Pairing: Sirius/Remus (unrequited Remus/Tonks)
Warnings: schmoop, mild angst, happy ending
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my underwear. J. K. Rowling owns the rest.
Summary: It's over but not for Remus, he has one last thing to do, one last chance to say what should have been said long ago.
A/N: I haven't abandoned Explosions. I swear. I'm working on it. Painfully slow. Guh. I'm really sorry, but I promise it WILL be finished. This was just supposed to be a quick drabble for this prompt: "Remus/Sirius One (or both) had feelings for the other when they were younger, but never acted on it. After all these years, they finally do. Can be set during GOF/OOTP, but I'd prefer a post-war AU. I like happy endings, sue me ;)" in the Harry Potter Comment Ficathon on LJ.
There's a heavy silence hanging in the air. Nymphadora's hands are shaking and she compulsively cracks her knuckles for the millionth time in the last few minutes, the sound grating on Remus' nerves. He says nothing.
The body lying in front of them, pale and sickly warm starts shaking and Dora, after a long moment, finally gets up, looks around and makes to call for a Healer, but Remus grabs her wrist and shakes his head.
"He just needs to come down from his fever, don't worry, he's fine," he says and repeats it just for good measure. He's fine, he's fine, he's fine…
It's obvious they won't be joined by anyone for quite some time as the last of the visitors left not even fifteen minutes ago. It seems that this gives Dora the courage she'd been looking for and an opportunity she won't likely find again in the near future as she clears her throat and moves her chair closer to him. Remus is so very tired.
"Remus," she begins, her voice weak, "about- about that-"
"Dora. Please, not now," he begs because he wants to postpone this moment until it's forgotten and the need to be had is long gone.
"I- I really need to say this, Remus. I really do."
She sounds so small and scared and still so hopeful that Remus just closes his eyes for a few seconds, a gesture she takes as permission to go on and she clears her throat again and takes a deep breath.
"It wasn't a spur of the moment thing, you know that. I have feelings for you and it may have been a stupid thing to do, but I meant it, Remus and I don't regret it."
Remus stays silent, afraid to turn and look at her, eyes gazing (not so) steadily forward, dragging the already long moment until the silence stops being comfortable and then he drags it some more, punishing, hurting himself, regrettably punishing Dora, too.
His eyes remain glued to the bed in front of him on the now still body lying on top of it. He tracks a particularly deep, angry-red scar running down the length of the arm visible to him, a scar that won't ever be healed as he had been informed, and he thinks maybe he should say something.
Nothing comes to mind.
"Remus?" Dora encourages him patiently, curiously, needy a mean part of his brain supplies.
"You kissed me," he states as if it's something either of them might have missed. "But you have to know, Dora, I don't- I. I'm sorry. You know I've never felt- never showed…" It had been so much easier in his mind. Where did this stuttering come from? Remus sighs, the words 'I don't love you, never could,' sounding awful even in his own mind.
"I just- I just thought, what with the battle and everything, it's now or never, right?" she says shakily and sniffles and Remus finds to his horror that she's on the verge of tears and no, no, no, she can't break down. Not now, not here. He's barely holding on himself, her words hit too close for comfort, but she doesn't seem to notice, she just goes on, "and maybe, maybe if there was the slightest chance- I had to know, right? If something happened- if you- or I had or, or…I just needed to say. So, so I thought- but clearly it wasn't- I wasn't. I'm sorry."
It's a fast jumble of words, messy at best, but Remus knows what she's trying to say. They're words he has been thinking over and over for two days now. They're words he has had on his lips for more days than he could possibly count.
"I should go," she says after what feels like eons. She gets up, jumping to her feet, gathering her things hurriedly, "I have- Mum is alone, I should- I'll see you later," she mumbles and Remus tries so hard to look at her and she tries so hard to keep her eyes steady and this is too painful and Remus is drained and he needs to sleep, he needs to eat, he needs to loosen his muscles and he needs to get out, but not yet. Not before- "Owl me if something changes," Dora says and with a small, watery smile she turns around and leaves the room.
"Why do people keep coming to me? I'll never understand," he wonders aloud in the nearly empty room.
He closes his eyes against the brightness coming form the windows ('no one's dead in here, for Merlin's sake, Remus, don't close the bloody curtains,' Bill had insisted) and thinks of Dora's words; thinks of his own, tickling the edge of his tongue, and he's burning with the need to finally speak them, let them free, set himself free.
He drops his head on the bed and brings up his hand blindly searching for the immobile one next to his head. He clutches it tight and he can feel the prickle behind his eyes so he keeps them shut, trying not to break; not now, not here.
"Wake the fuck up, already. I have something I need to tell you."
On the bed, Sirius remains unconscious.
