For Beth, inspired by the Sirius/Remus Fuh-Q Fest but not written for it. A pairing I've not visited in a while so I'm nervous. Do please R&R.
Halt!, or Who Goes There.

There are some things you can never tell a lover.

Once, now a very long time ago, Remus Lupin attended an evening class not for playwriting itself but for the study of playwrights. The teacher was a jovial sort of fellow with a round face and equally round spectacles who threw himself with such enthusiasm into the course it was impossible not to be involved in the material. "Think of Hamlet," the man said once, unable to sit still on the edge of his desk. "What is the first line of Hamlet?"

"It's, 'Who goes there'," Remus offered, quietly.

"What was that?" Not being familiar with that voice -- Remus rarely spoke up, it was a horrid habit carried over from childhood -- the professor scanned the seats in front of him with pale blue eyes.

Remus cleared his throat. "'Who goes there'," he repeated. The man looked very pleased in a way that made Remus rather uncomfortable.

"Why, yes." Remus nodded a bit, unsure of what else to do now those bright, though somewhat watery eyes were on him. "That's exactly it: Who goes there. Tell me, do you know the significance of this first line, spoken by a mere man at arms, no less?" This time, Remus shook his head. No, he didn't. "Hm," the professor shook his head to the sound. "Every play, every great work of literary art, cinematic art," it was a Muggle class, "begins with it's central theme. The first line of Shakespeare's Hamlet is Shakespeare's Hamlet. 'Who goes there.' Hamlet doesn't know who he is or what, therefore, he is doing. It's his indecisiveness, his instability: and that first line is the key to the tragedy."

When Remus had walked home that night after the class he hadn't had to stop by any all-night book shop to pick up an old and preferably cheap copy of Shakespeare's Hamlet. He already had an old and even originally cheap copy of Shakespeare's Hamlet somewhere in the snug confines of a crowded bookshelf. His apartment was small and filled with the solitary scent of bookbinding glue and old page-musk. The single armchair was dwarfed by the towering shelves, encircling the living room. The kitchen was eat-in, the refrigerator -- it was a Muggle apartment -- close to empty. The bedroom was one bed and one bedside table and one lamp for reading. On the bedside table was one alarm clock and one long brown box in which he kept his wand. He wrote in the kitchen with a ballpoint pen on regular notepaper: long, devastating letters that he hid between the pages of his oldest books. At that moment he did not want to re-read Hamlet. Hamlet held the first letter.

The letters remain.

The first of all of them begins, Who are you? This is, by some stroke of strange fortune, very close to 'Who goes there?' The world is a meshwork of irony and agony and ecstasy, balanced on precariously invisible scales.

He cannot show Sirius these letters. Sirius in his arms, Sirius asleep in his arms, Sirius scarred in his arms. Sirius swathed in moonlight in his arms, Sirius swathed in his moonlight arms, Sirius aglow in his eyes with moonlit muscle. Sirius sinew in his arms, Sirius ligament in his arms, Sirius bone and once so-close to all-bone in his arms. Sirius, a soft and heavy breath on breath in his arms, Sirius so quiet in his sleep in his arms, Sirius face half-hidden by hair in his arms. Sirius that one streak of gray hair in his arms, Sirius and that long line of clenched jaw in his arms, Sirius relaxing in his arms.

He cannot show Sirius these letters.

He supposes he ought to burn them but he cannot bring himself to. All too well he remembers bending over them and writing until his fingers cramped or his own anger terrified him and he forced himself to stop. If he burned those letters he thinks perhaps he might be burned up with them, eaten by that same fire from the inside out. He has not once yet burned a single memory, but there are some memories you cannot share with a lover.

Who are you? I spent this last day wondering. My knuckles are healing from where they caught your teeth and the side of your jaw, from where your blood stained them. I would not hate you if you had not let me hit you that night. I would not hate you so much. If you had not turned your eyes to me in quiet desperation and allowed me to hit you, perhaps I could one day forgive you. There was accusation that night in your eyes. As if I had done it. As if I had done it all, or had driven you to it. As if I had betrayed you. Thank you, no. I bear that cross. I am the sole survivor. You bought me this dynasty -- again, in blood -- and I will wear its crown until I am dead. If only you were dead, I could mourn the loss of a man, not bemoan the betrayal of a shadow and a murderer. You make me selfish; you make me ask in frightful solipsism, Why Me, when I am not dead like James or like Lily, dead like Peter, orphaned like Harry. I suppose I am orphaned like Harry but I am no child, no babe in arms. And they do not bring mail into the confines of Azkaban, so I cannot tell you how he cried until Dumbledore coo'ed him to sleep. I cannot tell you the scar upon his brow. I cannot tell you these small, precious things. Until they suck imagination from you I hope -- and what hope is there when hope has turned to this great bitterness -- that all you imagine is what I cannot write. I cannot write anymore to a man I do not know. I cannot. Not tonight. I feel as if I have written more than it appears on paper. I wish I hated you less. You should have hit me back. Goodnight.

