The Past: Remus & Sirius + Feelings Who: Remus Lupin & Sirius Black What: Remus has returned from none so thrilling adventures in Eastern Europe and poof there feelings are about a shared darkness and the difficulty of doing the right thing. When: Some nebulous time in the year after Hogwarts. Where: Sirius’s flat Warnings: None. Except feelings. Maybe.
Remus was exhausted. Not that this was a new feeling, but this was a different sort of exhaustion. His mission to Eastern Europe had gone longer than planned. Two full moons longer, but it was over now.
The first moon was rough. It was always rougher without Padfoot, Prongs, or Wormtail. The wolf had gotten used to having them around. Maybe too used to it given how uneasy the world was. But it calmed the human part of him, allowed the transition to be a little easier. And he held tightly onto any graces he could afford. The second he actually ran with other werewolves, and was privy to another type of pack. It left a strangeness that still sat uncomfortable on his mind. Never any details, but just feelings or impressions.
Remus was grateful to be back at what he accounted for home these days. Not that he would admit that Sirius Black’s sofa was home, but it was the place he most often came back to. A solid place for napping, and the easiest place to guarantee he would find Sirius, and he could use the companionship.
Sirius had not had a great couple of weeks himself. He'd been worried about Remus- gone too long, and through more than one moon, and he couldn't help but worry even if he'd never admit it in so many words- and there'd been precious little in the way of distraction. No Order business that Dumbledore thought him fit for, and while tending bar was fun and profitable both it was hardly the sort of thing a bloke could throw his heart and soul into for the duration. His flat felt too quiet and, weirdly, too small as time went on, and he couldn't just-so-happen to show up at James's or Andromeda's and then fall asleep there every night even if he rotated between them. He was irritable and he was restless, and when he got home tonight he tossed his wand blindly at the table by the door and went to throw himself just as carelessly on the sofa. He only just caught himself in time, upon seeing the person napping there, to keep momentum from tripping him up.
“Oi, Moony, you're back!” he greeted, surprised and careless of whether he was actually waking his friend up because of it. But then, he'd already made a racket coming in.
Remus hadn’t been sleeping so soundly that he minded being woken, in fact, he rather preferred it. He sat up, crinkling his nose, still unsure of the feeling of the healing scrapes and cuts on his face and body. Never the sort of scars that gave a man character.
He shifted to make space on the couch. “Yes, yes, back at last. Although I’m not sure the trip did any good.” Remus swallowed. There was a weariness there. “I think -- it’s definitely better to back here, back to the familiar.” Back home, he didn’t say. “And hopefully I won’t have any other missions abroad for a while.”
Sirius dropped down into the space Remus had made, casually graceful, and peered at the other young man, assessing. “You look like you feel like shite,” he noted, frowning. “D'you want anything? I've got leftover takeaway, unless you found that already.”
Remus’s face twisted into a smile. “Then I look better than I feel, which as you did forget, does including dashingly handsome. Can’t forget that.” But Sirius wasn’t wrong. “Who did in fact already help myself to your food, which did leave something to be wanting. I might have also made a list of what we need to restock. For tomorrow.” Remus wasn’t keen on going anywhere tonight.
Sirius waved a dismissive hand vaguely through the air. “Yeah, yeah. You know I don't shop unless someone makes me. ‘swhy it's good you're back. Who else is going to mother me in my own flat?”
He had Andromeda and Lily to mother him outside of it, after all.
There was probably a joke here. Something about the last time he showered, or properly ate, but Remus was still just tired, unsettled even. “And the truth finally comes out as to why you keep letting me in.”
“Yeah, it's the shopping lists and the sunny disposition,” Sirius agreed with a grin. “Surprise. So...mission didn't go well, then?”
Remus sighed, shifting again on the sofa so he was pressed more closely to Sirius. He needed the physical contact, that bodily reminder he was here. Home with Padfoot, who of everyone might actually understand. “No, not exactly. And I’m not really sure what anyone is hoping for, that I can drum up more support when --” He paused, rubbing his face. Was he actually going to do this? Maybe saying something, might after everything, find reassurance, some peace to at least not have to carry it alone. Not that he wanted Sirius to take any more of his burden, but that was who had. Who he wanted. “I just - I go out there and meet these other people, other werewolves, who are struggling, all the same struggle, that no one wants them, no one trusts them. They have no place of their own. And you just can see how easy it would be to make a different choice, to get behind the first person who even hints that things could be better, regardless of the how, because - well, because it’s all been rubbish.
“And in all of it, there’s this quiet revelation that the greatest power you have is being what everyone fears, that with a bite or a scratch you could change someone’s path, take it away. Because outside of that, you’re not much of anything, are you?” Remus pressed his eyes closed, taking a second. Really trying to stop the somersault in his stomach as he remembered the boastful stories werewolves who would threaten or actually attack the children of those who slighted them. And yes, that was his story, but worse yet when he searched his own feelings there was an empathy there. “So, you pause, and you think, well, maybe that might get me something, because things so far aren’t anywhere near good, but at what price?”
He didn’t dare glance over at Sirius, just listening for his breathing, for any change in movement. “And it’s all exhausting, damning...and dark.”
When Remus shifted closer, Sirius let him, curling toward his friend easily and tucking his head lightly on the other’s shoulder. He’d always taken to physical affection, physical reassurance, like a dog to petting.
As Remus spoke, however, he stilled, the little twitches and fidgets that were generally endemic to a Sirius Black who was meant to be sitting quietly frozen, and while his breathing remained steady and even he was unwontedly silent, listening to it all. He could have... extrapolated all of that himself, maybe had already if not in so many words, but it was a different thing to hear it aloud. Especially from somebody who usually didn’t talk about it.
