Title: Not Going to Ask

Author: Erika

Rating: PG

Summary: It's the night of the full moon. Sirius' and Remus' friendship is on the mend but will Moony allow Padfoot to accompany him during the transformation?

Timeframe: Remus, Sirius, James, and Peter are sixth-years.

Spoilers: For PoA

Category: Angst, POV

Disclaimers: Hogwarts and all of its characters belong to JK Rowling, I'm only borrowing them to have a little fun and I promise to return them unharmed (well, at least mostly unharmed 0). I'm making no money from this and this is written for entertainment purposes only.

Feedback: Both positive feedback and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated and will be cherished!

Archive: Please ask first. )

Author's Note: This is a short sequel to my story "Absolution," which can be found on my website. I would recommend reading it first.

Not Going to Ask


"You know, your imitation of reading might be more convincing if you actually tried turning the page every once in a while." James' words were teasing but his voice was sympathetic.

Sighing, I closed the book and set it aside. What was the point anyway? I had read the same sentence about twenty times and still had no idea what it said. My mind simply wasn't in it. I just couldn't stop thinking about Remus and the promise I had made him after finding out that he was a werewolf. I had sworn to always be there with him during the full moons.

I had broken that promise three times. The first was when I had told Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow and had then spent the rest of the night explaining my actions to Dumbledore. The second was the very next month after my horrendous mistake, when Remus had told me that he didn't want me to go with him. The third was on the full moon just after the Christmas holidays. That time, Remus hadn't said anything. He had just glanced at me and left the room. I had wanted to take that as an invitation to join him but had known that it wasn't. So again, I had stayed behind.

I hated it. I hated not being there. I hated sitting on my bed during moonrise, knowing that Remus was in pain and that there was nothing I could do to help him. Most of all, I hated knowing that I deserved it. I had betrayed Remus' trust. I had shown no regard for his condition by so easily giving his secret away to Snape. I had very nearly allowed him to kill a fellow student, something which would have gotten him executed for murder. Now, the consequences for my actions were mine to bear.

I had nearly lost my friendship with Remus. No. I could still lose my friendship with Remus. He was trying to rebuild what had been between us. So was I. We were talking more now, even hanging out again. When I had gotten sick last weekend, he had kept me company all day in the hospital wing. James and Peter had gone to Hogsmeade. There was still an unspoken tension between us, though. I didn't know what was going to happen. Maybe things would improve. Maybe they wouldn't.

I wanted them to, though. Even though I knew that I didn't deserve it, I wanted Remus to trust me again, to really be my friend. So I was waiting. I was giving Remus the time that he had told me he needed. I was letting him advance things as he saw fit. That was why I never sat by him in class or in the Great Hall. I let him sit by me. That was why I never entreated his help when I was struggling in Defense Against the Dark Arts. I let him offer. And that was why I would never ask if I could join him during the full moons. I would let him tell me I could.

Would he tell me tonight? It was the full moon again. I had been thinking about it all day, hoping that he would let me come, wanting to ask and yet somehow always restraining myself. Disappointedly, I had to admit that he probably wasn't going to. He had left the room over an hour ago to go study in the library. Since it was nearly moonrise I had to assume that he had gone directly from there to join Madam Pomfrey.

I lowered my head. I was going to break my promise yet again.

"What are you going to do tonight?" I regretted the question even before I finished speaking. Was I trying to make this harder for myself?

"The same thing we did last month," James replied, a strange clipped quality to his voice, "Stay inside the shack."

That I hadn't been expecting. "What? Why?"

"Because I can't handle Moony without you. I can't keep him away from people," his response was quiet but I could hear the edge in it.

Swallowing thickly, I fixed my eyes on the fading blankets of my bed. Just when I thought that I couldn't possibly feel guilty about something else… Being able to run outside made the full moons actually semi-enjoyable for Remus. Now I had him locked back up in the shack again. He hated the shack. It felt like a prison to him.

I was his friend. How could I have done this to him?

"It's time to go." I looked up when James spoke. "Come on, Peter."

Silently, I watched as James and Peter ducked under the invisibility cloak and vanished from my sight. A few seconds later, the door of our dorm room opened and shut. They were gone. I was alone.

Closing my eyes, I curled up on my bed.

Wasn't guilt, like pain, supposed to fade with time? Why was this still so hard for me? Why did I still feel so horrible? Why did I still have nightmares about Remus being put to death, every single bloody night? Why did I have to hurt whenever I looked at Remus? Why did things have to be this way?

I had thought that trying to be a good friend to Remus would help. And sometimes it did. Last week, when Remus noticed that I was having trouble with the Defense Against the Dark Arts essay, he had offered to let me copy his. I had refused, partly because I understood that it would be better for me to actually learn the material but mostly because I knew that Remus would prefer for me to do the work myself.

Remus had turned to me, a thoughtful look in his eyes, and said that I had changed. Then he had smiled. I had felt wonderful, like I was showing him that I could be a good friend and that he could trust me. It hadn't lasted, though. It never did. Something always reminded me of what I had done. Something always made my guilt return full force.

The full moons were always the worst. It seemed that in their cruel light I could not escape the reality of what I had done.

"Sirius?" a voice said from directly beside my bed.

I drew in an abrupt mouthful of air. I hadn't heard anyone come in. Quickly, I opened my eyes and sat up. The surprise vanished and was replaced by worry. "Remus? You need to get to shack! James and Peter are probably already there."

Remus smiled reassuringly. "Relax. I still have some time."

Deciding that no one would know the exact time of moonrise better than a werewolf, I nodded. "Why are you here?"

"I feel bad for not having said anything when I left for the shack last month. I didn't want to do the same thing again." His quiet words were laced with regret.

Remus was the kindest person I knew. Still, his consideration always managed to surprise me. "Remus, you don't have to explain. You don't owe me anything. I understand that you don't want me there."

"I do want you there. It's just not that simple. I can't force myself to trust you," he paused. "I owe you a lot, Sirius," he continued, tone unusually soft. I could barely make out what he was saying. "That's why I wanted to tell you…" His voice dwindled as he considered what to say.

I wanted to urge him to continue but instead sat there in silence, waiting.

"Maybe next time. Maybe next time Padfoot can run with Moony." He reached forward and pressed a hand to my shoulder. For a moment he held it there, his touch a comforting weight against my skin. Then he smiled and silently slipped from the room.

Taking a deep breath, I watched the door shut behind him and felt some of my sadness fade.

Maybe next time. Padfoot can run with Moony. The words echoed in my head.

Maybe next time. Maybe after a month's more time. That was it. I smiled. Things would get better. I just needed to give it more time.