Title : Branded

Pairing : Remus/Sirius
Word Count : 12,348
Rating : PG-13
Disclaimer : All belongs to the lovely J.K.
Summary : Sirius is there for Remus when he goes to get branded.
Notes : I actually wrote this over a year ago but kept holding it out because I wanted to get it betaed. That didn't happen though, so here it is, old and unbetaed.

"You four! Dinner is ready!" the cheerful, but commanding voice of Alison Potter drifted out of the kitchen window.

James and Sirius froze from where they had been flying after the Snitch that had been released fifteen minutes earlier, and with twin grins of mischief turned, and headed in towards the ground where Remus and Lily were waiting for them.

Lily let out a yell of protest as James and Sirius landed uncomfortably close and fast near them, but Remus barely blinked as he looked up from the book he had been reading.

Sirius grinned as he walked over to Remus watching in amusement as Lily started to yell at James for the landing.

Remus shook his head lovingly in pity as he watched his best friend being lectured. Sirius wrapped his arm lightly around Remus' waist as the werewolf stood and they started in towards the house.

"Good practice?" Remus asked, tucking a strand of chestnut hair behind his ear as he gazed up at the taller, dark-haired boy.

"Wasn't bad." Sirius commented, leaning down to lightly kiss Remus on the cheek as they entered the house.

James was already at the table, and Lily was helping Mrs. Potter who was on the starting line of her 'Lazy son who doesn't help when guests are around' lecture, when she stopped upon seeing Remus and Sirius enter.

"There you two are," she said, moving a roast out of the oven and hurrying it into the dining room. She didn't wait for an answer as she stuck her head back around the corner. "An owl just came for you Remus. The letter is upstairs on James' desk."

Remus frowned slightly as he tried to figure out who would be sending him a letter. Most of his owls were from Sirius or James, though it was possible that his parents or Peter was owling him, though not likely.

Sirius unwrapped his arm from Remus' waist.

"I'm going to go wash up, tell me who the letter is from." he said, ruffling Remus hair as he headed towards the bathroom.

Remus touched his hair lightly afterwards, grinning slightly before hurrying out of Mrs. Potter's and Lily's way and heading towards James' bedroom.

The letter was perched upon his desk just as Mrs. Potter had told him. His own owl, Artemis was nowhere in sight, which meant that the letter wasn't from somebody unfamiliar if she hadn't brought it.

He frowned as he picked the letter almost cautiously from the wooden surface of the desk. His name was sprawled across it in a professional manner. Underneath that, his usual home address was written and then hastily crossed out to have the Potter's address written in a scrunched hand underneath it.

Remus opened the letter, feeling a knot of worry beginning to form in his stomach. What if something had happened to his parents?

They had only left for their vacation a few days ago, but still... Something could have happened between then and now.

He dropped the envelope that the letter had been in without realizing it. His eyes started to scan the letter at an abnormal speed.

He felt his knees start to grow weak and he sank numbly to James' bed, the letter falling to his side, still clutched in his right hand as he stared disbelievingly forward. He felt the knot that had been in his stomach move into his chest and explode in pain. He gripped his forehead; bangs fell messily over his fingers as a lump started to form in his throat.

x x x

Downstairs, Mr. Potter had arrived and he, James and Lily were now all seated at the table. Mrs. Potter was putting the finishing touches to the meal when she saw Sirius walk out of the bathroom, busily drying his hands on a clean towel.

"Sirius, love, go check on Remus, all right?" she called from the kitchen.

Sirius looked up in surprise, and then turned his head towards the table as though if to confirm the fact that Remus was still upstairs.

"Sure," he answered, tossing the towel unceremoniously back into the bathroom before starting to jog up the stairs. He turned the corner sharply, swinging around it by placing his fingertips on the wall before coming to James' closed door.

"Oy, Remus!" he called, rapping on the door with his knuckles, much to the anger of several of the Quidditch players that were on the poster that covered the outside of James' door. "Dinner's ready, we're waiting for you." he added after a moments, wondering if Remus had heard him.

He tried to be patient, but that had never been one of Sirius' strong points. After around thirty seconds with still no answer, he grabbed the doorknob and swung the door open.

"Rem-" he stopped in surprise as he saw the werewolf turn his head sharply to look up and then look back down, as though ashamed.

Sirius had caught site of the red, tear-stained eyes, and frowned as he moved across the room to kneel in front of Remus, gazing upon into his hidden face.

"Remus, what's wrong, lovely?" he asked, in a much more gentle tone then normal.

Remus looked up at him and for a rare time, he seemed to be struggling with what to say.

"Sirius...I..." he paused, swallowing with difficult before taking a deep breath and straightening up slightly. "I have to leave tomorrow." he said, trying to replace the calm mask he usually wore.

"What?" Sirius nearly exploded. "Remus, come on, please, I'm sorry if you're mad at me. Please, I'll make it up to you, whatever I did to piss you off. Don't ruin Lily's and James' fun though, you know they're so glad you came up here this summer." he said pleading, moving forward to grip Remus' hand.

Remus moved away quickly, turning his head the other way so Sirius couldn't see the tears that were filling up his eyes again.

"Remus, dammit, please talk to me." he said, standing and cupping Remus' face in between his hands so the other would have to look at him.

"Sirius," Remus said in a choked voice. "It's nothing that you did. I have to leave tomorrow."

"But why?" Sirius questioned, the confusion in his tone evident. "Did something happen with your parents?"

"Please." Remus said weakly, finally looking up at Sirius. "Don't. I have to go tomorrow..." his voice faltered. "...to be branded."

Sirius moved quickly and jerkily towards Remus looking as though he had been slapped before freezing abruptly.

"What?" he hissed. "Branded? What the hell are you talking about?"

Remus held up the letter in one shaking hand, and Sirius snatched it away, his eyes searching desperately.

"New law." Remus said dryly, almost automatically. "Written up by a woman named Umbridge. All werewolves have to be branded now due to the rise of joining with Voldemort. I have to report tomorrow; any werewolves that don't and are caught are sentenced to three years in Azkaban."

Remus sounded tired and he looked even worse when Sirius gazed over the top of the letter to stare disbelievingly at him.

"They can't do this!" he shouted, ripping up the letter and grabbing Remus in a quick embrace.

"Of course they can, Sirius. No one is going to stop them." Remus answered softly, wrapping his arms around Sirius in almost a reluctant manner.

"We'll fight this! We'll-" Sirius started, but Remus pulled away from him, shaking his head, smiling at him in an almost sympathetic manner.

"No. Sirius." he stated in a soft tone, cupping Sirius' face. "I'm going to get branded tomorrow, and then go back to my parent's house to heal. You're going to stay here with the Potters."

"Remus! Sirius! For the love of the Marauder's, if you're shagging up there, I will skin you! I am starving!" James bellowed from the stairs, not daring to actually come into the bedroom in the event that they were shagging.

Remus pulled away from Sirius, kissing him lightly on the forehead and looking apologetic.

"I have to tell the others I'm leaving." He said, starting towards the door, but waiting for Sirius who was still standing dumbfounded in the middle of the room.

"No, you shouldn't be alone during this." He said testily, crossing his arms stubbornly. "I'll go with you tomorrow -fly you on the bike- and then we'll come back here and we'll take care of you. The Potters will understand."

