Title: If You Believe
Author: fullmoon_dreams aka LouisaB
Summary: Sirius Black believes in magic and werewolves…but no one else does.
Notes: Cross-posted to my personal LJ and blacklupin dot org and (like most of my stuff) unbeta'd. Originally written for the prompt "Belief" as part of the 100 Quills challenge at LJ.
Virtual cookies to anyone who knows which episode of which TV show this is loosely based on/inspired by. Extra chocolate chips to those who can guess who don't know me and my TV show tastes.
"Now this case is an interesting one," the man was saying.
Sirius looked around the room wildly, wondering where he was and how he had got there. The last thing he remembered was leaning his head on his desk during the Friday afternoon Charms lesson, now he was Merlin knows where and he had no idea what had happened.
"Ah, he seems to be with us for the moment," the man commented. "Sirius? Can you hear me?"
"Who are you?" Sirius asked, shrinking back from the various faces that were surrounding him.
"I'm Doctor Carlisle," the man said. "Don't you remember? We've met before, many times."
Sirius shook his head and tried to see around the man for a way out of the small and confining room.
The doctor turned to the man and woman beside him and shook his head. "Mr Black has met me many times, but unfortunately the fantasy world he has created inside his head is far more real to him than the actual world, and he hardly ever recalls his previous discussions with me during his rare periods of lucidity."
"Could that be a side effect of the drugs?" the woman asked.
"Quite possibly," Doctor Carlisle replied. "But unfortunately Mr Black has some rather violent tendencies and we have had to keep him sedated for his own good."
The woman nodded thoughtfully and looked down in order to take some notes. Sirius used their distraction to make a run for the door. He nearly made it through, but the sharp prick of a needle in his skin stopped him in his tracks and he crumpled to the ground.
"What the hell?" Sirius sat up in his seat and looked wildly about the room.
"Yes, Mr Black?" Professor Flitwick asked mildly. "Are we disturbing your rest?"
Several students snickered and Sirius felt his face burning red.
Professor Flitwick looked annoyed, and Sirius couldn't really blame him. Although he had often caught up with a bit of sleep in class, he had rarely been caught. "The homework will be twelve inches of parchment on the uses of the twelve charms that were banned by the 1666 Act and the reasons for the bans." He turned to Sirius with a hard stare. "And twenty four inches from you Mr Black."
Sirius groaned as he pushed his books and parchments into his bag.
"Don't worry, Padfoot, I'll help you out with the homework," Remus whispered as they left the room.
Sirius turned to grin at him. "You will?"
Remus nodded. "It's not like you seemed to be enjoying your little nap."
"I had a really weird dream," Sirius whispered. "I was in some sort of muggle building and I was being held prisoner there."
"You were in a muggle prison?" Remus repeated with a chuckle. "Maybe it's a dream brought on by your messing about with illegal charms to make that muggle motorbike fly."
Sirius shook his head. "It wasn't a prison. There was a man there who said he was a doctor. That's like a Healer, right?"
"Yeah, perhaps you were dreaming you were in a muggle hospital?"
"Perhaps," Sirius agreed. "It was really weird though."
Remus smiled, and after casting a quick glance down the corridor to check that no one was watching, leaned over to give Sirius a quick peck on the cheek. "Come on, let's go to dinner and then I'll help you with the essay."
Sirius smiled and resolved to put the dream out of his head.
Sirius knew he was dreaming again, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to wake up. He had heard that when someone knew that they were dreaming they were close to waking up, but for some reason that was just not working for him.
The same man he had seen before was leaning over him, pointing a bright light at his eyes. Sirius blinked and tried to get away from light, but he could only move so far, there were some kind of restraints holding him in place.
"He's awake," the man said. "Do you recognise me?" he asked, turning to Sirius.
Sirius frowned. "Doctor…" he mumbled, his mouth feeling fuzzy and strange. "Doctor…" But the name wouldn't come to his lips.
"That's right," the doctor said with a smile. "I'm Doctor Carlisle." He turned to someone who was out of sight. "As you can see, the memories are in there, but Mr Black has trouble accessing them."
"Because of the fantasy world he's created?" a woman asked.
"We believe so."
"Does he ever talk about this other world?"
"Oh, yes. Sometimes he is quite chatty about it. He believes that he is a wizard, someone with magical powers, and that there is a whole magical community out there, hidden of course, from us muggles as he calls us. He believes he is a student at a school called…" Sirius watched as the man flicked through the papers he was holding. "Ah, yes, Hogwart's. It's based in a castle up in Scotland and he lives in one of the towers with his friends. He even has names for them. Prongs, Moony and Wormtail."
"Strange names," the woman commented with a snicker.
