It felt just like any other full moon night. In fact, since the actual incident, Remus hadn't been having those strong, untamable urges at all.
Maybe it had just been some sort of momentary lapse of self control. After all, like Sirius said, that could happen to anyone. Sirius had trouble controlling himself all the time in highly emotional situations. James lost it every time he wanted to impress Evans, spilling out the most ridiculous things anyone had ever heard and immediately regretting it after. Peter...well, ask Peter to sit in front of a plate of food and not finish every last bite.
Sometimes, everyone just loses control.
"Alright Moony?" Asked James as he, Sirius and Peter entered the shack.
Remus was standing by the open window, letting the cool November breeze wash over him, keeping him grounded and aware. He nodded. "Fine, Prongs. Thanks." His eyes met Sirius' for a brief moment, silently communicating his worried thoughts.
"Lie down, Remus." Sirius insisted, not breaking eye contact.
"Can't." Remus muttered, clenching and unclenching his fists. His muscles felt tight. He rolled his head from side to side. "Can't lay still..."
Sirius chewed his lip for a moment. He started to walk to the other boy but Remus shook his head.
"Don't." He said sharply. "Please. Just...I don't want to be touched right now, alright?" He wanted Sirius to stay as far away as possible. He hoped he could somehow manage to get the wolf to play with the Stag and Rat and maybe not as much with the Dog, who was usually the focus of the Wolf's attention.
"So," Peter started awkwardly, trying to ease the obvious tension in the room and distract everyone. "James, what happened with you and Mary earlier? You were off on that...'walk' for quite some time, eh?"
James grinned, taking a seat on the piano bench and looking proud of himself. "Snogged her brains out."
"Did you?" Sirius asked, raising eyebrow and smirking. "'Bout time, mate. How far did you get?"
James shrugged, still looking quite pleased. "Just a little under the shirt, that's all. Nothing worth bragging about." He sighed. "She wanted to go into Hogsmeade tonight. I told her I had plans..."
"Sorry." Remus said quietly, staring out the window at the darkening sky. "I'm sorry, you shouldn't be missing out on going out with Mary for me..."
James snorted and rolled his eyes. "Give it a rest, Moony. It's just one night. You know I'd rather be here with you lot anyway."
"You all make far too many sacrifices for me." Remus shook his head, wrapping his arms around himself.
James frowned and gave Sirius a questioning look, but Sirius only sighed and looked away in response.
"Don't say that kind of shit, Remus." James said firmly, when Sirius was of no help. "You know we're here because we want to be. All of us."
Remus let out a cold laugh. "Until I hurt one of you. Until you realize what I actually am-"
"Remus, where is this coming from all of the sudden?" Peter finally spoke up. "We've been with you nearly every full moon for two years now, mate. You've never even come close to hurting us."
"Yet." Remus muttered darkly.
Sirius made a frustrated sound and pushed himself off the bed, crossing the room and grabbing Remus by the shoulder to forcibly turn him around to face him. "That's enough, Remus! Cut the shit, alright?"
"Sirius," James warned, glancing out the window at the moon, but Sirius ignored him.
"You can't just act like this, Moony! You can't just let one mistake define who you are!"
"It is who I am, Sirius!" Remus shouted, shoving Sirius back with incredible force against the wall. "That's what you don't seem to grasp! Whether it's a full moon or not, I am a werewolf! I'm a monster and I will hurt you!"
"Bullshit, Remus! You-"
"Oy! Would you two get a bloody grip?" James had somehow managed to get between the two of them, one hand on each of their chests. "I don't know what this is about, but now is not the bloody time for it!"
For a moment they continued to glare at each other over James' shoulder, both breathing heavily. Sirius was the first to concede. He sighed and took a step back.
"You're right, Prongs." He glanced up at Remus again. Remus still looked angry and tense, but Sirius reminded himself that it was the moon and nothing more. "Moony, please..." He said softly, carefully reaching for his boyfriend's hand. Remus didn't flinch away, but he didn't relax either. "This is just another full moon, love. It's no different than the others, I promise. You aren't going to hurt me." His eyes, pleading and full of concern, stayed locked on the bright yellow ones. "You aren't going to hurt anybody. You trust me, yeah?"
Remus swallowed hard, his eyes dropping. "It's me I don't trust..." He whispered shakily.
"You don't have to." Sirius gently squeezed his hand. "I trust you."
"Me too." James added.
