Chapter Two: Weakness
light of dawn coming through the window did very little to light the private,
curtained-off area of the hospital wing; the glow from the hearth served not
only to add warmth and light, but also to make the sterile atmosphere of the
room seem less bleak. The door suddenly
opened, allowing a hushed woman’s voice to break the stillness. “Only a few more feet, Remus.”
mumble was the only reply as Madam Pomfrey pushed the door all the way open and
half-carried a ghostly figured wrapped in an old cloak. “I’ve set you up in your usual bed, so we’ve
only to cross the room, and you can rest,” she said with a cheerful lilt to her
voice that just fell short of not sounding forced. There was no response until the bed was
reached and the specter laid upon it; only then did she pull the cloak away
from the boy’s blood streaked face to hear a hoarsely whispered “Thank you.”
you’re welcome, as always, dear,” she said softly. “Let me bandage you, and then I’ll get the
sleeping draft.” Her hands worked
deftly, swapping between clean, white cloth and a mahogany wand, and though it
was obvious that she was concentrating on the work at hand, she also quietly
talked to her charge.
been the worst in my recent memory, Remus.”
only response was a barely perceptible nod.
“I had been
hoping that the more mild transformations you’ve been having in the last couple
of years would come to be the norm, and this sudden relapse worries me.”
didn’t answer; his eyes were shut tightly as she sealed a rather serious gash
that ran the length of his forearm.
have any idea why this one was so terrible?”
a haggard breath, answering her for the first time. “I couldn’t tell you.”
Pomfrey was wrapping his blue, swollen ankle tightly in elastic cloth. “I expect it’s just something we now know
we’ll have to watch for. Another mystery
of Lycanthropy, I suppose.”
suppose,” echoed Remus, as she finally laid his head back against the pillow,
wiping the blood off of his face with a damp rag.
clear your mind, and I’ll be right back with the draught.” She turned and left through the door to her
still for a moment, until the sudden sound of quick footsteps and a rustle of
fabric. There was a shimmer beside
Remus’s bed, and then the sudden sight of Sirius Black pulling an iridescent
cloak off of his shoulders.
blinked disbelievingly. “S—Sirius?”
nodded, and sat down gingerly on the edge of his friend’s bed. “Yeah.”
blinked again, as if trying to clear the vision from his eyes. “What are you doing here?” he said huskily.
seemed to be gazing into the coals of the fire.
“I wanted to know how you were doing,” he said vaguely.
have you been here?” Remus asked him, puzzled.
about one o’clock in the morning, I guess.”
a sound somewhere between a laugh and a heaving cough. “Why?”
to know how you were doing,” Sirius repeated, turning to look down at him. “You look awful.”
the sound again. “That happens,
said Sirius hesitantly, “I think—I think you should have let me and James go
with you this time.”
sighed. “I told you. Not after what happened last month.”
The door to
Madam Pomfrey’s office suddenly opened, and Sirius flung himself off of the bed
and against the wall, gathering James’s cloak around himself. “I’m sorry, dear,” the nurse said, her face a
rather flushed crimson, “but I seem to have run completely out of sleeping
potion. I’ll have to go see the Potions
Master about some.”
right, Madam Pomfrey,” Remus said quietly but earnestly.
try and sleep without it, dear?” Madam Pomfrey said, looking quite
concerned. “Try not to dwell on the
transformation, in any case. You know it
always makes it worse.”
Remus said indistinctly. “I know.”
“I know you
do.” Madam Pomfrey continued to watch
him for a few moments, before briskly adding, “Try to sleep, then,” and turning
to leave the hospital wing.
the briefest of pauses, Sirius had the cloak off again, this time flopping onto
the chair beside Remus’s bed. “I’ve
never known her to be out of sleeping draft before,” he said, absent-mindedly
stretching his arms above his head.
she didn’t know she’d be needing it. I’m
usually not this bad off at the end of a full moon,” Remus said in his tired,
abruptly sat up straight, pounding his hands into the arms of the chair. “You see?” he exclaimed, “You see why we
should have gone with you? You’re even
worse than you were before our fifth year!”
that. I think it’s because I’m older now, so the Wolf is stronger. Either that, or it’s just venting its
frustration of not being completely let out in two years.”
stood up, as if unable to contain his energy, and began to pace back and forth
in front of the bed, running his hands through his hair. “This is ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. You,” he said emphatically, turning to look
at the thin, pale boy in the bed, “are absolutely ridiculous.”
pained expression was only partly due to the physical trauma he had just been
through. “Why am I ridiculous?”
