This was falling. But for the first time in his
life, Remus allowed everything to come rushing forward. Joy, fear, giddiness,
and bitter sorrow all seemed to rush through him at once. There was still
the nagging fear that this was wrong, that if he finally let go, and let
her in, that he would hurt her. He couldnít bear that. But that was a
maybe, and he knew, he absolutely knew, that walking away from her would
hurt her, more than anything else he could ever do.
He stared at her intently. The back of his throat
burned and the dull ache he had felt in his chest all day had suddenly
turned into a sharp pain. Some detached part of his mind thought Ďhow
odd Ė it really does seem to feel like there is a hole in youí. Even wivesí
tales and proverbs had their basis in truth. He would not be the first,
nor the last, to feel like this. He needed her so much it hurt. Keeping
her away from him was too much.
She watched him quietly, never changing her gaze,
never changing her expression. Her face was closed, and still. She regarded
him will such studied composure, but he saw in her eyes that the face
was not showing anything of the struggle playing in her mind. Why am
I doing this, he thought. Why are we doing this?
Her pain was as real as his, her fear was as deep,
and it just came from a different source. Her fear was that he would leave,
that he would decide she wasnít worth the risk. But she was worth risking
everything for. A risk he should have taken long ago.
Remus drew a shuddering breath, then, still never
taking her eyes from hers, he quietly and calmly unbuttoned his shirt.
He hesitated for a second, before removing it, but in that instant he
saw a flicker across her eyes. Trust me. I will never leave
you. Let me in, please; let me in.
He was terrified. All the old fears came screaming
at him. This would make everything so real; this would make everything
so final. She had never met the wolf; she had never actually seen what
the physical impact of this horrific curse was. It had all been so distant,
almost fantastic, till this instant. Yes, they talked about it, but she
had told him once that you can talk about possibilities as much as you
like, it still really doesnít mean you know what youíre going to do when
something really happens. Remus felt tears starting to build in his eyes.
Oh God, this is it. This will end it all. Itís been so nice pretending,
so safe, so sweet. I couldnít help pretending it could be real. Just for
a little while, I needed to steal some sense of loving another person
and being loved. It just felt so niceÖ
He was so startled when she whispered his name,
he felt himself jump. He felt the tears start to crawl slowly down his
cheeks. Remus drew a shuddering breath, feeling his face contort in pain,
as he hugged his arms tightly around himself, taking a half step back.
He finally broke her gaze, and the sobs escaped him. Iíll never look
at her like that again. Iíll never get the chance again. I canít bear
this; oh God this hurts too muchÖ.
Her arms came around him, holding him tightly to
her. He felt her hands grasping his back almost painfully tight as she
clenched them into fists. "Stop it, Remus" she whispered against his chest.
"Stop it. Donít do this. Havenít we suffered enough? Hasnít there been
enough pain? I canít live with the pain anymoreÖ." He heard the tears
in her voice too. " I canít be alone anymore. I canít let you walk away
from me. I wonítÖ." Her own voice broke now as she started to sob, still
holding him to her tightly.
"Please, Remus," she gasped though her tears, "Please
donít do this. Please, let me in. Please donít ever, ever let me go. I
promise, I promise Iíll never hurt you. Never. PleaseÖ."
With that, he opened his arms and pulled her to
him, holding her as tightly as she held him. He buried one hand in her
beautiful hair, and wrapped the other so tightly around her back he feared
she couldnít breathe. They stood like that for several minutes, weeping
quietly, until Remus felt his own tears stop, and he could breathe evenly
again. He slowly caressed her back, calming away the last of her own tears,
which he could feel soaking one of his shirt fronts, and running down
"You canít just push me away. I need you too much
to let you do it", she whispered.
"I could never, ever push you away," he whispered
back. "I Ö" He stopped himself before he said it. I just canít bear
to watch you leave me.
"I will not leave you."
