Title: The Night Is a Bridge Between Yesterday and Tomorrow
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters & Pairings: Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Lily Evans, James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, Severus Snape, Lucius Malfoy, Remus/Sirius, background James/Lily
Ratings & Warnings: PG-13, implied sex, swearing, drinking, smoking
Word Count: ~ 18,600 (this part ~ 8,900)
Summary: Our boys attend Four Parties and a Music Festival, in which we find romance, secrets, dodgy relatives and lots of music.
Prompt: "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles
Author's Notes: Written for Team Post-Hogwarts at the 2013 rs_games.
Thank you so much to the uncommonly wonderful gilpin25 and brighty18 for the beta, comments, britpicking and handholding ♥
Inspired by stereolightning, I've made a playlist with the music mentioned in the story, which can be found here .
The music festival:
Just for you, here’s a love song. August 1980
The catchy chord progression of “Kashmir” flows into the air.
James’ ghetto blaster is capable of producing a surprisingly loud volume, and James is more than willing to demonstrate.
“Listen to this!” he yells happily while bouncing around, clapping Sirius on the back, impressively energetic despite the lack of sleep. “This is going to be epic! The most epic concert ever!”
Remus shakes his head, laughing. “You act as if Led Zeppelin will be here.”
“Almost as good as!”
He keeps whirling, dragging Sirius with him. “Monsteeers of Rooock! How can this be anything but brilliant!”
James has talked about little else except the Monsters of Rock festival since they decided to go. As well as his newborn son back home, that is. This morning is no exception.
Sirius isn’t one to silently watch James jumping around, so he cheerily joins in.
A few meters away, Peter raises his head for a second from where he’s been lying on a wooden bench. “How can you even...” he begins, before his tired-looking blond head falls down on the bench again a little harder than anticipated. “Oomph!” he says, turning to his side in search of a more comfortable position. He seems to be making plans for a nap.
Remus can’t blame him after last night. They all spent it wide awake on a chartered coach to Castle Donington. The only hitch is that they arrived in the early morning, long before the gates open, with their way too small sandwich boxes long since empty.
But who cares.
It’s a bright summer’s day, still damp after the rain. A mild wind makes the meadow dance, every blade of grass gleams in the reluctant sunshine.
Remus picks up his hooded jacket, places it carefully on a huge rock close to where Peter’s snoring lightly, and sits down. The air is full of summer and anticipation. Two men are dancing. One of them represents mischief and energy and friendship. Remus never thought he’d find a friend that would mean almost as much to him as Lily. But along came James.
And then there’s Sirius. The fiery man who’s captured Remus, crawling into parts of him Remus never knew existed.
Sirius is dressed in his usual tight jeans and a blue t-shirt covered by a white shaded pattern. He’s let his hair grow, he looks like a black-haired Jim Morrison. Remus isn’t complaining.
“Oh let the sun beat down upon my face,
stars to fill my dream.”
“I named you Sunshine Boy when I saw you the first time,“ Remus had said once, hands linked and hearts floating from the thrill of getting to know each other. “Your name couldn’t fit you better. You capture the day’s light and the night’s darkness. It’s all in you. Like magic.”
Sirius had laughed, looking touched. “I guess that leaves the moon to you,” he’d said, leaning in closer.
Growing up, Remus never dreamed of having all these vivid colours in his life. Grey is after all a perfectly nice colour, safe and unassuming. The colours still scare him just a little. Sirius is so full of love and laughter, sometimes of thoughtlessness or a burning temper, but always, always a roaring Yes to life. So Remus takes the plunge, jumps off the safe bridge, and most of the time he’s able to trust that they’ll catch each other.
“Where is he?” Peter stops kicking his trainer-clad foot in the gravel, instead walking aimlessly around, growing steadily impatient. He isn’t the only one.
“Relax, he’ll be here.” James tries to cover his nervousness, almost succeeding.
“I hope so,” Peter mumbles, lighting a cigarette and continuing to pace back and forth. “Where did you meet this guy anyway?”
James shrugs. “I haven’t actually met him. As such.”
Three pairs of disbelieving eyes seek out James’, conveying various levels of are-you-kidding-me?
“It’ll be fine!” James assures, lifting his hands defensively. “The Prewett brothers have dealt with him a number of times, they say it always works out. They put me in touch with him. We’ll get the tickets!”
Remus can feel the outline of a neat little speech starting to form in his head, one about how relying on a stranger to fix them up for cheap tickets, may not be the smartest idea James has ever come up with.
They’re standing close to the entrance gate to Donington Park. The only thing between them and a music experience unlike anything Remus has ever had, is the Ticket Bloke.
James has been the most eager to come, he’s organized all the practicalities, promising Lily to make it up to her. He’s lucky to have a wife who understands that some passions remain even when you’ve become a parent. “Plenty of opportunity to make it up to me when I go on girls’ nights out with Marlene,” she’d laughed.
Ticket Bloke should have been here half an hour ago, equipped with cheap tickets he’d got via acquaintances, according to James. Dodgy acquaintances, Remus silently adds.
Just when he’s about to give his friends an excerpt of that speech, a small man with bloodshot eyes approaches them, slightly short of breath. His chequered sweater clashes horribly with his stripy trousers.
“Potter?” he says. “James Potter?”
James nods, making the newcomer smile.
“Ever so sorry I’m late! A friend o’ mine popped over with a little business opportunity as I was on me way out. He’d only gone and got some t-shirts and caps and banners of the bands ‘ere today! Gawd, me eyes nearly fell out me ‘ead at the quality of the merchandise. Unbelievable they are!”
