A/N: So, this has been a long time coming. I'm so very sorry for the delay! Writer's block can be a terrible thing!
Usually, Remus spent the night of the full moon raging against the confines of his imposed imprisonment. He'd tear into himself in his attempts to break free, ram repeatedly into the walls or bars holding him back from the freedom he so longed for. When he awoke the next morning, he wouldn't quite remember just how enraged he had been the night before. He would only have the significant wounds as a reminder that nothing in this world was well.
However, last night he hadn't had that problem. He had curled up in the corner and spent the night drifting in and out of sleep. His mind was plagued with all the things that had been bothering him this past week. Sirius' distance. Remus' own lack of comprehension when it came to most anything. The frustration that came with not knowing. The aching loneliness now that Sirius had curled into himself and left Remus on the outside, looking in.
And when the time had finally come for Remus to once again leave his lunar curse behind for another month, he found that the pain of his original transformation was nothing compared to this. True, his body had undergone the same exact changes at moon rise, except in reverse, but he was still sore from his first transformation. It was like rubbing salt into an already gaping, infectious wound. Not to mention his body was too weak to even try to fight and he was left in absolute agony. He hadn't torn at himself before, but this time he couldn't help it. For a few brief, terrifying moments, he was positive that his lungs had simply stopped working and so he clawed at his chest in an effort to get himself breathing once more. His face felt like it was caving in. His ribs felt like they were crumbling. His body felt like it was being simultaneously crushed and torn apart.
And so, finally, he raged again. He raged against the pain and the injustice, he raged against the fear that was consuming him as he adjusted to his true form.
Which is how Lily found him, 20 minutes later. She hadn't slept all night. Neither had James or Sirius. Whatever was going on between Remus and Sirius, it was obvious that it was not due to lack of caring.
Lily had watched, helplessly, as Sirius paced the entire length of the house several times over. He'd often murmur to himself, pulling at his hair as he sighed and repeated the process all over again. James had tried to talk to him, quite a few times, but was always shrugged off.
Sunrise found all three of them outside the room, anxious to get in and see how Remus had gotten along that night. Dumbledore had informed them they were to wait until he arrived though which was the only cause for their delay.
Sighing and kicking the molding running along the bottom of the wall, Sirius angrily said "Why the bloody hell do we have to wait for him? The moon's set. There's no reason for us to be standing about out here when Remus could be hurt in there."
"Dumbledore must have a good reason for it." Lily replied, "He's never led us astray before and he does have more experience with this sort of stuff."
Sirius scowled, muttering angrily under his breath before kicking the molding again.
"He should be here any second now." James said, voice low though Sirius still paid no mind. Lily pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to keep it together. She was just as worried as Sirius was, but she wasn't about to go trying to knock Headquarters down with a few well placed kicks.
As if sensing the unrest in the house, Dumbledore chose that moment to come sweeping up the stairs. Although they had been expecting him, all three were surprised by his sudden appearance. They hadn't heard the floo, nor had they registered the click of the front door opening and closing. Dumbledore had a knack for appearing out of thin air though. It only added to his air of mystery.
"Ah, good morning!" the old man said serenely, a smile on his withered lips as he approached them.
"Morning, Professor." Lily greeted in turn, managing a small smile as the older wizard swept past them.
Pressing his ear to the door and his palm flat against the wood, he hummed softly to himself for a moment before nodding curtly and waving his hand over the area.
And, just like that, the wards disappeared and the door creaked open.
Lily sighed in relief as Dumbledore stepped aside and allowed the three to rush in.
The sight that greeted them was sure to haunt them for a long time to come.
There, lying beside the bed that had been set up for him, was Remus. He looked like a broken china doll. His pale, porcelain skin was cracked and scarred, bleeding at the seams as his thin, rail like limbs pin wheeled around him at odd angles. His body was completely contorted, his chest was a patchwork of gashes that were still oozing blood. Four parallel lacerations ran from above his left brow to the middle of his cheek. And where there weren't gaping wounds, there were bruises of varying colors. He looked like something out of a file from an incident room. 'Body found, foul play suspected.'
