Dedicated to Jo, post-fact.

“The attic of my mind
these feelings I can’t hide
I can’t share
I feel alone, ah yeah
the subconscious keeps me here
I fell in love with a balladeer
I saw your tongue, it licked my heart
they called you queer”

-“Heropsychodreamer”, Live

Part I: “Disclosure”

Remus Lupin kicked the snow that had formed around the castle walls and in the process stubbed his toe. Swearing loudly, he jumped up and down for a while to calm his nerves as well as the throbbing toe, and then proceeded to stalk off, as far away from the dratted castle as possible.

He hated that castle right now, and he hated everybody that occupied it. Hell, he hated everybody, period. And he really hated himself.

“Pervert… Stupid, useless, bloody…” Remus huffed as he wandered further and further away from the building, towards the lake. He let out a puff of air and his breath formed into a cool cloud around his face, dissipating rapidly. With a heavy sigh, he fell onto the snow, bum-first, and shoved his hands into its icy crystals.

It was official. He was the most abnormal, perverse human being on the whole damn planet - and this time there was no excuse for it. It was bad enough being a werewolf - at least that wasn’t completely his fault. But this…this was the way he had been born. And this would also be the end of him. After what happened… well, he didn’t think he could come back to the castle to face anyone. Granted, no one had noticed, but, dammit, he had.

Remus’s fingers played with the snow idly, tracing patterns into the slushy, yet jagged surface. It happened earlier that morning. Remus had come back from the Shack exhausted and bruised, but expertly bandaged up by Madam Pomfrey. He fell into bed immediately, hoping against hope that perhaps soon his friends would be able to join him on these painful nights. Remus didn’t know if it would really help - who knew what sort of shapes the threesome would take. After all, you couldn’t exactly choose who you became as an Animagus… Your form sort of chose you, instead. But they would be good company, at any rate.

Some part of him was still scared for the three, even after all the assurances he had heard over the past few years. Sirius’ mind simply would not be changed - he had to do it, and James and Peter seemed just as determined. Remus honestly didn’t know why they were so taken with the idea of accompanying him on full moons, but that didn’t prevent him from being eternally grateful.

He was about to close his curtains as he picked up his wand, but caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. Sirius was stirring and looked on the verge of waking up. He seemed to be hot, as he was kicking the blankets off himself with his bare legs, his face damp with sweat. When he had succeeded at kicking the blankets clean off the bed, he turned away and soon began to breathe rhythmically once again, his back rising and falling slowly with each successive breath. The early winter sun was peering through the window and idly catching on his long body, and suddenly Remus realized that for some inexplicable reason he had found Sirius beautiful. It was the most disturbing thought he’d ever had, and its strangeness was stressed by the fact that all of a sudden he had grown…hard. Hard, at the sight of Sirius.

His friend.

Who wasn’t a girl.

Not willing to think of the obvious and frightening implications of that occurrence, Remus groaned and tried to mentally shake the erection off. No luck - it was still there. Maybe that was because he was still looking at Sirius, who was, blissfully for the both of them, still asleep. Why was it that his longish black hair seemed so soft against the white pillow, and his back that had begun to form some muscle as he continued to grow, so attractive to Remus? Why did his shorts-covered ass have to have that curve to it that made Remus want to touch it and see if it was really as hard as it looked? And why did Sirius had to have left his curtains open?

Probably because he trusted his best friend to not go around lusting after him, that’s why! thought Remus and demonstratively turned away. His hand seemed to take care of his erection as he came, frustrated, onto his fingers, but nothing - nothing - could now help him to get rid of his rather conflicted thoughts. After a half an hour of trying to fall asleep and failing miserably, Remus got up and, picking up his cloak, fled from the dormitory without a backward glance. He needed to get away from it - and from Sirius.

A gust of wind ruffled his hair and chilled his somewhat cracked skin. Remus didn’t care. Nothing mattered now in the face of this horrific discovery, which he now knew to be irrevocably true. He’d seen the signs before, after all, just not as explicit and unavoidable as this morning. He was a - what do they call it? A poof? That’s right. He was attracted to men. To cocks. Not to big breasts and soft curves, but to hard muscle and completely flat chests. More importantly, he was attracted to the hard muscle and a completely flat chest of his best friend Sirius, who, if he ever found out, would probably throw a disgusted fit and refuse to talk to him, ever. In short, Remus Lupin was a perverted werewolf.

A desperation like he’d never known, even at the hands of his curse, came over him and Remus found himself falling into that despicable pit of helplessness. There was nothing to be done. If anyone ever found out, he would be shunned. After all, who’d want to be around a perverted boy who wanted other boys? Being a werewolf was bad enough - the newly formed scars reminded him of it even now - but a gay one? He’d be forced to live as a hermit, at best.

And what about his family? Remus groaned as he imagined his mother’s face falling at the revelation that she would never have a daughter-in-law, or grandkids. Or a normal son. All his life, he’d imagined his future having some sort of family. Although, being a werewolf would probably have thwarted those plans, as well. But not being able to even comfort his mother with thoughts of any future girlfriends at all… It could not happen. He wouldn’t let it. He didn’t even want to imagine what his father would think if he brought home a…boyfriend.

“Hello, Mum, Dad! This is my boyfriend! Isn’t he lovely?”

Remus snorted at the idea. No. He would never cause such pain to his parents. They would never accept it, and he understood why. It was perverted, the whole idea. He was a boy. He wasn’t supposed to like other boys. He was supposed to like girls, girls like Violet Brown, or Lily Evans, or Anne Bones. NOT boys like…Sirius. Sirius, whose face was so…alive, as it never stopped grinning, or frowning, or pulling a face, or talking, or smiling. Sirius, whose body was fast growing into its height, filling out in the shoulders, chest, arms and legs. Sirius, who at the same time was the closest and most irritating friend he’d ever known. Sirius, who would go through hell and back, if needed, for any one of his friends without a second thought, and who was the one to come up with the idea of becoming Animagi in a state of frenzied inspiration in the first place.

