Summary: Sirius has a long-overdue
conversation with Remus.
Disclaimer: I do not own JK Rowling’s characters or world. They are all hers. Dang it. Not mine,
Author’s Note: This is just an extremely short
(well, for me!) vignette. It is set concurrently
with OoP, in late January of Harry’s fifth year. Thanks to my team of beta readers—Pelirroja, Gryffinjack, and Alkari!
Remus Lupin stretched, realising that he was chilly. The fire had died down far enough that he
could hear the insistent tapping of sleet against the windows, even through the
thick curtains. Instead of gesturing the
fire to life again, he marked his place with one of Buckbeak’s
feathers and laid the book on the side table; he had almost finished Ser Jacopo
Alberghetti’s discourse on lycanthropy, and had yet
to find anything new.
the heavy library door whisper open.
“Hello, Sirius,” he said. “I
thought you had gone to bed.” He yawned. “What time is it, anyway?”
“Almost three. I saw that there
was still a light under your bedroom door, so I knocked; when you didn't answer
I came down here; I thought you might have fallen asleep in your chair.”
Remus chuckled. “Not
quite, but almost.” He nodded at the
book on the side table. “For a blood-and-guts
condottiere, Ser Jacopo is singularly
unimpressive with a pen. If I’d been one
of his enemies, I’d have been less worried about his sword than about being
bored to death. The deadliest thing
about his memoir is the prose.”
smiled, but instead of sitting down in the other reading chair or leaning
against the long mahogany writing table, he went over to the windows and threw open the heavy bottle-green drapes. “It’s sleeting,” he said, his voice tight.
“Mmmhmmmm,” Remus answered. “That’s not unusual for January, you know.” He leaned back in the chair, watching
Sirius. Although he would never say so
to Sirius’ face, both Padfoot and Sirius had a cat’s
knack for communicating their feelings by the set of their heads and
backs. Sirius stood staring out the
window. Remus could
see his desperation for open air and movement in his taut neck and the slight,
abortive movements of his hands as they touched the window panes. Remus had no doubt
that Sirius wanted to be doing something physical, something exhausting—a hard
hike, or a blindingly fast game of Quidditch, or even
something as mundane and Muggle as chopping
wood. Instead, he stood stiffly here,
bound by an odd tension that held him tight and still.
Sirius turned away from the window, and moved over to the fire. Idly he poked it to life again. “Moony,” he said, still looking at the fire, his
voice thin with strain, “I have to ask you something.”
Remus sighed. That
was the way long conversations usually started these days. He tried to keep any impatience out of his
voice. “Go ahead. But I warn you, if you want to borrow Ser
Jacopo, I might say yes.”
in Sirius’ posture. Remus
couldn’t tell if Sirius had even registered the joke. He bit his lip. There was always a balance between being
supportive and needing to be firmly practical.
He suspected the latter tone was called for tonight, and he was getting
ready to tell Sirius to get a move on or go back to bed when Sirius spoke.
“You know I
apologised to you for … well, for that day in the
Shrieking Shack. With Snape. And
James,” he added carefully, as if there could be any doubt which day he meant.
This time Remus didn’t bother to conceal his sigh. “Yes, Sirius, you did. Over and over. To the point where I told you that I didn’t
want to hear any more, if you recall.”
He stopped, remembering the January afternoon he had been alone,
studying in one of the disused classrooms, when Sirius had entered and told him
about his encounter with the Knight of the Mirrors, and had made what Remus had felt was his first real, heartfelt apology, and
then walked away, without requiring that Remus
acknowledge it, or accept it, or make it better, or any of the other unspoken
riders that he had attached to his other apologies. After that, Remus had
not needed to hear any more, although he and Sirius had been awkward with each
other for nearly a year afterward.
When had they truly become friends
frowned; after Lily and James’ wedding, he thought….Of course, Sirius being
Sirius, he had still apologized several times since then … and in the Shack,
that second time …
that Sirius had turned and was watching him.
“Anyway, it’s over. Well over.”
not for me,” Sirius began, and Remus waved his hand
do know when to leave well enough alone, Padfoot.” There was a definite edge of warning in his
voice. A tirade against Snape, or Kreacher, or Grimmauld Place itself would
be preferable to this topic, he thought.
He still felt uncomfortable picking at that particular scab upon their
relationship; though he had forgiven Sirius twice over, there was still a small
nub of anger and fear left at the thought of that night. And hurt, bone-deep hurt, if he let himself
think about it, which usually he didn’t.
closed his eyes. He moved forward a pace
and sat down on the hearth, knees drawn up to his chest, arms around his
knees. In the soft light of the library
he looked like a twelve-year-old. “I
started dreaming, Moony,” he said, his voice slightly hoarse. “I started dreaming about that night. I sent Snape down
the tunnel, but then I looked back. And
he was already in the room with you, and I thought that that wasn’t right,
because he never got as far as the Shack itself. So I started back, and it wasn’t Snape there with you, it was Harry, and he looked at me
with those green eyes, and I couldn’t move, and you were snarling and you
started to jump, Moony….
“And Harry looked at me, and I
could see how afraid he was, but … how much he … how much he loved you … and he
looked at me and knew I had sent him down there, and I never want to see that
look in his eyes, ever again, but I do, when I try to sleep. And then he looked past me, and I knew James
was coming down the tunnel to save Snape --- save
Harry, save you – only when I looked he wasn’t there. He had never been there. And you jumped on Harry, and I tried to put
myself between you, but I couldn’t move, and …”
He stopped, and swallowed
hard. “And you … you killed him, and he
lay there with blood on his face and his green eyes staring at me and his
glasses broken, and I knew I was going to have to tell you that I failed again
when you transformed, and tell Prongs I had let his son die, and then I knew that
I had never really apologized to you.”
He swallowed hard again and looked up at Remus,
his eyes dark and empty. “I never really
understood what I had done to you, using you like that, not even with what the
Knight showed me, until I saw Harry die.”
A pause, and then, “Until I let Harry die.”
back in his chair, feeling as if the wind had been knocked out of him. Dammit, Sirius was
making this too real, too immediate. The
scar was nicely scabbed over, thank you; he didn’t want anyone, even Sirius,
coming along and ripping it off in one sweeping motion. “You … you didn’t let Harry die, Sirius,” he
said, his voice strangled. “It was a
“It doesn’t matter.” Sirius was still looking at him. “I’m sorry, Remus,”
swallowed. A dozen flippant replies came
to mind to diffuse the emotions, a dozen sympathetic remarks to ease the sting
of the dreams. He was practiced at
those, after all, all the polite remarks that deftly turned his awareness of
his own feelings aside into managing someone else’s.
But he found he could say none of
them. He couldn’t turn that aside.
And when he dared to look, he found
that the scar was bleeding—but not as much as he had thought. Just enough to cleanse.
When he could find his voice, he said, his own
voice hoarse, “Apology accepted.”