Bring your love, baby, I could bring my shame / Bring the drugs, baby, I could bring my pain / I got my heart right here / I got my scars right here - The Weeknd
You’re a killer, and I’m your best friend. - The Front Bottoms
They apparate outside of Sirius’ flat and take the flight of stairs two at a time. Sirius in front of Remus, not because Sirius is necessarily faster than Remus but because Sirius has the key. It’s universally understood between the two of them that whoever has the key goes first, so that they can unlock the door faster, so that the keyless can watch the keyholders back, so that they can get into the safety of one of their flat’s as quickly as possible.
They have learned that every second counts.
Remus moves further into the flat and pulls out two mugs from a kitchen cabinet. This particular kitchen cabinet is overflowing with mugs. Some have dancing pictures of witches across them while others have muggle inspirational sayings. He doesn’t have to turn around to know Sirius is relocking the door, closing the latch, looking out the peephole to make sure no one followed them back home, so he gets to work brewing the tea. Still he keeps his wand close, tucked under his sleeve, in case Sirius calls to him from the foyer.
Sirius does not call to him from the foyer (a foyer, honestly, that’s how a stranger would know they were in Sirius’ flat and not Remus’. They’d take one look at Remus’ shabby sweaters and plain brown hair and then at Sirius’ sleek leather jacket and glossy curls and just know Remus couldn’t afford a place with a foyer. The stranger, of course, would be correct), but instead he stalks into the kitchen, grey eyes cloaked in something far off and distant, guarded in a way that frightens Remus—the way Sirius lets himself get buried deep into a fight, and Remus has to wait and watch to see if he’ll resurface.
“I’m making tea.”
He looks up, eyes shifting (part of Remus thinks this must be what Sirius looks like at the end of a full moon — shoulders on alert, eyes a little feral).
He asks, “Did they get you?”
“No,” Remus answers, quick and efficient. It’s easier for him to get Sirius to come back to himself if he gives brief answers. “I’m fine. Are you hurt?”
“No,” he shakes his head. “No.”
“Good,” he says nodding. “Then sit down. The tea is almost ready.”
Sirius does as Remus says like he is still in dog form, or warfront mode, like all he knows how to do is take orders.
They drink their tea in silence which is something Remus wishes they wouldn’t do. It gives him too much time to think about what just happened. The job they were sent on. The ambush that happened. The way there had been too many spells flying their way and not nearly enough time for him and Sirius to defend themselves properly. They stayed at their post until they couldn’t, until the only option left was to disapparate. Still even if it was a lost cause it still felt like their abandonment of the post was mortally wrong.
And how did they know they were going to be there? And why when the spells were coming their way did Remus not know who to defend first himself or Sirius? Why, and it struck something hot and insecure inside him to think it, but why did Sirius not have the same problem? In the heat of a fight, the middle of a quidditch match, with two minutes left on a final exam he always knew what to do, how best to protect himself.
Remus drinks the rest of his tea while Sirius watches him from past the brim of his cup.
“I should be getting back to my place. Before it gets too late.”
Sirius’ eyes are watching him closely (Remus tells himself it’s out of concern. Concern for who, he doesn’t want to know).
“You can spend the night here if you want.”
Remus shakes his head. There was a time when he would have said yes to this and swallowed his disappointment when Sirius showed him to the guest room, but now, but now, but now he can’t stand the watchful look that trails him everywhere he goes in this damn flat.
“No, I need to catch up on my sleep in a good bed. The Full is in a couple days.” It’s only partly the truth.
“I know. You think we joined a war and suddenly I just forget things like that?”
Yes. “No, I was just reminding you.”
“You can take my bed. I’ll sleep in the guest room or as padfoot.” He says it so earnestly, eyes with less walls up than before, that Remus knows he’s come down completely from the adrenaline of the fight.
“I need to go home, Padfoot.”
Sirius gets out of his seat and only stops walking when he’s reached the opening to the hallway. Without turning around, he says, “Send me a patronus when you’re back safe. So I know.”
Sirius is in his room, the door shut, before Remus can get out the word, “Okay.”
Two weeks later, they are all gathered at James and Lily’s for a late night supper. It is an unusually calm evening. It has been several days since Remus has been out on an assignment and even more for Sirius which has left the latter particularly energetic and receptive to silliness.
Sirius sits in front of Harry on the carpet while Remus watches from an armchair. Peter sits close to the fire.
“Who’s your favorite godfather, Harry? Who? Me!” Sirius coos.
“Well, he doesn’t have very many options now does he?” Remus quips.
Sirius looks away from Harry and up at Remus. There is a smile across his face, and it pleases Remus to see it (sometimes, he thinks Harry is the only person alive that can distract Sirius from the war).
