Rating: NC-17 (This part PG-13)
Warnings: Sex, violence
Genres: Romance, Angst, Drama
Word count: ? (This part: 2100)
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 33 – Nightmares and Surprises
Sirius was on cloud nine. He had finally got what he had wanted so desperately and for so long. How many times had he wished he could just wrap his arms around Remus, pull him close, and snog the life out of him? And now he could, whenever he wanted. Remus was everything he’d dreamed of and more. His kisses were so sweet and urgent they made Sirius dizzy.
They hadn’t gone further than cuddling and kissing. Remus said he wasn’t ready yet and Sirius respected that. He told Remus not to feel pressured, that he was prepared to wait as long as it took. It was okay. Right now, it was more than enough for Sirius to hold Remus close; slip eager hands under a threadbare jumper and caress the warm skin beneath; bury his nose in Remus’ neck inhaling his scent; and kiss him deeply, tasting every inch of his mouth. Sirius would drink it all in and be sated.
He knew that Remus was still heartbroken. He wasn’t stupid. But it would get better – Sirius would help him get over it quickly. He could offer Remus a lot more than Regulus could anyway, he’d always known that. And Remus would realise it soon as well, if he hadn’t already.
Yes, it would take a little time for Remus to adjust to being with him instead of Regulus. A change of routine. For instance he had an annoying habit of constantly brushing his hand over Sirius’ forehead, as if smoothing away his fringe. It was just that Sirius’ fringe was so long that it fell nicely on either side on his face; it didn’t fall into his eyes. He didn’t think Remus realised what he was doing, so Sirius pretended not to notice. It was just a stupid habit anyway. It didn’t mean anything.
Easter Monday – the day set for Regulus to take the mark – was horrible. They spent most of the day and all night in bed with the curtains drawn, Sirius trying to comfort an inconsolable Remus. He had clung to Sirius, shaking and moaning, showing no sign of registering Sirius’ murmured words of solace or the hands rubbing his back and stroking his hair.
Sirius hadn’t known it was possible to cry that much in just one day. It was especially unnerving because he had rarely seen Remus cry. When they had confronted him with the fact that they had figured out he was a werewolf, he had cried. He had been so scared they would turn their back on him. And when they had told him they were training to become Animagi he had cried, this time from happiness. Sirius couldn’t remember any other episodes – except for the last couple of weeks where he had cried so much over that stupid idiot. Sirius would never forgive him for causing Remus all this pain.
Sirius had shed a few tears as well, mostly because it hurt seeing Remus this distressed, but also just a bit for the little boy he had once known and loved, now gone for good.
That night, after Remus had finally worn himself out and dozed off, Sirius was suddenly torn from his sleep by a bloodcurdling scream. Remus was thrashing wildly in the bed, drenched in sweat and getting tangled up in the sheets. Sirius had to shake him hard to wake him, and even then Remus didn’t stop crying and shaking violently.
It was so bad that James had slipped through the curtains and asked if there was anything he could do. Sirius had hugged Remus close to his chest and said he had it sorted. He was, after all, used to handling Remus after nightmares by now. He was having them almost every night, although this was the worst one yet. Like all the other times, Remus refused to talk about it, so all Sirius could do was console and calm him.
“Okay, Prongs,” Sirius said, letting the lid of his trunk slam shut. “What’s with the disapproving glances?”
“The ones you keep sending me and Remus.”
“I don’t,” James muttered.
“Come on, mate – I’m not blind.”
James ignored Sirius, concentrating on trimming the tail of his broom.
“You think I’m taking advantage of Moony, don’t you?” Sirius said after a minute’s silence.
It wasn’t like the thought that he might be exploiting Remus’ vulnerability hadn’t occurred to Sirius. Of course it had, and of course he was feeling a bit guilty about it. But Remus had started it. He needed Sirius and Sirius was there for him. Was that a crime?
James sighed and put down the scissors. “I think you’re taking advantage of each other.”
“How is Moony taking advantage of me?” asked Sirius, surprised.
“Isn’t that obvious?” James said, eyebrows raised.
“No, please enlighten me.”
“Honestly, Sirius, I thought you just said you weren’t blind. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately?”
“Yes, Potter, I do that on a daily basis. What’s your point?”
James looked intently at Sirius, then shook his head. “Fine. Live in denial if that’s what you want. It’s none of my business anyway.”
Regulus stood in front of the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, taking a deep breath to steady his nerves. What did you do to get the attention of someone in there when you didn’t know the password – knock on the painting? No, that was an idiotic idea.
“Hello, Luv – far from home, aren’t you?” the rather obese lady on the canvas chirped, smiling and winking at him.
“Um… yeah,” answered Regulus, a little perplexed. “I need to speak to someone in there.”
The lady sighed. “Sorry, Luv. Can’t let you in without the password. You will have to wait until someone comes along.”
“Okay,” Regulus mumbled and leaned back against the wall, arming himself with patience.
He didn’t have to wait long, though, before a small chubby kid came around the corner. Regulus pushed himself off the wall and stepped towards the younger student.
“Could you go in there and get someone for me? I need to speak with my brother. Sirius.”
The boy looked him up and down with an inquisitive gaze. “You’re Regulus Black,” he concluded.
“Thank you for that information,” Regulus said, his voice laced with sarcasm. “I have a distressing habit of forgetting who I am. Now, go get him.”
