Title: The Course of Love, in Letters
Rating: I'm thinking PG-13, or T, only because it's slash, has a questionable word thrown in here and there and is so very angsty.
Disclaimer: Sirius & Remus aren't mine. They belong to the incomparable JK Rowling. That being said, I've taken them out to play for a while, though they might hate me in the end...
Pairing: Sirius/Remus, with a dash of Remus/Tonks at the end... keeping with canon, of course.
Summary: Begins in 1982 with a letter from Remus to Sirius and continues through the years to the end of the second war, two other letters marking the passage of time. Written from three points of view. The last one's not the one you think.

A/N: This has been sitting on my desktop in some form for awhile and just begged to be finished. Still don't feel like it's done but couldn't mess with it any longer as I'm in the middle of another fic (which refuses to come out of my head in any coherent form. Ugh! Just had to get that out.) Not betaed, sorry if the grammar's off.

Warning: This is slash. If the idea of boy love bothers you, then perhaps you should click the back button. If not, read on...:)

'For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.'

William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Act 1 scene 1

The letter begins, simply enough, with a name – a name that Remus has tried to erase, unsuccessfully, from his mind. It is a name he no longer says out loud, only utters desperately, like a prayer, in his sleep. The letter bears no date, no address, no other formal trappings. It is simply a name on a page, followed by words that have been pinging around in his head.

He writes the letter one morning after a year of sleepless nights and months of mental composition. He's written it after weeks of tears and sobs, months of agony and despair and a year of madness, his life shrouded in an alcoholic, blood-soaked full moon haze. He writes it as a last resort. He writes it for something – anything – to do. He writes it because he needs a way to begin to climb out of the hole he's fallen into since the day James and Lily died.

The letter to his lover, short, pleading, angry, regretful, is barely legible. It says almost nothing of what he wants to say, holds no deeper meaning in the words he's written, yet says entirely too much for his liking. It is a feeble attempt to make sense of things and he knows it doesn't matter – just words on a page. Still, he writes it. He sends it via owl but he never expects or wants a response. At least that's what he tells himself, what he tells his former lover.

Remus imagines Sirius in his cell in Azkaban, sitting in the dark among the rotting corpses of the other prisoners, still breathing despite the dead look in their eyes, still alive but barely, the letter – hls letter – in his hands.

Those same hands, with long lithe fingers, once caressed him, held him, made him come. Those same hands that wielded the wand that killed a dozen innocent people, that killed one of his oldest friends, those were hands that knew his body well. Those were hands that touched him gently, fingertips skimming over scarred flesh, bringing every nerve ending to life with the single stroke of a thumb. Hands that dug into his flesh, leaving delightful bruises on his pale skin, bruises that marked Remus as his, always his, forever his.

He imagines those hands holding the letter in the feeble light of the moon, dull grey eyes scanning the words, pale lips moving soundlessly, as Remus' words come to life.

Sirius, it begins, I don't know what's possessed me to write you, I don't know if you'll even get this letter, if you'll read it, if you'll want to. I've spent the last year of my life asking myself why? Why did you do it? Why did you join the other side? I've spent countless nights alone asking myself how I couldn't have seen it, how I couldn't have known, if I just didn't want to see. I've spent the last 367 days mourning the loss of my friends, the loss of you. I still keep asking myself if I could have stopped you.

I find myself questioning everything you ever said to me, every kiss, every caress, every whisper. I find myself wondering if you ever really meant any of it… of course you didn't. How could you? You're one of them – pureblood, royalty, Death Eater.

Killer.

If you weren't where you are, you'd probably be laughing at, or disgusted with, this letter from your lycan lover, your filthy half-breed monster. For all I know, you probably are. For all I know… I don't really know you at all, do I? Did I ever? Was any of it real?

I haven't been able to breathe properly for a year. Every time I try to take a deep breath, I find myself struggling for air. It's as if there's a vice around my lungs, constricting them painfully. I think it's you. I wish it would stop. I know you can't make it stop, I doubt you would even care to, but I need it to stop. I need to be able to live breathe.

I hate myself for missing you. I hate myself for mourning you the way I've mourned Lily, James and Peter. You don't deserve it, perhaps you never did.

