Hiya! I'm back with a longer chapter fic and I hope you like it. It's the first AU fic I've written *biting my nails*. Review and let me know how you like this prologue.

Disclaimer: The characters belong to JK Rowling and affiliates. All characters are above the age of consent. I make no money from this fan fiction; I just like playing with them.

Thanks to: Plarpatubin for your prompt (Sirius modelling nude on a whim, and Remus is an artist), ta to furrylittlesecret for pointing me towards the prompt, and love, love, love to DragonDi for constant support, correcting of ridiculously basic errors and for insisting this wasn't crap when I was sure it was.


Prologue

'Can I look yet?'

'Not yet.'

There was silence in the high ceilinged room, the sound of birds outside breaking the quiet.

'I'm getting a cramp in my leg.'

'Don't move. You're perfect the way you are.'

A soft giggle then a sigh.

'I'm nearly done. Be patient. It'll be worth the wait.'

The woman struggled to stay still in the pose he'd angled her body into three hours earlier. Remus glanced up from the canvas and, with a practiced eye, gauged the true level of her discomfort. He could see the woman's muscles were tightening under her pale skin, but they were not straining yet. She could stand to hold the pose for a little longer, he decided; certainly long enough for him to finish the commissioned painting.

Remus exhaled sharply, angling the expended air so it lifted his light brown fringe off his forehead. As he leaned forward and put his paintbrush to the canvas once more, the hair fell over his eyes again. He didn't shift it out of the way; he'd become accustomed to peering through the strands so he ignored it and swiftly but painstakingly finished off the hi-lights in the subject's hair.

Ten minutes later there was a plaintive…

'Mr Lupin…'

'It's Remus, and I'm done,' he said, straightening on his stool. 'You can stretch out now.'

She had uncurled before permission to move had fallen from his lips, stretching with an exaggerated sigh of relief. Remus smiled at her dramatics and stood up, working out the stiffness in his own limbs more sedately. Standing with an easy gracefulness that gave away her past as a dancer, the naked, middle aged woman with the still-fabulous body closed the distance between her and Remus, halting beside the young, lanky man to look at the completed painting.

'Oh my goodness,' she murmured, raising a slim hand to her mouth.

'You are a wonderful subject, Mrs Harper,' Remus said softly, shifting a little to allow her some space to take in the painting.

'I…I look…'

'Beautiful,' he finished, realising she was on the verge of tears. 'Of course. I only paint beautiful things.'

Remus smiled as he watched her face light up then crumple as emotion overwhelmed her. He did many of these nude portraits for older society women who wanted - no, needed - to feel attractive again after their grown up children had left home, or their less mature husbands left them for the young, nubile secretary. More times than not, after seeing the image on the canvas, the woman ended up either sobbing on his shoulder for her lost years, or hitting on him.

Sonia Harper turned to him, burying her face in his chest. He put his arm comfortingly around her still bare shoulders then started a little when he felt her hand slide down his back to cup his arse.

And sometimes they did both.

Remus gently patted her shoulder and pulled out of her embrace. 'I can recommend a wonderful framer for you…' he said, trying to distract her.

'Remus…'

'Mrs Harper…Sonia…' He sighed, hating this more and more every time it happened. Didn't these women do any research about his life before they hired him? 'It's not that I don't think you are a beautiful woman - I do - and if you were a man, I'd be definitely interested…'

Her no doubt surgically enhanced lips parted in surprise. 'You're gay?'

'Very,' he confirmed and her face fell.

'Oh.'

She glanced over at the easel again and Remus reached for her gown, handing it to her. She took it but didn't put it on and Remus busied himself cleaning his brushes, hoping for a quick getaway.

'How…how can you paint women like that if you don't want them?' Sonia said quietly and he stopped, looking up at her. 'There is such…passion and you've captured…'

'Your heart,' Remus said, smiling at her. 'It's a depiction of your physical appearance which is certainly lovely, but it's your heart that shines through here, Sonia. Perhaps it's because I'm not distracted by your curves that I can see you this way, whereas a straight man might only see the outward beauty.'

A smile slowly spread across her visage and she slipped the green silk dressing gown over her shoulders with a practiced and decidedly seductive shrug.

'Would you like a drink, Remus?'

Remus caught the calculating look in her eye before she fluttered her lashes coquettishly at him - despite being far too old to get away with such flirty behaviour. He knew she was going to be one of the ones who would try to turn him, to change him, and he now just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge.

'No. No, thank you,' he said politely. 'I…have an appointment shortly. I'll pack up while you dress and then if I could collect my payment, I'll let you get on with your day.'

The disappointment and the flash of anger in her brown eyes made him look away, trying to seem nonchalant while he packed up his brushes. It irritated him that the women he painted seemed to think that his sexual preference was a choice, something he could turn on and off like a tap. They took the news of his homosexuality as a challenge rather than being put off by the fact he simply didn't find them attractive.

His belongings were packed away fast into his bag and he found a slightly disgruntled Sonia Harper in the entry hall of the stately home she had won in her recent divorce settlement. She tore a cheque from the book in her hands and waved it teasingly just out of his reach.

'Are you sure you don't want a drink?' she cajoled.

Remus smiled, but spoke firmly. 'No, thank you. I really must get going.'

Sonia sighed in disappointment, but handed him the cheque, Remus surreptitiously checking the figures before folding it and putting it carefully in his pocket. That one cheque would provide a roof over his head and food in his stomach for another two months.

'Totally worth getting hit on,' he told himself as he accepted her inappropriate kiss goodbye and walked down the front steps.

He slung his bag on the backseat of his car and quickly got in. He pulled away from the house (house? Bloody mansion) with tyres screeching slightly and breathed a sigh of relief. There was no other appointment - he was heading back to his apartment, which was approximately the size of Sonia Harper's bathroom.

His painting kept him up to date with his bills and commissions were picking up now, but Remus' life was far from comfortable. He lived from pay check to pay check, subsidising his art commissions with jobs in cafés or restaurants. It meant less time for his painting and sketching, but it kept the bills paid, his belly reasonably full and his car fuelled, although it really needed replacing...

As if on cue, his little blue car made a spluttering noise, but thankfully kept going.

'Come on, baby,' Remus muttered, patting the steering wheel. 'Just keep going until we get our big break. Then you can put up your wheels and retire.'

There had been talk in the art community of him putting together a showing for a big London gallery and Remus had been trying desperately not to get his hopes up until the contracts were signed. For a twenty-five year old, having his own exhibit alongside established, working artists would be a marvellous achievement and bring him a lot of recognition, but luck had played no part in his success. He'd worked long and hard since he was fourteen years old to get here, with a lot of disappointments along the way. He had learnt many years ago not to count his chickens before they were hatched, but still…

Please, please let this be it.

Remus was close to his dingy flat now and slowed down for a red light. It turned green before he stopped completely and he pressed his foot back down on the accelerator, the car jerking forward. He was halfway across the intersection when he heard the high pitched squeal of a car braking hard. Remus turned his head in time to see a red sedan skidding towards him too fast and he had a second of realisation before the screeching, grating sound of metal slamming into metal filled his ears. Pain shot like lightning through his body and Remus screamed in agony before everything, mercifully, went black.

TBC...


What do you think? Review?