Rating: NC-17 (This part PG)
Warnings: Sex, violence
Genres: Romance, Angst, Drama
Word count: ? (This part: 2900)
Disclaimer: Characters and world belong to J. K. Rowling. I make no profit.
Summary: What is Remus to do when he suddenly finds himself caught in the middle of two brothers' furious feud? The last thing Remus wants is to hurt anybody's feelings, but how can he possibly avoid that? And what about his own feelings? SLASH, of course!
Chapter 27 - Break Your Heart
"Do you want to sneak out and do something this weekend? Saturday I need to recuperate from the full, but what about Sunday?"
Regulus shook his head. "I can't. I have to go home."
"They want to see me."
"But why now? Easter is only a month away. Why can't they wait until then?" Remus felt very uneasy about this. Frankly, he didn't like the thought of Regulus spending time at Grimmauld Place at all - Easter holidays or not.
"I don't know, Remus," Regulus said irritably. "They just want me home, okay?"
"Do you think it's about..."
"You know... e-engagement." It hurt saying the word.
Regulus' jaw tightened and he looked stiffly ahead. "I don't know, Remus."
Remus took Regulus' hand in his. "Reg... don't... don't agree to anything. Please. I can't stand the thought - I can't - you can't..."
"Take it easy, all right?" Regulus said, forcing a smile and giving Remus' hand a squeeze. "You don't know if that's what it's about. Who says it's about anything at all? Maybe they just miss me..."
"Hello, Padfoot," Remus mumbled, not bothering to open his eyes just yet. His lids were heavy with exhaustion from the previous night's transformation.
"How do you know I'm here?" sounded a baffled Sirius. "I'm quiet as a mouse!"
Remus felt a small smile pulling at his lips. "I always know when you're there. I can feel you watching me."
"The hell you can!" Sirius laughed and gave Remus a nudge.
Remus yawned and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. "How long have I slept?"
Sirius checked his watch. "Well, it's almost six o'clock, so most of the day. Are you coming down for dinner?"
"No, I need a few more hours. Then I'll go straight to the dorm."
Sirius nodded and helped Remus sit up, propping him up on a couple of pillows. Then he said, in a way no doubt supposed to come across as nonchalant, "How are you avoiding Reggie this time?"
"I'm not avoiding him. He's home for the weekend."
"Oh," said Sirius, a smile spreading on his face. "That's good. I mean, not because I'm glad he's out of the way or anything - well actually I am - but -"
"What are you trying to say?" Remus interrupted.
"Just that it's good timing, is all. This way he won't notice you've been ill again."
"That's not an issue anymore. He knows."
Sirius looked blank for a second. Then all blood appeared to drain from his face.
"He knows? Do you mean - are you saying that he knows you're a -"
"Yes," Remus said quietly. He hadn't told his friend until now, mainly because they had silently agreed that it was best just not to discuss Regulus. Because when they did, they nearly always ended up quarrelling.
"Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!" Sirius cursed, pulling at his hair. "How can you be so calm about it? What's going to happen now? How did he find out?"
"I told him."
Sirius jumped up from his chair. "You - WHAT? Are you bloody insane, Moony?"
"I felt I owed him the truth. And I'm calm about it because he's not going to tell anyone. He's fine with it."
"Are you taking the piss? because it's not funny, Moony!"
"I'm not joking. He really is okay with it."
"And you truly believe that?"
"Yes, I do. Why is that so hard to understand?"
"Because - because it's Regulus! He - he's..."
"Well, to tell the truth, he did freak out at first," Remus explained. "But he came to terms with it. Lily had a talk with him and the next day he came back to me."
Sirius stood there staring into thin air for a long moment. Remus could almost see the cogs and wheels turning in his head. "I don't get it... It's... I mean... he..." Sirius mumbled to himself. "Remus - you have to understand that the Regulus I know would never ever react like that."
"You're probably right," said Remus calmly. "But he's changed a lot this year. I'm sure that if he'd found out about it early in our relationship he would have reacted the way you think. But by the time I told him he had got to know me, and he's not as narrow-minded as he used to be. He's really come a long way, Sirius. You would see that for yourself if the two of you could stand being in the same room together. Godric, I wish you tossers weren't so stubborn," he added, mostly to himself.
Sirius flopped down on the chair, burying his face in his hands. "I don't know what to think, Moony. I just..." He looked up again. "What if he's just playing you along? What if he... he's got a hold on you now. What if he's just waiting for the right moment to expose you?"
Remus sighed. "Look. I appreciate that you're worried about me. But I promise you that's it's all right. What is 'the right moment', anyway?"
"I dunno. I just don't..."
"You just don't trust him. I know," said Remus, sending Sirius a little smile. "But I have it sorted, all right? You can stop worrying, Padfoot."
