The Sugar Quill
Author: Miss Pince  Story: Don't just walk away from me  Chapter: default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Don't just walk away from me

AN: OMG! I wrote slash. It’ll take a while to get over that one. This sprang out of my sordid imagination after a break up with my boyfriend, which I suppose explains some of the angst, but I have no idea where the rest of it came from. Enjoy. Miss Pince

 

"Lie low at Lupin's for a while, I'll contact you there."

I wonder if he knows how much that one sentence could affect me. Lie low at Lupin's. At Lupin's. Lupin's.

My head has been spinning like that since those words were spoken. At Lupin's.

That encounter, now more than a year ago, was so brief. That embrace so short, the words exchanged so few. I wonder how he really feels, but there's no way I can know. I even wonder how I really feel.

The surroundings are getting familiar. I wonder how many summers I spent here with Remus. Running in this field. Having a waterfight in that river. Climbing in that tree.

As my destination comes nearer my heart gets heavier. My feelings... they all feel so new after the endless repetition of guilt over the years. The disappointment and letdown fourteen years ago feel still so near. The sense of betrayal I felt... the disbelief...

The house comes into view. There is an air of disrepair about it, yet my heart starts to fly and I realize that this feels like home, like I'm coming home after fourteen years of absence. I wonder if I'm welcome.

At the gate to the garden I stop, almost unconsciously. My eyes sweep the house for a sign of life, my nose perks up trying to locate a familiar smell. The smell is there, but it feels almost old - like Remus never comes out in the garden anymore. The garden speaks of that for itself, though, fallen into decay, overgrown with weeds, still a few flowers from old stick their petals out of the growth.

I'm startled out of my reverie when the back door opens. The scent of Remus wafting on the air is strong and familiar. Home says my heart. My conscious mind tries to backpaddle; you're a guest Sirius. A guest.

"Well, don't just stand there looking at me like you want a biscuit. Come on in Padfoot!"

A guest, I remind myself as I trot the rest of the way up to the door where he is standing. There's uncertainity in his eyes as he steps aside to let me in. He's nervous, I can smell it.

The kitchen has hardly changed over the years I've been absent. The tiles on the floor are gleaming, the smells of soap and coffee still remain. Everything is clean and well taken care of, but I see the damp in the corners and the flaking paint above the stove. A guest, I have to remind my heart again. Maybe not even a welcome one.

"You’ve got to be hungry. Do you want me to get you something to eat? Drink?”

He looks at me and for a split second I gaze into his eyes. For a split second I remember those eyes full of disappointment, betrayal, contempt, towards me. For a split second my mind plays back the image that was played again and again through my head for twelve years - the sunlit corridor, the mass of dementors, the cold shackles around my hands and feet, Dumbledore, Crouch, Moody, Fudge, their faces showing disbelief and dissappointment. Everyone except this man, whose features were closed but whose eyes spoke volumes, this man, turning his back and walking away. This man, who showed no disbelief, not even in his eyes.

When I change back into my human form I make sure that my face is expressionless and my eyes turned to another direction.

"You don't have to bother for me any more than you want to."

Whoops. Probably a little bit harsh for a greeting. Remus' face went right back to expressionless. He's on his guard.

"It's no bother, there are leftovers since yesterday. I had a visitor. There's no trouble involved in summoning them out of the fridge and heating them up with a charm, you know."

"Thank you. Thinking about it, I could eat a hippogriff." I make an effort to sound more friendly.

"So how was Arabella? I hear she just got her eighty-seventh cat?"


He summons my meal and heats it up for me while I get a plate and cutlery from the drawers. I still know my way around this kitchen. It still feels good to remember things that aren't horrible memories.

"Maybe not eighty-seventh, but I believe there are around thirty. I find it amazing that the neighbours haven't started complaining yet, but then again she seldom lets them run loose, so they might not even know how many they are. The rooms in the apartment are magically enlarged so they have plenty of space inside, and her back yard has wards around it so they can't get out of there."

We stay on the safe topics while I eat, discussing old friends and meaningless gossip. As I finish my meal, he asks me the question I've been waiting for. I've even constructed a careful answer to it in my mind.

 
"So how's Harry?"

"You mean apart from having having one of his schoolmates killed right in front of him, being instrumental in the rebirth of Voldemort, having seen the ghosts of his parents, and then almost getting killed in the process of escaping? You mean apart from the fact that he's been injured, hurt, and abused, and still he has to go back to these damn relatives of his because I'm not a free man to take care of him??!"

His eyes widen at my violent answer, and I wonder what happened to the more modest response that I'd planned.

"Sirius, don't..."

He can get no further because I interrupt him with a sneezing fit.

