The moon hung low in the sky as Remus waited to see if Sirius and James would show up. This was the first time Remus had come to this place when the moon wasn't full, and the clearing was darker than usual with only that small white crescent and the stars to light it. He had paced for a while, until he had tired of tripping over the uneven earth and settled his back against the bark of the largest tree on the edge of the clearing. His knees were pulled up against his chest, and his chin sat tucked between them as Remus stared pensively up at the sky.
He knew there were no people for miles, so he didn't startle at the small animal sounds that occasionally broke the silence. He wasn't worried about someone stumbling across their secret place, but he was worried that the two of them, James and Sirius, might not come. He had sent them each a message earlier in the day, explaining just enough to hopefully get them there. He hadn't wanted to risk using owls, and that meant using his patronus to communicate.
The moon hadn't moved perceptibly higher before Remus finally heard the twin cracks of apparition. Sirius and James appeared together in the center of the clearing. James reaching out a hand to grip Sirius's upper arm, steadying them both. Moonlight glinted on his glasses as he searched for Remus in the shadowed edges.
"I'm here," Remus called, unfolding stiff limbs and pushing to his feet.
"All right, Moony?" James said, striding over to pull him into a quick embrace. Remus allowed himself to relax into the warmth of it, letting some of the tension leak out of his body now that James had actually come. "All in one piece?" James stood back and gave him a grinning inspection, patting over Remus's shoulders and down his arms.
"Got a wicked paper cut a couple of days ago," Remus answered. He held up his thumb and wiggled it. "Hurt like billy-o."
James laughed and clapped his shoulder, turning to look at Sirius who hadn't moved from the spot he'd appeared. "Did you splinch your brain, Padfoot? Toddle on over here and say hello, why don't you?"
"When did you get back?" Sirius asked, finally moving toward them, his expression unreadable.
"Today," Remus said.
James and Sirius exchanged glances. Remus had the feeling they had been making their own inquiries about his whereabouts.
"Well, two days ago I finished with what Dumbledore had sent me off on, but I took an extra day for myself to-to research something. What I wanted to talk to you about." His eyes flicked to the knapsack he'd tucked against the side of the tree.
"You didn't say much," Sirius said. His voice was flat, but he didn't sound angry at least. Not like most of the last several times he and Remus and spoken.
"Well, I couldn't risk it, could I?" Remus settled cross-legged on the ground, motioning for them to do the same. "And it's...complicated. I need time to explain."
"You said it's important," James said, hesitating. "About Lily and Harry."
Remus nodded. "Yes."
James sat, too, watching Remus gravely, but Sirius just stood, the fingers of one hand flexing and closing spasmodically. "I don't think-"
"Sirius," James said evenly, "just sit down." Remus was grateful to James again. Of course, he was the only reason they had shown. It was no secret that suspicion clung to Remus like an invisible, noisome odor these days. It just hurt that it had permeated his innermost (and what he always dreamed untouchable) circle.
"Just give me a chance to explain, all right?" Remus watched Sirius as he grudgingly hunkered down next to James. Sirius stared back, uncharacteristically silent.
Remus had told them of the blood magic he'd been researching for Lily. James had been thoughtful, nodding as if he had almost suspected something like this. Sirius had not been so receptive.
"Blood magic is dodgy," he said. "Half the books in my father's library deal with it. It's Dark Arts you're playing with, and I don't think you should be messing with it, nor involving Lily with that shite."
"It isn't all like that. It doesn't have to be," Remus protested, ready for these accusations. "Blood magic goes way back, it's ancient. And it doesn't have to be...twisted that way. Intent counts, motivation and...well, it's not necessarily Dark. Half the stuff I read came from books Dumbledore gave me."
"And the other half?" Sirius countered.
"Let's just say I've been to some interesting places this past year, and I've stumbled across some...informative texts." To emphasize his point he drew a bundle out of his pack. It was wrapped in several layers of rough, brown fabric. Remus unbound it carefully to reveal a heavy book. A muttered Lumos shone on its mottled leather cover. The book was obviously old and rare with an aura of deep magic. Sirius and James leant forward to examine it, and James let out a low whistle.
