A/N: This is a slash fic with allusions to non-consensual sex. If it's not your cup of tea, please, do us all a favor and click the back button. This is a one shot.
"Sweet Merlin, Remus," Sirius exclaimed softly, almost falling himself as he caught the man who had he stumbled into the foyer of Grimmauld place, dirty, bloody, and about ready to collapse. He smelled like the old furs Sirius had cleaned out of the moth-ridden closet on the third floor and he wondered with more than a little worry what had happened to his friend. Looking at him, Sirius didn't think he'd had a bath in at least a week, if not longer.
"What happened?" Sirius asked, pushing Remus' hair – much longer than the last time he had seen him, gritty, and unclean and so unlike the tidy man – from his face. He didn't answer, and it wasn't obvious whether it was because he was simply too exhausted and weak to or because he didn't want to.
Remus was clinging to him in order to stay upright – actually touching Sirius for what may have been the first time since they had reunited in the Shrieking Shack almost two years earlier. Sirius sent up a silent thanks that he hadn't gotten any further into the firewhiskey than he had, because he doubted he would have had the coordination to keep himself standing, let alone help Remus stay up as well.
When it was clear the werewolf wouldn't be offering an explanation anytime soon, he sighed, untying Remus' battered cloak and letting it drop to the floor. He would get it later. It was then he saw the blood seeping through his shirt and inhaled sharply. Gently putting Remus' arm over his shoulders, he slowly helped him through the old house. "You look like you could do with a bath," he said quietly.
"Yes, thanks," Remus rasped, polite as ever, despite his current inability to walk on his own.
As Sirius had suspected, Remus was perfectly capable of talking. Which meant his last question had gone unanswered deliberately. He doubted that was a good sign. Remus' voice sounded as if it had been a while since he used it. Or as if he'd recently spent a lot of time screaming. Sirius wasn't sure anymore if he wanted to know which, and felt his stomach turn slightly as possibilities ran through his mind. He stumbled slightly over nothing.
"You're drunk," Remus said. It was a statement, not an accusation. Sirius didn't think it was possible for Remus to accuse anyone of anything. At least not this Remus. He was too polite, too reserved, too hidden behind walls no one but Sirius realized were there. The old Remus – Moony – he could have accused someone. But Sirius hadn't seen Moony in over fourteen years.
"Yeah, I reckon I am."
Once, when he'd had enough firewhiskey to make Molly tsk in a combination of disgust and pity, Sirius realized that he had killed Moony. When he had killed Prongs and Lily, and failed to kill Wormtail, and left Moony all alone. Moony had died of loneliness, he'd realized, and all that was left was Professor Lupin.
Remus said nothing else.
Silently they made their way to the loo on the first floor. Sirius doubted Remus had the energy to make it up the stairs and in his own current condition he wasn't about to attempt to drag him up. They'd both end up falling – two broken old men crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, most likely waking his the portrait of his mother up in the process and getting screamed at – the pièce de résistance of what had clearly been a wonderful day for the both of them.
"We're not that old," Remus said, and when Sirius looked at him in befuddlement, his lips were quirked in bemusement. It was an expression Moony might have worn when he was still alive. "But that would be an interesting scene for one of the Order members to stumble on."
It took Sirius a moment to realize that, no; Remus was not reading his mind. He had apparently just been talking aloud without even knowing it.
"As long as it isn't Snape," Sirius said.
They made it to the loo and through the doorway with limited trouble and Sirius maneuvered Remus until he was sitting on the toilet. He then set about drawing a bath, making certain the water was a good temperature and the like, and hoping the whiskey in his system hadn't numbed his sense of touch. It wouldn't be good if the water was actually scalding and he just couldn't feel it. He doubted that was possible, but he was drunk enough to wonder.
Remus was leaning against the back of the toilet, appearing as if he was sitting on will power alone, eyes closed and brow furrowed. Sirius had seen that look enough times after a full moon to know that Remus was in serious pain.
Considering that the full moon had been almost three weeks before, Sirius again had to wonder just what had happened on the man's assignment from Dumbledore.
Realizing what the next logical step in the bathing process was, Sirius swallowed, licking his lips unconsciously, glad Remus' eyes were closed when he realized he'd done it. "Let's get you undressed," he said, voice casual and betraying nothing that he didn't want it to.
Hazel eyes that Sirius used to get lost in for hours on end snapped open. Those had been Moony eyes though. These were just very good imitations. They stared for several moments as if attempting to read each other's minds.
Eventually Remus broke both the silence and the eye contact. "I can do it. Thanks for your help." It was clearly a dismissal.
"Bollocks," Sirius said, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring down at him. Normally Sirius listened to Remus. He was the smart, logical one, and if he wanted to push Sirius away, he most likely had a very good reason that the Animagus probably wouldn't understand. That was normally. At the moment, however, his inhibitions were drowned beneath half a bottle of Firewhiskey and he saw absolutely no problem in not listening to a word Remus said. "You can barely stand."
