Sirius was the Grim, the ghostly omen-dog that carried the smell of graves and old bones. That's how he felt, how he looked, and how no one treated him.
James went on about Quidditch, sporting a wash of new bruises, including one above his heart, courtesy of Lestrange's elbow, and a smaller one the width of a broom handle along his jaw, all of which he proudly displayed to anyone who asked. Between complaints about his homework, he worked on his costume for the Halloween dance, insisting that Sirius go as Arthur to his Merlin. True, he avoided any nocturnal visits for the first week, but came back the second one without comment, letting Sirius take him again, then again, from behind.
Peter twittered about the house-elves, who were teaching him basic recipes, or trying to, since his first batch of steak and kidney pies had caused such a flaming, smoky mess that the smell found its way into the Great Hall, putting everyone off their dinner. "Tricky business, this cooking," was his only defence, and he didn't flinch much when Lily, kindly as possible, told him that the Halloween Dance Refreshment Committee was too full for another member, or when James composed a limerick in his honour:
There once was a boy name of Peter,
Whose cooking tasted like socks on a heater.
‘It's better when flamed,'
Mr. Pettigrew explained.
‘Scorching makes all food taste sweeter.
When he wasn't studying, Remus sang snatches of ridiculous Muggle songs from his youth and laughed when James suggested a vocal-improvement spell. He shared his stash of chocolate frogs from a trip to Honeydukes, read boring books that everyone else avoided, Lex glued to his side; the two went everywhere together like mismatched Siamese twins, including to bed, although there were rumours about closets and toilets. Even the approach of his monthly stint as a blood-hungry monster didn't upset Remus; while his skin lightened and his brown hair grew an inch, Remus still hummed, pausing only when Sirius told him that his piles of homework meant he couldn't join him in the tunnels.
Lex was the only one who might've sensed the Grim, Lex and Lily Evans, since between the two of them they piled on sudden long looks that prickled the back of Sirius' neck. (And presumably prickled theirs, as the Grim was wont to do.) "You look like you're not sleeping," he told Sirius one morning at breakfast, his smirk hidden.
Beyond his inability to sleep, eat, laugh or concentrate, Sirius' life was the picture of normality. Grim normality. He had a sneaking suspicion that he was dying or at least desperately ill, and visited the nurse, who mocked him, thinking he was trying to avoid class, a feat he'd managed successfully before.
The pain accelerated during the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin, with James too busy on the field to temper first the humiliation of sitting forgotten beside Lex and Remus, then the greater pain of their half-hearted attempt to include him in ther conversation.
"Sirius used to play Quidditch," Remus said. "Best Keeper Gryffindor's ever seen. Even named a move after him, The Black Block. Between him and James, no other team stood a chance. They were brilliant together. I'd be hoarse after the games from cheering."
"Why did you quit playing, Sirius?" Lex leaned over, doubtless using the question as an excuse to place his hand on Remus' thigh, the same thigh that Sirius could feel against his own, a warm press for every breath.
"Had an accident with my motorbike and buggered my knee." He hoped that McGonagall would glance over and be so scandalized by Lex's public display of sodomitic affection that she'd knock him back across the ocean with one sweep of her broom, or at least give him paws in place of hands, maybe a tail and whiskers, too, the smug bastard.
"Sirius was a speed-demon," Remus said. "Drove that bike like a madman. He'd take me up and I'd keep my eyes closed half the time, sure we'd crash into one of the towers or a tree."
Shouts and whoops interrupted them as Jenkins scored a goal for Gryffindor. Sirius saw James outlined against the sun, raising his fist, his head thrown back, then noticed Lily Evans, seated a few rows down with Mandy Litvack, staring up, too, hypnotized by James' pleasure in the game.
"What happened to the bike?" Lex again, now balancing with his arm behind Remus.
"Confiscated by Dumbledore. Probably for the best. I'd never have gotten all the sheep parts from the engine." Great bike. He called it 'Alphard' after his favourite uncle, the same one who'd given him enough gold to live on his own, and used to sneak into the room where it was stored to clean her blood-specked chrome flanks. Rodolphus caught him once, though, and told Filch, and now she was hidden in some recess of the school that not even the Marauders could discover.
"Do you miss it?"
Lex had the soul of an inquisitor, and Sirius refused to hand over more information that necessary. Who knew what Lex would do with it? "All the time."
Remus was humming beside him. "Lex used to play Quidditch. Same position as you."
The rhythm turned Sirius mean. "Why'd you quit? Not enough glory?"
"To spite his father," Remus said, elbowing him. "You should be able to understand that, Sirius."
"Remus is subtly alluding to the fact that my mother disowned me."
"You're lucky," Lex said. "I keep trying to guide my father in that direction, but he never takes the final step. How did it happen?"
Was Lex keeping a score card of his humiliations? "She objected to my friends, and I told her to drop dead. When she didn't, she burned my name off the family tree and showed me the door." More truth than he'd intended to give, but maybe that would scare Lex away. Or not.
"You can live with that? No regrets?"
Lex probably enjoyed picking at scabs and pulling wings off flies. "Obviously you've never met my mother," Sirius said. "In addition to her Pureblood obsession, she asked a lot of nosy questions, then sat in judgment."
Lex ignored the barb. "She doesn't try to lure you back into the family fold?"
"It's like I was never born. The perfect start to a perfect new life."
"So why aren't you happy about it?"
This time the Slytherin team scored the goal.
Gryffindor won, two-hundred to sixty, but for the first time ever Sirius skipped the party in the common room. While the crowd went wild, Remus whooping beside him, then throwing his arms around Lex, Sirius slipped from the stands and walked back to the castle.
Turning a corner in one of the deserted hallways, he collided with a flurry of purple stars, snowy beard and sherbet raspberry, landing hard on his arse. When a hand stained green from lizard guts grasped his, drawing him from the floor, Sirius found himself staring into Dumbledore's blue eyes.
"Sirius Black." Dumbledore looked delighted, although his tall pointed hat was askew, the sherbet raspberry a sticky pink stain on his robes.
"Sorry about your sweet."
"A happy accident. You see, I'd chosen raspberry when I much prefer lemon. Raspberry causes me to hiccup pink bubbles, but I thought I'd give it another try."
Sirius wasn't sure how to respond to this further proof that Dumbledore was quite mad. "So why'd you choose it?"
"Humans beings do prefer what's more easily attained. In this case, the lemon sweets were a little further away, tucked behind a jar of bat wings." He sighed, then his smile brightened. "I did enjoy watching your friend Mr. Potter on the Quidditch field. What skill! What control! If only he'd learn to direct his energy so positively in all aspects of his life. Too many distractions, I'm afraid."
Dumbledore's gaze wandered to the tapestry beside them, where a woven Merlin chased through fields and forests after Nimue with her gold-thread hair, who blew him kisses over her shoulder. When he finally caught her on a cliff by the green sea, she gave him a real kiss, then thwacked his nose with her tiny wand. A cave like a mouth opened in the brown earth, swallowing Merlin whole, and he remained there shedding miniature silver tears until the story began again.
"Love. Unfortunately rather like a game of Exploding Snaps. You never know what card will singe your eyebrows off." As Dumbledore shook his head, his hat tilted even further. "So, what do you think of our newest addition to Hogwarts? Misters Luthor and Lupin seem to have formed a very strong friendship; I suspected they might when I sent Lex to Remus at the start of term."
