Summary: In Chapter Four of “Go Back to Being Friends,” Sirius first sees the scars that Remus acquired while Sirius was in Azkaban. One scar in particular catches his attention. This is the story behind that scar. Third story in the “Lovers for Tonight” series.
Disclaimer: The characters from Harry Potter and everything that happens to them belongs to J.K. Rowling. The first flashback involving Peter is taken from “Fallen (Alternate Version)” by CLS. It was the story that inspired “Go Back to Being Friends.”
Sirius gently laid his fingers on a wide band of scar tissue encircling Remus’s right wrist, the scar of a silver burn. The wolf hadn’t done that. He looked up at Remus with the question in his eyes.
* * * * *
Standing at the edge of the property line—the outermost edge of several of the wards that had once protected this house and the family within—Remus sensed the remnants of powerful magic, both dark and light. The energy danced along his skin and raised the hair on the back of his neck. His nose was stung by the metallic tang of ozone, created when spells ripped through the air. Even the shadows seemed deeper and darker here. Magic permeated the air so thickly that Remus believed that even the Muggle investigators climbing through the ruins of the house must sense it.
Amid the debris that had once formed a house: bricks, broken lumber, sections of plaster and lath, shattered glass, there were the items that had made the house into a home: eyelet curtains that had framed the kitchen window, the dining table where Lily and James had shared meals with their friends, treasured books, and Harry’s toys. The toys, or what had once been toys, were scattered most widely of all. The nursery had been the center of the storm. Remus stared at up into the branches of the willow tree beside him. A stuffed animal, a griffin with one wing torn off by the force of the explosion, was caught in the branches, just above his reach. One glass eye was missing. The other stared back at him reproachfully.
“Excuse me,” said a woman on his right.
Remus continued to stare at the griffin. “You saw it all, didn’t you?” he thought.
“Excuse me, I know how much everyone wants to see where You-Know-Who was defeated, but there are Muggles in the area. Would you mind going home and changing into Muggle clothing before you come back?”
“This was my home,” Remus said. He couldn’t break his gaze from the griffin. “You saw Lily die. You saw Harry left alone.”
“Who are you?” she asked. “I thought just the Potters lived here.”
“I didn’t live here, but this was my home. They were my family.”
“I’m so sorry.” She started to move away, but hesitated. “Look, I hate to say this, but it’s Ministry orders. You really have to wear Muggle clothing if you want to stay here. It’s hard enough to make them think this was a gas explosion without sightseers in robes.”
Remus nodded without looking at her. He’d leave soon. He needed to find Peter. They’d mourn together, for James, for Lily, and for Sirius.
“Foolish Padfoot, you always were too brave for your own good. Why did you let people know that you were the Secret-Keeper? You told me, and I know you didn’t trust me anymore. I could see it in your eyes; looking at me made you so sad. Who else did you tell? Were you daring Voldemort to come after you? Did you think you could kill him? Did you think he’d kill you before he learned where James and his family were? Did you think you could take the secret to the grave and protect them forever?”
Remus didn’t want to imagine how they must have tortured Sirius in order to get what they wanted from him. He hoped that once they had broken him, they had been merciful enough to kill him quickly. To Sirius, no torture could have been worse than the knowledge that he had failed to protect the people he loved.
Remus turned to leave. The remnants of the anti-apparition ward momentarily clung to him like torn cobwebs. He wanted to walk farther away from all of this before apparating to Peter’s. He didn’t care if the Muggles saw him apparate—he was beyond such concerns today—but he needed the time alone. He passed two middle-aged Muggle women who were walking toward the ruined house.
“—just don’t feel safe with gas in the house anymore.”
“You heard about the gas main explosion in Canterbury, didn’t you?”
Peter lived in the wizard district of Canterbury. Remus turned on his heel and eavesdropped unabashedly.
“This morning, it was. Right in the middle of the shopping district. Blew up half the street.”
“Was anyone hurt?”
“I’ll say there was. At least ten people killed and twice that injured.”
Remus apparated to the front door of Peter’s house and pounded on the door. “Please be all right, Peter. Please.” He knew the chances that Peter had been in the Muggle shopping district were slim, especially today, but he needed to see Peter. Peter and Harry were the only family he had left in the world. Panic took hold of his heart, and only seeing Peter alive and well would calm him. “Please be all right, Peter. You have to take care of Harry. You’re the only one left who can.”