If I could cut you out of my mind and from my heart, I would take the knife and happily slice you away until every last lingering feeling for you was gone. If I had the guts, I would Obliviate myself until every memory of every touch, every kiss, every moan had faded away. If I had the bollocks I'd end it all and put myself out of this misery. But I can't. No matter how hard I try…

Damn, you Sirius. You bastard. You utter fucking bastard. I hate you. I fucking hate you. Why did you ever touch me? Why did let me believe you loved me, why did you let me fall in love with you? Why did you let me think that we would be together for years to come, when you were planning to do what you did? Why? They were your friends. James was like your brother. But I guess that doesn't mean much. It never did with your own flesh and blood.

I should have known what you were capable of. I witnessed what you did to your own brother that time in seventh year and I never told a soul. Never. If James had known that on top of trying to have me kill Snape a year earlier, you tried to do away with your own brother as well, I doubt he would have stood by you. He would have been able to see what you really were, even if I couldn't. But I covered for you, like I always did, and James nor Peter never knew what you did to Regulus. I covered up the most inexcusable behaviour and I did it for all the wrong reasons. I didn't want you angry with me. I didn't want to let you go. I didn't want to lose you, no matter how despicable your actions. Even now, I think, if I'd known you were on the other side, I might not have done anything to stop you. Not if you continued to be with me, loved me, fucked me, promised to stay with me at every full moon until the day I died.

I hate myself for that most of all.

I don't think I'll ever write you again. I don't think I can. I need to get on with my life, such as it is, if only to spite you.

Don't write back. I doubt you'd want to, or if you even can. I don't want to know what you have to say, despite what this letter suggests. I can't fathom having to read your excuses or lies or worse, your boasting. I just want you out of my life, dead and buried, for good.

Goodbye.

xXx

Sirius sits in his cell, a room only slightly larger than a roomy cupboard, the letter in his hands. They are shaking, like he imagines Remus must have been when he wrote it, the shaky penmanship giving his lover away, but the thought doesn't give him any comfort. It only makes things worse. For a year he's been in this cell, surrounded by three cold, grim stone walls and a set of iron bars that lets his captors watch him, and feed off him, easily. For twelve months he's been wondering how Remus is doing, if he's safe, if he hates him, if he's still even alive. For 369 days he's been staving off Dementors, trying to hold on to his last vestige of sanity while being aware of slowly going mad. For all this time, he's been clinging to the one thought the Dementors don't know what to do with, the thought – the knowledge – of his innocence. This knowledge is the worst kind of torture, worse than Dementors feeding off his memories, worse than being in the prison tower of Azkaban in the middle of the North Sea, worse than knowing James and Lily are dead. This knowledge, this one simple truth, brings other truths to mind, and the endless cycle of torture continues.

He will never again see James and Lily again, never hold baby Harry in his arms. He will never again feel Remus' lips on his. He will never again touch the pale, weatherworn skin at the nape of his neck. His lips will never brush against his soft, stubbly cheek, never graze the spot, just below his Adam's apple, which hollows ever so slightly and in which Sirius' bottom lip fits perfectly, like God himself carved out that tiny niche just for him.

Never again.

Sirius' slight body begins to shudder with suppressed sobs as his eyes scan the page once more, the words like a million tiny daggers to the heart. He is unaware at first of the cold sensation that creeps up on him until it is too late. A Dementor is at his cell, rattling breath and stench coming through the bars. Sirius pushes himself into the farthest corner in vain. No matter what he does, no matter how much he fights it, it will happen. Today, it will happen. The cold dread will creep up his spine and invade his brain and the memories, the ones he's been pushing away, pushing down, burying deep in his psyche, those memories will come alive.

And they do.

Sirius can see the house in Godric's Hallow, looking perfectly ordinary save for the gaping hole in the side, exposing the sitting room, with its beige settee and matching loveseat, the mahogany dining table tucked away near the end. It looks exactly like he'd seen it last. The only difference is the rubble that sullies the pristine floor, the dust and debris from the imploding wall that invades every surface. Sirius sees it in his head as if he's seeing it again for the first time and the jolt of shock, followed by the wave of panic as he dashes into the hole screaming James' name hits him and knocks him to his knees. He collapses painfully onto the damp, hard stone floor, pain jolting him back to reality.

