“Quand il me prend dans ses bras…qu'il me parle tout bas…je vois la vie en rose…”
A rough, raspy voice echoed through the depths of 12 Grimmauld Place, a voice quiet when it once was loud and boisterous. It was a song well-known to the walls of this house, one rehearsed and rehearsed to pure perfection many years ago. The song was emptier without a tune behind it. That thought hit a bit too close to home. Sirius didn’t understand why that was the case, but he didn’t feel the need to analyse it too much.
French songs were one of the many things he had been forced to learn when he was a child. It had been a part of his parents’ education to turn himself and Regulus into ‘prim and proper young men’ who were able to listen and ‘carry on the Black traditions with the integrity they truly deserve’. Given that one son died while serving the Dark Lord and the other became a gay traitor, Sirius wasn’t sure how well that plan worked out for them.
A soft growl pulled him from his thoughts. He looked down at the head of a large wolf lying on the floor beside him. “You don’t appreciate my brooding, no?”
The wolf did not answer him, but his silence spoke for itself.
The Wolfsbane Potion had done wonders for Remus, Sirius could clearly see that. The vague memories he still held of the vicious, angry wolf he became while they were students at Hogwarts contrasted greatly with the grumpy but docile one that lay at Sirius’ side. He knew from his willingness to transform down in this dank basement, instead of chaining himself somewhere out of the way, that Remus trusted himself a bit more. And as much as he disliked Severus Snape, Sirius was thankful that he provided such a reprieve for his friend.
Remus whined and nosed at Sirius’ hand. Sirius automatically moved his hand to the back of Remus’ closest ear, scratching behind it gently. He chuckled weakly as Remus snuggled closer to him.
“You know, I never would have taken you for such a cuddler, Moony.”
Remus opened one bright yellow eye and fixed him with the laziest glare he had ever seen.
“Maybe you’ve sombered in your old age.”
The only answer he got was a soft huff. Remus then proceeded to lay his head on Sirius’ lap, close his eye again and slowly doze off.
Grumpy, docile, and very sleepy. Definitely a far cry from what Sirius was used to. It was a good change. He leaned back into the wall, humming under his breath as his hand continued to gently pet the wolf’s head. Yes, a good change indeed.
He didn’t realise he had dozed off until he found himself waking again. He could hear the birds chirping outside the window in a cheerful cacophony and felt a steady and moist warmness brush against his neck.
Remus was lying against him, fast asleep and very human. Sirius was struck with how much older he seemed now that he was close enough for Sirius to study him. More lines across his face, both from scars and from age. His thin face was pale and his eyes were underlined with deep purple. But he still looked as beautiful as ever. The sight made Sirius’ chest tighten in a way he did not like, and so he promptly looked up at the ceiling and blinked away the sudden stinging.
Feelings that had not graced his mind in over a decade returned with a force he was not prepared for. Feelings he had long buried, knowing that between the prank that lost him Remus’ trust and the war that drove them apart, he would not be wanted. He could not be wanted, not then and not now either. Remus surely only spent time with him in the present to be reminded of the good old days in school. That was something he could hardly fault him for, such a comfort would be priceless for the person who could accept it.
But Sirius could not accept it, no matter how desperately he wanted to grasp it. Every time he tried to hold onto a semblance of positive emotion, he was slapped with the same choking despair that had been so amplified by the Dementors in Azkaban. The same awful shamefulness that clung to him as he haunted the halls of his childhood home.
Each time he fought for Harry’s love and attention, he wondered whether or not he deserved it. Surely if Dumbledore placed him with the Dursleys, then maybe Sirius did not deserve to have him? He tried to remember how truly miserable Harry said he was with his aunt and her family but it could not stifle the heaviness Sirius felt in the pit of his stomach. How could he be wanted by Harry?
And if he didn’t deserve Harry, then how on earth could he deserve Remus in the way he craved? Remus, the man who had suffered more than Sirius could even imagine. The strongest person Sirius had ever known and probably ever would know. He felt as a teenager, holding his best friend’s hurting body in the Shack every month, that he was unworthy. There was no way he was worthy of his friendship or his love now.
As if he could sense Sirius’ quickening descent into darkness, Remus started to stir and his eyes started to open.
