Sirius’s final, muffled cry of the evening rang through the room long after it had been expelled. When it finally died, all that was left was the heaving of labored breaths and the clatter of an instrument hitting the hard wood floor.
On the bed, Remus allowed himself only a moment to catch his breath before crawling up to the headboard to untie the silk ropes that held Sirius’s wrists fast against the metal posts. Sirius hummed, his hands falling limp against the mattress on either side of his head. Remus was unperturbed. He tugged the cloth gag out of Sirius’s mouth and pulled it over his head before he set to untying Sirius’s ankles as well.
When all of Sirius’s limbs had been freed Remus looked down at him, still star-fished on the bed before him, eyes closed, chest heaving but with even, steady breaths. If Remus didn’t know any better, he’d think Sirius was sleeping. He gathered the decidedly-not-sleeping man into his arms and sat up against the headboard holding him. Sirius’s arms and legs folded in upon themselves as he relaxed his cheek against Remus’s neck with another soft hum. Sirius was a mess of sweat, saliva, semen, water-based lubricant and blood. Remus wasn’t exactly pristine himself, but cleanup would wait a moment. He pressed a kiss against Sirius’s temple.
“That was so beautiful, Love. You were so wonderful.” Remus muttered in the newfound quiet of the bedroom. He wasn’t even quite sure if Sirius could hear him, still lost in his sub-space, but Remus kept a steady stream of soft kisses and praising words up just in case.
It was moments before Remus felt the soft tickle of long eyelashes against his neck that indicated Sirius had finally opened his eyes. He pulled back to look into them properly. Sirius’s fingers pressed into Remus’s skin where they lay: five around his arm and five on his chest.
“Welcome back?” Remus asked playfully, voice carefully soft.
Sirius did not respond verbally, but turned his head to kiss Remus’s collar bone instead. He may as well have recited a sonnet as far as Remus was concerned. That gesture told him all he needed to know.
Retracting his grip seemed inadvisable, so instead he maneuvered around Sirius’s warm body until he was able to reach under the bed for the small “kit” he’d prepared. It was just a few items crammed into the picnic basket they sometimes used on sunny days in the park. He placed the basket on the bed beside him, deciding he’d clean the wicker thoroughly later. He pulled a thermos from it, filled with ice water, and brought it to Sirius’s lips.
More than a few drops escaped Sirius’s lips and they were frigid where they splashed onto Remus’s chest, but he ignored the small discomfort easily. Sirius drank thirstily and, after very little coaxing, took the thermos himself, finding the strength in his own arms gradually.
“Okay?” Remus asked when Sirius finally lowered the container. Remus took it and reminded himself that he, too, needed to rehydrate. He drank while Sirius gathered his thoughts.
“Perfect.” He said finally. “Still a bit floaty, but no drop this time.”
Remus smiled and kissed his nose. Sirius helped him cap the thermos, nearly empty now, and he placed it back in the basket. His hand returned with a bar of chocolate. He unwrapped it one handed - the other was occupied stroking the back of Sirius’s neck - and broke off an awkward corner.
“Eat. It’ll help.” He pressed the chocolate into Sirius’s palm.
“I said no drop this time,” Sirius frowned.
“Then it’ll make me feel better.” Remus’s tone, while not commanding, did not broker argument. Sirius nibbled off the end.
Remus would never forget the first time Sirius had experienced sub-drop. They’d been discussing their play, laughing about something that had happened earlier in the evening when suddenly the light went out in Sirius’s eyes. They hadn’t been prepared for such an immediate loss of endorphins and he’d fallen into a state of loss, almost like a withdrawal, without them. Since that event, Remus had begun packing chocolate in their basket. Sirius experienced drops from time to time, now. Remus had learned not to panic when it happened - that this was a natural bodily response. But chocolate still aided the transition better than anything else and calmed Remus’s nerves all the same.
“You tell me when you’re ready, yeah?” Remus took a bit of chocolate himself, and was pleased to see Sirius had finished his quickly. He handed him another piece.
“What’s first?” Sirius asked, continuing to nibble in Remus’s lap.
“First is bath. Then cream. Then whatever you’d like.” He alternated kissing Sirius’s forehead and cheek.
Sirius nodded. He was not normally chatty after a scene. Remus was surprised he’d gotten the amount of words out of him that he had already.
“I’m going to go draw the bath, would you like to come with me?” Remus asked. He already knew the answer. Another nod.
