[identity profile] jammasterjayne.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux
Title: Thieves (The Careful What You Take Remix)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] siriaeve
Summary: Some things you can never give back. 2050 words.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Remus/Sirius
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Characters and settings are Ms Rowling's, not mine.
Original story: Thieves by [livejournal.com profile] kenazfiction
Notes: Many thanks to my betas, [livejournal.com profile] sheafrotherdon and [livejournal.com profile] trinityofone, who made this much more fluid and intelligible than it would otherwise be. All remaining mistakes are my own.


Later, when they disentwine,
You from I and yours from mine
Neither can be certain who
Was that I whose mine was you.
To the act again they go
More completely not to know

   —'The Thieves', Robert Graves.


"I never," Sirius says later, much later. It's the most he's spoken in a while, and his words are quiet, muffled against Remus' shoulder; his hands are careful on Remus' skin, fingers curved against the unfamiliar arch of hipbone. "You know I didn't, you know you could—"

"Shh," Remus says, "It's okay." His fingertips skate the length of Sirius' spine, and his tone is gentle, full of more forgiveness than Sirius wants, more than he can stand to hear right now, because it's not okay, it's—he tightens his grasp, just a little, presses a kiss to the line of Remus' throat, and can barely let himself want more.

It's not okay. It's not. Maybe it can be.

----------


There was something about the top step of the staircase which led from Gryffindor Tower all the way down to the Arithmancy classrooms. Acoustics, maybe, echo building upon echo, corners and angles meeting just so; or maybe it was the remnants of a long-ago prank, a forgotten spell, words begetting words—for if Sirius dawdled there on his way to class, on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, he could hear the words of people far below him as sharp and clear as if they were standing next to him.

One Tuesday morning, he heard Barnabas Fillthrop confide in his twin about a mysterious rash he had, red-sore and blistering, a rash that Barnabas' girlfriend just couldn't find out about; and Sirius grinned, and filed that away for later use.

One Thursday afternoon, he heard Winifred Sapp tell Gina Lenihan a long and involved story which centred around the elastic in McGonagall's underpants, and both of Sirius' eyebrows flew upwards. He had giggle fits throughout the last class of the day, throughout dinner—and when James eyed him over the bowl of mashed potatoes and told him that he was utterly barmy, Sirius lost it entirely. He slid, still giggling, under the table, and laughed himself quiet with his face mashed against Remus' knee.

One any-old afternoon, Sirius heard a voice, young and indistinct and carelessly malicious, say, just at his ear, "No, I heard it from Mary, and she heard it from Wilbur Twistleton, and he saw it himself—and you know Wilbur doesn't have the imagination to make up something like that."

"But Lupin always seemed so normal," another voice said, and Sirius' heart stopped, breath halting and stuttering and oh no, he thought, Remus, no, in the instant before he heard "I thought so too, but Wilbur said he was on his knees in front of Davey Gudgeon, and—well, you can't always tell with queers, can you? I know I—"

The voices faded away, and it was just Sirius, standing still, in an empty, echoing stairwell.

----------


There's something different about the house that Remus lives in, about the place where Sirius goes to hide. It coaxes memories from him, remembrances, in a way that Sirius can never understand. This cottage is shabby and old and small, but new to both of them, bare white walls and empty rooms; no memories lurk around corners for him, no shades of the past to take him unawares on sunlit mornings when the world seems quiet.

Sirius is not even there for long enough to make the place his or theirs, for a slip of the tongue to make it home; two weeks there together isn't enough to let him understand what makes him turn to Remus over tea and say "D'you remember that time in third year, with Prongs and the honey?" or "What was that song Lily used to sing, the one with the rude words? No, the other one," or "I'm sorry, Remus, I'm so sorry, it was just, just, I couldn't stand that I didn't know."

----------


The rest of Sirius' classes that day were awful, but dinner was unbearable. Snape passed by on his way to the Slytherin table, and sneered at Remus and Sirius both; and all around them, through three courses, the air hummed with the blatant curiosity of hundreds of teenagers. They all whispered and nodded, passing judgement like this was the worst thing that they could possibly know about Remus; Sirius bit down on what he wanted to say, hating how Remus tried to act like it was nothing, though his lips were pressed into a thin line, and he hadn't eaten a thing.

Peter looked like he'd noticed nothing, or maybe like he didn't care, busily chasing stray peas around his plate. In between mouthfuls of stew, James peered at Remus through his glasses and said, "Are you, then?"