Remus froze at those words. She pulled back enough
to turn her face up to his. He was suddenly surprised to see how small
she seemed against him. Her presence was so strong, so intense, that she
commanded attention in any room and always seemed to be larger and stronger
than she was. Now, holding her in his arms, he saw that he was a good
head taller than her, and it surprised him. He gazed down at her, amazed
as he always was at just how startlingly beautiful she looked to him.
She had no idea just how lovely she wasÖ.
"You are so beautiful. You never let yourself see
that, do you? So beautifulÖ" his voice broke as he felt new tears and
a fresh wave of terror go though him. He closed his eyes for a moment,
to regain his sense of balance & fight back the fear that was burning
in him again.
"ReÖ" His eyes snapped open and he brought a finger
to her lips to silence her. She immediately complied, but her eyes glowed
at him. He could see fear in them, and total, complete acceptance. He
knew in that instant that if he told her to leave, to never come back,
that she would do it because he had asked her to. He also knew that it
would kill both of them. There was nothing else to do anymore but to let
He let go of her and stepped back. She misinterpreted
his actions, and she let out a strange chocked sob.
"No, donít goÖ", she gasped. Remus immediately
reached out one hand and brought it to her cheek.
"Shhhhhh. Iím not going anywhere."
He smiled at this, looked her in the eye and said
with the first real conviction he had felt in years,
"I promise". She gave him a quiet smile, and brought
both hands up to grip his forearm. He noticed that her hands were shaking.
"Shhhhh," he said again, running his thumb gently
up and down her cheek. Her eyes drifted closed under his caress, but he
could still see tears glinting in her eyelashes. He could have stood like
that all night, but reluctantly he pulled his hand back. Now that he had
taken this step, now that he knew what he was going to do, he had to finish
what he had started.
She was not startled and frightened this time when
he stepped away from her. Instead, she calmly watched him as he took a
deep breath and removed his shirt.
At first, she did not remove her gaze from his
eyes. Then she quietly and slowly lowered her eyes to look at him. He
felt sick and scared again, but the damage had been done, and now whatever
would happen would happen. He wondered what she was thinking now, as she
her expression remained quiet and closed.
Years of biting and ripping at his own body in
his mindless fury during his transformations had left him covered with
scars. Some were small, like little scratches, which barely showed up
against his milk white skin. Others were large, brutal gashes that ripped
across him. There was a particularly horrific scar on his left side. Instinctively,
her breath caught as she saw it, and she reached out to him. He closed
his eyes and marvelled at how warm her hands felt, how soothing it was
just to be touched so simply by another living soul.
"Is thisÖ", she hesitated, not knowing how to ask
what she wanted to know. But Remus understood.
"No," he said quietly. He reached for her hand,
and then placed it on a smaller, more jagged scar on his left shoulder.
She nodded, and quietly caressed his shoulder,
tracing the lines of the old bite. But instinctively her hand ran down
his shoulder and chest, back to the horrible, ripping, 10 inch gashes
on his side. He saw a tear run down her face, and she looked at him.
"Then, you did this Ö to yourself".
She didnít move or say anything for a moment. Then
she quietly stepped forward and into his arms. She tucked her head under
his chin, and continued to lightly caress the old scar on his side while
her other arm wrapped around his back. He held her closely, feeling a
little surreal. They stood like that in the moonlight for sometime. Finally,
she spoke again.
He kissed her forehead lightly and ran his hands
across her back. "What"?
"How did this happen?"
"What?" he asked again.
"This wound, this is much worse than any of the
others. How did you do this to yourself?", she stopped and pulled away
slightly to look at him. "You thought that you would scare me, that these
scars would scare me. They donít. Only this one. This one scares me".
"Why that one?" he asked quietly, and she could
see that his face had changed and something dark had come back into his
eyes. Obviously, her suspicious were right, and there was more to this
scar than the others. She didnít say anything more, but kept looking at
Sighing, resolved to do what he had to do, he started
to quietly tell her the story, standing there in the moonlight, as the
summer air ruffled through the grass in lazy breezes.
