Disclaimer: Characters to J.K. Rowling, may she not sue me for using her characters for the sake of satisfying my boredom and fandom.
Sirius Black never cared much for Remus Lupin in the first four years of school. They were friends, yes. He had worked for the past three years along with James Potter and Peter Pettigrew to become Animagi for Remus, true. But he never really cared much for Remus. In fact, if James hadn't insisted on helping Remus carry his large suitcase onto Hogwarts Express, Sirius didn't think he would have ended up being friends with Remus.
Speaking of James…Sirius always believed the messy-haired boy had some strange obsession with the werewolf. Though it was he who was inseparable from James, it was Remus who James talked about the most (followed closely by Lily). Most of the time, they would be in the middle of talking about a Quidditch move and James would suddenly change the conversation by asking Sirius if Remus would be going to the next game that happened to be the day after the full moon. At first, Sirius humored James by calmly analyzing the situation, but, after the eighteenth time James did it, Sirius shouted back that he had no bloody way in hell of knowing what Remus Lupin would do because he wasn't his freaking keeper. That generally shut James up for a bit until he found another way to bring up Remus Lupin. If James wasn't asking Sirius about Remus' opinion, he was constantly questioning Sirius about Remus' health, which, in Sirius' opinion was useless seeing as he saw the werewolf about as much as James did. So, yes, Sirius was inclined to believe that James was obsessed about Remus.
In fact, it was a mere few hours ago that James attacked a very tired looking Remus with a giant hug when he spotted him on at the station. Remus responded eagerly and greeted his other two friends hastily before detaching himself from James and pointing at the badge on his chest. Before he could utter the words, "I'm a prefect," James had launched at him again, lifted him up, and swung him around in a circle screaming, "Our little Remus has grown up and made his daddy Jamesie so happy!" Remus let James spin him once more before insisting that he had to go to the Prefects cabin and he would meet up with them later. The instant Remus disappeared, James rounded on Sirius and said in an anxious voice, "There's something wrong with Remus." Sirius waved his worries away, believing that James was just being paranoid, but now, at twelve at night, that Sirius could hear Remus moaning and crying in his sleep in the bed next to Sirius', the black-haired boy was inclined to believe that James had been right.
Remus' curtains were sealed tightly around his bed, but they didn't muffle the painful sounds coming from the tawny-haired boy. Sirius thought about getting up to wake Remus from his sleep and make him stop; after all, they were on some level friends. But he wasn't sure what he would do after that. Remus was bound to shrug off any questions that Sirius would ask awkwardly and probably leave the dormitory so that he didn't bother the other three boys anymore that night. And Sirius didn't think that was a good idea, because Remus did look extremely tired and he was sure that if Remus left, he wouldn't be going back to sleep.
Luckily, Sirius didn't have to worry about what to do, because James had gotten out of his bed and crossed over to Remus'. He pulled away the curtains with care that Sirius had rarely ever seen before and sat down on the edge of the bed. Then, he reached one hand out and, instead of shaking Remus awake like Sirius had thought he would, stroked the light brown hair gently. Instantly, wide golden eyes emerged from behind alert eyelids. For an instant, they searched around frantically for danger as the thin uncovered chest moved up and down at an absurdly fast pace. But as soon as he saw James, Remus shut his eyes again and let out a deep breath.
"Sorry," he whispered as James continued to run his hand through Remus' hair lightly.
James frowned as his hazel eyes swirled with displeasure. "Don't be." He paused as Remus turned so that most of his face was buried in the fluffy white pillow. "Remus, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," he muttered. "Go back to sleep."
James let out a soft laugh and shook his head, though Remus couldn't see. "I should be telling you that." Then his eyes fell back into their previous serious mode. "Nothing my ass. You've lost a lot of weight, you're abnormally tired – don't give me shit about the moon; it's not for another two weeks – and you've never made a sound in your sleep before."
