For the Fanfiction Tournament – Tournament 2, Round 1. Main character must be Sirius Black.
Also for the OTP Boot camp – Prompt 1: Acrid.
A million thanks to MissingMommy for being my lovely beta (and, of course, for being a generally awesome person)!
He winces as the sharp, acrid scent of cigarette smoke hits his nostrils post-Apparation.
"You know I hate that," he says mildly.
"Sorry," Sirius mumbles, stubbing it out on the boulder he's sitting on and tossing the remnants into the grass. "I wasn't expecting you for another half-hour."
Remus sighs. "I know. But that house is always stifling the day after. I got tired of it. Wanted to see you." One corner of his lip twists up into a half-smile.
Sirius smiles tiredly back. "I'll never complain about that." He pats the rock next to him, sliding over so that there's space for Remus. "Sorry I wasn't there."
"I don't blame you – you're there for the night, and that's what matters. Besides, she wouldn't let you anyway." He scowls. "I love her, Pads, but I hate that she thinks I'm so fragile." He sits down beside Sirius and automatically curls into his side, wrapping both arms around him. Sirius smiles down at him and wraps his arm around Remus' shoulders.
Remus smiles up at him, but then he wrinkles his nose.
"You smell like cigarettes," he complains.
"Sorry," Sirius says, almost automatically.
"I really wish you'd quit."
"I know." His voice is soft. "I know." He twirls his fingers between those of Sirius' left hand – the one not around his shoulders. "But you don't smell like you."
A block of guilt settles into Sirius' stomach at the sadness in Remus' voice, but he says calmly, "My hands aren't shaking."
It seems unrelated, at first, but Remus knows it isn't. His hands don't shake with a cigarette within them. The thing is, they never shook at all until he started.
"For how long?"
Sirius can't answer, because they both know. Not long enough.
Remus buries his head into Sirius' chest. "I love you, you know that?" he mumbles into the black cotton of his shirt. "No matter what foolish, loathsome habits you pick up." He feels Sirius' chest rumble as he chuckles.
"Love you too, Rem," he whispers.
Not five minutes later, Remus is asleep.
"I hate it, too," he admits, his voice a breath, not loud enough to disrupt the werewolf sleeping in his arms. "I'm just not sure I can stop anymore."
Sirius knows that James is trying to distract him when he suggests a trip down to the nearby Muggle village.
He doesn't care.
Right now, he'd love to be distracted. He's really not in the mood to think about the fact that he's never going home again, after all.
He doesn't have to say this to James, though. James doesn't comment on the solemnity of his features or the fact that he doesn't speak as often as usual. He doesn't say anything about Sirius' perpetual glower or the fact that he's shaking with some combination of anger and stress. He's just James.
Sirius appreciates that more than he can say.
In retrospect, the trembling is probably what makes the man outside the cinema offer him a cigarette in the first place. He and James are in a heated debate over which film to see in which Sirius is participating merely because it's a mild distraction and not because he actually cares. The minutes James caves and wanders to the window to buy the tickets, Sirius slumps against the wall, energy draining out of him.
Without a word, the man reclining against the patch of wall beside him pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and offers one.
Sirius is at such a point of not caring that he takes it, and the lighter that follows.
"Thanks," he mumbles as he hands the lighter back and mimics the man's actions. He chokes on his first drag, but he learns quickly, and after a moment he realises that his head feels clearer and his trembling has stopped.
James raises an eyebrow when he comes back, but Sirius just shrugs as he flicks the remnant on the ground, automatically crushing it with his shoe. James just tips his head in a who-am-I-to-judge? kind of way, and hands him his ticket.
For the thousandth time in that day alone, Sirius is grateful for his best friend.
He flicks the butt of the last cigarette he'll ever smoke onto the ground, staring at the ruins of his life. After a moment, he shifts his gaze to the motorcycle he loves carrying away the most important little boy he's ever known.
He isn't sad, not yet. He's angry, furious. Peter will pay for this.
Only, Peter doesn't wind up paying. Sirius does.
The best part of Azkaban is that he finally ends up quitting. Strangely enough, they don't think it's necessary to provide cigarettes to prisoners. It's hell, but he's forced to quit, and he never picks it up again.
Remus would be proud. That is, if he didn't already hate Sirius for what he thinks he's done.