The moon is full above me; it glares harshly down upon the forest that I am to roam within, its light almost blinding to my sensitive wolf's eyes. As I enter the folds of the leaves, shadows are cast about. They play familiar games within the treetops and on the soft bedding of the soil. Animals, devils, and angels all engage in a wondrous display of beauty and carnage, seemingly mirroring my own inner turmoil.
My soul is analogous: a beautiful carnage.
Who am I?
Am I man or beast?
These are questions that I have struggled with for almost longer than I can bear. As a human, I am kind and gentle, loving and bright; but on that one night out of every month, I become the picture perfect Hollywood villain: I grow fur, fangs, a snout, and a temper, and I wander the grounds searching for something to eat, for something to kill.
This is my curse.
I am a vile thing, and I am sure that the weight on my shoulders would have long since flattened me were it not for the help I received from my small group of utterly and implicitly trusted friends. James, Sirius, and Peter are the family that I have not had since the day that I was bitten; and though they may not completely understand it, what they have done for me is so completely pure and indescribable that I know that I will never even come close to repaying it.
The transformations were horrid once, painful and debilitating. It used to be that I wouldn't be able to function for the several days before or after the full moon. That all changed when I arrived at Hogwarts. When I met the other Marauders, there was no fairy tale instance of instant trust; James simply chose to seat himself in my already occupied compartment. Sirius came in—loudly—later; Peter we met on the boat.
As our friendship and my secret was exposed, they became a crutch, an aid that has not once since broken.
We will be together forever; I think.
With their help, my progress with the wolf has grown. I am more in control, though never fully so, and this thought is a constant fright. Not even The Shrieking Shack could hold the beast if it broke free, and then what? What if it attacked a student?
I would be held responsible, legally and morally.
But none of these thoughts bother me in the slightest when the wolf is in control, as it is now. It knows only its basic instincts: to bite, to feed, to fight, and to kill.
A werewolf's senses are increased exponentially, especially as the beast; and it is no small wonder that there is said to be nothing capable of hiding from them.
Thus, I can smell her. Her scent is divine to me; and even though the tiny molecules are inhaled through the wolf's nostrils, it is I who recognizes her.
Who in the world let her out tonight?
She smells vaguely of strawberries and crème, an old muggle shampoo and conditioner mixture that James had once stolen and used to cover the Slytherin corridors. She'd been mad at him for days; but eventually she could find no fault in the humor, and she forgave him.
They got back together.
It was expected: they always do.
Innocent and just indignation positively radiates off of her, swirling into an infinite pattern of the blurring and sense-rushing aromas of youth. It is music to the wolf's hollowed ears, and a low rumble begins deep in its throat. It can feel that she is bathed in a shower of hurt and anger, vulnerable; and it is obvious to me as I lie back in the shallows of its mind, the beast in a now-frenzied control, what has happened.
She and James have had another lover's spat, obviously. Merlin only knows what about. They seem to be becoming ever more frequent as Valentine's Day approaches; Lily is an exceptionally extroverted hopeless romantic, and she's absolutely beside herself with plans for the coming holiday. James, on the other hand, though deliriously in love with the girl, is still a prankster at heart, and gowns, tuxes, and balls just simply aren't his forte.
However, it is the winter of our seventh year, after all, and Lily is determined to make the entire thing worthwhile. She's had us pose for an uncountable number of pictures; spend entire days with her at Hogsmeade; and we even, on one occasion, were forced into a study group. That wasn't so bad, in my opinion, but Sirius was rather drolly livid. He jokingly remarked to James afterwards that he was beginning to be quite sorry that the two had ever gotten together.
It was a bad move, and I saw it coming.
Unfortunately, Padfoot is notoriously quick and free with his mouth—which is, ironically, one of several things that I envy him—and the words had been spouted off long before I could have possibly intercepted them.
In hindsight, it seems moderately likely that Prongs himself was aware of the track Sirius's mind had been jetting down; but at that moment, as I closed in, the only thing that stopped him from socking the other boy straight in the face was my gentle-but-persistent hand on his arm.