Lily gasped, eyes going wide as she stood stock still, staring at the scene before her. Remus whimpered softly upon hearing the noise, his eyes squeezing shut tighter. His breath came out in a death rattle that seemed to shake them all as his chest rose and fell without rhythm.
Sirius felt his heart stop as soon as he saw Remus. All the color left his face, his hands beginning to shake as his stomach threatened to turn itself inside out. Suddenly, all the things that he had been worrying about ceased to make sense. What did his insecurities matter in the face of this? He knew Remus had gone through transformations before, under far worse conditions than this, and lived. But looking at him now, it was hard to believe that he was even alive. The thought scared him more than anything. This was Remus, after all. Kind, loving, beautiful Remus who absolutely lit up for him. Remus whose awkwardness and eccentricities only heightened his allure. How could the man lying twisted up in a bloody heap on the floor be one in the same? How could this Remus be his Remus?
As if watching from a dream, he saw Lily regain her senses and rush forward. James hovered on the edges of his vision, saying things now and again. He tried to hold Remus' hand, but the resulting yelp had the bespectacled man leaping away as if burned. Dumbledore himself hung around, watching over Lily as she went about patching the werewolf up. And Sirius remained frozen in that first moment, unable to move forward as the image of Remus in such distress burned itself permanently in his mind.
It seemed to take forever for Lily to finally finish up. She took painstakingly long to assure that she didn't miss anything at all. She carefully cleaned up his wounds, rubbing healing potions to help speed up the process. Remus whimpered the whole while as she apologized profusely. It was obvious Remus wasn't quite there, instead choosing to rely on his senses. It was hard to begrudge him that after all the pain he had just been through. Lily's hands smoothed carefully over his bruised and battered skin, murmuring softly to Remus and brushing the hair gently off his forehead.
James looked on, amazed at just how talented his wife was. Lily hadn't received any formal training when it came to Healing. Marlene McKinnon was her mentor. Marlene, a pureblood, was enrolled in the Healer program in St. Mungo's but, since she was also a member of the Resistance, she passed that knowledge along to other members who were interested in learning as well. Lily proved to be a natural.
Remus calmed a bit as she drew to an end, turning subconsciously towards her touch.
"S'alright Remus, you're alright. We're here." she said softly, pressing a kiss to his forehead as she finally put down her wand. James swallowed the lump in his throat, finally relaxing. He hadn't realized how tense he was until he had cause to relax.
Dumbledore smiled slightly, resting a hand on Lily's shoulder for a moment. "You did very well, Mrs. Potter. Very well."
Lily flushed slightly at the recognition, continuing to run her fingers through Remus' tawny hair.
Remus was out of the woods, but the amount of pain he would still suffer was apparent from the swaths of bandages wrapped around his frail figure. Sirius hadn't seen him so bare since that first night, but he found it hard to believe he could have missed all the scars that danced and arced across Remus' body. They'd been sharing a room for almost a month now. How had he missed it? Remus' entire body was a covered in lines and webs of scar tissue. There wasn't a single inch of him that didn't hold tribute to his monthly curse.
"We should move him to his room so he can rest." Dumbledore's warm voice cut across Sirius' thoughts, abruptly ending his examination of a particularly brutal looking scar that looked more like the result of an attempted disembowelment than anything else. Pulling his eyes away from the painful, jagged line ripped across Remus' abdomen, he took in the pristine bandages that Lily had so skillfully wrapped around his midsection, taking in the werewolf's pained, scarred face for a moment before turning to the older wizard.
"Mr. Black, if you wouldn't mind?"
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Sirius nodded dumbly, taking a step forward as Lily put her supplies away to make room for Sirius to collect Remus. Carefully kneeling beside Remus' prostrate form, he watched as the werewolf's body subtly shifted closer to him. Watched his small, pale, bandaged hand reach out until it brushed his shoe which had the man sighing. A lump welled up in Sirius' throat as he mimicked Lily's previous actions and carded a hand through Remus' tawny hair. For the first time since their arrival on the horrific scene, Remus' eyes fluttered open and locked with Sirius' own.
