Sometimes I think I'm losing my mind. Maybe it's just the war getting to me. Or maybe it's all those generations of inbreeding you and Prongs used to joke about. Or maybe it's you. Maybe I'm losing you, Moony.
You were away for so long. Longer than we've ever been apart since we started. Longer than you said you'd be away. You weren't back by the moon, and that's when I really started to worry. When was the last time I wasn't with you for that? I spent the night at the park, lying in the grass with my head on my paws, staring up at the sky, and wondering where you were. I know these missions are important -- of course they are -- but four weeks without any word is too fucking long.
When I came home this afternoon and saw your cloak hung by the door, I had to touch the blue wool to be sure I wasn't imagining it. And then I felt dizzy, because you were home. You were safe.
I found you in the bedroom, unpacking, a handful of crushed laurel leaves -- a souvenir of France -- falling from your fingers onto the nightstand. You looked like you hadn't slept or shaved in a week, and I couldn't bear not to be touching you.
I didn't ask. Not then. Not about the mission. Not about what had kept you from me for so long. Not why you hadn't sent word. It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was that you were there, warm, safe, alive, whole.
For one moment, everything was all right. Your arms, tight around me, your forehead pressed to mine, twin sighs of relief mingling on our breath. But when I looked into your eyes, I saw that you weren't there at all. It scared me, Moony. I kissed you, hoping to bring you back to me, looking for reassurance, finding none.
"I'm tired, Sirius."
You looked it, and you sounded it, so I did what I always do: I gave you what you needed. I lay down on the bed beside you, and held you while you fell asleep, escaping whatever it was that you were still running from.
I had expected to be glad when you came home, but I couldn't shake a looming sense of dread. I may not have taken Divination, but when something's wrong, a bloke knows it in his bones without needing to be told. I could feel my body tensing, cold panic creeping in. I haven't had an attack in a while, and I haven't had one because of you in four years.
I got up and tried to do things to distract myself and stave off the rising anxiety. I couldn't concentrate on reading. My stomach was too knotted up for food. I mixed myself a drink, and watched the ice melt. I would have gone out, to check on Prongs and let him know you were home, but what if you needed me and I wasn't there?
Night is falling now, darkness filling up our flat, and I can't stand it anymore. I leave the lights off. I don't want to see that look in your eyes again. There's no sound in our bedroom but your breathing, the soft crumple of my tee-shirt and denims hitting the floor, the wild beat of my heart as I slide between the cool sheets, offering up my body to you.
Use me, I beg silently, needing the feel of your skin against mine, needing to know that much, at least, is all right between us. Let me be whatever you need right now.
My balls ache like I haven't come in weeks. I've wanted you since I was fourteen years old, and no matter how many times you touch me, it will never be enough. Fuck me, Moony. Show me that you're here -- that I'm not completely useless. You used to come home from your missions ready to claim my body, like it was the spoils of war -- to drown yourself in me, reassuring both of us that we were still here, still alive.
"Moony --" My lips move against the back of your neck as my fingers stroke your belly, moving lower to cup between your legs.
You aren't even hard.
Maybe you're just tired. Maybe I should've let you have a full night's sleep before asking you to fuck me. But you turn towards me, your hands clamped hard around my wrists, urging me back, pinning me to the bed, and I go willingly, rejoicing. Please, Moony. Yours. Now. Always.
You say nothing, and your lips never touch mine. Not a kiss or a caress anywhere. Just your mouth around my cock, sucking me.
Merlin, Moony! What is this? What do you think you're doing? Is this what you thought I wanted when I touched you? I want your passion -- your need. This feels more like obligation. Like charity. Like emptiness.
I hate myself for getting off on it. You don't say anything then, either. You just wipe your mouth and turn away, pretending to go back to sleep.
Cold anger flares in my chest. At you for the nothing you just gave me. At myself for taking it. Sex with you has never been empty before. In nearly five years, you've never held back from me.
It's not supposed to be like this! I want to shout at your back. But the weight of this fucking war has crushed how it was supposed to be. Things haven't been right in a while. But still, they've never been like this.
It's almost an hour before your breathing changes, and I know you're really asleep. I lean up on an elbow, looking at you, watching your face, and I can't stay angry. Not with you, Moony. I can only wonder what happened to you on this mission, and how long it will take me to discover all the new ways that you're wounded, and bring you back to yourself.
You're so lovely when you sleep, my Moony. You're lovely other times, too. When you smile unexpectedly. When you laugh. When you come. You're lovely almost all the time, even though you never believe me when I tell you. I count myself lucky to be the one who gets to see you in all your beauty. Sometimes I feel sorry for the rest of the world, that they can't see it, too. But only sometimes. I'm selfish like that.
Moved by tenderness, I raise a hand to brush the feathers of your hair away from your face. And that's when it happens. That's the moment when the bottom drops out of my world.
A name falls from your dreaming lips into the darkness of our bed, and it isn't mine.
I snatch my hand back, clenching it into a fist and biting down on my knuckles to avoid making any sound that might wake you. I can't breathe. I'd be sick, only my guts are frozen into a solid lump of ice. No, Moony. You didn't. Please tell me you didn't.
Alexandre d'Argenson. The beautiful, blue-eyed boy who spirited you away to France for your mission. I knew. I could tell from the way he looked at you that he wanted you. I told myself that it was ridiculous to be jealous over him, because you would never -- not with some French bloke you barely knew. I mean more to you than that, don't I, Moony?
But now, watching you twitch and murmur in your sleep, I am suddenly afraid that perhaps the foundation upon which I've built my life -- that you need me as much as I need you -- may be crumbling before my eyes. You're still sleeping, and still lovely, but everything feels different now.