Besides, he was Head Boy; it certainly would not do for him to be seen knocking his best friend unconscious.
Well, more than once.
Sirius had made mistakes before.
Either way, the two experienced a sort of falling out for the next couple of weeks; and though Sirius was depressed and genuinely remorseful, James would have none of it and refused to even speak to the other Gryffindor. Thus, with James off with Lily around the clock, Sirius and I were left relatively alone, and Peter was…well Peter was Peter. No one's really sure where he goes off to, but he's always been the outcast of our group. I feel sort of bad about that.
But I was in no mood to complain then; I was Sirius's crying shoulder, after all.
There has always been something special about my relationship with him, in my mind at least; but it was only last year that I admitted that the stomach fluttering and woozy, embarrassed
sensation that occurred in me whenever he smiled, grinned, or even tossed a playful look in my direction could possibly be indicators of emotions with even deeper roots.
And it was only as I sat there, comforting him and holding his slightly taller form in my arms, that I admitted that the emotion that I do feel is love.
Sirius and James are like brothers, but though I embrace and think of them as such, I do not believe that I've ever had that same closeness to either of them.
I envy them that, at least with James.
With Sirius, it's more complicated. I don't want to be his brother. Rather, I want to be his something-that-rhymes-with-brother-but-with-a-v-in-the-middle-and-an-l-at-the-beginning, and that is understandably difficult.
See, Padfoot is the school's playboy, and he is infamous as such. His motto is pretty much 'to love 'em and leave 'em before they get attached enough to end up with half your stuff.' He's a fun-loving, party-going dog, in all seriousness (no pun intended); and I think that perhaps if something substantial were to happen between us, he might not be able to settle down.
And I'll admit it: I'm afraid of getting hurt.
It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
We kissed once, and it was as wonderful and delirium inducing as I'd imagined it would be, lying alone in my rickety, old bed, abandoned, belittled, and mentally defiled. The lonely hours of summer would hang about me like smog, choking and asphyxiating the life from my frail body. During those times, and most especially last summer, as my parents seem to be eagerly awaiting my coming-of-age and the consequent abdication of their home, the only things that keep me sane and going are my thoughts of Padfoot. He brings me a sense of comfort that I have never felt before, not even in the few years I shared with my mother before I was cursed, the ones when she and my father weren't ashamed to call me son.
Anyway, the incident, as I have taken to calling it privately, occurred during the weeks of the ever-famous Potter-Black feud. We had been studying, or at least I had been, when Sirius suddenly closed his great tomb of a book with a sigh and relaxed back into the plushy and comfortable pillows of the Gryffindor common room's sofa. I turned to him, curious and worried; and as my eyes fell upon his body, I felt the familiar spinal tingle that I even now associate with his lithe form. His eyes were closed in what had appeared to be exhaustion, and the contrast between the deep scarlet of the couch and his now light and pale complexion was almost appalling.
But Sirius was never, could never be, appalling.
Not to me.
"Are you alright?" I asked, closing my book and setting it gently down by my feet, the page marked by one of those fancy velvet ribbon bookmarks; this one was crimson and bore the image of a Gryffindor lion.
One of his eyes slit open and peered at me, and a smile quirked at the edge of his lips.
I fought off a blush.
"I'm fine," he answered, and the smile seemed to grow slightly. Abruptly, he leaned forward and reached past me. Shocked, I froze as his body folded over mine, and I wondered hazily just what he was doing. His robes hung slightly off of his body; and they tickled the side of my face, which, in turn, caused me to shut me eyes and inhale sharply. I could smell him, possibly even better than a normal human being would be able to, and his scent washed over me blissfully. It was indescribable, a toxic adrenaline rush, and I never wanted it to end.
As quickly as he'd moved forward, Sirius returned to his original position.
Curious and slightly unnerved, I cracked my eyes open to find the other boy with creased brows adorning his sharp features, a familiar inquisitive look.
