rs small gifts

Fic: ...yet your eyes cover my skin

Author: huldrejenta
Title: ...yet your eyes cover my skin
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters & Pairings: Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore, Remus/Sirius
Ratings & Warnings: R, some angst and sexual content
Word count: ~ 4,700
Prompt: The poem Away by James Whitcomb Riley
Summary: Voldemort was gone, and his followers were all sent to Azkaban. Years later, justice was done when some of them got released. But being free isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Remus finds that getting someone back home isn’t always either.
Notes: Written for pavlablack at the 2013 rs_small_gifts.
Hugs to gilpin25 for being a wonderful beta! Any remaining mistakes are all mine.

It’s an exhilarating feeling; this new carelessness he finds within himself. There’s an enormous freedom in letting go. Relief beyond words in surrendering to never ending nothingness.

Remus has always assumed that acknowledging he’d nothing left to lose would lead to apathy, that it would gather up every inhale of loneliness and every exhale of desperation he’d been breathing for years; leaving him with no hopes, no goals, no yearnings.

Merlin, was he wrong.

Standing in the middle of the open field he’d just Apparated into, looking down at well-worn shoes that allow wet snow to leak through to already cold feet, he finds himself looking forward to the moment when those shoes are soaked all the way through and he can’t possibly get any wetter.

His eyes follow the frozen plain; they take in the used-to-be-white snow covering the fields, the rocks peaking up here and there, before coming to rest where the forest begins. With no hesitation he starts walking towards it, towards the pine trees that reach up for the sky and seem to go on forever. He uses the moist sleeve to wipe snow off his even wetter forehead, but otherwise doesn’t devote much thought to sludge filling his shoes or sleet covering his face, making the view foggy and blurred. After all, he is a man on a mission.

He’s always been good at focusing on his task, keeping his worries at arms’ length when doing what needs to be done. Some things will rub off after having spent most of his life dealing with untold and unspeakable trials. Now he can clearly see how limited that ability has been. Limited by attachments and old memories. It’s only now when he feels he’s let go of it all, of his dreams and desires, that he’s able to reach out for this.

Soon he’s at the first tree, he lets his hand caress the uneven trunk for a moment and breathes in the air that smells of pine and snow and grey winter. This is his world now. Sirius’ world. Somewhere inside this forest he will find Sirius.

*** ***

It wasn't love at first sight. Truth be told, it wasn't even like at first sight. Outspoken spontaneity meeting cautious contemplation can lead to friction, even conflict, when placed together in the same dorm, with a head-shaking James and a nervous-looking Peter as spectators. Surprisingly soon they found a common middle ground, giving the reckless Sirius long missed peace of heart, and the melancholy Remus unexpected joy of life. They built a bond; a bond strong enough to inspire powerful greatness and to forgive unthinkable betrayal. When years later they fell in love, their hearts and lives were already so deeply entwined it seemed one couldn’t exist without the other. Their love was old love, from the very day they leaned in for their first, breathless kiss. Never fumbling or searching. What they yearned for was already there.

Until the day it wasn’t.

Until everything Remus had trusted, cherished, loved, was taken away within the blink of an eye. Just like that.

People around him tried to be supportive, to be helpful. “Life must go on,” they said, “nothing to be done about the past anyway. You must live your own life now.” But the voices in his head never let him.

“You have no idea,” Peter would say, eagerly and earnestly, “how much your friendship means to me. Without you, Hogwarts would have been so much harder.”

“We still have the memories,” people said, “but nothing good ever comes from dwelling in those.” Remus tried to tune out Peter’s voice, only to find that it left room for others.

“Moony!” James would say in his happiest tone, “she finally speaks to me! You always told me it could happen.” Lily would join in with her lilting laugh. “I decided there must be some decency in James since you want him as your friend, Remus.”

“Oh dear,” people said, “they were wonderful, weren’t they? It was so very tragic. We all miss them terribly, but that doesn’t bring them back. Look ahead!” And Remus made a half-hearted effort. Nothing could prepare him, though, for the last voice whispering in his ear.

“I love you,” Sirius would say, voice soft and so very, very close. “I love you so much. Time spent away from you is always less enjoyable, less important, less real. Without you, the world doesn’t make much sense to me.”

