Nothing is Fair When it Comes to Love in a Time of War
“I am an invisible man.” Sirius Black slammed his empty glass down on the bar in front of him and dragged one hand back through his tangled black hair. The smoke in the Muggle bar was heavy and stinging the young man's eyes; making them dry out and flush with red. He groaned in discomfort and pushed his glass towards the edge of the bar to get the attention of the bartender. A body shifted on the stool next to Sirius, though the man paid it no mind. He was in his own stupor and wasn't in the mood to be pulled out of it.
“Invisible man, huh?” came the soft voice of a woman. “I can see you just fine, honey. So can half the ladies in this joint.” She flipped back a long strand of dark hair and flicked the end of her cigarette onto the floor. “Most of 'em can't keep their eyes off you.”
Sirius let out a long breath and slowly turned towards the woman speaking. He tried not to show a physical reaction of distaste by being moved on by a woman who looked his mother's age, but failed drastically. His mouth twisted into a small grimace and his eyes widened painfully. “I'm not interested,” he muttered before reaching out and banging his empty glass on the bar for attention.
“Hold your horses there, sonny, don't be so quick to write off an experienced woman.”
The young man made no attempt at hiding his amusement. He snorted loudly and leaned forward on the bar, waving his hand drunkenly at the bartender. “Can I get a damn refill over here or not?” he growled. “Rubbish place. Lousy drinks and this music is awful,” he grumbled as he lowered himself back into his seat and rubbed his palm over his eyes.
“If you don't like it here, why are you staying?” the woman inquired, her head swaying with inflection on every word.
Sirius shifted on the stool and cast a long glance towards the dance floor. Only a few couples were out on the floor and the man had his eyes locked hard onto just one of them. Another young man, tall and thin with light brown hair, was dancing close with a shorter young woman who had long golden blonde waves bouncing across her back. “My mates are here,” Sirius answered, turning his attention back to the beaten and marred bar under his arms.
“Your mates? Not very good friends if they leave you sitting here acting all down in the ditches while they dance the night away.” The woman pursed her over painted lips and took a long drag from her smoke. “What say you and me have a dance; show those kids how it's done.”
“I'll pass,” Sirius scoffed. “Finally!” he cried out as the bartender grabbed up the man's glass and began to refill it. He hastily snatched his drink from the other man, causing a few drops to splash out onto his hand. He ran his tongue over the amber liquid to clean it from his skin and tossed back his drink.
The woman stared at Sirius with curiosity and trailed one of her fingernails over the young man's arm. “You are in some state, aren't you?”
Sirius jerked his shoulder back and glared at the dark-haired woman with disdain. “I think it's time for you to leave,” he spat as he placed his nearly empty glass onto the bar.
“If I leave, then you'll be invisible again,” the woman argued with a smirk.
“I'm okay with that.”
She let out a condescending laugh and shook her head at the young man. “Tell me, what was all that about? You being invisible?”
Sirius traced his finger around the edge of his glass and threw a glance towards the dancing couple as the song began to change. He frowned heavily as the man pulled the blonde into his arms for a more intimate dance. “They are my mates,” he started. “He's one of my best, in fact.” He rubbed at his eyes again and sighed heavily as he forced himself to look away from the scene between the couple. “They keep inviting me out with them. Want me to find someone too. One of our other mates...he just had a kid and those two are getting all...serious.”
“And then they leave you at the bar all by your lonesome,” the woman finished.
“I just feel invisible when they're together. I'm supposed to be finding someone to....”
“Someone to shag?”
“Worse. Someone to love.” Sirius barked out a laugh and swallowed back the rest of his drink. “Like I could fall for someone in a bloody hell-hole like this.” He bared his teeth at the sting in his throat and slammed his glass back onto the bar.
The woman smirked at Sirius and lit up another cigarette before blowing a stream of smoke into the air beside the man's face. “Maybe you're just not trying hard enough. Clearly your friends want you to be happy. Just...give it a go. You might find you someone to love without even realizing it.”
“I've already....” The man trailed off, annoyed at his quick response. The woman's eyes grew large and she leaned towards him, eager to hear the rest of his sentence. Sirius leaned in the opposite direction and ran his hands frantically through his hair. “I've already fallen in love,” he finished. “Are you happy now, you nosy bint?”
“Oh, this story just keeps getting better,” the woman said with eagerness. She waved her cigarette towards Sirius and nodded at the man. “Go on then, who's gone and stolen the heart of such a...handsome but invisible man?”
Sirius leaned himself forward on the bar and stared longingly at the couple on the dance floor as they continued to hold each other and sway with the music. “It doesn't matter. It could never happen.” He closed his eyes and turned his head back towards the bar in defeat.
“I get it,” the woman said with a slow forming grin. “Love can be a tricky bitch, can't she?”
