A/N: Well, it's been almost a year since I left Remus and Sirius alone in that flat together and, believe it or not, it has actually taken me that long to recover! For a very long time I considered writing something else, something that would continue the story where I left off in "Sleeping With Ghosts" but for a LONG time the story was lost to me. However, due to my perhaps unhealthy attachment to the characters of Sirius and, in particular, Remus I found that I just couldn't leave some things untold...
So here it is. A sequel to both "Without You, I'm Nothing" and "Sleeping With Ghosts." I hope you enjoy reading it. If you are new to these stories welcome! And, if you are one of those oh so faithful readers that stuck with me until "The Bitter End" then I thank you SO much. I just hope that this lives up to your expectations.
Much thanks to my wonderful housemate and beta, Megan, who listens to me prattle on about Remus/Sirius more than most people would tolerate. Thank you to Rosie whose unwavering support helped me on Mugglenet. Thanks to SomethingBorrowed whose words of encouragement inspired me.
Years have passed. Things have changed. Somethings cannot be forgotten. As Voldemort returns and the Second War begins two old friends try to understand their new place in an uncertain world. But is it enough to hope or will that which both Sirius and Remus have struggled to retain and recapture be destroyed once and for all?
Post GoF. Set during OotP. No DH/HBP spoilers. WARNING: Slashy undertones abound!
Disclaimer: I am merely the puppet master. No need to sue!
The world had waited, although not for long. In that week Remus knew, perhaps for the first time, what it was to sleep deeply. Every morning Remus found himself waking much earlier than the man beside him - a man he thought would never share his bed again - and he would turn on his side to regard the face of his friend.
"Sirius?" Remus had whispered on one occasion in an attempt to discern whether or not he was truly asleep.
"I'm sleeping," had been Sirius' curt but drowsy reply.
Unbeknownst to Sirius Remus had smiled then, turning away and pulling the blanket up around himself before drifting back to sleep. He had been woken later that morning by the sound of running water from the bathroom beyond, and by Sirius singing some vaguely familiar song that Remus remembered from the past.
Sirius had tried his best to convince Remus that he should be allowed to leave the flat, if only once. Remus point blank refused.
"I just don't think it's a good idea," Remus said, grabbing his virtually empty wallet and keys from the side. He turned to find Sirius, palms resting behind him, leaning back against the table.
"But I've been on the run for months without anyone having seen me…"
"Apart from all those sightings in Hogsmeade two years ago; not to mention the fact that you were nearly recaptured and taken back to Azkaban…"
Sirius tossed his head and said with a flippant wave of his hand, "But since then I've been more careful, haven't I? I was hiding in a cave above Hogsmeade for a good while this year and no-one knew I was there. Well, asides from Harry…and Hermione…and Ron…" Remus raised his eyebrows as Sirius nodded his head before conceding, "…and I think maybe that the old witch that lives in that tumbledown old place by the railway might have seen me once or twice…" Remus' hand was on the door handle. "But only as a dog, mind you!"
"You can't be so reckless, not now," Remus chided, prompting a predictable sigh from Sirius. Remus shut the door he had only partially opened and, moving back into the room, pressed on, "It could be more dangerous than you realise. Not only will the Ministry be keen to rectify the situation that enabled you to escape twice, but I'm sure that Voldemort's followers won't hesitate in trying to avenge themselves on the man who has, for many years, been credited with the glory of betraying the Potters."
At this Sirius looked up and Remus realised that what he had just said could have caused more pain than he had intended. He had unwittingly reminded both of them of not only the death of their friends but also of the role their misplaced mistrust had played in their demise.
For the moment, at least, Sirius seemed unwilling to let these thoughts disturb the tentative relationship that was beginning to develop between the two old friends. Instead, he took a step away from the table he had been resting against and tried to reason, "Most of those followers being locked safely away in Azkaban."
"They thought you were locked safely away in Azkaban…" Remus once more opened the door. "Yet here you are."
Sirius laughed shortly. "I think you're under-estimating what it took to escape."
Remus acknowledged the truth of this by not pursuing the subject any further. Jingling his keys in his hand he asked, "Is there anything in particular you want?" Sirius had shrugged noncommittally before sinking down into the low, patchy sofa.
