Burning Bright

HP fic by Stormy

Warnings: slash, het, hints of a threesome

Timeline: Combination post-GoF and MWPP

Notes: A one-shot that struck me the other night and wouldn't leave me alone until I sat down and wrote it out. Using a few canon ideas from OotP, like why James would be such a prat during his younger years and after he grew up a bit, and Sirius' family problems. The poem is "Tiger, Tiger" by William Blake.

Pairings: Sirius/James, James/Lily, Lily/Sirius, James/Sirius/Lily, Sirius/Remus

One shot (Thursday, July 03, 2003), complete

Burning Bright

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Tiger, tiger, burning bright…

Rather odd for a young man that turned into a dog to be thinking of muggle poems about large muggle cats.

In the forest of the night…

Sirius was tempted to picture the Forbidden Forest but he knew the night sky of his mind was much more forbidding.

What immortal hand or eye…

"Could frame thy fearful symmetry," he murmured, gazing at the crackling fire in front of him. It was burning low on the hearth, not much more then a few solitary flames on blackened branches. What else would one expect at three thirty in the morning?

He shivered; feeling a faint breeze from Remus' living room window brush by, cooling the last few drops of sweat that had clung to him, the product of a nightmare he only wished he could forget. He hadn't had one of those dreams in a long time, but the waking silently, was something he'd learned a very long time ago, and wasn't easily forgotten.

He remembered the last time he'd had one of those dreams…he smiled softly as he remembered the last time he'd been caught in the Common Room that early in the morning.

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Sirius cuddled up on the couch on the Common Room, tired but unable to sleep. He never could sleep after one of his dreams.

He didn't have them very often anymore. Not regularly since fifth year, and only two or three times in the sixth. Which made him right on time for one, now that he was in his final year, right?

He had woken silently, as usual, only the trembling in his hands giving him away. He had quelled the instinct to reach out for someone, particularly the roommate to the right of him. Instead, he'd grabbed the comforter from where it had fallen on the floor, dragging it downstairs to the fireplace where the fire was slowly dying.

I don't need him anymore. He doesn't need me, remember?

James and Lilly were both in James' bed again. Just because we're seventh years doesn't mean they have the right to shag like minks, Sirius thought grumpily. It wasn't real anger or annoyance that tinged his words though, so much as it was regret…and longing.

In what distant deeps and skies…

Two years ago, it would have been James jumping into Sirius' bed to sooth him after a nightmare. It would have been James brushing nightmare-induced sweat off his brow rather then the caressing touch of a ghostly wind.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

Sirius shuddered and pulled the blanket around him tighter, huddling into the couch. The fire…it reminded him of the heat in James' eyes as he planed his hands down Sirius' chest, staring into his soul with a hunger that roared as loudly as the tiger whose poem he was currently obsessing over. Long limbs, sinewy with Quidditch-born muscles, twisted and tangled on sheets soaked in sweat and passion, offering comfort and receiving it in turn.

It was only experimentation, Sirius reminded himself. Both of them needing each other, needing their understanding and mutual strength. Sirius had many scars, both mental and physical, from his father and his warped idea of discipline. James bore the scars of his father, up until the day he died, freeing him and his mother from the man's tyranny. Both of them searching for acceptance for they could never get it from the ones they truly wanted it from.

Best friends and lovers, they relied on each other, a coping mechanism only they could devise and pull off in crowded dorms and common rooms and never letting anyone else, not even their closest friends, know the truth.

And then she came.

On what wings would he aspire?

Beautiful Tiger Lily, James called her. A friend throughout their years at school suddenly blossoming into maturity. Sirius had watched as James eyes turned to follow the petite redhead whenever she entered a room, how he became entranced at the soft sound of her laughter.

What the hand dare seize the fire?

James wanted to be good enough for her. Lily only wanted him to smile. The two of them were perfect for each other, and Sirius had bowed out without a word. He remembered the day he saw them sitting by each other on the very couch he was currently curled up on. He remembered the smile he gave James, the mouthed words, 'it's all right', giving away his blessing and his heart in one move…

And what shoulder, and what art…

Lily knew. She never said a word, but her eyes were like Seer's orbs, all-knowing and all-encompassing. She had stroked a slender finger down Sirius' arm, gazing at him with love and concern and gratefulness for him. And Sirius found he couldn't hate her for taking James away.