“You got that right,” Sirius muttered.
“Are they married?” she asked casually. When Sirius shook his head, the woman went on. “Are they going to get married?”
“I don't know. Things are difficult right now...there's certain complications....” Sirius let out a heavy sigh. Though one of the reasons they frequented Muggle bars was because it allowed them to escape the reality of the war raging around them, it often became frustrating in situations like these; when the Muggles didn't understand what dangerous times they were living in.
The woman nodded as though she understood and waved her hand towards the bartender. “Well, as far as I can see, until they're hitched then it isn't final. You shouldn't sit by and let someone else enjoy what you want.” She smiled languidly at the bartender and ordered a drink as Sirius pointed to his glass for a refill. “I'm gonna get straight to the point here, sonny. I'm looking to have some fun tonight; are you gonna help me out with that? Or do I need to look elsewhere?”
“You're not my type,” Sirius answered as he stared down into his newly filled glass.
She frowned and cast her eyes onto the couple that was now leaving the dance floor and headed their way. Her gaze drew up and down the blonde's petite form, soft face and shimmering hair before standing up and patting Sirius on the shoulder. “Clearly,” she said with a tad of resentment. “You have a good night there, Mister Invisible,” she added before walking away from the bar, drink in hand.
“I didn't realize you were into older women,” said the blonde as her and the young man approached the bar behind Sirius.
Sirius rolled his eyes and put on a fake smile for the other's sake. “Very funny, Dorcas. She's like my mother's age. Could barely get rid of her.”
Dorcas laughed quietly and rubbed at Sirius' shoulders. “I was just messing with you, don't be so touchy.” She looked over to the other man and gave him a quick wink before pointing towards the ladies room sign. “Be right back, Remy.”
Remus merely nodded in answer and watched as the blonde disappeared into the small crowd. He slid onto the stool next to Sirius and slipped his hand around the other man's glass, pulling it from his grip. “Between you and me, I think you had a shot with that older bird,” he teased, prompting a barking laugh from his friend. Remus took a long sip from the other man's glass and sat it back down in front of him. “You about ready to get out of here?”
“I was ready to leave when we came in,” Sirius grumbled.
“No one forced you to come along,” Remus bit angrily. “You can stay home next time if you're gonna sit around and be negative.”
“I'm not,” Sirius argued lamely. “I won't. I just-just I'm not.” He shook his head and picked up his glass, letting it rest in front of his face. “I just don't like this bar is all.”
Remus twisted his lips in disbelief but stayed silent as the two men awaited Dorcas' return. When the young woman made her way back to the others, she leaned over Remus and gave him a quick kiss, a deep frown forming on her face instantly.
“It was...I just,” Remus waved his hand towards Sirius' drink and put on an innocent face. “He thought it tasted...funny?” The man gave a shrug and tilted his head in defeat. “It was just one drink. I'm fine.”
“Doesn't matter, I'm ready to go,” Dorcas conceded with a sigh. “You ready, Sirius?”
Sirius nodded and finished off his drink before throwing down some Muggle notes on the bar; enough for the drinks and a generous tip for being so impatient. The three pushed out of the loud and smokey bar into the chilly night air. Remus hugged his arms around himself and rubbed his arms. He hadn't bothered to grab a warm coat before he left the apartment because it wasn't so cold when they set out. They silently started down the back alley beside the bar and glanced around for any signs of Muggles.
“I'm gonna walk Sirius to the apartment, then I'll Apparate over to your place,” Remus whispered as he leaned down and pulled Dorcas into his arms.
“But Remy, w-”
“He's been drinking,” Remus interrupted. “I'm not gonna let him walk around this late when he's not on top form. It'll be fine. I'll take him home, then I'll be over in...a half hour, tops.”
“Promise?” the blonde asked, pouting her lips out at Remus.
“Promise. Now go on,” Remus answered with a quick kiss. The man stepped back and waved as Dorcas Disapparated. “Alright, let's go,” he said to Sirius and fell into step next to the other man.
The two walked in silence; only the sound of their feet splashing in the puddles of melted snow broke the stillness of the night. It was a short distance to the apartment and soon, they were upstairs in the warmth of their home. Sirius dropped himself heavily onto the sofa and shrugged out of his Muggle coat while Remus headed straight for the kitchen.
“Do you want me to make you some tea before I go?” the young man called to the other.
“No,” Sirius called back and after a moment of stretched silence, he whined out a “Yes.”
Remus sniggered to himself as he already had the mug and teapot ready. “Thought so,” he said with a smirk as he filled it with water.
Sirius dragged himself off the sofa and trudged into the kitchen. He pulled down a second mug and sat it next to the first. “We have milk, right?” he asked.
Remus nodded and placed the second mug back into the cabinet. “I'm not having any, I gotta go.”