I want to shake you awake -- demand you to deny it -- make you prove yourself faithful with your body. Trial by sex. But I don't. You're tired. You need your rest. And I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.
In a way, I understand. I know how the world treats you for being what you are. I know the mission was werewolves this time. I overheard you and Dumbledore talking about it, before. If there was even a whisper about a cure, of course you had to go for as long as it took. I would never have stood in your way.
I understand the rest of it, too, in a way. I know what you're like before the full moon, with the wolf so close to the surface. If he was there -- if he offered you what you needed most just then -- can I really blame you for taking him to your bed?
Yes, I bloody well can! Because I've seen him. A mop of curls half hiding dark blue eyes, smooth brown skin, full lips curved in a secretive smile. If I hadn't seen him, I wouldn't be able to imagine what he looked like with his legs wrapped around you, moaning with every thrust. What's French for "fuck me"? Did you think of me while you were in him? Whose name did you call out when you came?
Curse you, Moony. How could you do it? I wish I could be angry -- I wish I could hate you right now -- but all I am is bloody terrified.
I rejected everything I was and remade myself for Gryffindor, for Prongs, but most of all, for you. Family, money, privilege. What was that to me? You showed me -- you and Prongs -- how little any of it meant -- how little I had before I met you. You showed me that true wealth is measured in friendship, and in love.
It took me so long to learn to say that word. You used to use it all the time, while it stalled and died on my tongue. Somehow you knew, even though I couldn't say it. When was the last time you said it to me? If you said it now, would I believe you, if you couldn't show me that you meant it?
I can say it now: I love you, Moony. I completely fucking love you with everything I am and everything I have. Loving you is like breathing. As long as I'm alive, I can never stop. Even now, when it hurts so much I could scream.
Things used to be so easy. Do you remember?
The first time I held you in my arms, we were twelve years old. We had just told you that we knew -- that it didn't make any difference to us. I held you while you wept. Your tears were so beautiful, and your brokenness was the most genuine thing I had ever seen. You needed me, and I knew I would do anything for you. For the first time in my life, I felt necessary. I had this beautiful, glowing Purpose, and I was hungry for more. I would go back and live in that moment forever if I could. I think I was already in love with you even then, though I didn't know it.
For you, I turned my back on my family, my inheritance, my name. For you, I tainted my blood. For you, I learned healing magic when I was meant to be studying for OWLs. I worked for years, and so many sleepless nights, to become an Animagus, so that you would never have to be alone again. I said vows and made promises and carved your name on my heart. I gave myself to you in a hundred different ways. I've been your friend and your lover and your shield against a hostile world. Everything you needed, I willingly became. For you, my Moony. Always and only.
This war is grinding us down, with no end it sight. We're losing, and we know it. It's only a matter of time. But you never show it. I look at you, and all I see is the steel at the core. You've hidden away the vulnerability that I fell in love with. I know it's still there; you wouldn't be Moony without it. All I want is for you to show me that you're as heartsick over everything as I am. When did you stop trusting me with your pain? What did I do to make you pull away?
The world I knew is vanishing. Father and Regs and Prongs's parents are all dead. We hardly see Andromeda and her family anymore. Wormtail is too busy taking care of his mother to keep in touch. Prongs has Lily and Harry to think of now. Even the Aurors decided they didn't want me, because apparently loving you and working in law enforcement is a "conflict of interests".
I could live with all that. I might growl and rage and shake my fist at the sky, but as long as I still have you, I can grit my teeth and get through anything the world throws at us. But if I'm losing you, too, Moony, then what do I have left? What's the point of me? Of everything I've ever done? What is there left to fight for?
I can't sleep. I can't make the muscles of my jaw or my belly unclench. I can't stop shaking. I am panicking, in our bed, and you're not there to hold me and tell me everything will be all right. You are what's wrong, and I'm afraid that nothing will ever be all right again.
Breakfast seems pointless. Tea seems pointless. Showering, dressing -- what's the fucking use when all I can hear are my own thoughts, chasing one another in endless circles? It's a wonder the shouting in my head doesn't wake you. It seems so much louder than the clank of the kettle on the hob.
It's the kettle's whistle that finally gets you out of bed. You stumble into the kitchen in your dressing gown, hair all in disarray. So lovely. You look better than you did last night. Rested, anyway. But then, you slept. Good for you.
Wordless, I set a steaming mug in front of you. I know better than to open my mouth. I haven't slept and my guts are twisted in knots, but I don't want to fight with you, because you don't fight. Prongs shouts right back at me, giving as good as he gets, but you don't like confrontation. You'd rather avoid, dismiss, change the subject.
"You look like hell."
I risk a quick glance to gauge your apology. Sorry I couldn't sleep? Sorry about last night? Sorry you were gone for so long? Sorry you fucked someone who wasn't me? But your face is set in the carefully-blank mask you use to hide your feelings. You haven't given me that look in years. That look has no place in our kitchen. I turn away and apply myself to the sink full of dishes with unaccustomed violence.
"What?" The word explodes from my lips like the crack of a whip.
A sigh, long-suffering. "It's been a long few weeks, Sirius. The last thing I need right now is you in a strop."
I stare at you, incredulous. How dare you be so fucking dismissive of me?
"Yeah? Well, pardon me for thinking you might be pleased to see me. The last few weeks haven't exactly been a day at the Quidditch for me, either."
Another sigh. "Of course I'm pleased to see you. I'm just tired."
There you go, avoiding and evading. Well, not this time. We're not about to start talking about the bloody weather or what we're having for supper tonight. Maybe I don't want to know, but I'm going to make you tell me all the same, because I know it's the last thing you want to do right now.