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

The fire was burning even lower. Soon it would be out completely, until the next morning brought it back to life with the everyday rush of students clamoring throughout the Common Room. Sirius closed his eyes, not wanting to go back upstairs. He didn't want to see the curtains around James' bed, knowing he and Lily were wrapped around each other like he ad James used to be. He didn't want to be alone in his bed, with nothing but his demons and nightmares for company.

"Sirius?"

When thy heart began to beat…

Sirius opened his eyes. Lily stood before him, long, red hair, loose and flowing. Her face was softly lined with sleep, but her eyes were awake, giving him that same look she'd given him so long ago…

What dread hand forged thy dread feet?

"Lily?" he whispered softly, surprised and slightly concerned. "Is everything okay?"

What the hammer? What the chain?

"No," she whispered. "It's not."

In what furnace was thy brain?

Swiftly crossing the floor, Lily knelt on the floor before him and reached out with her hand, as slender and graceful as Sirius remembered. Cupping his jaw, she leaned in closer, studying his face. Sirius was shocked to see tears welling up in the green pools James knew so well.

"Lily…"

Her lips pressed against his, gentle but firm, prodding his mouth open carefully. She made all the advances, leaving Sirius senseless and reeling under her tender assault. His eyes closed automatically, letting his remaining sense flare up. The scent of her shampoo tickled his nose, the taste of her igniting him into returning the kiss, unknowing of where this was coming from, and suddenly uncaring.

What the anvil? What dread clasp…

So soft….so warm…

No…

He shouldn't be doing this. He shouldn't be there in the Common Room at almost four o'clock in the morning kissing his best friends girlfriend. Sirius opened his eyes almost desperately and brought his hands up to push her back gently, gasping for air. About to speak, Lily suddenly pressed a finger to his lips.

"James sent me," she whispered. "And I was happy to come."

Sirius gaped at her. The tears that had been gathering in her eyes suddenly let one slip down her cheek. Sirius watched it leave a glistening trail down the smooth flesh and he swallowed hard.

"Why…" he choked out, his eyes moving back to hers.

"You're in pain," she said quietly, her hand back to his jaw, tilting his head to facing hers completely. "We can feel it…and it hurts us to know you're in pain."

The honesty in her eyes broke down the last of Sirius' defenses and he moved forward this time, taking her lips under his control. His hands wound through the lightly curling strands of silk, feeling her arms twine around his body, resting lightly on his back. He tensed as he felt her trace the rough pattern hidden by his t-shirt, but she didn't remove her hands. Instead, she pulled back a little and stared up at him.

"Please?" she breathed, searching his eyes. He nodded.

Her hands slid under the shirt and she carefully pulled it up over his arms and head, placing it to the side, sitting back on her heels and studying him. Sirius watched her, eyes dark with emotion.

Dared its deadly terrors clasp?

Scars littered his chest and back, crisscrossing in a lashing pattern. Furrows, some almost a half inch deep curved into his abdominal muscles, ending in a shallower cut at the pectorals. Knife wounds. Odd shaped scars, small, deep, like someone had punched Sirius repeatedly wearing a fistful of rings.

Sirius closed his eyes, not wanting to see her look of pity or disgust.

When the stars threw down their spears…

He was shocked back into opening them as he felt her hands go back to him, gently tracing each mark. Her eyes shone up at him, radiating pure sadness, concern….

And love.

Sirius hitched in a shaky breath, placing his hands on Lily's shoulders to steady himself as she moved between his legs, resting her head against his chest. He let his hands slowly slip down her arms, before sliding them tentatively around her. She didn't pull away.

His breath escaped him in a rush as her arms tightened around him. He could feel warm tears sliding down her face, onto his chest. Something was beating against his chest, pounding hard and steady, determined to get out.

And watered heaven with their tears…

James had held him like this. The first person who ever had. Someone to hold him, wrap him in warmth and security and make him feel that for once, everything was going to be okay. Someone to take away the fear of memories, to ease the pain of being alone.

And now, when his nightmare had returned for the first time in so long, James had known.

He wanted James. But he couldn't deny that he wanted the tenderness and care Lily was offering. Unconditional comfort.

The flood damn opened.

Did he smile his work to see?

Loud, heart-wracking sobs shook his entire body. Sirius buried his face in Lily's hair, inhaling her freshly washed scent of strawberries and summer breezes and fisted his hands in her curls. Her arms tightened even more around him, holding him up as he slumped forward, sliding off the couch to kneel before her. She crooned softly to him, rocking him back and forth as they sat there on the soft carpet, gently pushing his head to down to rest on her chest as a mother would to her child.

He had been so alone! And he hadn't even noticed it. And James had. Had he really forgotten James so much?