Despite the pain he was in, he managed a small, crooked smile. "Sirius." he mumbled, his hand fumbling to grab onto the other mans. "Don't." he continued, voice thick and heavy. Sirius felt his heart stop, moving to pull his hand away as pain ripped through him. Had his distance pushed Remus too far? Had he destroyed everything before it had even properly begun? Then he heard Remus finish. "Don't go." he took in a halting breath, wincing at the pain it caused. "Stay, please. M'sorry- sorry- Dunno- do something? Did I? Sorry. Stay." he managed to mumble out, turning to press a kiss to the center of Sirius' palm that had the brunette sucking in a sharp breath as he stared in awe at the man before him.
"Okay." Sirius murmured in reply, not bothering to correct him in the state he was in. "It's okay. I'm staying, Remus. I'm staying." he said, leaning down and adjusting himself to get a grip on Remus who let out a whimper in response. "I know, I know. I'm sorry. I've got to move you, hold on." he said softly. Remus' hands curled in Sirius' robes, his face turning to press into his neck and breathe in his unique scent. The two seemed to have forgotten their audience in the short span of time they had conversed, but when Sirius finally rose with the werewolf in his arms Lily's eyes were suspiciously wet and James seemed especially happy despite the situation. Even Dumbledore had a knowing look as he stepped aside to let Sirius pass.
As soon as he was out of the room, the older wizard began to speak lowly to Lily about proper caretaking and how to contact him in case of an emergency. It only registered as a buzz in the back of Sirius' mind though as he moved through the halls to their room. Remus rested fitfully in his arms, his mouth opening and closing in pain against the skin of his neck every time Sirius accidentally jostled him. He was only too happy when they finally arrived and Sirius flicked his wand to pull down the covers of their bed before moving to deposit Remus beneath them.
Much like their first night together though, Remus refused to let go.
His bright amber eyes opened to peer up at Sirius as he tangled a hand in the other man's long, dark locks. "Stay, Sirius. Please. Need you. Need you." he whispered somewhat desperately, voice raw with pain and Sirius felt his heart simultaneously breaking and lodging itself in his throat. Nodding dumbly once more, he toed his shoes off before climbing into bed with Remus still clinging to his front.
As soon as he was laying, Remus molded his body to fit Sirius' own, hissing and wincing all the while, the pressure proving to be too much on his injuries.
"I'm not going anywhere Remus, I promise. It's okay." he murmured, running his fingers through the man's hair whilst his other hand traced softly down his arm. Remus said nothing though as he curled even closer to Sirius and squeezed his eyes shut. He was asleep within moments.
Sirius felt the heavy weight of guilt settle on top of him. His distance had been uncalled for in a sense, but at the same time he had only been looking out for Remus. Protecting him. Trying not to take advantage of him. None of that mattered now though. Not when Sirius' mind was filled with what if's and worst case scenarios and never getting to kiss Remus again. The though was devastating.
Looking down at the sleeping werewolf, Sirius found himself tracing over the four new scars adorning Remus' face. He watched as the other man's eyelashes fluttered over his pale cheek. Watched his lips move delicately in his sleep, parting ever so slightly as he breathed. Remus Lupin, he was devastating.
Sirius hadn't expected to fall asleep. He'd expected to stay up, keep guard. True, he hadn't slept the night before, consumed as he was with worry, but he expected to keep a vigil instead. If Remus needed something, anything, he would be awake. He would stay awake. However, soon after Remus drifted off and Sirius began his examination of the other man, he ended up following suit.
Remus woke up much later.
The strong afternoon sunlight was kept at bay by their thick blinds for the most part, though a few bright shafts illuminated their room. It cast a somewhat unearthly glow on their surroundings as Remus came to and tried to figure out where he was and what had happened. His brain felt sluggish and dull, a result of both the wolfsbane potion and the transformation.
He remembered the room, the pain, his screams. Business as usual then, the only twist was that he could remember just how intense it was. Ultraviolet pain. Just brilliant. Resisting the urge to sigh as he knew it would only serve to reawaken his wounds, he turned his head into his pillow only to discover that it was exceptionally warm and solid. Taking another moment to try to piece it all together, his eyes widened as pieces of this morning came rushing back to him and he turned his eyes up to see Sirius.
