Chapter 1 : It's Enough
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 33|
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Would end in love in the end
- W. B. Yeats
fifteenth of september
Sirius stands with his arms framing the front window of his flat, a cigarette dangling from his lips. He closes his eyes, inhaling slow and steady as sunlight filters through the dirty, smudged glass he never has the time to clean.
There are hands flat against the planes of his back, the press of warm lips at the nape of his neck. Lips that murmur words of apology, of forgiveness, against sun-kissed skin that glows gold in muted daylight.
“Tell me what I did wrong,” the lips beg and he feels breath, warm and heavy, curling in the small space behind his ear. He shivers.
Fingers grip his black T-shirt to pull him closer. Sirius reaches a hand out and his palm stretches wide against cool glass to steady himself. He isn’t sure a hand is enough to steady the tilt and spin of his world as he feels it crumbling beneath his feet. He feels dizzy.
“Don’t,” he says, shrugging away from arms that have always held him together but are now threatening to tear him apart. He pulls the cigarette from his mouth for a brief moment, breathing in fresh air, hoping for clarity.
His fingers clench and he inhales shakily when the cigarette makes its way back to his lips. He turns to look into Remus’s eyes, warm and honey brown like melted caramel, and loses his control.
“How could you?” he spits, anger the only way he knows how to respond.
Remus’s face is the perfect mask of innocence and confusion and it pisses Sirius off that he can act so oblivious when it feels like the war out there is raging inside of him.
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Remus stutters out, eyes wide, brimming with unshed tears Sirius knows will never fall. “Sirius, I don’t understand why…”
In three strides, Sirius is nose-to-nose with Remus. He can see every wrinkle, freckle and scar that maps Remus’s face – knows they’re all there without looking – and the anger is wrapping itself around his chest like a noose. He lets loose a shuddering breath.
“I trusted you,” he seethes. “We trusted you. Why would you do it? What do you gain from this?”
Remus’s breath hitches in his throat and confusion gives way to shock and realisation. His bottom lip trembles. “You think…how could you even think that I…?” He can’t even finish the sentence. “You know me. I would never…”
Sirius squeezes his eyes shut, blocks out the hurt he sees so plainly on Remus’s face. “I thought I knew you,” he says and the words break him more than watching Remus’s expression crumple.
Remus whispers, “I don’t understand.”
He shakes his head. “Just get out, Remus. I can’t even look at you anymore.”
But he does take one last look at his former best friend (lover) and Sirius, he sees a spark in Remus’s eyes, a light that has been absent for months. He is used to subdued, (almost) always absent Remus. He feels the familiar tight coil in the pit of his stomach and his fingers twitch to touch this Remus, to ensure he’s real, to feel warmth and skin and pleaseyesiloveyou. He stumbles backwards, feeling sick. Remus snaps.
“Fuck you, Sirius,” Remus growls, fingernails gripping deep into the flesh of his shoulders, shaking him slightly. “Fuck you for thinking you get to be the one to end this, to say that I’m the traitor. You know shit.”
The heat from Remus’s hands is gone just as quickly as it came and Remus spins on his heels. Sirius doesn’t have the words left to stop him as the door slams shut behind him.
Sirius thinks of long, unexplained absences and conversations with Greyback; he can see how the signs all point to Remus. His head tells him to let Remus go, to sever their relationship now before Remus ruins them all but his heart doesn’t know what to believe.
second of october
Sirius is exhausted; bone-deep, muscle-achingly tired. He’s barely slept in four days and all he wants to do is curl up in his too big, too empty bed and sleep for days. He’s halfway to his bedroom when a hesitant knock stops him in his tracks. He stumbles to the door, peeking through the peephole. He swallows hard, resting his forehead against the door and his fingers shake as they pause, clenching the lock. With the flick of his wrist, the lock turns and his other hand is turning the doorknob, pulling the door in.
“Please,” Remus says, a sob caught in his throat. Remus looks as old as he feels and he doesn’t even think when he wraps his fingers around a thin, bony wrist, pulling an equally fragile boy-man into his home, into his arms.