It's been four days since Harry lived up to what the Wizarding world has been waiting for since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (but apparently can be now) rose to power. It's been four days since the Darkest-Wizard-of-All-Time was defeated. It's been four days since the bodies of wizards and witches that fought in the Final Battle were finally put to rest regardless of where their loyalties used to lay.
It's been four days since Remus found Sirius' beaten body near the Forbidden Forest, bloody and pale, but thankfully ('God, thank you, thank you, oh God, thank you') alive.
Remus has never had to sit so many hours next to a bed in a hospital. It's not his place to look after someone; he's the one doing the lying-on-the-bed part usually and needing to be taken care of. Or had been at the very least. He had forgotten what it was like to have someone to smile at you and make you forget your own pain until Sirius came back to him.
The room's almost never empty. People stop by often, many of them Remus has never met before, but when a story such as Sirius' gets out, people are suddenly compassionate and forgiving and caring (and nosy and curious) and they want to show it.
Harry comes almost every six hours, like clockwork, the Healers annoyed at his coming-and-goings as he's been visiting many different rooms and people seem to want to gather around him even more than before. The Weasleys and Hermione show up often too and other people they have known forever; McGonagall, Rosmerta, Slughorn and even some old classmate of theirs that Remus could've sworn had vehemently hated Sirius back in the days.
The battle hadn't lasted long, the news hitting them almost straight away and Remus had been sitting with Dora and Kingsley, waiting for that very moment, the final moment, the now-or-never of their world standing up to fight.
And Sirius hadn't been there.
Remus had fought as if it was the last thing he got to do, and who knew? Maybe it would be, but Remus fought, hard and furiously, but still, there was something else he had to do- if there was one last thing before the end, he had to- he couldn't die and not…
He had to find Sirius.
Remus berates himself. It's a stupid thing to do, start looking back now, regretting and wishing for things that were over. Sirius is here, alive and he'll wake up. He'll wake up and Remus will finally tell him, he'll cast a binding spell if he has to, but Sirius will sit right there and he's going to listen to him and he'll know. It will be off of Remus' chest at long last and then Sirius can do whatever he deems fit to do with the sodding information.
"Excuse me, is this Mr. Black's room?" a delicate voice comes from behind him.
"Piss off," Remus mutters and he half hopes the person didn't hear him, half hopes they did and would do as suggested.
"I'm doing an article-"
"Do you think Mr. Black is in any state to be giving an interview? Unless you're willing to perform Legilimency," Remus snaps and he knows he is being incredibly rude, but he's been craving sleep or alcohol for days now and the hospital won't allow any Firwhiskey here and he's not leaving Sirius and he's so tired.
"I- I thought, m-maybe you-"
"No," he growls and he thinks he can hear the noise as spit is forced down the journalist's dry throat before they turn and leave.
"I hate hospitals," he informs no one in particular.
"I thought maybe you would've finally gotten used to them by now," comes a raspy, whispery voice and Remus could have been all the way across the room and still hear it.
"Maybe I would've if you hadn't landed your arse here, somehow," Remus says and he breathes, he finally breathes and it feels like it's been years since he lasted tasted oxygen.
"It was that fucking scum, Avery," Sirius' sneer is somehow impressive, Remus has to note with fondness even if his eyes are still closed.
"He was found dead," Remus informs Sirius.
"'Course he was," it's the immediate reply and Remus wants to weep with relief and something else that's clogging up his throat and feels a lot like love. Sirius is smirking.
There's a silence as Remus waits for Sirius to ask what he's afraid of asking, until he can't take anymore of Sirius' mouth tightening, lips morphing into a thin line, nostril's flaring and then relaxing only to start the cycle all over again.
"Harry's alive. He killed Voldemort." Remus doesn't need to say anything else, not right now. The important stuff's out; Voldemort is dead and Harry and Remus himself are alive; Sirius won't mind for anything else for some time.
"'Course he did. He's James' son," Sirius says with affection, pride and a note of sadness that Remus suspects he can only detect because Sirius has been conscious for less than an hour.
"That he is," Remus agrees and touches Sirius' arm lightly. "I'm calling a Healer," he tells him softly.
The next hour and a half passes in a blur of colours and voices and movement, so much movement Remus gets dizzy and he has to sit in a corner and wait as the people around him – around them – start thinning out.
The Healers force down Sirius' throat a good load of different potions, instructing him on how to eat, sit, use magic and pee until it's clear Sirius is getting angry and they leave with the promise to check on him in six hours. Remus sardonically thinks how this will most probably coincide with Harry's next visit.
Of all the guests (how the hell did so many people find out so soon?), Harry is the last one to leave and the last one in a long line of apparently worried friends, to ask him to go home and sleep. Remus smiles tiredly and nods as if this had been his exact plan of action all along.
"You look like shite, Moony," Sirius informs Remus cheerfully. His voice is still sort of rough, but it's stronger, his eyes clear and alert and his face looks a good deal healthier with some colour coming back to it and stubble-free.
