Title: A Vacancy
Summary: Throughout most of my life, there was an empty spot wherever Sirius was supposed to be at the time. He would run from me, and then back again. It was a vacancy that I knew would always be filled…until now. [Slash.]
Notes: Before Remus admits his mutual feelings for Tonks, he makes a Pensieve.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
I wait on the bed patiently, wondering if I can even tempt to coax the next scene from my grey matter. It is so burned into my memory, I can almost picture the scars it has left in its wake.
Tonks is sitting beside me, quietly drinking her tea. I managed to drink a little of mine. Now it burns to just hold it in my hand, but I allow it to. It makes her happy to be next to me. I'm fond of sitting beside her. But she is so young, how can I wreck her life? I ruined the better part of Sirius's life. Oh, he would be so irate if he even heard me think that! I would say it all the time when we would argue. It got him into such a rage that even I feared a little.
I blame myself for many things. But they can't be changed now, can they? Sirius is gone. James and Lily, gone. I shift uncomfortably on the bedspread.
"The tea's okay, isn't it?" she asks in a careful tone.
She stares solemnly at her boots. I stare at them too. Thigh length, quality dragon hide. They are strapped tightly to her legs, and her wand is stuck into the left one's uppers.
"Oh, it's fine,"
She fingers with some thread left to stray on her skirt. She won't look into my eyes, even though I am staring right at her, right through her.
I reach over and tuck a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Remus, I'm so sorry for the past few weeks,"
I swallow deeply. It thuds emptily in my stomach.
She looks at me incredulously, searching my face. But not my eyes.
"I've been acting stupid, I suppose. Blurting out my feelings in front of the Weasley's like that…and after Bill was attacked." She rubs her forehead with her hand. The nails are bitten down and unpolished. Anxious hands. "I feel so far away from you. More than I have before,"
She looks back down at her boots, which I've been staring at for awhile.
"But you aren't stupid," My own voice sounds more like a soft croak. Like I haven't talked in years.
She shakes her head. "I-,"
I felt my hand touch her face again, only it was cupping her cheek this time. I heard her words die inside her throat. I hold few people this way. The last person happened to be Sirius.
I thought the last would always be Sirius.
Sirius Black stood framed in the doorway. He stood in lots of doorways in Remus's era, but never like this. His back was arched and his silhouette was perfectly reflected in shadow on the opposing wall. And they were older. Remus felt one hundred years older, at least. After Harry and Hermione rescued him and Buckbeak, Sirius would make appearances every so often. They would have a drink, play cards- chess perhaps. Or they would just talk about the "Good Old Days". Then Sirius would pull Remus close to beg and plead, to take him upstairs.
Remus would refuse.
Then, the Order chose Sirius's childhood home as a headquarters. Remus was the most frequent guest, when he wasn't on dreaded guard duty. Again, Sirius would glide onto Remus's hips, run his hands over the scarred chest that had stayed hidden for centuries.
Remus still refused when a hushed, almost ghostly voice would proposition his ear.
Now Sirius resembled his adolescent figure. Azkaban had stolen a lot of his beauty, but being free inside his old home had its good points, even if Sirius hated returning to it. His shape had become rounder and more broad, radiating with a touch of its former glory. Eyes of heather grey smothered Remus from across the room. A prickle of heat burst across his skin, shocking the blond hairs on his neck and arms.
"Why won't you let me come to your house, Moony?" Sirius asked, leaning his back against the doorframe. It creaked, his face halfway covered in shadows from the hall.
Remus gulped. "Too dangerous. You know that,"
He seemed to be floating in the darkness.
"You used to like danger,"
The older, always slender Remus Lupin shook his head. He had many silver hairs now, shining in the poor candle glow. His heart thumped loudly between his ribs.
"Prongs liked the wild side," he chuckled to himself. "You know that too,"
"You were dangerous with me," Sirius had a way, even now, to speak so his voice vibrated your innards.
Remus settled for laughing again.
The room was positively reeking with age. Brown and gold argyle patterned wallpaper seemed to be peeling from the stone. A floor made from stained cedar groaned from every foot that stepped upon it. The curtains, blood-red, were moth eaten and unwashed. The bed was once magnificent, large and elegant with gold and scarlet curtains and silky sheets from the most exotic vendors. Once, long, rough wooden beams carved with ornate leaves and flowers rose high into the wood paneled ceiling. Now, it was dull, unpolished wood with scratchy covers. Just a piece of furniture.
Yet Remus gripped onto the wool blanket as though it gave him life. Sirius stood before him now, and the only light that dared to creep within the bedroom came from two single candles and a sliver of moonlight that danced behind the moldy curtains. Sirius's face drew on most of that white light, giving him an inhuman appearance.
"Were you with anyone else?" he asked, looking directly into Remus's pupils.
"When I was in Azkaban…what did you do, wait for me?"
Remus bit his lip. "Maybe,"
Sirius sighed; air fanned over his lips.
