Title: It All Comes Down to the Moon
Word count: 3,760
Pairing(s): SB/RL, SB/JP
Warning(s): Suicidal thoughts, mild language, homosexual content
Summary: In the end its always just Remus and the moon.
Author notes: This started out as a lot of pointless smut, but then an epiphany hit me and it turned grim and serious towards the end. It was, I'm afraid, unavoidable. I hope it turned out alright. Also, I think there's a rogue comma hiding in here somewhere. I wasn't able to find it.
Inspirations: Savage Garden's "To the Moon and Back"
Disclaimer: Come now, we all know I'm not JKR, and these are not my toys.
Sirius Black was a natural lover, but love did not come naturally to him. That is to say, he was one of the most sought-after boys to attend Hogwarts through the seventies. All the women wanted him, and those that got him were not few, but rarely repeated. Afterwards they could be heard to sigh and smile and giggle as they told their girlfriends how wonderful he had been in bed. That was it, though. He never pursued a relationship with any of them. He was never seen about the school with a girl on his arm, never walked the streets of Hogsmeade with a date. Always it was his mates by his side. The Marauders, they called themselves, with James Potter at their head and Sirius Black as second mate. No one dared cross them unless they wanted a fight, and if they did cross them it was a fight they got. The four boys fought the same way they did everything from homework to playing pick-up Quidditch: as a well-oiled machine, watching each others' backs, moving together like they were choreographed. They were unpredictable and would make up hexes on the spot, often never to repeat them. The other students quickly learned to keep an eye open, or risk missing one.
Despite all his intelligence and his accomplishments, despite his social standing simply by being a Black in name, despite the comraderie he shared with James, Remus and Sirius, there was something missing. There was a hole in his heart where love should be. His mother's idea of love was to berate him and yell at him for every wrongdoing, real or imagined. His father's idea of love was to ignore him in favor of parading Regulus around at dinners and gatherings as if he were the last scion of the Blacks. Sirius was shuffled to the back of the shelf, hidden away and not talked about like some sort of skeleton in the closet of what he referred to as the Ignoble and Most Antiquated House of Quacks. He would never admit his lonliness to his mates. Instead, he waited until he was certain they were sleeping and then he would slip out of bed and to the top of the tower where he would sit hunkered down behind the crenellated battlement, wrapped in his cloak against he cold night air. If the sky was clear, he would seek out his own star first, and then proceed to lose himself in contemplation of the constellations. (Oddly enough, Astronomy was not one of his better subjects, but Remus insisted that was simply because he refused to do well on the written portions.
"You just don't apply yourself," he would say as he agonized over what was already eleven inches more than was asked for, and written in tiny, precise (girly, James said) handwriting. "You know the material, you should get top marks."
"But Astronomy isn't a subject I study," Sirius would reply flippantly, "It's something I do for fun."
Sirius watched the waxing moon as it hung in the sky, its brightening outshining the dimer stars around it so that they became invisible. He used to resent the moon for hiding the stars. As a small boy he would shout at it and rage and demand imperiously that it go away so that he could see them. Now he resented it for what it did to Remus.
"Pads, you up here?" Remus' whispered voice dragged him from his reverie and he pulled his cloak tighter around him.
"Over here, Moony," he said, though Remus was already creeping towards him.
Remus pulled his own cloak around his pyjamas, shivering as the cold crept towards his bones. "What are you doing up here?" he asked.
"Couldn't sleep," Sirius shrugged.
"Something bothering you?"
You... Sirius wanted to say, because the truth was that for all the fooling around he did with the female contingent of the school, he had long known that his mates were closer to him than any of them would ever be. It was the closest thing to love that he had ever felt, although he didn't know to define it as that.
"Sirius?" Remus laid his hand on Sirius' knee when he didn't reply.
"You know I'd do anything for you, right?" Sirius turned to look at Remus.
"Of course," Remus replied with a concerned frown, "And I you. What's wrong?"
"I was just thinking about what happens next," Sirius sighed. "I mean, what happens when school is over, when we no longer have this to come back to? What do we do after graduation?"
Remus sighed. That question was weighing heavier on all of their minds than anything else. In eight months their childhoods would be over forever. They would have to be adults and soldiers, and there was a distinct possibility that some of them might not make it out alive. As they went into their final year at Hogwarts there was a different attitude about them. Even Lily noticed the change. She had been on civil speaking terms with James almost since they boarded the train.
"We go to war," he said matter-of-factly. "We can't help but, because someone's got to, and if we don't, then who will?"