He bends down to open a huge, brown leather bag he’s been carrying, rummaging around, mumbling to himself. There’s no missing his body odour.
Arched eyebrows and questioning looks are heading for James, who coughs lightly. “That“ – he pauses for dramatic effect – “ is Dung. I suppose.”
The man – Dung – is upright again, walking towards them with his hands full of t-shirts. They all have faded colours and gaudy pictures of Rainbow.
“Mundungus Fletcher’s the name, at your service gentlemen. Anything extra you’d like, just give me the nod. See these smashin’ t-shirts ‘ere? Opportunity of the century they are, in fantastic condition and only slightly used before. As good as new, I can see you thinkin’, because you’re a shrewd lot, and you wouldn’t be far wrong!”
Remus’ eyes meet Sirius’, smothering a grin. “Why would anyone...” Sirius starts, shaking his head. “If I wanted a new t-shirt, I’d buy, you know, a new one.”
Dung straightens up in all his not particularly intimidating glory. “’Ang on a sec, mate! You lot contacted me at the last minute, you know, and you can’t expect top shelf goods with that sort o’ notice. If you’re at the pub at three in the mornin’ and you want a bit of company for the night, you wouldn’t go expecting no lookers at that time. The best ones would be well gone by then and you ‘ave to make do. Blimey, I certainly don’t let meself whine when in that situation. Law of averages it is, as you young gents should know by now.”
He sniffs loudly.
“Right.” James clears his throat. “I’m afraid we only want the tickets. You do have them?”
“Course I do. That’s insulting, I’ll have you know. Mundungus Fletcher is a man of his word.”
His eyes slide into the corners of his grey face, narrowly glancing at Peter. “What about you then? Fancy a t-shirt yourself, or have you got a little lady tucked away who’d like some token of appreciation? Maybe encourage her to show hers in return? A red one would be nice, the ladies love red.” He digs into his bag, coming up with a t-shirt that looks distinctly brown. “Got to give the ladies a touch o’ class. They always like that, and I don’t like boastin’ or nothin’ but I’ve had my share of warm appreciation over the years if you know what I mean.”
“Thank you, Mr. Fletcher.” Peter’s voice is impressively polite. “The tickets will be fine, please.”
Dung’s eager grin fades slowly as he shoves the shirts back into his bag. “If that’s what the gentlemen want, that’s what the gentlemen get. I’m not one to nag or try and push people into buying something they don’t want. Even if they can’t spot an opportunity right under their nose.”
He starts digging into the pockets of the bag, carelessly discarding various items onto the grass as he keeps searching for the tickets. “But I’ll tell you this much, life’s too short to pass chances up.”
James clears his throat again. “Yes,” he says, cutting through Dung’s amazement at how time flies by prompting: “Tickets?”
“All right, all right. ‘Ere they are, four of‘em. You got the cash? I don’t do cheques after a couple of nasty misunderstandings with the banks. Not that I’m one to whine you understand, but they can be right plonkers and not recognize a man just trying to make an ‘onest livin’ when they see one.”
Yet another sniff follows. Remus really wants to give him a handkerchief.
The mood lightens considerably at the sight of the tickets. Before long they’ve said no thanks to Dung’s suggestion of a few banners to flash in the audience and are walking towards the entrance of the park.
Sirius was never too eager to come here. It’s not really his kind of music, and standing for hours in the middle of an enormous crowd made up by muddy rockers, isn’t his favourite scenario. But of course he’d joined them. He’s seen James far less than he’d liked lately, and as for Remus...
They may have something wonderful going. Remus is wonderful.
But Remus is holding back. Or so Sirius suspects. Whether it’s because Remus has a hard time letting go of the control he seems to crave or if he believes that his partner is keeping something from him, Sirius can’t tell. In a way Sirius is keeping something to himself. He’s not quite certain what Remus would think if he knew all about the Black family and the way Sirius desperately needed information from Mr. Lupin. But Reg is safe now, it all worked out. New adventures await, no point in brooding about painful memories. And it’s got nothing – nothing – to do with what the two of them are building together.
Remus is his fixed point in life, his anchor, his centre of the storm, the circle of calm in the middle of all the chaos he’s been living with. Sirius wants this to work, he wants it badly. He’ll have to show Remus that it is in letting go that he can find solid ground.
And now they’re here. It’s crowded, it’s sweaty, it’s muddy, it’s deafeningly loud. And it’s great.
Peter’s brought booze, the sun is shining, and it’s so crowded that no one seems to notice two men holding hands.
It’s sort of funny when the lead singer of Touch swallows a bee. Peter wonders loudly if it can be dangerous. Remus replies he doesn’t think he will pull through. The bee, that is.
The Scorpions isn’t too bad. Rainbow’s gig is fantastic. And when Rob Halford of Judas Priest arrives on stage riding a Harley Davidson, Sirius willingly admits that going to this festival was a wonderful idea.
“Are you hungry?”
Remus yells into his ear, Sirius grabs his hand and leads them to the outskirts of the crowd, where they’re able to hear at least most of what they’re saying.
Sirius is. Hungry, that is. The festival is drawing to its end, and something besides the beer would be nice.
“Here.” Remus pulls a big red apple from his pocket, it shines like a red moon. He digs his teeth into it, the sweet smell flows into the air. And then Sirius takes a bite, they eat the entire apple this way. They laugh, small drops of juicy apple drip down their chins, until there’s nothing left. The apple core falls to the ground, and they meet in a slow, soft kiss. Apple kiss.
