Peter was a good actor. It wasn't a skill he'd cultivated knowingly, rather one that was innate. One of the few innate talents he had. At times, he was certain it was the only reason he'd managed to convince James to keep him around this long. Acting impressed, when really he couldn't care less, feigning admiration when he knew just how shallow and petty the stag could get.

Pretending he cared a whole lot more than he did.

He waited until after breakfast to even read James' letter. It was the longest he could go without it being insulting if James asked about it. Reading it more like the local newspaper than a midnight owl from a friend.

It was about time Sirius got off his butt and ran away. James had only been nagging for four years. By this point it was his own fault it ended in violence. He'd had more than enough opportunities to get out before it was too late.

He doubted James would agree though. So when he floo'd over he put the appropriate amount of regret on his face. Just enough worry to make it look good and James was none the wiser.

He hadn't purposefully refined his acting skills, but he had practice anyway.

Fleamont and Remus' dad were talking about the legal implications if it was actually the Black matriarch who'd attacked Sirius. Peter doubted it would do any good, the Blacks were inevitable, there was nothing they could do about that. But he wasn't going to stop them from wasting their time.

"She hit him in the back with some kind of dark magic," James told them when Euphemia kicked them out of the guest room. Peter wanted to stay, it wasn't often he was able to see the actual effects of dark magic, but when he couldn't explain his reason he was forced to follow James and Remus out onto the balcony.

"Anything you recognize?"

"Nah, should probably do some research on it though. Who knows if mum'll be around next time we need to heal something like that." James shrugged leaning out over the fencing.

"I wish I could say I doubted we'd need it." Remus sighed sitting on one of the white adirondack chairs with James' history of magic textbook. Taking the opportunity to get some summer homework done.

"Maybe we could ask your mum to teach us," Peter was hovering, he preferred to stand near the doors anyway and didn't feel like getting too close to the edge of the second-story balcony.

"Mum doesn't like me doing magic at home. She might agree when I turn seventeen, but till then we're on our own. I can steal some books from their library. They're not likely to notice. Besides we all learn faster teaching ourselves anyway."

Peter didn't. He needed to be taught, but they'd never cared before so there wasn't any point in reminding them. James would have to teach him anyway, just like every other time they'd studded outside of classes. He wondered what it was like to be a normal student. Just worrying about grades and actually taking a break during holidays. It seemed like they were always studying something but never actually what they needed for classes.

"Do you actually think they can throw Sirius' mum in jail?" Peter asked, changing the subject since he wasn't likely to get a say in the matter anyway.

"Of course, we've got evidence. Mum's still got a nursing license, even though she's retired, so her witness holds up even if we don't take him to S. Mungos. It's not like it'll be hard to convince them she did it, it's just convincing them to grow a spine. Moony's dad's a journalist, he tells people what to feel about stuff for a living."

"That's not-yeah, okay. It's not that far off anyway."

"Sirius presses charges, we talk the department of magical law enforcement into not being a bunch of Slytherins, and we're golden."

"What if they're too scared?"

"It's a lot harder to ignore an obvious case of child abuse than a vague accusation of dark magic and blood prejudice. Scared or not they'll have to convict her, or the Daily Prophet will throw a fit."

"Or we'll make the Daily Prophet throw a fit. Dad works for a muggle newspaper but he's written for the Prophet before. He's got some connections there," Remus added not looking up from the report he was writing.

James pushed away from the fence with a devious smirk. "She'll regret messing with the Marauders."

Peter didn't doubt that. James always got what he wanted and from the way he looked now, he was out for blood.

"There you boys are." Mrs. Potter said appearing in the doorway, "Sirius woke up."

James started to rush back inside but his mum stopped him. "Be gentle, James. He's upset."

He nodded and continued at a slower pace. Peter and Remus followed.

Sirius didn't look at them when they came in. The only hint that he even noticed them was how tense he got they entered.

"Morning, Padfoot." James grinned sitting at the end of the bed. Remus, as usual, got the only chair, leaving Peter to once again hover by the door.

Sirius looked worse awake then he had asleep. There were no bruises or scars left if there ever had been-James said concussion so there must have been something-but his perfect tan looked pale and there were dark circles under his eyes. His hair was a mess and he didn't do anything to fix it, that alone screamed a warning that maybe this wasn't going to be a fun summer for any of them… even Peter.

"Hey." His voice was weak, none of the usual boisterousness or boasting. It sounded wrong, like a dead man.

"Gave us a bit of a scare there, mate. You looked like hell."

"Feel like hell," he said still not looking directly at any of them.

"Mum says you'll be back to normal in about a week."

Sirius said nothing. Peter wondered if Sirius doubted that as much as he did. Sure Sirius' wounds would heal, but that didn't make things 'back to normal.' He wondered if Sirius was doubting he'd ever be normal again.

Did Sirius know how to go that deep? Or was it a shallow, my life sucks guys, kind of silence.