Remus sighed, looking frustrated and running his hands through his tawny hair.

"Sirius, please, understand, you're not going to want to be around me when I'm like this. And I know the Potters are understanding and all, but a healing werewolf is a little much to ask them for." Remus said exasperated.

"You'll need me." Sirius said firmly. "You'll need someone. You're not going to be alone."

Remus looked away, rubbing his temple faintly, and then nodded in defeat.

"All right, Sirius, we'll do this your way then," he said, smiling as though Sirius had no idea what he had just gotten himself into.

"Good," Sirius answered, relaxing slightly as he moved across the room, cupping both of Remus' hands in his own. "Now we can go down to dinner and tell everyone what is going on."

x x x

"Remus?" Sirius asked in a tired voice from where he was curled up next to the tawny-haired werewolf. "Are you awake?"

Sirius himself had been trying to fall asleep for the better part of the last two hours to no avail. He was mind was set on the events of the next day. His emotions were churning in a constantly changing whirlpool that had begun to build upon itself ever since he heard the noise. Rage, nervousness, fear... They all had taken up a rather large part of that pit in his stomach as he lay there, staring in the dark with his arms wrapped comfortingly around Remus.

"I'm awake," Remus answered after a few moments delay in a weary voice.

He had actually had no problem falling right asleep, but had almost immediately been visited upon by the always present nightmare of that night he had been bitten almost fourteen years ago. Remus had shivered and whimpered in the dream until Sirius had finally rolled over in the bed that they were sharing to place his arms around Remus to bring him back into the real world, not knowing that it was a nightmare that Remus could never escape.

"Are you okay?" Sirius asked; his lips were very close to Remus' ear, so that he barely had to raise his voice at all for Remus to hear him.

"Just had a bad dream, Sirius," Remus replied, stating the obvious in return.

An uneasy silence fell between them as they both refused to bring up the subject of what was going to happening, but both also refused to let the thoughts of the branding leave their minds.

Finally Sirius unwove his arms from Remus' waist as he sat up, the mattress groaning heartily as Sirius' weight was concentrated to one spot. Remus rolled over to face Sirius, who was running his long, calloused fingers through his dark locks. Sirius looked down at Remus and leaned over to kiss him lightly on the forehead before moving awkwardly, though attempting to be careful, over the werewolf to turn on the light that was in the room.

Remus winced slightly as the light hit his golden eyes, but he moved to sit up slightly as he watched Sirius hoist himself up onto the desk that was across the room to watch him.

"Sirius...?" Remus asked, tilting his head to the side as he inquired to what the other was thinking.

Sirius' eyes were focused on his face, and he smiled slightly, but didn't move off the desk.

"Is there going to be a lot of them there tomorrow?" Sirius asked gently, not wanting to push Remus to talk about it if he didn't want to, but none the less, he wanted to know what he was getting himself into tomorrow.

"Oh," Remus leaned his head back against the headboard as he looked thoughtful. "I suppose there will be quite a bit, though you know..." he shrugged slightly. "Not millions or anything. And we don't all arrive at the same time."

Sirius was quiet again, as he ran his hand over a carving that he and James had done the first year that Sirius had visited the Potter's. Mrs. Potter had never been able to remove that carving from the desk, and Sirius had never been able to remove the bruises she had put on him when she discovered that James and him had carved up the desk. He smiled at the memory.

"Are you scared?" Sirius questioned finally, as he looked back up at Remus, his tone implying that this question was more important then the previous.

"Yes," Remus answered softly, but with almost no delay. "They always assume that I'm a bad person, Sirius." He wasn't looking at the dark-haired wizard now, but was steadfastly studying the blanket that he had clenched between his fingers. "And I try so hard no to be. I try my best to be a good student... to be a good human. I don't want them to think I'm a monster. I don't want them to treat me like a monster." His voice had become constricted and choked; tears had gathered in his eyes, making it difficult for him to make out the pattern on the blanket any longer as he fought to hold the liquid in his eyes.

"Remus," Sirius was suddenly standing right next to him; Remus hadn't noticed his movements.

Sirius cupped his lover's chin lightly as he kissed him gently on the lips, smoothing away one of the tears that had managed to creep down Remus' cheek.

"You're not a monster." He whispered lightly, his mouth still so close to Remus', that his breath washed soothingly over the werewolf's lips.

"How can you be so sure?" Remus asked, looking up at Sirius through black lashes that were clumped together from the moisture.

"Because you said so yourself : you try and you know that you're human, Remus. And that's all that really matters. Don't let them take that away from you."

Remus smiled briefly, wrapping his arms tightly around Sirius and pulling him closer.

"I love you." He whispered, tucking his chin onto Sirius' shoulder.

Sirius moved back under the warmth of the sheets, keeping Remus close to him as he lay back down.

"Sleep now," Sirius whispered gently, resting his dark head on a pillow, arms locked securely around Remus' waist.

Remus nodded drowsily, tilting his head towards Sirius' neck from where it lay on the other's shoulder before falling into a peaceful sleep.

x x x

Remus and Sirius both assumed that they would be up before the rest of the house; they were expected by the Ministry no later then eight a.m.

However, when they both came half-tumbling down the stairs, squinting to see things around the house in the watery dawn light, Mrs. Potter was there to greet them. She already had breakfast set out on the table for them, and though she looked grim, she bade them both a good morning.

Sirius had grunted a reply to her, Remus offering a shaky smile as they sat down at the table. Sirius began devouring the food at a rapid pace, as though James' mother hadn't been feeding him all week, which was quite the opposite of the truth.

Remus had stared at the eggs on his plate, mixing them around with his fork, stomach too tense to attempt to put any food inside of it. He fidgeted in the chair, biting at his lips, twisting his hair over his fingers. He kept picking up his napkin and opening it, only to refold it, repeating the process over and over until Sirius had lain a hand gently over Remus'. Remus had jumped slightly, looking up to see Sirius, his golden eyes wide, then instantly relaxing at realizing it was Sirius.

"Come on," Sirius said softly, pushing the chair back and standing.

He picked up the two plates from the table, one completely empty, one almost completely full. Remus had followed awkwardly after.

Sirius was saying something to him he realized vaguely. He turned to look at Sirius, the other's gaze intent upon him, lips no longer moving. One of his eyebrows was quirked, waiting for Remus' reply.

"Sorry," Remus murmured, drawing back slightly, the nerves in his stomach clenching at him terribly.

"Don't worry about it." Sirius answered in reply, grabbing Remus' hand once more away from his hair, and leaning forward to kiss him lightly on the cheek. "It wasn't that important."

Sirius could sense Remus' fear and distraction. He physically ached to take that pain away from his lover. Barbed thoughts lashed out against the misunderstanding people that were subjecting gentle Remus to this.

Sirius turned away after that, not wanting to see the look on Remus' face. The lips that were chewed raw, red with slight cuts on them. His face was a chalky pale color, eyes darting around, and slightly dulled from their usual gold, almost enough to be able to pass for a bright brown.

He walked through the kitchen, leading Remus by the hand towards the back door.

"We're leaving!" Sirius called down the stairs to where Mrs. Potter had retreated to what the boys liked to joke about was her 'sanctuary'.

