The gossiping of birds outside greeted me nearly as cheerfully as the stream of sunshine filtering in through the window. My puffy eyed face was not in a state to give greeting back as I pulled on one corner of my bed hangings, lying in bed fully clothed. I knew all too well why I was in this state. And I felt ashamed.
The room lay quiet, all four other curtains drawn tight around the occupants inside the beds. I slunk off my bed as silent as I could and shrugged into clean clothes. With one last glance around the dormitory I stole out through the door and into a hushed common room. Only the earliest of risers were up at this time on a Sunday. Most found the weekends a prime opportunity to sleep in to make up for the sleep deprived weekdays.
I founda spot near the back of the room and curled into a chair. Nearby a girl of about second year read a book, dogged eared and worn, most likely a favorite and Muggle looking. Each student at Hogwarts had a story to tell. Hers was probably an exciting tale, finding out she was something special. And then she had to leave her family and her old way of life behind and such things are always hard.
I was no different from that girl.
But yet I was and worst of all I couldn't rid myself of the evil that had taken shelter within me. It was I now, a part of my very being.
I studied the girl from my spot, hoping she wouldn't suddenly feel my eyes glowing upon her and look up. I thought about what would happen if she ever discovered my secret. She probably didn't even know my name as I didn't know hers myself. She'd probably run to her friends, tell them all about the werewolf boy. They'd feed her stories of how vicious they were, but she'd already know from Muggle entertainments. She'd tell her parents, tell them of the dangers involved in being a wizard. They'd be alarmed. Her friends would tell their parents. Those with wizard parents would know what to do. They would contact Hogwarts immediately and I'd be sent out and forever shunned. In the time before that, students would avoid me in the halls, hide from my presence.
It was the truth. Sometimes I didn't blame them.
Sirius's words filtered through my head. I'll make people see you for who you really are if I have to. A faint smile danced across my lips briefly. If only swaying people were as simple as Sirius made it sound. I admired his valor, but saw its unrealistic aim.
I couldn't wash myself of everything he had said to me though, the way he had comforted me when the final strands of control I owned had been lost. I felt shameful for unburdening myself as I did upon my friend. But it had felt good to let it out at the same time. Too often I keep what I am feeling bottled up while putting on my face of calm. To be honest, I learned long ago that dwelling on the horrors of life does not make them go away and only adds to their burden. The way I handled things was easier and a much more intelligent maneuver, I felt. Some might think I was avoiding the issues, hiding away my worries and ignoring their presence. But I knew better than they that nobody wanted to listen to a young werewolf's woes. Except perhaps there was one who did. . . .
More students had begun to cascade down the dormitory steps, meeting with friends in the common room before making their expeditions to breakfast or wherever their day would bring them. Though I felt the urge to, I didn't bother rushing out. While I was not ready to speak to Sirius just yet, especially after the night before, I knew him well enough to be sure that he would not bring the subject up in front of the others. And he was certain not to rise at any early time, another fact I knew very well.
I was correct for when Sirius climbed down the dormitory steps, he was closely followed by James who was talking in his ear as Peter took up the rear. They stopped closely by the foot of the step, James never ceasing in what he was saying until Peter pointed out my location to Sirius who promptly changed their direction and led the small crew over. I remained in my seat, one eye upon them, the other watching the girl put away her book and join her own friends as I sighed inwardly.
"So, how does that sound then, Padfoot? I figure we might as well try for this evening after dinner since Quidditch basically takes up my week schedule and Remus has to keep us in during any and all free time to study for NEWTs. Not to mention Lily is making me take this Head Boy stuff seriously and all now," James was saying as they approached though I noticed Sirius wasn't really paying much attention.
"Moony! There you are! You really need to stop getting up so early."
I felt he was on the verge of continuing whatever he had been discussing with Sirius, however, Sirius interrupted him before he could begin.
"We can talk about this later after breakfast," he said much more gruffly than he usually did with James. I couldn't help but wonder whether his sharp manner had anything to do with any kind of annoyance in regards to the night before. I had thought he'd been genuine, but perhaps he had found my emotional issues too much to deal with.
In any case, we headed out of the portrait hole and found our way to the Great Hall for breakfast, which went by without much incident. Sirius seemed to finally loosen up enough to conspire with James while Peter listened intently. James was busy describing an elaborate plot involving Snape, Peeves, and a blast-ended newt when Lily appeared at his elbow.
