Sirius Black was in his element.
He had half a bucket of coffee running through his veins and inspiration flitting across his fingers like a grove of fairies, dancing in stone circles behind his eyelids, playing long lost songs to bewitch him to dance with them, so fast he could barely keep up. One foot tapping to the music pouring through his headphones, his hand flew across the drafting paper to bring to life an idea he and Marlene had been putting together for months, alcohol markers as bright daubs of colour, weaving through the inky scaffolds of the outline, dancing in fairy groves.
Sure, Sirius had other important things to be working on, like the piece for the client due in at 10am that still needed a touch up, but who was he to argue with his muse? Certainly not he, not at 8:30 in the morning, with only one coffee and two cigarettes behind his teeth. Sirius was nothing if not a slave to his art, and his art was fucking beautiful, if he did say so himself.
He paused for a moment, wiping the ink from his fingers onto artfully weathered black jeans, before changing the song on the phone sat next to him, grin widening at the driving drumbeat of the next introduction. Sirius couldn’t help but roll his eyes though, at the Instagram comments scrolling onto his phone faster than he could keep up.
Jesus, they were thirsty even at this time of the morning. He had only posted a quick snap of he and James having a cigarette outside the shop, the lighting was too good to miss, the juxtaposition of James’ bright shirt, the black of Sirius’ leather jacket. Sirius was nothing if not a slave to his art. True, he had cross-posted it to the official Marauder Ink page, tagged his equally talented and stunning best mate and business partner in the post, and true, very true, he did look utterly gorgeous in the filtered sunlight, but still.
He glanced up a moment later to see James also grinning at his phone further along the length of desk they both sat at, momentarily distracted from the art bursting to life under his hands.
“Alright, Prongs?” Sirius said, shrugging his headphones off of one ear and seeing James do the same.
James threw an eraser with expert precision right at Sirius’ forehead, and he grimaced, snatching it back off the desk, looking back to see his best friend grinning. “You, mate, your Instagram is fucking ridiculous. Not that I mind, honestly, I get about fifty followers every time you tag me, and we get a million bookings, but Jesus wept, Pads, can they slow down a bit?”
Sirius shrugged, firing the eraser back at James with equal precision, snickering when it bounces off his glasses. “What can I say, baby? I just give the fans what they want!”
Seamlessly flipping him the bird, James shifted his headphones back onto his ears and doubled down to make sure the artwork for his first client of the day was no less than perfect. Sirius paused for a moment to consider just how lucky he was that he got to work alongside his best friend day in day out, doing something they both adored. Thirteen year old Sirius would’ve laughed in his face at the idea, he thought he was destined to be the face of some disgusting corporation bound in his blood, but somehow, he had managed to shrug all that off. With a disgustingly happy smile on his face, Sirius carefully filed away the watercolour peacock he was working on for Marlene, after sending her a quick snap on Whatsapp, ready for when she awoken from her slumber, and pulled out his client piece for the day.
Marauder Ink was successful, James and Sirius worked incredibly hard to get to where they were, and now they only took clients who genuinely interested them, with art they really felt was good enough for them. Sirius’ only client of the day was a few sessions into a beautiful back piece Sirius wished he could paste into a mural, all cherry blossoms, Oni masks and a weaving dragon in beautiful technicolour, it made his artists’ heart weep with excitement. Sirius changed the song on his phone again, ignoring the rising tide of notifications, and settled down to make sure the curve of this cherry tree would look just as perfect as the rest of it.
Maybe an hour later, Sirius glanced up to see his favourite woman in the world stepping through the door with an armful of coffee and bacon sandwiches. Lily shot him a smile, crossing to the desk and setting down the breakfasts before saying something Sirius couldn’t hear over his music. He shrugged a headphone to the side, “What?”
“I said - Jesus - isn’t one of you going to get the phone? For fucks sake, I bet it’s been ringing all morning after your Instagram post! You know you’re better posting when I’m here, I can at least field all the bloody groupies!” Lily was good natured enough as she picked the phone up on her way to greet James with a quick kiss. Lily moved with an endless grace around the shop, it was so clear who wore the trousers out of the three of them. Lily was a flawless manager, everything ran smoothly under her watchful eye and the shop was all the better for it. She answered the phone in the same breath, “Good morning, Marauder Ink, Lily here, how can I help?”
