Word Count: 2888
The cell had been small. Just long enough to lie down it. Just wide enough that I could place my palms flat against the sides. There was a cot and a hole. Not wide enough for a man. Dementor at the door. If you moved—
I got used to not moving. And the crack of light was almost enough to keep me from going mad. Almost.
I used to watch it flicker. I’d play it was the flame on a giant’s candle. And that I was Jack. I can’t tell you how many times I wished for a bean stock.
The place smelled. But it didn’t smell too. Prisons should smell. Should be dank or grisly. Azkaban’s not. It is. But it’s not. It’s damp and cold. Even in summer. But it doesn’t smell like men. It just smells gray and unwholesome. As though something were dying. And there’s a salty sweaty smell to go with it. Grown men crying. Bet you didn’t think that was a smell.
And so what did I do in that prison made not for men—but become not a man. And then later when I could be a man I chose not to. I went back to being Padfoot. I’m not proud. And I could see in Remus’ eyes. It hurt him, but he understood. I think he always understood. Me. Everything. He’s better at it. At things. He always was
“Pads, you’ve had me in closets and bent over desks. Alleys. I’d like to be here—on a bed. I’d like to see your face.” I blushed and looked at my shoes. There was mud on the toe. That was interesting. I moved to scuff it off, but before I could, I felt him move up close so we were toe to toe. His hands rested on my hips and he bent slightly back so he was looking up into my eyes.
“You’re not afraid of me, are you?” he smiled.
“Merlin’s balls, Moony, I’m terrified of you.” We had edged backward so that the back of my knees hit the bed. I sat down involuntarily. Moony squatted in front of me; eyes never leaving mine. He looked anxious or sad, I couldn’t tell which.
“I certainly don’t mean too,” he said quietly.
“Oh no, Moony. It’s not you. Oh gods,” I ran my hands over my face. “It’s me. It’s just—hard for me. I—you want to be—” I clasped my hands together, interlacing my fingers. I didn’t have the words for what I meant.
“Intimate?” he asked, voice still soft and low. Small smile now.
“I—look Rem,” I stopped. “I don’t even hug my own parents, my family. I can’t even begin to know how to be close to you—not like what you want.” I couldn’t look at him. I wanted to crawl under the bed.
“That’s ok,” he said. And he moved so that he sat beside me. Brought his palm up to rest against my cheek. I looked up to meet his eyes. And he just looked at me for a while; warm fingers stroking my face.
And then he moved a little closer, so his lips barely pressed mine. Just enough to let me know he was there. Never one to crowd, no, not my Moony. Never pushed or forced his way in. Always patient. He waited before crossing any boundary. He was warm and soft; the gentlest of pursuers. He always asked before surging ahead. It was like being on a swing—I knew if I got too high, he’d catch me. He was the one person I knew was safe.
“Don’t let me fall,” I said, with a nervous laugh.
“No,” he kissed me again. “I would never—never let you fall.” His eyes were on mine as he drew me down onto the cool sheets.
I don’t know if I knew what it was I wanted. To go back to being blissfully numb. Selfish, of course. But what is Sirius Black if not selfish. I never did learn any different.
“I talked to Peter,” Remus voice was quietly resigned. I didn’t look up. “He doesn’t seem mad. Actually, I talked to James and then I talked to him. James is mad,” he gave a soft chuckle. “I’m sorry Padfoot, I’m not laughing at you. Not really.”
“Ha ha,” I said sullenly.
“I can—” he cleared his throat to keep from laughing again. “I can talk to James again if you like.”
“Forget it, I don’t know why you bothered in the first place,” I turned my back to him, pulled at the snag in the jumper I wore.
“You know, that is mine. I’d appreciate it if you would desist with the unraveling.”
“Well, it’s mine now,” I said, glowering.
“Nimue’s tits, I don’t see what reason YOU have to be so sullen. I think everyone’s reacted quite well considering! You could have been killed! You’re lucky I don’t beat you to death right here!!! But no, instead I go around, patient and long suffering, and clean up YOUR mess and get an unraveled sweater as gratitude!” he shouted, face red.
“Did you just say tits?” I grinned.
“Oh that is so NOT the conversation we’re having,” he fumed.
“The hell it’s not, you just said tits! You NEVER say tits. In your whole life, you have NEVER said tits,” I was shocked. Shocked and turned on.
“Sirius, you haven’t even known me my entire life. I could be quite accustomed to saying tits,” he had moved from mad to irritated. Not much longer now.
“Are you saying you had a life before you met ME?” I looked at him aghast.
“Oh no,” he replied dryly, “Those 11 years with my mum and dad were completely irrelevant.”
