?

Log in

 
 
08 May 2008 @ 11:26 am
["Kaleidoscope" update] Stripes  
.
Stripes (2337 words | PG | OotP)
Sirius discovers that Tonks is unaware of something rather important about Remus, so he takes matters into his own hands -- betting that the growing friendship between his cousin and his best friend is strong enough to survive the revelation.
Author's note: Half of this story is a revision of a couple of ficlets posted at rt_challenge in January 2007, Stripes and Revelations. The other half consists of two new sections from Tonks's point of view.

Stripes

Sirius sat slouched in a corner of the kitchen, scowling at the flames that writhed and twisted in the fireplace. Members of the Order had begun to arrive, but he didn't look up. He shouldn't even be there—he should have gone with Moony tonight. But Dumbledore was being unreasonable, and Remus, the stubborn git, had taken the old man's side again.

And then he heard Tonks's clear voice over the rumble of greetings and pleasantries, so he straightened up and let the scowl fade. His little cousin acted tough, but he could tell his darker moods worried her. Besides, it wasn't her fault if Moony was bullheaded and Dumbledore was paranoid.

He waved at her. She came straight over and gently tweaked his ear.

"Wotcher, Sirius. You look cheerful!"

He shrugged, but he managed half a grin. "Hi, peanut." Then he did a double take and laughed out loud, foul mood forgotten. "What've you done to your hair this time? Are those—stripes?"

"Yeah." Tonks seemed rather pleased with herself. "Remus bet me I couldn't do stripes. It's taken me a few days to work it out, but I've got it now!" She scanned the rapidly filling room, and her smile began to dim. "Where is Remus, anyway? Won't he be here for the meeting?"

"Not tonight," said Sirius, raising an eyebrow significantly.

Tonks shook her head, looking puzzled.

She doesn't know, he realized, with a rush of adrenaline that started his heart pounding.

Well, then, it was time she found out, if she was a member of the Order—especially if Moony was starting to think of her as a friend.

He looked her straight in the eye and spoke, quietly but clearly. "It's full moon."

Her look of confusion gave way to one of shock. "He's a werewolf?" she whispered, dropping down onto the worn wooden bench next to him.

Sirius nodded, carefully casual. "Since he was a little kid. Before I knew him."

"So that's where—" Tonks blinked, still looking dazed. "I read about him in the Prophet last year, when they wrote up your escape from Hogwarts. I knew his name seemed familiar when I met him, but I couldn't place it."

"Yeah, Remus always tried to keep his condition as quiet as he could, until that year at Hogwarts, when Snape—" Sirius's expression hardened into a hostile sneer—"accidentally leaked it to the students. Then the Prophet picked it up." He sighed and rubbed his face with one bony hand. "He's been having an awful time finding a job ever since, especially with the new anti-werewolf employment laws the Ministry put through."

"I can't believe he's a werewolf," Tonks whispered. "Not Remus." She was staring blankly into the fire, twisting her fingers together.

Sirius waited, watching her out of the corner of his eye. It wasn't at all like Tonks to be this quiet for this long.

Finally, when the tension had begun to weigh like rocks in his stomach, her brows drew together and a fierce frown appeared. "How horrible for him!" Her hands clenched into fists.

Sirius started breathing again. Good old Tonks. He'd hoped she would be all right about it.

"Yeah, he'll never say a word, but it's pretty rough on him." He gave her another bitter half-smile. "He's running the meeting tomorrow night for the Oxford reconnaissance mission. You're on that team, aren't you? Just you wait and see how awful he looks."

"I've read—The transformation is physically taxing, isn't it?" Her fierce expression melted into worry.

He laughed, without humour. "That's a bit of an understatement." Then he shrugged, scowling again. "What makes it worse is that Remus hates to be seen right after full moon, before he's got his strength back. He doesn't mind me—we shared a dormitory at school, after all, and I've seen him in some pretty bad states—but he'd rather avoid feeling vulnerable in front of other people." And having to acknowledge his condition in public shames him more than anything. Sirius shook his head, thumping the bench with his fist. "That meeting shouldn't even be tomorrow night. Dumbledore should've given him another day to recover. But no, the ruddy Order always has to come first..."

Tonks's hair suddenly turned midnight blue.

