Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
"Good. You're alive."
They were wry words – awfully blunt – something Remus always examines when they are the first words he hears once a month.
"Was I not supposed to be?" croaks Remus hoarsely, blinking rapidly as things come into focus.
There is a long silence when Remus waits for a response and realizes that he can't sit up in his bed. Mostly because he can't move his arms.
His eyes draw sharply over to his shoulders – which are horrifyingly white like a large heavenly cloud – they're draped in thick white pads that are clinging to him like an overly protective pillow.
Remus refrains from gasping and let his eyes grow wide, because he's used to seeing trickles of blood seeping out from bandages, and his bed being a throne for white linens, and even a large assortment of sickening potions assorted at the bedside table like dozens of crispy doughnuts.
But they are never doughnuts.
Remus hopes that they are, and every time he's let down.
"I… It was not expected, Mr. Lupin." Madame Pomfrey's brisk voice breaks through the silence. Someone snorts from the bed next to Remus'.
Ah, Remus thinks. Another one of those close-to-death calls. Those are familiar to him, they always have been, more than three times a year the nurse informs him that his claws were particularly furious that month, and that scratching has never been so lethal.
Remus always just nods.
He's escaped death before – he'll do it again.
Apparently it's his thing.
"You were constantly having visitors," Pomfrey informs him with a sigh, leaning onto another patient's bed and playing with the curtains fondly, "But I couldn't let them in."
At the word 'visitors', Remus' eyes seem to finally open up for the first time in his life, and he feels a small fire pit in the end of his stomach roaring to life for the woman in front of him.
"Why didn't you?!" he demands, politeness blown out of proportion. When it's morning and his head aches, it's nice to have a bubble of contentment by looking into three goofy faces, concern written all over their reassuring smiles.
Madame Pomfrey sighs. "Professor Dumbledore wanted to talk to your friends."
Again, it's not a first. Remus thinks with shrug, but then winces slightly as he feels his shoulder muscles gear out of place with screams of protest.
"I suppose. Are they still talking with him?" Remus asks curiously, hoping that the Healer won't consider this prying and tell him to mind his own business, because even if they are friends – some secrets are better to be kept, and Remus himself should know what she means.
He hates keeping secrets.
"I don't know, Mr. Lupin."
When it comes to the school nurse, I don't know usually means that Remus' friends have troublemaked themselves into half a year of detention. It's the curt answer that sounds better than 'they were being irresponsible goons again, I don't know why you bother with them, Mr. Lupin!', because the nurse's job is to comfort and heal the patients, not make them feel as though they're friends youthful foolishness are their faults.
"I want to see them." Remus persists stubbornly, biting on his lower lip. Madame Pomfrey tuts quietly from the corner, but refrains from giving her patient a stern look. In one swoop she's playing with the potion bottles and shoving one of them into Remus' hands.
"Drink it," she instructs shortly, about to bustle off to another bed, when there's a sharp knock on the door and the nurse turns to face it.
Remus doesn't care; he knows that it's some nice Hufflepuff friend being all loyal and Huffly-Puffy, because that's what Hufflepuffs do, because Sirius and James and Peter know the drill with the wolf, and so visiting every single bloody time is a hassle. Remus didn't need words to figure that out.
He's expecting to see the flash of yellow that indicates a small slice of the brilliantly blinding sun has just entered the Hospital Wing, but instead it's not a Hufflepuff, as Pomfrey scuttles over to the door and peers out of it. With a small peek, she turns sharply to Remus and motions for him to close his blinds. Visitors, friends or Professors, are not supposed to see him in such a state. Questions would arise.
And that would be bad.
He didn't need warnings or words of caution to figure that out either.
"Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Black, Mr. Potter – he's not in a state to see you right now–"
Remus stops midway in closings his curtains, and yanks them open instead, completely ignoring the burning in his arm muscles at the sudden movement.
He opens his mouth to protest, but Sirius and James are first to retort.
"Is he awake? Then I want to see him."
