Written for the QLFC, Season 5, Round Three.

Position: Captain

Position Prompt: Write about a character confessing a Truth OR write about a character Daring him/herself to face his/her fears.

Title: Bleeding Heart

Word Count: 3,000

Beta(s): Wanderers

Go Wanderers!

I'd like to dedicate this to Shadow and Frost, and to Kage Kitsune. Take care.

When Remus Lupin opened the door of his quaint country cottage in a Muggle hamlet just outside of Cornwall, she was almost startled by the mildness of him.

"Mr. Lupin?" She asked, still not convinced it was him at all even though he looked just like his picture.

"Oh good, come in Ms. Granger. Did you find the place alright?" He walked away from the front door leaving it ajar. She followed him in, there were frames neatly arranged along the walls displaying articles of his time working under the Minister, and about the Werewolf liberation movements progress in Britain. There was one in particular which she wanted to take a closer look at, but the young, laughing Lupin was being pulled out of the frame by playful hands.

"Through here," he called, startling her. She pulled her pen from her pocket and flipped the top of her notebook.

"I can't thank you enough for allowing me this interview. This is a missing piece of history."

"I'm happy to have you. I read about your work with the House Elf question. You've been hailed as something of a champion for the underdog. Admirable in one so young."

"You read my work?"

"I wouldn't have agreed to this interview if I hadn't."

Lupin was infamously difficult to get a hold of. Suddenly Hermione felt flushed with pride, it had been because of her work that he'd agreed to speak.

"Meeting you now, I wonder how they could bring themselves to do it," she told him, jotting down a few notes about her first impression.

"With a butcher knife." He seemed amused. "You must remember, very little was understood at the time about what it meant to be… someone like me."

"You're telling me your own father developed the condensed serum?"

"My father had hoped it would uhm… make the world a safer place for his son."

"When the first massacre happened, you weren't infected."

"No, in fact I was the third Werewolf to be marked under the new regime after the population had been cleansed."

"Government officials insisted at the time that it was a crucial step in mitigating the aftermath of Grindelwald's coup in Britain. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think the nation might be, as they said, unlivable today had the outbreak been allowed to continue?"

"Well, over five hundred new cases in the first year, nearly doubled in the second. It was pandemonium."

"Thousands of innocent people killed, yet the record indicates traditional member of the Wizengamot were excited at the prospect of releasing these fumes which could only effect Werewolves. More so when the effects proved fatal."

"Would it shock you if I said that it might've been for the best if they'd only done a better job of it?"

Hermione paused, her hand poised over her Muggle notepad.

"Because then you wouldn't have been bitten by one of the only two remaining Werewolves in Britain?"

He laughed hoarsely. "You know, I hadn't even allowed myself to imagine a reality where I wasn't bitten, quite a thought. No. Dad's serum was released just before my time, and it left just two people infected alive. Greyback of course, and his antithesis: a Muggle named Enid. I only wish it had worked the first time so that the it wouldn't have to happen twice."

"But it didn't."

"Thanks to Enid it didn't, at least not yet. She was the one who asked me to volunteer once I was of age."

"For what?"

"For the blood magic. To keep it hidden. While Greyback was off reestablishing his hoards, Enid was working on a way to keep the innocent victims safe."

Hermione's hand was flying across her notebook. This was unprecedented.

"A Muggle developed the curse?"

"It turned out to be rather a blessing really."

"But you could've died! The Ministry had already proven that it could care less about the lives of thousands of Werewolf's, why would you hang the safety of the others on just one."

"That man would've torn my heart out one way or another, regardless. At least this put the blood on his hands"

"You can't mean that it was true? That you and the Minister…"

"Yes, often. And I want that on the record."

Interviewing Sirius Black was a rather different affair altogether. For starters, compared to the infamous recluse and supposed barbarous dark creature; he was rather difficult to get a hold of. When Hermione did eventually manage to book a brief appointment with him he was replying to letters while she attempted to speak to him.

"I'm writing an article on the use of cleansing serum in the second British Wizarding war, and I wondered if you'd be able to clarify a few points on the official Ministry report?"

He didn't look up as he signed his name with a lazy flick of his wrist and moved onto a new scroll. "For your article?" He asked.

"Yes, first I wanted to ask: What was the nature of your relationship with Mr. Remus Lupin?" She pretended to read Lupin's name from her notes.

"Professional, he worked for the Ministry as an Unspeakable when I was in my first term."

"Was that his official role?"

"Rather unusual circumstances, we needed him on hand."

"And this was due to the fact that should there be another national outbreak of lycanthropy, you would need to access him personally to avail of Lyall Lupin's cleansing serum?"

"Yes, you've read the statement. Anything else? Anything to add?" He heated some wax with his wand to seal one of the freshly rolled scrolls. "Any notes? Does your article need more gore?"

"Actually I wanted to discuss the inconsistencies between the official statement and Mr. Lupin's account."

