Sarah Lupin is fetching the laundry when she comes to her son's half-open door.
She is humming quietly to herself, but something makes her stop just by the doorframe. The silence is striking, and not just because Sirius is there. It's not the sort of quiet that comes with plotting a prank, stifled giggles and muffled thunks, all sounds she's stopped worrying about. This is something different, something familiar. It's the quiet of pulling the pins out of her hair at the end of the day, one at a time, of John's kiss as he turns out the light, of steady breathing in harmony, as though their breath should sing the other to sleep. And it brings back memories of quiet from years before, where neither of them quite dared to make too much noise, or touch too quickly or too carelessly, expecting at any minute for it to shatter.
It would be less shocking to see them make love. They are sat so close together they must be breathing the same air, foreheads inches from touching. Remus' eyes are closed, and she fights off an impulse to scream at him to keep them open, keep aware, because she likes Sirius, but there is something a little frightening about him. She is afraid for her son for so many reasons, it seems only natural to add another. Sirius' dark head is bent over her son's arm, tracing the scars there with slow fingers. There is dirt under his fingernails, so some things haven't changed. Remus' hand is bunched in the material of Sirius' t-shirt on his shoulder, like an old man with a staff. Their legs are pressed side by side, their feet twisted together.
Sirius murmurs something and bends to press a kiss to the crook of Remus' elbow. Her heart thumps and she passes them quickly, leaning against the wall by the top of the stairs. Her eyes have filled with tears that she dashes away with the back of her hand. There are so many other reasons to cry over her son. She wonders if he will ever tell her, and what she could possibly say. It would be foolish to feel betrayed that so far he has said nothing, so she doesn't. It's not the kind of thing that you talk about, says a small, unpleasant voice, her mother's, and she hates herself for being so prim, so conventional, so closed-minded. No wonder he hasn't said anything. For the umpteenth time, she wonders what Remus' life will be like, what there will be to say about it that can be said out loud, what she will be able to tell her small circle of friends when they talk about their children. No grandchildren, she thinks, and stifles a giggle with the cracked heel of her hand.
That night, John notices the redness of her eyes and draws her into his arms without a word. She rests her head on his shoulder and thinks about her son down the landing, in the arms of another man. When he was small, and his dreams filled with blood and fur and his own magnified screams, he would tiptoe down the hall to fall asleep with his head pillowed on her breasts. She wonders if Remus will ever come to her for that comfort again. She thinks about the taut, hard young skin of Sirius Black's chest, imagines that there is nothing to muffle the sound of his heart, so that it raps against his ribs like a drumbeat. New comforts, replacing hers. It shouldn't be surprising that she's being replaced. It ought, perhaps, to be a relief. Her duties have been passed to new hands. But she never thought of them as duties, and oh, how self-martyring and sanctimonious that sounds! She hopes Sirius won't, either. The Sirius from earlier, to whom Remus clung like a drowning man, comes into her mind unbidden and she knows that with these duties at least she can trust him. A poem she learned in school floats back to her, half-remembered, one line like a chant running over and over. To you, she thinks, from failing hands, we throw.