The house is deserted.
If anyone has been using the place as a hide-out, they've either Vanished all traces or they're long gone. The dust is twinkling in the few rays of light coming through the faded curtains. Remus is sifting through some old, wrinkled back-editions of the Daily Prophet.
"We're not going to find anything useful here, Pads."
Sirius picks up an old Firewhiskey bottle, checking for spare drops. "Apparently not."
"Well, it's not the first time we've gotten bad leads."
"I just don't get it. They were dead sure this place was hot."
Remus sighs, sitting down on the battered sofa. "I don't mind, really." He rests his elbows on his knees and drops his face into his hands.
"Only one more day, Remus."
"Yeah," he says with eyes closed. "I hate to think what it'll be like ten years from now. I hardly got this tired before."
"Or grumpy," Remus retorts like a whip. A scowling whip. Apparently, Death Eater hide-outs, faux or not, aren't the place for quips.
"Sexually frustrated, you mean?"
Remus leans back with his impossible-to-copy-brand of smile, winding secrets and cheek together in a tentative upwards turn. Always to the right. Always comforting.
"Well, if it's making you grumpy, we can scratch that itch pronto. No one's expecting us for an hour."
"I don't fancy Death Eaters Apparating in for a free show, thank you very much."
"Come on, this place hasn't been used for months. If at all. It kinda reminds me of the Shack."
"I'll give you points for picking the least enticing argument you could have."
Sirius moves over to the sofa and leans in for a kiss, but only receives a flat palm to the mouth.
"No, Sirius, I mean it. Not here. Safety in the familiar, okay?"
"Merlin, don't turn us into Lily and James."
"They'd both hex you for saying that."
"Because it's true."
"Life's not a dirty novel. Some people grow up."
"Says the eternal eighty year old."
"Well, then you've got an old people fetish."
Sirius laughs and steals a kiss anyway. "And I want some wrinkly fun right now," he says, sneaking a hand down Remus' chest.
"I'll do all the work."
"I...It's hard enough at home. Being in control."
Remus fixes him with a stare.
"You won't hurt me, Remus."
Sirius takes a seat in a wobbly chair, holding up his arms in defeat. Looking like he surrenders reluctantly, petulantly even, trying to make light of the silence.
Remus has always been susceptible to the Wolf in the days leading up to the full moon, and the days following, an edge that marks each month. At Hogwarts, it meant a less Remusy Remus in terms of pranks, parties and curfews. After seventh year, Sirius learned that the list was in need of some exciting additions. Additions no one else but him knew about. He felt privy to the world's best-kept secret, wrapped in wool layers and self-deprecating humour.
But lately, the edge has gotten sharper and sharper.
In result, Remus has gotten better at hiding it, beneath further layers of tense muscles and feigned ease, almost to the point where James, Lily and Peter don't even notice that the full moon is coming up any more.
They aren't the ones in a relationship with Remus.
When he's too tired to remain in control, Remus blacks out. He isn't present. After, when he's back again, Sirius dons a smile, keeping mum about details. He figures this is what war does. It makes you scared and angry, and it spills into the Wolf. Which, if you ask Sirius, is basically a repository for Remus' unconscious feelings. In turn, the Wolf spills out when Remus lets his guard down. It's logical. Unavoidable. And there's no use harping on about it. None of them grew up thinking life was all Sunday Roasts and Pancake Tuesdays.
Unlike one Mr. James Potter and Ms. Lily Evans, sorry Mrs. Lily Potter, Sirius and Remus didn't worry about pimples or whether they'd get exactly what they wanted for their birthdays. Sirius snorts internally, remembering some of his own pre-Hogwarts birthdays. That understanding, that connection between him and Remus has always been precious to him. They've never needed to talk it to death, so Sirius doesn't dwell on it now either, because nothing good can come of that.
Knowing he can't stay silent for long lest Remus get suspicious, he gets up from the chair, clapping his hands together. "Fine. Safety in the familiar. We'll go home. There's no point wasting time here, is there?" Sirius raises his eyebrows invitingly.
Remus smiles and shakes his head, but he's already got darker eyes, the Wolf making its way to the surface in anticipation. Sirius shudders from his own.
"We should do a thorough search and then stop by Headquarters for a debrief."
"We'll give them the details after. Besides, I don't want to wait till after you've healed up again. It's too long. Come on, Moony, we've a whole hour…"
"I don't think I'll last an hour."
"Even better. We'll have plenty of time to touch in at HQ after a much needed quicky." Sirius reaches for him. "Side-along, straight into bed?"
Remus squeezes their hands together in a warm grip.
"I try my best."
Sirius links arms with him. He closes his eyes and focuses on their bedroom and a very naked Remus. But just as he expects the tug behind his navel, the familiar feeling of being squeezed in on himself, absolutely nothing happens. Instead, a chill seeps into his skin. "There's anti-Apparition wards on this place," Sirius says, feeling stupider by the second.
After a quick pause in which Remus tries to Apparate himself, he pulls out his wand and glances around the room, Remus' muttered fuck sending shivers down his spine. And then, everything goes black.
Sirius wakes up alone to silence and darkness.
He looks around, tries to move, but is held in place by strong magical bonds. In the same bloody chair he sat down in only moments before. Sirius curses himself. The place had been too bare, too innocent-looking, and like two rooks they'd let themselves be lulled into false complacency. Through the surge of panic, self-consciousness cuts through. Has anyone been listening in on their conversation?
His shout carries like a Sonorus spell in the quiet room, and as if summoned, Sirius hears footsteps in the stairwell. Someone's moving from the first floor towards him, but it can't be Remus. The steps are measured and slow. Leisurely even. Sirius draws a deep breath, and prepares himself to stare into a silver mask.
It's more unsettling to take in an uncovered face, brown slanted eyes and a friendly smile.
"Awake at last" the man chirps, coming closer. "I hope you feel refreshed?"
"I never say no to a nap."
The man laughs.
"My friend?" Sirius asks.
"He's not as refreshed I'm afraid."
Relief and terror flow through him simultaneously. "If you've hurt him." Sirius cautions as the man's smile widens.
"Have you ever found that threats never seem as threatening coming from a bound captive?"
"I've learned not to underestimate my opponent, actually."
"Just get to the point," Sirius bites out, nerves winning out.
The man takes a step back, tilting his head to the side.
"Okay, Mr. Black. I will." He slides his wand out of the sleeve of his robes. Points it at the ceiling and sets off three light Stunning spells. The impacts hit the wood with soft thumps, immediately followed by scuffling above. "I've actually got some very specific questions I want answered tonight, you see."
Trying to keep a calm demeanour while panicking inside, Sirius breathes through his nose in measured inhales and exhales. "You won't get a thing out of me."
This is exactly what he's been dreading ever since they were recruited by the Order. Suddenly, it's not Remus he's worried about. It's his own capacity for dealing with physical pain. His parents' punishments only made him all the more anxious about it. Give him a clean Avada Kedavra any day. Relax, Black. Maybe it's already been an hour. Which means that since they haven't been in touch, someone is looking for them. James and Peter are looking for them. You just have to hold on until they find you.
Three men appear in the room. Two brutes in masks, and Remus. He can hardly stay upright. They push him to the floor, but before Sirius can voice his anger, the first man is up in his face, with a sickeningly sweet breath.
"Seeing as you're both experts on hideouts, this should be simple enough. I want the meeting locations for the Order of the Phoenix, and detailed instructions on how to get in."
Sirius stares at him, jaw clenched and chest constricting.
"Never underestimate your opponent, remember?" the man says. He points his wand at Remus. "Guess we'll go again boy. Crucio!"
Remus writhes. Twitches. Bends at impossible angles. Sirius is fighting with him, trying to compose himself. He can feel cold sweat on his own back as it trickles down Remus' temples. It takes up to half a minute before Remus screams, and when he does, it takes all of Sirius' will power not to scream as well. But he can't give up this information. Just as he knows Remus wouldn't do for him. They've promised, sworn. Not simply to the Order, but to themselves. They're not going to give anyone an advantage because they have a weakness in each other. Besides, it's not even about promises, it's as simple as Alice and Lily with swollen bellies, sprawled on the floor. Sirius swallows and reminds himself that Remus is strong.
Finally, the man raises his wand, and muffled grunts tear at Sirius' resolve. Remus folds in on himself, but he's neither crying nor begging. Sirius is proud. It's motivation enough.
"The locations," the man asks again. He might as well be asking for the salt shaker.
Sirius grins back, flexes in his seat and manages to bend the bonds enough to push his chair forward with a jerk. The man takes a hurried step back.
"Boo," Sirius whispers.
"I keep getting the feeling you think this is a competition of strength, boy. It's not. It's about weakness."
He moves over to Remus and orders the two others two to get him on his knees.
"I've got to admit, I don't really see the allure." He drags his finger down Remus' cheek, scratching along stubble. "I mean, with all the attractive women out there. Tsk, Pads, you must have some secret self-doubts."
The brutes snicker and Sirius fights back mortification from his cheeks. They heard everything. "I'll only ask nicely one more time."
Sirius glares back with as much derision and arrogance his pure blood can muster.
