Remus opened his eyes slowly. He felt like he'd been hit by a truck…a truck that had then reversed back over him a time or two.
He wondered if it was worth trying to get up yet, or whether it would be better to simply lay there a while and try to get some sleep. Unfortunately, the ground was hard, there was a rock digging in his back and it was starting to rain.
He sat up and looked around the clearing. The battered box containing his clothes was about twenty feet from him, and he breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn't wandered too far through the unfamiliar woods during the night.
Remus gingerly made his way across the clearing, gently flexing his wrist and cringing at the pain. It was no doubt broken again; he wondered if he could persuade one of the healers at St Mungo's to give him a discount on the usual fees, due to the frequency of his visits. "Fat chance," he muttered to himself, shaking his head at the ridiculous idea.
He struggled into his clothes and quickly apparated back to his room at the bed and breakfast. He didn't bother to change out of his clothes, merely collapsing on the bed with a groan.
Sirius watched Remus as he slept. A small smile played across his lips as he listened to the other man mumble in his sleep.
That Remus talked in his sleep had been a source of amusement for the other Gryffindors for several years. During the first year at school, they had failed to realise that Remus was most vocal in his sleep for the day or two that followed right after the full moon. After they'd found out his secret in second year, it had only taken them a couple of months to realise this. By third year, Remus had had enough of their teasing and had mastered silencing charms so that they couldn't remind him of the nonsense he came out with during his sleepy chatter.
Sirius listened with amusement as Remus muttered in his sleep now. Since Remus believed himself to be on his own, he'd seen no reason to bother with the silencing charm tonight. Sirius smiled to himself as he reminisced about happier times. It wasn't until he heard Remus call out his own name that he realised what it was that Remus talked about in his sleep.
"You remember?" he asked in surprise. "Your remember last night?"
He thought back to their years at school and realised that Remus must have always, on some level at least, recalled something the events of the night of the full moon.
He'd always claimed to have no real recollections of his time as the wolf, only impressions, feelings and overwhelming pain. Sirius couldn't believe that they had never realised what it was that Remus talked about in his sleep.
"You came back," Remus muttered. "Sirius…don't leave me again…"
"I'm not going anywhere," Sirius replied. "No chance. You're never getting rid of me."
Eventually, Remus quietened, and only his soft snores disturbed the silence of the room.
Sirius watched eagerly as Remus opened his eyes and stretched. He felt Remus's pain as he inadvertently knocked his injured wrist. "You need to get that fixed," he advised him firmly.
Remus didn't reply, instead Sirius was disappointed to realise that he once again he was invisible and unheard.
"Remus," he pleaded quietly. "You saw me last night, you heard me, don't you remember?"
Remus passed right through him and Sirius let out a cry of frustration.
"Remus!" he screamed. But, no matter how loud he called Remus didn't give any indication that he had heard him.
Any plans that Sirius had entertained for leaving Remus after the full moon had vanished the moment he had realised that Remus, as Moony could see him. Knowing that Remus, at least subconsciously, remembered his time as the werewolf only reinforced his determination to make himself heard.
The next four weeks were not nearly as frustrating as the previous ones. Knowing that Remus would be able to see and hear him as Moony kept him from becoming too despondent the rest of the time. Sirius kept himself busy by chatting to Remus, pestering him to take care of himself, and criticising him for continuing with the mission, despite the events on the night of the full moon.
When the next full moon arrived, Sirius was surprised, and highly annoyed, to see that Remus was intending to join the other local werewolves again. "Going back to give them another shot at you?" he asked with frustration. "Want to get your other wrist broken as well?"
Of course, his complaints and grumbles went unheard and Sirius soon found himself back in the woods, this time in the pouring rain, waiting for the moonrise.
Remus approached the rest of the werewolves and chatted amiably to them as they waited for the sun to set. He was certainly handling things better than Sirius was. Sirius was itching to start throwing a few well-aimed curses at the leader of the local werewolves, but Remus was acting as though nothing untoward had happened the previous month.
