For the first time in over a year, Remus woke up with nearly no recollection of the night before and horrible pain in every inch of his body. He hadn't opened his eyes, but instead of the dusty, old scent of the shack he smelled healing potions and sterile sheets, but he couldn't remember Madam Pomfrey waking him to bring him to the hospital wing.
The harsh lighting of the infirmary burned his eyes when he finally forced them open and he groaned. "Fuck..." He muttered.
"Remus? Shit, James, he's awake." Peter's exhausted voice rang in his ears. His vision cleared and he saw the two boys staring, tired and anxious at him.
"What happened?" His throat stung when he spoke. Panic hit him and he sat up so quickly it made his head spin and his body scream in protest. "Where's Sirius? What happened? Did I hurt-?"
A horrible feeling of dread washed over him as James and Peter exchanged a look of regret. "J-James, is Sirius-?"
"Sirius is fine." James' voice shook.
Then where was he? Something wasn't right.
"What happened?" He asked again. He watched as James swallowed thickly, hazel eyes downcast.
"Remus...um..." He licked his lips. "Last night on the way to the shack...Sirius had a run in with Snape...and they got into an argument..."
Remus felt his chest tighten. He took a deep breath. "S-so...Sirius hexed him? He's in detention? Suspended? Expelled? What?"
James shook his head. "No...whatever Snape said to him, it really got him mad...and...well, you know how Sirius is when he's mad-"
What was he trying to say? Clearly it was bad, because James didn't want to say it. "Tell me what happened James!" Remus snapped, causing both James and Peter recoil slightly.
James took a breath, finally meeting Remus' hard gaze. "He told Snape how to get past the willow."
Everything went cold. He couldn't breathe and there was a sudden ringing in his ears drowning out the rest of what James was saying, although he did pick up on some key things like "not hurt" and "sworn to secrecy".
Remus shook his head. "No..." He whispered. "No no no no..."
"I'm sorry, Moony..." James whispered, his voice thick with emotion.
Remus choked down a sob, his whole body shaking with anger and grief and a mix of emotions he didn't know how to place and had no desire to. This had to be a nightmare. This couldn't be true. Sirius wouldn't do this. Not to him...not Sirius...
Remus was in the hospital wing for three days straight. When they weren't in class or at meals, James and Peter were visiting with him but he mostly slept, aided by a powerful sleeping potion.
This left Sirius completely alone.
Not that it made a difference, because no one was speaking to him anyway.
It was late in the evening when Remus finally returned to the common room. Sirius looked up from the History of Magic essay he was trying, and failing, to distract himself with. His heart sank.
Remus was thinner and paler than Sirius could ever remember seeing him, with dark circles under his eyes and a fresh, deep gash across his face that would surely leave a permanent scar.
I did this.
Remus didn't look at him. He kept his eyes firmly on the ground and went straight up to the dorm. Sirius risked a glance at James and Peter, who were on the other side of common room working on their own homework. They both stood after a moment, also avoiding eye contact with him, and followed Remus up the stairs.
Sirius waited until everyone else was in bed before he quietly made his way up to the dorm. His bed felt too big, or perhaps he felt too small, and he couldn't find a comfortable position no matter what he tried. He hadn't slept in days, not since it had happened...
It wasn't meant to happen like that.
It was a joke.
Snape wasn't suppose to actually listen to him. He thought at the most he'd get to the willow and chicken out or be smacked around a bit by the branches like all the other idiots who liked to bet on who could get closer.
What was he thinking...
He wasn't thinking. He never did. He just let his anger control him and now he had finally taken it too far.
"I don't care if I embarrassed the family, I don't care if I get bloody disowned, even! The Sorting Hat put me in Gryffindor, and that's where I'm going to stay. I'd love to see mother try to change that. Besides, you should be happy! Now you won't have to keep an eye on me!"
Narcissa shook her head. "Oh Sirius, one day you'll see just how very damaging your rebellious behavior is. You want to keep pretending you aren't who you are? Go ahead. But you'll wind up all alone."
It was true. He couldn't pretend he wasn't who he was. He was, and always would be, A Black. Selfish, arrogant and thoughtless.
"You may not be in the same robes as us, Sirius. But the blood in your veins is still the Black family's, and one day you'll realize that you're exactly like the rest of us." Regulus said coldly. "And by that time you'll have no family left to turn to."