If Sirius wanted to interject, now would be the time to say that that wasn't true. In fact, sometimes Remus muttered things about chocolate or he panted like he had been running a marathon. But Sirius felt like it would be a wrong moment to point this out. Besides, neither of them knew he was awake.
"James," Remus brought a pale arm out from under his pillow and stopped James' hand with his own. "Please don't worry so much." Then he lifted his head away from the pillow and smiled at James with his eyes still closed. "Especially not about me."
"Bollocks, Remus," James replied angrily, clasping Remus' hand with his own. "I'll worry about you all I want. You're my friend, Remus, and if anything or anyone has been bothering you, I want to know."
At this Remus opened his eyes and Sirius was sure he wasn't the only one who was surprised to see them water. "Thank you, James," was all he said before he tugged his hand away from the other boy. He smiled affectionately and sadly at the same time as he climbed out of bed and took his sheets with him out the dormitory.
James stood up as soon as the door shut and made to go after him, but Sirius sat up and said, "Don't."
Startled, James turned to look at Sirius and one look at the silver eyes told him that Sirius had heard and seen it all but hadn't understood anything apart from the fact that Remus needed to be alone. He glared at Sirius, directing his anger wrongly, before he fell back onto Remus' bed and whispered, "It's not fair." Before Sirius could ask what wasn't fair, James had curled up on the empty bed and turned away from him to sleep.
Sirius wasn't very surprised to see that he was the first awake in the dormitory the next morning. Before he went about his morning business, he spread his blankets across a shivering James who was still asleep in Remus' bed. He didn't bother Peter because it was still early in the morning and he wasn't in the mood for Peter's idiocy. So he dressed himself for the day while half-wondering what happened to Remus. His thoughts were answered when he appeared in the common room and found the boy laying on the ground next to a lit fireplace and fast asleep.
He stood at the base of the stairwell deciding if he should just go on to breakfast or if he should wake Remus up. His thoughts were leaning towards breakfast because he was sure that someone else would come by to alert Remus, when the werewolf whined softly and curled his body together defensively. Instantly, Sirius was kneeling beside Remus and shaking his shoulder.
Remus' breathing calmed down for a moment, and, unlike last night, he opened his eyes very lazily.
"Sirius?" he murmured as he sat up sleepily and wrapped his blankets around himself.
Sirius took his hand back and frowned slightly. "Are you cold?" He was surprised to see that even beside the roaring fire and under the heavy sheets Remus was shivering.
Remus' eyes snapped into focus as he shakily stood up and quickly shook his head. "Not at all." Golden orbs flickered to the sunlight filtering into the common room before making eye contact with Sirius again. "I might be late to breakfast. Pick up my schedule for me, will you?" He smiled kindly and Sirius nodded. "Thanks." Then he disappeared up the stairs to the boy's dormitory with his blankets flowing behind him royally.
Remus had not been late to breakfast. In fact, Remus had not showed up to breakfast at all, which was clearly not a good sign, as James was repeatedly telling Sirius. It seemed as if James had a right to be worried this time because Sirius wasn't tell him to stop, Lily was sitting next to them asking where Remus was every ten seconds, and even Professor McGonagall seemed displeased when she handed Sirius Remus' schedule.
As soon as the schedule was in Sirius' hands, James snatched it away and ran out of the Great Hall immediately. Sirius wasn't going to follow after him, but Lily had gotten up and raced after James, so Sirius, not wanting to be left alone with Peter, followed at a brisk pace.
He caught up with them in the boy's dormitory where they were huddled on either side of Remus talking in urgent voices, apparently trying to persuade him to do something he didn't want to.
"What's going on?" he asked blandly. Lily and James both stopped talking and Remus looked up briefly before smiling in an assuring manner.
"Nothing at all," he replied and Sirius couldn't help but notice that voice was a lot weaker than it was earlier that morning. "Really. Lily and James just found me asleep and now they're convinced that I'm sick." He shook his head at the absurdity of the idea and, from his smile that never faltered, Sirius was very tempted to agree with him.