"They're nicknames, stupid!" Sirius snapped, tired of this conversation and even more tired of being spoken about like he wasn't even there.
"Now, now," Doctor Carlisle chided. "There's no need to be rude. Why don't you tell Doctor Lambert where the nicknames come from?"
Sirius glared at him. "They're just nicknames," he replied. He had no idea where he was, but the last thing he wanted to do was tell them about certain illegal activities and find himself in even more trouble.
Doctor Carlisle chuckled. "Although he doesn't seem very co-operative today, we have managed to establish a little more about the names in the past. The nicknames of his friends are based on their animal forms. Sirius has his own name…Padfoot. He believes he has the ability to change into a dog."
"That would be quite impressive to see," Doctor Lambert replied with a small laugh.
"It would indeed," Doctor Carlisle said. "He has tried to turn into this dog on many occasions, perhaps believing that that might be a way of escaping his confinement here. Unfortunately, his attempts have never been successful."
"Not really surprising though," Doctor Lambert replied. "After all, there's no such thing as magic."
Doctor Carlisle nodded in agreement.
"Magic does exist!" Sirius yelled, struggling against the restraints with renewed effort.
"He's becoming agitated again," Doctor Carlisle said. "Perhaps we need to increase his dosage?"
Sirius watched the female doctor step into view and saw her approaching him with a syringe with a very nasty looking needle. "Get that thing away from me!" he shouted, but the restraints prevented him from moving out of her reach.
"Moony?" Sirius whispered.
"Hmm?" Remus replied sleepily.
"Can I sleep with you?" Sirius asked.
Remus blinked a time or two before nodding. He shifted back on the mattress to make room for the other young man. "What's the matter?" he asked once Sirius had settled.
"Bad dream," Sirius whispered back.
"Another one?" Remus asked. "How many is that now?"
"I've lost count," Sirius replied. "I don't like them. I was tied up on a bed and they were injecting stuff into me."
"Just try and forget about it," Remus advised.
"I know one thing that would make me forget," Sirius said in as casual tone as he could muster.
"I'll just bet you could," Remus replied with a grin.
"A werewolf?" Dr Lambert was saying. "But I thought his fantasy world was set in some sort of school?"
Sirius kept his eyes closed, knowing where he was, but this time deciding to try things a little differently.
"It is," Doctor Carlisle answered. "Mr Black believes that one of his friends – Moony – is a werewolf. He believes it so much we have to restrain him when there is a full moon. He became lucid during one full moon and it took five men to pin him down. Now, we make sure he is securely restrained well before moonrise, no matter whether he is lucid or not."
Sirius moved his arm slowly, relieved to find that the straps holding him down had been removed.
"But, a student who's a werewolf?"
"But that sounds rather a dangerous thing to let into a school."
It was on the tip of his tongue to shout out that Moony wasn't a thing and that he wasn't dangerous most of the time. But this time he was being cautious and so instead he remained silent, listening and waiting for an opportunity to escape.
"Very dangerous," Doctor Carlisle agreed. "But don't let Mr Black hear you say so. He's very protective of the one he calls Moony and has been known to get extremely violent when questioned about him."
"So, he's friends with a werewolf?"
"I believe that in his fantasy they are rather more than friends," Doctor Carlisle speculated.
"Has he told you that?"
Sirius opened his eyes ever so slightly and saw the doctor shake his head.
"Then how do you know?"
"We've ascertained it through the dreams he has."
"Yes. You see, even though Mr Black's mind is very…confused…his body is still that of a healthy young man." Sirius could see Doctor Lambert nodding and taking notes. "His body needs to find a release, just as any other young man's. Since he's so isolated here, there aren't any opportunities for him to form a relationship with someone and so he finds his release in his dreams. It was a while before we noticed it, but it eventually became clear that Moony was the one he cried out for during those dreams."
"So, is this Moony a female student in the school?"
Doctor Carlisle coughed slightly. "We don't believe so. We believe Moony to be a male student."
Sirius scowled to himself, wishing that he knew just what that 'ah' was meant to mean.
Suddenly he caught Doctor Lambert looking at him. "I think he's awake," she said.
Knowing he'd been caught, Sirius opened his eyes fully and stared at the two doctors who were staring back at him with interest.
"Good afternoon, Sirius," Doctor Carlisle greeted him. "Now, we're not going to have to restrain you again today, are we?"
Sirius shook his head quickly. He didn't want them to have any excuse to do that again. "Can I have a drink of water, please?" he asked quietly.
Doctor Carlisle beamed at him. "Of course, of course." He waved to Doctor Lambert, who hurried to comply with his request.