That had been the only occasion when Sirius had seemed restless. On the other days he appeared more than happy to lounge on Remus' furniture, to leaf through his old magazines and books and to laugh as he rifled through Remus' record collection.
"Some things never change," Sirius said, indicating with his hand Remus' taste in music.
But some things had altered irrevocably and Remus had yet to get used to Sirius' more than casual way of coming up behind him and running his hands over his shoulders. He had started as though electrocuted one morning when he had been standing at the sink washing up the things left from the previous night's dinner as Sirius had crept up behind him to rest his chest against his back. In his surprise Remus had left the tap running and as Sirius had leant against him he had forgotten, only to be reminded by Sirius saying "Careful, Moony" before the water that had rapidly filled the sink slopped onto the floor.
Some days Remus felt as though he could have almost have imagined what had happened between them since Sirius had returned. They would sit together, Remus reading and Sirius pretending to, just like he used to do. They would play games; Sirius found a Muggle chessboard in the cupboard on the landing of the communal stairs and, although he professed it was in no way as exciting as Wizard's Chess, they would sit opposite one another at the kitchen table, playing as they would have played when they were young.
"You're cheating," Remus informed him, observing the manoeuvre that Sirius had obviously been trying to disguise.
"No I'm not," Sirius had tried to deflect, feigning nonchalance.
"Yes you are. You know, as well as I, that bishops can't move like that."
"Muggle chess," Sirius began, interrupting his words as he took a drink. "Different rules."
Remus laughed softly to himself before reaching across the chess board to move Sirius' bishop back to the place it had just forsaken.
Maybe it was moments like this - moments when Remus was warmly reminded of the way things had been between them before having been warped by suspicion - that made other moments feel so clandestine. Maybe this was why Sirius had developed a habit of catching Remus so unawares? If Remus was sat at a table, bent low over the Daily Prophet, he could sense when Sirius opened the door behind him before he heard it; he could feel Sirius' eyes on the back of his neck. When he was shaving in the bathroom and Sirius entered without knocking and had reached to retrieve his toothbrush Remus' nerves had been on edge, simultaneously hoping and fearing the moment when Sirius' arm would brush up against his. Those things hadn't changed at least, Remus thought to himself. If he was honest with himself, and the past few days seemed an appropriate time to start being that, then Remus knew that this had always been the way between them: Sirius teasing, toying, tempting, always furtive, and Remus attempting to remain composed, struggling to remain suppressed, adamant every time that it would take more than flirting for him to relinquish control.
But it was no longer just a question of Sirius' flirting and when the night would return and Remus removed himself to the bedroom, replacing parchment and ink to the desk with the broken leg, he could sense Sirius' presence at his bedroom door more distinctly than he could during the day. His composure was threatened more by Sirius advancing towards him and closing the door behind him so the room descended into dark, than by lingering looks.
He tried to find the words to make Sirius hesitate but they swiftly escaped him as he became conscious of how little distance remained between them. He tried to move back in a fruitless attempt to evade the situation but instead he realised that he had nowhere to go. His legs bashed back against the legs of the desk and he stumbled backwards, knocking books, parchment slipping to the floor, as he reached behind him to steady himself and to turn on the light.
"Wait…wait…" Remus was flustered and the desk and the lamp-light rocked.
"Wait?" Sirius queried darkly. His eyes were fixed on Remus'.
"Y…yes…" Remus was breathless as he felt Sirius run his hands towards the collar of his shirt. Sirius smiled that infuriating smile which always told Remus that he had won. With that smile Sirius shook his head and said, "I'm not waiting Remus" before kissing him.
That kiss stole every protest that Remus' mind had tried to form and he could no longer discern whether or not this was what he wanted as Sirius' hands found their way through his hair. In a matter of moments Remus realised that all his questions would soon find an answer in Sirius…and his incessant mouth…his unforgiving hands that would make him relent and fall back on the bed in a tumble of limbs and sheets. And then there would be no more objections, the totality of night would give way to the feebleness of day, and Remus would cease to think altogether.
Reviews and opinions eagerly encouraged! xxx