Remus felt a great swell of relief and gratefulness rise up in his chest for Sirius. He didn't think he could have stood there in front of Mrs. Potter, saying good-bye as though they were going out for a normal outing, and have her hug me gently in a motherly way, all the while holding back tears.

Sirius didn't even wait for an answer, as though again, sensing Remus' unease. He reached for the doorknob, wrenching the door open in an almost violent way and pouring them both out into the chilly air of dawn.

The bike stood proudly in the backyard, dew glistening clearly on the seat. Sirius shut the door quietly behind them with a soft, resounding thud as he headed towards the bike.

The grass blades brushed against the denim of their jeans as they made their way through it, leaving fading streaks of wetness on the ankles.

Sirius took off his jacket when they got to the motorcycle, wiping off the seat just so that it would be comfortable enough for them to ride on, not having time for his usual formalities and worship of the bike.

He readjusted his now slightly wet jacket on his shoulders before throwing his lanky legs over the side to straddle the bike before waiting for Remus to get on behind him. The shorter, sandy-haired boy did so a moment later, his arms wrapping around Sirius' waist in a tight grasp. Once Remus was securely on the bike, Sirius started the engine, listening to the gentle roar that broke the silence that had covered them all throughout the morning.

Remus leaned his head against the back of Sirius' jacket, inhaling his scent sharply, and closing his eyes as Sirius took the bike into the air, moving it towards a destination that neither of them wanted to arrive at.

It was an eerily quiet ride. However, it was difficult to talk on the bike at the best of times, with the wind eagerly snatching their voices away from the proper direction, but they didn't even make a half-hearted attempt on this journey. Neither wanted to try and make awkwardly meaningless conversation when all they could think about were the events that were going to occur in the process of the day.

Remus had his eyes shut nearly the entire ride, and Sirius would have believed he was sleeping from how still he was; he could faintly feel the steady heartbeat from where Remus was pressed up against Sirius' back. Only the faint tensing in Remus' arms around Sirius' waist as the ride drew to a close proved any different.

The wind ran and twisted its way through Sirius' jet-black hair as he leaned his head slightly to the side to glance down at the ground. The sun had risen to a much higher peak in the sky, fully projecting its light onto the ground, and Sirius could see a dingy grey building down below. It was rectangular, as though someone had randomly sat a box down in the middle of nowhere.

Sirius sighed softly as he started to bring the bike into its descent, the front wheel dipping down towards the ground. Remus opened one eye to glance dismally down at the building, his face never changing emotion, despite the fact his stomach was rolling heavily, and he felt slightly dizzy. He wasn't quite sure how he was going to make it through this.

He turned his unusually pale face away from the ground, burying it in the back of Sirius' jacket, and swallowed harshly.

Sirius glanced a bit over his shoulder to make sure that Remus was okay, but didn't comment. He fixated his attention back towards his landing. The front wheel jerked slightly as it hit the ground, and the back wheel followed only moments later. The bike drove a few feet on the ground before losing the remainder of its speed, and Sirius put his feet on the ground to confirm their stop.

Remus' grip turned painful at the landing, and Sirius winced slightly.

"Remus..." he whispered softly as he brought his hands way from the handlebars and put them over Remus'.

The knuckles of the werewolf's hands had turned a bloodless white. Sirius rubbed the smaller hands for a moment, before prying them gently away from his stomach. Remus let go out without much of a fight, as he also sat up, regretfully removing his face from the leather.

Sirius kissed one hand gently before moving to get off the bike. He swung his lanky legs to the ground, and then, without looking at Remus' face, helped the other off the bike.

He wrapped one arm carefully around Remus, pulling him close as they started towards the door of the building. A solid black, in contrast to the dark grey of the rest of the building. Sirius couldn't see any windows on the building.

"You okay?" Sirius asked softly, tilting his head down towards Remus.

The werewolf nodded a bit shakily, looking up at Sirius and forcing a smile.

"You don't have to come in, you know." Remus added, finally, as he resumed his stare at the door.

"I know." Sirius answered in reply, but didn't remove his arm from around Remus.

Sirius knew quite well that Remus probably didn't need anybody to come in with him. He was a big boy after all, and he had been putting up with this kind of crap for his entire life. But that was just it. He had never really had anyone there with him before, and Sirius didn't want him to have to go through any of it alone anymore.

They reached the door and Sirius moved his right hand towards the doorknob, which almost blended in with the rest of the door. Upon touching it, a voice, apparently out of nowhere, responded.


"Er." Sirius blinked in surprise for a moment. "Sirius Black, escorting Remus Lupin."

There was a pause, in which Sirius glanced down at Remus, who shrugged for a brief moment, before looking back at the door.

"All right." The voice replied, and the door, with an audible 'click' swung open.

Sirius moved to let Remus enter first and followed immediately afterwards, the door swinging heavily shut behind them. Sirius had to squint for a moment to see in the dull light of the room.

It took him a moment to realize that there wasn't that much to see. In the corner of the room, a desk had been hastily shoved. There was two neat stacks of papers on the top of the desk, and behind it sat a woman. Probably not much older then themselves, Sirius figured as he watched her. She looked bored. One hand was tangled in long black hair and the other was tapping long purple fingernails over the edge of the black desk. Her eyes were half closed as though she had been there a long time and was tired. Her make up was slightly smeared too.

As though sensing Sirius' gaze, she turned her eyes towards them.

"Over here." she motioned to Remus and Sirius with the hand that had been tapping.

Sirius nodded slightly, and they headed over to the desk, Remus holding Sirius' hand as they passed the neat row of plastic chairs that lined the wall opposite the desk. There was maybe fifteen chairs in all, a rather obnoxiously bright orange compared to the rest of the building.

Only two of the chairs were filled. One was a man much older then them. Thirty maybe. He was chewing at his knuckle nervously as he bent over a paper that he seemed to be filling out. He was rather plump and his watery blonde hair was already starting to fall out. He reminded Sirius quite a bit of Peter.

He glanced quickly at the other occupant who was sitting three seats away from the man, and quickly glanced away. It was a girl, perhaps two or three years younger then them. She was sitting alone, staring defiantly at them, her blue eyes cutting quickly into Sirius. She had a scar across her right cheek that started right by the bridge over her nose and continued all the way down to her jaw. Her jeans had holes in them, though it seemed, more by being worn too much then a fashion statement, and her shirt was unnaturally baggy for a girl of her age.

Sirius quickly pulled his attention back to the woman at desk who was now talking to Remus, trying to ignore the feeling of the girl's stare on his back.

"-fill this out." the lady was wrapping up a long speech in the same bored voice, as she grabbed a sheet of paper off of one of the stacks and pushed it towards Remus. "And bring it back here when you're done." She looked back down at the desk in an annoyed manner as though Sirius and Remus had done something wrong and interrupted an important situation.

Remus grabbed a quill off the desk near the stack of papers, and turned back to Sirius. Sirius raised his eyebrows, his eyes communicating to Remus about the secretary.

Remus shook his head slightly as he started towards the row of chairs. He sat down two seats away from the glaring girl and Sirius down on the side farthest away from the girl.

He twined his fingers into Remus' hand, glancing down at the sheet that the woman had given Remus.

The beginning of it seemed normal enough, and it was mostly what Sirius had expected, and Remus filled it out quickly enough, not having to think about any of it.

Name, gender, age, place of residence.

