He is eleven and scared.
He is sitting alone at the Gryffindor table and everyone is staring at him, the black sheep of the Black family. His cousins are staring, glaring, Bellatrix is flashing obscene gestures across the Great Hall and Narcissa is staring at him in what he thinks is disappointment. The Gryffindors do not trust him, not yet, and they watch him warily. He secretly hadn’t wanted to be in Slytherin but he hadn’t wanted this, either.
A boy walks on shaky legs to the Gryffindor table. Sirius watches him. There is a large space between him and the rest of the students and he wonders where this new boy will sit, if he, too, will distance himself from Sirius.
He sits down next to him. He doesn’t smile and he doesn’t introduce himself, but his body is warm next to Sirius’ and he can finally look away from his cousins.
James Potter is his best friend but Remus Lupin is his first.
He is twelve and he is cajoling. He is soft, he is wheedling, he is a hair away from pleading.
“We know,” he says, sitting on Remus’ bed early early early in the morning. The curtains are drawn, locking the two of them in a little cocoon. Remus’ eyes are dark and mistrusting. Sirius’ are wide and kind.
“Remus. We know.”
“Know what?” His voice is hard and Sirius wants to shake him.
“About you. About where you go every month.”
He swallows, tries to act tougher than Sirius knows he really feels. “My mother is sick.”
“You’re a werewolf.” He blurts it out. He wants to fast forward past this, past this anger and mistrust and get to the part where Remus believes him.
“What are you talking about?”
They had figured it out, all three of them, but Sirius had wanted to tell him, wanted to talk to him one on one instead of ganging up on him, three boys bearing down and throwing his secrets in his face.
“It’s okay, Remus. We don’t… we don’t care. It doesn’t change anything. You’re still our friend.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Remus, you… you disappear every full moon. There isn’t really any other explanation.”
He is quiet. “You don’t…”
“You don’t have to hide from us.”
He finally looks at Sirius. Sirius wants to touch him, wants to make him believe that he’s telling the truth.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” It is a last ditch effort; Remus knows the jig is up.
“Remus. We know that you’re a werewolf. It doesn’t matter to us. We’re not going to leave you.”
Sirius thinks he can see tears in Remus’ eyes and it gives him the strength to reach out and grab his hand. He squeezes, hard, strength Sirius didn’t even know he had. “Promise?”
He is thirteen and embarrassed.
“I don’t really know if I liked it,” he says, looking at his feet. He is the common room; James and Peter are upstairs and he is grateful. He loves them both but he couldn’t tell them this. They would just laugh.
Remus looks thoughtful. “You don’t really know if you liked it with her or you don’t really know if you liked it at all?”
He is thirteen and he has just kissed a girl. Dorcas Meadowes’ lips had been soft and she had smelled good and her skin had been smooth and he really doesn’t think that he liked it.
Remus chews his lip. “It might have just been her,” he says. He is trying to make Sirius feel better.
“What if it isn’t?”
“Then maybe you just don’t like kissing girls.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know.” Any other person would have been exasperated, but Remus isn’t. Remus always understands. “I’m not exactly an expert. Maybe it was just her. Maybe you’re not into her. Maybe it will be better with another person.”
Sirius looks at him. He smiles warmly and Sirius feels something stir in his stomach. If he knew any better he would have recognized it as the thing that was missing when he was kissing Dorcas Meadowes, but he’s only thirteen now and he doesn’t recognize the fluttering in his heart for what it is.
“Your fist kiss isn’t going to be spectacular, Sirius. This isn’t some muggle movie. You can’t be good at everything.”
He smirks. “Says who?”
Remus smiles, and Sirius thinks about all the things he can tell him that he can’t tell the others. Remus smells like old parchment and his skin is scarred. Sirius has a brief thought of what kissing him would be like, but he ignores it, pushes it firmly to the back of his mind, forbidden. This is his best friend.
“Don’t worry, Sirius. I’m sure you’ll kiss lots of girls. You’ll find someone you like.”
He does find someone, and he’s right in front of him, but for now he’s just his best friend, his smile like the sun.
He is fourteen and confused.
He has kissed a few girls, searching for the thing he always sees in muggle movies, but there’s been nothing so far. He’s stopped kissing girls; there’s no point to it, really, because it’s not like he enjoys it, not even on some basic, carnal level. It’s just a thing that happens and he’s getting tired of that flicker of hurt that flits across their faces every time he tells them sorry, I just don’t think we would work. He feels bad, but it’s not like he’s trying to hurt them.
So he’s stopped kissing girls and he doesn’t even miss it, but now he can’t help but notice things that boys are not supposed to notice, especially not about their best friends. But he notices things about Remus, notices his long fingers and the special smile he has that seems to be specifically for him. Remus’ hair is getting too long and every month there are new scars, darker circles under his eyes. They are close to finishing their animagus forms and even though Remus likes to pretend that he’s angry about what they’re doing, Sirius knows that he’s secretly looking forward to the day when he won’t be alone for his transformations.
