Written for the fandomfusion 'Beware the Ides of March' challenge on Livejournal with the prompts prophet, lines 914-917 from Virgil's Aeneid, and lyrics from In A Big Country. The Ides Challenge ends on June 30 - go check it out :)
All he wished was that, like his conscious thoughts, his nightmares would be less complex as a dog.
He tried to avoid sleep, focusing on the screams around him to try and keep him awake, although he knew that it was inevitable. There were only ever two nightmares that he had each and every night that his body lost the battle with sleep and it over took him.
The first nightmare was the one that started it all and he was in reality still waiting to wake up from. He was standing in the rubble at Godric's Hollow, James and Lily's bodies at his feet, Hagrid with Harry and the vision of his life washing away in front of him.
This vision came every night, torturing him, reminding him that although he didn't pull the trigger himself, he is the one who put the gun into the traitorous rat's hands.
Oddly, Sirius always found some sort of unexplainable relief in this dream. As horrible as it was to relive over and over again, at least it was a real memory, something that was truly his and not some fantastical delusion. A simple sign that his mind was still intact, that he knew where he was, and most importantly, who he was. He wasn't crazy. Yet.
The second nightmare was somehow always worse. Maybe because he knew that it was coming for him.
He could always hear it beginning before he could see anything; footsteps slowly approaching the outer door of his cell, stopping just short so that Sirius couldn't see who it was.
But he always knew. It was always the same person.
Every night, like clockwork, his visitor would hesitate at the edge of the doorway and then the nightmare would go either one of two ways. In the first scenario, the footsteps would start up again but in the other direction, and a hoarse voice would mutter "I can't do this." Sirius listened to the sound of the feet until they disappeared, taking his potential visitor away with them.
Those were the nights he was let off easy and his mind would descend into deeper haze of sleep and he wouldn't wake up screaming like the rest of his fellows.
The other option happened more often then not. Almost every night, the footsteps wouldn't walk away. They would be a twist of the door handle, a moan of the door hinges protesting as the door was pushed open, and Remus Lupin would walk into his cell.
Avoiding Sirius' gaze, Remus would walk into the room and sit at one of the two chairs that always magically appeared from nowhere, Sirius following his example and resting in the other, a table a barrier between them.
Remus' hands clasped together on the table and he stared past them into the wood, into something that only he could see in the grain, while Sirius sat fidgeting in his chair. Suddenly, Remus snapped his head up and stared into Sirius' face, and Sirius found himself unable to look away – each trying to decipher the others next move.
"I really don't what to say to you." Remus said softly with a small shake of his head, raising his eyebrows slightly towards the ceiling.
"I usually find that 'Hello' is a good place to start."
"Hello, Sirius." The corners of Remus' lips were trying to curl themselves into a smile, but he was firm in keeping a blank face, looking into Sirius' eyes, searching for answers to the endless questions that he must have. Sirius didn't have them. He never did.
For minutes they would sit in near silence, their breathing the only sound in the room, staring at each other, with Sirius yearning to be able to return to their old camaraderie, to talk about a Quidditch match, to talk about the woman in the bar that Peter thought that he had a shot with, to be able to go back in time. But there was nothing. Remus sat still while Sirius grew more and more uncomfortable in the silence that surrounded them. He sat wishing for Remus to say something, anything, just to break the growing tension.
As if he could hear these thoughts, Remus began, "Why…" he shook his head, and tried his words again, struggling to make a decision on how to continue "How…"
Every night that Remus questioned him in his dreams, Sirius launched into his story before the question was ever fully formed. Just to have a chance to tell someone the truth, to have someone listen to the events as they really happened, not as how everyone thought that they had been. Switching secret keepers, Peter disappearing, the house in Godric's Hollow, as well as the lives of those who lived there, ruined, chasing and confronting Peter in the street. It was then every night that Remus raised his hand to stop him, speaking for the first time since he Sirius' exposition had started.
"And that is where you lose me, Black. Peter, really being the secret keeper, betrays Lily and James to Voldemort, and so you go running off after him knowing full well that everyone else thinks that you are the one responsible? Why didn't you go to Dumbledore? Or Mad-Eye?" he dropped his eyes back to the table, "Why didn't you come to me? If this was true, the Sirius Black I knew would have come to me, so that we could go after him together."
The use of his last name by Remus isn't lost on him. Sirius could count the amount of times that Remus had referred to him in such a matter on his fingers. He always thought Remus would believe him, if given a chance to explain. "I wasn't thinking," he muttered. He was losing the war of words he wasn't aware he was in.
"Clearly. You weren't thinking then when you betrayed our friends and you aren't thinking now if you think that I will swallow your lies again. Don't you think I've learned by now that you always end up doing what you think will be the best for you in the end? Without ever thinking of the consequences?"
"Don't." Sirius closed his mouth and watched Remus' hands clench into tight fists, the skin on his knuckles whitening with restrain. "Even if you were telling the truth, or what you think is the truth after being locked up here for so long, which I don't think you are, it doesn't change the outcome. James and Lily were killed by Voldemort. Harry is living with the muggles who despite him and everything about our world. Peter is gone. You are in jail. Even if you were telling the truth, it wouldn't matter." He stands abruptly and the look on his face makes Sirius feel as if he's been hit in the stomach, and his final words are a knife into his heart. "It is still all your fault."
And it was then that Sirius wakes up to the sounds of his own harsh howls, screaming for forgiveness and understanding that was always impossible to get. Night after night, the scene always plays out the same way, no matter how Sirius tries to phrase it so that Remus understood, no matter how long his visitor stays in his dusty mind cell with him, it always ends in terror.
Because dream or not, his old friend was always right. He hadn't been able to keep the house safe, and for that he deserved to be exactly where he was.
Sirius has had a rough day and needs reviews to make him feel better...