A/N: It's been a while, I know. Life has been so hectic over the past few months but I've finally got a tiny bit of a break. Here is the last chapter, it's pretty long and I hope you enjoy it! I admit I'm a bit nervous as I've had to get back into the swing of writing fic after the long gap. I just want to note, in my head the song Baptized by Fire (by Spinnerette) first sounds more like the Letterman version and after production would sound like the CD version.
A/N2: As always, thank you for your lovely comments, even if I didn't have time to reply to them. They make me smile like an idiot. I hope this makes you smile too! Also, I've got an epilogue planned so it's not completely over just yet! Special mention of Annaskyfox over on LiveJournal and Deviantart who drew a lovely picture based on Chapter 9! My first fanart! Thanks so much!
Disclaimer: Songs mentioned belong to musicians, Driving Song and Baptized By Fire are by Spinnerette. One and Only by Adele.
[Excerpt from the Alternative Press website]
Sneak Peaks of a Possible Bella Donna Comeback
Fans of Bella Donna can breath a collective sigh of relief. As guitarist Remus Lupin finishes up his various stints in jail and rehab, it seems that the band is finally back on their feet. The future of the band was uncertain for a good number of months when Lupin was arrested for possession and assaulting a police officer. Announcements were made that he would not be replaced but there were no further discussions of what the band planned on doing while he was away. Now it seems they're back and strong as ever.
A few days ago, the band released a series of videos on their website and YouTube account of possible demos for their latest album. Although they have just begun the search for a producer, the new songs seem promising. Most of the songs are acoustic with bassist and singer Lily Evans and guitarist Remus Lupin performing from their living room. A few even have the rest of the band joining in.
In comparison to their earlier work, the songs are more mature, both musically and lyrically. The vocal harmonics are done well, with Evans now sharing a majority of the singing with Lupin. Driving Song and Baptised by Fire are two songs that stand out in particular of the five demos. Not only are they solid demos but they are also the only two that are preformed by the whole band.
[Excerpt from Sirius Black Fan forum, post by 'LylaBones']
Most if not all of us are familiar with YouTube. This includes the popular way to try and get more views on a video by posting it as a reply to a much more popular video. We've see numerous videos being posted to Marauder songs over the years and now especially Sirius Black's solo work. The videos range from covers to reviews to things that have nothing to do with the song even though they claim to. Oddly enough though, it seems the latest group to try and hang on to Sirius' success is the punk band Bella Donna.
Much like the videos posted as replies, there have been a range of reactions from Sirius Black fans. There are those who don't care, those who feel that Bella Donna need to back off and gain their own fans and finally those who think there may be more behind the move than to increase the number of views. I am of the latter category.
Now I'm not a conspiracy nut or anything but I admit it's kind of fun trying to figure out different reasons as to why a punk back would reply to Sirius' gorgeous ballad One and Only with Driving Song. So far, my favourite suggestion of the move is that it is all a joke between Sirius and Lily Evans (she being a member of Bella Donna). I took a listen and Driving Song sounds like a bit of a 'screw you' song in the gentlest of ways, maybe even a different look at the relationship than what Sirius gives. Lily has gotten very close to Marauder member James Potter in the past year. She may have heard Sirius' song and might have poked fun at this more romantic side of Sirius that fans have been getting the privilege to see. I know a lot of other fans get overly defensive that someone may be making fun of Sirius' 'emotional state' but they're all adults and probably friends. If Sirius needs defending from 'mean old' Lily's joke, I think he can defend himself. I'm sure he's laughing about it all.
A buzz from James' mobile interrupted his and Sirius' lunch. After noticing it was from Lily, he checked it quickly expecting a note about not having any more milk at home but further inspection brought a frown.
"What's wrong?" Sirius asked.
"Bella Donna hates the demos I produced," James said without thinking. After realising slipped, James suddenly tensed.
"You're producing Bella Donna's new album?" Sirius raised an eyebrow and leaned in with interest. No good was going to come out of this conversation.
"Well sounds like I'm not now, am I?" answered James bitterly. He'd done a pretty good job up till now to not mentioning anything Remus related to Sirius. It was a mess that he no longer wanted a part of and he felt that perhaps if he stopped talking about Lily's band mates, then maybe Sirius would just forget about Remus and finally get over him. It was a lofty hope but it was all that James could do at the moment. And now he'd buggered it up. After hearing that Lily was looking for a good producer for the new Bella Donna album, James offered up his services.
Admittedly, the band laughed at him but he persisted and worked on a couple of their demos. Apparently, they still weren't impressed. It wasn't that he cared what they thought about the music he produced….well, he sort of did. The main reason James offered was to try and impress Lily but that obviously fell through.
"You're not a horrible music producer. What didn't they like about it?" Sirius asked a little too smugly for James' tastes.
"Sorry we can't all produce number one pop singles like you mate. Besides, I bet you couldn't do any better than me. Doubt a punk band would like any of the things you've done lately."
"It's called knowing your target audience. Something I'm quite good at thanks."
"Target audience my arse," James rolled his eyes but he was actually pleased at the banter. It was a sign that perhaps Sirius was getting better. One mention of Bella Donna and Remus wasn't the first thing on his lips. The delight didn't last long though. After taking a long sip of his drink, Sirius started to nervously push the food around his plate.
