"Never chase a lie. Let it alone, and it will run itself to death"

-Lyman Beecher

During the day, Remus Lupin carries on as if nothing has happened.

He gets up in the morning. He eats breakfast. He goes out, and browses through the same shops he's been browsing through since he moved to the area two years ago. On the rare occasion he has money in his pocket, he gets a train and visits Diagon Alley. If the weather is bad, he stays at home and reads. It is a simple and easy life.

At night-time, however, Remus finds it impossible to forget.

The bed seems too big for one. Remus spends hours tossing and turning, and reaching out for a body that is no longer there. In the morning, no matter how many times he washes them, the sheets still seem to smell of the blend of cigarettes and sandalwood and firewhiskey that is Sirius.

Remus knows now – although it's already too late – that Sirius is a traitor and a murderer, and part of Remus thinks that he deserves to rot in Azkaban for the rest of his life for what he has done. A bigger part of Remus thinks that he wishes that Sirius hadn't betrayed Lily and James in the first place, so that he could be here with Remus, where he belongs, and so that Remus wouldn't always be so damn lonely.

Remus thinks that his whole life was built around a lie. When the sun goes down, Remus can't pretend to the world that it's okay anymore, and so he spends hours wondering how much of his old life was true, and how much was part of the elaborate web Sirius was spinning around them all. Was it real when Sirius said that Remus made the best bacon sandwiches ever, or when Sirius borrowed Remus' favourite book and returned it with tears in his eyes, saying it was the best book he'd ever read? Was it real when Sirius wound a scarf around Remus' neck and told him to be careful in the cold, or when Sirius caught Remus' hand in his own when they walked down the street? What about when they had lay in bed side-by-side and Sirius's hands were all over Remus' body, making him weak at the knees, and Sirius was whispering is Remus' ear, his breath deliciously hot and humid against the delicate skin?

Month after month wilts away and Remus knows he needs to get a grip. He is only twenty-two years old. He has the rest of his life ahead of him.

He sorts through his things, throwing away anything that isn't directly essential to everyday life. He buys a new, single bed. On the first night in it, Remus feels awkward and cramped, and strangely like a child again. It is perfect for being alone; Remus tells himself to get used to it.

He decides to sell his flat. He hands the keys over to the new owners, a young, fresh-faced couple who beam at each other in perfect bliss. Remus wonders how long it will last.

Remus remembers when Sirius and he had first bought the flat. Sirius' eyes had sparkled, and he'd opened a bottle of champagne.

"To us!" he'd toasted, "To Moony and Padfoot! And God help us both!" and had thrown his head back and laughed his barking laugh.

The new flat is practically bare, and Remus thinks he likes it that way. It is easier.

Falling into the routine of a new life is painfully easy. Days pass when Remus doesn't think of Lily or James or Harry or Peter or Sirius. He feels guilty when he realises this, but he knows there is nothing he can do about it. The vestiges of his old life are washing away, and it is a blessing and a curse.

Years pass, and when Sirius turns up at Remus' front door, with hollow eyes that are filled with desperation, Remus feels like he is choking. His old life was all but gone, but when Sirius tells him, "Dumbledore says I've got to stay here," Remus can only nod, and go upstairs to make Sirius up somewhere to sleep. The single bed seems insufficiently small now.

Remus tries to shake the thought out of his head – there are more pressing matters at hand, Voldemort is back, and all Remus can think of is the fact that Sirius is standing in his kitchen.

Remus goes back downstairs, and when Sirius looks up at him, Remus gets the oddest sensation in his stomach. Sirius murmurs, "Moony," quietly, and steps towards him.

When Sirius' lips meet his own, Remus feels thirteen years younger, still enamoured with crazy, wonderful Sirius Black. Time could have stood still, and Remus doubts he would have noticed. When Sirius breaks away, and looks Remus in the eye, suddenly the truth is very apparent. Remus realises that it wasn't his old life that was a lie, after all.