"Where did you get this? It must be worth-"
"Nicked it from a rare book dealer in Romania," Remus said, and he flushed when they looked at him in stunned surprise.
"I'll give it back when-when we're through with it.: He shrugged. "No way I could pay for it, and, well, we need it. I know it's wrong but-"
"Moony," James breathed, caught between astonishment and a leftover bit of marauderly pride. Even Sirius grinned at him for a moment, and Remus gave them a sheepish grin in return.
"So, this is what you and Lily have been working on?"
James's question brought Remus back to the moment. "No." He shook his head. "That's taken care of. Lily, well, she's got her own ideas about protecting Harry. This is something different." He drew in a deep breath and looked from Sirius to James. "This is something that I can do." For all of you," Remus thought. "But I need your help."
It hadn't been easy to convince them, not that he was expecting it would be. Sirius was suspicious. James was worried, and maybe he was suspicious too, but only hid it better. Remus had gone over it again and again, trying to satisfy all their questions, without revealing things they couldn't know about yet, not if he wanted to stand any chance of having them agree.
"Look, it comes down to this," Remus finally sighed. "Do you want to protect your family? Lily and Harry? Are you going to leave it all to Dumbledore? Do you really trust that he's got things under control?"
James and Sirius both frowned at that.
"The Prewetts, Davy, Em..." Remus faltered. "I don't-I can't think about that happening to any of you. And I know-I know you have...questions about me, but-" Dropping his head, he swallowed deeply. "I know you'll be doing the Fidelius soon. This might be my last chance to see you. All of you. Sirius will be in danger, too. Going into hiding."
Remus lifted his head to look at them. Nobody said anything, but he thought he saw a fleeting expression of consciousness and guilt cross each of their faces.
"Please let me do this," he begged. "Tr-trust me."
"But," James finally said after a long silence. "But, what you're talking about, it isn't blood magic, is it? It's sex magic." Sirius shifted beside him, but the shadows from the overhanging branches obscured his face.
"It is. Or it's both, really, but, yes." Remus nodded. "It is sex magic. It's-it's what we have to do tonight."
"Why tonight?" Sirius asked suddenly.
"Do we have a lot of time on our hands?" Remus sounded wry and a little sad.
"Why us? I mean, why the three of us?"
"Can't you work it out, James?" Remus opened the book he still held, finding the leaf he wanted. "There are many books that hint at ancient rituals, but this one-this one gives details, words, formulas, instructions. It's still...flexible. You have to make it your own, but the outline is there. We need three. You know three is a powerful number in magic. Five is good, too, but having that many people makes it more complicated. We could bring in Peter. Who else? Would you want Lily here?"
He waited for James to say something, and when he didn't Remus continued. "For this kind of protective magic there has to be a connection, a deep connection, for it to work. There doesn't have to be love." Remus looked at Sirius. "People have invoked it even when some of the...participants were unwilling. And there's your Dark magic. But with love, it becomes stronger. The stronger the love, the stronger the protection."
"How does it-"
"Work?" Remus interrupted. "We, er, fuck, rather a lot. All night long, in fact, until daybreak." He couldn't help the nervous laughter and blush that flooded his cheeks. At least his color was impossible to discern in the darkness.
Sirius barked out a startled laugh. "That's it?"
"Well, no. There are rituals and spells, and some knife work. Hence, the stolen goods." Remus waved his hand over the book. "But, basically, we start off slow and build up energy between us. We feed on it and feed it to each other, and it grows and grows, until we're ready to channel it, and then-" He shrugs again. "Hopefully, it works when you need it."
"So, there are no guarantees?" James leaned close to peer at Remus.
"Are there ever?"
Remus willed his wand to burn brighter, illuminating all their faces. "Are you in or out?"
Sirius's face was still unreadable. He looked from the open book to Remus, his mouth working as he met Remus's eyes. James jumped in first, though.
"In," he said, an echo of that cocky boy he used to be (and still mostly was) in his voice.
"In," Sirius said, more subdued, but not wavering.
