snape before he could walk in the tree's path. "Right. So to access the secret tunnel, you levitate a branch and hit that knot at the base of the tree—the biggest one—and it will freeze."

Snape assessed me, suspicious at my nonchalance, then did I as instructed. As he climbed down through the tunnel, I followed just far enough behind to make sure it worked. The anxious energy inside me boiled over into a desperate need for him to die. The world would be a better place without him. My world would be a better place without him. I stopped just far enough away to escape while Remus was distracted by Snape.

Snivellus opened the door and stared at Remus, now fully transformed. There was a pause before they realized one was meant to hunt and the other to be hunted. Just as Remus leapt toward Snape, James appeared from underneath his invisibility cloak and pushed him out of the way. He stunned Remus, blasting him back into the Shrieking Shack, then forced the door closed, locking it again.

James bent down and checked Snape, then straightened, ignoring the whimpering from behind the door. "He's unconscious."

I could feel James' anger with me, but in my confused frustration, I ignored it. "Why the hell did you do that?"

"You mean, why did I stop you from killing him? That's what you were trying to do, wasn't it? You were going to kill him?"

I took out my wand and crossed the length of the tunnel. "I am going to kill him."

"Expelliarmus!"

My wand flew through the air and into James' hand. I gawked at him, but before I could protest, he cut me off.

"We aren't killing him, Padfoot."

"Prongs—"

"What the fuck is wrong with you? Wanting to kill someone? He's a kid, too!" James was no longer looking at me as though he understood me.

"Snivellus is practically a Death Eater. What'd you think we'd be doing in the war?"

"Not killing people." James shook his head. "Capture, not kill, for Merlin's sake. Death Eaters will be more useful alive for interrogation than dead."

I glared at him. "It doesn't always work out that way."

And at that, James looked at me—toward me, rather—as if I weren't there. "In self-defense, maybe. But we can't sink to their level."

I snorted. "Then how will we win?"

Snivellus coughed, struggling to rise to a sitting position.

James turned. "Petrificus Totalus!" He positioned Snape so he couldn't see us, then cast a Muffling Charm so he couldn't hear us. "There." He sighed. "Padfoot, was this really about Snape being a follower of You-Know-Who, or was it to shut him up about the kiss?"

I flushed. "Why couldn't it be both?"

"Padfoot…"

"He cannot know, much less tell anyone."

"There's a better way, then. A memory charm."

I crossed my arms. "What if it goes wrong?"

"Blimey, Padfoot, you didn't think killing him could go wrong? Look, once Remus has turned back, we'll have him do it. He'll be pissed, but he's the best at it. Okay?"

I shrugged, then transformed and entered the Shrieking Shack.

A few hours later, Remus returned to his human form. I followed and knelt beside him, his clothes in hand. "Remus?"

"Give me a minute…" He sat up and rubbed his temple. "What the hell happened? I feel awful."

James glanced at me. "Sirius tried to kill Snape."

Remus stopped in the middle of pulling on his trousers. "What?"

"No, I—He saw James kiss me and threatened to tell the whole school."

Remus looked at me. "Why did he kiss you?"

"It didn't mean anything. Right, Sirius?"

I drew in a breath, but the pause tipped Remus off.

"I see." A shadow fell over his expression.

I noticed and turned to James. "Can you give us a moment?"

James nodded, relieved, and left the room.

I sat down on the floorboards next to Remus, silent as I figured out what I wanted to say.

Remus spoke first. "Why does this keep happening?"

"I don't know. I suppose—I suppose I want to make him gay."

Remus, clearly not expecting that, stared at me.

"There's something—he's almost gay, you know? He's practically there. And he's told me he wishes he could be, so again and again I find myself…I want to make him realize it." Vocalizing how I felt made me realize how silly it was.

Remus broke his gaze and stood up. Had he not heard what I just said? "C'mom, let's deal with Snape."

"Er, okay…well, we thought you could cast a memory charm." Though I was still confused at his dismissal, I explained the predicament as we gathered around Snivellus' frozen body.

Remus knelt down to get a closer look. "No visible injuries…if this works, he should wake up confused as to why you tried to kill him. At best, he won't remember any of this. Realistically, though, at my skill level, his mind will bypass needing an answer and believe you did it because you hate him."

I nodded. "If something goes wrong, I'll take the fall."

Remus turned to glare at me. "Of course you will. It's your fault this happened."

The memory charm worked. Snape forgot about the kiss, but knew I tried to kill him before James saved him. We told Dumbledore it was an accident, and though he undoubtedly didn't believe us, he was too preoccupied with reining in Snape's demand to have Remus taken out of Hogwarts to refute our perspective.