The second part was where it fell into things Sirius had never seen before, but Remus didn't hesitate over any of these questions before answering.

Ever bitten anyone before? Attacked? Killed/Attacked animals? Current place of transformations? Drugs/Potions taken with transformation?

Sirius had felt his mouth go slightly dry, and he licked at his lips as he turned away, letting Remus fill in his answers in as much of a private manner that could be expected out of this situation.

They sat for another five minutes after Remus had turned in the paper, the plastic of the chair digging uncomfortably into Sirius' back. He stretched his legs slightly over the immensely clean floor and yawned a bit.

Suddenly a ear-shattering scream ricocheted off the walls. Sirius jumped slightly, his eyes widening in surprise as the shock of the scream ran its way up and down his spine. Remus had looked up in alarm, his hand clutching furiously at Sirius', as he stared at the door that was located next to the secretary's desk.

The girl sitting two seats away, continued to glare at the door, as though challenging it, her face looking slightly disgusted before looking away.

The man at the end of the row, whimpered slightly. The secretary at the desk didn't look up or even seem to take note of the scream, and that, more then anything, scared Sirius the most.

Not more then a minute later the door opened in a swaying motion, revealing only darkness for a moment, before a man came hurrying out, looking immensely pale and scared. He was holding a small girl in his arms who seemed to have passed out. There were tear steaks covering her small face, and the man didn't dare to take the time to look at any of them as he hurried his small daughter out of the building and the company of the people that had condemned her.

After the exit door slammed shut, Sirius turned his attention back to the door across the room, where a second man had appeared, looking much calmer then the first. He was wearing robes similar to the people at St. Mungo's. He walked over the to the woman at the desk, and started conversing with her while Sirius leaned slightly over, trying to see into the second room.

"Lupin, Remus J." the man suddenly announced, studying a paper the secretary had handed him.

Remus dug his fingers into Sirius' hand for a moment before standing. Sirius stood after him, and Remus looked surprised for a moment, and started to shake his head at Sirius, motioning for him to sit back down, but Sirius remained standing. Remus didn't have the heart to argue with him and turned back towards the man and started walking.

"I'm Bryan Robb." The man said brightly, reaching forward to shake Remus' hand then Sirius', before ushering them into the back room.

Sirius couldn't help but stare at the man as he sat down in the room in a plastic chair that was identical to the one in the other room. He seemed so out of place here. Friendly and cheerful... it seemed almost rude.

Sirius bit down on the side of his cheek as Robb closed the door again, he was glancing over the paper that Remus had filled out early, and then looked up and smiled again at Remus who was standing awkwardly in the middle of the room.

Remus was still clutching onto Sirius' hand, though his palms had become oddly sweaty, though the emotions he was showing on his face was the same as ever.

Robb sat down in the second chair in the tiny room, a far more comfortable one then the flimsy plastic one.

Sirius glanced cautiously around the room, which was maybe half the size of the first. It had another black desk that Bryan was sitting in front of. That desk had his wand on top of a pile of papers that were all stamped in a bright red. It also had a large bowl on it that had two bright grey handles sticking out of it that made Sirius' feel nauseated the instant he saw them. Next to the bowl were multiple rolls of white gauzy bandages.

There was also a flat table-like object in the room that was about as long as human being that Remus was standing against

Sirius squeezed Remus' hand back reassuringly as tuned his attention in to Bryan was starting to talk.

"First, I'm required to explain the procedure to you." He had dropped the cheerful tone and apperance from earlier. It was all business now. All 'directions' and 'procedures'. Sirius liked him even less. "We put two brands on the body. One across the abdomen." he pointed to his lower stomach. "That's the number that you were given." He didn't mention the fact that a tiny tracking device would also be imprinted into Remus' skin in case the Ministry ever needed to find him quickly. "The second brand will be on the top side of your right wrist." He placed his left hand over that area, demonstrating. "This will be in the shape of a 'W' for quick identification, and will also have a magic in it that will interfere with You-Know-Who's supporters' mark."

Remus was nodding faintly, but Sirius was fighting back the need to argue. He had fallen back into his state of disbelief, not understanding.

"Now, in order to do this, we use a first spell that blocks the silver from getting into the bloodstream-"

"What?" Sirius couldn't suppress his statement of surprise.

Nobody had mentioned silver yet. That couldn't be possible, that was a deadly toxic to werewolves.

Bryan nodded curtly at him, though he looked faintly annoyed by the outburst.

"Werewolves heal faster then humans. If we used anything else they could heal the tattoo over. Besides, silver is only deadly to werewolves if it enters the bloodstream. Hence, the first spell. I form a silver piece to fit his number, and then doing the branding work. Afterwards we perform a spell that keeps from any magical healing being done, which would also remove the mark. We bandage the marks, and after awhile they will scar over into permanent brands. Both spells wear off after three weeks." Bryan finished up. "Any questions?"

Sirius stared at him. Yes, he had a question. He wanted to ask why he had never heard about a spell that could keep silver from getting in the bloodstream. However, he didn't like either possible answer. One, there was none; two, it hadn't been released from Ministry findings.

However, Remus was already shaking his head 'no'.

"All right then." Bryan was standing. "If you'd remove your shirt then and lay down please."

He turned his back to the two of them and started messing around with the two grey- no, silver objects in the bowl.

Remus glanced down at Sirius, before gently removing his hand from Sirius' grasp. He leaned down, kissing Sirius lightly on the cheek before moving them to the bottom of his shirt. His fingers curled around the edge of the white fabric as he pulled it up, revealing his tanned stomach and chest. Scars etched their way across the skin in an intricate pattern, broken only by the large, jagged scar the curved around the right side of his body around six inches about his hip from where the werewolf had bitten him.

Remus held the shirt awkwardly out to Sirius, who accepted, feeling a slight tickle in his throat as he refused to meet Remus' eyes. Remus backed away slowly, before putting both hands on the side of the flat table, and boosting himself up. He glanced shakily over at Sirius before lying down.

Sirius moved forward to reach for Remus' hand, but Remus shook his head 'no', afraid that words would fail him, as he held up his hand to show that it was his right hand.

Sirius sat dejectedly and numbly back in the plastic of the chair, holding tightly onto the white t-shirt instead.

Bryan was turning back around, holding his wand in one hand.

"Ready?" He asked, looking towards Remus.

Remus nodded as he stared determinedly at the ceiling. His entire body was braced and ready, the muscles almost visibly tense.

'Nonononono," Sirius' mind was repeating in answer to Bryan's question. He wasn't ready. He would never be ready. This wasn't right, this shouldn't be happening.

Sirius bit down on his lower lip, as Bryan tapped his wand patiently on Remus' wrist. A clear blue spread over the skin and then sunk into, as though absorbed. He repeated the same thing on Remus' bare stomach.

"The silver spell," he explained calmly, before tapping his wand a second time on each area. Remus winced visibly at this spell, though there was no physical trace of the spell. "And the healing spell."

Bryan turned back towards the desk, and placed his wand on to the top of the stamped papers. Sirius could now see that Remus' paper was at the top of the pile, the red ink blotching out most of the information that Remus had painstakingly filled out.

Bryan picked up the first silver object, which was obviously hot. It had been sitting in some sort of potion. Bryan waited patiently for the liquid to drop back into the bowl, not allowing any of it to hit the desk or floor for fear of the reaction.

