This Is Not a Dream:

It is funny how we do not think of our faces. Sirius does not think of his face now, I know, though he used to. Or, if he does, it is in private, when he locks the bathroom door and pretends he isn't in there. I imagine he sometimes stares sullenly into the mirror, hating himself, but the mirror never responds. (He says the mirrors here have not spoken to him since he came back.)

He may not be in love with himself anymore, but I still am. I have been for an eternity and a half. It's a heavy burden, especially since he has relieved himself of his own portion of it, but I don't mind handling it.

I do not know how I look anymore. I no longer imagine myself looking twenty, but I am not entirely aware that I always look as tired as I do. I flatter myself, I think, though I know I have grey hair.

Sirius is looking at me strangely. I look back at him, unsure if my expression is strange, too. (It is also funny how self-aware we may suddenly become, over the silliest things.)

What'll we do? he asks me.

I say.

When . . . we're old. What'll we do when we're old? He looks away, out the grimy window. I will help him clean this room tomorrow.

I think we'll be quite stupid, I tell him. I smile a little. We'll love it. And we'll be right pains to Harry.

His thin mouth lifts in a smile, but he does not look at me. Would you really? he asks.

No, I wouldn't dream of bothering Harry. But you will. You'll drive him barking mad, and he'll put you in a home, I'm sure.

He looks over at me, dull mischeif in his shadowed eyes. Will you come visit me once I'm there?

I know now that I have lifted his spirits, at least for the moment. It is all I can do, the best I can hope for. Most assuredly, I say.

Not Asleep, But Dreaming:

He falls slowly, and it is as if my heart has stopped, too. It is a timeless second, because nobody's heart is beating, anymore. There is grief so great it tears the air apart, but it is not mine. The grief is outside me, impalpable, like someone's hand in a dream. It cannot be mine, I will realize later, because I am the one who survives, always. I must be.

Times Are Hard For Dreamers:

The beach is quiet and cold, pebbly beneath our bare feet. I hold his hand, and the water is beautiful and removed, a haughty sea.

He looks at me, and his face looks the way it did in Grimmauld Place that evening, but there is some comprehension in his eyes. He smiles, and it is a quiet, noble expression. There is nothing valiant, nothing arrogant, in his face anymore. He has been worn smooth like a stone. His looks are honest now, if a little sad.

What'll we do? I ask, and my voice is soft, swallowed by a gentle breeze.

He looks at me with an expression of such affection that I think any words will break it. He says to me:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky.

And I know, with all the certainty one has in a dream, that someday I will.