Remus nodded stiffly, not looking up, like he couldn't bear to tell any of them, couldn't bear to tell him, and Sirius threw his napkin down onto his plate, stalking out of the Great Hall without a backward glance. He could feel eyes on him anyway, could hear the whispers, and the sound of his footsteps was too loud on the flagstones.

He couldn't tell if Remus was watching him.

----------


"I would have, you know," Remus tells him. It's late, and neither of them can sleep; around them, Grimmauld Place is filled with the silence of a house that's waiting, and the bottle of Firewhiskey that stands on the bedside table is almost empty. "There were times when I wanted to, I wanted... I was afraid."

"Remus," Sirius says; his voice is hoarse, anger-raw, and when he reaches out to clasp Remus' wrist, his fingers are cool and rough.

----------


There was an alcove near the back of the library, between shelves of obscure history books and stacks of outdated arithmancy texts, that was always full of dust and sunlight. Far away from where most other students went to study, it was Remus' favourite place to go when he wanted to read in peace, or when he didn't want to admit that he was upset.

He was there on Saturday morning, when Sirius found him at last. He didn't look up when Sirius sat down on the window seat opposite him; didn't even look up at first when Sirius spoke to him, just stared, unseeing, at the book clutched in his hands.

"How stupid are you?" Sirius said. Silence stretched between them, until Sirius snapped, "I didn't mean that rhetorically." Remus looked up at that, slowly, and his cheeks were just a little flushed; it took Sirius a moment to realise why, to replay his words, his tone, in his head, and hear how much he sounded like his mother. He sat up straighter.

"You could've said."

Some expression passed over Remus' face—something new, and it was perhaps the first time in years that Sirius couldn't read him, didn't know what Remus was thinking or feeling or hiding. Then again, it was clear to him now that he hadn't known Remus entirely, not at all; that maybe all those things Sirius knew about him, all the private things that came from years of being friends, none were real. He hadn't wanted them to know his biggest secret; hadn't known if he could trust them, if it was safe.

"If I had told you," Remus said, meeting Sirius' eyes for the first time, "if I had, what would you have said? What would you have done?"

Sirius bit down on his lower lip, worrying at a piece of chapped skin until he felt it give and bleed, the faint taste of blood like old copper and magic in his mouth. "That's not the point," he said finally, though he was—he—he didn't know the answer to that, and he thought by the look on Remus' face that he knew that, too.

"I rather think it is," Remus said, and his voice was very even. Even now, Sirius still knew what that tone of voice meant.

"Fuck you," Sirius spat; his words were very loud in the library hush.

----------


"You know I can't tell you where I'm going," Remus says, and Sirius knows that if Molly Weasley weren't making a lot of very obvious noise in the kitchen right now, with pots and pans and cheerful chatter, Remus' voice would be much louder.

"Can't or won't?" Even Sirius can hear that he's being childish, all his control worn away by weeks and weeks of the same bloody argument, but somehow that only makes him angrier, clenching his fists, feeling his cheeks flush red. "Don't you—" he says, but he can't even make the words trust me pass his lips.

"Sirius," Remus says, and the lines around his eyes, his mouth, are deep. He looks tired. He looks old. "Please."

Sirius turns on his heel and walks back up the stairs.

----------


Sirius followed him. He knew that he shouldn't, knew that this wouldn't make Remus trust him any more than he did now; but something made Sirius slip out of the Common Room behind him that evening. Remus walked quickly, footsteps echoing on the flagstones, head down; Sirius hung back, trusting to the late evening shadows and a muffling charm to hide him.

He stood in the shadows and watched while Remus waited for Gudgeon; he stood in the shadows and watched while they talked. His fingers itched while they didn't touch, while Remus looked serious and Gudgeon looked sad, when Gudgeon stepped around Remus and walked away. There was something in the set of Remus' shoulders, then, something that screamed defeat, and it made a weight settle, hot and sickening, in Sirius' stomach. He was—Remus was—and this was what he'd wanted, but he hadn't realised, and oh, Sirius wondered, would Remus ever feel like that for him, not because of him.

Snape caught him off-guard before he'd recovered himself enough to leave.

"So Lupin's queer and you like to watch?" he drawled. "My, my, Black. Such paragons they're producing in Gryffindor these days."

Sirius bared his teeth in something like a growl.

