Prompt 046. Remus has been writing letters to Sirius for years, and he's finally decided to deliver them.
It is a dark, chilly spring night when Remus steps through the gates of the graveyard. Frosty grass crunching under his shoes, he pulls his thin, patched coat tighter around himself and tries to imagine Harry here with his friends, to imagine him crying over James and Lily's grave alone, and he has to swallow back the regret that rises in his mind for the hundredth time. It is this that's kept him from the cemetery more than anything else; he's not afraid of death—thinking about it or experiencing it—anymore, but he is afraid that Sirius is disappointed in him for not watching over Harry. The whole thing is such a complicated mess, and as much as he has wanted for almost two years to be gone before he would have to come to terms with everything, he has a son now, and one cannot wish for death when they have a child to raise.
He meanders through the tombstones littered with dead flowers until he reaches the familiar spot. He has to be careful when he sits, moving slow so as to not bother his bones, weak from 38 years of wear and 33 years of being twisted and transformed once a month, and though he can't imagine much more of the abuse, he's already accepted that he's going to grin and bear life for much longer yet. Sirius' gravestone sits in front of him, and the whole memorial is really nothing more than a stone and dirt, but he figures he's never going to be able to sleep again until he talks to Sirius, and Sirius is no longer here and will never be back, so he settles for an ugly rock with his name on it instead. It's sad, he thinks, looking over the cheap stone engraved with only Sirius' name, that this is all that is left of such a beautiful person, of someone who sacrificed so much and lived and loved with everything in him and burned through life in a blaze of glory: just an ugly rock that Remus spent the last bit of money he'd saved from his year teaching at Hogwarts on.
"So," he says, feeling more than a bit stupid, and he has to stop when a particularly strong wind blows. He brushes his thinning hair out of his face and shivers, but he's not going to go home, because he knows that he won't stop thinking, and he needs to do this. He doesn't know what to say, though. He gnaws at his lip for a minute before reaching into his coat and pulling out a battered notebook. If anyone ever saw it, he thinks he'd probably have to change his name and move into the muggle world in another country, but now he needs Sirius to hear it, all of it, and he's not sure if he believes in heaven, but he's sure as hell going to try. He gingerly opens the faded cover and looks at the rumpled paper stuffed in the cover. In messy, distraught handwriting is the letter he wrote in the early hours of the morning on November 1, 1981. He had just heard of James and Lily's death, and he'd thought that Sirius had killed Peter and then been carted off to Azkaban, and he had lost four friends and a lover, and he'd never known anything to be so painful. It'd felt like the first few seconds of his transformations, when the pain is so unbearable that he'd rather die, only it was constant, stretching on for months in which he'd never leave the bed he used to share with Sirius, only burrowing his head into the sheets and pretending he could still smell his best friend and boyfriend in the fabric underneath him. This letter had just been the start of that and 12 long, empty years that would follow, and he'd never shown it to Sirius, never told him about the empty years when he thought everything he'd been sure of to be a lie.
"I think I'm just gonna read this to you," he says, running his fingers over the smudged paper.
I don't know what to do with your things. They're all over the flat, and I don't think I'll really ever be able to clean everything up.
Things have been shitty between us lately, but I love you. I can't believe you've changed so much that you'd do—well, you're in Azkaban, aren't you? And right under my nose. We shared a bed, for God's sakes, and I didn't notice you were a spy for Voldemort, and I don't know how I can write that without puking, but it's 4 in the morning and I've never wanted to be dead this much before.
I'm having trouble imaging you rotting away in a cell while dementors creep by. You left your leather jacket hanging up on the bedpost like you always fucking do. I hope you get a cold.
I think I'll sleep on the couch. It's the only place that doesn't smell like you.
"It's kind of all over the place," he apologizes. "I was a bit of a mess."
A cricket chirps nearby. Another gust of wind blows. It's far too cold for April. He reaches down and traces Sirius' name in the dirt with his pointer finger. "I never talked to you about this because you were so depressed and I didn't want to make it worse. You spent 12 years in Azkaban and then 2 years being miserable and then you died. What kind of fucking world is this?" Sighing, he rubs the letters out with the heel of his hand. "I was such a wreck. I was still finding your shit all over the flat even a year later. I'd finally be getting on with things when I'd be looking for a slipper under the bed and I'd find an old sock of yours and that would be it, and I'd be wallowing in self pity buried under the blankets for the next week, because I shouldn't have still loved you after what I thought you did, but I did, and both had equal parts in making me miserable. God, Sirius," he says, and he already has to wipe at his eyes. "I'm such a fucking idiot, but now I have to be a responsible idiot."
He doesn't get an answer. He kind of half expects one. "I guess I should read another. I wrote a lot, like once awake, for the first year at least, I mean, but it's pretty much all the same so..." he flips through the thick notebook, stuffed with torn out pages and various sheets of paper, a log of 16 years of, for the most part, abject misery. "There's just so many, and they're all just one long sad story, you know? Everything went downhill after around 21 for us."
The dirt beneath him continues to be neither Sirius nor responsive. He sighs, stretching his legs out in front of him, listening to the bones crack as he does so. "I've got... from when I heard you got out. It's a bit self-loathing, mind you. You'd hit me if you could," he says, and then he reads:
You've escaped Azkaban. It's all over the news.
