AN: I'm not really sure how Moony ended up with a sort of Synesthesia, but he did.

For the "Take a Stroll Through the Quote Garden" Challenge.

Prompt: It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense. ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Sirius/Remus

-RLSB-

"Despite It All"

Remus wakes with the sickening feeling that something is horribly wrong, but he can't quite catch the memory that will tell him what it is.

Something feels… not quite right.

He blinks a few times, letting the world come into focus. Surprisingly enough, he is alone. It is the first full moon since the Marauders discovered his secret that Sirius has not been sleeping in the bed next to him, or at least sitting in the chair, staring at him invasively, disregarding typical notions of "personal space" (a concept Remus had been trying to teach Sirius for years, without much success).

The thought of Sirius sends a sinking feeling through his stomach.

He closes his eyes, and memories of the previous night flash across his eyelids. Snape. James. The scent of fear. The bloodlust.

Remus shudders. Memories of his time as a wolf always feel like they don't quite fit in his head. Thoughts aren't thought the same way; emotions aren't felt the same way; memories aren't stored the same way. It's always like looking through a distorted, cracked glass. It's his memory, but not.

He closes his eyes, trying to cling to the flashes of memory that he wants so badly to push away and forget about – but he can't. He needs to know.

Grey and brown, blurry, but warm – that's got to be waking up in the Shack.

Red – the scent of blood.

Green – James. James. Why is James James? Why isn't he Prongs?

Fiery orange – that's pain. Shards of the wooden door are digging into flesh. A whine turns into a howl as amber eyes catch sight of Men. Green catches deep brown, tugs it back.

A red howl of rage – Moony shoves through the door, furious.

Then everything goes violet.

Remus likes violet. It's safe. Moony hates violet. It's boring.

Simultaneously relieved and horrified, Remus opens his eyes.

It could have been so much worse, he thinks first. How did it get this bad? is his second thought. How did Snape find out?

Remus would bet his chocolate stash that this is the reason why Sirius isn't next to him.

"Merlin, Sirius, you idiot. What did you do this time?" he murmurs to himself. Heavily, Remus heaves himself upright. Everything aches, as usual. He leans over and grabs the glass of water that always sits on the bedside table, gulping it down. He's never understood why, but the full moon always makes him thirsty. Setting the glass back down, Remus notices an elaborate scroll of parchment on the table as well. He frowns.

The scroll is high-quality parchment, sealed with wax – an insignia that Remus doesn't recognize, but feels like he should, because it's familiar somehow – and tied with a fancy ribbon. It's a little intimidating, if he's being perfectly honest.

Madam Pomfrey chooses that moment to check on him, and Remus wonders if she knows what happened.

"How are you feeling, dearie?"

Remus grimaces. "As well as can be expected."

She nods briskly, casting routine diagnostics.

Hesitantly, Remus asks, "Madam Pomfrey, where's Sirius?"

A dark look crosses her face, but she doesn't answer. Stubbornly, Remus asks again, "Please, Madam Pomfrey."

She's finished her diagnostic spells, and she sighs and leans back.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Lupin. I don't think he'll be coming today."

She's avoiding the real issue, Remus knows. He frowns, but he lets it go.

Madam Pomfrey stands up, pats his shoulder, and then returns to her office. Her steps are heavier than normal.

Remus turns his attention to the fancy scroll, hoping maybe it will explain something, hoping it isn't a letter from the school board, expelling him. Delicately, he pulls off the ribbon and breaks the seal. Checking the name at the bottom, he feels like he should relax because of who it is, but instead he gets more tense. Sirius.

Remus,

I'm going to stuff my pride and talk about my feelings here, because you need to hear the truth. I'm so sorry. There are no words to express how sorry I am right now (or if there are, I don't know them. You probably do). I'm not going to make excuses. I was stupid. That was the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life. I… Merlin, Rem, I'm just so sorry. I figure you probably don't want to talk to me right now, and that's why I'm writing this down (and because I'm too much of a coward to tell you in person, for fear you'll do to me what I deserve).