“Glad you agree,” I gave a firm nod.
“Sirius, you could have died,” he kept on.
“HAHA MOONY SAID TITS!” I cackled madly.
“You really are incorrigible.”
“Minerva’s always saying that, it sounds dirty.”
“Could you be serious for 2 minutes?”
“I’m Sirius every minute.”
“You have to admit, for once, that it was a mistake. A very dangerous, nearly fatal mistake. What would I do if you were dead? I’d be all alone. And you’d be off gallivanting in the afterlife!”
“Don’t worry Moony. I’m Sirius Black of the Incorrigible House of Black. I could never do anything so mundane as die.”
And so I sat in the doorway, between light and dark. Unsure where to go. What to do. Who to be. Azkaban was easier. Azkaban was night without dreams and without waking. Azkaban was quiet. There was no one. I was alone and it was quiet.
I think I must have collapsed. Or he did. Somewhere inside. It wasn’t getting better. I thought it would as a dog. Be better. It wasn’t. It was only quieter without being quiet. It was a deafening silence. A silence that screamed at you, mocked you. Mocked me. I couldn’t think anymore. I collapsed. Or he did.
He hadn’t touched me but once. That sweet self-consciously affectionate Moony kiss. But after I walked away into the shadows? No. Not really. He tried. Sort of. Touched my hair, my shoulder. Put his arm around me only to be knocked away. I could see myself doing it, but I couldn’t stop. But as Padfoot I was numb. Limp.
“So he comes at last,” my voice came out harsh and bitter.
“Sirius,” he dashed up, right up to the bars of what I’d come to think of as my cage. His hands gripped the cylindrical metal. “What’s going on, what’s happened?”
“The other shoe. Took a while, but hey! It finally dropped.”
“What? I don’t understand you, why are you locked up here? I had to read about James and Lily in the papers. Do you know they sent Harry to Petunia? And Peter—I—God Sirius, in the bloody papers!”
“Why then that’s good, you know exactly what’s going on and I don’t have to fucking repeat it like I have been for the last three weeks in court to someone who’s been off the map for Merlin knows how long!” I shouted. I didn’t even know why. I needed someone to shout at.
“I’ve been on assignment for Dumbledore,” he said quietly, as if apologizing. “I came as soon as I could.”
“Oh, well in that case.”
“They said you fired your lawyer. Why would you do that, Pads, they want to send you to Azkaban.”
“Merlin’s balls, is that all? Well, fuck, Azkaban! I can’t believe I warrant such special consideration. Of course it’s Azkaban Moony, where else would a murderer like me go! All this,” I gestured at the cell, “is OLD news. You are quite behind on the times.”
“I-I’m sorry. I’ve been trying to convince a Wargmoot in the north to change sides,” he reached his hand through the bars to grip my hand. “I’m so sorry. Tell me, Pads, what can I do? Tell me what to do, I’ll do anything—”
“Don’t call me that! I’m not your bloody Pads. Not anymore. I’m just some guy you fuck when you’re not out carousing with werewolves. Just GO. JUST FUCKING GO!”
Took him a long time. Three days before he understood. Or I did. Big Moony arms reaching right ‘round me. Lifting me from the ground where I lay in the door way; between light and dark. And there I was. Safe in the lap of Moony. Big Moony arms, reaching ‘round. Cradling. Stroking. Lips to my ear humming.
My lover has a beautiful voice. Did you know? I used to laugh at him. I don’t now. It’s too lovely to laugh at. And he won’t sing if I do. And I want him too. Beautiful songs.
When he held me I fell apart. I think that’s what I was waiting for. To finally have someone to hold on to the pieces so they wouldn’t be lost.
“I tried so hard, Moony! It was dark, but I tried. I tried so hard. But they were there. They were watching. They were always watching, Moony.” I felt agonizing sobs erupt out of me.
“Shhhh” he said, “Shhh darling,” and he ran fingers through my hair again. I thought how I must be, greasy and unwashed. Wasn’t sure how he could bear to touch me. I didn’t want to touch myself. But I couldn’t bear to get up, to move away from him. From the big arms ‘round me. He started to sing. I was suddenly silenced. In all those years, I’d forgotten how Moony can sing. Oh Moony.
“Well if you be the lass of Aughrim—” I knew he knew. Knew that I didn’t remember. That I’d forgotten something so vitally important. How could I? It was awful. Unforgivable.
“I tried so hard to remember. I kept thinking. Moony, I love Moony. But they came and it was dark. It was so dark,” my voice became a whimpering whisper. I heard myself without knowing what I was saying.
“It's ok,” he soothed. His hands cupped my cheeks, but I jerked away. He had to understand.