The front door opened, but it was not Peter. A tall wizard with a scar on his cheek stood in the doorway, his wand pointed at Remus. A witch with close-cropped hair was also in the front hall, and she too had her wand in hand.
Remus strained to look into those rooms partially in view, hoping for a glimpse of his friend. “Is Peter here? I need to see Peter.”
“Who are you?” the wizard demanded. Remus realized that Peter was not in sight and tried to focus on the wizard blocking access to the house. He looked vaguely familiar—an auror who had occasionally worked with Sirius and James.
“I’m Remus Lupin. I’m a friend of Peter’s. I need to see him.”
“Lupin?” the witch repeated.
The wizard’s knuckles whitened as he tightened his grip on his wand. “I think you’d better come with us,” he said to Remus. “Some people want to talk with you.”
Remus nodded. “Just tell me that Peter’s all right. Please. I need to know.”
“Come with us,” the wizard said again. A slight edge of menace in his tone made it clear that Remus had no choice in the matter.
Remus held out his wand and allowed the auror to touch the tips of their wands together. They both apparated, Remus relinquishing control of their destination to the other wizard. Remus recognized the large room he was brought to. The desks in this room were where many of the aurors worked when paperwork needed to be done. Just a few yards away was a desk with black paw prints painted on it.
A keening howl of despair and loneliness filled Remus’s mind. His mate was dead; his pack was shattered. He almost fell to his knees and vocalized his grief. He clung to his one lifeline in this storm, the knowledge that not all of his pack was gone. “Harry is alive. Peter is alive—until someone tells me otherwise.”
“Put your wand in here,” the auror commanded. He held open the drawer of a desk. Remus hated to relinquish his wand; he hated being unarmed. But here, surrounded by at least five aurors, and now, on the day the Death Eaters were most desperate and the aurors probably very edgy, it was not the place or time to argue. Remus placed his wand in the open drawer. The auror closed and magically locked it. Even if Remus were capable of a summoning charm without a wand, he would not be able to summon his wand from that drawer.
“This way,” the wizard said and gestured with his free hand for Remus to precede him down a narrow hallway. “In here,” he said as he opened a metal door. It was a small, plain room, furnished only with a table and four chairs. It was what Remus expected, an interrogation room. Remus walked in and expected the auror to follow. Instead, the wizard closed and locked the door, and Remus was alone in the cage.
Remus sank down in a crouch in the corner and squeezed his eyes shut. The one-eyed griffin stared reproachfully at him again. “You should have protected them. Whenever you needed them, they were there for you. They needed you, and you weren’t there. You let them down.” He bowed his head and slowly raked down the back and sides of his neck with his fingernails, leaving four red, raised welts on each side. If he had had his claws, he would have drawn blood.
The door opened again.
“Remus? Are you all right?”
The voice was familiar. Remus looked up to see the scar-faced wizard was back with a white-haired witch and Frank Longbottom. Frank had been in Gryffindor four years ahead of Remus at Hogwarts, and was one of the few aurors who didn’t mind if Remus assisted Sirius and James with their work. Of course, that had been before Sirius and James stopped asking Remus to help. Frank crouched down before Remus with concern on his face.
“Is Peter alive, Frank?” Remus was starting to fear the answer to that question. There had to be a reason aurors were in Peter’s house.
“Why do you believe he might be dead, Mr. Lupin?” the witch asked in a business-like tone. Frank looked back at her. She was the one calling the shots in this room.
Remus pushed back against the wall and stood up. The sooner he answered her questions, the sooner he might get his own question answered. He took a seat at the table and the witch sat opposite him. Frank and the other wizard remained standing, one on either side of Remus, not close enough to crowd him, but there.
“I went to his house. He wasn’t there. Aurors were. Is he dead?”
“Why did you go there?”
“Our best friends just died. I wanted to be with my friend.”
“No other reason?”
“Isn’t that reason enough?” he snapped. Then he took a deep breath. “I heard there was a gas main explosion in Canterbury. I wanted to make sure Peter was all right.”
In his peripheral vision, Remus noticed that the scar-faced wizard looked away from him and toward the witch for just a moment. She continued to hold Remus’s gaze, and he hers.
“You heard of a gas main explosion in Canterbury and immediately thought of Mr. Pettigrew. Strange link to make in your mind, wasn’t it?”
“Yes. I just needed to know that he’s all right.”
“Why did you connect the two?”
