Remus was a werewolf.

Sweet, gentle, kind, loving, Remus Lupin turned into a vicious blood thirsty beast every sodding month.

Just keep in mind you might not like everything you find out.

The boy's words had been running through Sirius' mind ever since he'd learned the secret. And Merlin did he feel stupid. Snape was right. What kind of daft idiot could have missed something that important? They lived with him for Merlin's sake!

It was simply a reminder of how easily Sirius had ignored his very existence. How had he lived like that anyway? In one short month Remus had managed to take such a hold over him that Sirius felt like not having him by his side, talking to him, laughing with him, snogging him senseless, was going to be the death of him.

It hurt. And what hurt more was that it was entirely his own fault – as both James and Peter had angrily pointed out. They'd warned him this would happen, and they had been right.

He spent much of his free time that day in the library, reading every book he could find on werewolves. By the fourth time he found the quote "…is extremely dangerous and should be killed as soon as it becomes infected…" he was getting both irritated and frustrated. The fact that every single book stressed the fact that werewolves were absolutely not human, no matter how they much they looked that way, also served to put him in a foul mood, until he wound up slamming one of the books so hard that Madame Pince came over to chastise him.

Remus was human. He was sure of it. Once a month he wasn't, that Sirius couldn't deny, but there was no way the shy quiet boy wasn't human on every other day. Something inhuman couldn't have his heart broken, and Sirius had oh so foolishly proved that Remus could.

He picked up one more book and began flipping through it, surprised to realize that this was the first one that wasn't simply about how to identify, escape, and kill them. This one talked about the actual transformations. Sirius paled when it explained how painful it was to transform, as they could apparently feel every shifting bone break, every muscle tear, every joint pop.

It occurred to him how terrifying that must be – changing with no control, feeling the pain and knowing that in moments you would essentially lose your mind, your humanity.

The more he read the angrier he became. This book detailed the prejudice werewolves faced, the legislation the Ministry set against them – ridiculous laws that forbid them certain jobs, forced them to be registered with the Ministry, and forbid them from breeding.

Who the fuck did they think they were that they had the right to tell someone that it was illegal for them to have a child?

When he got to the chapter on werewolf hunters and started reading about skinning he shut the book, closing his eyes and feeling quite sick.

How had Remus lived like that? How had he dealt with all of that looming over his head by himself? And how had he managed to smile in that soft carefree way of his?

It was when Sirius realized that he would probably never get to see that smile again, especially not directed at himself, that he truly began to realize just what it was he had done.

Remus had spent day waiting for Snape and Sirius to tell the school his secret. There was so much pain and worry in his heart that he had become almost numb. He was barely able to care that he would be expelled, because then at least he could be away from Snape. From James and Peter. From Sirius. The combination of it all made him feel as if he were suffocating—drowning.

When the day passed without any frightened stares or attacks on his person he found himself confused. He had expected the entire school to know by lunch and to be expelled and on his way home by dinner. Not that that could really happen - not with the full moon tonight. Dumbledore would certainly let him transform, then ship him off the next morning.

Remus looked around the Great Hall in amazement as everyone went about their normal business, blissfully unaware that a werewolf was in their midst. He sat alone at the end of the Gryffindor table, as far away from James, Peter, and Sirius as he could get.

As he ate Remus could feel someone's gaze on him. Looking up, his eyes locked with Snape, who sat across the Great Hall watching him unblinkingly. There was an odd malicious expression on his face and Remus wondered if he was planning to seek revenge for being left unconscious in the dungeons the night before. Eventually Snape looked away, turning his gaze to Lucius Malfoy, a Slytherin seventh year who had just demanded the attention of the entire table.

Remus returned to poking at his food, having no real appetite at all. The feeling of being watched, however, didn't dissipate, and he glanced around, not overly surprised to see Sirius was also staring at him. The raven haired boy quickly averted his eyes when Remus met his gaze, and Remus felt his heart constrict painfully just from looking at him.

He sighed. The two people who knew his greatest secret were the two people that he couldn't trust.

"Where have you been all day?" James asked Sirius at dinner. Aside from classes he hadn't seen his friend at all. Sirius actually looked a bit ill and he'd barely touched his food. James also noticed that his gaze kept wandering down the table to where Remus sat, eating by himself. Could it be that Sirius Black actually felt guilty about what had happened?

