Characters: Remus and Sirius
Disclaimer: They're not mine. I'm just here to play with them. Like Ken and well, Ken.
Wordcount: 3,882 thereabouts.
Summary: Give me just one part of you to cling to, and keep me everywhere you are. It's just enough to steal my heart and run and fade out with the falling sun.
Notes: Written for blanketforts, I've incorporated every prompt up until now and will continue the story with the remaining prompts. A huge thank you to kethlenda for the beta, especially since yesterday was her birthday.
One Moment More
The morning of New Year’s Day dawned crisp and clear, the first beautiful day in over a month. Rays of sunlight spilled through the kitchen windows, falling gently over the oak farmer's table, warming its weathered top. Slow, pale yellow light illuminated the man sitting alone across from the wide glass covering the back wall.
Remus tilted his head as he watched small black birds fly from snow covered branch to snow covered branch, their excited chatter muffled but loud enough to reach his ears indoors. In their haste to reach the scattered seeds, their little feet pushed tufts of snow off the branches to plop soundlessly onto the ground. With a small smile and a sigh, Remus stood and stretched, his back cracking ominously.
He was awake, the rest of the house silent except for an occasional snore from the other room. He quietly moved through the kitchen, emptying half-drunk bottles of ale down the drain, vanishing the spills and ashes off of counters and table tops.
When there was nothing left to clean, he turned his attention to the parlor, stopping short in the doorway, remembering why he could not bear to be in there in the first place.
They lay on the sofa, limbs entangled, long hair the color of cinnamon against the short spiky mess of black.
Remus clenched his fists together at his sides until he felt his nails enter the fleshy part of his palm. How could he not have realized this day was coming? How could he have not realized what he thought, what he dreamed…was just that. A dream.
Why had it never occurred to him someday Sirius might want a wife, a family? Especially now with James and Lily planning for their future. Even if Sirius felt the same, he would never act on his feelings. It would always be a kept secret; never would he be able to do what she had done this evening, crawling into his lap on a silly dare, her whispered words faintly coloring Sirius’ face. Never would he be able to lie on the couch in James and Lily’s flat with Sirius’ arms around him.
Was it too much to ask for one moment more, just one moment more with Sirius before a woman came between them and complicated his world?
His entire body ached, from the dull throbbing at the back of his neck to the space surrounding his heart. The back of his throat was raw from the firewhisky and his eyes felt swollen and bloodshot. He swallowed hard against the pain and the girl in Sirius’ arms shifted and sighed in her sleep.
But she wasn’t just any girl. She was Eva and a friend of Lily’s, invited here for the sole purpose of meeting Sirius. Lily had given Remus a satisfied half smile before yawning and standing to follow the very drunk James to bed. “I think they may be good for one another,” she whispered as she placed a hand on Remus’ shoulder. She squeezed gently and left him and Peter alone, the sounds of wet kisses and soft moans haunting him from the other room.
“Well,” Remus said when the silence between him and Peter stretched and swelled and threatened to overwhelm them. “Fancy another game of exploding snap?”
Peter looked up at him from his glass, his face troubled. “No. No, I don’t think so. You’re sober and I’m…I’m not so maybe, I…maybe I’ll just go.”
“Is everything all right, Peter?” Remus cocked his head to the side and watched as Peter’s fingers twittered over his glass. With a sudden flash of insight, Remus realized Peter was just as sober as he was.
“Of course, Moony!” Peter said exuberantly, his voice briefly muffling the noises from the other room. He stood up from the chair and pulled his wand from his sleeve. Without saying anymore, he Disapparated, leaving Remus quite alone and staring at an empty chair.
They make a handsome couple, Remus thought through a heavy filter of jealousy. She was extraordinary, and he liked her quite a bit until Lily pulled him aside and let him in on her little plan. Eva’s long hair tumbled from the cushions of the couch, pooling against the grainy wood, wisps of reddish brown tresses dancing in the sunlight creeping ever closer along the floor. Sirius’ fingers were entwined with one thick lock, the curled ends against his mouth, giving the impression he had fallen asleep while rubbing it against his lips.
Remus suddenly felt he was going to be ill.
He accio’d his cloak and wrapped it around his shoulders. As he pulled his wand from his pocket, a few coins fell and pattered against the hardwood floor. Sirius stirred and opened his eyes. “Moony?” he asked, blinking his eyes rapidly, groaning as he untangled a hand and clasped it to his forehead.
Remus Dispparated with a loud CRACK and Merlin, he hoped it hurt.
And here he was, outside of his childhood home, staring at boarded doors and broken windows. The hardened snow crunched under his feet as he walked to the front porch. How long had it been since he’d come home? Four years, three?