There are dry, chapped lips pressed against his, desperate and searching. A tongue slips between his lips and Sirius feels like they’re sixteen again, youthful explorers into worlds unknown.
He slips Remus’s T-shirt off as he pushes them towards his bedroom and trips, his foot caught in the leg of his jeans when he tries to shuffle them off as he walks.
“Sirius.” Remus whispers his name like a prayer when he kneels above him, fingers entwined. Sirius’s heart thrums fast and furious in his chest, urgently, full of life. There are hands and mouths and words that speak of promises and a future they can never have.
He knows this isn’t forgiveness. There is nothing either of them can say that can make any of this right. There are still lies and accusations that lay heavy between them. But for now, Sirius catches Remus’s mouth with his and thinks, for just a few moments, they can forget the darkness of the world outside and bathe in the light of the afterglow.
thirty-first of october
They’ve been walking on eggshells around each other for the last few weeks. They murmur hellos and goodbyes in the same breath as their kisses. They don’t bring up Sirius’s suspicion or Remus’s hurt; they only just keep on living.
Remus is taking a sip of his tea when he feels it – a sudden shift in the air, the quiet calm before the storm and his body moves before his mind can make sense of what he knows is true.
Selfish bastard, he thinks as he storms out of his apartment, feet pounding (like his heart in his stomach) down the concrete stairs as he races to the back garden to Apparate to Godric’s Hollow. You blamed me when all along it was you. Remus knows he’s been played the fool.
He finds the house easily now that the secret has been revealed. What he doesn’t expect is to see Sirius cradling James, his body broken like his cracked glasses, hanging off one ear instead of over his wide, unseeing hazel eyes. Sirius is openly weeping, begging for absolution, and all Remus can hear is the ringing in his ears as he rushes towards them and pulls James out of Sirius’s hands. Sirius’s fingers clutch to the back of James’s shirt and he cries, “No, no…it’s all my fault.”
He doesn’t know what he’s done until he feels the sting of split skin along his knuckles and sees Sirius hunched over, his hand pressed flat against his soon-to-be bruised jaw.
“How could you?” Remus screams, hitching James’s body higher, trying to curl himself around his fallen brother, protect him from the acid of Sirius’s pleas. You did this to them, he thinks, but he says, “He was your brother and you betrayed him. And for what?”
Remus watches Sirius fracture, the pieces of his grief giving way to anger. Sirius pulls his wand out and points it straight at Remus.
“What I did? How much did you pay Peter, you fucking traitor? He was the only one who could have told you! I never would have told you if we had stuck to the original plan.”
Remus holds James tighter, rocking slightly as he tries to think through his hysteria. “Peter?” he splutters, not wanting to believe what he’s hearing. “You were their Secret-Keeper – you were the one to betray them!”
Sirius shakes his head before scrambling to his feet. “Fucking Pettigrew,” he snarls, pacing back and forth. “We switched at the last minute. Peter ended up as their Secret-Keeper. It was supposed to be safer.”
Sirius groans and clenches his fists against his thighs, muttering to himself words Remus can’t hear over the pounding of his own heart. The heart he feels sink even further at Sirius’s admission. He lays James down gently, fingertips tenderly sliding his eyelids closed.
“You still thought I was the spy so you didn’t tell me,” he says as he struggles to get to his feet, already feeling older than his twenty-one years.
I am too young, he thinks.
Sirius turns to look at him, tear tracks marring his otherwise young and handsome face. Belatedly, Remus realises this is the first time he’s ever seen Sirius cry in their decade-long friendship.
“I didn’t know,” he replies hoarsely. “It all made sense in my head.”
Remus swallows the betrayal he feels, keeps it stored away beneath layers, and he wraps himself around Sirius, arms secure around him like the ties that hold him together. He feels the awkward bunch of leather as it folds in his hands but he thinks Sirius is here, James is dead, Peter is a rat, and this is real. They stand forehead to forehead, sharing breath, seeking stability from one another.
Remus jerks away suddenly. “Lily? Harry?”
He feels shame wash over him; the guilt eats away at his heart, reminding him that there are still two other bodies they need to find.