However, all that did little to reassure Remus that, had he the courage to show his newfound…feelings…to Sirius, the other boy would not turn away in disgust.

Resolutely, Remus got up and began walking towards the castle, jaw set in determination. He would forget this whole bloody mess. He would go up to Violet tomorrow and ask her to come with him to the next Hogsmeade weekend. She was pretty, after all, even if a bit silly. He would make his parents and friends proud, and he would not be shunned by anybody. That was it - he would simply push every perverted thought out of his head and snog Violet, like he was supposed to. Maybe he was just mistaken, anyway. Just because no sight of a girl had ever really caused a hard-on, didn’t mean that it was impossible. Remus would become normal, even if it killed him.

He opened the large wooden door of Hogwarts castle, and briskly walked toward the staircase. He heard the door shut behind him with a heavy thud.

Part II: “Pinnacle”

Sirius knew that if there were Hell, should he die this instant, he would most surely end up there. And as the guest of honor, no less. If things were to go his way, they would have him frying on a very big stick, his balls hanging on a separate spear for him to look at for all of eternity.

He was a bastard. Stupid, no-good, abysmally idiotic bastard.

Whatever possessed him to blurt out the most senseless and ludicrous words of his life, he didn’t know. But they had come out. His mouth actually opened up and the words “Well, then, all you have to do, Severus, is poke that left knot on the tree with a large stick and you’ll be able to find out where he goes, you insufferable sneak,” escaped, their anger unmistakable. It was only after he realized that Snape had actually taken him up on the offer that the real meaning had sunk in. By that time, a frenzied James had already run off the Quidditch pitch, angrier that Sirius had ever seen him, and a very pissed off and petrified Snape was unceremoniously dragged off to safety. Sirius saw everything transpire through a very numb brain, events mixing up together and pinning down to one crucial and irrevocable fact - Remus would now want nothing to do with him - ever again.

Sirius couldn’t blame him one bit.

Not only was the most despicable person he knew at Hogwarts now privy to the fact that Remus was a werewolf, therefore holding Remus’ further education and acceptance overall in his slimy little hands, but Sirius had betrayed Remus. Betrayed Remus. The bloody most important person in his life, save for his parents and James.

Snape had caught him at a very bad time - Sirius had just been on his late way to Quidditch practice, broomstick and robes in hand, when a slimy voice called out from the shadows:

“And what’s got you in such a big rush, Black? Trying to make up for past mistakes and actually stay on your broom this time?” His voice dripped disdain. Sirius was sure he could almost see it. Turning around briefly, and not really planning on staying long in such company, Sirius threw back:

“I’m just planning on making a career out of embarrassing Slytherins in any way I can. Turns out, I can do that in Quidditch, among other places.”

“Oh, I don’t think so. Judging from last time, you can barely even hold onto a broomstick…” The last word was heavy with innuendo, almost choking Sirius with it. It was true, there was a moment when a Bludger had hit him so hard, James had to give him a hand so he could clamber back up onto his broom, but he hadn’t fallen off or anything. And something about Snape’s statement led him to believe that that wasn’t the incident he was referring to. So, he made it known:

“Just what in the hell are you talking about, Snape?”

“Hmmm, what am I talking about?” He pretended to think, corners of his mouth rising unattractively into something almost resembling a smile - a very greasy smile. “So, where’s the groupie? Doesn’t he like to watch his boyfriends riding broomsticks and throwing balls around?”

Sirius wanted to choke him to death. He wanted to take a very heavy Bludger and knock Snape senseless. The disgustingly put insinuations could only be taken one way - Snape was never one for true subtlety - and they hit too close to home for Sirius, though why he wasn’t going to think about. He growled and advanced on Snape, teeth barred, very much like Padfoot when some beast was on the verge of attacking in the Forbidden Forest. Snape’s smirk died down, and the menacing look in his eyes increased ten-fold:

“What? Got you pegged, Black? Is the famous trio doing it in the dead of night, perverts that you all are? Have you got Pettigrew involved, too, making him your little bitch? Or is that Lupin, after all? The little sick weakling, nose buried in books, hand up your -”

WHAM. Sirius’ practiced fist connected with Snape’s long nose, knocking the Slytherin backwards to the stone floor.

“You - leave - them - out of it!” he yelled, not really caring if a thousand Filches were to descend upon him right now, with a thousand detentions already written out and ready to be served. Snape had gone too far this time, and Sirius would be damned if he didn’t do anything about it. Still towering over Snape’s prone figure on the ground, he raged on:

“If you hate us all so bloody much, why follow us around? I’ve seen you - always in our way, always wanting to know just what we’re up to, sticking your large nose into business that isn’t yours!”

“Like I care what the hell you do!” Snape got his voice back and was shouting from the ground, nose bloody and lip cut. “The invincible little posse! You think nothing can touch you? Ha! Think again, Black - when we’re all out in a year and a half, your little pranks won’t do you any good! It takes brains to survive, and I’m afraid you’re out of luck!”

Sirius choked back a laugh. Snape, calling them stupid? Calling James stupid, calling Remus stupid? Now, that was amusing.

“You think you can outwit us, is that it? You think you’re somehow smarter than Remus? May I remind you who out-dueled you in one go the last time?” Sirius’ smirk grew wider at the memory. Remus was magnificent, making Snape fall to the floor before the other could even say “Expelliarmus!”

“Your Lupin is nothing but a walking book. And perhaps I can outwit all of you, after all, stealth is nothing if not useful. Just where the hell was Lupin going today, so dangerously close the Forbidden forest?”

Sirius blanched. Snape had been sneaking around.

“What the hell are you talking about?” He watched as Snape finally got himself off the ground and tried looking as dignified as he could with blood pouring out of his face.

“Lupin. The Whomping Willow. He was walking towards it today, about twenty minutes earlier. Dangerous place, that - you never know what you’ll find there…angry imps, unicorn-blood-sucking fiends, werewolves…” He looked at Sirius suggestively, and Sirius felt himself going dizzy. He knew. The bastard knew! His angry state didn’t allow Sirius to think further, all he wanted was Snape on the ground again, bleeding and not bloody talking. Which he was still doing.