It's not real, he tells himself desperately as the images continue to flash in his mind, it's not happening now, you're not there, but the knowledge that it did – it happened – pervades his own desperate pleading and renders his attempt at control useless.

The sight of James' broken body, lying twisted at the top of the stairs, his glasses askew and his eyes wide in horror makes him wretch. But still, it doesn't stop. He is barely aware of the raspy sound of his own cries as the images continue to play in his head like a horror film he can't look away from. Lily lies at the threshold of Harry's room, her prone body draped gracefully across the foot of the crib. She looks like she could be simply sleeping and he turns her over, gently prodding her side, but the burn mark on the front of her dress, the singed cloth across her chest melted into her skin, tells a brutally different story. Sirius wretches once more at the memory of the smell of burnt flesh, the feel of cold, pale skin, as Harry's cries reverberate in his head, and seem to echo off the walls of his cell. Harry's baby voice is wailing, keening, high and nasally at first, then deep and rough. It goes on and on and desperately, Sirius gasps for air and the keening ceases and he's jolted back to the present once more. The images begin to fade, though the feelings linger, as the Dementor glides away.

Almost as quickly as it started, it's over, and Sirius, his bony back pressed into the corner, rough hewn stone cutting into thin, papery skin, can't figure out why. The stench of his sick is nauseating, and he attempts to move away and fumbles as two legs have suddenly become four, and his tall, thin, body has become large and furry and vertical.

He wasn't aware of the change when it happened, he never consciously thought to do it, having never in over a year – 369 days – been able to change into Padfoot.

There is a sense of something foreign in him that he cannot name, though he thinks that once he knew the feeling well. Padfoot has brought a calm over his mind and steadied his ragged breathing, slowed down his rapidly beating heart and pulled him from the clutches of the evil creatures that guard him. He closes his heavy, black lids and when he opens his canine eyes, he spies the letter, lying abandoned, on the floor. It is crumpled at the edges, torn almost in half but it is still legible. Padfoot ventures out of the dark corner, skirting the shadows of the room, then darts out to retrieve the letter, gripping it loosely between his sharp teeth, and then scuttles under the iron bed in the opposite corner, positioned under the high, barred window. To his canine eyes, the words are just scribbles on a page, and he forgets what they say, focusing on the scent that clings to the single sheet of parchment instead. It is the scent of Moony, his lover, his alpha, his wolf, his friend. It is the first familiar thing in this godforsaken place and it comforts the canine in a way only the man could understand.

Years later, when Sirius has been on the run for a year and Voldemort returns and tries to take Harry's life, and Dumbledore sends him to "alert the old crowd" and "lay low at Lupin's," the letter, the only letter he ever received in that hole, the only letter Remus had ever written him, is folded neatly in the pocket of his prison robes, close to his chest. Though the words were brutally honest and caused him such agony, the letter is the most important of his life. It was the thing that called out Padfoot from the depths of his mind, and saved him from the insanity of Azkaban, Dementors and his own guilt and loathing.

The single sheet of parchment, torn and tattered and falling apart at the folds, does not carry the scent of Remus anymore, but it is evidence of the single thought that kept him alive for a dozen years. The fact that Remus, despite believing he was a killer, that he'd betrayed them all, wrote the letter, sent it, asked difficult questions, all the while knowing he'd never get any answers – the fact that Remus confessed that he would have stuck by him if only Sirius continued to love him – all this tells Sirius another undeniable truth.

Remus had been in love with him.

As Padfoot bounds towards Remus' cottage, the letter transfigured into thick black fur but still close to his chest, close to his heart, he hopes and prays that the one undeniable truth still holds.

He hopes that Remus loves him still.

xXx

Remus is sitting in the room he's shared with his lover for close to a year, a room in a house his lover loathed, staring at the empty bed, the sheets still laying tangled and looking slept in, just the way Sirius left them the day he died. He cannot breathe, his lungs won't let in the air, and part of him prays for the vital organ to fail, shut down and let him go. But he knows it won't happen. His instinct is to survive. He's done it for fourteen years. He knows he'll have to do it now. He doesn't want to but the wolf inside won't let him give in to the grief. It is the one and only thing of which he can be sure – the wolf won't let him die. Not without a fight.

