All but the Bitter Residue

~1000 words :: Harry Potter :: Sirius/Remus :: 3/28/07
In the days following Voldemort’s defeat, Remus struggles to come to terms with betrayal and loss.

It’s not nightmares that keep Remus up at night. The nightmare is what he’s living.

He makes it through the days on autopilot, but it’s okay; no one expects much of him anyway. No one wonders why he’d rather stay holed up in his flat than attend any of the celebrations. After all, Voldemort’s defeat is not much consolation when you’ve lost all your friends in one fell swoop.

He can’t exactly avoid the funeral, but Dumbledore’s speech is just a buzzing in his ears, all words that don’t make sense anymore. For the first time, Remus remembers Harry. He can see Molly Weasley with her youngest, but theirs are the only kids present. Someone probably told Remus what became of him. People fall over themselves to tell him things now, to include him in everything, but all he hears is, “Sorry we doubted you. Sorry we thought you were one of them. Sorry, sorry, sorry.”

As if it matters.

He stares at the caskets: three when he’s mourning four. It seems fitting somehow. A message from the universe that it will never add up. It will never make sense.

Forever later, the service finally ends. People pass him. Someone squeezes his arm. They all look at him as if they understand, and they murmur their condolences, offering empty promises that it will get easier when he knows it won’t.

He never used to dream; or at least, he never remembered anything. Now he dreams all the time, every night. He can’t stop. It’s last month, last year, they’re at school. They’re anywhere but now. They’re alive. It’s as if he’s sorting through his memories, as if he’s looking for something. A hint, maybe. Some sign he overlooked.

It’s a few months ago, sometime during the summer, when Sirius was still staying the night once in a while. Sirius leans over the edge of the bed, fumbling in his jeans. Remus pushes himself up on his elbows and he’s supposed to ask for a fag. He remembers asking for a fag, but his chest feels tight and his eyes sting and instead he says, “Is this why you were avoiding me?”

In the blink of an eye, they’re eighteen, celebrating being free from Hogwarts. Sirius’s kitchen is a mess of empty beer bottles and bags of crisps, and once everyone else is gone, Sirius traps him up against the counter, all sloppy kisses and warm, groping hands. A bottle tumbles to the floor, shattering without a sound.

Sirius scrabbles with their zippers. Hands trembling, Remus shoves Sirius’s jeans and pants down. “Why did you do it?”

But not even Remus’s subconscious has the answer, and this Sirius is just a memory, rubbing against him, breath hot on Remus’s skin as he murmurs, “Moony, Moony, Moony.”

Remus is up against a cold stone wall instead of the kitchen counter, and Sirius is giggling in a way Remus hadn’t yet learned to recognise as nervousness. Remus remembers thinking Sirius was so experienced, but on his knees he looks hesitant and unsure as he pushes Remus’s tatty school robes out of the way.

The four of them are huddled together under James’s invisibility cloak, Peter’s wand casting just enough light to read the map by.

Remus is cold and shivering, his body aching from the transformation, but Sirius is curled up next to him, warm and furry and Remus is surprised at how right it feels, as if he’d always been there.

The train is pulling out of the station. Remus sits alone, staring out the window and wondering how soon it will be before they kick him out. When Sirius throws himself onto the seat opposite and introduces himself, Remus doesn’t ask, but he wonders. Were you ever on our side?

As if in answer, Sirius grins broadly, holding out his hand. Ten years later and he’s holding out his hand again, the same grin on his face as he pulls Remus onto the dancefloor.

“Sirius!” Remus hisses.

Sirius just laughs and says, “No one’s paying attention to us.”

He whirls Remus around and all Remus can remember about the music is that it wasn’t right for the dance. Something sappy about love potions. Everyone is paying attention to them, including the bride and groom, but Remus doesn’t care anymore.

“You must have slipped me a love potion,” Sirius sings, off key and just loud enough for Remus to hear, “because I want to fuck you til you scream.”

And Remus is laughing and hard and when he wakes up, his eyes are leaking and his hand’s on his dick. He jerks it away and flips over onto his stomach, the sheets twisted around his legs. He tries to force himself back to sleep, but every time he closes his eyes, he sees Sirius. He sees the photo from the Daily Prophet, Sirius screaming at the camera under the headline “Death Eater Sentenced to Azkaban”, and he rolls onto his back again, arm flung over his eyes as if that will block it out. He tugs roughly on his dick and chokes out “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you” when he comes.

He rolls onto his side, and in the faint light of dawn, Sirius is waving at him from the bedside table. The photo is old, seventh year, he thinks, the four of them and Lily laughing at one of Peter’s awful jokes.

His hand darts out and the next thing he knows, the frame is hitting the far wall hard enough to shatter the glass.

It’s not til a few days later that he finally picks it up, muttering Reparo under his breath. He stuffs his wand back in his pocket and slides the photo out of its frame. It doesn’t want to tear at first, but once he gets it started it rips straight down between Sirius and James. James is too busy making eyes at Lily to notice anything wrong, but Sirius looks startled for a moment before Remus crumples him up and tosses the scrap into the bin.

He puts the photo back in its frame and sets it on the bedside table. The Remus in the picture keeps laughing at Peter’s joke, but his eyes are focused on the ragged edge where Sirius used to be.