James watched his wife with an ardor he didn’t even try to conceal before he stood to stretch his shoulders. “Isn’t she fucking wonderful?” He muttered to Sirius, earning a quick scowl from the redhead as she flicked through the full diary to try and find a space for whoever was on the other end of the phone.
“She’ll do, I guess if I can’t have you, she can,” Sirius grinned, mirroring James in a quick stretch of his upper back before moving over to distribute the coffee and sandwiches between the trio.
“Oh Pads, you know you’re the only one for me.” James folded his hands over his heart, and the large tattoo there just visible under his v-neck shirt, in a gesture of love and devotion. Sirius passed him a sandwich and he set about it like a man starved.
Sirius grinned, the chest piece was his favourite tattoo of James’ by far. The antlers stretched across his pectoral muscles, creeping over his collarbones, bound together over his sternum with paw prints, a wreath of lilies swirling through the antlers like the tinsel through a Christmas tree. Sirius didn’t just love it because he had tattooed it onto him, he loved it because it was a sign of the three of them, their steadfast love. James loved Lily as soon as he knew the meaning of the word, Sirius loved James like the brother he was, bonded closer than blood, and Lily loved Sirius like the sister he needed, like bedrock, grounding and affectionate.
Sirius thinks of the corresponding tattoo on his own sternum, a snarling black dog with his same grey eyes, the constellation of his name emblazoned on its forehead, and rubs it absent mindedly with the heel of his palm before tucking into a bacon sandwich.
Sirius’ second favourite tattoos, both of his and James’, were the first tattoos they gave each other during their apprenticeship - wonderful, if a little sketchy, corresponding paw prints and antlers on their biceps. Sirius’ now was surrounded by neo-traditional roses, the sweep of crows wings, but the paw prints still stood pride of place on his arm, James’ handiwork still as beautiful as ever years later. Sirius was lucky as all hell to own a fantastically successful tattoo shop with his brother and sister in law.
Later, Sirius was outside, basking in the afternoon sun with a cigarette between his lips, still feeling damn lucky. He and his client Benjy were outside, taking a break to flex out sore muscles. Sirius looked at the cling film on Benjy’s shoulder with the excitement of a father watching his baby being born, the ink was springing to life on his skin and he was giddy with the idea of seeing at least a section done at the end of the day. Full days were hard work sometimes, his back hurt by the end of it, 8 hours of leaning over a prone body, shoulders hunched, fingers tensed on the housing of the tattoo gun, but it was worth it to see his art spring to life, to see his client so utterly thrilled despite the tiredness wracking both of them.
Today was one of those days, the knot in his shoulder was back with a vengeance, but it was worth it. Sirius and Benjy were in idle conversation, enjoying the sunlight and cigarettes, watching the busy street in front of them, when two women sauntered up to the shop. Sirius smiled behind his Raybans, ever polite, ever the flirt even if it never lead anywhere, and was rewarded with a smile from the blonde.
Sometimes, it was a shame Sirius refused to mix business and pleasure. He had done it once before, with a client back when they were apprenticing with Mad-Eye and McGonagall, and it ended badly. So now, he was determined. After all, no one shat where they ate, did they?
“Think they recognise you, Sirius?” Benjy drawled from behind his cigarette, a sly grin on his face.
“Oh shut up,” Sirius shot back, stubbing his cigarette out on the wall behind them. “I mean, they probably do but that’s not the point. Probably just want a bloody Chinese character tramp stamp.” Sirius pulled a face and moved back towards the shop, “Ready mate?”
Benjy followed with a chuckle, stepping aside to let the two women back out of the shop looking slightly let down. Sirius frowned, they didn’t tend to turn people away without a booking at least. “What was that, Lils?” He asked as the door shut behind them, grey gaze finding Lily behind the desk on her phone.
“Looking for piercings again. I swear if I could find someone who was trained and not stupid, we’d have no problems.” Lily sighed in exasperation.
“I could’ve done it, if you booked them in,” Sirius sighed, gesturing Benjy back to his room to get comfortable.
“When, Padfoot? Between your fully booked clients for the next six months?” Lily crossed her arms and levelled him with a look that still made his insides wither. Lily was formidable at the best of times, a sweep of deep red hair, effortlessly put together, a beautiful pearlescent ring hanging from her septum, nails in sharp acrylic points a bright contrast to the plaid shirt tied around her waist. Lily Evans-Potter was bloody stunning and terrifying all at once.
