Author's Note: Thanks everyone who has read up until now! Sorry that this last chapter was a bit long in coming, but I'm a slow writer. There's some serious sap here so be wary, and I've changed the last scene somewhat substantially because it was brought to my attention that Snape was ooc. He might still be ooc but this was the best that I could do, sorry. Thanks to my beta reader Annie for all her help and critiques! The kissing scene is hereby dedicated to her… because she secretly has a passion for lame romantic encounters. Now go on and read the fic. Don't forget to review!
Chapter 3: Perfect Clarity
He had never seen Sirius look so forlorn.
Of course, the shivering, terrified figure in the corner looked exactly like Remus Lupin, but one look into the boy's eyes made it painstakingly clear that Sirius was inside that body. In the eyes of the crouched boy on the ground was a look of pure unadulterated horror, but Remus did not give himself entirely to emotions; it was Sirius who had always been the passionate one, the only person Remus knew who could have made such a complete transformation.
Only Sirius could be affected like this. Only Sirius could take the vicious fury of the wolf and turn it into pure horror and guilt.
Remus reached out with his hands and took a few cautious steps toward Sirius. "Sirius?" he repeated, as though saying Sirius's name would allow the other boy to accept his presence.
Sirius did not move. His eyes were staring unfalteringly at Remus, as though not recognising him.
Slowly, acceptance and recognition filtered across Sirius's face, and Remus took this as his cue to cross the final few steps between then and drop to his knees at Sirius's side.
With trembling hands, Remus reached out to brush Sirius's straggly brown hair out of his eyes. Sirius flinched at the contact and drew back, wrapping the blanket tightly around himself.
Remus faltered, hesitated, and decided that a stupid question would be the best course of action.
"Are you all right?" he asked, cringing inside as the words left his mouth.
Sirius didn't speak. In fact, he pressed his lips so tightly together that they were nothing more than a thin white line on his already pale face.
"I'm sorry," Remus said, feeling that this was rather lame, but once he had started speaking, the words came flowing out, words he had been longing to share with someone else who had experienced the wolf.
"I know it's terrifying, and it's painful, but I… I never meant for you to do this." He closed his eyes briefly, willing himself not to cry. "I want you to know that whatever the wolf makes you think, whatever it does, it's not a part of who you are. I found that out when you guys became Animagi. The wolf can be tamed and… and it doesn't have to be alone."
Sirius blinked at the last words, and a bit of warmth seemed to seep back into his expression. Encouraged, Remus reached out again. This time his fingertips brushed Sirius's cheek and the other boy did not pull back.
"I'm scared too," Remus whispered.
Quietly, he conjured a shabby set of robes for Sirius, holding his wand deftly so that the robes wrapped around Sirius's bruised and bloody figure as they appeared. Sirius, although now fully clothed, did not drop the blanket, and didn't move.
"Sirius?" Remus asked again. Sirius didn't respond, just continued to stare blankly at Remus, as if lost in his own thoughts. Remus felt his heart sink. This was it. Snape had been right. Sirius had seen Remus for what he really was and Sirius was disgusted.
With a deep calming breath, Remus spoke again. "If you don't want to be with me anymore… I'll understand."
He had to work hard to keep the edge of panic out of his voice.
For the first time Sirius's eyes focused on Remus. The eyes still carried a bit of a haunting, terrified look that Remus suspected Sirius would never entirely be able to get rid of, but now something else had appeared in Sirius's face. Was it indignation?
"Don't be thick, Moony," growled Sirius.
Yup, Remus thought, definitely indignation.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Remus twisted his lips into a small smile. "You don't hate me for putting you through this?"
Sirius gave him a dubious look. "I put me through this Moony, because I wanted to. I wanted to understand what it felt like, to know why you were so angry."
He turned away, his eyes staring now at the wall, following the freshly scratched furrows down the sides of the wooden planks. Shuddering, Sirius imagine what would have happened if he had encountered Snape last night. He wiped a droplet of blood off his arm and said in a far-off voice, "I think I get it now."
The words wrenched at Remus's heart. "You didn't have to do this."
"I wanted to."
"I didn't want you to."