"Did you have a good time in France?" My arms fold across my chest, defiant, defensive. I can match you stony look for stony look.
There's that little crease between your brows. You're annoyed. Good.
"Your 'mission'," I press, eyes fixed on yours. "The pretty one. Did he show you a good time?"
"Sirius, what --?"
"I heard you," I snap, clamping down hard on my voice to keep it from trembling. You don't get to know what a punch in the gut this is for me. "Last night. Saying his name in your sleep. So what I'm wondering is, did you plan it? Or was it something that 'just happened'?"
It's no good. The sob trapped in my chest is too big and too painful. Any second now, it will claw its way out. Between that and the stinging in my eyes, I am about to make an utter disgraceful fool of myself in front of you, and you can see it.
You stand abruptly and step towards me.
I whirl away again, hands clenched on the edge of the counter, head bowed over the sink, hiding my face. Deep breaths. Control.
Your hand on my shoulder. I flinch away.
"You fucked him, didn't you?" My voice is harsh and raw in my own ears, unrecognisable. "Don't lie to me, Remus. If I'm going to come home one day to find him in our bed, I want to know now."
I swallow hard, daring to look at you again. I'm still a Gryffindor, after all. But my courage fails me, and I can't quite meet your eyes, so I look at your mouth instead. Lips pressed into a grim line. Jaw tight.
"Oh." The harsh finality in your voice leaves me winded, off-balance. "What -- how did he --?"
"Messily. I'd really rather not talk about it right now, Sirius, if it's all the same to you."
For another fortnight, you avoid, and I let you. Order business, you say, or errands. Only I saw you sitting by yourself at the little café down the street the other day, and when I dropped by headquarters, they said you hadn't been in.
It's a little game we're playing. We pretend everything's normal. To our friends. To the outside world. Even to each other. You're better at it than I am. You've had years more practice at lying and hiding and false smiles. You might even have fooled me. Or you might if you ever tried to touch me. But you don't. Not since the first night.
I lie awake, staring at your back, longing to reach across the chasm between us, knowing that you get as little sleep as I do. If you'd only turn towards me, see how close I am to touching you, put your hand on mine to meet me halfway, maybe we could weather this storm together, safe in one another's arms. When I do sleep, I dream that I am slipping away into your past, becoming a place you don't visit anymore.
When we're awake, we don't talk. Not about France. Not about him. Not about anything to do with us. If there even is an us anymore. Sometimes it feels like we're just waiting for something else to come along and sweep us apart completely. My body never fully relaxes. I am bracing myself for the inevitable. Not ready, but waiting.
Maybe it isn't you who's changed; maybe it's me. When we were at school, I think I was a better person, revelling in life and full of high ideals. You were faithful to the boy I was then, but I can feel him slipping away from me, day by day. The harsh realities of the war force us to compromise and compromise until there's hardly anything left.
Maybe that's what you saw in him -- your French boy -- maybe he hadn't needed to make any of those hard choices yet. And now he never will. He'll be perfect and young in your memory forever, while we live on and break down and become different people.
Just please tell me we haven't lost yet, Moony. You're still here, aren't you? All I want is for you to show me that you still feel something -- that this connection we share still matters to you. Just turn to me and say, I hate this, or I need to, or -- please, let it still be true -- I love you.
Merlin knows I still feel something. I feel too bloody much sometimes. You'd think it would be anger or sadness, wouldn't you? And some of it is. But that's nothing compared to the sick dread that's been camped out in my guts ever since you came back. I've been ill with fear for you before, my Moony, but never because of you.
I hate this so much I can't bear it. One way or another, it has to stop. I'll make you feel something if it kills me.
The Arrangement was made before Harry was born. Prongs and Lily knew they were in danger. We all knew it: that there might be a spy in our ranks. But they couldn't stay locked away at home all the time. I know how I'd feel, if it were me. They weren't about to take foolish risks -- even less so, where Harry was concerned -- but they refused to imprison themselves, either, so we came up with the Arrangement.
Once a month or so, the shining silver stag that was Prongs's Patronus would appear and deliver the name of a Muggle pub in a random city. The three of us would drop everything and Apparate as close to it as we could get. If we weren't all there within fifteen minutes, the meeting was declared unsafe, and we'd leave at once. If one of us really was a spy, then the others were there to keep an eye on one another. There were still dangers, but the variable dates and locations made an ambush impossible, at least.
Tonight, it's Birmingham, and the pub is --
"The Horse's Arse?" Your voice holds a trace of amusement, so rare in recent days.
I can't help a snort. Prongs could never resist a place with a name like that.
We're already dressed in Muggle clothing, so we Apparate straight to the designated safe point for the Birmingham city centre. The pub will be somewhere within a half-mile radius. You ask directions from an elderly chap in a tweed jacket as I glance around, trying to orient myself. Once we have our bearings, we don't waste any time, legging it the whole way.
When we arrive, out of breath, Prongs and Wormtail are already there, and -- surprise of all surprises -- Lily and nine-month-old Harry are with them.
"I couldn't bear being shut up in the house another minute," says Lily, giving me a one-armed hug and a kiss on the cheek. "We'll Apparate straight home if there's any funny business. International Statute of Secrecy be damned."
It's friendly embraces all around, but it's you I'm watching. When Lily hands Harry to you, your eyes light up, and you smile for the first time in ages. So lovely. That's the Moony I remember, and for a moment I wonder if maybe I've been wrong about everything. But I know I'm not. Something happened in France, and you're not talking about it. You've always been a liar, Moony, but never such a good one that you could fool me. What else are you hiding?