"Fine," the man says.
He points his wand at Remus again. Sirius braces himself for more screaming, but the curse he expects doesn't come, instead he hears a calm Imperio.
Remus' eyes go blank and his face smoothes into a neutral expression. The man turns to Sirius and leans uncomfortably close again.
"You chose this," he whispers.
Sirius lunges his neck forward, it's enough to cross the distance between them, enough to sink his teeth into the other man's cheek. The others swiftly drag him out of Sirius' reach, but not quick enough to prevent the bleeding wound. Sirius hears Padfoot yip.
"Savage!" the man holds a palm to his face, using his other hand to cast a Healing spell. He then turns to Remus, chest heaving. "Take off your clothes."
Sirius stares in disbelief as Remus undresses.
"Well, that's interesting," the man says, pointing at Remus' scarred body. "Obviously you have some secret fetishes, as well. I guess Blacks are Blacks no matter what side they're fighting on."
He doesn't give Sirius so much as a sideways glance, just keeps staring at Remus in a way that makes Sirius' stomach tighten. "Touch yourself. Make yourself hard."
"You're sick," Sirius breathes out.
"You better not miss the show, Black."
Sirius couldn't look away even if he wanted to. He's frozen in an improbability.
Remus grasps himself but nothing happens. Eventually, the man points the wand at Remus' groin.
"Let's help him along shall we. I know a few handy charms."
The spell is silent, but there's no mistaking when it hits Remus. His Imperiused body bends at the middle and he starts moaning in ways that Sirius recognizes instantly. And it hurts. It hurts surprisingly much to have his treasured secrets bounced off the walls in this grimy, disgusting house.
"Stop it!" Sirius screams, fighting furiously to free himself.
His protests go ignored, and the man smiles when he sees Remus harden.
One more charm and Remus falls to the floor, gasping. Sirius tries to ignore the sounds, the sight of him, his Remus on the floor.
The man smirks, and lifts the charm and the Imperius at the same time. Remus blinks confused before he blushes, covering his face and crotch by curling up into a ball, a position that does nothing to protect him when he is hit with another Cruciatus.
No sound is made for an excruciatingly long time, but when Remus' voice does raise itself, it bursts out in roars. Sirius does not feel pride anymore, he feels ripped apart.
"I'll kill you, you bastard!" Again Sirius is ignored.
When he finally lifts the Cruciatus with a casual swipe, another Imperius is cast instantly.
"Sit down in the sofa."
Sirius fights harder as Remus drops his unresisting weight on the cushions. The man casts the same spell that is currently holding Sirius in place, and thick, invisible ropes knot around Remus' body. Though why he bothers, Sirius doesn't understand. The pain has rendered Remus helpless against the Imperius curse. Even with a wand in hand he wouldn't pose a threat.
The man undoes his own trousers.
Sweat is beading down Sirius' forehead as he fights the magic, but it only constricts tighter.
"There's a first time for everything." The man laughs and places himself in front of Remus' mouth. He whispers another command and pushes forward.
Sirius can do nothing but watch.
He whips around to the men beside him, hoping their rigid postures signal at least some disagreement with this insanity. Death Eaters or not, they're human, aren't they?
"Is this what you signed up for? Are you guys enjoying this?"
The one to the right punches him square in the jaw, and straightens immediately back to his statuesque position. Sirius reels from the blow. He hears the next words as if they're coming through a muffling charm.
"Not too bad" the man nods, "can't really tell it's a man if I close my eyes."
"I swear. You just wait..." Sirius whispers, but the threat loses any of its menace as he coughs on his own blood. Minutes later, when the man's emptied himself, he lifts the Imperius. Remus instantly gags and spits.
"Remus?" Sirius asks timidly, not really expecting an answer, just needing to say something. I'm here. I'm here.
Remus' breathing is ragged as his eyes dart around, the weight of what just happened hitting him with every breath. Out of the two of them, they couldn't have chosen a worse candidate for this treatment. Or maybe, they couldn't have chosen better. Remus must be feeling actual physical pain from being forced into submission like this. His veins on fire, ordering him to assert himself. When he finally shakes off the remnants of the Imperius, Remus' eyes go pitch black with rage and Wolf. He struggles against the bonds to absolutely nothing but the amusement of their captors.
He's laughing the ignorant fuck. He doesn't expect it.
But Sirius is.
The growl erupting from Remus' throat as he breaks himself free, unsettles every person in the room. Remus is on the unmasked man before he can point his wand in the right direction, and Remus beats him unconscious with the one punch he manages to throw, before the others hit him with simultaneous CRUCIOS.
"No! No please!" Sirius begs, but all he gets in return is a Crucio himself.
And then everything is black again.
When Sirius open his eyes for the second time, he is undressed from the waist down. Remus, still naked and unconscious, has been tied to a chair next to him with fortifying blue-glowing magic. Apparently, they're not underestimating him anymore. Sirius' stomach clenches. Looking down at his crotch, he's surprised to find himself willing to beg for the Cruciatus.
"Well, well, you have been holding out," that same hateful voice says behind him. "Not only is Sirius Black a faggot, he's also fucking a filthy werewolf." The man walks in front of him, tapping his wand against the palm of his hand.
"I knew you were a blood-traitor, but letting your cock inside a disgusting, half-breed, animal like that," he points at Remus with revulsion, "the fact that I did, is going to have severe consequences for the both of you."
Sirius writhes in his seat, trying to appear more confident than he is.
"But," the man continues, "the pressing issue here, is, do you enjoy sleeping with him, Sirius?" He says his name with slick and slow s's.
Shut up you fucking shit, is what Sirius thinks, but his mouth opens on its own, and he hears himself reply in an even voice. "Yes."
Sirius is shaking. They've slipped him something while he was out. He vows silently to never hassle Moody again for his paranoid safety regime, which have them all taking a number of blocking potions before each mission, anti-Veritaserum being the first one on the list. He's repeatedly given the man grief about it, complained of the tediousness, like a stupid, willful brat. But then he's never believed that he'd be tied up like this, like someone's plaything.
He'd just answered the psychopath's question, it must be some sort of truth serum. He just hopes he won't answer so readily to any questions about the Order. His panic must be showing because the man grins as if he's received a ten thousand galleon reward.
"To make you understand how – upset," he pauses and swallows, "you and that thing have made me, I'm not even going to ask about the Order yet. I don't care at the moment. It can wait. All I care about is breaking you both. Then, when I won't even need to ask you, I'll let you both give up all your precious mudblood and blood-traitor friends."
Sirius breathes heavily, hoping that everyone at the Order are on full alert, that they know something has happened to them, and that they're taking the necessary precautions. He thinks about Lily and Alice again. Swallows nervously, giving the other man what he wants. Panic. Fear. Power.
"Let's wake the animal. Crucio."
Remus bursts awake gasping, but luckily the man lifts the curse as soon as he opens his eyes. Remus! Sirius wants to plead. Remus? But he doesn't know what he wants to ask. He can't ask if he's okay, that would be ridiculous. And he doesn't want to give their captors the satisfaction. He stays mute and settles for saying everything with his eyes. Remus nods meekly back. It's confirmation enough. Remus can take more. He can still fight this, which means, Sirius has to too.
"Ah look. They love each other, boys." The man turns around to the other two, laughing at his own joke. "As if you're even capable of it, half-breed. I'll be surprised if your kind even have souls."
None of them speak. Sirius knows Remus can take this type of goading for hours and hours, but he can barely cope with seconds of it. The way they all look at Remus as if he's vermin is already wearing at his resolve.
"I promise to you both," the man continues, "that by the time we're finished here, whatever love you feel for the other is going to be ruined."
"Oh, we've got ourselves a sceptic." He sneers, spraying spit with his words. "Come on, boy, don't be a fool. I am a skilled Legillimens and despite those nifty occlumency fail-safes regarding the Order, it was hardly a challenge to go treasure hunting for other secrets. I already have what I need."
Sirius' heart is hammering with bruising force.
"This," the man holds up a small, green bottle, "is a specialty of mine. A modified love potion in essence, but much more fun. It's brewed especially to keep you honest in front of your beloved. You wouldn't believe how handy it is in interrogations. People are under the delusion that love makes you stronger. When in reality it is the biggest weakness you can possess."
Sirius glances at Remus, nervous about what his unconscious mind may have given up. He remembers his thoughts from earlier in the day and can't help but blush. Not that. Please. He's spent too many years trying to convince Remus not to hate himself. Not to listen to ignorant fucks like these. But from the look on the bastard's face he knows he should be worried. And why the fuck do they have to be naked for this?
"Black's not so vocal anymore."
Sirius doesn't answer.
"I know the potion doesn't allow you to speak unless directly asked a question, but I suspect it's also because you've figured out my strategy here." The man turns to look at Remus. "You haven't, I can tell. You're completely oblivious. I'm not surprised, a path -"
The man's speech is abruptly cut short as Remus snarls and lunges his body forward bonds and all, not enough to do any damage, but obviously enough to give them all a fright, make them lose face for a delicious instant.
This time Remus does not scream. He's twisting, gasping, convulsing, yes. But for three whole minutes he does not scream.
