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Message from Seat 25A

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Remus Lupin (51E):

Really? You're going to take the last juice box from a four year old?

Sirius Black (25A):

Gotta fuel the punk rock!

Sirius Black (25A):

And I didn't know she would cry forever

Remus Lupin (51E):

It's a juice box.

Remus Lupin (51E):

And she's four.

Sirius Black (25A):

Juice boxes are punk rock

Sirius Black (25A):

And that's hardly an excuse for a temper you can hear all the way back in Coach

Sirius Black (25A):

Speaking of which, wouldn't be hard to pull a few strings, if you wanted to join me in actual non-sardine seating

Remus Lupin (51E):

Give her the juice box Sirius

Remus Lupin (51E):

And for the billionth time, no, I don't need to fly First Class

Sirius Black (25A):

Aren't we just reinforcing this never-ending tantrum if we give her what she wants? That whole psychology conditioning thing Lily went on about?

Sirius Black (25A):

And they need to add emoji on these, this is just uncivilized

Remus Lupin (51E):

Sirius so help me if you don't give her the juice I will come up there

Sirius Black (25A):

Kinda been my goal this entire trip Moons

Sirius Black (25A):

Kidding! Fine..

Remus Lupin (51E):

Thanks ttyl love

Sirius Black (25A):

You could come up here anyway

Sirius Black (25A):

We have reclining seats and footrests

Sirius Black (25A):

I have chocolate come on Remus

Sirius Black (25A):

Peter is humming along to every Into The Woods song come groan at him with me

Sirius Black (25A):

Remussss where have you gone?

Sirius Black (25A):

Fiiiine ttyl love

 

Remus' lips turned up in a wry grin as he clicked the power down button on his screen, leaning back slightly and letting out a shaky exhale. Figures he would get a flare right when the plane took off. He couldn't take the pain medication without food but his fingers were already stiffening. He glanced down at his left hand again, trying to flex the fingers, but they wouldn't unbend. He'd struggled to type the last few messages with one hand, and there was a growing pain throbbing in his head and a dull pain that seemed to course through his very bones. His breathing was generally shallow, a result of his paralyzed diaphragm that the specialist had only recently informed him was irreparable; he would be limited to shallow breaths the rest of his life, and even then would struggle constantly with normal breathing as he was now. His head, already pounding with a sharp pain growing behind his eyes, seemed to spin slightly as his vision swam, and he struggled to draw in short, shallow breaths that weren't on the verge of hyperventilating.

He glanced at the menu again, noting the next meal in an hour. He placed his hands in his lap and glanced at the briefcase pocket that held his medicine. He could wait that long for pain killer, and of course there was nothing he could do about the flare other than to wait out for return of the control of his limb. The steroids he was on were supposed to prevent flares, but didn't do much good when they inevitably happened. He wondered whether that would be the eventual cure for lupus, just something that could control flares, even if those affected still had to dampen their immune systems their entire lives. For a wistful moment as he drew in quick breaths, he thought it might be enough for him, a break from the constant pain and fatigue.

A sharp flare of pain in his chest made him arch against the seat slightly, and he gasped then paled as his lungs protested and screamed for air. He squeezed his eyes shut and fought for a tiny breath, but his lungs, treacherously air-deprived as they were, tried to suck in a large breath, and he gripped the armrest tighter, curling over as he drew in a tiny breath, then another, his muscles burning and his eyes squeezed tightly against the pain.

It was several moments before his breathing regulated, and he exhaled slowly, opening his eyes blearily, the chattering around him swimming back along with his vision. The thin, sour-faced man beside him sneered slightly through stringy, greasy-looking black hair before turning back to his movie, and Remus eased his white-knuckled grip on the armrest. His head throbbed painfully, a sharp pulsing carving between his eyes, and his left hand wasn't moving at all anymore. He tried shifting in his seat, then realized the flare was more extensive than he thought, as his legs were quite stiff as well. Remus sighed quietly, tensing as another wave of pain blazed through his veins and his breath caught. The man beside him shifted in his seat, jostling Remus slightly and Remus squeezed his eyes shut as the movement sent agony through his already agonizing joints. He considered telling the man to be careful, but wasn't sure he could get the words out considering the small half-breaths he was managing to pull in at the moment. Snate? Snape? He had practically spat his name at Remus when he had first struggled to stow his carry on luggage before proceeding to lecture him for ten minutes about the delicate contents of his bag that Remus was "not to clumsily jostle."