"It doesn't matter," Sirius said resignedly. "Its done and I don't regret it. I needed to know."
Suddenly, his voice cracked a little and the somewhat collected appearance that he had seemed to waver and crumble. "I've never felt so scared in my entire life, like I could destroy someone's life, and what's more, I wanted to."
Remus hung his head shamefully. Sirius reached out and slid his hand under Remus's chin, lifting it up so that their eyes met.
"But I know now. I've felt it," Sirius continued. "So this time, when I say I'm sorry, will you believe that I mean it?"
Remus didn't answer. Instead, he knew at that instant exactly how Sirius had felt. Both of them had known the wolf. Both of them had felt that terrifying feeling of viciousness. Both of them had been scared senseless at the idea that the wolf was so heinous that they would be alone for the rest of their lives.
But they wouldn't be alone, they had each other.
It was a moment of perfect clarity, and in that moment, Remus Lupin understood everything. He knew that he was in love.
Sirius was still waiting for an answer. Remus gave him one. Leaning forward slowly, purposefully, he pressed his lips against Sirius's firmly.
It had been far too long since they had kissed, Remus decided. Of course it was his fault, but he was more than making up for it now. His lips began to move fervently, more insistently, and Sirius returned the kiss with just as much passion, just as much desperation.
Everything that had come between them in the past month seemed to melt away. Everything that had happened the previous night, the horrors and terrifying emotions they had both endured, faded into the background. For them, for now, there was only each other.
The blanket slid off Sirius's back as he reached his bruised and bloody arms out to encircle Remus's waist and pull him closer. Remus vaguely regretted conjuring the shabby set of robes. They stayed entwined for a long time, locked in each other's embrace, afraid to let go.
At long last, the broke apart, chests heaving, fingertips trembling and minds reeling.
Slowly, a wry smile crept onto Sirius face.
"Remus," he croaked, "what have you done with my hair?"
Utterly confused, Remus reached up absentmindedly and pulled a strand of his hair across his face so that he could see it.
The usually straight, sleek black hair was arranged in a neat curl and finished with a fluffy pink ribbon.
"Snape," Remus muttered angrily.
He pressed his hands to his face, checking to see if any other damage had been done. As he drew his hands away he saw large purple spots on his hands where the ink that was drawn on his face had rubbed off.
He let loose a string of angry curses at Snape, embarrassed that he had spoiled such a romantic moment with his absurd appearance. His anger ebbing, he blushed furiously at the thought that Sirius had had to kiss him while he looked like this.
Sirius gave a small smirk. "I didn't even know I could blush like that," he said easily. Then, in a soft voice that was only half joking, he added, "As terrible as last night was, as scared as I was, if it meant that you would forgive me, I'd do it all over again, as many times as necessary. You can't possibly think I care what you look like."
Sirius grasped his wand from the floor next to him and pressed the tip of it onto Remus's face, into his hair, removing all the hexes Snape had put in place one by one. Finally, when he was finished, he set his wand down.
"Say, you're one devilishly handsome fellow," Sirius said. Then he paused, as though thinking. "But not as devilishly handsome as I am." He waved his hands at himself to indicate Remus's body.
With a laugh, Remus leaned in and captured Sirius's lips in his own. Sirius returned the kiss fervently, passionately. For a few brief moments everything was forgotten, the month of not speaking, sending Snape down the willow, even the horror of the transformation that they had now both experienced.
Then, there was a brilliant flash of white light and a harsh, unexpected jerk on both their souls.
Panting, they pulled away.
Remus was once more staring into the passionate grey eyes of Sirius, and Sirius looked deeply into Remus's tranquil brown eyes.
"So," Sirius said. "That's it then. Potion must have worn off. We're back to normal."
Remus gave him an understanding smile. "Better than normal," he amended.
"Better," Sirius repeated.
He seized Remus's hand in his own and together, they headed down the secret passageway back to school.
"So Slughorn ended up telling Dumbledore then?" James asked Sirius at dinner that day.
"Apparently," Sirius replied, shoving a forkful of potatoes into his mouth nonchalantly. "Dumbledore called me into his office and everything."
"What'd he do?"
