Summary: Post-Azkaban, portrait of Sirius. Stands alone, but officially part three of three interconnected ficlets.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and its characters belong to JKR and Warner Brothers, not me. I'm not making any money off of this - it is done soley for love of the characters and fun.
On some days his hands shook, a trembling so fine he almost had to imagine it to see it.
He didn’t look at his hands, not on those days.
Not on most others either.
They looked too long, too spidery, too old to be his.
When he was by himself the house would creak and whisper, Kreacher’s mumbling carrying through the rooms and sounding like dark voices . The non-silence of the floorboards and walls, of the house-elf and all things that were meant to be soundless, heightened the silence of his own existence. Almost like he was a step out of time with the rest of the world. On occasion he entertained the thought that if he could just sit still, just for a moment, just long enough, he would fall back into place and time would reassert itself as it should.
Only he couldn’t sit still, not completely, not consciously. He’d settle down, maybe grab a book, and look up later only to realize the light in the room had shifted with the day, his foot had been tapping almost violently against the floor, and he couldn’t remember a word of the pages he’d read.
It was worse in the kitchen, where every sound he made seemed amplified to the point that he couldn’t bear to make anything more than a peanut butter sandwich. For the first time in his life he drank his tea black, just to avoid the clinking of the spoon stirring in milk or sugar. He was never hungry.
Dumbledore sent people, sometimes, order members ostensibly there to give him a message to pass along, or a report. Those days were worse. Those were the days that Sirius lost hold of himself, the rational, sane part of his mind seeming to watch from a distance as a kind of chaos seized him. Movement, and talking, and people - even just one - everything went by so fast, and he would realize afterwards that he had little recollection of what he’d said or what had been said. Reports he could remember, messages, his mind clung to like the calm eye of the storm. Not that they mattered.
He forgot things in the kitchen too. The Jar of peanut butter on the table, the dishes in the sink, the stove burning for tea. Kreacher caught anything before it became too disastrous, but after the third time the elf missed something until after the house alarms went off Dumbledore decided he might need better eyes than the worn out servant’s on Sirius.
And so it was that Remus arrived.
Sirius almost laughed, that first day, at just how awkward and uncertain his old friend looked standing in his kitchen with sooty bags at his feet. But before he could the chaos took over and the other him was laughing, too hard, too long.
It was three days before the storm in his consciousness abated, and Remus’ presence became a part of the house, the routine. During the long hours they reminisced, and joked, and all in all did a fair impersonation that nothing had changed. Sirius got the feeling, when he woke up that third day, that the storm wasn’t so much gone as exhausted.
There was little to say to each other after that. Remus made most of the meals, cooking for Sirius as well as himself. Sirius would have offered to help if he’d ever thought of food.
At least Remus was quiet. In the evenings Sirius could hear the old record player going softly in his room, the space and door dulled music adding itself to the non-silence of the house.
He knew Remus was trying to help him somehow, could see the concern in the honey-brown eyes. Though part of him wanted to laugh at this, and part of him wanted to thank Remus - dear, sweet, sad Remus - he gave no response to the looks or offers other than to turn his head away.
Which got them here, he supposed, with Remus standing in front of the kitchen sink, twisting a tea towel in his hands and looking at Sirius from beneath his lashes.
A pause. Remus doesn’t like that Sirius always calls him Moony, he can tell, but ‘Remus’ sticks in his throat.
“Siri…” Sirius looks up from collecting the dinner dishes at this quietly spoken old nickname, “come here.” Remus puts the tea towel on the counter and holds one hand out - just a little ways from his body - to Sirius.
He hesitates, conscious of a tension between them that he hasn’t felt in a long time. Cautiously he looks at Remus, trying to read the truth of this sudden invitation in the man’s stance, in his eyes. But emotions are flickering, elusive things in one’s self, let alone others, and all he can decipher for certain is a pleading, desperate quality to the look.
Leaving the dishes he steps forward, close to Remus, but doesn’t take the other man’s hand. It doesn’t seem to matter, Remus simply reaches out further, his hand settling against Sirius’ hip and pulling him forward gently. When Remus’ other hand comes up to rest against his cheek, Sirius finds himself speaking automatically.
Don’t do this, he means to say, but the statement is cut off by the brush of Remus’ lips against his own.
“Just let me -” Remus starts, and then kisses him fully, already parted lips allowing their tongues to meet seamlessly, slowly.
He still tastes like tea, Sirius can’t help thinking, even as he surrenders to the kiss and his thoughts become the feel of Remus’ mouth on his and the softness of his jumper as Sirius’ hands come up to pull him closer.
When the kiss ends, and Sirius’ forehead is resting against Remus’, he tries again, “Remus?”
“Shh,” Remus strokes his cheek, “It’s okay.”
It’s isn’t, but Remus’ eyes are so steady, so certain, that Sirius does the only thing he can do and gives in.
Remus leads him upstairs, one hand holding his as if afraid Sirius is going to just stop, and given the chance, he might. Upstairs and into Remus’ bedroom - a detail Sirius feels absurdly conscious of and grateful for - and onto the bed.
