That is all I need
That is all I need

 Just a bit of a warning here.  This gets dark, some suicidal things. Nothing belongs to me except for Sirius's family.  There is just a bit of  hinting  about Sirius's past.  The full story can be found in My Name is Sirius Black, though I should be done editing it soon.

Please review. This is one of the darker things I've written and I wasn't expecting this to turn out the way it did. It's one of those things that just sort of wrote itself.  So please, tell me what you think.

There is still today, and tomorrow fresh with dreams: Life never grows old. --Rita Duskin

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." Mother Theresa.

"I've heard your anguish. I've heard your hearts cry out. We are tired, we are weary, but we aren't worn out. Set down your chains till only faith remains. Set down your chains. And lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery. And you shall live a life uncommon." --Jewel, "Life Uncommon"

Remus's PoV

"Sirius, I have the names…"  My voice trailed off as I entered the living room of my small cottage.  My friend, Sirius Black, was  seated on the window seat,  his eyes closed, knees pulled tight, head resting on them.  He was asleep.

I let out a sigh of relief.  Well, at least he was sleeping now instead of pacing the floor of his spare bedroom like he had the entire night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.  Come to think of it, I didn't think Sirius had slept an entire night since he'd arrived, over two weeks ago.  I had just turned to leave, when I heard Sirius moan.  I spun around. 

Sirius was still sleeping, but his eyes were now shut painfully tight and his grip on his knee looked almost painful.  He whimpered now, a plea for help.  I crossed the room and knelt beside him.

What could I do?  Wake him?  Let him sleep?  Sirius cried out then, shivering and my decision was made. I gently shook him and his eyes leapt open.

He was breathing hard and it took a moment before the panic in his eyes calmed.  Then he glanced at me.

"Sorry, I fell asleep." He muttered.  He ran his fingers through his long black hair distractedly.  It's still long, not as long as when he first escaped, but back to its normal shoulder length, the way he always had it in school.

"It's alright." I told him. He glanced at the pile of papers on the desk. 

"I better get back to work." he said, and pushed past me to sit in the chair.  I nodded.

"Yeah, sure."  He was shuffling through a stack when I spoke again.

"You know, Sirius, if ever you want to talk," I paused. He glanced at me.  I wondered if he misses his family.

He hadn't seen Cassi or the twins since he left Hogwarts.  He hadn't seen Addi or Mari since the second set of twins were born back in March, and even then that was for only a day. I could see he needs them, but his loyalty comes first.  That's always been the way with Sirius.  Friends and duty comes before all else. Harry is his duty, his reason for being here now. I know it and he knows it. We all do.  Still, that doesn't keep him from hurting.

"Yeah?" he prodded me on and I came out of my dream.

"I just mean, if you ever want to talk, I'm here." I told him. He nodded, not the reaction I was hoping for, and turned back to his work.

I sighed and  closed the door behind me. He still blamed himself, I could see that.  Though he'd been free for almost three years, Azkaban still held on fast to his soul. Well, damnit!  There was no way it was going to win. I wouldn't let it take him from me again.

Sirius's PoV.

I don't know why I fell asleep there, I really don't. All I know is,  one moment I was gazing at the sky through Remus's open window, and the next  I was back there, in that  horrible cell. 

At least it wasn't as bad as those dreams I'd had the night before. They were horrible. They made me way up screaming.

I'm not screaming now, but I was crying.  Whimpering softly, like the dog I am.  Until I was shaken by Remus, I had no idea that I was even free of that damn hellhole.

But when I opened my eyes, I remembered.

I remembered it all and  it hurt. The weight was back.

I saw Remus and I knew it wasn't real, but that didn't make it hurt any less.

"Sorry, I fell asleep." I mumbled, trying to convince him it was just that. He didn't look convinced at all.

"It's alright."  He told me, using that quiet voice he has when he knows you're hiding something from him.

"I better get back to work." anything is better than being forced under that look. The one he's given me so many times before, the one of worry and  disappointment. I crossed the room and slumped down in the chair. I really didn't want to go through these files. But anything was better than remembering.

"You know, Sirius,"  he paused.  I could feel his gaze on my back.  I closed my eyes and prayed he wouldn't push it,  "if you ever want to talk. I'm here." I  just nod. I didn't trust my voice to answer him. Everything would come slipping out then and he'd know, he'd know it was my fault.

He closed the door behind me and left me alone. Alone with my memories.

I had to wonder of this all consuming grief and guilt would ever go away. The cold that surrounded me  for so many years  was still there, haunting me,  pulling me under, suffocating me.

