March 6, 1985, Camargue, Provence, France
The full moon was always a strange night in the Black-Longbottom home. There was a deep sense of foreboding amongst the inhabitants. Even Sirius, who at one time had greatly enjoyed the midnight romps in his canine form, had become subdued about it with the loss of James and Peter.
Remus was looking very pale and shaky, sitting at the kitchen table. Mimi had brought him a completely raw steak, finding nothing odd about the request. Remus eyed it guiltily for a few moments, seeming to fight against his desire. Eventually, he gave in and bit into it, taking a perverse pleasure in letting the blood drip down his chin.
Frank and Yuki came back into the house, both clutching their wand tightly in their hand. "All right. We've manged to secure an area for you, Remus," Frank said. "Got lots of room to run around. You shouldn't be able to get passed the barriers."
"How far away from the house is it?" Remus asked, wiping his chin with the back of his hand. "I don't want it to be close."
"It's right on the edge of the land. We can't go any farther. The French Ministry was nervous enough about allowing a werewolf to stay in the country without having his transformation location being off private property." He pat Remus gently on the shoulder. "We'll keep the kids upstairs and we won't go outside."
Yuki nodded in affirmation. "We'll even spell the doors so we can't go out... And you can't get in."
Harry ran into the kitchen, clutching a book tightly in his hands. "Moony Moony Moony!" He jumped into Remus's lap, causing him to let out a grunt of discomfort. "We need a new book tonight!" He held out a book to him. "This one?"
"Kachan, Frank or Alice will have to handle reading tonight," Remus admitted sadly, ruffling Harry's hair. "Padfoot and I are going out."
"But you do the voices," Harry pouted. "We like when you do the voices."
"I'm really sorry," Remus murmured, giving Harry a kiss on top of the head. "Another night, all right?"
Harry got out of Remus's lap and walked, head hanging, out of the kitchen. Sirius walked passed him on the way in. "Hey there, Pronglet. Better watch it. A bird might perch on that lip."
Harry ignored Sirius and went back into the sitting room, where Alice was currently playing with JJ and Neville. Noriko and Lex had already been put to bed.
Sirius furrowed his brow at his godson's mood. "What was that all about?"
"Harry's feeling a little sighted that his favourite storyteller won't be around tonight," Remus sighed, running a hand through his hair. He then pulled some of the lengthier locks down. He thought he'd spotted some grey.
"He'll get over it," Yuki assured him, giving Remus a light kiss on the cheek. "Don't you go feeling guilty. It's not like you want to transform into a wolf."
"We're going to have to head out soon, mate," Sirius said. "You ready?"
"Never," Remus sighed. "But I suppose I've got to do it anyway."
Sirius turned to his fiancée. "Okay, so I leave the house to you, Frankie and Ali. Think you can handle it?"
Yuki smirked. "Handled it before I had help, didn't I?" She got on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss. "Have fun marauding."
"Before I go, why don't you show me how well you're doing on your transformation, hm?"
Yuki groaned. "Oh, Sirius... You know I've been swamped, with the kids and my studies..."
"Come on now," Sirius placed his hands on her hips. "Know you've got some progress."
"Fine." Yuki screwed up her face in pained concentration. Finally, after a few moments, black ears appeared in her long, dark hair and a tail slid out from beneath her skirt. "Happy now?"
"Ruff," Sirius mock-barked at her. He reached up and gave her a tug on her new ears. "Going to have to exploit this at some point, Kitten. I kind of dig it."
This pronouncement earned a groan from both Remus and Frank.
"Just get, you mutt," Yuki gave him a swat on the backside. She gave Remus a small smile. "Be well, all right, Remus?"
Remus forced himself to stand up, Sirius coming to his side to help him along. "Come on, Moon." Before leading him outside, he took Remus to the sitting room. "All right guys, Dadfoot and Moony are off for the night."
Neville waved happily. "Bye Mister Padfoot! Bye Mister Moony!"
JJ ran up to his father, throwing his arms around his legs. "Night Daddy." He then did the same for Remus. "Night Moony."
Harry stayed with Alice, his gaze a little too focused on the easy reader in front of him.
"Pronglet?" Sirius said quietly. "Don't you want to say good-night?"
Harry hid his face in his hands, ignoring the pair of them.
"It's all right, Padfoot," Remus sighed. "We've really got to go out."
Alice bit her lip, looking up at her friends. "I'm sorry."
Remus shook his head. "Don't worry on it, Alice. We'll see you tomorrow."
Alice gave Remus a saddened look and silently raised her hand in farewell.
With that, Sirius put an arm around Remus's shoulders and led him out into the grounds. It was dusk and the light had not quite gone out in the sky. They walked towards the end of the property. There was a faint glowing line on the ground where Frank and Yuki's spells had been cast. Sirius took his wand from his pocket and lightly tapped the line with it. The glowing line receded enough to allow them entrance.