From the very bottom of the picnic basket he pulled a soft cotton bed sheet. He used it to swaddle Sirius and picked him up rather easily, considering the strain his own muscles had taken over the last several hours.
There was an armchair stuffed into the bathroom next to the vanity. It was not a regular feature of their bathroom, but had been placed there as part of the set up for post-scene. It was another thing they’d picked up after several rounds of trial and era.
Remus had left Sirius alone in the bedroom while he went to draw the bath the first few times, and that had not ended well any time it had occurred. Feelings of abandonment were extremely common for subs in these instances, and Sirius seemed to have an affinity for this. It took very little to trigger that bit of unpleasantness. Next they’d tried allowing Sirius to come with him, but as his peripheral nervous system was kicking back in, tactile discomfort was a large consideration for Sirius. Cold tile and porcelain made him squirm. Remus had begun shoving a chair into the bathroom pre-play around the sixth time they had engaged.
He lowered Sirius into the armchair so gingerly Sirius probably never even felt it make contact. He kissed Sirius’s right cheek - the one not pressed against the back of the chair - and set to drawing the bath. This involved their favorite brand of bubble-bath, essential lavender oil, sea salt and the lighting of several dozen candles, placed all around the old claw-foot tub. Sirius watched quietly. The sound of the running water and the musky scent of lavender seemed to soothe him.
When Remus was satisfied with the temperature and volume of the water, he shut the valve and lifted Sirius back into his arms. He plucked at the sheet until it rumpled onto the floor at his feet and managed to climb into the bath holding his boyfriend. It went beyond the comfort of his arms, though that was certainly to be taken into account. Sirius’s limbs were still basically useless at this point. Remus settled into the water and arranged Sirius between his legs, Sirius’s back pressed flush against Remus’s chest, sticky in some places, slick in others.
“Sirius, you are so perfect to me. You were so perfect tonight. You’re always so perfect.” Remus’s stream of words of affection was endless. One praise led into the next, whispered against his ear, which he kissed every few words.
The warm water gradually began bringing life to Sirius’s muscles. He started folding and unfolding his legs voluntarily. Like he was coming back to his body after being away for a long time. Which, for all intents and purposes, he was.
“I love you,” He said through a particularly heavy sigh, and pressed the back of his head into Remus’s shoulder.
“I love you,” Remus kissed his neck, which had remained untouched during play, “I love you, I love you, I love you so much.
Sirius hummed again, as he had earlier, and this time Remus could hear the smile in it.
“Are you ready to talk?” Remus asked.
“Think so,” Sirius tilted his head back to kiss the underside of Remus’s chin. His lips were soft against the skin, and warmth spread through Remus’s face, emanating from the point of contact.
“Tell me the best, first.” Remus palmed a bar of soap while he spoke. Wash cloths and loofahs were on Sirius’s long list of post-coital tactile no-nos. Instead, Remus massaged his skin very softly with his fingers, paying extra attention to the areas he knew needed it. Very thorough, but very careful. Excruciatingly gentle over the abrasions on his chest and down his sides.
Sirius thought for a moment. “I think I really liked the last one. What were you using?”
“The lunge whip? It’s a new one. But it was alright?” Remus adjusted Sirius so that he could wash his back.
Sirius nodded more vigorously this time. “More than alright. And the…” He trailed off, clearly reluctant.
“Tell me what you enjoyed, love.” Remus coaxed and began Sirius’s favorite part of the cleaning ritual: shampoo. Remus always massaged Sirius’s scalp for far longer than was strictly necessary for washing purposes.
Sirius groaned softly under Remus’s ministrations. “I like the ring. I like when you tell me when.”
Remus rewarded his effort in communication with a kiss to the corner of his mouth, which turned up in a pleased almost-smirk.
“We can work more with that next time, if you’d like,” Remus assured him.
Sirius wiggled his toes experimentally. “Definitely.”
“Tell me the worst, now?” It was posed as a question. Sirius was free to keep talking about the positives if he so chose.
But he didn’t shy from it. He thought for another moment before he said: “Maybe the texture thing.”
“Was it the textures themselves, or the blindfold?” Remus asked, dousing Sirius’s hair. He watched, mesmerized as he aways was by the lather running through curtains of black, leaving it smooth and clean as slate.
Sirius tugged Remus’s left leg into his lap. It was not a natural position for Remus, to be sure, but it was not uncomfortable, and being utterly surrounded by him was necessary for Sirius. He tucked both of his legs into the space between Sirius’s thighs.