"Just wanted to make sure that I was all right, and that no one got hurt. To be honest, he seemed… not happy about it but like satisfied, you know? Like he had known all along that it was going to happen, ever since what I did last month."
Sirius shifted his eyes guiltily and shuddered slightly at the memory of the wolf and imagining what Remus might have done to Snape.
"Then he let me go," Sirius finished.
"Just like that?" James asked.
"Just like that."
They ate in silence for a few minutes. James wondered vaguely how exactly Remus had forgiven Sirius. He had assumed that Remus was heading for the shack this morning in order to offer Sirius comfort and perhaps forgive him for the previous month's events, but he had not expect his two best friends to return, fully reconciled and closer than ever. They seemed to have some sort of unbreakable connection, some new bond that he could not touch. They just fit with each other, perfectly and completely.
Now if only Lily Evans were a werewolf, then he'd know exactly how to get her to like him.
Trying to take his mind off a certain red-haired prefect, James started in on his and Sirius's favourite topic of conversation.
"Want to have a go at Snivellus?" he asked enthusiastically. "We should think up a punishment for the trouble he caused yesterday."
Sirius shifted uncomfortably. "You know, I reckon we'd better lay of Snivelly for a while. I did almost kill him after all. He deserves at least a few months' break for that."
James stared at him incredulously.
"Are you sure you two switched back?" James asked. Sirius had never turned down a chance to plot against Snape before.
"Remus should be getting back from the hospital wing soon," Sirius said, changing the subject quickly.
"What's wrong with him?"
"Just a few cuts and bruises, courtesy of yours truly. Madam Pomfrey healed him up just fine within a few seconds, but she insisted that he stay in bed for the day."
Just then, Snape strode into the Great Hall, seemingly very pleased himself for trapping who he thought was Sirius Black in a broom cupboard for the night. Snape gave them an exaggerated sneer as he passed the Gryffindor table.
"Git," James muttered under his breath.
Sirius wasn't looking at Snape. He had just spotted Remus, fully recovered, walking inconspicuously through the doors. Sirius smiled at Remus. Remus returned it with a smile somewhat more mischievous than Sirius remembered.
Wondering if being in his body had been a bad influence on Remus, Sirius turned to see that James was reaching for his wand, clearly trying to think of a curse that would cause Snape significant embarrassment but not be discovered by the teachers sitting at the high table.
Before James could fire a spell or Sirius could discourage him from doing so, Snape distracted them both by exploding in a cloud of glittery pink smoke and emitting a series of violently purple sparks.
Every head in the Great Hall turned to look at the disturbance.
As the smoke cleared away and the sparks subsided, the figure that stood in its midst looked like an exceeding ugly girl wearing a horrendous dress the exact same shade of purple and pink as the cloud had been.
Snape (Sirius could only assume that this hideous girl-like creature was Snape) was clad in a purple dress that seemed to be covered in an excessive amount of frilly pink ribbons tied in bows. His hair was long and wavy, swept off his face with a sparkling silver hair band. Caked onto his face were layers upon layers of heavy make up. He reminded Sirius of his little cousin, Nymphadora Tonks, when she tried to morph herself to look like her dolls.
Snape ignored the rumbling laughter and snickers that began to sweep the Great Hall and stumbled awkwardly toward the Gryffindor table. Sirius noted that Snape was wearing extremely tall high heels and seemed to be having a bit of difficulty walking in them.
Two steps from the table, Snape tripped over the hem of his dress and almost went crashing into their plates of food, but he caught himself at the last moment by flinging out his hands to break his fall.
Fingers gripping the table so hard that his knuckles were turning white, Snape snarled, "YOU!"
Snape's face contorted in ill-concealed rage. He jabbed a long, accusatory finger (which bore a large plastic ring) in Sirius's face.
Sirius stared back at Snape, vaguely amused but completely nonplussed.
"Nice look for you, Snape," Sirius said. "Did you wash your hair?"
"You did this to me, Black," Snape hissed. There was a mad sort of look in his eyes, as if he were so angry that he had lost all semblance of self control. "You couldn't handle being bested by me outright in a duel, so you had to resort to sneaky, underhanded tactics, you dirty, cheating Gryffindor."