That night, Remus, exhausted from his transformation, went to bed early, along with Peter, who was sour that he'd missed the evening's events. James and I were left to talk.

"So you're not off the Quidditch team?"

"No. I used a sleeping potion on Flitwick so he'd think I stayed for detention. I'm praying he doesn't notice, as he's known to fall asleep during detention, but you still made me risk my spot on the team. Look, Padfoot, I hate old Snivelly as much as you do, but what if we'd been kicked out of school for murder?"

"No, I had it worked out. It was going to be an accident—"

"What of Moony, then?"

"What about him?"

"Imagine what it would've done to him. He's always been afraid of killing someone, or worse, turning them…"

"But imagine if I was outed for being with you? Imagine if we were discovered at all. Sure, no one's been expelled for having sex at school, but by law they were often allowed. If the legal age for us were sixteen, not twenty-one…"

"Sirius, it was just a kiss."

"But imagine if the Ministry got involved. What if they called for us to be expelled, or we could never work for the Ministry, or anyone, for that matter."

"Sirius." James put a hand on my shoulder. "You're right, Snape had to be shut up. But killing him? Our lives would be even more fucked."

I chewed my lip. "But if he makes it out of school, he'll join the Death Eaters and kill loads of people."

"We have to wait for the timing to be right. He'll get what's coming to him, but for now, no murdering sprees, okay, Padfoot?"

I nodded, then turned my head to avoid his kiss.

11 April, 1977 18:42

Remus and I were finally alone in the dorm.

"Moony, look at me."

Remus glanced up.

"I don't have feelings for James, okay? It's just physical, or just emotional, rather—regardless, how can I make it up to you?"

He stared at me. "We have five minutes, don't we?"

Five minutes. It wasn't much, but it was enough.

Remus took off his shirt quickly, then kissed me. I was thrown off, and less desperate to be touched because of James, so I didn't fully reciprocate.

Noticing this, Remus pulled back. Hurt and confusion grew in his expression.

I touched his cheek and leaned into his ear. "I'm sorry." I kissed his neck and shifted my fingers to his chest.

Then I got down on my knees. Remus looked down at me, shivering a bit with nervousness; we were in daylight this time, and that seemed to weaken his resolve. I traced his skin with my hands, and his muscles tightened at my touch. Smirking a bit, I placed my hands at his sides and kissed his stomach. As my mouth trailed closer to his waist, Remus weaved his fingers into my hair.

I unbuckled his belt, then ran my hands up his thighs and tugged his trousers down. I glanced up at Remus. He reluctantly met my gaze, but remained embarrassed.

I placed my hand on his inner thigh, moving closer and closer until he was nearly hard.

Remus laughed a little, sending warm sparks through me. I slowly moved his pants down, then closed my mouth around him. His fingers loosened, then tightened and he gasped a little.

After a couple minutes, Remus climaxed and his hand fell to his side. I stood up, kissing him, then pulled back. "How was that?"

Remus could only nod. Good, then: I wouldn't get too much of an earful later. I already knew I was a prick; I didn't know if I could stand to have Remus remind me. I knew I could never have the same moral code as Remus, that he would always be a better person. I only wished he didn't think he was always at fault.

"Did you ever do that for James?"

"Suck him off? What makes you think—"

"I didn't think much of it last time, but it's as though you have experience."

I stalled answering by cleaning my shirt. "Yeah. Last summer. Kind of a lot, actually."

"Oh."

"He had me take these pills so I'd turn into a girl for a while."

Remus pulled his arms through his robe. "That's shitty."

I was hesitant to agree. "I figured I could use the practice. It showed, didn't it?" I smirked.

Remus flushed, walking past me to hide his expression. "You were a bit too rough."

I huffed. "You came a bit too fast. Again."

Remus stopped, then turned to face me to show he was teasing. "Well, we only had five minutes."

17 April, 1977 17:29

I went up to Dumbledore's to check in about our research, and also make sure he didn't know anything about what I tried to do to Snape. His office door was unlocked, but he wasn't inside.

A light glowed in the corner of the room. I recognized the source—a stone basin—but had never paid much attention to it.

Slowly and casually (in case Dumbledore walked in) I crossed to the basin. A silvery strand swirled inside, circling, almost as though to hypnotize…I found myself leaning down and plunging my face into the water.

I appeared in a field. I surveyed the area; behind me was a group of homes that were clearly magical by their style and illuminated quality. I spotted two boys down the slope of the field, so I headed that way. "Hey, could you tell me how far I am from Hogwarts?" Neither seemed to hear me, but I was still a reasonable distance away, so I said more loudly, "Hello?"