Hard to keep his nose from wrinkling, and Dumbledore caught the twitch.
"Complicated your life, has he, Sirius? Well, you must remember that complications are like textbooks: difficult to finish, but they leave us smarter by the end, if we allow ourselves to arrive there."
"Ah! Spoken like a very clever but somewhat negligent student." He winked at Sirius, then turned grave, staring again at the tapestry. "I do wish Merlin had stayed at Camelot and settled down to a comfortable life with Morgan Le Fay. Not the stuff of romantic legend, but think: they might've had a son to defeat Mordred." With a sweep of his arm, Dumbledore adjusted his hat. "Now I must be off. Good luck with your studies, Mr. Black. You can achieve much with a little application."
He whisked off in a raspberry cloud.
"Crazy as a badger," Sirius muttered.
The talk with Dumbledore hadn't improved his mood, and he avoided the common room where the Gryffindors would be gathering for the post-match celebration, instead heading to the dormitory to curl up in bed with his heavy Defence Against the Dark Arts text. Sadly, it appeared to be written in Swahili, and he squinted with one eye, then the other, trying to make sense of it.
He had levitated the book above his head, smashing it into the canopy roof, when Remus appeared. The book fell with a papery thud beside him.
"Studying? When there's a party? Where's the real Sirius Black, and what have you done with him?"
"Can't a bloke do his homework without causing a scandal? Besides, you're the one who's always after me to work harder. Well, here I am, working hard."
"I may be boring, Sirius, but even I know when it's time to relax. Come to the common room. Lex has arranged for food to be brought from The Three Broomsticks, and Evans has worked a music spell."
"I'm just tired. Go join your...The celebration."
"What about James? He was looking for you since you disappeared after the match."
"So now you're Potter's errand-boy?"
"No," Remus said, sitting on the edge of the bed, plucking the end of his tie. "I'm your friend, and his, and I'm worried about you. You've been a bit odd lately, and I miss the old Sirius, the one who put spider legs in my tea and told me with a wickedly-straight face that it would make me smarter. The one who encouraged me to walk along the parapet because ‘Werewolves must have good balance,' and who brought me chocolate every day in the infirmary after that. The one who gave Snape the embarrassing rash after--"
"Don't waste your energy, Moony. Save it for Lex, because I'm fine. James and I will celebrate later." To avoid Remus' eyes, Sirius stared at his wide mouth. The mouth that Lex kissed, the mouth that sucked Lex.
"Sirius, if I can tell you that I'm a werewolf, you can tell me anything. I'd never have told anyone if you hadn't made me. Told Lex that this morning when I got back from the tunnels. Even without you there, it was bearable." He tried to touch Sirius' hand, but he pulled it away. "Is it James? Did you two have a fight?"
"No fight. There's nothing to tell."
"Fine. I'll start, or restart, the confessions." Remus took a deep breath, then let it go in a little spurt of air. "I'm thinking of taking a job in America."
If he starts singing one of those songs, Sirius thought, I'll kill him. I really will, bare hands around his neck. That would show Lex, with his job offers and his rich father and his theft of people's best mates. "America," he said. "Well, good luck with it. Except..."
"Well, Lex might object to your monthly transformation into a hairy killer."
"He knows," Remus said. "He's going to build me a place where I can go during the full moon."
"Generous of him. Must be nice to be rich as Croesus."
"I know that you and Lex haven't exactly warmed to each other--"
The understatement of the century.
"--but he's great, Sirius. I understand better now about you and James, what it feels like to have someone."
"I'm very happy for you." He flipped onto his side, presenting his back to Remus. And his arse, which Remus could kiss, thank you very much. All they'd done for him, the months it took to weasel out the secret, the years to learn the Animagus spell so Remus wouldn't be alone, and this was how he thanked them. Going off and leaving him alone, like this time at Hogwarts was just a phase, just a stage in a much larger process, and not life as it was supposed to be. "Seriously, Moony, go to the party. Eat pumpkin patties and drink a pitcher of Butterbeer. I have to study or I won't be fit for anything after Hogwarts."
"America's waiting for you. I think it's your destiny." And he picked up his book, pretending to read.
"Maybe I'll see you later."
His day could be worse, Sirius thought, as Remus walked slowly from the room. After all, James' Nimbus hadn't been thrust through his eye--just felt like it.
He stood on a cliff above the sea, listening to the wind, the surf and a crying voice. Above him, the sky was a benevolent blue expanse, just a single black dot in the centre of the sun. But the black dot began to grow, spreading like a can of paint dropped from invisible clouds, covering the horizon, the sea, then the cliff itself, until darkness engulfed him as well. No light, no sound anymore, just thick black everywhere; even his hand when waved before his own face couldn't penetrate it. Cold, too, with the sun gone, so cold his teeth chattered, a clicking sound like footsteps on flagstones.
It began to press down on him, the cold, black quiet, a heavy weight on his chest...
When the weight vanished, a edge of reality broke though Sirius' dream. No cave, just him in his bed, on his back, and someone had taken the book from his chest, was covering him with the quilt. Remus, he thought, still barely awake. Just like him. The party must be over, and he'd fallen asleep with his clothes on. Remus, not James, who'd already be beside him, mostly naked, his hand on Sirius' cock, his tongue in his mouth.
Too sleepy to open his eyes, he reached out, fumbling until he found Remus' hand. "Still cold, Moony," he managed to say, cold inside and out from the dream. His hand was squeezed once, solid enough that Sirius knew he wasn't still dreaming, before Remus pulled away. Always pulling away.
Then the mattress shifted as Remus slipped under the quilt to lie against him. Only a friendly gesture, not a prelude to anything else; best to enjoy it since this was all he'd ever have, so he didn't move, just relaxed into the warmth. But it hurt, more than it had a right to, more than when his mother cut him off, more than when he saw nothing behind a closed bed curtain. As though sensing this Remus gave him a reassuring kiss on the cheek, then another one along his jaw.
Kisses should come with a license; they were more dangerous than motorbikes, than the teeth of a werewolf. Sirius endured these brotherly signs of affection with their sharp edges, lay quietly counting them when they didn't stop. He wanted one full on the mouth, but couldn't turn to face Remus, who'd run, not stay and use his tongue.
Don't move, he told himself. Don't move no matter what happens.
His heart was pounding -- he couldn't control that -- but again Remus seemed to know, or perhaps the sound made him curious, because he slowly unbuttoned Sirius' shirt and slid his hand inside right over it. Under Remus' palm, Sirius' nipple hardened, and he willed it down, flat and innocent.
This failed but it was Remus' fault for moving his palm in circles, then his fingers, the circles shrinking until they concentrated on the nipple. A small gesture, but Sirius had to bit his bottom lip to keep from moaning, and bit harder at the gentle tug. He also buried the temptation to demand why Remus was doing this, if he'd had a fight with Lex, or thought Sirius so pathetic that he pitied him enough to touch him, or if the coming full moon had trip-started an irrational desire.
