I sat on my bed in the dormitory, tears pouring out of my eyes and cascading down my cheeks. I didn't want anyone to see me in such a state, least of all you, so I closed the curtains, knowing that everyone was at dinner. It might have been slightly obvious, the way I jumped to my feet and left the Great Hall in such a rush but hopefully you'd finish pudding first and then check all the usual places before coming upstairs.
When James gets upset, he sulks for a while then expects our undivided attention while we try to work out the problem or console him. Peter cries openly in front of us and it's usually me who puts an arm around his shoulders as James tried to work out what's wrong.
You've never dealt with upset very well. Awkward situations you can laugh off, you assure us that we're not inadequate if that's the problem and with anger, you're the best person to calm someone down. Especially James. I've never got angry much but I have been depressed and unhappy from time to time. No one's ever seen me crying because I've never liked doing that in front of people. If I've been oddly quiet, even more so than usual, you've generally been the one to pick up on my despondency and cheer me up with an amusing prank or joke. When I've needed to cry however, I made sure that I was alone. Today, I suspected that it might be one of those days and once dinner was becoming too much for me to handle, I made my way rapidly upstairs.
I must have forgotten the Silencing Charm in my haste.
I heard the dormitory door open and your voice sounded. Damn it. Why did you have to be such a good friend? Couldn't you have waited until after dinner to start searching the castle for me?
"Moony? You in here?" I almost laughed to myself. You could see the hangings drawn around my bed and I never left them like that. I hated leaving the curtains as if I'd just casually jumped out of bed each morning. It was almost as bad as not making the bed itself. I didn't say anything, wondering if you'd go away if you thought I really wanted to be alone.
"Remus?" You tried again, as if not using my nickname alerted me to your recognition of the severity of the situation. Again, I didn't respond. I didn't want you to see me like this, especially when there wasn't anything that you could say to make me feel better. There were a few glorious moments of silence in which I imagined that you might have gone to wait downstairs and I let out a tiny sniff, alongside a few drops which had been building up in my eyes. In moments like these, I honestly couldn't control my tear ducts, frustrating as that was.
A scuffling noise outside the curtains interrupted my resumed sobs. I hastily rubbed at my eyes, trying to rid them of the tell-tale red hues and I grabbed a book from my bedside table, to appear as though I'd been reading it all the time. You were always so persistent, I realised. I'd been stupid to think that you'd ever leave me to suffer in silence if you could help it.
The curtains opened slightly but at eye-level, I didn't see your face like I'd been expecting. Suddenly I wondered if I'd left the window open and it was merely the wind disrupting my bad mood. I returned the book to the table and just as I leant over to check the window, I jumped back at the sight of the huge black dog gazing up at me from the floor.
Padfoot put his front paws on the edge of the bed and your grey eyes gazed at me anxiously out of the canine's face. I sighed and resigning myself to the fact that I was not going to be left alone, I shifted on the bed to make room for Padfoot. He jumped up straight away and settled next to me, still watching me with concern. I drew the curtains around the bed again and suddenly, without warning, the tears began spilling out of my eyes. Embarrassed, I tried to brush them away and Padfoot whined sadly, resting his heavy head on my arm. I reached out to lay a hand on his head, gripping at a fistful of fur as the tears shook my entire body. In a very human gesture, he laid his head against my chest and blinked up at me. The sight of your eyes was slightly unnerving and so I hugged Padfoot's warm neck and cried into the fur there. Without consciously differentiating between the two of you, I found Padfoot's presence oddly comforting whereas I would have felt extremely awkward crying so openly in front of you.
"I'm sorry," I muttered, after about five minutes had passed and my arms were still wrapped around Padfoot's neck. He snorted, as if to dismiss the necessity of an apology. "You're so stubborn," I remarked and felt him shake with your laughter. "You know, this is much more helpful when you can't speak." Padfoot growled playfully and I was struck again by the similarities between the two of you. I had never imagined, throughout all the discussions about Animagi, that I would be faced with a dog who had your personality exactly. You were so like Padfoot that I actually worried that someone would realise that it was you if the dog was ever discovered. I released Padfoot's neck but kept my arms around him. Another small whine was his way of asking me what had upset me so much in the first place.
"I had my career discussion today with McGonagall," I explained, feeling the overwhelming sensation of hopelessness rushing over me again. I willed myself not to cry anymore. You understood me immediately and your eyes met mine with the perfect blend of comprehension and concern. I was immensely thankful for the lack of pity that I saw. I didn't think that I'd be able to handle that on top of everything else. Padfoot's silence urged me to continue.