Peter wasn't sure.

"You realize I'm not letting you go back right?" James interrupted Sirius' moping. "You're stuck here now."

"Couldn't go back if I wanted to."

That hit Peter harder than he'd expected. Had they disowned him? Was he technically homeless right now? Was he even still a Black? Remus winced and he and Peter shared a look. Remus probably cared a lot more, but Peter supposed it was impossible to live with someone this long and feel nothing at all when they get kicked out of their home.

"Oh, good."

Sirius finally looked at him, eyes narrow and mouth open. Remus interrupted before he could claim offense.

"He didn't mean it like that, Padfoot. We're just glad you're home safe."

Sirius grit his teeth and returned to not looking at them. James at least had the courtesy to look abashed.

"Sorry."

Peter couldn't help but notice that the only time James could bring himself to apologize for something was if Sirius or Remus were the ones on the receiving end. They were the only ones who could make James realize he's not perfect. Peter, on the other hand, had the opposite effect.

Sirius didn't reply for an awkward moment, but before they could decide if he was going to or not he closed his eyes and breathed.

"Not your fault."

"Not yours either."

"I know that."

"Good."

"You probably don't want to talk about it, and it's okay if you need time," Remus started, curling up in the chair again, "But it might help and we're willing to listen."

"We figure it was your mum."

Sirius curled inward at James' lack of tact and he'd never looked more vulnerable. Which wasn't good. Sirius and James were the only things keeping the predators of Hogwarts away from him. James would probably be enough for a while, but he got irritated too quickly. At least Sirius had that pointless sense of loyalty that ensured Peter could stick around.

Sirius nodded and Remus swore.

"She-" Sirius looked like he might choke but then went quiet.

"Si?"

He hesitated, thinking before talking probably for the first time in his life.

"She broke my wand."

Peter didn't think that's what Sirius had been trying to say, but he wasn't going to push it. If Sirius didn't want to talk about it Peter wasn't invested enough to try and make him. James and Remus didn't appear to have noticed.

"We kind of figured when we couldn't find it in your pockets. Don't worry, we'll get you a new one. Dad's secretly planning on dragging everyone to the quidditch cup next month anyway. You can get yours the same place I got mine."

"Isn't that in America?" Remus asked.

"Yep. Dad's paying obviously and I even checked no full moons near the date. It was too perfect to pass up."

James looked proud of himself.

"That's… seriously?"

"Yep. Unless you don't want to."

Remus wouldn't have passed it up for the world, Peter was used to James dragging him to every quidditch game he could get tickets too, and Sirius…

Sirius shrugged with a "sure, whatever," that was really bland and disturbing.

"And we'll still have plenty of time to file charges on your mum before we even have to-"

"Sorry what?" Sirius interrupted staring like James like he'd just threatened to randomly murder someone.

"Dad and Remus' dad are making a case for it. We've got plenty of proof it's just a matter of-"

"No."

"You don't have to do anything, Padfoot. They'll handle it."

"I said no. Period."

"Sirius, you can't just-"

"I'll do whatever the fuck I want!"

The room didn't echo, but with how quiet it got Peter felt like it should have.

"Si-"

"Leave me alone."

"But-"

Sirius couldn't really make them go, he had no wand, wasn't even well enough to get out of bed yet. But it would have been abysmally rude for them to stay when he clearly wanted them gone, and they were British, so god-forbid they be rude.

"Okay, I'll pop in later, Padfoot. Don't worry about it." James said quietly standing. "Just focus on getting better."

"Don't patronize me, James."

James flinched, Sirius was allowed to be rude, for some reason.

"I'm not trying to."

"Doesn't mean it's not happening."

"Let's just go, Prongs." Remus stepped up in between them, James looking hurt and Sirius angry. "Give him some space."

"Right, just let someone know if you need anything."

Sirius didn't say anything as Remus herded James out the room. Peter following on his own and looked back just before shutting the door. Just in time to see Sirius curl up on himself and start to cry.

He didn't say anything to the others.

That would have been weird.

A/N) James completely fumbles in his attempts to help Sirius, poor guy just wants to be a good friend. He wants to protect, but Sirius wants to hide. Because Sirius isn't angry, he's just really really sad, and James doesn't quite know the difference.

In my head, Peter's actually brilliant. He just pretends to be an idiot because it's easier and safer. How do you spend time with the two best students in school and not end up way above your grade level?

The idea for James getting his wand in America actually comes from the article on what used to be pottermore about wand woods. It lists all the types of wood Ollivander uses to make wands, but mahogany (James wood type according to book 1) isn't listed. Which tells me James didn't buy his wand from Ollivander. Of course, Ollivander does know what kind of wand James had, so he probably actually did, but I thought it would be fun otherwise. Maybe he just gets it cleaned at Ollivander's or something and that's how he knows James' wand well enough to tell Harry.