Remus thought ruefully of Peter and Sirius sitting in First Class, laughing together and enjoying a film and their reclining chairs and chocolate . Of course Sirius had insisted for weeks that he purchase Remus a ticket for First Class with them, but Remus had insisted quite firmly that he would be riding Coach instead. He had tried to explain it away as being his comfort zone since the monetary excuse clearly hadn't worked, but Sirius hadn't been fully convinced. He tensed again against another burning pain, this time in his side, and at the pervasive dull pain in his bones and joints. He leaned his head back against the seat and let his eyes fall closed as he focused on maintaining his breathing. Of course the real reason had been that he didn't want them to see him like this. Peter probably wouldn't have noticed, absorbed as he got in movies and shows, but Remus and Sirius were still new in their relationship and while Sirius was aware his SLE sometimes flared up, he had never seen it happen this badly, and Remus knew he would fret and hover and it would ruin Sirius’ entire flight. If Remus’ pain had to ruin his own flight, he thought reasonably, why should it also ruin Sirius' after all his excitement at visiting James and Lily at Lily's parents' new home in the United States? Remus had been concerned about an eight hour flight of course, but it was hard to resist Sirius' excitement and enthusiasm, and even though they had only been together a few weeks, Remus had never felt this way before and he needed this to work, needed them to work, because Sirius was unlike anyone he had ever met and he felt something between them and he was sure Sirius felt it too.

He heard a snort of derisiveness to his right, but before he could glance at the man, an elbow had nudged his ribs and he felt the impact blaze through his entire torso, his eyes streaming as he squeezed them shut and shifted a trembling stiff arm to his side, the pain blinding as he forced his breathing to remain shallow. Sirius , he thought blearily. You’re here for Sirius, think of him, think of - his ribs flamed to life again and he gasped, and his lungs scorched and he gave himself into the agony again.

---

Sirius smiled as he politely stepped out of the aisle for a passing elderly gentleman, then continued eagerly down the aisle as it cleared again, the chocolate tucked behind his back. Remus had insisted so strongly on sitting in coach, but did it mean he had to miss out on the complementary chocolate? Sirius stepped aside again as a woman led a child down the aisle in front of him, and he frowned in memory. Remus’ insistence hadn’t been solely based on the money, he knew that. Remus could be stubborn about accepting anything he could see as charity and with the considerable difference in wealth between them, Sirius supposed it made sense, but it was so difficult to remember that when he knew something he could so easily buy could make Remus so happy. He shook his head, focusing. Remus had said he’d see him when they landed but he hadn’t exclusively banned him from coming back to visit. And Sirius wasn’t ignorant, he knew Remus wasn’t comfortable sitting for long periods of time, had found that out over the course of their relationship along with many other small discomforts that came with his SLE. If he could do even a small thing to help make him more comfortable, he had to.

He grinned as Remus’ row came into view, but it quickly dropped from his face as Remus himself came into view. Sirius came to a sudden stop in the aisle, almost dropping the chocolate, concern flooding through him like ice. Remus was hunched into himself in the seat, eyes closed tightly and streaming tears, the front of his shirt damp and - how long had he been crying - his shoulders trembling. Sirius came to his senses as a man tapped his shoulder politely to pass him in the aisle, and he stepped aside dazedly without looking away from Remus. Had he been this way the whole flight? Why hadn’t he taken something for the pain? Was there something more than just the pain? Did he need a doctor? Sirius’ frantic thoughts jolted him into motion and he rushed forward, and now that he was standing above him he could hear Remus’ shuddering gasps and aborted whimpers and the white knuckled grip he had on the armrest and the edge where his lip was bleeding from how hard he was biting it and the ice in Sirius’ veins throbbed. Then the man next to Remus shifted in his seat, and with a smirk let his elbow dig into Remus’ side. Remus arched in his seat with a cry he immediately stifled, and his face was contorted in pain as he gasped, shook. And the ice in Sirius’ blood was suddenly fire, blazing all-consuming rage and without thinking he drew his fist back to reach across Remus and slam it into the enormous nose framed by lank, greasy black hair and how dare he, how dare he, how dare -