"Are you ok?" his question caused me blink, and as I opened my mouth to respond he glanced down at something in his hands. It was my book, and the reason for his covering my body with his own became glaringly apparent.
I was justifiably disappointed.
His brow crinkled further, almost to the brink of impossibility, as he read the title.
"Why are you reading Modern Day Potions For A Modern Day Wizard?" He glanced up at me with a raised eyebrow, a more relaxed expression.
Fighting the urge to stick my tongue out childishly and reply with the ever-becoming reason 'BECAUSE!', I raised an eyebrow of my own.
"We have NEWTs at the end of this year, Padfoot. I'm studying."
"Studying? For Potions?" His voice implied that if there was one thing in the world that should never be done, that thing was studying the material of a course like Potions.
"Yes," I answered, "You should consider it as well; you and James aren't doing very well yourselves."
Sirius simply shrugged, eyes downcast and scanning my textbook's cover and fingers unconsciously playing about its edges. It was strange how I noticed things like that, little things, about him, but I noticed them nonetheless. His every habit was ingrained upon my memory, and at times it felt almost stalker-esque for me to know him so well.
"I never really liked that class," he stated, his comment bringing me back to the conversation.
"That doesn't matter. You need the credit if you want to become an Auror."
Finally, he glanced up at me, and not wasting a moment, I struck. It was probably a very uncharacteristic act for me, but Sirius had always seemed to inspire a more relaxed, carefree behavior in me. I guess you didn't hang out with people like Padfoot and Prongs almost every day for seven years and not have something rub off on you.
I dove forward, hands outstretched and intent on grabbing my book. Sirius, who looked shocked for a moment, reacted only a second after I launched, wrapping the book back up into his arms and clutching it to his chest. That wasted moment, however, was valuable, and he had no time to move out of the way as I had hoped (well, maybe figured is a better word) he would, either with the book or without it.
We crashed into each other, albeit without much force, just enough to thrust us both back against the armrest; I hadn't exactly been Superman flying through the air. It was more of a cross-couch leap.
In any case, our bodies tangled together as I fell on top of my friend, my body folding onto and into his, him being taller. Somehow our legs wrapped around each other, and I'm pretty sure one of my hands ended up in the front right pocket of Padfoot's robes. It took me a second before I noticed that his arms were wrapped around my back, having been placed there in order to steady me after the collision. At that moment, I couldn't exactly feel my arms. Our faces were close together, and a stray bang of light brown hung loose over my eyes. My pupils, which I've been told much resemble the ocean during sunset, stared deeply into his, which I decided then appeared as the sky during a summer thunderstorm, gray and cloudy, but full of intelligence and power.
Suddenly, there was a loss of weight and warmth on my back as one of his arms lifted. I inwardly cringed at the thought of moving from what was fast becoming a very comfortable position; but I was pleasantly surprised as his arm began an agonizingly slow trek toward my face. With the free hand he reached out and brushed the rebel bang back behind my ear; my eyes closed at the soft flicker of his flesh against that of my face, and I shivered slightly.
I didn't open my eyes, but I could feel his gaze burn into me as he felt my reaction slightly shake his own body. Sensing something, he brought his hand back up to cup my cheek gently; his fingers playing about there much like they had with the book (which was now all but forgotten) earlier, and he tightened his other arm around my waist, pulling me closer.
"Sirius…" I breathed out quickly and in a slight moan, and this time I felt him shudder against me. In a normal situation that might have inspired a triumphant smirk, but as I lay there so intimately with him, it was the last thing on my mind.
I was too far gone.
We both were.
And the next moment his lips were on mine, tender but insisting, and it was the most glorious feeling that I had ever experienced. I managed to free one of my arms from somewhere between our two bodies, and I wrapped it around his head, pulling his mouth closer to mine, trying to push through to his very soul. I could taste a hint of syrup from breakfast on his lips, combined with an odd trace of strawberries, and my tongue almost unconsciously peeked out to stroke them, eager to devour all of him.
He gasped at the sensation.
"Remus!" he groaned into my mouth, and I responded in kind.
And then it ended.
