Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer... and then Fall v.2.0
This is the companion fic to Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer... and then Fall, told from Sirius' point of view. You don't necessarily need to read that fic to understand this one but it is recommended.
i. FALL, 1980
It is autumn and everything is a cliché. When we walk from the corner store to our flat (Our. The word still makes me giddy), we walk close, almost touching, the tweed of his jacket occasionally kissing the leather of mine. London is picturesque and beautiful and so goddamn poetic. He makes me want to write poetry; useless poetry about the fourteen shades of golden brown his hair turns in the sunlight and how when I look in his eyes I feel like I can be something more, more than the man I am.
I am so enamoured with him it makes me feel helpless, like having all the magic in the world and knowing no spells. It almost scares me, the hold he has over me. I never thought I would know this thing called love that James is always going on about. This love that makes you do stupid things and bumble like an idiot. This love that turns me into such a cliché.
He bumps against me gently and I bump back, our jackets kissing. I'm suddenly anxious to get home. I want to push him against the wall in the hallway and hear him gasp. I stick my hands in my pockets so I'm not tempted to kiss him here in the silent graveyard that serves as a shortcut to our flat.
Still, I glance behind me. No one. A smile creeps onto my face as I remove my hands from my pockets and pull him roughly to me in a tight embrace. He lets out a gasp and I can tell he's dropped the groceries by the sharp crack of glass on pavement. I hold my lips against his until he relents and opens his mouth against my tongue.
There is only the sound of the wind whipping through the trees and grave stones as we move against each other soundlessly. The groceries are forgotten until we break apart, at which point he stoops to salvage the wet apples and the soggy bread.
There are shards of glass on the pavement and milk running into the cracks but all I can see are the fourteen shades of golden brown reflected in his hair and I think, 'how fucking poetic'.
The bread is ruined and so is the sugar and we'll have to walk all the way back to replace them. I may be starting to regret the kiss just a little, but then he looks up and smiles at me and everything is just so bloody perfect I sink to my knees and claim his mouth with mine once more.
ii. WINTER, 1980
The kitchen still smells of turkey and potatoes as I carry the dishes to the sink. It's our first Christmas together and my first time seeing Remus' parents since I fell in love with their son in the fall. They don't know of course and I don't push Remus to tell them. I can only imagine what my own parents would say if they knew I was living with a man, a so-called half-breed man. I can understand his trepidation.
I turn when I hear the clatter of dishes behind me. Mrs. Lupin comes in the doorway balancing four teacups rather precariously with a levitation charm. She's a lighter-haired female version of Remus. Same kind eyes, lithe figure and grace. She smiles slightly as the dishes lower into the sink of soapy water. A flick of her wrist sets the dishcloth to work washing them.
"That's the last of them?" I ask and she nods.
I lean against the island in the kitchen and watch as the washed dishes pile in the drain board. She joins me and there is an almost uncomfortable silence until she speaks.
"How long have you and my son been seeing each other?"
I swallow as my stomach hits my throat and for a moment I consider lying. I would have if it had been my own mother but I glance at her and see Remus' eyes staring back. I falter and cannot lie.
"A few months. Remus meant to tell you." That may be a lie.
"No he didn't," she says easily.
I give a half shrug in agreement.
"You're not quite who I imagined he'd pick," she says slowly.
I frown for a moment. I'm not sure if she means because I'm a Black or if it's because I'm a bloke or perhaps just because she still sees me as the mischievous teenage boy who gave away her son's most important secret and sent an innocent to be murdered.
"Is it because I'm a Black? Because I'm not anymore, not really. Just in name. If it's because I'm a guy, I can't exactly change that," I say with a slight smile. "But I can tell you that I love Remus as much or more than any woman could."
There is silence and I know I've said too much. Remus is always telling me I run off at the mouth too much. I won't apologise though. It's the truth, even if I haven't told Remus as much yet.
"That's all I needed to hear," Mrs. Lupin says softly before drawing her wand and drying the dishes with a charm. She tucks her wand away and I worry my bottom lip between my teeth, not trusting myself to speak. I'm about to pull my wand to put the dishes away when I find myself drawn into a warm hug. I hug her back and hear her whisper in my ear, "I've never seen Remus so happy, Sirius. Thank you."
I'm not sure what to say because I'm sure if anyone should be saying thank you, it should be me. Thank you for not being like my mother, thank you for your son, thank you for your blessing for us both.
"How did you know?" I ask as we pull apart. We've been careful. We still have separate bedrooms, separate possessions, even separate bills when we go out for dinner.
She smiles before saying, "it would take a fool not to notice how you two look at one another."
I must look startled because she goes on to say, "luckily Remus' father is a fool so this will stay between us until Remus decides to tell his father and me. I hope you'll encourage him to."
"I will… And thank you," I add.
She smiles before ushering me back into the small living room where Remus and his father are sitting, talking about something that trails off when they notice we've entered. I catch Remus' eye and see immediately what Mrs. Lupin has seen; he looks at me with such adoration that for a moment it takes my breath away.
