"Remus, I think this has gone on long enough. I understand that you felt the need to separate yourself from us after what happened last month, but you can't just lock yourself away out here until graduation. You have to come back to the dorm."
Remus bit down hard on his bottom lip and refused to look up from the potions essay he was trying to write. Admittedly, the shrieking shack was not the best place for focusing on homework. The creaking walls and howling winds were enough of a distraction, and he had to wear two jumpers since the bitter December air always found a way to creep in no matter how many warming charms he used. But he simply could not bring himself to return to Gryffindor tower.
"I don't belong there, James." He muttered, scratching away at the parchment with his quill. He was sitting on the bed with his text book propped up on his knee and his parchment laid across it. He had tried transfiguring the piano into a desk, but all he had managed to do was offend the instrument, which subsequently decided to play Dies Irae at top volume, repetitively until he apologized and moved his homework back to the bed.
"That's bullshit, Remus." James argued. "Of course you belong there! You certainly don't belong here-"
Remus snorted and rolled his eyes.
"Don't I? I'm the whole reason this place even exists, aren't I? I need to be alone."
Even though he wasn't looking he could practically feel James' eyes narrow irritably. He knew James' lips were pressed into a thin line, arms straight down by his aides and fists clenched as he became more disgruntled with Remus' stubbornness.
"You need to be back in the castle. You need to be with me and Pete and Sirius-"
Remus growled in the back of his throat and he controlled the urge to look at his friend. "I need to be far away from Sirius."
James let out a frustrated sound and snatched the parchment from Remus' lap.
"No! This is stupid, Remus! You're acting ridiculous and you're only hurting yourself and Sirius! Don't you care-?"
"I'm protecting Sirius!"
"You're being selfish!" James accused angrily, folding his arms. Remus whined indignantly as his essay was crushed. "You're protecting yourself, Remus. If you were doing this for Sirius you'd be trying to find a solution, not hiding out in the bloody shrieking shack and avoiding your friends for weeks!"
Remus pulled his knees to his chest and turned away, guilt building in his gut.
"There is no solution, James. I hurt Sirius, I tried to hurt you-"
"Then we'll figure out why, and-"
"Because I'm a monster!" Remus shouted, standing up so abruptly that James stumbled backwards. "That is the reason, James! No matter what, it wouldn't have happened if I wasn't a dangerous animal!"
He was right in James' face, breathing heavily, heart racing. His chest ached. He wanted nothing more than to follow James back up to Gryffindor tower and crawl back into his warm bed, where hopefully Sirius would be waiting for him. He couldn't though. He couldn't trust himself, no matter how much his friends foolishly trusted him. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, taking a step back.
"I'm sorry, James...there's nothing to figure out. Sirius and I are over...everything is over. At least for me. I'm going to get through the next two years completely under the radar, graduate and move on." He sat on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. He felt like his world was crashing down all around him.
"So that's just it then?" James asked tensely. "You're just giving up? On Sirius, on yourself...on all of us?"
He heard James scoff. "We've all worked too hard to let everything fall apart just because you're too busy wallowing in self pity. So you can go ahead and give up, but I'm not."
Remus frowned and looked up. "What d'you-?"
"I mean," James hesitated. He sighed and scratched the back of his head anxiously. "I mean that I've been looking into some things-"
"This isn't your business to look into." Remus said firmly.
"It is." James argued. "It is my business because it's tearing Sirius apart and it's making you lock yourself away from everyone and treat yourself like an animal and I won't stand for that. You're both worth more than that to me."
Remus stared at his lap. He couldn't tell if he loved or hated James for being so fiercely invested. He chewed nervously on his bottom lip and fidgeted with the fraying blanket beneath him. "What is it you've looked into exactly?"
James had begrudgingly agreed to leave Remus alone, with Remus' promise that he would return to the dorm room when he felt he was ready. With the new information that James had given him, he had even more to think about.
The idea churned his stomach. It sounded so primal, so inhuman.
He had read about it before, but there wasn't much literature on it and what he could find wasn't exactly the most reliable, so maybe that wasn't what he was going through at all...
Although it did make an awful lot of sense. The spike in his sex drive, being unable to keep his hands -and various other body parts - off of Sirius, his aggressive behavior towards anyone who got too close to him...
And of course there was the overwhelming urge to mark him.
Remus shuddered at the thought.
All of those feelings would go away if he just gave in and allowed it to happen. That, however, was not an option in Remus' mind.
It was a very powerful, magical bond, if what he had come across was true, and it would last until he or Sirius died. They would be connection, spiritually and mentally. If anything were to come between them, it would cause them both physical anguish to the point of near death or madness.
He couldn't hold Sirius to that.
What they were doing was fun and although Remus was completely and utterly in love with the other boy, he knew that eventually he would have to let Sirius go. Sirius deserved more than what he could offer and Remus was positive that he would realize that some day and want to move on.
Grateful as he was to have experienced being in love, that love had an expiration date. Remus was destined to be alone, a fate he had accepted very long ago.
It was the day before Christmas break that he decided to sneak back up to Gryffindor tower. His friends would all be at the feast, giving him the chance to hide away in his four poster and pretend to be asleep without the awkward apologies for his behavior and disappearance and without having to face Sirius.