They strip slowly, as if by silent agreement that the teasing play of cotton and skin against calloused fingers, the tension and release of undoing a belt, a zip, will be their foreplay. Remus moves down, placing little wet kisses against his neck, his shoulders, and Sirius finds he can only hold on, hands half-gripping the other man, uncertain whether he should push him away or pull him closer.
Then Remus is laying back, pulling Sirius with him, on top of him. The slide of their bodies together, both rough and sharp with history, makes Sirius gasp. They touch; warm skin, hot cocks, hair soft and coarse, all of it fleeting, like the ghost of a memory. Remus’ legs are parted, bracketing Sirius, and now he reaches over, pulling a small bottle from the bedside drawer. It’s unopened, Sirius can’t help noticing, and the sudden certainty that Remus planned this snuffs something in him swiftly and silently.
He turns away as Remus opens the bottle, not looking back until it has been placed on the side table again. Remus’ hand, slick and cool with the oil, slides along Sirius’ shaft. It’s palm-only, teasing at first, then he curls his fingers and coats Sirius in earnest. Two or three strokes and Remus is lifting his hips, shifting and positioning the tip of Sirius’ cock at his entrance.
Sirius doesn’t move, looking into Remus’ eyes and searching for something he can’t see in the dark of the room. He’s almost convinced himself to pull away when Remus’ legs circle around his back and pull him forward.
When he moves at last Remus' body is just as welcoming, just as warm and perfect as he always imagined it to be. He slides in with one slow thrust, encouraged by the steady pressure of Remus' legs around him. Sirius keeps his eyes closed tightly, his brow furrowed and lips parted in an expression that is both pleasure and pain. Once he's fully sheathed he opens his eyes. There's a small, peaceful smile tipping the corners of Remus' lips, and he looks, to Sirius, happy. The expression startles a breath from sirius; it staggers from him, sounding bruised and torn.
Remus brushes his lips against Sirius', more a caress than kiss. Then tilts his head, kissing along Sirius' neck, shoulders, anywhere he can reach.
Remus shifts his hips and Sirius responds on instinct, pulling out and thrusting back in. He braces himself with his arms on either side of Remus' head and lets the other man guide him. It's slow, and Sirius almost wishes Remus had made it hard and fast. It feels good, and the unfamiliar pleasure gets trapped somewhere in his lungs. They are both silent, though he almost thinks he can hear the faintest of whimpers in Remus' panting breaths. Sirius lowers his head, hiding his face against Remus' throat.
The building pressure in his lungs is almost overwhelming and he opens his mouth, panting. Part of him, desperate, tries to explain that it‘s too much, but he can only get as far as Remus' name. Remus arches, his hands scratching down Sirius' back as his release spills between them. Sirius breaks away from Remus' neck with a cry that is nearly a sob as the pressure escapes and he comes.
He doesn't move for long moments, lying atop Remus and feeling every breath sharply. as if there were nothing else to fill the space inside him. Remus runs his fingers lightly over the back of his neck, getting them tangled in Sirius' dark hair. Eventually, Sirius pulls out and rolls to the side, staring up at the ceiling. Remus wastes no time in sliding out of the bed and going to the bathroom. In the darkness Sirius listens to the sounds of movement and running water aware, out of the corner of his eye, of the strip of yellow light coming from beneath the door. He doesn't think, and so it seems an eternity before Remus returns, damp cloth in hand. He kisses the edge of Sirius' mouth as he climbs back into the bed. Shutting his eyes Sirius tilts his head and kisses Remus fully. His move to take the cloth from Remus is rebuffed with a light pushing away of his hand. Remus cleans him off, pressing kisses on him the whole time, before turning away to toss the cloth into the nearby hamper.
Remus curls up beside him, pulling Sirius to face him. Sirius doesn't resist, but faces Remus in the darkness. Shifting closer, one arm curled over Sirius' hip, Remus kisses him one final time before pulling back.
"Goodnight, Sirius.” He shuts his eyes.
Unaware of moving, Sirius raises one hand to ghost his fingertips against Remus' lips. The corners twitch up under his touch, and there is the faintest flicker of Remus' eyelashes in acknowledgement. Sirius swallows, and settles his hand on the sheets between them. He shuts his eyes and curls up a bit tighter in the bed.
They continue like that in the following days. Remus kisses him good morning, and against the counter at lunch. Before bed they make love, learning the planes and movements of the other's body. If Remus notices that Sirius never initiates he says nothing. He seems more relaxed now, less anxious, and Sirius is glad for that. He's glad too that it means Remus no longer looks at him with that unbearable mix of concern, helplessness, and pity.
Sirius doesn't fall asleep for hours, and begins to wake up long before dawn. He lies, curled around Remus, trying to push away the truths he can feel etching themselves into him. Tonight Remus spoke to him, during, and the three words drag on his thoughts. For all that he can't get hold of them, everything retreating when he gets too close. What remains in their wake is his only certainty anymore, the constant that draws his eyes when they seem unable to focus on anything; it is too late. Remus' touch goes no further than his skin. What too little is left of him is draining away in the dusty, silent minutes.
He pulls Remus tighter against him, fingers brushing against the soft skin and hair below Remus' navel. It will not be long, he knows, and so he accepts Remus' lies and says nothing of not sleeping or the humming emptiness just behind his eyes.
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