Prompt: Remus Lupin after he finds out that Sirius has 'betrayed' the Potters, that Pettigrew is 'dead’
Word Count: 1270
Author's Note:Written for hp_angstfest, special thanks to kethlenda for the beta.
"Living with Ghosts"
He said I tasted like rain.
Remus awoke to the sound of quiet sobbing. He tried to lift his head to find the source of the noise but the movement caused the room to spin. He shifted his legs, attempting to free them from confinement, but every muscle of his body protested at the movement.
Moon. Last night. It must have been bad.
He closed his eyes and a groan escaped his lips as he grimaced in pain. A shadow moved across his closed lids and when he opened them again, a red-eyed Madam Pomfrey stood over him with a spoon in one hand and a green bottle in another.
"What…" he began, but when he opened his mouth, Madam Pomfrey unceremoniously stuck the full spoon in and reflexively he swallowed, falling back onto his pillows and into an instant, dreamless sleep.
It was dark the next time he awoke. The high torches along the stone walls threw dancing shadows across the white spread of the bed. He was in the infirmary at Hogwarts, but why?
Where was Sirius?
Remus opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling in puzzlement. Where was he? How had he gotten there? Who had been crying and why? He turned his head and Dumbledore stood there, his purple hat in his hands.
And when he learned, when he was told of what Sirius did, how he very effectively murdered James and Lily, his heart momentarily froze in his chest. He excused himself politely, almost falling as his limbs refused to cooperate. He barely made it to the washroom, and with a sudden lurch he vomited into the toilet.
After what seemed an eternity of leaning his forehead on the cold edge of the pot, he cleaned up and stared at the bruises and cuts scattered across his features. He pressed his hand over his face convulsively, swallowing the sob that threatened to overcome him.
When he returned to the infirmary he leaned on the bed, head bowed, body slumped in despair. "How long," Remus panted. "How long have I been here?"
"Three days. Don't be cross with Madam Pomfrey for administering the sleeping draught. She only wanted to give you a chance to heal a bit before learning…"
A brief silence passed between them and when Dumbledore began to speak again, his voice came to Remus as if from a great distance. His entire body was numb, his fingers pulling and tapping on the knees of his bottoms. Finally, Remus put his hand up, silently asking Dumbledore to stop. If he heard anymore, if he learned all of what Sirius had done to Peter and all those innocent Muggles, he surely thought he'd go mad.
His former headmaster left, and Remus sank to the floor.
When he felt he was going to drown if he didn't get up, he moved to the window and watched the rain fall from the sky and spider web against the window. How long he stood there, watching the sheets fall, watching the rows and rows of dark clouds passing above his head, he'll never know.
All too soon, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. He watched as the sun rose over the trees in the forest and bathed his face in warmth.
Even though the infirmary was aglow with light, he saw nothing but shadows. He wanted fog to roll onto the grounds, thick, blinding, gray fog like the smoke swirling through his head.
For the next few hours he wavered between guilt for believing Sirius could have done it to extreme anger that made him wish he could tear his heart out just so he could stop feeling it break.
Another from Dumbledore and he realized he never knew Sirius at all. It was nearly impossible for him to listen to Dumbledore speak as he tried to answer all of Remus's unspoken questions. Remus stared at the floor; head in his hands as he fought the urge to spit in the eye of the one person who he knew could never lie to him.
A clasp on the shoulder and with a few final words Remus ignored, Dumbledore was gone. The sun had sunk below the horizon and darkness settled over the room.
And still Remus sat, head in his hands, elbows on his knees.
After an eternity, he rose and once again entered the infirmary bathroom. He turned the hot water on full blast, watching unseeing as the water and steam fell from the shower head. He stripped and stepped into the stall, wishing the heat from the water could scrub away the feeling of Sirius's hands on his body.
He stared at the ceiling and remembered Lily's laugh as she spun with Harry in her arms, ginger hair flying out behind her like a gold speckled flag. He remembered red and amber leaves falling from above as he walked along the path with Sirius to Hogsmeade in sixth year. How the hair above Padfoot's right eye always fell into his face and when Remus reached out to brush it aside, Sirius's breath caught and their eyes met, and Remus knew without a doubt he had fallen in love.
How could that man, that boy betray them all?
He should have been there. He should have been the secret keeper. If James and Lily had made him secret keeper instead of Sirius, they would have still been alive.
But how can he think like that? How can he blame James for trusting Sirius? They had been best friends since first year. The remorse he felt for not being there tore him up inside.
If it weren't for the moon, for his condition, he would have been. If it weren't for the wolf and the call of the moon, he could have been there, protecting them.
With a sudden move, Remus lashed out, the water splashing outside of the stall and onto the tiled floor. He kicked and punched at the stone wall with his bare feet and hands, not caring if he was left bruised and broken.
Why? Why had this happened? Why them? Why did Sirius betray them? Why kill Peter and not him? Why didn’t Sirius come after him? He had the perfect opportunity; he knew Remus was the most vulnerable just after transforming back to human.
He yearned for ten minutes alone with Sirius. For the first time in his entire life, he wished he could transform at will. He wanted him to look Black in the face and confess his guilt so Remus would feel no remorse when he changed into the wolf and ripped into his guts.
The pain he was feeling right then he wanted to give back to Sirius one thousand fold. And where was the son of a bitch? In Azkaban, no doubt dreaming his black soul away as the Dementors floated back and forth in front of his cell. He wished he could see Black kissed, to see the Dementors suck out his soul. Even that was too good for him. He needed to be tortured, to feel the pain he caused. To see the destruction he left behind.
Remus pushed his face underneath the hot spray, and finally yielded to the convulsive sobs that shook him to his core.
When the months passed and he became more and more alone, he'd learn how cold it was living with ghosts. And with every breath he took, he'd breathe in their scent, and in wishing the memories would fade, he'd clearly recall every little bit.
And only years later, he'd learn how effectively he'd been sold by a lie.
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