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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 12:40 pm

The Fifth Drink

Rating: PG-13 (Remus/Sirius, Remus/Moody)
Summary: Moody understands why Remus drinks.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.

***

The thing about drinking to excess was, you had to pick your drink.

Remus Lupin had put a lot of thought into this. Scotch was a drink with some amount of class to it, like brandy. It was a decent thing to drink alone. You couldn't drink wine alone, wine was a romantic drink. Beer was a drink for when you were actually happy about something. Whiskey was dangerous.

If you drank something with some amount of class to it, you didn't feel quite so...

Foolish?

Desperate?

He tipped the glass back and let the alcohol slide down his throat.

He'd heard the old sayings that you could drink to forget, but it wasn't so; when he was sober he didn't remember the fight, didn't remember holding Harry back from the arch, didn't remember calming the hysterical young man. He wanted to remember that; wanted desperately to see Sirius' last minutes over again, groping every time for something...more. Wanting to be that calm again, wanting that terrible calm that had settled over him.

He never quite reached it, but he kept trying. He had more sense than to drink at Order functions, or around the others; he drank alone, in his rooms, or if no-one was about, in the sitting room -- where he was now -- or the library. He didn't shout or break things. He just got very quietly drunk. And tried to remember. And sometimes he at least got the memory back.

He set the glass down and refilled it, watching his hand carefully. He knew he wasn't entirely steady after the third glass. He'd very carefully charted this out, studious in his addictions as in all other things. He knew how to pace the drinking. Knew that after the third glass he was unsteady, and his words weren't quite clear, and that after the fifth glass he'd have trouble walking. Which was fine -- by then he didn't need to, because that was when the memories finally came.

He held number four up to the light of the candles in the wall bracket, studying the colour of it.

Six weeks since Sirius had died. And not one bloody thing he could do about it. At least on the full-moon nights the howling emptiness was filled a little. The animal didn't take him anymore, not the way it used to before Wolfsbane potion (another addiction, but one that the world happily approved of). It did, however, take just enough so that the hurt went away.

He didn't even bother with recrimination or guilt. Didn't bother to wonder whether if he'd been there sooner he could have helped Sirius. There wasn't room in the pain for that. There was just the pain and the aching sobriety that robbed him of his even, calm acceptance.

Glass number four. Slightly maudlin. Par for the course.

He sipped it, tasted the cheap scotch, let it burn its way down.

"Do yourself a mischief, drinking that way," a voice said. Remus set the glass down, and leaned forward.

"One might say the same about spying on werewolves," he said, to the general air. Mad-Eye Moody stumped through the kitchen doorway, standing there like a friendly gargoyle.

"Sees through walls," he said, tapping his temple, and Remus realised somewhat muzzily that he meant the eye. "You can put it away neat, all right."

"I've had practice," Remus said, before he could stop himself. Moody's expression didn't change. After a moment, Remus made a disgusted noise -- at himself or the unblinking stare of the electric blue eye, he wasn't sure -- and stood, walking to the window that looked out onto the street.

He took the glass with him.

"What you want is occupation," Moody said, and Remus heard the claw-foot leg clack against the wooden floor.

"If Dumbledore'd give me any," he answered bitterly.

"Take your mind off Black."

"My mind's been on Black for twenty years, give or take."

"If you'd been drinking like that for twenty years, you'd be dead, werewolf or not."

"Let off it already, Moody," Remus said irritably. "It's not your business if it doesn't interfere with the Order."

He threw back the fourth glass and swallowed, shuddering a little at the sudden warm shock in his mouth.

"And if it starts to interfere?" Moody asked quietly.

"It won't."

"Spoken like a true drinker."

The words sparked something in him and he lost control for a brief moment; the glass shattered against the wall, slightly to the left of Moody's head. The older man didn't flinch.

"Feel better now?" he asked.

"No," Remus answered. He moved forward, peering at the wall. There were small shards of glass embedded in it, and a scattering of transluscent pieces, like sharpened ice, on the floor. He reached for his wand to clean it up --

"Elementary wand safety," Moody said, hand darting out to grip his knuckles. "Don't drink and spell."

Remus met his eyes, but Moody had magic on his side, not to mention sobriety. After a while, he relaxed his hand, and his wand fell to the floor.

"You do it, then," he said, looking away. Moody muttered a few words, and there was a crackling noise as the glass began to vanish. Soon all that was left was a damp stain on the wall, and a few pocked holes where broken glass had stuck.

"So tell me," Moody said, conversationally, bending to pick up the wand. "Which is it? Is it losin' him? Is it the knowing that if you'd been there faster you might've done something? Is it the sight of him falling through that -- "

"Stop it!"

Moody tilted his head. "Then tell me which it is."

Remus walked to the table, slowly. He could feel the fourth drink; one more and all the questions in the world wouldn't matter.

"I don't remember," he said softly. "When I reach for it, it isn't there. The fight, the way he died. Harry hates me for keeping him from following and I don't even remember doing it."

Moody's blue eyes was impassive, but his own, smaller, dark eye gleamed with sympathy.