"Bollocks." He pulled his finger back from the wax and jammed it in his mouth. "Burnt myself, stupid. You've seen him? Lupin?"

Hermione nodded. "He told me to tell you that he uhm… He has your jacket."

Sirius barked out a laugh so loud she felt her back tense. "Bloody typical," he said, and looked at her properly for the first time, his grey eyes intense. "What else did he say?"

"He said I could tell you if you were honest," she said, flipping a few pages back in her notebook to view their agreement. "He said that you could keep it off the record, all of it. But that you had to tell me the truth, and then I could give you this." She held up the envelope.

"What is it?" He asked. his handsome face screwing up into a frown. She tipped it and something slid along from one corner of its base to another, his eyes followed it.

She pushed the envelope back into her pocket. "Your ring."

He blew out a shaky breath. "Enid!" Sirius shouted, and a hunched over old woman popped her head around the door like she'd been listening at the other side. Hermione chose to say nothing at that moment.

"Sirius!" She shouted back, and he rolled his eyes.

"Cancel my two o'clock."

Sirius Black had been raised to meet certain expectations, after an undesirable House assignment, he was extracted from Hogwarts and sent to study abroad in Durmstrang. He returned with top marks to enjoy a well-financed and successful career in politics. In 1985 he made history as the youngest Minister of Magic to take office.

He was surprised to discover that he was expected to meet with the Muggle Prime Minister, and that he would be expected to make an annual visit to Azkaban where many of his family members were imprisoned. One of his greatest shocks came in his second term when he was introduced to a man named Remus Lupin.

"Minister, we'd like you to meet some of the Aurors at your disposable. It's my honour to introduce Alistair Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Amelia Bones. They've been teamed together on a new initiative after the issues with Urquart last year."

"Thanks Frank," Sirius said, standing up from behind his desk and appraising the Ministry's finest. There was a fourth person in the line, his tawny hair fell over amber eyes and curled at the edges. "And you are?"

"This is Moony," Bones answered, her gaze lowered. "He's an Unspeakable."

Lupins expression gave away nothing, but his face was scarred, and his eyes were shadowed.

Frank Longbottom stood just behind Moony looking uncomfortable. "You'll be briefed on his situation later."

"I can do it," the Unspeakable said, his voice hoarse. "You should go, this is above your pay grade."

Sirius was about to protest, but just like that the man in semi-formal Muggle attire cleared the room.

"What is this about?" Sirius asked, his stomach knotting as the door closed behind some of the highest ranking officials in his Ministry.

Moony's demeanour seemed to melt away as soon as the door clicked shut and his posture relaxed.

"Take a seat Minister, you may as well get used to me." The Unspeakable pottered over to Sirius's desk and taking a deep breath, he sighed and pulled the lid off of a small round pot containing wrapped Chocolate Cauldrons.

"Did you just… sniff those out?"

"I have a good sense of smell." Moony took one out and set to work unwrapping it. "You're familiar with Fenrir Greyback, infamous survivor of the 1962 cleansing?"

"Yes," Sirius said, walking over and sitting behind his desk.

"He sent you a letter this morning, it was intercepted by the Auror Office, but I got it back for you." He held out the letter with a false grin like it was a bouquet.

Sirius took the scroll with some hesitation and opened it, reading quickly. "An organised outbreak of lycanthropy?"

"Don't worry, he's always saying that."

Sirius opened his mouth to ask another question but it simply fell open when Moony reached into his right pocket and pulled out a vicious looking knife. He placed it on the table between them and took another bite of the cake. "What, you want me to kill his owl?"

Moony spluttered around the cake, a laugh breaking his affected attitude. "Minister, what would you recommend we do if there is a large scale outbreak of lycanthropy in Britain?"

"Isn't it already under litigation? It's been managed the same way for years."

"Aside from the 1962 outbreak."

"I was told the serum no longer works, nor is it an option unless there is a serious indication that the outbreak is actually going to be as bad as before. Some letter from a megalomaniac is hardly going to excuse another order like that."

"Oh, what? You have some sort of latent sympathy for these creatures, you don't see how much it would benefit the population if we could just get rid of them?!"

"It's a nonfunctional formula. My feelings are hardly a factor."

"But if it was that simple, if I told you that if you picked up that knife right here, right now, you could finish it, wouldn't you?"

"I won't be submitted to your mind games Mr. Moony, I don't care who you are. I'm the bloody Minister for Magic!"

"The Aurors office have shifted the status to high alert for an outbreak, Minister. That's why I'm here," Moony said, licking some icing from his finger in an exaggerated gesture. "And please, call me Remus." He held out his hand, still wet with spit.

Sirius didn't shake it. "You're mad."

"No, I'm cursed. Pick up the knife."

