“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.” ― Jack Kerouac
This is a collaborative piece between me and @capthawkeye . She is just the best! Art by me and the amaaaaazing fic by her!
Day 4 of Royai Week:Promise Rated: K || Words: 868
It’s a quiet mid-morning in Central. The day is vibrant and a slight breeze ruffles the grayed bangs away from her face. She recalls several days like today: the calm deception of the Promised Day or perhaps a proud, short day such as the last Fuhrer’s inauguration. The memories remind her how much has changed since then.
The saying goes: Time leaves nothing unaltered.
Aches settle in her bones and her hands now tremble. She uses a curved cane to bolster her steps and her muscles no longer respond with youthful vigor. The Hawk’s Eye precision blurs with passage of time. The years of building up strength dwindles with each passing day, but she carries the weight of their past all the same.
An old woman walks in her shoes now, past her golden years. She blends into the crowd seamlessly, an elder enjoying her routine stroll. A bittersweet smile sneaks onto her lips; for years now, her walks across the park are lonelier and all she cares to do is reminisce.
The first time Sirius Black laid eyes on Remus Lupin, he was curious.
With his shabby robe, that frayed at the hem, and ended halfway down his calf, and the amber hair that seemed to either shine golden or grey in the candlelight, Remus Lupin walked with his head bowed and his eyes dragging along the floor. He looked like he would have the earth devour him, if only it opened wide.
Sirius couldn’t remember ever seeing anyone like that, and his eyes had remained snagged on the boy, who was fading away as he sat on the stool. The hat was placed on his head and began murmuring. Sirius wouldn’t admit it now, but he crossed his fingers underneath the table.
Blush staining his cheeks, he stumbled down the few steps and took a seat at the roaring table. Sirius leaned backwards, craning his neck as far back as he could to see him. Through all the nervousness, through the threads of his golden hair falling over his face, there was a slight smile.
And Sirius felt his curiosity increase tenfold.
The first time Sirius Black spoke to Remus Lupin, he was nervous.
It wasn’t that Sirius Orion Black the Third did not get nervous- that wasn’t it, at all- it was just that he had been born into a family of wealth and the cloak of privilege was snugly swathed over him. If not for any other reason, it was simply because Sirius Orion Black the Third had never had any reason to be nervous.
And yet, on their first night at Hogwarts, he felt a buzzing, quivering feeling deep inside of him as he approached the quiet boy from earlier on. The boy was sitting in a corner of the electrified Common Room, leaning into the shadows as though he belonged to them, and adamantly avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room. Even as Sirius sat beside him, the boy kept his eyes tracing the swirls on the carpet below his feet. Sirius wanted to say something but when he opened his mouth, his tongue felt heavy and twisted, so he closed it again. His dark eyes flicked to the boy, and he noticed the thin scar, reaching up into his hair and kissing the corner of his mouth.
The boy must have felt his gaze for he looked up and they stared at one another, into one another, silence palpable between them before Sirius said quietly, almost breathlessly, “I have scars too.”
And the boy smiled again, but this was a sad smile; one that pulled his lips down more than up, and he said, “My name’s Remus.”
“I’m Sirius,” he smiled, eyes lighting up.
Remus’ eyebrows pulled into a frown. “Like the star?”
And Sirius felt himself frown too, but not in puzzlement, in wonder at the scarred boy before him.
The first time Sirius Black was touched by Remus Lupin, he flinched.
They were running. Faster than their legs could feasibly carry them, their laughs being the only remnant of their brilliance. They could hear Filch screaming curse words after them and the clang of the disarray they had caused followed them around each corner and down each corridor, until the quiet absconded them and their hearts beat so hard they feared they would break out of their fleshy prison.
They gasped for breath, still laughing shakily, disbelieving and euphoric. Remus’s eyebrows were raised and a grin lit up his face. He moved towards Sirius, slinging an arm around his shoulders and the latter flinched.
Remus’ arm dropped in sync with his grin.