"What do we do?" they asked, and Remus began preparing the clearing. With his wand he drew a perfect circle around them that for a moment glowed an intense bright blue before fading to a softer light. He blinked away the after-image and lit the need-fire in the center. He stoked the flames until they were chest high, and instructed the other two to strip. He undressed while they did trying not to let his eyes stray to the sight of them backlit against the orange flames.
"We have to go through the flames three times. For cleansing." Before they could protest, Remus lightly stepped over the burning wood, passing through the flames without harm. On the other side, he laughed.
That sent James and Sirius scrambling to be next, and each boy passed through to find Remus smiling. They repeated their actions twice more, and the fire surged higher.
"Come here." Remus drew them both toward him by their wrists and pulled them down to kneel facing each other. "I'll be the fulcrum," he explained. "It just means that one of us has to be the focus, the one to channel the power at the end."
"Why you?" Sirius challenged.
"Well, I know all the ritual, the incantations, the symbols. There isn't time for you or James to study it. Also-" Remus ducked his head a little. "There are other benefits to it being me."
"Like what?" asked James.
"If-well, there's kind of a intensifier, a power bonus in certain cases," Remus murmured. "If-when-a virgin acts as the fulcrum." He didn't look up, and James and Sirius didn't say anything. Remus wondered how he could get through a night of group sex if he couldn't even get through this part without turning a violent shade of red.
Suddenly, James and Sirius were snickering. "So, you're what-like a virgin sacrifice, then?" Sirius fell about laughing harder.
"Shut it," Remus grumbled, but the corner of his mouth twisted up a bit. This was only the reaction he was expecting after all.
James, leaned against Sirius trying to get his laughter under control. "Sorry, Remus. It's just-" He went off on a spate of giggles again. Some of the nervous energy of the group dissipated and Remus mock-glared at other two.
"I'm not a virgin sacrifice, wankers. Just be glad I'm not a slag like you two." Remus lifted his chin and stood to retrieve his knapsack.
"Oi! That's slander," Sirius called after him.
"Yeah," James agreed. "I was never half the slag Sirius was. Ow!" He rubbed his arm where Sirius punched him.
"Whatever." Remus knelt down. "Look here." He pulled three stoppered vials out of the bag and placed them in the grass in from of them. "We need to drink these."
"What are they?" Sirius sounded wary.
"The first one is for stamina. You did hear me say we'll be going all night, right? It will keep us awake and focused. The second lowers inhibitions. It will help us...merge our energy, you could say, and also make this thing easier for all of us considering we've never all of us had it off together before. And James is married and mostly straight, so-"
"Mostly!" James shot Remus an indignant look.
"Did you really think I didn't know about what you two used to get up to?"
James and Sirius just gaped at him.
"Your silencing charms weren't always effective, and I'm not stupid besides."
"Why didn't you say something?" Sirius asked.
"It wasn't my business, was it?"
"It wasn't that much," James said, looking from Sirius to Remus, sounding like he was choosing his words carefully. "Just now and again, and never after Lily and I-"
"I know," said Remus.
"Did Peter know?" Sirius asked suddenly.
"Oh, probably. He was always cleverer than you gave him credit. But we never talked about it."
"Anyway, this is all beside the point and-"
Sirius interrupted him.
"Wait-you said James is mostly straight. Does that mean-"
"Mean what, Sirius?" Remus had harbored a vague dread of a moment like this. A moment where the unspoken would come to light.
"Are you...not straight, then?"
"I think you know the answer to that," Remus said quietly. "Both of you do."
Everyone let that statement settle and sink in, and James looked from Remus to Sirius again, shifting uncomfortably. Remus wondered if the presence of the underlying tension that had marked his relationship with Sirius for years would finally be consciously, even verbally, acknowledged. He forced himself to meet Sirius's eyes.
"Is this why-"
"No!" Remus said fiercely. "I wouldn't-" Forcing himself to take a deep breath, he continued. "I didn't plan this as some sort of pathetic seduction, Sirius. All right? I'm not as useful to the Order as you two are. Dumbledore has to be careful with what he lets me do, and I hate it." Remus twisted his fingers into the grass beside his knees, fingers digging into the damp soil.