Before long, Remus breaks the kiss, glancing around. Sirius catches his eyes, leaning in, trying to put a seductive purr in his voice, which isn’t easy since he still has to yell. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard enough. Come with me?”
Remus smiles. Nods.
They make their way to the entrance, silently walking out of the area, drums and bass still pounding in their ears. Shoulder by shoulder they’re heading for the meadow where they spent the morning. Sirius noticed a spot with enough trees to offer a shield against intruding eyes. Neither of them says anything as they walk at a leisurely pace. They both know what’s going to happen, no point in talking about it.
The moment they reach the shadow of the trees, Sirius turns to look at Remus. He cups his hands around the face of the man he’s come to adore – touching, exploring, interpreting every flash of emotion running over it. He closes his eyes without really knowing why.
Remus leans in, starting to place small kisses on Sirius’ face everywhere that he can reach.
Forehead. Cheek. Earlobe. Chin. Mouth.
Each kiss is more insistent than the last. Sirius can feel his own hunger grow, and as Remus’ hands find their way under his t-shirt, he realises why he’s closed his eyes. It’s almost too much to take in. He can vividly picture Remus’ expression. Instead of looking, though, Sirius lets his other senses fill him.
Hearing. Remus breaths heavily, letting out a soft moan as Sirius kisses him fiercely. His own pulse pounds in his ears. Increasingly impatient pleadings of “Yes” and “Come here” and “Oh” as they start undressing each other.
Smell. The distinctive musky smell of Remus that Sirius would recognize anywhere, mixes with the smell of grass and hot summer.
Taste. Remus’ tongue is still covered by apple taste. His skin is warmed by the sun, the hollow of his neck tastes slightly salty.
Touch. Sirius opens his lover’s jeans, he helps to pull off his own. As they lie down on the ground, their hands are free to wander over each other’s bodies, trace every line, feel every angle.
Remus is naked, and very palpably so. Sirius slips out of the last of his remaining clothes and pulls Remus even closer to him. Closer, always closer.
Come lay on top of me, cover me, fill me completely, body and soul.
Remus acts as if he can hear the silent pleadings as he pulls Sirius underneath him, claiming Sirius as his, making every thought of where they are or even who they are disappear.
Yes. Yes. Yes. You’re mine. I’m yours, always yours.
“Come on.” Sirius stretches, reluctantly hauling himself up, reaching for his jeans. “We’d better get back. The others will wonder where we are.”
A non-committal sound escapes Remus’ lips before he opens his heavy lids. “Can’t,” he says lazily. “You’ve turned me into a jellyfish. Completely unable to move on my own accord.”
Sirius suppresses a sudden urge to giggle in his happiness. “You’re so daft.”
“You’re even dafter for loving me, then.”
Remus sits up with an abrupt movement, realising what he just said. He fumbles to get his clothes, clearing his throat. “I didn’t mean...”
“I do. I may be daft, but not because I’m falling in love with you. That only makes me a better person. You make me want to be a better person.”
Sirius swallows, sending a hesitant smile Remus’ way, unsure of how his words will be received. Remus, now mostly dressed, slowly gets to his feet in a long, smooth movement. He closes the gap between them, looks into Sirius’ eyes for a long time before pulling the slightly taller, black-haired man close. Sirius leans into the embrace, laughing breathlessly when Remus tickles him behind his ear.
“I... – ” Remus whispers.
“I know. Me too.”
Party number three:
Anarchy in the UK. October 1981
It starts like a perfectly ordinary day. At least as ordinary as any day in the company of Sirius Black can be. Some might say that eating only half of their breakfast before an offhand, lewd comment by Sirius leads to the two of them giggling furiously, making quick, breathless, laughing love on the kitchen floor, and peeling a squashed piece of toast from Sirius’ back before continuing their breakfast, is not quite an ordinary morning. To Remus, however, politely offering more tea, this is his new normal. And he loves it.
It’s been raining for days, making the pavements black and shiny, filling the air with an illusion of freshness in the middle of the city. Sirius has been complaining about it. “No way can I take the bike out for a ride in this weather,” he’ll say grumpily, eyeing his newly acquired motorcycle longingly. “I want the sun back!” Remus will laugh, put an arm around Sirius’ shoulder and say something like, “Instead of just looking gorgeous, now we have more time for indoors activities and actually doing something about all that sexiness”, and Sirius will be all happy and cuddly again.
Today, though, it’s chilly and clear. The air is crisp and golden, making the leaves glow. Even now in the early evening, the sky looks warm and high, with a welcoming rather than ominous darkness around the edges. At least that’s how Remus feels as they walk side by side, glove-covered hands and soft scarves hanging loosely.
Sirius glances up. “The sky is hardening, getting ready for frost.”
“Maybe. I love autumn. It’s not as restless as spring and summer, it’s peaceful. It’s a time for tea and fireplaces and golden shimmer. And the sun can be found many in places, not just the obvious ones.”
Sirius laughs. “The way I see it, autumn is a grumpy, sallow little man who picks the leaves off the trees and paints the sky dark. He makes sad, lonely ponds all over the place. Never ending summer would be my kind of season.”
“The seasons are good friends who clean up after each other, who take some things down and hang other things up. They make it beautiful, all in their own way.”
Remus can hear a quiet snort from the man next to him, the warmth of a hand caressing Remus’ takes every edge off it.
“You would say that, wouldn’t you. You always say the lamest, most wonderful things.”
They turn around the corner and find the right door bell, pressing it swiftly. Two minutes later they find themselves in Lily’s warm embrace. James gives them a quick hug, followed by a hearty “Come on in, I haven’t seen you in ages!”