I want to believe this whole spy business is bollocks. If it's not, and it really is one of us, it has to be you or Wormtail, and I don't think he would have the nerve for it. You, though -- you have enough nerve for anything, and you lie so easily when Wormtail asks how you've been.
"Oh, fine," you say, shifting Harry's squirming weight to your other arm as you reach for the pint in front of you, flashing another smile. "Sorry I missed your birthday, Prongs. I'll make sure to be around next year."
It's bad enough, thinking that you might have betrayed me, without thinking you might be capable of betraying our friends, as well.
What did you learn on your mission? Were the rumours true? Has Voldemort found the cure we've been searching for all these years? Did he offer it to you? Would our friends' lives buy you a chance at a normal life for yourself? If you'd found out anything, you'd tell me, wouldn't you? But I can't ask, because that's France, and we don't talk about that. I hope you know, though, Moony, that if you ever try to hurt them, I will kill you, even if I can never stop loving you.
"All right, Padfoot?" Prongs grins at me, and I hate myself for having to lie to him, too.
"Can't complain," I mutter, burying my nose in my beer.
Prongs laughs. "That's a first."
I'm not feeling very sociable tonight, as if that's much of a surprise. Wormtail is quiet, too. His mum's worse again, and he says he's feeling guilty about being out. We mostly let you and Prongs and Lily carry the conversation.
When you go to the toilets, you hand Harry over to me. Normally, I enjoy every second I get with my godson -- he's brilliant, and I love him to pieces -- but his growly Uncle Padfoot is not very good company tonight.
"How've things been, really?" his father asks quietly. He knows it's been weird lately. I talked to him a bit while you were away.
"We haven't fucked in more than a month, if that's what you're asking." I know his concern is genuine, but it's a sore subject, so maybe I'm a bit sharper with him than I should be.
Peter winces, Lily's eyebrows go up, and Prongs grimaces.
"Could you maybe not say things like that in front of Harry?"
"Why not? He's bound to find out sooner or later that his godfather enjoys a nice cock up the arse. You didn't seem to mind so much, when it was you."
"Sirius!" Prongs's cheeks flush dark, and he cuts his eyes sideways to Wormtail, who looks confused. We've never discussed that night with him.
"What are you --?" Wormtail starts, but Prongs cuts him off.
"It's nothing, Pete. Just one of Padfoot's bad jokes."
It wasn't a joke. It was never a joke. The night the four of us spent together was one of the last times everything felt right with the world.
Lily catches the look on my face, and elbows Prongs sharply. She takes Harry from me, depositing him on Wormtail's lap, distracting him.
"Sorry, mate," Prongs says in a low voice. "I didn't mean it like that. It was a good night."
It was. My gaze falls from his bright hazel eyes to the apologetic smile on his lips. I wish I could lose myself in him -- that he could make me forget all my troubles for a while -- but it's not like that between us. Prongs might be up for a little experimentation with his best mates every now and then, but he can't give me what I need.
"It's all right," I say, looking away before I embarrass both of us. My eyes scan the pub, seeking distraction, and snag on a bloke standing at the bar, looking back at me. Tall, long hair, sideburns, tight trousers. He tilts his head and gives me the barest wink, a smile touching the corner of his mouth. I quickly drop my gaze back to my empty pint glass. "Sorry. Things have been a bit -- strained lately. Since Moony came home --"
"You're not worried about him being -- you know, are you?" Wormtail asks, glancing up from trying to make Harry crack a smile.
"No. I don't know. I don't want to talk about it."
"Yeah, it's probably not him," says Wormtail, looking doubtful.
"Of course it's not," Lily says sharply. "Remus would never do a thing like that. How could you even think it?"
I shake my head, shoulders hunched. "I don't know. Nothing feels right anymore. We're not talking."
Lily looks concerned, but Prongs just frowns. "Then maybe you should start. Whatever's going on between you two, fix it. I don't need my best mates falling apart on me when everything else is going to hell."
Fix it. That's always been Prongs's advice. As if it's ever that simple, or even possible.
"You fix it," I say, rising from my seat. "I'm going to get another drink."
I go to lean on the bar, trying to catch the barman's attention, but it's a busy night. Someone's arm brushes mine, and I glance up. The Muggle I noticed earlier is standing next to me, smiling.
"Can I buy you a drink?" he asks.
I can feel myself blushing. "Maybe."
He raises an eyebrow. "'Maybe' isn't 'yes'."
"Maybe I'll buy you one," I say, falling back on my usual bravado.
He grins. "I'd never say 'no' to someone as gorgeous as you."
I can't help a smile at that. "Good to know."
I order Glen Livet, neat, for both of us. Not bad for a Muggle drink, and beer isn't really doing the trick for me tonight.
"You here with one of those blokes?" The Muggle inclines his head, and I glance over to see you back at the table, in earnest conversation with Prongs, narrowed eyes fixed on me.
"Not so you'd notice," I grumble.
His grin widens, and his fingertips brush my arm. His eyes are flirting with me. "Trying to make someone jealous?"
"I'd be happy to help." He leans in closer and I shiver as his lips graze my ear. "How jealous shall we make him?"
My eyes dart back to the table. You're still watching. Can you hear us over the noise of the pub? I lick my lips and smile as easily as I can manage, turning my body towards him. "You don't mind that I'm here with someone?"
He looks me up and down, eyes coming to rest below my belt. "I'm not looking for love, Gorgeous. But I'll meet you in the toilets in five minutes, if you're up for it."
A delicious shiver of shock dances through my belly. I'm enjoying this. But only because I know you're watching. Do you feel anything yet, Moony?
"I don't even know your name."
He laughs. "Exciting, isn't it?"
I can feel you at my shoulder before your hand clamps so tight around my arm that it goes numb. The glass falls from my fingers to shatter on the floor.