The man lifts the spell, panting and sweating.
"Well, well. Your dog's got stamina. I gotta say I appreciate the allure more and more. Sex with a creature like that...I guess the Imperius tames that impressive focus of his." He stares at Sirius. "Takes the, edge, away, one might say."
Sirius knows what's coming now. The man's going to use him to get to Remus. He's changed tactics and it's going to work, all because of Sirius' stupid thoughts. Thoughts that have never mattered enough to be voiced out loud, and that matter a whole fucking lot more now, exactly because they've never been. Sirius focuses on a spot on the floor as the man kneels beside him and speaks in a silky voice.
"Is it true that you don't always think of him as a man, Sirius?"
Sirius glances at Remus, fighting a losing battle against the treacherous poison squirming inside. He tries to communicate with his eyes again. Scream through his eyeballs that Remus mustn't take any of the things he says from now on to heart. No truth serum is flawless, he'll give answers completely out of context, without the layered and complex weave of his emotions. It's like snatching words out of sentences and trying to deduce the meaning of the conversation, and he needs Remus to know this, to bear it in mind, because it will be too easy to manipulate Remus like this. This is Remus' blind spot. His weakness. The chink in the otherwise near impenetrable armour. But he isn't saying any of these things of course, he can't, that's not what he's been asked. Sirius trembles when his voice echoes around the room.
He can hear Remus exhale as if he's been punched in the gut, and it cuts Sirius more than any of the agonized screams from before. The man who just resisted the Cruciatus for longer than Sirius thought possible, is letting out that deflated sound, because only the very worst and fleeting bits of Sirius' thoughts are being pulled out of him by a madman, and Remus believes it instantly. And it's not fair. And Sirius wants to cry. But he knows he's not going to. He'll have to explain later. If Remus will let him. If there is a later. You are not a monster. He is. They are. Or possibly I am. Just not you Remus, not you.
"When do these thoughts occur, Sirius?"
"During sex." The words propel from his mouth, and Sirius whines.
He's making it sound like it's more often than it is. And it's not like; "Fuck, Remus is inhuman", it's more like "I can tell you are a werewolf right now, without the moon, I can tell because you're consuming me like no one else has, and it consumes you as well, and it scares me and it excites me, and I love you like no one else has.
But Sirius doesn't tell Remus this. Can't. Because he hasn't been asked. And again he thinks, later, there has to be a later.
Still, he knows in his heart, even if he'd only thought inhuman once, one fucking time, for one fucking second, it's still enough. No matter all his explanations. It is enough for Remus to sit silently beside him now, and number all the other things he thinks Sirius has lied about, number them and add them to the too-many reasons why Remus hates Lycanthropy and himself.
Sirius will be damned before he starts pleading with Remus in front of these men, sharing his and their most intimate issues with scum like this.
He will explain in privacy. He will make Remus listen. There will be a later.
"Exactly what in these encounters, makes you see Remus as the creature he is?"
His mind is screaming NO! NO! But all he does is answer the question tonelessly.
"When he hurts me." He cringes, and he hates himself even more for it.
Remus looks at him with shock, and Sirius knows that if Remus were to be hit by a Cruciatus now, he would scream himself hoarse. He would scream within the first second. Sirius shakes his head at him, tries to console, take away the bluntness of the words.
"Oh, Sirius. Are you trying to make him doubt what you're saying under the influence of a truth potion? Are you really that obtuse? This potion only works if the questions are regarding someone you love, and are answered in the vicinity of said person."
The man smiles and licks his lips, turning his head to Remus.
"You know, I've never given bestiality much thought before. Always found it. Ah. Unappealing."
Remus looks up at him. Teeth clenched.
"But after a little stroll in both of your heads, I gotta say, I find the mechanics of it fascinating. Alpha?" The man laughs loudly. "You really are just an animal, aren't you?"
He points at Sirius.
"And the HOUSE OF BLACK, is your little bitch. Blood-traitor or not, you're not fit to drink from Mr. Black's piss."
Remus closes his eyes as the man stares them both down.
"You. Are. Less. Than. Us."
Since the potion won't allow him anything else, Sirius screams.
"You're defending him? After what he's done to you? Do you enjoy being the bitch that much?"
Sirius spits. The man smiles, and turns to Remus.
"When I say bitch, I mean, bottom. Did I get the word right, dog?"
The three men snicker.
Sirius knows he shouldn't let it affect him, but in front of their leering audience he can feel his masculinity shrink within him, he can't own it in the way he should. He wants to stare back at them and show no shame. But he can hear that tiny little voice in his ear, and he knows what the next question is going to be. He knows it's going to be directed at him.
He's not mistaken.
"Do you resent that he'll never want to switch roles, Sirius?"
"I know. I saw it quite vividly before, when I was delving through your mind. You have strong emotions. That always makes for tasty, rich memories."
He smacks his lips.
"Would you like to show him what it felt like during one of the worst –ah - episodes? Let's give Remus a demonstration of his more, how to put it, domineering alpha side, shall we?"
"But that is, in my opinion, just what the two of you need. A chance to fully appreciate the other's perspective. Communication is the key to all good relationships, you know. All it will take is a simple, Imperio."
Sirius is struggling in his seat again, the bonds are digging into his skin and he's screaming in anger if not from fear.
"Quiet down. Or I'll give the werewolf another round of pain. This time I won't stop until he cries. Sobs at my feet. And then we'll still carry on."
Remus hangs his head, dejectedly. No battle left in him. Merlin, he was tired before any of this even started. He was exhausted, and now they're stuck in a nightmare. Sirius calms himself but his breathing is laboured and loud like he's never heard it before.
"You're going to drink this," he holds up a small vial and directs his words at Remus, "a potion to drain your strength. If you don't drink, I'll give Black the Cruciatus treatment I've bestowed on you. I doubt he can handle it the way you have, he's only a human being after all."
His eyes are boring into Remus. Then he addresses Sirius.
"And then when the dog's all pliable, I'm going to force him to the floor. Weak and powerless," the last like a promise, "which I assume will be quite difficult for the creature to deal with."
Remus' breathing is becoming louder and louder too. Sirius wants to turn to him. Tell him not to be afraid, Sirius is going to withstand, he's going to resist.
Out of all the Unforgivables, Sirius has always had the least respect for the Imperius curse. It didn't seem as unbearable as the Cruciatus, as finite as the Avada Kadavra. What a fucking idiot.
"I think you'll appreciate the memory I've chosen for you to act out Sirius. Remus looked every bit the animal he is in that one. I don't even think he knew what he was doing at the time. He certainly didn't seem to heed your screaming."
He scans Remus' reaction.
"And judging by the look on his face, right now, I doubt you've ever told him exactly how crudely he treated you."
Sirius finds within himself the power to defy the potion. And he uses it to piss on his self-respect.
"Please. PLEASE. No. Not that. Please. Don't. Please."
The last thing Sirius remembers is the word, Imperio.
"Sirius? Sirius. Shit. Please. Sirius? Wake up!"
Sirius believes he can hear James' voice. But it can't be. He's trapped in a sick dream.
"Sirius? It's us. You're safe."
"Sirius, can you hear me?"
"Lily? James?" His voice is a gravelly sound, his throat feels dry as if he's been screaming for hours. But he can't remember if he has. He can't remember anything after the curse was cast. And then it all hits him. He jerks up and looks frantically around.
"He's right here," Lily says and points to Remus, sitting balled up in a corner. Not looking at Sirius.
"It's okay, Pads," he says in a broken voice, "I'm -" But he doesn't say what he is. Still, Sirius feels relieved. Remus said Pads. Surely that must be a good sign.
Later. Yes. Later came.
Sirius nods grimly and looks at James and Lily for the first time. He wants to be grateful to see them, he is of course, but a part of him resents the fact that they came too late. Fucking hates them for it, if he's honest.
"What happened? Where are the Death Eaters?" he asks.
"It was empty when we finally got in. No traces of them."
James steadies him with a hand to his back as Sirius sits up. He winces as his boxers chafe at raw skin. Clothes?
He looks down, grateful for having been spared the humility of being found naked by their friends. He wants to let out a sob, but quickly stops himself. Remembering that he's not the one who's allowed to cry right now. That he's supposed to be a man and not a pathetic five year old. No use harping on about it, right, Black?
He looks over at Remus again, assesses the way he's sitting, not that he needs to, because Remus reveals everything as he stands up gingerly. His walk is awkward and his legs look stiff, and he's got traces of dried blood on his throat.
James looks from Remus to Sirius with a devastated look on his face, Sirius doesn't think he can have any idea of what actually transpired, but he looks away in shame anyway. He doesn't know exactly himself, of course. Only Remus has the full details of the night's events.
"We tried to contact you as soon as the hour was up, and when we couldn't send a Patronus to the cabin we knew there were wards set up. We've been trying to get passed them ever since, but they were too strong. By the time we got through I found you both unconscious. They must have left when they realized someone was outside."
"Never mind that. Did you tell them anything?"
Moody's unmistakable growl makes Sirius jump. He thought it was just the four of them there. Sirius swallows hard. If he's talked he doesn't remember. But what with the Imperius and the potion, has he divulged Order secrets as well as his own?
