Disclaimer: I don't own Remus. I don't own Sirius.I don't own the words you see below - but I do own the order in which they appear. The lyrics to "Fugitive" belong to the Indigo Girls, and are reprinted here without permission.Many thanks to the LJ crew (Pandora Culpa, Lady Bretagne, animagus1369, Kikei, and Saiph) for all your invaluable feedback and encouragement. Special thanks to Pandora, since without your dare this never would have even been started! And a huge thank you to lyrical genius Amy Ray, whose songs "Cordova" and "Fugitive" gave me a title and kept me writing.
"Things You Didn't Have" was originally published on FictionAlley on 17 February, 2004.
You've always been good at waiting. You've spent most of your life waiting for something or other, after all. And you've developed a knack not just for the act itself, but for waiting without appearing to be doing so. You spent the majority of your first year at school waiting for someone to find out the truth about your "illness," but in all outward appearances you were a normal eleven-year-old struggling to find his way in a brave new world. Over the years you waited with trepidation for the results of various job applications, always showing a hopeful anticipation instead of the ever-growing despair that you really felt. When Lily and James Potter had been killed almost thirteen years ago, you waited for someone to tell you that it had all been a bad dream and that your life hadn't really shattered into tiny fragments of poisoned glass, but everyone you knew simply saw you go through the normal rituals of grief.
And now, you wait for Sirius Black. It's been three weeks and two days since the Shrieking Shack - a name that now signifies not a place, but an event - and every day you think that this will be the day that Sirius will appear on your doorstep, probably in dog form so as not to attract any unwanted eyes, and you can begin to repair the friendship that was torn apart so many years ago.
But to anyone who might care to look, you're simply going about your life as you usually do. You get up in the morning, make yourself a cup of tea, browse the Prophet for employment possibilities, go out for a little while, possibly for most of the day, and return to a solitary supper, a couple of hours with a book, and finally a good night's sleep.
The night it finally happens is no different from any other night, at least in this respect. You sit in a chair not far from the fireplace, more out of habit than anything else, as there is no need for a fire at this time of year. Your mind is half immersed in the latest novel by your favourite author, and half fixated upon what might occur if Sirius happened to ring your doorbell at This Particular Moment.
At this particular moment, the doorbell rings. You look up from the book, blinking in bewilderment and wondering if the sound could have been a product of your imagination. You tell yourself that it must have been, since the full moon is rapidly approaching and you never fully trust your own perception when this is the case. But as the bell rings a second time, you become certain that it's real.
You walk slowly toward your front door, listening carefully for any telltale noises or signs that your visitor might be someone unwanted. There are none.
You open the door, and there, just the way you've been imagining it, is an enormous black dog, looking up at you with hopeful eyes. You open the door a little wider, allowing the dog to enter, and then you shut it behind you, casting your eyes quickly around the room to make certain that all the curtains are drawn.
When you look back at the dog, it has already transformed into Sirius Black - also just the way you've been imagining it. And after this happens, you're supposed to say Sirius' name: "Sirius" if you're in a warm, welcoming, and friendly mood, or "Sirius Black" if you're in a darker, more incredulous mood. You've rehearsed them both. But now that the time has come, neither seems appropriate. For all that you've imagined the scene in your head, you never took into account what it would be like to have Sirius really standing there in front of you, hardly daring to breathe as he waits for you to say something.
You never took into account the feeling, like a wound being ripped open deep inside you, as you slowly realize (again, and still again) that everything you've believed for the past thirteen years has been a lie.
You never took into account the feeling of wanting to run away as he stares at you, a ghost from your past that you thought you had buried a long time ago - a ghost whose oddly solid presence suddenly revives feelings of friendship, understanding, and brotherhood within you. All of these, things you've learned to live without. Things you don't want anymore.
You've told yourself over and over again that you don't want them. And you say it now, inside your head so that he can't hear you: I don't want them.
But the tiny thought in your head, the thought that has kept you going for one two three six ten thirteen years, suddenly dissolves into wispy nothingness as he looks at you. And for the first time, you realize that he isn't a ghost at all. Your breath catches in your throat, and all those things come swooping down upon you now that the flimsy barricade of I don't want them is gone.