"Bless you!" he says, rather surprisedly.

"Uh oh, sorry. I must be catching a cold or something. Had to cross a few rivers back there..."

"You mean you crossed a river, came here and haven't yet changed your clothes???"
He crosses the floor to where I'm sitting, and touches the shoulder of my robes.

"Still damp! Such typical behaviour from you! You're going to catch your death. Aren't you the least bit cold?"

"Uh..."

I start saying 'no' when I suddenly realize that I am rather cold.

"Well, maybe just a bit..."

Remus grabs my shoulder and starts pulling me to my feet.

"Well, then you better get up and have a hot bath and change into something... less wet."

His fingers touch my hand and he starts.

"Merlin and Morgan LeFay, Sirius, you're burning hot!"

He puts the back of his hand on my forehead and I see his eyes widen in shock.

"Come on Padfoot. I think you’d better get straight to bed."

I try to stand up but suddenly my vision swims out of focus and bright red stars dance before my eyes. My last coherent thought is that I must tell Remus that twelve years in Azkaban made me almost immune to physical discomfort but then the world fades to black.

***

It's dark when I return to consciousness. There is a candle on a bedside table, and outside the window a waxing moon is shining.

"Are you awake, Sirius?"

The words are spoken softly, in a familiar voice. I force my eyes to focus on Remus and try to answer but my voice seems to be lost.

"Here. Drink this." He lifts my head and brings a glass of water to my lips, allowing me to drink. I try to thank him but he smiles at me and tells me to stop talking.

"Go back to sleep Sirius. It'll do you good." The last thing I sense is a touch on my forehead. Maybe he just brushed back a stray lock of hair, or maybe, just maybe, he leant down and kissed me goodnight...

***

My head feels strangely heavy. I'm lying in a soft bed in a white room. The curtains have been pulled back so the sun shines in and the glare is making it hard for me to open my eyes. Where am I?

"Good morning Sirius. Awake at last?" I mumble something incoherent in response. Suddenly the curtains are drawn shut so the light is not as intense anymore.

Remus. I'm at Remus'. And I'm sleeping in a bed. How long has it been since I last slept in a bed? Thirteen years? Fourteen?

"You've been sleeping with high fever for days. Five days, to be precise. That's what you get walking around in wet clothes!" The man is obnoxious.

"Remus, I only have one set of clothes. I'm not a rich man, and I could hardly walk into any shop and buy something. I'm on the run, remember?"

"Yes, but I have more than one set of clothes. I could have lent some to you." Suddenly at the subject of clothes I realize that under the duvet I'm hardly wearing anything but underwear.

"Did you get me up here? And nurse me? And... erm... take off my wet clothes?" The sly smile those words bring onto his face is very familiar indeed.

"Oh, don't act like such a virgin, Sirius. Besides, it's not like it's anything I haven't seen before." This is getting uncomfortably familiar. A guest, I remind myself. Just a guest. You know him, he would have nursed any sick guest that had stumbled across his threshold. He probably sees how uncomfortable I'm feeling because his smile fades slightly.

"Well. I'll let you dress then. There are fresh clothes in the drawer. Then come down for breakfast. You must be starving."

***

I find a pair of faded jeans and a black T-shirt in the dresser. I dress slowly, finding it luxurious to wear Muggle clothes. I always preferred them over robes, but robes were all I had to wear after the escape. Those are Remus' clothes, and they smell like him, of dust, wax and coffee.

Remus. So much confusion, conflict, difficulty, in just that one name that meant so much to me once. Remus. The only person I've got left. Remus and Harry. Still, I do not know how to feel about him. I don't want to be the one keeping old grudges alive, yet I have to admit to myself that I don't want to be the one taking the first step to mend those grudges either.

And yet again, as it has so many times in the past, my mind takes me fourteen years back, to replay those few moments that were the last before I was thrown into the living hell that is Azkaban. The sunlit corridor. The disappointed faces. Remus. And myself, straining against my shackles to get to him, knowing that he would set it right, that he would believe me and he would prove me innocent if it was the last thing he did. Trying to shout through the gag, trying to wade through the white fog the presence of the dementors awoke in me, trying to get the message across that I knew he’d figure it out - and that look in his eyes when he looked at me. That look that made me realize that all was lost - that I'd rot in Azkaban forever. Then he spoke, just a mere "Why?" but his eyes met mine and I saw all the other things he was thinking. If this were only a bad memory - not one of a meagre selection that's been played through and through in my head - I'd not remember the way his eyes were bloodshot. I’d not remember how the sounds of the world around me seemed to fade, what it felt like to slump against my bonds when I stopped struggling, nor how the sun flashed off his hair when he walked away. If this were only a bad memory it would stop at the moment I looked into his eyes.