Sirius was sound asleep. His long dark lashes brushing his pale, flawless skin like some obscenely beautiful china doll. Licking his lips, Remus adjusted himself ever so slightly to get a better look even though it hurt, realizing at the same time that the man had an arm wrapped securely around the werewolf, holding him tightly to his side. The thought had Remus smiling as his eyes danced over the others features.
After suffering through the distance that had been between them these last few days, Remus wasn't sure what to make of their renewed closeness. Everything with Sirius seemed to be up and down. One second they were all over each other and the next they were worlds apart.
Breathing out through his nose, he winced as his ribs protested. A part of him longed to go inspect the damage he had inflicted upon himself the previous night in the bathroom mirror, but he knew he might wake Sirius and he didn't want to loose such a unique opportunity just yet. When his lips pulled up even higher in a smile though, he felt his face protest and his stomach sank.
His face. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Remus brought a shaky hand up to touch the left side of his face and hissed when he came into contact with four parallel claw marks. His eyes immediately welled up with tears, blurring the image of Sirius sleeping peacefully.
Having been a werewolf for most of his life, Remus knew that whatever and wherever your claws tore during the full moon would scar. Over the years, his body had become a battleground, his limbs and torso an ever evolving canvas, and he was okay with that. True, his face had one or two small scars from his years of torment, but for the most part he could cover them. He could hide if he needed to. Him being a werewolf wasn't apparent. It wasn't staring him in the face every second of every day. This though.. This would make it impossible.
The tears in his eyes welled over and Remus stifled a sob as he returned to Sirius side and tried to stop crying. He didn't want to wake the other man up, especially not to this, but he couldn't help the feeling of overwhelming despair that threatened to consume him. It seemed like it was just one thing after another. The universe just wanted him to be as strange as humanly possibly and it was certainly succeeding.
Eventually it became too much. He realized he would wake Sirius up if he didn't leave the bed and so, as delicately as he could, he gently extracted himself from the other man, hissing and wincing and probably opening a few cuts in the process. Peeling Sirius' old, worn zip up from off the back of their desk chair, he gently shrugged it on, wincing through the pain as he did so and fled the room. He needed to find Lily. He needed someone to make sense of all the thoughts that were spinning through his head because it wasn't just the scars on his face. Those were just the catalyst. It was everything. None of it made sense and he was drowning in it. He needed Lily. Needed her to make sense of it.
Sirius was his best friend. He was. But Remus was also in love with him, or he was fairly certain he was in love with him. Which meant that he wasn't comfortable sobbing to him about this. For that he needed Lily and he found her in the sitting room.
Lily had taken to curling up with James by the fire and when Remus entered, both Potters perked up. Upon seeing Remus' tear streaked face though, their demeanor changed.
"What's Sirius done now?" James demanded, jumping to his feet. Remus watched in mild alarm and amusement as the man's chest puffed out and his chin raised ever so slightly as he prepared to head off to ..well ..Remus wasn't sure what he planned to do.
"N-Nothing." Remus managed, breath still shaky from his crying as his eyes found Lily. "Talk, can we talk?" he asked and Lily nodded, immediately jumping from her seat. James' brow furrowed.
"Everything alright?" he asked, and Remus nodded. He was still weak and achy from the transformation, but Remus needed Lily. Needed her advice and comfort. Needed her to hold his hand or just hold him and run her fingers through his hair and tell him it would be alright.
"I need Lily." was all he could offer James and if it had been anyone else, James' face would have darkened. It wasn't just anyone though. It was Remus. While it was true that James hadn't trusted Remus at first, he had never suspected he would try to make a move on Lily and despite how his statement could have been taken that was still true.
Besides, Lily was positively beaming. Having never truly had a friend like James had, she had taken to Remus like a fish to the water. It was clear the two were close and this was only cementing it.
