FIC: "A Dictionary of Silence" for farad Recipient:farad Author: ??? Title: A Dictionary of Silence Rating: mild R Pairings: Mad-Eye Moody/Remus Lupin Word Count: ~2500 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *[mention of canonical character death]*. Summary: Moody is a man of few words, but he has a hundred varieties of silence. Author's Notes: Most of the dialogue in the final scene is taken from Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I've been wanting to write this pairing for ages and was thrilled to get the chance. I hope you like it, Farad!
Never drink alone, his dad said. Remus was twelve the first time he heard it, sneaking downstairs after bedtime to open his parents' drink cabinet. He still remembers the scent of brandy as he unstoppered the bottle, the heavy taste of it, and then his dad's voice behind him: "It's not the drinking that bothers me, Remus. It's the fact that you didn't ask."
Heart racing, glass clutched in his guilty hand, Remus turned slowly. His father was frowning, an owlish figure in his glasses and tweed jacket. After a long moment his dad sat down in the armchair.
"Pour me a glass."
Remus did, hand unsteady. He passed it over.
"Don't drink when you're angry at somebody, and never drink alone," said his dad, and took a sip.
Remus lifted his own glass, which felt odd in his hand. He gulped another mouthful of brandy, stifling the urge to cough. They sat there together in silence until Remus found himself talking: about being the least adventurous person in a bunch of cool friends, about Sirius's family, about James's pranks and Peter's smuggled Butterbeer. His dad listened, nodded, and smiled his crooked smile. Little by little the tension in Remus' chest eased, until he was yawning and his dad was lifting the glass from his hands.
"Next time, talk to me first," his dad said, hand warm on Remus's shoulder.
For the next decade he had people to drink with. There were Hogsmeade weekends with James, Sirius, and Peter, and the tunnel into Honeydukes' basement. There'd been parties in the Common Room, then later in pubs and houses. The four of them were a constant until James went into hiding and Sirius — well, it didn't help to dwell on that. Now he was here.
Never drink alone.
Being sober is more than Remus can handle at the moment, and since there's no Peter, or James, or Lily to drink with, and Sirius is never getting out of Azkaban, he's back in Hogsmeade.
"Pint of bitter," he says, pushing a coin across the bar.
It's the first time Remus has bought a single pint instead of a round, but he tells himself that he's not drinking alone. He knows the name of the barman and that counts as company.
Aberforth grunts in acknowledgement and picks up a grimy tankard. Remus watches him pour the beer, letting the foam settle, and then he deposits it on the bar with a thud. Remus nods his thanks, takes the beer, and turns to look for a seat.
The Hog's Head clientele look the way he always imagined them: a motley crew of the seedy and well-worn. He identifies an empty table in a quiet corner and is moving in that direction when a voice barks, "Lupin."
He swivels and finds himself looking into the grizzled face of Mad-Eye Moody.
"Oh," Remus says awkwardly. "Didn't see you."
Moody jerks his hand at the table, and it takes Remus a moment to realize that it's an invitation.
He's not sure that he wants company, and this isn't the company he would have chosen, but the words never drink alone echo through his head.
"Right. Thanks," Remus says, and takes a seat.
Moody's mug is half empty already. Remus watches him take another swig, face impassive except for that constantly spinning eye.
He ought to make conversation, but everything they have in common is about the Order and James and Lily and Harry and Peter and don't mention Sirius, which is still so raw that he aches with it. His throat closes up.
There's a whizz and then a bang outside, the sound of fireworks, and a few of the customers look up. Moody scowls.
"Seen enough explosions for a lifetime," he mutters.
It's true. In the week since James and Lily died there have been fireworks every night. Remus has been startled awake by the noise, still nerved to expect hostile spells.
"Yes," he says, voice rasping.
After the fireworks subside the silence doesn't feel so awkward. When Moody finishes his pint he walks to the bar and returns with two tankards. Once they drink those, Remus buys a round. It's not companionable, exactly, but it's better than being alone.
"Good to see you," Remus says, after the third pint. By then the bar is almost empty and Aberforth is grumbling quietly as he pushes a brown rag back and forth across the bar-top.