Sirius struggled to sit up, his movements slow and awkward, as though he hadn't used his limbs in far too long a time.
"Don't try to move too much," Doctor Carlisle warned. "You've been…away…for quite some time. You'll probably be a bit unsteady on your feet for a while."
Sirius nodded obediently, thankful for the warning. It wouldn't do to try and make a run for it, only to find that he could barely walk.
"Here's your water," Doctor Lambert said and Sirius took a long swallow.
"Thanks," he said, passing the empty beaker back to her when he realised there was nowhere to put it down.
"Now, do you feel up to answering a few questions?" Doctor Carlisle asked.
Sirius nodded, biding his time.
"Good, good. Do you remember your name?"
"Sirius Black," Sirius replied, trying to keep the impatience out of his voice.
"And your address?"
Sirius looked around the room, still having no real idea where he was.
Doctor Carlisle caught his look and shook his head. "Your address before you were admitted here," he clarified.
"I was at school," Sirius replied. "Hogwart's."
Doctor Carlisle frowned as he made a couple of notes.
"In the holidays I was staying with the Potters," Sirius added, hoping to get a more encouraging look from man who seemed to be in charge of his life at the moment.
"The Potters?" Doctor Carlisle said with a look of startled surprise. He flicked back through his papers. "I've not heard you mention them before. Why were you staying with them and not your own family?"
"I ran away," Sirius muttered shortly. "My mother's a raving lunatic. We had a huge row and I packed my things and left."
"Interesting," Doctor Carlisle commented, making more notes.
"What are you writing down?" Sirius asked, leaning over slightly to try and see for himself.
"Just a record of our conversation," Doctor Carlisle replied with a smile. "So that I can look back on it later."
Sirius shrugged. "Wizards just use a pensieve for that," he commented without thinking.
Sirius ducked his head, inwardly cursing himself for his thoughtless comment. The only silver lining was that at least it was clear from the start that the doctor didn't believe a word he was saying about the magical world. "Just something to help us remember things," he muttered, reluctant to elaborate further. "We're not supposed to talk about our world to muggles."
"Everything you tell me is entirely confidential," Doctor Carlisle assured him. "Only the other doctors and caseworkers here will know of what you've said."
"But if they say something I'll get arrested for breaching the Statute of Secrecy," Sirius pointed out. "I shouldn't have said so much."
"Don't worry about saying too much," Doctor Carlisle said. "If anyone said something about you they would be risking arrest themselves under our…muggle…laws. They haven't up until now, so it's highly unlikely they'll do so in the future."
Sirius frowned, not sure whether to believe the man or not. He seemed reasonable enough, but muggles could be very sneaky when they chose to be.
"Do you know how long you've been here?" Doctor Carlisle asked.
Sirius was relieved that the topic had moved on to something less likely to get him into trouble; he was only disappointed that he had no idea of the answer. He shrugged and shook his head.
"Four years," Doctor Carlisle stated quietly. "You were admitted here four years ago."
"What?" Sirius gasped. "No, I can't have been here for four years. I was at school before I woke up. I can't have been here that long. I can't!"
"Please calm down," Doctor Carlisle asked, standing up and placing his clipboard on his chair. "I can assure you that you have been here for a little under four years. You have been under my supervision the entire time."
Sirius shook his head, panic building up again. From the corner of his eye he could see Doctor Lambert coming towards him and he bolted from the bed, pushing past Doctor Carlisle as he tried to reach the door.
His last thought before he was being jabbed with yet another needle was so much for biding his time.
"It's getting really scary," Sirius said. "It seems to be every time I fall asleep I end up in this crazy dream."
James, Remus and Peter were listening to him quietly as he rambled on about his dreams. Their books were scattered around on the grass, long forgotten in their mutual concern for their friend.
"Have you talked to Madam Pomfrey?" Peter suggested.
"What can she do?" Sirius asked. "It's just a stupid dream."
"It's obviously upsetting you," James pointed out. "Maybe she can give you some sort of potion to help you sleep without dreaming?"
"It's worth a try," Remus added. "You can't go on like this. We've got NEWTs coming up and you'll fail them all if you don't start sleeping properly."
Sirius nodded reluctantly. "I guess I could go and talk to her."
"You want me to come with you?" Remus asked.
Sirius nodded again, feeling more than a little apprehensive at going to bother the school Healer for something that seemed to be so trivial.
Madam Pomfrey was as kind and understanding as she always was. Within a matter of minutes she had produced a potion to induce dreamless sleep, warning him that he might sleep longer after taking it and so to have an early night as well.
Sirius nodded and pocketed the potion, promising to take it immediately after dinner.
"Well, that didn't work," Sirius muttered as he looked around the now familiar room.