"That's impossible, Mr. Black–" the nurse says back sternly.
"See, Sirius? I told you that you had killed Remus." James' snappy voice interrupts Pomfrey. Remus hears an indignant huff from Sirius, followed by a worried inquiry.
"He is alive, right? Please tell me he's alive…?" Sirius trails off hopelessly, and Pomfrey nods slowly.
"Of course he is," she says shortly. "But there will no visiting."
"I want to see them!" Remus protests from the bed suddenly, and there's a squeal of delight from outside the doors that is simultaneous from both Sirius and James.
Sirius or James; Remus can't tell, it's just a swish of black hair – try to push their head through the small crack of the door, Pomfrey staring at them incredulously and not shoving their heads out until she recovers from her surprise.
"Out, out, out!" she screams, and Remus shrinks into his pillows, "Come back later!" She slaps the mop of black hair sharply, as though ushering a nasty bug out of the house with a piece of cardboard.
"I want to see him!" Sirius growls from outside, and Remus is sure that he can detect the canine teeth-baring-snarl in Sirius' face from his words. He smiles at the image.
"You are going to overwhelm Mr. Lupin!"
"Then at least just let me in!" James says angrily.
"No, let me in!"
Remus chuckles quietly. Those two, he thinks with a grin. Always acting like five year olds.
"Come on, Sirius, if anyone should be able to see him it should be me!"
"And why is that?" Sirius replies coolly.
"Because you're the one who tried to kill him!"
"Hey!" Sirius shouts back automatically, a sharpness in his voice that is incredibly rare. "I meant to kill Snape, not him! Wait, that's not right – I didn't want to kill anyone! Snape was just being a bastard again!"
"But it's kind of a kill one, kill the other, issue! You know how the Ministry is about… well… them," Remus knows that James was talking about werewolves, but the rest was all foggy to him. Sirius – trying to kill him? "And Remus would have surely gotten expelled. Did you even think, Sirius?"
"No," Sirius grits out. "Don't rub it in, James."
James obviously does not listen. "You are the last person who Remus wants to see right now. I'll be surprised if he'll forgive you!"
"Quiet, boys!" Pomfrey shouts exasperatedly. "One at a time."
"I call on going in first." Sirius rambles immediately, and Remus can't help but smile faintly at his competitiveness.
Pomfrey sighs. "All right then."
There's a noise of a strangled owl, which turns out to be James speechlessly arguing.
"Thank you, Madame Pomfrey." Sirius says with relief, and it's the first time Remus remembers the boy being so polite to the nurse.
Sirius walks softly into the Hospital, something in his stance weakening when his eyes fall upon Remus' fully bandaged figure.
"Dear god… isn't Pomfrey treating you for that?" he murmurs hopelessly, pointing to the multiple wounds still bleeding out of the thick pads on Remus' skin.
The werewolf shrugs with his mouth and tilts his head over to his end table which is still holding the arrange of potions.
"Every time I hope that they are doughnuts." Remus confesses, laughing lightly at his own stupidity.
Sirius swoops down beside his bedside. "I would bring you doughnuts, but sadly I don't store them in my pants."
"I didn't expect you to," Remus tells him, and an awkward silence follows uncomfortably. Remus sighs. Sirius avoids his gaze. "What did you do, Sirius?"
Sirius obviously is not expecting this from Remus; Sirius expects Remus to never hear anything that him and James are discussing, even if they're barely a few feet away. It always surprises him when he realizes that Remus has been listening, perhaps all of it, perhaps none at all. And from his facial expression, he doesn't want Remus to know any of it.
"How much did you hear?" he croaks out, staring at Remus' bed curtains.
Remus shrugs. "Not much," he sighs, "Why did you try to kill me, Sirius? My grammar correcting?" there's a small eye widening from Sirius, before he rubs his forehead with his palm and shakes his head hurriedly.
Remus expects a stuttered-out reply, but instead Sirius seems to have lost his vocal cords or perhaps left them outside the door with James, because his mouth is open but all that's coming out is this meek 'meh'.