He held his breath, hands shaking anxiously as his turned the knob and opened the door to the dorm room. It was, as he had hoped, empty. With a heavy sigh of relief, he grabbed his pajamas from his trunk and headed into the bathroom to have a hot shower.
The water felt amazing. He hadn't realized how cold he had been the last few weeks sleeping in the shack until he stepped into the steam. He had taken quick showers in the prefects lavatory, but just long enough to wash up and slip out again unnoticed. Now he allowed himself to relax, the feast wouldn't be done for quite some time.
Once his muscles ached less and his skin became red from the heat, he stepped out and dried off and changed into clean, warm pajamas. His stomach growled, but he was much more concerned with getting a good night's rest and avoiding any possibility of confrontation.
Padding across the room to his bed, Remus nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the click of the dorm room door closing and a sharp gasp. He froze.
Remus swallowed hard and slowly turned around to face Sirius.
He looked tired, like he too hadn't been sleeping nearly enough, and also a little surprised. Mostly he looked hurt.
Grey eyes, cold and stone-like, looked him up and down and Remus felt himself shiver under the scrutiny of Sirius' gaze.
"You look awful." Sirius commented flatly, taking a step closer. One sleek, dark eyebrow quirked up. "Are you alright?" He didn't sound like he was asking purely out of concern. Something in his tone made Remus feel even worse, vulnerable even. He wrapped his arms around himself and shrugged.
"I'm fine." He lied.
"Good." Said Sirius lightly, taking another step forward so that he was only inches away, close enough that Remus thought he was going to kiss him, and he knew he wouldn't have it in him to stop him from doing so. But Sirius didn't kiss him.
He shoved him.
Remus stumbled back in shock, gaping at him. "Sirius! What-?"
"What the fuck is your problem!" Sirius demanded angrily, stepping closer again. "You just break up with me and you disappear for bloody weeks? You show up for classes and avoid me and James and Peter? I've been worried sick about you!"
"I had to get away, Sirius!" Remus shouted in defense, his anger growing as well as he matched Sirius' glare. "I couldn't risk hurting you! I can't control-"
Sirius pushed him again. "Oh yeah?" He laughed coldly. "You can't control yourself? Well then come on, Remus." Another rough shove and Remus was up against the wall. "Hurt me!"
"No! You you can't fucking control yourself, right?" He hit Remus' arm. "I don't know, you seem to be controlling yourself pretty goddamn well!"
"Sirius." Remus gritted his teeth, his hands curling into tight fists at his side as he continued to let Sirius come at him again and again until finally he couldn't take it anymore and he grabbed Sirius' wrist, mid swing. For a moment they were both still. Sirius' eyes bore into his own desperately.
"Tell me you don't love me, Remus."
Remus let out a shaky breath and bit his lip. "I can't." Of course he loved him. He loved Sirius more than anything, that was the whole point.
"Because it isn't true!" Said Sirius fiercely. "Tell me," his voice cracked a little and his piercing stare faltered. "Tell me you don't want to be with me."
Remus closed his eyes, unable to stand the way Sirius looked at him. "You know that's not-!" he was cut off by Sirius' mouth pressed hard against his own. He wanted to push him away and pull him closer at the same time, but as Sirius' tongue ran across his bottom lip and slipped into his mouth, all resistance melted away.
Sirius' hands came up to cup Remus' face and Remus wrapped his arms around his waist as the kiss became deeper, teeth clicking together and tongues hungrily searching each other's mouths.
"Sirius," Remus broke away, panting and feeling Sirius' own breath, warm on his face. "You have to understand...I can't put you at risk. I can't put myself at risk!" He added as he saw Sirius begin to argue. It worked and Sirius' expression softened, appearing almost guilty as he took a small step backwards. "I just need some space while I figure this out, Padfoot. Please?"
Sirius was quiet. His eyes dropped and he worried his bottom lip between his teeth as he took in Remus' words. Remus watched him anxiously, silently praying that he would see reason for once and not try to convince him, as he always did, to throw caution to the wind.
"Alright," Sirius said it so softly Remus wasn't sure he had said anything at all.
"Fine. I'll...Space, right." He cleared his throat, running a shaky hand through his hair.
Remus' heart ached watching the emotions play over the other boy's face. At his side his left hand twitched, wanting to reach out and comfort him but he resisted. He knew if he gave in, he would just want to kiss Sirius again and he wouldn't be able to stop. He had to stick to his decision. "Sirius, I-"
The door flung open and James and Peter came barreling in, laughing loudly and holding arms full of stolen Christmas treats from the feast.
"Oy, Pads! What happened to -oh." James stopped short and both he and Peter stood frozen, staring at the other two. "Er...you two having a talk, then?"
"Should we leave?" Asked Peter around the candy cane that hung from his mouth.
Sirius shook his head. "No. It's fine. We're done."
His eyes met Remus' briefly before he turned and went to his own bed.
"You alright, Pads?" James asked, though he gave Remus a questioning look. Remus looked away.
"Yeah. Just tired. Got to rest up for the ride back tomorrow, eh?" Before any other them could respond, Sirius closed his curtain and uttered a silencing charm around his bed. That was the last thing any of them said that night.