“Well let me ask him a different question then. Harry, who is your favorite K-9? Now, keep in mind for your Uncle Remus’ sake that werewolves do count. But I must also add that animagi count as well.”
Remus rolls his eyes but laughs.
“What’s that?” Sirius leans in close to Harry’s face, making him giggle. “Still Sirius!”
“What kind of —”
“Sirius,” Lily’s voice rings from the kitchen. “Will you come help James set the table?”
Sirius’ head snaps away from Remus to look at her from the kitchen door that’s swung open.
“Can’t he do that by himself? Moony and I were—”
“Sirius,” Lily’s voice is distinct, cutting clear across the crackle of the fire.
Without another word, Sirius scoops Harry up and plops him into Remus’ lap. “Fine.”
Remus tries not to let the heat of his gaze follow Sirius into the next room, and instead he wipes the spit dribbling down Harry’s chin. The room is quiet for a moment before he remembers that Peter is still sitting silently by the fire (and he forces down the guilt that accompanies his forgetfulness).
He says, “How are you, Peter?”
And Peter responds, “Fine. How was the Full? I’m sorry I couldn’t be there.”
Remus pulls his fingers out of Harry’s mouth from where he sat gnawing on them and says quickly, “It’s okay.”
In truth, Remus had been undercover for the Full, running with a pack that lives down at the south end of London. It had been a cold, nasty experience from what his human mind could remember, and yet the wolf part of him loved the thrill, the unrestrained (and still restraint in the one way that mattered most, the line that would kill him if he ever crossed) freedom of running that he’d never completely felt with Padfoot and Prongs. It left him with an uneasy feeling in his stomach; he was living two different lives.
He hears Sirius’ voice raise in the kitchen then quickly fall back down again (perhaps, he was living three lives, not two — how different they all were).
“Next month,” Peter says, “We’ll all change together, just like old times.”
And his smile is so genuinely sincere and earnest with just a touch uncertainty that Remus has to smile too and before he realizes that he is speaking, he says, “Sure.”
Then he grimaces (partly because now he’ll have to come up with a lie next month if Peter brings it up again, and he is beginning to feel like he is a first year again, back to lying to friends he’s not sure he knows all that well, but also) because there is a wicked bad smell coming from Harry, and no he will not change his diaper. Not again.
Fast, so that Peter won’t realize what he’s doing, he passes the baby off to him and says, “I’m gonna go wash my hands before dinner. Good luck with him.”
Remus spins around, winking, “He’s your problem now, mate.”
He is smiling to himself when he heads into the kitchen, but stops when he hears Sirius say his name. Sirius is not addressing him. No, he is hissing, “Remus might be, Lily. We can’t know for sure.”
Remus keeps himself there, stuck outside the kitchen door, listening.
“Why are you talking like this Sirius?” James’ voice is accusatory but still respectful (always respectful somehow, he never really could be mean to Sirius), “It’s Moony we’re talking about here.”
“I know. I know it’s Moony we’re talking about. That’s why it scares me.” His voice sounds pitched and conflicted, but Remus has heard enough.
He hurries back into the living room where Peter and Harry still are. In his rush, he knocks over a vase Lily has sitting out with flowers. It crashes to the ground, and it startles Harry — a cry like a shatter comes from the baby.
James calls with tension in his voice, “Everything alright in there?”
Remus doesn’t answer. He looks at Peter for a brief second, and he can’t read his expression (though he thinks it might be pity). In the next second, he opens the front door letting the cool night air enter, leaves the protective enchantments cloaking the house, and disapparates from Godric’s Hollow.
If he thinks he hears Sirius’ voice in the time between him thinking of his next place and leaving the current one behind, he knows it’s just his imagination.
Remus stumbles in drunk to his flat’s bathroom. It is a quiet place. On the second floor of a building in a shoddy area of London, he lives in a one room flat with a pull out bed from the couch, a bathroom with ten minutes of hot water, and a kitchen only big enough for a single burner stove, oven even smaller, and sink. He doesn’t keep perishables.
So after several (too many) butterbeers and then a few (shouldn’t have had any) shots of firewhiskey, he stumbles into his little flat, drunken state or not, remembering to lock the door behind him.
He throws himself into the bathroom afraid of what might be coming back up. And, god, if this isn’t a low point after a series of low months, years, a low point in a rather low life, then he doesn’t know what it is. The bathroom spins, the toilet feels like it is mocking him with the yellow ring at the bottom, but at least, he thinks, Myrtle isn’t here to voice exactly how pitiful he feels.
He can’t get the words out of his head. Sirius saying “I know it’s Moony that’s why I am scared.” Like, like he was truly being seen for the monster that he is. Like none of it, Hogwarts, the shack, that night on the roof, had been anything.
