Summary: There are some things that can't be fixed by magic, but sometimes they're the things worth fixing.
This is a remix of a drabble by copracat:
Some days he thought drinking the potion was punishment for being - the way he was. Bitterness twisted his mouth and his eyes squeezed shut. Groping for
the table, he put down the smoking mug and he didn't open his
eyes until the nausea faded.
"Vile concoction. I almost suspect Severus of making it more awful than it needs to be just to be spiteful."
"Suspect?" Sirius tugged his arm, pulling him down to the bed.
Remus smiled. "He wouldn't. It's exactly as bad as it is because - "
" - of magical resonance," Sirius finished. "Resonate with me." He laughed and kissed Remus hard.
Bridges (Too Many to Cross Remix)
“I’ve finished putting the wards on the cellar,” Remus said, as he walked into the large kitchen.
Sirius, whom Remus saw was doing complicated and vaguely dangerous looking things with a frying pan, did not turn to look at Remus, but still sounded amused, or perhaps exasperated, as he spoke.
“Remus, there is no more warded house in Britain – in the world, if my father had anything to do with it – do you really think it was necessary to start applying internal wards, too? Although,” he added, more reflectively, “the wine is good, I admit.”
“I don’t want to keep people out; I want to keep things in.” And when Sirius showed no signs of catching on, he added, “The full moon, idiot. I’d like to make sure I don’t come tearing through the house, devouring any random humans I should happen to come across.”
Actually, if he were honest, he would rather he weren’t changing here at all. The potion made things easier, and he would never deny the debt of gratitude, distasteful as it was, he owed to Severus Snape, but the pain was the same as it had always been, and he had no illusions that transforming here – where dark magic was as integral to the house as the bricks and stones which held it together; and where the scent of Sirius would reach him, regardless of how many floors he put between them – would be far from easy, potion or not.
Still though, Dumbledore had been as persuasive as ever, and Remus was not stupid enough to deny any of his arguments: of course he knew that the Death Eaters would be looking for patterns; that returning to his home, where the change would be easiest, would be just the sort of thing they were hoping for; and of course he knew that that could endangers everything, especially when he could be captured at his most weakened state. But as persuasive as Dumbledore had been, what had really kept him here was the knowledge that Sirius was confined here, against his every natural instinct, and at the behest of others. It hardly seemed right that he should create so many difficulties for one night in every twenty-eight, while Sirius remained trapped indefinitely.
If he had to stay though, he could take all the precautions available to him, and the cellar, with its thick walls and doors, and located as far away from the hospitable quarters as any room he could find, was perfect; and with the few extra wards Remus had added that morning, he knew he had nothing to fear – which, as usual, did not prevent him worrying.
“Yes,” Sirius’s voice cut into his thoughts, “I quite agree. The number of wizards suddenly growing two heads these days, is an alarming development.”
“And dear God, Sirius, should that be smoking like that?”
For Sirius had evidently turned away from his cooking to ask Remus something he wasn’t listening to, and in the meantime, the frying pan was giving off ominous signs, that Remus remembered only too well from the times when they’d shared the flat together.
Sirius didn’t even look, choosing instead to continue scrutinising Remus.
“So, finally paying attention to me? As I was saying: I thought the potion made you safe. Took the bite off you, if you know what I mean.”
Remus did, and smiled, because only Sirius had ever dared, or had been insensitive enough, to say that kind of thing to him.
His response though was quiet, and it was only by force of will that he kept his voice neutral. “Potions only work so far, don’t they? I’d rather not take chances.”
He didn’t say the “this time” aloud, and Sirius couldn’t have seen his face, as he had finally decided to redevote himself to the mess that would have been their breakfast, but something must have been there in his voice anyway, because Sirius simply shook his head.
“I thought we’d been through this? It wasn’t your fault – not all of it, anyway – and if I’d been more careful, or thought things out first, we wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place.”