He and Peter had had no intention of even speaking to Sirius after what had happened, but it was hard not to when he had come back to the dorm the previous night looking like a kicked puppy.

"Library," Sirius said. James waited for some sort of elaboration, but got none.

Well fine, if Sirius didn't want to tell him, James wasn't going to ask.

"What were you doing at the library?"

Thank Merlin for Peter.

"Just had some things I wanted to check out," Sirius replied vaguely. James and Peter exchanged bewildered glances.

Out of the corner of his eye James saw Remus stand and head out of the Great Hall. The boy didn't look well at all. He had bags under his eyes and James had to wonder if he'd gotten any sleep at all the night before. He hadn't returned to the dorm by the time he had gone to bed.

Sirius watched him as he went by, and if Remus noticed he made no indication of it. His eyes remained trained on the ground and he walked past them all without even glancing at them.

Peter was staring down at his food before he surprised both James and Sirius by standing up and walking quickly after him.

"Remus," he said, and the other boy turned, looking both surprised and confused. "I wanted to apologize…" Peter trailed off, suddenly feeling like his words were completely insignificant. With a deep breath he continued. "I didn't have anything to do with it…but I… I should have told you." Excellent, now he was stuttering.

Remus stared at him for a long moment and Peter shifted uncomfortably, feeling like the boy was looking right through him. Then his eyes were abruptly off of him, and fixed instead on the enchanted ceiling. The sun was just starting its descent towards the horizon, and the sky was a brilliant shade of orange that would have been serene if it weren't for the fact that Peter was anxiously waiting for something, anything, to come out of Remus' mouth.

"I have to go," was what he said. With that he turned and continued out of the Great Hall at a quick pace, as if he couldn't get away fast enough.

With a sigh, Peter walked back over to James and Sirius. James looked disappointed, while Sirius was staring up at the ceiling as Remus had been, an odd intensity in his eyes. "I have to go check something," he said suddenly, standing.

He was halfway out of the hall before James even had a chance to get out, "Sirius, what…"

Early the next morning Remus tiredly made his way back to Gryffindor Tower from the hospital wing.

The wolf had been worse than usual this month and Remus wondered if it had something to do with his own whirling emotions. He wished he hadn't had to run out on Peter, but not only did he have to get to the Shack, he also had absolutely no idea what he could possibly say to the boy.

Madame Pomfrey had managed to heal the smaller cuts, but unfortunately she could do nothing for the deep gash on his abdomen. Werewolf wounds, even self inflicted, were difficult to heal with magic. Thick bandages were hidden under his robes and he walked slowly to keep from jarring the wound. Madame Pomfrey also hadn't been able to hide the bruises that had most likely been caused by the wolf slamming himself into the door. There was a bluish one forming by his temple and a very large black one along his shoulder, which he had dislocated and was still painfully sore.

The castle was empty; everyone was still in bed. At least that's what Remus had thought until a voice from behind him told him otherwise.

"Lupin, you look like you just got in a fight with a wolf."

Remus turned quickly, breath hitching as the bandages pulled at his wound painfully.

Snape continued. "But I suppose, in some sense, you did." He was smirking, and the predatory gleam in his eyes made Remus feel a little nauseous.

"What do you want, Snape?" Remus asked, not revealing any of the trepidation he was feeling. It was almost impossible to go for his wand between the gash on his abdomen and the fact that he could barely move his right shoulder without wanting to pass out.

"To continue where I left off before we were interrupted the other night." He took a step towards Remus, who promptly backed away.

"I thought I made it clear I wasn't interested."

Snape raised a dark eyebrow. "Who said I cared if you were interested?" He was done playing around.

Remus was looking for a way to escape, but Snape was backing him closer to the wall, and he knew he'd have no chance of outrunning him like this.

"Besides," Snape continued. "If I were you I'd be very interested."

Despite the situation, Remus snorted. "Think that highly of yourself?"

Snape glared. "What happens if the whole school finds out what you are?"

What little color that Remus had drained away completely.

"Parents wouldn't want their children in school with a werewolf. I guess you'd be expelled? That would certainly be a shame. So you see," Snape said, stepping close enough that Remus could feel his breath on his face. "You may want to rethink your feelings."

Remus said nothing as Snape leaned towards him, making no attempt to get away. People couldn't know, he couldn't let them know. He still had two more years to go. He closed his eyes, feeling a wave of hopelessness overtake him as Snape's lips met his.