The man cried out in pain, hands flying to clutch at his bloody nose, and he managed to cower in his seat even as he shot a poisonous glare at Sirius, whose shoulders were heaving, fist still outstretched and rage blinding him because Remus was in pain, was crying , and this piece of filth had-

A warm, shaking hand grabbed at his, and he shook himself, the anger draining from him as he completely ignored the furious stammering of the bleeding man and knelt beside Remus, chocolate dropping limply from his other hand as he threaded their fingers together gently. Remus’ expression softened as it met his, and Sirius tightened his grip on his hand, lifting another to gently stroke his cheek. Remus’ eyes fluttered closed at the touch, and Sirius felt the worry congeal in his stomach, thick and frantic.

“I’m fine, love,” Remus breathed, eyes bright as he opened them again, but his voice shook as he continued, “it gets l-like this sometimes, I told y-you.” His words were belied by his panting as he arched against the seat again, eyes closing and hand clamping into a death grip on Sirius’ hand.

Sirius closed his eyes for a long moment, exhaling deeply, then shook his head, and when he spoke it was barely audible through gritted teeth. “Remus. Please. You - I - I can’t help with the pain, I know I can’t, I can’t - I don’t - please , Remus, come to first class and you can lie down, a warm blanket, get away from this filth ,” he spat venomously.

But Remus was shaking his head, minute turns, and he panted for another moment before he murmured dazedly, “Don’t wanna ruin it for you.”

Sirius froze, and felt the ice slam back through him, filling his throat for a moment as he watched Remus struggle for breath, loosen his tight grip on Sirius’ fingers. “You… is that why you didn’t fly first class?” And he couldn’t keep the hurt from his voice as he whispered, “You think you’d… ruin a flight for me?”

Remus shook his head then winced, gasping and holding up his other hand as he clenched his eyes shut, panting. It felt like a long, long, moment before he spoke, and Sirius could feel the eyes of the passengers in the aisles around them boring into his back, could feel the poisonous glower of the bloody-nosed man beside Remus still burning into him, and he didn’t care as he leaned forward patiently even as anguish sparked through him.

“I just m-meant,” Remus breathed, and Sirius leaned forward even further, his chest brushing Remus’ knees as he strained to hear over the ragged gasps, “you can’t h-help with the p-pain so why see m-me when I’m like… this.” Sirius had a vehement response already shooting out but silenced himself as Remus’ eyes closed again and he whispered, “No need to r-ruin the flight for both of us.”

Sirius growled, and as Remus’ eyes flew open, startled, he leaned upwards to press their foreheads together, mindful not to touch any other part of him. The man beside them was muttering disgustedly, his disbelieving cringe showing what he thought of them, but he shrank away into his seat as Sirius shot him a menacing glare. Remus’ eyes shined, and his lips twitched as he exhaled deeply, and Sirius’ voice was firm but gentle as he spoke haltingly. “Remus, I’m - that’s all I need. I can’t - I can’t feel what you do but I want to - and I can’t -  I can’t make the pain go away but I can be there for you and I want to - and I can - I want to , Remus.”

Remus smiled, and they both closed their eyes, foreheads warm against each other and breath tickling each other’s faces. Then Remus let out another muffled cry of pain, and Sirius leaned back as he slowly raised the armrest from Remus’ seat and leaned back to adjust into a balanced crouch before he whispered, “Hey.”

The moment Remus looked up, Sirius’ arms were behind his back, under his knees, and there was a moment of blinding pain as Sirius lifted him into the air. Sirius turned away, giving one last long, threatening look at the greasy-haired man before turning carefully to make his way back through the aisle. A flight attendant had bustled over on the other side of the aisle to inquire about his nose bleed and Sirius smirked as he headed away. He grimaced, hyperaware of the trembling in Remus’ slim frame, the way his face buried in Sirius’ neck, the rigid way he tried to tense against him as he whimpered in pain, gasped for breath. The indignant protests of the flight attendant in his aisle were ignored along with all the staring passengers as he focused everything on carrying the boy he loved away.