But then James shouted, "Nothing? Is that all you can tell us now? Nothing?" He stopped suddenly as his eyes widened with regret at seeing Remus flinch away from him. Taking in a deep breath, he forced himself to calm down and said quieter but with just as much passion, "Remus, what are you hiding? Why won't you tell us? Aren't we your friends?" He brought the back of his hand up to stroke the other's cheek but Remus turned away.
"I'm sorry to have worried you, James." The smile lowered a bit sadly and Remus made sure not to have eye contact with James. "Really. I'm not hiding anything." He paused to look at the time then glanced over all of them before settling his eyes on James' still floating hand. "Look, if you don't leave now, then we'll be late to class. I'd love for you all to wait, but frankly," he lowered his gaze and a faint blush spread across his cheeks, "I'm a bit shy to change in front of Lily."
A small wave of laughter fill the room, most of it coming from Lily as she stood up and nodded. "Alright then. We'll leave you to our business." She grabbed James' hand before he could protest and dragged him to the door. "See you in Transfiguration. We have it with the Ravenclaws, in case you haven't read your schedule yet." Then she left with James screaming at Sirius to take Remus to the Hospital Wing.
As soon as the door shut behind them, Remus looked up at Sirius with wide haunted eyes and Sirius had to suppress a shiver as he sat down on his own bed across from Remus. By now the blush should have left Remus, but the oddly pale face was fervently flushed and Sirius was sure he had nothing to do with it.
"You don't have to stay," he said as he shifted on the bed so that his previously crossed legs were hanging off the edge and his feet were touching the ground. "You'll probably end up being late too, if you do." Remus let the layers of blankets wrapped around him fall gracefully onto the bed to reveal a bare and heavily scarred torso. Most of the scars Sirius had seen before, but there were some that looked very recent, too recent to have been the result of the full moon. "Sirius?"
"I think you should go to the Hospital Wing," he answered, not daring to pry into Remus' life because he was afraid of seeing Remus' fake smile.
But he saw it anyway. Remus shook his head and his eyes thinned in an almost pitying manner. "You're only saying that because James told you to." Sirius didn't deny the fact, even though it was partially true. Remus sighed as he pulled on a shirt that covered all the scars except for the ones on his hands. "I've said I'm fine, if not just a bit tired. Really." That was the third time Remus had said the word "really" and Sirius wasn't sure who Remus was trying to convince.
Sirius watched Remus pull off his threadbare pajama pants and nearly fall from the effort, which was strange because not only was Remus taking his time doing a task he usually completed in seconds, but also because Remus seemed to be breathing very hard. When Remus nearly tripped again while trying to put his pants on, Sirius got up from the bed and placed the back of his hand on Remus' forehead to find it burning with fever.
"Remus," he exclaimed out of shock and almost pushed the other boy over. Quickly, he grabbed on of the pale hands and pulled him upright to find that his hands were frigid. "The hell with being alright! You've clearly got a fever or the flu," he said angrily, not letting Remus pull away from him. "You're going to the Hospital Wing."
Remus smiled again, but this time there was a sort of frantic look in his eyes. "It's nothing serious." His breathing quickened even more as his eyes darted around every so often. "You're going to be late. You don't have to take care of me. I can do that by myself and I know that you don't really like me. So it's fine if you just leave, Sirius. Really. Just go."
Sirius stared at Remus with his eyes narrowed as if the other boy was insane. "You look like you're about to die. Even if I didn't like you, I wouldn't leave you here to die, Remus. Come on, we have to go." He tugged on the thin hands but Remus didn't move.
"Ah, Sirius," he managed to say calmly even though the rest of his body was struggling with staying still. "I can't just leave without my pants, right? So if you'll kindly let me go, I can put them on and we can leave." There was a soft edge of desperation to his voice and Sirius realized that Remus trusted him about as much as he cared for Remus, which was to say, very little.