Sirius felt his eyes close and the breathless euphoria was replaced in his blood by a heavy dread. For when his best friend had touched him, he felt not Remus Lupin, but his mother.
It didn’t take a genius to notice the change in his demeanour, nor the embarrassment that followed soon after. Remus stared, feeling realisation dawn upon him as Sirius clenched his eyes shut. He reached out to touch him again, to apologise, to comfort his friend but stopped short, his hand inches away.
He didn’t know what to do. Remus finally saw the scars.
And Sirius opened his eyes and offered him a trembling smile, seeing the outstretched hand. He held his breath and leaned into it.
Remus’ hand was warm through his clothes.
The first time Sirius Black found out about Remus Lupin, he didn’t quite believe it.
James told both him and Pete and although he could see the jigsaw pieces dropping into place, the doubt was very profound in his mind. He wasn’t sure whether he did not believe it, or did not want to believe it.
It was only when he asked Remus about it, watched as the life drained from his scarred face and trickled through the breath that left his lips, did Sirius realise it was true.
And he didn’t quite know what to say or do. He merely stood and stared as James and Peter tried to convince him that it didn’t matter- this furry little problem did not define him, they wouldn’t let it. He saw the way that Remus flickered before them, fading away. He saw how he became that same scarred little boy on their first night at Hogwarts, alone and frightened of the world.
“Are you sure?” Remus said shakily. He could not even look at them, at Sirius. “Are you sure you want me to stay? I wouldn’t mind- I mean, I wouldn’t blame you if you-“
He choked, the words jamming in his throat. There was a resignation to his voice, like he already knew the verdict, like he was waiting for it.
“If you wanted me kicked out of Hogwarts-“
“Kicked out?” Peter asked, his voice high pitch from incredulity. “Why would we do that?”
“Because- Because I’m a monster…”
“You’re being dramatic,” James said good-humouredly. “You fold your socks, Remus. Forgive me if I’m not trembling at the sight of you!”
“So you’re not- you’re not afraid of me?” Remus asked carefully, looking at them all with a pained yet unreadable expression on his face, as if he was gauging their seriousness. As if his life depended on it. “You don’t… but…but, I mean… werewolves, they’re not exactly… popular… or safe. For all you know, I could be dangerous!”
Sirius tried to grin. “Really, Lupin, what part of ‘you fold your socks’ isn’t getting through?”
Remus finally looked at him and he allowed himself to smile, and he hadn’t noticed but tears were slowly but surely falling down his cheeks. He took one step towards them before collapsing on the floor.
“Remus!” James shouted, jumping up to go and help his friend. The other two copied his movement. Putting one hand under his friend’s arm to try and lift him, with Sirius doing the same, he said, “Are you okay? What happened?”
“I- I just,” Remus faltered. Then he laughed. Loudly. Peter looked shocked, glancing fearfully at Sirius, who looked just as disconcerted. “I just feel so lucky to have you all as my friends.”
Then, the young werewolf started crying, on the floor of their dormitory, feeling something flutter and perch in his stomach. Belonging. It had to be.
And Sirius wrapped his arms around him, holding him close and tight in hopes that the broken pieces would stay together, and vowing that he would never let Remus Lupin, human or werewolf, fall apart again.
The first time Sirius Black realised he loved Remus Lupin, he couldn’t breathe.
The sun was sweet, sifting down from the sky and caressing their youthful bodies. The four of them laid on the bank of the Black Lake. James played with the snitch, letting it go then catching it before it could evade his clutch. Peter, sitting upright, was trying to do his homework, but his eyes kept straying to watch the golden bird flutter and speed away. Sirius was stretched out, eyes closed, feeing the warmth of summer ’75 wash over him. Remus was sat beside him, hugging his knees. He looked up at him through hooded eyes.
“You’re staring at me,” Remus said, and a small smirk curled at his lips. It was a regular sight now, that small, unassuming tilt of his mouth that hinted at the mischief hidden inside of him. He was older, no longer the scarred little boy from their first night at Hogwarts, but a young man with golden hair that fell past his ears and a more artistic face, with amber eyes and long eyelashes and a more profound dusting of freckles across his nose. His eyes strayed to him, looking sideways on. Sirius felt himself blush but pretended it was just the heat of the sun.
