Originally posted: 25 October 2008

Title: Sfumato
Summary: "When Sirius eventually comes out, there are dark smudges on his fingertips and sides of his hands, sometimes even on his face."
Pairings: Remus/Sirius
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance
Word Count: 2 810
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of the characters; I'm just playing around a bit.
Author's Note: One day almost three weeks ago, my brain decided that writing a fic with Sirius as an artist would be a good idea. Since it wouldn't shut up about it, the fic got written. It's slightly AU, seeing Sirius by all probability doesn't know how to draw stick-figures, and because he hasn't left Grimmauld Place yet.
I wrote this "subtly" -- rather much like I wrote Rooftop -- so it's not my usual style. Thus I want to thank Pia for the incredibly fast and thorough beta, and for assuring me several times that I needn't have an anxiety attack over it.
So without further ado, please enjoy the fic!

Sfumato: \sfü-ˈmä-(ˌ)tō\ noun The definition of form in painting without abrupt outline by the blending of one tone into another.

Remus doesn't blame Sirius for what happened. Remus wasn't supposed to be in the Shack that night -- he was sick with the Fwooper Pox -- so it should have been perfectly safe, if not stupid, for Sirius to lure Snape there and hex him for being so nosy. It was just immensely bad luck that James hadn't told Sirius that Remus would spend the night in the Shack after all until after Sirius had sent Snape away. So in the end, the blame rested on all or none of them.

So why, Remus wonders, hasn't he heard anything from Sirius during the whole summer?

After the awkward meeting at Platform 9 3/4, everything goes on like it always has: James is chasing Lily, Sirius is hexing Snape and other students in Slytherin, Peter is working on his self-esteem, Remus is trying to be the responsible one and failing miserably, and together they execute pranks in a steady stream. Sirius is a bit more subdued than usual and James is a little less of a prat, but otherwise not much has changed.

Remus thinks that Sirius gaze is different than last Year, though. These days he has an almost intent look on his face when he talks to people, and he spends more time observing the things and people around him than before.

Then again, maybe Remus is only imagining things; he has, after all, always spent a little too much time watching Sirius.

Several times a week, Sirius will quite suddenly excuse himself and lock himself up in the dormitory for a couple of hours. He does it at odd hours when none of the others are in the dormitory, like when Remus is helping Peter with homework and James is at Quidditch practice. It's too well-planned to be mood-related, and also he's never angry when he leaves.

When Sirius eventually comes out, there are dark smudges on his fingertips and sides of his hands, sometimes even on his face.

"So, what should I wear?"

"Just put something on, it's no big deal."

"Of course it's a big deal! I've finally convinced Lily to go on a date with me; I have to look my very best."

"Then put a paper bag over your head."

"Sod off, Peter," James says and turns to Sirius, ignoring Peter's grin. "What do you think, Padfoot?"

Sirius rolls his eyes from his seat on his bed. After he's made himself comfortable, he looks James up and down in a scrutinizing manner.

"Dark red," he says after a few seconds. "Dark red, with a splash of brown. Firebrick, I think. Maroon?"

James looks dubiously at Sirius for a moment. Then he shrugs and turns around, digging though his wardrobe to see if he owns anything in maroon.

Remus turns to Sirius and cocks his head. "Since when did you get so good at colours?"

Sirius waves his hand in a non-committial way. "Haven't I always been?"

"Sirius," James begins when the post has arrived and a huge carton of parchments has been delivered to Sirius, "Do you eat parchment?"

Sirius, who is packing away the carton into his satchel, looks up and frowns. "No, of course not. Tastes disgusting. Why are you even asking?"

"Because I can't see any other reason for you to devour that much parchment. You barely take notes in class! What are you using it all for?" James asks and gestures wildly towards the carton with his fork. The piece of bacon that is still stuck on it comes loose and splashes down in Remus' cup of tea.

Sirius shrugs and then turns to Remus. "You got Prongs' bacon in your tea."

"Thank you, I didn't notice," Remus says dryly as he wipes away drops of splashed tea from his face.

Remus isn't sure if it's good or bad that his suddenly cancelled class is Arithmancy, seeing that Sirius, James and Peter are all stuck in Double Potion during this time. Reckoning that he can do with two hours of blissful peace, he heads back up to the Gryffindor Tower.

The door to the dormitory opens stiffly but Remus doesn't think much of it. Neither is he perplexed over the rustling sound from underneath his shoe, until he looks down at it.

Sheets of parchments are lying all over the floor. In the middle of the room there is an empty space, and thin sticks of charcoal lie nearby. Curious, Remus bends down and picks up one of the sheets.

It's a sketch of a face. At least, Remus thinks it is. Only the most fundamental features are scrawled down, such as the contours of the eyes and nose. The lips and chin, however, are carefully drawn and shaded, looking stunningly realistic. Of their own accord, Remus' fingers raise and touch his mouth. The lips in the drawing look exactly like the one he sees in the mirror every morning.