"I'm not sure. I mean they slipped us a truth serum, but I was pretty out of it, I –"
He looks at Remus for help, thankfully he shakes his head in reply.
"We didn't say anything," Remus says hoarsely. "They left suddenly, while interrogating us. Like James said, it seemed like they suddenly caught on to magical interference coming from outside their wards. They didn't stick around after, to ask about the Order."
Moody nods, apparently content.
"I'll get back to Headquarters and inform everyone of the situation. You two," he points at James and Lily, "get them to St. Mungos and have them checked out. Then take them home. Stop by for debrief when you're feeling up for it, I need the details. Soon."
And with that he Disapparates.
"I'm not going to St. Mungos," Sirius says in a voice that barters no disagreement. "I'm fine. Nothing I can't fix myself." Nothing I want anyone else to fix.
James, surprisingly, nods without argument and gives Lily a quelling look when she obviously wants to protest. He then looks over at Remus.
"What about you?"
"No. No, I want to go home too." Remus says. "It's the full moon tomorrow night and I just need to sleep."
Sirius shuts his eyes. Trapping another sob in his throat.
I don't have the energy for a full moon so soon. And if I feel that way, how does Remus feel?
He's the one who has to go through a bloody transformation. He needs Padfoot. If he'll even let him near him after what happened here. If it happened, Sirius thinks hopefully, but is hit with reality as, again, fabric rubs at hyper sensitive skin.
"Remus. Shit. I- "
"You don't need to be with me tomorrow night."
"Of course I will. I have to."
"I mean it Sirius. You don't need to."
"Peter and I'll be there," James cuts in, "Sirius, it's fine, you need to rest up."
"FUCK," Sirius yells, "like the moon is gonna let Remus, you mean?!"
He walks towards Remus, even though every bone in his body grates against themselves. He reaches his hand out. It's like being slapped, when Remus growls. Cowers further against the wall. Away from him. Upon hearing his own sounds Remus claps his hands over his mouth. Tugs on his hair. Hides his head between his legs.
"Remus don't. It's okay." Don't think you growled because you're an animal. You're none of the things you think I've secretly thought. "Just please let me…"
He tries to take another small step towards him, but Remus darts away again, moaning in pain as he does.
"Don't Sirius. I just. I need some space. I want to go home. Alone."
"What happened here?"
Lily's voice is barely a whisper, but they all hear her.
Sirius turns and sees James shaking his head at her, before addressing Sirius and Remus.
"I'll take Remus home by Side-along. You'll splinch yourself otherwise Moony."
Remus who had opened his mouth to object, purses his lips.
"And then I'll be right back with Sirius' things. You'll stay with us," he says with authority.
Sirius thinks he's shaking his head, but it turns out he's nodding because James nods back. "Right then, you guys wait here and then -"
"Remus," Sirius interrupts, "you can't just - we have to –"
"Not. Here." Remus replies with blazing eyes.
"But you can't be on your own."
"I'll go with him," Lily says.
"Yes, Remus. I'll go with you. No arguing. You can hardly stand."
Lily turns to James, ignoring Remus' irritated sigh.
"I'll be back at ours in a little while with Sirius' stuff."
James gives her a hug.
"Be safe," he says, and though Sirius understands why he says it, especially after tonight, he feels something black and heavy replacing his guts as they embrace softly.
Remus turns towards Sirius but doesn't say anything. He reaches out for Lily's outstretched arm and within seconds they're gone.
Sirius slumps down on the ground and covers his face with his hands. James sits down beside him and without any spoken words between them, he places a hand on Sirius' back.
So this was what later was like.
James and Lily's kitchen is bright, cozy and cheerful. It's all wrong.
"You can sleep in the spare room. Or in the nursery, I mean it's closer to our room and the crib's not up yet-"
"James, I'm not a baby." Sirius attempts a smile, but it can't look very convincing. At best, it looks deranged.
"Sirius, I - I mean, if you want to talk. I'm right here. You know that right?"
"I don't think you want to know," Sirius whispers.
James goes to the charmed cupboard and hands Sirius a bottle of cold beer before opening one for himself.
"I was the one who got in first."
"Mmm," Sirius answers distractedly, taking a swig.
"I had a chance to look around the house, before calling anyone in."
"Yeah. Thanks for that."
"What I mean to say is. I - I was the one who dressed you before the others saw. Both of you."
Sirius stares at the bottle holding his breath.
"Sirius. Just talk to me."
What can he reply? What possible words are there to use in this situation? He continues looking at his bottle, twirling the neck around.
The suffocating silence is interrupted by Lily's arrival in the fireplace. As soon as she enters the kitchen, duffle bag in hand, Sirius is at her side.
"How is he?"
"Showered and asleep. I gave him a dreamless sleeping potion."
Lily takes Sirius' hand and squeezes it tight.
"Before he took it, he said to tell you that he's not angry with you. He said to trust him."
And that's it.
The crying is rattling his body like a storm. He covers his face with both arms as if it preserves his dignity. This time there are two hands on his back.
When he wakes up the next morning in the Potter's small, yellow guest bedroom, pictures of a memory are clear and sharp in his mind. Sirius stares up at the ceiling, drawing shallow breaths. He knows now, because of Remus' message from Lily, exactly what the Death Eater had seen.
He knows, because of those clear and sharp pictures, exactly what he's done to Remus.
Instead of accepting Lily's dreamless sleep potion, he'd stumbled to bed, casting Locking and Silencing Charms. He'd focused on extracting sounds and smells, painting in a long buried memory. It took some effort digging it up again, but when he finally managed, it had exploded before his eyes. And he'd promptly cried himself to sleep.
He'd wanted to dream about it, remember every little detail.
Sirius was working his way down Remus' body. Stopping to inhale between his legs. Savouring the smell. Mimicking Remus. Sirius loved the shuddered moan it produced above him. But mostly he did it to tell Remus that he got it. The smell was lush and intoxicatingly private. Enjoying it wasn't something Remus should feel self-conscious about it. Out of all the Wolf's "quirks", this was certainly not a problematic one. Sirius was glad to be smelled and smell in return.
He could feel Remus fighting to stay still. The muscles of his thighs tensing and relaxing in turns. It was the full tonight, and it had taken all of Sirius' skills of persuasion to wear down Remus' adamant protests. But in Sirius' mind this was just like the smelling. They couldn't make a big deal of it. The Wolf was closer to the surface this time of the month, and they had to normalize it. Not stigmatize it. So he'd asked Remus vehemently, to trust him, and was finally allowed to push the other man onto the bed.
Sirius heard Remus mutter a strained "fuck", probably fighting the Wolf. But instead of worrying about it he caught Remus in his mouth. Easing himself down, and held still for a moment, trying to soothe Remus, licking forth calm and compliance.
He was zoning out, entering that blissful, empty state of mind, when a fist slammed into the side of his head.
He lost orientation, seeing black spots. Before he knew what happened, he was on his stomach with his hands caught behind his back and Remus pressing down on him. He tried to buck up and throw Remus off, but Remus was stronger and heavier. He took advantage of Sirius' movements and kicked his legs apart. Sirius scrunched his eyes closed, and pressed his face into the mattress, trying to relax.
Relax, relax. Just yield. Relax.
Still, he wasn't in any way prepared for when Remus positioned himself behind him, and without any warning at all, slammed hard into him.
The pain was searing, and he felt like he was being split in half, the burning shooting all the way up through his stomach, exploding as far up as his chest. He screamed into the mattress. His shoulders ached as Remus' hold on his arms tightened with each thrust.
Again and again and again.
He was thrown round again, onto his back, Remus' right arm pressing him further down. One of his legs was hooked over Remus' shoulder. Sirius forgot himself and tried to struggle against the new position, earning him a bite to the throat. He stilled under the crushing strength of Remus' jaw. Remus' body. Forcing himself to go limp, and then the iron rod pain was back. Remus was moving faster and harder than before, making Sirius cry out all the louder in pain.
Yield. Submit. Relax. It's over soon.
Remus growled and a new bite was boring into him. Puncturing the skin. As blood seeped out, Remus' movements became even less gentle, high on the metallic smell in the humid air around them. It was not so much being marked, as it was complete and utter ownership.
Soon, soon, soon, Remus'll be back soon, he chanted to himself.
He heard him gasping now, and with a few last hard shoves, Remus fell on top of him. Both of them covered in sweat. Sirius stayed still beneath and managed to dry his wet cheeks discretely, waiting for Remus to come back from wherever the Wolf had taken him. After a minute or two, Remus' breath calmed down and he quickly got up, making Sirius wince as he pulled out. He sat down on the edge of the bed and wiped himself off with Sirius' pajama bottoms frantically.
"Remus?" Sirius whispered.
Remus stopped and looked back at him, panic in his eyes.
"It's okay, Moony, I'm fine."
Remus stared back, appalled, his throat worked, and he looked like he was swallowing something bitter.
"I made you bleed."
"You just got carried away is all. I enjoyed it too. Looks worse than it is."
"Sirius…I - Shit. I don't remember what happened."
"Don't make a big deal out of it."
Remus' voice was laced with disbelief.