You don't weep. You're too busy looking at him, studying his outline against the wall, tracing his face with your eyes, making sure over and over again that he's real - and it never even occurs to you to weep.
It does cross your mind that you should probably say something. You've been rehearsing it this way, and each time, when you see him in your imagination, you always say something. But after moment upon moment of thick, heavy silence, you don't think you should speak after all. Words wouldn't do any good after thirteen years.
As you step toward him, you see the worried (or maybe scared) look on his face, but as you embrace him, you hear him laugh. And it isn't a madman's laugh, like you almost expected to hear emanating from that gaunt body - it's a laugh that you remember from thirteen years ago.
This time you do think you might weep. But you decide not to, and instead you laugh with him.
He sits eagerly at your kitchen table, watching you with curious eyes as you prepare a pot of stew. You have to remind yourself that you weren't much of a cook when he last saw you, and this particular turn of events is probably very entertaining for him. Well, you still aren't much of a cook, but you learned to get by over the years. Nevertheless he seems fascinated by the whole process - and you realize that he probably got nothing but bread and water in Azkaban, and Merlin only knows what he'd been eating since he escaped.
You turn toward him with a kind smile. "Do you want to cut up the carrots?" you offer, thinking he might appreciate an opportunity to be of use.
He shakes his head slowly. "You do it," he says. "I'd mess it up."
And the room falls silent again. Carrots, you think sourly to yourself. Thirteen years, and we're talking about carrots. Ever since Sirius broke the initial silence with a plea for something to eat (and then an apology for intruding, and then a comment about how cozy your tiny house was), this was how the conversation had been going. A few short sentences were tossed up into the air and caught by the opposing player, and then silence reigned as the words of each were turned over in the mind of the other. You're still trying to reconcile yourself to the fact that he has a voice at all - and you think about how unused to human conversation he must be.
After another several minutes, you spoon the magically heated stew into two bowls. He accepts his bowl with an eagerness that seems almost wild, yet he waits for you to sit down before he begins to eat. You take the first bite (it didn't turn out as good as the last pot you made), but once he starts, he can't be stopped. He eats without even stopping to breathe, and to your lack of surprise, he finishes before you.
He starts eyeing your half-empty bowl. You offer it to him, and he accepts it with a sheepish sort of grin. You realize that, oddly enough, this is part of what you rehearsed. The thought makes you smile.
He finishes within a matter of minutes and offers to wash the dishes. You laugh and tell him to leave them; you'll clean everything up in the morning. He nods, seeming rather disappointed. But you realize after a moment that the disappointment probably has very little to do with the dirty dishes; even after all these years, you recognize the twin lines that appear between his eyebrows when he's thinking hard about something. So you watch the lines, and you let him think.
"I'm sorry," he says abruptly.
You were thinking that he might have been coming up with another comment to make about the stew, the house, the weather, or whatever other inconsequential thing he could think of, so this naturally takes you by surprise. But then you remember that he apologized about something already, a little while earlier. Perhaps he forgot. "You already said that," you remind him gently. "I told you, you're not intruding. I'm happy to see you."
"It isn't that," he says. You notice that he's looking not at you, but instead down at his spoon, which he twirls between his thumb and forefinger.
You wait a moment for him to finish his thought, but he doesn't seem to want to. "Sorry for what?" you say.
He still won't look at you. After a moment's pause he says, "I thought it was you."
"Oh," you say, and silence descends again. You definitely didn't rehearse this.
It isn't that you haven't thought about Sirius thought I was the spy, how could he, how could he? You think about it all the time, even though it's a thought that pales in comparison to the other Peter is alive and Sirius was innocent all along sort of thoughts that now dominate your mind. That was something else you didn't have: Sirius' trust. Your mind tries to slip back into its old defense of I don't want it I don't need it, but you won't let it.
After all, he brought it up. Even when you weren't going to. And now he doesn't seem to want to say anything more on the matter, so it's up to you. "Why?" you ask him, trying not to sound accusatory. You aren't accusing, after all. It's thirteen years too late for that.
He looks up at you for the first time, noticeably rattled by your simple question. "Wormtail said he thought it was you," he says in a flat voice, "and I believed him."