Sirius releases a shuddering breath, fingers still holding tightly to the cuff of Remus’s shirt, but he looks around suddenly. “The nursery,” he says, pulling Remus with him as they climb stairs that creak beneath their weight. They see the door, hanging on its hinges and when they cross the threshold, Remus sobs.
His eyes first go to the body sprawled out in front of the crib – the flowing, red hair and the petite form of one of his best friends.
“Oh, Lily,” he breathes, falling to his knees beside her, ripping his sleeve from Sirius’s tight grip. Remus strokes her hair and he half-waits for the moment when her marble-white cheeks flush red from his affection. There is no pulse thrumming beneath the paper-thin skin over her wrist and Remus is almost bowled over by grief. But then he hears Sirius whimper, a strange, unnatural sound and his head snaps up in time to see Sirius lifting Harry from his crib, alive and unharmed except for an oddly shaped burn on his forehead, like a lightning bolt.
“Sirius? I don’t understand how…”
Remus scrambles to his feet and runs his fingertips along Harry’s face, feels flesh and warmth, life coursing its way through this little boy’s body. Harry grips his finger in his chubby hand, looks at him through tears with Lily’s eyes and cries, “Mama.”
Sirius presses his lips to Harry’s head and shushes him. “Uncle Sirius is here,” he reassures him. “I’ll take care of you.” He looks at Remus with fierce determination in his eyes. “I’m going to kill Peter,” he grinds out, stalking out of the nursery with the baby in his arms.
“Sirius, wait!” Remus pleads.
Sirius whips around, a murderous glare aimed at Remus. “Don’t you dare try to stop me,” he hisses. “Not after what he did, not after what he stole from me. I almost lost you too!”
Remus rests his hand against Harry’s back, finds comfort in the fact that the boy is alive, and he kisses Sirius hard and quick, tasting a mixture of their tears on his tongue. “You can’t take Harry with you when you confront Peter,” he says rationally, trying to pull the baby into his arms but Sirius holds tight. “Be reasonable, Sirius.”
Sirius bites his lip and looks down at the boy in his arms, his last remaining tether to the youth of a life he’s about to leave behind.
“Come with me,” he says, cradling Harry closer to him. “We’ll…we need to see Dumbledore, he’ll take care of Harry.”
“Dumbledore won’t let you kill Peter, you know that, Sirius. We can catch him and have him sent to Azkaban – let him rot in hell for what he’s done. Don’t give him the pleasure of a painless death.”
“I wasn’t planning on making it painless,” Sirius replies darkly.
“Let the Dementors take care of him,” Remus argues. “I don’t want you to go to Azkaban either.”
They both still when they hear the crunch of heavy footsteps treading through the debris downstairs. Sirius shoots Remus a glance as he pulls his wand from his back pocket, pausing in the doorway to listen. He cocks his head towards the stairs and Remus slinks past him, shielding Harry from the intruder. He makes his way to the first landing and peeks over the railing, sighing in relief at the bulky, intimidating form of Hagrid.
“Hagrid!” he cries, motioning for Sirius to bring Harry as they make their way downstairs to greet the half-giant.
“Remus, Sirius,” Hagrid says, looking surprised to see them there. “Blimey, ‘t’s Harry!” He begins to sob loudly at the sight of the boy. “I didn’t want ter believe it when Dumbledore heard the rumours but he sent me to check on things.”
“Hagrid,” Sirius says, urgently. “We need you to take Harry to Dumbledore for us. Remus and I have some business to attend to.” He shares a dark look with Remus. “Tell Dumbledore we’ll be back for Harry soon. Make that clear.”
“Where are yeh goin?”
“Peter was the Potters’ Secret-Keeper. You make that clear to Dumbledore,” Remus says as Sirius says goodbye to Harry. “He needs to be found and sent to Azkaban for their murder.”
He knows no conviction can bring Lily and James back; there will be no relief from the constant ache of guilt and grief.
“Don’ do anythin’ stupid,” Hagrid says, looking at them worriedly.