When they've left, we make love and fall asleep wrapped in the fleece blanket Peter gave me for Christmas. Just before I drift off to sleep, though, I remember my conversation with Mrs. Lupin and murmur "I love you" against Remus' naked chest. His muscles stiffen underneath me but I won't take it back, not when it's so true.
"I – I do," I say, sitting up slightly.
"I know," he says and I rest my head once more on his chest and fall asleep with his heart beating in my ear and his hand in my hair.
iii. SPRING, 1981
April showers rain down against the small windows of St. Mungo's. I stare out the window even though I can't see anything through the downpour. I'm chewing my bottom lip and there is a horrible lump in my throat that I can't seem to get rid of. I refuse to cry, but if I do I don't want him seeing me.
He's unconscious. He won't see you, a voice in the back of my mind reminds me. I stubbornly tell it to shut up.
I trace a droplet of water with my gaze as it trickles down the glass. I'm so intent on not thinking about my surroundings that I start when I feel a hand on my back, but I don't turn.
"You should go home and get some sleep," the elderly healer tells me.
"I'm fine," I lie. I haven't slept for two or three days. I've lost count. I haven't eaten much either and only left Remus' side a few times. I'm going stir crazy but I will not leave his side. Not when he could wake at any moment. Not when the last time I left his side Death Eaters attacked him.
"We really aren't supposed to let anyone but family stay overnight," she says gently.
"He's not going to sleep either way, Margaret," a female voice says behind me. "Let him stay."
I turn from the window finally to fall into green eyes.
"Thank you," I say quietly to Lily.
"I'm going to head home," she says, her hand resting briefly on my arm. "James and Harry are waiting for me and I promised them I wouldn't be late. Try to sleep."
"I will," I reply.
"Goodnight, Sirius," she says as she leans forward to kiss my cheek. Something about the physical contact or maybe just the concern causes something to break in me and I let go of the tears that have been building since I found out about the attack. Lily doesn't shy away but holds me tight to her and lets me let go without asserting judgement.
"He's going to be okay," she tells me once my tears ebb. I ignore the way her voice breaks.
"Thank you," I tell her. I cough a little and rub at my watery eyes in irritation.
"Take care," she says as she squeezes my hand briefly. I nod and then she's gone in a whoosh of rustling robes. Only when the room is empty do I dare turn my gaze to the still figure lying in the bed. Remus is pale and lifeless but for the subtle rise and fall of his chest.
I sit in the chair beside his bed, still warm from Lily's body, and take his hand in my own. I turn it palm up and kiss it before leaning down to rub my cheek against the soft skin.
I let out a sigh. It has only been three days but I miss him terribly. I would give anything to see him smile but I know they don't even know what hit him, let alone how to cure it.
I rest my head on his chest and listen to his faint, slow heartbeat. There is a boom of thunder outside that startles me, but Remus' heartbeat stays steady.
If I close my eyes I can almost pretend Remus is all right. If I concentrate and let the rustle and bustle of the hospital melt away, I can almost pretend we're back in our flat listening to the rain together. If I whisper I love you I can almost pretend his heartbeat quickens just a little bit and I can allow myself to fall asleep, the rain still pattering against the window.
iv. SUMMER, 1981
There is a spy. That much is certain. There have been far too many 'coincidences' for them to be coincidental.
There are rumours going around; rumours of how Voldemort has offered the werewolves power and freedom. By the way people stop whispering as soon as I enter the room, I can tell that they don't want to come out and say that they think my flatmate is working for the opposite side.
I refuse to believe it. I insist there must be another way and Dumbledore challenges me to find it in a weary tone that speaks of late nights and far too many battles.
I start watching Remus closely for any sign of infidelity. I hate not trusting him, but in times like these you can't trust anyone. I follow him when he says he's heading to the library to do research. I watch from the shadows in the alleyway as he meets an attractive young woman on the front steps leading up to the library. My blood boils as I watch her kiss him on the cheek in an intimate manner. Who is she?
I don't follow but go to the Leaky Cauldron for a pint. The pub is near silent and everyone glances around before sitting down. There's no telling who might be a Death Eater these days.
My anger is starting to fade but the jealous resentment remains. A soft voice in my head that sounds suspiciously like Remus' is telling me that there is a logical explanation for this; that she's a friend. A loud voice, my own voice – the same voice that sent Snape to the shack – demands revenge.
I look around the dimly lit pub for a moment but even while I do I know I don't want any of these people. I want my Moony safe at home beside me in bed like things used to be. But things aren't the same as they used to be. Who knows if they'll ever be the same again…?
After three pints I floo home and cough as I stumble through the fireplace. When the dust has cleared I look up to see Remus looking at me, a book carefully folded on his lap. His expression is unreadable, even to me, and that scares me a little.
"Where've you been?" he asks.
"The Leaky. How was the library?"
The dog inside me growls and bares its teeth. Outwardly, I sit calmly on the coffee table across from Remus, ignoring the fancy coffee table books I keep buying him that are scattered on its surface.