"You don't think I'd let you continue if I didn't want to, do you? Come on, Remus. One drop of the right potion, and I'm good for another round here. Believe me," Sirius smiled as convincingly as he could.
Sirius got up and shook his head, ignoring the shooting pain in his lower body.
"I'm not. I -"
"Trusting you," Remus interrupted, "it's not about what you can handle of my Lycanthropy. It's about trusting you with it. It can't be a game, Sirius!"
"It's not -"
"I can't think straight with the blood." Remus tightened shaking fingers. "It's. The smell." Remus looked disgusted with himself. Sirius grabbed his wand and Vanished all traces of red on their bodies.
"There," he said. He reached a hand out to stroke Remus' arm, but he wasn't responding. He just kept his head down and continued talking.
"Don't think you're doing me any favours by saying it's okay, Sirius. It's not. If I gave in to every impulse over the years. You say I'm a normal man? Then I have to act like it! I don't want to hurt you."
"I'm fine, Remus."
"I can smell your anger. It's pouring out of you…"
Sirius flinched at that.
"…and all you're telling me is to get a potion and go again, and that's not doing me any favors! I need to know I can trust you, when I can't trust myself. I can't remember the last ten minutes, for fuck's sake."
"You can smell my feelings?"
"Sometimes," Remus sighs, "if they're strong enough."
Sirius looked away, not sure how to process that information.
"Okay, maybe I'm not exactly yearning for another tumble right this second. But I swear to you, that you're imagining something worse than what actually happened."
He cleared his throat and brought Remus into an embrace, hoping to Merlin that lying wasn't one of the things he could smell. "And maybe I am a little angry in general. With the whole situation."
Remus bowed his head shamefully, looking exactly the way Sirius wanted to avoid.
"But not with you. I'm not angry with you. You have to trust me!"
The sun is bathing the room in light, trying, but not succeeding in ending the replay in Sirius' mind. He pulls the duvet over his head. Blinks back tears. Hearing Lily's message like an echo.
James and Lily's hushed voices carry up from the kitchen as he descends the stairs. He doesn't want to know what they're talking about and makes as much noise as he can with each step, without being too obvious. Luckily, the talking stops, morphing into the safer clatter of plates and the unmistakable sound of cracking eggs and a sizzling frying pan. He pauses in the doorway and takes in the mundane scene before him. Lily cooking and James setting the table.
"Hey," James says looking up, "get any sleep?"
"Some. Why aren't you with Remus, Evans?"
"Potter, you mean?" She smiles, waving her index at him. "He's still sleeping. I made breakfast for him and put it by his bed. I thought I'd come here and sort out you two, before heading back and force feeding it to him."
Sirius nods in agreement, and stares down at the gigantic heap of food Lily is loading on each plate.
"Speaking of force feeding," James mutters.
Sirius sighs, not really annoyed, but surprised at being treated like a person, and not the wretched, sick thing he feels like. He picks at the scrumptious looking meal with his fork.
"Do you have any Firewhiskey, James?"
"A bit early to get drunk," Lily says with narrowed eyes.
"Actually, no. It's rather too late. I wanted to get smashed last night but your husband wouldn't let me."
James leans in over the table with eyebrows knitted together.
"Mate, I get the appeal. But it's not the best way to deal with this."
"Sounding a lot like your wife there, mate."
"And she's always right," Lily says.
Sirius pushes the plate aside. He knows where James keeps his alcohol, it's not like their twin glare is going to stop him.
Lily moves around the table and takes a seat next to him.
"Sirius. If you want to be there for Remus, do you really think reeking of Firewhiskey is going to help?"
"I don't really think anything's going to help at the moment," he says staring out the window.
"What happened?" She asks in a soft maternal tone. Sirius wants to punch her.
"You're telling me James hasn't already told you?"
"Give me some credit, man. That's your decision."
"Actually, I think it's up to Remus," Sirius says. His voice doesn't sound like his own. James clears his throat but doesn't contradict him. Lily smacks her palms on her thighs.
"Yes, great. Excellent plan. Let's wait for Remus John Lupin to open up and talk about what's bothering him. That won't take for-bloody-ever. And in the meantime you can move in with us and drink yourself to an early grave."
"SHUT IT, Lily!"
"Sirius," James warns.
"No you've got no clue what you're talking about. You. You -" Sirius splutters, getting up with enough force to knock the chair back into the wall. "You're making breakfast in your perfect little kitchen in your perfect little house in your perfect fucking life. Have you ever actually had any real problems, huh? And I'm not talking about having to tolerate James loving you rotten for years before giving him the time of day. Why do I get landed with insane parents and the boyfriend who tears himself to shreds every month? Who won't even let me keep him from doing just that tonight? Huh? Tell me? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE ALL THIS SHIT?!""
He slumps down on the floor, with his head between his knees and his arms around his legs.
"Never mind. I know already. I'd just really appreciate a chance to balance my fucking karma out."
The two of them settle down next to him, and he wants to yell at them for being calm and understanding when he's being a dick.
"What is it you think you know already? Why would you say that?" Lily asks.
"Fucking Black, ain't I?"
"Well, that's exactly why we love you, because you're everything they're not," Lily replies matter-of-factly.
"Yes," James adds, "Sirius, you didn't deserve any of it. Don't give them this. Don't let those fuckers win this way."
"The Death Eaters or my family?" Sirius asks, looking up. He immediately drops his head again. "Never mind, same fucking deal."
"I meant whoever was at that house. You've already won over your family, you did that by the end of first year."
"I raped him," Sirius blurts out.
He waits through the tension following Lily's gasp. He just wants them to understand. He's not worth this consideration. He deserves to get pissed and be hated.
"I don't understand," Lily says at last.
"I don't remember it, I was under the Imperius. But I know what they made me do, they told us beforehand. And it kinda became irrefutable when I cleaned cum and blood off my self last night." He tries to laugh, though Merlin knows why, and it comes out all insane. A Black indeed.
James' arm is lifted and lowered a couple of times, he obviously wants to touch Sirius and doesn't know if he should, Lily on the other hand scoots closer without pause.
"I don't know what to say," she whispers.
"Nothing to say."
"Sirius, no matter what happened. And – I - it's," she sniffed, "It's horrible – but - but it was still you and him. Maybe Remus doesn't think of it as harshly as you think?"
"Like I said. You don't got a clue," Sirius says acidly. "And it wasn't like we were on a date. I fucked him in front of three Death Eaters, who probably had one off watching."
James clears his throat and speaks so low that Sirius has to strain to hear the words.
"We'll find them. And kill them."
"Yes, that's marvelous, murder and Azkaban all around," Lily says.
"Quiet, Lily," James replies. "You don't get it. This - this must be killing Remus."
Sirius looks at him curiously.
"Of course I get that!" Lily says loudly. "But you didn't rape him, Sirius. They did. Both of you. Have you even processed that yet? This wasn't just done to Remus. And I gotta say, I think - I think being put in your position is. Is even worse."
"No, it's not," Sirius whispers.
"It's done a real job on you if you think you're to blame for any of this, so yes. Yes, it's worse."
Sirius gets up from the floor, away from his friends who are trying too hard to help.
"Lily, this is not something I want to discuss. Can you respect that? Can you please just go back to Remus. Please."
Lily looks at James for defense, but when it doesn't come she sighs and wipes her eyes, and disappears with the pop of Apparition.
"Still want that Firewhiskey?" James asks from the floor.
"I'm worried about tonight. I should be, right?"
The following morning, Sirius is still pleasantly drunk. He's been pacing the sitting room for the entire night. Currently he's sat on the floor, leaning against the wall, trying to imagine how Remus' transformation could be affected by his current emotional state. Sirius wouldn't put it past the Wolf to really, actually, kill James and Peter dead. His fear is only briefly relieved when James appears in the fireplace, stumbling out, looking haggard.
"He's fine," James says. "He's sleeping, bandaged and fed thanks to Lily's cajoling."
"A few bruises and scratches, nothing from the Wolf mind you, managed to be on the receiving end for that." James attempts a smile, but he rubs his arms nervously.
"Where's Peter been, anyway?"
"Helping his mum out. With his sisters, you know. They're having a hard go of it after -"
Sirius nods. Mr. Pettigrew had been a weird sort of bloke. But kind. Just like Peter.
"I told him to head home. He wanted to visit, but I figured. Some more time'd do you good."
"Moody's being a nag about that debrief too. But I've told him to back off. That you'll go in when you're bloody ready."
"What did you really say?" Sirius laughs.
James rubs his eyes and slinks down next to him.
"Something more polite."
"Did it work?"
"For the time being."
When Sirius pats his back, James winces.
"Sure you're fine?"
"I think my ego's more bruised than my body. It's been a long time since he's scared me like that."
"He calmed down towards the end though. It was mostly in the beginning. When he couldn't find Padfoot."
Sirius nods, looking away.
"You drunk all the whiskey? Or can I have some?"
Sirius hands him the bottle, and James drinks appreciatively.
"Do you think he'll let me see him?" Sirius asks.
"Wait till the day after tomorrow. Give him time to -to distance himself from the full. Get his head on straight."