The boys were probably eighteen years old and lay side by side on a large blanket, books piled around them like the walls of a fort. I moved to get a closer look. I was just about to try to get their attention again when sparks shot up from the air above them. I stepped back instinctively, but I had the increasing suspicion that I couldn't be hurt, so I continued to approach until I could see they were practicing wandless magic.

Then I stopped. The pieces came together at once; the smirk, the bright eyes, old-fashioned clothing…it was Dumbledore. He was much younger, but it was him. I didn't recognize the other boy, though something about him made me think I should recognize him. He was blond, seemed charismatic, and was arrestingly handsome.

As I finished assessing the two, Dumbledore leaned over and kissed the other boy.

A hot wash of embarrassment—but possibly excitement—flooded through me. I knew I was intruding on a secret, something very private, yet I couldn't pull my eyes away.

"Ah." The boy averted his gaze. "I thought you might have feelings for me." He sat up.

Dumbledore studied him, waiting. I noticed I was holding my breath, too.

The boy turned so he was facing Dumbledore, then reached over and brushed the hair out of Dumbledore's eyes.

The gesture, familiar yet more bittersweet, sent shivers down my spine.

"You are intelligent, incredibly gifted, and your companionship has been very important to me. Only—" He hesitated, and in that hesitation, I understood. "…Only I cannot return your feelings. I care for you deeply, and I love you, but not in the way you love me."

Dumbledore sat up, eyes shining. "I see. I supposed, maybe, since you never expressed interest in women, that you might feel the same way. I'm sorry, Gellert, I—"

"There is no need to apologize," the boy Gellert said, sighing, as though annoyed. "I'm flattered. So you know, if I were not so invested in our mission, I may well be interested in women. But romance is a distraction to the larger mission. Friendship is not harmful—helpful, in fact—but romantic love is harmful, you see."

"I understand." As Dumbledore averted his gaze, the scene sped away from me, and I lifted my face out of the water.

"What are you doing?" a voice asked sharply behind me. Dumbledore.

I turned. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to see that. I was trying to kill time. I—"

"What did you see?" Dumbledore began to pace.

"I saw you and that boy, Gellert."

Dumbledore took a deep breath. "And do you know who Grindelwald is?"

"Grindelwald?" Of course, Gellert Grindelwald. "That was—you two were friends?"

"Yes. Very few people, if more than one, know this about me."

Which part of what I had seen was he referring to? He seemed about to scold me for intruding so I said, "I understand, sir. The—what you did, I understand." I cocked an eyebrow, imploring him to know what I meant so I didn't have to spell it out.

Surprised, Dumbledore took a moment to stand still in his pacing. Finally, he said, "This is my most carefully guarded secret. If I explain it to you, I want to know you will not share it with anyone, even your friends. Especially James."

Especially James? "Alright."

Dumbledore regarded me, assessing my sincerity, then began to pace again. "We were both very ambitious teenagers. The summer we met, we had great ideas about how we would rule the world. Perhaps not literally, but we both wanted power more than anything else. When Gellert learned of my attraction to him, he used it to manipulate our relationship."

"What do you mean?"

"He knew he could stretch the limits of our friendship and I would remain loyal. He was not malicious, but he knew he had a certain power over me."

"You fought him, didn't you? And then he was imprisoned? My parents must've told me about it, I can't remember when, but…"

"We did have quite a falling out." Dumbledore chuckled, but it rang hollow. "That is another story." He fell into thought. "It may seem insignificant now, but if you share what you saw, or what I told you with anyone, the entire war could likely turn to Voldemort's favor."

I blinked. "How?"

"I would likely be forced to resign from my position as Headmaster. Hogwarts would no longer be safe, and I would fall out of favor with the Ministry."

"For being…?"

"It harms my case that I chose Grindelwald, but yes."

"Bloody hell." I caught myself. "Oh, sorry, sir."

"Quite alright." Dumbledore was already in another place. "Anyhow, you wanted to see me?"

"Yes, I wanted to ask—has Snape been round?"

"Not since you were last here."

"Good. I mean, okay. And that wasn't why, actually, I just wanted to let you know we're recording our research, and by the end of the year, we should have something useful to Damocles."

"Excellent. I will let him know. Is there anything else?"

"No, sir, that's all." I made to leave.

"Before you go, Sirius, let me remind you—and if this comes as a threat, I have no intention of it being one—that you now possess information I chose not to erase from you. If you wish to prove your capacity as an aspiring Auror, then no part of this may be shared with anyone. If you do share it, I will know." He smiled. "See you at dinner."

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