The full moon happened to land on the day that students were meant to return to Hogwarts after their holiday break, so Remus was not on the train. Sirius was leaning his forehead on the window, only half listening to James and Peter who were throwing ideas back and forth for the first big prank of the new calendar year. Sirius himself made a comment here or there, but mostly he just stared out at the quickly passing scenery and the large glowing orb hanging in the sky, a mocking reminder of who wasn't with them.
He heard the compartment door slide open and was going to ignore it, but his stomach rumbled loudly and he sighed.
"Hey Worm, could you get me some cauldron cakes, mate?"
Merlin I even sound depressed, he thought as he didn't even bother to lift his head off the cool glass window.
"Sorry Black," It was the voice of Lily Evans and not the trolley witch that responded to him. "I'm actually just here with some notes from the prefect meeting for Remus. I figured you lot would get to him before me." She slid the door closed behind her and took a seat next to James, handing him a sheet of parchment with neatly scribbled notes. "Is he alright?" She asked in a hushed voice.
James sighed. "Yeah, he'll be fine. He's just...y'know."
"Pining." Peter supplied.
Sirius scowled. "I can hear you, you know." He finally turned to face the others. "And I am not pining, thank you very much. I'm just-" His stomach growled again and he crossed his arms over it defiantly. "Hungry. I'm just hungry. I'll feel much better once I've had something to eat. I'm fine."
Three pairs of eyes blinked at him and he knew none of them were falling for it. He rolled his eyes and returned to staring out the window. Beside him he felt the weight of the seat shift and a hand lightly touched his shoulder. In the reflection of the window he could see red hair.
"I'm fine Evans."He said once more, gritting his teeth.
"So I've heard," Lily replied, her voice calm and quiet. He heard her searching through her bag and at the sound of some sort of wrapper, his interest peaked. He sat up slightly straighter, but kept his head facing stubbornly away...though his eyes were now focused on the reflection of the girl behind him rather than the moon.
"My mum and I bake these the night before I return to school whenever I go home." Lily explained, opening a plastic bag and holding a very delicious smelling chocolate chip cookie out to the back of Sirius' head. "Since your hungry."
With a quiet whine of defeat, Sirius flopped back in his seat to face forward. "Thanks." He muttered as he accepted the treat and took a bite. It did make him feel a little better.
"Could I get one of those, Evans?" James asked, leaning in and reaching for the bag in Lily's lap. Lily slapped his wrist sharply.
"Merlin, where you raised in a barn, Potter? I was going to offer you one, now I don't think I will." She handed one to Peter and took one for herself before closing the bag back up. James and Lily bickered for a few moments before Lily gave a frustrated sigh and handed the boy a cookie.
"Are you happy now?"
"Yes, quite." Said James around a mouthful of chocolate chips. Lily shook her head and put the cookies back in her school bag.
"So how will Remus get to school, anyway?" She asked.
"Floo, probably." Peter shrugged. "I mean, no one can apparate onto the grounds, right?"
"Maybe a portkey?" James suggested. "He wasn't sure when I asked him, but I'm sure Dumbledore and his dad have set something up for him."
As the conversation went on, Sirius began to feel restless. He tried to tune everyone else out, reciting lyrics to songs in his head or trying to come up with some clever pranks, but he couldn't sit anymore with that stupid moon there in the window. He stood up and everyone stopped talking to look at him questioningly.
"I'm going for a walk." He said simply, pulling his jacket on.
James and Peter glanced at each other and then back up at him.
"You want company, mate?" Peter asked, starting to get to his feet already.
"Nah, it's fine. I'll be right back." He forced a smile as they watched him with disbelief evident on their faces. "What trouble could I possibly get into on the bloody train, guys? Seriously, I'm just going to get some air, relax." When no one made a move to stop him he left the compartment, closing the door carefully behind him. He wasn't sure exactly where he was planning to go or what he wanted to do, but he had felt as though he was being smothered back there.
As he opened the door leading to the next car, he dug into his pockets for his pack of cigarettes and his fingers brushed across the long, thin, still wrapped box Remus had sent for Christmas and his stomach dropped.
"Oooh! Planning to jump!" Squealed a sickening voice from behind that made the hair on Sirius' arms stand on end and his body went rigid. Taking a deep breath he turned around to face his cousin.
"Trixie, you're looking quite...well, quite like a banshee as usual." He smirked and leaned against the open door, feeling the cold air from outside wooshing past him.
Bellatrix pouted mockingly. "What's wrong Siri? The Potters wouldn't adopt you? They send you back to the pound with the rest of the unwanted mutts?"
Sirius rolled his eyes, plucking a cigarette from his carton and placing it between his lips. "You're not surrounded by your usual crowd of creeps either, Trix. Where are they at?Out torturing muggleborns? Maybe blowing up houses of Purebloods that won't conform?"