"I'm perfectly capable of getting into the bath," Remus said stubbornly, meeting his gaze with a stern expression that left no room for argument.
Fortunately, Sirius had always been good at ignoring such looks. "Come on then, shirt first." He reached out, grabbing hold of the hem of Remus' shirt.
"Get off!" Remus exclaimed, batting his hands away.
"Oh for fuck's sake, Remus!" Sirius said, losing his patience. He was sick of this. They spent most of their time walking on eggshells around one another – Remus determined to pretend that they had never been in a relationship, and refusing to tell Sirius why. He'd played along, not wanting to lose the only friend he had left, but this was sodding ridiculous, and he was drunk enough to say so. "It's nothing I haven't seen before!"
An odd shadow flickered across Remus' face and Sirius barely had time to even ponder its meaning before it was gone. "Leave me be. I'm fine."
"You are not," Sirius snapped. "I'm just trying to help you, you stubborn prat." Once again he made a grab for Remus' shirt, this time not planning to give up until he'd pulled it off. Honestly, he knew it was a bad idea. Remus was hurt and he didn't know what the injuries were. He was probably going to make something worse if Remus struggled, but he hated how Remus refused to let him help him. He just wanted to help.
"Stop!" Remus said, clearly shocked at his behavior. But Sirius didn't stop, pulling at the thin material, even as Remus started to struggle against him, lifting it up and over his head, ignoring his now near frantic protests. "Get off of me, Sirius!"
When he finally got the shirt off he realized just why the other man didn't want his help.
As a boy, Remus had always had scars – mementos of full moons before they had become Animagi. But as a man, those scars had multiplied tenfold – a morbid crisscrossing patchwork all along his torso, his arms, everywhere. There were also fresh ones, obviously within the last week, some raw pink and slowly healing, others still bleeding. It occurred to Sirius again that the full moon had been weeks ago. Along his chest and shoulders were vicious bites, human, but at the same time not. Over his rib cage were five deep nasty gashes that were bleeding profusely.
Remus didn't seem to know what to do, caught between wanting to cover himself up, but apparently not knowing which particular thing he didn't want Sirius to see. He stared at the dark haired man, eyes wide and wild, something feral lurking beneath them. People tended to forget that about Remus – that no matter how polite and quiet he was, underneath it laid the wolf.
"Fuck, Moony," he breathed, the name sliding from his lips without even realizing it. He dropped to his knees in front of Remus, fingers tentatively reaching out and ghosting over the five gashes, realizing as he did that they were claw marks, obviously from human fingers.
Remus shuddered at the touch and drew back. "Please, just get out." Numb, polite Professor Lupin had returned.
Sirius ignored him. "Who did this?" he asked, anger seeping into his voice.
"Who did it!"
"Not until you tell me who did it!" Sirius exploded, his voice echoing off the tiled wall of the bathroom. He was glad none of the other Order members were there, especially when his shouting woke up the portrait of his mother down the hall, who immediately began screaming about half-breeds and blood traitors. "Shut the fuck up you STUPID OLD HAG!" Sirius screamed, having no qualms with taking his frustration at the entire situation out on that bitch. She, of course, didn't listen. His trousers suddenly felt damp, and he realized that the bath had begun to overflow. With a vehement curse he quickly stood, slipping slightly as he rushed to turn off the taps.
It suddenly became quiet, and Sirius, for a moment, thought that perhaps he'd been wrong about other Order members being in the house until he looked at Remus. The man had pulled his wand out and had likely cast a silencing charm around the room. That meant his mother was probably still screaming, but at least they couldn't hear her anymore.
Sirius leaned against the wall and slid down it, uncaring that the arse of his trousers were soaked once he hit the floor. He stared at Remus.
Remus stared back.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?" Sirius finally asked.
"What the fuck is the matter with you?" Sirius yelled. As quickly as he'd lost his temper he deflated, all the fight going out of him. "Why don't you… Why do you keep pushing me away?" He looked like a puppy whose master was abandoning him.
Remus didn't answer for a long time, and they simply stared at one another. They had taken to doing that a lot, as if their eyes would give away something that their words never would.
Finally: "Why do you keep insisting on trying to get closer?"
And again there was staring, incredulous, hurt staring from Sirius. Remus turned his gaze, intently watching the still water in the bath. The wounds on his torso continued to bleed, the thick liquid running down his skin and pooling at the waistband of his pants.
Sirius pushed himself to his knees, grabbing a towel from the cabinet next to him and dipping it in the tub.
Remus watched the ripples.
"Because that's how we used to be," Sirius said softly, gently placing the wet towel over the wounds. Remus placed his hand on the towel, clearly wanting to hold it himself. Suddenly feeling the very uncharacteristic urge to cry – probably the whiskey – Sirius stood. "You used to let me take care of you too."
"That was a long time ago."
