sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 11:20 am

All The World; R, RL/SB

Rating: R (Remus/Sirius)
Author's Notes: Thanks as always to the betagangs on LJ and YM.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.

***

He knows how little room there is in there
For crude and futile animosities,
And how much for the joy of being whole...
-- Edward Arlington Robinson
In the picture, they stand very still.

They hardly move at all, hardly have for oh, more years than Remus cares to think about. In most of the pictures he has of his friends from school, they're roughhousing, or running in and out of the frame, or playing small tricks on each other -- usually Sirius is at the worst of it.

Remus' hand drifts over the picture. It's not as though they're solemn; they're happy, really, smiling and looking quite pleased with themselves. There's Sirius, facing left, and Remus and James, facing right; Peter took the picture, you can see just a little of his thumb in one corner. But they turn their heads to look at him, across the years.

It was their graduation. They were so proud and tall, the three of them, off to have wonderful adventures in the real world outside the school. Sirius was going to work his way across Europe for a year or two before settling down to something-or-other. James was moving in with Lily. Remus was going to work for the Ministry, in the Magical Welfare department, helping find homes for children who were...well, like him. Peter was going to be a journalist for the Prophet. You could see them tasting their future, in the picture.

Maybe that was why they never moved. Their future hadn't come about, had it?

He isn't sure why he brought the photo with him, when he left England after abandoning his teaching position at Hogwarts -- after Severus Snape's cruel "accidental" annoucement that Remus was a werewolf. Perhaps because he'd been to see James' son, and found him good; perhaps because he'd seen and spoken with Sirius, and found that to be good, too, though hard. Very hard. A decade of hatred for the man he thought killed James is not something that one lets go of easily.

Sometimes -- only three or four times in many, many years -- he has see Sirius slip his arm around his own waist, in the photograph, and James lean his head on his shoulder. It's never something any of them would have actually done in public, certainly not in front of Peter. And even Sirius' casual embrace, that was not a thing he would ever show to James.

James had always been an affectionate one, was a great man for touching a shoulder, grasping a hand -- very macho, of course, James was a Man's Man and a Quidditch player and all the rest -- but there was no doubt that anyone seeing James rest his head on Remus' shoulder would think it quite natural.

All boys experiment. It is a fact of life. Remus knows this to be true, had been relieved to discover it. James' affections, in his fifth year, were nothing but that. James broke his heart because he was testing the water, and found he didn't like it. James taught him about sex and then decided he liked girls. Lily Evans in particular.

But broken hearts, when one is sixteen, are soon healed. That little incline of the head, to rest his jaw on Remus' shoulder, that's all that remains of James the heartbreaker.

And oh, in seventh year, Sirius so afraid and so full of wonder at what Remus knew. Sirius, the bold, loud one, confiding in the dark that he felt things he didn't understand, speaking in soft whispers, their heads bent over a book in the library. What do I do, Remus? Should I tell? Do you think it's wrong? Everyone seems to.

No, Sirius. It was never wrong. No, no, no, it was never wrong, you were never wrong. How could you be? You were so innocent, when I touched you. And it was so long ago. And by the time we'd graduated, that arm around my waist was the most natural thing in the world.

"Moony?"

Another whisper, and Remus, sitting at the desk in the hotel room -- he deserved this holiday, even if he couldn't really afford it -- glances up at the balcony. It's a ground-floor room, the balcony barely four feet above the lush garden outside the glass doors. He's had them open, so that the smell of the night air covers the scent of a carpet vacuumed too many times, a bed too many other people have slept in.

His nostrils twitch. A shadow leaning on the rail.

"Who's there?" he calls.

The shadow flicks a slip of parchment across the room, and Remus catches it. A letter from Dumbledore, informing Sirius Black of the hotel address and room number of one Remus Lupin, who thought he was cleverly hiding himself away.

"He recommended this island," Remus said slowly. He can't see the face in the shadows, but he knows that Sirius is smiling.

"You looked so peaceful," Sirius says, still leaning on the balcony railing. "I didn't want to disturb you."

"Will you come in?" Remus asks.

"Do you want me to?"

"More than anything," says the brown-haired man, and he stands and moves to the doorway, framed in the starlight. Sirius still looks weak, though he's cut his hair, and gained a few pounds. His hand shakes when he touches Remus' jaw. Remus takes it, guides Sirius inside. They stand, just inside the doorway, foreheads nearly touching. Just like in the picture. Only now there is no James or Peter, and they are looking at each other, not out at some unseen observer.