“But I failed! Your face, I couldn't remember your face! They died. I killed them and they died and I couldn't even remember your face!” I begged for his judgment even as I longed for forgiveness.
“Pads, Pads, it's ok. I know, it's ok.” He held me hard against his chest, “I remembered, Pads. Hush darling, I remembered for both of us.”
“I don’t know. I just don’t know,” I moaned into his shirt. “Why Moony, WHY? How did he—when we were so? He was OUR MATE!” I could feel his tears as the fell in my neck to mingle with my own.
“He’s a monster!” I screamed into his shoulder, “JAMES!” I cried, “JAMES!” I screamed until I had no breath. James, James. And what I meant was Me, me, me, me. And James. And Lily. And Harry. And you and me. And you. And all of us. Peter too. Why? Why? Why? How could you? I loved you so much. What did I do to hurt you so? I didn’t mean to. If you’d only told me I could have fixed it. You know I would have. Didn’t you? How could you not know? You were my friend. Oh god Peter, why? Why did you do it, I don’t understand. I just don’t understand. I miss you. I hate you and I miss you. I hate you. And I don’t hate you. I wish I could hate you because it hurts too much loving you. So much. I wish I could make it stop. I wish I could rip you into a million pieces. Fuck you Harry, you merciful bastard. Why did you have to be so like James. God I hate all of you. James for being so damn good all the time. And Lily for taking you away. And you Harry, yes you too. For being just like your bloody father and making me love you. And you Remus, for letting me go. For letting me go without a word. But most of all I hate myself. Because it all makes sense somehow that this would happen.
Moony was crying too. Weeping; as I wept. He was quiet about it, as he always is. And still sang. I tried to be quiet then. To just close my eyes and be quiet.
I think it was the rain that woke me—pitter pattering on the sand. Remus breath was warm on my neck as he curled around me protectively. I squeezed his hand softly, so as not to wake him. And just lay there. The air was cool, fresh—as it is with rain. And I shivered and drew the blankets up tighter around us. And then lay quiet. Just listening to the rain and the ocean.
I thought about everything. Everyone. I still felt my eyes prick at the thought of James and Peter. But I felt less—anguish, I suppose. I was worn out. Too tired now for real tears.
I felt Remus stir and try to dislodge his arm from under me.
“Move if you like,” I said softly, “I’m already awake.” he of course froze, and I could almost hear him press his lips together thoughtfully. I turned over on the makeshift bed, and looked at him. Really looked at him. I hadn’t done that in a while. Look him in the eye. He blinked, and almost looked away. That hurt.
“It’s alright, Moony,” I knew it was strange for me to be saying what he had said to me only hours before. I said it anyway.
“You’ve had me awfully worried Padfoot,” he said, leaning back on his elbow.
“I’ve been in a mad state, haven’t I?” I ran a hand over my face, feeling the scratch of my beard. “Sorry,” I said.
“You don’t have to be sorry,” he lay a hand on my shoulder. I could feel him waiting. Never one to crowd. No. Not my Moony. Always asking permission. Always waiting his turn.
I scooted closer to him, resting my head against his chest.
“Moony, my Moony,” I said, voice muffled.
“I missed you,” his voice was thick, and spoke with a palpable sigh. “I thought I was all alone, the only one left.”
“So did I,” I said.
“No, no,” he drew me up, clasping my face in his hands. “You’re not all alone.”
“No?” I looked in his eyes again. He seemed so stricken. So—
“No, never,” he pulled me to him and kissed me.
Remus had kissed me before. Countless times, although I remember each one. Once he kissed me awake—soft tickling butterfly kisses. And once he kissed me as an ice cold rain poured down on both our heads. He had kissed me with desire. And sweet, sweet longing. But I don’t think he had ever kissed me before, to block out despair. And make what was real, unreal.
He tasted of salt, which was probably tears. Although whether they were his or mine, I couldn’t say.
“You have to be with me, Pads. You have to let me have you back because if you go away again I—I don't know what I'll do,” he buried his face in my neck And I curled my arm around him, squeezing at his spine. He clutched at me.
“I promise,” I said.
We were something old made new, like the way some people sew blankets out of old clothes. Patchwork. It wasn’t shiny, like a new penny. But that was ok. It didn’t have to be. It was us. And that was enough. I got to touch the smooth belly of the man who loved me, and who I loved. And I got to taste him, so sweet. So Moony. And I got to make him sigh and moan. And I found that we still fit together. Like puzzle pieces or old shoes. And we both cried and we both laughed and we both said I love you. And it finally felt like it was really over and that we could, perhaps, start again.