Summary: Years ago, Sirius made a promise. He swore to always be with Remus during his transformations. Even when the two friends are torn apart by suspicion, he keeps his word. What does this mean for the full moons?
Timeframe: Just before James and Lily are killed.
Spoilers: For PoA
Category: Angst, POV
Disclaimers: Hogwarts and all of its characters belong to JK Rowling, I'm only borrowing them to have a little fun and I promise to return them unharmed (well, at least mostly unharmed 0). I'm making no money from this and this is written for entertainment purposes only.
Feedback: Both positive feedback and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated and will be cherished!
Archive: Please ask first.
Note: (1) This is the same story told twice, once from Remus' POV and once from Sirius'. (2) This can technically be a prequel to "Phantom Prisons." You'll certainly better understand why Remus thinks Sirius is the traitor if you read that story. It can be found on my site. (3) I know that most people think that Sirius doubted Remus' loyalties first and that it wasn't until after James and Lily were killed that Remus believed Sirius was the traitor. However, the relevant passages in PoA don't have to be interpreted that way (I never did interpret them that way, myself) and I thought it'd be interesting to tackle the idea from a different angle.
Part of me hoped he wouldn't come. Part of me hoped he would break his word for the first time since the Prank. When faced with the prospect of spending the full moon alone or spending it with Sirius, the former simply seemed easier. I would take the unhindered bloodlust and madness over the pain of facing my best friend. I would take the terror and solitude over being offered false comfort from a traitor. It hurt too much to look into Sirius' eyes and know that everything I saw was an act, a mask, a lie.
I barely heard the knocking over the torrential downpour that blanketed the city in gales of rain. I wanted to pretend that I hadn't. Apathetically, I approached the door to my flat and opened it. A gust of frigid wind blew a sheet of even colder water through the entrance, wetting my face and clothes. I let the liquid drip down my cheeks without bothering to wipe it away. Truthfully, I almost didn't feel it.
Hastily stepping aside, I allowed Sirius to brush past me. For a moment I stared blankly out into the night. It was so clouded and obscured by the storm that I couldn't even see the line of trees that stood not ten feet away. Shivering, I shut the door and turned to face my friend.
Sirius was drenched. His hair was pressed to his head and neck as rivulets of rain coursed through it. Streams of water slid down his black raincoat and pooled around his feet, soaking and muddying the clean white carpet of my living room. He was shivering and rubbing his hands together for warmth.
With shaking fingers, he unbuttoned his raincoat and shrugged it onto the floor. Then he hastily made his way to the crackling fire and planted himself in front of it. He left a trail of dirty wet footprints to mark his path. Normally, I would have scolded him until he agreed to clean up his mess after moonset. Now, it was barely a fleeting thought in my mind.
He didn't even greet me.
Why was he here?
Damn it, why was he here?
To keep up appearances. To ensure he did not raise suspicions. It wasn't because he was my friend. It wasn't because he cared for me. It was because his position as spy to Voldemort was too valuable to forfeit. For his Dark Lord he would spend one night a month with a creature he no doubt despised.
Had he ever done anything but? Had he hated me from the very beginning? No. There was a time when he loved me as his friend and James as his brother. When had that changed? When had he fallen? When had the concern and affection in his gaze gone from being genuine to fake? Had his joy at my finding a job been false? Good Lord. Had his elation at James' and Lily's wedding been a sham?
When? I wanted to shake him by the shoulders and demand an answer. When had he betrayed us?
Despondently, I turned and made my way down the basement stairs. It was a rather small, dank room but it served its purpose. Padfoot and I could spend the night here without fear of harming anyone. Without fear of my harming anyone.
Mechanically, I shed my clothing and folded it into a neat antiseptic pile which I stored in the closet under the stairs, along with my wand. After locking the closet door and hiding the key in a niche I had carved into one of the steps, I let myself slide down in a corner of the room. With my back against the wall, I sat contemplating not the torment that was to come but the friendship I had once held so close to my heart.
