TITLE: Hope Failing
PAIRING: Remus/Sirius, implied Sirius/Fabian, Remus/Tonks
SUMMARY: But it crept, silent, insidious, back into his mind, and he had to think about it. Had to remember the crumpled body, the staring deathful eyes, the ruin of dreams and plans and...Yes, he thought, his eyelids too heavy to open. It had been the ruin of hope.
Word Count: 10,050
AUTHOR'S NOTES: first try at tonks. (contains spoilers for PoA, OotP, HBP)
WARNINGS: implied character deaths
He walked into the parlour at Grimmauld Place, his face grey with exhaustion, dark fear in his eyes. He could not remember ever feeling so old, so defeated.
And the War, the real fight, was hardly begun.
He just wanted to sleep, to sleep and try to forget it all for a while. He closed his eyes.
Soft, scuffling sounds of doxies in the curtains. There hadn't been enough spare time since the Order had come back to Grimmauld Place to rid it of pests again. He supposed he should organise something, Harry would be back here soon...
Even the name was enough to bring it all back--the shock and fury curdling inside him, smell of blood in the corridor, sight of Bill, lying there unmoving.
He remembered recognising the telltale signs of Greyback, helpless rills of fury and fear sliding through him until his wand had come up of its own accord.
Like a switch, his wand going up had shut off the memories, useless paralysing memories, and he had fought.
They had all fought, for what good it had done them.
And when they'd gathered around Dumbledore--
He felt the scream bubbling up in his throat, clamped down hard.
He couldn't think about it right now.
Wouldn't think about it right now.
But it crept, silent, insidious, back into his mind, and he had to think about it. Had to remember the crumpled body, the staring deathful eyes, the ruin of dreams and plans and...
Yes, he thought, his eyelids too heavy to open. It had been the ruin of hope.
On the heels of that thought came another, equally dangerous.
Too weak to resist it, falling into despair, he sat silent as the lock clicked open on memory and the world slid away. He saw it all, all over again.
Eyes sparkling, black hair ruffled by the wind, Sirius pelted up the boys' stairs, laughing wildly as he ran. It wasn't until he reached his dormitory that he slowed, coming to a comic-book stop just outside the door, his laughter dying to an irrepressible grin that was, if exhausting in its relentless good cheer, at least silent.
He pushed the door open and saw that Remus had, indeed, made it back from the Hospital Wing. He was lying in bed, staring at the hangings on his four-poster, looking pale and grey and as though something had been chewing on him vigorously.
Remus looked over as Sirius walked inside, and that grin--which Sirius always thought of, rather incoherently, as the moonygrin, the one that always seemed to slide onto Remus's face when Sirius was around--curved his lips upward.
'Moony,' Sirius announced, now that the need for quiet was over, since Moony was back and he was awake, 'you really should have been there. It worked like a Charm--well, that makes sense, it was a charm after all--and they went flying into the Forest like a bunch of ickle firsties with Snape on their heels.' He threw his head back and roared with laughter, then settled at the foot of Remus's bed. The moonygrin, he saw, was wider, making those tired brown-gold eyes sparkle faintly. 'The Disappearing Powder was perfect. They didn't know what hit them. And they probably still don't.' He laughed some more.
Flushed with triumph and the fact that he'd run all the way from the quidditch pitch, once the prank on the Slytherin team was done, in order to have the chance to be the first to tell Moony, he stretched out across the foot of the bed. Avoiding the half-hearted kick Moony sent his way out of habit was easy; Moony was predictable that way. He grinned at Remus, found the moonygrin gone, and felt his own grin fading.
'Swrong, Moony?' he asked, sitting up again, crawling up the bed to stretch out beside Remus. He didn't know why, but he loved Moony's bed, somehow more comfortable than his own. The fact that Remus was always in it when it felt more comfortable was something he understood and embraced fully. The fact that Remus had never encouraged, or discouraged, him from lying there half the night did not bother him in the slightest. Moony might not be big on brawling, but he knew how to make his wishes known when he chose.
Sirius gave a snort. It was his classic excuse, a good one to hide behind because, as he and Remus both knew, it was generally true for at least the first few days after the full moon. Inspired, he cuddled up next to Remus, feeling how thin and shivery Moony was even through the blankets, feeling Moony stiffen as Sirius's arms went around him.