"Yes," Sirius spat, feeling his temper rising again. "For you. You had twelve years to forget it all, to push everything down behind this polite Professor Lupin guise. But for me, all I could do in Azkaban was live in the past, Remus. That was it. Relive every terrible thing I've ever done, or that was ever done to me. And when I got out, all the good – you, us, everything we'd had – started coming back as if it were just yesterday. To me, it hasn't been a long time – to me it was minutes, moments ago."
Remus looked at him so intensely that Sirius wondered if he was seeing right through him.
That was it, Sirius realized. This gap between them – caused by suspicion, guilt, betrayal, abandonment, death – it was just too large to cross. He turned to leave.
"It was Greyback."
It wasn't the words that stopped him so much as the raw painful way they were said, as if speaking them physically hurt Remus. And when Sirius turned he choked back a sob, because it wasn't polite unflinching Professor Remus Lupin looking at him.
It was Moony. Desperate, lost, and hurt.
He was there for only a moment before he disappeared again, hidden.
But that was all Sirius had needed. Moony hadn't died. Sirius hadn't killed him. He was just lost.
"Fenrir Greyback?" Sirius said. He knew that name.
When Remus' father had died Remus had found a letter addressed to him in a desk in his house, explaining why Remus had been bitten. How it hadn't been an accident. How Fenrir Greyback had done it on purpose. Sirius had found Remus, sitting alone in the study, bleeding from his knuckles after breaking a mirror and several other objects with his fists.
"The one who… why were you with him?"
Remus looked up at him, eyes dull.
"Is that what Dumbledore is making you do?" Sirius said, feeling it start to click. "Spy on werewolves?"
Once again he didn't answer, instead lifting the towel to check the bleeding. It hadn't slowed.
"Just heal it, Remus," Sirius said, hating watching him bleed. His own wand was in the other room next to the firewhiskey or he would have done it for him.
"It's a werewolf wound, Sirius," Remus said wearily. "Magic won't help, they don't heal properly. You know that." He waved at the scars all over his body as if to remind him.
Sirius did know that. Anytime Remus had hurt himself as the wolf it had taken so long for him to heal. At a loss for anything to say, he bent down and picked up Remus' shirt, which had become soaked from the overflow of the tub. He folded it. Then he unfolded it and stared at it.
"Why did you have your shirt off, Remus?" he asked quietly. It hadn't been the full moon – those wounds had come when both Remus and Fenrir were human. And Remus' shirt wasn't ripped or tattered.
He saw the werewolf's body tense briefly. Sirius waited for an answer, but none came. The loo was silent.
That was really all the answer Sirius needed, though. He let out a noise reminiscent to the whine of a dog. It was an unconscious thing that he'd picked up, likely from all the time spent as Padfoot in the past years. "Moony, why…"
Remus closed his eyes, perhaps afraid of what Sirius might read there. "He's the Alpha. He likes to be sure he has complete submission from everyone."
"Merlin, Remus," Sirius choked out, taking a faltering step towards him. "You need to tell Dumbledore. He wouldn't want you to stay there—"
Remus' eyes snapped open. "No. We need to know what they're doing. They're going to go underground soon, I'll need to be there when it happens."
"It's not worth that, Moony!" Sirius said, the name once again sliding off his tongue without him even realizing it.
"I have to, Sirius," Remus said firmly.
But Sirius saw it – Moony was looking out at him through those hazel eyes, pleading for some sort of help. Help they both knew Sirius couldn't give, because Remus, in the end, couldn't let him.
Sirius didn't know what else to say, how to make it better, make the hurt that Remus was clearly feeling disappear. Without thinking – which was how Sirius had often tackled much of life's problems – he leaned forward, capturing Remus' lips with his own in a sweet gentle kiss.
Remus went very still, and Sirius began to think that perhaps this wasn't the best of ideas, when he suddenly responded. His hand slid to the base of Sirius' neck, pulling him closer. At a questioning swipe of his tongue across Sirius' lips, Sirius opened his mouth, letting Remus explore. How long had it been since they had last kissed? How many years?
Sirius gave control of the kiss to Remus, knowing he needed it, needed to feel like he had control over something. Perhaps Sirius needed that too, but Remus' need was far more immediate and if this was the only way Remus would let him help him then so be it.
After what felt like an eternity Remus pulled back, looking at him with Moony eyes – loving, grateful Moony eyes. Then he glanced away, and when those hazel eyes turned back to him they were dull Professor Lupin eyes once more.
They stared again.
Finally, Remus broke the silence. "I need a bath."
Sirius nodded, swallowing around the lump in his throat. "I'll give you your privacy." He stood and walked to the door. Remus was staring at the bathwater once more, and Sirius' eyes were focused on the door handle.
Finally, after a moment Sirius opened the door, and they were immediately assaulted by the screams of his mother, who had been apparently joined by Kreacher, who was loudly voicing his agreement. He closed the door to the loo, and made his way back to the kitchen, where he sat down to the rest of his firewhiskey and ignored the cries of "DIRTY HALFBREEDS IN MY HOUSE."