“I didn’t. I just panicked, I think.”
“Why? Does Mr. Pettigrew normally spend time in the Muggle part of Canterbury? Did you have expect him to be there this morning?”
“No, he prefers the wizard district.”
“Then I ask you again. Why did you connect the two?”
Remus forced himself to retake the steps his mind had taken. “I was at the Potters’. The Ministry was trying to pass off what happened there as a gas explosion. I overheard someone say that there was another gas explosion in Canterbury. I was afraid that it was Peter’s house, and that the Ministry was using the same lie there. Even when I heard it was the shopping district, I remained afraid. I needed to see Peter. I needed to know he’s all right. I still need to know.”
“I’m sorry, Remus,” Frank said quietly. “He’s dead.” The witch glared at Frank for speaking without permission.
The anguished howl filled Remus’s mind again. He could see that the witch was speaking to him, but he couldn’t hear her. Her words didn’t matter. He stood up abruptly, knocking the chair over backward. He returned to the corner and sank down into a crouch again. He buried his face in his knees and let his tears finally fall. For little Peter, who always tried to exceed people’s expectations. For daring Sirius, who always wanted to protect his friends. For thoughtful James, who found the right balance in everything he did. For caring Lily, who would never see her beloved child grow up. For Harry, who would grow up never knowing all the wonderful people who had loved him so much. For himself, for he was alone in the world. His pack was gone.
He became vaguely aware of a hand on his shoulder and of futile words of comfort. Frank was trying to help, but there was nothing he could do. Remus’s world was gone.
“If you’re done with the dramatics,” the witch said acidly, “I have more questions.”
Remus looked up at her and growled. How dare she trivialize his loss! Bloodred anger spread through his mind and drowned his sorrow. He stood up and grabbed the back of the fallen chair in one motion. The scar-faced wizard aimed his wand, ready to act, but Remus merely righted the chair and faced his interrogator once more. He took the precaution of sitting several feet back from the table this time. If he became angry enough to lunge at her, he wanted the two wizards to have a fighting chance to stun or kill him before he reached her. He’d prefer that they kill him.
“Let’s talk about Sirius Black,” she said.
Remus glared at her, waiting for a question.
“Did you know he was the Potters’ Secret-Keeper?”
“Yes, he told me,” Remus replied. This question made sense to him. They needed to find out who told Voldemort that Sirius was the Secret-Keeper. Remus knew he had to be a prime suspect. “Evil dark creature, remember?”
“Why did he tell you?”
“I don’t know. He shouldn’t have.”
Remus saw a flicker of uncertainty in her eyes; that answer wasn’t what she expected. “Why do you say that?” she asked calmly.
“He thought I was a bloody Death Eater, and he told me anyway. He was a smart bastard, but he always had more balls than brains.” Remus saw no reason to watch his language around this particular witch. He hoped to make her as uncomfortable as she wanted to make him.
“What do you mean, he ‘thought’ you were a Death Eater? Either you are, or you aren’t.”
Remus laughed coldly. “For the record, I’m not. But I’d say the same thing if I were one, wouldn’t I?” Frank was hanging back near the wall now. The Remus in this room was not the shy, quiet Remus he thought he knew. “After the attacks on the Potters started, Dumbledore warned us that he thought someone close to James and Lily was a spy. My friends decided it was me. They tried to act like they still trusted me, but I knew.”
“Why did they suspect you?” she asked. “What did you do to earn their mistrust?”
“I didn’t have to do anything. I was the natural one to suspect, wasn’t I?”
“They don’t know!” Remus realized with shock. He had assumed he was being questioned like this because he was suspected of being in league with Voldemort, and that he was suspected of being in league with Voldemort because he was a werewolf.
“WHY?” the witch demanded.
Remus looked from her to Frank and back again. “Shit!” If they were this suspicious of him without that information, they’d never believe him if they knew. But if he didn’t tell, they’d find out eventually and then wonder why he withheld it.
“You made them suspect you, didn’t you?” she asked. “Dumbledore warned the Potters that there was a spy. He didn’t know there were two. You let them suspect you so they wouldn’t suspect Black. Isn’t that why Black let you live?”
“What are talking about? Why would anyone suspect Sirius?”
“He killed the Potters. He killed Pettigrew. He let you live. Why? You were his accomplice. You were in it together. You joined You-Know-Who together.” Her eyes were narrowed but shining brightly. She spoke with conviction and confidence.
