Author's Note: Shay, I apologise but I couldn't do anything but be angsty! It's s angsty and I'm sorry if you were hoping for happy fluff! Forgive me!
GGE - Shay - Remus/Sirius (song) Pompeii by Bastille
Sticker Collection - Gryffindor Collection - Nearly Headless Nick - Write about a ghost
Tea Challenge - Nutty Chocolate - Write Sirius/Remus
Bath Bomb Challenge - Crazy Stupid Love - Write about a dangerous romance or relationship
365 Prompts - 148. (genre) hurt/comfort
Insane House Challenge - 439. (word) Pyrrhic (successful with heavy losses)
Word Count: 2854
But if you close your eyes, would it almost feel like nothing's changed at all?
Pompeii - Bastille
As if Nothing's Changed at All
Remus didn't really know why in times of crisis he always found his way back to the Shrieking Shack. It had always held such horrible memories of pain and loneliness but it was also the only place he had ever been free to let go. And, as he stumbled blindly up the rickety staircase, all Remus wanted to do was let go.
It had been such a pyrrhic mission. Everything had been going so well. They were extracting Harry from danger; they were winning the battle against the various death eaters.
The veil had made him pause. He didn't know if it was his extra senses as a wolf or if it was just a human instinct that sent goosebumps rippling across his skin the second they entered the room.
His ankle twisted on a loose floorboard at the top of the stairs and he tumbled. The door frame to the main room broke his fall and as his shoulder collided with the rotten wood stars danced across his vision.
Remus kept his head down and ate his bowl of cereal as quickly as possible. It was early and blessedly quiet in the Great Hall - Saturday morning usually were. Only a few bright eyed early birds and half asleep zombies sat buttering their toast.
His goal was to get in and get out quickly, whilst also making sure to steal enough food so he could skip lunch. He planned to disappear into the darkest, most forgotten corner of the library until dinner time. No one would see his haggard appearance or winces of pain there.
He was shovelling the last few mouthfuls of his breakfast when he heard footsteps approaching down the long line of tables.
"You're right there James, it was a really beautiful full moon last night. I swear I could almost hear howli- woah there Remus! You might choke if you keep wolfing your food down like that!"
Remus felt his shoulders stiffen and he let his head drop lower, hoping his slightly longer hair would hide the worst of his baggy eyes as his friends approached. They didn't know how close to the mark the had come.
"Yeah Lupin, if you don't paws for breath we'll have to take you to Pomfrey!"
Sirius gave James a pointed look as they slid onto the bench opposite him. Remus didn't know what it meant but he didn't question them. "What are you doing up this early on a Saturday?" he asked instead.
James laughed loudly and it made Remus pause. "What a tall tail, Remus!" he slapped a hand on the table.
Remus looked at his friend from under his eyelashes, frowning with concern. The pair were almost hysterical by this point. Something was wrong.
"What on earth are you two howling about at this time in the morning?" Peter yawned sitting down across from them.
"Remus thinks we don't get up early!" Sirius cackled. "He's so cute and confused, like a little mooncalf."
It was then that Remus realised what he had been subconsciously been picking up. They were emphasising words - wolf words. It was a moment of fight or flee and as the panic threatened to choke him, Remus shot to his feet.
Peter's hand latched onto his wrist, making the young werewolf pause before running off. He turned to look for the fear on their faces, but there was none. Peter, Sirius and James grinned at him, pride and excitement shining on their 12-year-old faces.
They didn't care.
The biting pain in his chest was enough to pull Remus out of his dazed memory. He remembered how shocked he had been at their blase attitude. That they were so willing to disregard the monster inside of him and befriend the timid boy on the outside.
And now he was the last.
Bitter tears stung at his eyes and he closed them tight. He desperately tried to quell the rushing tide of emotion as he considered the last 14 years. The loss of James first, to the unforgiving death curse. Then the double blow of losing Peter and Sirius in the same day. Condemned to spend 12 years alone, questioning all they had been together, until being reunited for only 2 years.
It was not enough.
He stood by the grimy window in the recently named Shrieking Shack. The night was just beginning to darken and most people would be making their way back to their common rooms after dinner. Any second the moon would start to rise and his blood would begin to sing.
He was half fear, half excitement and it sickened him.
He sighed, idly tracking patterns on the dirty glass as he waited for the inevitable. The door was locked, the chains were ready and when he felt the change coming for him he would secure himself. He hadn't needed Dumbledore's help for years now.
"Wow Moony, those chains are a bit extreme aren't they?"