"It was fine," he says. Then, as if as an afterthought he says, "you'll never guess who I met there."
"Rachel Marion. Do you remember her? Gryffindor, a couple years below us?"
"Vaguely," I mutter, and feel foolish because of course Remus wasn't cheating on me, and then deeply ashamed for trailing him at all.
I get up from the coffee table. His gaze follows me.
"Where are you going?" he asks as I start to leave.
"Oh." A pause. "Goodnight then."
"'Night," I reply, not meeting his eyes. I can't stand to be in the same room as those softly adoring eyes. Not now. I don't deserve him, I realise quite suddenly. It's so plain to me now that I'm surprised it didn't occur to me earlier. I don't deserve his trust, his patience, his faithfulness. But most of all at this moment I feel that I don't deserve his love, his strong, unwavering adoration.
I curl in on myself in the shadows on our bed. I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep when he undresses silently and climbs into bed beside me. I slow my breathing and pretend not to hear when he whispers, "goodnight, love" to my back. He's so close I can feel his breath on the back of my neck, but right now the distance between us feels like a desert and I'm parched.
v. FALL, 1981
The leaves whirl and dance as the crisp October wind swirls around us. My hair blows in my face and I push it back impatiently with my hand. I scuff the dirt beneath my feet with my boot as I rock slowly on the swings in the Potters' backyard; the swings the four of us made before – well before we needed to use secret code to arrange meetings.
Beside me James takes off his spectacles and polishes them on his maroon football jumper. I wait impatiently for him to begin talking. I know he didn't invite me here for an evening swing.
"Well?" I finally say.
"I was talking with Peter yesterday," James says reluctantly. He looks down at his feet when he talks, his whole body slumped forward on to the sturdy metal chains of the swing. I kick the dirt impatiently.
"He says he saw Remus the other day…talking with Malfoy."
He looks over at me to judge my reaction. I keep my expression neutral.
"Where?" I ask, biding time while my mind reels. It doesn't matter where, when, why, really. A sinking feeling starts in my stomach. I don't hear James' reply. I numbly stare straight ahead and watch the leaves; no longer dancing but tumbling and falling like my stomach.
"It could have been for the Order," I say, still numb.
"Could have been," James agrees, but I know he's just humouring me. He knows Moony's the traitor, just like I do.
The wind has blown dark red leaves under my feet and I stare down at them. They're not beautiful, not the way Moony is. They're cracked and torn and falling apart just like my heart… my whole fucking life.
"I'm sorry, Pads," James says softly beside me. He lays a hand tentatively on my arm and I pull away.
"You're not as sorry as I am," I say maliciously as I climb to my feet. But I'm not sorry for the reasons he thinks I am. I'm sorry because even though Remus is pulling for the other side I still love him so much that it aches inside. I'm sorry because I know I'll go home and if he's awake I'll probably make love to him but even if he's not I'll still whisper 'I love you' to his sleeping form. Before I go home, though, I need to take care of something. It has been swimming in my head since it became more and more certain Remus is the traitor and now it comes to the surface where I know I can't ignore it anymore.
"Prongs, I can't be your Secret Keeper."
I hear the chains of the swing jangle as James stands from the swings hurriedly.
"Why the hell not?" he demands.
"If you're right and Moony's the traitor, I'm the first one they'll go for. Make Peter the Secret Keeper. It'll throw them off. Believe me," I say quickly, turning to him, "I'd rather die than betray you, but I'm not much good as a Secret Keeper if I'm dead."
James is silent beside me and the only sound is the rustling of leaves in the trees. Finally he speaks.
"Fine. We'll switch and make Peter the Secret Keeper. You're right, it'll throw them off. But it'll stay between me, you and Wormtail. You know Dumbledore won't swallow it if he knows.
I nod even though my stomach is still tossing and turning. As if sensing my uncertainty, James pulls me into a one-armed hug.
"This may be the last time I see you for a while, then," he says as we pull apart.
It takes a moment for the weight of his words to sink in.
"I guess so," I reply. "Hopefully not too long, though."
I suddenly feel very lost. My two main pillars of support are being toppled and pulled away from me and for the first time since running into James on the Hogwarts Express in first year, I feel very alone.
I don't resist when James pulls me into one more embrace. I hold him tightly and I selfishly don't want to let him go because if anything happens to him how can I go on without my brother, my comrade, my very best friend?
"I love you, mate," James says simply and I mumble something in return that was probably, 'you too' but may have been 'don't go'.
We let go, our hands lingering on one another.
"Let's go inside," James says with a nod towards the house.
I know that we'll walk in and Lily will be making tea with one hand and balancing Harry with the other. I know that James will go to her immediately and I'll excuse myself even though I know I'm welcome for tea. I know I'll go home and hope Remus is sleeping so I won't have to give into temptation and fuck a traitor. And I know that even though my whole world is falling apart I'll keep lying to myself until the time when I believe everything will be fine.