“Are you all right, mate?”
Leave it to James to always know when something is fucked up.
“I think I fancy Remus.”
James blinks. “Oh. Okay. All right then.”
“Is that all you’re going to say?”
“What else can I say? You fancy Remus. M’happy for you. Does this mean you’ve switched to the other side, then?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never fancied any other bloke. Just Remus.”
James shrugs. ”Okay. So’re you going to make a move?”
“Cause it’s Remus! I’m not going to try to pull Remus.”
“So you’re just going to mope for the rest of your life?”
“That’s the plan. Figured I’d join you in solidarity. The moping club.”
“Hey, Evans is coming around. She’s going to fall for me.”
“Yeah, and me and Remus are going to get married and have lots of werewolf children together.”
“You won’t know unless you try.”
“Fuck off, Potter.” But he is smiling. James wraps an arm around his shoulder.
“So. D’you want to shag me?”
“What if I tried to be more like Remus? I could read more.”
“You’d have to learn how, first.”
James laughs, loud in his ear, and not for the first time Sirius thinks that he’s the luckiest person in the world, to have a best friend like James Potter.
He is fifteen and triumphant.
“We did it, Moony! We fucking did it!”
“Yes, I see that,” he says, looking in amusement at the huge stag in the middle of their dormitory. Sirius is half on top of him – he had been a dog and he had leaped on Remus, and then he had phased back, morphing back to a human boy who is still possibly in love with his best friend.
“You’ll never have to transform alone again,” he tells him, flopping down beside him. They are close in those small beds, sides pushed together, and Remus smiles at him warmly.
“I still think this was dangerously reckless,” he says, but he doesn’t really mean it, he’s just playing out his role.
“It wouldn’t have been half as fun if you didn’t.” All easy smiles and hair flips, ignoring the frantic beating of his heart and the way he wants to lean across the bed and find out how Remus tastes.
“Thank you,” he whispers, and Sirius can only smile. But this nice private moment between the two of them is ruined by James collapsing on the bed.
“That was fucking phenomenal,” he says, and Sirius knows it’s not fair to get angry, that it was the three of them who worked so hard on this, that Remus does not belong to him. But he can’t help the annoyance that bubbles in him when Peter forces his way onto the bed, as well.
Remus is smiling and pretending that he isn’t and Sirius thinks that there’s probably nothing more beautiful in this world.
He is sixteen and begging.
“I’m sorry.” He has said these words so many times that they don’t even sound real anymore. They are stale in his mouth.
“You always are.” The boy in front of him is hard. His words, his eyes; he stares at Sirius in anger and distrust and resentment, and Sirius isn’t being dramatic when he thinks that he wants to die.
“Remus…” he doesn’t deserve to say his name. Remus is looking at him in a way he definitely deserves, but it still makes his heart ache.
“Get out of here.” He is in the hospital wing. Remus is bad, tonight. Fresh wounds are all over his body, long red scratches that shout accusations at Sirius.
“I want to talk to you.”
“And I never want to talk to you again, so it appears we’re at an impasse.”
The blood freezes in his veins and his heart stops beating. “You don’t mean that.”
He had promised him, all those years ago, that he would never leave him, and later he had promised that he would never have to transform alone again. He has thrown all of Remus’ trust right back in his face. He has proven himself to be nothing more than a Black.
“I love you.” He doesn’t know where this comes from. Remus laughs in his face.
“I mean it, Remus. I… it’s been like this for so long, I don’t know what it means but I… I fancy you, I more than fancy you, I…”
Remus grabs his wand off of the side table and hexes him, and that’s the end of that conversation.
Later, after James punches him in the nose, they are sitting together by the lake. He is trying not to cry and he is failing.
“Have I fucked everything up?”
He briefly considers drowning himself.
“He was the best thing I had.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I really don’t, actually. Explain to me how you could do that to someone you claim to be in love with.”
“I don’t know,” he whispers. James snorts.
“Maybe try and figure that out.”
He is seventeen and in love.
The common room is mostly empty except for a few first years, but he doesn’t notice first years anymore. Most of the school is at Slytherin vs Ravenclaw; he stayed behind because it’s the day after the full moon and Remus still winces when he moves. He is reading against Sirius, Sirius’ fingers running through his hair. His gentle breathing calms them both.
“I love you,” Sirius mutters into his hair. Remus makes a happy noise in his throat.
“You don’t say.”
“Shut up. Prick.”
Remus laughs, a chuckle deep in his throat. Sirius pushes his lips to the top of his head.
“Are you almost done that book?”
He huffs. “Moony. No one is here. We have the dorm to ourselves. Let’s go upstairs.”
“The whole reason we’re not at the game is because I’m still stiff, but you still want to shag?”
“I’m stiff, too.”
He can almost hear him roll his eyes. “Padfoot.”
“You can just lie there. Like a dead fish.”
“You are so romantic.”