Remus closes his eyes and struggles to breathe, presses the heels of his hands over both lids as if trying to blot out the mourning howl in his head, then opens them once again. For a moment, the room is a blur of too-white light but slowly the intensity begins to fade, his eyes shift and focus and he sees it, peeking out from the pocket of his lover's cloak which is strewn haphazardly over a chair. He doesn't know what it is at first, but the frayed-edged, dirty parchment beckons him and he gets up and walks slowly to the other side of the room and pulls out the paper from the fine silk robe. His heart wrenches when he realizes what it is, and he unfolds it carefully despite knowing that seeing the words will only compound the sorrow. He recognizes his own cramped cursive, barely legible, etched over the page. Tucked into the middle is another sheet, which slides out from between the worn creases and falls to the floor. He recognizes the writing, round and elegant, immediately and the bile threatens to rise to his throat as he bends to pick it up and as he examines the letter, tears begin to form in the corners of his hazel eyes. From the clean folds and crisp feel of the paper, he can tell the letter has only recently been written, as if Sirius sensed his days were numbered and he needed to make a record of his thoughts.

Remus drops into the chair, pulls the cloak off the back and drapes it over his chest and lap, the scent of his lover still fresh on the fine fabric, wafting up and over him like an invisible fog invading ever corner of his mind. He has to force himself to focus, then wipes away the lingering tears from his eyes and looks down at the words on the page.

My Dearest Remus, it begins, if you are reading this, there can only be two reasons – either you went through my pockets and found your old letter (in which case, I would say, 'Shame on you, pilfering other people's private letters,' even though you already know what it says), or I am dead, in which case I would apologize for leaving you. If it's the former, please stop reading. Now. If it's the latter, I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry. I never wanted to leave you again.

Please don't get upset that I've held onto your letter all this time. I know now that you wish you hadn't written it, that you wish you could have realized that I would never do what they accused me of doing. I know all this, and I've told you a thousand times, in words, gestures, moans and kisses, that I forgive you. I do. The letter, despite the words – or maybe because of them – has meant everything to me. The letter saved my life.

I never told you much about Azkaban. I couldn't do that to you. It was my own private hell; I didn't want to burden you with it. Now I feel the need to explain if only to ease your guilty conscience over the infamous letter, I suspect, is in your other hand.

For the first year in Azkaban, the Dementors had their way with me, fed off my misery and left me hollow, but they never were able to access the memory of that night. Stubborn mule that I am, I wouldn't let them. But your letter changed that.

(Please don't start feeling guilty until I relate the rest of the tale.)

The day I got your letter, I couldn't bring myself to read it and so I held it for hours, staring at your slanted writing, the way the end of the 'r' curves on your name, hoping, wondering, pleading with the gods that you didn't believe what they said was true. It wasn't until near midnight that I got up the courage to open it. I can't say it wasn't painful at first to read your words, to realize what I long suspected – that you did believe me capable of betrayal and murder. You asked me why over and over and I wanted to scream that it wasn't true, but my voice failed me, as did my conviction. I actually started to wonder if what they said, what you thought, could be true.

It was in this beaten-down state that a single Dementor took advantage of my weakness and was able to get to that memory. I relived the night of October 31st, 1981 for the first time since it happened in vivid detail. I wanted it to stop but I couldn't do it. I had almost surrendered to the desolate feeling when something stopped it, something changed. The despair ebbed away and the Dementor retreated and it wasn't until I moved that I realized why.

Somewhere in the middle of reliving the nightmare, your letter spoke to me. No, not me – Padfoot – and it didn't speak so much as beckon. The scent of you, the curve of your 'r' – it was familiar, comforting. That's all Padfoot needed to appear. I say it like this, as if Padfoot wasn't me but a ghost, because in so many ways that is what I, what Padfoot, had become. For a year I couldn't change into my animagus form, no matter how desperately I tried. I'd all but given up, convinced that there was some sort of spell blocking my transformation, and then your letter came and Padfoot emerged to protect me from that memory and seek comfort in the familiar.