The slight drag at his neck confused him until he realized that Remus was pulling off his tie in the same slow, methodical way he'd done everything, so different from James, who liked hard, quick, immediate pleasure. When the tie was free, Remus placed it over Sirius' eyes and nudged his head up to knot it. This was almost unbearably exciting, a declaration that Remus wasn't going to stop his teasing gestures, that the gestures might grow. This way they could pretend that it wasn't real, and--
Remus' warm wet mouth closed over his nipple, and he sucked. No teeth, just the barest pressure of lips, a hint of tongue. Without thinking, Sirius raised his hands, but Remus caught then lifted them behind Sirius' back to bind Sirius' wrists with his own tie. Just like Remus to take all responsibility, and strangely satisfying to give it up, relax into those trustworthy hands, the sure mouth already back at his nipple.
As the sucking continued, sweat gathered under his blind eyes, under the hair at the back of his neck, the flat of his stomach where Remus now rested one hand, the tips of his fingers under the waistband of Sirius' trousers. He could come like this, without even moving, his cock stiff as the nipple in Remus' mouth, the lack of contact where he needed it most a charge of its own. Still, his hips kept rising, fucking air, begging silently.
When a wet thumb dusted over his other nipple so that it felt like two mouths on him, he moaned, a lewd, desperate sound. This brought another gentle kiss to his cheek, a reminder that this wasn't supposed to hurt, then a kiss on his mouth, like Remus couldn't resist, before he returned to Sirius' nipples.
No one had ever stayed on his nipples this long, had lavished this much attention there. He'd never given anyone the chance, and even if he had, even if he didn't...Even if he didn't care about the person, this sucking and teasing would've made him weak, with stars already dancing behind the blindfold.
Fingers at his throat now, exploring rather than holding, fingertips in the hollow, then up over his jaw, under his shirt to glide over his shoulder. He squirmed when they skimmed his ribs, when a single finger started under his chin and slid in a straight leisurely line down his body, stopping at the top of his trousers to start back up again. Remus did this countless times, until the rhythm felt natural as breathing....
If breathing alone led to orgasm.
He'd never been so aware of his skin, even after the transformation from his canine body to his human one, perversely glad for his clothes even when he hated the barrier, the sleeves covering his arms, the trousers over his legs. If Remus stroked him everywhere like that, he'd break out of it.
The finger changed route, horizontal rather than vertical, passing back and forth along his waistband. His hips arched for a second time, and he moaned again. Remus must've liked the noise because he began to kiss Sirius' nipple, kiss around it, along his side, over his ribs, while that maddening finger kept tracing its straight line.
Kiss and stroke. Kiss and stroke. Kiss and stroke. Hard not to imagine that same pattern on his cock, to crave it. His wrists strained at the tie while more unrecognizable sounds slipped from his throat, the whimpers of a bitch in heat. Remus reached up and stroked his cheek, then his hair, and this became a new pattern, a curving line this time over his temple, brushing the hair past his ear, then a caress down his cheekbone to the side of his mouth.
Sirius tried to catch the fingers with his tongue, and for the first dozen passes Remus wouldn't let him. Then Remus extended the last one to include Sirius' lips, outlining his mouth before easing three fingers inside. Sirius sucked them without shame, grunting like an animal, like a hungry dog at his mother's teat, and went even wilder when Remus began to fuck his mouth, licking the fingers, lapping at them, sucking madly, trying to keep them deep in him.
When Remus finally pulled them free, he spread the wetness over Sirius' nipples, and only as his fingers dried did he push them back into Sirius' greedy mouth. More sucking, then more damp strokes over his chest, again and again until no exposed skin was dry. Remus ended the game with a kiss on Sirius' lips, then trailed his fingers down his chest. When he arrived at Sirius' waist, he unbuckled the belt, pulled it from the loops, and dropped it somewhere on the bed.
This didn't lead to freedom, but another torturous game. Instead of opening Sirius' trousers, Remus rubbed along the side of his trapped cock, a slight, infuriating, eye-watering tease. Lying still was impossible, except that with every arch or shift Remus would stop, forcing him to remain passive, without question the most difficult task of his life.
His cock by now was painfully engorged, aching for the full weight of Remus' hand. His whole world became about Remus' hand; at each stroke he prayed for more, prayed that it would move over him, and each time it never did. There came a point where he couldn't stand it anymore, and Remus moved his hand, only to begin stroking him on the other side, his fingers barely skimming, the most frustrating almost-contact ever.
When Sirius groaned, Remus took pity on him, still rubbing but allowing him to suck the fingers of his other hand. Ready to dissolve, he took them gratefully, needing something solid to keep him anchored. The fingers also distracted him from the questions gathered at the back of his brain, fragments of the past and the future that he wasn't ready to assemble. Later, or never, definitely not now, with Remus placing his hand over Sirius' cock, just long enough to feel the heat and weight. He arched, desperate for more, but Remus only brushed back Sirius' damp hair above the make-shift blindfold, then nuzzled his shoulder like a puppy. The fingers stayed in Sirius' mouth, still fucking it, and he wondered if the lewdness of it, the dirty suggestiveness, excited Remus as well. He knew that Remus was hard, had felt the stiff length of him when Remus leaned too close, but beyond that, the level of it--
A long light stroke from the base of Sirius' cock to the head. He tensed, gasping, and the fingers were removed from his mouth, playing again with his nipples.
His trousers clung to him, his shirt did, his back sticky against the mattress, all fabric too heavy, like he was bound everywhere, not just at the wrists and over his eyes. His nipples were starting to sting, and his cock was so swollen with hot blood that it had to be burning Remus' hand through the wool. Sirius was close to begging, but retained the fear that his voice might ruin everything, might remind Remus of things he'd rather forget. He pressed his lips in a tight line, forgetting that Remus could see, and whimpered when a finger broke through, penetrating him there.
This initiated a new chain of need. He'd tried it once with that sixth-year, real penetration, but didn't like being on the bottom while someone rammed into him, like a loser in a wrestling match with the power on the top. Remus wouldn't see it like that, wouldn't turn it into a struggle, into a war; it would be giving with him, not taking, and if he wanted it, Sirius would let him--
Remus drew back his attention by unfastening Sirius' trousers, tugging them down over his hips, then carefully reaching inside to...
This time the only thing between Remus' stroking hand and Sirius' burning skin was a thin layer of damp cotton. A thin, hateful, wretched layer, and he groaned even as his body jerked. Remus burrowed his face into Sirius' neck as he fondled him, the tip of one finger sliding over the head of Sirius' cock, circling it, then trailing down his shaft. He could feel the pulse in Remus' finger through the fabric, or maybe it was just the thrumming of his own blood.
Strange to think that he'd ever been cold with Remus hot as a furnace beside him. That tongue on his neck, licking, the fingers exploring. Any more, and he'd liquify. Really, it was almost enough, even when he'd kill for more, just to have Remus beside him, touching him into this hot, floating space, like riding his motorbike at night aimed at the moon, speeding higher into a forever-black, but without the cold rushing wind. This was more like being underwater in a hot sea, swimming on a dolphin's back.
When Remus finally slipped his hand under the cotton and touched him, bare skin on bare skin, he actually stopped breathing, even with Remus caressing his cheek again. He was past soothing, could only lie there shaking as Remus coaxed him harder.
A gentle squeeze, then a slow, close-fisted stroke from top to bottom, then nothing. The same fingers found their way back into Sirius' mouth, and when they were wet, returned to his cock. Just the thumb after that, which he sucked frantically before Remus rubbed it over the head of Sirius' cock. Faintly, he heard his own harsh breathing, the sounds of licked Remus' fingers.