Sirius watched as the werewolves transformed, trying once again to shut out the sounds of Remus's pain. He wanted to close his eyes, to avoid seeing what he was sure to be another fight, with Remus in even worse shape than he'd been the previous month. But, instead of turning away, he watched quietly, bracing himself for the first blow.
It was with relief that Sirius realised that this month there wasn't going to be a fight. It seemed that the last month had been more than enough for the two of them and Remus was accepted into the small community without a struggle.
"Guess last month was some of that dominance rubbish," he commented to no one in particular.
It took all of three seconds for him to realise that Moony was not the only one who could see and hear him now that the moon had risen. The other werewolves turned to him, and even in their animal forms he could see the hostility and suspicion in their faces. Even knowing that they couldn't touch him, he couldn't stop himself taking a step back out of their reach.
He was almost certain that the leader was about to pounce at him, or at least through him, when Moony stepped in between them.
"It's me, Moony," Sirius said, in as calm a voice as he could manage. "It's Padfoot, remember?" He knelt down beside his friend and wished he still had the power to transform into Padfoot for real. Unfortunately, for some reason he didn't know his power to transform had left him when he'd fallen through the Veil. Moving on instinct he stretched his neck towards Moony's powerful jaws, hoping that the other werewolves got the message he was trying to convey. He wasn't a threat to them…he was Moony's.
He was thankful he didn't have a human body any more, and that he was actually in no danger from the werewolves. With no body, there was no human scent for them to track, no blood for them to crave. He waited for long minutes, wondering if Moony would attempt to break his neck, or whether he could tell, on some level, that he was Padfoot.
Finally, Moony seemed to decide that Sirius wasn't a threat, or food, and he growled at the other werewolves. The sound conveyed the message as clearly as if Remus was speaking out loud. Mine.
Sirius let out a breath, more from habit than necessity, and rose from his submissive position on the ground. "You remember me?" he asked.
Moony sniffed at him curiously, seemingly trying to figure out why he couldn't find a scent on the obviously human shaped man before him.
The other werewolves had wandered off again by the time Sirius turned back to see what they were doing. He was alone with Moony once more, only this time the werewolf was conscious, and seemed to want to play.
Sirius laughed as Moony pounced right through him. "Guess you're getting slow in your old age, huh?" he teased as the werewolf tried again to make contact with him.
Sirius let Moony chase him about for nearly an hour, until finally he realised that he was wasting time and he needed to try to get his message through to Remus.
"Moony?" he asked the panting werewolf. "I need you to remember something for Remus, okay?"
The werewolf looked back at him, but gave no indication that he had understood what Sirius was saying.
"I need you to remember the Veil, to go back to the Veil, can you remember that for Remus?"
Moony looked back at him for another minute, before pouncing playfully towards him once more.
Three full moons later and Sirius was becoming more and more frustrated. Each full moon he trailed after Moony and told him, over and over again, to go back to the Veil. And each month he listened as Remus muttered in his sleep about anything and everything from his time as Moony…except the one thing that Sirius needed him to remember.
"One little thing, that's all you need to remember?" Sirius cried out as he paced the bedroom.
"Water…so cold…" Remus muttered, recalling an unexpected dip in a stream after an unsuccessful attempt to pounce at Sirius.
"The Veil, Remus. I need you to remember the Veil."
"Sirius?" Remus whispered.
"Yes, Remus," Sirius replied, calmer, as he always was whenever he heard Remus calling for him. "I'm here, Remus. And I need you, more than I ever did. Please, Remus."
"Need you," Remus replied, though Sirius couldn't tell if he was responding to his own words, or merely giving voice to his own desires.
"Need you too," Sirius said, choosing to believe the former, and clinging to the tiny shred of hope that it gave him. "Need you to remember."
"Remember…" Remus rasped.