Sirius roused himself from his sulk again and tugged at one of her dark locks. "Hey, peanut, what happened to the stripes?"

Her eyes were still worried, but now her jaw was set. "I'm saving them for Remus."

. * . * .


Back home in her flat, Tonks pulled her Auror training manual off the bookshelf and opened it to Chapter Nineteen, "Recognizing and Subduing Dark Creatures."

"A transformed werewolf is a vicious creature, without a shred of human consciousness. It is driven by its very nature to attack humans; it is compelled to bite them, contaminating the innocent with its dreadful curse, or even to kill and eat them, feeding on their destruction. In human form, a werewolf may have a conscience, and may attempt to adapt to the laws and manners of human society, but this cannot be guaranteed, and is likely to be the exception rather than the rule. An Auror should never hesitate to subdue or incapacitate a werewolf if it exhibits the merest hint of aggressive behaviour, whether it is transformed or not."

The manual seemed determined to ignore the possibility that a werewolf might have kind eyes and a warm, quiet smile. Or an unexpectedly wicked sense of humour. Or a fondness for exotic tea.

"For some hours after moonset, a werewolf is weakened and distracted, being in considerable pain from its return to human form. This provides an unparalleled opportunity to overpower the creature before it can commit any further harmful acts."

Tonks thought of Sirius, exuding worry and belligerent protectiveness, and of Remus, undergoing—whatever he was undergoing.

The cold silvery moonlight inched a long way across the floor before she finally fell asleep that night.

. * . * .


Very early the following morning, Sirius sat at the kitchen table, paging blearily through yesterday's Evening Prophet. If Moony wouldn't let him be company for the transformation, the least he could do was haul himself out of bed—ungodly hour be damned—and make sure the stubborn git ate a decent breakfast afterward.

The fireplace flared green, and Remus stumbled out of the Floo. He dropped into a chair at the table and rested his head on folded arms.

Sirius set a hand briefly on his friend's shoulder. "All right, Moony? Need patching up at all?"

"I've already taken care of things," said Remus hoarsely, without lifting his head. "It wasn't too bad this time."

Sirius frowned—not too bad this time still didn't look very good—but he kept his voice light. "Then here's breakfast, ready in a minute." He tapped a cast-iron skillet with his wand to make it sizzle, and cracked a few eggs into it. "Tea?"

"No tea, thanks. I've got to get as much sleep as I can before the meeting tonight."

Sirius carried two plates heaped with eggs, sausages, and toast over to the table. With some effort, Remus sat up. They passed the jam companionably back and forth.

"How was last night's meeting?" asked Remus after a while. The hot food seemed to have revived him a little.

"Snivellus brought information about a Death Eater plot to recruit followers in Magical Law Enforcement, so Arthur, Kingsley, and Tonks are going to be watching out for suspicious activity at the Ministry. And the team for your Oxford mission will be Tonks, Moody, Hestia, and Bill."

"Tonks gets around," Remus observed as he buttered a piece of toast.

"She was asking after you," said Sirius offhandedly. "So I told her why you weren't there."

Remus looked up and slowly finished chewing. "How'd she take it?" he asked quietly, visibly bracing himself against an anticipated blow.

Sirius grinned. "Very well. She looked like she wanted to go out and knock someone over on your behalf, actually."

"Hmm," was all Remus said, now focussed on his last piece of sausage. But Sirius could see that he was smiling.

. * . * .


That evening, Tonks arrived at Grimmauld Place a few minutes early for the meeting. The kitchen was empty except for Molly and Bill, who were poking at a small cauldron of what smelled tantalizingly like lamb stew—and Remus, who had apparently sat down in front of the fire and fallen asleep. He was snoring quietly, tilting a bit sideways in his chair.

Tonks tiptoed carefully over to where Molly and Bill were working. "Can I help?" she whispered.

"Erm." Molly hesitated. "I think we're about finished, dear. Why don't you sit down and have a cup of tea while we wait for Hestia and Alastor?"

"Yeah, go on," said Bill, giving her a nudge with his elbow. "The stew'll be better without broken crockery in."

Tonks stuck her tongue out at him, but she took the cup of tea Molly handed her and slid into a seat at the table. As she sipped, she watched Remus out of the corner of her eye. Sirius was right—the lines of his cheekbones were sharp, and his face was grey with exhaustion. He didn't seem to be in any shape to sit through a meeting, let alone run one.