Sirius picked it up despite himself and flinched when Remus hopped up on the table and crawled over to his side. He swung his legs around and hung them on either side of Sirius's. Taking Sirius's knife-wielding hand in his, he lifted the blade to his chest, holding it over to his heart. Sirius swallowed. "The serum works, but there's only one drop left that can still fix the problem if it hits the air. It's potent enough to finish every last Werewolf in the country, but it's inside my heart."

"What?!" Sirius tried to drop the knife, but the man's scarred hands were clamped around his, holding him in place.

"Last time the Minister ordered to have us all killed, he just had to tell the Auror office to break the vial, but you won't be so lucky. If you want to kill all of the Werewolves Minister, you'll have to kill at least one all by yourself. Do you think you can do that?" Remus asked, pressing himself a little closer to the blade. It was sharp enough that the smallest dot of blood formed around its tip on the white shirt.

"No," Sirius whispered, realising that he had the wolf's saliva on him, that he was inches from his fresh blood. He was sure it couldn't be transferred that way, nearly sure.

"Good," Remus told him, leaning back. "But they want me to stay with you, and you have to keep the knife. It knows you now. Knows it has to be you."

"Why did you do this? Was there no better way? Couldn't you just destroy it all?"

"The blood magic works a lot better when the poisons maker made you as well. Easier to just enchant a drop and deactivate the rest. At least now I'm sure."

"Then why did you come here?"

Remus shook his head, rolled his eyes, and reached behind him for another cake. "Don't you know a prisoner when you see one?" He asked.

Along with a number of other members of his inner circle, Remus was always there. Waiting for the moment the Aurors concerns about the rising Werewolf population reached critical point.

Every full moon it got closer.

"Minister, you can't carry on like this, you need to be prepared for what is growing more inevitable every day."

"No one has even asked me if I'm prepared to go through with it, maybe I don't give a damn what your projections say. Maybe a national outbreak is what this country needs. Surely once was enough. It clearly didn't work the first time. Not to solve your supposed problem, or to teach anyone in this institution any damn accountability."

"Merlin, you are sleeping with it."

"Tell your assistant she's been promoted, and clear out your desk."

"Are you attempting to tell me something, Remus?" Sirius asked, as Remus dropped a tray of croissants onto the bed between them and took a sip of tea from a cup with the Ministry insignia on the side.

"What gave it away?" Remus asked, leaning against the bedpost in Sirius's dressing gown.

They were on a foreign visit, and Remus kept losing his sense of direction on the way to his room in the embassy. Sirius hated how much power the other man had over him. The Werewolf seemed to believe his days were numbered, and it made him utterly reckless.

"Are you wearing my pajamas as well?" Sirius asked.

"That would sort of defeat the point." Remus drank the last of the tea and dropped the cup on the carpeted floor where it landed with a soft thud.

It was the night before the full moon and Sirius was more nervous than Remus.

"You think this is going to be it, don't you? You think they'll give the order after the next count?" Remus's hand was warm on his stomach, rubbing soothing circles.

"I can't do this," Sirius whispered, tears slipped from his eyes into his hairline. Remus kissed them.

"They can't make you." His hand slipped lower with each pass.

"I shouldn't be the one crying, I'm sorry."

"Why would I be crying, you're not going to carve my heart out, are you?"

Sirius laughed a little nervously, and turned to face the caustic, perfect man. "No."

"Minister it's time."

"I'm not interested, send in my ten o'clock."

"Minister, if it's not done this way then it will have to be done by force."

Remus was sat in the window sill reading, pretending not to listen.

"I didn't give the approval on that, you can go now Crouch."

"The Wizengamot has made their point, sir. The vote is final. It's either this or they'll reinstate the Forgivable Order in the next hour."

Remus had begged him to do it then. Sirius had never thought it would be like that, that it would come to that. Remus pulled the knife close to him like he had that first day.

"They'll Crucio those children Sirius, let them go sleeping. Please." Remus kissed him, their tears mixing. He pushed himself closer to the knife. "Please." His words were muffled against Sirius's lips.

"I can't. You promised they couldn't make me." Sirius could feel the hot blood already starting to spill onto his hands.

"It was bloody pillow talk, don't be so naive."

Hermione had stopped taking notes a long time ago. Hearing it from Sirius's side, it was a very different story. The events were the same, but Remus hadn't made her heart bleed like this.

"That's enough," she said. "You've told me enough, I know the rest." She put the ring on the table.

"I wasn't going to do it," he told her. He looked like he was falling apart, his eyes were red from his trembling fingers swiping away tears. His wet eyelashes were an even inkier black, making his pale eyes nearly glow as he pleaded with her to understand. "We were supposed to be together, but in the end I barely got him out of there in time. " He reached forward and pulled the envelope toward him and tore it clumsily. The ring clattered onto to desk and he picked it up with ardour. "I can't believe you spoke to him." He frowned looking at the ring more closely. "This isn't mine, I gave him this. He should have it."

"Oh, yes." Hermione said, pulling a sheet from her notebook which contained a hastily written address. "He said he'd be wanting it back."