Sirius shouted, “You’ve got three mates who are dying to help you out—“
want anybody dying for me, Sirius!” Remus interjected softly.
stupid, you know what I meant! You’ve
got the three of us, and all you can think of to do is lie there in that
hospital bed, playing the martyr, all cut up and—“ Sirius suddenly stopped
raving and swallowed. “That’s a lovely
black eye you’re sporting, there.”
raised his left hand, the one less injured, to his face, and winced. “Hadn’t realised I’d
managed to bang up my face. Usually it’s
just my hands and back.”
time, your ankle, it seems,” Sirius added, sitting lightly on the bed next to
his friend, staring at the wounded appendage.
“A lovely purple color it’s becoming, did you see?”
swollen shut, of course I didn’t.”
looked down to see Remus’s thin lips formed into a weak smile. “Your ankle’s nowhere near as bad as the cut
running across your forehead and down your cheek, though. When Madam Pomfrey brought you in here, I
thought you were losing all of your blood.”
still…?” Remus asked, rolling his eyes upward as if he could see the cut.
not,” Sirius said. “She made it stop
bleeding straight away. It’s sealed now,
though it looks like—“ He lifted his fingers to gently touch Remus’s cheek. “It looks,” he said softly, “like you’re going
to have a rather faint scar.”
eyes remained locked on Sirius’s fingers.
“You never know,” he murmured.
“It might heal.”
Sirius echoed. He blinked, running his
thumb gently across the recently healed cut.
“Remus,” he said suddenly.
reply was to focus his gaze on Sirius’s eyes.
“Remus,” Sirius repeated, “You have to promise me you’ll never go
through that transformation alone again.”
Remus repeated, his eyes showing the confusion he felt.
me,” said Sirius, leaning down towards him, “that you’ll never go through that
transformation without me ever again.”
you?” Remus’s voice was even quieter than normal.
me,” Sirius said, his face only six inches away from Remus’s.
don’t—what exactly are you asking, Sirius?” Remus asked in a perplexed whisper.
sure,” Sirius confessed, and then he moved forward and kissed Remus gently on
It was a
short kiss, just a slight connection, and when Sirius pulled away, Remus was
left with an expression of extreme uncertainty in his eyes. Sirius broke the silence with a sharp intake
of breath. “Remus, I hate that you have
to go through this. It hurts.”
didn’t answer, but Sirius continued his release of frank words. “There’s so much I can do, Moony. I can ride a broomstick, I can get top marks
on exams, I can nick food from the kitchens.
I can write a magical map of the school.
I can become an Animagus. I can
turn into a big, black dog. But I
can’t,” he said dismally, dropping his head to his chest, “do anything to stop
you from going through an absolute nightmare twelve times a year. When it comes to that, I’m the weakest person
in this room.”
“Sirius…” Remus said softly.
lifted his head. “I hate that I’m
weak. I hate that I can’t do anything
weak,” Remus said, lifting a bandaged hand to rest heavily on Sirius’s
arm. “You’re not.” With the last bit of strength he had left,
Remus pulled himself into a sitting position, dropping his head on Sirius’
shoulder. Sirius wrapped his arms around
the exhausted young man, stroking the brown hair with his fingers, and that was
how Madam Pomfrey found them when she re-entered the hospital wing.
not to drop the bottle of sleeping draught in her surprise; rather, she set the
bottle down on a nightstand and strode purposefully across the room. “What do you think you are doing, Sirius
Black?” she demanded.
didn’t turn around, for fear of the motion jarring Remus, but said simply, “I
suppose you’d like me to leave, then?”
“Get out of
my hospital!” Madam Pomfrey exclaimed, pointing firmly to the exit.
Sirius gently laid Remus back in
bed, stood, and grabbed James’s cloak off of the chair. “If you want me to explain—“
“I don’t need anything explained,”
Madam Pomfrey said firmly, “Just leave.
Honestly, don’t you want him to recover properly?” When she made the clicking noises with her
tongue, Sirius knew that he would be in no special trouble. “It’s bad enough we have one boy up all night
doing all sorts of terrible things to himself, then this one doesn’t seem to
think it worth sleeping past dawn. Well, you’ll get no sympathy from me, Mr.
Black. Go down to breakfast immediately,
if it’s even late enough for that yet—and don’t even think about coming back
here until tomorrow! I won’t have any of
you lot disturbing Mr. Lupin today, do you understand?”
Sirius was already halfway across
the room. “Yes, Madam Pomfrey.”
“And if I catch you sneaking in
here again, I’ll be having a talk with Professor McGonagall!”
“Yes, Madam Pomfrey,” Sirius said,
his hand on the doorknob. He left the
room and had almost pulled the door behind himself, when a tired, hoarse voice
called from inside the room, “Sirius?”
He leaned back inside. “Yes?”
Remus was looking at him from the
bed, an unreadable expression on his face as Madam Pomfrey poured sleeping
draught into a goblet. “I…” he began,
then muttered, as if he could find no other words, “Thank you.”
Sirius looked at him for a moment, and
then finally closed the door behind him.