“Don’t,” people said, “don’t even get me started. About. That. Man.” They would fume and rage with icy voices and hardened faces. “He is as good as dead to me. That’s the way you should see him as well, Remus. Dead. Gone from this world. He doesn’t even deserve our anger, he’s nothing. I’ll say it again, he is dead.”

Only this time, Remus couldn’t listen to them. He couldn’t walk away from it, he felt ill at the thought of leaving Sirius for dead. How many times had he gone through everything, looking for missed clues, trying to understand how Sirius could have betrayed those who loved him? Some peace of mind came only when he realised he couldn’t find any clues, would never find any reasons, simply because there were none out there to be found. The man everyone saw as dead belonged with the living.

So Remus waited for the many tides to turn.

But when they eventually did, when Remus saw his love again, when his whole being ached to crawl under Sirius’ skin the way Sirius had always remained under his, Sirius didn’t remember. Not the best parts, not what really made it them. “They say everyone thought of me as dead,” Sirius said over his shoulder, not meeting anyone’s eyes. “You should continue doing that. I might as well be.”

*** ***

Even Remus has limits when it comes to suppressing the effects of the cold. The quiet, narrow path in the forest hasn’t lead him all that far, but the chill makes every step heavy, every movement a struggle. He must gather all his strength to keep walking; there isn’t much left for the endless fight of holding his thoughts clear, his mind alert, his heart safe.

“I suppose I should say welcome.”

Apparently Sirius did receive the owl from him, Remus wasn’t certain he would. Remus has reached a small clearing almost without noticing. He can feel it’s got even colder, the sleet whirling in the air is proper snow now, and for the first time ever he’s standing outside of Sirius’ cottage. The man himself is in front of the door, leaning towards it, arms crossed, eyeing Remus – not exactly looking hostile, but certainly guarded. Remus probably does as well.

“You’ve come all this way, gods only know why, so you’d better come in. Wouldn’t want you to freeze to death. Bad things usually happen when someone dies near me.”

They walk inside.

The cottage is small and surprisingly inviting. Fire crackles in the hearth, the furniture is wooden and slightly rough. Despite the blankets and furry carpets, the atmosphere is very masculine. Very Sirius.

It takes Remus both time and a good Warming Charm to stop shivering from the cold. He takes off his wet jacket and shoes, silently accepting the woollen sweater Sirius hands him. Sirius is wearing a similar one, and Remus can’t help but notice that living in the forest has changed the thin, tired-looking person he saw last. Now he’s closer to the well-built, healthy man from the past, even if his eyes don’t follow through. Before Remus can stop himself, he inhales when putting the sweater on, basking in the smell. He shoots Sirius a narrow look to see if the gesture was noticed. Of course it was. Sirius may have lost a lot of his best memories, but there’s nothing wrong with his perceptiveness.

A simple, rough sofa in front of the hearth looks tempting. Remus is more tired than he has any reason to be; it’s still in the middle of the day, and it’s more than a week since the full moon. He wasn’t prepared for this, though, stupid as it seems now that he’s here. He wasn’t prepared for losing his composure, not so thoroughly, not so quickly. With a quiet sigh he sinks down onto the sofa, not feeling very comfortable wearing his heart on his sleeve. Never has been.

“Why did you come here, Remus?”

Sirius sits down next to him, careful to leave some space between them. Two mugs are placed on the table, and whatever’s inside them is hot enough to make steam rise into the air. A long-fingered hand carefully grips one of the mugs, and Remus is unable to tear his eyes away as Sirius lifts it up, letting his lips touch it, opening his mouth just so much, taking a small sip of the warm drink before putting the mug down again.

“I came to see you. Because I miss you. To see if you’re all right.” Remus stops, hesitates, takes a sip from his mug. Subtly sweetened black tea, just the way he likes it. He doesn’t know what that means, if it means anything at all, but he’s here now, might as well say everything.

“I came because I love you. I always have.”

Of all the reactions one can expect after such a statement, annoyance isn’t the one Remus thought he’d get. Yet Sirius seems to be just that. He gets up, walks to the window, aimlessly closes and opens the thick curtains. His back is rigid. “You don’t love me,” he says, and that’s the moment Remus’ body decides it’s time to sneeze, so he does. After the awkward search for some tissues in his pocket and the necessary nose wipe, Sirius turns slightly. A shadow of something resembling a smile floats across his face. Soon his guarded mask descends once more.