 

"Sirius!! Aren't you coming down soon? Breakfast is almost ready!" Remus is hollering at the top of his lungs at the bottom of the stairs, waking me out of my painful daydreams.


"On my way!" I yell as. I give myself a mental shake. I'd fallen into the trap of the past. What was the point of escaping the dementors if I dwell on ugly memories all the same? Sighing I open the door and prepare to face Remus.


The smell of bacon and eggs fill my nostrils as I make my way down the narrow staircase. He was right. I am starving. Still, I feel a sense of foreboding. I cannot allow myself to feel at home, no matter how carefully Remus feeds me or nurses me. It wouldn't work and I couldn't deal with the rejection. Again.

***

The awkwardness of the first meeting over a week ago still lingers. Any outsider would think that we are two men forced by circumstances to aquaint, not childhood friends and old comrades. He has not yet asked me about any of the things that really matter, nor have I asked him. We both tow an invisible line, but as time passes it gets harder. I keep forgetting that he knows me. Not just knows me, he knows everything about me. He went to the town a few days back and came home with clothes for me without even asking if I wanted him to. Not only did he remember what size I use, but also what cut I prefer and what colours. Suddenly there is marmalade in the cupboard, my favourite, and my preferred brand of tea. I tell him not to bother, that he doesn’t have to spend his money - which is already scarce - on me, but he just looks at me, in that way he used to look at me and I can’t say a thing more. It's almost like he wants to bother.

Still, I cannot trust this. It's simply too good, to come back after all these years and slip right back into this sort of familiarity. Too good to be true. In the long run all it can lead to is pain.

***

While I'm around Remus, I can sense things from him that I had thought might be lost to me forever. It amazes me to be able to sense feelings other than my own.

At least I always know when he's feeling nervous or uncertain. Maybe it's because we are both nervous and uncertain a lot these days. Also, the moon is waxing, and I can feel its hold on his mind increase. It is stronger now that I'm with him than it was when I was without, but that was at least one thing that was never lost to me. I remember sitting in Azkaban, in my cell with that excuse for a window, sitting in the moonlight and remembering... the pain, the discovery, the way the Shrieking Shack looked when we first came there after a transformation, the blood on the walls, the torn apart furniture and the creature standing there. The realization that he tore himself apart every full moon. His scars. His agony. His certainity that no one could ever love him because of what he was. For what he was.

***

 

Sometimes I catch him looking at me when he thinks I won’t notice. He always turns away with a strange look on his face, like he was watching me against his better knowledge.

I wonder if he’s forgiven me. For what I did and did not do. For all the pain that might have been spared if I had not been so bloody suspicious. Harry’s pain. My pain. His pain.

I don’t expect him to have. How could he forgive something I cannot even forgive myself?

 

***

The sun is shining outside. Remus decided to try and do something about his garden and I wish I could help him, but I can't go out except as a dog, and I'm not a lot of help when my paws can't distinguish between a flower and a weed. We both try to keep ourselves busy most of the time, it relieves the awkwardness of everything a bit, and besides, we’re both trying to pretend that neither of us knows that tomorrow night is a full moon. The second one of this month. A blue moon. Of course I have to keep myself busy inside which means that the house is gleamingly clean. I feel like a middle-aged housewife, insisting to clean up after breakfast so Remus can go outside into the garden and enjoy the sun.

 

I set to work at the sink, deciding not to use magic because the last time I attempted to do that with Remus' wand I broke an awful lot of crockery. There's a window over the sink where I can see right into the garden where Remus is working, sitting on his knees, bent over a flowerbed, the sun scorching the back of his neck. Suddenly he sits up, stretches and turns to look behind him. He looks straight at me through the window and then suddenly, he blinks! Now what the heck was that all about? Really and....

There’s someone in the living room. I can sense it, rather than hear it, and on pure instinct, I lift my hands out of the soapy water and change, just as a voice calls from the direction of the fireplace;

“Remus, dear, where are you? Remus?” There are footsteps coming closer, and a young woman appears in the door. I back away and underneath the kitchen table. She looks around and spots the whisps of steam coming up from the sink. She approaches it with a quizzical look on her face, obviously wondering why the dishes aren’t doing themselves, and then suddenly, she steps on my paw. I can’t help it, I yelp in pain. She looks down at me and her eyes widen in fright as she backs away.

“Uuuhh... Remus...” she says uncertainly “where are you? And are you aware that you’ve got, like, a Grim in your kitchen?”

Remus chooses this moment to step through the garden door. He’s dishevelled, and there’s mud almost up to his elbows. He looks tired, like he always does just before a full moon.