Sirius laughed. Felt Moony trying to inch away, and knew damned well that he wouldn't be trying that if he wasn't extremely uncomfortable. When holding him tighter didn't seem to keep Moony from working on sliding away, Sirius did the next most likely thing. He threw his leg over Moony's thighs.
And felt the reason for Moony's tension, hard and hot even through the blankets, brush his thigh.
Delighted, he beamed down at Moony, laughing at his strangled stare. 'Moony,' he said, leaning down to kiss him, 'd'you think I lie on your bed all the time just because it's comfortable, you git?'
Moony apparently had, if his shocked expression was any indication. Even more delighted, Sirius debated with himself energetically, won, and slid under the covers with Moony.
With naked Moony.
That was like winning the Daily Prophet draw, and getting an extra sackful of galleons to go with your prize, Sirius thought cheerfully, leaned in, and did what he'd wanted to do for months and months. He kissed Moony, who went limp, unprotesting, then began to kiss him back. Sirius could tell Moony hadn't been expecting this, hadn't been prepared for it, likely hadn't even realised the reason behind his own moonygrin. That didn't bother Sirius at all. He'd never known anyone who needed love more than he himself did, unless it was Moony. He was more than happy to share a bit--or a lot--of what he had with his Moony.
His fingers slid down from Moony's cheek to his shoulder to his chest, and he heard Moony give a muffled groan. Smiling, pressing his lips firmly on Moony's, letting his tongue roam, Sirius let his fingers roam lower, over quivering belly muscles and the sweet slight curve of Moony's hip, around to his cock. He swallowed Moony's moan, and after a long comfortable time exploring--comfortable for him, at least--he let his fingers squeeze.
Moony's hips bucked foward, his back arching, his eyes meeting Sirius's frantically in the twilit room. Sirius smiled, deepened the kiss, and pressed his own throbbing erection against Moony's thigh.
And Moony's hand slid beneath his robes, found him hard and hot and throbbing, and caressed him rather tentatively.
It was heaven.
Sirius groaned, enthusiastically, overdone, and felt Moony's lips twitch beneath his own as they kissed. The groan he wrung from Moony seconds later was entirely heartfelt and equally enthusiastic, but characteristically quieter than his own had been. He could feel Moony trembling with need, and with exhaustion, and squeezed harder. Slower. Felt Moony begin to shudder against his palm, then the shuddering spread over his whole body, beautiful and slim and wracked with desire.
Sirius slid his lips away and over, until they were nearly touching Moony's ear.
'Come for me, Moony. Please,' he said, because he knew that Remus would fight it, unless he knew that Sirius wanted it. And he did. He propped himself on his elbow, his other hand moving with patientexcited slow strokes, until Moony gave a great shudder and his back arched, his fingers clenched, and that was all Sirius saw, lost in his own climax.
When it was over and he'd tidied them up, but before Moony got around to thinking--Sirius wanted to avoid that at any cost--Sirius prodded Moony over onto his side and, slipping out of his robes, pressed up against his back. Felt the warm, firm, strangely soft body against his own, that silky brown hair tickling his forehead, Moony's arms sliding over his when he wrapped them around Moony's waist. And when Remus, relaxed beyond anything he could remember, had drifted off to sleep, Sirius kissed his back gently and closed his eyes, falling asleep himself.
Remus, a bit unnerved at the idea of dreaming anything from not only his own point of view but from Sirius's as well, wanted out. But he was so tired, so incredibly weary that he couldn't seem to find the energy. So tired...
Sirius woke when James, back from Quidditch practice, dumped his things on the bed in what was clearly an attempt to let someone know he was there before he saw anything too embarrassing. He sat up, rubbing his eyes, sheets pooled at his waist, and James made a pained sound. Sirius snickered.
'Come on Prongs, nothing you haven't got,' he said cheerfully, but decided to play along, grabbing for his discarded robes on the floor and working them over his head, still fastened. It gave him at least a semblance of being respectably dressed as he crawled over to the foot of the bed and sat down facing James.
James looked at him, looked very closely while Moony slept on, dead to the world, and the pink in his cheeks faded. 'You're mad about him.'
