Author: lone astronomer PM
Sirius Black's best friend means everything to him. But in a world where 'love' and 'compassion' are dirty words, how can theyreally survive? For those of you who thought that line from PoA should have read, 'Black embraced Lupin like a lover.'Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Remus L. & Sirius B. - Words: 3,203 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 1 - Published: 10-19-01 - id: 434706
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Summary: Sirius Black's best friend means everything to him. But in a world where 'love' and 'compassion' are dirty words, how can they really survive? For those of you who thought that line from PoA should have read, 'Black embraced Lupin like a lover.'
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling, and I am making no profit whatsoever from this.
Part One: Believing
Sometime before graduation in his 7th year, Sirius reflects on his friend's lives, loves, and What's Wrong with the World Today.
A young man sits in the darkest corner of the room, not caring if anyone thinks he is brooding. It is the truth, anyway. On his lap is the latest model of the Silver Arrow, which he is servicing; it is the best broomstick available and he is very protective of it, though he doesn't much care for the name. A loud crash in front of the fireplace grabs his attention and he glances up almost sullenly. When he does, we are drawn to his eyes, dark and sorrowful and so very depthless and we are falling, out of control, into the windows of his soul…
Something roughly Peter Pettigrew-shaped picks himself up off of the floor, brushing off his robes. Such mishaps are common occurrences for him; nobody even bothers to tease him about it anymore. I think that's because the last time, James almost hauled off and socked him. It's not Peter's fault that he's clumsy. "Are you alright, Peter?" I ask, knowing the answer.
"I'm okay," he answers, sounding embarrassed. He often does. He hasn't always been like that, he just started recently, but I guess the awkwardness of puberty has just set in on poor Peter.
I nod, not really a response, and go back to work on my broomstick. Sometimes it helps to take my mind off of my thoughts, but tonight I can't seem to concentrate on the task. I look up, out the window at the night sky. The moon is waning, now, and my friend is safe from the demons within him, but Peter and I know that the moon's pull was extremely strong last night and Remus is still in the hospital wing, recovering.
The portrait hole swings open and two more fellow seventh years walk in, momentarily distracting me from even more melancholy, pessimistic philosophizing. I recognize Lily Evans and James Potter- that is, one of my best friends and his girlfriend, Head Boy and Girl at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. James is a great friend, but lately, I find that there are things I can't talk to him about. Things he wouldn't understand.
Lily takes my mind off that, for the time being. "Hello, Peter," she says amiably, "Sirius." She's always smiling, even these days, with the Dark Lord and his minions taking over the world. It's refreshing. She really is a beautiful person, inside and out.
"Hey, Lily," I answer, trying my best to sound like my usual, charming, incorrigible marauding self. I manage, to some extent- James doesn't seem to notice anything wrong, anyway.
Lily does. Nothing ever slips by her. But she evidently decides to ask me about it later, when we can find a more private place to talk about it. I don't relish the idea; she already knows far too much for her own good.
"Remus is out of the hospital wing," James says. I wonder if he has been reading my mind, and also if he catches the expression of relief on my face. Then, "Adder is making him serve his detention tonight."
I swear violently at this despite the fact that I rarely do in Lily's presence- cursing somehow seems like a personal insult to her. Adder is the Potions teacher, and Head of Slytherin House. He has a great loathing for us Gryffindors, Remus in particular, and the feeling is mutual. That is, most Gryffindors hate him. Remus doesn't hate anybody. He's above that.
Lily doesn't look as shocked at my tirade as I expected her to, which further proves my point about her knowing far too much. James looks more shocked, which is a bit harder to understand, but realization dawns on me when I hear their next exchange of words.
"You were right," Lily says, smiling wanly. This is not a genuine smile. Something is going on here without my consent.
"So were you," James answers, and I see the almost imperceptible tightening of his muscles beneath the sleeve of his robe that means he's just squeezed her hand. Lily nods slowly, and in a flash I interpret what has just gone on before me.
He doesn't show it like I thought he would. There should be some sign somewhere on his face, disgust, doubt- but all I can make out in his expression is resignation and reluctant acceptance. They must have talked about this before. That means that Lily knows, too- of course she does. She doesn't seem at all surprised. I wonder how long she's known.
Peter, bless him, interrupts the sudden, uncomfortable silence. "Right about what?" he asks confusedly. Lily gives James a pointed look and he sighs, turning toward our friend. She gives me the same one and, knowing there is nothing left, I follow her out of the common room. There is much explaining to be done.