"I got that scar from a wound I gave myself the
full moon after James and Lily diedÖ." Remus started to tell her quietly.
He told her of the utter despair he had felt that
night. The events of the last few weeks had been too much to bear. He
had only come to fully realize the grim reality of the situation the morning
of the next full moon, as he felt the moon start to pull on him and the
dull ache he felt before every full moonrise spread through him. All of
his friends were gone. He had loved his friends so deeply, and never ever
had he imagined being without them. They were part of him, and if he was
there, so were they, right? No. Three of them were dead, and the fourth
in jail forever for killing them.
As his restlessness grew during the day, he took
to pacing his study, running his hands through his hair and ignoring the
tears that ran down his face in a constant, unending and unnerving trickle
all day. James was dead, Lily was dead, and Peter was dead. Where the
hell had he been when they needed him? He was sick, locked away, useless
He realized with a sharp horror that all the times
he had thought he was alone before was a joke. He was lonely, maybe, but
he was not alone. Before, he could always, always go find his friends,
no matter what. And, more often than not, they had always come to him.
Especially Lily; she was constantly coming to collect him and refusing
to allow him to spend too much time by himself. But Lily was not coming
now. She was not sending James to bring him to their house for dinner.
Even Peter, whom they had seen less and less of over the past year, wouldnít
be showing up unexpectedly to have lunch with him and quiz him endlessly
about what he was doing fighting Death Eaters. And he couldnít even bear
to think about Sirius. He still could not believe that SiriusÖ. It had
to be some sick misunderstanding. Sirius had promised him, heíd promised
The grief and rage he felt as a man became a terrifying
fury in the wolf. When he had woken up the next morning, he saw that he
had utterly destroyed the room he had locked himself in. Every one of
the walls was covered in deep gashes from his claws. The corners of the
thick old wooden door to the room had been gnawed off. The shutters had
been ripped from the window, and two of the glass panes between the metal
stripping were smashed. Dazed, he looked down at his hands, which were
throbbing in pain. There was a deep cut on the top of his left arm, presumably
from the glass. He stared in horror at his left hand, seeing that two
of his fingernails were gone. The wolf had fought so hard to get free,
he had ripped out his claws. Gasping for breath, and fighting the wave
of nausea that rose in him, he tried to sit up.
An intense pain came from his left side. He reached
a shaking hand down to feel what he had done. He felt three deep gashes
on his side. They reached from his lower back up to the middle of his
chest. They were still bleeding slowly, and he knew he had to do something
for that, but couldnít seem to focus on what he should do. The last
time I hurt myself this badly, he thought in his daze, SiriusÖ.
He went numb, but could not fight back the memory. He lay there, aware
that he was weeping again, and remembered the last time the wolf had been
so frightened. He remembered the promises that were made.
Remus had had a particularly hard month. Things
had been getting worse, and he, James and Sirius had been working non-stop
to just keep up with everything, let alone gain any sort of advantages.
The fear was reaching a fever pitch, and the sense of calm, of some sort
of normalcy and good humour he, James, Sirius and Lily had been working
so hard to try and hold onto was slipping away. The three of them had
felt it, talking less than they normally did, and even occasionally snapping
at each other. Lily had pulled them out of one particularly pointless
argument brought on by nerves one day by telling Harry, who was perched
on her hip, in a loud voice that it was a pity Snape wasnít there to get
the thrill of his life watching Hogwartsí most famous best friends go
at it like at bunch of 12 year old girls arguing over a hair ribbon. Harry
had just laughed and batted his mother on the chin with one chubby fist,
but the men had instantly shut up, and things had calmed down.
Then the full moon had come round again, and Remus
couldnít be with James and Sirius on a particularly dangerous raid. They
had been angry with him for being so upset about it.