"All the secretive missions that won't do sod all to protect anyone, and reading through moldering books until I'm half blind. Well, at least that part has paid off. This is what I found, what I worked out. Something I could do that might actually stand a chance to help. And I'd do it all myself if I could, but it doesn't work like that, so...so..."
"Remus." James reached out and grasped his shoulder. "It's all right," he said soothingly. squeezing softly. "I trust you."
Remus hitched a breath, nodded once, his over-grown fringe falling across his eyes. He didn't, couldn't, look at them. James let his hand fall as he leaned back. It seemed Sirius was never going to speak again, so Remus held out a slightly trembling hand and pointed to the last vial.
"The third one is an aphrodisiac. It doesn't just turn you on, it helps keep you, well, hard, the whole time. It also might have mild hallucinogenic effects."
He picked up the first vial and popped the cork. "I'll drink first." He hoped the gesture would appease Sirius. Drinking the potions at all would certainly violate the rule Moody had drilled into them all about taking unknown substances from outsiders, and Remus wasn't quite sure if Sirius had placed him in that category despite his participation tonight. He took a big swallow and held it out between them. James moved to take it, but Sirius was there first, the long column of his neck gleaming in the firelight as he swallowed. He passed it to James who finished it. They drained the next two potions and Remus put the empty vials back in the pack. In front of the fire he laid out a plain linen cloth and placed on it the book, a small silver knife, a small pouch, and a bowl filled with a musk-scented, wax-like substance that began to melt and glisten next to the heat.
"You have to be quiet now while I recite the beginning words." Remus stood and stretched out his hands toward them, palms up. "We have to touch."
James took his hand first, then Sirius, and he pulled them to their feet. They joined hands with each other to complete the circle, and Remus tilted his head up, staring at the stars. In clear, ringing Latin he chanted, repeating the words again in Greek. James and Sirius watched him with something like awe as Remus switched again to another language, Aramaic, though they didn't recognize it. His inflection was flawless and as he spoke each felt a tingling shiver brush down their spine. Finally, syllables like antiquities tumbled from Remus's mouth, low and guttural and making the very air around them settle on their shoulders like a heavy weight.
Remus raised their clasped hands toward the sky as the last words rang out in the clearing. When all was silent again except for the crackling flames, he lowered his arms and knelt down to dip his fingers into the softened musk. Silently, he stood and daubed the oil onto first Sirius, then James: fingertips pressed to temples, brushing across cheekbones, over the heart, ghosting nipples, and finally, lightest of touches to cocks that were already lifting and filling in response. Whatever he had invoked was working. The air was electric and all of them reeled with it, waves of dizziness sending them to their knees.
"It's all right to talk now," Remus whispered. He looked at Sirius, and God, he was too beautiful for words, painful to see, all the buried want and longing Remus had felt for so long surging up unfettered in an overwhelming wave. Remus forced himself to look at James instead.
"Remus." James was almost whispering, too. "What do we do now?"
He smiled a little, lips curving up in a shy grin. "Whatever you want. I think that we're supposed to build up gradually...to things. Maybe-maybe we could all-" He made a somewhat crude gesture that should have been incongruous with the situation, but somehow wasn't, and his grin turned sheepish. "For the first-you know-"
"Orgasm?" Sirius supplied with a smirk.
"Yes, ta, Sirius." Remus huffed.
"Okay." James grinned. "First one to come is a-"
"Are you twelve?" Remus groaned. "Focus, please."
They laughed and for a moment Remus felt like they were back at school, ready to implement their latest prank. Then the scent of the musk intensified and a wind blew across the fire sending a wave of heated air across their bare skin.
"Watch me," breathed Sirius, and he took his cock in hand pumping the shaft in a slow, excruciating rhythm. Without thought, James and Remus mimicked his motions. Remus couldn't take his eyes away. Sirius's hand moved hypnotically, the head of his cock glistening, disappearing and reappearing in the tight coil of his fist as he worked the hard flesh. Remus looked up to find Sirius watching him. Their eyes locked and heat curled low in Remus's belly, his own hand pulling faster. When James groaned they both looked at him as he arched his back and neck and slid his other hand to cup and pull at his balls.