“You’re wrong,” Remus whispered as his breathing grew shallow. “Sirius would never— he could never— Voldemort killed James and Lily.”
“Black was the Secret-Keeper. Voldemort couldn’t find them without his help. And Black couldn’t have become the Secret-Keeper without your help.”
“The Death Eaters captured him. They tortured him. They must have. Sirius would never willingly betray anyone.” Even as Remus tried to convince the others a nagging voice in the back of his mind spoke. “But he DID willingly betray you. He told Snape how to get in the tunnel.”
The witch sat back and crossed her arms triumphantly. “Sirius Black was unharmed and free right up until the time we captured him. You’ll have to think up a new story, Mr. Lupin.”
“Sirius killed Peter, Remus,” Frank said. “There are witnesses.”
“No, not Sirius,” Remus whispered. “He wouldn’t kill Peter. He couldn’t kill anyone.” The voice in his mind disagreed. “He tried to kill Snape. He used you to try to kill Snape.”
“He did kill Pettigrew and a dozen Muggles unlucky enough to be in his way,” the witch persisted. “The witnesses said he laughed when he saw the carnage he caused. And he used you to deflect suspicion off himself. He used you so he could keep the Potters’ trust.”
“He used you. He used you.”
“Why did you help him, Mr. Lupin?”
“Because I was a fool. Because I loved him.” Remus remained silent and stared down at his hands. In his mind, he saw his hands stroking and touching Sirius. Ghostly hands started touching Remus. His body was remembering the feel of every time Sirius had ever touched him. Sirius’s arm around Remus’s shoulders as he assured him that he thought it was “cool” that Remus was a werewolf. Their bodies entangled together as they play-wrestled for the last chocolate frog. Padfoot’s warm fur against his bare skin as he lay shivering on the floor of the Shrieking Shack. Sirius’s hands stroking his bare skin when they made love the first time. Sirius’s hands on his shoulders as he stood talking to James, unaware that Remus had decided they could no longer be lovers.
The witch broke into his thoughts. “Why did you help him? Why did you join You-Know-Who?”
“I’ll tell you why,” a gruff voice said as the door opened again.
The stench of wolfsbane came off the man in waves. Remus bolted to the back of the room, trying to stay away from the poisonous stench, but in the small room, there was nowhere to go. He panted shallowly, trying to avoid drawing the poison deep into lungs. Frank stared at Remus, trying to understand his bizarre behavior.
“He likes to kill; he lives to kill,” the man said. “All his kind do. Blood is what they live for.” He threw a heavy steel chain with manacles onto the table. “Ministry regs require that werewolves be chained during questioning and that a representative of Werewolf Control be present. Why didn’t you send for me?”
“Werewolf?” Frank’s eyes were wide as he stared at Remus. “Remus, tell them you’re not—” Frank realized it was true. “That’s why you aren’t an auror. Top of your class in Defense. I always wondered. James and Sirius knew, didn’t they?”
“Of course they did,” the Werewolf Control Officer said with a sneer. He dropped a scroll on the desk beside the chain. “Read it. It tells all about how Black tried to help Lupin kill a fellow Hogwarts student during the full moon. They would have succeeded if Potter hadn’t interfered. Dumbledore called it ‘a prank,’ and they got away with it, but I knew then that Black and his pet monster would keep killing.”
The witch unrolled the scroll and began to scan through the report, her eyes slowing to read certain passages carefully.
“Get back in the chair, wolf. Hands behind you.” the Werewolf Control Officer said as he picked up the chain and tossed it to Frank. “You, chain him to it.”
Remus did has he had been told. Frank’s eyes were downcast as he moved toward Remus, but Remus did not know if it was because he hated to chain him, or if he too now believed that Remus was guilty. Remus felt Frank’s hand pass the chain through the bars of the chair back and then the cool steel of the first manacle closed around his left wrist. The second manacle was fire. “Silver.” Remus hissed as he gritted his teeth against the pain. He felt Frank’s fingers scrambling to unfasten it and failing.
“It’s silver! His skin is blistering already. Unlock it!” Frank yelled at the other wizard.
“Just the one manacle is silver?” the scar-faced wizard asked in a tone of mild curiosity.
“Trust me, it’s the best way,” the Werewolf Control Officer replied. “If they were both silver, bleeding-hearts in the Ministry will say that we tortured a confession out of him. But with just one, we can say we used ‘restraint while dealing with him.’ We’re keeping him in just enough pain that we’re safe.” He walked behind Remus and fused the end of the chain into the floor, “Unito.”