“That’s fatherhood for you, Jamie. Still looking as devilishly handsome as ever. How’s my godson doing?”
Before Sirius can take off his denim jacket, his knees are surrounded by surprisingly strong little arms. There seems to be a nose wiping itself into his jeans, and an excited voice squeals up to him – “Si-us!” Sirius lets himself be dragged into the messy living room, full of baby toys, soft cushions, electronic gadgets and a loving atmosphere.
Life is good.
It isn’t until Lily asks if they’ve talked to Peter lately that the first tremor creeps through Sirius’ veins. He hasn’t talked to Peter for quite some time, none of them has, and in the back of his head there’s a voice trying to make itself heard. “Something is wrong, you know there is, you’ve noticed in your family.”
But it’s a fantastic day, his lap is occupied by a happy boy, his heart is full of love, and he’s with his friends. Tonight they’re going out, drinking beers and talking rubbish. Anything else can surely wait. At least one night.
Remus is catching up with Lily, trying to ease her worries over going out, leaving Harry with a baby sitter, even if it’s their neighbour who knows Harry well. “Harry loves Mrs Figg, so you’ve said. He’ll probably be disappointed tomorrow when it’s just boring old Mum and Dad again.”
“I suppose. Don’t know if that’s comforting or worrying.”
“I’m glad you’re coming tonight, Lily. I’ve missed you.”
“Me too. You seem happy, though. I take it things are going well?”
“They are. Yeah. I’m glad I pulled myself out of my little cave and took the leap.”
“It doesn’t scare you anymore?”
“Sure it does. Not so much. But it’s like I think it’s too good, sometimes.”
“Yeah, well, we’ve got the good guys, Remus. Neither of them seems to be hiding any dark secrets at the moment – look at them!”
Lily snickers fondly, pointing Remus’ attention at the two dark-haired friends walking over to the stereo, narrowly avoiding Harry on the floor.
“No, Sirius.” James sighs exasperatedly, putting on a Blondie record. “I know it’s Hallowe’en, but we’re not going to dress up as the Village People!”
Sirius pouts for exactly two seconds before his abundant source of energy finds another target. He starts to dance for Harry, making the little boy roar with laughter. Remus watches as Sirius begins his usual display of long limbs being carelessly thrown around to the rhythm.
Silly Sirius. Silly, annoying, wonderful Sirius.
He waves his arms around and starts singing in a ridiculous falsetto matching Debbie Harry.
“Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, anyway!
Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, any da – ay!”
Lily gets up, joining in. The song ends, Lily and Sirius laugh, staggering slightly and seeming quite dizzy. “I know just the song now,” Lily says as she hurries to the record player. A minute later Kate Bush sings “Babooshka”, and Lily follows in her best airy voice, not particularly bothered by the fact that she isn’t all that successful. James beams proudly. “That’s my Lily!” he says.
Remus is happy.
There’s nothing to suggest that tonight will change everything.
They enter the Railway Pub. Two couples, four friends, all of them enjoying the bonds between them, invisible and strong.
After having stood on the tube most of the way to West Hampstead, it feels good to sit down at one of the few vacant tables in the increasingly crowded pub. Remus takes the already lit cigarette from Sirius’ hand, letting his hand linger. Sirius smiles, they pass the cigarette back and forth, while Lily and James are getting them all something to drink.
“Weren’t you here just the other night, Remus?” Blue-grey smoke flows from Sirius’ mouth.
“It was the Moonlight Club downstairs, a band called U2 played. Come with me next time, will you? It wasn’t nearly as much fun with Marlene, nice as she is.”
“I should hope not.”
“She got all insulted when I grabbed her bum.”
“Really? I know you, Mr. Lupin, you so didn’t. Besides, I hardly think she would have been insulted. Maybe I’d better watch out, I know how easy it is to fall for you, and I don’t want to share, thank you very much.”
“Well, Mr. Black, I thought maybe it was time to find out for myself if straight sex really is as weird and unnatural as it seems. You know, the whole don’t-dismiss-it-until-you’ve-tried-it-t
“Is that so? Not without me, you won’t. And I’m not so sure I want to go down that road. Looks like you’re stuck with boring, old me.”
“Yeah. Too bad. Mind-blowingly great sex with a mind-blowingly beautiful man can get so tedious. But I guess I’ll live.”
Sirius sticks his tongue out at him. Then he laughs, wiggles his eyebrows and makes Remus look forward to coming home together later that night.
The music gets louder. Madness starts pounding through the air. “One Step Beyond.” Well, they’re going to Fabian’s afterwards, so a little Madness is okay for now.
The pub is packed, the air is full of smoke and elated people. Some are wearing colourful and inventive costumes.
It’s nice to sit here, chatting with James and Lily, saving Remus’ chair while he’s in the loo. Sirius can see his brown hair approaching. The rest of Remus follows, making his way through the crowd. Only Remus isn’t alone.
A woman is with him, tall and upright, with a river of black hair falling down her back. There’s a silvery mask covering her eyes. Still there’s no doubt in Sirius’ mind who this woman is. He’s seen her in a mask before.
Doesn’t the room turn colder?
Remus and the woman reach their table. The former sits down with a questioning look on his face, the latter places her beautifully manicured hands on her hips, slowly stroking her dark red velvet dress.
“Hello, Sirius,“ she says, voice like an icy needle. “Fancy meeting you here.”
Sirius feels like someone is holding his head in a steady grip, just above the water surface, threatening to push him under. He tries to control his breathing. No one has pushed him under just yet.