They are what they are. Ghosts, now. Love letters. Some eloquent, some less than coherent.

And I woke up this morning to find all I was was this apartment. This bed. This patch of sunlight fading on the corner of the bed over my hand. I woke up to find this morning that was all I was. Perhaps you have the prison but that validates your confinement. I am a self-imposed convict with some self-imposed conviction of my innocence. Days pass. Weeks pass. I sell books to lovers, I sell books of love poetry to would-be lovers, I sell mystery novels to schoolgirls and fat housewives and run each mother closer to the point where I lose my job. Moonlight overruns me. I drown. I drown in the sky. I drown in the cycle, the circle. I drown in the waxing of my anger and the waning of my spirit. Look what a poet you have made me, Sirius Black. What a dreadful, lonely poet. My physical and my internal bare the marks you left upon me once long ago and once less long ago than that but still quite a while into the past. Would that I could take a knife and cut them out of me, off of me, and never look at those new scars I gouge into my own flesh simply as reminders of yours, of yours as I tried to destroy them.

One day, when they are both dead -- the time approaches; the wind through the leaves bears the time, the changes in the moon demarcate the passage of the time, the darkened sky is bruised with the time and the gray in their hair signals the time -- He wonders if the letters will scatter like ash on the wind. His books will be sold, each book with a letter separated from the other. Perhaps that is best. Together, they would form a patchwork monster of blame and desire and despair.

Dumbledore has come to me. He has come to tell me that perhaps I am driving myself insane. He has come to tell me that I have gone gray overnight, but it has been a year, a full year. He has come to take me to Hogwarts. Severus Snape has not found a cure but there is something to lighten the curse. Lighten it. As if it were some watercolor to be diluted with another hue, and cold water.

No. One day, tomorrow is that day, he will wait until he has time alone. Then, Remus Lupin will gather each letter to him and lock them away in one place, the memoirs not of a werewolf but of a man who perpetuated his own dungeon. He could have lived. He did live, for two weeks, in which he and the History of the Great Playwrights professor had an incredible affair which involved only coffee and a dreadful sweets shop and a total of five longing looks combined. Four were the professor's; one was Remus's.

I write you this love letter. There ought to be one. I love you so dreadfully and with such hate that I know it must come from the wolf. I hate you so incredibly and with such love that I know it must come from me. I do not want you here because if you were by my side as parts of me want you, I would tear your throat out with my hands, and not my paws. I would do it. Do not doubt me. I love you to the point of wishing only to end you. I cannot stand this lack of closure. I cannot stand the thought of you in a dark, gray place with no love and no sunlight. I know that you must be angular as a mutt in winter. Right now I would kill you soon as look at you -- that will fade in time, they say -- but I still wish only for your rescue. I love you to this agonizing point of contradiction. I love you to the depths of my adverse heart. In humanity, I love you. In feral madness I love you. It is not the sort of love with which I loved you once upon a time, ha! It is a love that frightens even myself when I awake from it as if from a dream to read my own handwriting. I love you, I think suddenly, I feel suddenly, as terribly as I love the moon. That is how I love you, with need and with hate, with resentment and with a resigned ache in my chese. I would love you like silver if only you could become the bullet. I love you like self-indulgence. I love you like the cold at night. Goodnight, goodnight. My love. Goodnight.

Morning approaches. Some letters he remembers vividly, and others, not at all. He will never remember them because he tried, once -- tried to read one -- and could not. He cannot imagine who went there, from pain to paper, those years ago. It is different, now, his once-anger banked through the years and snuffed out in one eclipsing embrace.

Sirius in his arms, Sirius at last in his arms, Sirius through the darkness and into his arms.

There are some things you can never tell a lover. There are some things you simply do not have to.