A flash of memory filled his head, him sitting here as a small boy, watching the wolf man jump from behind tree to tree. A month the creature stalked him, he realized now. A month the man stood in the woods in front of his house watching him, learning his routines, his habits, playing hide and seek with the easy tempered and curious child. He shook his head and the beautiful house of his memory juxtaposed for a moment with the ruin he was staring at.
Remus turned to go, and a flash of impossible pink caught his eye. He knelt in the snow, not caring how it melted beneath his heat and soaked through the knees of his trousers. With a shaking hand, he scooped snow away from the small, lonely flower blooming in the hazy shade of winter.
Wrong season, wrong month, and yet, there it was, where it never bloomed before.
The ties surrounding his heart loosened a bit. He stood, pushing his shaggy hair from his eyes, water dripping from his fingers and down his face. It was time to go home. He was freezing, and a cup of hot, honey-sweetened tea was in his future.
There were decisions to be made.
As soon as he could move his head without wondering if he were going to die, Sirius eased himself off of James’ couch and crawled into the kitchen. Padfoot was needed right now. Padfoot would be able to lap a gallon of water in the time in would take Sirius to take a breath. Padfoot would be able to curl up into a ball and sleep this hangover away. All Sirius needed to do was reach the cabinet were Lily kept his dog bed and –
“Morning,” Eva said brightly as she crossed her long legs under the table.
“Bollocks,” Sirius groaned, hating her instantly. No one should ever be so cheerful after slamming back tumbler after tumbler of firewhisky. He grabbed onto the back of a kitchen chair and pushed himself into it, knowing as long as she remained, he would not be able to transform.
Two hours and three administrations of Pepper-Up Potion later, Sirius finally felt human enough to attempt to Apparate home. Eva kissed him softly on the lips as she pressed the paper with her address into his hand. “I’d like to see you again, Sirius,” she whispered, her voice husky before she turned and Disapparated from the small cottage.
The sound sent a silver spike of pain through his forehead. “Not bloody likely,” Sirius said as he crumpled the parchment and chucked it into the banked fireplace.
After giving this whole Apparating home business way more thought than normal, Sirius decided it would probably safer for him if he just floo’d home. If Moony had been here, he could have just side-along Apparated with him –
Where was Moony anyway? Why’d he leave so suddenly like that? Was it because of the bird? Did he wreck something maybe Moony had planned with Eva? They had been getting along quite well before James decided everyone needed to play drunken Exploding Snap. After a few rounds of that, everything got a bit, well, fuzzy. He had vague impressions of him and the girl tumbling out of the kitchen and onto the sofa, her landing on top of him. How soft she was as he shifted, her tongue filling his mouth, but he hadn’t…he didn’t think they…
What if they did? What if that’s what the expression on Moony’s face meant. He grabbed some greenish sand from the bowl on the mantle and threw it into fireplace. He stepped into the large green flames almost forgetting to say where he was going.
He stepped out of the fireplace in their flat, the sound of the flames dying behind him the only sound in the large front room. Was Moony home? He walked to the front door and sighed in relief. Moony’s boots were propped up in front of the ancient radiator, puddles of melted snow spreading along the worn rug.
So Moony hadn’t come right home then. Sirius mumbled a spell and jets of hot air flew from the end of his wand and evaporated the water before it could soak through the carpet and stain the floor. Where’d he go before he came home?
Remus lay on his bed facing the wall, knowing for better or worse, his decision was made. Diagon Alley had been nearly deserted in the early morning and he watched the owl carrying his note to Dumbledore as it became smaller and smaller in the brilliant blue sky. For a brief moment, he second guessed his decision, but it was done and now out of his hands.
It really was for the best, he was needed and he would be able to do something he loved. If he stayed here he would only begin to feel more and more isolated, more haunted, knowing he could never have the life his friends could.
James had Lily, and maybe if Sirius were left to his own devices he would fall in love with Eva. They were convinced Peter had his own bird he was squeezing on the side, and from his guilty looks, she was probably a Muggle. Over a glimmering ocean he would travel and land on foreign shores, but the books, oh the books would welcome him and make him feel at home. He would live in darkness, the flickering of candles beside his precious tomes the only light to read by and he would discover a way to destroy this threat to their world. He would work and he would read and he would forget.
He would do his damnedest to forget laughing eyes and long fingers, the musty smell of wet fur in the moonlight. He would fill his mind up with words and spells and there would be no more room for men named Black.
A cold draft drifted up his side and tickled the inside of his ear. A long wet tongue began to lick the side of his neck furiously and Remus awoke with a spastic jerk. “Padfoot!” he admonished as shifted into a sitting position, pushing the large dog away. “Enough!” he growled as the dog tried to crawl into his lap to finish what he’d begun.
A light tapping rang on the bedroom window and the dog’s shaggy ears pricked up attentively. He watched as Remus stood and threw open the sash, allowing the post owl to fly into the room.