Sirius, cheerful that he'd figured this out before James, nodded. 'Utterly,' he said without a trace of embarrassment, and James grinned.
'And you didn't just overpower him into it?' James asked. Moony, at the moment, didn't look capable of fighting off a gnat, though he sure as hell looked a great deal more peaceful than he generally did the day after the full moon.
'I might have,' Sirius said, his I-sincerely-considered-it tone making James snort with laughter. 'But he got a little ornery with me when I climbed on his bed. And guess why?' He waggled his eyebrows comically, and both of them grinned at each other, that same devil-may-care grin that they'd shared since the first day they'd met, when they were six.
'Good show, Padfoot,' James said after a long, silent conversation of looks and head-shakes. 'Really good show.' Then he frowned thoughtfully, and asked, 'so what about all those girls you've been after for the last six-and-a-half years, and those girls Moony--'
'Merlin, Prongs, what do you think, you've to make the Unbreakable Vow and declare yourself or something?' Sirius drawled, and James burst into loud surprised laughter that had Remus pushing himself groggily to a sitting position. And Sirius looking back at him so quickly, with such raw concern, that James's laughter trailed of into a stunned gaping silence.
''Bout time you woke up, lazy git,' James managed, in a voice so much like his own regular voice that it drew him an approving grin from Sirius. 'Did Padfoot tell you about the Slytherin team?'
Remus, never quick to wake up under the best of circumstances, yawned and nodded. His grin, the moonygrin, was back, and it made Sirius smile. 'Di'n't say what happened after,' he mumbled, then seemed to realise that James couldn't not know what had just happened. Sirius was clearly naked beneath his school robes, and Remus himself was naked in his bed. His eyes searched James's face, seeming more curious than anything, and Sirius chuckled.
'You ought to get shagged more often after full moons,' James said after a long comfortable silence. 'You've got some colour in your face, that's new. And good, I guess.' Remus snorted. James grinned, then went on. 'Though your taste is questionable--'
Sirius launched himself off the bed and knocked James off his feet. They went skidding over James's bed and crashed onto the floor on the other side, laughing and shouting as they fell.
Sirius's head popped into view around the corner of James's four-poster. ''S all right, Moony, I'll get him for that insult to your honour,' he managed, before a hand in his hair pulled him back out of view, rather violently, to the sound of renewed scuffling.
Remus laughed and found his robes, getting dressed while they wrestled, made his bed, sent Sirius' clothes floating, neatly folding themselves as they went, onto his bed. He sat down on the foot of his bed, leaning against the post, and felt the silly grin spreading over his face again. Heard, as though through a tunnel, Sirius's voice, cheerfully mocking: what do you think, you've to make the Unbreakable Vow and declare yourself or something. He started laughing again, so hard he had to hold onto the bedpost or fall off the bed entirely.
Eventually Sirius and James, tiring of the game or simply becoming too hungry to continue, popped up from the floor. James's hair was wild and dust-covered--Remus imagined they'd rolled under the beds again-- and his glasses were hanging askew, one lens cracked. His robes were pulled half-off, and he looked as though he might be about to discover that his eye had been blacked. Sirius looked like a madman, robes half-unfastened with a rip down the side-seam, hair standing up in great dusty clumps, barefoot and grinning.
'Er...you'll want to at least fasten up before dinner, Padfoot,' Remus said, biting his lip against laughter when Sirius looked down to find himself giving quite the show. Not the sort of thing he'd have wanted to do unwittingly, at least. The three of them snorted with laughter, and James and Sirius took turns pointing their wands at each other to fix the damage. Once his robes were repaired as best as James could manage, Sirius pulled his trousers, shirt, and tie on, sliding them beneath his robes. Once they were all more-or-less acceptably dressed, they headed downstairs to meet Peter, held after Transfiguration, for dinner.
Remus shifted, or tried to, in his seat, trying to snap himself out of memories. He didn't want to think about Sirius now, to remember him as the laughing, irrepressibly cheerful, lovably reckless, impossibly full-of-fun young man he'd been. Nor as the haunted, dangerously reckless, courageously risk-taking man he'd become.
Couldn't wake up...something...stopping him...forcing him...hurting...
