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Re-posting my RS_Games fic!

Title: The Mourning
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Remus/Sirius
Word Count: 2,795
Summary: Remus’s mother was dead, and he’d drawn a line in the sand. Sirius realised that he was on the wrong side of that line.
Notes: This was written for the 2012 [livejournal.com profile] rs_games (Team Remus). Thank you, Georgie, for helping out a swamp monster in need.
Prompt: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." -Maya Angelou



Remus’s mother had been dead for six months exactly on the day that Sirius and James sat pouring over the morning Prophet, their dark hair falling together so that it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began.

Suddenly James pulled up short. “Paresh Patil?”

“Not Priti’s dad?” murmured Peter, his eyes wide.

“Shit,” said Sirius under his breath. He inclined his head in the direction of the Ravenclaw table, where Enid Dobbs, rarely seen without Priti by her side, was sobbing. A knot of students had gathered around her, some apparently offering comfort while others exchanged worried looks.

“It’s getting worse,” James said, leaning in. “Murders and disappearances. More every day. Someone should…Someone has to…”

He trailed off, cocking his head at the sight of the first-year Ravenclaws huddled tightly together, looking terrified.

“Poor Priti. She has brothers, too. And isn’t her sister a first year?” Peter breathed, looking shaken.

“James, should you…?” Remus began, but James was already getting up, hastily digging through his schoolbag for his Head Boy badge.

“Where could I have left the sodding th--Accio badge,” he ground out, frustrated. The small, silver pin shot from the depths of the bag, and James caught it deftly. “I’ll see you in a bit,” he added over his shoulder, hurrying off toward the group of eleven-year-olds, pinning the badge at he went.

As James made his way across the Great Hall, Sirius found his eyes involuntarily searching the Slytherin table. There was a second of relief in finding Regulus, face obscured by his dark hair as he hunched over a textbook, before it turned to anger. Sirius clenched his jaw. He cast about for something to say, something that wouldn’t give him away—anything to stop Remus looking at him the way he was, anything to keep from revealing the ineffectual rage he felt at the thought that his family were the murderers and the torturers and the kidnappers, the churning terror that they would soon have his stupid brother. He forced his eyes back to the empty seat next to Enid, the seat where Priti should have been. “Dead. Merlin. Imagine waking up one morning and finding that someone that close to you is just gone.”

It only took a split second for Remus’s expression to change from concerned to hurt. In that second, Sirius realised what he’d said. Cursing himself mentally, he tried to think of a way to repair the damage.

“That’s different,” Sirius mumbled. “It wasn’t as…as sudden.”

At that, Remus look stung. He glanced around quickly before answering, in a biting tone, “So you believed me first year? All those times I told you she was sick?”

His words were meant to wound—they implied a betrayal, an accusation that, because Sirius did not understand this, he didn’t understand at all. Sirius had to take a deep breath to keep from spitting out something cruel in response, something that he’d regret. He felt clumsy and stupid, like the proverbial Erumpent in a china shop, but also defensive. It wasn’t his fault that Remus had refused to talk about his mother’s death, yet he knew that Remus expected more from him—especially from him.

Moony—” he began, frustrated.

“Leave it,” said Remus in a carefully controlled voice.

Sirius read Remus’s anger in all of the subtle things his body did to betray him: the tightness in his jaw, his stiff posture, the way he held his hands. Sirius knew he should be quiet, but he couldn’t do it. “Remus, I didn’t mean—It’s different. Your mum died of natural causes—”

Remus was on his feet, then. “My mum died of a broken heart.”

With those words, he snatched up his books and bolted for the door. Sirius and Peter watched his retreating back with nearly identical expressions of shock. It wasn’t like Remus to storm out of a room; it was even less like him to raise his voice. Grabbing the Map from James’s bag, which still lay open on the bench beside him, Sirius made his decision.

“I’ll go,” he muttered. “Tell Binns we’ll be late?”

Peter was still looking toward the doors through which Remus had disappeared. His brow was furrowed. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll make something up.”

Sirius watched the Map as he hurried into the Entrance Hall and up the marble staircase after Remus. A part of him was still angry, and it must have shown, as a group of second year Hufflepuffs nearly jumped out of his way. He thought about how things had been before Remus had been called home for the funeral. There had been something strange between them when they’d come back to school in September. It had felt as though they were always ending up alone together, in the common room after everyone else had gone to bed or on a lazy Saturday in their dormitory. They had touched more. Sirius had told Remus the things he would have told James, before he had Lily. In some ways, though Sirius was loath to admit it, Remus had been better—maybe because he had always seemed to be listening, really listening, with his brown eyes searching Sirius’s face. Remus had confided in him, too, and that had been even better, because Remus’s real trust was hard-won, and Sirius knew it. Sirius had begun to rely on Remus’s closeness and thinking of it now made him feel almost betrayed.

