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In ‘why-the-hell-am-I-not-working-on-my-midterm-that’s-due-tomorrow?’ news…


Title: The Stars Look Down
Author/Artist: [livejournal.com profile] edgewareroad
Rating: R? I’m genuinely terrible at ratings, but let’s say R for violence.
Pairing/Characters: Remus/Sirius, Regulus
Warnings: Torture, Angst (Remus is captured by Death Eaters)—but with a hopeful ending.
Word count: 1,411
Disclaimer: I love them like they’re my own, but they’re totally, totally not mine.
A/N: Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] clovermews for letting me literally read her this story aloud over the phone when she should have been asleep. What can I say? My best friend, ladies and gentlemen. The title is stolen from the A. J. Cronin novel, or from Billy Elliot the Musical, whichever you prefer.



There had been no need to torture him. When they appeared like shadows in the Shack as the sun came up, Remus had already been bloody and broken. Just taking his wand, depriving him of potions, as they had done, ensured that he would remain in nearly unbearable pain.

But that hadn’t stopped them. They had used the Cruciatus Curse until he had no voice left with which to scream, until he was just a small, shivering ball, curled like an animal on the floor of his cell. Then Antonin Dolohov had kicked him in the ribs until Remus felt sure that if hadn’t been a werewolf, he would have been dead.

And still Remus had refused to tell them anything. Even with tears streaming freely down his face, he’d broken the Imperius Curse three times. They could have him, but they couldn’t have the people he loved.

It must have been Snape. Sirius and James had been away on a mission, and Peter by himself was only in harm’s way, easy prey without a larger animal to protect him. So Remus had gone to the Shack alone to transform. Snape was the only one who could have known, thanks to a foolish prank which now felt like it had happened in another lifetime. Remus prayed and prayed and prayed that Sirius wouldn’t blame himself.

If he lay at just the right angle, with his head against the bars, Remus could see the stars. He thought of Sirius, of warm hands and easy smiles, of lips pressed gently to his, and tried to ignore the pain.

When a hooded figure came in the night, Remus tried to drag himself away from his position near the bars. Remus knew he was whimpering as he moved, but refused to stop. He had just reached the corner of the cell, and whatever limited protection it would afford him, when the door swung silently open.

“Sirius?” he whispered, his voice cracking painfully. But the man lowered his hood, and Remus couldn’t quite suppress another whimper. It was Regulus Black.

“Quiet,” murmured Regulus, stepping further into the cell, closing the distance between them. Remus curled in on himself, trying to protect his stomach, trying to ignore the ache in his chest which was worse than anything he’d been put through so far. Regulus drew his wand.

“Please,” Remus begged, unsure even as he spoke whether he was asking for mercy or death, whether there was even a difference anymore. Regulus’s next words caught him off guard.

“Can you stand?”

Remus dared to look up at him. His pale eyes were so like Sirius’s that it felt like physical pain. Remus shook his head.

Regulus crouched and placed the tip of his wand against Remus’s ribcage. Remus clenched his jaw. He would try hard not to give him the satisfaction of crying out again. But the pain never came. Instead, Remus gasped as he felt one of his ribs healing.

“Why are you doing this?” The words tumbled from his mouth before he could stop them.

But Regulus didn’t answer him. He said only, almost viscously, “Shut up,” and continued his silent healing spells. It was only then that Remus noticed how violently Regulus’s hands were shaking.

With a splint wrapped tightly around one leg, Remus struggled to his feet. The pain of it made lights burst before his eyes, but he was standing. Regulus looked nervously over his shoulder and stepped aside.

“Go,” he said, nodding toward the open door of the cell. He refused to look at Remus. “Run.”

Remus stared at him, stunned. Surely it was a trap, a cruel game in which they gave him hope only to shatter it again.

“Why?”

“Because…because he…” Regulus still wouldn’t look at him. It sounded as though every word was costing him an enormous effort, as though he were the one who had been screaming himself mute. “Because he loves you.”