"The fact that I criticize some of your pranks?" Remus supplies helpfully. Another shake of the head.
"Is my monthly problem becoming a problem for you?"
There's a silence that is interrupted dramatically by a gong going off in both of their heads, and Remus knows that he's hit a nerve; he's plucked the right guitar string, pressed the button.
The button to Sirius' rare and golden silence.
Part of Remus wishes that he would never have pressed it – never have seen it, preferably – but ignoring it is long gone.
"I…" Sirius begins.
"Is my monthly problem becoming a hassle for you? Too much of a risk? Too dangerous? Too painful?" it surprises Remus greatly that Sirius hasn't told him yet to shut up. Instead there's just a lot of head shaking going on Sirius' part and perhaps even pools of sorrow forming in his eyes.
It's basically an hour of just staring fixedly in the other direction, before Sirius answers quietly.
"I didn't try to kill you," he says slowly, lowering himself beside the bed, "I would never do that to you. And I'm sorry."
"I told you that I didn't hear everything, Sirius, what even happened?" Remus asks hopelessly. Sirius buries his face in his hands.
"I messed up," his stifled voice responds, "It was… just stupid, I didn't mean to do it all," he takes a rattling breath. "Snape got into the Whomping Willow."
Remus checks to make sure that he isn't hallucinating or even hearing things, and blinks several times, begging for the atmosphere to change into Saturday morning, a bad, bad dream. But Sirius is still sitting there, and he's still aching all over.
And that's when the dread and pain all start multiplying. Panic, worry, fright, and he all conceals it underneath his skin.
"And I'm the one who told him."
Another gong goes off, and the loud snore from the bed nearby completely silences it again, which Remus is rather glad for. The werewolf closes his eyes in slight pain, and he can tell that it bothers Sirius because Sirius doesn't know if that pain is being directed to him or his multiple wounds.
Remus swiftly thinks of the consequences of Sirius' actions, because there always is something whether Sirius is trying to do good or not. Perhaps Remus is expelled, perhaps Sirius is, perhaps Snape is dead, perhaps Remus is a murdered, it's a lot of perhaps and a whole little of confirmation.
Sirius awkwardly waits for his friend to say something, but the werewolf remains silent as a stone while he contemplates the situation.
"You did nothing, Remus." The black-haired boy finally mumbles, putting a comforting hand on Remus' bandage of a shoulder. He hopes that he's answering one of the questions that he knows is running through the other boy's mind.
Remus wants to raise his eyebrows inquiringly, but instead, to avoid some flinching, he gives Sirius a Questioning Look. It works.
"Snape's fine, I promise. James – James helped him out."
There's another silence. Things are falling into place now, as Remus plays the conversation from the door in his head again. He looks up, not bothering to brush his hair from his eyes. Sirius' hand goes up for a moment, before it stops and sways contemplatively. It goes back down to Sirius' side.
"I'm sorry, Moony."
"It's… okay. I'm too drowsy to really be mad at you, and why should I?" Remus asks softly.
"I don't deserve your forgiveness."
"Don't be modest." Remus drawls, "I like you better when you defend yourself."
Sirius smiles hesitantly. "I – thanks." He says. "I want to hug you, but… but I don't know where there aren't any bandages."
The tawny-haired boy laughs, and gives a mental scour of his body. "The hugging can wait." He extends a hand to Sirius, who takes it. "Don't feel sorry. Whatever you did it for, it must have been important." He squeezes his friend's hand reassuringly.
"On Merlin's underpants." Remus murmurs, his voice in a monotone drill. "If I'm not expelled and Snape is alive and you're not punished too badly then please, Sirius, promise me that you won't tell me any more about this. I don't want to know, I don't want to hear about it."
This seems to be enough reassurance for Sirius, who smiles broadly and ruffles his hair. He practically looks like his tail his wagging.