"And you, Lupin," growls Moody. The magical eye, which has been whirling all evening, settles finally on Remus's face. He has a slightly uncomfortable sense that Moody can see through him, more than Remus wants people to know, but Moody's voice is softer when he says "Watch out for yourself."
Remus can't exactly explain why he goes back next week. He's just tired: tired of being lonely, tired of grieving, tired of being so fucking tired all the time. Half the week he was pretending to be a functional human being by dragging himself out of bed and into a suit for James and Lily's funeral and then again for Peter two days later. He spent the rest of the time staring at the ceiling, the curtains, the carpet as it all churned in his head. At least this will be a change of scenery.
The Hog's Head is quiet when Remus enters, but he hasn't been sitting there for long before the door creaks open and Moody comes in. He orders his beer, hesitates, and then stomps over.
"Good to see you," Remus says politely, and then realises it's true. He pulls out a chair and Moody sinks into it.
Silence settles over them again.
It's nice, Remus realises slowly, to be with someone who knows what he's going through. People outside the Order can't really understand the fear, exhaustion, and loss. Looking into Moody's face, Remus knows that he understands the costs of war. Between the Order and Aurors, Moody must have lost a dozen friends to Voldemort. It's not the same as Remus's situation, but it's something.
After that, he expects Moody. Sometimes Moody is waiting with an extra pint when Remus arrives. On other days Remus buys the beer himself, a mug of bitter and one of dark stout, and finds a table. He's never there for long before Moody joins him, his arrival announced by the squeak of the door and uneven footsteps.
Moody doesn't waste words, but his body language is eloquent. As the weeks pass, Remus learns to read the silences between them. On bad days Moody stares too long into shadows, fingers gripping his tankard, and shoulders hunched. On good days his hands lie open on the table and he meets the gaze of the other patrons, his magical eye skittering from face to face. Moody never invites anyone else to join them.
Remus drinks his beer and watches the expressive lines of Moody's mouth, the bushy curve of his eyebrows, and little by little builds up a picture of the man beneath. If Moody minds him looking then he never mentions it. Besides, Moody watches Remus. It's hard to identify the line between constant vigilance and a different kind of interest.
There's nothing special about the night that Remus follows Moody home. They're standing outside the Hog's Head making their standard goodbyes and then Remus lays his hand on Moody's shoulder. He waits a beat, two beats, the beer and pork scratchings churning in his stomach, before Moody Apparates them away.
They land in a dim hallway. Remus doesn't have a plan for this and doesn't know quite what to expect — Moody is older, tougher, so perhaps he'll get shoved back against a wall, or pressed down onto a bed. He doesn't anticipate what actually happens: the way Moody looks at him a moment too long in the flickering light, then raises a hand to run his thumb down Remus' cheek.
Moody's hand is callused, as though the war has scuffed every inch of his skin. Remus turns his face into it and kisses the pad of Moody's thumb as it sweeps across his lips. Their breathing sounds ragged, too loud in the quiet house.
Then Moody steps in closer, his physical presence as solid and tough as weathered teak. Remus feels the warmth of a body against him, and then stubble brushing his cheek. He hears Moody take a deep breath, nose buried in the soft hair behind Remus' ear, and the exhale flutters over his skin, raising goosebumps.
Everything seems to happen in slow motion. It's nothing like the sex he had before the war, stilted instead of rushed, not laughing but silent except for the squeaking bedsprings.
Afterwards, as they lie on Moody's bed, Remus watches for tiny hesitations, for the narrowing of Moody's good eye, for the hard line of his mouth or the curl of a lip. All he finds is silence and the loose muscles anyone experiences after orgasm. When Moody bids him goodbye his tone is no different to normal.
Going back to Moody's becomes part of their routine. They don't talk about it, and their public behavior doesn't change, so he doubts that anyone realises. Even within the walls of Moody's house they never kiss; Remus knows how Moody's mouth feels on his cock, but not on his lips. He doesn't ask why.