“Hello Bella,” he says, amazed by how calm he manages to sound. Only he can hear the blood pounding in his ears. One glance at Bellatrix tells him that she may not hear it, but she can certainly sense it.
“I was just informing your boyfriend here of some crucial details you’ve apparently forgotten to share with him, Sirius. Like why you bothered to get to know him in the first place. I guess he must be a great fuck as well since you’re still holding on to him.”
Maybe this staying-calm-thing isn’t going to be as easy as he’d hoped.
Sirius had no idea anyone in his family even knew he was seeing someone, let alone who it is. Now he realises he’s been foolish to think they haven’t been watching him. Especially after helping Reg.
Bellatrix removes her mask, revealing eyes remarkably similar to Sirius’. He hopes the glimmers of evil madness aren’t in his. Maybe he imagines seeing it, because he knows who she is. What she can do.
Lily and James stare at them in silence. Just as James looks like he’s going to say something, intervene on behalf of his friend, Bellatrix starts laughing.
“Oh, Sirius darling,” she purrs, swaying her hips slightly. “My sweet little cousin. Do you still think you can mess with the Black family and with the Order and get away with it? Aww, that’s so cute.”
James lays his hand firmly on top of Sirius’.
That woman. That mean, calculating, horrible woman. Sirius is so angry, he desperately wants to make any trace of that evil smirk disappear, he wants to –
“Sirius, may I please be informed as to what is going on?” The voice of the man he loves sounds small, yet insistent.
This is it. It’ll all have to come out now, and he silently curses his own thoughtlessness, that he hasn’t told Remus the whole truth. If he loses Remus over this...
Before Sirius can say anything, Bellatrix walks over to Remus, placing an arm lazily over his shoulder, leaning down to whisper in his ear.
“Sirius really hasn’t told you? Why doesn’t that surprise me, oh yes, he’s a Black, that’s why. As much as he likes to pretend he’s different from the rest of us, he’s still a Black through and through.”
She straightens up, sending Sirius a glorious smile before continuing. “We Blacks, you see, are only loyal to ourselves. It’s who we are, can’t be helped.” Shrugging, she lowers her eyes to the floor as if to think.
“Except...” she says, eyeing Sirius again, “when someone forgets that being loyal to ourselves and being loyal to the Blacks is one and the same thing. That just won’t do. You’ll find out soon enough. Oh dear, very soon, when I think about it.”
She turns abruptly, tosses her long hair back over her shoulder and laughing. Very sweetly, very nauseating.
“See you – “ she starts walking away, carelessly throwing her words back at them – “or not.”
Soon the crowd has swallowed her. The four of them sit there, look at each other with various degrees of visible terror, neither of them quite sure what to say. Sirius says nothing, does nothing. He’s always the one to leap up and take action. Now it’s as if panic has him frozen.
Remus is the first to break the silence.
“I’d really appreciate it if my boyfriend explains to me why a total stranger walks up and tells me you hooked up with me only because you were spying on my father.” His voice is steady as always, but the suppressed emotions don’t go unnoticed by Sirius. “Because you needed information about his work. Is this true?”
“No, yes, well no! Not the way you think.”
“You didn’t know about my father?”
“Yes, I knew, but...”
“Did you want something from him?”
“No, yes, he had a name I needed, and I didn’t know how much you knew and... It’s not why I wanted to be with you, why I want to be with you! Listen to me!”
This isn’t at all going the way he wants it to. He can hear the desperation in his own voice. This is exactly what he’s been afraid of. He starts fiddling with an unlit cigarette.
“Why haven’t you told me?” Remus speaks as if it’s nothing, as if they’re talking about what they’re having for dinner. Sirius knows him too well to be fooled.
“There was nothing to tell! I found the name I needed in your father’s office, and it was extremely useful, you have no idea how much. Or you know some of it. But I wanted to be with you because of you. Because of the wonderful person you are. I still do.” He breathes shakily, tries to blink away the wetness in his eyes. “Don’t you?”
Remus says nothing.
“Remus...” It’s James now. “Sirius is telling the truth. He did –“
“Don’t.” Remus finally turns, meeting Sirius’ gaze with his own shut-down look. “You know how difficult it was for me to let you in, to let myself believe in this. In us. That you wanted me for me. Now it’s like... Nothing. I feel nothing.”
Finally Sirius reacts, finally he shakes himself out of the trance he’s been in ever since Bellatrix opened her mouth. He gets up from his chair, puts his hands on each side of Remus’ face, making him look up.
“I love you, you idiot! Everything else, like your dad and my stupid, crazy family, they aren’t a part of this.”
Sirius would have been willing to bet most of his not inconsiderable wealth that the low point of the evening was surely behind him. He would have lost.
The crowd around them has drawn back, they’re starting to attract attention. Bellatrix is there watching, of course she is. Her friends are laughing with her, and Sirius doesn’t know why he’s surprised to see that two of them are Snape and Malfoy.
Snape takes a step forward, obviously very happy to see Sirius in distress.
“There, there, Black. What would mummy dearest say if she heard you talking about your family like that? Better watch out. I daresay they can take away your privileges just as easily as they gave them to you. What’s the problem tonight – too much money and too little time? Or is it that your boyfriend has finally discovered the real Sirius Black? Can’t blame him for looking so peaky. The real Black isn’t a pretty sight.”
“You stay out this! You hear me? Just pull your oversized nose out of other people’s business.”
“That is so scary, Black. Maybe you’ll tell on me, oh no, then what will I do?”
“Nice comeback. Is that the best you can do? The well isn’t particularly deep, I see. I’m sure Lupin over there gets to benefit from that striking wit of yours. I can vividly imagine him waiting for the punch line. And here’s Potter too, what a nice evening this is turning out to be and... er, hello Lily.”