"Yeah," Sirius says meekly.
They pass the bottle back and forth between them in silence. James keeps drumming his fingers on his knee.
"I'll give you my bike, if you quit that," Sirius says.
"Sorry." James bites his lip, fiddles with his cuff instead. "Sirius. Have - and you can tell me to fuck off if I'm being to - to private, but - uhm, had you ever been the one to - you know -"
Sirius raises his eyebrows at him.
"Been the one to give. Not receive. Before. Before last night?"
"In bed I mean."
"To top?" Sirius clarifies for him and can't help but letting out a surprised laugh. "Don't know the lingo, James?"
"Actually, I do. Just thought I'd sound stupid."
"We're rubbing off on you, eh?"
James laughs back.
"A little, yes. It seems." He swallows a manly amount of Firewhiskey and grimaces. "So had you ever? Topped him before?"
Sirius' smile rots, and he reaches back for the bottle.
"No," he says. Feeling embarrassed in front of his very straight friend, who's always envied Sirius' easy way with girls.
"Man," James breathes out.
"So that was Remus' first. Time. Sort of?"
"Ten points to Potter."
"I thought as much."
James nods, biting his bottom lip again.
"Am I so painfully obvious in my emasculate, whipped ways?" Sirius asks.
"Please, no. S'got nothing to do with who's whipped or any other childish stuff like that, don't hide behind it. It makes sense really. I reckon Remus isn't even capable of any other way, yeah? I mean, even if he wanted to. Which is why - why what happened was pretty much the biggest mind-fuck anyone could have played on him. And they made you do it –which is - ."
Sirius squints at James, and holds the bottle out to him.
"I do give you too little credit."
In response, James huffs out a laugh that turns into a sigh midway, and then there's silence again.
Sirius is contemplating heading for bed when the bottle is empty. He feels about ready to pass out from exhaustion, and James looks just the way he feels. They could both do with some sleep.
"Should get a few hours shut eye, Prongs."
James looks up from his lap reluctantly, as if pulled out of a moment of deep reflection.
"Yeah, s'pose." He shifts next to Sirius, but stills again. "Uhm, Pads?"
"Has Remus ever hurt you before? During sex?"
Sirius, dumbfounded, only stares back, not wanting to answer, not wanting to know why James thought to ask that question.
"Only," James continues, "I know he's got a fair few things he suppresses because of the Lycanthropy. And, popular belief to the contrary, I'm not a fucking fool, I've noticed how he gets lately, round the full. And I saw him, beating up that Death Eater two moons back, and how he was sort of, just out of it. He could've used magic, but he - he really tore that guy up." James looks down at his lap again. "Not that he didn't deserve it, but if anything remotely like that's ever happened in bed. You'd tell me right? Not details, I mean – just - you wouldn't let him do that, right? Because I've seen the Wolf demonstrating his leadership to Padfoot, and if it's anything like that -"
"Merlin, James. This is well private stuff you wanna know."
"Yeah, well. Last night reminded me that Remus can be dangerous, and you're my best mate, so."
"So's Remus! And don't you ever dare say anything like that to him."
"Of course he is. And you know I wouldn't. But – it's not like he doesn't know already. There's a grain of truth to it, even you have to admit that."
Sirius swallows, grateful that James just continues talking so he won't have to answer his question just yet.
"And I'm kind of trying to figure out why they had you do it. Because I've been going over and over this in my head, and it would make the most sense to do it the other way round. I mean, every Death Eater knows who you are. And it'd be more logical for them to want to see you, you know - being hurt like that. The notorious blood traitor Black and all that bollocks. Seems weird to put you in the position of power, instead of -"
"Don't ask me to understand the way those fuckers were reasoning," Sirius says.
"But, I just keep thinking, if they knew, somehow, about your - sexual relationship. In order to go about it the way they did. Did they -I mean - you said they slipped you a truth-potion…?"
"Bloody hell, James. Way too little credit," Sirius says, dragging his hands over his face. "You'll make a good Auror, you know."
"So will you."
"Nah. Too hot tempered, remember. Actually, Remus would be better than me. At least twenty six days of the month," he adds.
"Has he ever hurt you?"" James asks again, this time looking steadily and directly into Sirius' eyes. Demanding the truth.
"Look," Sirius says, "you gotta take this to your grave okay. And you can't tell Lily. Just don't. Don't do that to Remus."
Sirius pulls his legs up. Groans at the very idea of sharing this. He's suppressed it for so long, he's almost convinced himself it wasn't real. Saying the actual words out loud, to James, would undo his hard earned denial.
"He doesn't know he's doing it," Sirius says in a whisper. "It's like you said, he doesn't have control in some moments. And it's only been a few times it's been - bad. And just the one time it's been really bad. He doesn't even remember it. It's as if the Wolf's won him over, and he goes somewhere else, and right after, Remus comes back again. All scared and. Just so fucking scared. How could I look him in the eye, and tell him; gee, yeah, I know it's excruciating for you to get high-jacked by the Wolf like this when the moon's not even full. I know you basically try every day to accept who you are and that you're worth a thousand times more than what the world makes you feel like, but you know, you kind of held me down and fucked me raw just now, biting me till I bled, and I cried and you didn't hear me, and could'ya please refrain from doing so in the future, thanks. Should be easy enough, seeing as you've no power over it anyhow."
James looks at him with wide eyes.
"Fuck, mate. We need more alcohol."
"We could drink Lily's disgusting port."
"Accio Port Wine."
James holds out his palm for the sticky bottle and catches it smoothly, wasting no time, he opens it and takes a swig. The sound of him swallowing is quickly followed by, gah, I hate this stuff. Sirius snorts. He holds out his hand for the bottle, but James doesn't react.
"Pads, if he's made you cry - that's not good. And the first person who'd want to know is Remus. He'll be pissed that you kept something like that from him."
"It wasn't Remus. It was the Wolf. But yeah. I fucking know, alright?! And therein lies the beauty of it."
"What do you mean?"
"They," Sirius begins, but he has to clear his throat to get his voice to become something more than a rasp, "they did stuff to Remus first. Cruciatus, Imperius. One of them shoved his cock down Remus' mouth."
James flinches in his peripheral vision and Sirius inhales quickly, deciding to just power through, get it over with.
"Remus couldn't deal with that, I mean he took the Cruciatus like a pro. You can imagine. It was unreal. I'm glad Moody didn't see it. He'd probably get us all infected. I think he even impressed the shits. But being used like that, by that disgusting - Like you said before, it doesn't sit well with his instincts. He got loose of the bonds and knocked the guy unconscious. But then, we were both Crucioed and hit with some other spell. When we woke up again, we were both undressed and -" Sirius doesn't want to cry. He's done enough of it already. It doesn't stop his tears though.
James waits patiently at his side.
"The guy was a Legilimens, he'd gone into our minds when we were out. Given us both this potion that forced us to be honest about any question relevant to the other. The guy was furious. They hadn't realized Remus was a werewolf until after he got loose, and he wanted to punish us for - for the fact that he'd let a werewolf, you know. Fuck. Can you believe that sick fuck? Like we forced him?!"
Sirius wiped his eyes, not knowing if he was doing something wrong in telling James this without Remus' consent. But then the thought about Remus' consent made him laugh desperately, bitterly, and he carried on.
"He made me do to Remus, what he'd once done to me. And I know it must have hurt like fuck, because it hurt me back then. And I'm a fucked out bottom slag."
James doesn't take the bait. Instead he remains unnervingly serious.
"Have you ever had anal sex with Lily?" Sirius asks.
James blinks surprised.
"Don't look so fucking put out mate, I'm spilling everything here."
"No, I'm not. I - no, we haven't." James scratches his forehead. "Want to though, like bad. She absolutely refuses," he says quickly with blushing cheeks.
"Well, she's missing out. Mind you, she doesn't have a prostrate, so maybe it's not that big of a loss for a bird. Still, you're missing out. It's so tight, way tighter than a -"
"You had a point?"
"Well, you need to prepare beforehand. You know, stretch," Sirius holds up one finger, then two. Twirls them. Demonstrating in the air.
"Merlin," James laughs into his palms.
"You need to make the other person relax. Unclench, sort of speak. And then, once you're in, give them time to adjust and the like. And you need lube. Or it's just, it's downright painful."
Neither man is laughing anymore.
"I don't remember anything from when the Imperius was cast. But I know exactly what I did, because I'll never forget what Remus did that one time. And they found that particular memory, and had me reenact it with - with Remus as me. And – I never told him - the truth of it. Even though he sat me down after. Said I had to be honest. That he needed to be able to trust me with the Wolf, sort of. That I'd not treat it like a game. And I didn't tell him. I lied, because I couldn't stand breaking his heart like that."
Sirius took another swig of the port and shuddered.
"They played it perfectly, didn't they? This is just like Snape all over again. Only this time Remus isn't going to forgive me, because he'll never forgive himself. And it doesn't matter what I did at that house, because I know he feels like I've already betrayed him anyway, for not stopping him before. Not like I'd ever be able to, though. Not when he gets like that."
James' eyes are closed and he keeps clenching and unclenching his fists.