Even if it was a little annoying, it was also sort of endearing that Sirius cared so much for his safety. Remus looked at him fondly. Then smiled again.
"It's nice to have you back, you know. Around the full. I hated waking up in the Shack alone... And I bet Moony missed Padfoot too."
Sirius grinned. "Yeah, he did. We had a blast last night! I've missed it too you know; it's good to have things back to normal."
"Well," said Remus. "Where's my usual backrub, then?" It was one of the things Sirius always did, part of their post-full-routine.
Sirius looked a little surprised. "You - you want one?"
"Yeah, of course!"
"Right then. Uh - lean forward."
Remus did, and Sirius sat sideways on the bed behind him. Sirius carefully slipped the nightshirt over his head and touched his back a bit hesitantly.
"Come on, Padfoot," whined Remus, wriggling his shoulder to get Sirius to rub harder.
"Patience, love," laughed Sirius. "Merlin, you're so high maintenance!"
"Just get on with it will you?"
"I spoil you way too much," said Sirius as he began kneading Remus' neck and shoulders.
Sirius really did have talented hands. His massages always made Remus' sore back loosen up and feel much better. More than any of Madam Pomfrey's potions could.
“Oh, that’s heavenly, Padfoot," Remus groaned, leaning back. "Yes - right there! A bit harder…”
Sirius suddenly stopped and pulled back. “Fuck, Remus, I just remembered I promised to help Peter with his Transfiguration essay…”
“Why are being so weird about touching me? Is it because I have a boyfriend?"
“No, it’s because I’m desperately in love with you.”
It was clearly meant as a joke, but there was something in Sirius' voice that made Remus stop and think. He turned around and looked at him. "You're kidding right?"
"Of course I am, you twit!" laughed Sirius and gave Remus' nose a playful flick. But his eyes told a different story.
It was as if something clicked in Remus' head. The way Sirius would always look at him, how protective he was, how caring and affectionate he was. More so than with the other Marauders - even James who was his best friend. How he punched James but could not bring himself to lay a finger on Remus when he had caught him with Regulus. What if Remus had just become friends with Regulus? Would Sirius have reacted as strongly? Remus didn't think so.
He fixed Sirius with his gaze. "Padfoot... you're not joking, are you?"
The smile on Sirius' face disappeared and he looked away.
"All right, maybe I'm not," he mumbled.
"Oh God, you really are in love with me!" gasped Remus, still having trouble wrapping his head around this new revelation. "B-but why? How?"
"How could I not? You're wonderful! Even my stupid brother can see that."
"When? When did you...?"
"A couple of years ago, I guess. Maybe longer."
Remus drew his legs to his chest and rested his forehead on his knees. The thoughts were whirling in his head. He hadn't seen this one coming at all. Suddenly he let out a laugh. He looked up to find Sirius staring back at him, his expression confused.
"What's so funny?"
"Bloody hell, Padfoot," Remus groaned. "If only you had told me this last year..."
"Well, I had a huge crush on you!"
"WHAT?" exclaimed Sirius, his eyes looking like they were about to pop out of their sockets. "Are you telling me that you - that we could have been together now if only -"
"Well, why the fuck didn't you tell me?" Sirius nearly shouted.
"I didn't think you were interested."
"You could have asked!"
"I didn't want to risk ruining our friendship."
Sirius spluttered. "Oh - you didn't want to risk our friendship? And you didn't think shagging my brother would? That's a good one, Remus!"
Remus didn't know what to say. Sirius had a point.
"Well?" demanded Sirius.
"Why didn't you do something about it if you really had a crush on me?"
"You didn't do anything either!" Remus shot back, feeling a little bit childish.
"I was sure you were straight! You'd never given us a reason to believe otherwise. But you knew that I swing both ways! You knew it was an option!"
Remus had to admit that he had another point. "I don't know. I didn't have the guts to do it. I mean you're - you could have anyone you want!"
"Well, obviously not," Sirius commented drily.
Remus looked down at his hands, not knowing what more to say.
"So - so that's why you went after Reggie?" said Sirius, after a long pause. "Because you thought you couldn't have me?"
"No! It's not like that at all. I was over you before that."
Sirius shot him a sceptical look. "So it wasn't at all because he looks so much like me?"
"It's funny how you always deny that resemblance..."
"Oh, who am I kidding?" Sirius said irritably, giving a wave of his hand.
"Besides, it's not about the looks. It wasn't with you and it isn't with him. And, you know, personality-wise you aren't exactly similar."
Sirius suddenly grabbed Remus by the wrists, leaned forward, and stared intensely at him. "Moony... I... give me a chance! You had feelings for me - you can again!"
"Padfoot -" Remus started, trying to pull himself free, but Sirius just tightened his grip.