"Speaking of Lily's band…uh, have you seen Remus lately?"
"Sirius, no," commanded James.
"What? I was just inquiring after his health," Sirius claimed too innocently for James' liking. A stern look from James and Sirius sighed.
"Fine, also was wondering if he's asked about me."
"Not that I am aware of. Why? Plan on sending him back to rehab? Maybe you should personally give him the cocaine this time."
"That's not funny James."
"I wasn't trying to be. Why would be you interested in him asking after you?"
"You know why."
"Yeah, well why don't you remind me."
"I…I was hoping we could get together and have a talk. Maybe work through some things."
Now, there had been a number of decisions that Sirius made throughout his life that James didn't approve of at first. A good portion of them did work out well through some odd cosmic fate. One of them was getting Frank to leave the band. That turned out to be a very good choice in the end, what with all of them reaching heights they might not have been able to if Frank had stayed. Another one of Sirius' stupid decisions, which turned out to be rather good was his dropping out of school. Rather idiotic but in the end, Siruis had been able to spend the time he would at school writing more songs and sending out hundreds of demos to who ever would listen.
So Sirius did seem to have reason behind the wayward things he did. This time though, James felt he had to really put his foot down because no good whatsoever could or ever would be derived from this.
"You can't do this Sirius! To yourself and him. He's over it, you said you were. It's over between you and Remus. Don't fuck him up more than he was. I thought we talked about this?" James could feel a headache coming on. Didn't this conversation already happen?
"Before my tour was over, you said we'd revisit this once I had more time to think and I have. The answer is the same as before. I want him back and I know that this is the right thing to do. We belong together James, I wish you could see that," begged Sirius, hoping James would see some reason.
"I did see that but then you blamed him for outing you and he went on a coke binge. Once all that stuff happened, well, to be honest, I don't think you're the healthiest for each other. All that secrecy isn't good for relationships."
"But it won't be like that anymore. I'm not going to force him to stay in the flat or refuse to be seen with him in public. I don't care about all that anymore."
"Really? Just last week, weren't you were complaining about how some tabloid was connecting you to some American celebrity or something?"
"Because it wasn't true!"
"Well that's going to keep happening you know? Some of the shit they print about Lils and me…" James took a moment to compose himself. "And they're going to say loads of bullshit about you and Remus along with the truth if you somehow get back together with him."
"Well I don't care! I want him back James. I need him in my life," insisted Sirius, sounding like a spoilt child. His mind was made up and there was no going back.
"Yeah but do you think he needs you Sirius?" The question hung in the air. It made Sirius look down to his hands. The possibility of Remus not needing Sirius in his life was thought about briefly but in truth, Sirius didn't dwell on it. He wasn't sure he could without losing his sanity.
"I'm going after him, no matter what you say." Sirius finally declared, looking James in the eye with an expression that left no room for argument.
"I think it's stupid but obviously I can't stop you," admitted James bitterly, wondering if a hard enough punch to the head would at least stall Sirius a bit longer.
"Okay, then why are you still here talking to me? Shouldn't you be trying to find a way to sweep him off his feet or something?" challenged James, only getting a shrug from Sirius in response.
"Well, I, I was hoping you could help me out a bit."
"Are you serious? No, don't answer that. I mean, you really have the nerve to ask me my opinion, completely disregard it and then ask me for help to do it?"
"I don't know where he's staying or his number or anything James! I don't know where he would be hanging out or any of that. I can't ask him to take me back if I can't even find him," insisted Sirius with sad eyes. James wasn't sure what to do. While he didn't like the idea of Sirius annoying Remus again, he had a feeling that no matter what anyone said, Sirius was going to continue to do so. If James didn't give him the info he needed, Sirius would pay someone to find out.
Probably, the only person to get Sirius to finally see sense and end this chase was Remus himself. Whether it was with a good talk or a punch, James wasn't sure. Either choice seemed to be very much in Remus' repertoire of how to handle situations.
Looking at Sirius, James felt his reserve start to crack. There was a mix of insistence and sadness in Sirius' face and James started to understand what was going on in his mind. Sirius needed to hold onto the hope that he and Remus would get back together. If he didn't, he wouldn't have much to look forward to and that was enough to kill anyone. Hadn't James done that with Lily? Even when it seemed impossible that they'd ever get together, he still hoped.
"If you get punched and Remus breaks his probation or something, you've got to get him out of the mess," demanded James but Sirius' determination didn't waver. "Fine, the four of them have been going out weekly for dinner or lunch to beef up Remus. I'd rather have you wait for him around one of those places than corner him where he's staying."
"Thanks. I'll take my chances."
"They're at this Armenian place called Sevan. Lily said something about Bermondsey Street I think. I don't know the exact location but you can look it up on your mobile. If you go now maybe you'll be able to catch them before they leave?" James gave in finally, waving off Sirius when he tried to pay him for his half of lunch. "Just go Sirius. But you owe me big on this one. I don't care if Remus sends you to the emergency room or if he decides to listen to you, you owe me."
With a final nod, Sirius was out the door.
By the time that Sirius had reached the door, he already looked up the restaurant that James mentioned with his mobile and frowned at the distance. It was nowhere near Bermondsey Street. Sirius didn't have time to wonder if James was trying to get him off track with the false street or if Lily had the foresight to tell James the wrong location on the chance that it was mentioned to Sirius. Without dwelling on the possibility that Lily had given James the wrong restaurant as well, he quickly hailed a cab, gave the driver the address and waited impatiently as they wove through London traffic.