"What didn't work?" Doctor Carlisle asked.
"Nothing," Sirius replied.
Doctor Carlisle nodded and smiled. "We have a new caseworker for you today," he said brightly. "Doctor Lambert has moved on to bigger and better things than this little hospital."
Sirius wondered what sort of a response, if any, he was expecting him to make.
"Doctor Lupin will be taking over your case, under my supervision, of course."
"Lupin?" Sirius asked with a gasp of surprise.
Doctor Carlisle nodded. "Fresh out of university, top of his field. I think you'll like him."
Sirius felt his heart racing and sat up a little too quickly. "Is he here now?" he asked eagerly.
Doctor Carlisle shook his head. "I'm afraid he finished for the day a few hours ago. You'll meet him tomorrow."
The disappointment was almost more than he could bear, but Sirius tried to brush it off as casually as possible. He had never been in the dream world for such a length of time, and as such it was highly unlikely that he would still be around to meet Doctor Lupin.
He looked about the room and wondered what he was supposed to do. "Can I have some magazines or something?" he asked.
Doctor Carlisle looked positively thrilled at his question. "Of course, of course. I'll see what I can find in the recreation room."
"The recreation room?" Sirius asked hopefully.
"It's downstairs, but I don't think you're quite ready to go down and join the others yet. What magazines are you interested in?"
Sirius shrugged. "Are there any about motorbikes?" he asked.
"I expect so," Doctor Carlisle said with a nod. "If not, there are certainly some about cars; will they do?"
Sirius nodded, anything was better than sitting staring at the walls.
He waited until the doctor had left him on his own before climbing off the bed. He wasn't surprised to find that the door was securely locked. He wished he had his wand with him, but he had no idea where it had gone. He didn't even remember it being taken from him.
Since the door seemed to be out of the question he turned to the rest of the room. There was a tiny window that he would never be able to squeeze through, even if it didn't have bars as well.
He was standing looking out at the grounds, getting his bearings, when Doctor Carlisle returned with a pile of magazines that he placed on the bed. They appeared to be falling apart and were tatty from overuse.
"I'm afraid they're quite old," he apologised. "But they're all we have."
Sirius nodded and turned to pick up the one on the top. The date on the cover wasn't that old, only a few months ago. Besides, it wasn't like he had read any of them before. "They're good," he said as he flicked through the pages.
"Well, I'll be around if you need anything else," Doctor Carlisle offered. "Just hit this button here." Sirius turned to where he was pointing at a button embedded in the wall near the door. He nodded that he would and turned back to the magazine.
"So, the potion didn't work?" Remus asked.
Sirius shook his head. "It wasn't so bad this time though. They didn't stab me with any needles or anything. I got to read some muggle magazines about bikes and cars."
"Seems a lot of trouble to go to in order to get a bit of light reading material," James said.
"There's something else," Sirius said, telling them about the name of his new caseworker, Doctor Lupin.
"So, Moony, any plans on becoming a doctor?" Peter asked.
"Fat chance," Remus laughed. "That's one profession where I agree that the Ministry is right to stop werewolves doing it."
"The Ministry is stupid," Sirius muttered. "You can do anything you want, you know that."
Remus rolled his eyes. "It's just too dangerous. If I accidentally cut myself whilst dealing with a patient with an open wound…well, it doesn't really bear thinking about."
Sirius nodded reluctantly. "At least you get to be a doctor in my weird dream world," he said.
Remus smiled. "Only you would dream about me being a doctor."
"What?" Sirius asked cautiously.
"Just thinking. You say that most of the times in these dreams you're all tied up and stuff. Now you're dreaming that Moony is the one tying you up. Just saying…"
Sirius threw a pillow across the room. "Very funny," he muttered.
Somehow, Sirius knew that his new caseworker was going to be Remus. He knew it as certainly as he knew that the wizarding world was the real one, no matter what the doctors said to the contrary.
"Good morning, Sirius," Doctor Carlisle greeted him. "I'd like you to meet Doctor Lupin. Do you remember me telling you about him last week?"
"Yesterday," Sirius corrected.
Doctor Carlisle turned to Doctor Lupin – Remus – with a smile. "I'm afraid Mr Black's last period of lucidity was a week ago, so for him it seems like it was yesterday."
Remus nodded and turned to Sirius. He stretched out his hand. "Pleased to meet you," he said.
Sirius took his hand and shook it slowly. "You too," he said, squeezing the hand slightly, reluctant to release it.
"As I was explaining," Doctor Carlisle continued, turning to Remus as his spoke. "The full moon is tonight, so I'll brief you on all the precautions that we take with regard to Mr Black right after lunch. I'll oversee the preparations myself this time, but after that it'll be your responsibility."