“I’ll be gentle.” Sirius nips his ear, something he knows always sends Remus over the edge. They are close enough that Sirius can hear the little moan Remus tries to suppress.
“I’d rather you weren’t,” he says, quietly, and Sirius knows he has won.
“If you insist.” Remus shifts, presses his lips against Sirius’, hand playing with the buttons on his shirt.
“Let’s go then,” he smiles, and they kiss all the way upstairs.
Sirius never wants to stop.
He is eighteen and invincible.
He is not stupid, contrary to the snide comments Lily still makes, poking fun with a smile on her face so he knows she’s just kidding. He knows it’s war, and he knows people are dying. And he is scared, yes, of course. But he is also on top of the world. He shares a flat with Remus with his Uncle Alphard’s money and they have two beds even though they only use one. Every night he goes to sleep next to Remus and every morning he wakes up with his gentle breathing in his hair. Remus smiles deeply at him and they kiss and more often than not he’s late for work.
James thinks they’re disgusting, the way they carry on, and Peter, those few times they see him, wrinkles his nose up every time Sirius waxes poetic about Remus and their life together. It is war and people are dying but that’s always a few people away from him. He knows someone who knows someone who died and he feels like he can’t be touched. Things are separate from him. Remus’ long fingers entwine with his and James is drunk and constructing poetry about Lily and Lily is showing Peter the enormous ring weighing down her finger and everything is good. Everything is awful and scary and dangerous but sometimes he can pretend that it’s not.
“You think he would have stopped this now that she’s agreed to marry him,” Remus whispers in his ear.
“Will you marry me?”
Remus makes a face. “You’re drunk.”
He is, yes, but that’s not the point, and he tells him so.
“We can’t get married, Pads. You know.” He points at his crotch, then at Sirius’. “Penis. Penis.”
“Sod that. If I buy you a ring will you wear it?”
“With what money?”
“Answer the goddamn question, Moony.”
He smiles and it lights Sirius’ insides on fire. “Buy me a ring and we’ll find out.”
He is nineteen and petrified.
Things are progressing, getting so much worse. That line that had separated him from the war has broken down, and it seems like every day he hears of the death of someone he knew personally.
Remus is gone most of the time and when he’s not Sirius is. Constant Order missions take them away from each other and it’s like every time they come back there’s more and more distance between the two of them. They see each other less and less and they trust each other less and less.
There is a traitor amid them and he wants so badly to believe that it’s not Remus but every time Sirius looks at him, he sees someone different. Resentment builds up between them; the kisses get shorter until they stop kissing altogether, and eventually they stop fucking, too, until things follow through to their natural conclusions and Sirius takes the other bed.
Remus thinks Sirius is the traitor.
He misses his body next to his. This is like sixth year all over again except so much worse and never ending. Sirius thinks he might hate him.
He is afraid of everything around him. He is afraid of losing his friends, afraid for Lily’s unborn child. He remembers her tear streaked face as she asked him if it was wrong, to bring a child into a world like this. He is afraid that Remus is betraying them and he is afraid that Remus thinks it is him. He is afraid that he will never kiss him again, afraid that he will forget what he tastes like.
He chews on his lip. “I’m glad you’re safe.” There is more he wants to say, just as there is more Sirius wants to say. I’m sorry. I miss you. I love you. It’s not me. But they both stay silent.
One day he leaves. Remus will come back to an empty house and Sirius sobs on Lily’s shoulder for two and a half hours because he can perfectly imagine the look of sadness and pain on his face and Sirius is terrified that Remus won’t feel any of that, that he’ll go on existing completely normally without him, because Remus is engraved in Sirius’ bones and he will never be the same.
He is twenty and alone.
Harry is the light of his life but every time he looks at him all Sirius can think of is that someone out there wants him dead.
He has no one, really. He will always have Lily and James, of course, but they are not his anymore. He isn’t bitter about this – Harry is more important than all of them. But Peter is gone so often and he hasn’t seen Remus since he left. He still misses him and he hates himself for it.
“You don’t know, Sirius,” Lily tells him. “It might not be Remus.”
“Have you heard from him?”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
“I mean it. Remus has always felt like he was on the outside looking in. He would feel like he was making us choose between you and him. And he thinks we will always choose you.”
“But it might be him.”
Lily sighs. “It might.”
He goes to bed every night by himself and he wakes up by himself and whenever he closes his eyes he sees him, and Sirius hates himself for still being so hung up over someone he decided to leave.
There is less and less for him to live for. He tries to focus on Harry, tries to develop tunnel vision for his godson and ignore the Remus shaped hole in his life.
He is twenty one and dead.
There is nothing left to him. Everything that made up who he was has been taken away. James and Lily are dead. Harry is an orphan, now, left all alone with no one to love him the way he deserves it, and it is Sirius’ fault. He is an empty shell; if the Dementors were to kiss him nothing would happen. There would be no difference. His body remains but the rest of him is dead.
The small part of him that can still feel registers relief that it wasn’t Remus after all.