“Of course we won’t,” Sirius replies easily, handing the baby to Remus so he can also say goodbye. “We have to come back for our godson. You can borrow my motorbike,” Sirius offers once Remus has given Hagrid his precious cargo. “It’ll be easier and safer to travel.”
Hagrid sniffles when he looks down at Harry. “It’s a miracle, isn’ it?”
Sirius looks at the boy fondly, long enough for Remus to see the crack in his raging façade. There is a quiet desperation, a longing for something not quite in their reach.
“We should go,” Remus murmurs into Sirius’s ear.
Sirius nods jerkily. “You should go too, Hagrid. Get Harry to Dumbledore safely.”
“Be safe,” Hagrid says, as he bundles the boy up, placing him carefully into the sidecar and straddles the motorbike.
“You too,” Remus replies and they wait, and watch, as Hagrid takes Harry farther away from them leaving behind nothing but the smell of diesel.
“He’ll be okay,” Sirius says, mostly to reassure himself.
Remus sighs and looks around the wreckage of what used to be home. “How are we going to find him?” he asks, suddenly overwhelmed at the idea.
Sirius grins with too many straight, white teeth, and Remus is reminded of a Marauder and a youth he longs to relive. “We are mapmakers, aren’t we?”
With a final goodbye, on bended knees at the feet of their fallen leader and his beautiful wife, they speak of prayers and revenge and love.
“We need to go now,” Remus says gently, his hand resting on Sirius’s shoulder. Sirius’s eyes slide shut and he squeezes James’s cold, unmoving hand before he rises.
They Apparate back to Remus’s apartment to create a battle plan because James and Lily may be dead but they are still soldiers and there’s a war that needs to be fought.
Armed with quills and bodies bowed over the small kitchen table in Remus’s apartment, they weave enchantments into their words and coax magic from the parchment.
“There he is,” Sirius mutters low in his ear, pointing to the quick moving dot on the hastily created map.
“Should we wait?” Remus wonders, watching the dot pause on its course. “By the time we get there he might be gone.”
Sirius stands behind him, wraps an arm around his waist, fingers hot against his hip. Remus can feel him shake his head, his long hair tickling Remus’s ear. “We need to hit him now, hit him hard. He probably doesn’t think anyone has found out yet about what’s happened so he won’t be expecting us.”
“Okay,” Remus agrees. “Let’s go.”
He turns but is pinned to the table by Sirius’s long arms. “Sirius?” he asks, allowing his eyes to roam freely over Sirius’s pinched face. He raises his hand and cups Sirius’s cheek, rubbing his thumb along his lower lip. Sirius nuzzles Remus’s hand, presses lips to his palm, and he murmurs words of apologies along lifelines.
Remus sees the grey in Sirius’s eyes, like overcast London skies, and he lets his hand fall, closing the distance between their lips.
“I’m sorry,” Sirius says again and then, “I love you.”
The apology doesn’t soothe the burn caused by the betrayal but for now, it’s enough. For now, he feels ready to face battle, like he can do anything when Sirius is at his side. It’s the folly of young men, he thinks. We often believe we’re immortal. But he has borne witness to death and he no longer fears it; he knows it is not his time, not yet.
“I love you,” he says in return, fingers caught in the fabric of Sirius’s shirt as he tries to pull Sirius closerstill as if they could mould and bend together as one.
“Let’s do this,” Sirius says, and the grin is back – sharp and dangerous like those hurtful words that spill forth during moments of grief and anger.
When they stumble out the building’s front door, Remus is only half-surprised when he sees Moody and Frank waiting for them.
“Word travels fast,” Sirius says.
“Dumbledore has eyes and ears everywhere,” Frank admits.
“How did you think you’d get Pettigrew into Azkaban?” Moody barks. “You need witnesses and someone with authority.”
Sirius eyes him warily. “But you’ll let us catch him, right? We deserve to, after what he’s done to us.”
“We’ll be watching,” Frank says quietly, looking around at the few people still wandering the streets this late at night. “We should move quickly.”
“Do you know where Pettigrew is located?” Moody questions, his voice gruff.