“Textures. I didn’t mind the blindfold.” Sirius stroked lazily at the soft hair of Remus’s thigh, matted somewhat by the water. “The feathers weren’t so bad, but the sand was a bit… much.”
“Sand is too overstimulating, got it. Do you think it’s a one time thing?” Remus reached for the conditioner on the side of the bathtub, accidentally extinguishing a candle in the process.
“Not sure, yet. Case by case, maybe?” Sirius sat up, feeling the last of the conditioner washed away by warm water.
With some maneuvering, made even more difficult by shaking, uneasy muscles, Sirius turned his body around and threw his legs over both of Remus’s. He drew his fingers affectionately down Remus’s chest, watching the glowing effect of the candle light in the water trails, shifting and glistening off of Remus’s own scars. They sat like a lotus just watching each other for a long moment.
“Can I?” Sirius asked, already reaching for Remus’s hair.
Remus nodded and handed Sirius the shampoo. He lowered his head to let Sirius make a ritual of cleaning him.
While he worked, they talked a bit more about the highlights of their evening. High points and low points and things they agreed to do more effectively next time.
Before the water could cool too much, they clambered out of the bath. Sirius’s legs were up to the task of holding him up at this point, but he still held fast to Remus like if he let go he’d fall from the earth. Remus was no less attached. He toweled Sirius’s hair, gentle and playful, and whisked the water from his skin. Sirius sat back in the armchair, huddled in a crisp, dry towel, while Remus set about blowing out the candles.
Once the room was safe for evacuation, Remus returned to Sirius with a kiss. The first one to meet his lips in hours. Sirius’s eyes fluttered shut and he smiled against Remus’s mouth.
When he was sure it was okay, Remus deepened the kiss and wrapped his arms around Sirius, still warm in his towel, to pull him closer. It always astonished Remus that no matter what level of intimacy they achieved during play, Sirius could still send him into dizzying spirals with a simple kiss afterward.
“I love you,” he pulled back only enough to mutter the words before finding Sirius’s searching lips again.
It was probably several minutes before they separated. It was difficult to tell. Time passed differently in moments like these. When they finally did, Remus began leading Sirius back to the bedroom.
Sirius leaned against the wall by the door while Remus very efficiently changed the sheets on the bed and packed the instruments they’d used into a separate box than the rest for sterilization later. The picnic basket sat atop that box, but its contents were left on the bedside table. Remus picked up a tube of vitamin K cream from the assortment and sat on the edge of the bed, beckoning Sirius over to him. Sirius responded by dropping the towel. He sat on the bed next to Remus, who kissed his nose and nudged it with his own.
“Ready?” Remus asked, holding up two fingers, white with vitamin K cream.
“Ready.” Sirius parroted and closed his eyes.
Remus rubbed the salve into Sirius’s skin with something akin to reverence. He worshiped the skin beneath his fingers. He loved every dip and swell, every goose-bump and every hair. He honored each laceration and each emerging bruise.
Sirius’s chest and back had sustained the brunt of the lasting effects of the session. The skin in these places was striped with raw pinkness and every mar in the perfect pale flesh was more beautiful than the last.
By the time Remus was satisfied that he’d secured every wound, Sirius was in such a deep state of relaxation he might have fallen asleep. Remus pressed his lips against Sirius’s to rouse him.
“The night is yours, Love. What would you like to do?” Remus asked when Sirius’s eyes did open. He looked utterly peaceful. Remus took the opportunity to fetch pajama bottoms for each of them and his own favorite jumper for Sirius. Or was it Sirius’s favorite first? It didn’t matter. It was the same thing anyway. He dressed Sirius and then himself while Sirius thought.
“Can we read?” Sirius asked. It was a common request for nights like these. Remus had a stack of their shared favorites on his bedside table.
Once Sirius had selected a title - Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera - they sat back further on the bed. Sirius curled up into a ball between Remus’s legs and Remus tucked the blanket around them both.
Reading together really meant Remus reading while Sirius fell asleep on his chest, but Remus didn’t mind in the slightest. In fact it was something he looked forward to.
Remus loved the bond he shared with Sirius. The closeness that their special connection provided him was something he considered a blessing. But - and if ever pressed, he would admit it freely - his absolute, undeniable favorite part of these evenings, was this moment. When excitement, thrill and satisfaction were fresh memories that hung in the air around them, but contentment, love and warmth settled in their bones. This was, to Remus, the epitome of their relationship. Whether they were presenting themselves as Remus and Sirius, Moony and Padfoot, or Dom and Sub, they could always fall into bed and find peace in nothing but each other.