“See something you like?” Remus asked lightly, in his deep voice, grin wide on his face. Sirius didn’t reply.
Remus’ grin faltered and his eyebrows pulled together. He looked down at his friend, and Sirius shoved his hand up, pushing his face back. A string of indistinguishable noises mashed against the palm of his hand, as well as wet lips and teeth as Remus was caught off-guard. He wrenched his head away, looking at Sirius incredulously.
“No, I see a big fucking nerd,” Sirius replied.
Remus pretended to be offended, holding a hand to his heart but the laugh stole across his face before he could stop it and he ducked his head. Sirius watched him and swallowed.
“I’m a big nerd that beats you in every test we’ve had this term,” Remus said slyly, shooting him a glance. “Scratch that. All the tests we’ve had since first year.”
Sirius didn’t even give him chance to grin and launched himself at Remus, who was forced backwards. They rolled down the banking, causing Peter to squeak and twist out of the way. The two rolled, limbs tangled, wrestling harmlessly, laughing and growling and panting, until they came to a stop on the water’s edge. Sirius ended up on top, arms out to support his weight, breathing heavily. His dark hair was long and fell down past his face, tickling Remus, who was staring up at him in amused disbelief.
The laugh was high and honey-like, bursting from Remus’ lips before he could bite it back and he screwed his eyes closed. Sirius laughed too, breathlessly, and dropped his head to rest in the curvature of his friend’s shoulder. When they both felt spent, their ephemeral youth trickling out through their lips, Sirius lifted his head.
And he stared at Remus, whose eyes remained closed, a ghost of a smile playing his face. The freckles that painted his skin were like stars, and Sirius traced the constellations imprinted there, twirling around meteors and comets. He couldn’t breathe because there was something deep inside of him, like a butterfly fluttering its wings. And Sirius knew what it was immediately. He counted Remus’ freckles in hope it would go away.
The first time Sirius Black fell asleep in Remus Lupin’s arms, he felt invincible.
He woke up, the voice wrenching him from the clutches of the nightmare, eyes latching onto the first thing they saw, which happened to be Remus’s soft and freckled face. He looked paler than usual, the moonlight seeping through the curtains to find him.
Sirius closed his eyes, and his entire body throbbed, heaved from the fear it had been enraptured in. He must have been screaming. His throat felt torn and painful. His blanket was somewhere at the bottom of his bed- he must have been kicking out as well, and his skin was sticky from sweat.
Sirius opened his eyes again, unwillingly meeting Remus’ gaze. Concern leaked from him, from the frown marring his face to the sadness in his pretty eyes. He didn’t want him to worry for him, and he tried to smile but it was meek and shaky.
Remus sat him upright, climbing into bed behind him, legs stretched out and pulled Sirius to lie in the middle, head on his chest. Slowly, Sirius relaxed into him. Remus threaded his fingers through his hair, soothing him in the only way he knew how. He murmured, “It’s okay. I’ve got you. You’re safe here. They’re not coming for you, not ever. You’re safe here.”
And Sirius fell asleep, unafraid of the shapes in the darkness that resembled his father, because there was nothing tying him there. Nothing whatsoever because he realised that home wasn’t a place, it was a person. And it was the person you felt safest with, the person whose heartbeat you fell asleep to. And Remus Lupin’s heartbeat was the steadiest one of all.
The first time Sirius Black kissed Remus Lupin, he was crying.
The world didn’t feel real because his baby brother was no longer on it. And he screamed and yelled until his voice was hoarse and his throat felt like it might bleed and he would choke on the blood. He tore at his skin and hair and cried until he couldn’t see and all the while, Remus held onto him, gripping him so tightly that he left handprints; marks that were proof to the only thing keeping him tied to this existence.