James swings his arm demonstratively around Lily, who looks up at Snape. “Hello Sev. So nice to see you having fun with your – friends.”
Snape hastily retreats, making Malfoy roll his eyes in the most dramatic manner, muttering something that sounds remarkably like “softie”.
“Lupin,” Malfoy drawls. “Remember this: Black would never have chosen you, not for real. A quick dip into the mud can be fun for everyone, but when you’re from an old, first rate family, someone like you doesn’t quite fit the bill, I’m afraid. You never had a chance. And the heir to the Black dynasty ending up with a man? What a joke. He never would have done it. It’s all been fake.”
He waves cheerily, dragging Snape with him into the crowd.
Sirius laughs, far too late and completely out place, like in a dream. Surely this has to be a dream.
“Remus... You can’t for a second believe there’s any truth in what they said?”
“It seems that truth and lies can come from the unlikeliest of sources.” Remus grips his glass with tight fingers.
It turns out this isn’t a dream after all, despite this evening having Nightmare written all over it in neon lights. Sirius can feel anger bubbling up again, fighting for space with disbelief and fear. His hands briefly drag through his hair before landing on Remus’ shoulders.
“It was for my brother! And if I may be so fucking impolite, I would have done it again! It’s got nothing to do with us, so would you stop being so bloody sarcastic?”
“Then stop asking stupid questions. You’re actually lucky if sarcasm is all I’m subjecting you to.”
“Gods, Remus. Stop this. Look at me, will you. I love you. You’re the smartest man I know, surely you can see that?”
Remus stands up so abruptly that his chair falls backwards, making Sirius’ grip on him disappear. His calm facade is gone.
“Let me tell you what I see, Sirius Black. I see a man who’s a magician, a wizard with words and with charm and with laughter. And the mind is a funny thing. It believes what the eyes see. The magician presents his truth, making his loyal audience accept it, no questions asked. But do you know how he does it? He uses a deflection. He flashes something nice and shiny at everyone watching him so that no one notices what’s going on. It’s really clever. I for one have always been fooled by magicians, I never suspect a thing before we all sit there and gasp in awe. Oh yes, terribly clever, and who better to pull it off than the sunshine and starlight personified? It certainly did work, I was completely blinded. Didn’t see the truth right in front of me. Well, my eyes are open now. I’ve got nothing more to say.”
This is where the silence begins. Sirius doesn’t know it yet, but the silence is going to continue growing, until it seems impossible to break through.
“Remus, that’s enough.” James is on his feet, ignoring the strange looks they’re starting to get from people around them. “I get why you’re angry, and Sirius can be a bit of a thoughtless prick sometimes, but he’d never do anything to intentionally hurt you.”
A second later Lily’s up too, heading for Remus, saying something Sirius can’t hear. His attention gets stuck on two police officers he first thought to have dressed up due to the Hallowe’en spirit. Now he sees they haven’t. They’re as genuine as they get, steely expression and all. Why are they talking to Bellatrix? Why is she pointing them in his direction?
There’s a terrible feeling of dread creeping in, heavy stones sinking low in his stomach.
The policemen make their way through the crowd, coming close. They fix their eyes on him, flash their badges. “Sirius Black?”
He nods automatically before they utter the words he’s never going to forget.
“Sirius Black, you are under arrest for the murder of Peter Pettigrew.”
It’s quiet. The chaos that erupted after the policemen made their announcement is long gone. Even Lily and James have gone home to Harry, full of frightened hugs and promises to talk tomorrow, to try and figure out what’s happening.
Remus is alone on the pavement outside the pub. He has no idea how to even begin making sense of tonight.
The word feels heavy and rotten. He fumbles for a cigarette, but his hands are shivering so badly he can’t get the lighter to work. It’s dark outside, even with the city lights. It’s even darker in his heart, it’s turned inside out like an old, well used umbrella.
He can’t believe this is actually happening. Surely he will soon wake up. But he doesn’t. He isn’t going to. This is it.
Party number 4:
Let’s dance (put on your red shoes and dance the blues). June 1983
There’s a tiny moment, a fraction of a second when he’s no longer asleep, but not quite woken up, where everything is peaceful. The world is a good place. He’s not been left alone. No one believes he’s done terrible things. There are no thoughts of his partner finding someone new, someone who isn’t a complete fuckup. He doesn’t feel the chill of fearing that his life’s happiest moments are behind him.
Then Sirius wakes up, and it all comes flooding back.
Remus has been wondering how long it would take before hearing his name doesn’t automatically make him flinch. Now he’s accepted that it’s not going to happen for some time. It’s one of those dull aches he’s learned to live with, simply because there are no alternatives.
His greatest source of comfort has been music. And friends. Lily and James and dark music. His love of Joy Division reaches new heights, and his love of the little Potter family does the same.
He’s begun working, at an architectural firm dealing with historic preservation. It keeps him going, but he finds it hard to gather much real enthusiasm for it.
Being with Lily is easy. She’s as good at pulling him out of silent brooding and navel-gazing as ever, making the days more tolerable and sometimes even joyful. Being with James is slightly harder. He’s always been Sirius’ friend more than his. James has never doubted Sirius’ innocence, not for one second. Remus wants to feel as certain, but he’s honestly been unsure of what to think.
One thing he’s been certain of is that distrust has driven a wedge between him and Sirius, one that is so insurmountable as to effectively end their relationship. It’s hard to think about the conversation, the lost look in Sirius’ eyes, when Remus went to see him shortly after that disastrous Hallowe’en. Sirius begged to be believed. Remus was too confused to comment much, focusing on the purpose of the visit. He still aches when the words play in his head.