"Now, if you'll just follow me, I've dug out a few older reports on this case for you to look through."
"Wait!" Sirius called out.
"Yes?" Doctor Carlisle asked. "Is there something you'd like?"
"You mean besides the chance to get out of here?" he asked sarcastically.
"You'll be released once you're well again," Doctor Carlisle assured him. "You've been making quite a bit of progress in the last few months; you're remembering far more of our conversations than you used to. I've not had to re-introduce myself in months. You're making good progress, but you're not ready to leave us yet."
Sirius scowled. "Can I talk to Remus alone, please?" he asked.
Doctor Carlisle turned to Remus with a frown of confusion. "Have you used your Christian name in his presence before?"
"Not while he's been lucid," Remus replied.
Doctor Carlisle nodded and made several rapid notes on his clipboard. "That means he must be more aware than we thought during other times. Excellent, excellent."
"But can I talk to him?" Sirius asked impatiently.
"Perhaps later," Doctor Carlisle replied. "I'm afraid Doctor Lupin has work to do."
Sirius tried to curb his impatience as he nodded his understanding.
"I'll stop by later," Remus said with a smile.
Sirius smiled back, feeling ridiculously happy.
"I think this is a good sign," Doctor Carlisle commented as he walked out the door. "He seems to have taken an interest in you."
Sirius tried to listen further, but the door closed, locking loudly, and he was on his own once more.
He read through the remaining magazines as he waited for Remus to return. It was frustrating to have nothing to do but wait and Sirius, who had never been fond of sitting still for long periods of time, found himself pacing the room frantically.
Finally, Remus returned, thankfully alone.
"I knew you'd come back," Sirius declared as he threw his arms around Remus's neck. "This dream world won't be nearly as bad now you're here with me."
It was a minute or two before he realised that Remus wasn't hugging him back, and that he was actively trying to prise him off him.
"What's the matter?" Sirius asked, confusion welling inside him.
"Sirius, you don't mind if I call you that, do you?" Sirius shook his head. "Do you want to get out of here?"
"Do you even need to ask?" Sirius replied with a snort of humourless laughter.
"Then listen to me," Remus said as he sat down on the only chair in the room and gestured for Sirius to take a seat on the bed. "If you want to get out of here, you have got to get better. You can't keep talking about magic and stuff like that."
"But it's real!" Sirius exclaimed. "You know it is. You're a wizard, just like me."
Remus gave him a look that he couldn't read. This was rare enough that it made Sirius feel slightly uncomfortable.
"This is the world that isn't real," Sirius finally muttered. "It's not real, it's just a dream and I'm going to wake up soon and be back at Hogwart's with you and the rest of the Marauders."
"Sirius," Remus said gently. "This is real. This world is real. You are really here and so am I. And you're not going to wake up and find yourself at Hogwart's, because you're awake now."
"It's not real," Sirius insisted. "I'll wake up and…"
Remus was shaking his head. "You aren't at Hogwart's," he said quietly. "You only go there when you're out of it, it's only in your mind."
"No!" Sirius shook his head wildly. "You're lying! Why are you doing this to me? Remus, please, stop saying these things."
Sirius was getting more and more frantic and he didn't notice the door opening and Doctor Carlisle entering.
"Looks like we're going to have to restrain him a little earlier than usual," he said sadly. "He seemed to be making a little progress too."
Sirius scrambled off the bed, choosing to try to duck past Remus rather than tackle Doctor Carlisle head on. He didn't reckon with Remus helping the doctor to keep him in the room.
His heart ached at the betrayal as Remus helped to strap him down and passed Doctor Carlisle the syringe.
Sirius leapt off his bed and ran from the dormitory.
The sound of the door slamming woke Remus and he looked across to the bathroom. "Padfoot?" he called out. "You okay in there?"
Sirius ignored him as he rushed into the last cubicle and locked the door. Remus had helped to keep him a prisoner. How could he do that?
A part of him knew that it was only a dream, but still the betrayal burned in his gut.
"Padfoot?" Remus called through the door again. "Sirius?"
"Go away!" Sirius called out.
"No chance," Remus replied. "What happened? Did you have another of those weird dreams?"
Sirius sat down on the floor and pulled his knees up to his chest. How could a dream seem so real? He could still feel Remus's hands on his arms, holding him down as they strapped him to the bed.
"Just go away!"
Sirius heard the sound of the outer door opening and Remus's footsteps on the stone floor. He could see Remus's shadow stretching under the cubicle door and knew that his hiding place, such as it was, had been discovered. He saw Remus's leg appear near the floor on the other side of the cubicle and could tell that his friend was settling in for the long haul.
