Disclaimer: They're JK's. And there's a line from a poem by Carol Ann Duffy
in there too. See if you can spot it.
AN: I started writing this chapter a while before OotP was released, so I
had to make some major changes. The style is still rather strange. One or
two people have read the beginning and kept encouraging me with it at the
time, and I decided to revamp it and finish it off. I think I managed to
keep it going in the same direction.
Dedication: To Magentatata, because she hasn't had a mention in my fics yet
and she deserves one if only because she has great taste in music. (That
dog just don't give a feck, does it, dear?)
I walked into the room and crossed to the open window. A fresh breeze
greeted me, carrying the scent of vanilla and the black roses in the long
garden. What was I doing here? Was I mad? I was going to die, I was
convinced of it. There was no way Sirius Black would let me talk to him,
then walk away unharmed. Extremely dangerous, they said you were. Well, I
told myself, I'd like to see him try and kill a werewolf. Then I realised
you'd know exactly how to kill a werewolf, because I'd made you read all
those books about us years ago.
The room was large, one of the half-dozen or so dining rooms in the family
home. The house was un-lived in, but well maintained by your family's
servants who had all left the house by 10 pm. You knew that. That's why you
asked to meet at 11 O'clock. It was nearly that time now. I gazed about in
the dark at the long table, the drinks cabinet, the diamond chandeliers,
the expensive portraits of ancient Black family members. It was all exactly
as I remembered it. The whole house, the atmosphere it contained, the frame
of mind it put me in, made my spine tingle like it always had. *Almost*
like it always had. Before it had filled me with awe. Now I recognised the
emotion as pure fear. And you were late.
Various smells and sounds reached my senses which I hadn't experienced for
years. If I shut my eyes, I was a teenager again, a young boy in my best
friend's house, doing nothing but visiting you socially like we'd not spent
the last decade apart. Like nothing bad had ever happened. Like you hadn't
If I really let my mind wander, I could feel you again, your fingers
brushing idly against my face, your warm, familiar breath. I could see your
face; its every detail was printed in my memory as clear as day, but
inaccessible unless I really concentrated. My subconscious mind knew you
were dangerous. I'd nearly gotten over you. I needed maybe a year or so,
and I could have forgotten you were ever such a significant part of my
life. I could have moved on.
But it wouldn't be like you, would it, to allow me the chance to succeed?
Let me nearly get there, let me think I would reach my goal, but stop me
just before I got there. How many times did you put me to one side in
favour of somebody else just as I thought I'd succeeded with you? I lost
count. I bet you didn't. At the time I blamed myself, told myself I wasn't
good enough for you. I wish I'd never had to discover the truth.
Did I hate you? Of course. Despised you. Hated you more than I've ever
hated anything, more than *anyone* has hated anything. Hated what you
became and what you did to me. You were merciful to Lily and James Potter
and to Peter Pettigrew. You killed them before they knew the real you. They
only ever met the man I loved, never the man I loathe. Sometimes, when it's
cold and dark and I'm alone, I wish you'd killed me too. As long as I'd
never known it was you, I could have gone to my grave loving you. Why did
you spare me to this fate? Maybe tonight I'll find out.
Of course, my darling sweetheart bastard, I can't pretend to be perfect.
Maybe if you knew me, knew what I've become, you'd hate me too. Paranoid,
hateful, depressed. I didn't find love again. Maybe lust, a degree of
comfort, but after you left me like that I could never link the idea of
passion with the idea of compassion ever again. Of course I blame you for
that. Who else is there to blame?
I thought I would finally break away from you when I got the letter from
Dumbledore. You won't know this, but he wants me to work for him. Me, a
teacher! Who would have thought it? They'll have to keep my little problem
a secret, and Snape works there so he'll be a thorn in the side, but it'll
be a whole new start for me. Or I hoped it would. I sent my acceptance
letter off, smiled for the first time in ages. Then I got the card from
you. The soggy, torn scrap of an old Christmas card written on in green
coloured pencil. I recognised the handwriting immediately (I still have a
shoe box full of letters from you after all) and my heart sank. My past
came back to smack me in the face. When I think of you, Memory Lane becomes
a dark alley full of lurking figures and looming shadows. You're bad and
you're dangerous. Any sensible person would have screwed the card up and
dropped it in the bin, but I couldn't. You wanted to meet me. I couldn't
pass up this chance to find the answer to the one question I'd asked myself
over the years.
So here I was. And where were you? I opened my eyes again and looked
around. Nothing had moved. Nothing had changed. I folded my arms and
checked my watch. I'd give you fifteen minutes, then leave. Fourteen and a
half minutes later, I heard a sound outside the door of the room, and then
silence. But there had definitely been a noise. You were waiting.
". . . Sirius?" I croaked.
The door opened. Two bright silver eyes peered around it, framed by
straggly black hair. There was fear in those eyes, amongst other things.