"Hey," Sirius says and startles James out of his thoughts. "What I'm telling you, about Remus, that's not what it's like generally, okay? We're talking about a handful of times, yeah? Really, only once. It's not even him. You hear me? That's not Remus."
Sirius only feels ready to continue when James nods.
"Cause, let me tell you, beyond that, the sex is pretty fucking awesome. Like mind-blowing. And don't worry, there's lots of prep, lot's of stretching and lube. We've all got our kinks, and let's just say Remus' dominance in bed suits mine just fine."
James shakes his head smiling. Sirius bumps his knee against his playfully.
"I'm a perfect match for Remus. Drives me crazy when he shoves me against the wall, yanks my hair back and growls in my ear and pounds –"
"Okay! Okay! I get it. Rough sex. Sexy Moony. Very kinky Padfoot. STOP! PLEASE!"
Sirius smiles relieved.
"Trust me, he'd have you spreading your legs in seconds if you'd let him work his magic on you. I solemnly swear."
"Don't contaminate the most sacred!"
"Just picture boring old Remus silently reading a book, and then imagine the exact opposite. Merlin, just thinking about that switch in him. You've no fucking idea, James. It's bloody brilliant."
"I'll never be able to look Remus in the eyes again," James says.
When the snickering dies out, James coughs, moving his lips in apparent concentration.
"But. Something else I've been wondering about?"
"Bloody nosy you've gotten."
"It's just. Don't you miss being with girls?"
Sirius looks at him with raised eyebrows.
"You make it sound like it's an awful price to pay?"
"Isn't it? It's quite the contrast. To what you're describing."
"You mean fucking a pussy as opposed to being fucked up the arse," Sirius laughs.
"Well. Yes! You still fancy girls don't you?"
"I fancy girls and I fancy boys," Sirius says as if James is a small child. "But either way it's not about sex, is it? Guttermind."
"I'm the guttermind?"
"No offense. But you sound like that fucking Death Eater."
"You're making it all about sex."
"But that's what we're talking about. You did the. The finger thing, for Merlin's sake!"
"Cause you're thick, and need visual aids."
"Okay, fine. Forget it."
Sirius pushes from the wall, and grabs James so that they're facing each other.
"Focus." He shakes James' shoulders. "Are you focusing?"
"Yes," James nods vehemently, eyes wide and intense. He might as well be gearing up to do oral NEWTs.
"You fancy girls?"
"And then you fell in love with Lily?"
"Are you with her because of sex? Or is sex a result of you being together?"
"Do you feel like you've sacrificed all the women you could have slept with, because of Lily?"
Sirius sits back against the wall.
"I don't see why people just don't get it. If two men or women are together, it's like they narrow down the entire relationship to perverted sex. When it's actually about me loving Remus. I don't love him any differently than you love Lily. I really need my best mate to get that and stop fixating on genitals. If I loved a girl. I'd have pussy. Simple as that. But I love Remus. And he loves me. I'm not paying a bloody price. I've won a prize, stupid."
James smiles, looking down. He punches Sirius lightly in the arm. Sirius punches back.
"Now, I do feel thick."
Sirius looks around the blue and white sitting room. Wedding photos on the wall. Mr and Mrs. Potter smiling at them from their mahogany frame. Lily's slippers in the corner, and James' Quidditch books on the shelf, next to his clay baby handprints, morphing every now and then into the shape of a tiny foot. He huffs through his nose.
"You've had it so fucking easy, mate."
It's impossible not to sound bitter.
James' eyes dart to his parents' portrait, and then he squeezes Sirius' shoulder.
They sit like that for a while. Neither talking. Sirius is about to suggest heading to bed again when he's suddenly flicked on the nose.
"You're a bit thick too, though, Pads."
"Just stop having sex near the full moon, you depraved adrenaline junkie. It doesn't take more figuring out than that."
"I've been trying to prove a point!"
"Well, it hasn't worked. And, hell, I don't touch Lily for five days a month either. You wankers shouldn't have it any easier than the rest of us sorry arses."
"Can I please, please, please be there when you say that to Remus?"
Sirius laughs. James chimes in.
This time it's genuine laughter. It's soul-rinsing and he needs it like nothing else.
"I'm glad you're enjoying yourselves."
Lily's voice is like a bucket of ice cold water to the face. "And is that my wine? The one I've charmed for when I've dutifully carried this child to term, and can finally drink again?"
"Fuck, sorry Lils. We ran out of whiskey," James says.
"We'll get you a new one. Unopened. Un-sticky," Sirius adds, wiping at his eyes.
"Why are you laughing?" She asks, arms folded. "Remus is passed out looking like someone shredded him, and you're here laughing?"
Sirius immediately gets up and makes for the fireplace.
"Oh, no you're not," Lily says and clutches his arm.
"Let me go."
"Don't tell me what to do. I'm not the one who married you."
"No? Here's what I have to say about that; Shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down! You too," she adds pointing at James. They both obey out of pure shock.
Lily inhales and mutters to herself, apparently trying to find the right way of dealing with the situation. Finally, she places her hands on her hips and squares her jaw.
"Sirius. Should I be worried?"
"Should I be worried that you're getting drunk and having a laugh at a time like this?"
"You think I'm having fun?"
"It certainly looks like it," she says looking sternly at James, her eyes screaming I leave you for one second.
"I'm sick of crying. That's all," Sirius replies.
Lily softens up with a sigh.
"I don't mean to be a jerk," she says, letting her hands fall, "not after everything you've been through. You were right before, I can't imagine. I don't know. If it'd been me -I'd be - "
She crouches down in front of him, wrapping his face in her hands.
"But this I do know. You need to eat. Drink water. Maybe shower. But most of all sleep. Dream-less potion, yes? And no more drinking. Please?"
Sirius only hesitates for a second before nodding.
"Thank you," Lily says, and hugs him soundly. It feels good in a different way from laughing, and Sirius knows without a doubt that his friends are going to make excellent parents.
"Ready?" James asks as they stand in front of the fireplace.
"Want me to come?"
"Want Lily to come?"
"So you want to do this alone?"
"And you want to do it now?"
"Then you are ready," James says and pushes Sirius into the grate.
"No, James, wait," Sirius says pushing back, "I really hurt him."
"Then that means he really hurt you too. And you need to talk about it."
James gives his palm an encouraging squeeze. Sirius looks down at their entwined hands and ruffles James' hair.
"I knew I got you intrigued last night, but don't think you'll be stretching my arsehole anytime soon, Potter. You'll have to continue gravelling before Lily. My arse belongs to Remus."
"And there's the Sirius Black we all know."
"Just go. Make up. And come back with Remus so we can all take the piss out of you together. I miss his sarcastic remarks."
"Doubt I'll be in a few minutes."
"He wouldn't have asked for you if he wasn't ready to talk."
"Come on it's Remus. He's given this thorough thought. There were probably pie charts involved."
Sirius half-smiles and inhales before taking some Floo powder in his hand.
"Damn. Here we go."
Stepping out of the fireplace takes some effort, but luckily Remus isn't in the sitting room, and Sirius has time to compose himself.
"Remus?" He calls while brushing off his clothes to draw out the time. "You there?"
Sirius draws his breath and wills his legs to move. Inside the sunlit, small room, Remus is sitting by the table, teacup in hand. His hands are bandaged and the gauze continues up his arms on the inside of his shirt. With the heavy-lidded eyes and the sagging posture it looks like he's been through five transformations in a row.
"Honey, I'm home," Sirius whispers.
Remus smiles minutely.
"I can see that," he says, voice cracking on the final word, and it's all Sirius needs to cover the distance between them in three quick strides. He reaches out for an embrace, but Remus quickly stops him.
"Don't, Pads. S'not a good idea. Just sit down opposite me."
Sirius runs his hands through his hair and takes a reluctant seat. Even though he expected this, it still stings.
"Bad transformation?" he asks, feeling unbearably guilty for not having been there.
"Wasn't one of the best, no."
"I'm so sorry, Moony. Fuck, I'm so, so sorry!"
"I know," Remus whispers looking passed him. "Me too."
"Okay. First things, first," Sirius says trembling. He cracks his knuckles for need of something to occupy him.
"What I said- about - Remus, you gotta know that I do see you as a man!"
Remus looks down.
"But I see both the Wolf and you. I separate between you, you know, and when he asked that way, it got all twisted. But you are a man, Moony, you've always been that. You'll always be. But - when it makes its way to the surface, the Wolf, I don't think of it as you. You are not it, is what I'm saying. During - when - that's not you either, Remus. I know the difference is all. Is what I meant, what I mean," he finishes weakly with a quick intake of breath. "Are you listening?"
Remus looks up.
"You should have told me, Sirius. I asked you to tell me."
"Well, now you're just skipping ahead."
"I couldn't. I didn't want to do that to you. You'd take on too much of the blame. You're doing it now!"
"Maybe that's only right? Did you ever think of that?"
"It's not," Sirius says, but it goes unheard.
"I'd rather find out through you. And hate myself. Than - the way I did, in front of those - and fucking hate myself!"
