"Sirius Black is an ass," Lily announces when she settles herself on the comfortable sofa next to him with a sigh.

Remus offers a weak smile in return. That's all he can offer now, weak smiles and empty platitudes. He has nothing else, feels like an empty shell.

Maybe he is one.

"I know Remus," Lily whispers, head hovering close to his, lips brushing his ear with breath as she speaks. "I know."

His breath catches in his throat, and he's torn between bursting into tears or running, putting as much distance as he can between himself and everything else. But then her hand settles on his knee and an arm wraps about his shoulder.

"What do you know, Lily?" he manages to choke out, voice hoarse and raspy from threatening tears.

"Enough," she murmurs, voice rich with compassion and no sign of the pity that he'd half expected. "I know about your ... condition. I know about you and Severus. I know that Black did something to screw it all up."

They come then in great rasping gulps, his body shuddering and feeling as if it might just fall apart.

"I love him, Lily," he manages to gasp out between painful sobs. He doesn't bother to ask how she knows. He doesn't care; it wouldn't matter if the whole world knew now. "He hates me."

The arm tightens, draws him down into her chest, burying him in her embrace. And he sobs, until he feels there is nothing left in him but hollowness and pain and anger.

He avoids the Dorm, takes to leaving early in the morning and returning to shower and change while the others are in the Great Hall having breakfast. He avoids the library, holes up instead in a disused nook near the Astronomy Tower that Severus had shown him only a few months earlier. He sneaks back into the Common Room late, when he's sure everyone's in bed and catches a couple of hours sleep on one of the common room sofas.

He tries to see Severus once, a week after the 'incident' in the hopes that he's calmed down, just wanting to find out whether they're irreparably damaged. He ends up with a black eye and a face covered with coarse fur.

He asks Madam Pomfrey to treat the fur and leave the eye.

He remembers a time, only three weeks ago, when they were up in their nook.

Remembers chattering inanely about everything and nothing, remembers thinking to himself that Severus never chatters inanely and wonders what has changed. It takes him a moment before he realises, and it makes him grin stupidly and kiss Severus soundly on the lips.

Him. Him.

Severus gives him a quizzical half-smile, raises an eyebrow. "I didn't think Evans knickers were worthy of a kiss, perhaps I've been trying too hard to impress you?"

He threw he head back and chuckled. "Oh Severus, I love you!"

The blush that lit up Severus's cheeks was worth saying it again. So he did. And again, until Severus shut him up with a sound kiss of his own, and they don't speak again for a while.

Sirius tries to approach him at every class, all apologies and guilty looks, until the end of the first week when he thought his heart might just crumble into a thousand pieces and he ended up knocking Sirius on his rear with a solid right to the jaw.

The Gryffindors had looked on in shock while the Slytherin's cheered, Nott even clapped him on the shoulder with a 'Good on ya mate.'

Severus had merely sniffed as he stepped over Sirius and didn't even spare Remus a look. Lily starts screaming at Sirius, her voice nothing but a constant drone to ears deafened by the sound of rushing blood.

Feeling his chest tighten and his heart break even more, he'd turned and fled in the opposite direction, Lily's screams chasing at his heels.

James begins smuggling him food after the third day, sneaking it to him before their first period, after lunch, leaving it for him next to the sofa each night. He finds fruit in his trunk, and can't help but think to himself that this is just James trying to rid himself of the guilt.

Remus ignores the fruit offerings for the most part. He isn't hungry anyway. How can he eat when he's in so much pain?

James doesn't seem to stay angry at Sirius long, and Remus can't help but feel a little betrayed by him too.

Peter just looks at him with doleful eyes before following after James and Sirius.

Remus can't bring himself to care.

By the time the next full moon comes around, Remus finds himself welcoming the change for the first time in his life, knowing that the pain he will go through is nothing next to the pain he's been in the last month.

He welcomes the single-mindedness that comes with the change and the chance to have nothing on his mind other than bloodangerblood that accompanies the beast.

Lily watches him anxiously all day. James tries to stop him after third period Charms. Sirius watches him mournfully from over James' shoulder.

Brushing past them both is the easiest thing he has done in the six years he has been at Hogwarts.

It's the first full moon since fifth year that he goes through the change alone.

He always feels a lucid sort of detachment in the first few moments of waking after the transformation, until he becomes aware of his body. His bones feel though they're embedded with thousands of shards of glass, muscle and sinew and flesh scraping over them, his skin feels both too tight and too loose.

Then he becomes aware of the rest of himself, the open, raw, wounds. The stench of his own blood and urine, the shame that the loss of control over his own body brings.

For those few moments, his mind is blissfully distracted from his heartache and he understands why he welcomed this transformation, so unlike the others before.

A cool cloth over his forehead brings him back to himself twominutesanhouraday some time later, the burgeoning winter sun barely lighting the room.

A vial is pressed to his lips by a hand too masculine to be Madam Pomfrey's, though he can scarcely focus past his own nose, he knows those fingers, and can barely bring himself to believe.


It disappears once the vial is empty, the cloth place gently over his eyes.

"I had to see if it was true, that you were the beast of last month," the voice whispers so softly he can barely hear. "You truly are a monster."

A weight moves off the bed, his sense of comfort disappears in the echo of footsteps moving toward the door.

They pause, fingers scrabble softly against the wood of the door, nails scraping. "I loved you too, Remus, but I fear it's not enough to get us through this. I ask that you not seek me out again."

As the door softly closes, he finds himself wishing the vial was poison.

They become strangers in the corridors and classrooms, never sharing a glance, yet Remus finds himself watching longingly from time to time.

He believes he feels an equally longingly look occasionally too, but when he searches, the dark eyes never stray near his own.

He accepts Sirius's apologies, but knows he can never truly forgive, nor will he ever trust, just as he knows, deep in his heart of hearts, that he will never love anyone again.

And he hopes, he hopes that one day, maybe not soon, maybe not for years to come, that Severus will have it in his heart to forgive him, to love him again.

He loved him once, and that knowledge is enough to get him through each day. The remembrance of those hands enough to get him through each full moon.

Because, if he loved him once, surely he could love him again?