“Oh, hello Fanny.
 I wasn’t expecting you quite so soon. I was just trying to do a little work in my garden. I see you’ve already met Snuffles.” The girl has backed away as far as she can get from me, but she looks at Remus and takes in his appearance, from the wisps of his hair down to his dirty hands and then to his muddy shoes. She’s obviously not stupid and a look of suspicious puzzlement creases her face as she glances towards the sink, where a few dishes have been neatly arranged into a drying rack, while others lie in the cooling water. Fortunately she’s looking away when the realization hits Remus, because you can almost see the light bulb appearing over his head.


“Oh, damn. I knew there was something I forgot to finish this morning.” Even to me that sounded fake. With a flick of his wand Remus sends the dishes to finish the job I started, then another flick to clean the mud from his hands.


The girl looks back to him with a worried glint in her eye. “Have you been forgetful lately? Might that be a side effect?” Remus laughs easily.


“Nah, I’ve always been like that. I’d forget my head somewhere if it weren’t attached” Too true, I think. “Now, what brings you here so early in the morning?” The girl, Fanny, shoots one last worried glance in my direction but then turns her attention back to Remus.


“You, of course, the light of my life, who else?” Her smile brightens up her face, and for the first time I notice that she’s rather attractive. Long, blond hair, heart-shaped face,
although a little too wispy for Remus, at least if his tastes haven’t changed.
I give myself a mental smack. It’s been fourteen years. Of course his tastes might have changed. Actually it would be a wonder if they hadn’t.

 

I follow them into the living room where Fanny sits Remus down onto the couch, almost carefully, as if he were made of glass.
“So how are you feeling, dear?” She leans towards him and looks into his eyes. “You look tired.” She lifts a hand and pushes a wisp of hair off
Remus’ forehead. I dislike her already. Too much sympathy. Remus never liked sympathy, he wanted to be treated like a normal person.


“I am a bit tired -” he admits. I stare at him in surprise. Now that’s a first. He would never admit anything of that sort to me, even if he almost fell asleep into his breakfast. “ - but at least I’m not aching as much. That part seems to be working.”


“Oh, well, that’s nice to hear. Then we’re making some progress. You’ve started taking it, of course?” Remus nods, and she smiles, again one of those really bright smiles. “That’s good, not that I expected you to skip it. Now, this time I’ve added some Cochlearia, I think it might ease the ache somewhat, and I decided to try Capsella instead of the Bistorta for the blood loss and since you thought it was the Achillea millefolium that had such a great effect last time I went to some lenght to get fresher ones. I also added a bit more of those. Now as for changes in the really vital ingredients...” Remus holds up his hand.


“Fanny, I don’t want to know. I don’t need to know. I know the rules, and I abide by them. I’ll tell you how it worked, but I can’t distinguish the ingredients like you can. Potions were never my forte.” Oh, I remember how Snape gloated when Remus blew up his Shrinking Solution and we had to spend half a lesson looking for him.

“Of course. Sorry. I know that I’m just speaking technical jargon. Now, for more important matters; you will take care of yourself this time, now won’t you? I can’t be here and I’m so sorry, but it’s a weekday and all... Promise me you’ll have someone look you over first thing in the morning. We almost lost you last time.” The worried puppy dog eyes she’s making at Remus are making me irritated. He hates sympathy. Doesn’t she get that? Still, to my surprise, he looks at her with warmth in his eyes, and doesn’t seem to be feeling uncomfortable at all.

“Yes, my dear, I’ll do that. Snuffle’s owner will be here to pick him up, he’s quite skilled in healing. Don’t worry.” Fanny looks at me with suspicion in her eyes.

“Funny” she mutters under her breath.

“What?”

“Well, just last week someone warned me about big black dogs. Said they might not be all that they seemed.” Remus nods, but I can see he’s trying to suppress laughter. What’s so bloody funny?

“Ah, now would it be possible that the someone might be Professor Snape? Because he doesn’t like Snuffles, nor his owner very much.” I can’t help but growl. Remus looks at me with laughter in his eyes.


“And as you can hear, the feeling is mutual. Don’t worry. Snuffles is almost totally harmless.” Almost??? What does he mean almost? Fanny girl is obviously thinking the same as she shoots a worried glare in my direction.


“Now, I, uh, must get going...”


“Don’t worry, dear. I meant almost, as in, he's harmless unless you're Snape. You needn't worry - you're much prettier than he is." Fanny blushes scarlet and looks at her toes, obviously not used to compliments.

 
“Thank you Remus. And just let me stress again how much I appreciate...”