“You can spare ten minutes to have tea with your mate,” Sirius argued as he once again retrieved Remus' favorite mug.
“I didn't. You've had all night with her, you can spare a little time for me,” Sirius growled before flinging the other man's mug away from himself and sending it crashing to the floor.
Remus watched with wide eyes as his mug made contact with the kitchen tile and shattered into an innumerable amount of shards that scattered all over the floor. He tightened his jaw and slowly pulled out his wand, casting a simple repairing spell over the mess.
“I-I didn't mean to,” Sirius whispered.
“I know you didn't,” Remus answered in a blank tone as he reached for the dishcloth on the sink.
“I'll wash it,” Sirius insisted, pulling the cloth from the other man's hand and turning on the water. He made quick work of washing out Remus' mug and wiping it dry. “See, it's fine,” he said, placing it back down on the counter.
“Do you want me to move out?” Remus asked, his light blue eyes locking hard onto Sirius'. “Just tell me if you do because I...I can't take this anymore.”
Sirius shook his head frantically and twisted his face into stark confusion. “It was an accident. A stupid mug breaks and you think I want you to leave?”
“No,” Remus argued. “This isn't about the damn mug, it's about you and your...anger.” Sirius' mouth opened to protest, but Remus cut him off. “You've been so mad for the last couple of weeks and I can't figure out why. You're stomping around and snapping at me. If you're tired of having me around then chuck me out already.”
“I'm not! It isn't you. I'm not...mad at you.”
“Then what are you so mad at?”
“I'm mad at her! Okay?” Sirius yelled, flinging his hand mindlessly towards the door.
“Her who? Dorcas?” Remus narrowed his eyes in confusion and threw his hands up. “Why are you mad at her? I thought you liked her!”
“I do like her,” Sirius answered.
“Then what's the problem?”
“I don't like her with you!”
“You're the one who told me I should ask her out,” Remus said, pulling his hand through his shaggy brown hair.
“I...I thought she'd turn you down,” Sirius admitted.
Remus flinched at the other man's words and turned his back on him. “I see,” he whispered as he attended to the tea and kept his head down. He pushed Sirius' filled mug towards him and left his own empty. The man placed his hands on the counter and leaned into it, his eyes deep in thought. “Then what was the point?” he asked. “Why would you go through all that trouble to talk me into asking her out if you thought she was gonna say no?”
Sirius shook his head a bit and stared at the tea before him. “I guess I just thought that...if you asked and she said no, then you would get over it. You'd move on and find someone...better.”
“It's not that Dorcas isn't great,” Sirius went on. “Because she is. But she's not great for you. You don't belong with someone like her. You need someone who doesn't mind if you want to cut loose with a few drinks or a smoke or spend four hours in some ruddy bookshop.” He moved across the kitchen to grab the milk and waited for Remus to answer. When none came, he continued. “And she doesn't even know your secret,” he whispered.
Remus took a long breath and poured himself some tea before silently retreating to the living room. The man placed his mug down on the coffee table and fell back onto the sofa. Sirius wasn't sure was to make of Remus' silence, so the man followed suit and took a place next to the other on the sofa.
“You're mad?” Sirius finally asked, breaking the uneasy quiet.
“I'm not mad,” Remus answered as he sipped at his tea. “Confused, but not mad.”
“I'm sorry,” Sirius offered only to be met with silence from the other man. He turned his eyes away from Remus and dug down into his pocket, bringing out a squashed pack of cigarettes. “Want?” he asked softly, holding the pack towards his friend.
Remus ignored the question and leaned against the arm of the sofa, his eyes staring off in the distance.
“So I'm back to being invisible,” Sirius muttered as he crammed a smoke between his lips and flicked angrily at his lighter. Over and over the man's thumb dragged across the harsh metal wheel, producing sparks but no flame. As his thumb grew raw, he let out a growl and flung the Muggle contraption across the room. He wrenched the cigarette from his mouth and pulled his hand back through his hair, frowning as his fingers caught up in the knots.
The lighter-haired man couldn't help but smirk at Sirius' tantrum. He reached over and slid the smoke from the man's fingers and placed it between his own lips. After lighting it with his wand and taking a quick drag, he passed it back to Sirius and got to his feet. “I need to go.”
Sirius grabbed onto the other man's hand and stared up at him with desperation in his grey eyes. “Don't leave,” he pleaded.
“I promised her I'd be there soon,” Remus argued, though he made no effort to pull away from the man's grip.
“You don't belong with her,” Sirius whispered as he let his hand drop from Remus'. He ducked his head and took a long drag from his cigarette, his hands shaking and his knee bouncing with nerves. “You don't...belong with her,” he repeated slowly this time as he let his eyes travel up and seek out the other man's. “You belong here.”