"And me." Peter didn't miss a beat.
Sirius sighed in relief as Remus allowed him to pull him into his arms and the werewolf's head dropped onto his shoulder. "It's okay, Moons." He said softly, running his fingers through the sweat-damp curls.
"I'm sorry." It was hardly a whisper, and Sirius wasn't sure if he meant for the way he was behaving or if he was once again apologizing for what had happened. Maybe both. He nodded.
"I know." He lifted Remus' chin and kissed his lips. "I love you, Remus."
"I love you, Sirius."
James and Peter, confused as they were, stayed silent and averted their eyes to give the couple as much privacy as they could manage. Remus' strangled sound of pain brought that moment to a too-sudden end, and both James and Peter backed away, preparing to transform. Remus' body shuddered and he cried out, but Sirius didn't budge.
"We're going to be okay, Remus." He promised, still holding onto the werewolf tightly. "Understand?"
Remus nodded quickly, his eyes screwed shut as white hot pain seared through him. Sirius reluctantly let him go and moved out of the way, transforming only seconds after James and Peter just before the wolf's piecing howl filled the air.
Cold. He felt so cold.
There was a ringing sound in his ears, but he could hear hushed, frantically bickering voices:
"Sirius, you have to go-"
"Fuck you, Potter! I'm not leaving him."
"If he sees you like this-"
"Then hurry the bloody hell up and heal me before he wakes up!"
"I'm not a damn healer, Pads! I'm doing the best I can!"
"Well you'll have to do better than your best, I can't go to Pomfrey like this, obviously!"
What was happening? What was wrong with Sirius? Remus tried to speak but his jaw hurt like hell and his mouth was bone dry. He shifted uncomfortably from where he was lying in a heap on the dusty, hard floor.
"Shit." Swore Peter quietly, his voice much closer than James' or Sirius'. "Prongs, Pads, he's waking up."
"W-what's going-?" Remus managed, gritting his teeth and trying not to move his apparently injured jaw too much. He blinked his eyes a few times. He could see Peter sitting beside him, his small blue eyes filled with a mix of anxiety and concern. "What happened?"
Peter licked his lips nervously, eyes flickering between Remus and what Remus assumed was James and Sirius on the other side of the room. "N-nothing, Remus. It's fine. Everything's fine."
"Don't lie to me, Pete." Remus pleaded weakly. Peter didn't reply, he just continued to worry his bottom lip, eyes looking anywhere but Remus'.
Ignoring the searing pain that shot through every part of his body, Remus struggled to lift himself up slightly. His eyesight was still a little blurry and his head was pounding, He must have gotten hit with something, but he could see Sirius sitting up against the wall and James hovering over him, doing something that Remus couldn't quite see.
"Don't look, Moony." Sirius' strained voice demanded. Remus could tell he was trying to prevent him from becoming upset. "I'm fine, I promise."
Remus shook his head, trying to stop the spinning, trying to come back into reality.
"Fuck." James said sharply, throwing his wand down in frustration. "Your bloody ribs are broken, mate. I can't fix this on my own, Sirius!"
Remus' eyes went wide with panic. Broken ribs? How...?
"Someone tell me what the fuck is going on!" His heart was beating so fast and hard in his chest he thought if he looked down he would surely be able to see it thumping right under his skin.
"Nothing!" Snapped Sirius, who was slowly getting to his feet with the help of James and the wall behind him. He was shirtless, and Remus could now see the horrible dark red and black bruising that covered his left side.
"What did I do?" Remus asked in barely a whisper, horrified at the site of the other boy's injuries. "S-Sirius, what-?"
"You didn't do anything, Moony." Peter said quickly. He had moved to sit in front of the werewolf, purposely blocking his vision of the other two boys.
"Peter," Remus breathed shakily. "Please don't lie to me." He said again, looking at the smaller boy desperately. To his surprise, crystal blue eyes steadily met his own.
"Remus, I swear you didn't do that to Padfoot." Peter said firmly, holding his gaze, mouth pressed into a thin line.
Remus blinked a few times and swallowed past the lump in his throat. After a moment he nodded, believing his friend's words. But something still didn't feel right.
"Pete, stay with Moony. Help him get to the bed. I'm taking Sirius to Pomfrey."
Peter and Remus looked to James in shock.
"You can't! She'll-!"
"We'll come up with a story. Just take care of Remus. I'll meet you back in the dorm." James instructed, leaving no room for argument as he threw the cloak over both himself and Sirius.