We stop just outside the portrait of Sir Cadogan, the insane knight in somewhat rusty armor- his canvas needs a good cleaning- and Lily speaks the password in a low voice. James and I discovered this room a long time ago while on the run from Filch and Mrs. Norris; it's proved invaluable to our escapades. Inside, I flop down on a cushion in one corner and wait for the third degree.
It doesn't come. I should know Lily better than that by now. "How long have you known?"
"Only a few minutes," she answers. That surprises me. I'd thought her powers of deduction were better than that. Then she adds, "But I've suspected for weeks."
That makes more sense. Lily has a kind of way with these things. I ask, "Is James telling Peter?"
She laughs a little. "No, Sirius, James won't tell Peter. That poor bugger couldn't keep a secret to save his soul. He'll have to figure it out himself, if he wants to know."
"That's a relief." Do I dare ask about Remus? Does he…? No, I know I can't ask Lily to betray a friend's secret like that. She'd be furious with me for even asking. So I don't ask.
Lily says, "You should talk to him about it. Try to make him understand…"
I shake my head. "I can't," I reply. There is no way to expose myself like that without being ridiculed. She knows that. She should, anyway.
Apparently she doesn't. In fact, she looks and sounds very, very angry. "Why not?" she demands loudly, crossly. "And give me an answer this time, Sirius."
Maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all, I reflect. But there's no turning back now. I sigh. "Did I ever tell you…"
My mum had a brother once who was the other way inclined. Her family disowned him when they found out. She's not very open with things like these. I know Mum misses her brother, but the fact is that the entire subject is so taboo that we aren't even allowed to look at the empty spot at the table on Christmas wrong. If she knew about Remus, well... I want to make her happy, but the fact of the matter is that even though my being with Remus will break her heart, being without him will break mine.
My father might take the news a bit better. Unfortunately, he is somewhat influenced by his so-called better half and there's no chance whatsoever of talking to him about Remus without Mum finding out.
Then there're just the facts of life. People catcall and hiss at and are generally opposed to seeing two men showing any sign of affection toward each other. Even two… normal… men. They think it's wrong. It disgusts them. I'm not too sure what to think myself. It's different for me because my sexual preference has nothing to do with gender. Remus… Remus transcends gender. Most people can't, and don't, understand. They don't even want to understand.
It is at this point in my explanation that I notice the tears in Lily's eyes, probably because I hadn't been able to look at her during the first few paragraphs. I look away, knowing that if I watch them fall then I, too, will succumb. "In this world," I say quietly, hoping this can finish off our little discussion, "love and compassion are dirty words. How could we survive?"
I hear her sniffle, and then swallow, and then I know it's safe to look up and Lily smiles that weak not-smile at me and squeezes my hand. If no one else ever understands, I know she does. She's probably the only one that will ever know exactly why I can never tell my best friend that I'm in love with him.
It seems like only days before the next full moon is upon us, which is somewhat odd. The days themselves stretch out into almost-eternities but the weeks just seem to fly.
It's just me and Remus this time. Peter has something… detention, I think?- and James is with Lily. I'm not sure in how many senses the word 'with' can be applied in this case, but that's their business. So I guess we're staying in the Shrieking Shack. It doesn't matter, though, as long as Remus isn't alone this time. Last time he just about tore himself apart. It was awful. On the plus side, I came up with a fairly accurate schedule of when it's okay to get detention in order not to have one on a full moon.
Remus has always been insistent that I take on my Animagus form before his Change, as it's the only guarantee he won't maul me, kill me, or turn me into a werewolf. Not that he ever would. He has more self-control than anyone I've ever met. Or maybe I'm just being naïve. It doesn't matter. Remus would never let me be here if I wasn't absolutely safe, anyway.
So I sit here and watch him in monochrome vision and amazing, vibrant surround-smell, as the Change comes over him. I know the moment it starts- I can smell his pain and his fear. Those amazing sea-gray eyes close to block it out but I can smell it, and if I were human I'd be able to see it and feel it, too, but right now I'm not human and I can't comfort him in moments like these. That hurts me, too.
The hair on his arms is thickening lengthening, and his fingers are curling. There is a sort of tearing sound as claws rip from his palms, and it is echoed by the sounds of similar claws tearing from his feet. He folds up, as he always does when the Change gets too much for him, and after a few more seconds of agony that I can't watch he is finished. Dear gods, I can still smell the pain on him, stronger than ever; make it go away…
The Wolf is staring at me blankly. This is not Remus anymore, I know; this is something different and more sinister and Remus is just a nagging little voice in the back of its mind trying to fight his way to the surface. But at least the Wolf doesn't feel like fighting tonight. That's good. It's less work for Remus that way, and he's been acting strangely lately as it is; he doesn't need to exert the extra effort.