"Years and years," Sirius says quietly. "How you must -- "

" -- love you," Remus answers, over top of the less affectionate word Sirius was going to say. "And I did nothing -- nothing at all to help you..."

"The more you beat me, I will fawn on you: use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me..." Sirius says. Remus laughs, though it sounds far more like a sob.

"When did you learn Shakespeare?" he asks.

"I stole it from your bookshelf ages ago," answers the thin man, so thin -- neither of them in very good condition, thinks Remus, but that hardly matters. Hardly matters at all. "It's difficult -- I didn't think -- you're hardly real anymore..."

"I am real," Remus wants to weep, but how can he? The boy he loved a decade past is standing in front of him, not a traitor, not a murderer -- what right does he have to cry?

Fingers rub his cheeks, wiping away his tears.

"Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave, unworthy as I am, to follow you," Sirius says, and then there are lips where his fingers were, arms encircling him, familiar and warm and just as solid as anything.

Rough patched cotton falls to the floor, and Remus' not-quite-as-ragged linen shirt, and there are fingers to twine in his and legs sliding along his thighs and oh, he taught Sirius how to do that...

He smiles a little. On the other hand, Sirius invented that quite on his own.

It is not the explosive, violent, aggressive mess that they had as boys. They are both weary men, both frightened for their own fragile sanity, neither one quite wanting to break. There are years and different lives in-between, but when were they not different? A prison of one's own choosing or a prison made by someone else, it doesn't matter too much.

So they are slow, and careful, and touch more than they might, and make very little sound, and the night air smooths the places inbetween them -- and Remus, feeling Sirius' face pressed tightly into his shoulder, reaches calmly out, and turns the photograph frame so that it lies flat, so that the years between those boys and these men is nothing, nothing at all. So that when Sirius' body clenches against his, when Remus cries out once, there is no world outside, only this singular moment and a reunion too long in the coming.

And when it is done, and when they have lain together and whispered to each other, Remus drifts to sleep, still and somehow smaller than before. He has that habit, which endeared him to Sirius the first time he saw it-- when he sleeps one hand lies over his face, covering it like a child afraid of monsters, protecting him from the world.

Sirius draws up the blanket, and places a kiss in the hollow of his throat, and rests his head against Remus', so that their faces do look out on the garden together. His arm stretches out and he lifts the photograph, stares into his own young eyes, rubs his thumb over the glass that presses them in place. He has changed so much, and Remus hardly at all, except for a few lines here and there. And James will never change again, but he won't think on that. He lets his arm drop across Remus, who sighs and mumbles something in his sleep.

"For you in my respect are all the world," he says softly, and Remus is not awake to wipe his own tears away. "Then how can it be said I am alone, when all the world is here to look on me?"

END

grr

[identity profile] autumn-fawn.livejournal.com 2005-10-27 04:24 am (UTC)(link)
I hate you for making me cry :'( (just so you know, i still love your work)

*tear*

[identity profile] jazmin-firewing.livejournal.com 2005-12-07 02:16 am (UTC)(link)
Awwwww! So sad!

[identity profile] maddy-harrigan.livejournal.com 2006-03-08 04:26 pm (UTC)(link)
You should NOT be ALLOWED to TOY with my EMOTIONS like this.

It isn't FAIR.

[identity profile] shinzuku.livejournal.com 2007-09-12 11:35 pm (UTC)(link)
("Years and years," Sirius says quietly. "How you must -- "

" -- love you," Remus answers, over top of the less affectionate word Sirius was going to say. "And I did nothing -- nothing at all to help you...")

I like that part.

(Anonymous) 2008-08-23 06:00 pm (UTC)(link)
beautiful.
:]
and i love midsummer's. it's a fabulous play, and your use of it here is lovely.
your stories make me smile. :]

once again...

[identity profile] tvfiend.livejournal.com 2011-08-26 05:06 am (UTC)(link)
it hurts sooooo good!

you're really amazingly good at making me cry!

(Anonymous) 2012-06-21 04:31 am (UTC)(link)
This is stunning. This is why I love fanfiction: there are moments that we can explore that made the original characters who they are, and even if the relationship isn't necessarily canon, the place where these two men are is. They are war-weary, too thin, frightened for their own fragile sanity; they are living in a world that might end tomorrow. You have captured this moment beautifully.