For AffectedMangoO who made the request for this idea in a review. And because I was in a depressed, funky mood one night. Warning: NOT fluffy.
Cassius tucked him into bed even though the sun was shining.
Sirius was dead.
Remus had been awake all night, dealing with Harry, dealing with Dumbledore's orders, trying to stay together when all he wanted to do was tear himself apart. Sirius couldn't be dead. It was all a prank. It had to be. Remus couldn't be the last Marauder.
Tears welled up as he saw Sirius fall again…and again…and again…with Harry's anguished yell echoing in his ears. He had held Harry back, terrified of losing another person he loved.
Cassius held him as he sobbed, great, heaving sobs that felt like he would never draw a normal breath. Remus pulled Cassius down, moving to bend over him. Desperate for reassurance that he wouldn't lose everyone again.
"Swear to me." Remus growled into Cassius's shoulder blades. "You'll never leave me."
"I swear I'll never leave you." Cassius panted the words out as Remus pounded into him. "I swear, Remus."
Remus bit down hard as his orgasm swept over him. He collapsed and then rolled, bringing Cassius with him to lay on their sides together. He sucked on the bite mark for a long time, swallowing the blood that slowly oozed to the surface. Finally, he fell asleep and dreamed of veils and curses and yells and a struggling boy trying to escape his hold to run up the stairs into oblivion.
The only important thing was that he didn't let go.
"I don't know what to say to him. He's so sad, like everything, even the air, is painful."
"Comfort him. Imagine what you would want if Stevens died." Moody said gruffly.
"I can't imagine that." Cassius said quietly, his fingers twisting together.
They sat quietly for a long moment. Cassius watched the dust motes in the air, visible because of the bright sun streaming in the window. They fell slowly towards the floor. Sirius had fallen too…Liam had told him.
"What did you want when Owen died?"
"To die too."
"And why didn't you?"
"Because Stevens told me I couldn't leave him."
Clara came over after work, like she had the past two evenings, since the night Sirius died. She hugged Remus tightly and held his hand as he cried. She listened as he tried to think of ways that Sirius had survived, or thought up ways he could bring Sirius back, or railed against Dumbledore and Snape for not understanding Sirius. She listened as he yelled at himself for not stopping Sirius on that fatal night. She listened as he cried.
They laid cuddled up on the sofa together. Remus had run out of words and laid quietly against Clara's bosom. Clara carded her fingers through his hair like his mother used to do when he was little.
Cassius walked into the sitting room with Stevens. "Remus, " he said softly. "We thought we'd run to the video store. What do you want?"
"Doesn't matter." Remus said quietly, not moving from the circle of Clara's arms.
Cassius looked at Clara helplessly. Cassius didn't know what to say to Remus, he held him, tried to comfort him, but Cassius couldn't make the hurt go away and he felt worthless. Clara could feel the oppressive grief everywhere in the house. None of them had known and loved Sirius as well as Remus, they weren't hurting as much as he was and they were all powerless to help except to offer their love and support.
"Oh!" Clara remembered. "I brought something to watch, you don't have to go to the store. Lydia from work taped it for me. Stevens, it's in my bag." Stevens immediately returned to the kitchen. "Cassie, bring the sandwiches and salads in here and we can eat in front of the telly." Cassius nodded and passed Stevens in the doorway.
"'Pride and Prejudice'?" Stevens waved the tape.
"Oh. Is that the new production?" Remus asked, a small note of interest in his voice.
"Yes, with yummy Colin Firth." Clara answered as Stevens put the tape in and Cassius levitated four plates down on the coffee table. Drinks were put on the end tables. Cassius sat on the other side of Remus, spooning up next to him, and Stevens sat on the other side of Clara. Remus sighed as he relaxed against his two best friends. He picked food off Cassius's plate and got lost in the peaceful world of Jane Austen for the next six hours.
Memories of Sirius caused a hot, clenching spasm in his stomach that made Remus choke back up the bit of food he'd been able to eat at breakfast. He brushed his teeth for the second time that morning and started down the stairs.
He made it halfway before sitting down, before realizing Sirius had been dead four days now, and he was unable to find the will to move any further, almost unable to find the will to breathe
Remus felt like someone was trying to dig out his heart with a spoon. It was a blunted pain that centered in his chest, making it hard to breathe, making it hard to eat, making it hard to do anything. His stomach clenched again in a hot wave of sorrow.
"Remus." Cassius sat next to him. "I swore I wouldn't leave you. And I won't." Cassius took one of Remus's thin, cold hands in his. "Don't you leave me."
Remus looked up, tears spilling over his cheeks. "I wouldn't."
"You will if you don't eat, if you don't sleep. You will if you keep this up. I promised I'd keep us both alive until Voldemort is defeated. And I will. But you must help me. You'll see Sirius again, and James and Lily. Just stay with me for now. Please." Cassius's voice was a hoarse whisper. "Don't leave me. Don't make me break my promises."