When it was dry, he turned back around. It was the 'W' brand. Remus took a deep breath, trying to keep his arm from shaking as he shut his eyes, turning his head away from the right arm.

Bryan approached calmly, and after making sure that Remus' arm was still, he sunk the silver into Remus' skin.

Remus let a low hiss of pain as his features distorted, and his head arched back slightly. He was biting down on his lower lip, trying to still his reaction, even as the sickening spell of his burning flesh filled the room.

Sirius couldn't help himself, he turned sharply away, closing his eyes, and trying to work on breathing, but all he could smell was that awful stench. A gag built up in the back of his throat, but he worked it down, and looked back up, rubbing slightly at his face with the tips of his fingers.

Bryan had moved away, back to the desk to replace the marker in the potion. Remus' body had relaxed again on the table, his arm hanging limply off the wide, the skin red and raw where the 'W' was now emblazoned on his skin.

He was already tensing again though as Bryan returned to the table, bearing the second brand in hand. This one contained a six-digit number and was sure to be more painful. Remus looked as though he was fighting down fear as he tried to prepare himself for the oncoming terror.

Bryan took a steady look at Remus for a moment; none of this seemed to be affecting him at all. He let the mark hover over Remus' stomach for a moment before plunging the silver into the skin.

All the air surged sharply out of his lungs as the fire consumed his flesh.

'Oh God, oh God, I'm dying.' his mind was screaming, as he desperately tried to twist away from the damned silver.

Bryan pressed a heavy hand quickly on his shoulder, refraining him from moving at all as though sensing his movements.

Remus couldn't stand it any longer, his shell of calm and collected broke into a shattering heap as he let out a loud scream, tears streaming from his eyes as the pain continued to consume him.

'Can't. Stand. Sirius. Help.'

His mind was moving rapidly, but was becoming numb. Dark spots were flashing dangerously before his already shut eyes, and he took a deep breath, hoping against all odds that he would pass out.

And finally, he did.

Remus fell limp on the table, as Bryan removed the silver from his stomach, the number proudly proclaiming its bit of Remus' flesh.

Sirius had turned a dark shade of green from where he was sitting, and then he jumped to his feet, realizing that something was wrong with Remus.

"What the hell is wrong with him?" He hissed in a low voice at Bryan was turning to gather up the white rolls from the desk, still looking calm.

"He just passed out. Quite common, don't worry." He answered smoothly as he started unrolling the bandages and applying them to Remus' wrist.

Sirius didn't sit back down. He remained standing, staring mutely at the man. This was too much for him to take. He waited, rather impatiently as Bryan propped Remus limply up, working the gauze around his midsection before finishing.

"That's all." Bryan said simply as he turned back to his desk.

Sirius stared, working on swallow the urge to punch the man for a moment. He turned away, reigning in his anger before walking towards the table, gathering up Remus, who was still unconscious.

He moved a strand of tawny hair silently away from Remus' face, and then turned quickly back towards the door. No time was wasted with putting Remus' shirt back on as his moved out the door and through the first room, ignoring the stares and glances he was getting from the others, the need to get out of that bloody building more important then anything else at the moment.

Sirius slammed the exit sharply behind him, and then leaned against the hot black surface for a moment, working on remembering how to breathe. His head was spinning crazily. Finally, he shook it slightly, black hair flying loose and started back towards where the bike was waiting for them.

Remus was placed carefully on the ground as Sirius worked on getting his white t-shirt back on. The leather jacket was also shrugged off and wrapped carefully around the werewolf. Sirius climbed cautiously onto the bike after that, propping Remus half-sitting up, half lying in his lap. The bike came to life for the second time that morning, and Sirius took quickly to the sky, flying as fast as he could without putting them in serious danger.

x x x

It took Sirius fifteen minutes to arrive back at the Potters', compared to the half an hour it had taken him to get to the branding building.

His landing was rough, and it nearly jostled him off the seat as he held tightly onto Remus. The bike was barely settled before Sirius was jumping off and running towards the house. The back door had been opened for them, and Sirius could hear calm, but distinctly worried voices coming from the kitchen. Lily and James.

Sirius used his foot to get the door open before hurrying inside. James stood quickly as the door opened, but Lily remained sitting, staring in open horror. Her hand curved over her mouth, green eyes openly expressing her fear.

James was moving towards Sirius, who was just standing there now, at a loss of what to do.

"Sirius, Sirius, is he okay?" James was moving frantically, talking in a quick voice as he looked at Remus.

"Passed out." Sirius answered in a hoarse voice, feeling strangely dazed and confused.

And then, miraculously it seemed to Sirius, Lily was taking charge in that motherly, confident way of hers.

"Come on, Sirius, come on, let's get him upstairs to bed," she commanded gently, as she got up from her seat and half led Sirius out of the kitchen.

Sirius didn't protest, just held Remus closely as he listened to the redhead, though for some reason he was having a lot of trouble understanding her words. She was talking to him right now, her lips were moving, and sound was coming out. But what was she saying? Sirius stared. Finally, Lily glanced worriedly over at James, who was following behind them.

"Is Sirius okay?" she asked in a softer voice, despite the fact that Sirius didn't seem to have heard the previous comments.

James glanced unsurely up at his taller friend, and shrugged.

"I think we need to get him into bed too." James answered quietly, as he quickly checked to make sure that Sirius wasn't going to trip as they went up the stairs.

When they reached the top of the stairs, Lily hurriedly opened the door, where the Quidditch poster's players were all poking and prodding each other as they stared.

The four of them moved into the empty room and Sirius set Remus lightly down on the bed, that only yesterday, he had been sitting on, looking completely miserable.

Sirius took a step back from the bed then, as if wasn't exactly sure where he was supposed to be.

"Sirius." Lily spoke, calmly, grabbing onto his arms to make him look down at her. "Are you listening?"

Sirius looked at her blankly for a few seconds before the words finally assembled themselves in his mind, making sense.

"Yeah," he answered in a dry voice.

"I need you to tell us what happened." Lily continued in a gentle, but firm voice.

James looked at her from behind Sirius' back and shook his head fervently. This was not a good idea. Lily ignored him as she looked back up at Sirius, who seemed to be lost for words.

Instead, he placed on hand tightly over his right wrist and then both hands over his stomach. She nodded slowly, showing her understanding.

"Silver." Sirius said softly in a croaky voice, turning away from her. "Those bastards used silver!" he growled, sounding anger and more like his regular self.

James looked shocked, but Lily didn't comment, as she walked carefully over to the bed. Both boys were watching her movements as she reached a slim hand down to cautiously brush it against Remus' forehead.

"No fever." she commented to the other two occupants of the room, though she added a mental 'Not yet.' only for her own benefit.

She moved Remus slowly as though afraid to break him. The leather jacket was removed, and then the white t-shirt, both dropped wordlessly to the otherwise, clean floor. Bandages were inspected to make sure that they would support the wounds the best they could. Finally, Lily sat down on the edge of the bed with a slight sigh, gazing at Remus' face before looking at James and Sirius.

"Sirius, you should go get some sleep. James and I will stay with Remus until he wakes up." Lily said, not mentioning the fact that Remus was probably going to wake up within the next few minutes.