"Just shut up about it, Remus," James had finally
yelled at him. "I have enough to do without worrying myself sick about
you too. Go. Be safe. We will be fine. What other platitudes do I have
to offer? For Godís sake, Moony, this is us. I thought we were
beyond having to say anything years ago. We know how much it hurts you
to not be here. But donít you know how much it hurts us too, not being
with you tonight? Not being able to offer what little miserable comfort
we can to you? Do you know what itís felt like to have to watch you suffer
all these years and know we canít do a damn thing to stop it?"
Remus was stunned at this outburst. Sirius had
walked up behind Remus and put an arm around his shoulders.
"Yeah, you raving egomaniac, " he said with a he
said with a grin, though his eyes were grave, "Youíre worse than any woman
I ever dated, you know that? How many times do we have to tell you we
love you before youíll quit testing us, eh?"
Remus, for the first time since he was twelve years
old and they had confronted him about his lycanthropy, burst into tears
in front of his friends. Sirius and James, utterly startled at the uncharacteristic
display of raw emotion from Remus, immediately wrapped their arms around
him and held him while he cried.
"Iím sorry, Iím sorryÖ" he had gasped. But the
other two had shushed him immediately, and just continued to hold him
"Donít you ever be sorry," Sirius said forcefully,
"Donít you ever be sorry. Whatís done is done, and it changes nothing
between us. Nothing. Never did, never will."
Remus finally got control over himself again, and
quietly pulled away from his friends, although they did not let him go
and retreat into himself so easily. James and Sirius each held on to one
arm, and looked at Remus quietly. James spoke first.
"Come for dinner tomorrow. Lily feels left out,
staying at home with Harry and never getting to see her friends. She misses
Remus nodded and smiled at James. "I miss her,
James smiled broadly and patted Remus on the back
as he moved past him to pick up his cloak and leave.
"Good. Harry will be happy to see you, too. Youíll
be impressed. He now knows a few words other than Moony," Remus
and Sirius grinned at each other. James continued talking as he walked
out the door, in a mock tone of anguish, "Spend a whole week trying to
teach my first born to say "daddy", and all it takes is ten minutes with
you and his first, and for another week only, word is "Moony". At least,
now that his vocabulary has expanded, he will no longer address absolutely
every object as "Moony", thank goodness. I donít care how cute Lily thought
it was, I was worried heíd end up in HufflepuffÖ."
"Jamesí son? Heaven forbid!" said Sirius,
rolling his eyes. "Remus, do you need anything?"
Remus shook his head quietly. "Go. Catch up with
James, and please, please be safe."
He expected some self-defacing, sarcastic comment
from Sirius at this, but he still felt the need to say it. But Sirius
was not laughing. He reached over and picked up his own cloak, still not
letting go of Remusí arm. He turned to face him again.
"Remus, Iíll be over first thing in the morning
and Iíll make us breakfast and tell you all about what went on tonight.
For all we know, it could be nothing and my story will consist of how
I sat in a muddy ditch all night listening to James tell me he was cold
every ten minutes." Neither of them laughed.
That night, the full moon Remus had spent entirely
alone for many years, his loneliness and anxiety had made the wolf feel
trapped and confused. The wolf, desperate to get out, desperate to soothe
the fear, had attacked the room with a fury it had never felt before.
He succeeded in smashing a large hole in the wall next to the door, although
he couldnít get through the wooden frame, and had cut his leg deeply on
a splintered piece of the wainscoting. When Sirius arrived, Remus was
still laying on the floor, dazed and starting to feel dizzy from the loss
"Remus?" He heard Siriusí voice from the other
side of the door, but it would be useless to call out. He had placed silencing
charms on the room, so there would be no risk of anyone hearing him. Sound
got in, so he could hear if anyone was trying to break into his house,
but nothing got out. He was too tired to get up anywayÖ.
"Remus!" It was no longer a question. "Remus, can
you hear me? Get back from the door, Remus. Remus? Damn it!" He could
hear Sirius muttering something, but the door remained closed. "Remus?