She wondered if Sirius had told Remus about their conversation last night.

Suddenly Sirius himself came clattering down the stairs. He threw Tonks a significant look (she nodded back) and went over to shake Remus firmly by the shoulder. "Moony, old mate, it's almost seven."

Tonks caught her breath as the nickname she'd grown used to hearing suddenly made a lot more sense.

Remus opened his eyes at once, his expression surprisingly alert, although he looked a bit embarrassed at having fallen asleep. "Thanks."

Sirius nodded. "Right, well, see you later." He turned to head back upstairs.

"Wait," Remus called after him, "aren't you staying for the meeting?"

"No point, is there," Sirius growled over his shoulder. "I can hardly contribute to a reconnaissance mission when I can't leave the ruddy house."

"You could lend your considerable intellect to help us work out the plan," said Remus sharply, but there was no response except for the sound of footsteps receding overhead. Tonks bit her lip, but she knew that if even Remus couldn't talk Sirius out of a sulk, it was a lost cause.

Shaking his head, Remus pushed himself up out of his chair. He stretched his shoulders gingerly—wincing as he did so—and came over, limping slightly, to join the others. "That smells wonderful, Molly. Is there anything I can do?"

"Thank you, dear, but we've almost finished," said Molly again, eyeing his haggard appearance. "Here, why don't you have a cup of tea and keep Tonks company?" She patted him fondly on the arm and pressed a steaming mug into his hands.

Remus thanked her for the tea and sat down again—at the table this time, next to Tonks. She heard the tiniest of sighs as he took his weight off his feet.

"Hello, Tonks." He smiled, but it was a hesitant shadow of the warm grin he usually had for her, and his eyes were guarded.

So Sirius had told him that she knew.

It was hardly surprising that Remus didn't seem thrilled—it was quite a private thing that her cousin had gone and spilled to her last night, without Remus's permission. On top of that, Sirius had said that Remus hated to be seen right after a transformation, and here she was, gawking at him.

Tonks tried to smile back. She managed to meet his gaze once, but then she reddened and looked away. She felt wrong-footed and awkward, as though she'd been caught snooping in his diary. Conversation with Remus had always been easy, but now his obvious discomfort was making her nervous, and for once she had absolutely no idea what to say.

She glanced up at him again, just in time to see his face change—it went very still. His smile turned wry, and his eyes settled into a mild, rather resigned expression.

But not before she'd seen the flash of lonely sadness that sparked in their depths.

Tonks sat, frozen, watching him fold into himself and shut her out.

Helga's leather corsets.

Remus thought she minded that he was a werewolf. That's what this was all about.

Her heart twisted. All Tonks could think was how badly she wanted to see him grin. She didn't ever want to be the one who made him look that sad.

"Remus." His arm was leaning on the table, near his mug of tea, and she reached over to rest her fingertips gently on his wrist.

He started at her touch, and looked up at her, confusion and a certain vulnerability in his expression.

Tonks swallowed a lump that had risen in her throat and smiled right into his eyes. "I'm glad to see you're up and about already."

"Oh." He flushed, a little, but he didn't look away. "Thank you."

Tonks relaxed. Her grin widened, and her eyes narrowed. "Because you owe me."

His eyebrows went up in surprise, but she'd startled a little half-laugh from him. "For what?"

"Just watch." She concentrated, very hard, on purple and green and one inch wide.

"Stripes! You've done it!"

Tonks looked up to find a delighted smile dancing in those brown eyes, and she laughed in relief. "Yeah. So you have to help me the next time I'm on washing-up duty. Again."

"I concede." Remus grinned at her, his old easy grin. "But I'm not giving up, you know. I'll stump you yet."

Tonks tossed her head. "You just keep on trying, and I'll keep on winning. That suits me fine—I hate washing up."

Hestia and Mad-Eye came in, then, and Molly bustled over to the table with the stew. But Tonks was pretty sure, from the way his smile lingered, that Remus understood what she had really meant to say.

. * fin * .

"Kaleidoscope" series index

.
 
 
Tove: Duck_or_Rabbit quillduck_or_rabbit on May 11th, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely! Having Sirius show up on LJ made my Saturday night! I love this line from him because it conveys his uncompromising forthrightness:

Just you wait and see how awful he looks.