Remus lowered himself to sit on the coffee table and stared across at Sirius. “When you say I belong here, do you mean that I belong here -” he waved his hand mindlessly to indicate the apartment “- or that I belong here?” he whispered as he reached out and grazed his fingertips over Sirius' open palm.
Sirius shivered under the other man's touch and closed his hand around the lingering sensation. “Don't leave, Moony,” he whispered so low he could barely be heard. He opened his hand back and rested it on Remus' knee, then shifted towards the front of the sofa.
“This isn't right,” Remus said quickly as he batted the man's hand away. “It isn't fair to her.”
“Isn't fair to her? Well this isn't fair to me. Watching you be with her like that. It isn't fair at all!” Sirius sprang to his feet and stormed towards his bedroom. He threw the door open, letting it bang loudly against the wall, then slammed it back closed.
Remus followed right on Sirius' heels, almost getting hit by the closing door, and pushed it back open. “What do you want from me here?” he yelled, stepping up behind the man.
“Nothing. I don't want anything from you,” Sirius hissed as he moved as far away from Remus as possible and turned to face him. “Just go see your girlfriend like you promised.” He waved his cigarette towards the door and put it between his frowning lips.
Remus narrowed his eyes and took long strides across the room until he was right in front of Sirius. He plucked the smoke from the man's mouth and used his free hand to slip behind Sirius' neck. The man's fingers wound tightly into the other's dark strands and bid him to tip his head back. Without a word, Remus crashed his lips harshly into Sirius' and stepped into him until he was backed against the wall. He closed his eyes tightly and tossed the lit cigarette onto the man's dresser, uncaring of the possible consequences.
Sirius twisted his hands into the other man's shirt and pulled him closer as their lips fought for dominance. He savored every detail, locking it away for later: the faint trace of alcohol from the bar, the bitterness of the man's unsweetened tea, the smokey remnants of the shared cigarette and something else, something that was uniquely Remus.
The taller of the men pulled away from the kiss and dropped his hand from Sirius' hair. His face contorted in distress and confusion, his eyes searching frantically for a place to focus. He dragged his hands down his face and shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.
“You regret it already,” Sirius forced out through clenched teeth. When Remus shook his head, the man pushed past him and dropped onto the edge of his bed. “I can tell. You're already feeling guilty.”
“I don't regret it,” Remus argued, turning towards the other man. He hurriedly salvaged the tossed cigarette and snuffed it out into the glass tray with the handful of others. “You're so quick to jump to conclusions. Can't I have even a damn moment to process things?”
“Go on and have your moment to process,” Sirius sneered. “I swear you waste half your damn life on thinking. Don't you ever just....” He hung his head in his hands and sighed heavily.
“I do not,” Remus whispered, rubbing his hand over his neck. “I like to have my head lined out, is that such a bad thing?”
“When you let it stop you from living, it is,” Sirius answered.
The man straightened out, taken aback by Sirius' words. “I live,” he argued weakly. “I live!” he repeated, his tone growing angry. When the other man made no reply, Remus charged towards him. “I know how to live,” he said once again, grabbing the man's shoulders and forcing him to look up.
“Prove it,” Sirius challenged.
Remus moved his hands up to the man's neck and cradled it as he lowered his lips back down. Sirius seized his chance and wrapped his arms tightly around the other man's waist, pulling him down onto the bed over him. His hands slipped under the man's shirt and smoothed over Remus' back, his fingertips pressing roughly into the space between the other man's shoulder blades. Remus pulled his mouth away and stared down over Sirius' chest, his hand pushing at the man's shirt.
Sirius shifted under the other young man and arched his back enough to allow himself to be rid of his shirt. The man shivered as the chilled air rushed over his bare chest. He pulled Remus closer and tugged at the hem of his shirt only to have his hand knocked away. “Moony,” he started but his words were silenced by Remus' lips.
The sound of heavy pounding on the front door brought Remus and Sirius out of their affection and sent them scrambling to their feet. “Sirius!” came the shouts of James Potter on the other side of the door. “Damn it, are you in there!” More loud pounding followed the man's shouts.
Remus was the first to the door, quickly followed by Sirius as the young man pulled his shirt back on, too worried at the panic in James' voice to notice it was inside out. When Remus pulled the door open, James' eyes flooded with a small relief and stared up at the young man.
“M...Moony, you're here, thank God,” James cried out, his words shuddered.
“What's wrong? Is Harry okay?” Sirius asked, grabbing his best friend's arm and snatching his attention. “James, talk to me!”
“No, Harry's fine! It's....” The messy haired man threw another glance up towards Remus before finding Sirius' eyes. “It's Dorcas.”
“What?” Remus gasped.
“They found the Dark Mark over her house.”
A Note From the Author: Thank you for reading! I hope that you enjoyed it. Any thoughts would be great. :D –Jenna
“I am an invisible man.” – Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
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