Effort. I don't even want to think about what he needs to do to control himself sometimes. Everything he does when people are watching is a carefully orchestrated façade, a ruse, an act to cover what goes on backstage. I've seen him backstage. I know who he is.
I know who he isn't, too.
He's not a bloodthirsty monster and he's not meek. Everyone seems to think one or the other, but I know the truth. He is withdrawn, except with the best of friends, but he has so much capacity for emotion- he cares about everything, and that was hard to understand at first, but I know better now. He's not someone who would tell a lie for any reason other than the absolutely obvious ones. I don't even think he's capable of lying.
And he cares about everyone. It doesn't sound possible, I know. It's crazy. It's irrational. And it's completely true. He values life more than anything else, even the lives of those who make his existence a living hell. It's a complicated sort of being, living like that. I've seen him people-watch for hours and he understands them. After ten minutes, he knows their life stories, what makes them tick, who makes them cry, their secret desires…
I guess I'm just lucky that I'm a better actor than he is. There's no telling what he would think if he knew my secret desire. Although Lily and James know now… maybe it's not such a secret.
But my senses return to the Wolf, now growling agitatedly at the door, and when it turns its attention to me something in the yellow eyes is reminiscent of pity. Or understanding, or compassion, or I don't know what but gods damn it it's there.
The Wolf knows.
Remus does not.
It's graduation day and everyone is nervous. Emotions are running at an all-time high. The four of us, James, Remus, Peter and I, don't say much. I cast one last glance around the dormitory that's been home for seven years, and it's not home anymore. Peter's socks have been collected from under his bed and Remus' drawings aren't scattered about anymore and James' books of Quidditch tactics have all been carefully stacked in his trunk. We will miss this place more than anything we've missed before, and will likely never see it again.
"Are you ready?" James asks us finally, turning his gaze away from the door. He is going to be strong about this, we know. He is stronger than all of us, except maybe Remus.
"Let's do it," I say, and he opens the door and we walk down to the common room, holding our heads high.
James meets up with Lily at the bottom. Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are red and it's very obvious that she's been crying, but when she sees James it's like nothing else matters; she comes alive, she smiles genuinely, even if she's still a little sad to be leaving. I'm happy for them- they have a Life ahead of them. People like them are our future.
I fall into step behind them, Remus and Peter on either side of me, and we leave Gryffindor Tower for the last time. We none of us look back.
The graduation is almost about to take place as we take our seats on the folding chairs outside. It is the most beautiful day that Hogwarts has ever seen and I know I will remember it like this for the rest of my life. Every brick of the old building is ingrained in my memory; every ripple on the lake frozen in time. This is our day. No one can take it away from us.
Dumbledore introduces Lily and James, who stand up to make speeches because that's what the Head Boy and Girl do at graduations, and we all stand up and applaud and a hundred white doves are released from their cages and fly off into the sun. One of them stays long enough to leave a gift on Snape's head and Remus looks at me knowingly. I smile and shrug helplessly. I have to keep up appearances, after all.
We are all called up, one by one, to receive our wizarding certificates and then we sit down again. I watch Remus go up and shake Dumbledore's hand, and McGonagall's, and then James' and Lily's, and even though he's wearing a smile and this is a big achievement for him, I can tell that he's about to break down. He never expected to have this opportunity at all, and yet there he is and he doesn't want to leave, either.
Patricia Zalinger receives her diploma and sits down and Dumbledore says a last few words that, no matter how hard I try, I will never quite remember. We stand up and toss our hats in the air and that's the end for us, no more Hogwarts and no more childhood and now that we're adults I wonder if things will be different.
We gather together for one last lazy afternoon by the lake and for once we are quiet, pensive. The ring on Lily's finger escapes exactly no one's attention but we decide to leave that lie for now and razz James about it later; this moment cannot be disturbed. We are here, together, for the last time.
The sun sets and the pink sky fades; a sliver moon appears in the sky and the summer day turns to night, but that lake and that castle will remember us forever. We lived for them, once, and even though we're leaving and new students will be there to make the walls ring with laughter Hogwarts will never be the same. But Hogwarts has never stayed the same. It's the people that give it its personality, not the building.
People like us? I know there aren't many. Kindred spirits are sort of hard to come by. Times will change us, and fates will tempt us, and we will not always be together.
But that's okay. We have a future to look forward to, a past we can reflect back upon, and a present to live in. I intend on doing every one of those things.
Just as soon as I figure out how.