“What, has he gone to meet a lover? A monster? A…Death Eater?”

Rage pounded in Sirius’ ears. How dare he?! How bloody dare that insufferable Slytherin make Remus out to be a bloody Death Eater?! Did he know he was a werewolf and therefore decide that since he was a Dark Creature he would turn to bloody You-Know-Who?!

And that’s when he said it. And that’s when he became worse than Snape. He had betrayed a friend who had trusted him throughout their entire friendship and now he had lost him.

After a sleepless night, full of horrific images of Snape being mauled to death by Remus, and Remus being sent away to be put down like a bloody fucking dog, or sent to Azkaban to live the rest of his life among Dementors, Sirius got dressed at dawn and made his way to the Hospital Wing. An enraged James had told him earlier that since Remus got so close to human flesh and never got to actually taste it, he most likely mauled himself half to death and if Sirius had any brains left in his head, he would leave him alone and instead go talk to Dumbledore who was waiting for him in his office. Sirius decided that he needed to see Remus. Maybe not talk to him, because that was possibly the worst thing he could think of at the moment, even the images from the restless night not being a competition, but at least see him. Alive. And still at Hogwarts.

When he had turned the corner that led to the Hospital Wing, Sirius saw that he was just in time to see a very pale Madam Pomfrey levitating a conjured stretcher that carried Remus. Sirius whimpered at the sight, and almost called out to his prone friend, but checked himself just in time.

Remus was a bloody mess. His eyes were closed, and his eyebrows were drawn together. He was moaning in pain, and his body looked like it could never be put together again. Gashes ran up and down his arms, huge claw marks visible even from where Sirius was standing. His torso, half covered by a bloodied-up white sheet, was crisscrossed with newly formed scars, not yet healed, blood congealing in russet tracks. Without noticing Sirius, Madam Pomfrey opened the door to the Hospital Wing with her wand and carefully let the stretcher pass, murmuring words of comfort to Remus, who didn’t seem to hear her at all. The door shut behind them.

Abruptly, Sirius turned and ran. Halfway down the staircase, he heard a calm voice behind him that made his blood stop in its tracks.

“Mr. Black, would you kindly step into my office, please?”

Sirius didn’t know what was worse - the fact that he hadn’t even gotten a detention or the fact that he hadn’t been thrown out of Hogwarts on the spot, because he did not deserve to stay like nothing had happened. He had never seen Dumbledore this angry and calm at the same time before. Apparently, the Headmaster had managed to convince Snape not to reveal what he had seen at the end of the tunnel of the Whomping Willow, but it was a close call and Remus had been very near the end of his wizarding career. All thanks to Sirius and his apparent lack of brains. Perhaps Snape was right after all.

Head bowed, Sirius left the office and climbed back up to the tower. James was sitting in the Common Room, silent and pale and very distant. He didn’t look up when Sirius entered, or when he settled himself into a chair right next to him. A very long and painful silence ensued.

“I just want to know one thing, Sirius - what the hell were you thinking?” James had finally interrupted the silence and looked Sirius straight in the eye. Sirius answered the gaze, then lowered his eyes and said:

“God, he was being such a bastard… He… He insinuated that Remus was a…a…Death Eater… And -”

“So?” James’ voice was cold.

“And I lost it!”


“He also made it sound like he knew, James, I thought he knew!”

“How in the world could he have known, Sirius?!” James was on the verge of blowing up again.

“He sneaks around, he saw Remus go up to the Willow!”

“Doesn’t mean shit, Sirius, now you listen to me. Remus doesn’t know who did this and you are bloody well going and telling him. Not now,” he yanked Sirius hard down by the wrist as he made a move to leave. “He needs rest, Sirius, he almost killed himself last night. But you will tell him. And right now, go someplace else, I don’t want to see you.”

Sirius blanched and groped for balance. This was James telling him he didn’t want to see him. This couldn’t have been happening. Not James, please, not - James. If this was James’ reaction, then what could he expect from Remus? Yes, he bloody well screwed up, but he hadn’t meant to! He wasn’t evil! You had only betrayed your best friend in the worst way possible, that’s all, said a nagging voice in the back of his head, and Sirius sighed. He staggered out of the chair and made to walk through the portrait hole. Just as he was leaving, he realized that he had almost killed James, too.



Sirius poked his head through the curtains to see Remus lying awake, unblinking eyes staring at the ceiling. Upon hearing Sirius’ voice, he turned his head slowly, and tried smiling. His strength seemed to leave him, though, and the corners of his strong mouth turned down. Clearing his throat, Remus winced and finally choked out:

“Sirius… What are you doing here?” His voice sounded gentle, even through the hoarseness. Sirius welcomed the sound, as he hadn’t heard anything even remotely nice since before he met up with Snape in that damned hallway. It wouldn’t last.

“I… I came to see how you’re feeling, Moony,” he answered, smiling in return and trying to appear at least a little normal. He sat down on the edge of Remus’ bed, looking at his friend intently. Remus’ face was covered in scars, too, though they seemed to be disappearing, probably under the careful ministrations of Madam Pomfrey and her time-release spells. He was pale as could be, veins visible through the thin skin, making his face appear near dead. Hazel eyes looked exhausted and were highlighted by the deep shadows that had settled underneath them. Balling his hands into tight fists, Sirius made himself speak:

“D’you remember…anything…from last night, Remus?”

“Well…” Remus closed his eyes briefly. “I remember someone being there… The three of you weren’t there, it was a human smell… I know that you were at Quidditch practice and Peter was serving his detention, so… Why?” All of a sudden a realization seemed to hit him, and Remus looked up at Sirius with frightened eyes. “What happened? I only remember wanting to, well…maul whoever was there, but then they disappeared and I turned on myself… Why, Sirius, what happened, tell me, please!” Remus’s voice became urgent and he tried sitting up, his strength failing him. Sirius made a move to calm him down, and restrained the hands that were threatening to break under the pressure. They were cold, yet felt alive and were trembling in his own. Sirius squeezed them.