“Stop it Fanny. I’m the one that should be thanking you. It’s not like what you’re doing is any direct good for you, quite the contrary, you’re not getting a lot of credit for it. You’re using your talent for the good of me and people like me and I think more people should thank you for your efforts.” Uh, oh. She doesn’t stand a chance. He’s using what James used to call the ‘Sirius-grow-up’ voice and I know from experience that one can’t argue with that.


“Oh, Remus...” Fanny suddenly throws her arms around Remus and buries her face in his shoulder. Remus looks a bit surprised but then she starts talking very fast;
“It’s been horrible, everyone around me keep saying I’m wasting effort on something that’s not worth it...”

 

 The piercing stare Remus sends towards me clearly indicates that he wants me out of the room. I just huff. He hardens the stare.
That’s the bad thing about Remus, I muse to myself as I trot out of the room, the door being magicked closed behind me. Arguing with him is like arguing with a tree.

***

I yelp when suddenly the door slams into my head. I try to look a bit wounded when I look up, like I was just passing by and Remus should stop throwing open the doors like that, but he sees right through me, I can see it on the smirk.

“Eavesdropping, were you? She’s gone, so don’t worry, you can change and answer for yourself.”

“I wasn’t bloody eavesdropping! I was just passing by!”

“Do you honestly think I believe that?”
I try to look hurt. It doesn’t work. He keeps smirking.

“Who was she? Why didn’t you tell me she was coming? I could’ve cleared out of here for a while, let the two of you have the place to yourselves to be all lovey dovey...”

“Now don’t go jumping to conclusions Padfoot” Remus says warningly.

“Jump? I didn’t jump. I took a very small step and the conclusions were there! Why else would she know all about you? You’ve got to trust her a great deal if she knows that you're a werewolf, oh and why does she go around brewing you painkiller potions, why does she fawn all over you like that, sobbing in your arms? That sounds...” Remus cuts me off with a look of mixed amusement and disbelief in his eyes. Why do I keep looking at his bloody eyes?


“Now Padfoot, stop it with the conclusions. You don’t know half of what’s going on and I’d like to explain to you before your imagination runs off with you to God knows where. First, the reason I trust her is because I knew her older brother. He was a werewolf, like me. Second, she confides in me because since her brother died there aren’t many for her to confide in. Third, I didn’t tell you she’d be here because I’d hoped to hold off an inevitable explosion on your part.”

“Explosion?”

“You’d better sit down.” Uh, oh.

“Her name is Fanny Maybury. She’s a Raveclaw, only a few years younger than we are. She’s an excellent Potions Master. She outsmarts Snape in several fields, one of them being medicinal potions.” Can’t help but smirk at that.

“Yes, well, as you can guess, Snape doesn’t like her very much. She was an intern for Nathan McMahon, the man who developed the Wolfsbane Potion. She’s not brewing painkiller potions for me, Sirius.”

He can’t be saying what I think he’s saying.
“You’re... wait a second! You’re letting her experiment with you!”


“To put it bluntly, yes. There will be no further developments of the Wolfsbane Potion unless someone is willing to try them out.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Have you gone mad?!?”

“No, I haven’t, we’re hoping to inch towards the cure for lycanthropy.”

“That’s... that’s...”


“I don’t want to hear another word, Sirius. This is a decision I’ve made. It is a matter of importance to me. Don’t insult me by saying something demeaning. Poor Fanny gets a lot of that from her colleagues. That’s why she was so distraught. Most of them seem to think Werewolves are not worth the work of finding a cure.”
I’m speechless. This is somehow so typically... Remus. Sacrificing himself for the greater good, thinking nothing of himself. Or those who love him. Then suddenly it hits me. “We almost lost you last time.”

“Remus?”

“Yes, Sirius?”

“What did she mean they almost lost you the last time?” He sighs.

“Something they added neutralized the effect of the Wolfsbane. I didn’t go docile. The wolf has been enclosed for so long that it was... very angry when it finally got out.”

I feel the blood leave my face.


“It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, Sirius.”
Well it’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I want him to live. I need him to live. He's the last that I've got.

***

It wasn’t an argument, really. Like I said before, you can as well go outside and argue with the trees. It is almost impossible to get to Remus unless he lets you, and that’s rare, even if, before Azkaban, he sometimes gave me the privilege of seeing beneath the surface.

Because it wasn’t an argument, really, there’s no real need for us to make peace.

Because it really wasn’t an argument, it shouldn’t be this awkward.

Because it really wasn’t an argument, there’s nothing I can say when I watch him gulp down his potion just before dinner, both of us knowing full well that it might not work.

***

When I wake up the next morning, he’s not there. I pace around the house, immensely worried until I see him coming through the garden gate just before noon. I have to fight the urge to embrace him. You’re a guest, Sirius, I tell myself. He looks pale and drawn, and tired. Mostly just tired.

