A/N: Oh snap, I haven't written a fanfiction in almost two years now. I honestly didn't think I would pick it up again. And I've never written a Harry Potter one before. I woke up with this idea in my head and it wouldn't go away. I had to write it even though I'm not entirely pleased with the way things turned out. They seem a little out of character to me and the ending seems a little rushed, but I did the best I could. I'm a little rusty, I suppose. Constructive criticism welcomed. Takes place before Voldemort came to power, blah, blah, not important, really. PS – couldn't think of a story title, at all.
The Poisonous Moon
Despite the fact that it was rather far away from the rest of the neighborhood and had enough empty space around it to make a healthy sized Quidditch field, it was a pitifully small home. It had a narrow and pointed look about it and looked particularly uninviting with one of the front windows boarded up and most of the front garden overgrown with weeds. One of the windows upstairs was open and the moth-eaten grey curtains billowing in the wind, but other than that, the house looked utterly lifeless.
Sirius Black took little notice of the residence's outside appearance however. Not only did he simply not care, but his own home really did not look much better in his opinion: just because he could afford a better place didn't really mean he took care of it like he should, lazy git that he was. Walking up the long path to the entrance, he rapped loudly on the door. It echoed a short distance through the house then dissolved into the air, but there was no answer. A little annoyed, he knocked again, this time accompanying it with a short call, "Remus! Come on, answer the door already."
There was again no response and for a moment Sirius wondered if Remus was simply not home, but that seemed unlikely. Where would he be? It was an early Saturday morning and anyway, cruel as the assumption was, he did not think his friend was employed at the moment. He knocked a third time, now caught somewhere between annoyance and worry. "Remus? Come on, it's me," he said loudly through the wood.
After a few more moments wait, Sirius sighed loudly, "Damn it, Moony, I'm coming in, alright?" And without waiting for the response that probably would not come, he squeezed his eyes shut and Apparated inside. Of course, he could have simply done that in the first place, but he had before and had been continuously chastised for it. Now he was rather displeased at the utter lack of response he had gotten the one time he had tried to be polite.
The inside of the home was quite a bit different from the outside: it was roomier looking and the grey and brown faded furniture was all neatly arranged, as if there had been an incredibe amount of thought put into where each trinket belonged. Even so, the drab, worn look of the place made it resonate with a less than cheerful mood.
"Moony?" Sirius called out to the empty parlor and again received no response. He was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable, though he was certain there was a perfectly plausible reason for the house to be empty. Nothing bad could have happened because Remus Lupin could certainly take care of himself and besides, there was no sign of a struggle anywhere. Sirius continued through into the living room, glancing around uncertainly.
He wandered through the house for the better of five minutes, now and again pausing his search to examine one Muggle item or another; Remus liked to keep them around as many of them had belonged to his mother. Finally, Sirius came to the last door in the house, the only one that was closed. He didn't remember exactly where it led and opened it slowly. It creaked open with an unpleasant sort of noise, but otherwise gave no trouble. Behind the door were stairs that led into the basement.
Sirius, though admittedly rude, thought about just leaving then as the house was obviously empty and there was really no point in venturing into the dark, dank basement of his friend's home, upon which he had already intruded so badly. But some unreasonable part of him argued that he had already toured the rest of the place, so why not just make the visit complete? Shrugging silently to himself, the young Black proceeded.
"Lumos," he muttered softly as he descended the stairs. He was perhaps halfway down when he noticed something that made him stop dead in his tracks. There were dozens of huge, deep, claw marks in the wooden walls around him, and looking down, they were all over the stairs too. Realizing immediately what he had failed to remember before, Sirius jumped down the rest of the steps and hurriedly lit the torch at the bottom, revealing the whole ugly room to him.
Remus lay naked in a pile of old sheets and tattered robes in a corner of the basement, full of fresh cuts and scratches and clearly unconscious. Sirius cursed to himself as he rushed to his friend's side. How could he have forgotten that last night was the full moon? As long as he had known Remus and as important as the full moon had been all their years at Hogwarts, how could he have forgotten? What the hell sort of friend was he to forget?