Sirius’ breath shuddered as he felt hot tears trickling down his throat, and he forced himself not to look down even as he felt the soft, warm, painfully gasped breaths on his neck. There were tears burning in his own eyes as he swallowed the lump in throat, bending his head carefully to lightly kiss Remus’ forehead. “I'm sorry,” he murmured, and his voice broke at Remus’ face contorting in pain again, at his whimper. “I'm s-so so s-sorry, Remus.”

His cautiously slow walk back seemed infinitely longer than the walk there had been, and he was mindful of every step that jostled Remus however minutely against him, and the thick clouding in his chest at the tears that continued to run down his throat, at the jagged breaths that warmed his neck. Remus’ breathing had steadied by the time he reached his seat again, was deepened slightly, and his eyes were closed lightly, finally asleep. Sirius spent a long, long moment gazing down at him, feeling a desperate ballooning of warmth and caring aching through his chest. Then Remus’ face crumpled in pain again, his breathing catching in his sleep, and Sirius snapped into action, waving a wide-eyed Peter over to lay the seat back into a bed, to fetch warm blankets, to bribe the flight attendant so she’d be available to Remus the second he woke, to warn the passengers in front of and before them about the silence he would enforce on risk of death because his “darling marshmallow” was sleeping and if anyone dared wake him now... A soft smile rose as he gazed down at Remus’ sleeping form, and he reached down carefully to tuck the blankets around him, to press a gentle kiss to his forehead. Remus’ lips twitched even in his sleep, and Sirius beamed, feeling an overwhelming love lancing through him like lightning. “Sleep well, love.” Then he rose, squaring his shoulders with a ruthless scowl. He had an overdue chat with a neighbor back in Coach, and a feeling it was going to go quite smoothly indeed.

---

Remus groaned quietly as he woke in pieces, pain flaring to life or throbbing dully. His mind was still bleary as he cautiously flexed his hands, wincing at the fading sting but reveling in the movement. The flare had, for the most part, lapsed then. And without even a fever. Maybe Sirius had been- Sirius.

Remus’ eyes snapped open and he forced himself not to move as he took in the dim scene around him.  He was lying in a bed extended out of a seat - first class then - and had multiple blankets piled atop him. The only lights were dim red ones from the distant exit signs and the subtle line of the strips illuminating the aisle. He lifted his head slightly to see Peter in the seat across from him, headphones on and forehead crumpled in confusion at the screen before him, a can in one hand and a bag of chips in the other. Remus smiled lightly, letting his head fall back and to the side, then grinned. The tray table was piled with chocolate bars and truffles, and even as he reached for one slowly, a flight attendant hurried forward, inquiring anxiously whether he needed anything, needed a doctor.

He shook his head as he waved her off, wondering how long she’d waited, then focused on gripping the sides of the bed and slowly levering himself up. He tensed at the residual burning in his chest and hands but gritted his teeth and sat up. Peter yanked his headphones off and grinned at him, leaning toward him from his seat.

“Alright there, Remus?” Remus smiled faintly as he concentrated, his head feeling full of cotton as he leaned back against the window beside him. His head swam again, and he closed his eyes, opening them a moment later to Peter’s worried expression. “Sorry.” Peter whispered as if he’d disturbed him, and he put the can down to point down the aisle away from them. “Sirius should be here in a second, the flight attendant is probably  calling him. Or anyone could be really, I think he bribed them all to message his seat. Or… threatened?” Peter was babbling nervously, his hand fidgeting with the chips back, and Remus nodded at him, his thoughts still unfocused.

He raised a steady hand to rub at his eyes, wondering how long he’d been asleep. It was amazing he’d fallen asleep on a plane at all, and his heart fluttered at the memory of Sirius holding him gently to his chest even as his own chest had been burning, searing with bolts of stabbing agony. Peter had mentioned Sirius, where was he?

“Where’s… Sirius’ seat?” Remus managed to mumble tiredly, and Peter raised an eyebrow before slowly answering.

“Well… you’re in it. There aren’t just empty first class seats, of course, and he was going to buy an extra one in case you changed your mind but he knew I’d tell you and he didn’t want you to get mad if - Wait, sorry! I didn’t mean to tell you! Please don’t tell him! I mean, he’s not- he has a seat, he’s in yours too, so it’s okay if-”

Peter’s anxious stammering washed over Remus, hardly any comprehension filtering through, but at that Remus surged from his seat with a yelp. “He’s in my -” But that’s as far as he got before he felt a terrible rush of numbness sweep through his legs as a sea of grey swam across his vision, and there was a faint cry of alarm from Peter before his hearing dimmed into a shrill buzzing as well and then everything was black.