"C'mon, James will make us a nice cuppa and take it to us in our room, yeah?" Lily said, taking Remus' hand and looking at her husband for confirmation. James nodded without complaint, probably because he was happy to see Remus up and, you know, breathing after how terrible he looked this morning.
Grinning at her husband, Lily leaned forward to press a kiss to his cheek before her and Remus disappeared up the stairs and into the room Lily and James had spent the last few nights in.
As soon as the door was closed and Lily asked Remus what was wrong though, he fell apart. Remus had managed to stop crying to go find Lily. He had held it together in front of James, but here and now, he couldn't. Not with Lily's soft inquiring voice and delicate hands brushing through his hair, not with her saying, "sh, sh, it's okay, I've got you."
Remus sobbed into her sweater, letting her caress the few bits of unbroken, unbruised skin he had left. When he had finally cried it all out, he pulled back ever so slightly and Lily was already pressing a tissue into his hand.
She didn't ask Remus again. She just sat, comforting him until he finally spoke.
"It's going to scar." he whispered softly. The fingers in his hair paused momentarily. "It always scars and that's okay but I've never- I've never- It's on my face and now, now I can't hide." Remus whispered desperately, his eyes filling up with tears as Lily gave him a delicate squeeze.
When she didn't say anything, he continued. "I could always hide in plain sight. No one would know if they looked, what I was, but now- now- now they- they will." Remus choked out. "Everything about me is wrong Lily" he insisted even when she made a noise of disagreement, "Everything is wrong. It's not just that I'm a werewolf, it's that I'm weird. I'm so weird, Lily. I get everything wrong because I don't understand. I don't get it because I wasn't a part of the world. I'm still not a part of the world. All my memories are from my childhood and after that it's all pain and blood and darkness and I'm happy now, so happy but even that's wrong because even that can't be normal. I can't even be normal. Because you, you Lily, you're so wonderful and perfect and I know you're married but if I were a proper man, a real man, I would feel for you what I feel for Sirius but I don't" Remus was so caught up in finally coming clean that he didn't notice Lily freeze, "I don't. I feel for Sirius the way James feels for you. I know I do. And it's not normal, is it? Every book I read it's men and women and all the people I see are men and women. Am I wrong? Is it wrong? I don't- I can't- I'm just- I'm an aberration. I don't belong, I don't-" Remus said, starting to get choked up again.
Before he could work himself up again though, Lily shushed him and pressed a kiss to his temple. "You, Remus John Lupin, are not wrong." she said firmly. "And you are a real man, a handsome, wonderful, clever man. You're perfect just the way you are." she insisted softly, tilting his head to look at her. Remus started back at her through watery eyes. Lily offered him a small smile, "You think I'm perfect?" she offered softly, and Remus nodded almost immediately which had her smiling. "But some people would disagree, they'd tell you that I've got dirty blood. That my heritage excludes my eligibility from society. That I can't be intelligent or talented because I'm not pure, but they're wrong, aren't they?" Lily didn't wait for an answer as she continued. "Just like people would say the same about werewolves. They'd say you have no place, that you're nothing but a beast, but you, Remus Lupin, you're magnificent. Incandescent. You're kind and clever and wonderful. You're not weird, Remus. You're perfect. Absolutely perfect. There is nothing wrong with you. Don't you dare ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I won't lie to you. I won't tell you that the world is open to people like you or me. I'm not going to say that muggleborns and werewolves and gay men all have a place in our society. They don't. That doesn't make it right though. Who you are is who you're supposed to be and don't you ever suppress it or change it. Besides, I'll tell you a secret- I think Sirius feels the same way about you."
By the time Lily was finished, Remus felt another lump welling up in his throat as he looked at the red head who was still running her delicate fingers through his hair. Her smile was warm and bright as she leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his forehead. Remus' eyes drifted shut in response and he let out a sigh of relief. It was only when Lily gently cupped his scarred cheek his her hand that he blinked them open again. Scanning her face for any sign of falsehoods, Remus took a few steadying breaths.
"I kissed him."
Lily's eyes went wide then, a bright grin splitting her face in two which had Remus smiling as well.