The detail of the Auror Training Handbook really caught my attention. I'd like to read more of that book. Seems truly helpful. :)

The whole scene reads true to character and is entirely believable. Dora is wonderful!

Thank you for this!
shimotsuki: writingshimotsuki on May 11th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very happy that a confirmed Sirius fan such as yourself liked him here.

As for that Auror manual, I imagined it as not being deliberately malicious (like Umbridge would be) -- it's just reflecting a somewhat old-fashioned view of werewolves. ;)
hrymfaxe: Meta featherhrymfaxe on May 11th, 2008 05:50 am (UTC)
Yay! What a great start to a beautiful Sunday! :D

I agree with duck_or_rabbit that Sirius' fortrightness is really great here. First in disclosing the reason for Remus' absence and then, once he sees Tonks' reaction launching into a full rant not sparing any details.

The Auror Handbook is downplayed compared to other texts I'm sure, but the whole business of calling the werewolf "it" makes me shudder.

And Remus, so quick to think the worst - I'm glad Tonks made him smile her smile again!
shimotsuki: writingshimotsuki on May 11th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're having a beautiful Sunday, because it's a rainy Sunday here!

I imagine Sirius is never sorry to have someone to rant with, heh. And I wanted the Auror manual to reflect the kind of unthinking, impersonal prejudice toward werewolves that seems to permeate the wizarding world.

Thanks so much for your comment -- I'm happy to hear that you liked this.
What's Taters, Precious?: Quill Tatermrstater on May 13th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
Have been waiting all day for a chance to read this, and I must say it's a very nice end to the day. I just love the slow buildup of relationship you're creating in this story. How it's truly platonic, and yet there's that underlying chemistry and depth of compassion and feeling for one another that's just the perfect foundation for their romance and marriage.

My heart aches for your Tonks just as much as for your Remus, because she is such an empathetic, sensitive human being who deserves Remus every bit as much as he deserves her. The scene with her reading the Auror training manual on werewolves was especially touching. I could feel her bristling with defensiveness for Remus. Loved this bit: The manual seemed determined to ignore the possibility that a werewolf might have kind eyes and a warm, quiet smile. Or an unexpectedly wicked sense of humour. Or a fondness for exotic tea. She should convince Mad-Eye to rewrite it with these additions. ;)

Also really loved your Sirius. He's so lovely about Remus that it makes me care even more about his own troubles. It's nice to see him as a good friend, and not just wrapped up in himself.

Looking forward to more from you! As always. :)
shimotsuki: writingshimotsuki on May 13th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much for taking the time to read something when you're all busy with modly duties at Meta...looks like it's going to be (another) amazing event, by the way.

I'm really glad the gradual buildup of the relationship works for you, even at this early point in the series. I like playing around with the idea of Remus taking to Tonks almost right away and opening up to her more than he has to anyone since the Marauders, deciding to risk really trusting her with his true self, and not realizing he's actually falling in love until he's in way over his head. And how could Tonks not fall for him in return if he's being all open and trusting with her!

As for Sirius, I know he's not your favorite, but I always think of how good he is with Harry in GoF (and in the Floo scene in OotP), really looking out for him and giving (mostly) responsible advice. I think in OotP, being trapped at Grimmauld Place is driving him slowly out of his mind. *shudder* But I'd like to think his good qualities, like the famous loyalty to his friends and Harry (and Tonks, as Andromeda's daughter?), and the kind of concern for Remus that led to the Animagus project, are still in there somewhere even as he starts to lose it.

Thank you so much for the encouraging words!
What's Taters, Precious?: When life hands you lemonsmrstater on May 13th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
Sirius is really growing on my lots thanks to people like you who write him so sensitively and expound on the good qualities we glimpse in the books. :)
katyscarlett76: KS76 drumskatyscarlett76 on May 13th, 2008 08:35 am (UTC)
I think I remember reading the original versions on rt_challenge, this version felt vaguely familiar but also new as well, so well done! I loved the idea of Remus challenging her to try different hair styles :) I always think Tonks must have had a hard time with people expecting her to be more conventional looking (morphing to a Fleur-a-like or something) and the fact that Remus not only accepts her as she is but encourages her to test the limits of her powers must naturally bring them closer. Her reaction to the werewolf revelation seemed logical, and I loved the off-hand way that Sirius told her! I really liked your take on Sirius here, his affection for both of them was clear.