Once inside, Remus began to remove his clothing bit by bit. Sirus kept his gaze averted from Remus, just collecting each piece as it was removed, folding it and placing it outside of the protective circle. Once he was naked, Remus seemed to fold in on himself.
Sirius busied himself making sure Remus's clothes were on the other side of the circle and closing the charm once again.
"Transform," Remus rasped to Sirius. "And don't look at me."
Remus said the same thing before every moon. Sirius was used to the command. He stretched and transformed into the large black dog. He lay down on the grass, his back turned away from the pale, naked young man.
As the dusk turned to night and the moon was revealed high in the sky, the dog could hear the screams. He put his paws on top of his head, trying to block out the horrible noise. The screams then turned to howls.
After what seemed like an eternity, a cold nose was pressed against Padfoot's muzzle. He opened pale grey eyes to look at the sandy brown werewolf. He jumped up to his feet, running around the werewolf.
The werewolf looked around, as if trying to find the stag and the rat. Even after so many years, it still wondered where the rest of its pack had gone.
Padfoot barked loudly, leaping on top of Moony, trying to distract him. It worked and the werewolf joined him in play. They continued to playfully snap and bite at each other, loping around late into the night.
Sleep never came easily to Yuki on the nights of the full moon. She always wanted to stay wary of what the two canines were doing not far from the house. She wanted to be ready if the kids needed anything. And, as much as she hated to admit it, it was difficult for her to sleep without Sirius by her side. She had gotten far too used to it after nearly four years. Even his growling snoring was sorely missed. She had her arm slung over his pillow, which was very inadequate replacement for the real thing.
She could hear the sound of the door opening and small footsteps padding into the room. She brought her head up to see who it was. She blinked blearily. "Harry?" She murmured, voice still sleepy. "Daijoubu?"
Harry stopped creeping towards the bed. He gave a slight nod. "Un. Daijoubu." His voice was very quiet. After debating with himself for a moment, he climbed into the bed next to Yuki, in Sirius's vacant spot. "Kachan?"
Harry leaned against Yuki, snuggling against her. "Where do they go?" She noted sleepily Harry continued in Japanese. She made a note to be highly proud of that when she was more awake and the conversation was not so serious. It was obvious who 'they' were.
"Padfoot and Moony need to go out on the moon," Yuki replied, combing her fingers through Harry's hair.
Yuki sat up and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. This conversation was definitely going to be serious. They had all spoken about what they were going to do when one of the kids starting asking about what was wrong with Remus or what he did every full moon. Yuki hadn't thought she was the one Harry would go to, but she suppose it made sense, as the question would undoubtedly come up when Remus and Sirius were not around.
"Come on." Yuki helped Harry out of the bed and led him to the window. She knelt down beside the boy and pointed out towards the back of the property. The two animals were not very clear, but they were still visible.
Harry squinted as he looked outside. "Padfoot," he said, placing his hand against the glass. He, of course, was very familiar with Sirius's animal form. "He's a dog."
Yuki nodded. "He's with Moony."
Harry cocked his head to the side. "Ano..." He seemed to struggle with Japanese and gave up, switching to English. "Moony doesn't change."
"He does," Yuki said, switching as easily as Harry. She led him back to the bed, sitting him down. "Padfoot can change any time he wants. But Moony... He can only change on the full moon. And he has to change, he doesn't have a choice."
"Why?" Harry asked.
"Moony is a werewolf," Yuki replied.
Harry looked up at Yuki. "What's a werewolf?"
Yuki sighed. Now that she and Harry were into the conversation, she wasn't sure she would be able to answer all of these questions. There was really only one person who would be able to answer them. "Sweetie, it's late. Why don't we go to sleep? We can talk more about this tomorrow."
Harry frowned slightly, but he looked very sleepy himself. "Kachan? Can I sleep with you tonight?"
Yuki nodded. She pulled back the covers and allowed Harry to slip under them. He nestled against her, sighing softly. "Kachan?"
Harry smiled softly, hugging Yuki tightly. "I'm happy you're here when Moony has to be a werewolf and Padfoot is a dog for him."
Ragged breath escaped Remus as the first rays of light fell onto his tired, pale body. After a moment, he saw Sirius hovering over him. "You look a right mess, mate." He felt his robes wrapped around him and Sirius helping him to his feet. "Come on."
Remus leaned heavily against Sirius, keeping his eyes shut against the early morning light. He testingly pressed a hand to his torso. It felt like all of his ribs had set all right. All in all, the werewolf seemed to be quiet suited for the French countryside. Transforming out in the open, as opposed to in a cramped room, seemed to ease the inner animal. He still felt awful, but at least his body was not torn to shred by self-inflicted injury.
On their way to his room, Remus stopped abruptly, running to the bathroom to heave. The steak Mimi had given him was not sitting right post-transformation.
"You need anything, mate?" Sirius asked. "Pepper-up? Skele-gro? Cup of tea?"
