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So Many Monsters

by Victoria P.

     Title: So Many Monsters (HP/Sandman)
     Author: Victoria P. []
     Summary: "I used to have demons in my room at night /
     desire, despair, desire /so many monsters"
     Rating: PG
     Disclaimer: None of the characters herein belong to me.
     Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool.
     Feedback: Rings my chimes
     Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, Meg and DD. Title
     and summary from "No More I Love Yous" by the Lover Speaks
     (or Annie Lennox, depending).
     Date: June 12, 2003

So Many Monsters

     "I used to have demons in my room at night / desire,
     despair, desire / so many monsters"

He sees them the first time that day, in the street, as he's being lead away. He's laughing and he notices a small knot of women on the corner, away from the staring crowd. The youngest of them smiles at him, one green eye and one blue sparkling in the rare November sunshine. She reminds him of a girl he once met at a club, multi-colored hair and ripped fishnets. Her hands flutter and flap as she talks to the others - one is dark-haired and dressed in black, a heavy silver ankh around her neck, one is squat and ugly, dark hair piled above heavy features, and the third is androgynously sexy, the smile on her (his?) face mocking. They are not Muggles, but they don't look like witches, either.

He shakes his head and laughs. He's just seen his entire world destroyed and he's perving on strange-looking women. They think he's mad, and maybe he is.

He sees the colorful one again, vague flashes from the corner of his eye, bright against the drab grey of the cell he's been in for a week.

He can't quite get a handle on her, and he's in no state to try. Locked up without a trial, he spends most of his energy trying to figure out how he'd been so very, very stupid.

He wakes up one night from dreamless sleep and she's there, sitting on the floor of his cell. Wild, multi-colored hair flowing past her shoulders, the green eye focused on him, the blue just... not.

"I had a dog," she says in a singsong voice. "Or, I will have a dog. A talking dog. Like you. Are you my doggie?"

He blinks. "How--"

"Now brown cow," she finishes, and giggles. "I like the taste of blue and green, but not yellow. You'd think it's sour, but it's not. It's just... yellow. It should be like tasting sunlight, but it's all wrong. More like," her brow furrows and he can feel the massive effort she makes to concentrate, to cut through her own delirium -- it radiates off her like heat, "dirt. Not good dirt, either. It's sour, but not like lemons. Like grave dust."

He draws his knees to his chest and leans his head back against the wall, staring.

"You're not one of mine. Not yet," she says, sounding suddenly sane, mismatched eyes focused on him. The force of that gaze startles him. "But you will be." She skips to the door of the cell. "And we'll have so much fun."

He will never be hers, he thinks. He is Remus's and Remus is his. Remus will rescue him. Remus believes in him.

He manages to hang onto that thought for almost a month, but no rescue comes, no friends appear. No one believes in him, and he's finding it harder each day to believe in himself.

Days turn into months turn into years and though he grows weaker, he still fights.

He tries to hoard the good memories -- James's laughter, Lily's smile, holding Harry in his arms the first time -- but they are ripped from him, slowly but surely. He promises himself he will remember; that someday he will recall their faces and feel joy. Even the thought of some future joy is enough to swamp him with guilt; he deserves this, because it's all his fault they're dead, his fault Harry has no parents. If he had only seen instead of being blinded by jealousy...

"Oh, lover, there's no way you could have resisted."

The speaker is dark-haired, androgynous, beautiful, and Sirius feels his body respond. Desire floods his veins, a feeling so foreign to him now that it may as well be happening to someone else for all he understands it. "Who--"

A white hand flutters, dismissing his question. "You know who. And I don't mean that fool Voldemort."

He shivers at the name.

"You wanted so much, so much," the voice is soft as silk, husky, and the memories he's avoided, the ones that hurt the most, the ones he least wants to lose, flood his mind. Remus. The first day on the Hogwarts Express. The first smile, first prank, solidifying a friendship that survived everything but his own stupid jealousy.