"But what about what we want to do?" Sirius asked, distinctly aware of the warmth seeping into his knee from Remus' hand. "What if we just want to go away somewhere, where he can't affect us?"
"If we go away, in a very short while I'm afraid there won't be any place where he can't affect us."
"What about there?" Sirius asked, gazing upward.
"What, the moon?"
"Yeah, we could fly to the moon. Muggles managed it ten years ago. Surely we could do it."
Remus shook his head and sighed. "Sirius, muggles have technology that you and I could never understand. Do you have any idea how a space ship works?"
"No, but I could learn," Sirius said.
"I'm going back to bed," Remus said, a wry smile on his lips. "Come back down before you freeze your bits off." He moved towards the trapdoor but a hand on his arm stayed him and he turned back to see Sirius watching him intently.
"Stay," Sirius said, his voice low, his eyes almost too bright in the moonlight.
Without a word, Remus settled back down beside him, watching him. Sirius gazed at Remus for the silent space of two breaths before he was suddenly kissing him, their lips locked in heated, needy passion unlike anything he showed to the girls. They saw the playboy, the strutting, cool cat image that he showed when he was in public. This was the boy-turned-young-man who had never known love until he met these closest friends, and god help him, Remus was kissing him back, needing as much as he was needed. Their cloaks fell away as they embraced, no longer concerned with the cold or the stars or the waxing moon. They brought each other off with hands and mouths and empassioned murmers and, as the first hints of the pale pink dawn started to lighten the sky, two boys lay together in a nest of cloaks and watched the stars disappear one by one as night gave way to day.
If anyone wondered why two of the Marauders seemed overly tired the next day, it was chalked up to late night NEWT cramming and upcoming midterm exams. James and Peter took extra careful notes to help them out and never once questioned them, because that's the sort of friendship they had. They watched out for each other. As the term wound down towards Christmas and the exams that had been plaguing the seventh-year students dropped one by one from their schedules, they began making plans for the holidays. There were discussions of who was staying and who would be going home. Lily, James discovered, would be spending Christmas with her family. She was worried for their safety with the increasing number of muggle-borns' families being openly attacked, and she wanted to be there to do whatever she possibly could. James begged her to invite him along, tried to convince her that he could be some help, but she turned him down.
"You need to be with your family, Potter," she said, but the usual harshness wasn't there.
"I want to be with you," he said as she walked away.
"Don't worry, mate," Sirius said, clapping him on the shoulder, "She'll warm up eventually... when Hell freezes over!" With that he turned and ran away, almost quick enough to escape James' grab. In a tangle of bodies and laughing and flailing arms and legs they tumbled around in the middle of the common room floor. There was a cry of dismay when they collided with Remus and caused a huge streak of ink to scratch across his parchment. He called them several creative names and landed several well-aimed kicks before Sirius leapt up, grabbed his parchment and sprinted up the stairs with it.
"Give it back, wanker! It's due tomorrow!" Remus jumped over the back of the couch and ran up the stairs after him, James hot on his heels. Peter was only glad he was working at a table in the corner, because he really needed to finish his essay.
The proceeding racket from the dorms drew the attention of several Gryffindors, but none bothered to get up and investigate. By now they were used to the Marauders' antics and mostly ignored them unless they involved other houses. There were several titters of amusement when Sirius was heard to scream in an unfortunately girlish manner, followed by several loud thumps, a slammed door and the sound of breaking crockery. Remus appeared at the top of the stairs and made his dignified way back to the couch, looking much rumpled but victorious. Neither James nor Sirius reappeared, but the noise level dropped some. Many of those in the common room assumed they were plotting some new and devious mischief and hoped that whatever it was wouldn't lose them any points.
Sirius was sitting on the floor between the beds, gingerly touching his cheekbone and examining his reflection in a hand mirror. "Damn, that boy can sure throw a punch!" he said as he admired the spread of purple on his face. Remus' left hook had caught him just below his right eye, knocking him soundly on his arse before he had reclaimed his purloined essay.
"Want me to kiss it better?" James asked helpfully, lounging across Sirius' bed and peering down at him.