So he abruptly let go of the other boy who fell backwards and hit his head against the corner of his trunk. His eyes unfocused before they fell shut and his body slumped over like a rag doll left alone. Sirius froze for a moment, not believing his eyes. Then, what happened hit him so suddenly, he stepped back in shock before rushing forwards to wake Remus up. But no matter how many times he shouted "Remus", the other boy never woke. Frenetically, he decided that the only option was to take Remus to the Hospital Wing and hope that Madam Pomfrey would have a solution.
Too worried to be reluctant, he put one arm under Remus bare legs and another at the crook of his neck. With much more effort than was necessary, he lifted Remus up and started walking as fast as he dared to the Hospital Wing.
Sirius decided that there was no point going to class because if he did then he was likely to come running back with James and Lily, which was a complete waste of effort. So instead, he sat watching Madam Pomfrey fret about Remus. He had tried to find out what was wrong with Remus, but the woman, convinced Sirius had something to do with his condition, snapped at him to shut up while she worked if he wanted to stay. He shut his trap and waited with his arms and legs crossed for some information.
It must have been at least half an hour before the woman was calm enough to tell Sirius that Remus was now resting in a peaceful sleep so it would be kind not to disturb him. She also mentioned that he had the flu that she could easily solve, but her voice was not cheerful or confident like it usually was when she could fix a problem. It seemed as if there was something else wrong with Remus and she knew but couldn't change. Something that was more than just his lycanthropy.
Sirius sat there watching Remus sleep rather peacefully. Madam Pomfrey had given Remus a dreamless sleep potion and left another one behind with the instructions that Sirius was to give it to Remus if he started having a fit. It seemed as if Remus was doing just fine and Sirius stood up to stretch his legs.
He almost made it to the window when James burst in with Lily close behind him. He took one look at Remus before he opened his mouth and a rush of concerns came out.
"Sirius, what happened to him? Why didn't you come to class? Is he alright? I knew something was wrong with him. I don't think he's been eating properly. He's clearly too weak and faint. Oh Merlin, you don't think," he glanced at Lily and Sirius was glad to see that there was still some sanity left in his friend, "that the full moon will end him do you? Sirius-"
"Shut up." Sirius continued his walk to the window and pushed it open a bit so that he could take in the fall air. He took a few calming breaths before answering. "Madam Pomfrey says he has the flu, but he'll be fine. So shut up and go back to class."
"Wait a minute. Why the hell should I go to class?" James stormed up to Sirius and growled, "I should be the one here for him. So why don't you get your ass over to Herbology while I stay here and watch him?"
Sirius rounded on James with his eyes narrowed just as intently as James'. "Because you are just going to bombard him with questions that will make him upset even if he won't show it," he hissed back before letting out a huffy breath and standing up straight. "And you're just going to sit here alone and worried, James. So you might as well go to class and worry while doing something. Besides, I don't think I could stand being with Peter right now. He's such an idiot and I hardly think today will be any different."
James watched as Sirius slipped under a mask of indifference and couldn't help but feel that maybe Sirius was right. After all, Remus had been awfully short with him lately. But still, Remus had been his friend first and it wasn't as if Sirius cared for Remus as much as he did. He opened his mouth to say so when the forgotten redhead tugged on his sleeve.
"James, he's right." Her green eyes that looked at him with compassion were so different from they way they usually glared with contempt and he felt himself give in. "Sirius will come get us as soon as Remus wakes up and this way we can get Remus all his work so he doesn't miss anything, okay?"
He turned his gaze away from her and towards Remus who had his mouth slightly open and was dozing peacefully. Then he looked at Sirius who nodded. "Alright, but if he's not awake by lunch, I'm taking over, got it?" He glared at Sirius who merely nodded once more before he left with Lily gently closing the door behind them.
Sirius had grown bored of watching Remus sleep and had taken out a book from his bag to read. He was on page fourteen of their new Defense Against the Dark Arts book with Remus started mumbling. He looked up from the book and saw that Remus' eyes were closed, but his face was twisted into fear.
