A/N For two people who I love and miss. Thinking of you both, with love.
A huge thank you to LoveHGSS for the beta! You're an angel.
The young woman looked peaceful as she slept, her face illuminated by the sliver of moonlight revealed by the gap in her curtains. Her brown hair was spread across her pillow as she slept, pale blue sheets pulled around her, she was a picture of serenity, the silver light from the window lending her an ethereal glow. A cloud drifted across the moon, blocking the light momentarily. When the illumination returned, her peaceful slumber had ended. A slight frown creased her brow, and she began to move restlessly. The movements increased, a whimper torn from her parted lips.
As she fell deeper into whatever haunted her sleep, the whimpers became cries, her body thrashing from side to side, tears rolling down her cheeks as she became entangled in the sheets. Her hands reached outwards and she gasped, and then screamed. A single, broken word was torn from her lips as she cried out in denial of whatever nightmare tormented her, holding her within its grasp The tears on her face glittered like diamonds as the moon continued to shine, no longer showing a scene of beauty, but adding a sinister layer to the room where she lay, haunted and hurting.
Sirius sat stone-still at the table in the kitchen, only the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he breathed and the occasional lift of his hand as he sipped his whiskey showing him to be more than a statue. His shoulders were tense and he gazed into nothing, his focus not on the room he was sat in but the noises coming from the basement underneath him. He listened to the sound of steps going round and round the sparse room below, the monotony of the pacing only broken by the occasional howl from the wolf. He hated how helpless he felt, trapped above his oldest friend. They'd shared more moons than either could count, both at Hogwarts and later on, but Remus was testing a new version of the Wolfsbane potion and had been instructed to be alone. With Harry away on Auror training and Hermione sleeping, Sirius kept his vigil alone, with only Ogden's finest for company.
He jumped from his seat as a scream tore through the stillness of the old house. He ran up the stairs two at a time and pushed open the door of the only other current occupant of the building. He burst through the doorway, expecting death eaters or giant spiders, or at least a ghost. So it was with some surprise that the moonlight only showed the owner of the room, her pale blue bedding tangled around her twitching limbs, tears wet on her cheeks and soft whimpers still issuing from her pink lips.
Without a second thought, he strode to the bed and sat next to her, gathering her slight form to his chest, murmuring gently to her as she calmed and settled in his embrace. He brushed her curls back from her sweat-damped skin and used the edge of his shirt to dry the tears from her face. She sighed softly and rested, her sleep calming and deepening. Sirius shifted the woman in his arms and leant back against the headboard, unwilling to disturb her now that she rested peacefully.
Two floors below, the wolf howled as he heard the woman scream. In this form, with this potion, he was wolf and man; he could hear her cries and smell her tears, and he knew that she meant a lot to him. A few minutes later he heard her settle, the scent of the man, his brother in so many ways, mingling with hers. Satisfied, the wolf twisted on the spot and settled on the floor. Setting his great head on his paws, he rested.
The wolf slept.
The woman slept.
The man stared at the thin slice of night sky that was visible through the gap in the curtains, his body weary but his mind too busy for sleep.
Sirius looked at the woman in his arms, wondering what could have caused her such pain that she would hurt so much, even in her sleep. He sighed sadly, knowing the options were vast. She was so young to have seen such horrors, to have endured the battles she had fought. He knew she had nearly died on the ill-fated night in the Department of Mysteries, that she had battled Death Eaters the night Dumbledore died and had suffered at the hands of his now dead cousin. He held Hermione close as he thought of Bellatrix, wishing it could've been him who killed her. Difficult, seeing as how only her death had released him from the veil but still. Hermione shifted in her sleep, causing Sirius to murmur reassurances once more.
The depth of pain he felt witnessing her nightmares caught him by suprise. They all had nightmares, he knew that. His own were of Azkaban, of Lily and James, of the empty void of the Veil. Remus dreamt of Tonks, her lifeless body by his side as he battled, and of Andromeda's face when she was given the news. Harry, Ron, the Weasleys. All of them feared the arms of sleep, to a greater or lesser extent. So why was he lying, awake and alert, simply to keep the terrors of the night from one young woman?
He knew the answer, had known for months now, since a red-eyed girl had asked if she could move in. If asked, he couldn't have said how long he had loved her, just that he had never wanted to hurt anyone as much as the person who had made her cry. He had been ready to rip Ron's head off when she said they had broken up, assuming it was the reason for her tears and her arrival on his doorstep. He had been surprised and saddened to learn that he was wrong. Ron had taken the end of their relationship well, seeming to be on the same page as Hermione for the first time ever. Molly, on the other hand, had been furious, calling Hermione every name under the sun and telling both Hermione and Ron to leave. Ron had headed to Bill and Fleur, Hermione had come to him. Well, him and Remus. And Teddy.
Over the months that followed he had fallen deeper in love with her, to the point he would do anything for her. She was beautiful and warm, sweet and kind. Oh, she was bossy and pedantic and fussy, but she had brought life to the house - to Remus and himself. She was the female figure that Teddy had been missing and the light Sirius needed. So he would spend a thousand nights keeping her nightmares at bay, if only to repay what she had done, mostly unknowingly, for him.
She shifted once more in her sleep, a word, a name, his name, drifting from her lips. He almost thought he dreamt it, until it repeated. He rested his head back and closed his eyes, content in that moment, a perfect moment in time.
The wolf slept.
The woman slept.
The man slept.
Remus climbed the stairs, not as exhausted as usual, but ready for a human sleep all the same. He passed Hermione's room, the door ajar. He smiled at the scene within, Sirius's arms tight around Hermione, her head on his broad chest. A flick of his wand closed the gap in the curtains; a second pulled the sheets over them. He closed the door behind him and left them to their dreams.