"Yeah, come kiss it better!" Sirius said, puckering up. James, not one to back down from a challenge, laid as good a kiss on Sirius as he'd ever laid on anyone. Not to be outdone, Sirius gave as good as he got, pulling James down on top of him. The casual observer might have thought them locked in passionate embrace (if said casual observer got over their shock with enough presence of mind to think anything at all) but truly each was simply trying to outdo the other. However, when the empassioned cavorting resulted in the inevitable, they backed off by mutual unspoken agreement. Breathing heavily and watching each other with what barely bordered on teenage lust, they wordlessly called it a draw. Sirius was the first to break, bursting into laughter, folowed close by James before they retired together to seperate cubicles of the Gryffindor boys' toilet to dispense with their uncomfortable situations.
In the way that time does, especially when we wish it would not, time went on. Christmas came and went, the Winter term started and then wound into Spring finals and NEWT exams. Outside of Hogwarts the world became drearier and more frightenin as Voldemort and his followers grew in influence. People were dying, and many of them didn't even know why. Students lost their parents, their aunts and uncles, their brothers, sisters, cousins, friends; and those who survived banded together. James and Lily were married in a desperately beautiful ceremony. It was perfect, too perfect, as if even the churchyard were trying to compensate for the darkness all around it. Everyone smiled and danced and cried and Sirius gave a touching toast that made James blush and duck his head and Remus laugh and Peter roll his eyes and smirk. Just before they left for their short and hasty honeymoon, James disappeared and Lily went looking for him. She found him behind the church, in a tearful embrace with Sirius while Remus clasped one of his hands tightly and Peter slung his arms around them both.
"I can't bear to see anything happen to any of you," James said, his voice rough with emotion. "Please, please watch each other's backs while I'm gone."
"We will, mate, we will," they each assured him.
"Peter, don't get caught alone. Don't let them gang up on you."
"I won't James."
"Remus, I'll be back for the full moon, I promise."
"I know, James, I know."
"Pads..." James' voice broke and he could say no more. After a shuddering gasp he managed, "Look out for Moony and Wormtail... and for Merlin's sake don't break your fool neck on that bloody machine of yours!"
They all shared a tearful laugh as Lily backed away quietly, unwilling to intrude. She went back inside where she flitted about and played the blushing bride for a little while longer until her boys came back in. The rice was thrown and a horse-drawn carriage carried James and Lily off to their apparation point where they disappeared, if only for a short while, away from England and beyond the reaches of Voldemort. Sirius watched them go, flanked by Remus and Peter, all of them trying to look happy and only managing grim. Afterward the three Marauders retired to a bar where they commenced to toast away their worries for the rest of the night.
"I love you guys, you know that?" Sirius blinked as he tried to get his eyes to focus through the layer of alcohol in his blood.
"I love you too, mate," Peter said, trying to punch him playfully on the arm and missing, then looking puzzled.
Remus gave a completely undignified snort at Peter's lack of coordination and just as quickly he expression sobered. "It's all going to hell, isn't it?"
"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Sirius said, slamming his glass on the table and sloshing his drink.
"Oooh, party foul," Peter muttered.
"No, I mean it," Sirius said insistently. "I would... I would..." He blinked at Remus. "What was I saying?"
"You were saying how you were going to singlehandedly save the world," Remus said helpfully, then hiccupped, then giggled.
"I would," Sirius said, as if this were a grand (and entirely new) suggestion. "I would save the world. I would do anything for you guys. You guys're my mates."
"We know, Sirius," Remus said, patting his arm.
"I would fly to the moon for you," Sirius said gravely, then insisted, "I would."
For the next four years the four boys, grown too early into men, clung together against a tide that fast threatened to pull them into a sea of adversity. They rushed headlong into danger with little thought for their own safety. Can anyone fault Peter for being overcome? He tried, really he did, but when all was said and done, he just couldn't keep up. When it came down to it, they were all losing ground by the end. Remus fell behind when Sirius started to doubt him. James had Lily, and later Harry to think about, and anyone would break down under that kind of pressure. Sirius was always a little mad, but he only seemed to get madder as the war wore on everyone's nerves. The night he crouched in the Forbidden Forest with James was one of his sanest moments.
"We can't keep doing it any more," James said. "I'm not backing out, mate, you know that, but he's targeted Harry specifically now. I don't think he'll stop until he gets him, and Lily has to stand in his way, and I have to stand between him and Lily. There's just no other way, mate. I can't protect them anymore."
"What can I do to help?" Sirius spoke calmly and quietly, and James knew that he understood.
"I need you to help hide us." James reached out and grasped Sirius' arm tightly. "I need you to be our Secret-Keeper. For Lily, and Harry, Sirius. I need you to do it for me."
"I'll do it," Sirius said, without a second thought.
