Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter and any characters you might recognise here are solely the property of JKRowling and her minions. I am only borrowing them for entertainment.
Thanks to Bad Mum and remuslives23 for their talent, skills, and support!
Many apologies: So many of you have reviewed, and I haven't responded. Real life has caught up to me and it's been vicious! Thank you so much, though--and know that I do appreciate every kind word!
The days of the full moon were always difficult. He had recognised that his emotional and mental state directly affected how he felt on the days of his transformations. More often than not, Remus would have absolutely no energy and sleep through the day, unwilling to lift his head from the pillow unless necessary. Sometimes, when he was stressed or angry, he was full of relentless frenetic energy that poked and prodded him from within. It was if something was crawling beneath his skin, making him itch and burn and squirm until he wanted to chew his skin off with his human teeth.
This was one of the restless days. He paced through the flat several times, unable to sit down or relax. Finally, he decided to disregard Moody's instructions and go for a walk to the corner shop and get a few things. What harm could it do?
Halfway there, he was confronted by a man in a long wool coat who had been standing in front of a shop window, looking at the merchandise within. "Mr Lupin, I presume?"
Remus, reminded strongly of the day before, cocked his head to the side and asked, "Who wants to know?"
"So you are Lupin, then?"
There was a sudden burst of light and a popping noise and Remus turned to see a man with a camera—just as the shutter clicked again.
"What in the hell is this?" Remus demanded, holding his hand up to block the photographer's next shot.
"I'm Sterling Halliwell, from The Wizarding Gazette —"
Remus felt his breath freeze in his lungs.
"—I was hoping for a minute of your time—"
"I've got nothing to say," Remus said. He turned, intending to head back to his house. The camera flashed, and realisation set in: he couldn't go home or they'd find exactly where he lived—if they didn't know already.
"How did you feel when you first heard of the Potters' deaths, Mr Lupin?"
"Shit!" Remus whispered. He looked around wildly, unable to think quickly enough about where to go and how to get away.
"What was that, Mr Lupin?"
The world was closing tightly around him, and he couldn't breathe. Even worse, he could feel the wolf's presence pacing inside his mind, reacting to his feeling of entrapment. He had to escape before something terrible happened...
"Mr Lupin, what was your reaction to hearing that Sirius Black had killed Peter Pettigrew?"
The light flashed again, and Remus blinked.
"Did you know that Sirius Black was a Death Eater? After all, you were very good friends, they say."
The reporter was to his right, the cameraman to his left. The shops were right in front of him, and behind him—
Spells flying past them, Death Eaters slowly surrounding them.
"There!" Sirius screamed, pointing...
The words exploded in his head, as if James were still right beside him.
He almost always did what James told him to do, so he turned and darted out into the street. There was a blaring of horns, and his mind registered something large, blue, and metallic just as it descended upon him. He felt the impact along his left side and then there was just the sense of things tumbling over each other, like the world had been tipped over...
"Can he hear us?"
"I don't know. Remus?"
"Don't shake him, you git! You'll hurt him worse!"
"How can he do this, month after month? We have to do something to help—"
He opened his eyes, then immediately recoiled at the closeness of the round face above him. His movement made his head thump madly and pain shot up through his left arm. He groaned, recognising the feel of a broken bone. A glance at his arm showed him that it had been splinted crudely, but with skill.
"There you are then," the woman said. "Wondered when you'd be waking up. Took a nasty bump on the head, though."
Remus turned his head gently from one side to the other, taking in his surroundings. "Where am I?"
"St. Bart's. They brought you in —"
Remus didn't hear the details of how and when they'd brought him in. The only thing he could think of was that he was in a Muggle hospital and this was the day of the full moon.
"What time is it?" he asked, interrupting the woman's flow of words.
"What? Oh. It's just on one now."
Oh, gods. Moonrise is at what time? Can't think. Can't remember...
"The doctor will be here in a bit to set that bone in your arm —"
"When can I leave?" Remus asked, trying not to let his anxiety overwhelm him so that he couldn't think straight.