Foot nervously tapping, Sirius only gave the occasional yes or no grunt to the polite questions of the cab driver. The whole time, he was following their progress on the Maps app of his mobile. Adrenaline continued to pump through his veins the closer they seemed to be getting. All the things that Sirius had dreamt and planned on were running through his head. He thought about the explanations he wanted to give, the apologies and every single reason why he still loved Remus and would continue to do so. Even memories of listening to that song that Bella Donna had posted in response to his almost public pleading to Remus- Driving Song. Some might have taken it as a sign to lose hope but it only fuelled Sirius' determination because it meant that Remus still took the time to even consider him.
Within twenty minutes, the driver had stopped trying to engage Sirius. They were only a few blocks away but suddenly reached a bad patch of traffic. Without skipping a beat, Sirius shoved what was probably much more than his cab fare in the face of the driver and ran out towards Sevan.
Sirius didn't have much of a plan other than to spill out his guts. It was a little funny to him if he thought about the situation. The idea of him declaring his love for someone in such a public manner would have made him laugh two years ago but not anymore. He was willing to undergo humiliation (and very likely a beating if no one interfered with the girls of Bella Donna once they saw him), if only to talk to Remus and to get him to understand.
Rounding a corner halted Sirius cold in his tracks. Right in front of him was Remus Lupin having a cigarette outside Sevan. One foot was on the sidewalk, the other on the street as he stared straight forward to the other side of buildings. All coherent and eloquent confessions flew out of Sirius' mind when Remus turned and stiffened at the stunned man in front of him.
While these weekly food outings had been nice, Remus was wondering whether or not he should have them lessened to once every few weeks. Or at least convince the girls to stop piling all their leftovers on his plate with the assumption that he would finish everything. He'd already gained back all the weight and then some with the extra muscle mass he'd built up in his physical therapy. The slight change in body type was an almost welcome change. It was nice to know that if he were to get into another fight (after probation was over of course) that his punches would do a lot more damage than before. Though some of his tighter trousers didn't fit past his calves anymore. That was annoying.
These thoughts ran through his head as he was having a quick smoke outside of an Armenian place called Sevan that Dorcas and Emmeline had stumbled upon. It wasn't too bad and Remus admitted that he wouldn't mind having everyone's leftovers this time. He was about to leave his cigarette half smoked when he turned to go back in and saw the last person he wanted to be thinking about. Sirius Black.
They both stood rooted to their spots, staring at one another with alarm and disbelief. Over the past months, Remus had been steadily improving and the thought of what he would do if he ever met Sirius again occasionally ran through his mind. At first, Remus entertained the idea of them having a heart to heart. In his fantasies, they tended to consist of Sirius doing most of the begging. But Remus wasn't a romantic at heart, or at least any romantic leaning in him had been slowly stifled over the rough years, and his hope quickly rotted away into anger.
It didn't matter how many songs that Sirius wrote that maybe sounded like regret or apologies over what had happened between the two of them. It didn't matter how many music videos he made where he would cry to his heart's discontent. If Sirius didn't have the guts to even contact Remus, then none of it should affect him. Miscommunication had been almost the end of him and it all seemed like he would be going down the same track if he waited to hear Sirius' next new single to search for some meaning behind it all. It would be stupid and self-destructive for Remus to go down that path. So his fantasies of them forgiving and forgetting gave way to dreams of Remus giving Sirius a bloody nose amongst other things.
But at this moment, he didn't have any urge to punch or to listen. He just wanted to run the opposite direction. Feelings of longing, sadness and regret started to well up from an unknown place. The wind left his lungs and he felt as if he'd been punched in the stomach. It was a rude awakening to the fact that no matter how much he said he was over it or how many songs that he had written as reply to Sirius'- Remus wasn't ready to see Sirius just yet.
Before Remus could make a decision to leave or not, Sirius seemed to regain his wits and made the rest of the way over. Remus put on what he thought was a straight face and braced himself.
"Hi," Sirius said a little breathlessly, stopping a few feet away.
"Hey," Remus answered back, taking a long drag from his cigarette. They were silent for a while, both trying to read each other's body language and both not succeeding.
"You, you look, I uh, I like your hair," Sirius offered rather inarticulately, only to get a grunt in reply. It was discouraging but he continued nonetheless, hoping to sound a little more intelligent this time.
"So, how have you been?" Sirius couldn't stop the cringe he felt once he had asked.
"All right I suppose," Remus said, still dwelling on the hair compliment. He hadn't dyed his hair since he was arrested and it was only recently that Alice had trimmed out the coloured ends. Also, he was due for a shave and was now sporting the makings of a beard. His hair hadn't been left naturally blonde since he was with Sirius and that thought made Remus a little uncomfortable. He ran a self-conscious hand through his hair, trying to get his thoughts together.
"Remus, look, I'm sorry. Really, really sorry. I fucked up," pleaded Sirius. Remus had to take a calming breath to stifle the butterflies that were trying to escape his gut at hearing Sirius say his name.
"Are you now?" This time, Remus raised an eyebrow, disbelief dripping off his words. It didn't matter what stupid fluttering was making its way through his system, the time for apologies was a little late.
