a/n: for Ela (snickets on ff or alicequinns on tumblr) who has loved me a long time though I don't deserve it. Happy Christmas, my darling! Remus/Sirius as you requested, with the mix to follow as soon as I put a post together on tumblr. I'm sorry it's all so late.

Leaning Towards

now that we're lonely, now that there's nowhere to go. –—ben howard, the wolves

I have often wondered why spaces between people exist at all. It seems that we are made to create wholes and not gaps—your fingers into the spaces between mine, your head into the gap between my neck and my shoulder, your body up mine. Straight. Complete. Spaceless.

You waltzed through my world like a shadow. Impossible to not have but difficult to see in the dark. I always loved you in the sunlight most of all. Strong, solid, dynamic. You flickered like fairy lights on Christmas trees in thunderstorms, like stars struggling to shine through the atmosphere. Like castle walls atop an earthquake. You strode like a giant across lands that shouldn't have welcomed you but which let you belong like you had grown from them. You grew up in London but the fields near my house took you in like one of their own. I sometimes felt, watching you, like rivers would divert their courses entirely to run over your feet, like the sun would come out from behind clouds just to illuminate you.

You told me six times you loved me before I found the courage. You said it in a blaze of firewhiskey and drunken dancing, again in the middle of a quiet night when Prongs was off mooning over Lily and Wormtail was trying to get enough knowledge to stick in his brain to not fail the Charms test the next day. Then again when we were astride the Hogwarts roofs, riding the building through the gathering dark, rain lashing like horses' manes and the thunder like hooves against sand. Again when a bludger put you in the Hospital Wing and you were told I hadn't left your bedside in the week you'd been unconscious. Again when we were in the Shrieking Shack, and we woke up curled around each other, dogs and wolves still in the tips of our limbs. And again when I kissed you, though I didn't dare tell you anything at all.

The space between us now is too large to comprehend. Universal, catastrophic. I can tell you I love you all I like because I have no reaction to worry about. I tell you a lot, you know. Every night. There is not enough noise outside Grimmauld Place to drown out my lungs and the silence of me without you. Amongst the wolves it is easier—they are noisier and in the right light their shadows are the shape of yours. But they are not you, Sirius. They do not sing Christian hymns when they get drunk and they do not let me whisper how afraid I am into the hollow behind their ears. They do not fill my spaces.

I read a book once that talked about souls and sitting alone and the weight of the world without just one person. Astonishing, isn't it? That the world should weigh so much when you are gone. You couldn't have known how much thicker the air would be without you to share it but I wish you had because you might not have gone. That's what it boils down to—you are gone and I am alone and I am afraid, Sirius. I have been afraid my whole life but without you I am so scared that my knees shake even lying down.

You mapped my hands, once. Named all the ridges of my nails, kissed the churches of my fingertips to consecrate them, begged me to bury you with these hands because that was the only way you were going, with my hands to put you to sleep. (You must hate me, oh God. But we never found your body, Sirius. I never got to touch you at all. And hate me more, because I think I am relieved. Touching you dead would have been too final. Too destructive.)

I am irritable and lonely and my Patronus is you again. The space here without you is suffocating me and my bedroom is bare because you were all the decoration it ever needed. I can feel the wrinkles on my face like they are being carved anew every second of every minute and I am missing you so much I think I may die of it. That is what you have left behind. You told me that I was brave and that I had to love again if you ever left and I promised but I was always a fraud, Sirius. Being Marauders made liars of us all and I have never regretted it before now. I should have said to you, No, I shall never love again, but instead I nodded and promised and kissed the tattoo of the moon that sat on your left hip.

I am a liar and a fake and how can I be brave when I don't have you? I can be brave, I suppose, because you and James would want me to be for Harry. But all I can think of is how the skies used to sing when you touched me and how the ceiling blurred and the walls fell in on top of us when you kissed me, and that was okay because it meant there was no space at all, just you and me like a single body and the rest of the world enclosing us so air didn't matter at all.

We were giants, you and I. The world set us up so high we could have touched the moon if we'd tried. But we didn't, because touching each other was all that mattered. You and me and no spaces and the whole wide world. That was it. That was supposed to be the story.

But the storm came inexorably onward and I could never define my sadness but I can, now. Sadness is the rain on rooftops and the space around me without you in it. Sadness is thunder and lightening and beds with only one occupant. Sadness is the creak of bare floorboards and a grave with no body in it. Sadness is me, here without you.

(I suppose this ends with me saying, I am sadness, I am loneliness. Without you, in fact, I am just a space between one place and the other. I am sadness and sadness is a man who ran out of hope the day you fell out of the world.

The world is too heavy here. The air is too thick.

I am too lonely.)