You've conveyed so much in such a short piece, Tonks' sense of humour and sensitivity, Remus' insecurities, Sirius' own issues and the friendship between the three of them. It's hard to do but it really does come across!
shimotsuki: writingshimotsuki on May 13th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading this expanded version even though you remembered the original ficlets! I'm so glad to hear you thought the dynamics of the friendships among these three came through.

As for the hair-morphing thing, I've always thought it would be interesting for them to have a running joke in OotP about Tonks being able to do any color Remus challenges her with, so that when we get to HBP and she can't morph at all it will be that much more of a shock. I've also read a lot of fics where Tonks has had to deal with men asking her to imitate their fantasies, and that does seem like something she would've encountered, so I thought this kind of teasing challenge that's about her skills, not about looking sexy, would really stand out to her. I'm glad you liked this aspect of the story!
gilpin25: Remusismyfictionalboyfriendgilpin25 on May 13th, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
Can I just say that I am incredibly excited by the Oxford reconnaissance mission, which will be only about an hour away and, therefore, within easy reach of me? ;)

But obviously before I do set out to join them, you need to know how enjoyable I thought this was with your usual gift for writing the smallest observations that both brings a character to vivid life and makes me care about them. Sirius giving Tonks the werewolf facts very bluntly, almost like a test in its own right, both to see if he'd got her right and that she's 'worthy' to be a friend of his closest friend. The impersonal tone of the Auror handbook contrasting with Tonks' very personal thoughts about Remus. Her instinctive reaction as to how to put things right again between them, and put them back on the old jokey relationship, as well as onto a new one now with more understanding. It's a great look at a platonic friendship where we can see their strength of feeling is growing all the time bfore they can.

Lovely lunchtime read. Thank you! :)
shimotsuki: writingshimotsuki on May 13th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
I really want to thank you for taking the time to read and leave a comment when you have so much going on with Meta and your own writing projects!

I'm happy to see the things that stood out to you, because those are things I was going for in this piece -- especially how Tonks's emphatic continuation of the hair-color challenge is a way for her to remind Remus that they have a shared joke, and let him know that she wants it to continue, werewolf or no. And yes, the revelation is a test in Sirius's eyes, along with a way for him to protect Remus from humiliation if Tonks doesn't take the news well.

However, I should probably warn you that (at least in my original outline, from the old days when I thought this was going to be a chaptered fic) the Oxford mission will be canceled on account of dementors in Little Whinging... Maybe the Order will just reschedule it for later, though? I'm sure they'd hate to disappoint you. ;)
tegdohtegdoh on May 17th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
I thought I'd start my newfound resolution to leave more comments here!

I really liked Tonks reaction to finding out about the "furry little problem" -- the very practically-minded Auror looking up the werewolf section of her manual and then comparing it with what she knows about Remus the man. And I loved his reaction to her reaching out, how it emphasizes that human connection that he is denied so often due to his condition.
shimotsuki: writingshimotsuki on May 17th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Aw, I'm so dreadful about keeping up with comments, I'm probably the last person who deserves to reap the benefits of your resolution...

But I do appreciate the comment, so thank you very much! I like your point about the human connection; I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but that is pretty much what my muse seems to have been trying for.
Tonks: Wolf and Tonks animatedpinkhairedauror on May 21st, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
Better late than never... I finally got to read it!

This is absolutely adorable, consistent, and lovely! I must say, Helga's leather corsets! might be my new favourite HP swear-phrase!!!

The step-by-step realisations, acquiring knowledge, and what they do to them, are beautifully done. I thought the moment of insight into 'Moony' as a nickname was great, and the shift in perception of the moon was absolutely spot-on.

Oy, it's just a lovely piece, thank you for sharing it.
shimotsukishimotsuki on May 21st, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading! There's no such thing as a late comment. :) I'm glad you liked the way changes in knowledge lead to changes in perspective in this story.

You know, corsets might be an anachronism for the Founders' time period, but I needed to come up with something when I realized that my original choice of oath (Godric's leather breeches!) was all wrong for Tonks, heh.
Tonks: Caution: bouncing off wallspinkhairedauror on May 21st, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
*nods* I did love it!