The pain of yesteryears washed away under a torrent of tears, both his and Lily's. Her fingers combed through his tangled hair, soothing and petting him, whispers of nothing and everything echoing in his ears.

Seconds, minutes, maybe hours passed – who knew? Sirius didn't know, nor did he care as he let go of all the pain he'd been holding since he and James and broken off their relationship for the woman currently easing his troubled mind. The loud cries began to ease off at last, turning into sniffles and hitched breaths that evened out under her steady caresses.

Slowly, he raised his head, lifting his damp face to hers, one tear-stained face meeting the others. Their lips touched, chastely this time, and she pressed more gentle kisses along his jaw and cheekbone, licking away the tears and leaving a searing heat behind. He blinked, startled, seeing the passion in her eyes, and wondering if this was all a dream…

Did He who made the lamb make he?

A presence finally made itself known and Sirius turned his head to see James Potter standing in the doorway.

Tiger, tiger, burning bright…

Panic flooded his chest but the energy he spent on his release had exhausted him. He stayed where he was, wrapped in Lily's arms, his eyes wide and afraid as James stepped forward, his face hidden by the shadows of the room. The fire in the hearth had all but died away.

In the forest of the night…

Another step, and then Sirius could see his face as James knelt beside them, reaching out with one calloused hand, larger the Lily's, but just as gentle, cupping his jaw firmly. Fading tear tracks caught the light of the embers and Sirius gasped to see the same love and concern that Lily had shown. That James had always shown him, once upon a time.

What immortal hand or eye…

James tasted exactly as he remembered. Wild, free, tangy with life and tasting of chocolate. Still held in Lily's embrace, James' other had came around and rubbed the back of his neck tenderly as he licked the roof of Sirius' mouth, nuzzling him in that oh so familiar way.

He pulled away slowly, giving Sirius time to recover. Sirius blinked, still stunned, his eyes traveling from him to Lily and back again. Only caring and love was evident in their eyes. He swallowed nervously, licking his lips, tasting both Lily and James on them.

"You shouldn't be alone," Lily whispered in his ear, hugging him from behind. Her hands traced his muscles again before clasping his clenched fists. James took both their hands from the front.

"No strings, no demands," he said simply. "Just don't suffer alone anymore Padfoot. Please?"

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

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Azkaban didn't give me much choice, Prongs, Sirius thought bitterly. He tucked the blanket he'd swiped from Remus' chair more firmly under his feet. I could really use you and Lily right now…

Before he could sink further into his depression, the door to the kitchen swung open, letting a gentle stream of light into the fire-lit room. Remus stood there, casting his shadow along the floor at Sirius' feet.

"Padfoot?" Hesitant, unsure. Sirius cocked his head. "I made some hot chocolate." Remus padded into the living room, holding out a mug to the animagus. "You look like you need to talk." A warm smile. "I'm here for you if you need me."

Sirius accepted the mug, warm, but charmed to keep from burning his fingers. The scent of chocolate filled his nose.

James…

Remus was still smiling at him, a little surer this time, buoyed up by Sirius' acceptance of his gift. Sirius knew that Remus was still walking on eggshells around him. Their friendship, while not buried by his stay in Azkaban, had nonetheless been tempered by it. Sirius looked at Remus' smile again. Warm, caring...

Tiger Lily…

"I know," he said finally, returning the smile. Remus sat next to him, their shoulders touching. The werewolf's eyes asked silently if the contact was okay.

Gentle hands framing his face…sturdy hands gripping his….

Sirius reached over and picked up Remus' hand. It was small, like Lily's, but strong, and calloused like James. Sirius knew that Remus knew of him, and James and Lily. He had too – his wolf senses were strong enough to know when the three of them had been together. But he had never said anything.

"Don't suffer alone, Padfoot," Remus said softly, watching the ex-convict rub his hands gently.

Sirius snapped his head up and for a second, saw James and Lilly staring back at him, pleading with the same expression they wore that day. He blinked, and it was Remus again.

James….did you tell him?

Tiger, tiger…

"Not alone," he said finally, and smiled at Remus. Shyly, he squeezed Remus' hand, and was happy when he felt the gesture returned. The smile grew and a twinkle he had thought lost forever from his eyes, suddenly returned. He picked up Remus' wand and aimed it at the fire, murmuring the spell under his breath. The fire suddenly roared back to life, snapping and crackling briskly, covering them with warmth. He smiled again. "Not anymore."

Burning bright…

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End

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