Impossible to calm him, but Remus tried, leaving his cock to wet Sirius' balls, a pleasure not quite as intense but still made his eyes roll back behind the tie. A pause followed each touch, as though Remus was gauging his reaction, determining what pleased him most, like the careful separation and rolling of each testicle or the firm squeeze just above both, leaving them taut and vulnerable to the pad of Remus' thumb.
Easy enough to picture Remus' face while he did it, his pale cheeks flushed, grey eyes narrowed in concentration, teeth catching his bottom lip, like Sirius was a particularly fascinating book. Remus had the sort of focus that blocked out all distractions, which might explain why he'd let this go so far, simply forgetting the outside world. Sirius hoped he'd never remember it, not with Remus moving his hand up again, closing it around the base of Sirius' shaft.
The stroke took an age, as did the slide back down. Sirius tried to force it, shoving up for speed and contact, but Remus petted his flank like he was gentling a horse, and Sirius settled back again, his thighs trembling, bracing himself for more.
Only more didn't come. Abruptly, Remus let go, the mattress shifting as he pulled away, and it couldn't end. Not now. Sirius would've broken his vow of silence but couldn't decide what to say, to beg, curse or scream. Then his legs were eased apart, Remus climbing between them. Remus was going to....was going to....
Nothing in the world prepared him for the first touch of Remus' tongue on his cock. Just the tip of it on the crown, this tiny wet connection, caused him arch so high he was nearly levitating, and fell back on the bed, winded. As always, Remus maintained a slow, steady pace, more tiny licks across the head, down the sides. Sometimes he chose a single spot and devoted his attention to it, licking away until Sirius thought he'd scream, then moving to another one.
At last Remus returned to the head, lapping at it, with one hand around the base. Sirius, who'd occasionally relaxed his muscles when Remus explored a new part of his cock, found himself unable to, his whole body tight with need. He didn't even know he'd begun to plead, whispering, "Please, please, please, please," until Remus started to suck him there, and the words froze, the world did, everything gone except for Remus' hot sucking mouth.
His back locked into a permanent arch, every muscle straining so hard it should hurt, need like a fire under his skin, burning down his spine, over his nipples and balls, his mouth and his cock. Especially his cock, so tender and full that only one more touch of Remus' tongue would--
He saw red behind the blindfold, blood-red, red as Remus' werewolf mouth, then a wash of brilliant white. Cries around him, wild painful cries, the line of fire bursting from him, blazing rush, beyond good. Remus. Remus. Remus. The name every time his body -- Remus -- shot out another -- Remus -- bolt of come. Remus.
Eventually he floated down, sinking back into himself, the tension fading like a sunset, while Remus licked up the last traces. Something hungry in the way he did it, and Sirius remembered through the haze that Remus still hadn't come.
"My mouth," Sirius said quietly, doling out the barest words. "Like your fingers."
The right balance, because Remus gave Sirius' cock a last long suck, then kissed Sirius' hips, his stomach, his nipples, and for a brief salty moment his mouth before straddling his chest. With his wrists still bound above his head and Remus' knees flanking him, he was trapped. The flutter of discomfort switched to euphoria when Remus unknotted the tie joining his hands; to show his trust, Sirius kept his fingers clasped, repeating, "My mouth."
Remus ran his finger across Sirius' lips as though testing him, and he eagerly opened for it. Satisfied, Remus withdrew it, and Sirius heard him unfastening his trousers, then the warm head of Remus' cock pressed against his mouth. Instead of pushing it in, Remus rubbed it over Sirius' lips, leaving a slick trail that Sirius followed with his tongue.
His first taste of Remus, and he wanted more, but Remus still wouldn't hurry, guiding his cock over Sirius' lips again, then up and down each cheek, less marking territory than a cautious approach, an opportunity for escape. Sirius licked his lips, keeping them parted to show his readiness.
Remus' cock glided inside, hard and heavy, and Sirius closed his mouth around it, using his tongue to encourage Remus to leave it there. Remus made a low sound under the wet sloppy noises of Sirius' sucking, an echo of the growls from his werewolf hours. That was part of Remus' appeal, he thought: the calm, controlled exterior, the wolfish centre. Peace and war, patience and violence, all of that now under Sirius' tongue.
Sirius' spent cock twitched, and he lifted his neck to take as much as he could of Remus down his throat. He couldn't hold the position, but when he lay back, Remus fed him even more, reaching down to cup the back of Sirius' head, always gentle, never forcing. Never would, but the possibility of it, this hidden wolfish side, was always there, and that wild need started to build, urging Sirius to suck harder.
It began to happen: while he held his cock at the middle to ensure that Sirius never choked, Remus' light, measured thrusts turned rougher and faster. Sirius gave up licking, just let Remus fuck his mouth, hoping that Remus was watching this, that he wasn't denying whose mouth held his cock.
His breathing erratic as his thrusts, Remus started to use his hand, pulling back until just the head of his cock remained inside, jerking the shaft with a tightly-closed fist. Sirius licked it, teased it, sucked it, tasted the wet bitter saltiness, fster, slap of Remus' hand against his cock, more salt, the head juicy and swollen on Sirius' tongue, so ready, so close...
Remus went still, let out a hiss of breath, then the first burst of come landed in Sirius' mouth. Triumph, and he swallowed, then swallowed again, and again, Remus' hand so hot on the back of his head, his come so hot on Sirius' tongue. Even when it stopped Sirius kept licking until Remus finally pulled away, his damp cock sliding from Sirius' mouth. He remained in place above Sirius, breathing hard, and tugged at the tie covering Sirius' eyes.
At first Sirius could see nothing, just blinked against the lighter darkness, waiting for the moment when his vision cleared and Remus' face, his whole purpose, would be revealed.
Then fragments began to filter through: broad shoulders, dark hair, a full bottom lip...
"Not who you expected?" It sounded like pieces had been cut from James' voice, and his smile was over-wide, a few shades too bright. "It was strange, like watching you with someone else." He put his hand to his mouth, then let it fall to his side. "But it's not like you didn't know it was me. It's not like any of it was real. Because we were just playing. Pretending. You did know it was me, didn't you?"
"Oh," Sirius said, "of course I knew. It was a game. You didn't think that--?" He laughed without meeting James' eyes. "Honestly, James, it was just a game."
Sirius didn't mean to avoid James after that, or even Remus. It just happened naturally, like the staircases at Hogwarts that changed direction without warning, taking you without malice on a different path. Like the future, slippery and unpredictable.
Not his fault that he fell asleep at odd times and woke at even odder ones to walk along the forest edge in the dark, leaf carcasses crunching under his feet, sneaking into the kitchen for dinner at sunrise. He watched the Quidditch matches from the cliffs, James a tiny bird blown by the wind in the grey October sky, and imagined that he saw Remus and Lex in the stands, pale twins too close together, whispering about Halloween costumes. Sometimes he left class early to crawl into bed or huddle over a book in the library, sometimes studying, sometimes cradling his cheek on the pages.
McGonagall had her lecturing eye out for him, but he was quick around corners, and Hogwarts had a great many corners, some so dank and dusty that even the ghosts avoided them. He'd stand in one, staring at the lichen-covered stone, the stained portraits of long-dead wizards who couldn't even be bothered to stare back, so used to being alone.