"I won't." Remus gripped Cassius's hand tighter. "I won't leave you. I couldn't. I love you." He felt Cassius pull him close, he felt strong arms surround him. "I miss him so much." Remus sobbed. "He's gone, he's really gone this time and he's never coming back. He can't escape. And I can't do anything! It's my fault. And I never got to say goodbye."
They sat on the steps for a long time. Cassius held Remus gently, like he was made of glass. Remus fell asleep, lulled into it by the steady beat of Cassius's heart.
"Jack wants you to meet him this afternoon." Clara stood in the doorway to his bedroom where Remus had been lying staring at the ceiling all morning. Tabby the cat was curled up at his feet.
"Oh…Jack." Remus felt fresh tears well up. Jack had loved Sirius too. They had been starting a new life. Remus felt his stomach churn as he thanked whatever powers that be that Cassius was alive. Then he immediately felt guilty. "I can't."
"I think…I think you should…he's hurting. He loved Sirius too." Clara said gently.
"He must hate me, it's my fault."
"It's not your fault, you couldn't have stopped Sirius from going to the Ministry and you couldn't have known that LeStrange would kill him. It's her fault." Clara said as she climbed on the bed and laid down next to Remus, circling his waist with her arm and resting her head next to his. "Remus, I love you. We love you. And we need you. Tell us how to help you."
"It hurts so much." Remus whispered.
"I know it must. I can't pretend to know how much. I tried to imagine how I'd feel if something happened to you and I just…. And I won't say that it will all get better…but it has to, doesn't it? It can't get worse."
"I hope not." Remus found a small smile somewhere.
"I thought you were trying to get Remus out of the bed?" Stevens asked as he came into the room and climbed onto the bed too. "Merlin, this bed is comfortable."
"Stevens…How did you go on after Owen died?" Remus asked.
"I…well…I thought Owen wouldn't want me to just give up. And…there are so many things to enjoy in life, I need to enjoy them for Owen. And being with other people who love me, that helps. Remembering the fun times with Owen, being with friends and enjoying the time we have. And I had to be strong for Cassie. He fell apart for a few weeks and then he just bottled it all up for years. I recommend my method. Just take one day at a time and try to remember the good things" Stevens reached over Clara and took Remus's hand. "The missing him will never go away, but the pain will."
They laid together on the bed. Remus could hear some birds chirping outside. Stevens's hand was warm on his. Remus could hear Clara's heartbeat and for a long moment he concentrated on his own heartbeat. He was alive. Sirius would want him to live. Sirius had loved him. Too much time had been stolen from their friendship and it was hard to accept that Sirius himself had been taken away now. But he would see Sirius again. Remus took a deep breath.
"Thanks." Remus said quietly. "I'm ready to go meet Jack."
"Good." Clara said, sitting up.
"You're both coming with me, though, right?" Remus sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.
"Like you have to ask." Stevens stretched as he stood up.
"Um…" Remus said uncertainly. "I…"
"Group hug." Clara said, with a watery smile, embracing Remus tightly. Stevens gathered them both to his chest.
Remus stood in the small graveyard next to Jack. Remus was gripping Clara's hand so tightly that tears had sprung to her eyes but she was determined not to say a word.
"I thought…he'd want to be here, with them. So…even though we can't bury his body, we could still have the gravestone." Jack said slowly, his voice thick with emotion.
Remus looked down on the gravestone that had been placed beside James's grave. "Sirius Malfoy Black. I never knew Sirius's middle name."
"It was in his file." Jack said quietly.
"Thank you for doing this for him." Remus said. "For all of us."
"I wanted to. It makes me feel better that I have some place to come to visit him."
Remus nodded, unable to speak around the lump in his throat.
"I'll see you, Remus." Jack said quietly. Remus let go of Clara's hand and hugged Jack.
"Come over for dinner sometime."
"Sure. I…I'm going to take some time off, Moody's lending me his cabin. I'll owl when I'm back in town."
"I need some time to get myself back together. Liam will be checking in on me."
"All right. Take care then."
Jack nodded and then Disapparated. Remus took a deep breath.
"We're going to take a little walk, give you a little time." Clara said. Remus nodded as he knelt down and pulled a weed from Lily's grave. He heard their footsteps fade away. He took a deep breath.
"I miss you." Remus said quietly. "I never thought I'd outlive you three." He took another breath. "I hope you're all up in Heaven having a great old time. I'll watch out for Harry now. And I'll live to see Voldemort defeated…I have to witness that…I won't let him win."
Cassius kissed Remus gently as they laid in bed. The sun was already up, but it was a Sunday so there was no need to hurry out of bed.
