FIC: "Remains" (Harry Potter; S/R)
In other fic news, I've also finished a 6x2 in the Moments series, and will have that up soon.
REMAINS (S/R; rated PG-13 for implied sexual situations)
The kitchen had cleared except for Sirius--and for Remus, who had, of course, stayed behind with him. The pipe smoke had thinned, and the remnants of dinner cleared away, but Sirius made no sign that he was ready to let go of his anger.
As he'd done so often since they'd come to Number 12, Grimmauld Place, Remus sighed quietly. He hated this house, not just for the doxies and the boggarts, nor the smell of dust and grime, nor even for the echoes of Dark Magic that lingered on everything, but for what Sirius became when they were here.
He was pacing just now, full of restless energy and nothing to do with it but storm and lash out at the very people who were supposed to be his friends.
"Sirius, sit down," Remus said, his voice quiet and imploring, so very different from just a little while ago, when those same words had come out sounding rather like an order. "You're going to wear out the floor."
"Not bloody likely."
"Your shoes, then." It was a feeble joke, and he knew it, but he tried smiling and was rewarded by a very faint lightening of Sirius' scowl. "Please?"
Sirius grimaced and flopped back into a chair, not gracelessly, because Sirius could never be graceless, but carelessly, as if it didn't matter to him whether he sat or stood or fell on his arse on the stone floor.
"There." Sirius propped his elbow on the table and leaned his chin on the heel of his hand, drumming the fingers of his other hand on the scarred, stained wood. "Got your wish."
"Yes, I did." Remus looked down at the table and smiled more broadly, a very real smile this time. "I'm with you."
"Remus--" Sirius rolled his eyes, but his mouth softened into a reluctant grin. "That's bloody unfair of you."
"I had a well-deserved bad humor going there. And now you've gone and cheered me right out of it."
Sirius snorted. "Liar."
Remus reached across the table and laid his hand over Sirius'. Would he ever get used to the wonder of it, that after so long, he could actually reach across the table and touch Sirius? Or look across a room and see him, roll over in bed and wriggle into his arms? After more than a year, he still found it hard to believe, but that didn't stop him from reveling in it, regardless of Sirius' mood.
A mood that had only momentarily improved, it seemed. Sirius' grin faded, leaving his face cold and weary, and Remus knew he was thinking of the earlier argument over telling Harry about Voldemort's movements. "Molly means well, you know. She really does."
Sirius twined Remus' fingers in his own, but he stared into the fire, his eyes taking on the distant, unreachable look that Remus had grown to dread. "I know. She loves Harry, and that counts for a lot. It does." He sighed and ran his free hand through his long hair. "But she doesn't love me, and that's a fact."
"You've not exactly shown her your best side."
"It's the only side I've got left. I keep telling you, this is all there is. These are my remains you're looking at."
Remus squeezed Sirius' hand. "I know differently."
Sirius turned his face back from the fire, and Remus felt as though he'd returned from someplace far away. "When are you going to stop believing in me?"
"Some time after I stop breathing, I imagine."
"You're a fool, Remus." Sirius lifted Remus' hand and kissed his fingers, then held it against his cheek. "But I'm glad of it."
"I love you."
"I know you do. And I…I…" Sirius' mouth twisted as though he were in pain. He clutched Remus' hand so tightly it hurt, but Remus didn't try to pull away.
"Sirius, don't. I don't need the words to know it."
Sirius' face screwed up and he looked like he might cry, except that his eyes remained dry. Azkaban had taken all of his tears a long time ago. "I don't deserve you."
"I thought we'd agreed years ago that we deserve each other." Those days, those boys, had vanished, but Remus refused to believe they were gone altogether. Something remained of them, in him and in Sirius. He found glimmers of them now and then, mostly in small moments, in unguarded looks and touches, and for now, it was enough. The rest would come. He knew it. "So leave it be. At least for tonight."
Sirius still held Remus' hand against his face, and Remus uncurled his fingers to stroke his cheek. Sirius closed his eyes and nuzzled into the touch like a stray dog grateful for a stranger's kindness. Remus' eyes burned, and he found himself wishing that the empty years had claimed all of his tears, as well. He swallowed hard, trying to get around the knot in his throat. Sirius opened his eyes. He'd always been able to sense when Remus was in pain, and that had not changed, no matter what else had.
