He hurt. Every inch of his body ached and there was really nothing he could do about it. It was like this every month after the full moon, another day where he hadn't ripped his body to shreds during the change while his human mind warred with his wolf mind. Another day where he should feel lucky, but didn't.
There wasn't anything left for him to be thankful for the fact that he was still alive.
The ceiling of his room in the Shack was the same as always. The only surface not scratched and marred with long gashes of teeth and claws. That was why Remus never looked anywhere else the day after the change. He couldn't bear to see the signs of a monster unleashed. A monster that would have been shot dead had he chosen to roam the moors like any sane werewolf. Death would have been welcome to him.
But Remus was a coward, he reckoned. His desire for survival, even when everyone else was gone, was too great. He wouldn't give in to a quick death. Death scared him. So Remus kept his cowardice hidden from anyone he came into contact with. He was one of the brave survivors. One of the ones that hadn't put his wand to his temple and given up.
Even if he had wanted to.
Remus shifted, the springs of the bed creaking under his weight. So when the floorboards groaned under the approach of someone, he never heard it and was shocked when the mattress next to him dipped.
"Are you-" A cough. "How are you?" Harry.
"Alive and bemoaning the fact. You?"
Soft fingers brushed the hair off his forehead and Remus struggled to stay still. He didn't want Harry's pity. "The same. I-" Another cough. "I've been away too long."
Three years, five months and twenty-one days. Not that he had been counting. He had, yes, but only because the last time he had seen Harry had been the day Harry had ended the war. However he'd done so. No one was quite sure how, or if he had survived.
"You're not back from the other side then?"
Remus caught sight of Harry shaking his head out of the corner of his eye. The black locks were whipping around his face. It was obvious that Harry had let his already unruly hair grow out, not so that it was long, but so it resembled a mop. An attractive mop, but a mop nonetheless.
"Why, were you hoping for a friendly face to lead you there? Sorry, but it won't be me. I took off to the Continent. Learned to speak French. Didn't know that they spoke French in Switzerland, but apparently they do."
The corners of Remus's mouth turned up in a smile. "Les vacances sont amusant, n'est pas?"
"I'm not on a vaca-- It wasn't a vacation."
"I don't speak much more French than that. I could have asked if your pencil -- crayon, oui? -- is interesting. Don't ask me for past tense. Just what I picked up here and there."
"Oui." Harry's hand landed on his arm, but Remus still didn't turn to look at him. "Remus." He sighed. "How is everything?"
"Won't you look at me?"
Sighing, Remus turned his head, taking in the sight of an older Harry with a shaggy mane of hair and glasses that finally looked liked they fit his face as well as the wreckage all around him. He grimaced.
"I look that bad, do I?"
"No!" Remus sucked in a breath. "No. You shouldn't be here."
"Why? It's where Dumbledore said I'd find you."
"What?" Harry laughed. "Oh. No. She's the one that finally convinced me to come home. Said I shouldn't miss the birth of her son. I personally think she's having a girl, but she says she's not." Harry broke off. "She knew. Found me less than a week after I'd disappeared. Thought we could run away together, you see. Ron, he'd betrayed us both, but I didn't want to share my solitude. She's happy as a Muggle. We've kept in touch."
"She never said."
"Why would she? Prejudice is what she says destroyed the Wizarding World. She didn't want to live in a world more torn apart than the Muggle world. Magic, she once wrote to me, isn't a cure all for social disease. It's actually made it worse."
"Did you…" Remus paused trying to find the words. He had so many questions that he wanted to ask, needed to know the answers to, but he could only find the courage to ask the safe questions. At least he hoped they'd be the safe questions. "Did you live as a Muggle?"
"No. Merlin, no. I wouldn't go back to that. Hermione, she saw the good side of Muggles and the bad side of Wizards. I, on the other hand, saw the bad side of Muggles and the good side of Wizards. Usually." He shrugged. "We've had some interesting debates. All I can say is that it's a good thing that it takes so long for Muggle post to get from me to her and vice versa. Less intense fights that way."
Harry's fingers tightened in the cloth of Remus's shirt. His eyes were bright, and Remus thought longingly of the summer days he used to spend running about in the fields, Harry's eyes were just that colour. Remus was obviously becoming maudlin and he needed to put a stop to it.
"What about Harry Potter?"
For a moment, Harry's bright eyes clouded over, and Remus couldn't stop thoughts of summer showers where the whole world darkened, but he shook that thought away and focused instead on Harry's forehead and its lack of a scar.