Remus nuzzled closer, reassured by the heartbeat under his hand. It had been almost two weeks since Sirius had been killed. Remus spent hours at Sirius's grave working through his grief. He had been able to say goodbye and to come to a degree of acceptance but the sadness was still very sharp.
"I have something to tell you." Cassius smoothed his hand through Remus's hair. "I did some research about my mother's family recently and…well…it turns out I'm related to Lily."
"What?" Remus bolted straight up on the bed. "You're related to Lily? How?"
"My mother was her grandmother's sister. So we're cousins."
"So you're related to Harry!" Remus breathed, feeling bright excitement coursing through his veins for the first time since that night in the Department of Mysteries.
"Yes. And…well, the thing is, my blood will protect him, like Lily's sister's blood. And so he could come live with us. If you wanted him to.
"Of course I want him too! He can't go back to those horrible Dursleys! When?"
"Well, school gets out in a few days, I think."
"Harry could come live with us!" Remus couldn't quite take it in. "We'll have to get a room ready for him." Remus was so glad to have a purpose again. There was something that felt right about Harry coming to live with them.
"I thought Owen's room, it's bigger than the guest room." Cassius said, stroking down Remus's side.
"I'll take Clara and we'll go shopping. A desk and a bed and a dresser. You'll need to get money out. Harry's going to come live with us." Remus looked down at Cassius and then tackled him. "I love you."
"You're happy. Is that a smile?" Cassius looked at Remus closely.
"Yes." Then tears welled up in his eyes. Sirius had wanted Harry to live with him, and now Sirius was dead. Remus buried his face in Cassius's neck, tears welling up and dampening Cassius's skin.
"I thought you were happy." Cassius said with concern.
"I am happy. It's just going to take time for me…for me not to cry every time I think about Sirius."
"Cassius, I love you. You know I love you, don't you?" Remus looked down at his mate, warmth flooding into his chest.
"But I'm not enough to stop you from hurting." Cassius said softly. "I wish I was."
"You do stop the hurt some. When we're together…the hurt isn't so bad….when I touch you. Nothing is ever so bad when we can be together."
"Honestly?" Cassius asked.
"Yes." Remus said quietly. "I love you. I'm so happy we're together."
"I love you so much." Cassius pulled Remus close, kissing him.
"Harry's related to you." Remus said incredulously. "I can't believe that." Remus tilted his head as he looked at Cassius thoughtfully.
"I never noticed you have the same eyes as Lily and Harry. They've always just been your eyes."
"Well, they are my eyes." Cassius said slyly.
"Harry's coming to live with us!" Remus kissed Cassius wildly. "I love you!" Remus kept kissing Cassius until the kissing evolved into slow, careful lovemaking. It wasn't the desperate act of two weeks ago, but an affirmation of life and love.
Windy Corner was the center of a whirlwind in days before Harry arrived. There was a ritual to be done to transfer the protection which meant Harry would go to Surrey for two days then Cassius would pick him up and bring him home.
Remus and Clara went shopping in Hogsmeade and set up Owen's room for Harry. Remus felt giddy as he called the room Harry's room for the first time. Clara was beaming too, reflecting Remus's happiness back to him.
"What are you doing?" Remus asked as he walked onto the back porch.
"Building a perch for Harry's owl." Cassius muttered, looking at a book then back over at the collection of wood he had in front of him.
"Every owl needs a perch."
"Very true." Remus nodded. Orlie, his owl, had a perch in the front hall that Cassius had built years ago. Orlie had been a birthday present early in their marriage.
"I can't remember how I did this." Cassius scowled before looking over at his mate. "How are you?"
"You asked me a couple hours ago, I'm all right." Remus smiled.
"Well, your mood changes a lot lately." Cassius shrugged.
"You're a good husband." Remus moved into the circle of Cassius's arms. "I'm dealing. It's a slow process."
"I love you." Cassius kissed Remus's forehead.
"I love you too." Remus stepped back. "It'll be good for Harry to be here, just thinking of being alone and trying to deal with Sirius…" Remus swallowed hard. "It'll be good."
"It will be." Cassius agreed. Remus sat on the railing and watched Cassius as he turned back to the book. After a good deal of swearing, Cassius succeeded in creating the perch. He showed it to Remus who applauded.
"We need a new bookshelf in the library too."
"We can buy that." Cassius said, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
"Of course." Remus smiled.
A few days after Harry arrived at Windy Corner, Remus took him to the grave yard. Moody and Tabby went with them. Harry had never been to his parents' grave so it was a big afternoon of grieving and healing. Remus was thankful to have Harry with him and Cassius. Remus and Harry were able to get to know one another more and spent many afternoons talking about Sirius, dealing with their grief.
Together they drew on each other's strengths and healed together, becoming stronger than before.