"Yes!" Sirius cried. "Remember, Remus. Please remember. The Veil. You have to go back there. You have to…"
Then Remus shifted on the bed and fell into a deeper sleep, no longer talking, and no longer hearing Sirius's gentle pleas.
Sirius never knew what it was that had triggered Remus's memory. He only knew that one morning, a week after the full moon, Remus had packed up his things and apparated to London.
He'd followed after Remus as he'd entered the Ministry of Magic, growing more excited by the minute.
He wasn't surprised to see that Remus wasn't heading to the Department of Mysteries, although he couldn't quite quell the disappointment.
That same disappointment vanished when he realised that Remus was simply obtaining permission to enter the Department. He was practically grinning when permission was granted, albeit for only a limited amount of time.
"You're still as devious as you ever were," Sirius commented, as he listened to Remus explain that he'd lost something vitally important during the battle near the Veil and this was the only place he hadn't looked.
"I'm sure it isn't down here," the wizard replied with a frown, leading Remus towards the elevator.
"I've looked everywhere else," Remus explained. "I'll just have a quick look around the archway, if that's all right with you?"
"Not got much choice, not when you've gone over my head to wrangle your way down here," the wizard complained.
"I won't be long," Remus promised.
The wizard nodded abruptly, leaving Remus and Sirius alone in the cavernous room.
"Told you you'd be back," a familiar voice gloated, and Sirius turned to see the form of a solitary wizard. The same one he'd spoken to all those months ago when he'd first fallen through the Veil.
"Not for long," Sirius crowed. "My friend's here, and he's going to get me back on the other side in no time at all."
"You can't go back." The wizard laughed bitterly. "You're dead, haven't you figured that out yet?"
"A person can't die from just falling through some crumbling old archway."
"I assure you they can."
Sirius ignored him and moved closer to the archway in question. Remus had moved on ahead of him, oblivious to the presence of others in the room.
"Remus, can you hear me?" Sirius asked, standing beside him as he looked at the Veil.
"You need to be round the other side," the wizard called, before drifting off through one of the walls.
Sirius scowled, but saw no harm in stepping to the opposite side of the archway. The Veil was even more ragged than the last time they'd been there. Parts of it were worn through entirely and it was fluttering in a breeze that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. "Remus?" he tried again, his voice no more than a hesitant whisper.
"Sirius?" Remus replied, stepping closer to the Veil.
"I'm here," Sirius said, louder this time, his voice catching slightly on the words.
Remus frowned slightly, stepping forward again. He was now standing so close to the archway that another step would take him through it.
"I've missed you, Moony," Sirius said. "Can't tell you how much I've wanted to be with you properly all this time."
"I can barely hear you," Remus said, leaning forward, as though trying to make out sounds that were coming from a great distance, or lost amidst a lot of louder noise.
"I'm right here," Sirius said, stepping closer himself. "I need your help to pull me back through."
"Back?" Remus echoed, wonder written on his face as he heard what Sirius was asking of him.
Sirius swept the Veil aside as he pushed his hand forward into the archway, struggling more and more with each inch that he moved. It was like trying to swim against the current, and the more he tried to push forward, the further back he seemed to be going. "Don't come too close," he warned Remus, even as the other man raised his hand into the archway from the other side. Then Remus's fingers were brushing against his own, an anchor in the rapidly running stream. He clung to those fingers as though they were the only things keeping him from drifting off into nothingness.
"I've missed you, Padfoot," Remus said, smiling shyly as their fingers entwined.
"I know," Sirius replied. He ran his thumb over Remus's wrist and smiled back. "I've been with you, you know? Watching over you, trying to guide you back here."
"How long?" Remus asked with a worried frown.
"Long enough," Sirius laughed. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?" Remus evaded.
"You know what," Sirius teased. "You wanted another chance, didn't you? Another chance to tell me how you feel?"
"You were really with me all this time?" Remus asked.
"I…" Remus began.
"I know," Sirius cut him off. "I love you, too."
"Always, Remus. Always."