"He's very pleased to meet you, but he has to go now," you hiss between clenched teeth before dragging me back to the table to fetch our coats. "We're going. Pete, you'll see them home safe?"
Wormtail nods, wide-eyed.
Prongs is giving me a strange look, and it takes me a moment to realise that it's because I'm grinning.
Lily storms over to stop us at the door. "What's got into you two?" she demands.
"Sirius and I need to go home, Lils," you say tersely. "We have things to discuss that are better said in private."
"Too right you do," she snaps. "You'd better get this thing sorted out, whatever it is. And then you come see me, because I have some things to say to you, too."
You scowl. "Goodnight, Lily."
I give her a jaunty wave with the arm I still have feeling in as we depart, because I fucking did it! I made you feel something at last, didn't I, Moony? Avoid that!
We duck into the nearest dark alley, and then you're Apparating us home, fingers still tight around my arm.
I can tell how angry you are, because you don't even bother with a key, unlocking the kitchen door with an impatient tap of your wand, and dragging me inside.
We're in the sitting room before you let go, giving me a shove. My back slams against the wall, your face inches from mine, eyes glowing like molten gold. I belatedly realise that the full moon is tomorrow night. This should be interesting.
"Do you imagine that I enjoy seeing you behave like that?" Your voice is dangerously quiet, and a shiver runs down my spine.
I tilt my head back, defiant. You can dominate me, and we both know it, but I won't be an easy prize. "Well, what d'you expect? You've hardly touched me since you got back."
"You'd blame me for the way you were acting tonight? It looked like you couldn't get on your knees fast enough." Your hands close on my shoulders. A shake. Your face is dead white. "Merlin, Sirius, I knew you were a tart, but that was disgusting."
"You can call me a tart?" I blaze, shoving back. "Fuck you, Moony. I've never been unfaithful to you."
"You think I don't remember?" Your voice is low, a rough growl. "How you moaned when Prongs fucked you? The look on your face when Lily made you come?"
"That was your bloody idea, you bastard! You were there, too. It's all right when you do it, but not when I do? Fucking hypocrite. I've never done anything with anyone that wasn't about you. Can you say the same? I made you my fucking world." I don't get the words out fast enough, and the last one shatters on my tongue. I swallow a sob.
"Well, maybe that wasn't such a good idea," you say coldly.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I snap, struggling for control.
"Just that I refuse to accept responsibility for you when you decide to make a fool of yourself in public. Do you think I've been unfaithful to you? Is that why you were looking at that Muggle like you wanted him to bend you over the bar?"
My mouth twists in a sneer. "Where do you get off, telling me what I can and can't do? What about you? What about that French tart of yours?"
Your jaw goes tight and your hand twitches, and for an instant, I think you might strike me. "Don't you say a bloody word about him. You know nothing about that!"
I fold my arms across my chest, defiant, and glare at you. "Well, maybe if you told me instead of just making me listen to you screw him in your sleep -- 'Oh, Alexandre!' You fucked him, didn't you?"
Before I can blink, my back hits the wall again, hard enough to knock the wind out of me. Your body is pressed tight against mine.
"I never fucking touched him," you hiss.
Your mouth is on mine, burning, insistent. My fingers clench in the fabric of your shirt, and I bite down hard on your lip. I'm not ready to yield just yet.
You jerk away, cursing. There's blood on your mouth.
"But you wanted to," I accuse between gasps. "I'll bet you wanted to make him scream."
"Not as much as I want to make you right now."
"So why don't you?"
I can taste the blood on your lips, and it's debatable who is dragging whom into the bedroom. I feel my shirt tear, but I don't care. Yours is going to be missing a few buttons, and Slytherin's bollocks, Moony, get these trousers off me right fucking now, because this is what I've been waiting for since you came back.
But you're not about to let me think I've won, are you? No, you always have to be the one in control.
"Get on the bed. Hands and knees."
We usually fuck face to face, but if this is what you want right now, then take it, and with my compliments. You're behind me, fumbling with the lube, and Merlin, aren't you even going to touch me? I get no more than your hands on my hips, holding me steady as you position yourself, but just feeling the slippery head of your cock pressing against me is enough to make me moan.
"Is this what you wanted, Sirius?" you pant. "You were acting like a whore tonight. Did you want to be used like one? Did you want that Muggle to do this to you?"
One sharp thrust, and I'm opening to you, biting back a whimper.
"Yes, let me hear you, slut. I know you like this."
I'm almost as angry as I am turned on right now, and if this is how you need me, then this is what I am. You want a whore tonight? I can be that. You want to punish me and call me names? Do it. I grind my hips back, moaning loudly, taking your cock as deeply as I can, revelling in the sensation of being stretched and filled. I'm rewarded with a low, guttural growl of pleasure.
"You never answered my question, slut." Your voice has that ragged edge to it that tells me it won't be long now. "Is this what you wanted?"
"Yes!" I hiss. "Wanted you to fuck me. Needed to feel you inside. Merlin, Moony, fucking touch me or I'll die!"
"Do it yourself, if you want it so much, slut," you pant.
With a groan of frustration, I shift my weight to one hand, my arm shaking under the force of your rough thrusts, sliding the other between my legs. My fingers stroke my prick, but it's you I want to touch.
Reaching farther back, I find slickness. Your cock sliding against my fingers, thick and hot, as you pound into me, hole stretched wide around you. Merlin, I needed this! My slippery hand wraps around my aching prick as another moan escapes my throat.
It doesn't take much. A few rough, unsteady strokes, and my balls tighten. I can feel my muscles contract, squeezing you tight. An animal sound escapes my lips, hot spunk spilling, slippery, over my hand as I milk the last of my orgasm onto the stained bedspread.