As he swung around a corner on the second floor, Sirius remembered the night Remus had gone home. Remus hadn’t cried as he left Professor McGonagall’s office. Sirius had followed him up to the dormitory and had tried to help as Remus threw black trousers and socks and jumpers into a case in an uncharacteristically haphazard way. When Remus had stopped for a moment, twining his fingers through his hair with an expression of panic, Sirius had crouched down in front of him and taken both of his hands. After Remus had said his brief goodbyes in the common room, Sirius had offered to walk him to the floo connection waiting downstairs. Just before they’d reached the office, Sirius had looked sidelong at Remus, watching him fight for control over the emotions playing across his face. Sirius had stopped walking, and Remus had turned to look at him. That was when Sirius had kissed him. When they’d pulled apart, Remus had clung to his neck for a moment. Then he’d squared his shoulders and gone home to his father.

The dot labelled “Remus Lupin” came to rest in a classroom at the end of a deserted fourth floor corridor. They hadn’t talked about the kiss. Remus had come back a week later, and everything had changed. He avoided being alone with Sirius. He relentlessly steered conversations back to surface-level, repeated over and over again that he was “fine,” and shied away when Sirius tried to put a hand on his shoulder. He pretended that it had never happened. Though Sirius knew that Remus was mourning, that didn’t change the fact that it hurt. And Sirius was used to covering up hurt with annoyance; it had become something of a habit since he’d left Grimmauld Place.

But Sirius found any anger he felt disappearing as he skittered around the doorframe on the fourth floor to find Remus, looking somehow very small, on a window ledge in the abandoned classroom. His back was to the door, his arms curled around his knees as he looked out through the dark glass.

“Hi,” Sirius said quietly.

“I’m sorry.” Remus spoke without turning around. His anger, too, had dissipated. His voice was sad.

An apology was expected; it meant nothing in itself. Remus was always apologising. Sirius dismissed it with a wave of his hand that Remus couldn’t see. He made his way halfway across the room then hesitated. The silence stretched between them for a moment.

“What did you mean?” Sirius asked quietly, deciding at last and slinging himself down at the desk nearest the window, giving Remus space.

“Mm?” Remus responded vaguely.

“In the Great Hall. When you said that your mum died of a broken heart, what did you mean?”

Sirius could actually see Remus’s shoulders tense. There was a long moment of silence, and Sirius was sure that they would go back to the way things had been. Remus would be quiet and stoic and pull away from his touch. Remus would turn in on himself the way he did in first year before they knew he was a werewolf and the way he’d been doing for the past six months. He would keep Sirius at arm’s length; he was so good at it.

But then Remus began to speak, his back still turned to Sirius, looking out the window.

“I was four. I…only remember flashes of that night. I was so foolish. I know that I went outside when my father had forbidden it. I remember—You know the way that animal eyes catch the light when it’s very dark? I remember that. I don’t even think I screamed. And that was it. The end of my life as a human and the beginning of…this.”

Sirius got to his feet, and Remus either sensed his movement or else knew he would, because he shook his head without turning around. Sirius sat back down and bit his lip.

“My parents didn’t know what to do. They rushed me to Saint Mungo’s in my blood-soaked pyjamas. The healers bandaged my arm the best they could and referred us to the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures without another word. My mum cried all the way to the Ministry. Her handkerchief was red, but I’m not sure if it was really red or red with my blood. The woman at the desk there had curly hair, and she looked at me with disgust. That was the first time—the first time I got that look. I’ll never forget her face. I was so frightened.”

Sirius wanted to reach out and touch him, but he didn’t know if he should. It had been so long, and Sirius didn’t want to risk Remus recoiling, drawing back into himself.

Remus went on, his voice hollow. “My parents tried everything, but—you know. There is no cure. Potions that burned me from the inside out. Injections that left me weak and shivering for days. Chains and silver and all sorts. That was never the worst part, though. It was their faces. Their eyes were always full of so much pain, and it was my fault.”

Sirius had realised that Remus was suffering, but he hadn’t realised how much. He had been respecting the lines that Remus had drawn in the sand to protect himself. Now, Sirius knew that he had been all wrong; he should have been on Remus’s side of those lines. He climbed up onto the window ledge and sat so close that they were almost touching—but not quite. Then Sirius stayed silent, listening, waiting.

“I watched my mum wither. She lost weight, became gaunt and drawn. She stopped smiling. For years, I used to—used to miss the sound of her laughing.”

Remus was quiet again for a moment. Sirius found the courage to reach over and stroke the pad of his thumb across the soft skin on the back of Remus’s hand, free from scars only because it was too close to where claws emerged. Remus swallowed thickly.

“She used to tell me stories before I went to sleep. They always started with: ‘Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was under a terrible curse.’ She never meant to make me feel like I was…broken, but those stories. The curse was always lifted in the end. The little boy was cured—the power of true love, or a beautiful enchantress, or a noble sacrifice—but not me. I stayed—I stayed cursed. Don’t you see? It was my fault, and it…killed her.”

Then Remus started to cry. He covered his face with his hands, but soon he was gasping for breath. Sirius felt out of his depth, and if he was out of his depth with Remus, then Remus had no one. So he let go of the feelings and the tension and the awkwardness that had kept him from doing it sooner and wrapped his arms around his friend. Remus didn’t pull away this time, and Sirius held him as he shook.