Because he felt like the Grim, Sirius began to take that form as he wandered the halls. With his quiet feet and black fur, he blended into the shadows where he heard things, secret crumbs of information that he followed like a trail in the woods.
"...was awful," Lily whispered to Mandy Litvack. "Hurt like you wouldn't believe, and afterward he couldn't get away fast enough. Some summer romance. If only James wasn't..."
Sirius had never rounded a corner so quickly, and caught a pack of house-elves decorating the foyer for Halloween, fixing black and orange streamers to the walls, releasing squeaking clouds of black bats. More twists and turns, then he hit a Slytherin patch:
"...whey-faced poof won't know what hit him. Toads in his cereal, locusts in his spunk..."
A quick reversal spell took care of Lestrange and Macnair's Decem Pestis spell against Remus. If anyone was going to resent Moony, it was Sirius, and he ran, stairs this time, up until mouse bones crunched under his paws, feathers tickling his dog's nose.
"...survival of the fittest..." Lex read a letter as he stood alone in the Owlery, his face the colour of the snowy owl nosing a bowl of mouse parts behind him. "...Love, Father. Sick bastard." An Ignitus spell burned the letter to pieces, sending ash like grey rain to the floor.
Lucky that Lex had Remus to comfort him, Sirius thought as he followed the winding stairs back down, slinking past the entrance to the Astronomy Tower.
"...will soon be legion. A new breed of sorcerer..." In a huddled conversation with McGonagall outside his office, between raspberry hiccups, Dumbledore worried in his casual heart-of-darkness way. "... too many small wars in the way..."
Sirius was very cold, cave-cold, with his hands shaking and goose bumps rising on his skin, like winter had come early, settling inside him.
James didn't sleep alone that night.
It looked like the sun had exploded.
Thousands of pumpkins, candles burning in their hollow core, leered overhead in the Great Hall, burping black smoke. Below, tables groaned under mounds of cocoa cobweb cupcakes, black cat cookies, caramel cauldron toffees, and pitchers of iced pumpkin juice and hot apple cider. Lily had enchanted a dozen suits of armour to act as the band, and from a corner they played Muggle tunes she'd learned over the summer.
The professors all gathered in another corner, drinking cider from skull-shaped cups as they chatted and watched a colourful assortment of flora and fauna, wizards and warriors, wriggle and jerk on the dance floor at the hall's centre. Dumbledore was swathed in pink, a cellophane hat on his head--
"I think he's a sherbert raspberry," Sirius whispered to James as they stood in the doorway.
--while McGonagall wore tiger-skin robes, her nose a pink triangle, a long orange tail snapping so violently behind her that she nearly toppled tiny Professor Flitwick, dressed as a newt.
"Something's got McGonagall twitchy. Wait till the old girl sees me, her ancient shag-buddy come to life." He grinned, then continued to scan the room. "Do you see Remus and the others? Can't wait to see what they're wearing. Moony's been so secretive about....Holy Merlin's bollocks! That can't be them."
"There. Follow the trail of gawks."
Remus and Lex stood side by side beneath a high window wearing costumes identical except in colour. While Lex's costume was startling, not least because he'd given himself long black hair to match the black of his outfit, the shadowy light in the room kept it mostly respectable. The same could not be said for Remus.
His hair was long as Lex's, hanging to his arse, blond and wavy, not straight light brown, and in place of his usual rumpled school uniform he wore a costume made of white glimmering material that clung obscenely to every line of his spare body. With his exposed skin covered in glittery powder it was impossible to tell the difference between flesh and fabric.
"He looks like...Like some rent-boy for rich and famous tossers," James said, while Sirius gasped and cursed. "Someone the Malfoys keep on call. Wow. Who knew Remus had it in him? No wonder McGonagall's tense." He tugged Sirius' arm. "Let's go see what they're supposed to be. Oh, and you might want to close your mouth, Sirius. Flies, and all that."
"I hate him, you know. Lex." Sirius said. "I wish he'd never come to Hogwarts. He's spoiled everything." The music drowned him out, and he followed James through the crowd until they joined Remus and Sirius beneath the window.
"Hi," Remus said. "Isn't this the best party?"
"Remus is enjoying the attention." Lex ran his hand down Remus' back, keeping it there at the base of his spine. He didn't look at the others, only Remus, glancing occasionally at the Muggle time-piece on his wrist. He seemed unable to stand still, though the shifting didn't match the music's beat. "Not that I blame anyone for staring."
James gave them both a once-over, obviously stunned. "Moony, you look positively pornographic. You both do. Just look at McGonagall: she's ready to expel you for public indecency."
"Can't really blame her," Sirius said. "You two are quite the spectacle."
"Feeling upstaged, Sirius?" The black hair made Lex look ghostly, his mouth a vampiric red slash. "It's not enough to be king?"
"Good thing I'm not king or you'd be joining Nearly Headless Nick--"
James cut him off. "So what are you two supposed to be?"
"Day and Night."
"Good and Evil."
Remus and Lex spoke at once, and Remus laughed. "We've been arguing about this for days. But he insists that he's Evil."
"That's the advantage of evil," Lex said. "No one believes in it until it's too late."
"Don't worry. You've made a few converts."
"I need a drink." Without looking back, Sirius made his way toward the food table, bumping into a red-haired Morgan Le Fay. "Sorry." He was about to hurry on, his throat painfully dry, when she stopped him.
"Hold on, Your Highness. Not going to say hello?"
"Lily. Didn't recognize you."
"You mean you didn't see me. Funny how often that happens around this place." She took a sip from the cup in her hand, then grimaced. "Getting drunk should be much more pleasant than this."
"You're getting drunk?"
"Don't sound so surprised. After all, why not? Some people find bad behaviour madly attractive. Take your friend James, for instance. The worse someone is, the better he likes him. Them." She hiccuped, covering her mouth with her hand. "I don't think I have what it takes to be properly bad. Perhaps you could give me lessons."
"I think you should go and lie down for a bit."
"I'd love to believe that you wanted me out of the way, that I was a threat to you and James. But I could stand starkers in front of him, and he'd still be looking at you over my shoulder." Lily took another sip, but her hand, pale with a few scattered freckles on the knuckles, shook, and she spilled a few drops down the front of her green robes. "Bugger."
"Let me help."
Lily stopped him before he could perform the Abluere spell. "Honestly, Sirius, if you try to be kind I'll be sick all over your shoes. I don't want anything to interfere with my intense dislike of you." She gave a quick, harsh laugh. "There's that surprise again. Just because you're dead gorgeous and terribly clever doesn't mean that everyone adores you. You're also an arrogant, selfish git. You think you're so superior to your Pureblood cousins, but in your own way you're just like them, puffed up with your own glory."
"Flattering as this conversation is, I'm off to have a drink."
"Try leaving, and I'll neuter you. Don't think I can't. Remember McGonagall's speech, when I made an arse of myself and sobbed in front of the class? She was right. I was a giggling schoolgirl, and I made up for it over the summer. You think you're a great wizard? I'll have you begging for mercy."
"Fine. Get it out of your system. It's not like this is a party, and I don't have better things to do."