“Calm down, Remus, nothing terrible, lay back down, please…” He coerced Remus back into the pillow and the boy obeyed silently, exhaustion getting the better of him. “I need to…tell you something, though.” He sighed, dropping Remus’ hands and briefly noticing the emptiness where they had been a moment before. Still looking at the scarred hands that lay motionless on the white sheet, almost mingling in shade, Sirius took a deep breath.

“What is it, Padfoot?”

Sirius almost choked a sob at the concern in that voice. He didn’t deserve it. And now Remus would find out why.

“I…I am so sorry, Remus, but… You see, the person that you smelled was Snape. He knows about you…now.” He took a chance and looked up at Remus. The eyes that he met were filled with more terror than he had ever seen there. Remus looked like a caged animal, trapped and tortured.

“H-how… Oh, God, Sirius, how did he…how did he know? Where is he now? What happened?!”

“He saw you walking towards the Willow, and then I met him in a hallway on my way to practice… He told me he had seen you… He…he said some awful things, and I…I got mad, Remus, I got so mad I wasn’t thinking!..” Here came the part that Sirius couldn’t put his mouth around. He looked at Remus again, noting the paleness, the terror and hating himself for being single-handedly responsible for all of it. He had to tell him. “I… I told him how to get past the Willow, Remus, I am so sorry, please forgive me…” He hung his head low, not knowing what to do now that it was done, and it felt like all his energy had left him along with those words. Remus wasn’t speaking. A silence descended so terrible, Sirius thought he might break under its pressure. For a long time, he could scarce hear himself breathing. Then, out of his periphery, he saw a pale hand draw back convulsively, trembling so hard that it looked like Remus had gone into a seizure. Finally making his eyes meet Remus’, Siri! us almost whimpered. Closed-off and cold, the hazel eyes bore into his. Remus had never looked angrier or more hurt. They looked at each other for a long time, and Sirius felt the blood in his ears pound hard and fast. Any minute now it would explode.

“Get out, Sirius.”

“Moon -”

“No. My name is Remus Lupin, I’m a werewolf, and I don’t ever want to see you again. Leave me alone.”

“Oh, God, Remus, please understand! I didn’t mean t -”

“I don’t care. You told Snape how to find me in my wolf form and you used me. I don’t want to see you here, ever again, get the hell out, Sirius.” Remus started to turn away, and it was clear that every movement was causing him acute pain. Sirius numbly made a move to help him, but Remus scowled and gnarled and finally turned away. It didn’t even look like he was breathing.

Sirius knew that he had to leave. He knew that Remus would never forgive him. He knew all this, and yet he stayed because he couldn’t make his feet move. They were like lead, heavy and solid, unmoving. His mouth worked, and words streamed out of it, but they all fell on deaf ears.

“Remus, Remus, please, please, please forgive me, I am so sorry, I didn’t mean, please, he provoked me, I know that’s not an excuse, but it’s sort of a reason, and I will never do anything like this again, please, for love of God, Remus, forgive me, forgive me, forgive me…”

What seemed like hours later, when Sirius finally willed his body to move, he left the Hospital Wing. Blindly, he walked down the staircase. He crossed the entrance of the castle. He opened the heavy door. He walked across the grounds. He came up to the lake. It was black and heavy, like liquefied tar.

It felt like everything in his body had shut down, and the door to his brain had been sealed shut. Sirius couldn’t make himself feel anything, think anything, he just was. Numb and blind and mute.

He had lost him.

Through the terrible salvation of the numbness one thought kept poking its way out. He had lost him. He had lost him before he even had him. Now was not the time to hide anything - he was exposed to the world and himself as something vile and hideous. And there was no getting around the fact that Snape was right about another thing. Sirius was in love with Remus. Hell, he had been for ages, carefully concealing his frightening feelings from everyone in the whole world, including himself. And now - now there was not a damn thing he could do about it.

He just hoped that the spears in Hell were sharp enough.

Part III: “Deliverance”

Remus blinked and came back to reality. The piece of parchment that lay in front of him was still blank, save for the words “Remus Lupin” scrawled across the top corner. The essay was supposed to have been a foot long, and he hadn’t even written an inch. A word would have been nice…

Rubbing the side of his face and wincing, Remus looked out the dusty window of the library. Through the ancient glass, its sides decorated in a myriad inconspicuous spider webs, he saw the sun begin to set. It was getting redder as it inched closer to the horizon, and the sky was very slowly turning pink underneath it. It was a new moon, tonight. He should have been feeling invigorated - this time of the month was always the best. For just one night, he could pretend that the moon didn’t even exist, and he was only controlled by his own impulses and thoughts. He could pretend that one night out of every month his body didn’t want to lash out and kill others - or itself. He could pretend that his mind didn’t submit to mere instinct and no thought, and that the instinct was not to maim and kill. It was funny how one night was more important than the other, even though equal time was devoted to both. The wolf always did win, in the end.

Rolling up the useless piece of parchment, and submitting himself to a night of frantic writing the next day, Remus put everything back in his bag. Briefly, he glanced at a shadowed figure, positioned inconspicuously on the opposite side of the library - hair hanging in the wind-blown face, eyes downcast, hand pretending to write - and, as usual, walked out.

It was like that every night.

Ever since the… incident, Sirius had taken to following Remus - not quite like a puppy, but close. Like a rejected pet, he looked for a way to walk unnoticed, yet furiously loyal. Remus really wished he didn’t. There was something very wrong about a rejected Sirius, and as angry as Remus was, it disturbed him. This wasn’t Sirius. This was someone else; someone else who was pretending to be Sirius - pulling pranks, laughing with James, flirting with girls, winning in Quidditch. But the core of Sirius was gone. Subdued? Or shattered?

Remus didn’t know. For a long time, he didn’t particularly care. All he cared about was that splinter that had settled itself somewhere deep inside his gut and whined with pain every time his mind came back to that horrible night in January. Sirius had used him. He had wanted to get back at Snape for something the stupid boy had said, and almost killed him by sending the Slytherin to meet a fully-grown werewolf, ready to leash out and kill on contact. Remus shuddered at the thought. He could have had blood on his hands. If James hadn’t made it, if he hadn’t stopped the nosy bastard, Remus would have become a murderer - and for that one night, he would have loved every minute of it. That was a horrifying thought.