I have an inkling of how you did it, and I fucking hate myself for not telling anyone.
I have this disgusting sense of hope rising in me like bile. I kind of want you to show up and tell me it was all a misunderstanding, but how could it be? The sad fact is that you were the secret keeper and now there are three tombstones in Godric's Hollow and there's no other explanation. I think the fear I'm feeling is much healthier- it's much better to fear that you're going to show up and finish the job than to hope you're going to show up and declare your innocence.
I'm more worried for Harry. There's so much he doesn't know, so much I thought he'd never have to know, and I fear it's all going to have to come out now. That the man who sent Voldemort after his parents is his godfather, his parents' best friend. It's a horrifying thing for a young gryffindor boy, someone who honors fierce loyalty to one's friends, to hear.
I still miss you.
"I'm such a mess," he says, present tense this time, because he looks down at himself and he thinks about the fact that he's married and has a child and he doesn't think he's seen anything more sad in his life. "I have more: from when you came to stay with me, and from Grimmauld Place, and even from After, but I don't want to read them. Think maybe I'll just leave them here," he says, resting the book against the gravestone. He glances about for something heavy and finds a rock, which he places atop the worn notebook to hold it down. "I'd rather talk to you, I think. Even if you can't answer." He stops now, stretching out against the cold ground. A dull ache shudders through his muscles as he folds his arms behind his head, looking up at the sky.
"Everything's so fucked up, do you know? Wonder if you can see from up there. I'm fucking married," he says. It's still the most ridiculous thing in the world to him, even now. "And I have a kid. A kid! The whole thing... Pads, do you remember right after Lily had Harry and we went in to see him for the first time and James was holding him, and he looked up at us and his whole face just- I mean, he lit up. I'd never seen anyone so happy, and then I turned to you and you were looking at him so longingly... And then after that you always wanted to adopt, even if I couldn't be listed as a legal guardian, and... I always said no, because it wouldn't be safe..." He quickly shifts his weight so that one hand is free to swipe at his eyes. "Christ, now I have a kid, and it's my own, and I feel like... like I betrayed you or something. And I don't know what the fuck Prongs was on when he held Harry. It's not... I don't feel like that. I think I'm supposed to, but I don't. It's sick. He's my son and I, Pads, I don't think I love him. Isn't that just... God. I didn't know what to do when I found out she was pregnant. I wasn't even- you know, it's like I'm so detached from everything that it didn't even... and Harry, I went and asked him if I could go with him and his friends... s'really the kind of ridiculous thing you'd do," he says, and he smiles sadly as he remembers his friend's twisted misconceptions of Harry. "You loved him—I do, too—but pretending he's Prongs and things are still the same. And... he reacted like James. A post-Lily James, admittedly, but he screamed at me and told me I was being irresponsible—you know. And it just, everything I do feels like something you'd be disappointed in me for, and christ, I just want to die." He stops for a moment, tracing circles in the ground with his finger. Those few short words seem to swell in the air around him. "I've never said that out loud before. How selfish is that? I have a son. He's only two weeks old, and I want to die, because I don't think I can love anyone anymore. And I miss the hell out of you, but that's a shitty reason to want to die, isn't it? It's just—I can't take any more of this. It's just that I wouldn't mind. Not living through the war, I mean. Harry's going to do it, whatever he's doing, I really think so and God knows I don't put my faith into unlikely things easily, but I'm sure there'll be at least one more big scuffle first and maybe I'll just... die. Dueling. S'the hero's way to do, isn't it? Only I'd want to kiss Bellatrix first," he says, and he laughs at the absurdity of it.
A companionable silence settles itself around his lone form, lying solitary along the dead grass growing above an empty grave. He watches the sky. He can make out Canis Major in the sky above him and he smiles despite everything. "Feel like I'm looking at constellations. Like life—all of it, everyone and everything and the war and all of the death and all of the happiness in the face of all of the misery—is a big constellation and I'm just lying on the ground in a graveyard looking at the whole thing and not part of any of it, and then there's the dog star, anyway, and that's better than the constellation. They drill it into you that the whole constellation is worth more than just one star from when you're little, you know? Like that Aristotle quote, 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.' Well, that's bullshit, because the constellation's worth less than just the dog star. If you were to somehow remove the dog star from the constellation, no one would every want to look at it anymore because it'd just be this dismal cloud of depressing stars. I just want the dog star, and if I can't have the dog star, then I don't want the rest of the constellation, because it'd just be a reminder that there's no dog star. God, Sirius, it's not fucking worth it without you."
He's kind of crying really hard at this point, so he wipes at his eyes repeatedly and roughly with his sleeve. A single thick sob fills the air, and then the tears stop and he sits up. "I think I'm done with my self-pity fest," he says. "I have to go home. I haven't seen my son all day, and I figure I should want to. Love you, you dead git." He stands up, joints creaking, and turns to face the mossy rock. He smooths his hand over the top of it, a removed, fond smile forming on his lips, and turns abruptly, heading for the thick, metal gates, a cold breeze following in his wake.