autumn stories: 1973 (year 3), the view from here

Step into my parlour, said the werewolf to the boy…. Rated PG.

Remus had always liked the fact that there were windows in the Shrieking Shack. True, they were high up the wall so the wolf couldn’t escape through one (although he was sure they were Unbreakable as well), but they let in the moonlight, which was calming for the wolf, and they let in the light of dawn. At home when he returned to himself he had nothing but darkness; here, he could watch the sky lighten, watch clouds and birds, pretend that he was outside as he lay on the floor bleeding.

Today there was a delicate lacework of frost on the glass. It caught the golden glow of the sun’s first rays and shone like some dragon’s hoard, the ransom of an elven princess from the Silmarillion. Remus lay, thinking these pleasant thoughts and trying to ignore the stabbing pains that shot through his chest and the horrible things he had done to his left arm. He was half-dozing, deep in his daydream, when the door creaked open. He thought, that’s odd, Pomfrey always comes after breakfast duties, and turned his head painfully.

“It’s freezing in here,” Sirius said. “You look terrible.”

Did you come here just to state the obvious, Remus wanted to say, irrationally angry to have Sirius force his way in when he was naked and broken; but of course he didn’t. He couldn’t. He raised his eyebrows. “You!” he whispered, and hoped it sounded sufficiently threatening.

“Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” Sirius said. “I brought you blankets, and a flask of hot tea, and a jumper and trousers, and a scone.” He dropped this pile of loot next to Remus, looking at him with a look that was trying very hard not to be worried, because of course he knew that would make Remus annoyed. “I don’t think we’d better attempt the clothes,” he said. “I can’t fix bones. But I can help you onto the blanket. Your lips are blue, you know.”

Remus sighed, and nodded—not assent so much as resignation. Even with Sirius being as gentle as he was capable of being, Remus still found himself making horrible, involuntary noises of pain. It was mortifying. And he got blood all over the Heir of the House of Black. He almost thought it was more trouble than it was worth, the blanket was scratchy under his back, but when Sirius folded it over his chest the warmth was practically a religious experience.

He looked at Sirius, pouring tea into a cup with shaking hands. “Cold?” he asked, pleased his voice worked. It was an apology, in a way.

“These walls don’t exactly keep out the wind, do they?” Sirius said, and it was true, Remus could see his black hair, growing out after the vicious cropping his parents had given it over the summer, moving in the draught. He stuck a drinking straw in the tea and held it for Remus. It was not quite hot enough to scald, but Remus felt the lemony warmth all down his throat and all through his insides.

“Windows,” he said, “look,” and then as Sirius obediently glanced upwards he felt embarrassed. House-proud of the Shrieking Shack, he derided himself, step into my parlour….

“That’s lovely,” Sirius said. “That’s what magic would look like if you could see it, all gold and silver and delicate;” and then he stopped speaking, reddening a little.

Ha, Remus thought, it’s his turn to be embarrassed. He felt a wave of a warm affinity sweep over him. “Sirius,” he said, and took refuge in being just a boy, “my scone.”

“Pig,” Sirius said affably, and broke off a thumbnail-sized piece. “Want me to chew it for you?”

“Not pig. Wolf. Bite you.”

“Bite this,” Sirius said, and stopped him from speaking with bits of scone.

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