"Yes, please, listen to me. I was such an idiot. I should have listened to you when you said you didn't out me."
Instead of answering, Remus just turned towards the entrance of Sevan. Panicking, Sirius grabbed onto his wrist to spin him around a little more aggressively than he'd intended. Remus spun around to look Sirius straight in the eye and he regretted it instantly. He watched as Sirius felt the long scar on Remus' wrist with his thumb and realisation of what it was from filled Siruis' eyes. The unease in his eyes made Remus' face hot with shame and he pulled his arm away from the grip.
"Can we please just talk?"
"I don't think that's a good idea," admitted Remus, flicking his cigarette to the curb and trying to make his way back into Sevan. He just wanted to leave. He didn't want to deal with the emotions suddenly bubbling to the surface and he certainly didn't want to dwell on what they meant. Before he could take even three steps, Sirius had grabbed his arm again, this time aiming for his upper arm.
"Just tell me, where can we go from here?"
Gritting his teeth, Remus turned to face Sirius but avoided his eyes. He just wanted to be done with this. There were obviously some residue emotions from his time with Sirius and right now, Remus didn't want anything to do with them.
"No where," answered Remus bitterly. Just as Sirius let out an injured breath, they heard Alice.
"Thought a fag was a great id- oh. What's this then?" The change in tone was evident as Alice crossed her arms and walked over to place herself between the two men. One glare from Alice and Sirius dropped the hand holding Remus' upper arm.
"Didn't know you were going to join me, I wouldn't have tossed my fag so quickly," said Remus with a distracted voice that indicated he his thoughts were everywhere but on the lost cigarette.
"Thanks but I don't think I'm in the mood anymore," assured Alice, not taking her glare off of Sirius. "You've got some nerve, you know?"
"I've been told that it's part of my charm," Sirius attempted to joke but bit his lip at the very unamused stares he was getting.
"C'mon Remus, food should be there now," Alice turned her back on Sirius and made sure with a push to Remus' shoulder that he did the same. Normally, Remus would be rather indignant at all the pushing and shoving he was getting but for once, he didn't mind Alice's cross treatment towards those she despised and her overprotective streak that occasionally rounded its head.
"No, hold on!" Sirius begged, trying to come up with anything to make them stay. He didn't dare follow them into the restaurant. "I hear you guys are looking for a producer." Both Alice and Remus suddenly stopped at the comment. Remus just looked over his shoulder but Alice spun around and gave Sirius an attitude filled look that made him almost scared to challenge her.
"Yeah, what of it?"
"Well, I'm a producer," claimed Sirius, waiting for the two punks to process what he was suggesting. It didn't take long before they were snickering.
"You want to produce our music? You're fucking with me right?" laughed Alice.
"I'm completely serious. In both senses."
"Yeah, I don't think you're the kind of guy we want to produce our music," Remus said, trying and failing to keep the judgement out of his voice. "Not if your friend is any indication."
"Don't lump me in with James when it comes to producing. I know what I'm doing. Just give me the chance. If you don't like it, honestly don't like my work, then I won't bother you any more. I swear," Sirius knew that he was risking a lot. He had stopped himself from throwing in the fact that he and Remus had written a couple of songs before the break up. Although Sirius was a good producer, he wasn't sure that he was as confident as he sounded about his talents. But if it earned him a few more moments where he could try and talk to Remus, then it was worth it.
"All right then," Alice said finally, after sharing a look between Remus. "Ask your friend James for the bits that we recorded for him. See what you can do with it and contact Lily. If anything, it'll be good for a laugh."
The next few days had been a blur of borrowing guitars, renting microphones (and a mandolin), searching for small locations with good acoustics and singing harmonies under a blanket. For the first time, Sirius regretted his impulse to sell his flat in London when he ran off to Canada as he no longer had full, free access to a recording studio. The easiest solution would be for him to rent one for a day or two just to get the best quality of mixing but he decided that he was going to use what was most readily available to really prove that he was fit for the job. No one would be able to say that he was hiding behind the best quality tools instead of relying on his talents.
So, once he had copied the basic files from James' computer, Sirius set to work and used all the techniques he had learned when The Marauders recorded in their bedrooms. One thing Sirius was glad of was that he had the foresight to keep one of his smaller Moog synthesizer and a few effects pedals rather then sending them off to storage with the rest of this things from the tour. Even if he was targeting a 'punk' audience, he still wanted to put a few of his tastes into it and as of late, that had become more electronic based sounds.
Within four days, Sirius was satisfied with the two songs that he had worked on and called Lily up to set a time where he could show them off. He thought he had done a pretty good job given the quality of the original recordings and only using a laptop to record everything else. Despite this, he was nervous when all four members of Bella Donna sat on James' sofa in various states of amusement and judgement. The first song he played was Baptised by Fire. It was the one that had the most extra bits added into it. Within the first minute, the changes in their faces were immense.
There hadn't been many times in the past few months where Sirius had allowed himself to feel rather self-righteous but this probably was the closest. It was nice to see Lily and Alice share similar looks of shock and awe, especially as they had been the nastiest to him within the short period of interaction that had occurred. Dorcas, who had only been somewhat icy, seemed to be looking at him with some respect now. Then there was Remus.
