Wednesday, 18 June, 1986 — 4:02 a.m.

They were walking through a forest, not talking, not laughing—certainly not looking at each other.

Finally, Remus cleared his throat. "Why won't you just tell me the truth?"

Sirius halted abruptly and turned toward his friend. "Moony, I've always told you the truth." He felt a sharp sting that Remus would even question it.

"But it doesn't make sense!" Remus protested. "You were the Secret-Keeper!"

"Damn it, Moony!" Sirius exploded. "You were smarter than this! Do you need me to do your thinking for you?"

"I just want you to tell me what happened!"

Sirius reached out and put his hand on Remus' shoulder. "I never would have done anything to hurt them. And gods, Moony, I never would have left you alone. Surely you know that. Surely you believe that!"

"You were pushing me away —"

"You were pushing yourself away. You wouldn't tell us anything!" Sirius' voice rose in frustration. "Remus, you always did that when you were trying to protect us. I knew that! All I wanted to know — all I needed to know — was that you knew what you were doing, and that you still loved us."

Remus' eyes filled with tears. "Of course I loved you all! You were my family, Sirius! You, James, and Peter were my brothers! Lily was my sister —"

Sirius chuckled knowingly, sadly. "She was more than that."

"Gods, don't start," Remus growled.

The full moon came out from behind some clouds, and the werewolf shuddered violently.

"It's a dream, Moony. It's not real."

Remus suddenly reached up and put his hand over Sirius'. "It feels real." He looked up at the moon and another tremor went through his body. "Sirius — Padfoot…"

"I'm here, Moony. I'm here," Sirius whispered it over and over as Remus' body contorted and stretched, as the human screamed and then howled his way through the agony of bones breaking and muscles shifting — until a wolf stood where the young man once had. Then the handsome, dark-haired young man quickly, fluidly, painlessly, transformed into a big, black dog.

The wolf lifted his head and nuzzled at the dog, whining piteously, his golden eyes frightened yet curious.

Padfoot lowered his head and wagged his tail tentatively. His inquisitive bark made the wolf cock his head to the left, and inside the dog's head, Sirius laughed at the completely Remus-like gesture.

Then, mouth open, tongue lolling, the dog jumped at the wolf, roughly bumping him with a silky, black-furred shoulder. The wolf growled warningly and pushed at Padfoot with his sharp-clawed paw, though it was gently, as if he was intentionally trying not to hurt the dog. The black dog hunkered down, his ears flat against his head, watching and waiting for what the wolf would do next.

The wolf stared at him and then tossed his head with a gesture that was reminiscent of Remus rolling his eyes. Padfoot barked, his ears pricking forward. But the wolf pranced around the dog, nipping at the black animal's hindquarters. The dog got up, confused as to what Moony wanted. This wasn't their usual play. Usually, when they played, the dog was trying to distract the wolf from remembering that it wanted blood and flesh and bones — unless it was the rodents and small game they found within the shelter of the Forbidden Forest. This was something different. This was the wolf bouncing playfully around him, entreating him to run, to chase, to escape...

Moony suddenly darted into the trees, stopping just long enough to look over his shoulder. His golden eyes were laughing, daring Padfoot to follow.

With a sharp yip, the dog charged after him, but the wolf darted away, huffing with almost human laughter as the dog struggled to keep up…

In the depths of Azkaban prison, a man with long, matted, black hair opened his eyes: the scent of the forest in his nostrils, the feel of sticks and pine needles still imprinted on the pads of his fingertips and palms. This hadn't been the first dream he'd had of the dog and the wolf, and this certainly hadn't been the first time that he and the other young man had walked and talked about betrayal. But this time, there was something different, something that made him realise that — somehow — things had changed.

The wolf had changed. Remus had changed.

He couldn't help it. The thought that Moony — that Remus — didn't need him now turned him colder than the Dementors ever had.

"Don't leave me, Remus," he whispered.

Tears were in Remus' eyes when he opened them moments later. The black dog's yips and comedic yelps still echoed in his ears, and the goose bumps on his arms had to have been caused by the breeze weaving through the trees as they had run together through the forest. Still, there was a smile on his face, and a lightness in his chest that hadn't been there for years.

"I'm with you, Sirius," he whispered.


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