"You're the only one I can ask," James said regretfully. "I mean, you're the only one I would ask, but..."
"I know." Doubting Remus was one of the hardest things Sirius had ever done. He would as soon doubt James as to doubt Remus, and he wished like hell that he didn't, but there was so much uncertainty and... well, it all came down to the werewolf, didn't it? Just like Remus had always been afraid of, it all came down to that age-old prejudice. He was a dark creature, he kept secrets. Everyone knew that Remus was one of the best secret-keepers around, and so when it came to keeping the biggest secret, he was the last person that they trusted with theirs. Peter had nothing to hide, they though. He was just as frightened as the rest of them, but Remus, pragmatist that he was, kept even the secret of his own fear and uncertainty. No one thought about the irony of the fact that the reason they suspected him of sharing secrets was that he kept them so well.
When James told Peter and Remus that he was going into hiding with Lily and the baby his choice was obvious to them. Remus nodded grimly and wished them luck, looking especially to Sirius and adding that of course Sirius would be going into hiding as well. Peter pointed out quite bluntly that everyone would know immediately that Sirius was the Secret-Keeper.
"Well we won't publicise the fact that we've used the Fidelius charm," James said.
"It's only until the tide turns," Sirius said, trying to sound hopeful. "Once we catch the traitor things should turn in our favor."
"If we catch the traitor," Peter said darkly, looking worried.
"When," Sirius corrected him firmly.
Remus said nothing, he only gazed sadly at the waning moon: an image that was burned into Sirius' mind as he watched the moon from the small window high in the wall of his cell through the months and years that followed. How he could have suspected Remus he no longer knew. When he escaped and single-mindedly tracked down Harry in Surrey and then Peter at Hogwarts he kept that image like an old photo in the back pocket of his mind and swore to himself in the last waking moments of drifting off to sleep that he would never doubt Remus again. When he was trapped in Grimmauld Place for month after depressing, maddening month he managed only barely to keep himself in check with the thought of the years that Remus had spent alone because of his distrust.
In a rare moment of peace, celebrating Remus' birthday in March, just the two of them alone in the mouldering library of the old house, Sirius asked Remus what he wanted for a gift.
"You once said you wanted to go away from all of this," Remus replied softly.
"To the moon," Sirius said, remembering.
"To the moon." Remus smiled sadly.
"I still would, too. I would fly you to the moon and back."
"I know you would, Sirius, but I'm afraid you would have to take Harry first."
"I could never leave you alone again."
"I'm not sure I would."
"You'd have to. Harry needs you."
"I need you."
Remus couldn't have known then that three months later how ironic that conversation was. Sirius did leave Remus alone again, and Harry too. Remus survived, but only because Harry needed him to, even if he couldn't be there for him in the way that Sirius had been; and most of all, Remus found that he needed Sirius, needed him most now, when he was irrevocably beyond his grasp. All around him people were falling, as if Sirius had been the first domino in a long line of dominoes. After Sirius came Dumbledore, and then Peter in a final, desperate change of heart, and then, faster than he cared to count, others, until two years later the last domino fell, and to everyone's relief it was Voldemort himself, but by that time Remus no longer cared. He was just so very tired. He felt as if he could simply sleep forever, if only he could just get to sleep. He stared at the sleeping potion that he'd been given to help alleviate his fatigue and wondered if it was enough to really make him sleep forever. It would be poetic for him to die here, in the Shrieking Shack, where his best friends had gathered around him. Now he would join them all. He lifted the vial to drink the potion, but a hand stayed his movement.
"I told you I wouldn't leave you alone, Remus."
Remus stared, heedless of the potion now trickling into the floorboards amidst shards of broken glass. "But... but... how...?"
Sirius reached out to brush Remus' hair away from his face. "James and Lily say hello, by the way, and thank you for helping Harry win."
"But how are you here? Am I dead or dreaming?"
"Neither. There is no power in Heaven or Hell that can keep me from you, Remus. I escaped from Azkaban with you in my back pocket, and I escaped from Death with you in my heart."
"You cannot escape death."
"It's only for a little while. When I go back I promise you can go along this time. We've still got our trip to make, after all."
"Our trip to the moon."
And so, when love finally came to Sirius Black, he had to fight against nature itself to keep it. No longer was he Second Mate to James' Captain, but he finally knew what he wanted. When it all boiled down, in the end all he really wanted most was Remus, and the moon, and he'd be damned if he'd let some manky bit of tapestry take that from him.