Disclaimer: Not mine
Summary: This is not a fairy tale, but Remus Lupin almost wants it to be. Remus/Sirius, post OotP.
Once upon a time there were two men who loved each other, and they were able to live happily ever after together.
Ah, but if only it had been like that. If only happily ever after was real…like a fairy tale. But then, this was about as far from a fairy tale as could be. Fairy tales had princes and princesses falling in love. They had good people winning and bad people losing, and that losing didn't even involve death. The prince and the princess would go off and get married at the end, and have lots of babies.
No, this wasn't a fairy tale. Because fairy tales were never about two boys falling in love with each other, a wizard and a werewolf. Fairy tales wouldn't even hint that homosexuality was real or even good. Fairy tales sheltered the young from the realities of life.
And this was nothing if not real. Because sometimes the good people lost, and that loss resulted in death. And that was real. More real than anything else.
Remus Lupin is a creature from a fairy tale too. But the fairy tales are simple, and they would have cast him as a villain, because that's what werewolves are. Werewolves are the ones eating innocent little girls and biting little boys so that they would kill their own families. Werewolves are never the good people. Werewolves are the ones impervious to grief. They aren't the ones that grieve.
If Sirius Black had been from a fairy tale, he would have been the prince. He was the one defying the odds and the bad people for love and duty. He was the one who ran away from his evil family and went off to make his way in the world. He was the one who battled his way free of the evil place he was wrongfully imprisoned in. The perfect hero. Except that the heroes don't die.
This was not a fairy tale. In fairy tales, the prince would redeem the evil werewolf and cure him and they would be friends. But if the werewolf wasn't evil and couldn't be cured and was actually the prince's lover, it wasn't a fairy tale. Fairy tales never gave off the idea that a bad disease couldn't be cured, and would never have even hinted of sex, much less sex between two men. But this was not a fairy tale.
And then Sirius Black died, and it was obvious that he was not living in a fairy tale. Because he died without his name cleared, and he left behind grieving people, and his death was not fair. Fairy tale deaths, if ever they happen, are always fair. People don't fall by accident through the fluttering silver veil between life and after, because bad things don't happen by accident in fairy tales.
And the people they left behind never keep seeing them all over the place, not if they aren't really there. They don't keep showing up, to be seen only out of the corner of your eye or when you're not looking straight at them, unless they're trapped somewhere and held by magic and need you to get them free. That way, they're never just simply dead, and they can always be rescued, and when they are, they'll hug you and kiss you and everyone would be happy.
But sometimes they are just dead. Because it's not a fairy tale, they can't just be resurrected, and they can't just live happily ever after with their loved ones. And they aren't held in a cage of magic, leaving flickerings of themselves to be seen as hints of where they are. They're just dead.
But Remus Lupin sees the flickerings of Sirius Black. One night, he feels his body sleeping next to him on the bed. Another morning, he sees him drinking tea at the breakfast table. And he's always gone before Remus can look closer. If this were a fairy tale, these sightings would be a punishment for the evil werewolf sodomite. And who knows? Maybe they are. Because Sirius really isn't there, and that's punishment enough for anything.
The echoes of music down the halls and ghostly fingers playing the piano. The books on the library table open and the pages moving with no breeze in the windowless room. The stairs creaking as weight falls on the steps and there's no one on the landing. The house is empty of all save Remus Lupin, and yet it's full. If this were a fairy tale, it would be haunted by ghosts of its former owners, with Sirius among them. It's not a fairy tale, but who knows? Maybe it's haunted anyway, with spirits who torture the werewolf by refusing to show their faces or to speak above a murmur.
The dead that are loved never truly leave, but they aren't supposed to remain behind and torment the ones who loved them with only traces of their presence. If this were a fairy tale, then for at least one moment, Sirius would appear and be solid and would take Remus in his arms and assure him that he would always be there for him. But it's not a fairy tale, and maybe it's just as well. The fairy tales always seem to imply that that one moment would give the living a sense of peace, but when it wasn't a fairy tale, maybe the feeling left behind would be the opposite. Restlessness and longing, and no sense of peace.
Even if Sirius Black never truly appears, he leaves bits of himself everywhere. A body-shaped depression next to Remus in the bed, an angrily muttering Kreacher wandering about the house talking about the Master and his hateful ways. Used tea bags on the counter. Buckbeak purring at nothing. If this was a fairy tale, Sirius would really be there. But it's not, and he's not.
Remus almost wants it to be a fairy tale. Because if it was a fairy tale, then maybe as one of the traditionally evil people, he would be killed too. And he wouldn't have to think about Sirius being there and not being there, and wouldn't have to deal with how Molly kept glancing at him with a worried look on her face, or how Dung kept asking him about why he was getting so jumpy, or how he found pamphlets for the St. Mungo's psychiatric ward on his bedside table more than once. Even how Dumbledore was treating him as one of the Order's soldiers and nothing more, and how Snape kept sneering at him over Wolfsbane Potion and whispering nasty things about his relationship with Sirius, but those at least were normal.
It's not a fairy tale. It never will be, because it's real. And so even as Remus prays for deliverance from phantoms no one else can see and who he isn't sure are really there, he knows he won't get it. And when he falls asleep at night, and feels Sirius' body curl around him, and the way they hold each other close, he doesn't want to wake up.