Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Blue eyes watched the pale, scarred hand with worry, for it was the only thing moving in the entire room. The right index finger tapped incessantly, never pausing its cadence. Muscle shifted each time under the thin skin. That hand showed true age, not the boyish lilt that still kept to his face. Or had, that is. There was scarcely anything left now. The amber eyes were deadened, half lidded and unseeing. The cheeks were gaunt and expression slack. Light brown and gray, though there seemed to be more gray now, fell uncaring around his face, the forgotten strands losing their curl with every passing day he sat there, for he hadn’t moved from that place in days, if not weeks. Always still, tapping on as he stared.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
It broke his heart to see him like that. This man, wolf, son he’d cared for since their first meeting. This broken soul, already marked by the harsh cruelty of life. But what hurt most is that he never realized how much this could hurt him, nor that it could happen at all. He longed to go back and change something, anything, if only to stop that dead look from ever appearing on his face.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
If he tried to listen, he could hear the soft sobbing outside the doorway, muffled as it was. The boy had come to try again. It was why he had come in here at all, but now he was regretting it. Seeing him so very still, no emotion to speak of, was worse than watching the boy cry. The poor child had tried to reach him, had thrown himself against him and cried and talked and then screamed when this did nothing. At last, he’d been dragged away by his friends, the trio split between grieving child and his two mournful supports.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
He could bear it no more. Without a word, he left the room, closing the door behind him. As the lock went into place, the hand stilled. Eyelashes fluttered slightly as the amber eyes redirected themselves. There was nothing there, no flicker of emotion or life at all. That had been cried out long before.
“Filthy, disgusting monster.”
Oh yes. That was true. How funny that his voice had a mind of its own to call him names when his mind had shut down completely. He would have smiled at that if he felt any mirth. He did not. Standing, he rested his hands against the sheets, leaning over the bed with his body shaking from malnourishment. The mediwitch stuffed as many potions down his throat as she could find, but one could only live off those for a short time. His body was giving out on him. Soon, he would reach the point of no return. The next moon would surly kill him.
He could see a pale face twist with dislike as it looked upon him, those inky eyes narrowed to near slits. He could see those long fingered hands kept tight to his chest, as if afraid to come in contact with his disease. He could see the miles of black cloth that hid him from the world. All of this, and then he could see the defensiveness creep up that same face as he was handed a steaming potion and told the taste had been improved. The fleeting glances, hesitation in speech. He recognized all of it, for he had done that as well.
“You couldn’t even protect your mate.”
And that was the real problem, wasn’t it? No matter that he hadn’t asked the other man, he had been the only one he would ever see as a potential mate. One more day to gather his courage and he might have been mated. One more day would never, ever come. He was too late. The evil had made sure of that.
Laughter bubbled up as he stared at the still face, one that would never awaken again. He laughed until his chest hurt, until tears flowed from his eyes. Odd. He’d thought he’d already cried himself dry. But no, he continued to cry and laugh in a horrible combination that only weakened him further. His knees failed him and he fell back into the chair, upper body crumpled over the bed as he buried his head in his arms and sobbed.
He awoke minutes, hours, perhaps days later but no one had disturbed him and the other was still unmoving. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, banishing the hated wetness from his face. His chest felt hollow inside, the kind of emptiness that takes over the entire soul if let be. This was long enough. He could bear it no more.
He searched his robes, finding the left most bottom pocket and pulling a wand from it. It was not his wand. No, they had taken his wand from him after his first fit. It was the boy’s wand, which they had not noticed he took. Fitting that this wand would take his life as it had taken his mate’s. He turned it to himself and stared down at the still body, eyes going over every feature, mapping already memorized flesh.
There was a sudden calmness in him. It was an acceptance of what was to be and what had been. There truly was no other answer. His mate would never awaken. He would not leave his side. Better he die this way than at the moon, where the transformation would rip his body to pieces. This way would be cleaner. All they would have to do would be drag his body away and burn it, containing his infection. He tried to speak, to say a last word for the still body, but he found nothing would come. Instead, he clutched the wand tighter and with his weak, broken voice, he spoke the words.
When light showed though his eyelids, he wondered why Hell was so very bright. Slowly, he opened his eyes, squinting at the white light that surrounded him. Was this Hell? Had he been forgiven his suicide and been taken to Heaven instead? He didn’t care. Whatever afterlife this was, he had to find his mate. Had to…
There were voices all around him, but he understood little. Some were familiar, though names escaped him, and others too mangled to even begin to guess. A warmth covered his hand and his clouded vision was suddenly filled with the face of his beloved. He smiled, crying with joy as the darkness took him once more to a place of unconscious drifting.
It lasted for hours, days, these brief flashes of a bright place between stints in the darkness. One light visit had been extremely painful but he remembered so little of it that it really didn’t mean anything. Each time he woke, the dark angel was there, standing over him like a statue on vigil. He didn’t care if he was in Heaven or Hell. His mate was there and that was all that mattered.
He didn’t know how long it had been since he’d been awake last. His eyes opened and the cloudiness of the world dissipated to give him a clear and stark vision of curtains. They surrounded him, cutting him off from whatever room he was in. A sick coldness made its way through him as he recognized the distinct shade of blue and the smell. The entire place was saturated with that mixture of smells he knew all too well. His mind had been cruel, giving him visions of the other. Now, he wasn’t even granted death to join him. A sob welled up in him and he turned to his side, body curling up on itself. The tears came fast and hot and he shuttered with weak cries. He didn’t want to be in this reality anymore. Why hadn’t those words worked? Why hadn’t the spell killed him?
The hospital pajamas he was dressed in had no pockets. They’d taken the boy’s wand from him. Why hadn’t It worked?!
That voice… He knew it better than any. He had lost it, he just knew it. That man would never speak again. Was the silence finally speaking to him instead?
“Remus, look at me.”
Slowly, so slowly, Remus turned onto his back and stared up at the man, face pale and eyes wide. There he was. He looked tired, worn, but he stood over him with as much strength as he’d always had. His black hair framed his face, wisps of it settling at his shoulders. That same black cloth covered him.
His own voice sounded weak and haunted in comparison to the rich, velvety tones of the Potions Master. Severus stared down at him with such a look of… utter blankness. It was a look he only gained when he was confused or distressed. Severus would never allow himself to lose so much of his hard won control to show emotions he didn’t wish to.
“You tried to kill yourself.”
So plainly he said it, no inflection at all. It made Remus hurt all over again. Severus continued to stare at him with that look on his face.
“They said you’d never wake up.”
Well. That sounded rather stupid now that the man was staring at him. Slowly, Severus sat down next to the bed and Remus noted the cane held tightly in one hand. The dark man stayed silent, staring at him as if waiting for something that the other didn’t know. Remus fidgeted on the bed under his piercing gaze.
“Had you been any less weak when you cast, the spell would have been fatal.”
Oh. So that was why.
Silence permeated the space between them. Remus broke the stare off and looked away. He felt the burn of shame through his body for ever doubting his maybe-mate. After this, Severus would never want him. His only chance at happiness had been lost from lack of faith.
“Albus said you stayed at my bedside the entire time.”
“That you fought anyone who tried to move you.”
Severus grew quiet once again. Remus refused to look at him. The same, blank mask, but there was something peculiar hiding behind those inky eyes. Then Severus leaned over him, one hand lifting to settle on Remus’ cheek.
Harsh words, but they were said in a quiet, helpless tone. Remus opened his mouth to speak, then suddenly found it otherwise occupied.