When Sirius confessed to him the morning after, Remus just didn’t understand at first. What was Sirius saying? That he had sent someone in for Remus to kill? That he had confessed the most guarded secret he - they all - had, to a sworn enemy? That couldn’t be. Not Sirius. Anyone but Sirius. It hurt too damn much to know that he probably didn’t even pause in sending Snape in for Remus to murder.

Sirius… Before the incident, Remus had grown quite used to living a sheltered, albeit rather unsatisfactory, life. He buried his feelings so deep inside his mind, that there were times when he could almost convince himself that it meant nothing. The thought didn’t bring much pleasure, but it did bring shallow equilibrium, and that was something, at least. He had even tried his hand at dating girls - a realm of long swishy hair, giggly voices and batting eyelashes. The realm wasn’t particularly interesting. Violet was a sweet girl, and for some strange reason even seemed to enjoy his company back in fifth year, but it just didn’t feel right. Kissing her was wet and usual - an experience, to be sure, but not an extremely pleasant one. Even being a teenage boy, and therefore practically a hormone on legs, Remus couldn’t get a hard-on even if he tried, knowing it was her he was kissing.

They were still good friends.

When Sirius had told him what he’d done, something stirred in Remus and his mind brought back an image, long ago hidden, but never truly forgotten. An image of a growing fourteen year old boy, sweating in his sleep and kicking the blankets off the bed to cool down his over-heated body. And that was when the real pain had set in. Remus was in love with a traitor.

He looked at Sirius then, pale, drawn, eyes hollow and full of something, he didn’t know what, and for the first time in his life Remus wanted to hurt him. He wanted to cry out and hit Sirius, hit him for what he had done, because he had destroyed something that never even got a chance to be built. He wanted to hit him because he loved him so damn much, it was impossible to say where the love began and the anger ended. When Sirius reached out to him, Remus flinched, afraid to make even the smallest of contacts, because that person that had previously been the most trusted of friends and brothers, had become someone else entirely. And yet Remus loved him even more. It was absurd, it didn’t make sense, and he hated Sirius for it.

While recovering from the bloody night, Remus had plenty of time to think things over. He knew that what Sirius had done could not be forgiven easily. Maybe it was petty, maybe a bigger, more generous person would have, but not him. Sirius had done too much damage.

Forgiving Sirius could mean admitting his feelings fully, perhaps even to others, and Remus simply couldn’t do it. He had settled himself into a quiet life, and no one would disrupt it. He was considered normal - and he would act that way. After all, love - what was it, anyway? If love was not even being able to hate the person who possibly deserved it properly, then he didn’t want to be a part of it. He could take his feelings for Sirius in stride, and not give them much thought. Love hurt - it wasn’t the happiness that everybody seemed to think it.

And he really hated the fact that for the past four months he couldn’t get Sirius out of his mind at all.

Remus avoided him as much as was possible - he stayed out late, hiding in the library, or in secret rooms the four of them had discovered throughout the years. He ate either earlier or later than Sirius, and talked to him only out of necessity. But Sirius was always there, in his periphery, or even out in the open, offering a quill if his had broken, a knife if his had fallen on the floor, or class notes if he had been too tired after the full moon to make it to class. He begged Remus for the first couple of weeks, over and over, to forgive, to give him a second chance, but Remus couldn’t do it. He never looked Sirius in the eye, because he was afraid of the reflection. He never forgave him.

Padfoot never joined them again on full moons.

~ * ~

“So, Moony, you excited?” asked James, lying on his bed while practicing twisting his wand with his middle and index fingers.

“About what?” Remus looked up from his homework quizzically.

“The holidays! Only two weeks left, mate! Then - it’s freedom for the whole summer…” James looked out the window wistfully, probably already seeing himself flying about his back yard, throwing apples for Quaffles.

“I suppose…”

“Not excited then, eh?” James looked at him and Remus knew he understood. Without schoolwork to bury himself in, Remus will have even more time for impractical brooding, and the tension between himself and Sirius was not even close to getting resolved. Where Sirius was at the moment, Remus didn’t know, but he did wonder. And he hated that. “You know, Remus,” James grew very serious as he sat up and faced him fully from his bed. “This is none of my business, I know - and you have every right to be angry with him, but he’s my best mate, so just…hear me out, all right?”

Remus shifted uncomfortably on his bed, but decided that James had a right to say what was on his mind. And he had known Sirius for longer than Remus had, therefore had every right to protect him, as well.

“All right…”

"What he did was stupid, I know. It was thoughtless, he nearly killed the lot of us, and that’s not something you can easily forgive. But Moony…” James looked at him almost imploringly from behind his specs, “He loves you.” Remus flinched. He hated how that word could be taken so out of context in his head. He needed to get a grip on himself. “I’m not so sure, James - ”

“I am! He cares about you as much as he cares about any of us - and that’s saying something. He’s a stupid git, but I love him and I know that he means well. He’s not been himself since then, Remus, you see that, don’t you? Maybe…maybe you could try and… Ah, hell, I don’t know…” James sagged into the headboard, and looked out the window. “I just hate to see him like this,” he added quietly.

Remus looked at him. For a very long time, he just looked, looked and considered James - the way his eyes seemed to turn inward when he stared off into space like that, or the way his fingers drummed on the narrow smooth surface of the mahogany wand.

Remus was tired. He leaned back into his propped-up pillow and, looking out the window, spoke:

“James, are you in love with Lily?”

“Mmm? Why?” He sounded puzzled.

“Are you?” Still not looking.

“Yes, actually, I think I am… She’s…she’s everywhere, you know? She’s… something…” Remus could hear the smile in James’ voice without even looking.

“How would you feel if she betrayed your being an Animagus to someone you despised?”

“Well… I suppose I would… wait, what..?”

Remus could almost hear the gears turning. He kept looking out the window, unmoving.