Waiting, Regulus readied himself to meet Sirius with a calm façade. Sirius, who was now Remus’ boyfriend.
He had been devastated, of course, when he heard it. It had been the one thing keeping his spirits up, coming back exhausted and broken: the hope that Remus would still be there, eager to take him back.
His first reaction, once the shock had settled, was to get angry. How could Remus do this to him? Didn’t he realise how much going out with his brother would hurt him? Or did he realise, and this was some kind of revenge? In his heart, of course, Regulus knew that Remus would never do something like that. Sweet, kind Remus who didn’t have a malicious bone in his body. He would never knowingly hurt anyone – not even those who deserved it. And the more Regulus thought about it, the more he realised that he probably did deserve it. It was he who had broken Remus’ heart; he who had rejected him.
His thoughts were abruptly cut short when his brother emerged from behind the portrait, grabbed him hard by the upper arm, and dragged him off to the side.
“Let GO!” Regulus yelled, trying to dig in his heels.
“Come here – I don’t want to be seen with you!”
Sirius dragged Regulus along until they reached an alcove. He let go and gave Regulus a harsh push further into it.
“What do you want?” he growled through clenched teeth.
Regulus returned the glare, rubbing his arm where Sirius’ fingers had dug themselves into his skin. “You utter prick!” he snarled. “Do you think I’d look you up if it wasn’t important? It’s not like I enjoy your company!”
“Well, what is it?”
“It’s about Remus.”
Sirius’ eyes narrowed dangerously. “You stay away from him! You’ve done enough damage.”
“I asked for you, not him, didn’t I?”
Sirius crossed his arms and looked at Regulus impatiently, his face still twisted in loathing.
“I… um…” Regulus swallowed. Suddenly it was difficult to speak. “I didn’t do it.”
“I didn’t take the mark.”
Sirius’ expression didn’t change. It had frozen on his face. Regulus was starting to think that he wasn’t going to get a reaction at all, when Sirius’ hostile look disappeared. His jaw went slack and his eyes wide in disbelief.
“Y-you didn’t take it?” he said, looking stupid.
“Are you deaf?”
“So… you’re not going to join?”
“But that’s – Reggie, that’s fantastic!” Sirius exclaimed and stepped towards Regulus, his arms stretched out.
To his dismay, Regulus realised that he was about to be embraced by his brother. He backed away, giving Sirius the coldest gaze he could muster.
“Spare me the fake enthusiasm,” he spat.
Sirius stopped in his tracks, his face a strange mix of emotions Regulus couldn’t quite make out.
“Why did you - what happened? How did Mum and Dad react?“
“It’s none of your business.”
“My affairs no longer concern you,” Regulus snapped. “I’ve told you before. But of course you don’t give a toss - you don’t respect anybody’s wishes unless they match your own.”
Sirius’ expression again turned into one of anger. Good. Regulus much preferred that to the falseness.
“About Remus –“ Regulus started.
“What about him? Do you assume you can just waltz in and take him back? After what you did to him?”
“I don’t assume anything.” Regulus felt his heart beat faster and harder. God, was he nervous. He almost didn’t dare ask the question he had come to ask.
“I heard you and Remus have hooked up…”
“You heard right.”
“So – how is he?”
“Fine. He’s been devastated, but I’ve been there for him. Helped him get over you. He’s doing a lot better now. We’re really good together, you know.”
Regulus felt like a bucket of ice-cold water had been thrown in his face. But he couldn’t let Sirius see how he felt so he kept a straight face. He nodded slowly. “Oh, okay. Just wanted to check.”
They stood there a moment, silently watching each other. He should be going. There was nothing more to be said here.
“And you’re… you’re sure he’s over me?” Regulus asked, a tiny piece of hope still clinging on to him. He caught Sirius’ gaze and held it.
“Yes, he’s over you,” Sirius said after a couple of seconds.
Regulus couldn’t tell if he was lying. But why would he? If Remus wasn’t over him, why would he be with Sirius? It hurt tremendously thinking about how easily he had been replaced. From what he had heard, it had happened only a week after the breakup. A week. Regulus couldn’t imagine himself wanting to be with anybody other than Remus. He couldn’t imagine ever loving someone else. In fact, he was certain he never would. Regulus loved Remus completely; it would seem that Remus hadn’t felt the same way. And with that realisation he felt something inside him curl up and die.
“Do you want me to tell him?”
“Tell him what?”
“That you didn’t take the mark, of course.”
“No. I don’t want him to know.”
“There’s no reason to reopen the wound. If he’s moving on and getting better I don’t want to bother him.”
Sirius looked at him sceptically.
“I just wanted to check that he’s alright,” continued Regulus. “Promise me you won’t tell him.”
“Alright,” Sirius nodded. “I promise.”
“Well then. I better -”
“Regulus - are you… are you in trouble? Because of what you did?” Sirius suddenly asked.
He looked genuinely worried, but Regulus knew better.
“I told you it’s none of your business!” he said heatedly and glowered at his brother for ten whole seconds, daring him to ask again. Then he said, “We’re done here,” and turned to walk away.
Regulus heard Sirius step up behind him and felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around, indignantly shaking the hand off.
“Don’t touch me!”
“Do you need help? I could -”
“I don’t need anything from you! Not now, not ever! I want you to stay away from me. Just pretend I don’t exist – I know you’re really good at that.”
And with that he spun on his heal and marched off, eager to get away from prying eyes, to somewhere he could fall apart in peace.