“What’s that?” Sirius asked from behind him as Remus untied the note from the owl’s outstretched leg.
“A note from Dumbledore,” Remus muttered as he pulled on his threadbare dressing gown. He walked from the room, not looking behind him at Sirius, but who he knew was following, Remus could smell him. He unrolled the parchment and read hurriedly. When he was done, he stopped suddenly and Sirius walked right into the back of him.
“Whataja stop for, Moony?” Sirius asked, holding his nose.
“Two days,” Remus mumbled as he waved his wand at the tea kettle. He had two days to prepare to leave. One day for good byes and one day with Dumbledore, receiving instructions and then he would be gone.
Sirius rubbed at the bridge of his nose and watched Moony shrewdly. “What’s going on? What’s the note say?”
Remus poured his tea into his cup before answering. “Dumbledore offered me a mission abroad and I…I accepted.”
“What?” Sirius roared. “You did what?” An icy sensation flowed from the top of his head and throughout his body. He was not amused. “Let me see the parchment.” He snatched it up before Remus could hand it to him, his eyes scanning over Dumbledore’s neat handwriting.
“Greece?” he asked weakly when he was done.
“Istanbul, then Greece and finally Alexandria. There are ancient texts housed in those cities Dumbledore would like me to read. He thinks what is in them may help with…you know,” Remus waved his hand absently.
“But, but…what about your condition, what about the werewolf? Who would look over you when you, when you change?”
Remus twisted his mouth into a sardonic grin. “Where I’ll be going has dungeons. I’ll be able to lock myself in and protect the books.”
Sirius let out a harsh laugh. “Books! You’re worried about the books? What about the people? Will there be people there with you?”
Remus looked up at him. “I don’t know,” he answered honestly.
“Why are you doing this Moony? Is it because of Eva? If you had any designs on her mate, I didn’t know…I’m sorry…please don’t leave because of her.”
Remus sat down heavily in their only armchair. “I’m not leaving because of her.”
“Why then, Moony? Why?”
Remus looked down at his hands before answering. “Why not? I don’t have anything holding me here. I don’t have anything—“
“You have me! And James and Lily and even for Merlin’s sake, Peter! Isn’t that enough?”
Remus closed his eyes as a sensation of intense sickness and desolation swept over him. “No,” he said. “It isn’t enough any longer.”
Sirius lashed out his arm and swept a lamp from the side table to the floor.
He turned on his heel, stormed from the room and Remus winced a moment later as the sound of a loud CRACK reverberated through the flat. He leaned his elbow on the chair arm and rubbed his forehead with his fingers. A headache was rapidly forming behind his right eye.
“He’s leaving!” Sirius stormed without preamble as he Apparated into James and Lily’s kitchen. Lily jumped out of her skin, and spun around to face Sirius, a long wooden wand in her hand.
“How many times, Sirius Black? How many times do I have to tell you to stop doing that! I swear I’m going to start hexing you!” Lily turned back to her casserole in the oven. With a flick of the wand, the casserole stirred itself and then slid back farther into the heat. The oven door shut behind Lily as she walked to the sink.
“Who’s leaving?” she asked.
“Moony! He’s accepted a mission from Dumbledore and he’s leaving England!”
“Who’s leaving England?” James said as he wandered into the room, scratching at his T-shirt covered belly. “Uh, hullo, Sirius. I thought I heard your dulcet tones.”
“Moony’s leaving England, apparently,” Lily said as she slid into a kitchen chair.
James pushed his hair out of his eyes. “Is there any coffee left, love?”
“I think so. Let me get you a cup.”
“Did you two not hear me? Moony. Is. Leaving.”
James thanked Lily for the cup of coffee as she placed it in front of him and he sipped before he answered. “We heard you. Where is he going?”
“Istanbul, Greece, Egypt. Dumbledore wants him to find some old books and research ancient spells.”
“Good for him,” Lily said.
James was nodding his head in agreement with Lily. “This is what Remus has been preparing for his entire life. He can’t get a job with the Ministry and he’s been floundering since we’ve left Hogwarts, wasting his intelligence on menial jobs.”
“What did you think of Eva, Sirius? She sent me a note earlier today thanking me for introducing her. Will you see her again?”
Sirius turned his head towards Lily. Staring at her incredulously, he squeezed his eyes shut and said, “what?”
“My friend, Sirius. Eva. The girl you snogged on the sofa last night.”
“Haven’t given her a second thought since she left here this morning.”
“Sirius,” James growled warningly.
Sirius retained his affability, but there was a distinct hardening of his eyes. “Although, now that you mention it, she was soft and useful for last night. Had a bit of a problem with her breath though,” he waved his hand in front of his nose. “What did you say her name was again?”