“It’s not me you love.” His voice is angry now. “It’s the past that you love. It’s how things used to be that you miss. Sorry, but that kind of relationship is no longer on offer. That sort of life is no longer an option. That man you remember no longer exists.”

Some of the determination Remus felt before coming here floods back. He’s expected these answers. It’s his mission to provide alternative ones. “You’re so wrong,” he says softly. “I still see the same man when I look into your eyes.”

Sirius doesn’t even blink. He leans back against the wall (and how inappropriate is it that Remus can’t help but let his eyes glide over the slender figure). “You know what, Remus – that doesn’t sound like love to me. It sounds more like stubbornness. It sounds like a man lonely and desperate enough to cling to a past long gone, to haunt the ghost of someone lost ages ago.”

There’s no use pretending that doesn’t hurt. But this isn’t the time to nurse wounded feelings. There might be plenty of time for that later on.

“Why did you move out here, Sirius? You always hated being alone. There are so many people who love you and want to be there for you.”

Now Sirius doesn’t look just angry, he looks furious. “Can you imagine anything that makes you feel more alone than being with people who share their history – who say that I’m part of that history, but when I look back, all I can see is failures and mistakes and fuck-ups. That’s what these people remind me of! They don’t mean comfort to me, they mean showing me what’s lost.” He meets Remus’ eyes for the first time since they met, probably for the first time in years. His eyes don’t convey anger anymore, just desolation. “That is what you represent to me now, Remus. I have nothing left to give anymore.”

It's like a punch to his gut. What more can he do, what else is there to say? Well, there’s a lot to be said, but who’s listening?

“It’s like...” Sirius clears his throat before continuing to speak, his eyes have a far-away look. “I’ve tried to find it. To find my way back to the memories stolen from me and to the life I’ve lost. I can see images sometimes, vague impressions or flashes. Or I can hear sounds I try to put in the right context. Voices, or a song. I’ll start humming the song, but I can only remember a small verse in the middle of it. The rest is gone, and I’m left with an even stronger sense of loss than before I tried to find it. So I’ve stopped. It makes it easier.”

Silence. After which, somehow, the day goes on.

They eat (Sirius still makes a mean curry beef stew); they sit in front of the fire and exchange polite phrases. Remus hasn’t spent this much time in Sirius’ proximity in ages (quite literally), and never has he felt further away.

When the night arrives, Remus searches inside for some final attempts at a breakthrough, only to find he’s exhausted all he has. His strength and previous determination flow like water through his desperate fingers.

So he lies down on Sirius’ sofa, refuses the offer to take the bed, and tries very hard not to think that the man he’s dreamed of for so long lies only a few feet away. He doesn’t picture Sirius curled up under his duvet. He doesn’t imagine the way Sirius’s body would feel, warm from lying under the covers, skin soft and arms open. There’s no way he wonders what would happen if he got up and walked over to the bedroom door, quietly opened it, gently prodded the sleeping man to move over, before slowly lying down, putting his arm over Sirius’ chest, falling asleep to the steady rhythm of heartbeats.

Tomorrow he’s going home. This was a mistake. If life has taught him anything, it’s that hope of any kind inevitably leads to heartache. He shouldn’t have let anyone convince him otherwise, no matter how persuasive they were.

*** ***

“Please come in, my dear boy.”

Having reached his thirties, there weren’t many people who would think of calling Remus a boy. Albus Dumbledore wasn’t most people, and it felt surprisingly comforting to be addressed this way.

The headmaster’s office looked exactly the way it always had. In the corner of his eye Remus could see the shadows of four young Gryffindors floating by, receiving their punishment with bowed heads and eyes so very much alive, before the shadows slowly dissolved. Dumbledore didn’t seem to notice anything, and Remus shook his head, trying to clear it.

“Please sit down, Remus. Would you care for a cup of tea, and perhaps one of Bertie Bott’s Beans? I recently got a box as a gift, and I’d hate for it to go to waste. I cannot say I care for them very much. Not very adventurous of me, I’m afraid.”

Remus took the box filled with Every Flavour Beans, rummaged around for a green one. Dumbledore looked expectantly at him, smiling. “Well?”