“Anyway,” he said, turning back to Remus, before he could make the customary interruption, “The point is that the potion makes you safe, when you take it, and that the cellar isn’t needed. Stay in your room, and forget about it. Ward that, if you like, I suppose.”
His words sounded light and casual, and Remus knew that there was nothing, either in manner or tone, to suggest that there was anything wrong, but the feeling was still there that there was an urgency – was panic too strong? – in what Sirius was saying. He searched his eyes, but found nothing; and now it was his turn to shake his head.
“It’s a nice idea, Sirius, and nobody likes the idea of taking a full moon that easily better than me, but I won’t do it. Certainly not when the children are around. The risk simply isn’t worth it, and I know you know it.”
“Is that all?” Sirius sounded almost relieved, as though he had expected terrible news, and had been told only that it might rain later. “We’ll keep the kids out of the way. You’re on the floor above them anyway, and I’ll be there, if you want me to. Come on, Remus. It’ll be fine.”
“I’m happy to have you there, I really am, but it won’t change my mind. The cellar is the safest place I can think of, and it’s where I intend to be.”
He hadn’t wanted to show Sirius just what that sentence had meant to him, unwilling to show just how much he had hoped Sirius might be there this time, and after he might concede that his voice had been a little more dismissive than he’d intended, but right then, he had wanted only to appear as unaffected as possible. Still though, from the tone of Sirius’s voice, Remus knew that there would be hurt written across his face, if only he would turn to let Remus see it. Instead, he was matter-of-fact, and almost, but not quite, normal sounding.
“We used to cover the entire forbidden forest. You’ll forgive me for thinking that your room was in my power to control.”
Had Remus been braver, he thought that he might have reached out, squeezed that familiar shoulder, and explained his abruptness, but the part of him, that wanted to do that more than anything, was overborne by the parts of him that were afraid of beginning that contact, where none had been asked for, and by the part that was furious that the man who had been most destroyed by it, still seemed to have learned nothing from the stupidity and foolishness of their youth.
He withdrew the hand that had already begun to reach out, involuntarily it seemed, and shrugged helplessly, even though the gestures went unseen.
“You know that’s not what I mean, Padfoot. I simply don’t see the point in taking unnecessary risks. There’s enough danger around at the moment, without us helping to create it.”
“It’s fine, Remus,” Sirius said, taking the pan to the ancient sink that stood in the corner, and running it under water, rather than simply cleaning up with magic, as was his usual custom when things went wrong in the kitchen. “You don’t need to explain, and I’m not arguing. You’ve done this often enough by now to know what you’re doing, I imagine.”
“I think so, yes,” Remus replied tersely, and too late, realised that this was not how this conversation should be going. He should have been shouting, for all he was worth, that he simply could not face hurting Sirius again, and that there were certain lessons that he would not let him learn twice; should have been making him see that, if things went wrong, Remus would not – could not – remain in the Order, and that, if that happened, he would have to leave Grimauld place. He should have been making him see that leaving him was the last thing he wanted to do, maybe even above hurting the children or weakening the Order.
That he had done this was nobody’s fault but his own, and Remus desperately wanted only to be angry at himself, because he knew that his refusal to be honest was only another form of the running away he’d been practicing all his life, but despite his every effort, Remus could not extinguish the rising anger he felt towards Sirius, who had only a few moments ago shown that he still possessed the ability to read the real meaning of his words, if he wanted, and who was now choosing not to.
And because of that, and because Sirius’s refusal not to see what he still meant to Remus was the only thing capable of breaking all the control he possessed, and because, while his temper had never been anything like his friend’s, when he was nakedly afraid, anger and silence had always been his best weapons, Remus did not fight Sirius -- as he knew the strength of his love should have compelled him to -- but instead finished the discussion entirely by leaving the kitchen, barely noticing as he did so that his appetite had disappeared, and not through fear of Sirius’s cooking.