Once the sound of their footsteps had faded, Peter carefully helped Remus stand. Remus stumbled a bit, a rush going straight to his head as he stood, making the room spin. He was happy for Peter, who was able to catch him before he fell and allowed Remus to lean heavily on him as they walked to the bed.
Remus laid down, staring blankly at the cracked ceiling of the shack. "Worm..." He croaked, voice still sore and scratchy. "Please tell me what happened last night?"
Peter didn't answer right away, but Remus heard him sigh as he searched through the drawers where they usually kept their belongings for the night. After a couple of seconds he felt the bed dip under the other boy's weight. Peter sighed and leaned against the headboard, opening the bag Sirius always packed for Remus and rummaging through it.
"Here," He said, handing Remus a bottle of water which Remus gratefully accepted. Peter gave him a sheepish smile. "Sorry, I know I'm probably not as good at all this post-moon-Moony-care as Sirius is."
Remus chugged down nearly half the bottle and shook his head, wiping his chin of some that had spilled. "Don't be silly. You're doing fine." he managed a weak smile, regardless of how badly is hurt to do so. "Although there are a few things Sirius does that I'm sure you aren't up for."
Peter snorted and rolled his eyes. "Love you, Moony. But I think I'll leave that to Padfoot."
There was a long, heavy silence as Remus drank the rest of his water and Peter seemed to purposely avoid eye contact with him. Something bad had happened, Remus knew that. Whether or not it had been him that had hurt Sirius, it was somehow his fault and the other three Marauders didn't want him to know. They didn't want him to feel guilty. They didn't want him to feel like a monster.
"Peter," He said quietly. "Please..."
He could practically see the gears in Peter's head turning as the boy debated what to say, or if he should say anything at all. Finally he took a deep breath and exhaled.
"A-at first everything was normal." Peter began, clearly uncomfortable being the one to have to tell. "You turned, took a sniff at us and we headed into the Forest."
Remus closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on Peter's story, fishing his brain for any remembrance.
Rat. Stag. Dog. Pack.
Yes, that he remembered.
Wormtail sitting on top of Prongs' head and Padfoot sitting beside them, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth and tail thumping excitedly on the floor, kicking up dust and dirt.
Moony approached them, sniffing for their familiar scents. Prongs and Wormtail were always still as stone while Moony investigated them, but Padfoot...
Play. Play. Play. Moony, Play.
The dog laid down, rolling onto his back to expose his belly and neck in a submissive manner and barking happily for the Wolf's attention, which was granted to him as it always was. Moony nudged his snout against the dog's neck in the exact spot that Remus had bitten Sirius days before. He licked him there.
"We wanted to find that field that prongs had found a while back. The one with the wild Snidges." Peter continued. His voice sounded distant as the memories came flooding back to Remus.
Moony sat back and watched the bear-like black dog bound through the tall grass, successfully disturbing a nest of Snidgets. The small yellow birds scattered into the air, chirping angrily at Padfoot, who simply continued to jump up, snapping his teeth at them. The birds flew off, landing on a low hanging branch of a nearby tree, just mockingly out of the dog's reach.
Padfoot whined, his head tilting to the side as he pawed at the trunk of the tree. He turned to his friends and yipped. He couldn't succeed on his own, he'd have to be taller.
"So of course Prongs goes to help him and, well you know how they are together. They got distracted and started chasing after each other instead..."
Prongs and Padfoot were play fighting. Not an unusual occurrence. Prongs, careful not to hurt the dog with his antlers, pressed his head against Padfoot's and the two of them pushed against each other for a while until Prongs managed to knock Padfoot off balance.
Padfoot rolled onto his back, the signal for I Give Up. You Win.
Moony's eyes narrowed.
"It was weird, because it wasn't like they were doing anything out of the ordinary, but you just started growling. You didn't seem angry, though...it was a warning growl. Like when Padfoot tries to pin you down and you tell him off. You being the Alpha and all..."
Prongs held his head up high in victory, gently placing one hoof on Padfoot's belly.
Moony's claws dug into the dirt beneath him. He could hear Wormtail squeaking beside him, concerned. He ignored the rat. The Stag and the Dog were of much more importance.
"So you started calling for him. But y'know how Prongs and Pads are when they are off in their own world. He probably didn't hear you over whatever game they were playing..."