“I didn’t—” Remus finally whimpered against Sirius’s uniform jumper. The sound was so unlike him that it pulled at something deep inside Sirius. “I never—I never cried. My dad—I knew he needed me to be strong. And the wake. Had to prove I was okay. Sirius, I’m—I’m not okay.”

It took a long time for Remus to collect himself. He looked out the window, at his own feet, anywhere but at Sirius. His face was blotchy, his eyes swollen. Sirius had never seen him look so undone, not even when he lay bleeding and shivering on the floor of the Shack. He looked nothing like himself, nothing like the well-mannered and determinedly calm image he projected, yet so much himself, an extreme form of the boy he was in private, that Sirius found it hard to reconcile.

Then Remus leaned in and, though it wasn’t terribly quick, it felt sudden. He kissed Sirius gently, hesitantly placing a hand against Sirius’s pulse point, his fingers getting lost in the hair at the nape of Sirius’s neck. The kiss tasted like salt, and Remus, who couldn’t breathe through his clogged nose, was forced to pull away for breath. Sirius touched his forehead to Remus’s.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he whispered. He pressed his lips to the scar that cut the delicate skin across Remus’s left cheekbone. The tears spilled over in Remus’s eyes once again, but this time Sirius didn’t hesitate before pulling him close.

“We’re so late,” Remus mumbled at last, against Sirius’s shoulder.

Sirius pulled away to look at him quizzically.

“Class,” Remus reminded, the beginning of a smile pulling at the end of his mouth though his eyes were still red.

Prefect.”

For the rest of the day, they could not seem to stop meeting each other’s eyes—in History of Magic, over dinner when Lily reflexively moved to tuck an unruly piece of James’s hair behind his ear, even in the mirror as they brushed their teeth with Peter at the sink between them.

As he lay in bed that night, Sirius found himself thinking about the stories that Remus’s mother had told him as a child. Surely, to her, they had meant hope, a hope that faded over time as she was faced with the realities of her son’s condition. To Remus, though, they could only have been a constant reminder that he was damaged, wrong. And Sirius found he couldn’t stand it.

He waited what felt like hours before he heard outright ridiculous snores coming from James’s bed. Hoping Peter was asleep and knowing that Remus wasn’t, he padded across the dormitory in sock feet.

As he climbed into the bed, he could see the fear in Remus’s wide eyes, even in the darkness—the fear of closeness, the fear of what Sirius expected from him. But Sirius settled in beside him, their arms just barely touching under the blankets. When Remus turned away, curled in on himself, Sirius turned, too. He wrapped an arm around Remus, placing his palm against Remus’s chest. Sirius could feel Remus’s heart beating fast against his hand.

“Once upon a time,” Sirius whispered, and Remus seemed to be holding his breath, “there was a boy who was brilliant. He was shy, but not so shy that he didn’t find friends, three great friends. Just the right amount of shy, probably. He was kind, because, unlike his stupid-teenage-boy friends, he was always thinking about how other people felt. When he laughed, the boy’s whole face lit up, so all people wanted to do was make him laugh again. He always worked hard and read ancient-looking books, because he was the responsible one. He was beautiful and sweet, and, okay, he was a werewolf, too, but that had gotten better since his friends became animaguses—animagi? Anyway. Even though nobody is really perfect, because that’s stupid, the boy’s…friend—he thought that the boy was. And even when the boy was so sad he felt like his heart would break, his friend still wanted to be there, right beside him, more than anywhere else in the world.”

Remus placed his hand over Sirius’s on his chest and gently intertwined their fingers.

“Thank you,” he whispered and squeezed.

Date: 2012-11-22 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gabbygrl.livejournal.com
Heart. Break.

Date: 2012-11-23 04:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edgewareroad.livejournal.com
Ah! I know. I'm sorry! I can't help myself. I have no defense.

Date: 2012-11-22 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thesiriusmoon.livejournal.com
I love this fic. LOVE IT! I adored it when I read it for the games, and I love it even more the second time around. Doesn't surprise me at all that it's yours :)

You captured the characters so beautifully, and the heartbreak and comfort were both so painfully sweet. Wonderful job, as always.

Date: 2012-11-23 04:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edgewareroad.livejournal.com
You are such a sweetheart! Thank you so, so much--especially for taking the time to read it twice!

Date: 2012-11-28 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] barebackmoon.livejournal.com
“Once upon a time,”

...the moment my heart broke.

Date: 2012-11-29 09:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edgewareroad.livejournal.com
Aww. Sorry about that!

Thanks so much for reading!

Date: 2012-12-09 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] phiso-kun.livejournal.com
WAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaweeeeeee that's so cute ;.; And finishing it felt like drowsily waking up from a dream. I love how Sirius describes Remus, especially the bits about how he is both calm and wild all at once. Lovely job!

Date: 2012-12-11 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edgewareroad.livejournal.com
Aw. Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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