Author's note: This is yet more mind-blowingly self indulgent fic. It started, as these things always do, as me dealing with my own issues by shoving them into fictional characters, and ended up as me poking at Remus and trying really hard not to project too much. This doesn't explore the Sirius thing to my satisfaction, but that just means that I'll have to write another one doing just that, since this one is much more general in scope. This fic has a content warning for suicidal ideation and depression.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling. No profit is being made from this fic.
He wants to scream sometimes, wants to yell until his throat is sore and his chest is heaving and his heart is empty. He wants to let out the tangle of feelings within him, wants to excise the hurt and the despair and the weariness in a single violent outburst that leaves him drained and exhausted in a way sleep might actually heal. He wants others to know how he feels, wants to let everything out in secret so no one has to know, wants to numb his mind enough to know what he wants. He wants to let his control slip, just once, wants to feel rage bubble inside of him without fearing the consequences. (He wants to not care about the consequences.)
Occasionally he gets as far as inhaling before the emotions are quashed, swallowed before they have even a hope of escaping, pressed back down inside of him by willpower and shame and habit. He shakes in his bed, threadbare pillow clutched tightly to him, a lifetime of being careful battling a confused tangle of negativity and winning with ease. He curls in on himself and buries his face in his hands and tries not to dwell on the fact that here too he has failed. He can't even be properly depressed, can't hate himself enough, and it would make him cry except he can't do that either.
Once, before everything went wrong, he would let himself fall heavily onto someone else's bed and his friends would exchange glances and throw pillows at him until he moved enough to let them pile onto the bed with him. They would be too hot and too heavy and none of them were ever diligent enough about brushing their teeth but they'd surround him and toss jokes back and forth and let him lie there with his head down until the unbearable heaviness and misery retreated to a manageable level once again. He doesn't think they ever really understood, but they didn't let that stop them from doing what they could to help. His friends were Hufflepuffs that way.
(Sometimes he thought Sirius understood more than he let on; now he knows that Sirius never understood anything at all and that makes him want to scream too.)
Moony doesn't share his compunctions. The wolf howls and rages against the magically reinforced doors and tears at the floor and at himself in his desire to escape. He throws himself against the walls until his skin splits and his muscles tremble with agony and exhaustion and when at sunrise Remus comes back to himself, shaking outright now and sticky with his own blood, he does not even have strength to clean himself off before he succumbs to unconsciousness. It takes him a few days to recover, days he doesn't have, days that lose him what few jobs allow him the time off in the first place, days that allow his self hatred to solidify and congeal until he hates Moony more for leaving him alive than for breaking him in the first place.
Some days he can't breathe, strangled by a swirling miasma of emotions and choked by the crush of the future, and he gulps for air like a man nearly drowned and can't alleviate the pressure on his chest. Some days he can't get out of bed, paralyzed by exhaustion, weighed down by the certainty that things will never, ever change. Some days he can't be alone with himself, can't bear to hear the truths his thought have to offer and so he disillusions himself and slips into muggle libraries, buries himself in books and tries to pretend it's the same as when his friends told stories over him until he could bring himself to join in. It's not, of course, but he lets himself pretend anyway. He only hates himself more when he's forced to return to reality, hates himself for his weakness on top of everything else, hates himself for missing what he never had a right to have in the first place.
He thinks sometimes that he's drowning for real, drowning in a flood of failure and regret and impossible self-hatred. On days when he can't leave whatever shelter he's found and can only barely make himself eat he thinks that this is the end, this is how he will slip away from his life at last. It seems fitting somehow that he should just waste away like this, alone and bitter and mostly forgotten. Most days, days when he can get himself out the door and to whatever job he's managed to find, he does not allow himself the luxury of legitimating his feelings. His friends would tell him to relax, would shove a bottle of butterbeer in his hand and remind him that he damn well has the right to feel however he wants to, but his friends aren't here, will never be here again, and he can't let himself sully their memories so. James and Peter died heroes and should be remembered as such, not used to facilitate his own self-pity. Sirius, well, Remus doesn't know whether he hates Sirius more for what he did or himself more for missing him despite that and so tries not to remember him at all. He curls up by himself instead, curls up on whatever bed or mattress or pile of ragged blankets he's managed to find for himself and clutches a pillow to his chest and wishes he were young enough to think this all a nightmare.
He does not deserve his survival, he knows this, does not deserve to be the only one of his friends to have walked away, does not deserve to pity himself for the miracle that is his continued existence. He knows too that the worst possible punishment is to keep living and so he makes himself keep going because every day is a curse and it's one he deserves to suffer.
(Sometimes he wonders if he even could kill himself, he who can't even manage to scream when it feels like the world is ending inside him. He wishes he were brave enough to find out.)