It came as quite a surprise when the kiss was abruptly ended and he opened his eyes to see Snape on the ground, clutching a bloody nose. Sirius stood in front of him, glaring down at the Slytherin with his fingers still balled into a shaking fist.

"If you touch him again, Snivellous, I will break every finger on your dirty groping hands," he growled.

Snape pushed himself to his feet, trying to look dignified, which was rather difficult to do with blood dripping between his fingers. "Lupin was perfectly willing."

Sirius' eyes flashed dangerously. "And if you try and blackmail him again I will kill you." His tone was so deadly serious that it had both Snape and Remus wide eyed.

The Slytherin glared between them, finally turning and stalking off without another word.

When he was gone Sirius turned, and he and Remus stared at one another for a moment.

Finally he spoke. "Did Snape do that?" he asked Remus, gesturing towards the bruise on his temple.

Remus shook his head, regretting it as he did as that made it start to ache. "Memento of the wolf," he said quietly. Sirius didn't seem to know what to say to that, and they stared at one another a little while longer before Remus let out a sigh. "What are you doing here, Sirius?"

"I wanted to talk to you," Sirius said, suddenly looking nervous.

"There's nothing to say," Remus said, beginning to walk up the hallway. His nerves, combined with the exhaustion from the past couple of days and his recent injuries, didn't let him get very far. Sirius had just finished saying, "Yes there is," when Remus' knees buckled.

Sirius moved quickly and caught him under the shoulders, becoming even more concerned at Remus' hiss of pain. "Did I hurt you?" he asked, helping him stand. Remus swayed and the boy kept his arm around his waist to steady him.

"My shoulder," was all Remus said, tilting his head towards his right shoulder.

Sirius nodded and draped Remus' left arm over his shoulders, helping him into a nearby classroom. He gently sat him in a chair then pulled another one over to sit across from him. Their knees touched as he leaned forward and said, "Let me see."

Remus was too tired to argue as Sirius gently pushed the top of his robes aside. The dark haired boy cringed as he revealed a large dark bruise that spanned from Remus' shoulder blade to his arm. It was then he noticed the bandages. Blood was already starting to show through the thick white pads.

"Why did Pomfrey let you out of the hospital wing like that?" he asked, shocked at the mediwhich.

"Because I hate it there," Remus responded simply. She had absolutely no defenses against his pleading eyes and she always let him go, despite her better judgment.

It occurred to Sirius that Remus probably spent a good deal of time in the hospital wing. "Is it always this bad?"

"No." He looked at Sirius, oddly expressionless. "Apparently the wolf was upset this month."

Sirius sighed, closing his eyes and lowering his head. "I know you don't want to hear how sorry I am, and I know that it doesn't change a thing, but… I've never regretted anything as much as I regret what I did to you. I just… the more I got to know you, Remus… I was confused. I didn't mean to…" he trailed off, totally at a loss. Remus wouldn't even look at him.

"And this," Sirius said, running his fingers gently over the bruise so as not to hurt him. "This is my fault."

Remus shuddered and closed his eyes as Sirius' fingertips grazed his skin. He tensed when he felt Sirius softly kiss his shoulder.

"Is it your turn to blackmail me?" he whispered. "Still have a chance to win the bet?"

Sirius drew back as if Remus had slapped him. "I would never do that."

Remus said nothing.

"You don't believe me?"

"How can I?" Remus asked, sitting up and yanking his robes closed. "Everything you've ever said to me was a lie."

"That's just it!" Sirius exclaimed, startling him. "Nothing I told you was a lie. No matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise. Everything I said to James was me lying to myself, Remus. I kept that stupid bet going to be near you – so I could hug you and kiss you. I knew if I told you you'd leave me."

"You couldn't just be with me to be with me," Remus said.

"That's not true," Sirius protested.

"Then why," Remus said calmly, his emotions impeccably controlled from years of practice hiding what he was feeling, "did you need to keep the bet going? You needed an excuse, Sirius. A reason. Because why would ladies man Sirius Black suddenly be with some strange scrawny bloke with no friends?" A question Remus should have asked himself a little more insistently before getting so involved. "That way if anyone questioned it, you could let them in on the secret and everyone could get a good laugh out of it." An eyebrow rose. "Am I right?"