I've been through a lot in my life. I lost my mother at three days old,  and my father at thirteen.   From age thirteen to  sixteen, I lived with my grandfather who hated the sight of my sister and I,  beating the hell out of us any time we stepped out of line, which for me, being quite a rebellious kid, was all the time. I hid that fact from my friends for almost four years until, one night, it went too far and we had to leave.  It was to Remus's I came. James was out of town, so I came to him.

God, he was so angry, James too, when they found out.  Remus  was angry with the both of us for not telling. He even lectured Addi on it, I heard, saying that he'd told her his darkest secret, but she'd kept hers from him, and  how did that work in their relationship? Yes,  good old Moony was dating my twin sister.

I wish them the best, I always have.  But then I had Erin. Now Erin was an angel. Long blond hair, blue eyes. She was gorgeous and kind all at the same time.  But I lost her to Voldemort.  Just as I lost my parents.  Erin  was killed in our seventh year, on my seventeenth birthday.  She was murdered trying to save me from a deadly curse.  The guilt from that still  makes me wince and my  heart twist.

And then there was Mari.  My wife now, and the most beautiful loving  perfect woman I could ever ask for.  But she's got a temper, she does.  We used to get into so many fights, still do.  God, I love her though. But I feel horrible. We'd not had four years of marriage when I was hauled off to Azkaban, leaving her to raise our kids alone.

Now even though I'm on the run, I have five, count 'em, five beautiful children.  Cassi, she's the oldest,  at fourteen, people always say she looks just like me, which I suppose she does. She's got my  black hair and eyes and a knack for mischief. I love her so much.  Then there are the twins, James and Remus, they were born when I was in prison. But they allowed me, the courtesy, my lip curls when I think of this, of naming my own children. Jamie and Remy,  we call them. Perfect mixes of Mari and I, they are.  Jamie has my hair, but Mari's eyes. and Remy has my eyes but Mari's hair.   Then comes Orion. He was born the year I escaped, after I hid out at Mari's a for a few weeks.  He looks like Dad too, with the green eyes that are a recessive trait in my family, and red hair from his mother, not to mention the kindness of  his grandfather too.

Then there are the newest additions, the second set of twins.  So far, Cassi is the only girl.  The new twins, Gemini and Polaris,  are barely three months old.  I saw them once, only once, and I miss them so much.  I've missed too much of my children's lives.  At least I got to see Cassi and the twins at Hogwarts.  But it's not enough.

It's never enough. I pulled my legs up onto the chair and pulled my arms around them. I had no intention of going back to work, not now when  this guilt is pounding in my veins, every heartbeat reminding me, torturing me,  taunting me. James's laugh, Lily's voice, Harry's  small cries as he totted around their  beautiful home. "Pafoo!"  that's what he screamed as he rushed into my arms every time we came over.   James would grin proudly and Lily  would smile and he'd wrap his strong arms around her and they'd hold each other, watching proudly as I tossed their son into the air.  I stole that from them, I did. I stole their lives from them, by  my own foolishness

I never used to cry. Never.  But now the tears flowed.

Remus's PoV

It is late when I give up trying to sleep. No, not late. Early.  The sun had not even begun to rise and won't do so for hours. I hope Sirius is sleeping, though I doubt that was true.

My worry rises and I slip out of bed and go to the window.  The moon was only a quarter, it wouldn't be full for days. A week, even. 

I sigh.  Sirius's problems are weighing more and more heavily on my shoulders. I know something was wrong.  Even though thirteen years had passed, I know him better than I knew myself. I'd seen him go through so much.

But this time, it is worse. It's even worse than that month in which he'd lain in the infirmary, unmoving after the attack on him and us by Voldemort. . We were all so worried, but when he awoke  it was better.  But then in the weeks following,  you could see the guilt  riddled in his features. I know the look he now wears.  It was that look. The look of complete and agonizing guilt.

I hear a noise downstairs, like something falling. Pulling on my robes, I go down the stairs to check.  I wonder if Sirius was up.

As I cross the hall and enter the kitchen, I see a dark shape standing, silhouetted against the moonlight entering from the window. It's Sirius. 

His features are chiseled in pain, his eyes shut tight.  His hand clasped around the handle of a….

A gun!  The gun I knew I should have gotten rid of when I bought this house.   But that thought fades as Sirius raises the gun slowly.

"NO!"

Sirius's PoV

I woke up screaming again.  I dreamed they found me and dragged me away. And Remus, and Mari and Addi and Harry were there, all condemning me.  Even Lily and James refused to help me and stared disgustedly at me.