“Grass.” Could be a lot worse. “I always go for the green ones. They’re usually okay. Except for the one time I got green envy. Didn’t even know that was a taste. It is. A bitter one.” He swallowed his Bean, stopped talking nonsense, and waited.

“Are you happy, Remus?” Whatever Remus had expected, this wasn’t it. Dumbledore rested his chin on his fingertips and peered at him. “You are highly valued within our little group of former Order members; respected and well liked. But I doubt very much that you are as content with your life as we all would like to see you.”

So much for thinking he was doing a fine job being the epitome of happiness.

“Well, headmaster,” he said, squirming like a schoolboy under Dumbledore’s scrutinising eyes, “as you probably are aware, there are some things I wish could be different. I don’t think it’s in my power to change them. It is what it is, and one person can only do so much.”

Dumbledore smiled, a crooked half-smile Remus knew from experience would be followed by enigmatic tales or well-meaning advice. Possibly both.

“My dear boy. Even the most powerful flood must once have begun as a single drop of water. The drop fell from the sky as rain, along with many others, and gathered strength and purpose as it fell. All it takes is someone with the courage to find that first drop.” He leaned forwards, his blue eyes twinkled. “The Dementors are in possession of exceedingly dark powers, I don’t pretend otherwise. They can take away happiness and the will to live. Unless they perform The Kiss, however, they cannot erase the very core of a human being, or their potential for getting reacquainted with joy. Even with some memories gone for good, there’s always hope. Love harbours a magic far more powerful than dark forces ever can.”

*** ***

“Sirius? Are you awake?”

It’s early morning, still dark outside. Remus’ jacket is dry and ready.

“Yes.” Sirius sits up in his bed, Remus can hear the movement more than see it. He finds his wand and mumbles a quick Lumos.

“Don’t.” Sirius blinks, looking tired, but alert. “I’d like to talk a bit. In the dark.” Another quick wave with the wand, a whispered Nox, and the room is dark once more.

Remus waits.

“I’ve been thinking. These hours since you got here, I’ve been doing more thinking than I have in a long time. Usually I simply exist. Walk around in the forest. I need this – the loneliness, the silence. I’ve no need for strangers telling me that things will be all right, and to me they’re all strangers now. But then you showed up, and... You do funny things to me. Maybe life doesn’t have to be all bad. I realised that there are a thousand ways to die.”

A small almost-sob escapes Remus’ throat. “I don’t see how that is particularly comforting.”

“Might as well let it be just that. Or at least liberating. If the sky decides to fall down on me, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. Weird as it may sound, I think realising that also made me see that I actually don’t want to. Die, I mean. Not yet.”

Sirius hauls himself to his feet and takes a few steps towards Remus.

“I have...” His voice is very small. “This is going to sound really stupid... But there have been times when memories come back. Little things, usually from Hogwarts, like planning a good prank. I remember how planning them was even better than doing them. The four of us together. Those kind of memories return to me when I do things with my hands, touch things that somehow connect with my past. It’s like my hands and my body remember stuff that my brain has lost. Maybe it can happen with people as well.”

It takes Remus a while to get where this might be heading. He’s spent the night convincing himself that this is a lost cause and a dead-end road; that maybe he’s destined to always want the unobtainable, that all sorts of impossibilities are waiting for him. And now Sirius is reaching out. Tentatively, but still reaching out.

If Sirius means what Remus believes him to mean.


Crossing the small room feels like walking a thin line, he’s afraid he might fall down. They find the bed together, fumbling with their hands to avoid the sharp edges. Sirius shifts closer, and Remus can sense that he’s being watched. It’s dark, yet he can feel Sirius’ eyes covering his skin.

“So, is it okay?” Remus recognizes the hidden tremble underneath Sirius’ calm voice. For some reason it makes him want to cry.

“Do you think it will help? Can it trigger your memories?”

“Don’t know. It might be worth a shot. If – if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind.”

“Okay then.”

Sirius sits still for a while. Then he turns towards Remus, swallows audibly before lifting his hand.

The room is completely silent.

Sirius lays his hand on Remus’ arm. It’s him. It’s Sirius touching him. How his heart is still able to beat in this moment is beyond him.