Thinking that his curiosity will one day be his downfall, Remus picks up more sheets. Most of them are sketches, but some are finished works. Drawings of James, Peter, Regulus and even Lily meet him, but the most reoccurring motive, astoundingly enough, regard him.

The door to the bathroom opens suddenly, and as Remus looks up, he sees Sirius standing in the doorway. Sirius looks stricken, his eyes wide and face pale.

Remus looks back down at the drawing, then up at Sirius, then back at the drawing again. In a soft voice, almost a whisper, he says, "You drew these, didn't you?"

Sirius' silence is more than enough of an answer.

"Mother makes me take drawing classes."

Remus looks up from his Herbology essay and over at Sirius, who is lounging on his bed. This is the first time either of them has mentioned the incident over a week ago.

"It wasn't until this summer I started enjoying them; I spent most of my time practicing in my room. I didn't dare contact any of you and..." Sirius looks down, his long curly hair like a curtain, shielding his face from view. "I didn't tell you because I was afraid you'd think it'd be a poncey thing to do."

Remus glances down at his essay. There's a spot of ink that half-covers the word sap, making it look likesop. He'll have to fix that later.

"I didn't know they were your drawings. I wouldn't have looked if I knew," he says and then lifts his head again. "I'm sorry."

Sirius nods but doesn't look up.

Remus watches him, and after a few seconds says, "You're very good."

Though Remus has trouble seeing his face, he can swear that Sirius has a small smile on his lips.

Sirius has started drawing when Remus is in the dorm. He still sneaks off at every given opportunity, but sometimes he takes out his drawing-board, parchments and charcoal pencils even if Remus is present. They don't talk much during those moments. Remus likes it that way; he enjoys sitting curled up in his bed, listening to the soft scrapings from Sirius' pencils. It's like it's their own little secret.

Remus likes it that way.

Propped up against the headboard of his bed, Remus is rereading his well-thumbed copy of Black Beauty; he has lost count on how many times he has reread it in total. Peter says he's weird, but Remus finds the familiar words and sentences comforting.

He yawns and stretches himself, his too-gangly legs threatening to slide off the bed in the process. It's late; Peter has already closed his curtains and James threw himself on his bed right after Quidditch practice, dead to the world as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Remus turns round to bid Sirius good night, but remains silent when he sees Sirius staring at him.

Sirius isn't gawking, like James tends to do, but rather his eyes fly over Remus' body, as if trying to memorize it all at once. He has that intent look on his face, and it takes him a few seconds to realise that Remus has caught him.

"Er... Good night," he mumbles and promptly rolls over in his bed.

"Good night," Remus replies to Sirius' back, before putting the book aside, extinguishing the light and drawing the curtains shut.


"Mm?" Remus struggles to pull his arms through the sleeves of his shirt, frowning down at it as he does.

"Can I... Would you mind sitting for me?" Sirius asks in a voice a little too off-handed. Remus pauses his struggle and looks up at him. Sirius is splayed across his bed with a textbook in his hands, looking to the world as if he's completely relaxed. He is, however, fiddling just a tad too much with the pages and there is as tenseness to his shoulders that seem out of place.

Remus tilts his head. "You mean, like modelling?" he asks and has a sudden mental image of himself on a catwalk, posing in a Ralph Lauren-suit. Sirius nods but doesn't meet Remus' eyes. Remus wonders for a moment why Sirius is so nervous about this, but then it comes to him: artist's models are most often posing naked. Still, he shouldn't make too much drama of it, though. It's not as if they've never seen each other naked before.

Remus looks down at his body, shrugging off his half-on shirt. He is pale and peaky, and dozens of scars cover his torso. He looks every bit of his seventeen years; awkward and too gangly, not yet grown into himself.

Remus looks up again and sees that Sirius is watching him. He makes a sweeping gesture over his body and asks with a wry smile, "Are you sure you want someone as ugly as this?"

Sirius looks at it for a moment longer and then says earnestly, "I think you're perfect, as a model."

There is a slight pause between 'perfect' and 'as' that Remus doesn't fail to miss. A small smile tugs at his lips.


It's a bit awkward at first.

Sirius is uncomfortable, and it affects Remus as well. Sirius seems to be unwilling to look at him for longer than five seconds at a time, which causes Remus to go spare about low self-esteem. It gets better after a couple of times though, and by the tenth session, it's almost as natural as everything else they do.

Sirius said it was okay to smoke this time.

Stripped down to nothing as usual, Remus half-lies in his bed, his back facing Sirius. He's not looking at anything in particular, focusing instead on the taste of the cigarette and the scraping sounds coming from Sirius' direction. Said scraping has gone from purposeful to harsh in the past few minutes.

"I can't..." Remus hears him mutter and then the scraping stops. Remus cranes his neck and looks over at him. Sirius is staring at the parchment with a frown, his teeth worrying his lower lip. Then he looks up and meets Remus' eyes.

