Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 12:28 AM
"Every cop is a criminal"
Remus doesn't cry when Dumbledore gives him the news. He nods, tries to find solid ground as the world shifts beneath him.
The rage is stronger than it's ever been before; the hate is new. He puts his fist through the window and doesn't even feel it. He breaks every bit of glass in the flat, trails blood along the hardwood floor from feet cut to ribbons.
He sets fire to Sirius's belongings, but even that doesn't satisfy. He overturns the bed they shared, shredding pillows and sheets. When there's nothing left to break, he stands amid the devastation, unassuaged.
They are celebrating in the streets, loud and raucous. He walks among them like a ghost. When he enters the Leaky Cauldron, conversation stops. He feels eyes upon him, hears their whispered conversations.
He pushes his way out and heads into Muggle London, finding a pub where no one knows him.
After the sixth scotch, his face is numb; he can no longer feel phantom kisses on his skin.
He stumbles out onto the street and falls to his knees, retching until there's nothing left inside but the hard knot of hate and desperation he fears will never go away.
The man has long, black hair. They always do.
That's all Remus needs.
A subtle nod, the brush of a hand against his back, and they're in a stall in the men's room, the pounding music in the club outside muted by the tiled walls.
He closes his eyes, leans his head against the wall and thrusts into the stranger's mouth, twining his hands in the man's hair. It feels wrong, coarse and dry where it should be soft and sleek.
But the man has a skilled tongue; Remus forgets for a few blissful seconds that he is not Sirius.
Remus lies in bed, staring at the ceiling. The room reeks of semen, sweat and curry. He's made a few half-hearted repairs, but can't be bothered to clean up the mess.
It doesn't matter.
He hasn't worked in weeks; when the rent is due, he won't pay it. There's packing for the move he knows is coming, but he can't be arsed to do that, either. He drifts through the days, spends the nights drunk, fucking strangers.
He is tired of worrying, thinking, planning, hoping.
Remus lies in bed, staring at the ceiling. Everything that matters is gone.
It feels strange sometimes, that he's managed to put his life together. Sometimes he believes that's all life is -- shattering, then shoddy repairs.
He's doing well; he tutors Muggle children in history and literature, and pretends not to want what they have: well-kept house, well-made clothes. Someone waiting at home with kisses and soft touches.
He can taste it sometimes, hot and sour on his tongue. It's a familiar stabbing pain, wanting what he cannot have. He's always wanted more than what life has allowed, and always pretended not to.
And he's always had a high tolerance for pain.
On this rare occasion of a payday, Remus stands in Flourish and Blotts, money burning a hole in his wallet. He could pay rent or buy food, but what he really wants is books.
Books surround him, make his mouth water, his fingers itch to touch. To actually own instead of borrowing, to be able to highlight paragraphs and turn down pages.
His arms ache under the load when he's done. Knowing he cannot afford them all, his mind spins with plans.
When he arrives home, he puts his purchases away, and pulls three more miniaturized books from his pocket.
He says no the first four times Dumbledore asks. He should do it, repay the man for his trust over the years, but he won't.
It should be an honor to be asked, but he's heard the stories; no one else wants the job. He's the bottom of the barrel. He's spent his life being unwanted; he's tired of it. Even though he needs the job (covets it madly, if he's honest), he won't be the last resort, Dumbledore's charity case, his tame werewolf.
Then he reads "The Daily Prophet" one August morning, and knows his decision has been made.
"And all the sinners, saints"
He is innocent.
Sirius sings it to himself sometimes; sometimes it's a prayer to vague deities he's never believed in.
He no longer knows what day, month, year it is, but he knows he's innocent; the dementors cannot take that from him.
When he sees Wormtail's picture, he's able to keep his tone conversational, but he's already planning his escape. He will protect Harry, avenge James and Lily, beg Remus for forgiveness.