Remus! Did you charm the door? What the hell have you done? Damn it, damn
it!" He now heard Sirius trying to force the door.
"Thatís it! Iím just going to finish what you did
to the wallÖ." Sirius then proceeded to actually kick at the hole in the
wall to make it big enough for him to get through, venting his own anger
and fear in the process. He finally got through the hole, and looked around
the room. Sirius went over to Remus and dropped down on his knees next
to him. Siriusí voice now sounded like it was coming out of a fog bank,
and Remus could no longer see the edges of the room.
"RemusÖMoonyÖWake up now. Please. Are you okay?
Oh my God, oh my GodÖ." Sirius had just rolled Remus over onto his back
and noticed the cut on Remusí leg, and the size of the pool of blood Remus
was lying in. Sirius picked Remus up and moved him to the bed. Sirius
piled blankets on him, and tentatively put pressure on the wound to staunch
the blood flow. The pain was excruciating and Remus screamed and tried
to push Sirius away. But he was no match for the healthy and now every
frightened Sirius, who held him down with a surprising force.
"Remus, I know it hurts, but Iíve got to do something
until I can get help. Do you understand? Just nod."
Remus nodded weakly.
"Good. Remus, how do I get the door open? What
did you do to it?"
"Yes," said Sirius quietly through clenched teeth,
"I got that part. But what charm? I couldnít get it open. Whatís the counter
"There isnít one. Itíll open itself when the charm
wears off." Sirius looked both furious and terrified at the same time.
"In fifteen hoursÖ"
"What good does that do me? When did you set it?
I need to get you out of here now, now! Why the hell did you put such
a stupid charm on the sodding door?!"
"Just in case. Just in caseÖ"
"In case of what?!" Sirius was starting to feel
panicked. The pool of blood on the floor looked huge, and the bleeding
had not stopped. He had to do something to stop the bleeding, but was
scared that that wouldnít be enough.
"You canít do this to me, you prat. You just canít
bloody do this to me." Sirius talked to himself as he carefully cleaned
the blood away from the wound on Remusí leg. He needed to be able to see
what he was doing if the healing charms were going to work. Remus moaned
and tried to turn away, but Sirius held him down. "Donít move,
Remus finally looked up at Sirius. He hadnít realized
what a mess Sirius was when he had come into the room. His hair was soaking
wet, and his left side was covered with mud and grime. There were dark
circles under his eyes, and Remus could now see that Sirius was crying,
the tears smudging his filthy face.
"You look awfulÖ."
"Speak for yourself. Actually, donít speak. Just
lay there as quietly as possible. Donít even move." Sirius had finished
doing what he could for the wound and now sat back on his knees next to
"I said no talking," Sirius snapped. Then a fresh
wave of tears came, and he swore as he grasped Remusí hand. "Everyoneís
fine. Just cold, and tired, and filthy. And scared. Very scared."
Remus looked as through he might say something,
then thought better of it.
Sirius smirked. "Good boy." Then his expression
dropped. Sirius looked towards the door, still firmly shut, then looked
slowly around the room and back at Remus. Remus was watching him through
half closed eyes. He looked like a nightmare, covered in his own clotting
blood, which even made his hair stick out at odd angles on one side. Sirius
reached out and smoothed the hair into place. Somehow, that only managed
to make Remus look is usual calm, cool, collected and very tightly controlled
self, even through Siriusí hand came back red with blood. Sirius choked
at the sight, and started crying in earnest.
"Donít you dare die on me, Moony. Donít you dare.
Donít you leave me. I will never, ever leave you."
Sirius grinned at him, though his tears were still
flowing freely. "I promise."
Remus managed a weak smile in return.