Remus didn’t need any further explanation.

“Thank you,” he choked out, but Regulus merely shook his head as though disgusted.

As he launched himself at the door, though, Remus felt a hand on his chest, stopping him.

“Here,” said Regulus quietly, pressing Remus’s own wand, the one they’d taken from him, into his hand. “Tell Sirius—"

It was then that Remus looked him in the eyes. He looked young and scared. Remus wondered if he looked the same.

“Nevermind,” Regulus finished sadly.

Remus gave the hand against his chest a single squeeze and then he ran, gritting his teeth to keep from crying out. He only stopped running long enough to disapparate. Through sheer willpower, he remained conscious through the wrenching, bone-splitting agony until he hit the ground on the other side. Then everything went black.

Remus woke to the feeling of warm sunlight across his face. Not fully conscious, he struggled violently against something that was holding him down, making his limbs feel heavy. That was when he heard it.

“Remus. Shh, Remus. You’re okay.”

And even in his confusion, there was no mistaking the voice. This time it was Sirius.

Remus’s eyes snapped open to see his flat, the bed he shared with Sirius, a heavy comforter tucked up around his chin. And then there was Sirius, his hair framed with light from the window, right before him, so close.

It happened in an instant. Remus felt all of his resolve melting, all of his strength falling away. His eyes were already welling up.

“Am I dead?” he asked in a small, unsteady voice. He felt four years old.

“No,” Sirius breathed close to his ear, taking Remus in his arms, holding him close. “No, Moony. You’re safe now.”

Remus cried himself back to unconsciousness against Sirius’s shoulder.

When Remus woke again, it was dark, and he was alone in the bed. The window was now casting eerie shadows about the room: a skeletal tree branch against the far wall, something roughly person-shaped across the blankets at his feet. He could feel his heart begin to race as the panic rose inside his chest, threatening to overwhelm him.

He tried to call out, to find Sirius in the darkness, but Remus found that his voice was finally gone. He couldn’t scream, couldn’t make himself heard at all above a whisper.

Then Sirius pushed the door open with his foot, allowing warm, orangey light to stream in from their little kitchen. He was holding two mugs of tea.

“You’re awak—“ Sirius cut off mid-sentence. The terror was still plainly all over Remus’s face, because Sirius bolted toward him, murmuring soft, placating words as he sunk down next to the bed. He placed the cups on the night table and reached out to put a comforting hand on Remus’s body.

But Remus flinched at his touch, and Sirius instantly withdrew it. Remus found his mind reeling, disconcertingly one step behind, not quite able to sort truth from fantasy or friend from enemy.

“Okay. It’s okay,” Sirius said, close enough to be reassuring but exactly far enough for Remus to take him in without fear. Remus dimly wondered how he knew. “I don’t need to touch you. I don’t need to do anything you don’t want me to do.”

His eyes—his beautiful grey eyes—were locked on Remus with such sadness and such empathy that they cut through the haze. Remus reached out for his hand. Sirius cocked his head to the side in a familiar, dog-like gesture, asking permission, and Remus nodded. The simple feeling of Sirius’s warm hand in his, of his thumb gently stroking Remus’s knuckles, felt like a lifeline. Remus could feel something stirring inside him, something he thought they’d killed, something hopeful and alive.

“I know they hurt you. And when you have your voice back, you can tell me. Or you don’t have to tell me,” Sirius continued, and Remus could tell he’d been thinking the whole time Remus had been unconscious, possibly even longer. “But I want you to know that it’s you and me, Remus. It’s always been you and me. And we’ll get through this, together.”

“Together,” Remus whispered with as much voice as he could muster.

“That’s my Moony,” Sirius murmured, leaning in slowly. When Remus nodded again, Sirius kissed him on the forehead.

“Stay…with me,” Remus finally managed. The words hurt, tore at his throat, but his mind was clearer. There would be time to tell Sirius everything.

“Forever.”

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