Sirius looked unsure for a moment, but James pushed at his shoulder, nodding his head towards the door to signal for Sirius to go. He shrugged somewhat and then headed out of the room and across the hall to where he was staying.

"Is he really going to be okay?" James asked in almost a whisper of a voice as he glanced out into the hall to make sure that Sirius had really gone into the other room before closing his door.

"He should be." Lily answered in return as she got off the bed and sat down in the desk chair, looking at James. "He's probably going to get a wicked fever tonight though." she chewed nervously on her lip. "That will be the worst of it. But... even after that, those marks are going to hurt very bad."

Her green eyes met James', and they were filled with a sadness that penetrated James, making him feel as though he had suddenly been doused in very cold water.

There was a sudden rustle on the bed and James was oddly relieved when her gaze turned away from him and back to the bed where Remus was starting to wake.

Their tawny-haired friend was making a face, and then ran his good hand over his face, before opening his eyes, looking sleepy and confused. Remus blinked at the two of them, obviously trying to figure out where he was and how he had gotten here. His eyes suddenly flashed in recognition of Lily and James however, and his body relaxed visibly.

"Tell Sirius I'm sorry," He said in a soft voice that was very hoarse.

"Shh, shh," Lily answered gently, throwing a worried sideways glance at James, as she gently ran the back of her hand over Remus' forehead. "Get some sleep, Remus."

He turned his head away from her touch, but closed his eyes, listening to the advice. Within minutes, he was asleep.

Lily leaned back in the chair and James stepped behind her, wrapping his arms around her.

"I'm worried." she said softly.

James didn't answer.

x x x

Remus' dreams were blurs of colour and confusion. He was running, racing through the forest's trees, blurs of black and green forming beside him as his paws hit the blanket of the earth beneath him. His fur was sleek and run back by the wind as though a giant hand had taken itself and ran it along his back. The moonlight was all around, raining from the sky from a ripe full moon that devoured the blackness that in her way.

Howls were erupting from his throat. Keen golden eyes that were the color of frozen sunlight searching for the shadow of the animal that matched the black of the blurred trees.

'Padfoot, Padfoot,' his howls were crying into the noise and beauty of the night that surrounded him as his lithe wolf body swung around the shapes of trees, moonlight leading him on.

And then, yes there, was Padfoot, only a few feet ahead in a small clearing of tree, dark form clearly lit by the silver streams of light. He bounded forward at a faster pace, keen on catching his mate.

He was only a leap away when suddenly, it became very clear to him that this wasn't Padfoot. The being in front of him hadn't changed or moved, just one moment it was Padfoot, and the next it wasn't.

The realization of it sent Remus to a halting stop as he bared his teeth, hackles rising at the new being in front of him. He knew who this creature was. He knew by the stance of the body, and the way the fur moved over its trim, nearly starved figure. The way the moonlight caught the bold eyes that were turning and fixating on him.

There was another howl, but this one wasn't from Remus as the other werewolf bounded forward, knocking Remus to the ground. A paw was pinning Remus' throat to the ground, and he couldn't breathe, he was going to suffocate here on the forest floor.

But the grey-backed werewolf wasn't taking time for that, dazzling white teeth snapping menacingly to reach down and rip into Remus' flesh, tearing at it. Blood was spilling out of him, too much blood, staining and melting into the black of the forest floor.

Remus was howling pitifully in pain and then the green and the silver washed out of the scene and there was nothing but black.

And pain. Pain ripping through his side were the werewolf had bitten him and his stomach and wrist were burning crazily. What had happened to them? He thrashed crazily in the suffocating darkness, trying to get to them, to see what-

There were heavy hands suddenly on his shoulders, holding his small, and now human frame back.

Remus blinked heavily, breathing in sweet air as he glanced up. He could see the shapes of two men through his hazy eyesight; they were taking in the glow of the dancing candlelight.

Deep voices, both of which Remus recognized. He looked around the dark room that surrounded him, his head feeling odd light as he stared at a room he had grown up in.

"-will live. He'll be a dark creature now though. Will be a terrible burden for all three of you." the taller man was speaking in a strange accent.

Remus' head seemed too heavy on his neck, and it lolled slightly to his shoulder as he turned to look at the two men, despite the fact he already knew what part of the conversation was going to happen next. It was an event that had replayed in his mind over and over, each year he grew older, he understand this conversation on a new level of meaning.

"There's no cure?" His father voice was broken, though he was trying to sound strong.

"No." The strong accent of the strange man returned.

He was well known in these parts, despite the fact that he didn't belong here. He had been living here for the past three months, hunting after a werewolf that he had apparently been chasing all over the world. Everyone had laughed at him when he had arrived with his two assistants.

No one had laughed when he had brought back the bodies of his two assistants after the first full moon.

"-silver." was the only word Remus had caught from the last sentence the man spoke.

His mother came running in from the other room, crying and half-hysterical as she threw herself at the stranger, hitting at him, repeating the same words repeatedly.

"No, no, no, you won't take my son from me."

Then his father was restraining his mother and looking painfully at the stranger who didn't seem to notice the outburst, but was talking.

"Silver kills all evil."

Remus awoke from the dream with a cry, clutching at the side of the bed as he tried to shake the dream from his mind. He was breathing heavily as he stared around James' room, cold sweat dripping down his face and back. His skin felt as though it were burning and kicked off the heavy blanket that had been draped over his body, only to stare at the white bandages that were wrapped tightly around his stomach.

He felt sick, he couldn't remember where the bandages had come from. But they were burning him, eating at him. Remus clawed at them, half frantically, as the room spun dizzily around him.

Something grabbed him out of the darkness, moving his hands away from the bandages. He tried to push away, but the other's hold was too strong.

"Remus, Remus," a deep, reassuring voice spoke gently. "It's all right, it's Sirius."

Remus blinked hastily in the dark, staring at the tan, calloused hands that were holding his and then looking up to see the worried face. Something clicked faintly in the back of his mind, and he could suddenly remember everything that had happened that day, and where the bandages had come from.

"Sirius," he said faintly, a hint of tears in his tone as he moved forward, burying his face in the other's chest and wrapping his arms around the slim waist.

"Shh," Sirius answered gently as he sat down on the bed, moving his arms carefully around Remus, a bit awkwardly since he didn't dare press against the bandages.

Remus' skin was overly hot against Sirius' cheek; he could still feel the remainder of the sweat from the dream tracing tiny trails over the flesh. Sirius pulled gently away from Remus, remembering what Lily had told him when they had switched positions in the room.

Sirius moved Remus carefully back down to the bed. The werewolf's eyes shimmered in heat and confused and as he kept his hands tightly on Sirius' shoulder, the pressure from the left one noticeably stronger then the one from the right.

"Remus, you've got a fever, you need to rest." Sirius spoke gently, in a soothing voice, running the back of his hand against the fiery surface of Remus' cheek.

Remus relaxed unsurely against the cool sheets of James' bed. His right hand curled weakly across his stomach; its partner had shifted from Sirius' shoulder to clutch at his wrist, as though afraid to let Sirius go.

"I'm burning, Sirius," Remus whispered weakly, tongue darting out to lick at his cracked lips.

Sirius sat smoothly down on the edge of the bed, massaging at Remus' hand gripping hand with his free one.

"Do you want me to go get you some water?" Sirius asked gently, obsidian eyes fixating on his lover's face.