His face was a little unreadable and that made Sirius nervous. Sirius wasn't sure if Remus hated the song or didn't mind it. It was Remus' approval he wanted more than anything.
Enthusiasm for making Remus his again had eased over the last few days as Sirius meditated over their encounter. Constantly pulling Remus towards him would only result in pushing him away. That was clear every time Remus tried to escape into the restaurant. If Sirius was sincere, he needed to earn his trust and respect back. He didn't care how long that would take. So any sign of approval from Remus was progress. For Sirius, it was akin to knowing where they stood.
"It so…so-" Alice attempted to convey any feeling in words but only was able to produce a rather strange circular hand gesture.
"It's lush," Lily stated, getting an enthusiastic nod from Alice.
"We've never had a mandolin in any of our songs before. But it works," observed Dorcas.
"So, he's producing the whole album then?" Remus asked the girls, but he looked Sirius straight in the eye with such intensity that Sirius felt his heart skip a beat. The look was still unreadable but there was a certain heat behind it that hadn't been there during their brief meeting at the restaurant.
"If you're okay with it Remus," Lily said, waiting for his confirmation. After a beat, Remus answered.
"When are we booking studio time then?" He asked and for a split second, Sirius swore he saw a gleam in Remus' eyes that was cause for hope.
It would have been nice if Sirius could have said that the studio time he had spent so far within such a close range to Remus was magical. It really wasn't. It had been a couple of weeks before Sirius and Bella Donna finally headed into the studio, what with them getting their songs together and whatnot. As the days passed, anticipation grew. Finally, he'd get to spend long periods of time with Remus. The only scenarios that passed through Sirius' head were of the romantic kind. He was a little worried he was turning into a huge girl like James (and told James as much) but he tried to let those thoughts pass. Unfortunately, time spent in the recording studio wasn't what he had hoped for.
Now, the reason wasn't the fact that there was no chemistry between anymore. That was actually as far from the truth as possible. They hadn't talked all that much during the recording up till this point, but Sirius couldn't help noticing how in sync they seemed to be. Sirius didn't need to try and explain too much of what he was looking for in the next vocal attempt or chord progression to Remus- he just seemed to know. Or maybe Sirius was just imagining how in sync they were and it all happened because Remus was such a good musician.
It wasn't Remus that was driving him up the walls. No, what drove Sirius a little insane was the rest of Bella Dona. They were nearing the end of another 6-hour stretch in the studio. The studio was one of four that were located in the small building, with other bands constantly flowing through. Tonight, as many other nights, they were the last band scheduled to leave. They were somewhat on track and nearing a stopping point when low and behold, Lily started to curse Sirius out and walked out of the studio. Naturally, Alice followed with a package of cigarettes and Dorcas trailed after with a sigh. It allowed Sirius with a little more alone time with Remus (Billy, the sound engineer 'discretely' left for a bathroom break). But it didn't help that he now had a splitting headache.
Sirius had only worked with a handful of artists under the title of producer but they were normally obliging. They listened to his advice and were willing to do a number of takes until things were perfect. Bella Donna, particularly Lily and Alice, were a pain in Sirius' side. They would begrudgingly agree to do retakes but eventually would argue about it. And when Sirius would try to push their limits, to push their abilities and try and get them to do something that would maybe challenge them a bit, they'd bite back with a comment or curse. It made the whole recording process tedious, stressful and much longer than it probably needed to be. After roughly a week in the studio, they'd only recorded three songs. While some bands might take the same amount of time for maybe one song, Sirius knew they could be moving faster. Also, he wasn't sure exactly how much more studio time their record company would be able to buy them. Most importantly though, he knew that the girls were giving him a hard time on purpose. They might have agreed to let him produce the album but they weren't happy about his presence in general. They still hated him.
At least Alice and Lily did. Dorcas appeared to be rather ambivalent about it all. She redid her parts with a shrug and occasionally an eye roll but seemed to take some of Sirius' advice to mind. That was all Sirius could really ask for at this point. He wasn't naïve enough to think that producing their album would automatically put him in their good books (well a part of him considered it for a moment). The begrudging respect from the day they first heard the demos had tapered off considerably.
His thoughts were interrupted when he felt someone sit next to him on the studio sofa. In what now seemed to be a conditioned reaction, Sirius felt his pulse quicken at the smell of Remus and the urge to just nuzzle his neck and inhale grew exponentially. Looking over but not willing to meet his eyes, Sirius mumbled.
"Shouldn't you be out with them bitching about me?"
"I got all my bitching out a few months ago," Remus stated simply. When Sirius didn't answer back, he continued. "Lily's just being a bitch because she thinks I'm not giving you a hard enough time."
"Don't you think you deserve to give me a hard time?" This time, Sirius risked looking at Remus and was met with a small smile.
"Yeah, I do. I guess I deserve to say quite a few things to you and I had everything planned out too. Had a whole speech that ended in me punching you. And up until a couple weeks ago, I thought I was still going through with it but you know? I just got tired. That day when you showed us the demos, I was tried because I saw you and I was angry and then I wasn't and then I thought I needed to be angry again. And I realised how stupid it was that I blamed you for everything that happened because yeah, you were a dick and didn't believe me but you didn't stuff crack up my nose. That was my choice, not yours.