"You killed us, Sirius." James told me.  And I woke up screaming.

The darkness is overwhelming, but I know where I was. Remus's couch. Not Azkaban with it's bloody cold and torture. Not that small suffocating cave. Remus's…

I have to get up.  I have to move.  The darkness is crushing in on me.  I feel lost, alone, but maybe it's just this heart-wrenching, mind twisting guilt that is making it hard to breath.

I stumble to the kitchen, looking for something, anything to make the pain stop.   I just want it to stop, to end so I don't have to see Remus's face when he thinks of James and Lily, or Harry's when he thinks about the parents he never had. All because of me.

I knock into something, a small table.  The drawer falls open.  Out falls something hard and metallic.

Slowly, I bend to pick it up.  I know what it is. I was raised a muggle, I know muggle weapons. Hell, I was trained with them. And I can see this is a muggle gun.  I have to wonder what is it doing in Remus's house. But then, he did say he'd bought the house only recently and   that the previous owner had left loads of his things behind. This was probably one of them. 

 It's been so long since I've handled a gun. I used to all that time. I was good with guns.  They were my trademarks.  If a Death Eater was found murdered with a bullet, people knew who'd done it. My, or should I say Cerberus's reputation was widely known.  I turn it over and check. It's loaded. I wonder if Remus knows that either. 

I can just picture him, "Put it down, Sirius! You'll put an eye out."  But James would just grin and say,

"What do you do with it? Can I try?"  James was full of curiosity when it came to muggle things. 

Just thinking of James causes my heart to contract and  the  squeezing in my chest tightens. 

I have to  end the pain, now. I study the gun in my hands. It would be so easy.  Just reach up and pull the trigger.  That would end everything.  Then everyone would be  much better off, knowing I was gone.

My hand tightens. Can I do it? I think of my kids, my wife, and my sister.  They've managed so far.  They don't need me, they don't want me.  This would free Mari from the horrible bond I  have her in. She'd be free to  date, turn her life around, and start fresh. Not be tied to a wretched excuse of a man who can't even spend more than a week with her.

My heart is pounding. It's the only sound in the whole house.  Slowly, I stare at the moon.

Only a week till it'll be full.

My decision is made now. Slowly, I raise the gun until it is resting against my temple.  I close my eyes, then…

"NO!"  My eyes are wrenched open as Remus grabs the gun.   I fight him for it.  I'm stronger than he is, but he's faster.

He wrenches it from my grip and tosses it out the open window as if it were about to explode.

But it doesn't, so I do.

"What the hell are you doing!" I scream at him. He looks shocked then yells right back,

"What am I doing? What were you doing? Trying to kill yourself? Why, Sirius? Why?  Are you mad?"  His eyes are wide, and I see something in them. Fear, anger, horror, regret.

I can't stand his gaze and I turn away. The  crushing weight is doubling now and I can barely stand. I cannot breathe!  I see a knife, laying on the counter, reflected in the pale moonlight.  One cut, and that would be it.  It would all be over. All over. God, the weight is crushing me!  I have to stop it!

I make a dash for it, but Remus is too fast. He grabs my arm and pulls me back, causing me to slip and fall.  I  curl up in a ball against the  cabinets. Maybe if I  curl up small enough,  he'll go away.

I close my eyes. but I jerk when I feel his hand  touching my shoulder. 

"Sirius?" I try to  shove him away. But he won't leave.

'Sirius, what's wrong?"

"No," I mumble. "Leave me alone, please."

'Never, Padfoot.  I'll never leave you alone."  He says, gently.  I open my eyes and he's there,   smiling gently.

It's too much.  I  break down. All my  reserves come crashing down and the  sobs come.  I bury my face in Remus's offered shoulder and I  cry. All I know is Remus is there, that's all I need right now.

Remus's PoV

He's standing there, the gun in his hands,  pointing at his head.  No! he's not actually thinking about! No!  The wolf in me springs to action before the human can realize what's going on.

I reach him just as his finger tightens and I  wrench the gun out of his grasp. He goes for it again, a crazed look in his eyes and I  force him back.   Then I toss it out the window.  At least he can't get it there.

"What the hell are you doing?" he yells at me. Fury  builds in me.

"What am I doing?" I shout back, "What were you doing?  Trying to kill yourself?" His eyes still have that crazed glassy look, the one that's not really Sirius,  he is  staring at me, looking  so scared.  I have to understand, I have to know. What makes my best friend feel so  alone that he feels there is no other way?

