Lots of love xx
The wooden knot has five turns, and he’s counted them ten times just to make sure. He tilts his head to the right, very slowly, and watches it morph. A circle turning into a circle, turning into a circle. This is a complex pattern. Remus appreciates this: the way it keeps on turning into exactly the same thing; it doesn’t change.
The curtains are drawn. He half yanked them down a couple of hours ago, throwing dust everywhere. He has a chipped mug. Sirius broke it when he knocked it off the table. Remus thumbs the break, pressing it until his skin turns white and he cuts himself. He doesn’t even notice. He wonders, absentmindedly, why his tea is so cold.
His bones feel as though they are grinding into each other. He stretches his neck and winces. It must be tonight, or tomorrow. It is soon, anyway. He decides someone had better make some sort of decision for him, if anyone remembers. Perhaps he could just lock himself in his room. No, no, then he might tear up the bed, and he knows he must not do that. Nor risk the photographs. Perhaps he can go somewhere far away. Perhaps the Shrieking Shack.
But he doesn’t want to leave. He’s not even sure he can walk.
“The best way, Moony, is always to fly.”
Remus whimpers and brings his legs up onto the chair, resting his head on his knees. He remembers the vertigo, Sirius jeering and the motorbike splitting the clouds in two. He wonders if he could borrow it from Hagrid sometime. Just to look at it. Just to see.
He barely looks up as a yellow light flashes from the fireplace before the room sinks back into darkness. He remembers spells. He remembers green like a blinding headache.
Shivering, the word ‘decorum’ gently nudges him. He lets his legs slide back so his feet touch the floor. He can just make out Snape’s outline, a man paused clumsily trying to assess the situation. Remus would laugh if this were in any way funny. Snape clears his throat and Remus manages some sort of nod, though he doesn’t know what he means by this at all. People nod, don’t they? His ribcage contracts and he inhales through he nose. Right now Sirius would be… no, no. He looks again at the wooden knot on the kitchen table. He counts the circles.
“I, erm,” Snape comes into view, hovering before deciding to sit down in the chair opposite. “I brought -” he indicates the container in his hand and places it on the table. Over the top of the wooden knot. Remus feels indignant. He forces himself to look up.
Snape visibly winces. “Merlin, you look like death.”
There is a horrible pause, and then Remus hears himself laugh weakly, only it sounds so stupid that he forces himself to stop. “Thank you, Severus,” he is surprised by how hoarse his voice sounds. “Fabulous sentiments, as usual.”
Snape bristles. “Yes, well.”
There is an emotion lurking behind Snape’s eyes that could become concern. Remus doesn’t like concern. He breaks the silence before ‘concern’ can form words of its own:
“What’s this?” he indicates the container. “If it’s fire whiskey you may just be my new best friend,” he leans across the table and whispers. “Molly likes to hide it from me; she thinks it’s ‘unhealthy.’”
“Well, I hate to disappoint,” Snape pushes the flask towards him. “But, it’s your Wolfsbane; I thought you’d need it again now that… well.” He trails off, leaving the sentence hanging between them. A non-descript Sirius.
Remus drums his fingers on the table just a little too hard. “That’s very considerate. But I don’t want it.”
Snape lets out a snort. “Don’t be absurd.”
Remus’s eyes flash dangerously. “I think you'll find that I'm the best judge of the situation, Severus. I'll be fine.”
“I hate to break it to you, but I'm rather worried about the rest of the people who live here. You might be fine with locking yourself in your room and tearing yourself to pieces, but I'm not sure everyone else will be too happy with the idea of a fully fledged werewolf roaming riot. Besides,” Snape forces a half smile: “I'm not going to stand back and let you scar yourself into oblivion.” When Remus doesn't look as though he is going to respond, Snape takes his chances and steps into no man's land. “I don't think Sirius would have wanted that either.”
Something snaps inside Remus and he stands up so quickly his chair clatters to the ground. His wand is in his hand before he knows what he is doing. “What did you say?” Snape stands up with his arms raised in surrender. “What the hell did you just say?”
Snape speaks cautiously: “I just don't think that half killing yourself is the answer to this.”
“To what?” Remus practically spits the words. There is a growl half-formed, dying to get out, but he swallows it. He wants to flatten Snape. He's never wanted to hurt anyone so much in his life and he isn't terrified; he feels exhilarated. “Come on – say it!”
Snape says nothing.
“What can you possibly say to make me feel better?” Remus can hear himself getting hysterical. “You weren't there! You were quite happy to pass the message on to Sirius here and then hide out at Hogwarts until it all blew over!”
“You knew I couldn't turn up – for Godric's sake, Remus, I'd have had to fight against you!”
But Remus isn't listening and he finds himself shouting just so that he can block out the sound of Sirius. Sirius healing Buckbeak and talking to Severus via Phineas. Sirius saying they had to get to the ministry because Harry thought Voldemort had captured him. Sirius refusing to stay behind, despite Remus pleading, and now tonight he has to morph and he's going to be alone. He doesn't have an animagus; he doesn't have his Sirius; he doesn't have -
“What is going on?”
Molly's voice cuts through the tension and Remus snaps back to the present. Hovering behind her stands Harry, looking confused.
Remus looks down and finds he's grabbed hold of Snape's robes. He lets go, his hands shaking.
“I was...” he trails off, completely unaware of how he was going to end that sentence. His anger recedes back into itself: circle into circle. Adrenaline subsided, he stumbles backwards and Snape puts out an arm to stop him falling.
“Come on,” Snape guides him to a chair. “Sit down.” Remus collapses into it.
Snape looks up at Molly. “I was just coming by to drop off Lupin's Wolfsbane. He needs to take it tonight, ok?” He raises his eyebrows pointedly.
Molly nods, wringing her hands as she looks on at Remus who has gone back to staring at the table. She struggles to find her voice. “Yes,” she says, “I mean, of course.” She nods a second time, stepping briskly into the room, aware that she needs to take some sort of control. “Thank you, Severus.”
Snape nods curtly, his hand still resting on Remus's shoulder. He considers staying longer, but can think of nothing more to say. He gives Remus's shoulder a squeeze and makes towards the kitchen door. “I'll go out the front.” He grabs Harry by the shoulder and pushes him out into the corridor. “Let the man have some space, Potter.”
Harry shrugs him off. “Oh, yes, because you looked as though you were doing a fantastic job of making him feel better.”
Snape closes the door behind him and glares down at the fifteen year old with renewed hatred. Harry stares back, equally angry. From behind the door, they can hear Remus breaking down. Harry looks away, embarrassed. Snape straightens his robes.
“Out of my way, Potter.”
Harry frowns, pushing his glasses up his nose. The green makes Snape's stomach knot uncomfortably and he feels claustrophobic. He leaves Grimmauld Place as quickly as possible, and runs down the street, exposed under the full moon.
At the fence, he tries to clear his mind to apparate. But all he can see is Lily, and now Sirius. Voldemort laughing somewhere far, far away, and the Dark Mark burning a hole in his arm.