|[OOC: Kirby and I did this through email and AIM, hence the style/viewpoint bounces and the format.]
||[Jul. 30th, 2006|10:07 pm]
It was the Standard Procedure of the household, such as the household was. The evening before a full moon, Remus would take a long nap while Mrs. Lupin prepared and warded the cage. When they were traveling (which was really more often than not), she kept it shrunken in her suitcase until it was time. On Sunday, after a light, late lunch, Remus went directly to bed while she carefully grew the thing and arranged it outside the small hut.
Sirius wasn't wont to follow his suspicions when he saw Mrs. Lupin out the window, arranging the cage. He could imagine what it might be for--a dark, twisted corner of his mind did not have to imagine--but he wanted to be sure. There was always the chance, after all, that they had some sort of beast control problem.
Not that Remus wasn't...was...oh, bugger.
Creeping along the hallway, Sirius came to Remus' door. He was loathe to wake the sleeping boy, who'd lost color rapidly over the past few days, but there were curiosities that needed to be satisfied. "Remus," he hissed, shaking his shoulder gently, "Remus, wake up."
"Mrmf," Remus stated eloquently, burying his face into the crook of his arm. "What is it? Is it time?"
"No," Sirius said, softly--he was very sorry, now, for having shaken Remus awake. "No, it's just, there's a cage outside and I was...wondering..."
Remus sat up, blinking the sleep from his eyes to stare at Sirius. "Well, of course there is," he said bluntly. "Did you need something?"
Wondering if it was possible to actually drown in embarrassment, Sirius shuffled his feet. "No. No, of course not. Go back to sleep. Shouldn't've woken you up."
"Nah, 'm already up." He glanced at his watch. "Only about half an hour left anyways, so Mum would've gotten me up in about fifteen minutes. You're... you've never seen it before, have you?" Remus sat up straighter, feeling absurdly shy all of a sudden. "You... probably shouldn't watch. It's a bit... eurgh."
Feeling slightly more at ease, Sirius snapped his head to look at Remus. "Don't be stupid," he said, shortly, hoping his false bravado sounded more convincing to his friend. "You don't need to warn me off from you. 'S nothing I can't handle. Besides, we'll all see once we're, you know...successful."
"It's a bit embarrassing, anyways," Remus amended with a slight sigh. "And messy. And... just generally not something I'd ask you to watch. Can't stop you, obviously, but I think I might prefer if you just try... try to ignore it?"
Mrs. Lupin knocked gently on the half-open door, poking her head in. "You're up? Good boy. Fifteen minutes. Sirius, would you like to play chess with me to pass the time?" Her smile was tight and tired, her eyes betraying that brokenness that only a mother could ever understand. As always, it sent a bit of a shiver down Remus' spine; he hated knowing that it was his own fault that his mother looked like that.
"I..." Sirius tried to imagine what he would normally answer to such a request. It was hard over the roaring of righteous anger pounding in his ears: it wasn't fair, damn it, Remus' guilty stare was making him profoundly uncomfortable and Sirius hated things that couldn't be put to rights by a well placed punch and some bellowing.
He settled for, "Of course, Mrs. Lupin," knowing it wasn't as cocky as he'd usually be, but also well aware that if he tried for more he'd betray his clenched back teeth and twitching fingers.
"Wonderful," Mrs. Lupin hummed vacantly. "Remus, shouldn't you be getting ready?"
"Yes, Mum," he sighed. "Er. Sirius... d'you mind? I have to get undressed."
Sirius did mind, he minded rather alot, but he knew this wasn't Remus' fault. He shook his head and stepped out the door with Mrs. Lupin close behind him.
It was a quiet, somewhat calming ritual: Remus took each piece of clothing of slowly, and folded it neatly before setting it aside. He did a few stretches, shivering slightly (partly from the cold, and partly from the almost-tangible sense of pain in his future), then neatened up the room and put away his wand.
Outside the door, Sirius twitched. He contemplated punching the wall, but knew it would upset Remus, and the truth was he didn't want to upset Remus, which was unsettling because he wasn't used to not wanted to upset anyone, save himself. Normally upsetting people was brilliant fun, even his friends, because they always forgave him in the end.
Without knowing why, Sirius found himself shoving back through the door after a few moments.
"Sirius!" Remus yelped, grabbing the bedspread to cover himself. "I'm naked!"
"Put pants on, then," Sirius said, turning away, pretending his body wasn't reacting.
"If I put pants on," Remus bit out, trying to contain his general irkedness, "They will get ripped to shreds in five minutes. Please, Sirius, what do you want so I can get this bloody over with?"
"I...fuck all," Sirius replied, his voice rough, and he strode forward and gripped Remus in a monumentally ridiculous hug.
"I am naked" Remus yelped again, completely failing to struggle like he should have.