His heart was being squeezed terribly in his chest, and it seemed that everything Lily had told him to do was passing out of his head as though his mind were being subtly drained by some unseen force.

Remus shook his head forcefully.

"Just stay, please." He answered, shutting his golden eyes again as he brought Sirius' hand to press against his cheek once more. "Stay with me, please, Sirius." He repeated, his tone pleading as though he fully expected Sirius to abandon at the first chance he got.

"I'll stay." Sirius answered softly in a choked voice, lying down next to Remus, though he had no intention of sleeping.

Remus moved closer to him and Sirius could feel the heat radiating off his small body, rolling off in tiny waves of blistering heat. Despite this, Remus was already relaxing, his breathing becoming lighter, muscles relaxing ever so slightly as he started to fall asleep. His good hand was still tucked safely around Sirius', and the darker haired man adjusted their fingers so they were twined together before leaning forward and gently kissing Remus on the forehead.

Sirius didn't know how long he lay remained next to Remus, unmoving as he watched the steady rise and fall of the werewolf's scarred chest. His body had cramped up from laying in the same position for so long, but he didn't dare to move in anyway for fear of waking Remus again.

After the light from the sun had completely faded from the room, leaving only shadows to wrap themselves around Sirius and Remus, Sirius heard the door open slightly. There was a brief creak as a thin strip of light spilled its way daringly into the confines of the black room.

Sirius moved his head in tiny movement to see who it was and was greeted with the image of dark unruly hair and glasses glinting in the dark.

"James," he whispered softly, despite the fact he knew that the Seeker would already know he was awake.

After living in a dorm room for so many years together, they had learned the ways and patterns of the others' sleeping habits. Peter was always the first one asleep, rolling onto his stomach and snoring loudly into his pillow. It was James who usually was safe in the embrace of sleep. He could drift into unconsciousness the instant he took his glasses off, and would sleep on his back with the covers pulled up over his head. Sirius would take a good long time before he fell asleep, usually tossing and turning around in the covers until he would asleep, completely sprawled across the bed, blankets only covering half his body. The Black would awaken instantly at the slightest hint of noise. But, it was Remus that would stay up long past all of them, his nose buried in some book. No matter what they had done that day, Remus always seemed to suffer from some incurable insomnia, that not even a potion could rid him of. When he finally did succumb to the drowsiness that would invade his eyes, his breathing became noticeably lighter, sleeping curled up on his side, never moving from whatever spot he had fallen asleep in.

James didn't hesitate to move into the room once he heard his name faintly spoken. He left the door open behind him, not willing to make any further noise as he stepped inside. His eyes roamed over to Remus for a moment, studying him wordlessly before returning his bespectacled gaze back to Sirius.

"How is he?" James asked, kneeling by Sirius, despite the fact he was facing the other's back.

"The fever kicked in like Lily said it was, but I was able to get him back to sleep." Sirius answered in an immensely quiet voice, talking awkwardly over his shoulder.

"Need anything?" James questioned, not stating the fact that he found it very impressive that Sirius was staying still for so long of a time, despite the reason.

"No." Sirius replied. "Thanks." He added, wishing that he could further communicate his gratification towards all his friend had done so far.

"Night then, Sirius," James whispered softly as he resumed his full height. "Lily and I will be across the hall if you need anything. Feel free to wake us."

Sirius nodded faintly in the dark as James' shadow headed back towards the light of the door, but then paused.

"You're doing a really good thing, you know Sirius." He said softly, not expecting Sirius to answer, as he stood a bit awkwardly in the doorway, not used to talking to Sirius in such a manner. "It's obvious how much you love him... and how much he loves you."

Sirius looked down at Remus' sleeping face as he listened to James' words, not knowing what to say in return for that. But then again, he wasn't sure he needed to say anything. The door shut almost silently behind James as he headed back across the hall.

Sirius sighed lightly, squeezing Remus' hand gently from where he was holding it, before finally falling asleep.

x x x

In the middle of the night, Remus sat up coughing violently, and grabbed at Sirius' shoulder with one shaking hand, despite the fact that the other was already awake.

"Sirius, Sirius," Remus was repeated in a muffled, and choking voice, due partially to the fact that one of his hands was covering his mouth.

Sirius sat up quickly, rubbing at Remus' back with his hand.

"What's wrong?" Sirius asked urgently, peering into Remus' face, as he tried to get the werewolf to relax.

Remus didn't answer as he pulled away from Sirius, going over the end of the bed and hurrying out of the room. Sirius was after him in an instant, long legs being thrown to the floor as he followed Remus out into the quiet hall.

He could already hear Remus retching painfully in the bathroom, and Sirius winced slightly as he followed into the bathroom. He didn't bother turning on the light as he shut the door behind the two of them, pulling Remus' tawny locks away from his face and resuming the gentle rubbing on Remus' back.

Sirius could feel the muscles tensing and relaxing wildly as Remus gulped heartily for air. He was hiccupping slightly, tiny noises of pain and displeasure escaping his throat as one of his hands clutched at Sirius' naked knee, the other pressed against the cold surface of the white ceramic floor.

A few minutes passed before Remus leaned weakly back against the wall that was across from the toilet. His skin was a chalky white, and his hand was still clutching at Sirius.

Sirius moved his body up slightly, without standing so that he could reach one of the cups that perched on the edge of the sink and filled it with cool water before handing it to Remus, who took it in a shaking, bandaged hand.

"Sorry," Remus said in a croaky voice as he took a sip, color coming back to his cheeks gradually.

"Stop apologizing," Sirius answered in a stern tone as he leaned forward to press his hand against Remus' forehead. "Your fever's gone down a bit." he added in a softer tone after a few seconds.

There was no answer from the werewolf as he moved to lean his head gently against Sirius' shoulder, shutting his eyes a bit.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep anymore." Remus spoke in a soft voice.

Sirius just wrapped his arm carefully around Remus' waist, the itchy bandage rubbing against his upper arm.

There was unspoken conversation passing between the two of them about what had happened earlier that day as they sat on the bathroom floor pressed up against the wall. It was something that neither would ever want to verbally mention, because it would mean reliving delicate moments and painful emotions that were already known, easily understood, and accepted by the other. It had unalterably changed both them both as individuals and it had changed the definition of 'them'. The subtle, but present transformation couldn't be expressed either. But it was there.

The situation was one of their first true challenges as a couple (and if analyzed closely, it could be distinctly defined as the second true challenge, the first being the incident with Severus Snape.)

Sirius ran his free hand gently through Remus' tangled honey locks as he thought over all this, the observations swirling in his mind almost subconsciously.

It was a new level of relationship, though to an outsider, it wasn't visible. It was just seeing Remus and knowing that Remus was his to protect, and the knowledge that Remus had given him that permission to protect him.

It was painful and powerful all in the same moment.

Sirius turned his head slightly and kissed Remus softly on his temple, dismissing all his earlier thoughts.

After all, he couldn't explain it. But that didn't really matter to Sirius. It just mattered that he knew that there was a difference.

x x x

It took Remus nearly a full week before he felt well enough to venture out of bed. Sirius stayed with him that entire week, making sure that Remus was as humanly comfortable as possible. He changed the bandages that were wrapped tightly around Remus' slim body, and tried to ignore the fact that Remus looked at James' ceiling every time, refusing to look at himself or even Sirius. A tight look would always be across his face at this time, and afterwards he wouldn't say anything, just curl close to Sirius.