“It’s over between us. It’s the only way.”
“Can’t you at least listen to me?”
“Nothing you can say will change my mind about this. What I thought was a relationship, never really was.”
He’s being cruel, he knows he is, he can see it in Sirius’ wide, terrified eyes. The feelings of distrust and betrayal are still too fresh and deep to care much.
Even Lily has a hard time making him come out of himself for some time after that.
Instead he crawls into the music, making himself comfortable inside it, letting the pounding rhythms mercifully cover him. Lonely guitar solos lift him up and the heavy bass slowly drowns him. It feels like he’s sleeping for months. He makes an effort to swim up again, up from the bottom to the surface and the light and the air and the sun. He can see the sunshine from underneath the water; it’s there, but somehow continues to evade his grasp.
Every now and then someone knocks on his door, making him feel like the house is shaking. So he waits until that someone gives up and decides to leave. Then he carefully walks over to the window, looks through the curtains to see if whoever it was will turn and try again. But by then it’s too late.
He knows this isn’t healthy, yet for a long time he is unable to change it.
It’s early morning. Bright sunbeams are already looking through the window, falling on the sleeping young man, making his brown hair shine. He looks peaceful, lying on his side, head resting on one arm. There’s no way of telling he’s been tossing and turning in his bed most of the night, dreading what’s going to happen this summer’s day.
Sunshine tickles his eyes. Despite the lack of sleep, Remus wills them open and stumbles to the high windows. The catches are hard to get up, but they finally yield, letting in waves of fresh air. It’s still a little chilly. He leans on his elbows on the windowsill, looking outside, watching the early June morning slowly erase the shadows of the night.
After a while his skin gets goose bumps. The well worn t-shirt and pyjama trousers aren’t enough to keep him warm. Still, it feels good to stand there. At least as good as anything can today.
It’s been a few days since the phone call from Lily.
Her voice had been solemn and serene from the moment she said hello, asking him to come over. Yes, he would come, but would she please – please – tell him what was up. His uncharacteristic insistence (mild, yet firm, at least that was his intention) made her say it.
“He won his appeal. He’s a free man. It was pretty hard for the prosecution to maintain his guilt when the defence found Peter, very much alive. It was all a set-up, all revenge.
...Remus? Are you there?”
He’s taking a moment to revel in the fact that he is able not to lose the phone handle, fascinated by the way the cord is curling.
“Where’s he now?”
“He’s bunking here at the moment. We’re having a small diner party on Friday to celebrate his release. Please come.”
“How is he? Has he – has he asked about me?”
“He’s as good as can be expected, I guess. Happy that he’s free, angry that he ended up there in the first place, confused... No. No, he hasn’t asked about you. At least not to me.”
Remus decides it is quite understandable to indulge in some nervousness before going to the Potters’ tonight. Nervousness, panic, self-loathing. They’re all there. Then there’s the question of what to wear. He agonizes – quite literally agonizes – over what to pick, wondering if the bright t-shirt he’s holding screams let’s-be-cheery-now-that-I-know-you’re-i
He honestly doesn’t know what to expect of tonight, he doesn’t know what he wants to happen. All he knows is that he’ll soon find out.
“Where is he?”
James waves Remus in, giving him the usual quick hug and a pat on the back. The massive dinner table is nicely set for four. The old gang.
“Gone for a walk, to properly soak himself into June, he said. He does that a lot. Going for walks, that is. Lily’s over at Arabella’s with Harry. You want something to drink?”
Remus shakes his head, he wants his mind to remain completely clear. Some music would be fine though. More than fine, it’ll have to serve as a soother of the mind in the absent of alcohol. Purposefully he walks over to the record player, finding a record he gave Lily and James for Christmas. Joy Division, and he knows just the song.
To the centre of the city where all roads meet, waiting for you
To the depths of the ocean where all hopes sank, searching for you
I was moving through the silence without motion, waiting for you
“I should have known you would pick “Shadowplay” tonight,” James says, coming into the dining room clutching a drink in his hand.
Remus looks up and starts pacing between the record player and the dining table. He’s half-heartedly searching for a smile to put on his face before giving up, glancing at his friend.
“Shadowplay is a good description of these endless months. Years. For more people than just me. Gods, James, how could they do this to him? His own family?”
James sits down at the tip of the chair, gulping his drink in one swift movement.
“Turns out his family is only partly to blame. The real devil is the leader of that sick Order of theirs. Cult, more like. Sirius has been a thorn in their side for ages, and from what I gather, Peter’s been meddling with them too, apparently not all that successfully. I think he wanted to impress and ended up making a mess of things. The leader, Riddle something, decided to use them both as an example. He got rid of two troublemakers, and he scared the pants off his followers, all in one operation. Sirius has always said that ruling by fear is the mantra of the inner circle around Riddle.”
It’s hard to find an appropriate reply faced with all this madness. Staring wide-eyed into thin air seems to be as good a response as any.
“How did they find out?”
James laughs, a short, humourless laugh.
“You’ll never guess. I’ve thought that Snape and Malfoy are close to Riddle, but it looks like they weren’t involved in this. Bellatrix probably was. It turns out Snape suspected something fishy was going on. I don’t know the details, but the badly burned body they found wasn’t Peter at all. Somehow Snape managed to locate where Peter had been sent into exile. Honestly I think he did it to impress Lily more than anything else, he’s apparently able to do anything when it comes to her. Git. Malfoy on the other hand is too scared to say shit. At least he wasn’t actively involved.”