"Like what? Sulk like a two-year-old because some pretty American boy has stolen your favourite toy?"
"I don't know what you mean."
She laughed again. "You should see your face whenever Remus walks into a room. It's pathetic. You can barely breathe when he's around. And when he's not. You stupid, stupid boy. Did you think we couldn't tell? Did you think that James doesn't know? That he doesn't care, that he's not ripped up inside with this sick, mad, ugly, beautiful thing that will never ever go away, just because he's this Quidditch star, because he tells jokes and acts like he's perfectly happy?"
"You don't know what you're talking about." Even as he said it, Sirius flashed on James in the museum, his off- kilter smile. "James is my best mate. He'd tell me if he wasn't perfectly happy."
"I really could hurt you, you know. It's...I think you're just used to it, used to people loving you because you're beautiful and clever and strong, when you're really this horrible deathly thing." Her chest was heaving under her robes and her voice had gone painfully high. "You hurt James every bloody day with your sad, desperate pathetic need for Remus, and he takes it, laps it up like a great big stupid puppy, and you have to stop because he can't. You have to give him up. You have to give him up, and give him to me. He'll never love me properly, but I don't care. At least with me he won't hurt so much....Oh, bloody hell. Here he comes to your rescue. I think I really am going to be sick."
"What's going on here?" James peered at them through his glasses. "You look green as your robes, Evans, and you don't look much better, Sirius."
"Lily's not well."
"He means drunk. I'm drunk, right under Dumbledore's crooked nose. Aren't you impressed with my wickedness? Do try to restrain your desire to throw me to the floor and ravish me because of it."
"What's she on about?"
"Look, she needs taking care of. Can you take her outside before she's sick?"
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, James, don't start disagreeing with him now. Just take me outside, all right? Sirius will be here when you return."
"I'd do it myself, James, but I'd only end up throwing her from the tower."
"Sirius isn't a big fan of the truth." Lily handed him her cup, then took James' arm.
They walked away, Lily's steps unsteady as she clung to James, who looked at Sirius over her shoulder, mouthing, "You owe me."
Sirius finished the mead in Lily's cup, then began to weave his way again toward the food table. With Lily's words sinking from his mind to his stomach, he avoided the sweets, only filling her empty cup with pumpkin juice, gulping it quickly before filling it again. The smoke from the candles was too thick, burning his eyes and lungs; he felt coated in greasy black soot and longed for some fresh air, too. But the last thing he needed was more of Lily and her so-called truths, which stung even worse. James could take care of himself, and if he was so unhappy he'd speak up or find someone else--
...this sick, mad, ugly, beautiful thing that will never ever go away...
Evans was a drunken idiot. None of this was serious; they weren't all locked in something big and forever, none of them. This was Hogwarts, for Merlin's sake. Those sorts of feelings didn't happen here; nothing happened here except homework, sex and Quidditch. Sure, he loved Remus, but it's not like he would die without him. It only felt that way, but feeling that way didn't mean this huge, permanent, terrifying thing that people would weave tapestries about years from now. It was just--
"Sirius, I have something of yours."
For a stomach-churning moment, Sirius thought that Lex meant Remus. "Don't know what you mean."
"I'd left my coin in the cauldron that day we did the Parvus spell, and when I went to collect it, I saw your ring. Thought you might like it back." Lex held out the blood-ring.
"That thing? Keep it. Makes me sick to look at it."
"Are you sure?"
"Keep it. Toss it. I don't care."
Something flickered in Lex's eyes, then he put the ring on his finger. "Thanks."
Sirius engaged in a brief mental battle, losing to himself. "Look, you might not want to wear that. The stone dims when a non-Pureblood's around, so if Lestrange and the others see it dull on your finger, they'll give you a hard time."
"We need to talk. There's a problem."
"Just because I gave you a ring doesn't mean we're engaged. In case you missed it, I don't like you, and--"
"I don't have time for a sparring match. This is important."
"I'm sure it's earth-shattering, but I couldn't care less if a pack of trolls came in here and used you for a toothpick."
"It's about Remus."
"Did he finally come to his senses and throw you over?"
"Remus is in trouble."
Sirius quickly looked around the room and saw Remus talking to Peter, who'd come to the party dressed as an elf. They both looked relaxed and happy, Peter munching on a cupcake while Remus ate a handful of toffees. "Some trouble. I only wish I was half as--"
"My father is a Death Eater," Lex said. While Sirius gaped, he added, "I thought that might get your attention. Look, we need to talk now, and in private. My room. I've already told Remus that I had something important to do, and James is busy, so no one will interrupt us. There's not a lot of time." Without waiting, Lex spun around and left the hall.
If Lex's father really was a Death Eater, it could be a trap. But if Remus was in danger....
Handing a passing first-year his half-empty cup, Sirius hurried after Lex.
Lex's room was at the very top of Slytherin Tower, a small round chamber with a single bed, the canopy in Slytherin gold and green. A framed picture of a red-haired woman sat on the cabinet, smiling at Sirius, the room's only adornment.
"Dumbledore let me move after Rodolphus and Macnair found out I wasn't a Pureblood. I was spending too much time on counter-spells, and those two are too well-connected to care about threats." He shrugged. "This was easier, and I like the privacy."
"That's what I don't understand. If the Luthors aren't Purebloods, then why's your father following Voldemort, since his goal is to wipe out anyone who isn't?"
"My father has other reasons for supporting Voldemort. Money. Power. Survival. He believes that Voldemort will win the war, and my father's a practical, if greedy, man. He helps Voldemort come to power, and he gets everything he wants."
"But if Voldemort ever finds out..."
"Voldemort already knows. Lestrange and Macnair are in league with him. But you don't know my father: no one can spin lies better, and he'll convince everyone that I'm the liar."
"How does Remus fit into this? He'd never help Voldemort, not in a million years."
"Remus has something my father wants. A war needs soldiers, strong ones, and my father has the technology to make them. Or he will, once he has his hands on Remus' blood. Imagine an army of wizards with werewolf's blood."
"You're not listening. Remus would never allow that to happen. Besides, no one knows about Remus except us and Dumbledore, and none of us would ever...You. You told your father. Voldemort knows." Sirius had his wand out. "You bastard. You're some kind of spy."
"If you use that thing, you seal Remus' fate. I'm in the unusual position of being your only hope, so shut up and listen to me. There's only one way to save Remus."
Sirius kept his wand trained on Lex. "If you even breathe too hard, I'll splatter you all over this room."
"You're right about two things. I am a spy. And both my father and Voldemort believe that there's a werewolf at Hogwarts. They suspected it for months before I ever got here, thanks to Lestrange and Macnair. It's why my father sent me to the school: to find the werewolf."
"But you went after Remus from the start. How did you know it was him?"
"I didn't. I knew what to look for: the werewolf had to be someone smart and secretive since he'd never been caught. Since he'd disappear every month, he'd probably have a few friends, close ones who'd help him. When I saw the four of you on the lawn that first day, I knew it was one of you. To be honest, you were the one I first suspected. I could picture you, more than the others, enjoying the taste of blood."
"So why did you choose Remus?"
"Because he was vulnerable, part of the circle but outside at the same time. I could get close to him and he'd help me. You wouldn't. You'd see me as a threat, and you'd never let me close enough. James would only do what you wanted him to, and Peter....Well, he would've been easy enough, but there was something about Remus..."