"And then I realised how tired I've been all this time. Tired about thinking of what I would do when we finally met up, if we did. Tired of wondering if I was going to kiss you or punch you. Tired at letting it consume my life. So I let it go," Remus stated seriously before grinning and looking Sirius in the eye. "Besides, listening to all the songs of how I angry I was about you seemed like a fitting punishment."
"I suppose. Though if I had a choice, I would prefer the kiss over the punch," teased Sirius. That's how things seemed to be between them now. Testing waters, trying to find a comfort level. Sirius hadn't been sure of what was going through Remus' mind up until this moment. It seemed that he'd at least forgiven Sirius. For now, that seemed like enough.
"Watch it Black," warned Remus but his tone was lighter and he leaned in towards Sirius.
"Were you always this smart? Or have I only noticed it now?" Sirius asked quietly with his own lean. His heart leaped into this throat as the atmosphere thickened.
"Much as I'd hate to admit it, something from those therapy sessions must have stuck."
They sat there for longer than they wanted to know, just staring into each other's eyes and taking in the other's presence. Sirius was afraid to say anything in reply for fear that he'd break the moment. So much was running through his mind but he choose to ignore it, just so he could at least have this one moment to enjoy. Before they realised what was happening, they started to close the gap. It felt so natural and suddenly made so much sense.
Just as their lips were about to touch, they heard the doorknob turn. Both men jumped back at the sound and looked over in time to see Billy walking in.
"We've got about forty minutes left scheduled for the day. You still want to record the rest of Lily's set or move on?" he asked, sipping out of a coffee mug. A heavy breath that Sirius hadn't realised he'd held was released.
"I'll go talk some sense into her if Dorcas hasn't already," offered Remus, standing up and putting a hand on Sirius' shoulder. He gave it a squeeze before leaving. It made Sirius' thudding heart beat even faster. Another touch, another tease and another pull on Sirius' sanity. There had been many moments like this since recording started. Moments that only lasted a split second where Sirius thought that maybe there was something left to salvage between them. When he thought he found something, suddenly, it would be over and he'd feel even emptier than before. But not now. Now he was overwhelmed with ardour and gasping for more. His head swam and some of what Remus had said was floating through his head. Words spilled out of his mouth before he really had a chance to think about what he was saying.
"Remus, I'm sorry about what happened," confessed Sirius, looking Remus sincerely in the eye. An understanding nod was his affirmation.
"I know. I forgive you, do you forgive yourself?" Remus asked, raising his eyebrow before walking out the door. It left Sirius to ponder over what just transpired.
"You want me to get you a coffee? I think you need it if they convince Lily to come back," Billy asked, not knowing what was going on between the two men.
"No, no I, I need to make a call," Sirius said, pulling out his mobile and making his way towards the small kitchenette that was a sort of common room for all the studios in the small building. Given the late hour, he knew he wouldn't be disturbed until Lily calmed down. Ready or not, he sifted through his contacts and found the one number he'd been dreading to think about. After three rings, there was a frantic answer.
"Sirius? Is it really you? God, I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry. If I could go back and take it all back I swear I would!"
"I know Pete. Hey, we shouldn't do this over the phone. You want to catch lunch tomorrow? We need to talk. I've been a complete idiot about a lot of things."
Studio time had improved quite a bit after their conversation on the sofa. Lily was dragged back into the studio with a pout and forced apology on her lips. There hadn't been as large of an argument after that and the atmosphere seemed to lighten considerably. Things had actually started to become fun. The girls were more receptive to what Sirius asked of them and he could only wonder what it was that Remus had said to them. From the sulky mood that Lily and Alice seemed to be in that night Remus had dragged them back in, it must have been harsh. At least, Sirius imagined it was. The next day though, they seemed to have grown up and weren't as childish as before. They were actually working hard for their next album
Despite their eventual compliance, there were times where he'd feel their glares on his back. This mostly happened when he and Remus got particularly close, as was becoming more and more common. Every so often, they'd go up to each other, just to enjoy the company. Sometimes, if Sirius was particularly lucky, Remus would place his hand next to Sirius' so that they'd touch ever so lightly. In all these moments, Sirius just knew that he was in love more than he'd ever been. This time, he felt lighter, almost free.
Once he'd had lunch with Peter to clear up the air, a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. It was as if he'd been allowed to really feel again without a care in the world. Lily's side glares or Alice's snarky comments didn't matter. Sirius was in love with Remus and no one could say anything to make him feel otherwise. The only thing that caused him any doubt was Remus himself. Even though Sirius was happy for the time being, he was still worried about how to handle their relationship, or more accurately their friendship. He didn't dare make a move until he knew that everything was okay with Remus. Forgiveness didn't mean he was clear to resume where they'd left off and that wasn't what Sirius had in mind either.
Some of this was going through his head as the two of them walked towards Sirius' hotel. It had been a rather short session in the studio and they decided that they could clock out early with all the progress that had been made. Remus, after learning Sirius had taken a hotel room in the area, offered to walk Sirius back to his hotel. They'd taken off to enjoy the early night air while the girls headed for the tube. Arguing looks between Remus and Lily before they separated didn't escape him though. It just added to his confusion.
The walk consisted of a series of polite conversations and long silences where both men would crawl back into their own thoughts. Sirius ached to know what Remus appeared to be considering but he didn't press. The back of their hands would brush against each other every so often and he decided to be happy with that. Sooner than he'd wanted, they reached The Courtyard Hotel.