"Just bed," Remus said with a groan. He forced himself back up to his feet. "I just want to go lay down." He finished vomiting up the rest of his stomach contents, wincing at the acidic taste in his mouth. He stopped at the sink briefly to rinse out his mouth, but could not stand the idea of standing there long enough to brush his teeth.
Remus padded back out of the bathroom and Sirius met him, helping him towards his room. He helped Remus sit down on the bed. "All right, mate. Arms up."
Remus obliged, putting his arms up in the air and Sirius helped him put on a grey t-shirt bearing the Oxford school crest. The shirt was ridiculously large on Remus's painfully slender frame. "I really wish you wouldn't coddle me."
"Someone's got to," Sirius replied. "Would you rather I get Yuki or Ali in here? Be more comfortable with the woman's touch?"
Remus laid back in bed. "I'd really wish I could do it myself."
Sirius smiled grimly. "And I wish I could meet the Seeker for the Holyhead Harpies and that my fiancée was open to threesomes." He placed a gentle hand on Remus's shoulder. "Unfortunately, we are all stuck with our lots in life."
"Moony?" A tiny voice said from the doorway.
Remus opened his eyes and raised his head only slightly. He could only see the top of a head, covered in untidy black hair. "Harry? What are you doing up so early?"
Harry sniffed, clutching tightly to his stuffed lion. "Kachan woke up early. Was sleeping with her." He clambered onto the bed. "Wanted to see you."
"Pronglet." Sirius grabbed the boy before he could climb onto Remus. "Be careful. Moony isn't feeling well."
"Because he's a werewolf," Harry said quietly.
Both men looked at their ward. "What?"
"Kachan said..." He sat cross-legged on the bed. "I wanted to know where Moony and Padfoot went. She said he couldn't read stories during the moon 'cause he was a werewolf."
Remus sighed. "Oh Harry. Do you understand what a werewolf is?"
Harry rubbed the back of his neck before shaking his head. "Kachan said... Moony is a wolf and he has to be a wolf. It's not like Padfoot being a dog."
"That's right," Remus sighed. He held his arm out so Harry could snuggle up against him, which he immediately did.
"We can do this later," Sirius said quickly. "Come on, Pronglet. Let's let Moony rest."
"It's all right," Remus insisted. "I can explain it to Harry now. I'd rather he not come up with his own ideas while I'm asleep up here."
Harry looked up at Remus with wide, innocent green eyes. Remus smiled sadly, tiredly at him. "Being a werewolf is not a good thing. Do you remember when you got the cold and you were sick in bed?"
Harry nodded. "Padfoot made me soup and Kachan put stuff on my chest and you read to me."
Remus nodded. "That's right. And you felt really bad, because you were sick. Being a werewolf is kind of like being sick all the time."
Harry's eyes grew wide. "You feel like that all the time?"
"Well, not all the time. Just around the moon. When I just stay in bed and don't do anything." Remus brought a shaking hand to Harry's hair, in an attempt to smooth it down.
"How did you get sick?" Harry asked.
"When I was around your age, a werewolf bit me," Remus explained. "And that made me a werewolf too. It means that when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf. But it's not like with Padfoot. He can change any time he wants. And he remembers who he is. I'm just a wolf."
Harry nodded, but he seemed to be thinking very hard about what Remus was saying, as if he didn't completely understand it.
"Changing makes me feel sick. It's not as bad as it was when I was little, because I had Padfoot to help me. And when we were in school, we had your Daddy help too."
Harry looked up at Remus. "Can I help?"
"Maybe when you're older," Remus said quietly. "If you want to become an Animagus like Padfoot and your Daddy and like Kachan is trying."
Harry nodded eagerly.
Remus smiled. "Well, you'll have to work really hard at your studies if you want to do that. Become a very strong wizard."
Harry leaned against Remus. "What can I do now?"
Remus's expression darkened. "Promise me that you'll never try to go outside during the full moon if I'm at home."
Harry nodded, seeing the serious look in Remus's eyes.
"And if for some reason, you're ever near me when I'm a wolf, you'll run really, really fast. As fast as you can."
Harry continued to nod.
Remus took a breath. "And you can't tell anyone I'm a werewolf. There are a lot of people who don't like werewolves."
Harry chewed on his thumbnail, thinking about this statement. "Why? I like you."
Remus smiled. "Some people are afraid of werewolves. Werewolves are not all like me. Some werewolves are really scary."
Harry nodded and gave Remus a careful hug. "I'm glad you're the werewolf I know."
"I'm glad too," Remus said, his smile growing.
"Come on, Pronglet," Sirius said, placing a hand on Harry's back. "We should let Moony rest now. He's had a rough night."
Harry climbed out of bed with Remus. Before he left the room with Sirius, he stood by Remus's bedside. He held out the stuffed lion to him. "This will make you feel better."
Remus accepted the lion, holding it close to him. "Yes, I think that's working very well."
Once Sirius had escorted Harry back out of the room, Remus lay back on the bed and closed his eyes. Even as he fell asleep, there was a smile on his face.