I looked at him and it was almost as if he felt the same way about me. But I kidded myself that it was just my emotions talking and that there was no way he felt the same. “Thanks, Sirius. That means more than you realise.”
He smiled at me. “No worries. Just don’t forget it, ok?”
The next morning, Sirius appeared at breakfast looking guilty and exhausted. “What’s up Sirius?”
He looked up and down the hall before leaning towards me and muttering, “I broke up with Lorelei. Things just weren’t going anywhere and I’m not sure I fancy her anymore.”
My heart leapt for me but then sank for Lorelei. “Oh, Sirius, I -”
“Oh, it’s ok...it’s just that she’s a bit upset with me...I’m sure things’ll be ok in a couple of weeks...”
He didn’t look too convinced. At that moment, I saw her enter the hall, catch sight of him and immediately leave, sobbing. I felt awful for her but then if it wasn’t working out... I looked back at Sirius who looked...uncomfortable, to say the least. “Anyway, enough about me!” he said, attempting a smile. “Did you sleep ok? You look shattered.”
I smiled wryly. “I always look shattered! You should know that by now...we’ve been -”
“Practically sleeping in the same bed for six years?” Sirius grinned, and I smiled at our long-running joke. “I know. And I’d like to think that I do know you rather better than even you would want me to by now, I’ll have you know!”
I grinned. “But you do look exhausted,” he pressed on. “Remus, I’m really starting to worry about you. Please tell me if there is something seriously wrong, won’t you, even if you don’t tell me what.”
I nodded. “I would...but it isn’t that serious...not to anyone but me, at any rate!”
“It’s serious to me when it’s making you ill,” he replied, helping himself to toast.
“I’m fine,” I insisted. “Please. Really.”
Later that day, Sirius approached me. “Remus...are you busy?”
I shook my head. “Good. Would you...will you come for a walk with me?”
I smiled. “Of course.”
We ended up heading down to the lake. Although it was September it was a particularly warm Saturday and there were a few people dotted around. Sirius led me to a secluded area and, once he had ensured there was nobody close-by, he cast the ‘muffiliato’ spell before turning to face me. “Remus...this is really hard for me to talk about but I need to talk to someone and I’d rather talk to you than the others.”
I gazed back at him and nodded for him to continue. “I...I need to talk to someone about...about this summer. What happened...before I moved to James’.”
He paused and I waited for him to continue. “Remus, I can’t bear it,” he suddenly said. “So repulsive that my own family don’t want me?”
“Sirius!” I gasped, appalled. “Never, ever say that again. They are the repulsive ones. Not you. You know that. What they do isn’t right and you should be proud to stand against them.”
He smiled weakly at me. “See...this is why I can talk to you. You don’t try and tiptoe around the truth - you tell me what I need to hear and you tell me it bluntly.”
“I-I didn’t mean to be untactful -”
“No, it’s a good thing. And I’m grateful for it.”
He smiled at me and at that moment there was an unspoken understanding between us. At that moment, I knew the extent to which he trusted me and I felt guilty that I had not confided in him earlier. However, now was not the time for such epiphanies - he had just broken up with his girlfriend and needed some serious help with regard to his feelings about his family. A good friend would put his own feelings after his best friend’s and that was what I intended to do. “Sirius, I know you must be feeling lousy but you know that James, Peter and I - and Lily, of course - know that what you did was the right thing. We respect you for that and we’ll support you no matter what.”
Sirius looked away for a moment and when he looked back there were tears in his eyes. “I just can’t bear this, Remus. I feel so guilty for just arriving at James’ parents but it was the only place I could go...I - I would have come to you, but...” he trailed off and as the realisation hit me I felt sick with myself and terrible for not being able to be there for him.
“It was around the full moon.”
He nodded. “I’m sorry, Remy...I’m not blaming you, I know it’s not your fault, I just wanted you to understand the reason why I didn’t come to you in the first place.”
The disgust I felt at myself must have been evident because he shuffled towards me and put his arm round me. I looked at him. “I’m sorry, Sirius, I’m supposed to be comforting you, not the other way around.”
“No, it’s ok. I know how much it affects you. I’ve seen how you react to it for six years. It’s just...is it getting worse? It seems to affect you more now, much more than it used to.”
I grimaced. “No, it’s no worse. I just...” I trailed off; how was I supposed to tell him that he was the reason I felt so embarrassed and ashamed of the way it made me now?
“Anyway. Back to you,” I said, forcing my thoughts away, although still almost pleasantly aware of his arm around my shoulders, “You know how much James’ parents love you. You’re like a son to them and I bet they were honoured that you went to them.”
“They’ve done so much for me. I could never repay such kindness, although of course I’ll always try to.”
He looked at me and smiled, but it was a vacant smile and suddenly that awful look of terror flashed across his face, just for a moment. I shuddered and that seemed to bring him back. “What have they done to you?” I asked softly, touching a healing scar above his eyebrow.
Until now, I hadn’t really appreciated his physical wounds but now I was up close I could see that they were pretty bad. He laughed bitterly. “My face isn’t the worst of it.”
I shivered to think that his own family were the ones who had done this to him and put my arm around him. “Cold?” he asked.
“Oh...no, it’s not that. Actually, it’s a pretty nice day today.”
He nodded, agreeing with me, but I could see that in his mind he had returned again to that night. “Sirius...don’t let them get you down. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is but...that’s what they want. Don’t let them know it’s getting to you.”
He nodded again. “Yeah...you’re right. And thanks, Remus. You’re a good friend.”
“I’m always here. Don’t ever forget that. Whenever you need me I’ll be here.”