"Excuse me," she said, one hand on her hip, wearing most stern look of disapproval she could muster. "How many times have I told you to leave that boy alone? What an example you're providing as Head Boy."
I watched in silence as Peter's eyes lit up, moving back and forth between Lily and James as they squabbled. The scene was slightly humorous, but not enough to keep myself from glancing over at Sirius. I caught his eyes with my own and he nodded his head toward the door slightly. I nodded and we both got up, vacating the table as Professor McGongall approached to discover the cause of such a commotion.
"She's a fiery one," Sirius said, referring to Lily as we walked down a corridor adorned with tapestries. I noticed that he sounded nervous and kept brushing his long hair from his face.
"Indeed she is," I agreed, doing my best to remain serene throughout our discourse, my thoughts resting on not making another scene. "Listen, Sirius, I'm terribly sorry for last night. I don't – "
"What? You're apologizing for having a nightmare? What are you daft Remus?" Sirius interrupted, his voice firm yet vaguely mocking. A quick look at his face revealed a smile. "You don't need to feel ashamed about that. I just did what you would have done in that situation. Besides, I should be the one who is apologizing. I wasn't fair to you yesterday."
The smile on his face slowly disappeared as he continued. I realized that we had stopped walking and were now taking up the middle of the hallway. I also knew that the conversation had turned back to dangerous territory, back to the topic of that crazy kiss.
"No, I shouldn't have assumed that you were confused or overwhelmed. I should have let you finish what you were saying. That was unfair of me," I replied, trying to remove the look of intense worry on his face, though I was unsure how. I could never consent to allowing Sirius to love me. In a flash, however, I realized that at that moment I wanted nothing more than to be able to be safe in his arms. But it would never be his duty to protect me.
"You're probably right Moony," Sirius smiled briefly. "You don't always need to tell me how I'm feeling. I don't always need to be so impatient though either. I threw a lot on you, and I understand that what I said didn't make a lot of sense. It's not normal or right for me to say that I love you."
There was a momentary pause where nothing happened. Sirius seemed to be building himself up to move onto his next point and I couldn't bring myself to do anything. All I knew was that I really needed to know what he had to say next. The conflict playing in his eyes told me that there was something he was fighting to say, or something he was fighting to not say.
"And you were probably right," he said at last, his eyes downcast, not quite looking at me anymore, hiding anything that might be expressed in them. He sounded slightly defeated, I couldn't help thinking. But maybe I was just imagining it. "I mean, I didn't mean to do what I did yesterday and maybe I jumped to conclusions too quickly by saying that I loved you. I just hope, that, you know, we can still be friends."
He finally looked back up, staring at me expectantly. "We can just pretend like it never happened if you want to," he added quickly. It felt like something was tugging at my chest slightly as he said that.
"Well, I wouldn't want it to hurt your reputation that this happened, so if you want to. . . ." I said slowly before adding, "And nothing will ever affect our friendship."
Relief filled his face as I said this. But something that happened before this caught me by surprise. For a brief moment there had been a frown, a look of rejection, a sign that I had in fact not said what he had been truly hoping for. He had wanted me to tell him that we should not act like the kiss had never happened. That was an impossibility.
"Well, I guess now that that is all squared away," Sirius began, appearing to be his cheerful, suave self again, only a hint of discontent showing through, "I need to go find out if Lily has truly interfered with our plans for tonight. Snape isn't going to know what hit him when were through with him. You should join us."
"No, thank you," I said softly. I wasn't quite in a mood at that moment to insist that Lily was probably right in stopping their plans to terrorize Snape. Perhaps later in the day if they still planned on following through with it. At that moment though, I just wanted to find a nice window and sit down and watch the world go by.
I watched as Sirius turned away, catching his features fall as he did so. Or maybe I had only been hoping to see that. As he walked away, I felt a strong desire to follow after him. And tell him what? Sirius was my friend and even if I did like him in a way more than that, it was best to ignore it. He had been kind to me in my moment of collapse, and it had caused me to believe I felt something more. On top of the previous incident, it was no wonder my mind had traveled to this conclusion. But the kiss meant nothing. I could never be in a relationship with anyone anyway.
I took in a deep breath, pressing my back to the wall for a second. The surge of emotion I suddenly felt toward Sirius was unnerving, but I knew that I had made the only decision I could have made in that scenario. And with this idea set into my mind, I composed myself and began to make my way back to the common room.