"I knew beforehand that my options were extremely limited. Werewolves don't generally have careers, anyway. It's just-" I broke off to take a calming breath "-just seeing everything laid out in front of me like that. All those jobs that I know that I could do well." Padfoot whined and nestled into my chest supportively. "What's the point of me working so hard at Hogwarts?" I asked bitterly. "No one's going to employ me whether I get twelve NEWTs or two." I bit my lip and forced some level of composure. "Of course, McGonagall remained professional. Didn't mention my condition. She just reminded me that someone with my high grades could aspire to anything." Padfoot snorted and I knew exactly what you were thinking. I'd been sitting in McGonagall's office thinking exactly the same thing. "I know you would have said something," I half-laughed. "But that would have made the entire meeting awkward and there's nothing that either of us could have done to change the facts. I'm unemployable due to factors out of my control, despite the grades I achieve at Hogwarts. She may as well have just told me that instead of wasting twenty minutes pouring over useless pamphlets."
I followed your gaze to the end of the bed, where a mass of paper scraps littered the duvet. A noise halfway between a growl and a whine escaped Padfoot whilst I nodded and shrugged.
"I shredded them," I half-smiled. "What was the point in carting them around in my bag anyway?" I started playing with Padfoot's soft ears absent-mindedly while I avoided your irritated gaze. I understood what you were thinking again. It wasn't irritation at me, just at the system which wouldn't allow me to have a job in the future. The confusion in your eyes was also understandable. You were wondering why I'd ever bothered to work hard at Hogwarts when I knew exactly what the future would hold.
"You have to understand," I told Padfoot. "There was a time when I thought that I'd never be permitted to attend Hogwarts. The second that I got that letter, I swore to myself that I'd make the most of every opportunity and that I'd never hold back. Also, there was a very slight chance that legislation might change in seven years. What kind of idiot would I be if I came out of Hogwarts completely unqualified because I'd never believed that there'd be work for me anyway? Even though the chances of me getting a job are slim, I can give myself a better chance by having brilliant grades to tempt an employer. I'm required by law to notify wizarding employers of my condition but I'm more likely to get hired as an amazingly qualified werewolf than an under-qualified one. If someone's going to employ a danger to society, they're going to want the best possible worker to make up for it."
I suspected that you knew all of this, not that I'd ever said as much before. I just knew that you understood me and had read up on the legislation against werewolves to find out what I was up against. You'd been especially quiet for days after that, wondering how I even found the strength to go on with so much of the world fighting me. The simple answer was, it was my life and no matter how much friends like you did for me, it was going to be difficult and I would always have to get on with that, without constantly complaining.
"And it's not that I'm constantly depressed about the job problem," I reassured Padfoot, who looked thoroughly downcast. "It's just highlighted in certain situations and it reminds me how lucky I am that I'm even here." I sighed. "Thanks for listening to this. I didn't want to depress you as well." Padfoot barked quietly in response and licked my cheek affectionately. "I suppose it's true what they say," I mused. He looked inquisitive. "You really are man's best friend." The happiness radiating from Padfoot at my words was definitely yours. Your eyes were smirking at me and Padfoot's expression was forming what I had come to recognise as the dog's version of your grinning face.
The dormitory door opened again.
"Hey Moony, are you in there?" James yelled across the room.
"Yeah, I am," I called back.
"Is that stupid mutt with you?"
"Padfoot is, yes," I replied, fighting to keep a straight face at the indignant expression on the dog. James wrenched the hangings open and glanced at me, concerned.
"Are you alright? You ran off in the middle of dinner." Padfoot lay down at the end of my bed and your eyes flickered between James and I.
"It's not as drastic as you missing a meal, I assure you Prongs," I smiled slightly. "I had my career discussion this afternoon and as you can imagine, it wasn't exactly the most pleasant half hour I've ever spent in McGonagall's office."
"Passing over the fact that the Marauders don't generally have a pleasant time in McGonagall's office, are you okay?" James did looked genuinely concerned and I nodded.
"As okay as I'll ever be," I replied honestly. Padfoot gave a contended sigh and I could have sworn that you winked at me as I glanced towards the end of the bed. I didn't think I'd actually ever seen a dog wink before. I suppressed a smirk.
"Wormtail's holding some of the treacle tart downstairs. I'd better hurry before he eats it all." He glanced at Padfoot. "Want me to bring you a plate up?" The loud bark, accompanied by fierce wagging of his tail was enough of a response. James grinned and nodded.
"Alright then. I'll see you two in a bit."
When he had exited the room, I turned back to the end of my bed to see you sitting there in human form. I looked curiously at you and you shrugged in response.
"I can't eat treacle tart as a dog," you told me. "Well I could, but it doesn't taste the same." I nodded, smiling.
"Fair enough." I surveyed you for a moment, your grey eyes the only feature that transferred directly to Padfoot's face. You looked amused.
"What?" I rolled my eyes. I was sure that you were worrying that you'd got something on your face or in your hair.
"Nothing," I sighed. "Just… I'm glad to have you as a friend, Sirius." You flashed me that genuine smile that always reached your eyes.
"You too, Remus," you grinned and I knew that you weren't repeating it just because I'd said it. "You too."