"Haven't got a clue what you're talking about, Snivella," Sirius replied nonchalantly. James gave a snort of laughter beside him.
"Last night!" Snape insisted. He looked as if he was going to burst with fury.
"I didn't see you at all last night, Snivella," Sirius said truthfully. "Don't go making up fantasies about us now. Sorry, but I'm just not physically attracted to you."
"I hexed you! You're just too bloody bigheaded to admit it, Black. Maybe I didn't go for the public embarrassment like a coward, but we both know that I caused more damage than you did."
There was too much truth in this statement than Sirius cared to admit, and not for the reasons that Snape suspected. The ability to retort escaped Sirius, and Snape continued.
"Your little prank lacks originality, Black," Snape sneered. "Only an insecure prat like you would find such a crude joke about masculinity amusing. Besides, you lose points for making it so easily reversible."
Snape reached for his wand to get rid of the dress, only to find that what was tied to the waist of his dress was not a wand, but a large, droopy sunflower.
"Yeah, I reckon you're right, Snape. Only your secure masculinity allows you to pull off that dress," Sirius said, smirking.
"I mutilated that stupid smug face of yours and trapped you in a dirty broom cupboard for the night," Snape fumed, pelting the sunflower at Sirius. It flopped pointlessly in mid-air and landed with a plop in Sirius's dinner. Snape's face seemed to lighten up a little bit as he relished the memory. "Not so attractive then, were you, Black? And how'd you get out, anyway? Bang your great thick head repeatedly against the door until it cracked from the strain?"
"You did what?" demanded a stern voice from behind them.
Professor McGonagall had left her seat at the top table, probably originally to help Snape, but at this revelation, she had changed her mind.
"Professor, I've been cursed," Snape said immediately, gesturing with his hands at his attire. Sirius noted that Snape's fingernails were painted with sparkling blue nail polish.
"So I see. What's this about cursing Mr. Black and trapping him in a closet all night?"
The look on Snape's face told Sirius that Snape was trying to do some quick thinking, but evidently he wasn't quick enough.
"Detention!" Professor McGonagall said. "Unacceptable, assaulting another student like that."
She waved her wand at Snape and the dress and makeup instantly disappeared. "We'll be seeing your Head of House now, Snape. Make no mistake about it! I daresay you deserve a harsher punishment, but we'll see what Professor Slughorn thinks. Attacking other students at night! Trapping them in broom cupboards!"
"But I'm the victim here! He cursed me," Snape protested.
Covertly, James was amusing himself by pointing his wand at Snape from underneath the table and writing messages on the back of Snape's dress ("I am a bloody stupid git" and "I can't attract girls, so I became one"). Neither Snape nor McGonagall noticed. Sirius, however, had to struggle to contain his laughter.
"Locking another student in a cupboard all night is a far worse offense than cursing someone at dinner," McGonagall replied. "You put another student in serious danger, Mr. Snape. We'll deal with the culprit here after we've taken care of your punishment." She cast Sirius a suspicious glare that clearly said "What I mean is I'll be dealing with you later." Sirius gave her the most innocent look anyone could muster while suppressing gales of hysterical laughter.
"I was put in worse danger," Snape pointed out shrewdly.
McGonagall paused for only a second. "That matter is out of my jurisdiction, Mr. Snape," she said quietly. "You were told by the Headmaster not to address it."
But her voice softened considerably after that. "Now come along, Snape. We have to see Professor Slughorn."
Snape had no choice but to follow her. He gave Sirius a scathing look that implied there would be hell to pay later for this most recent embarrassment, but Sirius just shrugged it off.
As McGonagall and Snape disappeared out of the doors, the Great Hall filled with amused chatter. Sirius chuckled a little to himself after he was sure that McGonagall was gone. He had a feeling that he knew who was responsible for Snape's sudden brush with his feminine side, and sure enough, as he turned to glance down the Gryffindor table, he saw Remus pocket his wand.
Remus winked at Sirius, and went back to eating his own food as if nothing had happened.
Sirius couldn't help but to smile to himself. He was a lucky bloke, really.