Bellatrix giggled, a high pitched, childish sound that made Sirius want to punch her in the throat like he did when they were six and she wouldn't stop calling Regulus names. He'd gotten quite a beating for that then...it was certainly worth a detention now...
"They're all back in the compartment, of course." Bellatrix' lips twisted into a sick smile as she eyed Sirius up and down. "Rudolphus and Rabastian, Severus, Avery, Mulciber, of course...and Regulus."
Sirius' chest tightened at the mention of his brother. He narrowed his eyes, jutting his chin out confidently and sneering at Bellatrix. "Regulus wouldn't join your little club, Bella. You'll have to try a lot harder if you're trying to get a rise out of me, you know."
"Wouldn't he?" Said Bellatrix, frowning at him. "You said yourself, purebloods who don't join up are being...dealt with, aren't they?"
She's bullshitting, He told himself. Regulus may be a little twat, but he wouldn't stoop to hanging around the likes of those arsehats.
"Go suck a cock, Bella." Sirius growled, lighting the end of his cigarette with his wand and turning away from her to face the open door.
"Oooh!" Bellatrix cackled, clapping her hands together. "Such language. Well, I'd tell you to do the same, cousin...but rumor around the school is your freaky little boy toy's gone and left you."
Sirius choked on the smoke he had just inhaled. After a moment of hacking and catching his breath, his fists clenched at his sides and he started to count backward from ten in his head.
9, 8, 7..
He heard Bellatrix chuckle to herself.
"What was that about needing to try harder to get a rise from you, Siri?"
The sound of her foot steps began to walk away from him and he relaxed every muscle in his body. The foot steps stopped.
"You really should just jump."
With a growl Sirius turned back around, ready to hex his cousin into oblivion, but she was nowhere to be seen.
Facing the open door once again, he tossed the butt of his cigarette off to the side, watching it quickly disappear as the train sped on. He took a few deep gulps off fresh air, bracing himself with a hand on both sides of the doorframe. He never realized how fast the train moved before...
Bellatrix had to be lying, he told himself. Regulus was never interested in what Mulciber and those cult-following creeps were up to...was he? Now that he thought about it, he hadn't spoken to Regulus in over a year. A lot could have changed with his brother, especially with no one there to direct him the other way...
It was Sirius' own fault if Bellatrix was telling the truth. He had abandoned Regulus without a second thought. He had been selfish enough to push his way into a different family, a family that could easily get tired of him, just as Bellatrix had said...most people did, after all....Remus sure seemed to have done so...
You really should just jump...
Everything was happening so fast...
The sound of his name made him jump and turn, and he was surprised to find Lily standing there, her green eyes wide with concern. He swallowed past his suddenly dry mouth.
"E-Evans..." He cleared his throat. "What are you doing here?"
Without taking her eyes off of Sirius' face, Lily took a cautious step towards him. "Peter went off to find Emmeline and then Mary came in looking for James and I..." She trailed off, something unrecognizable flickering in her eyes. She shook it off. "Well I figured they'd want their privacy of course."
"...of course..." Sirius muttered, staring intently back at the girl as she took another step forward.
"Are you alright, Sirius?" She asked as she finally stood just inches away from him, her left hand twitching at her side as if she was keeping herself from reaching out to him.
Sirius wanted to tell her that no, he was not alright. He wanted to tell her about what he and James had overheard Mr and Mrs. Potter saying about the war coming, and that he had reason to believe his cousins, and quite possibly his little brother, may have had something to do with it. He wanted to tell her how scared he was that this man leading them...Lord Voldemort...may come after him, asking him to join ranks like the rest of his family and that he may even go after James' family as well...and he was afraid of what would happen if they declined.
He wanted to tell her how badly he missed Remus and how empty and meaningless his life would be if the other boy refused to take him back because of this silly werewolf bonding thing...
"I'm fine." He lied. He took a step away from the open door and saw Lily visibly relax. "I just needed some air, like I said before." He forced a smile and even though he could tell that Lily didn't believe him, she smiled back and offered her hand.
"Want to come sit with me and Marley and Dorcas, then?"
"Yeah." He nodded, taking her hand and squeezing it gently. "I would."
The moon had been particularly tough on Remus this month. It was never easy on the nights he spent alone, without the other marauders to distract and entertain him, but this moon had been even worse. Besides his missing pack, there was the desperate, yearning pull at his soul to mate. The wolf howled endlessly, calling for the loyal black dog, wondering where he was and why he wasn't answering. He had scratched at the walls of his parents' cellar until his claws bled, trying to escape and find his companions. He threw himself at the concrete over and over until he had finally passed out in a heap on the cold stone floor.