But you did leave me, and you took everything
with you. Look at me nowÖ. Somehow, Remus got up. He slowly retrieved
his wand from where he had hidden it the night before and removed the
charms on the door. After the incident when he had cut open his leg, he
had sworn to Sirius, on his motherís grave, that he would never ever use
a timed charm again. Last night, in spite of everything, he remembered
that promise, and had kept it. He left the room and went to care for his
The wounds on his side were gruesome, but he managed
to patch himself up. Some sane part of his consciousness spoke through
his exhaustion and said that he should go immediately to the hospital;
that the gashes needed to be tended to by a proper healer. But he couldnít
face them; he could not face those people and tell them what had happened.
Because there would be no solace from the looks they would give him. The
fear, the disgust, the stony masks; they would not speak with him, or
meet his eye. They would bandage his wounds, and send him on his way as
quickly as possible. But they would remember his face, with utter clarity.
And if they ever saw him again, they would know exactly what a monster
Because the wounds were not tended to properly,
they left terrible scars when they finally healed weeks later. That was
fine with Remus.
Remus stopped talking. He knew in his mind that
she had probably figured most of that out for herself before he ever told
her the details. Certainly she knew that there was a very good reason
why he had that scar. At the time, he had wanted to hurt. He smiled into
her hair. Never could get anything past her, never will. So damn smart
"The wolf feels everything you donít let yourself
feel. And then you let it turn on you." She said quietly. See? She
got it in one.
"It took me years to figure that one out, you know.
Itís no fair you breaking down all my walls and learning all my secrets
in one night."
She laughed quietly, and said, "My God Remus, Iíve
spent years trying to figure all this out. It was just time to finally
do something about it. I meant what I said; I canít bear to lose you,
and I wonít let you go." She paused a moment, then continued, almost in
a whisper, "Sirius told me what you said to him. That you were thinking
of leaving again, that you couldnít bear the idea of hurting me. He felt
that you were trying to justify running off by getting him to promise
to look out for me. I agreed with him."
Remus grimaced. "Yes, I think thatís probably right."
"We also agreed that you were not going to get
away with it, no matter what."
Now Remus laughed quietly.
"It must have been very, very wonderful for you
when you learned that Sirius was innocent," she said.
Remus thought about that. ĎVery, very wonderfulí
would not have been the phrase he would choose to describe that event.
But having Sirius back was definitely wonderful. Learning the truth had
lifted a weight off of him he had not realized was there until it suddenly
vanished, and the new lightness did indeed feel wonderful.
She sighed. She had stopped caressing his side
at some point during his story and had wrapped both of her arms around
him. They stood there in each otherís arms for a long time. Their silences
had always been as rich as their conversations. They had spent many hours
just working together quietly side by side, or having lunch, or just walking
through the fields and woods, barely speaking but in total, happy companionship.
She finally chuckled against his chest, and he gasped at the sensation
"What?" he managed to ask.
"I was thinking about Sirius instructing Harry
in the finer points of setting off fireworks undetected this afternoon.
Very earnest he was. Glad to see someone taking pride in their work."
She looked up at him and he could clearly see the laughter in her eyes.
"You two must have been terrors when you were at school together."
"Terror seems a bit harsh. Well, maybe Sirius was,
but he was trying to be. So was James, come to think of it."
"And you were the voice of reason?"
"Is that totally impossible to comprehend?" he
"No," she said quietly, looking up at him again,
"I see that completely. It takes a very great and a very strong heart
to offer reason in the face of adversity, to be the voice of sanity when
all you feel yourself is lost and out of control. Itís care for others,
isnít it? Thatís what keeps us going, and thatís what gives us the deepest
scars. Because only if you bother to care for someone else can you ever
be hurt by them."
"I will never hurt you."
She smiled at him. "Iíve always known that. Iím
just glad you understand that now too."
Remus blinked. She was right; he finally, totally
understood and accepted that he would not hurt her, that this was right,
and that there was no reason left on earth for him to fear this. He took
her face in his hands, and kissed her.
Oh yes, this was falling.