"So, this is where you're staying now?" Remus looked up at The Courtyard with a raised brow.
"Yeah, I haven't really gotten round to trying to find a more permanent place. Sold my flat before I went…before I started recording my latest album. Not sure I want to stay in London to be honest. There are better cities," shrugged Sirius. He wasn't sure if he should get the front desk to call a cab for Remus or not. Honestly, he just wanted something to do so he didn't feel so awkward and unsure. The one thing he had been waiting for was a sign from Remus, just something to tell him what was happening and what was allowed. Sirius had gone into this with a goal but just one look at Remus' eyes and he ended up confused in the dark again. He wasn't sure how Remus seemed to be able to do that to him without fail.
"Not as fancy as I thought. Thought you required at least a lion stone head on it. If I remember correctly, you were staying at the Ritz in Paris. You slumming it for any reason?" asked Remus, completely composed. Mentioning their previous rendez-vous in France made Sirius' pulse quicken. It could mean nothing. Or it could mean quite a bit. Sirius felt as if he was walking on thin ice and hoped he could make it to the other side without falling in.
"Been moving between a few. Throws off paparazzi. I've got a pretty good system now. Like I said, London's not the best city in the world. In some of them I hardly get stopped on the street."
"So you gonna invite me up?" Remus asked suddenly, causing Sirius' eyes to grow almost saucer like. The facial expression Remus employed was unreadable and Sirius felt the ice start to crack with false hope. He didn't know what Remus was suggesting and he was afraid of what it might all mean or not. Did Remus want to just have a talk? Did he have some revenge planned all this time?
Sirius stared for a few moments before answering.
"Uh, oh, sure," he stumbled a little, trying to compose himself before he led them up into his room in silence. As they walked, Sirius couldn't help but notice how much closer Remus was walking next to him now and it only made Sirius all the more nervous. By the time the elevator doors closed, he found he needed to actually think about breathing normally. Each intake of air seemed to be filled more and more with Remus' spicy scent. It made Sirius dizzy. When the elevator opened to his floor, he took a gulp of the fresh air to help him steady a bit.
"I'm probably not slumming it as much as you think," Sirius admitted when he opened the door and revealed his room. Thankfully, the maid service cleaned up his mess daily or else the room would have looked like a hurricane flew through. The room had a relatively good amount of space. It was a suite, so they saw the sofa and coffee table first. From there, an open doorway lead into the bedroom and a corner of the king-sized bed peaked through.
"There's a mini-bar if you want to help yourself. Uh, not that you have to, if you're not drinking anymore."
"Good," Sirius replied, deciding to put his hands in his pockets because they appeared awkward all of a sudden. Just as he was about to make another inane comment, Remus tackled him with a kiss.
Hands pulled Sirius' face towards Remus' and lips met in a bruising kiss. It took a few seconds for Sirius to actually register what was happening. Just as Remus slowed in uncertainty, Sirius picked up the pace. Their bodies flushed against each other's and Sirius wrapped his arms tightly around Remus' waist. When he felt a bite on his lower lip, Sirius opened his mouth so their tongues met in a rough fight as they hungrily explored mouths that were familiar and a little foreign at the same time. With a strength that was new, Remus pushed Sirius against the door. A disappointed grunt left Sirius and the sound of his back thudding against the door were heard before Remus attacked Sirius mouth with renewed vigour. Fingers inched their way under Sirius shirt and traced the area of his tattoo. He sent up thanks to whoever was in charge cosmically and had prevented his getting it removed.
They separated finally for air and Remus almost tore Sirius' jacket in half trying to get it off him.
"You've been driving me crazy," Remus growled and licked Sirius' neck. "First you're keen then you're too timid to even make a move."
"I didn't want to presume. I've been an arse to you," admitted Sirius, moaning at every touch.
"Sirius, I don't care what happens after tonight. I don't care if you decide to never talk to me again. All I wanted was one more night pretending things were okay so I could move on," stated Remus, desperately grabbing Sirius' hair and rubbing up against him in pure need. The slight pain sent just enough blood to his brain.
"No, no, no," Sirius insisted, pushing Remus away slightly so they could look each other in the eye. Loneliness and desperation swam in Remus' eyes. It made Sirius heart ache because he was the reason for it. "No, if we do this, we're not going to forget and move on. I refuse to let this mean nothing to you."
"It won't," whispered Remus, snaking arms around Sirius and nuzzling his neck.
"I never stopped loving you. I promise. I promise I won't ever stop," Sirius swore, running a hand against Remus' cheek then pulling him into a tender kiss. When they broke apart, they both shared huge grins. The heat was still there but they held back, placing their foreheads together so they could compose themselves slightly but not break the contact and understanding they had reached. Just as their breaths slowed, Sirius led them towards the bed. A few more tender kisses were shared as they sat on the edge. Sirius started to take off his shirt and he watched Remus do the same with his own clothes but stopped suddenly to fish something out of his leather jacket pocket. A smile reached Sirius' lips when he saw it was a small bottle of lube and some condoms. They kept their trousers on but took off their shoes and socks.
"Planning this for a while?" Sirius asked, pushing Remus backwards so he could straddle him.
"Like I said, I was hoping for one more night," Remus admitted between soft kisses before Sirius shushed him.