Strong fingers glide over his forearm, circling around his elbow, over his upper arm to his shoulder. They find their way to the nape of his neck, gently tugging at his hair, brushing over his earlobe. A small shiver runs through him, even as he firmly reminds himself there’re no erotic reasons for this. Remus wants to help find those lost memories, more than anything else. When Sirius’ hand continues to the front of his shoulder, clutches the fabric of his thin t-shirt, glides down his chest; it’s increasingly hard to focus on why they’re doing this. A thumb glides across Remus’ nipple. There’s no way Sirius can miss the sharp intake of breath.

Despite his best efforts, it proves quite impossible to sit still when the man he’s loved for most of his life shifts beside him, sits down on his heels, touches Remus’ thigh with his own. Sirius’ hand continues its journey down Remus’ chest. A sweet ache stirs. Long forgotten memories of the two of them mapping each other’s bodies, blend together with an explosive, hungry desire, making him dizzy.

“Do you remember this?” The words are long gone from his mouth before he can think.

“No. Not really.” There’s a warm edge to Sirius’ voice that is at odds with the desolation of his words. “I may... I think I remember one time, we must have been quite young, and I had no idea what I was doing.”

Is Sirius blushing? It’s impossible to tell in the darkness, but his voice betrays him.

“I remember feeling awkward and stupid, but there’s still a sense of joy. It’s not quite memories, more images, emotions. Maybe this is working.”

Hope stirs inside Remus. He doesn’t have the strength to push it down. Heavily he lets his head rest against the wall and closes his eyes.

Sirius moves with more confidence now. He slips his hand underneath Remus’ t-shirt, caressing the skin on his belly. Remus tries to stay quiet, fighting back the urge to grab Sirius, to fling him down onto his back, mount him and press hungry knees to his hips.

And then he can’t take it any longer. He lets go.

“Sirius... I can’t, I’m too...”

“It’s okay.” Sirius sounds like he’s reassuring himself just as much as Remus. “I want this. I didn’t mean to, but I want this.”

Remus pulls off his t-shirt, takes off his boxers with no hesitation. He needs to feel Sirius close to him, need his hands on him; he craves it so badly he feels like he’ll disappear without it. Judging from the tremble in Sirius’ body as Remus turns him around and straddles him, the feeling is mutual. It can’t happen quick enough, he’s wanted this for so long, so very long. Together they take off Sirius’ t-shirt and pyjamas, he’s not wearing anything underneath, never used to.

When Remus has imagined this, he’s pictured slow, gentle lovemaking, taking their time exploring changed bodies and long buried desire. Now that it’s happening, there’s an uncontrollable rush in their movements.

“Look at you,” he breathes without actually seeing much, but what he does see is simply wonderful.

Sirius lies on his back. His skin is almost glowing in the dark. His black hair floats across the pillow. His features are strong, and his body would be a dream for any artist to capture in ink on the canvas. He’s still so beautiful it’s unreal.

Remus leans in and kisses him. A hungry, urgent kiss; sending unspoken messages from one mouth through the other. I need you. So much.

With a silent groan Remus ends the kiss. He has to taste more, he wants all of Sirius, and he wants it now. Eagerly he kisses Sirius’ throat, he finds the spot above his collarbone that always used to undo him, and the reaction is just as vehement as it was before. Sirius sobs. “Remus.... Ssssso good...”

Strong hands clutch at his hair as Remus moves lower, he kisses everywhere he can reach, chest and stomach, licking a trail from the navel following the soft hair below it, before his mouth stops inches from Sirius’ erection. He’d felt all of Sirius pushing towards him when they lay kissing, yet everything is so overwhelming that he hasn’t been able to focus on the particulars. Now he does. Without thinking, he lowers his head, kisses the inside of Sirius’ wonderfully spread thighs, working his way up. There’s no finesse to it when he finally takes as much of Sirius as he can into his mouth, they’re a long way past thinking about such things, but Sirius doesn’t seem to mind.

This has always been Remus' favourite moment - when Sirius lets go, tossing his head back and forth, clutching the sheets, babbling nonsense. Remus has almost forgotten what this does to him.

“Don’t stop, Remus, whatever you do, don’t ever stop.”

Nothing could be further away from Remus’ mind. He couldn’t stop if he wanted to, couldn’t walk away from this.