"You're in love with him."
"I don't know. Maybe. Look, we're wasting too much time. My father is coming soon. He wants Remus' blood, and you're going to help me give it to him."
"If you think for one minute that I'd help--"
"I know you will. I wasn't sure at first. I wasn't even sure you could, even if you wanted to. But a few things convinced me. I saw you yesterday at the Owlery, and--"
"I wasn't at the Owlery..."
"--and found out the second reason your friends call you ‘Padfoot.' That's when the plan started to form. But even tonight I wasn't sure that you'd help, not until I saw your face when you looked at Remus from the doorway. There was something genuine there, beyond the selfish need to possess. It was bored arrogance as usual when you reached us, but it was too late. And when you gave me the ring, I knew you weren't secretly sympathetic to Voldemort's cause. You're smart and you can act, and you're handsome enough that my father will accept my interest in you."
Lex nodded. "You and I are going to put on a show for him. You've always liked an audience, Sirius; I'm giving you the chance tonight to prove that you deserve one." And Lex told him the plan.
His wrists were bound above his head, strong silk rope hooked into a ring that Lex had conjured for the headboard, but there was no desire, only fear and a thick cloud of rising panic. Whenever Lex tried to penetrate him, Sirius tensed, his cock soft and vulnerable between his spread thighs. Stage one of the plan was not a resounding success.
"Pretend I'm Remus," Lex whispered in Sirius' ear, the black mane gone, leaving too much skin. "Pretend that this is his cock. Just don't forget who you are, who I am, and what this is supposed to be. My father will look for signs that this is a trick; trust isn't in his nature. That's why he's coming here in person."
"Might be easier if you shut the hell up."
Sirius closed his eyes and pictured Remus entering him for the first time. It would be slow and tender, Remus' hair hanging in his face as he stared down before kissing him.
Fingers closed around his cock, Remus' fingers, Remus wanting him to feel good, and he began to get hard. ‘We should've done this years ago,' Remus would say. ‘I wanted to, I wanted to so much, but I was scared.' Another kiss, that warm hand moving faster, and a sweet stretching pressure as Remus pushed inside.
"That's it," Lex--
-- Remus said. "Take me in. All the way."
It hurt at first, too big for such a tight space, but Remus distracted him with his busy hand, long powerful strokes up and down Sirius' swollen cock, and when he started to thrust, the pain blurred, then faded.
"That's good," Sirius said. "Do it like that."
"Wrap your legs around me."
When he did what Remus asked, the changed new angle brought a new pressure, a hot blinding one, good enough that he could safely open his eyes.
"You have such a sweet ass," Lex said. "I could fuck you all night."
It was easy now to play along, Lex too practised with his cock and fingers. "Do it. Fuck me all night."
"You love it. You fucking slut." Lex bent down and sank his teeth into Sirius' neck--
And over Lex's shoulder, Sirius saw James in the doorway. His face... "Fuck. No."
Lex raised his head, twisting around. "Get lost, James. You can have him back when I'm done."
James didn't move, just stood there, looking painfully young in his Merlin costume, the hat perched precariously on his head, his cheeks flushed, breathing had like he'd run up the stairs. "Lily was sick. Then she wasn't, but she told me to go, and someone said you'd gone off with Lex. But I didn't think..."
No time to explain, not with a Death-Eater on his way, and, feeling sick, Sirius followed Lex's lead. "James, bugger off. Now. Go find Lily again and cry on her shoulder."
"Come on, James," Lex said. "Face it: you were a substitute. So am I. Why do you think he's with me? Any idiot can see that Sirius is in love with Remus. Any idiot except you."
"He's right, James, about all of it. Now stop being a pathetic git for a change and fuck off."
"He needs my cock, James. He needs it, and you're killing the mood, standing there like some lost little puppy. Go fuck yourself, because no one else wants you."
James slowly turned, and they could hear his pounding footsteps down the stairs.
Then Lex moved so that he was over Sirius, blocking the doorway, his hand jerking faster, his strokes deep and smooth. "Remus said your name when I fucked him," he whispered. "When he came. I don't think he even knew. I was inside him, my cock was inside him, and he said your name."
Didn't matter if this was a lie; it wrenched him from the sick punch of guilt, threw him back into the rhythm, while a hot flush spread across his skin, under it. This was what Lex had done to Remus, fucked him so hard and well that Remus forgot everything, went to that dark animal place in his brain where it was only pleasure and blood.
"I want you to come for me," Lex said. Then quietly, "That's what I said to him."
"Harder. Do it harder. So hard it hurts."
Lex did, fucking him roughly, and Sirius needed this, the brutality, to forget James, his white sick face, to forget that someone was again standing in the doorway, someone new, a tall dark shadow, and people were going to die if he didn't let go. He stared up at Lex, saw Remus, saw James, two people that he loved too much and not enough, and told them, over and over again, as his body curved into Lex's, pure liquid.
The shadow moved, and Sirius thought, ‘That's the future, a black shadow that will swallow us all,' so he hooked his tongue onto Lex's name, called it as he came in Lex's hand.
"That's it," Lex said. "That's it."
Sirius, who'd never stopped hating Lex, raised his head to kiss him, kept his mouth on Lex's while Lex sighed and shuddered, coming inside him.
The shadow stepped closer, and the candlelight struck it, giving it form. Lionel Luthor was elegant death, his face a handsome skull covered in skin stretched over bone, his body little more than a skeleton's in a pinstriped suit. His hair fell to his shoulders, sprouted on his mouth and chin, more like a werewolf than Remus could ever be, and when he smiled, his teeth were large and too white. This was the Grim.
"Is this the one?" He had a slippery low voice, and sounded curious on the surface, hungry underneath.
Lex rolled off Sirius, and a quick spell left him standing clean and composed. "This is the one."
"Lex, what's going on?"
Sitting on the bed beside Sirius, Lionel dipped his finger into the come splattered on Sirius' stomach, then raised it to his lips. His tongue snaked out to catch the drop, and there was a quiet moment while he contemplated the taste. "Nothing unusual," he finally said, clearly disappointed. "But I suppose if it tasted of blood and the moon, you'd be less willing to let him go, Lex."
"Lex, I don't understand. Why won't you untie me? And who is this? What's he doing here?" It wasn't hard to sound scared with Lionel's flat black eyes fixed on him.
"Young man, do you ever think of the future?"
He struggled against the cords. "Lex...Please..."
"No, I don't suppose you do," Lionel said dreamily. "Your appetite gets in the way. I'm here to show you your destiny. To give you your fate. Are you in love with my son?"
Sirius thought of Remus. "I...Yes. But--"
"Would you do anything for him? Give him anything he asks?"
"I gave him that ring. The one he's wearing."
Lex took a step closer and silently offered his hand to his father.
"Very pretty." Lionel plucked the ring from Lex's finger, sliding it on to his smallest one.
"You can't do that! It's his. Lex, tell him. And let me go. Please."
"The problem with love," Lionel continued, "is that it makes you weak. Here you are, naked, bound and helpless." His eyes on Lex, he pinched Sirius' nipple, twisting it until he cried out.
"Lex, stop him. Help me."