Stuffing his wand in the pockets of his robes, Sirius wrapped the unconscious young man up carefully with his sheets. The basement was a horrendous looking place, even though Sirius had spent a night a month in the Shrieking Shack his last two years at school. There did not seem to be an inch in the room that was not covered in claw and teeth marks. The wood was beyond abused and he knew it was only by magic that they did not ever seem to penetrate the other side. There was very little furniture in the room and what was there was irreparably broken. There were a few chains in another corner, but the links had been broken. Sirius could only imagine what Remus put himself through to ensure that he did not escape his own house every full moon.
Retrieving his wand, the slightly older man magicked his friend into the air and accompanied him out of the wretched basement. He set Remus down in his room and proceeded to do an amateur healing job on his various self-inflicted wounds. He closed what cuts he could and cleaned out the rest with various potions and things he found behind the bathroom mirror (who told him what did what in a tired, sleepy sort of voice).
There was a rather long, deep, nasty looking gash on the side of the werewolf's face that made Sirius wince. When he touched it with the cotton swab, Remus shuddered in his sleep and the Disowned Boy of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black hesitated to do it again. Nevertheless, he did, mumbling something unintelligible to Remus's lifeless form: perhaps an apology for forgetting then coming uninvited into his house to find him in such a less than desirable state. He knew Remus hated it when people found him like that afterwards; he thought it was a testament to his weakness, but Sirius rather admired him for putting up with everything the way he did.
After he was done tending to the other's wounds and bandaging him up, Sirius slipped out quietly, into the kitchen, where he sat staring at the sliver of light that shone through the slight gap in the dusty old curtains. He debated in his mind what to say to Remus when he woke while still berating himself for having forgotten the full moon. Just because they were no longer at Hogwarts and just because they no longer had appointments to run around in the Forbidden Forest those nights didn't mean he was allowed to forget.
For a while after they had graduated, Sirius, James, and Peter had continued to accompany Remus during his transformations, but as their lives took them steadily in different directions, the other three Marauders had found it increasingly difficult to find time for the full moons. Of course Remus never said he minded and accepted their explanations of other appointments with a knowing and understanding smile. He had never complained that he hated to suffer alone, even though they all knew he did.
Sirius's grey eyes wandered away from the light and into the dusty, brown kitchen. They landed on something hard and silver looking on the counter next to Remus's wand. After squinting at it for a moment, Sirius muttered, "Wingardium leviosa," and had the object fly over to him. It was a Muggle gun and Sirius had never seen a real one before, though he knew what it was (he had taken Muggle Studies for all of a year before deciding that he could learn all he wanted about Muggles by hexing Lily's sister at King's Cross Station at the beginning of term every year and watching her reaction).
What was Remus doing with a gun? Then without thinking, Sirius unloaded the clip and stared. There were two pure silver bullets inside. What was Remus doing with silver? Silver bullets?
The Animagus cast an unabridged look of terror in the direction of his friend's room, various unpleasant conclusions exploding in his head. Remus was strong though; Remus was strong; there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the gun and silver bullets. But Remus wasn't a vengeful and vindictive person either; he was the kindest person Sirius knew, the good boy, prefect and everything. What was he doing with a gun and the most effective means of killing a werewolf?
It was not awfully long before Remus Lupin decided to stir from his uncomfortable sleep and rise from his bed. He immediately took note of the fact that he was not lying in the basement and the fact that he was (mostly) properly bandaged, though his wounds still stung dully and his body still ached. Putting a hand on his head, he shook it slightly in an attempt to clear his mind and think of a logical explanation to why exactly he was in his room when he distinctly remembered locking himself downstairs last night (besides that, his room was in perfect order, which most certainly would not have been the case if he had been there all night).
There was a muffled thump outside his room and he sighed, gradually waking from his daze and realizing. Only Sirius was rude enough to have come in when he didn't answer the door and so he must have found him downstairs after kindly inviting himself in. Throwing on some frayed but clean clothes, Remus made his way to the door, limping slightly.