You.

From that day on, I was able to transform by focusing on your letter. When the scent faded away, it didn't matter, Padfoot's sense memory, and mine, was still intact, and I only had to recall it in my mind to be able to change into Padfoot.

I think I spent half of my time in there as a dog. I would have spent it all but there were always house elves and Ministry slags showing up unexpectedly to drop bowls of food into my cell and inspect the prisoners like we were cattle. I had to be careful – and for the most part I was. For twelve years, I kept the secret of my animagus form from my captors. When I saw the newspaper that July almost three years ago, it sparked a fire in me. I knew I had to escape and when I did I thought immediately of you. I wanted desperately to run to you, beg you to hear me out, pray that you'd believe me. The only reason I didn't was because of the letter. I knew how much my own stupid actions had hurt you and I didn't want to do it again. I vowed to do it right this time, but as usual, I messed it up spectacularly.

That night almost a year later, when I finally had that rat in my paws and you showed up, extended your hand and embraced me, I thought that my heart would burst with happiness. To look into your eyes, your beautiful golden eyes, and see that you believed me, that you still cared… I can't describe the feeling. I wouldn't even know where to begin.

The year apart with me on the lam, was, in some ways, more difficult than the dozen I unwillingly spent apart from you. I loved you still but I wasn't sure if you still loved me, or if you'd successfully managed to 'slice' me out of your heart. Then the worst happened and I found myself clawing at your door.

That night was one of the worst nights of my life – I almost lost Harry – but it was also one of the best – I finally found you. You took me in your arms, you didn't care that I hadn't bathed in months, that I was a shadow of my former self, and you kissed me. I thought at the time, 'if I die tomorrow, it will all have been worth this moment'. I stand by that statement.

I know you feel the same way about me and now I'm gone and you're left there alone and it hurts. I can only imagine how it hurts, but you have to promise me one thing: Whatever you do, don't give in to the grief. Don't give up.

Live.

I want you to have all the happiness that you deserve, I want you to have a life that James and Lily would be proud of. I want you to have someone to love, someone who loves you back, scars and all. I want you to marry and have children and name them after your parents, or hers, and love them and protect them and raise them to be kind and caring and wonderful, just like their father. I want you to have everything I couldn't give you, everything James and Lily were never able to have.

I know that you find my request utterly ridiculous at the moment, and I suspect you may even be a little offended, but I'm not asking you to stop loving me. Merlin knows that a dozen years believing me a killer couldn't do it, I don't expect a little thing like death to break the bond between us. I just ask that you grieve for me then move on. Tonks has always fancied you. Why not give her a chance? She is beautiful, sweet, charming in a quirky way, and kindhearted. The way she looks at you, I tell you, if I weren't dead, I'd be jealous. (Okay, bad joke, I know. I just hope I got you to smile a little.)

There is so much more I want to say, but my hand is cramping and I fear that if I ramble on, I'll never stop. I have so many regrets, I've done so many things I wish I could take back, do over again, but I suspect they don't matter now. I wish I had words of wisdom, some sage advice to impart to you, my love, my friend, but I don't know how to say goodbye.

I will tell you this: if you haven't already guessed, I've loved you since we were boys and I suspect I'll continue to love you in the afterlife. I know you love me, too. It is the one sure thing in my life right now. I think it always was, I was just too dim to see it.

You, Remus J. Lupin love me, despite my many faults, despite my manic bloodline, despite the fact that I never appreciated just how much you meant to me until recently. You loved me and continue to love me and will forever love me. This thought, this truth, gives me comfort. I have been to Hades and back and I am not afraid to die. Not anymore. I know you love me and that is enough to get me through to the afterlife. Please take comfort in that.

In the words of that windy bloke you like so much, "Parting is such sweet sorrow."

In the words of that strange-looking British chap on the cover of one of Tonks' albums she let me borrow, "However far away, I will always love you."

Yours forever,

Sirius

xXx

A year and ten months later, Remus sits by the foot of his bed, the one he shares with his wife, cuddling his newborn son in his arms, and thinking about his lover. He wonders if Sirius can see him, from up above, holding his son. He wonders if he can hear his thoughts, if he can feel the joy Remus feels looking down at those tiny, chubby arms and legs, the round face no bigger than the palm of his hand, the purple lids that hide those eyes, those lovely baby grey eyes that, when they gaze up at him, leave him speechless and in awe of life, of his tiny son in his arms.