"Why, Sirius? Why? Are you mad?" I'm still angry.  He opens his mouth, then closes it again.  He's looking around the room, desperate now. His eyes fall on the knife. The long one, I used to make our sandwiches this morning.   He moves to it, but I pull him back.  He stumbles and falls.  I move to help him, but he curls up into the smallest ball imaginable. His shoulders are shaking.  It's strange how such a tall lanky man can  curl up into such a small ball.

"Sirius?"  I ask, reaching out to touch his shoulder.  He  flinches and pulls away.  But I don't give up.

"Sirius, what's wrong?"

"No," I hear him say, his voice muffled by his arm, "Leave me alone, please." There is a pleading tone to his voice I don't like. It scares me. It's not Sirius.

"Never." I tell him, meaning every word, "I'll never leave you alone."

He  glances at me, and I try to smile reassuringly.  Then he scrambles up and  clings to me and begins to sob. I can only hold him close,  feeling every  shattering sob wrenched from his throat.

It is a long time before he stops.

Sirius's PoV

The morning light awakens me. I open my eyes to find myself laying on my  couch bed.  Funny, I think. I thought I was in the kitchen.

Then the memories of  last night rush into my mind.

Oh God! Remus must think I'm a coward now. He knows it now. 

As if summoned by my thoughts, Remus enters, bearing a tray of food and two cups, along with a small smile.

"Morning." He says, rather cheerfully.  I gaze at him fearfully, then  scramble to my feet.  The dog in me  whimpers for  some sort of escape.

"Sit down, Sirius, and eat." Remus orders with the tone of someone telling a dog to sit. I  do, watching him,  the dog apprehensive.  After I finish the sandwiches and tea, he sighs.

"Sirius, we need to talk." Oh God, here it comes. I close my eyes.

"Why?" just the one word, why.  It just takes that to make my hand start shaking again.

I close my eyes.

"Just tell me what you're thinking."  He says quietly.  I take a long breath, trying to steady myself.

The pain is still there, crushing and  suffocating me, but the desire to  end it is no longer there. I say the one thing to Remus I know  will tell him everything.

"It's my fault."  Tears leak out. God, I haven't cried this much in my life.  But now that I've started, I can't stop.

"It's my fault they died. I shouldn't have  tried to change it. I should have let it go,  shouldn't have changed. I never should have told them to use Peter.  It's my fault.  It's my fault they died, and that Harry doesn't have them. It's my fault you had to leave Hogwarts, both times.  It's my fault you and Addi  never settled down, I left Mari with the kids, I left you alone, I did it all, Moony! It's my fault!"  The words are ripping out of me just as  sobs  begin their turn.

"Sirius, look at me." I can't. I turn away.

"It wasn't your fault."  He says. I shake my head.  He  grabs my shoulder and forces me to look at him, but I avoid his eyes.

"It wasn't your fault."  It's more forceful now.  I still refuse to look at him and he grabs my face and forces me to look right in his eyes.

"It wasn't your fault." I can't tell him.  I know it is.  I know.

"It was, Moony. It was-"  he interrupts me.

"It. Wasn't. Your. Fault." He says each word slowly, meaning every bit of it.  I frown.   For years, I have gone by the belief that it is. That everything could have been prevented if only I hadn't been a fool.  Now a hint of doubt creeps into my analogy.

"Say it."  he tells me. 

"But it was-"

"Say it!" he growls.

Then slowly, as if saying these four words is draining me of all the strength I possess, I speak.

"It wasn't my fault."

Remus's PoV

I  helped him back to his bed that night and covered him up. I prayed the dreams would leave him alone tonight, and thankfully they did.

I slipped out only for a minute, to make some lunch later. And when I return, Sirius is awake.

"Morning," I say. He glances at me, then realization dawns. He remembers.  He leaps off the couch and  looks around franticly. I can practically see  the dog in him urging him to run.

I sigh. "Sit, Sirius." If he wants to be a dog, I'll treat him like a dog, "Sit down and eat."  He obeys, but I can see his eyes  glancing to the door far too often.

When he's done, I take the tray  back. When I return, he hasn't moved.  I sit down across from him in a chair.

"Sirius, we need to talk." I see panic in his eyes. not the crazed look from last night,  just a flight instinct he's visibly fighting.  He knows this is it.

"Why?"  Just the one word makes his panic build.  The wolf in me,  only just beginning to show this time of month, can smell the fear on him. I continue.

"Tell me why." I say, "Tell me. I need to understand."  He shakes his head.

"Just say what you're thinking." I try to smile encouragingly at him. He takes a deep breath, and closes his eyes as he begins.