Your hips stutter to a halt. "Sirius --" you groan, and then you're over the edge, shuddering in helpless spasms, buried deep inside me.
My arm gives out, and we topple gracelessly onto the bed in a messy, sweaty tangle.
I think I deserve a fucking gold medal, don't you?
The day after the full moon, I'm at Order headquarters while you're recovering at home. I should be there, taking care of you, but Dumbledore has asked to see me. Hopefully this won't take long, and I will be home before you wake up.
For now, I'm waiting in Dumbledore's office, daydreaming about the night before last. It's been a cursed long time since we've had a night like that. I'd almost forgotten how -- single-minded you can be, the night before the full moon, waking me, time and again, to slake the lust of the rising wolf. I don't know how I ever managed it around classes and staying out all night with you on the full when we were at school. I don't know how you managed it before we started sleeping together.
I wince, shifting in my seat. I'm still a bit sore from your rough treatment, not to mention exhausted. At the moment, I want nothing more than to be curled up around you, sleeping it off.
Dumbledore sweeps into the room, and I rise to greet him. He's a busy man with a lot of demands on his time. I'm curious why he's summoned me.
"You wanted to see me, Sir?"
He gives me a tired smile. "You are not at school any longer, Sirius. I have told you before, you may dispense with formality and call me 'Albus'."
I grin. "All right, then, Albus. You wanted to see me?"
"A package arrived for you last night."
I frown, confused. "Here? Who is it from?"
"There was no return address, and the owl that delivered it was not one I recognised. A long-distance flier, by the look of it, though." He reaches into a drawer and hands me a very small, tidily wrapped bundle. "Due to the curious nature of the delivery, I hoped to prevail upon you to open it here."
I shrug and take out my old pocket knife -- the one you gave me for my twelfth birthday -- and cut the string. The bundle falls open to reveal a tiny stoppered phial filled with what looks like swirling, silvery mist.
I am more confused than ever. "What is it?"
Dumbledore picks up the phial, turning it over in his hands, frowning. "I believe it is a memory."
"Who would be sending me their memories?"
"I do not know. Perhaps it will become clear when you see its contents."
"How do I do that?"
"You may borrow my Pensieve, if you wish. Fortunately, I have had it brought down from Hogwarts. It is a very useful item which I prefer to keep close at hand under the current difficult circumstances."
The Pensieve turns out to be a large stone basin which allows the user to view extracted memories. They must be rare; I've never seen nor heard of such a thing before.
I unstop the phial and tip its contents out over the basin. The silvery vapour pours like a liquid, and forms a shallow, swirling pool.
"Do you wish me to accompany you?" Dumbledore asks.
I lick my lips, considering. "Nothing can -- happen to me while I'm in there, right?"
Dumbledore purses his lips. "Physically, you will be in no danger."
"Right. What do I do?" Interesting as this little mystery is, I'd like to do this as quickly as possible and get back to where I'm needed.
Dumbledore motions me to duck my head into the Pensieve, and suddenly I'm looking down into what appears to be a pub. It's not a place I recognise. It's dimly-lit, and there's something strange about the people that I can't immediately put my finger on. I lean in, trying to figure it out. There is a moment's disorientation, and then I'm standing in the middle of the pub.
The strangeness is explained almost at once, now that I can hear the conversation: the patrons are speaking French. My knowledge of the language is limited to the phrase toujours pur and the names of a variety of foods, so I can gain no sense from the conversations happening around me. That doesn't matter, though; the sinking sensation in my gut tells me that I already know what this is about. You're here somewhere, aren't you, Moony?
The pub isn't very large, so it doesn't take me long to find you. You're sitting at a small table in a shadowy corner with a glass of red wine. And him.
It's surreal that I can walk right up to you, and you won't look at me or acknowledge me in any way. I am invisible. It reminds me of the way I felt just after you came back. You carry on conversing in low voices, unaware of my presence.
I may not be able to understand a word of it, but I can read body language and tone well enough. He's flirting with you. The hint of a smile touches his full lips, and those blue eyes never waver over the rim of his wineglass as he leans forwards, hand on your arm. And you -- your eyes are hungry gold, and you're looking at him the way you're only supposed to look at me, curse you!
As I watch, he leans in closer, hand dropping from your arm to your knee. He cocks his head, asking you a question.
You raise your eyebrows, and say something low and quick.
Obviously you didn't tell him to take his hands off you, because he laughs, then glances around to see whether anyone is watching, and bends closer to kiss you briefly on the mouth.
You look startled, my Moony, and for a second, I think -- I hope -- that you're going to push him away and tell him off. But instead, your hand moves to cover his, and you smile.
I know that smile, even though I haven't seen it in ages. You used to give it to me all the time. It's the smile that says I'm going to be flat on my back and moaning the minute we're alone. But you're not giving it to me now.
My heart is hammering. Cold sweat breaks out on my palms. "Moony --" I beg, reaching for your arm, but my hand closes on nothing. I'm a ghost in this scene, and you don't even know I'm here. All I can do is watch as you say something to him that brings an answering smile to his lips.
My legs are trembling too badly to hold me. I'm on my knees, begging, pleading with you to stop, for Merlin's sake, please don't do this, Moony! I love you --
But you're standing up, putting on your coats, walking away from me, and I'm left alone with two half-empty wineglasses and the sound of my heart breaking.
The scene dims around me, and I cover my face with my hands, not wanting to see any more.
A hand shakes me roughly by the shoulder. "Sirius! Sirius, lad, are you well?"