He imagines that Sirius is smiling – smugly of course – because he was the catalyst for this relationship. He brought Remus and Tonks together, and their mutual love for him – as lover and cousin – kept them together. He knows it's strange, that he doesn't deserve it, deserve her, but here he is, holding his son. Here he is, living the life that he couldn't have with Sirius, the life that James and Lily never got a chance to enjoy. He thinks of this as he holds his son, little Teddy, in his arms, and he is grateful to the gods, to fate, to Tonks – to Sirius – for the opportunity. He is grateful that he is loved.

xXx

It is a warm summer day, the sky is light blue and the clouds are wispy like fairies' wings, but Andromeda can't see the sky from her perch in her daughter's house by the fireplace – the house that until a month ago, she shared with her husband and son. This house now lies abandoned, void of her daughter's voice, her melodious ringing laugh, her colourful language and wild eccentric hair. Her sweet timbre will never again echo against its walls, her footsteps will never sound against the polished hardwood floors. The mistress of the house, Andromeda's daughter, is gone. Buried beside her husband, the man who changed her life and stole her heart.

Andromeda never approved of him. She felt he wasn't good enough for her daughter and when he abandoned her for a month after marrying her and knocking her up, Andromeda was convinced her daughter had made a terrible mistake. But then he returned, begged her forgiveness and more than made up for the month apart. He was the perfect husband, a loving father, the man her daughter always knew he could be. Andromeda never approved of him but she knows, in her heart, he loved her.

He tried to keep her safe from the maddest Black, her sister Bella. He tried to convince her to stay out of the fight, but Nymphadora, stubborn and loyal as she was, wouldn't hear of it. She went headfirst into the final battle, kissing her son on the forehead before she left and allowing Andromeda to hug her tightly and much too long before she walked away for the very last time. Andromeda never saw her daughter again. She never saw her son-in-law either. He died trying to protect her daughter. He died trying to save his wife.

Andromeda lost a lot – too much – this time. She lost her husband – her dearest Ted – she lost her only daughter, her pride and joy. She lost her cousin for the second time – this time, for good – and she lost the man she never approved of but had grown on her, her daughter's husband Remus Lupin.

Andromeda lost so much, she almost lost her will to live.

The only thing she has left is her grandson, her daughter's son Teddy. He is too young to feel the losses like she does but his life is forever changed because of them, just like hers. She doesn't know how she will begin to explain what happened to his parents once he grows old enough to ask. She has a vague idea of telling the truth, at least insomuch as they loved him and died trying to protect the wizarding – and muggle – world. But there are things she'll never say.

She will never tell him how his father was afraid and ran away when he learned that he was about to have a child, she will never tell him that she didn't like him at first, not sure she even likes him now. She will never show any sign of doubting his character, and she will never tell him that though his father loved his mother very much, he loved someone else as well.

She will never tell Teddy that his father had once been in love with her cousin, that he'd loved him for years, that when he died he loved him still. Despite being apart for over a decade, despite believing, like she did, that her cousin was a murderer, his father continued to love him, couldn't stop loving him, maybe didn't want to.

His father loved another. His father loved Sirius Black.

Andromeda sits by the empty grate, dust and ashes settled at the bottom, a bundle of letters in her hand. She found these letters hidden away in the back of a drawer in the bedroom, held together with a red ribbon knotted tightly around the worn sheets. She never meant to read them but the need to feel close to her daughter, the daughter she will never see again, overtook any sense of propriety she had. As she sits by the fireplace in her daughter's house, she wishes she hadn't.

The first letter she read was the last one written and she already knows it by heart. It is short, simple and telling – heartbreaking to a mother who has just learned her only daughter came second in her husband's heart.

My Love, it begins, I don't know why I'm writing this. I know you'll never read it but perhaps wherever you are, up above, you can hear my thoughts and hear my words. I don't know how it works. I feel that perhaps, I will soon learn. I don't know why, but I have a feeling I am not long for this life.