Memory swirled and pulled him back down, fighting every step of the way.
Arriving, soot-blackened and sweat-stained and impossibly tired, at Sirius's flat, they unlocked the door with their wands at the same time, walked inside, and collapsed on the battered sofa.
'Merlin, Moony, I don't know how we have a chance sometimes,' he said, tugging at his robes, loosing a cascade of soot and brickdust onto the sofa and the floor.
Remus just sat there, head back, staring at the ceiling. The only chance they all had was to fight, he knew that, believed it. Believed they could win. But today...the bodies... He shook his head, sneezed as dust settled around his face, and sighed harshly as the images came flooding back--the Prewetts, both of them, among the ruins of the flat they'd shared in Diagon Alley; the screams and cries of injured witches and wizards, the tears of eyewitnesses recalling had happened.
Their lifeless eyes, staring up at a sky they could no longer see, the Dark Mark reflected in the flat shine of their eyes, drawn in eerie green flashes.
He shuddered. Felt Sirius draw closer. Leaned in, grateful.
'It took five of them,' Sirius said dully, with dark and grieving pride. 'If I go, that's how I want it to happen. I want to take as many with me as I can.' He drummed his fingers on his thigh, eyes closed, and Remus felt him shiver. 'I want to make them work for it.'
Remus let him ramble on, knowing because they had sat like this, felt like this before, that it would be a good long while before Sirius felt able to turn off the words that were pouring jinx-quick out of him. He wanted to take the most important ones down. He wanted to take down the ones who had killed Gideon and Fabian.
And he stopped.
Remus heard something different, something tortured, in the way Sirius said Fabian's name. And his arm went around Sirius, because he understood. They weren't exclusive, and never had been, Sirius and he. They'd never intended to be, never needed to be.
It wasn't like James and Lily, or Frank and Alice, between the two of them. Didn't need to be. There had been others for Sirius since that day in their seventh year--Remus knew it, had even seen it firsthand. There had been others for Remus--more, frankly, than he'd ever suspected possible, as he was a poor werewolf with shabby mended robes and no job. It had never mattered to him, just as it had never mattered to Sirius, whether they were men or women. If they loved him, it was enough. So he understood in a way he doubted anyone else could. He pulled Sirius close.
And Sirius wept, shocking them both.
It went from soul-deep grieving to soul-deep desire in seconds, in the time it took for Remus to brush Sirius's hair back off of his face, in the time it took for Sirius, his cheeks wet with tears, his eyes red, to reach out. Remus felt the protest of springs through threadbare cushions, though his thin robes, as Sirius pressed him down onto his back, clambered on top with an utter lack of grace that only underscored his current lack of control.
Then he was ripping at Remus's robes, at his own, in an attempt to get them both naked as quickly as possible. Remus simply lay there and let him, because Sirius's expression, his eyes like storm clouds, his concentrated frenzy, suggested that any interference on Remus's part would not be taken well. And then they were naked, warm skin against warm skin, Sirius hot and hard and desperate against him, Sirius's mouth warm and demanding on his skin, his own cock pulsing with frantic need as Sirius's mouth devoured him. His climax was quick and violent, and utterly unfulfilling. And even as he lay, dazed from the sharpness of it, he felt Sirius move, heard whispered words and felt the spell begin to work. Felt the solid invasion of himself, physical and mental, that was Sirius pressing into him.
He was whispering something Remus couldn't hear, over and over, tears still slipping down his cheeks as he pressed gently forward, as he found his limit, shifted, and leaned forward to let Remus's arms circle him. And in the panting moveless stillness, Remus finally heard him: couldhavebeenmyMoonycouldhavebeencouldha
Those eyes, those shadows-in-the-rain eyes, so deep and secret, fixed on his again.
'It wasn't,' Remus said softly.
'Could have been,' Sirius said, his voice cracking, his body stilling for a moment.
'But it wasn't, Padfoot. I'm here.'
'You're...here,' he repeated, and some dark and horrible wall seemed to collapse behind his eyes, so that a weak but steady light shone through.