“I brought something for you.” He hands me a long narrow box. There’s some anxiety in his eyes. “Of course I don’t know if it’ll suit you, but it worked for me like your old one did... I told Mr. Ollivander that I needed a spare, but he probably suspected something because this wasn’t the one that suited me the best...”


I open the box. Of course I’d known what it was since I saw the shape of it, but Remus’ thoughtfulness still baffles me, although I might have known.
I whip out the wand and try a simple Alohamora at the door. It works perfectly. Like I’d chosen it myself.

“It’s rowan. Thirteen inches, phoenix feather. I know your old one had a core of dragon heartstring, but Ollivander said that wands choose the wizards differently as they age. There aren’t that many with phoenix feathers. I thought it was... well, appropriate. After all that you’ve...” It’s like he doesn’t want to finish the sentence, but I know what he’s implying. Harry has Phoenix feather. Voldemort has Phoenix feather. Now I have Phoenix feather. It’s quite simple, really. Rising from the ashes.


***

Arguing with trees. I’m arguing with trees.
“I don’t want you down there, and that’s final. With these changes to the formula we never know what’s going to happen and I don’t want you to be at any risk. You stay upstairs.”


“Remus, if the wolf comes out you need me in there with you! I might be able to keep the violence at bay!”

“Yes, Sirius, you might. That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make here. You might. You might not. I’m not about to risk it.”

“Remus, listen to me. If it comes out tonight it’ll rip you apart. I know it’s been long but I do remember the last blue moon I spent with you. I’m more than willing to risk it.”

“Sirius, what makes you think it’s your call?”

“I’m your friend.”

“Then you must understand; how do you think I’d feel if I hurt you!”

“You’ve hurt me before. No matter what you do to me you cannot hurt me any worse.”

That was uncomfortably close to that invisible line. His eyes are flashing, with that strange yellow tint they get close to the full moon.


“Sirius...”
It’s more like a snarl than a spoken word, and for the first time since I learnt how to be an Animagi the Wolf frightens me. Our eyes lock, and I see the intensity in his. The madness. The tug of the moon. The agony. How can I not relent?

***

I did what he asked me to do, even if it broke my heart. I took him down to the cellar, put a bowl of water in the corner in case he’d be okay, and get thirsty, and then I locked the trapdoor behind me. I set silencing spells on the house. Then I waited for what would become. I had hoped he’d be okay. He’d keep his mind.

He didn’t.

The cries that still echo in the house are proof of that. I’ve heard him transform before. I’ve even seen him transform. Yet I’ve never heard anything like this.

Those cries cut through my bones, my heart, my conscious mind. They were inhumane, like the cries of someone that’s finally lost trace of what he is, and is battling against what he’s about to become. They lasted for about an hour. Transformations have never lasted for about an hour. They’ve never sounded anything like this.

Then there was silence. And then - the floor shook. The Wolf was running up the trapdoor ladder again and again, trying to break through the very floor, and all I could do was sit in silence and wait for it to be over, knowing that my best friend, the man who I loved even beyond how I’d love a brother was caged inside a beast that was trying to kill, not only him, but everything he could reach.

I had strict instructions. It would be safe when I’d see the first sliver of the sun over the horizon. Throughout the night I waited, willing the sun to hurry on its passage, watching as the sky lightened, listening to the unearthly silence that filled the house when the stars started to disappear from the eastern sky.

Then the cries started again. They continued until the sky started to blush in the east, died away, and still I waited, glued to the kitchen window that looked into the east. When I saw the first rays of the sun over the treetops I couldn’t wait any longer. I raced into the hall, lifting the protection spells as I ran, flung open the trapdoor and turned on the light.

It was carnage. From experience I know roughly how much blood one transformation can produce, but this looked like Remus had been taken and every drop squeezed out of him. I’ve never seen so much blood in my entire life, and I’ve seen plenty. It was everywhere, even splattered on the ceiling.

Remus was lying there, curled up in fetal
position in the furthest corner. I ran to him, noticing the gashes in his back, his legs, everywhere the claws of the beast could reach. He was deathly pale when I gathered him slowly into my arms, but the look of ecstasy on his face took my by surprise. While I was carrying him up the stairs to his room, thanking God that I finally had a working wand so that I could heal him, he opened his eyes and looked at me, his face full of joy.
“Sirius...” he whispered “we almost made it. I almost won.”