I'm on my knees in Dumbledore's office at Order headquarters, staring mutely at a stone basin filled with swirling silver mist. I look up at the concerned face bent over me.
"He lied," I whisper, swallowing the scream of pain that threatens to choke me. "Remus lied to me."
It takes some time -- a couple of hours and five or six cups of hot calming tea -- before the shaking subsides and I start being fucking well hacked off with you. I gave you every fucking opportunity to tell me the fucking truth about what happened in France. I even asked you point-fucking-blank if you fucked him. And you hedged and waffled for weeks, but in the end, you told me you didn't, you fucking liar!
You're awake and sitting up in bed when I get home, dark circles under your eyes, sipping cold tea. I gather up your clothes from the floor and hurl them into your lap.
"Get up. We're going to headquarters."
"A fucking epiphany. Get your arse out of bed."
I don't help you dress -- I don't want to touch you right now -- so it's a while before we're ready to go. Waiting does not improve my mood.
We take the Floo network back to headquarters, and I have to touch you then, because you're still weak and the journey makes you dizzy. I let you lean on my arm as we make our way upstairs, but that's all. Dumbledore has left his office unlocked, at my request, but he's out for the afternoon, so we have the room to ourselves. Good. I don't want any interruptions. I want the fucking truth.
Your eyes narrow as I set the stone basin on the desk in front of you.
"That's a Pensieve."
Well, bully for you, Professor Half-Blood; you know more about the magical world than I do.
"You know how it works?"
"Right, then. In you go."
I follow you into the silvery mist, and we land, side by side, in the French pub. I can tell right away that you know exactly where you are. Your eyes go immediately to the cosy pair in the corner.
"Where did you get this, Sirius?"
"A friend sent it."
I shrug. "No idea. But you know what? I'm glad they did."
"We were followed," you murmur to yourself, as if that's what's important here.
Your eyes fix on each of the pub's patrons in turn, trying to spot the spy, but everyone is turned away, or engaged in their own conversations. Everyone except a cloaked and hooded figure near the door. The hood is so deep it's impossible to make out the face, but it's clear that whoever it is, they are watching you and the boy.
"Who are you?" you mutter, trying to see under the hood.
"Does it matter? Look! Look at that!"
I'm watching you again, your hand on his, heads bent together, smiling, whispering, like a pair of fucking lovebirds.
"Do I even need to tell you how much I fucking hate you right now, you fucking liar?" It's a cold, sick feeling. In almost ten years that we've known each other, I've never hated you. I've never hated anyone this much. And, Merlin, it hurts, Moony. How could you do this to me? "You could've just told me we were through."
Your eyes pull away from the proof of your infidelity, and you turn to me, hand out. "Sirius --"
I turn away. "If you're going to break my heart, then bloody well smash it and get it over with, Moony. I'm tired of you ripping it apart piece by piece."
"Sirius -- Padfoot -- I'm sorry."
The anger is back, blazing in my chest, as I whirl on you. "Sorry? You're sorry? Sorry you got caught. You could've been sorry about this as soon as you came home. But you weren't. You fucking lied to me, Remus. You told me you didn't -- that you never --"
"Sirius, I didn't. That --" you flap your hand at the disgusting display "-- that was a moment of weakness. The full moon coming on, the wine, the danger we were in. And I regret it. I do. But Sirius, I swear to you, nothing else happened."
"You expect me to believe that?" I snap. "When you're moaning his name in your sleep, and you won't even touch me without me pushing you to it? What am I supposed to think, except that it's him you want now, and not me?"
Your face is set, dead white, jaw clenched. "You want to know what happened? Do you, Sirius? Fine. Let me show you what we were headed into."
You draw your wand and raise it to your temple, teasing out a fine strand of silver. It costs you. You're too weak to do much magic yet. But you flick your wand like a whip, sending the memory arcing into the air. The pub shimmers out of focus around us, and we're standing in a forest at dawn.
There's blood everywhere. The naked, mangled bodies of a man and a woman are sprawled nearby. You're lying at our feet, naked and torn, too, just waking up. You're weaker and hurt worse than you were after you changed back this morning, but there's no one here to help you. I watch as you rise painfully to your knees.
"Alexandre! Alexandre! Où es-tu?" you call out hoarsely.
The only answer is a weak moan from the bushes. You crawl over on hands and knees to disentangle what's left of Alexandre d'Argenson. He's not pretty anymore. The remains of a crown of laurels is tangled in his matted hair. His left eye is a well of blood. Three fingers of his right hand are missing, bitten off. Rents and tears from teeth and claws cover the remainder of his body, blood drying on his dark skin. Somehow, he's breathing. My eyes blur out of focus, and I dash away the unexpected tears, as you gather him into your arms, murmuring soothing words.
"Is this what you wanted to see?"
I look up, numb, to where you're standing beside me, staring down at the scene, face unreadable.
"It was just a stupid prophecy." Your voice sounds dead and dull. "A boy with a birthmark, born to a werewolf mother. Voldemort promised the pack that sacrificing him would give them control over their transformations. But he had to be a virgin. They charmed him to keep him away from women, and told him that if he didn't show up on the appointed night, they would kill his mother and his sister. So he tried to foil their plans in the only way left open to him."
"But you didn't --?"
"What do you want me to tell you, Sirius?" you ask, voice thick with weariness and sorrow. "That I wanted to fuck him? I did. And he wanted me to do it. He crawled into my bed that night, after what you saw in the pub. But I stopped him. That's when I made him tell me everything. D'you want to see that memory, too? Is that the proof you need that I've been faithful to you?"
I hang my head, defeated. "No. I believe you. But --"
"But what, Padfoot?" Your voice is gentle now. All your anger has fled, and only deep sadness remains.