A fever chill runs through him, and for a moment he thinks irresistibly of the Full. The way his body shakes. The way he can’t stop his mind from obsessing, obsessing on all the gore of his body and the horror it must be to the ones he loves.
He knows vomit will come soon.
Until there is a quiet clatter in the kitchen which is only a thin wall between him. Immediately, he is in defense mode. He freezes in his hunched spot and pulls out his wand. But he knows he locked the door, and so he knows it can only be one person (as there is only one other person with a key).
And if this is an ambush, fine. But Sirius will know Remus isn’t who he thinks he is first.
He leaves his wand on the tile floor.
Slowly, he pulls himself off the ground and opens the bathroom door (only a few inches, any more and it would creak). He almost has to climb over his couch to get to the kitchen adjacent to the bathroom. Remus is prepared, he tells himself, for what he will meet in the kitchen.
Except, of course, that he is not.
In the dim lighting of the pull-string light bulb from above, Sirius’ back is to Remus. His head is bowed over the sink, curls swamping his face. His hands (long fingers, bitten nails, but elegant still) do not hold his wand. They are not pointing at Remus like an accusation. In fact, Sirius’ wand lays on the counter (away, but not really far away) from him.
No, Sirius’ hands are washing Remus’ dishes. Slow and methodical like he is drunk himself and if he stops, he won’t remember how to start again. And what startles Remus truly is that he is cleaning them without magic (something he did not know Sirius was capable of doing).
Remus, as if under the imperius curse (though perhaps that is not quite right, you aren’t filled with this much want when under a curse), finds himself walking towards Sirius.
Until he is right there, right there.
They are side by side. Sirius is in a blue shirt, and his gray eyes look even more hooded. They dart to look quick at where his wand lays unattended, but they travel back to the dishes. Slowly, he closes his eyes, opens them again. Never looking back at Remus as if he’d walked in with an invisibility cloak fallen over him.
“Moony,” he whispers.
“I thought you only did chores with magic.”
Sirius smiles like he shouldn’t be, “I don’t do chores, period.”
Remus shrugs his hands into his pockets, “Then what are you doing here in my kitchen? Breaking and entering?”
“You gave me a key,” he says indignantly, like he thinks Remus is actually accusing him.
Remus hates this damned dingy apartment, and the way it is nothing compared to Sirius’. The way nothing is anything compared to Sirius.
There is a silence, and it sits between them like Peter during late night runs to Hogsmeade. Awkward and, for the moment, completely unwanted.
“Remus,” Sirius starts. “We should talk about what you heard.”
Remus shrugs. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Sirius rolls his eyes, “Back at James and Lily’s.”
“Oh, well, we don’t really talk about things between us, so why start now?”
Sirius looks, for a split second, lost, but then he seems to remember the he is Sirius Black. Still, Remus is not blind, and he can see Sirius is breathing anxiety. “Fine, then I’ll just talk.”
“It’s okay,” he says.
“I don’t know what you think—”
But somewhere in this conversation, he’s found the truth of it. The truth which is that he’ll never know the truth of it, but tomorrow he could die (and if not then, then maybe the next day).
“I don’t want to know what you think—”
So for tonight—
“Just tell me you love me.”
Sirius stops still. “What?”
Sirius who only hours ago stood in a kitchen and accused Remus of something traitorous. Sirius who always knows how to defend only himself, but they both make it back okay anyway.
Sirius who is here now washing the crust off a plate with a soapy sponge. Wand close but far enough away. If Remus had come into the room and attacked, Sirius would be dead. If Sirius had been poised to attack when Remus walked in, he’d never have gotten back to the bathroom in time to grab his wand even if he’d wanted to. They were both gambling on each other, or perhaps in this circumstance it was just called hoping.
“Because I love you,” Remus says.
They look at each other for so long it stretches before them like a reel of muggle film, and Remus sees every snapshot. Every September 1st on the Hogwarts Express, laughing. Every late night run to the kitchens and Hogsmeade, all trouble. Every full moon, before—the ripping, the blood, the bones breaking—and the after—barely anything covering him, Sirius’ doleful eyes, a cold but comforting hand. He saw everything. Every battle since leaving school and every close call.
He knows Sirius has seen it too, somehow. Like they’ve both just stared into the same pensive.
They move to each other like it’s the only option. Sirius kisses him fiercely. Before, Remus was filled with want and craters. And now he is not.
Remus kisses him again and again until they are more than just kissing. Until they wake up in the morning on his pale sheets, sun streaming in from his window. Until they forget what it is they were fighting about, mostly.
Sirius kisses his neck and asks, “Why now?”
Remus does not want to tell him that he got tired of dying the other way. The way he is always asking for more breath, less pain, more heartbeats.
“I’ve learned every second counts,” He kisses him softly on the lips.
He thinks, for this moment at least, Sirius understands, and he takes a snapshot in his mind.