A stifled voice murmurs half-heartedly from the door, a bit like a bored puppy eager to play, "Can I talk to him now, Sirius?" James asks impatiently. Madame Pomfrey shoots the door a lethal look even though it's closed and James has never possessed x-ray vision.
"Just a moment, James." Remus calls, before flicking his glance to Sirius again. Gently squeezing the fingers nestled in his palm, he smiles. "Sirius, how could you think I hate you? Me not forgiving you would make me responsible for breaking up the Marauders, and I don't want that to happen on my behalf or anyone else's, for that matter. I don't blame you for this. I blame myself."
Sirius shakes his head firmly, "Moony, this never would've happened if I hadn't been a complete bastard–"
"I'm the one who's the werewolf. This blame is not on your shoulders, Sirius. If Snape would've died, I'd have been the one walking away a murderer. Not you."
There is a tense silence where Remus can tell that Sirius doesn't know what to say anymore. Remus speaks up instead.
"If anything, I'm honored that you told me about the incident first thing in my morning. It was very selfless of you. If you wouldn't have said anything, I definitely would have been mad at you. Sometimes the cruelest lies are told in silence, you know."
An insistent pounding begins rhythmically rapping on the door. Remus grins at how loyal his friends are, and gently tugs his hand away from Sirius' grasp. He cocks his head towards the door.
"Now go and let James talk to me." He says with a meaningful smile.
And despite the fact that Sirius has just betrayed his trust and nearly cooked up a recipe for a murder, this is the moment when Remus realizes he's in love with Sirius. That in spite of all of his flaws and mistakes and misdoings, Remus will always be able to forgive him. He can never avoid Sirius' face for more than an hour and he can never stay mad at him for longer than a minute either.
Being in love meant never having to say sorry, and that is probably why Remus never asked for an apology.
"Please, mum, we have to!"
"We have to do nothing except for mop the kitchen, Remus," his mother scolds sharply and gives Remus a stern look.
Remus frantically runs his shaking hands through his hair, dancing a little on his feet. "Mum, please, it's not that far away! C'mon, mum, I'm begging you!"
Mrs. Lupin sighs, pursing her lips and ruffling the sheets as she folds them neatly in her wrinkled hands. "Take this to the sock drawer, Remus." She hands him a pile of colorful, folded socks all balancing precariously on top of one another.
Remus grabs the socks and dashes off to the drawer before returning, windswept, once again. "Mum, this is important–"
"Remind me again who this big fuss is all about? Your friend?"
"Sirius! Mum, he went to James' because there's been some big family problem! Please, mum, it could be really important! What if Sirius has been abused, or almost killed, or poisoned?"
"Remus, dear, all of those three fall under the same category."
Groaning, Remus places his hands firmly around the hamper and stares fixedly into it. He grits his teeth.
"Mum, this means something to me. Please?" he begs, a little bit more desperately and hopelessly and kicked-and-lost-puppy-like.
"Fine." Mrs. Lupin agrees reluctantly, "but don't take long and don't be a burden to the Potters."
Remus is already stocked with his coat and shoes, bursting from the door in a second's time.
Sirius is sitting, drenched with rainwater and mud, on James' bedspread, rattling off the whole tale of what got him in the Potter Residence in the first place. James doesn't mind that bits of mud are crumbling off of Sirius in the process and rain is soaking his sheets, because what use is a clean bed when there's a friend in need? Besides, James has always been one to not bother with sanitation.
Sirius breathlessly pants out another portion of the story, waving his arms articulately and elaborately. His skin is practically frozen and his clothes are sticking to his flesh. It's uncomfortable, so without a second thought he peels off his shirt but leaves his pants on. James, still, doesn't care. He's seen Sirius without his shirt on during Quidditch practices and in the dormitory back at school. He's just waiting for the rest of the story.