“Remus, did you just - ”

Remus heard the bed creak and James’ footsteps approach hastily. Out of his periphery, he saw the dark-haired boy sit down a foot away from him on the bed. “Are you… Are you in love with him, Moony?”

Remus turned his face towards his friend’s.

“You are..! Shit, Moony, of course…” James raked a distracted hand through his hair, making it stand even more on end. Of course?

“Why of course?”

“Well, it seems obvious now, somehow.” James shrugged and looked at him keenly. “How long?”

Remus let out a long breath.


“God… Why didn’t you ever…why didn’t you say anything?”

“Well, it isn’t something you’d want to admit, now, is it? It’s not exactly welcome… How do you come up to someone and tell them that you’re homosexual?”

James hung his head. He began picking at the nonexistent lint on Remus’ bedcover.

“Remus, are you ashamed?” he finally asked, looking up.

“Of course I am…” What a question. “It’s not…normal, is it? I tried to be… It just didn’t work.” He looked away again, cheeks burning.

“Remus, listen to me. You’re fine. You’re normal. Why are you thinking that?”

Remus hitched his breath. What was James on about?

“How am I normal? I’m in love with a bloke, James.”

“So? So is Lily, you don’t hear me complaining.” This was totally illogical. James was crazy, he had to be.

“Lily is a girl, James.”

“Yeah, I’d noticed that bit.” James’ tone was actually teasing. Surely, this wasn’t real.

“Meaning, she’s supposed to like men…”

“Why do you suppose she likes men, Moony?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, why do you think she does?”

“Because… because men are… Prongs, what are you trying to do to me?” Remus moaned, rubbing his face with both hands. His head was swimming with relief and apprehension.

“Just follow me here, Moony. You see,” James began using his hands a lot, which he did whenever he was sure that he was about to solve a very difficult problem. The last time Remus had seen those hands this crazy was the night before the Animagus spell was perfected. “Lily is attracted to men because, say, they’re tall. Their bodies generally have broad shoulders, they’re strong, sturdy… Hell, I don’t know, a lot of things. Maybe she likes their faces - or facial hair. The point is, she could as easily have been attracted to softer features, less angles and more curves. Even breasts.” James stopped to draw breath and looked at Remus, who knew that his face probably hadn’t looked this confused since the first transfiguration lecture. “And you are not attracted to curves. So what, you’re attracted to broad shoulders. You may not find women’s bodies as interesting, or as sexy. So what? We all have these chances, I think, and no matter who you’re attracted to, as long as it’s, y! ou know, a person, hopefully non-related to you in any way, you’re normal. And, to tell you the truth, being attracted to Sirius Black is about as normal as one gets,” he grinned. “Of course…” He turned serious once again. “It’s not just the physical attraction, is it?”

Remus had to shake his head briefly from still trying to comprehend James’ tirade. He cleared his throat.

“No, of course not… It’s…Sirius. It’s all of him.”

“Yes. Indeed.” James reached out and lightly poked Remus in the shoulder. “Moony, listen. You can’t keep doing this to yourself forever. Your feelings are not going to go away in a hurry, because if I know you… Well, you’re a constant person. Talk to him. He can’t do much more than he’s already done. At least forgiving him will take some weight off your shoulders. And I can tell you, he’s never doing anything like this ever again. I’ve never seen Sirius eat so little - and the boy can eat a hippogriff if he’s hungry. This is something he’s learned for life, I think.”

Remus so desperately wanted to believe him. He wanted to clutch at that last straw that James had extended to him like a lifeline. He had already forgiven Sirius a million times. He had condemned him again a million minus one. Suddenly, it seemed ridiculous not to talk to him. He never did find out what made Sirius so angry that he had become blind to secrets, and perhaps he needed to. He wanted him back. There were questions to be asked, and answers to be heard, and maybe - maybe - that trust could find its way back to them.

He had to find Sirius.

~ * ~

Having looked at the map, Remus knew that Sirius wasn’t on Hogwarts grounds. He must have snuck out again - Sirius had this habit of slipping off somewhere and coming back with a huge grin and hands full of butterbeer, sweets and sometimes even forbidden “literature”. Obviously, only the Marauders knew how he was doing it. However, he hadn’t snuck out in a long time now, and Remus wondered where exactly he’d gone.

Deciding to wait for him in the comfort of fresh air, Remus sat under an old oak tree outside the castle. The lake was quiet, along with the sunset. The waning moon was slowly making its way up, and the sky stood frozen in mid-greeting. A swirl of tiny bugs flashed in front of Remus’ face, and he brushed it away with an impatient hand. Summer was close now.

Hearing distant rustling behind him, Remus whipped around and saw a dark figure slowly emerge from the Whomping Willow. What the..?

Starting to walk towards it, Remus realized that the figure was staggering, swaying this way and that. It was slowly making its way towards the castle, and with a start, Remus recognized it. It was Sirius. Looking even closer, he realized that it was a very inebriated Sirius.

“Padfoot…” He didn’t even take the time to consider the forgotten nickname as he ran to Sirius’ side, leading the drunken boy towards a side entrance of the castle as quickly as possible. It wouldn’t do to have anyone see Sirius in this state, and they had a rather good chance of meeting Filch if they used the main doors.

Sirius was heavy as he leaned against him. Remus held him up well enough as he walked them up the staircase towards the tower, but it was a bit of a strain. Both were silent at first. Then Sirius turned his head and seemed to notice for the first time who was propping him up, as well as whose arm was holding him around the waist.

“Moon- Remus… What are you doing?” He spluttered lightly, but sounded surprisingly sober.

“Helping you, you prat… What were you thinking…” It was more of a statement than question, really, one he didn’t expect a response to.

“’M walking… Aren’t I?..” So, maybe not so sober. “Here, lemme go, I can do this…” Sirius tried pushing himself away from Remus, but it took a mere step for him to realize that perhaps the wall couldn’t support him as well, since, unlike Remus, it wasn’t moving. Remus sighed, and heaved Sirius’ frame against his own once again. Coloring, he suddenly realized how very close Sirius was - close enough for Remus to feel the alcohol on his breath, and for the long black hair to tickle his cheeks and even get into his panting mouth. Sirius’ waist was taut and hard. Remus really wished they’d get up the stairs soon. He was running a chance of letting Sirius fall due to the strange light sensation in his fingers. Inadvertently gripping the body in his arms harder, he took the final few steps and steered Sirius towards the Fat Lady.