Padfoot was up in seconds flat, running circles around the stag and weaving between its long legs. He barked, pouncing at Prongs a few times before running off for Prongs to chase him.
Padfoot skidded to a halt, head low to the ground and backside up, tail wagging enthusiastically. Prongs had caught up to him.
"One thing lead to another and Prongs had flipped him onto his back again...that's when you got...angry..."
Moony howled and ran forward, knocking Prongs away from the dog with incredible force. Prongs stumbled back in shock, looking at Moony who was standing over Padfoot and growling fiercely.
Prongs took another step back and bowed his head in respect. He obviously hadn't been trying to hurt Padfoot. It was only a game.
Padfoot, however, whined. He was confused at why Moony had stopped his and Prongs' fun. He huffed in annoyance and wriggled out from beneath the wolf.
"That was when you turned on Padfoot..." Peter's voice shook anxiously as he went on. "You pinned him again and you wouldn't let him up...you were getting a little rough so Prongs...he intervened..."
Moony yelped in surprise and pain as Prongs' front hooves pushed him off, sending him flying. He picked himself back up and shook off.
"You charged at Prongs, but Pads tried to get between the both of you so Prongs kicked him out of the way...I reckon that's where the broken ribs are from...You...you really didn't like that."
Padfoot let out a pained cry as he landed in a heap, several feet away.
Moony saw red.
"Prongs...he had no choice, Moony. He didn't mean to hurt you, and he felt terrible about it after. But you were really after him, teeth and all..."
Remus raised a trembling hand to the back of his head, which was still pounding. He wasn't sure he wanted to hear the rest of this...
But he had to...
"You ran after him, but before you could attack he kicked you away. Got you right in the head and knocked you out." Peter swallowed thickly. "Probably hurt your jaw as well from the looks of it." He gave a nervous, sideways glance toward Remus. "We don't know what made you act like this. We've never seen you look so..." He trailed off.
Remus stared blankly ahead. He didn't know what to do or say. He had attacked his friends.
"I can't do this anymore."
"Mr. Black, what on earth were you thinking!" Scolded Madam Pomfrey as she and James assisted Sirius to the nearest bed. "Trying to get past the Whomping Willow, honestly! What could have possessed you-?"
Sirius winced as he laid back, letting the nurse poke and prod at his bruised side. "Just wanted to surprise Remus." He lied through his teeth, just as he and James had discussed. "I thought I could make it past."
Pomfrey shook her head disapprovingly as she poured a goblet of some nasty looking potion and shoved it at him. "Foolish boy! Couldn't have waited to come see him once I had him safe and sound in here..." She continued to mutter to herself as she fussed over him.
"Well, you know me." Sirius sighed, averting his eyes from James'. "Fucking full of stupid ideas."
"Language, Mr. Black!"
"Sorry." He muttered.
"Well," Sighed Madam Pomfrey, folding her arms impatiently. "You take that potion, Mr. Black. Mr. Potter, I trust you can look after him while I go retrieve Mr. Lupin, safely, from the shack." She hurried out, still talking to herself about Sirius' stupidity.
Both James and Sirius were silent for a moment that seemed like forever. Sirius refused to look, but he could feel James' eyes piercing into him.
"So?" James said finally. Sirius could hear the frown in his voice.
"So what?" He muttered, staring down at the goblet of thick green potion.
James folded his arms, glaring at Sirius over the rim of his glasses. "So are you going to tell me what the fuck is going on with you and Remus?"
Sirius didn't answer. He lifted the goblet to his lips and held his breath as he tilted his head back and chugged it down. Disgusting. He pulled a face and set the goblet down on the bedside table. "Nothing is going on. We're fine."
"Fine?" James scoffed. "You expect me to believe everything is fine after the way you were both acting in the shack? Yelling about hurting someone? And then..." He shook his head, running a hand through his hair. "That wasn't normal, Sirius! He wouldn't let us near you and he almost..." He swallowed hard. "Sirius, what's wrong with Moony?"
"I don't know!" Sirius shouted angrily, finally looking at the other boy. Both of his hands dragged through his long hair and tugged. "I...I don't know what's wrong with him, Prongs. He's losing control of himself! He's gotten possessive and...and you know how he's been dragging me off all the time to..." He made a very obvious hand gesture that, had the situation been any different, James would have laughed at. But James just nodded for him to continue. "Apparently it's because he can't help it! He gets these urges and he can't ignore them. And it's..." He paused, not wanting to continue.