'If I'm not, you've got bigger problems than that motorbike,' Remus managed, between pants, and was rewarded by the deep, surprised laugh that jolted them both into movement again, by Sirius's hips, which moved smoothly again, with great certainty and greater grace. By Sirius's mouth, no longer busy mouthing that despairing refrain, and by Sirius's eyes, which had lost their dull, shocked sheen and were fixed, locked on Remus's own as Sirius took them both over the edge.
And they lay there, brickdust-streaked and filthy, Sirius on his side with his head resting on Remus's chest, when it was over. And they both felt despair had been pushed far enough away from them.
That there was hope enough for them to be able to win this War, somehow, despite all they'd lost.
He stirred, trying to claw his way out of memory.
A voice, muttering a particularly filthy curse, one that Sirius would have added to his own inventory instantly on hearing it, he thought dazedly. Tried to wake himself up. Found that he was still trapped.
A loud clack!.
Footsteps returning. Sound of a chair being dragged over the floor, feel of a soft hand in his, holding tightly.
That voice again, hissing softly.
'Remus, you bloody great idiot! Sitting down in this parlour, didn't we warn you only this morning about the fact we were cleaning it last night and left it half-done? Would you wake up?'
He tried, but where he'd once felt too heavy to move, he now felt weightless and uncaring. He didn't mind it so much, this floaty feeling. He tried to smile, to show it was all fine with him.
Reluctant laughter, which sounded closer now than it had a moment ago. 'Oh, you're going to have a headache that bad, Lupin, when you wake up. What sort of a Defence professor sits down beside an open box of Dream Dust? You great thick idiot.' But the voice sounded amused now, and he thought that it was a nice voice, there was caring in it, he leaned toward it, because that was nice. The caring...
He felt himself floating, truly floating then, heard the voice reassuring him that he would be just fine after a long nap, though he would likely still be a bloody great idiot. He still thought it was nice, and when he felt himself being lowered onto a bed, sheets coming up to cover him, he tried to kiss the voice. Missed.
Tried to place it in his memory, muzzily, because he was drifting to sleep again.
He didn't know who it was, but he knew what it had sounded like.
It had sounded like love.
He considered changing his opinion when he woke hours later to a headache like a bass drum pounding inside his skull. The voice was there, next to his ear, but it was accompanied by a strong hand that grabbed his hair and tilted his head back, and another that poured potion down his throat until he nearly choked on it. He sputtered, and once he'd caught his breath again, the process was repeated.
Four measures of potion later, he opened his eyes warily to find Tonks sitting in a chair beside his bed, grinning at him with far more amusement than he felt should be strictly legal in situations like this. 'You might have just woken me and given me the potion. In a cup. That I could hold,' he said, feeling absolutely undignified and an utter idiot.
She grinned at him, her eyes sparkling in the dim light. Or maybe that was the potion. 'Well, it's no fun for me that way, and if I'm going to go brewing up last-minute antidotes, I ought to get something out of it.'
He sighed, and would have rolled his eyes, but his heart just wasn't in it. The floaty feeling was gone, or at least it was going away bit by bit, as small pieces of reality started weighing down on him. 'He's really dead, then?' he asked, and for a moment he wasn't sure whether he meant Sirius or Dumbledore.
'He is.' She left it at that, and from the expression on her face it was because she couldn't say more without crying. Such a lovely tough woman, young woman, he corrected himself, because that first thought had been all too comfortable rolling around in his brain. He reminded himself, almost desperately: you're poor, you're a werewolf, you're dangerous, you're far too old for her.
But he could feel the pull of the love coming from her, and he knew he wouldn't be able to fight it.
Didn't want to.
He was trying, for her sake, because he knew that the reasons he'd come up with should have mattered to both of them.
But the siren-song of love offered had always been his greatest weakness.
He sat up slowly, his head whirling a few times before he managed to find a spot to focus on, before the world finally righted. She scooted her chair closer, he saw, amused, as though she were either trying to bring it into the bed with her--she was nearly close enough to manage it now--or as though she thought he might pitch forward on his face in need of rescuing. He smiled at her, and the unlikeliest thing happened--the tips of her ears turned bright red. He could see it even in the firelight from the hearth. It made him smile.
The feeling of love offered was stronger now, by far. It had grown since that day, two summers ago, when he'd first met her at Grimmauld Place, but then he'd been distracted and worried about Sirius, and he had been able to pretend he hadn't noticed it. It had been in the first shock of Sirius's death that he'd realised how strong it had gotten, how seductively the call had become.
