Don't ask me where this came from...

For The Hunger Games: Fanfic Style Competition

The moon will be full in approximately six days, eighteen hours, and twenty two minutes. Remus' inner clock is ticking away, resonating inside his ribcage. Already his skin is beginning to crawl, and his chest is so incredibly tight, but perhaps that is more to do with the fact that he is alone in Sirius' old bedroom. And as much as it pains him to be here, he can't pull himself away. Not yet.

He sits on the bed and allows the moonlight streaming through the window to burn his skin, and he clenches the sheets in his fist. They still smell like Sirius. And they're strewn haphazardly across the bed because that git was always a mess, and he refused to make the bed because he had every intention of getting back in it.

Remus takes a shaky breath and begins to think about things that only someone who has nothing to lose would consider. Perhaps he won't take his Wolfsbane Potion this month. He used to dread transforming. He used to tremble in fear at the moon, but now he thinks it might be a blessed relief. Perhaps he will let go and take off and maybe even not come back. Maybe he'll go destroy some things for the hell of it. Maybe he'll go make the Shrieking Shack live up to its name again.

These disturbing thoughts are interrupted when he hears someone clear their throat behind him. He turns and is startled to see Bill in the doorway. He'd expected Molly or Kingsley or even Arthur.

But he's suddenly glad that it's Bill. He appreciates the way the young man doesn't stutter or shift his eyes in embarrassment as though grief is indecent. And he doesn't insist that he come downstairs, that he's mourned long enough, that he needs to eat, because he knows it's useless. All he asks is one thing.

"Will you stay with me?"

Remus cocks his head in confusion.

Bill shrugs his shoulders, and Remus can see the hint of fear in his face. "My first full moon," he elaborates. "Will you stay with me?"

"You won't transform…" Remus begins.

"I know," Bill interrupts. "But I can already feel it. I mean... I don't feel right. Is it always like this?"

Remus nods. "Always." He looks Bill in the face; the fresh scars Greyback left stand out angry and red against his skin. A pang of sympathy and of a strange kinship that few can understand hits him in the chest like a freight train, and he can't deny the boy. It would be cruel and unreasonable, so he nods again in agreement. "I'll stay."

Bill disappears from the doorway for a moment, but then comes back and enters the room with a smoking mug in hand. "Thanks," he says and he leaves just as quickly as he'd appeared. And Remus is left with a mug of Wolfsbane Potion that he was considering not taking. And he wonders if maybe Bill knew that, but he won't argue.

He needs a reason to keep his sanity, and just for this full moon, it will be Bill.

He takes his potion dutifully and the next week he takes Bill down to the basement before transforming into a common wolf. Bill sits down against the far wall, and wrings his hands, and grinds his teeth, while Remus paces. Neither of them strays too far from the door. Who knows what is actually down here? Knowing Kreacher, there could be anything. It's cold and damp. It's eerily quiet.

It's uncomfortable.

Remus isn't used to having to be strong for someone else. It used to be the other way around. And being miserable together is not working as well as he'd thought. Even with his potion, he's still restless.

Bill can't seem to get a grip. He's groaning in frustration, and he's scratching at the skin on his arms without thinking, drawing blood. Remus doesn't know what else to do but to climb onto the man's lap.

Bill tentatively buries his fingers in the Remus' fur, and takes a few deep breaths to calm himself. He leans his head back against the wall and whispers 'thank you' over and over.

Remus doesn't want to be thanked. He's not trying to be noble. He's not doing this for Bill. He's doing this because he needs a reason to not be a monster.

He's angry, he's bitter, he's tired.

And he's sorry.

The next month Bill comes to him again, Wolfsbane Potion in hand.

"Do you make this?" Remus asks curiously.

Bill smirks and shakes his head. "Snape."

Remus looks down at the smoking mug, wrinkling his nose at the smell. "Thank you for bringing it to me."

"Would you take it if I didn't?"

Remus meets Bill's eye, and he can't help but be amused at the man's intuitiveness. "Probably not."

Bill smiles kindly at him, and again, Remus is glad that he doesn't avert his eyes from the mess of a man before him. He doesn't scold or reprimand. He just looks meaningfully down at the mug in Remus' hand and takes his leave.

And the next week, they are in the basement again. Only this time, it's not so uncomfortable, and Bill doesn't have to grip Remus' fur so tightly.

And it is Remus' turn to be thankful. He is still a little less than human, but he is still thankful that he has a reason to not be a monster tonight.

Bill has a woman to keep him company.

Remus wonders why it is then, that the boy wants to spend his full moons with him. He wonders why he continually comes to find him in Sirius' room. Of all people, Fleur would be a comforting companion. She's charming and beautiful and young and distracting. Surely she could handle it.

But like clockwork, Bill comes in with a mug full of potion. But instead of leaving, he sits down on the bed and presses his back against Remus'.

"Why don't you come out of here?" Bill asks.

"Nobody understands," Remus says simply. It's not quite a satisfactory answer, but it's all his tired mind can come up with. Truthfully, he's sick of this room, and he knows he ought of have given up this routine months ago.

He leans back, and they are leaning their weight against each other, practically holding each other up. They take comfort in the warmth and the closeness and the feeling of shoulder blades digging into each other's backs. "Why don't you stay with Fleur this month?" Remus suggests.

Bill sighs. "She doesn't understand. She thinks she does. She tries too hard to understand, in fact. But she can't."

"I see."

And he does see, but he wonders why he's waiting for something more. And he wonders why he's so content to sit here like this with Bill.

And why he's looking forward to going to the basement next week.

Remus transforms back into his human self and leans against the wall, panting hard. He looks over at Bill who is staring intently at him, and he's never looked more wolfish than he does right now.

"Are you all right?" Remus asks.

"I don't know," Bill says quietly. He takes a step forward, and then changes his answer. "No. No, I'm not."

"What is it?"

And suddenly Bill has him pinned to the basement wall, and his hands are running through Remus' hair and it feels so much better than he'd imagined it would. It's nothing like when his hands are in his fur. "She doesn't…they don't understand," Bill says.

"We shouldn't," Remus whispers.

"We shouldn't," Bill agrees.

But they do anyway. And it's messy and desperate with clashing teeth and fingers entwined. And they really shouldn't. But in this moment, Remus can't remember why.

When they come up from the basement, exhausted and pale, Remus does not go directly to Sirius' old bedroom. It seems almost sacrilegious to go up there after what just happened. Instead, he heads for the kitchen only to find Molly who instantly begins to coddle him. He sees her smile at her son behind him, and it makes it almost impossible for him to keep his food down.

She doesn't understand.

And quite frankly, neither does he.

All he knows is that the illusion that Bill is his reason to not be a monster has shattered.