When no more feelings would come to the surface, and he had finally turned to silence, Sirius stared at the floor. His baby brother, the one who he had checked under the bed for monsters for, and read Peter Pan to because the boys never had to grow up, was gone. He had been taken by the very monsters Sirius used to check for, and he could only remember the last words his brother said to him: “I guess it’s like the ticking crocodile. Time is chasing after all of us.”
Sirius could still see the smoking battlefield, witness to the last encounter he would ever have with him. They had both been bleeding heavily, fighting to stay alive, and the words had barely been a fracture on the air between them. They had stood beside one another, not as Death Eater and Order Member, not as dark and light, not as enemies but as brothers.
And now his brother was dead. Time had finally caught up to him.
Remus stood before Sirius, holding his face between his hands, gripping his jaw firmly. He stared into him, amber eyes frantic but unyielding.
“You are damaged and broken and unhinged,” Remus said and Sirius inhaled the words as though he needed them to survive. There was something so heartbreakingly truthful in him, so raw and tender and meaningful. “But so are shooting stars and comets and people still like to wish on those.”
And Sirius didn’t know what overcame him. Perhaps he was just waiting for the world to be beautiful again, because he hadn’t seen it that way for so long, but he leaned in and he kissed Remus Lupin. Sirius moved his lips against Remus’, relishing in the way the latter melted into him. There was nothing restrained about it; they were wild and ravaging, passionate and desperate, gasping for air and something that would make them feel alive again. Their hearts were throbbing, veins pulsing and rejuvenated, and they both thrived off of the vitality. There was something so beautiful about humans in despair, something so fresh and torn and unbridled.
And Sirius Black kissed Remus Lupin because he couldn’t afford not to. Because everything was being ripped away from him and he’d be damned if he let Remus be taken off of him too.
The first time Sirius Black made love to Remus Lupin, he didn’t feel real.
They were a delicate tangle of limbs and tongues and their flesh seared every time it touched. It felt like they were on fire; a flame of life and youth and the desperation of having Death breathing down your neck. But the only breaths they felt in that moment were each other’s, inhaling everything the other exhaled, living on the other’s life.
Sirius had never felt anything like it. Remus whispered in his ear, over and over, punctuating each kiss with the words, “Rwy'n dy garu di.”
The following morning, when the sunlight crept through the slit in the curtains to lay witness to their tarnished love, they faced one another, smiling muzzily.
Sirius murmured, “If every morning started off like this, maybe I’d actually be able to sleep at night.”
Remus smiled at him, and locked their hands together, playing with his fingers. “I dreamt about you,” he told him.
Sirius’ eyebrows raised, evidence to his piquing interest. He leaned forward and said excitedly, “Was I murdering people?”
A slightly exasperated smile curled Remus’ lips and his eyes were amused and gentle when he said, “I was trying to be romantic.”
“Oh.” Sirius leaned back, but his cheeks were pink. He stared at their interwoven fingers. “Well, what boring adventure was I up to in this dream then, since I was regretfully not murdering people?”
“You were alive. With me. And all of this was over, and we were happy,” Remus said in a quiet voice. “And we were a big family. You and me and James and Lily and Pete. We were a family again.”
“One day that won’t just be a dream,” Sirius told him, reaching up to stroke his cheekbone. Remus tried to smile and nodded.
There were not many things that Sirius Black cared for. In his life, he thought he had an approximate total of three.
One, was, of course the map. God, Sirius loved the map. He loved every crease and stain, every smudge and line. He had memorised the folds and crevices of the parchment until he could trace it in the air, even when the map was nowhere in sight. He loved the midnight memories and the escapades it represented. He loved the fact that it was home.
The second was exactly that. Hogwarts had taken him in, had sheltered him and ensured his safety. The stone walls had witnessed his growth, and he could not possibly think of anywhere else he loved more. It was the only place he felt he belonged.
And the third, as he stared at the gold of his hair, and the star-like freckles that dotted his face, was irrevocably and undeniably, Remus Lupin.
That was a lie before, Sirius thought, feeling Remus’ hand ghost up his arm. This was where he belonged.