“He’s chained to the chair and the floor,” Frank said angrily. “How much safer do you need to be? You don’t need to keep him in pain. Unlock the silver one!”
“I know werewolves better than you do, boy.” He fingered the hilt of a dagger at his waist. The hilt was silver. Remus was sure the blade was as well. “They’re strong, they’re fast, and they’re clever. And this one is a fully trained wizard to boot. There’s no way of knowing how much wandless magic Voldemort taught him. I’m not staying in the same room with him unless I know he’s in just enough pain that he can’t think straight to do magic.”
“Venetia?” Frank addressed the witch.
“It stays on,” she replied without taking her eyes off the scroll.
“Damn! I’ll be back, Remus,” Frank promised as he stormed out of the room.
The next two hours were a blur of questions, of wolfsbane induced nausea, and of pain, both physical and emotional. The fire enclosing his wrist was constant and thus easier to numb his mind against. Physical pain was something every werewolf knew well. The emotional pain was more difficult. It was a knife repeatedly stabbing his heart and twisting.
The same questions were returned to again and again as the witch and the Werewolf Control Officer tried to force him into slipping up and saying something he shouldn’t. Some questions called forth rote denials.
“Why did you join You-Know-Who?”
“I didn’t join him.”
“When did you join him?”
“What did he promise you?”
“What other werewolves were with him?”
“I don’t know about others. I just know that I wasn’t.”
“Did you and Black join together?”
“I didn’t join.”
“Did you go to Pettigrew’s house to kill him?”
“No, I wanted to make sure he was all right.”
“How did you know he was in danger?”
“I told you. I heard about the gas main explosion, and I panicked.”
Some questions hurt more. They unlocked memories.
“Why did Black go to Canterbury? Did he intend to kill Pettigrew all along?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did he see Pettigrew as a threat?”
“S-sirius. Where are you—can I go with you?” Peter stuttered, but broke off uncertainly at the reproachful look on Sirius’ face.
“Remus and I have got some work to do,” he whispered coldly, “You’d just be in the way.”
“No. An annoyance sometimes, but never a threat.”
“And which way did he feel about Severus Snape when he tried to kill him? An annoyance or a threat?”
James shifted uncomfortably on the hard infirmary chair. “He’s really sorry, Remus. He didn’t mean to do it.”
“But he did do it.”
“He just panicked when Snape said that he saw you go to the willow and started dropping hints that he knew why you leave the school. He was saying that he’d get you expelled, and—”
“And Sirius thought it would be better to let me kill him.”
“And so you decided to kill him.”
“No, Sirius acted alone. I didn’t know what Sirius had done until the next morning.”
“Not very original with your stories, are you? You helped him five years ago and then claimed to be an unwitting accomplice. You helped him this year and claim to have been an unwitting accomplice again. But tell me, if you’re really not his accomplice, why are you still alive?”
“Back off, Sirius. I’ll get blood on your robe.”
“I don’t care, Moony. I like taking care of you, and believe me, right now you need you need it.”
“He was protective of me.”
Twelve-year-old Sirius putting himself between Peter and three sixth year Slytherins who had been taunting him. Padfoot growling and snarling at a troll that came too close to Prongs. Sirius rocking on a hammock with a black-haired infant lying on his chest.
“He was protective of all his friends.”
“But you’re the only friend he left alive. Why?”
Sirius fell back against the white sheets, his eyes glittering brightly and his lips bruised dark-red from kisses.
“God, you’re fucking amazing, Moony.”
“I don’t know why.”
“You’re the only one left. Why?”
“Thirteen inches, two to go,” a quiet voice muttered.
Remus opened his eyes and stared at the infirmary ceiling for a moment before carefully turning toward the voice. Sirius was lying on the stone floor, books around him as he wrote on a parchment scroll.
“What are you doing down there?”
Sirius looked up with a smile. “Didn’t want you to wake up alone.”
“Why didn’t he kill you too?”
“You’re brilliant, James!” Sirius tousled James’s hair affectionately and then launched himself at Remus on the neighboring bed. “Think of it, Moony! If we’re animagi, we could keep you company during the full moon. You’d never be lonely again. That’s the worst part, isn’t it? It would be for me. I hate being alone.”
“He did. I’m alone; it’s the same as being dead.”