I look at you, eyes pleading. "But, Moony, if you wanted to confound the prophecy, then why didn't you --?"
The corner of your mouth twitches into a brief, humourless smile. "Prophecies are bollocks, Padfoot. It was just a legend Voldemort used to get the werewolves on his side. Anyway, I would never do that to you."
We stand together in silence, close but not touching, watching you hold the dying boy in the dawn light, weeping and murmuring and kissing his face. I'm not angry anymore, either. He deserved better than he got. Maybe he even deserved someone like you.
He tries to speak, and you say something in return.
"What did he say?"
"He asked about his sister."
I'm about to ask, too, but the words die in my throat as you -- you on the ground at our feet -- raise your head and look around. Your eyes fall on an object lying in the grass nearby -- a silver knife, the blade dark with dried blood. Wrapping your hand in a piece of torn fabric to avoid direct contact with the silver, you pick it up.
"Moony, what --?"
"This is the part I didn't want to have to talk about, Padfoot."
I watch, stunned, as you give Alexandre a last soft word and a kiss, and draw the blade across his throat. There's a gush of red. His body twitches violently, then goes still.
"There was no way to summon help," you whisper so softly I can barely hear you over the sound of your remembered self weeping at my feet. "I didn't know where my wand was, and there wasn't a village for miles. He might have lasted the day, but it would have been a slow, agonising death. He didn't deserve that."
"Oh, Moony --" My heart is breaking all over again, for you this time, instead of against you. I turn, reaching out to you, but your eyes are still fixed on the scene.
The other you tenderly kisses the dead boy's blood-smeared lips and rises unsteadily to his feet, looking around. There's a small cottage hidden in the shadow of the trees, and you enter, re-emerging a moment later wrapped in a woollen blanket. In silence, we follow your laboured progress up a hill to a rocky outcrop. You kneel at a small opening in the face of the rock, and --
She's shivering, her dark skin a mess of scratches and bruises, and she can't be more than two years old. You draw her out, wrapping her up in the blanket with you. She huddles against your chest, crying too quietly for a child so young, as you carry her back down to the cottage and disappear inside.
"Her name was Amabilis," you say softly. "She was born a werewolf. Her parents were dead." Your eyes stray briefly to the mangled bodies on the rocky ground below before finally looking at me. There are tears on your cheeks. "I wanted her to be ours, Padfoot. I tried. I petitioned the French Ministry for custody. I fought them for almost two weeks. But they wouldn't let me keep her. Slytherin's arse, Padfoot! No one could care for her better than we could!"
With a sob, you crumble, but it doesn't matter, because I'm there to catch you. Always there for you, my Moony. We're huddled on the floor of Dumbledore's office, and you're breaking down in my arms, sobbing your heart out, tears falling on me like a blessing. My heart is soaring, because you do need me after all, and as long as that's true, nothing else matters.
"C'mon, Moony," I whisper into your hair. "Let's go home."
The plan is to get you back into bed. To hold you and kiss you and sleep with my arms around you all through the night, and in the morning, to make love to you with the slow devotion that you deserve.
But now we're home, and I've missed something, because you're packing again.
"What are you doing?"
Hands on the bed. Head bent. Not looking at me. "I think -- I need to go home for a bit. I need to see my family."
"When will you be back?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know, Sirius."
And that's when it hits me. You're leaving me. After everything, you're leaving me. I sag against the door frame, feeling like the world has been yanked out from under my feet.
"Moony, please. Don't --"
"Please don't make this harder than it has to be, Sirius." You're back in control now, as I'm spiralling away from it.
"But -- I love you, Moony." I can hear the panic in my voice.
You look up, beautiful brown eyes sad. "I love you, too, Padfoot. I'm just not so sure we're good for one another anymore."
How can you say that, when all I've ever done is try to make myself better for you? "So you're just going to run away? Can't we talk about this?"
You sit down on the bed with a sigh, scrubbing your hands over your face. "That's part of the problem, Padfoot. We don't talk about things anymore. I know that's half my fault, and I'm sorry. I should've told you what happened, but it was such a bloody awful mess that I didn't want to go through it all again."
I'm kneeling on the floor at your feet, wanting to touch you, to comfort you, but I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to anymore. "We've talked about it now, Moony. I understand. I'm sorry I was such a prick before." Don't leave me. Don't make me pointless again.
You smile wearily. "Being a prick is part of your charm, Padfoot. I wouldn't want you to change."
"But if I'm not good for you, then I need to change, don't I? Just tell me what you need, Moony. I can be anything you want."
The sadness is back. "That's the other part of the problem, Padfoot. We've come to depend on one another too much."
"What's wrong with people needing each other?" I'm angry again. I don't want to be angry with you again today. There's been too much of that already. "I want to help you through this. I want us to do this together. I want --"
"People don't always get everything they want, Sirius. It's time you learned that. I want to stay, but --"
"Then stay. Stay with me, Moony. Let's go to bed. We can talk about this tomorrow."
You shake your head. "I think we both need some time to think about the bigger picture."
The bigger picture. When have I ever given a fuck about the bigger picture? Maybe it's selfish, but all I want is for this war to be over so that the world can go back to being a safe place for us and our friends again.
I see my mistake now, though. It was in thinking that I was your world, as you are mine. But your world is bigger than that, isn't it, Moony? That's part of what I love about you, even when I hate it. Even when it means you're walking away from me.
I follow you to the sitting room, feeling lost, and watch numbly as you throw Floo powder onto the grate.
"I'll see you soon, Padfoot," you promise, and I suppose that's better than goodbye, even if it means the same thing.
Then you're gone, and I'm left in ruins behind you as the tears begin to fall.