Sirius watched him, grey eyes full of guilt. "I'm sorry."
"Hush." Remus caught a lock of Sirius' hair and smoothed it through his fingers. "Let's go to bed. I'm cold."
Sirius nodded. He freed himself, then kissed Remus' fingers again before letting them go. They both stood, and Sirius waited for Remus to come around the table and join him. Remus did not expect Sirius to take his hand; they'd both agreed that discretion was absolutely necessary for the present. So when Sirius caught him and drew him into an embrace, when he pressed a fierce, desperate kiss against Remus' mouth, Remus was too surprised for a second or two to respond.
When Remus didn't answer his kiss, Sirius let him go. He ran his hand through his hair again, raking it back from his face. "Sorry, I know I shouldn't have. It's just that--"
Remus stopped him with a kiss as hard and needy as the one Sirius had given him. And then without warning, they were kissing hungrily, pawing at each other in a frenzy, on fire with the need that betrayal, separation, and grief had not quenched. Sirius pushed him, and he took a step backwards, and then another, until the table cut against the back of his thighs. Gasping, Remus pulled away just enough to be able to speak, though it was difficult with Sirius' hands on him like that.
"Sirius, wait. We've got to go upstairs. Molly…the children--"
Sirius took a deep, shuddering breath. He nodded. "Yes. Yes, of course."
Sirius stepped back, and Remus straightened, a little ashamed of how close he'd been to giving in and letting Sirius have him right here on the table. Again.
"You go on. I'll just put these cups away for Molly, and then I'll be there." He smiled and smoothed down Sirius' shirt for him. "It wouldn't do for us to go up together."
Sirius smiled, too, a little of the haunted look leaving his eyes. "I'll be waiting."
"I know that, too."
Sirius left the kitchen, and as Remus washed their cups and put them in the cupboard, he listened for that step he'd know anywhere. There it was, quick and light in the hallway, then bounding up the stairs. It was a habit he'd had for a long time, listening like that, only now when he heard Sirius' footsteps, he didn't question his sanity.
He deliberately puttered around the kitchen for a minute or two, straightening and scourgifying. Years ago, he'd done this in their flat, keeping Sirius waiting until he bellowed for Remus to get into bed now. He expected none of that of that presently, no impatience or laughter as they teased each other, but that was all right. Sirius was waiting for him, and nothing else really mattered.
The kitchen was tidy enough to pass Molly's muster, so Remus snuffed out the lights with a flick of his wand and started for the stairs himself. He'd reached the first landing when the door of Sirius' room, one more floor above him, creaked open, and a rough whisper grated in the silence.
"What the devil are you doing down there?"
Remus looked up into the darkness, but he couldn't see Sirius' face. "Nothing. I'm coming."
"Not without me, you'd better not be."
Remus quickened his step. "Wouldn't dream of it."
"Should hope not. Now get up here before I get tired of waiting for you."
The door quietly clicked shut, and Remus raced up the last few steps, grinning foolishly and feeling as though he'd been given an unexpected but much-wanted gift. He reached the room at the top of the stairs and laid his hand on the doorknob. Even though his desire equaled Sirius', he paused, thinking. No matter what time and circumstance had taken from them, it had left them with this much, and Remus had to believe that it was enough to rebuild everything they'd once had. It would take time, perhaps, but they could do it. How could they not, when love and hope remained, beaten and scarred perhaps, but not broken?
"Remus!" From inside the room, Sirius' voice snapped with annoyance and eagerness.
"I'm here." He opened the door and went in.
Sirius sprawled naked on the bed, watching him with undisguised hunger. "About time."
Remus undressed, and when he approached the bed, Sirius grabbed his wrists and pulled him close. Laughing, Remus let himself be pulled down and folded into Sirius' arms.
"What are you grinning at?"
"Nothing." Remus tipped his head back, accepting the kisses Sirius rained on his throat. "I was just thinking."
Sirius moved his mouth lower, then lifted his head. "I'd rather you not think too much just now, if you don't mind."
"I was thinking that maybe we'll be all right after all."
"Oh." Sirius nipped at a sensitive bit of flesh, and Remus yipped in spite of himself. "In that case, think away."
And he did, until Sirius' body drove away any worry about what the future held for them, leaving only the night and pleasure and all the bright possibilities of tomorrow in its place.