A distraction. Good.
“Are you hungry?” Sirius murmured as Remus settled into a seat at the kitchen table. He looked slightly less gaunt now that he was upstairs, which eased his worries a bit.
“Not really, but I’ll have something anyway.” As he spoke, Remus began to rise out of his seat again. He only stopped when Sirius ran over to guide him back to his seat.
“You stay there, I’ll make some tea and toast.”
Remus didn’t say anything, just fixed him with a steady look. It was the same one he remembered Remus wearing whenever he lied about receiving a letter from home, or tried to hide the fact that he had had a nightmare. It took Sirius back once again to feelings unbidden. He swallowed them down as much as he could, instead turning to put the kettle on. He could feel Remus watching him as he popped a tea bag into a cup.
He reached for the steaming kettle to make the tea. He toasted and buttered two slices of bread, then carried the small meal over to Remus. He ate quietly and Sirius played with the loose threads at the ends of his jumper sleeves. He felt out of place, an intruder on another man’s meal. Unnecessary.
He didn’t ever feel that way when they were in school. Sirius was the one who fetched Remus food when he spent time in the Hospital Wing – it was often the only way he could be convinced to leave his side. But despite the confessions he was hiding at the time, he didn’t feel unneeded. These moments felt comfortable back then.
He knew that these constant comparisons were not helping, but he couldn’t help it.
He was able to ignore it for a moment though, as Remus was smiling at him and thanking him quietly. Focusing on his hurting friend was more important.
They had settled in the sitting room, locking the door to have privacy from Kreacher, when Remus asked him.
“Were you singing last night?”
Sirius turned from his staring at his burnt portrait on the family tree to face Remus, pursing his lips before he spoke. “Yes.”
Remus nodded slowly, rubbing the side of his jaw in an absent movement. He looked everywhere but at Sirius’ face, which Sirius did not like. But he tried to ignore the uncomfortable lump in his throat as he waited for Remus to speak.
“I…um…” Remus stopped, furrowing his brows. His cheeks reddened slightly, much to Sirius’ surprise. He was quite enamoured by it, if he was honest. “I missed hearing it.”
“Hearing you sing.” Remus met his eyes this time, his face still pink but a strong glint in his eye. “You used to sing to me, in the mornings before Madam Pomfrey collected me from the Shack. Do you remember?”
Sirius remembered vividly, despite how much the Dementors had clouded his memories.
“You had all these different ones…lots of Queen, and David Bowie, and the Beatles…but you had the French ones too. I’ve heard them a few times since, and they are wonderful in their own way but…I’ve missed hearing them from you. I didn’t think I’d hear them again because you were…well you were gone and then I didn’t hear them again until last night…I missed them a lot.”
Remus nodded. His flush deepened. “I know it’s unfair of me to ask, especially since I know you have so many things that you have to figure out and all… but could you do that again? I just, I can’t seem to sleep right anymore and last night was a dream.”
Sirius could barely absorb what was being said. What Remus had said went against a lot of what the little voice in his head had been telling him up until this point – he didn’t miss you, he doesn’t need you, you’re only a burden. This, this was Remus needing him. This was Remus wanting him. Even if it was only for these few moments.
So, instead of doubting it like usual, Sirius nodded. “Of course. Anything, Moony.”
He moved to sit down beside Remus. With only a slight hesitation, he lifted his arm up so that Remus could lie against his chest. A small smile appeared on Remus’ face and he moved to do just that. As they settled more into the worn velvet of the couch, he felt Remus leaning his weight against him. But Sirius did not mind. There was something that grew warm and soft in his chest at the thought of being needed again.
He didn’t know what the future held. He didn’t know if they would survive another war with Voldemort. He didn’t even know if he deserved that. But what he did know in this moment was that Remus needed him, and that he needed Remus.
So, he decided to try something new. He decided that he would believe he deserved what he wanted. He would continue to reach for it, grasp it, until he truly believed that he was worthy of the love he craved. That would mean resurfacing what he had buried, and that would take time. But maybe he would be ready for that sometime soon.
And so he pulled Remus closer, and continued to roughly sing the song that now seemed more comforting than it had ever been before.
“Il est entré dans mon cœur…une part de bonheur…dont je connais la cause…”