"It's a Sunday," Remus reminded him. "I can wait it out all day."
"Please, just leave me alone."
"No. Not until you tell me what's wrong. Did you dream about me in that muggle place?"
Sirius was quiet for a long time, eventually replying with a sulky 'yes'.
"I take it you didn't like me there?"
Sirius shook his head, forgetting that Remus couldn't see him.
"You just have to remember that it's only a dream, that it's not real. This is real. This world is real. You are really here and so am I."
Sirius drew in a sharp breath. "That's exactly what he said. He said that that place was real and that this was the dream."
"You know which is real though," Remus told him quietly.
That was the problem, Sirius thought to himself. They both felt equally real to him, and he was starting to wonder which was the dream and which was the reality. He looked at his arm and tried to make out the mark from where the needle had been pushed into his skin. There was nothing there, even though he could still feel the pain.
"You're making really good progress," Remus told him with a smile. "I think that if you keep this up, you may be allowed to interact with some of the other guests before too long."
"Guests?" Sirius asked.
"Patients," Remus clarified. "We prefer to call them guests though, it sounds less…" He waved his hand as he struggled to find the words.
Sirius nodded his understanding to the unspoken words. "So, to get out of here, all I need to do is stop talking about magic and stuff?"
Doctor Carlisle looked up from where he was hovering nearby. "You don't just have to stop talking about it," he said quietly. "You have to stop believing that it's real. Don't tell us what you think we want to hear, it doesn't work like that."
"Do you think it might be worth considering reducing Sirius's medication?" Remus asked. "Considering the progress he's made."
Doctor Carlisle nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps a reduced dose might help."
"I don't remember taking any medication," Sirius interrupted. "Only that stuff you keep injecting into me."
"That's just the sedatives," Remus explained. "You've been given medication too."
"I have? When?"
Doctor Carlisle coughed loudly and Remus turned to look at him. There was a silent exchange between the two of them and Sirius realised that the contents of the syringes were not the only things he'd been given. He wondered what else had been forced into his body without his realising it.
He wanted to say something, to voice his protests at the violation he hadn't even known had happened, but he held his tongue once more. Remus was persuading the older man to reduce his medication and losing his temper wouldn't help his case.
"They think I can interact with the other patients now," Sirius said casually as they studied in the Hogwart's library.
"Well, that's good, isn't it?" Remus replied. "It'll add a bit of variety to your dreams at least. Wonder if Prongs and Wormtail are in there with you. They're both at least as crazy as you are."
Sirius smiled at the joke and turned back to his books. He was looking forward to his limited freedom from the tiny room that he had come to view as a form of prison cell.
The recreation room was crowded and noisy and Sirius loved it. "Hey, a chess set!" he exclaimed. "You want a game?"
Remus looked at his watch. "Okay, my shift finishes in a few minutes anyway."
"Great!" Sirius walked over to the board and set it up. "You can go first," he offered generously.
Remus took the seat opposite and moved a pawn in a standard opening move.
"Pawn to D4," he declared.
Remus was looking at him with disappointment and he immediately realised his mistake. He reached out and moved the piece manually.
Remus smiled at him and he felt himself blushing under his gaze. It was only later he wondered why Remus had looked disappointed with his attempt to try to move the piece with a verbal command. All he had really done was say what his move was going to be before making it, it was hardly worthy of such disappointment. He'd not talked about Chess before and the doctors had no way of knowing about wizard chess and how it worked. The only way that Remus could know about wizard chess was if he had seen it for himself.
"But why would he lie to me and help keep me here?" he asked himself later as he tried to sleep.
"I'm not keeping you anywhere," Remus said as they walked by the lake, taking a well-earned break from their studies.
"He knew about wizard chess, I know he did," Sirius insisted.
"Well, of course he would," Remus replied with a shake of his head. "It's a dream, it's all in your head. You know about wizard chess, therefore so does he."
Remus shook his head impatiently. "You've really got to go back and see Madam Pomfrey about this. It's been going on for months now."
"All she does is give me sleeping potions, potions that seem to result in longer visits to the nut house."
"Then go and speak to McGonagall or even Dumbledore. You can't keep going on like this. I'm…"
Sirius interrupted him with a frown. "Sick of hearing about it, I know."
"I wasn't going to say that."
"Sure you weren't."
"I wasn't! I was going to say that I'm worried about you."
Sirius looked suitably sheepish as he tugged Remus to his side and they continued their walk. "I just know that if I could get out of that place then it'd all be over. If I could just get out then I wouldn't be having those dreams any more."
"You're sure about that?"
"Then from what you've said, all you have to do is convince these doctors that you're all recovered and don't believe in wizards and magic and werewolves."