"Please," he muttered softly as he shifted in the bed. "I didn't mean…It wasn't…He…Please…" Tears were beginning to leak behind the closed lids and Sirius reached for the potion, but as he was about to tip it into Remus' mumbling mouth, he thought that it would be better to wake the other boy instead.
"Remus, wake up," he said softly and on command the golden eyes flew open.
They took a moment to register where Remus was and who was talking to him. Once they did, the panic melted away from them and they relaxed as eyelids half-covered them.
"I see you managed to take me to the Hospital Wing," he commented so serenely that he might have been talking about the weather.
"It wasn't hard," Sirius replied warily. He reached up and put his hand on Remus' forehead, ignoring the body tensing underneath it. "Your fever's gone down. James will be glad to hear that."
Remus sighed half in exasperation and half in relief that Sirius had taken his hand away. "I suppose he will." His eyes glanced down to the side. "I do wish he would stop worrying so much. I mean, we only just got back from vacation."
"Yeah, well, I guess he really cares for you. You're like his brother, in a way." Sirius shrugged, not sure what to say, but knowing that if he didn't keep talking there would be an uncomfortable silence between them.
Remus' lips twitched upwards into a small smile. "I suppose he does." Then he looked over at Sirius, his gaze still sleepy and vague. "But you don't." He paused just long enough for Sirius to understand what he said but not to respond. "I've always wondered why you tolerated me and Peter. I've seen you act towards people you don't like. They aren't worth a second glance. Then there are those that you think are good fun, but not fun enough to be your friends. I suppose we would fall into that category." He licked his lips then looked around for a glass of water. "Is it just for James that you talk to us? I know," he found one and took a generous gulp from it, "that you couldn't care less for me. After all, when was the last time we spoke, just the two of us? And Peter? I know." But what he knew, he didn't say and Sirius figured Remus knew too much.
Sirius shrugged. "I guess so." As much as he hated to admit it, the elitism his family had instilled upon him still remained imbedded in his system and perhaps the reason why he did so much for James was because James was pureblood where as Remus was not only half-blood but a werewolf as well. And for Peter. Truthfully, Peter could have been any blood and Sirius still wouldn't have liked him.
Remus laughed lightly and leaned back onto his pillows that had magically rearranged themselves so they propped him up in a half sitting position. "I like you, Sirius, you know? I've always admired you for your brashness and honesty even if it hurt people sometimes. Even that time when you yelled at me for being stupid and a werewolf like it was my fault, I thought it was admirable." He sighed and shut his eyes. "Anyway, you can go now. I think it's safe to say I'm not going to die soon and I'm sure you must be starving."
"I can't," Sirius replied truthfully as he sat down in the chair next to the hospital bed. "James would shoot me if I did." He waited for a response, but the tired face only smiled briefly in return. "Remus," he whispered softly after a moment and Remus opened his eyes to look at him questioningly. "You have something more than the flu, don't you?"
"What do you mean?" he asked back with his eyes lit up as if he knew exactly what Sirius was talking about and was only humoring the other boy.
"I mean that there's something you aren't telling us. I know you wouldn't tell me anyway, but you haven't mentioned it to James or Lily and it's something that's killing you."
"You want to know, would you?" Remus smiled sadly and Sirius wondered when the last time it was that he saw Remus actually smile for the sake of being happy. "Well don't tell either of them, then." He waited for Sirius' hesitant nod before answering, "You're right, Sirius, it is killing me. Or rather they are killing me. My heartaches."
A/N: Yes, a new story. I had actually intended this to be a one shot, but then I was led off course. It's not going to be very long. Rated M because I'm gonna try to do that. A bit stranger. In fact, so strange that I'm tempted to put it under Angst, but I shall refrain, because only Harry Potter is allowed to be angsty. And Remus is serious; his heart hurts. God hates him, so he now has heart problems.