He had no one. A disappointment and unwanted by his family, and now his friends and worse, to Remus...
He whimpered and turned into his side, screwing his eyes shut tight and concentrating on his breathing, which had gotten shallow and rapid as his thoughts raced through his mind. Breathe in for four and out for eight...he counted slowly...slowly...and he faded into sleep.
His eyes snap open when he hears the sound of a door being shut, followed by footsteps. The room is dark, but he can tell right away that it isn't the fifth year Gryffindor dorm that he's in. He swallows past the lump in his throat.
The footsteps draw closer and with a flash of light he sees his mother standing over him. He can't move.
"You're a Black, Sirius. And you will behave like one." Another flash of light and pain rips through his body. He opens his mouth to scream but no sound escapes him. His body is on fire, ears ringing...
The pain subsides and he lays there, breathless on the ground, wishing for someone to come and take him away from it. Regulus, James, Peter, Remus...death, even.
He has no one.
"You can't run from who you are, Sirius." Regulus' voice comes from somewhere in the shadows before he steps into the light above Sirius' idle body as well.
Regulus, please help me. He wants to beg his brother for mercy, forgiveness, anything...
Regulus reaches his hand out and for a quick fleeting moment, Sirius thinks he's going to help him. But the hand closes around his throat. He can't breathe. He can't move. He can't scream. Everything around him is fading, darkness closing in around his brother's face as the hand on his throat tightens...
And suddenly it's not Regulus' face above him.
Sirius woke up with a loud gasp as his lungs fill with air, tears rolling down his face and his entire body shaking violently. A nightmare...it was a nightmare. He took several deep breaths, composing himself enough before slipping out of bed and padding across the dorm to the bathroom. He avoided looking at himself in the mirror as he turned the cold water on in the sink, gathering it in his hands and splashing it onto his tear and sweat stained face.
He took a few extra minutes to let his mind ease up before he returned to his four poster, closed the curtain and transformed.
At least as a dog he could sleep without being haunted by his own thoughts.
It had been two weeks of agonizing silence from his friends when Sirius finally couldn't stand it anymore. With OWLs just over a month away, he couldn't eat, sleep or think let alone study for them. He entered the common room late one night to see Remus curled up in the overstuffed armchair by the fire, finishing up one of his missed assignments, and James and Peter in the middle of a game of chess. The rest of the common room was, quite coincidentally, empty.
Taking a deep breath and reminding himself that he was, in fact, a Gryffindor, Sirius walked up to them. "Remus, I need to talk to-"
James stood up, ready to stop the scene that was about to take place in front of him. "Sirius, don't-"
"It's fine, James." Remus interrupted, setting down his quill and parchment. James didn't back down right away, but with a meaningful look from Remus, he relented.
"Are you sure?" Asked Peter, earning a dirty look from Sirius that made him shrink back down into his seat.
Remus nodded. "Quite." For the first time in two weeks his eyes rested on Sirius. "And don't look at Peter that way, Sirius. He hasn't done anything wrong."
Even though he was being scolded, hearing Remus say his name made his heart jump into his throat. He hardly noticed Remus asking the other two for a moment of privacy until they were both standing. James gave Sirius one last warning look before disappearing up to the dorm with Peter.
Sirius licked his lips. He wanted to drop to his knees and beg Remus for forgiveness. He wondered briefly if that would work, but he shook the idea from his head. He couldn't do that, he had to maintain some of his pride...but if Remus asked him to....
"Sirius before you say anything, I want you to know that James explained to me why you did what you did. And although I understand that you can’t always control yourself when you’re angry or upset, it doesn’t excuse the fact that you betrayed me in quite possibly the worst way you could.”
“I know, Remus, and I-”
“I’m not finished.” Remus said sternly, and Sirius cowered like a dog that’s been hit on the snout with a newspaper under his hardened glare. “I trusted you. More than I’ve ever trusted anyone, and not just with my secret…” His words made Sirius feel worse than he has ever felt in his life. He felt sick and humiliated. “You are the one person who could ever really, truly hurt me. And you did it. All because you couldn’t control your temper…” Remus shook his head. “You were selfish and careless and you could have gotten Snape, James and me killed..."
Remus stood up and Sirius never felt so small in his life as the taller boy towered over him. "Do you know what the ministry would have done to me if something happened to Snape? They would have me put down, like a fucking animal. But you didn't think about that, did you?"