Sirius swallowed. His mouth had become dry. Remus had hit it directly on the head. He'd been so afraid of what everyone else would think. "I don't care anymore," he said hoarsely. "I don't care what anyone thinks. I need you, Remus. I'm a terrible person. Only a terrible person would make a bet like that. But… you make me want to be a better person."

"Merlin, Sirius," Remus said, closing his eyes. "I'm only – well, no I'm not even human – I can't save you, or make you a better person or whatever it is you think I can do. Don't look at me like I have some saving grace, or like I'm some ideal to be upheld. I'm not here to be your guardian angel."

Sirius bit his lip. He'd never heard something so cynical or hopeless come out of Remus' mouth. "Remus, you are human. I know you are," he said, and his tone left no room for argument. "Once a month you're a little furrier. So what?" He hesitated before continuing. "It's not about what you can do for me… I want to make you happy. I want to protect you, keep you safe. I want to comfort you when you're sad or hurt. I want to see you smile."

Remus gaped at him, at a loss. Finally, when his voice came back to him he whispered, "Don't say that."

"Why not?" Sirius demanded.

"Just don't." There was something in Remus, something that couldn't let himself believe those words. Not only because they were coming from Sirius, who had lied to him and betrayed his trust.

Sirius knew what he was. How could anyone feel that way about him with that knowledge?

"Remus," Sirius said softly, leaning towards him.

Remus knew, if he let him, Sirius was going to kiss him. And, damn him, Remus almost wanted to let him. The words Sirius had spoken to James suddenly popped into his mind, repeating over and over like a skipping record and he pulled away, not meeting Sirius' eyes. "I can't."


"No, Sirius. Just looking at you hurts."

Sirius actually thought that he could feel his heart shatter. He glanced away. "I understand. Remus… James and Peter… they tried to get me to stop, they didn't want to hurt you. You don't have to pull away from them just because of me. They're fond of you." He didn't say we because it would cloud the issue at this point. "Let us stay your friends? If not me than them?"

Remus sighed. "I don't know. I need time to think." It had all happened so fast. He had heard James' side of the argument though, and he knew the other boy had been trying to protect him, even if he had been the one to make the bet in the first place.

"Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin," a stern voice said from the doorway. Professor McGonagall stood at the door, hands on her hips.

Sirius jumped and Remus looked at her, clearly startled. Both watched her with guilty expressions. Students weren't supposed to be wandering the halls this early, and they most definitely were not allowed to be in classrooms unsupervised.

"You two are six hours early for Transfiguration," she said, eyebrow raised in what might have been amusement. They stared at her. "Mr. Lupin, I heard you had taken ill during the night. You should really be resting in bed." She gave Remus a pointed look. "Mr. Black, please see that he gets there."

Then the usually strict witch ushered the two boys out of the room – at a slow speed for Remus' sake. Had they been less confused they might have caught the sympathetic look in her eyes, suggesting that perhaps she had heard some of the conversation.

Sirius did as McGonagall asked and made sure Remus made it to his bed, then he curled up in his own four poster, skipping Herbology and Muggle Studies (a class he'd taken for the sole purpose of pissing off his parents) for a few extra hours sleep. Once he had checked the lunar chart and realized that it was the full moon he had been up all night, listening to the howls that he could just make out if he strained.

When he eventually woke around midday, Remus was still sound asleep – not that Sirius could blame him. Turning into a werewolf and ripping yourself apart had to take a lot out of you.

Sirius didn't see James or Peter until dinner because of schedule differences. As they ate he told them everything that had happened, leaving out Remus' injuries and his lycanthropy. He promised himself he would never betray Remus' trust again, even though Remus hadn't exactly told him in the first place.

They were both shocked to hear about Snape, and each of them said they'd keep an eye out for him in case he tried to get Remus alone again. Even if the boy couldn't let himself be their friends again, they would watch his back. It was the least they could do.

They ate in silence after that, all of them looking up in surprise when Remus appeared, still looking quite ill, but at least a little more rested, and slowly took the empty seat next to Peter. He bit his lip, gaze on the table, before finally glancing up and giving them a small hesitant smile. His eyes didn't linger long on Sirius, however.

James beamed back and Peter grinned. Sirius felt a great wave of relief rush through him and couldn't help but marvel at how forgiving Remus was. Maybe, in time, he'd forgive Sirius too.