Finally, you pushed the door wide and stood framed in the light of the
My jaw dropped. Surely this sorry creature was not my Sirius Black? Your
muscular figure had become gaunt and thin, your skin was pale, all trace of
your usual tan gone, and your hair was long and lank. I could see you had
made some effort to look presentable: you'd washed and shaved, but I could
tell these weren't things you were in the habit of doing any more. Your
shining eyes were the only remnants of the Sirius I had known. It brought
tears to my eyes, I won't pretend it didn't. I wanted the old Sirius back,
like a spoilt child who wouldn't let go of the idea of something it
"Remus, I . . ." Your voice was hesitant and fractured. You coughed
suddenly, a dry, racking cough which nearly doubled you over. Automatically
I rushed forward to support you, but you jumped away like a wild animal.
"Sorry," you muttered. I watched as you skirted round the room, looking
about at the familiar décor, but keeping me within your sights as if I were
the dangerous criminal.
"No one knows you're here?" you muttered.
"What do you take me for?" I snapped, annoyed. You laughed, and it turned
into another coughing fit. Once you recovered, you turned your gaze on me
"You don't change, Remus." You said. "You're just like the eleven-year-old
kid I met on the train all those years ago. Why don't you change?"
I caught myself growling and stopped. "You don't know me."
"See? You still try to fool yourself. Of course I know you. I know you
better than you do."
"Look, just tell me why you wanted this meeting!" I was getting impatient.
I was scared and wanted out of there. You were going to take your time
though. You were looking around at your house, the décor and the dust and
the darkness. I wondered why you'd come back here. Surely we could have
held this meeting in a dozen other places? You'd hated this house and your
family when we were together. You despised their anti-muggle, pro-Riddle
attitude so much you ran away and lived with James Potter's family. Was
this some sort of statement of your changed mind-set? You were a Black
again. Had you ever really been anything else? Had I fallen for some
elaborate farce when I believed you were ever against your family's values?
So many questions to ask you, so little time. I realised my fear had been
replaced for the most part by curiosity, an emotion which was deadly to
felines and canines alike. The wolf within me told me not to drop my guard.
I kept my eyes on you, never letting you walk behind me. You seemed to find
this amusing and stopped in front of a portrait of some long-dead Black
torturing a group of bound and gagged Muggles to smirk at me, all trace of
"Really, Moony, do you trust me so little?" you drawled.
"What do you think?" I growled.
"What's the wolf saying?"
"Keep away. Don't believe a word you say. Get the hell out of here."
"Smart wolf." The smirk was back. Then it suddenly vanished and you whirled
round, a stolen wand suddenly in your hands. Light shot from the wand tip,
and the portrait behind you erupted into flame. I flung an arm over my face
as smoke filled the room. The heat was intense for a moment, then the fire
burned out without spreading to the surrounding architecture. The smoke
didn't entirely clear, and you coughed violently again. I flung open a
window, used a spell to help clear the air. The remains of the muggle
torture portrait dropped from the wall and smouldered on the floor near
your feet. I looked from it to you. There was something in your eyes, some
spark I hadn't seen for twelve years, and I was compelled to offer you some
support. You leaned against me, trying to regain your breath. The wolf
snarled at the instant we touched, then fell silent almost as suddenly. I
ignored it for now. You were still another human being and I could see you
hadn't been in the best of health recently.
"I . . . HATE . . . this fucking house!" you growled, slumping to the floor
beside the charcoal blackened rag of the portrait. "Is that damned house
elf still here?"
"Haven't seen him," I said shortly, crouching a short distance away from
"Idiotic little bastard," you growled, and for a moment I was unsure
whether you meant me or the elf.
"Why did you want to meet here?" I asked after a while of silence.
"Don't know. So I could burn a few portraits? Maybe I just like torturing
myself. Who cares? It's just a place."
"So what do you have to say to me?"
You wiped your nose on your sleeve. "I didn't do it."
"I didn't do it. Any of it."
I stared at you incredulously. How could you say that so flippantly?
Everyone knew that you were a murderer. There was proof. . .Lots of proof.
. . somewhere.
"Of course," you continued in the same conversational tone, "I can't expect
you to believe me. It just needed saying. I didn't do it. Someone else
betrayed Lily and James."
"Oh, and someone else killed Peter Pettigrew? And all those other innocent
people?" I couldn't restrain the anger in my voice, no matter how calm I
wanted to sound.
"Something like that." You swept your hair back and held it behind your
head. "Got a bit of string?"
You stood up. I flinched away from you, but surprisingly the wolf was calm.
This made me even more nervous. Was my own alter-ego turning against me? I
watched you tear a piece of canvas from another painting and clumsily bind
your hair with it. I caught a glimpse of the Sirius I had known in that
action, and mentally slapped myself when I felt a bout of sympathy towards
you. I found my memory slipping back to that last night we'd spent
together, twelve years ago. I'd let you leave our house. I could have
stopped you but didn't. I'd needed to know you loved me, sought your
confirmation, then when it was over I released you to carry out your
horrendous tasks. . .