"And I would give you an eternity of nights."
"You've gotten more sentimental since we last chatted," observed Remus, smirking a little.
"Don't tell me you don't like it because I'm only this way for you."
"As long as it's only for me."
"Of course," promised Sirius, running hands over the new stomach and chest muscles. They enjoyed kissing and letting wandering hands explore their upper bodies for a while. There was no longer a rush. Lips and teeth tugged, letting moans and gasps to cover each other. Sirius found himself on top of Remus and after letting out a guttural groan, started to slowly rub their groins together. Remus breathed Sirius name and wrapped legs around his waist so they were pulled even closer together. The pace quickened a fraction when Remus dig his fingernails into the chest above him.
Not wanting to break contact, Sirius placed small kisses along Remus' collar bone and tried to undo their trouser buttons. He wasn't having much success until Remus realised what he was trying to do and assisted. Soon, they were alternating between desperately trying to get out of any item of clothing left and trying to keep as much skin to skin contact as possible. Eventually, Remus pushed Sirius away so they could tug off their underwear. He also took the opportunity to grab the bottle of lube. Once he poured a generous amount onto his hand, Sirius slipped the bottle into his grip to do the same.
Remus groaned loudly as he ran his lubed hand up and down his length. Impatiently, Sirius rubbed the lube on his cock a few times before he kissed Remus and started to rub their lengths together rapidly. Both men almost screamed in pleasure and had to fight to find a slower pace. They didn't want it to end too soon.
A slow, sensual pace was discovered and they enjoyed the heat of their bodies and the bursts of pleasure crackling between them. Remus' legs wrapped around Sirius' waist once more and he lifted up to meet every thrust, groaning each time. They weren't sure how long they lasted at this almost torturous pace but they didn't care all too much. Fingernails digging into Remus' hip and the nips turning into bites against Sirius' neck seemed a good indication for them to speed up. They raced towards completion, enjoying every jolt of pleasure, every breathy groan and slap of skin against skin. Sirius came first with a grunt but didn't stop until he felt Remus' cum joining his own.
Spent and exhausted, Sirius rolled off, letting the both of them catch their breaths. Once they cooled down, they took some time to use the tissues by the bed to clean up before lying back down. They didn't cuddle gave each other space to think about what had happened and what was going to come.
They were only about 5 inches apart but it still felt too far for Sirius. He looked at the space between them, thinking about how the wrinkled white sheets looked like an icy tundra. Sirius longed to cross it and melt into Remus but a soft pang in his chest stopped him.
"I almost died because of you. For you," whispered Remus, sad resignation flashing behind his eyes.
"I know," admitted Sirius guiltily, reaching out to stroke the arm Remus draped in the space between them. A stray finger caressed the tattoos swirling to the scars on Remus' wrists. The touch made Remus sigh and close his eyes for a moment.
"So, where do we go from here?" Remus asked, throwing Sirius off a little. Sirius hadn't expected Remus to ask him the very same question he posed that day he found him smoking outside of Sevan. Taking a moment to think before he answered, Sirius studied Remus' face. There were a few more lines around his eyes and mouth, causing Sirius to wonder whether it was from the stress of the past year or the drug binge. Or both.
Not wanting to dwell on the past right now, Sirius shifted his gaze to the slight furrow of Remus' brow and the anxiety written there. The only thought that ran through his mind was how much he wanted to kiss the worry from that brow- how he wanted to be the only one to kiss it from this moment on till his dying day. Eyes shifted to Remus' slightly chapped lips next and Sirius knew that those were the only lips that could kiss away any fear, anxiety, pain that he would ever feel. They both seemed to know what they wanted but were too scared to reach out for it. Afraid that if they allowed themselves to be happy once more, it wouldn't last and they'd go full circle, back to where it ended the first time.
At last, answer now on the tip of Sirius' tongue, he shifted his eyes to Remus' blue eyes. They seemed sadder than he remembered, almost haunted or lost maybe. Sirius wanted to lead Remus away so that he'd never have those feelings clouding his gaze ever again. The caressing hand moved from feeling the scars to entwining with Remus' fingers. Lying there, side-by-side and just studying Remus's face made Sirius feel so at peace with the world. The sensation of elation spread through his body, straight down to the very tips of his hair. With it, was a sudden realization, a life altering epiphany rained down on him. He didn't care how cliché'd it may had sounded.
Confidently, Sirius closed the gap between them. He took simple joy in just wrapping his arm around Remus' waist and twining their legs together. He kissed the furrowed brow and rested his own against it, so he could look deep into the light blue eyes. Their bodies were flushed against each other and Sirius knew this was right. He ran a soft hand through Remus' hair and earned a peaceful sigh.
The bad that had happened between them when they were together shaped them but it was in the past. Nothing could change it. All they could do was accept it and move on because there was only right now, this moment that mattered. Their breaths mingling, Sirius' heart beating in time with Remus'. If anything else horrible were to happen to them in the future, it would have to come but in the end, they'd be stronger for it. Rumours could be spread but Sirius would only have eyes for Remus. He wouldn't listen to them because he didn't care anymore what others wanted him to be. The only thing Sirius could do was try to make himself happy and right now, that meant being with Remus. They still had a great deal to talk through but this was a good start. For once, Sirius was no longer afraid. With a confident smile, he finally answered.
"We go forward."