Sirius' footfalls were so light that I didn't realize he had joined me until he was sitting right beside me. As always, he'd remain in human form until midway through my transformation. I used to believe that it was so he could soothe me with gentle touches and soft murmurs while I writhed in pain. It seared my soul to think that his reassurances were nothing more than calculated maneuvers on a chessboard of deceit.
The warmth of his hand against the back of my neck was scalding. Unable to control my instinctive reaction, I stiffened and pulled away from him. The contact followed me. For a moment he rubbed his fingers in soft circles against my nape but when I did not relax he withdrew his hand. I could not contain my sigh of relief. The thought of him touching and giving me solace was repulsive.
How could he do this? How could he betray me? How could he betray James and Lily? And why did it have to hurt so much? Why couldn't I accept this and shield my heart from the pain? Why did his treachery have to break something inside me? Because he was my best friend. Because I loved him. I loved him just as much I loved Peter, James, and Lily. Perhaps more.
He was the one who had shown me that it was possible for a werewolf to have friends. He was the one who had worked so hard to help me during the full moons. I couldn't simply forget that. I couldn't simply forget the man that he had been – the man he still seemed to be – even if it would be easier.
I wanted him to leave. I only lacked the courage to tell him. He was reckless and capable of anything. The Prank had proved that. Until recently, I had simply been too blind to see; too blind to see that if he was capable of sending Severus to his death then he was capable of far more than that. At first I'd denied it, had actually told Dumbledore he was wrong about the traitor being someone close to James and Lily. Then, almost against my will, I'd realized Sirius, Peter, and myself were the only ones who could have betrayed the Potters to Voldemort. And of us all, Sirius was the only one with a nasty temper and a proven ability to guiltlessly put a person's life in danger. After all of these years it turned out that he wasn't as different from his family as I had once believed. After all of these years it turned out that my initial insecure fears were true. The friendship that Sirius pretended give me wasn't real. It was all a lie.
Yes, I had been blind but I wasn't anymore. I couldn't tell him to go. I knew that if he suspected that I was aware of his true loyalties, he'd most likely have me marked for death or kill me himself. Anything to prevent me from going to James and Lily. Anything to prevent me from jeopardizing his very valuable position as both member of the Order and agent of Voldemort.
If only he knew. I would never go to James and Lily. Why? It was pointless. They would never believe me. James would never believe it possible. He loved Sirius, just as Sirius was supposed to love him. All I would accomplish by trying to show James and Lily the truth would be to lose two of my very few friends. I wasn't ready for that. My cowardice was an epitome of my selfishness.
Sighing, I closed my eyes. I was cold. Too cold. The transformation would be starting soon. Soon, my pain and doubt would be ripped to shreds by a monster. I would forget who I was. I would forget everything save my thirst for human blood. It was strange that for the first time that I could remember, I welcomed that monster over my own emotions.
It was a good full moon. Not as good as some but better than others. Padfoot and Moony played. Or rather, Padfoot played and I attempted to play. Of course, as always, I hurt him. I did not understand the meaning of the word 'play'. I did not realize it was not equivalent to drawing and lapping up blood. We were both used to that, though. It was normal. After all, in wolf form I didn't understand anything. For six hours it was as if Sirius hadn't broken us apart with deception. For six hours it was as if nothing had changed.
Everything had changed though. Nothing made that clearer than when I awoke from the daze that followed my return to human form and felt no regret. For the first time since Sirius became an Animagus, I felt no regret for having injured him. None at all. He deserved it.
Suppressing a grunt of pain, I opened my eyes. He had moved me. I was in my bed. My clothes and wand were on the nightstand. The storm had quieted down sometime during the night. It was still raining but not with enough force to mask the sound of the shutting door. Sirius was gone. I would not see him again until the next full moon. If I was lucky, perhaps not even then.
Shaking, I pounded on Remus' door.
I was freezing. Water weighed down the unkempt locks of my hair and my clothes were plastered to my body. My skin was so saturated that I would have sworn the rain was beginning to seep into my very bones. Teeth chattering and limbs quivering, I was colder than I had ever been before in my life. It felt as if the wind had tentacles that were slithering directly through my body. If my friend didn't let me in soon I would go numb to all sensation.