"Could I... Would it be okay if I..." Sirius makes some vague gestures towards Remus, still holding the charcoal pencil. "It... would be easier if I knew how it feels."

Remus watches him as he thinks, contemplates, and his glance slides down to Sirius' hands. They're smudged with charcoal, making his pale skin a sickly grey. After a few seconds, Remus nods.

Sirius puts aside his materials and gets up from his seat; Remus turns his head back and closes his eyes. He becomes much more aware of the cigarette in his mouth and the soft nearing footsteps. They stop right behind him, and as the bed dips from a another weight, Remus holds his breath.

Hot hands touch his always too cool skin. Sirius' fingers feel their way down Remus' shoulders and down to his last ribs, leaving warm imprints that cool off all too fast. Hands trail the line of his spine, the contour of his shoulder blades, the shape of his neck. A single fervent finger touches the ridge of a scar, traces it an inch or two and then the pressure stops.

"Is this okay?" Sirius whispers, his breath fluttering against Remus' nape. Remus has to bite his tongue to keep himself from hissing, "Don't stop." Instead he nods quickly and puts out the remaining stump of his half-forgotten cigarette.

Sirius maps out the dozens of scars that covers Remus' back, taking his time with each one of them. When he follows one that ends just below his sacrum, Remus has to swallow a gasp. He wonders if Sirius realises yet what an effect he has on him, but if Sirius does, he doesn't show it.

Eventually Sirius' hands disappear and he leaves the bed, returning to his drawing-board. Remus lies still and tries to remember the warmth where Sirius touched.

It becomes their new routine. Remus strips and poses like Sirius asks him to, and Sirius will touch him to get a better feel for what he's about to draw. Most often he watches the way his deft fingers fly over Remus' body, to get a merged tactile and visual memory, but sometimes he closes his eyes and just feels.

Remus knows he enjoys all of this far too much, but he can't bring himself to care.

"I'd like to draw your face this time, if that's alright with you."

Remus pauses, and then shrugs the shirt up his shoulder again. "'Course." He sits back down on his bed, in front of Sirius. He isn't sure what to do with his hands but settles on resting them on his knees.

Sirius leans forward, grips Remus' shoulders and angles him slightly to the left. Then he places his hand under Remus' chin and tilts his head a little to the right and upwards.

"Right, that's good."

The whisper is barely audible, and Remus closes his eyes as Sirius' hands move to his face. Cautious fingers trace the arches of his brow, his cheekbones, his nose. Remus has to will himself to breathe normally. Then, when Sirius' thumb feels along the curve of his lower lip, his lips suddenly place a kiss on the finger tip.

Remus's eyes snap open and see a wide-eyed, frozen Sirius. For a few agonizing seconds, they do nothing but stare at each other, not moving an inch.

Then Sirius throws himself onto Remus, and his lips find Remus' skin, wherever he can reach; lips, cheeks, throat, ears. Remus does the same, clenching Sirius' shirt in his hands as he tries to find his lips.

"Remus," Sirius gasps against Remus' throat. "Remus, Remus."

Remus silences him with another kiss; a messy, imperfect, wonderful kiss that makes them both tug at each other's clothes frantically. Sirius' hands rush over Remus' body, as if trying to feel everything at once. It's like all those other times Sirius has touched him, Remus thinks, except that now there is an emotional intensity that wasn't there before, and it's so much better.

Sirius breaks the kiss and instead starts kissing down Remus' throat and chest. "Finally," he whispers against Remus' skin, and Remus couldn't agree more.

"There; I think I'm done for today," Sirius says and lays his drawing board and charcoal pencils beside him on the bed.

Remus smiles and leans further back in his half-lying position, his back brushing against the sheets. He takes a drag of his cigarette as he watches Sirius potter with his materials for a moment. Then Sirius turns around, crosses the short distance between their beds with quick strides and places his hand on either side of Remus' hips. He leans forward and brushes his lips against Remus'; Remus' smile widens and he kisses back.

Remus tangles his free hand in Sirius's hair as he parts his lips and deepens the kiss. Sirius makes a noise in the back of his throat and leans further forward, their chests pressed flush against each other, until they're both lying on the bed, Sirius on top.

Sirius breaks the kiss slowly and lingeringly, and rests his forehead against Remus' as he just breathes for a couple of seconds.

"You taste like ashtray," he says, but his soppy smile deflates the rebuke. "You'll have to quit smoking."

"I thought you said you didn't object to my nicotine addiction?"

"I did," Sirius agrees, "but back then I wasn't snogging you on a daily basis." He emphasizes this with a chaste kiss on the corner of Remus' mouth.

"Git," Remus murmurs fondly and puts out his cigarette on the nearest post of his bed. He knows it leaves a scorch mark without having to look. Making a mental note to magick it away later, he lays his hand on Sirius' neck as he kisses him again.