Hmm. Update. Wahay.

It took me a while to get the inspiration for this chapter, sorry for the delay. I don't really have much to say, quick update while I have a breather from work for a few minutes.

Reviews let me know I'm not wasting my time, thank you!

Lessons in Love

Lesson the Fifth - Conflictions

Fifth year was when Sirius learned how truly wrong people were about Remus.

Not even the big one, either. Obviously, he'd known about that misconception for three years already. But the little things too.

The school's general population were in two minds about Remus.

Half seemed to think he was the innocent bystander. Always unsuspecting, dragged unknowingly into the mischief and the pranks, like he had no idea what was going on until the moment it happened.

Sirius suspected that the student body just wanted to feel like somebody else was as clueless as they were, and Remus played it out better. He could always make himself look genuinely surprised, a talent James had always envied.

The other half classified Remus as the secret mastermind. They thought he was the one that snuck them books from the restricted section of the Library - which was not only not true but, let's face it, was much easier with the invisibility cloak anyway - and sat in the dorm scheming away at all hours of the night.

Bizarrely, none of these people seemed to remember that Moony was the one shut up in the library, or dormitory, studying.

James, in true Prongsie fashion, took it as a compliment that their fellow students refused to believe Sirius and himself were brilliant enough to come up with the more complicated, showy Pranks without help.

Sirius wasn't too sure that's what it meant at all, but he knew better than to argue.

Of course, the Marauder's knew Remus. Or at least, they knew him as well as anybody did.

Because Remus was a very good chameleon. He could fit into almost any social circle at Hogwarts - bar the Slytherins, of course, and their idiotic purist ideals.

Remus, who would sit silently in the library, pouring over his books, and then head down to the Quidditch pitch to cheer unashamedly for the Gryffindors.

Remus, who would sit with them for hours some nights, planning a particularly technical scheme - as long as it wasn't dangerous - and help knock out the kinks, but he'd always remind them they had homework to do in the evenings.

Remus, who could patiently go through Peter's botched essay and slowly explain the errors, but who would sometimes sit with that Ravenclaw bloke - Swanson, was it? - because he wanted a longwinded, heated debate about the politics down in London.

Most of the time, Sirius thought of Remus as somebody who was very good at fitting in.

Obviously, with a condition like his in a world as prejudiced as it is, one of the vital life-skills is blending in. Going unnoticed.

It was Remus' camouflage, protection. His defence against the world that labelled him and then detested him for it.

It was necessary, for reason completely out of his control.

But, sometimes, when Sirius was feeling particularly stung, or abandoned, or bitter, he told himself Remus was just two-faced. Plain and simple.

He was hedging his bets, keeping as many options open as he could because he didn't want to commit to any one of them.

Sirius supposed it didn't really matter what other people thought of Remus anyway, be it him, or Swanson from Ravenclaw, or the tiny little firsties.

The truth was, at the moment, Remus was a bit of a bastard.

He could be perfectly and authoritative. He could be friendly and fun. He could be Marauderly and devious; Studious and punctual; Motherly and caring; Loving and devoted.

But he had a special, reserved kind of hatred for the people who crossed him and the people he cared about.

Unfortunately, Sirius now sat somewhere in the middle of those two categories.

He had been a complete idiot and nearly gotten one of his best friends killed, and another outed as not only werewolf but as, essentially, a murderer. Dumbledore would have been lynched. The marauder's could've been found out, arrested for being unregistered animagi.

He had been an idiot. Complete and utter fucking idiot.

And Moony hated him.

Sirius had tried to apologise the morning after. He'd practically grovelled, pleading for forgiveness. Remus had completely blanked him.

That had been harder to take than anger. He'd been prepared for anger, the bollocking of his life. He'd have welcomed a lecture, or a breakdown or anything.

All he got was a stony silence and deliberately evasive glances.

For weeks.

Endless days of whispers as he passes and dirty looks across classrooms.

He was friendless and, sensing a disadvantage, the Slytherins had taken to picking fights with him as often as possible. They seemed to think he was defenceless without Prongs at his side.

They were wrong, and Sirius took grim satisfaction in the fact that, while he sported a bust lip, Avery was still in the hospital wing with a cactus growing out of his nostrils.

For the most part, it had been like living back at Grimmauld Place months before he had to be - Alone and loathed and a target for people with more brawn than brain, but at the same time, something interesting, to be stared at and muttered about.

It was driving him mad.

And now he was sitting on the top of the least used tower in Hogwarts, nursing a fire whiskey, with blood dripping down his wrist.

Sirius stared down at the stark, shiny red line making it's way from the corner of a cut to the end of his finger, curling around the joint of his thumb and sticking in the creases of his palm.

It'd been an accident.

He'd tripped, not even drunk yet, on a dip in the stone. A bottle in each hand, and instinct had been to throw them out to break his fall.

Instead, he'd skinned all the fingers of his right hand and shattered the bottle in his left.

The glass scattered everywhere, and when he hit the ground, the shards had sliced the flesh of his forearm.

So he was staring at it. The three deep gashes, dripping blood like he didn't need it, and half a dozen more that were longer but shallower. A graze along the inside of his wrist, too, that stung with each movement.

And, bizarrely, it kind of helped.

He felt calmer, watching himself suffer. Lord knows he deserved it.

It occurred to him that he could end it.

Right there, and then. No fuss, nobody to care. One good hack with a sharp edge, and it wouldn't matter that Everyone hated him.

He grabbed the largest shard of glass, and wiped it on his trousers. He almost laughed at himself, being so finicky.

Sirius ran his fingers over the cool material before lifting it to his wrist, just above the still bleeding gashes. He pressed down, enough to feel the pressure but not to break the skin.

He sighed, and let the shard clatter to the floor again.

' Bollocks,' he muttered, running a hand over his face.

' I thought Black's were too stubborn to give up.'

Sirius started, not having heard anybody approach, and not expecting it to be Remus in any case.

He hadn't recovered enough to speak before Remus spoke up again.

' You could,' he said slowly, leaning over the edge of the tower and glancing down deliberately. ' Jump.'

' Remus… I - What?'

' Jump,' he repeated, voice emotionless. ' It's what any coward would do.'

And he slinked off, back into the castle.

Sirius was left speechless, a bubbling anger growing in his chest.

Nobody called Sirius Black a coward. He'd lasted this long with the prejudices of his familly, he could manage a poxy little werewolf sulk for a bit longer.

' Fuck,' he shouted, aiming a kick at the wall.

He cast a quick healing charm on his arm, and descended to the kitchens to drown himself in apple pie.

Later, when he'd calmed down, he'd love knowing how well Remus understood him.

He'd love it even more the morning after, when Moony sat next to him at breakfast, and asked him to pass the butter.