"You what? When?" Lily demanded, nearly bouncing on the bed in her excitement, "How can you even doubt that he feels the same if he- wait, did he kiss you back?"
"Uh, well, not really? But he didn't run away." Remus offered in response.
Lily nodded, her face taking on the expression of a mathematician hell bent on completing a very complex set of proofs. "Okay, good, yes and when was this?"
"The night I first spoke."
"And you're telling me now! Is that why you've been acting funny? Have you even discussed it?" Lily asked excitedly as Remus shook his head and wondered how the conversation could have taken such a turn.
Lily opened her mouth to say more before Remus cut across.
"You really don't think I'm wrong?" Remus asked gently, looking down at his lap. "Everything about me is different. I'm a male werewolf who is attracted to other males, who doesn't understand normal social cues, who finds it easier to interact with books than people, who's never been formally educated, who's.."
Before he could continue, Lily reached out and wrapped her fingers around his wrist. "You're wonderful and spectacular and there's absolutely nothing wrong with you. We're fighting for people like you, Remus. People who have been told their whole lives that their wrong. That what they feel and think is wrong. But they're not wrong. And you're not wrong Remus. You're just right. And you kissed Sirius Bloody Black." Lily said with a wide grin and Remus, feeling so much better, grinned back at Lily.
"You're my best friend, Lily." he said suddenly, voicing it awkwardly and bringing the conversation to a strange halt. Lily didn't seem to mind though. In fact, her face brightened even more. Her eyes grew a little wet and she beamed at Remus.
"You're my best friend too, Remus. You're mine too."
By the time James finally arrived with the tea, he found Lily and Remus sprawled across the bed. Remus' head was resting in Lily's lap as she played with his tawny hair and the two of them spoke in riddles about something or another that made absolutely no sense to him.
"Merlin's baggy pants mate, she's turned you into a bloody bird. She's roped you into gossip. You come downstairs all somber and serious and now look at the two of you!" James exclaimed.
Remus had merely turned his head to grin at the other man and Lily hadn't said anything, though James was curious as to why she looked like the cat who got the cream.
Two cups of tea later and a good deal of bandaging in which Lily somehow managed to cover the scars on Remus' face for the time being, Remus started to feel better. Eventually though, James started to get antsy and hang off Lily and Remus' body started to wilt. This led to the Potters leaving and Remus creeping back into his and Sirius' room.
Much to his surprise, the other man was still asleep. Sirius did keep some rather strange sleeping habits. The other man either slept really lightly or really deeply. Apparently, today was the latter.
Creeping over to the bed, Remus slid under the covers once more. Lifting Sirius' arm, he curled up to the other mans side and grinned when he felt his body automatically adjust to accommodate him.
"Remus?" Sirius asked, voice groggy as he blinked his eyes open and looked down at the werewolf. "You okay? Where'd you go?" he asked, taking in his appearance. "What time s'it?"
Remus looked up at him then, smiling softly. "M'fine." he murmured in response, "Sore, but fine."
Sirius' eyes fluttered shut once more, taking a few more even breaths before opening again. Sore, sore; the moon- fuck, that was right. "Shit, Moony, right, sore, how are you? I'm not- are you?" he asked, panicked. His body went rigid as Remus smiled and shook his head.
"S'fine, just don't squeeze and we're good." the werewolf replied. "I'm quite comfortable, though I don't think I'll be moving much these next few days."
Sirius paused, trying to gauge whether or not Remus was telling the truth before nodding. Hesitating then, he asked "Is it always- I mean- is it always that bad?"
Remus didn't respond right away because the truth of the matter was that sometimes ..sometimes it was worse. Much worse. Sometimes he woke up and he felt like he was going to die. Even though he was in pain now, he had never felt as good as he did at the moment. Despite how sore he was, despite the aches and pains radiating through his body, he had never felt so whole after a full moon. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Remus licked his lips and thought for a moment before responding. "It's- it's worse sometimes." he answered softly.
Sirius remained silent, his arm tightening ever so slightly in response.
"Well." he said after a moment, clearing his throat before continuing, "Well, Moony, from now on, you'll always have me."
And Remus couldn't help but smile.