"Sirius? You alright?" He tried not to sound too concerned, because Sirius Black was not one to allow others to fuss.
"Yeah. Just a dream."
Remus Lupin thought it was odd that, given the circumstances, he was now the one to be looking after Sirius.
Well, the story was odd in itself, really - it involved trust and broken friendships and mistaken identities and werewolves and wizard prisons and a Dark Lord and all sorts of things like that. Complicated. Nonetheless, Remus couldn't help but look back at how things used to be; when everything was still simple and even a full moon became far less unbearable because he had three friends loyal enough (or stupid enough) to help him out - even if James did have this embarrassing habit of loudly calling it that time of the month whenever anyone else was around. James was good like that. But during the times leading up until the full moon they would watch him while pretending not to, making sure he ate and slept and joked around with them like always, keeping his spirits up, never quite allowing him to slide into the state he had been used to in those years prior to Hogwarts. And after the full moon they laughed about the cuts and bruises, and James would declare that he suffered worse in almost every single Quidditch game he had ever played. And so ever so slowly, Remus Lupin began to love Hogwarts and the people there, and it felt good because he hadn't been attached to anything for so long. He didn't realise how much this had been effecting him until he finally began to heal. It was true magic, he decided, no wand required.
"You were just dreaming, Mooney. Just a dream, I promise you." He never spoke in that tone of voice to anyone else. No, that voice was reserved for dark nights and tangled bedsheets only, as if overusing that voice and those words would take away the potency. "Go back to sleep. I'll be here."
In his third year, Remus began to fall for Sirius. He kept it to himself at first, because it seemed just so bloody unmanly that he was sure none of the others would stand for it. So he kept it to himself, successfully locking away the feeling just like he used to lock away the werewolf slumbering inside. In his fourth year, Sirius kept looking at him funny, like he had grown another head or something. In fifth year, the two finally kissed and James finally rolled his eyes and said he had known all along, and Peter finally flushed and admitted he hadn't seen that coming at all. It was just like the first four years only better, because now he was happier than he had ever been, and this was truly home. Sirius quite cheerfully and often quite annoyingly kept watch over Remus like a shadow, even as he protested he was doing no such thing. Not that Remus really minded - he hated being so weak sometimes that he needed the extra care, but figured that if someone had to do it then Sirius was certainly the most qualified.
"Do you know, I think I've stopped now."
"Those nightmares... I dream still, but it's different somehow. Easier."
"Yeah. And I've noticed you don't look like death warmed up most mornings these ays, too."
But all too soon, quite abruptly, years passed and people looked furtively down the street like they were expecting something (or someone) horrible to steal them away into the darkness. James got married, typically, in the darkest of times, and insisted that everyone get drunk at the wedding and forget, just for one day, about all the other things that were being reported in the newspapers. Peter disappeared into the Ministry for a time and wrote letters once every few weeks - letters that grew less and less frequent over time until it was like the four of them had never been best friends at Hogwarts. Sirius and Remus stuck together just like they had promised, until the worst thing imaginable happened and Sirius turned murderer. So the papers said. Remus felt hot with guilt thinking about it afterwards, believing for a time that Sirius Black was everything the papers claimed him to be. The facts were irrefutable, he thought, and Peter was dead, just like so many others. James and Lilly... he missed them terribly. Sometimes he woke up in the night and lit his wand just to check that he was still all there - that he wasn't fading away with each murder that took place.
The dreams came back, but now they were changed again. Looking back, he was ashamed. They were proof that he believed Sirius to be a monster, but still a monster that Remus missed terribly.
He thought about all this as he held a sleeping Sirius whose face twitched as he dreamed (and he wondered whether it had been just like this, when things were the other way around). Not that Sirius had actually asked Remus to watch over him as he did; not in so many words. But he didn't protest, and was probably too tired to do anything about it anyway. Obligation drove Remus to stay awake all night to make sure his friend was alright that first night, after that it became second nature, and something far more that obligation. Remus had almost let himself forget how it felt.
And Sirius was tired, so very tired, after all those years. Locked in a prison where Dementors hungered after his soul and turned each memory sour, and then more time of running, always running. Now, finally, it was time to stop. Time to catch their breath and assure each other that despite everything, it would all be fine. Sirius grew gradually stronger again and his dreams became less violent, and the familiar fire that burned once more in his eyes and made him want to get up and try again, even after so much, was something that made Remus want to hold him even closer. Not that Remus was so arrogant as to assume that it was he alone who had returned him to reality; no, there were others. Harry Potter, for a start, and everyone else who filled up Number twelve, Grimmauld Place with noise and laughter and the smell of good food. But he hoped that just a little of that passion was helped along by him, hoped that Sirius still looked back to a time where everything was simple and they loved each other, knowing full well that it would never be quite the same but recklessly not caring anyway.
"I didn't dream last night, Mooney. I think... I think, finally..."
It was time to heal.