"Padfoot?" he called tiredly as he turned out of the hall and towards the main of the house. Sirius, who had been staring at the gun for a good while now, looked up suddenly from the ominous silver. He said nothing and allowed the young man with light brown hair to find him in the kitchen. Remus stopped when he saw his friend and sighed a little, "Sorry you had to see me like that again, and thank you," he said quietly before forcing a smile, "What brought you here?"
But Sirius did not seem to actively register what Remus was saying and just kept staring at him with an unreadable expression. The lycanthrope frowned and looked questioningly at the other, "Sirius?"
Breaking slowly out of his trance, Sirius turned away and placed the two silver bullets, which he had extracted from the clip, on the table with a loud clank. "What're these, Moony?" he asked in a quiet voice without looking back at his friend.
Remus froze and stared at the silver, glistening slightly by the light that poured through the crack in the curtains. He had forgotten that he had left it on the kitchen counter. He had forgotten, almost, the stinging, burning sensation in his fingers when he had touched them to put them into the gun. He didn't reply and rubbed the fingers of his right hand together unconsciously.
"They're silver bullets," Sirius answered for him, unsurprised by the fact that he had received no reply. "They're deadly to werewolves," he continued in a voice that seemed to mock calm, "So I was sitting here wondering, what a werewolf would be doing with something that could so easily kill him." At those last words, he turned back to Remus and stared at his amber eyes – still a vivid gold from the previous night's transformation – with his own depthless greys.
But still Remus did not provide an answer, instead looking at Sirius with a most painful expression of regret and fear. He honestly did not know what to say. It was clear that Sirius had already made his own conclusions and while they were not completely wrong, they were not completely right either, and he just didn't know how to explain that (and didn't want to either). Besides, he knew that his friends had liked to think that he was strong, especially when he tried to brave it all out alone, and he hated to disappoint them even if they had never really been right to think that.
James, Sirius, and occasionally Peter would always used to complain about anti-werewolf legislation on his behalf, but half the time, Remus found himself agreeing with the Ministry rather than his friends. He was a monster and he knew that. He needed to be controlled and restricted from positions where he could potentially endanger others. He needed to be kept away from populated towns and villages, places where there were lots of people and blood. He needed to be locked in a basement every full moon and kept isolated from everything that the wolf wanted to destroy.
It was a miserable existence, but it was necessary as long as he was alive and as long as a cure did not exist. And while not normally pessimistic, Remus found it very difficult to believe that a cure could ever exist. Lycanthropy was simply not a curable disease. But having accepted that his life was destined to be isolated and lonely, the werewolf had a hard time thinking of a reason to get up at all some mornings and occasionally thought it would be infinitely better if he just not wake up at all.
"I wasn't going to kill myself, if that's what you were thinking," he said finally, softly, looking at Sirius with mournful eyes.
"What the bloody hell am I supposed to be thinking then!" the other man exploded suddenly, having been glaring at his friend throughout the entire silence with an increasingly frustrated, angry, (and terrified) glare. "What are you doing with silver, Remus?"
"I don't know," came the quiet reply. Remus looked rather ashamed, but Sirius was too livid to notice.
"What do you mean you don't know! Where did you get these anyway? They must have cost a fortune! You don't have a fortune to be spending on something you don't know why you have!" Sirius all but shouted, hand slamming down on the table with the bullets and blood draining from his face in anger.
"Must I have a reason?" Remus muttered vaguely, showing the first signs of impatience and frustration.
"Yes!" the other growled, rather dog-like.
"Well, I haven't got one," the former answered in the same low voice with an edge of something like defiance.
"Yes you have," Sirius insisted crossly, "You've got a reason, and you're going to tell me so I can tell you how much of a stupid, unreasonable git you are."
If Remus didn't feel very much like a werewolf backed into a dark corner with wands stuck in his face, he might have found the comment extremely amusing. Sirius acted like a spoiled brat who knew exactly what he wanted and who knew, somehow, that he would eventually get just that.
"If you don't want to use these on yourself, then who, huh? Greyback? Do you want revenge, Moony? Why do you have silver bullets? Maybe you want to do both, huh? Is that why you have two? One for Greyback, one for yourself? Is that it, Remus!" Sirius demanded loudly, face nearly white.