He woke up feeling guilty as his mother and father fussed over his wounds and cleaned up the mess.
He barely made eye contact with his father, even after they arrived in the Headmaster's office through the Floo network Dumbledore had unlocked for them late the following night. He had hugged him goodbye, politely thanked the Headmaster, and slowly headed back to his dormitory without a word.
It was very late and when he opened the door to his dorm he could hear Peter's snores and James' mumbles and, if he listened close enough, Sirius' steady breathing. He kicked off his shoes and stripped down to his boxers, not bothering with pajamas, before slipping beneath the covers and drawing the curtain around his bed. The pull of the moon was still so strong, it was hard for him to rest his mind enough to sleep, especially when he could smell the dark haired boy in the bed next to his. The boy that belonged there in his bed with him...The one the wolf wanted...
Sirius wanted it too, he could smell it on him...
He curled into a tighter ball and flipped over to face the other side, pulling the covers up over his face.
Absolutely not, He argued with himself. It's far too much to ask of anyone. And Sirius doesn't know what he wants for breakfast, let alone the rest of his bloody life.
Remus had made up his mind over the break. He and Sirius had to be done, or he'd risk ruining both of their lives. He couldn't put Sirius through that. He loved him far too much. He loved him just enough to let him go.
And with that, Remus fell into a fitful sleep.
Warm, sticky, copper-tasting blood poured into his mouth as his teeth dug into the kill he had pinned under his paws. He had never felt stronger or more complete in his entire life as the poor creature below him stopped struggling, stopped breathing, stopped...being...
Lifting his head he let out a triumphant howl before licking his blood soaked paws clean. Energy surged through him, he wanted more. He wanted to feel this powerful and alive always. He barked once, a call for his pack to join him. There was a bit of meat left on the animal, he assumed it was a bear or something, that Moony would be kind enough to offer to Padfoot if the dog wanted to take part. Moony, as the Alpha, would always share with the night's kill with his Mate...
But the pack didn't respond. Padfoot didn't yip in return and come running to his side, Nor did Prongs or Wormtail return from whatever adventure they had run off to enjoy while Moony fed...
He sniffed the air, trying to pick up on their scents but the smell of blood and carnage was overwhelming. He could, however, make out the scent of Padfoot somewhere under it all. He howled again for the dog, this time more urgently. Padfoot and Prongs did get easily distracted together, after all...
Confused, Moony turned back to the bear carcass. But it wasn't a bear at all.
It was a big, shaggy black dog.
Sirius woke up to a sound he hadn't heard in years, but would recognize in an instant for as long as he would live.
The quiet whimpers and gasps of breath, the incoherently mumbled words and dry sobs, and of course the creaking of the bed frame as his roommate tossed and turned in the bed beside his own.
Sirius didn't move. He stared at the canopy of his own bed, holding his breath and counting the seconds that went by, praying that whatever nightmare was plaguing Remus would settle quickly on its own. It was no longer his place to stop them, was it?
But then he heard the whimper of "Padfoot..."
Without another thought, he swung his legs over the side of this mattress and tiptoed across to the other bed, carefully peeling back the curtain.
His breath caught in his throat, as for a split second Sirius could have sworn it was the quiet, eleven year old boy with the mysterious scars littering his tiny body that was tangled up in the sheets. Sirius shook his head quickly and that image was replaced with the taller, lankier version of the no-longer-a-boy-but-almost-a-man thrashing back and forth on the mattress.
"No..." Remus moaned softly, eyes screwed tightly shut. Sirius' heart broke as he quickly debated the situation in his head. Remus might be angry with him if he slipped into bed beside him, as they were no longer a couple and trying to give each other space...but on the other hand...
Fuck it. He thought. He knelt down on the bed, closing the curtains around them. Tentatively he reached up and brushed the sweat soaked curls from the boy's forehead. "Moony, it's alright..." He whispered desperately, but Remus didn't wake up. Rather, he let out an anguished cry and nearly lifted off the mattress completely.
"I'm right here, Remus..." Sirius' voice shook as he tried to gently wake the boy to no avail. He sat back on heels, watching Remus' distraught fit and feeling his insides crumble to pieces. "I'm here, Moony..." He whispered again, before he shifted into a dog and crawled forward on his belly, resting his large, shaggy head on the werewolf's chest and whimpering softly.
After a moment, everything went still and quiet. Remus' breathing evened out and Padfoot licked the sleeping boy's tear stained face. He felt familiar fingers lace through his fur and Remus' heartbeat slowed back to a steady, calm rhythm that quickly lulled Padfoot to sleep.
The sun wasn't even up yet when Remus woke up to find himself in the all too familiar position, wrapped around the giant black dog with a face full of fur.