"And I think back and there are so many gaps, things I can't recall. I don't remember what his eyes looked like. Before Azkaban. I spent every day looking at him and I can't remember how he kept his hair, what he wore." He snorted. "I'm sure it was atrocious, given the times, but I want to see it again." He poured the fifth glass. "This helps."

"Most folks drink in order not to remember."

"Yes, well, I think we've established that I am not most folks," Remus replied. He sipped, coughed a little, sipped again. Felt the first little inklings of memory trickling back into his mind. "God, I can't remember how it felt to -- "

He looked up, sharply. It wasn't a secret that Remus Lupin and Sirius Black had shared a bed, in the house at 12 Grimmauld Place. But it wasn't something you talked about with anyone who came along, either. Remus set the glass down abruptly. He found himself moving through the room, as though it were a cage; Moody's stillness seemed to rub his nerves raw.

"Do you suppose you're the only fellow ever lost a love?" Moody asked. Remus stopped, and turned to look at him. "The first time round, before the Order even existed...he got mine."

"I'm sorry," Remus mumbled. He picked up the glass again, drank from it. Paused. Held it out to the older man, who accepted it as if it were a benediction, and drank. Just a sip. Blue eye never leaving Remus' face.

"What you want is occupation," Moody said, handing him back his drink. "Occupation and company. Keep you from brooding."

Remus shook his head, and went to raise the glass to his lips. Moody's hand on his, one finger touching the rim of the glass, stopped him.

"You don't need to remember," he rumbled, his voice rough. "Take it from me."

"I want to see his face again."

"You won't find it in cheap scotch."

"Would I be drinking it if I didn't?"

Moody regarded him. "Would you?"

Remus felt his chest sieze up, his breath shorten. "Every time I think, this time it's in my mind, this time when I wake up tomorrow I'll remember and I never do, and I wonder if it's just a delusion and I'm too drunk to know the difference..."

Moody pressed, gently, forcing him to lower the glass until it rested on the table once more. His other hand gripped Remus' neck, and the younger man bowed his head, miserably.

"Before at least I had hate, at least I didn't want to see him so badly. I thought he was a traitor. Now there's just a hole in my life, a Sirius-shaped hole that eats everything around me until that's all there is, this giant, looming hole," he said, the words spilling out of him. "And at least when I drink the hole looks like him, it has his face. I miss his face, Moody."

"I know, lad," Moody said, hand still on the back of his neck. Remus rested his forehead against the shorter man's, exhausted and unsteady. The room tilted and swayed dangerously. The drinks were catching up to him.

Moody's fingers drifted up through the short hair at the back of his neck, and he shivered; they were firm and deft, and moved with a surety he could only envy.

"Occupation and company," Moody repeated, and Remus closed his eyes against the hot grief that poured through him. "That's what you want, lad."

"What I want is -- " Remus stopped, abruptly; Moody's lips were pressed to his, and an entirely different heat was filling him. When the older man finally released him, he gasped for breath, and opened his eyes.

He was so still, Alastor Moody, like a rock in a storm. Remus was hungry for that stillness, for that lack of grief and worry.

"I'm slightly drunk," he stammered.

"Aye, lad. Get yourself to bed," Moody said, nodding gravely. He turned, and Remus could hear the clacking of his leg against the floor, through the kitchen and down the hallway to the ground-floor room Moody had staked as his own.

Remus glanced slowly at the half-full glass of scotch, and then shook his head. He made his way unsteadily towards the stairs, up and into his bedroom, falling into the bed with most of his clothes still on.

Downstairs, the fifth drink waited, the memories with it. But they could wait for another night.

[identity profile] cerridwen666.livejournal.com 2005-10-03 06:02 pm (UTC)(link)
That was...different. It made me sad and yet...not. I'm a fan of Witter Brynner as well...been trying to find a book with his work in it but for some reason the Books a Million didn't have it...bastards. I shall check Amazon.com. *goes off to do so*

You really are my favorite writer. Glad for another guy in the genre.
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)

[personal profile] tiferet 2006-06-05 06:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Don't know how I missed this, but I like it rather a lot.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-06-07 03:32 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! It's rather old, which is probably why -- and Moodyshipping tends to scare people off :D
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (OTP=9/81)

[personal profile] tiferet 2006-06-07 04:39 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, but I loooooooooooooooooove Moodyslash. :) So this makes me happy. (I have written Moody/Mulciber at every age from when they were kids to way way old...)

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-06-07 04:42 am (UTC)(link)
I tried for a Moody/Tom Riddle once, but it petered out. *sighs*

[identity profile] quean-of-swords.livejournal.com 2006-06-05 08:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Poor Remus. Like this view of Moody.

Beautiful as always. ^_^

[identity profile] mikkeneko.livejournal.com 2006-11-01 11:03 am (UTC)(link)
I think what I like best about this is the way you write Remus grief. It's so... quiet somehow, so calm and accepting, but no less painful for that. I like that you don't have him rage or shout at Moody, tell him he doesn't understand or that he can't control him. It's just so... I don't know. Appropriate.