Escaping is easier than expected, and soon he's on his way. He's innocent, he's survived the worst Azkaban offers, and he'll never give up until Wormtail is dead.
He's free. Harry believes in him. Remus forgives him. Dumbledore trusts him.
He writes Harry; there's so much to say, but he writes only impersonal things. It's best that way. He doesn't want to overwhelm the kid.
He feels worse about Ron's leg than about trying to kill Wormtail, which ought to worry him, but doesn't.
A tiny owl flutters about, annoying Buckbeak. It's eager for the job; he's unsure it can manage the trip.
It occurs to him as finishes writing. He asks. The owl hoots in agreement. Sirius edits the letter again.
"I thought your friend Ron might like to keep this owl, as it's my fault he no longer has a rat."
Sirius believes in Dumbledore. He believes in his own ability to make a difference. It's the only reason he leaves Harry.
Sirius makes his case to Mundungus, Arabella and others who may doubt his innocence, but believe in Dumbledore, and so extend their trust to him.
He accepts that Harry's Muggle relatives offer protection he cannot, because Dumbledore says so.
This time, they won't be destroyed by his suspicions, because he has finally learned to trust his instincts. He won't be fooled again. Dumbledore, Remus, the Order -- these people will defeat Voldemort. He will help them or die trying.
His stomach flutters as he approaches the flat. He thinks he might boot as he rings the bell marked 'R. Lupin.'
The door opens and he's pulled inside, into a warm embrace he's dreamed of for a year, but hadn't really expected.
They talk through the night, though he can't remember what about, and then after an awkward moment, he's in bed with Remus. They huddle together with vague familiarity, and his anxiety returns. Remus presses a warm kiss to his forehead, and he can identify that fluttery feeling.
It is hope, and he has reclaimed it at long last.
"Apparently, the house is mine. I've offered it to Dumbledore as headquarters for the Order."
"I'll be moving in next week."
"One of the family needs to live there. Andromeda has kids to look after; the rest are Death Eaters. That leaves me."
"You hate that place, Sirius. You'll be miserable there."
"Please don't do this."
"If it helps the Order, helps Harry--"
"You'll be giving up what little freedom you have."
"I'll start packing."
"Remus, you don't--"
"Maybe Harry can live with us."
"That'd be nice."
He lies on the grass in the garden. This is the only fresh air he gets, the only sunlight he feels on his too-pale skin. He itches to be free and knows he can't leave.
The back door slams. He doesn't have to look to know who it is. Remus blocks out the sun for a moment, hair gilded to gleaming honey before he drops to the ground next to Sirius.
"We're going tonight," Remus says.
Sirius nods. He won't be going with them. He knows the danger Harry's in, won't put him in more.
"I'll be waiting. Good luck."
Sirius hates when Remus is away. The house is empty, but never quiet.
He hates that he's reduced to this pathetic shadow existence. He's never been good at waiting, has had a surfeit of it.
He pours himself a drink, contemplates another. The bottle of firewhisky mocks him, Old Ogden himself winking and leering on the label. He walks away; he's too easily tempted, yet too stubborn to give in.
He listens to the wireless, does the crossword, fidgets through the house like a ghost. He curls up in bed, reading Remus's book.
When Remus comes home, Sirius kisses him.
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Fandom: Harry Potter
Title: All the Sinners, Saints
Author: Victoria P. [email]
Details: Standalone | PG-13 | 8k | 02/14/04
Summary: "Every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners, saints"
Notes: Written for Nestra's Seven Deadly Sins/Seven Virtues drabble challenge. I went over a little bit on "justice." Oops. Thanks to DD, Bethy and Pru for editing and general cheerleading. Thanks as always to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, and Meg for everything. Summary from "Sympathy for the Devil" by Jagger and Richards. Duh. Oh! And one line is lifted directly from PoA.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters belong to JK Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury etc.; this piece of fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.
Archive: Lists, Achromatic.
Feedback: is the virtuous thing to do.
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