Remus stared down at his hands, feeling terrible. His friend, the best friend he had ever or would ever have, sat beside him, silent for once, tugging nervously at a lock of long, dark hair.
“I can’t, Sirius,” he said finally, not looking at him.
Sirius slowly took in Remus’s words, allowing them to sink into his feelings and change them for a long minute of silence.
“But–,” he began tentatively.
“No,” said Remus, much more firmly.
“But why not?” cried Sirius, jumping to his feet, suddenly all energy and action, responding in the only way he knew, not with his true emotions but with defensive anger.
“Because,” Remus stammered, anger rising in him as well. “Because it isn’t safe. I’m not safe.”
“Oh, so now you’re not safe?” Sirius barked a fake laugh. “Seven years of running round with you and now, now that I want–,” he faltered, “want this, you’re not safe?” The incredulity in his voice was almost tangible.
“It was different at school,” Remus protested, also getting to his feet. “We had Dumbledore to look out for us. If anything had happened–.”
“He would have found one of us dead half way to Hogsmeade three days later,” Sirius shot back. “What’s the difference? You’re being stupid, Remus!”
"I’m being stupid?” It was Remus’s turn to let out a stunned laugh. “Of course, it’s incredibility stupid of me to want to protect you in the only way I can; I’ll stop immediately.”
"I’m just trying to keep you from getting killed,” Remus snapped suddenly.
"I don’t bloody care that you’re a werewolf, alright?” Sirius shouted.
“Just because you don’t care doesn’t make this good idea.” Remus ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. “The whole thing is ridiculous anyway. Sirius, please, be reasonable.”
“We’re at war, Remus. “Reasonable” is out the bloody window. Look at James and Lily; they did it.”
Remus was silent for a moment, his scarred face strained with pain and frustration. He turned away from Sirius and folded his arms tightly across his ratty old jumper, as if trying to physically hold himself together. When he spoke, his voice was quiet and shaky.
"Do you know what Dumbledore’s ask me to do?” he said in a voice what was barely audible.
Behind his back, Sirius shook his head. He had no idea and Remus knew it.
“He’s asked me to go undercover. To go in with the others. To try to find out what’s happening or to convince them it’s wrong, I don’t know yet. I won’t be able to see anyone, though. And–.” He tried to keep speaking, but his voice caught in his constricted throat and he just shook his head.
"Go where?” asked Sirius slowly, fear creeping into his voice. “Go in with who?”
“The others of my kind.”
There was a moment in which Sirius did not understand.
“No,” he said, his voice almost as quiet and shaky as Remus’s now, but far more desperate. “No, you can’t. Remus, he can’t make you do that.”
"He’s not making me do anything,” Remus replied, his voice steadier by a few degrees. “Just like he didn’t make you and James go off like that. And I’m sure he didn’t make Caradoc go after you. People do what Dumbledore asks them to because it’s the right thing to do, because they want to protect the people they love.”
Sirius stared at him.
"You said yes,” he whispered.
“When are you–?”
"Are you were going to tell me when exactly?” demanded Sirius, his voice rising sharply.
“I didn’t want to have a row before I left,” Remus said softly, his eyes on his worn-out shoes.
“Remus,” Sirius barely managed to say. “You’re gonna die, aren’t you?”
“I don’t know,” Remus replied.
There was horrible moment of silence.
"I mean, you’ll be fighting, too,” he continued.
“But I’ll be with people. I’ll have James and everyone. And you’ll be all alone.”
“For the first time in my life I won’t be alone.” Remus swallowed, still hardly able to speak. “I’ll be with others.”
“You’ll be with psychotic wolves!”
“Just like me.”
“You’re not like them!” Sirius shouted.
"You don’t know that,” Remus said with dark bitterness.
“Yes. I do.”
There was so much conviction in his voice that Remus believed him. That was one of the amazing things about Sirius: he had the power to make Remus not hate himself for a few moments.
“How long will you be gone?” Sirius asked at length.
“I doubt I’ll be back before it’s over. There’ll be no way for me to get out. Unless they all change sides, which won’t happen.”
Sirius nodded wordlessly.
“I should go,” said Remus.
Sirius stood in silence while Remus went into their bedroom to fetch the small bag he’d packed. When he returned Sirius was still standing there, frozen to the spot.
“What about when you get back?” he asked slowly.
"What?” asked Remus, completely thrown off.
"When it’s all over, what will you say then?”
Remus looked at Sirius and saw a sparkle of hope shining in his gray eyes. He tried to look into their future. What would happen to them? If he was realistic (what Sirius would call pessimistic), he could see nothing. His true loyalties would be discovered by the other werewolves and he would be literally ripped to pieces. Sirius would probably be murdered in some suicidal battle he saw as heroic. The best Remus could hope for was that they both survived. But what parts of them could survive something like this? He saw himself, even more scarred than he was now, older, bitter, tainted by the company of the others, maybe even driven into madness. He saw Sirius, the hope gone from his eyes, the laughter gone from his voice, a dead man walking.
“Remus?” asked Sirius drawing him from of his reverie. “How ‘bout it then? What’ll you say when you get back?”
Remus was silent a moment longer.
“I’ll say yes.”
Sirius smiled at him and Remus smiled back, both expressions were strained, but nonetheless genuine. Remus knew there was nothing left to say.
“I’ll see you then,” he said.
“Yeah,” said Sirius.
They each knew that any further words or actions would only bring tears.
Remus shouldered his bag into a more comfortable position and left the small flat, closing the door quietly behind him.