***

It took Remus a week to recover after the transformation, a week in which I nursed him to the best of my ability. Fanny looked in on Remus in the evening, surprised at first that I was still there, but immediately concerned when she found Remus still unconscious in bed, musing about irresponsible friends that left their pets to be a burden on ‘people that needed no more burdens’ and then not keeping their word to look in when they said they would. When Remus woke up half a day later she poured the entire speech on him,
which resulted in him letting her in on our secret, thus making a lot of things a great deal easier.

 

***

Today he’s up and about and Fanny dragged him out into the sun with the promise of telling us news of the world. After informing us on a lot of things to do with the ‘Secret war’ as we’ve begun to call it she turns the talk to more personal matters, talking about friends and family and old times with her brother, Edward, which I’ve begun to like, even if I’ve never met him, and won’t ever get the chance to.

 

 Fanny shoots an uncertain glance at Remus, then looks at me where I’m lying as Padfoot at his feet.
“You see, Snuffles, Edward was one of the werewolves that died during the development of the Wolfsbane potion.” I perk up and I shoot a glance at Remus. He looks back and laughs.

“Snuffles, don’t look at me like that. We made an enormous leap last week, and they need some time to work out the results. Also, my body needs rest, so I’m just taking the regular potion for the next two months, at least. I’m not going to die on you just yet.” Just yet???

“Oh, let’s not talk about that now, please! I came here to get away from work and visit my two favourite canines.” The smirk on Fanny’s face is priceless. “Besides, who cares about work when I’ve got such exciting personal news to tell?”

“Personal news? Pray tell!” Remus is immediately interested.

“Well, let's just say I’ve met somebody nice that doesn’t try to tell me I’m wasting my time working on the Wolfsbane.”

“Aha.” Remus looks smug. “So who’s the lucky guy?” She blushes a bit.

“Well, he’s a bit younger than I am, but he’s a fellow Ravenclaw. His name is Derndingle. William Derndingle.”

“Ah, I think I’m familiar with him! Rather tall and blond, right?”

“He does fit the description, yes. He works at the Ministry. For the Magical Law Enforcement Squad.”

 

“Really? And he knows you’re working on the Wolfsbane?” Fanny smiled sweetly.

“Told me it was about time that someone tried to do something for the werewolves. Apparently he worked in the Regulation Department for a year as an intern.”


“Well, it’s nice to hear that some people think nicely of us, even after working in that department.”

“Yes, it is, isn’t it? He’s very nice. We have a date tonight.” Fanny stood up. “I’m just about ready to melt out here. This has been such a hot summer. I’m going into the kitchen to get us something cold to drink.” I look up at her with longing in my eyes. “Don’t worry Snuffles, I won’t forget you”

 

She returns soon after with a pitcher of lemonade, two glasses and a bowl. Pouring the lemonade she turns the talk to Remus’ affairs.
“So, Remus, my love, how’s your love life going?”

“What love life, Fanny?”

“Oh, come on. There must be someone! Remember back in the days when I was still trying to get you out on a date... the way you turned me down.” Hah! I knew there was something between the two, although I can’t bring myself to dislike Fanny for it anymore.

“What do you mean?”

“It wasn’t like you weren’t interested in me... it was like there was someone else you were waiting for. You practically said so.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Fanny, my dear. I think you should cover your head, maybe the sun is doing this to you.” Remus said it playfully but I could detect a slight note of panic in his voice, which roused my curiousity.

“Oh, come on, Remus. Even Snuffles wants to know - don’t you Snuffles?”
I can’t deny that, so I bark once.

“See!”

“Oh, Fanny, leave me alone.” The panic is more obvious now, and Fanny notices, looking at him with a strange look on her face.

“Sorry, Remus. I shouldn’t have asked. I was just curious, that’s all.”
The silence lasts for a long while, and Remus strokes my head absently, looking, but still not, at the glass in his hand. Then finally he speaks, surprising both me and Fanny.

“It was a long time ago. I think I may have lost it forever. No doubt due to my own mistrustfulness.”

***

They’re taking me away. The white fog thickens in my head. My hope is gone. Dementors all around me, clouding my senses, taking away my happiest memories. There’s a sunlit corridor and a man I know very well, walking away from me....

“MOONY!!!! NOOOooooo...!”

There are hands on my shoulders shaking me awake, shaking away the fog and the cold that has settled in my stomach. When I open my eyes Remus is leaning over me, whispering; “It was only a nightmare, it’s over, Padfoot.”

There are tears in his eyes, and the realization of what I shouted out from my sleep jolts me awake. He didn’t need to hear that. I should have remembered to set silencing charms on the bedroom. Wait... I did put silencing charms on the bedroom. Which means...

“How could you hear me, Moony? I’ve got silencing charms.”

He looks away from me with a strange look on his face - was it guilt?