Sirius nods and pulls the map out of his jacket pocket. Moody’s eyebrows rise as he examines the parchment.
“You made this?” Frank asks, his tone coloured with disbelief.
“I thought we had to move quickly,” Sirius snaps. “Let’s go, before he moves.”
“Right. Do you all know nearby places to Apparate too?” Moody asks.
They all nod and follow Remus to the back garden where they can Apparate without any onlookers. With four resounding cracks, the garden behind Remus’s apartment is empty once more.
Remus hates Apparating. He doesn’t like the feel of being fragmented and sent across time and space, only to be put back together again as his feet touch the ground. It’s dizzy and disorienting but the fastest way to travel. He stumbles slightly, not unlike when he landed in Godric’s Hollow only a few short hours ago – and really, was it only that long ago? he wonders – except this time he has Sirius’s hand on his shoulder to steady him.
“Are you ready?” Sirius asks as he fingers his wand.
Remus lets out a shaky breath as his own fingers fondle the warm wood of his wand that thrums with life and magic. “Are you?” he counters, not sure of his own answer.
Sirius looks at him seriously, frowning. “He deserves this, Remus. You know he does.”
“I know, I know,” he replies, hands shaking slightly. “I just...it’s hard to understand what could have motivated him to do this to us, to James and Lily and Harry. Who does that?”
Sirius shakes his head. “We’re about to find out.”
Frank and Moody remain a block behind them, blending in easily with the shadows, as they make their way towards the cross streets they last saw Peter’s dot. They spot him easily enough pacing in front of a storefront muttering to himself.
“Peter,” Sirius says, stepping under the light of the street lamp. Remus remains in the shadows of an adjacent building.
Peter starts and turns to face his old friend. “S-Sirius!” he exclaims, stuttering slightly, shoving his hand into his pocket. “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t play games with me,” Sirius snarls, stalking towards him. Peter pulls his hand out and points his wand at Sirius with an unsteady hand.
“Don’t come any closer,” Peter says, backing up towards the storefront. “I’ll kill you, you know I will.”
Sirius barks a laugh. “Oh, I know how easy it is for you to kill your friends. Lily and James? How could you, Peter?”
Peter looks around and Remus knows he’s looking for an escape.
“No one will believe you,” Peter retorts. Remus starts to see a little of the boy who betrayed his best friends and he wonders when it was they began to fail him. “You were meant to be the Secret-Keeper. Who would believe that I would betray the Potters? Poor, pathetic Pettigrew,” he spits. “You don’t understand the power of the Dark Lord. I did what I had to do to survive.”
“So you admit to feeding Voldemort information about the Order’s missions and betraying Lily and James?”
Peter laughs. “Of course I do! You and I both know the truth now, but who will believe you when it comes down to it?”
“I will,” Remus says as he finally reveals himself.
Peter looks frightened when he realises his cover is blown. “Remus, my dear friend,” he says, grinning uneasily. “You...you couldn’t possibly believe that I...”
“Oh, I believe it,” Remus interrupts. “The Dementors at Azkaban will believe it to.”
Peter gasps. “You wouldn’t,” he seethes. “You have no proof!”
He raises his wand to cast a curse but Sirius is faster and disarms him with a quick, “Expelliarmus!”
Peter’s eyes dart between the remaining half of the Marauders and reaches inside his pocket, pulling out another wand.
“I’ll kill you both and no one will know the truth,” he cries, hysterical now as both Remus and Sirius have their wands trained on him.
“Two against one, Peter,” Sirius taunts. “You really want to take that bet?”
“Just surrender,” Remus implores. “If we kill you, it won’t be quick or painless. What would you rather choose?”
Peter continues looking for an escape, but Remus knows they have him cornered; they’ll kill him before he has the chance to move. Remus almost drops his wand in shock when Peter disappears into thin air but then Sirius lets loose a feral, angry cry as he raises his wand, rushing towards the alley between stores. With a flick of his wrist, Peter is human again and Sirius is on top of him, punching him hard in the face.
