Request ficlet for Mare: Remus/Sirius, wing!Remus, "I never chose you. I didn't even know I had a choice."

Disclaimers: Everyone here belongs to J. K. Rowling.

by Lesa Soja

"Are you mad?" Remus said, staring back at Sirius's sparkling eyes. "I mean, are you out of your blinking mind? What kind of idea is that?"

But Sirius only grinned and threw an arm around Remus's shoulders. "It'll be brilliant. Look, James and I got Peter through it, didn't we? You're far, far quicker. And you really have no idea how amazing it is. When you first start to change you feel so warm, and then all your bones go loose, and then -"

"Sirius Black," Remus said. Sirius thrust a scroll into his hand and clapped him on the back.

"Friday afternoon, yeah? We can go up to the Astronomy Tower. Just read that over, it's all in our notes." Sirius stepped lightly over to the next rotating staircase and began moving away. "See you at lunch!" he called back.

"See you," Remus said to thin air.

The notes weren't terribly long, considering how many years Sirius and James had spent researching them. Animagus transformation a spell of will, James had written. No incantation, no wand use. Beneath that Sirius had added, Cannot choose animal form - fixed but unknown till first successful attempt. Key is choosing to become other than yourself. The last three words were underlined heavily.

"You're up late, Lupin," Evans said behind him.

Remus flinched and laid his hand over the scroll. "Just - revising," he said. "What about you?"

"Just got to do a patrol round." Evans paused with one hand on the portrait frame. "You know, you'll do better on the exams if you get some sleep."

Remus rubbed his forehead. "I suppose I will, at that," he said. She nodded at him and left.

He read the instructions through twice more. Finally he rolled them back up and shoved them into his bag. He didn't bother with a Lumos then, just stumbled up the stairs in the dark.

"James?" Sirius hissed when Remus reached their room.

"No, it's me," Remus answered.

"Ah, Remus," Sirius said, smugness audible even in the whisper. "Into bed with you, then. You've a big day tomorrow."

Remus rolled his eyes and dropped his bag on the floor. He had a feeling Sirius was still grinning into the dark.

The sunlight on the floor showed up a crowd of footprints, tracking and crossing each other in the dust. Remus leaned against a wall, ignoring the stone's chill, and tried half-heartedly to fit some of the outlines to his recollection of Sirius's shoes.

"Punctual as always, Mr. Lupin," Sirius said. "Five points to Gryffindor."

"Why, thank you, Professor Black."

Sirius grinned. "Shall we begin?"

Sirius's face always assumed a warm ease, even a kind of serenity, in the moment before he transformed, but when Remus closed his eyes he couldn't keep his mind from racing. Other, he thought, be other. Let me change. Let me be not myself.

"Don't think in words," Sirius murmured, closer than Remus had thought. "Just be."

being, Remus thought, and then he caught himself and stilled, darkening. Sirius hummed a little at his side, and Remus cast out along that buzzing line. A steady warmth was licking at his back, something relaxed behind his shoulders, and then his bones crunched in excruciating pain.

"Remus!" Sirius shouted.

Remus shook his head, trying to dislodge the terrible, familiar ache in his jaw.

"Remus!" Sirius said again, and his hands grasped Remus's; hands, fingers, human, Remus thought, and then, Me. mine.

"Sirius," he said, opening his eyes. It came out more like Shiriush; his teeth were too big for his mouth.

"Oh God," Sirius said. "Fuck. I should have known of course, if you deliberately let go, and you already have another - it must be the interference that makes you but fucking hell, Remus, are you all right?"

"I'm not shure," Remus said. His bones had mostly settled again, barring a few protesting twinges, but his jaws still hurt horribly, and his shoulders felt... heavy. He craned his neck sideways and caught a glimpse of snowy white feathers.

"I wonder what you were going to be," Sirius said. He stretched his hand out in a slow stroke, a touch Remus felt only as the passing ghost of pressure. "A swan, I'm sure a noble cob "

Remus snorted. "An owl, if Im lucky."

"Ah, now," Sirius said. His hands slid back onto Remus's wrists and began moving persuasively up and down. "Just be your charming self, then. No, really," when Remus rolled his eyes, "I mean, concentrate. Be yourself."

"Oh," Remus said, and he looked down, trying to focus. Sirius's fingers were leaving warm pathways on his forearms. His jaws began to relax. "We should have done this in the shack," he said abruptly. "Do you realize, if I'd gotten down into the castle - ?"

Sirius bit his lip and shook his head. "Why do you let me talk you into these things?" he asked.

Remus shrugged ruefully, and the extra weight left his shoulders.

Sirius took Remus's hand in both his own and squeezed it tightly for a moment. Then he let go and turned towards the door. "Let's go have some dinner, yeah? I'm ravenous."

"Certainly," Remus said, and managed to bite back his own hunger while following Sirius down the stairs.