He keeps using his tongue, teases with it, but before long, Sirius pushes him away. “I don’t want this to be over so soon, and it will be if you continue doing that. Come here.” Impatient hands pull Remus up. He lies down on top of Sirius, one body covers the other, and his skin is on fire. Two mouths meet again, no less fervently than before.

Their world consists of nothing but this; hungry mouths, sweaty bodies, aching hardness moving against the other, lonely hearts reaching for each other.

The ending is violent. So much longing has lead up to this. First Sirius... And when Remus collapses with a moan against the only man he’s ever loved, he knows there is nothing and no one in this world he wants more. Let me in, Sirius, I can’t ever let you go.

Sirius looks up at him. “Wow. That was....”

“Yeah. It really was.”

They lie close together, their heartbeats slowly resuming to their usual pace.

“It didn’t work, though, did it?” Remus has trouble putting any coherent thoughts together, but this much he’s sensed.

Sirius lifts his head. “No. No, it didn’t.” His voice is surprisingly vivid and alive. “But it did show me something important. You’re a part of me, Remus. You exist in my backbone, and nothing can change that. No one can erase that.” He yawns. “Everything’s seemed so meaningless, like my life is always driven by forces I can’t understand. But maybe – maybe I don’t always have to understand.”

He adjusts the duvet so that it covers them both.

“Now what?” Remus isn’t certain he wants to hear the answer. So much for being a Gryffindor. But the idea of saying goodbye again, going back home, leaving Sirius here to live on without him... This idea sits quietly in a corner of his mind, ready to burst out and swallow him whole should Sirius say what he fears the most.

Sirius rests his head on his propped up hand. He looks down on Remus, smiling hesitantly in the almost-darkness. “Actually, I’d like to get some sleep.” With another yawn he lies down, awkwardly shifting closer. “Then I’d like to wake up. You know. Wake up for real. Or try to. I dunno. Take one day at the time. And for what it’s worth – I think I did remember something when I touched you. Sort of. Maybe we just need to practise some more. Good plan?”

Remus blinks away the wetness in his eyes, exhaling completely for the first time in days. Years.

“Yes, Sirius. A very good plan.”

Soon afterwards they fall asleep. When they wake up, the snow is still falling outside, covering Remus’ footprints through the forest. He hopes he won’t be walking back the way he came any time soon. He can’t think of anywhere he would rather be.

So lovely and sexy and atmospheric
What a wonderful description, I'm very glad that came through!

I've never written Dumbledore before, but I really enjoyed writing his little appearance :D

Edited at 2013-12-14 11:08 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful! And so sad, but still hopeful. Poor Remus, finally taking a chance at going after what he wants, only to find that he still can't have it (or so it seems). And poor Sirius, a stranger in his own life. I'm so glad Sirius decided to try -- and it looks like these two will still be able to build something together.

ETA: I also meant to say, as someone who absolutely hates trying to think of titles, that your title is very nice!

Edited at 2013-12-15 06:05 am (UTC)
Thank you! I have some difficulties writing angst without having hope there as well ;)

Ah yes, titles are the worst, aren't they?! I'm glad you like this one :D
OMG!MOTHEROFAWESOMENESS!!Yes,that is now an expression!!Seriously!
'He’s still so beautiful it’s unreal.' Wow!!Just wow!the way Remus still finds him that way is really something!And I just can't get over how much they seem to need each other-oh did I say 'seem to'??-I mean,obviously they just complete each other.This fic just goes so far to show that without writing it in obvious words,I LOVE IT!

'If life has taught him anything, it’s that hope of any kind inevitably leads to heartache.'This is just so true,it makes my heart ache!! And I just realised that I've already re-read this fic like three times already! :3

'Usually I simply exist. Walk around in the forest. I need this – the loneliness, the silence. I’ve no need for strangers telling me that things will be all right, and to me they’re all strangers now. But then you showed up, and... You do funny things to me. Maybe life doesn’t have to be all bad. I realised that there are a thousand ways to die.”' <3!!This just made me fall for these two even harder,I didn't think that was possible.

Edited at 2014-03-21 08:48 am (UTC)
Oh my, thank you so much!
You always leave so enthusiastic and great comments that put a big smile on my face :D

I'm really glad you enjoyed the fic, and that it made you fall for these two even harder! That's such a wonderful compliment, thank you :)