“Gobbledegook,” he panted and the portrait of a very disapproving Fat Lady swung open to admit them. Bypassing any trouble due to a thankfully empty common room, the pair trudged up the stairs to the boys’ dormitory. Sirius was silent the whole time, seemingly making an effort at being as invisible as was possible, considering he was practically being carried by Remus.

Remus opened the door and quickly shut it behind them with a free hand. He noticed it shaking.

“What the - !” James saw the pair of them and flew out of his bed. “Remus, what the hell happened?!”

“What do you think?” He heaved a still silent Sirius onto the nearest bed and straightened up, wincing. “He’s pissed. Saw him walking out of the Willow…” He looked down at Sirius. The black head was hung low, hair hiding the face, hands shaking in his lap.

“Remus, I’m sorry…” Sirius finally mumbled. “Guess I’m not good for anything, huh?” The last words were spoken quietly, but Remus felt them all too well. Looking at James, he met understanding.

“I’ll leave you two alone. I’ll make sure Wormtail stays away, too. Take your time.” He gave Sirius a last concerned look, and left the room, locking the door behind him.

Remus turned towards Sirius once again. Except for the slight trembling, he was perfectly still. Remus could hear his breathing coming in harshly. Sighing, he sat down in front of the drunken boy to get a better look at his half-hidden face. He saw tightly shut lips and eyes, as if Sirius was trying to keep the world away.

“Sirius, are you all right?” Remus asked quietly, not sure what to do. Sirius had never been really drunk before, and Remus had no idea what should be done in such cases. Suddenly, Sirius leapt up and almost knocked Remus over as he ran towards the bathroom. He threw open the door, and a few seconds later Remus heard the unmistakable sound of throwing up. It sounded as if he’d made it to the toilet. Getting up, Remus followed Sirius.

He was hunched over the toilet bowl, hands clasping its sides and back heaving convulsively as he retched. The sounds he was making were so miserable, that Remus could do nothing else but fall down on his knees beside him and run his hand over the tense back. The fabric was slightly scratchy, and the dry air made a few sparks rise out of the contact. Remus jumped, but didn’t pull away. Sirius moaned miserably and sat back, briefly pushing on the handle of the toilet.

“Do you think you’re done?” Remus asked, peering at his face.

“Yeah… I think so,” Sirius nodded, his voice raspy. Remus continued to soothe his back.

“D’you need anything? Water, maybe?” he asked, looking at Sirius and rather grateful to him for not making eye contact. It was somehow easier this way. Sirius nodded almost imperceptibly, and Remus got up to fetch a glass. Briefly, he noted the hot emptiness where Sirius’ back had been against his palm.

“Remus…” Sirius called from the floor, his voice hoarse and subdued. “I’m sorry… for this. For being stupid, for everything… I’m just…really sorry.”

Remus’ hand stopped in mid-air as the water overran the edges of the glass. He had heard those words before, but he hadn’t ever answered them. He was prepared to answer them now, and it scared him. Four months of blind fury, quiet rage and stupefying helplessness. It all now rested in his own hands, and he cradled it quietly, trying not to burst out and scream the words that he knew Sirius needed to hear at the top of his lungs. He longed to say them. He needed to calm down enough to actually do it.

Finally turning off the tap, Remus poured some unnecessary water out of the glass and turned to Sirius. He was looking up at him, his legs at odd angles on the floor, broad hands squeezing his knees. And suddenly, Remus didn’t need any explanations. He didn’t care what Snape had said. He didn’t care how Sirius had answered. He knew.

Slowly walking over to Sirius, Remus held the glass in his shaking hand and never once broke eye contact. He lowered himself to the floor next to Sirius and handed him the water:

“Here…drink this, it’ll help.”

Sirius took the glass without another word, gulping the water down mindlessly.

“I forgive you.” The words had come out with no preparation, and Remus hitched his breath. Sirius’ eyes shot up to meet his, and the glass slipped out of his hand, clattering to the floor and spilling the water onto both of them. Remus had the feeling that Sirius hadn’t really noticed. He didn’t particularly give a damn himself. Sirius’s pale blue eyes were staring at him, wide and uncertain. Then suddenly strong arms were enveloping Remus, squeezing his body, hands roughly running over his back, hot breath hitching against his exposed neck.

“Oh, God, Remus…” The sound was muffled, but Remus was sure he must have heard a sob. It was maddening. Before he could stop himself, he put his hands around Sirius’ shaking torso, and clutched at it desperately. He had never been this close to Sirius before, and it was making him light-headed. The defined back was heaving under his fingers and he felt compelled to caress it. There…he had moved one hand up and down, slowly, and the same sparks flew out. He squeezed harder. He felt Sirius fingers doing the same to his back and he hid his face in Sirius’ warm neck. It was soft, yet taut, and smelled faintly of the forest. It smelled like home. He breathed it in more, burrowing his nose deeper and deeper, until it seemed buried in the nook of neck and shoulder. He felt Sirius still in his arms and froze. What had he done?..

Blushing furiously, Remus pulled away quickly and turned his face away from Sirius’s. He didn’t know how he could have let himself go like that, but it was the most mortifying feeling in the world. Through the blood pounding in his ears, he dimly became aware of Sirius’s hands squeezing his upper arms, and a familiar voice calling out his name. The embarrassment subsided a little, and he turned back to Sirius, still not being able to meet his eyes. Yet Sirius was still holding him. He wasn’t mad.

“Remus… Look at me. Please, look at me.” His voice sounded urgent and Remus obeyed. Sirius’s eyes held no trace of the alcohol he had put into his system a short time back, and they were fixed on Remus’s. Remus had never seen Sirius - or anyone, for that matter - look at him so intensely, and it made his insides burn. It was a very odd sensation. The whites of the pale blue eyes were blood-shot, and Remus realized that the sob he had heard was real. “Remus, I… I…” Sirius seemed to be struggling for words, and Remus finally found his voice:

“You don’t have to say anything, Padfoot. I… I think I understand… We need to get you to bed, you must re -”

“No, no, I don’t care, I’m fine…”

“Siri -”

“I love you.”