“Sirius!” Remus cries, launching himself onto Sirius and trying to pull him off of Peter.
“Where’s your Gryffindor courage now?” Sirius is growling, struggling to pull his arms from Remus’s grip. But then Moody and Frank are there and they’re pulling Peter from underneath him, grabbing Peter’s arms and legs and murmuring incantations to bind them together.
“Whose wand are you carrying now?” Moody asks as he holds Peter’s disarmed wand in one hand while his other rests on Peter’s shoulder, keeping him on his knees. Remus recognizes the chestnut wood of Peter’s first wand, but not the long yew wand Frank has confiscated from Peter’s pocket.
Moody looks at it suspiciously. “Isn’t this You-Know-Who’s wand?”
“What?” Frank exclaims, looking warily at the wand in his hand.
“What are you doing with this wand, Pettigrew?” Moody demands, shaking Peter roughly.
“I don’t know what happened!” Peter sobs as he grapples at the hem of Moody’s robes. “When I got to the Potters’ house, I found his wand but nothing else and that baby alive with nothing more than a scratch. He’s gone. I don’t know what happened,” he repeats.
“You-Know-Who is gone?” Frank asks dumbfounded. “Impossible.”
“We need to confirm with Dumbledore,” Moody murmurs, tightening his grip on Peter’s shoulder as he hauls him to his feet. “Let’s go see what the Dementors think of you, Pettigrew.” He turns to face Sirius and Remus and says, “Good work, the both of you. Dumbledore’s waiting for you with the boy.”
They nod as they clasp hands with Frank and thank them for their help.
“Rot in hell, you fucking traitor,” Sirius spits as Moody drags Peter away.
“Let’s go, Sirius,” Remus mumbles, suddenly feeling exhausted. “Moody has him now.”
They both stumble up the path towards the front doors when they Apparate outside the gates of Hogwarts. The castle glows like a beacon in the dark and Remus feels like a wanderer, finally finding his way home.
Dumbledore is waiting for them on the front steps. He ushers them inside the doors and Remus finally allows himself a moment to breathe. Professor McGonagall is waiting just inside, wringing her hands anxiously.
“The babe is asleep in the infirmary,” she says when Sirius shoots her a questioning look. He nods and Remus can see the slump in his shoulders as he releases the weight of what has happened tonight.
“Have you heard about Voldemort?” Remus asks, seeking confirmation, wondering if the war could really be over.
“From all accounts I’ve heard it appears that the spell Voldemort used to kill Harry rebounded back on him. Voldemort has been defeated.”
Remus thinks he should feel elation at the news but all he can feel is an overwhelming sense of loss. What sacrifices we make for those we love, he muses.
“And Harry? Is he okay?” Sirius enquires.
“Harry is fine,” Dumbledore assures him. “Exhausted by the night’s events as I’m sure you are as well. Come along, Poppy has some extra beds for you.”
They shuffle their way up the staircase, following closely behind Dumbledore.
“What happens now?” Remus wonders aloud when they reach the infirmary doors.
“We celebrate and we mourn and we continue to live, just as we always have,” Dumbledore replies, opening the door into the dimly lit room.
Remus sees the cot and stops himself from rushing over there to check on the baby. Sirius doesn’t have the same restraint and almost reaches the cot until Madam Pomfrey seemingly appears out of thin air, shushing him. “You wake the baby and I’ll hex you into tomorrow,” she threatens. “You both need your rest too. You can see him in the morning.”
Sirius opens his mouth to protest but one glare from the matronly woman and he falls silent.
“What will you do with the boy?” McGonagall asks, addressing Dumbledore.
“What do you mean?” Sirius demands. “He’s going home with me and Remus. End of story.”
“Sirius, please,” McGonagall says, patting his arm.
“I believe it is in the best interest of the boy to go live with his aunt and uncle in Surrey. To have the chance to grow up in a world where no one knows his name. I am thinking, of course, of Harry’s safety. Don’t you want to keep the child safe?”
“No!” Sirius exclaims. “I am his godfather. Don’t send him off to live with his Muggle family. They’ll want nothing to do with him!”