Look, I don't expect you to forgive me. Heck, I'll probably never forgive myself. What I need is for you to understand. It wasn't because I don't care about you. It wasn't because I wanted to hurt you. Never. For lack of a better way to say this, it wasn't about you at all. I know, I know. It has everything to do with you. But you mean the world to me, Rem, and this was never about hurting you.

See, he was provoking me. I know, I promised no excuses. And it's not. I'm not excusing what I did. It was stupid and irresponsible and screwed up. I'm just stating the facts. He started mocking my family, and so I did what I do and said his wasn't much better. I think he knew that he wasn't getting anywhere, and he got that look in his eyes; you know the one. The one you always tell me is dangerous; the one you always tell me to walk away from. And I could hear you in my head, telling me to walk away. So I turned around. And I know you think I'm lying now, but I'm not. I was thinking about you, and knowing that it was not a good time to get detention, and I turned to walk away.

And then he said the words that are burned into my memory. "Going to see your sick, worthless friend, Black?" He said it in that snide little tone where every single word is an insult to someone. But what really got me was the sixth word. Worthless. No one is allowed to call you worthless. Noone. And so I froze. And the words were out of my mouth before my brain had started working again. And I couldn't take them back. I wanted so badly to take them back.

Merlin, Rem, I… there are no words. I thought… No, that's the problem. I didn't think. I never think. If anyone's worthless, it's me. All I do is hurt the people I care about. But this isn't about me. It's about you, Remus. I know I've said this already, and I'll probably say it a million times more, but I'm sorry. Sorry beyond belief. I'm sorry I'm a freaking idiot. I'm sorry that I hurt you. I'm even kind of sorry that I nearly killed him. I don't want to be a killer; I don't want to be a Black. You always say that I'm better than that. Maybe, for the first time in your life, you're wrong. I want to be better. I just don't know if I can be. It seems like I can't, no matter how hard I try. I can't escape them. And I'm sorry that you got caught in the crossfire, because you don't deserve that.

Sirius

Remus wonders if Sirius thinks that wrapping his apology up in a fancy letter will help. It doesn't. He buries his head in his hands, not knowing how to deal with this. He spends the whole day that the Mediwitch keeps him for observation thinking about it, and it only makes him angry, but he stuffs that deep inside when she finally releases him. He walks up to the dorm, intending to grab his stuff before breakfast. As luck would have it, Sirius is the only one in the dorm. Remus ignores him, stuffing his bag quickly and turning to leave.

"So that's it, then?" Sirius asks. There's a sadness in his voice, usually so familiar, that's foreign to Remus, and that unfamiliarity makes a part of him ache, but he ignores it. He glances back at Sirius, not saying a word. He's neither smiling nor frowning. Sirius elaborates. "That's all we're going to be? You're just going to give me the silent treatment forever?"

Remus blinks expressionlessly, and turns to leave. Sirius strides forward, stopping him with a hand on his shoulder. "Remus, please," he begs. "Talk to me." Remus just shakes his head and attempts to leave again. Sirius doesn't move his hand. He seems to have accepted Remus's silence, but he takes the bag from Remus's shoulder and slings it over his own, the same way he's done every single full moon. Remus tries not to smile. He hasn't forgiven him so easily. Silently, he follows Sirius out of the room.

They go on like this for an entire week, tension hanging over their heads, thick and heavy. James and Peter are frustrated. Sirius is frustrated. Remus doesn't know what to think anymore, but he knows that going on like this is only hurting both of them. Sirius has now apologized 52 times aloud, in addition to the original seven times in writing.

The fifty-third time, Sirius is walking behind Remus on their way to Potions. Remus whirls around, and Sirius runs right into him. "Sorry," he mumbles, and Remus wonders absently whether he should count that as apology number 54.

"Just stop, okay!" Remus yells. "Apologizing fifty-three times isn't helping! I've got it! You're sorry!"