And hahaha... maybe it was anachronistic, but it was spot-on! And no, Tonks probably wouldn't be swearing by Godric... unless she was feeling a wee bit fed up by Gryffindors.
zia_montrosezia_montrose on June 30th, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
Hi. Don't ask me how I got here. I was searching for a Lily/James story through Google, and through a series of clicks--and after seeing a comment of yours in someone else's journal--and remembering how much I've enjoyed reading a few of your stories at the Quill, I found this one. Lovely. I hope you don't mind that I stopped in. (I do like to leave comments when I've read something. : ) You do such a nice job here with showing us how Tonks became a wonderful intrusion into Remus's troubled life.
shimotsukishimotsuki on July 1st, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I always love to hear from people. I'm glad you liked Tonks here; she's fun to write being nosy and persistent.

I hope to post my giant Remus/Tonks saga (which this is from) at the Quill someday, but since I'm writing and posting it to my LJ out of sequence, I want to finish a draft of the whole thing first before I start revising and archiving it in order. Might take me another year (let's hope the Quill lasts that long...).
zia_montrose: Siriuszia_montrose on July 2nd, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
May I friend your page? I'd love to come back and read bits and pieces when I have time.
shimotsukishimotsuki on July 2nd, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
I would be delighted! There's a link to my master fic index in the sidebar on my journal for when you feel like a browse. :)
zia_montrose: Apollozia_montrose on July 2nd, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
Great! That makes it nice and easy to have evil amounts of fun. : )
Mannahooves on January 29th, 2012 07:56 am (UTC)
Random really late comment oooh yeahhhh.

Okay, I really liked this one. It was kind of cute without being off-kilter and Sirius was an absolute doll-- and by that, I mean he was himself. Because we know usually Sirius is kind of a prat. :D

Anyway, a lovely fic. I'm rather impressed by your ability to actually have these things plotted out. A pal of mine from another fandom wrote a bunch of connected one-shots and that of course reminds me of your work now. It's not often you see so many stories built like that!
shimotsuki: maraudersshimotsuki on February 3rd, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
There's no such thing as a late comment! :) Always appreciated.

It was fun to write Sirius here, when he's grumpy but not completely frustrated with his situation (yet).

This series has kind of grown organically. Some parts I had planned from the start, and some have been added in as I've gone along. When it's all done I plan to re-edit the chapters in order to make sure the details are consistent and the story has an actual trajectory, but that phase of the project is still a while off yet. ;)
katyhasclogs: R/T Hessiankatyhasclogs on April 1st, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC)
I'm not really sure how I missed this the first time 'round - I know I've read the rt_challenge parts but the second half is new to me.

Anyway, I'm really glad I've had the chance to read the whole thing now, as it's lovely. I think Sirius' relationship to Remus here shows him (Sirius) in his best light and its so nice to see that side of him, all loyal and caring and concerned. Fits very well with the idea of the marauders learning to be Animagi for the sake of helping Remus.

The final section, with Remus and Tonks together adds an important extra dimension too, and it's good to see them get over what could be a bump in their relationship with relative, but not complete, ease. They continue to each have a great awareness and concern for the other's feelings here, which leads on rather seamlessly from the previous installment in this series (impressive, given they were written at different times).

Love Helga's leather corsets (ooh-er) - Potterverse exclamations are always so much fun. Would also be very grateful if you could send Remus over to do my washing-up sometime...
shimotsuki: hufflepuffshimotsuki on April 9th, 2013 04:00 am (UTC)
Thanks, once again, for such lovely and encouraging comments!

I do think it makes sense that Sirius is at his best when he remembers that other people need him; I think that's why he manages to be such a good mentor to Harry (in general) in the series, despite not always making the best of decisions.

it's good to see them get over what could be a bump in their relationship with relative, but not complete, ease

I'm glad you thought that this story worked for that, even in this version. Honestly, it only occurred to me quite recently, when I was writing the first couple of chapters in the timeline, that Remus knowing that he ought to -- but not being able to bring himself to -- tell Tonks about his condition was actually going to be a reasonably large plot point. So in the "Stripes" revision, I've made a bigger deal in the breakfast scene of Remus admitting to Sirius that he never had found out (until then) whether Tonks knew or not.

I'll send you Remus to do your washing-up as soon as he's done with mine. ;)