Sirius stopped walking and turned Remus round to face him. "How can I convince anyone I don't believe in you?" he whispered, pressing his forehead to Remus's and sighing deeply.
"It's not real," Sirius whispered. "If it was real then I'd be able to do magic, wouldn't I? The animagus transformation doesn't need a wand, and I still can't do it."
Doctor Carlisle nodded and made a note on his clipboard.
"What about werewolves?" Remus asked from his position against the opposite wall.
"They don't exist," Sirius replied, unable to look Remus in the eyes as he said it. He had a feeling that of all the people in the world, Remus was the one who would be able to tell if he was lying or not.
"And Hogwart's?" Doctor Carlisle asked.
"I imagined it, all of it."
Doctor Carlisle nodded again. "Very good. You've made excellent progress. I think we can move you to lower floor – lower security – tomorrow."
"You mean I can't go home yet?" Sirius asked.
"Not for a little while," Doctor Carlisle confirmed. "But soon. You've been here for quite a few years now, we need to get you prepared for moving back into society."
Sirius tried not to feel too disappointed as he nodded.
"I'll get a room prepared for you in the morning," Remus said with a smile.
"Thanks," Sirius replied quietly.
His new room was about the same size as his previous one, but there was far more furniture in it and a stack of magazines ready for his perusal.
"You can go to the recreation room whenever you want to," Remus explained. "There's no need to wait for me or one of the other doctors to escort you there."
Sirius nodded. "I like it when you're with me," he said quietly.
Remus smiled and shook his head. "It would be highly unprofessional of me to reply to that comment."
"Because you like me, too?" Sirius asked with a grin. "You do, admit it?"
"What makes you so sure?" Remus countered.
Sirius knew how he wanted to answer. That he knew Remus as well as he knew himself, that Remus would always be his Moony, and that he loved him. But he knew that such a comment would only result in his new freedoms being taken from him and then he'd be stuck here even longer.
For now it was enough to know that what he had said had brought a blush to Remus's cheeks.
"He likes me," Sirius said with a smile.
"Who likes you?" Remus asked as they snuggled beneath the covers.
"The Remus in my dream world."
The Remus beside him snorted. "Of course he likes you," he muttered.
Sirius chuckled. "I kind of like him, too."
Remus prodded him in the side. "Watch it," he warned. "I might start getting jealous."
Sirius laughed and planted a soft kiss on the tip of Remus's nose.
"I'm being released?" Sirius blinked a time or two, barely able to believe what he was hearing.
Doctor Carlisle nodded. "You'll be supervised and you'll have to come back here for weekly visits, which will hopefully become less frequent later on. And you'll have to keep taking your medication, of course. But I think you've recovered enough that you can be released under supervision as of next week."
"Supervision?" Sirius asked with a frown.
"Doctor Lupin will be supervising you."
Sirius felt relieved at that, he could certainly put up with being supervised if it was Remus doing the supervising.
"I'm being released next week," Sirius said with a grin at Remus. "It'll be over, I'll be free. No more weird dreams or anything."
Remus grinned back at him. "Just your regular weirdness then?"
"Git!" Sirius teased as he tackled the other boy to the ground and laughed with relief.
"Where are we going?" Sirius asked as Remus climbed into the muggle car beside him.
"Your new flat," Remus replied, giving the address to the driver.
Sirius fingered the soft leather of the seats and looked out of the window towards the unimposing building that he had spent so much time in.
"What about us?" he asked cautiously.
Remus shot a look at the driver, a man who worked for the hospital and was clearly listening avidly. "I'll leave you my number so that you can contact me in an emergency, and I'll come visit you every day for the first few weeks."
Sirius nodded mutely and looked back out of the window.
They travelled for nearly an hour before pulling up outside a large block of flats. "Which one is mine?" he asked as he stepped out of the car.
"I'll show you," Remus offered, turning to tell the driver that he'd make his own way back.
The car pulled away and Sirius felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"How do you feel?" Remus asked.
"Like I'm not being watched constantly for the first time in ages," Sirius replied with a shiver.
"Well, that's accurate at least," Remus said with a chuckle. "You do know that you were monitored twenty four hours a day inside there, don't you?"
Sirius shook his head. He should have known, but he hadn't realised.
"Come on, let's get out of the way of prying eyes," Remus suggested with a nod towards where several children were playing with a football in the parking lot.
Sirius followed him inside the block of flats and let Remus show him the way to the flat.
Remus unlocked the door and Sirius followed him inside. He frowned as he looked around the room.
"Something the matter?" Remus asked.