“Sirius ...” Dumbledore starts.
“Harry will be coming home with me,” Sirius declares in a tone of voice that drips with nobility and privilege.
Dumbledore purses his lips and shares a look with McGonagall. “Very well,” he agrees. “Now, off to bed with the both of you before Poppy has my head. We’ll discuss details in the morning.”
The two professors leave them to rest, and Remus is only standing there for a second before he’s wrapped up in Sirius’s arms. He sighs and buries his face in the crook of Sirius’s neck. The exhaustion is catching up to him and he finds himself struggling to stand. Sirius leads him over to a bed by the window and pushes him down onto the mattress.
“Wait here,” Sirius says. He slips his leather jacket off and tosses it on a nearby chair then walks over to the cot, lifting Harry into his arms. He glances quickly at Madam Pomfrey’s door, half-waiting for her to realise he’s taken the baby. He breathes a sigh of relief when she doesn’t come and Harry stirs a little but settles in quickly, when Sirius curls up next to Remus on the narrow mattress.
“There isn’t enough room,” Remus protests half-heartedly, his body already curving to make room for Sirius’s body.
“Shh,” Sirius murmurs, leaning over to press a sloppy open-mouthed kiss on his lips. “Let’s just sleep,” he slurs, resting Harry’s head against his chest and pulling Remus to curl up against his side.
Remus makes a noise in the back of his throat but buries his face into the softness of Sirius’s well-worn T-shirt. He doesn’t fall asleep, not until he hears Sirius inhale deeply and take a stuttering breath marking his descent into sleep.
Exhaustion makes Remus’s body ache and he wants to blame it for the pain in his heart but he knows that nothing but grief resides there – a hurt that will never heal.
I am too young, he thinks, but then, I am old enough.
They fought as soldiers, but they will die as men. For now, though, they are but mere children burdened by loss and a responsibility neither of them are ready for. He breathes deeply, taking in the scent of sweat and Sirius. Harry whimpers in his sleep and Remus feels warm tears slip beneath his eyelids, rolling down his cheek.
He stares at the clock on the far wall, unable to sleep, and he realises that it’s November now. He wonders how time has continued to move on when he feels like his entire world has been on pause.
“Remus?” Sirius mumbles and Remus hastily swipes at his eyes. Sirius grabs his wrist and presses lips to his fingertips. “You’ve been crying.”
“I thought you were sleeping,” Remus replies lamely.
Sirius looks down at the baby asleep on his chest and then at Remus before he makes his decision. He slides out from beneath Remus’s arm and carries Harry back to his cot before climbing back into the bed and curling his body around Remus’s so they are spooning.
They don’t say a word to each other, and the silence lays over them, thick and heavy like a warm blanket.
“We can’t take care of a baby, Sirius,” Remus finally says. “Harry should be raised by his mother and father. This isn’t fair.”
Remus feels a rumble deep in Sirius’s chest. “It isn’t fair. Harry lost his parents and we lost some our best friends and Christ, I could have lost you. I feel like my world has fallen apart. It’s going to hurt like a bitch to move on but we have each other, you know? I feel like I can do anything when I’m with you,” he admits.
“But how can we take care of Harry? We have nothing.”
Sirius kisses the back of his head and squeezes him tighter. “We have love. Isn’t that enough for now?”
Remus swallows hard and closes his eyes, resting his overheated skin against cool cotton. He wraps his hand around Sirius’s forearm and holds tightly. He turns his head backwards and Sirius meets him halfway as they share a sweet kiss. He exhales. “It’s enough.” A pause, then, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Sirius replies easily, with no hesitation. This time there are no angry accusations or the bitter sting of betrayal. There are no apologies. There is only love, trying to keep two boys and a baby from falling apart.
And for now, it’s enough.
Author's Note: Thank you to: Violet Gryfindor for the absolutely gorgeous banner; academica, NaidatheRavenclaw and HJ Weasley for hand-holding and encouragement; and TenthWeasley for her speedy beta job. Credit to Yeats once again for the beginning quote - just for you Noblevyne! Hope you enjoyed. :)
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