He might succumb to it--had already, if he was going to be honest about it--but he wouldn't be led to some surrender like a child, and he would not be coddled into it. He wouldn't be argued into it by Molly Weasley, who knew how to get beneath his skin like even his own mother hadn't. He wouldn't be humoured into it. Merlin knew he felt old enough, when compared to her, without being treated like Nymphadora Tonk's senile grandfather who had to be humoured into doing the right thing.
Besides, it was a lot of fun to irritate her and watch her overreact. She was beautiful when she was angry or when she was doing something she shouldn't have been--the way she got all pink and her eyes seemed to shoot sparks. He could recognise quality troublemaking, and quality temper, from a hundred paces. He'd been trained in that, after all, by two experts in causing irritation and mischief. He had excellent standards--among the finest, if he were going to avoid false modesty--even when there was so much love being offered him that it made him feel twenty years younger and a great deal less grey. As though he were being given a second chance on life.
His eyes sparkling, he let the siren-song surround him, fill him, breathed it in like a smell, and let his head fall, as though something horribly disappointing had happened. He heaved a heavy sigh, and felt rather than saw her look over sympathetically. He had to bite back his grin.
'Thanks, Nymphadora,' he said weakly, lightly, patting her hand kindly.
She rounded on him instantly, eyes flashing furiously, and he dragged her off the chair and onto his lap, laughing as he held her close and kissed her. And suddenly she was sliding her arms around him, she was laughing and crying and kissing him back, and he felt it again, the same gutpunch of realisation he'd had with Sirius, the simple certain knowledge that this was inevitable, and wonderful, and entirely, utterly right.
That it was love given as well as love received, and therefore as perfect as anything in his life had ever been or would be. He was sure of it as he lowered her down to the bed, as she tugged him down after her, both of them still smiling, as he let her tug his robes off and did his level best to get rid of hers as quickly as humanly possible so he could feel her, finally feel her, skin against skin, hip to hip, could finally taste her after so long spent denying he'd wanted her at all.
Sliding into her was exquisite, the feeling of her tightening around him, the way her back arched in surrender, this strong woman who could mock Moody himself, who had never backed down or cowered or surrendered to anything in the two years he'd known her. It choked him for a moment, and his voice was hoarse when he whispered her name as he bent to taste her soft, pale skin. He timed it well, catching her on a long, contented sigh that prevented her from protesting the use of her full name. Then he said it again, as her hips came up to meet his ohgodsoslowly, and all she did was smile and pull him closer as they moved together.
When they finally came together, when the endless burning heat had built up unbearably and the only option was to let go of control and fall together, his world exploded in bright light, his toes curling as the force of the climax ripped through him. She screamed, sobbing his name, and he rolled them as quickly as he could manage so that she collapsed on him, and his arms went around her before she found the strength to look up at him. When she managed it, she grinned and kissed his chest, the closest part of him to her. His arms tightened around her, and she sighed contentedly.
'You still love him,' she said softly.
He laughed, surprised to find himself able to breathe regularly enough to achieve it. 'I always will,' he said simply. 'I love you, just as I always will.'
'You're so sure,' she said wonderingly, her fingers sliding up to run through his hair.
'You've loved a werewolf for two years, Nymphadora,' he told her, then grunted at the not-so-light punch to his gut that earned him. 'Nymphadora,' he repeated, and kissed her before her fist could connect again, kissed her until she was dazed-looking and didn't seem likely to hurt him. 'D'you think we're going to break up over who leaves the cap off the toothpaste, then?'
She snickered, and it was a wonderful warm sound against his chest. He felt his heart lighten, as though even the loss of Dumbledore, was something that could be survived, accepted, remembered as they moved past it.
He smiled when her fingers slid back down to his chest, tracing lazy patterns. Slid lower, followed by her lips, then lower still.
He groaned her name.
Heard her laughter, bright and warm against his skin.
And hope, failing, was renewed.
That was lovely. I especially liked the imagery of Remus being able to feel the love reaching out, as if it was a physical thing.
Very small thing his voice was hoarse when he whispered his name . I think it should be "her" name.