Damn it. Was Remus trying to kill me?
Again, I banged my fist against the door. This time, I only had to wait a few moments for it to open. A whiff of delightful warmth hit my body even as my friend was showered in a spray of rainwater. Nodding my thanks, I rushed forward into the blessed heat of his flat. I was bringing in a fair amount of muck with me but I was simply too freezing to think about casting a repelling charm on his clean carpet.
"Sorry about this," I managed to stutter through my still-chattering teeth. "I'll clean up before I leave in the morning."
Trying to massage some heat back into my hands, I turned around. Remus, I was surprised to note, was standing in the doorway. He appeared to just be staring at the storm. I couldn't see his face but he seemed tense and troubled. Again. I sighed. I was worried about him. Ever since Harry's half-birthday, he had been acting strangely. There was always a shadow in his eyes and sometimes, when he looked at me, I thought I saw heartrending pain and something akin to…disgust. Something was wrong.
I wanted to help but it was as if I never had the opportunity. We had hardly seen each other at all this last month. When we had, it was always very briefly and we never strayed past the pleasantries. In fact, Remus had always found some reason to excuse himself and be on his way. It was as if he was avoiding me.
Remus closed the door and shifted to look at me. The coldness in his gaze was unnerving. This was not the face of my friend. This was not the soft-spoken person who so joyously greeted me on the full moons, unnecessarily offering his thanks for always finding a way to keep him company on these torturous nights. This was a distant stranger, someone who I did not know.
Slowly working the buttons of my raincoat, I wondered what I could have done to deserve his uncaring manner. Had I offended him without realizing? Was he angry with me for some unknown reason? Or was he simply frightened because of how powerful Voldemort had become? Letting my raincoat fall in wet folds around my feet, I determined to discover what the matter was. After moonset, I would set everything right between us. If his melancholy mood had nothing to do with me, I would do my best to lift his spirits.
Damn, I was still so bloody cold. Looking around, I noticed that Remus had lit a fire. Quickly, I moved as close to the fireplace as I could. Ah. Waves of warmth were radiating from it. I could feel them penetrating my clothes and skin. It was quite relaxing.
I smiled. Remus' previous flat hadn't had a fireplace. In fact, it hadn't had much of anything. It had consisted of a small, dimly lit room and a rundown kitchen and bathroom. This place was much nicer. It even had a basement for his transformations. I would never tell him, but the only reason he could afford it was because the manager was an old friend of mine and he had agreed to rent it for considerably less than its worth. He had even conveniently overlooked the fact that my friend was a werewolf. If Remus ever found out he'd move out before week's end and demand that I let him earn his own keep.
"So Remus," I tried to sound cheerful, "How have you been?"
I was not gifted with a response. At first I thought he was simply considering his answer, as he so often did, but when the silence stretched into uneasiness I frowned and turned away from the fire. I felt a pang of anxiety. He had left the room. He had left the room without so much as uttering a single word to me.
What was wrong with him? The only other time he had behaved this way was just after the Prank. He had barely spoken to me at all. Thankfully, things had improved. In the beginning, though, unbearable tension had marked our every short exchange. Maybe his pre-transformation fear was combining with his disquietude over Voldemort.
Something, a sinister tightening in my chest, told me it was much more than that.
Forcing myself to leave the heat of the fireplace, I made my way to the stairs. Shutting the door behind me, I pulled out my wand and muttered a locking charm to ensure that Remus would not find a way to escape into the neighborhood. Then I slowly descended into the basement. When I reached the last step I peered through the obscurity and easily spotted my friend. As always, he was silently sitting in the corner.
His face was a contorted mask of misery. Angrily, I cursed the Ministry of Magic. They could easily have concocted some sort of potion to make the full moons less gruesome and painful. The only reason they hadn't was because it wasn't a priority and never had been. They were content to simply have all werewolves lock themselves up for the night. After all, who cared if a half-breed suffered?