"Fuck," Sirius whispered, wetting his lips with a slow swipe of his tongue. Remus stared at his mouth, entranced by the way Sirius's lips parted and glistened as he panted in concert with his stroking hand. Then Sirius was looking back at Remus, leaning forward and sliding his hand behind Remus's neck, pulling him in and kissing him with urgency and slick, wet sounds. He drew Remus's tongue into his mouth and sucked, making Remus rock forward and whimper, and just like that Remus was coming, spilling over his hand and into the grass between them.
Sirius swallowed his moans, his own orgasm coming on the heels of Remus's, and then James was crying out, pulling Sirius away to lick inside Remus's mouth with a moan. They kissed until Sirius insinuated himself between them, trading more, first with James then Remus, back and forth until their lips were red and swollen.
James and Sirius moved together in that unspoken way they'd always had, seamlessly, to push Remus down to the grass. His eyes were wide open and liquid, pupils dilated so much his eyes looked black. The air seemed to shimmer between them and Remus blinked slowly up at them as if to clear his vision. His lips parted soundlessly and James bent to kiss him again. Then Sirius was touching him, too, long hair dragging across Remus's skin as Sirius mouthed over his throat, sucking at his pulse point, moving lower over his chest, tonguing his nipples, under his arms, along each rib. He shivered, pointing his toes and arching off the grass.
Soft laughter against his ear as James moved, dipping his tongue in and licking the lobe while Sirius moved his mouth lower, following the light trail of hair down to Remus's cock. Remus gasped as the warmth of Sirius's mouth enveloped him. Nothing had ever felt this good, nothing, and Remus almost sobbed as Sirius pulled his mouth away.
"Watch me," Sirius said again in a husky voice, peering at Remus through a fall of dark hair. Lifting up to his elbows, Remus obeyed, locking his eyes on the sight of his cock disappearing between Sirius's full lips. Next to him James watched too, sliding his hand up to flick at Remus's nipples. He moaned, fighting to keep still, to not collapse and just thrust up mindlessly into that tight, hot mouth. Then James slid down next to Sirius, spreading Remus wider and licking at his balls and the skin behind them, back up again to lick at the exposed skin of his shaft when Sirius moved up to suck the head. Their tongues were colliding now, twisting together, and they were kissing each other around his cock and he'd never imagined anything so hot, so electric. He fell back against the grass writhing as he came again, painting their faces with his come, and shuddering with sensation as they licked each other clean.
His chest hadn't stopped heaving as they knelt up to look at him. They were leaning together, James's arm around Sirius's waist, his other hand stroking slowly down his belly. Sirius's eyes fluttered closed for a moment as James brushed over his cock and he turned his head to kiss him. A string of saliva trailed between them as they broke away and James reached out tenderly to wipe his thumb across Sirius's lower lip. The tenderness displayed caused his heart to clench a little, and he tried to ignore the pang by pushing up off the grass, wanting to do something, but-but he didn't know what to do, where to fit in here.
It was Sirius, as he so often did, who instinctively acted. "Remus," he murmured. "I want to fuck you."
Remus felt his insides go liquid.
"Can I fuck you, Remus?"
"Yes," he said, heedless that his voice sounded so hoarse and needy.
Sirius crawled around behind Remus, pulling him back against his chest to graze his teeth along Remus's neck. "I'm going to fuck you, Remus," he said. "Going to fuck you so good. And you, you're going to suck James, yeah? Wouldn't you like that, love?"
Remus moaned. He could feel the magic rippling over his skin, building, and the small hairs standing up all over his body. He nodded, head lolling back against Sirius's shoulder.
"Tell James you want it."
"Oh," he breathed, lifting a hand toward James. "James, I want..." He swallowed. Flushed. "Please, I want to suck you."
James crawled forward, trapping Remus between them as he claimed his mouth with a fierce kiss. "Since you ask so nicely." And then James was pulling back and Sirius was pushing him forward onto his elbows and knees. He dipped his fingers into the bowl of oil and the scent of musk got heavier, combining in the air with the scent of their own come and sweat.
