It's been three months since they moved last, twenty since they left school, and everything has gotten worse.
They don't have any furniture, barely a mattress on the floor. No food. Sirius keeps forgetting a time when they kept normal meal times, a time when they had meals at all. It seems like the two of them, in this one room bachelor apartment, have run out of everything but old news, pages of it spread around. That's something they never run out of -- news that's just a few days too late.
That, and silence. The news sits around, ignored. They like to pretend it doesn't mean anything. The silences, though, they're getting longer.
Remus says, "We haven't heard from Dumbledore in over a month."
Sirius answers quickly, "yeah, I'm not sure. I haven't heard from him."
"Well," and Remus stares evenly, "what about Lily and James? Do you know where they are?"
Sirius shrugs, keeps his head bent low over their latest report. Reports sent out and never in. This is the way they operate now.
Remus is unsatisfied with the answer. "Do you know whether they're even okay? Maybe you don't care," and Sirius looks up sharply, because that's obviously unfair. Of course Sirius cares. He cares a lot.
"No, I haven't heard from them. Drop it."
Remus replies smoothly, "it's good to know I'm kept in the loop."
"That's not fair," Sirius answers quickly, maybe too quickly because it hits far too close to the truth. He adds, carefully, "You know as much as I do, maybe more -- you were the last one to talk to Hagrid."
It's been three weeks since they've had any contact with anyone but the shopkeeper down the street, three months since they've moved in. "Well, Hagrid didn't know shite."
"I, I don't know anything either."
Remus sighs. "Well, when was the last time you heard from James?"
"I, you saw the last time I heard from James."
The answer obviously isn't fooling anyone, or at least not Remus who knows enough to know when Sirius is full of lies. "Isn't it a little strange," Remus starts, "we've been cut off all of a sudden? Either something's horribly wrong and someone forgot to tell us," and he pauses to lick his lips, maybe soften the blow or maybe just give it a bit more impact. "Or. Something else is horribly wrong and someone didn't tell us."
Sirius gives a little laugh, nerves, and says shakily, "don't be so goddamned dramatic."
"Fine," Remus says shortly, and gets up. "I'm leaving."
"Where are you going?"
"Out." He keeps his back to Sirius, putting on his coat. "Just, out. Last time I checked I could do that."
Sirius swallows against the lump in his throat. "What are you going to do?"
He feels sick to ask it, feels dirty and heartsick to even think it. Remus shrugs. "I was thinking about calling Peter up." Sirius's heart skips a beat. Peter. No, he can't--
Remus adds, as he's lacing his shoes, "was going to ask whether he wanted to do something honest for a change."
The tone isn't accusatory. The tone isn't accusing, or angry, or even particularly sniping. It's tired. Remus is tired, and Sirius is just as tired, and everything is getting worse. Sirius bites his tongue.
"Aren't you," and Remus gulps. "Aren't you going to ask where I'm going again?"
Instead of answering, Sirius looks away. He doesn't want to ask. He doesn't want an answer. The room is quiet, oh so quiet, and there's no light in their apartment either. No light from the moon and nothing but the faint glow of neon from the Muggle bar outside. He told James not to write, told everyone not to write. It was for security, he said, but never said why, never told them how much he didn't trust Remus. Doesn't trust Remus still.
But Sirius can't help it. He can protect the others as best he can, but he's not giving up. He needs to stay, even if it means that when Remus goes down, when the Aurors come, that Sirius go down with him. That's the way it goes.
"I could use," Remus says quietly, "something, here. I could." He's still just standing by the door, coat and shoes at the ready. "We could use so much more," and he opens the door.
It's been so long since they've defined their lives by anything except what they do without.
And then, as Remus closes the door behind him with a little click, Sirius hears silence. To stay with him, he thinks, I must be blind.