Remus stops to swipe at his eyes, and it shatters something inside of Sirius, because in all the time he's known him, Remus has never cried. Remus just doesn't. Only broke his parents' hearts, he'd once said. Yet here he is now, trying to blink away tears. Remus squirms in his seat and winces from the movement. He tries to hide his obvious discomfort.
"How are you feeling?" Sirius asks nodding towards Remus' lower body.
"Better now. Lily's - annoyingly stubborn. But she knows what she's doing."
"Sorry," Sirius croaks, red from shame, "I feel sick even thinking about – I can't even imagine how painful that must have been -"
Remus looks down at the remainder of his tea and sighs.
"I think you have a pretty good idea, Sirius."
The clock on the wall is ticking away, marking each passing second Sirius can't think of a reply. The next sound is the creak of a chair and Remus' voice, laced with severity.
"You better be completely honest with me right now, or so help me God!" Remus pauses and draws a deep breath. "How many times has something like that happened? Every time I've blacked out? How many times, Sirius? I need to know."
Remus is trembling and his hands tighten around the cup.
"No. Merlin, no, not every time. Not even close." Sirius racks his brain for a specific number. "Four. Maybe four times it's happened. But not as bad as that. That one time. Usually, when you're out of it - you're - just more intense. Aggressive sure. But not - not - not like that, Merlin."
"I've raped you four times?" Remus asks in a breathless whisper.
"You didn't rape me, Remus. Don't use that word about us!"
"Have you ever tried to get away? Have you actually told me to stop and fought back?"
"You haven't because you know it wouldn't make a difference. Because then you'd have to admit to yourself that I am raping you!"
Sirius stares back as Remus continues.
"And that makes it even worse, Sirius, that you've had to just lay down and accept it. Even consoled me after. It makes me feel fucking evil is what! Like I shouldn't touch you ever again. I knew, I've always known something like this could– and I was right. Werewolves aren't supposed to – I can't be in a relationship this way. I can't! It makes me want to throw up that I – made you a victim like that. It's a thousand times worse than your family!"
"The truth Sirius!"
"Okay shit Yes!" Sirius takes a moment to compose himself. "Yes, it's fucking scary, alright! And it hurts like a motherfucking - I have screamed, I've fucking screamed myself hoarse, okay? I've cr - and I've tried to push you off. But I swear to you. Not once have I thought, Remus is raping me! Because it's not you! It's not! I've never thought of it that way. And that is the fucking truth! Don't fucking compare yourself to my parents," Sirius spits, appalled that Remus would. "They loved hurting me, and not once, not once did they sit me down after and show even a fraction of the remorse you're displaying now. And they were nothing like you, because they were blissfully aware of every fucking second they made me crawl at their feet," Sirius shouts, reeling from the sudden confession, drawing his breath in quick, sharp gulps.
Remus makes a weird sound and hides his face in his hands. His shoulders shake and his small, muffled whimpers are deafening. Sirius tries to stroke him tentatively on the back, but Remus moves away from his touch.
"How can you stand me after?" he whispers.
And then he starts crying for real.
In some ways it's worse than watching a transformation, but Sirius isn't allowed to comfort him, so instead he waits it out. Carefully deciding what to say. Picking one word over the other, discarding and resorting. He needs to get this right, for Remus to understand. They need it. They depend on it.
When Remus calms down, Sirius looks him squarely in the eyes.
"Please, listen to me now. And really listen," he says in the no-bullshit voice he used with James, which always gets everyone's attention.
"Do you resent me for not fighting the Imperius? Do you feel like I should have?" Although, he hopes he knows the answer, he swallows nervously.
"It's called an Unforgivable for a reason Sirius. No, no of course not," Remus says.
"And I don't expect you to defy the moon."
"Those times we're talking about, have all happened in either the days right before or right after the full moon. It's as much to blame for that as the transformations. And I don't resent you for either."
"I'm afraid you wouldn't think like that, if it weren't for your parents. Like I'm taking advantage of it somehow."
"What the fuck, Remus! Don't patronize me. I accept it because I have the advantage of being on the outside looking in. I see the Wolf more clearly than you. It's not all muddled to me. To me it's pretty fucking straightforward. Lycanthropy. Imperius. Same shit. It wasn't your choice. Doesn't mean I'm a glutton for beatings."
Remus slams his fist down on the table.
"Muddled? Muddled by urges like wanting to rip you open the second you walked in here?" Remus snarls ferociously.
Sirius looks down, feeling very much like an obeying Padfoot.
"Every cell in my body is screaming at me to sort out the hierarchy between us," Remus continues. "Just the smell of you – I actually ache from resisting– At the same time I want to touch you, hold you. But I fucking can't right now, because I don't think I have the strength to fight the instinct to simultaneously beat you into your rightful place!"
Remus' tirade ends with him punching his skull repeatedly. Sirius swiftly grabs one of his wrists.
"I know that already," Sirius says, as calm as he's ever been, letting go of Remus' arm, and giving him the space he needs. "That's what I'm trying to tell you. I've accepted that part of you a long time ago. You're the one who hasn't. You keep thinking you have to hide the Wolf from me -believe me - I know perfectly well we better not do anything stupid until we've got some distance from this. I know that you want to take comfort in me, just as much as the wolf wants to punish me. I know. Okay? And it doesn't make me hate you or blame you, and it's gonna take a lot of hard work on our part to set this right, but we will dammit, because I'm not letting those fucks or the Lycanthropy ruin us like this."
Sirius sits back in his chair with a defiant look on his face.
"The question is, are you? Or are you gonna start placing the hatred where it belongs for fucking once?"
Remus views him from across the table. His brow is furrowed and his breathing loud. Sirius feels like he's waiting for the Wizengamot to state their verdict.
Just as he thinks, it's over, this is it, Remus has given up and finally been pushed over that precipice he's been balancing on his whole life, and nothing Sirius can say will keep them from falling, Remus clears his throat and speaks.
"I can't ever do that to you again. Not ever. Promise me, that we'll be careful round the full from now on. I need your help with that, because you know I have a hard time turning you down just before and after. That means no temp -"
In his utter relief Sirius darts up and kisses Remus.
"-tations…" Remus finishes after their lips separate with a smack. He pushes Sirius firmly but gently away and pinches the bridge of his nose. He draws in a long breath, which he releases just as slowly. "God, I'm in so much trouble, you truly do have the attention span of a dog!"
Sirius doesn't have the decency to look ashamed in his current mirth. He laughs and wipes tears off his and Remus' cheeks.
"Yeah, well, I'm your dog, and now we know that you're strong enough for us to kiss. Right?"
Remus shakes his head in disbelief, but he's smiling.
"Go back to James and Lily's," he says, "I'll be there soon. I just need some time on my own first - to sort out another bad dog."
"'kay, see you there. I love you Re -"
Remus kisses him.
It's just a chaste peck. Closed lips that are gone too quickly, but Sirius interprets it for what it is. A sign of Remus' indelible strength.
"I love you too."
"Pass the curry, James"
"You ate two plates already!"
"So? I'm hungry!"
"Let him eat as much as he wants," Lily scolds James, serving more food onto Sirius' plate approvingly. "He needs it."
"Hey, what about me?" James says with indignation.
"What about you?" Lily chimes.
"Don't ever get married guys."
Peter laughs and pours himself some more wine.
"Wouldn't dream of it. Good food. Clean floors. Regular sex. Sounds horrible."
Lily winks at him and blows him a kiss.
"Peter, you'll always have a special place in my heart, one that James cannot ever entrench upon."
"I've no one on my side," James says.
"Hey, I'm on your side," Sirius protests through a mouthful of food. "But Pete's right, your wife's cooking is bloody brilliant, and you don't bite the hand that feeds you. You spoiled brat." They share a small smile.
"Or the hand that –," Peter adds with raised eyebrows.
"Absolutely no one," James sighs.
"You've got me you ungrateful bastard." Lily scuffs him playfully on the head.
A green flash lights up the room and Remus emerges from the fireplace.
"Don't stop having fun on account of me, please," he says, smiling in his little Remusy way.
Sirius breathes a sigh of relief and walks towards him. But Remus holds out his hand to stop him. He shakes his head and begs with his eyes, begs for Sirius to understand, to take this one step at a time, have patience. Basically, all the things Sirius has never been good at. He turns around and sits down at the table, trying not to look hurt when Remus chooses a spot on the opposite side of him. Again.
Peter and James share a worried glance and Lily clears her throat nervously.
"You hungry, Remus?" she asks and starts ladling food onto his plate before he can answer.
"Thirsty too maybe?" James asks and holds up the bottle of whiskey.
"You okay, Moony?" Peter asks.
Sirius notices Remus smiling tentatively at him. He's about to smile back, when Remus gets up and takes the seat next to him.
"Hey," he says.
Sirius' hand is being squeezed under the table.
"Hey," Sirius replies, feeling pieces of himself slotting back in place.
James walks over, and tops up both of their glasses with the same enthusiasm as Lily's curry ladling. Remus won't be able finish off either before the evening's through. They both roll their eyes at the obvious pampering, and then that intuitive understanding kicks in again.
Maybe they didn't come from Sunday Roasts and Pancake Tuesdays, but Curry Fridays at the Potters, they'd do for the future.