One slick finger pushed into Remus and he sucked in a breath, holding it as Sirius slid it slowly in and out. "Easy," James whispered, carding his hands in Remus's hair. Remus let out the breath and breathed as Sirius added another finger, stretching him carefully. Then the fingers pulled away and he made a soft sound of protest. The unmistakable sounds of Sirius slicking his cock kept him still and trembling, and as he felt Sirius's erection nudging at his arse, his fingers spreading him wide, James tugged his head up and moved closer.
"Open your mouth, Remus."
Remus did, and as the first bit of Sirius's cock breached him, James slid his cock into Remus's mouth. Oh, God. The stretch burned, the pressure in his arse felt both strange and wonderful, but he whimpered, tensing at the pain. The weight of James's cock against his tongue helped him bear it, and he focused on its taste and texture, marveling at the smooth skin as he did his best to lick and suck. Sirius slid in further, murmuring soothing nonsense sounds and grunting as he finally sheathed himself fully inside Remus's arse. Both boys began to move then, Remus between them. They started slowly, pushing him back and forth in a rhythm of their choice. His own cock hung heavy between his legs, grazing the soft grass beneath them.
The pain subsided, turning into molten pleasure as Sirius's cock stroked into him in sharper thrusts, brushing over a spot that made Remus see silver trails against his eyelids. His mouth was full of James and Remus struggled to breathe through his nose as best he could, but he reveled in the feel of it, being caught between the two of them. He wanted to please them, make himself willing and pliant and eager to make up for his lack of experience. His balls ached, slapping against his skin as they tossed him back and forth faster and harder. He moaned helplessly around James's cock and James tightened his fingers in Remus's hair.
"Don't come yet," he ground out. "Not yet."
Remus whimpered as James shouted and shoved in deep, straining forward to meet Sirius an open mouthed tangle of tongues as Sirius, too, thrust deep one last time and groaned in climax. The moment stretched and then James pulled back and Remus was gasping for air, barely having time to breathe before Sirius hauled him up against him, still pressed up deep inside, and jerked Remus to completion.
The moon was straight above them now. The boys were lying in a tangled heap, not spent, not exhausted, but basking for a few still moments in the starlight and the magic and the feel of each other's skin. The countless permutations and positions they had experienced this night made them feel as if they had crawled inside each other, skin and blood warming them. The could hear each beating heart like a tribal drum sounding just for them.
An Aguamenti had provided the only refreshment they needed, had cooled their throats and wrists and temples, and cleaned what bodily fluids that hadn't been smeared into flesh or licked away as desired. But there was still more to do and Remus forced himself to disentangle from the protesting pile of limbs and lips.
"The second ritual," he said, pointing at the knife and the book.
James and Sirius rose with languid motions and settled next to him, reaching out without thought to touch him and each other.
"What is it?" James asked.
"The blood ritual. It binds us together and gives the ritual power." He pointed to the diagram on the facing leaf. "I need one of you to carve that here." He pointed to the left side of his chest. "There's another incantation. Then I take blood from each of you. Just a small cut. And then we mix our blood. Share it."
"I'll do it," Sirius said. He had always had a steady hand, and he had a natural talent for art he'd put to use in the past for them. He studied the diagram for several moments, then urged Remus closer to the fire so the light of the flames played over his chest. He frowned a little as he picked up the knife. It looked sharp and dangerous.
"I remember when we thought werewolves were allergic to silver."
"Yes, arses. You kept trying to suss out if I was one by dropping your stupid poncy hairbrush in front of me." Remus snorted.
"Would it have killed you to pick it up?" Sirius managed to sound sulky.
"I can't believe you're still on about that. I was petrified you were going to find out and tell everyone if you knew for sure. I wasn't stupid, you know. And subtlety wasn't your strong suit. Do you really think I should've offered proof up on a platter?"
"A silver platter, yes."
James and Sirius sniggered.
"Prats." Remus smiled indulgently. "Get on with it, then."
The smile dropped off Sirius's face and he moved closer, smoothing his fingers over Remus's chest.
"Will it scar?" he asked softly, meeting Remus's eyes.
Remus nodded. "Shame to spoil my unblemished skin," he joked. "But all for a good cause."