"I had no one else to want me, Padfoot," Remus said, wondering how exactly it was that a note of hunger leapt into his voice. It wasn't a lie, really. He had tried to find dates. Once anyone got wind that he was a werewolf, they never asked for another go. It wasn't entirely fair.
"Lies," Sirius whispered again. It sounded appropriate in the darkness. "You've rejected every moment alone we have had together," he paused.
"Unless you don't want me,"
"That is an even larger falsehood," Remus said, adding more creases into the ever-present wrinkles on his forehead.
Sirius shifted his weight, making the floorboards whine.
"I know I look a lot different because of my imprisonment," he shook his head sadly.
"I still want you," Remus blurted out; the hunger sparked again. He felt his appendages give a twitch.
Grey eyes back on him, searching, smothering, blazing…an ache Remus had held for nearly sixteen years swelled within his core. In his mind's eye erupted images of girls in broom closets and behind shelves of books, how that tugging warm feeling would fade when he kissed them, Sirius pulling him behind the benches after Gryffindor won another Qudditch match, waking up with a secret, waking up with Sirius, going to sleep knowing that he still had one more day-, the way Sirius smelled, tasted, felt-, everything. Anything. It was almost as though he hadn't quite been living up until this moment. That he had died at seventeen and was reincarnated into the same body at thirty-eight.
"I feel lonely in this house, Moony." Sirius said throatily. "I can see stains of myself and Regulus all over the walls, and in the air I can feel my parents. I don't like that," he sniffed. Remus's eyes were the size of dinner plates, because Sirius had crawled over his legs. "I wish you would stay, you don't have to sleep with me,"
"You know people already wonder about us…they knew what we had together,"
Sirius snorted. "And if I had never gotten locked up, we would have stayed that way,"
Remus didn't doubt that at all.
"Let them wonder," How exactly he began to unclasp the shiny gold buttons on Remus's robes without any inclination he was doing so, was a mystery.
"No, we can't do this again…" Remus trailed off, his arms curled tight to his body.
Sirius continued anyway. He slid back the frayed and patched up black robes, revealing a grey sweater. Another sigh glided over his lips.
"You need a new color palette,"
"Well that's a new one," Remus flushed anyway.
"I think you've owned that since we were fifteen,"
"I have not! It was a lovely gift from Tonks, I'll have you know,"
"Fancy my cousin now, do you?" he said, his eyes narrowing. Sirius had used this conversation to start undoing the zipper on Remus's trousers.
Remus blushed a deeper shade of crimson. "No,"
"She fancies you,"
"This is your strangest idea of foreplay yet,"
"Oh Moony I haven't even begun," Sirius pushed Remus back onto the mattress. It held, but gave a light wobble. A grin stretched his mouth.
"What's so amusing…" Remus's eyes searched his former lover's face, a frown forming.
"I wonder if it will feel like it did before-,"
"- assuming I let you of course,-" Remus reminded him willfully. Although, his sweater was now a crumpled mess on the dusty floor.
"- I thought you were going to cry once I pushed, but then you let me do what I wanted as always," Sirius babbled on. He pushed the trousers down to Remus's ankles.
"I did cry." Remus couldn't help but hold onto looking at Sirius's eyes. "I just didn't want you to see,"
"You were what kept me the most sane in prison, Moony." Sirius whispered, now tracing the many scars that lycanthropy had cursed Remus with.
It drew close to midnight when the haze finally settled in the bedroom. The rickety mattress was damp, but very warm. More moonlight than before streamed in through the half opened curtains. The candles which had once been fat with wax were dripping on their holders and forming a thick coat as the wicks burnt low. There wasn't a sound to be heard in Grimmauld Place. Remus went to pull the scratchy wool blanket over his exposed lower half, but Sirius kicked it off the bed. It fell next to the grey sweater, just as ugly, threadbare and stitched with a peony flower pattern.
"It's cold," he complained.
"It's June," Sirius said bluntly and possessively held Remus to his sweat covered chest.
"What if someone came in?" Remus looked immediately to the door as if expecting to see an intruder there.
Sirius snorted. "Yeah right. I'm lucky you visit,"
"Well now you know that…well, that I will stay,"
Sirius didn't answer this, but laid his head on the back of Remus's neck.
"What were you waiting for?"
Remus hesitated, wondering if he should answer how he felt. Would it still feel the same once sunlight grew on the windows again?
"For you to leave me," he said quietly, turning to Sirius who was holding him so close that movement was almost a sport.
But Sirius, with his lips slightly parted and his hair rumpled, was fast asleep.
The next couple hours Remus fell in and out of consciousness. He knew that at some point, Sirius left the room. In his delirious state he believed that he had been kidnapped, only to hear a toilet across the hall flush noisily. Both men were just beginning to get used to peaceful sleep when loud crackling sounds erupted from the ancient fireplace grate. Remus shot up instantly, not even remembering seeing a fireplace upon entering the bedroom. A head sat patiently waiting, looking at the scene before it without any surprise or shock.