He ought to know, after all.
He stayed quiet until Remus had been, too, for long enough that Sirius was sure that he was finished, however much he wanted to interrupt, to protest. He’d been trying not to do that, these last few years, and it didn’t come naturally at all. “It’s, it’s hard,” he said finally, a little stilted, like he was making an uncharacteristic effort to be careful, “to...when everyone expects you to be one thing, maybe it would be easier to be that thing. In the end. Maybe it would hurt less? And you’ll never know unless you do it, but there wouldn’t be any going back. And no matter which choice you make or how hard you work not to be the thing, there will always be people who think you are.”
Sirius swallowed and shook his head, because it wasn’t the same, not the same at all and certainly not a one-to-one correlation, and Remus telling him all of this was probably the one stupid thing Remus had ever really done because clearly Sirius Black was not qualified to help anyone with anything emotionally difficult. He was making it all about him, wasn’t he? You weren’t supposed to do that, basically everyone had told him at one time or another that not everything was about him.
“You’re wrong about one thing, though,” he added belatedly and with some guilt at not having said it before. “You are something outside of it. You’re a bloody Marauder, for one. Right?”
Remus has become quite interested in the way the light hit the dust on the table. He did steal a look over at Sirius for that last comment and bumped shoulders. “Right, chosen families, spots and all. Or in our case mindless monsters and blood traitors.” He chuckle once, dry, hollow.
“And I get it now. How easy it can be to let instincts win.” Remus was also talking about something else. Something they didn’t often talk about it, but it was the low hanging fruit. And if this was the end of the world, he didn’t want it rotting between them. “But you are also wrong. Sometimes you do get to come back, to redeem yourself. Or even, here’s a novel idea, accept forgiveness.”
Ah, now the fidgeting started, Sirius shifting restlessly and looking at anything other than Remus without settling on one thing in particular. “Doubt you did anything you need forgiveness for, anyway. Not your style. You sure you don’t want supper?” he asked after clearing his throat. It seemed a much safer subject than...whatever. “I can run back out and get something, if you really ate all the leftovers.”
Sirius might not have been looking at him, but Remus was watching Sirius then. Uneasy topics, yes, but important. “I’m hardly a saint. And neither are you. But that’s okay.” No, they were broken, dark and maybe a little twisted, Remus could see that now. “And I’m not going to make you talk about it. I just wanted to let you know that I get it, and I do forgive you, because I also see you daily make the right choice, even when it’s not the easy one. And that counts for a lot.”
Shifting uneasily, Sirius reached up to rake a hand through dark hair before glancing over at Remus and then quickly away again.
“Probably shouldn’t,” he muttered finally. He’d screw up spectacularly again sooner or later, that was a given. Standing, he paced toward the flat’s tiny kitchen just to pull open the cupboards, like some sort of food (or convenient excuse to end the conversation) would miraculously appear.
Remus sighed, using that wound to cover the small whimper in the back of his throat. Tempted as he was to say something else, maybe it was better if he chose his words more carefully. “Nope. Pretty sure I’m allowed to feel exactly how I want to feel, and able to grant forgiveness. It is the glory of my near human existence. And I can be a dog with a bone too. Just keep saying it until you start to believe it.” Especially when he was sure that if the tables were reserved the same would be true.
Closing the cupboard he’d been poking in with perhaps more force than was necessary, Sirius turned to glare at Remus in spite of himself. The expression only stayed in place for a few seconds before it dropped down into something hangdog instead. “Yeah, and what happens when I start believing it and forget to...not listen to the instincts. Not do it again.” He huffed, frustrated and more than a little embarrassed by it. “Let’s just get supper.”
Remus was staring rather intently at the back of Sirius’s head. “Not sure it’s something you can forget. I certainly can’t. But does it have to consume you?” He shook his head, not really expecting any answer, and certainly still not derailed by the continued offers of food.
Sirius made another frustrated noise in response. “I wouldn’t say I’m bloody consumed,” he protested, rubbing a hand through his hair again. “You’ve just been gone two months and apparently forgotten all my many, charming better qualities, apparently.”
As jokes went, it was pretty lame, but maybe attempts at humor would work better than offers of food for deflection.
“Ah yes, right, how could I forget? In my list of most sacred duties includes ensuring that the esteemed Sirius Black doesn’t go feral.” Remus scrubbed his face. It was clear this conversation wasn’t going to go anywhere, not that he expected much progress, but cards were on the table now. “But I’m exhausted. And now going to sleep in your bed. After you finish eating or whatever else you need to do, you or Padfoot are very welcome to join me.”
Ha. Sirius won again. He usually did, and he didn’t know why he didn’t feel very triumphant about it.
“I should hope I am, it’s my bed,” he grumbled, but there was no heat in it.
He moved to open another cupboard, then paused and glanced over his shoulder. “Hey, Moony? I’m glad you’re back.”
“I’m glad to be back too.” Remus shook his head with a fond sort of exasperation. “Don’t be long.”
In the end, a half-hour later or so (and therefore not long at all,) it was the dog that crept into the bed and cuddled up to Remus’s sleeping form. Dogs couldn’t be drawn into awkward conversations that poked at painful places, wounds that boys couldn’t bear to let heal; dogs weren’t kept awake at night by endless questions about redemption and what it meant to be good. It was better this way.
And besides: Padfoot had missed Remus as much as Sirius had.