“Alright, alright,” Sirius gave up, holding his hands up, tattooed palms to the ceiling. “We can discuss it tonight?”
Lily nodded, turning back to the paperwork on the desk as Sirius ducked into his room to continue Benjy’s masterpiece.
The afternoon was a blur of gorgeous cherry blossoms, the scales of a green dragon whirling over shoulder blades, Sirius’ black-gloved hands working their magic. There was a reason Sirius was famous in certain circles, an ever-growing social media following, artists and connoisseurs alike appreciated the majesty of the artwork Sirius bestowed on canvases of skin.
Of course, a lot of his social media following was purely aesthetic, Sirius knew that too. His long black hair was pretty en vogue, whether it was tousled around his tattooed shoulders or thrown up in an artful bun, his long porcelain pale limbs painted bright colours, all beautiful artwork he treasured like a well curated gallery. And he was beautiful - Sirius was vain enough to admit that at the drop of a hat - with high aristocratic cheekbones, a knife-like jawline and a sensual mouth always curved into some lurid smirk, a silver ring snug through one side of his nose accentuating the attractive lines of his face. At least he got one thing from his cesspit of a family - damn good genes.
There was another part of his infamy Sirius was less keen on. The disowned heir to the Black fortune, the high rise offices in London, Shanghai, New York, Paris, the social occasions. Some people actually enjoyed watching Sirius battle with his blood, the occasional spat making its way onto the entertainment news just to be swept away by Orion’s money or Walburga’s hissed threats of secrets exposed. Sirius tried to leave them all well alone, he really did. But there was just one bit of him still tied to that damn legacy and, as much as he tried to summon up the cold heart of his mother, the cool dismissiveness of his father, Sirius couldn’t deny he cared more than he should.
Sirius whistled to himself as Benjy went back through to the main room once they were done, cleaning up his space with the fastidious motions of a perfectionist. He was bringing through a pile of reference material when he found Benjy still stood in reception, with Lily nowhere to be seen.
“Sorry Benjy, didn’t realise Lily was busy, here.” He set the artwork down and finished up with Benjy, settling his bill with a wad of money thick enough to use as a doorstop and seeing him off with a warm handshake, a reminder of aftercare and a promise of, “See you in two months.”
The shop was blissful and quiet for a time, Sirius busying himself tidying and eventually settling on one of the plush sofas, he would give himself a moment before starting on some more artwork, only another half hour or so until the shop closed and they could make their way home. The whir of James’ tattoo machine sounding from the other room like a lullaby to Sirius’ soul as he scrolled idly through his phone, enjoying the moment of peace. It was broken a moment later when the office door opened and Lily stepped out, the man behind her straightening to a foot taller than the redhead. Sirius glanced up from the coffee he was sipping - left there earlier by James no doubt, with fifteen sugars and a half pint of milk - with ill disguised intrigue.
“Alright, thanks again Remus. I’ll call you tomorrow, yeah?” Lily smiled warmly and shook the strangers hand. Sirius swallowed behind his coffee as the stranger turned. He didn’t think much of him at first, all judging on appearances because that was just who he was, wondering why the hell some gangly kid was in a high-end tattoo shop like this, in a bloody cable knit jumper of all things, but his mind was changed a moment later. Gangly sweater kid was fucking gorgeous.
A mop of honeyed auburn curls, shaved into an undercut and peeking out from beneath a forest green beanie hat, broad shoulders underneath the sweater, bright amber eyes looking with warmth at Lily. A mandala pattern of scarred skin was down the side of his face, silvered and old in the practice of scarification Sirius didn’t see much around here but knew a little of online. Another wingspan of scarification spreads the back of his neck, just visible between the hat and the neck of his sweater, slightly pink, almost fluttering with a pulse Sirius imagined hums under his skin. Two titanium bars through one slanted eyebrow, gauges smaller than Sirius’ own glinting in his ears, a black plated ring hugs the middle of his lip amidst equally auburn stubble. Sirius is floored.
The stranger continued as if Sirius isn’t sat there gaping, utterly unaware and smiling warmly at Lily. “Thanks, Lily, look forward to it.” He swept a glance over the shop, barely pausing on Sirius - a sensation he was entirely unaccustomed to, usually people stopped and stared - before walking out of the shop in long, predatory strides that heated Sirius’ blood and he turned to watch, jaw slack until he ducked out of the door.
“Lily. Who the Jesus-fuck-wept was that?”