"You need to be strong to survive. From what I hear, you're very strong, at least when the moon is full."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Lionel slapped him once, hard across the face, then pulled a silver box from his breast pocket, placing it on one pinstriped thigh. "It's time to share your strength." He opened the box and withdrew a syringe. "In the thigh," Lionel said to Lex. "I like the symbolism."
As the light hit the silver needle, long as a finger, Sirius began to struggle again, kicking and pulling hard as he could against the cords, but succeeded only in bruising his wrists. "Lex! Stop him! I'm begging you. I'll do anything."
"It will hurt less if you don't fight it." Lex climbed onto the bed, placing a knee on either side of Sirius' legs. "But in case you don't..."
"Why are you doing this, Lex? Just tell me that."
The needle plunged into Sirius' thigh. It shocked him despite the warning, the sight of it breaking into his skin, the rush of stolen blood welling into the cylinder. He wanted to kill them both, rip their flesh from their bones, then burn the bones themselves, dancing on the ashes before leaping into the flames, because if this was the future he'd rather be dead.
"I hate you," he said. "I hate you."
"That's the spirit. That hate will take you far." Withdrawing the needle, Lionel detached the red vial, then held it to his lips, not entirely tasting, not entirely kissing. "Few things are more beautiful than blood."
Taking the silver box from the bed, he carefully placed the tube inside. "Dark times are coming, and to survive we must build an army. This," he added, touching the box, "is the tool I need to build one."
No one spoke, but Lionel didn't seem to notice--or simply assumed that the perfect logic of genocide required no response. While Lex left the bed, walking to the window, his father stroked the box once, returned it to his pocket, and headed for the door. His shoes were made of a skin shinier in death than in life, noiseless against the stone; not even Death would move so quietly.
Framed by the doorway, he looked back over his shoulder. "Naturally, this must be kept quiet. Not everyone is sympathetic to our cause, and if the wrong people should hear about this, Dumbledore, for instance...Well, it's always a tragedy when one dies young. This school has so many staircases, and it would be so easy to fall." He said this conversationally, as though a murder-threat was a normal goodbye.
His final smile was like an eclipse.
"Just a second, Dad," Lex said. "There's something I forgot to tell you."
"I don't have time for this, Lex. Whatever it is, it can wait. I need to get the blood to the lab."
"I don't think you want to do that."
"And why not?" There were razors in Lionel's voice.
"I know how you hate to be embarrassed."
"I hope," Lionel said quietly, "that you're not about to tell me that this boy is a substitute, that you've got the real one hidden away. Because I'll find him and take from him a lot more than a single vial of blood. I came here precisely to do just that, should the need arise."
"No, there's only him. It's just that there's been a mistake. Whoever told you that there was a werewolf at Hogwarts was wrong."
Lionel shook his head. "Nice try, Lex. Seems you're not as immune to his pretty face as you acted. Good night."
"Hold on, Dad. I have something to show you." Lex untied the cords at Sirius' wrists. "Have you ever heard of the Animagus spell? It's difficult to perform, not to mention against the rules, but not impossible for a smart seventh-year student. You do understand the lure of the forbidden, Dad, don't you?" He nodded at Sirius. "Show him. Show him how wrong he's been about everything."
Sirius leapt from the bed, changing in mid-air, so that he landed on all fours as the Grim, barring his teeth at Lionel. He smelled fear, death and hatred, saw Lionel's red rage through his Grim eyes, and howled.
"See, Dad? It's just magic. He's not a werewolf, just a big dog." Lex reached down, stroking Sirius' fur. "There's nothing in his blood that you wouldn't find in mine." This time it was Lex who smiled.
"Lex..." Lionel's eyes had gone deadly, inhuman as a lizard's. "Lex, you've wasted my time with your petty act of revenge, this childish charade, stringing me along for months. I'd lie if I said I wasn't disappointed in you."
"Really, Dad? I thought you'd be proud that I can lie as well as you. Besides, you'll get over it. Until the next time."
"If there's a next time, I won't be quite so forgiving." The razors were now behind Lionel's eyes. "Despite what some people believe, children are replaceable."
"If only fathers were," Lex said, as Lionel stormed from the room.
It was over, leaving the small cold room, with its stone walls and near-emptiness, quiet as a tomb.
Then Lex slammed the door, a crack that jolted Sirius alive, and he returned to his human form, cleaning and clothing himself with a few quick spells before throwing open a window, sucking in the night air. When the urge to vomit passed, he turned back to Lex. "You're still alive only because nothing I could do to you could be worse than having to live with a father like that."
"Dear old Dad. He's a charmer, isn't he?"
"He's a monster." Sirius watched as Lex dragged a suitcase from beneath the bed and began to pack. "You're leaving?"
"Consider it payback for tonight."
"What about Remus? He thinks he's going to America with you. He's in love with you."
"The further I am from Remus, the safer he is."
"He doesn't know that."
"Sirius, you do realize that James will have told him about us? Remus will be glad to see me gone. Besides, he....No, screw that. I'm giving up enough."
"You can explain to him, Lex. Tell him what happened. You can...Fuck."
"You're beginning to see the problem. What's going to hurt him more: knowing that I deliberately used him, put him and everyone in danger, or that I cheated on him with you?"
"But you ended up saving him. You can tell him that, that you chose him over your father."
"You really think he'd believe me if I told him the truth about what happened tonight? It will sound like a pathetic attempt to explain why I slept with you, especially after James' account of what he saw. It's Occam's razor: Remus, with his logical brain, will believe the conclusion based on the fewest assumptions, which is that I fucked you because I wanted you. For various reasons, Remus won't find that hard to accept."
"But you don't even like me."
"Since when does like have anything to do with sex? You of all people should know that."
"So you're just going to leave me here with this mess?"
Lex turned from the wardrobe, his arms laden with shirts. "Things were a mess before I ever arrived, Sirius. I didn't make Remus lonely, and I didn't sleep with James because he was easier to bed than the person I really wanted. You did that."
"I spent my life before Hogwarts listening to my mother talk about hate. She hated a lot of people and a lot of things, and I never understood why. ‘Hate' was always an abstract word to me. Until now."
"Blame me if it makes you feel better. Look, I'm sorry for what you went through tonight. It took balls to do what you did, knowing how ugly it would be. You could've turned me down when I warned you, but you stuck it out, did exactly as we'd arranged. Giving him the ring was a nice touch."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"It's supposed to make you realize that you'll get through this."
"Easy for you to say when you're running away."
"I'm cutting my losses. Trust me: this is best for everyone."
"What will you do when you're home?"
Lex shrugged. "Keep up my side in the war with my father. See if there's more of my mother inside me." He looked toward the framed picture. "Sometimes I forget that she's part of me, that I'm not the result of some lab experiment in parthenogenesis."
"You'd have hair if you were," Sirius said, not unkindly. "Every time you look in a mirror you can see that you're not just like him."
"Interesting point." Lex ran his hand over his smooth head. "Could be why he hates to see me like this."
"I need to go. The last thing I need is to like you. If we're lucky, we'll never meet again and can happily hate each other for all eternity."
Lex raised a pair of socks in mock-tribute. "Here's to a future without each other. May people find happiness despite us." As Sirius turned to go, Lex added, "Wait. Don't forget this." And he handed Sirius his crown.
for part 3.
Go here to return to part 1.
The Third. (c) Thamiris, January 2004
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