Remus was unnaturally quiet the first few days afterwards, and Sirius let him escape to the various books that Lily brought for him.

Gradually, he started to talk more like himself again, inquiring about various Quidditch games that were taking place over the week. Despite the fact that Remus hated flying more then anything in the world, he loved watching Quidditch. The questions would get James and Sirius into a frenzy as they described the games to him, trying to reenact some of the more astounding moves from the games on the ground, which usually resulted in Lily raising her eyebrows at Remus behind James' and Sirius' backs in amusement.

On the sixth day of being stuck in James' bedroom, Remus tugged at a lock of Sirius' dark hair from where the other had been sleeping, reclined on the chair of James' desk.

Sirius had woken up, clearly startled, mumbling as he tried to form words to ask what was wrong.

Remus had smiled at Sirius, who was blinkingly sleepily at him, obviously trying to figure out what was going on without success.

Remus leaned forward and kissed Sirius gently on the lips, fingers untwining from the other's hair.

"Mmm... Remus?" Sirius asked in a loud yawn as Remus pulled away, finally regaining his ability to speak.

"Let's go down to breakfast." Remus said simply, but the request had a profound effect on Sirius, who, looking extremely surprised seemed to notice for the first time that Remus was completely dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting for Sirius.

"Whatever you want." Sirius answered in return, immediately erasing the shock from his face, knowing that if Remus wanted to go down to breakfast, he was ready, and there was no questioning him.

Sirius ran a few fingers through his hair as he stood, trying to get the tangles out of it, not bothering to change out of the pajama bottoms he was wearing.

Downstairs, Lily was already at the table, looking annoyed that she had been unsuccessful at pulling James out of his slumber.

She had greeted Remus and Sirius with a smile, and said nothing more.

The rest of the vacation followed like that. There were gentle questions asking about how Remus was feeling, but no invasion of his privacy, and that was the way, Sirius figured, Remus liked it. They weren't evading the topic in fear that Remus would have a mental breakdown or something and not over proportioning it. Just simply treating it normally.

Sirius for the most part didn't worry too much about Remus. The werewolf seemed to have recovered fully physically, and they had talked over the branding briefly, in which Remus had assured Sirius that he would get used to it.

There was in fact, only one thing that had Sirius really worried. In exchange for the clean, simple t-shirts Remus had begun wearing, large, hooded sweatshirts, despite the fact it was sweltering every day in the August weather.

Sirius figured he knew why, though he never mentioned it to Remus.

The rest of the vacation blurred quickly by them into a mass of journeys on the motorbike, endless Quidditch playing and the plotting of pranks in the upcoming year until they finally arrived at the last day.

The morning they were packing to leave, Sirius abruptly disappeared, and apparently no one had any idea where he had gone.

Lily had lectured for a full hour about how Sirius needed to grow up and become responsible as Remus folded and put both his and Sirius' clothes into their trunks.

He hadn't listened to word Lily was saying, just nodded every now and then as James tried to drag his ranting girlfriend away.

Another hour passed and the now filled trunks were dragged down the stairs, and there was still no sign of Sirius.

Remus was sitting nervously on the couch as James joined Lily's 'Sirius is an idiot' rant. Remus tuned the pair out as he toyed nervously with the lock on the trunk. They were going to be late if Sirius didn't show up soon.

Suddenly, the familiar sound of the motorbike's gentle roar filled the yard, and James raced to look out the window, scowling as he watched his best friend jump hurriedly off the bike. His hair was an official mess, and Sirius was pulling a rubber band off his wrist, biting at it with his teeth as he tried to pull his hair up and out of his face.

"Sorry, I'm late." He said a bit breathlessly as he walked into the living room giving no explanation to his whereabouts as he leaned over to kiss Remus.

"Don't worry about it," Remus answered with a small smile as Lily and James started to open their mouths to simultaneously yell at Sirius.

They were all loaded up into Mr. Potter's car seconds later, since Sirius was the only one of the group that could legally apparate. Within a few minutes they had arrived at the station.

The four of them piled out of the car, grabbing at owls and trunks, wishing James' mother hearty farewells as they raced to catch the train that was threatening to leave without them.

Breathless, they fell into seats in their compartment, not at all surprised to see that Peter was already there, sullen and moody.

He greeted them with a nod of his head before they fell into telling him stories of the summer, talking so rapidly it wouldn't have been surprising if he hadn't understood a word of it.

The 'Long-Going Adventures of the Summer' (dubbed by Sirius and James) conversation took up half the train ride before it was cut to an end as Lily told them to go get into their robes.

James raised his eyebrows a few times at Sirius, grinning mischievously as he followed Lily towards where the trunks where stashed.

Remus rolled his eyes playfully as he stood to go get Sirius and his robes out of the trunks, but was instantly pulled back down. Sirius had grabbed onto his left wrist, making Remus stumble backwards into Sirius' lap.

"You're evil." Remus commented, pushing mockingly at Sirius' chest.

"You have no idea." Sirius replied with a smile as he leaned down and stole a kiss.

"I have to go get the robes, Sirius," Remus argued, as he pulled weakly away from Sirius, despite the fact one hand was already tangled up in obsidian locks.

"Wait, wait, I have something for you." Sirius answered softly, shifting his hips as he reached into the pocket of his jeans.

Remus watched with puzzled interest, swinging his legs back down to the ground, but remaining on Sirius' lap, back pressed against the broad chest.

Sirius had retrieved a rectangular, but nearly flat box from his pocket. Remus didn't bother to question how Sirius had managed to fit it in his pocket as Sirius wrapped his nimbly around Remus, presenting the box to him.

Remus looked up at Sirius questioningly for a moment, before carefully lifting the box to reveal what was inside. A large watch was sitting amongst the black velvet. Remus picked the object up with tentative fingers; it was silver in color, but obviously not made out of the metal. Sirius put his hands over Remus', flipping the watch carefully around so that Remus could see the back of it.

An engraving was there, etched into the delicate surface.

'To Moony. Love, Padfoot.'

Simple, yet perfect.

"May I?" Sirius breathed lightly into Remus' ear, taking the watch out of his hands and picking up his right wrist slightly, cloth hiding the 'W' that lurked on the surface.

Remus nodded slightly, dumbly as he watched Sirius' hands move. The cuff of the sweatshirt was pulled up as Sirius latched the watch neatly onto his wrist. Remus flipped it back over so that he could see the face of the watch. It completely hid the 'W'.

Remus smiled a bit as he looked back up at Sirius, kissing him gently on the lips.

"It's a funny thing to be late while you're picking up a watch, love," he commented with amusement.

"A simple 'I love you, Sirius', would have worked, Remus." Sirius answered teasingly, nuzzling the werewolf affectionately.

"I love you, Sirius," Remus replied as Lily, James and Peter re-entered the main part of the compartment, fully dressed in their robes.

Remus pulled hastily away from Sirius, blushing a hot crimson red as he pulled at Sirius' hand, moving them towards the trunks.

Sirius grinned triumphantly at James as he was pulled willingly along.

x x x

Only one person ever asked Remus why he wore an old, worn down watch on his right wrist instead of his left: Harry Potter.