"It's what, Pads?" James asked gently, shifting awkwardly on his feet.
Sirius licked his lips. "He's just been a bit aggressive." He muttered, pulling his knees to his chest. He forced a laugh. "Not that I don't enjoy it, mind you. In fact, it's sort of my own bloody fault because I sometimes get him all worked up to get that way...but I never thought that..." He sighed and pulled his wand out from under his pillow, pointing it at his neck. "Finite Incantartum."
James gasped as the glamour charm on Sirius' throat disolved, revealing a silvery pink scar.
"Remus bit you?"
"Don't say anything about it to him, Prongs. He feels badly enough and it wasn't his fault." Sirius grumbled, re-charming the mark and stuffing his wand back under his pillow.
James gaped at him. "I..." He sat heavily in the chair beside Sirius' bed and took his glasses off to rub his eyes. "Sirius, that's...that's really serious..."
"It's fine, it's not like he's turned me-"
"No, Sirius." James sighed. "It's not about that. Remus...he would never do that. If he lost control to the point where he's left a scar like that on you, something has to be really, really wrong with him." He shook his head. "I can't believe he didn't up and-"
"I know." Sirius cut him off sharply. He knew exactly what James was thinking and he preferred not to think the same way. "But that's why I don't want to make a big fuss over this. I don't want him upsetting himself and thinking that...that being with me is too dangerous..."
The doors to the infirmary opened and Madam Pomfrey ushered a limping, but still standing, Remus inside. She was prattling on to him as well. "Don't know what you've managed to do to yourself. You could very well have a concussion. Go on then, get to bed, I'll get your potions." She disappeared into the back storage room.
Remus stood still, staring at Sirius in the bed beside the vacant one that was reserved for himself. He looked like one gust of wind could knock him right off his feet. James stood abruptly and hurried to his side to help him.
"Here, Moons..." He carefully put his arm around the werewolf for support.
Remus shook his head. "It's fine, James. You don't have to help me." He was too weak to actually pull away though, and had no choice but to allow James to assist him to the bed next to Sirius'.
"I'm sorry." He muttered, his eyes blank and completely void of emotion as he settled back against the pillows. "I'm sorry, James...for what-"
"Shut up, Remus." James said quietly, adjusting the boy's pillow for him. "It's alright. Everyone's fine, aren't they?"
Remus didn't respond.
"Moony," Sirius tried, carefully shifting onto his side, trying not to irritate his mending bones. "Hey, Moons, it's alright. No ones upset with you or anything. Everything's going to be fine, yeah?"
Again there was no response.
Pomfrey was back, carrying a tray of different potions and salves for Remus. All three Gryffindors were silent as Pomfrey set about tending to Remus' cuts and scrapes. Remus took his potions without argument, still staring straight ahead.
"Mr. Potter, I'm afraid both Mr. Lupin and Mr. Black need rest. You and Mr. Pettigrew can come back after lunch to visit with them if you wish." Said the Mediwitch, not bothering to look up from bandaging Remus' arm as she spoke.
James bit his lip, his eyes meeting Sirius' briefly.
"Yes ma'am." He sighed. "See you later guys. Feel better." And he reluctantly left the hospital wing.
Pomfrey finished with Remus and turned her attention back to Sirius, poking and prodding at his aching ribs and muttering more spells and enchantments to ease the burning pain. Once she was finished she instructed them both to rest and she left them alone.
There was a long stretch of silence where Sirius thought Remus may have actually fallen asleep, but when he turned to look at the next bed he saw that Remus was indeed awake, eyes still glued to the stark white ceiling.
Sirius' breath hitched. His mouth dropped and he stared over at the boy in the next bed. No...no he couldn't mean...
"I'm sorry Sirius." Remus whispered. "I can't do this anymore..."
"You don't mean that." Sirius shook his head. "You don't, Remus!"
"I do mean it. I-I'm so sorry-"
"No!" Sirius sat up, despite the sharp pain in his side, and faced him. "Fuck, Moony! You can't...you can't just-! We're going to figure this out! It'll be fine! We're going to be fine!"
"You don't know that, Sirius."
"I do know that! Because we love-"
"Yes." Remus said, turning his head so he could look into Sirius' eyes. "I do love you, Sirius. And that's why I need to end this. I won't put you in danger anymore." He looked back at the ceiling. "It's over."