by Niki/Niki
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Harry Potter
Warning: No slash, but alludes to S/R partnership, not all that sneezy - sorry. (I'll do better next time, I promise.) Very emotional. Hard PG-13. Taken from personal experience.
Disclaimer: The story is from a personal experience. I was James. The characters are not mine. Just my muses.

"Honey, I'm home!" called Sirius, as he entered the flat that he and Remus shared.

A large, bulky salt and pepper haired man popped out of the bedroom. "Sirius, good. I'm so glad you're home," he said in a sickeningly sweet voice.

"Moody?" Sirius asked in surprise. "How did you get here before I did? I just saw you like an hour ago!" He paused while pondering this, and then his eyes darkened. "Is something wrong?"

"Well, unlike you - who likes to take pleasant strolls on his way home - I apparated. The owl arrived about 10 minutes after you left. And, seeing as I was unable to locate you - I apparated here."

Panicked at the lack of an answer to his second question, he repeated it. "Is it Remus? Is something wrong with Remus?" Sirius asked, pushing to get past. Moody put a hand on Sirius' shoulder and stopped him dead in his tracks.

"Wait! You should know what you're walking into. Remus is ... unwell. You should look at this like a hostage situation. Remember the training. Think of this like a Death Eater has Remus and you have to get Remus out of this alive, without killing the Death Eater."

Sirius looked at him like he was bloody crazy. Before waiting for further explanation, he had pushed past Moody and was walking into the bedroom. When he got there, he saw Remus in a pile of blankets on the floor. He looked terrible, bloodshot eyes, sickeningly pale skin, and obvious tear stains streaking down his face. Wisps of his auburn hair were matted to his face. He also noticed Lily edging around the perimeter of the room, and James sitting on the floor about six feet away from Remus. Both of their wands were on the dresser.

Remus was holding a cylinder metal piece in his had. Sirius had read about these in some of Remus' muggle books. He knew it was called a gun. He knew it was something muggles used to kill each other with. He had no idea how or why Remus had one. He also couldn't figure out why Remus had it pointed at his own chest. When he noticed Sirius come into the room, he pointed the gun at him instead.

"Sirius, stay there!" Lily snapped.

Sirius stopped in his tracks. He saw the wildness in Remus' eyes. His fever had obviously gotten worse since that morning, and he had been crying - a lot. "Remus, love, what is going on?" he asked as gently as he could muster, under the

circumstances."Put your wand down, Sirius! PUT IT DOW-!" his voice caught and he started coughing harshly. In that moment James moved closer about a foot, and Lily started to move herself off of the wall, towards Remus. Sirius did as he was told and put his wand down. A simple expelliamus spell would probably have fixed the situation, but he couldn't be sure the gun wouldn't be triggered and go off, and he couldn't take that risk. James went to grab the gun, but Remus' coughing calmed down just enough for him to pull it away.

"No!" he stated firmly, pulling it away and turning it on James. "I told you no, James. You don't know what it's like to be a monster! You don't know what it's like to be possessed! You don't!" He got more and more upset the more he vented. The gun shook in his hands and he started gasping for breath.

Lily gasped and Sirius' eyes widened. But, James sat still, his face firm. He showed no signs of fear. "I know. It's going to be okay. Now put the gun down," he said flatly.

"You don't know! I'm a burden. I'm a burden to my family, my friends, my mate and the cause!" He started to sob again. He sniffed, twice. "Hisshoo! Kisshoo! Hisshoo!" His body pitched forward each time, and James went for the gun again, but Remus turned his body, and the gun, away from him. "No...James. No...," he said through sobs. "Every month...EVERY month you all take turns caring for me. Your lives would be so much - hissshoo! Hissshhoo!" he wiped his nose off on the sleeve of his pajamas. "So much better," he gasped for air. "so so much better without me," he said quietly, as he turned the gun on himself again. He sniffed and closed his eyes. Tears ran down his face. He took some shaky breaths, trying to calm himself down. "Kisshoo!" he groaned, absent-mindedly.

"Bless you, mate," Sirius said, his voice full of compassion and worry.

Remus opened his eyes. They were filled with hopelessness and tears. Remus dropped his head into his hand.

Lily took two steps towards him, but he lifted his head and glared at her. The amount of anger and hurt in her eyes stopped her. He moved the gun like he was considering pointing it at her, but couldn't bring himself to do it. James looked like he was going beat Remus to a bloody pulp. Remus noticed. "James, Lily, Sirius - you know I'd never hurt you. I don't want to hurt any of your. Nobody but myself."

"But, that hurts us mate," Sirius said, quietly.

"That's not fair!" Remus exclaimed.

Sirius started moving forward slowly. "What's not fair, mate?"

"Hisshoo! Kisshsoo! Tisshoo!" Three harsh sneezes snapped him forward. The point of the gun pushed into his chest. James and lily visibly flinched. Remus sniffed wetly. "It's not fair that I hurt you by living and I'd hurt you by dying. It's just not fair."

Sirius paused at that, unsure of how to answer.

"Remus, sweetheart," Lily picked up softly, walking slowly towards the huddled heap on the floor. "We couldn't get by without you. Who took notes for these two numbskulls all through Hogwarts? Who protected me when the Slytherins attacked me, in my 5th year? Who has always made sure that none of us have ever wanted or needed for anything -ever? Yes, Remus, we love you. You have earned the love. We love your charm, your kindness, your pure heart. We love you for who - and what you are. We love you because you're a good man, Remus Lupin."

Remus' hung his head and started to sob again. His grip on the gun loosened and in that moment James snatched it away. As he backed off both Lily and Sirius grabbed Remus and pulled him into a loose, but protective hug. Remus sobbed uncontrollably while Lily and Sirius held on, until he fell asleep exhausted, but alive, in their arms.

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