"No, Remus, please - let me finish. He can't possibly love you as much as I do. I'd do anything for you. I'd treat you like a prince."
"Stop it. I'm not a bloody girl, you know."
"I said 'prince' not 'princess'."
"You know what I mean."
"I'd love you fiercely. I'd support you, take care of you when you're ill, protect you from ignorant and prejudiced people, make you feel safe. I'd be there for you always, I'd be strong when you're not, I'd be your rock. Reggie - he can't give you all that. Even if he wanted to. He's too young and weak and insecure."
Sirius was right, Remus realised. This was exactly the kind of boyfriend he would be. And Regulus - well, Regulus had so many problems and issues. In their relationship he was the one who needed taking care of. And Remus was more than happy to do that. It seemed that he was the only one who truly loved Regulus and looked out for his best interests.
And it made Remus feel really good. It felt good to be needed like this, to be looked to for guidance, to have someone craving his love so desperately. It felt good to have the power to make such a difference in someone else's life. Did that make him selfish? Maybe so. But what was wrong with that? He could afford it.
He knew what it was like to feel lonely and weak. To have no self-esteem. Sirius, Peter, and James had been there for him. They had cared and liked him regardless of what he was. They had given him self-confidence and strength to stand up for himself. He had so much to be grateful for, but it also made him feel in their debt. It felt good to have the chance to do this for somebody else. To be able to give something back.
"Sirius, I know you would. But I can take care of myself. Besides, you already give me all of these things. You're the best friend anyone could have. I treasure that very much, I hope you know that. And I'd do almost anything for you as well."
"Almost?" Sirius said, hurt evident in his voice.
"I can't give up Regulus. That's the only thing I can't do for you. But I'll always be there for you as a friend."
Sirius let Remus' wrists slip out of his grip and hung his head, looking so defeated that it clawed at Remus' heart.
He took a gentle hold of the other boy's shoulders. "Sirius. Please don't feel rejected. A real friend is just as important as a lover. It's just in a different way. I care for you just as much as I do for him. If he asked me to give you up, I wouldn't do that either. It goes both ways."
"He hasn't?" Sirius said, raising his head. His beautiful grey eyes were filled with unshed tears.
"No. Because he knows that I'd never do it. Padfoot, please don't start crying. I can't bear it."
"I'm not!" said Sirius and furiously wiped his eyes with his sleeve.
Remus was angry with himself. He should never have told Sirius that he had had a crush on him. It only served to make him even more upset and bitter about what could have been. Plus it gave him false hope.
"Moony - please reconsider. Not just for my sake. I can't stand the thought of you getting hurt. Listen to me: He's going to break your heart. One way or another."
Regulus was nowhere to be seen in the Great Hall for dinner Sunday night. Remus was a little surprised that he hadn't come back yet. It was a school day tomorrow after all.
It turned out that Regulus had already come back. He caught Remus as he made his way back to his House. He peeked out from behind a pillar and waved Remus over. Making sure that no one saw them they retreated into the nearest classroom.
As soon as the door closed behind them Regulus enveloped Remus in a tight embrace. He clung to him, digging his fingers into his back.
"Take it easy. It's only been two days!"
Regulus pulled back, looking at him. "Didn't you miss me?"
"Of course I missed you," said Remus and gave him a peck on the nose. Then he noticed how pale the other boy was and the dark circles under his eyes. "You don't look well. Are you coming down with something?" He felt his cheeks and forehead but didn't find a temperature.
"No, I'm fine. Just tired. It's been a long weekend."
"All right," Remus said, nodding. "So, how was your visit?" He asked, trying not to sound as anxious as he felt.
Regulus shrugged. "It was fine. Nothing special."
"They didn't have anything important to say?"
"No," said Regulus, avoiding eye contact.
"Really?" Remus asked, fixing him with his gaze.
After a few seconds Regulus sighed. "No, that's not true. They... they did want something."
"What?" said Remus, feeling his pulse quicken.
"You're going to hate them."
As if I don't already, Remus thought bitterly.
"You're going to hate me..." Regulus continued, looking even more off-colour.
"You? What are you talking about? I could never hate you!" He took both of Regulus' hands in his and squeezed them. "Why are you saying that? What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything," Regulus said quietly, looking down at his shoes.
"What is it then? Tell me!" Remus was getting really nervous now.
"They've set a date."
"W-what kind of date?"
"Date as in 'a specific day of a specific month'."
Remus felt sweat break out on his forehead and his stomach contract. It was just as he had feared. He just hadn't been prepared to deal with it so soon.
"A-and you didn't say anything? You're just going to let them marry you off to some -"
Regulus lifted his gaze from the floor, looking a little surprised. "No," he said. "That's not it. They've set a date for me to take the Dark Mark."