The first time Sirius Black killed for Remus Lupin, he was shocked.
The spell had left his lips as easily as a whistle might, or a hum of an old song. It had left his lips, then the green light groped at the tip of his wand and exploded outwards. The spell had collided with the Death Eater before he could even change his mind.
Remus watched it all. When his body hit the floor, they both stared at his lifeless corpse with blank eyes and then Remus raised his gaze to Sirius, something frigid and scared lurking there. Sirius willed himself to feel the same sort of revulsion as Remus did, and for a moment, a sliver of shock rang through him. But then the war crashed down and every one of Remus’ breaths came out as small globes of white on the air, cold but proof that he was still alive.
And then, Sirius felt nothing at all.
The first time Sirius Black saved Remus Lupin, he nearly died.
The green spell had been spiralling towards him, whistling through the air as though it was something as trivial as a ball waiting to be caught. But there was no way Remus was catching this ball. Time might be chasing after them all, but it was far away from Remus.
Sirius hadn’t even waited. He had run, faster than he possibly could, feeling the wind whip past him as he raced to get where he needed to be. And for a second… he thought he wasn’t going to make it-
But he did. Sirius leapt at him, shoving Remus down and he swore the spell tickled his ear. They laid, gripping one another, numb to their very core.
Then, a yell tore through the static and they were wrenched back into action, scrambling to their feet. They faced each other, panting. Remus was pale, his eyes wide and perturbed.
Sirius wanted to say something, but words evaded his mouth. Adrenaline pounded within him.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Remus stressed, and his scars throbbed with fury. “You could’ve died! Do you never think-?”
“I would die for you!” Sirius said and there was a desperate honesty clinging to his words.
Remus shook his head and he shouted, “That’s just it, Sirius! I don’t want you to die for me!”
His voice was ragged, verging on breaking. Sirius frowned, and his mouth opened and closed, forming questions that were lost on Remus’ ears. He looked puzzled, like he couldn’t quite understand.
Remus licked his lips, and he let his eyes trail around the bloody forest they were fighting in, raking trees and grass and bodies, because the pained confusion on Sirius’ face was too much for him to bear.
Eventually, he sighed and dragged them back to him. Sirius still hadn’t said anything- he couldn’t.
“You think that love means dying for someone,” Remus said carefully, trying to control the volume of his voice. “But it doesn’t. Love is nothing if you die. Okay, Sirius? IT’S NOTHING!” He broke off. He was trembling, and he couldn’t even look at the boy who had saved his life, who had cared for him and looked after him and reminded him of purpose every time he felt like he was losing track. He couldn’t look at Sirius because the truth was tearing him apart. Remus said finally, in a voice so honest it was breaking, “If you die, I’m nothing.”
And it took him a moment to see it, but Remus Lupin was shaking and his ragged edges were fading away again, because to him, Sirius Black was everything.
Much later on, when the skies had grown darker and the clouds were suffocating and no light could break through them, they laid in bed, not facing one another. Their bodies were pulsing with life, however tired that life was.
“Remus,“ Sirius said quietly and so suddenly that it seemed to fracture the serenity of the night.
"What?” He whispered back.
“I think I know what love means.”
Remus paused. He remembered their argument about that and it seemed so long ago, like something he had to dig up from the chaos of the past. “And what does it mean?”
Sirius didn’t speak for a while, and Remus was about to turn around to look at him when he said, “It’s not dying for someone. It’s living for them. It’s loving someone so much that you’d do anything to make it back to them. I get it now.”
And Sirius made a vow right then, as his fingers reached behind him to hook onto Remus’, that he would live for him. No matter how many skies had fallen, Sirius Black would live. If only for Remus Lupin.
The first time Sirius Black heard that Remus Lupin hated him, he tried to kill himself.
The cell was dark and cold. The shadows were even darker, but the guards that paced on the other side of those black bars were the coldest. They looked in at him as they passed, their hollow eyes the only indication of their darkness and Sirius tried to avoid looking at them because they fed off of the darkness inside of him and God only knew that would be enough to last them a lifetime.