He awoke faster this time, his head clearer this time, and he kept his eyes closed, exploring with his other senses even as everything came together and he cringed with embarrassment. He’d fainted. Again. He’d fainted, and was lying in the middle of the aisle, limbs strewn across the plush carpet and head in what he knew was Sirius’ lap. There was a hissing conversation, and he tuned it in as he carefully flexed his fingers and grinned at the way both were speaking at the same time over each other

“-what did I even leave you here for and didn’t send you to coach, Pete, what were you doing-”

“-Sirius I swear I did and I was jumping up even when he swayed but it was so fast-”

“-when Remus faints right in front of you and you can’t even bother to catch him-”

“-and he just dropped and I can’t have even realistically-”

Sirius’ eyes widened and his voice petered off as Peter continued defensively but no one was listening as Sirius raised a gentle hand to cup Remus’ cheek, murmuring, “Feeling better?”

Remus smiled up at him, nodded and reaching a steady hand up to lay on Sirius’.

“Sorry, Remus.” Peter whispered with a sheepish smile from his seat. Remus turned to reassure him and saw from the corner of his eye as Sirius made a violent motion. Peter huffed and slipped his headphones back on before turning to his TV. Remus chuckled, and it hardly even ached as he looked back up at Sirius’ smile and felt a nervous flutter in his stomach. The moment had stretched on before Remus said tentatively, “I can go back to my seat now. I’m feeling much-”

But Sirius was shaking his head, and he held up his free hand as Remus went to protest, his grin turning wolfish. “This isn’t a martyring, Remus, I’m enjoying coach. That terrorizing git neighbor of yours and I had a lovely chat. He’s-”

Sirius cut off as Remus arched against a flash of white hot pain raced through his spine, and things were hazy for a moment before he could refocus on Sirius’ wide, worried grey eyes floating above him as he struggled to control his breathing. He weakly raised the hand that wasn’t still on Sirius’ that now rested on his shoulder, and waved it vaguely at Sirius, who thankfully understood and nodded, a determined expression in his face as he began to speak.

Remus let the words wash over him, remembering the many evenings in his apartment when he’d felt a lurch of disappointment, of shame, when his pain had flared up and he hadn’t been able to move, to speak, to think. There was a burning shame in him now that Sirius had to see him like this, certainly the worst flare Sirius had to witness so far, when he’d been having a good flight, a good trip. He shook himself inwardly, focusing on Sirius’ smile above him, the words still drifting over him as his chest burned and his joints flamed with pain and his head throbbed.

“-and she was right across the aisle, her name was Alice, I don’t know if you got a chance to get acquainted but she was absolutely amazing, honestly with the TARDIS sweater I was already in awe but her obsession would rival Peter’s maybe and-” Remus felt the words curl around him, a shelter in a raging storm, and he leaned into the hand Sirius had raised to absentmindedly brush Remus hair from his face.

He took a breath, and another, and smiled. Sirius broke off for a moment to beam at him, then went on, tone light and caring and comforting to a level Remus had never, ever let himself imagine he could have. And he’s lying on the ground and his head is throbbing dully and he can't breathe well, is taking tiny, careful breaths that burn coldly in his lungs as his joints and bones cramp and blaze painfully, but Sirius is brushing through his hair tenderly and gazing down at him and the fondness is suddenly overwhelming him. And he's changed his mind, the flares can continue and will and he knows that but this, this will definitely be enough for him, if he can just have this forever he can take whatever life throws at him. His fingers reached up to shakily interlace through Sirius' and he clasps their hands tightly together as Sirius pauses his prattle again to smile, gentle and soft. Remus' heart swelled, beating in time with the soft cocooning contentment of this moment, and the heart murmur and arrhythmia and all the inflammation in the past had nothing on the way Sirius made his heart burn and soar and feel alive, feel so beyond alive, and he closed his eyes and let himself be in this moment. This, this was more than enough, this, always and forever.