"Thanks, Padfoot, you've always been quite the charmer," Remus deadpans, but he's trying to hide a smile as he takes his seat next to the bed.
"Naturally," Sirius grins for a moment before sobering up. "No, but really, Remus, you look like a mess. You should go sleep and eat something, I won't be going anywhere, I promise."
"I actually don't even know if you're telling the truth. I could be gone and you would most likely get up and leave." Remus scowls at him.
"Don't change the subject," Sirius masterfully avoids answering Remus, "you really need some rest, Remus; I'm not the only one who fought in a battle here."
"Yes, but you're the only one who was found unconscious and remained so for four days. Do you have any-" Remus stops himself from saying anything more because this is not the way this is supposed to go – with his voice ringing loud and close to being angry. He tries to start over. "I'll go home, I promise, I'll even sleep for more than six hours, but first I need to tell you something."
"This doesn't sound too promising." Sirius' expression falls, instantly becoming grim.
"No, no, it's not bad news. Just something you have to know – or well, something I have to say."
"Dora kissed me. Before we arrived at Hogwarts." Remus isn't sure what he was planning to say exactly, but he thinks maybe that wasn't supposed to be it. He watches as Sirius scrunches up his face in confusion and then, as the meaning of the words sinks in, closes off, expression turning completely blank.
"That's it? Are you and my little cousin-?"
"No!" Remus says a bit too loudly. He's not a teenager any more, damn it. He should be better at this. "No, Sirius, I'm not- we're not. Dora said, she said that it was a now or never kind of thing. She wanted to know, wanted to tell me- if anything happened, it was her last chance. I told her that I didn't feel the same way. I'm not sure exactly why she would want someone like me, but I could never be right for her."
"Right," Sirius says slowly, emotions still at check and Remus can't tell if he's annoyed or angry or simply doesn't care. Remus wants him to care, he really, really does.
"It's not the kiss I wanted to tell you about, Padfoot. What- what she said, it's true, Sirius. There are some things I've regretted so many times not saying and there are things I've been scared to voice, but I don't know what I would have done if something had happened and I never got the chance to say them."
"You're being awfully vague, Moony. I'm not keeping up."
Sirius is right and Remus, for all his need to let go, is choking on too many feelings and he's suddenly overwhelmed because Sirius could have died, he could have died and he would have never known how much he meant to Remus, how much he had been loved. He drops his head, mere centimetres away from touching the bed and his hand once again reaches out searching for Sirius instinctively, finding him and grasping his forearm so tight it has to be uncomfortable. But Sirius doesn't say anything; he lets Remus do this his own way.
"I lost James and I lost Lily. I lost Peter. And I lost you once and then I almost lost you again. And now I- I don't know if I can take a third time, Sirius, I don't think I can do this. I love you. I love you so much it hurts me sometimes and even when I hated you because I thought you stole everything I had away, even then, when I hated you so much, I still loved you." Remus' grip on Sirius' hand goes painfully tight and his whole arm is shaking with the sheer amount of pain the thought of loosing Sirius again is causing him and he thinks he's crying, but he can't feel it over the need to swallow and keep talking, get everything out before it's too late. "I don't remember a time I didn't love you. I remember it being scary and painful and I remember it making me as happy as I could be, but it's always been there and you have to know, you have to know because if you had died- if I had died and you never knew- I love you."
The last words are whispered, but Remus' voice is steady and clear from any shaking. He doesn't think Sirius says anything, can't hear a thing over his own blood pulsing at his temples and neck and he takes a deep breath through his nose. He tries to calm himself down because this is important, this is crucial and he has to know what Sirius will say, because Sirius is the only thing he has left that matters more than life itself to him.
Remus isn't counting, but after fifty-three seconds that seem like fifty-three hours instead, he can feel Sirius trying to pry his arm free. He realises his grip is probably bruising but he's suddenly desperate to keep that point of contact, too much of a coward to turn his head and see the look on Sirius' face. Then, Sirius' other hand comes on top of his and pries his fingers off one by one and when Remus finally removes his hand and looks up to Sirius, hurt but resigned to the rejection he'll find there, it's only to be met with a set of stormy grey-blue eyes.
Sirius moves surprisingly quickly for someone who has been lying on a bed non-stop for four whole days and Remus finds himself between Sirius' legs as the other man throws them over the side of his bed and takes Remus' shoulders in a death grip.
"What the fuck took you so long?" Sirius demands and then dry, chapped lips are against his own, pressing roughly and hurriedly as years upon years of unrequited love finally release.
Remus gasps into the kiss and his arms snake around Sirius' waist and his mouth develops a mind of his own, a kiss that's been years in the making.
It's 'I love you' and 'you fucking idiot' and 'don't leave me' and 'forever' all woven together in one endless moment that doesn't take back all the hurt and pain, but smoothes over the cutting edges and soothes long-aching wounds.