Sirius didn't smile, but he bent forward and gently kissed the spot where his fingers had been. With a deep breath he made the first cut, and James gripped Remus's hand in his own, letting him bear down hard as the sting of the sharp knife penetrated his nerve endings. Sirius's brow wrinkled with concentration as he double-checked the figure and carved it slowly and carefully into Remus's skin. When he was done, Remus was breathing shallowly and the blood was dripping down from the symbol in narrow lines. Unsteady at first, Remus began to speak the words the ritual required and the magic gathered around them again, lifting strands of their hair and making sparks fly when they shifted against the grass or each other.
"Now...now you," Remus breathed, taking the knife from Sirius and just barely pressing the tip against the skin over Sirius's heart. A single drop welled up slowly and began to slide as another pooled in its place. He turned to James and cut him, too. His throat tightened with emotion as he looked at them, his friends, his family, lovers tonight, and he bent his head to the lick the blood from James and then Sirius.
It was if he had received a direct infusion of the strongest, most intense drug he could conceive of. He had thought the potions were intoxicating, but they were nothing to this. He felt pumped full of stimulants, but ones that didn't make him jittery or nervous. He felt filled with exquisite perception and lightness and aliveness. He couldn't-didn't know how to describe it. He straightened up and gasped, eyes wide with wonder.
"You're glowing," Sirius said, awed. James stared, too, lifting a hand to trace the outline of his face.
"Take his blood," Remus answered. "Taste it."
Sirius bent his head and licked the red line up James's chest, shivering as he pulled away, and James was there lapping at Sirius and then pulling away with a look of raw hunger.
They turned to Remus and dove into him as one, so that he dropped the knife and fell back, bracing himself with his hands as their tongues traced over the symbol Sirius had covered. Every last drop of blood was licked up and swallowed, and as their tongues traced the symbol the lines glowed hot and red before healing and fading to a silvery gray.
They fell in a tumble of limbs and thrusting, static and ozone snapping around and between them.
"Fuck me," Remus groaned, begging. "Fuck me. Both of you."
Fingers inside him. From both of them. Sirius. James. Working him open, slick and insistent, pulling incessant moans from his throat. He begged incoherently as someone pushed a cock inside him, the other's fingers beside it, twisting and scissoring, and then, Oh, God, then another cock pushing in beside the first. Remus's legs bent and spread wide, his body doubled, rocking his shoulders into the earth. "More. More." His voice unrecognizable and coming from somewhere far away; underneath the ground or hidden behind the clouds in the sky.
And when they plunged in and out again and again, spilling their seed into each other and the earth, underneath the moon that Remus couldn't even hate tonight, he cried out, "Again, again."
When the darkness finally began to lift and the black sky shaded toward gray three boys lay together on the grass, moving only to kiss and shift and give access to mouths and necks and hands as they so desired. When the faintest tinge of pink appeared, Remus reluctantly pulled himself away and moved to picked up the pouch that lay next to the waning fire.
"The final ritual."
"Wait," Sirius called softly, reaching out to pull Remus back into his arms. His thumb brushed across Remus's cheek and he just stared for a long moment before leaning in to kiss him slowly and tenderly. Remus didn't protest. This was it, the end of the ritual, the night, and maybe of whatever temporary truce that had existed between them. He couldn't think about that now, though. Couldn't think about how he'd be able to go on as usual when he'd finally gotten everything he'd ever wanted, and it was only for one short, magnificent, unreal, night.
Sirius let him go and Remus picked up the pouch and the knife. James knelt beside him and watched as he poured the contents into a pile in front of him. A lock of red hair and of fine, soft black fell to the grass.
"Lily gave them to me," Remus said softly. He looked at James and held up the knife, reaching to tug at a wayward lock of hair James still couldn't control. James nodded, eyes locked on the locks of his hair that belonged to his wife and son as Remus made the cut and added the dark wisps to the pile.
"Sirius?" Remus asked, waiting for him to incline his head and then tilt his neck, offering access to the hair growing from his nape. Remus smoothed his fingers there before lifting and severing the silky strands. He resisted the urge to bring them to his lips before placing them with the others.
Clasping their hands in a mirror of the first ritual they rose, and Remus began the final incantation. His voice rang clear and true, and as the first rays of the sun appeared over the horizon the pile of hair burst into flames.