Sighing, I sat down next to Remus. There was so much pain in his eyes. I hated it. I hated that it was this hard for him. Shifting closer, I gently touched the back of his neck. My friend let out a muffled gasp. His entire body tightened as he jerked away from my hand. At first I thought I had simply startled him so I ran my fingers in light circles at the base of his head. Remus did not lean back though. He remained rigid and I could practically feel his desire to have nothing to do with me.
Feeling hurt, I pulled my hand away and rested it on my knee. Remus had never rebuffed my efforts to comfort him before. My heart stung and my throat felt dry. I tried to swallow but I couldn't. I was his friend. I was his best friend. Why was he pushing me away like this? If I had done something so horrible as to deserve this treatment, why didn't he simply confront me?
Not entirely sure I would like what I found, I studied my friend's expression. What I saw made my blood run colder than the pouring rain outside. It wasn't fear. It wasn't pain. It was disgust, unadulterated disgust. I wanted to rip something to pieces with my bear hands. I wanted to run from this flat and just keep going. I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream because at that moment, at that exact moment, I realized. I knew. It was Remus. Remus was the traitor. Remus was the one leaking information to Voldemort. Remus was the one betraying us, betraying me.
Everything. I had misinterpreted everything. He wasn't avoiding me and being distant because I had done something to make him angry. He wasn't afraid because of Voldemort's growing power. He was worried that I might discover him. He was worried I might turn him in. He was disgusted because he didn't care about me, didn't consider me a friend and therefore didn't want me here. Not a friend. Not anymore.
Oh God. I felt sick. This was Remus, this was the person I had spent nearly every full moon with for over seven years. This was the man who had always been there for me. This was the friend who had forgiven me for my stupid mistake and– Forgiven me? Had he forgiven me? That was what he claimed but was it the truth? Was that when the lies had started? Was that when he had turned away from his friends?
I trusted him. I had trusted him. I had loved him. He, James, and yes, even Peter, were the closest thing to family that I had. I would have done anything for him, died for him, and he...he was working for Voldemort? Who was he? I didn't know him. I didn't know who he was. He wasn't my friend. He wasn't any of the things I had thought he was. He was…deplorable. What he was doing was deplorable.
How could he? After everything James, Peter, and I had done for him. He had never had friends before coming to Hogwarts. I had gone out of my way to befriend him. I had gone out of my way to help him during the full moons once I discovered that he was a werewolf. I had become an Animagus for him. I had woken him from his nightmares and stayed with him until he fell asleep again. I had done all of this because he was important to me, I cared about him.
And obviously I meant nothing to him. I had never felt such pain. I had never felt such hurt. It ate away at me, like acid burning at my heart. He had been my friend…
I had half a mind to go but what remained of my common sense stopped me. If I abruptly left, right before a full moon, he would realize that I suspected him. He would most likely go into hiding. I couldn't let that happen. I had to take time, come up with a plan that would thwart his schemes. I couldn't be reckless. I had to keep James, Lily, and Harry safe.
So I stayed. I stayed and pretended that nothing was wrong. When he transformed, I changed into Padfoot and spent the night playing with him. I chased Moony around the basement as if Remus hadn't driven a knife through my gut and then left me to bleed to death. I let him sink his teeth deep into my flesh and probe for blood as if he hadn't broken our friendship and hadn't broken my trust.
When the body and mind of the wolf left him exhausted and listless, I even grabbed what he had put in the closet under the stairs and carried him to his room. Tucking him into bed, I deposited his clothes and wand on the nightstand as if nothing had changed.
That was it, though. I couldn't stay with him through breakfast as I usually did. I couldn't sit there on his bed and make sure that he was all right, ask if he needed anything or if he wanted me to come by after work. I couldn't take care of him like that and pretend that I wasn't revolted and wounded by what he was doing.
I had to go.
Silently slipping out of his room I collected my discarded raincoat and used a cleaning charm to return the carpet to a shiny white color. Then I left his flat and closed the door behind me. Dejectedly, feeling as if I could cry, I made my way down the street. Hopefully, I wouldn't have to bear the pain and anger of looking at Remus again until the next full moon.
BTW, I wrote this before HBP came out so if there's anything that doesn't line up with newly established canon, that's why. I hope you enjoyed the story and thanks for reading.