"I don't care, shut up," Sirius answered, feeling powerful and stupid. "Just, please, don't talk. For a minute."
"A minute is literally all I have, Sirius." As if to confirm the point, Mrs. Lupin knocked firmly on the door.
"Remus!" She called. "Are you ready yet?"
"Just a second, Mum!" he called back, half-panicked. "Sirius, honestly, now's not the time!"
Stepping back, Sirius nodded. "Ok. Alright. I'm sorry. I...good lu...you..."
"Right, great, don't watch, see you in the morning, bye!" Remus called as he yanked away, dashing from the room and, without pause, into the snow outside. Mrs. Lupin was ready and waiting with the padlock, which she clicked shut exactly as the tip of the full moon peeked over the jagged horizon, and Remus' sharp cries split the dusky evening.
Sirius had always been good at disobeying. He ran to the window at Remus's first noise, and...froze...
It was as if time was standing still, with the exception of Remus, of Remus who wasn't anymore. The howls were in his voice but they..weren't...and his body was...there were pieces of him sticking out and, oh, and ripping and sweet Merlin, oh, oh, that was too...his skin was turning and there were teeth and, and who knew fur could be that viciously grotesque and bones don't bend that way, Remus was going to die--
Sirius did not notice his hand go through the windowpane, nor did he feel the blood trickle between his fingers.
The scent of blood on the air was the first and only thing that caught the wolf's attention, once it was more wolf and less half-way abomination. Immediately, it threw itself against the bars of the cage, shoulder first, with a harsh bark and the crack of bones upon impact. The force would have toppled the cage, had the wards not been laced so thickly through the iron bars, and if the first blow hadn't done it, the second and third certainly would have. All that was left of Remus was a small whimper in the back of his own head as the wolf threw itself again and again at the cage, crazed by the scent of blood and human flesh.
"Why is he..." And then Sirius looked down and saw what he'd done, knew that was was left of Remus when the sun rose would be his fault, and couldn't watch anymore. He wrenched his hand inside and spelled the window clean, whimpered a " Reparo" and ran for the toilet.
He slammed the bathroom door and locked it, barely making it to the toilet before he was wretching. Sirius rather hoped his heart would escape through his mouth, which tasted of bile and stupidity and guilt.
After an hour or so, the crashing stopped, and the wolf took up prowling around the perimeter of the cage on its three uninjured legs. The hopping sort of limp would have been humorous and pitiful had the animal not also taken to growling fiercely at the slightest hint of motion outside its prison, stopping occasionally to howl ferociously. Mrs. Lupin watched the whole time from the kitchen window, a cup of coffee clutched tightly in one hand, her knuckles white. Eventually, it settled down to lay in a corner of the cage, burrowing slightly into the snow to nurse its dislocated shoulder. The moon set a few hours before sunrise, and Remus screamed shrilly the second he regained control of his own lungs.
Sirius could not remember when he stopped heaving. He didn't recall pulling shards of glass from his torn hand, either, though he must have done, because they were next to him now on the bathroom floor. He heard Remus' scream, shrill and awful, and was up and out the door before he could think of the proper way to apologize for the idiocy that felt like betrayal.
When his mother and Sirius got the cage open, Remus was curled into a ball and whimpering, face tearstained. He had his injured shoulder (a right mess, bloodied and swollen and very obviously arranged at a Wrong Angle) cradled tenderly, and his voice was hoarse when he spoke.
"What happened?" he rasped, as Mrs. Lupin lifted him gingerly to his feet. "Worse this time... did something go wrong?"
Sirius closed his eyes and moved to the side of Remus that wasn't brutallly damaged. "Here," he whispered, "let's get you inside and I'll tell you later."
Remus was smaller then Sirius, had been since Sirius's growth spurt at the end of third year. The difference had never been so apparent as it was when Sirius gently took most of Remus' weight upon himself, careful to avoid putting pressure on the bruises. "You ok?" he asked, roughly: he'd be damned if he'd hurt his friend any more.
"I need tea and sleep and a bit of patching up, and I'll be just fine," Remus muttered, gratefully sagging against Sirius as Mrs. Lupin trailed close behind. He managed a faint smile up at Sirius, striken briefly with slight marvel at the difference in size. "Thanks," he sighed. "s'Very helpful of you."
Sirius fumbled for a response and found he had no idea what to say. He nodded and smiled tightly back at Remus, concentrating on what he knew: physical comfort, at least, came easily to him. He walked them inside and turned so Remus' head wouldn't hit the doorframe. Reaching the bedroom, Sirius leaned over, helping Remus into his bed and sliding the blankets over him before Mrs. Lupin had the chance.
[Last bit of OOC: Hmm. Having done this, the viewpoint switches are quite irritating. Am, however, too lazy to fix it. My apologies.]