"It's my fault."  That one sentence makes it all clear. God, he still doesn't think that. Does he? I wonder.  He can't.  He knows it was Peter, he knows I don't blame him. Or does he?  That wild look in his eyes last night frightened me.  But he's not done.

"It's my fault they died. I shouldn't have  tried to change it. I should have  let it go,  shouldn't have changed. I never should have told them to use Peter.  It's my fault.  It's my fault they died, and that Harry doesn't have them. It's my fault you had to leave Hogwarts, both times.  It's my fault you and Addi  never settled down, I left Mari with the kids, I left you alone, I did it all, Moony! It's my fault!"   He's crying again.

I have to make him understand! I have to beat it into his head if all else fails! I owe it to James, Lily, Mari, Addi, Harry.  I owe it to Sirius. Goddamnit, I owe it to myself!  I cannot, will not lose  my last best friend. I can't be the only one left again. I refuse!

"Sirius, look at me." He turned away, his shoulders shaking. I try again. 

"It wasn't your fault."  I tell him. He shakes his head.  He has to understand, he has to!

"It wasn't your fault."  It came out as more of a growl than I meant to. But he's not  looking at me.  I grab his arm and pull him around, making him face me.

"It wasn't your fault." I repeat. He shakes his head. 

"It was, Moony. It was-"  God! I want to just slap him and force him to say it.  I make him look me in the eye.

"It. Wasn't. Your. Fault." I pronounce each word, slowly. Then he frowns, as if he's thinking about something. Good, Sirius, think it over. Understand.

"Say it."  I tell him.  He glances at me.  

"But it was-"  I cut him off. I don't want to hear it.

"Say it!" I growl. Then softly, so softly, I can barely hear, he says the words.

"It wasn't my fault." 

Sirius's PoV

That night I slept soundly for the first time in years. I had one dream, only one. I'll never forget it?

I was sitting on my bed, back in Hogwarts.  I  saw the curtains be dragged aside and Remus, James, and Peter, leapt onto my bed.  They were laughing. They didn't look a year over sixteen.

"We missed you, Padfoot." James  told me.

"Sorry." I said.

'Don't worry about it. Everyone gets  colds." Remus said, grinning.

I smiled. Then James grinned.

"Happy Birthday!" He tossed a small brown wrapped package  at me.

"It's too bad, you're sick on your birthday." Remus said, "But we got you a gift anyway."

"Your real party will wait till you get better." Peter said, grinning.

"Wormtail!" James and Remus yelled at him. I grinned, getting the feeling he wasn't supposed to say anything. 

"Go on. Open it." Remus told me.  I tore off the paper, and found a small photo frame.  It was bordered with  iron casts of dogs, deer, wolves and rats.  Set in the bottom were the words, Together forever, never apart. Maybe in distance, but never at heart.  Our motto.

Then I saw the picture.  It was of all six of us, taken  two years ago on the beach.  James, Remus, Peter, Lily, Erin, Addi and I all grinned at the camera, waving energetically. 

I smiled, slowly.

"You guys are the best."

"Well, you'll never forget us."  James said, smiling.  Then his face changed.  He was older,  twenty now.  We were standing outside his home in Godrics Hollow. Lily was waiting for him in the doorway, her arms wrapped around Harry.

James  looked at me long and hard.

"Friends never say goodbye, Sirius. They only say hello."  My throat was tight and I couldn't speak.

Then Lily came up to him. "It's not your fault, Sirius."  She said, in her beautiful voice.  She reached up and kissed me, once on each cheek. James smiled.

"Take care of Moony and Harry for me. We trust you, Padfoot." He told me. One look in their eyes and I know.  I know I am forgiven.  I smile. Then I close my eyes.

When I open them, I see Remus sitting in that damned old rocking chair. He's sleeping. He has insisted on sleeping in the same room with me since it happened.  But he doesn't have to worry anymore. 

"I will, James. I promise.  I'll take care of Remus and Harry.  I swear."  And I intend to keep my promise. As long as I have my friends and my family, I'll survive. For now, I have Remus. And that is all I need.

Remus's PoV

 A few days after everything calmed down a bit, I called Mari and he spoke to her for a long time.  She visited, brining all the kids.  That helped some, along with letters from Harry, and  Addi, who reassured him  they didn't blame him in the slightest.

We have a long way to go.  Sirius  still blames himself sometimes. But  he's getting better. I can see the weight of guilt is gone, no longer crushing him as it did.  It's almost as if he's had some sort of  forgiveness.  I hope so.  It's a small step on this long road he  walks, but at least he won't be alone.

My friend is back. Al last, after all these years, I'm not alone anymore. And that is all I need.