By the time Frank returned, Remus had almost forgotten his vow to return. His entire reality had shrunk to that small room and the memories he was reliving in it. Seeing Frank enter with Dumbledore and a woman he did not recognize, Remus didn’t know whether to feel relief that rescue might be at hand, or disappointment that there was now no hope that the wizard from Werewolf Control would slip the silver blade between his ribs and into his heart.
“Don’t try to interfere, Headmaster,” said the witch, Venetia. “He isn’t your student anymore, and you can’t cover up for him like you did when he was sixteen.”
“We’re not here about Remus’s actions. We’re here about yours. You’re torturing him with silver, and it will stop.”
The witch who entered with Dumbledore placed a parchment on the table in front of Venetia. “This is from the desk of the Head of the Being Division of the Ministry of Magic. It reminds you that werewolves in human form are to be chained with steel chains during questioning and confined behind steel doors or steel bars at other times. At no time may silver be used to enforce confinement or to obtain a confession.”
The Werewolf Control Officer grumbled as he stood and moved behind Remus, “God-damn bleeding heart bureaucrats pampering the ruddy monsters. Then when it’s their families with their bellies ripped open, it’s our fault.” He touched the silver manacle with his wand as he released it with the ironic word “lock.”
Remus let his arm fall to his side. He wasn’t ready to see his wrist.
The witch who had brought the parchment now took a seat at the table. “My name is Belinda Owens. With Mr. Lupin’s permission, I will be acting as his solicitor. I would like to know what charges, if any, you are making against him.”
“We’re still investigating,” Venetia replied.
“What evidence do you have against him?”
“We believe that he—”
“Nothing,” the scar-faced wizard interrupted. “These two have questioned him for two hours and all they know now is what they knew when they started. He’s Sirius Black’s friend and he’s a werewolf. I suggest we call it a day with this one and get back to work rounding up real Death Eaters.”
“I’m not ready to release him,” Venetia said hotly.
“I can hold him in our pens through the next full moon,” the Werewolf Control Officer said. “That’ll give you almost a month. If you want to keep him longer than that, find some evidence. I’ll go make the arrangements. Bring him across the street in half an hour.” He swept out of the room.
“Shall we get back to work, boss?” the scar-faced wizard asked as he held the door open. Venetia looked from person to person in the room, realizing that she was now the only person in the room convinced of Remus’s guilt.
“Idiots,” she muttered and left the room as well.
“I’d like to have to some time alone with Mr. Lupin,” Belinda Owens said to Dumbledore and Frank.
“Of course. I need to leave anyway,” Dumbledore said. He looked at Remus sadly and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry for your loss, Remus. I know how much they all meant to you. I’m afraid that I’m quite busy today making arrangements for Harry, but I will be back tomorrow.”
“Have you found a good home for him?” Remus asked.
“He’ll be safe,” Dumbledore replied. “Let me see your arm, Remus.”
Remus lifted his arm onto the table, careful to keep the burned skin from touching anything. The wound was red, and slick, and raw. Strips of skin hung loose. The solicitor inhaled sharply at the sight of it.
“Go to the apothecary, Frank,” Dumbledore said, “and get some Silver Salve. He needs this burn treated immediately.”
“No,” Remus said. “Leave it.”
“If we treat it now, we might be able to minimize the scarring.”
“I want the scar. I need it.”
“Remus, you don’t need to punish yourself. Sirius deceived you; he deceived all of us.”
“I’m not punishing myself. I just—”
Remus needed to bite but Padfoot’s weight pressed down on his neck and shoulders, holding him down. The urge subsided, he stopped struggling, and the weight lifted. The warm fur stayed close; Padfoot lay down beside him. Remus curled toward him, grasping handfuls of black fur, breathing in the familiar scent, sobbing in relief. Relief that the pain was ebbing. Relief that Padfoot was there. There was a momentary sliding sensation in his hands, as silky fur became the woven fabric of a robe. Sirius turned slightly, toward Remus, so they now lay face to face. He wrapped strong arms around Remus’s trembling body.
“Shh, Moony, it’s all over. It’s morning. It’s all over. Shh, I’m here.” Sirius’s voice was low and quiet and warm. It washed over Remus and washed some of the lingering ache away with it.
“I just need it to remind me to hate him.”
* * * * *
Sirius looked up at Remus with the question in his eyes.
“Don’t ask, Sirius. Not tonight.”