Lily’s face darkened with each word he spoke. “How dare you! Eva is a perfectly wonderful woman and not to mention the only woman I know who would agree to meet with you! You’re absolutely horrid, you know that! No wonder Moony’s leaving! He’s probably doing it to get away from you!”
James jumped up from the table and put his arms around Lily’s middle to keep her away from her wand. “I think you better leave, Pads.”
“I’m done here anyway.”
“That’s right you are! Until you can apologize to Eva and to me, you’re not welcome in my home!”
James tightened his grip on his intended. “Lily, hush. This is my home too.”
Sirius strode away from Godric’s Hollow and the moment he was sure he wouldn’t be seen, he transformed into Padfoot. Shadows were gathering as the sun sank below the horizon and the dog wanted to run.
Mist rose from the melting snow as the temperature dropped. The dog loped through it, digging into the ice and dirt, shards of rock and ice pattering along his underbelly as he ran. The naked trees loomed high above, silhouetted against the violet sky but he was not afraid. He was the only predator loose in these woods this night. A rabbit to chase was what he craved. A rabbit to chase and catch and kill and eat.
Maybe he would feel better then.
The flat was silent when Sirius returned. Soft flickering light made the shadows dance along the hallway, so he knew Remus was home. Why was he so opposed to Moony leaving? Why was the idea of him not being here with him pulling at his insides and tying them into knots? He leaned his body against the wall and slid to the floor, staring at the hardwood before him until small white stars swam before his eyes.
Where would he be without his Moony? What about the full moon nights when the wolf and the dog ran alongside one another, each vying for the best smells, and tastes? What if Moony left and something happened to him without Padfoot there to watch over him? What if he were hunted, captured, killed in those crazy countries with their crazy beliefs. Who was going to make him tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches whenever he felt a chill coming on?
Remus sat at the desk in the front room, the swishing sound of his quill competing with the crackling log on the fire. He paused for a moment, rereading something he wrote, and crossed out entire lines before he leaned back in his chair and scratched at the top of his head with his quill.
“Moony?” Sirius said, instantly feeling guilty as Remus jumped and spun around.
“I didn’t know if you’d be home tonight,” Remus hastily tucked whatever he had been writing under a book three inches thick before standing, the quill turning in his fingertips. “I was writing you a note…in case you weren’t…in case you didn’t come home.”
“Why?” Sirius asked as he moved farther into the room. It was cold in the hallway.
“I’m leaving in the morning.”
“You are,” Sirius said as he fell into the armchair. He leaned his head back and looked up at Remus. “So soon?”
“So you were writing me a note. Why?”
Remus shifted from foot to foot as he cleared his throat. “Because I wanted you to know exactly why I asked to be assigned this mission.”
Sirius brought his head up. “You asked for this mission? Earlier you said you’d been – Never mind. What were you going to say?”
“When?” Remus asked.
“In the note. What were you trying to say when you scratched out the last four lines?”
Remus blinked his throat suddenly dry. “You saw that?”
“Yeah. Of course,” Sirius waved his hand towards the desk. “Why don’t you let me read it now?”
Remus slowly shook his head, the color draining from his face. “No, I don’t think so. Now that you’re here, I can tell you what I was…”
“No!” Remus exclaimed as he tried to catch the yellowing sheet of paper as it flew over his head into Sirius’ waiting hand. “Please, Pads,” he said as he reached for it. “I wasn’t finished. I can’t let you read it yet. If you read it now,” Remus licked his lips as he shifted from foot to foot, “when I haven’t been able to correctly figure out how to thank you everything you’ve done for me since I’ve met you, you’ll be doing yourself a huge disfavor.”
“Hang on,” Sirius said, bringing the parchment up to his face for a read and then jerked it up and out of Moony’s grasp as he made another grab for it. “You’re writing me a letter thanking me for being your friend all these years? Are you using a lot of big words?”
“Yes! Yes! And I’ll put in footnotes with the definitions at the bottom! Please, Pads, just give it back and let me finish it, mate.”
“What sort of wanker tries to read a letter about himself before the author is finished with it? Not this wanker, that’s for sure.” Sirius held out the parchment and Remus took it, his eyes closing briefly in relief. He rolled it up into a tight little tube and then folded it into a neat little square before tucking it into his pocket.
“Now how’s about a pint then?” Sirius turned and walked into their kitchen area, pulling two amber bottles from the ice box.
“What?” Remus asked, a large smile breaking out on his face. “After all the drinking you did last night?”
Sirius brought a bottle over to Remus and said, “hair of the dog, man. Hair of the dog.” He clinked his bottle against Moony’s and then took a long pull off of his ale. He coughed and shook his head, clearing it. “Tell me about this SECRET mission you’re leaving me for. Do you think I could come too?”