It was late evening and Remus once again found himself on the highest corridor in the Black manor. After Sirius' terrifying outburst earlier that evening he wanted to see if the man had calmed down; if there was anything left of the man he had once known.
Taking a deep foreboding breath, he entered the dark room to find Sirius perched on the edge of his bed. The man looked up with his empty grey eyes and gave a chuckle. Remus was reluctant to close the door but did so anyway.
"Well, well. Mr Moony. Dumbledore said you'd be paying me a visit. I didn't quite believe the old fool," he said with a lop-sided grin. It almost broke Remus' heart to see it.
"I'm here Padfoot," he replied simply and embraced his friend as he moved to him. The broken man gave a small gasp of emotion into his friend's shoulder. Lupin held him tightly, stroking his back.
"I have to get out of this place, Remus. It's killing me. People are talking. They say I'm losing it. They're going to take Harry from me, and I'm terrified. They can't do that Remus, I'm his father he needs me." The man was trembling as Lupin lowered him back down onto the bed. Remus joined him.
"I hit Dora, earlier. Did she tell you?" he murmured. Remus frowned. Did he not remember that he had been there? Apparently not. Deciding not to mention it, Remus simply nodded. Sirius gave a moan of despair and then fell quiet. Remus watched his friend closely; his twitching face, his ragged breathing, his nervous eye movements and fidgeting hands. He suddenly looked up, startling Remus.
"Did you see James today?" he asked with a grin. His eyes were bright, well as bright as Remus thought they could be. Deciding to play it safe, Lupin answered with a simple,
Sirius rocked slightly, rubbing his arms rapidly, as if he were suddenly chilly.
"Remus, you have to get me out of here," he breathed. "If we're careful, the Dementors won't see us. James promised me he'd bring his cloak, just in case. He said it probably wouldn't work but it would be worth a shot…looks like he's forgotten about me," Sirius said sadly, looking to the floor. "But I still have you, don't I Remus? Don't I?"
"Of course you do," the other man insisted.
Sirius looked at him, unblinking and then moved forwards to kissed his friend roughly on the lips. Remus was startled but Sirius pulled away before he could react.
"You have to stop doing that," Remus muttered to him and Sirius chuckled lightly.
"I want you," Sirius told him. Remus could feel himself getting agitated.
"Sirius–" he began warningly.
"Remus you told me you'd help me escape! Or were you lying too?" he said suspiciously. Before Remus could reply Sirius jumped up. "I knew it, I knew you wouldn't have the guts! James didn't, Peter didn't and neither do you. I'm going to die in here Remus and it's all you're fault." The man threw himself onto the floor and began to cry softly to himself. "Where's Harry? He should be here," the man sniffed into his arms. Remus left the bed and crouched before the weeping man. He put his arms around him once more and Sirius cried into his chest.
"Help me Remus, please," he breathed.
"I will," Lupin replied, hoping with all his soul that he could. It was some relief to see that Sirius had calmed down since his previous visit. If Lupin could get through to the man inside of this manic shell…hopefully he would gain his friend back.
Remus heaved the grieving Sirius back up onto the bed and stroked his hair out of his damp eyes.
"Shh, sleep. I'll be back in the morning." Remus moved to rise, and Sirius clamped his hand onto the man's wrist with surprising strength. Now he knew how Dora must have felt.
"Please…don't leave me," he pleaded emotionally. Remus nodded and lay beside the man on the bed. Sirius nested his head into the man's shoulder. "Stay with me," he sighed. Remus stroked his arm in comfort. Sirius began to sob quietly to himself. "If you leave me in the night, I'll kill myself I swear I will," he hissed angrily in between shuddered breaths.
"I'm here Padfoot," Remus whispered as Sirius closed his eyes to sleep. "I'm not going anywhere." He kissed the troubled man on the temple before closing his eyes too, joining his friend in an uneasy sleep.
It was early morning when Sirius awoke. He felt sick and retched slightly as he sat up. The room was lighter, but still not bright. Sirius could see the dust falling through the ray of light that struggled to flitter its way into the room. The man ran his hands over his grubby face, feeling the stubble scratch his hands. Glancing over his shoulder to where he once lay, he saw that the other side of the bed was unkempt but empty. Sirius gave a groan of anguish. He kicked the bed hard, causing a jolt of pain to shoot right through his foot up to his ankle. Sirius hissed in agony but did it again.
"No, no, no, no," he mumbled as he paced the room, running his trembling hands through his untidy hair. "You promised me Remus! You promised!" he spat bitterly to the bed. His best friend had told him he'd help him. He said he'd be there when he had woken.