Sirius, I have a son. He is beautiful, perfect, named after his mother's father. His name is Teddy. Teddy Lupin. You probably already know, but I've married Tonks. I did what you asked. I gave her a chance. It took a year to let her in, but I did it. I fell in love. That doesn't mean I ever stopped loving you. You know I never could. I told her from the beginning that my heart would always be yours but she didn't seem to mind. She told me that she understood, that she too loved you, missed you, wished you weren't gone. She let me love you. She is everything you said and more, so much more. I can't thank you enough for nudging me in the right direction. I think she feels the same way.

For the first time since you've been gone, I am truly happy but I fear it will be short-lived. The war is raging all around us; Harry has disappeared, off on his own journey, off to fulfill his destiny. I never believed in destiny before, you know that, but I've been having these dreams lately that seem to point to a destiny of my own. If they're right, I may be joining you soon enough. I would hate to leave my son, my wife, but I fear the decision is not in my hands. I wanted to write Tonks a letter, a letter like the one you wrote me, the letter I keep with the one you kept for all those years that we were apart, but I can't bring myself to do it. I just don't know what I would say. Somehow, 'I love you,' is not enough. 'Thank you' seems more apt but cold. "I will be forever grateful," is simply not enough.

Tomorrow Tonks and I leave for what perhaps will be the final battle. I fear it will be mine. My only hope going into battle is to keep Tonks safe, and somehow, keep Harry alive. I don't know if I can do it, Sirius. If I can't, please know that I tried. If I can't, please be there waiting for me…wherever there is, please be there. Please.

In all this time, after so many mistakes – yours and mine – my love for you has never wavered. Even when my mind tried to forget, my heart refused. I know you'll never read this, but I had to write it anyway, if only for myself. I love you, Sirius. I always will. Then. Now. Forever.

Remus

Andromeda knows that kind of love, she shared that love with Ted, and she understands what it can do to those lucky enough to experience it. She just wishes that one of those people was her daughter. She wishes that her son-in-law's words, those heartfelt, honest words, were for Nymphadora.

But they aren't.

If they were, she would cherish the letters, and save them for their son to read when he was grown so that he would know that he was a product of that kind of love. But these letters won't give him any comfort. They were written by and for two lovers that were never really allowed to be together. Fate, society and circumstance would not let them be, and now that they are gone, she feels that keeping the letters will undoubtedly do more harm than good.

Making a quick decision (a decision she realizes she'd already made the moment she read the first letter), she points her wand at the logs sitting nestled and forgotten in the fireplace, casts a quick incendio and tosses them in. She sits silently and watches them burn.

Andromeda realizes, as the flames lick at the parchment, that her actions will not erase the truth, only bury it. Andromeda realizes, the more she thinks about it, that, not surprisingly, she understands. She doesn't want to – doesn't think it's fair to her daughter – but she cannot help but see the truth of it as if it stood in front of her, hot and alive like the flames in the hearth.

Despite the heartache of knowing that her daughter was not the love of Remus' life, she is thankful that Remus let her daughter into his heart. He gave her heartache but he also gave made the last few months of her daughter's life the most joyful. Andromeda knows in her head and her heart that Nymphadora was never happier than when she held her son in her arms with Remus by her side.

For this, she knows, she must be grateful to her cousin, despite what else she feels. He gave her daughter the love of her life by allowing the love of his to love again.

Andromeda is grateful that Sirius met Remus. If only for the brief time her daughter was happiest, if only for the tiny life that's left behind, she is grateful – will be forever grateful – that Sirius and Remus fell in love.

Andromeda sits perched on the edge of a chair, watching the dance of flames in the grate as the three letters blacken and curl against the logs and fall in ashes to the hearth – three letters that charted the course of a forbidden love.

A love so strong, it lasted through two decades, a dozen years of doubt and deception, and countless years of guilt and shame.

A love so passionate, it burned bright like the sun despite all the obstacles thrown in its path.

A love so constant it lured one to the other like the moon to the tides, survived the inevitable ebb and flow and transcended death.


Reviews would be appreciated, as this is my first foray into the realm of slash. Let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is welcome. Homophobia is not.

Cheers!