"Padfoot..." He croaked, his throat still felt raw from the moon the night before. He gently shook the dog until it opened one silvery grey eye. "Pads, change back..."
The dog sat up with a huge yawn, and he stretched and shook out his fur before obeying and turning back so that Sirius Black was now sitting in front of Remus. "Alright, Moony?" Sirius mumbled, rubbing his sleepy eyes. "'s early..."
Remus nodded. "I...Yes, I'm fine." He licked his lips. "Sorry if I woke you with...well..."
Sirius frowned at him. "You don't need to apologize, Remus." He laid down on his side beside him, propping his head up on one elbow. "Do you want to talk about it? It seemed pretty-"
"No." Remus said a little too quickly, taking Sirius aback. Remus sighed. "Sorry. N-no...I just...I'd rather forget about it."
Sirius stared at him for a few seconds, trying to read into something that Remus was determined to keep him out of. "Remus-"
"You can go back to your bed now, Sirius. I'm alright." He refused to meet Sirius' eyes.
"I don't mind staying with you." Sirius whispered. One of Sirius' hands crept over Remus' own and his thumb stroked over his knuckles. "Please, Moony...Let me stay. Let me fix this...I love y-"
"I want you to see other people." The words spilled from Remus' mouth before he had the chance to stop them and he finally looked up to meet the shocked, hurt eyes of the other boy.
"R-Remus, you don't-"
"I do, Sirius." Remus insisted, though his voice shook with emotion. "I want you to find someone else."
Sirius sat up, his eyes narrowing. "This is because of that stupid mating thing isn't it?"
"Yes." Remus breathed, looking away again.
"So-so you're telling me that you want me to go off and be someone else's boyfriend?" Sirius asked venomously. "You're saying, honestly, to my face that you want me to go around, I don't know, holding some other blokes' hand in the hall? Or kissing someone else behind the greenhouses?"
"You're saying it won't bother you in the slightest to know I'm off fucking someone else in all the places we've fucked? That's what you're honestly saying to me, Remus! That you want that and it won't bother you-!"
"It will kill me, Padfoot!" Remus said desperately, his eyes filled with emotions that Sirius had never seen before. Remus ran his hands through his hair, tugging in frustration. "Don't you understand, Sirius-?"
"The only thing I understand is that we are meant to be together...and that you know it as well as I do." Said Sirius quietly, his hands finding Remus' and squeezing them gently. "You love me, Moony-"
"It was never a question of whether or not I loved you, Padfoot." Remus sighed. "I'm sorry. I had a lot of time to think about this, and it's the right thing for us. You need to see other people-"
"Why?" Asked Sirius. Merlin he was so stubborn.
"Because..." Remus started slowly. He slumped down slightly, staring at his lap. "Because we've only ever been with each other. I can't ask you to bind yourself to me permanently when you've never given a proper try at finding someone that's..." He trailed off. He could feel Sirius' eyes going right through him.
"Someone that's what, Remus?" Sirius pressed on, his voice dripping with disdain for what he knew Remus was trying to say. "Go on, tell me! Someone that's better than you, right? Someone who isn't broken or cursed? Someone more suited for a spoilt little pureblood like me that can give me things like a future and a house and a family and all that white picket fence nonsense, is that it?"
Remus didn't answer. He simply hung his head in shame. Neither of them made a sound for a while. Then Sirius leaned forward, cupping Remus' cheek in his hand. "I love you." He said firmly. "And there is nothing that anyone else can give me that would make me love you any less. A future, a house, a family..." he shook his head. "They're nothing to me if you're not the one I'm sharing it with."
Remus' breath hitched and he felt himself leaning in almost completely subconsciously, wanting so badly to kiss Sirius' lips.
"But if that's what you want," Sirius said, abruptly bringing Remus back down to earth and the plan he insisted on sticking to. "Then fine. I'll see other people." Sirius got up from the bed, straightening his clothes and avoiding Remus' eyes.
Remus felt very cold at the sudden loss.
"And when it doesn't work out with these other people," Sirius went on, and Remus was shocked when he looked up to see a smirk crossing the boys lips. "Then we're doing things the way we both know we want them to be. Is that understood?"
Remus nervously licked his lips. He wanted to argue, but he had no other plan to avoid this. He nodded.
"Good." Said Sirius, suddenly sounding much more upbeat. "And by the way, I have so dated other people."
Remus rolled his eyes. "You and Marley barely kissed and you both ended up as gay as could be. That doesn't count. And neither do the random shags with blokes in the broom closets."
Sirius gave a dramatic sigh and shook his head. "So many bloody rules. Fine. We'll do it your way. But you're only hurting yourself, Moony." He walked back to his own bed.
Merlin I hope you're right. Thought Remus