For a few minutes Remus contemplates what Sirius will say about Snape helping to save the day. It’s far easier than thinking about Sirius soon entering the door.
“What happens next? Have they arrested Riddle?”
James shakes his head, sighing deeply. “He’s a sly and manipulative bastard, that one, and an expert in covering his tracks. Peter on the other hand... It’s all a mess.”
A mess you made worse by doubting the love you shared, by doubting Sirius Black. Your Sunshine Boy.
“I’m scared of seeing him again, James.” Another time Remus might have grimaced at the sound of his own shaky voice. Now he has no such thoughts to spare.
“Maybe he’s scared of seeing you as well.”
It isn’t James answering. Lily is back, standing in the doorway, having walked in unnoticed. Her voice is calm, her expression concerned. And she isn’t alone.
Sirius pushes himself off the entrance door, slowly walking towards them, stopping mechanically by Lily.
He meets Remus’ eyes without flinching.
On the surface his eyes are as intense as ever, their gaze is steady. Just behind the silvery grey, though, they are dull. Like shallow waters someone’s stepped in, making sand and mud whirl up.
Oh Sirius. What have they done to you? What have I done to you?
His hair is shorter, his body is thinner, his jeans and polo shirt are neat and way too warm for June.
“It’s really... it’s good seeing you.”
There’s no answer. Sirius still looks calm, his expression is blank. His tightly clenched fingers are the only sign of emotion Remus is able to find. It’s quite disturbing.
“Sirius, I’m so sorry.”
Another pause. Lily’s voice breaks in before the tension becomes too painful.
“Dinner’s ready, guys.”
He’s dreamt of this moment.
When he gets the news, when being freed no longer is unobtainable, is no longer wishful thinking, but has become actual reality, the elated ecstasy he expected to feel, just isn’t there. Relief, yes. Bitterness, admittedly. But dominating over everything else is numbness. Emptiness. Exhaustion. Singing “Sweet Dreams are Made of This” in the shower and “Mad World” when he goes to sleep (he has, after all, had quite a lot of time to listen to music).
Thoughts about Remus aren’t at the top of the list. His brain doesn’t seem capable of dealing with his ex-lover-and-partner-and-soul-mate right away.
But today there hasn’t been anything but Remus on his mind. Memories of Remus. What he used to say. How he used to smell. The sound of his voice. The expression on his face when he laughed or he just woke up or he was pondering a serious matter or they were making love. The steeliness in his eyes when he ended their relationship.
And now Remus is here, sitting on the other side of James’ and Lily’s dining table. The flickering candles Lily insisted on lighting, despite the brightness of the June evening, throw soft shadows onto his face.
The hosts are doing their best to keep conversation going. Sirius answers whenever James speaks directly to him, otherwise he stays quiet. What is there to say? Okay, that may not be the most intelligent question he’s ever asked himself. Rephrase – how does he start?
The clinking of the cutlery is eventually the only thing breaking the silence. Remus croaks out that the roast is lovely even if his plate tells everyone he’s hardly touched it.
James and Lily busy themselves clearing the table, carrying everything to the kitchen. Lily says something to Remus, she nudges him gently, before silently disappearing with her husband.
Remus turns towards him. It’s difficult to read the expression on his face. The face that used to hold no secrets to Sirius. Now he sees imploring eyes and sharp lines around the mouth, but he can’t tell what lies behind them.
“Talk to me, Sirius. Say something. Please.”
Sirius blurts out the only thing that enters his mind.
“I would like to know what you are thinking.”
“Honestly?” A shadow of a smile passes Remus’ face. “I’m thinking of your beautiful hands, how immensely perfect they are. I’m thinking of what it used to do to me when they met mine. I’m thinking of how utterly lost I’ve been without you. Sirius – I am so, so sorry.”
It shouldn’t mean anything to hear those words. But it does. The dam breaks, and three seconds later Sirius finds himself tentatively wrapping his arms around Remus, trying to stop his lips from quivering. He sniffs into Remus’ shoulder. The brown curls are longer. He smells the same. A part of Sirius wants to scream, yell as loudly as he can that he’s waited so long he’s thought he’d go insane. But he doesn’t. He looks at the slender body in his arms. Somehow there may still be life left to live.
“Dance with me?”
Sirius nods. “Let’s dance.”
Music flows from the corner and fills the room.
Because my love for you would break my heart in two.
Remus pulls Sirius with him in one smooth movement. They keep the tempo slow and start dancing, holding each other in a loose embrace, feeling warmth from the one person that’s ever been able to make them feel whole, loved, cherished. Something breaks free inside Sirius’ chest. It’s not quite joy, it’s not even contentment, it’s not forgiveness or a wish to be forgiven. But at least it’s something.
“Are you okay?” Remus whispers the words as if frightened he’ll disturb the music.
Sirius shakes his head. “No. Not yet. But I hope I will be.”
Outside of the windows they can see that the persistent midsummer sun has finally caved and disappeared behind the city skyline. The burning colours it leaves on the sky promise them that it will be back.
Maybe it will bring them a new dawn. Maybe they can still have tomorrow.
They keep dancing. Slowly and softly. Sirius inhales deeply. Blinks and finds a smile. “I think I might be.”
A/N: All chapter titles are borrowed from song titles:
“Boys Don’t Cry” – The Cure
“Have You Ever Fallen in Love with Someone You Shouldn’t’ve” – The Buzzcocks
“Love Song” – The Damned
“Anarchy in the UK” – Sex Pistols
“Let’s Dance” – David Bowie