"It looks…odd," Sirius replied, unable to pinpoint exactly what it was that was strange about it; then he realised it looked lived in.
"Sirius?" Remus asked cautiously. "You'd better sit down. You're looking a bit pale."
Sirius nodded and sat on the sofa.
Remus went through to the kitchen and pulled out a couple of mugs. "Tea?" he asked.
Sirius nodded again.
"Oh, before I forget, where's the medicine that Doctor Carlisle gave you?"
Sirius frowned and rummaged through his pockets.
"Give them here," Remus ordered, holding out his hand.
Sirius shook his head to clear it. "It's okay, I can put them away."
"I'm not putting them away," Remus told him. "I'm throwing them down the sink."
"I'm getting rid of them. They're not helping you at all. If anything they're making you worse."
"But Doctor Carlisle said…"
"Doctor Carlisle told you whatever he was told to tell you by your bloody mother," Remus snapped. "Not that it's his fault, poor bloke. He didn't know what he was doing."
Sirius sat down with a thump. "I don't understand."
"Your mother was the one who had you put away, right after you finished school, and Doctor Carlisle was the poor muggle who kept you there."
"Sirius, stop being dense," Remus ordered impatiently. "It's just me here now. You've done a great job of pretending you don't believe in our world, but there's no need now I've got you out of there."
"I don't understand," Sirius whispered. "Everything's so confusing."
Remus sighed and sat down next to him on the sofa. "Your mother had you put away, she took you from me, from all of your friends. She had them keep you drugged so that you wouldn't know what was happening, but you kept fighting them and kept spilling out secrets about the wizarding world. Thankfully, they just thought you were crazy."
"You said I wasn't at Hogwart's," Sirius accused.
"And you're not, not any more," Remus pointed out. "You've not been there for a long time. You've been locked up in that place for over four years. It took that long just for me to find you."
"Why didn't you tell me this in there?"
"Because if I had, I'd have been joining you in the next room," Remus pointed out. "I've no idea how many of the muggles there are under the Imperius Curse, but I'm guessing most of the staff at least. I tried to get to you so many times, we all did, but they kept you well away from everyone."
"You couldn't have just apparated me out of there as soon as we met?"
"The first time I saw you, you were so out of it you didn't even know where you were. You didn't recognise me at all. I had no idea what they'd done to you. I had to find out before I tried to get you out of there. Not to mention, they have anti-apparation spells on the place."
"So, you decided to become a doctor after all? Just to get me out of there." Sirius smiled fondly at Remus, touched by his actions.
Remus snorted with laughter. "I've never considered becoming a doctor, it's far too dangerous for someone like me. I got one of Wormtail's dodgy mates to fake my qualifications and stuff and then got myself a job there."
"The drugs were stopping me doing magic, weren't they?" Sirius guessed.
Remus nodded. "It'll take a few days for the last of them to leave your system, but once they're gone you'll be able to do just what you did before. Your wand is at our place by the way."
"Our place?" Sirius asked. "I thought this was…"
Remus shook his head. "This is just a front in case anyone was following us. Our place is right where you left it. Do you remember?"
Sirius shook his head. "I remember Hogwart's but nothing after leaving. I don't even remember taking my NEWTs."
"You failed them all."
"I didn't!" Sirius's jaw dropped in horror before he realised that Remus was teasing him. "You git!"
Remus chuckled. "You aced them all, jammy sod. So, want to go back to our place?"
Sirius nodded hesitantly.
"Don't look too enthusiastic," Remus teased.
"I'm sorry. I'm just confused. I remember talking to you at school about my dreams and I was almost sure that that was real and this was the dream."
"Hogwart's was real," Remus told him quietly. "Though whatever you've been dreaming about Hogwart's recently was just in your mind. But this world is real too, just like I told you."
Sirius tried to reconcile the two worlds in his head.
"You just have to believe me," Remus said as he pulled him into his arms. "Do you trust me? Do you believe me?"
"Yes," Sirius whispered and a moment later he felt the long-forgotten, but still familiar sensation of apparating.
He clung to Remus, afraid to let go, only opening his eyes when Remus whispered a quiet 'welcome home' into his ear.
He looked around the flat that was immediately familiar and felt the memories rushing back to him. "What about my mother?" he asked. "She's going to be really mad that you've got me out of there."
"She's going to be a little busy explaining her actions to the Wizengamot," Remus told him with a wry smile. "They aren't very happy with her."
Sirius smiled and sat down on the sofa, pulling Remus alongside him. "You know something?" he whispered.
Remus looked at him questioningly.
"Even when I wasn't sure which world was real, I always believed in you."
A/N: For those who didn't guess, this was inspired by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Normal Again". Cracking episode and one of personal favourites.