"I don't know! I don't know, alright! I don't know why I got them, what I intend to use them for! Stop yelling at me!" Remus hissed back, suddenly sounding so different that Sirius looked a little shocked. "I don't want to die! I just want the werewolf to die! I just want it to stop, but I could never do it anyway; too much of a bloody coward, so it doesn't matter that I have the bloody silver!" he sank to the floor and leaned against the wall of the counter, glaring at Sirius, "So you've got nothing to worry about, alright?"
Sirius felt his anger evaporate as quickly and suddenly as it had come, unable to compete with Remus's emotional outburst. "Moony…" he started again, softer now, more pleading.
"What!" Remus barked, his breathing accelerated, "Still going to tell me how much of a stupid, unreasonable git I am? Go ahead, but I already know!"
Sirius winced at his own words being reflected back at him so swiftly and didn't know what to say, just as Remus hadn't before. He had always known, of course, that Remus hated his wolf. Even when they could all spend full moons together and he could become a little less wolfish in their company, deep down, he still hated it, and hated that he had 'dragged' his friends down with him.
The black-haired young man absolutely hated that there was nothing he or anyone else could do for Remus. Helplessness and inadequacy was not something he wanted to get used to feeling. He hated that there seemed to be no hope or chance that his friend might ever be fully human again. He hated that something so undeserving of suffering was forced to live the way he did. He hated that Remus was perfectly justified in feeling what he felt about his condition.
Most werewolves went crazy with their lycanthropy. They became lunatics; the wolf possessed them entirely and slowly sapped away their humanity. And with all those anti-werewolf laws in place, they were encouraged to hate wizard-kind even more. He had always admired Remus for sticking it out so well, for clinging so stubbornly to his kind and forgiving personality, but at the expense of doubting his friend's strength, Sirius had always feared that one day he would succumb to all the things the other werewolves they heard about succumbed to: madness.
But Remus had been Remus for so long, Sirius would be damned if he let the madness take him now.
"Remus…" Sirius got up from his seat by the kitchen table and sat down on the floor next to his friend. He suddenly felt as if the nickname 'Moony' was largely inappropriate. "You're not an stupid, unreasonable git," he muttered, swallowing some amount of pride by taking back what he had said earlier. Remus's breathing had slowed a bit in the short silence and his only response was scooting over a little and mumbling something mostly incoherent, but sounding suspiciously like, "Keep away from me, I'm a monster."
"You're not a monster," Sirius said as firmly as he could, "You've never hurt any of us." It wasn't entirely true. He, James, and Peter had all sustained various minor injuries from their romps with the werewolf, but there had never been anything serious.
"But I'm becoming one," whispered the lighter haired man, taking a deep breath, "Every month it's getting worse. I want to kill people, Sirius. I want to kill you and James and Lily and Peter. It's like the world gets all red and the only thing I want to see is all of you dead and bleeding." He closed his eyes briefly and gave a small shudder, "Sometimes it feels like I actually did it. I'll dream that I've broken out of my basement and hunted all of you down. What if it actually happens one day?"
He knew it was a rhetorical question, but Sirius felt compelled to answer anyway, "It won't. You won't kill us, Remus; we're not helpless you know. We'll stun the bloody hell out of you," he tried with a small laugh, but Remus didn't return it, didn't even crack a smile.
"All of you would be safer if I wasn't around," the lycanthrope mumbled melancholically.
"Shut up already," Sirius sighed with a bit of his old impatience, "What's wrong with you? If we cared about that we would have never been friends as long as we've been. You know that. You're not any more of a danger to us than dragons and chimeras and gryphons are to Hagrid and he loves them anyway. We love you anyway, Remus."
Remus knew all of that though, had always known. His friends' acceptance meant more than anything else to him and he hated disappointing them with his post-teenage angst. But all the same, none of them dreamt about tearing apart the people they loved most every other night and the thought that it might some day happen tormented him endlessly. And if they really cared about him, would they be able to properly defend themselves against him if it ever came to that? The werewolf was not to be taken lightly. It would take more than a few stuns to stop it. Would they kill him first or would he kill them?