"Yes. I owned you. You loved not wisely and not at all well. Poor, dear boy. You could have had what you wanted most, but...." the voice trails off suggestively.

He closes his eyes and sees Remus, laughing at his jokes, head bent over his homework, eyes glinting with mischief. He remembers the first secret stirring of desire, the first kiss...

Remus's sweet mouth calls him a liar, a murderer, a traitor. Remus knows he suspected him of being a spy. His voice is hard and cold when he accuses Sirius of not trusting him, never loving him. And Sirius has no response, because it's true, at least in part. He did suspect, and he was jealous. But he loves Remus. It's the one thing he's as sure of as his own innocence. He knows he's not worthy of being loved in return, and that's the one thing that keeps the dementors from stripping the knowledge away.

He tries to find the words, to tell Remus he did -- does -- love him and always has, but Remus turns away in disgust.

If even Remus believes he's guilty, then nothing is worth fighting for

He wakes from the nightmare, shivering and crying, unable to avoid the condemnation of the ghosts in his own head.

Innocent, he tells himself. I am innocent.

Guilty, the voices hiss, nothing but a liar. All your fault.

He tries to fight the dementors, but night after night, day after day of reliving his worst memories, having his best ones twisted and torn away, he's barely hanging on.

He's long ago given up believing Remus will rescue him. Remus is too good for him. He deserves this. He killed James and Lily surely as if he'd given them to Voldemort himself.

He learns he still has the power to transform into Padfoot, and his despair is lightened. He has no visions of strange women while a dog, no nightmares of beloved friends turning their backs on him for betraying them. He learns dogs are far less prone to despair than humans.

But he can't stay a dog forever.

One day, a new voice speaks to him, harsh and relentless. "You may as well give in." She is squat, plain, naked. He fears her more than the others combined.

She scores her face with a hook and he is reminded of Remus, torn apart by the wolf every month, turning on himself when denied human flesh.

He slumps, defeated. She's right. There's no escape, no place to hide. He's exposed as the worthless, traitorous slime he is.

"Yes, worthless," she says. "Screw up, traitor, asshole. Everything you touch turns to shit. Just give in and stop fighting it."

Her flat, matter-of-fact tone is far worse than the shrieking and howling of his fellow prisoners, of the phantoms in his mind.

He sinks into Despair's embrace -- it's warm in the chill of his cell, lightless and comforting in its confirmation of what he's been telling himself all these years.

And then he sees the rats.

She smiles, and it's terrifying. "My pets," she says proudly, and it all rushes back to him with a clarity that's shocking after years of muzzy-headed grief.

"I'm innocent," he says. She shakes her head, but he insists, "I am innocent."

He melts into Padfoot and she's gone, the rats are gone. But he knows. He is innocent. And he will not be fooled again. He remembers the rat, burns with hatred for Wormtail. The dementors may take everything else but they cannot take this, and when he sees the picture of his enemy, his quarry, in The Daily Prophet, he knows his time is at hand.

The crazy one is waiting for him on the shore when he arrives, her hair a shock of red and yellow and blue against the dull gray rocks, but he's not scared of her any longer. She no longer has a hold on his mind. She travels with him for a bit, chattering blithely, petting him and singing songs that human ears could never listen to with equanimity, but dogs are far less prone to delirium than humans. Her occasional insights cut through the nonsense and he wonders who she is, how she knows.

I am innocent, he thinks. Wormtail is at Hogwarts and Harry is in danger. As long as he focuses on that, she cannot take him.

"What's the word," she asks, "for that floating, weightless feeling after they take the pain away? The one that's sharp and achy and good and free? And even if you don't want it, people can still give it to you anyway, and eventually you just take it because it's stupid not to?"

Forgiveness. The word is forgiveness, he thinks, and for the first time in twelve years, he has hope.



The Muse's Fool: diary: LJ:

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