"–and then she shrieked for me to never show my face in this house again or she would burn me just like she will my name on the family tapestry, and how I am a disgrace to the Black name and how she should have known that a Black in Gryffindor would be trouble from the beginning – can I take off my shoes? – and then I grabbed my broom and my trunk and I ran with my mother throwing vases at me as I walked out the door. And with my luck, there was a thunderstorm – bloody hell, these damn shoelaces are hard to untie when they're wet!"
Just then, Mrs. Potter knocks politely on the door and without waiting for a response, peers in with beady eyes. Owlishly, she scans the room, wincing when her eyes fall upon the way her son's friend has soiled the sheets.
"Hey, Mrs. Potter," Sirius greets unenthusiastically, but still managing a friendly smile.
Consolingly, Mrs. Potter sighs and walks into the room. "You poor, poor boy. What has that family done to you, Sirius?"
"Uh… I'd say disinherit is about right, mum." James answers dryly. Sirius considers this – yes, he'd never gotten along with his family except for on occasions, Regulus, but he never has been abused or disowned. Now he has. It's a nasty feeling, to know that your flesh-and-blood family has disinherited their firstborn.
"Are you hungry, dear? Do you want to borrow some of James' clothes? We have plenty of room and lots of hospitality so you're welcome to stay."
"Cor!" James yells eagerly, jumping on the bed, "we would be roommates outside of school, mate!"
Sirius manages a faint grin, "Thank you so much, Mrs. Potter."
Just then, the clear sound of the doorbell ringing wafts up the stairs and Mrs. Potters dashes to answer it.
A despondence to his air, rarely ever seen compared to his bright and bouncy self, Sirius sighs and stares at his lap, "I'd just never thought that this is the way I'd end it with my family." Carefully, he wipes at the blood trickling from the cut on his forehead, but as his hand travels down his face his fingers linger at his eye to brush away the beads of tears.
"Are you all right, Padfoot?"
Sirius nods forcefully, feigning a smile in his friend's direction.
"James, another one of your friends is here." James' mother announces from downstairs.
James bounces up from the bed, darting to the window to peek out from the curtains. He frowns, tilting his head, "But Wormtail said that he wouldn't be able to come this weekend. And Remus' mother is really stingy about where he goes–"
Sirius exhales a breath, "Moony's here." He smiles as the door opens downstairs and besides a mumbled greeting, Remus races up the stairs and crashes through the door.
"Sirius!" he shouts, and before he can help himself, Remus is gathering the boy in a tight embrace which Sirius can barely breathe from.
"Moony, go easy on him." James advises from the window.
"What have those bastards at home done to you, Sirius? Are you okay?"
Sirius grins at how concerned his friend is, despite the fact that Remus is half torn apart each month and acts completely fearless in the morning. To that, Sirius barely has a scratch on his body.
"I'm fine, Remus," Sirius confirms, smiling as Remus grabs his elbows and worriedly examines his eyes, "my family wasn't bad."
"Did they hurt you?" the werewolf asks urgently.
"Barely," Sirius answers, "nothing hurts, Moony. But I don't live there anymore."
"They disowned you?!" Remus cries, outraged.
"I guess you could say that. My family disinherited me."
But Remus vigorously shakes his head, kneeling up to grab Sirius' face in his hands. "No, Sirius," he says, "they're not your family. We are your family."
And as Remus hugs him again, Sirius can't help but feel warmer. He never lost the Blacks as a family, because they never truly were. He wraps his arms around Remus' back and thinks with a smile, the Marauders will always be family.
And this was the moment that as the werewolf's breath tickles his neck, he realizes that he's in love with Remus Lupin. He knows that the pain down in his soul is the same down in Remus'.
AN: This was a request from Veterization, which was supposed to include both Sirius' and Remus' accounts of how they fell in love with each other despite the fact that they're not a couple. I'm terribly sorry that this took so long. I've been so busy with schoolwork lately, and since the end of the year is nearing my teachers are pounding on the work harder than ever so we don't get caught up in summer fantasies. I still have like… well, a lot of requests left. But don't worry, because I'm basically half done with all of them AND I have chapter twelve of GDDT close to completion. :D Love to you all!