"Moony?" You were staring at me, trying to snap me out of my reverie. I
blinked once. You offered me a small smile which I forced myself not to
return. I still wanted those answers. I'd wondered before hand whether I'd
want to hit you when I saw you, but the urge never once gripped me. I just
wanted to talk.
"Tell me a few things," I said. "Firstly, why?"
"Why betray James and Lily?"
"I told you, I didn't. Is it my fault if you don't believe me?"
"Of course it is!" I snarled.
You shrugged. "I'll give you the facts if you want, it's up to you what you
do with them."
I shook my head. "You're mad, Sirius."
"Nope. I'm a lot of things, but mad isn't one of them." A strange look
passed over your face. "I didn't ask you here to convince you of my
innocence. It wouldn't work anyway. You wouldn't believe me. I couldn't ask
you too, not on just my word. Maybe one day there'll be proof, but for now
I'm an escaped criminal. Guilty until proven innocent if you like. I didn't
get a trial, you know." You stared at me evenly. The more you spoke, the
more I thought I recognised you again. 'This is exactly what Sirius would
say', I thought. You continued. "I think you know why I'm here though. Why
"No." I shook my head. "I couldn't guess."
You moved closer to me and I stood my ground. "Why should I want to meet
you, Moony? You and no one else? Why won't you go running to the nearest
Auror as soon as you leave tonight? Why do you feel such hatred towards me,
yet can't even be unpleasant to me?"
I blinked stupidly, unwilling to answer.
"Love, Moony," you muttered. "Whether I did everything you think I did or
not, whether I'm a murderer or a victim, we had something once and I still
feel for you. You still feel for me too."
I tried to find my voice. "No, I don't."
"Don't you *ever* listen to what the wolf has to say?" you demanded. "Of
course you have feelings for me. You're only human, Remus, and a human with
no feelings but utmost loathing towards another will harm them, maybe kill
them. Why don't you try and hurt me, Remus? I killed James, didn't I? And
Peter? Aren't you going to avenge them?" You moved closer still. "Listen to
that wolf in you. What's it saying to you?"
I closed my eyes. I didn't trust you, but the Wolf was now vying for my
attention. I opened my mind to my animal instincts. What was the wolf
thinking? But of course. Here was my mate, my life-partner. He'd been gone
for 12 years, but wolves don't forget easily. I could sense for a moment
what the Wolf wanted. Nothing mattered except the return of its mate. Who
cares that a few people died? Who cares that there'd been a major security
breech? The being its life - my life - had revolved around was back. Maybe
things could carry on as they had before? I struggled to disconnect myself
from the wolf, find my real emotions, my true feelings. It was difficult,
the creature was part of me. But I knew who I was and I opened my eyes.
I had pressed my lips against yours while the wolf controlled my mind. We
stared into each other's eyes for a long time, just standing there. So what
if you were a killer? You were my mate. I had chosen you. Ok, maybe it had
been the wrong choice, but it was far, far too late to change my mind. I
could feel your pulse, hear your heart pounding. You didn't know what to
do. And I knew one thing instantly: you were telling the truth. Oh, I
didn't think you were innocent, not then, but I knew you still loved me.
Maybe that's the only reason why I deepened the kiss. Maybe it was more
because I hadn't been loved for so long, hadn't felt that feeling in
return, that I couldn't bare the idea of not taking advantage of it. Maybe
I pitied you. I can't remember, the wolf was back, taking over half of me,
leaving only half of my body to myself. It took half my senses, half my
mind, made me lean into you, moan at your touch. It was a strange kiss.
You'd forgotten how to do it. I tried to remind the wolf of the haggard,
beaten, shabby appearance you had now, but it didn't care. It loved you for
your soul, and although I didn't understand the feeling, I could do little
but give in to it.
I don't know what time I left. It doesn't really matter. I feel very little
about it. I don't know whether to continue believing you committed the
crimes you were convicted of. I should feel soiled, dirty, ashamed of
becoming so close again to the traitor, the murderer, but I don't. I just
feel lonely again. I realise how alone I've been, how pathetic I must seem.
Have you heard what the Daily Prophet calls me when it reports on our
story? "Black's tragic Lover." That's me. I've been labelled over and over
again. "Beloved of the traitor." "Grief-Stricken friend of the Potters."
"Black's Wretched Werewolf Lover." That's who I am now, dearest. I have no
name of my own any more. Maybe I don't deserve one. But you have one, and
yours is Black. Blacker than a moonless midnight, as Black as your
loathsome parents, but not quite black of heart.
I know we'll meet again. You can't keep away, can you? Until then, my
forbidden love, I keep an open mind.