Sirius looked down, completely and utterly ashamed of himself. He didn't know what to say.
"Give me one good reason I should ever forgive you for this, Sirius..."
There was no reason to forgive him, Sirius knew. He said nothing.
Remus sighed. "That's what I thought." He shoved past the other boy angrily, heading to the stairs to the dorm.
“Remus, wait,” Sirius finally found his voice, which had run off somewhere with his pride and confidence.
Remus paused but didn't turn around. Sirius bit his lip. “You’re right. There’s no excuse for what I did. And I…I don’t think there is a good reason for you to forgive me, really…there's not...and if you never speak to me again I would understand. But I need you to know that I would never intentionally hurt you…I always knew I was going to ruin this, Remus, because I've always known you were far too good for me…I've never deserved you.” He swallowed hard and took a breath. “I'm so sorry. I know that there's nothing I can say or...or do that will fix what I did, but I would spend every fucking minute of the rest of my life trying if you would let me."
Realistically, the silence that followed was only about ten seconds, but to Sirius it was a lifetime. And when Remus started heading up the stairs without a word, Sirius wanted to die. But then-
“Are you coming to bed, Sirius?” Remus asked without looking back. “If you’re going to be spending the rest of your life trying to fix this, you probably shouldn't waste any time."
Sirius let out a shaky sigh, a mix of relief and surprise, before quickly hurrying up the stairs after him.
Up in the dorm, James and Peter sat on James’ bed having what seemed like a very in depth conversation about quidditch, but they both fell immediately silent when the other two boys entered Each of them silently head to their individual beds, and when James and Peter closed their curtains Remus patted the spot on the mattress beside him. “Sirius…come.”
Shocked, but not about to argue, Sirius obeyed.
“I’m thrilled you lads are working things out, but I swear if I hear any make-up sex, I’ll beat the both of you with my broom!”
Remus rolled his eyes. "Goodnight, James." He closed the curtain around them.
"I mean it, Moony! Think of Wormy's virginal ears!"
"Oy! Excuse me but I've got a girlfriend. What've you got, Potter?"
Remus shook his head and cast a silencing charm around his bed to muffle out the sound of the other two boys bickering. He slid under the covers, lifting them in a silent invitation to allow Sirius in beside him. Sirius hesitated.
"Before I come to my senses, Sirius." Remus sighed and Sirius scrambled forward. They settled down and Sirius rested his head on the werewolf's chest, content to simply be permitted to be this close to him.
"Thank you, Remus..." He said quietly.
"For what?" Asked Remus, stifling a yawn.
"For forgiving me…“
Remus was silent for a second. "I haven’t quite forgiven you, Sirius…” He began to idly stroke Sirius’ hair. “But I know that I will eventually...Why prolong the inevitable..." He sighed. "Besides, the guilt you feel is bad enough, I'm sure."
Sirius sat up slightly. “Am I allowed to kiss you?” It felt strange to ask permission, and he knew that he was probably pushing his luck. He should be happy that Remus is even speaking to him...
Remus considered him for a moment, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth before he finally nodded.
Sirius kissed him, but it wasn't at all like any kiss they have ever shared. It was very soft, barely there, and so timid that Remus wasn't even sure he was kissing the same boy he’d been kissing for most of the year. And for the first time in weeks, Remus felt sorry for Sirius. Winding his hand through Sirius’ long dark hair, he pulled him close and kissed him harder. He felt Sirius relax and could sense the relief coming off the other boy.
When they broke away Remus took a moment to study Sirius’ face. He frowned “you’ve got a black eye…”
"James punched me.“
Remus raised an eyebrow, but also smiled a little "you deserved it.”
“He broke my nose.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “You should have gone to the hospital wing. You tried to mend it yourself, that’s why you’re still bruised.”
“James said if I went to the hospital wing while you were there he’d kill me.” Sirius muttered.
Remus nodded “I see…” He pulled his wand out from under his pillow and quietly mumbled some healing spell under his breath. Sirius felt the tension around his eye slowly relieve itself.
Remus kissed him first on the forehead and then on the lips. “You’re welcome,” he brushed Sirius’ hair away from his face. “I should have just let you go ‘round like that a bit longer. Made you look kind of tough…”
"So punk rock."
"Very. Now go to sleep."