He waited. He waited for weeks, months, years, but Remus Lupin did not come to visit him.
So Sirius curled up in a corner of his cell, not watching as the plates of food piled up at his door, not looking up as he wasted away, becoming a ghost of the boisterous boy he used to be. It was strange. Now, it was he who was fading away. But Remus wasn’t there to see it.
He remembered the way James’ face had looked. His glasses were askew, and before he’d moved on, Sirius had paused to straighten them. His best friend hated wearing wonky glasses.
He remembered the way Lily’s vibrant hair was fanned out around her head, like a halo of fire, only her halo was devoid of light because Lily and James Potter were dead.
And they thought he had killed them. Remus thought he had killed them.
It hurt more than anything else. It hurt more than life itself, more than death, more than the sky shattering and the pain of the shards that fell from the ruin.
This hurt more. This was agony.
It was hot, writhing inside of him, burning him. He could feel his bones ignite, and the tears streamed out of his eyes, but Sirius made no noise. He was consumed with sadness, with the overwhelming notion of ‘This is it. This is all there is now.’ Nothing mattered anymore because this was it; the black cell with the cold guards, starving an innocent man of life.
This was all there was ever going to be.
And Sirius fell backwards, his body too exhausted and frail to function. He could feel Time’s breath whisper against the back of his neck, and when he closed his eyes, he saw Remus’ face and he counted the freckles.
The first time Sirius Black saw Remus Lupin after all those years, he held him.
He had forgotten how much he longed for this touch. He had forgotten how warm Remus was through his clothes. He had forgotten how the beat of his heart felt as it resonated through both of their chests. Sirius had forgotten how Remus had felt, and he had nearly died to remember it.
But now they were back, and it felt like some sort of dream, except this was something that not even dreams were made of. There were less freckles on his leathery face, and his golden hair was greying, and the scar that kissed his mouth had faded away.
And yet, Remus’ arms around him still felt like home. It had been so long, but this was the beginning of a beautiful world again. Because Sirius was home.
The last time Sirius Black saw Remus Lupin, he realised something.
The atrium was dark and metallic; not really the place he had always imagined he’d die in. Spells whizzed both in front and behind him, but they didn’t matter, because one had already touched him. He could feel Time’s breath hot on his neck.
The archway reached out for him, and the tendrils were softer than Sirius had imagined. He could hear his Godson screaming, and his eyes ghosted over the raw and wild expression on the young boy’s face and then he saw him.
Sirius saw Remus.
There was some sort of disbelief fringing his amber eyes. He was clutching at Harry, holding him back, and the desperation that poisoned every freckle made Sirius want to fight, tooth and nail, to stay. But there was nothing he could do. He was dying. That was the simple and bitter truth of it.
It was in that moment, the moment of limbo between life and death, that Sirius realised something. He realised that maybe he was wrong, that love isn’t watching someone die- it’s watching them live.
And it’s watching them live with such passion. It’s watching them cry under the moonlight, and laugh with the stars, it’s kissing their forehead when daylight finally surrenders to the oncoming clutches of the night. It’s watching them breathe and hope and dare to dream. And my God, it was loving their life so much that it invoked a breathlessness sensation, which struck you with the most overwhelming of unfathomable thoughts. It was watching them live and knowing that you are the most privileged human in the world for it.
And Sirius Black had watched Remus Lupin live. He had seen his life in snippets and in full, blown out explosions. He had seen him as a scarred and nervous child, fading away on his first night at Hogwarts, and as a free-spirited boy, racing down hallway after hallway, his laughter peeling behind him. He had seen Remus as a werewolf, a self-proclaimed monster that was really no more monstrous than he, himself. He had seen him as a top student, as a prefect, as a Best Man, as a best friend, as a soldier. Sirius had seen Remus Lupin’s stars and constellations, he had bared every inch of him and kissed every scar. He had watched him live the most extraordinary of extraordinary lives.
And Sirius knew, that he was the most privileged human in the world for it.