It seemed impossible, and yet all too likely, that they should have returned to this, so soon after re-uniting, but here they were, already incapable of finding the right words to say to one another. They weren’t fighting; the discussion of the transformation in the kitchen had been the first and last time it had been mentioned between them, and Remus was glad at least that the rows, that had marred almost every day of their final, nightmarish months together, before they were torn apart the first time, seemed to have been laid to rest, but If the rows were gone, Remus knew that the real problem had not, because no matter how loudly they had screamed, or how many wounds they had delivered with their words, they had never come close to saying the things that might have saved them, and the same silences still filled the spaces between them now.
There were moments when Remus was sure Sirius wanted to say something, when the look on his face told Remus that he was only seeking the resolve to do so, but the man who had will strong enough to survive twelve years of Dementors and prison, never seemed to be able to find enough to cross a void that should have been so easy; and Remus did not know what to say, without making a confession he had already decided it was not yet time to make.
He had intended to mention it again before the transformation, still with the hope that Sirius would be there with him, but each day came and went, and still a way of doing so eluded him, until there was only one day’s wolf’s bane potion left, and he woke in the morning with the faint thrumming in his body that he knew better than any other feeling he had ever had; and because there was no time left to him, he might have found away of opening the subject, but whether intentionally or not, Sirius seemed to have more work than ever before to do, and Remus found himself at the receiving end of a constant shower of attention from the Weasley children and Hermione, who had taken it as their personal duty to keep him company, and distract him from any thoughts of the night to come. Remus had no doubt that it was Hermione’s doing, and couldn’t find it in his heart to tell them that he simply wanted to be alone, so that by the time the tension in his body had grown almost to an ache, and the light had begun to fade to the colour that he considered beautiful on every other evening, he had not been with Sirius alone for any length of time, and he had resigned himself to descending the cellar stairs alone.
As he began his monthly rituals, all designed to minimise the damage he could so easily cause, he did not allow himself to know that he felt more than usually bitter. He did not allow himself to remember the upstairs room he could have been in, if he’d agreed with Sirius, as he sealed the heavy door; he would not remember that there could have been someone else to take care of the details, and let him simply rest, as he surrounded his clothes with magical protections, so that they could still be worn in the morning, and not require that he spend money he didn’t have on new ones; and he did not consider that someone else could have cared for him in the morning, as he enacted the spell – learned through many sleepless nights in 1981, by pouring over old books, in failing candles – that allowed him to have his wand enter it’s own set of protections, to be released only as the sunset, so that Remus could perform enough magic to get himself out and upstairs, without help.
And it was only when he heard the click of wards being lowered, and saw Sirius pushing open the door, that he allowed himself to admit how much he wanted him to be there.
From his position, crouched on the floor, he looked up into Sirius’s thin face, and still saw that there was uncertainty – maybe even fear – there.
“You can come in.”
And when Sirius still did not move: “I really don’t bite now, you know. Or at least, not much”
That brought a smile, and finally, Sirius closed the door, and made his way down the dark stairs.
“I would have been here sooner,” he explained, as he approached, “but Molly wanted to discuss the house-elf heads. For some reason, she thinks they’re distasteful. Aunt Esmerelda would be turning in her grave.”
“It’s fine. We still have a couple of minutes.” Remus replied, wondering if Sirius knew he was talking too fast, and that his constant pacing had only ever made Remus nervous.
“I’m glad you’re here.”
He hadn’t really meant to say it, but he didn’t regret it, and Sirius finally stopped pacing.
“I said I would be.”
“I know, but you know, the other day I thought…”
But what he had thought he didn’t finish, because somewhere above them the sky had changed, and down here in the cellar, Remus began to.
There had only ever been one drawback to the potion, and typically it was also the thing for which Remus loved it most, because it made his mind more his during his transformations than he ever thought it could be; but before the change was complete and right up until the moment when it was, he had his mind too, and did not lose it to the wolf, who had never minded the pain as Remus did, because it was his, and it meant freedom. It had been years since Remus had anything to focus on but the pain, but now there was Sirius before him, looking worried and afraid; and now there was Padfoot, holding and licking where no human could have done safely.