Remus gasped at the familiar voice and whirled to see his three friends standing in the doorway. They smiled at him, the same proud, excited grins they had given him years ago.
"What are you doing here?" he hissed at them, horrified. He glanced back at the window, even though he knew the moon would not change him for at least an hour yet, before glaring at the three. "Get out of here! I could kill you!"
James scoffed as he swaggered into the room. "Don't flatter yourself, we're not that easy to get rid of."
"Please," Remus begged desperately, moving towards them to try and force them from the room. "Please, I- I couldn't live with myself."
But they didn't seem to care for his anguish if the cheeky smiles on their faces were anything to go by. He thought they understood the danger that he was but obviously not. Remus drew his wand and opened his mouth to summon a patronus to Dumbledore, but they stunned him into silence.
Before his eyes they began to shift and transform, their bodies melting, shrinking and elongating until where his three very human friends had once stood there was now a majestic stag, a shaggy black dog and a squeaking rat. The dog yapped happily at him.
"Y-you did what?"
He shook his head in a desperate attempt to clear the ghosts from his vision. That meeting had taken place in this very room and their smiles and their hope swam around him. It made Remus sick to his stomach to think how naive they had once been about the future. When his biggest problem had been stopping James from throwing himself at Lily and making it through the full moon without hurting anyone.
He had never expected to look back on those as simpler times.
Remus staggered away from the door and moved into the room. It had been almost 2 years since anyone had last been here and the floor was thick with dust. The slight light from the murky windows allowed Remus to look around and he noticed that the rickety bed was still collapsed in on itself from where they had stupefied Severus.
A childish smile tugged at his reluctant face as he remembered Sirius' glee.
"You know, you shouldn't taunt and provoke him like that. It upsets Lily."
"Bah," Sirius scoffed as he slid down the tree to sit in the cool grass beside Remus. They were on the edge of the forbidden forest, in the heat of summer and Remus had just watched Sirius and James taunt Severus to the point where it broke into a duel.
It hadn't last more than a few almost harmless hexes before Lily, a redheaded fury, had interrupted them and sent both parties scurrying with tails between their legs. James was currently grovelling down by the lake.
"Lily doesn't care about that snake anymore."
"He was her best friend and her only connection to magic for years. He wounded her deeply, and she is far too sensible to keep such friends, but that doesn't mean she doesn't care about him Sirius. The heart isn't that simple."
"What would you know about the heart?" Sirius grumbled, a slight stain on his cheeks at the scolding.
Remus looked over at his handsome friend. Sirius had pale skin and long, dark hair. It hung roguishly over his face and angular cheekbones. His lips were full and pink and his eyes were a stormy, grey. "I might not have your experience with women," he conceded feeling something bitter stir in his heart, "but I know more about the finer emotions in life."
"Love?" Sirius looked up at him and Remus felt momentarily pinned by the sharp searching gaze. "Who do you love?" his voice was small.
Remus opened his mouth but no sounds came out. He felt heat climb up his neck that had nothing to do with the weather. You, he wanted to tell him. I love you. But he couldn't; it wasn't right to harbour these feelings for his friend, nothing could ever come of it anyway. Not with what he was.
He stuttered and stammered before managing to force a half coherent sentence from his trembling lips. "W-well I d-didn't mean love, exactly. M-more friendship. I am more i-intune with how Lily would feel as a-a friend."
"A friend?" Sirius murmured, looking somewhere south of his eyes.
"Y-yes, feelings for a," he gulped, "friend." Not that his words mattered, for it didn't seem like Sirius had been listening to him anyway as he leant forward and pressed his cool lips to Remus's still trembling ones.
The childish smile turned small and sad. He had been so lost and confused in that moment. His feelings had run awry and Remus could tell that even Sirius - dashing, daring, fearless Sirius - had been confused and scared in the aftermath of that moment. They had blushed and stuttered and fled, not speaking until the next day and not bringing up the moment for near six months.
He chuckled and shook his head, wishing he could go back, to tell himself to dive straight in because moments like that would be few and far between and that every single second was precious.
Remus dropped to his knees in the centre of the room, eyes fixed on the point where Sirius had soothed him all those years ago. What would be the point in telling his younger self to stay away because there could only be pain in their future?
His fingers traced an idle 's' in the dust around him. Sirius was a drug that Remus had used to survive, and now he was cut off forever.
"Honestly, these Muggles have the best ideas, and none of it has to do with magic! Did you see that big machine they used to make coffees?" Sirius gushed as he sat down in the plush armchair opposite Remus. They had chosen a window seat, but it had steamed up against the rainstorm outside.