"Oh, you'll be here the night," the nurse said.
"I can't!" Remus gasped.
The nurse's eyebrows rose and then she smiled. "Date tonight?"
"You could say that," Remus muttered. Shit! What do I do now? How do I get out of here?
"Sorry, dearie. She's going to have to pick another night," the woman went on, smiling genially. "Now, I'm going to be right on the other side of the curtain there, getting some things together. If you need me, just give me a whistle. I'm Nurse Randall."
Remus waited until the nurse slid the blue curtain closed and then slowly looked around, trying to find something that might suggest a way out of his predicament. The wall behind him was plaster; there would be no way through that. The other three 'walls' were blue curtains on metal rods. To his left, he could hear a woman sobbing softly with pain. To his right, he could hear some kind of rhythmic, mechanical beeping.
If only his head would stop hurting. Where in the hell were healing potions when you needed them? He rubbed his temples worriedly with his right hand.
His arm was broken, said the nurse. Did he have any other broken bones? He carefully moved one leg and then the other. They seemed to be fine. Achy, stiff, and obviously bruised, but not broken. He could walk out of here if he were only given half the chance, then. Considering he'd been hit by a car, he reckoned he'd got off lightly.
He lifted the sheet to get a good look at himself, thinking it might be a good thing to see just where the bruises were. It was then that he discovered that he was nearly naked, dressed only in his underwear and a worn hospital gown.
Where are my clothes? Where are my jeans and my shoes and my jacket?
And then... an even more frightening realisation: Where's my wand?
The sudden thought made him gasp and he started to sit up. His chest was suddenly gripped in a vice-like grip of pain, squeezing all air from his lungs and he fell back onto the bed.
Oh, fuck. Can't move. Can't breathe. Can't think...
The panic was starting to overwhelm him, and he couldn't help taking quick, panting breaths, which did nothing to help the pounding of his heart and the thumping in his head.
"Don't move, Moony!"
"Shhh. I know it does. Don't try to talk!"
"Padfoot, how much time do we have?"
"She should be coming at any minute."
"Prongs, why —"
"Remus, stay still! There's so much fucking blood—"
"Shut up, you prat! Moony, listen, you've ripped yourself open here, and it's pretty bad. Stay calm, you hear? Pomfrey will be here soon, but you have to relax and take it easy, alright?"
Always the first step. Relax. Concentrate on taking one breath at a time.
Several minutes passed as Remus finally managed to bring the pain down to a manageable level. Maybe he could get the Muggles to give him some kind of pain medication. That would help with the problem of hurting too much to move and think.
"Nurse Randall?" Of course, the problem with broken ribs was that you couldn't take a deep enough breath to project your voice beyond a normal speaking tone—well, not comfortably. But the ends would justify the means, so Remus allowed himself to feel that stab of pain to get the nurse's attention.
The round face peeked in around the edge of the curtain. "Yes, Mr Lupin?"
"Do you have anything for the pain?"
"Um, I'll have to check with the doctor first. He'll be here any minute, though."
"What about my things? My jacket and my —" he stopped himself just in time, "—and the rest?"
"Oh. Couldn't do much about your shirt or your jacket. Had to cut them off your arm. But what's left of them and everything else is in a bag there beside your bed."
He had to twist awkwardly to get a glance over the edge of the bed without his broken ribs screaming at him, but he saw the bag and found himself hopeful that his wand was still in the pocket of his coat.
"Thanks," he muttered, hoping Nurse Randall would take it as the dismissal he meant it to be.
"No trouble," the woman said with another smile. She disappeared again.
Remus waited a moment and then whispered, "Accio wand."
It flew right through the side of the bag and into his waiting hand, and he heaved a sigh of relief. It was probably an unwise decision, because it brought the pain back, but he didn't feel nearly as panicked as he had before.
I could Apparate straight to my flat and get dressed there.
It would be difficult to do it with one hand, but it could be done.
I don't have any pain potions at home.