The pain did not lessen – no human presence could ever have made the tearing of muscles, or the lengthening of bones lessen -- but the human part of what was writhing on the floor found it easier to bare; and though the time for it to be over was no shorter than usual, to Remus, it seemed that it was, and sooner than expected, he found himself, on four legs that shook only a little, looking with a wolf’s eyes at Padfoot.
The wolf’s immediate instinct was simply to rush to Padfoot, to greet him with joyous barks, and recreate what had always been there’s, but his next was to draw back, and whine in consternation, because the other scent in the room was not one of joy, but fear.
Padfoot had not moved, and had shown no signs of backing away from the larger animal, and besides, the wolf was not stupid, and knew that the fear was not of him. The wolf knew too how it felt to be trapped, and knew, when he looked at the dog before him, that if he had an image when he was in his cage, it would look very similar to what he now saw.
He could not understand why this should be so, knowing only that for years he had been alone, when before there had always been at least this other one of his pack, but he knew how to comfort, and that the desire he had once had to run and kill had somehow gone, so that it seemed perfectly right that he should now be the one to soothe, and lick, and say with whimpers and yips all the things that Remus, had he been wholly there, might not have been able.
Until eventually the dog was calm, and they slept, curled together, the wolf protectively covering his pack mate, while the moon blazed on in the sky.
When the night finally gave way to the day, Remus endured the pain once more, before allowing himself to be cared for by Sirius, who it seemed had not forgotten how, despite his lack of practice; and Remus was more grateful than he would ever be able to express, because he knew the effort it had cost Sirius to be there. What the wolf had not been able to understand, Remus did only too well, and he now wondered at his own stupidity at not seeing it before.
Yet back in Remus’s room, after the healing spells had been administered, and a cup of tea brought, it was Sirius, standing nervously at the foot of the bed, who was first to speak.
“The wand, that was a timed spell you had on it, wasn’t it? Because you thought you’d be on your own now?”
And without waiting for an answer: “I’m sorry, Remus. I was a complete bastard for what I did yesterday. I wanted to come earlier – kept telling myself I had to go now, but I just…”
He broke off and looked away, examining intently a patch of grass outside the window.
“Sirius, I know, and I’m sorry. I should have thought – Merlin, I almost told you I’d created a… a prison, and I still didn’t see why you were being difficult.”
“Should have said something. I just didn’t want not to be able to help you. There isn’t much else I can do for you – not with the potion and everything else you have – and I didn’t want to say I couldn’t do this, too.”
Remus set his tea down, and with an effort swung his legs over the bed.
“What are you doing? You’ll fall over if you stand up.”
“Then I’ll get back up,” said Remus, hoping he would land as painlessly as possible, “because clearly you need some sense beaten into you, and there isn’t anyone to do it but me.”
“What are you talking about Remus. And lie back down, for the love of all that is good and decent!”
And by then, there was no need for Remus to try his luck on his feet, because Sirius had come to the head of the bed anyway, to push him back onto the pillows.
Remus took a deep breath, and steeled himself to say the things that he really need to.
“Do you know what having you there meant last night? It was better than any potion. You do more than Snape does, even if you hadn’t come, because you want to help me. I’m not a favour you do for Dumbledore, and I’m not a problem you solve because you think the world is a little safer if you do. You came there last night, and it must have been hell for you, but you did that for me.”
“I’d do more, if I could, Remus. I’d do anything I could.”
He was kneeling now, staring intently into Remus’s eyes, one hand lying mere centimetres from Remus’s face, as though he had reached out to touch it, and drawn back.
And this too was just one more bridge to cross, Remus thought, and they’d already crossed so many today, that it seemed foolish to stop now.
He reached up, as he should have done that day in the kitchen, and took Sirius’s hand, holding his breath until he felt the pressure returned.
“I love that you would do anything for me.
“I love you, Sirius.”
He thought after that that maybe he had never seen what real hope looked like, until now, looking at Sirius’s face.
“Do you mean that? Even after everything that’s happened?”