"Harry Potter doesn't exist anymore. Henry Potterson does, though." Harry winked. "I didn't want to get rid of my monogrammed trunk." Harry reached out and ran his thumb along the line of Remus's jaw. "Why aren't you asking the question that I see in your eyes?"
"I'm not going to like the answer. These questions are safer." Remus turned his head, pulling away from Harry's touch.
"You don't know that."
"Don't argue with me." Harry cupped Remus's cheek and forced him to turn his head and look at him. "I couldn't stay. I was a coward, you see. I didn't have the courage to face this world."
"Neither do I."
"And you die a bit each day. Die more every full moon. Merlin, Remus, the number of moons I've missed. I can't forgive myself for those."
"I can. You don't need to see an old man tear himself up. I know it became harder for you to watch after Severus died and I lost the Wolfsbane."
"It shouldn't matter to me if you've the Wolfsbane or not. It doesn't matter!" Harry clutched at Remus's sides, and pressed his face to Remus's chest. "I should have written to you, but I didn't, and…" Harry shook his head. "I'm still that idiot child sometimes."
"Twenty doesn't actually make you all that grown up." Remus lifted a hand and carded his fingers through Harry's hair. He hadn't meant to reach out for Harry, but he was, and the feel of Harry against him was like finding shelter during one of those summer storms. He sighed. Now he was waxing poetical. This was all Harry's doing.
"Close to twenty-one. A few more weeks."
"I never questioned your leaving." Remus ran his hand down what he could reach of Harry's back, taking in the fine quality of the fabric. Harry had done well for himself. Better than he would have if he had had an aging werewolf attached to him.
"You should have. I did. I wondered why I didn't come back or why I didn't bring you with me…"
"And," Remus prompted, never stopping his stroking of Harry's back. It was addictive, really, touching Harry again after so long. His muscles didn't even protest.
"And I still don't know why. Maybe I was scared of this too."
"Maybe cooler heads prevailed."
Harry lifted his head. "No." His fingers brushed along Remus's face. "No. I know this face. I've dreamt of this face. I've longed to see this face."
"Now you're waxing poetical." Remus grinned.
"A bit of poetry never hurt anything," Harry muttered in Hermione's voice. "I read that in Hogwarts: A History."
Remus snickered. "She's never been that bad."
"Oh, you think not?" Harry brushed his lips against Remus's and sighed. "Missed that."
If Remus could have, he would have pulled away, but as he was trapped underneath Harry, he didn't see much of a choice, so instead of struggling, he gave in and pressed his lips back to Harry's. It wasn't like he had much of a choice -- or wanted to fight -- anyway.
Harry didn't seem to be expecting the kiss and jerked back slightly before giving Remus a half grin and bending his head back down. He didn't touch their lips together, though. Just stayed a breath away, drawing out the anticipation of the kiss, and driving Remus slowly passively insane as only Harry could.
Pulling his gaze from Harry's eyes to Harry's lips, Remus unconsciously licked his own in anticipation for a kiss Remus thought he didn't have any right anticipating. Harry was pushing him into the mattress, his weight an unforeseen comfort, but it made Remus's position untenable. Or it would have if he didn't want to be in such an untenable position.
Harry though, was becoming a frustration. He was smirking, his lips turned up in an amused dark pink slash, his tongue just peeking out between his teeth.
"I thought you liked that. You used to like that." Harry quirked an eyebrow. "Rather I wasn't?"
Remus didn't know how to answer that question, but it turned out that he didn't have to. Harry lowered his head that slight fraction separating them and kissed Remus in that way that he had almost forgotten, but still dreamed of. Sweet pressure of lips and desperate rubbing of tongues, and for a moment, Remus worried that he'd slipped into fevered dreams, dreams that seemed more real than his normal ones, but he stopped caring when Harry broke away, mouthing his way across Remus's stubbled jaw to that place right behind his ear. Harry scraped that spot with his teeth and tortured it with his lips and if Remus had the energy to move, he would have turned his head to give Harry more access to that brilliant place, but he didn't have the energy and he knew that Harry knew that.
He was babbling in his head. Harry was at fault for this. Remus coughed, and tried to push himself up a bit so he could get a bit more control of the position and the situation, but his bare feet slipped on the sheets, useless, and his fingers refused to push Harry away. Instead they tangled in his hair and dragged his lips back to Remus's so that Remus could kiss and plunder, bruise and worship them.
The little voice that Remus had practiced ignoring for the last three years, five months and twenty-one days made itself known again. He had missed Harry.
"You're not going away again."
Harry muttered against Remus's neck. "No' without you, no." Or something that almost sounded like that. And even if Remus had been imagining those words, they were still heaven.