Something strange had happened to Remus’ throat - it had gone inexplicably dry. All the liquids had drained away and he felt parched. His heart sped up - it felt almost as if it would burst through his ribcage and leave his body entirely. Stomach lurching and twisting, Remus tried to think. He found that he couldn’t. He could really only stare at Sirius, and try to put the three words together into something he could understand.

“And before you think anything else, yes, I do love you as a brother -”

Remus’ heart stopped hammering and dropped down into his toes.

“But it’s more than that… Remus, I…I’m in love with you.”

The strong hands were still holding his arms, and Remus was grateful for it - he wouldn’t have been able to hold himself up properly. What was happening? This was impossible. Sirius couldn’t love him, it was absurd… He had always dated girls, there was never any indication…

“Remus, for the love of God, please say something, I c-can’t… God, I’m sorry, I shoudn’t have…” Sirius’ hands finally released him and dropped to the sides of their owner. “Forget I said any -”

“No!” Remus’ voice returned to him in full force. “No, Sirius, I’m sorry… I just… You have no idea…” He raked a hand through his hair, trying to find the same words Sirius had said to him just moments earlier and failing.

“No, I think I do… Forget it, Remus, really, it’s fine, don’t worry ab -”

“Sirius, shut up, I love you, too...” His cheeks burned and his fingers felt a million tiny pinpricks. “I love you, too.” He said it again, quietly, just to make sure he was really saying those words. He looked back at him. Sirius held his head in his hands, and a dry sob escaped his muffled lips. Remus unconsciously reached out and pulled the hands away and held them in his. He looked at them in wonder. They were trembling and he wanted that to stop. He pushed his fingers in between Sirius’s and squeezed, just to make sure they were still there. They were. And they were solid.

“Remus…” Sirius’ voice broke slightly and Remus smiled at him. This was easy. Holding Sirius’s hands like that, their palms pressing into one another, fingers shaking and squeezing, it was perfectly easy.

“Come, Padfoot,” Remus tugged on the hands in his, and slowly heaved himself up. Sirius followed. Remus led them out into the room, still holding one of Sirius’s hands and numbly walked towards his bed. They sat down wordlessly, both looking at their joined hands.

“Remus… Can I- Can I have a mint?” Sirius blurted out and Remus looked up at him confused.


“A mint…of some kind… It’s not very pleasant after you’re sick…”

“Oh… right…” Remus tried not to think about the other possible reason Sirius had asked for a mint and reached for his drawer. Throwing out a few different kinds, he handed one to Sirius who took it and popped it instantly into his mouth.


“Not at all…” Remus answered vaguely, still trying to comprehend what was happening.

“Remus..?” Sirius sounded almost shy, like he had never sounded before. It was very strange.


“I never meant to hurt you… With Snape… I didn’t think, and had I actually thought… anything… I wouldn’t have… I know that you won’t be able to trust me anymore aft -”

“I do trust you… I believe you.” This time it was he who was trying to catch Sirius’s eye. “I know you didn’t do it on purpose… Just…don’t ever do it again…”

Sirius nodded and finally met his eye. Remus could have sworn that the air around them changed. It was prickling at the back of his neck, and even though he knew what was going to happen next, he still couldn’t quite believe it. Something was swallowing him up whole, he couldn’t get back to the surface, and the strangest thing of all was that he didn’t want to. Whatever it was that had engulfed him was warm, smooth and strangely familiar. He looked on as Sirius’ face inched closer to his and waited, not breathing. Then he realized that Sirius was moving much too slowly, so he leaned in, as well, wanting to meet him as soon as possible. His eyes flickered towards Sirius’s lips and his breath hitched as he realized that they were parted. They were strong, pale and smooth. Sirius’s breath smelled of mint now, and Remus felt it mingling with his own the moment before their lips met. Their noses brushed slightly, and then Sirius tilted his head as he pressed his parted lips fully! into Remus’s. Remus gasped despite himself, and his eyes closed of their own accord. He shuddered in relief. Moaning, Sirius deepened the kiss and their tongues met instinctively, trying each other out and then caressing languidly. The taste of mint and Sirius addled Remus’s senses. With his free hand, he reached up and hesitantly touched the slightly rough hollow of Sirius’ cheek. It felt good against his touch, and he cupped it more firmly. He felt Sirius’ long fingers brush through his hair.

They fit. They fit together perfectly, the way two people were supposed to.

Breaking off the kiss, Sirius didn’t let go of him right away. Foreheads pressed together, they didn’t move, as if scared that they would frighten the moment away. Remus felt his chest heaving and collapsing rapidly, while his heartbeat slowly began to return to normal. It felt beyond anything he had ever felt before. Even the simple handholding was electric.

“Remus… Moony,” Sirius whispered. Remus opened his eyes and pulled away slightly, to get a better look. The sun had almost set, and the twilight was making Sirius’s hair pale blue, his features accentuated in the half-dark. He was smiling.

“Padfoot…” Any other word would have broken the spell. He pressed his forehead to Sirius’s once again.

“I want t-to… be with you. Be with me?” Sirius whispered again, as if not wanting to disrupt the pale darkness. Once more, blood pounded in Remus’s ears and he had to stop and collect his scattered thoughts. If he were to be with Sirius, people would… But then, he would get to feel this again… He never wanted to stop feeling that, whatever it was, and he knew that with no one else would he feel it. Hadn’t he wanted to feel this, that whole time? Sirius loved him… What was it that James said about being “normal”..?

“Yes.” He nodded, closing his eyes. “Yes, I’ll be with you.” And a hot wave washed over and through him as Sirius pressed him to his chest and fastened his warm lips on his.

Oh, yes. They would be all right.


“Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.”

- excerpt from W.H. Auden's "The More Loving One"

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