"Remus, you're not going to kill anyone," Sirius said plainly, interrupting the werewolf's thoughts, "I'm not going to let you. And that includes yourself, y'hear? So stop thinking about it. Just stop it." He flicked his wand lazily and the silver bullets flew into his hand. Remus flinched reflexively at the sight of silver flying through the air, but said nothing and just stared.
Sirius placed the bullets in the pockets of his robes then turned again to his friend, who was biting his already-cut lip with a clouded expression on his face. He doubted he would have ever been able to kill himself anyway, even for the good of his friends and all of mankind; like he had said, he was too much of a coward and couldn't understand why he was ever sorted into Gryffindor. And as Sirius had guessed earlier, he was not bitter and vindictive enough to seek vengeance on Fenrir Greyback, who would probably kill him first anyway.
The only thing he had done with the bullets since he had acquired them two weeks ago was touch them now and again, thinking about the burning feeling it caused when it touched his skin and wondering how long he would have to hold them before they burned right through his hand. Most of the time, he dropped them after a few seconds, unable to bare the pain and unable to ignore the instinct to throw the merciless silver as far from him as he could.
Remus wanted to ask what would happen if he turned one of them into a werewolf too. If he made James or Sirius or Lily or Peter into a monster like himself. He wanted to ask what they would do and how they would feel, but the words never left his throat. Again, he knew the answer already. They wouldn't care. Nothing would change except they'd all spend their full moons together again perhaps. They wouldn't blame him even if it was his fault and they wouldn't complain just like he refused to most of the time.
"Remus?" Sirius's voice was tentative, uncertain again, and the werewolf refocused on his friend's face, realizing he had been silent for a while now. "Are you okay?"
He supposed he felt better to have let some of it out, but he knew it was only inevitable that the feelings returned, that the dreams and nightmares and full moons returned. But he also knew that his friends would always be there. Sure, their lives were all taking different directions, but they would never really be apart, would they? The Marauders were all brothers and they would all always be there for him, just like he would always be there for them. And everything was going to be all right.
"Yeah, I'm okay," the werewolf nodded vaguely and forced a bittersweet smile, "Thanks, Padfoot."
Sirius broke into a grin, pleased that he all his yelling and lecturing and being far too serious for his liking had finally paid off, "Not at all, Moony." (He felt the nickname was once again appropriate.)
"So back to why you decided to break into my house today?" Remus inquired casually, recovering, and quickly throwing up the image of the normal, reasonable Remus Lupin over the lonely, vulnerable Remus Lupin that only emerged after full moons.
"Oh, yeah!" Sirius exclaimed suddenly and rather loudly, just as quick to and happy to recover from the less than pleasant discussion in which he had just been involved. "I've come to tell you that James and Lily are getting hitched!"
"Really! That's wonderful! It's about time too!" the lycanthrope laughed.
"No kidding!" his friend joined in.
They talked a while about Prongs and his soon-to-be-lost bachelorhood, then about Lily and her Muggle family and how odd it must be for them. It seemed as if nothing else had happened at all that morning and while each knew the other was far from forgetting it any time soon, they were both more than happy to not talk about it anymore for the time being.
Remus doubted his fears would ever really go away, but he was not so selfish as to suck away the happiness from everyone around him like a dementor by acting like a moody prat, especially when he needed to be strong and supportive for James and Lily. It wasn't for himself he was being strong for; it was his friends.
And once again, Sirius knew all this and knew that if Remus broke down again it would only be in private when no one else was watching. He knew that after this especially, that Remus would keep all hints of suicidal thoughts to himself and make certain there was no silver lying around. But Sirius also trusted that Remus was not anything like he feared he was and that he would never really kill himself or anyone else no matter what he thought.
They would never get rid of their respective schemas; that was just how they were and there was no changing it, but there was still that strange universal knowing that they would take care of each other and that in the end, everything would be okay. Sirius took the silver bullets with him when he left later that day, transfigured them into a pair of harmless roses and threw into a river he flew over on his way home.