Remus woke up to the feeling of fur tickling his nose, which was not something he was particularly accustomed to. For a second he wondered if he hand managed to kill some sort of animal that found its way into the shack the night before, but then he remembered...
Opening his eyes slowly, he realized that he was resting his head on a giant, bear-like black dog who was panting heavily. He smiled and reached up with one hand to scratch the dog's belly.
"Hi Padfoot." He croaked. The dog yipped as quietly as he could and licked his face. His body ached, but significantly less than usual, and in his still half asleep state he was pretty sure he hasn't managed to rip himself apart as he normally did. He yawned and felt the dog's wet nose nuzzle his shoulder comfortingly. "Thank you..." He muttered, and he slipped back into sleep.
"Sirius," The dog whined softly in protest as James knelt beside him. "Padfoot, we have to go."
Again the dog whimpered, looking up at James and then back to the sleeping boy he was curled protectively around. Stay. My Moony. Keep safe.
"I know you don't want to leave him Pads, but we have to go. The sun's up, Pomfrey will be here soon."
With one last look at Remus, and trying as best he could not to wake him, Padfoot slipped out from under him and transformed back into Sirius. In human form, he wore the same painfully sad expression as he stared at the frail boy on the floor.
Peter cleared his throat. "Why don't we move him to the bed, yeah?"
James and Sirius looked at each other and back down at Remus. James looked uneasy. "Think we should? I Don't want to hurt him..."
"We can't leave him here like this." Sirius' eyes were filled with something desperate and James knew he wouldn't be able to get him out of the shack without doing something more for their friend.
With a sigh, James nodded. "Alright, fine." He saw relief wash over Sirius' face. They both got down next to Remus and Sirius gently shook his shoulder.
"Hmm...S'rius?" He mumbled, not quite awake.
"Yeah, Moons...Listen, James and I are going to help you to the bed, alright?" Again, James gave him an uncertain look, but Sirius was insistent. "D'you think you can stand if we help you?"
"Mmhmm..." Remus nodded, eyes still closed. The two of them carefully got his arms over their shoulders and helped him up. Sirius never realized how light Remus was, considering how tall and lanky the boy had gotten he was very easily carried.
Peter had already pulled the thread bare blanket back on the bed. It wouldn't keep Remus warm enough for Sirius' liking, but it was still better than leaving him on the floor. Once they got him situated James grabbed the invisibility cloak. He looked back to see Sirius still standing by the bed, staring.
"He's okay now, Padfoot." Said Peter. "We really have to go."
Sirius nodded, finally looking away and crossed the room to his other two friends. James threw the cloak on over them and they left the shack.
None of them spoke on the way back to the castle, nor on their way up to Gryffindor tower, but every once in a while James glanced over to Sirius who still looked lost in his own head. When they were safely standing in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady, James took off the cloak and gave the password.
The Fat lady yawned and looked down at them. "It's a bit early for you lads, isn't it?"
"Late, actually." Peter corrected. "We're just getting in."
She clicked her tongue in disapproval, but swung open and allowed them through. As they entered the common room, their adrenaline finally died and exhaustion hit them like a ton of bricks. The stairs to the dorm room felt like climbing a mountain and they all groaned as they reached the top.
"We did it." Said Peter in awe as he stared at the canopy of his bed. "We actually did it."
James took his glasses off and set them on the table by his bunk, rubbing his eyes. "We did. And it was fucking brilliant."
It didn't take long before the sound of Peter's snores filled the room. James turned onto his side facing Sirius' bed. He had to squint, but he could see his best friend lying wide awake.
"You're in love with him, aren't you?"
Sirius' head snapped to the side. "What?"
"With Moony." James said quietly. He propped himself up on his elbow. "You've always been."
He could see the slightly blurred image of his best friend shaking his head. "What are you on about, James?" Sirius forced a laugh. "I'm not in love with Remus, you dolt. I just-"
"No." The other boy snapped. "It's not like that, alright? I love him just like I love you and Pete and if either of you had to go through what we saw what last night, I'd be the same way. Fuck, Potter. Just because I like blokes and I care about Remus doesn't mean...It...It doesn't mean anything."
James stared unblinking at him for a moment. "Alright. If you say so."