"We could have just apparated home and had free coffee," Remus pointed out sullenly.
"Why miss out on the experience? Can you imagine what my mother would say if she saw me now? Dressed like a Muggle, spending Muggle money, drinking a coffee that isn't pumpkin flavoured!"
"They do offer a pumpkin spiced latte," Remus pointed out the sign over the counter.
Sirius frowned at him and Remus immediately felt bad. He was being sour and grumpy all because…
"Here we go guys!" the perky waitress approached the table. She cocked her hip as she placed their coffees on the table and flipped her hair. "Is there anything else I can get you?" she asked, her back to Remus as she dazzled Sirius with the brunt of her smile. He glowered as she puffed up her chest.
"No," he told her curtly and she threw a sour look over her shoulder at his dismissal. Obviously, the question hadn't been directed at him.
"No, thank you Jessica," Sirius grinned at her, reading the name off her name tag.
"Well, you just let me know if there's anything you need," she smiled sauntering away.
"Why on earth were you so rude to her there?" Sirius asked a worried frown creasing his face as he leant across the low table towards Remus.
He looked at the other man's earnest face and took a deep breath. He steeled himself and opened his mouth to say his piece when…
"No. Don't. Not again." Sirius's own tone was curt as he sat back and glared at him. Remus stared at him in open shock. "That is your 'I'm not good enough for you. That pretty girl made eyes at you and you should drop me like a hot rock and run after her' face and I'm not going to sit here and listen to you again."
"Well, maybe not like a hot rock," Remus said slowly. It was not a feeling he was ever going to shake. He had spent so many years getting used to not being with anyone and this was very new territory. He was always self deprecating.
"I want to be with you. I choose to be with you." He leant forward and pointed a finger at Remus. "You don't get to decide if I get to be with you, unless you don't want to be."
Remus smiled, properly scolded. "I don't think that will ever happen."
It was one of the last moments they had shared. James and Lily had been slaughtered only the next day. Harry had been condemned to a life of misery at the hand of muggles and less than a week later Peter had 'died' and Sirius had been imprisoned. It had been a dark time of his life.
Not that it had gotten any better. A werewolf alone was an awful thing. He had come to rely heavily on his friends to deal with his time of the month and the war had cost him many friends. Even though it was a time of peace there was still no acceptance for his kind.
Though he would take another 12 years of isolation if it meant he knew that Sirius was alive and well, somewhere in the world living his life as recklessly as he always had.
If he had never gone to save Harry.
Remus had known the second they entered that death sat patiently in that room. Even amongst the chaos of the battle he could hear the whispers and sense their presence. The dead.
Even as a grown man he wanted to turn tail and run but there was no option but to fight, and fight he did. Spells streaked across the room as members of the order rushed to intercede on the behalf of the teenagers. It was impressive, almost impossible, that they had managed to hold them off for this long and Remus knew Dumbledore was not far behind.
He saw Sirius jump into the fray, knocking Dolhov out of the way of Harry and an obviously cursed Neville. He had no time to intercede as another death eater blocked his view.
Remus took out one, almost two of his opponents, but a wild eyed Tonks managed to see to his second enemy. She grinned fiercely at him before running off, but that's when he saw it.
Sirius was locked in battle with his cousin, Bellatrix, and he was doing what he always did. He was taunting her recklessly, not paying attention to how close to that horrific veil he was getting.
Remus opened his mouth to shout out and warn him, but it was two late.
He ducked the first flash of red light - jumping back up, grinning and taunting her - but the second caught him squarely in the chest. The laughter had not left his face but his eyes widened in shock and Remus felt the bile rise in his throat.
He started to move, knowing he would never reach Sirius before the veil engulfed him. Harry's broken screams were the only thing that kept him from diving through as well.
Though if he hadn't loved the boy the way he did, hadn't burned as bright as he did, Remus wouldn't have loved him. It was his own fatal flaw to be so attached to the candle that would be the hottest, but live the shortest.
Longing and grief rolled over him in waves until the tears poured from his eyes and he sucked air into his lungs. His body wracked and shaked with uncontrollable sobs and he banged his hands against the floor until they were sore and bleeding. He ranted and raved and sobbed and whimpered until his tears had dried to salt in on his cheeks and his arms hung limp at his sides.
Remus tipped forward until his forehead came to rest on the dusty, rotten floorboards.
Perhaps if he closed his eyes, just for a moment, he could pretend that Sirius would come here to comfort him. As if nothing had changed at all.
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Much Love, MaryandMerlin x