Silence after sex is never as comfortable as silence in the bar. Remus is acutely aware of the scars on his body, some silvery with age and others barely scabbed over. Still, Moody doesn't shy away. His eyes dart across Remus's skin without judgement and his hands don't hesitate. Remus thinks that Moody has always seen more than he lets on.
Remus finds his eyes traveling over Moody's body too, noting the puffy curse scar on his left shoulder, the angry pink skin beneath his knee where the prothesis attaches, how the muscles of his face twist to accommodate the magical eye. It's a record of battles fought and won, with the price paid in blood. Moody is still hunting the remaining Death Eaters, and Remus wonders how much more he'll lose before it's over.
Right now, Moody is a solid weight on the mattress beside him, all hard muscle and sinew. Remus can't imagine anyone better able to survive. There's a lesson in that, if only he can find it.
Moody is a man of few words, but he has a hundred varieties of silence. Perhaps one day Remus will enumerate them, give them names, and put together a dictionary of silence. As he watches Moody's chest rise and fall in the candlelight, Remus begins to imagine the entries.
In the last week of January, Moody doesn't show. Remus buys two pints as usual and takes a table near the inadequate fire. When he finishes his bitter, Moody still isn't there.
Never drink alone, he thinks, then corrects himself: I'm not alone, I'm waiting. He orders a second pint, and drinks it, unable to stop himself from looking up eagerly every time the door squeaks. Perhaps he's imagining it, but Aberforth's expression seems pitying when he leaves.
Outside, snow is fluttering down. Remus turns up his coat collar and tries not to think of building snowmen with his parents, of snowball fights with his friends, of love and laughter around a crackling fire. His flat feels lonelier than ever.
Moody doesn't come the next week either. The front page of the Daily Prophet describes an Auror raid on a bar in Knockturn Alley that had been slipping potions in the drinks, and speculates that it was a Death Eater plot to poison couples on Valentine's Day. They quote Moody warning everyone of the need for caution, and perhaps that's the reason. Perhaps Moody simply tired of his company. He'll never know for sure.
Drinking in the Hog's Head without Moody is worse than being lonely at home. Remus tries the Leaky Cauldron instead, but it's not the same. Maybe it's better not to drink so much anyway.
Don't drink when you're angry at somebody, Remus thinks, and pours the half-finished bottle of Firewhiskey down the sink.
He should have seen this coming. Remus knows better than anyone that you can't escape the ravages of war for long. Yet he never expected this — never expected Moody to be a victim.
Remus closes his eyes and lets himself remember Moody's naked body against him, all muscle and scarred skin; Moody's callused fingers on his mouth, his stomach, his hips; Moody's breath rasping in his ear. It's almost impossible to believe that he's gone.
Inside his head, a voice that sounds too much like Moody says get a grip, Lupin.
He opens his eyes, picks up his glass and takes a gulp, Firewhiskey burning his throat.
Moody is right, he needs to pull himself together. He's the most experienced person here, the grizzled survivor amongst a bunch of shell-shocked children. They hardly know what a battle is. He has no excuse.
"There's work to do," he says, catching Bill's eyes across the table. "I can ask Kingsley whether—"
"No," Bill says, "I'll do it, I'll come."
The others look bewildered, and Lupin is suddenly furious at them — at their youth and naivety, their ignorance of how hard Moody worked, how much he paid to keep their generation safe.
When Fleur and Tonks bleat "Where are you going?" it's all he can do not to snarl.
"Mad-Eye's body," he says, fighting to keep his voice level. "We need to recover it."
"Can't it—?" pleads Mrs. Weasley, glancing over at Bill.
"Wait? Not unless you'd rather the Death Eaters took it?" Bill replies.
Nobody says anything after that. Remus can feel their eyes on him as he leaves. Outside, everything is dark and silent. It's hard to tell whether Voldemort is still circling out of sight.
Bill hands him a broom, and says "Ready?"
"Stick with me," Remus answers, listening hard and scanning the sky. He's searching for a metallic glimmer, the flutter of a cloak, the edge of something not-quite-concealed by a Disillusionment Charm.
Constant vigilance Moody's voice says, inside his head.
Together, in silence, they kick off into the night sky.