Today would be the day when he could escape. He had been promised freedom and it had been snatched from him. James and Peter had let him down. And now Remus had betrayed him too. Sirius let out a sob as he rummaged through his chest of drawers. Finding his penknife, he took it in his trembling hands and flicked open the blade. Tears rolled heavily down the man's face as he saw his own reflection in the shiny metal. He was a broken man, past repair. Remus could have helped him; he knew it! But he had chosen not to. Sirius shuddered a breath and touched the cold blade to his wrist. He rested it there for a moment, before swiping it across his skin viciously. He let out a howl of pain, but found comfort in the fact that he bled. Red blood…not Black. The flowing crimson was proof enough; he was not a dead man…yet.
Sirius sniffed angrily and exchanged the knife into his left hand. The wrist throbbed to do so, but Sirius thrived on the pain. Bringing the sharp edge to his flesh once more, he gave a dry laugh.
"This one's for you Remus. You bastard!" he hissed before slashing at his skin once more. He groaned and dropped the knife before sliding his back down the wall and curling up into a heap in the corner. A broken man…he could have been saved. It was too late for him now. This was the only escape he was capable of alone.
The smell of blood awoke Remus Lupin. It was metallic and he could almost taste it as he licked his sleep-dry lips and gave a swallow. Sitting up quickly, he glanced around the room in panic. There, in the far corner, he saw a slumped Sirius. The man was deathly white and the floor around him shimmered liquid red. Remus flung himself from the bed, without standing, and crawled across the room to his suffering friend.
"Sirius? SIRIUS!" he shouted, shaking his friend fiercely by the shoulders. The man's grey eyes flickered open. It seemed like it took him a great deal of energy to do so.
"Remus…where were you?" he whispered, wanting to sound angry but not having the strength to do so. "You…promised you wouldn't leave me." A single tear fell down his ashen cheeks. Remus was looking frantic. He grabbed a pillow, removed its case and ripped it into strips to tie around the lacerated wrists. "You promised."
"Sirius, I haven't been anywhere. I was asleep next to you the whole time," the other man insisted, as he tried desperately to stop the blood flow. He was kneeling in the warm substance now, and it soaked up his trousers. Sirius was frowning at the concerned expression on Lupin's face. Realisation seemed to hit him full on.
"Oh," was all he managed before unconsciousness took him once more. Remus scrambled to his feet, slipping on the floor as he ran to the door. He yanked it open and left bloody marks down its worn paintwork and dripping from the doorknob.
Remus ran down the corridor, tripping where the carpet was worn. His breath burned in his chest, from the sprint and from the panic that had consumed him. Once at the top of the stairs, he stopped to take a deep breath before shouting as loud as he could.
"I NEED HELP UP HERE!" he bellowed. Hearing doors open immediately, and the sound of feet, Lupin turned and ran back to his friend.
As he entered the room once more, he noticed that the strips of bed linen were already sodden with the unstoppable blood flow. Remus let out a cry as he fell back to his friends side.
"Sirius, please don't do this. Please," he whispered desperately, stroking his friend's dark hair away from his pale face. The unconscious man reacted to his touch, but his eyes remained closed.
The door banged open, making Lupin jump. Tonks entered quickly; followed by an elder man…he was familiar to Lupin though he was in no fit state to recall a name. Tonks let out a heart wrenching scream and fell to her knees beside her cousin.
"No, no, no!" she cried as she took the man's bloody hands. Sirius' eyes flickered open upon hearing her. He attempted a smile, and then brought his dripping hand up to her black eye.
"I'm so sorry, Dora," he croaked. "I'm sorry." His blood stained her beautifully smooth cheek. She shook her head.
"It's ok. You're going to be fine," she said shakily. Turning to her companion she said, "Moody, we have to get him to St Mungo's." Moody, that's his name, Remus thought and then waited anxiously for a response.
"They won't treat him Tonks…he's Sirius Black."
"I know who he is!" she snapped, her chest heaving uncontrollably.
Sirius was struggling to keep his eyes open. His eyelids felt incredibly heavy.
"Dora," he wheezed and she moved closer to him, her tears dripping off her bloodstained face and landing onto his slashed arm. "Dora, I didn't kill them. I want you to know…to remember…I didn't…" he trailed off, closing his eyes and Tonks gave an unbearable wail of sorrow. Moody dragged her up from the floor and held her as she wept.
"Remus," Sirius breathed. "Thank you for saving me. I knew you would...I'm so sorry, Remus," his voice cracked as he saw the look of anguish on Lupin's face. Sirius tried to swallow and fail. He rasped a final breath. "I'm free now," he told his eternal friend before closing his hollow eyes for one last time.
Silence fell for a beat, though it felt like a lifetime.
Remus began to howl as he grabbed his friend's body, pulling it close and rocking it in utmost grief. He had wanted to free Sirius…but not like this. Raw emotion poured out of him, as he remained sprawled on the hard floor, drenched in his friend's blood. Tears mingled with the scarlet liquid as Remus held him tight, and tighter still.
He had failed him. The broken man had pleaded for escape…for freedom…for a life… and the only way he had achieved it was with his death. A broken man … past repair.