"Rise, Black, Lupin," said Severus Snape. His voice was casual and cool like nothing about what came next held any importance. "All members of the Order are to arrive at the Department of Mysteries,"
Sirius was yawning, stretching his bare form. "He hasn't gotten in?"
The calm exterior showed no signs of emotion, but Snape rose an eyebrow.
"Seems to be. Now get here soon as possible,"
He vanished and the green flames went with him.
Remus was halfway dressed already, his pants up but the belt wasn't clasped, and his robes were on but he had forgotten his sweater.
"Hurry up, we have no idea the danger it could bring us,"
But Sirius went rather slowly about dressing. By the time Remus had fastened his cloak, he had just pulled up his trousers.
"Hell, Padfoot, hurry!"
Remus stood by the door, pacing the creaking floorboards.
"You thought I would leave you, did you?"
Remus shot him a look that read 'this is clearly not the time,' but his half-dressed lover didn't drop it.
"Well, you have before,"
"Not after what we just did,"
"You did the first time!" Remus shouted. "Please, let's go. I'll leave alone if I have to!"
Sirius looked away. It was true. He had left the werewolf quite alone in his four poster bed in the dormitory. He had been so scared then, of morning. He didn't know what Remus would think of him. The same sensation now settled over Sirius, albeit a tad differently.
"Wait a mo'," Sirius didn't bother with his shirt, which wasn't anywhere to be seen anyway. He pulled his cloak over his bare chest and went over to where Remus stood, his entire body trembling in anxiety.
Sirius tipped Remus's chin back, before wrapping his lips around the other man's, persuading coyly at first, then it became mutual.
"What was that for?" Remus asked, feeling breathless.
"Well…I always promise I will be here for you. But apparently I never keep promises. So in case I don't…" Sirius touched his lips to Remus's forehead, then his lips, and finally his throat.
"You know that I loved you,"
Remus didn't speak, for air was constricted deep in his lungs. "Love" was a word never said by Sirius Black, unless he was drunk.
"Now, let's go,"
Both men Apparated into what seemed to be utter chaos. Shacklebolt dueled right before their eyes, beyond him Tonks and Moody were yelling for Neville Longbottom of all persons and Harry to run through the door. Lucius Malfoy was on their trail, wand out and white blond hair fanning out behind him like a silvery curtain.
"Go," Remus went to run down the small flight of stairs to their left.
"Just go! We have to help them,"
They spilt. Remus dived to help Kingsley, while Sirius aided Moody and Tonks. It was a too small a space for so many hexes and jinxes. Odd colored smoke clogged the air as jets of light shot across the amphitheater style room in distorted angles.
Bellatrix was by far the loudest and most sadistic competitor. She cackled at every spell she tossed, a smirk on her face as permanent as a scar. She dueled Sirius, casting anything and everything at him. Remus swelled with pride whenever Sirius dodged the hex, and sent back a spiteful counterjinx.
That is why when Sirius fell through the veil, into the death chamber, the whole world seemed to drop into a slow motion period. Remus held Harry back from throwing himself at the dais. But what he really wanted to do was push the boy aside and glide through it all on his own.
His mind's eye bled pictures again. Living backwards, it began with wrestling as miniscule eleven year olds, progressing onto the hormonal third year, drifting to when Remus was seventeen, wondering if he was more important than all the pretty girls who flocked around Sirius, it flipped through birthdays and rainy days, days where it snowed and days where it was too hot to function. Every picture burned as though the filmstrip was about to melt and break off, speeding down the wheel in his brain.
This new picture was not going to fit in. Remus watched the curtain blow slightly in the non-existent wind.
"Remus!" Tonks shouts, watching in amazement as I pull the memory forcefully from my forehead. It swirls inside the Pensieve, threatening to bubble up.
"Why are you making one of these?" she touches the sides of the rune-crusted bowl with hesitation, but the gas stays multicolored and shapeless.
"I wanted to hide things from myself," I try to stay away from the real reasons. "I wanted to forget some old memories,"
"Of Sirius, you mean?'
I guess my face gave it away, but she nods.
"I know you two were close…closer than most people wanted me to believe," she gave a laugh that sounded slightly harsher than usual. "But why forget, Remus?"
"I suppose that they were holding me back from other feelings," I admit without much thought.
"Oh," She still will not look at my eyes. How pigheaded. "Feelings you won't pursue, then?"
"I wouldn't say that,"
There it is.
Her eyes, darker than I have ever seen them, come up to lock in with mine. They seem to be sparkling in this sad, little basement. It strikes a warm spot in my abdomen, and while it will never be like what Sirius gave to me, it was something. It was something I could go into wartime with. It was, in other words, hope.
In a moment of uncontrolled awkwardness, Tonks gathers up the teacups and mumbles about Molly needing the dishes washed. My eyes meet the basin, now mainly staying a bright white color. A vacancy is what I blamed Sirius for. An empty period where life lacked any jolt of happiness and glow. But he always came back. He will again.
"Dora, I'll come help you with that," I felt my voice say aloud, as I take every single one of those memories and push them back through my skull.