You nod. You expected something of the kind, but it still relieves you to hear him say it. At least he hadn't believed it on his own, right? That would have been much worse... right? You remind yourself that Eve probably wouldn't have eaten the apple of her own accord, and that sometimes the charm of the serpent brooks no resistance.
"I shouldn't have," says Sirius, and though the words themselves are redundant at this point, the bitterness in his voice draws your attention.
"No," you say sadly. "You shouldn't have."
Even though you didn't mean to accuse, he goes on the defensive. "Well, you believed that it was me, Remus," he says. "You shouldn't have believed that either. You should have known I would've died for James. And for Lily, and Harry. For any of you." He's almost shouting at this point, and your eyes are almost wet.
You shush him, and he understands. People might hear.
"You did die," you tell him. "For all of us."
He thinks about this for a few seconds, and he nods. "I did," he agrees, the resolution in his tone clashing with the resignation in his words. Then he looks up at you with an unexpected grin.
"But I'm back."
When he says he can't stay, you understand why without having to ask - even though he explains it to you anyway. He can never stay in one place for too long, for fear of being tracked somehow. "And if I stay here," he says with no small measure of pain in his eyes, "they could get you too. Harboring a fugitive or something of the kind."
You want so badly to tell him that no Ministry officials have ever bothered you here, at least not since you started using the Wolfsbane Potion, and that there was very little chance that he'd be found if he stayed. But you know very well that you'd just be making excuses. Fugitives always have a way of being found, and you'll both be safer if he leaves.
"Where will you go?" you ask.
"South," he answers without hesitation. "I've been hiding up here to be close to Harry, but after what happened with - you know - the Ministry's been closer than ever to finding me out."
You feel a pang of regret within you, but Sirius laughs when he sees the expression on your face. "Don't give me that look, Lupin!" he says, though his newfound joviality seems a little bit forced. "With any luck, I'll end up on some tropical island out in the middle of nowhere, where nobody's ever heard of Sirius Black, Escaped Convict. I'll be able to walk around on two legs in the daytime and get a bit of color in my face again, and I'll probably be having a bloody good time. So it's me who should be pitying you, eh? You poor sod, stuck here in England while I'm off on my wild adventures."
You let yourself laugh at that's the most he's spoken since he arrived here, even though you still don't dare to hope that he'd be able to find such a safe place.
But you realize that perhaps wizards in other parts of the world can't be bothered with an escaped convict in England. Maybe they've got their own problems to worry about. And you mentally chide yourself for not thinking that sooner.
"I could come too," you say, but you and he both know that you're not serious.
He smiles at you, shaking his head. "Will you do me a favor?" he asks.
"Keep an eye on Harry for me," he says, and you both sober up at the mention of the boy's name. "I won't be able to reach him easily from... wherever I go... but I want you to check in with Dumbledore and make sure he's all right. I don't know if he'll think to write to you, but if he does..."
"I'll be there if he needs me," you finish for him, even though you're almost positive that Harry wouldn't want to write to you. He would want to write to his godfather, not his lycanthropic ex-teacher.
He nods, and suddenly the silence is back. He'd grown steadily more talkative over the hour or so that he'd been here, and now as you stand face to face by the front door again, you feel as if you're back at the beginning. Perhaps you should offer him some stew.
"Thanks," he says. "For Harry, for the stew, for..." He trails off, shaking his head.
"Thanks," he says again, and this time he leaves it at that.
You smile, he smiles back, and this time he initiates the hug. He changes back into Padfoot before your eyes, and you open the door to let him out.
As he fades into the darkness, you close the door and return to your chair near the fireplace. You think about picking up your book again, but that would be silly since you wouldn't read a word of it. There are already too many words in your head right now. Words that you said, that he said, and that weren't said at all. Words that didn't need to be said, like so much time has been lost but I still love you like a brother. Words that were present when you embraced him and when he embraced you. You smile as you remember them all.
That's how it should be, you think to yourself, and you turn off the light and go to bed.
Are they coming for us with cameras or guns I said it's all in our hands So hide yourself for me
We don't know which, but we gotta run
You say this is not what I bargained for
Got to learn to respect
What we don't understand
We are fortunate ones
Fortunate ones, I swear
I will hide myself for you
All for you
-Amy Ray, "Fugitive"
I said it's all in our hands
So hide yourself for me