"Well, I do say so." Sirius grumbled, and he turned onto his other side.
"But for arguments sake," James carefully pressed on. "If you were in love with him, and I'm not saying that you are, you really ought to tell him because this whole...suffering in silence thing that you've got going on here...it's going to do both of you more harm than good."
"If you were."
"Shut up, Potter. You don't know what you're talking about."
James sighed. "Sorry I mentioned it then."
Sirius reached behind him and shut the curtains of his bed without another word.
"I don't know what you did differently this month dear, but you should keep to it." Madam Pomfrey shook her head in disbelief as she checked Remus' body for any signs of serious injuries. Some bruises and scratches here and there, but for the most part the boy was in perfectly good health for someone who normally back to the hospital wing inches from death.
Remus shrugged. "Maybe I've just got better control than I thought."
"Hmm...It would appear so." The medi-witch handed him a potion to drink for the aching in his bones and he downed it quickly.
"So does that mean I can go back to my dorm soon, then?" He asked, trying not to seem too eager. He just really preferred his own bed and he was dying to speak to his friends.
Pomfrey sighed. "Perhaps. Not just yet though, I'd like to just keep an eye on you for a while. Rest up, now." She insisted. He didn't argue, he just laid back against the pillows and tried to piece together some flashes of memory from the night before.
That was different. Normally he had no recollection at all of his nights as a wolf, but now he had these little snippets of clear thought.
Stag. Rat. Dog. My Pack. Run. Play.
He remembered fresh air and being able to run. He was never able to run.
Chase. Play. Run. Stag.
Had he been outside?
Forest. Chase. Rat.
The idea of it. That he had been allowed out, not trapped, alone and with nothing to do but rip himself apart...
Play. Wrestle. Dog. Pin Down. Moony is Alpha. Mine. Mine. Dog.
He choked slightly. Alright, that was interesting. Maybe that didn't mean what his human mind thought it meant. They were both canines, after all. Moony was just asserting himself over Padfoot. Padfoot was his pack mate...Because Sirius most certainly was not his, and the sooner he accepted that he never would be, the better.
"Are you alright, dear?" Called Pomfrey from her office.
"Yes, I'm fine." Remus replied, feeling that tightness in his chest again. That feeling he got whenever Sirius touched him or looked at him in that way that he never seemed to look at anyone else...So intense and deep like he was looking into his damn soul. "I'm so fucked..." he mumbled.
"How the fuck did you get me outside?" Remus asked, grinning despite the fact that the idea was so insanely dangerous. He was sitting against the headboard of his own four poster with James, Sirius and Peter sitting across at the foot of the bed.
"Getting you out wasn't difficult," Peter explained. "You weren't exactly hard to convince once we got the door open. You just sort of bolted out the door-" Remus' eyes widened, slightly horrified by the thought that he had been let loose, and Peter quickly added. "We were right behind you. And You seemed mostly interested in keeping track of where we all were so...I don't think you wanted to run off and terrorize a village or anything."
"Definitely not." James agreed, reassuringly. He passed Remus a chocolate frog. "You seemed happy...Getting you to come back in was a whole different story."
Remus was completely fascinated by everything they told him. It was much easier to put his vague memories together with them filling in the blanks. He licked his lips. "I didn't...I mean...Sirius, I didn't hurt you, right? When we were playing?"
Sirius shrugged and shook his head. "Not at all, why?"
"I remember getting a little rough with you, that's all..." He felt his cheeks flush a little. He definitely didn't want Sirius to know what he was thinking, but Sirius didn't seem bothered at all.
"Nah. Moony was just letting Padfoot know he was in charge, that's all. You didn't do anything bad...I mean...that's a pretty basic canine behavior, right?"
Remus nodded. "Yeah...Sorry, I just...I'm really not use to remembering anything at all. Let alone anything good or...or fun, even..." He smiled a little. "This is...I really can't tell you how incredible it is, guys. Thank you, again..."
"Stop thanking us, prat." Sirius smirked, biting the head off a chocolate frog. "We enjoyed ourselves...we're just happy to have saved you from ripping yourself to shreds for once..."
The others nodded in agreement. They spent the rest of the day lazing about the dorm room, planning ahead for the next month's adventure.