“I... I was already in here. I was watching you sleep. Because I couldn’t myself.”

“I’m sorry about what I said in my sleep. It was a nightmare.”

“You were reliving that day. When they took you away. Was all that you said... was that what you were trying to say through your bonds?” He turns his head to look at me, an unreadable expression on his face.

“I said more than just ‘Moony - No’?”

“You said a great deal more.” He turns away to look out the window, and as he does the scarce light flickers off something on his cheek. A silver streak.

He’s crying. The man who practically rents a Gringotts vault to lock his feelings in is crying.

“You said... you said that you knew I’d figure it out. That you knew I’d search for the truth until I found out what really happened, and that you knew that once I knew the truth I’d set you free.”

“Moony...”

“You weren’t even pleading. You didn’t even try to tell me what really happened. You just declared your absolute faith in me to help you get your freedom back. To help you get justice.

"And I... I just...” His voice falters.

“Moony don’t... really you don’t need to...”

“Ever since that night... that night in the Shrieking Shack... I’ve wondered what you must have thought of me. I just deserted you to a fate that is too cruel for any man to bear, let alone an innocent man. I believed what was easiest to believe, refusing to give in to the senses that told me you were innocent. I never questioned your guilt. I hated you, Sirius. For almost thirteen years, I hated you with a passion. I forced myself to believe you’d broken my heart on purpose. The man who had accepted me for all that I was from the very moment he found out."

I keep my eyes on that silver streak, watching as it creeps down his cheek. "Moony, it's okay, really. I would have hated myself if I'd been in your position."

He turns to look at me and our eyes meet for a few moments. The pain in his gaze is intense and for the first time since meeting him again I have no visions of the betrayal I felt when he cut the strings between us those fourteen years ago. The only thing I see is how he must have suffered, that day and ever since. He looks away, out the window again, and keeps speaking, as if something compels him to continue.

"Then I found out that you were innocent. That night in the shack, the only thing I felt was joy, joy that I was mistaken about your guilt. It wasn’t until later when I realized that I’d never been mistaken. In my heart I always knew you couldn’t have done what they accused you of. Yet, still I refused to give in to my heart, for in my loneliness I believed that my heart had betrayed me before, giving so much of itself to a murderer. Since that night I’ve thought endlessly about what it was that you were going to say to me in that corridor, all those years ago. I’d expected something like ‘Moony, don’t let them take me away’ or ‘I’m innocent, it was Peter, you’ve got to believe me!’, nothing like what I just heard you say."

I want to say something. I want to say something to make it all better, to make it be all right, but no matter what I say I know that I'll never be able to take away all the pain, no more than I'll be able to turn back time and live life differently. So I stay silent, and listen.

"All those years I believed I had trusted you and you had let me down, when really it was you who trusted me and I let you down. I just let them take you. I looked at you with all the hatred I could summon in my heart for you, and then I turned my back while they took you away. I can’t help but wondering what you must have thought of me at that very moment, when you realized that I wasn’t going to help you.”

There’s a low splattering noise, and I realize that a tear has trickled off his chin and fallen on the duvet. I’ve seen Remus vulnerable before, I’ve seen him sad and lonely and hopeless - but I’ve never seen him cry. His hands are clenched so hard at his sides that it looks like they’re going to break.

And suddenly all my doubts have vanished. This is my home. With this man, who is all I’ve got left of my past. I reach for one of his clenched hands and take it in mine. His face, when he turns towards me is tear-streaked.

“Don’t just walk away from me.”

“What?”

“What I was thinking, in that corridor, fourteen years ago. Don’t just walk away from me Remus Lupin. Because I love you.”

He gives a dry sob and slumps against my shoulder. I can hear him saying something into my neck.

“I’m sorry, Sirius. I’m so sorry. I know you can never forgive me but I really am sorry...”

“Stop saying that, Moony. It doesn’t need to be said.”

“I want to say it.”

“Well, I don’t want to hear it. There’s something else I’d much rather hear, so why don’t you say that to make me happy?”

I can feel his face on my shoulder, I can feel the way he starts to smile, and I can feel his warm breath on my chest when he asks me:

“Do you really mean that?”

“Absolutely.”

He pulls away slightly so he can look me in the eye, and in all the years I’ve known him I’ve never seen his face look anything like this.

“I love you too.”


The way he settles into the crook of my arm. The way his hair feels against my skin. The way he slings an arm protectively over me. The way he curls a leg around one of mine. The way it feels to lower my lips and kiss the top of his head.

I don’t think either of us will sleep much, if at all tonight. We are too busy, reveling in the familiarity of each other.


Home, says my heart, and I finally allow myself to agree. Home.

 

 

//
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