----------


From the window on the third floor landing, Sirius can see all of Grimmauld Place without being seen, grimy glass hiding him even if enchantment doesn't. He watches Remus leave the house, pause at the foot of the steps to tuck a worn briefcase more securely under his arm, before striding off across the grey concrete of the square.

Sirius can't be seen, but he thinks Remus knows he's watching anyway. It doesn't matter. Remus is still leaving, and Sirius is always getting left behind.

----------


Later, Sirius told himself that it all happened too fast for him to stop, for him to intervene, that he hadn't really known what he was doing. He told himself that, and he knew it was a lie, but it was the only way he could make himself stay in the headmaster's office. It was always uncomfortable to sit there, to wait on hard wooden chairs for that curious mixture of anger and compassion which marked Dumbledore at his most terrible; but it was unbearable now, to know that Remus was sitting next to him. To know what he had done to Remus.

Sirius looked down at his hands, marked with cuts and bruises, bleeding where he had unconsciously picked at the cuticles; there was nowhere else to look. Look up, and he would see how Remus surely refused to look back at him; look up, and he would see the Whomping Willow through the window; look up, and he would see his own reflection in the glass.

He hadn't meant for this. He wanted to punch something.

He sat there, quietly, and he waited.

----------


"Have you heard anything from Remus lately?" Molly asks one morning. She's working several different charms at once, brewing tea and buttering thick slices of fresh, hot toast and making sure that the floor under the table is swept; her attention is divided, but she's still focused on him.

Motherly, Sirius thinks.

"No," he says.

----------


Later, much later, Sirius says "I'm sorry." It hurts to say, and the words feel awkward in his mouth, but he has to say it, has to know. "Why?"

"Sirius—"

"Why?" Sirius says, and he's shaking, and asking him a thousand thousand things.

"Because," Remus says, and pulls Sirius to him, "You." Sirius shivers, and lets Remus kiss the corner of his eye, his cheekbone, his mouth; lets Remus in; and lets himself hope, just that little bit more.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-22 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kenazfiction.livejournal.com
Oh, this is just wonderful!

I love that you opened with another stanza of the Graves poem-- it just works beautifully.

The original, while not always in Remus' POV, was incredibly sympathetic to Remus, and your remix shifts our sympathies to Sirius, which makes it a wonderful companion piece. I also enjoy all the glimpses of their future, which is not always a particularly happy one-- which is why I have always found this pairing to be so compelling. I particularly like that each scene steps seemlessly outof the one that preceeds it, at the same time either thrusting us into the future or pulling us back to the past. The ending is stunning-- it brings them full circle, and reminds us that the trust between them has always been a tenuous and difficult thing.


A lovely job all around-- I'm positively thrilled by it! Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 07:40 pm (UTC)
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (MWPP)
From: [personal profile] such_heights
Such lovely writing! I love all of the surpressed tension in this, and the jumping through time. And the idea of the acoustic corridor is utterly fabulous, very imaginative! Enjoyed a lot =)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-24 04:03 am (UTC)
ext_38381: (done this before)
From: [identity profile] melandry.livejournal.com
Ouch. But in a good way.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riko.livejournal.com
Oh, I love this. Absolutely love this. I love that it makes perfect sense, flows perfectly, while still being jumbled and only snatches of the whole story.

I like that you chose to let us figure out certain parts for ourselves; I love the parts that you chose to show us. So skillful, all the way through!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 09:11 pm (UTC)
siria: (hp - my house)
From: [personal profile] siria
Oh, thank you so very much! :">

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sheafrotherdon.livejournal.com
I adore this - love the lyricism of every phrase, the jumbled quality of memories intersectiing. And most of all I love the very end, the hopefulness and connection summed up in "You." This story made me remember why I love Remus and Sirius, made my heart ache for them and made me smile as if I'd discovered something precious, something to treasure.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 09:37 pm (UTC)
siria: (hp - my house)
From: [personal profile] siria
I ♥ you excessively, Miss Cate. :"> :">

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dogeared.livejournal.com
Oh, oh, the hope in the last section is so palpable and desperate—and "Because," Remus says, and pulls Sirius to him, "You." Sirius shivers, and lets Remus kiss the corner of his eye, his cheekbone, his mouth; lets Remus in; and lets himself hope, just that little bit more is so, so beautiful—all those might-have-beens, and those touches like a blessing, oh my heart! This is such, such a lovely piece, and the craft of it, the language, just stun me, as always.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 10:07 pm (UTC)
siria: (misc - step forward)
From: [personal profile] siria
*meeps quietly* Thank you, honey ♥

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