“I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t. Of course I mean it. I should have said it weeks ago, should have told you a year ago, but I didn’t know if you wanted that.”
It had been a long time since Sirius laughed so freely, but he did now, and through his mirth, Remus understood that his feelings were returned.
He understood it better though when Remus stood up, still smiling, and leaned down to kiss him.
It was unsure at first, as their first kiss had been too, but neither of them wanted for eagerness, and soon Remus was struggling to pull Sirius down on top of him, wanting only to touch him wherever he could; and Sirius was not making the struggle particularly difficult.
And this, thought Remus, was how it should always have been, because there was no other that fitted with him quite so well; no other whose hands could make him forget everything but what he was doing, and that he wanted only to keep doing it; and no other whom he had ever wanted quite so much.
Yet however much he wanted this, he was tired, and soon his gasps of pleasure turned into simply gasps for air, so that Sirius, laughing again, reluctantly slid off him.
“Get some sleep, Mr. Lupin. I think you could do with some.”
He stood up, stroking Remus’s hair back from his face as he did, and headed towards the door.
“You’ll be back later?”
Sirius’s return however, was not the triumphant reunion Remus had hoped for all day, because he brought with him the newest batch of the potion, as if Remus needed reminding that his whole life was nothing but a cycle, and a battle against himself.
He accepted the goblet uncomplainingly, and tried to swallow it down without tasting it – a feat he had never yet accomplished, and probably never would.
Some days he thought drinking the potion was punishment for being - the way he was. Bitterness twisted his mouth, and his eyes squeezed shut. Groping for the table, he put down the smoking mug, and he didn't open his eyes until the nausea faded.
When he did though, it was to find a pair of wonderful grey eyes watching him with evident concern, and Remus almost laughed, because if the potion were punishment, what reward made it possible to have Sirius standing here, looking at him like that.
As he turned his back on the potion, and walked towards where Sirius sat on the bed, he decided the punishment might not mean that much after all, so long as Sirius stayed this time.
"It’s a vile concoction. I almost suspect Severus of making it more awful than it needs to be just to be spiteful."
"Suspect?" Sirius tugged his arm, pulling him down to the bed.
Remus smiled. "He wouldn't. It's exactly as bad as it is because - "
" - of magical resonance," Sirius finished. "Resonate with me." He laughed and kissed Remus hard.
That was all the encouragement Remus would ever need; and it wasn’t long before his hands were gliding down Sirius’s body, removing clothes as he did so, and following the trail of exposed skin with his mouth.
Sirius writhed and moaned beneath him, to Remus’s delight, and he held him still, circling each nipple, and tracing patterns on his stomach with his tongue; hardening himself with every groan he elicited.
When he reached Sirius’s cock, he drew back, devouring every inch of him, not caring that he was thinner than he used to be, or that there were scars where before there were none, and reached out to touch the tip of his shaft, almost reverently.
There was nothing reverent though about the words that poured forth from Remus’s mouth, or the way Sirius thrust upwards into Remus’s hand; and as Remus lowered his head to take him in his mouth, he wondered how he had ever managed without this.
Soon after he had no time or need to wonder, because there was nothing but Sirius in his mouth, and under him, and his hands in his hair, and over his back. There was nothing but the feel of his balls, and the way he cried Remus’s name, and the way he tasted when he finally came, sudden and ferocious, as he always had.
He sagged down on to the bed gasping, and tugged Remus back up towards him. Remus came, and Sirius murmured endearments and promises about always being Remus’s in between greedy kisses.
When he pulled away, it was only to ask, with a look of unmistakeable hunger, what Remus would like.
Remus felt himself redden, but couldn’t help it.
“There isn’t actually any need. It’s already taken care of.”
And there was that laugh again, and Remus knew he’d never stop feeling that the world was a better place because of it.
And there was Sirius, suddenly noticing the sticky fluid covering Remus, and leaning down to kiss and lick it clean.
And there was Sirius, sliding slowly back up Remus’s body, to whisper that there would be other times, and other nights.