They stood looking at each other for long moments, until finally Sirius inched forward so that he was standing directly under the archway. Their hands were still clasped together when he leaned forward to catch Remus's lips with his own.
Remus wound his arms around Sirius's neck, hugging him close as they kissed. The kiss wasn't exactly how he'd imagined it would be. For one thing, he hadn't envisaged that it would take place after Sirius had fallen through the Veil, seemingly taken from him forever. Nor had he dared to speculate that Sirius would be kissing him back with as much desperation as he was feeling himself.
"Help me, Remus," Sirius begged. "Pull me back through the archway. Don't let me go…please."
"I won't," Remus promised.
He looked up and saw that they were directly under the archway, caught as it were, between two worlds.
"It's so hard for me to step forward," Sirius said, even as he tried to push his way through the archway. "I need you to pull me."
Remus nodded and pulled Sirius close once more. "I've got you, Sirius. Just a little further."
Distantly, he heard a voice saying they couldn't do what they were doing, and he knew it was someone on Sirius's side of the Veil who was speaking.
"We can do this," he said firmly. "We do the impossible, don't we, Padfoot? Sixteen year old animaguses, werewolves attending school, we can do this."
"That's my Moony," Sirius said affectionately, and he ducked his head to kiss Remus again.
Remus kept his lips firmly locked with Sirius's own as he stepped back from the archway, pulling Sirius along with him.
"We do the impossible," Sirius agreed as he looked back at the archway with loathing. The Veil had drifted back down behind him and he shuddered as he looked at it swaying in the mysterious breeze.
"I think we should get out of here," Remus advised with a shudder of his own.
"After you Mr Moony," Sirius said, stepping back and giving an elegant sweeping bow.
Sirius only released his fingers for a moment, but that was more than long enough for the anchor to slip away.
"Sirius!" Remus yelled. He sprang forward to catch the other man as he tumbled to the ground.
"Guess this was too impossible, even for us," Sirius whispered.
"No, Sirius! Padfoot, don't leave me, don't leave me again." Remus held Sirius close as he closed his eyes. "Don't you dare, Padfoot! You can't do this to me, not now…not now."
"I'll never leave you, Moony," Sirius whispered, his voice growing fainter with every word he uttered.
"Sirius, you've got to fight this," Remus demanded. "Don't you give up, fight it."
"Love you, Remus," Sirius whispered. "Always."
Remus sat on the cold stone floor for a long time. He held Sirius in his arms, waiting in vain for the grey eyes to open once more.
Remus let himself into his flat, once more loaded down with shopping. He glanced fondly at the green apples that he knew Sirius loved. He went to the kitchen counter and prepared himself a proper meal for the first time in months. Sirius would have had no cause for complaint at the food.
Remus washed the pots carefully, making sure that all those that had lingered for so long were thoroughly clean and put away.
Then he went into the bedroom and stretched out on one side of the bed. He knew that Sirius wasn't with him, not like he'd been before, but it made him feel slightly better to know that Sirius would approve of his making room for him in the bed.
Eventually he slept, dreaming of happier times, some real, others only real in the realms of his imagination. In all of his dreams there was only one constant presence. Sometimes he was in the form of a large black dog, more often he was a dark-haired young man with twinkling grey eyes.
In the weary werewolf's dreams, Sirius Black was with him…always.
A/N: I suppose I better grovel apologies to everyone who wanted a happy ending on this one. In my defence (why do I seem to end up writing that on all my fics these days?) this one is, and always has been, in the angst/tragedy category.
ETA: Spooky coincidence alert - whilst I was writing this fic several months ago, there was someone with far more talent at art than myself working on a project of her own. She originally posted her picture a day before this story was published and it is the most vivid visual representatiion of the final scene at the veil I could imagine. I strongly recommend heading over to see "Life in my Hands" by Melete at DeviantArt. Sorry, this site won't let me link to it in the story. Check out my profile page for (hopefully) a direct link.