Just like that.
Well, maybe not just like that.
Sirius froze after his declaration, his body becoming stiff beneath me. Anxious and concerned, I pulled back, looking at him with a slightly puzzled and vaguely hurt expression. I swallowed hard at what I found; Padfoot's own eyes were wide and somewhat wild; and as we stared at each other, his mouth began to work quickly, but no sound came out.
He jumped up suddenly, and seeing that I was lying atop him, sent me crashing to the floor. It hurt, a little, but not nearly so much as what came next.
After Sirius had successfully climbed to his feet, he looked down at me, still lying helplessly sprawled out on the floor; at that moment, I hadn't cared to get up.
"Remus! I—I'm sorry. This—it shouldn't have…um…" He gestured wildly, throwing his hands up into the air as if it would help him get the words out. Swallowing hard, he continued on slowly, still slightly panicked and breathing rapidly. "This shouldn't have—have happened. I'm—I'm sorry." It was obvious that he felt awkward, and normally I would have laughed at him in such a state.
But again, this wasn't normally.
No, not at all.
If I wasn't mistaken, Sirius was rejecting me.
He was rejecting me after kissing me and after I had kissed him so passionately.
I could have cried.
"W—what? Why?" I questioned, still in my position on the floor.
"It wouldn't work!" he cried. "I'm not—not…" he trailed off, and shivered slightly. Taking a moment to wrap his arms about himself (which led me to remember how those same arms had been around me only mere moments beforehand), he continued. "It just wouldn't work. I'm sorry." He sighed, seeming a mess; he looked it too, and I was sure that I did as well. His robes were rumpled together, and his hair was askew. But he was still beautiful, as he always would be. "I love you Moony; I really do. Just…not like that."
"Oh," was my only reply.
And that was the end of that.
It was rather uncomfortable between the two of us for the next couple of weeks, and though James and Peter noticed, neither one pressed any sort of questions. For that, I'm sure we were both grateful.
Eventually, however, time has taken its toll, and Padfoot and I have drawn back into what should be the relationship we had before, and to all outsiders, that's what it appears to be. But to those who knows us well, Prongs, Wormtail, and by now Lily (though she still does not know my secret), there is still something devastating hanging over us.
They try to look past it, and it helps; really, it does. But I can't get past it, past Sirius. I don't want to.
I would sigh if I weren't currently a wolf.
I wish I knew what he was thinking, what he was really thinking that night. Despite his words afterwards, I know that's not how he truly feels.
No one can kiss like that and not feel at least some vague stirring.
Perhaps I will ask him some day, but I can't envision that to be anytime soon; it is still too discomforting a subject to be brought up between the two of us. I suppose, though, that I don't have to worry about time. We are only seventeen, after all; and we have many more adventures ahead of us.
We're brothers forever.
But how long is forever, really?
And how close can we really be when Padfoot and I can't even carry on a conversation like we used to?
I can smell Lily's drying tears and hear her easing sniffles by now; the beast is overjoyed. She is close.
How could James have let her out tonight?
My question is quickly answered.
"LILY?" a sudden voice screams, desperately. There is a ruffling of the foliage off in the distance.
The beast growls as it hears its prey turning toward the new distraction.
"James?" Her voice is soft and most likely not heard by the one in question.
Tensing its muscles, the wolf prepares to make a last mad dash for the girl.
No, I will not allow it.
She is my friend.
Exerting the little control that I have over the thing's mind, I turn it about, promising it food in the other direction. It is hesitant, but it relies on me. I must protect it when it cannot protect itself, and that loyalty is instinctive within it. Begrudgingly, it heads off away from the clearing.
"LILY?" James calls again.
That fool, he'll wake the whole forest if he's not careful. Then what will he do: defend himself and Lily as Prongs? That would be a site.
I smile as she calls out to him this time.
Good, let him go to her.
Let him help her.
Somebody deserves to be happy.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: That's it, your standard one-shot angst/romance. It's a vignette, but I have ideas for several more (from different points of view) if it's deemed worthy.