"Then why won't you talk to me?"

"Because I don't think you understand why I'm mad!"

"How on earth am I supposed to figure out why you're mad if you won't talk to me?"

"Because, Sirius, I wanted you to think about what could've happened!"

"I know what could've happened, Rem! He could've died, I get that, and it was stupid and thoughtless of me."

"No, see, you still don't get it! Yeah, he could've died, but so much more than that could've gone wrong, and I don't think you get that! Sirius, if he died, what do you think would've happened? You think the governors would've just taken that? You think they'd have let me stay? At the very least, I could've been expelled. Sirius, if they'd have taken offense, if they'd have been in a vindictive mood, I could have been executed."

Sirius's face is ashen.

"Merlin, Rem, I…"

But Remus is on a roll now. "Yeah, Sirius! See, you don't think! What if Snape had told someone before Headmaster Dumbledore swore him to silence? What if this had gotten out? You think parents would've been okay with a monster at school with their kids?"

"You aren't a monster, Rem," Sirius interrupts.

"That's your opinion. Thing is, most people don't see it that way."

"Most people don't know you."

"Most people don't want to," he counters. "You're smart, Sirius, but you aren't world wise. Haven't you ever heard that 'it is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense'? You're book smart, and school's effortless, but you have no commonsense, Sirius! You don't think about the consequences!"

"I know, Rem, and I'm sorry."

Remus laughs once, maybe a little bit bitter. "So you've said. Sometimes, though, Sirius, sorry isn't enough."

Sirius squeezes his eyes shut tightly, trying to hide the pain. He bites his lip.

"I can respect that." He turns around to walk away.

Conflicted, Remus hesitates before catching his arm. "Siri…" Remus hasn't called him that in over a week.

Sirius turns around and Remus can see the tears welling up in his eyes, and it kills him. Strong, stoic Sirius only ever shows the emotions that he wants the world to see, but Remus can tell that Sirius doesn't mean for him to see this.

"Siri," Remus murmurs again, before pulling him into a tight embrace. "I hate fighting with you, I really do, but I need you to see the consequences here."

Sirius breathes in deeply, wrapping his arms around Remus in return. "I hate fighting with you, too, Rem. And I really am sorry. I'll try to use my head, I will."

"That's all I ask," Remus whispers gratefully.

They stand like that for a moment. It's only been just over a week, but it feels like forever, and fighting has never felt right between them. This, this feels right.

"Oh, will you just kiss him all ready?"

Both boys flush and spring apart. James is grinning that Cheshire cat grin of his. Sirius is grinning ruefully, face light pink. Remus is bright red and looks as though he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Sirius is the first to recover. "Exactly which one of us were you talking to?" he asks cheekily.

James smirks a little bit. "You, of course. We both know Moony's far too shy, despite the fact that he's been head over heels for you for years."

If possible, Remus goes even brighter. Sirius just smirks.

Tenderly, he takes Remus's face in his hands and leans in oh-so-slowly. And there, right there, in the middle of the corridor, with James watching, Sirius kisses him softly. Remus's face is on fire, but he kisses back without hesitation, because while Sirius is stupid and reckless and frustrating, Remus loves him despite all of that.

"Oi!" James says after a few moments. "If you two are quite done, we have Potions!"

Sirius doesn't much seem to care, but Remus does, so he pulls back. Both of them are smiling like mad.

James sighs, muttering something neither of them can hear. "I'll see you two lovebirds in class!" he says, walking away.

"Come on," Remus murmurs. "Slughorn will murder you if you're late again." He turns to walk after James, but Sirius catches his hand, interlacing their fingers.

"James!" he calls forward. "You can find your own partner today, I think!"

James just nods. "Sure, Sirius. As long as you're okay with owing me," he tosses over his shoulder. Sirius shudders. James tends to call in favors at the most inopportune of times. But, glancing at Remus, he muses that, right now, it feels worth it.