He'd used the last one the day before on his hangover.
Moody is supposed to find a place for me to transform.
Moody was going to have a bloody fit when he found out Remus had left his flat.
Before Remus could act, the curtain slid back and a silver-haired man in the traditional long, white coat of a Muggle doctor strolled in, his eyes firmly fixed on some papers on a clipboard in front of him. "Trying to wrestle with a lorry, were you?"
"I guess you could say that," Remus said, easing his wand into the folds of the blanket so the doctor couldn't see it. "Can I ask how long this is going to take?"
The doctor didn't even look at him. "It takes as long as it takes, Mr—Lupin. Is that right?"
"That's what the people at the accident scene told the ambulance drivers, but you never know." He lowered the clipboard and his brown eyes pinned Remus in place. "Why did you run out into the path of that lorry, Mr Lupin?"
Remus would have loved to have taken a deep, sustaining breath, but knew it would hurt too badly. "It's a long story."
"You weren't trying to deliberately hurt yourself, were you?"
It took Remus a moment to puzzle out what the man meant. "No! No, I wasn't trying to kill myself. I was trying to get away from someone—from a reporter, actually."
"A reporter?" The doctor's eyebrow rose. "Parasitic bastards. I've had a run-in or two with them myself. What did you do to warrant that dubious honour?"
"I know a murderer." Merlin. He had said it. Out loud. He had called Sirius a murderer. A sharp pain stabbed into his heart, but he didn't have time to consider it more fully. He had to get out of here, and the doctor was already continuing.
"Do you, now? Interesting. Maybe you can tell me about it later. Right now, though, we need to administer a nerve block so I can set that arm."
Remus let his fingers slide into their accustomed positions on his wand. "Look, doctor, I have an important commitment tonight. Is there any way I could leave right after you set this arm of mine? Or could I just have my own Heal--, uh, doctor look at it?"
The man looked horrified at the latter suggestion. "I can't let you just walk out of here with a broken arm like that! And I'm sure whatever the commitment is, your absence can be overlooked considering the circumstances."
Remus sighed. He'd tried. "I suppose..." Then with one fluid movement, he pulled the wand from its nest in the blanket and flicked it purposefully in the doctor's direction. "Obliviate."
The doctor's eyes went blank, and his jaw dropped slackly.
"Sorry," Remus apologised. "But you have patients to take care of, and I need to get out of here. Go on to your next patient. Tell the nurse to check on me. Then just forget I was ever here."
"Yes, yes," the physician replied vaguely. "Next patient. Tell the nurse..." Still mumbling under his breath, he pushed back through the curtain.
Remus carefully swivelled his legs around until they hung over the side of the bed. He spent a moment while the stabbing pain subsided convincing himself he could follow through with his hasty plan, and then a moment more telling himself he had no choice.
Nurse Randall pushed through the curtains. She looked unhappy and confused. Remus hoped it was only because she was finding the doctor's behaviour a bit unusual. "The doctor wanted me to come in here and check on you. Is there a problem, Mr Lupin?"
Remus didn't have the time to make up anything or hope she'd believe whatever lies he needed to tell. He raised his wand. "I am really sorry about this," he said and then whispered again, "Obliviate."
Remus Apparated straight into the bedroom of his flat. He threw the bag onto his bed and an anxious glance at the clock. He had a little over three hours until the sun would set—and the moon would rise. He rushed to check to see if Moody had been there and left a note, but couldn't find anything.
He was running out of time and he had to do something. Thanks to the Obliviate and repeated suggestions that the doctor was allowing him to leave, the nurse had helped him into his jeans and shoes, though his shirt was ruined beyond hope. Debating his next move, Remus grabbed a button-down shirt, shoving his good arm through the sleeve of it, holding his splinted arm to his chest and letting the other sleeve dangle free.
Snarling inwardly at himself for his stupidity and at the idiocy of reporters and Aurors, he quickly gathered up some clothes and a few toiletries and tossed them in the bag he'd brought from the hospital. He could only think of one place to go now.